Black Math Horseman Tease Possible Reunion

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

black math horseman 2009

It’s two images from social media. That’s the tease. Let me not draw this post out like some kind of dickhead clickbait with no information to offer. Two pictures. The one above of Black Math Horseman in silhouette from 2009, presumably sometime around when the Los Angeles heavy post-rock experimentalists issued their lone full-length, Wyllt (discussed here and here), through Tee Pee Records. The one below is of dark clouds parting.

Would seem to be a pretty straightforward message there, right? Dark clouds? An indefinite hiatus? Blue sky peeking through? The band coming back? That’s not a crazy A-to-B. I’m not making that up. Seems like a legit read, right? Does that mean it’s happening? Of course not, but it doesn’t mean it’s not happening either, and at very least, it means someone is thinking about the band enough to update their social media with some cryptic messaging one way or the other. Maybe a 10th anniversary reissue of Wyllt? That’s not nothing.

I actually delayed writing this post by a day or two after the images were brought to my attention because I wanted to see if Black Math Horseman actually made an announcement one way or the other. Needless to say that didn’t happen or there would be a more definitive headline above. At the time of their disbanding in 2013, Black Math Horseman was comprised of vocalist/bassist Sera Timms, guitarists Ian Barry and Bryan Tulao and drummer Sasha PopovicTimms has gone on to work in Ides of Gemini and Black Mare, and it’s worth noting that Popovic sat in on drums on tour with Ides of Gemini in 2015, so there’s been some collaboration between the former members even after the band called it a day.

One doesn’t want to indulge baseless speculation, but I can’t help but think that Black Math Horseman are making this out-of-the-blue update even as the lineup for Psycho Las Vegas is due to be unveiled any day now. Timms played there last year with Black Mare and owned the Vinyl Stage thoroughly, so if they were to make a proper return, they could hardly ask for a better place to do it. Here’s what we currently have to go on:

BLACK MATH HORSEMAN parting of clouds

https://www.facebook.com/Black-Math-Horseman-77475471220/
https://blackmathhorseman.bandcamp.com/

Black Math Horseman, Wyllt (2009)

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Sunn O))) Announce New Album Life Metal Due in April

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sunn (Photo by Sunn and Ronald Dick)

As previously hinted, robe-clad drone overlords Sunn O))) will release two full-lengths this year. Both would seem to come from a session with Steve Albini, and the first, titled Life Metal, will be out on Southern Lord in April. The second is slated for later in 2019, and it looks like the months to come will see the megalithic backline and the conceptualists who wield it doing a fair bit of touring. The European run was previously announced, but it looks like they’ll be in Europe again in time for Fall festival season, and doing the US twice in the interim. Busy busy busy.

Sunn O))) always have their proponents and their detractors, but the fact is that if they weren’t relevant, they wouldn’t be splitting opinion in the first place, and 20 years on from their Grimmrobe Demos, they continue to push the boundaries of heavy in a way no one else has since.

From the PR wire:

sunn life metal

Sunn O))) are pleased to present Life Metal, a new studio album on Southern Lord, supported by a full EU tour

Sunn O))) are pleased to present Life Metal, their first new studio album in four years, due for release on Southern Lord in April 2019. The album will be supported by their first European tour since 2016, including their first ever French tour – dates and details below.

At the very beginning of 2018 Sunn O))) co-founders Stephen O’Malley & Greg Anderson set out on a path toward a new album production. They were both determined to create new music and a new method of working in the studio, without forgetting the long and proud history of production and studio accomplishments forged during their first two decades of existence (and the members’ own musical experiences out of the band’s). One long term goal was completely clear: to record Sunn O))) with Steve Albini in his Electrical Audio studio. Steve took the call, said “Sure, this will be fun. I have no idea what is going to happen.”

Greg and Stephen gathered twice that spring for writing, conceptualising and riff woodshedding in the very building where the band was formed: Downtown Rehearsal in Los Angeles. Sonic cosmoses, flashes of abstract colour (synthetic and objective) and themes emerged from the mastered depths of saturation and circuits between the two players and their mountains of gear. Themes developed in terms of brightness and energy, while visionary cues pointed toward subconscious areas of practice and the pair realised they were exploring other zones of consciousness via sound/time and sound/energy manipulation. In early summer a pre-production session with full backline, as a trio with T.O.S. on Moog, was recorded at Dave Grohl’s 606 studios, Northridge, California.

In July 2018 Sunn O))) spent just over two weeks in Chicago at Electrical Audio (Studio A) with Steve Albini at the helm. The results are astounding: there is breadth and luminosity of colour, it sounds vast. The sessions were impeccably recorded, authentically represented and completely accurate. The spectrum cracked the firmament open in clarity. An all analogue technique was used, they recorded and mixed on tape, providing a creative gateway for Sunn O))) to evolve their production methods into stronger, confident, performance based and a more logical executive process. The album was mastered and lacquers cut from tape in October by Sunn O))) ally Matt Colton at Alchemy in London. The LP version is a AAA album, recorded and mixed on tape via a completely analogue production, from the input of the band’s amplifiers and the air coming off the speakers in front of the microphones to the needle touching the pressed vinyl on your turntable.

Continuing one of the main currents of the Sunn O))) concept, depth of exploration within collaboration, brought forth Hildur Guðnadóttir to the Sunn O))) constellation. Hildur is a sometime live collaborator of Sunn O))) and a renowned film music composer, former member of the bands Múm, Pan Sonic and Angel. She was a long time collaborator with the composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (RIP). Hildur lent her incredible attitude, as well as her voice, breath and electric cello, and the enigmatic haldorophone to the proceedings, culminating in the epic composition/concerto “Novæ”. The cosmos clearly expands.

