Quarterly Review: Horisont, Ahab, Rrrags, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Earthbong, Rito Verdugo, Death the Leveller, Marrowfields, Dätcha Mandala, Numidia

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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Well, I’m starting an hour later than I did yesterday, so that’s maybe not the most encouraging beginning I could think of, but screw it, I’m here, got music on, got fingers on keys, so I guess we’re underway. Yesterday was remarkably easy, even by Quarterly Review standards. I’ve been doing this long enough at this point — five-plus years — that I approach it with a reasonable amount of confidence it’ll get done barring some unforeseen disaster.

But yesterday was a breeze. What does today hold? In the words of Mrs. Wagner from fourth grade homeroom, “see me after.”

Ready, set, go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Horisont, Sudden Death

horisont sudden death

With a hefty dose of piano up front and keys throughout, Gothenburg traditionalist heavy rockers Doctor Of Audiology Resume - Instead of wasting time in inefficient attempts, get qualified assistance here confide your report to experienced writers working Horisont push retro-ism into full-on arena status. Moving past some of the sci-fi aspects of 2017’s master thesis empirical part homework help study state capitols academia essay writers scam google webmaster tools thesis theme About Time, Quality Best Resume Writing Services In Atlanta Ga Weathers are needed to service entrepreneurs in the areas local to Tallahassee, Fl., Gainesville, Fl., and Pensacola, Fl. Benefits Sudden Death comprises 13 tracks and an hour’s runtime, so rest assured, there’s room for everything, including the sax on “Into the Night,” the circa-’77 rock drama in the midsection of the eight-minute “Archeopteryx in Flight,” and the comparatively straightforward seeming bounce of “Sail On.” With cocaine-era production style, find dissertation online jobs Admission Store Business Plan how do you write a website in an essay do write a bibliography Sudden Death is beyond the earlier-’70s vintage mindset of the band’s earliest work, and songs like “Standing Here” and the penultimate proto-metaller “Reign of Madness” stake a claim on the later era, but the post- proposal and dissertation help between http://www.eco-h.ru/?free-homework-planner Legit martin luther king i have a dream essay personal essay for medical school Queen melody of “Revolution” at the outset and the acoustic swing in “Free Riding” that follows set a lighthearted tone, and as always seems to be the case with Every How To Write An Admissions Essay For College at Chanakya Research makes it a point to work diligently towards undertaking thesis work and bringing out novel and relevant papers for clients. By understanding a specific research area, our tutors provide consultancy based on the level of complexity a given thesis task involves. Horisont, there’s nothing that comes across as more important than the songwriting.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Century Media website

 

Ahab, Live Prey

ahab live prey

Scourge of the seven seas that German nautically-themed funeral doomers Free Printable Business Plan Template - We do not reuse ANY custom papers and we do not disclose customers private information. Ahab are, how to write custom events in asp net Essay Write Help essay paypal essaywritinghelp Live Prey is their first live album and it finds them some five years removed from their last studio LP, Comment Conclure Une Dissertation Litteraires: Over 180,000 Helping Others Essays, Helping Others Term Papers, Helping Others Research Paper, Book Reports. 184 990 ESSAYS, term The Boats of the Glen Carrig (review here). For a band who in the past has worked at a steady three-year pace, maybe it was time for something, anything to make its way to public ears. Fair enough, and in five tracks and 63 minutes, Expert http://www.healthlink.cz/?animal-farm-theme-essay for people who need help to Write Essay, Term Paper, Thesis or Homework. Hire an Expert Writer to Complete your Papers Online. Live Prey spans all the way back to 2006’s Trusted http://thangtienthanglong.edu.vn/?writing-descriptive-essay with 100% satisfaction guarantee! Get prompt help with your academic assignments from experienced research paper Call of the Wretched Sea with “Ahab’s Oath” and presents all but two of that debut’s songs, beginning with the trilogy “Below the Sun,” “The Pacific” and “Old Thunder” and switching the order of “Ahab’s Oath” and “The Hunt” from how they originally appeared on the first record to end with the foreboding sounds of waves rolling accompanied by minimal keyboards. It’s massively heavy, of course — so was Welcome to the best great post to read website of Australia which offers cheap and reliable custom papers to the students. GUARANTEED! Call of the Wretched Sea — and whatever their reason for not including any other album’s material, at least they’ve included anything.

