Quarterly Review: Carlton Melton, Horseskull, Dreadnought, Forsaken, Moon Rats, Son of the Morning, Jesus the Snake, Bert, Galactic Gulag, Band of Spice

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Today begins the Quarterly Review. You know the deal by now. 50 records written up between today and this Friday, 10 per day. As always, it’s a huge swath of stuff, and by the end of it I’m usually ready to collapse in a heap, but I’ve yet to regret it afterwards, so we press on. I hope you find something you dig in all this. I say that every time, but it’s still true.

Speaking of digging, how about that new logo up there? Thanks goes out to the Lord of the Logos himself, Christophe Szpajdel, who took on the project. This is the second one he’s done for the site, and aside from being in a completely different style from the last — I like covering a good amount of ground, even in logos — I think it fits pretty well with a variety of aesthetics. Could be doom, could be heavy rock, psych, stoner garage, whatever. Anyway, I’m into it. Hope you are too.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Carlton Melton, Mind Minerals

carlton melton mind minerals

It might be decades before the dimension we live in has caught up to the plane from which Northern California’s Carlton Melton emanate their resonant transmissions of space-psych, but somehow time doesn’t seem to matter anyway when actually listening. To wit, Mind Minerals, the trio’s first LP since 2015’s Out to Sea, is an 11-track/76-minute whopper – unmanageable by any standard – but once it’s on, all you want to do is roll with it and by the time post-aptly-named intro “Untimely” has begat “Electrified Sky” has begat the droning “The Lighthouse” has begat the fuzzy swirl of “Eternal Return” has begat the 10-minute rumble-and-synth soundtracking of “Snow Moon,” etc., there’s neither escape nor the desire for it. Does it need to be a 2LP? Nope, but nothing needs to be anything, man. In the subdued boogie of “Basket Full of Trumpets,” the is-it-backwards slow freakout of “Sea Legs,” the experimental guitar ambience of “Way Back When,” headphone-ready minimalism of “Climbing the Ladder,” the shaker’s tension that sustains the otherwise wispy “Atmospheric River,” and the final fuzzy resurgence of “Psychoticedelicosis,” Carlton Melton thoroughly reaffirm their residency in the far, far out. Not that anyone was questioning their paperwork or anything.

Carlton Melton on Thee Facebooks

Agitated Records website

 

Horseskull, Chemical Winter Blues

horseskull chemical winter blues

With fluid shifts between Ripple-style straightforward heavy rock, rolling Sabbathian lumber and even some harsher sludge elements, the seven-minute “Black Dawn, Bright Day” sets a varied tone for Chemical Winter Blues, the second LP from North Carolina’s Horseskull. I’m not sure I’d declare any one side or the other the winner in the fight between them by the time the death ‘n’ roll of “Luckless Bastards” gives way to closer “Lost all I Had, then Lost Again” – itself a 17-minute noise-nodder triumph of, well, loss – but the trip through “Hypocrites and Pigs” and 10-minute centerpiece “The Black Flame of Cain” is unpredictable and fun to make in kind. Guitarist/vocalist Anthony Staton reminds a bit of Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi in his cleaner delivery, which only adds to the album’s declarative feel, and the overarching groove surrounding from guitarist Michael Avery, bassist Robert Hewlett and drummer Steve Smith only reinforces the developing individualism.

Horseskull on Thee Facebooks

Horseskull on Bandcamp

 

Dreadnought, A Wake in Sacred Waves

dreadnought-a-wake-in-sacred-waves

There is very little beyond the reach of Denver four-piece Dreadnought. Their third album, A Wake in Sacred Waves (Sailor Records), blends open, psychedelic jazz, progressive black metal, folk and more into a sometimes-thrashing/sometimes-sprawling meld that recalls the promise of Grayceon and the poise of Opeth while at the same time casting its own impression in melody, arrangement, variety and scope. Opening with the 17-minute longest cut (immediate points) “Vacant Sea,” it brilliantly ties its elements together to present a story arc following in elemental theme from Dreadnought’s first two offerings in centering around the rise and fall of a water-born apex predator, the narrative of which plays out across its four intense, extended and resoundingly complex inclusions, which alternate between beautiful and terrifying in a way that leaves the line utterly blurred and irrelevant. Why this band isn’t on Profound Lore or Neurot, I have no idea, but either way, A Wake in Sacred Waves is a conceptual and manifest triumph not to be missed.