Tim Midyett, a close friend of Greg and Stephen since the Seattle days of the early 90s (and member of Silkworm, Bottomless Pit and Mint Mile), joined in a foundational role tying earth to sound with wicked performances on aluminium neck bass and baritone guitars: instruments he helped pioneer playing back in the 90s (alongside Steve and Shellac of course). Dark matter is reality.

Prolific new music composer Anthony Pateras arranged and recorded an incredible contribution of pipe organ for a piece titled “Troubled Air” (titled after an essay by author Aliza Shvarts, who also penned the liner notes for Sunn O)))’s Kannon) at Schlosskappelle, Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart. String theory of space.

The resulting album is titled Life Metal. It is fully realised and completely real. The record was produced by the core of Stephen & Greg & arranged by the greater constellation Sunn O))). Paintings by visual artist Samantha Keely Smith graciously adorn the sleeve and provide a perfect suitable mask to the proceedings. They collide ideas of 19th century romanticism & late 20th abstract expressionism (mysticism) with Sunn O)))’s approach to metal (via reference points of Arbo, Turner, Delville, Richter, Turrel, Wou-Ki). Photographer Ronald Dick shot them in baths of light colour representing depth of sound pressure in the work.

Sunn O)))
Life Metal
(Southern Lord)

TRACK LISTING
1. Between Sleipnir’s Breaths
2. Troubled Air
3. Aurora
4. Novae

There is a second more meditative LP titled Pyroclasts, also recorded by Steve Albini in parallel, and which will be revealed in the autumn 2019 (more later) with all music performed by Stephen, Greg, T.O.S., Tim Midyett, and Hildur Guðnadóttir.

Sunn O))) are touring March (EU/France), April (USA), September (USA), October (UK & Europe). They are working toward some special events in London and other cities.

SUNN O))) LET THERE BE DRONE (MULTIPLE GAINS STAGES)
March 2019 Europe
Thu 28/02/2019 DE Frankfurt Mousonturm
Fri 01/03/2019 AT Graz Elevate festival/Orpheum ° ~
Sat 02/03/2019 CZ Prague Divadlo Archa °
Sun 03/03/2019 DE Hamburg Kampnagel – K6 °
Mon 04/03/2019 NL Amsterdam Paradiso °
Wed 06/03/2019 FR Lyon L’Epicerie Moderne ÷
Thu 07/03/2019 FR Nancy L’Autre Canal ÷
Fri 08/03/2019 FR Dijon La Vapeur ÷
Sat 09/03/2019 FR Rouen QuasaRites Day/Le 106
Mon 11/03/2019 FR Tours Le Temps Machine §
Tue 12/03/2019 FR Nantes Stereolux §
Wed 13/03/2019 FR La Rochelle La Sirene §
Thu 14/03/2019 FR Bordeaux Le Rocher de Palmer §

Supports :
° Puce Mary
÷ Golem Mecanique
§ France
~ Robin Fox presents Single Origin

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
https://www.facebook.com/SLadmin
https://www.instagram.com/southernlordrecords

Sunn O))), Life Metal album trailer

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Friday Full-Length: Saint Vitus, Die Healing

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Saint Vitus, Die Healing (1995)

The idea at the outset of Die Healing was to do just that. By 1995, Saint Vitus had been playing since they got together as Tyrant in 1978, had six albums out, and no singer. Guitarist Dave Chandler, who as ever was the core of the unit when it came to songwriting, tracked vocals for a would’ve-been seventh album (I’d love to hear those tapes), but they were ultimately scrapped in favor of a reunion with original vocalist Scott Reagers for one last album and one last tour. “Let the End Begin,” indeed. They didn’t quite make it through that tour, but Die Healing — issued by Hellhound Records — stood for years as their final album and a testament to everything Vitus were as a band.

It remains and will remain their last record with their original lineup of Chandler, Reagers, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta, the latter of whom passed away in 2010, and more than that, from the opening crawl of “Dark World” and righteous outsider perspective of “One Mind” through the periodic speed bursts as in “Let the End Begin” or the lurch of songs like “Return of the Zombie,” “Trail of Pestilence,” “Sloth” and “In the Asylum” ahead of the okay-we’ll-finally-play-punk “Just Another Notch,” on which Chandler does in fact take the helm on vocals, Die Healing reaffirms the notion of just how right Vitus were all along to fly in the face of trends in underground music. I don’t know if during their original run, their worship at the altar of Black Sabbath was ever “the cool thing,” but they were unwavering.

There was always a vicious current of noise to Chandler‘s soloing, and through the work of Reagers on their 1984 self-titled debut and 1985’s Hallow’s Victim, Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s stepping into the frontman role on 1986’s Born Too Late, the 1987 Thirsty and Miserable EP, 1988’s Mournful Cries and 1990’s V, and Christian “Chritus” Linderson (Count Raven, now Lord Vicar) stepping in for 1992’s C.O.D., the band’s root in classic and grim heft prevented them from being at all in line with the metal of the day. They were doom. Unrelenting, unwavering doom. Die Healing might as well have been called ‘Die Slow,’ because if Vitus knew the band was coming to an end one way or another, they were going out the way they came in: volume up, tempo down, middle finger high.

