The Top 20 of 2016 Year-End Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

top 20 year end poll results

The poll is closed, the results are counted and the top 20 albums of 2016 have been chosen. Hard to argue with the list as it’s shown up over the course of the past month, so I won’t try. Instead, let me just say thanks to incredible amount of participants who contributed this year.

All told, between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, 612 people added their picks to the proceedings, compared to 388 in last year’s poll. Considering how much that number blew my mind on Jan. 1, 2016, I’m sure you can imagine how I feel about adding another 200-plus lists to the pot. In short, I’m astounded, deeply humbled and so, so, so grateful. I feel like we got enough of a sampling this year to give a genuinely representative showing for where people’s heads have been at, so thank you if you were a part of it.

Thank you as well as always to Slevin for running the poll’s back end and tabulating the results. As ever, the weighting system is 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. You’ll find that list (plus some honorable mentions) below, followed by the raw-vote tally.

And after the jump, as has become the tradition, are the full lists of everyone who submitted, alphabetized by name. I’m in there too. It’s a huge amount to wade through, and even if you thought you heard everything in 2016, it should be more than enough to keep you busy for the next year.

One last note: I’m no statistician. Please allow for these numbers to change over the next couple days on some small level.

Let’s go:

Top 20 of 2016 — Weighted Results

wo fat midnight cometh

1. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (375 points)
2. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow (368)
3. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (324)
4. Asteroid, III (302)
5. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil (295)
6. Gozu, Revival (274)
7. Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (253)
8. King Buffalo, Orion (244)
9. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (238)
10. Conan, Revengeance (232)
11. Cough, Still They Pray (228)
12. Holy Grove, Holy Grove (218)
13. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (213)
14. Truckfighters, V (206)
15. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (200)
16. Khemmis, Hunted (192)
16. Red Fang, Only Ghosts (192)
17. Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows (181)
18. Witchcraft, Nucleus (174)
19. Opeth, Sorceress (173)
20. Church of Misery, And then there Were None (159)

Honorable mention to:
Causa Sui, Return to Sky (157)
Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management (157)
Black Mountain, IV (148)
Mos Generator, Abyssinia (144)
Wretch, Wretch (140)

Look at those tallies for number one and two. That race was close all month. Wo Fat kept out front for the most part, but Greenleaf kept it interesting and Elephant Tree’s debut snuck in there at third, which I love to see, both because it’s their first album and because that record was indeed so great. King Buffalo, another debut, also made the top 10, underscoring those two as bands to watch, and though Brant Bjork, Conan, Asteroid, Neurosis, Gozu and Mars Red Sky might be more expected names, they still certainly delivered excellent records, so again, nothing to fight with here. Things flesh out a bit in the 10-20 range, but I don’t think there’s one album on this list you could call is “miss.”

Top 20 of 2016 — Raw Votes

wo fat midnight cometh

1. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (109)
2. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow (92)
3. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil (87)
4. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (82)
5. Asteroid, III (80)
6. Gozu, Revival (76)
7. Conan, Revengeance (73)
8. Cough, Still They Pray (70)
9. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (68)
10. King Buffalo, Orion (67)
11. Truckfighters, V (62)
12. Red Fang, Only Ghosts (61)
13. Khemmis, Hunted (60)
14. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (59)
14. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (59)
15. Holy Grove, Holy Grove (58)
16. Church of Misery, And then there Were None (53)
17. Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows (49)
17. Witchcraft, Nucleus (49)
18. Opeth, Sorceress (47)
19. Mos Generator, Abyssinia (45)
20. Black Mountain, IV (44)
20. Causa Sui, Return to Sky (44)
20. Wretch, Wretch (44)

Honorable mention to:
Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management (43)
Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light (43)
Geezer, Geezer (41)
Crowbar, The Serpent Only Lies (41)
Gojira, Magma (37)
Slomatics, Future Echo Returns (36)
Graves at Sea, The Curse that Is… (35)
Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy (33)
Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae (32)
Vokonis, Olde One Ascending (31)

Left a few more honorable mentions in the raw-vote count, just for fun and so you could get more of a feel beyond the top 20 itself, which you’ll notice has a couple ties in it as the raw votes usually do and reorganizes a bit from the weighted results. One and two remain the same, however, and in the same order, and you’ll see Wo Fat was the only album that scored more than 100 votes on its own. As a whole, there were over 2,400 separate entries for albums this year, which is by far the most spread out that the voting has ever been. Frankly, with so many people involved and such a variety of stuff being voted on, I’m amazed anyone managed to agree on anything at all, but of course they did and once again a stellar list is the result.

Well, Happy New Year.

Before I go, thanks again to Slevin for the work put into running the back end of this site and this poll particularly. I show up with the finish lists, but it’s his code that makes it happen, and his efforts are appreciated more than I can say. Dude has never asked me for anything in the nearly eight years I’ve been a constant pain in his ass.

After the jump, you’ll find everybody’s list, alphabetized by name. Please enjoy browsing. I hope you find something awesome, because there’s certainly plenty in there that qualifies, and if you see something that looks like it appears often enough that it should be included in one or both of the counts above, let me know in the comments.

