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

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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

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Geezer, Spiral Fires EP: Light in Darkworld

Posted in Reviews on February 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

geezer spiral fires

If Geezer sound different on Spiral Fires, part of that is because they are. The Kingston, New York, trio have charted a marked progression over the last five-plus years, shifting from slide-guitar-prone heavy blues rock to a jammier take with a foundation in songcraft, unafraid to swagger into an ether of whiskey vapor and heavy enough to land on solid ground when they so choose. Guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington is the last remaining original member of the band, and on Spiral Fires, he and bassist Richie Touseull — who joined in 2015 ahead of the release of their 2016 self-titled LP (review here) — welcome new drummer Steve Markota to the fold. It’s worth noting that despite the turnover in personnel, Geezer have been able to remain steadily prolific over their time, and the four-song/25-minute Spiral Fires EP follows 2017’s Psychoriffadelia (review here), which only furthered the momentum built by the self-titled after 2015’s Gage (review here), bolstered as well by the band’s participation in Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy split series (review here), 2014’s Live! Full-Tilt Boogie tape (review here) and sundry odds and ends going back to their 2013 debut, Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues.

Along with tours in the US and Europe, the continued stylistic growth evident in Geezer‘s studio work has made them a stronger, more confident band, as well as furthered the chemistry between Harrington and Touseull, who interact fluidly on the included jams throughout Spiral Fires. It may well be they’re testing the waters with Markota in the group ahead of either shows or more writing — something’s always next — but if that’s the case, then simply put, the dynamic works. Spiral Fires is Geezer‘s most out-there release to-date, and though it’s relatively brief — Geezer have always enjoyed an EP-style release; Gage was an EP originally — it flows smoothly throughout “Spiral Fires Part 1,” “Spiral Fires Part 2,” “Darkworld” and “Charley Reefer.” The latter two, which will no doubt comprise side B of the forthcoming Kozmik Artifactz vinyl, both geared more toward hooks, and particularly the closer has a bounce that stands among Geezer‘s sonic signatures, Harrington‘s tone always molasses-thick, but able to move nonetheless. They’re not strangers to boogie, and if that’s what a given listener is looking for, that’s where they’ll find it.

But even that is cosmically directed, and it demonstrates how much Geezer‘s reach has grown that they’re able to conjure such a molten vibe even over what’s ostensibly intended as a one-off recording session. The two parts of “Spiral Fires” of course run one into the next, but that transition is marked by a turn from dense riffing and more forward verses from Harrington to a mellow breadth topped with guest vocals. From roll to spread. It’s important to note that “Spiral Fires Part 1” begins with a wave of synth, since that has a subtle effect on the listener’s expectation that would be different, say, if the guitar or drums had led off. They tease a spacey course there and then make their way in that direction over the course of the nodding opener, cutting short the central riff at the end but still maintaining a direct tie to “Spiral Fires Part 2,” with Markota‘s drums setting the bed for some effects interplay as the track gets going.

geezer

Each side of Spiral Fires has a shorter song and a longer one, in that order, and “Spiral Fires Part 2” doesn’t quite hit the seven-minute mark as does “Charley Reefer” still to come, but it’s an open spirit just the same and while Touseull lays down a smooth bassline, Harrington winds lead guitar overtop where verses might otherwise be. They don’t feel missing, those verses, in no small part because Geezer are so assured in what they’re doing that they simply carry the listener along with them on this outward course. The vocals arrive after five and a half minutes into the total 6:57, so obviously not a focal point, but the quick appearance from Pam Grande (Grande) adds a psych-soul element that, if it’s a context Geezer want to continue to explore in their songwriting, well, that’d be just fine. Though it also begins with a quick splurge of effects, “Darkworld” is a marked shift in atmosphere, with the riff emerging from that initial wash and set to workmanlike punctuation by Markota‘s snare and the steady rumble of Touseull‘s low end. Its lyrics would seem to take on more of a straightforward social commentary position, and that’s fair enough for the more grounded path of the song as a whole.

