Ungraven Announce Debut Album Due Spring 2019; New Solo-Project from Conan’s Jon Davis

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Sonic extremity is hardly a new realm for guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis of UK pummelers Conan, but with Ungraven, he takes something of a different approach. In the streaming demo “Blackened Gates of Eternity,” Davis taps into industrial-style repetitions and rhythms, still keeping a presence on guitar, but using it to different ends than in its main outfit. It’s no coincidence he’s wearing a Nailbomb t-shirt in the promo photo, and one imagines having recently joined Max Cavalera onstage only furthers that affection — to be fair, Point Blank was badass — but it should be interesting to see just how far Davis pushes Ungraven away from what Conan do and where the new outfit’s impending debut full-length — set to release in Spring of next year — takes him in terms of sound.

You can hear the demo at the bottom of this post, thanks to the wonders of the internet. The PR wire had this to say about it:

ungraven

JON DAVIS ANNOUNCES UNGRAVEN

Jon Davis of legendary British doom metal band CONAN is pleased to announce his new solo project UNGRAVEN which showcases his love of 90’s metal.

In Jon’s own words “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.”

UNGRAVEN’s debut album will be released in spring of 2019, but to celebrate the announcement, Davis has released the track “Blackened Gates of Eternity” on Bandcamp.

Listen to the song here: https://ungraven.bandcamp.com/album/demos

More information on UNGRAVEN will be coming soon.

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

Ungraven, “Blackened Gates of Eternity” demo

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Conan, Existential Void Guardian: Prosperity on the Path

Posted in Reviews on September 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Conan Existential Void Guardian

There’s a dual emphasis happening on Conan‘s fourth full-length in a 13-year run. First, Existential Void Guardian, which is also their third LP for Napalm Records, calls to mind just how recognizable Conan‘s sound is. They’ve subtly drawn back on some of the overbearing tonal onslaught over the years, which one can hear in songs like “Eye to Eye to Eye” in comparison to their earlier work on 2012’s debut, Monnos (review here), or the preceding 2010 EP, Horseback Battle Hammer (review here), but Conan remain one of the most immediately recognizable bands in metal, period, let alone doom or whatever other subgenre you might want to stick them in. Existential Void Guardian brings to mind just how much Conan‘s sound has become their own over the course of this decade, and yet it also emphasizes how much that sound is grown.

The pivotal moment might’ve been in 2014 when producer Chris Fielding joined the band following the recording of their second album,  Blood Eagle (review here). Taking on the role of bassist/vocalist alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Jon DavisFielding added not only his recording expertise — brought to bear at Skyhammer Studio, owned by Davis — but also his tonal weight and a vocal foil to Davis, something that Conan had worked to incorporate with original bassist Phil Coumbe but which became all the more essential with the lineup change. The impact of Fielding joining the band could be felt in their live presence and was realized in the studio on 2016’s Revengeance (review here), which updated listeners on the burgeoning dynamic between Davis and Fielding, the former’s higher-register wails complemented by the latter’s lower growls and shouts.

On Existential Void Guardian, with opener “Prosper on the Path” and the midsection of centerpiece/side A closer “Amidst the Infinite” as well as the later “Vexxagon” as particular examples, the two find a kind of shouted vocal harmony, and as Fielding takes the lead role in closer “Eternal Silent Legend,” there are more than hints of melody in his approach that even further expand the reach of the group on the whole. In kind with the contributions of drummer Johnny King (also of Dread Sovereign, ex-Altar of Plagues and others), who makes his first appearance on the seven-song/35-minute release, it all makes for Conan‘s most complex outing to-date.

One hesitates to use a word like “progressive” when it comes to Conan. Given the lumber they bring to bear on the aforementioned “Amidst the Infinite” and the gallop of “Eye to Eye to Eye,” it just feels gross and wrong, but there’s no question Existential Void Guardian is the most thoughtful Conan manifestation yet. From its evocative title — is the guardian bringing you into the void? warding off the void? keeping you there? — to the more developed lyrical ideas of “Volt Thrower” or “Prosper on the Path,” one can hear Conan moving away from the one-word-line impressionism they’ve used in the past to conjure images of violent conquering to a fuller mode of expression. Or so it seems without the benefit of a lyric sheet. That’s not to say Existential Void Guardian doesn’t have its raw moments. As “Vexxagon” settles into its final rolling groove, it does so with Davis having spit out quick lines atop the prior cacophony of riffs.

conan

And “Paincantation” is straight-up grindcore. No other word for it. It’s a 55-second blastbeaten assault — and the first 19 seconds of that is a kind of swelling introduction, while the last seven are a ringout — and the focus is pure brutality. It’s an easy pick to say that’s where King makes his presence most felt, as the wash of crash is no less consuming than the miasma of distortion churning at maximum speed overhead, but his snare and tom work in the early cycles of “Vexxagon” and the quick fills he works into the first half of “Prosper on the Path” while still holding to the central plodding rhythm aren’t to be undervalued for the tension they add to the proceedings overall. As he transitions into a kind of gallop in the first-stage of the chorus of the opener, he brings a professionalism of style and a crispness of play that’s clearly rooted in the more extreme end of metal but works nonetheless with the swing that Conan‘s songwriting requires. He’s a more than solid fit alongside Davis and Fielding. Hope he likes touring.

