Thou to Release Magus LP Aug. 31; Three EPs Also Coming; New Song Streaming

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

Looks like it’ll be a glut of new Thou by the time summer is over. In addition to the promised new long-player, which as it turns out is titled Magus, the Baton Rouge sonic extremists have three different-sounding EPs in the works, crafted from various influences along the way. Sounds… prolific? I don’t know. Does anyone doubt Thou can pull this off? Anyone who’s heard them before? They’re like one of the most innovative sludge bands of their generation. Sure they can do an EP of dark grunge. They’d do showtunes and make them heavy.

PR wire sends aong rince emails:

thou magus

Thou Announce New Full-Length Album ‘Magus’ Coming August 31st on Sacred Bones Records

Unveil New Single “The Changeling Prince”

Three EPs To Be Released Ahead of Full-Length

Thou have announced their return with new full-length, ‘Magus’. With the impending release of ‘Magus’, the band have decided to take a different approach and release three EPs ahead of the full-length, each of which the band note “are all a complete sonic departure from ‘Magus’ and from each other…”.

Sacred Bones Records is proud to present the new album, ‘Magus’, Thou’s first full-length since 2014’s Heathen. In the months leading into the new album, Thou will be releasing three drastically different EPs: The House Primordial on Raw Sugar, Inconsolable on Community Records, and Rhea Sylvia on Deathwish, Inc. Each record will focus on a particular sound-noisy drone, quiet acoustic, and melodic grunge-all of which is incorporated into the new LP, subsumed in the band’s more standard doom metal.

While sonically, ‘Magus’ may be a continuation of Heathen, thematically it stands as a stark rebuttal, a journey beyond the principles of pleasure and pain. It is more the culmination of these distinct EPs, which all orbit some internal black hole. FFO alienation, absurdity, boredom, futility, decay, the tyranny of history, the vulgarities of change, awareness as agony, reason as disease.

Though often lumped in with New Orleans sludge bands like Eyehategod and Crowbar, Thou shares a more spiritual kinship with ’90s proto-grunge bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden (all of whom they’ve covered extensively, both in the studio and onstage). The band’s aesthetic and political impulses reflect the obscure’90s DIY hardcore punk found on labels like Ebullition, Vermiform, and Crimethinc. From 2004 through 2016, the band has released four full-length albums, six EPs (some bordering on full lengths), two collaboration records with The Body, and enough material spread out over splits to make up another four or five LPs.

‘Magus’ is available August 31st on Sacred Bones Records. For more details and pre-order information, check here.

Thou
‘Magus’
Sacred Bones
August 31, 2018

1 – Inward
2 – My Brother Caliban
3 – Transcending Dualities
4 – The Changeling Prince
5 – Sovereign Self
6 – Divine Will
7 – In the Kingdom of Meaning
8 – Greater Invocation of Disgust
9 – Elimination Rhetoric
10 – The Law Which Compels
11 – Supremacy

https://www.instagram.com/thou_band/
http://noladiy.org/thou/
https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/products/sbr205-thou-magus

Thou, “The Changeling Prince”

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Forming the Void Stream New Split; Rift LP Due in June

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

forming the void

Looks like a busy couple months coming up for Louisiana-based progressive heavy rockers Forming the Void. They’ve teamed up with Black Bow Records‘ own Pyreship for a new split that will be out in a couple weeks’ time via Endhipendit Record Co., a label wing of the Texas-based festival of the same name, and in the meantime have dates booked that will take them down to South by Southwest, you know, which Endhipendit is kind of playing off of, name-wise. Ironic? No. That’s not actually irony. It’s a band booking shows and releasing albums. There’s a difference.

Speaking of releasing albums, word’s also come down from that most venerable of sources — the PR wire — that Forming the Void, whose last outing was 2017’s righteously plotted Relic (review here), will issue a new full-length in June titled Rift via Kozmik Artifactz.

There’s a lot of news to keep up with, and some new audio as well, but I think you’re up to the task. Have at you:

forming the void pyreship split

Louisiana prog-rockers FORMING THE VOID to release new album this June on Kozmik Artifactz | Stream new split with Pyreship

Rift, the new studio album from Forming The Void is due for release this June on Kozmik Artifactz

Forming The Void/Pyreship limited edition split is released on 9th March 2018 on Endhipendit Record Co.