Thanks.

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Quarterly Review: Hornss, Khemmis, Fox 45, Monolith Wielder, No Man’s Valley, Saturna, Spotlights, MØLK, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Moon Coven

Posted in Reviews on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

2016 ends and 2017 starts off on the right foot with a brand new Quarterly Review roundup. The first time I ever did one of these was at the end of 2014 and I called the feature ‘Last Licks.’ Fortunately, I’ve moved on from that name, but that is kind of how I’m thinking about this particular Quarterly Review. You’ll find stuff that came out spread all across 2016, early, middle, late, but basically what I’m trying to do here is get to a point where it’s not March and I’m still reviewing albums from November. Will it work? Probably not, but in order to try my damnedest to make it do so anyway, I’m making this Quarterly Review six full days. Monday to Monday instead of Monday to Friday. 60 reviews in six posts. Sounds like madness because it is madness. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Hornss, Telepath

hornss telepath

San Francisco trio Hornss debuted on RidingEasy Records with 2014’s No Blood No Sympathy (review here) and further their raw genre blend on Telepath, their half-hour follow-up LP delivered via STB, melding heavy punk and metallic impulses to a noisy, thick-toned thrust on songs like “Atrophic” and the bouncing “Sargasso Heart” while opener “St. Genevieve” and the penultimate “Old Ghosts” dig into more stonerly nod. The latter track is the longest inclusion on the record at 3:26, and with 11 cuts there’s plenty of jumping between impulses to be done, but the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha, bassist/vocalist Nick Nava – both formerly of desert punkers Solarfeast – and drummer Bil Bowman (ex-Zodiac Killers) work effectively and efficiently to cast an identity for themselves within the tumult. It’s one that finds them reveling in the absence of pretense and the sometimes-caustic vibes of songs like “Leaving Thermal,” which nonetheless boast an underlying catchiness, speaking to a progression from the first album.

Hornss on Thee Facebooks

STB Records store

 

Khemmis, Hunted

khemmis hunted

Easily justifiable decision on the part of Denver’s Khemmis to return to Flatline Audio and producer Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, etc.) for their second album, Hunted. No reason to fix what clearly wasn’t broken about their 2015 debut, Absolution (review here), and on the 20 Buck Spin Records release, they don’t. A year later, the four-piece instead build on the doomly grandeur of the first outing and push forward in aesthetic, confidence and purpose, whether that’s shown in mournful opener “Above the Water,” the darker “Candlelight” that follows, or the centerpiece “Three Gates,” which opens as muddied death metal before shifting into a cleaner chorus, creating a rare bridge between doom and modern metal. Khemmis save the most resonant crush for side B, however, with the nine-minute “Beyond the Door” capping with vicious stomp before the 13-minute title-track, which closes the album with an urgency that bleeds even into spacious and melodic break that sets up the final apex to come, as emotionally charged as it is pummeling.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Fox 45, Ashes of Man

fox 45 ashes of man

In addition to the outright charm of titles like “Doominati,” “Coup d’étwat,” “Murdercycle” and “Urinal Acid” (the latter a bonus track), Rochester, New York’s Fox 45 offer fuzzy roll on their Twin Earth Records debut full-length, Ashes of Man, the three-piece of Amanda Rampe, Vicky Tee and Casey Learch finding space for themselves between the post-Acid King nod of “Necromancing the Stone” and more swing-prone movements like the relatively brief “Soul Gourmandizer.” Playing back and forth between longer and shorter tracks gives Ashes of Man a depth of character – particularly encouraging since it’s Fox 45’s first record – and the low-end push that leads “Phoenix Tongue” alone is worth the price of admission, let alone the familiar-in-the-right-ways straightforward heavy riffing of “Narcissister” a short while later. Very much a debut, but one that sets up a grunge-style songwriting foundation on which to build as they move forward, and Fox 45 seem to have an eye toward doing precisely that.

Fox 45 on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Monolith Wielder, Monolith Wielder

monolith wielder self titled

Double-guitar Pittsburgh four-piece Monolith Wielder make their self-titled debut through Italian imprint Argonauta Records, bringing together Molasses Barge guitarist Justin Gizzi and Zom guitarist/vocalist Gero von Dehn with bassist Ray Ward (since replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Ben Zerbe (also Mandrake Project) for 10 straightforward tracks that draw together classic Sabbathian doom with post-grunge heavy rock roll. There’s a workingman’s sensibility to the riffing of “No Hope No Fear” and the earlier, more ‘90s moodiness of “Angels Hide” – von Dehn’s vocals over the thick tones almost brings to mind Sevendust on that particularly catchy chorus – but Monolith Wielder’s Monolith Wielder isn’t shy about bringing atmospherics to the Iommic thrust of its eponymous cut or the penultimate “King Under Fire,” which recalls the self-titled Alice in Chains in its unfolding bleakness before closer “Electric Hessian” finishes with a slight uptick in pace and a fade out and back in (and a last sample) that hints at more to come.