But the point is that as much as Conan have grown, there’s still blood dripping from their battle axe, and as much as the band’s even-year succession of releases — 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and now 2018 — has seen them bring new ideas and personnel into the fold, they’ve continued to hold firm to their ultra-low end and a brutality brought to bear amid the ensuing weight. Even as “Eternal Silent Legend,” which is also the longest inclusion at 6:53, rounds out Existential Void Guardian, with a gradual feedback-topped unfolding that riffs its way into what’s sneakily Davis‘ most melodic vocal performance with the band — trading between a few cleaner lines and a final growl — they do so en route to a massive stomp and rolling finish that’s as much a signature moment as Conan could possibly have. Thus the dual emphasis: they’ve advanced this much while still retaining their core purpose.

Every Conan record seems to be a first of one sort or another. Monnos, of course, was the first album. Blood Eagle the first recorded at SkyhammerRevengeance was the first with Fielding on bass and then-drummer Rich Lewis rounding out trio, and Existential Void Guardian is the first with King. It’s little short of amazing this can be the case while Conan‘s identity has remained so vividly cast. That’s a credit to Davis, of course, as the founder and guiding hand of their ongoing project, but it’s also a result of the natural way they’ve matured.

While conscious, nothing in Conan‘s ongoing progression has felt forced, and at the risk of shoehorning them into a narrative, it seems like their songcraft has become more complex as a result of the time they’ve spent on stage and the development of the chemistry between the players rather than heady studio experimentation. Nothing against that approach, but Conan continues to work so well as a concept because they know who they are and who they want to be, and they always have. Even as those ideas have changed with time, there are crucial elements that have remained cast in stone, and one expects they’ll stay that way as they work to push beyond the void.

Conan, “Volt Thrower” official video

Conan website

Conan on Thee Facebooks

Conan on Instagram

Conan on Bandcamp

Conan on Twitter

Napalm Records website

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Conan to Release Existential Void Guardian Sept. 14; Album Details Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

conan

Destruction always has a special place in Conan‘s charred heart. The UK trio’s reputation precedes them at this point, and even if it didn’t, it’s not like you can’t hear their approaching plod from miles away. Their third album was 2016’s Revengeance (review here) and it was beastness as usual for the band, though their dynamic has continued to shift since bassist/vocalist/producer Chris Fielding joined on with founding guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis ahead of 2014’s Blood Eagle (review here), with Fielding‘s vocals first being used as backing and then more as a complement to Davis‘ own, he going higher in register while Fielding kept to a lower growl, all of this amid standard-setting heaviness the likes of which only a handful of bands on the planet would even think about trying to match.

That element has been consistent throughout Conan‘s career, but there’s also been development in their sound, and that seems set to continue on the forthcoming Existential Void Guardian as well. Revengeance brought some notions of melody to the vocals and I’m not saying I’ve heard it yet or anything, but one expects that growth will take another step forward on Existential Void Guardian as well. The album also marks the first appearance of drummer Johnny King, also of Dread Sovereign, which I bring up because, you know, destruction.

From the PR wire:

conan existential void guardian

CONAN – Announce New Album Details

Existential Void Guardian Out On September 14th

Two years after the remarkable Revengeance, CONAN once more leave us astounded with a previously unknown side to dual vocal sludge. The British trio presents a tar monster named Existential Void Guardian that seems even more menacing as soon as it gets high on its own downtuned groove frenzy.

The album will be released on September 14 via Napalm Records.

