Quarterly Review: Spotlights, War Cloud, Rubble Road, Monte Luna, High Reeper, Frozen Planet….1969, Zaius, Process of Guilt, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Owlcrusher

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Day two of the Quarterly Review and feeling groovy so far. Managed to survive yesterday thanks in no small part to good music and good coffee, and looking at what’s coming up in today’s batch, I don’t expect the situation will be much different — though the styles will. I try to keep in mind as I put these weeks together to change up what’s in each round, so it’s not just all psych records, or all doom, or heavy rock or whatever else. This way I’m not burning myself out on anything particular and I hopefully don’t wind up saying the same things about albums that maybe only share vague genre aspects in common — riffs, etc. — in the same way. Essentially trying to trick my brain into being creative. Sometimes it even works. Let’s see how it fares today.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Spotlights, Seismic

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After touring hard with the likes of Melvins, Deftones and Refused, heavy post-rockers Spotlights mark their first release on Ipecac Recordings with their second album, Seismic, which finds the core duo of Mario and Sarah Quintero working with producer Aaron Harris (Isis) to follow-up 2016’s Tidals with 65 minutes/11 tracks of weighted atmospherics and far-spanning melodic textures as shown on emotive heft-bringers like “Ghost of a Glowing Forest.” Heavygaze, I suppose, is the genre tag that’s emerged, but with the opening title-track, the chugging “Learn to Breathe” and the later percussive turns of “A Southern Death,” there’s as much focus on crush as on ambience, though as Seismic makes its way through the pair of eight-minute tracks “Hollow Bones” (wonder if they know the 30 Rock reference they’re making) and “Hang us All” before the minimal subdued drones and melodic effects swirls of closer “The Hope of a Storm,” Spotlights succeed in finding a middle ground that offers plenty of both. In its moments of intensity and its range, Seismic builds cohesion from ether and immediately benefits from the purposeful growth the Quinteros have clearly undertaken over the past year by hitting the road with the dedication they have.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Ipecac Recordings website

 

War Cloud, War Cloud

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Bay Area rockers War Cloud don’t get too fancy on their self-titled debut, which they make via Ripple Music as the follow-up to their 2016 single Vulture City (discussed here), but as they prove quickly in the dual-guitar Thin Lizzyisms of opener “Give’r” and the later post-Motörhead/Peter Pan Speedrock careening of “Speed Demon,” neither do they necessarily need to. Comprised of guitarists Alex Wein (also vocals) and Tony Campos, bassist Sean Nishi and drummer Joaquin Ridgell, War Cloud offer 31 minutes of brisk, unpretentious asskickery, riffs trading channels at the outset of “Hurricane” as it makes ready to settle into its proto-thrashing rocker groove, and the mood of the release as a whole engaging as much through its reimagining 20-year-old Metallica as a heavy rock band there as on the more grandly riff-led “Divide and Conquer.” Structures are straightforward, and not one of the eight tracks tops five minutes, but they’re more than enough for War Cloud find their place between metal form and heavy rock tone, and cuts like “Chopper Wired” and brazenly charged closer “Vulture City” nail the core message of the band’s arrival.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Rubble Road, The Clowns Have Spoken

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Rubble Road ain’t hurtin’ nobody. The Orlando-based double-guitar four-piece take two prior singles and put them together with four new tracks as their 29-minute/six-song debut EP, The Clowns Have Spoken, and thereby bring forth straightforward heavy rock that seems to be finding its personality in tone but nonetheless has a strong structural foundation underlying that holds up the material and “The Judge” tosses in a bit of metallic gallop to go with the forward-directed heavy rock proffered on the prior “Galactic Fugitives” and “Gospel (Get it Together).” I won’t say much for the politics of “Truck Stop Hooker,” which caps with the line, “Your mother gives great helmet, baby,” but “Wizard Staff” and “Do it Yourself” broaden the dynamic of the release overall. They’ve got some growing to do, but again, there’s an efficiency in their songwriting that comes through these songs, and as an initial showcase/demo, The Clowns Have Spoken shows Rubble Road with the potential to continue to grow.

Rubble Road on Thee Facebooks

Rubble Road on Bandcamp

 

Monte Luna, Monte Luna

monte luna monte lona

You might check out the self-titled debut from Austin, Texas, duo Monte Luna. You might even pick up the digipak or tape version. You might listen to extended tracks like “Nameless City” (12:53) and “6,000 Year March” (17:42) and be like, “Yeah, cool riffs dudes.” You might even then chase down the The Hound EP that guitarist/vocalist/bassist James Clarke and drummer/synthesist Phil Hook put out last year. At some point though, you’re going to put Monte Luna’s Monte Luna on your shelf and leave it there. Fair enough. However – and I’m not going to say when; could be sooner, could be later — then you’re going to find yourself remembering its massive, 71-minute sprawl of riffs, its doomed-out grooves, shouts, screams, growls and the way its builds become so utterly immersive, and you’re going to put Monte Luna on again. And that’s the moment when it will really hit you. It might take some time, and part of that is no doubt that there’s simply a lot of record to wade through, but whether it’s the rumbling start of “Nightmare Frontier” (14:26), the cacophonous stomp of “Inverted Mountain” (12:04) or the righteous crash of “The End of Beginning” (9:42), Monte Luna will have earned that deeper look, and if you allow them to make that deeper impression with their self-titled, they almost certainly will.

Monte Luna on Thee Facebooks

Monte Luna on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, High Reeper

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Newcomer five-piece High Reeper telegraph Sabbathian heavy rocker intent with their self-released, self-titled debut album. The Delaware-based lineup of Zach Thomas, Napz Mosley, Andrew Price, Pat Daly and Shane Trimble make no bones about their roots in opener “Die Slow,” and as the stoner-swinging “High Reeper,” the doom-swaggering “Reeper Deadly Reeper” and the yo-check-out-this-bassline nodder “Weed and Speed” play out in the record’s midsection, it seems increasingly likely that, sooner or later, some imprint or other will pick up High Reeper for a wider release. As the band demonstrates through the stomping “Soul Taker” and the seeming mission statement “Black Leather (Chose Us)” ahead of closer “Friend of Death,” which breaks its six minutes in half between Judas Priest thrust and an instrumental finish that calls to mind “Heaven and Hell,” they’ve got a keen ear for updating classic elements, and though formative, their first outing is cleverly memorable and an immediately resonant display of songcraft. Now we know High Reeper can engage these stylistic components — the test will be how they develop them into something individualized going forward.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

High Reeper on YouTube

 

Frozen Planet….1969, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe

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From the Centre of a Parallel Universe is the second long-player of 2017 from Sydney/Canberra’s Frozen Planet….1969. It arrives on CD through Pepper Shaker and LP via Headspin with five tracks/43 minutes of improv-style psych jams following suit from the prior Electric Smokehouse (review here) and helps to bring the band’s funk-infused, spacious dynamic all the more into focus. Also out of focus. Like, blurry vision-style. They range far and wide and keep the proceedings delightfully weird in the three extended pieces “Celestial Gambler,” “Through Hell’s Kaleidoscope, Parts I & II” and “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” – all north of 11 minutes – and with “Signals (Channelling…)” and “The Lady and the Archer” leading the way into each LP side, Frozen Planet….1969 take the time to assure they’re bringing their listeners along with them on their potent journey into the cosmically far out. The must-hear bass tone in “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” is but one of many reasons to dig in, but whatever it takes, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe’s invitation to get lost is not one to be missed.