“Open your eyes/Empty the cages/A new fire rages,” intones Harrington near the midpoint of the track, and the message of “Darkworld” is pretty clear without being overtly politicized or too much of the chaotic and polarized moment in which America is embroiled. All the while, the song moves forward efficiently as the only track under five minutes on Spiral Fires, the section where it might otherwise jam out — and indeed might live — instead keeping to a shorter repetitive course that devolves into swirl at the finish, letting “Charley Reefer” emerge from silence with a transitional keyboard line at the start soon joined by a guitar line reminiscent in its warmth of Colour Haze, and gradually easing its way into the verse riff. There’s some shuffle to “Charley Reefer,” as noted, and it shares a commonality of method with “Darkworld” in its verses and choruses, but at 7:38, it brings the two sides of Spiral Fires together and jams out from about minute-four onward, first building to a fervent wash and then drawing back to quiet and relatively minimal stretching.

All the pieces are still there — guitar, bass, drums, effects/synth — but the tension dissipates and Geezer draw down “Charley Reefer” with a live-feeling psychedelic devolution that ends cold sure enough but along the way serves as no less a reminder of the command the three-piece wield over their sound at this point. Even Markota in making his first appearance is able to bring a softer touch on drums to correspond with that finish, and it’s no less a satisfying moment than Geezer at their heaviest earlier in the track or back on side A for “Spiral Fires Part 1.” The question with an EP is always how indicative it might be of future output, and I don’t know to say for sure, but Spiral Fires fits in the line of their overarching development, and when it’s done, there’s little question left as to whether or not it’s the farthest outward they’ve yet pushed. As a fan of the band, I only want them to keep going.

Geezer, Spiral Fires (2019)

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Geezer on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

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Gone Cosmic to Release Sideways in Time April 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gone cosmic

There’s no audio to go with this post. I even looked for some crappy YouTube clip of Calgary’s Gone Cosmic, who played their first show last May and are set to deliver their full-length debut, Sideways in Time, April 9 through Kozmik Artifactz. Nothing there either. So I guess you’re gonna have to take my word for it this time. I’ve heard the record. I probably wouldn’t post about it otherwise, though the cover art is plenty nifty, a Kozmik Artifactz release comes with a fair amount of trust behind it and the band has members of Chron Goblin involved, so okay, yeah, maybe I would post about it anyway.

But I don’t need to. I’ve heard the record. It’s right on, and once some audio does get out from ahead of the Springtime release, as audio invariably does in this track-premiere-minded universe, I have little doubt you’ll agree. But it’s early, so we’re not there yet. The galaxy wasn’t built in a day. You gotta be patient with this stuff sometimes.

In the interim, here’s that cover and a likewise nifty band bio, plus links where you can keep an eye out:

gone cosmic sideways in time

Gone Cosmic – Sideways in Time – April 9

Sideways In Time, the debut album from Gone Cosmic, was recorded in September 2018 at OCL Studios. Produced, recorded and mixed by Josh Rob Gwilliam, Sideways In Time is a diverse and ambitious first release navigating the celestial highs and primordial lows of gravity-defying anthems. Hypnotic psych-rock pulses meet electromagnetic solar-powered soul on feature tracks such as pummeller ‘Deadlock’, galactic trip ‘Misfit Wasted’, and interstellar odyssey ‘Faded Release’.

Championed by a soaring songstress Abbie Thurgood (The Torchettes), whose boldly evocative tones recall Skunk Anansie chanteuse Skin and Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, and accompanied by an agile and aggressive psych-rock outfit, composed of guitarist Devin “Darty” Purdy (Chron Goblin), bass player Brett Whittingham (Chron Goblin), percussionist Marcello Castronuovo (Witchstone), Gone Cosmic has carved out an expansive domain that stretches from sweltering Southern sludge pits to breath-stealing sonic spacewalks.

A blood (orange)-scented breeze that bows the trees, Gone Cosmic chases the infinite haze from the skies and puts it right back in your eyes. Groove-mining breakdowns become the stuff of legend as the four pieces’ floor-thudding tail kick and hellfire halo holler originates a whole that is far more potent than the sum of its individual elements. Meet your new astromancers, the phase-shifting and hard-rocking force that channels the empyreal sounds of heaven on Earth.

Tracklisting:
1. Dazed
2. Deadlock
3. Siren
4. Faded Release
5. Turbulent
6. Misfit Wasted
7. Bear The Weight
8. My Design

Gone Cosmic is:
Abbie Thurgood
Devin Purdy
Brett Whittingham
Marcello Castronuovo

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

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Review & Track Premiere: Green Lung, Woodland Rites

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

green lung woodland rites

[Click play above to stream ‘Let the Devil In’ from Green Lung’s Woodland Rites. Album is out March 20 on Kozmik Artifactz.]