Dreadnought on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records website

 

Forsaken, Pentateuch

forsaken-pentateuch

A spirit of classic doom metal abounds on Forsaken’s fifth long-player, Pentateuch (Mighty Music), which is the long-running Malta-based outfit’s first offering since 2009’s After the Fall, but though righteous fist-pumpers like “Primal Wound” and “Decalogue” carry an epic and unflinchingly progressive underpinning in their layered vocal melodies, a harsh snare sound and awkwardly punching bass stifle complete immersion. It’s less an issue in a cut like “Saboath (The Law Giver),” which has a full swing surrounding, but it makes post-intro opener “Serpent Bride” sound like a demo (unless it’s my digital promo?) in a way that sets an unfortunate tone in contrasting the obvious class and high-level execution of Pentateuch as a whole. It should be noted that even a rough production can’t hold “The Dove and the Raven” back from making its Candlemassian intent clear, but a record of such overall high standard should feel as crisp as possible, and particularly for being so many years in arriving, Forsaken’s latest seems to want more in that regard, despite the quality of the material that comprises it.

Forsaken on Thee Facebooks

Mighty Music website

 

Moon Rats, Highway Lord

moon-rats-highway-lord

I’ve already counted Highway Lord among my favorite debuts of 2017, but consider it’s worth taking a moment to underline the point of the heavy psych and stoner-fuzz wash that Moon Rats so vigilantly emit on cuts like the opening salvo of “Become the Smoke,” “The Dark Takes Hold” and “Heroic Dose,” balancing languid vibe and sonic heft atop gorgeously natural songcraft. Among the short-feeling 29 minutes and seven inclusions, with the title-track at the center shifting into “Overdose,” the deeply atmospheric “The Hunter” the and melodically spacious “Motor Sword” at the finish, there isn’t a weak spot to be found, and whether it’s the added dynamic of a key arrangement in the closer or the landmark feel of the hook to “Heroic Dose,” the Milwaukee five-piece tap into the there’s-no-rush-we’ll-all-get-there sonic sentiment that once made Quest for Fire so entrancing, while engaging subtle flourish of presentation that promises creative development to come. Bring it on. Please. The sooner the better.

Moon Rats on Thee Facebooks

Gloss Records website

 

Son of the Morning, Son of the Morning EP

son-of-the-morning-son-of-the-morning-ep

Newcomer four-piece Son of the Morning, with the crisply-realized three tracks of their self-titled debut EP, would seem right away to be trying to stake their claim on a piece of the Midwest’s doom legacy. Coiling between heavy rock swing and classic doom tonality, each cut, from “Left Hand Path,” which rounds out after its welcoming hook with a sample of what sounds like somebody hanging in the breeze, through the post-Uncle Acid riffing of “Release,” and the more ethereal, organ-laced psych of “House of Our Enemy,” offers its own take in a clearheaded and efficient five minutes, getting in, leaving its mark and getting out to make room for the next piece in this initial sampling. Potential abounds from vocalist/organist Lady Helena, bassist Lee Allen, guitarist Levi Mendes and drummer H.W. Applewhite, and the core question is how they might tie these elements together across a first full-length. It should be noted they sound more than ready to embark on that project and provide an answer.

Son of the Morning on Thee Facebooks

Son of the Morning on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Jesus the Snake EP

 jesus-the-snake-jesus-the-snake

A 31-minute debut EP clearly meant to be heard in its entirety, Jesus the Snake’s self-titled treads some familiar ground in progressive heavy psychedelic instrumentalism throughout its four tracks – “Floyds I,” “Floyds II,” “Karma” and “Moment” – but with an inherent sense of mood and reach not unlike earliest My Sleeping Karma, its tonal warmth and emergent weight of groove find welcome all the same. Particularly for being the Portuguese outfit’s first public unveiling, the interplay of Joka Alves’ keys and Jorge Lopes’ guitar is immediately fluid, and as the bass of Rui Silva provides foundation to let drummer João Costa explore jazzy snare textures and stylistic nuance. It’s a beginning, and it sounds like a beginning, but Jesus the Snake also offers a richness and patience that many bands simply don’t have their first time out, and for that and the classic stoner fuzz of “Moment” alone, it’s easily worth the time and effort of thorough investigation.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

