Quarterly Review: All Them Witches, Anthroprophh, Orphan Gears, The Watchers, Grajo, Mythic Sunship, Empress, Monads, Nest, Redneck Spaceship

Posted in Reviews on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Well, we’ve reached the end of the week if not the end of the Quarterly Review itself. That’s right: after hemming and hawing all week and going back and forth in my silly little brain, I’ve decided to extend this edition to a sixth day, which will be Monday. That means 60 reviews in six days, not 50 in five. Honestly, I could probably keep going for three or four more beyond that if I had the time or inclination, and I may get there someday, but I’m definitely not there now.

But hey, there have been a couple comments left along the way, so thanks for that. I appreciate you taking the time to read if you have. Here’s the last for the week and we’ll pick back up on Monday.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

All Them Witches, Lost and Found EP

all them witches lost and found ep

If Nashville four-piece All Them Witches put together the free-download Lost and Found EP simply as a means of getting their take on the folk song “Hares on the Mountain” out there, it was worth it. In the hands of vocalist/bassist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Rhodes specialist/violinist Allan Van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler, the traditional tune becomes a wide open dronescape, bristling and vague like memory itself. It’s beautiful and a little confusing in just the right way, and it comes accompanied on the short release by the Fleetwood Mac cover “Before the Beginning,” an even-more-subdued take on “Call Me Star” from 2015’s New West Records debut, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), and a dub redux of “Open Passageways” – called, of course, “Dub Passageways” – from the same album. Might be a stopgap between full-lengths, but still, at 18 minutes, it’d make a more than worthy 10” release if they were looking for something new for the merch table.

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

 

Anthroprophh, Omegaville

anthroprophh omegaville

Next time you feel like, “Hey man, I’m so freaked out and weird and wow man whatever blah blah,” just take a second to remember you live in a dimension where dudes from The Heads have side-projects. Paul Allen and Anthroprophh – his trio with Gareth Turner and Jesse Webb, otherwise known as the duo Big Naturals – are a freaked out freakout’s freakout. The stuff of psychedelic mania. And that’s only on the first disc of the 2CD Omegavlle (Rocket Recordings). By the time they get around to the three-song second disc and dig into extended trips like “Omegaille/THOTHB” (14:48) and the subsequent finale, “Journey out of Omegaville and into the…” (20:57), they’re so far gone into noise and captured, manipulated audio that who the hell knows where we’ve ended up? At 88 minutes, the limits of manageability are long left behind, but to get some of the Velvet Underground-in-space vibes of “Maschine” in trade for undertaking the undertaking it’s well worth letting go of the rigidity of things like time, place, etc.

Anthroprophh on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Orphan Gears, Rat Race

orphan gears rat race

I’m pretty sure Orphan Gears used the Super Mario Bros. font for their logo on the cover of their latest EP, Rat Race, and for that, they should be saluted. The gritty-riffing semi-punker London four-piece offer five tracks and 20 minutes of workaday, boozy grooves, blowing off steam after putting in a shift at this or that crappy job. They are null as regards pretense, and ask little more of their audience than perhaps a beer from the stage or whatever else might be on the menu that night. They share initials, but unlike much of the London underground, they share little ultimately with Orange Goblin in terms of style, despite the shuffle of “Tough Luck, BJ” or the harmonica at the end of “Bitch-Slapped Blues,” and by the time they get to the classic strut of the title-track, they seem to be dug into AC/DC-style groove in the verse while blending in modern heavy rock impulses around it. They clearly save their best for last.

Orphan Gears on Thee Facebooks

Orphan Gears on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Black Abyss

the watchers black abyss

An immediately cogent, professional debut full-length is about what you’d expect from The Watchers, the San Francisco four-piece with members of SpiralArms, Orchid and Black Gates in their ranks, particularly after their prior EP, Sabbath Highway (review here), but that doesn’t stop the songwriting from impressing across the eight-song long-player, Black Abyss (on Ripple Music). The band’s presentation is crisp and pro-shop all the way through, from the soloing on “Oklahoma Black Magic” to the keyboard-laced TonyMartin-era-Sabbathism-meets-tambourine of “Suffer Fool” later on, and with the opening salvo of the title-track and “Alien Lust” right behind it, The Watchers set a quick expectation for hooks and a high standard of delivery that, thankfully, they show no hesitation in living up to for the duration, the chug-and-roll finale “Seven Tenets” satisfies in mood and efficiency, departing into airy guitar meditation and making its way back for a suitably rocking sendoff. Dudes know what they’re doing, where they’re headed and how they want to get there. All the listener needs to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Grajo, Slowgod II

grajo slowgod ii

A sequel to their 2015 full-length, Slowgod II (on Underground Legends Records, Spinda Records and DHU Records), sees Córdoba-based four-piece Grajo dug into a deep-toned psychedelic doom. There are flashes of Eastern influence on “Malmuerta,” with frontwoman Liz crooning over the minor-key guitar noodling of Josef, the forward motion in Félix’s drums and the heft of Pistolo’s bass. That dynamic works across Slowgod II, from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Altares” through its closing eight-minute counterpart “Malstrom,” which moves from early crunch through spacious volume swells in its middle only to regain composure and offer a heavy post-rock payoff that, somehow, still isn’t that atmospherically removed from the swinging “Horror and Pleasure” right before it or the similarly speedier “Queen Cobra” that follows “Altares” at the outset. Definitely one for the converted, Grajo deliver tones thick enough to stand on and engaging melodicism without falling into any real traps of sonic redundancy, varying their pace effectively and conjuring consuming plod on “ER” while still holding to that notion of breadth that seems to unite all their material here.

