The Judge to Release Tell it to the Judge Aug. 8; New Song Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the judge

Midwestern heavy rockers The Judge issued their self-titled debut last year as their first offering through Ripple Music, and next month, they follow it up with Tell it to the Judge. Set for a release Aug. 8 with charm-laden stoner-toon cover art of the band in front of, yes, a judge, the album reveals its first public audio with the track “Empty Halls,” which you can stream now at the bottom of this post. It’s the opening cut from the record, so fitting enough to be the first impression — it would be anyway, in other words — and no doubt there will be more to come over the next month as the band and label gear up for its proper arrival.

The PR wire brought album info and more:

the judge tell it to the judge

THE JUDGE to release new album on Ripple Music

Tell It To The Judge by The Judge is released on 8th August 2017 on Ripple Music

Originally formed in 2010 by long-time friends Dylan Jarrett and Evan Anderson, The Judge is a hard rock quartet of impeccable vintage, formed in the fittingly named stronghold of Granite City, Illinois.

After the band’s initial incarnation as Unfallen – with Jarrett on guitar and Anderson on drums – the duo quickly became a trio for a period, touring music venues across the St. Louis area with new member Kevin Jones taking up bass and vocal duties. Increasingly influenced by the Britannic rock majesty of groups such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and with it that unshakeable ‘band of brothers’ mentality’, in 2013 the trio finally discovered the missing piece of a puzzle with the addition of their very own enigmatic front man, Tyler Swope.

As a criminally young quartet happily graduating from the riffs of old, Jarrett and Anderson started to uncover a new wave of hard rock acts occupying radio waves and record store shelves. Music by the likes of Graveyard and Kadavar helped inspire The Judge to develop their own special breed of slow burning psychedelia and sonic stew of traditional classic rock’n’roll and heavy backroom blues, the results of which can be heard on their brand-new studio album Tell It To The Judge, which follows on from the release of last year’s acclaimed self-titled debut and first for Ripple Music.

Tell It To The Judge by The Judge is released on 8th August 2017 on Ripple Music.

Track Listing:
1. Empty Halls
2. From the Mountain
3. Strange Ways
4. Changing World
5. Islands
6. Go On Home
7. High Flyin’
8. Darkest Daze
9. Parade of Sin

The Judge:
Dylan Jarrett – Guitar
Evan Anderson – Drums
Kevin Jones – Bass
Tyler Swope – Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/thejudgeband/
https://thejudge.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/

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Review & Full Stream: Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bible of the devil still on top

[Click play above to stream the new split single from Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore. Copies are available now from the bands.]

“Got no time to lose” is one of the lines tossed out in the call and response hook to Bible of the Devil‘s “Still on Top,” which is their contribution to a new split 7″ single with Albuquerque’s Leeches of Lore. It might be true in the case of both bands, but for the Chicago outfit it seems especially so. After years of road-dogging, the antic-prone two-guitar four-piece have played it decidedly lower key since the release of their most recent album, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), via Cruz del Sur in 2012. They’ve done periodic tours in the Midwest and hit local fests like Alehorn of Power, but where the aughts and early ’10s found them belting out album after album, tour after tour, and a succession of splits with the likes of ValkyrieSlough Feg and Winterhawk, the half-decade since the last full-length has been comparatively quiet.

One single, of course, isn’t going to make up for lost time, but “Still on Top” comes across very much as a song with a message, taking a workingman’s rocker perspective and assuring both the listener and the band that yes, they’ve still got it. Interestingly, it comes accompanied by Leeches of Lore‘s “Mountain of Mom,” which may or may not be the final recorded output from a group who recently and willingly gave that same “it” up. Following their to-date pinnacle work in 2015’s Toshi Kasai-produced Motel of Infinity (review here), the avant rockers led by guitarist/vocalist Steve Hammond played what was to be their last shows in May 2017, making this, at least technically, a posthumous offering. For what it’s worth, they hardly sound dead at all.

So in terms of communication, what Bible of the Devil and Leeches of Lore present in “Still on Top” and “Mountain of Mom” is — at least potentially — hello and a goodbye. One hesitates to speculate on the future of either group, particularly since the latter have said they’re done and since it’s been so long since the former had any other output, but that’s how it looks on the surface, and for a release that runs neatly under the nine-minute mark and comprises just two tracks, it’s a pretty efficient check-in. Accordingly, both groups play solidly to their strengths.

For Bible of the Devil, that means a classic-sounding blend of rock and metal, with guitar work by Nathan Perry (also vocals) and Chris Grubbs in the spirit of the NWOBHM as most informed by Thin Lizzy-style good times, and an upbeat hook propelled by the rhythm section of drummer Greg Spalding and bassist/vocalist Darren Amaya. On the basic level of its approach, it could hardly be more their own if it was about “the night,” but while the method and structure may be familiar, a rawer production than one necessarily might expect from Bible of the Devil after For the Love of Thugs and Fools or the preceding 2008 triumph, Freedom Metal, gives a live feel to the proceedings such that there’s almost a garage sensibility to the initial chug and the verse, before the background vocals or harmonized guitar lead take hold.