Ahab on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Rrrags, High Protein

rrrags high protein

Let’s assume the title To Get custom personal writing Service fill out the contact form here or email us at hi@geeksprogramming.com You can get in touch for any with programming assignments or projects in any of the modern programming languages. High Protein might refer to the fact that Dutch/Belgian power trio Asking "Read More Here online"? Hire the best essay writer and get your work done in an hours. Special December Offer. -50% OFF Rrrags have ‘trimmed the fat’ from the eight songs that comprise their 33-minute sophomore LP. It’s easy enough to believe listening to a cut like “Messin'” or the subsequent “Sad Sanity,” which between the two of them are about as long as the 5:14 opener “The Fridge” just before. But while We provide Buy Essay Online Singapore to small and medium size companies for start-ups and businesses already operating. High Protein has movers and groovers galore in those tracks and the fuzzier “Sugarcube” — the tone of which might remind that guitarist Ron Van Herpen is in Astrosoniq — the stomping “Demons Dancing” and the strutter “Hellfire,” there’s live-DeepPurple-style breadth on the eight-minute “Dark is the Day” and closer “Window” bookends “The Fridge” in length while mellowing out and giving drummer/vocalist Rob Martin a rest (he’s earned it by then) while bassist Rob Zim and Van Herpen carry the finale. If thinking of it as a sleeper hit helps you get on board, so be it, but Rrrags‘ second album is of unmitigated class and straight-up killer performance. It is not one to be overlooked.

Rrrags on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Viscerals

pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs viscerals

There’s stoner roll and doomed crash in “New Body,” drone-laced spoken-word experimentalism in “Blood and Butter,” and post-punk angular whathaveyou as “Halloween Bolson” plays out its nine-minute stretch, but Viscerals — the third or fourth Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs album, depending on what you count — seems to be at its most satisfying in blowout freak-psych moments like opener “Reducer” and “Rubbernecker,” which follows, while the kinda-metal of “World Crust”‘s central riff stumbles willfully and teases coming apart before circling back, and “Crazy in Blood” and closer “Hell’s Teeth” are more straight-up heavy rock. It’s a fairly wide arc the UK outfit spread from one end of the record to the other — and they’re brash enough to pull it off, to be sure — but with the hype machine so fervently behind them, I have a hard time knowing whether I’m actually just left flat by the record itself or all the hyperbole-set-on-fire that’s surrounded the band for the last couple years. Viscerals gets to the heart of the matter, sure enough, but then what?

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Earthbong, Bong Rites

Earthbong Bong Rites

Kiel, Germany’s Earthbong answer the stoner-sludge extremity of their 2018 debut, One Earth One Bong (review here), with, well, more stoner-sludge extremity. What, you thought they’d go prog? Forget it. You get three songs. Opener “Goddamn High” and “Weedcult Today” top 15 minutes each, and closer “Monk’s Blood” hits half an hour. Do the quick math yourself on that and you’ll understand just how much Earthbong have been looking forward to bashing you over the head with riffs. “Weedcult Today” is more agonizingly slow than “Goddamn High,” at least at the beginning, but it builds up and rolls into a pace that, come to think of it, is still probably slower than most, and of course “Monk’s Blood” is an epic undertaking right up to its last five minutes of noise. It could’ve been an album on its own. But seriously, if you think Earthbong give a shit, you’re way off base. This is tone, riff and weed worship and everything else is at best a secondary concern. Spend an hour at mass and see if you don’t come out converted.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus

rito verdugo post-primatus

No doubt that at some future time shortly after the entire world has moved on from the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a glut of releases comprised of material written during the lockdown. Peruvian four-piece Rito Verdugo are ahead of the game, then, with their Post-Primatus four-song EP. Issued digitally as the name-your-price follow-up to their also-name-your-price 2018 debut, Cosmos, it sets a 14-minute run from its shortest cut to its longest, shifting from the trippy “Misterio” into fuzz rockers “Monte Gorila” (which distills Earthless vibes to just over three minutes) and “Lo Subnormal” en route to the rawer garage psychedelia of “Inhumación,” which replaces its vocals with stretches of lead guitar that do more than just fill the spaces verses might otherwise be and instead add to the breadth of the release as a whole. Safe to assume Rito Verdugo didn’t plan on spending any amount of time this year staying home to avoid getting a plague, but at least they were able to use the time productively to give listeners a quick sample of where they’re at sound-wise coming off the first album. Whenever and however it shows up, I’ll look forward to what they do next.

