Humulus Set Feb. 28 Release for The Deep

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

On about a daily basis, I run into promo copy about records that tries to, at least in some way, sell the product. That’s what it’s ultimately about, right? Even a name-your-price download is competing against an entire universe of distraction for someone’s limited attention, so yeah. One way or the other, we’re all complicit in the big capitalist slaughterhouse. So. That said, there are few things I see that I find as genuinely encouraging about a record than what you see in the quote below from drummer Massimiliano Boventi, who explains that Humulus set out to write shorter songs for their new album, The Deep, and wound up doing exactly the opposite.

To be clear, I’m all about bands consciously trying to bring new ideas and dynamics to their work. It’s how progression happens much of the time, and it keeps creative people interested in the creative process. What’s great about the below, however, is that when the material let the players know what it wanted to be, they went with it, took the songs in their more natural direction, and put the record together the way the record needed to be put together. They didn’t force it, in other words. A band being recognize that let the material develop as it will is pivotal.

The Deep is out Feb. 28 through Kozmik Artifactz. Preorders are up now:

humulus the deep

Italian Heavy-Stoner Rockers, Humulus, Return With New Record ‘The Deep’

It is with great pride that we can finally announce our first Kozmik release of 2020!

Beer-loving Italian rockers, Humulus, return with mighty new album “The Deep” out 28th of February on vinyl and CD on Kozmik Artifactz.

Speaking of the new record, drummer Massimiliano Boventi said:

“The title will be “The Deep”. We started working on this record less or more one year ago between tours and gigs around … one fun fact: when we met the first time for taking decisions about the direction of the new songs we said like “let’s try to compose shorter songs”, maybe just for make something easier to listen for more people … so not too much later the first 2 songs were ready, the first was 9 minutes long the second 15 minutes – so in a totally spontaneous and natural way we realized that this is our direction … we love to jam and make different atmosphere during our rehearsal and the result is that we can’t cut our songs. So I can say the one of the detail of the new record is that more than in the previous one songs are more and more a mix between doom and stoner rock riffs and psychedelic and trippy atmospheres.”

The Deep will be released on limited edition heavyweight vinyl 7 CD on the 28th of February on Kozmik Artifactz.

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high performance vinyl at Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Devil’s Peak (We Eventually Eluded Death)
2. Gone Again
3. Hajra
4. Into The Heart
Of The Volcano Sun
5. Lunar Queen
6. Sanctuary III – The Deep

Humulus are:
Andrea Van Cleef – Guitar/Vocals
Giorgio – Bass
Massimiliano – Drums

www.facebook.com/humulusband
www.humulus.bandcamp.com
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Humulus, Reverently Heading into Nowhere (2017)

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Review: Spacetrucker & Mr. Bison, Turned to Stone Chapter 1 – Enter Galactic Wasteland Split

Posted in Reviews on January 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Turned to Stone Chapter 1 Spacetrucker Mr Bison

On a level of ambition, a series of split releases is second perhaps only to a series of compilations in terms of the massive amount of work that is involved in coordination. Most ‘Vol. 1’-type outings do not get to ‘Vol. 2.’ An exception to this rule was Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy, which, though its title wanted for generational context (the heavy ’10s were at least the third coming), was a deeply admirable 10-installment series that brought bands into the Ripple fold who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the exposure while staying tied together through artwork as well as the titular presentation. It allowed the label to expand its reach and had a curated, carefully-picked sensibility behind it.

Those 10 offerings were not haphazard. Ripple would hope to bring the same mindset to Turned to Stone, a new series that essentially picks up where The Second Coming of Heavy left off. I guess they’re gluttons for punishment when it comes to logistics? There’s no end-figure stated for Turned to Stone so far as I know — that is, they haven’t said “10 and done” as they did with the prior series — but however far it ends up going, its first installment, the full and somewhat cumbersome title of which is Ripple Music Presents: Turned to Stone Chapter 1 – Mr. Bison & Spacetrucker: Enter Galactic Wasteland, already crosses continental borders in bringing together its component acts.

From Pisa, Italy, come the trio Mr. Bison, whose moniker continues to immediately touch of Gen-X nostalgia for the lost hours of my youth playing Street Fighter II, and from St. Louis, Missouri, the three-piece Spacetrucker, whose three tracks run across side B in deceptively atmospheric fashion. The two bands are complementary in some ways, contrasting in others, but one suspects that’s the idea, and like most landscapes described as a wasteland, one finds the LP’s 38-minute run not at all void of life, but a vital ecosystem of heavy rock and roll that helps to demonstrate just how multifaceted the genre has become.

Mr. Bison don’t make it through the seven-minute “The Grace of Time” before they break out the organ and work in elements of psychedelia and classic prog — and that’s just fine. There are shades of Golden Void in the dramatic arrival of organ amid the guitar, bass and drums, but I wouldn’t call the all-Matteo lineup of guitarist/vocalists Matteo Barsacchi and Matteo Sciocchetto and drummer Matteo D’Ignazi overly derivative. Rather, the drift they inject into moments like the opening stretches of “The Stranger” and “Oracle Prophecy,” which builds as it moves forward, receding in the middle only to surge again at the conclusion in not-unforeseeable but still exciting and progressive fashion.

Their 2018 album, Holy Oak (review here), was like-minded in its somewhat deceptive approach, appearing simpler on the surface than it actually was, and as Barsacchi and Sciocchetto arrange vocals here, layering solos and effects all the while to create a sense of swirl as “Oracle Prophecy” comes to a head, the impression is that the band have obviously continued to solidify and become more assured of their approach. This creative next step is, of course, the ideal, though I don’t actually know how long ago the songs were recorded.

