Quarterly Review: Gruntruck, The Dead Ends, Albatross Overdrive, High Priestess, Monolith Cult, Kayleth & Favequaid, Black Wail, Psychic Lemon, Ixion, Rattlesnake

Posted in Reviews on January 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Day Three of the Quarterly Review! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling great. Plowing through, hearing a ton of good stuff. The week is rolling and though it’s most definitely caused me to be a neglectful husband and father for the last 72 hours (so far!), at very least the music is killer. That’s something, right? I didn’t really have a theme in picking today’s batch, but there are some commonalities between some of the inclusions all the same. See if you can find them, like one of those old puzzles in a Highlights magazine in your orthodontist’s wood-paneled office. Ready? Okay, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Gruntruck, Gruntruck


Held back due to legal issues with their original label, Roadrunner, the self-titled third album from Seattle groove-grungers Gruntruck hits like an open time-capsule nearly two decades after the fact of its recording: a little dusty but full of vitality and potential for what could’ve been. With a tad more crunch than the likes of Soundgarden and a crunch less TAD than TAD, Gruntruck found a middle-space between the melodies of their age and scene and heavier impulses, and if songs like “Trip,” the post-Nirvana “Build a Hole,” and the later “Spy” sound dated, well, they should. They are dated. It’s an album that was recorded over 20 years ago. That does nothing to take away from the quality of the songwriting, however, as closer “Flang” shows by demonstrating how thin the line between grunge and heavy rock has always been in the first place, let alone how fluidly Gruntruck were able to cross from one side to the other.

Gruntruck on Thee Facebooks

Found Recordings website


The Dead Ends, Deeper the Dark the Brighter We Shine


This warm and psychedelically charmed debut from Kavala, Greece’s The Dead Ends works quickly to deliver its cumbersome title-line in opener “Memory Ship (Sails at Dawn)” amid a build of organ-laced Doors-style drama, but the overarching spirit of the Sound Effect Records release is nonetheless patient and fluid. The keyboard work of vocalist Giorgos Sechlidis proves to be a major standout factor on the playful “Narri-E Narri-O” as rhythms and melodic elements out of Greek folk rear their head, and as guitarist Serios Savvaidis and drummer Dimitris Apostolidis provide vocal support throughout, the nine tracks of Deeper the Dark, the Brighter We Shine envelop with a depth that corresponds to their outward reach, still based around pop structures practically and conceptually, but feeling open and resolved to remain that way all the same. The jangly “Peter 2:18” closes out by building into a melodic wash, as if to underscore the potential within this exciting outfit’s budding stylistic nuance.

The Dead Ends on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website


Albatross Overdrive, Keep it Running


Issued in 2016, Albatross Overdrive’s second full-length pulls together a sans-pretense 31 minutes of barroom-style heavy rock born of the California desert but not necessarily indebted solely to its aesthetic so much as to boozy swing and chug and meaner, engine-revving impulses. “Fire Dancer” and “Higher” make impressions early with catchy choruses and hard-delivered riffs, a touch of metal to the latter particularly, and the later “Preaching Love Not War” boasts a highlight performance from bassist Mark Abshire, formerly of Fu Manchu, while gritty vocalist Art Campos leads the five-piece – completed by guitarists Andrew Luddy and Derek Phillips and drummer Rodney Peralta – through the grunge-chug of “Earth Mother,” recalling Alice in Chains’ “Again” in its cadence momentarily, though ultimately driven along its own course, headed into closer “Neva,” which finishes the album in top form just as it might cap a raucous live set on any given and much-improved Friday evening.