Following the release of last year’s critically acclaimed album Relic, Louisiana’s preeminent prog warlocks, Forming The Void, are thrilled to announce news of their signing to Kozmik Artifactz for new album Rift, US tour dates and the imminent release of a split LP with Texan sludge thugs, Pyreship.

Originally formed in 2013 in Lafayette – a place with an impressive reputation for raising underground rock into realms of the unknown – Forming The Void became one of the city’s most talked about bands of 2017. With the release of their third album Relic, their colossal and atmospheric sound summoned the towering hard rock riffs and progressive influence of bands like Mastodon, Baroness and Torche. A distinctive sound that not only marked them out as ‘ones to watch’, but a sound that promptly earned them recognition around the world as ambitious and gifted players.

Newly signed to German label Kozmik Artifactz, in preparation for the official release of their fourth studio album Rift this June, the band will take to the road throughout 2018 for an extensive run of live dates and festival appearances, including shows at South By Southwest (more info below). Before that however, this March will see the release of a limited split 10” on the Houston-based label Endhipendit Record Co. with Black Bow Records’ Pyreship. Another excellent band in ascension, Pyrsehip blend post metal and doom with a raft of 90s slowcore and noise rock influences, deftly slammed out at punishing volume.

With both bands tackling a side apiece, the two track 10” – featuring Forming The Void’s storming and celestial new work ‘To The Wolves’ – hints at electrifying things to come in what will undoubtedly be a breakout year for the Lafayette quartet.

Rift, the new studio album from Forming The Void is due for release this June on Kozmik Artifactz. In the meantime, Forming The Void/Pyreship’s split is released on 9th March 2018 through Endhipendit Record Co.

US Tour (More TBC):
Fri, 23/02 – Nighthawks – Jacksonville (FL) [w. Hollow Leg, Count the Dead, Insalubrious Minanthropes]
Sat, 24/02 – Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery – Atlanta (GA) [w. Hollow Leg, Canopy, Malevich]
Sun, 25/02 – The Cobra – Nashville (TN) [w. Deathstar Lovebeam, Eddas presented by Nashville Psych Alliance]
Wed, 14/03 – SXSW; Stoner Jam at Swan Dive – Austin (TX)
Thurs, 15/03 – SXSW; Stoner Daze at Texas Mist – Austin, (TX)

Forming The Void:
James Marshall – Guitar/Vocals
Shadi Omar Al-Khansa – Guitar
Luke Baker – Bass
Thomas Colley – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/formingthevoid/
https://twitter.com/forming_thevoid
https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz/
https://twitter.com/kozmikartifactz
https://www.instagram.com/kozmikartifactz/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
http://www.facebook.com/endhipenditrecordco
http://www.instagram.com/endhipendit_record

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Void King and Boudain Touring Europe this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

You’re just going to have to take my word for it when I say I don’t mean this as condescendingly as it might sound: but I think it’s fucking awesome that Void King and Boudain are teaming up for European tour dates. Seriously. If either band winds up seeing this post, good for you guys. Way to live the fucking dream, get off your asses and make it happen.

The Indiana and Louisiana-based acts will head out beginning in Den Haag on Oct. 26 and make their way around Belgium and Germany en route to Kampen, back in the Netherlands, for the Off the Record Festival on Nov. 4. No question the fest is the occasion/impetus behind the tour, since both bands head abroad supporting 2016 releases that came out through Off the Record Label, and while it’s not the longest run, and they’re not the biggest bands in the world, for every US-based group I’ve ever had talk to me about how perfect life would be if only they could get over to Europe and do shows, it’s awesome to see two bands actually putting it together like this. Warms my heart. I mean it.

Info from the PR wire:

void-king-boudain-tour-poster

VOID KING / BOUDAIN to Launch European Tour in October

Indiana’s VOID KING and Louisiana’s BOUDAIN will embark on a European Tour in late October. The Stoner Rock Double Threat will perform in The Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, including Kampen’s (NL) Off The Record Festival. Tour dates are below.

Oct. 26 – The Hague, Netherlands @ Vereniging de vinger
Oct. 27 – Wommelgem, Belgium @ JH Wommel
Oct. 28 – Antwerp, Belgium @ Kid’s Rhythm ‘n Blues Kaffee
Oct. 29 – Osnabrük, Germany @ Dirty Dancing
Nov. 2 – Gouda, Netherlands @ StudioGonz
Nov. 3 – Arnhem, Netherlands @ Brigant
Nov. 4 – Kampen, Netherlands @ Off The Record Festival

If there is nothing, as we have long suspected, then let the Void take us there. Let the volume of the oncoming storm compel us forward, into what can only be considered to be our one true calling; to praise the riff.

