Review & Full Album Stream: Ogre, Thrice as Strong

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Ogre Thrice as Strong

[Ogre release Thrice is Strong on Oct. 25 through Cruz Del Sur Music. Stream the album in full on the player above.]

Though their tenure has been interrupted by periods of inactivity and on-again-off-again hiatus, 2019 marks 20 years of Ogre, who celebrate their doom-meets-classic-heavy-rock with the new LP Thrice as Strong. It is their first offering since 2014’s The Last Neanderthal (review here), and as the Maine-based trio of bassist/vocalist Ed Cunningham, guitarist Ross Markonish and drummer Will Broadbent dig into the seven-track/43-minute push-pull of early Sabbathian bluesy purity, they’re likewise unafraid to add touches of ’80s proto-NWOBHM to songs like the centerpiece “Judgement Day” or to find their way along a Motörhead-style swing-and-thrust in the early cuts “Hive Mind” and “Big Man” while saving broader-reaching fare for side B’s longer tracks “Blood of Winter” and the closer “Cyber-Czar,” both over eight minutes.

Thrice as Strong, the full title on the cover of which — with art by Will Broadbent; spoiler alert: their heads are on pikes — is listed as In a Doomed World They Must Remain Thrice as Strong, is the three-piece’s first release through Cruz del Sur Music and though their work has always been concerned with a kind of primitivism across releases like their 2003 debut, Dawn of the Proto-Man (reissue review here), 2006’s Seven Hells (reissue review here) and 2008’s Plague of the Planet (review here), their latest collection finds them no less engaged with the present we’re living in. Certainly there’s plenty of fodder there for doom, and Ogre duly revel in it, with cuts like “The Future,” “Hive Mind,” and even “Cyber-Czar” taking on the modern age and its many futuristic and technological horrors/wonders — the latter with a particular Dehumanizer bent in its later moments closing out the album — even as “Blood of Winter” and the penultimate “King of the Wood” tap into Ogre‘s more classic fare of pulp-style epic comic books and so on. In other words, on Thrice as StrongOgre delve into both kinds of lyrics: sci-fi and fantasy. They are no less at home in the one than the other.

That leaves “Big Man” as an outlier, thematically, and maybe it is. I haven’t had the benefit of a full lyric sheet, those familiar with Ogre‘s past albums might consider “Big Man” something of a spiritual successor to “Nine Princes in Amber” from The Last Neanderthal. It is the shortest track on Thrice as Strong at just under four minutes, and the purest of the boogies on offer as well. “The Future” opens melodic and catchy in trad-metallic grandeur — at least relatively — touching on some Iron Maiden influence in Cunningham‘s bassline beneath Markonish‘s solo, and Broadbent adds to the momentum early by double-timing on the hi-hat during the verse, and “Hive Mind” has its shove in the first half before hitting the brakes in the second and picking back up to round out. “Big Man,” by contrast, holds its speedier pace for the duration and is a standout from the surrounding cuts, much as the aforementioned piece from the prior album was in its own context. I don’t think the one song is a direct answer to the other — different themes, different sound — but perhaps on some level manifesting a similar impulse in songwriting toward self-contradiction and flying in the face of “doom needs to be slow” or other such ultimately unnecessary genre tenets.

ogre

One way or the other, Ogre sound like they’re having a blast there and elsewhere. Cunningham is a vocalist for all or at least most seasons, singing clean, shouting, screaming occasionally, all with personality, a touch of echo and a classic feel, but at the same time he comes across as natural even in layers on “The Future,” and never sounds like he’s taking the proceedings too seriously, which would only imperil the album as a whole in terms of atmosphere. Recording-wise, part of Ogre‘s traditionalism has always been a relatively barebones production style. They’ve never veered too far from presenting themselves with something close to their live sound, and for what they’re playing that’s always worked. It does on Thrice as Strong too. That would seem to put extra pressure on Cunningham as a singer in fronting the band not only to carry that energy forward to the audience hearing the record, but simply in pulling off changes like those of “Judgement Day” where he goes from growling out one line to soaring in the next, and it seems to be no challenge whatsoever for him. That is only fortunate for all parties involved.

