Black Elephant Release Cosmic Blues July 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black elephant

Took me frickin’ forever to write the bio below for the Black Elephant record. Like, two months. Just ridiculous. I finally banged it out after I got back from Planet Roadburn last month, but yeah, it was embarrassingly long in the making. Not the record’s fault by any means. You can hear in opening track “Cosmic Soul” that the Italian outfit have their game together on their third record, Cosmic Blues, so yeah, the lag was all on my end. Turns out I just suck. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Lehman, was right all along.

Second grade was a real killer.

Anyhoozle, Black Elephant‘s Cosmic Blues, complete with a bio by yours truly, is out July 20 and available now to preorder from the ultra-venerable Small Stone Records. The PR wire brings release info, art, and some familiar words — which is doubly fortunate, since the document with the bio was on my stolen laptop. “Hooray for cloud backups,” he said far too late.

I just made myself sad twice in the span of one post. Quitting while behind:

black elephant cosmic blues

BLACK ELEPHANT: Psychedelic Fuzz Rock Unit To Release Cosmic Blues Full-Length Via Small Stone This July; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Italian psychedelic fuzz rock unit BLACK ELEPHANT will release their third full-length, and first under the Small Stone Records banner, titled Cosmic Blues, this July.

One would be hard-pressed to come up with a better descriptor for BLACK ELEPHANT’s Cosmic Blues full-length than the title of the album itself. Based in Savona, Italy, the four-piece have conjured ghosts of ’70s heavy fuzz and ’90s riff mongering offering up a sonic brew that’s both potent and thoroughly modern. Cosmic Blues follows 2014’s Bifolchi Inside and 2012’s Spaghetti Cowboys (get it?) and marks their debut on Small Stone Records. Comprised of lead vocalist/lead guitarist Alessio Caravelli, rhythm guitarist Massimiliano Giacosa, bassist Marcello Destefanis, and drummer Simone Brunzu, BLACK ELEPHANT makes their mark in their home country’s booming heavy rock underground with memorable songs and a sound that’s just as comfortable getting funky on “Chase Me” as it is reimagining Soundgarden as a riff rock outfit à la peak-era Dozer, rolling out huge grooves en route to “Cosmic Blues For Solitary Moose,” loaded with fuzz and scorching solos.

Given a brisk, live sound in its production – fitting for a group with hundreds of shows under their collective belt – Cosmic Blues comes across natural and at times maintains the intensity of BLACK ELEPHANTS’ earlier work (closer “Inno” walks by and waves), while simultaneously exploring more spacious realms in the not-a-cover “Helter Skelter” and the takeoff jammer “Baby Eroina,” which eases into and out of its nodding rhythm with a smoothness worthy of a group’s third album and a fluidity that typifies the record’s entire thirty-four-minute run. Leaving their own tracks in the footsteps of bands like Small Stone’s own Isaak, BLACK ELEPHANT hits a new level of craft with Cosmic Blues, and if the righteous drive of opener “Cosmic Soul,” the flowing progression of the LP that ensues, and the name they’ve given the whole affair are anything to go by, they know it for sure. All the better.

BLACK ELEPHANT’s Cosmic Blues was recorded and mixed by Giulio Farinelli, mastered by Maurizio Giannotti, and cames wrapped in the cover design of Robin Gnista. The record will see release on July 20th on CD, digitally, and limited edition purple vinyl.

For preorders, go to the Small Stone Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION where you can also sample opening track, “Cosmic Soul.”

Cosmic Blues Track Listing:
1. Cosmic Soul
2. Helter Skelter
3. Chase Me
4. Walking Dead
5. Baby Eroina
6. Cosmic Blues For Solitary Moose
7. Inno

BLACK ELEPHANT is:
Alessio Caravelli – lead vocals, lead guitar
Massimiliano Giacosa – rhythm guitar
Marcello Destefanis – bass guitar
Simone Brunzu – drums

https://www.facebook.com/blackelephantitaly
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords

Black Elephant, “Cosmic Soul”

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Review & Full Album Stream: Mr. Bison, Holy Oak

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mr bison holy oak

[Click here to stream Holy Oak by Mr. Bison in full. Album is out May 25 on Subsound Records.]

The number of dudes in Mr. Bison? Three. The number of those same dudes named Matteo? Three. The number album their new one, Holy Oak is in their discography? Three. The number of bassists who appear on that same record? None. Number of times you’re going to be responsible for knowing these numbers? Zero, because by the time the Pisa-based sans-bass three-piece of guitarist/vocalists Matteo Barsacchi, Matteo Sciocchetto and drummer/vocalist Matteo D’Ignazi are about two songs in — to the total nine; because numbers — the sweet fuzz, classic style fuzz and periodic excursions into psychedelic space are going to melt the math away anyhow.

