Zippo Premiere “Comatose” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Zippo (Photo by Daniele Di Egidio)

I’m not sure what the story of the video for Zippo‘s track “Comatose” actually has to do with the song itself, but it certainly captures the mood of brash, noise rock aggression. It’s a tale of classic gangster violence — a slice of life and death presented in kind with the Italian band’s rumbling, shout-topped groove. The song comes from Zippo‘s fourth album, After Us, which was released back in March via UK imprint Apocalyptic Witchcraft, and finds the band hitting the decade mark since their debut full-length while also working as a four-piece for the first time. While a Toshi Kasai mix might account for some of the edge one hears in “Comatose,” there’s always been more than one side to Zippo‘s approach, and that holds true for After Us as well.

While “Comatose” bruises like the brawl at the end of its video, “Familiar Roads” — which follows immediately on the album — builds tribal tension into prog-metal harmonies as “Adrift (Yet Alive)” digs into grunge scour and unhinged layers of fuzzgrind, and even a seemingly simple cut like the earlier “After Us” refuses to be defined in its asking the question of what might happen if Mike Patton fronted Alice in Chains. And all of this happens before closer “The Leftovers” waits until about the sixth of its total seven minutes to lock-in After Us‘ cohesive payoff, the prior six minutes of build obviously a tension inflicted on purpose, so while the relatively brief push of “Comatose” is telling on some levels, it’s by no means everything Zippo have to say with the album.

And it’s more gutpunch than handshake, but if you missed the record release in March and the band’s prior video for “Low Song,” as I did, it’s a vicious but enticing introduction. Made me want to dig further, anyhow.

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

Zippo, “Comatose” official video

‘Comatose’ is the second video from Zippo’s 4th album ‘After Us’, released in March by the Uk label Apocalyptic Witchcraft. The video is directed by Francesco Brancacci.

Zippo have always been about the music, which is actually very hard to define as they include elements of Prog Rock, Psych, Stoner, Sludge, Doom, Noise and even Post-Metal. Zippo thrive on creating different sounds and challenging people to use their very heart and soul to fully experience the band’s musical vision.

A winning philosophy has seen Zippo release three critically acclaimed albums: Ode To Maximum (Self-produced, 2006), The Road To Knowledge (Subsound Records, 2009), Maktub (Subsound Records, 2011). Album number four was unleashed by Uk based Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings in March 2016.

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Zippo website

Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings website

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Messa Premiere Video for “Babalon”; Debut Album out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster


Italian four-piece Messa released their debut album, Belfry, this past Friday via Aural Music. The band waste little time in getting to the hook of “Babalon,” their first video from the record, or in setting a grim mood through their slow pacing, grainy black and white visuals (also red) and the vocals of Sara, joined by guitarist Alberto, bassist/guitarist Mark Sade and drummer Mistyr. They demonstrate some affinity for extreme metal in their aesthetic — there’s a fire in the woods in the video, etc. — but the groove of “Babalon” is all doom, the group exhibiting a style they call “scarlet doom.” I’m not quite sure what it means, but if it’s their summary of what they bring to songs like this one, then fair enough. The slow, bluesy roll of the riff, the easy nod and the engaging chorus aren’t so out of line with expectation, but it’s encouraging to find Messa working to distinguish themselves with their first album all the same.

To that point, I haven’t heard the full record as yet, so I wouldn’t attempt to speak for its entirety, but “Babalon” makes for an enticing sample. The video swaps back and forth between black and white and red footage as we see Sara developing and subsequently burning photos, and all the while the weighted lumber and spacious, melodic verses play out accordingly, swelling in volume for the aforementioned chorus and receding again as we see the band out in a forest gathering wood for the subsequent bonfire. In the end, it winds up being the roll that typifies the song — maintained during a lead from Alberto in the second half — and as the fire crackles at the finish of the track, it makes a suitable accompaniment to the final credits, which somewhat quizzically list the band lineup as numbers — 302 (vocals), 208 (drums), 508 (guitar), 231 (bass) — before giving the coordinates 46 degrees 48 minutes north 10 degrees 31 minutes east. No idea where those might lead, though it would be fun to find out.

