Quarterly Review: My Dying Bride, Glowsun, Caustic Casanova, Dead Sea Apes, Bantoriak, Ahab, Zark, Pyramidal & Domo, Mammoth Salmon, Molior Superum

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-quarterly-review-fall-2015

One thing I’ve noticed over the now-several times I’ve done this is that people have a tendency to apply some value to the ordering. It’s true that I try to lead off with a bigger release sometimes (as with today), but beyond that, there’s really no statement being made in how the albums appear. It usually has way more to do with time, when something came in and when it was added to the list, than with the quality or profile of a given outing. Just that final note that probably should’ve been said on Monday. Whoops.

Before we wrap up, I just wanted to say thank you again for checking any of it out if you did this week. It’s not a minor undertaking to do these, but it’s been completely worth it and I very much appreciate your being a part of it. Thank you. As always.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #41-50:

My Dying Bride, Feel the Misery

my dying bride feel the misery

Led by founding guitarist Andrew Craighan and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe, UK doom magnates My Dying Bride mark their 25th year with Feel the Misery, their 13th full-length and one that finds them right in their element practicing the melancholic death-doom style they helped forge on pivotal early works like As the Flower Withers (1992) and Turn Loose the Swans (1993). “And My Father Left Forever” starts Feel the Misery on a particularly deathly note, but it’s not too long before the 10-minute “To Shiver in Empty Halls” and the subsequent “A Cold New Curse” are mired in the grueling, poetic, beauty-in-darkness emotionality that is My Dying Bride’s hallmark. The album’s title-track is a chugging bit of extremity, but the record’s strongest impact winds up being made by the penultimate “I Almost Loved You,” a piano, string and e-bow (sounding) ballad that pushes further than “A Thorn of Wisdom” by daring not to get heavy and rests well between the lumbering “I Celebrate Your Skin” and the 11-minute closer, “Within a Sleeping Forest,” which fits well, but more reinforces the point than offers something new on its own. A quarter-century later, they remain an institution. One wonders how they’ve managed to stay so depressed for so long.

My Dying Bride’s website

Peaceville Records store

Glowsun, Beyond the Wall of Time

glowsun-beyond-the-wall-of-time

If French mostly-instrumentalists Glowsun are feeling pressed for time these days – and with the theme of Beyond the Wall of Time (out via Napalm Records) that shows itself in the ticking clocks that launch opener “Arrow of Time” and the like-minded titles “Last Watchmaker’s Grave,” “Against the Clock” and “Endless Caravan” – the material itself doesn’t show it. Opening with two nine-minute cuts, Glowsun’s third outing and the follow-up to 2012’s Eternal Season (discussed here) unrolls itself patiently across its seven-track span, leading one to wonder if maybe Beyond the Wall of Time isn’t intended as another means of expressing something outside of it, the expanse of tones and grooves created by guitarist/vocalist Johan Jaccob (also graphic art), bassist Ronan Chiron and drummer Fabrice Cornille on “Shadow of Dreams” and the centerpiece “Flower of Mist” intended to last after some eternal now has passed. I wouldn’t want to guess, but it’s noteworthy that the trio’s output is evocative enough to lead toward such speculations.

Glowsun on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records store

Caustic Casanova, Breaks

caustic casanova breaks

As with their 2012 debut, Someday You Will be Proven Correct, Washington D.C.-based trio Caustic Casanova recorded their sophomore long-player, Breaks, with J. Robbins at The Magpie Cage in Baltimore. They’re also releasing the album through Kylesa’s Retro Futurist Records imprint, so they come nothing if not well-endorsed. With bassist Francis Beringer and drummer Stefanie Zaenker sharing vocal duties throughout – the trio is completed by Andrew Yonki on guitar – they run and bounce through a gamut of upbeat post-hardcore noise rock, thick in tone but not so much as to get up and move around, tempo-wise. Yonki brings some post-rock airiness to the early going of the nine-minute “Elect My Best Friend for a Better World,” but the album on the whole feels more about impact than atmosphere, and Caustic Casanova work up considerable momentum by the time they get around to paying off the 12-minute finale, “The Painted Desert.” Its melodies open up more on repeat listens, but not at the expense of the push so well enacted throughout.