Mr. Bison, who release Holy Oak as their second offering through Subsound Records behind 2016’s Asteroid, hone in on the pivotal spirit of modern desert rock. There’s some element of push in songs like “Heavy Rain,” but they’re just as likely to spend their time spreading out an open atmosphere. Consider European acts of lore like Sgt. Sunshine and Lowrider, fellow Italians OJM, or American bands like Solace for a cut like “Earth Breath,” or even up and coming practitioners like Steak. Mr. Bison belong to this category of purveyors. Their third album is mature and aware of the moves it’s making between louder, more driving material and its more subdued places, and the Matteos effectively play different sides off each other both within songs — the 7:30 centerpiece title-track walks by and waves — and in the transition between them as well.

Like many acts who operate without a bass, their claim is that the guitar tones make up for it. And true enough, any band can tune lower to make up for the lacking thicker strings if they’re so inclined, but to think of the legacy of great heavy rock loadbearers — from Geezer Butler through Scott Reeder and so on — and it would seem to be not even so much the tone as the dynamic they’re denying themselves. They compensate by weaving different guitar parts in and around each other, and in so doing craft something that, admittedly, is more their own than it would be if they were a simple guitar/bass/drum configuration. Some of it is a familiar lead/rhythm dynamic, but “The Bark” operates tonally like a battle of dueling Hendrixes, and the results make for a legitimately exciting listen.

This is something that a band three records in can do much more effectively than a band making their debut, but it’s admirable nonetheless, and from the mid-paced groove of opener “Roots” and the blown-out shuffle swagger of “Sacred Deal” — there may not be any bass, but I’d swear I hear an organ — onward, Mr. Bison retain fervent control over their transitions and the fluidity of Holy Oak as a whole. At 46 minutes, it does not feel like a minor undertaking, but neither is it redundant, as “Heavy Rain” breathes ambient life into the initial salvo and “Earth Breath” contrasts with more straightforward edge and riffing. The appropriate metaphor would be to say these two sides are doing battle, but it’s more like they’re both fighting toward the same end than fighting each other. In the post-Black Rainbows sphere of Italian heavy, Mr. Bison make a place for themselves alongside acts like Tuna de Tierra, who take the established tenets of various forms of heavy and pull them together in varying balances in order to best serve their songwriting.

True, one could easily argue that “Red Sun,” from name, to riff, to its forward punkish rhythm, is probably direct Kyuss tribute, but consider that it arrives after the Golden Void-esque “The Bark” and the boogie-laden “The Wave” and the context becomes a bit broader than a band from Italy trying to sound like a band from California. It also precedes seven-minute closer “Beyond the Edge,” and where one might expect Mr. Bison to simply switch back into the psychedelia-as-primary modus of the earlier title-track, they instead hold to a blend of funkified start-stop fuzz and scorching lead, a gritty, Radio Moscow-style blues vocal laid overtop that leads to an extended but still mostly earthbound jam.

That is to say, the band doesn’t just have a couple of set methods of songwriting and swap one out for the other. Of course this works to the benefit overall of Holy Oak, which caps with a repetitive and duly hypnotic progression while also bringing back vocals to keep the song grounded even at its most “out there” moment, which is a pretty fair analog to the entirety of the record. I’m not sure I’d call myself 100 percent on board with the zero-bass philosophy, but there’s no question that for Mr. Bison, the numbers add up. Their sound is fluid and engaging and their songwriting is varied enough that indeed they leave nothing wanting for dynamic. Many elements of what they do will be familiar to those experienced with the genre, but it’s in how they’re melded that Mr. Bison make their statement, and they make it loudly.

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Di’Aul, Nobody’s Heaven

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

diaul nobodys heaven

[Click play above to stream Di’Aul’s Nobody’s Heaven in its entirety. Album is out May 4 via Argonauta Records.]

I’ll admit to being somewhat puzzled by the title Milano sludge-rocking four-piece Di’Aul — to be pronounced like “the owl” and not like “dial,” reportedly — have given to their five-track Argonauta Records sophomore long-player. Is it Nobody’s Heaven, like a heaven that doesn’t belong to anyone, or Nobody’s Heaven, like there isn’t a single person who represents the idea of paradise? The lyrics of the 7:45 opening title-track, delivered as they are in gruff but still melodic gutturalisms by vocalist MoMo Cinieri, aren’t much help when they’re discernible. I guess there’s something to keeping the idea vague — though I’ll allow that with the benefit of a full lyric sheet it might not be a mystery at all — and open to interpretation when it comes to engaging the listener, but Di’Aul could hardly be expected to have much trouble in that regard anyway, particularly among the mud-covered sludge converted whose lives have been incomplete since Australia’s Beastwars called it a day.