Pre order Existential Void Guardian HERE!
http://smarturl.it/Conan-EVG-NPR

Tracklist:
1. Prosper On The Path
2. Eye To Eye To Eye
3. Paincantation
4. Amidst The Infinite
5. Volt Thrower
6. Vexxagon
7. Eternal Silent Legend
8. BONUS: Total Conquest (live 2018 @ Rebellion Manchester)
9. BONUS: Satsumo (live 2018 @ Rebellion Manchester)
10. BONUS: Foehammer (live 2018 @ Rebellion Manchester)
11. BONUS: Hawk As Weapon (live 2018 @ Rebellion Manchester)

Existential Void Guardian will be available as:
1 CD Digipack
2 LP Gatefold black
2 LP Gatefold gold (Napalm Records Mailorder exclusive)
2 LP Gatefold dark green (Napalm Records Mailorder exclusive)
Digital Album

Tour Dates:
17.08.18 IR – Cork / Cyprus Avenue
30.09.18 UK – Sheffield / O2 Academy
02.10.18 NL – Eindhoven / Effenaar
03.10.18 DE – Bochum / Rockpalast
04.10.18 DE – Hamburg / Logo
05.10.18 DE – Berlin / Musik & Frieden
06.10.18 PL – Wroclaw / Firlej
07.10.18 PL – Warsaw / Poglos
09.10.18 LT – Vinius / Rock River Club
10.10.18 LV – Jelgava / Melno Cepuriso Balerija
11.10.18 EE – Tallinn / Sveta
13.10.18 FI – Helsinki / Blow Up 4 Festival
15.10.18 SE – Stockholm / Kraken
16.10.18 TBA
17.10.18 SE – Malmo / Plan B
19.10.18 DK – Copenhagen / Stengade
20.10.18 NL – Leeuwarden / Into The Void Festival
23.11.18 UK – Nottingham / The Loft
24.11.18 UK – Leeds / Temple Of Boom
26.11.18 UK – Glasgow / Audio
27.11.18 UK – Manchester / Rebellion
28.11.18 UK – Coventry / The Arches
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, “Prosper on the Path” live in Glasgow, May 9, 2018

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Quarterly Review: CHRCH, Bongripper, King Chiefs, Bonnacons of Doom, Boar, June Bug, Tired Lord, Bert, Zen Bison, Wheel in the Sky

Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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

You know the deal by now, I’m sure: 50 reviews this week between now and Friday, in batches of 10 per day. It’s an unholy amount of music, but those who really dig in always seem to find something cool within a Quarterly Review. Frankly, with this much to choose from, I’d certainly hope so. I’m not going to delay at all, except to say thanks in advance for coming along on this one. It’s got some core-heavy and some-not-really-core-heavy stuff all bundled next to each other, so yeah, your patience is appreciated. Okay. No time like the present. Let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

CHRCH, Light Will Consume Us All

chrch light will consume us all

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the songs are long. Blah blah blah it’s heavy as whatever kind of construction equipment you could want to name. What’s even more striking about Los Angeles doomers CHRCH’s Neurot Recordings debut, Light Will Consume Us All, is the sense of atmosphere. The follow-up to 2015’s massively well-received Unanswered Hymns (review here) is comprised of three songs presented in descending time order from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Infinite” (20:41) to centerpiece “Portals” (14:50) and closer “Aether” (9:29) and it finds CHRCH refining the unremitting patience of their rollout, so that even when “Aether” explodes in its second half to charred blastbeating and abrasive screams, the ambience is still dense enough to feel it in one’s lungs. CHRCH keep up this level of progression and soon enough someone’s going to call them post-something or other. As it stands, their second album builds righteously on the achievements of their debut, and is a revelation in its bleakness.

CHRCH on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings website

 

Bongripper, Terminal

bongripper terminal

Pressed up as ever in DIY fashion, Bongripper’s Terminal presents two gargantuan slabs – one per vinyl side – that only seem to highlight the strengths in the Chicago instrumentalists’ approach. The tones are huge, the grooves nodding, the impact of each kick drum forceful. Repetition is central, that feeling of aural mass and destructiveness, but neither is Terminal – comprised of “Slow” (25:11) and “Death” (18:15) – lacking a sense of atmosphere. After 21 minutes of grueling pummel, “Slow” devolves into droning layers of noise wash and quiet guitar to finish out, and “Death” seems to hold onto an echoing lead in its closing minutes that accomplishes much the same thing in broadening the atmosphere overall. I don’t know if the two songs were composed to fit together –the titles would hint yes – but they invariably do, and as “Death” unleashes a more insistent punch before turning to a post-YOB gallop, it reconfirms Bongripper’s worship-worthy place in the stoner doom milieu, how their sound can be so familiar in its threat and yet so much their own.

Bongripper on Bandcamp

Bongripper webstore

 

King Chiefs, Blue Sonnet

King Chiefs Blue Sonnet

Born as Chiefs ahead of their 2015 debut album, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), Arizona-based four-piece King Chiefs make their own first outing in the form of the easily-digestible desert rocker Blue Sonnet (on Roosevelt Row and Cursed Tongue Records), comprised of 10 tracks running just under 40 minutes of older-school laid back heavy, swinging easy on cuts like “Surely Never” and “Drifter” while still finding some Helmeted aggressive edge in the riffs of “Slug” and “Walk the Plank.” The overarching focus is on songwriting, however, and King Chiefs hone in cleverly on ‘90s-era desert rock’s post-grunge sensibility, so that their material seems ready for an alternative radio that no longer exists. Such as it is, they do just fine without, and hooks pervade the two-guitar outfit’s material in natural and memorable fashion all the way to five-and-a-half-minute closer “Shrine of the Beholder,” which embraces some broader textures without losing the structural focus that serves so well on the songs before it.

King Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Roosevelt Row Records website

Cursed Tongue Records website

 

Bonnacons of Doom, Bonnacons of Doom

bonnacons of doom bonnacons of doom

Heavy psychedelic experimentalism pervades the Rocket Recordings-issued self-titled debut album from Liverpool collective Bonnacons of Doom, rife with tripout ritualism and exploration of sound as it is, all chasing light and getting freaky in any sense you want to read it. Five tracks, each a voyage unto itself – even the bass-fuzzy push of shortest cut “Rhizome” (5:55) is cosmos-bound – feed into the larger weirdness at play that culminates in the undulating grooves of “Plantae” (8:39), which is perhaps the most solidified cut in terms of choruses, verses, etc., but still a molten, headphone-worthy freakout that pushes the limits of psychedelia and still holds itself together. If the album was a to-do list, it would read as follows: “Eat mushrooms. Get naked. Dance around. Repeat.” Whether you do or don’t is ultimately up to you, but Bonnacons of Doom make a pretty convincing argument in favor, and I don’t generally consider myself much of a dancer. Among the most individualized psych debuts I’ve heard in a long time.

Bonnacons of Doom on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Boar, Poseidon

Boar Poseidon

Poseidon, at six songs and 39 minutes, is the second long-player from Finnish four-piece Boar. Released on vinyl with no shortage of backing — Lost Pilgrims Records, Dissonant Society, Impure Muzik, S.K.O.D., Rämekuukkeli-levyt – it hurls forth a High on Fire-informed vision of noise rock on its opening title-track only to take on a slower roll in the subsequent “Shahar’s Son” and dig into massive crashing on “12.” Using echo to add a sense of depth all the while, they scream in tradeoffs à la Akimbo and boogie in “Featherless” and seem to find a post-metallic moment on “Dark Skies” before closing with the alternately brooding and scathing “Totally out of This World,” the song sort of falling apart into the feedback and noise that ends the album. There’s a persistent sense of violence happening, but it’s as much inward as outward, and though some of Boar’s most effective moments are in that rawness, there’s something to be said for the contemplation at the outset of “Shahar’s Son” and “12” as well.

Boar on Thee Facebooks

Boar on Bandcamp

 

June Bug, A Thousand Days

June bug A Thousand Days

Seemingly unrestrained by genre, the Lille, France-based duo June BugJune on vocals and multiple instruments and Beryl on backing vocals and multiple instruments – dig into some post-punk nudge on early cut “Reasons” from their debut album, A Thousand Days (Atypeek Music) after the folkish melodies of opener “Now,” but whether it’s the fuzzy indie vibes of “Freaks” or the harmonies, electronics and acoustic guitar of “Let it Rest,” or the keyboard-handclaps, lower tones and poppish instrumental hook of centerpiece “Mama,” there’s plenty of variety throughout. What ties the differing vibes and richly nuanced approach together is the vocals, which are mostly subdued and at times hyper-stylized, but never seem to fail to keep melodicism as their central operating method. That remains true on the subdued “Does it Matter” and the beat-laden “Silenced” at the album’s finish and brings everything together with an overarching sense of joy that holds firm despite shifts in mood and approach, making the complete front-to-back listen as satisfying as it might seem all over the place.

June Bug on Thee Facebooks

Atypeek Music website

 

Tired Lord, Demo

tired lord demo

Released by the band last year, the four-song Demo by San Francisco outfit Tired Lord has been picked up for an official cassette issue through From Corners Unknown Records and will reportedly be the only release from the black metal/sludge genre-benders. Presumably that means they broke up, rather than just refuse to ever record again, though the latter possibility intrigues as well and would be meta-black metal. Spearheaded by guitarist Bryce Olson, Tired Lord effectively bring a thickness of tone to charred riffing, and a balance between screams and growls brings a cast of general extremity to the material. So I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to regret their dissolution and wish they’d do a proper release. Fair enough for the brutal chug in “Serpent’s Ascent” and the 7:51 closer “Astaroth,” which one wouldn’t mind hearing fleshed out from their current form. Failing that, one of the 30 tape copies pressed of Demo seems like decent consolation. At least while they’re there for the getting and before Tired Lord go gleefully into that black metal demo tape ether where so many seem to dwell.

