Sgt. Sunshine, Plataformas: Staying Sane

Posted in Reviews on January 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sgt sunshine plataformas

Sweden’s Sgt. Sunshine are the ones who make it a party. Before they show up, everyone’s just kind of standing around, milling about, maybe chatting awkwardly at this or that issue of the day. Then, every couple of years, the Malmö-based troupe burst through the wall like the Kool-Aid guy with a new record and everybody remembers, “Oh shit, yeah! This is supposed to be fun!”

Plataformas is their latest reminder in this regard. It’s the fourth album overall in a career that now reaches well beyond a decade and a half, and its late-2016 self-release comes just three years behind Elektrohasch‘s 2013 issue of the preceding III (review here), which marked a return after six years. Comprised of 11 tracks, its 38-minute run is utterly defined by the manner in which it flows from one piece to the next so that by the time it gets down to “High Tide (100,000 LYW)” at the start of what’s almost certainly an intended side B — I haven’t seen word of a vinyl release, but it feels somewhat inevitable and the structure suits that purpose — the feel is more like the beginning of a medley than a collection of six individual tracks.

Likewise, founding guitarist/vocalist Eduardo Rodriguez — who plays bass here as well, working with drummer Roberto Sundin — frontloads the early-going with some of Plataformas‘ most memorable hooks in the opening salvo of “Ana Mazing,” “Mary Jane (Keeps You Sane)” and “Words of Wisdom” while also setting up the fluidity that continues to flesh out as “Bone Stake” and the dreamy “Love Unkind” slide deeper into a stylistic blend that pushes beyond genre bounds even as it plays to the stoner idolatry of “Mary Jane (Keeps You Sane).”

That song, the sleaze riff bounce of “Words of Wisdom” and “Bone Stake” touch on influences from funk and hip-hop that “Ana Mazing” hinted toward in its vocal patterning as well, but the vibe remains central, and Rodriguez assures throughout that nothing interrupts. A loose sensibility of groove has always been a huge part of Sgt. Sunshine‘s aesthetic, and that’s perhaps true even more on Plataformas than it’s ever been before — one can rightly think of a song like “Rio Rojas” from their landmark 2003 self-titled debut (discussed here) as a precursor to what “Ana Mazing” and “Words of Wisdom” accomplish — but along with that, one has to recognize the conscious effort on the part of Rodriguez and the band as a whole to bring that forward as done in these tracks.

sgt. sunshine

The fact that Sgt. Sunshine seem so comfortable as they shift from the winding, fuzzy end of “Ana Mazing” into the drum intro of the languidly nodding “Mary Jane (Keeps You Sane)” and from the rhythmically jammy “Surrender then Enter” through “How Can I Mend It” and into the two-minute acoustic and organ-infused “Golden” on side B only makes the listener more at home in these transitions, and there isn’t a moment on Plataformas that pulls one out of the overarching groove of the experience. Bands try to create a “whole-album” feel all the time, and some get there and some don’t, but rarely does an act do so with the kind of cohesive-but-molten duality of Sgt. Sunshine‘s fourth long-player, so that songs like the aforementioned “Golden” or the earlier drift of “Love Unkind” — probably the most psychedelic of the inclusions here, and one on which Rodriguez also drums, as he also does on “High Tide (100,000 LYW)” — have an almost tossed-off sensibility, like the band hit record in the studio, picked up their instruments, that’s what came out, and they decided to keep it because, well, it was lunchtime and there were other things to do that afternoon.

Of course, since Rodriguez is handling multiple instruments as well as vocals, that can’t at all be the way it happened. Bottom line is Sgt. Sunshine have taken something incredibly difficult to pull off and made it sound easy. And not in a sneaky manner, where Rodriguez is secretly telegraphing progressive undertones all the while or anything like that. The crunchier riff of “Bone Stake” and the full-on, bring-the-vocals-way-forward, ultra-catchy Brant Bjork-ian desertism of the penultimate “Got to Have You” are executed without pretense of any kind, and one finds as a result that the take-it-easy pacing of “How Can I Mend It” winds up much truer to the soul of the MC5 than any amount of garage posturing or vintage gear could’ve brought it.

Organics as a goal aren’t necessarily anything new for heavy psychedelia, but Plataformas isn’t just a heavy psych record, and Sgt. Sunshine‘s range shows itself through these pieces in a way that moves decisively forward from even where III found them a couple years ago, while sounding like a collection of off-the-cuff hooks and jams while actually most likely being the result of a meticulous recording process. The depth of this achievement is as pivotal to recognize as it is understated on the album itself, which again, is way more focused on the party it just started.

