Dee Calhoun Confirms European Tour Dates; Posts “Dry Heaves and Needles” Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Following the March 30 release of his second solo album, Go to the Devil, the man who might possibly have Maryland’s most powerful set of pipes,
Dee Calhoun — seriously, I can’t listen to the new Judas Priest record without thinking about Dee singing on those tracks — will embark on a European tour with his (former) Iron Man bandmate/regular accompaniment Louis Strachan along for the trip. To my knowledge, it’s the first time Calhoun has toured in Europe, though he went to the UK with Iron Man a few years back to play a Rise Above anniversary party. Still, no minor happening either way to do it essentially as a solo heavy metal singer-songwriter.

To herald the record’s March 30 arrival via Argonauta, the new video “Dry Heaves and Needles” has been posted. You probably don’t have to work too hard to guess what it’s about, what with he opioid crisis and all — though I hear meth is making a comeback too. In any case, there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you know someone affected by addiction (I know I do) and it fucking sucks, but the song’s right on anyway, so dig in and enjoy.

From the PR wire:

dee calhoun and louis strachan

DEE CALHOUN new single + European tour dates

DEE CALHOUN, voice of legendary doomers IRON MAN, releases the second single from his highly anticipated second solo album “Go to the Devil”.

“My ode to what has happened in the city of my birth, as well as countless other places across the USA.” – Dee Calhoun

“Go to the Devil” will be released by ARGONAUTA Records and available from March 30th, 2018. Preorders run here:

Dee Calhoun and Louis Strachan will tour Europe from April 19th to April 29th.

“THE DEVIL OVER EUROPE – Spring Tour” tour dates:
April 19, Aalborg, Denmark, 1000FRYD
April 20, TBA, Netherlands/North West Germany
April 21, Freiburg, Germany, WHITE RABBIT CLUB
April 22, Prague, Czech Rep., MODRA VOPICE
April 23, Budapest, Hungary, S8 UNDERGROUND
April 24, Maribor, Slovenia, DVORANA GUSTAF PEKARNA
April 25, Saint-Maurice, Switzerland, MANOIR PUB
April 26, Milan, Italy, BLUE ROSE SALOON
April 27, Turin, Italy, TBA
April 28, Nancy, France, THE RIVETER
April 29, TBA, North Germany/Denmark

Dee Calhoun – voice, guitar, percussion, keyboards
Louis Strachan – bass

Dee Calhoun, “Dry Heaves and Needles” official video

Dee Calhoun, Go to the Devil album teaser

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Foghound Set Summer Release for Awaken to Destroy

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

Awaken to Destroy is the name of the new Foghound album, and I don’t think there’s anyone who could argue it’s not arriving at a pivotal moment for the band. Their 2016 sophomore full-length, The World Unseen (review here) — also their debut on Ripple Music — was a big step in a more aggressive direction from their 2013 debut, Quick, Dirty and High (review here), marking, among other things, the first appearance of drummer Chuck Dukehart‘s former Sixty Watt Shaman bandmate, Rev. Jim Forrester, as Foghound‘s bassist.

Tracked by Frank “The Punisher” Marchand — who also helmed some of the recording for The World Unseen along with Mike Dean of C.O.C. — Awaken to Destroy will of course mark the final appearance from Forrester as a member of Foghound, as he was tragically gunned down in Fells Point, Baltimore, last December, owing to what last I heard was still an unknown motive. Foghound and Ripple released the benefit single “Keep on Shoveling” (posted here) to help his family with expenses, and no doubt they’ll continue to honor him this year as we move toward the late-summer release of Awaken to Destroy  and the band takes the stage at the inaugural New England Stoner and Doom Fest on April 21 and at Maryland Doom Fest in June.

The PR wire brings the latest details:

foghound photo shane gardner


Maryland Doom & Stoner Rock stalwarts Foghound have recently put the finishing touches on their third full-length offering, entitled “Awaken To Destroy”. Their new album is set for a September 2018 release via Ripple Music.

