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

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

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

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

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Khemmis, Desolation

khemmis desolation

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

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin website

 

Morag Tong, Last Knell of Om

morag tong last knell of om

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

Morag Tong on Thee Facebooks

Morag Tong on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul

holy mushroom blood and soul

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

Holy Mushroom on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website

 

Naisian, Rejoinder

naisian rejoinder

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

Naisian on Thee Facebooks

Naisian on Bandcamp

 

Haunted, Dayburner

haunted dayburner

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

Haunted on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records website

DHU Records webstore

Graven Earth Records webstore

 

Pabst, Chlorine

pabst chlorine

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

Pabst on Thee Facebooks

Crazysane Records webstore

 

L.M.I., IV

lmi iv

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

L.M.I. on Thee Facebooks

L.M.I. on Bandcamp

 

Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere

fuzz forward out of nowhere

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

Fuzz Forward on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Forward on Bandcamp

 

Onségen Ensemble, Duel

Onsegen ensemble duel

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

Onségen Ensemble on Thee Facebooks

Onsegen Ensemble on Bandcamp

 

The Heavy Eyes, Live in Memphis

the heavy eyes live in memphis

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

The Heavy Eyes on Thee Facebooks

The Heavy Eyes at Kozmik Artifactz

 

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Forming the Void Announce Rift LP Due Aug. 17; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

forming the void

Originally announced for a June release, the third album from Louisiana’s Forming the Void, Rift, is set to be issued via Kozmik Artifactz on Aug. 17. The prog-minded four-piece have posted the video audio to come from the album in the form of a new video for the track “On We Sail.” Second of the seven total inclusions on the LP, it reaffirms the progressive heft the band has shown on their two full-lengths to-date, 2017’s Relic (review here) and 2016’s Skyward (review here), while hinting at new heights of clarity that one looks forward to hearing pan out on the rest of the record. Thus far into their prolific tenure, Forming the Void have always managed to keep on the right side of songcraft vs. exploration, making their material memorable as well as stylistically bold.

Album art, details, and the aforementioned video came down the PR wire. I’ll hope to have more to come as we get closer to the release, but till then, here’s what’s up:

forming the void rift

FORMING THE VOID to Release New Album on Kozmik Artifactz

Following the release of last year’s critically acclaimed Relic, Louisiana’s preeminent prog warlocks, Forming The Void, are thrilled to announce news of their new album Rift, which is due for release this August on Kozmik Artifactz.

Originally formed in 2013 in Lafayette – a place with an impressive reputation for raising underground rock into realms of the unknown – Forming The Void became one of the city’s most talked about bands of 2017. With the release of their third album Relic (voted album of the year on Heavy Planet), their colossal and atmospheric sound summoned the towering hard rock riffs and progressive influence of bands like Mastodon, Baroness and Torche.

Newly signed to German label Kozmik Artifactz, in preparation for the official release of their fourth studio album Rift this summer, the band will take to the road throughout 2018 for an extensive run of live dates and festival appearances.

The first single lifted from their new album is ‘On We Sail’, an epic and devastating trip into the heart of a Sabbathian darkness, which premiered last week. Courting robed figures in hallowed forests, with the odd case or two of Miller Lite, as guitarist/vocslist James Marshall explains:

“Lyrically it’s about being on a ship and being sucked into a portal that blasts out into space, and in that moment, accepting the path into the unknown and that it might be the end of the road for you. It’s meant be a victorious thing, although it sounds really negative. We were brainstorming video ideas and wanted to go with something beyond a regular performance video and do something light-hearted. We also enlisted some help from our buddy Jai Benoit of Golgothan to play the monster and assist with the vision. This is just another night with Forming the Void and friends. It was fun to spoof the first video and we shot at the same location with some of the same people plus more of our friends. All that together just made it a comedy.”

