Review & Track Premiere, Various Artists, Alice in Chains: Dirt [Redux]

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

dirt redux

[Click play above to stream Howling Giant’s “Rooster” from Magnetic Eye Records’ Dirt [Redux] Alice in Chains tribute. LP/CD/DL out Sept. 18 with preorders here.]

2nd Law: check Online custom order assignment online essays, term papers, research papers, reports, reviews and homework assignments. Get Says Howling Giant’s Zach Wheeler:

“To be honest, getting ‘Rooster’ was a bit intimidating as it’s one of their most popular songs. We wanted to pay tribute to Alice in Chains as much as possible while giving the song that special Howling Giant sauce. We changed a few things around, but tried to reinforce the melodies that make the song so memorable in the first place.”

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“When I was growing up in Buffalo, Minnesota, there was a local band called Blood Root Mother made up of some dudes that were probably four or five years older than me. I remember sneaking out of my house to see them perform at this rundown venue called The Vault. The Vault was run by some 20 year olds that skipped college in order to renovate that old antique shop into a dirty DIY venue. If dirty and uncomfortable was the vibe they were going for, they nailed it. Anyway, Blood Root Mother were tight as hell and I’ll always remember their cover of ‘Rooster’ as one of the most moving performances I witnessed from a bunch of local, lovable scumbags. The energy was so raw, and the volume was overwhelming. I think that witnessing those guys performing that song in particular is the reason I started playing in rock bands in high school, and why I still play today.”

Released in September 1992, It has never been this easy to buy a Personal Statement Ucas Help. It's also safe as well. We guarantee you 100% plagiarism-free content and confidentiality. Alice in Chains‘ second full-length, buy a dissertation online rub distance learning school developer online business plan bundle Doctoral software to help write essays buy a dissertation online no Dirt, is a generational landmark. It remains one of a select few records of its era — along with write my dissertation uk help http://www.opsi.org/?order-custom-paper essay oniline need help write research paper introduction Nirvana‘s Our custom writings sign up are always ready to assist with any academic assignment, any paper, any essay - we've got you covered. Nevermind, medical writing service, http://www.em2.bz.it/?new-technology-research-paper, medical research papers, medical editing services Pearl Jam‘s http://www.studenthelpclub.com/masters-dissertation-services-gantt-chart/ - Let the specialists do your homework for you. Papers and essays at most affordable prices. experienced scholars, top-notch Ten, Are you looking for SEO writing jobs that give you freedom? We content writing services for websites based on merits, apply now and join our team of professionals. Soundgarden‘s Order a much needed writing service to work on one of your how to http://www.clickmedia.gr/?dst-research-proposal assignments. 14-5-2007 · Train your kids to do homework without arguing! Badmotorfinger, and maybe one or two others — that helped define the “grunge” sound for which Seattle, Washington, would become almost inextricably known. With an underlying-and-at-times-right-up-front theme of drug addiction and ensuing personal fallout,  Only cheap services on fast Costs And Benefits Of U S Economic Sanctions! Pay only for top-quality assignments written by expert US and UK writers. Essays, research papers and Dirt was grimmer and could be more aggressive than most of its still-commercially-viable major label contemporaries, and as a result always had some more appeal to metal fans than, say, essay on my ambition in life as a teacher Master http://crp-construction.com/the-giver-essay/s essay writer in australia sample for resume format Pearl Jam, who were strictly a hard rock band at the time. Guitarist  best college admission essay 300 word 2014 (Volume 1) [Gabrielle Glancy] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. As the title implies, this book showcases the Jerry Cantrell‘s now-classic riffs and vocals,  Outsource What Makes A Successful Business Plans to Outsource2india and get access to accurate blog writing by a team of experienced professional writers. Sean Kinney‘s inventive drums, the fluid bass work of  Get Online Wreting Paper Services with step-by-step guidance from Rocket Lawyer. Raise money for your business with this free business plan template. Use Mike Starr and  Layne Staley‘s voice that would prove inimitable despite the attempts of three decades’ worth of singers — these essential elements came together around a group of particularly memorable songs, some radio hits, some B sides, and of course, “Iron Gland” for good measure, and served as the proverbial lightning in the bottle and the standard by which the band’s output ever since has been judged.

In continuing its tribute series of full album releases by embarking on a Dirt [Redux], Magnetic Eye Records takes on a no less crucial album than when the label put together compilation tributes to Pink Floyd or Jimi Hendrix. There are some recognizable acts from the Magnetic Eye stable as well as others clearly given to celebrating the work itself, and those who remain loyal to the original versions of the songs while other groups prefer to bring their appointed track into their own sonic context. Like the original Dirt, Dirt [Redux] of course boasts 13 tracks — it’s a whole-album tribute; it wouldn’t do to leave something out — though its runtime is longer than the original, at 63 minutes as opposed to 57. The tracklisting reads as follows:

1. Thou – Them Bones
2. Low Flying Hawks – Dam That River
3. High Priest – Rain When I Die
4. Khemmis – Down in a Hole
5. These Beasts – Sickman
6. Howling Giant – Rooster
7. Forming the Void – Junkhead
8. Somnuri – Dirt
9. Backwoods Payback – God Smack
10. Black Electric – Iron Gland
11. -(16)- – Hate to Feel
12. Vokonis – Angry Chair
13. The Otolith – Would?

Their take on “Would?” — tracked by Alice in Chains first for an appearance on the soundtrack of the film Singles then reused on the album — marks the debut recording from post-SubRosa outfit The Otolith, and arrives with no shortage of anticipation. Bookending with “Them Bones” as interpreted by New Orleans art-sludgers Thou, the atmospheric breadth brought to the finale is a standout on the release and, at that point, one more instance of a band making the track their own. Thou‘s blend of harsh and cleaner vocals notwithstanding, they largely keep to the original tempo and arrangement of the leadoff track, whereas Low Flying Hawks take the subsequent “Dam That River” — a hooky follow-up to the opener — and turn it into an ambient drone only vaguely related to the original.

dirt redux vinyl

And why not? There’s no rule that says a band has to do an impression rather than an interpretation, and as Dirt [Redux] plays out, the likes of Khemmis, These Beasts, Howling Giant, Forming the Void, -(16)- and Vokonis bring their own spin. Khemmis could hardly be a better fit for the emotive doom of “Down in a Hole,” and the crunch These Beasts deliver on “Sickman” is an intense precursor to what L.A.’s -(16)- do with “Hate to Feel” later on. Feeling very much like the vanguard of an up and coming generation of progressive heavy rock, Howling Giant, Forming the Void and Vokonis boldly tackle their respective cuts, with “Rooster” getting a bolstered melody (no easy feat), “Junkhead” receiving a newfound nodder groove, and “Angry Chair” highlighting a rhythmic complexity that is both a late surprise and oh, oh, oh so very Swedish.

To complement these forays, Somnuri find a glorious and elusive middle-ground on the album’s title-track, the Brooklynite trio not giving “Dirt” a total makeover so much as an organic-feeling performance that captures the subtle spaciousness that was so much a part of Dirt‘s lonely feel in the first place — all those sometimes empty reaches of its mix. Earlier, Chicago’s High Priest offer perhaps the most impressive vocal included on the redux with “Rain When I Die,” with the as-yet-underrated, very-much-need-to-put-an-album-out group play to their own Alice in Chains influence. Ditto that Backwoods Payback, who bleed their love of the original through their raw interpretation of “God Smack,” finding a space somewhere between punk, post-hardcore and heavy rock that is theirs alone on this release and in the wider underground sphere. These cuts serve the vital function of bringing Dirt [Redux] its sense of homage, making the tribute a tribute, and giving a listener who might not be familiar with all the bands on the Magnetic Eye roster a chance to reorient before, say, These Beasts unfurl their pummeling rendition of “Sickman” or Low Flying Hawks taffy-pull “Dam That River” to suit their own whims.

One would be remiss not to point out that the 43-second interlude “Iron Gland” is here covered by Black Electric, which features Magnetic Eye Records‘ own Mike Vitali (also ex-Ironweed and Greatdayforup) on guitar. Their version is almost eerily reminiscent of the original, on which Slayer‘s Tom Araya sat in for vocals, and gives way to -(16)-‘s roughed-up “Hate to Feel” with a similar flow to the progression between the two tracks on Dirt proper. If you come out of this Dirt [Redux] with a hankering to listen to Alice in Chains, don’t be surprised. I’ll admit to having an attachment to the album that borders on the familial, and whatever they do with it arrangement-wise, I have nothing but respect for anyone brave enough to cover songs that have so much specific heart and style behind them. Inevitably a listener’s experience with Dirt [Redux] will depend on their own context with the original record as well as with the bands involved, but when all is said and done, it is a more than worthy inclusion in Magnetic Eye‘s [Redux] series — Black Sabbath would seem to be next — and it points to just how broadly Alice in Chains‘ influence has spread over the last three decades. You can’t really go wrong.