The shift into “Blood of Winter” represents something of a sea change in Thrice as Strong — it’s very likely the start of side B — with a broader and more doomly scope, but Ogre excel at this kind of storytelling, and together with the swing-and-nodder “King of the Wood,” “Blood of Winter” very much plays to their strengths and reminds of how underrated they’ve always been. A languid groove in “King of the Wood” turns to shuffle late and fades to silence ahead of “Cyber-Czar,” signaling a marked turn as Broadbent‘s drums lead the way on a fade-in that’s particularly militaristic. The closer itself is seven-plus minutes long, but there’s a robot-voice spoken part at the end and a howling sirens and other sounds of conflict over the fading final hits, wind and distant explosions, etc., to round out the atmosphere following the track itself, which is a fitting if deceptively speedy summation of the crux of the record.

Of course, no matter where they go, the underlying message of Thrice is Strong is the same, and caveman battles or futuristic warfare, that’s ultimately what the album is about. It’s about them — the band — together. It’s about Ogre looking back on two decades as a group and not just knowing who they are as a band, as one would expect to be a largely settled issue by anyone’s fifth record — at least as much as any band ever settles that issue — but also appreciating the special aspects of the whole that each member brings. The theme of Thrice as Strong may be struggle in terms of the lyrical narrative, but the album is little short of a commemoration of their methods and their accomplishments as songwriters. The arrival of a new Ogre album, any Ogre album, is noteworthy — it’s just not something that happens every day — but with Thrice as Strong, the acknowledgement of a special occasion seems to extend to all levels. CunninghamMarkonishBroadbentOgre. That’s the story here.

Ogre on Thee Facebooks

Ogre on Bandcamp

Cruz del Sur Music website

Cruz del Sur Music on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music on Bandcamp

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Ogre Sign to Cruz Del Sur Music; New Album Thrice as Strong out This October

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Long-running doomers Ogre, whose cult following remains loyal, will issue their first album in five years, Thrice as Strong, through Cruz Del Sur Music this October. That’s a fair fit, the band and the label, and as Ogre‘s last album came out, 2014’s The Last Neanderthal (review here) through Minotauro Records, the new home aligns them to a host of classic metal and doom and can only go further into getting them a foothold listenership in Europe. That puts Ogre on the same label as Apostle of Solitude and Slough Feg and King Heavy, so, you know, good company and all that. I hear there are more to come in joining those ranks as well.

Ogre don’t really tour — every now and again you can them to leave New England, but don’t count on it — but they went to Russia in 2018 and they’ve made periodic voyages hither and yon. One only hopes that continues as they gear up for Thrice as Strong.

Info came down the PR wire:

ogre

Portland, Maine Doomsters OGRE Join Cruz Del Sur Music; ‘Thrice As Strong’ Studio Album Due This Fall

Long-running Portland, Maine doom trio OGRE has signed with Cruz Del Sur Music for the October release of their forthcoming fifth studio album, “Thrice As Strong”. The album was tracked with Rowan Bishop at Garage Mahal Recording in Westbrook, Maine.

Practitioners of traditional doom with a mix of ’70s rock and proto metal, OGRE was formed in 1999 by Ed Cunningham (bass/vocals), Ross Markonish (guitar) and Will Broadbent (drums). To date, the band has released four studio albums, with 2014’s “The Last Neanderthal” their most recent. OGRE came to the attention of Cruz Del Sur through classic word of mouth — a handful of Cruz Del Sur bands put in the good word for OGRE to label owner Enrico Leccese.

