The Crotals Premiere New Track “Fissures”; Announce Horde LP out Sept. 7

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the crotals (Photo Julien Barras)

Swiss post-sludgers The Crotals will release their new full-length, Horde, on Sept. 7 through Tenacity Music. It is the second album from the Lausanne-based four-piece behind 2015’s exclamatory Fuel! Flames! Blast! (review here), and it marks the expansion of the band from a trio to a four-piece with the inclusion of Randy Schaller on vocals. Where previously guitarist Guy Borel was the long scream to be heard, Schaller brings his own harshness to the new record on songs like “Fissures,” which you can hear premiering at the bottom of this post. It’s three minutes long and skin-peelingly heavy, moving from the noise rock of the first LP into thicker and more rolling territory. The uniting factor between the two releases is they’re both pissed off and heavy as hell, but “Fissures” demonstrates plainly some of the changes that have taken place in The Crotals‘ sound over the last three years.

And with a number of guest appearances aside from the full-time addition of Schaller, Horde seems to promise even more expansion than “Fissures” gives away up front. Fair enough. I’ll be interested to hear how the sax sounds on “Hello.”

In the meantime, hello:

the crotals horde

Following the release of their debut full-length album “Fuel! Flames! Blast!”, Swiss sludge-metal group The Crotals recruited Randy Schaller from Voice Of Ruin as their new vocalist expanding into a quartet completed by Guy Borel on guitar and vocals, Maude Oswald on bass and Fabrice Marguerat on drums.

The four-piece immediately started working on a new full-length album titled “Horde” and the new material sees The Crotals going for a heavier route, combining the raw and corrosive riffing of Entombed, Motörhead and High On Fire with the groovy vibes of Kvelertak and Black Cobra.

Featuring guest performances from members of The Giant Robots, Sludge, Samael and Moonraisers, “Horde” is set for release on CD and LP on September 7th via Tenacity Music.

Tracklist:
1. Falling
2. Hello
3. La Horde
4. Melpomene
5. Fissures
6. Skogen
7. Overcrowded
8. Cradle
9. Lava
10. Dry Flood

Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Raphaël Bovey and The Crotals at MyRoom Studio.

Horde also features some great aficionados from Lausanne, Switzerland:
– Julia (The Giant Robots) tells some Swedish tales
– Makro (Samael/Sludge) burns some guitar tracks on Melpomene
– Denis (Moonraisers) adds Brass on a massive Hello
– Randy (Voice Of Ruin) joined the band and howls on Fissures.

The Crotals:
Maude Oswald (baryton)
Guy Borel (guitar & vocals)
Fabrice Marguerat (drums)
Randy Schaller (vocals)

http://www.facebook.com/thecrotals
http://www.tenacity-music.com
https://tenacity-music.bandcamp.com/album/horde
http://www.facebook.com/tenacitymusic

The Crotals, “Fissures” official track premiere

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Quarterly Review: Primordial, Dead Meadow, Taarna, MaidaVale, Black Willows, Craang, Fuzz Lord, Marijannah, Cosmic Fall, Owl

Posted in Reviews on April 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Okay, so this is it. The Quarterly Review definitely ends today. I’m not sneaking in a seventh day tomorrow or anything like that. This is it. The last batch of 10, bringing us to a grand total of 60 records reviewed between last Monday and now. That’s not too bad, if you think about it. Me, I’m a little done thinking about it, and if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to enjoy the time between now and late June/early July, in which for the most part I’ll be writing about one record at a time. The thought feels like a luxury after this week.

But hey, we made it. Thanks for reading along the way.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primordial, Exile Amongst the Ruins

primordial exile amongst the ruins

Primordial’s flair for the epic has not at all abated over the years. The Irish post-black-metal forerunners follow-up 2014’s Where Greater Men Have Fallen with Exile Amongst the Ruins (on Metal Blade), and though there’s plenty of charge in “To Hell or the Hangman,” “Sunken Lungs” or “Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed,” with frontman Alan Averill proselytizing declarations as grandly as ever, one might read a certain amount of fatigue into the lyrics of songs like “Stolen Years” and the 10-minute closer “Last Call.” Granted, Exile Amongst the Ruins is 65 minutes long, so I don’t think the band has run out of things to say, but could it be that the cycle of writing, recording and touring is starting to wear on them some 25 years after their founding? I wouldn’t know or speculate, and like I said, Exile Amongst the Ruins retains plenty of its sonic force, the layering of the title-track and the preceding “Where Lie the Gods” offering a depth of sound to complement the complexity of their themes.