Rift, the new studio album from Forming The Void will be released on 17th August 2018 on Kozmik Artifactz, www.kozmik-artifactz.com

TRACK LISTING:
1. Extinction Event
2. On We Sail
3. Arcane Mystic
4. Transient
5. Arrival
6. Ark Debris
7. Shrine

Forming The Void:
James Marshall – Guitar/Vocals
Shadi Omar Al-Khansa – Guitar
Luke Baker – Bass
Thomas Colley – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/formingthevoid/
https://twitter.com/forming_thevoid
https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz/
https://twitter.com/kozmikartifactz
https://www.instagram.com/kozmikartifactz/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
http://www.facebook.com/endhipenditrecordco
http://www.instagram.com/endhipendit_record

Forming the Void, “On We Sail” official video

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Shadow Witch Post “Disciples of the Crow” Video; Vinyl out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

shadow witch

Shadow Witch are one of those bands who are just about totally out there on their own wavelength, and as a result either get lumped into places they don’t belong — called metal, for example, which they’re not — or underrated entirely for the work they’re doing. Sure, metal is a part of what they do, but so is heavy rock, so is goth rock, so is doom, so is punk, grunge, and so on. The band’s second album, Disciples of the Crow (review here), was released at the end of last year by Salt of the Earth Records, and is available now on vinyl either directly through the band or via Kozmik Artifactz in Europe. The timing couldn’t be better, since the platter just so happens to coincide with a new video for the title-track and the band’s appearance this coming weekend at Maryland Doom Fest 2018. Amazing how these things work out sometimes.

And like much of the record that shares its name, “Disciples of the Crow” isn’t overblown tonally or in terms of aggression. It finds a place for itself in between varying stylistic elements, sharing aspects here and there with elements of the styles noted above, but creating one whole sound from them rather than simply jumping from one part to the next, one genre to the next. What that means when it comes to the album is a more cohesive listening experience, since the material ties together in terms of vibe and actual production alike, and keeps a steady foundation of songwriting beneath from the melodic opener “Love Could Be Like This” to the hook in the finale of “Dead Heroes.” As far as representing the record, the title-track does it well — duh — and showcases the aesthetic nuance at play in what Shadow Witch do as well as the lack of pretense with which they do it. For all their melding, Shadow Witch could still rightly be called straightforward.

They have more dates following Maryland Doom Fest, and you’ll find those, as well as the link to pick up Disciples of the Crow on LP, after the video below, all of which comes courtesy of the social medias.

Please enjoy:

Shadow Witch, “Disciples of the Crow” official video

Limited Edition 180gram Cloudy Orange Vinyl. Now available through Kozmik Artifactz in Europe, and stateside at the Shadow Witch bandcamp site: https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/album/disciples-of-the-crow

Shadow Witch live:
JUN 22 The Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Frederick MD
JUN 22 Bar XIII Wilmington DE w/ Beelzefuzz, Witch Hazel, Season of Mourning
JUN 24 Pourhouse of Norfolk • La Fin Du Monde Norfolk, VA w/ Doomstress, Witchkiss, VRSA, That Which Sleeps
JUL 7 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Wasted Theory, Sun Voyager
AUG 3 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Brimstone Coven, Cat Skulls
SEP 7 13th Floor Music Lounge Florence MA w/ Toke, Curse the Son, Geezer

SHADOW WITCH is
David Pannullo ~ bass
Doug “dougy beans” Thompson ~ drums
Earl Walker Lundy ~ vocals, mellotron, samples
Jeremy H. Hall ~ guitars

Shadow Witch on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Witch on Instagram

Shadow Witch on Bandcamp

Shadow Witch at Salt of the Earth Records

Salt of the Earth Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Age of Truth Release Threshold LP June 29; Preorders up Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the age of truth photo useless rebel

Okay, so the news here is that Philly noise rockers The Age of Truth are getting ready to issue their debut album, Threshold (review here) on vinyl through Kozmik Artifactz at the end of this month. Preorders are up now. Bitchin’. Congrats to the band; nice pick for the label. Everyone wins.

Take a look though at the PR wire info below, and specifically I’d like to draw your eye to The Age of Truth‘s upcoming live dates. Yeah. Pretty sick. They’re doing the Chicago Doomed and Stoned fest, and Maryland Doom Fest 2018, and club shows besides with the likes of Heavy TempleBackwoods PaybackWasted Theory and Witchkiss. Some good-ass shows in there, and especially if you can’t make it to either of the noted festivals, might be one you want to keep in mind. The merch table’s always a good place to pick up a record anyhow.