Either way, that Mr. Bison would leave one feeling like the band is making forward progress is, indeed, forward progress, and as their three inclusions are longer than those of Spacetrucker by about four minutes, running 21 minutes, their time only seems to be well-spent in setting up an atmosphere and flow. Listening digitally, this flow is immediately, strikingly contrasted by the shift in production value to Spacetrucker‘s three tracks, which are rawer and more directly fuzz-driven. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Owen, bassist/vocalist Rob Wagoner and drummer/multipadder Del Toro present a ready charge in the five-and-a-half-minute “Nosedive,” eschewing the proggier aspects of their side A counterparts in favor of a more direct attack.

That’s not to say that “Nosedive” or the subsequent instrumental “Distant Earth,” which is the longest track on the release at 7:56, don’t have a sense of atmosphere, just that said atmosphere is more based around the sheer punch of what they do. And when the low-end on “Distant Earth” kicks in there’s no shortage of punch to be had. “Distant Earth” resolves itself in some prog-metal-style chugging completed by a chiming bell, and then moves into a solo before rounding out in similar rhythmic terrain, an impressive more-than-jam that’s fluid if less sonically lush than some of what appeared on the split’s first half. Spacetrucker round out with the shorter “King Cheeto,” an early-Fu Manchu-style fuzz punker that revives some of the more aggressive thrust of “Nosedive” and finishes in a satisfying rush of noise and cut momentum. If that’s what being turned to stone sounds like, then so be it.

In terms of what ties the two bands together, aside from the basic umbrella of “heavy” that is horoscope-vague enough to be applicable on all counts, there’s an undercurrent of stylistic depth shared by Spacetrucker and Mr. Bison that comes through in different contexts, but is there just the same. Spacetrucker are not unaffected by Truckfighters-esque energy, but like Mr. Bison before them, they seem to be engaged in the project of internalizing their influences in order to craft their own sound from them.

In that case, the sheer thrust and rawness of production works for them, standing them out from Mr. Bison and adding to their own take, which doesn’t necessarily shy away from aggression. As Ripple Music stares down the prospect of this new series, one wonders just what will emerge from Turned to Stone. Standing astride The Second Coming of Heavy helped the label become among the foremost purveyors of American underground heavy rock and found them increasingly branching out in aesthetic. If Turned to Stone furthers that mission, it can only be considered a worthy cause.

[Clarification: The digital version of the release lists Mr. Bison as the first band, where on vinyl it’s Spacetrucker on side A. Apologies for any confusion this causes.]

Spacetrucker & Mr. Bison, Turned to Stone Chapter 1 – Enter Galactic Wasteland (2020)

Spacetrucker on Thee Facebooks

Spacetrucker on Bandcamp

Mr. Bison on Thee Facebooks

Mr. Bison on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Instagram

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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Black Rainbows Finish Recording New Album; Announce Bassist Departure; Repress Pandaemonium

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 14th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Much ado in the ever-whirling universe of Roman heavy spacers Black Rainbows, who’ve not only issued new pressings of their 2018 LP, Pandaemonium (review here), but have announced that their next album is already in the can. Doneski. I don’t know about you, but I anxiously await the news of a release coming through Heavy Psych Sounds any minute now, since as we all know, Black Rainbows aren’t ones to waste time. To that end, they’re currently booked to play three editions of the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest in March in Antwerp, Belgium, London, UK and Deventer, the Netherlands, as well as a couple other odds and ends this Spring.

Only snag there is they’ll need a new bassist to do it, as they’ve put out word that Giuseppe Guglielmino is no longer with the band. They’ve got an email listed where one might apply for the position, and though they’ve been through a couple low-end specialists at this point, that still seems like a pretty primo opportunity for any four-stringer out there who wants to join an awesome touring band with a following. Talk about stepping into a cool situation. Anyway, the email’s below, and if you play bass and were thinking about moving to Rome — aren’t we all? — then you might want to drop a line.

Words in blue from thee social medias:

black rainbows

We’re very sorry to announce that Peppe, our bassplayer is no longer a member of Black Rainbows:

Unfortunately our life and band plans were not matching anymore.

We really thanks Peppe for everything done so far and happy we shared this path together until now:

Anyway, we care about to say that he recorded the new album, which we are so proud to present really soon!

In the meantime we are looking for a new bass player in our area, if you think you can fit in the band …write at infoblackrainbows@gmail.com

Today we want to celebrate the repress of the BLACK RAINBOWS last album PANDAEMONIUM with 2 new different covers and coloured vinyls !!!

GRAB YOUR COPY HERE:
https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS073v2
or
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/

USA MARKET via All That is Heavy:
https://allthatisheavy.com/

AVAILABLE IN:
– LTD YELLOW SPLATTER BLACK / GREEN FLUO / RED
VINYL (WHITE COVER)
– LTD GREEN FLUO VINYL (GREEN COVER)
– DIGIPAK

“Well after one and half year, we just realized that our dear last album Pandaemonium was sold out!! We went to pick copies for the tour and some single orders and we realized copies were finished! We are so excited to repress it and it will be an amazing repress cause of two new different covers and vinyl editions. We want to thanks all the people who supported us buying the album so fa.r”

http://www.theblackrainbows.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BLACKRAINBOWSROCK/
http://blackrainbows.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/

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Ufomammut Announce Indefinite Hiatus

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Ufomammut have gone on hiatus, and the question I keep coming back to is whether or not the band had run their course. For those unaware — who likely aren’t reading this anyway because if you don’t know the band you’re probably not interested in their breaking up, but stay with me — the Italian three-piece of bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Urlo, guitarist/keyboardist Poia and drummer Vita formed in 1999 and would go on to serve as progenitors of a movement one can now refer to as cosmic doom largely because of the work they did in shaping it. Their blend of psychedelia and crushing rhythm and tone remains largely unmatched in the known universe, and if you think their innovation ends with “they play doom with keyboards,” I wholeheartedly invite you to partake of 2010’s Eve (review here, also discussed here) and eat your words. And just in case you click either of those links, I’ll prepare you: there are few records I’ve lauded as voraciously on this site, and I stand by every word of that hyperbole.