Primordial on Thee Facebooks

Primordial at Metal Blade website

 

Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need

dead meadow The Nothing They Need

Utter masters of their domain, Los Angeles’ Dead Meadow – comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jason Simon, bassist Steve Kille and drummer Juan Londono – mark 20 years of the band with the eight songs of The Nothing They Need (on Xemu Records), bringing in former members for guest spots mostly on drums but also guitar across a rich tapestry of moods, all of which happen to be distinctly Dead Meadow’s own. The ramble in opener “Keep Your Head” or “I’m So Glad” is unmistakable, and the fuzz of the six-minute “Nobody Home” bounces with a heavy psychedelic groove that should be nothing less than a joy to the converted. Recorded in their rehearsal space, released on their own label and presented with their own particularly blend of indie pulse, psych dreamscaping and more weighted tone, a song like the swaying eight-minute “The Light” is a reminder of everything righteous Dead Meadow have accomplished in their two decades, and of the vast spread their influence has taken on in that time. Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is that no matter who’s involved, Dead Meadow sound like Dead Meadow, which is about the highest compliment I can think of to pay them.

Dead Meadow on Thee Facebooks

Xemu Records website

 

Taarna, Sanguine Ash

taarna sanguine ash

It’s not entirely clear what’s happening at the start of Taarna’s 29-minute single-song EP, Sanguine Ash, but the samples are vague and violent sounding and the noise behind them is abrasive. A strum and build takes hold as the Portland, Oregon, black metallers, who feature former members of Godhunter in their ranks, continue in the first couple minutes to develop a suicidal thematic, and six minutes in, a wash of static takes hold with drums behind it only to give way, in turn, to lush-sounding keys or guitar (could go either way) that patiently leads to a rumbling, roiling lurch of blacksludge. Cavern-vocals echo and cut through molasses tones and Taarna ride that malicious groove for the next several minutes until, at around 18:30, samples start again. This leads to more quiet guitar, resonant blackened thrust, noise, noise, more noise and a final emergent wash of caustic anti-metal that couldn’t possibly be clearer in its mission to challenge, repel and come across as completely fucked as it can. Done and done, you scathing bastards.

Taarna on Thee Facebooks

Taarna on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure

maidavale madness is too pure

I already discussed a lot of what is working so well on MaidaVale’s second album, Madness is Too Pure (The Sign Records), when I put up the video for “Oh Hysteria!” (posted here), but it’s worth reemphasizing the sonic leap the Swedish four-piece have made between their 2016 debut, the bluesy and well-crafted Tales of the Wicked West (review here) and this nine-song offering, which stretches far outside the realm of blues rock and encompasses psychedelic jamming, spontaneous-sounding explorations, brazen but not at all caustic vibes, and an overarching energy of delivery that reminds both of a live presentation and, on a song like “Gold Mine,” of what Death Alley have been able to revitalize in space-punk. Memorable progressions like that of “Walk in Silence” and the freaked out “Dark Clouds” offer standout moments, but really, it’s the whole album itself that’s the standout, and if the debut showed MaidaVale’s potential, Madness is Too Pure ups that factor significantly.

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Willows, Bliss

black willows bliss

About a year and a half after releasing their 2016 sophomore outing, Samsara (review here), Swiss post-doomers Black Willows return with a 19-minute single-song EP they’ve dubbed Bliss. It is utterly hypnotic. The sonic equivalent of watching a bonfire take hold of dry wood. It consumes with its dense heft of riff and then lulls the listener with stretches of minimalism and ambience, the first of which provides the intro to the piece itself. Black Willows are no strangers to working with longform material, and as Bliss also appears as the band’s half of a Bloodrock Records split with Craneium, it’s understandable they’d want to bring their best, but the weight of their groove feels unexpected even in terms of having heard their past work. So they’ve gotten heavier? Yeah, maybe. What really matters is how they wield that weight, and on Bliss, they put it to use as much as an atmospheric table-setter as in a display of sheer force. Beware the noise wash at the end. That’s all I’ll say.

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Bandcamp

 

Craang, Shine

craang shine

Greek heavy psych rockers Craang set up a dynamic quickly on their new two-song full-length, Shine (also stylized as S H IN E) that both encourages and rewards patience and trust on the part of the listener. They begin 24:52 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Horizon – Tempest” quietly and commence to unfold through ebbs and flows, clean vocals and shouts, open spaces and dense(r) riffing. There is a break near and at the halfway point that presumably is the shift between one part of “Horizon – Tempest” and the other, and the second half follows that lead with a more active presentation. The accompanying “Ocean – Cellular” (19:41) launches with a bed of synth that fades as the bass, drums and guitar enter and begin a linear build that retains a progressive edge, dropping off at about eight minutes in perhaps as another transition into “Cellular,” which indeed follows a more winding, intricate path. One can only say Craang are clear in their representation of what they want to convey, and because of that, Shine is all the more of an engaging experience, the listener essentially following the band on this journey from place to place, idea to idea.

