Desertfest London 2020: I Mean, Seriously. God Damn.

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

desertfest london 2020 header

Even apart from how it relates to the other festivals under the Desertfest banner — Berlin, Belgium, New York — Desertfest London set an extremely high standard for itself last year, and it was obvious coming into Desertfest London 2020 that they’d have their work cut out for them in reaching those same heights. Their lineup isn’t finished yet, and of course we’ll see how it all looks when the day-schedule is fully unveiled, but bringing Lowrider on board to support their first release in 20 years, Refractions, is nothing if not significant — they played there in 2013 and were fantastic — but they’ll also be the the UK debut for Khemmis from the US and at least the first time at Desertfest for MaidaVale from Sweden. They’ve pretty much lost their minds and added 20 bands in a single shot here, so there’s plenty to dig into, but you’ll note King Witch, who are frickin’ awesome, as well as The Hazytones, Alunah and the slew of others taking part. They’re building a desert empire in Camden Town.

Has it been nine years already? I may have to start planning my return for year 10 if they’ll have me.

From thee social medias:

desertfest london 2020 poster

DESERTFEST ADDS 20 NAMES TO LONDON LINE-UP, INCLUDING GRAVEYARD AS NEXT HEADLINER

Tickets – https://dice.fm/festival/desertfest20

Desertfest is thrilled to be kicking off the new year in style with the apt number of 20 names added for our 9th edition this May. Sweden’s most beloved export of hard rock, the impeccable Graveyard will bring their unique bluesy tones to London as headliners of Desertfest London 2020. The Swedish family reunion continues as we welcome back one of the most synonymous desert rock (and Desertfest) bands, the iconic Lowrider return with not only a rare live performance, but their first record in almost two decades. A masterclass in the melting pot of genre fluidity comes from two-man powerhouse Big Business, whilst psychedelic stoner rock trio Somali Yacht Club will make the trip from Ukraine to play Desertfest for the first time.

Speaking of debuts we’ll play host to the first UK show for Denver melancholic doom outfit Khemmis and Sweden delivers once again with rock’n’roll four-piece MaidaVale. Elsewhere on the bill we are thrilled to welcome Your Highness, Hexis, FIREBREATHER, The Hazytones, Opium Lord, King Witch, GURT, Alunah, 1782, Tides Of Sulfur, Doomicidal, Under, A Gazillion Angry Mexicans and Dunes.

As you may have noticed, The Picturebooks have unfortunately had to cancel their performance at Desertfest due to a schedule conflict out of our control. However with more acts still to be unveiled, plus day tickets on sale soon there’s much more to come for our 9th edition.

Weekend tickets are on sale now via this link – https://link.dice.fm/desertfest20

Artwork by Piotr w. Osburne

https://www.facebook.com/events/464163361105416/
http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/

Lowrider, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition (2017)

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Monolith on the Mesa 2020 Lineup Update: Khemmis, Mondo Drag, Heavy Temple & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

I’ll be 100 percent honest with you and say I don’t know how recent the lineup additions are here, but I’m trying basically to keep up with Monolith on the Mesa 2020 and there are names listed below that weren’t included in the last lineup update I got from the PR wire, so if I’m a month behind, I’m sorry. It’s been a busy month. Some of those additions are significant as well, from Warhorse, Heavy Temple and Yatra making the trek from the East Coast to Mondo Drag coming from San Diego, Khemmis from Denver and Distances from the relatively nearby Albuquerque. All these and the others listed below will convene at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership for what’s the second Monolith on the Mesa Festival, which I have very little doubt is precisely the kind of party it looks like on paper. To wit, it looks like quite a party.

I went to the fest’s website and cut and pasted the lineup. That’s what I did. Swiped the logo while I was there too. Full confession.

With dreams of the desert in Springtime:

 

MONOLITH ON THE MESA 2020 logo

Monolith on the Mesa 2020

May 28-30, 2020 at Taos Mesa Brewing

Monolith on the Mesa, a “High” Desert Experience, is an independent three-day festival entering its second year in 2020. The festival takes place at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, and on the grounds of Hotel Luna Mystica, just outside of Taos, New Mexico. The festival is focused on heavy riff-rock acts from across multiple sub-genres including stoner rock, heavy psych, doom metal, sludge, drone, and retro rock. The festival includes interactive art installations and visual projections throughout the grounds to compliment the mind bending sounds of the bands. Festival capacity is limited to 1,500 to provide an intimate experience. Bands perform on the club-style indoor stage, and the scenic “earthship” outdoor amphitheater stage.