Caustic Casanova on Thee Facebooks

Retro Futurist Records

Dead Sea Apes, Spectral Domain

dead sea apes spectral domain

An outwardly familiar conceptual framework – instrumental space/psychedelic rock – does little to convey how much of themselves Manchester, UK, trio Dead Sea Apes put into their new full-length, Spectral Domain. Released by Cardinal Fuzz in conjunction with Sunrise Ocean Bender, it’s the band’s sixth or seventh LP, depending on what counts as such, and bookends two north-of-10-minute explorations around three shorter pieces (though not much shorter in the case of the 9:50 “True Believers”) varied in color but uniformly galaxial in intent. “Brought to Light” rings out with a wash of drumless echo and swirl, seemingly in response to the tension of centerpiece “The Unclosing Eye,” and the whole album seems to take a theme from things seen and unseen, between “Universal Interrogator” and closer “Sixth Side of the Pentagon,” a vibe persisting in some conspiracy theory exposed as blissful and immersive truth with something darker lurking just underneath. Thick but not pretentious, Spectral Domain seems to run as deep as the listener wants to go.

Dead Sea Apes on Thee Facebooks

Sunrise Ocean Bender

Cardinal Fuzz Records

Bantoriak, Weedooism

bantoriak weedooism

A ritualistic spirit arrives early on Italian heavy psych rockers Bantoriak’s debut LP, Weedooism, and does not depart for the duration of the Argonauta Records release’s six tracks, which prove spacious, psychedelic and heavy in kind, playing out with alternating flourishes of melody and noise. “Try to Sleep” seems to be talking more about the band than the act, but from “Entering the Temple” through the rumbling closer “Chant of the Stone,” Bantoriak leave an individualized stamp on their heavy vibes, and that song is no exception. If Weedooism is the dogma they’re championing on the smooth-rolling “Smoke the Magma,” they’re doing so convincingly and immersively, and while they seem to have undergone a lineup shift (?) at some point since the record was done, hopefully that means Weedooism will have a follow-up to its liquefied grooves and weedian heft before too long. In an increasingly crowded Italian heavy psych/stoner scene, Bantoriak stand out already with their first album.

Bantoriak on Bandcamp

Bantoriak at Argonauta Records

Ahab, The Boats of the Glen Carrig

ahab-the-boats-of-the-glen-carrig

Though somewhat counterintuitive for a band playing their style of doom to start with, Ahab have only been met with a rising profile over their decade-plus together, and their fourth album for Napalm Records, The Boats of the Glen Carrig, answers three years of anticipation with an expanded sonic palette over its five tracks that is afraid neither of melodic sweetness nor the seafaring tonal heft and creature-from-the-deep growling that has become their hallmark. Their extremity is intact, in other words, but they’re also clearly growing as a band. I don’t know if The Boats of the Glen Carrig is quite as colorful musically as its Sebastian Jerke cover art – inevitably one of the best covers I’ve seen this year – but whether it’s the 15-minute sprawl of “The Weedmen,” which at its crescendo sounds like peak-era Mastodon at quarter-speed or the (relatively) speedy centerpiece “Red Foam (The Great Storm),” Ahab are as expansive in atmosphere as they are relentlessly heavy, and they’re certainly plenty of that.

Ahab on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records

Zark, Tales of the Expected

zark tales of the unexpected

One would hardly know it from the discouraging title, but all-caps UK progressive metallers ZARK do manage to catch one off-guard on their debut full-length, Tales of the Expected. Duly melodic and duly complex, the eight tracks rely on straightforward components to set deceptively lush vibes, the guitar work of Sean “Bindy” Phillips and Josh Tedd leading the way through tight rhythmic turns alongside bassist Andy “Bready” Kelley and drummer Simon Spiers’ crisp grooves. Vocalist Stuart Lister carries across the aggression of “LV-426” and hopefulness of “The Robber” with equal class, and while ZARK’s first outing carries a pretty ambitious spirit, the Evesham five-piece reach the high marks they set for themselves, and in so doing set new goals for their next outing, reportedly already in progress. A strong debut from a band who sound like they’re only going to get more assured as they move forward. More “pleasant surprise” than “expected.”

Zark on Thee Facebooks

Zark on Bandcamp

Pyramidal & Domo, Jams from the Sun Split

pyramidal and domo jams from the sun

Paired up by style almost as much as by geography, Alicante, Spain, acts Pyramidal and Domo picked the right title for their Jams from the Sun split – a bright, go-ahead-and-get-hypnotized psychedelic space vibe taking hold early on the Lay Bare Recordings release and not letting go as one side gives way to the other or as the noisy post-Hawkwindery of “Uróboros” closes out. Pyramidal, who made their debut in 2012 (review here), offer “Motormind” and “Hypnotic Psychotic,” two 10-minute mostly-instrumental jams that progress with liquid flow toward and through apexes in constant search for the farther-out that presumably they find at the end and that’s why they bother stopping at all, and Domo, who made their debut in 2011 (review here), counter with three cuts of their own, “Viajero del Cosmos,” “Mantra Astral” and the aforementioned “Uróboros,” switching up the mood a little between them but not so much as to interrupt the trance overarching the release as whole. I remain a sucker for a quality space jam, and Jams from the Sun has 45 minutes’ worth.