Various Artists, Dirt [Redux] (2020)

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Days of Rona: Susie McMullan, Jamie McCathie & Jordan Perkins-Lewis of Brume

Posted in Features on May 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

brume-on-zoom

Days of Rona: Susie McMullan, Jamie McCathie & Jordan Perkins-Lewis of Brume (San Francisco, California)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual?

Susie McMullan: I love and respect Jamie and Jordan, they are family. I deal with it like I do my own family, I am there on the front line if they need me and try not to have any expectations of them at the same time. Jamie, Jordan and I are not interested in being famous or popular. We like to make music that is meaningful to us, something we’d listen too, something that connects with others that may feel the same way. As soon as it feels like a job or a burden, we back off or slow down. It is the luxury of being a musician as an adult with other talents and interests. For instance, Jordan was recently nominated for an Emmy for his video work, Jamie won a Grammy with his design work at a fancy design firm, and I love science and engineering just as much as making music.

When you don’t know how the music industry will change or how long it will be before we can interact safely or if you can pay your bills next month, then we are all living with this low level stress. Stress will manifest itself in ugly ways like flakiness, laziness, eating disorders, relationship problems and health issues. The kindest thing we can do for each other is drop our expectations of one another outside of mutual respect and help people feel less lonely.

Jordan Perkins-Lewis: All band activities have been cancelled indefinitely. I’m just chillin’.

Jamie McCathie: I’m lucky enough to have a job, an amazing wife and kid at home and time to relax or do house projects. We are bummed to not be touring our recent album but man, mostly we miss drinking warm beers at our practice space and hanging out together.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are?

SM: I feel like people are doing the best they can with the information they have, especially my California neighbors. On a national level, it has been deplorable. Our president has lied to us, created unnecessary panic, unnecessary delays and a national sense of hopelessness.

JPL: Feeling good overall. Bay Area!

From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

SM: Imagine if your government’s political agenda is more important than public health. That is what is happening in the US. The people of the united states are being lied too, mislead and left in a state of confusion because facts do not align with the administration’s political agenda. In short, Donald could care less if many people die unnecessary deaths as long as he gets re-elected. He could care less if half of the country is homeless and without healthcare as long as he gets re-elected. That is our government, he’s a disgrace to the honest good people of America and doesn’t represent our morals or national tone. He’s a delusional, egomaniacal unfortunate circumstance of the last four years.

JPL: I’ve been sheltering in place since March 13th. I haven’t seen much of anything other than delivery drivers and streaming tv.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

SM: Pandemic to politics, music is bigger than anything happening right now and always will be because it gives you the feeling of hope. Hope that you are connected to others when you love the same song. Hope that propaganda has not brainwashed everyone when lyrics speak to your heart and not the local news, hope that we are not united under the false pretense of nationalism but united in an unexplained feeling swaying at a club to the same song. The community has responded like we always do, with more music.

On a personal note, I’m feeling very creative because that is how I process stress, depression, uneasy feelings I can’t explain. It’s interesting how we all respond differently. Some of the most creative and talented people I know can’t even look at an instrument and others text me daily with the excitement of a new idea or riff. As long as we listen to what our mind and bodies want, and tell social norms to go fuck themselves, then we’ll emotionally survive a pandemic.

JPL: We are the soundtrack of this crisis. I’ve enjoyed watching all the live streams. It’s a great time to get weird.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

SM: Right now someone you know is suffering because they can’t pay their bills or because they are really lonely, try to think of who that is and help them.

JPL: Find your tribe and keep them alive. It’s a once-in-a-century plague event. Enjoy it.

JM: As a band, we most probably won’t be playing any shows in a long time… but as friends, we are lifers. We three are lucky and hope others have the same.

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Days of Rona: Mike Vitali of Magnetic Eye Records & Black Electric

Posted in Features on April 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

mike vitali

Days of Rona: Mike Vitali of Magnetic Eye Records & Black Electric (Voorheesville, New York)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Well, in terms of Black Electric everyone is doing okay. Same goes for the Magnetic Eye Records crew – so far, so good. Everything has definitely had to be reworked for my and the band and of course for the label also. The news went out yesterday that as of January 1, 2020 MER has become part of Prophecy Productions and SPKR. Obviously everything was in a state of change due to that and we had a massive year planned for Magnetic Eye.

All the label releases and plans are still on track and moving forward however COVID-19 has certainly caused greater delays and just made everything we were working on more challenging. We are making good progress and are still looking forward to a very big year for the label.

In terms of Black Electric, we had just been finishing a second record and Mike Langone and I had just established a very strong live band working with old friends from Ironweed and Great Day for Up. So at the start of the new year we had these great rehearsals and we were psyched to start booking for 2020 and 2021. My wife and I also just had another baby on March 23rd. With the way my year looked I wanted to lay low until May or June so at the start of the year we had all this momentum and energy and then the virus came and placed everything on hold.

Anyway, with the state of everything being so uncertain I recently started going down into my basement recording just for fun and letting the material I am working on live on a Bandcamp page under my own name. I don’t know, I really just want to jam and travel so I figure I might as well keep busy on my own while I wait to reconnect with Black Electric and others.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Well, I work for New York State and I live just outside the capital, we are under a total lockdown. My family and I had all been getting sick repeatedly since February so we have taken quarantine and staying at home very seriously. Especially with my wife pregnant at the time also, we have been home for over 50 days now. I am sure parts of NYS will start lifting restrictions soon and we will all start to live in the new world that has been thrust upon us.

DOOM.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

Well, at first everyone rallied and local radio and press was reaching out to a lot of local musicians, myself included. They did profiles and promoted the local art scene and then a few days later many layoffs hit in the local arts and entertainment community. When that happened I think the depression and hard feelings set in more. The realities. Who knows
who knows how long or what the impact will be.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

Well, I guess above all I would want to encourage everyone to take good care of themselves and those around them. The impact of this virus to me and those around me without really getting specifics is enormous. My plan is continue to make my family’s wellbeing my sole priority while of course still playing and loving music all day, every day.

https://mikevitali.bandcamp.com/album/homegrown-session-vol-1
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Days of Rona: Stefanie Zaenker of Caustic Casanova

Posted in Features on April 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

caustic casanova stefanie zaenker

Days of Rona: Stefanie Zaenker of Caustic Casanova & 9:30 Club (Washington, D.C.)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

I find it hard to believe that this crisis hasn’t affected every single working band, at least in some way. We are very fortunate to have not had any tours or shows to cancel. We basically toured non-stop from last summer until Thanksgiving on our newest Magnetic Eye Records release, God How I Envy the Deaf (Oct 2019), so luckily we had some time to get out there and put it into people’s hands. I truly feel for the bands who’ve put out new releases early in 2020 and can’t tour on them now. It’s doubly sad that bands (ourselves included) can’t really know when to plan a tour this year because of the uncertainty surrounding COVID’s timeline. Healthwise we are all doing well, thankfully. All of us understand the gravity of this crisis and the need for social distancing and a dramatic reworking of personal habits. Francis and I have spent a lot of this extra free time working on new music together, doing some double drumming in our practice space (maybe you’ve seen some of the videos!), and trying to keep up with CC social media daily.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Right now the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia) is lagging behind some of the hotspot states in terms of cases and deaths, but the numbers are expected to grow substantially in the next couple weeks. Governors Larry Hogan (MD) and Ralph Northam (VA), and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser have all enacted strict restrictions on social gatherings, closed non-essential businesses, and issued stern stay-at-home orders. I think exercising outside alone and going to grocery stores/pharmacies, gas stations, or to get healthcare are the only allowable societal activities. The only human contact I’ve had outside of seeing Francis and his mom are my weekly grocery runs. The last time I went was a week ago and I felt like I was preparing for battle while walking in like, “Okay, do I have my hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes? Don’t touch your face. Stay away from other people. Only touch the things you need. Hurry up!” It was an extremely bizarre feeling while doing something as mundane as grocery shopping.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

The biggest takeaway for me has been how much of the local, no, global economy relies on the service industry (this includes any service that can be provided at a cost like AirBnB, not just restaurants, bars, and music venues). It has sent the whole world into an economic panic and has obviously put SO many people out of work, myself included. I bartend at a music venue in DC, the 9:30 Club, and we’ve been closed since March 13th. The earliest possible date shows can begin according to DC’s CDC guidelines is April 27th, but I find that highly doubtful and expect something more like May 15th or June 1st. The closure of a music venue impacts so many different people from door staffers and bartenders, to the performers and their crew, local promoters, venue operators, and of course the patrons too. It’s overwhelming to think about how many different people and industries this has affected. At least we’re all in it together. I’ve seen a lot of local restaurants and organizations step up to provide essential services to those in need. I also particularly empathize with all of my friends who are stuck working from home with their kids out of school. Family time is great, but I can’t even imagine what trying to get a full day’s work done while having to school, feed, and entertain your kids is like. Mad props! Regarding the general community I think for the most part people are taking it seriously (evidenced by the fact that everyone seems to be giving me at least six feet every time I pass them on a walk or run). But there are always the dummies hosting 60-plus people at bonfire parties (true story from MD — man got arrested yesterday). Some people are a lost cause and can’t understand the importance of public health or long term consequences vs. short term pleasure. I think the point is mostly that we all need a couple glasses of wine or a nice bath — inside.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

Caustic Casanova doesn’t rely on the band as a primary source of income — all of us have other jobs (but currently two of us are out of work). We do make a lot of our band income touring and that’s impossible for the foreseeable future so it does actually impact us. That being said, so many bands in our scene at or above our level do rely on touring, merch sales, shows, etc., to survive. Please consider buying the music and merch from your favorite DIY bands, and spreading the word. These are uncertain times. No one knows what the musical landscape will look like two, six, or 12 months from now. I’d love to be able to book a CC tour but there’s no point right now being unsure when shows will resume as normal. Remember live shows?! We do plan to be as active as possible in 2020 so we’ll see how that shapes up! Regarding COVID-19 — Please, please, please do your part to curb transmission and listen to your local authorities. Play more music. Love you guys.