Di’Aul don’t proffer quite the same kind of tonal dominance from guitarist Lele Mella or bassist Jeremy Toma (also vocals), but the stomp in Diego Bertoni‘s drums on a cut like moody centerpiece “Garden of Exile” or the faster “Low Est,” which follows, seems to stem from a similar post-Crowbarian root. With how comfortable the band are playing slow, and how nestled into a nod they get, a moment like “Low Est” is something of a surprise, but there isn’t really a point on the album wherein Di’Aul entirely depart from the sphere of heavy sludge rock. So while they range a bit, they’re still well within genre parameters.

The crucial element here is lurch. The five songs that comprise Nobody’s Heaven — “Nobody’s Heaven,” “Black Death,” “Garden of Exile,” “Low Est,” and “Mother Witch” — rely largely on slow grooves to get their sonic point across, and that becomes a bit part of the identity of the album. They start of quietly enough with the intro to “Nobody’s Heaven,” but about 90 seconds in build to a huge-sounding scream and crash, and from there, trade back and forth tensely between quiet minimalist guitar strumming/vocals, and full-tone kick-in-the-teeth riffing and rolling. Their basic starting point is definitely metal, and that’s so it’s all the easier to point to a band like Crowbar as a pivotal influence for the teeth-gritting “Black Death,” which still carries a melody in its chorus in a way that’s immediately familiar, but there are shades of more bouncing riffage in the subsequent “Garden of Exile” despite the consistency of brooding.

di'aul

That subtle difference in methodology goes a long way in not only holding the forward momentum Di’Aul have thus far worked to craft, but broadening the overarching sonic context of the release. Again, they remain aggressive, and Mella‘s guitar still finds room for plenty of the chug that seems to permeate every song in one way or another, but the swinging bridge that starts at about four minutes in would’ve seem strange tucked into the opener, and it shows command on the part of the group as a unit that by the time they get there and head toward the slowdown and solo that leads back to the verse/chorus to finish out — because songwriting! — it’s well within their reach. That makes the transition into the uptempo push of “Low Est” that much easier, and keeps the linear flow intact as Di’Aul lumber to the album’s finale.

I’ve likened Cinieri‘s vocals to High on Fire on “Low Est” before, and especially with the faster progression behind him, I stand by that, but if it seems like I’ve spent a lot of time here talking about his work, it’s because it stands out both in delivery and at the forefront of the album’s actual mix. As they start the rollout of closer “Mother Witch” and hit into an angular verse riff, even subdued, Cinieri is very much a presence in the material — which in the case of the last track is about as close as they come to that Beastwars comparison above. “Mother Witch” is the longest of the individual slabs on Nobody’s Heaven at just over eight minutes — it and the title-cut form a kind of bookend — and uses its extra runtime to patiently execute its verse/chorus tradeoffs, but to find room as well for noise-rock-style starts and stops late and symmetry with its whistle-topped intro and outro, the latter of which leads to the last stomps and eerie noise closing the record as a whole, which echo the underlying ambient bed beneath the guitar opening “Nobody’s Heaven.”

Of course, this underscores the notion of the bookend, and further, the cohesion that pervades the entirety of the full-length. Di’Aul made their debut in 2015 with the burl-laden Garden of Exile (note that the track of the same title didn’t appear there but appears here) and while elements have certainly carried over from one release to the next, it’s plain to hear in these five songs that the band have given due attention to atmospheric weight as well as sheer assault of volume. That works much to their benefit throughout Nobody’s Heaven and whether it’s someone or someplace, belonging to anyone or no one, the record comes across executed mindfully and aware moment by moment of its own impact. That only bodes well as Di’Aul continue to move forward.

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Quarterly Review: Eagle Twin, Wight, Sundrifter, Holy Mushroom, Iron and Stone, Black Capricorn, Owl Maker, Troll, Malditos, The Freak Folk of Mangrovia

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

I’m pretty sure this Quarterly Review — life eater that it is — is going to wind up being six days long. That means next Monday look for sixth installment, another batch of 10 records, which were not hard to come by among everything that’s come in lately for review. I do my best to keep up, often to little avail — some random act’s Bandcamp page starts trending and all of a sudden they’re the best band ever, which hey, they’re probably not and that’s okay too. Anyhowzer, I’m trying is the point. Hopefully another 10 records added into this Quarterly Review underscores that notion.

