Bright Curse Premiere “Lady Freedom” from New LP Before the Shore

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

bright curse

London trio Bright Curse release their debut album, Before the Shore, May 13 on HeviSike Records. It’s among the most awaited debuts of the last couple years, the band having made a striking impression with their 2013 self-titled EP (review here) and subsequent Shaman single (review here) while cycling through a couple shifts in lineup that have brought guitarist/vocalist Romain Daut and drummer Zacharie Mizzi together with bassist Max Ternebring for the seven-track/43-minute LP, which was produced by the band and J.B. Pilon at Rock of London Studios with mastering by Jaime Gomez Arellano at Orgone Studios.

Topped off with striking artwork by Adam Burke, it’s also a release that dramatically repositions the group from where they were three years ago stylistically, swapping out the heavy psychedelia of their EP for a more clear-headed approach driven particularly by Daut‘s vocals and a spirit of modernized-sounding classic heavy rock that recalls the clarity in the production of the latest Kadavar without aping that band’s methods otherwise. Bright Curse‘s material is more flowing, more gradual, less directly playing to pop traditions, but a focus remains on songcraft, the bulk of the tracks running in the five-to-six-minute range, with brooding closer “Earth’s Last Song” longer at 8:29.

A rampant emotionalism ties the songs together, from opener “Lady Freedom” to the Graveyardian melancholia of “Candles and Flowers,” but moods nonetheless vary between them, and from front to back, Before the Shore moves smoothly through its course, flourishes like the spoken sample in “Cheating Pain” and the organ in the penultimate highlight “Northern Sky” adding to the context overall. And though they’ve grown into abright curse before the shore more straightforward-sounding act overall, Bright Curse still find room to offer a jammy sensibility in the swinging solo section of “The Shore” and in the bluesy leads of semi-cultish centerpiece “Walking in a Graveyard (Bloody Witch),” which are offset by the album’s most fervent stomp, Mizzi‘s snare punctuating the natural but not vintage tones of Daut and Ternebring as Daut pushes his voice toward and past the breaking point for not the first time.

His stepping forward as a frontman becomes a defining characteristic of Before the Shore, and the command shown in either the quiet stretches of “Cheating Pain” and “Earth’s Last Song” or the more brash thrust of “Lady Freedom” and cowbell-inclusive swing of “Candles and Flowers” is not to be discounted in terms of the overarching impression the record makes. Listening back to the EP, Daut gave a strong vocal performance there as well, but the context was different, the tones surrounding thicker and more encompassing, whereas the crispness in the presentation of Before the Shore really gives him the space to shine in his delivery, somewhat indebted to Magnus Pelander in cadence but continuing to develop in identity as well.

That’s not to take anything away from the chemistry of Bright Curse as a whole, who’ve clearly spent the time since their first outing refining their approach. That shows itself throughout Before the Shore, whether it’s the catchy hooks of “Lady Freedom” and “Cheating Pain” or the more patient builds of “Northern Sky” and “Earth’s Last Day,” which takes a more linear turn where earlier cuts like “Walking in a Graveyard (Bloody Witch)” ebbed and flowed.

The plays in structure and what DautTernebring and Mizzi are able to execute within them, particularly when taking into account that this is their first full-length, remain impressive, and while I’ll allow that part of me misses the psychedelic vibe of the EP — part of me always misses the psychedelic vibe — the flow they conjure here is palpable between tracks and goes a long way toward showing where their progression is headed. It’s a positive direction, and in the interim, Before the Shore marks the arrival of a band clearly ready to stand themselves out from a crowded London heavy rock scene, which, though it’s been a while in the making, means it got here right on time.

I have the pleasure today of hosting the premiere of “Lady Freedom,” which you’ll find below, followed by Bright Curse‘s latest European tour announcement.

Please enjoy:

Stoked to finally unveil our whole upcoming European Tour, in support of our debut album “Before The Shore”, out on May 13th on HeviSike Records! It kicks-off in less than a month! Who’s coming!?

20.05 (F) Lille | El Diablo (w. Space Fisters)
21.05 (F) Caen | Le Bocal
22.05 (F) Bordeaux | Void – Make It Sabbathy (w. Space Fisters)
23.05 (F) Tours | Puzzle Pub – CRYPTE (w. Space Fisters)
24.05 (F) Nantes | Scène Michelet – CRUMBLE FIGHT (w. Space Fisters)
25.05 (F) Paris | L’Espace B (w. Space Fisters)
26.05 (NL) Amsterdam | The Cave
27.05 (D) Cologne | The Odonien
28.05 (B) Arlon | L’Entrepôt
31.05 (F) Strasbourg | Mudd Club (NEW SHOW)
01.06 (F) Dijon | Deep Inside
02.06 (F) Lyon | Les Capucins
03.06 (D) Karlsruhe | Bistro KA
07.06 (CH) Geneva | L’Usine – Kalvingrad
08.06 (F) Reims | L’Appart Café

Events & more info right here: https://www.facebook.com/BrightCurse/events

Bright Curse on Thee Facebooks

Bright Curse website

HeviSike Records website

HeviSike Records on Thee Facebooks

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Wren, Host: No Seance for the Living (Plus Full EP Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

wren host

[Click play above to stream Wren’s Host in its entirety. EP out April 29 on Holy Roar Records.]