Work began on the album in November 2016, with producer Frank Marchand (The Obsessed / Borracho) at the helm. Numerous delays along the way sidelined production due to health issues, professional and personal commitments, and then the tragic murder of bassist Rev. Jim Forrester in December 2017, just days after completing recording of the basic tracking.

“After seeing Jim claw and fight his way back after a major health scare and being in a coma last summer, only to be senselessly taken away from us all in this way, it really hit everyone like a ton of bricks”, says drummer / vocalist Chuck Dukeheart.

“The outpouring of love and support from everyone, and especially our friends and family in the Maryland Doom scene, was overwhelming. We can’t thank everyone enough for helping us, Jim’s wife Tina, and family to get through this terrible time.”

Among the multiple benefit events and fundraisers for the family, Ripple Music released as a benefit single the new Foghound track “Keep On Shoveling” on January 1st, via Bandcamp as a “Name Your Price” download purchase.

Written with a theme of perseverance in the face of adversity, the song features a spoken word portion from Rev. Jim. The song has taken on a new meaning for the band after his untimely passing.

Another new track, “Return To Dragontooth”, will appear on an upcoming benefit compilation, due out from Salt Of the Earth Records.

Foghound emphasizes, “One thing that became apparent was that we all knew, and Jim said as much when he was laid up in the hospital last summer, was that he wouldn’t want us to stop. In his words – ‘We still have shit to do.'”

After taking time to regroup, this February saw Foghound back in the studio to wrap up tracking of vocals, guitars, and keyboards. They have finally been able to complete mixing to get it ready for release.

Along with wrapping up the album, the band got themselves back in their rehearsal space, and have recruited long time friend of the band, bassist Adam Heinzmann (Internal Void, Pentagram), into the fold.

The band stated, “It was a very heavy, emotional time for us, to be back in the jamroom without Jim, but Adam really stepped up in a big way. His enthusiasm, preparedness, and love for the music really helped us get back to why we all play music. We were able to have fun again.”

Foghound is set to return to the stage with notable upcoming appearances at the New England Stoner and Doom Fest at Altone’s in Jewett City, Connecticut on April 21st, and The Maryland Doom Fest at Cafe 611 in Frederick, Maryland on June 23rd.

“We are looking forward to being a part of these stellar lineups and to play these new songs live. We can’t wait for this monster of an album to be unleashed at the end of the summer!”

Foghound (left to right in photo):

Chuck Dukeheart, III – Drums, Voals
Dee Settar – Guitar, Vocals
Bob Sipes – Guitar, Vocals
Adam Heinzmann – Bass

Foghound, “Keep on Shoveling”

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Mangog Working on Second Album; New Drummer Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

So, it would seem the masked dude in the Mangog photo you see here is their new drummer, Dao Yu. Why is he wearing a mask? I have no idea. None whatsoever. Unless Dao Yu isn’t his real name, it’s not like he’s keeping his identity a secret, and call me crazy, but I wouldn’t think as a drummer having your entire face covered by a mask makes your life any easier, so yeah, I’ve got nothing on this one. Guy’s just wearing a mask.

Whenever I run into something like that, I like to think it’s because the person involved actually has a really good job or something and doesn’t want his colleagues to know he’s in a rock band on the side. Like Dao Yu is actually the superintendent of schools for Baltimore County, or the top real estate agent in Frederick or whatever. He owns a chain of daycare centers. Something like that. Mind you I don’t know if any or all of that — if it’s all of it, he’d be awfully busy — is true in the slightest, but it’s fun to pretend.

The mystery will just have to remain for the time being, but the good news is that, with Yu in tow, Mangog have started prep work on their sophomore full-length, which will be the follow-up to last year’s Mangog Awakens (review here). Here’s the latest info:


MANGOG – working on the new album

After recently completing a run of gigs that included the band’s 50th overall lifetime show, MANGOG is currently hard at work at its rehearsal facility arranging, rehearsing and preparing to record a follow up to “Mangog Awakens” with the new lineup that debuted in September 2017. With close to an hour of new material, the band is preparing a monolithic slab of music that will make the debut cd sound like a warm up!