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2019

Posted in Features on December 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk best of 2019

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Make no mistake, my friends. 2019 was the year it went off the rails.

Every 12-month period brings a lot of records, and they all seem overwhelming, but this was the first year I’ve ever felt quite so helpless when it came time to sit down and actually make my list. Of course, I keep running notes all year long, but even so, ordering everything, bringing it all together? What a mess.

I almost thought of breaking it down into smaller lists in addition to the big one, subgrouped by style. But then, where does doom end and sludge begin? What about psych and heavy rock? Should prog get its own list? And what the hell counts as prog?

In the end, that didn’t seem like it would be doing me any favors, so we’ll stick with the one big list and then others for debut releases and another for EPs, splits, demos and so on. You know, the usual.

Pretty sure I say this every year too, but it bears repeating: if you read any of the below — and thanks if you do — and have a response, be nice. If I’ve forgotten something — and yes, I have; I’m sure of it — that you think needs to be included, and you want to leave a comment that says so, please, by all means. But keep it civil. I know people are passionate about this stuff and so am I, but consider there are probably over 200 offerings covered here by the time you get through all the lists and honorable mentions, and I’m one person. I’m doing my best, and though I try not to, I tend to take being called a dumbass personally. So yeah, chill out and please be constructive in calling me a dumbass. Words matter.

A few hard choices here, most especially for album of the year. I was back and forth with each of the top three in the top spot for a good long while, and it might change again between now and when this post goes up. But it’s been that kind of year. In 2018, there was no question. It was Sleep all the way. The question was what came after that. This year has been different without that kind of duh, punch-in-the-face obvious pick. Relative parity isn’t a bad thing though.

Enough delay. The usual parameters apply. These are a combo of my personal listening habits and what I think are the most important records/achievements of the year, critical importance, etc.

Here we go:

The Top 50 Albums of 2019

#50-31

50. Hazemaze, Hymns of the Damned
49. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
48. Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Grandmother
47. PH, Osiris Hayden
46. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
45. Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light
44. Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport
43. Swallow the Sun, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light
42. Caustic Casanova, God How I Envy the Deaf
41. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Tre
40. SÂVER, They Came With Sunlight
39. Ogre, Thrice as Strong
38. Lamp of the Universe, Align in the Fourth Dimension
37. Vokonis, Grasping Time
36. Sacri Monti, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour
35. Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds
34. Duel, Valley of Shadows
33. Orodruin, Ruins of Eternity
32. Zaum, Divination
31. Inter Arma, Sulphur English

Notes: Honestly, if this had been the top 20 of the year, I’d still call 2019 a win. Aside from the fact that I somehow thought Caustic Casanova would enjoy coming in a number 42, the sheer quality of this stuff should tell you what kind of year 2019 was. Inter Arma’s Sulphur English was a significant achievement in genre melding, and Orodruin’s return after more than a decade since their last LP was a masterclass in doom worship. Debut albums from SÂVER and Thunderbird Divine and Lightning Born showed marked promise of things to come — and there’s more on them below as well — while Zaum’s, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree’s and Lamp of the Universe’s meditations, Vokonis’ noise, Abrahma’s emotive progressivisim, Swallow the Sun’s melodic melancholy, Sacri Monti’s boogie, and whatever the hell PH were doing on Osiris Hayden remind just how much the word “heavy” can encompass. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Duel and Uffe Lorenzen and Hazemaze were musts here, and Ogre are perennial favorites whose work always brings a doomly grin. Don’t sleep on any of it.

30. Sun Blood Stories, Haunt Yourself

sun blood stories haunt yourself

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 6.

Until they put out a complementary follow-up record of such fare, one might’ve accused Idaho three-piece Sun Blood Stories of becoming less experimentalist/droned-out/noisy on Haunt Yourself, but they seem to have met their quota one way or the other with the Oct. 2019 advent of Static Sessions Vol. 1. Still, it’s melody, heavy post-rock/psychedelic drift and emotive soul that rule the day on the crushing and enriching Haunt Yourself, and no complaints from me on that.

29. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Everybody’s Going to Die

Church of the Cosmic Skull Everybodys Going to Die

Released by Septaphonic Records. Reviewed Dec. 10.

I don’t have to do anything more than read the name of the album to have the chorus of the title-track stuck in my head, and it’s a reminder that although the Nottingham troupe put so much into their progressive style and vocal harmonies and arrangements, and a more conceptual theme in the case of Everybody’s Going to Die — their answer to 2018’s excellent Science Fiction (review here) — their roots are in songcraft, and it’s the foundation of songcraft that lets them soar. Would be higher on the list if it weren’t so new.

28. Devil to Pay, Forever, Never or Whenever

devil to pay forever never or whenever

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 4.

With their sixth album, Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay collect 10 tracks of unpretentious-almost-to-a-fault of straightforward heavy rock songwriting that continues to be woefully underappreciated. They have become utterly reliable in that regard — you know, to a certain extent, what’s coming — but the vocals of guitarist Steve Janiak (also Apostle of Solitude) and some more metallic turns to the riffing give Forever, Never or Whenever a subtlety that holds up all the more on repeat visits. I don’t know if Devil to Pay will ever get their due, but suffice it to say, they’re due.

27. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds

howling giant the space between worlds

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Oct. 11.

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when the first Playstation came out and everyone looked around at their Nintendos and Segas like, “What the hell am I messing around with Mario Golf for? I could be playing Resident Evil!” That’s kind of what Howling Giant are as compared to “regular” rock bands. They’re the Playstation of heavy: that next progressive step forward carrying an inhuman amount of swagger and personality while still delivering a stepped-up product from their would-be peers. The scariest thing about The Space Between Worlds is it’s their first LP. One looks forward to the next generation.

26. Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus

saint vitus saint vitus

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed March 19.

I know for a fact that bassist Pat Bruders and drummer Henry Vasquez had a hand in writing some of the material on Saint Vitus’ second self-titled LP, and yet the album so much bears the indelible mark of guitarist Dave Chandler that it’s hard not to think of it all as his. The album marked their first release with original singer Scott Reagers since 1995’s Die Healing (discussed here) and featured among their trademark low-tuned slog, an actual punk song, which showed the grinning glee that underlies all they do. Four decades on, Saint Vitus sound like they’re having fun. How is that not a win?

25. Ealdor Bealu, Spirit of the Lonely Places

ealdor bealu spirit of the lonely places

Self-released. Reviewed July 10.

Woodsy Rocky Mountain psychedelia abounded on Boise foursome Ealdor Bealu’s second full-length, and their blend of landscape meditations and grounded heavy progressive melodicism made Spirit of the Lonely Places as much about impact as about space, though of course the real joy was the experience of the entirety. Very much a sophomore album, it learned lessons from 2017’s Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain (review here) that one only hopes the band will continue to push forward in scope as they so gracefully did here.

24. Yatra, Death Ritual

yatra death ritual

Released through Grimoire Records. Discussed Nov. 13, 2018..

Though hard- and to-date quick-working Maryland trio Yatra have already moved on and are looking ahead to releasing their second album, Blood of the Night (review here), their Grimoire-delivered debut, Death Ritual, is impossible to ignore for the impact it had on reminding listeners of the impact that primeval extreme sludge can have. Another couple tours and some bigger label — Relapse, Prosthetic, eOne, Season of Mist, whoever — will decide they’re “ready,” whatever that means, and then sign them and I won’t be cool enough to do track premieres for them anymore, but as far as accolades go, Yatra earn whatever they get and Death Ritual stands among 2019’s most landmark debuts. They’ve already outdone it, but it’s a stunner just the same.

23. Ecstatic Vision, For the Masses

ecstatic vision for the masses

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 17.

Ecstatic Vision frontman Doug Sabolik has cast himself in the mold of Arthur Brown or Dave Wyndorf or probably seven or eight dudes who were in Hawkwind at some point as a manic-but-stoned space rock preacher with as he and his band behind him plunge headfirst-or-feetfirst-it-doesn’t-matter-because-your-body-is-an-illusion-man into the molten multicolor void. For the Masses. The ‘masses,’ such as they are, should be so lucky, but the double-meaning is the real tell for where the Philly unit are coming from. Their shows are the masses — gatherings of spirit and song to give praise to the willful expansion of mind. If you can’t get behind that, you might as well go get a job or something. This ain’t no lightweight party for squares and dabblers. This is a high-potency happening for werewolves on motorcycles and freaks of all stripes. Get weird stay weird. Ecstatic Vision are one mostly-mellow 15-minute “Spine of God”-style psych-epic away from perfection.

