Live Review: Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar, The Obsessed & Mothership in Boston, 02.16.19

Posted in Reviews on February 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Corrosion of Conformity (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Not every venue in the Boston metro area has been turned into yuppie-fuckbox condos as yet, and so it was with what felt like due urgency I crawled out of my hole in the frozen New England ground and headed to town to catch Corrosion of Conformity headlining on a four-band bill shared with Crowbar, The Obsessed and Mothership. That urgency would smash face-first into a hurry-up-and-wait half-hour of driving around the block of the Brighton Music Hall looking for a place to park, but I still made it in time to be there moments after doors opened. It was going to be a good night. The show was sold out, and rightly so.

The C.O.C. crowd is always an interesting mix. Metallers, rockers, stoners, boozers: mostly but not entirely dudes. As I leaned on the barrier waiting for the show to start, a father was telling his son about the bands playing. So one way or another, there were multiple demographics at play. The lineup would serve that well.

I was back and forth while the night played out, but even when I was standing off to the side of the stage in the kind of hallway to back bar, the sound was full and the production, lights, etc., were dead on. The short version is it was a joy to witness and I felt stupid lucky to be there, but of course there was more to it than that. Here’s how it went:

Mothership

Mothership (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Before Dallas trio Mothership went on at 7:30PM to launch the night, I overheard a guy telling his friend he knew nothing about the band. I didn’t look back after the band started to see, but no doubt he like the rest of the place had his ass blown out of the room by the classic rocking three-piece. Kelley Juett is a ’70s-style madman shredder on guitar, and his energy quickly became a catalyst for the crowd. With Kyle Juett holding down primary vocal duties and bass and Judge Smith behind on drums, Mothership were way less an “opening” band and way less of a “support” act than they were a warmup for the rest of the show to come. There was not a head in the room that was not into it by the time they were wrapping up “Angel of Death” from their 2012 self-titled debut (review here), and as it was their second time touring with C.O.C., they were pro-shop all the way through. Though this was my first experience seeing them live — something for which I’ve long been overdue — the impression I’ve gotten from all their work to-date has been they’re a live band, and they brought that to to the stage at the Brighton Music Hall. They’ve put in significant road time over the last half-decade-plus, and it showed. With Kelley and Kyle headbanging away and Smith twirling a drum stick every now and again, they were a reminder that rock and roll doesn’t have to be a joke to be a good time. Short set, but killer set. Killer band. Will see again as they headline the first night of this year’s Maryland Doom Fest.

The Obsessed

The Obsessed (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Theoretically, The Obsessed are touring behind their 2017 return album, Sacred (review here), which was their first record in more than two decades, but really, it feels like anytime you get to see The Obsessed, it’s less about any single album than the sheer groove that holds sway for however long their set might be. With the inimitable — not for others’ lack of trying — Scott “Wino” Weinrich as the founding principal on vocals and guitar, Brian Constantino on drums and Reid Raley (also Rwake) slow-headbanging on bass, The Obsessed came across way less as a reunion band than a working one. This was their first night of the tour — I’d thought they’d joined earlier, but nope — but if there was rust being shook off or anything like that, it didn’t show. Theirs was a different kind of presence from Mothership to coincide with the doom-infused sound, but songs like “Streetside” and “Neatz Brigade” are nothing short of landmarks and a significant chunk of the foundation of what one generally thinks of as “traditional doom,” so yes, I was glad to be there to bear witness. Standing by Raley‘s side of the stage, the floor shook from the low end, and each pulse of Constantino‘s kickdrum was easy to feel in the chest. Topped off with Wino‘s signature tone and blues-drenched solo style, it was less of an assault of volume than a celebration of it, and The Obsessed‘s legacy — coming up on 40 years since their first demo — remains utterly vital to the landscape of modern doom.

Crowbar

Crowbar (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Right down to business with “All I Had I Gave” opening the set, which was enough to get a heartfelt “fucking a” out of me. Founding guitarist/vocalist Kirk Windstein, as ever, introduced them by saying they were Crowbar from New Orleans, Louisiana, and as far as the room was concerned, there was no more explanation necessary. There was barely space to stand but somehow the crowd parted for a mosh, and the four-piece sludge progenitors ate it up, drummer Tommy Buckley making a bid for being the hardest-hitting of the evening through “To Build a Mountain” and “The Cemetery Angels,” which found him, Windstein, guitarist Matt Buckley and bassist Shane Wesley all locked into a massive, build-up-into-slowdown chug that had heads nodding front to back. They played nothing from 2016’s The Serpent Only Lies (review here), going only so far as “Walk with Knowledge Wisely” from 2014’s Symmetry in Black, but with “Planets Collide” and “Like Broken Glass” tucked together as a grand finale, I’m not sure there was anything more I’d have asked of them anyhow. As Crowbar celebrate 30 years, their history remains someplace between metal, sludge and even hardcore, but whatever genre elements one might want to tag, they are an act unto themselves, and with Windstein as the central figure, they pummeled and pounded Boston to a pulp of local sports logos, blown eardrums and sticky dried beer. This was the best I’d seen them in a while, and for being so perennially downtrodden, their spirits seemed awfully high.