Monolith Wielder on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

No Man’s Valley, Time Travel

no man's valley time travel

The stomp and clap intro “The Man Who Would be King” casts an immediately bluesy hue on No Man’s Valley’s debut album, Time Travel (LP release on Nasoni), and the Netherlands-based five-piece seem only too happy to build on that from there. It’s a blend outfits like The Flying Eyes and Suns of Thyme have proffered for several years now between heavy psychedelia and blues, but No Man’s Valley find a niche for themselves in the dreamy and patient execution of “Sinking the Lifeboat,” a highlight of the eight-track/33-minute LP, and bring due personality to the classic-style jangle-and-swing of “The Wolves are Coming” as well, so that Time Travel winds up more textured than redundant as it makes its way toward six-minute piano-laden finale “Goon.” Once there, they follow a linear course with a post-All Them Witches looseness that solidifies into a resonant and deeply engaging apex, underscoring the impressive reach No Man’s Valley have brought to bear across this first LP of hopefully many to come.

No Man’s Valley on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Saturna, III/Lost in Time

saturna lost in time

Barcelona classic rocking four-piece Saturna seem to avoid the boogie trap when they want to, as on the more rolling, modern heavy groove of “Five Fools,” and that keeps their World in Sound/PRC Music third album, III/Lost in Time, from being too predictable after the opening “Tired to Fight” seems to set up Thin Lizzy idolatry. They dip into more complex fare on “Leave it All,” somewhere between Skynyrd leads, Deep Purple organ-isms topped with a rousing hook, but keep some shuffle on songs like “Disease” and the earlier “All Has Been Great.” Highlight/closer “Place for Our Soul” seems to be literal in its title, with a more subdued approach and harmonized vocal delivery, and listening to its more patient delivery one can’t help but wonder why that soul should be relegated to the end of the album instead of featured throughout, but the songwriting is solid and the delivery confident, so while familiar, there’s ultimately little to complain about with what III/Lost in Time offers.

Saturna on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound website

 

MØLK, Hate from the Bong

molk hate from the bong

Especially with the title of their second EP set as Hate from the Bong, one might be tempted to put Belgian outfit MØLK immediately in the same category of malevolent stoner/sludge metal as the likes of Bongripper, but frankly they sound like they’re having too much fun for that on the five-tracker, reveling in lyrical shenanigans on the politically suspect “Stonefish” and opener “Methamphetamine.” Make no mistake, they’re suitably druggy, but even Hate from the Bong’s title-track seems to keep its tongue in cheek as it unfolds its post-Electric Wizard echoes and tonal morass. That gives the five-piece an honest vibe – they’re a relatively new band, having released their first EP in 2016 as well; why shouldn’t they be having a good time? – to coincide with all that thickened low end and vocal reverb, and though they’re obviously growing, there isn’t much more I’d ask of them from a debut full-length, which is a task they sound ready to take on in these songs.

MØLK on Thee Facebooks

MØLK on Bandcamp

 

Psychedelic Witchcraft, The Vision

psychedelic witchcraft the vision

Italian cult rock outfit Psychedelic Witchcraft have proven somewhat difficult to keep up with over the last year-plus. As they’ve hooked up with Soulseller Records and reissued their Black Magic Man EP (review here), their full-length debut, The Vision, and already announced a follow-up compilation in 2017’s Magick Rites and Spells, the band consistently work to feature the vocals of Virginia Monti (also Dead Witches) amid semi-retro ‘70s-style boogie, as heard on the debut in cuts like “Witches Arise” and “Wicked Ways.” At nine tracks/34 minutes, however, The Vision is deceptively efficient, and though they’re unquestionably playing to style, Psychedelic Witchcraft find room to vary moods on “The Night” and the subdued strum of “The Only One Who Knows,” keeping some sonic diversity while staying largely on-theme lyrically. To call the album cohesive is underselling its purposefulness, but the question is how the band will build on the bluesy soulfulness of “Magic Hour Blues” now that they’ve set this progression in motion. Doesn’t seem like it will be all that long before we find out.

Psychedelic Witchcraft on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records website

 

Spotlights, Spiders EP

spotlights spiders

Following the heavy post-rock wash of their 2016 debut album, Tidals, Brooklynite two-piece Spotlights – bassist/guitarist/vocalist Sarah Quintero and guitarist/synthesis/vocalist Mario Quintero – return on the quick with a three-track EP, Spiders, and set themselves toward further sonic expansion. The centerpiece “She Spider” is a Mew cover, electronic beats back opener “A Box of Talking Heads V2” and the spacious closer “Joseph” is a track from Tidals remixed by former Isis drummer Aaron Harris. So, perhaps needless to say, they hit that “expansion” mark pretty head-on. The finale turns out to be the high point, more cinematic in its ambience, but still moving through with an underlying rhythm to the wash of what one might otherwise call drones before becoming more deeply post-Nine Inch Nails in its back half. How many of these elements might show up on Spotlights’ next record, I wouldn’t guess, but the band takes an important step by letting listeners know the potential is there, adding three wings onto their wheelhouse in three tracks, which is as efficient conceptually as it is sonically immersive.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Spotlights on Bandcamp

 

