Apostle of Solitude Post “Ruination be Thy Name” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Apostle of Solitude

If Apostle of Solitude wanted to just go ahead and make a clip for each of the non-intro/interlude tracks on their new album, From Gold to Ash (review here), I’d be cool with that. As long as I get to premiere one or two of them. Thus far in giving the record video interpretation, they’ve covered side A (if in reverse order) between their prior clip for the ultra-hooky “Keeping the Lighthouse” (posted here) and the new one below for post-intro opener “Ruination be Thy Name.” That leaves “My Heart is Leaving Here,” “Monochrome (Discontent)” and “Grey Farewell.” I say go for it. Those last couple tracks get pretty morose, but screw it, it’s doom. If you can’t handle being miserable, you’re in the wrong subgenre.

Unlike its darker companion piece inthe prior video, “Ruination be Thy Name” is pretty bright in its (visual) tone, comprised of manipulated green-screen performance footage edited together to the rhythm of the song itself. And it’s a considerable rhythm. Where later on, From Gold to Ash gets into some particularly heart-rending fare, both “Ruination be Thy Name” and “Keeping the Lighthouse” bask in more middle-ground tempos and some of the album’s most resonant hooks. Massive groove abounds, naturally, and “Ruination be Thy Name” seems to be built as much around its nodding riff as the repetitions of its title line. One way or another, it provides one of From Gold to Ash‘s most memorable impressions, and as the de facto leadoff cut, it emphasizes just how much the band has grown in the last several years.

I said in my review that this is one of the year’s best records. Well, since I wrote that I’ve only heard more of the candidates, and I completely stand by the earlier statement. From Gold to Ash shows how much life there can be in so-called traditional doom when a band works so diligently to make those traditions their own. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. That’s about all there is to it.

Enjoy the clip below, followed by more info from the PR wire:

Apostle of Solitude, “Ruination be Thy Name” official video

U.S. Doom Giants APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE have released the official video for “Ruination Be Thy Name,” a track from new album From Gold to Ash.

Cruz Del Sur Music released From Gold to Ash February 23 on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital formats.

CD: http://tinyurl.com/yaty2zet
Vinyl: http://tinyurl.com/ycjz3elg
Digital (album stream): apostleofsolitude.bandcamp.com/album/from-gold-to-ash

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE will host an album release show this Friday, March 23 at Black Circle Brewing in Indianapolis, along with Desert Planet, Devil to Pay and Shroud of Vulture.

A U.S. summer tour is currently in the works, as well as another trip across the pond with the band’s confirmed appearance at the 2018 installment of DOOM OVER VIENNA festival.

Recorded in September 2017 at Russian Recording in Bloomington, IN with studio mastermind Mike Bridavsky, From Gold To Ash offers seven songs of ambitious, aching doom. Largely defined by the heartfelt and emotive dual vocals of Chuck Brown and Steve Janiak, From Gold To Ash covers a wide spectrum of heavy, from raging instrumentals to introspective guitar duos, monolithic doom riffs and reflective, melodic heartache. From Gold to Ash is also the first APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE album to feature bassist Mike Naish (Astral Mass, Shroud of Vulture).

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE is:
Corey Webb – drums
Chuck Brown – guitars, vocals
Steve Janiak – guitars, vocals
Mike Naish – bass

Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Apostle of Solitude, From Gold to Ash

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Apostle of Solitude From Gold to Ash

[Click play above to stream Apostle of Solitude’s From Gold to Ash in its entirety. Album is out this week on Cruz Del Sur Music.]

Understand: I had reasonably high expectations for Apostle of Solitude‘s fourth album. No reason not to, frankly. Since making a splash a decade ago with their debut full-length, Sincerest Misery (discussed here), they’ve never failed to move forward either in their approach or overall quality of output. That was the case as 2010’s Last Sunrise (review here) followed and set the stage for its own follow-up, Of Woe and Wounds (review here), in 2014. Now, between those two records a pivotal change was made in the band that saw founding guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown and drummer Corey Webb bring aboard guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak, also of Ripple Music heavy rockers Devil to Pay, to add complement to Brown‘s emotional delivery and thickness and volume to the sound overall. The short version is it worked.

The long version is it worked splendidly. And while it would be rational to imagine that a band whose output across three records has always been geared toward a healthy amount of progression would continue to progress, the fourth Apostle of Solitude, titled From Gold to Ash and issued as their second for knows-its-metal-imprint Cruz Del Sur, surpasses any and all expectations one might’ve placed on it. To be blunt, it is the kind of album that bands go their entire careers trying to make. And I fully recognize that sounds like hyperbole, but as executions of American doom metal go, there’s really nothing more one could ask of these seven tracks, which have weight in their atmosphere and emotion as much as their riffs, huge grooves cut through by melancholic harmonies between Janiak and Brown, and a continued development in songcraft that has produced some of the most memorable Apostle of Solitude material to-date.