Craang on Thee Facebooks

Craang on Bandcamp

 

Fuzz Lord, Fuzz Lord

Fuzz Lord fuzz lord

We start at “The Gates of Hell” and end up in “Infamous Evil,” so one might say Ohio trio Fuzz Lord – guitarist Steven “Fuzz Lord” joined by bassist/vocalist “Stoner” Dan Riley and drummer/vocalist Lawrence “Lord Buzz” – have their thematic well set on their eight-track self-titled debut (on Fuzzdoom Records). Likewise, their tones and the sense of space in the echoing vocals of “Kronos Visions Arise” and the later, extra-Sabbathian “World Collide” seem to know precisely where they’re headed. Riley recorded the 39-minute outing, while Justin Pizzoferrato (Elder, Dinosaur Jr., many others) mixed, and the resulting conjuration is earthbound in its low end while allowing the guitar to either roll out riffy largesse or take an airier approach. The uptempo “The Lord of the Underground” speaks to a punker underpinning, while the preceding “The Warriors Who Reign” seems to have a more classic metal take, and “Infamous Evil,” also the longest track at 7:51, peppers in layered guitar leads amid a doomier, Luciferian vibe and fervent hook.

Fuzz Lord on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzdoom Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Marijannah, Till Marijannah

Marijannah till marijannah

Comprised of members of Wormrot and The Caulfield Cult, Singapore-based newcomers Marijannah execute four tracks of blown-out tones and psychedelic cavernousness with their Pink Tank Records debut release, Till Marijannah. Touches of garage swing make their way into opener “1974,” and second cut “Snakecharmer” blazes and scorches with wah-drenched solos around crunching rhythms and melodic vocalizations. A march emerges on the nine-minute “Bride of Mine” and only gets more fervent as the track makes its way forward, and driving finale “All Hollow’s Eve” presents a cacophonous but controlled take from Marijannah that reinforces the notion of nothing on their first outing happening by accident. Impressive and just a bit frenetic, it leaves one wondering what further ground the band might look to explore from here, whether they’ve set their sonic course and will look to refine their processes along these lines or whether this is just the beginning of a wider stylistic melding, and their next offering might sound completely different than Till Marijannah. The one seems as likely as the other, and that’s incredibly refreshing.

Marijannah on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Cosmic Fall, In Search of Outer Space

cosmic fall in search of outer space

Immediate points to Berlin jammers Cosmic Fall for opening their six-song/43-minute third album, In Search of Outer Space, with the 11-minute longest track “Jabberwocky.” The three-piece introduced new guitarist Marcin Marowski last year on Jams for Free (review here), and as bassist Klaus Friedrich steps up to take the vocalist role and drummer Daniel Sax continues to hold together impossible spaciousness with a fluidity of groove, Marowski seems right at home wah-noodling in the open reaches of “Jabberwocky” and soldering shred and swirl together on the later “Lumberjam.” Some of In Search of Outer Space’s most effective moments are its quietest, as on “Purification” or second cut “Narcotic Vortex,” but neither will I decry the bass fuzz that takes hold near the finish there or the molten churn that bookends closer “Icarus,” but as “Spacejam” hits into the vastness, it seems Cosmic Fall as just as apt to float as to rocket their way out of the atmosphere. In either case, they most certainly get there.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Orion Fenix

owl orion fenix

The solo-project of Christian Kolf of avant death-crunchers Valborg, Owl issues the 22-minute single-song EP Orion Fenix – with its chanting repetitions of “reborn in fire” – as a precursor to the upcoming LP, Nights in Distortion. Like Owl’s last EP, 2015’s wondrously dark Aeon Cult (review here), Orion Fenix is both intense churn and slow-rolling melancholy, bridging a gap between classic doom (that lead 15 minutes in) and post-doom rhythms and atmosphere. If the project’s purpose is to find beauty in darkness, Orion Fenix accomplishes this quickly enough, but the track’s runtime and lush layering allow Kolf to lend a sense of exploration to what is no doubt a meticulous creative process, since he’s handling all the instruments and vocals himself. Either way, Orion Fenix, as a herald, bodes remarkably well for forward progress on Nights in Distortion to come, and is a remarkable accomplishment on its own in both heft and spaciousness.

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Owl on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Grails, Expo Seventy, Coltsblood, Rhino, Cruthu, Spacetrucker, Black Habit, Stone Angels, The Black Willows, Lamagaia

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Arrival. Welcome to the final day of The Obelisk’s Spring 2017 Quarterly Review. After today, I clean off my desktop and start over with a mind toward the next round, which in my head I’ve already scheduled for late June. You know, at the end of the next quarter. I do try to make these things make sense on some level. Anyway, before we get to the last 10 albums, let me please reiterate my thanks to you for reading and say once again that I hope you’ve found something this week that really speaks to you, as I know I have and continue to today. We finish the Quarterly Review out strong to be sure, so even if you’re thinking you’re done and you’ve had enough, you might be surprised by the time you’re through the below.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Grails, Chalice Hymnal

grails chalice hymnal

Even if one counts the 2013 collection culled from GrailsBlack Tar Prophecies ongoing series of short releases that showed up via Temporary Residence, it’s been a long while since their last proper outing. Deep Politics (review here) was issued in 2011, but it seems the intervening time and members’ participation in other projects – among them Om and Holy Sons in the case of Emil Amos – disappear for Grails on Chalice Hymnal, which speaks directly to its predecessor in sequel pieces like “Deeper Politics,” “Deep Snow II” and “Thorns II,” taking the prog-via-TangerineDream cinematics of Deep Politics to vibrant and continually experimental places on the surprisingly vocalized “Empty Chamber,” the soundscaping “Rebecca” and the imaginative, evocative jazz homage “After the Funeral,” the album’s 10-minute closer. Hearing the John Carpenter keyboard line underpinning “Pelham,” I’m not sure I’d call Chalice Hymnal limitless in its aesthetic – Grails have definitive intentions here, as they always have – but they continue to reside in a space of their own making, and one that has yet to stop expanding its reach.

