Hyborian on Tour with Weedeater Now; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I wish I had a title like ‘heavy metal riff machine.’ Best I can come up with is ‘dude who wakes up at 1:30 in the morning to write reviews,’ and frankly I don’t think that’s a title anyone wants. Kudos, then, to Kansas City’s Hyborian for earning that banner which they’re currently flying on tour with Season of Mist labelmates Weedeater. The run has been on for a few days, and it will take them into April, but they’ve got new fest dates booked in May and June as they continue to support the reissue of their Vol. 1 debut album on their already-noted new label home.

Hyborian also have a brand new video for the track “Maelstrom” that you can see below. It was directed by vocalist and guitarist Martin Bush.

Next time you’re looking for a definition of “up and coming,” here you go. Take it from me. I’ve been up since 1:30:

hyborian

HYBORIAN announce festival appearances, add new tour dates

Kansas City-based heavy metal riff machine HYBORIAN (Martin Bush – Guitar, Vocals, Ryan Bates – Guitar, Vocals, Justin Rippeto – Drums, and Anthony Diale – Bass) have announced new festival appearances in the months to come. HYBORIAN will appear at Kansas City’s Rock Fest on June 2nd alongside FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, and more. Additionally, HYBORIAN will play at Vintage Torque Fest in Dubuque Iowa on May 5. More information about Torque Fest can be found here. These two festival appearances follow the band’s previously announced North American tour alongside label-mates WEEDEATER. A full list of confirmed tour dates, including new shows in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Illinois can be found below.

HYBORIAN are touring in support of their acclaimed debut album ‘Vol. 1’. The album is streaming here.

‘Vol. 1’ is available across CD and limited edition LP formats at the Season of Mist E-Shop now.

HYBORIAN have been touring extensively since their 2015 formation. In addition to tours with GODMAKER and on their own, they have supported the likes of POWER TRIP, ACID KING, MUTOID MAN, WEEDEATER, IRON REAGAN, VEKTOR, WHORES and many more in the Midwest.

HYBORIAN TOUR DATES
Jun. 2 Kansas City, MI @ Kansas City Speedway (Rock Fest)
May 4 Dubuque, IA @ Fairgrounds (Vintage Torque Fest)

The “God Luck and Good Speed” tour w/ WEEDEATER and BASK
Mar. 21 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East
Mar. 22 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
Mar. 23 Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo
Mar. 24 Lansing, MI @ Mac’s Bar
Mar. 25 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
Mar. 27 Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlies
Mar. 28 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Mar. 29 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
Mar. 30 Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
Mar. 31 Little Rock, AR @ Whitewater
Apr. 1 New Orleans, LA @ Santos Bar
Apr. 2 Jacksonville FL @ Jack Rabbits
Apr. 3 Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero
Apr. 4 Asheville, NC @ Oddotorium *
Apr. 6 Champaign, IL @ Loose Cobra *
*No WEEDEATER

https://www.facebook.com/HyborianRock/
https://hyborianrock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist

Hyborian, Vol. I (2017)

Hyborian, “As Above, so Below” official video

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Merlin, The Wizard: Reedy Conjurings

Posted in Reviews on March 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

merlin the wizard

Generally speaking, I’m not one for writing off entire genres of music whatever that genre might happen to be, but there comes a time in every listener’s life when they invariably have to ask themselves one crucial question: “Is this ska?” A few years back, when everyone was on the collective dudely-parts of The Budos Band, I took a listen, stopped, asked myself that very question, and found that the answer was yes. Needless to say, it was the last time I listened to that particular group. I’m sorry. Everyone has a sound they can’t relate to — for some it’s country, for others it’s heavy metal — and for me, it’s ska. But, when I heard that Kansas City doom rockers Merlin had acquired a saxophonist/second guitarist in Stu Kersting for their fourth full-length, The Wizard — it’s also their first outing with Chase Thayer on bass — I wasn’t necessarily too nervous about it.

