Quarterly Review: Holy Sons, WEEED, Mala Suerte, Eternal Black, Were-Jaguars, Vinnum Sabbathi & Bar de Monjas, Black Tremor, Aave, Derelics, Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Day one down, four more days to go. I forget each time how different it is writing shorter reviews as opposed to the usual longer ones, but kind of refreshing to bust through something, force myself to say what needs to be said as efficiently as possible and move on. Reminds me of working in print, with word counts and such. Only so much room on the page. Not something that usually comes up around these parts, but I guess it’s good to keep that muscle from complete atrophy. Though taking that line of thought to its natural conclusion, I have no idea why. Anyway, feeling good, ready to take on another 10 records, so let’s roll.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #11-20:

Holy Sons, Fall of Man

holy sons fall of man

It would be hard to overstate the smoothness with which Emil Amos, who serves integral creative and percussive roles in both Grails and Om, brings different styles together on Fall of Man, his second album for Thrill Jockey under the Holy Sons solo moniker and upwards of his 11th overall. An overriding melancholy vibe suits dark, progressive pop elements on the opener “Mercenary World,” Amos at the fore playing all instruments and still vocalizing like a singer-songwriter, while the later wash of “Being Possessed is Easy” takes on ‘90s indie fragility and turns what was purposeful minimalism into an expanse of melody and “Discipline” creeps out lyrically while forming experimentalist soundscapes around a steady line of acoustic guitar. Joined by bassist Brian Markham and drummer Adam Bulgasem on “Aged Wine” – the only other players to appear anywhere on Fall of ManAmos leads the trio through soaring leads and heavier crashing to give the album a crescendo worthy of its scope, which while astounding on deeper inspection presents itself with simple, classic humility.

Holy Sons on Thee Facebooks

Holy Sons at Thrill Jockey

WEEED, Our Guru Leads us to the Black Master Sabbath


From the opening drone-groan throat-singing of the 14-minute “Dogma Dissolver,” it seems like not-quite-Seattle trio Weeed are making a run for the title “Most Stoned of the Stoner” with their second full-length, Our Guru Leads us to the Black Master Sabbath. They earn that extra ‘e.’ A double-LP on Illuminasty Records, the album is a 54-minute trip into low tone and deep-running vibe, spaced way out, and well at home whether jamming heavy and hypnotized on “Rainbow Amplifier Worship” – a highlight bassline – or nestling into an ambient stretch like “Bullfrog” preceding. Mostly instrumental, Weeed hit their most active in “Enuma Elish” and then chill and strip back to acoustics and sax (yup) for the Eastern-flavored “Caravan Spliff,” bringing back the throat-singing in the process. How else to finish such a work than with the 15-minute “Nature’s Green Magic,” a 15-minute push along a single build that goes from minimal, pastoral acoustics to nod-on-this megastoner riffing? Weeed might be going for the gold, but they end up in the green, and somehow one imagines they’ll be alright with that. They get super-ultra-bonus points for sounding like Kyuss not even a little.

WEEED on Thee Facebooks

WEEED on Bandcamp

Mala Suerte, Rituals of Self Destruction

mala suerte rituals of self destruction

Formed in 1999 and having made their full-length debut a decade later with The Shadow Tradition (review here), last heard from in a 2012 split with Boise’s Uzala (review here), Austin, Texas, doomly five-piece Mala Suerte return with the 10-track Rituals of Self Destruction, which moves past its four-minute intro into chugging The Obsessed-style trad doom with a touch of Southern heavy à la Crowbar and a generally metallic spirit in cuts like “Utopic Delusions” that gets expanded on later cuts like the swirling, crawling almost Cathedral-ish “Labyrinth of Solitude.” Comprised of forward-mixed vocalist Gary Rosas, guitarists David Guerrero and Vincent Pina, bassist Mike Reed and drummer Chris Chapa (now John Petri), Mala Suerte sound as rueful as ever across the album’s span, rounding out with the hardcore sludge of “Successful Failure” and “The Recluse,” which builds from slow, brooding chug to a more riotous finish. It’s been a while, but it’s good to have them back.

