Høstsabbat 2018: The Moth Gatherer Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

The roster of acts for Høstsabbat 2018 continues to broaden in both number and sonic context with the addition of Swedish heavy post-rock/drone explorers The Moth Gatherer. Based out of Sweden, the band released their last album, the Karl Daniel Lidén-produced The Earth is the Sky (review here), in 2015 on Agonia Records, and impressed with their depth and textures. I wouldn’t necessarily speculate as to what their apparently-done new album has in store, but given the progressive turns they were making between organic and electronic elements three years ago, I’d be interested in finding out.

I was fortunate enough to attend and cover the last Høstsabbat in 2016, and this one seems poised to be even bigger on just about every level. Tickets are on sale now. Here’s the latest from the Høstsabbat social medias:

hostsabbat 2018 moth gatherer

Oooh… this week has been awesome. Finally the tickets for this years’ Høstsabbat went live, and we couldn’t be happier with the lineup so far.

BUT! We still have some gems to announce for you guys.

We’ve been gathering souls and sinners since we first started, so this year we’re adding moths to the list. The Moth Gatherer out of Stockholm/Gøteborg is a force of nature when they hit the stage. Their sound leaning towards super heavy post-rock, mixed with jazzy drums, fierce vocals, pure energy and tasty electronic samples, make them a class-act to witness. We had them over for a club night some years ago, and we’re stoked to have them on our festival bill this time. Known for bringing guest vocalists to their recordings, spanning from from Refused’s Dennis Lyxzen, to Thomas Jäger from Monolord, The Moth Gatherer just finished their upcoming album in Studio Underjord some days ago, and rumour has it they’ve outdone themselves again.

We can’t wait for some new material to be unleashed from the stage! Gather the souls, gather the sinners, gather the moths \m/

TICKETS: http://bit.ly/tickets-hostsabbat

LINE-UP
Electric Moon
Asteroid
Toner Low
Brutus
Elephant Tree
Hällas
Spurv
The Moth Gatherer
Domkraft
DWAAL
Krokofant
Taiga Woods
SÂVER

https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1394090067384672/

The Moth Gatherer, The Earth is the Sky (2015)

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Høstsabbat 2018: Spurv Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Oslo heavy post-rockers Spurv recently announced their second album, Myra, would be out in June via Fysisk Format, and posted the first track from it. The title of “Og Ny Skog Bæres Frem,” at least according to what would seem to be the remarkably flawed translation matrix of a major internet company, translates to something about “and new forest forward,” and I’m going to assume “forward” there should be “grows” or “growing.” That is, if the translation is right at all, which given the amount of Norwegian my ignorant American ass speaks, is anyone’s best guess. Apologies to the band if I’ve butchered it. The song, which is a lush instrumental rife with Russian Circles-style layering and a will that goes beyond heft in terms of atmosphere, rules either way.

There was a point to this post, succinctly summarized in the headline: Spurv will play at Høstsabbat 2018 this Fall. They join an impressive and varied lineup that includes Asteroid, Electric Moon, Brutus, Toner Low, Elephant Tree and more, and my understanding is more announcements are still to come.

Here’s this one for now:

spurv hostsabbat

Finally, a sense of spring is upon Oslo!

With spring comes birds, and what could be more soothing than the announcement of the fantastic six-piece Spurv (“sparrow” in English) to this years’ Høstsabbat.

When we were able to check out their forthcoming album, “Myra”, out 1st of June on the ever-magnificent Oslo label Fysisk Format, we were totally blown away…

What they lack in vocals (because there is non), they make up for with painting the most beautiful soundscapes, taking the listener on a trippin’ journey over blossoming fields of spring flowers. It’s tender, massive, fragile, heavy and straight up awesome! We can’t wait to see this in the church room.

Spurv will treat us with a new kind of postrock. Be amazed.