I’m not sure if anything ever would or could replace the groundbreaking regression that was their self-titled or the mastery of the form they showed on Born Too Late, but neither should the grim saint vitus die healingatmosphere of Die Healing be discounted among the band’s myriad achievements of style and songwriting. With the theatricality in Reagers‘ vocals as heard on “In the Asylum” or even “Return of the Zombie” before it, Die Healing was in direct conversation with the first record, to the point that the latter track was a sequel to “Zombie Hunger” from the earlier release, but at 49 minutes, it was a product of the CD era too, and though Chandler had certainly handled some vocals in the past, on “When Emotion Dies” from Born Too Late, “Dragon Time” from Mournful Cries or “A Timeless Tale” from C.O.D., the fact that he effectively had the last say on the band’s last-until-the-reunion release in the addiction tale “Just Another Notch” spoke to his holding onto some piece of Vitus for himself.

That push and pull seems always to have existed in the band, and their split in 1996 stands as the dissolution of one of the greatest acts American doom has ever produced, but their volatility was a part of what made them so special in the first place. Saint Vitus were never going to be a completely stable entity. It wouldn’t have worked. Certainly they knew what they wanted sound-wise, and in the beginning they knew they wanted to be different, to play slow when others were playing fast, to be loud in a bottom-end-heavy kind of way that became signature to their style, but just because they were conscious of what they were doing doesn’t necessarily mean they were playing by a set of rules.

Consider Saint Vitus in relation to Sweden’s Candlemass. Similar start with their debuts in the mid-’80s, but Candlemass took on a cleaner Sabbathian sound, crisp and classy, whereas even on Die Healing, nearly 20 years after they first got together, Saint Vitus still sounded like the band who were going to steal your VCR while you weren’t looking. They flew in the face of rock, of pop, of metal, and of punk, and they proved just how ahead of their time they were when it was another full generation before they really even started to get their due from a broader audience.

Saint Vitus‘ reunion in 2009 with Weinrich on vocals led to 2012’s Lillie: F-65 (review here) and the 2013 reissue of their catalog through their new label, Season of Mist (plus tapes on RidingEasy), as well as a couple subsequent live records. No longer was Die Healing the last Vitus LP, and what had come full circle was reopened. With Henry Vasquez on drums, ChandlerAdams and Wino toured as triumphant heroes returning circa 2012 and 2013, but Wino‘s much-reported drug charge and subsequent five-year ban from European touring (now expiring) brought Reagers back into the lineup.

Adams, meanwhile, has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease — a GoFundMe was set up to help with his medical expenses — and Pat Bruders, who once took the place of Rex Brown in Down and was a founding member of Goatwhore, has been playing with them for the last couple years. That puts Chandler and Reagers as the remaining founders of the band currently in the lineup, but of course that volatile aspect is always there as well. Nonetheless, they’ll celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary with a European tour this coming Spring (dates here), and word has been bandied about of a new album in the works as well, though a solid release date remains to be set. One has to wonder if, when Saint Vitus‘ next record does arrive, it will feature a third installment of Reagers‘ zombie-centered lyrics. Nothing like a good sequel, and Die Healing certainly deserves the nod.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Last night was the first night I really slept this week. I’ve been waking up here and there throughout the night. Not the baby getting up or anything like that, just me. Wednesday I was up half the damn night, but last night I crashed pretty hard. I’ll still probably need a little downtime this afternoon if I can get it, and I wouldn’t necessarily call myself caught up, but every little bit counts.

I got a tattoo this week. It’s my first one. More on that later. It’s healing nicely. Not dying. Got my arm all gooped up and whatnot.

Today is my mother’s birthday and we’re still in New Jersey for the better part of this month, so my family is coming over to celebrate and get takeout and hang around, which will be good. I like being down here. There’s more space for that Pecan to run around and more shit for him to climb on, and the family time is good. Plus we’re like two minutes from the center of the universe, which is nice.

But anyway, things persist. I have an Inner Altar track premiere slated for Monday, but actually the rest of the week is pretty wide open right now, which I think is nifty. I’ll probably review John Garcia in there somewhere and maybe the new Skraeckoedlan record unless something else comes up, but I kind of like having a bit of flexibility for a change. November and December were crammed.

Episode 7 of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio airs Sunday at 7PM Eastern. I’m going to stay up until 9 to listen and you should too. I also recently bought a Gimme t-shirt, which I think makes something or other official.

And I just got a new merch design from Shy Kennedy (Horehound, Blackseed Records, Descendants of Crom, etc.) that’s awesome and coming soon to the merch page for Dropout. I’m not going to post the design yet, but I’ve decided to call it “the lunar doomer” because I like slant rhymes and there’s a moon on it. It’s cool.

There’s more, probably, but I can’t think of it because golly-gosh I’m tired.

I hope you came through the holidays alright. That time of year is always a challenge for me, and my mother’s birthday is always kind of the finish line for it, so I’m right there. Made it. I’ve got writing to do this weekend, but today I’m gonna post stuff, read, chill, record voice tracks for Gimme Radio and just catch my breath a bit before everyone gets here this afternoon. I got up early to enjoy some coffee and a bit of doom, and I don’t regret it.

I hope you’re good. Really. I don’t know if I am or not. I have good days and bad. Really hard swings. But I’m glad to be around family for the time I am.

Alright.