From Corners Unknown Records on Thee Facebooks

From Corners Unknown Records website

 

BerT, Relics from Time Zero

bert relics from time zero

Lansing, Michigan, trio BerT – bassist Phil Clark and brothers Ryan (guitar) and Rael (drums) Andrews – broke up. They even put out a posthumous rare tracks release in 2017’s The Lost Toes (review here), so what’s left? Well, another album, of course. Intended as a sequel to the sci-fi narrative of the never-released long-player Return to the Electric Church, the five-track/35-minute Relics from Time Zero is unfinished, sans vocals where they might otherwise be, and basically a look at what might’ve been had the band not dissolved. For those prior-exposed to the once-prolific heavy rock bizarros, some of the proceedings will seem familiar: riffs are plentiful and fluid in their tempo changes from driving rock to droned-out stomp, and there seems to be about 1.5 of them in the four-minute “In the Cave of the Batqueen,” so but for the fact that it’s not done, I’d just about call it business as usual for BerT. I know they’re done and all, but I still wouldn’t mind hearing these songs with some lyrics, let alone the record this one was intended to follow-up. Either way, even defunct, BerT remain on their own wavelength.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

BerT on Bandcamp

 

Zen Bison, Krautrocker

zen bison krautrocker

Classic-style heavy rock riffing pervades opener “Blow My Mind” (5:47) and the subsequent “Backseat Lovers” (5:15) – somewhere between Stubb and Radio Moscow — on Zen Bison’s debut LP, Krautrocker, but as the five-track/42-minute self-release moves into the 11-minute title-track, guitarist/vocalist Philipp Ott, bassist Steffen Fischer and drummer Martin Konopka – joined by organist Hans Kirschner and percussionist Bobby Müller –move into deeper-grooving and more psychedelic fare. That turn suits the mostly-live-recorded outfit well on the longer instrumental piece, and that leads to a side B with the likewise-sans-vocals “La Madrugada” (9:56) and the closing cover of Don Nix’s blues rocker “Going Down” (10:24), jammed out at the end in its middle and end with quick return to the chorus between. There isn’t much on Krautrocker one might actually consider krautrock in the traditional sense, but there’s certainly plenty of rock to go around on the impressive and varied first offering from the Rostock trio.

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Zen Bison on Bandcamp

 

Wheel in the Sky, Beyond the Pale

wheel in the sky beyond the pale

From opener “Rivers of Dust” onward, Wheel in the Sky’s second album, Beyond the Pale (on The Sign Records), proffers classy and classic digs, informed by a heavy ‘70s uptempo spirit on its title-track and moving into more complex volume and arrangement shifts in “Burn Babylon Burn” (video premiere here) and a poppy, goth-informed hook on “The Only Dead Girl in the City,” all the while held together through a quality of songwriting that even the band’s 2015 debut, Heading for the Night (review here), seemed to hint toward. It’s a mover, to be sure, but Wheel in the Sky execute their material with poise and a sense of clear intention, and no matter where they seem to go, their tonality and natural production assures the listener has an easy time tagging along. Might be a sleeper for some, but there are going to be people who really, really dig this album, and I’ve got no argument with them.

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The Sign Records website

 

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Robespierre Premiere Track from Debut Album Garden of Hell

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

robespierre

One doubts that when it comes right down to it, the two members of Robespierre are evil, or monsters, or even men of violence, as they assert repeatedly in “Men of Violence.” More likely they’re just normal guys: jobs, families, etc., but if their debut album, Garden of Hell — issued via the respectable tastes of Shadow Kingdom Records — is any indicator, they at least know how to wield a hook. The narrative (blessings and peace upon it) holds that guitarist/vocalist David Cooke and drummer Gordon Logan circulated a demo tape circa 1983, private press-style. Went to friends of the band and probably a couple lucky few who went out to shows in the band’s native Liverpool. There was a second demo as well that had even less distribution, and after they showed up and gained some traction online, the two were compiled together on 2011’s Die, You Heathen, Die! with the first four-track demo on side A and the second, from about a year later, on side B. Thus it was that nearly 30 years after their original circulation, Robespierre‘s work finally saw official release. They may or may not be evil, but they’re certainly patient one way or the other.

