Faerie Ring Release Live at Bokeh Fundraiser for Australian Wildfires

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

There’s only so much burying of head in the sand/riffs one can do before acknowledging that the planet is quite literally on fire. Putting aside politics or the disgusting notion that these issues were made political in the first place, lands are burning, people and animals are dying and any and all predicted trajectories for the future do not indicate positive signs. The Avengers will not save us. Luke Skywalker will not save us. This is real life. Science is real life.

I am not the first person to say any of this or to note that if you and I don’t take care of each other, from daily kindness to crowdfunding, then we all burn and burn alone.

Indiana-based riffers Faerie Ring, who made an impressive debut last year with The Clearing (review here), today issue a live recording from a few weeks back, Live at Bokeh, in order to help raise funds for wildlife affected by the fires in Australia, which, hey look at that, are ongoing.

Entire species are dying. Today. And no, a recorded set from a recent heavy show is not the end-all answer to climate disaster. But it also isn’t nothing, which, to my shame, is what I’ve done to help at this point.

This is worth your money:

faerie ring live at bokeh

Faerie Ring – Live at Bokeh

Recorded live at Bokeh Lounge in Evansville Indiana Jan 4, 2020

*****All Proceeds with be going directly to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park****

This recording was handed to us free after one of our performance at Bokeh out of the kindness of heart. Seems only right to do something good with it. As always thanks for listening and we love you.

If you would like to donate directly or check in on rehabilitation progress, go to:

www.gofundme.com/f/help-save-kangaroo-islands-koalas-and-wildlife

From KIWildlife:

Over the past few days we have started to see a large number of injured koalas, along with other native species heavily impacted by this event. We have been treating these victims as best we can to supply pain relief, antibiotics, treatment to wounds and basic husbandry requirements. We spent most of January 3rd building extra holding enclosures as well as defending the park from the immediate threat of the fire. We will continue to prepare more infrastructure to house the extra wildlife we expect to see over the coming weeks.

For those of you who would like to contribute we are asking for funds to help with veterinary costs, koala milk and supplements, extra holding/rehabilitation enclosures, as well as setting up a building to hold supplies to treat these animals.

Due to the recent tragic bushfires, the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park has received a lot of concerned phone calls and messages regarding the impacted wildlife from these fires.

We are working around the clock with a highly experienced, qualified and dedicated team of volunteers including qualified vets, vet nurses and wildlife carers to rescue, rehabilitate and care for all of the animals coming in from the bushfires.

On admittance to us, all efforts are made to rehydrate, treat and assess the wildlife by our vet care team. Many are being treated for severe burns with most burns being to their hands, feet and rumps.

We will continue to provide the best care possible for our injured wildlife, we expect due to significant habitat loss we will be building exhibits to hold the treated koalas until we can arrange release back into the wild for many of them.

Kangaroo Island is well known for its thriving koala population however over 150,000 hectares has been lost due to recent events, this will effect our koala population dramatically. We need to pull together to save this Australian icon.

Once conditions improve and we are granted access to fire ground, a qualified team will be going out to rescue wildlife caught in the fires and relocate those left without a food source or home.

credits
James Wallwork // Electric Guitars & Vocal
Kyle Hulgus // Electric Guitars
Alex Wallwork // 4 String Electric Bass Guitars
Joseph Rhew // Battery

Recorded live by John Kern with help from Steve Tyner of Black Cat Recording

Photo by Katelyn Knoll

http://www.facebook.com/FaerieRingBand/
http://www.instagram.com/faerie_ring
http://www.faeriering.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/kingvolumerecords
http://www.kingvolumerecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.kingvolumerecords.limitedrun.com

Faerie Ring, The Clearing (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Dommengang, Ice Dragon, Saint Karloff, Witch Trail, Love Gang, Firebreather, Karkara, Circle of Sighs, Floral Fauna, Vvlva

Posted in Reviews on January 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

We begin Day Two of the Winter 2020 Quarterly Review. Snow on the ground fell overnight and the day ahead looks as busy as ever. There’s barely time to stop for sips of coffee between records, but some allowances must be made. It’s Tuesday after all. There’s still a lot of week left. And if we can’t be kind to ourselves in the post-holiday comedown of wintry gray, when can we?

So yes, pause, sip — glug, more likely — then proceed.

I don’t usually play favorites with these things, but I think today’s might have worked out to be my favorite batch of the bunch. As always, I hope you find something that speaks to you.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Dommengang, No Keys

dommengang no keys

Driving heavy psych and rock meet with spacious Americana and a suburbanite dreaminess in Dommengang‘s No Keys, the now-L.A. trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Love Jail (review here). It is a melting pot of sound, with emphasis on melting, but vocal harmonies and consistently righteous basslines like that in “Stir the Sea” act to tie the nine component tracks together, making Dommengang‘s various washes of tone ultimately the creation of a welcoming space. Early cut “Earth Blues” follows opener “Sunny Day Flooding” with a mindful far-outbound resonance, and the later “Arcularius – Burke” finds itself in a linear building pattern ahead of “Jerusalem Cricket,” which reimagines ’70s country rock as something less about nostalgia than forward possibility. Having come far on their apparently keyboard-less journey, from the breadth-casting verses of “Stir the Sea” to the doomy interlude “Blues Rot,” they end with “Happy Death (Her Blues II)” which sure as hell sounds like it has some organ on it. Either way, whether they live up to the standard of the title or not is secondary to the album’s actual achievements, which are significant, and distinguish Dommengang from would-be peers in atmosphere, craft and melody.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records on Bandcamp

 

Ice Dragon, Passage of Mind

ice dragon passage of mind

Though they don’t do it nearly as often as they did between 2012 and 2015, every now and then Boston’s Ice Dragon manage to sneak out a new release. Over the last few years, that’s been a succession of singles, but Passage of Mind is their first LP since 2015’s A Beacon on the Barrow (review here), and though they’ll always in some part be thought of as a doom band, the unassuming organic psychedelia of “Don’t Know Much but the Road” reminds more of Chris Goss‘ work with Masters of Reality in its acoustic/fuzz blend and melody. The experimentalism-prone outfit have been down this avenue before as well, and it suits them, even as members have moved on to other projects (Brass Hearse among them), with the seven-minute “One of These Days” basing itself around willfully simplistic-sounding intertwining lines of higher and lower fuzz. There are moments of serenity, like closer “Dream About You” and “Sun in My Eyes,” but “The Sound the Rain Makes” is more of a blowout, and even the darker vibe of “Delirium’s Tears” holds hits melody as top priority. Hey guess what? Here’s an Ice Dragon album that deserves more attention than it’s gotten. I think it’s the 12th one.

Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks

Ice Dragon on Bandcamp

 

Saint Karloff, Interstellar Voodoo

Saint Karloff Interstellar Voodoo

Oslo’s Saint Karloff squash the high standard they set for themselves on their 2018 debut, All Heed the Black God (review here), with the 41-minute single-song long-player Interstellar Voodoo, basking in bluesy Sabbathian grandeur and keeping a spirit of progressive adventuring beneath without giving over entirely to self-indulgent impulses any more than one could as they careen from one movement to the next in the multi-stage work. With vinyl through Majestic Mountain Records, tape on Stoner Witch Records and CD through Ozium Records, they’re nothing if not well represented, and rightly so, as they veer in and out of psychedelic terrain in exciting and periodically elephantine fashion, still making room for classic Scandi-folk boogie on side A before the second half of the track stomps all over everything that’s come before it en route to its own organ-laced jammy meandering, Iommi shuffle and circa-’74 howl. As a new generation of doom rock begins to take shape, Saint Karloff position themselves well as earlier pursuers of an individualist spirit while still drawing of course on classic sources of inspiration. The first record was encouraging. The second is more so. The third will be the real tell of who they are as a band.

Saint Karloff on Thee Facebooks

Majestic Mountain Records webstore

 

Witch Trail, The Sun Has Left the Hill

witch trail the sun has left the hill

The jangling guitar strum in centerpiece “Lucid” on Witch Trail‘s The Sun Has Left the Hill (Consouling Sounds) has the indelible mark of classic rock and roll freedom to it. One wonders if Pete Townshend would recognize it, or if it’s too far blasted into oblivion by the Belgian trio’s aesthetic treatment across The Sun Has Left the Hill‘s convention-challenging 29-minute span, comprising seven tracks that bring together a heavy alternative rock and post-black metal vision marked by spacious echoes and cavern screams that are likewise tortured and self-assured. That is to say, there’s no mistaking the intent here. In the early intensity of “Watcher” or the shimmering and more patiently unfolding “Silent Running,” the Ghent three-piece mark out their stylistic terrain between bursts of noisy chaotic wash and clearheaded execution. The six-minute “Afloat” hisses like a lost demo that would’ve rewritten genre history some 25 years ago, and even in closer “Residue,” one can’t help but feel like Witch Trail are indeed looking to leave some lasting effect behind them with such forward-thinking craft. Sure to be a shock for those who take it on with no idea of what to expect.

Witch Trail on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

 

Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game

love gang dead mans game

Shortly before Love Gang are halfway through the opening title-track of their debut album, Dead Man’s Game, just when you think you might have their blend of organ-laced Radio Moscow and Motörhead figured out, that’s when Leo Muñoz breaks out the flute and the whole thing takes a turn for the unexpected. Surprises abound from the Denver foursome of Muñoz (who also handles organ and sax), guitarist/vocalist Kam Wentworth, bassist Grady O’Donnell and drummer Shaun Goodwin, who find room for psychedelic airiness amidst the gallop of “Addiction,” which doesn’t seem coincidentally paired with “Break Free,” though the two don’t run together. Love Gang‘s 2016 self-titled EP (review here) had a cleaner production and less aggro throb, and there’s some of that on Dead Man’s Game in the peaceful melody of “Interlude,” but even seven-minute closer “Endless Road” makes a point of finishing at a rush, and that’s ultimately what defines the album. No complaints. Love Gang wield momentum as another element of inventive arrangement on this encouraging first long-player.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

 

Firebreather, Under a Blood Moon

firebreather under a blood moon

‘Tis the stuff of battle axes and severed limbs, but it’s worth noting that three of the six inclusions on Firebreather‘s second LP and first for RidingEasy Records, Under a Blood Moon, have some reference to fire in their title. The follow-up to their brazen 2017 self-titled debut (review here) starts with its longest track (immediate points) in the nine-minute “Dancing Flames,” then follows immediately with “Our Souls, They Burn” and launches side B with the eponymous “Firebreather,” as the Gothenburg trio of Mattias Nööjd, Kyle Pitcher and Axel Wittbeck launch their riffy, destructive assault with urgency that earns all that scarred land left in its wake. The High on Fire comparison remains inevitable, perhaps most of all on “Firebreather” itself, but Firebreather have grown thicker in tone, meaner in approach and do nothing to shy away from the largesse that such a sound might let them convey, as “Our Souls, They Burn” and in the volume surges of closer “The Siren.” Under a Blood Moon is a definite forward step from the first LP, showing an evolving sound and burgeoning individuality that one hopes Firebreather continue to hunt down with such vigilance.

Firebreather on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

Karkara, Crystal Gazer

karkara crystal gazer

Presented through Stolen Body Records, the debut long-player from French trio Karkara purports to be “Oriental psych rock,” which accounts for an Eastern influence in the overall sound of its seven-track/41-minute run, but there are perhaps some geographical questions to be undertaken there, as “Camel Rider” and others show a distinctive Mideastern flair. Whatever works, I guess. At its core, Crystal Gazer is a work of psychedelic space rock, brought to bear with a duly open sensibility by guitarist/vocalist Karim Rihani (also didgeridoo), bassist Hugo Olive and drummer/vocalist Maxime Marouani as seemingly the beginning stages of a broader sonic adventure. That is to say, the stylistic aspects at play here — and they are very much “at play” — feel purposefully used, but like the foundation of what will be future growth on the part of Karkara as a unit. Will they progress along a more patient and meditative path, as “The Way” hints in some of its early roll, or will the frenetic winding of closer “Jedid” set their course for subsequent freakouts? I don’t know, but Karkara strike as a band who won’t see any point to standing still creatively any more than they do to doing so rhythmically.

Karkara on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records website

 

Circle of Sighs, Desolate

circle of sighs desolate

Information is limited on Circle of Sighs, and by that I primarily mean I don’t have any. They list their point of origin as Los Angeles, so there’s that, but as to the whos and whats, wheres and so on, it’s a mystery. Something tells me that suits the band, whose four-track debut EP, Desolate, gracefully executes a blend of melodic downerism with more extreme elements at play, melodic vocal arrangements offset by screams in the closing title-track after the prior rolling groove of “Burden of the Flesh” offered a progressive and synth-laden take on Pallbearer-style emotive doom. Acoustics, keyboard, and a clear use of multiple singers give Circle of Sighs‘ first outing a kitchen-sink feel, but one can only admire them for trying something new at their (presumed) outset, and the catchy chug of “Hold Me, Lucifer” speaks to more complex aesthetic origins than the simplistic subject matter might lead one to believe. The outlier is the penultimate nine-minute cut “Kukeri,” which broods across its first three minutes in a manner that would make Patrick Walker proud before unfolding the breadth of its lumber and arrangement, harmonies and screams and the first real showcase of more extreme impulses taking hold in its second half — plus strings, maybe — which “Desolate” itself will build upon after a bookending acoustic close. There’s some sorting out to do in terms of sound, but already they show a readiness to push in their own direction, and that’s more than it would seem reasonable to ask.