Albatross Overdrive on Thee Facebooks

Albatross Overdrive website


High Priestess, Demo


Los Angeles trio High Priestess were recently snagged by Ripple Music for the release of their impending debut album this year, and on the strength of this five-track demo, one could hardly argue. Tonally rich, perfectly paced in its rollout, melodically centered and meditative with surprising flashes of metallic noise, cuts like 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Firefly” offer psychedelic immersion and a sense of worldmaking rare in a band’s first long-player, let alone their initial demo. Weighted low end gives Demo an earthy sensibility, and there’s definitely a desert-style aspect to “Take the Blame” and “Mother Forgive Me,” but the intertwining vocal melodies of guitarist/organist Katie Gilchrest and bassist Mariana Fiel atop Megan Mullins’ drums provide a spaciousness well across the line of transcendent into ethereal psychedelia. Likewise, after the salvo of “Firefly” and its nine-minute companion “Despise,” the peaceful, organ-laced closer “Earth Dive” draws emphasis on sonic diversity with its patient build and underlying command. Especially as demos go, High Priestess’ is dangerously coherent.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

High Priestess on Instagram


Monolith Cult, Gospel of Despair


From the first listen onward, the hardest thing about putting on Monolith Cult’s second full-length, Gospel of Despair, is actually letting the seven tracks play without constantly interrupting them by saying “hell yes.” Whether it’s the hook of opener “Disconnection Syndrome,” the subsequent plod of the title-track that follows, the massive slowdown that hits about a minute into “Sympathy for the Living” as it moves into its chorus, or the Candlemassian finale chug and stomp of “Death Means Nothing,” the Bradford, UK, five-piece’s follow-up to their 2013 debut, Run from the Light (review here), dwells in similar terrain between righteous classic metal and doom as Cruz del Sur denizens Argus, and the band are likewise firm in their purposes and assured in their delivery. “King of all that’s Lost” feels exceptionally weighted in its impact, but set next to the faster motion in the first half of the penultimate “Complicit in Your Abuse,” it feeds into an overarching flow and sense of leather-on-fistpump-or-headbang-take-your-pick-ready audience response. Hell yes? Oh, hell yes.

Monolith Cult on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Records


Kayleth & Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Six


In bringing together Verona’s Kayleth and Palermo’s Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Six works more on a direct theme than some of the other installments in the impressive and impactful series from Ripple Music. But if there’s a particularly nation’s scene worth highlighting in the heavy rock underground, the emergent riffy movement in Italy makes a riotous case for itself as Favequaid bull-in-a-china-shop their way through the nine-minute “Hypochondria” on side B or Kayleth unfold the highlight nod and melody of “The Survivor” earlier, hitting a mark of spatial weight that’s as much about its crash as reach. Starting with the atmospheric pulse of “Desert Caravan” and following up “The Survivor” with the melodic push of “Magnetar,” Kayleth come across as the more progressive of the two outfits, but with the brash finale of “First” rounding out, Favequaid help put emphasis on the underrated diversity within Italian heavy rock on the whole, and maybe that was the idea in the first place.

Kayleth on Thee Facebooks

Favequaid on Thee Facebooks


Black Wail, Chromium Homes


Though it gradually comes to life around an intro of Hendrixian noodling at the start of “They,” its opener and longest track (immediate points), the third EP from New Jersey’s Black Wail, Chromium Homes, isn’t through that same song before a decidedly Dio-esque “lookout!” is tossed into the pot. Abrasive, sludgy screaming follows. So yeah, it gets weird pretty quick, but that turns out to be the fun of the 27-minute six-tracker, since it just as easily digs back into languid wah-led groove or lets its keyboards flesh out classic heavy rocking melodies. “Thee Ghost” chugs metallic before stepping back to a harmonized a capella midsection and swinging to its finish, and the title-track basks in heavy blues rock like nothing ever happened – the perfect setup for the nastier “The Dead Man’s Hand,” and weirdo bounce-into-punk-thrust of “Radioactive Mutation” that follow. And because why the hell not: a closing doomed-out cover of “Norwegian Wood.” Somehow that was the only thing missing. Black Wail are getting strange and daring you to do the same. If you think you’re up for it, maybe you are.