Corrosion of Conformity

Corrosion of Conformity (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There wasn’t one act on this bill I wouldn’t call veteran, even if the degree to which that applies might vary. Still, there’s an unmistakable presence when C.O.C. takes the stage. It’s not just Pepper Keenan, either. From Woody Weatherman on one side of the stage to Mike Dean on the other, Corrosion of Conformity were unquestionably the headliners of what had already been a great night. They came on with “Stonebreaker” from 2005’s In the Arms of God and with Eric Hernandez on drums in place of Reed Mullin, they stomped and stormed through “Wiseblood” and the newer “Wolf Named Crow” from last year’s No Cross No Crown (review here) before making highlights of “Diablo Blvd.” from 2000’s undervalued America’s Volume Dealer and “Seven Days” from 1994’s ultra-landmark, Deliverance (discussed here), the 25th anniversary of which they’ll be celebrating later this year at least in Europe and probably also the US — they’ve already been announced for Freak Valley in Germany and one suspects more will come. “Vote with a Bullet,” even for being the first song Keenan fronted the band, seemed a little past its date in light of a culture of mass shootings, but it’s still catchy, and “Seven Days” reined in some of that vibe, while “Paranoid Opioid” reminded of the band’s punk roots and of course the final salvo of “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds” served as reinforcement of the heavy Southern groove that’s helped make C.O.C. an institution for the last however many decades. After all the righteousness that preceded them, it was their show without question, and they delivered on any level of expectation and then some.

Special thanks to Liz Ciavarella-Brenner for hooking this one up, and thanks to you for reading. Many more pics after the jump.

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Magic Circle to Release Departed Souls March 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

magic circle 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Well, the new Magic Circle track sounds fucking killer. With an overarching proto-metallic spirit brought to bear in no small part through the Sabbath-meets-earliest-AC/DC vocals of Brendan Radigan, “Departed Souls” shares its name with the album it foreshadows, and what will serve as the third full-length for the social media-averse Boston doom/classic metal outfit will see release through 20 Buck Spin on March 29. Their last record, 2015’s Journey Blind (review here) saw them way up the NWOBHM quotient in their sound, but “Departed Souls” seems to speak to an even deeper, earthier and earlier glimpse at the foundations of modern heavy. I dig it. More than I thought I would dig it, and I thought I’d dig it plenty.

They’ll hit Germany for Hell Over Hammaburg on March 1 and play other select dates through the year, as the PR wire informs:

magic circle departed souls

MAGIC CIRCLE: Boston Heavy Metal Outfit To Release Third LP, Departed Souls, Via 20 Buck Spin In March; Video For Title Track Now Playing

Boston’s MAGIC CIRCLE returns with their triumphant third LP, Departed Souls. Ending a four-year gap since the band’s acclaimed Journey Blind LP, Departed Souls will see release through 20 Buck Spin. Ahead of its March 29th street date, the label has released a video created for advance single, the album’s opening song and title track, “Departed Souls.”

MAGIC CIRCLE’s self-titled debut hit the true doom scene like a revelation in 2013. Without hype or hyperbole, the band effortlessly invoked fundamental rock and roll truths putting their own stamp on early heavy metal darkness. Joining 20 Buck Spin for follow-up Journey Blind, the bandagain offered that unmistakable classic sound with natural unforced evolution. On their third LP, Departed Souls, MAGIC CIRCLE presents an expansive hard rock vision, adorning their signature doom with seamless psych and prog ornamentation.

Departed Souls finds MAGIC CIRCLE delving more deeply into ’70s sounds, expanding farther outward from the primordial Iommic matter of their birth. Heavy Sabbathian riffs abound, but MAGIC CIRCLE opens up, stretches out, exposing different shades that recall the moody peaks and valleys of the classic hard rock LPs of that era. Acoustic twelve-string, tablas, and Fender Rhodes appear in lush moments of kaleidoscopic decadence woven into the fabric of the pounding elemental thunder. All the while, vocalist Brendan Radigan seals the deal as one of the premier heavy metal singers of the 21st century, delivering that Wagnerian dynamism and vigor that screams from the heavens and becomes thoroughly controlled in moments of quiet solemnity. The album was recorded and engineered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios, mixed by the band’s Chris Corry, and mastered by Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham (Black Sabbath, Angel Witch, Saxon, Rory Gallagher).

Though all members are busy with other projects including Innumerable Forms, Sumerlands, Devil’s Dare, Stone Dagger, Lifeless Dark, Missionary Work, Pagan Altar live, and more, when these five men come together in the MAGIC CIRCLE, the chemistry and palpable rock exhilaration reminds us that this band isn’t one destined to die with the herd.