Grajo on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Mythic Sunship, Upheaval

mythic sunship upheaval

It just so happens this is exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. After releasing their Land Between Rivers (review here) LP through El Paraiso Records last year, the Copenhagen four-piece of Emil Thorenfeldt, Frederik Denning, Kasper Andersen and Rasmus “Cleaver” Christensen, collectively known as Mythic Sunship, return with four more slabs of exploratory bliss on Upheaval. Either completely or partially improvised, “Tectonic Beach” (12:42), “Aether Flux” (10:55), “Cosmic Rupture” (6:44) and “Into Oblivion” (13:56) flow together like the work of masters, and with shades of patient space rock at their core, the tracks are infused with life even beyond the spontaneity of their creation. Heavy jams. Heavy, spacy jams. Molten. Swirling. Badass. Even the shorter and more forward “Cosmic Rupture” is headed out of the atmosphere, and when they come around to the noisy payoff deep in “Into Oblivion,” it’s abundantly clear they’re not joking around when it comes to the title. You can get onboard with Mythic Sunship, or you can miss out. Bands like this separate the hip from the squares.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records webstore

 

Empress, Reminiscence

Empress reminiscence

Those who miss the days when Mastodon or Baroness howled their shouts into a landscape of crunching tonal largesse might do well to dig into what Vancouver, British Columbia’s Empress have to offer on their late-2017 debut EP, Reminiscence. The 27-minute five-tracker isn’t without its sense of melody – there’s plenty of room in eight-minute second cut “Immer” – but guitarist/vocalist Peter Sacco, bassist Brenden Gunn and drummer Chris Doyle make their primary impression via the impact of their material, and as they swap back and forth between shorter tracks and longer ones, a sense of structural playfulness results that moves through the bass openings of “Baptizer” (2:50) and “They Speak Like Trees” (9:27) into the ambient guitar finisher “Dawn,” and the feeling is that, like their stylistic forebears in at the time what was thought of as a new take on sludge metal, Empress will only grow more progressive as they move forward from this first outing. One hopes they hold firm to the tectonic weight they present here that so many others seem to have given up along the way.

Empress on Thee Facebooks

Empress on Bandcamp

 

Monads, IVIIV

monads iviiv

Released some six years after Monads’ 2011 debut, Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem, the Aesthetic Death Records-issued IVIIV was, according to the Belgian five-piece’s own accounting, in the works for most of that time in one way or another. One might say, therefore, that its creation does justice to the glacial pace of some of its slowest moments, the crawling death-doom extremity of pieces like “To a Bloodstained Shore,” or the lurch before the gallop takes hold in “Your Wounds Were My Temple.” At four songs and 50 minutes, IVIIV is indicative enough of the style, but Monads legitimately showcase a persona of their own in and out of those genre confines, the melancholic atmosphere and expanded arrangement elements (piano, etc.) of 15-minute closer “The Despair of an Aeon” creatively used if familiar, and the smoothness of the transitions in opener “Leviathan as My Lament” setting a tone of scope as well as downward emotional trajectory. Not sure I’d count on a quick turnaround for a follow-up, but if half a decade from now a new Monads record surfaces, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for.

Monads on Thee Facebooks

Aestehetic Death Records website

 

Nest, Metempsychosis

nest metempsychosis

Rolling from its untitled intro through its untitled outro through a barrage of charred-black, bludgeoning sludge extremity, the debut album from Lexington, Kentucky’s Nest, Metempsychosis (on Sludgelord Records), refers in its title to a transmigration of the soul, an inheritance almost as much as reincarnation. The band may be talking about themselves or they may be working on a theme throughout the record’s seven proper tracks, I don’t know, but if the idea is destruction and rebirth, they certainly sound more interested in the former. Songs like “Heretic” seethe and scour, while the lumbering and spacious closer “Life’s Grief,” capping with abrasive noise, would seem to be a mission statement in itself. Individual pieces like “Jewel of Iniquity” and the preceding atmosphere-into-mega-crush “Diving into the Entrails of Sheep” – of course the centerpiece of the tracklisting – are shorter unto themselves, but like everything else that surrounds, they feed into an overarching ambience of disgust and chaos.

Nest on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Redneck Spaceship, Grand Marshal Ape

redneck spaceship grand marshall ape

There are some issues as regards the balance of the mix pushing the vocals forward ahead of the guitar to work out, but Moscow’s Redneck Spaceship impress all the same with the intent and execution of their late-2017 self-released debut, Grand Marshal Ape. In riffs and songcraft, their influences stem from the classic days of stoner rock, but from opener “The Sands of Dakar” and the later “That Sounds Nuts,” one gets a vibe of underlying punk influence, while the twang in harmonized highlight “On the Roadside” and slide guitar of “Maverick” lends a Southern, bluesy swing that the penultimate “Enchained” answers back later ahead of the sample-laden psychedelic jam-out closer, “Antariksh,” which strikes as a far cry from the ultra-straightforward presentation earlier on “Empty Pockets,” but speaks to an immediate scope in Redneck Spaceship’s sound. One hopes they continue to meld elements as they progress beyond Grand Marshal Ape and bridge the gap between one side of their moniker and the other.

Redneck Spaceship on Thee Facebooks

Redneck Spaceship on Bandcamp

 

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Baby Bones Premiere “Bottom Breather” from The Curse of the Crystal Teeth

Posted in audiObelisk on March 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

baby bones

Punk-infused heavy rockers Baby Bones will issue their debut full-length, The Curse of the Crystal Teeth, on April 14 through Gubbey Records. One wonders if the title isn’t a reference to the proven-to-be-a-myth phenomenon of ‘meth mouth,’ but by the time you’ve considered it, thought about all the pictures of gross teeth you saw on the news before opiates became ‘the thin’ again — though I hear meth, like disco, is making a comeback — and googled that Slate article from 2005 that basically painted the whole thing as a class issue and made everyone feel like a jerk, the Louisville, Kentucky, trio are already through the six-track run of the record itself, which tops out at 17 minutes long, ending with the foreboding sample of a woman crying and warning, “I tell my friends to keep your babies close to you. There’s someone out there.”

