Chickn Premiere “Infrared Panda Club” Lyric Video; Bel Esprit out Oct. 18

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

chickn

Please, three minutes of your time. I promise it’s for a good cause. Among the best causes, actually, as I can think of few hills as much worth dying on as that of the willfully weird, and Athens’ Chickn — no Google, I didn’t forget the ‘e’ — will issue their third album, Bel Esprit, through Inner Ear Records on Oct. 18. The new outing follows last year’s Wowsers! (discussed here) and their 2016 self-titled debut (discussed here), and it brings “Infrared Panda Club” as the first audio to be officially released to the public. And yes, it’s three minutes, and yes, it’s a strange and hypnotic delight, the kind of thing you can’t quite look away from and you’re not sure why. An earworm in the classic sense but with a sound likewise indebted to P-Funk and Talking Heads that I expect in no way represents the full scope of the album, as the band at this point have a history with a swath of genres at their disposal. They are a blast, and “Infrared Panda Club” is a blast, and for everyone who might be in one of those “everything-sounds-the-same” ruts, I guarantee that whatever you’re listening to, there’s at least a 93 percent chance it doesn’t sound like Chickn. Take three minutes an play those odds.

chickn infrared panda club (Song Artwork by Eftychia Vlachou)One doesn’t want to generalize, but I consider Chickn emblematic of the more adventurous side of Greek’s heavy rock underground in general, particularly in their willingness to incorporate beyond-genre influences into an experimentalist approach that still keeps its structure intact. They are downright gleeful on “Infrared Panda Club” — which is meant to make no more sense than it does — toying with different layers of rhymes amid funky keys and percussion and lyrics worthy of the lyric video you can see them in below. It’s hyper-stylized, and again, I wouldn’t think the whole album functions the same way, but it definitely works for this three minutes, and as a first teaser for Bel Esprit to come, it for sure makes me curious what the hell other shenanigans Chickn might be up to this time around. Guess we’ll find out in October.

Good times.

You can check out “Infrared Panda Club” on the video embed below — again, it’s only three minutes, and it’s so weird; just make it happen — and dig into more info from the PR wire beneath that.

Please enjoy:

Chickn, “Infrared Panda Club” lyric video premiere

Chickn are happy to announce a new album. “Bel Esprit” is due out on October 18 via Inner Ear Records. The follow-up to last year’s “Wowsers” sees the Greek psych-heads exploring a variety of different styles. From garage-blues to synth-prog and beyond, “Bel Esprit” will generously provide you with all the touchy – feeliness you’ll ever need. It will be hidden inside intimate voices telling distant stories, cosmic whistles or even in the form of cadenced grooves from outer space.

“Bel Esprit” was recorded between March and June of 2019 in Athens, Greece engineered by Nikos Triantafyllou and Iraklis Vlahakis, produced by Angelos Krallis & CHICKN.

“Infrared Panda Club” is the first offer of CHICKN’s third LP “Bel Esprit”, track-listed third on the album. A truly bizarre yet uplifting song that popped Angelos, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, out of a nightmare some months ago and furled into the smallest club into this world. It’s nothing more but an Infrared, meaning when not using a filter the club behaves like a normal club with no special characteristics. Alike Panda bears, it involves gallons of water. Feel free to join the Club!

Chickn are:
Angelos Krallis – Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizers
Pantelis Karasevdas – Drums/ Percussion
Chris Bkrs – String Machine, Guitar
Axios Zafeirakos – Bass
Don Stavrinos – Trumpet/ Percussion

Chickn on Thee Facebooks

Chickn on Instagram

Inner Ear Records on Thee Facebooks

Inner Ear Records on Instagram

Inner Ear Records website

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1000mods to Record New Album with Matt Bayles This Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

If you’re in Europe and you’ve been waiting to see on which Fall festivals 1000mods‘ name inevitably popped up, they’re headed in a different direction. The foremost ambassadors of Greek heavy rock will travel to the US to record in Seattle with Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, etc.) at the helm as producer. The band’s 2016 album, Repeated Exposure To… (review here), was one that allowed them to greatly expand their reach in terms of touring, coming to America for the first time in 2017 and touring Australia also for the first time just this past Spring, so clearly they’re looking to rise to the occasion of a follow-up and where it might take them. Antarctica, I guess? Do they have shows there? Probably.

Let’s assume an early-ish 2020 release depending on their label situation and tour schedule — February or March doesn’t seem unreasonable — and just start looking forward to it now in order to save time later. No substitute for efficiency.

