Review & Track Premiere: Mountain Tamer, Godfortune Dark Matters

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mountain tamer godfortune dark matters

[Click play above to stream ‘Wretched’ by Mountain Tamer. Their new album, Godfortune Dark Matters, is out Aug. 24 on Magnetic Eye with Nasoni Records vinyl to follow.]

One tends to think of Californian heavy psych these days as kind of a cool-kids club of freakout-jamming skaters, ripping an endless barrage of solos in post-Earthless fashion. Los Angeles trio Mountain Tamer have their shredding aspects, to be sure, but are ultimately on a different, grimmer trip. Shades of cultish metal make their way in amid fuzz-guitar riffing, righteously-turning bass and wide-sounding drum crash as their second album, Godfortune // Dark Matters Comprised of a not-inconsiderable 11 tracks for an also-not-considerable 49-minute run, the Magnetic Eye Records and Nasoni Records release came prefaced by a two-song 2017 demo titled Living in Vain (review here) that had early versions of “Living in Vain Part 1” and “Wretched,” both of which reappear here.

That demo followed their 2016 Argonauta Records self-titled debut (review here) and 2015 Mtn Tmr demo (review here), both of which gave early showings of potential for the progression that would seem to be continuing here. As they push the LP format to its limits, they also push themselves into a more individualized sound, like a brooding take on youngest Nebula, maybe, but looser. There’s a sense in the drums of Casey Garcia that the whole thing could come apart at any time, as heard in “Primitive Control,” which leads off a side B (I think; if not, it provides a transition at the end of side A) made up of longer tracks featuring more exploration in the drums as well as from guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall and bassist Dave Teget.

They’re not jamming, exactly. Even on 7:44 closer “Head Over Heels,” they choose to go with a slower march rather than fly off the handle on an improv sonic jaunt, but either way, there’s clearly a plan at work; a vision for the album as a whole and its method of expression. After the Sabbath-circa-’75 cacophony of opener “Faith Peddler,” there’s the chunkier riffing of “Funeral of a Dog,” which soon enough delves into tribalist percussion and flute behind echoing chants that in turn give way to a howling solo. And that’s the first two and a half minutes.

From there, they dip back into hard psych and stonerist vibes en route to the more straight-ahead approach of “People Problems,” a quick showcase of hook and instrumental dynamic, Hall layering in two solos, one more effects-drenched than the other, between choruses in the second half of the song before a quick shout and noise assault brings on the trad-metal chug of “Living in Vain Part 1.” It and the immediately following “Living in Vain Part 2” make their connection via Garcia‘s drums, but both also share a propensity for a weirdo vibe and earthy psych-rocking approach. The second part doesn’t have verses so much as repeated lines where they might otherwise be, and its thickened-garage intensity plays out with radiating energy that seems only to build on the song before.

mountain tamer

There’s some hypnotic aspect from the repetition, but Godfortune // Dark Matters is so brash-sounding in its production and delivery that it quickly snaps any trance it might induce. The dividing line between the first half of the record and the second is, suitably enough, centerpiece “Nectar,” which is a 1:43 psychedelic interlude of classic rocking form, just a quick instrumental that, in some ways similar to “Funeral of a Dog,” purposefully shifts the flow of momentum the album has thus far built in order to defy expectation. It’s emblematic of the level of thought Mountain Tamer have put into their second full-length overall, and “Primitive Control” continues the thread by picking up with a shove of cyclical riffing that is nothing short of masterful in its combination of sprawl and compressed atmospherics.

A break shortly before the three-minute mark brings in howling guitar, drum thud and steady bass — the latter is a welcome grounding force throughout — before a final solo finishes and leads to “Wretched,” which is a foreshadow to “Head Over Heels” still to come and a slower rollout altogether. That forces some of the earlier hairpin-turn-style danger elsewhere for the time being, but ultimately makes Godfortune // Dark Matters a richer listen with a wider aesthetic berth. Naturally it comes paired with the freak-assault of “Mydnyte” — two ‘y’s! it’s madnyss — the five and a half minutes of which read like a guidebook for the outer reaches of the known psychedelic cosmos. It switches between solidified riff-chugness and such spacey fare, with a wash of noise at the end that brings on the shorter “Riff Dealer.”

At 4:05, “Riff Dealer” is the only cut on the second half of Godfortune // Dark Matters that checks in at under five minutes, and while one might expect that to mean it’s a return to the relatively grounded structures presented earlier, tying disparate ideas and sonic themes together ahead of the finale, that’s a big no dice. “Riff Dealer” pushes into a slower, druggier haze and saves its swing for the back half, cutting to silence well ahead of the arrival of “Head Over Heels,” which fades in on feedback and buzzing amp fuzz. Once again, Teget‘s bass is a standout factor, but Mountain Tamer all seem aware of the occasion, and while I don’t know whether “Head Over Heels” was specifically written to close the album, it excels in that role, calling to mind some of circa-’92 Monster Magnet‘s righteous arrogance in transposing space rock to suit their own needs, even if that’s not a direct comparison of sound.