MAGIC CIRCLE has created a video for the LP’s opening song and title track “Departed Souls,” compiling live footage of the band with ritualistic, religious, and spiritual practices.

See MAGIC CIRCLE’s “Departed Souls” video RIGHT HERE and stream the track at all major digital providers including Bandcamp HERE.

20 Buck Spin will issue Departed Souls on LP, CD, cassette, and all digital platforms March 29th. Watch for preorders to be posted in the days ahead. If you regularly spin Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Trouble, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General, early-Soundgarden, Judas Priest, Witchcraft, and Saint Vitus, become a part of the MAGIC CIRCLE.

The band will play select festivals and shows throughout 2019, with a performance at Hell Over Hammaburg in Germany on March 1st confirmed. Watch for more information to be released in the weeks ahead.

MAGIC CIRCLE Live:
3/01/2019 Hell Over Hammaburg – Hamburg, DE

Departed Souls Track Listing:
1. Departed Souls
2. I’ve Found My Way To Die
3. Valley Of The Lepers
4. A Day Will Dawn Without Nightmares
5. Nightland
6. Gone Again
7. Bird City Blues
8. Hypnotized

https://magiccircle.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.20buckspin.com
http://www.facebook.com/20buckspin
http://twitter.com/20buckspinlabel
https://www.instagram.com/20buckspinlabel

Magic Circle, “Departed Souls” official video

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Hey Zeus, X

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hey Zeus X

[Click play above to stream Hey Zeus’ debut album, X, in its entirety. It’s out this week on Argonauta Records.]

Hey Zeus have been kicking around Boston’s heavy rock underground for last six years to some degree or other, following in a tradition of straightforward, catchy, well-composed heavy rock that’s no less a cultural institution for the city than local-sports worship, yelling shit at pedestrians from moving vehicles and drinking. Signed early last year to Argonauta Records, their debut full-length, X, follows a 2014 split with White Dynomite (review here), and other tracks posted as singles such as “Caveman” (premiered here) and “Richard the Elder” (posted here) in 2016. A penchant for covering Deep Purple — legit — that manifests on X as a duly head-spinning take on “Bloodsucker” also goes back to the band’s earlier days playing live, so it seems safe enough to argue that X is the realization of multiple years of putting the material together and refining it, and as the resulting nine-song/29-minute offering arrives nearly six years to the day from the band’s first show, one can hear those efforts in the tightness of composition throughout.

Songs like “Richard the Elder,” opener “These Eyes,” “Save Your” (as opposed to “saviour”) and careening speedsters like “I Don’t Want It,” “X Marks the Rocks” and closer “Queens” realize a hooky, engaging energy that vocalist Bice Nathan gleefully puts over the top, though in the company of guitarist Pete Knipfing, bassist Ken Cmar and drummer Todd Bowman, he’s hardly the only one catching that charge. And as much as a comparison to erstwhile Beantown kingpins Roadsaw feels inevitable, perhaps even more relevant is the connection Knipfing and Bowman share from their prior outfit Lamont, whose dedicated sans-frills urgency seems as well to inform some of the writing in X. It should be to the surprise of no one that Hey Zeus can get the job done — the job, by the way, is kicking ass — given the time they’ve spent honing their approach, but that hardly makes the record a less impressive debut. Quite the opposite.

And though one might look at X and find it short at 29 minutes, it’s not so much that there’s anything lacking in terms of what the band wants to convey, but just that they’ve packed it all into that time. That’s not just a question of speed. Even “Gilded,” or “Caveman,” which is the longest inclusion at 3:53, varies its tempo in order to find the right niche of groove that suits the song. They’re not forcing that feeling of electricity to what they do — it’s just there. No coincidence that the Deep Purple song they take on was from In Rock, which was arguably that band’s most lethal of outings, but there’s more to X than just rushing through a collection of songs. Nathan brings a subtle sense of arrangement to the vocals and finds melodies between the distorted lines of Knipfing‘s riffs. Cmar‘s rumbling bass proves essential early on to the drive of “I Don’t Want It,” and is unrelenting, and though Nathan adds percussion later in a break within “Save Your,” Bowman‘s drumming is intermittently furious enough to cover that ground anyway, shifting fluidly from the swinging finish of “Richard the Elder” to the classic riff rock strut of “Caveman” and the starts and stops that permeate “Queens.”

hey zeus

So what do we have? Rock album. Heavy. Rock and roll. Sharp songs. Crisp performances. Clear, full production value. Boot-meet-butt energy. Cool. What separates Hey Zeus from multitudes working from essentially the same elements, however, is the level of their craft and the way they use it throughout X. While I don’t think it’s anyone involved’s first record, it’s still the first record from the band, and their dynamic is not to be understated as a pivotal factor in their approach. The interplay between Knipfing and Cmar on guitar and bass during the former’s solos alone stands as testament to the work they’ve done in terms of developing a conversation between players, and with Bowman as the grounding force, they’re able to smoothly shift tempos and moods at a measure’s notice, making their songs less predictable even as they’re en route to an immediately familiar chorus. Throw in a healthy dose of attitude from Nathan and the chops to back it up, and not only carries forward the legacy of Boston’s heavy rock history, but seeks to find its own place and build upon it.

