Høstsabbat 2019: Belzebong Added to Lineup; Tickets on Sale Today

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

belzebong

Yeah, it’s been like three days since the last time I posted an update from Høstsabbat 2019. Maybe two days? Let me look… Oh shit, it was yesterday. Well, alright. Not my fault that as they come upon their ticket on-sale date, the Oslo-based fest is doling out bands at such a rate. And who the hell wants to risk falling behind? Certainly not me.

The latest to join next October’s shindig in the ol’ culturechurch is Belzebong, the Polish ultrastoner-sludge veterans whose new album, Light the Dankness (review here), has already seen them on tour in Europe. They’ll hit the US as well to participate in the Psycho Smokeout come April, and no doubt they’ll be on the road duly between the two events as well, giving the people what they want like you got to do when what the people want is dank riffing and crusty grooves.

At least we know from when Toner Low played this year that all the lights upstairs at the Kulturkirken Jakob can be turned green.

From the social medias:

hostsabbat 2019 belzebong

Please welcome BelzebonG back to Høstsabbat!

Since their last visit in 2015, the polish dudes have become a trademark of instrumental stoner doom in its purest form. Their recent album “Light The Dankness”, out October 2018 on Emetic Records, shows a band who is confident in their expression and at the top of their game, showing no sign of slowing down.. except for the actual tempo of the songs of course.

The sound of this amazing record is so rich, heavy and full of low end, it’s no surprise it went through the hands of Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio. It’s like joining Belzebong for a rehearsal, while your body is being encompassed by their riffs and you find yourself numb and lost in their hazy smoke. It’s glorious.

After touring Europe numerous times, playing Psycho Las Vegas, and even returning to the US for the first Psycho Smokeout next spring, we are stoked they’ll make a return to Høstsabbat.

We can’t wait for them to cast their green shadow over the Chapel stage at Høstsabbat 2019.

Hail the riff, hail Belzebong!

Tix for Høstsabbat Festival go live at 11:00 CET

MUSIC
Spotify: http://bit.ly/Belzespoti
Bandcamp: https://belzebong.bandcamp.com/

HØSTSABBAT 2019 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/HS2019playlist

https://www.facebook.com/events/274561413173994/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

Belzebong, Light the Dankness (2018)

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Høstsabbat 2019: Stuck in Motion Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

stuck in motion

Swedish heavy hippie rockers kind of quietly released one of 2018’s best debut albums in their June-issued self-titled debut. Hard to imagine some label won’t pick it up for another round of vinyl, but whether you hear it on a platter or through a bluetooth speaker from your phone, the thing absolutely oozes vibe. It’s in clear recognition of this that the three-piece were recently added to Roadburn 2019 (I wrote the announcement; info here), and the 2019 edition of Oslo-based Høstsabbat is following suit in bringing them to Norway next October. I do not for one second imagine they will be the last to do so.

The only question is whether they’ll be in the crypt or on the altar. I hope I get to find out.

The fest made the announcement thusly:

hostsabbat-2019-stuck-in-motion

It’s been a very busy week for everyone following Høstsabbat on SoMe, and we apologize if you feel we’re spamming your news feed. Sometimes things happen simultaneously, and you just gotta go with the flow.

If one word can describe our next announcement for Høstsabbat Festival, October 2019, it’s FLOW.

Once again, we’ve had our eyes peeled on Sweden, and once again, we’ve found pure gold.

Out of Enköping, Stuck in Motion’s debut album struck a nerve with us at Høstsabbat, and the self titled album released June this summer, has been playing on repeat for a great part of this fall. The craftsmanship is top shelf, and the whole album feels timeless in a modern, almost indescribable way. They utilize both their native language as well as English, and the vocals from Max Kinnbo and Adrian Noren floats like a velvet blanket on top of the bands gentle groove and lush sound. Stuck in Motion gives us psychedelic blues at its finest, and just like the weather outside today, it feels very refreshing, and makes you wanna dive right in.

We predict a blinding future for this three-piece, launching with their appearance at Roadburn Festival next spring. We are proud to invite Stuck in Motion at such an early stage, as we fell totally in love with their realm.

We surely think you will do to!

Catch Stuck in Motion for the first time in Norway at Høstsabbat October 4th- 5th, 2019, in Kulturkirken JAKOB.

Tickets out Friday at 11:00 CET!

HØSTSABBAT 2019 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/HS2019playlist

https://www.facebook.com/events/274561413173994/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

Stuck in Motion, Stuck in Motion (2018)

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Høstsabbat Presents: Om in Oslo, May 7, 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

OM (Photo by Insomne)

Next May, Norwegian festival Høstsabbat will present a special Om date in Oslo at Kulturkirken Jakob. The selling point is easy: “Om in a church.” The venue, which will also play host to the 2019 incarnation of the fest later in the year — they’ve already started to announce bands, including Ufomammut as a headliner — is indeed a converted church, with high ceilings, a massive pipe organ in back, and pews along the walls. One recalls Om playing in New York in front of a rebuilt pyramid and imagines the effect of seeing them on an altar to be likewise transcendent.