Atop a rumble and the already noted more grueling lumber, Hall‘s voice echoes as it seems to shout into an unhearing desert. They ride the central riff to a long fadeout and it’s hard to imagine a more fitting end to a record of such obvious individualist pursuits. That is to say, what’s happening throughout Godfortune // Dark Matters is that Mountain Tamer are working toward carving out a niche for themselves in and around heavy rock and psychedelia. They get there, to be sure, but the journey in no way sounds like it’s over.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Instagram

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records website

Nasoni Records website

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Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections: Feels Like Being Gone

Posted in Reviews on August 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors have never worked to expectation. The Los Angeles unit were last heard from with 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), which I absolutely consider one of the best albums of this decade, and that arrived following 2011’s Invisible White EP (review here), 2009’s Of Sound Mind (review here) and 2008’s demo-turned-debut-album, Neptune with Fire (discussed here). Through each release, the band have pushed themselves further along a progressive and individualized path, and while their first outing seemed to be a clarion of post-Sleep riffing, calling across its epic tracks to the converted, “Come here and nod out,” they’ve never really been that kind of band and show little interest in it now. Their new album, Suspended in Reflections, finds them signed to Pelagic Records, run by Robin Staps of The Ocean, and even that endorsement signals how much they’ve grown beyond where they started out a decade ago.

That’s not to say Ancestors can’t still roll out a heavy groove when it suits them — it’s pretty much the first thing they do on Suspended in Reflections, while also providing a landmark hook in opener “Gone” that bleeds into second track “Through a Window” as well — just that their doing so is one weapon in a crowded arsenal of melody, space, ambience, heft and craft. About half an hour shorter than its predecessor, the album comprises six tracks for a 36-minute LP with three cuts each on two sides, each of those ending with its longest song, “Lying in the Grass” (7:37) on side A and “The Warm Glow” (8:31) on side B. Anyone who heard In Dreams and Time closer “First Light” (discussed here) can tell you Ancestors have a thing for a big finale, and guitarist/vocalist Justin Maranga, bassist Jason Watkins and drummer Daniel Pouliot continue that thread here, though even those two tracks — and it is both, make no mistake — have to be considered stripped down in relation last time out. Ancestors‘ sound is lush and immersive and patient and gorgeous and any number of other things, but it’s not raw, and that applies here too, but in their structure and execution, the tracks on Suspended in Reflections feel more about expression than ambition.

Of course, the paring down of grandiosity is no simple thing in any context and an ambition unto itself, but it makes Ancestors‘ communication more efficient here. “Gone” starts out with a melancholy verse with layers of backing vocals, organ and patient guitar notes over a weighted groove en route to its chorus, which sets a defining impression in its discussion of death: “And it feels like being gone/And it feels like moving on/And it feels like nothing’s wrong anymore.” Again, those lines will reappear in “Through a Window,” which follows, giving a sense of overarching composition to the proceedings — Ancestors writing a full album as opposed to a collection of songs or parts — and with the organ playing such a prominent role throughout, the material ties together even further. A sweeping guitar chord transitions “Gone” into “Through a Window” and the first half of the track builds back up to that reappearance, so crucial as it is. Much of the second half of the track is given to softer contemplation, Maranga‘s guitar and the organ setting a melodic foundation in accordance with the easy flow in the drums and bass, an instrumental stretch it’s easy to lose oneself within that caps with cymbal washes and a fading guitar that leaves a bed of silence to start the quiet beginning of “Lying in the Grass.”

ancestors

What seems to be a vocoder bolsters the ethereal atmosphere so pervasive thus far, and clearer vocals emerge as the build in the first half moves into its next stage, the slowness coming to a full tone and crash that underscores the beauty of what the band is creating while staying on theme in terms of the interplay of guitar and organ, dropping back to a subdued state in the second half à la “Through a Window” just before in order to build up again instrumentally as it passes the six-minute mark, again pulling back to finish quiet with soft vocals and a final crash that leaves the organ tone on a fade to let the sudden start — unless you’re listening on an actual LP, in which case, it’s only sudden after you’ve gotten up to flip the record — of side B opener “Into the Fall” make its entrance. Already, Ancestors have typified Suspended in Reflections with a depth of mix that seems to be even more than the sum of its instruments and set a range for themselves that’s nothing short of encompassing. The second half of the album reaffirms this and builds on it with a linearity of its own, furthering the full-album impression of side A while remaining distinct from it.

That’s not to say there’s some great leap in sound away from what the first three tracks are doing, just that as “Into the Fall” takes a heavy post-rock epic and trims it down to an efficient five minutes, the vibe seems to shift. The introduction of strings to the mix could have something to do with that, but the wash of distortion that takes hold at the 3:20 mark remains in line with what Suspended in Reflections has thus far brought to bear, and its way of capping with residual guitar resonance on a fade directly into the piano notes, guitar ambience and synth swells of “Release” speaks directly at how “Gone” gave way to “Through a Window” earlier. The synth comes to a head and cuts out, leaving dream-jazz piano to hold sway and set the mood for the second half of the four-minute instrumental, which carries some of the foreboding that one found in Invisible White while also setting up the turn into “The Warm Glow,” which begins its soar after a quiet first minute and surges forward on a slow-moving wave of low distortion cut through by shouted vocals in a post-metallic tradition.