After this, there was only one thing to do: make a proper album. Thus, some seven years later and some 35 after the band’s original founding in 1983, they offer their first full-length. Garden of Evil tries to make up for lost time with a robespierre garden of hell10-track/48-minute run that, furled by cuts like the opening salvo of the driving “Punish Oppressors,” “Mare of Steel,” and the more decidedly doomed “Dwelling in the Shadows,” with a creeper riff and chorus worthy of the classic metal grit with which it’s presented. Of course, those more familiar with the totality of the NWOBHM know that it wasn’t all major label sheen and motorcycles on stage, and Robespierre‘s raw tones and rawer production remind of classic metal born of a decades-thriving underground producing cuts like “Feel the Fire” driven by little more than the passion for creation, the desire to pay homage to one’s heroes — bit of Sabbath crunch to the opening riff of “The Black Mirror” — and the expression is disaffection, melancholy, whatever it might be. Taking their moniker from an influential figure in the French Revolution, Robespierre aren’t without a social edge, as both “Punish Oppressors” and “Men of Violence” showcase at the outset of each side, but at its core Garden of Hell is metal for the orthodox among the converted, be that those who were there the first time around during the NWOBHM or those who simply wish they could’ve been.

As to just how Robespierre managed to pull off such a classic sound, I wish I knew. There are plenty of heavy rock and metal bands out there who use “vintage” gear and recording methods at affect that kind of cultish ambience, but as the band make their way through “Dagon Rises” and the start-stop stomping “Fear,” toward the closing duo of “Welcome to the Cult” and “I am a Flower (In the Garden of Hell),” which arguably are the album’s two most immersive tracks, they do so not with overblown hyperposturing of sound, but with naturalist, dirt-under-the-fingernails metallurgy. It’s not that they sound as though no time has passed, just that they make that passage of time irrelevant through their structures, presentation and performance. As “I am a Flower (In the Garden of Hell)” dooms its way to its ending with a classy final solo giving way to a few strumming acoustic chords, the sense of Robespierre as a classic metal band is less about the superficialities of their sound and more about the clear measure of heart put into ever single one of these tracks. I don’t know if Robespierre will do another record, or if they do, how they might attempt to modernize (or not modernize) their sound, but the level of catharsis in finally putting out a full-length after 35 years must be staggering, and they’ve done justice to that span in their songwriting and atmosphere.

Robespierre‘s Garden of Hell is out now on Shadow Kingdom, but this is the first time this song has been streamed. You’ll find it on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

SHADOW KINGDOM RECORDS is proud to present the LONG-awaited debut album of ROBESPIERRE, Garden of Hell. A cult name among NWOBHM diehards, ROBESPIERRE were actually active during the original NWOBHM movement, recording two demos in 1983 that remained unreleased or circulated only among close contacts. Those two demos were released in 2011 as the Die You Heathen, Die! compilation, introducing the Liverpool band to a whole new generation lusting for vintage heavy metal sounds. However, ROBESPIERRE never recorded a proper debut album – until now! Indeed sounding like nearly four decades haven’t passed, Garden of Hell brims with that musky ‘n’ musty scent of classic NWOBHM: traditional and totally METAL songwriting, with hooks piled high and no small amount of grit.

And like a few of their original NWOBHM contemporaries, ROBESPIERRE are keen on dipping into doom – like, really DOOMED-OUT doom that plods like tombstones slowly falling over and enveloping the listener in an ancient haze. Similarly, the band’s forward momentum is brisk but never too aggressive, in exchange exuding a rare sense of class and allowing the subtle textures of their endless hooks to sparkle in the night. Above all, Garden of Hell is aptly titled: for all the raucous rockin’ going on, there’s an ever-present atmosphere of supernatural horror dusting nearly every note. A ROBESPIERRE album has been a long time coming, but no better time than now than to step into the Garden of Hell!

Robespierre on Thee Facebooks

Robespierre at Shadow Kingdom Records Bandcamp

Shadow Kingdom Records on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

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Bodies on Everest Premiere “Who Killed Yale Gracey?” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

bodies on everest

Like the bastard avant sludge sons of Godflesh, UK three-piece Bodies on Everest return this April with their second album, A National Day of Mourning. The Liverpool/Manchester trio today present their new video for the song “Who Killed Yale Gracey?” and rest assured, it is thoroughly fucked. Through and through. From the creepy opening sample repeating “I am a ghost” to the cave-echo vocals that populate amid electronic swirl and a double-dose of low-end assault, it’s a 10-minute nightmare romp that feels as much high-concept-art-project as it does well-society-has-collapsed-so-what-the-fuck-do-we-do-now. Not that the two are by any means mutually exclusive ends to the means of expression.

Anyway, the point is that if you’re looking for whatever you commonly think of as “standard fare,” you’re probably not going to find it here. Instead, you get a slow-burning creeper bodies on everest a national day of mourningatmosphere populated, presumably, by more than just the single ghost you hear speaking at the outset as the rumble and electronic beat begin to rise to prominence in the mix. I don’t now if I’d call the track itself terrifying so much as visceral. It’s not trying to scare you. It’s guttural though; not in the sense of death growls or anything like that — the vocals are shouted, deep in the mix, coated in echo — but in being ‘of the guts.’ Like raw viscera. Organs on a platter. There’s a brutality sharing space with nuance and, while it’s not at all light on a sense of punishment, neither does “Who Killed Yale Gracey?” come across like empty extremity brought to bear for its own sake.