When “Surrender then Enter” starts and stops, so does the listener, and when closer “Walk Alone” brings around its linear build of earliest Queens of the Stone Age righteousness, the effect is suitably engaging to round out what’s been a journey of considerable distance, subtle efficiency and nuance distinct largely unto itself despite the appearance throughout of familiar elements. It does not seem unreasonable to think it benefits from Rodriguez‘s and the band’s years of experience, but even in doing so it remains forward-looking, more about what where it can go than where Sgt. Sunshine have been before, and as a result, they can and do go just about anywhere. An open flow, memorable songcraft, and tight performances of loose-spirited swing — there’s more complexity to Plataformas than even the album itself seems to know, and that’s exactly what makes it such a triumph.

Sgt. Sunshine, Plataformas (2016)

Sgt. Sunshine on Thee Facebooks

Sgt. Sunshine on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Hornss, Khemmis, Fox 45, Monolith Wielder, No Man’s Valley, Saturna, Spotlights, MØLK, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Moon Coven

Posted in Reviews on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

2016 ends and 2017 starts off on the right foot with a brand new Quarterly Review roundup. The first time I ever did one of these was at the end of 2014 and I called the feature ‘Last Licks.’ Fortunately, I’ve moved on from that name, but that is kind of how I’m thinking about this particular Quarterly Review. You’ll find stuff that came out spread all across 2016, early, middle, late, but basically what I’m trying to do here is get to a point where it’s not March and I’m still reviewing albums from November. Will it work? Probably not, but in order to try my damnedest to make it do so anyway, I’m making this Quarterly Review six full days. Monday to Monday instead of Monday to Friday. 60 reviews in six posts. Sounds like madness because it is madness. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Hornss, Telepath

hornss telepath

San Francisco trio Hornss debuted on RidingEasy Records with 2014’s No Blood No Sympathy (review here) and further their raw genre blend on Telepath, their half-hour follow-up LP delivered via STB, melding heavy punk and metallic impulses to a noisy, thick-toned thrust on songs like “Atrophic” and the bouncing “Sargasso Heart” while opener “St. Genevieve” and the penultimate “Old Ghosts” dig into more stonerly nod. The latter track is the longest inclusion on the record at 3:26, and with 11 cuts there’s plenty of jumping between impulses to be done, but the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha, bassist/vocalist Nick Nava – both formerly of desert punkers Solarfeast – and drummer Bil Bowman (ex-Zodiac Killers) work effectively and efficiently to cast an identity for themselves within the tumult. It’s one that finds them reveling in the absence of pretense and the sometimes-caustic vibes of songs like “Leaving Thermal,” which nonetheless boast an underlying catchiness, speaking to a progression from the first album.

Hornss on Thee Facebooks

STB Records store

 

Khemmis, Hunted

khemmis hunted

Easily justifiable decision on the part of Denver’s Khemmis to return to Flatline Audio and producer Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, etc.) for their second album, Hunted. No reason to fix what clearly wasn’t broken about their 2015 debut, Absolution (review here), and on the 20 Buck Spin Records release, they don’t. A year later, the four-piece instead build on the doomly grandeur of the first outing and push forward in aesthetic, confidence and purpose, whether that’s shown in mournful opener “Above the Water,” the darker “Candlelight” that follows, or the centerpiece “Three Gates,” which opens as muddied death metal before shifting into a cleaner chorus, creating a rare bridge between doom and modern metal. Khemmis save the most resonant crush for side B, however, with the nine-minute “Beyond the Door” capping with vicious stomp before the 13-minute title-track, which closes the album with an urgency that bleeds even into spacious and melodic break that sets up the final apex to come, as emotionally charged as it is pummeling.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Fox 45, Ashes of Man

fox 45 ashes of man

In addition to the outright charm of titles like “Doominati,” “Coup d’étwat,” “Murdercycle” and “Urinal Acid” (the latter a bonus track), Rochester, New York’s Fox 45 offer fuzzy roll on their Twin Earth Records debut full-length, Ashes of Man, the three-piece of Amanda Rampe, Vicky Tee and Casey Learch finding space for themselves between the post-Acid King nod of “Necromancing the Stone” and more swing-prone movements like the relatively brief “Soul Gourmandizer.” Playing back and forth between longer and shorter tracks gives Ashes of Man a depth of character – particularly encouraging since it’s Fox 45’s first record – and the low-end push that leads “Phoenix Tongue” alone is worth the price of admission, let alone the familiar-in-the-right-ways straightforward heavy riffing of “Narcissister” a short while later. Very much a debut, but one that sets up a grunge-style songwriting foundation on which to build as they move forward, and Fox 45 seem to have an eye toward doing precisely that.