In several important ways, From Gold to Ash is a direct follow-up to Of Woe and Wounds, and I think even the construction of the two titles hints at that. Now rounded out by bassist Mike Naish, the band returned to Mike Bridavsky to helm the recording, with whom they’ve worked since Last SunriseBridavsky brought a notable shift in clarity to Of Woe and Wounds, and that’s something From Gold to Ash continues. Apostle of Solitude sound unabashedly melodic, and though they’re distorted, rumbling, crashing and heavy, tracks like “Ruination be Thy Name” and “My Heart is Leaving Here” prove spacious enough to allow for dynamic changes in volume and tempo and overall feel, and across the 43-minute offering, the band creates a mire that’s as much heart-rending as it is headbang-worthy, their plod worthy of earliest Trouble even as they call out Pentagram‘s Be Forewarned on the penultimate “Monochrome (Discontent)” en route to rolling closer “Grey Farewell.”

The interaction between Brown and Janiak on vocals and guitar, frankly, is the most outward point of growth on the part of the band — that is, the easiest to perceive — and this makes sense. It would have to be. Either proves capable of taking the frontman position for a given song — Janiak plays that role in Devil to Pay — but it’s in cuts like centerpiece highlight “Keeping the Lighthouse” (video posted here) and in the chorus of “Ruination by Thy Name,” which arrives following the extended intro “Overlord” and delivers both an irresistible swaying groove and much of the lyrical perspective in the line, “To be wounded, and to be maimed, is to exist,” in a midsection break following the second and not-at-all final runthrough of one of From Gold to Ash‘s most resonant hooks.

Apostle of Solitude

It’s telling that the band would separate “Ruination by Thy Name” and “Keeping the Lighthouse” by the quiet 90-second guitar interlude “Autumn Moon,,” allowing the listener to properly recover from the one before moving onto the next, but they do no such favors when it comes to From Gold to Ash‘s final three tracks — a salvo that begins with the 10-minute “My Heart is Leaving here” and continues with “Monochrome (Discontent)” and the finale “Grey Farewell),” both of which top seven minutes and thus are longer than either “Ruination by Thy Name” (6:37) and “Keeping the Lighthouse” (a tidy 6:23). The reason that matters is because after “Keeping the Lighthouse” crashes to its end, “My Heart is Leaving Here” picks up with quiet, echoing guitar and seems to move the album into a different section entirely — it’s the moment where the listener enters “the thick of it.”

Slower, more depressive, more regret-filled, the calls and responses of “My Heart is Leaving Here” are a point at which From Gold to Ash reaches a new stage of expressiveness, and likewise becomes more immersive. It is doomed revelry of the highest order, building toward a guitar solo and huge lumbering finish in which a cymbal wash gives way to the drum fill at the beginning of “Monochrome (Discontent),” on which Janiak seems to take the forward vocal position as he did on “Luna” from Of Woe and Wounds, with results no less successful. Another sorrowful lyric and rolling riff gives way to a stretch of minimal guitar and punching bass after the halfway point — a bridge, essentially, and not a long one — but the peaceful moment is effective in conveying Apostle of Solitude‘s overarching dynamic and the various means through which they’re able to convey a forlorn spirit.

“Monocrhome (Discontent)” drags itself to its ending without another word and “Grey Farewell” crashes in with a suitable largesse of plod before settling into a middle-paced push through one last trade between verse and hook that seems to summarize the various aspects of From Gold to Ash that have worked so well across both sides of the release. There might be a flourish of hope in the dual-layered/dual-channel guitar solo about three-quarters of the way through, but as one recalls the line, “No time can cure the rising anguish” from “My Heart is Leaving Here” and the shouted delivery of “anguish” as a part of that, the impression overall of From Gold to Ash is long since set. Its depressiveness is resonant throughout, but there’s nothing theatrical or overblown about Apostle of Solitude‘s delivery throughout. No drama, no pretense, no wasted time. The sincerity with which From Gold to Ash is executed is one of its great strengths, and while that’s been a key factor to the band’s aesthetic since their beginning, they’ve simply never reached the level they do here.

Let me be blunt: When 2018 is over, From Gold to Ash will have been one of its finest doom releases. Despite its downer sensibility, it is an utter triumph of form, and it should put Apostle of Solitude in a new echelon of consideration as one of the US’ finest purveyors of modern doom. It is a significant accomplishment, and one that should not be ignored or passed over for any reason. Recommended.