Of course, by the time you’ve done another round of googling to try and find the source of that sample, Baby Bones are front-to-back once more on The Curse of the Crystal Teeth, which if I haven’t gotten the point across yet is a quick listen. All but one of its component tracks — third cut, “We’re Done Talking,” is the exception — are under three minutes long, and much of the tempo and coursing progression of a song like “Pay us in Dimes” owes itself to rockabilly and classic surf punk, but with a corresponding thickness of tone, one might think of Baby Bones stylistically as a Midwestern cousin to Fatso Jetson. baby bones the curse of the crystal teethOpening with the brisk but melodic “Bought the Farm,” which shifts into an angular, quirk-laden midsection before rounding out by reviving its earlier progression at a sprint and veering into a noisy freakout to finish, The Curse of the Crystal Teeth sets a tone early of being deceptively complex in its changes, and both “Pay us in Dimes” and “We’re Done Talking” hold to that, the latter with Dave Rucinski evoking a post-grunge vocal sensibility alongside his bass, guitar, the guitar of Thomas Burgos and the drums of Jason Brandum — gang shouts of one leading to start-stop riffing and a groovy slowdown that crashes into the like-minded start-stop opening of “Bottom Breather,” which touches on Queens of the Stone Age in vocal melody but remains rawer in its overall sound, turning to a nodding riff seemingly out of nowhere in its second half like younger Melvins before they started believing their own hype and cruising to an easy finish.

That of course leads to the harsher immediacy of “On the Take,” which is the shortest track here at 2:33 and spares nothing in its thrust but bridges a gap between more shouted and cleaner-sung vocals while the guitars work up a torrent of noise that builds to ahead just before 1:45 in and returns the trio to an upward swirl of noise underscored by Brandum‘s steady drums, which crash to mark the ending and begin at an immediately punctuating run on closer “Slick Shoes,” which offers few surprises ultimately but uses noise as a transitional element effectively and shifts between semi-spoken and sung vocals in the verse and chorus, allowing for a richer stylistic feel than otherwise might’ve showed up as Baby Bones slammed into the finish and that aforementioned sample, which is the only one on the short album. Clearly there’s meant to be some threat of violence between that and the band’s moniker, but it’s vague and never seems to really come to fruition in the songs, which is something of a relief, actually.

Not necessarily reinventing the wheel, but burning its tires out at good speed, Baby BonesThe Curse of the Crystal Teeth is a raw but aesthetically engaged, short debut long-player that I’d probably call an EP were it not for the fluidity with which the material draws together. I’m fortunate enough today to be able to premiere “Bottom Breather,” which you’ll find on the player below, followed by a quote from the band and more background courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Thomas Burgos on “Bottom Breather”:

“The second single from Baby Bones, ‘Bottom Breather,’ musically speaking, encompasses a feeling of drowning with a dichotomy of syncopated guitars and a familiar 4/4 drumbeat leading you to believe everything is OK. But that’s just the surface. As the song states, ‘So still, from shore/Turbulent below,’ so too does the song appear calm and collected as hook-filled bridges drag you further and further below its mighty depths challenging conventional interpretation of what rock music is and should be.”

Louisville, Kentucky-based surf punkers BABY BONES are proud to announce the release of their debut album, The Curse of the Crystal Teeth, due out April 14 via Gubbey Records.

Recorded by the band at Tin Pan Basement Studios in Louisville and mastered by Nick Zampiello at New Alliance East in Cambridge, Mass., The Curse of the Crystal Teeth is 17-minutes of riff-oriented acid rock made by veteran punks bent on global domination.

BABY BONES is the compilation of three forces within the local Louisville, Kentucky, music scene. The trio recorded their first song together in 2016 for the highly-publicized “We Have A Bevin Problem” compilation, a response to Kentucky’s attacks on reproductive rights, benefiting Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky. In doing so, the trio propelled themselves into an unknown–but bright–trajectory towards the cosmos.

BABY BONES is:
Dave Rucinski – Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Thomas Burgos – Guitars
Jason Brandum – Drums

Baby Bones website

Baby Bones on Bandcamp

Baby Bones on Thee Facebooks

Gubbey Records on Thee Facebooks

Gubbey Records website

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Premiere: Moonbow Throw Down Beardly in “War Bear” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

moonbow

It’s a beardly, burly, riffly party Moonbow are throwing in their new video for the title-track of 2017’s War Bear. Filmed over what was no doubt a raucous Memorial Day Weekend at the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky, it’s a stirring reminder in this day and age of anyone-with-a-cellphone-or-a–DSLR-can-make-a-video what a difference a professional production can make. And professional editing. Mean Beard Productions gives a crisp look at the four-piece in action, with a visual complement to the hook of “War Bear” no less dead-on than the memorable chorus itself, and yeah, there’s someone in there in a bear costume. How could there not be?

Moonbow made their debut on Ripple Music with 2013’s The End of Time (review here), and War Bear, despite its cartoon-tits-laden cover art, is every bit a worthy follow-up, fostering as it does a vibe somewhere between Southern and classic heavy rock in its straightforward structures and general no-nonsense attitude. A guest appearance from John Garcia is welcome on “California King,” but it’s the no-nonsense performance the four-piece itself — comprised of vocalist Matt Bischoff, guitarist David McElfresh (Hank III), bassist Ryan McAllister (ex-Valley of the Sun) and drummer Steve Earle (Hermano) — bring to the Mos Generator-worthy melodicism of “Bloodwash,” the blue-collar push of “Drinkin’ Alone” and the ultra-catchy “Sword in the Storm” that serves as the real highlight. Like the video for its titular cut, War Bear is crisp, professional, clear in its intent and making zero effort to hide the fact that it came to rock and rocking is exactly what it’s going to do.