Fox 45 on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Monolith Wielder, Monolith Wielder

monolith wielder self titled

Double-guitar Pittsburgh four-piece Monolith Wielder make their self-titled debut through Italian imprint Argonauta Records, bringing together Molasses Barge guitarist Justin Gizzi and Zom guitarist/vocalist Gero von Dehn with bassist Ray Ward (since replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Ben Zerbe (also Mandrake Project) for 10 straightforward tracks that draw together classic Sabbathian doom with post-grunge heavy rock roll. There’s a workingman’s sensibility to the riffing of “No Hope No Fear” and the earlier, more ‘90s moodiness of “Angels Hide” – von Dehn’s vocals over the thick tones almost brings to mind Sevendust on that particularly catchy chorus – but Monolith Wielder’s Monolith Wielder isn’t shy about bringing atmospherics to the Iommic thrust of its eponymous cut or the penultimate “King Under Fire,” which recalls the self-titled Alice in Chains in its unfolding bleakness before closer “Electric Hessian” finishes with a slight uptick in pace and a fade out and back in (and a last sample) that hints at more to come.

Monolith Wielder on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

No Man’s Valley, Time Travel

no man's valley time travel

The stomp and clap intro “The Man Who Would be King” casts an immediately bluesy hue on No Man’s Valley’s debut album, Time Travel (LP release on Nasoni), and the Netherlands-based five-piece seem only too happy to build on that from there. It’s a blend outfits like The Flying Eyes and Suns of Thyme have proffered for several years now between heavy psychedelia and blues, but No Man’s Valley find a niche for themselves in the dreamy and patient execution of “Sinking the Lifeboat,” a highlight of the eight-track/33-minute LP, and bring due personality to the classic-style jangle-and-swing of “The Wolves are Coming” as well, so that Time Travel winds up more textured than redundant as it makes its way toward six-minute piano-laden finale “Goon.” Once there, they follow a linear course with a post-All Them Witches looseness that solidifies into a resonant and deeply engaging apex, underscoring the impressive reach No Man’s Valley have brought to bear across this first LP of hopefully many to come.

No Man’s Valley on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Saturna, III/Lost in Time

saturna lost in time

Barcelona classic rocking four-piece Saturna seem to avoid the boogie trap when they want to, as on the more rolling, modern heavy groove of “Five Fools,” and that keeps their World in Sound/PRC Music third album, III/Lost in Time, from being too predictable after the opening “Tired to Fight” seems to set up Thin Lizzy idolatry. They dip into more complex fare on “Leave it All,” somewhere between Skynyrd leads, Deep Purple organ-isms topped with a rousing hook, but keep some shuffle on songs like “Disease” and the earlier “All Has Been Great.” Highlight/closer “Place for Our Soul” seems to be literal in its title, with a more subdued approach and harmonized vocal delivery, and listening to its more patient delivery one can’t help but wonder why that soul should be relegated to the end of the album instead of featured throughout, but the songwriting is solid and the delivery confident, so while familiar, there’s ultimately little to complain about with what III/Lost in Time offers.

Saturna on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound website

 

MØLK, Hate from the Bong

molk hate from the bong

Especially with the title of their second EP set as Hate from the Bong, one might be tempted to put Belgian outfit MØLK immediately in the same category of malevolent stoner/sludge metal as the likes of Bongripper, but frankly they sound like they’re having too much fun for that on the five-tracker, reveling in lyrical shenanigans on the politically suspect “Stonefish” and opener “Methamphetamine.” Make no mistake, they’re suitably druggy, but even Hate from the Bong’s title-track seems to keep its tongue in cheek as it unfolds its post-Electric Wizard echoes and tonal morass. That gives the five-piece an honest vibe – they’re a relatively new band, having released their first EP in 2016 as well; why shouldn’t they be having a good time? – to coincide with all that thickened low end and vocal reverb, and though they’re obviously growing, there isn’t much more I’d ask of them from a debut full-length, which is a task they sound ready to take on in these songs.