It was only two years ago that London post-sludge outfit Wren made their debut with a self-titled EP (review here) that found them immediately distinguished from among their many peers in the UK undergound. Since that early 2014 EP, Wren have put together a 2015 split with Irk (review here) the four-song EP Host, forthcoming from Holy Roar Records, both of which have featured changes in the lineup. Operating as the four-piece now of Owen Jones, Chris Pickering, Robert Letts and John McCormick, the band retain the sonic force of their two earlier/earliest offerings, but complement it with a cohesiveness of songcraft that’s on display here in a swaying cut like “The Ossuary” and the catchy “No Seance” (video posted here) that makes their overarching attack that much stronger.

Adding to that a structure that has Host playing two sides off each other to give its four inclusions a longer-shorter/shorter-longer flow and a pervasive sense of atmosphere in even the heaviest, rawest moments, and Host‘s densely weighted roll finds Wren beginning to pay off the potential that the first EP and split showed, even with different personnel involved at very least in terms of who’s fronting the band. A resounding churn will find Host compared to Isis and maybe Amenra, but there’s a post-hardcore bark in Wren‘s shouts that keeps them attuned to a sense of sludgy rawness while also adding aggression to the already smoldering material.

Opener “Stray” and closer “Loom” sandwich “No Seance” and “The Ossuary.” Both songs top eight minutes, and “Stray” begins with an immediate push of deep low-end and interplay of atmospheric riffing, the groove weighted but already in motion with the first verse. It’s not the most urgent thrust of Host, but it recalls some of Swarm of the Lotus‘ less chaotic moments and leads to an instrumental bridge that winds its way back toward a churn and interwoven layers of noise-rock guitar to fill out the chugging insistence. A slowdown before the halfway mark pushes the vocals farther back, but is short-lived as Wren are soon back up and steamrolling forward again toward a break of grabbed-cymbals and manic guitar-led rhythm that takes them to the song’s halfway point, which moves toward a wash of feedback that seems like it’s going to end the track, but at 5:39 kicks into a full-toned post-metallic crunch that provides an apex prior to the actual finish, also in feedback and noise.

wren (Photo by Gardenback)

Bass starts “No Seance” and is joined soon by guitar feedback and the drums. Though the shortest track on Host, “No Seance” is a highlight without question. More straightforward structurally than “Stray,” but also given a release-defining hook, it also makes no less of an impact, opening farther as it moves toward its second chorus, the drums holding a steady forward pattern to propel the chugging riff before swapping back to toms for nod-ready starts and stops that finish out, staggeringly heavy, completely in control and unremitting in their aggression.

That sense of poise and purpose continues onto “The Ossuary” at what’s the start of the vinyl’s side B. Though also shorter than either “Stray” or “Loom,” it’s nonetheless more open-feeling than “No Seance,” which was so much about its call and response in the chorus, and executes its linear course with a patient tempo early, swapping out at its midpoint toward a more unbridled push that gradually smooths itself into another crash-pushed nod, only to turn around again and move through once more. In that way, “The Ossuary” is almost like two songs put together, but especially in the context of Host as a whole, it works. Further, it readjusts the scope of the EP as a whole in a way that lets “Loom” go just about wherever it wants.

With echoing room-mic vocals over cycles of guitar, bass and tom runs, the opening of the closer recalls some of the first EP’s most post-rock moments, but on the whole, Wren have become a much more aggressive act in the last two years, and as “Loom” moves into its fierce push, a reminder of that is served. Some slow-motion blasting transitions back into the intro progression but degrades into noise to setup the final movement in the fuller second half, which plays out like a more single-minded version of “The Ossuary” but ultimately locks into a rolling riff that fades to close the EP, Wren leaving just a bit of threat behind that they might fade back in any any moment without actually doing so. I said as much when I posted the video for “No Seance,” but Host is an easy candidate for one of 2016’s best short releases, and while I don’t know if Wren have completely settled their lineup once and for all, if they were to press forward with a debut full-length as they are on these four tracks, there’s no way you wouldn’t call them ready for the task.

Wren on Thee Facebooks

Wren website

Wren on Bandcamp

Wren at Holy Roar Records

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Gurt & Trippy Wicked Release Guppy Split May 6

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re wondering where Gurt and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight got the name of their new split, Guppy, that’s due to release on May 6, take a look at their names: “Gu” from the former, “ppy” from the latter. That bit of cleverness, no doubt, is emblematic of the shenanigans throughout the CD/DL set to arrive via When Planets Collide and the limited run of tapes that’ll be out through HeviSike Records, and it works even more because they not only recorded together and collaborated on a song, but they share drummer Bill Jacobs between them, so yes, the running theme is togetherness. And togetherness if great. Who doesn’t like togetherness?

A trailer for the release has surfaced that emphasizes the level of good times involved, if indirectly. Find that under the info below, which comes from the PR wire:

gurt trippy wicked guppy

Gurt & Trippy Wicked team up for GUPPY split – May 6th

The build up has been pretty long and a lot of work has gone in to creating it but When Planets Collide are very happy to announce that ‘GUPPY’, the new split release between GURT and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight is ready for release on Friday May 6th!