It’s not an assault by any means, but it is arguably the most outwardly heavy payoff on Suspended in Reflections and obviously placed accordingly as the finale. True to form, it caps not with a grand overstatement, but with a quiet exploration, the band feeling their way to the album’s finish in naturalist form. Those moments, far from extras or tack-ons, are essential to the impression of Suspended in Reflections in its entirety, no less so than its heavier moments, as they help to cast the full breadth of the material and to situate Ancestors in each stretch and in each place within their considerable range. They are, in effect, the product of that range, the result of it and a contributing factor to it. One might think of Suspended in Reflections as digging to the roots of what In Dreams and Time was. It accomplishes many of the same aesthetic feats in just about half the time, and it retains a memorable songwriting element that ties it not only to the LP immediately before, but to the band’s work all along. Some of this material may have had its origins years ago, but it is unmistakably another step forward in Ancestors ongoing creative progression.

Ancestors, “Gone” official video

Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections (2018)

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Ancestors on Twitter

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Pelagic Records website

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Mountain Tamer to Release Godfortune Dark Matters Aug. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mountain tamer

If I was the interview-question-asking type, I might hit up Mountain Tamer and attempt to sate my curiosity as to why they moved from Santa Cruz to Los Angeles sometime in between the 2016 release of their self-titled debut (review here) and now. Somebody get a job? Someone have a line to a better rehearsal space? Better scene? Better connections? I don’t know much about Santa Cruz but if California has a hotbed of underground heavy at the moment, it would either be San Diego or San Francisco, and I can’t imagine Mountain Tamer‘s doom-infused heavy psych grooves wouldn’t go over really well in either town. I see stuff like that and get curious sometimes.

Of much greater import at least as regards this post — hey, moving is a big life-decision — is the fact that Mountain Tamer, after putting out the first full-length on Argonauta, have hooked up with Magnetic Eye Records and Nasoni Records both for the follow-up, which is titled Godfortune Dark Matters and set for an Aug. 24 release. You can see more info and the surprisingly foreboding cover art below. If I was the interview-question-asking type, I might be curious about that as well.

From the PR wire:

mountain tamer godfortune dark matters

California stoner-psych trio MOUNTAIN TAMER to release blistering new album, GODFORTUNE DARK MATTERS, on August 24th.

Hailing from the golden coasts of Los Angeles, heavy psych trio Mountain Tamer has been hypnotizing audiences for several years with their lysergic blend of stoner rock structures and psychedelic freakouts. Their lucid jams, swinging drums and angular yet timeless riffs have helped build momentum among fans and critics in anticipation of their new full-length album, Godfortune Darkmatters.

Formed in 2011 just outside San Francisco, Mountain Tamer found early success touring with acts like Dead Meadow, The Budos Band, and Weedeater. After cutting their teeth on the road for a few years, they released their demo, MTNTMR, to the masses, a critical success that landed the band a deal with Argonauta records.

Argonauta released Mountain Tamer’s self-titled debut album, which was lauded by the underground metal press.

Their growing notoriety found the trio, composed of Andrew hall (guitar/vocals), Casey Garcia (drums), and Dave Teget (bass), relocating to LA and opening for the likes of Nick Oliveri’s Mondo Generator and other Cali-based scene stalwarts.

From their new vantage with Nasoni Records and Magnetic Eye Records, Mountain Tamer have their sights set on more touring and pushing their musical horizons with the release of Godfortune Darkmatters, a strutting, garage-tinged groove-fest that delivers on the promise of everything they’ve put forth.

Godfortune Darkmatters releases digitally on Magnetic Eye Records on August 24th. Vinyl edition to follow via the fine folks at Nasoni Records.

Mountain Tamer will blanket the Southwestern and Southern United States on tour this September! Dates in the works as follows:

9/6/2018 Tempe, AZ Yucca Taproom
9/7/2018 El Paso,TX Rockin CIgar Bar
9/8/2018 San Antonio, TX Faust Tavern
9/9/2018 TBD TBD
9/10/2018 Houston, TX Super Happy Funland
9/11/2018 Austin,TX Lost Well
9/12/2018 TBD TBD
9/13/2018 Lafayette, LA Freetown Boom Boom Room
9/14/2018 New Orleans, LA Santos Bar
9/15/2018 Birmingham, AL The Nick
9/16/2018 Memphis TBD
9/17/2018 Nashville Radio Cafe
9/18/2018 TBD TBD
9/19/2018 Washginton, D.C TBD
9/20/2018 Philadelphia, PA Grape Room
9/21/2018 TBD TBD
9/22/2018 TBD TBD
9/23/2018 New York, NY Pianos
9/24/2018 TBD TBD
9/25/2018 TBD TBD
9/26/2018 TBD TBD
9/27/2018 Chicago, IL TBD
9/28/2018 Des moines, IA Vaudeville Mews
9/29/2018 Denver, CO Lions Lair
9/30/2018 Salt Lake City, UT Urban lounge

https://www.facebook.com/MTNTMR/
https://www.instagram.com/mtntmr/
https://mtntmr.bandcamp.com/
https://www.merhq.net/
https://www.nasoni-records.com/

