Quarterly Review: Electric Octopus, Crypt Trip, Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Heavy Feather, Faith in Jane, The Mound Builders, Terras Paralelas, The Black Heart Death Cult, Roadog & Orbiter, Hhoogg

Posted in Reviews on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day four of the six-dayer. Head’s a little reeling, but I’m not sure any more so than, say, last week at this time. I’d be more specific about that, but oddly enough, I don’t hook my brain up to medical scanners while doing reviews. Seems like an oversight on my part, now that I think about it. Ten years later and still learning something new! How about that internet, huh?

Since I don’t think I’ve said it in a couple days, I’ll remind you that the hope here is you find something you dig. There’s a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so that should at least make skimming through it fun if you go that route. Either way, thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Electric Octopus, Smile

Electric Octopus Smile

It’s been about two months since Electric Octopus posted Smile, so they’re about due for their next release. So, quick! Before this 82-minute collection of insta-chill jams is out of date, there’s still time to consider it their latest offering. Working as the four-piece of Tyrell Black and Dale Hughes — both of whom share bass and guitar duties — drummer Guy Hetherington and synthesist Stevie Lennox, the Belfast improv jammers rightfully commence with the 25-minute longest track (immediate points) “Abberation” (sic), which evolves and devolves along its course and winds up turning from a percussive jam to a guitar-led build up that still stays gloriously mellow even as it works its way out. You can almost hear the band moving from instrument to instrument, and that’s the point. The much shorter “Spiral,” “Dinner at Sea, for One” and closer “Mouseangelo” bring in a welcome bit of funk, “Moth Dust” explores minimalist reaches of guitar and ambient drumming, and “Hyperloop” digs into fuzz-soaked swirl before cleaning up its act in the last couple minutes. These cats j-a-m. May they do so into perpetuity.

Electric Octopus on Thee Facebooks

Electric Octopus on Bandcamp

 

Crypt Trip, Haze County

crypt trip haze county

Onto the best-albums-of-2019 list go San Marcos, Texas, trio Crypt Trip, who, sonically speaking, are way more Beto O’Rourke than Ted Cruz. The three-piece have way-way-upped the production value and general breadth from their 2018 Heavy Psych Sounds debut, Rootstock, and the clarity of purpose more than suits them as they touch on ’70s country jams and hard boogie and find a new melodic vocal confidence that speaks to guitarist Ryan Lee as a burgeoning frontman as well as the shredder panning channels in “To Be Whole.” Fortunately, he’s backed by bassist Sam Bryant and drummer Cameron Martin in the endeavor, and as ever, it’s the rhythm section that gives the “power trio” its power. Centerpiece “Free Rain” is a highlight, but so is the pedal steel of intro “Forward” and the later “Pastures” that precedes six-minute closer “Gotta Get Away,” which makes its transport by means of a hypnotic drum solo from Martin. Mark it a win and go to the show. That’s all you can do. Haze County is a blueprint for America’s answer to Europe’s classic heavy rock movement.

Crypt Trip on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Split Double EP

smokey mirror love gang split double ep

A bit of Tull as Love Gang‘s flute-inclusive opener “Can’t Seem to Win” skirts the line of the proggier end of ’70s worship. The Denver outfit and Dallas’ Smokey Mirror both present three tracks on Glory or Death RecordsSplit Double EP, and Love Gang back the leadoff with “Break Free” and “Lonely Man,” reveling in wall-o’-fuzz chicanery and organ-laced push between them, making their already unpredictable style less predictable, while Smokey Mirror kick off side B in particularly righteous fashion via the nine-minute “Sword and Scepter,” which steps forth to take ultra-Sabbathian ownership of the release even as the filthy tone of “Sucio y Desprolijo” and the loose-swinging Amplified Heat-style megashuffle of “A Thousand Days in the Desert” follow. Two bands in the process of finding their sound coming together to serve notice of ass-kickery present and future. If you can complain about that, you’re wrong.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Smokey Mirror on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records BigCartel store

 

Heavy Feather, Débris & Rubble

Heavy Feather Debris & Rubble

Very much a solid first album, Heavy Feather‘s 11-song Débris & Rubble lands at a run via The Sign Records and finds the Stockholm-based classic heavy blues rockers comporting with modern Euro retroism in grand fashion. At 41 minutes, it’s a little long for a classic-style LP if one measures by the eight-track/38-minute standard, but the four-piece fill that time with a varied take that basks in sing-along-ready hooks like those of post-intro opener “Where Did We Go,” the Rolling Stones-style strutter “Waited All My Life,” and the later “I Spend My Money Wrong,” which features not the first interplay of harmonica and lead guitar amid its insistent groove. Elsewhere, more mellow cuts like “Dreams,” or the slide-infused “Tell Me Your Tale” and the closing duo of the Zeppelinian “Please Don’t Leave” and the melancholy finisher “Whispering Things” assure Débris & Rubble never stays in one place too long, though one could say the same of the softshoe-ready boogie in “Hey There Mama” as well. On the one hand, they’re figuring it out. On the other, they’re figuring it out.

