The Ivory Elephant Release Stoneface July 26; New Songs Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’m not gonna say I’m only posting this press release as an excuse to host the songs at the bottom of the post — because I’m a pro-information guy all the way, and I’ve found that sometimes, even years later, this things are awfully handy to have around when looking back through lineups and recording circumstances, etc. — but the Melbourne band The Ivory Elephant have three tracks streaming right now from Stoneface, which is their second album amid a handful of shorter releases on their Bandcamp page unless I missed something looking through. The songs are rad and as I’m listening to it right now I can tell you the rest of the thing follows suit, so yeah, peruse through the PR wire stuff, like you do, but definitely take some time and listen to the music as well — if you’ve got headphones handy, get on that — because it’s not the kind of thing you’ll regret doing. Pro-shop psych rock. Always welcome by me.

Dig:

the ivory elephant stoneface

The Ivory Elephant – Stoneface

“On this album we really wanted to get deep in to Psych. The blues is still in there, but it’s hidden behind a lot of fuzz and reverb. We also wanted to approach this release as a full album that is best listened to in one hit, rather than just a bunch of songs stuck together. There’s some lengthy jams on there and some pretty heavy stuff, but there’s also tracks on there like Jazzhead pt I and Stoneface which are pretty different to what people would expect from us.

The track we had the most fun recording was probably Stoneface Jamboree. We tracked it on our last day of recording until about 2am on a whim. It started off with just acoustic guitars, then we layered more guitars, sitars, percussion, vocals, a blisteringly loud 70s farfisa organ, and left some whacky tape effects in there for the hell of it too. It’s a long way from anything we’ve done before, and we’ll probably never be able to play it live!

As for lyrical content on the new album, there’s our usual psychedelic shit and vaguely political tracks, but there’s also a few songs about bitter heartbreak, which I haven’t written songs about before. When I listen to music, I often interpret songs my own way, so when I write lyrics I like to leave things pretty vague, so people can relate to it in their own way.

This new album is the first time we’ve really been able to stretch out in the studio. We had five days tracking (which is a lot for us), so there was a lot more time to really refine shit and put more layers in there. There’s A LOT of guitar parts in there and our bassist Arty jumped on the keys for a few tracks, so that’s added a new layer too.

We recorded the album at Soundpark Studio’s in Melbourne, which is where we recorded our last album Number 1 Pop Hit. The place just has a really good vibe. It’s big and has some of the best gear around, and some Aussie legends have recorded there, but it’s also got a run down sort of share-house vibe and you can drink and smoke in there, so it’s pretty chill. We had Andrew Hehir (aka “Idge”) on mixing duties, and he just seems to get exactly what we’re after. Basically we’d always just say “more verb, more dirt and more whack shit!” – Trent Sterling

Stoneface will be released on limited edition heavyweight vinyl July 26th on Kozmik Artifactz.

Available as Limited Edition Vinyl & CD

Release Date: 26th July 2019

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high performance vinyl at Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Storm
2. Maybe I’m Evil
3. Wars
4. Roll On
5. Jazzhead pt I
6. Low Expectation
7. Stoneface Jamboree
8. Stoneface
9. Hard Case
10. Jazzhead pt II

The Ivory Elephant are:
Trent Sterling – Guitar/Vox
Arthur Witherby- Bass
Don Sargood – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/theivoryelephant/
https://www.instagram.com/theivoryelephantband/
https://theivoryelephant.bandcamp.com/
https://www.theivoryelephant.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

The Ivory Elephant, Stoneface (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Earth, Heilung, Thronehammer, Smear, Deadbird, Grass, Prana Crafter, Vago Sagrado, Gin Lady, Oven

Posted in Reviews on July 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Deep breath. And… here we go.

Welcome to The Obelisk’s Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. You probably know the drill by now, but just in case, here’s what’s up: starting today and through next Monday, I’ll be reviewing 10 records per day for a total of 60. I’ve done this every three months (or so) for the better part of the last five years, each one with at least 50 releases included. Some are big bands, some are new bands, some are releases are new, some older. It’s a mix of styles and notoriety, and that’s exactly the intent. It’s a ton of stuff, but that’s also the intent, and the corresponding hope is that somewhere in all of it there’s something for everyone.

I’ll check in each day at the top with what usually turns out to be a “hot damn I’m exhausted, but this is worth it”-kind of update, but otherwise, if we’re all on board, let’s just get to it. First batch below, more to come.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Earth, Full Upon Her Burning Lips

earth

Finding post-Southern Lord refuge with Sargent House in similar fashion to Boris, Earth seem to act in direct response to 2014’s Primitive and Deadly (review here) with the 10-track/62-minute Full Upon Her Burning Lips, stripping their approach down to its two essential components: Dylan Carlson‘s guitar and Adrienne Davies‘ drums. The former adds bass as well, and the latter some off-kit percussion, but that’s about as far as they go in the extended meditation on their core modus — even the straightforward photo on the cover tells the story — psychedelic and brooding and still-spacious as the music is. Gone are folk strings or vocals, and so on, and instead, they foster immersion through not-quite minimalist nod and roll, Carlson‘s guitar soundscaping atop Davies‘ slow, steady pulse. It’s not nearly so novel as the last time out, but timed to the 30th anniversary of the band, it’s a reminder that if you like Earth, this dynamic is ultimately why.

Earth on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

Heilung, Futha

heilung futha

It might seem like an incongruity that something so based in traditionalism conceptually would also turn into experimentalist Viking jazz, but I defy you to hear “Galgadr,” the 10-minute opener of Heilung‘s third full-length, Futha (on Season of Mist), and call it something else. Cuts like the memorable and melodic “Norupo” and the would-be-techno-but-I-think-they’re-actually-just-beating-on-wood “Svanrand,” which, like “Vapnatak” before it, is rife with the sounds of battle, but it’s in the longer pieces, “Othan,” 14-minute closer “Hamrer Hippyer,” and even the eight-plus-minute “Elivgar” and “Elddansurin” that precede it, that Heilung‘s dramas really unfold. Led by the essential presence of vocalist Maria Franz — who could hardly be more suited to the stated theme of calling to feminine power — Heilung careen through folk and narrative and full cultural immersion across 73 minutes, and craft something willfully forward thinking from the history it embellishes.