In 2019, those of a critic-ly persuasion will begin to trot out their lists of the best albums of the decade. I may or may not do likewise, but I’ll say this: any list you see of the best records of the ’10s that doesn’t include Om‘s 2012 outing, Advaitic Songs (review here), is crap. I mean it. What’s still the latest full-length from the duo-turned-trio remains as powerful as it was the day it was released, and in realizing the vision to which bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros had been driving toward since the band’s debut with 2005’s Variations on a Theme, he, drummer Emil Amos and multi-instrumentalist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe conjured a landmark that’s not only already proved influential, but more importantly has stood as a testament to the conversation between spirit and sound that’s always seemed to be at root in their work.

Word has flittered here and there about a new album recorded in pieces over however long. Maybe 2019 will be the year, or maybe not. I don’t know. Either way, whether you’ve seen Om before or you haven’t, their live manifestations are unlike anything else.

Here’s the show info:

om artwork

OM will play Kulturkirken Jakob!

It’s hard to describe the feeling when something you want so badly actual is about to happen. To have OM come play Kulturkirken JAKOB has been our biggest dream since we established contact with this fantastic venue. Hardly any band on earth can be more fitting to the otherworldly environment presented in the church.

Initially rising from the ashes of cvlt band Sleep, bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Haikus, soon showed the world they had something extraordinary on display. OM was a force to be reckoned with already after their first release, Variations on a Theme in 2005. This two-piece held the flag high through Conference of the Birds (2006) and Pilgrimage (2007), before a change of lineup occurred and Emil Amos from Grails handled the drums on the 2009 masterpiece God is Good.

Their latest effort, Advaitic Songs (2012), found OM leaning even more towards mantra-doom, eastern scales and melodies, adding a Rob Lowe as a third member on synthesizer, guitar, percussion and vocals. Rumours has it a new album is soon to be unleashed.
Høstsabbat is extremely proud to be able to present these living legends, for the first time in Oslo for over a decade, bringing their unique take on alternative and heavy music, downtown Oslo in our beloved Church JAKOB.
Traveler now reach the stream. The astral flight adapter.

Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/969442869919499/

https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

Om, “Cremation Ghat I & II” live at Hipnosis Festival, Mexico City, Oct. 6, 2018

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Høstsabbat 2019: Ufomammut Added as Headliners

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

ufomammut

I’m just going to guess that whatever city office in Oslo is in charge of allowing bands into historical landmarks has never heard of Ufomammut, otherwise they’d almost certainly never risk having the Italian cosmic doom magnates play at Høstsabbat 2019 for the very reasonable fear of their rumbling the Kulturkirken Jakob to the ground. I can just picture it: the three of them on that altar stage, and their unmatched heft of wash reverberating from that high ceiling in the church and the back wall, feeding back onto itself until, everyone in attendance’s head goes all Scanners on them. Yes, it will be very, very heavy, but given the setting, it’ll be something really special as well. In all seriousness, it’s a great pick from the Høstsabbat crew.

And suitably enough, they’ll be headlining the Altar stage. That’s one of two headliners unveiled for Høstsabbat 2019. Any guesses on the other? I’ve got a wishlist, but after seeing Toner Low this year, I don’t think I dare actually speculate.

Here’s the festival’s announcement:

hostsabbat 2019 ufomammut

HØSTSABBAT 2019 – UFOMAMMUT

For twenty years, these three phsychsters have been making waves, seismic waves, in our underground community. It is with great pride we are able to welcome UFOMAMMUT to Høstsabbat, treating us with a special set celebrating their 20th anniversary, showcasing the depth and width of their seemingly neverending career in heavy music.

Gaining momentum after every single release, these fine Italians are masters of their craft. Pushing boundaries album after album, touching new ground as they simultaneously reap their gains, Ufomammut are pioneers of the underground, giving their audience crushingly heavy, psyched out pieces of art, almost more than music.

To have them headline the Chapel stage in the church feels surreal, and we can only imagine what it will do to you. Buckle up, Sabbathians. You’re in for a ride!

MUSIC
Spotify: http://bit.ly/SFufomammut
Bandcamp: https://ufomammut.bandcamp.com/

HØSTSABBAT 2019 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/HS2019playlist

https://www.facebook.com/events/274561413173994/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

Ufomammut, 8 (2017)

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Høstsabbat 2019: Sunnata, LLNN and Slabdragger Announced; Early-Bird Tickets on Sale Today

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Yes, Høstsabbat is still pretty fresh in mind, considering the 2018 edition just took place at the start of this month. All the better than to look forward to Høstsabbat 2019 in Oslo at the Kulturkirken Jakob, as the fest puts early-bird tickets on sale as of today and announces Sunnata from Poland as the first band for the bill. Their heavy prog was most recently manifest in earlier-2018’s Outlands (review here), their third album, which ranged far into thoughtful composition of soundscapes and sundry spheres of heavy. LLNN and Slabdragger have also been announced.

I don’t know that I’ll have the privilege of being in Norway next Fall to see them — even if I’m invited, it’s hard to know what a year from now will bring; always possible a piano falls on my head out of the sky and that’s feeling more and more likely all the time — but I’ll be keeping up with Høstsabbat 2019 either way as I believe in their project and the developing personality of the festival was clearly on display in the church this year.

