Quarterly Review: Bellrope, Cracked Machine, The Sky Giants, Sacred Monster, High ‘n’ Heavy, Warlung, Rogue Conjurer, Monovine, Un & Coltsblood, La Grande Armée

Posted in Reviews on March 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Six. Not that there wasn’t a bit of a crunch along the way, but I definitely think this Quarterly Review was aided by the fact that I dug so much of what I was writing about on a personal-taste level. You get through it one way or the other, but it just makes it more fun. Today is the last day and then it’s back to something approaching normal tomorrow, but of course before this thing is rounded out I want to thank you as always for taking the time and for reading if you did. It means a tremendous amount to me to put words out and have people see them, so thank you for your part in that.

This could’ve easily gone seven or eight or 10 days if scheduling had permitted, but here’s as good a place to leave it. The next one will probably be the first week of July or thereabouts, so keep an eye out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Bellrope, You Must Relax

bellrope you must relax

How much noise can your brain take? I don’t mean noise like start-stop riffs and dudes shouting. I mean actual, abrasive, amelodic noise. Bellrope, with ex-members of the underrated Black Shape of Nexus start their Exile on Mainstream-delivered debut album, You Must Relax, with three minutes of chaff-separation they’re calling “Hollywood 2001/Rollrost.” It’s downright caustic. Fortunately, what follows on the four subsequent extended tracks devotes itself to lumbering post-sludge that’s at least accessible by comparison. “Old Overholt” is the only other inclusion under 10 minutes as the tracks are arranged shortest to longest with the 17:57 “CBD/Hereinunder” concluding. The thickened tones brought to bear throughout “Old Overholt” and the blend of screams and growls that accompany are more indicative of what follows on the centerpiece title-track and the penultimate “TD2000,” but the German four-piece still manage to sound plenty fucked throughout. Just not painfully so. There’s something threatening about the use of the word “must” in the album’s title. The songs realize that threat.

Bellrope on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Cracked Machine, The Call of the Void

Cracked Machine The Call of the Void

Here be dragons. Though its core tonality is still within the bounds of heavy rock, Wiltshire, UK, four-piece bring a far more atmospheric and progressive style to fruition on their second album, The Call of the Void, than it might at first appear. With post-rock float to the guitar of Bill Denton, keyboard textures from Clive Noyes, and fluid rhythms carried through changes in volume and ambience from bassist Christ Sutton and drummer Blazej Gradziel, the PsyKA Records outfit present a cerebral seven tracks/47 minutes of immersive and seemingly conceptual work, with opener “Jormungandr” establishing the context in which each song that follows is named for a different culture’s dragon, whether it’s the Hittite “Illuyanka,” Japan’s “Yamata No Orochi” or the Persian “Azi Dahakar.” Cracked Machine use this theme to tie pieces together, and they push farther out as the record unfolds late with “Typhon” and “Vritra” a closing pair of marked scope. The shortest cut, the earlier 5:14 “Kirimu,” has probably the most straightforward push, but Cracked Machine demonstrate an ability to adapt to the needs of whatever idea they’re working to convey.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records webstore

 

The Sky Giants, The Shifting of Phaseworld

the sky giants the shifting of phaseworld

Taking cues from psychedelia almost as much as jangly West Coast noise and punk, Tacoma, Washington’s The Sky Giants offer the 10-track sophomore outing The Shifting of Phaseworld, which finds a balance in songs like “Dream Receiver” between progressive heavy rock and its rawer foundations. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Jake Frye, bassist Jessie Avery and drummer/vocalist/engineer/graphic artist Peter Tietjen are comfortable tipping from one side to the other between and within songs, starting off with the shove of “Technicolor Kaleidoscope” and getting mathy on the later “Half Machine” ahead of the chunkier-riffed “Rhyme and the Flame,” which somehow touches on classic punk even as it hones a wash of distortion that that has to cut through. Closing each side with a longer track in the rolling, airy “Solid State” (6:53) and the frenetic ending of “Simian” (7:38), The Sky Giants stake out a sonic terrain very much their own throughout The Shifting of Phaseworld and only seem to expand their territory as they go.

The Sky Giants on Thee Facebooks

The Sky Giants on Bandcamp

 

Sacred Monster, Worship the Weird

sacred monster worship the weird

Topped off by the ace screams of vocalist Adam Szczygiel, who taps his inner Devin Townsend circa Strapping Young Lad on “High Confessor” and “Re-Animator,” Sacred Monster‘s debut album, Worship the Weird would seem to cull together elements of Orange Goblin and Bongzilla for a kind of classic-metal-aware sludge rock, the riffs of Robert Nubel not at all shy about digging into aggressive vibes to go with the layers of growls and throatrippers and the occasional King Diamond-esque falsetto, as on “Waverly Hills,” as bassist Guillermo Moreno and drummer Ted Nubel bolster that feel with tight turns and duly driven bottom end. I’ll take “Face of My Father” as a highlight, if only for the excruciating sound of Szczygiel‘s screech, but the swing in closer “Maze of Dreams” has an appeal of its own, and as a Twilight Zone and a Shatner fan, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” offers its own charm.

Sacred Monster on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Monster on Bandcamp

 

High n’ Heavy, Warrior Queen

high n heavy warrior queen

Shades of grunge and skate-fuzz fuckall pervade the Sabbathian grooves of High n’ Heavy‘s second album, Warrior Queen, as guitarist John Steele works some doomly keys into second cut “Shield Maiden” and vocalist Kris Fortin moves in and out of throaty shouts on side B’s “Lydia.” They thrash out in the noisy “Catapult” and Nick Perrone‘s drums seem to bounce even in the longer-winded “Lands Afar” and closer “Smell of Decay / Wings and Claw,” on which Mike Dudley‘s rumble backs classically metallic shred in the lead guitar after offering likewise support to the piano in the early going of “Join the Day.” Released through Electric Valley Records, the eight-song/36-minute LP comes across as raw but not without purpose in that, and its blend of tonal thickness and the blend of thrust and nod does well to ensure High n’ Heavy remain unpredictable while also living up to the standard of their moniker. There’s potential here that’s worth further exploration on the part of the band.