Heilung on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Thronehammer, Usurper of the Oaken Throne

thronehammer usurper of the oaken throne

The reliable taste of Church Within Records strikes again in picking up Thronehammer‘s first full-length, Usurper of the Oaken Throne. The project is a dark and warmaking epic mega-doom working mostly in longform material — it’s six tracks/78 minutes, so yeah — conjured in collaboration by the trio of vocalist Kat Shevil Gillham (Lucifer’s Chalice, etc.), guitarist/keyboardist Stuart Bootsy West (ex-Obelyskkh, ex-The Walruz) and drummer/bassist Tim Schmidt (Seamount), that hits with a massive impact from 17-minute opener “Behind the Wall of Frost” into “Conquered and Erased” (11:24) and “Warhorn” (19:12), making for an opening salvo that’s a full-length unto itself and a beast of doomed grandeur that balances extremity with clearheaded presentation. They simplify the proceedings a bit for “Svarte Skyer” and the eponymous “Thronehammmer,” but are clearly in their element for the 15-minute closing title-track, which rounds out one of the best doom debuts I’ve heard so far this year with due heft and ceremony.

Thronehammer on Thee Facebooks

Church Within Records on Bandcamp

 

Smear, A Band Called Shmear

Smear A Band Called Shmear

Smear‘s live-recorded A Band Called Shmear EP is basically the equivalent of that dude getting dragged out of the outdoor concert for being at the bottom of the puffing clouds of smoke going, “Come on man, I’m not hurting anybody!” And by that I mean it’s awesome. The Eugene, Oregon, four-piece get down on some psychedelic reefer madness tapped into weirdo anti-genre tendencies that come to fruition in the verses of “Guns of Brixton” after the drifting freaker “Old Town.” The whole thing runs an extra-manageable 21 minutes, and six of that are dedicated to the fuzzed jam “Zombie” — tinged in its early going with a reggae groove — so Smear make it easy to follow their outward path, whether it’s the surf-with-no-water “Weigh” at the outset or “Quicksand,” which hints at more complex melodic tendencies almost in spite of itself. You like vibe, right? These cats have plenty to go around, and they deliver it with an absolute lack of pretense. Whatever they do next, I hope they also record it live, because it clearly works.

Smear on Thee Facebooks

Smear on Bandcamp

 

Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree

deadbird iii the forest within the tree

One hesitates to speculate on the future of a band who’ve just taken 10 years to put out an album, but Deadbird sound vital on their awaited third full-length: III: The Forest Within the Tree (arrived late 2018 through 20 Buck Spin), and with a revamped lineup that includes Rwake vocalist Chris Terry and Rwake/The Obsessed bassist Reid Raley as well as bassist Jeff Morgan, guitarist Jay Minish and founders Phillip (drums) and Chuck (guitar) Schaaf and Alan Short — all of whom contribute vocals — Deadbird emerge from the ether with a stunningly cohesive and varied outing of post-sludge, tinged Southern in its humid tonality but still very much geared toward heft and, certainly more than I recall of their past work, melody. In just 38 minutes they push the listener into this dank world of their creation, and seem to find just as much release in experiments “11:34” and “Ending” as in the crashes of “Brought Low” or “Heyday.” Are they really back? Hell if I know, but these songs are enough to make me hope so.

Deadbird on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Grass, Fresh Grass

grass fresh grass

Brooklyn four-piece Grass released a live recording in 2017, but the late-2018 EP Fresh Grass marks their studio debut, and it comprises five tracks digging into the traditions of heavy rock with edges derived from the likes of Clutch, Orange Goblin, maybe a bit of Kyuss and modern bluesier practitioners as well in cuts like “Black Clouds” — the lone holdover from one release to the next — and the swaggering “Runaway,” which veers into vocal layering in its second half in a way that seems to portend things to come, while the centerpiece “Fire” and closer “Easy Rider” roll out in post=’70s fashion a kind of rawer modern take. Their sound is nascent, but there’s potential in their swing and the hook of opener “My Wall.” Fresh Grass is the band searching for their place within a heavy rock style. I hear nothing on it to make me think they won’t find it, and if they were opening the show, you’d probably want to show up early.

Grass on Thee Facebooks

Grass on Bandcamp

 

Prana Crafter, MindStreamBlessing

Prana Crafter MindStreamBlessing

Reissued on vinyl through Cardinal Fuzz with two bonus tracks, Prana Crafter‘s 2017 offering, MindStreamBlessing, originally saw release through Eidolon Records and finds the Washington-based solo artist Will Sol oozing through acid folk and psychedelic traditions, instrumentally constructing a shimmer that seems ready for the platter edition it’s been granted. Songs like “As the Weather Commands” and “Bardo Nectar” are experiments in their waves of meandering guitar, effects and keys, while “Mycellial Morphohum” adapts cosmic ecology to minimal spaciousness and vague spoken word. Some part of me misses vocals in the earthy “FingersFlowThroughOldSkolRiver,” but that might just also be the part of me that’s hearing Lamp of the Universe or Six Organs of Admittance influences. The interwoven layers of “Prajna Pines,” on the other hand, seem fine without; bluesy as the lead guitar line is, there’s no doubting the song’s expressive delivery, though one could easily say the same of the krautrock loops and keys and reverb-drenched solo of “Luminous Clouds.”