MØLK on Thee Facebooks

MØLK on Bandcamp

 

Psychedelic Witchcraft, The Vision

psychedelic witchcraft the vision

Italian cult rock outfit Psychedelic Witchcraft have proven somewhat difficult to keep up with over the last year-plus. As they’ve hooked up with Soulseller Records and reissued their Black Magic Man EP (review here), their full-length debut, The Vision, and already announced a follow-up compilation in 2017’s Magick Rites and Spells, the band consistently work to feature the vocals of Virginia Monti (also Dead Witches) amid semi-retro ‘70s-style boogie, as heard on the debut in cuts like “Witches Arise” and “Wicked Ways.” At nine tracks/34 minutes, however, The Vision is deceptively efficient, and though they’re unquestionably playing to style, Psychedelic Witchcraft find room to vary moods on “The Night” and the subdued strum of “The Only One Who Knows,” keeping some sonic diversity while staying largely on-theme lyrically. To call the album cohesive is underselling its purposefulness, but the question is how the band will build on the bluesy soulfulness of “Magic Hour Blues” now that they’ve set this progression in motion. Doesn’t seem like it will be all that long before we find out.

Psychedelic Witchcraft on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records website

 

Spotlights, Spiders EP

spotlights spiders

Following the heavy post-rock wash of their 2016 debut album, Tidals, Brooklynite two-piece Spotlights – bassist/guitarist/vocalist Sarah Quintero and guitarist/synthesis/vocalist Mario Quintero – return on the quick with a three-track EP, Spiders, and set themselves toward further sonic expansion. The centerpiece “She Spider” is a Mew cover, electronic beats back opener “A Box of Talking Heads V2” and the spacious closer “Joseph” is a track from Tidals remixed by former Isis drummer Aaron Harris. So, perhaps needless to say, they hit that “expansion” mark pretty head-on. The finale turns out to be the high point, more cinematic in its ambience, but still moving through with an underlying rhythm to the wash of what one might otherwise call drones before becoming more deeply post-Nine Inch Nails in its back half. How many of these elements might show up on Spotlights’ next record, I wouldn’t guess, but the band takes an important step by letting listeners know the potential is there, adding three wings onto their wheelhouse in three tracks, which is as efficient conceptually as it is sonically immersive.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Spotlights on Bandcamp

 

Moon Coven, Moon Coven

moon coven self-titled

This self-titled second full-length from Malmö, Sweden-based Moon Coven begins with its longest track (immediate points) in “Storm” and works quickly to nail down a far-reaching meld between heavy psych and riffy density. Issued through the much-respected Transubstans Records, it’s a nine-track/50-minute push that can feel unipolar on an initial listen, but largely avoids that trap through tonal hypnosis and fluid shifts into and out of jams on cuts like “The Third Eye,” while centerpiece “Haramukh High” provides a solidified moment before the organ interlude “The Ice Temple” leads into the mega-roll of finisher “White Sun.” What seems to be a brooding sensibility from the artwork – a striking departure from their 2014 debut, Amanita Kingdom – is actually a far more colorful affair than it might at first appear, and well justifies the investment of repeat visits in the far-out nod of “Conspiracy” and the swirling “Winter,” which goes so far as to add melodic texture in the vocals and notably fuzzed guitar, doing much to bolster the proceedings and overarching groove.

Moon Coven on Thee Facebooks

Transubstans Records

 

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Moon Coven Release Self-Titled LP on Transubstans Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

moon-coven

So although the PR wire info below lists it as coming soon, it seems like Moon Coven‘s self-titled sophomore outing is actually available to order now — as in right now, today — through Transubstans Records. The Swedish psych outfit offered up their debut, Amanita Kingdom, in 2014, and seem to have posted the self-titled earlier this fall, at the start of November, for at least partial streaming. It’s streaming in full now, as well as available via name-your-price download on Bandcamp, but after checking out the roll of album-centerpiece “Haramukh High,” you may indeed find yourself craving the full experience. You won’t hear me argue against that impulse, at very least.

You can dig into the vibes of the full stream below and see where you’re at with it, but in my experience there are few around whose tastes are as reliable as Transubstans. When they get behind something, it’s almost never happenstance.