Here’s what they had to say:

1000mods (Photo by Cristina Alossi)

It’s been almost 3 years since “Repeated Exposure to…” was released! We’ve spent those 3 years on the road playing gigs and performing at festivals around Europe, USA, Canada, Mexico and Australia, including our last show in Athens, Greece last week at Release Festival with Alice In Chains, Fu Manchu, Puta Volcano and Monovine. It has been a hell of a ride and now with a few shows left till the end of the summer, we are ready to try and make something way different than we are used to!

So, from October 21st until November 14th we will be at Seattle, Washington state, USA to record our 4th album with producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Pearl Jam, Isis, Minus the Bear, Soundgarden, etc). The recordings will take place at London Bridge Studio and Studio Litho, two of the most legendary and iconic studios of the world, where lots of bands and artists we look up to, have recorded over the years.

This is gonna be so much fun and we are all so grateful that we will live that experience!

Stay tuned!

Peace,
1000mods

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
www.soundofliberation.com/id-1000mods

1000mods, Repeated Exposure To… (2016)

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Planet of Zeus Premiere “Revolution Cookbook” Video from Faith in Physics

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

planet of zeus

Last week, it was announced that Planet of Zeus had signed to Heavy Psych Sounds and will release their new album, Faith in Physics, on Sept. 27, with preorders up now. The album would seem to take a more political direction that the opening title-track of their 2016 LP, Loyal to the Pack, hinted toward, and with the unveiling of the first single/video for “Revolution Cookbook,” that’s borne out across a sub-three-minute run of catchy, uptempo and hard-hitting heavy rock. My curiosity when the press release came through was how the Athens-based four-piece would square their burly, Clutch-style groove with the thematic, and I think “Revolution Cookbook” answers that question pretty succinctly in its intense forward drive and cyclical chorus, sticking the landing on the line “We got our first-world problems” and pitting that against the contrast of “They got the tv and the money and the power and the guns.” I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but it sounds in that scenario like “we” are fucked.

I’m not sure who that “we” encompasses, but fair enough. If nothing else, “Revolution Cookbook” would seem to demonstrate that Planet of Zeus, if indeed they’re revising their focus lyrically, aren’t doing so at the expense of efficiency in craft. That is, they’re not so caught up in the message as to lose sight of the song. Faith in Physics would seem to be setting itself up for an exploration of these contrasts, whether it’s the melodic and shouted vocals here or the workman groove and more considered lyrics themselves. I haven’t heard the rest of the record yet — and since the release date is still more than three months out, I think that’s totally reasonable — but even the title Faith in Physics speaks to an idea of conflict or struggle, hinting toward the idea of science vs. dogma and commenting that even “believing” in science is a belief system, even if one based on empirical observation. This too would seem to make it a fitting follow-up to Loyal to the Pack, the first lines of which were, “No fake gods/No submission/No trust to anyone.”

The video itself is pretty straightforward in terms of capturing the band’s performance, but is well timed to the rhythm of the song nonetheless, though if you’re sensitive to flashing lights you might want to watch out in parts. It’s not too bad. I expect you’ll be fine.

Ultimately, it does nothing so much as make me curious to hear the rest of the album.

Enjoy:

Planet of Zeus, “Revolution Cookbook” official video premiere

ALBUM PRESALE: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS108

Faith in Physics was recorded in Autumn 2018 at “Villa Guiseppe Studio” (drums), Planet of Zeus’s studio (guitars and bass) and “Kiwi Studio” (vocals) in Athens, Greece. It was produced by Planet of Zeus and recorded, mixed and mastered by Nikos Lavdas. The album artwork was created by “Aristotle Roufanis Studio”.

PLANET OF ZEUS is:
Babis Papanikolaou – Vox & Guitars
Stelios Provis – Guitars
Giannis Vrazos – Bass
Serafeim Giannakopoulos – Drums

Planet of Zeus website

Planet of Zeus on Thee Facebooks

Planet of Zeus on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

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Planet of Zeus Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds; Faith in Physics Preorders Up

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

planet of zeus

There’s no audio from it yet, but the description of the intent behind the upcoming album from Planet of Zeus — titled Faith in Physics, out Sept. 27 through Heavy Psych Sounds — certainly has my interest piqued, and not just because I watched that Flat Earther documentary on Netfli. The Greek outfit would seem to be taking on a more grounded-in-now perspective in their themes, and I have to wonder how that will manifest in their songs. I tend to think of them as burly heavy rock, but maybe some different kinds of energies this time around? Titles like “The Great Liar” and “Let Them Burn” would seem to hint toward a yes in that regard, but definitely, I’m curious to hear how it will all meld. It’s the band’s first outing through Heavy Psych Sounds and preorders are up as of yesterday for vinyl and CD and whatnot.