Bands Playing at Monolith on the Mesa:
Black Maria
Destroyer of Light
distances
Duel
Earthride
Fatso Jetson
Great Electric Quest
Heavy Temple
Khemmis
Love Gang
Magic Castles
Mark Deutrom
Mars Red Sky
Mondo Drag
Mondo Generator
Mountain of Smoke
Nebula
Prism Bitch
Ruby the Hatchet
Sons of Otis
Sun Dog
Warhorse
Wo Fat
Yatra
Yawning Man
Year of the Cobra

DATES AND TIMES:
Box office opens at 9 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
May 28th doors at 4 pm til 1:30 am
May 29th doors at 12 noon; outside stage til midnight; indoor stage til 1:30 am
May 30th doors at 12 noon; outdoor stage til midnight; indoor stage til 1:30 am

VENUE INFORMATION:
Taos Mesa Brewing: The Mothership
20 ABC Mesa Rd.
El Prado, New Mexico 89529
https://www.taosmesabrewing.com/

TICKET INFORMATION:
Rain or shine event! No refunds!
https://tickets.holdmyticket.com/tickets/344140

https://www.monolithonthemesa.com
https://www.facebook.com/monolithonthemesa
https://www.instagram.com/monolithonthemesa

Monolith on the Mesa 2020 promo

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Khemmis Announce December West Coast Dates with Un

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

khemmis

The mighty force of metallic melancholy known as Khemmis will finish out 2019 with a nine-day run down the West Coast, the band taking unto themselves the potentially arduous task of driving through the Rockies in wintertime in order to get from their home in Denver through Utah and Idaho before hitting the more temperate coastline and circling south, ending up where they began with a hometown show at Bluebird Theater on Dec. 14. They’re joined in the endeavor by Un from Seattle, and I can’t help but wonder if this might tie into news of a new album coming next year, either in February, when the music industry returns to life after its winter hibernation, or sometime in Spring. Depends on when they record, duh, but as I haven’t seen news one way or the other about that — doesn’t mean it hasn’t been out there, just that it’s a thing I don’t know — I obviously can’t speak to it. One way or the other, I’d categorize a new LP from them in 2020 as “likely.”

But if “definite” is more your thing, they’re definitely touring. Here are the dates:

khemmis un poster

KHEMMIS Announce West Coast Desolation Tour 2019!

Denver, Colorado based doomed heavy metal quartet KHEMMIS are proud to announce their West Coast Desolation Tour 2019. The 9-date tour will kick-off on December 16th in Salt Lake City and conclude in Denver, Colorado on December 14th. Joining the band on the tour is Seattle funeral doom warlocks UN.

KHEMMIS comments, “After the success of the first leg of the North American Desolation Tour we are thrilled to announce the West Coast Desolation Tour a nine-date headlining trek with support from Seattle funeral doom warlocks UN. We will conclude the outing with a very special hometown show–our only one this year–featuring a rare local appearance by black metal hellions WAYFARER. Tickets for all shows will go on sale this Friday, we’ll see all of you on the road this winter!”

Tickets will be available for purchase on Friday, August 23 at 10AM PST. For more information visit: www.khemmisdoom.com

Confirmed dates for the KHEMMIS West Coast Desolation Tour 2019 with special guests UN are:
12/06/2019 Salt Lake City UT • Soundwell
12/07/2019 Boise ID • Neurolux
12/08/2019 Seattle WA • The Highline
12/09/2019 Portland OR • Doug Fir Lounge
12/10/2019. Oakland CA • Starline Social Club
12/11/2019 Los Angeles CA • The Echo
12/12/2019 San Diego CA • Brick By Brick
12/13/2019 Phoenix AZ • Club Red
12/14/2019 Denver CO • Bluebird Theater (w/ Wayfarer)

Khemmis are:
Phil Pendergast // guitar, vocals
Ben Hutcherson // guitar, vocals
Daniel Beiers // bass
Zach Coleman // drums

http://www.facebook.com/khemmisdoom
http://khemmis.bandcamp.com
www.nuclearblast.de/
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa

Khemmis, “Isolation” official video

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Khemmis Announce July East Coast & Midwest Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

khemmis

Colorado’s Khemmis, recently signed to Nuclear Blast, will head out on tour once again in July, doing shows up and down the Eastern Seaboard before hitting into Canada and sweeping back through the Upper Midwest. They go supporting last year’s Desolation (review here), and if you’re on the West Coast and feeling left out of the party, rest easy. There’s still plenty of 2019 left, and somehow I seriously doubt they’ve forgotten California exists. Give it time, is what I’m saying. Fall, maybe, if they don’t go to Europe, or even winter. They’re bound to show up sooner or later.