LINE-UP
Electric Moon
Asteroid
Toner Low
Brutus
Elephant Tree
Hällas
Spurv
Domkraft
DWAAL
Krokofant
Taiga Woods
SÂVER

https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1394090067384672/

Spurv, “Og Ny Skog Bæres Frem”

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Høstsabbat 2018: SÂVER Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

saver

Got a couple minutes? Of course you do. What are you, at work right now? Or on your phone somewhere? You on the can? Sometimes I read this site looking for typos when I’m on the can, it’s okay.Point is, you’ve got a couple minutes, and I’m going to go ahead and recommend you take those couple minutes and check out the rehearsal video below from newcomer Norwegian outfit SÂVER, who, as noted in the headline above, have been added to this year’s Høstsabbat festival.

Notice how the camera shakes while the band plays? That means they’re super-fucking-heavy. I’m not sure how sludgy they’ll ultimately turn out to be, or even if their name is supposed to be written in all-caps — following their lead in that regard — but man, that video is some heavy-enough-to-give-you-a-headache kind of jazz. I dig it.

The band essentially seems to represent a three-quarters reunion of Tombstones with drummer Markus Støle and guitarist Ole Rokseth — both also of Hymn — rejoining forces with bassist/vocalist Ole Christian Helstad — also one of Høstsabbat‘s principal organizers — in a new, quite clearly powerful, trio. As previously suggested, catch them in action in the video at the bottom of this post.

Here’s the announcement from the fest:

hostsabbat 2018 saver

As for this Fridays announcement, we have a freshly baked band to present for you.

SÂVER made their live debut in January, and we have to admit the total devastation presented from the stage was impressive to witness. A three piece, mixing raw riffage, savage vocals and an earth shattering groove, with gentle synth passages to put you in a transcendent state of spaced out darkness.

Sharing members with household Norwegian bands, Hymn and Tombstones, SÂVER shows no signs of being new to their game.

If you like your rock heavy as a Chevy. Look no further \m/

https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1394090067384672/

SÂVER, Rehearsal video

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Asteroid End Hiatus; Playing Høstsabbat in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Norway-based festival Høstsabbat will be held Oct. 5 and 6 and has been making lineup announcements on successive Fridays since January that apparently I’ve just completely whiffed on because I totally suck at this. In the meantime? The roster of acts looks fucking awesome. Electric Moon, Elephant Tree, Toner Low, Krokofant (about whom I know absolutely nothing but who win on name alone), Brutus, Taiga Woods — and now frickin’ Asteroid. To think I could’ve spent the last two months sweating this excellent frickin’ lineup as it came together. I feel like a dope.

I caught the Asteroid announcement because, well, I wouldn’t call it stalking exactly, but I get notifications when they put out an update on Thee Facebooks, and as they’ve been on hiatus since last summer, there hasn’t been much coming through. That’s changed now, clearly. In addition to Høstsabbat, they’ll play April 20 at Truckstop Alaska in Gothenburg with Weedeater and Nebula, so some pretty killer stuff all around.

And needless to say, I’ve started “not stalking” Høstsabbat as well, so I’ll be keeping up with that as best as I’m able as they continue to reveal more groups playing this year’s fest.

Here’s their Asteroid announcement:

ASTEROID HOSTSABBAT 2018

On this crispy March Friday, we’re proud to announce a somewhat legendary band.

Out of Ørebro, Sweden, Asteroid has played an influential role together with their hometown allies in Truckfighters. Asteroid has delivered fuzzy and groovelicious tunes to a hungry audience for over fifteen years, combining hard rock with a psychedelic and bluesy sound as their imprint.

The band went on total hiatus in 2013, but are finally back in motion again. We couldn’t be happier, or hippier, to welcome them to Høstsabbat in October.

Asteroid speaks for itself, you better come watch them glaze our main stage Saturday October 6th…

https://www.facebook.com/Asteroidband/
http://www.fuzzoramastore.com/en/bands/asteroid/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1394090067384672/

Asteroid, “Til’ Dawn” official video

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Live Review: Høstsabbat 2016 Night Two in Oslo, Norway, 09.17.16

Posted in Features, Reviews on September 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat-2016-poster

I slept. I slept and slept and slept. Then I wrote. Then I slept more. Then I wrote more, and by the time I was done with all that writing and sleeping, it was almost the start of Høstsabbat‘s second night. An earlier launch and more bands, but still a lineup of unmistakable quality, I didn’t want to miss any of it.