More coffee. More albums. Let’s rock.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn)

eagle twin the thundering heard songs of hoof and horn

Consuming tones, throat-sung blues, a wash of lumbering doom – yes, it’s quite a first three minutes on Eagle Twin’s The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn). Released by Southern Lord, it’s the Salt Lake City duo’s first outing since 2012’s The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (discussed here), which arrived three years after their 2009 debut, The Unkindness of Crows (review here). Once again, the four-song outing finds guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley and drummer Tyler Smith exploring the natural order and the natural world the 11-minute “Quanah un Rama” and the 14-minute “Antlers of Lightning” bookend “Elk Wolfv Hymn” (8:22) and album highlight “Heavy Hood” (7:21), creating an ever-more immersive and grit-laden flow across the album’s span. It’s hard to know if Densley and Smith are the hunters or the hunted here, but the tones are massive enough to make YOB blush, the rhythms are hypnotic and the use they’re both put to is still unlike anything else out there, ending after the chaos and assault of low end on “Antlers of Lightning” with a moment of contemplative guitar lead, as if to remind us of our solitary place in imagining ourselves at the top of the food chain.

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Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion

wight fusion rock invasion

One wonders what it might’ve been like to see Wight on the 2015 tour on which the Bilocation Records-issued vinyl-only Fusion Rock Invasion: Live Over Europe was captured. Still a year out from releasing their third album, Love is Not Only What You Know (review here), the former trio had already become a four-piece with guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist René Hofmann, bassist Peter-Philipp Schierhorn and drummer Thomas Kurek bringing in percussionist Steffen Kirchpfening and already undertaken the funkier aesthetic turn that LP would represent coming off of 2012’s Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here). At least I’d think it would be something of a surprise as the band hit into “Helicopter Mama” and “The Muse & the Mule” and “Kelele,” which comprise side A of Fusion Rock Invasion, but by all appearances listening to the crowd response between songs, they seem into it. Who could argue? Wight’s groove in those songs as well as the older “Master of Nuggets” and Love is Not Only What You Know finale “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation” on side B, are infectious in their grooves and the soul put into them is genuine and unmistakable. One more reason I wouldn’t have minded being there, I suppose.

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Wight at Bilocation Records

 

Sundrifer, Visitations

sundrifter visitations

Name your bet someone picks up Sundrifter’s Visitations for a proper release. The Boston three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Craig Peura, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan impress in performance, aesthetic and craft across the nine songs and 48 minute of their for-now-self-released debut long-player, and whether it’s Queenan dipping into blastbeats on “Targeted” or Gaughran’s rumble on the Soundgarden-gone-doom “Fire in the Sky” or the fuzz that leads the charge on the Queens of the Stone Age-style “Hammerburn,” Peura doing a decent Josh Homme along the way, each member proves to add something to a whole greater than the sum of its parts and that is able to take familiar elements and use them to hone an individualized atmosphere. In the wake of melodically engaged Boston acts like Gozu, Sundrifter would seem to be a focused newcomer with a solidified mindset of who they are as a group. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised either if they kept growing their sound. Something about the psychedelic distance in “Fire in the Sky” and “I Want to Leave,” says there’s forward movement yet to be had.

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Sundrifter on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Moon

holy mushroom moon

Serenity and presence. There’s no shortage of either on the second Holy Mushroom full-length, Moon. Incorporating the prior-issued digital single “Éufrates,” the five-track/43-minute excursion is rife with natural-toned psychedelic resonance, marked out by organ/piano working alongside the guitar (see “Birdwax Blues”), as well as guest contributions of double bass and saxophone, and other sundry moments of depth-creating flourish. Their trance-effect is palpable, and Moon is an easy album to get lost in, especially as the Spanish three-piece make their way through 12:35 centerpiece “The Preacher,” moving from a dreamy opening line of guitar into funk-laden heft that only pushes forward with Hendrixian abandon through a massive jam before rounding out sweetly with vocals over background organ and sweetly-strummed guitar. “Éufrates” would seem to start the same way, but varies the structure in more of a back and forth format before closer “Grand Finale in the Blind Desert” brings both Holy Mushroom’s most patient execution and their most vibrant jam (sax included), essentially building from the one into the other to end the album in energetic fashion. To say it works for them would be underselling it.