Moon Coven, Moon Coven

moon coven self-titled

This self-titled second full-length from Malmö, Sweden-based Moon Coven begins with its longest track (immediate points) in “Storm” and works quickly to nail down a far-reaching meld between heavy psych and riffy density. Issued through the much-respected Transubstans Records, it’s a nine-track/50-minute push that can feel unipolar on an initial listen, but largely avoids that trap through tonal hypnosis and fluid shifts into and out of jams on cuts like “The Third Eye,” while centerpiece “Haramukh High” provides a solidified moment before the organ interlude “The Ice Temple” leads into the mega-roll of finisher “White Sun.” What seems to be a brooding sensibility from the artwork – a striking departure from their 2014 debut, Amanita Kingdom – is actually a far more colorful affair than it might at first appear, and well justifies the investment of repeat visits in the far-out nod of “Conspiracy” and the swirling “Winter,” which goes so far as to add melodic texture in the vocals and notably fuzzed guitar, doing much to bolster the proceedings and overarching groove.

Moon Coven on Thee Facebooks

Transubstans Records

 

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Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Makes Massive Lineup Announcement; Slo Burn, Vhöl, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe, Melvins and Many More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Take a deep breath before you dive into the new lineup announcement from Psycho Las Vegas 2017. With 35-plus bands added, it officially qualifies as huge, and considering who those bands are — Slo Burn for a US-exclusive, plus bringing over the likes of Elephant Tree to play alongside SummonerHollow LegGatecreeper and others — it can be a lot to take in. If you haven’t had a meal yet today, you might want to eat something. Make sure you’re hydrated. Basically I want to avoid anyone fainting as a result of reading the list of bands. If you’re sensitive to flashing lights… you’re probably okay. But otherwise, check to see you have something soft to land on nearby, should you need it.

I missed Psycho this year owing to a new job and a general lack of funds. I’m not sure I can do the same in 2017. This one might just be a gotta-go kind of scenario. Fuckin’ Slomatics are gonna be there.

There are still more than 40 bands to announce, including headliners, whose names will be out at random points over the next 30 days.

Jeebus.

To the PR wire:

psycho las vegas 2017

Psycho Las Vegas 2017

August 18, 2017 – August 20, 2017
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas

Psycho Las Vegas today announces over 35 new additions to its massive 2017 lineup. The festival has quickly become the premier event in the US for underground heavy rock, psych, doom, alternative and beyond, and as the roster grows for this year’s edition, they’re clearly looking to push their boundaries even further.

Headliners remain TBA, but joining previously-announced generation-defining acts like Neurosis, Swans and French prog lords Magma, come UK grind legends Carcass, whose reunion continues to bring gruesome tales of dissections and unparalleled.

They’ll be in good company with Norwegian black metal legend Abbath, formerly of Immortal, who released a raging self-titled debut album under his own name this year, New York’s Myrkur, whose own debut, M, disrupted black metal genre convention on nearly every level, and USBM innovators Wolves in the Throne Room, who continue to refine a style they helped establish more than a decade ago.

Look for the Melvins to boggle brains with their brand of heavy rock – still unique unto itself after more than three decades – as well as for the new project Crystal Fairy with Buzzo and Dale from the Melvins, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (Mars Volta) and Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) to bring to life their debut album, which releases in February on Ipecac Recordings.

This latest announcement also brings sludge-laden chaos from the pair of Weedeater and Buzzov*en, and Chelsea Wolfe to emit a darkness that even Las Vegas in the summer won’t be able to hold at bay.

The reunited Slo Burn (vocalist John Garcia’s first project post-Kyuss) will play an exclusive US show at Psycho, and a special highlight performance from psych-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke is open eyes, ears and minds alike as he celebrates a career spanning more than 50 years.

Also added have been long-running mischief-makers Murder City Devils, alt-rock legends Echo and the Bunnymen, progressive thrashers Vhöl (members of YOB and Agalloch), Pelican, Cult of Luna, Psychic TV, and as it did with the landmark 2016 edition, the fest digs deep into the heavy rock underground once again to unearth the best of up-and-coming bands from the States and beyond. Along with the already confirmed riff-crushers Windhand, Blood Ceremony, Slomatics and Domkraft, Elephant Tree (UK) have signed on alongside fellow fest-newcomers Khemmis, Sumac, Gatecreeper, Snail, North, Cult Leader, Hollow Leg, Summoner, Floorian, Wizard Rifle, Merlin and Morne.

Further lineup announcements will follow in the New Year — including headliners — so stay tuned for more from the best and biggest heavy festival the US has ever seen.

Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Confirmed lineup:
MURDER CITY DEVILS
NEUROSIS
MULATU ASTATKE
SWANS
CARCASS
WOLVES IN THE THRONEROOM
CRYSTAL FAIRY
MAGMA
CHELSEA WOLFE
SLO BURN
CULT OF LUNA
ABBATH
SUMAC
MYRKUR
PELICAN
WEEDEATER
ZEAL & ARDOR
SLOMATICS
OATHBREAKER
VHOL
COUGH
BLOOD CEREMONY
INTER ARMA
THE SKULL
WINDHAND
BUZZOVEN
MINSK
CODE ORANGE
KHEMMIS
GATECREEPER
NORTH
CULT LEADER
SNAIL
WIZARD RIFLE
MERLIN
FLOORIAN
DOMKRAFT
ELEPHANT TREE
MORNE
HOLLOW LEG
SUMMONER

http://www.vivapsycho.com/
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/psycho-las-vegas-2017-tickets-27758793298
https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1636267026703732/
https://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas/
https://twitter.com/psycholasvegas

Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (2016)

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Khemmis to Release New Album Hunted this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

khemmis (Photo by Travis Heacock)

Pretty quick turnaround from Denver doomers Khemmis, both in terms of having just begun their recording process in May and setting a fall release as well as issuing their second album, the title of which has been revealed to be Hunted, just a year after the arrival of their debut, Absolution (review here). The new full-length had them returning to the studio to work with Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage) and it once again features artwork from Sam Turner, who gives a kind of wizardly, classic fantasy-art style to follow-up on the Absolution cover, which used color similarly on a somewhat different theme.

20 Buck Spin has the release. The PR wire brings tour dates and info and more, so dig in:

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}

KHEMMIS: Colorado Doom Quartet Issues Details On Second Album, Hunted, Due This Fall Via 20 Buck Spin; Tour To Migration Fest Looms

Denver, Colorado-based powerful doom metal quartet KHEMMIS has completed their second full-length album, and is preparing the mighty Hunted for Autumn release through 20 Buck Spin, this week unveiling the cover art, track listing, and other details. The news comes as the band prepares to tour the Western half of the country in transit to their performance at the first annual Migration Festival the second weekend of August.

Using the same team as their lauded debut, Hunted was recorded at Flatline Audio with Dave Otero (Cobalt, Nightbringer, Cephalic Carnage) and features artwork by Sam Turner (3 Inches Of Blood, Black Breath, TRVE Brewing). Hunted is undoubtedly an album that will solidify KHEMMIS’ place at the vanguard of doom’s most notable modern manifestations, in large part because they transcend the label itself. They’ve seamlessly blended their influences into an extraordinarily listenable album worthy of countless spins. With such a glut of music released nowadays, Hunted stands apart, rewarding repeat listens with songs seared straight into the heart.

20 Buck Spin will issue Hunted on CD and digital formats on Friday, October 21st, with the vinyl to follow in November. Audio samples and further info will be announced shortly.

Hunted Track Listing:
1. Above The Water
2. Candlelight
3. Three Gates
4. Beyond The Door
5. Hunted

KHEMMIS’ upcoming West Coast tour will begin in their hometown of Denver on August 4th, with Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and Portland on the itinerary leading up to the band’s performance on August 12th at Migration Fest in Olympia. The festival also features the slated first live collaborative performance by The Body and Krieg, the first live public performance by Panopticon, a set by Australian funeral doom behemoths Mournful Congregation, and sets by Auroch, Christian Mistress, Full Of Hell, Krallice, Magic Circle, Nightfell, Obsequiae, Vastum, Vhol, and others.

KHEMMIS Tour Dates:
8/04/2016 HiDive – Denver, CO
8/05/2016 The Metro – Salt Lake City, UT
8/06/2016 OMD Theatre – Las Vegas, NV
8/07/2016 The Rogue – Phoenix, AZ
8/08/2016 The Griffin – Los Angeles, CA
8/09/2016 Golden Bull – Oakland, CA
8/10/2016 Starlite Lounge – Sacramento, CA
8/11/2016 Ash St. Saloon – Portland, OR
8/12/2016 Migration Fest – Olympia, WA

Hunted comes just over a year after the release of KHEMMIS’ stunning Absolution debut, which caught the doom world by complete surprise, and set the band up as one of the scene’s favorite new artists. The album slowly but surely steamrolled all that came in contact with its unforgettable heaviness and classic melodicism.

Now their follow-up album, Hunted, reveals a KHEMMIS fortified in its purpose and vision, forging an unrivaled synthesis between immense doom riffs and ‘Maiden-esque harmony. Overall song length has increased yielding more expansively arranged and dramatic storms of elegance and melancholy. And yet the band’s members are not content to plod through a sea of tears; they are always a rock band first, in service to the movement of the song, even approaching a High On Fire-like pace to open the pummeling “Three Gates.” The lauded singing of vocalist Phil Pendergast reaches ascendant new heights on tracks like “Candlelight” and “Beyond The Door,” while the tasteful use of harsh vocals remains, providing a dark foreboding contrast. The thirteen-minute title track once again closes the album with an epic stunner.

http://www.facebook.com/khemmisdoom
http://khemmis.bandcamp.com
http://twitter.com/khemmisdoom
http://www.20buckspin.com
http://www.facebook.com/20buckspin
http://twitter.com/20buckspinlabel

Khemmis, Absolution (2015)

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Khemmis Enter Studio; West Coast Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

khemmis

Colorado doomers Khemmis have entered the studio to record their second full-length for 20 Buck Spin. Yet untitled, the album is being recorded by Dave Otero, who also helmed their debut, Absolution (review here), and like that record, will also feature artwork by Sam Turner. Khemmis will play Southwest Terror Fest this fall and no doubt more besides as they move closer to the sophomore outing’s release, which seems likely to show up in the fall or over the winter at the latest. The tour below, which is set for August, will take them to Migration Fest, where they’ll play with Mournful CongregationVhölMagic Circle and more.