Apostle of Solitude, “Keeping the Lighthouse” official video

Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

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Apostle of Solitude Post “Keeping the Lighthouse” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

apostle of solitude keeping the lighthouse

It’s not really a ‘get to know you’ kind of video. You’re not going to recognize the dudes from Apostle of Solitude on the street after you watch it. It’s the kind of clip that has a little mystique to its presence.

It’s really fucking dark, is what I’m trying to say. Like, no-lights-on dark.

Well, there are some lights in the background, but the band are essentially silhouettes throughout the entirety of the seven-minute runtime of “Keeping the Lighthouse,” which is taken from their upcoming fourth album, From Gold to Ash, out next week on Cruz Del Sur. Come to think of it, it’s almost the exact opposite of the Indianapolis doomers’ video for “Lamentations of a Broken Man” (posted here) from 2014’s Of Woe and Wounds (review here). All the lights were on for that one.

And that was the first video from that record too, of several they’d ultimately wind up making, mostly collecting tour footage and putting it together to complement the tracks. “Keeping the Lighthouse” is moodier fare, as all that darkness would hint toward, but hey, maybe they made the one in answer to the other. Maybe it’s the same room, just with something covering the walls and the breakers shut off. Can’t say for sure. Kind of hard to see.

Ha.

More important things to talk about than the lighting design, though — like the fact that if 2018 ended today, From Gold to Ash might be my album of the year. And yes, I’ve heard some of the other candidates. I’m going to be reviewing it next week and hosting a full-album stream, which I can’t wait for, so I don’t want to get too deep into it here, but the whole thing is just on a completely different level, and for the record, I thought Of Woe and Wounds was fantastic, so it’s not like they’re suddenly blindsiding me with a good album. I think all their albums are good. This one’s just the best of them.

And “Keeping the Lighthouse” — when one counts the semi-introductory leadoff track “Overlord” — is the centerpiece of it, in actual placement and quality alike. A cornerstone hook, a choice groove among choice groove, and harmonies that emphasize the emotional foundations of Apostle of Solitude‘s songwriting. Words like “quintessential” come to mind, with emphasis on “essential.”

PR wire info follows the clip below.

Get doomed:

Apostle of Solitude, “Keeping the Lighthouse” official video

Cruz Del Sur Music has opened CD and vinyl pre-orders for From Gold to Ash. The album will be released February 23 on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital formats.

CD Pre-order:
http://tinyurl.com/yaty2zet

Vinyl Pre-order:
http://tinyurl.com/ycjz3elg

Recorded in September 2017 at Russian Recording in Bloomington, IN with studio mastermind Mike Bridavsky, From Gold To Ash offers seven songs of ambitious, aching doom. Largely defined by the heartfelt and emotive dual vocals of Chuck Brown and Steve Janiak, From Gold To Ash covers a wide spectrum of heavy, from raging instrumentals to introspective guitar duos, monolithic doom riffs and reflective, melodic heartache. From Gold to Ash is also the first APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE album to feature bassist Mike Naish (Astral Mass, Shroud of Vulture).

Following the release of From Gold To Ash, APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE plan on hitting the road in the United States and returning to Europe.

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE is:
Corey Webb – drums
Chuck Brown – guitars, vocals
Steve Janiak – guitars, vocals
Mike Naish – bass

Apostle of Solitude on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music website

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Apostle of Solitude Announce New Album From Gold to Ash out Feb. 23

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

Apostle of Solitude

Look. I won’t even pretend not to have heard this one, and I’m just going to say it outright: Apostle of Solitude‘s From Gold to Ash is one of the best albums that’s going to come out in 2018. In doom? Well, it’s early to know of course, but if it’s not the best traditional doom record of 2018 by the end of the year, I’d sure like to know what came down the line to beat it. Their last outing, 2014’s Of Woe and Wounds (review here), was their high-water mark to-date, and these tracks absolutely blow it out of the water. The harmonies, the groove, the weight of it. It’s among the most exciting heavy slabs I’ve encountered set to arrive in the coming months. I can’t shut it off.

No public audio yet. I’ve put in a request to host a stream with a review and I’d like to interview the band as well if I can get my head together to do so. Either way, whatever works out, expect more to come on this one, particularly on most-anticipated and best-of lists for the rest of the year.

Dig the details:

Apostle of Solitude From Gold to Ash

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE Releasing ‘From Gold to Ash’ February 23 on Cruz Del Sur Music

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE will release new album From Gold to Ash February 23 on Cruz Del Sur Music. The album will be available on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats.