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Holy Mushroom on Bandcamp

 

Iron and Stone, Petrichor

iron and stone petrichor

A debut long-player of no-pretense, no-nonsense sludge-infused doom, Petrichor (on Backbite Records) shows German five-piece Iron and Stone as ready to follow where the riff will lead them. The late 2017 album is a solidly-delivered 10 tracks and 43 minutes that strikes mostly in monochrome intent, save perhaps for the acoustic “Interlude” near the midpoint. Their 2015 EP, Old Man’s Doom (review here), was similarly upfront in its purposes, but carrying across a full-length – especially a debut – is a different beast from a shorter outing. Their heavier push on “Monolith” is welcome and the break-then-chug of “Deserts” does plenty to satisfy, but Petrichor might require a couple concerted listens to really sink in on its audience, though as I’ve said time and again, if you can’t handle repetition, you can’t handle doom. Iron and Stone effectively balance traditional doom and rawer sludge groove, playing fluidly to whichever suits their purposes at a given moment.

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Backbite Records webstore

 

Black Capricorn, Omega

black capricorn omega

Sardinian doom cult Black Capricorn push well beyond the limits of the manageable with their 95-minute fourth album, Omega (released Nov. 2017 on Stone Stallion Rex), and that’s clearly the idea. The three-piece of bassist Virginia, drummer Rakela and guitarist/vocalist Kjxu offer grim ambience and tempos that sound slow regardless of their actual speed. That said, the 17-minute “Antartide” is an accomplishment as regards crawl. After a sweetly melancholic opening of guitar, it lurches and lumbers out its miserable heft until a return to that intro bookends. Even shorter tracks like “Flower of Revelation” or “Stars of Orion” hold firm to the tenet of plod, and though the results are obviously a lot to take in, the idea that it should be a slog seems all the more appropriate to Black Capricorn’s style. The band, which hits the decade mark in 2018, churn out one last bit of wretchedness in the nine-minute closing title-track before giving way to an acoustic finish, as if to remind that Omega’s sorrows are conveyed as much through atmosphere as actual sonic heft.

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Stone Stallion Rex website

 

Owl Maker, Paths of the Slain

owl maker paths of the slain

Guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli, also of malevolent doomers Vestal Claret, leads the new trio Owl Maker, and in the company of bassist Jessie May and drummer Chris Anderson, he embarks on a heavy rock push of six tracks with the debut EP, Paths of the Slain, still holding to some elements of metal, whether it’s the double-kick in opener “Ride with Aileen” or the backing vocals and guitar solo of the subsequent “99.” Songwriting is clearheaded across the EP’s 23 minutes, and in terms of first impressions, “Mashiara” shows a focus on melody that retains a metallic poise without losing its riff-driven edge. The balance shifts throughout “Freya’s Chariot” and the all-go “Witches,” the latter of which touches on black metal in its first half before turning on a dime to mid-paced heavy rock, and closer “Lady Stoneheart” nods in its back end to NWOBHM gallop, as Owl Maker seem to tip their audience to the fact that they’re just getting started on their exploration of the many interpretations of heavy.

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Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Troll, Troll

troll troll

When one considers the multiple connotations of the word, Portland’s Troll are definitely going more for “lives under a bridge” than “meddling in elections” when it comes to their sound. Their self-titled debut EP, issued in 2017 before being picked up by respected purveyor Shadow Kingdom Records for a 2018 CD/tape release, is a highlight offering of classic-style doom worthy of Orodruin and Pilgrim comparisons and headlined by the vocal performance of John, who carries songs like opener “The Summoning” and the later, more swinging “Infinite Death” in a manner impressive in both frontman presence and melodic range. His work is only bolstered by the riffs of guitarist Lou and the consistent groove held together by bassist Wayne and drummer Ryan, whose drive in centerpiece “An Eternal Haunting” is neither overdone nor incongruous with the wall its tempo hits, and who meld shuffle and plod on closer “Savage Thunder” with naturalist ease. Potential abounds, and they reportedly already have new material in the works, so all the better.

Troll on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Malditos, II

malditos ii
Some bands, you just have to accept the fact that they’re on a different wavelength and that’s all there is to it. Magma. Master Musicians of Bukkake. Circle. Enter Oakland, California’s Malditos, whose sophomore outing, II: La Réve, arrives via Svart Records. From bizarre psychedelic chants to ritualized repetitions that seems to be daring you to play them backwards on your turntable, the spiritual freakout to songs like “Azadeh” and the penultimate “Momen” is palpable. Reach out and touch it and it will ripple like water in front of you. A sense of space is filled with elements alternatingly horrifying and engrossing, and after they make their way through “Le Passage” and centerpiece “Disparu” and wind up in the title-track to close out, the journey to the final wash of noise gives the distinct impression that for neither the listener nor the band is there any coming back. High order head trippery. Will simply be too much for some, will gloriously expand the minds of others.