From the PR wire:

khemmis tour

KHEMMIS: Colorado Doom Quartet Confirms August Tour Leading Up To Migration Fest; Band Enters The Studio With Dave Otero Today

Colorado’s supreme doom metal quartet, KHEMMIS, has confirmed a series of tour dates preceding and including the band’s impending performance at the mighty maiden installation of Migration Fest this August. Additionally, the band enters the studio today in order to bring their second album to fruition.

KHEMMIS is currently settling in at Flatline Audio in their hometown of Denver with Dave Otero (Cobalt, Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation), for an extensive recording session in order to capture their anxiously-awaited new album, the follow-up to their acclaimed 2015 debut LP, Absolution. Following the studio venture, the completed album will be finalized in June and fitted with artwork currently under construction by Sam Turner (3 Inches of Blood, Black Breath, TRVE Brewing) for release in late Summer or early Fall again through 20 Buck Spin, as with their Absolution LP, also created with the winning combo of Turner and Otero’s handiwork.

KHEMMIS’ upcoming West Coast tour will begin in their hometown of Denver on August 4th, with Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Glendale, Oakland, Sacramento, and Portland on the itinerary leading up to the band’s performance on August 12th at Migration Fest in Olympia. The festival also features the slated first live collaborative performance by The Body & Krieg, the first live public performance by Panopticon, a set by Australian funeral doom behemoths Mournful Congregation, and sets by Auroch, Christian Mistress, Full Of Hell, Krallice, Magic Circle, Nightfell, Obsequiae, Vastum, Vhol, and others. The tour routing and a beautiful poster by Cameron Hinojosa have been issued.

KHEMMIS Tour Dates:
8/04/2016 HiDive – Denver, CO
8/05/2016 The Metro – Salt Lake City, UT
8/06/2016 The Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV
8/07/2016 The Rogue – Phoenix, AZ
8/08/2016 Complex – Glendale, CA
8/09/2016 Golden Bull – Oakland, CA
8/10/2016 Starlite Lounge – Sacramento, CA
8/11/2016 Ash St. Saloon – Portland, OR
8/12/2016 Migration Fest – Olympia, WA

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Khemmis, Absolution (2015)

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Southwest Terror Fest V: Initial Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Granted, the type of extremity might vary, but five editions deep, Southwest Terror Fest is on its shit. Southwest Terror Fest V, set for this October in scenic — literally; the desert is gorgeous — Tucson, Arizona, brings together long-running grind horrifiers Pig Destroyer, post-metal inheritors Sumac, psych-sludge purveyors CHRCH, heavy prog-metallers Behold! the Monolith, and a whole lot of others in the micro-subgenre game for a weekend that I’m sure is only beginning to take shape with this initial lineup announcement. The fest has only grown more organized and more lethal with time, so keep an eye out for more news in the months to come.

For now, if you want to get your tickets, the links for that came with the PR wire info below:

southwest terror fest v poster

SOUTHWEST TERROR FEST V: Houses Of The Unholy — Initial October Festival Lineup Announced + Advance Tickets Available

The initial lineup for Arizona’s SOUTHWEST TERROR FEST V: Houses Of The Unholy has been announced, as early bird tickets for the event have been made available this week.

For the fifth installation of the annual SOUTHWEST TERROR FEST, this year’s edition will once again overthrow Tucson, the 2016 installment of the annual gathering running from October 20th through 23rd, with forty-five artists from across the US and Canada converging on three stages, including venues 191 Toole, Club Congress, The Flycatcher, and Gary’s Place..

The SOUTHWEST TERROR FEST V: Houses Of The Unholy initial lineup has been announced, this first wave of bands featuring Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Infest, Nails, Power Trip, Final Conflict, Full Of Hell, Sumac, Kowloon Walled City, Khemmis, CHRCH, Behold! The Monolith, Theories, Wake, and The Drip!

A very limited number of early bird tickets are now available.

The second wave of artists set to play SOUTHWEST TERROR FEST V: Houses Of The Unholy will be announced April 18th, the same day VIP passes and individual tickets go on sale.

Since 2012, the SOUTHWEST TERROR FEST gathering has seen hordes flock to the desert city of Tucson for several days of music, the event rooted heavily into the community through local business sponsorship and cooperation. Prior festivals have seen dozens of extreme artists from across the spectrum, including Neurosis, Sunn O))), Sleep, The Body, Goatsnake, Pelican, Author & Punisher, Kylesa, Red Fang, Hull, and countless others performing, and there are several dozen more acts still to be announced for the upcoming fifth gathering.

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Bongripper, Live at Southwest Terror Fest IV

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2015

Posted in Features on December 18th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

top 20 debuts of 2015 1

Please note: This list is not culled in any way from the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2015 to that, please do.

I’ll note right away that this list started out as a top 10. When it came to it, it didn’t seem fair to cut it off. Too much left out. It gets to a point where you look at your list of honorable mentions and it’s like three times as long as your list itself and you realize maybe you should up the numbers and give a few more records their due. So yeah, a top 20 it is.

