Quarterly Review: Torche, Spillage, Pharlee, Dali’s Llama, Speedealer, Mt. Echo, Monocluster, Picaporters, Beaten by Hippies, Luna Sol

Posted in Reviews on July 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again. The Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. It’s four in the morning and I’m getting ready to start the day. I haven’t even managed to pour myself coffee yet, which even as I type it out feels like a crime against humanity, such as it is. I’ll get there though.

Wednesday in the Quarterly Review marks the halfway point of the week, and as we’ll hit 30 reviews at the end, it’s half of the total 60 as well, so yeah. Feeling alright so far. As always, good music helps. I’ve added a couple things for consideration to my ongoing best-of-the-year list for December, so that’s something. And I think I’ll probably be doing so again today, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Torche, Admission

torche admission

15 years later and Torche‘s sound is still expanding. To that point, it’s never sounded quite as expansive as it does on Admission, their fifth album and second for Relapse behind 2015’s Restarter (review here). There are still plenty of straight-ahead heavy riffs on cuts like “Reminder” or “Slide” or the bomb-tone-laden “Infierno,” but in the title-track, in “Times Missing,” the closer “Changes Come,” “Slide” and even the 1:30-long “What Was,” there’s a sense of spaciousness and float to the guitars to contrast all that crunch, and it effectively takes the place of some of the manic feel of their earlier work. It’s consistent with the brightness of their melodies in songs like “Extremes of Consciousness” and the early pusher “Submission,” and it adds to their style rather than takes away, building on the mid-paced feel of the last album in such a way as to demonstrate the band’s continued growth long after they’d be well within their rights to rest on their laurels. Sharp, consistent in its level of songwriting, mature and engaging across its 36-minute entirety, Admission is everything one might ask of Torche‘s fifth album.

Torche on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Spillage, Blood of Angels

spillage blood of angels

If you, like me, believe doom to be the guardian style of classic heavy metal — you could also argue power metal there, but that’s why it’s an argument — Chicago’s Spillage might be the band to help make your case. With their own Ronnie James Dio in Elvin Rodriguez (not a comparison I make lightly) and a connection to the Trouble family tree via founding guitarist Tony Spillman, who also played in Earthen Grave, the band unfurl trad-metal poise throughout their 53-minute second album, Blood of Angels, hitting touchstones like Sabbath, Priest, and indeed Trouble on a chugger like “Free Man,” a liberal dose of organ on “Rough Grooved Surface” adding to the classic feel — Rainbow, maybe? — and even the grandiose ballad “Voice of Reason” that appears before the closing Sabbath cover “Dirty Women” staying loyal to the cause. I can’t and won’t fault them for that, as in both their originals and in the cover, their hearts are obviously in it all the way and the sound is right on, the sleek swing in the second half of “Evil Doers” punctuated by squealing guitar just as it should be. Mark it a win for the forces of metal, maybe less so for the angels.

Spillage on Thee Facebooks

Qumran Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Pharlee, Pharlee

pharlee pharlee

San Diego strikes again with Pharlee‘s self-titled debut on Tee Pee Records, a 29-minute boogie rock shove that’s marked out by the significant pipes of Macarena Rivera up front, the shuffling snare work of Zach Oakley (also guitar in JOY and Volcano) and the organ work of Garret Lekas throughout, winding around and accentuating the riffs of Justin “Figgy” Figueroa and the air-push bass of Dylan Donovan. It’s a proven formula by now, but Pharlee‘s Pharlee is like the band who comes on stage in the middle of the festival and surprises everyone and reminds them why they’re there in the first place. The energy of “Darkest Hour” is infectious, and the bluesier take on Freddie King‘s “Going Down” highlights a stoner shred in Figueroa‘s guitar that fits superbly ahead of the fuzz freakout, all-go closer “Sunward,” and whatever stylistic elements (and personnel, for that matter) might be consistent with their hometown’s well-populated underground, Pharlee take that radness and make it their own.

