Quarterly Review: Primordial, Dead Meadow, Taarna, MaidaVale, Black Willows, Craang, Fuzz Lord, Marijannah, Cosmic Fall, Owl

Posted in Reviews on April 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Okay, so this is it. The Quarterly Review definitely ends today. I’m not sneaking in a seventh day tomorrow or anything like that. This is it. The last batch of 10, bringing us to a grand total of 60 records reviewed between last Monday and now. That’s not too bad, if you think about it. Me, I’m a little done thinking about it, and if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to enjoy the time between now and late June/early July, in which for the most part I’ll be writing about one record at a time. The thought feels like a luxury after this week.

But hey, we made it. Thanks for reading along the way.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primordial, Exile Amongst the Ruins

primordial exile amongst the ruins

Primordial’s flair for the epic has not at all abated over the years. The Irish post-black-metal forerunners follow-up 2014’s Where Greater Men Have Fallen with Exile Amongst the Ruins (on Metal Blade), and though there’s plenty of charge in “To Hell or the Hangman,” “Sunken Lungs” or “Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed,” with frontman Alan Averill proselytizing declarations as grandly as ever, one might read a certain amount of fatigue into the lyrics of songs like “Stolen Years” and the 10-minute closer “Last Call.” Granted, Exile Amongst the Ruins is 65 minutes long, so I don’t think the band has run out of things to say, but could it be that the cycle of writing, recording and touring is starting to wear on them some 25 years after their founding? I wouldn’t know or speculate, and like I said, Exile Amongst the Ruins retains plenty of its sonic force, the layering of the title-track and the preceding “Where Lie the Gods” offering a depth of sound to complement the complexity of their themes.

Primordial on Thee Facebooks

Primordial at Metal Blade website

 

Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need

dead meadow The Nothing They Need

Utter masters of their domain, Los Angeles’ Dead Meadow – comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jason Simon, bassist Steve Kille and drummer Juan Londono – mark 20 years of the band with the eight songs of The Nothing They Need (on Xemu Records), bringing in former members for guest spots mostly on drums but also guitar across a rich tapestry of moods, all of which happen to be distinctly Dead Meadow’s own. The ramble in opener “Keep Your Head” or “I’m So Glad” is unmistakable, and the fuzz of the six-minute “Nobody Home” bounces with a heavy psychedelic groove that should be nothing less than a joy to the converted. Recorded in their rehearsal space, released on their own label and presented with their own particularly blend of indie pulse, psych dreamscaping and more weighted tone, a song like the swaying eight-minute “The Light” is a reminder of everything righteous Dead Meadow have accomplished in their two decades, and of the vast spread their influence has taken on in that time. Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is that no matter who’s involved, Dead Meadow sound like Dead Meadow, which is about the highest compliment I can think of to pay them.

Dead Meadow on Thee Facebooks

Xemu Records website

 

Taarna, Sanguine Ash

taarna sanguine ash

It’s not entirely clear what’s happening at the start of Taarna’s 29-minute single-song EP, Sanguine Ash, but the samples are vague and violent sounding and the noise behind them is abrasive. A strum and build takes hold as the Portland, Oregon, black metallers, who feature former members of Godhunter in their ranks, continue in the first couple minutes to develop a suicidal thematic, and six minutes in, a wash of static takes hold with drums behind it only to give way, in turn, to lush-sounding keys or guitar (could go either way) that patiently leads to a rumbling, roiling lurch of blacksludge. Cavern-vocals echo and cut through molasses tones and Taarna ride that malicious groove for the next several minutes until, at around 18:30, samples start again. This leads to more quiet guitar, resonant blackened thrust, noise, noise, more noise and a final emergent wash of caustic anti-metal that couldn’t possibly be clearer in its mission to challenge, repel and come across as completely fucked as it can. Done and done, you scathing bastards.

Taarna on Thee Facebooks

Taarna on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure

maidavale madness is too pure

I already discussed a lot of what is working so well on MaidaVale’s second album, Madness is Too Pure (The Sign Records), when I put up the video for “Oh Hysteria!” (posted here), but it’s worth reemphasizing the sonic leap the Swedish four-piece have made between their 2016 debut, the bluesy and well-crafted Tales of the Wicked West (review here) and this nine-song offering, which stretches far outside the realm of blues rock and encompasses psychedelic jamming, spontaneous-sounding explorations, brazen but not at all caustic vibes, and an overarching energy of delivery that reminds both of a live presentation and, on a song like “Gold Mine,” of what Death Alley have been able to revitalize in space-punk. Memorable progressions like that of “Walk in Silence” and the freaked out “Dark Clouds” offer standout moments, but really, it’s the whole album itself that’s the standout, and if the debut showed MaidaVale’s potential, Madness is Too Pure ups that factor significantly.