More to come, I guess is what I’m saying. For now, here’s this:

Høstsabbat 2019 – Oct. 4 & 5

The SOLD OUT Høstsabbat 2018 at Kulturkirken Jakob really exceeded our expectations and was a joy from start to end. In 2019 we are ready to make an even better festival.

Early Bird tickets will be out this Friday 26th of October, and we will start to release the first bands very soon.

Høstsabbat 2019 will once again go down October 4th and 5th at Kulturkirken JAKOB. A stunning church in the heart of Oslo, with an atmosphere unrivalled.

Over two days you will experience slow and crushing doom, heavy bluesrock, stoner, proto-heavy metal, psychedelic spacerock and prog.

As last year there will be two alternating stages with their own unique vibe. In the church room you will find the stunning main stage, The Chapel. This room will fit all of you. The second stage, The Crypt, is a smaller club stage in the basement with all the dungeon vibes needed. When the capaCity is reached in The Crypt, there will be one person out one person in-principle.

There will be an even bigger outdoor tent this year connected to the church where there will be a lot of seatings, great barbecue food (for both meat lovers and vegans), refreshing drinks and smashing band merchandise.

Høstsabbat will showcase the best of the current underground scene of heavy music, bringing new talent as well as more established names.

Summon the spirits, gather the souls…

Sunnata

It is with great pleasure we are welcoming the first band to next years’ Høstsabbat.

We have said it before, and we are gladly repeating ourselves; The polish heavy underground is on fire. sunnata will be the third band we bring to Oslo from this booming scene.

With their recent album “Outlands”, they are manifesting their position as one of the most exciting bands out there, mixing eastern scales with layers of atmospheric instrumentation. Long passages of transcendental chanting let the listener soak and dwell in their realm, before a wall of riffs knocks you right in the gut, and awake you from a lucid dream.

Sunnata will leave the audience spellbound, when they close out their set October 2019.

We will unveil two more bands before the Early Bird tickets are out Friday at 12:00.

MUSIC
Spotify: http://bit.ly/HSsunnataSF
Youtube: http://bit.ly/YTsunnataoutlands
Bandcamp: http://bit.ly/HSsunnatabandcamp

LLNN

Sometimes it’s tempting, and might also be necessary, to give in for the darker emotions and let frustration and total aggression steer the wheel. One of the most angst-ridden, terrifying and straight up furious releases this year came out of the shores of Denmark. «Deads» put LLNN on the map of all things heavy once and for all. Some albums are better at channelling emotions than others, and this one you won’t forget.

Out on Pelagic Records, “Deads” scored LLNN gigs at Roadburn, Roskilde and Desertfest, letting this four-piece show off their intense live performance to a bigger audience. We have seen these guys on stage numerous times, and it’s something you do not want to miss.

We are proud to welcome the first danish act ever to Høstsabbat, October 2019.
LLNN is not kidding around, they come to lay waste

MUSIC
Spotify: http://bit.ly/LLNNspotifyHS
Bandcamp: http://bit.ly/LLNNbandcampHS

Slabdragger

The underground is important to Høstsabbat, not only here in Scandinavia, but we do our best to keep track with what’s happening elsewhere on our continent too.

The UK has been pioneering bands on the heavier, uglier side of things for years, and we’ve brought a few of them to our previous editions. Latest featured in the fabulous “The Doom Doc”, digging deep in the mentioned UK-scene, Slabdragger has been making waves for 10 years and has been a pivotal band in forming the quintessential UK sludge sound.

Their latest album “Rise of the Dawncrusher”, out on Holy Roar Records, starts off in an almost Sleep-esque groove, before the nastiness unveils gradually as clean vocals lose ground for growls and screams. We can only imagine how the massive physical impact of this record translates to their live performance. We are psyched to present the insanely heavy three piece that is SLABDRAGGER at Høstsabbat, October 2019.

EARLY BIRD TICKETS
Early Bird-tickets is out in one hour at 12:00!
Follow this link: http://bit.ly/Høstsabbat-earlybird (maximum 2 tickets each)

MUSIC
Spotify: http://bit.ly/SFSlabbdraggerHS
Youtube: http://bit.ly/SlabdraggerYT

HØSTSABBAT 2019 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/HS2019playlist

https://www.facebook.com/events/274561413173994/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

Sunnata, Outlands (2018)

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Live Review: Høstsabbat 2018 Night Two in Oslo, Norway, 10.06.18

Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat 2018 poster

I knew this was going to be a quick trip, but now that I’m sitting on the other end of Høstsabbat 2018 it feels even quicker than it did on paper. Today was — church pun totally intended — little short of immaculate. It picked up from the energy and personality of yesterday’s show and directed the personalities of each stage in a different way. Upstairs on the altar, it was rock and psych for most of the night, while downstairs in the Crypt, it dug deep into post-metal. Then, for the final two acts, they pulled a total swap. Just when you think you’ve caught the pattern: no dice.

Slept hard after posting that last review and stopped at the organic market on my way back to the Kulturkirken Jakob and picked up a little natural-rubber frog for The Pecan back home, then hit the venue to check in. I should note: Coffee was had. In bulk. I didn’t count cups, but I wouldn’t have been able to keep track anyhow. I know I put down two or three before Taiga Woods were finished opening the day in the basement, and I stopped in for more several times along the way after that. Big quality of life improvement.