Yale Gracey, as I’m sure you already know because you’re well informed on a wide variety of subjects, was a Disney animator who started working for the company in 1939 and designed numerous attractions at Disneyland in California and so on. He and his wife were shot in their bed in 1983 and the murderer was never captured. Why Bodies on Everest might seize on that particular episode of Unsolved Mysteries, I don’t know, but if it’s a vibe of vague and looming threat they’re trying to convey, well, they certainly got there with the track.

More info follows the video below. Please enjoy in that particular way you enjoy things that are scathing as hell.

Oh, and you won’t believe what happens to that building in the video.

I am a ghost, I am a ghost, I am a ghost…

Bodies on Everest, “Who Killed Yale Gracey?” official video premiere

The infernal noise machine BODIES ON EVEREST in collaboration with Third I Rex & Cruel Nature Recordings will unleash hell this April with their brand new collection of noise-laden compositions and abrasive shrieks entitled “A National Day Of Mourning”. The band labels its sound as “Dungeon Wave” — a caustic mix of drone, doom, noise and cursed psyche-sludge.

BODIES ON EVEREST hail from Liverpool and Manchester and have spent the last fewyears playing intense live shows across the UK. The two distorted basses plunge the depths of ultra-low frequencies while the vocals lead the listener through the crushing monotony of modern life. 2015 saw the band release their debut — “The Burning” which solidified their uncompromising attitude and dedication to pushing the boundaries of bleak, punishing repetition.

“A National Day Of Mourning” presents an invigorated band which has sharpened its sound in order to create a new record that’s even more corrosive, unsettling and unrelenting.

When asked to present their new album, the band provided this opaque response: “… two bass players, one drummer, vocals and a board of electronics were all played at once andrepeated back infinitely. This record is the very urgent and desperate result of an accident… Welcome to Hell.”

“A National Day Of Mourning” was recorded, mixed and mastered by Jacobia Stig at Dumbulls Studio in Liverpool. The album will be pressed by Third I Rex on CD format and Cruel Nature Recordings in a limited double pink cassette edition, in April this year! Get ready for something you have never heard before!

Bodies on Everest on Thee Facebooks

Bodies on Everest on Bandcamp

Bodies on Everest website

Third I Rex on Thee Facebooks

A National Day of Mourning preorder at Third I Rex on Bandcamp

Cruel Nature Records on Thee Facebooks

Cruel Nature Records on Bandcamp

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Mugstar Announce Collapsar (Skull Scorchers and Neuron Phasers – Singles and Rarities) out Dec. 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mugstar

Any Mugstar release is a decent excuse to get weird, but I feel like the forthcoming Collapsar stands out as being especially so. Set for issue on Dec. 15 through Evil Hoodoo Records, the full title of the offering is Collapsar (Skull Scorchers and Neuron Phasers – Singles and Rarities), so in addition to just being an outing from the Liverpudlian troupe, it’s also drawing from multiple sources for its live tracks, alternate versions and — because, yes, absolutely — a cover of Fairport Convention‘s “Tam Lin” that bridges the seemingly impossible gap between pastoral folk and garage-gaze. You didn’t even know that gap existed because it’s so wide. They might as well have bridged the sky.

Anyhoozle, if you’ve got a freakout quota, they’re primed to blow it out of the cosmos across the unmanageable 68 minutes included here, and if you want just the most basic sampling of what’s on offer, you can stream the track “Flavin’ HotRod” at the bottom of this post. Enjoy.

The PR wire brings art, details and links:

mugstar collapsar

MUGSTAR – COLLAPSAR – Latest album release by Evil Hoodoo on 15th December

EVIL HOODOO PRESENTS The latest release for Liverpool’s psych lords Mugstar

MUGSTAR – COLLAPSAR (Skull Scorchers and Neuron Phasers – Singles & Rarities).

Liverpool’s MUGSTAR have steadily grown in status over a fifteen-year timescale on the UK underground rock scene. “COLLAPSAR…” is a timely collection of singles and rarities which charts MUGSTAR’s ever evolving outbound journey across the space lanes since the start of the millennium. Catching the ear of the late, great John Peel with their first single ‘Spotlight Over Memphis’, MUGSTAR notably went on to record one of the very last ever Peel Sessions for him.