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Willows, Bliss

black willows bliss

About a year and a half after releasing their 2016 sophomore outing, Samsara (review here), Swiss post-doomers Black Willows return with a 19-minute single-song EP they’ve dubbed Bliss. It is utterly hypnotic. The sonic equivalent of watching a bonfire take hold of dry wood. It consumes with its dense heft of riff and then lulls the listener with stretches of minimalism and ambience, the first of which provides the intro to the piece itself. Black Willows are no strangers to working with longform material, and as Bliss also appears as the band’s half of a Bloodrock Records split with Craneium, it’s understandable they’d want to bring their best, but the weight of their groove feels unexpected even in terms of having heard their past work. So they’ve gotten heavier? Yeah, maybe. What really matters is how they wield that weight, and on Bliss, they put it to use as much as an atmospheric table-setter as in a display of sheer force. Beware the noise wash at the end. That’s all I’ll say.

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Bandcamp

 

Craang, Shine

craang shine

Greek heavy psych rockers Craang set up a dynamic quickly on their new two-song full-length, Shine (also stylized as S H IN E) that both encourages and rewards patience and trust on the part of the listener. They begin 24:52 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Horizon – Tempest” quietly and commence to unfold through ebbs and flows, clean vocals and shouts, open spaces and dense(r) riffing. There is a break near and at the halfway point that presumably is the shift between one part of “Horizon – Tempest” and the other, and the second half follows that lead with a more active presentation. The accompanying “Ocean – Cellular” (19:41) launches with a bed of synth that fades as the bass, drums and guitar enter and begin a linear build that retains a progressive edge, dropping off at about eight minutes in perhaps as another transition into “Cellular,” which indeed follows a more winding, intricate path. One can only say Craang are clear in their representation of what they want to convey, and because of that, Shine is all the more of an engaging experience, the listener essentially following the band on this journey from place to place, idea to idea.

Craang on Thee Facebooks

Craang on Bandcamp

 

Fuzz Lord, Fuzz Lord

Fuzz Lord fuzz lord

We start at “The Gates of Hell” and end up in “Infamous Evil,” so one might say Ohio trio Fuzz Lord – guitarist Steven “Fuzz Lord” joined by bassist/vocalist “Stoner” Dan Riley and drummer/vocalist Lawrence “Lord Buzz” – have their thematic well set on their eight-track self-titled debut (on Fuzzdoom Records). Likewise, their tones and the sense of space in the echoing vocals of “Kronos Visions Arise” and the later, extra-Sabbathian “World Collide” seem to know precisely where they’re headed. Riley recorded the 39-minute outing, while Justin Pizzoferrato (Elder, Dinosaur Jr., many others) mixed, and the resulting conjuration is earthbound in its low end while allowing the guitar to either roll out riffy largesse or take an airier approach. The uptempo “The Lord of the Underground” speaks to a punker underpinning, while the preceding “The Warriors Who Reign” seems to have a more classic metal take, and “Infamous Evil,” also the longest track at 7:51, peppers in layered guitar leads amid a doomier, Luciferian vibe and fervent hook.

Fuzz Lord on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzdoom Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Marijannah, Till Marijannah

Marijannah till marijannah

Comprised of members of Wormrot and The Caulfield Cult, Singapore-based newcomers Marijannah execute four tracks of blown-out tones and psychedelic cavernousness with their Pink Tank Records debut release, Till Marijannah. Touches of garage swing make their way into opener “1974,” and second cut “Snakecharmer” blazes and scorches with wah-drenched solos around crunching rhythms and melodic vocalizations. A march emerges on the nine-minute “Bride of Mine” and only gets more fervent as the track makes its way forward, and driving finale “All Hollow’s Eve” presents a cacophonous but controlled take from Marijannah that reinforces the notion of nothing on their first outing happening by accident. Impressive and just a bit frenetic, it leaves one wondering what further ground the band might look to explore from here, whether they’ve set their sonic course and will look to refine their processes along these lines or whether this is just the beginning of a wider stylistic melding, and their next offering might sound completely different than Till Marijannah. The one seems as likely as the other, and that’s incredibly refreshing.