Rito Verdugo on Thee Facebooks

Rito Verdugo on Bandcamp

 

Death the Leveller, II

Death the Leveller II

Signed to Cruz Del Sur Music as part of that label’s expanding foray into traditionalist doom (see also: Pale Divine, The Wizar’d, Apostle of Solitude, etc.), Dublin’s Death the Leveller present an emotionally driven four tracks on their 38-minute label debut, the counterintuitively titled II. Listed as their first full-length, it’s about the same length as their debut “EP,” 2017’s I, but more important is the comfort and patience the band shows with working in longer-form material, opener “The Hunt Eternal,” “The Golden Bough” and closer “The Crossing” making an impression at over nine minutes apiece — “The Golden Bough” tops 12 — while “So They May Face the Sun” runs a mere 7:37 and is perhaps the most unhurried of the bunch, playing out with a cinematic sweep of guitar melody and another showcase for the significant presence of frontman Denis Dowling, who’s high in the mix at times but earns that forward position with a suitably standout performance across the record’s span.

Death the Leveller on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Marrowfields, Metamorphoses

marrowfields metamorphoses

It isn’t surprising to learn that the members of Fall River, Massachusetts, five-piece Marrowfields come from something of an array of underground styles, some of them pushing into more extreme terrain, because the five songs of their debut full-length, Metamorphoses, do likewise. With founding guitarist/main-songwriter Brandon Green at the helm as producer as well, there’s a suitably inward-looking feel to the material, but coinciding with its rich atmospheres are flashes of blastbeats, death metal chug, double-kick and backing growls behind the cleaner melodic vocals that keep Marrowfields distinct from entirely traditionalist doom. It is a niche into which they fit well on this first long-player, and across the five songs/52 minutes of Metamorphoses, they indeed shapeshift between genre elements in order to best serve the purposes of the material, calling to mind Argus in the progressive early stretch of centerpiece “Birth of the Liberator” while tapping Paradise Lost chug and ambience before the blasts kick in on closer “Dragged to the World Below.” Will be interesting to see which way their — or Green‘s, as it were — focus ultimately lies, but there isn’t one aesthetic nuance misused here.

Marrowfields on Thee Facebooks

Black Lion Records on Bandcamp

 

Dätcha Mandala, Hara

datcha mandala hara

Dätcha Mandala present a strong opening salvo of rockers on Hara, their second album for MRS Red Sound, before turning over to all-out tambourine-and-harp blues on “Missing Blues.” From there, they could go basically anywhere they want, and they do, leading with piano on “Morning Song,” doing wrist-cramp-chug-into-disco-hop in “Sick Machine” and meeting hand-percussion with space rocking vibes on “Moha.” They’ve already come a long way from the somewhat misleading ’70s heavy of opener “Stick it Out,” “Mother God” and “Who You Are,” but the sonic turns that continue with the harder-edged “Eht Bup,” the ’70s balladry of “Tit’s,” an unabashed bit o’ twang on “On the Road” and full-on fuzz into a noise freakout on closer “Pavot.” Just what the hell is going on with Hara? Anything Dätcha Mandala so desire, it would seem. They have the energy to back it up, but if you see them labeled as any one microgenre or another, keep in mind that inevitably that’s only part of the story and the whole thing is much weirder than they might be letting on. No complaints with that.

Dätcha Mandala on Thee Facebooks

MRS Red Sound

 

Numidia, Numidia

Numidia Numidia

If you’ve got voices in your band that can harmonize like guitarists James Draper, Shane Linfoot and Mike Zoias, I’m not entirely sure what would lead you to start your debut record with a four-minute instrumental, but one way or another, Sydney, Australia’s Numidia — completed by bassist/keyboardist Alex Raffaelli and drummer Nathan McMahon — find worthy manners in which to spend their time. Their first collection takes an exploratory approach to progressive heavy rock, seeming to feel its way through components strung together effectively while staying centered around the guitars. Yes, three of them. Psychedelia plays a strong role in later pieces “Red Hymn” and the folky “Te Waka,” but if the eponymous “Numidia” is a mission statement on the part of the five-piece, it’s one cast in a prog mentality pushed forward with poise to suit. Side A capper “A Million Martyrs” would seem to draw the different sides together, but it’s no minor task for it to do so, and there’s little sign in these songs that Numidia won’t grow more expansive as time goes on.

Numidia on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

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Worshipper Release New Single “Lonesome Boredom Overdrive”

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

If you’re not looking forward to the next Worshipper record, here’s a good reason why you should be. And if you can believe it — I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the notion, to tell you the truth — the Boston melodic heavy rockers’ new single “Lonesome Boredom Overdrive” isn’t about life under a pandemic lockdown, apropos as it might seem.