Digital / CD – When Planets Collide
Limited Edition Cassette Tape – HeviSike Records

The release features 5 songs clocking in just short of half an hour with two brand new songs from each band and one epic collaboration which features both guitarists, both bassists and both vocalists… we really can’t wait for you to hear what we hope will be one of the best releases so far in 2016.

The bands have been close friends for many years (as well as now sharing a drummer in Bill Jacobs) so entering the studio together to create GUPPY was a natural move. With the help of Steve Sears and Tony Nigelson at TITAN Studios in Watford the record sounds absolutely massive and showcases the expert groove and wicked sense of humour that both bands pride themselves on!

The track-listing is as follows:

1: OWLMEGGEDON
2: SUPER FUN HAPPY SLIDE
3: REVOLTING CHILD
4: I REGRET NOTHING

You’ll have to work out for yourself which songs are by which band!

GURT are:
Bill Jacobs – Drums
Richard Williams – Guitar
Gareth Kelly – Vocals
David Blakemore – Bass

TRIPPY WICKED are:
Peter Holland – Guitar/Vocals
Dicky King – Bass
Bill Jacobs – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/GURTsludge/
https://www.facebook.com/trippywicked
https://www.facebook.com/whenplanetscollideuk
https://whenplanetscollideuk.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hevisike
http://hevisike.com/

Gurt & Trippy Wicked, Guppy teaser

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Mars Red Sky and Elephant Tree to Tour the UK in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Hell’s bells that’s a good show! Here I’ve been considering getting a crowdfunding page going in order to bring Elephant Tree over from their home base in the UK specifically to pair them up with Bordeaux, France, heavy psych masters Mars Red Sky at The Obelisk All-Dayer in August, and Snuff Lane has gone and beat me to making the match. It’s a five-show run through the UK, and they’ll meet up with Black Lung along the way and play Riff Conspiracy III in Manchester, but for however long these two are getting together, it’s a fit that works so well, it’s hard to imagine this will be the only time it happens.

If you haven’t heard it yet, Mars Red Sky‘s recently-issued third LP, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), is currently holding my top spot for album of the year. Yeah, I know there’s a lot of year to go, but woof, that’s a good record. Elephant Tree‘s self-titled debut (review here), which is due out at the end of April through Magnetic Eye, is currently holding my top spot for debut of the year. Take that as an indication of how highly I regard these two bands at this point. These gigs are going to be killer. If you get to go, consider yourself lucky.

Dates from the PR wire:

mars-red-sky-elephant-tree-uk-tour

MARS RED SKY’s will be touring the UK in May in support of their brand new album ‘Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)’, pushing boundaries further into a colossal heavy sound like never before.

Produced by Gabriel Zander (from Brasil who also engineered ‘Stranded in Arcadia’) and Jacob Dennis in Studio Cryogene in Bègles in France – The band has forged grandiose and hypnotizing thickly produced songs rooted through a wider range of musical influences stretching from Robert Wyatt, The Beatles, Nick Drake, Neil young to bands like Electric Wizard, Acid King and obviously Black Sabbath.

French revered psych-pop doom fuzzers are set to grace the United Kingdom in May for 5 special events, with tour support will be provided by sitar welding, London based Elephant Tree, who are due to release their new album self-titled album through Magnetic Eye Records.

‘Prise for the Burning Soul’ May UK Tour:
12/05 – The Exchange, Bristol Alongside: Black Lung (ft. members of The Flying Eyes), Indica Blues, The Brackish, Raptor
13/05 – The Phoenix, Coventry
14/05 – Birthdays, London Support TBC
15/05 – Rebellion, Manchester Part of Riff Conspiracy III (Noiz)
16/05 – Audio, Glasgow

Tour RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/1574569322856563/

www.marsredsky.net
https://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband/
http://store.merhq.com/album/elephant-tree
https://www.facebook.com/elephanttreeband

Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)

Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree

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Quarterly Review: Sunn O))), Swallow the Sun, Beesus, Giöbia, Decasia, Sonic Mass, Wolvserpent, Delouners, Dead East Garden, Pearl Handled Revolver

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

The Wednesday of a Quarterly Review is always special to me. In the six, maybe seven, times I’ve done this now, Wednesday has always been the marker of turning to the second half of the week. Hump Day in a bizarre context. That said, I feel good about how it’s gone so far and I feel very good about the stuff that’s being written about in more than just that getting-it-out-of-the-way spirit. Still, we start today with something that should’ve been reviewed months ago, and I’ll admit to being glad to have such a formidable weight off my chest.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Sunn O))), Kannon

sunn kannon

Sunn O))) are without question among the most integral bands of their generation. I don’t feel like it’s going even remotely out on a limb to say that. With the three-song full-length, Kannon (on Southern Lord), they go back to exploring the waveforms and ritualistic atmospheres that helped their influence spread in the first place, after several years of collaborating with others like Scott Walker and Ulver. Kannon is the first Sunn O)))-proper LP since 2009’s orchestral Monoliths and Dimensions (review here), and while I understand any and everything I might have to say about it is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the from-all-sides laudits founding guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have received, its three parts nonetheless demonstrate the fact that with Sunn O))), there is never any backward looking, and that even as they strip away elements that made Monoliths and Dimensions as expansive as it was in favor of the claustrophobic rumble and chants of “Kannon 3,” they move relentlessly forward. They remain necessary.