Mountain Tamer, Mountain Tamer (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Glanville, Destroyer of Light, The Re-Stoned, Ruff Majik, Soldat Hans, High Priestess, Weed Demon, Desert Storm, Ancient Altar, Black Box Warning

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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

So Day 1’s done and it’s time to move on to Day 2. Feeling stressed and totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff still to be done? Why yes, I am. Thanks for asking. In the past, I used to handle the Quarterly Review well ahead of time. It’s always a lot to get through, but the week before, I’d be setting up back ends, chasing down links and Bandcamp players, starting reviews, etc., so that when it came time, all I had to do was the writing and plug it all into a post and I was set.

There was some prep-work done this past weekend, but especially this time, with my old laptop having been stolen in May, it’s all been way more jazz-improv. I was still adding releases as of last Friday, and writing beforehand? Shit. With the baby having just figured out how to climb? Not bloody likely. Accordingly, here we are, with much to do.

It’ll get done. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet, and if I took an extra day to get there, I’m under no delusion that anyone else would care. So there you go. Let’s hit it for Day 2:

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Glanville, First Blood

glanville first blood

First Blood is the aptly-titled five-song debut EP from Glanville, a newcomer dual-guitar outfit with established players Philip Michel (The Earwix) on lead and Christopher West (Named by the Sun, ex-Stubb, etc.) on rhythm, Wight’s Peter-Philipp Schierhorn on bass and René Hofmann on vocals, and Thomas Hoffman (ex-Bushfire) on drums. Based in Germany and the UK, the group present 23 minutes of material on their first outing, drawing from the guitar-led likes of Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest to capture early metal and present it with a heavy rocking soulfulness and modern production. The most raucous of the cuts might be centerpiece “Durga the Great,” but neither “God is Dead” nor “Dancing on Fire” before nor “Demons” and “Time to Go” after want for action, and especially the latter builds to a furious head to close out the release. Hofmann as a standalone singer wants for nothing in range or approach, and the band behind him obviously build on their collective experience to dig into a stylistic nuance rarely executed with such confidence. They’ve found a place willfully between and are working to make it theirs. Can’t ask for more than that.

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Glanville on Bandcamp

 

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless

destroyer of light hopeless

Having just recently signed to Argonauta Records for a new album in 2019, Austin doomers Destroyer of Light follow their 2017 long-player, Chamber of Horrors (review here), with a further auditory assault in the lumbering Hopeless. Psychedelic and yet still somehow traditional doom lingers in the brain after “Nyx” and “Drowned” have finished – the latter with an Alan Watts sample discussing alcoholism – and the band moves into demos for Chamber of Horrors cuts “Into the Smoke,” “Lux Crusher” and “Buried Alive.” Between the two previously unreleased songs and those three demos, Hopeless pushes to 39 minutes, but it’s probably still fair to call it an EP because of the makeup. Either way, from the miserable plod of “Nyx,” in which each chug in the riff cycle seems to count another woe, to the rolling nod early and surprising melody late in “Drowned,” Hopeless is anything but. Anticipation was already pretty high for Destroyer of Light’s next record after the last one, but all Hopeless does is show further depth of approach and more cleverly-wielded atmospheric murk. And the more it sounds like there’s no escape, the more Destroyer of Light seem to be in their element.

Destroyer of Light on Thee Facebooks

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Stories of the Astral Lizard

the re-stonEd stories of the astral lizard

The inevitable question is “Why a lizard?” and if you make it four minutes into 11-minute opener “Fractal Panorama” and don’t have your answer, go back ad start over. Moscow heavy psych instrumentalists The Re-Stoned intend the reptile as a spirit guide for their new outing Stories of the Astral Lizard (on Oak Island Records), which follows quickly behind their late-2017 offering, Chronoclasm (review here), and given the ultra-patient desert vibes in the opener, the acoustic-laced folk-prog of “Mental Print for Free,” the languid meander of “A Companion from the Outside,” the swirling sprawl of the 16-minute “Two Astral Projections” and the final cowpoke drift of “The Heather Carnival,” one might indeed just find a lizard sunning its belly amid all the atmospheric evocations and hallucinatory vibes. I’ll take “Two Astral Projections” as the highlight, but mostly because the extra length allows the band to really dig in, but really the whole album feeds together gorgeously and is a new level of achievement when it comes to atmosphere for The Re-Stoned, who were already underappreciated and find themselves only more so now.

