Yatra Premiere “Black Moon”; Debut Album Death Ritual out Jan. 4 on Grimoire Records

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

yatra (photo by Alyssa Maloof)

Roll it out. Inspirations from the past of the East Coast’s most essential doom scene echo through the Grimoire Records debut album from Maryland’s Yatra, but Death Ritual isn’t just another band come along to retread The Obsessed riffs or try to fill the void left by Iron Man. Led by guitarist, vocalist and principal songwriter Dana Helmuth (also ex-Blood Raven), Yatra‘s story goes that they adjourned themselves from the daily whatnottery of live, went to a cabin sans indoor plumbing, and banged out the album in a couple months’ time. As the PR wire informs below, even the band’s name ties into the idea of a pilgrimage, so that they’d execute such a meditative self-removal is all the more fitting. You’d almost swear these things were thought out beforehand.

Death Ritual finds Helmuth joined by bassist Maria Geisbert and drummer Mike Tull for eight songs and 44 minutes of doomly rollout, but if you want to hear how the woods affected their sound, the rasp of “Sacred Flower” or the howl in “Four Directions” nods in a pretty clear manner toward black metal, but there’s plenty of burled-out riffing to coincide, as shown not only on “Four Directions,” but in the droning atmosphere of “Snakes in the Temple” and “Mighty Arrows” as well, the latter of which marches Death Ritual to its finish with “Sailing On,” which makes sense as a closer, you know, about death. Having begun with an atmospheric intro to opener “Hour of the Dragon,” the crash and tonal depth make themselves felt early on and become the center around which the revolve. It’s like doom but they poured barbecue sauce on it.

No complaints there. “Black Moon,” which follows, takes a not dissimilar angle, but does so over a more fleshed-out period of time. at 6:43. I have the pleasure of hosting the track, which makes a ceremony of its initial feedback before unfurling some of the more extreme touches amid the tonal heft and nodding groove, the ease with which Yatra tap into different styles deceptive in its raw cohesion.

You can stream “Black Moon” at the bottom of this post. The PR wire was kind enough to send over info on Death Ritual, which is out Jan. 4 on Grimoire Records.

yatra death ritual

Grimoire Records presents Death Ritual, the debut full-length album by Maryland-based doom trio YATRA, confirming the album for early January release. The record’s cover art, track listing, and more have been posted.

YATRA is a journey into mountainous sounds, transcending into the deep forests of primeval times. Born from the ashes of the Maryland doom band Blood Raven, the new three-piece emerged in 2017 as frontman Dana Helmuth’s new vehicle to embrace the darkness and doom. Confident in Maria Geisbert and Mike Tull as his new rhythm section, Helmuth’s inspiration was fueled exponentially.

“We had moved back to the country, into a small cottage in the woods, with no plumbing for the first three months we were there,” describes Helmuth. “We had an outhouse and outdoor shower. It was primitive, and it was during that time that I started writing all the material for Death Ritual. The solitude and the darkness of the night put me in a space of prolific writing and I wrote all eight songs in a month. We rehearsed three times a week and immediately started playing live shows regularly in Baltimore and New York City. We were able to channel that same darkness in the writing, also into our live shows, and the positive response was tremendous and really pushed us harder on our journey.”

In fact, “journey” is exactly what YATRA symbolizes. While traveling through Nepal and the Himalayas by motorcycle in 2013, Helmuth learned the native word “yatra” which means journey or pilgrimage, which he later recalled as the namesake of this new doom trio. The band’s eclectic sound combines the harsh, distorted vocal sounds of black metal over slow, heavy doom drones, fuzzed-out sludge riffs, and a tight rhythm section maintained by Maria Geisbert on bass and Mike Tull on drums. YATRA’s sound clearly conveys heavy worship and dedication to tone. Helmuth’s lyrics draw from fantasy and are influenced by the writings of Howard, Lovecraft, Auel, Tolkien, as well as many references to Norse mythology and Pagan ritual. No love or politics. Fans of Electric Wizard, Cough, and Sleep will find plenty to love in Death Ritual.

YATRA’s full-length debut, Death Ritual was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Grimoire Records’ Noel Mueller in August of 2018. The artwork features four mixed-media pieces by Aki Pitkänen, layout by Mueller, and the hand-drawn logotype by Dana Helmuth.