Sunn O))) on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings

 

Swallow the Sun, Songs from the North I, II & III

swallow the sun songs from the north i ii iii

Hey, I like Swallow the Sun. I’ve dug the Finnish outfit since their debut, The Morning Never Came, but I gotta say, maybe a triple album, which Songs from the North I, II and III is, is a bit much? The concept is awesome – one record of light/dark, one record of light, one record of dark – but in practice it’s about a 160 minutes long and a considerable investment to ask of their audience. When it comes to repeat listens, I can’t help but continually go to Songs from the North III, the most extreme installment, which still has plenty of spacious guitar melodies to go with its death-doom emotional and tonal crush, and while I’m not sure that Swallow the Sun would’ve been doing themselves any favors if they spaced out three separate releases rather than bundling them together as they have, it’ll be years before a release of this scope can be properly digested, if it can at all, and for a band whose work is as complex and often lush as Swallow the Sun’s, one wants to absorb it in a way that such a massive offering doesn’t allow.

Swallow the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Century Media

 

Beesus, The Rise of Beesus

beesus the rise of beesus

Italy’s heavy rock boom continues with the debut album from Roman riffers Beesus. The four-piece nod at desert grunge with “6 Ft. Under Box” and roll out thick, loosely-psychedelic vibes on the opening title-track, but The Rise of Beesus primarily tells its story in its plays of density and spaciousness – see “Waltzer” and the later “Sonic Doom/Stoner Youth” – and one is reminded a bit of Snail circa Blood in that, but a sense of variety brings moments like the quiet opening stretch of “Kusa” and the bass-led thrust of “Mata la Verguenza,” making The Rise of Beesus not as easy to predict as it might first appear. When it does indulge its heft, as on “Beesus in Dope,” it satisfies, but while consistent, it is by no means unipolar. It seems to set Beesus up for future expansion on any number of lines, but as their first outing, it also has a noteworthy sense of itself, carving out an identity from diversity of songcraft and an abidingly chaotic vibe.

Beesus on Thee Facebooks

Beesus on Bandcamp

 

Giöbia, Magnifier

giobia magnifier

Fall 2015’s Magnifier (on Sulatron Records) is the fourth LP from Italian psych/space rockers Giöbia, who launch with the ominous cosmic thrust of “This World was Being Watched Closely” and make their grandest statement on side B with the 15-minute lysergic noise excursion of “Sun Spectre.” There and elsewhere in “The Pond,” “The Stain” and the closing “The Magnifier,” Giöbia pursue shroomy sonic enlightenment through soaking reverb and wah, Moog, synth, bouzouki and so on – a somewhat kitchen sink approach resulting in a joyous front-to-back wash of spirited energy and engaging depth. The follow-up to 2013’s Introducing Night Sound (review here), Magnifier finds synth-laden prog swing in “Lentamenta la Luce Svanirà” and pushes air with the low end of its finale title-cut, a right-on dripper that’s round enough to make the world seem square by comparison. The place Giöbia inhabit between psychedelia and space rock is fast becoming a planet all their own, and for ambassadorship of their sound, Magnifier thrills.

Giöbia on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records

 

Decasia, Decasia

decasia decasia title=

Recorded by the band in 2014 and issued in 2015 as their debut EP, Decasia’s Decasia flows more like a long-player, with five cuts that unfold from the tanpura and didgeridoo immersion of opener “Halo,” but I won’t argue. While rawer than what one might commonly expect out of European heavy psychedelia, the French trio nonetheless cull aspects of that sound into their own, so that centerpiece “Blue Love” is right at home with its Hendrixian guitar swing, and closer “Dive” feels within rights to demonstrate a touch of Colour Haze in its initial rhythm, though on the whole Decasia are less laid back and more grunge-informed, resulting in an intriguing blend that, from the burst at the open of “Sherpa” through the crashing finish of “Dive,” shows them as a group able to play to either side at will. They’ve already followed up with the jam “Moodoo Majja,” but I wouldn’t speculate which side will win out as they continue to develop, if indeed any single one does.

Decasia on Thee Facebooks

Decasia on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn

sonic mass you people never learn

The second long-player from London sludgers Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn… would seem immediately to be positioning itself as punishment. Fair enough – there’s certainly some abrasive aspect to its overriding rawness and liberal feedback – but the huge groove that pays off the build in the second half of “Butcher of Brogdael” is more righteous inclusion than it is masochistic, and even faster, shorter cuts like the blown-out punk of “Biker Satania” or “Toga”’s unhinged dual-guitar thrust feels more about a raucous vibe than putting someone off. In the title-track, they move from a wash of distortion into some caustic feedback by the end, but by then the context of You People Never Learn… is such that the nodding push of eight-minute closer “Quadranoid” is more a celebration than a beating, even if it does round out with two minutes of amp crackle, effects and feedback. If it was coming from a stage, you’d raise a pint to it.