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Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Seasons

Ruff Majik Seasons

Right on fuzz, right on groove, right on vibe – there isn’t much else one might say about Ruff Majik’s Seasons (on Rock Freaks Records and Forbidden Place Records) beyond “right on.” Heavy rock with twists of psychedelia, the Pretoria, South Africa, three-piece of Johni Holliday, Jimi Glass and Benni Manchino make their home on the lines of various subgenres, but wherever they go, the proceedings remain decisively heavy. To wit, a cut like “Breathing Ghosts” or the later “Birds Stole My Eyes” might dig into shuffle boogie or extreme-metal-derived thrust, but there’s a chemistry between the members and a resonant looseness that ties the material together, and as the last 14 of the total 66 minutes are dedicated to “Asleep in the Leaves,” there’s plenty of progressive weirdness in which to bask, one song moving through the next such that neither “Hanami Sakura (And the Ritual Suicide” nor the semi-doom-plodding “The Deep Blue” nor the funky twists of “Tar Black Blood” come across as predictable. Seasons might take a few listens to sink in, but it’s easily worth that effort.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Ruff Majik at Rock Freaks Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Soldat Hans, Es Taut

SOLDAT HANS ES TAUT-750

Hyperbole-worthy post-ism from Switzerland’s Soldat Hans makes their sophomore outing, Es Taut – on Wolves and Vibrancy Records as a 2LP – a forward thinking highlight. As rich in atmosphere as Crippled Black Phoenix and as lethal as Converge or Neurosis or anyone else you might dare to put next to them, the six-piece made their debut with 2014’s Dress Rehearsal (review here) and served notice of their cross-genre ambitiousness. Es Taut finds them four years later outclassing themselves and most of the rest of the planet across three extended tracks – “Story of the Flood” (26:15), “Schoner Zerbirst, Part I” (8:03) and “Schoner Zerbirst, Part II” (18:56) – that sprawl out with a confidence, poise and abrasion that is nothing short of masterful. Es Taut may be a case of a band outdoing their forebears, but whatever their legacy becomes and however many people take notice, Soldat Hans singlehandedly breathe life into the form of post-metal and prove utterly vital in so doing, not only making it their own, but pushing forward into something new in ambience and heft. This is what a band sounds like while making themselves indispensable.

Soldat Hans on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records website

 

High Priestess, High Priestess

high priestess high priestess

Calling to order a nod that’s immersive from the opening strains of leadoff/longest-track “Firefly” (still immediate points), Los Angeles trio High Priestess build out the psych-doom ritualizing of their 2017 demo (review here) to make their self-titled full-length debut through Ripple Music. The difference between the demo and the album in terms of what’s included comes down to artwork and the track “Take the Blame,” which adds its bell-of-the-ride swing between the atmosphere and melodic focus of “Banshee” and the spacious roller “Mother Forgive Me.” Potential is writ large throughout from guitarist/vocalist Katie Gilchrest, bassist/vocalist Mariana Fiel and drummer Megan Mullins, as it was on their demo, and even the harsh growls/screams on “Despise” seem to have found their place within the proceedings. As they wrap with the guitar-led jam of “Earth Dive,” High Priestess put the finishing touch on what’s hands-down one of 2018’s best debut albums and offer a reminder that as much potential as there is in their sound for future development, the accomplishments here are considerable unto themselves.

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Ripple Music website

 

Weed Demon, Astrological Passages

weed demon astrological passages

Four tracks of gurgling riffy plunder pervade Astrological Passages, the 41-minute – longer if you get the digital version or the tape/CD, which includes the 7:24 “Dominion of Oblivion” – debut album from Columbus, Ohio’s Weed Demon. Delivered on vinyl through Electric Valley Records, the nodder/plodder carves out a cave for itself within a mountain of tonally thick stoner metal riffing, infusing a sense of sludge with shouted and growled vocals from guitarists Andy and Brian and bassist Jordan – only drummer Chris doesn’t get a mic – and an overarching sense of bludgeoning that’s Sleep-derived if not Sleep-adjacent in terms of its actual sound. Nasty? Why, yes it is, but as “Sigil of the Black Moon” heads toward the midpoint of its 10-minute run, the repetitive groove assault makes the band’s intention plain: worship weed, worship riff. They get faster on “Primordial Genocide” and even sneak a bit of speed in amidst the crawl before the banjo takes hold in the second half of 12-minute closer “Jettisoned” – more Americana sludge please; thank you – but they never lose sight of their mission, and it’s the uniting factor that makes their debut hit like the brick to the head that it is.

Weed Demon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Desert Storm, Sentinels

desert storm sentinels

With Sentinels, Oxford, UK, five-piece Desert Storm pass a decade since making their self-titled debut in 2008. They followed that with 2010’s Forked Tongues (review here), 2013’s Horizontal Life and 2014’s Omniscient (review here), and though they had a single out in 2014 on H42 Records as a split with Suns of Thunder (review here) in 2016, Sentinels is their first outing on APF Records and their first long-player in four years. Burl has always been an important factor in what they do, and the High on Fire-meets-Orange Goblin slamming of “The Brawl” backs that up, but Desert Storm have left much of the hyper-dudeliness behind in favor of a more complex approach, and while Sentinels isn’t a minor undertaking at 10 songs and 51 minutes, longer cuts like “Kingdom of Horns” and “Convulsion” demonstrate the maturity they’ve brought to bear, even as the one-two punch of “Drifter”  and “The Extrovert” offer swinging-fist hooks and beard-worthy chug that assures any and all testosterone quotas are met.