Pharlee on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dali’s Llama, Mercury Sea

dalis llama mercury sea

Long-running desert rockers Dali’s Llama return with Mercury Sea, their first release since 2017’s The Blossom EP (review here) and their first full-length since 2016’s Dying in the Sun (review here), sounding reinvigorated in rockers like opener “Weary” and the subsequent grunge-vibing “Choking on the Same,” “When Ember Laughs” and the garage-style “She’s Not Here.” Persistently underappreciated, their albums always have a distinct feel, and Mercury Sea is no different, finding a place for itself between the laid-back desert blues and punkier fare on a cut like “Someday, Someday,” even delving into psychedelic folk for a while in the 6:54 longest track “Goblin Fruit,” and a bit of lead guitar scorch bringing it all together on closer “All My Fault,” highlighting the theme of love that’s been playing out all the while. The sincerity behind that and everything Dali’s Llama does is palpable as ever in these 11 tracks, an more than 25 years on from their inception, they continue to deliver memorable songs in wholly unpretentious fashion. That’s just what they do.

Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dali’s Llama on Bandcamp

 

Speedealer, Blue Days Black Nights

speedealer blue days black nights

Speedealer ride again! And just about at top speed, too. The Dallas, Texas, outfit were last heard from circa 2003, and their turnabout is marked with the self-release of Blue Days Black Nights, a fury-driven 10-tracker that takes the best of their heavy-rock-via-punk delivery and beefs up tones to suit another decade and a half’s worth of hard living and accumulated disaffection. The Dallas four-piece blaze through songs like “Never Knew,” the hardcore-punk “Losing My Shit,” the more metallic “Nothing Left to Say,” and the careening aggro-swagger of “Rheumatism,” but there’s still some variety to be had throughout, as highlight “Sold Out,” “War Nicht Genung” and “Shut Up” find the band no less effective working at a somewhat scaled-back pace. However fast they’re going, though the attitude remains much the same, and it’s “fuck you fuck this” fuckall all the way. Those familiar with their past work would expect no less, and time has clearly not repaired the chip on Speedealer‘s shoulder. Their anger is our gain.

Speedealer on Thee Facebooks

Speedealer webstore

 

Mt. Echo, Cirrus

mt echo cirrus

Based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the instrumentalist four-piece Mt. Echo present a somewhat noisier take on Russian Circles-style heavy post-rock with their nine-song/46-minute debut, Cirrus. Not at all shy about incorporating a noise rock riff or a more weighted groove, the dual-guitar outfit nonetheless spend significant time patiently engaged in the work of atmosphere-building, so that their material develops a genuine ebb and flow as songs tie one into the next to give the entire affair a whole-album feel. It is their first outing, but all the more striking for that in terms of how much of a grip they seem to have on their approach and what they want to be doing in a song like “Lighthouse at the End of Time” with airy lead and chugging rhythm guitars intertwining and meeting head-on for post-YOB crashes and an eventual turn into a harder-pushing progression. Ambience comes (mostly) to the fore in the seven-minute “Monsters and the Men Who Made Them,” but wherever they go on Cirrus, Mt. Echo bring that atmospheric density along with them. The proverbial ‘band to watch.’

Mt. Echo on Thee Facebooks

Mt. Echo on Bandcamp

 

Monocluster, Ocean

Monocluster Ocean

Over the course of five longform tracks on Ocean, Germany’s Monocluster build fluidly on the accomplishments of their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), greatly expanding on the heft and general reach of their sound while, as opener “Ocean in Our Bones” demonstrates, still holding onto the ability to affect a killer hook when they need one. Ocean is not a minor undertaking at 56 minutes, but it dedicates its time to constructing a world in cuts like “Leviathan” and “A Place Beyond,” the giant wall of fuzzed low end becoming the backdrop for the three-part story being told that ends with the 11:43 “Home” standing alone, as graceful and progressive as it is brash and noisy — a mirror in that regard to the nine-minute centerpiece “Guns and Greed” and a fitting summation of Ocean‘s course. They keep this up for very long and people are going to start to notice. The album is a marked step forward from where Monocluster were a few years ago, and sets up the expectation of continued growth their next time out while keeping a focus on the essential elements of songwriting as well. If we’re looking for highlights, I’d pick “Leviathan,” but honestly, it’s anyone’s game.