Frozen Planet….1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Zaius, Of Adoration

zaius of adoration

Chicago’s history with instrumentalist post-metal goes back as far as the notion of the subgenre itself with acts like Pelican and Russian Circles providing aesthetic-defining landmarks over the last 15-plus years even as a group like Bongripper embraces darker, more lumbering fare. The four-piece Zaius, who make their full-length debut with Of Adoration on Prosthetic Records after two self-released EPs in 2013 and 2011, position themselves more toward the shimmering airiness of the former rather than the latter’s raw lumber, but there’s heft to be found in the expanses of “Sheepdog” and “Seirenes” all the same, and the second half of “Echelon” and closer “Colin” tighten up some of the ethereality of pieces like opener “Phaneron” and the driftingly progressive “Reformer” or the penultimate, patient rollout of “Anicca” to hone a sense of balance that feels as emotionally driven as it is cerebral in its construction. Hard for a band like Zaius to stand themselves out at this point given the swath of acts working in a similar style in and out of the Windy City, but in its textural approach and held-steady flow, Of Adoration satisfies.

Zaius on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Process of Guilt, Black Earth

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Portuguese post-doomers Process of Guilt hit the 15-year mark with the release of their fourth album, Black Earth (on Division/Bleak Recordings), and with a mix by Brooklyn noise-rock specialist Andrew Schneider, a mastering job by Collin Jordan in Chicago and striking cover art by growler/guitarist Hugo Santos with images by Pedro Almeida, the sense of atmosphere is thick and the mood is aggressive throughout. Santos, along with guitarist Nuno David, bassist Custódio Rato and drummer Gonçalo Correia chug and flow through a linear 42 minutes and five tracks on the suitably darkened offering, touching on progressive nuance but not letting cerebral underpinnings take away from the onslaught feel of “Feral Ground” or the tension mounted early in the 11-minute penultimate title-track, which uses feedback as a weapon throughout no less capably than the subsequent closer “Hoax” affects immediately with its nodding tonal wash. Taken as a whole, Black Earth finds Process of Guilt exploring depths of their sound as much as with it, and the directions they go feel as much inward as out.

Process of Guilt on Thee Facebooks

Division Records website

Bleak Recordings website

 

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk

Sundus-Abdulghani-Trunk-self-titled

The challenge for an outfit like Stockholm’s Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, whose self-titled debut arrives via respected purveyor Kozmik Artifactz, lies separating themselves from the shadow of fellow Swedes Blues Pills, whose semi-psych heavy-blues-rocking first album has cast a wide influence that can be heard here as well as in any number of other bands currently kicking around the Euro underground proffering as balance of soul and heavy rock as songs like “It Ain’t Love (But Close Enough)” and “Like Water” do here. Where Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk most succeed in doing this is in the harmonies of “Black Magic Man,” which brings to mind classic acid folk while holding to a heavy blues vibe, but there are other moments throughout when individuality flourishes as well. The attitude is laid on a bit thick in “Them Dames,” but the hooks of “Sister Sorrow,” “She Knows,” “The Devil’s Got a Hold on You” and “Stay” and the burgeoning sense of arrangements complementing Abdulghani’s vocals do well in helping cast an identity one hopes will continue to develop.

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Owlcrusher, Owlcrusher

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Conceived by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Spiers, bassist/vocalist Steve Hobson and drummer Damien McKeown, Banbridge trio Owlcrusher conjure three extended, slicing slabs of black-singed sludge extremity on their self-titled Seeing Red Records debut, and it’s enough to make one wonder just what the fuck is going on in Northern Ireland to inspire such outright bleakness. Beginning with the 16-minute “Feeble Preacher” (also the longest inclusion here; immediate points), Owlcrusher’s Owlcrusher lumbers excruciatingly forth with screams and growls cutting through a tonality geared for max-volume consumption, though it remains to be seen who is consuming whom as “Feeble Preacher” gives way to the likewise scorched eponymous “Owlcrusher” (11:30) and 15-minute closer “Spoiler,” the last of which brings the only real moment of letup on the album after about nine minutes in, and even that takes the form of an interlude of Khanate-style minimalist ambience before the rolling megacrush resumes and plods to a somehow-even-heavier finish. Clearly a band pushing themselves toward the superlative, Owlcrusher get there much faster than their crawling tones would have you believe. Madness.

Owlcrusher on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: The Necromancers, The Asound & Intercourse, Bohr, Strobe, Astrosaur, Sun Q, Holy Mount, Sum of R, IIVII, Faces of the Bog

Posted in Reviews on September 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

The season is changing here in the Northeastern part of the US. Leaves have just barely started to change, and the summertime haze that settles over the region for for the better parts of June, July and August has largely dissipated. It’s getting to be hoodie weather after the sun goes down. This past weekend was the equinox. All of this can only mean it’s time for another Quarterly Review — this one spanning a full Monday-to-Monday week’s worth of writeups. That’s right. 60 albums between now and a week from today. It’s going to be a genuine challenge to get through it all, but I’m (reasonably) confident we’ll get there and that when we’re on the other side, it will have been completely worth the lengthy trip to get there. Hell, you know the drill by now. Let’s not waste any time and get to it, shall we?

Quarterly Review #1-10:

The Necromancers, Servants of the Salem Girl

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A noteworthy debut from the Poitier, France-based four-piece The Necromancers, whose coming has been much heralded owing in no small part to a release through Ripple Music, the six-track/41-minute Servants of the Salem Girl lumbers through doom and cultish heavy rock with likewise ease, shifting itself fluidly between the two sides on extended early cuts like opener “Salem Girl Part I” and the nine-minute “Lucifer’s Kin,” which gets especially Sabbathian in its roll later on. The album’s midsection, with the shorter cuts “Black Marble House” (video premiere here) and “Necromancers,” continues the flow with a general uptick of pace and ties together with the opening salvo via the burly vocals of guitarist Tom, the solo work of Rob on lead guitar, and the adaptable groove from bassist Simon and drummer Ben, and as the penultimate “Grand Orbiter” engages moody spaciousness, it does so with a refusal to commit to one side or the other that makes it a highlight of the album as a whole. The Necromancers finish contrasting rhythmic tension and payoff nod on “Salem Girl Part II,” having long since thoroughly earned their hype through songwriting and immediately distinct sonic persona. There’s growth to do in melodicism, but for being “servants,” The Necromancers show an awful lot of command in structure and style.