“Once we started working on this album, we posted a few messages on social media, reaching out to any potential labels that might be interested in working with us this time around,” says Markonish. “Will started up a correspondence with Butch Balich from Argus who then put us in touch with Tom Phillips of While Heaven Wept, who works closely with Enrico. We played with WHILE HEAVEN WEPT years ago at a doom festival in Rochester, New York and we’ve also shared the stage with other Cruz artists, including ARGUS and Apostle of Solitude, so we couldn’t be happier to share a label with all those great bands, not to mention SLOUGH FEG, another favorite!”

Since the release of “The Last Neanderthal”, OGRE has kept themselves busy with shows in Portland, while working on the material that would eventually become “Thrice As Strong”. The band even found time to make their impact abroad: “One particularly cool thing that we did recently was travel to Arkhangelsk, Russia in October of last year to play the Belomor-Boogie Festival, a Russian rock festival that currently is in its 25th year of existence,” notes Markonish. “Arkhangelsk is the sister city of our hometown of Portland, Maine, so it was an amazing experience to travel across the globe and represent the Portland scene for the people of Russia. We made a ton of new friends and fans out there!”

According to Markonish, the “Thrice As Strong” album title plays off OGRE’s power-trio formation and is taken from their namesake song, “Ogre”, which is the first track on their first album, “Dawn Of The Proto-Man”, which is also where “The Last Neanderthal” title came from. “As our fans know, we really like all of these self-referential details, as it sort of builds up the concept of an ‘OGRE Universe’. Not surprisingly, we are all fans of comic books, sci-fi and horror novels/movies, and bands like RUSH, who specialize in those sorts of geeky things.”

OGRE is recording with Bishop because of his “good set of ears” and the stripped-down feel of Garage Mahal Studios. Markonish says the new songs are not a departure from the band’s vintage sound, but fans can expect a few different influences this time around.

“When we first started working on this album, our original plan was to try to keep song lengths down a bit,” he says. “Reason being, our prior albums all featured at least one song in the 10-15-minute range, never mind our concept album, ‘Plague Of The Planet’, which consists of a single, 37-minute song! While that proved difficult (a couple songs on this album stretch into the 8-minute range), it still did inform our general approach to songwriting this time around.

“I would also say that there is a bit more of an ‘80s metal influence on these tracks — some MAIDEN, a little DIO perhaps, and also some of the more underground bands of the time, like CIRITH UNGOL and MANILLA ROAD. Rowan even said he heard a little MERCYFUL FATE on some of the songs! The way I put it to someone, while our prior albums were majorly influenced by ’70s-era PENTAGRAM, this one shares some of its sound and ethos with the Victor Griffin ’80s line-up that produced the ‘Relentless’ and ‘Day Of Reckoning’ albums.”

Tracklisting:
1. The Future
2. Hive Mind
3. Big Man
4. Judgment Day
5. Blood of Winter
6. King of the Wood
7. Cyber-Czar

Ogre is:
Vocals/Bass: Ed Cunningham
Guitars: Ross Markonish
Drums: Will Broadbent

https://www.facebook.com/Rockogre/
https://ogrereal.bandcamp.com/
cruzdelsurmusic.com
facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic
cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com

Ogre, The Last Neanderthal (2014)

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Sun Gods in Exile Announce 2017 Reunion Plans

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Portland, Maine, heavy rockers Sun Gods in Exile will return to the stage in 2017. Last I heard from the classic-minded swagger-bearers was in 2013, when they hit the road alongside Small Stone labelmates Backwoods Payback, Supermachine and Lord Fowl for a quick run of the Northeast — four bands, four nights. Four years ago. Cool bill, all the same.

By that time, Sun Gods in Exile had two full-lengths out. They made their debut in 2009 with Black Light, White Lines (review here), followed it with 2012’s Thanks for the Silver (review here), and also took part in Ripple Music‘s Heavy Ripples Vol. 1 (review here) four-way split with Grifter, Stone Axe and Mighty High. The albums it’s probably fair to say were a couple years prescient in terms of how they updated ’70s vibes with modern production and songcraft, but Sun Gods in Exile always seemed to make an impact in terms of attitude as well, and they sounded like the kind of group who approached every show as a competition to kick as much ass on stage as possible.