Info follows in abundance:

the age of truth threshold

THE AGE OF TRUTH debut full-length ‘Threshold’ set for first press vinyl to be released with Kozmik Artifactz on June 29th

The Age Of Truth is four brothers-in-arms from Philadelphia, united in the singular pursuit of creating genuine heaviness for an honestly broken world. Our lives are bathed in twisted deception and they unravel it with a scouring purity. With a fully stocked riff arsenal wrapped in tones of Satanic honey, The Age Of Truth blends fuzz and diesel into heavy psych blues and stoner rock. The perfect soundtrack for a barroom brawl ignited from a single lie.

Their debut album Threshold was released November 1, 2017, and dominated for multiple months within the DoomCharts, as well as ranking #8 of the ‘Top 20 Albums of 2017’ at MoreFuzz.net. The Philly quartet has steadily built a reputation among the heavy underground music world with their superb debut, and will confirm their standing with upcoming appearances at the first Chicago Doomed & Stoned Fest, as well as the fourth edition of The Maryland Doom Fest.

Now for the first time, Kozmik Artifactz will bring this phenomenal slab of stoner rock to wax, with an exclusive vinyl release this June 29th. Plated and pressed on high performance vinyl at Pallas/Germany; with a limited and colored vinyl, 300gsm gatefold cover, and special vinyl mastering. A reissued CD format will also be available.

Pre-orders will begin June 1st at Kozmik-Artifactz.com

The Age Of Truth on Kozmik Artifactz: http://kozmik-artifactz.com/artist/the-age-of-truth/

HE AGE OF TRUTH is:

Kevin McNamara: Vocals
Mike DiDonato: Guitar
Scott Frassetto: Drums
William Miller: Bass

In addition to the upcoming vinyl press, Threshold is available now on CD, digital download, and full-stream via The Age Of Truth Bandcamp page, as well as Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, and regular internet radio rotation on Pandora.

The debut album was self-produced by The Age Of Truth and published by Hammerhead Music. Recording, engineering, and mixing was done by Joseph Boldizar at Retro City Studios in Philadelphia, PA; mastering by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering in Chicago, IL; album design and artwork by Michele Fitzgerald; and art direction by Damien Rizzello and The CHAOS Custom.

Threshold – Track List:
Host (Demon In Me)
Come Back A God
Supernatural Salesman
Holding Hands Like Thieves
Caroline
Oceanbones
Hígado de Hierro (interlude)
Threshold
Honeypot (Bonus Track)

Upcoming Live Dates:
Jun 1 – Chicago IL @ Reggie’s – Chicago Doomed & Stoned Festival
Jun 6 – Wilmington DE @ Oddity Bar
Jun 21 – Philadelphia PA @ Kung Fu Necktie (w/The Stone Eye, Transit Method, Rollin’ Loaded)
Jun 23 – Frederick MD @ Cafe 611 – THE MARYLAND DOOM FEST
Jul 6 – Wilmington DE @ Oddity (w/Kingsnake, Wasted Theory, Blood Law)
Jul 20 – Swarthmore PA @ War3house (w/The Electric Mud)
Jul 21 – Philadelphia PA @ Mestosis Room (w/Kingsnake, Temet Nosce, Mesmeria, Strange Aeons)
Jul 23 – Monclair NJ @ Meatlocker (w/Backwoods Payback, Witchkiss)
Aug 3 – West Chester PA @ Sprout Music Collective (w/Heavy Temple, Backwoods Payback)

http://www.theageoftruth.net
https://theageoftruth.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/theageoftruth
https://www.instagram.com/theageoftruth/
http://www.twitter.com/theageoftruth
http://www.reverbnation.com/theageoftruth

The Age of Truth, Threshold (2017/2018)

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Grusom to Release Grusom II Aug. 31

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

grusom
Danish heavy rockers Grusom have announced an Aug. 31 release for their aptly-titled sophomore outing, Grusom II, which like its 2015 predecessor (discussed here), will be issued via Kozmik Artifactz. The six-piece once again worked with producer Jacob Bredahl (HatesphereAllhelluja, etc.), and they’re streaming the new single “Peace of Mind” in advance of the album. As you can hear at the bottom of this post, it’s an organ-laced classic rocker, and that very much sets the vibe for the rest of the record in that it doesn’t necessarily seem like Grusom are shooting for vintage production, presentation, etc., and yet it’s abundantly clear where their heart lies when it comes to influences in heavy rock.