Black Wail on Bandcamp

Rhyme and Reason Records


Psychic Lemon, Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay


Prepare for spacedelic immersion. Somewhere there’s a countdown happening and waiting on the other end of it is Psychic Lemon’s sophomore LP, Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, the title of which reads like the recipe from which its five tracks have been constructed. The 41-minute sprawler from the London-based trio sets itself to the task of atmospheric breakout with 8:31 opener “Exit to the Death Lane,” and while it’s hard not to be drawn immediately to a track called “International Fuzz Star” – let alone one that’s almost 10 minutes long – one skips the cosmic-grunge shuffle of “Hey Droog!” and the sped-up Sonic Youthism of centerpiece “You’re No Good” at one’s own peril. They tease tension in the kick drum but ultimately end up soothing in meandering closer “Satori Disko,” but the progressive threat has been laid all the same, and it says something about their accomplishment overall that even in the final moments of Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, one can’t be certain where Psychic Lemon might be headed next.

Psychic Lemon on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records webstore


Ixion, Return

ixion return

Brittany, France-based Ixion is a project spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist/growler/recording engineer/cover artist Julien Prat, and Return (on Finisterian Dead End) is the band’s third full-length. With clean vocals contributed by Yannick Dilly (who also mixed), it captures a contemplative and majestic balance of hope and sorrow, woeful in its extremity but bright-toned in its sprawling lead guitar figures in pieces like “Into Her Light” and the later “Stranger.” This meld fascinates throughout the nine-song/47-minute run, but it’s the poise of execution of all these ideas that make cuts like “Back Home” and the electronics-infused “Contact” stand out and recall some of the best moments of mid-period Katatonia, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Out of the Dark” onward, Return makes plain its self-awareness and resilience in capturing its formidable stylistic intention in the reality of the recording. It is a true work of beauty-in-darkness and affecting in both its scope and raw emotionalism.

Ixion on Thee Facebooks

Finisterian Dead End website


Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie

rattlesnake outlaw boogie

It’s just three songs, but Rattlesnake’s debut demo, Outlaw Boogie (also discussed here), was enough of an aesthetic mission statement all the same to wind up on my list of 2017’s best short releases, and with the swing and swagger provided by drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass, the classic-style riffing of guitarists Blake Charlton (Ramming Speed) and JP Gilbert (also vocals) and the wah bass Don Berger brings to “The Reason Why,” well, the reason why is frickin’ obvious. The New York-based newcomers capture a bright ‘70s vibe not dissimilar from The Golden Grass’ self-titled debut, but less serene and more urgent, more charged in its purposes on the whole, and dudelier in that okay-now-it’s-time-to-grow-a-mustache kind of way. Unsurprisingly, Outlaw Boogie is almost maddeningly catchy and cohesive and clear in its direction and intent, and the band seem to arrive in their conceptual foundation ready to move forward onto the next stage of their development. The only reason I call the three-tracker a demo at all and not an EP is because the band does. Otherwise there’s very little about it that doesn’t already denote it as a professional-grade work.

Rattlesnake on Thee Facebooks

In for the Kill Records webstore


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Kayleth Premiere “Forgive” Video; Colossus out Next Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


As previously announced, Verona-based heavy rockers Kayleth will release their new album, Colossus, on Jan. 12 via Argonauta Records. Of the 12 tracks included on the Italian five-piece’s second full-length, I’m especially glad that it was ‘Forgive’ that they decided to give visual accompaniment. It’s a sensible choice, since among its peers on Colossus in hook-laden tracks like the rolling “Mankind’s Glory,” the fuzz-stomping “The Angry Man” and the atmospherically ranging “The Spectator,” it emphasizes the group’s blend of space and riff-fueled heavy rocks and the vitality with which they’re combined in some of the record’s best moments.

The synth of Michele Montanari is a prominent factor in making that happen, and it comes through on “Forgive” as well as the subsequent “Ignorant Song” just how much that’s the case. kayleth colossusWhat could easily otherwise be positioned as post-Kyuss/Dozer desert-style riffing is given an ethereal edge thanks to the fourish of keys, and as vocalist Enrico Gastaldo acts as the guiding hand through the barrage of careening riffs from guitarist Massimo Dalla Valle, the rhythm section of bassist Alessandro Zanetti and drummer Daneile Pedrollo more than capably handle the turns the riffs present, whether they might arrive in a slower-unfolding piece like “Pitchy Mantra” or in the nod-ready momentum-building opener “Lost in the Swamp,” which signals early to riff-hounds that they’re about to be in good company for the ensuing 59-minute stretch.