This might make “Still on Top” an even more fitting complement to “Mountain of Mom,” as Leeches of Lore have always been (or “always were,” depending on the tense in which one wants to categorize them) a rawer band, even under the guidance of Kasai, taking cues from noise rock, punk, country, extreme metal and the great anti-genre beyond where few dare to tread. Their final lineup consisted of HammondKris KerbyNoah Wolters and Andy Lutz, but whether or not that’s who appears on the single I don’t actually know. In any case, like Bible of the Devil before them, Leeches of Lore are very much at home in the 4:09 “Mountain of Mom,” working quickly even with the title to make the listener ill-at-ease as only good art can in terms of just what the hell they’re talking about and whether or not it actually has anything to do with the song itself.

That’s a question that remains as Hammond moves vocally between cleaner singing, falsetto, and harsher shouts and the band around him between circuitous lumbering marked out by its transitional drum fills and sustained pulls of guitar and a last-minute delve into lead guitar and organ that comes close enough to punk rock cabaret to recall some of Leeches of Lore‘s more offbeat aesthetic aspects, even if the basic structure it keeps to is relatively straightforward. If indeed it is their final output — again, one never says never in rock and roll — it’s a suitable weirdo-metal farewell with early screams leading to talk of the end of the world and traffic jams and so on. One might call it “the usual,” but in the grander scheme, there’s hardly anything usual about it, and of course that’s a big part of the fun.

Like much of Leeches of Lore‘s work during their time together, “Mountain of Mom” benefits from longer-term digestion over multiple listens, but those repeat visits are well-enough earned by the quickened feel and the front-to-back linear transition the band undergoes. As was the case throughout their tenure, their reach remains underrated and underappreciated, and despite a more immediate take, the same could easily be said of Bible of the Devil, the quality of whose work has always made them something of a well-kept secret within the American Midwest. If there’s anything tying the two bands together, it’s probably that most of all, but neither should one discount the fact that throughout their careers — one maybe restarting, the other maybe over — neither of them has been willing to compromise who they are at their root or give up exploring outward from their sonic foundation. Their split may be short, but there’s no lack of substance whatsoever.

Bible of the Devil on Thee Facebooks

Bible of the Devil on Bandcamp

Bible of the Devil website

Leeches of Lore on Thee Facebooks

Leeches of Lore on Bandcamp

Leeches of Lore website

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Scorched Tundra VIII Announces Lineup with Acid King, Oxbow, The Atomic Bitchwax and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

In all places and in all things, I remain a sucker for a good bill. I’ll be elsewhere this same weekend, as The Obelisk is presenting the Emerald Haze festival in Dublin, Ireland (info here), and I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited over for that, but a good bill is a good bill, and if you happen to be in Chicago or can head that way, Scorched Tundra VIII has one to offer, with Acid King, The Atomic Bitchwax and Oxbow positioned as headliners across three nights from Sept. 1-3 at The Empty Bottle.

Those names are enough to grab attention, to be sure, but toss in the post-metallic breadth of Minsk, perpetual sludge scumbags FistulaPelican offshoot RLYR (only fair since it’s Chicago after all), and others, and yeah, it looks like a damn fine way to spend a couple of nights, provided your calendar doesn’t conflict.

Tickets are available now and you’ll find those links and more info below, courtesy of the fest:

scorched-tundra-viii-poster

ACID KING, OXBOW, THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX, FISTULA, MINSK, BEHOLD! THE MONOLITH, AND MORE CONFIRMED FOR SCORCHED TUNDRA VIII

Scorched Tundra is proud to announce the lineup for its eighth edition. The second installment of 2017 – taking place September 1-3 at The Empty Bottle in Chicago – will feature the showcases’ most diverse and extensive lineup to date.

Friday September 1st
The Atomic Bitchwax
Fistula
Electric Hawk

Saturday September 2nd
Acid King
Minsk
Wolvhammer
Bottomed

Sunday September 3rd
Oxbow
Behold! The Monolith
RLYR

Tickets for each day can be purchased at the following links:

Friday September 1st:
http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7524445&pl=eb&dispatch=loadSelectionData

Saturday September 2nd:
http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7523745&pl=eb&dispatch=loadSelectionData

Sunday September 3rd:
http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7524415&pl=eb&dispatch=loadSelectionData

Scorched Tundra’s mission is to give a new generation of talented artists a unique live platform in Chicago and Gothenburg. Scorched Tundra’s billing – based on sound not stature – creates a unique aural experience for the audience. “The forthcoming eighth edition was the most enjoyable to put together as the lineup is extremely eclectic and in many ways different from past iterations. All of these artists are newcomers to Scorched Tundra; they are very difficult to pigeonhole; and transcend categorization. Intimate, historic, and highly respected, The Empty Bottle in Chicago will once again play as a perfect host to this unique set of artists,” states organizer Alexi Front.