The doom bell tolls roughly every four years for Indiana’s APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE. Formed in 2004 by former THE GATES OF SLUMBER drummer Chuck Brown, the band followed their 2008 Sincerest Misery debut with Last Sunrise in 2010, then, in between two splits and a demo, released Of Woe And Wounds in 2014, which also served as their first album for Italy’s Cruz Del Sur Music. Just in time, APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE greets the legions of doom in early 2018 with their fourth studio album, From Gold To Ash.

Recorded in September 2017 at Russian Recording in Bloomington, Indiana with studio owner and engineer Mike Bridavsky, From Gold To Ash offers seven songs of ambitious and equally aching doom. Largely defined by the heartfelt and emotive vocals of Brown, From Gold To Ash covers a wide spectrum of doom, from thundering gallops, mid-tempo bashers to reflective, melodic romps. With songs as voluminous as this, it’s no surprise the songwriting process for APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE (who are rounded out by guitarist Steve Janiak, bassist Mike Naish and drummer Corey Webb) is one of deliberation and utmost care.

From Gold To Ash starts with the savage and gritty guitar chugs of “Overlord”, and gradually starts to take shape with the Sabbath thunder-clap of “Ruination Be Thy Name”, a cut that features some of Brown’s most elaborate singing to date. After the soft peddles found on interlude “Autumn Moon”, the slow-crawl guitar harmonies of “Keeping The Lighthouse” and dominating lurch of “My Heart Is Leaving Here” find APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE playing at near-funeral doom tempos. The sorrow continues with “Monochrome (Discontent)” and “Grey Farewell”, where Brown unfurls soulful, yet melancholic vocal lines, which, according to the singer, was a point of emphasis during songwriting sessions.

Upon the release of From Gold To Ash, APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE plan on hitting the road in the United States and Europe.

Track List

CD:
1. Overlord
2. Ruination Be Thy Name
3. Autumn Moon
4. Keeping The Lighthouse
5. My Heart Is Leaving Here
6. Monochrome (discontent)
7. Grey Farewell

LP:
1. Overlord
2. My Heart Is Leaving Here
3. Autumn Moon
4. Keeping The Lighthouse
5. Monochrome (Discontent)
6. Ruination Be Thy Name
7. Grey Farewell

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE is:
Corey Webb – drums
Chuck Brown – guitars, vocals
Steve Janiak – guitars, vocals
Mike Naish – bass

www.facebook.com/apostleofsolitude
twitter.com/Chuck_solitude
apostleofsolitude.com
www.cruzdelsurmusic.com
cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic
twitter.com/CruzDelSurMusic

Apostle of Solitude, “Luna” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Apostle of Solitude, Sincerest Misery

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Apostle of Solitude, Sincerest Misery (2008)

Sure enough, doom has rarely offered miseries that seem so sincere. Part of what makes Apostle of Solitude so resonant on that level, I think, is the utter lack of drama in their sound. That’s something that was true of them on their 2008 full-length debut, Sincerest Misery — which was released by underrated and now-defunct imprint Eyes Like Snow — and it’s remained true of them ever since. Somehow, coming from the Indianapolis outfit, it seems particularly American, and in the case of their first record, that’s a spirit emphasized by the everyday-rural-woes spoken sample included in “This Dustbowl Earth” in the album’s back half, but even more than that, it’s the point that Apostle of Solitude right away seemed to spurn any sort of morose posturing or poetic theatricalities. “A Slow Suicide” tells a story about substance abuse. “The Dark Tower” references Stephen King in its title. But with guitarist/vocalist Chuck Brown‘s sorrowful delivery, the emotional crux of Sincerest Misery comes across as being on a perpetual fade. It’s not about scribbling lines to Horus by moonlight — nothing against that, mind you; when it works it’s brilliant — but about the doom can infect one’s day-to-day experience of life. It doesn’t need that added drama to get its point across.

Comprised of eight core tracks plus a hidden cover of Black Sabbath‘s “Electric Funeral,” Sincerest Misery begins with a snare count-in on “The Messenger” from founding drummer Corey Webb that sets in motion the key dynamic that will play out throughout the course of the record — namely that between himself and Brown. As the guitar on “The Messenger” and the subsequent “Confess” sways between chugging and drawn out lumber, Webb demonstrates a core tactic that the band has continued to utilize on their three-to-date LPs in switching between forward propulsion and a half-time swing that seems to make everything slower despite no tempo change from Brown — joined on guitar here by Justin Avery, while Brent McLellen handled bass and backing vocal duties — drawing back and lurching ahead with a change that’s both subtle and beaning the listener in the head. Together, “The Messenger” and “Confess” make up a pivotal opening salvo that I’d argue helped establish Apostle of Solitude immediately among the stronger US-based purveyors of traditional doom metal, showcasing them quickly as more than just an offshoot of The Gates of Slumber, in which Brown had previously served as drummer, and setting the stage for the slower crawl to come on “A Slow Suicide,” the 14-minute closer “Sincerest Misery (1,000 Days)” or the penultimate “Warbird,” which at nine minutes is perhaps Sincerest Misery‘s most dynamic track in its melody and the patience of its execution, starting with a hypnotic undulation of bass and slowly doling out its riff before exploding into nodding crash en route first to a fistpump-ready midsection, then through another slowdown that builds toward a payoff in the last minute that, even on its own, outside the context of the rest of the outing around it, shows the potential that existed in this band at what was more or less their outset, the first full-length having been preceded by the 2006 Embraced by the Black EP and an eponymous demo in 2005.

