Review & Full Album Stream: The Lone Madman, Let the Night Come

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the lone madman let the night come

[Click play above to stream Let the Night Come by The Lone Madman in its entirety. Album is out Oct. 25 on Saturnal Records.]

With the melodic grandeur of Candlemass, the grim moral certitude of Reverend Bizarre and a patient-but-intense severity behind their execution across four mostly-extended tracks of darkened doom, Helsinki, Finland’s The Lone Madman offer an unconventional take on the genre’s traditional elements with their Saturnal-issued debut LP, Let the Night Come. A dual-guitar four-piece with Turkka Inkilä (also vocals) and Juuso Raunio handling the downtrodden riffery, Veera Vallinkoski on bass and Leevi Lönnrot on drums, there isn’t much about the group on paper that would make one necessarily expect anything crazy from the 42-minute proceedings. They’ve been together for five years, released a single and their Dreary Task EP in 2016, have played shows mostly around their hometown and are very clearly dug into doom as a foundation for what they do. Fine. Certainly there are worse places to start, but unless one has a particular fetish for Finnish doom — which would be understandable — there’s not much to immediately catch the brain. No gimmick to speak of. Even when the flute shows up in “Häxan,” it feels reasonable. But The Lone Madman nonetheless subtly bring together shades of NWOBHM self-righteousness with doom’s utter disaffection in a way that strikes a surprisingly individualized note. The gang shouts in “The Downfall” feel to my East Coast US ears derived from Type O Negative, while some of Inkilä‘s melodies on vocals bring to mind a Finnfolk-infused vision of underground metal that’s a tradition unto itself, apart from doom or anything else.

The Lone Madman thrive in this context, offering little by way of letup in terms of the emotional and spiritual downerism being showcased. From the catchy opening provided by the title-track to the plotted lead in the first half of closer “House of Mourning” before a tempo kick ignites a midsection charge — leading, naturally, to the final slowdown acting as the apex of the song — this is not drink-a-beer-and-ride-a-motorcycle doom, or if it is, it’s with the addendum of being miserable while doing so. Perhaps helping distinguish Let the Night Come from some of its traditionalist forebears (Reverend Bizarre notwithstanding) is the fact that the material feels purposefully longform. The penultimate “Häxan” (7:29) is the only inclusion under 11 minutes long, while “Let the Night Come” (11:04),” “The Downfall” (11:27) and “House of Mourning” (12:47) each seem to push deeper into the spiritual miasma in which the band are, well, not quite reveling — that would imply some kind of celebration — but certainly enamored. This I guess leads to another impressive aspect of Let the Night Come, particularly as The Lone Madman‘s debut album, in that it presents itself in this emotional mire and down-down-down existentialist position, but it isn’t a drag to hear. Of course that’s owed to the songwriting generally, and also to the band’s will to throw in a curve every now and again, usually on a one-per song basis.

the lone madman

That’s maybe how you wind up with the gang shouts on “The Downfall,” the flute on “Häxan,” later Valborgian shouts and the faster solo that tops the (relative) thrust in “House of Mourning.” With “Let the Night Come” at the outset, The Lone Madman set a working foundation for themselves by giving their audience a straightforward look at their style, with a strong presence from Inkilä on vocals and hints at layering of melodies, crashing riffs and flourish of softer complementary meanderings that enhance the overarching impact of that to which they invariably lead, i.e. more doom. I wouldn’t suggest The Lone Madman — yes, all four of them — sat down and decided they needed a way to change up each track on the album just a little bit, but following an instinct for what a given song needs in its arrangement isn’t something to be ignored in a band’s sound. Especially on their first record. So as Let the Night Come unfolds, it sees the band making these decisions with clarity and purpose, resulting in a whole that’s even richer than it would otherwise be, tense in its execution, but using that to help convey its emotional state, not beating the listener over the head with its depression diagnosis as some modern melodic doom can do, but finding a ground that expresses such a state on multiple levels. The changes from song to song, while minute on the bigger scale of the album itself — it’s not like at some point they put the guitars down and pick up a lute; though if they did I bet they could make that work — bolster the underlying affect.

At the same time, there’s a formative feel to Let the Night Come as well, as though this instinct is really just beginning a larger exploration of style and intent and that, yeah, The Lone Madman may get those lutes yet, or at least a kantele. Or maybe just some keyboard. Either way, the ground they lay out on these tracks holds the potential for future statements even as they make their own in the present, bringing a weight of atmosphere as much as tone while remaining mindful of its roots and striving toward something more individual. There’s little else one could reasonably ask of a debut album, and though living in a culture of mass shootings, an American might raise an eyebrow at a moniker like The Lone Madman, it’s worth keeping in mind that Finland, by contrast, had three such sprees between 2008 and 2013, and for what it’s worth, the band give no outward signs of being fascinated with political extremism of any sort. With the storytelling of “Häxan” perhaps as an exception, they seem more concerned with inner turmoil and alienation, and though their sound is cold and isolated, its nascent outward reach demonstrates a will to progress that one hopes The Lone Madman pursue as they move forward. As it is, they find a balance where they need one and thereby secure a place for themselves to proceed however they should desire to do so. Future prospects are exciting, but present accomplishments shouldn’t be overlooked on that account either.

The Lone Madman on Thee Facebooks

The Lone Madman on Bandcamp

Saturnal Records on Thee Facebooks

Saturnal Records on Bandcamp

Saturnal Records website

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Desert Hel 2020: New Finnish Fest Announces Lucifer, Lonely Kamel and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desert hel 2020 banner

Desert Hel is a new heavy fest marking its debut in Finland next April. It’s ‘Hel’ as in -sinki, and the two-dayer is set to take place April 24-25 at On the Rocks in the Finnish capitol. It’s not affiliated with Desertfest in any way so far as I know, but they’ve pulled together a solid lineup nonetheless, with multinational acts Lucifer (UK/Sweden) and Lonely Kamel (Norway) headlining and the likes of natives Craneium and Kaleidobolt and Russia’s The Re-Stoned offering their support of the endeavor. Also noteworthy is the cleverly named One Inch Band, who’ll play not just a set of Kyuss covers, but specifically the setlist that the desert rock legends played at the much-bootlegged Bizarre Festival in 1995. If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, I don’t know what might.