If you happen to have an answer on that one, please leave a comment, but otherwise I’m content with the mystery. Check out Messa‘s video for “Babalon” below, followed by some more info on Belfry courtesy of Aural Music, and please enjoy:

Messa, “Babalon” official video

MESSA is an italian 4-piece band born in 2014 playing obscure and evoking doom with deliciously haunting female vocals, influenced by Pentagram, Bellwitch, Windhand, Jex Thoth, Sabbath Assembly, Bathory, La Piramide di Sangue.

Their debut album titled “Belfry” mix dark ambient drones with vintage occult doom and mesmerizing female vocals that will drive you through a scarlet velvet trip.

Aural Music will release “Belfry” in May 6th, 2016.

The tracklist goes as follow:
1- Alba
2- Babalon
3- Fa?ro?
4- Hour Of The Wolf
5- Blood
6- Tomba
7- New Horns
8- Bell Tower
9- Outermost
10- Confess

MARK SADE bass/guitars (the sade, sultan bathery)
SARA voice (restos humanos)
ALBERTO lead guitar (glincolti, douge)
MISTYR drums (nox interitus)

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Aural Music

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Vincebus Eruptum No. 20: Voices on the Edge

Posted in Reviews on May 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

vincebus eruptum 20

It’s always a good day when a new issue of Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum shows up. My fandom of the long-running print mag should be well known to anyone who’s been stopping by this site for a while, and Editor Davide “Davidew” Pansolin and the staff under him continue to deliver top quality work with Vincebus Eruptum no. 20, the latest issue. Pressed up with cover art by Kabuto that brings to mind Jawas, the speeder bike that Rey had in The Force Awakens and the cover of the Southern Lord version of Sleep‘s Dopesmoker — all of which is certainly cool by me — the actual physical size of the thing never tells the story of the scope within, as Vincebus Eruptum continues to cover highlights from the international underground in psychedelia, heavy rock, doom, fuzz, garage and more.

Last time aroundVincebus Eruptum took a kind of educational turn and in the midst of a feature about The Linus Pauling Quartet — whose latest album, Ampalanche (review here), was released on Vincebus Eruptum Recordings, the ‘zine’s label arm — gave background on a swath of players and acts from the Texas noise/weirdo rock scene of the 1990s. Cool idea, and Pansolin has clearly decided to run with it. While Vincebus Eruptum no. 20 has fewer interviews than did the prior issue, it makes up for that with two vincebus-eruptum-20-full-artspecially-themed features — one on Maryland doom and another on Ireland’s heavy scene. The scope of Maryland doom, of course, is massive. It spans decades and there are so many players involved that to list them all would leave no room in the issue for anything else, but Klaus Kleinowski does well in finding the balance between narrative and detail, and though he speaks from the perspective of someone out of the region, his knowledge comes through clearly and is information worth seeking for anyone who thinks they know that scene or who’d like to know it.

I like to consider myself pretty familiar with Maryland doom, so after digging that piece, I shifted right over to “Emerald Haze: A Brief History of Irish Fuzz” by Sid Daly and Matt Casciani, which gives a similar, if shorter, treatment to the Irish underground, dedicating space to letting Iona Death Cult bassist Ste O’Connor and Mount Soma bassist Conrad Coyle — both Dublin natives — run down lists and descriptions of their favorite countryman heavy albums. Yes, Slomatics make the cut, amid names like Electric TaurusWild RocketWeed PriestAstralnautVenus Sleeps and Triggerman. Reading Vincebus Eruptum is always a bit like getting a homework assignment of stuff to check out — in a good way; I was never much for doing homework — and to have them go to experts directly to pick out bands for their readers is a shift in approach that I hope they continue. I’d love to see a piece on the boom in the Ukraine rock scene, for example, or to get their perspective on the West Coast of the US’ surge in heavy psych of the last several years. There’s an entire planet to cover, since ‘heavy’ exists just about everywhere.