Circle of Sighs on Thee Facebooks

Circle of Sighs on Bandcamp

 

Floral Fauna, Pink and Blue

floral fauna pink and blue

Way out west, Chris Allison of the band Lord Loud is taking on psychedelic shimmer under the ostensible solo moniker of Floral Fauna, but the situation of the project’s 11-tracker debut LP, Pink and Blue is more complicated in personnel and style than that, melding fuzzy presence, classic ’60s surf-tone, rampant hooky melody and ready-to-go-anywhere-as-long-as-it-works pop experimentalism together in a steaming lysergic cauldron of neo-yourface-ism that’s ether blissed enough to tie funk and ancient R&B to cosmic flow together in a manner that feels like an utter tossoff, like, hey, yeah man, this kind of thing just happens all the time here. You know, no big deal on this wavelength. Mellow dreams in “Great White Silence,” a spacey ramble in “Velvet and Jade” and the echoing leadwork of “Red Anxiety” continue the color theme from the opening title-track, and the record caps with “Herds of Jellyfish,” which at last brings forward the vocal harmony that the whole album seems to have been begging for. Cool debut? Shit, man. It’s 36 minutes of straight-up psych joy just waiting to bring you on board. Legal psilocybin now.

Floral Fauna on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

Vvlva, Silhouettes

vvlva silhouettes

There are a couple things you can figure on in this wacky universe, and one of them is that German imprint World in Sound knows what it’s doing when it picks up a classic heavy rock band. Silhouettes is the second long-player the label has released from woefully-monikered Aschaffenburg-based four-piece Vvlva, and indeed in the upfront boogie of “Cosmic Pilgrim” or the more progressive unfolding of pieces like “Tales Told by a Gray Man,” the centerpiece “Gomorrah,” or the longer “Night by Night/The Choir” and “Dance of the Heathens,” which seem to bring the two sides together, there’s enough vintage influence to make the case once again. Like the more forward thinking of their contemporaries, Vvlva have brought this modus into the present when it comes to production value and clarity, and rather than sound like it’s 1973, they would seem to be making 1973 sound like them. Whether one dives in for the early hooks in “Cosmic Pilgrim” or “What Do I Stand For?” or the fuzzy interplay between the solo and organ in the maddeningly bouncing “Hobos,” there’s plenty in Silhouettes to demonstrate the vitality and continued evolution of the style.

Vvlva on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound website

 

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Floral Fauna Set Dec. 9 Release for Debut Album Pink & Blue

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

Call it a win for social media advertising, I guess, but I was dicking around Thee Facebooks earlier this week and saw King Volume Records‘ sponsored post for the debut album from Floral Fauna releasing on Dec. 9 and decided to check it out based on nothing more than the imprint putting it out and the awesome-looking cover. Still value in catching the eye. Anyhow, fortunately, my click-twice efforts were rewarded with two streaming tracks from the impending Pink and Blue, the title-cut and the snarky “When You Smile,” as both dig into classic ’60s garage rock vibes and meld these together with neo-psychedelic reach and production value. The mood is liquid, if liquid is a mood — it is — and the expanse of reverb is subtle but definitely there for something that still might be called “garage.” I don’t know how many cars it holds, but it definitely holds a mighty pedalboard.

The central figure here is Chris Allison, whom you might recognize from his other band, Lord Loud, who released their debut LP, Passé Paranoia (review here), on King Volume in 2017. He’s joined by a range of guests as fleshed out in the album details below.

Streaming tracks follow as well. Enjoy:

floral fauna pink and blue

Floral Fauna – Pink & Blue

Floral Fauna is a seed planted in fertile soil by Chris Allison. Following in the footsteps of psych contemporaries, Floral Fauna’s sound has retro sounding roots. But its vines are grasping out for new, sonic footing. Like leaves throughout the seasons, this debut album contains a plethora of colors and sounds.

It playfully skips around from lush organ/synth/string pads to crunchy and dead garage riffs. Guest musicians helped with the harvest; big names like Julian Porte (Levitation Room), Geoff Halliday (Hands), Julian Medina (Nadu), Emily Howard (Human Behavior) and even Michael Feld from his other heavy psych band Lord Loud. Floral Fauna couldn’t be more excited for this sunrise. It’s going to be a beautiful bloom!

Releases December 9, 2019.

Tracklisting:
1. Pink and Blue
2. Over and Over
3. Wah Hoo Hoo
4. Left Behind
5. Great White Silence
6. Pages of Time
7. When You Smile
8. Red Anxiety
9. Herds of Jellyfish
10. Awoke One Morning
11. Velvet and Jade

Floral Fauna is:
Geoff Halliday – drums (1-5, 7, 10)
Jim Wimberly – drums (9, 11)
Michael Feld – drums (6)
Julian Medina – drums (8)
Emily Howard – clarinet (9)
Noam Goldstein – flute (7)
Julian Moon – piano (6)
Chris Allison – other instrumentation, vocals

Mixed by Chris.
Mastered by Adam Boose at Cauliflower Audio.

https://www.facebook.com/floralfaunaband/
https://floralfauna.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/kingvolumerecords
http://www.kingvolumerecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.kingvolumerecords.limitedrun.com

Floral Fauna, Pink & Blue (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Monkey3, Asthma Castle, The Giraffes, Bask, Faerie Ring, Desert Sands, Cavalcade, Restless Spirit, Children of the Sün, Void King

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Call two friends and tell them to tell two friends to tell two friends, because the Quarterly Review has returned. This time around, it’s 50 records front to back for Fall 2019 and there are some big names and some smaller names and a whole lot of in between which is just how I like it. Between today and Friday, each day 10 album reviews will be posted in a single batch like this one, and although by Wednesday this always means I’m totally out of my mind, it’s always, always, always worth it to be able to write about so much cool stuff. So sit tight, because there’s a lot to get through and, as ever, time’s at a premium.

Thanks in advance for keeping up, and I hope you find something you dig.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Monkey3, Sphere

monkey3 sphere

It’s a full-on Keanu Reeves “whoa” when opening track “Spirals” kicks in on Monkey3‘s sixth album, Sphere (released by Napalm), and that’s by no means the last one on the cinematic six-tracker. The long-running Swiss mostly-instrumentalists have been consistently, persistently underappreciated throughout their career, but whether it’s the aural scope of guitar and keys in “Axis” or the swaps between intensity and sprawl in 14-minute closer “Ellipsis,” their latest work is consuming in its sense of triumph. Even the four-minute “Ida,” which seems at first like it’s barely going to be more than an interlude, finds a thread of majestic cosmic groove and rides it for the duration, while the proggy immersion of “Prism” and the harder drive of “Mass” — not to mention that shredding solo — make the middle of the record anything but a post-hypnosis dip. I won’t pretend to know if Sphere is the record that finally gets the Lausanne four-piece the respect they’ve already well deserved, but if it was, one could only say it was for good reason. Blends of heft, progressive craft, and breadth are rarely so resonant.