Grails on Thee Facebooks

Grails at Temporary Residence Ltd.

 

Expo Seventy, America Here and Now Sessions

expo seventy america here and now sessions

Yes. Yes. This. With extended two tracks – “First Movement” (22:17) and “Second Movement” (27:04) – unfolding one massive longform immersion that drones pastoral, delves into hypnotic bliss and fills the soul in that way that only raw exploration can, the America Here and Now Sessions from Kansas City (by way of the moon) outfit Expo Seventy is an utter joy to experience. Purposeful and patient in its execution, graceful in the instrumental chemistry – even with a second drummer sitting in amid the core trio led by guitarist Justin Wright – the album well fits the deep matte tones and nostalgic feel of its accompanying artwork, and is fluid in its movement from drone to push especially on “Second Movement,” which sandwiches a resonant cacophony around soundscapes that spread as far as the mind of the listener is willing to let them. Whether you want to sit and parse the execution over every its every subtle motion and waveform or put it on and go into full-brain-shutdown, America Here and Now Sessions delivers. Flat out. It delivers.

Expo Seventy on Thee Facebooks

Essence Music website

 

Coltsblood, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness

coltsblood ascending into shimmering darkness

After surviving the acquisition of Candlelight Records by Spinefarm, UK doom extremists Coltsblood return with their second album, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness, and follow-up 2014’s Into the Unfathomable Abyss (review here) with 54 minutes of concrete-thick atmospheric bleakness spread across five tracks. The headfuckery isn’t quite as unremitting as it was on the debut – a blend of airy and thick guitar in the intro of the opening title-cut (also the longest inclusion; immediate points) reminds of Pallbearer – but the three-piece thrive in this more-cohesive-overall context, and their lumbering miseries remain dark and triumphant in kind. A closing duo of “Ever Decreasing Circles” and “The Final Winter” also both top 12 and 13 minutes, respectively, but the shorter second track “Mortal Wound” brings blackened tendencies to the fore and centerpiece “The Legend of Abhartach” effectively leads the way from one side to the other. Still, the most complete victory here for bassist/vocalist John McNulty, guitarist Jemma McNulty and drummer Jay Plested might be “The Final Winter,” which melds its grueling, excruciatingly slow crash to overarching keyboard drama and becomes a work of cinematic depth as well as skull-crushing wretchedness. Such ambient growth fascinates and shows marked progression from their first offering, and even if the primary impression remains one from which no light escapes, don’t be fooled: Coltsblood are growing and are all the more dangerous for that.

Coltsblood on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight Records website

 

Rhino, The Law of Purity

rhino the law of purity

Once they get past the aptly-titled minute-long “Intro,” Rhino keep their foot heavy on the gas for the vast majority of The Law of Purity, their Argonauta Records debut album. The 10 included tracks veer into and out of pure desert rock loyalism – “Eat My Dust” comes across as particularly post-Kyuss, perhaps melded with some of the burl of C.O.C.’s “Shake Like You” – and the throttle of “Nuclear Space,” “Nine Months,” “A. & B. Brown” and “Cock of Dog” later on come to define the impression of straightforward push that puts the riffs forward even more than earlier inclusions like the post-“Intro” title-track or the more mid-paced “Bursting Out,” which hints at psychedelia without really ever fully diving into it. Capping with the roll of “I See the Monsters,” The Law of Purity reminds at times of earlier Astrosoniq – particularly in the vocals – but finds the Sicilian five-piece crafting solid heavy rock tunes that seem more concerned with having a couple beers and a good time than changing the world or remaking the genre. Nothing wrong with that.

Rhino on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity

cruthu the angle of eternity

As it happens, I wrote the bio and release announcement for Cruthu’s debut album, The Angle of Eternity (posted here), and I count guitarist “Postman Dan” McCormick as a personal friend, so if you’re looking for impartiality as regards the self-released six-tracker, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for primo trad doom and classic metal vibes, the Michigan-based four-piece offer touches of progressive flourish amid the shuffle of opener “Bog of Kildare,” a grueling post-“Crystal Ball” nod in “From the Sea” and a bit of ‘70s proto-metallurgy in the closing title-track, which finds vocalist Ryan Evans at his most commanding while McCormick, bassist Erik Hemingsen (Scott Lehman appears as well) and drummer Matt Fry hold together the fluid and patient groove of weighted downer metal. The sense of Cruthu as an outfit schooled in the style is palpable through the creep of “Lady in the Lake” and the post-Trouble chug of “Séance,” but they’re beginning to cast their own identity from their influences – even the penultimate interlude “Separated from the Herd” is part of it – and the dividends of that process are immediate in these tracks.