Void King is:
Derek Felix – drums
Chris Carroll – bass guitar.
Jason Kindred – voice.
Tommy Miller – electric guitar.

BOUDAIN’s Way of the Hoof is a storm of Space, Pork, and Riffs! Recorded at SpaceLab 420 studios, the follow-up to the band’s 2013 EP is perfect for anyone who enjoys the kind of groove that makes you want to smoke out, grill out, and chill with the swine.

Boudain is:
Brian Lenard – guitar
Chris Porter – bass/vocals
David Karakash – guitars
Stephen Jester – drums

http://voidking.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/voidkingband/
twitter.com/_VoidKing
https://boudain.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/boudainla/
https://twitter.com/Boudainmusic

Void King, There is Nothing (2016)

Boudain, Way of the Hoof (2016)

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Forming the Void Hit the Studio to Record New Single

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

They’re not so terribly far removed from the vinyl release of their second album, Relic (review here), via Lonestar Records — which followed a CD issue through Argonauta this past Spring — but as we know, Louisiana’s Forming the Void have a knack for working quickly. This past weekend found the Lafayette four-piece back in the studio working on a new single that will apparently be used as part of a split release with Houston, Texas’ Pyreship. No release date has been announced, but Forming the Void do refer to Pyreship as labelmates below, so perhaps there’s some news on that front coming sometime in the near future. I’ll keep an eye open and do the see-it-post-it thing to the best of my ability, like always.

In the meantime, I’m interested to hear where Forming the Void are headed and if we get a glimpse of that on this forthcoming split. Relic was a fast turnaround from the heavy progressive heavy rock/metallers’ 2015 debut, Skyward (review here), but a marked step forward in their development as well, so as they continue to move ahead perhaps toward a third full-length, my specific question is how their stylistic blend will shake out, where and if the psychedelic aspects of Relic will show up again, if so, how, and where the adventurousness their songwriting has shown to this point will ultimately lead them.

They made a quick announcement of the work underway on the social medias and have a gig coming up this weekend in Baton Rouge. Info follows:

forming the void

“Back at it again laying down a single for a split release with our labelmates Pyreship. Shout out to our awesome engineer James Whitten at Hightower Recording!”

Forming the Void live:
08.12 Baton Rouge LA Varsity Theatre w/ Ambassador, Slounge & Drood

FORMING THE VOID is an American rock band from Lafayette, Louisiana. Formed in 2013, the band consists of James Marshall, Shadi Al-Khansa, Luke Baker, and Thomas Colley. Their unique blend of atmospheric, progressive rock with towering fuzzed out riffs places a heavy emphasis on dynamics and layers.

https://www.facebook.com/formingthevoid/
https://twitter.com/forming_thevoid
https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/
http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/music-/191-forming-void-relic-cd.html
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords
https://www.facebook.com/Lonestar-Records-142216302478941

Forming the Void, Relic (2017)

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Eyehategod Announce Massive US Tour Starting Aug. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

eyehategod photo by dean kerr

Well now, this seems ambitious. That’s not me trying to be backhanded or say I think it can’t or won’t happen — Eyehategod have spent the entirety of their 30-year career of sticking a collective middle finger in the face of the universe, and in so doing helped to define an essential element of what sludge became in their wake — just that as frontman Mike Williams comes back from a liver transplant, a 39-date US tour is a hell of a way to do it. Granted, if anyone can, it’s Williams, and it’s Eyehategod — on whom the universe has consistent shit in response to the aforementioned middle finger — but again, pretty ambitious.

They’ll play with Phobia, Cro-Mags, Negative Approach, The Obsessed, Pig Destroyer and others on the run, the dates for which appear below, hand-delivered by the PR wire:

eyehategod

EYEHATEGOD Announces Left To Starve Summer Tour With Negative Approach, Cro-Mags, And More On Select Dates

EYEHATEGOD will kick off a thirty-nine-date US mega tour next month. The Left To Starve summer takeover will commence on August 1st, run through September 13th, and includes performances with Capitalist Casualties, Phobia, Primitive Man, Negative Approach, Antiseen, Cro-Mags, Pig Destroyer, The Obsessed, and Mountain Of Wizard on select dates! The journey also marks frontman Mike IX Williams’ lengthiest tour since undergoing liver transplant surgery this past December.