Monkey3 on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore

Asthma Castle Mount Crushmore

When you call your record Mount Crushmore, you need to bring it, and much to their credit, Baltimorean sludge-rocking five-piece Asthma Castle do precisely that on their debut full-length. Issued through Hellmistress Records, the 37-minute/six-track outing is a wordplay-laced pummeler that shows as much persona in its riffing and massive groove as it does in titles like “The Incline of Western Civilization” and “The Book of Duderonomy.” Trades between early-Mastodonic twists and lumbering sludge crash add a frenetic and unpredictable feel to pieces like the title-track, while “Methlehem” trades its plod for dual-guitar antics punctuated by metallic double-kick, all the while the vocals trade back and forth between growls, shouts, cleaner shouts, the odd scream, etc., because basically if you can keep up with it, Asthma Castle wouldn’t be doing their job. One shudders to think of the amount of Natty Bo consumed during its making, but Mount Crushmore is a wild and cacophonous enough time to live up to the outright righteousness of its title. If I graded reviews, it would get a “Fuckin’ A+,” with emphasis on “fuckin’ a.”

Asthma Castle on Thee Facebooks

Hellmistress Records website

 

The Giraffes, Flower of the Cosmos

the giraffes flower of the cosmos

Some day the world will wake up and realize the rock and roll powerhouse it had in Brooklyn’s The Giraffes, but by then it’ll be too late. The apocalypse will have happened long ago, and it’ll be Burgess Meredith putting on a vinyl of Flower of the Cosmos in the New York Library as “FAKS” echoes out through the stacks of now-meaningless tomes and the dust of nuclear winter falls like snow outside the windows. The band’s tumultuous history is mirrored in the energy of their output, and yet to hear the melody and gentle fuzz at the outset of “Golden Door,” there’s something soothing about their work as well that, admittedly, “Raising Kids in the End Times” is gleeful in undercutting. Cute as well they pair that one with “Dorito Dreams” on this, their seventh record in a 20-plus-year run, which has now seen them find their footing, lose it, find it again, and in this record and songs like the masterfully frenetic “Fill up Glass” and the air-tight-tense “Like Hate” and “Romance,” weave a document every bit worthy of Mr. Meredith’s attention as he mourns for the potential of this godforsaken wasteland. Oh, what we’ll leave behind. Such pretty ruins.

The Giraffes website

The Giraffes on Bandcamp

 

Bask, III

bask iii

In the fine tradition of heavy rock as grown-up punk, North Carolina’s Bask bring progressive edge and rolling-Appalachian atmospherics to the underlying energy of III, their aptly-titled and Season of Mist-issued third album. Their foot is in any number of styles, from Baroness-style noodling to a hard twang that shows up throughout and features prominently on the penultimate “Noble Daughters II – The Bow,” but the great triumph of III, and really the reason it works at all, is because the band find cohesion in this swath of influences. They’re a band who obviously put thought into what they do, making it all the more appropriate to think of them as prog, but as “Three White Feet” and “New Dominion” show at the outset, they don’t serve any aesthetic master so much as the song itself. Closing with banjo and harmonies and a build of crash cymbal on “Maiden Mother Crone” nails the point home in a not-understated way, but at no point does III come across as hyper-theatrical so as to undercut the value of what Bask are doing. It’s a more patient album than it at first seems, but given time to breathe, III indeed comes to life.

Bask on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist on Bandcamp

 

Faerie Ring, The Clearing

fairie ring the clearing

Listening to the weighty rollout of opening cut “Bite the Ash” on Faerie Ring‘s debut album, The Clearing (on King Volume Records), one is reminded of the energy that once-upon-a-time came out of Houston’s Venomous Maximus. There’s a similar feeling of dark energy surging through the riffs and echoing vocals, but the Evansville, Indiana, four-piece wind up on a different trip. Their take is more distinctly Sabbathian on “Lost Wind” and even the swinging “Heavy Trip” lives up to its stated purpose ahead of the chugging largesse of finisher “Heaven’s End.” They find brash ground on “The Ring” and the slower march of “Somnium,” but there’s metal beneath the lumbering and it comes out on “Miracle” in a way that the drums late in “Lost Wind” seem to hint toward on subsequent listens. It’s a mix of riff-led elements that should be readily familiar to many listeners, but the sheer size and clarity of presentation Faerie Ring make throughout The Clearing makes me think they’ll look to distinguish themselves going forward, and so their first record holds all the more potential for that.

Faerie Ring on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

Desert Sands, The Ascent EP

Desert Sands The Ascent

Begun as the solo-project of London-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mark Walker and presently a trio including Louis Kinder and Jonathan Walker as well, Desert Sands make their recorded debut through A Records with the three-song/half-hour The Ascent EP, a work of psychedelic existentialism that conveys its cosmic questioning even before the lyrics start, with an opening riff and rhythmic lurch to “Are You There” that seems to throw its central query into a void that either will or won’t answer. Does it? The hell should I know, but The Ascent proves duly transcendent in its pulsations as “Head Towards the Light” and 11:45 closer “Yahweh” — yeah, I guess we get there — bring drifting, languid enlightenment to these spiritual musings. The finale is, of course, a jam in excelsis and if drop-acid-find-god is the narrative we’re working with, then Desert Sands are off to a hell of a start as a project. Regardless of how one might ultimately come down (and it is, by my estimation at least, a comedown) on the question of human spirituality, there’s no denying the power and ethereal force of the kind of creativity on display in The Ascent. One will wait impatiently to see what comes next.

Desert Sands on Thee Facebooks

A Recordings on Thee Facebooks

 

Cavalcade, Sonic Euthanasia

Cavalcade Sonic Euthanasia

Say what you want about New Orleans or North Carolina or wherever the hell else, Midwestern sludge is another level of filth. To wit, the Carcass-style vocals that slice through the raw, dense riffing on “Aspirate on Aspirations” feel like the very embodiment of modern disillusion, and there’s some flourish of melodic guitar pluck there, but that only seems to give the ensuing crunch more impact, and likewise the far-back char of “Freezing in Fire” as it relates to the subsequent “Dead Idles,” as Cavalcade refute the trappings of genre in tempo while still seeming to burrow a hole for themselves in the skull of the converted. “Noose Tie” and “We Dig Our Own Graves” tell the story, but while the recording itself is barebones, Cavalcade aren’t now and never really have been so simple as to be a one-trick band. For more than a decade, they’ve provided a multifaceted and trickily complex downer extremity, and Sonic Euthanasia does this as well, bringing their sound to new places and new levels of abrasion along its punishing way. Easy listening? Shit. You see that eye on the cover? That’s the lizard people staring back at you. Have fun with that.

Cavalcade on Thee Facebooks

Cavalcade on Bandcamp

 

Restless Spirit, Lord of the New Depression

restless spirit lord of the new depression

Long Island chug-rockers Restless Spirit would seem to have been developing the material for their self-released debut album, Lord of the New Depression, over the last couple years on a series of short releases, but the songs still sound fresh and electrified in their vitality. If this was 1992 or ’93, they’d be signed already to RoadRacer Records and put on tour with Life of Agony, whose River Runs Red would seem to be a key influence in the vocals of the nine-track/39-minute offering, but even on their own, the metal-tinged five-piece seem to do just fine. Their tracks are atmospheric and aggressive and kind, and sincere in their roll, capturing the spirit of a band like Down with somewhat drawn-back chestbeating, “Dominion” aside. They seem to be challenging themselves to push outside those confines though in “Deep Fathom Hours,” the longest track at 7:35 with more complexity in the melody of the vocals and guitar, and that suits them remarkably well as they dig into this doomly take on LOA and Type O Negative and others from the early ’90s NYC underground — they seem to pass on Biohazard, which is fine — made legendary with the passage of time. As a gentleman of a certain age, I find it exceptionally easy to get on board.