I’m not sure how else to say it — today was a special day. I am not young, and I have been to many shows in my time. That’s not bragging; I’ve by no means seen the most shows. But I’ve seen a few. And a day like this doesn’t come along all that often. I know already I’ll be looking back on my time here fondly. I haven’t even left the hotel to go to the airport yet, and frankly I’m already feeling nostalgic.

Thank you for reading. This is how it went:

hostsabbat art

Taiga Woods

Taiga Woods (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Rockin’ start to the proceedings. Oslo’s own Taiga Woods tapped into a traditional style of desert heavy, showing shades of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age early on, but working their way toward their own identity in style and presence. Most of what they played came from their 2017 self-titled debut, though it’s worth noting that it would seem guitarist/vocalist Erik Skundberg has undergone a total revamp of the band in the 13 months since that LP was released, bringing on board drummer Jonatan Eikum as well as guitarist Jøran Normann, who played upstairs yesterday as a member of Lonely Kamel, and bassist Ole Ulvik Rokseth, who opened the Crypt yesterday as part of SÂVER. Familiar faces or no, that’s not a minor change when it’s three-fourths of the lineup. But as refreshing as it was to see an act get down to the ’90s roots of modern-style heavy rock, they lacked nothing for chemistry between them, and the new song “Step Up” fit well ahead the catchy “Slow Burning” as they made their way toward finishing with “The Great Machine.” I didn’t see CDs for sale, which only says to me they’re ready for someone to step up and put that record out either before or in conjunction with a new one to come.

Elephant Tree

Elephant Tree (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Maybe once — maybe — at a festival like this, I’ll see something that makes me pull the plugs out of my ears. Elephant Tree were that band at Høstsabbat. Kind of hard not to feel like the universe was doing me favors, lining up them, Asteroid and Electric Moon one into the next on the upstairs stage. The London three-piece were freshly arrived off a tour with Mothership and Stoned Jesus, and they sounded like it. I was lucky enough to see them in their hometown this past May (review here), and of course the context was different them play on an actual church altar in a room with a ceiling at least three stories high, but even so, they were locked in like a band who’ve been touring, and while they were joking around and guitarist/vocalist Jack Townley and bassist/vocalist Peter Holland were ragging on drummer Sam Hart for forgetting to get a beer before they took stage — someone brought him one — they were utterly locked in through “Dawn,” “Surma” and “Aphotic Blues” from their 2016 self-titled debut (review here). The harmonies between Townley and Holland were dead on, and they only showed progression in that regard with two new songs that carried the tentative titles “Wasted” and “Bella” before they closed out with a slowed-down cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Paranoid.” Because of the tempo, I actually thought they might dip into the Type O Negative version, but they ultimately stayed loyal at least in structure to the original. To call them a highlight of the trip would be underselling it viciously. A blast all the way through. They played Psycho Las Vegas last year, but I hope their next album brings them to the US for a full tour. They sounded ready and well up to the task.

Dwaal

Dwaal (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I knew nothing about Dwaal going into their set, and sometimes I like that. Also based in Oslo, they packed their five-piece lineup into the basement stage such that bassist Stian spent a decent portion of the set playing at least half behind a concrete support pillar. Metal. Actually, post-metal, and sludge, and doom, but fittingly atmospheric for an evening that would be headlined by Amenra. Their debut EP, Darben, came out last year comprised of two extended cuts — I’d call it a full-length since it topped 30 minutes, but why argue? — and they’ve reportedly got an album in the works, and while I don’t know if the bulk of what they played was new or older, their aggression and their level of crushing riffing were obviously a far cry from both Elephant Tree and Taiga Woods, but they marked the beginning point of a second thread running throughout the evening, which comprised more ambient and aggro post-whatnottery in contrast to the more rock-minded or psychedelic fare. Either way, the room knew them more than I did and they had heads banging and nodding in front of the “stage” — that’s not to say “the spot on the floor where the rug was” — and on the side as well, which was closed yesterday and opened today presumably to accommodate a broader flux of attendees. It was full for Dwaal, and reasonably so.

Asteroid

Asteroid (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Such boogie. Such warmth. I mean, come on. All other things in the universe being equal — especially money — the chance to see Asteroid alone would’ve justified this trip. I made my way up early to the Chapel stage, to make sure I got a spot up front to see them, and was rewarded with a set that gracefully spanned all three of their albums to-date and found them jamming out psychedelic heavy blues with a naturalism that was present not only in the individual tones and voices of guitarist/vocalist Robin Hirse and bassist/vocalist Johannes Nilsson, or the swing and shuffle in Jimmi Kohlscheen‘s drumming, but in the sonic conversation between the the three of them. That might be the most classic aspect of the Örebro trio’s sound, and it’s something that comes across on their records as well — their 2007 self-titled debut (discussed here), 2010’s II (review here) and 2016’s return from hiatus, III (review here) — but of course, to see it in the moment as it’s happening, to see them make the easy shift between “Garden” and “Disappear” or to have them turn to the riffy “Speaking to the Sea” from the first album ahead of “Mr. Strange” from the latest one, it was all the more powerful of an impression made. I hear tell there’s new material in the works; songs coming together for the next record and plans to tour ahead of hitting the studio. As Asteroid have been off and on the better part of the last five years, it only bodes well to know they’re thinking ahead for good things to come. They only make the world a better place for existing, and the more they do that, the merrier.