The PR wire puts it thusly:

PLANET OF ZEUS FAITH IN PHYSICS

Heavy Psych Sounds Records & Booking is really proud to start the presale of the new album PLANET OF ZEUS – FAITH IN PHYSICS

ALBUM PRESALE:

https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS108

USA PRESALE via All That Is Heavy (available soon):

https://allthatisheavy.com/search?type=product&q=faith+in+physics

RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 27th

AVAILABLE IN :
40 ULTRA LTD TEST PRESS VINYL
250 TRANSPARENT SPLATTER BLUE / CLEAR BLUE / PINK FLUO / GREEN FLUO VINYL
550 LTD GOLD VINYL
BLACK VINYL
DIGIPAK
DIGITAL

In 2019, at a time in which irrationalism seems to be king, with far-right politics enjoying mainstream status worldwide, religious fundamentalists, flat-earthers, and anti-vaccinists testing the limits of freedom of speech, Planet of Zeus return with their highly anticipated fifth studio album, “Faith in Physics” (Heavy Psych Sounds records). Lyrically, this album seems to be Planet of Zeus’s most socio-politically conscious release, dealing with themes such as digitalization, religion, social network pseudo-revolution, addiction and lonerism. Musically, it sounds like the band’s chosen to take the dirtiest path possible in order to create the highly charged atmosphere needed to get its messages through. 46 minutes of heavy, intellectual riffology and fat grooves, reminiscent of RATM’s best days, MC5-esque attitude and energy, coupled with QOTSA’s pop sensibilities. An album that flows like water and closes with Planet of Zeus’s signature psychedelic last track, that sounds like “the Doors” landing in 2019 Athens via teleportation.

Faith in Physics was recorded in Autumn 2018 at “Villa Guiseppe Studio” (drums), Planet of Zeus’s studio (guitars and bass) and “Kiwi Studio” (vocals) in Athens, Greece. It was produced by Planet of Zeus and recorded, mixed and mastered by Nikos Lavdas. The album artwork was created by “Aristotle Roufanis Studio”.

TRACKLIST
Gasoline 4:31
Man Vs God 5:26
The Great Liar 5:03
Revolution Cookbook 2:55
All These Happy People 4:04
Your Song 4:46
Let Them Burn 5:58
On Parole 5:23
King of the Circus 8:15

PLANET OF ZEUS is:
Babis Papanikolaou – Vox & Guitars
Stelios Provis – Guitars
Giannis Vrazos – Bass
Serafeim Giannakopoulos – Drums

http://www.planetofzeus.gr
https://www.facebook.com/planetofzeus
http://planetofzeus.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/

Planet of Zeus, Loyal to the Pack (2016)

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Deaf Radio Stream “Astypalea”; New Album Coming Soon

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

deaf radio

After making their debut in 2017 with Alarm (review here), Greek heavy rockers Deaf Radio hit the road pretty hard last Fall in Europe, so my only question as regards their new record, yet untitled, is whether it was recorded before or after that extended stint took place. I’d assume after — the tour wrapped just before the holidays in 2018, but there’s been six months between then and now to put it to tape — and if that indeed is the case, I’ll look forward all the more to hearing how the group has come together in the time since their first outing, which was already well schooled in its approach to warm-toned heavy and catchy songwriting. They’re streaming the new single “Astypalea” — an island, not a new diet craze — and you can hear that below, as well as read about the record courtesy of the PR wire.

More to come, I hope:

deaf radio astypalea

DEAF RADIO: Rising Athens Rockers Return with New Single | Sophomore Album Released Late 2019

New single ‘Astypalea’ is released today and is taken from their new album, which arrives later this year

Chief proponents of hard rock and grievous genre assault, Deaf Radio, the Athens’ based quartet make a much-welcomed return this month with the release of the brand-new single, ‘Astypalea’.