Scorched Tundra VIII marks the event’s much anticipated return to Chicago after last years two day sold out event. The third ever Scorched Tundra beer – brewed in collaboration with Pipeworks Brewing Company –an India Pale Ale dry hopped with Australian and American aromatic varietals – will be available at select bars and stores in Chicago in August and at the festival. Longtime Scorched Tundra collaborator Axel Widén created artwork for the beer label and festival poster. Seven other Pipeworks beers will be available as part of a tap takeover throughout Scorched Tundra VIII.

http://www.scorchedtundra.com
https://www.facebook.com/ScorchedTundra

The Atomic Bitchwax, Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2017

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The Atlas Moth Sign to Prosthetic Records; New LP Coma Noir Due this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Chicago’s The Atlas Moth are currently dug into the recording process of their fourth album, to be titled Coma Noir. Their first outing since 2014’s righteous The Old Believer (discussed here), it’s being produced by none other than Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, etc.) and will see release this fall as the band’s debut release through Prosthetic Records.

Solid fit for a band who’ve consistently played outside genre lines and an imprint who’ve taken pains particularly over the last couple years to expand their own aesthetic palette to cover swaths of the heavy and/or doom underground, and when it comes to The Atlas Moth, the likelier bet would be further progression of their densely-weighted, atmospheric sound, since whatever else they’ve done over the course of their three LPs to-date, they’ve never failed to push themselves forward.

One to look forward to in the colder, darker months to come.

From the PR wire:

the atlas moth

THE ATLAS MOTH Sign to Prosthetic Records, Recording New Album, “Coma Noir”

In-Studio Now with Sanford Parker (Voivod, Eyehategod) | Release Details Coming Soon

Chicago-based experimental metal band THE ATLAS MOTH have officially announced their signing to Prosthetic Records. The five-piece is augmenting their ever-evolving sound with producer Sanford Parker (Voivod, Eyehategod) at the helm.

Vocalist/guitarist Stavros Giannopoulos comments on the signing, “We have nothing but the best things to say about our time with Profound Lore and we are equally excited to start our next chapter with Prosthetic Records! We are currently tracking our fourth full-length record, Coma Noir, in Chicago with Sanford Parker at the helm! We’ve known Sanford for many years and are stoked to have him be the first to produce a moth record outside of the band. Keep your eyes peeled for in studio updates.”

Coma Noir will be released in the fall of this year. More information will be made available soon.

THE ATLAS MOTH have released three full lengths, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky (Candlelight Records), An Ache For The Distance (Profound Lore) and The Old Believer (Profound Lore), as well as numerous splits, EPs and singles. They have toured with Gojira, Boris, Between the Buried and Me, The Ocean, Scale The Summit and many more throughout the world.

THE ATLAS MOTH is:
Andrew Ragin – Synth/guitar
Alex Klein – Bass
Mike Miczek – Drums
David Kush- Guitar/Vocals
Stavros Giannopoulos – Guitar/Vocals

www.facebook.com/theatlasmothband
www.twitter.com/theatlasmoth
www.instagram.com/theatlasmoth

The Atlas Moth, The Old Believer (2014)

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Drug Honkey Post Lyric Video for “Pool of Failure”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

drug honkey

If you haven’t yet heard it, the new album from Chicago’s Drug Honkey contains some of the most thoroughly fucked-sounding audio you’re likely to encounter in 2017. I mean it. Not only is Cloak of Skies (review here) unremitting in its bleakness, but the sheer aural harshness the band conveys with their industrialized sludge is like almost nothing else out there. With a background in extreme metal, they bring that intensity to their first outing since 2013’s Ghost in the Fire (review here), and the aggressive, malevolent place they wind up with the record is as brutal in its atmospheric purpose as in its raw assault factor. By the time it’s over, one feels as though they’ve earned this sonic punishment, even if one isn’t entirely sure what it is they’re supposed to feel so guilty for.

A noteworthy guest remix by Justin Broadrick has helped get the word out some about what Drug Honkey are doing, and sure enough Godflesh are a central influence or at very least a starting point when it comes to trying to understand where Cloak of Skies is coming from, but the real impact of the album comes from its deranged vibe and opaque violence. As the leadoff track, “Pool of Failure” offers the first signal of this mission and gets it underway in terrifyingly immersive form. Like much of what follows throughout Cloak of Skies, it is a nightmarish pulse peppered with impressionist lyrics, expressive and evocative half-thoughts that lead the listener downward on a course that will only continue in that direction.

Do you get the fucking point yet that Drug Honkey are basically out to wreck consciousness? Good. They’ve got a new video for “Pool of Failure” posted now with even more nightmare-style imagery, and I’d hate for you to go into such a thing unprepared to have your day melted by the song or the clip’s depressive disaffection. You have, as the saying goes, been warned.

Dig it:

Drug Honkey, “Pool of Failure” lyric video

Chicago-based industrial doom lords DRUG HONKEY have premiered their macabre new video for ‘Pool of Failure.’

Recorded by the band themselves at SOS Studio in Chicago and Everflow Studios in Berwyn, IL, Cloak of Skies boasts seven tracks, including a remix by the legendary Justin K. Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu) and a guest saxophone feature from Bruce Lamont (Yazuka, Corrections House, Brain Tentacles). Cover art was hand-painted by renowned artist Paulo Girardi (Inquisition, Power Trip).