Death Ritual will be released on CD and digital download via Grimoire Records, and as a limited-edition vinyl release directly from the band, on January 4th, 2019. Find preorders HERE and watch for audio samples, tour dates, and more to be posted shortly.

Death Ritual Track Listing:
1. Hour Of The Dragon
2. Black Moon
3. Sacred Flower
4. Snakes In The Temple
5. Smoke Is Rising
6. Four Directions
7. Mighty Arrows
8. Sailing On

YATRA:
Dana Helmuth – guitars/vocals
Maria Geisbert – bass
Mike Tull – drums

http://www.facebook.com/yatradoom
https://yatradoom.bandcamp.com
http://www.grimoirerecords.com
http://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/GrimoireRecords
https://twitter.com/grimoiremetal

Yatra, “Black Moon” official track premiere

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Thought Eater Premiere “Bones in the Fire Pt. 1”; Album out May 18 on Grimoire Records

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

thought eater

One has to wonder if when Baltimore’s Thought Eater chose their moniker they imagined they’d ever write material so evocative as that on their debut album, Bones in the Fire. Set for digital issue on May 18 via respected purveyor Grimoire Records, the new release runs an instrumentalist gamut from modern progressive metal to folk-tinged classic Zeppelinist whathaveyou, and with six tracks and a 40-minute playthrough, songs like “Speak Through Dreams,” “Covenant” and the two-part title-track — the first piece of which opens the record, the second is penultimate to closer “Umwelt” — there’s plenty of room for both sonic exploration and a current of noise rock to show themselves amid the central weavings of guitar and bass, reminiscent in their winding course of Leviathan-era and given added crunch of underlying aggression that staves off proggy self-indulgence entirely.

That’s not to say Bones in the Fire isn’t a progressive work. It’s just not a dick about it. The synth on “Umwelt” holds court in underscoring how far the three-piece of guitarist Douglas Griffith, 12-string bassist Darin Tambascio and drummer Bobby Murray have journeyed from “Bones in the Fire Pt. 1” and the blasting at the start of “Pantomimic Dances,” which follows, but there’s nothing overly showy about Thought Eater‘s presentation. They’re writing songs, not putting on a clinic.

And I think the difference is audible even just in the sampling you can find at the bottom of this post of the album’s wares in the form of the track premiere of “Bones in the Fire Pt. 1.” It doesn’t speak for the whole of the record stylistically, but it certainly gives a sense of the Noel Mueller-recorded impact that Thought Eater make in terms of tone and rhythmic intensity.

One more time, release date is May 18. Here’s info off the PR wire and that track premiere for your streaming enjoyment:

thought eater bones in the fire

I’m glad to report that we’ve finished work on Thought Eater’s first proper full-length album, titled “Bones in the Fire.” This is the follow up to their first release, a split with Iron Jawed Guru called Vortex 6.

A brand new three-piece instrumental band from Baltimore, MD, featuring a 12-string bass through a big muff. This monstrosity is a standard bass with three of everything, producing a bizarre double-vision effect on every note. Uniquely hypnotic riffs reminiscent of High On Fire and Mastodon along with Black Sabbath-esque tempo changes are woven into angular, odd-time compositions. Prior to forming Though Eater, bassist Darin Tambascio was a founding member of the prog metal two-piece National Sunday Law and Graviton, which featured both members of NSL and Sacha Dunable from Intronaut.”

The crazy sounding 12 string bass is actually more prominent than ever, as is a more significant sprinkling of shimmery 12 string acoustic guitar, and occasional synths for added texture. However, on this album, you will find more a sprawling, almost meditative atmosphere, more proggy riffs, more weird harmonies, just.. more everything. They still sound like High on Fire, early Mastodon, and Zebulon Pike, but have managed to grow a couple of mutant appendages to their sound.

Here’s the pre-order page: https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/bones-in-the-fire

“Bones in the Fire” is released on 5/18/18 world wide as a digital download via Grimoire Records. Will be available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon mp3, and direct download through Bandcamp. No physical release for this one!