The Moth Gatherer

The Moth Gatherer (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Back downstairs for more post-metallic volume assault. Sweden’s The Moth Gatherer in some ways picked up where Dwaal left off, but traded in some of the rawness of their Crypt-stage predecessors for an even-more atmospheric take. They had an EP out last year called The Comfortable Low, but their latest full-length was 2015’s The Earth is the Sky (review here), and their more post-rock-based style sat well with the crowd downstairs that was packed to capacity with a line outside waiting to get in as other people made their way out. A very thoughtful, progressive sound nonetheless had its share of claustrophobia, which was all the more fitting given the basement where they played, and watching them, it was evident just how righteously Høstsabbat had managed to capture not just a “club show” experience with its smaller stage, but more like a house show. To low light and periodically bludgeoning intensity, The Moth Gatherer filled that Crypt with sound as much as people, and they were a band I’d probably never have the chance to see anywhere else, so I felt all the more fortunate for the chance to do so here, in that small room where the walls seemed so ready to cave in at a moment’s notice. The thread that started with Dwaal and continued with The Moth Gatherer would pick up again with Amenra at the end, but there was still more rock to be had first.

Electric Moon

Electric Moon (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Before the German instrumentalist space/psych jammers got started, they shared a hug on the side of the stage, and then guitarist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt got on mic and wished everyone a pleasant flight. With the core trio of the band made all the more lush owing to guest synth from Burt Rocket (SEID) at the center of the stage, that trip took off quickly and didn’t bother to look back at ground below. Schmidt and bassist/sometimes-vocalist “Komet Lulu” Neudeck were rejoined by original drummer Pablo Carneval about a year ago, and their adventures only seemed to take them farther and farther out as their set went on, washes of guitar and synth floating up to the high ceiling while the bass and drums held together a fluidity of groove that showed the band for the masters of the form — such as it is a “form” with a sound so utterly molten — that they are. I’ve been lucky enough to catch them at Roadburn in years past (review here) and with their members in various projects, as the band’s pedigree runs through acts like Zone Six and WeltraumstaunenKrautzone, etc., but to see Electric Moon on stage is something unto itself. They’re never overly showy in terms of thrashing about or anything, but the experience of their sonic exploration comes through vividly as they play, and that suits the laid back feel of the resultant material itself perfectly. They did not in any way fail to invite the audience along on what indeed turned out to be a pleasurable, radiant-in-the-sense-of-light journey.

Brutus

Brutus (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I did not see nearly enough of Brutus. They were killer, and they were killing, and I did not see nearly enough of them doing it. To be fair to myself, I’d probably say the same if I’d managed to watch their full set, but the Norwegian traditionalist heavy rockers headlined in the Crypt, and they had the basement of Kulturkirken Jakob so jammed with bodies that for the first time in the whole weekend, I felt the press of the crowd almost knock me over up front. And even if I do at some point in my life get to see Brutus again, chances are, it won’t be in the kind of situation where I’m in danger of tripping over the stage monitors on the floor because of the push of people behind me, so I relished the opportunity while I could. And Brutus — clearly hometown heroes of boozy riff-purveyance — were a thrill to behold in that headlining spot. They could’ve played upstairs easily, I’m sure, but despite their sonic discrepancy with The Moth Gatherer and Dwall directly before, they made that basement into a party all the way, and while I knew that in just a little while, Amenra were going to close out the festival on a much darker note, the chance to see Brutus play, and to play in a place that small, wasn’t to be overlooked. I didn’t see enough of it, but I’m grateful for what I did catch, because that’s not an opportunity that will come along often, if it ever does again at all.

Amenra

Amenra (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Belgian post-metal kingpins have toured the US more than a couple of times at this point, I believe most recently as support for the wallop duo of Neurosis and Converge — their also on the former’s label, Neurot Recordings — but I’m still not sure America really appreciates just how huge Amenra are in Europe. They’re gods here. I knew that from seeing them at Roadburn in 2016, but the intervening years have only seen them all the more don a headliner role. They would seem to have taken the post-metal crown that once belonged to Cult of Luna, and while I’ll admit I could in no way match my fellow fest-goers’ sense of worship when it came time for them to go on, there’s absolutely nothing one can take away either from their intensity or their obvious dedication to how they present themselves. I don’t know if it would be possible to find a more fitting locale for Amenra to play than in a church with cathedral ceilings of height enough for their projections to be shown massively to the assembled congregation, but even if you discount all of that, and ignore the we-play-in-the-dark-until-the-strobes-hit lighting and the fact that frontman Colin H. van Eeckhout doesn’t face the audience until the last song, if then, they’re still a formidable presence live, and there would’ve been nowhere else to put them on the Høstsabbat bill if they weren’t at the top of it. I’m not 100 percent sure I’m ready to call myself a full-on convert to the “church of ra,” as they put it, but I definitely didn’t have any trouble seeing the appeal of their dogma. And I reserve the right to become a total fanboy at some later date.

