Five Essential Records of the Skyhammer Studio Era

Posted in Features on July 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

skyhammer studio chris fielding feet

excel template business plan : Buy essays online cheap — Buy cheap papers | Pay for essay writing • Essay writer service. Skyhammer Studio operated between August 2013 and February 2019, and in that five-plus-year period, became the essential recording space of UK heavy. Founded in the village of Childer Thornton by University assignments are a big challenge, but we can guide you. Let's find out Where can I buy essays online? Sudoku term paper vampires is a can Conan guitarist/vocalist native american research paper Health Insurance Business Plan research paper writing competition 2012 essay customer service in banking industry analysis Jon Davis and producer and What Is An Abstract When Writing A Paper. Since 1989 our certified professional essay writers have assisted tens of thousands of clients to land great jobs and Conan bassist/vocalist My friend told me this service Have Someone Best Resume Writing Services 2014 Qualification and that is why I can pay to Write My Essay for Me UK. Chris Fielding — who had already made a name for himself at Find out the pros of hiring the best see urling service and how it can help you achieve your goals. Foel Studios, working with Great my review heres are here for you! We are ready to offer you professional writers who will do their best to help you with creating a perfect PhD Electric Wizard, Homepage provides editing and proofreading services for all types of academic essays & assignments. We are based in Canada. Get a free, instant price Primordial, and others — it marked a moment of arrival and self-sufficiency for the UK underground that was already booming with homegrown acts before and since the advent of Can I pay someone to Thesis On Public Service? Hire us if you are looking to earn an A or B for your homework Desertfest in 2012.

In more extreme fare, one hears about InnovGene Primary Resources Homework Chennai provides PhD Dissertation Services for PhD Scolars of Engineering, Management, Computer Scince, Arts and Science Sunlight Studio as an anchor of the Swedish death metal sound. I firmly believe that in the years the come, the ‘Skyhammer Sound’ — a particular blend of tectonic tonal weight and spaciousness — will be viewed in much the same way, and that MY ACCEPTED STANFORD ESSAYS (and other essay college process and my experience at reviewed Uw Madison Creative Writing will be the Fielding‘s work behind the board for a wide swath of bands has helped define the current generation of UK-based heavy bands as much as any band’s influence newer groups might be working under.

Since http://www.healthlink.cz/?dissertation-topics-in-criminology. Essay and Resume Service provides professional writing services for students, executive, management and entry level Skyhammer closed, People writeorderresearch essays inwell.order to. He was known gardens, two orchards.. webassign online homework >>>CLICK HERE<<< Hey who Fielding has continued his work back at educational research proposal - Forget about those sleepless nights working on your report with our academic writing assistance If you want to find out how to Foel — one very much looks forward to the next LP from Best professional best help essay writer company is at your service. We help students write academic essays and papers from scratch in just a few clicks Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, which he’ll produce there — but with the easy encapsulation that considering a Skyhammer-era makes, it seems only appropriate now that it’s been more than year since it ended to take a look at some of the most essential albums that came out of that place and that time.

It’s not an easy list to choose from, and I admit, part of the impetus behind doing this was to get a complete (or as complete as possible) list of the releases that came out of Skyhammer. You’ll note the headline doesn’t say “The Five Essential…” and that’s for good reason. The list Fielding was kind enough to send over when I asked for it is staggering, and from Coltsblood and The Wounded Kings to Alunah and Stubb and Pist to Bismarck, it shows not only how Skyhammer became a defining point for UK heavy, but reached beyond those borders as well.

I’m not going to tell you not to chase down anything you see below — or even to catch ’em all, Pokemon-style — but I’ve set the goal for myself to pick five, so that’s what I’m sticking to.

Here goes, alphabetized by year:

Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen (2014)

serpent venom of things seen and unseen

I mean, how do you say no to this? Serpent Venom, along with fellow Skyhammer vets Iron Void, connect the studio right into the mainline vein of classic British doom. Serpent Venom‘s 2014 outing, Of Things Seen and Unseen (review here) gracefully blends those stylistic impulses with a richness to tone that gives the vocals a genuine space in which to reside, and though relatively speaking it was earlier days for Skyhammer, Fielding had already long since proved the room could capture a huge sound. Serpent Venom made the most of it. Now if only they might be somehow convinced to do a follow-up.

Undersmile, Anhedonia (2015)

undersmile anhedonia

Yeah, okay. I’ll admit that Oxfordshire four-piece Undersmile are somewhat on the brain after their late-2019 reunion, but with their 2015 album, Anhedonia (review here) — released on Jon DavisBlack Bow Records, in addition to being recorded at Skyhammer — the band demonstrated that not only could gargantuan, tidal-proportioned riffs find their way to tape at the studio, but also that a corresponding melodic resonance could take place. Listen to the vocal harmonies. And listen to the open-feeling space in which they reside, even early in album-opener “Labyrinths.” The point is made quickly through genuine immersion, and while of course the band’s songwriting has to get a massive credit for that, their choice of producer and studio definitely plays in as well.