Mala Suerte on Thee Facebooks

Mala Suerte on Bandcamp

Eternal Black, Eternal Black

eternal black eternal black

Guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob leads Brooklyn’s Eternal Black through the riffy doom of their debut self-titled three-track EP. Unpretentious in the style’s tradition, the trio is anchored by Hal Miller’s bass and pushed forward by the drums of Joe “The Prince of Long Island” Wood (also of Borgo Pass), the rolling groove of Sabbathian opener “Obsidian Sky” setting the tone for straightforward, few-frills darkness, and Eternal Black follow it up with the workingman’s doom of “The Dead Die Hard” and “Armageddon’s Embrace,” the former started out with an extra lead layer before it unfurls the EP/demo’s most satisfying crawl, and the latter a little more swinging, but still Iommic metal at its core, Wohlrob’s gruff vocal and Wino-style riff backed by Miller’s deep-mixed rumble as Wood goes to the cowbell/woodblock (it’s one or the other) during the guitar solo. Even if Joe Wood wasn’t one of the best human beings I’d ever met, it would still be pretty easy to dig what these cats are doing, and it’ll be worth keeping an eye for how they follow this first installment.

Eternal Black on Thee Facebooks

Eternal Black on Bandcamp

Were-Jaguars, II

were-jaguars ii

Austin, Texas-based trio Were-Jaguars have already issued a follow-up EP to their earlier-2015 second album, II, but from its opening and longest track “Between the Armies” (immediate points), the three-piece dig into weirdo psych vibes and dense tones across their latest full-length, released through respected Russian purveyor R.A.I.G. Not at all a minor undertaking at 13 tracks, 68 minutes, it gets into garage ritualism in “Let My Breath be the Air” and unfolds immediate doomadelia on “Bishop Kills Enchanter,” but if you need confirmation that Were-Jaguars – the three-piece of Chad Rauschenberg, James Adkisson and Rick McConnell – aren’t just screwing around in these songs and lucking into a righteous result, let it come on the later “Lost Soul,” which melds a flowing instrumental roll to a host of spiritual and pseudo-spiritual samples, loses itself completely, and then returns at the end to finish cohesive, engagingly complex and sure in the knowledge that all has gone to plan. Figuring out what that plan is can be a challenge at times, but it’s there.

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Vinnum Sabbathi & Bar de Monjas, Fuzzonaut Split


The Fuzzonaut split between Mexico’s Vinnum Sabbathi and Bar de Monjas takes its name from the closing track, provided by the latter act, but it serves as a fitting title for the work as a whole as well. Vinnum Sabbathi launch the six-track offering with “HEX I: The Mastery of Space,” a slow-rolling instrumental topped by samples pulled from rocket launches, and after the 1:45 droning interlude “Intermission (Fluctuations),” they melt their way into the companion “HEX II: Foundation Pioneers,” doomier in its chug, but similarly-minded overall in intent, with the warm bass, copious samples, and planet-sized riffing. Though their portion is shorter overall, Bar de Monjas answer back with relatively upbeat push in “Hot Rail,” winding up in stoner rock janga-janga before stomping their way into “The Ripper,” cowbelling there as part of an impressively percussed spin and capping with “Fuzzonaut” itself, a shroomy 7:45 creeper with big-riff bursts that rises and recedes effectively, ending with a long residual hum.

Vinnum Sabbathi on Thee Facebooks

Bar de Monjas on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzonaut on Bandcamp

Black Tremor, Impending

black tremor impending

An immediate touchstone for the droning pastoral drear that Saskatoon three-piece Black Tremor elicit on their four-song debut EP, Impending, is Earth’s HEX: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, but the newcomer trio distinguish themselves immediately with an approach that replaces guitar with violin, so that not only can Black Tremor tie into these atmospheres, they can do so in a way that speak to country roots in a way their forebears didn’t at the time date. Bassist Alex Deighton, violinist Amanda Bestvater and drummer Brennan Rutherford have only just begun the work of developing their sound, but already nine-minute opener “The Church” and its buzzing follow-up “Rise” prove evocative and come across as more than exercises in ambience. “Markhor” hits with an even heavier roll and an almost Melvinsy undertone, while the title-track makes its way through horse-trod mud to emerge at the end not only clean but positively bouncing. It’s still pretty dark, but they’ve given themselves a vast Canadian Midwestern expanse to explore.