Heavy Feather on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

Faith in Jane, Countryside

Faith in Jane Countryside

Five full-lengths deep into a tenure spanning a decade thus far, Faith in Jane have officially entered the running to be one of the best kept secrets of Maryland heavy. Their late-2018 live-recorded studio offering, Countryside, clocks in at just under an hour of organic tonality and performance, bringing a sharp presentation to the chemistry that’s taken hold among the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dan Mize, bassist Brendan Winston and drummer Alex Llewellyn, with Mize taking extended solos on the Wino model throughout early cuts “All is All” and “Mountain Lore” while the trio adds Appalachian grunge push to the Chesapeake’s flowing groove while building “Blues for Owsley” from acoustic strum to scorching cacophonous wash and rolling out the 9:48 “Hippy Nihilism” like the masters of the form they’re becoming. It’s not a minor undertaking in terms of runtime, but for those in on what these cats have been up to all the while, hard to imagine Countryside is seen as anything other than hospitable.

Faith in Jane on Thee Facebooks

Faith in Jane on Bandcamp

 

The Mound Builders, The Mound Builders

The Mound Builders The Mound Builders

Lafayette, Indiana’s The Mound Builders last year offered a redux of their 2014 album, Wabash War Machine (review here), but that was their last proper full-length. Their self-titled arrives as eight bruiser slabs of weighted sludge/groove metal, launching with its longest track (immediate points) in the 7:30 “Torchbearer,” before shifting into the outright screams-forward pummel of “Hair of the Dogma” and the likewise dry-throated “Separated from Youth.” By the time they get to the hardcore-punk-via-sludge of “Acid Slugs,” it’s not a little heavy. It’s a lot heavy. And it stays that way through the thrashing “Star City Massacre” and “Regolith,” hitting the brakes on “Broken Pillars” only to slam headfirst into closer “Vanished Frontier.” Five years later and they’re still way pissed off. So be it. The four-formerly-five-piece were never really all that gone, but they still seem to have packed an extended absence’s worth of aggro into their self-titled LP.

The Mound Builders on Thee Facebooks

Failure Records and Tapes

 

Terras Paralelas, Entre Dois Mundos

TERRAS PARALELAS ENTRE DOIS MUNDOS

It’s a fluid balance between heavy rock and progressive metal Terras Paralelas make in the six inclusions on their debut full-length, Entre Dois Mundos. The Brazilian instrumentalist trio keep a foundation of metallic kickdrumming beneath “Do Abismo ao Triunfo,” and even the chugging in “Espirais e Labirintos” calls to mind some background in harder-hitting fare, but it’s set against a will toward semi-psychedelic exploration, making the giving the album a sense of refusing to play exclusively to one impulse. This proves a strength in the lengthier pieces that follow “Infinito Cósmico” and “Do Abismo ao Triunfo” at the outset, and as Terras Paralelas move from the mellower “Bom Presságio” and “Espirais e Labirintos” into the more spaciously post-rocking “Nossa Jornada Interior” and the nine-minute-plus prog-out title-track that closes by summarizing as much as pushing further outward, one is left wondering why such distinctions might matter in the first place. Kudos to the band for making them not.

Terras Paralelas on Thee Facebooks

Terras Paralelas on Bandcamp

 

The Black Heart Death Cult, The Black Heart Death Cult

the black heart death cult the black heart death cult

Though one wouldn’t accuse The Black Heart Death Cult of being the first cumbersomely-named psych-rocking band in the current wave originating in Melbourne, Australia, their self-titled debut is nonetheless a gorgeous shimmer of classic psychedelia, given tonal presence through guitar and bass, but conjuring an ethereal sensibility through the keys and far-back vocals like “She’s a Believer,” tapping alt-reality 1967 vibes there while fostering what I hear is called neo-psych but is really just kinda psych throughout the nodding meander of “Black Rainbow,” giving even the more weighted fuzz of “Aloha From Hell” and the distortion flood of “Davidian Dream Beam” a happier context. They cap with the marshmallowtron hallucinations of “We Love You” and thereby depart even the ground stepped on earlier in the sitar-laced “The Magic Lamp,” finding and losing and losing themselves in the drifting ether probably not to return until, you know, the next record. When it shows up, it will be greeted as a liberator.

The Black Heart Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records webstore

 

Orbiter & Roadog, Split

orbiter roadog split

I’m pretty sure the Sami who plays drums in Orbiter is the same dude playing bass in Roadog, but I could easily be wrong about that. Either way, the two Finnish cohort units make a fitting complement to each other on their two-songer 7″ single, which presents Orbiter‘s six-minute “Anthropocene” with the hard-driving title-track of Roadog‘s 2018 full-length, Reinventing the Wheels. The two tracks have a certain amount in common, mostly in the use of fuzz and some underlying desert influence, but it’s what they do with that that makes all the difference between them. Orbiter‘s track is spacier and echoing, where “Reinventing the Wheels” lands more straightforward in its three minutes, its motoring riff filled out by some effects but essentially manifest in dead-ahead push and lyrics about a motorcycle. They don’t reinvent the wheel, as it happens, and neither do Orbiter, but neither seems to want to do so either, and both bands are very clearly having a blast, so I’m not inclined to argue. Good fun and not a second of pretense on either side.