The band has always had kind of a weirdo streak, always geared themselves toward storytelling, but as the remaining founders in the lineup, vocalist Jordan Knorr, guitarist/keyboardist Carter Lewis and drummer Caleb Wyles expand from a four-piece to a five- and push into this new sax-laden sonic territory, it once again became necessary to listen to the seven-track/39-minute The Wizard (released by The Company) and ask myself if what I was hearing was ska. Is The Wizard ska? No. It’s not. It’s doom rock with a saxophone. Oh, and a guest appearance of trumpet on opener “Abyss.” That’s it though. Still not ska.

Admittedly, that would’ve been a fascinating if unfortunate sonic turn for Merlin to have made three albums deep. Their last outing, 2016’s Electric Children (review here), was arguably their darkest, and as they returned to Bert Liber to record, collaborate on the mix, and master The Wizard, one can only consider the shift in vibe a conscious decision. Liber (who also donates that trumpet guest spot), working in conjunction with the band, is no mess masterful in setting the depth and spaciousness of The Wizard‘s mix than he was on Electric Children, and songs like the buzzing, tense, guitar and key led “Gravelord” (premiered here) benefit immensely from the space they’re provided in which to flourish. Likewise, the pairing of shimmering guitar and horn on opener “Abyss” immediately sets a different tone than anything Merlin have collectively conjured before, swinging, deftly arranged, and no, still not ska.

merlin logo

Also worth taking into consideration when thinking of The Wizard‘s overall spirit is that at 39 minutes, it’s about 12 minutes shorter than its predecessor, and as it moves through songs like the thudding atmo-jazz of “Sage’s Crystal Staff” or the organ-and-wah laced catchy centerpiece “Golem” and the subsequent post-“Hand of Doom” stonerism of “Iron Borne,” en route to the extended “The Wizard Suite” 11-minute finale, which includes chanting repetitions of “I am the wizard,” a King Crimson-style chase, begins with All Them Witches-style guitar shimmer and resolves itself in chug of increasing tempo that leads to a final crescendo of guitar and sax working together around a twisting progression that ends with thuds and the line “I am the wizard” repeated once more, a quick-fading echo being the last sound of the record itself as it makes a cold finish, having come a long way even from the two-and-a-half-minute galloping doom insistence of “Tarantula Hawk” just prior. All of this, delivered with a tighter approach, gives the listener more to grasp onto as they make their way through.

Aside from its sound, overarching sonic dynamic and willful shift in texture, another key difference in The Wizard is a return on the part of the band to a narrative sphere, from which Electric Children departed after the band followed a storytelling course on 2014’s Christkiller LP (review here). That either matters a lot or not at all depending on how much a given listener wants to interact with this material — for what it’s worth I know nothing of the plot and have received no word of what The Wizard is about (one assumes there’s a wizard in there somewhere); presumably that’s the kind of info one would find in liner notes absent from a digital release but present with a vinyl or CD — but it says something of Merlin‘s overarching progression that they so readily allow for both levels of engagement on the part of their audience.

I’ve been hesitant to call them progressive before — am significantly less so after that blatant “21st Century Schizoid Man” reference in “The Wizard Suite” — but there can be no question that The Wizard brings their sound to new places for them and offers something in style and substance that none of their previous work has offered. That’s not just about the sax, though certainly that’s part of it, but also in the level of songcraft, and the spirit of sureness guiding the listener across various sonic changes, Merlin sound rife with confidence, and especially for a band who’ve put out four long-players over the course of a five-year (to-date) run with singles and other releases posted besides, their level of growth has been underscored by a consistency of songwriting quality that, even here, as they push farther out than they’ve ever pushed before, remains perhaps the most crucial aspect of who they are as a band. The Wizard has its novelty, sure, but fascinates well beyond that, and maybe most important of all, it is in no way, shape or form a ska release. Whew.

Merlin The Wizard (2018)

Merlin on Thee Facebooks

Merlin on Bandcamp

The Company webstore

The Company on Thee Facebooks

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Merlin Premiere “Gravelord”; The Wizard Available to Preorder

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

merlin

Dramatic Kansas City heavy rockers Merlin release their new album, The Wizard, on Jan. 26 via The Company. With it, the band’s passions for sax and storytelling are revitalized in a fashion they haven’t presented since 2014’s Christ Killer (review here), their sophomore outing.  2016’s Electric Children (review here), then, may have been something of a detour in terms of approach, but either way, the thematic take is renewed here in songs like “Sage’s Crystal Staff,” “Gravelord,” “Iron Borne” and the 11-minute finale “The Wizard Suite,” which rounds out with insistent declarations of “I am the wizard” that come across remarkably like death throes.