High n’ Heavy on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Warlung, Immortal Portal

Warlung Immortal Portal

Houston, Texas, four-piece make a quick case for the attention of Ripple Music on their sophomore outing, Immortal Portal, which is slickly-but-not-too-slickly produced and sharply-but-not-too-sharply executed, a professional sensibility in “Black Horse Pike” and the subsequent “The Palm Reader” — which manages to be influenced melodically by Uncle Acid without sounding just like them — ahead of the ’80s metallurgy of “Heart of a Sinner” and the reference-packed “1970.” “We All Die in the End” gives an uptempo swing to the opening salvo ahead of the more brooding “Between the Dark and the Light,” but Warlung hold firm to clearly-presented melodies and riff-led rhythms no matter where they seem to go in mood or otherwise. That ties the drift of the later “Heavy Echoes” to the earlier material and makes the harmony-laced “No Son of Mine” and the organ-ic proggy sprawling finale “Coal Minors” all the more effective in reaching beyond where the album started, so that the listener winds up in a different landscape than they started, still grounded, but changed nonetheless.

Warlung on Thee Facebooks

Warlung on Bandcamp

 

Rogue Conjurer, Of the Goddess / Crystal Mountain Lives

rogue conjurer of the goddess

Originally released digitally by the Baltimore-based unit in 2017, the two-songer Of the Goddess / Crystal Mountain Lives sees pressing as an ultra-limited tape via Damien Records and finds the three-piece of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Tonie Joy, drummer Colin Seven and organist Donny Van Zandt — since replaced by Trevor Shipley — honing a psychedelic take on doomly riffs and groove. “Crystal Mountain Lives” has a more distinct nod to its central progression, with a wah-drenched break and greater overall largesse of fuzz, but “Of the Goddess” brings an effective almost shoegazing sense to its downer spirit. The first track is also longer, so it has more time to move from that initial impression to its own payoff, but either way you go, Rogue Conjurer bring out their dead ably on the tape, showing influences from heavy psych and beyond as “Of the Goddess” winds its way to its close and “Crystal Mountain Lives” begins its fade-in all over again. No pretense, but a broad range that would allow for some if they wanted.

Rogue Conjurer on Instagram

Damien Records on Bandcamp

 

Monovine, D.Y.E

monovine dye

Athens heavy rockers Monovine wear their grunge influence proudly on their third full-length, D.Y.E, issued late in 2018 digitally with an early 2019 vinyl release. It’s writ large in the Nirvana-ism of the slurring “Mellow” at the outset and remains a factor through the melodies of “Void” and the later punkery of “Messed Up” or “Ring a Bell,” as well as the toying-with-pop “Me (Raphe Nuclei)” and “Your Figure Smells,” but where Monovine succeed in making that influence their own is by filtering it through a fuzzier presentation. The guitar and bass tones keep a modern heavy feel, and as the drums roll and crash through songs like “For a Sun” and “Why Don’t You Shoot Me in the Head,” that makes a difference in the overall impression the album leaves. Still, there’s little question as to their central point of inspiration, and they bring it out in homage and as a fairly honed mode of expression on closer “Haunt,” which teases an explosion in its melancholy strum and then… well, don’t let me spoil it.

Monovine on Thee Facebooks

Monovine on Bandcamp

 

Un & Coltsblood, Split

un coltsblood split

A festering 42 minutes of lurching agonies, Un and Coltsblood‘s split taps the best of modern death-doom’s emotionalism and bent toward extremity. Billed as a “tribute to grief: the final act of love,” it brings just two tracks, one per band, as Coltsblood open with “Snows of the Winter Realm” and Un follow with “Every Fear Illuminated.” Both bands proffer a terrifyingly weighted plod and offset it with a spacious ambience, whether it’s Un departing their grueling nod after about six and a half minutes only to build back up over the next six and grow more ferocious until devolving into noise and slamming crashes ahead of an outro of echoing, needs-a-tune-sounding piano, or Coltsblood fostering their own tonal brutalism and casting their lot with death and black metal while a current of airy guitar seems to mourn the song even as it plays out. Each cut is a monument built to loss, and their purpose in conveying that theme is both what unites them and what makes their work so ultimately consuming, as grief is.

Un on Thee Facebooks

Coltsblood on Thee Facebooks

 

La Grande Armée, La Grande Armée

La Grande Armée La Grande Armée

The blend of drifting guitar and psychedelic wash on opener “El Canto de las Ballenas” earns La Grande Armée‘s self-titled debut three-song EP immediate favor, and the patient execution they bring to the subsequent “Tripa Intergaláctica” and “Normandía,” particularly the latter, only furthers that appeal. The Chilean trio keep a decidedly natural feel to the exploratory-seeming work, and if this is them finding their sound, they seem happy to do it by losing themselves in their jams. All the better someone thought to press record, since although there’s clearly some trajectory behind the progression of songs — i.e., they know at least to a degree where they want to end up — the process of getting there comes across as spontaneous. Guitar pans channels as bass and drums hold down languid flow, and even in the more active midsection of “Tripa Intergaláctica,” La Grande Armée there’s a sense that it’s more about the space being created than the construction under way. In any case, wherever they want to head next, they would seem to have the means of travel at their disposal.

La Grande Armée on Thee Facebooks

La Grande Armée on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: 11PARANOIAS, Robot Lords of Tokyo, The Riven, High Reeper, Brujas del Sol, Dead Witches, Automaton, Llord, Sweet Jonny, Warp

Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day three. Cruisin’. Oh, another 10 reviews to write? Yeah, no problem. I’m on it.