DRUG HONKEY is:
Paul Gillis (Honkey Head) – Vocals/Synths/Samples/FX
Gabe Grosso (Hobbs) – Guitars
Ian Brown (Brown Honkey) – Bass
Adam Smith (BH Honkey) – Drums

Cloak of Skies is currently available for purchase (vinyl, CD, digital) at this location: http://drughonkey.bandcamp.com

Drug Honkey on Bandcamp

Drug Honkey on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Obscurity website

Transcending Obscurity Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Unearthly Trance, Heavy Traffic, Saturn, Lucifer’s Fall, Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Scuzzy Yeti, Urn., Nebula Drag, Contra, IAH

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

From harsh doom to urban pastoralism to heavy blues rock to rolling doom nonetheless metallic in its defiance, Day Four of the Quarterly Review spins around a swath of styles and hopefully, hopefully, finds something you dig in the doing. It’s been a long week already. You know it. I know it. But it’s also been really good to dig into this stuff and I know I’ve found a few records that have made their way onto the already-ongoing 2017 lists — best short releases, debuts, albums, etc. — so to say it’s been worth it is, as ever, an understatement. Today likewise has gems to offer, so I won’t delay.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Unearthly Trance, Stalking the Ghost

unearthly-trance-stalking-the-ghost

Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance make a somewhat unexpected reentry with Stalking the Ghost (on Relapse), their sixth album. In the years since 2010’s V (review here), guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky has delved into a wide variety of extreme genres, from the blackened fare of The Howling Wind to the deathly-doom of Serpentine Path, in which Unearthly Trance bassist Jay Newman and drummer Darren Verni also shared tenure, but reuniting as Unearthly Trance feels like a significant step for the three-piece, and on tracks like “Dream State Arsenal” and the darkly post-metallic “Lion Strength,” they remind of what it was that made them such a standout in the first place while demonstrating that their years away have done nothing to dull the surehandedness of their approach. At eight tracks/52 minutes, Stalking the Ghost is a significant dirge to undertake, but Unearthly Trance bring pent-up anguish to bear across this varied swath of punishing tracks, and reassert their dominance over an aesthetic sphere that, even after all this time, is thoroughly their own.

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Heavy Traffic, Plastic Surgery

heavy-traffic-plastic-surgery

Probably a smart move on the part of Heavy Traffic spearhead guitarist Ian Caddick and drummer/vocalist Tav Palumbo to swap coasts from Santa Cruz to Brooklyn ahead of putting together their sixth (!) full-length in three years and Twin Earth Records debut, Plastic Surgery. Cali is awash in heavy psych anyway and Brooklyn’s been at a deficit (as much as it’s at a deficit of anything) since space forerunners Naam became one with the cosmos, so even apart from the acquisition of bassist David Grzedzinki and drummer Dan Bradica, it’s a solid call, and one finds the fruits yielded on Plastic Surgery’s dream-fuzzed blend of heft and roll, heady jams like “See Right Through,” the oh-you-like-feedback-well-here’s-all-the-feedback “Broth Drain” and winding “Medicated Bed” finding a place where shoegaze and psychedelia meet ahead of the low-end-weighted closing title-cut and the bonus track “White and Green,” which finishes with suitable push and swirl to mark a welcome and vibe-soaked arrival for the band. Hope you enjoy the Eastern Seabord. It could use you.

Heavy Traffic on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Saturn, Beyond Spectra

saturn beyond spectra

In the second Saturn album, Beyond Spectra, one can hear one of retro rock’s crucial next movements taking place. The Swedish four-piece, who debuted on Rise Above with 2014’s Ascending and return with a periodically explosive 10-track/45-minute outing here, find a niche for themselves in adding dual-guitar NWOBHM elements to ‘70s-style (also ‘10s-style) boogie, as on the scorching “Still Young” or opener “Orbital Command.” They’re not the only ones doing it – Rise Above alums Horisont come to mind readily – but they’re doing it well, and the last three years have clearly found them refining their approach to arrive at the tightness in the shuffle of “Wolfsson” and the creeping Priestism of “Helmet Man” later on. I’ll give bonus points for their embracing the idea of going completely over the top in naming a song “Electrosaurus Sex,” but by the time they get down to closing duo “Silfvertape” and “Sensor Data,” I’m left thinking of the subdued intro to “Orbital Command” and the interlude “Linkans Delight” and wondering if there isn’t a way to bring more of that dynamic volume and tempo breadth into the songwriting as a whole. That would really be far out. Maybe they’ll get there, maybe they won’t. Either way, Beyond Spectra, like its predecessor, makes a largely inarguable case for Saturn’s potential.