And maybe they are — I don’t know. The plot of Merlin‘s latest opus remains something of a mystery, but their sound intrigues as ever, and The Wizard is available to preorder merlin gravelordfrom The Company as of today. To mark the occasion, I’ve been given permission to host a premiere for “Gravelord,” which you’ll find below in all its ragged and momentum-driven tidings. On the record, its garage-fuzz assault directly follows opener “Abyss,” and in comparison to cuts like the wah-drenched “Golem” or “Sage’s Crystal Staff,” it’s one of the more straightforward cuts The Wizard presents, with a strong foundation in its hook that forms the basis of what surrounds, which as ever feels chaotic and theatrical without ever actually losing its sense of craft.

That, to-date, has been Merlin‘s specialty. They revel in these dark, oft-obscured themes and take a correspondingly bizarre and quirky approach to songwriting, but they absolutely pull it off every time. Part psychedelia, part classic doom, part heavy rock, they refute easy classification and instead bask in a series of sonic turns that keep the listener attentive and guessing all the while. Don’t expect “Gravelord” to speak for the entirety of The Wizard, but do expect it to rock.

And please enjoy:

Merlin, “Gravelord” official premiere

Chapter II: Gravelord

In the Wizards absence, the world he had once protected has fallen victim to three ancient lords: The Gravelord, The Golem and the Atronach. The Gravelord being the Lord of the Dead has begun tainting the land of the living with his army of the undead…

It’s been 4 long years since Merlin’s last conceptual album, Christ Killer was released. In that time of chaos, band members have came and gone, the cast has changed, equipment has broke, alliances were created and a whole lot of rituals have been performed from KC to Psycho Las Vegas. Merlin have finally deemed it time to bring you their next concept story, The Wizard. Featuring new members Chase Thayer on bass guitar and Stu Kersting on Saxophone and Guitar, Merlin have twisted their sound even further into the realms of the mystic unknown and unfamiliar territory…

Tracklisting:
1. Abyss
2. Gravelord
3. Sages Crystal Staff
4. Golem
5. Iron borne
6. Tarantula Hawk
7. The Wizard Suite

Merlin is:
Carter Lewis – Guitars, Synth
Stu Kersting – Guitars, Saxophones
Chase Thayer – Bass Player
Caleb Wyels – Percussions
Jordan Knorr – Vocals, Storytelling, Omnichord

https://www.facebook.com/MERLIN666/
Merlin on Bandcamp
http://thecompanykc.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thecompanykc

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Hyborian Sign to Season of Mist; Vol. I Reissue Due Early 2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Kansas City riff-bruisers Hyborian initially released their debut album, Vol. I, via local imprint The Company earlier this year, and thereby cleaned the clocks of many in their path. That number includes, apparently, Season of Mist, who announce below that they’ve signed the genre-skirting four-piece and will reissue Vol. I early next year. I can think of few endorsements that ring more clearly with the message, “You did something right.” So kudos to the band on that. Clearly they did something right.

Probably all that kicking ass. Yeah, that’s probably it.

Still, even with genre intricacy behind them, they’re an interesting pickup for Season of Mist, and one wonders where exactly they’ll fit on the label’s roster — other, of course, than very likely on tour with Weedeater again. Plenty of time for such things to shake out.

The PR wire made it official:

hyborian photo robert menzer

HYBORIAN sign to Season of Mist

Season of Mist are proud to announce the signing of HYBORIAN. The Kansas City-based heavy metal riff machine (Martin Bush – Guitar, Vocals, Ryan Bates – Guitar, Vocals, Justin Rippeto – Drums, and Anthony Diale – Bass) will reissue their acclaimed debut ‘Vol. 1’ through Season of Mist in early 2018.