I’d hardly call myself an expert on the place, but Oslo seems like a really cool town if you like bands. On the 10-minute walk from the hotel to the Arena Vulkan I passed no fewer than three places that looked like they might host a rock show on any given night. Maybe that doesn’t sound like that many, depending on where you live, but it’s an embrace of culture that doesn’t exist in the place I’m from. Again, no expert, but that’s the initial impression.

Before I jump into the wrap of the day, I want to extend a personal thanks to Ole Helstad, Jens Storaker and all involved with the festival for having me over. The chance to see Oslo at all and to see these bands in this place is something very special and they clearly believe in what they’re doing. Rightly so. The vibe throughout the weekend was fantastic and I went almost the whole show without having beer thrown on me, so mark it a win for sure. Skål.

Here’s how night two went down at Høstsabbat 2016:

Reptile Master

reptile-master-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

Post-sludge played through three guitars (plus bass) geared toward general tonal push, Reptile Master were an aggressive start to the day. I remembered the band from the release of their 2015 debut, In the Light of a Sinking Sun (track stream here), on Blues for the Red Sun Records, but live, the Tromsø five-piece made much more of an impression, bassist Rolf Ole Rydeng Jenssen and guitarist Nicolay Tufte Østvold set up facing each other with their mic stands crossed so as to accentuate the dual screams that permeated their set. They also had a split with Black Moon Circle out earlier this year, but their sound is much more crushing in its atmosphere, holding a tension even in its quiet moments without coming across as a post-metallic Neurosis clone. In that, the general pissed off nature of the material served them well as a distinguishing factor that changed the context even of those quiet moments, and the nod factor only became more prevalent as they went on. They’ve clearly started to make a mark in Norway, if the early crowd was anything to judge by.

Wild Rocket

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It was my first exposure to Dublin’s Wild Rocket, whose debut album, Geomagnetic Hallucinations, came out in 2014. Much as the night before at Høstsabbat had shifted vibe almost on a per-band basis, they were a significant jump in style from what Reptile Master had on offer, trading off between driving heavy rock and more spaced impulses, like that moment when the song “Motorhead” became the band Motörhead. About 25 minutes into their set opening the Vulkan stage upstairs, they announced it was time for their last song, warning, “It’s kind of a long one.” Fair enough. More people came up as their time went on — it was early yet — and they very clearly turned a few heads, including mine, with that final space jam, seeming to push further out in a way that recalled to my mind some of Death Alley‘s post-Hawkwind cosmic triumphs, though in the case of Wild Rocket, the interstellar was even more of a factor with the inclusion of keys. Their set still wound up short at roughly 35 minutes, but it was a welcome sampling of what they’re about, and their energy was infectious.

Mammoth Storm

mammoth-storm-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

Arguably the most impressive headbanging I saw all weekend came from Mammoth Storm bassist/vocalist Daniel Arvidsson, and there was some stiff competition. The Swedish four-piece rolled out huge, clunky riffs on the Pokalen stage in a spirit that found them aptly named. They weren’t far off from what Reptile Master were doing tonally, but ultimately less angry, less atmospheric, and more about the heft itself than the cathartic expression derived therefrom. Still, they were way into it. Formerly a trio, they were on tour earlier this summer with High Fighter and Earthship, and the Høstsabbat crowd seemed to be the beneficiary of that experience. Their first album, Fornjot, was issued late last year by Napalm Records, and while they seemed to be figuring out some elements of presentation, no question they had their direction sorted, all skull-pummel and unrelenting push. Heavy band playing heavy music, is the bottom line. It was an easy set to enjoy and another jump to a different style from the band before them; that once again would become something of a running theme throughout the night.

Kollwitz

kollwitz-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

To wit, Kollwitz. Quite simply a band I’d probably never get the chance to see anywhere else, the Bodø six-piece proffered vicious post-metal with a hardcore edge, the intensity of Converge met with the strict chug and strobe lighting of Amenra. They had the most crowded stage of the festival, but still plenty of room upstairs at the Arena Vulkan to thrash around, and they took advantage of it, their motion tied to the undulating lumber of their songs. They were another band I’d never heard before, which was by design — that is, I knew they were playing and could’ve checked them out, but sometimes it’s fun to go into these things blind — but they hit the decade mark in 2016 and came across with the command of an experienced act. Rarer for acts of their ilk, their material had a kind of direct thrust, and even when they did drone out an ambient section, quieting down all that push, percussion, screams, keys, and so on, it was plain enough that it was a temporary situation before the assault began anew. In accordance with the tenets of the style, they were cerebral and bludgeoning in kind. There’s nothing else I would’ve asked of them.