Restless Spirit on Thee Facebooks

Restless Spirit on Bandcamp

 

Children of the Sün, Flowers

Children of the Sun Flowers

An eight-piece outfit based in Arvika, Sweden, which is far enough west to be closer to Oslo than Stockholm, Children of the Sün blend the classic heavy rock stylizations of MaidaVale, first-LP Blues Pills and others with a decidedly folkish bent. Including an intro, their The Sign Records debut album, Flowers, is eight track and 34 minutes interweaving organ and guitar, upbeat vibes and bluesier melodies, taking cues from choral-style vocals on “Emmy” in such a way as to remind of Church of the Cosmic Skull, though the aesthetic here is more hippie than cult. The singing on “Sunschild” soars in that fashion as well, epitomizing the lush melody found across Flowers as the keys, guitar, bass and drums work to match in energy and presence. For a highlight, I’d pick the more subdued title-track, which still has its sense of movement thanks to percussion deep in the mix but comes arguably closest to the flower-child folk Children of the Sün seem to be claiming for their own, though the subsequent closing duo of “Like a Sound” and “Beyond the Sun” aren’t far off either. They’re onto something. One hopes they continue to explore in such sünshiny fashion.

Children of the Sün on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Void King, Barren Dominion

void king barren dominion

Having made their debut with 2016’s There is Nothing (discussed here), Indianapolis downtrodden heavy rock four-piece Void King come back for a second go with Barren Dominion (on Off the Record Label), a title of similar theme that finds them doom riffing through massive tonality on “Burnt at Both Ends,” asking what if Soundgarden played atmospheric doom rock on “Crippled Chameleon” — uh, it would be awesome? yup — and opening each side with its longest track (double immediate points) in a clearly intended vinyl structure hell bent on immersing the listener as much as possible in the lumber and weight the band emit. Frontman Jason Kindred adds extra burl to his already-plenty-dudely approach on “Crippled Chameleon” and closer “The Longest Winter,” the latter with some harmonies to mirror those of opener “A Lucid Omega,” and the band around him — bassist Chris Carroll, drummer Derek Felix and guitarist Tommy Miller — seem to have no trouble whatsoever in keeping up, there or anywhere else on the eight-song/46-minute outing. Topped with striking cover art from Diogo SoaresBarren Dominion is deceptively nuanced and full-sounding. Not at all empty.

Void King on Thee Facebooks

Off the Record Label BigCartel store

 

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Faerie Ring to Release The Clearing June 7; Streaming “Lost Wind”

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

fairie ring

Sometimes I get on kind of a high-horse around here and talk about bands like they’re shifting paradigms for all eternity and hyperbole this and that and whatever. I know it. I get excited. It’s part of the thing, if the thing is being passionate about music. And I try to curb it when I can. But something comes along like the streaming Faerie Ring track “Lost Wind” and it’s a reminder of what it’s really all about. It’s not furthering some grand aesthetic vision or whatever. It’s having a good time. And I don’t mean that like whoa-brah party rock like it’s cool-kids thing and you’re not invited if your Instagram brand isn’t super-hot right now. I mean like it’s about getting together with friends, creating something that, yes, is art, but that is also a personal expression of where you’re at and, occasionally — just occasionally — can also be a lot of fun. I hear “Lost Wind” in its unabashed appreciation of volume and tonal weight and think, not about it changing the universe, but about how much fun that shit must be to play on a stage in front of some friends and whoever else has shown up. I like that thought. I like this song.

That’s it.

Album is out June 7. It’s their first, and called The Clearing. King Volume has the release, and their taste is reliable. Preorders are up, as per the PR wire:

fairie ring the clearing

FAERIE RING: Indiana Fuzz Rock Alchemists To Release The Clearing Debut Via King Volume Records June 7th; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Evansville, Indiana-based fuzz rock alchemists FAERIE RING will release their debut full-length, The Clearing, June 7th via King Volume Records.

Recorded and mixed at Hickory Sound Recording by Aaron Travis and mastered at Cauliflower Audio, over the course of seven tracks, FAERIE RING effortlessly combines various influences from the pantheons of stoner rock into a singular vision. Expanding on the green haze of Sleep and the rocking, desert grooves of Kyuss, FAERIE RING is clearly rooted in the art of riff worship. Still, there exists the freshness of spring and new growth within their psalms; the mushrooms on the forest floor bursting forth and reaching towards the light above. Here we see the boldness of youth and passion re-visioning the perceived limits of the genre. Coalescing all that is heavy and psychedelic into a single breathing ecosystem, FAERIE RING’s compositions evoke a sense of wonder, like wandering through a towering forest displaced from time; being present and respectful towards the old growth and rejoicing in the new life that is teeming below the surface.

In advance of the release of The Clearing, FAERIE RING is pleased to unveil “Lost Wind” for public feasting. Issues the band simply, “‘Lost Wind’ is the slow sonic immersion into the psychic depths of the FAERIE RING sound.”

The Clearing will be released on digital and vinyl formats via King Volume Records. For preorders, visit the King Volume Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION.

FAERIE RING will bring their riffs to the stage at the Buzz/Cut Queer Music Fest in Indianapolis this September with additional live dates to be announced in the weeks to come.

FAERIE RING:
9/07/2019 Buzz/Cut Queer Music Fest – Indianapolis, IN

The Clearing Track Listing:
1. Bite The Ash
2. Lost Wind
3. The Ring
4. Somnium
5. Miracle
6. Heavy Trip
7. Heaven’s End

What started out as an after-work jam in 2016 between guitarist Kyle Hulgus and drummer Joey Rhew quickly bloomed into a full-fledged project with the addition of guitarist/vocalist James Wallwork and bassist Alex Henderson. Shortly thereafter, FAERIE RING employed the help of local recording savant Aaron Travis to pick up what was recorded in a small room and make it sound like it was being blasted out of the Earth itself. There are no gimmicks involved in what FAERIE RING manifest; no need to fly to some rustic cathedral in a far away land for recording aesthetic. The band simply put big amps in a tiny room with linoleum floors and drop ceilings and hit the “Record” button. Tune in; drop out.

http://www.facebook.com/FaerieRingBand/
http://www.instagram.com/faerie_ring
http://www.faeriering.bandcamp.com/
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http://www.kingvolumerecords.bandcamp.com
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Faerie Ring, The Clearing (2019)

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Deathchant Premiere “Hex”; Self-Titled Debut out Jan. 10