Looks like they’ll get that opportunity again. The reunion plans are rather straightforward — play regional shows around New England and get to writing new material — but then, Sun Gods in Exile were never much for messing around. A lineup shift is still in the works, but guitarist Anthony D’Agostino sent confirmation this thing is happening, and he’d certainly know.

Here’s the latest:

sun gods in exile

Sun Gods in Exile reforming in 2017

Original Black Light White Lines lineup except new bass player to be announced soon.

After 4 years off due to family and career obligations we decided to start rolling out the rock again.

Sun Gods in Exile will be doing a handful of New England shows this spring and summer playing songs off the two Small Stone records, then plan to start writing new material to be released later in the year.

https://www.facebook.com/Sun-Gods-in-Exile-2017-411701842508372/
https://sungodsinexile1.bandcamp.com/
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/

Sun Gods in Exile, Black Light, White Lines (2009)

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Murcielago Announce Hiatus; Farewell Show this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 3rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Fare thee well to Portland, Maine, heavy rockers Murcielago, who will wrap seven years together this weekend with a hometown show at Portland House of Music and Events. The dual-guitar four-piece, which happens to feature Ian Ross of Roadsaw on guitar alongside guitarist Matthew Robbins, bassist/vocalist Neil Collins and drummer Brian Chaloux, issued their self-titled debut in 2014 and have been playing local shows in New England for the last half-decade or more. Their disbanding — hiatus? breakup?; one word is as good as the other — comes with the caveat that they might decide to get back together at some point and jam again, and honestly I doubt anyone would hold it against them if they did just that.

After sharing the stage recently with the recently-reactivated Scissorfight, they’ll close out their tenure alongside Eldemur Krimm and Pigboat this Saturday, Aug. 6, at the aforementioned venue. Their announcement and the info for the show follows here, as well as the stream of the self-titled for anyone who’d like to hear what they missed:

murcielago

Murcielago (Last Show!) with Eldemur Krimm and Pigboat

Aug 6 at 9 PM

Portland House of Music and Events
25 Temple St, Portland, Maine 04101

We’ve decided to take a long bow after an excellent 7 year run. Thank You all who have come to our shows, bought our music and merchandise, and told your friends. We are grateful and humbled.

Many thanks to Nick Lamberto for getting us going, huge thanks to Benny Grotto and Mad Oak Studios for excellent work. Many thanks to the bands and promoters we’ve been lucky enough to work with during our time.

Come say goodnight to Murcielago as we send ourselves off with great friends Eldemur Krimm and Pigboat. We THANK YOU dearly for the years of support.

Neil Collins- bass, vocals
Ian Ross- guitar (right channel)
Matthew Robbins- guitar (left channel)
Brian Chaloux- drums

https://www.facebook.com/events/170782973337804/
https://www.facebook.com/murcielagorock/
https://murcielagorock.bandcamp.com/

Murcielago, Murcielago (2014)

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Buried Treasure: Ogre, Dawn of the Proto-Man and Seven Hells Reissues

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 27th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

ogre dawn of the proto-man and seven hells cds

One hesitates uniformly to toss out words like “definitive,” but it’s hard to imagine a descriptor more accurate for Minotauro Records‘ recent reissues of the first two albums — 2003’s Dawn of the Proto-Man and 2006’s Seven Hells — by Portland, Maine, traditional doomers Ogre. The Sabbathian trio called it quits for the second time last year, but far from bitter, these thick-stock LP-style gatefold digipaks carry an air of celebration for what was always an underrated band, and prove to be archive-worthy versions of what were arguably Ogre‘s two most landmark contributions to doom.