Black Tremor on Thee Facebooks

Black Tremor on Bandcamp

Aave, There’s Nothing

aave there's nothing

A bright tonal bliss pervades There’s Nothing, the Rock Ridge Music debut long-player from Nashville all-lowercase psychedelic post-rockers aave. The band court indie progressivism across the album’s eight component tracks, but with just one song over four minutes long – closer “Turn Me Off” (4:30) – there’s little about it that feels overly indulgent or beyond the pale stylistically. That is to say that while aave set a sonic course for great distances, they get to where they’re going efficiently and don’t hang around too long in one place. That has its ups and downs in terms of vibe, but the resonant vocal melodies of “Nothing Here” – hard not to be reminded of Mars Red Sky’s sweet emotionality, but there are other comparisons one might make – the focus remains grounded in an accessibility that goes beyond getting lost in dreamy guitars. Aesthetically satisfying, they find an intense moment in the later thrust of “Blender,” but even that retains the overarching wistful sensibility of what’s come before and that unites the material throughout.

aave on Thee Facebooks

Rock Ridge Music

Derelics, Introducing

derelics introducing

Spacious, melodic and entrancingly heavy, Derelics’ debut EP, Introducing, indeed makes a formidable opening statement, and in a crowded London scene of post-Orange Goblin burl and Downy sludge, the trio set more progressive ambitions across “To Brunehilde,” “California” and “Ride the Fuckin’ Snake to Valhalla,” psych-funking up the centerpiece after the grooving largesse of the opener en route to the wider-spreading tones of the closer, guitarist/vocalist Reno cutting through his and bassist Nacim’s tones easily with higher-register vocals that push the limits of his range as he encourages one to “ride that fuckin’ snake,” before cutting out to let drummer Rich lead the charge with toms through a build-up bridge that returns to the echoing fullness conjured earlier, ending on a long-fading organ note. An encouraging first offering from the three-piece, and hopefully they continue develop along an original-sounding path as they move ahead. Already they seem to show a knack for melding atmospherics and songwriting toward the same ends.

Derelics on Thee Facebooks

Derelics on Bandcamp

Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, Desert Brain

sisters of your sunshine vapor desert brain

True to its krautrock-style cover art, Desert Brain, the third outing from Detroit’s Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, has an element of prog at work within its psychedelic unfolding. But that’s reasonable. With four years since their second release, Spectra Spirit (review here), and the inclusion of bassist/keyboardist Eric Oppitz and drummer Rick Sawoscinski with guitarist/vocalist Sean Morrow, the dynamic in the band has legitimately shifted, even though Oppitz (who also did the aforementioned cover art) has recorded all three of their records. Still, they keep the proceedings fluid across the two vinyl sides, finding their inner garage on “Major Medicine” and tripping out easy on “What’s Your Cloud Nine, 37?” on side A before digging in with fuzz and push on side B’s “The Prettiest Sounds of Purgatory” and stretching into ritual stomp on the title cut. All the while, they’re drenched in vibe and a flow that’s languid even as it’s running you over, and while some songs barely have a chorus, they implant themselves in the mind anyway, almost subliminally.

Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor on Thee Facebooks

Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor on Bandcamp

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audiObelisk: Stream Uzala & Mala Suerte’s New Split 7″ in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on November 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

In mid-November, King of the Monsters Records will release a new split 7″ between Uzala and Mala Suerte. Now, if like me you’ve lost all sense of time and space, that sounds like a really long way away, but you’ll pardon if I blow your mind and say that mid-November is next week. So yeah, it’s sooner than you might think.

This isn’t the first time I’ve streamed material from Uzala. The Boise, Idaho/Portland, Oregon, psychedowner four-piece premiered the cassette-only “Cataract” from their self-titled debut here late last year, and it was awesome. Their album was unremittingly atmospheric, biting fuzz off Electric Wizard and adding a touch of newer West Coast fuckall, Darcy Nutt‘s vocals keeping a mystique in the croon while bassist Nick Phit (ex-Graves at Sea) thickened the tonal lurch into a fine oozing mess.

Their new track for this split, dubbed “Burned,” follows a similar but developed course, and pairs well with the more stripped down riffing of Austin, Texas-based doomers Mala Suerte. The cut they contribute, “The Veil of Secrecy,” takes a conspiracy-minded political bent, calling for — among other things — an end to the Federal Reserve, vocalist Gary Rosas noting in its opening lines that, “The road to Utopia is paved/With the bones and blood of the common man.” I guess that settles that.

When I posted the news that this split 7″ was coming, the response cool enough that I asked permission to host the release in its entirety for streaming, and I was lucky enough that said permission was granted. You’ll find “Burned” and “The Veil of Secrecy” on the player below, followed by info from the PR wire and a preorder link. Dig it:


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


King of the Monsters has announced the upcoming release of one of the heaviest splits of 2012 – a 7″ collaboration between Boise fuzz-doom shamans UZALA and Austin, TX’s own psych-minded doom fiends MALA SUERTEPreorders are now up on the label website, and orders will ship in early November. The split features a brand-new track from each band, as well as mind-blowing cover art, courtesy of UZALA chanteuse, axe-slinger, and celebrated tattoo artist Darcy Nutt and MALA SUERTE vocalist Gary Rosas.