The cleverness of having the guitar count-in at the start of “Last Tears,” which on the vinyl version closes out side A in answer to “The Messenger,” is one example of nuance presented throughout, and certainly the instrumental rollout of “The Dark Tower” has its classically progressive elements, but again, what makes Sincerest Misery as a whole even more affecting to the listener is the overarching rawness that seems to be emanating from it at all times. One gets the sense in listening to the the turns and howls of “Confess,” the lurching chug of “Last Tears” and the ultra-dug-in plod of “Sincerest Misery (1,000 Days)” that the damage suffered is recent, and it sounds no less so more than nine years after the initial release — it turns a decade old in Oct. 2018 — than it did when the album first came out, because like the best of doom, Apostle of Solitude‘s Sincerest Misery has retained a sonic potency by seeming not to belong to its own era so much as an ongoing pantheon of style.

Crucial as well for what it set in motion in terms of Apostle of Solitude‘s sound in how they’d take the harmonies of “Sincerest Misery (1,000 Days)” and the “Electric Funeral” cover and make them a pivotal aspect of their approach — particularly after bringing in guitarist/vocalist Steve Janiak (also of Devil to Pay) for their triumphant third full-length, 2014’s Of Woe and Wounds (review here), which followed the Profound Lore-released, got-a-bum-wrap-because-of-its-cover-art 2010 sophomore work, Last Sunrise (review here) — Sincerest Misery earns a place of distinction in that aesthetic pantheon not just by living up to its title, but through the unabashed emotionalism it presents. If you want to put it to scale, Pallbearer‘s first demo was still two years off, so it’s worth emphasizing that Apostle of Solitude were well ahead of the curve in a lot of what’s become taken for granted as modern doom.

That’s not to say Sincerest Misery is perfect. It’s not. Including the Sabbath track, it reaches an unmanageable 70-minute runtime and there are stretches where it’s clear the editorial impulse that would show itself in a tightening of songwriting by the time they got into Last Sunrise and Of Woe and Wounds was still in development. But especially as their debut, it shows the mindful approach to their craft they’d continue to progress as they moved forward and brings forth righteousness enough that, nine years after the fact, one is left thinking that it’s high time Apostle of Solitude were considered among the foremost purveyors of American doom throughout the last decade.

As one looks forward to the arrival of their fourth outing in 2018, revisiting their first offers a chance to be reminded of how much they have to offer in style and substance, and as always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Yesterday was the solstice, the darkest day of the year. And it felt it perhaps even a little more than usual with the passing earlier this week of Rev. Jim Forrester, shot down outside his place of employment in Baltimore with no sense of motive yet uncovered and no suspect arrested last I heard. Shit is fucked. Fucked. Fucked. Fucked. Today is the memorial service down there, and next Friday in Frederick, Maryland, is the first of what one hopes will be a series of benefit shows (info here) in his honor and with proceeds going to his family.

I guess if there’s light at all to take away from that situation — which, it needs to be said again: fucked — it’s seeing the Maryland heavy underground rally together as it always does. Earlier this year when Jim had his health issues stemming from a blood clot in his liver (discussed here), the people in Maryland’s scene got together to offer their support and it’s always encouraging to see that community take care of its own. Brings out the idea that it’s the music tying everyone together, but it’s the people that really make it what it is down there, and Jim’s loss, I know I’ve already said this, is significant. He’s someone who will continue to be missed, and not just for the music he made or his riotous stage presence — but for who he was as a person.

A pretty devastating way to go into the holidays, but that’s where we’re headed. Monday is Xmas. I’ll be traveling, so probably not so much posting, but I’ll be working for the next four days as well on putting together the Top 30 of 2017, which if everything goes according to my plan will be posted next Wednesday. Everything’s tentative, with baby, and holidays, and what’s turned out to be a bevvy of doctor appointments — physical therapy for The Patient Mrs., check-up for The Pecan, dentist for me (was supposed to have a root canal yesterday that I postponed to next Friday) — but in addition to the top 30, I’d like to do a year-end podcast (those are always fun) and a song-of-the-year post as well, so keep an eye out. There’s still a lot of 2017 to squeeze in. Here are the notes:

Mon.: Nothing. Happy Xmas.
Tue.: Year-end podcast; news catchup.
Wed.: Top 30 of 2017; High Reeper video maybe.
Thu.: C.O.C. review if I can fit it in time-wise.
Fri.: Song of the Year.