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus

jeremy-irons-and-the-ratgang-malibus-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

Shit they were good. Come over from Stockholm, Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus were among the bands I was most looking forward to seeing this weekend, and they were quick to justify that anticipation. Most of what they played came from 2014’s Spirit Knife (review here), and that was zero reason to complain as they nestled into the classic groove and modern energy of “Wind Seized” after the opening cut “Andra,” which may or may not have been new. They’d get more tripped out as they went on, vocalist/guitarist Karl Apelmo — whose voice sounds even better live — leading the charge with guitarist Micke Pettersson, bassist Viktor Källgren and drummer Henke Persson all on the same page, fluid and vibrant. They tapped into four decades’ worth of Swedish heavy rock without losing sight of their own personality, and their play between the boogie of ages and a modern soulfulness was exceedingly well met, especially with the psychedelic range that emerged later on with “Fog by the Steep” and “Point Growth” closing out. How they’re not playing every single festival this fall, or, you know, all the time, I have no idea. Excellent band, and clearly still growing as well. Put them on the road with Radio Moscow immediately.

Siena Root

siena-root-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

Sweden’s Siena Root have been making the festival rounds across Europe over the last several months while working on a follow-up to their 2014 album, Pioneers. Next month, they’ll play Smoke the Fuzz in Athens, and they’re veterans of the likes of Freak Valley, Dome of Rock and so on. I said on the social medias that seeing Siena Root took some of the sting out of knowing I’d never get to watch peak-era Deep Purple play live, and while that’s perhaps simplifying their appeal, I think the comparison holds up, with the classic ’70s vibe Siena Root bring to life in their songs, costumes and delivery, the focus on interplay between the organ of Erik “Errka” Petersson (the only full organ setup on either stage at Høstsabbat) and the guitar of Matte Gustavsson, and the powerhouse vocals of Samuel Björö, the robe-clad guru bass from Sam Riffer and the swing-ready drumming of Love Forsberg. They were unabashed fun, all-in, and a pro execution that wasn’t at all staid. So genuine were they in their performance that it made me think it might be time to start considering Siena Root in the same league as Spiritual Beggars when it comes to crafting their songs and representing a natural lineage to the birth of heavy.

Slomatics

slomatics-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

They were the one. Slomatics. The headliners for the Pokalen stage were the band I was most dying to see all weekend, and the disappointment factor was zero. The Belfast trio of guitarists David Majury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/noisemaker Marty Harvey rolled out some of Høstsabbat‘s most satisfying riffs, and with a set spanning back to 2012’s A Hocht for “Tramontane,” “Return to Kraken” and closer “Beyond Acid Canyon,” and included “Electric Breath” and “Supernothing” from this year’s stellar Future Echo Returns (review here) as well as a host of cuts from 2014’s Estron (review here), they crashed, bashed and rumbled so loudly and so righteously that when it came to it, I just couldn’t remove myself from the front of the stage. Not only that, I did something I hadn’t done the entire time at the Arena Vulkan, which was to remove my earplugs part-way and let the full brunt of the volume hit my eardrums directly. That, I soon enough realized, was a mistake, but even so, the fact that the impulse was there should say something. Slomatics don’t get out of Ireland much, so to have them in Oslo was something special, and their performance showed it. A joy of ultra-heavy revelry. It was reportedly their first time playing “Supernothing” live, and I felt ridiculously lucky to be there to witness it. They’re the reason my neck is sore today. Don’t even care.