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deathchant

Los Angeles four-piece Deathchant issue their self-titled debut on Jan. 10 through King Volume Records (LP) and Dune Altar (tape), and there’s some weird shit afoot. So, get this: Seven tracks/29 minutes. On the shorter end of an LP, but whatever. All the songs have one-word titles, so you’d think maybe pretty stripped down, right? And it’s Southern California, so you’d think maybe some boogie involved or some jams, right? Not really. Deathchant, led by guitarist/vocalist TJ Lemieux, make short work of expectation and offer a feedback-drenched take on darker heavy rock, so that even the strut of opener “Pessimist” can just absolutely collapse into biting noise at a moment’s notice — which it does — and then resume its course like nothing happened. There are “hey wait!” moments like that all over the album, and to add to that, Lemiuex‘s vocals are coated in reverb — he did similarly his band Child (who are not to be confused with the Australian blues rockers of the same name) — in such a way that in context of some of the severity surrounding feels like a tip of the hat to Wovenhand that immediately gives the songs a distinguishing element. There’s no shortage of groove to go around in “Pessimist” or elsewhere, and as the album unfolds with “Control” and “Ritual” — which as I understand it was going to be the title-track at one point — there is a linear character to the transitions that the noise-factor only helps further.

deathchant deathchant

Side A of the LP is those three songs: “Pessimist,” “Control” and “Ritual,” and the momentum factor isn’t to be understated. While Deathchant is short, and was recorded live obviously in an effort to capture an energetic vibe (easy to argue success there), the material doesn’t sound any more rushed than they want it to, and they’re in control the whole time of the thrust, which particularly as the drifting centerpiece “Eulogy” takes hold on side B and turns its wash over to the unbridled push of “Breathe,” “Hex” and closer “Trigger,” is key. Every song on the second half of the record is shorter than anything on the first, and it’s almost as though the band swapped out what would be the usual tack for an A/B long-player, putting the up-front rockers in back and the more ranging material up front, “Eulogy” notwithstanding. Either way, even at their most driving, in the forward pummel and tonal crush of “Breathe” or the chugga-shuffle of “Hex,” they hold firm to the atmosphere created by the earlier cuts, so that the most rocking of tracks is still imbued with a darker underlying spirit. As “Trigger” surges outward in go-go-go fashion before cutting to a closing minute-plus of eerie sampled noise and far-away guitar, the core blend of Deathchant‘s aesthetic is maintained — it is volatile, exciting and unpredictable. These are not words I use lightly.

Lemieux, who’s responsible for the songwriting and joined in the band by John Bolino, Colin Fahrner and George Camacho, also helped to mix the recording which was engineered by Stephen Schroeder (who also mastered it), has been and is involved in a number of projects, but Deathchant find their footing quickly on their self-titled, and potential abounds for further exploration, and the lean nature of Deathchant itself only furthers interest in how their ethic will develop over the longer term.

Want the short version? Cool track. Give it a listen:

Recorded live over a 2 day period at a secluded cabin in Big Bear, California. Mixed by TJ Lemieux and Stephen Schroeder. Engineered and Mastered by Stephen Schroeder. All Songs & words by TJ Lemieux. Copyright 2018 RAGWEED.

DEATHCHANT is the brainchild of TJ Lemieux (CHILD, Psychedelic speed freaks, Mainline ladies, Babylon) formed in 2018 in Los Angeles, CA. They have been dubbed Psychedelic rock, proto-metal, doom, stoner metal, noise-punk, hard rock, and everything in between, but if you ask them it’s “rock and roll with psychedelic influences.” Their imagery and sound seem to fluctuate rapidly between a peaceful meditative eastern-tinged message of unity and all out warcry with an underlying message of love and peace-through-violence.

Driven by Thomas (TJ) Lemieux’s brooding aesthetic and signature psychedelic guitar character, DEATHCHANT echoes through the darker side of Proto-metal and hard rock. Reflections of past endeavors from TJ Lemieux, John Bolino, Colin Fahrner, and George Camacho (Roast, psychedelic speed freaks, high rise, Babylon) cascade into an immersive wall of noise-induced heavy metal mania, equal parts paranoia and transcendental harmony. These four create a sound that is loud, massive, and about as melodic as a sonic assault of this magnitude can be. They resonate with wherever or whoever you are and deliver an excitingly raw and catchy brand of rock and roll. Ask a freak!!

Deathchant on Instagram

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

King Volume Records webstore

Dune Altar webstore

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Quarterly Review: Loss, BardSpec, Sinner Sinners, Cavra, Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Supersonic Blues, Masterhand, Green Lung, Benthic Realm, Lâmina

Posted in Reviews on July 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

Day two of the Quarterly Review and all is chugging along. I was on the road for part of the day yesterday and will be again today, so there’s some chaos underlying what I’m sure on the surface seems like an outwardly smooth process — ha. — but yeah, things are moving forward. Today is a good mix of stuff, which makes getting through it somewhat easier on my end, as opposed to trying to find 50 different ways to say “riffy,” so I hope you take the time to sample some audio as you make your way through, to get a feel for where these bands are coming from. A couple highlights of the week in here, as always. We go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Loss, Horizonless

loss horizonless

Horizonless (on Profound Lore) marks a welcome if excruciating return from Nashville death-doomers Loss, who debuted six years ago with 2011’s Despond (review here) and who, much to their credit, waste no time in making up for their absence with 64 soul-crushing minutes across nine slabs of hyperbole-ready atmospheric misery. The longer, rumble-caked, slow-motion lumbering of “The Joy of all Who Sorrow,” “All Grows on Tears,” “Naught,” the title-track and closer “When Death is All” (which boasts guests spots from Leviathan’s Wrest, Dark Castle’s Stevie Floyd and producer Billy Anderson) are companioned by shorter ambient works like the creepy horror soundtrack “I.O.” and the hum of “Moved Beyond Murder,” but the deeper it goes, the more Horizonless lives up to its name in creating a sense of unremitting, skyline-engulfing darkness. That doesn’t mean it’s without an emotional center. As Loss demonstrate throughout, there’s nothing that escapes their consumptive scope, and as they shift through the organ-laced “The End Steps Forth,” “Horizonless,” “Banishment” and the long-fading wash of the finale, the album seems as much about eating its own heart as yours. A process both gorgeous and brutal.

Loss on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

BardSpec, Hydrogen

bardspec hydrogen

It’s only fair to call Hydrogen an experimentalist work, but don’t necessarily take that to mean that Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson doesn’t have an overarching vision for what his BardSpec project is. With contributions along the way from Today is the Day’s Steve Austin and former Trinacria compatriot Iver Sandøy (also Manngard), Bjørnson crafts extended pieces of ambient guitar and electronica-infused beats on works like “Fire Tongue” and the thumping “Salt,” resulting in two kinds of interwoven progressive otherworldlinesses not so much battling it out as exploring the spaces around each other. Hydrogen veers toward the hypnotic even through the more manic-churning bonus track “Teeth,” but from the psych-dance transience of “Bone” (video posted here) to the unfolding wash of “Gamma,” BardSpec is engaged in creating its own aesthetic that’s not only apart from what Bjørnson is most known for in Enslaved, but apart even from its influences in modern atmospherics and classic, electronics-infused prog.