Thought Eater is Darin Tambascio (12 string bass), Douglas Griffith (guitar), and Bobby Murray (drums). “Bones in the Fire” was recorded by Noel Mueller in November of 2017 and January of 2018. Mixed and Mastered by Noel Mueller. Artwork by Andrew Notsch. © 2018 Grimoire Records.

https://www.facebook.com/thoughteaterband
https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/bones-in-the-fire

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Gloop Announce The Tourist Due June 1; Premiere “Samurai Birthday”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

gloop

It slices! It dices! It… has riffs! Frederick, Maryland-based noisemakers Gloop may or may not cut through a thick-skinned tomato like it’s warm butter, but there is a definite sharpness to their forthcoming The Tourist release. Due out June 1 through respected recording house/release shop Grimoire Records, the eight-track outing is only 17 minutes long, but I’m inclined to call it a full-length anyway as there’s not much more I think one might ask of it than it delivers in terms of impact, flow — such as it is for material so angular in nature — and intensity. Punk in its roots, Gloop‘s second EP overall seems way more loyal to shenanigans than to genre, and that serves them well throughout.

One is reminded of mid-’90s Midwestern noise and post-hardcore acts who captured a similar head-about-to-explode unhinged sensibility to that which Gloop bring to a song like closer “Dancing Tongues” — among the longest cuts on The Tourist at a sprawling 2:42 — and that impression is only furthered by the raw recording job of Grimoire head Noel Mueller, who captures every crack in the voice of guitarist Dominic Gianninoto (also of Rhin), as well as the deft turns of drummer Max Detrich and bassist Blake Douglas on early rocker “Skunked” or the explosive 1:23-long “Salamander.” Whatever their sonic intention, Gloop harken to an age when post-hardcore was newly grown and still finding its way, kicking and screaming. They seem to be doing likewise, and the freshness of their approach suits them.

At the bottom of this post, you can stream the official premiere of “Samurai Birthday” from The Tourist. Though especially brief at 1:15, it nonetheless represents the frenetic energy of Gloop well and gives a quick, sans-bullshit glimpse of what they’re all about on an aesthetic level.

Mueller sent along the following info to go with the track premiere, including the preorder link for the album and tour dates. Have at it:

gloop the tourist

The band is called Gloop, and the release is a ~18 minute long ripper, short, sweet and insane sounding (probably the most shamelessly dirty and roomy recording I’ve ever done).

The band features Dominic Giannotto from Rhin on vocals and guitar. They’re a 3 piece noise rock/sludge band from Frederick, MD, and this is their second release and first time working with me/Grimoire Records.

The pre-order page: https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-tourist

“The Tourist” is released on 6/1/18 on Limited Edition CD and high quality cassette, and digitally via Grimoire Records.

The band has the following dates lined up to celebrate the release:

6/07 Frederick, MD
6/07 Harrisonburg, VA
6/09 Charlottesville VA
6/10 Shepherdstown, WV
6/15 Philadelphia, PA
6/16 New York, NY
6/17 Baltimore, MD matinee with Thought Eater and Myopic
6/17 Harrisburg, PA

Credits:
Max Detrich – drums
Dominic Gianninoto – guitar/vox
Blake Douglas – bass

“The Tourist” was recorded by Noel Mueller on December 9th and 10th, 2017. Mixed and mastered by Noel Mueller for Gloop and Grimoire Records. Cover art by Mindy Sizemore, typography by Max, Blake and Dom, layout by Noel Mueller.

https://www.facebook.com/gloopband/
https://gloopmusic.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/GrimoireRecords/
https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-tourist

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Snakefeast to Release In Chaos, Solace March 2; Premiere New Track

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

snakefeast

Like a good challenge? Sweet, because if you think you’re up for it, Baltimorean guitar-eschewing foursome Snakefeast throw down a rampaging tumult of weirdness on their impending long-player, In Chaos, Solace. Their second album for Grimoire Records and set for release on March 2, it’s an eight-song, 31-minute excursion into brutalist angularism, noise and pummel, and if that sounds scary, rest assured, it is. But what’s truly terrifying? There’s a plan at work. It’s a plan like something out of a nightmare that would keep Mike Patton up in the wee hours, but a plan just the same.

To wit, the blends of jazzy runs between Aran Keating‘s tenor sax and the start-stop bass staccato of from Carson Korman on “Ruin” or the way the earlier “Shroud” screeches out before leaning into its groove coming out of the deceptively atmospheric opener “Pyre.” Whether it’s drummer Dave Cavalier (also of Black Lung) matching Keating‘s jumping notes with pops on his snare or providing a foundation of tom runs beneath the largely indecipherable growls of Grimoire‘s own Phil Doccolo in the second half of the penultimate “Era,” or the simple choice on the part of the band to cap the record with a take on Queen‘s “Ogre Battle” from Queen II — which would also seem to be the only track the band has recorded with a title more than one word long — Snakefeast‘s sophomore full-length may indeed be living up to its title for the group itself, but it offers precious little quarter to those who’d be bold enough to take it on front to back.