Marijannah on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Cosmic Fall, In Search of Outer Space

cosmic fall in search of outer space

Immediate points to Berlin jammers Cosmic Fall for opening their six-song/43-minute third album, In Search of Outer Space, with the 11-minute longest track “Jabberwocky.” The three-piece introduced new guitarist Marcin Marowski last year on Jams for Free (review here), and as bassist Klaus Friedrich steps up to take the vocalist role and drummer Daniel Sax continues to hold together impossible spaciousness with a fluidity of groove, Marowski seems right at home wah-noodling in the open reaches of “Jabberwocky” and soldering shred and swirl together on the later “Lumberjam.” Some of In Search of Outer Space’s most effective moments are its quietest, as on “Purification” or second cut “Narcotic Vortex,” but neither will I decry the bass fuzz that takes hold near the finish there or the molten churn that bookends closer “Icarus,” but as “Spacejam” hits into the vastness, it seems Cosmic Fall as just as apt to float as to rocket their way out of the atmosphere. In either case, they most certainly get there.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Orion Fenix

owl orion fenix

The solo-project of Christian Kolf of avant death-crunchers Valborg, Owl issues the 22-minute single-song EP Orion Fenix – with its chanting repetitions of “reborn in fire” – as a precursor to the upcoming LP, Nights in Distortion. Like Owl’s last EP, 2015’s wondrously dark Aeon Cult (review here), Orion Fenix is both intense churn and slow-rolling melancholy, bridging a gap between classic doom (that lead 15 minutes in) and post-doom rhythms and atmosphere. If the project’s purpose is to find beauty in darkness, Orion Fenix accomplishes this quickly enough, but the track’s runtime and lush layering allow Kolf to lend a sense of exploration to what is no doubt a meticulous creative process, since he’s handling all the instruments and vocals himself. Either way, Orion Fenix, as a herald, bodes remarkably well for forward progress on Nights in Distortion to come, and is a remarkable accomplishment on its own in both heft and spaciousness.

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Owl on Bandcamp

 

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MaidaVale Post “Oh Hysteria!” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

maidavale

The proceedings get pretty weird on MaidaVale‘s second album, Madness is too Pure, whether it’s the tripped out psych-guitar of ‘Dark Clouds’ or the bass-underscored start-stop classic rock declarations of the penultimate “She is Gone” or the spaciousness that follows on closer “Another Dimension,” but “Oh Hysteria!,” second of the total nine tracks, has a kind of ritualism all its own, and there’s nothing else quite like it on the record. That might not make it the most representative single for Madness is too Pure, which is due March 23 on The Sign Records, but the repetitions of the title and chant-like feel of the song in general send an important signal to those whose ears might pick it up: MaidaVale are a different band than they were when they made their debut with 2016’s Tales of the Wicked West (review here).

That album dug deep into blues rock rhythms and a late ’60s/early ’70s soul mentality, and while Madness is too Pure could be argued to stem from the same place, the outward linear trajectory the tracks follow that culminates with “Another Dimension” isn’t to be understated. MaidaVale — the Stockholm-based four-piece of vocalist Matilda Roth, guitarist Sofia Ström, bassist Linn Johanesson and drummer Johanna Hansson — range with a sense of purpose as opener “Deadlock” and “Oh Hysteria!” begin the ascent into freakoutery that continues across “Dark Clouds,” the electronic beat-infused “Trance,” “She is Gone,” etc. A Zeppelin-gone-psych vibe is prevalent throughout, but the most pivotal statement MaidaVale make with Madness is too Pure is that their sound is very much in the process of becoming their own and their songwriting is far more adventurous than one might’ve first suspected with the shuffle and semi-vintage boogie of their first outing. To listen to centerpiece “Späktrum,” one would hardly recognize them as the same band.

And that’s not a slight at all on Tales of the Wicked West, which had thrills of its own to offer and certainly was a showcase of potential when it came to MaidaVale‘s songwriting and performance, but rather just to say that with Madness is too Pure, the band have exceeded even the hints they gave the first time around of who they were as a group, and perhaps in showcasing their willingness to get weird, “Oh Hysteria!” is a representative single after all. One way or the other, paired with the clip for “Deadlock” that was premiered here at the end of January, one at least begins to get a sense of the brain-melting course Madness is too Pure ultimately follows, which remains tied to the first album both in the passion of its execution and in the potential it shows on the part of MaidaVale as a whole. Long live the freakouts, long live the weird.