And in the meantime, they’ll be joined for the upcoming trip by Cloak from Georgia, and the dates follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

khemmis tour

KHEMMIS Announce North American Desolation 2019 Tour!

Denver, Colorado based doomed heavy metal quartet KHEMMIS are proud to announce their North American Desolation 2019 tour. The 16-date tour will kick-off on July 11th at Growlers in Memphis, Tennessee. The trek will make stops in Richmond, Philadelphia, and Detroit before concluding on July 28th at Nightspot in Bloomington, Illinois. Joining the band on the tour is Atlanta, Georgia’s metal quartet CLOAK. Prior to the main run. KHEMMIS will play a stand alone show on June 14th at Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins Colorado.

KHEMMIS comments, “We’re excited to hit the road for our first proper headlining tour in support of ‘Desolation.’ This trek features our first Southeastern shows as well as dates in some of our favorite cities/venues, including Saint Vitus in Brooklyn and Reggies in Chicago. If that wasn’t enough, we’re bringing black ‘n’ roll maniacs CLOAK with us! Make sure you grab your tickets early, since these are our only eastern US and Canadian shows for 2019. Brush up on the lyrics, practice your air guitar moves, and catch us on tour this summer!”

Tickets will be available for purchase on Friday, April 5th at 10AM local time. For more information visit: www.khemmisdoom.com

Confirmed dates for the North American Desolation 2019 tour are:
06/14/2019 Hodi’s Half Note – Fort Collins, CO*
07/11/2019 Growlers – Memphis, TN
07/12/2019 Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
07/13/2019 Clairvoyance Fest – Lexington, KY
07/14/2019 The End – Nashville, TN
07/16/2019 The Maywood – Raleigh, NC
07/17/2019 The Camel – Richmond, VA
07/18/2019 Songbyrd – Washington, DC
07/19/2019 Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY
07/20/2019 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
07/21/2019 Great Scott – Boston, MA
07/23/2019 Bar Le Ritz – Montreal, QC
07/24/2019 Velvet Underground – Toronto, ON
07/25/2019 The Sanctuary – Detroit, MI
07/26/2019 Reggies – Chicago, IL
07/27/2019 7th Street Entry – Minneapolis, MN
07/28/2019 Nightshop – Bloomington, IL
*=no cloak

Khemmis are:
Phil Pendergast // guitar, vocals
Ben Hutcherson // guitar, vocals
Daniel Beiers // bass
Zach Coleman // drums

http://www.facebook.com/khemmisdoom
http://khemmis.bandcamp.com
http://twitter.com/khemmisdoom
www.nuclearblast.de/
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa

Khemmis, “Isolation” official video

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Khemmis Sign to Nuclear Blast USA

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Denver doom exports Khemmis have inked a worldwide deal with Nuclear Blast. You might recall their 2018 album, the wide-lauded Desolation (review here), came out in the US via 20 Buck Spin and Nuclear Blast in Europe, so the difference now is they’re a Nuclear Blast band all the way, as A&R legend Monte Conner continues to mine some of the underground’s finest acts and bring them into the label’s fold. Khemmis right now are labelmates with the likes of WitchcraftKadavarGraveyard, as well as a slew of landmark metallers any of whom would make just as likely tourmates for a band like Khemmis as the rock acts just mentioned.

Probably kind of inevitable, but emblematic of the surge that has been Khemmis‘ career to this point. I saw the note on the PR wire and said, “Yeah, that makes sense.”

Here’s the announcement:

khemmis

KHEMMIS SIGN TO NUCLEAR BLAST WORLDWIDE!