That doesn’t necessary mean it’s unipolar — the slow-rolling first half of “Death of Giants” has a distinctly different feel from the bass-led start-stop chugging of the later “Toward the Sun” — just that it’s Moonbow‘s craftsmanship brought to the forefront and that, fortunately for the listener but not at all a coincidence, the songwriting holds up well in that starring role. Well, as much as anything can be in a starring role other than Bischoff‘s beard, anyhow. One way or the other, War Bear — which closes out with the title-track — brings forth a collection of traditionalist heavy rock tracks that still manage to find their own place in a style as modern as it is classic. If you ever wanted to know what a band sounds like when they know what they’re doing, Moonbow pretty much have that shit on lockdown.

Enjoy the premiere of “War Bear” below, followed by some comment from Bischoff on the track, the filming and the origin of the title. I’ve also included the full-stream of War Bear from Ripple‘s Bandcamp page at the bottom of the post, because what the hell? One likes to be thorough.

Dig it:

Moonbow, “War Bear” official video premiere

Matt Bischoff on the video:

When we were jamming and writing songs for the new record, we had just been jamming on a riff and when we stopped, Ryan our bass player just says “War Bear” out of nowhere. We all kinda laughed and said hell yeah and we kept messing around with the song. When I got home that night I google searched War Bear for the hell of it and found this amazing story of a Brown Bear called Wojtek who was taken in as a cub by the Polish Army 22nd Artillery. I was inspired and blown away and I wrote the song about it. Check it out online. Awesome story. Crazy how some song ideas transform like this out of nowhere.

We had a blast filming the video with friends and fans at our favorite local venue The Southgate House Revival. Memorial Day cookout, shooting the video and playing a show and filming it all. Special thanks to my Beard sponsor Mean Beard for making it all happen and Jared Barton films for kicking ass at what he does. Also thanks to Todd at Ripple Music for digging our band. Hope you enjoy and give the whole record a listen.

Moonbow is:
Matt Bischoff – Vocals
David McElfresh – Guitars
Ryan McAllister – Bass
Steve Earle – Drums

Moonbow, War Bear (2017)

Moonbow on Thee Facebooks

Moonbow on Instagram

Moonbow on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Moonbow Set April 21 Release Date for War Bear

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Midwestern heavy rockers Moonbow return on April 21 with War Bear, their second album for Ripple Music. The band features drummer Steve Earle, also known for his work in Hermano, and bassist Ryan McAllister from Valley of the Sun, so if you’ve got any doubts about the level of groove to be presented, that should probably be enough to dispel them outright. Apparently John Garcia shows up this time around too, as he did on the band’s 2013 debut, The End of Time (review here), so, you know, rock and roll and continuity and whatnot.

Haven’t heard the record yet, but hope to sometime soon, despite the cartoon-tittyriffic cover art, which seems to have become a theme for the day. Enough already with that shit. The planet sucks enough.

From the PR wire:

moonbow

MOONBOW: BMX legend/Survivor star Matt Bischoff returns with Kentucky rockers for new album on Ripple Music | Stream title track, ‘War Bear’ now

War Bear is released on 21st April 2017 via Ripple Music

Kentucky-based rockers Moonbow began in 2011 when vocalist/BMX legend Matt Bischoff and Hank 3 guitarist Davey McElfresh met at McElfresh’s Covington apartment to outline the details of a new project. What started out as a simple partnership quickly gained momentum and turned into something considerably more when Steve Earle (Afghan Whigs, Hermano) stepped in on drums and former Valley Of The Sun bassist Ryan McAllister was invited to service the low end. After only a few weeks it was obvious that something pretty badass was happening and since setting off on that one-way track, Moonbow have become a serious force to be reckoned.

With their line-up complete they immediately got to work on their debut album, The End Of Time. Due to McElfresh’s constant touring and Bischoff’s stint on reality TV show Survivor: Caramoan, the album was eventually released in 2013 and immediately gained traction both at home and abroad, securing international distribution after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Giving a nod to countrified roots and arid desert jams, The End of Time not only featured some of the meatiest riffs to ever come out of Kentucky, but also guest vocals by the legend John Garcia. Informed by McElfresh’s fuzz-savvy guitar playing, Earle’s deft skin work, McAllister’s distorted Rickenbacker groove and Bischoff’s unique take on songwriting and storytelling, the album showcased a band that were only just getting started.

In 2015, the quartet went on to release an acoustic follow up entitled Volto del Demone and with new album War Bear – their first outing for the California-based record label Ripple Music – it’s safe to say that their time is most definitely upon us.

War Bear will be given an official worldwide release on 21st April 2017 via Ripple Music.

Track Listing:
1. War Bear
2. Sword In The Storm
3. Drinkin Alone
4. Bloodwash
5. Death Of Giants
6. Alone Eyes Roam
7. California King (Featuring John Garcia)
8. The Road
9. Son Of Moses
10. Toward The Sun

Moonbow:
Matt Bischoff – Vocals
David McElfresh – Guitars
Ryan McAllister – Bass
Steve Earle – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/Moonbowrocks/
https://moonbowrocks.bandcamp.com/

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Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Dark Buddha Rising, Red Mountains, Black Space Riders, Lamprey, Godsleep, Slow Joe Crow & the Berserker Blues Band, Monobrow, Denizen, Witchsorrow

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-quarterly-review-fall-2015

We’re in the thick of it now. It’s hard sometimes putting these things together to remember that each band has worked incredibly hard to put out an album. I’ve been through that process (once), and so I know it can be harrowing at times between acts going back and forth about recording, what’s included, how to release, when, and so on. There’s a lot to cover this week — and we’re not out of the woods yet — but I hope that, just because each review is short, you don’t take that as a sign I don’t have the utmost respect for the effort that has gone into making each of these releases. It can be a tremendous pain in the ass, but of course it’s worth it when you get to the end product. We continue.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Departure Songs

we lost the sea departure songs

To be blunt, We Lost the Sea’s Departure Songs is the kind of album that immediately makes me want to own everything the band has done, in hard copy, for posterity. The Sydney outfit’s third full-length finds its crux in its two-part closing duo of “Challenger Part 1 – Flight” and “Challenger Part 2 – A Swan Song,” enacting a lush instrumental interpretation of the Space Shuttle Challenger flight and disaster that took place nearly 30 years ago in Jan. 1986. In its progression, patience, flow and discernable narrative thread it is nothing short of brilliant, a lush and sad beauty that serves as a genuinely affecting reminder of the hope for a better future that died with that shuttle’s civilian crew and the era of aspiration that tragedy brought to a close. I think the closing sample is the only time I’ve ever heard Ronald Reagan speak in my adult life and felt something other than anger, and that’s a testament to the ground Departure Songs covers – on the preceding three cuts as well as the final two – and the masterful execution on the part of We Lost the Sea.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