The Necromancers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

The Asound & Intercourse, Split 7″

the asound intercourse split

Noise is the order of things on the Tsuguri Records split 7” between New Haven, Connecticut’s good-luck-Googling aggressives Intercourse and North Carolinian sludge rockers The Asound. Each band offers a two-song showcase of their wares, with Intercourse blasting short jabs of post-hardcore/noise rock angularity on “Too Fucked to Yiff” and “Corricidin is a Helluva Drug” and The Asound bringing a more melodic heavy rock swing to “Slave to the Saints” while saving a more galloping charge for “Human for Human.” It’s a quick sampling, of course, and “Slave to the Saints” is the relative epic inclusion as the only one over three minutes long – it goes to 4:20, naturally – but boasts a surprisingly professional production from The Asound and an unhinged vibe from Intercourse that meets them head on in a way both competitive and complementary to the aggression of “Human for Human.” Fodder for the bands’ merch tables in its limited-to-300, one-time-only pressing, but there’s hardly anything wrong with that. All the more worth grabbing it if you can, while you can.

The Asound on Thee Facebooks

Intercourse on Thee Facebooks

Tsuguri Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Bohr, Bohr

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Officially called Self-Title, this two-song outing released by Tandang Records and BTNKcllctv serves as the first release from Malaysia’s Bohr, and with shouts and growls duking it out over massive plodding tones on opener “Voyager,” they seem to take position right away in the post-Conan verve of megadoom. Peppered-in lead work showcases some welcome nuance of personality, but it’s the second track “Suria” that trips into more surprising terrain, with a faster tempo and something of a letup in thickness, allowing for a more rocking feel, still met with shouted vocals but hinting at more of a melodic reach nonetheless. The shift might be awkward in the context of a full-length, but on a debut single/EP, it works just fine to demonstrate what may or may not be a nascent breadth in Bohr’s approach. They finish “Suria” with hints of more to come in a plotted guitar lead and are done in about 10 minutes, having piqued interest with two disparate tracks that leave one to wonder what other tricks might be up their collective sleeve.

Bohr on Thee Facebooks

Tandang Records on Bandcamp

BTNKcllctv on Bandcamp

 

Strobe, Bunker Sessions

strobe bunker sessions

It’s worth noting outright that Strobe’s Bunker Sessions was recorded in 1994. Not because it sounds dated, but just the opposite. The Sulatron Records release from the under-exposed UK psychedelic rockers finds them jamming out in live-in-studio fashion, and if you’d told me with no other context that the resultant six-track/40-minute long-player was put to tape two months ago, I’d absolutely have believed it. This would’ve been the era of their 1994 third album, The Circle Never Ends, and while some can hear some relation between that and Bunker Sessions in the shimmering lead and warm underscoring basslines of 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Sun Birth,” the drift in “Chameleon Earth,” synth-laden space rock meandering of “Opium Dreams” and cymbal-wash-into-distortion-wash of closer “Sun Death” are on a wavelength of their own. It’s something of a curio release – a “lost album” – but it’s also bound to turn some heads onto how ahead of their time Stobe were in the ‘90s, and maybe we’ll get lucky and Sulatron will use it to kick off a full series of convenient LP reissues.

Sulatron Records on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Astrosaur, Fade In / Space Out

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While their moniker brings to mind pure stoner idolatry, Oslo instrumentalists Astrosaur acquit themselves toward more progressive fare with Fade In // Space Out, their Bad Vibes Records debut album, finding open spaces in bookending extended opener “Necronauts” and the dramatic shift between droning experimentalism and weighted lumber of the closing title-track even as middle cuts “Space Mountain,” “Yugen” and “Fishing for Kraken” balance with fits of driving progressive metallurgy. Comprised of Eirik Kråkenes, Steinar Glas and Jonatan Eikum, Astrosaur do get fuzzy for a bit on “Yugen,” but by the time they’re there, they’ve already space-doom-jazzed their way through such a vast aesthetic swath that it becomes one more stylistic element in fair-enough play. Open in its structure and building to an affecting cacophony in its ending, Fade In // Space Out is defined in no small part by its stylistic ambition, but whether it’s in the head-spinning initial turns of “Fishing for Kraken” or the stretch of peaceful, wistful guitar after the seven-minute mark in “Necronauts,” that ambition is admirable multifaceted and wide-reaching.

Astrosaur on Thee Facebooks

Bad Vibes Records website

 

Sun Q, Charms

sun q charms

There’s an encouraging and decidedly pro-shop fullness of sound being proffered on Sun Q’s debut full-length, Charms, to match an immediate sense of songcraft and stylization that puts them somewhere between heavy psych and more driving fuzz rock. Vocalist Elena Tiron takes a forward position in opener “Petals and Thorns” over the briskly-captured tones from guitarist Ivan Shalimov and bassist Denis Baranov while drummer Pavel Poseluev pushes the proceedings along, and whether they’re bringing in Seva Timofeev’s Hammond for the subsequent bluesy vibing of “After This,” toying with pop playfulness on “Plankton,” giving Andrey Tanzu percussive room on “Dancing Souls” or going full-expanse on keyboard-laden centerpiece and aptly-titled longest cut “Space,” there’s purpose behind the variety on offer and Sun Q never seem to lose their sense of poise throughout. There are moments where the bite of the production hits a little deep – looking at you, “Plankton” – but especially as their debut, Charms lives up to the name it’s been given and establishes these Moscow natives as a presence with which to be reckoned as they move forward.

Sun Q on Thee Facebooks

Sun Q on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mount, The Drought

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White Dwarf Records picked up what by my count is Holy Mount’s fourth full-length, The Drought, for a vinyl issue following the Toronto foursome’s self-release last year, and with the immersive, dense heavy psych nod of “Division,” it’s little wonder why. The seven-cut LP is the second to feature the lineup of Danijel Losic, Brandon McKenzie, Troy Legree and Clayton Churcher behind 2014’s VOL, and its moments of nuance like the synth at the outset of “Blackened Log” or the blend of tense riffing and post-The Heads shoegaze-style vocal chants on the markedly insistent highlight cut “Basalt” only further the reasoning. The penultimate “Blood Cove” returns some to of the ritual sense of “Division,” and The Drought’s titular finale pierces its own wash with a lead that makes its apex all the more resonant and dynamic. Not nearly as frenetic as its cover art would have you believe, the already-sold-out vinyl brims with a vibe of creative expansiveness, and Holy Mount feel right at home in its depths.

Holy Mount on Thee Facebooks

White Dwarf Records webstore

 

Sum of R, Orga

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Over the course of its near-hour runtime, Orga, the Czar of Crickets-issued third full-length from Bern, Switzerland, ambient outfit Sum of R deep-dives into droning atmospheric wash while effectively producing headphone-worthy depths and avoiding the trap of redundant minimalism. Chimes in a song like “Desmonema Annasethe” and ringing bells in “We Have to Mark this Entrance” give a feeling of lushness instead that serves the release well overall, and these details, nuances, take the place of what otherwise might be human voices coursing through the bleak mire of Orga’s progression. One might look to closing duo “Let us Begin with What We Do Not Want to Be” and “One After the Other” for some sense of hopefulness, and whether or not it’s actually there, it’s possible to read it into the overarching drone of the former and the percussive movement of the latter, but by then Sum of R have well set the mood in an abiding darkness, and that remains the prevailing vibe. Not quite dramatic or brooding in a human/emotional sense, Orga casts its drear in soundscapes of distant nighttime horizon.