The band say in their statement that they’re not done, despite Vita leaving, but that they’re stepping back after this 20-year run to reassess and regroup, figuratively and literally. Best wishes to them for that, of course, but going back to the initial question, I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that they had nothing more to say. I’ll say outright that nothing they’ve done since has hit me in the same impact as Eve — whether it was 2017’s 8 (review here), 2015’s Ecate (review here) or 2012’s two-parter, Oro: Opus Primum (review here) and Oro: Opus Alter (review here) — but honestly, few records have by anyone else either. But Ufomammut have never stopped moving forward creatively, and even the manner in which they marked their 20th anniversary, with the XX EP (review here) and box set, found them bringing new ideas to their past work, reinventing it in an even more atmospheric context.

And that’s what makes me say no to the above question and, in particular, what makes me interested in where Ufomammut might go when this hiatus ends, which, again, they say it will, despite its “indefinite” nature. The fact that they’ve never done anything but build on their past. I’m not blind to the fact that this will be the first lineup change involving what was the core trio of the band for two decades, and nor will I minimize Vita‘s contributions to the personality of the group — he can still be heard in Sonic Wolves and Rogue State — but what does a post-hiatus Ufomammut sound like? Where does that scope go? My guess is forward.

The band’s statement follows:

UFOMAMMUT photo by Francesca De Franceschi Manzoni

After twenty years, Ufomammut is pausing for a while, the time has come to turn off amplifiers and let the tubes cool down, to let the silence allow us to rebuild, and then start again.

This decision comes to the end of an intense and difficult period of problems and misunderstandings that none of us has been able to solve and overcome, after which Vita decided to leave the band.

We thank him for sharing with us twenty incredible years of creation, recordings, tours and concerts, of uncompromising music, sacrifices and great satisfactions.

Started in February 1999, it’s been a journey in which we have been lucky enough to create our music and to tour all around the world to play it, as well as the honor of sharing the stage with our favorite bands.

It’s been an opportunity that made us understand that this band is not only the three guys on stage, but also YOU.

YOU made us live through emotions which we would have not experienced otherwise.

YOU, that have shared with us the sound and the power of this religion without boundaries and ideology, that is music.

YOU, that all are, simply, Ufomammut.

Thank You.

And see you soon.

www.ufomammut.com
https://ufomammut.8merch.com/
www.facebook.com/ufomammutband
www.instagram.com/ufomammut
http://www.supernaturalcat.com

Ufomammut, 8 (2017)

Ufomammut, Eve (2010)

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Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Nebula Drag, Nothing is Real, Lotus Thief, Uncle Woe, Cybernetic Witch Cult, Your Highness, Deep Valley Blues, Sky Shadow Obelisk, Minus Green

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Yesterday was marked by a decisive lack of productivity. I got there, don’t get me wrong, but it took friggin’ forever to make it happen. I’m obviously hoping for a different result today and tomorrow. You would think 10 records is 10 records, but some days it’s easy flowing, bounce from one to the next without any trouble, and some days you’re me sitting there wondering how many times you can get away with using the word “style” in the same post. Punishing. The saving factor was that the music was good. Amazing how often that serves as the saving factor.

Just today and tomorrow left, so let’s dive in. Lots of different kinds of releases today, so keep your ears and mind open.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Triumph and Disaster

we lost the sea triumph and disaster

There is plenty of heavy post-rock floating — and I do mean floating — around these days, spreading ethereal and contemplative vibes hither and yon, but none have the emotional weight brought to bear instrumentally by Sydney, Australia’s We Lost the Sea. Across their 65-minute 2LP, Triumph and Disaster (on Translation Loss), the six-piece band recount a wordless narrative of the aftermath of the end of the world through the eyes of a mother and child on their last day. It is a touching and beautiful flow of sentiment, regret and weight that comes through the wash of three guitars and synth, bass and drums, and though 2015’s Departure Songs (review here, discussed here) worked in a similar vein in terms of style if not story, these seven tracks and 65 minutes are wholly distinguished by a willful-seeming progression on the part of the band and a patience and poise of execution as they alternate between longer and shorter pieces that only underscores how special their work truly is. At least the apocalypse is gorgeous.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss store

 

Nebula Drag, Blud

nebula drag blud

Nothing against the progenitors of the form, but Nebula Drag seem with Blud to pull off the feat that Helmet never really could, bringing together a noise-rock derived dissonance of riff with a current of melody in the vocals and even moments of patience in the guitar to go along with the crunch of its more aggressive points. This inherently makes the Desert Records offering from the San Diego outfit a less outwardly intense affair than it might otherwise be, but songs like “Always Dying,” “Numb” and the closer “Mental” — as well as the album as a whole — are ultimately richer for it, and there’s still plenty of drive in opener “Dos Lados” and the shorter “Faces” and “What Went Wrong,” which arrive back to back on side B and lend the momentum that carries Nebula Drag through the remainder of the proceedings. It’s easy to hear to Blud superficially and pass it off as noise or heavy rock or this or that, but Nebula Drag earn and reward deeper listens in kind.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Desert Records on Bandcamp