The info below has been run through a major tech company’s translation matrix, but should still be enough for you to get the idea. Spring in Europe is always a busy time, but Desert Hel 2020 promises to bring something to the northern part of the continent that seems well due.

Word follows:

desert hel 2020 poster

Desert Hel is a new stoner & doom music festival in Helsinki. The first event will take place at On the Rocks on 24th-25th of April, 2020! Ticket sale starts on Thursday 10.10.2019

The new Desert Hel Festival, focused on stoner and doom music, will take place 24-25 April 2020 at the Helsinki On the Rocks Club. In addition to foreign and domestic bands, it is also possible to enjoy craft beers and food served during the festival. Tickets for the event will go on sale at Tiketti on Thursday, October 10, 2009 at 9:00 am.

On Friday, the festival’s main performer will be the Swedish heavy rock band Lucifer, who is preparing for the new album. Nicke Andersson, a multifunctional artist known for Hellacopters and Emtombed. Friday’s program will be complemented by Re-Stoned, the Moscow-based messenger of psychedelic Instrumental stoner, Craneium playing heavy-duty riffs, and Jupiter, a psych-rock band.

On Saturday, the show features Norwegian heavy blues and stoner Lonely Kamel, Helsinki-based power trio Kaleidobolt, Thermate from the 70’s heavy and 90’s stoner rock, and Kaiser playing the majestic cruel desert fuzz. In addition, Desert Hel’s backing party picks up a tribute band, One Inch Band plays Kyuss, for Saturday night, which plays Kyuss’s 1995 Bizarre Festival set list.

LINE UP
FRIDAY:
LUCIFER (SWE)
The Re-Stoned (RUS)
Craneium
Jupiter

SATURDAY:
Lonely Kamel (NOR)
KALEIDOBOLT
Thermate
Kaiser
One Inch Band plays Kyuss

Tickets:
Fri 24€/25€
Sat 22€/23€
2 days 42€/45€

https://www.tiketti.fi/desert-hel-2020-on-the-rocks-helsinki-lippuja/65169
https://www.facebook.com/DesertHel/
https://www.facebook.com/events/692507427920533/

Lonely Kamel, Death’s-Head Hawkmoth (2018)

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Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, War Cloud, Here Lies Man, Book of Wyrms, Möyhy-Veikot, Darsombra, Set Fire, Jesus the Snake, Föllakzoid, Dresden Wolves

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Had to take a second this morning to get my email back under 100 unread. It currently stands at 95. There’s just something about being in triple digits that I can’t stand. Press releases and stuff I can usually file right away since not everything’s relevant to the site, etc., but that’s all stuff that either wants follow-up or could be a factor here if there was time. I do my best to try to keep up. And I fail, consistently.

The tradeoff, of course, is I spend that time writing reviews and other stuff for the site. Today’s hump day when we pass the halfway mark of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, and we’re doing it in absolutely all-over-the-place style, so all the better. Some pretty familiar names today, but some that might not be as well, so whatever your poison, I hope you enjoy the picking.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Russian Circles, Blood Year

russian circles blood year

There’s simply no denying the force behind the depths and swell of a song like “Kohokia” on Russian Circles‘ latest offering, Blood Year (Sargent House), and though one knows what to expect to some degree from the Chicago heavy post-rockers at this point in their career, they seem to be doing all they can to deliver their instrumental progressions with energy to match the breadth of the spaces and the heft they conjure. Like 2016’s Guidance (review here), the seven-track/39-minute Blood Year — was recorded with Kurt Ballou, whom the trio imported to their hometown to work at Electrical Audio (aka Steve Albini‘s stomping ground) instead of traveling to Massachusetts to track at Ballou‘s Godcity. If it was the long-famed drum sound of Electrical Audio that they wanted and the live feel that so many of the recordings done there have, they got both, so mark it a success and another notch in the belt of one of the heavy underground’s most immersive and evocative outfits. Their building and releasing of tension is second to none and moves into the spiritual by the time they even get to side B, let alone through it.

Russian Circles on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

War Cloud, State of Shock

war cloud state of shock

Oh, the riffs you’ll gallop. Oakland, California’s War Cloud skirt the line between classic thrash and heavy rock and roll on their second album for Ripple Music, State of Shock, and from the sound of things, they have a good time doing it. The record’s not much over a half-hour long, which is as it should be for this kind of party, and they toy a bit with the balance between their two sides on a rocker like “Do Anything” or the subsequent “Means of Your Defeat” on side B, but the main crux of State of Shock and certainly the impression it makes off the bat with “Striker” and “White Lightning” up front ahead of the six-minute that-moment-when-ThinLizzy-turned-into-IronMaiden “Dangerous Game” is one of homage to the metal of yore, and in following-up the band’s 2017 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a showcase of energy and craft alike as two guitars shred, chug, groove and charge through the material. If they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d say something about getting caught in a mosh. As it stands, I’ll go with urging you to jump in the fire instead. Horns up, either way.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon

here lies man no ground to walk upon

They should’ve just called it an album. Yeah, it would be short at 26 or so minutes, but it’s got everything you’d want from a full-length, and if they’d put a four-minute jam or something on it, they’d have been there anyhow. In any case, Los Angeles’ Afrobeat-infused heavy psych rockers Here Lies Man present seven tracks of dug-in glory with No Ground to Walk Upon (on RidingEasy), continuing to build on the potential shown across their first two LPs, 2017’s self-titled debut (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), even as they swagger their way through a groove like “Long Legs (Look Away)” and show their continued forward potential. They continue to be a special band — the kind of band who doesn’t just come along every day and who shouldn’t be overlooked during their time, because maybe they’ll be around 30 years and maybe they won’t, but what they’re doing now is bringing something wholly individual to a heavy context. They’ve already proven influential to some degree, but listening to No Ground to Walk Upon cuts like the dream-keyed “Iron Rattles” and the opening strut-into-drone of “Clad in Silver,” one wonders if they wouldn’t be more so if people weren’t too afraid to try to pull this thing off. Hard to argue with that, since more likely than not most couldn’t.