Sum of R website

Czar of Crickets Productions website

 

IIVII, Invasion

iivii invasion

Noted graphic artist and post-metal songwriter Josh Graham – formerly visuals for Neurosis, but also art for Soundgarden and many others, as well as being known for his work with A Storm of Light and the woefully, vastly underrated Battle of Mice – makes his second ambient solo release in the form of IIVII’s Invasion on Belgian imprint Consouling Sounds. A soundtrack-ready feel pervades the nine tracks/44 minutes almost instantly and holds sway with opener “We Came Here from a Dying World (I)” finding complement in the centerpiece “Tomorrow You’ll be One of Us (II)” and a thematic capstone in closer “Sanctuary,” only furthering the sense of a narrative unfolding throughout. There are elements drawn in “Unclouded by Conscience” from the atmospheric and score work of Trent Reznor and/or Junkie XL, but Graham doesn’t necessarily part with the post-metallic sense of brooding that has defined much of his work even as the pairing of “We Live” and “You Die” late in the record loops its way to and through its dramatic apex. Obviously not going to be for everyone, but it does make a solid argument for Graham as a composer whose breadth is still revealing itself even after a career filled with landmarks across multiple media.

IIVII on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

 

Faces of the Bog, Ego Death

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In some of their shifts between atmospheric patience and churning intensity – not to mention in the production of Sanford ParkerFaces of the Bog remind a bit of fellow Windy City residents Minsk on their DHU Records debut album, Ego Death, but prove ultimately more aggressive in the thrust of “Drifter in the Abyss” and the later stretch of “The Serpent and the Dagger,” on which the guitars of Mark Stephen Gizewski and Trey Wedgeworth (both also vocals) delve into Mastodonic leads near the finish to set up the transition into the 10:33 title-track, which begins with a wash of static noise before Paul Bradfield’s bass sets up the slow nod that holds sway and only grows bigger as it presses forward. That cut is one of two over the 10-minute mark, and the other, closer “Blue Lotus,” unfolds even more gradually and ventures into cleaner vocals presaged on “The Weaver” and elsewhere as it makes its way toward an album-payoff crescendo marked by drummer Danny Garcia’s thudding toms and a low end rumble that’s as much a presence unto itself as a harbinger of progression to come.

Faces of the Bog on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

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Earth Witch Sign to Cursed Tongue Records; Out of the Shallow LP Due in December

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

earth witch

Illinois trio Earth Witch will release their debut album, Out of the Shallow, on vinyl through Cursed Tongue Records before the end of the year. They mark the fifth pickup from the emergent imprint behind Neon WarshipDevil’s WitchesGreen Yeti and Mental Tremors, and the second to come from the US. First issued independently earlier this year on CD/DL, Out of the Shallow makes an immediately burled-out impression, dense in its riffing and decidedly belonging to the up-and-coming generation of heavy rock — the Bandcamp boom — but listening to the shouted vocals and dense riffing, one is reminded as well of the bluesy undertones of Egypt and Wo Fat as well.

The songs offer straight-ahead pummel and should make for a heavy platter, all the better since it seems Cursed Tongue has plans for deluxe editions, probably multiple colors, and so on. Preorders start in November for the December release, and you can stream Out of the Shallow in its entirety now on the player at the bottom of this post. Because it’s the future and that’s how shit works here.

Dig and enjoy:

earth-witch-out-of-the-shallow

EARTH WITCH SIGN TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS

Earth Witch has signed to Cursed Tongue Records for a release of their highly appraised debut album ‘Out Of The Shallow’ coming late 2017. The label is extremely happy to have inked a deal with this hard hitting ensemble and look forward to give OOTS the full red carpet vinyl treatment. Expect several different vinyl editions, TP’s, posters, patches, etc. Already garnering quite a following and appraisal from around the scene amongst fellow musicians, fans and reviewers alike plus also securing them a place on the Doom Charts for March 2017 there is no questioning the band’s merits.

“It’s a real honor to get to work with such talented and focused people as the guys behind Earth Witch and we look forward to pay the much needed respect and acknowledgement to this high-octane stoner rock gold nugget, says Niels Bartholdy of Cursed Tongue Records.

Following up their doom laden 2013 Earthbound EP, Earth Witch unveils their debut longplayer, Out of the Shallow, that shows the trio in their truest rock n’ roll meets doom form. After founding members Ivan Catron (Guitar/Vocals) and Nathan Landolt (Drums) parted ways with their first bassist, they were joined by Derrin Coad (Bass/Vocals) for a Black Sabbath cover set on Halloween. The underlying doom sound remained a vital driving force in the writing, however the band was able to speed things up and get more technical with the new lineup.

Out of the Shallow pays tribute to Iommi style guitar solos and the driving force of rock bands like Red Fang, The Sword, and Kadavar. The 42 minute album was written over the course of two years and tracked in late 2015 with Brandon Carnes in Springfield, IL. From the fast paced high energy opening track until the last chords fade out, Earth Witch keeps the listener headbanging throughout. Album art by David Paul Seymour, with logo and additional layout by Mike Tirehaus. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Brandon Carnes (Looming) in Springfield, IL at Southtown Studios, Out Of the Shallow was released digitally on Bandcamp as well as on CD and tape in March 2017.

Earth Witch – ‘Out Of The Shallow’ will be Cursed Tongue Records fifth release in just little more than a year. Pre-orders will go online Friday, November 3rd with an expected official release date early December just in right time for the Christmas shopping. So looks like the present hunt is an easy solve this year.

Earth Witch live:
Oct 21 Vaudeville Mews Des Moines, IA
Oct 25 The Swan Dive Austin, TX
Oct 26 Saturn Bar New Orleans, LA

Earth Witch is:
Ivan Catron – Guitars, Vocals
Derrin Coad – Bass, Vocals
Nathan Landolt – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/earthwitch420
https://www.instagram.com/earthwitchdoom
https://earthwitch.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords/
https://www.instagram.com/cursedtongue
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

Earth Witch, Out of the Shallow (2017)

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Review & Track Premiere: I Klatus, Nagual Sun

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

i-klatus-nagual-sun

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘The Alivist’ from I Klatus’ new album, Nagual Sun, out Oct. 13.]

There are any number of stylistic impressions one might get throughout the 57 minutes of Nagual Sun, the fourth long-player from Chicago’s I Klatus (also written as I, Klatus). Most of them are thoroughly fucked. It is a potent brew of atmospheric sludge extremity the four-piece bring to their material for their first outing since 2013’s Kether (discussed here), and while one might hear shades of YOB or Zoroaster in opener “Beneath the Waves” or the later lumbering of “Jaws of the Shark,” there are deathly undertones through which I Klatus distinguish themselves and turn any colorful psychedelia into shades of brown and gray, their wash of noise by texturist Robert Bauwens part more of an assault than a landscape, despite being hypnotic in its own, bleak manner.