 

Nothing is Real, Pain is Joy

nothing is real pain is joy

Los Angeles oppressive and misanthropic noise project Nothing is Real manifested some of the harshest sounds I heard in 2019 on Only the Wicked are Pure (review here), and the just-months-later follow-up, Pain is Joy, reminds of the constant sensory assault under which we all seem to live. Across five extended tracks of increased production value — still raw, just not as raw — the band seems to be forming a coherent philosophical perspective in “Existence is Pain,” the guest-vocalized “Realms of Madness,” “Life is but a Dream,” “Pain is Joy,” and “We Must Break Free,” but if there’s a will to explain the punishment that is living, there’s not much by way of answer forthcoming in the sludgy riffing, grinding onslaught and surprising solo soar of “We Must Break Free,” instrumental as it is. Still, the fact that Pain is Joy allows for the possibility of joy to exist at all, in any form, ever, distinguishes it from its predecessor, and likewise the clearer sound and cogent expressive purpose. A focused attack suits Nothing is Real. I have the feeling it won’t be long before we find out where it takes the band next.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Lotus Thief, Oresteia

lotus thief Oresteia

If the name Oresteia isn’t immediately familiar, maybe “Agamemnon” will give some hint. San Francisco’s Lotus Thief, with their third full-length and second for Prophecy Productions, not only bring together progressive black metal, post-rock and drama-laced doom, but do so across eight-tracks and 38 minutes summarizing a 5th century Greek tragedy written in three parts. Ambitious? Yes. Successful? I’ll claim zero familiarity with the text itself, but for the eight-minute “Libation Bearers” alone — never mind any of the other immersive, beautiful wash the band emits throughout — I’m sure glad they’re engaging with it. Ambient stretches like “Banishment” and “Woe” and the barely-there “Reverence” add further character to the proceedings, but neither are “The Furies,” “Agamemnon,” “Sister in Silence” or subdued-but-tense closer “The Kindly Ones” lacking for atmosphere. Oresteia is grim, theatrical, stylistically forward-thinking and gorgeous. A perfect, perfect, perfect winter record.

Lotus Thief website

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Uncle Woe, Our Unworn Limbs

Uncle Woe Our Unworn Limbs

Chugging, sprawling, and most of all reaching, the late-2019 debut LP, Our Unworn Limbs, from Ontario as-yet-solo-outfit Uncle Woe — composed, performed and recorded by Rain Fice — is one of marked promise, taking elements of modern progressive and cosmic doom from the likes of YOB‘s subtly angular riffing style and unfolding them across an emotionally resonant but still manageable 43-minute span. The stomp in “That’s How They Get You” is duly oppressive in following the opener “Son of the Queen,” but with the one-minute experiment “When the Night Fell Pt. 2” and jagged but harmonized “Mania for Breaking” ahead of 15-minute closer “Push the Blood Back In,” the record’s tumult and triumphs are presented with character and a welcome feeling of exploration. I would expect over time that the melodic basis and vocal presence Fice demonstrates in “Mania for Breaking” will continue to grow, but both are already significant factors in the success of that song and the album surrounding it, the first 20-plus minutes of which is spent mired in “Son of the Queen” and “That’s How They Get You,” as early proof of the sure controlling hand at the helm of the project. May it continue to be so.

Uncle Woe on Thee Facebooks

Uncle Woe on Bandcamp

 

Cybernetic Witch Cult, Absurdum ad Nauseam

cybernetic witch cult absurdam ad nauseam

Guitarist/vocalist Alex Wyld, bassist Doug MacKinnon and drummer Lewis May have processed the world around them and translated it into a riffy course of sci-fi and weirdo semi-prog thematics across Absurdum ad Nauseam. What else to call such a thing? At eight songs and 52 minutes, it stands astride the lines between heavy rock and doom and sludge in lengthier pieces like “The Cetacean,” “The Ivory Tower” and the finale “Hypercomputer Part 2,” yet when it comes to picking out discernible influences, one has to result to generalizations like Black Sabbath and Acrimony, the latter in the rolling largesse of “Spice” and “The Myth of Sisyphus” later on in the outing and the vocal effects there particularly, but neither is enough to give a sense of what Cybernetic Witch Cult are actually about in terms of the modernity of their approach and the it’s-okay-we-know-what-we’re-doing-just-trust-us vibe they bring as they rush through “Cromagnonaut” after the intro and “Hypercomputer Part 1.” I’m inclined to just go with it, which should tell you something in itself about the band’s ability to carry their listener through. They earn that trust.

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Bandcamp

 

Your Highness, Your Highness

Your Highness Your Highness

Heavy blues meets heavy metal on Your Highness‘ self-titled and self-released third album, collecting eight tracks that divide evenly across two sides of an LP, each half ending with a longer piece, whether it’s “Black Fever” (9:00) on side A or “Kin’s Blood” (14:14) on side B. Through these, in full-throttle movements like opener “Devil’s Delight” and “Rope as a Gift” and in nestled-in groovers like “The Flood” and “To Wood and Stone,” Your Highness don’t shy away from bringing a sense of atmosphere to their material, but maintain a focus on burl, gruffness and tonal weight, an aggressive undercurrent in a song like “Born Anew” — the riff to which is nonetheless particularly bluesy — being emblematic of the perspective on display throughout. It moves too fleetly to ever be considered entirely sludge, but Your Highness‘ 51-minute span is prone to confrontation just the same, and its ferocious aspects come to a head in satisfying fashion as the wash of crash pays off “Kin’s Blood,” shouts cutting through en route to a finish of acoustic guitar that lands as a reminder to release the breath you’ve been holding the whole time. Heavy stuff? Why yes, it is.