From there, time to dig into the interviews. Leading off are Kevin Starrs of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Gianmarco Iantaffi of Void Generator — Vincebus Eruptum, as ever, bringing Italian bands to the fore — and both have plenty to talk about. New Void Generator is reportedly in progress, and Starrs talks about some of his favorite Italian film noir directors, vincebus-eruptum-20-issuethe Giallo set, which inspired the band’s 2015 fourth album, The Night Creeper (review here). There are also chats with Abbot and Domovoyd, two Finnish bands with very different takes between them — Abbot leaning toward classic prog/heavy and Domovoyd blending psychedelia and black metal — but who nonetheless share an adventurousness of spirit and songwriting that serve them well. Top it off with a feature looking at Fruits de Mer Records‘ catalog, the usual batch of worldwide reviews — Goatsnake and Snail alongside Nightslug and Bretus, among many more — and it’s another jam-packed installment from Vincebus Eruptum, which if I haven’t gotten the point across by now should be essential reading for novices and lifer experts alike when it comes to all manner of things weighted in tone.

Vincebus Eruptum Recordings has an upcoming release by Sendelica called I’ll Walk with the Stars for You, and as Pansolin notes in his editorial, he’s also opened a physical venue (300 capacity) where bands can play. Congratulations to him on that — way to live the dream — and here’s looking forward to the next Vincebus Eruptum, to which in the same breath he once again doubles-down on his commitment. I can’t wait to see what the associazione culturale does next.

Vincebus Eruptum website

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Argonauta Fest 2 Set for May 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Italian label Argonauta Records has announced the seven-band lineup for its second Argonauta Fest. Given the mathematically-accurate designation Argonauta Fest 2, it will boast performances from France’s Denizen as well as a strong host of varied acts from Italy, including Bantoriak, who debuted on Argonauta with last year’s Weedooism (review here), and a few acts who’ve just released new outings in the past month, Muschio and Jordaan, both of whom making their debut through the imprint.

Argonauta has grown quickly over the last couple years and evolved into a label with a strong and aesthetically-diverse roster of bands, but has managed that growth well along the way so that each group/artist is supported along the way. The first Argonauta Fest featured the likes of Nibiru and Varego, and I think the fact that there isn’t one act held over from last year to this year shows the kind of scope they’re working with.

Fest is set for May 7 in Vercelli, Italy. Info follows from the PR wire:


ARGONAUTA Records present: ARGONAUTA FEST second edition!

From the label: “After a whole year of massive work, great bands and tons of feedback across the board, we’re happy to officially announce the second edition of ARGONAUTA FEST! Seven (!) bands of our roster will create a night that will move into Stoner, Post Metal, Fuzz, Noise Rock and Doom territories. A fine opportunity to share with us a party made of great sounds and bands. Stay tuned on our official sites for more details. ARGONAUTA FEST 2016 is scheduled by Saturday May 7th, 2016 at OFFICINE SONORE (Vercelli, Italy).

Official poster run by MARCO CASTAGNETTO (, also known for his musical projects SHABDA and THEE MALDOROR KOLLECTIVE.

ARGONAUTA Fest 2016 features the following bands:

DENIZEN (France, Stoner Rock)
SEPVLCRVM (Ita, Ritual Drone)
BANTORIAK (Ita, Stoner Desert Rock)
FILTH IN MY GARAGE (Ita, Noise Rock / Hardcore)
MUSCHIO (Ita, Fuzz Rock)
WOWS (Ita, Doom / Post Metal)
JORDAAN (Ita, Psych Post Rock)

Bantoriak, Weedooism (2015)

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Indivia Sign to Argonauta Records; Horta Due this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Granted, the title Horta could refer to any number of different things. Any number of them. Horta is an ancient city in Italy. It’s a municipality in the Azores. It’s a Greek delicacy, an Etruscan goddess, on and on. You see where this is going, right? My brain puts Horta immediately in its most Star Trek-ian context as the silicon-based lifeform that killed all those miners in the one episode of the original series. I can’t help it. Spock had to mind-meld with it and it turned out it was just trying to protect its eggs, on and on. I can’t be the only one who remembers that episode. Such loneliness.