We Lost the Sea on Bandcamp

Dark Buddha Rising, Inversum

dark buddha rising inversum

There does not yet exist a name for what Finland’s Dark Buddha Rising bring to bear on the two side-consuming tracks of their Neurot Recordings debut and sixth album overall, Inversum. Self-recorded and presented following some shifts in lineup, the album swells to a massive head of bleak, noise-infused psychedelia, fully ritualized and self-aware but still vibrant as it makes its way further and further down into itself. It is bright black, based so much around contrasting ideas of form and tonality that to listen to it, one almost doesn’t believe that the band are accomplishing what they are on an aesthetic level, but the weight, chants, screams, cavernous feel and nod that “Eso” (24:05) and “Exo” (23:52) enact is ultimately real no matter how nightmarish and otherworldly the impression might be. A work that sounds as likely to digest as be digested, it constructs a temple of its own sound and then burns that temple and everything around it in a glorious final push into charred chaos.

Dark Buddha Rising on Thee Facebooks

Dark Buddha Rising at Neurot Recordings

Red Mountains, Down with the Sun

red mountains down with the sun

Few endorsements carry as much weight for me as that of Germany’s Nasoni Records, so when I see that venerable imprint is on board for the release of Red Mountains’ first album, Down with the Sun, expectations immediately rise. The Norwegian four-piece don’t disappoint, calling forth a heavy psychedelia weighted enough to be immersive without really falling into the trap of sounding too post-Colour Haze or Causa Sui, finding a balance right away on opener “Six Hands” between open-vibe and structured songcraft. They toy with one side or the other, getting crunchy on “Rodents” and tripping out into ambient echoing on the penultimate “Silver Grey Sky,” but that only makes the debut seem all the more promising. Particularly satisfying is the scope between “Sun” and “Sleepy Desert Blues,” which is enough to make the listener think that grunge and desert rock happened in the same place. An engaging and already-on-the-right-track start from a band who sound like they’re only going to continue to grow.

Red Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records

Black Space Riders, Refugeeum

black space riders refugeeum

It’s improper to think of Germany’s Black Space Riders as entirely psychedelic if only because that somehow implies a lack of clearheaded consciousness in their work, which as their fourth album, Refugeeum, demonstrates, is the very core tying all the expanses they cover together. As Europe comes to grip with its most dire refugee crisis since World War II, Black Space Riders take their thematic movement from such terrestrial issues (a first for them) and it makes a song like 11-minute centerpiece “Run to the Plains” all the more resonant. Of course, the big-chug groove of “Born a Lion (Homeless)” and the cosmic thrust of the penultimate “Walking Shades” still have a psychedelic resonance, but the balance between the earthly and the otherworldly do well to highlight the progressivism that’s been at work in the band’s sound all along. A considerable undertaking at 61 minutes, Refugeeum is an important step in an ongoing development that has just made another unexpected and welcome turn.

Black Space Riders on Thee Facebooks

Black Space Riders website

Lamprey, III

lamprey iii

And so, with their third and final outing, III, Portland, Oregon, trio Lamprey reserve their strongest point for their closing argument. The two-bass trio of bassist/vocalist Blaine Burnham (now drumming in Mane of the Cur), bassist Justin Brown (now bass-ing in Witch Mountain) and drummer Spencer Norman recorded the conclusive six-tracker with Adam Pike at Toadhouse (Red Fang, Mammoth Salmon, etc.) and even the slower shifts of “Harpies” and the decidedly Conan-esque “Lament of the Deathworm” breeze right by. Like their two prior releases, 2012’S The Burden of Beasts (review here) and 2011’s Ancient Secrets (review here), III is a showcase of songcraft as much as tone, and it seems to presage its own vinyl reissue, each of the two halves starting with a shorter piece, the opener “Iron Awake” a notably vicious stomp that sets a destructive vibe that the rumble and weirdo keys and leads that finish out “Gaea” seem to be answering, a quick fade bringing an end to an underrated act. They’ll be missed.

Lamprey on Thee Facebooks

Lamprey on Bandcamp

Godsleep, Thousand Sons of Sleep

godsleep thousand sons of sleep

If newcomer bruisers Godsleep seem to share some commonality of method with fellow Athenians 1000mods, it’s worth noting that on their debut, Thousand Sons of Sleep, they also share a recording engineer in George Leodis. Fair enough. The big-toned riffing and shouty burl on which Godsleep cast their foundation makes its identity felt in the post-Kyussism of “Thirteen” and stonerly grit of centerpiece “This is Mine,” which follows the extended opening salvo of “The Call,” “Thirteen” and “Wrong Turn,” the latter of which is the longest cut at 9:09 and among its most satisfyingly fuzzed nods. They’re playing to style perhaps, but doing so well, and if you’ve gotta start somewhere, recording live and coming out with a heavy-as-hell groove like what emerges in the second half of “Home” is a good place to start. Godsleep are already a year past from when they recorded Thousand Sons of Sleep in Summer 2014, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a follow-up happened sooner than later.