Your Highness on Thee Facebooks

Your Highness on Bandcamp

 

Deep Valley Blues, Demonic Sunset

Deep Valley Blues Demonic Sunset

Italy’s fervor for stoner rock is alive and well as represented in Demonic Sunset, the eight-song/34-minute debut full-length from Catanzaro’s Deep Valley Blues. Their sound works out to be more heavy rock than the desert one might imagine given the album cover, but that influence is still there, if beefed up tonally by guitarists Alessandro Morrone and Umberto Arena (the latter also backing vocals), bassist/vocalist Giando Sestito and drummer Giorgio Faini, whose fluid turns between propulsion and swing enable a song like “Dana Skully” to come together in its verse/chorus transitions. The penultimate nine-minute “Tired to Beg For” is an outlier among more straight-ahead songwriting, but they use the time well and close with the acoustic-led “Empire,” an encouraging showcase of sonic breadth to follow up on the start of “Lust Vegas” and a widening of the melodic range that one hopes Deep Valley Blues push further on subsequent releases. Centered around issues of mental health in terms of its lyrics, if somewhat vaguely, Demonic Sunset is a first LP that extends its focus to multiple levels while still keeping its feet on the ground in a way that will be familiar to experienced genre heads.

Deep Valley Blues on Thee Facebooks

Deep Valley Blues on Bandcamp

 

Sky Shadow Obelisk, The Satyr’s Path

sky shadow obelisk the satyrs path

You can toss a coin as to whether Sky Shadow Obelisk are death-doom or doom-death, but as you do, just keep an eye on the bludgeoning doled out by the solo-project of Rhode Island-based composer Peter Scartabello on his latest EP, The Satyr’s Path, because it is equal parts thorough and ferocious. Flourish of keys and melody adds a progressive edge to the proceedings across the five-track release, particularly in its two instrumentals, the centerpiece “Ouroboros” and the first half of closer “Shadow of Spring,” but amid the harnessed madness of “Chain of Hephaestus” — which from its lyrics I can only think of as a work song — and the one-two of “The Serpent’s Egg” and the title-track early on, those moments of letup carry a tension of mood that even the grand finish in “Shadow of Spring” seems to acknowledge. It’s been since 2015 that Scartabello last offered up a Sky Shadow Obelisk full-length. He shows enough scope here to cover an album’s worth of ground, but on the most basic level, I’d take more if it was on offer.

Sky Shadow Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

Yuggoth Records on Bandcamp

 

Minus Green, Equals Zero

Minus Green Equals Zero

Following up on a 2015 self-titled the material on Minus Green‘s sophomore album, Equals Zero, would seem to have at least in part been kicking around for a couple years, as the closer here, “Durial” (11:22) was released in a single version in 2016. Fair enough. If the other three cuts, opener “Primal” (9:58), “00” (11:51) and the penultimate “Kames” (10:08), have also been developed over that span, the extra rumination wouldn’t seem to have harmed them at all — they neither feel overthought to a point of staleness nor lack anything in terms of the natural vibe that their style of progressive instrumentalist heavy psychedelia warrants. The procession unfolds as a cleanly-structured LP with two songs per side arranged shorter-into-longer, and their sound is duly immersive to give an impression of exploration underway without being entirely jam-based in their structure. That is, listening to “00,” one gets the feeling it’s headed somewhere, which, fortunately it is. Where it and the record surrounding go ultimately isn’t revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but it is well performed and more than suitable for repeat visits. Contrary to the impression they might seek to give, it amounts to more than nothing.

Minus Green on Thee Facebooks

Kerberos Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: Mos Generator, Psychic Lemon, Planet of Zeus, Brass Hearse, Mother Turtle, The Legendary Flower Punk, Slow, OKO, Vug, Ultracombo

Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to hope y’all know the drill by now. It’s the Quarterly Review. We do it (roughly) every quarter. The idea is 10 reviews per day for a Monday to Friday span, running 50 total. I sometimes do more. Sometimes not. Kind of depends on the barrage and how poorly I’ve been doing in general with keeping up on stuff. This time is ‘just’ 50, so there you go. You’ll see some bigger names this week and some stuff that’s come my way of late that I’ve been digging and wanting to check out. It’s a lot of rock, which I like, and a few things I’m writing about basically as a favor to myself because, you know, self-care and all that.

But staring down the barrel of 50 reviews over the next few days has me as apprehensive and how-the-hell-is-this-gonna-happen as ever, so I think I’ll just get to it and jump in. No time to waste.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Mos Generator, Exiles

mos generator exiles

Worth it just for the Sabbath cover? Most definitely. As Mos Generator take on “Air Dance” from Never Say Die as part of the Glory or Death Records LP compilation release, Exiles, they blend the proggy swagger of later-’70s Iommi leads with the baseline acoustic guitar fluidity that makes those final Ozzy-era records so appealing in hindsight. It’s just one of the six reasons to take on Exiles however. The A side comprises three outtakes from 2018’s Shadowlands (review here), and guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed‘s Big Scenic Nowhere bandmate Bob Balch sits in on “Battah,” while a duly manic reworking of Van Halen‘s “Light up the Sky,” the Black Sabbath track and a live version of Rush‘s “Anthem” from 2016 make up side B. It’s a quick listen and it’s Mos Generator. It may be a stopgap on the way to whatever they’re doing next, but if you think about it, so is everything, and that’s no reason not to jump in either for the covers or the originals, both of which are up to the band’s own high standard of output.