Prana Crafter on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Vago Sagrado, Vol. III

vago sagrado vol iii

Heavy post-rockers Vago Sagrado set a peaceful atmosphere with “K is Kool,” the opening track of their third album, Vol. III, that is hard to resist. They’ll soon enough pump in contrast via the foreboding low end of “La Pieza Oscura,” but the feeling of purposeful drift in the guitar remains resonant, even as the drums and vocals take on a kind of punkish feel. The mix is one that the Chilean three-piece seem to delight in, reveling in tonal adventurousness in the quiet/loud tradeoff of “Fire (In Your Head)” and the New Wave shuffle of “Sundown” before “Centinela” kicks off side B with the kind of groove that Queens of the Stone Age fans have been missing for the last 15 years. Things get far out in “Listen & Obey,” but Vago Sagrado never completely lose their sense of direction, and that only makes the proceedings more engaging as the hypnotic “One More Time with Feeling” leads into the nine-minute closer “Mekong,” wherein the wash teased all along comes to fruition.

Vago Sagrado on Thee Facebooks

Vago Sagrado on Bandcamp

 

Gin Lady, Tall Sun Crooked Moon

gin lady tall sun crooked moon

I’m more than happy to credit Sweden’s Gin Lady for the gorgeous ’70s country rock harmonies that emanate from their fourth album, Tall Sun Crooked Moon (on Kozmik Artifactz), from the mission-statement opener “Everyone is Love” onward, but I think it’s also worth highlighting that the 10-track outing also features the warmest snare drum sound I’ve heard maybe since the self-titled Kadavar LP. The Swedish four-piece have nailed their sound down to that level of detail, and as they touch on twang boogie in “Always Gold” or find bluesy Abbey Roadian deliverance in the more riff-led chorus of “Gentle Bird,” their aesthetic is palpable but does not trump the straight-ahead appeal of their songwriting. The closing duo of “The Rock We All Push” and the piano-soother “Tell it Like it Is” are the only two tracks to push past five minutes long, but by then the mood is well set and if they wanted to keep going, I have a hard time imagining they’d meet with complaints. Serenity abounds.

Gin Lady on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Oven, Couch Lock

oven couch lock

For an EP called Couch Lock — i.e., when you’re too stoned to even stand up — there’s an awful lot of movement on Oven‘s debut release, from the punk thrust of “Get It” to the arrogant sleaze of “Go James” and even the drums in “This Time.” And the nine-minute “Dark Matter” is basically space rock, so yeah, hardly locked to the couch there, but okay. The five-tracker is raw in its production as would seem to suit the Pennsylvania trio, but they still get their point across in terms of attitude, and a closing cover of Nebula‘s “To the Center” seems only to reinforce the notion. One imagines that any basement where they unleash that and the nod that culminates “Dark Matter” just before it would have to be professionally dehumidified afterward to get the dankness out, and an overarching sense of stoner shenanigans only adds to the good times that so much of East Coast-ish psych misses the point on. They’re having fun. You should too.

Oven on Bandcamp

Oven on Thee Facebooks

 

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Gin Lady Release Tall Sun Crooked Moon LP May 24; “Sweet Country Livin'” Video Now Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gin lady

Seems like no matter where Sweden’s Gin Lady go, they’re getting down to their roots. That was the case on 2017’s Electric Earth (review here), on which they gave up some of the twang in favor of a more ’60s rock-oriented sound, and it seems to be the case with Tall Sun Crooked Moon, as the track “Sweet Country Livin'” shows them bringing some of that twang right back in. I don’t know how much the song speaks for the new album as a whole, but it’s their fifth record, so I don’t think they’re novices at deciding which songs to lead with at this point going into a release. Call me crazy.

Either way, the album is out later this month, and I love the cover art — seriously, I’d take a poster of that; or better yet, a tapestry — so it seemed the least I could do to post it. Info and whatnots came down the PR wire:

gin lady tall sun crooked moon

Swedish Rockers Gin Lady Return with ‘Tall Sun Crooked Moon’ 24th May on Kozmik Artifactz

These northern Sweden rockers formed their band in 2011 and have released four studio albums so far: Gin Lady, Mother’s Ruin, Call The Nation and Electric Earth.

The band consists of singer and guitarist Magnus Kaernebro, drummer Fredrik Normark, bassist Anthon Johansson and guitarist Johnny Stenberg. Each member a gifted songwriter in their own right, Gin Lady are a highly productive unit able to craft and deliver a signature sound that oozes of early 70s vibes and soul soothing melody.

With their upcoming album Tall Moon Crooked Sun they take the listeners on a musical journey towards Laurel Canyon. Excellent musicianship, vocal harmonies, freedom and beautifully crafted songs with a message is what you can expect from these bliss merchants’ fifth album.

Tall Moon Crooked Sun will be released on limited edition heavyweight vinyl and CD on the 24th May on Kozmik Artifatcz.

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high
performance vinyl at
Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Everyone Is Love
2. Sweet Country Livin’
3. The Darkest Days Of All Time
4. The Visit
5. Gentle Bird
6. Into The Wasteland
7. Always Gold
8. Undertow
9. The Rock We All Push
10. Tell It Like It Is

Gin Lady are:
Magnus Kaernebro – Guitar/Vocals
Fredrik Normark – Drums
Anthon Johansson – Bass
Johnny Stenberg – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/Gin-Lady-254447104608141/
https://ginlady.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/

Gin Lady, “Sweet Country Livin'” official video

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Geezer to Release Spiral Fires Vinyl April 26; CD out Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

geezer

Hey, you dig Geezer? Hell yeah, me too. Accordingly, it seemed like maybe you’d want to know that their new EP, Spiral Fires (review here), is up for preorder now through Kozmik Artifactz, and that if you’re the type like me who likes those little plastic compact discs in the handy-dandy digipak form, they’ve got those too and you don’t even have to wait until later in the month to get them. I know, right? Pretty badass, but that’s how Geezer do.

Speaking of, they’ve got two shows slated for later this month and both rule. On April 20, they’re doing the hometown-hero thing at The Anchor in Kingston, NY, in the company of River Cult and Eternal Black — nice one — and then a couple days later on April 23, they’re at the Vitus Bar with Ufomammut and Kings Destroy, rounding out an all-excellent three-band bill that’s like an unofficial Desertfest NYC pre-pre-party. Mark your calendar and mark it a win.