Orbiter on Thee Facebooks

Roadog on Thee Facebooks

 

Hhoogg, Earthling, Go Home!

hhoogg Earthling Go Home

Space is the place where you’ll find Boston improvisationalists Hhoogg, who extend their fun penchant for adding double letters to the leadoff “Ccoossmmooss” of their exclamatory second self-released full-length, Earthling, Go Home!, which brings forth seven tracks in a vinyl-ready 37 minutes and uses that opener also as its longest track (immediate points) to set a molten tone to the proceedings while subsequent vibes in “Rustic Alien Living” and the later, bass-heavy “Recalled to the Pyramids” range from the Hendrixian to the funkadelicness he helped inspire. With a centerpiece in “Star Wizard, Headless and Awake,” a relatively straightforward three-minute noodler, the four-piece choose to cap with “Infinitely Gone,” which feels as much like a statement of purpose and an aesthetic designation as a descriptor for what’s contained within. In truth, it’s a little under six minutes gone, but jams like these tend to beg for repeat listens anyway. There’s some growing to do, but the melding of their essential chemistry is in progress, and that’s what matters most. The rest is exploration, and they sound well up for it.

Hhoogg on Thee Facebooks

Hhoogg on Bandcamp

 

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The Heavy Co. Release Psychedelamigo Sessions Demo Collection

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the heavy co

As will happen from time to time, every now and again a band kind of fizzles out with material that’s still in progress left unfinished. Indiana’s The Heavy Co. released their Uno Dose EP (review here) as their final offering in 2014 and had another demo session in the can, including a jam given the rather grim title of “Fuck Earth” which guitarist Ian Gerber highlights as a signal of where the band were headed. And fair enough. They were accomplished jammers during their time and well suited to that as a foundation of their material, but you know how these things go. As in, sometimes they don’t.

Thus Psychedelamigo Sessions arrives as a posthumous release, a kind of these-songs-are-here-might-as-well-do-something-with-them outing that, indeed, is better out there than not. Gerber, who offered the info below, doesn’t write off completely the notion of going back into the studio to finalize the material, but if he does or doesn’t, at least it’s documented as is.

They also still have a couple — four as of this post — tapes left of Uno Dose, which ruled, on their Bandcamp. If you’ve got eight bucks and room for a bit of groove in your life, you might consider it an investment.

Here’s the Psychedelamigo Sessions info, followed of course by the stream:

the heavy co psychedelamigo sessions

These recordings weren’t finished. I think they were done 2014. I was cleaning out my soundcloud and figured that at this point that it was fine to release these tracks as is. More of a relic showing how the band had progressed. I really liked Harry Lee and Smokey Little Number as songs. The fuck earth jam was definitely where the band was heading.

There is a very, very, very small chance that we will crack open the vaults to fix the mistakes. Therefore…here you go. This is the last material we worked on as The Heavy Co. Thanks for tuning in…

THC is:
Ian Gerber – Guitars/Vocals
Jeff Kaleth – Drums

Fuck Earth w/
Nicolae Ciobotaru – Drums
Michael Naish – Bass
Jeff Kaleth – Guitar
Ian Gerber – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/theheavyco/
http://theheavycompany.bandcamp.com/

The Heavy Co., Psychedelamigo Sessions

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The Mound Builders Announce Jan. 18 Release for Self-Titled Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

The Mound Builders

It’s been a while since The Mound Builders made their debut with Strangers in a Strange Land (review here). Like, that was apparently 2011. Of course, they’ve hardly been idle since then, playing shows and releasing splits and EPs like Wabash War Machine (review here) in 2014. Still, if they were going to release a second album — hey, some bands don’t — it was probably time to do that. Thus arrives the bombast of The Mound Builders by The Mound Builders, set for release in the New Year via Failure Records and Tapes. What hath time wrought upon the Lafeyette, Indiana, sludgesters? I won’t pretend to know, but I’ve got a zip file on my desktop that’s going to let me find out, and needless to say, I’ll keep you posted.

No public audio yet, but the trusty PR wire brings album art and info, so have at it:

The Mound Builders The Mound Builders

The Mound Builders – The Mound Builders

Broadly speaking, bands that fall under the umbrella term of riff-worshippers – encompassing stoner, doom, and sludge metal – can fall under one of two categories. The majority of bands are content to walk (high as a kite) through the hills and valleys of their forefathers. A few, however, endeavor to take the tools that these legendary acts left and create new landscapes. Thus, we discover The Mound Builders from Indiana. While the blood of High on Fire, Buzzov*en and Crowbar among others flows through their veins, the resultant mix on their sophomore self-titled resembles the freshest dirt dug up for construction.