Goes like this:

moon-coven-moon-coven

Transubstans Records: OUT SOON: MOON COVEN – S/T

Almost three years after the critically acclaimed debut album, “Amanita Kingdom”, MOON COVEN returns! Stronger and heavier than ever. Expect a psychedelic journey to the unknown grounds of your brain while experiencing a healthy dose of the deadliest sludge out there. The band comes back with their self titled effort and it’s clear they’ve taken their ambient ambitions to a whole new level. Prepare to become dazed, prepare to be strung out. Prepare for MOON COVEN!!

Tracklist:
01 Storm (listen)
02 Old Ground
03 Conspiracy
04 New Season
05 Haramukh High
06 Winter
07 The Third Eye
08 Ice Temple
09 White Sun

MOON COVEN is a five piece Heavy/Psychedelic/Rock band from Malmö/Stockholm, Sweden, with roots in Jönköping. Heavy distorted riffs meets harmoniously floating vocals that results in dreamy music with a hypnotic effect. MOON COVEN offers a paradoxical but satisfying musical landscape, it is massive and delicate at the same time.

Moon Coven is:
David
Axel
Justin
Oscar
Fredrik

https://www.facebook.com/mooncoven/
https://mooncoven.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/transubstans
http://www.transubstans.com/
http://www.recordheaven.net/

Moon Coven, Moon Coven (2016)

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Suma Announce European Tour Dates

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

Swedish noisecrushers Suma will head out on a European tour starting Nov. 2. By the time they head out, they will have released their first album in six years, The Order of Things (review here), via Argonauta Records, and well demonstrated that their penchant for punishment remains intact, but if you have any doubt of that, well, I don’t know, just fucking listen to the band. They’re insane.

Have to kind of doubt these guys will get back to the States for The Order of Things, since Europe’s still where the market is, but maybe if enough of us cross our fingers we can make something happen. That’s how finger-crossing works, right?

Dates and info:

suma-euro-tour

EUROPEAN TOUR in NOVEMBER.
02/11/016 HAMBURG(de) : ASTRA STUBE
03/11/016 BRUSSELS(be) : MAGASIN 4
04/11/016 STRASBOURG(fr) : MUDD CLUB
05/11/016 PORRENTRUY(ch) : GALERIE DU SAUVAGE
06/11/016 VERCELLI(it) : OFFICINE SONORE
07/11/016 LJUBLJANA(si) : KLUB GROMKA
08/11/016 ZAGREB(hr) : MO?VARA
09/11/016 WIEN(aut) : ARENA
10/11/016 INNSBRUCK(aut) : PMK
11/11/016 DRESDEN(de) : CHEMIEFABRIK
12/11/016 BERLIN(de) : CASSIOPEIA

Hailing from Malmö, Sweden and formed in 2001 : SUMA has been spreading the plague of their sonic weight, noise-ridden hallucinatory doom metal on the world for the past decade and a half. Through these years they’ve lured hordes of humans into the lair with their devastatingly heavy, one way trip into the vortex live performances and crushing delivery on their recorded matters.

With a strong DIY mind, SUMA has been releasing most of its music through their own label and hitting the roads across Europe over the years through their own booking and the help of kindred spirits across the plains. In 2010 SUMA was invited by Tom G. Warrior to take part in his “Only Death Is Real” curated day at ROADBURN and saw their first appearance on U.S. soil – an east-coast tour with Unearthly Trance. As well as distribution and marketing help for ASHES through now defunct swedish death/black metal label REGAIN RECORDS.

After the changes to the entity that is SUMA in the winter of 2011/12 there was no hesitation in figuring out how to move forward. Now regenerated to enable unexplored structures of their sphere… there is a vast darkness on the horizon.

In 2016 they recorded their fourth album – THE ORDER OF THINGS – with legendary engine-ear BILLY ANDERSON (Pallbearer, Black Cobra, Agalloch, Tragedy) once again at the helm of the recording. This is the imminent evolution from the past’s behemoths of albums, LET THE CHURCHES BURN and ASHES.

SUMA:
>P. guitar
>J. bass/vocals
>E. drums
>R. samples/noise

https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords
https://www.facebook.com/sumanoise
http://sumanoise.bandcamp.com/

Suma, “Bait for Maggots” from The Order of Things

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Suma, The Order of Things: Chaos to Chaos (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

suma the order of things-700

[Stream Suma’s ‘Bait for Maggots’ by clicking play above. The Order of Things is out Oct. 11.]