The temptation with a list like this, especially since it’s dealing with bands working on their first full-length albums (EPs are counted separately), is to think of it as indicative of future movement overall, to try and measure some overarching trend from some of the best outings of the year. I’m not sure that’s a fair approach either to the bands who made these records or to everyone else who might come after, but if we step back and look at what’s presented in the list below, we see veterans resurfacing in new incarnations, new, young groups coming together with classic ideologies, a bit of heavy extremity, psych melding with pop, heavy rock going prog and much more.

What all that tells me is that notions like “underground” and “heavy,” these vague terms that get applied so liberally, are constantly expanding. Whatever their individual sound might be, these bands all pushed ahead an overarching stylistic progression in whatever they’re doing, and like the best of debut albums, they held promise for further growth beyond this already impressive output. It’s less about which seems like an immediate landmark, touchstone, whatever, than it is about what sets up and effectively begins that development going forward, though striking a chord in the present never hurts either.

To that end, here we go:

brothers of the sonic cloth brothers of the sonic cloth

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2015

1. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
2. Death Alley, Black Magick Boogieland
3. Cigale, Cigale
4. Kind, Rocket Science
5. Fogg, High Testament
6. Crypt Sermon, Out of the Garden
7. CHRCH, Unanswered Hymns
8. With the Dead, With the Dead
9. Demon Head, Ride the Wilderness
10. Sacri Monti, Sacri Monti
11. Stars that Move, Stars that Move
12. Chiefs, Tomorrow’s Over
13. Sunder, Sunder
14. Ecstatic Vision, Sonic Praise
15. Bison Machine, Hoarfrost
16. Serial Hawk, Searching for Light
17. Cloud Catcher, Enlightened Beyond Existence
18. Khemmis, Absolution
19. Sumac, The Deal
20. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, The Devil and the Almighty Blues

Honorable Mention

By way of honorable mentions, first I have to give a nod to Foehammer‘s self-titled debut EP, which would be on this list probably in the top five if not the top three were it not for the fact that, as noted, it’s an EP. Its list will come. The 2015 release of Horsehunter‘s self-titled on Magnetic Eye was killer as well, but since the album initially came out in 2014, it didn’t seem fair to include it in the list proper.

Releases from Killer Boogie, Snowy DunesSweat LodgePlanes of SatoriDoctoR DooMLasers from Atlantis and Lords of Beacon House (I heard the EP, not the LP) also provided thrills a-plenty, and while I recognize that sounds like sarcasm, please rest assured it’s not. I’m sure there are others, and as always, I reserve the right to tweak mentions and numbers over the next however many days, weeks, years, etc.

Notes

There wasn’t much mystery to this one for me. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth held onto that top spot for most of the year, and it seemed like no matter what came along, the wall of sound that Tad Doyle and company built on that record simply would not be torn down. As oppressive in tone as it is in atmosphere, it was a long-awaited debut that produced devastating results the ripples from which I expect will continue to resonate well into 2016 and beyond.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth is one example of a veteran presence finding a new home, as several did this year. See also, Sumac with former members of IsisEcstatic Vision with players from A Life Once LostWith the Dead with members of Cathedral and Ramesses coming together for the first time, Kind drawing its lineup from the likes of RoadsawMilligramRozamov and Elder, and even groups like Sunder, who previously released an album together under the moniker The Socks before abandoning that project in favor of the current one, as well as Sacri Monti, with a member from Radio Moscow in tow, Cigale, who had two members from SungrazerStars that Move which sprang from Starchild, and Death Alley with members of MührGewapend Beton and The Devil’s Blood showcased how one band flows out of another and out of another, and so on.

That Death Alley debut had charm worthy of its title — which was also my favorite of the year — and showed the potential of that band to set up a real stylistic range going forward. I hope they continue to expand, get a little weird and freaked out and keep that core of songwriting and forward drive that makes Black Magick Boogieland so propulsive. For new bands, Cigale‘s self-titled was beautiful, but would later become tinged with tragedy following the death of guitarist/vocalist Rutger Smeets earlier this year. Not to mention friends and family, his is a significant loss for European psychedelia as a whole, and while that was inarguably one of the low points of 2015, the album itself remains a gorgeous statement.

Young acts like FoggDemon HeadBison MachineSunderCloud Catcher and even Sacri Monti showcased varied takes on classic heavy, some more into boogie and jams and some looking for something a little rougher edged. Cloud Catcher‘s progressive take was a particularly pleasant surprise, while Sunder‘s psychedelia teemed with melody and a cohesive presence born out of what could’ve been unhinged otherwise. Between these, the heavy riffing of The Devil and the Almighty Blues and Serial Hawk, the formative fuzz of Chiefs, the resonant doom of Khemmis and the righteous traditionalism of Crypt Sermon, the notion of genres and subgenres as an ever-expanding universe seemed to be playing out on a weekly basis.