Sonic Mass on Thee Facebooks

Sonic Mass on Bandcamp

 

Wolvserpent, Aporia:Kala:Ananta

wolvserpent aporia kala ananta

Longform material is nothing new for Boise, Idaho-based duo Wolvserpent. Both of their two full-lengths to-date, 2010’s Blood Seed and 2013’s Perigaea Antahkarana, have found the ritual drone-doomers working in extended contexts. However, the newly-issued Aporia:Kala:Ananta EP (on Relapse) pushes that line even further. It is a single-song work running 40 minutes of spacious, sometimes grueling, thrillingly challenging heft, marked by a cinematic sense of drama in its use of violin, blackened extremity and striking depth. Drummer/violinist Brittany McConnell and guitarist/vocalist Blake Green aren’t so much taking any huge stylistic leaps from what they’ve done before, but the scope of “Aporia:Kala:Ananta,” as well as the overarching flow of the piece, its patient execution, and the masterful hand with which they guide it, cannot be called anything but progression. The only question I have is why they’re not calling it an album. Considering both its runtime and its breadth, to consider it anything less feels like selling it short.

Wolvserpent on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records

 

Delouners, Family

delouners family

Swapping back and forth between Spanish and English lyrics adds variety to Family, the 13-song/45-minute debut long-player from Uruguayan foursome Delouners, but they weren’t short on it anyway. Spacious, echoing guitars and a languid psychedelia-gone-heavy-blues carry across laid back blowout rolls like “Low” and the more uptempo “Secreto,” and all the more in the side A-ending “Mistery Caravan,” the lazy, hazy, take-it-way-down groove feels derived from an All Them Witches influence. There are more garage rock moments, as on the title-track, the earlier “Los Dormidos,” “Alain Delon” and closer “Mirtha Legrand,” and the shoegazing tropicality of “Sea/Side” furthers an individualized sensibility overall, but that naturalist spirit never departs completely. So be it. Delouners drench this central inspiration in their own sonic persona, and so come off influenced rather than derivative, setting themselves up to branch out their progression as they see fit on whatever they might do next.

Delouners on Thee Facebooks

Delouners on Bandcamp

 

Dead East Garden, Dead East Garden

dead east garden dead east garden

There are five songs on the self-titled debut EP from Cleveland, Ohio’s Dead East Garden and three of them could be said to have something to do with cars – “Starting Line,” “El Camino Rock” and “Straight Burning Road.” That’s not a judgment, just a statement of fact. From the post-Pepper Keenan chug of opener “The Lurker,” one kind of knows what’s coming from the workingman’s heavy rockers, but “Mother’s Disease” fleshes out a less dudely aggro spirit with a more patient initial roll and satisfying lead work from guitarist Ryan Scheel. The beer-soaked vibes resume as “Straight Burning Road” comes on to close, vocalist Pat Homolish layering spoken and belted-out hooks as bassist John Roach (since out of the band) and drummer R.J. Drenski hold down one more straightforward groove, and Dead East Garden reinforce the plainspoken intent on display across the short release, as light on pretense as it is heavy on testosterone.

Dead East Garden on Thee Facebooks

Dead East Garden website

 

Pearl Handled Revolver, If the Devil Cast His Net

pearl handled revolver if the devil cast his net

As with their 2013 sophomore outing, This Mountain Waits (review here), the third album from UK heavy blues/classic rockers Pearl Handled Revolver, titled If the Devil Cast His Net, uses synth, Mellotron, electric piano and organ to explore a wide variety of moods, from the soft-guitar blues of “Someone Like You” to the rambling “Absinthe in Adelaide.” All throughout, the band reaffirm their mastery of these styles as they go, be it the boogie shuffle of “Loverman” or the side A closing title-track, which sets forth one of the record’s most engaging bass grooves under gravelly verse before moving into an extended instrumental jam, no less poised than anything preceding or following. That plotted feel is at the core of Pearl Handled Revolver’s approach – nothing is here by accident – and it makes their songcraft all the more inarguable, taking in a post-The Doors bounce on closer “Into the Blue” as they mirror the end of the album’s first half for another striking finish.

Pearl Handled Revolver on Thee Facebooks

Pearl Handled Revolver website

 

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Quarterly Review: Wheel in the Sky, Sun Dial, LSD & the Search for God, Duel, The Canadian Sweetmen, Wren, Transient, Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Telstar Sound Drone, Fantasy Arcade

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

So it begins. I’d say this one snuck up on me, but the terrible truth of these things is that there are months of planning involved. You know the drill by now: Between today and Friday, I’ll be posting 50 record reviews in batches of 10 per day, and that’s the Quarterly Review. They’re not really in any order. Some have been out for a while, some aren’t out yet. I have tried to mark 2015 stuff where possible, if only to keep my own organizational modus straight. We’ll see how that goes as the week plays out. In any case, I hope you find something here that you dig. I know I have.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Wheel in the Sky, Heading for the Night

wheel in the sky heading for the night

Although Wheel in the Sky’s presentation is modern enough on their The Sign Records debut album, Heading for the Night, to steer them clear of Sweden’s boogie-mad masses, they’re still very clearly taking influence from classic rock, most notably The Who on cuts like opener “Fire, Death to All” (also the longest track; immediate points), “Total Eclipse of the Brain” and “Thrust in the Night.” The clarity of sound and approach puts them more in line with bands like The Golden Grass and, for a countrymen example, Troubled Horse, than Graveyard, and the Uppsala/Stockholm four-piece distinguish themselves further through the dual-lead interplay of “A Turn for the Wicked,” which hints just a bit toward Thin Lizzy bounce to feed into closer “God on High,” which coats its vocals in echo to add a sense of grandeur before the last instrumental push, which picks up the pace at the end to cap a first album from a band clearly looking to find their own niche within a classic heavy rock feel.