Both are limited to 500 copies. Dawn of the Proto-Man, the debut, includes an obi-strip, a CD sleeve liner, vertical gatefold art by drummer Will Broadbent and a two-sided foldout poster that includes a larger version of the gatefold art with characters from Ogre‘s lyrics all the way up to their 2014 swan song, The Last Neanderthal (review here), the album itself, of course, plus three bonus tracks, separate liner notes written by guitarist Ross Markonish, a sticker, credits and more art on the CD sleeve. All of which can be housed in the digipak that itself fits in a protective plastic sleeve.

Packaged similarly, Seven Hells is even more expansive. A six-panel gatefold houses the CD of the album as well as a DVD with two live shows, from 2007 and 2006, filmed at Geno’s in their hometown of Portland, plus a two-sided poster with photos from throughout the band’s tenure, including the 2008 tour that took them to Japan alongside Blood Farmers and Church of Misery, as well as pics from the studio, equipment shots, and so on. It also has an obi strip proclaiming its limited edition, liner notes from Markonish and art and info on the CD sleeve expanded from the Gustave Doré cover, as well as — like on the debut — the advice to “Listen to this album as loud as humanly possible!” which is about as sagely as wisdom gets when it comes to experiencing an Ogre record, whichever one it might happen to be.

They are, in short, gorgeous, and it’s rare to see a band in doom get their due in such a fitting manner. Bassist/vocalist Ed CunninghamMarkonish and Broadbent were as much ahead of their time in their Sabbath worship as they were behind it, and each of these discs seems to be heralding these records for the special documents that they are.

To wit:

Dawn of the Proto-Man (2003)

ogre dawn of the proto-man

What’s most striking about Ogre‘s first album 12 years on isn’t how well it holds up — it does, make no mistake — but how raw it is. Ogre‘s brand of doom on Dawn of the Proto-Man is about as barebones as you can get. Guitar, bass and drums are topped off with Cunningham‘s vocals, which veer into madman shouts of various sorts on “The Jaded Beast” and “Black Death,” but for the most part retain an Ozzy-style cadence. And maybe context has something to do with this, but listening to it now, Ogre don’t sound tentative through the first record at all. They’re completely willing to stand on this sans-frills foundation. Opener “Ogre” is a clarion of classic riffery, and the swing of “Colossus” and the faster, bass-led boogie of “78” showcase all the breadth Ogre would need, each track offering something distinct from the one before it, but serving an overarching album flow. The tones aren’t overly thick, but the groove they enact is, and between doom and classic heavy rock, Ogre carved their place in stone with a sense of poise that one rarely finds credited to bands who sing about monsters, invaders from the East, etc. Its epics, “The Jaded Beast” and “Black Death” branch out smoothly with Broadbent‘s steady roll and Markonish‘s righteous leads, and already one can hear the power trio dynamic at the heart of what Ogre would accomplish together. What was a 50-minute record here stretches to 79 with the three bonus tracks, which were recorded in 2000, and have a demo feel and rougher recording, but still show that Ogre knew where they wanted to take their sound even in their earliest going.

Seven Hells (2006)

ogre seven hells

Launching with “Dogmen (of Planet Earth),” which is one of Ogre‘s most signature tracks, their 2006 sophomore outing, Seven Hells expands on the debut’s straight-ahead doomly drive by proffering more classic fuzz in Markonish‘s tone and by and large longer, jammier tracks. They’re not out of “Dogmen” before an extended ripper of a solo has made an impression following the initial swing of the verses, Cunningham‘s vocals still by and large dry and forward in the mix, but even more assured. More than Dawn of the Proto-Man, Seven Hells carries the feel of a guitar album, but I won’t take away from the low-end heft or punctuating snare of “The Gas” either, though after the jams in “Dogmen” and the 10-minute “Soldier of Misfortune,” which follows, there’s plenty that would seem ground — though, to Ogre‘s credit, even “Soldier of Misfortune” gets reigned in for a final verse before continuing on its howling, classically-metallized over-the-top way. The notable Pentagram cover “Review Your Choices” is the only cut on Seven Hells under six minutes long, so wherever Ogre might be headed at any given moment, they give themselves plenty of time to get there, but the growth in chemistry and the personality they bring to the established tenets of classic doom throughout Seven Hells, even on that cover or in a choice rocker like “Woman on Fire,” which boasts Broadbent‘s best drum performance as well as a fluid tempo shift into a second-half slowdown, would make the album a standout even if the songs weren’t so memorable. They still had plenty of their Sabbathian core intact at this point — as they would for their whole career — but were clearly looking to make their own stamp as well, as shown in the strange stoner vibes late in “Sperm Whale” or the noise wash that takes hold as closer “Flesh Feast” draws down. The DVD, which present the two sets in reverse chronological order, has a host of selections from the two albums, as well as a killer take on Saint Vitus‘ “Mystic Lady” to close out the 2007 one. Maybe not for casual fans, but again, as a document of where they were at the time, of unquestionable value.