Regarding their signing HYBORIAN comment: “Hyborian is beyond excited to be signing with Season of Mist. SOM is home to some of our favorite bands of all time, and we feel incredibly proud to be able to work with a label that has been so very crucial to creating the landscape of modern heavy music.”

‘Vol. 1’ was recorded by the band at their self-built studio, mixed by Justin Mantooth at Westend Studios (RADKEY, GODMAKER), and mastered by Nick Zampiello (TORCHE, ISIS, OLD MAN GLOOM, TRAP THEM) at New Alliance East. It was originally released by the band (in conjunction with friends The Company KC) in March 2017 and tells the tale of an extra-dimensional, cloaked being called “The Traveller”.

The band explains the concept of ‘Vol. 1’; “Hyborian-Volume I is a collection of stories from the dawn of humanity, events that occurred before the advent of the written word. It is the first in a series of legends from different epochs as told by a figure named The Traveller. The Traveller is a being that exists outside of humanity’s understanding of space and time. He is the source of all life in the universe, but is not omnipresent. He wanders the cosmos, visiting and recording times of great strife or hardship, great suffering or great triumph. We are his chosen mouthpiece on Earth, so we relate those stories, whether from far in the past or far in the future.”

HYBORIAN have been touring extensively since their 2015 formation. In addition to tours with GODMAKER and on their own, they have supported the likes of POWER TRIP, ACID KING, MUTOID MAN, WEEDEATER, IRON REAGAN, VEKTOR, WHORES and many more in the Midwest.

https://www.facebook.com/HyborianRock/
https://hyborianrock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist

Hyborian, Vol. I (2017)

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Merlin Announce New Album The Wizard Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

No solid release date yet from what I can tell, but Kansas City, Missouri, storytelling doom rockers Merlin are gearing up to issue their next conceptual full-length, The Wizard. Set for pressing in a vinyl edition of 300 through The Company, the band’s third full-length follows behind 2016’s Electric Children (review here), which stepped away from the narrative focus of the prior Christ Killer (review here), released in 2014. As to what the plot of The Wizard might be, I haven’t the foggiest idea, but my understanding is one exists, and that’s enough for me to go on at least for today. There’s plenty of time to figure out the rest.

I don’t know how long it takes to print up fancy-looking LPs these days — and goodness these are fancy looking — but an early 2018 release seems to me more likely than not. If the case turns out to be otherwise, I’ll let you know, and either way, I’ll hope to have more on the record, like a review, before it hits, so keep an eye out.

Everyone’s happy when this one walks by:

merlin the wizard vinyl

It’s been 4 long years since Merlin’s last conceptual album, Christ Killer was released. In that time of chaos, band members have came and gone, the cast has changed, equipment has broke, alliances were created and a whole lot of rituals have been performed from KC to Psycho Las Vegas. Merlin have finally deemed it time to bring you their next concept story, The Wizard. Featuring new members Chase Thayer on bass guitar and Stu Kersting on Saxophone and Guitar, Merlin have twisted their sound even further into the realms of the mystic unknown and unfamiliar territory…

Christ is dead.

The Electric children are Dead.

Long live The Wizard.

Tracklisting:
1. Abyss
2. Gravelord
3. Sage’s Crystal Stafr
4. Golem
5. Iron Borne
6. Tarantula Hawk
7. The Wizard Suite

Cast:
Carter Lewis – Guitars, Synth
Stu Kersting – Guitars, Saxophones
Chase Thayer – Bass Player
Caleb Wyels – Percussions
Jordan Knorr – Vocals, Storytelling, Omnichord

Mastered by Bret Liber
Recorded at Red Roof Productions
Mixed by Bret Liber and Merlin
Album Art – Nikki Fenn Art
Album Layout – Josh Wilkinson
https://www.facebook.com/MERLIN666/
Merlin on Bandcamp
http://thecompanykc.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thecompanykc

Merlin, Electric Children (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Grails, Expo Seventy, Coltsblood, Rhino, Cruthu, Spacetrucker, Black Habit, Stone Angels, The Black Willows, Lamagaia