Godsleep on Thee Facebooks

Rock Freaks Records

Slow Joe Crow & the Berserker Blues Band, We are Blues People

slow joe crow and the berserker blues band we are blues people

Kentucky-based, cumbersomely-named Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band may indeed live up to the We are Blues People title of their debut EP, but they’re definitely riff people as well. As such, the four-track sampling of their wares draws from both sides on a cut like opener “No One Else,” the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Austin P. Lunn, bassist Patrick Flanary and drummer Thom Hammerheart in the process of figuring out how much they want to lean to one or the other. They round out with a fuzzy take on the traditional “John the Revelator,” but the earlier “Muddy Water Rising” strikes a more effective and more authentic-feeling balance, leading to the slow jam of “Before I Go,” which adds a ‘70s rock vibe to push the bluesy feel even further and expand the palette in a manner one hopes they continue to pursue as they move forward.

Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band on Thee Facebooks

Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band on Bandcamp

Monobrow, A Handwritten Letter from the Moon

monobrow a handwritten letter from the moon

Canadian trio Monobrow follow their 2014 LP, Big Sky, Black Horse (review here) with what’s essentially a new single that finds them continuing to step forward in their approach. Dubbed A Handwritten Letter from the Moon and taking its name from the 8:33 title-track, the Ottawa group’s latest offering finds the instrumental outfit smoothing out the tones a bit, still hitting into raucous grooves, but closer to Truckfighters than their prior brashness. I don’t know if it’s a method they’ll stick to going into their fourth LP next year, but the result is dynamic and suits them well. “A Handwritten Letter from the Moon” comes coupled with “Dyatlov Station 3,” a seven-minute rehearsal-space jam from 2011 that fascinatingly (and I’m sure by no coincidence) showcases some similar classic heavy rock influence. The only real shame of the release is that both these tracks are probably too long to fit on a 7”, since a small platter of vinyl would be a perfect way to hold over listeners until the next album arrives. As it stands, the digital version is hardly roughing it.

Monobrow on Thee Facebooks

Monobrow on Bandcamp

Denizen, Troubled Waters

denizen troubled waters

French heavy rocking four-piece Denizen issued their decidedly Clutchian debut, Whispering Wild Stories (review here), in 2011, and follow it through Argonauta Records with Troubled Waters, a more individualized 10-track outing that alternates between punkish rawness and classic upbeat grooves. Four years after their first album, their progression hasn’t come at the cost of songwriting, and while they still have work to do in distinguishing themselves in a crowded, varied European market, they deliver the material with an energy and vitality that makes even its familiar parts easy enough to get down with, be it the Southern heavy solo of “Jocelyne” or the meaner bite of “Enter Truckman.” I’ll take the pair of “King of Horses” and “Heavy Rider” as highlights, and remain interested to find out where Denizen head from here, as well as how long it might take them to get there. Four years between records gives Troubled Waters the feel of a second debut as much as a sophomore effort.

Denizen on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records

Witchsorrow, No Light, Only Fire

witchsorrow no light only fire

Releasing through Candlelight in their native UK, doom metal trio Witchsorrow mark a decade with their third album, No Light, Only Fire. Opener “There is No Light There is Only Fire” seems to nod immediately at Cathedral, with a speedier, chuggier take, and the record proceeds to alternate between shorter and longer tracks en route to the 14-minute closer “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas,” cuts like “Negative Utopia” and “Disaster Reality” sailing a black ship past the 10-minute mark on a rumbling sea of riffs and slow motion nod. They break for a minute with the acoustic interlude “Four Candles” before embarking on the finale, and the respite is appreciated once the agonizing undulations of “De Mysteriis Doom Sabbathas” are underway, using nearly every second of their 14:25 to affirm Witchsorrow’s trad doom mastery and bleak, darkened heft. No light? Maybe a little light, but it’s still pretty damn dark, and indeed, it smells like smoke.

Witchsorrow on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight Records

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Moonbow to Release Acoustic Album Volto del Demone on Aug. 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Moonbow

It’s been the better part of two years since Kentucky heavy rockers Moonbow made their debut with 2013’s The End of Time (review here), but the four-piece are back with the forthcoming Volto del Demone, an acoustic LP they’ve put together over the course the stretch since the debut’s arrival. Where The End of Time‘s centerpiece “Take it for Granted” boasted a guest appearance from John Garcia, with whom drummer Steve Earle played in Hermano, the new outing features Hank 3, in whose band guitarist David McElfresh also plays.

The PR wire brings art and info:

Moonbow Volto del Demone

MOONBOW ANNOUNCE RELEASE OF ACOUSTIC ALBUM & UNVEIL COVER, TRACKLIST + RELEASE DATE!

US-based heavy stoner rock band MOONBOW are finally back but with a very special record, the band just announced the release of an upcoming acoustic album titled “Volto del Demone” – set to be released worldwide on August 28th 2015!

Back in August of 2013, Moonbow released their critical acclaimed debut album ‘The End of Time’. For the last 2 years, they have been writing a lot of material and playing shows in between David McElfresh’s touring with his other and well-known band Hank 3. During Moonbow’s writing process, vocalist Matt Bischoff and guitarist David had the idea to put out an acoustic record of songs that were very personal to them and what later would become “Volto del Demone”. The songs were recorded between December 2013 and April 2015 at The Den recording studio in Petersburg, KY. Now Moonbow finally unveiled their upcoming album artwork & tracklist for “Volto del Demone”, that also features a very special guest appearance of Hank 3 himself on vocals, drums, bass, keyboards & bizarre atmospheric sounds on the song “Face of the Demon”!

Artwork and Creative Direction by Ryan McAllister

The tracklist of Moonbow’s upcoming record reads as follows:
1) Devils Floor
2) Take me Home
3) Volto del Demone
4) The Wait
5) Memories Ahead
6) Mission 35
7) One Way to Die
8) Face of the Demon (Featuring Hank 3)

MOONBOW are:
Matt Bischoff: Vocals
David McElfresh: Guitars, Fiddle, Vocals, Mandolin, Steel Guitar
Ryan McAllister: Bass
Steve Earle: Drums

For More Info Visit:
www.facebook.com/Moonbowrocks
https://moonbowrocks.bandcamp.com/

Moonbow, The End of Time (2013)

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The Glasspack Return, Ready New Album Moon Patrol

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 24th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

They’ve been on hiatus since releasing a split 7″ with Trophy Wives (review here), but Louisville heavy rockers The Glasspack have announced a return from hiatus to be marked by the release of their fifth album, Moon Patrol. Frontman “Dirty” Dave Johnson has spent the last couple years tearing it up with poli-punkers The Decline Effect, who released their self-titled debut last year (review here), and while The Glasspack have always had more than a dash of punk to their sound, Johnson says they’re moving more toward the open psychedelia of cuts like “Louisiana Strawberry” (video here) from 2007’s Dirty Women.