BardSpec on Thee Facebooks

ByNorse Music website

 

Sinner Sinners, Optimism Disorder

There’s a current of rawer punk running beneath Sinner Sinners’ songwriting – or on the surface of it if you happen to be listening to “California” or “Outsider” or “Hate Yourself” or “Preachers,” etc. – but especially when the L.A. outfit draw back on the push a bit, their Last Hurrah Records and Cadavra Records full-length Optimism Disorder bears the hallmarks of Rancho de la Luna, the studio where it was recorded. To wit, the core duo of Steve and Sam Thill lead the way through the Queens of the Stone Age-style drive of opener “Last Drop” (video posted here), “Desperation Saved Me (Out of Desperation)” and though finale “Celexa Blues” is more aggressive, its tones and overall hue, particularly in the context of the bounce of “Together We Stand” and “Too Much to Dream” earlier, still have that desert-heavy aspect working for them. It’s a line that Sinner Sinners don’t so much straddle as crash through and stomp all over, but I’m not sure Optimism Disorder would work any other way.

Sinner Sinners on Thee Facebooks

Sinner Sinners on Bandcamp

Last Hurrah Records website

 

Cavra, Cavra

cavra cavra

The five-song/52-minute self-titled debut from Argentina trio Cavra was first offered digitally name-your-price-style late in 2016 and picked up subsequently by South American Sludge. There’s little reason to wonder why. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Cristian Kocak, bassist/vocalist Fernando Caminal and drummer Matias Gallipoli, the Buenos Aires three-piece place themselves squarely in the sphere of their home country’s rich heritage in heavy rock and psychedelic fluidity, with earthy tones, a resounding spaciousness in longer cuts like the all-15-minutes-plus “2010,” “Montaña” and “Torquemada.” My mind went immediately to early and mid-period Los Natas as a reference point for how the vocals cut through the density of “Montaña,” but even as Cavra show punkier and more straightforward thrust on the shorter “Dos Soles” (4:10) and “Librianna” (2:45) – the latter also carrying a marked grunge feel – they seem to keep one foot in lysergism. Perhaps less settled than it wants to be in its quiet parts, Cavra’s Cavra nonetheless reaches out with a tonal warmth and organic approach that mark a welcome arrival.

Cavra on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Split

black-tremor-sea-witch-split

One has to wonder if whichever of the involved parties – be it the two acts or either of the labels, Sunmask Records or Hypnotic Dirge – had in mind a land-and-sea kind of pairing in putting together Saskatoon’s Black Tremor or Nova Scotia’s Sea Witch for this split release, because that’s basically where they wound up. Black Tremor, who issued their debut EP in 2016’s Impending (review here), answer the post-Earth vibes with more bass/drums/cello instrumental exploration on the two-part “Hexus,” while the massive tonality of duo Sea Witch answers back – though not literally; they’re also instrumental – with three cuts, “Green Tide,” “As the Crow Flies Part One” and “As the Crow Flies Part Two.” The two outfits have plenty in common atmospherically, but where Black Tremor seem to seek open spaces in their sound, Sea Witch prefer lung-crushing heft, and, well, there isn’t really a wrong answer to that question. Two distinct intentions complementing each other in fluidity and a mood that goes from grim and contemplative to deathly and bleak.

Black Tremor on Thee Facebooks

Sea Witch on Thee Facebooks

Hypnotic Dirge Records webstore

Sunmask Records webstore

 

Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul

supersonic-blues-supersonic-blues-theme

It takes Den Haag trio Supersonic Blues no more than eight minutes to bust out one of 2017’s best short releases in their Who Can You Trust? Records debut single, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul. Yes, I mean it. The young three-piece of guitarist Timothy, bassist Gianni and drummer Lennart absolutely nail a classic boogie-rock vibe on the two-tracker, and from the gotta-hear low end that starts “Curses on My Soul,” the unabashed hook of “Supersonic Blues Theme” and the blown-out garage vocals that top both, the two-tracker demonstrates clearly not only that there’s still life to be had in heavy ‘70s loyalism when brought to bear with the right kind of energy, but that Supersonic Blues are on it like fuzz on tone. Killer feel all the way and shows an exceeding amount of potential for a full-length that one can only hope won’t follow too far behind. Bonus points for recording with Guy Tavares at Motorwolf. Hopefully they do the same when it comes time for the LP.

Supersonic Blues on Thee Facebooks

Who Can You Trust? Records webstore

 

Masterhand, Mind Drifter

masterhand-mind-drifter

A neo-psych trio from Oklahoma City, Masterhand seem like the kind of group who might at a moment’s notice pack their gear and go join the legions of freaks tripping out on the West Coast. Can’t imagine they wouldn’t find welcome among that I-see-colors-everywhere underground set – at least if their debut long-player, Mind Drifter, is anything to go by. Fuzz like Fuzz, acid like Uncle, and a quick, raw energy that underlies and propels the proceedings through quick tracks like “Fear Monger” and “Lucifer’s Dream” – tense bass and drums behind more languid wah and surf guitar before a return to full-on fuzz – yeah, they make a solid grab for upstart imprint King Volume Records, which has gotten behind Mind Drifter for a cassette issue. There’s some growing to do, but the psych-garage feel of “Chocolate Cake” is right on, “Heavy Feels” is a party, and when they want, they make even quick cuts like “Paranoia Destroyer” feel expansive. That, along with the rest of the release, bodes remarkably well.

Masterhand on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records webstore

 

Green Lung, Green Man Rising

green-lung-green-man-rising

Groove-rolling four-piece Green Lung boast former members of Oak and Tomb King, among others, and Green Man Rising, their first digital single, is the means by which they make their entry into London’s crowded underground sphere. Aside from the apparent nod to Type O Negative in the title – and the plenty of more-than-apparent nod in guitarist Scott Masson’s riffing – “Green Man Rising” and “Freak on a Peak” bask in post-Church of Misery blown-out cymbals from drummer Matt Wiseman, corresponding tones, while also engaging a sense of space via rich low end from bassist Andrew Cave and the echoing vocals of Tom Killingbeck. There’s an aesthetic identity taking shape in part around nature worship, and a burgeoning melodicism that one imagines will do likewise more over time, but they’ve got stonerly hooks in the spirit of Acrimony working in their favor and in a million years that’s never going to be a bad place to start. Cool vibe; makes it easy to look forward to more from them.