Or maybe they’re just looking to down some beers and have a good time, blow off steam from hating their jobs and whatever else. That’s no less valid a take. What’s important are the results they get across this collection of songs, and one of the great strengths of X is the momentum Hey Zeus amass as they wind their way through the progression of tracks. Even the Deep Purple cover, which though lacking organ is otherwise pretty loyal to the spirit of the original, feeds into the thrust of the material surrounding, picking up from the breather ending of “Caveman” and leading the way into “Queens” at the finish. It’s part of an overarching push that begins with “These Eyes” and continues through everything that follows; the classic “set the tone” spirit of the opener indicative of the proceedings on the whole, and though it’s easy enough to tag the whole thing as straight-ahead, all-go, etc., Knipfing does find room to slide some Southern edge into his guitar on “Save Your,” and the gang shouts behind Nathan on “X Marks the Rocks” is no less an important sonic detail.

What those convey, once again, is the work that’s gone into this material. While not staid at all — shit, it barely stands still long enough to be heard — X has a foundation it’s building from. As much as they might try to convince you otherwise, Hey Zeus didn’t just throw these songs together and — whoops! — come out with an air-tight collection of tracks that just happen to throw a punch in the gut as they run past. But at the same time, they do successfully balance that level of songmaking with the vitality that’s so central to making it all function. That might be the record’s great accomplishment — it feels true to a live experience without losing hold of itself as a studio outing. And it may have taken Hey Zeus more than half a decade to get to this point, but it’s hard to take X as a whole and not consider it worth the effort on their part.

Hey Zeus on Bandcamp

Hey Zeus on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records on Twitter

Argonauta Records on Instagram

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Sundrifter Post “Sons of Belial” Video; Playing SXSW and More

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sundrifter

For those who think desert rock has to come from a desert, let alone any specific desert, Boston’s Sundrifter would stand in ready contradiction to such geographic prejudice. The trio issued Visitations (review here), through Small Stone Records last year as their label debut and second album overall, and its atmosphere, combination of laid-back roll, weighted tones and melodies — read: fuzz, fuzz, fuzz — situate it well within the parameters of a desert style. Shit, they’ve got desert rock in Finland. You can’t tell me it can’t come from the East Coast.

That said, one of the most fascinating aspects of Sundrifter‘s Visitations, which earns a revisit with the band’s new video for opening track “Sons of Belial,” is the band’s defiance of their climate. I’m not just talking about miserable Boston weather — though people in the area do, at length, as though they’re continually surprised by it — but also the greater Northeastern tendency toward an intensity of delivery. Visitations has its moments of push, as in “Lightworker” or parts of “Targeted,” which follows on side A, but even these are carried out with a sense of melody and serenity behind them, and at their most forward-directed, Sundrifter owe far more to Queens of the Stone Age than even to their Beantown forebears in Roadsaw. Coupled with the sense of atmosphere manifest from guitarist/vocalist Craig Peura, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan, that mellow-ish overarching vibe does much to enrich the listening experience overall. It’s not that they’re lacking energy, they’re just not using that energy to shout shit at you from a moving vehicle.

They’ve reportedly started writing new material, which is plenty nifty, but Sundrifter will head out of New England as well as 2019 gets underway, hitting up SXSW in Austin, Texas, this March to play Small Stone‘s return showcase, dubbed ‘The Finest in Fuzz,’ alongside Tia CarreraDwellersIrataLa Chinga and The Cold Stares. I have no doubt they’ll be made to feel duly welcome in that environment, even as they convey one so seemingly disparate from that which they left behind. More shows are reportedly to be added this Spring, so stay tuned.

And of course you can enjoy “Sons of Belial” on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Dig:

Sundrifter, “Sons of Belial” official video

“Sons Of Belial” [is] the latest video from New England-based desert rock trio SUNDRIFTER. The track comes by way of the band’s Visitations full-length released via Small Stone last fall.

Notes the band of the fittingly trippy performance clip, “The video for ‘Sons Of Belial’ was filmed at Futura Productions in Roslindale, Massachusetts. The space used to be an old Masonic Temple later converted into an orchestral recording studio. We have been fortunate enough to be able to use the space for tracking both our albums Visitations and Not Coming Back. The space has a certain feel and most importantly an incredible live sound for drums/ For the video, we wanted to glow the entire room red, similar to our live shows. The red glow can put us in a certain state of mind, and it creates an atmosphere which allows a complete experience for the audience. We strive to create imagery through song writing and set certain vibes for the listener and this video for ‘Sons Of Belial’ tries to capture that experience.”