Comments IX Williams, “This band, for better or worse, has endured a mind-numbing and brain-expanding thirty years of making some of the most criminally riff filled and abhorrent sounds ever heard on the planet earth. No middle ground; EYEHATEGOD is either wonderfully loved or instinctively hated. Predicting the future accidentally and preaching the end time message, see the band LIVE now before something else bad happens…”

EYEHATEGOD – Left To Starve Summer Tour:
8/01/2017 Boozers – Corpus Christi, TX
8/02/2017 Lowbrow – El Paso, TX
8/03/2017 Club Red – Phoenix, AZ w/ Capitalist Casualties, Phobia
8/04/2017 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV w/ Capitalist Casualties, Phobia
8/05/2017 Los Globos – Los Angeles, CA w/ Capitalist Casualties, Phobia
8/06/2017 Blue Lamp – Sacramento, CA w/ Capitalist Casualties
8/07/2017 Elbow Room – San Francisco, CA w/ Capitalist Casualties
8/08/2017 Dante’s – Portland, OR w/ Capitalist Casualties
8/09/2017 El Corazon – Seattle, WA w/ Capitalist Casualties
8/11/2017 Marquis Theater – Denver, CO w/ Primitive Man
8/12/2017 Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM w/ Primitive Man
8/13/2017 Korova – San Antonio, TX w/ Negative Approach
8/14/2017 Trees – Dallas, TX w/ Negative Approach
8/15/2017 89th Street – Oklahoma City, OK w/ Negative Approach
8/16/2017 The Gig – Beaumont, TX w/ Negative Approach
8/18/2017 South Port – New Orleans, LA w/ Negative Approach
8/19/2017 Ground Zero – Spartanburg, SC w/ Antiseen, Negative Approach
8/20/2017 The Muse – Wilmington, NC w/ Negative Approach
8/21/2017 The Earl – Atlanta, GA w/ Negative Approach
8/22/2017 Broadberry – Richmond, VA w/ Negative Approach
8/24/2017 Middle East – Boston, MA w/ Cro-Mags
8/25/2017 Montage – Rochester, NY w/ Cro-Mags
8/26/2017 Cafe 611 – Frederick, MD w/ Cro-Mags, Pig Destroyer
8/27/2017 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY w/ Cro-Mags
8/28/2017 Chameleon Club – Lancaster, PA w/ Cro-Mags
8/30/2017 Mexicali – Teaneck, NJ w/ Cro-Mags
8/31/2017 Outpost – Kent, OH w/ Cro-Mags
9/01/2017 Spirit Hall – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Cro-Mags
9/02/2017 Cobra Lounge – Chicago, IL w/ Cro-Mags
9/03/2017 Cobra Lounge – Chicago, IL w/ Cro-Mags
9/04/2017 Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN w/ Cro-Mags
9/05/2017 Rock Island Brewing – Rock Island, IL w/ Cro-Mags
9/06/2017 Club El – Detroit, MI w/ Cro-Mags
9/08/2017 Ace Of Cups – Columbus, OH w/ The Obsessed, Mountain Of Wizard
9/09/2017 The Pinch – Washington, DC w/ The Obsessed, Mountain Of Wizard
9/10/2017 Golden Pony – Harrionsburg, VA w/ The Obsessed, Mountain Of Wizard
9/11/2017 Ziggys – Chattanooga, TN w/ Mountain Of Wizard
9/12/2017 Sidetracks – Huntsville, AL w/ Mountain Of Wizard
9/13/2017 Vinyl Music Hall – Pensacola, FL w/ Mountain Of Wizard

http://www.eyehategod.ee
http://www.facebook.com/OfficialEyeHateGod
http://www.thehousecorerecords.com
http://www.thehousecorerecords.com
http://www.thehousecorestore.com
http://www.facebook.com/housecorerecords

Eyehategod, “Medicine Noose” official video

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Forming the Void: Relic Vinyl Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

forming the void

Next month will see the official vinyl release of Forming the Void‘s 2017 album, Relic (review here). Initially offered on CD via Italian imprint Argonauta Records, the Louisiana natives’ sophomore outing is available now to preorder through Lonestar Records in full-platter form, and one can hardly say it doesn’t earn the honor both in its aural and visual presentation. Guitarist/vocalist James Marshall recently took some time out for a Six Dumb Questions interview (posted here) to discuss the band’s development between their 2015 debut, Skyward (review here), and the new record, and in so doing cited vinyl as a particular goal for their latest work, so kudos and cheers to the band on seeing that come to fruition.