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Arrival. Welcome to the final day of The Obelisk’s Spring 2017 Quarterly Review. After today, I clean off my desktop and start over with a mind toward the next round, which in my head I’ve already scheduled for late June. You know, at the end of the next quarter. I do try to make these things make sense on some level. Anyway, before we get to the last 10 albums, let me please reiterate my thanks to you for reading and say once again that I hope you’ve found something this week that really speaks to you, as I know I have and continue to today. We finish the Quarterly Review out strong to be sure, so even if you’re thinking you’re done and you’ve had enough, you might be surprised by the time you’re through the below.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Grails, Chalice Hymnal

grails chalice hymnal

Even if one counts the 2013 collection culled from GrailsBlack Tar Prophecies ongoing series of short releases that showed up via Temporary Residence, it’s been a long while since their last proper outing. Deep Politics (review here) was issued in 2011, but it seems the intervening time and members’ participation in other projects – among them Om and Holy Sons in the case of Emil Amos – disappear for Grails on Chalice Hymnal, which speaks directly to its predecessor in sequel pieces like “Deeper Politics,” “Deep Snow II” and “Thorns II,” taking the prog-via-TangerineDream cinematics of Deep Politics to vibrant and continually experimental places on the surprisingly vocalized “Empty Chamber,” the soundscaping “Rebecca” and the imaginative, evocative jazz homage “After the Funeral,” the album’s 10-minute closer. Hearing the John Carpenter keyboard line underpinning “Pelham,” I’m not sure I’d call Chalice Hymnal limitless in its aesthetic – Grails have definitive intentions here, as they always have – but they continue to reside in a space of their own making, and one that has yet to stop expanding its reach.

Grails on Thee Facebooks

Grails at Temporary Residence Ltd.

 

Expo Seventy, America Here and Now Sessions

expo seventy america here and now sessions

Yes. Yes. This. With extended two tracks – “First Movement” (22:17) and “Second Movement” (27:04) – unfolding one massive longform immersion that drones pastoral, delves into hypnotic bliss and fills the soul in that way that only raw exploration can, the America Here and Now Sessions from Kansas City (by way of the moon) outfit Expo Seventy is an utter joy to experience. Purposeful and patient in its execution, graceful in the instrumental chemistry – even with a second drummer sitting in amid the core trio led by guitarist Justin Wright – the album well fits the deep matte tones and nostalgic feel of its accompanying artwork, and is fluid in its movement from drone to push especially on “Second Movement,” which sandwiches a resonant cacophony around soundscapes that spread as far as the mind of the listener is willing to let them. Whether you want to sit and parse the execution over every its every subtle motion and waveform or put it on and go into full-brain-shutdown, America Here and Now Sessions delivers. Flat out. It delivers.

Expo Seventy on Thee Facebooks

Essence Music website

 

Coltsblood, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness

coltsblood ascending into shimmering darkness

After surviving the acquisition of Candlelight Records by Spinefarm, UK doom extremists Coltsblood return with their second album, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness, and follow-up 2014’s Into the Unfathomable Abyss (review here) with 54 minutes of concrete-thick atmospheric bleakness spread across five tracks. The headfuckery isn’t quite as unremitting as it was on the debut – a blend of airy and thick guitar in the intro of the opening title-cut (also the longest inclusion; immediate points) reminds of Pallbearer – but the three-piece thrive in this more-cohesive-overall context, and their lumbering miseries remain dark and triumphant in kind. A closing duo of “Ever Decreasing Circles” and “The Final Winter” also both top 12 and 13 minutes, respectively, but the shorter second track “Mortal Wound” brings blackened tendencies to the fore and centerpiece “The Legend of Abhartach” effectively leads the way from one side to the other. Still, the most complete victory here for bassist/vocalist John McNulty, guitarist Jemma McNulty and drummer Jay Plested might be “The Final Winter,” which melds its grueling, excruciatingly slow crash to overarching keyboard drama and becomes a work of cinematic depth as well as skull-crushing wretchedness. Such ambient growth fascinates and shows marked progression from their first offering, and even if the primary impression remains one from which no light escapes, don’t be fooled: Coltsblood are growing and are all the more dangerous for that.