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The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach

the freak folk of mangrovia sonic meditations live at palach

I don’t know how much improvisation is a factor in the sound of The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, but the Croation collective bring an ultra-organic presence to their perhaps-debut release, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach. The group, which seems also to have gone under the names Marko Mushan & the Mangrovian Orchestra and The Free Folk of Mangrovia, was opening for Acid Mothers Temple that night, and Sonic Meditations mostly breaks down into parts – “Sonic Meditation I,” “II,” “III” and “IV” – before the band closes out with “’Mangrovian Summer,” all the while with The Freak Folk of Mangrovia making their way through progressive dreamscapes, dripping with effects and spacious enough to house an entire Mangrovian village, however big that might be. It is otherworldly and jazzy and moves with such fluidity that the entire “Sonic Meditation” becomes one overarching piece, complemented by the closing “Mangrovian Summer,” which ebbs and flows through louder, more active jamming before capping in a wash of noise.

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black rainbows pandaemonium

[Click play above to stream Black Rainbows’ Pandaemonium in its entirety. Album is out April 6 on Heavy Psych Sounds.]

Largely through sheer force of will, Black Rainbows have become Italy’s foremost purveyors of heavy psychedelic rock. Pandaemonium is the sixth full-length from the Roman trio, and they’ve never sounded more driven or lysergic then they do in its nine-track/45-minute run. Led by guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori, the three-piece run a colorful gamut of high-energy, sopping wet groove, and whether they’re in the maximum-fuzz thrust of “Riding Fast ‘Til the End of Time,” dug into the more threatening lumber of “Grindstone” or languidly making their way through the cosmos on album finale “13th Step of the Pyramid,” they burn and melt classic influences into something of their own; whether it’s culled from Sabbath, Fu Manchu, Nebula, Monster Magnet or Hawkwind, it doesn’t matter. It’s Black Rainbows.

This has, admittedly, been the case on their last couple records. Pandaemonium, which is further marked out by the desert-space-grunge opener “Sunrise” and the megahook that follows in “High to Hell,” was preceded by 2016’s Stellar Prophecy (review here) and 2015’s Hawkdope (review here), and with them, it forms something of a trifecta of the band discovering and subsequently building on their distinct sonic persona. That’s not to slight their 2014 split with NaamWhite Hills and The Flying Eyes (review here), 2013’s Holy Moon EP (discussed here), or 2012’s Supermothafuzzalicious!! (review here) — or, for that matter, 2010’s Carmina Diablo or 2007’s Twilight in the Desert; though the latter was derivative and that seemed to be the point — simply to say that as time has gone on, Black Rainbows have come more into their own sound-wise, and Pandaemonium represents the to-date apex of that process.

Tone, as ever, is essential to what they do, and Fiori‘s is dead-on righteous in “The Sacrifice” but as Fiori and bassist Giuseppe Guglielmino welcome new drummer Filippo Ragazzoni, they seem to lock into an especially potent trio form. The longest tracks on Pandaemonium are the highlights and show this best, “Grindstone” moving fluidly from its initial lumbering to a tripped out spacious midsection, minimalist and topped with samples but tense and building its wash toward a crescendo that (presumably) closes side A and offers one of the record’s most satisfying payoffs. With “Sunrise,” “High to Hell” and “The Sacrifice” before it, Black Rainbows shift deftly between catchy heavy rock songcraft and more expansive fare, eventually ceding the ground to the Wyndorfian strum of tracklisting centerpiece “Supernova and Asteroids,” which though it’s only a little over two minutes long, emphasizes just how important atmospherics have become as part of Black Rainbows‘ overarching methodology.

The wash of effects, near-constant swirl, and echo on Fiori‘s voice are, of course, appreciated, but it’s what Black Rainbows accomplish by varying their tempos, structures nnd overall scope that makes Pandaemonium succeed as it does. With vinyl in mind, it’s side A that shows this best with each song developing its own presence while feeding into the overarching groove of the record as a whole, and as it would in homage to the classic form, side B pushes the limits of the band’s aesthetic (not that “Grindstone” doesn’t in its own way). After “Supernova and Asteroids,” the ultra-fuzzed “Riding Fast ‘Til the End of Time” takes hold with full-throttle forward motion, turning on a dime into the bridge and the chorus from itis decamatry verse, an extended solo section marked out by organ in the second half only adding to the sense of build throughout, the feeling that Black Rainbows have become experts at this kind of sonic gamesmanship.