22. Beastwars, IV

beastwars iv

Released by Destroy Records. Reviewed June 27.

But for the circumstances that brought it about — i.e. Beastwars vocalist Matt Hyde’s cancer — the unexpected fourth installment in the Beastwars trilogy was nothing if not welcome. An grand-feeling sense of largesse was nothing new to the New Zealand four-piece, but after breaking up and getting back together to make the album, the grim sincerity with which they presented this exploration of mortality and betrayal by one’s own body was no less palpable than the undulating riffs that threatened, as ever, to consume all in their path. I don’t know their future plans in terms of continuing to write and/or record, but there are reports of touring beyond Aus/NZ for 2020, so one way or another, stay tuned for more from them. Whether or not they do anything else, IV was a triumph in spirit and execution.

21. Eternal Black, Slow Burn Suicide

eternal black slow burn suicide

Self-released. Reviewed June 7.

With the nine songs of Slow Burn Suicide, Brooklyn’s Eternal Black began to unveil the true depth of their project. Their 2017 debut, Bleed the Days (review here), was well received, and rightly so, but operated more in a straight-ahead doom sphere. The second outing, by contrast, delved into a particular vision of the style informed by the crunch of peak-era New York noise and crossover hardcore, and it succeeded not just because it did this, but because it did so around a conjuration of memorable riffs and tracks building on accomplishments carried over from its predecessor. Is this an awaited arrival of next-generation ‘New York doom’? Will theirs be a blueprint others will follow? It’s impossible to know now, and their next album will be telling either way, but the course they’ve set is significant.

20. Candlemass, The Door to Doom

candlemass the door to doom

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 22.

It may have been the Tony Iommi guest appearance that got Swedish doom legends Candlemass — the world’s earliest and foremost purveyors of doom both classic and epic — their recent Grammy nomination, but it was the long-overdue reunion with original vocalist Johan LĂ€ngquist that made the album as a whole as powerful as it was. Pairing LĂ€ngquist’s theatrical and vital approach with founding bassist Leif Edling’s second-to-none doomcraft, The Door to Doom was a catapult not to the bygone days of the band’s landmark debut, 1986’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, but an inspired look at not just what might’ve been had LĂ€ngquist remained with the band longer, but what might still be if he does this time around. Candlemass have been through their share of singers, but as fresh as The Door to Doom sounded, it’s hard not to hope for something more than a one-off with he who got there first. The songs, the spirit, the sheer heart poured into Candlemass’ doom some 35 years past the band’s start only emphasizes how special they have always been.

19. Nebula, Holy Shit

nebula holy shit

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed June 13.

Anyone who might’ve predicted Nebula getting into the studio and making a new album was either in the room when it happened or talking out their ass. And speaking of, was Nebula’s Holy Shit named for the shock one might’ve felt at its existence, or the surprise at how good it actually sounded when you put it on? I don’t know. I probably won’t ever know. It was the best title I saw all year, but more than that, it was a Nebula record, fueled by the classic riffing and unmitigated desert punk soul of founding/guitarist Eddie Glass, whose absence from the heavy underground for the last decade left a void only too many others whiffed on filling. Holy Shit showed just how singular a player Glass was and is, and how much character there is in his style, particularly in solos, but also in rhythmic changes, and so on. I won’t discount the work of bassist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster in making Nebula what they are in this incarnation — they’re essential, obviously — but there’s simply no denying that presence at the band’s core.

18. Valley of the Sun, Old Gods

valley of the sun old gods

Released by Fuzzorama Records. Reviewed May 21.

This was a heavy rock record that had everything. Everything. It had songs, style, ups, down, purples, greens, ins, outs, all kinds of whathaveyou. Riffs forever. Valley of the Sun should keep their eyes on Sasquatch, because if they want it, that path is theirs. I know the Cincinnati outfit have had trouble keeping lineups together, but if they can hold onto one, and maybe after their next record start touring more, domestically and abroad — not at all a minor ask, I know — then people will catch on. Old Gods is evidence of the fact that they genuinely have something to offer, and frankly, it’s not at all the first such effective case they’ve made in their career. But they’ve never put anything out that wasn’t a step forward, and yet they’ve never lost sight of the roots of their initial inspiration. And they’ve never sacrificed the song for the riff, which so many do. They’ve only ever gotten better. Let Old Gods be a step toward them getting attention they’ve long since deserved.

17. Kadavar, For the Dead Travel Fast

Kadavar For the Dead Travel Fast

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 28.

In style and production, For the Dead Travel Fast is the most vintage-sounding offering Berlin trio Kadavar have made in over a half decade, yet neither is it looking backward wistfully toward 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) or giving up the modern clarity of 2017’s Rough Times (review here) or 2015’s Berlin (review here). Instead, it strikes a balance with a more sinister edge Ă  la Uncle Acid in songs like “Children of the Night” and “Demons in My Mind” — both singles — and makes a home for itself between proto-metal and garage doom. Whatever genre tag you want to give it — and that might vary from track to track, mind you — it’s unmistakably Kadavar, with the signature hooks and memorable craftsmanship that have made them one of the decade’s most pivotal heavy bands. The real challenge at this point in their career is not to take for granted that Kadavar will produce material of such quality, because, frankly, that’s all they’ve ever done.

16. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Yn Ol I Annwn

mammoth weed wizard bastard yn ol i annwn

Released by New Heavy Sounds. Reviewed Feb. 7.

Welsh sci-fi cosmic doomers Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard billed Yn Ol I Annwn as the final installment of a trilogy that includes their two prior LPs, 2015’s Noeth Ac Anoeth (review here) and 2016’s Y Proffwyd Dwyll (review here), and while that may be true thematically, there’s also no question the third is a marked step forward from anything they’ve done before. They’re one foot out of the airlock and into space as their synth-laden longform riffing and melodies take them to places they’ve not yet gone, explorations of sight as much as sound, aural translation of colors humans aren’t gifted to see. Their songs across the 65-minute span unfold with the grace of a gravity spiral, pulling the listener deeper into the proceedings with each new phase that emerges until, what, obliteration? Stellar genesis? I’m not sure. They’ve reportedly got one more record to make and then they’re done. If that’s true, they’ll be missed then they’re gone.

15. Magic Circle, Departed Souls

magic circle departed souls

Released by 20 Buck Spin. Reviewed April 3.

They’ve found their way to die, and it’s upon an altar of classic metal and doom. And honestly, they make a pretty good case for it. Departed Souls is the third full-length from the Boston unit and their most stylistically realized work yet, with vocalist Brendan Radigan giving a standout performance alongside the guitars of Chris Corry and Renato Montenegro, the bass of Justin DeTore and Michael “Q” Quartulli’s drums, as the entire band taps into vibes from mid-’70s Black Sabbath and brings them to bear with an energy that is unlike anything in Magic Circle’s history. 2015’s Journey Blind (review here) brought in NWOBHM flash in the guitar work, sure enough, but Departed Souls doesn’t so much carry the torch of classic metal as it does use it to burn down the whole village and rebuild it in the five-piece’s image. From their doomed beginnings on their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) to now, they’re an act who’ve genuinely earned cult status. If you can find a backpatch, buy it.

14. Spaceslug, Reign of the Orion

Spaceslug Reign of the Orion cover

Released by BSFD Records. Reviewed Nov. 22.

Controversy! Drama! Well, probably not, but at very least some respectful disagreement on my part. You see, Poland’s Spaceslug have stated publicly that their latest release, the late-2019 surprise Reign of the Orion is an EP. Their albums regularly top 50 minutes, and at 36 minutes, I guess relative to that, you can see where they’re coming from. However, with the flow of these five songs and the ease with which they carry the listener from front-to-back through the listening experience, I’m sticking to my guns and calling Reign of the Orion an album. Sorry guys. True, it’s shorter than the other full-lengths, but it’s got everything you could ask an album to have in terms of how tracks like “Spacerunner” and the shouty “Half-Moon Burns” play into each other, and the fluidity of the outing on the whole is inarguable. An LP by any other name? Whatever you or they want to call it, there’s no question in my mind Reign of the Orion is one of 2019’s best records. If they insist on it being an EP, then it’s the best one of the year, but I still say it belongs in another category altogether, so here it is.

13. Green Lung, Woodland Rites

green lung woodland rites

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed Jan. 28.

As hyper-crowded as London is with bands at this moment in history, there continue to be acts who sneak through with an individualized and intriguing perspective on doom and heavy rock, and Green Lung are a perfect example, learning from fellow Brits like Alunah and Elephant Tree and incorporating folk and forest goth vibes to their debut album, Woodland Rites. Laced with organ and stuck-in-the-head choruses like “Let the Devil In” and the creeper “Templar Dawn,” the record also pushed into drifting verses on “Into the Wild,” setting up future experimentation with atmospheric variety and genre manipulation. If part of any first album’s appeal is the potential it represents, Green Lung’s offers plenty, but wherever their subsequent course may or may not take them, their accomplishments here shouldn’t be overlooked. Woodland Rites is nothing less than the heavy rock debut album of the year, and though they emerge from a packed field, the work they do to stand themselves out already carries their mark and an apparent will toward progression. They’re on their way.