A new Suma record doesn’t happen every day. Now in their 15th year, the Malmö, Sweden-based outfit have always stayed active through a variety of splits, compilations and EPs, and they even had a live tape out last year for a fortunate few who were able to grab one, but it’s been six years since their last proper studio full-length, Ashes, and that certainly feels like long enough. The four-piece of drummer Erik, bassist/vocalist Johan, guitarist Peter and noisemaker Rick traveled to Portland, Oregon, to track The Order of Things with Billy Anderson, who also helmed Ashes and the prior 2006 outing, Let the Churches Burn, and if that’s not enough to make the album an event — and it is, make no mistake — the fact that it arrives through no fewer than four different labels should say something about the level of support for Suma‘s churning, deeply atmospheric sludge.

Argonauta and Init Records have CDs, Throne Records the LP and Tartarus Records the cassette, so The Order of Things is nothing if not well represented, and Suma pay back the faith shown in them with 57 minutes of destructive post-metal spread across seven tracks. I’ve talked before about how something oppressively heavy can feel like it’s filling your lungs, and Suma do a better job of that than most. Their fourth album doesn’t necessarily reinvent their methods from what they conjured on Ashes, which Argonauta also reissued last year, but in the interim, they also parted ways with vocalist Jovan, moved Johan into that role and brought in Rick for samples, drones and other assorted ambient contributions, so some measure of sonic shift is inevitable.

Mostly it sounds like progression. To wit, the 13-minute “Education for Death” late in the record. I’m not sure “highlight” is the word for something that seems to plunge so deep, but either way the thudding tension Suma create is gloriously excruciating, cave-echo vocals swirling in the background behind apocalyptic tone and stomp. Much of the album plays back and forth between longer-form material and three shorter atmospheric pieces, the first of which, “The Sick Present,” opens. I’d call it an intro but for the fact that it’s still over the four-minute mark, but it does the work of immersing the listener in the darkened space Suma will continue to build and tear down across the subsequent pair “Bait for Maggots” and “RPA.” The sense of discomfort is almost immediate, and as “Bait for Maggots” begins its chugging pulsation, Suma seem right at home in the midst of that tempest. Johan‘s shouts are commanding throughout but far back enough in the mix to be obscured by the paramount groove that emerges, led by Peter‘s guitar.

suma

Mercifully, “Bait for Maggots” gives due payoff to its onslaught, and in so doing sets up the key dynamic for the rest of The Order of Things, which is the play between foreboding, tension, and release. “RPA,” which follows directly, isn’t quite as linear as “Bait for Maggots” or the later, aforementioned “Education for Death,” but it too offers a thrust built on making the listener’s blood boil before finally letting go. Because it’s so inhuman(e)-sounding and because of the samples and effects wash, etc., there’s an almost industrial element to “RPA,” but the crux of Suma‘s effect on their audience still comes from the madness that seems to be at the root of their delivery and the weight and density with which their material lands.

While, again, that’s probably not new for anyone who’s dug into AshesLet the Churches Burn, their 2003 self-titled debut or any of their sundry shorter outings, it does still feel like the band has pushed forward, and the direct contrast of heft with atmospherics moving from “RPA” into the dream-haunting samples of “Being and/or Nothingness” shows that well leading into “Education for Death” itself, which is the longest inclusion at 13:36 and doesn’t even begin to think about releasing its grip around the listener’s throat until nine minutes in, and even then, it’s another minute-plus before they get there. Beautifully crafted, challenging in the hearing, but when they do finally roll out the apex, building to an all-grey swirl of noise, the result is fitting. The penultimate “Disorder of Things” continues to push forward at a faster clip from where “Education for Death” tore itself to shreds, the wash and crash becoming overwhelming. There might be vocals, and that’s the most honest assessment I can give you. Its ferocity is just about unmatched by anything else on The Order of Things, but “Disorder of Things” is also a lead-in for the quiet post-rocking guitar squibblies that give a spacious start to 12:37 closer “The Greater Dying.” Not a minor title and not a minor way to finish their record either.

That righteous space will continue to open up as Erik enters on drums, and Suma roll out a patient, masterful and consuming groove as they thrust ahead toward the crash-heavy peak of the song, bringing about something of a change in structure as they hit that crescendo closer to the middle third and dedicate about the last three minutes to a long fade of guitar, cymbals and other ambient noise. I wouldn’t speculate on how long they could actually keep that line going past the fade, but the impression is perpetual all the same, and the sheer fact that after all that bludgeoning, Suma would let their listeners go so gently, drifting, into the album’s finish can really only lead one to conclude that the overriding message of The Order of Things is death. I don’t know if that’s what they were going for, but it’s certainly the takeaway from the work itself, and Suma‘s contemplation thereof resonates in its intensity and breadth alike. They are a rare band, and woefully underappreciated.