London’s Green Lung announced themselves with the 2017 single, Green Man Rising (review here), and have worked quickly since to distinguish their sound from the bulk of the UK’s nigh-on-saturated heavy underground. Through last year’s Free the Witch EP (review here) and now their Kozmik Artifactz-issued debut full-length, Woodland Rites, the five-piece unit have worked efficiently to develop a stylistic take drawing from classic rock and metal as well as nature-worshiping Britfolk, garage doom, goth rock, solo-era Ozzy, as well as contemporary countrymen standouts like Alunah, Elephant Tree and even Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, the latter of whose influence can be heard in the creative vocal arrangements of frontman Tom Templar.

With a steady stream of organ lines from John Wright alongside Scott Masson‘s guitar, Andrew Cave‘s bass and Matt Wiseman‘s drumming, Green Lung offer righteousness of performance and put songwriting first throughout and draw thematically from pagan-style horror films in the lyrical play between sex, nature and evil, but manage to avoid a trap of misogyny that most of those films didn’t, and as the opening salvo of “Woodland Rites” and “Let the Devil In” gets underway in picking up from the intro “Initiation” — the beginning quiet guitar of which proves crucial in setting the atmosphere for what follows — the point of view of the lyrics remains more about ritual than discrimination. The choruses of songs like “The Ritual Tree” and “Call of the Coven” and even closer “Into the Wild” are catchy, and not unfortunately so for what they’re actually saying. Even the willfully sleazy nunsploitation hook of “Let the Devin In” — “Sister, you’ve been told that making love’s a sin/Open up your heart and let the devil in” — manages to capture the spirit of the grainy cinema from which it derives and periodically samples audio while leaving behind a dated objectification. This is but one element working to the advantage of an early contender to stand among 2019’s best debut albums.

And at no point throughout Woodland Rites‘ witch-rocking eight-song/42-minute run is craft sacrificed to theme one way or the other. Masson offers several solos that are marked accomplishments in and of themselves, including that in the apex of the penultimate “May Queen,” which is well plotted and complemented by Cave‘s bass and Wright‘s work on keys, but even beyond those performances or that of Templar across the earlier cuts or closer “Into the Wild,” there’s an overarching thoughtfulness to the LP’s construction that speaks to a specific intent on the part of the band. Its tracks break cleanly into two four-song sides, but more than that, each side has a progression of its own and a function that makes the entire album stronger while clean and clear in its own mission.

green lung (Photo by Sally Patti)

Each works its way toward its longest song in “The Ritual Tree” (6:49) and “Into the Wild” (6:51), respectively, and while this is nothing new, tapping into classic elements of sound and structure is part of the point stylistically. In addition, the movement from “Initiation,” which comes across an awful lot like something that might be played to introduce the band live, directly into the “Oh lord yeah!” that starts the title-track and through “Let the Devil In” to the end of side A with “The Ritual Tree” is not only fluid, but based around a quality of memorability in the material that conveys a sense of mood and ambience without giving up its direct impact. Wiseman‘s crash in “The Ritual Tree” is no less a standout than the melody that accompanies, and as the organ fills out that melody, Templar sounds smooth and comfortable over the rolling progression in a way that for many vocalists would prove awkward.

Going by a classic side A/B dynamic, the first half of Woodland Rites would be the place where the up front is upfront, and the second where they then branch out and expand their overall reach. The whole record is a multifaceted showcase of progression, but indeed, Green Lung follow the pattern and shift in side B from “Templar Dawn” and the Sabbath-swinging “Call of the Coven” to the mellowing out that happens in the first stretch of “May Queen,” which flows easily into its swell of volume before it hits its midsection, only to recede in the second half for another verse and rise again as it rounds out. This is a marked change of structure from what’s come before, and it signals not only the intended growth on the part of the band and their bringing that to bear, but their ability to work in multiple songwriting contexts and still maintain their sense of composition. Further, “May Queen” feeds directly into the initial riff of “Into the Wild,” which is tasked with summarizing the proceedings and lives up to that ably while pushing further and highlighting the promise so present in what Green Lung are doing. Another excellent guitar lead begins to draw the closer down, and “Into the Wild” ends somewhat suddenly but with a considerable impression that the band know that and are doing it on purpose.