It can be a fine line between experimentalism and progressivism when it comes to a given band’s style. As regards Snakefeast, I lean more toward the latter and think of In Chaos, Solace as a fusion of jazz, metal, weighted-groove grind and post-hardcore, but however many subgenres they may or may not be throwing into their scorching aesthetic melting pot, they’re unquestionably working on a wavelength of their own and seem only too proud to showcase that fact in their material. That plan that underlies all the outward bombast and torrential intensity? They pull it off.

You’ll find a track premiere for “Pyre” at the bottom of this post. More info on the album, including a quote from the band, follows:

snakefeast in chaos solace

Snakefeast – In Chaos, Solace

Snakefeast’s 2018 full-length “In Chaos, Solace” is the long awaited follow up to their 2015 album “The Pythoness,” which was their first proper album, following a short split they did with fellow Baltimore band Queenwolf in 2014.

Snakefeast is a 4 piece, totally guitar-free band, featuring blues-prog riffs galore on bass, groovy-yet-crisply-technical drumming, sprawling saxophone parts woven throughout, and Phil Doccolo on amorphous screams.

This is their first full-length that was written with a dedicated sax player in the band for the songwriting, as opposed to just adding sax during the recording process, which is what they had done on their previous releases. You may recognize their drummer, Dave Cavalier, from his role as guitarist and vocalist in Baltimore’s Black Lung.

Tracklisting:
1. Pyre
2. Shroud
3. Itch
4. Ruin
5. Tome
6. Coven
7. Era
8. Ogre Battle

Releases March 2, 2018.

Snakefeast on “Pyre”:

“We used to be a three-piece with intermittent saxophone, but now the saxophone is a key part of our sound and composition. We started treating the sax like a vocalist, and the vocals as more of a textural element. We’ve always sought to combine jazz and metal aesthetics and continue to explore new ways to achieve this through our choice of instruments and song structures.”

Snakefeast is:
Dave Cavalier – Drums
Carson Korman – Bass Guitar
Phil Doccolo – Vocals
Aran Keating – Tenor Saxophone

https://www.facebook.com/Snakefeast/
https://snakefeast.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/GrimoireRecords
https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/

Snakefeast, “Pyre” track premiere

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Blood Mist Change Name to Haze Mage

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

haze mage photo rock n roll socialite

Pretty familiar situation by now, I’d think. Baltimore’s Blood Mist put out their self-titled debut EP (review here) earlier this year on Grimoire Records, and got a pretty solid response for its blend of classic metal and doomly stylizations. Unfortunately, among the responses they got was from another band with a similar name who harangued them into changing their moniker, which they’ve now done, becoming Haze Mage.

One recalls in the middle of the last decade when the same thing happened to Mike Scheidt with Middian actually being sued, leading to the dissolution of that group. Well, then YOB got back together and put out The Great Cessation, so if Haze Mage want an example of putting being pissed off to really good use, one could hardly think of any more appropriate. Go get ’em, Haze Mage.

The band announced the change on Halloween thusly:

haze mage logo

On this, the eve of all Hallows day, spirits phase in and out of our reality, twisting our perception into madness. The reality we once knew was lost inside a thick crimson fog, and it was there in the Blood Mist where we were battle tested and thrust into an adventure of our own design. Now forged in the fight, the cloud of sanguine fluid has settled back into the ground from whence it came, where it will remain forevermore.

But where one malevolent force dissipates, another one slowly fades into view. A deep sunken dread that pounds inside your mind, beckoning you with an unknown terror. Barely visible, a single silhouette shrouded in blackness, the shadowy towering figure layered behind curtains of effluvium that envelope it. It’s clawed hands raise to the empyrean, slivered eyes glow red and massive spiked horns cut through the vapor to reveal the master of this miasma of smothering murk. A new age has begun. It is the age of the HAZE MAGE. And henceforth it shall be known we are it’s disciples and so should be you.