MANGOG also started working on a new video, the group assembled on the first of three sets for the performance section of the clip. Additional filming is expected over the next several weeks concurrent with rehearsal of nearly a dozen new songs to be recorded for a follow up to “Mangog Awakens.”

The band, including vocalist Myke Wells, guitarist/vocalist Bert Hall, Jr., bassist Darby Cox will resume recording the disc with the group’s newest member Dao Yu on drums during early 2018, to be released via ARGONAUTA Records.

Myke Wells – Vocals
Darby Cox – bass
Bert Hall – Guitar/Vocals
Dao Yu – Drums

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Clutch Announce Spring Tour with Red Fang, The Bronx & Fireball Ministry

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

One of these days — probably not today, but maybe tomorrow or the next day or the day after — Clutch are going to start putting out the details about their next album. I’m talking about things like the title, the songs that’ll be included, the cover art. It’s gonna happen. Hell, there might even be video. Mark my words, we’ll get there, and I’ve got a feeling once audio starts coming out from it, this one’s going to be a banger. After two records in a row with Machine at the helm, they’ve switched up producers and I wouldn’t be surprised if that as a significant effect on the outcome of the album as a whole. Clutch‘s studio work has always had that as a factor. Think of the differences in sound between Elephant Riders and Pure Rock Fury. Or Strange Cousins from the West and Earth Rocker.

Anyway, a new Clutch record is going to happen, and if you’re not stoked, get that way. The Maryland foursome just announced a quickie Midwestern run with The Bronx, Red Fang and Fireball Ministry for the Spring. Maybe a warm-up for a larger tour? Maybe a lead-up to a second installment of their own festival? Maybe an album-release celebration? I have the feeling we don’t know all the details yet, but the PR wire brings what we’ve got to go on:

clutch tour dates


Clutch has just announced a string of Spring headline tour dates starting on April 27th in Chattanooga, TN. Supporting the tour will be The Bronx, Red Fang and Fireball Ministry. Fan club pre-sale tickets will go on sale today, Tuesday, January 30th at 2:00 pm and will be available through Thursday, February 1st at 10:00 pm. Fan club tickets will be available at Password: fans1. Tickets will go on sale to the general public Friday, February 2nd at 10:00 am at local outlets as well as at and

The band is currently in the studio working on their new record with producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, Old 97s, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, Red Fang) at Sputnik Sound in Nashville.

Clutch, The Bronx, Red Fang and Fireball Ministry Spring Tour Dates:
*Festival date
04-27-18 Chattanooga, TN The Signal
04-29-18 Jacksonville, FL Welcome To Rockville*
04-30-18 Athens, GA Georgia Theater
05-02-18 New Orleans, LA House of Blues
05-03-18 Birmingham, AL Iron City
05-04-18 Memphis, TN Beale Street Music Fest*
05-05-18 Lexington, KY Manchester Music Hall
05-06-18 Charlotte, NC Carolina Rebellion*

Neil Fallon – Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult – Guitar
Dan Maines – Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster – Drums/Percussion

Clutch, “Electric Worry” Live at Starland Ballroom, Dec. 28, 2017

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Dee Calhoun Posts “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” Video; Go to the Devil out March 30

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dee calhoun and louis strachan

Swamp blues mysticism, metallic devilry and Americana folk balladeering meet head-on in the new single from Dee Calhoun. Even as the Iron Man vocalist reels from the recent passing of that outfit’s founding guitarist, “Iron” Alfred Morris III, earlier this month, he’s preparing as well to issue his second solo album for Argonauta Records, titled Go to the Devil, on March 30.

The new record’s been a while in the making — it was recorded last winter and details began to emerge not so long thereafter — but as Calhoun gets closer to unveiling the follow-up to 2016’s Rotgut (review here), he starts to reveal a little bit more about his creative process in the interim. For example, the new single “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” would seem to tell a similar story as a novella Calhoun put out last summer, with a narrative brought to bear in bayou-style darkly Christian themes, told as ever through his powerful voice, ready to soar at a moment’s notice.