Monocluster on Thee Facebooks

Monocluster on Bandcamp

 

Picaporters, XXIII

picaporters xxiii

The third full-length from Argentine trio Picaporters marks another level of achievement for them as a band. XXIII arrives three years after El Horror Oculto (review here) and is unquestionably their broadest-cast spectrum to-date. The album comes bookended by eight-minute opener “La Soga de los Muertos” and “M.I.,” an 18-minute finale jam that would give a Deep Purple live record reason to blush. Soulful guitar stretches out over a vast rhythmic landscape, and all this after “Jinetes del Universo” motorpunks out and “Vencida” pulls together Floydian melo-prog, “Numero 5” precedes the closer with acoustic interplay and the early “Despertar” offers a little bit of everything and a lot of what-the-hell-just-happened. These guys started out on solid footing with their 2013 debut, Elefantes (review here), but neither that nor El Horror Oculto really hinted at the scope they’d make sound so natural throughout XXIII, which is the kind of record that leaves you no choice but to call it progressive.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

Picaporters on Bandcamp

 

Beaten by Hippies, Beaten by Hippies

beaten by hippies beaten by hippies

As their moniker hints, there’s some edge of danger to Belgium’s Beaten by Hippies‘ self-titled debut (on Polderrecords), but the album ultimately resolves itself more toward songwriting and hooks in the spirit of a meaner-sounding Queens of the Stone Age in songs like “Space Tail” and “More is More,” finding common ground with the energy of Truckfighters though never quite delving so far into fuzzy tones. That’s not at all to the band’s detriment — rather, it helps the four-piece begin to cast their identity as they do in this material, whether that’s happening in the volatile sudden volume trades in “Dust” or the mission statement “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which feels geared a bit to the anthemic but would probably work just as well in whatever pub they happen to be terrorizing on a given evening. Their delivery skirts the line between heavy and hard rock as only that vaguely commercially viable European-style can, but the songs are right there waiting to take the stage at whatever festival is this weekend and blow the roof — or the sky, I guess, if it’s outdoors — off the place.

Beaten by Hippies on Thee Facebooks

Polderrecords website

 

Luna Sol, Below the Deep

luna sol below the deep

Guitarist/vocalist Dave Angstrom may be best known in heavy rock circles for his work alongside John Garcia in Hermano, but in leading the four-piece Luna Sol through their 12-song/50-minute sophomore outing, Below the Deep (on Slush Fund Recordings), he proves a capable frontman as well as songwriter. Sharing vocal duties with bassist Shannon Fahnestock while David Burke handles guitar and Justin Baier drums, Angstrom is a steady presence at the fore through the well-constructed ’90s-flavored heavy rock of “Below the Deep” and “Along the Road” early, the later “Garden of the Gods” playing toward a more complex arrangement after the strutting “The Dying Conglomerate” paints a suitably grim State of the Union and ahead of the fuzz-rich ending in “Home,” which keeps its melodic purpose even as it crashes out to its languid finish. Whether it’s the charged “Man’s Worth Killin'” or the winding fuzz of “Mammoth Cave,” one can definitely hear some Hermano at work, but Luna Sol distinguish themselves just the same.

Luna Sol on Thee Facebooks

Slush Fund Recordings webstore

 

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Dorre Premiere “Extracted at the Moment of Death”; Fall River out Feb. 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dorre

Belgian usually-instrumentalists Dorre are set to play a release show Jan. 30 for their debut album, Fall River, at Het Depot in Leuven. The official release date is Feb. 1, and a lot of what the record titled after the Massachusetts town where the Lizzie Borden murders took place has to offer you can hear immediately in the first 10 seconds of opener “Satisfying Sadistic Urges.” It begins with sharply-toned, intense fits of starts and stops, metallic in their aggression, but with a tonal presence that speaks to what’s to come as a heavy work all the same.