The most striking initial fact that jumps out on The Mound Builders is the fearless shift between tempos – instead of maintaining a reassuring tempo as many of their peers, they go from punk-inflected raging “Hair of the Dogma” to sludge metal swagger on “Separated From Youth”, stoner-thrash on “Star City Massacre” to vitriolic rough-and-tumble on closer “Vanished Frontier” – the latter of which has a stand-out vocal performance. The occasional pedal-manipulated solo wails out of nowhere – expertly handled by Brian Boszor, while the low end sounds both crisp and punishing as Robert Strawsma and Jason “Dinger” Brookhart hammer out relentless rhythms. You can spend any number of spins only hazarding a guess at influences, but the final result is a band who have their sound dialed in and know exactly how to wield it for maximum effect.

Narrating over the trio is the maniacal Jim Voelz, whose shrieks recall the great Johnny Morrow, and his growls echo the pains of the various strands of history from which the band draw lyrical inspiration, whether ancient tales or more recent life in their native Midwest, the grand cosmos or down here on Planet Earth. “It’s gonna be a massacre”, Jim warns, before another solo power-slides into existence, and it’s not long before the song in question comes to a crashing close.

It’s been seven long years since their début full-length Strangers in a Strange Land, and The Mound Builders have made good use of that time in their craft. Their self-titled is a step up and a step closer to honing that perfect mixture between so many styles. For now, they’ll just keep building and playing.

The Mound Builders will be released on Jan 18 2019.

Tracklisting:
1. Torchbearer
2. Hair of the Dogma
3. Separated From Youth
4. Acid Slugs
5. Star City Massacre
6. Regolith
7. Broken Pillars
8. Vanished Frontier

The Mound Builders live:
11.3.18 – Melody Inn – Indianapolis, IN
11.9.18 – Hobart Art Theatre -Hobart, IN
11.10.18 – Fireside Inn- Detroit, MI
12.8.18 – North End Pub – Lafayette, IN

The Mound Builders are:
Brian Boszor – Guitar
Jason “Dinger” Brookhart – Drums
Ryan Strawsma – Bass
Jim Voelz – Vocals

http://www.facebook.com/themoundbuilders
https://twitter.com/themoundbuilder
https://www.instagram.com/themoundbuilders/
https://themoundbuilders.bandcamp.com/

The Mound Builders Split w/ Pale Horseman (2016)

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Forming the Void Sign to Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I agree with Ripple Music‘s Todd Severin when he says that the best is yet to come for Louisiana’s Forming the Void. That was the impression I got watching them at Psycho Las Vegas, and their 2018 album, Rift (review here), likewise showed off the progressive potential still inherent in their sound. What Severin leaves out of that statement is the role his label will help play in getting Forming the Void to that next level in their approach, as the band will start work on their next album and Ripple Music debut early next year after rounding out 2018 with a few select live dates in Texas and Louisiana. Whenever the record shows up, it’ll be welcome around these parts.

All the best to the band as they embark on their next offering and kudos to band and label alike on the union. Seemed somewhat inevitable, maybe, given Forming the Void‘s multi-layered approach and the considerable response it’s gleaned for them, but a killer fit just the same. One looks forward to what’s coming.

Ripple announced it like this:

forming the void

Prog-Metallers FORMING THE VOID sign with Ripple Music | Work on their follow up to this year’s RIFT to begin in early 2019

Ripple Music is thrilled to announce the signing of one of 2018’s biggest and best breakout acts, Forming the Void. Following the release of last year’s critically acclaimed album, Relic, Louisiana’s preeminent prog warlocks caused a storm across the planet earlier this year with their much-lauded follow-up, Rift.

“We’re stoked to be working with Ripple Music!” explains guitarist James Marshall. “We got to hang out with Todd Severin Psycho Las Vegas. It gave us the opportunity to spend a lot of time chatting about everything from medical problems to our guilty pleasure songs. It’s an honour to be a part of the Ripple Family and we’re looking forward to making music with them.”

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, their colossal and atmospheric sound summoned the towering hard rock riffs and progressive influence of bands like Mastodon, Baroness and Torche. A distinctive sound that not only marked them out as ones to watch, but a sound that promptly earned them recognition as ambitious and gifted players.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Forming the Void to the Ripple Family,” explains Severin. “Obviously, they released one of the best albums of the year this year, but it really was seeing them lay waste to the stunned audience at Psycho Las Vegas that blew me away. Amazing musicians and amazing people. The best still lies ahead with this band!”

LIVE DATES:
11/7 – New Orleans, LA – Santos Bar
11/9 – Lafayette, LA – The Boom Boom Room
11/16 – Houston TX – Satellite Bar
11/17 – San Antonio, TX – Faust
11/30 – Lake Charles, LA – Center Stage
12/10 – Lafayette, LA – The Boom Boom Room

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://www.instagram.com/forming_the_void/
https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Forming the Void, “Arrival” official video

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Review & Lyric Video Premiere: Forming the Void, Rift

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

forming the void rift

[Click play above to stream the premiere of a lyric video for Forming the Void’s ‘Ark Debris.’ Their new album, Rift, is out Aug. 17 on Kozmik Artifactz.]