Wheel in the Sky on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control

sun dial mind control

Offered first by the band in 2012 and reissued through Sulatron Records with two bonus tracks from the same recording session, Sun Dial’s Mind Control puts the long-running UK psych/space rockers in their element in a kosmiche expanse quickly on “Mountain of Fire and Miracles,” and while electronic experimentation is a factor throughout “Radiation” and “Burned In,” there’s always a human spirit underneath and sometimes out front in what Sun Dial do, and the newly-included “Seven Pointed Star” and “World Within You” fit in with the sense of acid ritual that the original album tracks convey, the title cut transposing Hawkwindian warp drive on a more relaxed atmosphere, each measure seemingly a mantra in a longer meditation. Even with its wah-soaked ending, “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” has a more straightforward tack, proving that even when you think you know what a group like Sun Dial are up to, you’re probably wrong.

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Mind Control at Sulatron Records

 

LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place

lsd and the search for god heaven is a place

The second EP from San Francisco-based shoegazing psychedelic rockers LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place, arrives a whopping nine years after its self-titled predecessor. Granted, it might be the wash of effects and the almost-whispered vocal melodies that seem to barely break the surface of the waves of airy distortion, but if any of this material goes back that far, it doesn’t show its age. The five-piece – guitarist/vocalist Andy Liszt, vocalist Sophia Cambell, guitarist Chris Fifield, bassist Ryan Lescure and drummer Ricky Maymi – offer five tracks of blissed-out, dripping wet vibe, with “Outer Space (Long Way Home)” at the center of a post-grunge swirl following the cosmic push of “(I Don’t Think that We Should) Take it Slow” and before the serenity of “Elizabeth” takes hold as a lead-in for seven-minute finale “Without You,” simultaneously the most lucid and dreamy of the cuts included. Nine years is a long time. Heaven is a Place begs for a quicker follow-up.

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LSD and the Search for God on Bandcamp

 

Duel, Fears of the Dead

duel fears of the dead

Austin purveyors Duel make a striking impression from the cover onward with their Heavy Psych Sounds full-length debut, Fears of the Dead. The four-piece, which by all reports features two former members of Scorpion Child, get down with classic swing on the opening title-track and thereby broadcast the intent of the album as a whole, bringing ‘70s-style grooves and boogie forward in time with modern fullness and a crisp production that highlights the gruff vocals of guitarist Tom Frank, who alongside bassist/vocalist Shaun Avants, guitarist Derek Halfmann and drummer JD Shadowz, swaggers through the record’s eight included slabs as one might through a crowded venue for the next in a long series of an evening’s beers. Later cuts like “When the Pigs are Fed” and 7:52 closer “Locked Outside” bring some more variety to the approach, but the heart of Fears of the Dead remains brash and unbridled, and one doubts if Duel would have it any other way.

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Heavy Psych Sounds

 

The Canadian Sweetmen, Intro b/w New Cigarettes

the canadian sweetmen intro new cigarettes

One might blink and miss the debut single from somewhat mysterious psychedelic rockers The Canadian Sweetmen, which totals its A and B sides together for a runtime of about four and a half minutes, but the fact that the 90-second “Intro” (the A side) manages to marry The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys in that span is definitely something worth taking the time to note. There’s just about no information on the band as to who they are, where they come from, where they’re going, etc., but the three-minute “New Cigarettes” makes an impression on style and substance alike and offers an encouraging glimpse at what seems to be a psychedelia bolstered by organ and Rhodes and unbound by a need to adhere to genre tenets. “Intro” doesn’t even stick around long enough to do so, but “New Cigarettes” careens into a rhythmic push for its chorus that offers an earthy undertone to the heady, spaced-out vibe. More please.

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The Canadian Sweetmen on Soundcloud

 

Wren, Host

wren host

Absolutely devastating. UK post-sludgers Wren dole out a punishment that won’t be soon forgotten on their second EP, Host (on Holy Roar), following up the blackened post-rock of their 2014 self-titled EP (review here) and their 2015 split with Irk (review here) with four pummeling but still richly atmospheric cuts. Working now as the lineup of Owen Jones, Chris Pickering, Robert Letts and John McCormick, Wren have had three different vocalists on their three releases, but not a one of them has failed to add to the ambience and crushing impression of their riffs, and the hook of “No Séance” particularly on Host signifies that despite whatever lineup shifts they may have had, Wren continue to progress and refine their attack. “Stray,” “No Séance,” “The Ossuary” and “Loom” are unshakable, deeply weighted and righteously spaced. They may have flown somewhat under the radar up to this point, but Wren are too loud to be a well kept secret for much longer.