Green Lung on Thee Facebooks

Green Lung on Bandcamp

 

Benthic Realm, Benthic Realm

benthic-realm-benthic-realm

In 2016, Massachusetts-based doom metallers Second Grave issued one of the best debut albums of the year in their long-awaited Blacken the Sky (review here)… and then, quite literally days later, unexpectedly called it quits. It was like a cruel joke, teasing their potential and then cutting it short of full realization. The self-titled debut EP from Benthic Realm, which features Second Grave guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (also ex-Warhorse) and bassist Maureen Murphy alongside drummer Brian Banfield (The Scimitar), would seem to continue the mission of that prior outfit if perhaps in an even more metallic direction, drawing back on some of Second Grave’s lumber in favor of a mid-paced thrust while holding firm to the melodic sensibility that worked so well across Blacken the Sky’s span. For those familiar with Second Grave, Benthic Realm is faster, not as dark, and perhaps somewhat less given to outward sonic extremity, but it’s worth remembering that “Awakening,” “Don’t Fall in Line” and “Where Serpents Dwell” are just an introduction and that van Guilder and Murphy might go on a completely different direction over the longer term after going back to square one as they do here.

Benthic Realm website

Benthic Realm on Bandcamp

 

Lâmina, Lilith

lamina-lilith

Smack dab in the middle of Lilith, the debut album from Lisbon-based doom/heavy rockers Lâmina, sits the 20-minute aberration “Maze.” It’s a curious track in a curious place on the record, surrounded by the chugging “Evil Rising” and bass-led rocker bounce of “Psychodevil,” but though it’s almost a full-length unto itself (at least an EP), Lâmina make the most of its extended and largely linear course, building on the tonal weight already shown in the earlier “Cold Blood” and “Big Black Angel” and setting up the tension of “Education for Death” and the nine-minute semi-title-track finale “In the Warmth of Lilith,” which feels a world away from the modern stonerism of “Psychodevil” in its slower and thoroughly doomed rollout. There’s a subtle play of scope happening across Lilith, drawn together by post-grunge tonal clarity and vocal melodies, and Lâmina establish themselves as potentially able to pursue any number of paths going forward from here. If they can correspondingly develop the penchant for songwriting they already show in these cuts as well, all the better.

Lâmina on Thee Facebooks

Lâmina on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Lord Loud, Passé Paranoia

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Lord-Loud-Passe-Paranoia

[Click play above to stream ‘Moths to Light’ from Lord Loud’s debut album, Passé Paranoia, out April 18 on King Volume Records.]

It doesn’t necessarily present this way superficially, but among the most striking aspects of Passé Paranoia is the balance it strikes between its influences and the varying sides of its sound that is emerging from them. That is, one can listen to the King Volume Records-delivered debut full-length from Van Nuys duo Lord Loud and take it as a mostly-uptempo fuzz rocker, or one can dig deeper into what guitarist/vocalist Chris Allison and drummer/vocalist Michael Feld are doing across its garage-inflected nine tracks/33 minutes.

Either pays dividends, frankly. Following up their 2015 In EP (discussed here), Lord Loud have the hooks and groove to catch attention on a quick runthrough. But if one is willing to really listen to the turns in songs like “They are Coming” or the earlier “The Givers,” there’s more to be found there in atmosphere and execution than might elicit a, “hey, cool rock brah,” if you were at the show. Where some cuts offer jangle — opener “Dream Weaver,” “The Givers,” “The Hand” — and others righteous fuzz — “Eyes Have Hands,” “The Wolf,” the penultimate “Moths to Light” — and still others moments of pure psychedelic drift — the rolling “Star Bright Eyes,” the minimal “They are Coming” and the payoff of closer “Swirling” — it’s the ways in which these songs interact with each other and within themselves that really make Lord Loud‘s work stand out. In other words, the balance.

No doubt inspiration is culled from modern garage rock on both the indie and heavy sides of that coin, but there’s a classic sensibility at work as well that comes through particularly in the sans-frills structures of pieces like “Eyes Have Hands,” “The Wolf” and even “Moths to Light” — which, at 4:18, is among the longer inclusions, where the other two are shorter. And while Allison and Feld would in no way be the first modern garage-psych-fuzz band to nod in the direction of 13th Floor Elevators and others of that ilk, to listen to the Dead Meadow roll of “Eyes Have Hands” pick up from “Dream Weaver” at the outset of Passé Paranoia, it becomes even more apparent the two-piece are working in a somewhat broader context.

Tempos shift easily throughout the album, the production is raw enough to bury the vocals and rough-up Feld‘s drum sound, but not so raw that the changes in guitar tone don’t carry across between “Eyes Have Hands,” “The Givers” and “The Wolf” en route to the slowdown of “Star Bright Eyes” that, presumably, serves to close out side A following a considerable build of momentum through the first four tracks. It and “Swirling” at the end of side B are the only songs to top five minutes on Passé Paranoia, so that mirroring would make sense, at least, and as the centerpiece of the tracklisting, “Star Bright Eyes” is meant to feature either way; a position earned through a combination of fluidity, breadth and impact. When Lord Loud want to, they’re able to spread their sound wide — as they do by layering lead lines over deep-toned low-end fuzz late in “Star Bright Eyes” — but they’re also keen at times to rein that in quickly and pursue something leaner, which the 2:22 “The Hand” would seem to signify as it revitalizes the push of Passé Paranoia at the start of the album’s second half.

lord loud moths to light

But even with “The Hand,” when one hears it in relation to “Star Bright Eyes” prior, the context changes. It has its own late solo, ended cold, and while taken on its own that might not mean much, in light of Passé Paranoia as a whole, it’s an example of Lord Loud putting elements to use in a variety of ways. The same idea used to make a different song. Especially with this as their debut full-length, that’s an important aspect of what they’re doing, because it demonstrates that while they might come across as loose and swinging and all blown-out swagger and proto-punk whatnot, there’s conceptual effort put into both the songwriting and the actual construction of the record, which takes another turn with the minimalist early going of “They are Coming,” Feld not even kicking in on drums until two of the track’s three minutes have passed.

I wouldn’t go as far as to call it progressive, and neither do I think it’s trying to be (yet), but it shows Lord Loud are at least thinking about what they’re doing. They follow “They are Coming” with “Moths to Light,” one of Passé Paranoia‘s strongest hooks and most blasted-out riffs; a blend that serves well to represent a decent swath of the record’s style, including the psych vibes in its wah-soaked finishing solo. This gives way to the relative stomp of “Swirling,” which delivers the title line en route to the aforementioned final push and boasts a melodic depth in its vocals and dream-toned fuzz guitar that is among the most welcome elements yet from Lord Loud.

Could it be the band showing off late that they’re willing to toy with pop as they move into Beatlesian piano and la-la-la bounce along with their fuzz and true-to-the-title swirl? Possible. Given the consciousness on display elsewhere, I’d believe it, but either way, their work in defiant expansion of the two-piece form is just one more manner in which Passé Paranoia conveys the sense of freedom it feels not to be bound by either how many instruments one person can hold at a time — though with samplers and laptops, Feld and Allison aren’t doing anything here that couldn’t be recreated on stage — nor by genre convention. That makes Passé Paranoia feel even bolder as a debut, and though its ultimate presentation is the band making what they do sound and look easy, like something they just belted out in an afternoon (granted they did build their own studio and record themselves), the results yield a much richer and more resonant first impression.

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