Pyramidal on Thee Facebooks

Domo on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings

Mammoth Salmon, Last Vestige of Humanity

mammoth salmon last vestige of humanity

After releasing a couple internet EPs (review here) and 2013’s Call of the Mammoth EP as the duo of guitarist/vocalist/bassist Paul Dudziak and drummer Mitch Meidinger, Portland, Oregon’s Mammoth Salmon enlist bassist Alex Bateman and drummer Steve Lyons for their first full-length, the Adam Pike-produced Last Vestige of Humanity, which rolls out plus-sized Melvinsery across six amp-blowing tracks of sludgy riffing and nodding, lumbering weight. The title-track, which ends what would and probably will at some point be side A of the vinyl version, picks up the tempo in its second half, and “Memoriam” teases the same in Lyons’ drums at the start, but of course goes on to unfold the slowest progression here ahead of “Shattered Existence”’s toying with playing barely-there minimalism off full-on crush and the 10-minute “Believe Nothing” rounding out with appropriately elephantine march. Sustainable in their approach and viciously heavy, Mammoth Salmon seem to have hit reset and given themselves a new start with this lineup, and it works to their advantage on this promising debut.

Mammoth Salmon on Thee Facebooks

Mammoth Salmon on Bandcamp

Molior Superum, Electric Escapism

molior superum electric escapism

“Karma is a bitch that will definitely hunt you down for what you have done,” would seem to be the standout message of “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife,” the third and longest (at 6:34) of the four inclusions on Molior Superum’s new EP, Electric Escapism. The non-retro Swedish heavy rockers fire up righteous heft to put them in league with countrymen Skånska Mord, but ultimately have more in common with Stubb out of the UK in the loose-sounding swing of “Försummad,” despite the different language. I had the same opinion about their full-length debut, Into the Sun (review here), and last year’s The Inconclusive Portrait 7” (review here) as well. Can’t seem to shake it, but Molior Superum’s ability to switch it up linguistics – they open and close in Swedish, with the two middle cuts in English – is an immediately distinguishing factor, and whichever they choose for a given song, they kill it here.

Molior Superum on Thee Facebooks

Molior Superum on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Glowsun Premiere “Behind the Moon” Video; Beyond the Wall of Time Due Soon on Napalm

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 28th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

glowsun

It starts out quiet and unassuming enough, but don’t be fooled. Lille, France, trio Glowsun will release their third full-length, Beyond the Wall of Time, this summer via Napalm Records, and the fuzz they proffer on “Behind the Moon” might begin softly, but the instrumental roll it soon undertakes is righteously grooved and fully toned. “Behind the Moon” is the first audio — also the first video — to come from Beyond the Wall of Time, so in addition to a visually creative look at the three-piece rocking out amid psychedelic imagery laced between and among the persons of guitarist/vocalist Johan Jaccob (also graphic art), bassist Ronan Chiron and drummer Fabrice Cornille, we’re also getting an early glimpse at what the album itself might, at least in part, have on offer.

And if the titles aren’t enough of a clue — Glowsun are “beyond” this, “behind” that — the song itself is all about movement. Turns are executed quickly and fluidly,glowsun beyond the wall of time but not without precision, and as the three-piece make their way over to the dark side, they do so fostering a balance between natural tones and a linear drive that takes them from their subdued beginning to a memorable stretch of chugging verses and chorus-style leads, sampling, and an open-structured creativity that seems to be focused on where “Behind the Moon” needs to go without coming off as forcing it to get there. They end louder and with more push than they started, but remain under control for the duration, and while it has its sense of space and remains entirely instrumental, the track never veers into all-out jamming. Glowsun seem to be on a different mission entirely.

All the better for signaling the promise the record holds. Beyond the Wall of Time is the follow-up to 2012’s Eternal Season (discussed here) and is out in North America on July 7. Please find the video for “Behind the Moon” on the player below, tailed by a few words from the PR wire, and enjoy:

Glowsun, “Behind the Moon” official video

French trio GLOWSUN are back with their third studio album and strongest record to date: Beyond The Wall Of Time! The sound and tone of the new album perfectly fits into Instrumental Psychedelic Rock realms. From the start the listener is kidnapped by the spherical sound, between enormous atmospheric compositions with pure rock riffs and psychedelic melodies that are perfectly intertwined.

Beyond The Wall Of Time will be released June 29th in the UK & July 7 in the US on Napalm Records! Get ready for this journey with Psychedelic Rockers GLOWSUN!