The release is limited to 500 copies, with the first 100 available on black/white split vinyl and the remaining 400 entombed in obsidian black.

MALA SUERTE’S “The Veil of Secrecy” is an older fan favorite, recorded in winter 2012. The UZALA song was recorded at Type Foundry in Portland, OR in August 2011 with Alex Yusimov at the helm, mixed by Blake Green at WOLVSERPENT STUDIOS, and mastered by Mell Dettmer. 

Preorder here: http://kingofthemonstersrecords.bigcartel.com/product/uzala-mala-suerte-split-7-preorder

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Uzala and Mala Suerte Team up for Split 7″ Due Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been a while since we heard anything from the camp of Austin, Texas-based doomers Mala Suerte, whose 2009 offering, The Shadow Tradition (review here), still gets broken out for periodic plays. But the PR wire brings the latest! It seems as though they’ve teamed up with Boise cult wizards Uzala (track stream here) for a split 7″ that’ll be out on King of the Monsters Records next month.

Behold the story, preorder link and whathaveyou:

Doom Sorcerers UZALA Announce Split w/ Sludge Destroyers MALA SUERTE via King of the Monsters

King of the Monsters has just announced the upcoming release of one of the heaviest splits of 2012 – a 7″ collaboration between Boise fuzz-doom shamans UZALA and Austin, TX’s own psych-minded doom fiends MALA SUERTE. Preorders are now up on the label website, and orders will ship in early November. The split features a brand-new track from each band, as well as mind-blowing cover art, courtesy of UZALA chanteuse, axe-slinger, and celebrated tattoo artist Darcy Nutt and MALA SUERTE vocalist Gary Rosas.

The release is limited to 500 copies, with the first 100 available on black/white split vinyl and the remaining 400 entombed in obsidian black.

MALA SUERTE’S “The Veil of Secrecy” is an older fan favorite, recorded in winter 2010. The UZALA song was recorded at Type Foundry in Portland, OR in August 2011 with Alex Yusimov at the helm, mixed by Blake Green at WOLVSERPENT STUDIOS, and mastered by Mell Dettmer.

Uzala – Burned
Mala Suerte – The Veil of Secrecy

Preorder here: http://kingofthemonstersrecords.bigcartel.com/product/uzala-mala-suerte-split-7-preorder

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Las Tradiciones Sombrasas de Mala Suerte

Posted in Reviews on December 18th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster

This is really just the middle piece in a kickass three-panel bit of artwork. It's actually really cool in that "drawn on my notebook" kind of way.When it comes to doom in Austin, Texas, most people will point you in the direction of either the commercially successful haircut metal of The Sword or the hipster arthouse sludge of The Roller. Well, Mala Suerte have been around longer than either of them and when it comes to pure doom execution, absolutely smoke both bands. The Austin four-piece are a mainstay at the SXSW music festival, which is how I stumbled on them a few years back, and I’ve been a fan ever since. I even bought the t-shirt. So, you know, impartiality: fuck it.

The Shadow Tradition (out through a label called Illwill, which one assumes is not the same as that owned by the rapper Nas) is listed as their first full-length, though the compilation of their Non-Serviam demo and the track “Self-Deprecation and Loathing” from their split with Coffins hit 35 minutes, and if it weren’t for the added 20 minutes of the closing title track, The Shadow Tradition would be about the same length. That’s not to discount the closer at all, I’m just trying to make a line between the two releases. “The Shadow Tradition” is a doom epic in every sense of the phrase.

Those seeking a comparison point for Mala Suerte need look no further than Cathedral at their doomiest. In both the occult subject matter and in the vocals of Gary Rosas, there’s a clear Lee Dorrian influence, but Rosas has a gruffer, shouting delivery and the music he sings over holds a masterful middle pace. Drummer John Petri is able to keep guitarist David Guerrero and bassist Mike Reed in line at a rate that’s slow compared to most of what passes for doom these days, but rarely falling into something so slow as the funereal. Of course, tempo changes come and go, but there’s always enough movement in the songs for The Shadow Tradition to keep an undercurrent of rock and groove, which works greatly to the album’s advantage.

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