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Psychic Lemon, Freak Mammal

psychic lemon freak mammal

The distorted wails of Andy Briston‘s guitar echo out of Freak Mammal — the five-track/46-minute third LP from London’s Psychic Lemon — like a clarion to the lysergic converted. A call to prayer for those worshiping the nebulous void, not so much kept to earth by Andy Hibberd‘s bass and Martin Law‘s drums as given a solidified course toward the infinite far out. Of course centerpiece “Afrotropic Bomb” digs into some Ethiopian groove — that particular shuffling mania — and I won’t take away from the lower buzz of “Free Electron Collective” or the tense hi-hat cutting through all that tonal wash or the ultra-spaced blowout that caps six-minute finale “White Light,” but give me the self-aware mellower jaunt that is the 13-minute second track “Seeds of Tranquility” any day, following opener “Dark Matter” as it does with what would be a blissful drift but for the exciting rhythmic work taking place beneath the peaceful guitar, and the later synthesized voices providing a choral melody that seems all the more playfully grandiose, befitting the notion of Freak Mammal as a ceremony or at very least some kind of lost ritual. Someday they’ll dig up the right pyramid and call the aliens back. Until then, Psychic Lemon let us imagine what might happen after they return.

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Drone Rock Records website

 

Planet of Zeus, Faith in Physics

PLANET OF ZEUS FAITH IN PHYSICS

There’s a context of social commentary to Planet of ZeusFaith in Physics that makes one wonder if perhaps the title doesn’t refer to gravity in terms of what-goes-up-must-come-down as it might apply to class hierarchy. The mighty, ready to fall, and so on. Songs like the post-Clutch fuzz roller “Man vs. God” and “Revolution Cookbook” (video premiere here) would seem to support that idea, but one way or the other, as the later “Let Them Burn” digs into a hook that reminds of Killing Joke and the dense bass of eight-minute closer “King of the Circus” provides due atmospheric madness for our times, there’s a sense of grander statement happening across the album. The Athens-based outfit make a centerpiece of the starts and stops in “All These Happy People” and remind that whatever the message, the medium remains top quality heavy rock and roll songcraft, which is something they’ve become all the more reliable to deliver. The more pointed perspective than they showed on 2016’s Loyal to the Pack suits them, but it’s the nuance of electronics and arrangements of vocals and guitar on cuts like “The Great Liar” that carry them through here. If you believe in gravity, Planet of Zeus have plenty on offer.

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brass Hearse, Oneiric Afterlife

brass hearse oneiric afterlife

Experimentalist keyboard-laced psychedelic goth your thing? Well, of course it is. You’re in luck then as Brass Hearse — an offshoot of once madly prolific Boston outfit Ice Dragon — unveil three new songs (plus an intro) with the Oneiric Afterlife and in 10 minutes work to unravel about 30 years of genre convention while still tying their material to memorable hooks. “Bleed Neon,” “Indigo Dust” and “Only Forever” seem simple on the surface, and none of them touch four minutes long, let alone “A Gesture to Make a Stop,” the 26-second introduction, but their refusal of stylistic constraint is as palpable as it is admirable, with a blend of folk guitar and dark-dance-party keys and percussive insistence on “Bleed Neon” and a ’60s Halloweeny rock organ line in “Only Forever” that’s complemented by low-end fuzz and a chorus that would rightly embarrass Ghost if they heard it. In comparison, “Indigo Dust” is serene in its presentation, but even there is a depth of arrangement of keys, guitar, bass and drums, and the skill tying it all together as a cohesive sound is not to be understated. A quick listen with a lot to unpack, it’s not going to be everyone’s thing, but those who get it will be hit hard and rightly so.

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Mother Turtle, Three Sides to Every Story

mother turtle three sides to every story

The first of three tracks on Greek progwinders Mother Turtle‘s fourth LP, Three Sides to Every Story, “Zigu Zigu,” would seem to cap with a message of congratulations: “You’ve listened to three musicians indulging themselves with some kind of weird instrumental music.” It then goes on to question its own instrumentalism, because it has the words presently being spoken, continuing in this manner until a long fadeout of guitar leads to the funky start of the 15-minute-long “Notwatch.” Good fun, in other words. Mother Turtle maybe aren’t so weird as they think they are, but they are duly adventurous and obviously joyful in their undertaking, bringing chants in over drifting guitar and synth swirl in “Notwatch” before building to a crescendo of rock guitar and organ, ultimately dominated by a solo as it would almost have to be, before intertwining piano lines in 16:46 closer “A Christmas Postcard from Kim” lead to further shenanigans, vocal experimentation, plays on metal, holiday shimmer, and a fade into the close. At 38 minutes, Three Sides to Every Story doesn’t at all overstay its welcome, but neither is it an exercise looking for audience engagement in the traditional sense. Rather, it resonates its glee through its offbeat sensibility and thus works on its own level to craft a hook. One can’t help but smile while listening to the fun being had.