BerT, The Lost Toes

bert-the-lost-toes

Officially defunct for some time now, Michigan’s BerT compile tracks from throughout their prolific and bizarre run in The Lost Toes (Madlantis Records), proffering a timeline of their post-Melvins avant weirdness that starts with their very first song, “Stuff,” and makes its way through various demos, lost tracks, noise experiments, etc., to the 11-minute drone-out “Return” at the finish line. The digital version on Bandcamp offers an origin story with each track – the 90-second noise rock blast “Human Bone Xylophone” was cut from 2012’s Return to the Electric Church for time concerns, and the subsequent “Commercial Break” (which, yes, is a commercial break) was a class project – but whether you engage the narrative or not, the enduring vibe remains strange and charming in its garage-fuckall, could-and-just-might-go-anywhere-at-any-moment kind of way. BerT were always good fun, and The Lost Toes serves as reminder of the personality they had together that was so very much their own.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

The Lost Toes at Madlantis Records website

 

Galactic Gulag, To the Stars by Hard Ways

galactic gulag to the stars by hard ways

Brazilian instrumental troupe Galactic Gulag traffic in cosmic heft across the five pieces that comprise their first full-length, To the Stars by Hard Ways, but there’s ultimately little about the album that seems to be the hard way. If anything, it’s easy: Easy to groove on, easy to let it unfold over you in a spacious psychedelic drift, easy to nod along as the bassline of “Escape from Planet Gulag” picks up from 12-minute opener “Home.” Easy even to get lost in the sax-laden swirl-bounce off-kilterism of “The Hollow Moon.” So yeah, guitarists Breno Xavier and Pablo Dias, bassist Gabriel Dunke and drummer César Silva might be overselling a sense of difficulty, but as “Space Time Singularity” rolls into the shreddy-style fuzz of 15-minute closer “Eta Orionis,” there are clearly more important issues at hand. Like space. And riffs. And tone. And everything else that’s working so well for the Natal-based foursome on this jam-laden debut.

Galactic Gulag on Thee Facebooks

Galactic Gulag on Bandcamp

 

Band of Spice, Shadows Remain

band of spice shadows remain

Former Spiritual Beggars and The Mushroom River Band vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand has been fronting the namesake act Band of Spice – formerly Spice and the RJ Band — for over a decade now, and Shadows Remain (Scarlet Records) follows 2015’s Economic Dancers (review here) as their fifth overall full-length. After the suitably-drunk-sounding vocals-only intro “Only One Drink,” the album rides the line between classically metallic tones and heavy rock riffing, a cut like “Don’t Bring Me Flowers” having little time in its 2:46 for brooking nonsense of any sort while later pieces like “Apartment 8” and “The Savior and the Clown” find time for more brooding and sentimental fare, and the penultimate “Take Me Home” and closer “Apartment 8 (Part II)” offer acoustic-strummed departure, so while the 51-minute runtime gives the 13-tracker something of a CD-era throwback feel and the songwriting the resolute in its straightforwardness, neither is Shadows Remain completely single-minded in its approach. A touch of grunge-funk in “Sheaf” goes a long way as well in lightening the mood, making the whole presentation all the more pro-shop, as it should be.

Band of Spice on Thee Facebooks

Scarlet Records on Bandcamp

 

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Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2016 Completes Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

shadow woods metal fest 2016 header

Set for Sept. 15-18 in White Hall, Maryland, Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2016 has completed its lineup. The fest runs a gamut of extremity from blackened noise to rolling stoner grooves and covers copious ground between in death metal, doom, drone and heavy rock, and the final nine acts announced only add to its breadth. This is the second year for Shadow Woods Metal Fest, and very clearly fest organizer Mary Spiro is staying true to the vision of a backwoods vibe, exploring the connection between a natural setting and various incarnations of heaviness. To be blunt, I don’t know all these bands and they’re not all really in my sphere so much as I have one, but I’d love to check this out anyway, just for the vibe of it.

Spiro works hard as hell on putting this together. Nothing but respect. Tickets are on sale now.