I haven’t heard the entirety of Go to the Devil as yet, so can’t necessarily speak to how “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” interacts with its surroundings in that context, but with the active participation of Iron Man bassist Louis Strachan as a stage and studio partner accompanying Calhoun, the sound of “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” is full in tone and would seem to offer a sense of breadth expanded from Rotgut just two years ago. Again, that may or may not be the case all the way around, but it’s certainly nothing to complain about as regards a first impression from the new long-player.

While we continue to wait for specifics on Calhoun‘s impending European tour dates, you can check out the clip for “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” here, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Dee Calhoun, “Jesus, the Devil, the Deed” official video

Go to the Devil, the second solo album from IRON MAN vocalist DEE CALHOUN is going to be released by ARGONAUTA Records on March 30th, 2018.

“A very cold, very rainy autumn night. An unnamed man walks the barren streets, at the end of the line and at the end of his rope. His life has gone awry, and he seeks the one man who can perhaps remedy it. That man’s name is Jesus Christ.”

“When the man finds Jesus, he won’t ask for help or mercy; he’ll instead ask for the return of his soul, a soul that he pledged as a child, but now wants repossession of. A new buyer has come along, you see; a buyer in a top-dollar black suit, and whose malevolent presence has guided this man’s quest, every tormented step of the way…”

DEE CALHOUN “Go to the Devil” CD is available here:

DEE CALHOUN, with the accompaniment of bassist LOUIS STRACHAN (both in studio and on stage), will tour Europe next Spring, with gigs in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, France, Belgium, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland. Details to follow soon.

Dee Calhoun website

Dee Calhoun on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records webstore

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Snakefeast to Release In Chaos, Solace March 2; Premiere New Track

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan


Like a good challenge? Sweet, because if you think you’re up for it, Baltimorean guitar-eschewing foursome Snakefeast throw down a rampaging tumult of weirdness on their impending long-player, In Chaos, Solace. Their second album for Grimoire Records and set for release on March 2, it’s an eight-song, 31-minute excursion into brutalist angularism, noise and pummel, and if that sounds scary, rest assured, it is. But what’s truly terrifying? There’s a plan at work. It’s a plan like something out of a nightmare that would keep Mike Patton up in the wee hours, but a plan just the same.

To wit, the blends of jazzy runs between Aran Keating‘s tenor sax and the start-stop bass staccato of from Carson Korman on “Ruin” or the way the earlier “Shroud” screeches out before leaning into its groove coming out of the deceptively atmospheric opener “Pyre.” Whether it’s drummer Dave Cavalier (also of Black Lung) matching Keating‘s jumping notes with pops on his snare or providing a foundation of tom runs beneath the largely indecipherable growls of Grimoire‘s own Phil Doccolo in the second half of the penultimate “Era,” or the simple choice on the part of the band to cap the record with a take on Queen‘s “Ogre Battle” from Queen II — which would also seem to be the only track the band has recorded with a title more than one word long — Snakefeast‘s sophomore full-length may indeed be living up to its title for the group itself, but it offers precious little quarter to those who’d be bold enough to take it on front to back.

It can be a fine line between experimentalism and progressivism when it comes to a given band’s style. As regards Snakefeast, I lean more toward the latter and think of In Chaos, Solace as a fusion of jazz, metal, weighted-groove grind and post-hardcore, but however many subgenres they may or may not be throwing into their scorching aesthetic melting pot, they’re unquestionably working on a wavelength of their own and seem only too proud to showcase that fact in their material. That plan that underlies all the outward bombast and torrential intensity? They pull it off.

You’ll find a track premiere for “Pyre” at the bottom of this post. More info on the album, including a quote from the band, follows:

snakefeast in chaos solace

Snakefeast – In Chaos, Solace

Snakefeast’s 2018 full-length “In Chaos, Solace” is the long awaited follow up to their 2015 album “The Pythoness,” which was their first proper album, following a short split they did with fellow Baltimore band Queenwolf in 2014.