Everyone have a great and safe weekend. Please. Forum, radio, merch at the merch table.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Aboleth Release Benthos LP this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

aboleth

Los Angeles, heavy rockers Aboleth issued their debut full-length, Benthos (discussed here), this past Spring, but like all good things, vinyl takes time, and so Kozmik Artifactz will have the LP version of the record out this Friday. The band parted ways this summer with founding member Collyn McCoy (also The Ultra-Electric Mega Galactic) and is now a four-piece with guitarist David Abrams and Mark Dalbeth, so Benthos will also remain the only album documenting the original trio lineup.

Interested to see what the future brings for them, but either way, the record is out on Friday from Kozmik Artifactz, which sent the following down the PR wire:

aboleth benthos

Trudge the Swap and unearth “Bethos” the debut album from Aboleth, Out December 14th

Sludgy riffs, Allman-esque slide solos and whisky-drenched-yet-soaring female vocals – this is Aboleth!

Aboleth was founded in 2016 by Collyn McCoy (Trash Titan, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic) and 21-year-old whisky-throated belter Brigitte Roka. Roka propels the group with her Joplin-esque grit and soaring highs, while McCoy lays the sludgy foundation care of his baguitar — a bass/guitar hybrid that offers the lows of the former and the highs of the latter. Together the two meld stoner-doom with primal blues and desert rock to form what they have dubbed “dirt metal”.

‘Benthos’, their full-length debut album, expands on the themes explored on their 2016 debut cassette – murder, revenge, lust, devil worship, and the benefits of a plant-based diet – while pushing their sound deeper into the proto-blues swamp.

Benthos will be released on limited edition heavyweight vinyl on the 14th December on Kozmik Artifatcz.

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high performance vinyl at Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Wovenloaf
2. Fork In The Road
3. No Good
4. Black Box
5. Glass Cutter
6. Sharktown Blues
7. Ode To Plastic
8. Vinny Gets Arrested
9. The Devil
10. Wytches

Aboleth are:
Vocals: Brigitte Roka
Guitar: David Abrams
Bass: Mark Dalbeth
Drums: Boll3t

https://www.facebook.com/abolethband
https://abolethband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/abolethband/
https://twitter.com/abolethband
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Aboleth, Benthos (2018)

Aboleth, “Wovenloaf” official video

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Saint Vitus Tease New Album; Headed Back to Europe in 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

saint vitus

Could it be a Spring 2019 release for a new Saint Vitus album and the band’s first to be fronted by Scott Reagers since 1995’s Die Healing? Well, I mean, yeah, it could. A March or April release is well enough time away for Season of Mist to get the promo-whatnot rolling for it, and the three words I’m keying into in the band’s short tour announcement below as snagged from social media are: “NEW RECORD READY.” I like the sound of that. Does that mean the thing will necessarily show up in time for the April 3 start of the European run? Not at all. But it means it’s possible, and I’ll take that for the time being.

Vitus celebrate 40 years in 2019, and if you missed word when the band put it out, original bassist Mark Adams has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and a GoFundMe has been set up to help with his medical expenses. Donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/mark-adams-parkinson039s-disease

More on the next Vitus LP when I hear it. Here are the tour dates in the meantime:

saint vitus tour

SAINT VITUS announce headlining European tour

SAINT VITUS have announced new European live dates for April and May 2019. A full list of confirmed shows for the ’40 F’N Years’ trek can be found below.

“NEW RECORD READY TO BLOW YOUR FACE OFF!!!!!!” – Saint Vitus

SAINT VITUS ’40 F’N Years’ European Tour 2019:
w/ special guest Dopelord unless noted
Apr 3 Gothenburg (SE) @ Sticky Fingers
Apr 4 Stockholm (SE) @ Debaser Strand
Apr 6 Jyväskylä (FI) @ Lutakko
Apr 7 Helsinki (FI) @ On The Rocks
Apr 9 Oslo (NO) @ Blaa
Apr 10 Copenhagen (DK) @ Pumpehuset
Apr 11 Berlin (DE) @ So36
Apr 12 Hamburg (DE) @ Headcrash
Apr 13 Bomal-Sur-Ourthe (BE) @ Durbuy Rock Festival
Apr 14 Dortmund (DE) @ Junkyard
Apr 15 Cologne (DE) @ Luxor
Apr 17 Birmingham (UK) @ Mama Roux
Apr 18 Leeds (UK) @ Brudenell
Apr 19 Glasgow (UK) @ Audio
Apr 20 London (UK) @ The Underworld Camden
Apr 21 Paris (FR) @ Petit Bain
Apr 23 Nantes (FR) @ Le Ferrailleur
Apr 24 Toulouse (FR) @ Le Rex
Apr 25 Barcelona (ES) @ Boveda
Apr 26 Madrid (ES) @ Copernico
Apr 27 Barroselas (PT) @ Swr Metalfest
Apr 28 Bilbao (ES) Kafé @ Antzokia
Apr 20 Fribourg (CH) @ Fri-Son*
May 1 Milan (IT) Circolo @ Circolo Magnolia
May 2 Zurich (CH) @ Dynamo*
May 3 Karlsruhe (DE) @ Dudefest
May 4 Leipzig (DE) @ Ut Connewitz
*No Dopelord

BAND LINE-UP:
David Chandler (guitar)
Scott Reagers (vocals)
Henry Vasquez (drums)
Pat Bruders (bass)

https://www.facebook.com/saintvitusofficial
https://twitter.com/saintvitusband
http://saint-vitus.tumblr.com/
http://www.saintvitusband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist
http://instagram.com/seasonofmistofficial
http://www.season-of-mist.com/

Saint Vitus, Die Healing (1995)

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Quarterly Review: Sumac, Cortez & Wasted Theory, Thunder Horse, The Howling Eye, Grime, URSA, Earthling Society, Bismarck, Grand Reunion, Pledge

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

As we land on what would otherwise be the end of a Quarterly Review — day 5, hitting the standard 50 records across the span of a week that this time we’re doubling with another 50 next week — it occurs to me not how much 100 albums is, but how much it isn’t. I mean, it’s a lot, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been sitting and writing about 10 records every day this week. I know how much that is. But it’s astounding to me just how much more there is. With the emails I get from people looking for reviews, discs sent in the mail, the messages on Facebook and everything else, I could do another 100, easy.