Haze Mage is John de Campos (drums), Matthew Casella (vocals), Nick Jewett (guitar), Kevin Considine (guitar), and Scott Brenner (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/hazemage/
https://www.instagram.com/hazemage/
https://hazemage.bandcamp.com/releases
https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com

Haze Mage, Blood Mist (2017)

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Thonian Horde Debut “Helltrain”; New Album Inconnu out Sept. 22 on Grimoire Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Thonian-horde-Shane-Gardner-rock-n-roll-socialite

Sometimes puzzle pieces fit together so well you have trouble seeing it. So it is with Thonian Horde and Grimoire Records. With the band’s extreme take on heavy, their being located in Maryland and with the impressive onslaught they brought to bear in raw fashion on their 2016 self-titled debut (review here), they’re such a perfect match for working with Grimoire that I’m sitting here slapping my forehead because I can’t believe I didn’t see it coming. I’m a little ashamed to not have thought of it, to be honest.

Nonetheless, it’s happened, and Thonian Horde will release the Noel Mueller-recorded Inconnu Sept. 22 with a Grimoire stamp of approval. Can’t help but feel like that’s the way it should be.

The band are premiering the track “Helltrain” at the bottom of this post, and it’s got all the caustic torment you could possibly ask for. Enjoy it as you peruse the following PR wire info:

thonian horde inconnu

Thonian Horde “Inconnu” out 9/22/17 on Grimoire Records

This is a proper full-length release, with 10 tracks of thrashy black n’ roll for fans of Immortal, Satyricon, Dissection. The drums and bass were done in a single day, mostly live, in the Grimoire Studio (no reverb was used on the drums, thats au naturale Grimoire room reverb on that snare!). The final guitars and vocals were recorded shortly after, and the final master was wrapped up within about a week after the tracking was complete. The cover art was provided by the very talented Gilbert Miranda for Lingua Mortis Artwork, and the CD layout was finished by me.

“Inconnu” is released via limited edition CD and digital download on 9/22/17 through Grimoire Records.

Credits:
Thonain Horde is FeZZy (Bass & Vox), Dirty (Guitars), D-Mize (Lead Guitar), Tyler “The Beast” Lee (Drums). “Inconnu” was recorded on May 27th 2017 by Noel Mueller. Mixed and mastered by Noel Mueller. Cover art by Gilbert Miranda for Lingua Mortis Artwork.

https://www.facebook.com/thonianhordeofficial
https://www.facebook.com/grimoirerecords
https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/inconnu
https://thonianhorde.bandcamp.com/releases

Thonian Horde, “Helltrain” official premiere

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Blood Mist Premiere “Goblin Overload”; Self-Titled EP Due Feb. 10

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on January 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

blood mist

Call it a flair for the epic, but as Baltimorean five-piece Blood Mist make their debut Feb. 10 on Grimoire Records with their self-titled five-track EP, the pattern of classic metal grandiosity and swinging-mug heavy rock groove can’t be missed. Across the 25-minute outing, the relative newcomers show marked cohesion of purpose in taking cues from early, pre-self-parody Danzig as well as Candlemass, but even with those names as core influences, I wouldn’t necessarily tag them as only being a doom band. Certainly those elements are there, as one can hear by the chugging slowdown that finishes opener “Burn the Trees” as much as the foreboding guitar and cymbal wash interplay that begins the subsequent “Blood Mist,” but guitarists Kevin Considine and Nick Jewett, vocalist Matt Casella, bassist Scott Brenner and drummer John de Campos (also artwork) pick up into near-High on Fire onslaught later in their eponymous cut. With the sense of drama that Casella brings to his approach, in places calling to mind Scott Reagers as well as the likes of Witchfinder General and others from the NWOBHM, everything Blood Mist do on this offering just feels that much bigger.

Blood Mist hits its most fervent nod in righteously-titled centerpiece “Goblin Overload,” pulling back on the tempo, upping the fuzz and giving Casella and the lead guitar all the more room to flesh out what were already impressive performances, some of the shoutier vocals recalling King Giant, but ultimately winding up less burly as they set up a transition into speedier fare circa the four-minute mark, de Campos taking point in pushing the song to its break, when it snaps back into a mid-paced revisit of its chorus to end with what seems to be a well-earned big rock finish. Dueling leads start the shorter, faster “As the Crow,” which highlights its hook as it courses through like something that might’ve opened a Dio-era Sabbath record en route to what seems to be a companion piece in closer “My Lord.” The finale is the only song included under four minutes long, but the impression it leaves is brash and substantial in kind, setting up its last minute as a build into a final thrust that comes topped with more stellar guitar soloing and righteous crash for an ending that, to be perfectly honest, probably could’ve ridden out its groove for another two or three minutes at least if it wanted to. Maybe next time.