Here Lies Man on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Remythologizer

Book of Wyrms Remythologizer

I won’t take anything away from the eight-minute “Blacklight Warpriest” earlier in the offering, but the highlight of Book of Wyrms‘ second album, Remythologizer (on Twin Earth & Stoner Witch Records) has to be the closing “Dust Toad,” which at 9:25 is the longest track and the slowest crawl included. Led into by the synth-infused “Curse of the Werecop,” it takes the crunch that showed itself through opener “Autumnal Snow” and, later, the melody and swing of “Undead Pegasus” — as seen on the cover art — and brings them together in order to perfectly summarize the doom rocking ethic the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece are working from. Tonally righteous and more solvent in their songwriting than they were on their 2017 debut, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), the band sound assured as they move in “Spirit Drifter” from a standout keyboard line to a likewise standout guitar solo, giving a feeling of progressive nuance that’s continuing to take hold in their sound, balanced by the underlying naturalism of their approach. That dynamic continues to duke it out on Remythologizer, much to the benefit of anyone who takes the record on.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Möyhy-Veikot, Huume Jet Set Life

moyhy-veikot huume jet set life

Too weird for planet earth and, well, probably too weird for anywhere else too, Helsinki psych-space-kraut-whathaveyou experimentalists issue their third tape in the form of Huume Jet Set Life and whether it’s the cosmo-jamming on “MITÄ ON TULLUT VEDETTYÄ?” or the who-the-hell-knows-what-ism of “MEDIA-AJOJAHTI 2000,” the band at no point fail to make an impression of being out there in the far gone far out there reaches of the far out there. Talkin’ freaked out next level total, like the cassette just fell into the atmosphere to represent some other planet’s culture where things are both dangerous and interesting and you never really know if you’re going to get laid or eaten or both. Still, they may be doing math of the likes not yet conceived by humanity, but Möyhy-Veikot go about it in suitably friendly if totally over-the-top fashion, and it’s fun to play along while also being completely overwhelmed at the various pushes and pulls happening all at once, the media samples and the Windows 95 compatibility of it all. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for disco.

Möyhy-Veikot on Thee Facebooks

Möyhy-Veikot on Bandcamp

 

Darsombra, Transmission

Darsombra Transmission

It’s just lovely. Really. In some ways it feels like the 41:20 single-track full-length Transmission — self-released, no less — is what Baltimore ambient exploratory two-piece Darsombra have been building toward all along, but I think the truth is they probably could’ve done this at any time if they’d chosen to do so. Still, the fluidity of “Transmission” itself is something special, with its cascades of manipulated voice, riffs that swell and recede, loops, synth and somehow-manifested light that are as much immersion for the spirit as the eardrum. One doesn’t want to dive too deep into hyperbole and oversell it to the point of dulling the listener’s own impression, but Transmission is the kind of record that even those who profess to never “get” drone or noise offerings can engage with. Part of that is owed to Brian Daniloski‘s guitar, which provides landmarks along the path of swirl conjured by his own effects and the synth from Ann Everton (both add vocals where applicable; don’t look for lyrics or verses) that allow those who’d take it on to do so more easily. But the real joy in Transmission is letting go and allowing the piece to carry you along its progressive course, genuine in its reaching for the unknown. Plus there’s a gong, and that’s always fun too. Go with it.

Darsombra on Thee Facebooks

Darsombra on Bandcamp

 

Set Fire, Traya

set fire traya

Traya is the third three-song full-length from Boston’s Set Fire, and it would seem that, and in addition to marking the last recording to feature drummer Rob Davol, who’s since been replaced by Josh Cronin, it would seem to show the three-piece nailing their sound of classic-tinged duet-fronted heavy rock and roll. With two powerhouse vocalists on board in guitarist Jim Healey (We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, etc.) and keyboardist Jess Collins (ex-Mellow Bravo), they work in varying arrangements across a meager 12-minute run that feels short mostly because it is short. Too short. “Any Place Left” puts Collins in the foreground, while “Sacred Song” is more Healey‘s, and unsurprisingly to anyone who’s experienced their past work either together or separate, they’re more than able to carry the material — only more so with the other party backing. “Waves” brings them together around theatrical layers of piano and keyboard and guitar, and that they manage to hold it steady at all, let alone take flight as it does, speaks to how ready they are to embark on a longer offering. Put out an album, already, would ya?

Set Fire on Thee Facebooks

Set Fire on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Black Acid, Pink Rain

Jesus the Snake Black Acid Pink Rain

For those feeling adventurous, Portugal’s Jesus the Snake follow-up their 2017 self-titled EP (review here) with the unmitigated warmth of Black Acid, Pink Rain, their live-recorded full-length debut. And for the sort of heavy psych-jazz-prog meandering, one would almost expect the organ-laced instrumentalist four-piece to track the record as they perform it, if not front-to-back then certainly one song at a time across multiple takes. Not one piece of the five total on the 49-minute offering is under eight minutes long, and sandwiched between opener “Karma” (10:28) and the closing title-track (10:55) are three cuts circa nine that prove no less hypnotic. The beginning of “Floyds I” is so fluid with the interplay of organ and guitar that one almost expects a gentle Portuguese spoken word verse to start, but of course one never does. Instead, Jesus the Snake complement mindful drift with flashes of more weighted or active fare, all the while holding to a central vibe that is peaceful even as “Duna” finds its chill before the halfway point, with no loss of spirit in the process.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