The PR wire has the info:

geezer spiral fires

NY’s GEEZER New ‘SPIRAL FIRES’ EP Now Available On CD; Vinyl Out April 26th – Pre-order via KOZMIK ARTIFACTZ!

After recruiting Steve Markota as Geezer’s new drummer in summer of 2017, the band knew it was now the peak time to refocus and start afresh. With gigs as the motivation, over the following year or so the Kingston, NY heavy blues triad set about performing in the U.S.. From Doomed & Stoned Festival to New England Stoner and Doom Festival, from The Maryland Doom Fest to the Descendants of Crom, then throw in a support slot for Acid King, many other righteous shows, and a full year did bloom indeed.

All the while, a revitalized Geezer was writing and road-testing new songs. It became clear that one album was not enough to fully capture what was happening. An EP would be the foundation to set the stage for an upcoming full-length. Drawing inspiration from the most recent Child EP vinyl release, Geezer hooked up with Kozmik Artifactz to release their own EP in the same vein. Limited Edition, one color cover, black vinyl, no bells or whistles… just rock and roll.

The result is the mind-altering new EP, ‘Spiral Fires’. A three-song collection edifying the embodiment of Geezer’s quest for all things heavy, trippy, and groovy. ‘Spiral Fires’ is the first passage in their new journey.

‘Spiral Fires’ – Track List:
01. Spiral Fires Part 1
02 Spiral Fires Part 2
03. Darkworld
04. Charley Reefer

‘Spiral Fires’ was produced by Pat Harrington. Recorded at Darkworld Studio in Kingston, NY, by Matthew Cullen and assistant engineers David Daw and Robert Kelly. Mixing was done by Matthew Cullen at The Cat Haus in Catskill, NY, with mastering by Scott Craggs at Old Colony Mastering in Boston, MA. The ‘Spiral Fires’ cover art is by Lee Fenyves, with design layout by Steve Markota.

On April 26th, ‘Spiral Fires’ will be available on vinyl through Kozmik Artifactz, with pre-ordering available now. Both CD and digital is available on Bandcamp:

Kozmik Artifactz: http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?a=60546

Geezer on Bandcamp: https://geezertown.bandcamp.com/

GEEZER live:
04.20 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ River Cult & Eternal Black
04.23 Saint Vitus Bar Brooklyn NY w/ Ufomammut & Kings Destroy

GEEZER:
Pat Harrington – Guitar/Vocals
Richie Touseull – Bass
Steve Markota – Drums

https://www.instagram.com/geezertown/
https://www.facebook.com/geezerNY/
http://geezertown.bandcamp.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Geezer, Spiral Fires EP (2019)

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Friday Full-Length: Child, Child

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Melbourne-based heavy blues rockers Child released their self-titled debut on Feb. 19, 2014, just over five years ago. It was the right vibe at the right time, though quite frankly, in terms of time, now works pretty damn well too. Comprised at the time of guitarist/vocalist Mathias Northway, drummer Michael Lowe and bassist Jayden Ensor, the three-piece made their purposes plain right in the opening lines of “Trees” that set the record on its way: “Every day/Every day I have the blues.” Even in the repetition of “every day” at the start, Northway conveyed the band’s aesthetic adherence to what he was singing about. They used to call it “blue-eyed soul,” which was a nice way of saying “made by white dudes stealing from black dudes,” but whether it was Cream and Led Zeppelin, Ten Years After, John Mayall, ZZ Top or Stevie Ray Vaughan — or any of the multitudes of others who heard Robert Johnson and subsequently picked up a guitar — Child would hardly be the first to bear that tag. For what it’s worth, they wore it well on the five-track/37-minute LP. Australia’s complicated and ongoing racial history is its own thing, and I’m no expert on it, but whatever else one might say about cultural appropriation, white people in Australia didn’t hold African slaves in America, and that makes a big difference in how one should think about their relationship to African-American culture.

And while they might have the blues every day, Child weren’t shy either about expressing them in a massive wall of fuzz as “Trees” made its way through its second half. The languid opener gave way to “Stone by Stone,” a fluid jammer that underscored the whole-album sensibility of the work overall. Though “Trees” cut to silence at the end and “Stone by Stone” picked up from there, the live feel came through as an essential component of what the band were doing. Coupled with Northway‘s melodic flow in kind with the lead noodling and the bass that seemed to anchor the groove even as the drums built toward one chorus after the next, “Stone by Stone” and the tracklist-centerpiece and side A closer “All Dried Up” that followed, it became clear that the listener was experiencing a live set transposed to tape. It’s a two-sided LP in its construction, no doubt, but even as the guest organ from the mysterious Horce entered into “All Dried Up,” it was easy to imagine Child tucked into some barroom corner, maybe on a stage, maybe not, building up the track — also the shortest on the record at just over five minutes — and turning heads among those seated around them drowning their own woes. The child self titledoverarching naturalism of the recording — its tonal warmth, the relatively barebones presentation of instruments and vocals clear but not overly produced — set just a balance for the trio to make their statement in tying together heavy rock and blues traditionalism while making both sound refreshed for their handling.

I don’t want to say side B was where they really got down to business — since “Trees,” “Stone by Stone” and “All Dried Up” were nothing if not down to business — but in “Mean Square” and “Blue Overtone Storm/Yellow Planetary Sun,” Child hit another level of molten blues, and drew together the dual facets of their personality once more with an organic feel that wasn’t just indebted to the ’70s in a vintage-sense, but seemed to delve deeper, playing toward what inspired the heavy rock movement in the first place. That was, in large part, the blues, but also psychedelia, garage rock and even the pop of the day. “Mean Square” resolved itself in a hypnotic lumber, finding a place between past and present that’s as ready for repeat listens as any heavy blues I’ve ever heard, and at just over 10 minutes, “Blue Overtone Storm/Yellow Planetary Sun” reminded of the understated hooks that were present all along as the reward for those repeat listens, playing out complemented by a gloriously fuzzy lead in the first part of the song with languid drumming keeping the nod rolling beneath as the bass filled out the room with heavy bottom low end. The change happened at about four minutes in, but if you weren’t paying the strictest attention, it was easy to miss and wake up a minute later wondering what the hell happened as Child Sabbath‘ed their way into “Yellow Planetary Sun” like the intro to “War Pigs,” but slower, and the basis for the part itself rather than just an intro to depart from. The tension in the drums as Lowe never misses the beat was astonishing all the same, and one more Northway held down the kind of solo on guitar you could imagine leading the way into a 20-minute jam on stage. You would not hear me complain.