Glowsun’s website

Glowsun on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records

Napalm Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Glowsun Reveal Beyond the Wall of Time Cover and Release Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 6th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

glowsun

I was pretty late to the party in getting on board with the full-toned fuzz of Glowsun‘s 2012 outing, Eternal Season. Like two years late. But when I started hearing murmurs about a follow-up from the Lille, France, trio to be released this year on Napalm Records, I’ve been trying to the best of my very limited ability to keep an eye out for word about it. The band posted a couple studio updates on their Thee Facebooks, in the sort of standard operating procedure of our age, but over the weekend, they also revealed guitarist/vocalist Johan Jaccob‘s cover art for Beyond the Wall of Time, as well as the release dates when it will be out on Napalm, late June in most of Europe and early July in North America and elsewhere in Europe.

The cover art speaks for itself with its almost-steampunk gears, golden robot girl and the roses in her hair (a sort of natural spiral that works well alongside the gears). In January, when I included Glowsun on the list of 90 of 2015’s most anticipated releases, I said that I thought the album was self-titled and posted a different though also impressive piece of artwork with it. Rest assured, this is the actual cover art and title — I mean, unless Glowsun themselves are lying about it, which seems antithetical to the idea of promoting your band; not that it hasn’t been done before — and it will be out on the dates in the band’s announcement below:

glowsun beyond the wall of time

Hi there!! The time is coming to show you this awesome art-work by Johan Jaccob Artwork! For our 3rd Album “BEYOND THE WALL OF TIME” release on Napalm Records!

Here the Release date!

G/A/S/Europe/AUS: 26.06.2015
UK/NO/FR/DK/IT: 29.06.2015
SE/ESP: 01.07.2015
USA/CAN: 07.07.2015

Coming soon the complete Art-Work for the LP color vinyl.

https://www.facebook.com/Glowsunmusic
http://glowsun.fr/en
https://www.facebook.com/johanjaccobartwork
http://www.napalmrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Glowsun, “Arrow of Time” Live in Lille

Tags: , , , , ,

Buried Treasure: Glowsun, Eternal Season

Posted in Buried Treasure on December 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

glowsun-eternal-season-cd-cover

Some records just gnaw at you, and that’s the short version of the story of me and Eternal Season. The sophomore outing and Napalm Records debut from Lille, France-based trio Glowsun was released in 2012, and I got the usual digital promo of it at the time. I’d greatly enjoyed the 2011 split between Glowsun and German jammers Electric Moon, cleverly titled Sun and Moon (review here), but basically I didn’t want to dig into Eternal Season, wind up loving it and then have to chase down a copy. I kept up with the band as they did various fests — Keep it LowDesertfest — played shows alongside countrymen Mars Red Sky and released a video for “Lost Soul,” the third of the album’s eight tracks, but still never really sat with the record itself.

glowsun eternal season digipakFinally, just after Xmas, I saw their name somewhere again and popped onto Major Corporate Purveyor X™ to look for a deal, and there was one, so with a couple extra bucks in my account after the holiday, I finally decided to make it mine. It showed up in the mail today and as usual, I feel like twice the sucker for sleeping on it for so long. Glowsun — the trio of guitarist/vocalist Johan Jaccob (also responsible for the gorgeous artwork on the six-panel digipak), bassist Ronan Chiron and drummer Fabrice Cornille — proffer dense low end and airy psychedelics in kind, equally comfortable in long instrumental passages like those of “From the Sky” or “Dragon Witch” as they are in the chugging progressive rock of “Reverse” or the jabbing CD bonus track “No!,” which arrives after the closer of the album itself, “Money Time,” a song that could just as easily be named in homage to Monkey3 as for its primate samples.

“Lost Soul” effectively blends the various sides at work throughout, but at least what I’ve found in listening so far is that like their labelmates in My Sleeping KarmaGlowsun‘s Eternal Season is better taken as a whole, without so much of a focus on individual turns as on overarching atmosphere — of which it has plenty. A creepy opening in “Thing” gives way to driving heavy rock with vocals emerging after three minutes in, and “Sleepwaker” assaults with noise up front only to provide both Cornille‘s most satisfying glowsun eternal seasonperformance but an apex that functions to payoff the record as a whole in stylized fashion. From the gradual unfolding of opener “Death’s Face,” Chiron‘s basslines are the foundation on which the songs play out, but the variety of direction and consistency of tone make the listening experience as immersive as it is entrancing. That is, you can dig as deep as you might want to go, and there’s still substance to be found.