If you haven’t heard Relic yet — and yeah, I know you have, because you’re up on it like that — you can find the full thing streaming below. Preorder info and links follow here as well:

forming-the-void-relic

Forming the Void vinyl release date – July 28th

Following the release of last year’s impressive Skyward album, Forming the Void, originally formed in 2013 in Lafayette, Louisiana, has gained an impressive reputation for raising underground rock into realms of the previously unknown. Atmospheric, heavy and progressive yet losing none of these earnest qualities at volume, they layer their ambitions as thickly as the riffs that help transmit their visions. Newly signed to Italian label Argonauta Records, this March will see the release of their third album Relic. Like Skyward before it, it draws on one hell of a colossal sound. Summoning the towering hard rock riffs and progressive influence of bands like Mastodon, Baroness and Torche, Relic finds the four piece illustrating their bold and adventurous ideas in the most vivid of colours.

PRE-ORDER! Release: 28th of July 2017!

Coke-bottle clear vinyl is limited to 500 copies!
https://www.lonestar-recs.de/you-got-the-choice/shop/

Forming The Void:
James Marshall – Guitar/Vocals
Shadi Omar Al-Khansa – Guitar
Luke Baker – Bass
Jordan Boyd – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/formingthevoid/
https://twitter.com/forming_thevoid
https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/
http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/music-/191-forming-void-relic-cd.html
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords
https://www.facebook.com/Lonestar-Records-142216302478941

Forming the Void, Relic (2017)

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Six Dumb Questions with Forming the Void

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on April 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

forming the void

We’re at less than a month’s remove from the release date of Forming the Void‘s second album, Relic (review here), and already it’s apparent that the Louisiana four-piece are turning heads in their direction. The follow-up to 2015’s Skyward (review here) is also the first outing for the band to be issued through Italy’s Argonauta Records, and it further solidifies the progressive charge of its predecessor with a crisp delivery and a marked sense of scope across its span. It toys with but is by no means subject to heavy rock genre restrictions, and one finds it no less at home in the aggro-catchiness of “Biolazar” and the post-Torche lumber of “Plumes” than it is in the more tripped-out roll of “Unto the Smoke” or the take on Led Zeppelin‘s “Kashmir” that rounds out.

United by a clean and clearheaded production, Relic freely careens between a swath of influences from the modern sphere: here touching on Baroness-style melody, there on Eastern-scale guitar leads like that in “Endless Road.” And though they don’t shy away from acknowledging the complexity of what they’re doing, neither do the album’s eight tracks come across as inflated. If anything, as asserted below by guitarist/vocalist James Marshall — joined in the band by guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Jordan Boyd — they’ve become stronger in terms of their editorial voice, so that the resulting output is all the more efficient and communicative in its purposes. That’s an ongoing process, of course, but so is creativity as a whole, and Relic sees Forming the Void take pivotal forward steps on a number of levels, establishing them as an act consciously dedicated to their sonic progression.

Below, Marshall talks about the origins of the band, what they learned from Skyward going into Relic, the mysterious figure on the front cover of both their albums to-date, working with Argonauta and more.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

forming-the-void-relic

Six Dumb Questions with Forming the Void

Tell me about getting Forming the Void together. Did you have a sound in mind first, or did you start playing and then the band’s style began to take shape? 

When I first started looking for people to play in the band, I was just looking to play rock music. When we all got together in a room, each of our strengths just naturally came through in the music. As we’ve grown, we’ve steadily tried to play on those strengths more. The most drastic change is we’ve been steadily getting heavier.

Talk about your writing process, in general and for Relic particularly. What lessons did you learn from Skyward and how were you able to bring them into the new album?

With Relic the ideas were a lot more deliberate rather than the spontaneous jam room ideas that led to Skyward. I think each approach has its merits, but it was nice to be able to sit down and A-B parts to get a better idea of how we wanted something to flow. One lesson I think we took from Skyward was editing and trimming parts down if they didn’t serve a purpose. We have less long music breaks in Relic but I think it’s more well-packaged that way.

How long were you in the studio this time? How did the recording experience compare to when you put together Skyward? It seems like a really quick span between the two records.