Snakefeast is a 4 piece, totally guitar-free band, featuring blues-prog riffs galore on bass, groovy-yet-crisply-technical drumming, sprawling saxophone parts woven throughout, and Phil Doccolo on amorphous screams.

This is their first full-length that was written with a dedicated sax player in the band for the songwriting, as opposed to just adding sax during the recording process, which is what they had done on their previous releases. You may recognize their drummer, Dave Cavalier, from his role as guitarist and vocalist in Baltimore’s Black Lung.

1. Pyre
2. Shroud
3. Itch
4. Ruin
5. Tome
6. Coven
7. Era
8. Ogre Battle

Releases March 2, 2018.

Snakefeast on “Pyre”:

“We used to be a three-piece with intermittent saxophone, but now the saxophone is a key part of our sound and composition. We started treating the sax like a vocalist, and the vocals as more of a textural element. We’ve always sought to combine jazz and metal aesthetics and continue to explore new ways to achieve this through our choice of instruments and song structures.”

Snakefeast is:
Dave Cavalier – Drums
Carson Korman – Bass Guitar
Phil Doccolo – Vocals
Aran Keating – Tenor Saxophone

Snakefeast, “Pyre” track premiere

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“Iron” Al Morris III Benefit Shows Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Two benefit shows have been announced in Maryland to honor the memory and help with the medical and memorial expenses for Iron Man founder and guitarist Alfred Morris III. The first is Jan. 27 at The Depot in Baltimore and the second is Feb. 17 at the Patriotic Club in Frederick. Neither city locale, in being centers of Maryland’s doom underground, would seem to be a coincidence, and in addition to acoustic performances by Wino and members of Iron Man — presumably that’s vocalist Dee Calhoun and bassist Louis Strachan taking the stage together — the shows will feature sets by Witch Hazel, Bound by the Grave, Mind’s Eye, Wrath of Typhon, and others.

Morris passed away Jan. 10 after a long fight with diabetes and along with the benefits, a crowdfunding campaign has been set up to accept donations in his memory. Info on all of the above follows the graphic below, which, if it wound up on a t-shirt, I would proudly wear:

iron man al morris memorial

“Iron” Alfred Morris III Benefit Shows

JAN 27 – Benefit Show For Alfred Morris III, doom metal legend

The Depot
1728 N Charles St, Baltimore, Maryland 21201

We have assembled a stellar lineup to honor Al Morris III which demonstrates how much he was loved by the music community of all genres. $10 at the door.
Witch Hazel
Thee Iron Hand
Members of the Iron Man Band performing an acoustic set
and Scott “Wino” Weinrich performing an acoustic set
We still seek raffle donations: Please contact Greg Serio or M A Spiro to arrange that. Spread the word!

Al was a great father, mentor, brother, and friend to many. As a guitarist and founding member of The Iron Man, his influence was legendary. This benefit is to help the family with the funeral expenses and also to honor a legend in The Doom Metal community..
We are seeking any donations for a raffle that will be held at midnight at the event on Saturday, January 27th at The Depot in Baltimore. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Feb. 17 – Al Morris III Benefit Concert

Patriotic Club
300 E 4th St, Frederick, Maryland 21701

We are hosting a benefit concert to celebrate the life of a local legend, and Doom genre icon Al Morris III (Iron Man). Al was recently taken from us after battling health issues, and being a loyal brother within the local scene, the local scene now has the opportunity to help with this worthy cause to provide some relief to Al’s already grieving family with funeral, and preexisiting medical bills.

I’ll be providing many details in the coming days, including band lineup with set times, raffle information, etc.We will be charging a $10 donation at the door, and drink/ food specials will be made available at this comfortable, family friendly environment. Would like to thank Jackie from the Patriotic Club for agreeing to host the event on short notice, and Dave Davidson for once again displaying his heart by donating his time to run sound for us.

Thank you to all the bands that contacted us with interest, and we are determined to incorporate acts that not only knew Al personally, but also shared the stage with him over his remarkably rewarding musical journey.