Truckfighters

truckfighters-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

Very much the headliners for the fest as a whole. Immediately. No warmup. All go. The Swedish fuzzdudes left nothing to mystery as to why they were atop the bill. No place else to put them, frankly. They played in front of a banner so huge that it didn’t fit the Vulkan stage and all you could see from the crowd was the word “TRUCK,” but that was enough to get the point across. I’d had the good fortune earlier in the evening to sit and interview bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm about the band’s new album, V (review pending), and some of the growth the group has undertaken over their last couple records, the push past straightforward desert-style groove into more progressive territory, and something I wondered about was how they would continue to strike that balance onstage when it comes to songs like “Calm Before the Storm” from the latest record. The answer is basically they just do. Cedermalm still headbangs, guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren is as kinetic as ever, jumping in circles, running from one side to the other of the stage, generally playing the madman role and doing it well. They had a new drummer — Marcus was the name I got, if he has a last name or a Truckfighters-style nickname, I don’t know it — who will reportedly be one of two joining them on their Euro tour this fall, and from what I hear they’ll be back in the US in spring, but the gist of watching a Truckfighters set is the excitement of how much they put into playing their songs, and whether they’re fast or slow, upbeat or melancholy, that continues to be the case. I stuck around to the finish because not only were they killing it, but the setlist didn’t have “Desert Cruiser” written on it — though they did include “Mexico,” which was a nice touch — and I was curious to see if they could actually get away with not playing that song, ending instead with “The Chairman” from 2014’s Universe (review here). They wound up using it for an encore, closing out the evening and the Høstsabbat as a whole with a sing-along of the chorus that continued even after they left the stage. I’m not sure a more suitable ending would’ve been possible.

It was right after they finished that some dick behind me decided to launch the rest of his beer into the crowd. Jerk move, but a great set, and I wasn’t exactly fresh and clean as it was by that point. I’d been watching the end of the show with the Slomatics guys, and said a few goodnights before making my way out. Always sad to walk out of an even like this for the last time, knowing that it’s over, but this was a special time and a special event, and those things have a tendency to be fleeting. All the more reason to treasure the memories of them.

Thanks again to everyone involved for having me over. I am humbled by the experience and deeply, deeply grateful for the opportunity. I wouldn’t presume to think I would be, but if I was invited again, I’d be here in a flash.

Flight takes off bound for JFK Airport via Copenhagen in about two hours. I very much appreciate you reading and know full well that if you didn’t, I wouldn’t get to do awesome stuff like fly to a festival in Oslo for a weekend, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

More pics after the jump.

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Live Review: Høstsabbat 2016 Night One in Oslo, Norway, 09.16.16

Posted in Features, Reviews on September 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat-2016-poster

As much as that kind of thing can be, the flight over had been a joy. By that I mean I slept. Driving past awesome trees and Euro-looking buildings en route, I got into Oslo and to the hotel in time to crash for a couple more hours before the first night of Høstsabbat kicked off at the Arena Vulkan. My first time here, my first time there, but the impression was immediately positive.

Høstsabbat is held across two stages in the Arena Vulkan, which is the Norwegian word for “volcano.” The Vulkan itself is upstairs. A sizable spot. High-ceiling, well lit (when Bong weren’t playing), great sound, bar off to the side. Downstairs is the Pokalen; a smaller performance space but with bar seating, tvs playing the fest schedule on a loop and a mellow vibe. Also great sound. The whole venue is tucked away on a side-street with an international market across the way filled with fish, meat, cheeses, bread, beer, coffee, tea, restaurants, and there are tables outside for smokers or those who might just want to catch a breath. All is immaculately clean — until beer is spilled on it, of course — and welcoming.

The first of the two nights comprised a seemingly manageable six acts, each with an hour set allotted, alternating between the stages downstairs and upstairs, playing one at a time. I won’t lie: by the time Conan were going on to headline, I was falling asleep sitting on the barricade in the photo pit, but for seeing them and Bong, as well as bands I’ve never caught before in Day of the Jackalope, MaidaVale, Cult of Occult and Wobbler, the evening was a joy for its variety and for the level of performance each band brought to the stage, whichever stage they happened to be on.