Cruthu on Thee Facebooks

Cruthu on Bandcamp

 

Spacetrucker, Launch Sequence

spacetrucker launch sequence

From the Kozik-style artwork of their cover to the blown-out vocals on opener “New Pubes” of guitarist Matt Owen, St. Louis three-piece Spacetrucker – how was there not already a band with this name? – make no bones about their intentions on their late-2016, 26-minute Launch Sequence seven-track EP. Owen, bassist Patrick Mulvaney and drummer Del Toro push into a realm of noise-infused stoner grunge loyal to the ‘90s execution of “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop” in the stops of the instrumental “Giza” even as they thicken and dirty up their tonality beyond what Kyuss laid forth. The cowbell-inclusive “Science of Us” rests easily on Mulvaney’s tone and nods toward burl without going over the top, and cuts like “Old Flower,” the penultimate roller “Trenchfoot” and the closing post-Nirvana punker blast of “Ain’t Gonna be Me” reimagine a past in which the language of heavy rock was there to explain where grunge was coming from all along. Not looking to reinvent stylistic parameters in their image at this point, Spacetrucker is nonetheless the kind of band one might’ve run into at SXSW a decade and a half ago and been made a fan for life. As it stands, the charm is not at all lost.

Spacetrucker on Thee Facebooks

Spacetrucker on Bandcamp

 

Black Habit, Black Habit

black habit self titled

Clocking in at half an hour, the self-titled debut release from viola-infused Arizona two-piece Black Habit could probably qualify as an EP or an LP. I’m inclined to consider it the latter considering the depths vocalist/guitarist/bassist Trey Edwin and violist/drummer Emily Jean plunge in the five included tracks, starting with the longest of the bunch (immediate points) in the slow-moving “Escape into Infinity” before shifting the tempo upward for “Suffer and Succumb” and digging into deep-toned sludge marked out by consistently harsh vocals. I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Habit became more melodic or at least moved into cleaner shots over time, as the doomly centerpiece “South Beach” and more fuzz-rocking “Travel Across the Ocean” seem to want to head in that direction, but it’s hard to argue with the echoing rasp that accompanies the rumble and hairy tones of finale “Lust in the Dust,” as Black Habit’s Black Habit rounds out with an especially righteous nod. An intriguing, disaffected, and raw but potential-loaded opening salvo from a two-piece discovering where their sound might take them.

Black Habit on Thee Facebooks

Black Habit on Bandcamp

 

Stone Angels, Patterns in the Ashes

stone angels patterns in the ashes

Massive. Patterns in the Ashes is a malevolent, tectonic three-song EP following up on New Zealand trio Stone Angels’ 2011 debut, Within the Witch, as well as a few shorter live/demo offerings between, and it’s an absolute beast. Launching with the seven-minute instrumental “White Light, White Noise II” – indeed the sequel to a cut from the first album – it conjures a vicious nod and bleeds one song into the next to let “Signed in Blood” further unfold the grim atmospherics underscoring and enriching all that tonal heft. Sludge is the core style, but the Christchurch three-piece’s broader intentions come through with due volume on the grueling “Signed in Blood” and when “For the Glory of None” kicks in after its sample intro, the blasts and growls that it brings push the release to new levels of extremity entirely. As a bonus, the digital edition includes all three tracks put together as one longer, 21-minute piece, so the consuming flow between them can be experienced without any interruption, as it was seemingly meant to be.

Stone Angels on Thee Facebooks

Stone Angels on Bandcamp

 

Black Willows, Samsara

the black willows samsara

If Switzerland-based resonance rockers Black Willows had only released the final two tracks, “Jewel in the Lotus” and “Morning Star,” of their late-2016 second full-length, Samsara, one would still have to call it a complete album – and not just because those songs run 15 and 25 minutes long, respectively. Throughout those extended pieces and the four shorter cuts that appear before them, a palpable meditative sensibility emerges, and Black Willows follow-up the promise of 2013’s Haze (review here) by casting an even more immersive, deeper-toned vibe in the post-Om nod of “Sin” (8:08) and the more percussive complement, “Rise” (9:28), keeping a ritualized feel prevailing but not defining. From the lead-in title-track and the spacious psych trip-out of “Mountain” that gives way to the aforementioned extended closing duo, Black Willows find their key purpose in encompassing tonality and languid grooving. Nothing is overdone, nothing loses its patience, and when they get to the linear trajectory of “Morning Star,” the sense is they’re pushing as far out as far out will go. It’s a joy to follow them on that path.