12. Lo-Pan, Subtle

lo-pan subtle

Released by Aqualamb Records. Reviewed May 9.

My head immediately goes to the hooks of “Ten Days” and “Ascension Day” and “Savage Heart,” but the up-down surges of guitar in “Old News/New Fire” and the midtempo soulfulness in “A Thousand Miles” are no less resonant when it comes to the actual listening experience of the fifth Lo-Pan LP. Subtle, when it came to living up to its name, as much wasn’t as it was. Flourishes of harmony in the vocals of Jeff Martin, the pops in Jesse Bartz’s snare punctuating and propelling in kind, turns in Scott Thompson’s bass work twisting around the guitar of Chris Thompson, a relative newcomer to the fold making his debut with the band and showing no apparent trouble fitting in. I don’t imagine Lo-Pan is an easy band to join, especially at this point. They thrive on personality clash and, through years of touring, have a chemistry they’ve built between them that comes through even on their recordings. Nonetheless, Subtle is their clearest, sharpest-edged work yet, and as tight as their songwriting has become, they still groove and groove mightily. They are a treasure of American heavy rock and roll. Believe it.

11. Roadsaw, Tinnitus the Night

roadsaw tinnitus the night

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 12.

While members of Roadsaw have spent the intervening years in projects like Kind, White Dynomite, Sasquatch and Murcielago, the Boston heavy rock kingpins have indeed been missed, and Tinnitus the Night works quickly to show why. It’s been well over 20 years since their first LP — hell, it’s been eight since they put out their 2011 self-titled (review here) — but their craft is at its own level, and Tinnitus the Night comes barreling through with “Shake” and “Along for the Ride” and “Final Phase” before opening up to broader fare on side B with “Find What You Need,” “Under the Devil’s Thumb” and “Midazolam” ahead of the subdued finale “Silence,” and the result is nothing less than a classic heavy rock LP structure as befitting what is itself a classic heavy rock LP. What’s Roadsaw’s future? I don’t know. It took them the better part of a decade to make this one happen, so take from that what you will, but to me, all it says is there’s even more reason to be grateful they got it done and out. To say the songs deserve that is putting it mildly.

10. Worshipper, Light in the Wire

worshipper light in the wire

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed April 24.

I’m not doing a ‘song of the year’ post, but if I was, Worshipper’s “Coming Through” might be it. The opening track from the Boston four-piece’s second album, Light in the Wire, marries classic pop drama in its melody with careening progressive riffing, and sets the tone for a record that is of both future and past, twistingly complex and yet immediately accessible, immersive as an entirety and still comprised of standout moments. These aren’t contradictions in Worshipper’s skillful hands, but the stuff of what’s already becoming their own take on rock. Tied together through melody, skillful rhythmic intricacy and solid structural foundations, “Light in the Wires,” “Visions from Beyond,” “Wither on the Vine” and others throughout post their own triumphs en route to enhancing the album as a whole, while “Nobody Else” and closer “Arise” underscore the emotive basis from which the perspective of the whole LP emanates. There are a lot of “next-gen” heavy rock bands out there weaving prog elements and traditional riffing together to some degree or other. Few, if any, can write a song like Worshipper can. I mean it. This band is something special.

9. Solace, The Brink

solace the brink

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Nov. 21.

What is there to say about Solace? A band who, nine years after revealing the expectation-slaughtering masterpiece A.D. (review here), return with three-fifths of a swapped-out lineup and simply do it again? This band is explosive. Really. Like, they might explode at any minute. It’s a miracle The Brink ever happened. I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. But Solace are a force like nothing else I’ve ever encountered in music. They take metallic aggression, hardcore’s sense of self-righteousness and heavy rock’s groove, set it all to a doomly swing and they play it in such a way as to leave you utterly dumbfounded by what you just experienced. Here’s a challenge though, for the band personally. From me to them. Do another one. Go ahead. Put out another album. You don’t even have to do it in 2020. Do it 2021. Write the songs and give me a no-holds-barred 45-minute LP of the tightest, meanest shit you’ve ever written. Because massive as the accomplishments are on The Brink, it’s the potential to build from them that resonates most here. So do it, guys. Step up and take advantage of the moment. Call me greedy if you want, I don’t care. Give me another Solace record. I dare you.

8. Brume, Rabbits

brume rabbits

Released by Doom Stew Records & DHU Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

Simply a case of a band wildly outdoing themselves. Easy story, yeah? In some ways, maybe, but the truth of what Brume achieve on Rabbits. Their second long-player behind 2017’s Rooster (review here), the five-track offering sees the San Francisco three-piece of vocalist/bassist Susie McMullan, guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie and drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis working with producer Billy Anderson to bring theatricality and emotionalism together in a flowing post-heavy context that’s neither derivative nor working at cross purposes. Instead, it is a gorgeous and blooming undertaking across its 43-minute span, working in its own light/dark spectrum and bringing not just the sense of trapped fragility evoked by the cover art, but a corresponding sureness of intent to its ascendant heavy surges. Like Rooster before it, it is loaded with potential, but in “Scurry” and “Lament” and “Despondence” and “Blue Jay and “Autocrat’s Fool,” there’s a patience and command that absolutely does not waver. So yes, a band outdoing themselves. But so much more too.

7. Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal

mars red sky the task eternal

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed Sept. 20.

This may forever be known as the Mars Red Sky album they wrote in a cave, but the Bordeaux three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras and bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau nonetheless plunged forward along the progressive course they charted back on 2014’s sophomore outing, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), and continued to manifest in 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here). Their blend of melody and tonal heft has become a hallmark of their work to this stage in their career, but The Task Eternal continues to add a sense of breadth to the proceedings, giving their sound a full three-dimensional pull that feels tailor-made for headphones and is consuming in its entirety. With experiments in structure like the pairing of “Recast” and “Reacts,” and the rushing sweep of melody in “Hollow King,” Mars Red Sky’s latest is, as ever, their finest. Outdoing themselves would seem to be the task from which the record derives its title. Fine. Just keep going. Please.

6. Kings Destroy, Fantasma Nera

Kings Destroy Fantasma Nera

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 15.

Every time I think I understand where Kings Destroy want to go as a band, they pull the rug out. That’s what Fantasma Nera is. After their 2015 self-titled (review here) third LP seemed to declare them once and for all in a space between doom and noise rooted in their respective hardcore pasts, the Brooklynite five-piece hooked up with producer David Bottrill (Tool, etc.) and composed a rock album. A real live rock album! With progressive undertones in the guitar work and the most accomplished melodicism of their career, Kings Destroy put everything they had into making Fantasma Nera and one need look no further than the title-track to hear the result of that monumental effort. It is the realization of a band challenging themselves to go so far out of their comfort zone as to be only recognizable in the most rudimentary of ways, and to say it as plainly as I can, “Dead Before” on its own is enough of an accomplishment — and enough of a full-length, at all of 4:25 — to make this list on its own, whatever surrounds it. Song of the year. I’ll say every time I’m a Kings Destroy fan, but I’ve never been gladder to say it than I am in talking about Fantasma Nera.

5. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Dec. 3.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Ah come on, Colour Haze are always on the list when they put out records,” I have two answers. One, you’re right, and two, if you have a problem with that, blow it out your ass. The Munich forefathers of the European heavy psychedelic underground — yup — marked their 25th anniversary this year, and did so not just by putting out an album, but by putting out We Are, which introduces a full-fledged fourth member to what’s been a three-piece since 1998. Granted, it’s not the first time guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald have worked with organist/keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender, but never has the presence of keys been so integral to their work, and never has the dynamic between players shifted in the way it does on tracks like “The Real” and “Life” and “I’m With You,” with keys fleshing out melodies and enriching the bass and guitar. Add to that the Spanish-style guitar on centerpiece “Material Drive” or the operatic flash in the penultimate “Be With Me,” and it’s one more example of one of the best bands on earth refusing to rest on their laurels. Which, as it happens, is why they’re one of the best bands on earth. So hell yes, they’re on all my lists. Fact is my lists are lucky to have them.

4. Blackwater Holylight, Veils of Winter

blackwater holylight veils of winter

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Sept. 26.

Like nothing else I heard in 2019, Veils of Winter had repeat listenability. It was the album that, most often, when I was choosing something I actually wanted to hear, I went back to time and again. Its dark, moody psychedelic and heavy vibe stands alone among the year’s releases, and is a stylistic milestone that one only hopes other artists will pick up on. Toying with pop melodies on tracks like “Death Realms” and bringing hypnosis and clarity in kind to the subtly traditionalist winding riff of “Moonlit” — would it have been out of place on the first Witchcraft LP? — the Portland, Oregon, five-piece worked on a speedy turnaround and squashed even the significant expectations I had after their self-titled debut (review here) last year. They’ve begun to tour, so I don’t know if another full-length is in the works for 2020, but their craft is enviable in its flow and their songs are shimmering in tone and cohesion alike. Given how bold a step forward Veils of Winter is, I hear nothing in their material to this point to make me think their momentum won’t continue to carry them forward. But, you know, if not, I’d also take about six or seven records just like this one. That’d be fine too. Whatever they want, really.