Nuclear Blast are proud to announce the now worldwide signing of Denver, Colorado based doomed heavy metal quartet Khemmis. Welcome to the global family! Khemmis released their third studio album Desolation in June 2018, to rapturous praise from fans and media alike. They are currently working on new material, and are planning to tour throughout 2019.

Khemmis commented on the news: “We are honored and excited to join the Nuclear Blast roster alongside so many legendary artists. Endless thanks to Monte Conner, Mark Palmer, Yorck Eysel and the rest of the amazing team at Nuclear Blast for sharing in our vision for the future. We also send our unending gratitude to Dave Adelson of 20 Buck Spin, who not only took a chance on us when he released Absolution in 2015 but also became a true friend and brother to us over the last few years. Finally, thanks to everyone who has supported us by seeing us live, snagging a shirt, and/or picking up a CD or LP. Without all of you, none of this would be possible. We’ve got some very exciting announcements about tours, festivals, and new music coming soon. Cheers!”

Khemmis’ passion for progressive and soulful heavy music is more evident than ever in 2018’s Desolation. Though undeniably influenced by doom and classic metal, to tag the quartet with those labels doesn’t do justice to what they’ve accomplished; a perfect representation of modern heavy metal that integrates the past in a way only possible with the faculty of hindsight. It’s impossible to ignore the lengths that the four piece goes to in order to master their craft and produce a highly unique form of heavy sound. Their magnificently uplifting, yet sorrowful groovy riffs weave the listener along on an unparalleled journey. Desolation is not just the best Khemmis record to date but a testament to the quality and evolution that heavy metal is still capable of.

Having worked for the third time with Dave Otero of Flatline Audio in Denver, the band and producer achieved a deep mutual understanding, able to arrive at the perfect symbiosis of song writing, arrangement, and production value.
Formed in Denver in 2012, Khemmis have released three albums to date. 2015’s Absolution and 2016’s Hunted painted a unique portrait; encompassing spiraling progressive doom, fuzz-toned stoner riffs, syrupy sludge and churning classic grooves. They transcended traditional doom forming elegant yet dramatic tracks, conveying their unique sense of melancholy edged with a sense of foreboding.

With latest record Desolation, Khemmis have finally reached a more international audience, winning over hearts and minds across the globe.

Khemmis are:
Phil Pendergast // guitar, vocals
Ben Hutcherson // guitar, vocals
Daniel Beiers // bass
Zach Coleman // drums

http://www.facebook.com/khemmisdoom
http://khemmis.bandcamp.com
http://twitter.com/khemmisdoom
www.nuclearblast.de/mydyingbride
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa

Khemmis, “Isolation” official video

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The Top 20 of 2018 Year-End Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

derp

If you’re reading this, congratulations on making it all the way through the existential rollercoaster that was 2018.

I hope you celebrated that year’s end and this year’s beginning in riotous fashion if that’s your thing, and if you’re more the stay-at-home-and-don’t-break-stuff type, I hope that was fun too.

Over the last month, best-of lists have been collected from all around the world and as we move into 2019, it’s time to do the results of the Year-End Poll for 2018.

What a year. As I look back on the lists submitted, of course I can’t help but think how absolutely incredible 2018 was for music. With the world crumbling around, creativity surged, and the quality of output was off the charts. I published my own list last week and was quickly inundated with stuff I forgot or that I missed owing to being robbed earlier this year — I guess I didn’t even realize until the post went up just how much that screwed me — and I’m sure there’s more still out there from what everyone turned in. It’s infinite. It keeps going. Trends change. Sounds change. People change. Creativity flourishes.

But I think if you’re reading this, you know why we’re here. We wound up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 discrete releases submitted. That’s more than five for every day of the year. And they came from 547 people, which is amazing. Accordingly, there should be plenty here to keep you busy for a while.

Not exactly suspenseful as to which was the album of the year, but it’s still interesting to see where stuff landed. Just to remind, there are two lists, one of the raw votes, and one in which a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. Thanks as always to Slevin for the help in setting up the back end functionality and compilation scripts.