That’s not an insignificant run for Kayleth to make on their second LP, but like the robot walking around in the video for “Forgive,” they manage to cover an awful lot of ground in the time they have, and while there are some tracks that might reiterate a point, leading one to think that efficiency is still an emerging factor in their sound, the fact of the matter is they’re nearly a decade on from their first EP release, so it’s not like they’re an inexperienced band at this point. Maybe they just had a lot to say. That happens sometimes, and while they border on the unmanageable in the album’s stretch, the fact that later pieces like “Solitude” and “The Angry Man” offer so much punch alongside their resilient spaciousness staves off redundancy and leaves Colossus that much more fulfilling on the whole.

You can check out the premiere of the clip for “Forgive” below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Kayleth, “Forgive” official video premiere

After the massive feedback of the deluxe edition of their latest album “Space Muffin” during the past Summer, KAYLETH are now ready to unleash their new effort. An intensive and unique blend of Stoner Rock sonorities, Sci-Fi atmospheres, stellar vocals and exciting guitar riffings, to build-up their best album to date.

KAYLETH “Colossus” will be released on CD/DD by ARGONAUTA Records and available from January 12th, 2018. Preorders run here: http://bit.ly/2hKjhFu

Kayleth is:
Massimo Dalla Valle: Guitar
Alessandro Zanetti: Bass
Daniele Pedrollo: Drums
Enrico Gastaldo: Vocals
Michele Montanari: Synth

Kayleth on Thee Facebooks

Kayleth on Instagram

Kayleth on Bandcamp

Kayleth at Argonauta webstore

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Kayleth Set Jan. 12 Release for Colossus; Album Teaser Now Playing

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan


Italian heavy rockers Kayleth would have their work cut out for them in trying to go toe-to-toe title-wise with the name they gave their 2015 outing, which was called — are you sitting down? — Space Muffin, but the forthcoming Colossus brings a Lost in Space-style robot on its cover art with their logo emblazoned across its chest, and well, that’s not nothing as far as general awesomeness goes. The record is set to come out on Jan. 12 as part of a busy early 2018 schedule for countryman imprint Argonauta Records, and there’s a teaser clip that’s been posted which you can see below, highlighting the Verona five-piece’s penchant for writing unabashed hooks no less at home in outer space than the inner desert.

Colossus is available to preorder now from the label, and you’ll find that link below, along with the aforementioned cover and teaser, all courtesy of the PR wire, ever generous sort as it is.

Submitted for the digging and whatnot:

kayleth colossus

KAYLETH – cover artwork and album teaser revealed

Italian Stoner Space masters KAYLETH reveal cover artwork and video teaser of their highly anticipated new album “Colossus”.

After the massive feedback of the deluxe edition of their latest album “Space Muffin” during the past Summer, KAYLETH are now ready to unleash their new effort. An intensive and unique blend of Stoner Rock sonorities, Sci-Fi atmospheres, stellar vocals and exciting guitar riffings, to build-up their best album to date.

Absolutely not to be missed if you like ORANGE GOBLIN, 7ZUMA7, MONSTER MAGNET, but most of all good music!

KAYLETH “Colossus” will be released on CD/DD by ARGONAUTA Records and available from January 12th, 2018. Preorders run here: http://bit.ly/2hKjhFu

01 – Lost in the swamp
02 – Forgive
03 – Ignorant Song
04 – Colossus
05 – So Distant
06 – Mankind’s Glory
07 – The Spectator
08 – Solitude
09 – Pitchy Mantra
10 – The Angry Man
11 – The Escape
12 – Oracle


Kayleth, Colossus album teaser

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Argonauta Records Releases Devouring the Mountains Vol. II Label Compilation

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 8th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Argonauta Records went ahead and made you a mixtape. And they put Christopher Lee on the cover, so, you know, right on. Devouring the Mountains Vol. II includes 12 tracks from bands on the Italian imprint’s growing and increasingly diverse roster, including the likes of DenizenKayleth and Witch Charmer. A little all over style-wise — or if not all over, at least some — maybe, but you get a good sense of what’s driving the label’s taste from it and what’s underlying to bring all these bands together in the first place.