Saturn on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Lucifer’s Fall, II: Cursed and Damned

lucifers-fall-cursed-and-damned

Measuring its impact between doomly traditionalism and attitudinal fuckall, Lucifer’s Fall’s II: Cursed and Damned (on Nine Records) is a doom-for-doomers affair that tops 55 minutes with its nine tracks, recalling Dio-era Sabbathian gallop on opener “Mother Superior” and landing a significant blow with the slow-rolling nine-minute push of “The Necromancer.” Shades of Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, and the most loyal of the loyalists show themselves throughout, but whether it’s the crawl in the first half of “Cursed Priestess” or the blistering rush of the clarion centerpiece “(Fuck  You) We’re Lucifer’s Fall,” there’s an undercurrent of punk in the five-piece’s take that lends an abiding rawness to even the album’s most grueling moments. One looks to find a middle ground in songs like “The Mountains of Madness” and closer “Homunculus,” but Lucifer’s Fall instead offer NWOBHM-style guitar harmonics and soaring vocals, respectively, only pushing their stylistic breadth wider, playing by and breaking rules they’re clearly setting for themselves rather than working toward outside expectation. As a result, II: Cursed and Damned keeps its fist in the air for the duration, middle finger up.

Lucifer’s Fall on Bandcamp

Nine Records website

 

Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Uptown

trevor-shelley-de-brauw-uptown

Over the course of six-minute opener “A New Architecture,” guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw gradually moves the listener from abrasive noise to sweet, folkish acoustic guitar backed by amplified wavelengths. It’s a slowly unfolding change, patiently done, and it works in part to define Uptown (on The Flenser), the Pelican guitarist’s six-song solo debut long-player. Noise and drone make themselves regulars, and there’s a steady experimentalism at root in pieces like “Distinct Frequency,” the low-end hum and strum of “You Were Sure,” and the should’ve-been-on-the-soundtrack-to-Arrival “Turn up for What,” which unfurls a linear progression from minimalism to consuming swell in eight minutes ahead of the more actively droning 11-minute sendoff “From the Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang,” but de Brauw manages to keep a human core beneath via both the occasional acoustic layer and through moments where a piece is being palpably manipulated, à la the spacious distorted churn of “They Keep Bowing.” I’m not sure how Uptown didn’t wind up on Neurot, but either way, it’s an engaging exploration of textures, and one hopes it won’t be de Brauw’s last work in this form.

Trevor Shelley de Brauw on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser website

 

Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti

scuzzy yeti scuzzy yeti

Someone in Scuzzy Yeti has roots in metal, and the good money’s on it being vocalist Chris Wells. Joined in the Troy, New Hampshire, five-piece by guitarists Brad Decatur and Jason Lawrence (ex-Skrogg), bassist Wayne Munson and drummer Josh Turnbull, Wells casts a sizable frontman presence across the five-tracks of Scuzzy Yeti’s self-titled debut EP, belting out “Westward” and “BTK” as the band behind him hones a blend of classic heavy rock and doom. The sound is more reminiscent of Janne Christoffersson-era Spiritual Beggars than what one might expect out of New England, and the band amass some considerable momentum as centerpiece “Conqueror” and the shorter shuffle “Knees in the Breeze” push toward slower, lead-soaked closer “Flare,” which finds the lead guitar stepping up to meet Wells head-on. They might have some work to do in finding a balance between the stylistic elements at play, but for a first outing, Scuzzy Yeti shows all the pieces are there and are being put into their rightful place, and the result is significant, marked potential.

Scuzzy Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Scuzzy Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Urn., Urn.

urn urn

The insistent push from punctuated Denver trio Urn.’s self-titled debut demo/EP is enough to remind one of the days when the primary impression of Mastodon wasn’t their complexity, but the raw savagery with which that complexity was delivered. Urn. – the three-piece of Scott Schulman, Graham Wesselhoff and Jacob Archuleta – work in some elements of more extreme metal to “Rat King” after opener “Breeder,” both songs under three minutes and successfully conveying an intense thrust. The subsequent “Stomach” ranges further and is the longest cut at 4:45, but loses none of its focus as it winds its way toward closer “To the Grave,” which in addition to maintaining the nigh-on-constant kick drum that has pervaded the three tracks prior, offers some hints of lumbering stomp to come. As a first sampling, Urn.’s Urn. is a cohesive aesthetic blast setting in motion a progression that will be worth following as it develops. Call it rager metal and try not to spill your beverage while you windmill, you wild headbanger.

Urn. on Thee Facebooks

Urn. on Bandcamp

 

Nebula Drag, Always Dying

nebula drag always dying

2016 found San Diego aggressors Nebula Drag making their self-titled, self-released debut (review here) with a record that seemed to work in willful defiance of their hometown’s psychedelic underground while at the same time occasionally nodding to it. The forebodingly-titled Always Dying three-song EP does likewise, launching with a vengeance on “Crosses” before burying the vocals and spacing out behind the crashes of the more languid-rolling title-track and giving a bit of both sides with the four-minute closer “Flying Fuckers.” It’s almost as if the three-piece of Corey Quintana, bassist Mike Finneran and drummer Stephen Varns, having thus completed their first album, decided to boil it down to its essential stylistic components and the result of that was this 14-minute outing. An intriguing prospect, but it could also be these were leftovers from the prior session with Jordan Andreen at Audio Design Recording and putting them up for a free download was an easy way to give them some purpose. In any case, if you haven’t yet been introduced to the band, Always Dying is an efficient telling of their story thus far.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