Will update as information becomes available. This second show is being requested so those who knew Al and can’t make the cold journey to Baltimore for the 1st benefit, can have a chance to show their support.

We want to treat this second show as a family friendly event, and less about the theatrical impact.

We hope you will join us….

Set Times:
Children of the Grave – 6:00 – 7:00
War Mask– 7:15 – 7:45
Mind’s Eye – 8:00 – 8:45
Wrath of Typhon – 9:00 – 9:45
Wino w/ Brian Costantino – 10:00 – 10:45
Members of Iron Man w/ Bill Miskowitz– 11:00 – 11:30

Iron Man, “Black Morning”

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Quarterly Review: Godflesh, Serpents of Secrecy, Vymaanika, Zong, Vitriol, Pillars, Lamp of the Universe & Kanoi, Azonic, Thousand Vision Mist, Arcadian Child

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

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Today is the last day of The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review, and it’s kind of hard to believe it’s gone so fast. Before I put the Big Boot to the proceedings like Hulk Hogan getting ready to call it a day with an elbow drop at Wrestlemania — yup, just like that — I have to take a special moment to thank The Patient Mrs. for allowing me the time this week to bang out all of these reviews and get everything sorted on the back end, etc., for these posts. She, of course, as always, perpetually, has been unbelievable, and especially with The Pecan to manage, she’s earned her title more than ever. It is thoroughly, deeply, appreciated. Much love, baby. Thank you.

Okay, Big Boot time. Let’s do this thing.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Godflesh, Post Self

godflesh post self

Guitarist/vocalist/programmer Justin K. Broadrick and bassist BC Green return with Post Self, their second post-reunion full-length behind 2014’s A World Lit Only by Fire (review here) and a collection of churning electro-noise hymnals that work in a sphere that should by now be well familiar to their multi-generational fanbase. The groundbreaking industrial pioneers sound decidedly led by the guitar on the chugging “Parasite” and the airy, almost Jesu-style wash of “The Cyclic End,” but the intensity of the beat behind “No Body,” bass and noise onslaught of “Be God” and synth-driven soundscaping of “Mortality Sorrow” recall the sonic diversity that’s always been as much a part of Godflesh’s approach as their signature cyclical rhythmic style. More perhaps than ever, Broadrick and Green seem to be aware of what defines Godflesh as a band in terms of sound, and as they make the crucial move from a “reunion” band to a working one, they seem as glad as ever to push those boundaries once more.

Justin K. Broadrick on Thee Facebooks

Avalanche Recordings on Bandcamp


Serpents of Secrecy, Uncoiled: The Singles


This two-song single may end up bring the only offering Serpents of Secrecy ever make public, and it was years in coming together. In December, the Chesapeake region group with members of Foghound, Borracho and King Giant suffered the loss of bassist Jim Forrester, who was murdered in Baltimore, and while a debut long-player was in discussion, to-date the five-piece have only issued “Warbird’s Song” and “The Cheat” as Uncoiled – The Singles, and obviously now any kind of follow-up is in question. Whether it’s the raucous burl of “Warbird’s Song” or the bluesy, organ-topped fluidity of “The Cheat,” the J. Robbins-produced tracks demonstrate the potential at heart from the lineup of vocalist Mark Lorenzo – who wound up in the role after members of Alabama Thunderpussy and Mister Bones vacated – guitarists Steve Fisher and Todd Ingram, Forrester and his former Sixty Watt Shaman bandmate Chuck Dukehart III. The only question at this point is whether that potential will ever see further realization. Right on as these songs are, I’m torn on the idea, to be honest.