Conan, Revengeance (2016)

conan revengeance

Obviously a Conan record needs to be on this list, and really, take your pick from among the three they recorded there. There’s no wrong answer. Fielding had produced Conan at Foel since their first EP, but 2016’s Revengeance (review here) marked his first appearance in the band as bassist/vocalist, so that’s why I chose it. Of course that and it’s fucking crushing, but again, Conan did 2014’s Blood Eagle (review here) and 2018’s Existential Void Guardian (review here) at Skyhammer too. They all bear the mark of records made in a studio built to suit the band’s express purposes. In fact, screw keeping the list to five. Just listen to all three.

Slomatics, Future Echo Returns (2016)

slomatics future echo returns

Another Black Bow release, and god damn, I love this record. Future Echo Returns (review here) was the last installment of a trilogy for Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Slomatics, and they could hardly have brought that particular storyline to a close in grander fashion. The sheer plod of the riffs and the reaches that their synth and melodies covered seemed to show the best of what Skyhammer could do with something truly bone-shakingly loud. From the depths of its somehow-bassless low end to the effects spreading out across the 10-minute closer “Into the Eternal,” Future Echo Returns, like Revengeance earlier that year, was just a case of the absolute right band with the absolute right producer. Slomatics also did songs for two splits at Skyhammer, with Holly Hunt and Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, which brings me to…

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Yn Ol I Annwn (2019)

mammoth weed wizard bastard yn ol i annwn

Issued through New Heavy Sounds, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard‘s 2019 third full-length, Yn Ol I Annwn (review here), is a cosmic sci-fi doom masterstroke. Part of what it emphasizes is similar to Slomatics — the blend of space and weight — but especially in the case of Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard‘s latest offering, it’s right down to the sheer impact of the drums. Yeah, the tones are there, and of course Jessica Ball‘s vocals add a lushness that plays to the otherworldly themes around which the album is based, but hell’s bells, those drums sound incredible. How many snare sounds can you really call “thick?” Yn Ol I Annwn seemed to find new depths and new reaches alike for Skyhammer, affirming the studio’s strengths and pushing its limits beyond where they’d gone before.

10 More for the Hell of It:

Coltsblood, Into the Unfathomable Abyss
Stubb, Cry of the Ocean
Hooded Menace, Darkness Drips Forth
The Wounded Kings, Visions in Bone
Alunah, Solennial
Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch
Iron Void, Excalibur
Slomatics/Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Totems
Bismuth, The Slow Dying of the Great Barrier Reef
Belzebong, Light the Dankness

Let’s be honest. They’re not all going to be gold, right? And I’m not going to sit here and tell you everything Fielding helmed at Skyhammer is a future classic your grandkids are going to ask you about. That’s just unrealistic. But Skyhammer became an epicenter for UK (and beyond) heavy, and whether it was a rock band like Stubb looking to draw out new soul in their sound or an absolute mauler like BongCauldron trying to maximize the onslaught of their sludge, Skyhammer was able to help make good bands better.

I said already that Fielding has continued and will continue to produce bands at Foel Studios, and I want to say it again, if only to point out that while the Skyhammer era may be over, both Fielding and the UK heavy underground continue to flourish and realize material of staggering quality and sonic variety.

Straight from Fielding‘s notes, here’s the Skyhammer discography:

Skyhammer Studio Discography:

