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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1000mods, Naxatras, Nightstalker and More Feature in Greek Rock Revolution Documentary

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

Well this looks fucking awesome. No question that the rise of the Greek heavy rock scene over the course of the last decade has been a boon to the European underground. Greece can now stand toe to toe with Germany, Sweden or any of the other continental hotbeds of heavy, and along with Italy, has become essential the character worldwide of heavy rock and roll. The feature-length documentary Greek Rock Revolution puts this emergence in the context of the country’s social condition, the effect that austerity and rampant unemployment has had on the art being made, as well as the prejudice of those outside not caring about the scene or the important work being done there by bands covered in the trailer at the bottom of this post like 1000mods, Tuber, Naxatras, Puta Volcano, Villagers of Ioannina City, Planet of Zeus and the elder statesmen in Nightstalker. There seems to be plenty of concert and interview footage, and yeah, it looks fucking awesome. I’d spend 95 minutes watching this thing, happily. I hope I get to review it.

As a side note while we’re on the topic of Greek heavy, I’ve got a track premiere for BUS going up tomorrow from their new album that marks their debut on RidingEasy Records, so that release will be another fascinating instance of a Greek band reaching a wider international audience.

Greek Rock Revolution is directed by Miguel Cano. Here’s the press release that came with the trailer:

greek rock revolution banner

The official trailer for the upcoming Greek Rock Revolution movie is now live! The documentary film will have a length of 95 minutes, featuring 1000mods, Tuber, Naxatras, Puta Volcano, Villagers of Ioannina City, Planet of Zeus & Nightstalker
In the recent years these bands have gained a massive support in Greece and global recognition elsewhere, with circles in Europe and North America starting to speak very seriously about the Greek Rock Scene.

Last September, Spanish Film Director Miguel Cano interviewed all bands and filmed their live concerts and rehearsals in Thessaloniki, Chania, Serres, Athens, Patras, Chiliomodi and Ioannina. The Filmmaker sees in Greece resemblances with historical cultural momentum in Mississippi back when the blues was born or in Seattle when the grunge flourished: a long-lasting unstable social situation boosting artistic expression through a common feeling of non-conformity.

As the Director of Metal Hammer Greece, Kostas Chronopoulos states in the film, “it’s not easy to fight all for your own, you need to feel part of something which is there for you. And rock ‘n roll is here for us.”

Greek Rock Revolution is now on its last phases of post-production and it is expected to be released in March of this year. The goal is set first on screening the film in International Film Festivals, and then bring it to the wide audience in TV, cinemas and online platforms.

https://www.facebook.com/GreekRockRevolutionMovie/
http://mrchallengefilms.com/documentaries/Greek-Rock-Revolution

Greek Rock Revolution trailer

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Friday Full-Length: 1000mods, Super Van Vacation

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

 

At the time Greek heavy rockers 1000mods released their debut album, it would’ve been difficult to understand what it was working to engage. Listen to songs like “7 Flies” or “El Rollito” and “Set You Free.” Listen to “Alice in Navy” and “Johny’s.” Then listen again. Then listen to the five crucial longer pieces: opener “Road to Burn,” “Vidage,” “Track Me,” and the closing duo of “Abell 1835” and the title-cut. Then listen again. On its surface, Super Van Vacation (review here) is a kickass rock record. But as we move inexorably nearer to the end of this decade, I can’t help but think of the impact this record has had.

Super Van Vacation was issued as 10 songs and an overwhelming 65 minutes by Kozmik Artifactz and CTS Productions, and its influences speak for themselves — a strong dose of Kyuss and Fu Manchu, a little bit of Colour Haze thrown into the start of “Track Me,” some earlier Dozer and Lowrider to go around — but more than seven years on from its release, think about the generation of heavy rock that’s come forward. This decade has seen an entirely new league of bands from around Europe and the world at large. It has been a generational shift, fostered in no small part by social media (and yes, I include Bandcamp in that), and as the genre has found a new audience, that audience has proven more receptive to acts from just about everywhere. Not that Greece doesn’t have a history of heavy rock and roll — there’s been Greek psych for as long as there’s been psych, and plenty of Greek metal and rock as well — and Greece has one of the strongest histories of folk music to be found anywhere in Europe. But in thinking specifically about heavy rock, about international desert rock, especially at the start of this decade, Greece could hardly hold a candle to, say, Sweden, or Germany, or the UK when it came to the overall vibrancy of its riff-loving underground. 1000mods seem to have represented a moment of change taking place.