The PR wire sent album details, which you’ll find below:

grusom ii

GRUSOM ready with sophomore album!

GRUSOM have attracted a tremendous awareness, which exceeds far beyond the Danish border. With a combination of heavy metal, stoner and acid rock, based on the gloomy parts of psych and heavy rock, these boys, naturally and honestly, meet their audience with an open heart.

Through their dark lyrics, GRUSOM create a universe of sound, where life and death is explored through gloomy tales. The dueling guitars, smoothness of the organ and the accomplished musical execution, will create the setting for your mind to wander.

GRUSOM gained huge interest, over a short period of time, with their self-released, award winning, debut album ‘Grusom’ and several riveting concerts at festivals such as Copenhell, Metal Magic Festival and Tinderbox, etc.

Their highly acclaimed and award winning debut ‘Grusom’ paved the way, and now it echoes once again the small island of Funen, Denmark. GRUSOM have once again collaborated with Jacob Bredahl (LIVLØS, Disrule, The Silent Low) at Dead Rat Studio, on the forthcoming album entitled ‘Grusom II’.

The sophomore album will be released through Kozmik Artifacts on August 31st 2018.

Tracklisting:
1. Beyond This Land 4:15
2. Peace of Mind 5:33
3. Skeletons 7:57
4. Vågn Op 5:28
5. Embers 6:29
6. Dead End Valley 5:53
7. Cursed From Birth 5:42

Grusom is:
Nicolaj Hoffmann Jul – vocal
Jakob Kaae – drums
Dennis Warburg – guitar
Thomas Ulrik – guitar
Søren Olesen – bass
Peter Pørtner – Keys

https://www.facebook.com/grusomband/
https://grusom.bandcamp.com/

Grusom, “Peace of Mind”

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Church of the Cosmic Skull, Science Fiction: By the River, by the Road

Posted in Reviews on May 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

church of the cosmic skull science fiction

‘Come, Worship!’ says the sign outside the Church of the Cosmic Skull. Or at least it would if they were a building and not a band. Still, the invitation is there, and the Nottingham, UK, seven-piece — who made their debut in 2016 with the excellent and continually striking Is Satan Real? (review here), could hardly make the prospect sound more exciting than they do on their second LP for Kozmik Artifactz (tape out on Septaphonic Records), the nine-track/41-minute Science Fiction. From the hat-tip to Queen in the opening title-track and the hymnal vibe in second cut “Go by the River” to the unbridled gospel bliss of “Revolution Comes with an Act of Love” and the later bluesy stretch of “The Cards that You’re Playing,” Church of the Cosmic Skull evoke a fitting sense of worship through their harmonies, classically progressive tones, synths, etc., and when it comes down to what exactly is being worshiped, as close as I can tell, it’s joy. Pure joy worship.

Each song approaches it from a slightly different angle, from the slow serenity of centerpiece “The Others” through the quick but subtle enough to make it a highlight linear build of closer “The Devil Again,” but much as the distinct sonic elements of brazen vocal harmonies, electric cello and keys and synth run along with the standard guitar, bass and drums, so too does joy seem to be the underlying theme of Science Fiction, and its expression throughout is nothing short of revelry. Led by guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and producer “Brother” Bill Fisher, Church of the Cosmic Skull features the congregational lineup of vocalists Sister Caroline Cawley and Sister Joanne Joyce bassist/vocalist Brother Samuel Lloyd, cellist/vocalist Sister Amy Nicholson, keyboardist/vocalist Brother Michael Wetherburn and drummer Brother Laurence Stone, and while like any drug, joy can be dangerous in leading to a loss of control, the band keeps a firm control on the meter and direction of their output across the entire record.