Well, maybe not ‘easy,’ but it would be full.

Is it a new golden age of heavy? 45 years from now are rockers going to look back and say, “Hell yeah, from like 2012-2019 was where it’s at,” all wistful like they do now for the ’70s? Will the Heavy ’10s be a retro style? I don’t know. But if it was going to happen, there would certainly be enough of an archive to fuel it. I do my best to cover as much as I can, but sometimes I feel like we barely crack the surface. With 100 records.

That said, time’s a-wasting.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sumac, Love in Shadow

sumac love in shadow

What are Sumac if not the most vital and highest profile atmospheric metal act out there today? With Aaron Turner (Isis, etc.) on guitar/vocals, Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) on drums, they qualify easily as a supergroup, and yet their third album, Love in Shadow (on Thrill Jockey), is still more about creative growth and the exploration of sound than anything else. Certainly more than ego — and if it was a self-indulgent exercise, it’d probably still be pretty good, frankly. As it stands, the four massive tracks through which Sumac follow-up 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) and their 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), refine the sound Sumac has developed over the past three years-plus into a sprawling and passion-driven sprawl that’s encompassing in scope, challenging in its noise quotient, and in utter refusal to not progress in its approach. And when Sumac move forward, as they do here, they seem to bring the entire aesthetic with them.

Sumac on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records on Bandcamp

 

Cortez & Wasted Theory, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Nine

cortez wasted theory second coming of heavy ch 9

Ripple Music‘s split series The Second Coming of Heavy hits its ninth chapter in bringing together Boston’s Cortez and Delaware’s Wasted Theory, and neither band fails to live up to the occasion. Cortez‘s range only seems to grow each time they hit the studio — vocalist Matt Harrington makes easy highlights of the opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Firmament” and the echo-laden “Close” — and Wasted Theory‘s “Ditchpig,” “Abominatrix,” “Baptized in Gasoline” and “Heresy Dealer” are so saturated with whiskey it might as well be coming out of their pores. It’s a decidedly North/South release, with Cortez rolling straightforward New England heavy rock through “Fog of Whores” and the Deep Purple cover “Stormbringer” while Wasted Theory dig with all good speed into a grit that’s more and more become their own with time, but there’s a shared penchant for hooks and groove between the two acts that draws them together, and whatever aspects they may or may not share are ultimately trumped by that. As Ripple starts to wind down the series, they continue to highlight some of the finest in heavy that the underground has to offer. One would expect no less.

Cortez on Thee Facebooks

Wasted Theory on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse

thunder horse thunder horse

There’s an unmistakable sense of presence throughout Thunder Horse‘s six-song/43-minute self-titled debut that undercuts the notion of it as being the San Antonio four-piece’s first album. With professionalism and a firm sense of what they want to be as a band, the Texans liberally sprinkle samples throughout their material and hone a professional sound built around massive riffs and even-more-massive lumbering grooves. Indeed, they’re not strangers to each other, as three-fourths of the group — guitarist/vocalists Stephen Bishop, guitarist/sampler T.C. Connally and drummer Jason West — double in the more industrial-minded Pitbull Daycare, whose debut LP came out in 1997. Completed by bassist/vocalist Dave Crow, Thunder Horse successfully cross the genre threshold and are well comfortable in longer cuts like “Liber ad Christ Milites Templi” and “This is the End,” both of which top nine minutes, and shorter pieces like the rocking “Demons Speak” and the shimmering finale “Pray for Rain.” With “Coming Home” and the sneering “Blood Ritual” at the outset, Thunder Horse pulls listener quickly toward dark atmospheres and flourishes amid the weighted tones therein.

Thunder Horse on Thee Facebooks

Thunder Horse on Bandcamp

 

The Howling Eye, Sonorous

the howling eye sonorous

Poland’s The Howling Eye make a lengthy long-player debut with Sonorous, but more important than the reach of their runtimes — closer “Weedblazer” tops 16 minutes, the earlier “Reflections” hits 12, etc. — the reach of the actual material. The common pattern has been that psychedelic jamming and doom are two distinct things, but The Howling Eye tap into a cosmic interpretation of rolling riffs and push it with an open spirit far into the ether of spontaneous creation. It’s a blend that a group would seem to need to be cautious to wield, lest the whole notion fall flat, but with the assurance of marked chemistry behind them, the Bydgoszcz-based trio of drummer/sometimes vocalist Hubert “Cebula” Lewandowski (also harmonica where applicable), guitarist Jan Chojnowski and bassist Mi?osz Wojciechowski boldly shift from the more structured beginnings of the funky “Kairos” and the aggro beginning “Stranded” into an outward push that’s ambient, psychedelic and naturalistic all at once, with room left over for more funk and even some rockabilly on “The Potion.” It is not a minor conglomeration, but it works.