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Wren on Bandcamp

 

Transient, Transient

transient transient

Some 12 years after their initial demo surfaced in 2003, Massachusetts’ Transient present an atmospheric take on alt-metal with their self-titled debut full-length, self-released last fall. Bringing together nine tracks/46 minutes with a patient but tense pacing and underlying currents of progressive metal in cuts like “Ditch of Doubt” and “Wrong Time,” it unfolds gracefully with the intro “Voyager One” and finds an aggressive burst in “Wrong Time” and the Tool-gone-psych build of the penultimate “Slightest Scare.” That song is part of an extended two-cut closing suite with “Hold this Grudge,” which highlights Scott McCooe’s bass tone as it provides a surprising but satisfying laid back finish. McCooe, joined here by guitarist/vocalist Tim Hayes and drummer John Harris, splits his time with metalcore progenitors Overcast, and as Transient was recorded over a year’s stretch and then mixed and mastered a year after that – living up to the band’s name – it may be a while before a follow-up, but after so long from their demo, it’s still a welcome debut.

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Transient on Bandcamp

 

Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Split

desert storm suns of thunder split

Issued by H42 Records in a limited edition for this year’s Desertfest, the new split 7” from UK heavy platoons Desert Storm and Suns of Thunder is so dudely they could sell it as vitamin supplements on late-night tv. A complex critique of gender it is not, heavy it is. One track from each band. Desert Storm bring the burl of “Signals from Beyond,” which with its strong hook and gravely vocals brings to mind Orange Goblin nestled into a nodding riff. For Swansea’s Suns of Thunder, it’s “Earn Your Stripes,” with its complex vocal arrangements for lyrics about small men and big men, paying your dues and other whathaveyou that dominant culture tells those with testicles will make them more complete people. Fine. Masculinity and femininity are scams to sell pants, but “Earn Your Stripes” is catchy as all anything and “Signals from Beyond” is even catchier than however catchy that is, so a testosterone overdose seems a small price to pay.

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Telstar Sound Drone, Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles

telstar sound drone magical solutions to everyday problems

Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles is the second album from Copenhagen-based auralnauts Telstar Sound Drone, and like much of what Bad Afro releases, it presents a strong temptation to drop out, tune in and turn on. Little surprise the band is something of an offshoot from Baby Woodrose, sharing guitarist Mads Saaby and drummer Hans Beck with the seminal garage rockers, but the lush impression made on “Something I Can’t Place” with the watery vocals of Sean Jardenbæk comes from an even more lysergic place, and the experimental side that comes through on “Closer Again,” “Dark Kashmir” and the languid “Dead Spaces” is a multi-tiered dreamscape that closer “Lean down on White” seems sad to leave. Reasonably so. With guest spots from members of Spids Nøgenhat, Bite the Bullet and Baby Woodrose (Kåre Joensen on bass/synth), Telstar Sound Drone’s sophomore outing is an otherworldly psychedelic vision that, as promised, does seem to cure what ails, exciting even in its most subdued moments.

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Bad Afro Records

 

Fantasy Arcade, Fantasy Arcade

fantasy arcade fantasy arcade

Initially offered by the band in 2012 and subsequently pressed to a six-song 7” and jewel case CD, the self-titled debut EP from San Diego trio Fantasy Arcade only runs about 11 minutes, but that’s all it needs to bring together punk, thrash, sludge and heavy rock across fuckall-heavy cuts like “The Dwarves are Missing” – the longest song here at 3:38 – and the rumbling finale “Die Before You Suck,” which gallops and shouts and seems to crash into walls on its way out, though drummer/vocalist Adam, bassist/vocalist Chris and guitarist Mike actually do well in deciding when to keep control and when to let it go. More nuanced than it lets on, Fantasy Arcade is an aggressive pulse given to moments of frustration boiling over, but being rooted in metal as much as punk, its dwelling in two worlds gives heft to the freneticism at play, as shown in “Poison Arrow,” the first half of which runs at a sprint right into the brick wall slowdown of its second, and final, minute.

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Bright Curse Release Before the Shore May 13; Euro Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

London-based heavy rockers Bright Curse unfold a patient heavy psychedelia as they give the first sample of their forthcoming Before the Shore LP, but “The Shore” isn’t without a corresponding sense of build. Been looking forward to new Bright Curse basically since their 2013 self-titled (review here), and though they offered up the single Shaman (review here) last year, they’ve had a bit of tumult to get them on the path to signing to HeviSike Records for Before the Shore, lineup changes and so on, but whatever got them there, I’ll be excited to hear more when/if should the opportunity arise.

The PR wire brings EU tour dates, album details — no art yet; also interested to see what they have in store for that — and the stream of “The Shore” for instant-gratification-type enjoyment:

bright curse

BRIGHT CURSE sign to HeviSike for release of Before The Shore album | Announce EU tour and stream/share new song

New album Before The Shore by Bright Curse is released on 13th May via HeviSike Records

Formed in London in 2012 out of the expatriated ashes of French psychedelic rock band Soul Manifest, Bright Curse is a band that requires little introduction to anyone that has kept a close ear to the underground in recent years.