Doesn’t look like much, I know, but it’s actually a pretty staggering amount of work to be done, and not a little daunting as a prospect, particularly with the wrap of the Year-End Poll and the Quarterly Review looming not far behind, and then, sometime in January, the list of 2018’s most anticipated albums to go up. I don’t even know how many I’ve got in my notes at this point. Has to be more than 100. Last year worked out to be more than 200 by the time I was done updating the thing. Woof.

But one thing at a time. I hope first and foremost that if you’re celebrating the holiday this coming Monday that you have a good one and that you’re spending it how you want to spend it. The Patient Mrs. and I (and The Pecan, naturally) will be indulging our annual Xmas Eve tradition of watching Die Hard and, hopefully, Die Hard 2, before traveling to CT to see family on the day itself, so should be good times all around. I’m looking forward to it.

Either way, have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

This is the hardest list to put together, no question. Don’t get me wrong, I put way too much thought into all of them, but this one is damn near impossible to keep up with. Every digital single, every demo, every EP, every 7″, 10″ one-sided 12″, whatever it is. There’s just too much. I’m not going to claim to have heard everything. Hell, that’s what the comments are for. Let me know what I missed. Invariably, something.

So while the headers might look similar, assuming I can ever remember which fonts I use from one to the next, this list has a much different personality than, say, the one that went up earlier this week with the top 20 debuts of 2017. Not that I heard everyone’s first record either, but we’re talking relative ratios here. The bottom line is please just understand I’ve done my best to hear as much as possible. I’m only one person, and there are only so many hours in the day. Eventually your brain turns into riffy mush.

With that caveat out of the way, I’m happy to present the following roundup of some of what I thought were 2017’s best short releases. That’s EPs, singles, demos, splits — pretty much anything that wasn’t a full-length album, and maybe one or two things that were right on the border of being one. As between genres, the lines are blurry these days. That’s part of what makes it fun.

Okay, enough dawdling. Here we go:

lo-pan-in-tensions

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

1. Lo-Pan, In Tensions
2. Godhunter, Codex Narco
3. Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead
4. Shroud Eater, Three Curses
5. Stubb, Burning Moon
6. Canyon, Canyon
7. Solace, Bird of Ill Omen
8. Kings Destroy, None More
9. Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam
10. Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme
11. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
12. Rope Trick, Red Tape
13. Eternal Black, Live at WFMU
14. IAH, IAH
15. Bong Wish, Bong Wish EP
16. Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie Demo
17. Hollow Leg, Murder
18. Mars Red Sky, Myramyd
19. Avon, Six Wheeled Action Man Tank 7″
20. Wretch, Bastards Born

Honorable Mention

Across Tundras, Blood for the Sun / Hearts for the Rain
The Discussion, Tour EP
Fungus Hill, Creatures
Switchblade Jesus & Fuzz Evil, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven
The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny
Test Meat, Demo
Blood Mist, Blood Mist
Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell
Dautha, Den Foerste
Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti
Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2
Decasia, The Lord is Gone
Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

I can’t imagine I won’t add a name or two or five to this section over the next few days as I think of other things and people remind me of stuff and so on, so keep an eye out, but the point is there’s way more than just what made the top 20. That Across Tundras single would probably be on the list proper just on principle, but I heard it like a week ago and it doesn’t seem fair. Speaking of unfair, The Discussion, Howling Giant, The Grand Astoria and the Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore split all deserve numbered placement easily. I might have to make this a top 30 in 2018, just to assuage my own guilt at not being able to include everything I want to include. For now though, yeah, this is just the tip of the doomberg.

Notes

To be totally honest with you, that Lo-Pan EP came out Jan. 13 and pretty much had the year wrapped up in my head from that point on. It was going to be hard for anything to top In Tensions, and the Godhunter swansong EP came close for the sense of stylistic adventurousness it wrought alone, and ditto that for Year of the Cobra’s bold aesthetic expansions on Burn Your Dead and Shroud Eater’s droning Three Cvrses, but every time I heard Jeff Martin singing “Pathfinder,” I knew it was Lo-Pan’s year and all doubt left my mind. Of course, for the Ohio four-piece, In Tensions is something of a one-off with the departure already of guitarist Adrian Zambrano, but I still have high hopes for their next record. It would be hard not to.