From the PR wire:

shadow woods metal fest 2016

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST: Complete 2016 Lineup For East Coast Open-Air Metal Fest Announced; Tickets Available + Trailers Posted

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST, the Mid-Atlantic’s open-air camping metal party, is pleased to announce the complete lineup for the 2016 festival, which runs from Thursday, September 15th through Sunday, September 18th at Camp Hidden Valley, in White Hall, Maryland. This year, forty metal bands, representing diverse subgenres, will terrorize three stages in the woodlands of The Old Line State at the same summer camp where the fest was held last year.

Highlights of this year’s installment include a set by the mysterious GHOST BATH from North Dakota who have never performed live until this year, will be playing the event. The festival welcomes their first Canadian act to this year’s event with Calgary’s NUMENOREAN, and Baltimore’s trippy duo DARSOMBRA will headline Thursday night. Brooklyn’s post black metal pillagers TOMBS, Mongolian folk metal warriors TENGGER CAVALRY, Detroit’s horror-death conjurers ACID WITCH, and a special reunion performance from Philly’s blackened doom two-piece SADGIQACEA will ignite the fires Friday night. Black-thrash alchemists BLOOD STORM, Chicago’s mystic black metal kings EMPYREUS (featuring members of Kommandant) and the doom metal godfather SCOTT “WINO” WEINRICH and friends from Western Maryland’s FAITH IN JANE will headline Saturday night. The fest will close with the return of the black metal-blues shredders ZUD from Maine.

“We are honored and humbled that all these great acts have agreed to play our little gathering in the woods,” says festival founder Mary Spiro of Metallomusikum.com/Shadow Woods Productions LLC. “Our team has worked diligently to bring these groups to our unique performance environment, and we cannot wait to see how the weekend unfolds. This lineup stays true to the fest’s mission of showcasing the bands that metal fans ought to be seeing and hearing, not simply the bands that everyone has already seen somewhere else.”

This year’s lineup also boasts several acts that have never performed on the East Coast, such as the blackened space-rock pair LOTUS THIEF from San Francisco, which features Otrebor of Botanist on drums, and Colorado’s HELLEBORUS, powered by the Houseman brothers (Akhenaten; ex-Execration), who specialize in psychedelic black metal tinged with sexual mysticism. The complete lineup (listed below) surpasses the ferocity of the fest’s inaugural installment in both diversity and scope of metal styles.

Grimoire Records, the Baltimore-based hybrid recording and distribution label founded in February 2013, has become a co-producer with Shadow Woods Productions, LLC, and has several bands featured throughout the weekend, including CORPSE LIGHT, GENEVIEVE, MYOPIC, and TORRID HUSK.

Attendees will be able to munch of a plethora of food choices throughout the weekend including the return of the high octane Zeke’s Coffee and vegan selections from Headbangin’ Hotdogs, among several others. Jewelry, knitted-wear, art, CDs, vinyl, t-shirts and more will be on sale in the festival’s long hall. Yoga sessions will again be held each morning for those willing to brave a downward dog with a hangover. Other workshops are to be announced. The fest is BYOB and is 21 and up only. Those interested in vending, teaching a free workshop or who have specific questions should send an email with a description of your products and a website link to contact@shadowwoodsmetalfest.com

Weekend Passes for SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST are available for $130 at BrownPaperTickets.com. Tent camping is included with the weekend pass. People who want to reserve cabin beds can do so for an additional $20 for the duration of the fest. Only 400 weekend passes will be available and about one-third have sold so far. A limited number of day passes will go on sale in August.