Coltsblood on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight Records website

 

Rhino, The Law of Purity

rhino the law of purity

Once they get past the aptly-titled minute-long “Intro,” Rhino keep their foot heavy on the gas for the vast majority of The Law of Purity, their Argonauta Records debut album. The 10 included tracks veer into and out of pure desert rock loyalism – “Eat My Dust” comes across as particularly post-Kyuss, perhaps melded with some of the burl of C.O.C.’s “Shake Like You” – and the throttle of “Nuclear Space,” “Nine Months,” “A. & B. Brown” and “Cock of Dog” later on come to define the impression of straightforward push that puts the riffs forward even more than earlier inclusions like the post-“Intro” title-track or the more mid-paced “Bursting Out,” which hints at psychedelia without really ever fully diving into it. Capping with the roll of “I See the Monsters,” The Law of Purity reminds at times of earlier Astrosoniq – particularly in the vocals – but finds the Sicilian five-piece crafting solid heavy rock tunes that seem more concerned with having a couple beers and a good time than changing the world or remaking the genre. Nothing wrong with that.

Rhino on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity

cruthu the angle of eternity

As it happens, I wrote the bio and release announcement for Cruthu’s debut album, The Angle of Eternity (posted here), and I count guitarist “Postman Dan” McCormick as a personal friend, so if you’re looking for impartiality as regards the self-released six-tracker, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for primo trad doom and classic metal vibes, the Michigan-based four-piece offer touches of progressive flourish amid the shuffle of opener “Bog of Kildare,” a grueling post-“Crystal Ball” nod in “From the Sea” and a bit of ‘70s proto-metallurgy in the closing title-track, which finds vocalist Ryan Evans at his most commanding while McCormick, bassist Erik Hemingsen (Scott Lehman appears as well) and drummer Matt Fry hold together the fluid and patient groove of weighted downer metal. The sense of Cruthu as an outfit schooled in the style is palpable through the creep of “Lady in the Lake” and the post-Trouble chug of “Séance,” but they’re beginning to cast their own identity from their influences – even the penultimate interlude “Separated from the Herd” is part of it – and the dividends of that process are immediate in these tracks.

Cruthu on Thee Facebooks

Cruthu on Bandcamp

 

Spacetrucker, Launch Sequence

spacetrucker launch sequence

From the Kozik-style artwork of their cover to the blown-out vocals on opener “New Pubes” of guitarist Matt Owen, St. Louis three-piece Spacetrucker – how was there not already a band with this name? – make no bones about their intentions on their late-2016, 26-minute Launch Sequence seven-track EP. Owen, bassist Patrick Mulvaney and drummer Del Toro push into a realm of noise-infused stoner grunge loyal to the ‘90s execution of “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop” in the stops of the instrumental “Giza” even as they thicken and dirty up their tonality beyond what Kyuss laid forth. The cowbell-inclusive “Science of Us” rests easily on Mulvaney’s tone and nods toward burl without going over the top, and cuts like “Old Flower,” the penultimate roller “Trenchfoot” and the closing post-Nirvana punker blast of “Ain’t Gonna be Me” reimagine a past in which the language of heavy rock was there to explain where grunge was coming from all along. Not looking to reinvent stylistic parameters in their image at this point, Spacetrucker is nonetheless the kind of band one might’ve run into at SXSW a decade and a half ago and been made a fan for life. As it stands, the charm is not at all lost.

Spacetrucker on Thee Facebooks

Spacetrucker on Bandcamp

 

Black Habit, Black Habit

black habit self titled

Clocking in at half an hour, the self-titled debut release from viola-infused Arizona two-piece Black Habit could probably qualify as an EP or an LP. I’m inclined to consider it the latter considering the depths vocalist/guitarist/bassist Trey Edwin and violist/drummer Emily Jean plunge in the five included tracks, starting with the longest of the bunch (immediate points) in the slow-moving “Escape into Infinity” before shifting the tempo upward for “Suffer and Succumb” and digging into deep-toned sludge marked out by consistently harsh vocals. I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Habit became more melodic or at least moved into cleaner shots over time, as the doomly centerpiece “South Beach” and more fuzz-rocking “Travel Across the Ocean” seem to want to head in that direction, but it’s hard to argue with the echoing rasp that accompanies the rumble and hairy tones of finale “Lust in the Dust,” as Black Habit’s Black Habit rounds out with an especially righteous nod. An intriguing, disaffected, and raw but potential-loaded opening salvo from a two-piece discovering where their sound might take them.