By the time they got around to following-up the self-titled with Blueside (review here), released in 2016 through Kozmik Artifactz with likewise glorious cover art by Nick Keller, Jayden Ensor was out of the band and they’d brought in Danny Smith. The live feel of the debut was brought even more to the center as an essential part of their presentation, up to including studio chatter between/before the songs, and the hooks grew as well with the employ of guest backing vocalists to enhance the soulful delivery. After Blueside, they continued the progression in 2018 with the likewise live-recorded EP I (review here), that brought together the sleek rhythm of “Age Has Left Me Behind” and the 10-minute jam “Going Down Swinging” with the Spirit cover “The Other Song,” which was only fitting for the treatment Child gave it.

They toured Europe last year and in addition to shows around Australia it looks like they’ll be back in Europe this coming summer, as they’ve already been confirmed for Black Deer Fest in Australia to the UK is a long way to go for one show. Not to say that’s impossible, but yes to say I have my eye out for a tour announcement sometime in the coming weeks.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Man, I fucking hate the music industry. The little corner that heavy rock occupies is cool. By and large the bands are decent human beings — no rule is absolute — and the labels and PR, even when you’re not cool enough to do something, at least they kind of let you down easy. Like, man, I can’t do shit with Relapse to save my life. They don’t need me. What, I’m gonna premiere fucking Windhand when they’ve got NPR on their side? Hardly seems likely. But I get it and it’s good for the bands to get that kind of exposure, so I roll with it. What choice do I have other than banging my head into the wall? Okay then.

But I got a reminder this week of how fucking lame and terrible and faux-professional and low-stakes-pretending-to-be-high-stakes the music industry at large is, and straight up, fuck that shit. It was a reminder to me of how burnt out I was 10 years ago when I started this site in the first place. I’m just not cut out for that game. Every now and then, it’s probably good for me to remember that. I’ve always sucked at it. I don’t want to sell you shit. I just want to write.

Probably fortunate, then, that I have so much god damn writing to do. Today was a mess trying to get that All Them Witches review done in time — I finished it right before I put it up, which is rare these days; I usually let things stew at least for a while — and yesterday I was finishing today’s Quarterly Review post and starting that even as I was about to call Dave Chandler from Saint Vitus for an interview that — gawd willing — will be posted here at some point. All this while I’ve still got Weirdo Canyon Dispatch stuff hanging over my head, TWO releases of PostWax liner notes to write, and because absolutely I said yes to this when the email came in in the afternoon, a bio to write for the new Nebula record.

I. Am. So. Fucking. Stupid.

You ever want proof of my sense of self-value: I’m getting paid for none of this. That’s what I think of me. That’s how much I’m worth in real numbers (actually, it’s considerably less when you factor in debt). I got a PayPal for $18 from Dropout Merch last week for t-shirts and got excited.

My brains… are going… into my feet.

But while I sit here and tempt end-of-naptime fate, let me not waste your or my precious time bitching. Next week is also busy as we get into holy-crap-I-gotta-get-this-done-before-Roadburn mode as though anyone other than me lives and dies by that coverage and what “needs” to be finished in terms of “work” for me to leave the country with a clear conscience.

Here’s notes. Expect them to change:

MON 03/25 Quarterly Review Day 6; Pyramidal track premiere.
TUE 03/26 Stone Machine Electric vid premiere/review; Duel vid premiere/review.
WED 03/27 Chalice of Suffering track premiere; Slush track premiere.
THU 03/28 Cities of Mars track premiere.
FRI 03/29 Witchfinder premiere.

That Tuesday will determine the whole week.

It’ll work out. And I’ll get my shit done. This isn’t the busiest I’ve ever been by a longshot. A few hours here and there over the next week and a half and I’m set. And what additional factors made a part of my life say, about 17 months ago, could possibly complicate that in any way?

I’m so exhausted.

Happy Spring!

Have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading. Forum, Radio, and merch at Dropout.

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Quarterly Review: 11PARANOIAS, Robot Lords of Tokyo, The Riven, High Reeper, Brujas del Sol, Dead Witches, Automaton, Llord, Sweet Jonny, Warp

Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day three. Cruisin’. Oh, another 10 reviews to write? Yeah, no problem. I’m on it.

Okay, maybe a little less that and a little more be banging my head against the wall of sound, but the point is we — you and I — move forward anyhow. The Quarterly Review continues today with the third batch, which at the end will bring us to the halfway point, 30 of the total 60 records done, and that always feels like an occasion. Also helps that it’s a pretty good batch of stuff, so let’s not waste time with formalities, right?

Quarterly Review #21-30:

11PARANOIAS, Asterismal

11paranoias asterismal

It’s a freakout, but not the good kind. More like a panic attack happening in slow motion on another dimensional plane. The masters of murk, 11PARANOIAS return through their own Ritual Productions imprint with Asterismal, collecting/conjuring upwards of nine tracks and 73 minutes of material depending on in which format one encounters it. The core of the outing is the six-song/45-minute vinyl edition, and that’s plenty fucked enough, to be honest, as bassist/vocalist Adam Richardson (Ramesses), guitarist Mike Vest (Bong) and drummer Nathan Perrier (ex-Capricorns) unfurl a grim psychedelic fog across songs like opener “Loss Portal” and tap into The Heads-style swirl on “Bloodless Crush” only to turn it malevolent in the process. The 12-minute “Quantitative Immortalities” finds Vest in the forward position as it summarizes the stretch of doom, psych, and bizarre atmosphere that’s utterly 11PARANOIAS‘ own, and that’s before you get into the experimental and sometimes caustic work on the CD/digital-only “Acoustic Mirror” (10:35) and “Acoustic Mirror II” (15:08), which both rise from minimalist bass to become a willful test of endurance only a select few will pass. All the better.