In related news, SUNDRIFTER will play Small Stone’s special SXSW showcase this March alongside Tia Carrera, Irata, La Chinga, Dwellers, and The Cold Stares with additional live performances to be announced in the coming weeks.

SUNDRIFTER:
3/13/2019 Small Stone SXSW Showcase @ Lamberts – Austin, TX

Sundrifter, Visitations (2018)

Sundrifter on Thee Facebooks

Sundrifter on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records website

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

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Benthic Realm Premiere “Untethered” Video; Playing Maryland Doom Fest & New England Stoner and Doom Fest

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

BENTHIC REALM (Photo by Chuck Losey)

I know Benthic Realm have all that melody, and that’s super, don’t get me wrong. I’d even go as far as super-duper, okay? I won’t say a bad word about it, because there isn’t a bad word to say. But if you go ahead and plug your eyeballs into the video for “Untethered” below and watch bassist Maureen Murphy do that longer-chug-pause-shorter-chug thing while drummer Dan Blomquist is busy giving his double-kick the business, that’s death metal happening. In listening to the Krista Van Guilder-led Worcester, Massachusetts’ three-piece’s 2018 second EP, We Will Not Bow (review here), I’m not sure I got just how deep the metal ran in terms of what they were doing. Obviously, it’s metal, and with Van Guider‘s vocal proclamations and gruelingness of riff, it’s plenty doomed, but it never occurred to me really to think of it as death-doom, and with “Untethered” brought into focus apart from its companion tracks on the EP, I’m feeling a bit like I need to revise that position.

And if is death-doom, or maybe doom-death — or melodic doom-death, if one is feeling micro-specific — then fair enough for the dynamic at play between Van Guider, Murphy and Blomquist, as the stylistic breadth and consuming atmospheric darkness only suits them in the recording. It’s ultimately fitting that “Untethered” was captured at the Stoned to Death 3 fest in Brattleboro, Vermont — check out Turn it Up! and In the Moment Records if you’re in town — where they shared the stage with DesolateChained to the Bottom of the OceanConclave and others, since it would seem to be a natural setting, but it’s all the more fortunate that Benthic Realm have the clip to work from as it highlights the scope and nuance of their sound and might lead one to go so far as to revisit We Will Not Bow in its entirety. To that end, you’ll find the stream at the bottom of this post.

What’s the lesson? Well, I think mostly that the trio’s sound isn’t a settled issue. These are experienced players — Van Guilder was in Second GraveWarHorse, etc., while Blomquist currently splits his time in Conclave and Murphy has played in a variety of acts from Dimentianon to Negative Reaction to Second Grave, and so on — but there’s obviously a continuing element of exploration to what they’re doing, and it remains to be seen what they’ll find in the darkness of their own making. A debut full-length seems warranted as a means of fleshing out their sound, though maybe that’s just me hoping they get one out sooner rather than later.

“Untethered” was shot by Sonic Titan Studios. Please enjoy:

Benthic Realm, “Untethered” official video

Video footage c/o Sonic Titan Studios from Stoned To Death Fest-3 filmed inside The Stone Church in Brattleboro, VT.

Link to original video of full set: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E2l5vbSkXg

Benthic Realm, We Will Not Bow (2018)

Benthic Realm on Thee Facebooks

Benthic Realm on Bandcamp

Benthic Realm website

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Mother Iron Horse Sign to Electric Valley Records; Begin Work on First Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Massachusetts newcomers Mother Iron Horse have been a band for about seven months, give or take, but they’ve already got an initial two-songer out in the form of Fall 2018’s The Curse, and they’ve already announced work has begun on their debut full-length, which will be released through Electric Valley Records. One might call that a productive start and perhaps leave the understatement to speak for itself, but either way, the four-piece don’t have a set arrival date for the record or anything — “work has begun” could mean six months of writing followed by another six of recording, however contrary that would be to their initial intensity — but it’s in progress. In the meantime, the two tracks of The Curse are at the bottom of this post if you’d care to dig in, and we’ll file the rest neatly away under “more to come.”

The announcement from Electric Valley follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

mother iron horse

Electric Valley Records – Mother Iron Horse

Electric Valley Records is proud to announce the signing of the american Stoner/Doom Band *** MOTHER IRON HORSE ***

Formed in 2018 in Salem, Ma, Mother Iron Horse is Adam Luca, Marco Medina, Chris Kobialka and Devin Fields.

Blending esoteric lyrics with roaring guitar riffs in a way that packs Doom Metal and Rock n Roll into one red eyed, beer soaked suitcase and kicks it down the stairs.