I’m sorry, but any record that starts with a song called “Extinction Event” is telegraphing its heaviness. And sure enough, Rift is the most weighted offering yet in the relatively brief but prolific tenure of Louisiana four-piece Forming the Void. In terms of tone, atmosphere and rhythm, it brings to bear a heft that feels like an arrival point — the title of the side B opener, sure enough: “Arrival” — following last year’s Relic (review here) and 2016’s Skyward (review here) with an uptick in scope, apparent lyrical narrative and sense of largesse that nothing they’ve yet done has touched. Comprised of seven tracks running a total of a still-LP-friendly 45 minutes delivered via Kozmik Artifactz, Rift is, simply, a new level for the band. Operating as the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Thomas Colley (the latter making his first appearance), they offer their most cohesive and purposeful collection to-date, with landmark hooks in “On We Sail” and the subsequent “Arcane Mystic” and themes that have been present at least since Relic — the cover art of which depicted a hooded mystic traveling through space on an asteroid — the album ultimately takes a linear path.

Following its beginning in “Extinction Event,” that time-to-go narrative launch point leads to a lyrical journey through “On We Sail,” an “Arcane Mystic” met along the way, “Transient” leading to “Arrival,” “Ark Debris” when the vessel in question presumably is broken down and turned into a “Shrine” at the end. The sense of culmination is underscored by the fact that the finale tops 10 minutes long while everything else apart from the 6:53 “Ark Debris” is under six minutes, but by then the point is made in roiling, rolling progressive riffing and Marshall‘s echoing vocals; a spaciousness clearly meant to be taken literally. As in, “it’s about space.” Perhaps most pivotal of all the story being told doesn’t detract from the songwriting in general, and though I’d bet by the time they got around to writing the words to “Transient,” the concept was locked in place, neither that centerpiece nor anything around it pulls away from the well-struck balance between craft and storytelling.

On a sheer execution level, Rift is loaded with intent and poise. At their fastest, Forming the Void are not rushed, and at their slowest, in the back half of “Transient,” say, they remain comfortable in their forward motion. “Extinction Event” introduces a variety of elements in terms of the ultra-dense tones, spacious clean vocals and brash rhythmic swing, and in so doing summarizes a fair bit of what’s to come throughout the album, but as “On We Sail” and “Arcane Mystic” lead into “Transient,” the side A finale marks a significant shift in approach. Or at very least it foreshadows one ahead. With impressive lead work from Al-Khansa, thick low end from Baker and an impressive debut from Colley in shoving them along their path, the early cuts of Rift are more straightforward in structure. The hooks have already been noted, and it’s not as though ambience isn’t a factor, as the intro to “Arcane Mystic” immediately hypnotizes and bolsters the feeling of openness, but that will become much more of a focal point on side B, and true to its name, “Transient” marks that transition. Like “Arcane Mystic” just before, it has a subdued introduction, but it goes further in making loud/quiet tradeoffs between utterly massive plodding and more serene melodic fare.

forming the void

The shifts can be sudden but don’t feel that way because the pace is gradual, and like everything that surrounds, they’re brought to bear with a grace that underscores the progressive mindset of the band as a whole. “Transient” has something of a hook, so ties well to the cuts before, but also tells of the expanses yet to be traversed on “Arrival” and beyond into side B. Sure enough, what would seem to be a conclusion is only the beginning point of something new for Forming the Void as arrival rolls out a memorable riff, echoing vocals and a steady nod of a groove en route to a slow-marching midsection and a pickup in the second half to psychedelic lead work laced over a still-tectonic groove. Shifts in tempo only continue as “Ark Debris” takes hold with a decided Middle Eastern inflection in the introduction. Patient in its unfolding, the intro becomes the bed for the verses over the first several minutes, and it’s not until about 3:10 that heavier guitars kick in over the steady drumbeat. A solo over distortion keeps the vibe of the early going alive as the halfway mark is crossed, and a subtle build happens where fuller tones are first teased and then arrive with a marked fluidity over a consistent drone that’s been there all the while.

They end with feedback there and let “Shrine” — an arrival unto itself — close out, beginning with a stretch of quiet but tense guitar and cymbal washes before the whole lumber takes hold. “Shrine” is resounding in its heavy, soaring in its melody and firm in its purpose, and lands as a significant achievement for Forming the Void on their path of sonic discovery. After thudding out the initial verses, they stop around four minutes into the total 10 and drop to quiet to let keys or effects-laden guitar answer the Mideastern vibe of “Ark Debris” for a moment before resuming the stomp. A bridge of some earlier Elder-style riffing leads to “Shrine”‘s melodic payoff and then a final solo over double-time drums pushes toward the final slowdown, huge in its sound and headphone-worthy in its engrossing rumble.