From that point on, MUGSTAR have been transmitting their unique signal out to the furthest reaches of both inner and outer space ever since. This collection brings together some of MUGSTAR’s best-loved live tracks alongside some now difficult to find rarities – all alternative versions to previous album tracks – as well as previously unreleased tracks. Taking in pulsating Krautrock, skeletal Post Rock, bludgeoning Psych and even an idiosyncratic take on the folk classic ‘Tam Lin’ (made famous by Fairport Convention), “COLLAPSAR…” collates and unearths the hidden chapters of MUGSTAR’s ongoing intergalactic travelogue.

MUGSTAR – COLLAPSAR (Skull Scorchers and Neuron Phasers – Singles & Rarities) is presented here as a luxurious double album package. Pressed on heavy vinyl and housed in a stunning gatefold sleeve – rich in visuals, band photos and information – tracing MUGSTAR’s history to date.

MUGSTAR – COLLAPSAR (Skull Scorchers and Neuron Phasers – Singles & Rarities) will be available to pre order from 1st December

To order this record – http://evilhoodoo.bigcartel.com/product/mugstar

https://www.facebook.com/MUGSTAR-127591997334111/
http://www.mugstar.com/
https://mugstar.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/Evil-Hoodoo-192638530798808/ http://evilhoodoo.bigcartel.com

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Conan to Release New Album Early Next Year; North American Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

UK sonic pummelbringers Conan have announced a round of North American touring beginning Feb. 9. They’ll be joined in the endeavor by The Ditch and the Delta and are set to release a new album in early 2018 via Napalm Records. I don’t know if the album will actually come out while they’re on this run or not, but as the band has made touring the US a priority over the last couple years, it would make sense.

Either way, they’ll be playing new material on the road, so if you want a preview of the follow-up to 2016’s Revengeance (review here) — whatever it might be called — before it comes out, that’s another reason to show up beyond the standard having your ass handed to you by Conan, which was going to happen one way or another.

Just off the PR wire:

conan tour poster

CONAN Announces 2018 North American Tour

New Album Coming Early Next Year Via Napalm Records

British Doom Metallers, CONAN are currently hard at work, on the follow up to their 2016 release “Revengeanance,” which is due out in early 2018. In anticiapion of the new album, CONAN has announced a full North American headline tour beginning in February 2018. The tour features support from The Ditch and The Delta, and starts February 9th in Calgary, AB and wraps up March 13th in Denver, CO. A complete list of dates can be found below.

“We are very happy to announce this US tour with The Ditch and The Delta, our fourth US tour in as many years. This tour is slightly different though, we will be playing material from our new album – to be released in 2018 at Napalm Records. See you at the front,” says CONAN frontman Jon Davis.

CONAN are as heavy as interplanetary thunder amplified through the roaring black hole anus of Azathoth. Remember that sentence, for it is writ large in virgin blood on the walls of the forgotten temple of Bol-Krastor, deep in the steaming forests of forgotten Lemuria. CONAN, a monumentally brutal three piece (in the grand tradition of all the hallowed three pieces through time) hold a sinew-tight line and an iron-grip command over the uber-synchronised powerchord changes and tempo-shifts of the anti-holy trio of bass, drums and guitar. Two weary yet defiant men have the task of vocalising wretched thoughts over the turgid weight of Conan’s metalized bombast. They bear it well, for the task is immense.

Hear the roar of battle. Smell the stench of split blood. A thousand heads piled high like a grim mound of suffering – a blasphemy to nature. HAIL CONAN!

CONAN W/ The Ditch and The Delta
2/9/18: Calgary, AB @ Palomino*
2/10/18: Edmonton, AB @ Brixx*
2/12/18: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
2/13/18: Boise, ID @ Neurolux
2/15/18: Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
2/16/18: Portland, OR @ Sabertooth Fest*
2/17/18: Eugene, OR @ Old Nicks
2/18/18: San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
2/19/18: Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
2/20/18: Phoenix, AZ @ Yucca Tap
2/21/18: Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar
2/22/18: El Paso, TX @ Neon Rose
2/23/18: Austin, TX @ Lost Well
2/24/18: Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern
2/25/18: Memphis, TN @ Growlers
2/26/18: Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
2/27/18: Atlanta, GA @ The 529
3/1/18: Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
3/2/18: Washington, DC @ Atlas Brew Works
3/3/18: Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
3/4/18: Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
3/5/18: Providence, RI @ Alchemy
3/6/18: Boston, MA @ Middle East Upstairs
3/7/18: Rochester, NY @ Photo City
3/8/18: Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
3/9/18: Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlies
3/10/18: Chicago, IL @ Reggies
3/11/18: Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
3/12/18: Omaha, NE @ Lookout Lounge
3/13/18: Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive
*CONAN Only

www.hailconan.com
www.facebook.com/conancavemanbattledoom
www.napalmrecords.com

Conan, “Throne of Fire” official video

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