Suma on Thee Facebooks

Suma on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

Init Records website

Tartarus Records website

Throne Records website

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Deville Announce New Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

One listen to just about anything founding guitarist/vocalist Andreas Bengtsson writes for Deville, and you know the guy enjoys some symmetry. The songs are impeccably constructed and even when they change up the form, the quality stays high. To wit, last year’s Make it Belong to Us (review here). Still, as Bengtsson announces the new rhythm section joining he and guitarist Andreas Wulkan in the band, it’s hard to ignore the fact that he’s trading out an all-Markus battery — bassist Markus Åkesson and drummer Markus Nilsson — for an all-Martin one. No substitute for working on a theme, I suppose.

Deville welcome bassist Martin Nobel and drummer Martin Fässberg (see also sludge destroyers Suma) with the promise of more touring and writing. The band made it public/official on the social medias thusly:

deville

It is time to announce the new line-up!

DEVILLE welcomes two familiar faces of the music scene in Malmoe. On bass we are now proud to have Martin Nobel, last known from soul rockers Bad Barber. He is, as many of you might know, one of Malmoe’s best rock guitarists so having him on board on bass will for sure add new dimensions to the riffs.

And last but definitely not least we are, after months and months of searching, excited to announce Martin Fässberg on drums. This is a guy who has been touring the world with punk rockers, Quit Your Dayjob and has the routine and skills to take the drum chair in Deville. Being in the underground rock scene for a while he is also known from bands such as SUMA and Psykonauten.

A big welcome guys! Now, let’s tour!

Deville lineup:
Andreas Bengtsson: guitar/vocals
Andreas Wulkan: guitar
Martin Nobel: bass
Martin Fässberg: drums

http://deville.nu/
https://www.facebook.com/devilleband
http://www.fuzzoramastore.com/en/

Deville, Make it Belong to Us (2015)

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Friday Full-Length: Sgt. Sunshine, Sgt. Sunshine

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Sgt. Sunshine, Sgt. Sunshine (2003)

It is somewhat in the nature of heavy rock and roll to be the underdog, and there are few records in the post-Kyuss era of the genre that emphasize this as well as Sgt. Sunshine‘s self-titled debut. Released in 2003 on Abstract Sounds, it arrived at the tail end of one era of Swedish heavy rock — Dozer and Lowrider were already years out from their debut, to say nothing of the likes of Spiritual Beggars or Mother Superior, both of whom debuted in the ’90s — but were part of a wider swing through Europe in general for sure. In the laid back grooves of “Kosmo Terra” and “Mountain Song” one could hear similar movement to what Colour Haze brought to Ewige Blumenkraft in 2001. There are countless bands from the post-2000-but-pre-Facebook years who’ve been lost, and I’ve done my best to highlight some of them here, but the trio of guitarist/vocalist Eduardo Fernandez, bassist Pär Hallgren and drummer Christian Lundberg were able to capture something of their own in the funky push of “Rio Rojo” that predates the emergence of jam-based heavy psych by years and yet moves fluidly into and out of a structured feel. The whole album is like that. I don’t know if I’d call it a “lost classic” — shit, it’s on YouTube, and Heavy Psych Sounds reissued it on vinyl last year — but more like a landmark that has some moss grown on it and could use some more recognition than it’s gotten to this point.

One can hear the threads of Kyuss filtered through an early Dozer influence on “Northern Light,” but there’s something looser that Fernandez brings to the riffing on Sgt. Sunshine and that Lundberg brings to the drums and Hallgren to the bass. The swagger in the intro to lungs shows it, or the Hendrix-style liquefaction of the penultimate “Sad Song.” It’s part of Sgt. Sunshine‘s dynamic that they sound like they’re going to lose control of the whole thing and then they don’t. Not every band can work like that naturally, but especially to do so on their first record makes it all the more a standout. With its silly cover art and veering into Spanish lyrics on “Rio Rojo” and going full-on heavy psych jam-out on the mostly instrumental closer “Culebra,” they genuinely played into giving the impression that anything could happen next, and not knowing where they might be headed only made the album more exciting, both within itself and in terms of what were then their future prospects. Of course, they’d go on to release a second album, Black Hole, in 2007, and a third, III (review here), in 2013, so we know where they’d ultimately end up direction-wise, first playing to a more straightforward sound and then bringing back some of the natural vibing present on the self-titled, but they continue to remain an undervalued act even within heavy rock circles as they head into the impending release of a fourth full-length, titled Plataformas, that seems like it’s going to be a digital self-release. Hopefully more to come on that.