What I mean to say is that Super Van Vacation worked on different terms than a lot of what was happening at the time, and by manifesting inspiration from acts abroad, it entered a conversation that was immediately international in its scope. This wouldn’t have mattered if the quality of the material was lacking, but digging into “Vidage” or “Abell 1835” or the ultra-groove of “El Rollito” — which seems to have been titled for precisely what its rhythm was doing vis a vis roll; it’s more than the little one its name might suggest — 1000mods showed that not only was this new generation happening at that moment, but that it was capable of introducing the burgeoning audience for heavy rock with a grade of craft worthy of what had come before it. Almost inevitably, then, bassist/vocalist Dani G., guitarists Giannis S.and George T., and drummer Labros G. became torchbearers of the Greek underground, which over the next few years would undergo a renaissance of its own, and they’ve lived up to that position with touring and subsequent releases. I won’t say they put Greece on the heavy rock map, because nobody’s ever “first” at anything if you dig deep enough and it would just be too convenient a narrative, but they were the right band from the right place at the right time, and that in itself is a significant accomplishment, before you even get down to hearing any of the songs.

Furthering this multinational engagement was the fact that Super Van Vacation was recorded by Billy Anderson, whose legacy as a producer is unmatched in heavy with a CV 1000mods super van vacationthat includes classic records for Sleep, Neurosis, Acid King and the Melvins, among many, many others. Given the geographical disparity — Anderson on the US West Coast, 1000mods in Chiliomodi, about an hour and a half (depending on traffic) west of Athens — the choice could only have been purposeful, and that too speaks to a conscious decision on the band’s part to broaden their reach. Super Van Vacation wasn’t just about being Chiliomodi’s own Truckfighters. It was about bringing 1000mods to the attention of an multinational heavy underground that, as it turned out, was ready and waiting to receive them. Right record, right time. The fact that they tour their asses off in the years following didn’t hurt them either, certainly. But a Greek band with an American producer and a German label pressing their debut album as a 2LP? This is not a group of minor ambition, and Super Van Vacation realized their goals of positioning them as more than just a local or national act while also showing their potential staying power on that grander stage.

Again, this wouldn’t have been possible at all if the songs weren’t there. But thinking about its double-vinyl structure now, the way it functioned so that sides A, B and C all feature a track north of eight minutes long — “Road to Burn,” “Vidage” and “Track Me,” respectively — and the way the album culminated with “Abell 1835” and “Super Van Vacation,” it’s all the more masterful a construction. I won’t take away from the tightness of the songwriting on the shorter tracks and particularly in the album’s earlier going with “7 Flies,” “El Rollito” and “Set You Free,” but with the longer tracks spaced out as they were, 1000mods were never too far from offering their listeners a real chance at immersion into what they were doing, and they had the tonal depth, the hooks and, in reserve, the spaciousness to make sure they got there. It was almost deceptively multifaceted.

Having already by then toured through Europe and the UK, 1000mods released their second long-player, Vultures (review here), in 2014 and followed that with Repeated Exposure To… (review here) in 2016, the latter through their own label, Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug Recordings — a name that, while cumbersome, speaks to their taking what’s been done before and making it their own; the reference being to Kyuss “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop” — which also oversaw a reissue of Super Van Vacation that same year. The debut was also previously reissued on vinyl through CTS in 2014, and has sold through multiple pressings. Rightfully so, frankly, as clearly it’s a record to which time has been kind and for which the context has only become richer over the course of the years since it first arrived.