Minotauro released The Last Neanderthal in a similar style package, and whether or not that will actually prove to be Ogre‘s final offering, only time can show. With just their third album, 2008’s Plague of the Planet (review here), left unissued by the label, it seems likely it will show up sooner or later, though whether CunninghamMarkonish and Broadbent will make a return at that time, well, you get the idea. Whatever the future does or doesn’t bring, there’s little about Dawn of the Proto-Man or Seven Hells that these reissues leave unsaid, and for the obvious passion that went into producing them as well as for the songs themselves, they’re deeply admirable outings that deserve every bell and whistle they’ve been given.

Ogre, Dawn of the Proto-Man (2003)

Ogre, Seven Hells (2006)

Ogre on Thee Facebooks

Ogre on Bandcamp

Minotauro Records

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Ogre Reissue Dawn of the Proto-Man and Seven Hells

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

ogre

Minotauro Records, which also released Ogre‘s The Last Neanderthal (review here) in 2014, has overseen CD reissues for the Maine trio’s first two albums, 2003’s Dawn of the Proto-Man and 2006’s Seven Hells. Both come packaged in the style of the latest album, and Seven Hells has a bonus DVD included with two shows from Geno’s in their stomping ground of Portland, ME. Dawn of the Proto-Man includes a comic by drummer Will Broadbent and bonus tracks.

The perennially underrated Northern doomers originally put out their debut independently, while Seven Hells arrived through Japan’s Leaf Hound Records, and needless to say both have been out of print for some time. Minotauro has it like this:

ogre dawn of the proto-man seven hells

Ogre Update! Now available! The Last Neanderthal, Seven Hells, and Dawn of the Proto-Man!

CD Now Available at minotaurorecords.com!

All three CDs are packaged in deluxe Japanese-style mini LP packaging with tons of additional liner notes, pictures and expanded artwork, and custom OBI card.

“Dawn of the Proton-Man” has never-before-heard bonus tracks, and “Seven Hells” comes with a bonus DVD! Very limited. Get them while you can!

OGRE Seven Hells CD + DVD

Re-release with bonus DVD and expanded liner notes, containing two live shows from Portland’s (Maine) legendary Geno’s Rock Club. Mini LP gatefold Japanese style papersleeve packaging with custom OBI, poster. CD Track List: Dogmen (of Planet Earth), Soldier of Misfortune, The Gas, Woman on Fire, Review Your Choices, Sperm Whale, Flesh Feast

DVD: Live at Geno’s 2007 show: Dogmen (of Planet Earth), God of Iron, The River, Flesh Feast, Age of Ice, Mystic Lady

2006 show: Dogmen (of Planet Earth), Woman On Fire, The Gas, 78, Sperm Whale, Flesh Feast, Age of Ice

OGRE Dawn of the Proto-Man CD

Re-release with bonus tracks and expanded liner notes. Expanded artwork and original, never-before-seen Ogre comic strip by Ogre drummer Will Broadbent. Mini LP gatefold Japanese style papersleeve packaging with custom OBI, poster. Track List: Ogre, Colossus, 78, The Jaded Beast (out of the east, Invasion), Skeletonized, Suicide Ride, Black Death (i.de vermis mysteriis, ii.rats, lice, and history), The Jaded Beast (Bonus Track), Colonizer (Plague of the Planets)(Bonus Track), Black Death (Bonus Track)

https://www.facebook.com/Rockogre/
http://www.minotaurorecords.com/

Ogre, “Colossus”