Among the many other things Horta is, it’s the forthcoming second LP from Italian trio Indivia, who have signed to Argonauta Records for the release. Due out this fall, to hear the PR wire tell it. There’s a new song streaming now as well:


NEW SIGNING: Indivia, Stoner Doom from Italy!

We’re more than proud to welcome an intriguing new name in the Argonauta Records family: INDIVIA, from Italy, authors of an exciting Stoner Doom Rock!

Indivia (Cichorium endivia, from the greek word) arises in a basement somewhere between the lowlands of Padova (Italy), during the autumn of 2012, due to the meeting between Andrea (guitar) and Nathalie (drums). In 2013, after the consequent entry of Diego (bass), the power trio starts organizing gigs under a fake name (Wedge), releasing its first 4-track EP ‘Belladonna’ (totally self-released) in 2014. In December 2015 the band recorded the second album, ‘Horta’, still unpublished.

The trio plays a blackened version of stoner doom through an experimental and hypnotic mood, highlighting the monolithic wall of sound, being influenced by bands as Sleep, Black Sabbath, Conan, Karma to Burn and Bongzilla, accompanied by green vibrations coming from the underground, raw fuzz, pierced eardrums, and vinegar.

The new album is scheduled by Autumn 2016, while the first single “The Green Planet” is available here:

Andrea Missagia – Guitars
Diego Loreggian – Bass
Nathalie Antonello – Drums

Indivia, “The Green Planet”

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Arcana 13 Premiere “Hell Behind You” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

arcana 13

Italian horror-themed doom rockers Arcana 13 released their debut album, Danza Macabra, last month via Aural Music, and their new video is comprised of footage from Dario Argento‘s 1980 film, Inferno. Not exactly small potatoes in terms of what they’re taking on to accompany the track in question, “Hell Behind You,” but the scale of the song works on a likewise ambitious scale, culling the raw classic doom of Pentagram and the more poised approach of Candlemass and setting it to a modern swing that’s not quite indebted to Uncle Acid, but definitely aware of the rise of garage doom this decade has wrought. It’s as much traditional as it is forward thinking, and while the roots are metallic, “Hell Behind You” finds the Ravenna foursome with a corresponding heavy rock sensibility.

That comes through especially in the solo section of “Hell Behind You” and in the drumming of the chorus, but as the horror show plays out in the video, the song develops a strong rhythmic push with cinematic elements of its own, layers of effects or keys and dramatic tempo changes, opening to crash cymbals and a brooding setup for the grand finale that ends out just as Inferno seems to be most living up to its title. If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s got witches, murder, bizarre rituals, of course fire — pretty much everything one could ask, and the video does a good job of setting its timing to the song. Which you could find out for yourself easily enough just by watching the thing.

Danza Marcabra is out now. More info follows the clip itself, which you’ll find on the player below.


Arcana 13, “Hell Behind You” official video

ARCANA 13 – “Hell Behind You” official video from the album DANZA MACABRA with images taken from Dario Argento’s masterpiece “Inferno” (1980). Order DANZA MACABRA NOW (LTD MUSIC BOX / Digipak CD / 2xLP):

Italy-based Heavy Occult Rock legion ARCANA 13 unveil their Italian horror inspired debut album featuring cover artwork by legendary Enzo Sciotti. Imagine the ominous mystique of Lucio Fulci’s classic The Beyond or Dario Argento’s Inferno set to a Black Sabbath or Pentagram-inspired soundtrack: this is ARCANA 13.

Out March 11th 2016 on Aural Music.

Arcana 13 website

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Arcana 13 on Twitter

Arcana 13 on Instagram

Aural Music

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Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy: Electrified Among the Stars (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

black rainbows stellar prophecy

[Click play above to stream Black Rainbows’ Stellar Prophecy in full. Album is out April 15 on Heavy Psych Sounds.]