The end comes when “Shrine” cuts short at 10:13 and fades back in on a cymbal wash for more feedback before they make their way out again, ending the album with a reminder that while this story has finished, there’s much more to say. At least, that’s the hope, considering how much Forming the Void have been able to turn their first two full-lengths into lessons and learned from them in the making of this third one. They’re a band who should be touring, especially now, since it would seem they’ve found and been able to harness the sound and style they were looking for these last several years and the task before them would be to refine it. As to how that will happen or the direction they’ll work in from this point on, I’ve no idea, but everything they’ve done to get to this stage has been willful in its creative growth, and one doesn’t expect that to stop just because they’ve so thoroughly nailed it this time around. But make no mistake, they have nailed it.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Forming the Void on Twitter

Forming the Void on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz on Twitter

Kozmik Artifactz on Instagram

Kozmik Artifactz website

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Quarterly Review: Worshipper, Dopethrone, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, Omen Stones, Capra, Universo Rojo, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Fire Down Below, Stone Deaf, Cracked Machine

Posted in Reviews on July 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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

Well, we made it to the end of another Quarterly Review. One more batch and then it’s off to planning the next one for late September/early October. I hope you have found something this week that you’ve really dug. I have. A few, to be honest. Not everything is going to stick with every listener, of course, and that includes me, but for as much as putting this one together has been, there’s been some really good, year-end-list-type stuff included. At least as far as my own list goes. I sincerely hope you agree.

So let’s do this last one, then go sleep for a couple hours. Alright? Here we go:

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Worshipper, Mirage Daze

worshipper mirage daze

I don’t know if Worshipper knew they’d be embarking on their first West Coast tour in Summer 2018 when they hit Mad Oak Studios in Oct. 2016 to record the four cover tracks for their Mirage Daze EP on Tee Pee Records, but it certainly worked out in the Boston four-piece’s favor. Following-up their 2016 debut, Shadow Hymns (review here), Worshipper present four cover tracks in Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin’,” The Oath’s “Night Child,” Pink Floyd’s “Julia Dream” and The Who’s “Heaven and Hell,” and while I’m a little sad that “Heaven and Hell” isn’t the Black Sabbath song, which I think they’d nail if they tried it, and I’m glad to have a studio version of their take on Floyd’s “Julia Dream,” which from the first time I saw them live was always a pleasure to watch live, I think the highlight of Mirage Daze might be “Night Child.” I never bought that The Oath record, and Worshipper’s take on its lead single is about the best argument I’ve seen for doing so. It may or may not be a stopgap issued to coincide with the tour, but Mirage Daze is a welcome arrival anyway. It’s a fan piece? Well, I’m a fan, so right on.

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dopethrone, Transcanadian Anger

dopethrone transcanadian anger

Montreal scumsludgers Dopethrone return with Transcanadian Anger, an eight-track blister-fest of crunch riffing and misanthropic vibes. Delivered through Totem Cat Records, the 36-minute Weedeater-gone-bad-drugs sludge assault seems to invite superlatives front to back, even in the slamming instrumental “Killdozer” – a tribute to the band? – and the swinging penultimate cut “Kingbilly Kush.” Elsewhere, opener “Planet Meth,” “Snort Dagger,” “Tweak Jabber” and “Scuzzgasm” celebrate addiction and violence unto oneself and others, making a spectacle of decay set to voluminous sludge riffs and abrasive vocals. This is Dopethrone’s aesthetic territory, and they’ve done well over the last decade to make it their own. As they answer 2015’s full-length, Hochelaga (review here), and the next year’s 1312 EP with yet another filth-caked collection, they seem all the more in their own league of aural and narcotic self-punishment. They could be straightedge vegans for all I know, but they sure sound high as fuck, and I guess that’s the point. So, well done.

Dopethrone on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

 

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, BooCheeMish

the mystery of the bulgarian voices boocheemish

Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance would seem to be trying to solve The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, a choral group from Bulgaria who, seemingly until teaming with Gerrard for the Prophecy Productions release BooCheeMish was known by the French name Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. Whatever you call them, their history dates back nearly seven decades and their harmonies are utterly timeless. BooCheeMish is comprised of gorgeous folk renditions for 45 minutes of world-building perfection. Percussion of various sorts provides backing and on pieces like “Rano Ranila” they speed through at a pace and arrangement that’s head-spinning, while the later “Zableyalo Agne” finds them joined by flute for a nigh-religious experience and the subsequent “Tropanitsa” has a bounce worthy of any good times one might to envision from its evocative pulse. One can’t help but feel a bit of the cultural voyeur in taking it on – as well as feeling totally outclassed in reviewing it – but these songs were clearly meant to be enjoyed, and as their ambassadors, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices genuinely serve a public best interest.