The Howling Eye on Thee Facebooks

The Howling Eye on Bandcamp

 

Grime, What Have We Become

grime what have we become

Their roots in metal, North Dakota trio Grime — not to be confused with the Italian sludge outfit of the same name — unleash their first full-length in the form of What Have We Become, an ambitious 51-minute offering of progressive heavy rock marked by thoughtful lyrics and fluid songwriting made all the more so by the shared vocals of bassist Andrew Wickenheiser and guitarist Nick Jensen, who together with drummer Tim Gray (who would seem to have been replaced by Cale Mogard) effect a classic feel through “Alone in the Dark” while chugging and winding through the not-a-cover “Hand of Doom” with some harsher vocals peppered in for good measure. Seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Through the Eye” sets a broad tone that the rest of the record seems to build on, with the penultimate “Sunshine” delivering the title line ahead of the grittier closer “The Constant Grind,” which seems to payoff everything before it with a final explosion before a big rock finish. They’ll need to decide whether their sound will ultimately tighten up or loosen over time, but for now, what they’ve become is a band with a solid foundation to grow from.

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URSA, Abyss Between the Stars

ursa abyss between the stars

Modern doom meets a swath of metallic influences on URSA‘s full-length debut, Abyss Between the Stars (on Blood Music), as members of Petaluma, California’s Cormorant take on such classic themes as wizards, dragons, yetis, witches, a spider king, mountains, and… actually, yeah, that covers the six included tracks on the 46-minute LP, which shifts gracefully between epic fantasy doom and darker, soemtimes more extreme fare. It’s easy enough to put URSA in the narrative of a band started — circa 2016 — around a central idea, rather than just dudes picking up instruments and seeing what happened next. Not just because bassist/vocalist Matt Solis, guitarist/keyboardist Nick Cohon and drummer Brennan Kunkel were already three-quarters of another band, but because of the purposefulness with which they approach their subject matter and the cohesion in all facets of their approach. They may be exploring new ground here, but they’re doing so on sure footing, and that comes not only from their experience playing together, but from knowing exactly where they want to be in terms of sound. I would not be surprised if that sound adopted more post-Candlemass grandeur with time — one can hear that burgeoning in “Serengeti Yeti” — but whatever direction they want to go, their debut will only help them on that path.

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Earthling Society, MO – The Demon

earthling society mo the demon

Look, if you can’t get down with a bunch of freaks like Earthling Society tapping into the lysergic fabric of the cosmos to come up with an unsolicited soundtrack to a Hong Kong martial arts movie, I just don’t know what to tell you. Issued by Riot Season, the seven-track MO – The Demon is reportedly the end of the band’s technicolor daydream, and as they crash their plane into the side of “Mountains of Bliss” and hone space rock obliteration throughout “Super Holy Monk Defeats the Black Magic Mothafucker,” their particular experimentalist charm and go-anywhere-anytime sensibility demonstrates plainly exactly why it will be missed. There’s a sharp high-pitched tone at the start of opener “Theme from MO – The Demon” that’s actually pretty abrasive, but by the time they’re through the kosmiche laser assault in “Spring Snow” and the let’s-be-flower-children-until-it’s-time-to-freak-the-fuck-out throb of closer “Jetina Grove,” that is but a distant memory. So is consciousness. Fare thee well, Earthling Society. You were a band who only sought to make sense to yourselves, and for that, were all the more commendable.

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Bismarck, Urkraft

bismarck urkraft

Norwegian five-piece Bismarck bring spaciousness to doom riffing on their debut album, Urkraft, which is constructed of five molten tracks for a 34-minute totality that seems much broader than the time it takes to listen. Vocals are growls and shouts across a cosmic stretch of tone, giving a somewhat aggressive pulse to heavier psychedelic soundscaping, but a bouncing rhythm behind “A Golden Throne” assures the song is accessible one way or the other. The 10-minute “Vril-Ya” is naturally where they range the farthest, but the Bergen outfit even there seem to be playing by a set of aesthetic principles that includes maintaining a grounded groove no matter how spaced they might otherwise get. Rolling riffs bookend in opener “Harbinger” and closer “The Usher,” as “A Golden Throne,” playing-to-both-sides centerpiece “Iron Kingdom” and the subsequent “Vril-Ya” explore atmospheres that remain resonant despite the low end weight that seems to chug out beneath them. The mix by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer (who also co-engineered) doesn’t hurt in crafting their largesse, but something tells me Urkraft was going to sound big no matter what.

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Grand Reunion, In the Station

grand reunion in the station

In the Station doesn’t seem like anything too fancy at first. It’s produced cleanly, but not in any kind of overblown fashion, and Grand Reunion‘s songwriting is so solid that, especially the first time through their eight-track debut LP, it’s easy to say, “Okay, that’s another cool hook,” and not notice subtleties like when the organs turn to keyboard synth between opener “Eres Tan Serpiente” and second cut “Gordon Shumway,” or to miss the Latin percussion that Javier Tapia adds to Manuel Yañez‘s drumming, or the ways that guitarist Christian Spencer, keyboardist Pablo Saveedra, bassist Mario Rodríguez and Tapia work to complement guitarist Cristóbal Pacheco on vocals. But all of that is happening, and as they make their way toward and through the eight-minute fuzzer “Band Band the Headbang,” through the soaring “Weedow” and into the acoustic-led closer “It’s Alright,” the character and maturity in Grand Reunion‘s songwriting shows itself more and more, inviting multiple listens in the most natural fashion possible: by making you want to hear it again.