With each new release, Roman outfit Black Rainbows continue to push themselves further and further into new ground between heavy psychedelia and fuzz rock. Each offering has been a marked step forward from the last. With Stellar Prophecy, their fifth LP — second through guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori‘s Heavy Psych Sounds imprint — they have clearly figured out their sonic intent, but they brush past last year’s Hawkdope (review here) in terms of refining their melting pot of heavy ’70s vibes, lysergic space worship, and forward-driving fuzz.

It’s been nine years since they issued their 2007 debut, Twilight of the Desert (on Longfellow Deeds), and the strides they’ve made sonically and in their ambassadorship of bringing heavy rock to the people of Italy and bringing Italian heavy rock to the wider European scene, both on tour and in Fiori‘s work with the label, is simply unmatched. Through 2010’s Carmina Diablo and 2012’s double-exclamatory Supermothafuzzalicious!! (review here), Black Rainbows have demonstrated admirable creative will and energy, as well as a near-unmatched work ethic that shows itself in everything they do, including the quick turnaround between Hawkdope and this new collection. Stellar Prophecy comprises seven tracks and just under 44 vinyl-ready minutes of what has particularly over the last four years become their brand of upbeat, full-thrust heavy psych rock, still working from root influences like Nebula and Hawkwind, but having long since developed their own attitude and take on those influences.

Not only this, but with just about a year — and one in which Fiori also issued the Detroit (review here) debut from side-project Killer Boogie — between Stellar Prophecy and Hawkdope before it, Black Rainbows have still managed to produce a substantial progression in their sound. Fiori and drummer Alberto Croce (who joined after Supermothafuzzalicious!!) recently welcomed bassist Giuseppe Guglielmino into the lineup, but to the best of my knowledge it’s still Dario Iocca (who also joined after Supermothafuzzalicious!!) whose warm tone underscores the cosmic push of opener “Electrify.” Each side of Stellar Prophecy launches with a ripper — “Electrify” and “Evil Snake” — and works from shortest to longest in making its way toward an extended, languid finale, whether that’s side A’s album highlight “Golden Widow” (11:37) or its side B companion, “The Travel” (9:28).

black rainbows stellar prophecy limited edition cover

These two distinct modes of songwriting, with shorter, faster cuts and slower, longer ones, might seem like setup for a hard contrast to reconcile, but the truth of the matter is that in whatever method they’re employing, Black Rainbows are so fluid that it doesn’t feel like much of a twist at all, and on side A, the bluesy swing of and catchy hook of “Woman” provides transition between that half of the album’s opener and closer in addition to being a standout on its own, so any way you want to look at it, it works. Plus, Fiori‘s vocals and liberal use of effects throughout the material tie the various sides of Black Rainbows‘ sound together so that when the opening bassline of “Golden Widow” arrives, soon joined by organ, samples and guitar in liquefied space revelry akin to former split-mates Naam, it is perhaps even more serene in its execution, jamming in a build structure before receding only to rise again, this time topping the song’s acid triumph with a furious guitar solo and swirling Echoplex or other looped noise.

Somewhat tucked away at the end of the album, “The Travel” will soon-enough echo that jamming-on-the-edge-of-time vibe and find Black Rainbows taking full advantage of the opportunity to ride off into the psychedelic sunset, but before they do, they toss out three banger hooks in “Evil Snake,” “It’s Time to Die” and “Keep the Secret,” skillfully bringing Stellar Prophecy back to its starting point with “Evil Snake”‘s faster pace and memorable chorus. That track is probably as close to bare-bones as they get this time out, but even in its 3:30, they find room for a bass and drum-led jam meshed with psychedelic noise and a solo over the swinging finish. Both “It’s Time to Die” and the cowbell-laden “Keep the Secret” follow suit ultimately, but the latter especially has a more open feel to its chorus, with Fiori‘s vocals pushed farther back, and an overall looser feel. Not only does it work for its position in the shortest-to-longest-on-each-side scheme — using its extra two minutes as compared to “Evil Snake” for a graceful, organ-inclusive jam — but it also works to set up the return to zero gravity with its peaceful and tripped-out ending, Black Rainbows working in a bit of hypnosis before the alternate universe kicks back in with the gradual unfolding of “The Travel.”