SHADOW WOODS METAL FEST 2016 Complete Lineup:
A SOUND OF THUNDER (DC) **traditional old-school heavy metal
ATHAME (MD/WV) **black
AT THE GRAVES (MD) **solo doom-sludge
ACID WITCH (Detroit) **horror death
BLOOD STORM (PA/TX) **black thrash
BOUND BY THE GRAVE (Baltimore) *death
CEMETERY FILTH (TN) ** death
CEMETERY PISS (Baltimore) **black
COFFIN DUST (Philadelphia) **death
CORPSE LIGHT (Baltimore) *doom
DARSOMBRA (MD) **psychedelic drone
DESTROYER OF LIGHT (Austin, TX) **sludge
EMPYREUS (Chicago) **black
FAITH IN JANE FEATURING WINO (MD) ** doom trio joined by the godfather of the sound
GENEVIEVE (MD) **experimental black
GHOST BATH (ND) **suicidal depressive black
GRAVE GNOSIS (St. Petersburg, FL) **black
HAXEN (Rhode Island) **black
HELGAMITE (VA) **doom/stoner/sludge
HELLEBORUS (Manitou Springs, CO) **black
HERON (NC) **black
HORSESKULL (NC) **sludge/doom
LOTUS THIEF (CA) **blackened space rock
MYOPIC (DC) **death/doom
NUMENOREAN (Calgary, AB) **post-black
SACRIFICIAL BLOOD (NJ) **thrash death
SADGIQACEA (Philadelphia) **doom/sludge/black
SADISTIC VISION (PA/NC) **death
SAPREMIA (New Jersey) **death
SURGEON (Philadelphia) **progressive
TELOCH VOVIN (NY) **black
TEMPLE OF VOID (Detroit) **doom
TENGGER CAVALRY (NY/CHINA) ** Mongolian folk
T.O.M.B. (Philadelphia) **ritual noise
TOMBS (Brooklyn) ** black/post-metal
TORRID HUSK (WV) **depressive/melodic black
VORATOR (Richmond) **death/thrash
WIZARD EYE (PA) **doom
XEUKATRE (Baltimore) **black
ZUD (Maine) ** black

http://shadowwoods2016.bpt.me/
http://www.shadowwoodsmetalfest.com
http://www.facebook.com/shadowwoodsmetalfest
https://www.facebook.com/events/1690461561167442/

Shadow Woods Metal Fest 2016 promo

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audiObelisk Transmission 032

Posted in Podcasts on November 27th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

If you’re in the States and celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I thought maybe a new podcast would be good to have along for the travel. Maybe you take it with you on the road, or maybe put some headphones on in one of those need-to-get-away moments that invariably crop up over the holidays. I always get very stressed out at this time of year. I’d be lying if putting this together wasn’t a bit of therapy for my own anxiousness, but I also thought that if someone else was in the same boat, they might also appreciate it. Or maybe not and you just want to rock without using it as an escape for deep-rooted psychological issues. That’s cool too.

This one has a lot of good stuff that I’ve come across lately, from the opening Foghound track on through the Clamfight single that was featured here a couple weeks back, and on to the B-side of the single that Ice Dragon released just this weekend, finally rounding out with the closing track from Uzala‘s new album, Tales of Blood and Fire, “Tenement of the Lost,” which was so captivating when I saw them in Providence last month. It’s a wide variety, but it flows well from song to song and I think it’s a good time.

Hopefully you agree. I’m especially happy with how well the last three songs, which make up the bulk of the second hour, came together. My hope is you’ll be too hypnotized by one song to realize when it’s gone into the next. Whether or not that happens, please enjoy.

First Hour:
Foghound, “Dragon Tooth” from Quick, Dirty and High (2013)
Lizzard Wizzard, “Total Handjob Future” from Lizzard Wizzard (2013)
Summoner, “Into the Abyss” from Atlantian (2013)
Groan, “Slice of that Vibe” from Ride the Snake EP (2013)
The Vintage Caravan, “Let Me Be” from Voyage (2013)
Run After To, “Melancholy from Run After To/Gjinn and Djinn (2013 Reissue)
Clamfight, “Bathosphere” from single release (2013)
No Gods No Masters, “Lie to Me” from No Gods No Masters EP (2013)
Horseskull, “Arahari” from 2013 Promo
Gudars Skymning, “Gåtor I Mörkret” from Höj Era Glas (2013)
Ice Dragon, “Queen of the Black Harvest” from Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest (2013)
T.G. Olson, “Return from the Brink” from The Bad Lands to Cross (2013)

Second Hour:
EYE, “Lost are the Years” from Second Sight (2013)
Øresund Space Collective, “Black Sabbath Forever in Space” from Live at Loppen 2013.11.19
Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies, “The Ghost of Valentine” from Earth Air Spirit Water Fire (2013)
Uzala, “Tenement of the Lost” from Tales of Blood and Fire (2013)

Total running time: 1:59:03

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 032

 

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