 

Contra, Deny Everything

contra deny everything

If their moniker doesn’t have you immediately running through the most legendary of cheat codes, congratulations on being born after 1990. Cleveland burl-sludge metallers Contra make their full-length debut on respected purveyor Robustfellow with the 10-track/41-minute Deny Everything, and if it sounds like they have their shit together – at least sound-wise – it should make sense given the pedigree of drummer Aaron Brittain (ex-Rue), bassist/guitarist Adam Horwatt (So Long Albatross), guitarist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer) and vocalist Larry Bent (ex-Don Austin). Be it established that songs like “Snake Goat” and “Son of Beast” are nobody’s first time at the sludge rodeo. Fair enough. Doesn’t mean Contra don’t establish their own personality in the overarching fuckall and total lack of pretense throughout Deny Everything – hell, seven-minute closer “Shrimp Cocktail” proves that on its own – just that that personality has roots. What Contra wants to do with them still kind of seems up in the air, but something about these tracks makes me think the band likes it that way. See the aforementioned “fuckall.”

Contra on Bandcamp

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

IAH, IAH

iah iah

Comprised of four songs tracked live in the trio’s native Córdoba at 440 Estudio, the self-titled debut EP from Argentine trio IAH – guitarist Mauricio Condon, bassist Juan Pablo Lucco and drummer José Landín – would seem destined to catch the attention of South American Sludge Records if it already hasn’t. In the interim, the three-piece have made the instrumental EP available as a free download and its unpretentious heavy psychedelics and edge of rock-minded thrust on opener “Cabalgan los Cielos” and the early going of closer “Eclipsum” more than justify their intention to spread the word as much as possible. Set to a balance of post-rock guitar, the bassline of “Stolas” carries a progressive inflection, and the fuzz that emerges halfway into second track “Ouroboros” shows a desert rock influence that blends well into its surroundings as a part of a richer sonic entity. A nascent but palpable chemistry at work across its 26 minutes, IAH’s IAH could portend expansive ideas to come, and one hopes it does precisely that.

IAH on Thee Facebooks

IAH on Bandcamp

 

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Drug Honkey Premiere “Pool of Failure”; Cloak of Skies out May 5

Posted in audiObelisk on March 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

drug honkey

Chicago extremists Drug Honkey will release their fifth album, Cloak of Skies, May 5 via Transcending Obscurity Records. For those unfamiliar with the industrially-tinged sludge dystopias the band conjures, the opening roar of “Pool of Failure” will likely catch you off guard. Hell, even if you caught wind of their last outing, 2013’s Ghost in the Fire (review here), it’s entirely likely that Cloak of Skies will offer more than a few shocking moments in its play toward unremitting darkness, the breadth over which that darkness seems to stretch, the crushing nature of their churn and the somehow punkish undertones at work beneath cuts like “Sickening Wastoid” and “Outlet of Hatred,” which together with “Pool of Failure” form an opening salvo reimagining early C.O.C. or at times even Napalm Death through the lens of a terrible future that, one might argue, has actually come to pass.

As one might figure, Godflesh are a key influence. Enough so that the four-piece of vocalist/synthesist Paul Gillis, guitarist Gabe Grosso, bassist Ian Brown and drummer Adam Smith sought out Justin K. Broadrick to remix “Pool of Failure” as a bonus track. Vast, Jesu-style drone plays a role as well, as “(It’s Not) The Way” drug honkey cloak of skiesdemonstrates, and certainly the more extended finale duo of the 10-minute “The Oblivion of an Opiate Nod” and the eight-minute title-track have their elements of soundscaping as well, but as textured as they are, they’re full of horrors, which is Drug Honkey‘s specialty to be sure. Their roots are in noise and Chicago’s extreme metal underground, but the actual sonics the band emits are twisted beyond whatever their inspirations might be, and through layered growls and spoken lines and a steady wash of synth and effects over the grueling roll of “The Oblivion of an Opiate Nod,” Gillis feels just as much like the one calling down the storm as the one being consumed by it. A deathly expanse at its most ranging, Cloak of Skies is defined by its tortured sensibility and passes its cruelty onto the listener in hyperbole-ready fashion. However one might feel about it listening to “Pool of Failure,” chances are ambivalence won’t be a factor.

But gruesome art is still art, and the band — now also veterans of Denmark’s prestigious Roskilde Festival — are frank in the purposefulness of what they’re doing on Cloak of Skies. These songs, from “Pool of Failure” through the title-cut, are built around the intent to convey a truly misanthropic feel, and accordingly, their churn is simply going to come across as overwhelming to some listeners. That’s been the case with their work for a long time, and while if we’re going by the level of what’s happening in terms of the superficial audio it certainly doesn’t sound like anyone is coming out on top, it’s the source of Drug Honkey‘s success on the record. They revel in these miseries, and by the time “Cloak of Skies” rounds out with its looped vocals — not even words, just syllables at that point — samples, guest saxophone from Corrections House/Yakuza‘s Bruce Lamont and droning abrasion, they’ve turned them into a potent ritual that’s as immersive as it is off-putting. Imagine swirling psychedelia but every color is black. Across seven songs and 50 minutes (including the remix), Drug Honkey bask in tragedy and come out on the other side having covered themselves in filth as if to show us our own complicity in its creation. If there were any justice in the universe, they’d be playing in art galleries.