Led by guitarist/vocalist Tom Denney — also a noted illustrator/graphic designer — I Klatus dealt their last time out with the suicide of former bassist Tariq Ali, but here with drummer Chris Wozniak (also Lair of the Minotaur and Earthen Grave, among others) and bassist/clean-vocalist/producer John E. Bomher, Jr. (Yakuza), they might as well be mourning the passing of society as a whole with their postmodern screwall that pervades tracks like the blackened-leaning-but-still-early-Crowbar-catchy “Sorcerer’s Gaze” (video posted here) or the terrifyingly rolling “The Alivist,” which is the longest inclusion at 9:43 and plunges to depths all its own while also leaving space for stoner churn and post-High on Fire gallop. Though based in the Windy City, their sound has roots aesthetically in the same strikingly Midwestern, pill-popping Rust Belt disaffection that gave the world the likes of Fistula, Ultralord, Morbid Wizard and Sollubi, but none of those acts seem to be chasing or conjuring the same kinds of demons as I Klatus are and do on Nagual Sun, and so while aspects may be familiar, the ultimate downward course of the album belongs to Denney and company alone.

And make no mistake, they own it. From the feedback coating in which the launch of “Beneath the Waves” arrives to the deceptively intricate layering in the vocals and the vaguest touch of melody — which is, it’s worth noting outright, no less out of place here — that pervades closer “Final Communion,” I Klatus establish themselves as a litmus for how far sludge can be pushed in substance before it simply oozes down into its component pieces. To wit, even as Nagual Sun seems to revel in defeat after defeat, there’s something defiant about a song like “Moment of Devastation,” which explodes in death metal growls over spacious cosmic doom and shifts with surprising ease back and forth between that and almost minimalist stretches of nonetheless-tense drift. With its robot-effects clean vocals, blasts and so on, “Beneath the Waves” sets up a pretty broad context for the rest of the album to take place within, so as I Klatus bring what seems like experimental fruit to bear in “Serpent Cults,” “Sorcerer’s Gaze” and “Moment of Devastation,” they’ve allowed themselves the room to explore as they will.

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Part of that is a palpable sense of not giving a shit about sticking to genre, from which the songs also benefit, but while Nagual Sun willfully borders on unmanageably long, there are enough shifts throughout to hold the listener’s attention or at very least give them enough of a consciousness-pummeling to render them immobile for the duration. But it is a slog, and clearly intended to be one as “The Alivist,” “Jaws of the Shark” and “Final Communion” — even with the two-minute “Father John Thomas (The Penitent)” set as a penultimate interlude — all top eight minutes long and give a sense that as it plods through, the drudgery of I Klatus‘ work only becomes more infused with the stench of death. This is, again, how the record casts its accomplishment. The feeling of something rotting in the midsection of “Sorcerer’s Gaze” or the sudden rise of swirling wah in “The Alivist” circa the five-minute mark — these are purposefully arranged elements used to convey an atmosphere. There’s nothing haphazard about Nagual Sun; nothing that isn’t where and what the band wants it to be.

So even as its vibe is down almost in the exclusive, Nagual Sun succeeds by building the world in which “Jaws of the Shark” and “Final Communion” take place. It is about the realization of these grim, rueful ideas, rather than about offering their audience a lifeline. That’s not to say I Klatus don’t cast a broad set in terms of sound, but as Celtic Frost once did to thrash metal and as acts like Ramesses did to doom, they seem to push into terrain that’s just that extra bit filthy, just that extra bit darker, more extreme in its perspective. The plunder in “Jaws of the Shark?” Terrifying. The noise that coats the apex of “Final Communion?” It absconds into the far-out until it seems to finally pull itself apart and end the record more or less through dissipation — as fitting a last turn as one could ask for a release the intensity of which has been so obliterating, even in its quietest, most brooding stretches.

Each track on Nagual Sun adds something to the whole of the album’s impression, and while I Klatus set those who would engage with their work up for a grueling journey, there’s little question their fourth LP is meant to be taken in its entirety. Because of the growling, the bitter severity in some of its tones and the sheer force in its rawness, it will be too much for some, and that’s fine. Music like this isn’t meant to be universal. Rather, it’s a personal expression of time, place and thought, and I Klatus carve out a nuanced space for themselves amid the bludgeoning and the drear that ensues, making their doom not necessarily miserable in the emotion it conveys à la European-style drama-staging (or, if we want to keep it to Chicago, the also-deathly Novembers Doom), but a tangible result of that downtroddenness itself. Like Marcel Duchamp’s urinal a century ago, Nagual Sun challenges our conceptions of form and structure, asks what is and what can be art in a world so empty, and offers its answers in the fact of its existence as the result of a creative process and the brutality taking place within its scope.

I Klatus, “Sorcerer’s Gaze” official video

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I Klatus Post “Sorcerer’s Gaze” Video; Nagual Sun out Oct. 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I think maybe more than ever it might be fair to think of Chicago’s I Klatus as a North American answer to the dug-in sludge cultism of UK outfits Ramesses and/or 11Paranoias. From the extremity they show on their new album, Nagual Sun, in the blackened genre-spanning reaches of “Sorcerer’s Gaze,” for which you can see a new video below, to the dirt-caked early-Crowbarism of a song like “Serpent Cults,” I Klatus seem to have found a similar wavelength to the UK troupe. Neither band pokes their head up all that often — I Klatus‘ last outing was 2013’s Kether (discussed here) — but you can rest assured that when they do, there’s some seriously disaffected, post-industrial-collapse doom about to play out that, apart perhaps from itself, shares its sonic space with just about nobody.

My hope is to have more on this one before Oct. 13 gets here, but we’ll see how that goes. Either way, keep an eye out for it if you’re looking for a litmus test for how much punishment you can take:

i klatus nagual sun

Chicago Doom/Sludge Eclectics I KLATUS to Release ‘Nagual Sun’ on October 13

Chicago Doom/Sludge eclectics I KLATUS will release Nagual Sun October 13 on digital and analog (cassette) formats. The highly anticipated follow-up to 2012’s Kether is the band’s third full-length album (and fifth release overall). An official video for album track “Sorcerer’s Gaze” is available at this location.

The overall sound of Nagual Sun maintains the gritty roots for which I KLATUS is known, while at the same time launches the group into new and more fully fleshed-out dimensions of weirdness. Tom Denney is the primary soothsayer behind I KLATUS. Denney, whose background is steeped in the visual arts, has provided artwork and monsters for a laundry list of signed metal acts in the community (KYLESA, BLACK COBRA, SAMOTHRACE, CANNIBAL CORPSE, CEPHALIC CARNAGE and RWAKE just to name a few). His guitar squalls hard against the shores of this stoner metal effort, but also manages to rise above the storm in melodic hymns. Denney trades growling vocals with bass player, John E. Bomher, Jr. (BURY THE MACHINES, YAKUZA), who keeps things grinding nicely, while also providing some sweeter tones when they let songs open up and sweep across more ethereal planes.