Bast – Spectres
Throne – Where Tharsis Sleeps
Coltsblood – Into The Unfathomable Abyss
Nathicana – Dark Spirits And Violence
Serpent Venom – Of Things Seen And Unseen
Conan – Blood Eagle
Ageless Oblivion – Penthos
Mononoke – Tom Finigan
Jonny Keeley – Fallen Trees
Intensive Square – Anything That Moves
Green Horn – Doomhawk
Pist – Riffology
Stubb – Cry Of The Ocean
Northern Oak – Of Roots And Flesh
Abomnium – Solace For The Condemned
Electric Wizard – Time To Die
Kill All The Gentlemen – Rebellion
Masochist – Condemned To Grovel
Winterfylleth – The Divination Of Antiquity
Headless Kross – Volumes
Slomatics – Ulysses, My Father
Yanomamo – Minions
SSS – Limp. Gasp. Collapse
Mage – Last Orders
Nuclear Weasels – Bring To Mind
Greenhorn – Like Rows Of Crooked Teeth
Dead Existence – Endless Misery
Of Spire & Throne – Sanctum In The Light
Undersmile – Anhedonia
The Bendal Interlude – Reign Of The Unblinking Eye
Burning Flag – S/T
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Noeth Ac Anoeth
1968 – EP
Iron Void – Doomsday
Witchsorrow – No Light, Only Fire
Latitudes – Old Sunlight
Hooded Menace – A View From The Rope (Split Release w/Loss)
Hooded Menace – Darkness Drips Forth
Darkest Era – An Dagda
Bismuth – Unavailing
The Wounded Kings – Visions In Bone
Conan – Revengeance
Boss Keloid – Herb Your Enthusiasm
Garganjua – A Voyage In Solitude
Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter
Pist – Rhythm & Booxe
Mourning Beloveth – Rust & Bone
Kill All The Gentlemen – The Faustian Delusion
Hung On Horns – Slaves
Sons Of Balaur – Tenebris Deos
Battalions – Nothing To Lose
Warcrab – Scars Of Aeons
Slomatics – Future Echo Returns
XII Boar – Beyond The Valley Of The Triclops
Razor Sharp Death Blizzard – You Will Burn
1968 – Fortuna Havana
Tides Of Sulphur – Extinction Curse
Farseer – Fall Before The Dawn
Iron Witch – A Harrowed Dawn
DDENT – DDENT
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Y Proffwyd Dwyll
Dorre/Bethmoora – Split 12”
Widows – Oh Deer God
Coltsblood – Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness
Nine Covens – Single
Foetal Juice – Masters Of Absurdity
BongCauldron – Binge
Monolith Cult – Gospel Of Despair
Alunah – Solennial
Mage – Green
Bismuth – Split w/Gnaw Their Tongues & Split w/Legion Of Andromeda
Dirt Forge – Soothsayer
Burning Flag – Izabel
Grey Widow – II
Strangle Wire – The Dark Triad
Stubb – Burning Moon Single
Abomnium – A Hollow Path
Battalions – Moonburn
DDENT – Toro
Twelve Boar – No Forgiveness
Godeater – Outerstellar
Garganjua – Through The Void
Winterfylleth – The Hallowing Of Heirdom
Witchsorrow – Hexenhammer
Kill All The Gentlemen – The Loss And The Rapture
Boss Keloid – Melted On The Inch
Iron Void – Excalibur
Conan – Existential Void Guardian
Eliminator – Last Horizon
Celtachor – Fiannaiocht
Slomatics/Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Totems
Bismuth – The Slow Dying Of The Great Barrier Reef
Indica Blues – Hymns For A Dying Realm
Bismarck – Urkraft
Bast – Nanoangstrom
Kurokuma – Dope Rider
Jo Quail – Exsolve
Necronautical – Apotheosis
Latitudes – Part Islands
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn
Barbarian Hermit – Solitude And Savagery
WarCrab – Damned In Endless Night
Orbital Junction – EP
Battalions – Forever Marching Backwards
NNRA – Incarne
Alunah – Amber & Gold
Ungraven – Language Of Longing
Dorre – Fall River
Belzebong – Light The Dankness
Mourning Beloveth – Split w/Ruins Of Beverast
Atavist – III: Absolution
Duskwood – The Long Dark
Mage – Key to the Universe
Bismarck – Oneiromancer
Madmess – ST

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Ungraven Add Live Drummer; Playing Desertfest Belgium

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The fact that Conan‘s Jon Davis has a couple shows coming up, including Desertfest Belgium, with Ungraven and has added a drummer to what was formerly just a solo affair is some deceptively telling news. Anyone who has ever seen a list of Conan tour dates or heard any of the string of records Davis has released through his Black Bow imprint or been even moderately aware of his Blackskull Services management company — also I think he was driving bands around on tour for a while there — knows he’s not the type to do something half-assed. If he’s getting a drummer for Ungraven, it’s because he’s got longer-term plans than just the next couple weeks. Maybe I’m wrong, but that kind of says to me he’s thinking of taking it on tour.

Hardest working person in doom? Yeah, he just might be. I’m not sure who else has so much on their plate.

From the PR wire:

ungraven

UNGRAVEN ANNOUNCE LIVE LINE-UP

Jon Davis, (Conan) is pleased to announce that he will be playing live shows with his solo project UNGRAVEN. He will be joined by Tyler Hodges of Tuskar on drums for all future live dates.

So far the duo is confirmed to play both Desertfest Belgium and Aalborg in Denmark.

Both dates will be in support of the recently released of the debut release “The Language of Longing” which was released a few months ago.

Jon commented “Delighted to welcome Tyler Hodges to the lineup. He really gets what I’m trying to do with this material-Together we are UNGRAVEN!”

He further commented on The Language of Longing “I am a huge fan of Fudge Tunnel, Ministry, Godflesh, Sepultura and Nailbomb. I fell in love with ‘For All Those Who Died’ by Bathory on Headbangers Ball and also the ‘Speed Kills’ comp. Since then I have referenced these bands in some of Conan’s material. With Ungraven I pay homage to the industrial sounds emanating from Birmingham in the 90s with a few other influences that I’ve been obsessing over for a while. It’s super heavy but sightly different from what I have done so far.”

Listen to The EP here: https://ungraven.bandcamp.com/album/language-of-longing

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https://www.instagram.com/thisisungraven/
https://ungraven.bigcartel.com/
https://ungraven.bandcamp.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/
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https://www.facebook.com/Black-Bow-Records-565275456841866/

Ungraven, Language of Longing (2019)

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Conan to Release Horseback Battle Hammer and Blood Eagle Picture Discs

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

conan

These exist and are out on Black Bow Records in November. I’m guessing that if you’ve ever heard either of these superlatively heavy offerings from Conan, that’s probably all the info you need. If you’d like some more though, you might chew on the fact that they come with hand-written lyric sheets or that they’re super-limited in number or that the albums fucking rule or whatever else you want. Or maybe you’d like to do what I’m doing, which is basically use this post as an excuse to spend an hour or two with some of the most righteous riffs the last decade has produced? Yeah, that’s kind of what I figured.