I left out of Kulturkirken Jakob into the chilly Oslo air without my hoodie on. Just wanted to feel that cold as it was rather than shy away from it. Something about the sensory experience on my bare neck and forearms seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s coming up on three in the morning CET and my flight is at nine-something, so I won’t get to see a lot of the city on this trip. Maybe that was my way of taking as much of it in as I could.

When I got back around the block to the Anker Hotel, I messaged Johannes from Asteroid. We had talked earlier in the day about doing an interview for “The Obelisk Show” on Gimme Radio, and it didn’t happen at the venue, but I thought if they were around the hotel maybe it could work. Was worth a shot, anyhow. Robin was asleep, but I chatted in the hotel bar with Johannes and Jimmi, and that was a blast. I spoke with Elephant Tree earlier in the day as well, and with Ole Helstad and Jens Storaker, who run the fest, so I think I’ll probably just dedicate a whole episode to having been here. I think I have a few weeks before I get there, but I’ll keep you posted.

I haven’t sorted any pics yet from tonight, so need to do that, but I’m not sleepy yet, so hopefully my brain won’t come crashing down before I have to leave for the airport. Help me, last tiny drops of adrenaline.

My eyelids are getting heavy just thinking about it.

I can’t possibly thank you enough for reading if you have.

Thank you.

Thank you so much to Jens and to Ole for having me back here. Thank you to The Patient Mrs. and to Cate Wright for taking on my Pecan duties in my absence. Thank you to my mother and my sister for their undying support. My only hope is they know how grateful I am for it. Thanks to Falk-Hagen Bernshausen for always being so great to run into at fests, to Andrea who I met here, to Kai, who is an institution unto himself, to Pete, Jack and Sam from Elephant Tree, to Robin, Johannes and Jimmi from Asteroid, to Sula Bassana, Martin from Domkraft, Jens Heide, Lex and everyone else I spoke to over the last two days who said hi. It’s hugely appreciated and humbling. People say nice things. It feels good. Thank you.

Alright. On to photos, and then to shower, and then to airport. I doubt I’ll have it in me to post again before I’m back home, and don’t look for much on Monday, but really, one more time, thank you. So much. I don’t even get it, how lucky I am. My soul feels restored for having been here.

Thank you for that.

Pics after the jump.

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Live Review: Høstsabbat 2018 Night One in Oslo, Norway, 10.05.18

Posted in Reviews on October 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat 2018 poster

I can’t remember the last time I went 24 hours without coffee, but here in Oslo, the morning after the first night of Høstsabbat 2018, I’m pretty sure I’m at that mark. Thursday evening I flew out of Boston, got into Copenhagen yesterday morning, connected to Norway and took the Flytoget train into Oslo Central Station and walked from there to the Anker Hotel where I’m staying, about a block and a half away from the Kulturkirken Jakob, where the fest is being held. All that time, no caffeine. Haven’t really had five minutes to get any. I don’t know if there’s coffee at the show. I was too busy yesterday to ask.

Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Høstsabbat at the Vulkan Arena. That was crazy. This is another level. Kulturkirken Jakob is literally a church — it is accurately-enough depicted on the festival poster that I recognized it looking out the window of the hotel room — and a large one at that with high ceilings, big altar, a raised pulpit, wood floors, etc. And downstairs, a basement that’s essentially the opposite: low ceiling, cobwebs, concrete supports for the massive structure overhead. And the fest is both aware of and reveling in the difference. With a stage upstairs and a stage downstairs, they’re playing to both ends of the spectrum between grandiosity and no frills volume-assault basement gigs, and with the mix of bands across a range of styles, it totally works. I spoke to fest organizers Ole C. Helstad and Jens Andreas Storaker yesterday, and they both seemed really pleased with how everything has turned out. As well they should be.

It was eight bands, four on each stage rotating back and forth between them. Downstairs, upstairs, downstairs, upstairs, and so on. No crossovers in the lineup though, so if you wanted to, you could see everything. That was my goal and I’m happy to say it worked out. It went like this:

hostsabbat art

SÂVER

Saver (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The all-caps post-noise sludgers SÂVER announced earlier this week that they will issue their debut LP, They Came with Sunlight, early next year on Pelagic Records. It was far away from a release party, then, but their set in the basement — the Crypt Stage, as it’s being called — was kind of a preview of what’s in store. In the tight space downstairs, the Oslo-native trio unfurled the first of the night’s several genuine volume blasts, a crunch and lurch and Neurosis-style tension cut through only by Markus Støle‘s drums and the shouts of bassist Ole C. Helstad and guitarist Ole Ulvik Rokseth. They were loud enough to shake the floor and packed enough low-end punch to vibrate the plugs in your ears, but there was a cohesive sense of atmosphere as well, and that extends to the album as well. They could be and often were brutally heavy, but there was a depth to that heft as well, so that it wasn’t an all out assault without purpose. It was an early start at 5PM on a workday, but the room was still decently packed, and they gave all present a reason to look out for They Came with Sunlight‘s impending release. I know I will, anyhow.