3. Slomatics, Canyons

Slomatics Canyons

Released by Black Bow Records. Reviewed May 15.

Belfast, Northern Ireland, three-piece Slomatics — guitarists David Marjury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey — finished a narrative trilogy with 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), and though the storyline was always vague throughout that and the preceding two offerings, the question of how they would proceed nonetheless hung over Canyons prior to its release. The answer is in the songs themselves. From the sci-fi majesty of lumbering, rolling groove in opener and longest track “Gears of Despair” — oh, they grind — through the mega-stomp of “Telemachus, My Son” and the righteously synth-laden wash that consumes “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” Slomatics bring together concept and execution with a readiness that highlights the fact of their 15th anniversary. They are mature in their approach, yes, but the fact is their approach is so much their own and so given to their particular mode of progression that it almost can’t help but feel fresh. How could something so utterly crushing also feel rejuvenating? As they plod through finale “Organic Caverns II” ending with more waves of synth and tectonic guitar — no bass, remember — they are as restorative as they are punishing, and they stand astride that duality with neither mercy nor pretense. Canyons, whether it’s setting up a new story, building from the old, or doing something completely different, stands on its own.

2. Year of the Cobra, Ash and Dust

year of the cobra ash and dust

Released by Prophecy Productions. Reviewed Oct. 24.

My anticipation for and expectations of Year of the Cobra’s second long-player were high most especially after 2017’s Burn Your Dead EP (review here), which along with the dead, set alight the notion that the Seattle duo of bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith were simply a heavy/doom band. With elements of post-punk, psych wash, minimalist stretches and propulsive gallop, Ash and Dust cast itself out over an aesthetic range that set a new standard not just for Year of the Cobra, but for anyone who’d dare match them at their own game — and that list will grow with time, absolutely. As their first outing through Prophecy Productions, Ash and Dust threw itself into the very melting pot of its own ambition and emerged with songs that didn’t just bring together disparate ideas, but made them flourish and engage and challenge the listener while still proving consistent in tone and underlying groove. For a two-person, two-instrument outfit (not counting voice, though I should), they proved more malleable than many with more than twice the number of hands on deck, and pushed the notion of what heavy rock is and does forward without stopping to look back or ask for permission. They just did it, and maybe Ash and Dust is the aftermath of all that burning.

2019 Album of the Year

1. Monolord, No Comfort

monolord no comfort

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Look back over the course of this list, and you will find no shortage of bands and releases that surpassed the group in question’s past work. With Gothenburg, Sweden’s Monolord, it wasn’t just about No Comfort — their debut on Relapse, fourth full-length overall — being better than 2017’s Rust (review here), because that was pretty jolly gosh darn enjoyable, but about the band reaching a moment of transcendence to which Rust and all their prior work across 2015’s VĂŠnir (review here) and 2014’s Empress Rising has been leading. With the six tracks of No Comfort, guitarist/vocalist Thomas JĂ€ger, bassist Mika HĂ€kki and drummer Esben Willems not only overcome the influences that launched them — taking full ownership of their sound and defending that claim with the sheer quality of their songwriting — and they not only become as identifiable as those influences themselves, but they overcome themselves. No Comfort means no comfort. Monolord take the simplicity that once fueled their riffing, the willful primitivism of their earliest work, and with songs like “Larvae” and “The Bastard Son” and the closing title-track use it as the foundation it was apparently always intended to be. Monolord have toured plenty and certainly their studio output has shown an increasing complexity from one LP to the next, so progression isn’t unexpected, but the manner in which Monolord have executed that progression has been. Even on “The Last Leaf,” which is arguably the most straightforward fare on the album, one hears it as them rather than the manifestation of the acts that inspired them. The same holds for “Skywards” later on, and for the immersion that takes hold as the mournful “Alone Together” plays into “No Comfort” itself. Monolord take their place among the best bands on the planet, and deliver an Album of the Year for 2019 that, like the absolute best, will have an impact lasting much longer than any period of 12 months might convey.

The Top 50 Albums of 2019: Honorable Mention

You didn’t think we’d stop at 50, did you? Come on. You know me better than that. The fact is that the list itself, humongous as it is, is just the start of the tip of an iceberg attached to a glacier that’s somewhere on an entire planet constructed of ice.

Honorable mentions, you say? Yeah, a few. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

Lord Vicar, Goatess, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Zone Six, Lykantropi, Earth, White Manna, Atala, Tia Carrera, Merlin, WEEED, HĂ­brido, Cities of Mars, Stone Machine Electric, Bretus, Blackwolfgoat, The Black Wizards, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Alunah, V, Pale Grey Lore, Leeds Point, Sons of Alpha Centauri, Spidergawd, Bus, Death Hawks, BBF, Vessel of Light, Crypt Trip, The Pilgrim, Uffe Lorenzen, Brant Bjork, Doomstress, Black Lung, Kandodo3, Monkey3, Bask, Horseburner, Zed, Bright Curse, Spillage, Sigils, Papir, Dune Sea, Destroyer of Light, Mastiff, Warp, Centrum, Varego, Lord Dying, Volcano, Saint Karloff, Firebreather, High Reeper, Bible of the Devil, Obsidian Sea, Torche, Motorpsycho, Sunn O))), Deadbird, Russian Circles, El Supremo, Pyramidal, Holy Serpent, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Demon Head, Red Beard Wall, Onhou, Kamchatka, Iguana, Arrowhead, The Whims of the Great Magnet, Serial Hawk, Scissorfight, Monte Luna, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Ruff Majik, The Giraffes, High Fighter, Comacozer, Burning Gloom, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Cable, AVER, Superlynx, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Old Mexico, Skraeckoedlan, Godsleep, Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle.

Seems cruel to leave it to you to sort through those, but I’m tempted to do just that. You might notice some bigger names there in bands like Earth, Russian Circles, Torche and Sunn O))). Nothing against those bands, but I think we’re seeing a moment where a different group of artists are taking point in terms of innovating heavy styles across an entire swath of microgenres. Either way it’s not a slight that something is here instead of above. And of course, there are plenty of up and coming groups here as well, with Ruff Majik, Elizabeth Colour Wheel — who I’m sure would be a top 30 if I knew the record better than I do — Pale Grey Lore, Monte Luna, Papir, Destroyer of Light, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Skraeckoedlan, and so on, but hell’s bells, there’s already a list of 50 and I’m only one man. How high is the list supposed to go and still be a list?

Bottom line: Music is as endless as space and has as much beauty in it for those willing to hear. Do more digging.

The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2019

green lung woodland rites

1. Green Lung, Woodland Rites
2. Yatra, Death Ritual
3. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds
4. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
5. SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight
6. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
7. Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo
8. The Pilgrim, Walking into the Forest
9. Sigils, You Build the Altar You Lit the Leaves
10. E-L-R, Maenad
11. Hey Zeus, X
12. Bellrope, You Must Relax
13. Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore
14. Thronehammer, Usurper of Oaken Throne
15. Inner Altar, Vol. III
16. Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember
17. Hippie Death Cult, 111
18. Faerie Ring, The Clearing
19. Gone Cosmic, Sideways in Time
20. Haze Mage, Chronicles

Honorable Mention: Warp, Pelegrin, Lucy in Blue, Volcano, The Sabbathian, Red Eye Tales, Dune Sea, Dury Dava, Pharlee, Giant Dwarf, Ghost:Hello, Surya, Workshed, Children of the SĂŒn, Burning Gloom, Temple of the Fuzz Witch.

Notes: As ever, I consider a band’s debut album something unique and separate from everything else they’ll ever do, and so worthy of highlighting in its own category. It’s a different standard in my mind, one that takes into account what a group might accomplish going forward as well as what they do on the record itself. Plus, putting out an album is hard. Getting two, three, four, five or more people to agree on anything is an accomplishment. Making a cohesive album? Come on. So yes. We see some crossover from the main list above, but I want to draw attention to Howling Giant, Thunderbird Divine and SÂVER particularly here. There’s a swath of genres represented and I feel like a couple of these releases — Sigils, Bellrope, Thronehammer, Inner Altar, Faerie Ring, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember — didn’t get their due attention. It’s a busy year, I get it. But if you’re skimming through looking for stuff to check out, DON’T IGNORE THIS LIST. Aside from whatever line about the best of tomorrow you want to trot out, there’s important work being done by these acts today. As somebody who’s constantly behind the times, I urge you not to

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2019

geezer spiral fires

1. Geezer, Spiral Fires
2. Ufomammut, XX
3. All Them Witches, 1×1
4. Mount Saturn, Mount Saturn
5. Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split
6. Horehound, Weight
7. Molasses, Mourning Haze
8. Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Split
9. Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon
10. The Golden Grass, 100 Arrows
11. Mount Atlas, Mistress
12. Midas, Solid Gold Heavy Metal
13. Glory in the Shadows, Glory in the Shadows
14. Hot Breath, Hot Breath
15. Crystal Spiders, Demo
16. Red Wizard, Ogami
17. Thermic Boogie, Fracture
18. Pinto Graham, Dos
19. High Priest, Sanctum
20. Set Fire, Traya
21. Seedium, Awake

Honorable Mention: Love Gang & Smokey Mirror Split, Forebode, Land Mammal, Very Paranoia, Plague of Carcosa, Daal Dazed, Komodor, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge Split, High on Fire, Mount Soma.