They do so via songwriting, and under the direction of Fisher — whom one hesitates to call auteur when he’s surrounded by the contributions of so many others, but seems to be running the show in any case — they proffer memorable verses and choruses and while the organ-soaked “Paper Aeroplane and Silver Moon” ranges past the six-minute mark, it’s impossible to ignore how tight in performance and structure songs like “Go by the River” and “Timehole (Gonna Build a Rocket)” are. Church of the Cosmic Skull embraced a pop influence on their debut as well, but like the rest of their approach, that too has taken a step forward here, and with driving moments like the cultish galloping riff of the aforementioned longest track, there’s a diversity in sound enough not only to make Science Fiction flow from front to back, but to give each song an opportunity to stand out on its own as well. In that way, it’s all the more fair to think of it as a classic-style long-player in how it’s put together, since its ordering was clearly thought out to maximize both the whole listening experience and the impact of each piece. To be blunt, it worked, and Church of the Cosmic Skull sound all the more accomplished for it. Their arrangements are more complex and their harmonies all the more gorgeous, but there’s still the root of a verse/chorus approach beneath that does not lessen their accessibility factor at all.

church-of-the-cosmic-skull

Like I said at the outset, there’s an invitation being made here, and if the band presents a kind of manifesto anywhere on Science Fiction, I’d say the best summary of their perspective overall arrives in “Revolution Comes with an Act of Love,” which departs from the devilish cultism of the debut — it’s not by any means fully gone; see “The Devil Again” at the album’s finish — but this time through it’s more about the wholeness of spirit itself rather than how it comes about. At least that’s how it reads on listening. There are moments of unashamed fun — again, “Timehole (Gonna Build a Rocket Tonight)” — and more melancholy exercises like “The Cards that You’re Playing” and “The Devil Again,” and “Cold Sweat” is a highlight for taking a Thin Lizzy-style swaggering rhythm and pushing it into a choral realm, but apart from the gleefulness of the atmosphere throughout, what’s striking about Science Fiction is the increasing breadth of the band’s craft and the fact that they can make their songs do all these different things while still retaining a consistent and distinct sound.

With the conceit of religiosity as a factor, Church of the Cosmic Skull nonetheless allow themselves to push beyond novelty. They wear white on stage. They call themselves “Brother” and “Sister.” They’re just as likely to reference ’70s rock as timeless spirituals. Yet with the quality of their output, these things become less like a gimmick and more part of the overarching aesthetic statement. In a frenzied multimedia world, Church of the Cosmic Skull offer an experience about more than just the music, however central that still remains. And in that frenzied world, as with any church, they offer a chance to step outside of oneself and glimpse something grander, even if it’s a purely human realization, rather than one based on dogma or other arbitrary facets.

Ultimately, Science Fiction, while its name evokes images of space rock and visions of futures bright or dark, finds its tie to the genre more through the creation of its own world even than that rocket that it’s gonna build tonight. It finds Church of the Cosmic Skull thoughtful in their composition and delivery, patient in their expression but still exciting to hear, and boldly manifesting the joy they seem to be worshiping throughout. They have been and remain a special band, and with the forward drive they show here, it feels like their growth will only continue as their good word spreads. Rejoice — as in, be made joyful again and celebrate. The invite is right there waiting to be answered, and the congregation is ready to receive any wayward comers ready to bask in the new sunlight.

Church of the Cosmic Skull website

Church of the Cosmic Skull on Thee Facebooks

Church of the Cosmic Skull on Soundcloud

Church of the Cosmic Skull on Bandcamp

Church of the Cosmic Skull on YouTube

Church of the Cosmic Skull on Instagram

Church of the Cosmic Skull on Twitter

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

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Green Lung Sign to Kozmik Artifactz

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

About a month and a half after releasing their debut EP, Free the Witch (review here), and still within a year of their initial single, Green Man Rising (review here), London four-piece Green Lung have signed on to release their first long-player through respected vinyl-minded purveyor Kozmik Artifactz. The condensed timeline one might attribute to the particular sonic niche the band seemed to immediately find and then quickly demonstrate a capacity to progress with. One does not expect the momentum to slow for the UK outfit, which boasts ex-members of Oak and Tomb King in the lineup of vocalist Tom Templar, guitarist Scott Masson, bassist Andrew Cave and drummer Matt Wiseman, as they make their way toward the album, which at the rate they’re going should be pressed and shipped any minute now.