11PARANOIAS on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Rise Robot Rise

Robot Lords of Tokyo Rise Robot Rise

Was there ever any doubt Robot Lords of Tokyo could do it on their own? Not if you ever listened to Robot Lords of Tokyo, there wasn’t. The Columbus, Ohio-based outfit built a reputation in the earlier part of the decade by bringing guests onto their records, but their new EP and first outing in half a decade, Rise Robot Rise, features five songs of just the band itself, with founders Rick Ritzler (drums) and Paul Jones (vocals) joined by bassist Joe Viers and guitarists Steve Theado and Beau VanBibber. Their last outing was the 2013 full-length Virtue and Vice (review here), but they seem in “In the Shadows” and “Looking for the Sun” to come into their own with Jones bringing a John Bush-type edge to the hook of “Looking for the Sun” and echoing out a bit on centerpiece “Hell Camino,” which boasts not the band’s first nod to Clutch. With opener “In the Shadows” setting the tone for an undercurrent of metal, “My Aching Eyes” and “Terminus” pay that off without losing their rock edge and thereby highlight just how much force has always been in the core lineup to start with.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo at CDBaby

 

The Riven, The Riven

The Riven The Riven

Issued by The Sign Records, the self-titled debut from Sweden’s The Riven (also discussed here) hones in on classic heavy rock but never actually quite tips all the way into vintage-ism. It sounds like a minor distinction until you put the record on and hear the acoustic guitar lines deep in the mix of “Far Beyond” or the echoing vocal layers in the second half of the later “Fortune Teller” and realize that The Riven are outright refusing to sacrifice audio fidelity for aesthetic. There’s no shortage of shuffle to be had, rest assured, but The Riven are less concerned with aping traditionalism than updating it, and while they’re not the first to do so, the fact that on their first record they’re already working to put their stamp on the established genre parameters bodes well, as does the bluesy float of “I Remember” and the mellow vibing early in “Finnish Woods.”

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, Higher Reeper

high reeper higher reeper

Philadelphia exports High Reeper offer their second full-length through Heavy Psych Sounds in Higher Reeper, upping the stakes from their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) in more than just title. In the intervening two years, the five-piece have toured extensively, and it shows in the pacing and general craft of the eight songs/38 minutes here, from the perfectly-timed nod at the end of “Buried Alive” to the face-slap proto-trash riff that starts the subsequent “Bring the Dead,” from the mountaintop echoes of “Obsidian Peaks” (note the “Hole in the Sky” riff rearing its head) to the howling roll through “Plague Hag” and into six-minute closer “Barbarian,” as High Reeper hone elements of doom to go with their biker rock sleaze. Stellar guitar is a running theme beginning with opener “Eternal Leviathan,” and Higher Reeper quickly proves that if you thought the debut had potential, you were right.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brujas del Sol, II

brujas del sol ii

if the 6:40 album opener “Teenage Hitchhiker” from Brujas del Sol‘s Kozmik Artifactz-delivered II makes anything plain, it’s that the songs that follow on the seven-track/43-minute outing are going to pay attention to texture. Still about half-instrumental, the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece veer from that modus with “Sisterlace,” the New Wave-y “Fringe of Senility,” the delightfully dream-toned “White Lights,” and the final Floydian section of closer “Spiritus,” adding vocals for the first time and leaving one wondering what took them so long. Nonetheless, the winding lines and later subtly furious drums of “Sea Rage” and the scorching leads of the penultimate “Polara” bring the proggy mindset of the band that much more forward, and if II is transitional, well, it was going to be anyway, because a band like this never stops growing or challenging themselves. They certainly do here, and the results are an accomplishment more than worth continuing to build upon.

Brujas del Sol on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Dead Witches, The Final Exorcism

dead witches the final exorcism

The centerpiece of Dead Witches‘ sophomore album, The Final Exorcism, is a play on ’60s psych-garage-folk that asks “When Do the Dead See the Sun?,” and the rest of the LP that surrounds provides the answer: The sun isn’t showing up anytime soon, for the dead or otherwise. After issuing their first full-length, Ouija (discussed here), in 2017, the multinational horror-cinema doomers brought aboard vocalist Soozi Chameleone alongside drummer Mark Greening (Ramesses, ex-Electric Wizard), bassist Carl Geary and guitarist Oliver Irongiant, and one might be tempted to think of The Final Exorcism as a kind of second debut were it not for the fact that it’s so cohesive in its approach. With Greening‘s swinging march at the foundation, cuts like the title-track and “The Church by the Sea” stomp out thick-toned and grainy organic creep, plundering through the cacophonous “Lay Demon” en route to the abyssal plod of “Fear the Priest” at the end, fearsome in purpose and realization and hopefully not at all “final.” Like any good horror franchise, there’s always room for another sequel.

Dead Witches on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Automaton, TALOS

automaton talos

It was hard to know where Automaton were headed after they remixed their debut EP, Echoes of Mount Ida (review here), and released it in LP format with two additional tracks. The original version was raw and weighted, the remix spacious and psychedelic. With TALOS, their first proper long-player (on Sound Effect Records), they answer the question with seven songs/48 minutes of expansive and richly atmospheric post-metal, seeming to take from all sides and shift their focus between crushing with dense tones on 11-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Trapped in Darkness,” as well as the frantically drummed “Automaton Marching,” “The Punisher” or the end stage of “Talos Awakens” and honing more of a varied and atmospheric approach throughout the sample-laced “Giant of Steel,” the drifting “Submerged Again” and the minimalist acoustic-led closer “Epilogue,” all the while donning both an overarching concept and a new level of production value to bolster their presentation. It is a significant step forward on multiple fronts.