black rainbows

Where earlier cuts might’ve gone back to the hook to finish out, “Riding Fast ‘Til the End of Time” keeps going further out until it just kind of ends, leading to the six-and-a-half-minute “I Just Wanna Fire. Seemingly inspired lyrically by a trip to the desert, it plays up the more open, jammier side of Black Rainbows sound, and by the end of its run, the effects swirl and the depth created are not only evocative of the place, but hypnotic in their own right. There’s something of a return to earth with the stoner rock shuffle of “The Abyss,” but even this is given a due drenching in reverb, fuzz and echo. Still, rhythmically, in its janga-janga boogie, the song recalls post-Kyuss early aughts stonerism, and even finds Ragazzoni half-timing the drums to maximize the open feel in the second half. A steady line of organ — almost a drone, for its consistency — threads through the arrangement, making the shorter cut feel even fuller and hold to the sense of space brought to the proceedings by “I Just Wanna Fire” before.

A long solo section and slow ringout — that organ fading in the process — leads to the cry-in-the-vastness line of noise that starts “13th Step of the Pyramid.” There’s a sample that may or may not come from an old episode of In Search Of, and as Fiori‘s vocals enter shortly after the first minute, the immediate association is with Monster Magnet‘s Spine of God-era liquefaction. This is not a detriment, and as they have with influences all along — the best example perhaps being “The Abyss” just before — they take these elements and make them their own. A drawling, patient roll plays out and builds to a head just as they pass the halfway point into larger, more forward riffing, the nod infectious and the impression clear that, hey, this is it: no coming back this time. Fair enough. It’s been a trip and in the end of “13th Step of the Pyramid,” the listener finally finds out where it’s all been leading.

The answer, of course, is “huge jam.” Fiori seems to layer rhythm and lead guitars for an even more packed arrangement, but it’s even more about the vibe the whole band creates in the process. Choice groove, an emergent standout riff, a final build, and residual effects swirl on a fade when they’ve cycled through the last measure. It’s a patient but still energetic finale, and it’s one worthy of the record preceding all the more because of the underlying sense of consciousness and purposefulness behind it. I don’t doubt that Black Rainbows experiment in the studio. Frankly there are too many effects used in these songs for “happy accidents” to never occur. And I don’t doubt that they jam — you can hear the chemistry even in this new lineup. But there’s intention for all of it beyond simple indulgence, and as distant the ground is that Pandaemonium covers, the band is never unsure how they want to get there. One more reason that, six albums deep and more than a decade into their career, it’s time to consider Black Rainbows masters of the form. Their heavy psych wants for nothing in spirit or sound, and their songwriting has never sounded more assured of its reach. As well it should be.

Black Rainbows, “High to Hell” lyric video

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Di’Aul Reveal Album Details for Nobody’s Heaven

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

diaul

Italian four-piece Di’aul were announced late last year as signing to countryman imprint Argonauta Records has part of a barrage of groups picked up by the label, and their label debut, Nobody’s Heaven — just in case you were wondering who might have the property rights — was slated for a February release. Here we are at the end of March. Hey, that’s scheduling. Pressing releases takes time, takes money, takes time to get money, etc., so yeah, the album will be out in May. Fair enough.

If you read the phrase “’90s metal groove” in the info below and think Pantera, you’re not all the way right and not all the way wrong. Di’aul definitely have some of that dudely metallism coming through their material, but the five-track/34-minute offering isn’t without a sense of melody either, and there are moments throughout that are just pure stoner in their ideology. That’s a good way to offset some of the chestbeating and it works to give the band a richer sound across the board, shades of slower High on Fire showing up in “Low Est” and more vicious chug rounding out “Black Death.”

There’s a preview for the album playing now at the bottom of this post — well, it’s not playing until you click play, but you know what I mean — and preorders are up if you’re so inclined. The PR wire takes it from here:

diaul nobodys heaven

DI’AUL reveal cover artwork and release date

Apocalyptic Stoner Doomers DI’AUL reveal first details of their upcoming album. “Nobody’s Heaven” includes 5 long songs, literally a blast of sonorities as if CROWBAR meet KILLING JOKE!

The album features subtle complexities bind together to a stunning 70’s rock songwriting and 90’s metal groove. The final result is an impressive step forward for the band, thanks to a distinctive and unique aggressive sound. Formed in Milan during 2010, DI’AUL released their first EP “GV 12.31” in 2010 and the first album “And Then Came the Monsters” in 2013, followed by their second opus “Garden of Exile” (2015).

DI’AUL “Nobody’s Heaven” will be released by ARGONAUTA Records and available from May 4th, 2018.