Notes: This is probably the least complete of the lists, because it’s the hardest category for me to keep up with. EPs, singles, demos, splits and basically anything else that isn’t an album, all lumped together. Still, I stand by the picks here, and I don’t think anyone who takes on any of them will regret doing so, whether it’s All Them Witches’ surprisingly weighted first single as a trio, Mount Saturn’s debut release, or Geezer’s cosmic jams. Felt a little like cheating putting Ufomammut on there, since technically XX wasn’t new material so much as reworked stuff captured live, but if you want to call me out on it, my own listening habits also factor in, and I’ve spent plenty of time with those reimagined tracks. But anyway, I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff that hasn’t been included here, so please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll work accordingly.

Postwax

I haven’t felt comfortable with the idea of writing about it editorially, since I’ve been involved in discussions about it since before it came together and since I did the liner notes for each of the six releases (plus one to come), but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work done on the Postwax vinyl subscription series by Blues Funeral Recordings. Label head Jadd Shickler and design specialist Peder Bergstrand (also of Lowrider) put together six offerings that came out in the span of this year and when you hold the LPs in your hand, you can feel the passion that went into making them, from the artists in question to those curating the series in the first place. I hear tell there’s going to be a Postwax Year Two, and I don’t know if I’ll be involved or not, but I’m proud of my miniscule part in the work that went into making these and wanted to bring them to your particular attention. They are something special for those who got to partake:

  • Elder, The Gold and Silver Sessions
  • Daxma, Ruins Upon Ruins
  • BesvĂ€rjelsen, Frost
  • Big Scenic Nowhere, Dying on the Mountain
  • Domkraft, Slow Fidelity
  • Lowrider, Refractions

And while we’re talking about projects I was proud to be involved with, I also did liner notes for Acrimony’s The Chronicles of Wode box set from Burning World Records and was honored to do so. Thanks to any and everyone in question for having me involved and dealing with me blowing past deadlines one after the next. It is humbling.

Looking Ahead to 2020

A few names and nothing more about what definitely is and/or might be in the works for next year. Woefully incomplete, so feel free to add to it:

1000mods, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deathwhite, Mondo Drag, Drug Cult, Ocean Chief, Soldati, Sergio Ch., Mitochondrial Sun, Geezer, Mirror Queen, Mondo Generator, The Otolith, Asteroid, Yatra, Vestal Claret, Farer, Ryte, Shadow Witch, Six Organs of Admittance, Naxatras, Wolftooth, Snail, Elder, Pale Divine, Grey Skies Fallen, Ruby the Hatchet, Yuri Gagarin, Sasquatch, Godthrymm, Wo Fat, Red Mesa, CB3, Onsegen Ensemble, Insect Ark, Acid Mammoth, Ritual King, Ulls, Om.

Thank You

Thank you for reading, and please, if you have a thought or something you want to share in the comments, please remember to be kind to each other. We are all human beings behind our phones and keyboards, and while we’ll disagree, often in some ways and some cases, a basic level of respect is always appreciated. At least by me.

I am not so deluded as to think anyone might still be reading, but I want it on record how much I appreciate you being a part of this site and a part of my experience in making it. I’ve been ruminating all year since marking the 10th anniversary back in January about how much The Obelisk has become a part of who I am, and it’s utterly essential to my every day. The way I continue to think about it — and myself, as it happens — is a work in progress, and that would not be possible without you. One more time. Thank you. Always. Always thank you. Thank you.

More to come.

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Caustic Casanova, God How I Envy the Deaf: The Shining Sun

Posted in Reviews on December 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Caustic Casanova God How I Envy the Deaf

Shortly before Washington, D.C., progressive noisemakers Caustic Casanova would issue their third-maybe-fourth long-player, God How I Envy the Deaf, as their debut on Magnetic Eye Records, the band posted an “unboxing video” on Facebook that featured drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker, totally straight-faced, unwrapping the CD. The caption posted with it read, “Check out this rad unboxing video with drummer/vocalist Stefanie Zaenker! For more creative content and to see the rest of the unboxing follow us on Spotify and/or dm us a picture of your favorite mammal!”

This intelligent, pointed skewering of cloying social media promotion is pretty emblematic of Caustic Casanova‘s outlook on the universe and reverent sonic irreverence overall. Comprised of Zaenker, bassist/vocalist Francis Beringer and guitarists Andrew Yonki and newcomer Jake Kimberley, they’re a band who very clearly love a range of styles and see no reason to draw a line between them. Across the nine-track/50-minute run of God How I Envy the Deaf, that comes out in a meld of hardcore crunch, heavy rock groove and thoughtful songcraft, with cuts like “Filth Castle” and “Taos Lightning” casting an identity that pulls from multiple sources while being pieced together with a hard-won confidence from years of touring and experience in the studio.

Outright, it’s worth noting that God How I Envy the Deaf is the heaviest-sounding work Caustic Casanova have ever done, and as it’s been producer J. Robbins at the helm for their studio work at least since 2012’s Someday You Will Be Proven Correct, a thickening of tone as compared to 2015’s Breaks (review here) and generally more aggressive spirit seems like it can only be a conscious decision. Humor and willingness to embrace the absurd are obviously a part of it — hence the pigeon propaganda cover art; note the boundless loyalty to Parrot Mao — and I haven’t had the benefit of a lyric sheet, but whether it’s opener “Fancy English” (premiered here) or the guttural shouting of a grocery list at the start and the concluding “an egg!” in “Donut and the Golden Hen,” there’s no shortage of personality on display.

It can be a fine line for a band to walk, and I think more often than not those who step back from doing so don’t want to be seen as the joke itself rather than those telling it, but Caustic Casanova‘s aggro take throughout staves this off, with plenty of divergences in style as on the echoing post-whatever of “Memory King” and the floating guitar amid the hard-hitting hook of later highlight “Truth Syrup,” wherein they seem to be answering the question of what Kylesa might’ve sounded like had they kept their tonal impact in kind with their melodic progression, to righteous result.

The diversity of their approach is united through songwriting and production, and even as God How I Envy the Deaf veers outward from the rules of its own making on its final two tracks, “Roger B. Taney,” — named for the US Supreme Court chief justice who said in 1857 that slaves weren’t citizens and the congress couldn’t outlaw slavery and featuring Emily Danger on vocals — and the 10-minute closer “Boxed and Crated,” which is by no means the first longer-form work Caustic Casanova have done but ends the record with a surprising devolution into cacophony, there is an underlying sense of direction and purpose to what they’re doing.

caustic casanova

But there is no mistaking the challenge that Caustic Casanova are putting forth on God How I Envy the Deaf. It is in the winding riffs and hardcore-born punch of “Filth Castle,” in the riffier groove of “If Your Brain is Properly Oiled” and in the lumber and shouts of “Boxed and Crated,” which pushes to the furthest extremes of any of the material here. To listeners, the challenge is to step outside of expectation for the limits of genre. There is no reason rock can’t be metal, punk can’t be heavy and all of it can’t be both progressive, shredding and fun.

The songs don’t necessarily invite dissection — this riff comes from this, that riff comes from that, etc. — but they stand up to that kind of scrutiny should someone want to get into it, and they prove only more effective and more memorable with multiple listens. That is, while the immediate impression Caustic Casanova make is that of an energized, considered act not at all beyond a bit of pummel when the situation calls for it — as it does at several points throughout here — the clichĂ© of putting more in and getting more out applies to actually hearing what they’re doing from piece to piece. You can dig as deep as you like and the ground stays solid.

That is a credit to their songwriting and the decade-plus they’ve been together, and their maturity has been hard won — it would be inappropriate to discuss just about anything they do without noting the steady touring they’ve undertaken for extended stretches for years now; one lengthy list of dates after another in inheritance of a D.C. DIY punker ethic. Their chemistry, even with Kimberley as a relatively recent addition to make what was a trio into a four-piece, is unmistakable and well on display in the turns within these songs as well as the shifts between them, the spacious and stomping “Memory King” giving way to the unmitigated instrumentalist speed-shove of “Donut and the Golden Hen,” which makes an as-fitting centerpiece as one could reasonably ask for an album so brazenly working on its own level.