Cheers to the band and to the label on the snag. Here’s the announcement off the PR wire:

green lung

Kozmik Artifactz Announce New Signing – Green Lung

Green Lung combine crushing heaviness with soaring hooks, summoning up the proto-metal spectres of Black Sabbath and Pentagram, the psychedelic heft of heavy prog and the anthemic gloom of Danzig and Type O Negative; all the while dragging those influences into the 21st Century and sculpting them into a sound that is entirely their own.

“The last twelve months have been a blur for us; forming last March, putting out a demo, playing up and down the country, and finally getting an incredible reception for our EP Free the Witch. Signing with Kozmik Artifactz is the perfect way to cap off our first year as a band – we’re excited to collaborate with a label that cares about vinyl as deeply as we do, and join a family of bands we love. We can’t wait to get to work on making our debut LP better than anything we’ve done before, and welcome more initiates to the cult of the Lung. Doom over the world!”

Hailing from South London and made up of vocalist Tom Templar, guitarist Scott Masson, bassist Andrew Cave and drummer Matt Wiseman, the band released their debut EP, Free the Witch, in February 2018.

Green Lung is:
Tom Templar – Vocals
Scott Masson – Guitar
Andrew Cave – Bass
Matt Wiseman – Drums

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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Quarterly Review: The Atlas Moth, Across Tundras, The Wizards of Delight, Against the Grain, Our Solar System, Dommengang, Boss Keloid, Holy Smoke, Sabel, Blackwater Prophet

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is a crucial moment in any Quarterly Review. Today we hit the halfway point one way or the other. I still haven’t decided if this will be a 50- or 60-album edition; kind of playing it by ear, but either way, today’s a landmark in my mind in terms of how far to go vs. how far we’ve come. Uphill vs. downhill to some extent, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m either half-assing it from here on out or that I don’t enjoy the challenge of reviewing 10 records in a day, one after the next, for (at least) five days in a row. I’ve always been a glutton for a bit of self-flagellation. Ha.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Atlas Moth, Coma Noir

the atlas moth coma noir

If one still wants to consider Chicago’s The Atlas Moth post-metal after hearing Coma Noir, at least do them the courtesy of emphasizing the “metal” part of that equation. For their debut on Prosthetic Records and fourth full-length overall, the five-piece worked with producer Sanford Parker to solidify a progressive metal sound that, whether in the harsh and weighted impact of the opening title-track or the later interplay between guitarists Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush on screams and cleaner vocals in “Furious Gold,” seems to take cues from groups like a less manic Strapping Young Lad and a less watered-down Mastodon more than Isis or Neurosis. With prominent synth from Andrew Ragin (also guitar), and the solid roll from the rhythm section of bassist Alex Klein and drummer Mike Miczek, the band brings revitalized edge to “The Streets of Bombay,” and even on the slower, more atmospheric closer “Chloroform,” they’ve never sounded more lethal. It suits them.

The Atlas Moth on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Across Tundras, Tumbleweeds III

across tundras tumbleweeds iii

A collection of odds and ends from Across Tundras, the 10-track/52-minute Tumbleweeds III may or may not sate anyone hoping for a follow-up to 2013’s Electric Relics (review here), but it provides some curio fodder along the way to be sure, from raw opener “Final Breath over Venom Falls” to the acoustic-percussion jam “Bullet in the Butt” to the fuller roll of “Cold Ride” and later demos for “Spinning Through the Cosmic Dust,” “Hijo del Desierto,” “Stone Crazy Horse” and “The Stacked Plain,” which later became “Seasick Serenade” on Electric Relics, it’s at very least something for fans to dig into and a fascinating listen, as Across Tundras’ rambling sound is almost eerily suited to a home-recording vibe, as the “Stone Crazy Horse” demo, featuring vocalist Shannon Allie-Murphy along with frontman Tanner Olson, sounds all the more folksome as a result of its lack of production polish. Closing with Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” then, could hardly be more appropriate. Still waiting for a proper long-player to surface, but happy at this point to take what comes.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