Cloak of Skies will be out May 5 on Transcending Obscurity. I’m not sure “enjoy” is the right word, but you can hear the premiere of “Pool of Failure” below, followed by more info off the PR wire.

And yes, I hope you enjoy:

US band DRUG HONKEY have always been a step ahead of their peers, if there were any in the first place. There’s a form of tenacity in their music of the same kind that will have you crawl ahead in life despite all its inherent ugliness pinning you down. They are taking things to a different level, with guest contributions from the legend himself, Justin K. Broadrick (GODFLESH, JESU) and Bruce Lamont (YAKUZA, CORRECTIONS HOUSE) with his saxophone eeriness, and having the hand-painted artwork of Paolo Girardi (INQUISITION, CHTHE’ILIST) represent the pulsating sickness of this ambitious and unconventional release.

Album lineup –
Paul Gillis (Honkey Head) – Vocals, Synths, Samples, FX
Adam Smith (BH Honkey) – Drums
Gabe Grosso (Hobbs) – Guitar
Ian Brown (Brown Honkey) – Bass

Official release date – May 5th, 2017.

Drug Honkey on Bandcamp

Drug Honkey on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Obscurity website

Transcending Obscurity Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: REZN, The Fërtility Cült, Cosmic Fall, Oceanwake, Jenzeits

Posted in Radio on March 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

Granted, we’re still running on the backup server, but it’s been a couple weeks at this point anyway, so it’s time for a new round of adds to The Obelisk Radio. Some of this stuff is brand new, some isn’t out yet, and some is older, so it’s a pretty decent mix on that front, and between REZN, The Fërtility Cült and Cosmic Fall, I certainly think we’ve got heavy psychedelia covered. Fortunately there’s the longform doom extremity of Oceanwake and the kraut-worship electronics of Jenzeits (also longform, as it happens) to offer some balance, lest we go drifting off into the universe never to be heard from again. Can’t have that happening.

Before we dig in, thanks to Slevin as ever for his diligent work in keeping the Radio afloat. He’s got a drive recovery running now that will hopefully bring back everything that was there before. It’s been a whole thing, but progress is being made and I appreciate him tossing this stuff in with the backup material in the interim. Thanks to you as well for reading and listening.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for March 14, 2017:

REZN, Let it Burn

rezn-let-it-burn

All-caps Chicago-based newcomers REZN make their deceptively ambitious debut with Let it Burn, a self-released 10-songer checking in at a willfully sprawling 59 minutes that blends psychedelic drift, grunge fuckall and neo-stoner fuzz consumption to welcome effect. One gets shades of Mars Red Sky from opener “Relax,” but later doomer cuts like the blown-out cosmic smash of “Harvest the Void” or the rolling “Fall into the Sky” ensures the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Phil Cangelosi, drummer Patrick Dunn and guitarist/vocalist Rob McWilliams are working on their own wavelength, and flourish of sitar from McWilliams and Dunn on the dynamic raga-infused “Rezurrection,” as well as Dunn‘s percussion and Spencer Ouellette‘s modular synth in the two-minute interlude “Pipe Dream” that leads into the initial spoken sample of the Dead Meadow-style fuzzer “The Creature” only add further checked-out-of-life charm to the offering as a whole. “Relax” and “Wake” at the outset speak to some impulse on the part of the band to tie their material together, but that comes through even more as “The Creature” transitions into “Fall into the Sky” and the suitably-spacewalking “Orbit” leads to the noisy start of rumble-laden closer “Astral Sage” later on. REZN leave themselves room to grow into their approach in moments like these, and pieces like “Harvest the Void,” “The Creature” and “Wake” certainly speak to a memorable songwriting process in development, but Let it Burn already shows them a potent brew of weighted lysergics.

REZN on Thee Facebooks

REZN on Bandcamp

 

The Fërtility Cült, A Forest of Kings

the-fertility-cult-a-forest-of-kings

Nestled into the heavy hotbed of Tampere, Finland, The Fërtility Cült continue their progressive push into reverb-laden heft with late-2016’s A Forest of Kings, their third long-player behind 2013’s Heavenly Bodies and their 2011 debut, Eschatology (review here). In an admirably crowded scene, the five-piece are distinguished for their tonal breadth, use-not-overuse of echo-laden saxophone and organ and general willingness to meander without giving up an underlying principal of craft or direction. All of this is on display in the A Forest of Kings opener “Blood of Kings,” but the highlight of the album has to be the centerpiece “The City on the Edge of Forever” (taking its name from the highlight episode of the original Star Trek, written by Harlan Ellison), which successfully fuses jazzy rhythm with a patient, psychedelic execution to the sacrifice of neither. Also the longest inclusion at 10:58, it’s the umlaut-happy troupe’s most resonant melody and most singularly progressive stretch, but neither will I take away from the nod of “God of Rain,” which follows, or the manner in which the apex shuffle of closer “Cycles of Time” unfurls itself from the song’s initial subdued verses. Heady vibe throughout the total 46 minutes, as one might expect, but The Fërtility Cült‘s third is less self-indulgent than it might superficially seem, and their varied arrangements never fail to service what really matters to them, which of course is the material itself rather than the exercise of playing it. Rich and graceful when it wants to be, A Forest of Kings hones an endearing landscape without getting lost in it.