Okay, maybe a little less that and a little more be banging my head against the wall of sound, but the point is we — you and I — move forward anyhow. The Quarterly Review continues today with the third batch, which at the end will bring us to the halfway point, 30 of the total 60 records done, and that always feels like an occasion. Also helps that it’s a pretty good batch of stuff, so let’s not waste time with formalities, right?

Quarterly Review #21-30:

11PARANOIAS, Asterismal

11paranoias asterismal

It’s a freakout, but not the good kind. More like a panic attack happening in slow motion on another dimensional plane. The masters of murk, 11PARANOIAS return through their own Ritual Productions imprint with Asterismal, collecting/conjuring upwards of nine tracks and 73 minutes of material depending on in which format one encounters it. The core of the outing is the six-song/45-minute vinyl edition, and that’s plenty fucked enough, to be honest, as bassist/vocalist Adam Richardson (Ramesses), guitarist Mike Vest (Bong) and drummer Nathan Perrier (ex-Capricorns) unfurl a grim psychedelic fog across songs like opener “Loss Portal” and tap into The Heads-style swirl on “Bloodless Crush” only to turn it malevolent in the process. The 12-minute “Quantitative Immortalities” finds Vest in the forward position as it summarizes the stretch of doom, psych, and bizarre atmosphere that’s utterly 11PARANOIAS‘ own, and that’s before you get into the experimental and sometimes caustic work on the CD/digital-only “Acoustic Mirror” (10:35) and “Acoustic Mirror II” (15:08), which both rise from minimalist bass to become a willful test of endurance only a select few will pass. All the better.

11PARANOIAS on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Rise Robot Rise

Robot Lords of Tokyo Rise Robot Rise

Was there ever any doubt Robot Lords of Tokyo could do it on their own? Not if you ever listened to Robot Lords of Tokyo, there wasn’t. The Columbus, Ohio-based outfit built a reputation in the earlier part of the decade by bringing guests onto their records, but their new EP and first outing in half a decade, Rise Robot Rise, features five songs of just the band itself, with founders Rick Ritzler (drums) and Paul Jones (vocals) joined by bassist Joe Viers and guitarists Steve Theado and Beau VanBibber. Their last outing was the 2013 full-length Virtue and Vice (review here), but they seem in “In the Shadows” and “Looking for the Sun” to come into their own with Jones bringing a John Bush-type edge to the hook of “Looking for the Sun” and echoing out a bit on centerpiece “Hell Camino,” which boasts not the band’s first nod to Clutch. With opener “In the Shadows” setting the tone for an undercurrent of metal, “My Aching Eyes” and “Terminus” pay that off without losing their rock edge and thereby highlight just how much force has always been in the core lineup to start with.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo at CDBaby

 

The Riven, The Riven

The Riven The Riven

Issued by The Sign Records, the self-titled debut from Sweden’s The Riven (also discussed here) hones in on classic heavy rock but never actually quite tips all the way into vintage-ism. It sounds like a minor distinction until you put the record on and hear the acoustic guitar lines deep in the mix of “Far Beyond” or the echoing vocal layers in the second half of the later “Fortune Teller” and realize that The Riven are outright refusing to sacrifice audio fidelity for aesthetic. There’s no shortage of shuffle to be had, rest assured, but The Riven are less concerned with aping traditionalism than updating it, and while they’re not the first to do so, the fact that on their first record they’re already working to put their stamp on the established genre parameters bodes well, as does the bluesy float of “I Remember” and the mellow vibing early in “Finnish Woods.”

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, Higher Reeper

high reeper higher reeper

Philadelphia exports High Reeper offer their second full-length through Heavy Psych Sounds in Higher Reeper, upping the stakes from their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) in more than just title. In the intervening two years, the five-piece have toured extensively, and it shows in the pacing and general craft of the eight songs/38 minutes here, from the perfectly-timed nod at the end of “Buried Alive” to the face-slap proto-trash riff that starts the subsequent “Bring the Dead,” from the mountaintop echoes of “Obsidian Peaks” (note the “Hole in the Sky” riff rearing its head) to the howling roll through “Plague Hag” and into six-minute closer “Barbarian,” as High Reeper hone elements of doom to go with their biker rock sleaze. Stellar guitar is a running theme beginning with opener “Eternal Leviathan,” and Higher Reeper quickly proves that if you thought the debut had potential, you were right.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brujas del Sol, II

brujas del sol ii

if the 6:40 album opener “Teenage Hitchhiker” from Brujas del Sol‘s Kozmik Artifactz-delivered II makes anything plain, it’s that the songs that follow on the seven-track/43-minute outing are going to pay attention to texture. Still about half-instrumental, the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece veer from that modus with “Sisterlace,” the New Wave-y “Fringe of Senility,” the delightfully dream-toned “White Lights,” and the final Floydian section of closer “Spiritus,” adding vocals for the first time and leaving one wondering what took them so long. Nonetheless, the winding lines and later subtly furious drums of “Sea Rage” and the scorching leads of the penultimate “Polara” bring the proggy mindset of the band that much more forward, and if II is transitional, well, it was going to be anyway, because a band like this never stops growing or challenging themselves. They certainly do here, and the results are an accomplishment more than worth continuing to build upon.