1000mods toured ridiculously hard for Repeated Exposure To…, but if one takes a every-two-or-three-years pace for them and new material, they’d be due for a full-length sometime probably later in 2019. We’ll see if we get there, but either way, it’s worth considering how far they’ve come since their start in 2006 and how much they’ve contributed to the sphere of modern European heavy rock. Seems to be plenty at this point, and there’s no indication they’re stopping anytime soon.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

I was pleased with the response to the Top 30 of 2018 list that went up yesterday, which if I’m honest is probably a first. Usually I break my ass putting those things together — keeping track of records in a list all year, fretting for weeks about the order, spending days on the actual writing and the inevitably adjusting the list even after it’s published — and then the first thing I see is someone being like, “Hey you stupid bastard you didn’t include Band X.” I got one comment about a lack of Latin American releases included. Okay. And people have picked out individual things that didn’t get make it for one reason or another — some of which I’ve added to honorable mentions — but by and large the tone has been civil. That’s all I could really ask.

But that’s been nice. So thank you for that.

Next week is Xmas. I’ve been dreading it, honestly. The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I will spend Xmas Eve here in MA, watching Die Hard and Die Hard 2 at home in our traditional Xmas Eve fashion. Then Xmas Day we head south to Connecticut for family dinner, and then the next day it’s on to New Jersey, where we’ll stay the remainder of winter break until her Spring semester starts — I guess that’s three-plus weeks until about Jan. 17 or so. I’m trying to set up getting a tattoo in that time — it’ll be my first — and beyond that, looking forward to being back there, but I feel like Xmas is the hurdle I have to jump to make it happen. Least favorite holiday? Maybe. There’s some stiff competition there.

For whatever it’s worth, I hope you make the most of yours and enjoy it as much as possible.

Because of holiday and travel, posts will be somewhat sporadic, but I’m hoping to get at least something up every day except perhaps Xmas Day itself since I anticipate being busy with Pecan whatnot and travel. I’ve got a bunch of news catchup happening Monday, and nothing slated for Tuesday, though I’m sure something will come along, but Wednesday is the next review. It’s Horehound. Next week reviews are Horehound, T.G. Olson and Øresund Space Collective. Happy Xmas to me.

But yeah, I hope the holiday anxiety isn’t too much for you as it will invariably consume the entirety of my being pretty much from now until early January.

I have some other writing to do this weekend — a bio for a vinyl release, an update to the PostWax liner notes that I turned in last weekend — so I’ll be around. If we don’t talk before, though, have a good holiday and get through it the best you can. Tell your family you love them. That’s what matters. And if you can, listen to some decent music. The rest is extraneous bullshit.

Gonna punch out for a bit as I expect The Pecan up momentarily. Quick plug that if you haven’t yet, please add your list to the Year-End Poll, and if you can’t remember what came out this year, there are more than 100 records talked about in my own list, so that might be a place to start.

Thanks again for reading and have a great and safe weekend. Forum, radio and merch.

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Review & Track Premiere: Sadhus, Big Fish

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sadhus big fish

[Click play above to stream ‘Flesh’ by Sadhus, the Smoking Community. Their album, Big Fish, is out Dec. 18 on Fuzz Ink Records.]

With raw-throated screams atop dutifully hempen riffing, Sadhus, the Smoking Community conjure visions on their Fuzz Ink-issued second album, Big Fish, of sludge metal as a test of physical endurance. And by that I mean their own as well as trying to see how much punishment the listener can take. Will vocalist Stavros still have a larynx by the time the eight-minute “Lazarus” has finished? Can they hold it together during the tense buildup of “Flesh?” In truth, one might feel winded by the time the cacophony of opener “Hyper Roller” has finished, and it’s only 2:46 long. Joining Stavros in the band are guitarist Thomas G., bassist Nikos and drummer Greg, as well as Steve, who’s credited as being the “rolling engineer,” though whether that has more to do with recording or joints, I wouldn’t hazard a guess, and together the Athens-based band bring to mind the chaotic sludge aggression of bands like -(16)-, the this-is-a-lifestyle-ism of Bongzilla and Dopethrone, and the sense of fuckall that Eyehategod pioneered.