We started tracking Relic in mid-July and finished reamping stuff mid-October. It was a very different experience than Skyward, which we tracked in a few days. We recorded drums at my buddy (and mastering engineer) Jai‘s house and tracked the rest at my house. It was a good and a bad thing to have that much time to obsess over it.

Both album covers feature hooded figures and the classic comic style of David Paul Seymour. Does that hooded character on the front of Relic have some special significance to the band? Does he have a name? Is there a story being told about him either through the album or the art?

There’s something nice about having a figure defined by his ambiguity. I think it’s a lot like our music; kind of hard to put a finger on it. There’s definitely a sense of mystery surrounding the artwork, especially the hooded figure, which is intentional. In that vein, I’ve never thought of giving him a name or a backstory. He’s just omnipresent; a veiled servant to a greater purpose.

How did signing to Argonauta Records come about and how has it been releasing the album with them?

Our friend Jason Ogle from Electric Age actually got me in touch Argonauta. It’s been really cool. [Label head] Gero has been incredibly helpful throughout the whole process and Argonauta has been really nice to work with. I couldn’t have asked for anything better from our first signing experience.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We recently signed a deal with Lonestar Records from Germany to release Relic on vinyl. We’re pretty excited to have that coming. It should be released sometime between June 2nd and 9th. Vinyl has been a goal of mine for a while so we’re pretty stoked to finally have that come to fruition.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Forming the Void on Twitter

Forming the Void on Bandcamp

Relic at Argonauta Records

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Lonestar Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Ulver, Forming the Void, Hidden Trails, Svvamp, Black Mirrors, Endless Floods, Tarpit Boogie, Horseburner, Vermilion Whiskey, Hex Inverter

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Feeling groovy heading into Day Two of the Spring 2017 Quarterly Review, and I hope you are as well. Today we dig into a pretty wide variety of whatnots, so make sure you’ve got your head with you as we go, because there are some twists and turns along the way. I mean it. Of all five days in this round, this one might be the most wild, so keep your wits intact. I’m doing my best to do the same, of course, but make no promises in that regard.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Ulver, The Assassination of Julius Caesar

ulver-the-assassination-of-julius-caesar

Norwegian post-everything specialists Ulver have reportedly called The Assassination of Julius Caesar (on House of Mythology) “their pop album,” and while the Nik Turner-inclusive freakout in second cut “Rolling Stone” (that may or may not be him on closer “Comign Home” as well) doesn’t quite fit that mold, the beats underscoring the earlier portion of that track, opener “Nemoralia” and the melodrama of “Southern Gothic” certainly qualify. Frontman/conceptual mastermind Kristoffer Rygg’s voice is oddly suited to this form – he carries emotionally weighted hooks like a melancholy George Michael on the electronically pulsating “Transverberation” and, like most works of pop, shows an obsession with the ephemeral in a slew of cultural references in “1969,” which in no way is likely to be mistaken for the Stooges song of the same name. While “So Falls the World” proves ridiculously catchy, “Coming Home” is about as close as Ulver actually come here to modern pop progression, and the Badalamenti-style low-end and key flourish in “1969” is a smooth touch, much of what’s happening in these eight tracks is still probably too complex to qualify as pop, but The Assassination of Julius Caesar is further proof that Ulver’s scope only grows more boundless as the years pass. The only limits they ever seem to know are the ones they leave behind.

Ulver on Twitter

House of Mythology website

 

Forming the Void, Relic

forming-the-void-relic

Last year, Louisiana four-piece Forming the Void had the element of surprise working to their advantage when it came to the surprising progressive edge of their debut album, Skyward (review here). Now signed to Argonauta, the eight-song/55-minute follow-up, Relic, doesn’t need it. It finds Forming the Void once again working proggy nuance into big-riffed, spaciously vocalized fare on early cuts “After Earth” and “Endless Road,” but as the massive hook of “Biolazar” demonstrates, the process by which guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Jordan Boyd meld their influences has become more cohesive and more their own. Accordingly, I’m not sure they need the 11-minute closing take on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” since by then the point is made in the lumber/plunder of “Plumes” and in the more tripped-out “Unto the Smoke” just before, but as indulgences go, it’s a relatively easy one to make. They’re still growing, but doing so quickly, and already they’ve begun to find a niche for themselves between styles that one hopes they’ll continue to explore.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Hidden Trails, Instant Momentary Bliss