Seven years have passed since that album came out on Small Stone, so if nothing else, The Glasspack are definitely due. The plan is reportedly for Moon Patrol to be entirely instrumental. They’re eyeing a 2015 release, and don’t seem to be in any rush, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the plans changed somewhat along the way. But the good news is The Glasspack are back and looking to wreak havoc once more.

Get the full story below:

THE GLASSPACK V: “MOON PATROL”

After nearly three years of hiatus, the Glasspack (formed 1999 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA) is active once again and finishing up writing their 5th full-length record.

The Glasspack’s last release was the “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…” single of 2010. This release was a one-off product for Noise Pollution Records of Louisville, split with Louisville band the Trophy Wives, and produced on orange 7-inch vinyl. Along with the vinyl came a free download card for unreleased Glasspack material which included part of the Glasspack’s sold-out headlining performance at the 2008 Roadburn Festival Afterburner in Tilburg, Holland in support of the Glasspack’s 2007 full-length release, “Dirty Women,” on Small Stone Records of Detroit.

The new Glasspack full-length record will likely be entitled “Moon Patrol.” It is also very likely to be all instrumental tracks with no vocals. Instead, the band wishes to focus on and emphasis sonic psychedelic exploration in heavy Glasspack fashion. It is no surprise looking back at prior Glasspack releases that bands such as Hawkwind, Chrome, Monster Magnet, and even Pink Floyd have played parts of inspiration for the band. Have a listen to Glasspack tracks “Jim Beam and Good Green,” “Louisiana Strawberry,” and “If You Don’t have Anything Nice to Say…” to get a feel of the possible direction the band is heading into now.

Johnson has stated that the record “will be less punk and a little slower than usual, but just as brutal and fuzzy. What will be different mostly is the complexity of the songs. We are looking to humble ourselves, the band, and others who listen with the sublime fear of psychedelia, not that happy hippy shit.”

The band has stated that the release will take some time, will be done right, and with 100% artistic direction in every way by the band members. The band has no potential record label in mind yet and is prepared to release the record itself if need be. There is even talk of it possibly being free. The bands believe release will be sometime in 2015. Most of the writing work is already finished.

In spring of this year while relocating in Louisville, Johnson retrieved his guitar equipment from storage, as well as the Glasspack’s extensive library (which has recently become part of the University of Louisville archives department). Johnson has stated, “I was moving all my stuff for the first time in a decade or two to under one roof. There was the Glasspack’s library and there was the old red bastard of an American Telecaster that a few years ago I sort of considered cursed. One day I was bored, picked up the Tele, and told myself ‘no Glasspack riffs,’ but that is exactly what came out. Only this time, the riffs were new and different. Most importantly, they were fun, powerful, and ‘Glasspack worthy.’ I told a couple friends that I would jam and all of a sudden, it seemed like everyone close to me wanted to do the Glasspack or hear new Glasspack. So, I started thinking.”

“Then, Nick Hall came over. He was the lead guitarist for the Glasspack before hiatus in 2010. He played lead guitar and synth keys on ‘If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…” We jammed at my home and it was amazing. Nick is a trained musician and words cannot describe just how great he is. I had once tried to describe him as Frank Zappa, Robert Fripp, and Eddie Hazel rolled into one and though this is true in a sense, he is even more than that. He makes the Glasspack fun, complex, and fresh, and ten times more powerful. Just see the Noise Pollution single from 2010. After jamming, we decided it was time to act.”

“Before hiatus Nick and I had discussed my desire to one day make an instrumental space-rock record for the Glasspack. Nick had not forgotten and was all for bringing this idea to back to life. This idea had stemmed from the beginning of the Glasspack. I initially in 1999 had two ideas and band names: ‘the Glasspack’ and “Moon Patrol.” The Glasspack is the Glasspack, but the other was intended to be mutually exclusive from the idea of the Glasspack. It was to be a space rock band. I obviously went with the Glasspack. However, I now know that the only constant in this universe is change and that which is will one day become that which it is not, if it is to survive at all. It is inevitable. Therefore, the Glasspack is back, it will change, and change for the better because I will let it now. Moreover, there was always a hint of space-rock in the Glasspack anyway.”

The Glasspack will release more information on the upcoming album soon. The full band for the release is as follows:

“Dirty” Dave Johnson – vox, guitars (Decline Effect, Muddy Nasty River, and Dirty Bird)
Nicolas Hall – lead guitars, synth keys (Graffiti, Zach Longoria Project)
Rodney Roads – guitars, bass (The Hookers, Brothers of Conquest, Blade of the Ripper, and Purple Jesus)
Billy Lease – guitars, bass (Graffiti, Zach Longoria Project, and The Broken Spurs)
Mark Campbell – drums, percussions (Muddy Nasty River, Purple Jesus, Opposable Thumbs, and Strike City)

https://www.facebook.com/theGlasspack
http://www.youtube.com/user/theglasspack
http://theglasspackkentucky.blogspot.com/

The Glasspack, “If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…”

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: All Them Witches, Rainbows are Free, Idre, Nyarlathotep, Panopticon

Posted in Radio on July 11th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Click here to listen.

There doesn’t seem to ever be a break with this stuff. 16 records joined The Obelisk Radio playlist today, and that’s still got me behind on checking out more to add. I don’t know what the state of that hard drive is, but I might not be far off from needing to add a second one. It’s become an archive for me.