Föllakzoid, I

follakzoid i

As with any kind of sonic minimalism or release based around trance induction — see Darsombra above — there’s a certain amount of buy-in that needs to happen on the listener’s side. Accordingly, those going into the fourth LP from Chilean duo Föllakzoid, titled I and issued through Sacred Bones Records as a double-vinyl, should be aware that it’s requires that kind of interaction from one side to the other. It’s not especially loud or abrasive, or even demanding in terms of the basic sonics of the thing, but as “I” becomes “II” becomes “III” becomes “IIII” and the songs such as they are alternate between 17- and 13-minute runtimes and the blend of effects and electro beats tips to one side or the other — “II” with a fervent ‘ump-tis’ in its early going while “III” brings a more Vangelis-style cinematic wash — of course there’s an ask in terms of indulgence happening on the part of the two-piece to their audience. Whether an individual is willing to make that jump is obviously going to be up to their headspace and where they’re at, but Föllakzoid‘s work here is more than worth the investment, even for those less familiar with their methods.

Föllakzoid on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Dresden Wolves, Hiedra – Sencillo

dresden wolves Hiedra Sencillo

The sub-three-minute “Hiedra – Sencillo” is the latest in an ongoing series of digital offerings from Mexico City’s Dresden Wolves, and though the two-piece band bill themselves as post-punk and they may actually have a history in playing punk rock — stranger things have happened, certainly — the song finds them working in a taut heavy rock context, brash in delivery but not overly so as to lose the overarching swagger they seem intent on conveying. Particularly as it follows behind two EPs and a swath of other single tracks, and is offered name-your-price through their Bandcamp, “Hiedra – Sencillo” feels like its most nefarious aim is to hook anyone who’d click play on first listen and try and keep them intrigued for next time out. Fair enough. I won’t profess to know what Dresden Wolves‘ plans are, but they’ve got songwriting in their pocket and the production on “Hiedra – Sencillo” is crisp and clear enough to convey the heft of the guitar but not so much so as to dull its rawer aspects. They’ve got the balance ready to go, whatever they might choose to do with it from here.

Dresden Wolves on Thee Facebooks

Dresden Wolves on Bandcamp

 

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Kaleidobolt Announce December Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kaleidobolt

Finnish progressive heavy rockers Kaleidobolt will head out on tour in December supporting their 2019 Svart Records label debut, Bitter (review here). The shows are mostly in Germany, where they’ll play with Greenleaf and make an appearance at Freak Valley‘s annual holiday show. It’s a fair enough time for them to sneak in a run before the end of the year and stretch their legs, as they managed to likewise sneak out one of the year’s highlights in psych-adjacent heavy, tripping out organic with a sense of the otherworldly to accompany. Dudes got dynamic.

And shows. That’s always a good combination. Tour is presented by Sound of Liberation and routed as follows:

kaleidobolt bitter winter 19 tour

We’re proud to announce another tour for this fall/summer! Finnish Psychedelic Trio KALEIDOBOLT will hit the road again to promote their latest album “Bitter”, released via Svart Record about a few months ago!

Check-out the dates:
07.12.19 (D) Jena | Kulturbahnhof
08.12.19 (D) Osnabrück | Dirty + Dancing
09.12.19 (B) Diest | JH Tijl
10.12.19 (FR) Paris | Supersonic
11.12.19 (NL) Nijmegen | Merleyn
12.12.19 (NL) Drachten | Iduna
13.12.19 (D) Hamburg | Hafenklang (with Greenleaf)
14.12.19 (D) Siegen | Freak Valley X-Mas Fest
15.12.19 (D) Berlin | Urban Spree

With one foot in classic heavy power trio rock’n’roll and the other knee deep in psychedelic frenzy, Finland’s Kaleidobolt blast off into inner space with their third album Bitter. Having perfected their craft on the road all across Europe, with two previous albums under their collective belt, Kaleidobolt have become a fierce live experience, guaranteed to blow minds and ears.

Kaleidobolt, however are far from your usual deafening stoner rock experience. Their music is all about texture and depth, and beneath the lysergically frenzied riffs hide worlds of exquisite soundscapes. For the new album the band decided to take an even greater leap into worlds beyond and hired Niko Lehdontie (Kairon; IRSE! and Oranssi Pazuzu) to produce the album and Lauri Eloranta (the current go-to guy in Finland for indie pop and rock bands) to mix it.

Kaleidobolt is:
Sampo Kääriäinen – guitar, vocals
Marco Menestrina – bass, vocals
Valtteri Lindholm – drums

https://www.facebook.com/kaleidobolt
https://kaleidobolt.bandcamp.com/
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/svartrecords

Kaleidobolt, Bitter (2019)

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Stoner Kings Sign to Sliptrick Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Let’s go ahead and assume that maybe Kelsinki’s Stoner Kings, in deciding to name their new record Alpha Male, weren’t thinking of the whole internet-alt-right ‘beta male’ thing. They’re a pretty dudely band, either way. They’ve just signed to Sliptrick Records after issuing Alpha Male back in May — it includes a pretty groovy cover of Kyuss‘ “Green Machine,” which is a bold enough choice to speak alone for the level of testosterone with which the band is clearly working. Sliptrick will do a version of the album that’s listed as “coming soon” — fair enough — and Stoner Kings offer plenty of burl to justify the pickup.