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Bandcamp

 

Lamagaia, Lamagaia

lamagaia lamagaia

Anytime you’re at all ready to quit your job and explore the recesses of your mind via the ingestion of psychedelics, rituals and meditation, Sweden’s Lamagaia would seem to stand prepared to accompany. The Gothenburg four-piece offer two extended tracks of encouragement in that direction on their self-titled 12” (released through Cardinal Fuzz and Sunrise Ocean Bender), and both “Aurora” and “Paronama Vju” carry a heady spirit of kosmiche improvisation and classically progressive willfulness. They go, go, go. Far, far, far. Vocals echo out obscure but definitely there in post-The Heads fashion, but there’s Hawkwindian thrust in the fuzzed bass and drums driving the rhythm behind the howling guitar in “Aurora,” and that only sets up the peaceful stretch that the drones and expansive spaciousness of “Paronama Vju” finds across its 18:55 as all the more of an arrival. Immersive, hypnotic, all that stuff that means gloriously psychedelic, Lamagaia’s Lamagaia offers instrumental chemistry and range for anyone willing to follow along its resonant and ultra-flowing path. Count me in. I never liked working anyway.

Lamagaia website

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

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Monkey3 Premiere Lyric Video for “Dead Planet’s Eyes”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

monkey3

I haven’t yet done a full-on zen sitdown with Monkey3‘s fifth long-player, Astra Symmetry — though I absolutely plan to — so allow for the fact that my opinions might change pending that, but the record seems more consuming on the first couple runthroughs even than was 2013’s The 5th Sun. Tonally and in its stylistic scope, it plays off the traditions of heavy psychedelia in its warmth and range of effects, but it also finds the Lausanne, Switzerland-based outfit pushing their own boundaries, most notably incorporating vocals in the 70-minute behemoth’s first half. Not the first time they’ve dabbled in words, but I don’t think they’ve ever done so to such an extent across multiple tracks — someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

Mercifully, their doing so comes at no expense as regards the atmosphere of the album overall, which retains a meditative space rock feel even as it dips into elements of doomed riffing on “Moon” or drones out behind some spoken word and who knows what else. It’s a clear case of an already-adventurous band breaking through the limits of what they’ve done before, and as Astra Symmetry moves into the last five or so tracks, all almost entirely instrumental in the Monkey3 tradition (there’s some whispering on “The Guardian”), the flow created seems increasingly apparent for the distance they’ve already covered in sound. Looking at the album that way, with the last five tracks as the second of two LPs, “Dead Planet’s Eyes” plays all the more of a pivotal role in closing out the first platter.

At least that’s how I presume the vinyl breaks up or is intended to do so, and if you’re looking for a signal of some of what Monkey3 are doing differently this time around, “Dead Planet’s Eyes” will more than suffice. Bringing in guest vocalist Tony Jelencovich (Transport League), the song has a decidedly metallic finish, moving into growls late in what, relative to some of its surroundings, is a pretty concise 4:32 runtime. It might be a departure even from the departure — brain explodes — but I think it makes sense even as a general introduction to just how really open Astra Symmetry is as a whole.

You can watch a lyric video premiere for “Dead Planet’s Eyes” below. Monkey3‘s Astra Symmetry is out Sept. 2 on Napalm Records, and the band has newly announced a European tour alongside Greek outfit 1000mods (see? I told you they’d be touring) and Belgium’s Moaning Cities that includes stops at Up in Smoke, Desertfest Belgium and Keep it Low in Munich.

Dates follow the video here. Enjoy:

Monkey3, “Dead Planet’s Eyes” lyric video

Roadburn, Hellfest, Desertfest – it`s pretty much impossible that you missed out on MONKEY3! The fourpiece from Lausanne, Switzerland have been blowing the minds of stoner and psych rock fans alike for the past 15 years: trippiness and groove are the cornerstones of their elegant yet powerful sound, and Astra Symmetry is your magic carpet ride!

Decidedly cosmic instrumental music that loves melding heavy riffing with proggy keyboard landscapes – so buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Monkey3 on tour with 1000mods and Moaning Cities:
29.09.16 STUTTGART | KELLERCLUB
30.09.16 PRATTELN | UP IN SMOKE FESTIVAL
02.10.16 FULDA | KULTURKELLER
03.10.16 COLOGNE | UNDERGROUND
04.10.16 NIJMEGEN | DOORNROOSJE
05.10.16 BREMEN | SCHLACHTHOF (Magazinkeller)
06.10.16 BIELEFELD | FORUM
07.10.16 HANNOVER | FAUST *without 1000MODS
08.10.16 BERLIN | BI NUU
09.10.16 LEIPZIG | WERK 2
10.10.16 WIESBADEN | SCHLACHTHOF
11.10.16 MANNHEIM | 7er CLUB
12.10.16 JENA | KULTURBAHNHOF
13.10.16 HAMBURG | HAFENKLANG
14.10.16 KIEL | SCHAUBUDE
15.10.16 ANTWERP | DESERTFEST
16.10.16 DRACHTEN | IDUNA *without MOANING CITIES
18.10.16 WÜRZBURG | IMMERHIN
19.10.16 WIEN | ARENA
20.10.16 LINZ | STADTWERSTATT
21.10.16 EBENSEE | KINO EBENSEE
22.10.16 MUNICH | KEEP IT LOW FESTIVAL