The top five is rounded out by Stubb’s extended jam/single “Burning Moon,” which was a spacey delight and new ground for them to cover. The self-titled debut EP from Philly psych rockers Canyon, which they’ve already followed up, is next. I haven’t had the chance to hear the new one yet, but Canyon hit a sweet spot of psychedelia and heavy garage that made me look forward to how they might develop, so I’ll get there sooner or later. Solace’s return was nothing to balk at with their cassingle “Bird of Ill Omen” and the Sabbath cover with which they paired it, and though Kings Destroy weirded out suitably on the 14-minute single-song EP None More, I hear even greater departures are in store with their impending fourth LP, currently in progress.

A couple former bandmates of mine feature in Tarpit Boogie in guitarist George Pierro and bassist John Eager, and both are top dudes to be sure, but even if we didn’t have that history, it would be hard to ignore the tonal statement they made on their Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam EP. If you didn’t hear it, go chase it down on Bandcamp. Speaking of statements, Supersonic Blues’ Supersonic Blues Theme 7″ was a hell of an opening salvo of classic boogie that I considered to be one of the most potential-laden offerings of the year. Really. Such warmth to their sound, but still brimming with energy in the most encouraging of ways. Another one that has to be heard to be believed.

The dudes are hardly newcomers, but Grief offshoot Come to Grief sounded pretty fresh — and raw — on their The Worst of Times EP, and the Massachusetts extremists check in right ahead of fellow New Englangers Rope Trick, who are an offshoot themselves of drone experimentalists Queen Elephantine. Red Tape was a demo in the demo tradition, and pretty formative sounding, but seemed to give them plenty of ground on which to develop their aesthetic going forward, and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that.

Eternal Black gave a much-appreciated preview of their Bleed the Days debut long-player with Live at WFMU and earned bonus points for recording it at my favorite radio station, while Argentine trio IAH probably went under a lot of people’s radar with their self-titled EP but sent a fervent reminder that that country’s heavy scene is as vibrant as ever. Boston-based psych/indie folk outfit Bong Wish were just the right combination of strange, melodic and acid-washed to keep me coming back to their self-titled EP on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, and as Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass debuted his new project Rattlesnake with the Outlaw Boogie demo, the consistency of his songcraft continued to deliver a classic feel. Another one to watch out for going into the New Year.

I wasn’t sure if it was fair to include Hollow Leg’s Murder or not since it wound up getting paired with a special release of their latest album, but figured screw it, dudes do good work and no one’s likely to yell about their inclusion here. If you want to quibble, shoot me a comment and quibble away. Mars Red Sky only released Myramyd on vinyl — no CD, no digital — and I never got one, but heard a private stream at one point and dug that enough to include them here anyway. They remain perennial favorites.

Avon, who have a new record out early in 2018 on Heavy Psych Sounds, delivered one of the year’s catchiest tracks with the “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” single. I feel like I’ve had that song stuck in my head for the last two months, mostly because I have. And Wretch may or may not be defunct at this point — I saw word that drummer Chris Gordon was leaving the band but post that seems to have disappeared now, so the situation may be in flux — but their three-songer Bastards Born EP was a welcome arrival either way. They round out the top 20 because, well, doom. Would be awesome to get another LP out of them, but we’ll see I guess.

One hopes that nothing too egregious was left off, but one again, if there’s something you feel like should be here that isn’t, please consider the invitation to leave a comment open and let me know about it. Hell, you know what? Give me your favorites either way, whether you agree with this list or not. It’s list season, do it up. I know there’s the Year-End Poll going, and you should definitely contribute to that if you haven’t, but what was your favorite EP of the year? The top five? Top 10? I’m genuinely curious. Let’s talk about it.

Whether you have a pick or not (and I hope you do), thanks as always for reading. May the assault of short releases continue unabated in 2018 and beyond.

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Void King and Boudain Touring Europe this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

You’re just going to have to take my word for it when I say I don’t mean this as condescendingly as it might sound: but I think it’s fucking awesome that Void King and Boudain are teaming up for European tour dates. Seriously. If either band winds up seeing this post, good for you guys. Way to live the fucking dream, get off your asses and make it happen.

The Indiana and Louisiana-based acts will head out beginning in Den Haag on Oct. 26 and make their way around Belgium and Germany en route to Kampen, back in the Netherlands, for the Off the Record Festival on Nov. 4. No question the fest is the occasion/impetus behind the tour, since both bands head abroad supporting 2016 releases that came out through Off the Record Label, and while it’s not the longest run, and they’re not the biggest bands in the world, for every US-based group I’ve ever had talk to me about how perfect life would be if only they could get over to Europe and do shows, it’s awesome to see two bands actually putting it together like this. Warms my heart. I mean it.