PR wire info, including copious live dates, follows the “Oh Hysteria!” video below. Please enjoy:

MaidaVale, “Oh Hysteria!” official video

Swedish stoner/heavy rock band MaidaVale have released a video for their song “Oh Hysteria” The song is from the band’s new album Madness Is Too Pure which will be released in March 2018 via The Sign Records.

The band commented “This song came to life during a creative jam session while writing for the album. Once we had found the groove and the hook it all fell into place very naturally. We were happy to work with Flickhemmet on this video; they managed to really capture the essence of the song.”

Pre-order the album on vinyl here: http://freighttrain.se/en/the-sign-record/maidavale/maidavale-madness-is-too-pure-lp.html

MAIDAVALE live dates
24/3 – Jönköping, Sweden
6/4 – Jönköping, Sweden
7/4 – Linköping, Sweden
20/4 – Malmö, Sweden
27/4 – Gothenburg, Sweden
5/5 – Berlin, Germany – Desertfest Berlin
7/5 – Warsaw, Poland
8/5 – Torun, Poland
9/5 – Dresden, Germany
11/5 – Hamburg, Germany
12/5 – Husum, Germany
13/5 – Dracthen, Netherlands
15/5 – Stuttgart, Germany
16/5 – Munich, Germany
17/5 – Blozano, Italy
18/5 – Nuernberg, Germany
19/5 – Leipzig, Germany
20/5 – Bueckburg, Germany
26/5 – Sandviken, Sweden
30/6 – Bourlon, France

Members:
Matilda Roth – Vocals
Johanna Hansson – Drums
Linn Johanesson – Bass
Sofia Ström – Guitar

MaidaVale website

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

MaidaVale on Twitter

MaidaVale on Instagram

MadidaVale on Spotify

The Sign Records website

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records at Freight Train Distro

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MaidaVale Premiere “Deadlock” Video from Madness is too Pure

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

maidavale (Photo by Gianluca La Bruna)

It does not take long for the purity of madness to show itself on the aptly-named second full-length from Swedish heavy rockers MaidaVale. The Stockholm-based outfit issued their debut in 2016’s Tales of the Wicked West (review here), and while classicism of form remains a prevalent element throughout the new nine-track/38-minute offering — sure enough titled Madness is too Pure and set to land via The Sign Records — the band is far, far less indebted to genre, particularly blues rock, which they actively veer away from in both the alternarocking “Walk in Silence” and the electronica-beat-infused later cut “Trance, as well as others.

That in itself is a noteworthy departure, and deeply encouraging as one looks to dig further into the record ahead of its release in March via The Sign Records. In contrast to the later atmospheric spaciousness and underlying thrust of “Späktrom” and the drift of the subsequent six-minuter “Dark Clouds” a subtly powerful opening to Madness is too Pure hits with the immediacy of scorch in “Deadlock,” which stomps out its hook centered around the vocal performance of Mathida Roth, whose already formidable command the last time out only comes more forward as she weaves through the chorus en route to the reinforcement that arrives so soon on the following, exclamatory “Oh Hysteria!”

I have every intention of covering Madness is too Pure more as we get closer to the release on March 23. Also look or MaidaVale to tour France next month to herald the arrival. Like I say, more to come.

Enjoy “Deadlock” in the meantime. It gets a little bit mad at the end:

MaidaVale, “Deadlock” official video premiere

Deadlock by MaidaVale is from the upcoming album “Madness Is Too Pure” that will be released by The Sign Records in 2018

Video by Lisabi Fridell.
Produced / Directed / Editing by: Lisabi Fridell lisabifridell.com
Cinematographer: Nina Fridell

The music on ”Madness Is Too Pure” is deeply rooted in the monotone union between the rhythm section of Johanna Hansson and Linn Johannesson and the hypnotizing vocals of Matilda Roth. Adding Sofia Ströms dazzling guitar playing gives depth to the musical landscape of MaidaVale. ’Madness Is Too Pure’ moves MaidaVale closer to bands such as NEU!, Amon Düül II, Public Image Ltd and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The album was produced and mixed by Jari Haapalainen who has previously worked with artists such as Ed Harcourt, Camera Obscura, Johnossi, Sahara Hotnights, True Moon and The (International) Noise Conspiracy. The album was recorded during six days in November 2017 at The End Studio outside of Lund, Sweden, engineered by Tommy Tift (Vånna Inget, True Moon).