The song does solidify somewhat, if momentarily, after the halfway point, after the vast soundscape of its verses has given way to louder and more forward directionality, but it doesn’t last and “The Travel” is all the richer for that. Falling back to the open space of the verse, they build up again slowly on a final march of drum thud and heavy strum, but the volume seems to work on a doppler effect, and as the stomping goes by, the track fades its way out. That last detail is emblematic of the nuance at work under the outward thrust of Stellar Prophecy, which provides Black Rainbows with the realization of the ideas that Hawkdope put forth and further defines their place in the sphere of current heavy psychedelia. Propelled by songwriting and a vitality that bleeds into fast and slow songs that few can match, that position is becoming ever closer to the fore, and thought they’ve had their share of lineup changes, the central mission of Black Rainbows seems to remain the same in terms of ongoing progression and diffusion of influences into something original and individualized. To be blunt about it, Stellar Prophecy is the most accomplished Black Rainbows yet. As they continue to mature, their work only becomes more and more satisfying.

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Quarterly Review: Chron Goblin, Slabdragger, Jupiter, Izo, Cultist, Haoma, Spaceslug, Slush, Menimals, The Linus Pauling Quartet

Posted in Reviews on April 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

Thus ends another successful Quarterly Review. And by successful I mean I survived. There were a few minutes there when I actually thought about spreading this out to six days, doing another batch of 10 on Monday, but then what happens? Then it’s seven days, then eight, then nine, and before I know it I’m just doing 10 reviews every day and it’s more of a daily review than a quarterly one. Next week we’ll get back to whatever passes for normality around this place, and at the end of June, I’ll have another batch to roll with. Maybe the beginning of July, depending on time. In any case, thank you for reading this week. I hope you’ve found something in all this that you’ve dug, and that this final round offers something else that resonates.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Chron Goblin, Backwater

chron goblin backwater

Calgary party rockers Chron Goblin pay homage to Seattle with a song named after the city on their third album, Backwater (on Ripple Music), but they continue to have way more in common with Portland, Oregon. The follow-up to 2013’s Life for the Living (review here) pushes into psychedelic groove early in its title-track and gets bluesy for most of the subsequent “The Wailing Sound,” but it seems even that song can’t resist the urge to throw down and have a good time by the end, and cuts like “Give Way,” the galloping opener “Fuller” and the requisite “Hard Living” reaffirm the band’s commitment to heavy riffs and positive vibes. The stylistic elephant in the room continues to be Red Fang, but as they’ve done all along, Chron Goblin work in shades of other influences in heavy rock – if they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d call it Roadsaw – and put a stamp of their own on the style.

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Ripple Music


Slabdragger, Rise of the Dawncrusher

slabdragger rise of the dawncrusher

“Mercenary Blues” is near-immediate in telegraphing the level of heft Slabdragger will emit across their second album, Rise of the Dawncrusher, which tops an hour in five tracks (one of them four minutes long) and shifts between clean vocals, screams and growls from bassist/vocalist Yusuf Tary and guitarist/vocalist Sam Thredder as drummer Jack Newham holds together tempo shifts no less drastic. The shorter cut, “Evacuate!,” is an extreme take on heavy rock, but as Slabdragger move through the extended “Shrine of Debauchery” (12:23), “Dawncrusher Rising” (15:16) and “Implosion Rites” (17:20), their methods prove varied enough so that their material is more than just an onslaught of thickened distortion. I wouldn’t call it progressive exactly, but neither is it lunkheaded in its intention or execution, as the chanted melodies buried deep in “Shrine of Debauchery”’s lumber, derived perhaps in part from Conan and Sleep but beholden to neither so much as its own righteous purposes.