Diligent and admirable bastard that he is, Slevin is working on an automatically refreshing script that will allow listeners to see what was played over the last 24 hours, which will be a big help if a file is missing its ID3 tags — that being how the player identifies the songs — as I know things sometimes are. I get asked regularly what was played at a specific time, so hopefully this will be able to answer that question.

So things are in the works, but of course there’s a ton of music to talk about in the meantime, and that’s the fun part anyway.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 11, 2014:

All Them Witches, Effervescent EP

There are at least two distinct jams at work in the 25-minute single track that makes up Effervescent, the 2014 EP from Nashville psych-blues rockers All Them Witches. The Fender Rhodes of Allan Van Cleave and airy guitar of Ben McLeod feature heavily in both, as bassist Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer Robby Staebler (interview here) provide a foundation on which to space out, and the two pieces find a bridge in hypnotic, psychedelic stretching and backwards noise beginning at around 13 minutes in before building back up. All throughout, the vibe is central, there is movement, and the four-piece demonstrate that the chemistry they showed burgeoning on last year’s brilliant Lightning at the Door (discussed here) was no fluke, but the beginning of a grand and creative exploration that finds its next installment here. It may be a stopgap — formerly their primary means of release, they’ve recently pulled their full-lengths down from Bandcamp; one expects big, got-signed-type news from them at any moment — but Effervescent is fluid and rich, and as deep as you want to go in listening to it, it’s willing to take you there and further. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Nyarlathotep, The Shadow over Innsmouth

Some six years after releasing their initial The End is Always Near demo, New Jersey black metal outfit (whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I know personally) Nyarlathotep follow-up with the Lovecraftian full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth. Based around the  short story of the same name, the album breaks down into five extended tracks plus an intro of rage-fueled atmospherics. Using programmed drums to their advantage on “Old Zadok Allen” — the only proper song here under 10 minutes — they add an industrial feel with a keyboard-led midsection backed by vague, ambient screams. The density in the material is striking, but even at their most unbridled — as on the blasting, solo-topped early moments in the title-track — Nyarlathotep hold their commitment to setting a mood firm, and the blown-out, distorted soundscape they create across the release is grim and otherworldly enough to be worthy of its subject matter. It is a complex, biting execution that won’t be for everyone, but that seethes in its quiet parts and gnashes its pointed teeth with monstrous force. Nyarlathotep on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Idre, Idre


Oklahoma City trio Idre specialize in ambient fluidity and deeply-weighted tonal crush. Their self-released, self-titled debut long-player is comprised of two extended cuts — “Factorie” (26:41) and “Witch Trial” (13:17) — that each impress with their patience, their impact and their ability to contrast the generally claustrophobic feel of post-metal with an open-spaced, salt-of-the-earth pulse. Within its first 10 minutes, “Factorie” has moved from undulating waves of riffing to vast, strumming, Across Tundras-esque roll, and never does it seem to be meandering without purpose in the noisy stages to come. It builds and collapses, and when they seem the most gone, the clean, twanging vocals return to finish out, leading to the parabolically constructed “Witch Trial,” which marries Earth-style drone and galloping drums effectively to create a decidedly Western feel while still building toward, and eventually moving through a sonically pummeling apex. Once again, vocals are sparse, but perfectly placed almost as if to remind the listener of how small a human being can be in so wide a space as the Midwest. Like that landlocked region, Idre‘s Idre is expansive and lets you see for miles. Idre on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean

Led by the substantial pipes of vocalist B. Fain Kistler, Norman, Oklahoma, four-piece Rainbows are Free seem keen on finding the place where classic doom and heavy rock meet, and on their second full-length, Waves ahead of the Ocean (released by Guestroom Records), they just about get there. Kistler is a singer worthy of comparison to Grand MagusJB Christoffersson, but Rainbows are Free are less grandiose overall, early songs like “The Botanist,” the title-track and the cumbersomely-titled opener “Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place beyond Hell” nestling into heavy, engaging grooves marked out by the choice riffing of Richie Tarver, the bass work of Chad Hogue and drums of Bobby Onspaugh. Unpretentious and professional in their presentation, they doom up an otherwise Clutch-style boogie in “Cadillac” before going full-on trad metal in “Snake Bitten by Love,” and ably making their way through a Dio Sabbath push on “Burn and Die,” which works well despite feeling a long way from the upbeat rockin’ of earlier highlight “Sonic Demon” and leads smoothly into closer “Comet,” the six-and-a-half-minute spacier thrust of which seems to be seems to be where Rainbows are Free most choose to harken to the psychedelia one might expect from their moniker. They most drive toward the epic in their finale, and the payoff there is churning and insistent in a way that more than justifies the song’s position on the 37-minute record, but even then have a keen eye for structure and holding the attention of their audience. An impeccably put together album from a band more than ready to turn heads. Rainbows are Free on Thee Facebooks, Guestroom Records on Bandcamp.

Panopticon, Roads to the North


Despite the bluegrass influence and liberal inclusion of banjo amidst its blackened onslaught, Panopticon‘s Roads to the North (released on Bindrune) is perhaps most American of all for its pulling together seemingly disparate elements in defiance of European traditionalism. Billed as and creating the standard for American folk metal, it nonetheless is in conversation with European black metal — a conversation that in my head looks something like it’s being chased à la Benny Hill for its heresies — while purposefully working against its tenets. Roads to the North is the fifth full-length from the one-man project of Kentucky’s Austin Lunn, and made in collaboration with Krallice‘s Colin Marston (among others), it elicits a sprawl through both its metallic extremity and its devotion to the aesthetic it pioneers. It makes for a heady 74-minute listen, but Panopticon are cohesive throughout — five records deep, they should be — and one doesn’t embark on an album like Roads to the North lightly or without wanting full immersion into an evocative and blistering landscape. That’s just what you get. Panopticon on Thee Facebooks, Bindrune Recordings.

For the full list of albums added to The Obelisk Radio this week and to see the latest updates, click here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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