This, invariably, leads to new extremes, which in turn brings me to CHRCH. Like Foehammer, whose EP is in honorable mentions, the Unanswered Hymns long-player from CHRCH was a bright spot especially for how little light it seemed to let escape its abyssal grasp. They’re an easy bet for a band to catch on because they’ve garnered a formidable response already, but what sticks out to me most about them is the sense of pushing established parameters into fresh territory. What they’ll do in the months and years to come of course remains to be seen — they could break up tomorrow; it happens — but where a group like Primitive Man are almost singularly based on extremity of pummel and brutality (not to take away from them), CHRCH have the space in their sound for a multi-faceted progression, and that’s a huge part of what made Unanswered Hymns so encouraging.

I know there were many more debut LPs than these released this year, and even more debuts that were EPs and demos of note and things like that. The reason I single out debut albums for a list is because it’s among the most pivotal offerings a band can make. You’ll never get to release a second debut record. Some bands never live theirs down, some never attain quite the same level again and struggle with it for decades. Either way, it’s no small thing to get a group together and bring it to the point of putting out a first long-player, and that accomplishment in itself, regardless of the results, is worth highlighting.

No doubt I’ve left a few excellent offerings out. I hope you’ll let me know in the comments what debut albums landed hardest with you in 2015. In any case, thanks for reading.

 

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Khemmis Premiere “Antediluvian” from Debut LP Absolution

Posted in audiObelisk on June 11th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

khemmis

Denver four-piece Khemmis will release their debut album, Absolution, on CD/DL through 20 Buck Spin on July 7, with LP to follow in August. Produced by Dave Otero (Cephalic CarnageCobalt) and topped off with art by Sam Turner, it repurposes only one track from Khemmis‘ self-titled 2013 EP — also their first offering — and that’s sprawling closer “The Bereaved,” rerecorded for the end of side B and the longest inclusion at 9:14, justifying its reappearance with stellar guitar work and a push toward an album-capping apex that reinforces the blend of emotional resonance and extremity at heart in what they do, as heard in their trades throughout the album between belted-out melodic vocals and low-in-the-mouth metallic growls, a classic doom drama playing out in songs like “Ash, Cinder, Smoke” and “Antediluvian” that finds congruity where little might initially appear.

By that I mean Khemmis aren’t just setting one element against the other and waiting to sort it out over their next couple records. They may indeed prove more cohesive as the next few years move on, but already in “Serpentine,” 12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}opener “Torn Asunder” and the faster “Burden of Sin” on side B, one can hear that Absolution is a work geared more toward uniting styles to find something new from them rather than contrasting them, digging back to the theatrical death-doom roots of more modern doom à la Pallbearer and bringing in atmospheres that feel born out of classic Paradise Lost and Novembers Doom to add a shot of adrenaline and extra push where and when they feel it’s called for. The balance they strike and the fluidity they’re able to conjure are two of Absolution‘s most impressive aspects, but neither is the righteousness of a riff like that which anchors “Antediluvian” to be understated.

A less sprawling cut than either of the side-enders, “Antediluvian” launches the second half of Khemmis‘ debut with a steady roll for its groove, the four-piece of PhilBenDan and Zach moving smoothly toward the midpoint, after which the deathly growls take the fore, with echoes of melody behind and a sludgy nastiness meets with progressive lead-work en route to a chugging finish. It’s a fair sampling of what Absolution has to offer sonically, but by no means the sum of everything happening on the record, since Khemmis prove able to vary their approach and arrangements such that each song has its own crux while feeding into the overarching impact of the album as a whole. Its turns run the risk of alienating some listeners — there are those who can’t hang with harsh vocals in any measure, even as commanding and adding to the dynamic nature of the songs as these are — but the band’s effort seems all the more respectable for precisely because they’re taking that risk.

Please find “Antediluvian” on the player below, followed by some more info on Khemmis from the PR wire for those who’d like to dig further, and enjoy:

The six meticulously crafted songs on Absolution reveal a level of musicianship and writing skill seldom heard on debut albums. Often within the scope of a single song, KHEMMIS veers effortlessly between the crushing heaviness of Southern sludge and the somber melodies of traditional doom metal, cohesively weaving the disparate styles into their own immediately recognizable form. Vocally, KHEMMIS also utilizes a dual approach, sometimes harsh and guttural, but generally through a stunningly smooth classic doom/heavy rock delivery that even adamant fans of Pete Stahl and Wino will applaud. The powerfully adept rhythm section perfectly anchor the towering riff mastery and colorful dual guitar harmonies, all brought together by Dave Otero’s (Cobalt, Nightbringer) pitch perfect production work.

From the album opener “Torn Asunder” to closing track “The Bereaved,” Absolution positions KHEMMIS among the highlight surprises of the year. The band will tour at intervals throughout the remainder of 2015, including a planned West Coast run in Summer. The album’s Fantastic Frazetta inspired cover art by Sam Turner (Speedwolf, Black Breath, Trve Brewing) and track listing have been divulged.

Absolution Track Listing:
1. Torn Asunder
2. Ash, Cinder, Smoke
3. Serpentine
4. Antediluvian
5. Burden Of Sin
6. The Bereaved

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Khemmis at 20 Buck Spin’s Bandcamp

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