And if you remember Stoner Kings from back in the early days of internet riffy proliferation, you’re correct. They were around then and took a break before coming back a couple years ago, as the PR wire explains:

stoner kings

Sliptrick Records Welcome Finnish Slackers STONER KINGS

Stoner Kings is the brainchild of band frontman, vocalist and songwriter, Michael ”StarBuck” Majalahti, who is the self-proclaimed, most accomplished professional wrestler in history from Northern Europe. The band was formed in 2000, after Michael came back from a disenfranchising experience of a disheartening UK wrestling tour, looking to focus his efforts elsewhere. Michael had moved from his homeland of Canada to Finland in the summer of 1996, when he started writing music and picked up playing guitar to pass the time. Many of the songs that ended up on Stoner Kings’ debut Brimstone Blues were created around this era, between 1996-2000.

The band strove forward and under an augmented line-up released a second album in early 2006 after finishing recordings in late 2005. This sophomore effort would come to be known as Fuck The World, which served as a backlash to all of the spite issued forth by the critics of the band, who just couldn’t get over their name. Between late 2006 and early 2007, Stoner Kings went through some tumultuous line-up changes. Everyone, save StarBuck, exited the band to be replaced by new players.

By the autumn of 2008 and after 3 singles, this latest line-up of Stoner Kings had dissolved and Michael decided to hang up the gloves indefinitely. It took eight years for the itch to make a comeback and became so undeniable that Michael contacted his old drummer J-J and talked to him about regrouping under a new line-up. Rude Rothsten from the 2007-2008 incarnation of Stoner Kings joined on bass once again and the new guitarist would be a young musician named Joonas Vepsä.

Stoner Kings’s comeback gig was in November 2016 in Helsinki at On The Rocks. From that moment forward, the band set out to both gig regularly and at the same time work on new songs. The group hit the studio one year later in the autumn of 2017 to compile a set of songs for their third album. This process would take one year, as they recorded the yet-to-be-released album that came to be called Alpha Male between the autumn of 2017 and the autumn of 2018, a process that was performed in three separate recording and mixing blocks. Now ready to see the light of day, Alpha Male will be released via Sliptrick Records soon!

Stoner Kings are:
Michael “StarBuck” Majalahti – Vocals
J-J Kontoniemi – Drums
Rude Rothstén – Bass
Joonas Vepsä – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/stonerkingsband
https://www.instagram.com/stonerkingsband/
https://stonerkings.bandcamp.com/
https://sliptrickrecords.com/stoner-kings/

Stoner Kings, Alpha Male (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Pelican, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Greenbeard, Mount Soma, Nibiru, Cable, Reino Ermitaño, Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

More computer bullshit this morning. I lost about 45 minutes because my graphics driver and Windows 10 apparently hate each other and before I could disable the former, the machine decided the best it could do for me was to load a blank screen. Hard to find the Pelican record on my desktop when I can’t see my desktop. The Patient Mrs. woke up while I was trying to fix it and suggested HDMIing it to the tv. When I did that, it didn’t project as was hoped, but the display came on — because go figure — and I was able to shut off the driver, the only real advantage of which is it lets me use the night light feature so it’s easier on my eyes. That’s nice, but I’d rather have the laptop function. Not really working on a level of “give me soft red light or give me death!” at this point. I may yet get there in my life.

Today’s the last day of this beast, wrapping up the last of the 60 reviews, and I’m already in the hole for the better part of an hour thanks to this technical issue, the second of the week. Been an adventure, this one. Let’s close it out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Nighttime Stories

pelican nighttime stories

Split into two LPs each with its own three-minute mood-setter — those being “WST” and “It Stared at Me,” respectively — Pelican‘s Nighttime Stories (on Southern Lord) carries the foreboding sensibility of its title into an aggressive push throughout the album, which deals from the outset with the pain of loss. The lead single “Midnight and Mescaline” represents this well in directly following “WST,” with shades of more extreme sounds in the sharp-turning guitar interplay and tense drums, but it carries through the blastbeats of “Abyssal Plain” and the bombastic crashes of presumed side B closer “Cold Hope” as well, which flow via a last tonal wash toward the melancholy “It Stared at Me” and the even-more-aggro title-track, the consuming “Arteries of Blacktop” and the eight-minute “Full Moon, Black Water,” which offers a build of maddening chug — a Pelican hallmark — before resolving in melodic serenity, moving, perhaps, forward with and through its grief. It’s been six years since Pelican‘s last LP, Forever Becoming (review here), and they’ve responded to that time differential with the hardest-hitting record they’ve ever done.

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Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed

swan valley heights the heavy seed

Though the peaceful beginning of 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Heavy Seed,” for which the five-song album is named, reminds of Swan Valley Heights‘ Munich compatriots in Colour Haze, the ultimate impression the band make on their Fuzzorama Records debut and second album overall behind a 2016 self-titled (review here) is more varied in its execution, with cuts like “Vaporizer Woman” and the centerpiece “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine” manifesting ebbs and flows and rolling out a fuzzy largesse to lead into dream-toned ethereality and layered vocals that immediately call to mind Elephant Tree. There’s a propensity for jamming, but they’re not a jam band, and seem always to have a direction in mind. That’s true even on the three-minute instrumental “My First Knife Fight,” which unfurls around a nod riff and simple drum progression to bridge into closer “Teeth and Waves,” a bookend to The Heavy Seed‘s title-track that revives that initial grace and uses it as a stepping stone for the crunch to come. It’s a balance that works and should be well received.

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Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

 

Mark Deutrom, The Blue Bird

Mark Deutrom The Blue Bird

Released in the wee hours of 2019, Mark Deutrom‘s The Blue Bird marks the first new solo release from the prolific Austin-based songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist through Season of Mist, and it’s a 50-minute run of genre-spanning outsider art, bringing ’70s folk vibes to the weepy guitar echoes of “Radiant Gravity” right before “O Ye of Little Faith” dooms out for six of its seven minutes and “Our Revels Now Are Ended” basks in 77 seconds of experimentalist winding guitar. It goes like that. Vocals are intermittent enough to not necessarily be expected, but not entirely absent through the midsection of “Hell is a City,” “Somnambulist” and “Maximum Hemingway,” and if there’s traditionalism at play anywhere, it might be in “They Have Won” and “The Happiness Machine,” which, toward the back end of the album, bring a sax-laden melancholy vibe and a straightforward heavy rock feel, respectively, ahead of the closer “Nothing out There,” which ties them together, somehow accounting for the 1:34 “On Fathers Day” as well in its sweetness. Don’t go into The Blue Bird asking it to make sense on any level other than its own and you should be fine. It’s not a minor undertaking at 50 minutes, and not without its indulgences, but even the briefest of pieces helps develop the character of the whole, which of course is essential to any good story.