Though their work dates back to their 2011 involvement in the Miss Fortune was a Henhouse Manager compilation (review here) of the then-burgeoning Greek underground, Big Fish is their second album behind a 2014 self-titled that led to a couple split releases in the interim. Not a lack of productivity, necessarily, but neither are Sadhus putting out records for their own sake. Clearly this kind of disaffection requires something to drive it. Across the six-song/33-minute offering, I’m not sure if that’s personal, social or political, but it’s there. Stavros‘ vocals are all but indecipherable, but they get their point across anyway, and the point is “fuck you.” As “Lazarus” slams home its plodding, crashing, noise-laden apex, the message comes through clearly instrumentally as well as vocally, and their scathe is central to it.

They have a quiet part here and there throughout the album’s span — in “Flesh” or the title-cut that opens side B, for example — but there’s no question the more abrasive aspects of their sound are intended to be the central impression. That is, the quiet parts are how they change it up, where punishment is the norm. So be it. There are two basic modes of songwriting brought forth and they find the band balancing — so much as one would call any of this “balanced” — between longer songs and shorter ones. Four years ago, the self-titled worked in the same way, with three tracks over seven minutes long (one over eight) and three tracks shorter, under five minutes. Divisions are less stark on Big Fish than they were on the debut, with “Flesh” (4:52) and the penultimate “Sobbing Children” (3:42) and even “Hyper Roller” seeming to work toward an eventual bridging of the gap, though there seems to be little to no compromise either in overall intensity or in the length of the longer songs, so maybe they’re just working their way into a more exclusively longform modus.

sadhus the smoking community

If that were the case — and mind you, I wouldn’t predict either way for certain — they well prove able to carry themselves through more extended material, with “Lazarus” and “Big Fish” providing a back-to-back bludgeoning when taken in linear format that comprises nearly half the album’s runtime, and closer “I.P.S.,” which would seem to stand for “intelligent psycho sludge,” rounding out with a suitably vicious roll and chug, dipping into some more angular riffing late but keeping consistent in the overarching impression with the bulk of the album before it in terms of sheer destructive impulse. That comes through clearly in a recording that benefits from a stage-born energy without sacrificing clarity where it’s needed — Big Fish sounds angry, not sloppy. Thomas‘ and Nikos‘ tones are righteously thick and Greg‘s drumming is apparently up to the charge before it of pushing all that viscosity up the hill of its own creation, and Stavros is able to cut through not only his own vocal cords but the surrounding melee in order to be a key frontman presence even on the record. It isn’t necessarily a new dynamic for sludge metal, but Sadhus bring it to bear with a force that is decidedly their own.

Ultimately, Big Fish is the kind of record that makes you want to watch out for broken glass. Or flying glass. Or a glass bottle smashed into your cranium. Either way, it involves glass and blood that’s possibly yours. Maybe that’s a sign of inherent violence in the music, but while one might argue “Lazarus” has a “mosh part,” the guitar solo in “Sobbing Children” seems more typical of the band’s persona, and it’s not about punching your neighbor so much as lashing out at oneself or characterizing the violence that surrounds on an everyday basis. Maybe that’s reading too much into it, but Sadhus, the Smoking Community don’t necessarily direct their anger at a single target, instead presenting it as a general state to be manipulated as they see fit throughout their songs. It is brutal. And it is angry as a matter of will, but there’s a dynamic in the sound too, between longer slabs and bursts like “Hyper Roller” at the outset, in tempo and in volume.

All of these things come together as tools in Sadhus‘ arsenal, and they’re wielded in such a way as to keep the impact of Big Fish consistent the whole way through, so that even as they bring together two disparate sections in one song, that contrast becomes part of the overarching sound and the maddening atmosphere that pervades. As to the physical challenge aspect of it, Sadhus seem to come out of “I.P.S.” just fine, like they could do another five songs in the set, easy, but they’re right to keep it short, to get in and get out and leave their audience dazed from what just happened. It’s one more way Big Fish is effective in its delivery of its purported intelligent psychosis, and that lurking intelligence would seem to be the factor tying it all together. Also marijuana.

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