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audiObelisk Transmission 042

Posted in Podcasts on November 26th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Tomorrow here in the US it is Thanksgiving, which has some questionable origins but in practice is actually one of our less-abominable holidays, with a focus on togetherness, good food, and enjoying the company of loved ones. Today, the day before, is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year while people get to wherever they’re going. Even if you don’t manage to find it until after the holiday is over, it seemed only fitting to make a new podcast so that anyone who might want to take it along for the ride would be able to do so.

My head has started to get into year-end wrap-up mode, so don’t be surprised if one or two or three of these bands show up in subsequent “Best Of” coverage. Maybe even four, looking at the list. It’s been a crazy good year, and as it starts to wind its way down and we make our way into the next one, I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to these podcasts and hopefully discovered something you wouldn’t have heard otherwise. That’s really the whole idea.

If you’re traveling by road, rail, or air, I wish you a pleasant journey, and even if you’re staying put, the same applies.

First Hour:
Stubb, “Heavy Blue Sky” from Cry of the Ocean
Murcielago, “Way too Far” from Murcielago
Dune, “Of Blade and Carapace” from Aurora Majesty
The Skull, “Send Judas Down” from For Those Which are Asleep
Elephant Tree, “Attack of the Altaica” from Theia
Renate/Cordate, “Laudanum” from Growth
Mothership, “Serpents Throne” from Mothership II
Space Guerrilla, “Event Horizon” from Boundless
Monster Magnet, “End of Time (B-3)” from Milking the Stars
Memnon Sa, “Megalith” from Citadel

Second Hour:
Soldat Hans, “Meine Liebste; Sie Zerbricht Sich” from Dress Rehearsal
Atavismo, “Meeh” from Desintegración
Øresund Space Collective, “Remnants of the Barbonaeum” from Music for Pogonologists

Total running time: 1:53:26

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 042

 

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Murcielago, Murcielago: Like Bricks

Posted in Reviews on November 25th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

murcielago murcielago

Listening to Murcielago‘s self-titled, self-released debut, it’s not a huge surprise that some of it comes across sounding akin to Boston heavy rock headliners Roadsaw. There are commonalities superficial and otherwise. First of all, their lineup boasts guitarist Ian Ross, who also plays in Roadsaw. The album was recorded by Benny Grotto, who has also helmed outings for Roadsaw, at Mad Oak Studios in Allston, Massachusetts, which is owned by Roadsaw vocalist Craig RiggsRiggs also makes a guest appearance on the boogie-fied penultimate cut, “Zora,” backing up bassist Neil Collins, who works in a somewhat likeminded style vocally at points throughout as well. And aside from the consistency of Ross‘ guitar tone and being demographically similar — at least the three-quarters of the band that’s not Ross; that part is demographically the same — the two acts share a core approach based around giving modern heavy interpretation to classic methods. As I understand it, Ross joined Murcielago after they had already been together for some time with Collins, guitarist/backing vocalist Matthew Robbins, who also sings lead on “Fairlane Swain” and took the photo on the cover, and drummer Brian Chaloux, so I don’t know where they were in terms of writing this material when he came aboard, but his tone, even in combination with Robbins‘, is recognizable. Murcielago distinguish themselves through what they do with their riff-led heavy grooves, and in the subtly brooding personality that emerges on cuts like opener “Bulldozers,” which leads off the 10-song/43-minute offering nestling quickly into a steady rolling groove that proves to be a specialty of Murcielago as the album progresses. Ultimately, if they prove anything across Murcielago‘s span, it’s that they know what they want sound-wise and they know how to make it a reality, which is more than a lot of “first albums” can offer.