The first song composed, recorded and lifted from their as-yet-untitled second album, which is due for release later this year, ‘Astypalea’ is a captivating glimpse of things to come

Written on the rooftops of old churches in Astypalea, a secluded Greek island in the Dodecanese, lyrically it focuses on the connections and experiences between each band member, with marauding and majestic guitars reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age and Rise Against. A song that begs to be played loud, this is the first recording made by the desert rockers since the release of their successful debut album, Alarm in 2017. Hailed as one of the best alt-rock albums from Greece in recent memory, it has since gone on to garner hundreds of thousands of streams online, and praise from ecstatic sell-out crowds when performed live across Europe.

Having shared stages with the likes of The Killers, All Them Witches, 1000mods and The Kills, Deaf Radio toured Europe throughout 2017 and 2018 and played in over thirty cities, serving as the perfect test ground material soon to be released on their second full-length album, due for release in the autumn.

Deaf Radio’s brand-new single ‘Astypalea’ is released on 5th June 2019 via ihaveadrum. Listen and find out more about ‘Astypalea’ now.

Deaf Radio are:
Panos Gklinos (Vocals & Guitar)
Dimitris Sakellariou (Guitar & Vocals)
Dimitris Georgopoulos (Bass & Backing Vocals)
George Diathesopoulos (Drums & Backings Vocals)

https://www.facebook.com/deafradioband
https://www.instagram.com/deaf.radio/
https://deafradio.bandcamp.com/

Deaf Radio, “Astypalea”

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Nightstalker Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds; New Album Great Hallucinations Available to Preorder

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

nighstalker

Nightstalker have been and shall remain. Now some 30 years removed from their start, the Greek heavy rockers have signed on with Heavy Psych Sounds for the Oct. 4 release of their new album, Great Hallucinations. Preorders went up yesterday through the label’s website, and while there’s no audio yet from the record and I haven’t heard any of it, the band are nothing if not reliable in terms of delivering classic-minded heavy, riff-led heavy rock and roll with a mind toward the ’70s and the ’90s and of course a good amount of foundation in their own significant catalog. Great Hallucinations will follow 2016’s As Above So Below (review here) in that regard, keeping to a consistency that has been their calling card for well over the last decade.

They know what they’re doing and they do it, and as Heavy Psych Sounds has picked up numerous outfits pivotal to what’s become the heavy underground — Fatso JetsonYawning ManNebula, etc. — Nightstalker make a fitting addition to the roster in representing what’s still erroneously considered off Europe’s beaten path in terms of the rock scene.

Details from the PR wire:

nightstalker great hallucinations

NIGHTSTALKER sign to Heavy Psych Sounds Records for the new album!!!

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS is proud to welcome a new member to their eclectic artist roster and family: Greek stoner rockers NIGHTSTALKER have signed a worldwide deal with the Italian cult label that will release the band’s NEW RECORD !!!

As a pioneering act in the Greek stoner rock scene with their debut EP ‘SideFX’, released back in 1994, NIGHTSTALKER have just inked a worldwide deal with Heavy Psych Sounds Records for the release of their eighth studio album ‘Great Hallucinations’ on October 4th.

This album will directly hit your soul. Eight blistering tracks showcase NIGHTSTALKER’s colorful sound imprint, combining punchy bass lines, heavy and spacey riffs, all together with Argy’s powerful and melodic vocal. Raw rock ‘n roll, stunning licks and electric haze are the fundamental elements that have kept the band going for more than 20 years. Produced by NIGHTSTALKER, recorded and mixed at Wreck it Sound Studios, today the band is presenting us the upcoming album artwork, tracklist as well as all pre-order details!

‘Great Hallucinations’ will be released on October 4th and available in the following formats:
– 40 ultra LTD test press
– 250 Clear Purple Background splatter in Black/Red/Blue vinyl
– 650 Clear Water Green vinyl
– Black vinyl
– CD and digital

NIGHTSTALKER ‘Great Hallucinations’
Out October 4th on Heavy Psych Sounds
PREORDER NOW

TRACK LISTING:
1. Black Cloud
2. Sweet Knife
3. Sad Side Of The City
4. Seven out of Ten
5. Cursed
6. Half Crazy
7. Hole In The Mirror
8. Great Hallucinations

NIGHTSTALKER is:
Argy – Vocals
Andreas Lagios – Bass
Tolis Motsios – Guitars
Dinos Roulos – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/nightstalkerband/
https://nightstalker.bandcamp.com/
http://www.nightstalkerband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/

Nightstalker, As Above, so Below (2016)

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Dury Dava Premiere Self-Titled Debut LP in Full

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dury dava

Athens-based experimentalist jammers Dury Dava release their self-titled debut album today through Inner Ear Records. Take a seat. Get your head sorted. Strap in. Me, I’ll pour another coffee. But you do whatever you need to do to prepare yourself for a bit of a journey, and by “a bit” I mean the record is 69 minutes long, so actually it’s less “a bit” and more “clear your calendar.” But fair enough, since you probably wanted to do that anyway.