PREORDER NOW: http://bit.ly/2FUINlk

TRACK-LIST:
1. Nobody’s Heaven
2. Black Death
3. Garden of Exile
4. Low Est
5. Mother Witch

Di’Aul are:
MoMo Cinieri: Vocals
Lele Mella: Guitars
Jeremy Toma: Bass and Vocals
Diego Bertoni: Drums

https://www.facebook.com/DIAUL111
https://diaul.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
www.argonautarecords.com

Di’aul, Nobody’s Heaven album trailer

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The Obelisk Presents: Argonauta Fest in Italy with Jex Thoth and More

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on March 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ARGONAUTA FEST BANNER

I do a pretty fair amount of coverage for the doings of Italian imprint Argonauta Records. Helps that there’s a lot to cover. For the last couple years, the label has been on a spree of picking up bands, releasing new records, hosting showcases and so on. The work ethic of Gero, who heads the company, is second to none and because I admire the crap out of the work he does, I’m all the more thrilled to have The Obelisk among the presenters for Argonauta Fest 2018.

The lineup is set for the one-night event on Saturday, May 12, and Jex Thoth — who isn’t actually on Argonauta Records (yet, I guess; one never knows) — will headline along with label representatives Rancho BizarroDi’Aul and Sator.

Tickets are available now and are dirt cheap, so all the better. In addition, all the Argonauta bands will be playing special sets, the details of which you’ll find below. Check it out, and special thanks to Gero and Argonauta for having The Obelisk on board for this event:

Argonauta Fest: JEX THOTH + more!

Saturday, May 12

Officine Sonore
Via caduti sul lavoro 13, 13100 Vercelli

Behold the latest edition of the ARGONAUTA Fest, which celebrates the label’s first five years and features as a special guest and headliner JEX THOTH, the charismatic American singer and author of a high-class psychedelic doom based on occult and mythological themes.

And from the ARGONAUTA RECORDS roster: DI’AUL (Doom / Stoner), RANCHO BIZZARRO (Stoner Rock), SATOR (Sludge).

JEX THOTH will have two exclusive shows in Italy for their new tour, one is at argonauta fest. DI’AUL will present their new album “Nobody’s Heaven” out may 4th. SATOR will perform songs from the album ORDEAL. RANCHO BIZZARRO will present their new EP “Mondo Rancho” and extracts from their previous album.

ONLINE TICKET: € 12 + FREE CD http://hyperurl.co/ArgoFest2018
CASH TICKET: € 15

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Black Rainbows Post “High to Hell” Lyric Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black rainbows

As to what it actually means to be high to hell, you’ll have to ask Italian trio Black Rainbows on that one and I’m sure they’d have a good answer for you. Maybe something like, “It’s when you’re really really high,” and if so, fair enough. The song “High to Hell” features second among the nine tracks on the Roma outfit’s sixth album, Padaemonium, which is out next week — because, hello, next week is April — on Heavy Psych Sounds, and offers some of its best fuzz and one of its most memorable hooks. And with lines about living like an astronaut and the end of time, it’s more than solid lyric video fodder. So here we are.

I’m going to have more about Pandaemonium next week — and by that I mean I’ll be streaming it in full with a corresponding album review, on Tuesday if all goes according to plan — so I don’t want to get too deep into what they’re going on any given track, but songs like “High to Hell,” “The Sacrifice,” “Riding Fast Til the End of Time” and so on provide anchors in their hooks that allow guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori the space to reach both out into space and deep into the dirt for earthy fuzz that propels them. Like much of their work over the last several years, it gracefully balances elements and creates something whole and individualized from them, rather than simply pitting one element against another. Hell, I’m reviewing the dam thing in spite of myself.

Alright, gonna stop there. Check back next week for more lavish praise heaped on Black Rainbows and that full stream. In the meantime, enjoy the “High to Hell” lyric video below, followed by more info from the PR wire info.

Dig in:

Black Rainbows, “High to Hell” lyric video

Italy’s stoner rock icons BLACK RAINBOWS unveil a fuzz-driven new track off their sixth album “Pandaemonium”, due out April 6th on Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

“High To Hell” is the first excerpt off BLACK RAINBOWS’ new album “Pandaemonium”. The intro riff is a sledgehammer of fuzz and crunch striking the listener from the outset, while Gabriele Fiori’s sharp and hard-hitting vocals echo like a loop that won’t let go of your brain. Everything in this song is addictive. The Italian trio shows us how it’s done, with the fuzziest and fiercest stoner rock anthem you’ll hear this year!

“Pandaemonium” will be released on limited Silver vinyl, Orange Fluo Splatter Multicolor vinyl, as well as CD and digital.

BLACK RAINBOWS is
Gabriele Fiori – Guitar & Vocals
Giuseppe Guglielmino – Bass
Filippo Ragazzoni – Drums

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