Automaton website

Sound Effect Records website

 

Llord, Cumbria

llord cumbria

Raging and experimental, the rumble-laden Barcelona duo Llord make their full-length debut on Féretro Records with Cumbria, which culls together five punishing-but-still-atmospheric tracks of plod and drive as bassist Aris and drummer David share vocal duties and bludgeoning responsibilities alike. Ill-intentioned from the get-go with the two-minute “Adtrita Sententia,” Cumbria unfurls its 29-minute run like a descent into low-end madness, varying speed and the amount of samples involved and bringing in some guest gralla on “Brega” and closer “Kendal/Crewe,” but finding itself in a consistent tonal mire all the same, shouts reverberating upward from it as through trying to claw their way up during the collapse of earth beneath their feet. It is brutal — an extreme vision of atmospheric sludge that makes the concept of a guitar riffing overtop seem like an indulgence that would only dull the impact of the proceedings as they are, which is formidable.

Llord on Bandcamp

Féretro Records on Bandcamp

 

Sweet Jonny, Sweet Jonny

sweet jonny sweet jonny

I can’t claim to be an expert on the ways of Britpunk classic or modern, but UK swagger-purveyors Sweet Jonny weave a heaping dose of snearing attitude into their self-titled, self-release debut album’s 12 tracks, and it comes set up next to a garage rock fuckall that isn’t necessarily contradicted by the actual tightness of the songwriting, given the context in which they’re working. “American Psycho,” well, that’s about American Psycho. “Sick in the Summer?” Well, guess that could be taken multiple ways, but somebody’s sick in any case. You see where this is going, but Sweet Jonny bring character and addled-punk charm to their storytelling lyrics and barebones arrangements of fucked-up guitar, bass and drums. I don’t know what the punkers are into these days, but the vibe here is rude in the classic sense and they bring a good time feel to “Superpunch” and “It Matters Not” — which stretches past the four-minute mark(!) — so what the hell? I’m up for something different.

Sweet Jonny on Thee Facebooks

Sweet Jonny website

 

Warp, Warp

warp warp

If the approval stamp of Nasoni Records isn’t enough to get you on board — and it should be, frankly — the Sabbathian lowercase-‘g’ ghost rock Warp proffer on their self-titled debut is bound to turn heads among the converted. The Tel Aviv-based outfit tear through eight tracks in a crisp, bitingly fuzzed 28 minutes, taking on classic boogie and doom alike before they’re even through opener “Wretched.” They get bonus points for calling their noise interlude “‘Confusion Will Be My Epitaph’ Will Be My Epitaph,’ as well as for the shuffle of “Gone Man” that precedes it and the stomp of “Intoxication” that comes after, the latter a rhythmic complement to the central progression of second cut “Into My Life,” which only departs that snare-snare-snare to soar for a dual-layered solo. Hard not to dig the space-punk edge of “Hey Little Rich Boy II” and the throttled-back stoner nod of closer “Enter the Void,” which is done in under five minutes and still finds room for the album’s best stop-and-crash. Fucking a.

Warp on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records webstore

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Gone Cosmic, Sideways in Time

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gone cosmic sideways in time

[Click play above to stream ‘Deadlock’ from Gone Cosmic’s debut album, Sideways in Time. It’s out April 12 on Kozmik Artifactz.]

Between their moniker and the title Sideways in Time for their debut album, one would almost expect Gone Cosmic to be some noise-soaked psychedelic jam band, plugged-in, tuned-in, turned-on and drifting into oblivion. Well, there’s some noise in “Deadlock,” and “Misfit Wasted” on sides A and B, respectively, but even those longer tracks follow a structural pattern, and on the whole, the Calgary-based four-piece are far more songwriting-based than it might appear on the surface. That’s hardly a detriment to the Kozmik Artifactz-delivered LP, which comprises eight songs and 46 minutes that certainly have psychedelic elements at play, but are perhaps even more likely to make an impression with their more straightforward aspects. Most immediate among those is the vocal performance of Abbie Thurgood (The Torchettes), who from opener “Dazed” onward surges to the front of the mix alongside the alternatingly fuzzed and scorched guitar of Devin “Darty” Purdy (Chron Goblin), the gotta-hear-it bass tone of Brett Whittingham (also Chron Goblin) and the punctuating drum work of Marcello Castronuovo, whose snare distinctly reminds of the first Kadavar record.

Even in the moments when Thurgood steps back from the fore, as in the early going of “Deadlock” or in the mostly-subdued closer “My Design,” her presence remains significant, and she comes through clearly and proffering soulful melodies in the modern-classic fashion. That doesn’t necessarily relegate the rest of the band to a supporting role — guitar rules the day by the end of “Faded Release” and the subsequent “Turbulent” that leads off side B is almost entirely an instrumental in an Atomic Bitchwaxy modus, wrapped around a winding riff that also gives the rhythm section a due showcase. The songs, then, are varied enough to carry through the progression of the whole album, but still well drawn together around the performances and the production of Josh Rob Gwilliam at OCL Studios about a half-hour outside of town, in a more pastoral setting befitting the record’s naturalist vibe.

That production immediately helps the band make an impression as “Dazed” starts off the record at a bounce, smoothly hitting into its first verse and chorus on a sharp-edged mover of a riff with dat-bass-tho nestled in underneath and a flourish of keyboard — I think — melody just beneath that counters the riff and feels like a sonic easter egg waiting to be noticed. The solo section kicks in after a sudden stop at the midpoint and then does so again, seeming to add layers as it moves through, all the while effectively grounded by the bass and drums as Thurgood makes her way back in before they finish and start the process all over on “Deadlock,” which is the first of three tracks over six minutes long. The others — “Misfit Wasted” and “My Design” — are both on side B, but the clear intent of putting “Deadlock” second is to show how far out Gone Cosmic are ready to go. And they go pretty far.

gone cosmic

Purdy‘s guitar howls in kind with the vocals, and there’s a definite atmosphere being constructed, but Whittingham and Castronuovo effectively hold the proceedings to ground and lock in a real-world groove that’s consistent even in the break in the song’s second half before it explodes back to life and finishes, like the opener, with a guitar solo. “Siren” follows at about two minutes shorter and lands with a mellower vibe thanks to a well-percussed but ultimately subdued flow in its verse that of course sets up a more full-on surge during the chorus but ultimately moves from its final solo into last, softly delivered verse ahead of “Faded Release” at the end of side A, which begins in likewise eased-in fashion only to burst to life as it rounds out, the full brunt of its impact hitting in before the two-minute mark and emphasizing the dynamic at work on the part of the band, the guitar holding sway over much of its second half as would seem to be Gone Cosmic‘s modus. They make it hard to argue.