Take that “maybe next time” as evidence of a desire to hear more from Blood Mist. The band treads on some dangerous ground in providing a next-gen take on traditionalism of sound coming from where they do — Baltimore has some very definite ideas about what makes a doom or otherwise heavy record — but frankly, that’s how innovation happens. Like all of Grimoire‘s fare, the EP was recorded by Noel Mueller, who gives ample space to each instrument (vocals included) while bringing them together all the more as a unit priming themselves to develop the potential to capture hearts and minds of heshers and weirdos alike. As with many early releases, debut EPs, etc., it’s hard to guess where Blood Mist might go from here — “Blood Mist” and “My Lord” are very different tracks, may have been written over a greater span of time, and so on, and while they sound like they’re all-in from the start of “Burn the Trees,” there’s yet no context for assessing what their sonic intent will be over the longer term. However, Blood Mist excite with the possibility of what their metallically-tinged heavy could become on this initial collection and already showcase a will to distinguish themselves from their surroundings. Do it loudly enough and someone’s bound to pay attention.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting “Goblin Overload” as a track premiere ahead of Blood Mist‘s Feb. 10 arrival. Please find it on the player below, followed by the release announcement courtesy of Grimoire, and enjoy:

Formed in 2015 and hitting the stage in March of 2016 Blood Mist has been on a tear of performances sharing the stage with acts such as Valient Thorr, Black Lung, Gateway to Hell and others. This culminated in Blood Mist being invited to record with local metal label Grimiore Records and producing their self titled debut release with label head Noel Mueller.

The self-titled 5 song EP features meaty, stoner rock riffs, hard hitting drumming, ripping guitar solos, and over-the-top theatrical vocals. “Blood Mist” is only the beginning of the epic tale set to unfold. What evil power birthed the blood mist? Who will survive the roaming, rolling cloud of madness? The answers are found in the pounding, guitar driven, hazed musical metal maelstroms crafted by the now battle tested Blood Mist. Don’t miss out on the first chapter as we journey into the thick fog of destruction.

“Blood Mist” is released on February 10th, 2017 on CD and digital download via Grimoire Records and was recorded in September of 2016 by Noel Mueller in his Tiny Castle. Mixed and mastered by Noel Mueller. Artwork by John de Campos/Ghost Bat Illustration. © 2017 Grimoire Records.

Blood Mist will mark the release Feb. 10 at the Metro Gallery in Baltimore alongside local favorites Foghound, Asthma Castle, and labelmates Rhin. More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/194245330979432/

Blood Mist is:
John de Campos – Drums
Kevin Considine – Guitar
Matt Casella – Vocals
Nick Jewett – Guitar
Scott Brenner – Bass

Blood Mist on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

Posted in Features on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

Yeah, I know I said as much when the Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016 went up, but I take it back: this is the hardest list to put together. And to be honest, there’s a part of me that’s hesitant even to post it because I know as soon as I do someone’s going to be like, “No way you dick your entire existence is shit because you forgot Release X,” and very likely they’ll be right. Up to the very moment this post is going live, I’ve been making changes, and I expect I’ll continue to do so for a while after it’s out there.

So what’s a “short release?” That’s another issue. Pretty much anything that’s not an album. Singles, digital or physical, as well as EPs, splits, demos, and so on. The category becomes nebulous, but my general rule is if it’s not a full-length, it qualifies as a short release. Sounds simple until you get into things like, “Here’s a track I threw up on Bandcamp,” and “This only came out as a bonus included as a separate LP with the deluxe edition of our album.” I’m telling you, I’ve had a difficult time.

Maybe that’s just me trying to protect myself from impending wrath. This year’s Top 30 albums list provoked some vehement — and, if I may, prickishly-worded — responses, so I might be a bit gunshy here, but on the other hand, I think these outings are worth highlighting, so we’re going forward anyway. If you have something to add, please use the comments below, but remember we’re all friends here and there’s a human being on the other end reading what’s posted. Thanks in advance for that.

And since this is the last list of The Obelisk’s Best-of-2016 coverage, I’ll say thanks for reading as well. More to come in the New Year, of course.