I’m thankful to be here. Here’s how it went down:

Day of the Jackalope

day-of-the-jackalope-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

Earlier this year, Oslo natives Day of the Jackalope released their self-titled debut EP on 12″ vinyl. To open Høstsabbat on the Pokalen stage, they would play all five songs from it — “Waste,” “PTSD,” “Profiteer,” “Take it Back” and “New Lies” — as well as a cover of Jimi Hendrix‘s “Manic Depression” and several others that I’ll assume were new. Their sound was a heavy boogie blues rock, and depending on the moment one could hear a strong influence from self-titled-era Clutch with some of Orange Goblin‘s gruffness thrown in, particularly in the vocals of Anders Hellestveit, joined in the band by guitarist Jens Andreas Storaker (also one of the organizers of the fest), bassist Lars Brodal and drummer Bård Sigurdson. They made a highlight of “The Salvager,” broke out a shaker for “PTSD” — had to wonder if there was a comment there — and some cowbell for “Agitate (Vaskebrett)” and pulled in a solid early crowd to start the day off with a raucous and weighted groove.

Wobbler

wobbler-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

My first encounter with Wobbler came just last month when they were announced as the final addition to the lineup for the fest. However, upon checking them out, they were immediately one of the bands I was most looking forward to seeing. The Hønefoss five-piece dug immediately into lush classic-style prog, marked out by the keyboards and synth work of Lars Fredrik Frøislie. The risk with a style like theirs presented in a live setting is it can feel staid if the band doesn’t keep a focus on delivery — all of a sudden, you’re just watching dudes noodle — but Wobbler avoided the issue entirely and had a vibrant performance, with vocalist/guitarist Andreas Wettergreen Strømman Prestmo providing a frontman presence backed by the lead work of guitarist Geir Marius Bergom Halleland and given a dynamic foundation from bassist Kristian Karl Hultgren and drummer Martin Nordrum Kneppen. Their material — still largely unknown to me, though they made a compelling argument for purchasing both their albums downstairs in the merch section; if I had any krone, I would have — was fluid and at times gorgeous, but didn’t necessarily give up thrust for indulgence, thereby striking a rare balance between progressive and heavy rock.

Cult of Occult

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Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, French foursome Cult of Occult made ready to unleash a vision of sludge so extreme it bordered on the grotesque. Primal. Brutal. All that fun stuff. They’d have the biggest crowd of the night for the Pokalen stage, and they treated it to nothing less than a bludgeoning, like Bongripper taken to a place of vicious misanthropy. Yup, and they were heavy too. Deadlight Entertainment put out their third album, Five Degrees of Insanity, in 2015, and from it, “Alcoholic” was recognizable for its resounding “fuck you all” chorus during which the crowd did indeed get flipped off from the stage. They played pretty much in the dark, at least at the beginning, and that felt about right for the hate-laced filth on offer in their sound, the sole communication with the audience coming in raised beer cups and near the end when drummer Rudy was the only one left on stage — they deteriorated their set-finale, departing the stage one at a time, vocals, guitar, then bass, to leave the drums as last to go — and he waved the cheering crowd on, fists pumping in the air in slow motion to his crashes. There’s an element of spectacle there, even if they’d never admit it, but in their tones, screams, lumber and push, they were righteous and unrepentant in their delivery. Not really where my head is at, but hard not to respect what they were doing and the grueling intensity with which they were doing it.

Bong

bong-1-photo-by-jj-koczan

I know I’ve seen UK dronelords Bong before at Roadburn 2010, but that was six years and probably that many lineups ago for the band, whose prolific ritualizing continues to yield immersive fruit and whose live incarnation as a trio on the Vulkan stage at Høstsabbat had to be one of the most tonally claustrophobic performances I’ve ever witnessed. And that’s not a small room to make it feel like the walls are closing in. After trying to take pictures of them in the dark, I went and poured myself a cup of much-appreciated free water at the bar and watched as the ripples created by their sheer volume and low-end frequencies danced in a circle of geometric patterning that looked like the alien communication it truly was. With guitarist Mike Vest starting out the show by taking a violin bow to his guitar, bassist David Terry dramatically quoting Lovecraft or something like it and adding throat-singing chants and Conan drummer Rich Lewis filling in on drums, Bong were a litmus test for how much assault earplugs could actually take. Downstairs, between bands at the Pokalen, they played Parliament, which was an enjoyable irony, but after catching my breath and making sure my head wasn’t going to explode, I was back up to watch Bong again, their slogging sound just too much the soundtrack for my jetlag to be missed any more than medically necessary.