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Pledge, Resilience

pledge resilience

16 minutes of scathing post-hardcore/sludge from Portuguese four-piece Pledge, who are in and out of their Resilience EP with a clean break and a windmill kick to the face. The newcomers lack nothing for ferocity, and with the throat-searing screams of Sofia M.L. out in front of the mix, violent intentions are unmistakable. “Profer Lumen Caecis,” “The Great Inbetweeness,” “Doom and Redemption” and “The Peter, the Wolf” nonetheless have groove built on varying degrees of extremity and angularity, with Vítor Vaz‘s bass maintaining a steady presence alongside the guitar of Hugo Martins and Filipe Romariz‘s drumming, frenetic as it sometimes is. I wouldn’t say things calm down in “The Peter, the Wolf” so much as the boiling seems to take place beneath the surface, waiting for a time to burst out, which it eventually does, but either way, for all its harsher aspects, Pledge‘s material isn’t at all void of engagement. It does, however, state the requirement right there on the front cover.

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Deathchant Premiere “Hex”; Self-Titled Debut out Jan. 10

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deathchant

Los Angeles four-piece Deathchant issue their self-titled debut on Jan. 10 through King Volume Records (LP) and Dune Altar (tape), and there’s some weird shit afoot. So, get this: Seven tracks/29 minutes. On the shorter end of an LP, but whatever. All the songs have one-word titles, so you’d think maybe pretty stripped down, right? And it’s Southern California, so you’d think maybe some boogie involved or some jams, right? Not really. Deathchant, led by guitarist/vocalist TJ Lemieux, make short work of expectation and offer a feedback-drenched take on darker heavy rock, so that even the strut of opener “Pessimist” can just absolutely collapse into biting noise at a moment’s notice — which it does — and then resume its course like nothing happened. There are “hey wait!” moments like that all over the album, and to add to that, Lemiuex‘s vocals are coated in reverb — he did similarly his band Child (who are not to be confused with the Australian blues rockers of the same name) — in such a way that in context of some of the severity surrounding feels like a tip of the hat to Wovenhand that immediately gives the songs a distinguishing element. There’s no shortage of groove to go around in “Pessimist” or elsewhere, and as the album unfolds with “Control” and “Ritual” — which as I understand it was going to be the title-track at one point — there is a linear character to the transitions that the noise-factor only helps further.

deathchant deathchant

Side A of the LP is those three songs: “Pessimist,” “Control” and “Ritual,” and the momentum factor isn’t to be understated. While Deathchant is short, and was recorded live obviously in an effort to capture an energetic vibe (easy to argue success there), the material doesn’t sound any more rushed than they want it to, and they’re in control the whole time of the thrust, which particularly as the drifting centerpiece “Eulogy” takes hold on side B and turns its wash over to the unbridled push of “Breathe,” “Hex” and closer “Trigger,” is key. Every song on the second half of the record is shorter than anything on the first, and it’s almost as though the band swapped out what would be the usual tack for an A/B long-player, putting the up-front rockers in back and the more ranging material up front, “Eulogy” notwithstanding. Either way, even at their most driving, in the forward pummel and tonal crush of “Breathe” or the chugga-shuffle of “Hex,” they hold firm to the atmosphere created by the earlier cuts, so that the most rocking of tracks is still imbued with a darker underlying spirit. As “Trigger” surges outward in go-go-go fashion before cutting to a closing minute-plus of eerie sampled noise and far-away guitar, the core blend of Deathchant‘s aesthetic is maintained — it is volatile, exciting and unpredictable. These are not words I use lightly.

Lemieux, who’s responsible for the songwriting and joined in the band by John Bolino, Colin Fahrner and George Camacho, also helped to mix the recording which was engineered by Stephen Schroeder (who also mastered it), has been and is involved in a number of projects, but Deathchant find their footing quickly on their self-titled, and potential abounds for further exploration, and the lean nature of Deathchant itself only furthers interest in how their ethic will develop over the longer term.

Want the short version? Cool track. Give it a listen:

Recorded live over a 2 day period at a secluded cabin in Big Bear, California. Mixed by TJ Lemieux and Stephen Schroeder. Engineered and Mastered by Stephen Schroeder. All Songs & words by TJ Lemieux. Copyright 2018 RAGWEED.

DEATHCHANT is the brainchild of TJ Lemieux (CHILD, Psychedelic speed freaks, Mainline ladies, Babylon) formed in 2018 in Los Angeles, CA. They have been dubbed Psychedelic rock, proto-metal, doom, stoner metal, noise-punk, hard rock, and everything in between, but if you ask them it’s “rock and roll with psychedelic influences.” Their imagery and sound seem to fluctuate rapidly between a peaceful meditative eastern-tinged message of unity and all out warcry with an underlying message of love and peace-through-violence.

Driven by Thomas (TJ) Lemieux’s brooding aesthetic and signature psychedelic guitar character, DEATHCHANT echoes through the darker side of Proto-metal and hard rock. Reflections of past endeavors from TJ Lemieux, John Bolino, Colin Fahrner, and George Camacho (Roast, psychedelic speed freaks, high rise, Babylon) cascade into an immersive wall of noise-induced heavy metal mania, equal parts paranoia and transcendental harmony. These four create a sound that is loud, massive, and about as melodic as a sonic assault of this magnitude can be. They resonate with wherever or whoever you are and deliver an excitingly raw and catchy brand of rock and roll. Ask a freak!!