Like a chicanery-laced dusty vinyl with a naked lady on the cover, The Wizards of Delight emerge from the London underground to solidly declare “We’ve got the rock ‘n’ rollz.” And yes, they spell it with a ‘z.’ The presence of frontman Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen will be familiar to anyone who ever even briefly encountered Groan – dude makes an impression, to be sure – and the four tracks he and the surrounding five-piece of guitarists/backing vocalists Dan Green’s Myth and Lenny Ray, bassist/backing vocalist Eponymous, organist/backing vocalist Henry and drummer Reece bring is both funky and classically heavy, “Gypsy” referencing Dio Sabbath in the first line while “Mountain Woman” brings a heavy ‘70s shuffle to answer the way-un-P.C. “Shogun Messiah,” which seems to be working under the thesis that because it sounds like it’s from 40 years ago, they can get away with it. I’ll give them that the track is, to an unfortunate degree, catchy. As to the rest, give me the groove of “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” any day. It’s been a while since anyone so brazenly interpreted Mk. II Deep Purple and actually pulled it off.

The Wizards of Delight on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Against the Grain, Cheated Death

against the grain cheated death

Hard-touring Detroit heavy rockers Against the Grain are known for speed, and rightly so. When they burst into high gear, as on “Sacrifice,” “No Sleep,” “Last Chance,” “Rolling Stone,” “Enough’s Not Enough,” and “Jaded and Faded” from their latest offering and Ripple Music debut, Cheated Death. The follow-up to 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) sees them no less infectious in their live energy, but it’s hard to ignore the more versatile approach that seems to be growing in their sound, from the classic rocking “Smoke” to the near-centerpiece “Devils and Angels” which ballads-out its boozy regrets before entering into an effective mid-paced build that rounds out in choice dual-soloing. Likewise, though they open at a good clip with the title-track, closer “Into the Light” finds a middle ground between thrust and groove. The truth is Against the Grain have never been just about speed, but they’ve never so directly benefited from a dynamic approach as they do on Cheated Death either.

Against the Grain on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Our Solar System, Origins

our solar system origins

Immediate kudos to Stockholm-based psychedelic progressive explorers Our Solar System – aka Vårt Solsystem – for opening their third full-length for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the five-track/41-minute Origins, with the side-consuming 21-minute “Vulkanen.” One could hardly ask for more effective immersion in the band’s world of patiently unfurled, languid psychedelia, and with the accompaniment of “Babalon Rising,” the jazz-prog tracklist centerpiece “En Bit Av Det Tredje Klotet,” the birdsong-laced “Naturligt Samspel” and the semi-freaked-out melodic wash of “Monte Verita” on side B, a full, rich, and mind-expanding cosmos is engaged, free of restriction even as it remains thoroughly lysergic, and adherent to no structural will so much as the will to adventure into the unknown, to find out where one progression leads. As regards the long- and short-form material on Origins, it leads far, far out, and if you don’t come out the other side wanting to own everything the band has ever released, you’re decidedly in the wrong.

Our Solar System on Thee Facebooks

Beyond Beyond is Beyond website

 

Dommengang, Love Jail

dommengang love jail

Once calling Brooklyn Home, Los Angeles trio Dommengang waste no time in getting down to the business of boogie on their second album for Thrill Jockey, Love Jail. Produced by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), the 10-track/50-minute long-player has all the room for organ/guitar mashups, righteous West Coast vibes and easy-flowing classic heavy rock one could hope for, and in the opening salvo of “Pastel City,” “Lovely Place” and “Lone Pine,” the three-piece of guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem reaffirm mellow bluesiness as well on the title-track and dig into ‘90s-style alt bliss on the penultimate “Color out of Space.” There’s a welcoming air throughout that holds steady regardless of tempo, and in heavier moments like the second half of “I’m out Mine,” the band resonates with fuzz and noisy elements that bring just enough danger to the proceedings to keep the listener riveted. Classy, but not too classy, in other words.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch

boss keloid melted on the inch

It would seem that Wigan, UK, outfit Boss Keloid — newly signed to Holy Roar Records for the release of their third LP, Melted on the Inch – internalized a few crucial lessons from their sophomore outing, 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (review here). At six tracks and 40 minutes, Melted on the Inch is about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor. Its title isn’t a weed pun. Its cover art conveys a work of dimensionality, and most importantly, the album itself turns to be precisely that. Taking a significant step toward a more progressive sound, Boss Keloid maintain the heft of their prior outing but base it around material that, frankly, is more complex and dynamic. I won’t say that “Tarku Shavel” and “Lokannok” are without their elements of self-indulgence, but neither should they be for the five-piece to do justice to the multifaceted nature of their purpose. They still roar when they want to, but Boss Keloid strike with breadth on Melted on the Inch as well as sheer impact.

Boss Keloid on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records website

 

Holy Smoke, Pipe Dream

holy smoke pipe dream

After forming in 2015, Philadelphia’s exclamatory Holy Smoke! issued their first three-track release, It’s a Demo! (review here) the next year and showed marked stylistic promise in cuts like “Rinse and Repeat” and “Blue Dreams.” Both of those tracks, as it happens, stand at the opening of the band’s latest EP, the five-song Pipe Dream, and reaffirm the potential in the group. The opener (also the longest track once again; immediate points) is a tale of workaday redundancy, the very sort of monotony that the rest of the offering seems to leave behind in favor of post-grunge heavy rock, marked by the wah-bass on finale “Asch Backwards” and the brooding sensibility of the prior “Golden Retriever,” which surges in its midsection like a lost Alice in Chains demo only to end quiet once again, a departure from the linearity of centerpiece “Missing the Mark” just before. Less psychedelic than their initial impression conveyed, they seem to have undertaken the work of crafting their own sonic niche in Philly’s increasingly crowded scene, and there’s nothing on Pipe Dream to make one think it’s not a realistic possibility they’ll get there.

Holy Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Holy Smoke on Bandcamp

 

Sabel, Re-Generation

sabel re-generation

Sabel know what they want to be and then are that thing. Their third album, Re-Generation, arrives via Oak Island Records as six tracks of to-the-converted stonerism, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “In the Walls of Eryx,” the Swedish trio do little more than ask their listeners to smell the smoke emanating from their speaker cabinets (oddly sweet), and hone walls of fuzz that each seem to be bigger than the last. There are some elements of earliest Electric Wizard at play in “Atlantean” or the sneering “Voodoo Woman,” but belters like “Interstellar Minddweller” and “Green Priestess” stave off their sounding overly derivative, and though at the end of Re-Generation’s 42-minute run, one might feel as though they need a shower, the record itself proves well worth the dive into the muck. The band would seem to have carved their own descriptor with the title of their self-released 2015 LP, Hard Doom, and that’s as good as anything I could come up with, so let’s roll with it. They seem to.

Sabel on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Blackwater Prophet, As I Watch it Freeze

blackwater prophet as i watch it freeze

Cheers to Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment for putting me onto Spokane, Washington’s Blackwater Prophet, who with the seven-track As I Watch it Freeze collect various tracks recorded between 2015 and 2017. Thus something of a compilation, the 40-minute outing wants nothing for overarching flow, “In My Passing Time” leading off with a mellow psych-blues spirit that only grows more classic-feeling through “House of Stone” and the gorgeously pastoral “The Swamp.” The band have two proper full-lengths out, and if they wanted to count As I Watch it Freeze as their third, I don’t think they’d find much argument, as centerpiece “Gold in the Palm” opens like a gateway leading to the increasingly resonant “Careworn Crow,” the fuzzy swing of “Eating the Sun” and finally, the title-track itself, which answers the acoustics of “The Swamp” earlier while adding flourish of volume-swelling and swirling electric guitar and late choral vocals that only make the proceedings seem all the more complete in their engagement.

Blackwater Prophet on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Prophet on Bandcamp

 

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