If you’re a fan of unpretentious American heavy, Small Stone-style rock, there’s going to be little here with which to find argument. “Bulldozers” and “Money,” both right around six minutes, show off the fullness of sound Murcielago can harness when they so choose and the swing that they can bring to a rhythm, Collins giving away some punk roots in the chorus of the latter, which hits hard after a start-stop verse. Unsurprisingly for a two-guitar four-piece, there’s a good bit of soloing to be had, and Ross and Robbins trade off readily — the former in the right channel, the latter in the left — adding salt to “Money,” which but for “Fairlane Swain” is the longest track here at 6:01. “Cheebahawk,” which follows, is shorter and faster both, but not so far removed in spirit, its straightforward push, crisp cymbal sound and Collins‘ vocal command guiding from a riff-heavy beginning into a quick, semi-twanging midsection that presages some of what’s to come on “Smoke Season” before returning to the thick-toned riffs and a one-into-the-next solo from Robbins and Ross, leading to the last verse and chorus. When it arrives, “Smoke Season” is the first of three shorter pieces. It and the later “Like Bricks,” which provides a split between highlights “Way too Far” and “Fairlane Swain,” are interludes, and the backwards-cymbal-forwards-guitar “The Last Line” is the album’s outro after “Zora.” They get progressively longer until the last one, but the difference is “Smoke Season” is acoustic — Collins and Robbins working together on guitar — and it’s probably the most classic rock stretch of Murcielago, which is fitting since it kicks off a strong middle-third and comes before the fuzzed out “Don’t Do Nothin’,” Collins channeling his inner Riggs with just the right riff to do so over. One of the record’s most resonant hooks, “Don’t Do Nothing” gives way to the no-frills stomp-and-run of “Way too Far,” and the two make for an excellent pair, showing off some of Murcielago at their best.

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That said, Murcielago is also a record that becomes a richer listen as it goes on. If one looks at the tracklist as divisible into three sections, “Bulldozers,” “Money” and “Cheebahawk” make for a solid lead-in, “Smoke Season,” “Don’t Do Nothin’,” and the mega-catchy “Way too Far” push further into quality songwriting and begin to expand the instrumental scope, and with “Like Bricks” as an intro, “Fairlane Swain,” “Zora” and “The Last Line” show that they’re not afraid to shake up their own approach, whether it’s with Chaloux‘s backwards cymbals on the outro, bringing in Riggs on “Zora” — which seems to be about a two-year sailing trip undertaken by Collins from 2004 to 2006 — or Robbins taking lead vocal charge on “Fairlane Swain.” At 7:44, the latter strikes a balance between instrumental progression and a foundational hook revolving around the lines, “Heavy metal parking lot/Just a dimebag of shit pot…” describing scenes taken from what seems to be personal reference — a photo of a 1966 Ford Fairlane provided by and presumably featuring one Steve Swain flipping off the camera is included in one of the inside panels of the six-panel digipak — atop a riff that’s just about universal before delivering the title line with underclassman’s reverence to a classic image of cool. Or is it contempt? Either way, the album’s instrumental payoff follows, built from the ground up and boasting highlight guitar work from both Robbins and Ross, and “Zora” gives a Dozer-worthy last kick in the ass before the quiet psych-bluesy “The Last Line” caps off a record that doesn’t seem to want to end. Fair enough, but by the time it gets there, Murcielago‘s Murcielago can’t be accused of leaving something unsaid. Rather, the foursome’s debut delivers a complete-album feel and a vibe that develops as it unfolds and helps greatly to individualize the band. Whatever, and whoever, they may share, Murcielago leave their first long-player behind them having given the listener a sense of who they are musically and what they want to accomplish here and going forward stylistically. They’re not green as musicians and they don’t sound like it, but the self-titled neither lacks pulse nor wants anything for songwriting.

Murcielago, “Way too Far”

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Murcielago on Bandcamp

Murcielago at Bull Moose Records

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