Brujas del Sol on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Dead Witches, The Final Exorcism

dead witches the final exorcism

The centerpiece of Dead Witches‘ sophomore album, The Final Exorcism, is a play on ’60s psych-garage-folk that asks “When Do the Dead See the Sun?,” and the rest of the LP that surrounds provides the answer: The sun isn’t showing up anytime soon, for the dead or otherwise. After issuing their first full-length, Ouija (discussed here), in 2017, the multinational horror-cinema doomers brought aboard vocalist Soozi Chameleone alongside drummer Mark Greening (Ramesses, ex-Electric Wizard), bassist Carl Geary and guitarist Oliver Irongiant, and one might be tempted to think of The Final Exorcism as a kind of second debut were it not for the fact that it’s so cohesive in its approach. With Greening‘s swinging march at the foundation, cuts like the title-track and “The Church by the Sea” stomp out thick-toned and grainy organic creep, plundering through the cacophonous “Lay Demon” en route to the abyssal plod of “Fear the Priest” at the end, fearsome in purpose and realization and hopefully not at all “final.” Like any good horror franchise, there’s always room for another sequel.

Dead Witches on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Automaton, TALOS

automaton talos

It was hard to know where Automaton were headed after they remixed their debut EP, Echoes of Mount Ida (review here), and released it in LP format with two additional tracks. The original version was raw and weighted, the remix spacious and psychedelic. With TALOS, their first proper long-player (on Sound Effect Records), they answer the question with seven songs/48 minutes of expansive and richly atmospheric post-metal, seeming to take from all sides and shift their focus between crushing with dense tones on 11-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Trapped in Darkness,” as well as the frantically drummed “Automaton Marching,” “The Punisher” or the end stage of “Talos Awakens” and honing more of a varied and atmospheric approach throughout the sample-laced “Giant of Steel,” the drifting “Submerged Again” and the minimalist acoustic-led closer “Epilogue,” all the while donning both an overarching concept and a new level of production value to bolster their presentation. It is a significant step forward on multiple fronts.

Automaton website

Sound Effect Records website

 

Llord, Cumbria

llord cumbria

Raging and experimental, the rumble-laden Barcelona duo Llord make their full-length debut on Féretro Records with Cumbria, which culls together five punishing-but-still-atmospheric tracks of plod and drive as bassist Aris and drummer David share vocal duties and bludgeoning responsibilities alike. Ill-intentioned from the get-go with the two-minute “Adtrita Sententia,” Cumbria unfurls its 29-minute run like a descent into low-end madness, varying speed and the amount of samples involved and bringing in some guest gralla on “Brega” and closer “Kendal/Crewe,” but finding itself in a consistent tonal mire all the same, shouts reverberating upward from it as through trying to claw their way up during the collapse of earth beneath their feet. It is brutal — an extreme vision of atmospheric sludge that makes the concept of a guitar riffing overtop seem like an indulgence that would only dull the impact of the proceedings as they are, which is formidable.

Llord on Bandcamp

Féretro Records on Bandcamp

 

Sweet Jonny, Sweet Jonny

sweet jonny sweet jonny

I can’t claim to be an expert on the ways of Britpunk classic or modern, but UK swagger-purveyors Sweet Jonny weave a heaping dose of snearing attitude into their self-titled, self-release debut album’s 12 tracks, and it comes set up next to a garage rock fuckall that isn’t necessarily contradicted by the actual tightness of the songwriting, given the context in which they’re working. “American Psycho,” well, that’s about American Psycho. “Sick in the Summer?” Well, guess that could be taken multiple ways, but somebody’s sick in any case. You see where this is going, but Sweet Jonny bring character and addled-punk charm to their storytelling lyrics and barebones arrangements of fucked-up guitar, bass and drums. I don’t know what the punkers are into these days, but the vibe here is rude in the classic sense and they bring a good time feel to “Superpunch” and “It Matters Not” — which stretches past the four-minute mark(!) — so what the hell? I’m up for something different.

Sweet Jonny on Thee Facebooks

Sweet Jonny website

 

Warp, Warp

warp warp

If the approval stamp of Nasoni Records isn’t enough to get you on board — and it should be, frankly — the Sabbathian lowercase-‘g’ ghost rock Warp proffer on their self-titled debut is bound to turn heads among the converted. The Tel Aviv-based outfit tear through eight tracks in a crisp, bitingly fuzzed 28 minutes, taking on classic boogie and doom alike before they’re even through opener “Wretched.” They get bonus points for calling their noise interlude “‘Confusion Will Be My Epitaph’ Will Be My Epitaph,’ as well as for the shuffle of “Gone Man” that precedes it and the stomp of “Intoxication” that comes after, the latter a rhythmic complement to the central progression of second cut “Into My Life,” which only departs that snare-snare-snare to soar for a dual-layered solo. Hard not to dig the space-punk edge of “Hey Little Rich Boy II” and the throttled-back stoner nod of closer “Enter the Void,” which is done in under five minutes and still finds room for the album’s best stop-and-crash. Fucking a.

Warp on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records webstore

 

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Sadhus Post “Sobbing Children” Official Live Video Filmed in Athens

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sadhus (Photo by Marianna Rous)

Yes, this will do nicely, thank you. Greek sludge metallers Sadhus, The Smoking Community released their sophomore full-length, Big Fish (review here), during the pre-holiday doldrums of late-2018. Maybe you heard it. Maybe you haven’t yet. Either way, the Athens-based outfit took it upon themselves to loose a willfully atrocious barrage of aggro riffing and aggro everything else across the record’s 33 minutes, and they still managed to keep some underlying groove befitting their ‘The Smoking Community’ designation. Right on? Yeah, right on.

I’ll probably never get to see this band live. They’re an awfully far way from me, geographically speaking, and while I’ve been fortunate enough to do some traveling in my time, ain’t nobody breaking the door down to fly me to Athens for a show. As such, seeing the multi-camera, pro-shot video for “Sobbing Children” from Big Fish only underscores the reasons to dig on Sadhus. Their sound comes across raw and mean in its delivery, and has the unmistakable energy of a stage performance behind it. I guess I’m old enough that I still think this kind of thing is really awesome. Even back when videos were on tv, bands rarely did live clips, and most full-concert videos are boring as hell. Something like this is between the two. It lets you know what you’re missing by not showing up to the gig and it still represents what the band were going for when the put together Big Fish as a whole. It might not be a novelty at this point, but even a multi-cam live shoot is more effort than a lot of bands put into making videos, and “Sobbing Children” — the lyrics to which were surely presciently based on my yesterday afternoon — legitimately looks well made.