Mark Deutrom website

Season of Mist website

 

Greenbeard, Onward, Pillager

greenbeard onward pillager

Austin bringers of hard-boogie Greenbeard reportedly issued the three-song Onward, Pillager as a precursor to their next full-length — even the name hints toward it being something of a stopgap — but its tracks stand well on their own, whether it’s the keyboard-laced “Contact High II,” which is presumably a sequel to another track on the forthcoming record, or the chunkier roll of “WCCQ” and the catchy finisher “Kill to Love Yourself,” with its overlaid guitar solo adding to a dramatic ending. It hasn’t been that long since 2017’s Lödarödböl (review here), but clearly these guys are committed to moving forward in neo-stoner rock fashion, and their emergence as songwriters is highlighted particularly throughout “WCCQ” and “Kill to Love Yourself,” while “Contact High II” is more of an intro or a would-be interlude on the full-length. It may only be pieces of a larger, to-be-revealed picture, but Onward, Pillager shows three different sides of what Greenbeard have on offer, and the promise of more to come is one that will hopefully be kept sooner rather than later.

Greenbeard on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

 

Mount Soma, Nirodha

mount_soma_nirodha

Each of the three songs on Mount Soma‘s densely-weighted, live-recorded self-released Nirodha EP makes some mention of suffering in its lyrics, and indeed, that seems to be the theme drawing together “Dark Sun Destroyer” (7:40), “Emerge the Wolf” (5:50) and “Resurfacing” (9:14): a quest for transcendence perhaps in part due to the volume of the music and the act itself of creating it. Whatever gets them there, the trajectory of Nirodha is such that by the time they hit into the YOB-style galloping toward the end of “Resurfacing,” the gruff shouts of “rebirth!” feel more celebratory than ambitious. Based in Dublin, the four-piece bring a fair sense of space to their otherwise crush-minded approach, and though the EP is rough — it is their second short release following 2016’s Origins — they seem to have found a way to tie together outer and inner cosmos with an earthbound sense of gravity and heft, and with the more intense shove of “Emerge the Wolf” between the two longer tracks, they prove themselves capable of bringing a noisy charge amid all that roar and crash. They did the first EP live as well. I wonder if they’d do the same for a full-length.

Mount Soma on Thee Facebooks

Mount Soma on Bandcamp

 

Nibiru, Salbrox

nibiru salbrox

One might get lost in the unmanageable 64-minute wash of Nibiru‘s fifth full-length (first for Ritual Productions), Salbrox, but the opaque nature of the proceedings is part of the point. The Italian ritualists bring forth a chaotic depth of noise and harsh semi-spoken rasps of vocals reportedly in the Enochian language, and from 14-minute opener “EHNB” — also the longest track (immediate points) — through the morass that follows in “Exarp,” “Hcoma,” “Nanta” and so on, the album is a willful slog that challenges the listener on nearly every level. This is par for the course for Nibiru, whose last outing was 2017’s Qaal Babalon (review here), and they seem to revel in the slow-churning gruel of their distortion, turning from it only to break to minimalism in the second half of the album with “Abalpt” and “Bitom” before 13-minute closer “Rziorn” storms in like a tsunami of spiritually desolate plunge. It is vicious and difficult to hear, and again, that is exactly what it’s intended to be.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Cable, Take the Stairs to Hell

Cable Take the Stairs to Hell

The gift of Cable was to take typically raw Northeastern disaffection and channel it into a noise rock that wasn’t quite as post-this-or-that as Isis, but still had a cerebral edge that more primitive fare lacked. They were methodical, and 10 years after their last record, the Hartford, Connecticut, outfit return with the nine-song/30-minute Take the Stairs to Hell (on Translation Loss), which brings them back into the modern sphere with a sound that is no less relevant than it was bouncing between This Dark Reign, Hydra Head and Translation Loss between 2001 and 2004. They were underrated then and may continue to be now, but the combination of melody and bite in “Black Medicine” and the gutty crunch of “Eyes Rolled Back,” the post-Southern heavy of the title-track and the lumbering pummel of “Rivers of Old” before it remind of how much of a standout Cable was in the past, reinforcing that not only were they ahead of their time then, but that they still have plenty to offer going forward. They may continue to be underrated as they always were, but their return is significant and welcome.

Cable on Instagram

Translation Loss Records webstore

 

Reino Ermitaño, Reino Ermitaño

Reino Ermitano Reino Ermitano

Originally released in 2003, the self-titled debut from Lima, Peru’s Reino Ermitaño was a beacon and landmark in Latin American doom, with a sound derived from the genre’s traditions — Sabbath, Trouble, etc. — and melded with not only Spanish-language lyrics, but elements of South American folk and stylizations. Reissued on vinyl some 16 years later, it maintains its power through the outside-time level of its craft, sliding into that unplaceable realm of doom that could be from any point from about 1985 onward, while the melodies in the guitar of Henry Guevara and the vocals of Tania Duarte hold sway over the central groove of bassist Marcos Coifman and drummer Julio “Ñaka” Almeida. Those who were turned onto the band at the time will likely know they’ve released five LPs to-date, with the latest one from 2014, but the Necio Records version marks the first time the debut has been pressed to vinyl, and so is of extra interest apart from the standard putting-it-out-there-again reissue. Collectors and a new generation of doomers alike would be well advised on an educational level, and of course the appeal of the album itself far exceeds that.