The message there, and indeed of the album as a whole, would seem to be that Green Lung aren’t actually finished — which is fortunate. As quickly as they’ve cohered their take on heavy and found a recording partner in Wayne Adams of Bear Bites Horse Studios — who also helmed the EP — to bring their vision forward, I wouldn’t predict where they might go in terms of following-up their debut, but Woodland Rites is a significant opening statement for them to make, and if they have it in them to do the gritty work of honing their approach, could be well en route to a marked individualism that, in complement to their songwriting, is the stuff of something truly special. But as much as it’s an exciting showcase of what could be, and as much fun as it is to think of what Green Lung might go on to accomplish, it’s worth recognizing that wouldn’t be the case were Woodland Rites not as strong and as complete an offering as it is.

Green Lung on Thee Facebooks

Green Lung on Instagram

Green Lung website

Green Lung on Bandcamp

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Green Lung Announce March 20 Release for Woodland Rites

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

green lung (Photo by Sally Patti)

I love speculating about upcoming albums, and after a couple encouraging short releases from London’s Green Lung — 2018’s Free the Witch EP (review here), and the 2017 single, Green Man Rising (review here) — their debut holds marked promise as one of the most anticipated of the year, at least as far as I’m concerned. The five-piece outfit who blend aspects of doom, goth, heavy rock and a bit of the ol’ forest-worship, will issue Woodland Rites as their first offering through Kozmik Artifactz on March 20, have tour dates forthcoming and are set to play HRH Doom Vs. Stoner as part of a oh-hell-yes lineup this September. Killer to see an up and coming band doing good things. I can’t wait to hear the record.

Details from the PR wire:

green lung woodland rites

GREEN LUNG announce debut album, Woodland Rites

South London-based heavy rock quintet GREEN LUNG have today announced details of their debut album. Woodland Rites will be released on heavyweight vinyl, CD, cassette and digital editions on March 20, the Spring Equinox. The band captured the attention of the international underground in 2018 with the release of their much acclaimed EP Free the Witch, and spent the year sharing stages with the likes of Conan, Conjurer and Primitive Man before signing to cult Berlin-based label Kozmik Artifactz.

With the addition of new member John Wright on organ, the band have also expanded their horizons musically, voyaging beyond the doomy psych of the EP to explore a spectrum of heavy music. On Let the Devil In they conjure up a blasphemous, arena-baiting hard rock single, while on Templar Dawn they veer into the cavernous (free)masonry of traditional doom metal. The psyched-out, prog-inflected The Ritual Tree attempts to answer the mystery of ‘Who put Bella in the Wych Elm?’, while May Queen is an ergot-tinged ballad of failing harvests and human sacrifice. The overall, irresistible impression is of a young band summoning up the eccentric English spectres of 70s proto-metal, early 80s NWOBHM and 90s stoner rock and dragging those sounds kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.

Singer Tom Templar said, ‘With the response to Free the Witch, the introduction of a new member and the chance to write a full LP we’ve been spurred on to take our sound to the next level – so expect a pro-witch party album of diabolical riffs, harmonized solos, inescapable hooks and lyrics inspired by folk horror films like The Wicker Man and Blood on Satan’s Claw. We hope Woodland Rites will become the soundtrack to many a debauched backwoods sabbath in 2019.’

Woodland Rites was recorded and mixed by Wayne Adams (Vodun, Ghold) who reprised his Free The Witch duties at Bear Bites Horse Studios. Mastering was undertaken by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege. Woodland Rites will be packaged in hallucinatory artwork by renowned woodcut artist, Richard Wells (The Wicker Man, Doctor Who) on vinyl and CD, with the cassette cover featuring photography by Courtney Brooke.

GREEN LUNG will be touring the UK and EU with labelmates Deathbell in May, with confirmed shows in Paris, London, Liege and Cologne; more information will be available in due course. The band will also appear at HRH Doom vs Stoner alongside Monolord, Orange Goblin and Church of the Cosmic Skull on September 29.

Woodland Rites tracklist
1. Initiation
2. Woodland Rites
3. Let The Devil In
4. The Ritual Tree
5. Templar Dawn
6. Call of The Coven
7. May Queen
8. Into The Wild

GREEN LUNG is:
Tom Templar – Vocals
Scott Masson – Guitar
Andrew Cave – Bass
Matt Wiseman – Drums
John Wright – Organ

Woodland Rites by GREEN LUNG will be released on March 20, 2019. Pre-order information will follow.

https://www.facebook.com/greenlungband
https://www.instagram.com/greenlungband/
http://www.greenlung.co.uk/
https://greenlung.bandcamp.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Green Lung, Free the Witch (2018)

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