hidden-trails-instant-momentary-bliss

Though it keeps a wash of melodic keys in the background and its approach is resolutely laid back on the whole, “Beautiful Void” is nonetheless a major factor in the overall impression of Hidden Trails’ self-titled debut (on Elektrohasch), as its indie vibe and departure from the psychedelic prog of the first two cuts, “Lancelot” and “Mutations,” marks a major distinguishing factor between this outfit and Hypnos 69, in which the rhythm section of the Belgian trio played previously. “Ricky” goes on to meld acoustic singer-songwriterism and drones together, and “Hands Unfold” has a kind of jazzy bounce, the bassline of Dave Houtmeyers and drumming of Tom Vanlaer providing upbeat groove under Jo Neyskens’ bright guitar lead, but the anticipation of heavy psych/prog never quite leaves after the opening, and that doesn’t seem to be what the band wants to deliver. The sweetly harmonized acid folk of “Leaving Like That” is on a different wavelength, and likewise the alt-rock vibes of “Space Shuffle” and “Come and Play” and the grunge-chilled-out closer “Denser Diamond.” If there’s an issue with Hidden Trails, it’s one of the expectations I’m bringing to it as a listener and a fan of Houtmeyers’ and Vanlaer’s past work, but clearly it’s going to take me a little longer to get over the loss of their prior outfit. Maybe I’m just not ready to move on.

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Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

 

Svvamp, Svvamp

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Naturalist vibes pervade immediately from this late-2016 self-titled Svvamp debut (on RidingEasy Records) in the bassline to “Serpent in the Sky,” and in some of the post-Blue Cheer heavy blues sensibility, the Swedish trio bring to mind some of what made early Dirty Streets so glorious. Part of the appeal of Svvamp’s Svvamp, however, is that among the lessons it’s learned from heavy ‘70s rock and from Kadavar‘s own self-titled is to keep it simple. “Fresh Cream” is a resonant blues jam… that lasts two and a half minutes. The bouncing, turning “Oh Girl?” Three. Even the longest of its cuts, the slide-infused “Time,” the subdued roller “Big Rest” and the Marshall Tucker-esque finale “Down by the River,” are under five. This allows the three-piece of Adam Johansson, Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren to build significant momentum over the course of their 35-minute run, casting aside pretense in favor of aesthetic cohesion and an organic sensibility all the more impressive for it being their first record. Sweden has not lacked for boogie rock, but even the most relatively raucous moments here, as in the winding “Blue in the Face,” don’t seem overly concerned with what anyone else is up to, and that bodes remarkably well for Svvamp’s future output.

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RidingEasy Records website

 

Black Mirrors, Funky Queen

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There are few songs ever written that require whoever’s playing them to “bring it” more than MC5’s “Kick out the Jams.” True, it’s been covered many, many times over, but few have done it well. Belgium’s Black Mirrors signal riotous intent by including it as one of the four tracks of their Napalm Records debut EP, Funky Queen, along with the originals “Funky Queen,” “The Mess” and “Canard Vengeur Masqué,” and amid the post-Blues Pills stomp of “The Mess,” the mega-hook of the opening title-track and the more spacious five-plus-minute closer, which works elements of heavy psych into its bluesy push late to welcome effect, “Kick out the Jams” indeed brings a moment of relative cacophony, even if there’s no actual threat of the band losing control behind the powerful vocals of Marcella di Troia. As a first showing, Funky Queen would seem to be a harbinger, but it’s also a purposeful and somewhat calculated sampling of Black Mirrors’ wares, and I wouldn’t expect it to be long before an album follows behind expanding on the ideas presented in these tracks.

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Black Mirrors at Napalm Records

 

Endless Floods, II

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No doubt that for some who’d take it on, any words beyond “members of Monarch!” will be superfluous, but Bordeaux three-piece Endless Floods, who do indeed feature bassist/vocalist Stéphane Miollan and drummer Benjamin Sablon from that band, as well as guitarist Simon Bedy, have more to offer than pedigree on their three-song sophomore full-length, II (on Dry Cough vinyl and Breathe Plastic cassette). To wit, 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Impasse” rumbles out raw but spacious sludge that, though without keys or a glut of effects, and marked by the buried-deep screaming of Miollan, holds a potent sense of atmosphere so that the two-minute interlude “Passage” doesn’t seem out of place leading into the 19-minute lumber of “Procession,” which breaks shortly before its halfway point to bass-led minimalism in setting up the final build of the record. Slow churning intensity and longform sludge working coherently alongside ambient sensibilities and some genuinely disturbing noise? Yeah, that’ll do nicely. Thanks.