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APF Records on Bandcamp

 

Ancient Altar, Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras

ancient altar cosmic purge foie gras

Based in Los Angeles, Ancient AltarScott Carlson (bass/vocals), Barry Kavener (guitar/vocals), Jesse Boldt (guitar) and Etay Levy (drums) – were last heard from on 2015’s dug-in atmosludger Dead Earth (review here), and they return lo these several years later with the two-tracker Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras, pushing into more extreme crush-of-riff with an abandon that’s anything but reckless. On the contrary, there’s some clear development in the 10-minute “Cosmic Purge” and 13-minute “Foie Gras,” rolling out oppressive grooves with blended screams/shouts and cleaner vocals. As with the last album, a drive toward individuality is central here, and Ancient Altar get there in tone while bringing forth a sense of scope to a sound so regularly thought of as closed off or off-putting in general. In its early going, “Foie Gras” hypnotizes with echoing melody and spaciousness only to resolve itself in a deeply weighted dirge march, furthering the pummel of “Cosmic Purge” itself. I don’t know if the EP – on vinyl through Black Voodoo Records, CD on Transcendental Void Records – will lead toward another album or not, but the sense of progression in Ancient Altar’s style is right there waiting to be heard, so here’s hoping.

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Black Box Warning, Attendre la Mort

black box warning attendre la mort

Listen to it on headphones and the kickdrum on Black Box Warning’s Attendre la Mort is downright painful. Next-level blown-out aggro pulsations. Brutal in a physical sense. The rest of the band doesn’t follow far behind in that regard. Riffs are viscous and violent in noise rock tradition, but denser in their tone despite some underlying punkishness, and the vocals are likewise distorted and abrasive. The five-song/23-minute EP’s title translates to “Waiting for Death,” and each of the tracks is a dose: Opener “5 mg” is followed by “4 mg,” “1 mg,” “2 mg” and “3 mg.” Unsurprisingly, pills are a theme, particularly on “4 mg,” and the sense of violent threat is clear in “2 mg” and 3 mg,” which boast lines like, “Watch them all scream/Watch your enemy bleeded,” and “You are the pig/I am the butcher,” respectively. Between the lyrical and the general aural cruelty, the dis-ease is consuming and unmitigated, sludge becoming a slow-motion grindcore, and that’s clearly the point. Not stabbing, but gouging.

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Black Box Warning on Bandcamp

 

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Nick Oliveri Announces ‘Death Acoustic’ European Tour Dates

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

nick oliveri

You could probably count on one hand the number of people on the planet who could call a solo-project ‘Death Acoustic’ and get away with it. Nick Oliveri is one of them, clearly. The Mondo Generator frontman/Dwarves bassist whose tenure in Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age has assured him a permanent place in the hearts of desert-worshipers worldwide will head back to Europe next month for a new acoustic tour put together by Heavy Psych Sounds. That same booking agency’s label wing recently released the four-part N.O. Hits at All series of lost tracks, off-album cuts and previously unissued takes from Oliveri, whose penchant for onstage intensity is only mirrored all the more his unwillingness to compromise on the ‘Death’ part when it comes to playing unplugged.

Shows start July 23, as per the PR wire:

nick oliveri tour poster

NICK OLIVERI announces “Death Acoustic” European summer tour

NICK OLIVERI finally returns to Europe this summer, to bring his solo project “Death Acoustic” live on stage again!

There are not many words needed to introduce this living rock legend: Nick Steven Oliveri is an American musician from Palm Desert, California. He plays the bass guitar, acoustic and electric guitar, and is a vocalist. Nick is most widely known as the bassist of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and the Dwarves, and has also performed with the reunited Kyuss under the names Kyuss Lives! as well as in Vista Chino. As a bandleader, his main project is called Mondo Generator, a punk/metal hybrid formed back in 1997.

NICK OLIVERI has started the fruitful collaboration with Heavy Psych Sounds Records, who took care of releasing his latest records such as the highly acclaimed ‘No Hits At All’ series over the last years, and from now on will be also handling the booking of his unique and excellent live shows! This summer, NICK OLIVERI will finally return back to Europe and will present his Acoustic solo project: The mighty “DEATH ACOUSTIC” where he will play songs from his past projects and original ones! Excited to come back to Europe and to bring his solo project live on stage again, make sure to catch him on the following dates, presented by Heavy Psych Sounds Records & Booking:

NICK OLIVERI EUROPEAN TOUR
23.07.18 – Nantes (FR) La Scene Michelet
25.07.18 – Lorient (FR) La Galion
27.07.18 – Basel (CH) TBC
28.07.18 – Ensisheim (FR) Woodstock Guitar Shop
29.07.18 – Chambery (FR) Brin Du Zinc
30.07.18 – Lecco (IT) The Concept Record Store
31.07.18 – M. DI. Ravenna (IT) Hana Bi
01.08.18 – Salzburg (AT) Rockhouse
02.08.18 – Kempten (DE) Kulturtage
03.08.18 – Parma (IT) TBC
04.08.18 – Pescarra (IT) TBC
06.08.18 – Zerobranco (IT) Altroquando
07.08.18 – Biel (CH) Eldorado
08.08.18 – Mannheim (DE) TBC
09.08.18 – Tilburg (NL) Little Devil
10.08.18 – Paris (FR) Supersonic

https://twitter.com/NICKOLIVERI
https://www.facebook.com/rexeverything666
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/
heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

Nick Oliveri, “Green Machine”

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Sumac Announce New LP Love in Shadow Due Sept. 21

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

sumac

Not to be lost in all the excitement of Aaron Turner‘s prior outfit, defunct post-metal innovators Isis, getting back together under the banner of Celestial to pay homage to Cave In‘s departed bassist Caleb Scofield in Los Angeles this October is the fact that Turner‘s now-band, Sumac, are gearing up to release their third long-player the month before. What’s been titled Love in Shadow will be the follow-up to 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) and the band’s 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), and as the teaser below demonstrates, the creative progression is forward moving as ever.

In all seriousness, Isis getting back together for a one-off, especially given the motivation, is commendable, but Sumac are their own band to be sure, and there’s no chance that Love in Shadow will be lost in the shuffle. Expectations are high, to be sure, but Sumac have only proven up to the task of their pedigree and their work stands in testament of that.

You know all this, of course. This is one of those bands I could say anything about and no one will notice and no one will care. Stay tuned for the review where I say they sound like Bobby Darin. Coming soon.

PR wire info in the meantime:

sumac love in shadow

SUMAC releasing new album Love In Shadow Out Sept. 21st

On September 21st SUMAC, the trio of Aaron Turner (ISIS, Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer), Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists, Erosion), and Brian Cook (Russian Circles), will be releasing new album Love In Shadow. Earlier this year, SUMAC released their acclaimed collaborative effort with legendary Japanese artist Keiji Haino, American Dollar Bill – Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On.

Love In Shadow is a brutalizing dive into love and all its raw emotions. SUMAC are always searching for a new approaches and challenges. Turner’s nimble songwriting combusted with the road-honed intuition and technical prowess of his bandmates results in a sound that is at once complex and primal. Riffs lurch into psychotropic scrapes, drum fills are distended and mangled, and Turner’s voice carries the weight of a strife that is colossal in both volume and austerity.

Recorded live in a single room at Robert Lang Studios in Washington by Kurt Ballou (Converge), who later mixed the album at his own studio God City, Love In Shadow ushers in a more improvisational songwriting approach for SUMAC – a sea change galvanized by their collaboration with Haino. Finding comfort in the negative spaces within each track’s borderland was the trio’s primary goal in writing the four massive tracks comprising Love In Shadow.

On the album’s emotional motif, Turner says: “Since many of the surface level aspects of our being are often used as divisive tools to separate/alienate us from one another, the intent here is reveal that at our base level all humans desire and need to be loved and accepted for who they are, for just being.”

SUMAC – Love In Shadow tracklist
1. The Task
2. Attis’ Blade
3. Arcing Silver
4. Ecstasy of Unbecoming

Pre-order SUMAC’s Love In Shadow:
http://thrilljockey.com/products/love-in-shadow

Order Keiji Haino & SUMAC’s American Dollar Bill…:
http://thrilljockey.com/products/american-dollar-bill-keep-facing-sideways-you-re-too-hideous-to-look-at-face-on

https://www.facebook.com/SUMACBAND/
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Sumac, Love in Shadow album trailer

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The Rare Breed to Release Looking for Today on Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the rare breed

Looking for Today is the debut full-length by Los Angeles trio The Rare Breed, and as thick as the band lays it on in touting their love of Sabbathian ways — and why not; “Mountain of Dreams” takes them to near-Sheavy levels of Sab worship and they named their album after a Black Sabbath song — it’s hard to listen to songs like “The Stranger” and “Rusted Diamond” and not think of more modern, Uncle Acid-style garage doom swing. “Visions” has more of a later-Ozzy-era vibe, and “Echoes” positively gallops in the drums, but in its shuffle, closer “Witches Lore” has some of that now-tinged rhythm as well (and some gallop of its own to boot), so there’s more going on than just “we heard ‘Sweet Leaf’ and decided to start a band,” however much guitarist Oscar de la Torre‘s vocals might be derived from the work of a certain Mr. Osbourne.

Wherever it was coming from, The Rare Breed released Looking for Today back in the BeforeTime, in the long-long-ago — 2016 — and this month the record will get its post-apocalyptic reissue via Ripple Music, which sent the following missive down along the ruins formerly known as the structure of American democracy. No wait. Sorry. It was the PR wire.