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Omen Stones, Omen Stones

omen stones omen stones

Virginia duo Omen Stones have no online presence as yet. No songs streaming. No cheeky logos-on-photos social media posts that new bands do when they’re sitting on their hands waiting to get material out there. What they – and by “they,” I mean guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hamilton of Druglord and drummer Erik Larson of Backwoods Payback, The Might Could, Alabama Thunderpussy, etc. – have is a four-song self-titled EP collecting about 13 minutes of material in demo fashion, bringing forth the Southern-shuffle-gets-weird-then-explodes opener “Secrete” as a first impression of a deceptive approach. You think it’s all good and then you get punched. Go figure. “Secrete” is also the longest track (immediate points) at 4:06, and the forward charge and harsher vocal of “Fertile Blight” follows, catchy as it is mean, and more indicative of what’s to follow in the maddening tension of “Sympathy Scars” and the fuckall sludgepunk of “Purity Tones.” Immediately against-trend, Omen StonesOmen Stones is a bird of prey unto itself. Hopefully at some point soon they make it publicly available.

Druglord on Bandcamp

Erik Larson on Bandcamp

 

Capra, Unholy Gallows

Capra Unholy Gallows

Taking influence from hardcore punk, post-hardcore and sludge, Lafayette, Louisiana’s Capra seem to fit in a Midwestern style of semi-metallic aggression that has flourished in the wake of the likes of The National Acrobat and Coliseum. The foursome’s Unholy Gallows single follows their also-two-song self-titled 2016 EP, and finds Tyler Harper (also of the recently-defunct The Midnight Ghost Train), Jeremy Randazzo, Ben Paramore and Lee Hooper aligned in their purposes of riff-led bludgeoning. Unholy Gallows is two songs/six minutes long – not by any means an afternoon commitment in terms of listening – but its furies are unveiled in far less time than that, and both “Red Guillotine” and “Hot Lips” waste no time in doling out their beatings. A sense of heft stems from tonal thickness, but they make it move to a propulsive degree, and aside from a quick feedback intro to “Red Guillotine,” there’s no letup; even as “Hot Lips” slows the pace some initially, it maintains geared toward foreshadowing the next fist to fly.

Capra on Thee Facebooks

Capra on Bandcamp

 

Universo Rojo, Impermanencia

Universo Rojo Impermanencia

Sprawl, sprawl, sprawl. Into space. Universo Rojo’s excellent four-track debut album, Impermanencia, makes you want to speak slowly enough to feel the words vibrate out of your mouth. The Chilean four-piece offer lengthy, jam-based excursions that echo out their feel across vast reaches of effects, progressive rhythm and melody-making unfurling all the while beneath an overarching swirl of effects, guitars and synth running atop the mix like competing currents of water. Opener “¿A Dónde Ir?” (8:13) gives way to the flute-laden krautrockism of “Visión Planetaria de los Tiempos” (8:40) as vocalist/guitarist/clarinetist Ferro Vargas-Larraguibel, drummer Naim Chamás, bassist Cristóbal Montenegro and synthesis Francisco Arellano conjure such molten possibilities. Though it’s just 34 minutes, Impermanencia is nonetheless expansive, with the 9:36 “Cinco (La Quinta Dimensión)” finding a place between drift and psych-jazz undulations while closer “Inmaterialización del Sentimiento Cósmico” (7:32) lets out a full-impulse burst of energy that’s blinding if you know just where to look. Not to be missed.

Universo Rojo on Thee Facebooks

Universo Rojo on Bandcamp

 

Sergeant Thunderhoof, Terra Solus

sergeant thunderhoof terra solus

Kudos to Bath, UK, four-piece Sergeant Thunderhoof on starting off their sophomore long-player, Terra Solus, with the album’s longest track in “Another Plane.” And likewise for the blend of psychedelia and burl that unfolds. In taking on the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Ride of the Hoof, they offer eight cuts and 51 minutes of spacious riffing charged with just an undercurrent of English boozer burl, Elephant Tree and Steak meeting head on for a raucous session of who knows what. “B Oscillation” taps nod and particularly satisfying fuzzy warmth in its lead section, while even a would-be bruiser like the subsequent “Diesel Breath” has a trip-out included. There is time for such things as every track but the penultimate and relatively minimalist soundscaper “Half a Man” tops six minutes, but Sergeant Thunderhoof make a much richer impression overall than their moniker might lead one to believe, and close out in particularly resonant fashion with “Om Shaantih,” emphasizing the breadth and post-rock elements that help make Terra Solus so engaging from the outset.

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Bandcamp

 

Fire Down Below, Hymn of the Cosmic Man

fire down below hymn of the cosmic man

The adaptation of Kyuss’ “Thumb” riff for Fire Down Below’s “Ignition/Space Cruiser” after the “Red Giant” intro on their second album, Hymn of the Cosmic Man (on Ripple), is nothing short of a clarion to the converted. The Belgian unit’s mission would seem to be to find that place on the horizon where the desert ground and space itself seem to meet and become one, and as side A closer “The Cosmic Pilgrim” turns from its initial crunch into more patient and drifting psych, they’d seem to get there. Atsmophere is certainly central to the record, as the aforementioned “Red Giant” and its side B counterpart “Nebula” demonstrate, never mind the other five tracks, and even as “Saviour of Man” runs through its janga-janga stoner-riffed hook there’s a flourish of effects to create a balance between the earthbound and the interstellar. Side B’s “Ascension” and especially 11-minute album-closer/highlight “Adrift in a Sea of Stars” seem to find the balance the four-piece is shooting for all along, and just before the nine-minute mark when the thick, fuzzed-out riff emerges from the jammy lead, the entire impetus for their journey seems to be laid bare. Well done.