MaidaVale

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As time has gone on and the heavy rock underground has kind of moved past the hey-let’s-pretend-it’s-1972 ethic of vintage worship — at least for the most part — the impetus has been toward blending the classic and the modern, so that clarity of sound and tone don’t need to be sacrificed to tap into an essential swing. Swedish four-piece MaidaVale arrive at this moment and make themselves right at home. Their debut album, Tales of the Wicked West, came out last month on The Sign Records, and from it they plucked the tracks “(If You Want the Smoke) Be the Fire,” “Dirty War” and “Standby Swing,” among others. The swing, by the way, was not at all on standby. It was front and center and thrust forward by the bass and drums as vocalist Matilda Roth met it head-on, dancing and soulfully pushing her voice to its limits as the lineup of Linn Johannesson, Sofia Ström and Johanna Hansson behind her left no question as to how a group who just released their first album might come to headline the night on the Pokalen stage. The songs were fluid, the bounce in the drums refreshing, and the tones warm and classic-feeling, again, without tapping directly into retroism. As they belted out “Dirty War” late in the set, they sounded very much like a group at the beginning of a growth process, but their stage presence was formidable all the same and the sense one got was that their progression will only make it more so as time goes on. Need to check out that album, is the bottom line.

Conan

conan-2-photo-by-jj-koczan

Five bands and five distinct looks at different kinds of heavy at Høstsabbat, and then suddenly it was time for Conan to come on and — as they will — destroy everything in their path. By the time they went on at midnight, I was hours past dead on my feet, but to see “Thunderhoof” into “Battle in the Swamp?” Oh yes, easily worth it. You can sleep anytime. Conan don’t just happen every day — or at least not in the same city. That was actually the most striking impression. It’s been a little more than a year since I last saw them, they’ve gotten even tighter with the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, bassist/vocalist Chris Fielding and the aforementioned Rich Lewis on drums. The stage dynamic between the three has been (war)hammered out and they were absolutely on fire, Lewis adding some of his own flourish to the gallop of “Gravity Chasm.” As a unit, all pro. I was also struck by what seemed to be an emergent YOB influence from Davis in his vocals. As Fielding has come to handle lower-register growling parts, Davis‘ exploration of cleaner singing has a tinge of Mike Scheidt to it that’s somewhat unexpected, but fits well repurposed into the shouting context of “Hawk as Weapon.” They were locked in in such a way as to make me think that their next album will be something really special. I won’t say a bad word about early 2016’s Revengeance (review here), but Conan made it plain to see they’re more than ready to move forward to their next vista of smoldering landscapes during this earned-through-devastation headlining set, and I’ll look forward to when they get there. Until then, “Total Conquest” never sounded more apt a title.

Night Two kicks off in a couple hours, so I gotta get ready. Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

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Høstsabbat 2016 Completes Lineup: Wobbler Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

With the addition of countrymen proggers Wobbler, the lineup for Høstsabbat 2016 next month in Oslo is complete. I’m very proud to say that I’ve been invited to attend the fest this year — in a write-about-it capacity, obviously — and the flight’s not booked yet, but I’m going to do everything in my power to get there, including get my camera repaired once again. It will be my first time in Norway and I’m already nervous and excited about it.

The lineup though is so completely insane — imagine seeing Siena Root and Conan and Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus on the same bill, MaidaVale about whom I keep hearing awesome things or goddamn Slomatics, whose new album is so good — that it would be harder not to be excited at the prospect of being there to witness it. Wobbler, again, the final addition to the roster, come from Oslo and play a lush, synth-infused prog that traces its roots back to 1999. They’ve got three records out, the latest of which is 2011’s Rites at Dawn, from which you can hear the track “In Orbit” below.

I’ve also included the full lineup for Høstsabbat 2016 — Bong, Mammoth Storm, Reptile Master and all — for your perusal. It looks like it’s going to be an awesome couple of days and if you’re going, I will hope to see you there.

Dig it:

wobbler hostsabbat 2016-700

With the announcement of Norwegian prog-legends Wobbler, the best active prog-band in the universe, Høstsabbat 2016 has completed its line-up.

We look forward to welcoming you at Vulkan Arena in September. More information coming soon.