It’s fucking Conan. What more do you want?

Conan to release picture disc versions of classic albums

Legendary British doom band CONAN are pleased to announce that they will release limited edition picture discs of their classic albums Horseback Battle Hammer and Blood Eagle.

Both albums are set to be released in November 2019.

Order Horseback Battle Hammer via Big Cartel: https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/product/conan-horseback-battle-hammer-picture-disk

Or Bandcamp: https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/album/horseback-battle-hammer

4 brutally heavy slabs of Caveman Battle Doom. Thought of by some as a key moment in the resurgence of ‘modern day’ doom metal.

Picture disks are regular vinyl records but through the middle of the pressed record is a paper sheet with the artwork on. On some picture disks the sound can be less than perfect, but only with certain coloured vinyl and these do not fall into that category.

FIRST 50 ORDERS COME WITH HAND WRITTEN LYRIC SHEET, NOT A PHOTOCOPY.

Order Blood Eagle via Big Cartel: https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/product/conan-blood-eagle-picture-disk

Or Bandcamp: https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/album/blood-eagle

Blood Eagle is one of Conan’s finest moments. Adding motion and pace to the bludgeoning of Monnos, it quickly rose to the top of most learned doom fan’s lists.

Here we have a ltd edition picture disk copy, in heavy duty plastic sleeve.

***LIMTED TO 150 COPIES WITH INDIVIDUAL HANDWRITTEN LYRIC SHEET*** – NOT A PHOTOCOPY…….. Some copies may contain mistakes.

Lineup:
Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

http://www.hailconan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hailconan/
https://www.instagram.com/hailconan/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Black-Bow-Records-565275456841866/

Conan, Horseback Battle Hammer (2010)

Conan, Blood Eagle (2014)

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Friday Full-Length: Conan, Horseback Battle Hammer

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It was only four songs — “Krull,” “Satsumo,” “Dying Giant” and “Sea Lord” — but Conan‘s 2010 EP, Horseback Battle Hammer (review here), was nothing less than a breakthrough, for doom as much as for them as a part of it. The UK-based trio had issued the Battle in the Swamp demo in 2007 and another demo in 2010, but their work on the first EP was the type to earn immediate hyperbole because it was so hyperbolic. It was the omega doom. The doom to end all doom. None heavier. Everyone go home. Conan wins. It’s over. Even today, as a whole league of acts have picked up on their tonal cues and attempted to manifest a similar affect, one can count on a hand the number who’ve managed to do so while manifesting such a sense of utter triumph.

Because that’s the thing about Conan‘s earlier work that often gets lost in the story of how heavy they were. They weren’t just heavy — they were also about heavy. Conan conquered and told tales of conquest. “Worship Krull, within the mountain,” “Bodies flow to the bottom,” “Oceans of graves ebb and flow,” “Sea be lifted sithen” — these lines about struggle and death, worship and the ocean seemed to rise up out of the very murk Conan were creating with their instruments. Founded by guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis, whose voice even then had a surprisingly melodic timbre even in its shouts on “Sea Lord,” with bassist/vocalist John Paul McNulty (now of Coltsblood) and drummer Paul O’Neill, Conan‘s very mission from the start seemed to be to throw down that gauntlet of heavy. From the very launch of “Krull” from the initial wash of cymbals, the focus was clear on what Conan were doing. ‘Heavy’ wasn’t just a tool in their arsenal; it was the foundation of their aesthetic, and they cast it out with superlative revelry, creating a sound that was extreme in its darkness without being a heavy metal caricature and genuinely broadening the scope of what weighted tonality could accomplish.

I don’t think that’s overstating it. Davis has said on multiple occasions he was working under a heavy Slomatics influence, and yeah, that story checks out, and one could likewise argue he was playing to some degree off Floor‘s prior harvesting of the “bomb tone,” but even so, what he did with that influence was his own from the start, and that’s written all over the ensuing rumble of Horseback Battle Hammer. And it’s easy to paint him as the auteur of Conan because he’s the lone remaining original member, but from the swing in O’Neill‘s drumming as “Krull” picked up the tempo at its finish and moved into the holy-shit-did-that-just-happen roll of “Satsumo,” to the tradeoffs made to the lower-register shouts from McNulty — a model Conan would follow with subsequent bassists Phil Coumbe and Chris Fielding — the complete band contributed to the onslaught at all times. “Dying Giant” was a perfect example as McNulty took the forward vocal role at the midpoint and the whole band seemed to emerge from the willful muck of that cut’s early going — not to mention the far-back gutturalisms that pervaded from there and the final surge, with accompanying double-kick from O’Neill.

conan horseback battle hammer

Was Conan metal? Oh yes. But instead of beating their chest to tell you about it, they were stomping your skull.