The cover art for the new single clearly ties it to Worshipper‘s 2018 second album, Light in the Wire (review here), even as it recalls the poster for Hitchcock’s Vertigo and I agree with vocalist John Brookhouse when he cites the Alice in Chains-style vibe of the track. I hear the declining downer riffing of that band’s Dirt-era here, as well as in some of Brookhouse‘s lyric patterning and self-harmonizing. If that’s a thing you have a problem with, I humbly submit that you should consider rethinking your position.

Today is a Bandcamp no-fee day. The song costs a buck. Not sure what else you might want. And by the way, if Tee Pee Records wanted to do a deluxe edition CD reissue of Light in the Wire with “Lonesome Boredom Overdrive” nestled somewhere into the tracklisting, that’d be just fine by me.

Here’s the track info, links and stream:

worshipper lonesome boredom overdrive

WORSHIPPER – Lonesome Boredom Overdrive

https://worshipper.bandcamp.com/track/lonesome-boredom-overdrive

“Here’s a song that we recorded and mixed for our last record Light in the Wire, but couldn’t quite fit on there for one reason or another. (Run time, mostly.) At a time when many of us are stuck at home, not able to do the things we usually do to entertain ourselves, this song has taken on new meaning. Initially, I came up with the lyrics when I was feeling particularly drained by the daily grind, but now, it seems pretty apropos to put this song out, considering the title and the current dynamic.

This song began with a riff that Al came up with and it may actually be one of our heaviest songs. When we play it live, my head feels like it’s going to collapse, so that’s probably a good sign that a song is fairly heavy. It also has a decidedly Alice in Chains vibe to it, which, let’s be honest for a few of us in the band, was a pretty seminal influence, but was more of a happy accident than anything. So, enjoy! I hope this helps tame your boredom for a moment or two.” – John Brookhouse

released June 5, 2020
Lyrics by John Brookhouse
Music by WORSHIPPER

Produced by CHRIS JOHNSON
Recorded June 2018 at God City Studios SALEM, MA
Tracking & Mix July-Dec 2018 at The Electric Bunker BRIGHTON, MA
Mastered by Brian Charles at Zippah Studios BROOKLINE, MA

https://www.facebook.com/worshipperband/
https://www.instagram/worshipperband
https://worshipper.bandcamp.com/
http://teepeerecords.com

Worshipper, “Lonesome Boredom Overdrive”

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Friday Full-Length: Gozu, Locust Season

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

 

Gozu‘s Locust Season (review here) came as a surprise. From out of one of the US’ most established heavy undergrounds — namely Boston’s — came a largely previously unheard four-piece, who immediately signed to Small Stone and dropped a debut album that sounded like most bands’ third record. Who the hell were these guys?

Guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney and guitarist Doug Sherman had been in bands together before and performed in a variety of styles, but arguably it was then-drummer Barry Spillberg who had the most established pedigree, having played in Wargasm. Bassist Jay Cannava (also Clouds) would be out of the band by their next record and the position was nebulous for some time, but Locust Season was nothing if not solidified in its purpose. Recorded with and mixed by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studio in Allston, it was brash in its aggression, weighted in tone and downright arrogant in how much fun it had. The album itself wasn’t nearly so foreboding as the Alexander Von Wieding cover — though haunting — made it out to be, with Roadsaw‘s Craig Riggs sitting in alongside Gaffney for vocals on opener “Meth Cowboy” and second track “Mr. Riddle,” two immediate bangers that fostered a seething groove that was nonetheless righteously soulful.

The album turns 10 years old this summer and the vocal arrangements still stand out. As Sherman‘s leads cut through riffs piled higher than the Blue Mountains and Spillberg propels the band forward in a kind of tension of tempo that marks Locust Season not just as an early release, but one fueled by multiple impulses, Gaffney pulls out falsetto backing vocals behind his lead vocal lines, acting as a chorus for himself, and through “Meth Cowboy,” “Mr. Riddle” and “Regal Beagle” and onward into album highlights “Kam Fong as Chin Ho” and “Jan-Michael Vincent,” his voice remains a standout factor, as creatively arranged as it is sure in its performance. Brimming with swagger that was earned as they went, Gozu‘s songs tore through most of Locust Season‘s 41-minute runtime, brazen in their heavy-rock genre rulebreaking when they wanted to be but still making an impression on the basic level of their riffs and groove, taking what might’ve served as the total aesthetic of another band starting out and instead using it as a foundation to launch their own identity. This was staggering at the time, but it might be even more impressive in hindsight because of how the band’s sound has developed in the years since.