Bomher doubles as the band’s producer with his extensive experience in the studio; his work on the album sets this release head and shoulders above their previous efforts in terms of production quality. The drums are championed by Chris Wozniak (LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR, EARTHEN GRAVE, SERPENT CROWN) who metes out doom in guttural timing. Wozniak just pounds and pounds, hitting that sonic-pocket, which gives the stoner/doom genre its feeling of lift and expansiveness. Some noises and textures by former member, Robert Bauwens, are also tucked into the nooks and crannies of these tracks. Last by not least, special thanks goes to author Ryan Sean O’Reilly for his contributions to the press release.

Track Listing:

Side A
Beneath the Waves
Serpent Cults
Sorcerer’s Gaze
Moment of Devastation

Side B
The Alivist
Jaws of the Shark
Father John Thomas (The Penitent)
Final Communion

https://iklatus.bandcamp.com/releases
www.facebook.com/iklatus
www.twitter.com/i_klatus
www.instagram.com/iklatus

I Klatus, “Sorcerer’s Gaze” official video

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Faces of the Bog to Release Ego Death LP Sept. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

faces of the bog

Whether it’s dug-in intensity or spacious psych landscape-building Faces of the Bog‘s debut album, Ego Death, well earns its claim toward sonic diversity. The Sanford Parker-produced seven-tracker originally came out at the end of last year and is set for a vinyl release through DHU Records on Sept. 22. You can stream the thing in its entirety at the bottom of this post and there’s copious info to go on — including live dates with Attalla, Castle, Disenchanter and Pale Horseman for you Midwestern types — so I’ll keep it short in terms of the descriptive end, but as I make my way through there’s a persistent commitment to ambience that seems to tie the record together and it’s one that, having missed out on the first time around, I hope to get to know better.

From the PR wire:

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FACES OF THE BOG: Chicagoland’s psychedelic sludge masters to officially release debut album Ego Death on DHU Records

Ego Death by Faces of the Bog is released on 22nd September 2017

Initially conceived in a dingy rehearsal space in Humboldt Park during the fall of 2011, Faces of the Bog have fast become one of the underground’s most celebrated secrets following the self-release of their debut album Ego Death late last year.

For the Chicagoland quartet, their own unique interpretation of sludge has never run neatly alongside preconceived notions of how this kind of music should be played. Choosing to ignore convention and instead power brutal riffs headfirst into psychedelically heightened grooves, relying on atmosphere and mood to create melodic textures they are a band constantly pushing the envelope.

Produced and engineered by the band and Sanford Parker (Voivod, Yob, Wreckmeister Harmonies, Bloodiest) at Electrical Audio and Decade Music Studios, Ego Death hit pretty damn hard for an “independently put-out” album.

“It’s truly amazing these days when an underground band from a US city like Chicago can release an album completely on their own,” explains guitarist/vocalist Trey Wedgeworth. “We’ve been amazed and humbled by the feedback we’ve received all over the world. Fans from places like Germany, Norway, Portugal, Brazil, Australia, and Russia have all reached out to us to give their kind words to what we’re doing.”

It was while playing a handful of shows last year with pacific north-westerners Mother Crone that the band were introduced (in a roundabout way) to the good work of Netherland-based record label, DHU Records.

“Mother Crone ran into some transportation issues while out on tour and we were fortunate enough to be able to help some good dudes in need,” says Wedgeworth. “They more than repaid the favour by putting us in touch with Robert Black at DHU Records. DHU is a DIY label that releases limited edition vinyl packages for some of the heaviest bands in underground music today, so we quickly forged a great relationship and are completely ecstatic that he’s now rereleasing Ego Death on vinyl.”

Pre-order – http://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Track Listing:
1. Precipice
2. Drifter in The Abyss
3. Slow Burn
4. The Serpent and The Dagger
5. Ego Death
6. The Weaver
7. Blue Lotus

Live:
5th Aug – Cold Shot – Appleton, Wisconsin (w. Atalla and Black Road)
11th Aug – Reggies – Chicago, Illinois (w. Castle)
4th Oct – Liars Club – Chicago, Illinois (w. Disenchanter and Swamp Ritual)
2nd Sept – Beard Metal Fest – Custer Park, Illinois (w. Pale Horseman, Starless and DeepSpacePilots)

Faces of the Bog:
Paul Bradfield – Bass
Danny Garcia – Drums/Percussion
Mark Stephen Gizewski – Guitars/Vocals
Trey Wedgeworth – Guitars/ Vocals

Personnel:
Sanford Parker – Synth/FX (tracks 1,4,5, & 7)
Artwork – Tony Midi (www.tonymidi.com)
Photography – Cassandra Gordon, GoldilocksCG
Layout – Mark Stephen Gizewski
Mastered – Collin Jordan

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https://facesofthebog.bandcamp.com/
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Faces of the Bog, Ego Death (2017)

Faces of the Bog, The Making of Ego Death

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Review & Track Premiere: The Judge, Tell it to the Judge

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the-judge-tell-it-to-the-judge

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Strange Ways’ by The Judge. Tell it to the Judge is out Aug. 4 on Ripple Music.]

Illinois heavy rock traditionalists The Judge made their first offering through Ripple Music last year with a reissue of their initially-self-released late-2014 self-titled debut. That release was initially positioned as an EP, so one might think of Tell it to the Judge as the Granite City four-piece’s proper label debut, or their first for Ripple anyhow, but either way, what matters is the band has culled together a warm collection of nine tracks drawing influences from sources classic and modern in the spirit of heavy ’10s boogie. Tell it to the Judge is a little long at just under 45 minutes for something of its style — one tends to think of boogie rock LPs in the range of 36 to 38 minutes, and that can make a difference — but the still-young lineup of standalone vocalist Tyler Swope, guitarist Dylan Jarrett, bassist Kevin Jones and drummer Evan Anderson use that time to position themselves within a burgeoning wave of next-generation American heavy boogie.

Thinking of output from groups like Slow Season, labelmates Salem’s Bend and countless others in the expansive post-Radio Moscow/Earthless West Coast sphere, or fellow Midwesterners like the frenetically progressive Cloud Catcher and the biker-grooving Bison Machine — for either of whom The Judge‘s measured pace would make an excellent tour pairing — one finds Tell it to the Judge straightforward in its intent and less geared toward weirdo culture certainly than those freaking out along the Pacific. However, in so being, they’re putting focus on craft rather than style in a way that, particularly with Swope‘s easy melodic execution of highlight choruses like those of “Strange Ways” and “Go on Home,” as well as the verses of the penultimate “Darkest Daze,” brings to mind the earlier work of Nashville’s Dirty Streets in culling modern vibes from the likes of Blue CheerLed Zeppelin and maybe even a bit of Dio-era Sabbath (at least as regards the warning-you-against-evil-ladies perspective of “Go on Home”; see “Walk Away” for reference) thrown in for good measure.