Most important of all, Sadhus own the stage. The show was back in December, right around the time of the album’s release, so for all I know it was actually the release show, which would explain why they seem to be having such a good time amidst all that slaughter. Either way, it’s a cool clip of a cool song and it’s fitting well under the banner of “current mood” for yours truly, so have at it.

Enjoy:

Sadhus, The Smoking Community, “Sobbing Children” official live video

Sadhus, The Smoking Community – Sobbing Children from the album “Big Fish” released by Fuzz Ink· Records (FZZ010)

Recorded & filmed live at Temple, Athens, 8 Dec. 2018

Filmed by Steve Kekis, Alex Masmanidis, Ilias Moschovas
Edit by Steve Kekis
Production House: GNP Productions

Recorded by George Giannikos
Mixed & Mastered by Dimitris Metaxakis

FOH Engineer : Dimitris Metaxakis
Lighting Engineer : Ismini Starida

Sadhus, the Smoking Community on Thee Facebooks

Sadhus, the Smoking Community on Bandcamp

Fuzz Ink Records on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records on Bandcamp

Fuzz Ink Records website

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Naxatras Announce European Dates en Route to Desertfest Berlin & London

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

naxatras (Photo by Dan Deutsch)

Greek heavy psych forerunners Naxatras will head out on a run of European shows this April in order to make their way to Desertfest in Berlin and London. They also played Desertfest Belgium this past Fall, as well as other fests, and the fact that they’re getting out again really only underscores their ascent to a forward position with the Euro underground. Their third album,  III (review here), came out last year, and they put out a recording of the release show for that record in the form of Live at Gagarin 205, which you can stream below, but I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if the analog-obsessed three-piece managed to get something else to the public before Spring comes. They haven’t announced anything in that regard or anything like that, but they’re sneaky sometimes and they’ve dropped EPs in the past with little prior notice, so as they’re hitting the road again, it’s worth keeping an eye out.

The tour is presented by Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug and will begin in Barcelona on April 17 and finish at Desertfest in London on May 5, covering a decent swath of ground between. Word came out on the social medias like so:

naxatras euro tour

*** NAXATRAS EUROPEAN TOUR 2019 ***

On the road again!

This time, we’re visiting lots of unexplored territories, including cities in Spain, Portugal and the Scandinavian Peninsula! Brace yourselves, spring is coming…

Poster by CHRIS RW
Powered by Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug ^^

17/4 – BARCELONA (ES) – ROCKSOUND
18/4 – MADRID (ES) – SIROCO
19/4 – LISBON (PT) – RCA CLUB
20/4 – PORTO (PT) – HARD CLUB
21/4 – SAN SEBASTIAN (ES) – DABADABA
22/4 – TOULOUSE (FR) – L’USINE A MUSIQUE
24/4 – TBC
25/4 – TBC
26/4 – MUNSTER (DE) – RARE GUITAR
27/4 – FRANKFURT (DE) – DAS BETT
30/4 – STOCKHOLM (SWE) – NALEN
01/5 – MALMÖ (SWE) – PLAN B
02/5 – COPENHAGEN (DK) – STENGADE
03/5 – HAMBURG (DE) – STUBNITZ
04/5 – BERLIN (DE) – DESERTFEST
05/5 – LONDON (UK) – DESERTFEST

Naxatras is:
John Delias – Guitar
Kostas Harizanis – Drums
John Vagenas – Bass & Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/naxatras/
https://naxatras.bandcamp.com/

Naxatras, Live Rituals at Gagarin 205 (2018)

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Dr. Awkward and the Screws Premiere “Doomed” Lyric Video; Gettin’ Out of Style out Feb. 18

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dr awkward and the screws

That’s certainly one way to win at band names. Dr. Awkward and the Screws, based in Athens, will release their debut full-length, Gettin’ Out of Style, next month. The four-piece issued a self-titled EP in 2017, and that was loaded with boogie and good vibes, but if the track premiering below, “Doomed,” is anything to go by, they’re exploring some darker fare on their long-player. And by the way, I have no idea if “Doomed” is anything to go by or not. And having listened to the EP, I wouldn’t try to predict one way or the other. A classic-style influence persists between the EP and the new track, but the context of that has changed significantly, and there’s enough quirk to go around in their approach that it may well be “Doomed” is an outlier chosen to be a single in an effort to throw listeners off. I’m not saying Dr. Awkward and the Screws can’t be trusted, but, well, okay, yeah, I guess I am saying that. But hey, sometimes unreliable narrators are fun.

And “Doomed,” while more grim of attitude than the three-songer the band released two years ago, is still fun. Whatever might surround it on the LP to come, it seems likely to carry that thread. Bassist Greg has an almost early-thrash style to his vocals, or scum-punk since it’s essentially the same either way, and the riffs he tops from guitarists John and Kostas tap into proto-metallic vibes through clean tones that run organically over the crashing of Thoukydidis‘ drums. “Doomed” is a quick listen at 3:28, which is shorter than anything that appeared on the self-titled, so that may be another clue to an aesthetic shift, or it may not. Like I said, not knowing is part of the appeal. While we’re on the topic of known-unknowns, the release date for Gettin’ Out of Style is set for Feb. 18-25. It’s a release week. Somewhere in there. I would assume it’ll be out before March, just to play it safe.