They’re quickly under way in “Satisfying Sadistic Urges” — which, somewhat amazingly, is not also the title of a Cannibal Corpse song — and they maintain the directed sensibility through about the first two minutes before breaking to silence and minimalist blues licks, then crash back in and make their way back from whence they came with surprising fluidity given how far out they go. The four-piece of guitarists Etherik Heyns and Adriaan De Raymaeker, bassist Andrew Hockley and drummer Wolf Overloop don’t shy away from the violence of their subject matter on the six-song/33-minute self-released outing, but neither are they neglecting a sense of atmosphere in order to convey the more physical side of the music. As they pull back on the tempo with “Force the Victims,” they’re finding a balance between the sides — the airy guitar lead atop the slamming march in the second half of “Force the Victims,” for example — and it’s in toying with that balance that Fall River makes its encouraging impression.

They cap side A with the more progressively-styled “Maximum State of Emotional Arousal,” which feels loosened up and boasts some subtle but choice snare from Overloop that carries the band from the early meanderings into a more fervent and insistent chug, some more winding and toward a particularly noisy wash of guitar soloing. As they began side A with “Satisfying Sadistic Urges” on high-go, they do the same via the two-minute “The Greatest Amount of Life Force” on side B, which stops just short of leading directly into dorre fall river“Extracted at the Moment of Death,” on which Dorre welcome vocalist Laura Donnelly of Edinburgh, Scotland’s King Witch.

If you’re going to have a guest vocalist, Donnelly is an absolute powerhouse, and she brings a classic metal declarative sense to “Extracted at the Moment of Death,” tapping into Sabbathian patterning with the same penchant for melodies she showed early last year on her own band’s debut, Under the Mountain (review here). As they approach the midsection, a layer of lead guitar smoothly makes its way in and adds flourish, then the band breaks into a quieter midsection, that warmer lead tone gradually emerging again before they charge back with the nodding riff and the band’s well-earned big finish. It’s worth pointing out how well Donnelly fits with Dorre. In some cases with instrumental bands bringing in a guest vocalist, there’s almost a sense of their doing it begrudgingly, and so it doesn’t always mesh, but Donnelly sounds equal parts natural and righteous on the seven-minute track, and one hopes it’s not the last time these two parties collaborate.

In part because the album is short, the closing title-track — which is also the longest at 7:33 — is inherently more than an afterthought after the surge of energy that is “Extracted at the Moment of Death,” and it ends Fall River with a suitably creeping, moody malevolence, finding its footing early in a mostly-linear build that plays out across its span until wind-ish swirling noise brings it to a conclusion. It will be interesting over time to hear if one side or the other in Dorre‘s sound wins out, but the way they draw from their influences across Fall River, their steadiness of theme and their efficient delivery all come together to make the release function as ably as it does. There may be growing still to do, but the band already have a clear sense of where they’re headed, and I wouldn’t be surprised either if they continued to find their way in darker storytelling.

It’s my pleasure today to host the premiere of “Extracted at the Moment of Death.” Obviously it’s something of a standout, being the only song with vocals, but I think it still represents the album well, and basically any chance you get to hear Donnelly sing, you should take it.

Some comment from the band follows the track below. Please enjoy:

Adriaan De Raymaeker on “Extracted at the Moment of Death”:

This one started out based on an older track that had started to grate on us, we completely reworked it keeping only parts of the riffs. We did a couple of preproductions of it and while listening all of us just thought “this needs vocals”. We had played some shows in the UK and Scotland, King Witch opened for us in London and I knew I wanted to do something with Laura [Donnelly], their vocalist, in the future as soon as I heard her sing. So we got in touch, sent her the best pre-production we had and told her to go to town on it, giving her only the basic background story of what we wanted to be portrayed in the song. She killed it from the get go. We recorded the instrumental in Belgium, which was pretty tricky, I slammed my guitar through an organ simulator pedal, we dropped cases of metal scrap on the floor for snare accents, all kinds of crazy stuff that you probably don’t really hear in the recordings but made us very happy. Laura recorded with her partner Jamie [Gilchrist] based on our ProTools session and again, killed it. It was a great experience and something we’ll definitely be doing again in the future!

I especially like the very funky, groovy middle part of the song instrumental wise, it’s so different from our other stuff and it breaks the song very nicely.