Hällas

Hallas (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Høstsabbat‘s throwing the doors open as regards vibe was evident from the moment Sweden’s Hällas took the stage. Glammed-out to the point of bassist/vocalist Tommy Alexandersson wearing a cape and metallic-shining boots, the five-piece nonetheless brought classic progressive-edged boogie to life in a way that immediately answered any and all questions about the vitality of retroism in heavy rock. Alexandersson, guitarists Alexander Moraitis and Marcus Pettersson and drummer Kasper Eriksson played down on the stage while keyboardist Nicklas Malmqvist took to the raised pulpit and even worked in a little ultra-appropriate church organ to the proceedings. They came supporting their 2018 full-length, Excerpts from a Future Past, and handled the big stage like absolute professionals. Lush as their sound was, it was an immediate contrast to the rawness of SÂVER back downstairs, and as the evening went on, that only more clearly came into focus as being precisely the intent. Heavy isn’t just dark, or catchy, or loud. Hällas opened the upstairs stage with uptempo kick, danceable groove and a classic feel that seems to become all the more crucial as time goes on.

Krokofant

Krokofant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

And if Hällas made the point, Krokofant only confirmed it with their go-anywhere doom jazz. With Jørgen Mathisen on saxophone, clarinet and keys, Tom Hasslan on guitar and Axel Skalstad on drums, the well-named trio were a gleeful excursion into the outer reaches of weird. There were moments where they reminded my East Coast US ears of Stinking Lizaveta for their ability to keep an overarching groove locked in while also running circles around it in intricate scales, but Krokofant were by and large more angular and mathy-sounding, giving the feeling they were crunching numbers as much as riffs, and still being an awful lot of fun. Whether it was Skalstad looking like his drumkit was his favorite playground or Hasslan every now and again stepping to the fore with a spacious lead, they were an outlier who served that necessary function well, giving yet another definition of “heavy” for the fest’s ongoing creative statement on the subject. I knew nothing about them going into the set and still had fun watching them play, and I was by no means the only one.

Lonely Kamel

Lonely Kamel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

If you can see Lonely Kamel, do it. That’s the message plain and simple of their live set. I had a feeling Lonely Kamel were going to kick ass, and they did. Four years after putting out Shit City via Napalm Records, the Oslo heavy rockers took the altar supporting this year’s Death’s Head-Hawkmoth (review here) on Stickman, and in so doing gave a reminder that sometimes all you need is songwriting and performance. I don’t mean to make that sound easy, because it isn’t — though Lonely Kamel made it look that way — but it’s true. They’re not a niche band. They’re not really trying to innovate in terms of aesthetics. But they’re excellent at what they do, and they’re tight enough that anything else they did would seem superfluous anyway. They don’t need it. They have songs and they have performance. “Evil Man” from 2011’s Dust Devil (review here) was a highlight, and the hook of “Inebriated” from the new record was recognizable as soon as they hit into it, while “Fascist Bastard” brought an edgier groove to the set. They were locked in, on fire, and whatever other cliche you’d want to put to it, and they too were a lot of fun, but you could also hear their experience in how they played. Their straightforward approach was an excellent grounding point for the rest of the night to come, but also, another distinguishing factor that made them different from everyone else who played. It was that kind of night. Right on.

Domkraft

Domkraft (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Stand and watch and hear Domkraft play for any given three minutes of their set and you might come away with a completely different impression of what they do. Over here, the Swedish trio are digging into post-Monolord nod-of-riff largesse, over there they’re pulling off a Hawkwindian push through the cosmos, and even further on, they’re shouting out aggro noise-laced heavy rock. The key aspect of all of it is that they tie it together. It’s fluid. They make it all theirs. That’s true even more on their impending second record, Flood, which is out Oct. 19 on Blues Funeral Recordings as the follow-up to 2016’s The End of Electricity (review here), which was issued by Magnetic Eye Records, though “Sandwalker” and “Dead Skies Red Eyes” from the new album matched up pretty well down in the Kulturkirken Jakob basement with the punch of “Meltdown of the Orb” and “The Rift” from its predecessor. The three-piece capped off with “The Watchers” and “Landslide,” a reverse ordering of the opening salvo of Flood, and demonstrated all the more their progressive will and encompassing vision of heavy, which they matched with a fervently aggressive lumber and depth of fuzz. They had been one of the bands I was most looking forward to on the night’s bill, and they absolutely delivered.

Spurv

Spurv (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Not going to claim to know what night two of the festival will bring or anything, but there’s a good chance that Spurv had the entire weekend’s only trombone. Even Krokofant didn’t have one, jazzy as they were, but as Oslo instrumentalist post-rockers Spurv were playing earlier 2018’s Myra LP in full, trombone and the violin on the other side of the stage were both essential along with the three guitars, bass and drums. There was some kind of metallic underpinning to the material — especially in the drums — but my bottom line in watching their set was there’s very little in this world that can make you want an album you don’t have as much as seeing that album played live. As Spurv ran through their tracks, their energy made so much of post-rock seem silly, as though they were asking, “why would I be gazing at my shoes when I’m making such cool sounds?,” and I found I had no answer for that question. With more than a hint of prog and post-black metal wash, Spurv engulfed the church with a fitting spaciousness and seemed to be ecclesiastic in just the right way for the setting. It was gorgeous. I already regret not buying the record when they finished.