Hey, it’s Friday. Lighten up and enjoy being “Doomed.”

Have at it:

Dr. Awkward and the Screws, “Doomed” official lyric video

Doomed is the single of the upcoming album ” Gettin’ out of Style “.
Release date: February 18-25 , 2019

Credits:
Recorded by S_FX & Greg Konstantaras at Ritual Studios , Athens , Greece
Mastered by S_FX at Ritual Studios , Athens ,Greece
Artwork by Manster Design

Dr. Awkward & The Screws is a 70s rock – heavy blues band from Greece. In the January of 2017 their homonym EP was released and they made their first professional move. Slowly, steadily, and strongly they have already played in “Gyftopoulou Street fest” with: Vodka Juniors, Wherswilder, 7 odds, and Overjoyed. Furthermore, they have played in a really appraising appearance in “Kyttaro” as a support band for Imperial State Electric – of the legendary Nicke Andersson.

Dr. Awkward and the Screws:
Greg – Vocals / Bass Guitar
John – Guitar
Kostas – Guitar
Thoukydidis – Drums

Dr. Awkward and the Screws on Thee Facebooks

Dr. Awkward and the Screws on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk Presents: 1000mods First-Ever Australian Tour

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on January 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

1000mods (Photo by Cristina Alossi)

Last year, I was fortunate enough to be asked to stand among the presenters for Greek heavy rock forerunners 1000mods‘ first US tour, and no joke, it was an absolute honor. Over the last decade-plus, the four-piece have become an essential piece of the European heavy underground, and their 2016 album, Repeated Exposure To… (review here), only worked to increase their profile, it was the best-case-scenario to watch that manifest in their conquering new territory and places they hadn’t been before. Had nothing to do with me, but on a watching-hard-work-pay-off level, it was a joy to see.

The trend continues in 2019 as 1000mods come closer to wrapping the cycle for Repeated Exposure To… by hitting Australia for the first time. They’ll head that way in April to appear at the Mojo Burning Festival on April 6 in Brisbane, and with dates slotted for before and after, they’ll cover a good amount of ground on the 10-day run. The Obelisk isn’t the only presenter, of course, but to even have a logo on the bottom of the poster for this one is humbling, and I thank Beats Cartel for the opportunity.

Listen to 1000mods. Go see 1000mods. It’s as simple as that.

I wanted to include the full tour announcement here for posterity, so you’ll find that below, but specifically note that tickets are on sale now. Links are provided with the dates.

Go go go:

1000MODS

GREECE’S 1000MODS ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER AUSTRALIAN TOUR

TIX ON SALE NOW

Greece’s 1000mods bring their psychedelic onslaught to Australia this April, touring nationally on the back of a Mojo Burning festival appearance.

Having risen from smokey basements to packed arenas, leaders of the now-legendary Greek heavy rock scene 1000mods offer inspired, powerful and uniquely fresh tunes having shared the stage with some of the world’s largest acts including The Black Keys, Mastodon, The Black Angels and Graveyard. The last few years have included a slew of sold out venues across Central Europe, Scandinavia, Britain, the US, Canada and Mexico on the back of their thick and heavy analogue sound and relentless touring schedule.

Described as having live ‘flawless flow’ (Soundgaze), the Greek Stoner lords have become known for remarkably passionate stage performances and soccer stadium-like crowd sing-a-longs amidst international festival appearances at Hellfest Open Air, Desertfest (Athens, Belgium, London and Berlin), Up in Smoke, Riff Ritual and many others including a recent sold out home show (3500 capacity) at renowned Athens venue Theatro Vrachon (PIC). This is a Rock band on the verge of international stardom who are widely considered to be the new-found power of the European (some say “worldwide”) heavy rock scene.

Album releases Super Van Vacation, Vultures (2014) and Repeated Exposure To… (2016) have netted the band one hundred thousand fans and kudos world wide, chalking up over 30 million track views on YouTube.

The 2019 Australian Tour, covering shows in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Geelong, Adelaide, Perth and Scarborough, marks the first time the band have ventured onto Australian shores, a task not taken lightly by the band or promoter Christian Tryhorn of Beats Cartel who says of the upcoming tour “We’re long term fans of 1000mods and are excited to now be in the position of bringing them into the country for the first time. Their raw power and riffage is some of the best in the world, each album gets better with every listen! Can’t wait to show the people of Australia one of the best live acts in Europe”.

1000mods will also be a part of an upcoming feature length documentary entitled ‘Greek Rock Revolution’, a tale of the rising Rock scene in Greece amidst nation-wide economic turmoil. The documentary will be released in March and also features Tuber, Naxatras, Puta Volcano, Planet of Zeus and more.

Heavier than life, psychedelic, trippy, hauntingly melodic and dangerously addictive, catch 1000mods live in Australia for the first time ever, travelling East to West for Beats Cartel and HEAVY Mag. With tour help from Young Henrys, Maric Media, Orange Amplifiers, The Obelisk and Tuff Cuff Records.