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Sound Effect Records website

 

The Legendary Flower Punk, Wabi Wu

The Legendary Flower Punk Wabi Wu

It is something to consider, perhaps as you dive into the nine-minute “Prince Mojito” on The Legendary Flower Punk‘s Wabi Wu, that the band started as a psych-folk solo-project. Currently working as a core trio plus a range of guests, the Russian troupe make their debut on Tonzonen with the brazenly prog seven-tracker, totaling just a 44-minute run but with a range that would seem to be much broader. Alternately jazzy and synth-laden, technically intricate but never overly showy, pieces like the bass-led “Azulejo” and the penultimate “Trance Fusion På Ryska” present a meeting of the minds with founding guitarist Kamille Sharapodinov at the center of most compositions, he and bassist Mike Lopakov and drummer Nick Kunavin digging into nothing’s-off-limits textures from fusion onward through New Wave and dub. The abiding rule followed seems to be whatever moves the band about a given track is what they roll with, and though The Legendary Flower Punk has evolved well beyond its origins, there’s still a bit of flower and still a bit of punk amid all the legends being made. Good luck keeping up with it.

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Tonzonen Records website

 

Slow, VI – Dantalion

Slow VI Dantalion

With the follow-up to 2018’s V – Oceans (review here), Belgian duo Slow rattle off another 78 minutes of utterly consuming, crushing, atmospheric and melancholic funeral doom like it’s absolutely nothing. Well, not like it’s nothing — more like it’s a weight on their very soul — but even so. Issued through Aural Music, VI – Dantlion brings the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist/drummer Déhà and bassist/lyricist Lore B. once again into the grueling, megalithic churn of self-inflicted riff-punishment that’s so encompassing, so dark, so deep and so dramatic it almost can’t help but also be beautiful. To wit, second track “Lueur” is a 17-minute downward journey into ambient brutalism, yet as it moves toward the midsection one can still hear melodic elements of keyboard and orchestral sounds peaking through. There is letup in the lush finale “Elégie,” but to get there, you have to make your way through “Incendiaire,” which is possibly the most extreme movement of the seven inclusions. Though frankly, after a while, you’re buried so far down by Slow‘s glorious miseries that it’s hard to tell. The world needs this band. They are what humanity would sound like if it was ever honest with itself.

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OKO, Haze

oko haze

Adelaide, Australia, newcomers OKO present their debut EP in the form of Haze, a 14:44 single-song outing that sees the instrumental three-piece of guitarist Nick Nancarrow, bassist Tyson Ruch and drummer Ash Matthews tap into organic heavy psych vibes while working cross-planet with Justin Pizzoferrato (known for his work with Elder, among others) on the mix and master. The resulting one-tracker has a clarity in its drum sound and clean feel that one suspects might speak of more progressive intentions on the part of OKO in the longer term, but as they are here they have a sense of tonal warmth that serves them well across the unpretentious span of “Haze” itself, the winding riff inevitably bringing to mind some of Colour Haze‘s jammier work but still managing to find its own direction. I hear no reason OKO can’t do the same, regardless of the influences they’re working under in terms of sound. Further, the longform modus suits them, and while future work will inherently develop some variety in general approach, the natural exploration they undertake on this first outing easily holds attention for its span and is fluid enough that, had they wanted, they could have pushed it further.

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OKO website

 

Vug, Onyx

vug onyx

Vug are not the first European heavy rock band to blend vintage methods with modern production. They’re not the first band to take classic swagger and drum urgency and meld it with a pervasive sense of vocal soul. I’m not sure I’d tell them that though, because frankly, they’re doing pretty well with it. At its strongest, their Tonzonen-released sophomore outing, Onyx, recalls Thin Lizzy via, yes, Graveyard, but there’s enough clarity of intention behind the work to make it plain they know where they’re coming from. Such was the case as well with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and though they’ve had some lineup turnover since that first offering, the self-produced four-piece bring a character to their material on songs like “Tired Of” and the penultimate boogier “Inferno” before closing with the acoustic “Todbringer” — a mirror of side A’s “On My Own” — that they carry the classic-style 39-minute long-player off without a hitch, seeming to prep the heavy ’10s for a journey into a new decade.

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Ultracombo, Season 1

Ultracombo Season 1

As the title hints, the Season 1 EP is the debut from Italy’s Ultracombo, and with it, the five-piece of vocalist Alessio Guarda, guitarists Alberto Biasin and Giordano Tasson, bassist Giordano Pajarin and drummer Flavio Gola work quickly to build the forward momentum that brings them front-to-back through the 23-minute five-track release. “Flusso” and opener “The King” feel particularly drawn from an earlier Truckfighters influence, but Guarda‘s vocals are a distinguishing factor amidst all that ensuing fuzz and straight-ahead drive, and in “Sparatutto” and the closer “Il Momento in Cui Non Penso,” they seem to strip their approach to its most basic aspects and bring together the tonal thickness and melodicism that’s been at root in their sound overall. The subtlety, such as it is, is to be found in their songwriting, which results in tracks that transcend language barriers through sheer catchiness. That bodes better for them on subsequent outings better than a wall o’ fuzz ever could, though of course that doesn’t hurt them either, especially their first time out.

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Little Albert Debut Album Swamp King Due in March on Aural Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Guitarist Alberto Piccolo is probably best known in heavy circles for his work with Messa, whose atmospheric and moody take on doom has found resonance with an international audience grown outward from their homebase in Treviso, Italy. Piccolo earlier this year unveiled something of an alter-ego in Little Albert, a solo-project exploring bluesy textures without some of the posturing that so, so, so often comes along with even a mere association with the style. I’ve only heard the single “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues” on Bandcamp, but putting it on was an immediate relief when Piccolo, who very clearly is not an 80-year-old Black dude, was also not trying to sound like one. There are an awful lot of players out there who can’t say the same.