Eagle Twin

Eagle Twin (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Certainly the loudest band in the basement. Upstairs was working on a different scale, but I think if you took volume in per-capita measure, they were probably the loudest band of the night overall. I also didn’t realize just how much blues there is in Eagle Twin‘s sound. Their 2018 album, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn) review here, is the occasion for their being in Europe for the next couple weeks, and as they hop from fest to fest to fest, they left no shortage of footprint in Oslo. Even before they started, drummer Tyler Smith‘s line-checking his snare drum required earplugs just to take it, and guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley plugged into every amp and cabinet in the downstairs backline, so yes, much volume there as well. And it’s easy to lose in all that volume, in the riffing and throat-singing and crash, but year, there’s an awful lot of blues to what they do. It was a welcome discovery for one such as myself, who is years late on seeing Eagle Twin live, and I feel like finally doing so has genuinely helped me better understand where their albums are coming from. Time for a revisit to The Thundering Heard, I think.

Toner Low

Toner Low (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I have no problem admitting that by the time Toner Low went on, I felt beat to hell. It had been a long day of travel and riffs, and I had one of those ultra-tired headaches that neither water nor riffs was going to cure. Still, how are you not going to watch Toner Low? The most stoned of the stoner bands, hailing from the Netherlands, essentially played in the dark, as is their wont, and what light there was was tinted weedian green to match their hyperdense riffing and overarching plod. I said it on on the social medias, but it bears repeating: All your tone worship, amp worship, riff worship bands: Toner Low destroys them all and they’ve been doing it for a long time now. I’ve been fortunate enough to see them live before, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with what was coming, but to hear that low end bounce off the vaulted ceiling was more than its fair share of incredible, and even exhausted as I was, Toner Low made themselves absolutely indispensable with their chest-rattling lumber and ultra-languid flow. I’ll go ahead and take a new album whenever it’s ready, please. The sooner the better.

Can’t even tell you how much I’ve been falling asleep while putting this together. Because I’ve been too unconscious to know. Sorry for typos, wrong or missing words, etc.

Night two kicks off in a few hours, so I’m going to crash back out and see if I can revive myself at least enough to open both eyes at the same time.

Until then, enjoy the pics after the jump below:

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Høstsabbat 2018 Announces Amenra to Headline, Adds Eagle Twin & Lonely Kamel to Bill; Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I was pretty down the the level of variety Høstsabbat 2018 had running in its lineup before, but if you want to see a spectrum of heavy, just take a look at the last three bands added to complete the lineup. Amenra, the Belgian outfit who I think are inarguably the foremost European post-metal band at the moment, will headline. Oslo’s own heavy rockers Lonely Kamel will play, bringing classic heavy vibes and an unabashed, unashamed good time. Oh, and then there’s the two-piece Eagle Twin from Utah who blend doom and psychedelia and throatsinging and stories about mythical birds and beasts and whatnot. So, you know, a little something for everyone.

Plus Electric Moon are playing. That’s excuse enough to show up right there, frankly.

But yeah, it’s a killer way for Høstsabbat 2018 to finish unveiling its lineup, and one imagines the massive strobe setup Amenra bring to the proceedings will be the unholiest thing ever seen in the Church JAKOB, where Høstsabbat is being held.

Dig it:

Amenra: Please welcome the headliner of Høstsabbat 2018!

When we first landed Church JAKOB as this years’ venue, a couple of bands came to mind as the perfect bookings..

And it is with massive pride we are able to announce our first choice, the legends in the Belgian five piece, Amenra . What could possibly be a more fitting closure to this years event than the founders of the Church of RA-collective?

To witness Amenra from a stage is something you won’t forget. It’s cleansing, ritualistic, nihilistic, scary, painful and in the most accurate sense of the word; mindblowing. Their attention to detail in performance, riffs and visuals can hardly be described as anything but spellbinding, and to have this complete package in a church, downtown Oslo.. well what to say?

On top of this, their recent masterpiece “MASS VI”, put Amenra in a different league all together, as the Neurot Records release was hailed as one of the absolute best metal records of 2017. Also bringing them onboard two massive US-tours alongside label bosses Neurosis and Converge.

On October 6th they grace Church JAKOB with their presence. Are you in?

Lonely Kamel

Touring Europe as we speak, the re-invented five piece version of Oslo’s stoner legends Lonely Kamel will make a joyful return to Høstsabbat, as they deserve.

Their new album “Death’s-Head Hawkmoth” was released about a month ago on the stellar Stickman Records, putting the Kamel’s in the top shelf of European underground rock.

Lonely Kamel have played more or less every underground festival there is, on the European continent, from Duna Jam, to Roadburn, to Desertfest, to Up in Smoke..you name it, and they have toured massively for years, making them an easy act to love.

We’re eager to welcome these blues and boozehounds back, as should you!

Eagle Twin

We are extremely proud to present the two-headed beast that is Eagle Twin (US). Probably one of the best live acts around, and a huge favorite in our camp. Being somewhat of a benchmark for what two guys can make out of their instruments and hands, we will bow to their wall of sound.

The guys from Utah just released their new album “The Thundering Heard” to massive praise, and will set out for a short span of shows in Europe in October. After trying to have Eagle Twin over for several years, we are stoked to tell they will start their Euro run at Høstsabbat Friday October 5th.

What else to say, than the Eagle has landed.

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

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

Amenra, Mass VI (2017)


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