1000MODS 2019 AUSTRALIAN TOUR

Wednesday April 03 CANBERRA The Basement  PURCHASE

Thursday April 04 SYDNEY Factory Floor  PURCHASE

Friday Apr 05 MELBOURNE Stay Gold  PURCHASE

Saturday April 06 BRISBANE Mojo Burning Festival  PURCHASE
Feat. Tumbleweed, The Vasco Era, Lachy Doley, King of the North and more

Sunday April 07 GEELONG The Barwon Club PURCHASE

Thursday April 11 ADELAIDE Crown and Anchor  PURCHASE

Friday April 12 PERTH Lucy’s Love Shack  PURCHASE

Saturday April 13 SCARBOROUGH Indi Bar  PURCHASE

*All show details and on-sale tickets at www.beatscartel.com/tickets

1000mods is:
Dani G. / Bass & Vox
Giannis S. / Guitars
George T. / Guitars
Labros G. / Drums

https://www.facebook.com/1000mods/
https://1000mods.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/1000mods

1000mods, Repeated Exposure To… (2016)

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Godsleep, Coming of Age: Silence for the Kingdom

Posted in Reviews on January 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

godsleep coming of age

Call a record Coming of Age and you’re setting yourself up for an expectation of maturity. Godsleep, who released their debut, Thousand Sons of Sleep (review here), in 2015, do indeed solidify elements of their approach that very much worked in their favor the first time around on this The Lab Records/Threechords Records follow-up. Tracks like “Unlearn” and “N.O.U” desert-cruise with the best of ’em, and with returning producer George Leodis (also 1000mods), there’s a consistency between the two records in terms of the quality and depth of their fuzz and general tonal weight. However, while there’s some holdover on this level and in terms of the overarching quality of songwriting, the band’s ability to offset push-forward groove with more patient stretches, a new vocalist is inherently going to do much to change the character of any release. Godsleep are Coming of Age with Amie Makris fronting the band with guitarist Johnny Tsoumas, bassist Fedonas Ktenas and drummer Dennis Leventos, and the change is significant from the outward dudeliness of Kostas, with Makris — who also contributed the striking cover photography for Coming of Age — taking an approach that’s both more melodic and still laced with attitude and boozy fervor.

Her throaty delivery makes an immediately welcome arrival in the first verse of opener “Ex-Nowhere Man,” with backing lines layered in for emphasis atop pointedly desert-hued riffing. The tones of Tsoumas and Ktenas remain a great strength for the band, and Leventos does well both to complement the vocals and drive a progression like that culminating the opener to and through a marked apex. Have Godsleep come of age? In many ways, yes. They obviously learned from the first album who they want to be as a group and have a better idea of the kinds of songs they want to write. At the same time, bringing in Makris, they’ve also shifted the dynamic in a way that makes this eight-song/49-minute outing something like a second debut, beginning a new exploration of character and impression. The results across the LP are exciting and energized in the way of first records while also benefiting from the returning trio’s past experience recording four years ago. Best of both worlds.

The songs bear that out. “Unlearn” and “N.O.U.” follow “Ex-Nowhere Man” in succession, building a momentum that runs through the rest of the material while also prefacing the expansion of style that begins with the funky wah at the start of “Celestial.” Roll is still a factor and it will remain one, but a subtle shift begins with “Celestial” that ties the first and second halves of Coming of Age together, as Godsleep wind their way through the first half of the song and into the burst of pace that happens in the second. It’s not a radical change of character so much as a beginning point that serves to transition into what the four-piece are doing with the back end of the tracklist. And it’s also worth noting the fluidity with which their shifts play out. Whether it’s a turn from one part to another or a kick in tempo or a slowdown, Godsleep never lose sight of the underlying groove that is carrying them and their audience along the album’s steady but varied course. 49 minutes is by no means short for an LP, but neither is it unmanageable, and Godsleep hold firm to what works while pushing themselves to reach beyond what they’ve done before. There are more of them, but the songs on Coming of Age are by and large shorter than those on Thousand Sons of Sleep — none hit nine minutes, for example, though closer “Ded Space” comes close — and feel tighter in their composition.

godsleep

Even so, an open atmosphere pervades “Puku Dom,” which by all accounts is an interlude, about 90 seconds of subdued fuzz guitar leading the way into “Basic (The Fundamentals of Craving),” which tops seven minutes and begins with Makris‘ standout lines, “Let’s build a house ‘cause time is passing/You are mistaken for the feeling remains,” and runs through a flowing course that builds in energy as it goes, both linear and based on chorus repetition, breaking at around the five-minute mark to more progressive fuzzery ahead of the crescendo that finishes. “Basic (The Fundamentals of Craving)” on its own is demonstrable proof of the maturity happening across Coming of Age, and especially with “Puku Dom” providing listeners with a moment to breathe ahead of its arrival, it seems all the more like the band set it up for maximum impact; a self-awareness that is no less important when it comes to engaging listeners.

“Karma is a Kid” begins at a mellow sway with Makris‘ voice malleable to the situation before the full thickness of the central riff kicks in. It would seem to be the job of the penultimate track to tie the two sides of the LP together, and “Karma is a Kid” does that somewhat with a speedier thrust, but there’s also a change in structure as well, as LeventosKtenas and Tsoumas take over instrumentally after that initial arrival of the riff and the rest of the song plays out without vocals. Like the rest of what surrounds, it offers something new while remaining familiar in the context of the record as a whole, and while one doubts Godsleep sat down and masterminded exactly that impression, in putting together the tracklist, they obviously had a sense of what they wanted Coming of Age to do and when, and that’s crucial. They follow a plotted course through the rest of “Karma is a Kid” and crash out to a fading rumble and the start of “Ded Space,” which unfolds with a patient build of tension in the guitar and drums that moves through the early verses en route to an interplay of spoken and sung lyrics in the midsection.

There’s a quiet break in the second half, but Godsleep aren’t going to let the opportunity for a bigger finish pass them by, and they make no attempt to mask their intention all through “Ded Space” as it heads toward its finale. Nor should they — it’s a payoff well earned, both within “Ded Space” itself and across the entirety of Coming of Age as a whole. The closer’s lyrics seem to move from a personal narrative to take on a more pointed social commentary, perhaps addressing Greece’s political and economic turmoil through metaphor and a kind of big-picture perspective. That’s fair enough ground for Godsleep to tread, but like much of what precedes, it piques interest in terms of where they might go from here. That goes back to the idea of Coming of Age as a reset, or a second debut with the arrival of Makris as a distinguishing moment between their sophomore long-player and its predecessor. However one wants to think of it, though, and however they might progress, the high level of craft throughout Coming of Age indeed speaks to the burgeoning maturity of the band, and their consciousness of what they’re doing only heightens the appreciation thereof. I know I already used the word, but I’ll say it again: it’s an exciting listen.