Dury Dava are real-deal far out. Not we-have-a-delay-pedal-and-a-keyboard jams — though yes, they’ve got both — but sprawling krautrock composition-ishes infused with Greek and Turkish folk influences and instrumentation, resulting in a progged-up vision manifest across 10 tracks not afraid to get heavy in a garage sense every now and again, as on “Triptych” or “Satana” or the winding later “Ataxia,” but by no means beholden to the expectation of that or anything else. Songs vary wildly in arrangement and course, from high-drama art rock pieces like “Ela Pali Na” to the Mediterranean cosmic psych-folk of the 12-minute “34522,” which appears late in the record but still ahead of the 13-minute “Tarlabasi,” which feels like a companion even with the shorter “Ataxia” between them and the reality of the split between sides C and D of the double-vinyl.

dury dava dury dava“34522” takes cues from Doors and Chrome and classic Greek psych, while “Tarlabasi” answers back with gorgeous dream-toned guitar and wah bass and a laid back vibe that still holds some funk in its procession ahead of subdued, gentle closer “Kane Ligo Alithina.” The set opens with “Afriki,” and indeed there’s some element of Afrobeat to the groove in various spots throughout, but with flourish of clarinet and the proto-space rock launch in the second half of the subsequent “Triptych,” there’s clearly no one style or genre claiming Dury Dava‘s sound, the five-piece using multiple angles of approach toward a single coherence manifest in longer form works or the barking, percussion-laced “Zoupa,” which somehow reminds in its vocal melody of Donovan in those moments where the freakout is held at bay momentarily, or the dilruba-laced side B closeout “Kalokairi,” which resolves in a gorgeous guitar solo atop a drifting progression that stays mostly quiet but for some vocalizations accompanying. It’s as gone a lead-in as “34522” (which, by the way, is a postal code for Istanbul) could ask for.

Dury Dava, as the live-tracked output of a relatively new band begin in 2016, is more than just an encouraging debut. From a group whose sound is a conglomeration of traditions from folk to pop to rock and back again, it is a deeply individualized starting point for what will hopefully be an ongoing creative growth. The fact that the lineup of Karolos Berahas (bass, keys, synth), Giorgis Karras (electric guitar, dilruba), Dimitris Mantzavinos (vocals, electric guitar, bouzouki), Dimitris Prokos (clarinet, synth) and Ilias Livieratos (drums, percussion) are able to come together in this way and be able to craft such a sonic blend without losing themselves in the process only deepens their prospects and gives them all the more of an identity in the meantime. It is not necessarily an easy record on first listen, but even if one digests it one side at a time, the results are more than worth that effort.

I’m genuinely honored to host the stream today on the occasion of the album’s release. Please find it below and enjoy:

Dury Dava is a five-piece band from Athens, Greece. Their debut self-titled album was recorded live during several sessions in the second half of 2018 at Hobart Phase Studios, aka the mossy basement of an unwitting suburban home in Athens, the very rehearsal space where the band members first met over three years ago. In part it represents this very union and subsequent formation, and brings to the world, for the first time, upwards of 70 minutes of their original music.

Several compositional trajectories are employed, drawing inspiration from a wide variety of places. Their music pays tribute to the raw grit of 60’s psychedelia and 70’s krautrock, and fuses elements from the Greco-Turkish musical traditions such as odd rhythms and folk dances with a punk mentality, resulting in an amalgamation of contemporary experimental rock with heterogeneous throwback underpinnings. What it lacks for in discipline, it compensates for in energy and spontaneity.

The music was written by Dury Dava:

Karolos Berahas (bass, keys, synth)
Giorgis Karras (electric guitar, dilruba)
Dimitris Mantzavinos (vocals, electric guitar, bouzouki)
Dimitris Prokos (clarinet, synth)
Ilias Livieratos (drums, percussion)

Out on double LP and digital album on May 10th via Inner Ear.

Dury Dava on Thee Facebooks

Dury Dava on Bandcamp

Inner Ear Records on Thee Facebooks

Inner Ear Records website

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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