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Holy Roar Records


Jupiter, Interstellar Chronodive

jupiter interstellar chronodive

Finnish heavy psychedelic rockers Jupiter take a decidedly naturalist position when it comes to their style. Yeah, there are some effects on the guitars throughout Interstellar Chronidive, the trio’s second album behind 2014’s Your Eccentric State of Mind, but it’s more about what the three players can accomplish with dynamic tempo and mood changes than it is creating a wash, and that gives songs like “Stonetrooper” and “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” a classic feel despite a decidedly modern production. “Premonitions” provides raucous fuzz worthy of any next-gen stoners you want to name, and the 14-minute “In Flux” answers its own initial thrust with and expansive, liquefied jam that’s all the more emblematic of the organic core to their approach, Hendrix-derived but not Hendrix-emulating. Bright guitar tone, rich bass and swinging drums aren’t necessarily unfamiliar elements, but the touches of space rock narration on “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” and the consuming nod of closer “Vantage Point” assure there’s no shortage of personality to go around.

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Izo, Izo

izo izo

Also stylized as IZ? with a long accent over the ‘o,’ Izo is the self-titled debut from Italian double-guitar instrumental four-piece Izo, who bookend four flowing and densely weighted progressions with an intro and outro to add to the atmospheric breadth. Rather than choose between heaviness or ambience, Izo – guitarists Paolo Barone and Maurizio Calò, bassist Francesco de Pascali and drummer Luca Greco – play both into each other so that a song like “Hikkomori” is as engaging in its heft as it is hypnotic. That might be easier to do without vocals, but it’s essential to Izo’s approach, and something that, for their debut, sets up future expansion of post-metal and psychedelic elements. I’m not sure if there’s a theme or narrative for the album, but consistent use of Japanese language and imagery ties the material together all the same, and Izo emerge from their first album having shown a clearheadedness of purpose that can only continue to serve them well.

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Acid Cosmonaut Records


Cultist, Three Candles

cultist three candles

Cultist made their introductory statement in the early hours of 2016 with Three Candles, a five-song EP from the social media-averse Cleveland, Ohio, trio featuring members of Skeletonwitch, Mockingbird and Howl. In the wall of fuzz they construct, the swing injected into their rhythms and the use of multiple vocalists, there’s a strong undercurrent of Uncle Acid to “Path of the Old One,” but “Consuming Damnation” distinguishes itself with a more aggressive take, rawer in its melodies, and the creeping closer “Eternal Dark” is up to something entirely more doomed. How this balance will play out with the more familiar riff-patterning in “Follow Me” is the central question, but for their first tracks to be made public, Cultist’s Three Candles offers fullness of sound and the realization of an aesthetic purpose. Yes, there’s room to grow, but they already have a better handle on what they want to do than a lot of bands, so it should be interesting to keep up.

Cultist on Instagram

Cultist on Bandcamp


Haoma, Eternal Stash

haoma eternal stash

Ultra-thick, ultra-dank, Haoma is the work of Swedish duo R (bass/vocals) and S (drums), and the three-tracker Eternal Stash is their second self-released EP. The offering takes its title from the opener and longest track (immediate points), and wastes no time with subtlety in getting down on molten Cisneros-style stoner-doom grooves. Sleep meets Om isn’t a huge divide to cross, but there’s a blown-out sensibility to the vocals as well that speaks to some element of Electric Wizard at play, and the overarching roughness suits Haoma’s tonal crunch well. Even when they break to wah bass in the second half of “Eternal Stash” to set up the ensuing jam, this underlying harshness remains, and “Unearthly Creatures” and “Orbital Flight” build on that, the latter with a march that feels more decidedly individual even if constructed on familiar ground. Heavy, raw, unpretentious celebration of groove is almost always welcome by me, and so Haoma’s Eternal Stash is likewise.