They’re clearly still in the process of sorting out the various elements that will ultimately solidify as their own sound, but the youthful excitement they bring to side A cuts like opener “Empty Halls,” “From the Mountain” and “Changing World” gives them an edge in terms of their songwriting, as do the righteous solos of Jarrett and the blue-eyed soul of Swope, whose verses in the 6:51 centerpiece “Islands” are no less essential to conveying the ’70s-meets-now vibe than the punctuation of Anderson‘s snare — the drums sound fantastic throughout; a boon to the organic feel of the recording overall along with Jones‘ bass. The latter is of particular note in “Islands” and the also-extended “High Flyin’,” shining through in the more languid roll from beneath Jarrett‘s leads.

the judge

It’s a proven formula, and one would be remiss to leave out the clear affect European acts like Graveyard and Kadavar have had on this movement as a whole — one could argue even the title Tell it to the Judge is modeled on something like Abra Kadavar, though that German trio were hardly the first to put the name of their band in the name of their second record — but the fluidity The Judge bring to these tracks, their ease in moving between varied tempos and undercurrent of developing chemistry on the whole lend a sense of personality to the material from which it very much benefits.

Again, they’re growing, and searching out their place within the genre aesthetic, but hearing that in the upbeat stomp of “From the Mountain,” the impressively-controlled thrust of “Changing World” and the shuffling finale “Parade of Sin,” which returns from the gone-further-out blues ranging of “High Flyin'” to earthier ground, only makes Tell it to the Judge a more engaging listen. They’re inviting their audience to be a direct witness to their evolution, already in progress. And with the initial sweep of “Empty Halls,” the flow in unfolding “Islands” and the sincerely unpretentious nod of “Go on Home” — which makes up for in catchiness what its woman-done-me-wrong lyric lacks in being politically correct — they make it a simple invitation to accept.

Like many of their up-and-coming cohorts, The Judge showcase potential over staid or studied realization, but there’s already stylistic nuance to be heard in shifting tones throughout “Darkest Daze”‘s light psych-blues flourish and the swing of “Strange Ways,” and that stands as one of the most encouraging factors when one considers Tell it to the Judge‘s place in the modern sphere. They have and will continue to have their work cut out for them in cutting out a niche for their work, but while Anderson and Jarrett trace The Judge‘s founding back to 2009/2010, they still come across in these tracks like a new band, and that is something they should embrace for the vitality it implies in their delivery, which make no mistake, is very much there. Whether that will be what defines their course as a group remains to be seen, and as a result, Tell it to the Judge is all the more fun as a front-to-back classic-minded listening experience.

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Ripple Music website

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Quarterly Review: Novembers Doom, Abrams, The Grand Astoria, Hosoi Bros, Codeia, Ealdor Bealu, Stone Lotus, Green Yeti, Seer, Bretus

Posted in Reviews on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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So, after kvetching and hemming and hawing and all that other stuff that basically means ‘fretting and trying to shuffle a schedule around’ for the last several days, I think I’ve now found a way to add a sixth day to this Quarterly Review. Looking at all the records that still need to be covered even after doing 50, I don’t really see any other way to go. I could try to do more The Obelisk Radio adds to fit things in, but I don’t want to over-tax that new server, so yeah, I’m waiting at the moment to hear back on whether or not I can move a premiere from Monday to Tuesday to make room. Fingers crossed. I’ve already got the albums picked out that would be covered and should know by tomorrow if it’s going to happen.

Plenty to do in the meantime, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Novembers Doom, Hamartia

novembers-doom-hamartia

Look. Let’s be honest here. More than 20 years and 10 records in, one knows at least on a superficial level what to expect from Chicago’s Novembers Doom. Since their first album arrived in 1995, they’ve played to one side or the other between the spectrum of death-doom, and their work legitimately broke ground in the style for a US band and in general. After a push over their last couple albums including 2014’s Bled White (review here) into more deathly fare, Hamartia (on The End Records) brings 10 tracks and 58 minutes of the melancholy dramas – special hello to the piano/acoustic-led title-track – and gut-wrenching, crushingly emotive miseries – special hello to “Waves in the Red Cloth” and “Ghost” – that have defined them. One doesn’t expect a radical departure from them at this point and they don’t deliver one even as they turn to another side of their overarching aesthetic, but whether it’s the still-propulsive death gallop of “Apostasy” or the lush nine-minute finale “Borderline,” Novembers Doom reinforce their position as absolute masters of the style and give their longtime fans another collection of vital woes in which to revel.

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The End Records website

 

Abrams, Morning

abrams morning

Not a hair out of place in the execution of Morning, the Sailor Records second long-player from Denver three-piece Abrams (interview here). That has its ups and downs, naturally, but is suited to the band’s take on modern progressive heavy rock à la newer Mastodon and Baroness, and with production from Andy Patterson (of SubRosa) and Dave Otero (Khemmis, Cephalic Carnage, etc.), the crisp feel is both purposeful and well earned. Their 2015 debut, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), dealt with a similar emotional landscape, but bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen, guitarist/vocalist Zachary Amster and drummer Geoffrey Cotton are tighter and more aggressive here on songs like opener “Worlds Away” (video posted here), “At the End,” “Rivers,” “Can’t Sleep” and “Burned” (video posted here), and “Mourning,” “In this Mask” and closer “Morning” balance in terms of tempo and overall atmosphere, making Morning more than just a collection of master-blasters and giving it a full album’s flow and depth. Like I said, not a hair out of place. Structure, performance, delivery, theme. Abrams have it all precisely where they want it.

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The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny

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Dubbed an EP but running 29 minutes and boasting eight tracks, The Grand Astoria’s The Fuzz of Destiny is something of a conceptual release, with the St. Petersburg, Russia-based outfit paying homage to the effect itself. Each song uses a different kind of fuzz pedal, and as the ever-nuanced, progressive outfit make their way through the blown-out pastoralism of opener “Sunflower Queen” and into the nod of “Pocket Guru,” the organ-inclusive bursting fury of “Glass Walls” and the slower and more consuming title-track itself, which directly precedes closer “Eight Years Anniversary Riff” – yup, it’s a riff alright – they’re able to evoke a surprising amount of variety in terms of mood. That’s a credit to The Grand Astoria as songwriters perhaps even more than the differences in tone from song to song here – they’ve certainly shown over their tenure a will to embrace a diverse approach – but in giving tribute to fuzz, The Fuzz of Destiny successfully conveys some of the range a single idea can be used to conjure.

The Grand Astoria on Thee Facebooks

The Grand Astoria on Bandcamp

 

Hosoi Bros., Abuse Your Allusion III

hosoi-bros-abuse-your-allusion-iii

Oh, they’re up to it again, those Hosoi Bros. Their 2016 full-length, Abuse Your Allusion III, from its Guns ‘n’ Roses title reference through the Motörhead riffing of “Saint Tightus” through the stoner punk of “Topless Gnome” and the chugging scorch of the penultimate “Bitches are Nigh” offer primo charm and high-order shenanigans amid the most professional-sounding release of their career. Across a quick 10 tracks and 36 minutes, Hosoi Bros. readily place themselves across the metal/punk divide, and while there’s plenty of nonsense to be had from opener “Mortician” onward through “Lights Out” (video premiere here) and the later swagger of “Unholy Hand Grenade,” the band have never sounded more cohesive in their approach than they do on Abuse Your Allusion III, and the clean production only seems to highlight the songwriting at work underneath all the zany happenings across the record’s span, thereby doing them and the band alike a service as they make a convincing argument to their audience: Have fun. Live a little. It won’t hurt that much.