The same Bandcamp page that hosts that track — you can go there if you want, but the track is streaming at the bottom here; just under the link, as it happens — makes mention of a debut EP in progress. By contrast, the announcement that follows here that Little Albert have signed to Aural Music talks about releasing a first album in March. I’m not sure if the one grew out of the other or what — I’d assume, but I don’t know that — but either way, so long as Piccolo wants to go about purveying his blues sans racialized caricature, that record’s more than welcome by me, whatever shape it might ultimately take.

The announcement is pretty light on album details, but there’s plenty of time for such things. Here’s what came down the PR wire:

little albert

LITTLE ALBERT SIGN WITH AURAL MUSIC

Little Albert is the Hard Blues project of Alberto Piccolo, lead guitarist of Scarlet Doom disciples MESSA.

The debut album is titled “Swamp King” and will be released worldwide in March 2020.

here’s what Alberto had to say: “Signing for Aural Music seemed to me the best way to give credit to the union between blues and doom permeating Little Albert project. In addition, being Aural Music Messa’s label, the collaboration was born naturally.”

Artwork, tracklist and more details will be revealed in the coming weeks.

http://www.facebook.com/littlealbertblues
https://littlealbertblues.bandcamp.com/

Little Albert, “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues”

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Zolfo Premiere “Inner Freeze” from Delusion of Negation

Posted in audiObelisk on December 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

zolfo

Italian atmosludge extremists Zolfo will release their debut album, Delusion of Negation, on Jan. 24 via Spikerot Records. More idyllic settings than the band’s hometown of Bari, on the coast of the Italian southern peninsula — the heel of the boot, as it were — are hard to come by in Europe, with buildings that look like they were carved by nature rather than man, clear water off the shore and beaches the mere sight of which makes for immediate escapist fantasies. And yet, Zolfo‘s Delusion of Negation is marked with a sense of dread and abrasive malaise, a work of noise-soaked sludge disaffection based not around the joy its surroundings might produce in the tourism trade, but a deep-running swarm of punishing caustic assault in the vein of a more riff-based Primitive Man. Following the sub-three-minute scathe-drone intro “Neural Worm,” “Inner Freeze” (7:17) unfolds with a ready declaration of the miseries to be displayed across the remainder of the album’s five-track/49-minute lurch. Perhaps the centerpiece title “Existential Prolapse” is the best summary of Zolfo‘s sound. It is an expulsion of bone as well as a spilling gut, of being as much as physicality — all the more so at the song’s maddening conclusion.

Delusion of Negation is a record that, yes, is deafeningly weighted in a post-sludge fashion, but it’s not necessarily uncontrolled. The five-piece consciously bring the listener into their material’s depths with each concurrent song, even as the outward zolfo delusion of negationimpression they seem to be wanting to make is one of repugnance. “Inner Freeze” isn’t without some melody in its midsection, grim and followed by crawling lumber and death-growls though it is, and before its cacophonous payoff, “Existential Prolapse” offers plenty of atmosphere and even a Sleep-style riff earlier on to go with all its aural flaying. Tellingly though, that song is 10:36, and it leads into the title-track and closer “The Deepest Abyss,” both of which top 14 minutes, thereby comprising more than half the album’s runtime between them. And the sense of destination as one moves through the gradual and of-burgeoning-patience “Delusion of Negation” and into the more ambient “The Deepest Abyss” is right there in the name. Zolfo are bringing the listener to a very specific place, and that place is intended to be as low as humanly possible. With a direct bleed from the ending of “Delusion of Negation” before it, “The Deepest Abyss” feels no less accurate in its self-description than did “Inner Freeze” or “Existential Prolapse,” unfolding on an long, ambient and linear path to a searing conclusive wash, nigh on claustrophobic as it is.

Forceful in its intent and destructive seemingly unto itself as well as anything in its path, Delusion of Negation is not by any means subtle in its execution or overarching purpose, but it nonetheless offers as much breadth as crush, and thereby proves all the more fascinating than it might at first appear. As a first taste, “Inner Freeze” can be heard premiering below, and though it doesn’t tell the entire story of the album, even on its own it carries that sense of bringing — dragging? — those who’d take it on down toward that eventual abyss.

In other words, enjoy:

Zolfo, “Inner Freeze” official track premiere

Pre-order: http://smarturl.it/zolfodoom

Huge riffs and loud amps proceed hand in hand with the slow-paced yet unmerciful drumming while the vocal delivery is harsh as hell, non-human at times.

After releasing their well received debut EP „Phosphene/Floaters“ in 2017, Italy’s doom heavyweights ZOLFO are about to release their first full length album „Delusion of Negation“, a crushing wall of sound now waiting to get unleashed by powerhouse label Spikerot Records! If you are into heavy tunes as Iron Monkey, Ufomammut, Bongzilla and alike, this is definitely a release not to be missed in early 2020!

Or to keep it in the words of ZOLFO: “Our firstborn represents for us an essential point of balance between the many artistic and musical entities that dwell within the band’s core, brought into our sound by each member’s previous experiences. ‘Delusion Of Negation’ is a warning for the future that urges us to experiment and evolve what we are. It’s not everyday you find insiders with the same passion and dedication as our friends at Spikerot Records, and for this reason releasing our first work with them is going to be truly gratifying.”

TRACKLIST:
1. Neural Worm
2. Inner Freeze
3. Existential Prolapse
4. Delusion Of Negation
5. The Deepest Abyss

ZOLFO is:
Dave – Vocals
Nicolò – Guitars
Fabrizio – Guitars
Saverio – Bass
Piero – Drums

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Zolfo on Bandcamp

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Spikerot Records website

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