Live gigs:
10/02 – NORRKÖPING, Sweden – Where´s The Music
14/02 PARIS, France – Le Supersonic
15/02 CLERMONT FERRAND, France – Le Raymond Bar
16/02 BARBERAZ, France – Le Brin de Zinc
19/02 – LYON, France – Hard Rock Café
21/02 BORDEAUX, France – Le Voïd
22/02 MELLES, France – Le Café Boulevard
23/02 LORIENT, France – Le Galion
24/02 ANGERS, France – Le Joker’s Pub

European Tour in May
4/5 – BERLIN, Germany – Desertfest Berlin

Members:
Matilda Roth – Vocals
Johanna Hansson – Drums
Linn Johanesson – Bass
Sofia Ström – Guitar

MaidaVale website

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

MaidaVale on Twitter

MaidaVale on Instagram

MadidaVale on Spotify

The Sign Records website

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records at Freight Train Distro

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MaidaVale Announce New Album Madness is Too Pure Due March 23

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

maidavale (gianluca la bruna)

Already confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2018 later in Spring, retro-style Swedish rockers MaidaVale are set to issue their second album, Madness is Too Pure, on March 23 via The Sign Records. Their 2016 debut, Tales of the Wicked West (review here), had its heart dug into classic boogie-fied blues rocking, and it would seem that some changes are in store with the new collection that might find MaidaVale working with a more progressive approach on the whole. Should be interesting to find out how that manifests and if they’ll keep their underlying rhythmic swing or perhaps shift into more atmospheric fare in general. Intrigue, my friends! Intrigue!

If you’d like to revisit the first record, you’ll find it streaming at the bottom of this post, and I’ll hope to have more on Madness is Too Pure ahead of the release date. Till then, the PR wire offers the following:

maidavale madness is too pure

MaidaVale – Madness Is Too Pure

MaidaVale have since the release of their debut album “Tales of the Wicked West” in August 2016, toured Europe intensely. With a captivating performance and psychedelic groove they have enchanted their audiences. The live sound of MaidaVale have always leant towards the experimental scene of the ’60s and ’70s, something that have reinvented their sound on the new album. The band have worked with producer Jari Haapalainen which have led them further down the kraut and experimental path. The strong melodic and psychedelic elements from their debut is still present as the foundation on their upcoming second album. MaidaVale’s new album “Madness Is Too Pure” will be released on The Sign Records 23rd of March.

The music on ”Madness Is Too Pure” is deeply rooted in the monotone union between the rhythm section of Johanna Hansson and Linn Johannesson and the hypnotizing vocals of Matilda Roth. Adding Sofia Ströms dazzling guitar playing gives depth to the musical landscape of MaidaVale. ’Madness Is Too Pure’ moves MaidaVale closer to bands such as NEU!, Amon Düül II, Public Image Ltd and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The album was produced and mixed by Jari Haapalainen who has previously worked with artists such as Ed Harcourt, Camera Obscura, Johnossi, Sahara Hotnights, True Moon and The (International) Noise Conspiracy. The album was recorded during six days in November 2017 at The End Studio outside of Lund, Sweden, engineered by Tommy Tift (Vånna Inget, True Moon).

Live gigs:
26/01 – GOTHENBURG, Sweden – Truckstop Alaska
10/02 – NORRKÖPING, Sweden – Where´s The Music

14/02 PARIS, France – Le Supersonic
15/02 CLERMONT FERRAND, France – Le Raymond Bar
16/02 BARBERAZ, France – Le Brin de Zinc
19/02 – LYON, France – Hard Rock Café
21/02 BORDEAUX, France – Le Voïd
22/02 MELLES, France – Le Café Boulevard
23/02 LORIENT, France – Le Galion
24/02 ANGERS, France – Le Joker’s Pub

European Tour in May
4/5 – BERLIN, Germany – Desertfest Berlin

Members:
Matilda Roth – Vocals
Johanna Hansson – Drums
Linn Johanesson – Bass
Sofia Ström – Guitar

http://www.maidavaleband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/maidavaleswe/
https://twitter.com/maidavaleband
https://www.instagram.com/maidavaleband/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/7rsoTsWjPBw9tyPbLXJko2
www.thesignrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/thesignrecords/
http://freighttrain.se/sv/

MaidaVale, Tales of the Wicked West (2016)

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