Here we go:

scissorfight chaos county

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2016

1. Scissorfight, Chaos County EP
2. Earthless / Harsh Toke, Split
3. Mars Red Sky, Providence EP
4. Mos Generator, The Firmament
5. Soldati, Soldati
6. Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze EP
7. Wren, Host EP
8. Goya, The Enemy EP
9. The Sweet Heat, Demo
10. River Cult, Demo
11. Stinkeye, Llantera Demos
12. Megaritual, Eclipse EP
13. Ragged Barracudas / Pushy, Split
14. Mindkult, Witchs’ Oath EP
15. Iron Jawed Guru, Mata Hari EP
16. Brume, Donkey
17. Bison Machine / Wild Savages / SLO, Sweet Leaves Vol. 1 Split
18. BoneHawk / Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three Split
19. Wicked Gypsy, EP
20. Love Gang, Love Gang EP

Honorable Mention

An expansive category as ever. In addition to what’s above, the following stood out and no doubt more will be added over the course of the next few days. If you feel something is missing, please let me know.

Presented alphabetically:

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP
Candlemass, Death Thy Lover EP
Cultist, Cultist EP
Danava, At Midnight You Die 7″
Dos Malés, Dos Malés EP
Druglord, Deepest Regrets EP
Fu Manchu, Slow Ride 7″
Geezer, A Flagrant Disregard for Happiness 12″
Gorilla vs. Grifter, Split
Holy Smoke, Holy Smoke! It’s a Demo!
Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar
LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place EP
Pallbearer, Fear and Fury
Reign of Zaius, Planet Of…
Sea of Bones / Ramlord, Split
Shallows, The Moon Rises
The Skull, EP
Snowy Dunes, “Atlantis Part I” digital single
Sun Voyager / The Mad Doctors, Split
Valborg, Werwolf 7″

Notes

Was it just the raw joy of having Scissorfight back? No, but that was for sure part of it. It was also the brazenness with which the New Hampshire outfit let go of their past, particularly frontman Christopher “Ironlung” Shurtleff, and moved forward unwilling to compromise what they wanted to do that made their Chaos County so respectable in my eyes. Having always flourished in the form, they delivered an EP of classic Scissorfight tunes and issued a stiff middle finger to anyone who would dare call them otherwise. They couldn’t have been more themselves no matter who was in the band.

At the same time, it was a hard choice between that and the Earthless / Harsh Toke split for the top spot. I mean, seriously. It’s Earthless — who at this point are the godfathers of West Coast jamadelica — and Harsh Toke, who are among the style’s most engaging upstart purveyors, each stretching out over a huge and encompassing single track. I couldn’t stop listening to that one if I wanted to, and as the year went on, I found I never wanted to.

I was glad when Mars Red Sky included the title-track of the Providence EP as a bonus cut on their subsequent album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), both because it tied the two releases together even further and because it gave me another opportunity to hear it every time I listened to the record. Their short releases have always shown significant character apart from their full-lengths, and this was no exception. I still tear up when I hear “Sapphire Vessel.”

To bounce around a bit: Had to get Mos Generator on the list for the progressive expansion of the live-recorded The Firmament. Stickman was right to put that out on vinyl. Both Monolord and Goya provided quick outings of huge riffs to sate their respective and growing followings, while Megaritual’s Eclipse basked in drone serenity and the debut release from Sergio Ch.’s Soldati provided hard-driving heavy rock with the particular nuance for which the former Los Natas frontman is known. It’s the highest among a slew of first/early outings — see also The Sweet Heat, Wren (Host was their second EP), River Cult’s demo, Stinkeye, Mindkult, Iron Jawed Guru, Brume, Wicked Gypsy and Love Gang.

Ultimately, there were fewer splits on the list this year than last year, but I’ll credit that to happenstance more than any emergent bias against the form or lack of quality in terms of what actually came out. The BoneHawk and Kingnomad release, the Ragged Barracudas and Pushy split, and that heavy rocking onslaught from Bison Machine and company were all certainly welcome by me, and I’ll mention Gorilla vs. Grifter there too again, just because it was awesome.

One more time, thank you for reading, and if you have something to add, please do so in the comments below. Your civility in that regard is appreciated.

This is the last of my lists for 2016, but the Readers Poll results are out Jan. 1 and the New Year hits next week and that brings a whole new round of looking-forward coverage, so stay tuned.

As always, there’s much more to come.

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