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Dry Cough Records on Bandcamp

Breathe Plastic Records on Bandcamp

 

Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam

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Boasting four eight-plus-minute instrumentals, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam finds New Jersey trio Tarpit Boogie rife with classic style heavy rock chemistry, bassist John Eager running fills around the dense-toned riffing from guitarist George Pierro as drummer Chris Hawkins propels a surprising thrust on opener “FFF Heavy Jam.” I’ve been a fan of Pierro and Eager’s since we were bandmates a decade ago, so to hear them unfold “Chewbacca Jacket” from its tense opening to its righteously crashing finale is definitely welcome, but the 37-minute offering finds its true reasoning in the swing and shuffle of the eponymous “Tarpit Boogie,” which digs into the very challenge posed by the title – whether or not anyone taking on the album can handle its balance of sonic impact and exploratory feel – inclusive, in this case, of a drum solo that sets a foundation for a moment of Cactus-style rush ahead of a return to the song’s central progression to conclude. They round out with “1992 (Thank You Very Little),” Chevy Chase sample and all, bringing more crashing nod to a massive slowdown that makes it feel like the entire back half of the cut is one big rock finish. And so it is. A well-kept secret of Garden State heavy.

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Tarpit Boogie on Bandcamp

 

Horseburner, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil

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The self-released Dead Seeds, Barren Soil is Horseburner’s second full-length, and it arrived in 2016 from the four-piece some seven years after their 2009 debut, Dirt City. They’ve had a few shorter outings in between, demos and 2013’s Strange Giant EP, but the West Virginia four-piece of Adam Nohe, Chad Ridgway, Jack Thomas and Zach Kaufman seem to be shooting for a definitive statement of intent in the blend of heavy rock and modern, Baroness-style prog that emerges on opener “David” and finds its way into the galloping “Into Black Resolution,” the multi-tiered vocals of “A Newfound Purity” and even the more straight-ahead thrust of “The Soil’s Prayer.” Marked out by the quality of its guitar work and its clearly-plotted course, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil caps with “Eleleth,” which at just under eight minutes draws the heft and the complexity together for a gargantuan finish that does justice to the ground Horseburner just flattened as they left it behind.

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Horseburner on Bandcamp

 

Vermilion Whiskey, Spirit of Tradition

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Lafayette, Louisiana, five-piece Vermilion Whiskey telegraph participation in the New Wave of Dude Rock to the point of addressing their audience as “boy” in second cut “The Past is Dead,” and from the cartoon cleavage on the cover to the lack of irony between naming the record Spirit of Tradition and putting a song called “The Past is Dead” on it, they sell that well. The Kent Stump-mixed/Tony Reed-mastered six-tracker is the band’s second behind 2013’s 10 South, and basks in dudely, dudely dudeliness; Southern metal born more out of the Nola style than what, say, Wasted Theory are getting up to these days, but that would still fit on a bill with that Delaware outfit. If you think you’re dude enough for a song like “One Night,” hell, maybe you are. Saddle up. Listening to that and the chunky-style riff of closer “Loaded Up,” I feel like I might need hormone therapy to hit that level of may-yun, but yeah. Coherent, well written, tightly performed and heavy. Vermilion Whiskey might as well be hand-issuing dudes invitations to come drink with them, but they make a solid case for doing so.

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Vermilion Whiskey on Bandcamp

 

Hex Inverter, Revision

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If the cover art and a song title like “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts” weren’t enough of a tip-off, there’s a strong undercurrent of the unsettled to Hex Inverter’s second long-player, Revision. The Pennsylvania-based experimentalists utilize a heaping dose of drones to fill out arrangements of keys, guitar and noise that would otherwise be pretty minimal, and vocals come and go in pro- and depressive fashion. Texture proves the key as they embark on the linear centerpiece “Something Else,” with a first verse arriving over a sweetened bassline after four minutes into the total 9:58, and the wash of noise in “Daphne” obscures an avant neo-jazz groove late, so while opener “Cannibal Eyes” basks in foreboding ambience prior to an emotionally-driven and explosive crunch-beat payoff, one never quite knows what to expect next on Revision. That, of course, is essential to the appeal. They find an edge of rock in the aforementioned “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts,” but as the loops and synth angularity of closer “Fled (Deadverse Mix)” make plain, their intentions speak to something wider than even an umbrella genre.

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Hex Inverter on Bandcamp

 

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