Black Habit on Thee Facebooks

Black Habit on Bandcamp

 

Stone Angels, Patterns in the Ashes

stone angels patterns in the ashes

Massive. Patterns in the Ashes is a malevolent, tectonic three-song EP following up on New Zealand trio Stone Angels’ 2011 debut, Within the Witch, as well as a few shorter live/demo offerings between, and it’s an absolute beast. Launching with the seven-minute instrumental “White Light, White Noise II” – indeed the sequel to a cut from the first album – it conjures a vicious nod and bleeds one song into the next to let “Signed in Blood” further unfold the grim atmospherics underscoring and enriching all that tonal heft. Sludge is the core style, but the Christchurch three-piece’s broader intentions come through with due volume on the grueling “Signed in Blood” and when “For the Glory of None” kicks in after its sample intro, the blasts and growls that it brings push the release to new levels of extremity entirely. As a bonus, the digital edition includes all three tracks put together as one longer, 21-minute piece, so the consuming flow between them can be experienced without any interruption, as it was seemingly meant to be.

Stone Angels on Thee Facebooks

Stone Angels on Bandcamp

 

Black Willows, Samsara

the black willows samsara

If Switzerland-based resonance rockers Black Willows had only released the final two tracks, “Jewel in the Lotus” and “Morning Star,” of their late-2016 second full-length, Samsara, one would still have to call it a complete album – and not just because those songs run 15 and 25 minutes long, respectively. Throughout those extended pieces and the four shorter cuts that appear before them, a palpable meditative sensibility emerges, and Black Willows follow-up the promise of 2013’s Haze (review here) by casting an even more immersive, deeper-toned vibe in the post-Om nod of “Sin” (8:08) and the more percussive complement, “Rise” (9:28), keeping a ritualized feel prevailing but not defining. From the lead-in title-track and the spacious psych trip-out of “Mountain” that gives way to the aforementioned extended closing duo, Black Willows find their key purpose in encompassing tonality and languid grooving. Nothing is overdone, nothing loses its patience, and when they get to the linear trajectory of “Morning Star,” the sense is they’re pushing as far out as far out will go. It’s a joy to follow them on that path.

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Bandcamp

 

Lamagaia, Lamagaia

lamagaia lamagaia

Anytime you’re at all ready to quit your job and explore the recesses of your mind via the ingestion of psychedelics, rituals and meditation, Sweden’s Lamagaia would seem to stand prepared to accompany. The Gothenburg four-piece offer two extended tracks of encouragement in that direction on their self-titled 12” (released through Cardinal Fuzz and Sunrise Ocean Bender), and both “Aurora” and “Paronama Vju” carry a heady spirit of kosmiche improvisation and classically progressive willfulness. They go, go, go. Far, far, far. Vocals echo out obscure but definitely there in post-The Heads fashion, but there’s Hawkwindian thrust in the fuzzed bass and drums driving the rhythm behind the howling guitar in “Aurora,” and that only sets up the peaceful stretch that the drones and expansive spaciousness of “Paronama Vju” finds across its 18:55 as all the more of an arrival. Immersive, hypnotic, all that stuff that means gloriously psychedelic, Lamagaia’s Lamagaia offers instrumental chemistry and range for anyone willing to follow along its resonant and ultra-flowing path. Count me in. I never liked working anyway.

Lamagaia website

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

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Smokestock Announces First Lineup: Greenbeard, Youngblood Supercult, Merlin and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Right away, the intent behind the new fest Smokestock is clear. Set for May 27 at the All Star Rock Bar in Kansas City, Missouri, the 10-band lineup finds it focused heavily on promoting the heavy rock underground local to the region. With a reach that dips down to Texas to bring Greenbeard aboard as headliners, it boasts Kansas and Missouri-based acts Youngblood Supercult, Merlin, Sons of Mourning, Custom Black, Gnarly Davidson, Spacetrucker and Hyborian, as well as Ohio’s Druid, so it’s safe to say that the native scene is well represented.