Worth noting that the first Devouring the Mountains comp was issued in May 2014, and there are no bands repeated between the two. Not one act appears on the second one who also appeared in the previous. Pretty impressive that Argonauta would not only have that many groups on its roster, but would have enough fresh material from them not to have to double up. Not even once. Wild.

It’s a free download, which is even better. For the digging:

devouring the mountains vol ii

Argonauta Records presents Devouring the Mountains vol.2

Today we celebrate another twelve months spent together, with 12 great bands and awesome albums! This new sampler is our gift to thank you for the continued support: DEVOURING THE MOUNTAINS VOL.2 features tons of heavy riffs from our Stoner, Sludge, Doom, Drone, Post Metal roster. FREE DOWNLOAD, make sure to not miss it! 12 songs also featuring a previously unreleased track by Italian Psych Sludgers NIBIRU, directly from “Padmalotus” recording sessions.

Cover artwork by Argonauta Records, our personal tribute to legendary Christopher Lee in the movie The Wicker Man.

1. BANTORIAK – Entering the Temple 02:19
2. WITCH CHARMER – A Watching of Wolves 06:47
3. DEAF EYES – Black Canvas 04:30
4. TOVARISH – Call of the Kursk 05:40
5. DENIZEN – Whoresmoker 04:59
6. THEE MALDOROR KOLLECTIVE – Mariguanda 08:31
7. KAYLETH – Lies of Mind 04:40
8. [‘selv?] – Persistent 06:46
10. OBESE – Down the Gauntlet 04:18
11. MAGI – A Million Questions 06:28
12. NIBIRU – Carma Geta (previously unreleased) 10:35

More info:

VA, Devouring the Mountains Vol. II (2015)

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Nibiru, Kayleth, Varego and More Confirmed for Argonauta Fest 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

The first Argonauta Fest is set for May 10 at Live23 in Alessandria, Italy. Confirmed for the lineup are NibiruInfection CodeVaregoLast Minute to JaffnaDeaf Eyes and Kayleth, and there’s free CD samplers to be on hand and much more slated for the inaugural event, which is put on by Argonauta Records, who explain their motivations as bringing their taste in music — from vicious sludge to far-ranging psych — to life on stage. Probably getting everyone together and turning the volume all the way up and partying and all the rest of it don’t hurt either, but you know, it doesn’t necessarily need to be one or the other.

Info for the fest came down the PR wire, if you’d care to peruse the links and so on:

argonauta fest 2015 poster

ARGONAUTA Records present: ARGONAUTA FEST first edition!

From the label: “We are proud to announce that May 10, 2015 will take place the first official Argonauta Records Fest! An event created primarily as a need to represent “on stage” our musical taste, giving a “live” vent to our first years of life as a label, enhanced by many feedbacks both nationally and abroad. Six bands of our roster will create an evening that will move into Stoner, Post Metal, Noisecore and Sludge territories. A fine opportunity to share with us what will be a feast made of extreme sounds and great bands. Stay tuned on our official sites (www.facebook.com/argonautarecords www.argonautarecords.com) for more details about the bands on the program and on further initiatives related to the event to be held in Alessandria (Italy) at LIVE23”.

ARGONAUTA Fest 2015 features the following bands:

NIBIRU (Psych Ritual Sludge)
VAREGO (Post Metal/Stoner)
DEAF EYES (Instrumental Post Metal)
KAYLETH (Space Stoner Rock)

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1376440029345838

For more infos:

Varego, “Hesperian” official video

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