Høstsabbat 2016
September 16 – September 17
Vulkan Arena
Vulkan 26, 0175 Oslo, Norway

Bong (UK)
Conan (UK)
Siena Root (SE)
Truckfighters (SE)
Slomatics (UK)
Cult Of Occult (FR)
Kollwitz (NO)
Mammoth Storm (SE)
Wobbler (NO)
Jeremy Irons & The Ratgang Malibus (SE)
Reptile Master (NO)
Wild Rocket (IRL)
Maida Vale (SE)
Day Of The Jackalope (NO)

http://www.ticketmaster.no/event/festivalpass-hstsabbat-2016-billetter/489339
https://www.facebook.com/events/685619441581239/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/

Wobbler, “In Orbit”

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Høstsabbat 2016: Bong, Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus, Cult of Occult and Day of the Jackalope Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Høstsabbat 2016 is set for Sept. 16 and 17 at Vulkan Arena in Oslo, Norway. Already confirmed at the top of the current bill are Conan and Truckfighters, and newly announced as joining are UK drone improvisationalists Bong, Swedish heavy psych rockers Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, French blackened metallers Cult of Occult and native Norwegian heavy rockers Day of the Jackalope. That’s a pretty wide spectrum for a single round of fest additions to cover, but as Høstsabbat has grown over the past couple years, it’s only broadened its stylistic reach, though it seems fair to use “heavy” as a kind of universally applicable umbrella for what’s on offer.

To wit, the full lineup and new band announcements below:

Høstsabbat 2016

September 16 – September 17
Vulkan Arena
Vulkan 26, 0175 Oslo, Norway

Conan
Truckfighters
BONG
Siena Root
Cult of Occult
Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus
Kollwitz
Mammoth Storm
Slomatics
Reptile Master
WILD ROCKET
MaidaVale
Day of the Jackalope

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally set to announce four new acts for this years edition of Høstsabbat.

BONG

First out, and for the first time in Norway, the British masters of droning doom; BONG. They’re back after a brief hiatus and returning in their original state as a power trio.

Solemn in its delivery and frightening in its implications, as masters of mesmeric drone, freeing listeners from the increasingly unfamiliar material world and mercifully trapping them in the weightlessness of Bong’s sonic void.

Expect the same Amon Duul, Ash Ra Temple Improvisational basslines, glacial tempo and crushing guitar fuzz drone tones.

Cult of Occult

Concealed from the view of the moribund mass of humanity, hidden in the darkness of the gates of Hell, waiting to spread the evil sound of the extermination of life is the most powerful and misanthropic force; Cult of Occult.

Fed by hatred, loudness and alcohol, the four headed monster of Apocalypse will destroy everything on its way with its unwavering wall of sound. Like the scream of Satan himself, the rising trio Cult of Occult, will make another first time appearance in the North.

Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus

From our beloved neighbor in the East, another Ratgang has emerged from its extremely vibrant scene. Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus rides the astral wave of psychedelic-progressive-desert rock, firmly rooted in the 70’s.

This band is the musical, northwest passage between classic rock and the unholy spirit of Pink Floyd.

They have been around, brimming in the underground for quite some time. Releasing albums on Transubstans and Small Stone Records, playing festivals such as Freak Valley and Desertfest, we’re surely in for a treat at Høstsabbat.

Day of the Jackalope

The last year, Day of the Jackalope has become a name on everyone’s lips, who’s following the underground scene in Norway. Filled with energy and groove, fusing old school 70’s bluesy rock ‘n’ roll with modern stoner rock, Day of the Jackalope are ready to get it on. Having existed for years with changing lineups in various rehearsal spaces, the band is now finally complete, the debut EP is out to rave reviews, and Day of the Jackalope is hitting the stage. Taking inspiration from bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Clutch, Church of Misery and the ever imminent collapse of human civilization, Day of the Jackalope invites you into their universe. It is a fuzzy and warm place of dark and confusing lyrical landscapes, screaming guitars and thumping rhythms.

Catch them live at Høstsabbat!

See you in September!

http://www.ticketmaster.no/event/festivalpass-hstsabbat-2016-billetter/489339
https://www.facebook.com/events/685619441581239/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, Live in Brazil 2015

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