Along with a slot at 2015’s Hellfest and no doubt others, Glowsun have a new full-length slated for release in 2015. Might be needless to say — I will anyhow — but letting one of their records slip by me isn’t a mistake I’m going to make twice. I’m glad I finally caved and picked this one up.

Glowsun, Eternal Season (2012)

Glowsun on Thee Facebooks

Eternal Season at Napalm Records

Tags: , , , , ,

Glowsun Make Good with the B-Roll in New Video for “Lost Soul”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 14th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Fresh off a quick tour that included a stop at the Up in Smoke fest in Switzerland on Oct. 5, French trio Glowsun have unveiled a new video for the song “Lost Soul.” Taken from their Napalm Records debut, 2012’s Eternal Season, the track also appeared on their 2011 split with German megajammers Electric Moon (review here) and is a tonally rich, warm trip through much of what’s most enjoyable about modern European heavy psych, capturing both a free-flowing aural spirit and a precise sense of build throughout its relatively-brief under-five-minute course. The three-piece of Johan Jaccob (guitar), Ronan Chiron (bass) and Fabrice Cornille (drums), work quickly to affect a hypnotic groove without pretense, and once set on their path, they don’t waver.

Spiritually, it’s a jam, but “Lost Soul” doesn’t at all feel like it’s somewhere it doesn’t want to be. Glowsun have a few more tour dates lined up for this fall, including one at the Blue Moon fest in Germany with Monkey3, Intronaut and Grandloom, among others. Dig it:

Oct 20: Mondo Bizarro Rennes France
Oct 21: Glazart Paris France
Nov 29: Blue Moon Fest Cottbus Germany

Maybe you get to see them and maybe you don’t. Either way, you can still get a feel for what Eternal Season — which is currently in good company on my, “Why haven’t I bought this yet?” list of CDs — is about with the clip for “Lost Soul,” which doesn’t actually feature the band, but taps into some Cold War-era imagery of Chernobyl nuclear fallout and devastation thereof all the same, kind of like it’s the epilogue to everyone else’s video that shows the test footage of the Manhattan Project. Sound-wise, Glowsun operate in a similar heavy psych sphere as their Napalm labelmates My Sleeping Karma, with just an overwhelming touch of fuzz that pervaded the first Sungrazer album. As you can hear below, it’s not a combination to be ignored.

Enjoy:

Glowsun, “Lost Soul” official video

Glowsun on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records

Tags: , , ,

Wino Wednesday: Wino & Conny Ochs, “Traces of Blood” Live in Lille, France, 03.18.12

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 9th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

A lot of songs are memorable in the sense of making you go, “Oh yeah, that one.” Far fewer are haunting. It’s much rarer to have a track dig into you and implant itself in something primal in your emotions. When it comes to the early-2012 Heavy Kingdom (review here) collaborative album from Scott “Wino” Weinrich and German singer-songwriter Conny Ochs, there were a couple genuinely haunting songs. “Dark Ravine” comes to mind, as do “Somewhere Nowhere” and “Traces of Blood,” the Ochs-led melody of which might be the record’s most affecting.

I suppose you could argue in favor of others in that regard, but for the product of a duo, “Traces of Blood” offered perhaps the loneliest moment on Heavy Kingdom. No doubt a big part of that stems from Ochs taking the fore on vocals while Wino hangs back, but other cuts like “Labour of Love” and the semi-plugged “Vultures by the Vines” had arrangements that seemed almost bombastic in comparison. “Traces of Blood” was quiet, fragile, and the darkest moment the twosome would provide until side B’s “Here Comes the Siren.” As we see in the clip below taken from the Wino & Conny Ochs European tour in support of the album, while Ochs is handling the guitar progression and the vocals, Wino adds atmospheric depth via the e-bow, vibrating strings giving off a subtle hum throughout that’s almost like synth but immediately familiar all the same.

Rumor came through a while back of a second Weinrich/Ochs album in the works. Wino‘s schedule for much of 2013 having been tied up in reunion appearances with The Obsessed and ongoing Saint Vitus touring (I’m certainly not about to complain about either), I don’t know when they might get to putting material together for a follow-up to Heavy Kingdom, but hopefully sooner or later it happens. Particularly as a follow-up to Wino‘s solo acoustic debut, Adrift (review here), it expanded Wino‘s breadth as a performer and though he’s had a longer career, he seemed to revel in learning from Ochs as much as writing songs with him. I’d enjoy a chance to find out where their collaboration might go from there.

Enjoy “Traces of Blood” and have a great Wino Wednesday:

Wino & Conny Ochs, “Traces of Blood” Live at le Viziteur, Lille, France, March 18, 2012

Tags: , , , ,