Serpents of Secrecy on Thee Facebooks

Salt of the Earth Records website


Vymaanika, Spectroscope


Multinational space rockers Vymaanika debut with the 20-minute two-songer Spectroscope EP, comprised of its 10-minute opening title-track and the subsequent “Golden Void,” which may or may not be named in honor of the side-project of Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell. I’d believe it either way. The band comprises members from Catalan – guitarist/vocalist/synthesis Carles Esteban and bassist Andrés Paniagua, Chile in drummer/synthesist Jose Jünemann, and the US in guitarist/vocalist/synthesis Benjamin Mahoney, but they all seem to have come together to record in Barcelona, and the breadth of “Spectroscope” and serene psychedelic mantra-making of “Golden Void” benefit from that band-in-the-room vibe. Especially so the latter, which touches early on vocal harmonies over drifting guitar strum, steady synth drone and percussive pulsations before building to a more active apex in its second half. After the cacophony taking hold in the back end of “Spectroscope,” it’s a clear demarcation of a varied sonic persona, and while I don’t know how often Vymaanika will be able to get everyone together with the geographic spread, it’s easy to be glad they did it for this first EP.

Vymaanika on Thee Facebooks

Vymaanika on Bandcamp


Zong, Zong

zong zong

Flowing arrangements abound on Zong’s self-titled four-track debut full-length. The Brisbane, Australia-based heavy psych three-piece are well within their genre sphere, but from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmic Embryo” (13:00) through “Arcane Sand” (8:10), the perhaps-Zardoz-referential “Giant Floating Head” (11:48) and closer “Return of the Alien King” (10:32), they demonstrate a natural chemistry, patience and warmth of tone that is no less comfortable in the march and lurch of its penultimate cut than in dug-in repetition-born hypnosis of the leadoff. Deceptively weighted from almost its beginning point with the low end of Michael Grinstead’s bass and the rolling drums of Henry Bennett, there’s also a balance of airiness from guitarist Adam Anderson that adds nuance when called upon to do so, though there are plenty of moments where Zong’s Zong seems perfectly content to cave-jam its far-out atmospheric fluidity. Not an ethic and not a result you’re going to hear me complain about.

Zong on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz Records webstore

Praying Mantis Records on Bandcamp


Vitriol, Pain Will Define Their Death


Brutal tech-death pervades Vitriol’s first EP, Pain Will Define Their Death – a three-song onslaught the violence of which is writ large over every minute of its total 12. Sharing a penchant for opening to bigger-sounding choruses like that of its opening title-cut with peak-era Hate Eternal, the pummel factor, ultra-tense push and unmitigated viciousness eschews some of the more machine-like aspects of such technically-minded fare, and while Vitriol’s overarching groove, gutturalist execution and hammer-swing breakdowns are casting out their own assault on the aforementioned opener as well as the subsequent blast-laden “Victim” and “Violence, a Worthy Truth,” they’re working in service to songcraft much more than to an indulgent showcase of prowess, and that makes all the difference in terms of the material’s ultimate impact. That impact? When was the last time you were actually kicked in the face? Nothing if not aptly named, Vitriol’s death metal seethes and rages in kind and bodes remarkably well for future manifest devastation.

Vitriol on Thee Facebooks

Vitriol on Bandcamp


Pillars, Pyres and Gallows


Hailing classic doom and darker atmospheres, French four-piece Pillars debut on Seeing Red Records via the Pyres and Gallows EP. Its four songs run a gamut of traditional grooves, but lumber with a balance between their rawness and a spirit of underlying riffy nuance that adds texture beneath the gruff, dudely vocals of frontman Klem, the tones of guitarist Djé and bassist Disaster well suited to the plodding companionship of drummer JJ on a song like the problematically-titled second cut “Dirty Whoreshippers” or the 10-minute title-track that rounds out. At 33 minutes, I’m not sure what’s stopping Pyres and Gallows from being a full-length, but if that’s a hint that Pillars have more to say going forward, then fair enough. They may be preaching to the converted in these tracks, but they’re doing so in righteous fashion and with a sense of their own identity under development. Doom on? Yeah, totally doom on. By all means. Please do.