Monkey3 on Thee Facebooks

Monkey3 at Napalm Records

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Monkey3 to Release Astra Symmetry Sept. 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Official Press Pictures Monkey 3

I’m not sure if Monkey3‘s new album is slated for distribution in North America or not, or if it is if it’s going to be out the same day, but the below announcement would seem to confirm the details for a Sept. 2 European release for Astra Symmetry. If you read through the words below, initially posted by Napalm Records on their label site (linked below), it looks like a cool project, with the tracklisting working in distinct movements to create what’s touted as an overarching progressive feel. I’d be interested to hear how that plays out, and if I come across any word specifically of a US release different from this one — which I post because the band is good, this site has readers in the EU and because I firmly believe in purchasing imports when necessary — I’ll let you know.

Until then, they’ve already been confirmed for Keep it Low 2016 in Munich and Up in Smoke in Switzerland, and presumably there are more tour dates to come. Here’s album art and details:

monkey3 astra symmetry-700

Roadburn, Hellfest, Desertfest – it`s pretty much impossible that you missed out on MONKEY3!

This four piece from Lausanne, Switzerland have been blowing the minds of stoner and psych rock fans alike for the past 15 years: trippiness and groove are the cornerstones of their elegant yet powerful sound, and their upcoming album Astra Symmetry is your magic carpet ride!

Astra Symmetry will be released on September 2nd via Napalm Records.

MONKEY3’s new album, Astra Symmetry, feeds its inspiration from the mapping of the stars and their symbolic associations, interpreting the constellations stranded over the dark sky.

Taking its roots in the pristine abyss, Astra Symmetry is a journey towards sidereal soundscapes making their course over four progressive chapters revolved around the zodiac wheel, unifying astrological signs under their elemental nature. What begins in the deep waters, ascends into thin air and acquires earthly consciousness before burning in the sacred fire. Decidedly cosmic instrumental music that loves melding heavy riffing with proggy keyboard landscapes – so buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Astra Symmetry track listing reads as follows:

1 Abyss
2 Moon
3 Endless Ocean
4 The Water Bearer
5 Crossroad
6 Mirrors
7 Dead Planet’s Eyes
8 Seeds
9 Astraea
10 Arch
11 The Guardian
12 Realms Of Lights

Astra Symmetry available formats:
– 6 Page Digipack
– 2 LP Gatefold

Pre-Orders will be available shortly!

www.facebook.com/monkey3band
www.monkey3official.com
http://label.napalmrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Monkey3, “Birth of Venus” official video

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Monkey3 European Tour Starts Nov. 6

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 27th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

monkey 3

Four albums deep into their career, Switzerland’s Monkey3 are veterans of Freak Valley, Desertfest Belgium and Berlin, Roadburn (x2), Lake on Fire, Up in Smoke, Hellfest, Keep it Low, among others, but they nonetheless seem to remain somewhat underrated when it comes to the “holy shit!” response factor. Part of that no doubt is being a largely vocal-less outfit, but even so, particularly sitting in the States, it’s easy to feel like if more people knew about this band, more people would flip their gourd at everything they do.

Same could be said of a lot of groups, I suppose. However, it comes to mind as Monkey3 make ready to head out on their 2015 fall European tour. It’s not quite as extensive as they one they did last year at this time, but the difference is they’re road-testing new material for their next album, which will be their second for Napalm Records behind 2013’s The 5th Sun, their fourth overall and the follow-up to 2011’s Beyond the Black Sky (review here), which was released by Stickman.

No word on a release date, or even really a recording date for the new full-length, but sometime in the New Year doesn’t feel like a ridiculous expectation. We’ll find out when we get there. In the meantime, tour dates follow:

monkey 3 fall tour

Monkey3 Fall Tour 2015

Monkey3 will hit the road from 6th to 15th november 2015. During this tour, we will play, as a preview, some brand new songs! Looking forward to see you all for a trippy jam, Cheers!!!

The show in Mohawk (Mannheim, DE) 7.11 is cancelled due to venue’s unexpected shutdown and is replaced by a show in Augsburg, DE, at Ballonfabrick.