Godsleep, Coming of Age (2018)

Godsleep on Thee Facebooks

Godsleep on Bandcamp

The Lab Records website

Threechords Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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BUS Premiere “I Buried Paul”; Never Decide Due March 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bus

Greek heavy rockers BUS – aka Bus the Unknown Secretary; they’re their own acronym — will issue their second full-length, Never Decide — on March 1 through RidingEasy Records. It is the Athenian outfit’s first release through the Californian label and it follows behind their 2016 Twin Earth-released debut, The Unknown Secretary (review here), and it comprises 10 tracks for an LP-limit-pushing 51-minute run that nonetheless does little front-to-back to wear out its welcome. From the way opener “You Better Come In, You Better Calm Down” seems to shove the listener forward into the rest of the album, down through the what-if-the-Beatles-were-also-Primus-but-Primus-were-the-Melvins-and-also-Kyuss-is-there-because-that’s-fun bounce of “I Buried Paul” and the drawling roll of “Lucifer” ahead of the monster boogie garage buzz in “First Life Suicide” and side B opener “Moonchild,” the jam-packed rush of “Dying” and the final Sabbathian fuzz blowout of “This King.” Hepcats will notice some echoing flourish of Uncle Acidic melody in the vocals throughout of Bill “City” Politis, but on the most basic level, there’s too much going on otherwise to call Never Decide redundant in any way. Did I mention that Bill City and fellow guitarist Fotis Kolokithas break out some Iron Maiden dual-guitar action on the seven-minute “Into the Night?” They do. And they use it to build a maddening tension for the first three minutes of the song that, by the time it pays off by kicking into the verse riff of the song has absolutely driven you up the wall in the best way possible.

As one might only ask if one was feeling particularly greedy, BUS prime all this nuance with a unifying quality of songcraft that asidebus never decide from seeming to warrant airfare to play Psycho Las Vegas, serves to set up a flow that’s maintained regardless of tempo or other changes in the overarching affect. “The Hunt” digs into darker proto-metallic proclamations just after “You Better Come In, You Better Come Down” breaks through its efficient boogie rock paradise, and songs like “Evil Eyes” confidently deliver hooks that are non-overbearing earworms — the kinds of songs you don’t realize are in your head until they already are. And of course by then it’s too late, and like the already-on-my-list-of-2019’s-best-artwork cover featuring giant chickens wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting town, the four-piece of PolitisKolokithas, bassist Spiros “Chob” Papadatos and drummer Aris Fasoulis build on what they accomplished three years ago in terms of tone and structure while coming across like they’re having an absolute blast in the process. Never Decide, perhaps somewhat ironically, sounds completely sure of itself and its approach. With the basic instrumental tracks recorded live, the band convey an unmistakable energy and dynamic, and as “This King” winds its way through a multi-tiered lead section in its second half that gives way to its apex slowdown chorus, that energy only serves them well throughout. A record over 50 minutes isn’t easy to pull off in the era of algorithmic recommendations and quick-burst tag-browsing — let alone actually fitting it on a platter — but BUS throw off convention with an offering that’s both of the moment and outside it.

And as you might’ve picked up from the above, there’s a lot going on throughout what are still tight-as-they-want-to-be, engaging songs, so finding one track to represent the whole thing is kind of tough. They showed off “You Better Come In, You Better Come Down” first, which is fair enough as the opener, but today I’m happy to host the next premiere, for the quirk-laced “I Buried Paul,” and to give those bold enough to do so another chance to dig in ahead of the release.

Please find the song below, followed by recording info and more details from the PR wire, and please enjoy:

Heavy bands typically don’t know how to make music fun. We’re not talking about goofy, novelty rock, which Athens’ BUS certainly is not. We’re talking clever, spirited and anthemic rock that doesn’t get bogged down in trying to sound menacing. Never Decide is a multifaceted album in the vein of classic hitters like The Hellacopters, Alice Cooper Band, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Orange Goblin.

“The story of the album expresses the psyche of a person in a dead end and his life is introduced into obsessive rhythms, more personal and random,” explains vocalist/guitarist Bill Politis. “There is no happy end here, but the questions remain: Door A or Door B? Time to change or time to die, Never Decide!”

Never Decide was recorded in just 5 days in February 2018 with multitalented engineer and band’s beloved friend John Vulgaris at Electric Highway Studios in Athens, Greece. The entire band — drummer Aris Fasoulis, bassist Spiros Papadatos, and guitarists Fotis Kolokithas and Politis — recorded the instrumental tracks live in 3 days, reserving the last 2 for vocals. Over the 2 months that followed Vulgaris and the band fine-tuned the mix into the subtle and clever masterwork before you.

BUS formed in Athens in 2011, releasing two EPs and a full length The Impious Tapes, followed by The Cross EP (2014), and The Unknown Secretary LP in 2016. During that time the band has toured extensively throughout Greece and in neighboring nations. The release of Never Decide will see them expanding that touring radius considerably.

Never Decide will be available on LP, CD and download on March 1st, 2019 via RidingEasy Records. Pre-orders are available HERE.

Tracklisting:
01. You Better Come In, You Better Calm Down
02. The Hunt
03. I Buried Paul
04. Lucifer
05. First Life Suicide
06. Moonchild
07. Into the Night
08. Evil Eyes
09. Dying
10. This King

BUS is:
Aris Fasoulis on Drums.
Bill “City” Politis on Vox & Guitars.
Spiros ”Chob” Papadatos on Bass Guitar.
Fotis Kolokithas on Guitars.

BUS on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

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