Jet engine guitar introduces the shuffling “Turbulent,” which, again, is the closest Gone Cosmic get to instrumentalism, taking some cues from Earthless along the way as the guitar stretches out for its solo near the midsection. Thurgood adds a few quick lines amid the effects breadth, but the boogie soon resumes its fuzzy shove and, somewhat unsurprisingly, a solo closes out and leads the way into the atmospheric launch of “Misfit Wasted,” which is a highlight and the longest inclusion at 7:10, a point at which the nominal ‘going cosmic’ seems to be taking place. The vocals croon over languid guitar and gradually lead the build toward a more solidified riff, which takes hold at 3:30 and drives the softshoe-ready push thereafter, more righteous bass and drum work underscoring the procession as a lead transitions into feedback and amp noise to close. The penultimate “Bear the Weight” sees fuzzier low end come forward with airy guitar and layered vocals as Gone Cosmic use the second half of the LP to its traditional purpose in branching out their sound.

In that way, it’s a fitting setup to “My Design” at the end, which stays quiet for most of its 6:28 but still offers a suitable payoff, as the band subtly shift their structural approach while keeping the craft at the center of their focus. They end, of course, with a guitar solo that cuts to silence, and in so doing offer a reminder that as cohesive as Sideways in Time is — and it is — it’s the beginning point of their exploration, not the conclusion. When and where they might end up in terms of sound is hard to say, as they could easily end up playing one side or the other between the psychedelic and more straightforward classic songcraft in their work, both, or neither as they move forward. Most important of all, they’ve given themselves the ground on which to build as they do progress, and they’ve given clear signals of their intention to do precisely that, offering clearheaded and memorable material all the while.

Gone Cosmic on Thee Facebooks

Gone Cosmic on Instagram

Gone Cosmic on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

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Hair of the Dog Post Studio Diary Videos from Recording New Album Vol. IV

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hair of the dog

Edinburgh three-piece Hair of the Dog are currently in the process of making their fourth album and second for Kozmik Artifactz, tentatively titled Vol. IV, and they’ve been posting videos assembled from footage captured in the studio. Funny faces, snacks, dudes laughing, playing songs with headphones on — all that stuff. They have two episodes out so far, and beneath all that goofery, what you’re seeing in them is a group creative process at work, the dudes in the band and the crew at Chamber Studios coming together to work as a team toward common ends. In the second episode, as drummer Jon Holt listens back to something he just recorded, there’s a quick moment where he hears something in his playing that no one else thinks is a big deal. The inevitable question: Does he want to re-record it? I don’t know whether they’d punch him in or if the whole trio — Adam Holt on guitar/vocals and Iain Thomson on bass — would have to lay down the song again, or if he’d work with scratch tracks or what, but this experience is completely universal.

If you’ve ever been in the studio with a band, this has happened. I don’t care if you were there recording, or if you were engineering the session, or if you were delivering a god damn pizza. If you were there for more than five minutes, you’ve seen this. There’s always one thing that somebody hears. Maybe no one else even hears it, but to them, it’s glaring. And I’m not going to invalidate that position either, by the way. I’ve been there too. Been that guy. But it’s inevitable that it happens. And usually it’s a not a big deal. What, the band plays the song again? Or even just the one person who heard the one thing plays that one part? Easy. But when a band is recording, these decisions feel huge. Maybe we should leave it because it’s a good mistake? Maybe we don’t want it to sound perfect. Maybe it was meant to be. All this stuff gets in your head while you’re recording and it’s really easy to lose perspective when you’re in the control room listening back to what’s about to become the definitive version of a song.

That kind of pressure is part of making a record, and that’s part of why you see Hair of the Dog laughing it off the rest of the time, because that levity helps alleviate some of the pressure they’re putting on themselves. So when they mug for the camera or make jokes about their shoes or whatever it is, understand there’s a current of purpose behind all that. It can be fun, and ideally it is, but it’s work too, and clearly what they’re doing matters to them enough to get the details just how they want them to be.

There are very likely more of these coming, but you can see the first two below. Hair of the Dog‘s last album, This World Turns (review here), was released in 2017.

Please enjoy:

Hair of the Dog, Making Vol.IV – Studio Diary – Day 1

Hair of the Dog, Making Vol.IV – Studio Diary – Day 2

Hair of the Dog return to Chamber Studios, Edinburgh, to record their fourth studio album on Kozmik Artifactz. The have just finished recording with Graeme Young of Chamber Studios, and have made the decision to mix and produce the album themselves, within lead guitarist/vocalist, Adam Holt’s, home studio.

Speaking of the album Adam said:

“We’re taking this one in a new and exciting direction. The HOTD sound is still very much a part of the mix, but we’re exploring heavier sounds and influences. We always try to hint within each album, where the next album might go in terms of sound, and we think This World Turns paved the way for us to introduce some of our metal roots. The world is so fucked up right now and this has definitely resonated with us, we’ll be addressing much of our opinions of life in 2019 on this new record.”

Whilst we are currently in hiding as we mix our new record, we are happy to announce that we will be headlining Red Crust Festival in Edinburgh on the 4th May alongside some killer bands from across the UK – including 1968 and our dear sisters Juniper Grave.

Attendees will be treated to some exclusive performances of our new material.

The currently un-named record, will be out later this year via German purveyors of killer sounds, Kozmik Artifactz.

Hair of the Dog on Bandcamp

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Hair of the Dog on Instagram

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

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