Let’s go:

Top 20 of 2018 — Weighted Results

sleep the sciences

1. Sleep, The Sciences (1,087 points)
2. YOB, Our Raw Heart (721)
3. High on Fire, Electric Messiah (478)
4. Earthless, Black Heaven (413)
5. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (408)
6. Windhand, Eternal Return (387)
7. All Them Witches, ATW (373)
8. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland (354)
9. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions (323)
10. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe (315)
11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers (285)
12. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II (274)
13. Graveyard, Peace (225)
14. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman (222)
15. Weedpecker, III (212)
16. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown (197)
17. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker (189)
18. Conan, Existential Void Guardian (188)
19. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark (167)
20. ASG, Survive Sunrise (164)

Honorable Mention:
Messa, Feast for Water (150)
Gozu, Equilibrium (148)
Judas Priest, Firepower (148)
Naxatras, III (148)
Forming the Void, Rift (146)

I’m not saying everyone had to love the Sleep record, but there’s no way it wasn’t the biggest underground heavy release of the year. That top spot was established the first day the poll went up and while YOB caught up as both neared 100 votes, there was no doubt how it would ultimately shake out. It was pretty clear early on what people were passionate about, but there are some interesting differences between the raw vote and the weighted results even high on the list, as you’ll see below.

Top 20 of 2018 — Raw Votes

sleep the sciences

1. Sleep, The Sciences (263 votes)
2. YOB, Our Raw Heart (185)
3. High on Fire, Electric Messiah (141)
4. Windhand, Eternal Return (115)
5. Earthless, Black Heaven (109)
6. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (102)
7. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland (101)
8. All Them Witches, ATW (95)
8. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions (95)
9. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe (93)
10. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers (77)
10. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II (77)
11. Graveyard, Peace (69)
12. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman (67)
13. Weedpecker, III (63)
14. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker (57)
14. Conan, Existential Void Guardian (57)
15. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown (54)
16. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark (50)
17. ASG, Survive Sunrise (48)
18. Gozu, Equilibrium (46)
19. Forming the Void, Rift (45)
20. Judas Priest, Firepower (43)
20. Khemmis, Bloodletting (43)
20. Mos Generator, Shadowlands (43)
20. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back (43)

Honorable Mention:
Messa, Feast for Water (41)
Domkraft, Flood (40)
Naxatras, III (40)
Thou, Magus (40)

Everything else got fewer than 40 raw votes. Why cap it at 40? I don’t know. Good a place as any. And when a top 20 has 26 releases on it, I don’t imagine there will be too many complaints about not enough stuff being included. One can hope, anyhow. You can see the difference between Sleep and everyone else here as well, a pretty precipitous drop after both them and YOB, and YOB and High on Fire — the top three being well ahead of everyone else in terms of general agreement.

The ‘Respect the Hustle’ Award

Somewhere around the middle of the month, I noticed a massive surge of votes for a band called Entropía and their debut album, Invisible. A bunch of people with lists of 20 just including Entropía. I’ve included them below, you can see them. I didn’t know what was up, whether it was the band spamming the vote or what, so I sent them a message. Turns out they had sent the link to their email list and asked for votes, and that’s how they all got in. Well, okay.

They wound up with well over 750 raw votes (to remind, Sleep got 263), and it didn’t feel representative to have them be album of the year, but hey, I respect the hustle, so they get the award accordingly. Nicely done, folks. I’ve been doing Year-End Polls since like 2010 and that’s never happened before. Their totals were 2,367 points and 777 votes.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading. Whether this is the only post you’ve seen this year or you click ‘Like’ on everything that comes across your Facebook feed, your support is tremendously appreciated. This is the only post that will go up today, but we’ll be back to business as usual tomorrow, and in the meantime, you’ll find everybody’s list included after the jump.

All the best for 2019.

Read more »

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Khemmis Announced as First Band for Magnetic Eye Records’ Dirt [Redux] Tribute Compilation

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

khemmis

I don’t know what song Khemmis have signed on to do for Magnetic Eye Records‘ next tribute compilation, Dirt [Redux], but as the label takes on one of the all-time classic albums of the 1990s — as well as the soundtrack to a goodly portion of my youth — they’ve started out well in choosing the acts to participate. The project has unsurprisingly met its corwdfunding goal via preorders and will press head with Khemmis as the first announced band involved. Who’s next? Hell if I know. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in this thing? It’s fucking Dirt. My real question is who’s going to do “Iron Gland?” I bet if you doomed that out you could get five minutes from it, easy.