The plan seems to be to squeeze in 10 bands between 6PM and 12AM, so it’s gonna be a packed night for sure, but hard to argue with the righteousness of the mission. As a side note, Greenbeard, Youngblood Supercult, Spacetrucker and Merlin all have new releases in the works, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find them sharing some of that recent material from the stage, and I’ve heard rumors this isn’t the only fest Youngblood Supercult will be playing this year. Merlin have already been confirmed for Psycho Las Vegas, so there’s a legitimate groundswell happening in the Midwest, and I’ll be interested to see how what’s billed itself as a “stoner rock revival” — playing off tent churches? — plays out in fostering the movement of bands.

Dig into the lineup info and links below, as found on the social medias:

smokestock poster

RIP Presents Smokestock: A Midwest Stoner Rock Revival

Saturday, May 27
The All Star Rock Bar
7210 NE 43rd St, Kansas City, Missouri 64117

RIP Productions is proud to present a newly conceived annual event– SMOKESTOCK: A Midwest Stoner Rock Revival

SMOKESTOCK is a Kansas City-based festival aimed at bringing stoner rock, doom metal, and psych/fuzz to the Midwestern masses.

This year’s confirmed performing artists at The All Star Rock Bar:

Greenbeard (Texas)
Youngblood Supercult (Topeka, Kansas)
Druid (Ohio)
Custom Black (KCMO)
Sons Of Mourning (KCMO)
Keef Mountain (KCMO)
Merlin (KCMO)
Gnarly Davidson (Lawrence, Kansas)
Spacetrucker (St. Louis, Mo.)
Hyborian (KCMO)

All ages until midnight!
$10 for 21+/$12 for under 21
Doors at 5pm, music starts at 6!!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1035751783228166/
https://www.facebook.com/smokestock/

Youngblood Supercult, High Plains (2016)

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Keef Mountain Self-Titled LP Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

There are reportedly three new songs on Keef Mountain‘s self-titled debut LP. Can you guess which ones they are? While side B features retracked versions of the cuts from the band’s 2012 demo, Climbing Higher — as do a lot of first albums, one way or another — my money’s on “New Song,” “New Song 2” and “New Song 3” on side A for being the new ones. Don’t ask why. Something about them just makes me think they haven’t been around as long.

Like their label, the newly-formed The Company Records, Keef Mountain are based out of Kansas City, Missouri. The imprint’s founder, Josh Wilkinson, has also done graphics work for STB Records, who sent along word that the Keef Mountain LP — available, in STB-style limited editions — is up for preorder now:

keef-mountain

STB Family member and resident graphic designer extraordianaire, Josh Wilkinson from The Company Design has started a new label, “The Company Records”. His first release is the first full length album from Kansas’ Keef Mountain.

Pre-order is happening now at: http://thecompanykc.com
Stream music here: https://keefmountain.bandcamp.com

Release Info:

Keef Mountain – “Keef Mountain” (THECO-001)
Limited Pressing of 225
50 “Bong Smoke” Die hard Editions / Includes Original Demo Tape “Climbing Higher”
175 “Super Dank” (35 available through the band/140 available through the label)
A Handful of Test Presses will be available at a later date.
50 First Pre-Orders received a free T-Shirt: SOLD OUT

Side A:
New Song
New Song 2
New Song 3

Side B:
Sorcery of the Trees (2016)
Psylocibin Queen (2016)
Death Cult (2016)

To help raise money for this release, The Company Records is presenting a free show (donations highly encouraged) on July 16th @ Mills Record Company in KCMO. Also sponsored by Poisoned Mind and DHU Records, every penny raised from this show will go into the Keef Mountain release.

The amazing lineup is as follows:
Youngblood Supercult
Merlin
Keef Mountain
Orphans of Doom

http://thecompanykc.com
http://thecompanydesign.bigcartel.com/
https://keefmountain.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KeefMountain/

Keef Mountain, “The Ascent”

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