After a two year journey of writing, rewriting, sound-searching, recording and collaborating with profoundly talented artists and partners we can finally say it’s here. We are very proud to be able to present our upcoming full album: a dark and murky sensory undertaking, wandering through the alluring town of Fall River.

The album will be released on the 1st of February on high quality, 180gr vinyl. The first pressing will get a limited edition, consisting of 100 coloured albums, as well as 200 black slabs of wax.

Dorre on Thee Facebooks

Dorre Fall River release show event page

Dorre on Bandcamp

Dorre on Instagram

Dorre website

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Dorre & Bethmoora Stream Split LP in Full; Out Nov. 1

Posted in audiObelisk on October 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

dorre

bethmoora-photo-by-franke-gormadoc

Belgian post-metallers Dorre and Danish sludge brutalizers Bethmoora will release their split LP Nov. 1 in a limited physical pressing of 500 LPs. Divided between 300 black and 200 swirled in black and green, mixed by Chris Fielding (Conan) at Skyhammer Studio, mastered by James Plotkin (everybody, also Khanate) and topped with striking Diaz Inigo cover art, the self-released outing comprises three tracks — two on side A from Dorre, one longer one on side B from Bethmoora — and is bound to make short work of whatever quota you might have for pummel. Dorre, a trio from Leuven, follow their half-hour/single-song One Collapsed at the Altar EP with “Three Fell from the Sky” (8:31) and “Four Walked into the Ocean” (7:15), leaving one to wonder what happened to “Two,” while Copenhagen’s Bethmoora leave far less to mystery with the 17-minute “Succumb,” which, while atmospheric in a manner not wholly dissimilar from their compatriots, is more brazen in its extremity, thanks in part to screaming and growling vocals where the Dorre tracks on side A have none at all.

That in itself is a considerable divide between the two bands, but as much as they both demonstrate clear patience through their material, there are also marked aesthetic differences. Dorre begin “Three Fell from the Sky” with peaceful atmospheric guitar, while Bethmoora start “Succumb” with an immediate tension in the drums. Working bassless, Dorre use the guitars of Adriaan De Raymaeker and Erik Heyns to add psychedelic flourish and construct atmospheres in the vein of Cult of Luna or maybe dorre-bethmoora-split-lppeak-era Isis, while drummer Wolf Overloop carefully avoids patterning the rhythm after that same group, and rightly so. Not easy work, but they establish a linear build through “Three Fell from the Sky” and carry some of the momentum into “Four Walked into the Ocean,” which has its own payoff and arrives at it through tempo switches and some more rock-based push. Once Bethmoora slam into “Succumb,” on the other hand, there’s little doubt as to the doom of their intent. Their single, extended inclusion is vicious even when vocalist Anders Kofod takes a break from the layered death-growls, sounding raw and brutal over the foundation of Martin Korff‘s crash and thud.

Comprised of KofodKorff, guitarists Morten Leerhøy and Henrick Lyck, and bassist Sune Westh SvendsenBethmoora lack nothing for fullness of sound on “Succumb,” somebody or other moving into manipulated noise as the song lurches along in its second half, but they too bring a sense of ambience and spaciousness to the proceedings, however grueling that spaciousness might be. They finish with two-plus minutes of quiet guitar, not quite drone but not far off from it, in a last-minute expression of minimalism that, for those who want to bring the 12″ full circle, might find it feeds nicely back into the start of “Three Fell from the Sky” on side A. Whether that was coordinated between Bethmoora and Dorre or a happy accident, I don’t know, but it works to the advantage of emphasizing a sense of cohesion between the two acts, drawing them together despite any disparities of sound that might otherwise separate their output.

Both are relatively new bands. Dorre issued One Collapsed at the Altar about a year ago and Bethmoora put out their first demo in March, so it’s probably fair to think of the split as an early expression on both their parts, but something else that unites them is a clear sense of purpose.

All three tracks are streaming below ahead of the Nov. 1 release, followed by some comment from De Raymaeker about how it came together and more bio-type background. Please enjoy:

Adriaan De Raymaeker of Dorre on the split:

“Creating this split LP together with Bethmoora was a very easy decision. We’re both passionate bands with a drive to create, go further and invest in the quality of our music. I’ve known Morten for a couple of years now, having met at Roadburn. We’ve been wanting to do something together for a while and decided to just get started and make it happen, and here we are!”