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Nebula Premiere “Whalefinger” from Demos & Outtakes 98-02; Preorders up Now

Posted in audiObelisk on November 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

nebula

Nebula will issue Demos and Outtakes 98-02 two months from today, and to mark the occasion of preorders going live through Heavy Psych Sounds, the band are premiering the previously-unreleased track “Whalefinger.” Recorded in 2002, it’s one of the later inclusions on the compilation, with “You Got It” and a faithful live cover of Black Flag‘s “Nervous Breakdown” stemming from the same era. That same year, the Californian heavy psych rockers would release their collection Dos EPs (discussed here) as their final outing with the original lineup of guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass, bassist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano, as by the time 2003’s Atomic Ritual was released, Abshire had moved on. In familiar cuts like “Sun Creature,” “Humbucker,” “To the Center,” “Smokin’ Woman” and “Synthetic Dream,” Demos and Outtakes 98-02 isn’t necessarily as raw sounding as the name would imply, and while it’s inherently true that these most of tracks aren’t the “finished” versions, they also find the band working with producers like Jack Endino on “Humbucker” or John Agnello (Screaming Trees, many others) on the opening Leaf Hound cover “Stagnant Pool,” and with new mixes on “Smokin’ Woman” and “Sun Creature” by Matt Lynch of Snail, the band sounds vital even at their most barebones, which might be “You Got It,” though the Glass-only fuzz-blowout take on The Creation‘s “How Does it Feel to Feel” comes close.

The impact of this era of Nebula‘s work speaks for itself in the influence they continue to have on psychedelia, desert rock, and acts from any number of other intertwining heavy subgenres. Heavy Psych Sounds this year already issued Dos EPs along with Nebula Demos Outtakes 98-021998’s Let it Burn EP (discussed here) and 1999’s To the Center (discussed here) — both landmarks — and though it’s just over two minutes long, “Whalefinger” stands testament to the punk undercurrent running through the band’s sound. Stripped-down lyrics, sharp transitions and a momentum driven by Romano‘s drumming position the track structurally not so far off from “Nervous Breakdown,” though admittedly the latter is faster. And of course that matters to the overall intensity factor, but the point is that Nebula were taking various sonic perspectives from punk, garage rock, psych, stoner, whatever, and bringing them into their own approach. By 2002, they were an established touring act. They’d been across the US and abroad to Europe, and they weren’t exactly rookies when they started either, with Glass and Romano having broken off from Fu Manchu in ’97 and reunited with Abshire, who was that band’s original bassist, shortly thereafter. Still, I’m not sure I’d call Nebula “mature” by the time 2002 rolled around. Certainly they were experienced and seasoned — and toasted — but as Demos and Outtakes 98-02 shows in “Whalefinger” and “You Got It,” there was still a lot of exploring being done in terms of songcraft and aesthetic, and a kind of restlessness propelled them forward.

That works until you hit a wall, which Glass eventually did in 2010, but a revamped version of the band is pressing forward again with Glass, longtime bassist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster and working toward the prospect of the band’s first album since Heavy Psych (review here) in 2009. As to what Nebula might conjure after a decade out of the studio, I don’t know, but Demos and Outtakes 98-02 offers listeners a chance to revisit their original lineup in a way that stands apart from the lineage of their discography. It’s not the first “early works” compilation by any means, but given the fact that the Glass/Abshire/Romano incarnation of the band only had two LPs and a couple EPs and singles out — not nothing, but not exactly a glut of material — and given the nigh-legendary status of the trio as they were, it’s a question of taking all you can get. And from the covers to the unreleased tracks to the working versions of some of their most classic material, fans of the band should be ready to do precisely that.

More PR wire info follows “Whalefinger,” which you’ll find on the player below.

Please enjoy:

Mark Abshire on “Whalefinger”:

“Whalefinger” – not only is this song rad, but it’s the first song Eddie ever wrote. The original version was recorded and released by Olivelawn as a 7” B-side (Eddie played drums in Olivelawn).”

Set for a release on January 25th 2019, the ‘Demos & Outtakes 98-02’ will include 5 tracks that have never seen the light of day before, alongside rare demos as well as cover songs such as a special live version of Black Flag’s ‘Nervous Breakdown’! Beside these never published demos to date, the known tracks on this album are different to what NEBULA originally released on their previous records like on their pathbreaking ‘Charged’ or ‘To The Center’. Some tracks were written and recorded in these sessions, some never made it on any of them or were used for B-sides and singles. And then we get songs such as ‘Whalefinger’ which was the first song Eddie Glass ever wrote and which originally made it on a 7” B-side by Olivelawn, where Eddie played drums.

The tracklist of NEBULA’s ‘Demos & Outtakes 98-02’ will read as follows:

1. Stagnant Pool ( ’00/01 demo, Leaf Hound cover )
2. Whalefinger ( ’02 demo )
3. Humbucker ( ’99 demo )
4. Smokin’ Woman ( ’98 demo )
5. Sun Creature ( ’98 demo )
6. You Got It ( ’02 demo )
7. To The Center ( ’99 demo )
8. Synthetic Dream ( ’99 demo )
9. How Does It Feel To Feel? ( ’99 demo, The Creation cover )
10. Nervous Breakdown ( Live ’02, Black Flag cover )

Preorder: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS088

Nebula lineup on “Whalefinger”:
Eddie Glass: Guitar/Vocals
Ruben Romano: Drums
Mark Abshire: Bass

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