Of course, Magnetic Eye is also on the cusp of issuing its Pink Floyd tribute, The Wall [Redux], which follows homages to Jimi Hendrix and Helmet, and has also seen a massive response. Tune in Oct. 26 around these parts for a rather sizable feature on that, and I’ll hope to have more to come on Dirt [Redux] as well, since the source material is one of my favorite albums, period.

Here’s the Khemmis announcement:

alice in chains dirt art

KHEMMIS confirmed to appear on “DIRT [REDUX]”

Riding the wave of excitement and success around The Wall [Redux], the massive Pink Floyd homage featuring The Melvins, Pallbearer, Ruby the Hatchet, Mark Lanegan, ASG, Scott Reeder and many others, Magnetic Eye Records has seized the moment and set its sights on the next volume in its popular Redux series.

And, given the staggering array of bands MER secured for its latest outing, the label can afford to be selective.

With that in mind, Magnetic Eye is ecstatic to announce that, pending the expected logistical discussions, acclaimed Denver prog-doomsters KHEMMIS have enthusiastically joined the project.

Says Khemmis, “We are thrilled to announce that we will contribute a track to Magnetic Eye Records’ newest project, a reimagining of the legendary Alice in Chains album Dirt. After the success of their last undertaking, Pink Floyd’s The Wall (featuring Pallbearer, (the) Melvins, ASG, and many more), the Magnetic Eye crew set their sights on Seattle. We are honored to be part of the record; just wait until you find out what song we’re covering and who else is on this project.”

If The Wall [Redux] and the signing on of Khemmis are any indication, Dirt [Redux] will be another stunning volume in this ongoing series that pays tribute to iconic musical works classic and modern by re-imagining them from cover to cover.

The Kickstarter campaign to move the project forward must meet its pre-order goal by the morning of Wednesday, October 17 to move forward, with more info available at kickstarter.com/projects/magneticeye/dirt-redux/

store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Alice in Chains, “Hate to Feel”

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Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Morag Tong, Holy Mushroom, Naisian, Haunted, Pabst, L.M.I., Fuzz Forward, Onségen Ensemble, The Heavy Eyes

Posted in Reviews on July 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

I always say the same thing on the Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. Day 3. The halfway point. I say it every time. The fact is, doing these things kind of takes it out of me. All of it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy listening to all these records — well, I don’t enjoy all of them, but I’m talking more about the process — just that it’s a lot to take in and by the time I’m done each day, let alone at the end of the week, I’m fairly exhausted. So every time we hit the halfway point of a Quarterly Review, I feel somewhat compelled to note it. Cresting the hill, as it were. It’s satisfying to get to this point without my head falling off.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Khemmis, Desolation

khemmis desolation

Continuing their proclivity for one-word titles, Denver doom forerunners Khemmis take a decisive turn toward the metallic with their third album for 20 Buck Spin, the six-track/41-minute Desolation. Songs like opener “Bloodletting” and its side B counterpart “The Seer” are still tinged with doom, but the NWOBHM gallop in “Isolation” and “Maw of Time” – as well as the sheer force of the latter – is an unexpected twist. Khemmis showed classic metal elements on 2016’s was-a-very-big-deal Hunted (review here) and 2015’s debut, Absolution (review here), but it’s a question of balance, and as they’ve once again worked with producer Dave Otero, one can only read the shift as a conscious decision. The harder edge suits them – certainly suits the screams in “Maw of Time” and side A finale/album highlight “Flesh to Nothing” – and as Khemmis further refine their sound, they craft its most individualized manifestation to-date. There’s no hearing Desolation and mistaking Khemmis for another band. They’ve come into their own.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin website

 

Morag Tong, Last Knell of Om

morag tong last knell of om

A rumbling entry into London’s Heavy Generation, the four-piece Morag Tong unfold voluminous ritual on their debut full-length, Last Knell of Om. Largely slow and largely toned, the work of guitarists Alex Clarke and Lewis Crane brings the low end to the forefront along with the bass of James Atha while drummer Adam Asquith pushes the lurch forward on cuts like “New Growth” and “To Soil,” the band seemingly most comfortable when engaged in crawling tempos and weighted pummel. Asquith also adds semi-shouted vocals to the mire, which, surrounded by distortion as they are, only make the proceedings sound even more massive. There’s an ambience to “We Answer” and near-13-minute closer “Ephemera: Stare Through the Deep,” which gives the record a suitably noisy finish, but much of what Morag Tong are going for in sound depends on the effectiveness of their tonality, and they’ve got that part down on their debut. Coupled with the meditative feel in some of this material, that shows marked potential on the band’s part for future growth.