Hosoi Bros on Thee Facebooks

Hosoi Bros. on Bandcamp

 

Codeia, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared

codeia-dont-be-afraid-she-whispered-and-disappeared

There’s actually very little that gets “Lost in Translation” in the thusly-titled 22-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) of German post-metallers Codeia’s cumbersomely-named Backbite Records debut album, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared. With heavy post-rock textures and an overarching sense of cerebral progressivism to its wash underscored by swells of low-end distortion, the three-piece of guitarist/backing vocalist Markus L., bassist/vocalist Denis S. and drummer Timo L. bring to bear patience out of the peak-era Isis or Cult of Luna sphere, sudden volume shifts, pervasive ambience, flourish of extremity and all. Nine-minute centerpiece “Shaping Stone” has its flash of aggression early before shifting into hypnotic and repetitive groove and subsequent blastbeaten furies, and 16-minute closer “Facing Extinction” caps the three-song/48-minute offering with nodding Russian Circles-style chug topped with growls that mask the layer of melodic drone filling out the mix beneath. They’re on familiar stylistic ground, but the breadth, depth and complexity Codeia bring to their extended structures are immersive all the same.

Codeia on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory website

 

Ealdor Bealu, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain

ealdor-bealu-dark-water-at-the-foot-of-the-mountain

“Water Cycle,” the 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of Ealdor Bealu’s debut full-length, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain, introduces a meditative feel and a breadth of sound that helps to define everything that follows. The ostensible side B leadoff of the self-release, “This too Shall Endure” (11:04), offers no less depth of atmosphere, and the graceful psychedelic expanses of the penultimate “Behind the Veil” continue to add to the overall scope with interplay of tempo variety and acoustic and electric guitar, but even earlier, shorter cuts like the wistful indie rocker “Deep Dark Below” and the linear-building “Behold the Sunrise” have an underlying progressivism that ties them to the longer form material, and likewise the particularly exploratory feeling “Ebb and Flow,” which though it’s the shortest cut at just over five minutes resonates as a standout jam ahead of “Behind the Veil” and subtly proggy seven-minute closer “Time Traveler.” The Boise-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist/spearhead Carson Russell, guitarist Travis Abbott (also The Western Mystics), bassist/vocalist Rylie Collingwood and drummer/percussionist/saxophonist Alex Wargo bring the 56-minute offering to bear with marked patience and impress in the complexity of their arrangements and the identifiable human core that lies beneath them.

Ealdor Bealu on Thee Facebooks

Ealdor Bealu on Bandcamp

 

Stone Lotus, Comastone

I can take spicier foods than I ever could before.

One might consider the title of “Mountain of Filth,” the second cut on Stone Lotus’ debut album, Comastone, a mission statement for the Southwestern Australian trio’s vicious ‘n’ viscous brand of rolling, tonal-molasses sludge. Yeah, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dave Baker, bassist Samuel Noire and drummer Reece Fleming bring ambience to the interlude “Aum,” the slower loud/quiet shifts in “Anthropocene” and the subsequent “Umbra” that leads into the creepy launch of the title-track – in fact, quiet starts are something of a theme throughout Comastone; even the thudding toms that begin opener “Swamp Coven” pale in comparison to the volume swell of massive distortion that follows closely behind – but it’s the rhythmic lumber and the harsh vocals from Baker that define their course through the darker recesses of sludged-out misanthropy. No complaints there, especially on a first long-player, but Stone Lotus are right to keep in mind the flourish of atmosphere their material offers, and one hopes that develops parallel to all the crushing weight of their mountainous approach.

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Stone Lotus on Bandcamp

 

Green Yeti, Desert Show

I'm not sure if that's an effect of dropping carbs or how it would be, but it's strange.

Even before it announces its heft, Green Yeti’s Desert Show casts forth its spaciousness. The second offering from the Athens-based trio in as many years dogwhistles heavy riffing intent even unto its David Paul Seymour album cover, but the five track rollout from guitarist/vocalist Michael Andresakis, bassist/producer Danis Avramidis and drummer Giannis Koutroumpis, as it shifts from the opening salvo of “Black Planets (Part 1)” and “Black Planets (Part 2)” into the Spanish-language centerpiece “Rojo” (direct homage perhaps to Los Natas? if so, effectively done) and into the broader-ranging “Bad Sleep (Part 1)” and 15-minute closer “Bad Sleep (Part 2)” builds just as much on its atmosphere as on its newer-school stoner rock groove and fuzz riffing. It is a 41-minute span that, without question, speaks to the heavy rock converted and plays to genre, but even taken next to the band’s 2016 debut, The Yeti has Landed, Desert Show demonstrates clear growth in writing and style, and stands as further proof of the emergence of Greece as a major contributor to the sphere of Europe’s heavy underground. Something special is happening in and outside of Athens. Green Yeti arrive at the perfect time to be a part of it.

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Green Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Seer, Victims

seer victims

Let’s just assume that Seer won’t be asked to play at Dorney Park anytime soon. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, three-piece dig into largesse-minded instrumental riffing someplace between doom and sludge and do so on raw, formative fashion on the two-song Victims EP, which features the tracks “Victims… Aren’t We All?” and “Swollen Pit,” which is a redux from their 2015 debut short release, Vaped Remains. Some touch of Electric Wizard-style wah in Rybo’s guitar stands out in the second half of the opener, and the closer effectively moves from its initial crawl into post-Sleep stonerized idolatry, but the point of Victims isn’t nearly as much about scope as it is about Rybo, bassist Kelsi and drummer Yvonne setting forth on a stomping path of groove and riff worship, rumbling sans pretense loud enough to crack the I-78 corridor and offering the clever equalizer recommendation to put the bass, treble and mids all at six. Think about it for a second. Not too long though.

Seer on Thee Facebooks

Seer on Bandcamp

 

Bretus, From the Twilight Zone

bretus-from-the-twilight-zone

Doom! Horror! Riffs! Though it starts out with quiet acoustics and unfolds in echoing weirdness, Bretus’ new album, …From the Twilight Zone, more or less shouts these things from the proverbial cathedral rafters throughout its seven tracks. The Catanzaro, Italy, foursome weren’t shy about bringing an air of screamy sludge to their 2015 sophomore outing, The Shadow over Innsmouth (discussed here), but …From the Twilight Zone shifts more toward a Reverend Bizarre trad doom loyalism that suits the Endless Winter release remarkably well. Those acoustics pop up again in expanded-breadth centerpiece/highlight “Danza Macabra” and closer “Lizard Woman,” and thereby provide something of a narrative thread to the offering as a whole, but on the level of doom-for-doomers, there’s very little about the aesthetic that Bretus leave wanting throughout, whether it’s the faster-chug into drifting fluidity of “The Murder” or the nodding stomp of “In the Vault” (demo posted here) and crypto-NWOBHM flourish of “Old Dark House” (video posted here). Not trying to remake doom in their own image, but conjuring an eerie and engaging take in conversation with the masters of the form.

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Endless Winter Records

 

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