In the meantime, enjoy Sgt. Sunshine‘s Sgt. Sunshine, and thanks for reading.

As of tomorrow, we’re two weeks away from The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn (BUY YOUR TICKETS). I’m starting to get nervous, and excited, and getting all of those something-cool-is-about-to-happen feelings in my stomach. I hope people show up. I hope bands show up. I hope the food shows up. Fingers crossed all around.

Better week this week. Just kind of plugging along. Long. Not sleeping particularly well, but some good records came in this week and that helps everything. Everything. Music still sounds good. Food still tastes good. That’s the update.

Next week’s already packed. Starting Monday I’ll be counting down to the aforementioned The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, featuring each band individually and basically talking about how and why they all fucking rule so hard. Also look out for streams from Howling GiantAugustine AzulThe Sweet Heat and maybe more. I wouldn’t mind reviewing the new Ahkmed or Dunsmuir either, but we’ll see if I get there.

I’ve also started planning the next Quarterly Review for the end of next month. Plenty of backlog to work from.

Please have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading this week, and please check out the All-Dayer, the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk All-Dayer

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Deville Touring Germany Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Swedish heavy rockers Deville head to Germany next week for nine dates to round out February as they continue to support last year’s Make it Belong to Us (review here), released by Fuzzorama Records. The four-piece have hooked up with some new booking representation for various European territories, so it seems likely they’ll be on the road this summer as well if not before, but a week-plus in Germany after heading south to Greece last month for what appears to have been a one-off makes sense.

Hell, they could probably take Europe one country at a time throughout the rest of the year and not get tired. That would certainly be making it belong to them, it nothing else.

If you haven’t heard that record — or if you have, I suppose — it’s streaming in full below, courtesy of the Fuzzorama Bandcamp. The band sent the following down the PR wire:

deville feb tour

Deville Germany Tour coming up next week!

We are proud to announce that we signed with two booking agencies for Scandinavia and G/A/S.

Subculture Hero will take of our bookings for Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Rodeostar Records for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A lot of tours are in the making and we start with Germany next week! Prost!

02/18/16 KIEL GERMANY SCHAUBUDE
02/19/16 ITZEHOE GERMANY ATZEHOE
02/20/16 SCHWERIN GERMANY DR. K
02/22/16 HAMBURG GERMANY ASTRA
02/23/16 ESSEN GERMANY PANIC ROOM
02/24/16 MUNICH GERMANY BACKSTAGE
02/25/16 NURNBERG GERMANY Z-BAU
02/26/16 LICHTENFELS GERMANY PAUNCHY CATS
02/27/16 LUNEBURG GERMANY JEKYLL AND HYDE

Fuzzorama Records – home to the mighty Truckfighters, We Hunt Buffalo and more – is thrilled to release Make It Belong To Us, the fourth, and most explosive album yet from Malmö-based rockers Deville.

Well-versed in the ways of brutal melody, for over a decade Deville have built a career out of tight, hard-hitting rock and roll. Brought together in 2004 out of a shared loved for stoner metal and hard fuzz, the band – made up of lead guitarist/vocalist Andreas Bengtsson, drummer Markus Nilsson, bass player Markus Åkesson and rhythm guitarist Andreas Wulkan – are no strangers to the power of the weighted riff.

As you will hear on new song ‘Life In Decay’, the chugging, hook-laden guitars, soaring vocal and ambitious progression in song writing has shaped Deville into a leaner, meaner, and ultimately heavier sounding machine. A band that while happy to hold court with the likes of Mastodon, High On Fire and Queens Of The Stone Age, plan to not only stand beside them shoulder to shoulder, but seize the throne from under their noses.

Deville:
Andreas Bengtsson – Vocals, Guitars
Markus Nilsson – Drums
Andreas Wulkan – Lead Guitar
Markus Åkesson – Bass

http://deville.nu/
https://www.facebook.com/devilleband
http://www.fuzzoramastore.com/en/

Deville, Make it Belong to Us (2015)

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