Morag Tong on Thee Facebooks

Morag Tong on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul

holy mushroom blood and soul

Working quickly to follow-up their earlier-2018 sophomore long-player, Moon (review here), Spain’s Holy Mushroom present Blood and Soul, an EP comprised of two songs recorded live in the studio. I’m not entirely sure why it’s split up at all, as the two-minute “Introito” – sure enough, a little introduction – feeds so smoothly into the 19-minute “Blood and Soul” itself, but fair enough either way as the trio shift between different instrumentation, incorporating sax, piano and organ among the guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and unfold a longform heavy psychedelic trip that not only builds on what they were doing with Moon but is every bit worthy of being released on its own. I don’t know if it was recorded at the same time as the record or later – both were done at Asturcon Studios – but it’s easy to see why the band would want to highlight “Blood and Moon.” Between the deep-running mix, the easy rhythmic flow into and out from drifting spaciousness, and the turn in the middle third toward more expansive arrangement elements, it’s an engaging motion that makes subtly difficult shifts seem utterly natural along the way. And even if you didn’t hear the latest full-length, Blood and Soul makes for a fitting introduction to who Holy Mushroom are as a band and what they can do.

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Clostridium Records website

 

Naisian, Rejoinder

naisian rejoinder

Sludge-infused noise rock serves as the backdrop for lyrical shenanigans on the three-song Rejoinder EP from Sheffield, UK, trio Naisian. Running just 12 minutes, it’s a quick and thickened pummel enacted by the band, who work in shades of post-metal for “90 ft. Stone,” “Mantis Rising” and “Lefole,” most especially in the middle cut, but even there, the focus in on harsh vocals and lumbering sonic heft. It’s now been seven years since the band sort-of issued their debut album, Mammalian, and six since they followed with the Monocle EP, and the time seems to have stripped down their sound to a degree. “Lefole” is the longest track on Rejoinder at 5:18 and it’s still shorter than every other song Naisian have put out to-date. Their crunch lacks nothing for impact, however, and to go with the swing of “Lefole,” everybody seems to contribute to a vocal assault that only adds to the punishing but thoughtful vibe.

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Haunted, Dayburner

haunted dayburner

The effects-laden vocal swirl at the outset of Haunted’s “Mourning Sun” and moments in the Italian act’s longer-form material, “Waterdawn” or “Orphic,” for example, will invariably lead some listeners to point to a Windhand influence, but the character of the band’s second album, Dayburner (on Twin Earth, DHU and Graven Earth all), follows their 2016 self-titled (review here) by holding steady to a developing identity of its own. To be sure, vocalist Christina Chimirri, guitarists Francesco Bauso and Francesco Orlando, bassist Frank Tudisco and drummer Dario Casabona make their way into a deep, murky swamp of modern doom in “Dayburner” (video posted here), but in the crush of their tones amid all that trance-inducing riffing, they cast themselves as an outfit seeking to express individuality within the set parameters of style. Their execution, then, is what it comes down to, and with “Orphic” (12:46) and “Vespertine” (13:19) back to back, there’s plenty of doom on the 66-minute 2LP to roll that out. And they do so in patient and successful form, with marked tonal vibrancy and a sense of controlling the storm they’re creating as they go.

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Twin Earth Records website

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Graven Earth Records webstore

 

Pabst, Chlorine

pabst chlorine

So, the aesthetic is different. Pabst play a blend of noise, post-punk, heavy rock and grunge, but with the ready pop influence — to wit, the outright danceability of “Shits,” reminiscent in its bounce of later Queens of the Stone Age – and persistent melodicism, there’s just a twinge of what Mars Red Sky did for heavy rolling riffs happening on Chlorine, their Crazysane Records debut. It’s in that blend of dense low-end fuzz and brighter vocal melodies, but again, Pabst, hailing from Berlin, are on their own trip. Weird but almost more enjoyable than it seems to want to be, the 12-track/35-minute outing indulges little and offers singalong-ready vibes in “Catching Feelings” and “Waterslide” while “Waiting Loop” chills out before the push of “Accelerate” and the angularity of “Cheapskate” take hold. Chrlorine careens and (blue) ribbons its way to the drive-fast-windows-open stylization of “Summer Never Came” and the finale “Under Water,” a vocal effect on the latter doing nothing to take away from its ultra-catchy hook. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a record someone with just the right kind of open mind can come to love.