Haoma on Thee Facebooks

Haoma on Bandcamp


Spaceslug, Lemanis

spaceslug lemanis

Another boon to Poland’s emerging heavy rock scene, Wroclaw’s Spaceslug slime their way out of the ground with their debut long-player, Lemanis, a seven-cut paean to weighted tone and laid back roll. Vocally, the trio seem to take a cue from the Netherlands’ Sungrazer, but their riffs are far more dense and while the penultimate interlude “Quintessence” and the earlier “Galectelion” demonstrate a sense of spaciousness, the context in which that arrives is much more weighted and, particularly in the second half of “Supermassive,” feels culled from the Sleep school of Iommic idolatry. No complaints. The record clocks in at 43 minutes all told and in no way overstays its welcome, rounding out with the nine-minute title-track, an instrumental that’s probably not improvised but comes across as exploratory all the same. The CD version is out through BSFD Records, but don’t be surprised when someone picks it up for a vinyl issue, as both the front-to-back flow and the artwork seem to be made for it.

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp


Slush, American Demons

slushies american demons

An element of twang that seems present even in the most uproarious moments of SlushAmerican Demons tape comes to the fore with the brief “Leshy,” a quick, fleetly-strummed bit of slide guitar the follows highlight cut “Bathysphere” and precedes “Death Valley,” both of which bask full-on in the garage shake, proto-punk vibe and anything goes swagger the Brooklynite trio have on offer throughout their third EP. That countrified twist plays well alongside the drawling skate rock of “In the Flesh,” which seems to take on some of The Shrine’s West Coast skate vibes with a twist of New York fuckall, and the quick crotchal thrust off “Silk Road,” which serves as Slush’ most purely punkish moment. “Death Valley” closes out with a tale of drugs and the desert, the vocals somewhere between Misfits and early Nick Cave, drenched in attitude and accompanied by fuzz that seems to be likewise. Bonus points for the silver tape and copious included art and info.

Slushies on Bandcamp

Lean on Bandcamp


Menimals, Menimals

menimals menimals

Strange spirits are afoot throughout MenimalsMenimals, the maybe-debut from the Italian troupe who engage wantonly in the proliferation of post-Mike Patton creepy darkjazz across five cuts of sparse, spacious weirdness. Issued through Phonosphera/Riot Season, it’s a work of high atmospheric density but ultimately more about mood than sonic impact, evoking complex shapes – dodecahedrons, tetrahedrons, octahedrons – as a mirror for its own quizzical mission. The kind of record that those who don’t spend time trying to figure it out are going to have more fun with, it makes its most effective impression on “Transitioning from a Cube to the Octahedron” on side B, evoking minimalist drone rock atmospheres as whispered vocals tie it to the rest of Menimals’ bizarre vibe. That’s not to take away from the noisy finish of closer “Bird on the Wind as a Hinge,” which follows, just to note that Menimals manage to somehow find balance in all the subdued seething and resonant experimentalism.

Menimals on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records

Phonosphera Records


The Linus Pauling Quartet, Ampalanche


By way of a confession, I wanted to end this batch of 50 reviews with something I knew I dug, and that distinction goes to Houston rockers Linus Pauling Quartet, whose latest full-length, Ampalanche, is released via the label wing of Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum. An album that offers some of the most pretense-free rock flute I’ve ever heard on “Slave to the Die,” it’s a down-home weirdo rocker that might, at a moment’s notice, plunge full-on into psychedelia in “Sometimes” or, say, include a 49-minute echoing space-drone “Vi, de Druknede (We, the Drowned)” as a download-only bonus track, and the fact that Linus Pauling Quartet can always be relied on for something different but consistent in charm and the quality of songwriting is not to be taken for granted, whether it’s the Midwestern noise rock of “Brisket” or the fuzzy roll of dreamy album-closer “Alive.” Yeah, I was doing myself a favor by finishing with Ampalanche. I have absolutely zero regrets. Linus Pauling Quartet continue to be woefully underappreciated.

Linus Pauling Quartet on Thee Facebooks

Vincebus Eruptum webstore


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