The band came to fruition over a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon and the shared background of Boston’s heavy music scene. The band officially started in July 2018, but, due to set backs, didn’t get going until October 2018. The Salem band released a two-track EP on Halloween 2018 which garnered them some national exposure. In January of 2019 Mother Iron Horse signed to Electric Valley Records and began recording their debut full length album.

https://www.facebook.com/MotherIronHorse/
www.instagram.com/mother_iron_horse
motherironhorse.bandcamp.com
www.electricvalleyrecords.com
www.facebook.com/electricvalleyrecords
www.instagram.com/electricvalleyrecords
evrecords.bandcamp.com

Mother Iron Horse, The Curse EP

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Ice Dragon Post New Single “Mors Ontologica”

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Members of Ice Dragon have spent the past couple years exploring different musical ideas in outfits like The Cupboards, Brass Hearse, Panel, etc., and output from the mothership has slowed accordingly. The same band who put out 10 full-lengths and other short releases besides during 2010-2015 issued a two-songer EP called Broken Life (review here) in 2016, a single called “Into the Wasteland (Of Self)” in Jan. 2017, and on this past New Year’s Eve, the single “Mors Ontologica” as their latest work. It is under three minutes in length and takes even less time to bury its morose hook in the frontal cortex of the listener. With a deceptively complex arrangement of vocals atop a nodding instrumental progression, it blends the band’s roots in doom and some of their more experimentalist and psychedelic tendencies to an effective pulse of atmospheric melancholy.

The chorus, “Mors ontologica/Not all who sleep are dead,” could easily be taken as a statement about the band itself, but I wouldn’t speculate, and to expect Ice Dragon at this point to return to the frenetic pace of offerings they had a few years ago seems unrealistic. Stranger things have happened, but that doesn’t make it likely. Whether “Mors Ontologica” is a signal of a return to activity on any level from Ice Dragon will remain to be seen, but in the meantime, its balance between nuanced aesthetic and basic structure show just how much the band still has to say if they want to say it. Enjoy it for what it is and let the rest work itself out how it will.

They posted the lyrics with it on Bandcamp, so here they are:

Ice Dragon Mors Ontologica

Ice Dragon – Mors Ontologica

Written, Recorded and Mastered at Ron’s Wrecker Service.

Remember warmth
Remember time
Like fading colors
Passing by

Mors ontologica
Not all who sleep are dead

Smoke forms
From all that burns
Lean into nothing
Our hearts still yearn

Mors ontologica
Not all who sleep are dead

Ice Dragon is:
Ron – Vocals, Bass
Joe – Guitar
Brad – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/icedragonofficial
https://www.instagram.com/playingrecords/
https://icedragon.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/hotronscorcher

Ice Dragon, “Mors Ontologica”

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Quarterly Review: Surya Kris Peters, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Lair of the Minotaur, Sonic Wolves, Spacelord, Nauticus, Yuxa, Forktie, Ohhms, Blue Dream

Posted in Reviews on December 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I had a terrible thought yesterday: What if this one… went to 11? That is, what if, after 10 days of Quarterly Review ending today with a grand total of 100 records reviewed since last Monday, I did another batch of 10? Like a bonus round? Like I said, terrible thought.

Pretty sure it won’t happen. I’ve already got a review and a video premiere booked for next Monday, but I definitely had the thought. It was easy, of course, to fill out another 10 slots, and who knows, maybe this weekend for the first time ever I wind up with some extra time and energy on my hands? Could happen, right?

Again, I’m fairly certain it won’t. Let’s proceed with the assumption today’s the last day. Thank you for reading. I hope you have found something cool in all of this that has really hit home. I certainly have. We cap very much in last-but-not-least fashion, and if nothing’s resonated with you yet, don’t count yourself completely out. You might just get there after all. Thanks again.

Quarterly Review #91-100:

Surya Kris Peters, Ego Therapy

Surya Kris Peters Ego Therapy

Those feeling technical will note the full title of the album is Surya Kris Peters’ Ego Therapy, but the point gets across either way. And even as Christian Peters — also guitarist/vocalist for Samsara Blues Experiment — acknowledges the inherent self-indulgence of the proverbial “solo-project” that his exploration of synth and classically progressive textures under the moniker of Surya Kris Peters has become, with Ego Therapy as his second full-length of 2018, he branches out in including drums from former Terraplane bandmate Jens Vogel. The 10-song/53-minute outing opens with its longest cut (immediate points) in the 15-minute “Angels in Bad Places,” a spaced-out and vibrant atmosphere more cohesive than psychedelia but still trippy as all hell, and moves through a bluesy key/guitar interplay in “Wizard’s Dream” following the dancey thriller soundtrack “Beyond the Sun” and into the Blade Runner-style grandeur of “Sleeping Willow” and the video game-esque “A Fading Spark” before bookending with the sci-fi “Atomic Clock” at the close. I don’t know how ultimately therapeutic Peters‘ solo offerings might be, but he only seems to grow bolder each time out, and that certainly applies here.