Fire Down Below on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Stone Deaf, Royal Burnout

stone deaf royal burnout

Denver, Colorado’s Stone Deaf present a sans-frills desert rock vibe across the eight tightly structured tracks of their sophomore album, Royal Burnout (on Black Bow Records). Specifically, the compressed crunch in the guitar tone and some of the start-stop bounce riffing in cuts like “Room #240” and “Monochrome” seem to be drawn from the Songs for the Deaf methodology, and some of the vocals on opener “Spitshine” (video premiere here) remind of Queens of the Stone Age as well, but Stone Deaf – whose moniker, then, would be well sourced – have a deeper root in punk rock that underscores the “Go with the Flow” thrust of “Deathwish 62” as well as the chugging verses of “Boozy Spool” immediately preceding. It’s a sound that benefits greatly from the sharpness of its delivery and the craft Stone Deaf bring to it, and even when they seem to loosen up a bit on the midpaced pre-finale “That Lefty Request,” there’s a fervent sense of a plan unfolding. That plan would seem to be a success.

Stone Deaf on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Cracked Machine, I, Cosmonaut

cracked machine i cosmonaut

Originally released last year, Cracked Machine’s debut, I, Cosmonaut, finds vinyl issue through PsyKA Records and earns it well with six tracks/45 minutes of mostly-instrumentalist and progressive space-psych. One assumes there’s a narrative thread at work across the span, as guitarist Bill Denton, bassist Chris Sutton, keyboardist/vocalist Clive Noyes and drummer Blazej Gradziel weave their way through “Twin Sons Rising” and “New Vostok” at the outset into the easy flow of “Baikonur Cosmodrome,” the harder-hitting title-track, the fuzzy declaration of “Svetlana” and the patiently executed 10-minute closer “Transorbital,” Denton’s guitar singing all the while. These places and, maybe, characters would seem to weave together to tell the story in impressions largely open to interpretation and correspondingly open in terms of their creativity, sounding spontaneous and maybe live-recorded if not entirely improvised, instead working to a plan for where each inclusion should go or end up. As Cracked Machine’s first album, it’s an ambitious work that does far more than get the band’s feet wet. It takes them out of the atmosphere and embarks on a journey beyond that one hopes is just beginning.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

Cracked Machine at PsyKA Records webstore

 

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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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The Mound Builders Announce Trio of Upcoming Releases

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the mound builders

I’ve you’re thinking it’s been a while since the last time we heard from Indiana heavy rockers The Mound Builders, you’re right. Their last standalone offering was 2014’s Wabash War Machine (review here), though they also had a split with Pale Horseman out in 2016. Still, it’s been a minute. 2018 looks to be packed for the four-piece, however, as they’ll have three new releases on the docket.

The first is a reissue of Wabash War Machine that seems to include new art. Fair enough. The second is a split through Failure Records and Tapes with The Lurking Corpses, Hailshot and No Breaks.And the third is a to-be-recorded self-titled full-length that they band will hope to release later in the year. Details on that one are obviously pretty sparse — it doesn’t quite exist yet, you see — but it’s cool to know they’re at the point where they’re ready to get to work on it. Hopefully it’s out before 2018 is done.

They sent the news down the PR wire:

The Mound Builders plan 3 releases for 2018!

Lafayette, IN Sludge Rockers The Mound Builders plan 2 releases for 2018 leading up to a brand new full length for late Fall/early Winter.

The first release slated for April 21st (Record Store Day) will be a re-release of the now out of print EP Wabash War Machine. The re-issue features new art work by Clayton Jarvis of Abom design and will include The Mound Builders 2 newest songs Black Drink Ritual and Hashashin previously only available on the 12″ split with Pale Horseman. These songs were originally intended to be on Wabash War Machine but were abandoned due to lack of funding and time. Wabash War Machine 2.0 is how we intended to originally release it and we are excited to finally share this complete version with our fans!

The 2nd release, scheduled to drop Memorial Weekend (May 25th) will be the 3rd installment of Failure Records and Tapes 7″ series “Split Hits the Fans”. This 4 way split features a new, punk’d out version of our song Sun God as well as new music from Midwest favorites, The Lurking Corpses, Hailshot, and No Breaks. Pre-sales available now through the link below.

http://failurerecordstapes.bigcartel.com/product/the-mound-builders-hailshot-the-lurking-corpses-no-breaks

Finally we will be in the Studio late March to track our first full length release in 7 years! The Mound Builders self-title will feature 8 brand new songs of all original material and will be released on Failure Records and Tapes! We hope to complete mixing and mastering and pick up our show schedule in April to support and promote our plans!

http://themoundbuilders.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/themoundbuilders
https://twitter.com/themoundbuilder
http://themoundbuilders.com/SITE/

The Mound Builders, Wabash War Machine (2014)

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