Info from the PR wire:

void-king-boudain-tour-poster

VOID KING / BOUDAIN to Launch European Tour in October

Indiana’s VOID KING and Louisiana’s BOUDAIN will embark on a European Tour in late October. The Stoner Rock Double Threat will perform in The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, including Kampen’s (NL) Off The Record Festival. Tour dates are below.

Oct. 26 – The Hague, Netherlands @ Vereniging de vinger
Oct. 27 – Wommelgem, Belgium @ JH Wommel
Oct. 28 – Antwerp, Belgium @ Kid’s Rhythm ‘n Blues Kaffee
Oct. 29 – Osnabrük, Germany @ Dirty Dancing
Nov. 2 – Gouda, Netherlands @ StudioGonz
Nov. 3 – Arnhem, Netherlands @ Brigant
Nov. 4 – Kampen, Netherlands @ Off The Record Festival

If there is nothing, as we have long suspected, then let the Void take us there. Let the volume of the oncoming storm compel us forward, into what can only be considered to be our one true calling; to praise the riff.

Void King is:
Derek Felix – drums
Chris Carroll – bass guitar.
Jason Kindred – voice.
Tommy Miller – electric guitar.

BOUDAIN’s Way of the Hoof is a storm of Space, Pork, and Riffs! Recorded at SpaceLab 420 studios, the follow-up to the band’s 2013 EP is perfect for anyone who enjoys the kind of groove that makes you want to smoke out, grill out, and chill with the swine.

Boudain is:
Brian Lenard – guitar
Chris Porter – bass/vocals
David Karakash – guitars
Stephen Jester – drums

http://voidking.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/voidkingband/
twitter.com/_VoidKing
https://boudain.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/boudainla/
https://twitter.com/Boudainmusic

Void King, There is Nothing (2016)

Boudain, Way of the Hoof (2016)

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Wretch Release New EP Bastards Born

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

wretch

Indianapolis trio Wretch released arguably last year’s best debut of pure, unadulterated doom in their self-titled first full-length (review here), and their new follow-up EP finds them well within their rights in directly acknowledging the band’s lineage in guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon‘s prior outfit, The Gates of Slumber, from whose 2011 swansong, The Wretch (review here), they take their moniker.

They do so across the three tracks of Bastards Born, which was recorded by James Atkinson of Gentlemans Pistols this Spring concurrent to a UK tour with Iron Void that followed Wretch‘s appearance in the Netherlands for Roadburn 2017 (review here), and across the two covers “The Wretch” and “Bastards Born,” Simon, drummer Chris Gordon and bassist Bryce Clark tie the two outfits together in morose fashion, leaving room for a low-end-led jam at the close called “Bassment Dweller” that’s both shorter and more uptempo than either of the plodders before it, but serves effectively to emphasize that even as Wretch look to their roots, they’re committed to moving forward in developing their own identity as well.

Issued through Bad Omen Records in memoriam to former The Gates of Slumber bassist Jason McCash and drummer J. “Cool Clyde” ParadisBastards Born is up now on Bandcamp as a name-your-price download with proceeds going to the organizations listed below. Dig it:

wretch bastards born

Wretch – Bastards Born EP

Those familiar with the history of Wretch will know that the band is born out or the ashes of vocalist / guitarist Karl Simon’s previous outfit The Gates of Slumber, even taking its name from the title track of their final release ‘The Wretch’.

Sadly, of the three band members who played on ‘The Wretch’ album only Simon is still with us, with both Jason McCash & J. “Cool” Clyde Paradis losing the battle to overcome their demons in 2014 & 2016 respectively.

This E.P. contains two compositions from ‘The Wretch’ (“Bastards Born” & “The Wretch” itself) re-worked by Wretch at sessions that took place in April 2017 in Leeds, England, with engineer James Atkinson (he of Gentlemans Pistols fame) behind the desk. The third cut “Bassment Dweller” is an instrumental, which shows the dexterity of Bryce Clarke on the four string motherfucker.

You can pay what you want for ‘Bastards Born’ and we will pay though all money received from your purchase to the US arm of the Amy Whitehouse Foundation, set up to prevent drug and alcohol misuse among young people and help the most vulnerable to reach their full potential, and the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition.

1. The Wretch 08:23
2. Bastards Born 06:41
3. Bassment Dweller 03:21

Released July 12, 2017.

Recorded by James Atkinson. Mastered by Terry Waker at Tonalex Mastering. Artwork by Branca Studio.

https://www.facebook.com/Wretch-469537983166326/
https://wretchdoom.bandcamp.com/
https://badomenrecords.bandcamp.com/

Wretch, Bastards Born EP (2017)

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