Dorre was born at the Rock Café in Leuven when Adriaan De Raymaeker and Wolf Overloop decided to head up to the attic that Pektop (Adriaan’s former band) used to rehearse. Deep, dark, heavy riffs were made and quite possibly enjoyed by several blocks of flats and houses around the building. Deciding that the time had come to widen the scope of Dorre, a more serious approach was taken to write long pieces of music that incorporated every aspect of each musician. A cohesion of doom, noise, psychedelic rock, blues and stoner was organically formed between the two guitars and the drums.

Copenhagen based sludge/doom 5 piece Bethmoora, has existed for about a year in its current form, all members with experience from previous bands. Huge riffs, bludgeoning rhythms and disturbing vocals are key elements of the slow descent. The lyrics of Bethmoora’s tracks revolve around a common theme – a mythos that singer Anders has created. Deities, entities, occult rituals and eternal strife are all key ingredients of this vast, ever expanding, imaginary dark world.

Dorre & Bethmoora Split LP preorder

Dorre on Thee Facebooks

Dorre on Bandcamp

Bethmoora on Thee Facebooks

Bethmoora on Bandcamp

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Dorre and Bethmoora Split LP Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The common thread between Dorre and Bethmoora is an affinity for the extreme. Dorre, from Belgium, showed it with noisy post-metallic edge that they brought to their 2015 half-hour-long single-song EP One Collapsed at the Altar, while Denmark’s Bethmoora seem to be geared toward a rawer onslaught of sludge and doom, topped by vicious screams and growls as evidenced in their Demo 2016, which is comprised of two songs.

Their contribution to the split, “Succumb,” consumes a single side on its own, while Dorre have two tracks on offer. Both groups mixed with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio. No audio yet, so I included both bands’ latest releases from their respective Bandcamps:

Dorre-Bethmoora-LP-cover

Dorre/Bethmoora split LP

In 2015 Dorre played a select set of shows as build-up towards an EP release in December. The EP was made and released following a first stint outside of the borders, touring throughout England and Scotland in January of 2016 and sharing the stage with many great bands. Now, more than ever, Dorre is focused on creating dark, heavy music and playing immense live sets. Dorre have been confirmed for another show in London with Serpent Venom and are headlining the mainstage of Somatic Festival in Wakefield in November.

Copenhagen based sludge/doom 5 piece Bethmoora, has existed for about a year in its current form, all members with experience from previous bands. Huge riffs, bludgeoning rhythms and disturbing vocals are key elements of the slow descent.

The lyrics of Bethmoora’s tracks revolve around a common theme – a mythos that singer Anders has created. Deities, entities, occult rituals and eternal strife are all key ingredients of this vast, ever expanding, imaginary dark world.

Tracklist:
Side A:
Dorre – Three Fell from the Sky
Dorre – Four Walked into the Ocean
Side B:
Bethmoora – Succumb

Dorre:
Adriaan De Raymaeker (Guitars)
Erik Heyns (Guitars)
Wolf Overloop (Drums)

Bethmoora:
Anders Kofod (Vocals)
Henrick Lyck (Guitars)
Martin Korff (Drums)
Morten Leerhøy (Guitars)
Sune Westh Svendsen (Bass)

Dorre’s tracks recorded at Magnet Records by Jean-Pol Van Ham and Johan Breton. Bethmoora’s tracks recorded at Wolf Rider Sound Production by Patrick Fragtrup. All tracks mixed at Skyhammer Studio by Chris Fielding. All tracks mastered by James Plotkin. Cover artwork by Diaz Inigo.

Please note that ALL pre-orders will be online on http://shop.dor.re.

http://www.facebook.com/dorreofficial
http://dor.re
http://dorre.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/doomedbethmoora
http://www.bethmoora.com
http://doomedbethmoora.bandcamp.com

Dorre, One Collapsed at the Altar (2015)

Bethmoora, Demo 2016

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