Yeah. The PR wire. Sorry about that. I need to stop looking at the Times while I’m writing these posts:

the rare breed looking for today

THE RARE BREED: LA-based rock revivalists to officially release 2016’s Looking For Today on Ripple Music

Looking For Today by The Rare Breed is released worldwide on 22nd June via Ripple Music

In the fall of 2013, Los Angeles’s The Rare Breed slowly rose out of a series of impromptu jam sessions which would carry on until the summer of 2014. For good friends Oscar De la Torre and Joey Castle, both had played together in a number of local groups over the years, each to varying degrees of success, yet together they had at last hit upon a groove that would help steer their ambition and hunger in the right direction.

Joined shortly after by childhood friend and drummer Hernan Rojas (who was on a similar path to self-discovery himself) together the trio channelled their talent into a form of ’70s hard rock which at the time was going through something of a spectacular revival with bands such as Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Graveyard. In fact, that very movement became the catalyst the trio needed and deeply sought, to focus on what they considered, “The Final Effort”. In essence, their last chance to truly make the music they longed to make.

Drawing inspiration from bands such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, infusing that vibe with a legendary laid-back L.A. attitude, and topping it all off with a “top that” mentality, The Rare Breed recorded and self-released their debut album, 2016’s impressive Looking For Today, which now, in 2018 gets an official worldwide release via the good folk at Ripple Music.

Released on 22nd June on vinyl, CD and all digital formats, pre-order your copy of Looking For Today by The Rare Breed now at www.ripple-music.com

The Rare Breed are:
Oscar De la Torre – Guitars/Vox
Joey Castle – Bass Guitar
Hernan Rojas – Drums

https://facebook.com/RareBreeding
https://rarebreed666.bandcamp.com/album/looking-for-today
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

The Rare Breed, Looking for Today (2016)

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SunnO))) Release Downtown L.A. Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

In case you’re wondering what might’ve driven them-lords-o’-drone SunnO))) to release their Downtown L.A. Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 all of a sudden as a limited LP via Southern Lord and Ideologic Organ. here’s the hard math: 1998 was 20 years ago.

That’s right. The Y2K scare. The Clinton economic surplus and beejer scandal. The seeming impossibility that we’d soon enough be locked into an endless war from which there’s seemingly neither interest nor ability to extricate ourselves. And also the formation of SunnO))). They’re 20 years old.

And what a 20 years it’s been. Talk about a band the world had to catch up to. SunnO))) started out playing rooms full of curious Goatsnake and/or Burning Witch fans and wound up influencing a generation of amplifier worship. As one might expect, the Downtown L.A. Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 is pretty raw, but also as one might expect, that only works to the band’s advantage. The more caustic and unlistenable it gets, the more their sound is doing its job.

They’ll be at Psycho Las Vegas in August, as the PR wire reminds:

sunn o rifftape

SUNN O))) Releases Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 Limited Edition LP

SUNN O))) has unleashed the earliest recording of the band’s monolithic tones, revamped for a limited edition pressing via Southern Lord Recordings, as the label celebrates its twentieth anniversary, as a split label release together with Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ imprint.

The Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 dates back to the earliest rehearsals during the genesis of the SUNN O))) project. The source is a C60 cassette tape recorded on a boombox, and the result is essentially an extremely raw noise/drone record. It was taped in the band’s early practice space at Downtown Rehearsal (RIP), Los Angeles, in a practice room which the band shared with The Melvins and Goatsnake at the time. The LP sees SUNN O))) founders Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley on guitars and stacks of amps, the original cassette was mastered by Brad Boatright February 2018.

Longtime/old school diehard listeners of SUNN O)))’s massive sound and those who have watched the collective’s transformation over the past two decades can find the brutal practice tape revamped as Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998, available only through Southern Lord and directly from the band in a limited run on 180-gram vinyl LP – 900 black, 500 silver, 100 white, with machine numbering on the front cover – and digitally.

Find SUNN O)))’s Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 at Bandcamp HERE and find more purchase options at the band’s webshop HERE.

Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 Track Listing:
Side A:
1. Room 206 pt.1
2. Room 206 pt.2
3. B-Witch

Side B:
1. Room 206 pt.3
2. The Grimm Robe / Black Wedding
3. Mustaine / Thorns
4. M & D I.L.F.
5. The DJs

The celebration of twenty years of SUNN O))) and Southern Lord this year will continue with reissues of the band’s lauded White1 and White2 albums in the coming weeks.

SUNN O))) will perform live at the Psycho Las Vegas festival on August 19th alongside Godflesh, Goblin, Enslaved, All Pigs Must Die, Wolves In The Throne Room, and scores more.

Watch for further updates on SUNN O))) in the coming days.

SUNN O))) Live:
8/19/2018 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas

https://www.instagram.com/sunnofficial
https://www.facebook.com/SUNNthebandOfficial
https://sunn.bandcamp.com
https://sunn-live.bandcamp.com
http://www.southernlord.com
http://southernlord.bandcamp.com
http://twitter.com/twatterlord
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https://www.instagram.com/southernlordrecords

SunnO))), Downtown L.A. Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 (2018)

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