Reino Ermitaño on Thee Facebooks

Necio Records on Bandcamp

 

Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Split

cardinals folly lucifers fall split

Though one hails from Helsinki, Finland, and the other from Adelaide, Australia, Cardinals Folly and Lucifer’s Fall could hardly be better suited to share the six-song Cruz Del Sur split LP that they do, which checks in at 35 minutes of trad doom riffing and dirtier fare. The former is provided by Cardinals Folly, who bring a Reverend Bizarre-style stateliness to “Spiritual North” and “Walvater Proclaimed!” before betraying their extreme metal roots on “Sworn Through Odin’s and Satan’s Blood,” while the Oz contingent throw down Saint Vitus-esque punk-born fuckall through “Die Witch Die,” the crawling “Call of the Wild” and the particularly brash and speedier “The Gates of Hell.” The uniting thread of course is homage to doom itself, but each band brings enough of their own take to complement each other without either contradicting or making one or the other of them feel redundant, and rather, the split works out to be a rampaging, deeply-drunk, pagan-feeling celebration of what doom is and how it has been internalized by each of these groups. Doom over the world? Yeah, something like that.

Cardinals Folly on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer’s Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Temple of the Fuzz Witch Temple of the Fuzz Witch

A strong current of Electric Wizard runs through the self-titled debut full-length from Detroit’s Temple of the Fuzz Witch (on Seeing Red Records), but even to that, the outfit led by guitarist/vocalist Noah Bruner bring a nascent measure of individuality, droning into and through “Death Hails” after opening with “Bathsheba” and ahead of unveiling a harmonized vocal on “The Glowing of Satan” that suits the low end distortion surprisingly well. They continue to offer surprises throughout, whether it’s the spaciousness of centerpiece “329” and “Infidel,” which follows, or the offsetting of minimalism and crush on “The Fuzz Witch” and the creeper noise in the ending of “Servants of the Sun,” and though there are certainly familiar elements at play, Temple of the Fuzz Witch come across with an intent to take what’s been done before and make it theirs. In that regard, they would seem to be on the right track, and in their 41 minutes, they find footing in a murky aesthetic and are able to convey a sense of songwriting without sounding heavy-handed. There’s nothing else I’d ask of their first album.

Temple of the Fuzz Witch on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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Kaleidobolt Premiere “Deadpan Blues” from Bitter out May 31

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kaleidobolt

Finnish boogie-made-prog heavy rockers Kaleidobolt will issue their third album, Bitter, on May 31 as their debut release for Svart Records, and though the track premiering below from it is called “Deadpan Blues,” make no mistake, there’s just about nothing deadpan about the entire outing. Instead, the returning Helsinki trio of guitarist/vocalist Sampo Kääriäinen, bassist/vocalist Marco Menestrina and drummer Valtteri Lindholm bask in the experience gleaned from touring to support their second album, 2016’s The Zenith Cracks (review here), and use the recording process itself like another instrument in exciting and engaging ways. “Deadpan Blues” on the album follows directly after the previously unveiled “I am the Seer” (posted here, but also way down at the bottom of this post), a song that in answering the organ-laced righteousness and jangle of opener “Another Toothpick” and the cavernous rock-formation spaces of “Big Sky Land” (lead guitar there reminding just a bit of Elder‘s vivid tonality) melds frenetic boogie with surf rock guitar ping, consuming megafuzz undulations and a bluesy, boozy repeated lyric about being torn apart by memory. The roll that ends it devolves into static amp noise as Menestrina‘s bassline begins “Deadpan Blues” with an immediate sense of tension and the guitar (slide?) and snare march smoothly enter. It’s about a minute before the rush-o’-riff ensues, but man, what a blast when it does. It’s a track that takes the best of what the ’70s-worship set has brought to bear and pushes it into the now-future not only with tonal presence, but with a sharp delivery that speaks to the consciousness at work all the while. Kaleidobolt have been plenty diggable since their 2015 self-titled (review here) came out on Pink Tank, but Bitter feels like a different level of achievement.

And yeah, it should. The second album was a step forward from the first and their sound was immediately nuanced enough to make one think they were a band interested kaleidobolt bitterin growing creatively. Bitter not only builds on The Zenith Cracks in terms of its form — or in the case of the absolute diversion into noisy fuckall at the end of “Deadpan Blues,” its anti-form; fortunately the subsequent prog guitar lullaby “Interlude” gives the listener a moment to recover — but affirms Kaleidobolt‘s intent toward individualism and developing something deeper than the standard execution of genre. Even as the penultimate “Coyote” dives into Thin Lizzyism, it does so with its own take. And a mellotron! But part of what gives Bitter that sonic nuance is the recording itself, which lends particular space to Kääriäinen‘s guitar and has a consistent thread of reverb/echo that draws the ear toward the Spaghetti West without ever really going full-Morricone. A place in-between seems only too comfortable for Kaleidobolt, and with the whole-album-highlight drum performance of Lindholm as the grounding factor and Menestrina‘s winding basslines as the supporting structure, the guitar is free to construct as it will, an aesthetic focal point in a way that feels like a given for heavy rock, but is still make a conscious choice here thanks to variety in tone — that fuzz on “I am the Seer” returns on closer “Hydra” before it gets kicked in the psychedelic dirt for about nine minutes or so — and the ability of the band as a whole to affect varying degrees of mood and, from the outset on, maddening vitality, in their material. The underground universe is not short on bands updating classic forms. One would have a difficult time thinking of another doing so with as much character as Kaleidobolt bring to Bitter.