Pillars on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp


Lamp of the Universe & Kanoi, Split


Among the fascinating factors at work on this cross-continental Clostridium Records split release between long-running New Zealand acid folk outfit Lamp of the Universe and Austrian psychedelic fuzz purveyor Kanoi is the fact that both parties involved are solo-projects. For Lamp of the Universe’s Craig Williamson (also Arc of Ascent), he brings three tracks of his signature drenched-wet lysergism in “In the Beginning,” “The Cosmic Body Track,” “Father” and “Space Chant,” while Kanoi’s Benjamin Kantschieder revisits two cuts from 2016’s Mountains of the Sun full-length in the extended “I’m Gone (I’m Gone)” and “Mountains of the Sun” itself. The novelty of having two single parties match wits on such fluid arrangements – my head always begs for collaboration in these instances – is offset by the quality of their work itself. Neither is new to their sphere, but both seem keen to continue to experiment and explore, and it’s from that commonality that the split most benefits.

Lamp of the Universe on Bandcamp

Kanoi on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records website


Azonic, Prospect of the Deep Volume One


The first Azonic offering since the mid-‘90s finds Brooklyn-based experimentalist Andy Hawkins reviving the project alongside his Blind Idiot God bandmate Tim Wyskida as a melding of drone/noise and percussive ideas. Released through Hawkins’ own Indivisible Music, Prospect of the Deep Volume One – pretty ambitious to put a “volume one” in the title of your first record in 20-plus years – presents two expansive works in “Oblivion of the Deep” (18:53) and “The Argonauts Reckoning” (18:42) as well as the CD bonus track “Voices of the Drowned” (10:12) that brim with atmospheric intent and have an underlying sense of control on the part of Hawkins that speaks to some measure of steering what might in other hands simply feel like sonic chaos. You can hear it early into “The Argonauts Reckoning,” as the layered wash seems to want to fly off the rails and swell and Hawkins’ guitar simply doesn’t let it go, but it’s true elsewhere on Prospect of the Deep Volume One as well, and in listening, it’s the difference between the album being a joy in the immersion, which it is, and a self-indulgent misfire, which it very much is not.

Azonic on Thee Facebooks

Indivisible Music website


Thousand Vision Mist, Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow


Named for the lone 2002 full-length from Maryland doomers Life Beyond, in which guitarist/vocalist Danny Kenyon also featured, newcomer trio Thousand Vision Mist debut with the progressive-leaning edge of Journey to Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow, a 52-minute 10-tracker. Yes, Rush are a factor in terms of influence. However, propelled by the drumming of Chris Sebastian, whose frenetic snare adds a Mastodonic feel to “Headstones Throw,” the otherwise classic-vibing “Final Flight of Fall” and the later “Darklight,” among others, the cumbersomely-titled offering sets its balance between modern prog metal, doom and classic heavy rock, with bassist Tony Comulada adding vocal harmonies alongside Kenyon and providing a needed anchor to keep songs like the penultimate “Skybound and Beyond” from actually taking off and leaving their audience behind. Reportedly long in the works, Journey to Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow isn’t a minor digestion process at its busy and extended runtime, but while the recording is raw, there’s no shortage of fodder for engagement throughout its swath of choruses and head-spinning turns.

Thousand Vision Mist on Thee Facebooks

Thousand Vision Mist on Bandcamp


Arcadian Child, Afterglow


Though not at all without its more driving aspects, some of the most satisfying moments on Arcadian Child’s debut album, Afterglow, come from a soothing hook like that of “Rabbit Hole,” which finds the Cypriot four-piece more fully embodying a laid back desert rock atmosphere that underpins the Fatso Jetson-esque opener “She’s on My Mind” and subsequent “Little Late for Love.” As the feels-short-at-29-minutes record unfolds, “Electric Red” blends fuzz and Mediterranean rhythmic push, “Irresistible” toys with layered swirl beneath a solidly-weighted verse and chorus, “Run” makes itself a highlight around a post-Lullabies to Paralyze atmospheric lead and start-stop riff, and the title-track casts momentum in melody and groove into closer “Used,” which pays one more welcome visit to the more serene side of their personality before they’re done. It might be a sleeper, but I’d be surprised if someone didn’t pick Afterglow up for a vinyl release sooner or later; the songwriting, performance, presentation and potential for future growth are all there waiting to be found by the right ears.

Arcadian Child on Thee Facebooks

Arcadian Child on Bandcamp


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