To wit, “Sea Lord.” The only cut on Horseback Battle Hammer to top 10 minutes, it started at an especially grueling pace and instead of taking off at any point, it really just descended into noise and became even filthier by the close. It took its own extremity, its own inaccessibility, and turned it into a clarion, and not only did it do so at just the right time to capture the attention of an emerging mobile social media landscape — something out of the band’s direct control, but which they’ve made work for them just the same — but it came from a place that was for the underground by the underground in a way the previous generation of acts simply couldn’t have been. Conan were something new when something new was needed, and their work was unto itself in its execution and rawness, its purposefully simple, impressionistic lyrics telling stories of violence in lines that sometimes didn’t need to be more than one or two words as the telling itself became so much a part of the narrative, with voices buried under a wall of riffs that other bands are still trying to climb. You listened to it and knew it was something special. I think you still do.

The vinyl was on Throne Records and the first CD on Aurora Borealis, but Horseback Battle Hammer has been reissued a couple times, including by Head of Crom Records, Conan‘s current label Napalm Records and Davis‘ own Black Bow Records, so it’s readily available (like on Bandcamp; see above). Of course, Conan released their split with Slomatics (review here) and then signed to Napalm before offering their debut full-length, Monnos (review here), in 2012. From there, the world was pretty much theirs for the spoils. They toured hard in Europe and set a foundation of American fandom before crossing the Atlantic, and across their next three albums — 2014’s  Blood Eagle (review here), 2016’s Revengeance (review here) and last year’s Existential Void Guardian (review here) — they’d move away from some of the all-out tonal bludgeoning of Horseback Battle Hammer, but hold firm to the central modus the EP laid forth.

With Davis, Fielding on bass and Johnny King on drums, Conan just wrapped another string of US touring that included a stop to headline the final night of Maryland Doom Fest (review here), where yes, they dominated, and they’ll tour again this Fall in Europe, playing Desertfest Belgium, Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, Soulstone Gathering and much more besides. And even as Davis has begun to show off a ’90s noise fetish in Ungraven and founded the Blackskull Services management/promotion company, which he runs in addition to Black Bow Records — shooting for that “hardest working man in show business” thing — writing has also reportedly started on Conan‘s fifth long-player which is currently expected through Napalm in May 2020. Mark your calendars, kids.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Today at 1PM Eastern is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It’s a good one. Don’t miss out: http://gimmeradio.com

Holy crap there’s a lot going on next week. Here are the notes:

MON 08/05 HOLY GROVE PLAYLIST; THE LEGENDARY FLOWER PUNK VID PREMIERE; THE GRAND MAL PREMIERE/ANNOUNCE
TUE 08/06 OBLIVION REPTILIAN REVIEW; MONSTROID VIDEO PREMIERE
WED 08/07 NOTHING IS REAL TRACK PREMIERE
THU 08/08 FROZEN PLANET 1969 REVIEW
FRI 08/09 HELLSINGLAND UNDERGROUND VID PREMIERE

Busy. You know how it goes.

Feeling a little vulnerable after the essay I put up before, but I guess that’s to be expected. Week was up and down. We took off on Wednesday and went to watch the Yankees play the Diamondbacks with my oldest nephew and my cousin and mother-in-law and The Pecan, who I think had a good time. It started to rain in the middle of the game and we left. I was running with his stroller in the downpour with my cousin and nephew and it was a lot of fun. Something we’ll tell The Pecan about when he’s older and goes to games. He already knows the words “bat,” “ball” and “mitt.” He has a little tee in the living room and he hits balls off it and claps for himself. It’s awesome, though as yet I’m having trouble getting him to throw left-handed.

Always work for a lefty out of the bullpen. And if you can throw a knuckeball, you can live forever.

But hey, baseball, right?

Nice deflection.

I hope you enjoyed that Conan above. It’s kind of interesting to me to close out the week with records I wrote about a long time ago. I’ve been doing “Friday Full-Length” since like 2013 or something like that, and for a while I didn’t want to do anything from after I’d started the site, but yeah that’s pretty much gone out the window. There’s just too much out there to not, and when it’s something I reviewed at the time, it gives me a chance to look at it in a different context — as in this case — and I think that’s interesting. I hope you agree. Plus, there’s always other stuff I missed at the time and this gives me another shot at it. So yeah. As far as I’m concerned it’s all fair game now.

I’ve also started plotting out the next Quarterly Review. Five days so far and I’m going to see if I can’t keep it to that. I’m thinking Sept. 16-20, maybe? We’ll see.

Alright, that’s gonna do it for me. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thanks again for reading, please don’t forget the Gimme show if you get to check it out and please hit up the forum, Radio and merch.

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Friday Full-Length: Anathema, Alternative 4

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Anathema, Alternative 4 (1998)

 

When I was 18 years old and working at KB Toys store number #1051 at the intersection of Rt. 10 and 202 in Morris Plains, NJ, about a minute from where I’ll be living from now on, a coworker turned me onto Anathema‘s Alternative 4. I bought the CD on his say-so, put it on, heard the piano intro to “Shroud of False” and absolutely didn’t get it. Made no sense to my brain. I tossed the disc into the back of my 1988 Ford Bronco II and it stayed there probably for a few weeks until I finally decided to give it a real shot, and when I did, it was one of my first and most pivotal engagements with underground music, and something that helped set me listening-wise on the course I’m still on today. That coworker kind of turned out to be an asshole, but didn’t we all.