The Fërtility Cült on Thee Facebooks

The Fërtility Cült on Bandcamp

 

Cosmic Fall, Kick out the Jams

cosmic-fall-kick-out-the-jams

Mostly-instrumentalist trio Cosmic Fall — based in Berlin and comprised of guitarist/vocalist Mathias, bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel — formed in 2016 and worked quickly to turn around First Fall (discussed here), their first full-length of improv-based works. Kick out the Jams arrives with a fittingly quick turnaround and brings forth seven new pieces in its digital form, topping 93 minutes in its total space-bound push. More impressive than the quantity of the work — though I won’t take away from the sprawling appeal (or the delightful, influence-on-our-sleeve pun in the title) of the 21-minute “Earthfull” or 19-minute opener “Saturn Highway” — is the chemistry that seems to have immediately found root in Cosmic Fall‘s sound. They take a forward step in these tracks, to be sure, and there are more steps to be taken — a band like this, in the best case scenario, does not stop progressing, their material only comes to unfold more as a musical conversation between old friends; see Electric Moon — but as Kick out the Jams plays through its extended, immersive runtime, cuts like “Interstellar Junction” and “Stairway Jam” feel especially bold in how open they are in allowing the listener to hear that process happening. Songs are varyingly active — only “White Stone” (4:42) is under 11 minutes long — and allow for Mathias to lead the way into the spaciousness of “Purple Weed” while Daniel‘s toms propel “Cosmic Conclusion” at the album’s finish, but the core message behind Cosmic Fall less than a year into their tenure is one of ambition and the band’s deep motivation to develop the already palpable dynamic they have going. One can only look forward to hearing where their adventures take them and, indeed, where they take their audience.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Oceanwake, Earthen

oceanwake-earthen

With Earthen on ViciSolum Records, Finnish progressive death-doomers Oceanwake complete a trilogy that began on their 2013 debut Kingdom and had its second installment with 2015’s Sunless (review here). I’m not entirely sure what the overarching theme tying the releases together is — perhaps hearing the debut would help, but it’s not easily tracked down — but Earthen expounds on the blend of extremity, poise and emotional resonance the Luvia five-piece proffered their last time out, arriving as two massive tracks, opener “A Storm Sermon” (21:09) and closer “In Amidst the Silent Thrones” (24:04), both of which work in movements that shift between crushing, grueling doom and gorgeous, airy melodies. A depth of emotionalism isn’t necessarily anything new in the style — countrymen from Skepticism to Swallow the Sun have been morose for a long time — but what Oceanwake bring is a fluidity in their transitions and a sense of purpose to their songwriting beyond the usual miseries. Thus, like Sunless before it, Earthen emerges to bring significant character to familiar elements, drifting at times and explosive at others, but always under complete control, never wandering without a reason, and basking in low end that has to be heard to be believed. Earthen might fly under a lot of radars, but it shouldn’t be missed by those with an affinity for the extreme ends of doom. One hopes the now-completed trilogy project won’t be the sum total Oceanwake‘s output together.

Oceanwake on Thee Facebooks

ViciSolum Records on Bandcamp

 

Jenzeits, Jenzeits Cosmic Universe

Jenzeits-Cosmic-Universe

Jenzeits may be a new incarnation, but the project stems from a familiar source. Relocated from North Carolina to San Francisco — also, apparently, to the cosmos itself — multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis (Hour of 13SetAnuThe Sabbathian, etc.) offers up two massive synthesized soundscapes on Jenzeits Cosmic Universe, as both “Alpha” (25:00) and “Omega” (21:53) channel krautrock exploration and progressive indulgence. A due amount of the release is given to hypnotics, as one might expect — that is, it’s an easy one to put on and zone out — but Davis isn’t without some sense of motion either as he makes his way through “Alpha” and the rightfully more foreboding “Omega,” the latter delving into a movement of key runs backed by wind swirl calling to mind any number of horror and/or retro-horror soundtracks, and even minor shifts in the elements at work at any given moment become more pronounced in the grand context of the whole work. Davis usually has his hands in a number of outfits (and a number of genres) at any given time — an Hour of 13 resurgence is pending, for example — but Jenzeits‘ debut is engaging in its textures and feels like a journey just beginning.

Jenzeits on Thee Facebooks

Jenzeits on Bandcamp

More to come as we get The Obelisk Radio back up and running at full capacity. I’ve purchased a new hard drive toward that end, so we’ll have even more room to work with as well. Will update when there’s an update.

Till then, thanks again for reading and listening.

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