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L.M.I., IV

lmi iv

If you’ve got a dank basement full of skinny college kids, chances are Lansdale, Pennsylvania’s L.M.I. are ready to tear their faces off. The sludge-thickened riff punkers run abut 11 minutes with their five-song release, L.M.I. IV, and that’s well enough time to get their message across. Actually, by the end of “Neck of Tension” and “Weaning Youth,” roughly four and half minutes in, the statement of intent is pretty clear. L.M.I. present furious but grooving hardcore punk more given to scathe than pummel, and their inclusions on L.M.I. IV bring that to life with due sense of controlled chaos. Centerpiece “Lurking Breath” gives way to “First to Dark” – the longest cut at a sprawling 2:55 – and they save a bit of grunge guitar scorch and lower-register growling for closer “June was a Test,” there isn’t really time in general for any redundancy to take hold. That suits the feeling of assault well, as L.M.I. get in and get out on the quick and once they’re gone, all that’s left to do is clean the blood off the walls.

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Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere

fuzz forward out of nowhere

Released one way or another through Discos Macarras, Odio Sonoro, Spinda Records and Red Sun Records, the eight-song/43-minute debut album from Barcelona’s Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere, has earned acclaim from multiple corners for its interpretation of grunge-era melodies through a varied heavy rock filter. Indeed, the vocals of Juan Gil – joined in the band by guitarist Edko Fuzz, bassist Jordi Vaquero and drummer Marc Rockenberg – pull the mind directly to a young Layne Staley, and forces one to realize it’s been a while since that low-in-the-mouth approach was so ubiquitous. It works well for Gil in the laid back “Summertime Somersaults” as well as the swinging, cowbell-infused later cut “Drained,” and as the band seems to foreshadow richer atmospheric exploration on “Thorns in Tongue” and “Torches,” they nonetheless maintain a focus on songwriting that grounds the proceedings and will hopefully continue to serve as their foundation as they move forward. No argument with the plaudits they’ve thus far received. Seems doubtful they’ll be the last.

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Onségen Ensemble, Duel

Onsegen ensemble duel

The kind of record you’re doing yourself a favor by hearing – a visionary cast of progressive psychedelia that teems with creative energy and is an inspiration even in the listening. Frankly, the only thing I’m not sure about when it comes to Oulu, Finland, outfit Onségen Enseble’s second album, Duel, is why it isn’t being released through Svart Records. It seems like such a natural fit, with the adventurous woodwinds on opener “Think Neither Good Nor Evil,” the meditative sprawl of the title-track (video posted here), the jazz-jam in the middle of “Dogma MMXVII,” the tribalist percussion anchoring the 12-minute “Three Calls of the Emperor’s Teacher,” which surely would otherwise float away under its own antigravity power, and the free-psych build of closer “Zodiacal Lights of Onségen,” which shimmers in otherworldly fashion and improvised-sounding spark. On Svart or not, Duel is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, and one the creativity of which puts it in a class of its own, even in the vast reaches of psychedelic rock. Whether it means to or not, it tells a story with sound, and that story should be heard.

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The Heavy Eyes, Live in Memphis

the heavy eyes live in memphis

Since so much of The Heavy Eyes’ studio presentation has consistently been about crispness of sound and structured songwriting, it’s kind of a relief to hear them knock into some feedback at the start of “Mannish Boy” at the outset of Live in Memphis (on Kozmik Artifactz). The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tripp Shumake, bassist Wally Anderson and drummer Eric Garcia are still tight as hell, of course, and their material – drawn here from the band’s LPs, 2015’s He Dreams of Lions (review here), 2012’s Maera, 2011’s self-titled, as well as sundry shorter offerings – is likewise. They’ve never been an overly dangerous band, nor have they wanted to be, but the stage performance does add a bit of edge to “Iron Giants” from the debut, which is followed by singing “Happy Birthday” to a friend in the crowd. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Live in Memphis is hearing The Heavy Eyes loosen up a bit on stage, and hearing them sound like they’re having as good a time playing as the crowd is watching and hearing them do so. That sense of fun suits them well.

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