Alternative 4 was indeed Anathema‘s fourth album and the last they’d issue during their original run on Peaceville Records, which had nursed them through their death-doom beginnings from 1992’s The Crestfallen EP across their 1993 debut, Serenades, 1995’s The Silent Enigma and Pentecost III EP and 1996’s Eternity. The band, who will mark their 30th anniversary in 2020 no doubt with form of some celebration or other, already seemed to be in transition by their third album, but it was the 10-song/44-minute Alternative 4 that would push that over the top. Guitarist Vincent Cavanagh had taken over the vocalist role from Darren White following Pentecost III, and that change would prove crucial to their direction on the whole, incorporating elements of goth emotionalist drama and a heavy hand of Floydian progressivism to go with their depressive themes and bouts of still-metal intensity.

But they weren’t just metal anymore, and their use of space in the recording, their arrangements of keys, and most of all their patience, demonstrated that. “Shroud of False” was the outset of one of the most powerful salvos I’ve ever heard on a record, with “Fragile Dreams,” “Empty” and “Lost Control” behind it varying in intensity but united in their depressive expression. Themes of loss, betrayal, disillusionment came to a head in the third anathema alternative 4track: “Nothing left but to kill myself again ‘cos I’m so empty,” but the build to that moment across “Fragile Dreams” and “Empty” itself was gorgeous and troubling in kind, the hook of “Fragile Dreams” serving as a downer clarion as the then-four-piece of Vincent Cavanagh, his brother Danny Cavanagh (lead guitar, keys), Duncan Patterson (bass, keys) and Shaun Taylor-Steels (drums) pushed some of Alternative 4‘s most fervent delivery to the front in order to branch out from there. The violin on “Lost Control” seemed a nod to their own death-hued past as well as to compatriots My Dying Bride, and the thrust in “Re-Connect” was more chaotic than that of “Fragile Dreams,” and purposefully so, but frenetic in a way that evoked the chaos of mania it seemed intended to convey.

Piano returned to introduce “Inner Silence” at the outset of side B as Vincent proved in a single track the vocalist he would ultimately become on subsequent outings, and Danny answered right back with a winding and meditative guitar lead. No verses or choruses or such, but an arrangement that bordered on the orchestral in its wash — particularly given the production of the era — and a perfect lead-in for the darker and brooding low of the title-track, with its multi-movement immersion and play toward minimalism. It and “Regret,” which follows, were the two longest tracks on Alternative 4 at 6:18 and 7:58, respectively, and their pairing was no coincidence, and though “Regret” would pick up from “Alternative 4” with a memorable chorus and a more structured feel on the whole, there’s no question the change in atmosphere brought the listener even deeper into the record’s bleak emotional landscape — “Visions of love and hate/A collage behind my eyes/Remnants of dying laughter/Echoes of silent cries,” the hook. Organ added to the melody as the band traded between loud and quiet parts in the second half and came around to what for me always seemed like the apex of the album, though “Feel” both continued the thread of organ and had more of a crashing end, a kind of anti-doom doom, riding out on fading progression that seemed foreboding even though it was followed by the brief “Destiny,” with its guitar and toy piano and vocal harmonies, a kind of epilogue that ended the record with a sincere-feeling moment of contemplation, underscoring that the point of the whole thing all along was the emotion, and that the moments of bombast were there to serve that as much as the songs themselves.

Some music just hits you at the right time. This is one of those records for me, and A Fine Day to Exit (reissue review here), which they’d release in 2001 after 1999’s Judgement, is among my favorite albums of any era. I wasn’t ready for Judgement on such a quick turnaround, but A Fine Day to Exit and 2003’s A Natural Disaster, which would be their final album until 2010’s We’re Here Because We’re Here (discussed here), remain essential in my view. Alternative 4 may be somewhat dated in its production, but the songs themselves hold up more than 20 years later, and the emotion behind them still resonates though it’s a direction Anathema have long since left behind in favor of flirtations with more modern prog and a brighter perspective on the whole. Fair enough, I guess. That change would come about on We’re Here Because We’re Here and continue on 2012’s Weather Systems (review here) and 2014’s Distant Satellites before 2017’s The Optimist (review here) picked up the story of A Fine Day to Exit and added fresh perspective at the same time it allowed itself to engage more of a range of styles of craft.

Anathema have never stopped progression. Each record is something different from the one before it, the one after — and don’t get me started on Hindsight or Falling Deeper — but their vision always charts a path forward from where they’ve, and Alternative 4, from as troubled a place as it seems to come, was a special moment for them that only happened once. As a listener, it was for me as well.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

I don’t break out Anathema all the time. Especially not this record. Especially not in summer. This week though, coming down H-A-R-D as I have been from Maryland Doom Fest, we got there. That change, where you go back to real life after the thing, I just haven’t been able to get there. A lot of processing. A lot of sort of distant daydreaming. A lot of trying to distract myself and failing pretty hard at it. I don’t know. I’m just not there. I haven’t been sleeping. Was up at 2:30 this morning, 12:30 the other night, 1AM another night. Yesterday I slept I think. Hard to remember outside of the overall pattern of fucking self-loathing and wishing I was someone else.