Surya Kris Peters on Thee Facebooks

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

 

Lewis and the Strange Magics, The Ginger Sessions

lewis and the strange magics the ginger sessions

How are you not gonna love a release that starts with a song called “Sexadelic Galactic Voyage?” Barcelona vamp rockers Lewis and the Strange Magics embrace their inner funk on the 23-minute self-released EP, The Ginger Sessions, finding the place where their uptempo ’70s fusion meets oldschool The Meters-style rhythm, digging into the repetitions of “Candied Ginger” after the aforementioned instrumental opening burst and then holding the momentum through “Her Vintage Earrings.” Some departure happens on what might be side B of the 10″, with “The Shadow of Your Smile” turning toward pastoral psychedelia, still rhythmic thanks to some prominent wood block and xylophone sounds, but much calmer despite a consistency of wah and keys. “Suzy’s Room II” follows in fuzzy fashion, bridging the earlier cologne-soaked, chest-hair-out vibes with garage buzz and a heavier low end beneath the synthesized experimentation. Mellotron shows up and continues to hold sway in closer “Witch’s Brew,” playing the band outward along with layers of drifting guitar for about two and a half minutes of bluesy serenity that feel cut short, as does the release on the whole. One hopes they don’t lose that funky edge going into their next album.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

 

Lair of the Minotaur, Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Lair of the Minotaur Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Once upon the mid-aughts, Chicago’s Lair of the Minotaur roamed the land as the long-prophesied American answer to Entombed, as much classic, dirt-covered death metal as they were laden with heavy groove. Their tones filthy, their assault brutal all the while, war metal, ultimate destroyers. The whole nine. They released their last album, Evil Power (review here), in 2010. The two-songer Dragon Eagle of Chaos follows a 2013 single, and was released to mark the occasion of perhaps a return to some measure of greater activity. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but as both “Dragon Eagle of Chaos” and “Kunsult the Bones” affirm in about seven minutes between them, Lair of the Minotaur remain a wrecking ball made of raw meat when it comes to their sound. The madness that seemed to always underline their material at its most effective is present and accounted for in “Dragon Eagle of Chaos,” and the stripped-down production of the single actually helps its violent cause. Will they do another record? Could go either way, but if they decide to go that route, they clearly still have the evil power within.

Lair of the Minotaur website

Lair of the Minotaur on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Wolves, Sonic Wolves

sonic wolves sonic wolves

Eight tracks/34 minutes of smoothly-arranged and well-executed doom rock brought to bear with an abiding lack of pretense and a developing sense of songcraft and dynamic — there’s very little not to dig about Sonic Wolves‘ self-titled LP (on Future Noise and DHU), from the Sabbathian stretch of “Ascension” down through the bouncing low-key-psych-turns-to-full-on-wah-overdose-swirl in the penultimate “Heavy Light.” Along the way, bassist/vocalist Kayt Vigil (ex-Pentagram, etc.) — joined by guitarists Jason Nealy and Enrico “Ico” Aniasi and drummer Gianni “Vita” Vitarelli (also Ufomammut) — gallop through the traditional metal of “Red Temple” and ride a fuzzy roll in “Tide of Chaos,” leaving the uptempo shuffle of “You’ll Climb the Walls” to close out by tapping into a “Wicked World”-style vision of heavy blues that casts off many of the tropes of what’s become the subgenre in favor of a darker approach. If their self-titled is Sonic Wolves declaring who they are as a band after making their debut in 2016, the results are only encouraging.

Sonic Wolves on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

Future Noise Recordings webstore

 

Spacelord, Indecipher

Spacelord Indecipher

There is an immediate sensibility drawn from classic heavy rock to the vocals on Spacelord‘s second record, Indecipher, like Shannon Hoon fronting Led Zeppelin, maybe? Something like that, definitely drawn from a ’70s/’90s blend. Produced, mixed and mastered by guitarist Rich Root, with Chris Cappiello on bass, Kevin Flynn on drums and Ed Grabianowski on vocals, the four-piece’s sophomore LP is comprised of a neatly-constructed eight songs working around sci-fi themes on bruiser cuts like “Super Starship Adventure” and the particularly righteous “Zero Hour,” as opener and longest track (immediate points) “For the Unloved Ones” sets forth the classic vibe amid the first of the record’s impressive solos and resonant hooks. Something about it makes me want them to go completely over the top in terms of production their next time out — layers on layers on layers, etc. — but the kind of false start Grabianowski brings to the ultra-Zepped “New Machine” has a charm that I’m not sure it would be worth sacrificing.

Spacelord on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Nauticus, Disappear in Blue

Nauticus Disappear in Blue

Six years after the release of their second album, The Wait (review here), Finnish atmospheric progressive metallers Nauticus effect a return with the 78-minute Disappear in Blue, which following the relatively straightforward opening with “Magma” casts out a vast sprawl in accordance with its oceanic theme. Longer tracks like “Claimed by the Sea,” “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies,” “Arrival” and “Hieronymus” are complex and varied but united through a deep instrumental dynamic that’s brought to light even in the three-minute ambient post-rocker “Desolation,” which is something of an interlude between “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies” and the tense build of “Singularity.” Other ambient spaces “Jesus of Lübeck” and the later “Whale Bones” complement and add reach to the longer-form works, but it’s hardly as though Nauticus‘ material lacks character one way or the other. Overwhelming in its length, Disappear in Blue might take some time to wade through, but what a way to go.