Again, the production, which was helmed by Niko Lehdontie, who’s worked with a number of experimental outfits like Oranssi Pazuzu and so is no stranger to thoughtful chaos, is part of that, but even Kaleidobolt‘s decision to push outside of the “norm” on the general sound of Bitter is emblematic of the consciousness at work behind what they’re doing here. On first listen, it can be a tough record to keep up with — because it moves, moves, moves, and requires your attention to do likewise — but if you need to, dig into “Deadpan Blues” twice in a row and already the second time you’ll hear it differently. It takes a minute to adjust to the scope of what Kaleidobolt manifest, but doing so makes the listening experience all the more satisfying, and not just for the kinetic nature of their ur-groove. Bitter is as much about aesthetic purpose as it is boogie-down, and for all its accomplishments, I’d offer zero guarantees the band are done growing. As much as their course throughout these seven tracks twists and turns, it is inextricably forward. Get down, and know why.

Kaleidobolt have tour dates upcoming this summer that will take them to Stoned from the Underground and that include shows with Yawning Man. You’ll find those and more info on the record included under the track below.

Please enjoy:

Kaleidobolt, “Deadpan Blues” official track premiere

With one foot in classic heavy power-trio rock ‘n’ roll and the other knee-deep in psychedelic frenzy, Finland’s Kaleidobolt blast off into inner space with their third album, Bitter. Having perfected their craft on the road all across Europe, with two previous albums under their collective belt, Kaleidobolt have become a fierce live experience, guaranteed to blow minds and ears.

Kaleidobolt, however, are far from your usual deafening stoner rock experience. Their music is all about texture and depth, and beneath the lysergically frenzied riffs hide worlds of exquisite soundscapes. For the new album, the band decided to take an even greater leap into worlds beyond and hired Niko Lehdontie (Kairon; IRSE! and Oranssi Pazuzu) to produce the album and Lauri Eloranta (the current go-to guy in Finland for indie pop and rock bands) to mix it.

Bitter is rock music frenzy that intermittently disintegrates into sonic cotton candy and the occasional western theme. Bitter is also Kaleidobolt’s debut for Svart Records, and we are proud to release it on May 31st on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats.

Kaleidobolt live:
5.7 Gothenburg / Truckstop Alaska (SWE)
6.7 Malmö / @PlanB – malmö (SWE)
7.7 Kiel / Die Kieler Schaubude (GER)
8.7 Berlin / Toast Hawaii (GER)*
9.7 Wiesbaden / Schlachthof Wiesbaden (GER)*
10.7 Cottbus / Zum Faulen August, Cottbus (GER)*
11.7 Wien / ARENA WIEN (AUT)*
12.7 Salzburg / Rockhouse Salzburg (AUT)*
13.7 Erfurt / Stoned from the Underground – Festival
*with Yawning Man

Kaleidobolt is:
Sampo Kääriäinen – guitar, vocals
Marco Menestrina – bass, vocals
Valtteri Lindholm – drums

Kaleidobolt, “I am the Seer” official video

Kaleidobolt on Thee Facebooks

Kaleidobolt on Bandcamp

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

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Kaleidobolt Sign to Svart Records for Bitter out May 31; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kaleidobolt

It’s a marriage made in Finnish weirdness. Helsinki-based progressive heavy rockers Kaleidobolt are a natural fit for Svart Records given their blend of old and new, prog and and heavy, this and that, up and down, side to side, space and earth, all good things and so on. Granted that’s a pretty wide standard, but the jazzy elements of what they’ve done over the course of their two LPs to date — 2016’s ultra-righteous The Zenith Cracks (review here) and the prior no-slouch-either 2015 self-titled (review here) — only make the alliance more reasonable, as Svart has readily shown an affinity for such things in past offerings. Everybody wins, is what I’m saying, and all the more those who take a few minutes out of their hectic day to dig into the new video “I Am the Seer” — at the bottom of the post, duh — and thereby get an early sampling of Kaleidobolt‘s wares on their impending third album, Bitter, which will mark their debut on the label upon its release May 31.

These guys have been on their own wavelength of heavy since they started out, and one is glad to see them continue the thread. Looking forward to the record.

Info came down the PR wire:

kaleidobolt bitter

KALEIDOBOLT set release date for SVART debut, reveal first video

Svart Records sets May 31st as the international release date for Kaleidobolt’s highly anticipated third album, Bitter. The album, which will be the band’s debut for the label, will be released on CD and vinyl LP formats.

With one foot in classic heavy power-trio rock ‘n’ roll and the other knee-deep in psychedelic frenzy, Finland’s Kaleidobolt blast off into inner space with their third album, Bitter. Having perfected their craft on the road all across Europe, with two previous albums under their collective belt, Kaleidobolt have become a fierce live experience, guaranteed to blow minds and ears.

Kaleidobolt, however, are far from your usual deafening stoner rock experience. Their music is all about texture and depth, and beneath the lysergically frenzied riffs hide worlds of exquisite soundscapes. For the new album, the band decided to take an even greater leap into worlds beyond and hired Niko Lehdontie (Kairon; IRSE! and Oranssi Pazuzu) to produce the album and Lauri Eloranta (the current go-to guy in Finland for indie pop and rock bands) to mix it.

“We aim to make music that sounds dangerous, that is on its way to critical mass and could all fall apart at any moment,” comments bassist Marco Menestrina. “This time, we were thankful to have Niko the producer with us to ensure things were kept freaky and noisy enough.”

Bitter is rock music frenzy that intermittently disintegrates into sonic cotton candy and the occasional western theme. Bitter is also Kaleidobolt’s debut for Svart Records, and we are proud to release it on May 31st on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats.

In the meantime, see & hear a special video for the new track “I am the Seer.”

Tracklisting for Kaleidobolt’s Bitter
1. Another Toothpick
2. Big Sky Land
3. I Am The Seer
4. Deadpan Blues
5. Interlude
6. Coyote
7. Hydra

https://www.facebook.com/kaleidobolt
https://kaleidobolt.bandcamp.com/
www.svartrecords.com
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Kaleidobolt, “I am the Seer” official video

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