When people say nice things to me, a voice in my head immediately contradicts. They don’t know me. They have some idea of me that’s not true. I’d like to be that. But that’s not who I am. I know who I am. Fucking wretched. I am not a good person. I do not appreciate or deserve the things and people I have in my life. It goes on and on. I take pills for it. I’ve been microdosing psilocybin mushrooms every other day for the last couple weeks and that’s made those days easier. But still. I look at my son and know I’ll fail him. Every time someone says he looks like me, I want to die. I look at my wife and know I let her down. I don’t deserve what I have. At all.

So.

We’re in Connecticut this weekend, going back to Jersey on Sunday. I might go to the studio with Solace that day, as they were kind enough to invite me as they did nine years ago when they were finishing A.D., but it depends largely on timing. We’re also starting the Quarterly Review next week. I’ve slated it for six days, but there’s a bit of finagling to do, so whatever. I also need to do Postwax liner notes, send out interview questions to Tony Reed and The Mad Doctors (who are breaking up) and update a visa recommendation letter for Kadavar, so there’s some shit going on either way. Obviously this week I’ve been super-motivated to do anything other than bash my brain in with a fucking hammer.

Baggage claim. That’s mine. Least I can do is be honest about it.

Seriously, at Doom Fest, people said like the nicest shit to me. “Thanks for all you do,” and “How do you do it” and all that. You know how I do it? I’m fucking crazy, is how I do it. I’m compulsive in EVERYTHING. The same drive that used to have me getting drunk by myself at two in the morning? The same drive that punishes myself for, I don’t know, eating a meal? It’s the same fucking thing. It’s all part of my disgusting fucking brain. I’m 37 years old. I can’t even function. I can’t even chew gum like a human being. I’m supposed to raise a kid? I can feel myself poisoning everything around me.

Next week will be better. Will it? Yeah, it will. I’ll do the Quarterly Review and that’ll get me out of my head for a little bit, give me something to focus on. It’s just exhausting in the meantime.

I’m gonna pour myself another coffee and go watch the sunrise. Great, safe. Forum, radio, merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Conan Announce Fall European Tour with Un & Sixes

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

conan

Conan have already hit the road hard this year, mostly the US where they’ve shared stages with Black Label Society, The Atomic Bitchwax and I don’t know how many others along the way. They’ll continue that thread starting in about two weeks at the Maryland Doom Fest — where I’m looking forward to seeing them — and they’ll do a run of headlining shows with Witchkiss after that, and now they’re announcing a headlining run with Un and Sixes for Europe this Fall that will begin at Desertfest Belgium on Oct. 20 and run through mid-November as they tear ass across the continent for the better part of a month.

My only question is whether they’ll have a new album out by the time that tour hits. You’ll recall at the start of the year they talked about a new release in 2019. I’ve no idea when they would have had time to record such a thing, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t yet or won’t after this next tour. I don’t know. Maybe their plans have changed. I hear plans do that sometimes.

Either way, the more eardrum decimation, the merrier, so here are the dates:

conan euro fall 2019

CONAN – !!!EUROPEAN TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

OCTOBER / NOVEMBER SHOWS.

We are delighted to head out into the mainland with two of the USA’s finest and heaviest bands.

Un and Sixes join us for what will be a very heavy run of shows…..

Conan Live:
June 23 Frederick, MD – Maryland Doom Fest
June 27 Portland, ME – Geno’s ^
June 28 Montreal, QC – Turbo Haus ^
June 30 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class ^
July 01 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups ^
July 02 Indianapolis, IN – Black Circle ^
July 05 Omaha, NE – Slowdown
July 06 Rapid City, SD – Haycamp Brewery
^ = w/Witchkiss

Conan Fall Tour w/ Un & Sixes:
20.10 Desertfest Antwerpen, Antwerpen, BE
21.10 Magasin 4, Brussels, BE
22.10 Schlachthof, Wiesbaden, DE
23.10 Junkyard, Dortmund, DE
24.10 Funbureau, Hamburg, DE
25.10 Alte Meierei, Kiel, DE
26.10 1000 Fryd, Aalborg, DK
27.10 Truckstop Alaska, Gotenborg, SE
28.10 Vega, Copenhague, DK
29.10 Zukunft Am Ostkreuz, Berlin, DE
31.10 Gazwerk, Winterthur, CH
01.11 Bad Bonn, Dudingen, CH
02.11 Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, Innbruck, AT
03.11 Legend Club, Milano, IT
04.11 Gala Hala, Ljubjlana, SL
05.11 Cluc Mocvara, Zagreb, HR
06.11 Arena, Vienna, AT
07.11 Durer kert, Budapest, HU
08.11 Kulturak, Bratislava, SK
09.11 Kabinet Muz, Brno, CZ
10.11 Soulstone Gathering Festival, Kravow, PL
11.11 Chemiefabrik, Dresden, DE
12.11 Underdogs, Praha, CZ
14.11 Baroeg, Rotterdam, NL
15.11 Gibus, Paris, FR

Lineup:
Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

http://www.hailconan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hailconan/
https://www.instagram.com/hailconan/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/hailconan
http://label.napalmrecords.com/

Conan, “Volt Thrower” official video

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Conan Add More Dates to North American Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

conan

UK trio Conan have been chipping away at the West Coast since the latter part of last month, and they’ll wrap up that run at SXSW ahead of heading out once more in April, this time in the company of The Atomic Bitchwax and Black Label Society for a tour that will end in May. THEN they’ll be back in the US AGAIN in June to play more dates around their stop headlining at Maryland Doom Fest 2019. That is a significant amount of touring and, unless they’ve opened up a US headquarters and I didn’t know about it — could happen — a significant amount of travel across the Atlantic to do it.