Nauticus on Thee Facebooks

Nauticus on Bandcamp

 

Yuxa, Yuxa

yuxa yuxa

As the greater part of anything related to post-metal invariably does, UK outfit Yuxa have their “Stones from the Sky” moment in “Founder in Light,” the opening cut from their self-titled debut EP, that most formative of progressions making itself known in modified form to suit the double-guitar four-piece’s intent with dramatic screams and shouts cutting through an ably-conjured surge of noisy adrenaline resolving in winding chug and crash en route to “Exiled Hand,” the seven-minute cut that follows and serves as centerpiece of the three-tracker. “Founder in Light,” “Exiled Hand” and nine-minute closer “Peer” are arranged shortest to longest, and the effect is to draw the listener in such that by the time the angular, purposeful lurch of the finale begins to unfold, Yuxa‘s rhythmic hypnosis is already well complete. Still, the straightforward arrangements of guitar, bass, drums and vocals give them a rawer edge than many synth- or sample-laden post-metallic cohorts, and that suits the atmospheric sludge with which they close out, harnessing chaos without giving themselves over to it. A quick sample of a creative development getting underway, though it’s telling as well that Yuxa ends with a sudden buzz of amp noise.

Yuxa on Thee Facebooks

Yuxa on Bandcamp

 

Forktie, EP

forktie forktie

The first EP release from Forktie — who stylize their moniker and titles all-lowercase: forktie — is untitled, but contains five tracks that tap into proto-emo post-hardcore and ’90s alt rock sensibilities, finding a place between heavy rock and grunge that allows for Aarone Victorine‘s bass to lead toward the hook of centerpiece “Decomposition Book” with a smooth presence that’s well complementary the vocals from guitarist Dom Mariano, their presence low in the mix only adding to the wistful feel of “Anywhere but Here” and “September Morning,” before the shorter “Spores” lets loose some more push from drummer Corey LeBlanc and closer “Ph.D. in Nothing” reinforces the underlying melancholy beneath the thicker exterior tones. It’s a new project, but Forktie have worked their way into a niche that suits their songwriting well, and given themselves a space to grow within their sound. Members experience in bands like UXO, Test Meat and textbookcopilot will serve them in that effort.

Forktie on Thee Facebooks

Forktie on Bandcamp

 

Ohhms, Exist

ohhms exist

As a fan generally of bands opening albums with the longest song included, I can get on board with UK heavy progressive metallers Ohhms opening Exist with the 22-minute “Subjects.” Immediate points and all that. Far more consequential, however, is the substance of that launch for the four-song/43-minute Holy Roar LP, which is the band’s fourth in four years. It’s a vast, broad and complex offering unto itself, consuming side A as vocalist Paul Waller embodies various entities, “I am wolf” (preceding a Duran Duran reference, perhaps inadvertent), “I am child,” and so on. Those proclamations are just the culmination of a progression that, frankly, is an album unto itself, let alone a side, and maybe should’ve been released as such, though the absolute post-metallic crush of “Shambles,” the seething of “Calves” and the heavy post-rock reach of “Lay Down Your Firearms” need no further justification than a simple listen provides, the last of them pummeling side B to a then-sudden stop. Ohhms are no strangers to longform work, and it suits them well enough to make one wonder if they couldn’t be headed toward a single-song LP in the near future.

Ohhms on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records on Bandcamp

 

Blue Dream, Volume Blue

Blue Dream Volume Blue

Chicago four-piece Blue Dream issued their first LP, Volume Won, early in 2018 and follow with Volume Blue — as opposed to “two”; could ‘Volume Tree’ be in the works? ‘Volume Free?’ — which collects nine neo-psych-mit-der-funky-grooves cuts chic enough to be urbane but fuzzed out enough to make the freakouts more than just a come on. They open peaceful enough with “Delta,” before the hook of “9,000 lb. Machine” defines the course and cuts like “Thank You for Smoking” and the almost woefully catchy “She’s Hot” expand the parameters. I’ll take the dream-tone shimmer of “Kingsbury Goldmine” any day in a kind of self-aware reflection of British folk and/or the garage rock of “Shake the Shake,” but the dense roll of “Viper Venom” that immediately follows reimagines grunge as more than just an influence from three popular bands and something that could genuinely move forward from the perspective of a new generation. Hearing Blue Dream close out with the boogie of “The Glide,” one hopes they do precisely that, though I’d by no means limit them to one avenue of expression. They’re clearly able to harness multiple vibes here.

Blue Dream on Thee Facebooks

Blue Dream on Bandcamp

 

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