Another challenge of God How I Envy the Deaf is perhaps even more crucial, and that’s to Caustic Casanova themselves. You can hear it in how they’re pushing themselves to be not just heavier or meaner or louder, but more realized creatively and more willful in how they bring together the various elements that comprise their approach. They’re a progressive band not just because they write thoughtful compositions, but because they actually progress — continually. Perhaps the real achievement of God How I Envy the Deaf is how it manages to so much maintain the band’s personality stamp even as it embraces this heavier stylistic ideology, refusing to sacrifice who they are to fit into some tidy box of genre.

And more, it is less a push-pull of resistance than a continual drive toward the individual. Their sound, even as it continues to change, is their own. Their songs, same. Their perspective, same. I don’t know if they’ll ever be the kind of band fully embraced by the kind of hype machine that, say, might seriously ask a fanbase their favorite mammal, but on God How I Envy the Deaf, they manifest as entirely themselves, and that suits them better.

Caustic Casanova, God How I Envy the Deaf (2019)

Caustic Casanova website

Caustic Casanova on Thee Facebooks

Caustic Casanova on Instagram

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Review & Track Premiere: Brume, Rabbits

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

brume rabbits

[Click play above to stream ‘Scurry’ by Brume. Rabbits is out Nov. 22 on Magnetic Eye Records.]

There are few if any moments in the lifespan of a band more exciting than when the potential they’ve shown early on comes to its moment of realization, and that is precisely where Rabbits finds San Francisco three-piece Brume. The five-track/43-minute label debut for Magnetic Eye Records follows their earlier-2019 split with Witch Ripper (review here) and answers the call put out by their 2017 full-length debut, Rooster (review here), as well as the 2015 12″ EP, Donkey (discussed here). It reaches toward new levels of atmospheric accomplishment, taking lessons from SubRosa on the quiet unfolding of opener “Despondence,” Uzala on the piano-and-string-laden centerpiece “Blue Jay,” mid-period Kylesa in the duet vocals of the penultimate “Lament” and Neurosis‘ landmark “Stones From the Sky” in the ending of closer “Autocrat’s Fool” without ever losing its sense of self. The three-piece of vocalist/bassist Susie McMullan, guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie and drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis recorded with Billy Anderson (Acid King, Sleep, Neurosis, so many others), and their mission seems to have been to capture a sound somewhere between consciousness and a dream-state, to find that place that is aware enough to understand that it is not awake but still doesn’t completely wake up. I’m tempted to call it lucid dreaming, if only for how in control Brume seem to be of their approach within this ambient sprawl, but that shouldn’t be taken as saying that what they’re doing comes across as some kind of sham, because it doesn’t. Rather, whatever familiar aspects one might stumble upon in the nuance of Rabbits or in a given riff, the primary impression the trio make is individualized and clearly only growing more so.

Of course, this is an ideal, but as one listens to McMullan‘s commanding voice in the YOBby melodic triumph of the chorus to second cut “Scurry” with McCathie in a backing role only to come to prominence himself in a quieter post-solo midsection, Rabbits makes a clear argument for the difference between internalizing an influence and acting off it and simply aping the work of others. They do the former, if I haven’t made that plain, following a linear path across two pairs of longer tracks split by the shorter “Blue Jay,” that only grows more hypnotic as it progresses from one section to the other. This too is a classic notion, that a full-length should unfurl itself like a journey and become more immersive as it takes its outward course from song to song, but saying that does little to convey the work that “Despondence” and “Scurry” — and I suppose “Blue Jay” as well — do in setting up the complementary trance-induction that comes with “Lament” and “Autocrat’s Fool.” And it’s not a radical change in running time, either. The first two cuts are a little over eight minutes apiece and the final two are just under 11 and 10, respectively. It’s not like they’re going from three-minute songs to 20-minute songs. But there’s a definite shift that takes place from one movement to the other nonetheless. It may just be a question of the patience and tempo of delivery, but it makes the overarching progression of Rabbits all the more engaging.

brume

That setup begins with the sparse guitar that opens “Despondence,” a soothing melancholy drift greeted by ethereal echoes as a bed for McMullan‘s voice, and it’s not until after three minutes in that the heavier push kicks in with drums, bass and a burst of volume that then plays through a series of back-and-forths, resolving itself in a weighted melodic wash as the vocals move to the front of the mix heading into the chorus at the song’s midpoint. This progression is fluid in itself and in the whole-LP groove it sets forth, and the effect that quiet beginning has is ongoing, both as a showcase of Brume‘s dynamic sound and as a direct lead-in for the rolling “Scurry,” which gets underway with more immediacy but still keeps some sense of the ambience of its predecessor as it does so, its hook more prevalent and a highlight of the album and the band’s career to-date. Specifically it seems to take influence from YOB‘s “Marrow,” but the sweep of McMullan‘s singing and McCathie‘s guitar is more than enough to pull that off in style and substance alike, and the emotion behind it feels nothing if not sincere. With McCathie‘s backing vocals positioned deeper in the mix, there’s all the more a sense of breadth to what’s still a prevalent forward push thanks to Perkins-Lewis‘ drumming, building through the verses only to open wider during the two choruses before guitar, bass and drums drop out to what would seem to be piano/keyboard with McCathie‘s voice in standalone fashion for a moment before the soaring lead takes hold en route to a more direct McMullan/McCathie duet that is a suitable payoff and then some.

With “Blue Jay” as the key moment of transition, there’s the threat that its own substance might be lost in the proceedings, especially as it’s shorter at just 5:46, but the arrangement takes care of that handily. It is, instead, another high point for Brume and, one hopes, something they continue to build on as they go forward from here — one could easily say the same of Rabbits as a whole. “Lament,” by contrast as the longest track, echoes the beginning of “Despondence” but is less stark in its own turns of volume and instead holds its swaying motion for seven of its 11 minutes before its full heft takes shape, again around a well-wielded vocal duet. If this is the direction Brume intend to follow, it is only to the fortune of anyone who might do likewise and will only see their personality as a band come further forward. The closing statement of “Autocrat’s Fool” plays severity off ambience off harmonies on the way to what seems to be a quiet finish until the aforementioned “Stones From the Sky” moment — all the more interesting since I wouldn’t necessarily call Brume post-metal, which is where one usually finds such things — kicks in to cap off, indeed cutting itself short mid-measure at the end. It’s a moment that underscores the message of the album as an entire work in that it sees Brume recast a familiar element or stylistic aspect toward their own purposes. Make no mistake, whatever Brume have done or will do, this is a special moment for this band. It sets up some lofty expectations for their next outing, to be sure, but most importantly, it establishes them as more than up to the challenge of creative evolution and expression.

Brume website

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Caustic Casanova November Tour Starts This Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

caustic casanova

It was by fun coincidence that the press release blowing up the dates for Caustic Casanova‘s November tour happened to come down the PR wire while I was waiting for the band to take the stage this past Saturday at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn for Magnetic Eye RecordsDay of Doom (review here). But as the central thesis of that portion of the longer writeup concerning the D.C. four-piece was basically, “duh, go see them because they’re good,” it seemed only fair to put up or shut up and post the dates again whereby that might actually happen, at least for some people in the right place at the right time.

This isn’t the first tour Caustic Casanova are doing to support their new album, God How I Envy the Deaf, and it seems incredibly unlikely it will be the last. I have little doubt that the best advice I can give as regards the band — see: “duh,” etc., above — will apply to their next tour as well. Go go go. They certainly do.

Dates from the well-timed PR wire:

caustic casanova nov tour

CAUSTIC CASANOVA TO BEGIN TOUR ON NOVEMBER 8TH

Washington DC rockers Caustic Casanova are excited to announce “God How I Envy This Tour,” a run of dates in November that will take them from Brooklyn to Texas. Starting on November 2nd at legendary Williamsburg venue Saint Vitus with Magnetic Eye’s Day of Doom showcase, the band will travel through Virginia, the Carolinas, Florida, and Lousiana on their way to three final stops in the Lone Star State.

All dates will be in support of their recently released album God How I Envy The Deaf.

Tour Dates
Nov. 2 – Brooklyn, NY (Magnetic Eye Day of Doom Festival) @ Saint Vitus
Nov. 8 – Richmond, VA @Wonderland
Nov. 9 – Greensboro, NC @Flat Iron
Nov. 10 – Wilmington, NC @Gravity Records
Nov. 11 – Raleigh, NC @Slims
Nov. 12 – Charleston, SC @The Royal American
Nov. 14 – St. Augustine, FL @Shanghai Nobby’s
Nov. 15 – Gainesville, FL @Loosey’s
Nov. 16 – St. Petersburg, FL @The Bends
Nov. 17 – Pompano Beach, FL @Lozer Lounge
Nov. 18 – Orlando, FL @Wills Pub
Nov. 20 – New Orleans, LA @Carnaval Lounge
Nov. 21 – San Antonio, TX @Hi-Tones
Nov. 22 – Denton, TX @Backyard on Bell Block Party III
Nov. 23 – Fort Worth, TX @Lola’s Trailer Park Bar

http://causticcasanova.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CausticCasanova
https://www.instagram.com/CausticCasanova/
http://store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Caustic Casanova, God How I Envy the Deaf (2019)

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