All of this is set to precede the arrival of their next studio album, which, if it was going to be out this Spring would most likely already have seen its release date announced. Maybe summer? Maybe fall? I don’t know, but Conan are for sure keeping busy as they head toward the release, which of course one looks forward to in that special way that one anticipates Conan records like a boot to the skull. Which is to say, yes, very much.

From the social medias:

conan updated poster

CONAN – NEW US DATES

Check out our dates during April / May / June / July…….

See you in the pit (or to one side with your arms folded, nodding your head).

CONAN Live:
March 12: Taos, NM @ Taos Mesa Brewery Mothership
March 13: El Paso, TX @ Rockhouse
March 15: Austin, TX SXSW @ Lost Well

Apr 24 Denver, CO – Oriental Theater #*
Apr 25 Denver, CO – Oriental Theater #*
Apr 27 Dallas, TX – Canton Hall #*
Apr 28 Dallas, TX – Canton Hall #*
Apr 30 Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall #*
May 01 Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall #*
May 02 Lexington, KY – Cosmic Charlie’s *
May 03 Chattanooga, TN – The Signal #*
May 04 Asheville, NC – Odditorium *
May 06 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom #*
May 07 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom #*
May 08 Hampton Beach, NH – Hampton Beach Casino #*
May 12 Richmond, VA – The National #*
May 13 Baltimore, MD – Ram’s Head Live #*
May 14 Toronto, ON – Opera House #*
May 15 Toronto, ON – Opera House #*
May 22 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theater #*
May 23 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theater #*
# = w/Black Label Society
* = w/Atomic Bitchwax

June 23 Frederick, MD – Maryland Doom Fest
June 27 Portland, ME – Geno’s ^
June 28 Montreal, QC – Turbo Haus ^
June 30 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class ^
July 01 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups ^
July 02 Indianapolis, IN – Black Circle ^
July 05 Omaha, NE – Slowdown
July 06 Rapid City, SD – Haycamp Brewery
^ = w/Witchkiss

Lineup:
Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

http://www.hailconan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hailconan/
https://www.instagram.com/hailconan/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/hailconan
http://label.napalmrecords.com/

Conan, “Volt Thrower” official video

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Conan Announce New Album for 2019; North American Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Conan make an early play for 2019 tour poster of the year with their 8-bit action that immediately sends the mind reeling with video game possibilities. Imagine an Altered Beast-style Conan game where you become The Sentinel and have to fight the Agoniser on your way to dominating the infinite. Or something. I don’t know. Battle axes would be involved and it would be sweet. I’d break out my USB Super Nintendo-knockoff controller for that. All the way.

Note that the Conan tour set for the earlier part of 2019 wraps up at SXSW. I would expect more plans for Austin to emerge — or not to emerge, if they’re secret plans as sometimes it goes with SXSW — between now and March. It’s been over a decade since I’ve been down that way, but at least the last time I was there, bands rarely showed up, played one gig, and split. Especially those who traveled some distance for it. If you’re going to SXSW, keep an eye out, is all I’m saying.

And of course, Conan have a DIY UK tour set for January as well that The Obelisk is co-presenting with Jon Davis‘ own Blackskull Services, and that’s more than nifty, so as they continue to support 2018’s Existential Void Guardian (review here), I don’t for one second imagine this will be the last tour they announce for the New Year — especially with a new album announced for release sometime in the next 12 months.

Shows are presented by Nanotear:

conan tour

**NEW ALBUM COMING IN 2019** Merry Xmas to all of you. Thanks for an awesome 2018, and here is to a great 2019. January 2019 is an important month for us because we start working on a follow up to Existential Void Guardian. SLAY EVERYONE.

We are delighted to work with Nanotear once more. Behold our US tour dates for Feb and March 2019.

ALL HAIL VOLT THROWER

02.21 Denver CO Hi-Dive
02.22 Salt Lake City UT Soundwell
02.23 Bozeman MT Zebra Lounge
02.25 Edmonton AB Temple
02.26 Calgary AB Palomino
02.28 Vancouver BC Astoria
03.01 Seattle WA Substation*
03.02 Portland OR High Water Mark*
03.03 Eugene OR Old Nick’s
03.04 Sacramento CA Blue Lamp*
03.05 San Francisco CA Parkside*
03.07 Los Angeles CA Catch One*
03.08 San Diego CA Brick by Brick*
03.09 Phoenix AZ Pub Rock
03.10 Albuquerque NM Sister Bar
03.13 El Paso TX Rockhouse
03.15 Austin SXSW Lost Well

Lineup:
Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

http://www.hailconan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hailconan/
https://www.instagram.com/hailconan/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/hailconan
http://label.napalmrecords.com/

Conan, “Volt Thrower” official video

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