This May, the trio – featuring guitar player and vocalist Romain Daut, drummer Zacharie Mizzi and newest member Max Ternebring on bass – will follow up on their 2013 self-titled EP with the release of their full-length debut, Before The Shore, on HeviSike Records. Another rising star and staple of the subterranean/heavy-psychedelic set that has been making a noteworthy name for itself of late with releases from Dead Feathers, Prophets Of Saturn and Elevators To The Grateful Sky.

Recorded and produced by the band with J.B Pilon at Rock Of London Studios and mastered by Jaime Gomez Arellano at Orgone Studios, Before The Shore dives headfirst into the deep and darkened sea of brooding rock ‘n’ roll. Still riffing epic spectrums of dark and light but trading in the extended jams and out-and-out sounds of space rock, doom and metal found on their Bright Curse EP, for a more measured, and ultimately stunning approach. An approach that brings with it the hypnotic soul of David Gilmour-esque guitar solos, blustering Iommi riffs and stirringly effective Deep Purple key sections. All of which pull Bright Curse up through the surface at a rate of knots and out into the open waters of contemporary rock ‘n’ roll greats such as Graveyard, Kadavar and Colour Haze.

Having played live with the likes of Earthless, Naam, Mars Red Sky and Pentagram at festivals such Glad Stone Fest (France), Up In Smoke Fest (Switzerland) and more recently Desertfest (London), Bright Curse hit the road next month as part of a co-op tour with France’s Space Fisters (see dates below) ahead of the release of Before The Shore on 13th May 2016 through HeviSike.

Bright Curse:
Romain Daut – Guitars, Vocals
Zacharie Mizzi – Drums
Max Ternebring – Bass

Live Dates:
20 May – El Diablo (w. Space Fisters) – Lille, France
21 May – Le Bocal – Caen, France
23 May – Make It Sabbathy (w. Space Fisters) – Bordeaux, France
24 May – Venue TBA (w. Space Fisters) – Nantes, France
26 May – The Cave – Amsterdam, Netherlands
2 June – Les Capucins – Lyon, France
3 June – Bistro KA – Karlsruhe, Germany
4 June – Venue TBA – Cologne, Germany
7 June – Kalvingrad, L’Usine – Geneva, Switzerland

https://www.facebook.com/BrightCurse/
https://twitter.com/Brightcurseband
http://brightcurse.com/
http://brightcurse.bandcamp.com/
hevisike.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/hevisike/

Bright Curse, “The Shore”

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Orange Goblin Sign to Spinefarm Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Anyone who tells you that’s not a good get for Spinefarm Records doesn’t know what they’re talking about. After more than 20 years of slogging it out in the doom underground, London’s Orange Goblin are not only legitimately a key influence for a generation of British heavy, but their last couple albums, 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) and 2012’s A Eulogy for the Damned (review here), have put them on an upswing in terms of audience. To be more than two decades in and be ascendant? That’s something special, which Orange Goblin most definitely are. Thus, a good get.

Cool to know they’re working on a new album as well, which as part of Spinefarm‘s acquisition of Candlelight Records will be released on the label sometime in 2017. I’ll be interested to see how much touring Orange Goblin do to support it. They’ve rode the hell out of the past few years, become the genuine headliners that they actually were for a long time, and I guess the question is whether they’ll keep that up or take a different strategy. Got a while to go before we get there, but I’m sure it won’t be long before we find out either way. They’re not exactly quiet about anything they do.

From the PR wire:

orange goblin

ORANGE GOBLIN JOIN THE SPINEFARM FAMILY VIA CANDLELIGHT

WORKING ON NINTH STUDIO ALBUM

Orange Goblin are very proud to announce that we are now part of the Spinefarm Records family following Spinefarm’s recent acquisition of Candlelight Records.
Moving forward, all new Orange Goblin recordings will be released via Spinefarm/Candlelight Records; OG now take their place amongst metal heavyweights such as Ghost, Venom, Electric Wizard, Airbourne and Rammstein (to name but a few).

This new relationship kicks off in considerable style, with Orange Goblin appearing as Special Guests to Monster Magnet on the latter’s one-off headline London show at The o2 Forum, Kentish Town on Saturday, March 19th.

Following this, we can reveal that we will be touring in late September / early October, playing select shows in towns and cities that we did not visit on the 20th Anniversary Tour last December.

‘The Shortest Tour’ will hit the following:
30.09 – Reading, Sub 89
01.10 – Sheffield, HRH Doom Vs Stoner Festival*
02.10 – Cardiff, The Globe
03.10 – Southampton, Engine Rooms
04.10 – Brighton, Concorde 2

Support on all headline dates comes from US psych-rockers ELECTRIC CITIZEN and UK doom metal merchants POSEIDON.
(* – Please note that Poseidon are not as yet playing at HRH Doom Vs Stoner Fest in Sheffield)

https://www.facebook.com/orangegoblinofficial/
https://www.facebook.com/spinefarm

Orange Goblin, “Beginner’s Guide to Suicide” live at Desertfest London 2015

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