Tour Dates:
06.11.15 CH, Luzern, Sedel
07.11.15 DE, Augsburg, Ballonfabrik
08.11.15 BE, Leuven, Sojo
09.11.15 DE, Hamburg, Rock Cafe
10.11.15 DE, Freiburg, White Rabbit
12.11.15 FR, Clermont-Ferrand, Raymond Bar
13.11.15 FR, Bordeaux, L’Heretic
14.11.15 FR, Nantes, Le Ferrailleur
15.11.15 FR, Paris, La Flèche d’Or

https://www.facebook.com/monkey3band
http://www.monkey3official.com/
http://label.napalmrecords.com/

Monkey3, “Once We Were”

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The Crotals Stream New Album Fuel! Flames! Blast! in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on April 1st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the-crotals

Swiss trio The Crotals release their debut full-length, the energetically-titled Fuel! Flames! Blast!, on Friday through Tenacity Music. While maybe not as frenetic as the name they’ve given it might suggest, the 10-track record does boast a vital delivery in its push of aggressive sludge, the guitar of Guy Borel and baritone guitar of Maude Oswald crafting waves of nodding riffs punctuated by drummer Fabrice Marguerat‘s steady largesse of crash. Distinguished by Borel‘s throaty screams — more Tomas Lindberg than Mike Williams — the material across the album’s 39-minute span has a metallic underpinning to its noise rock that comes to the fore in songs like “Black Blizzard” or the ferocious but melodic opener “Lipstick on a Pig.”

That song starts with a sample — something about a snake — and later cut “Blast” seems to have one corresponding, but winding though Fuel! Flames! Blast! is, I’m not sure I’d say it’s working purely on a serpentine theme. Raging riffers like “Slave of Damnation” and the instrumental “Wrath” have some punk element, but there’s a post-metal vibe in the back-of-the-beat drumming on “Polar Thoughts”the-crotals-fuel-flames-blast and the slower “Shelter,” which precedes, so The Crotals offer a touch more variety than it might at first seem given the largely unipolar vocals, consuming and satisfyingly layered as those screams are. “Never Sorry” makes for an early highlight, emblematic of some of the album’s more chaotic moments, but the one-two punch of “Blast” and “Mississippi” seems to get to the heart of what Fuel! Flames! Blast! is all about, its pummel and nod presented with a sense of poise. “Mississippi” builds patiently to a furious drum-led apex in its second half, but even there, The Crotals are in full control, and for something so aggressive and destructive sounding, it’s classy. They’re kicking your ass in style.

Same could be said of closer “Desert Odyssey,” which draws Fuel! Flames! Blast! to its finish not with sandy soundscaping, but with rounded-low end thrust and a final wash of noise, a popping snare cutting through melodic guitar that pushes into the finale, topped by one last raw-throated shout for good measure. The Crotals have a pretty tight grasp as it is on what they want their sound to do — i.e. fill your lungs — but there’s also potential in these tracks for longer-term creative progress, and even more than the name of the album, that’s how The Crotals make their exclamation.

Please enjoy the full stream of Fuel! Flames! Blast! below (there was an error with Soundcloud, so I’m using one of my own players), followed by some more bio background, courtesy of Tenacity Music:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Featuring current and former members of Favez and Toboggan, Swiss sludge/stoner-rock trio The Crotals will release their debut full-length album entitled “Fuel! Flames! Blast!” on April 3 via Tenacity Music. Recorded at Rec Studio by Serge Morattel, “Fuel! Flames! Blast!” combines sludgy, stoner riffs with oppressive punk rhythms and serrated vocals distilling pure venom.

The Crotals on Thee Facebooks

Tenacity Music

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Black Willows, Haze: In the Grey

Posted in Reviews on August 2nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Self-released in a six-panel foldout digipak that includes a poster, the debut album from Swiss foursome Black Willows (who may or may not have added a The to the front of their name since) strikes an immediately curious impression. Haze reaches upwards of 70 minutes and finds its crux in sometimes-droning psychedelic repetitions, slowed down space rock and periodic bouts of riffnosis — which is all well and good, but between that and the Hubble Telescope imagery from whence the artwork comes, I’m left wondering about the black and white visuals. By the time Haze has started, past the buzzing noise of the two-minute title-track intro, it’s readily apparent that the band will be taking their time. Since usually this kind of thing comes coated in greens, yellows, reds and oranges, it’s something of a surprise Black Willows didn’t go total-spectrum in the layout. The greyscale gives Haze — which was recorded in the sunny clime of Austin, TX — an individual edge before you even press play.

Perhaps that’s the point — it’s what everyone else does, so they did the opposite — but either way, there’s a moody underpinning for the echoing vocals of “Doors of Perception” as a result, some Dead Meadow shoegaze meeting heavy psych jam payoffs in slowed down subspace. The dual guitars of Mélanie Renaud and (golly this name sounds familiar) Aleister Crowley move the songs forward by and large, giving the latter’s vocals plenty of room to echo out, but as “Neptune” takes hold with a more nodding thud, the rumble work of bassist Kevin Richard and particularly the languid punctuation of drummer Nicolas Monica are shown for the essential pieces they are. “Neptune” is the first of four songs in a row — followed by “Haiku,” “Black Magic” and “Apache” — that top eight minutes apiece, and though they vary in mood, with “Haiku” reminding in its instrumental stretches of some of the tension Elder created on their Dead Roots Stirring long-player while the more contemplative “Black Magic” touches on Easternisms in its drone and “Apache” delves into revival of the it’s-a-nod-scene-baby groove of “Neptune” en route to squibbly explorations and noisy climax, it remains a lot to take in one sitting.

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