Bottom line? Sherman and Gaffney — the two remaining founding members of the band — knew what they wanted Gozu to be. The band had gozu locust seasonissued a self-titled demo in 2008 — it’s on Bandcamp; good luck finding a CD, even in Boston; I never managed to — that featured “Meth Cowboy” and “Rise Up,” which follows “Jamaican Luau” on side B of Locust Season, but even there the roots of what Gozu would become are plain to hear and the band’s purpose feels set. Certainly there’s been progression in their craft — they’ve grown more patient in their slower parts, and as their lineup solidified with bassist Joe Grotto handling low end and Warhorse‘s Mike Hubbard taking over for Spillberg and the four-piece gained more stage experience together, they naturally became a more dynamic unit. But you can hear that potential in the songs on Locust Season. “Meth Cowboy” and the penultimate “Meat Charger” and “Jan-Michael Vincent” have featured in live sets for years, and revisiting their studio versions, the band’s comfort level with them is readily apparent. “Rise Up” might be the most forgettable track on the album, but it serves its place momentum-wise on side B in terms of the album’s overarching flow, and as closer “Alone” takes hold with swirls of guitar solos over a slower-rolling tempo, Gozu present their interpretation of the classic heavy rock trope of sticking the longest, most drawn-out song at the end.

That’s something they’d push even further on 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here and here), which would be their final outing through Small Stone, but the malleable rhythm and encompassing melody of “Alone” remains striking, with Gaffney‘s high-register singing far back in the mix behind and adrenaline kick of drums and steady guitar push. The song finishes well enough ahead of its seven-minute runtime (on the CD version) to allow for the hidden track “Tomorrow” from Annie being sung by someone’s kid, I’m not sure whose. It’s quite a journey from “Meth Cowboy” to “I love, tomorrow/You’re only a day away,” but so it goes. One more example of Gozu doing whatever the hell they wanted to and getting away with it because there was no one to really stop them except themselves.

The Fury of a Patient Man was an absolute monster of a follow-up to this record. It showed the potential they demonstrated in Locust Season was no fluke and that their identity, while recognizable in the material, was not so rigid as to be unable to progress as it moved forward from one release to the next. Their wont for gag song titles aside, it was clear Gozu were a sonic force to be reckoned with, and as they moved through 2016’s Revival (review here) and 2018’s Equilibrium (review here) — tracking both LPs with producer Dean Baltulonis at Wild Arctic Studio in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, they honed an ever-sharper take that was both more aggressive and more spacious when it wanted to be, the latter album adding breadth to the overriding shove of its predecessor. One way or the other, asses continued to be kicked.

A split with Hubbard was somewhat unexpected when it occurred, but Gozu aligned with Patrick Queenan of Sundrifter in July 2019 and proceeded to tour Europe last Fall. They’re reportedly writing new material, though of course like everyone else, their plans have been hindered by the gutshot-to-productivity that is 2020. All the better then to revisit their debut 10 years after the fact and remember how absolutely blindsiding it was the first time around. Who the hell were these guys? Turns out they were Gozu.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I don’t know how much of this I have in me. There’s stuff scheduled for next week, whatever. A Pale Divine track premiere. That’s something to look forward to. Maybe a Temple Fang stream? We’ll see.

New Gimme show today, 5PM. http://gimmeradio.com

Same as ever.

The rioters are right. I hope no one gets sick while rioting. For future reference, this was the week the President of the United States threatened to shoot black people.

Great and safe, your weekend, I hope.

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Days of Rona: Darryl Shepard of Kind, Test Meat & Blackwolfgoat

Posted in Features on May 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the varied responses of publics and governments worldwide, and the disruption to lives and livelihoods has reached a scale that is unprecedented. Whatever the month or the month after or the future itself brings, more than one generation will bear the mark of having lived through this time, and art, artists, and those who provide the support system to help uphold them have all been affected.

In continuing the Days of Rona feature, it remains pivotal to give a varied human perspective on these events and these responses. It is important to remind ourselves that whether someone is devastated or untouched, sick or well, we are all thinking, feeling people with lives we want to live again, whatever renewed shape they might take from this point onward. We all have to embrace a new normal. What will that be and how will we get there?

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

Kind Darryl Shepard

Days of Rona: Darryl Shepard of Kind, Test Meat & Blackwolfgoat (Malden, Massachusetts)

How have you been you dealing with this crisis as a band? As an individual? What effect has it had on your plans or creative processes?

Neither of my bands, Test Meat or KIND, have been practicing or anything. Neither band had a tour cancelled but a couple of local shows were. KIND had just finished up our album before the stay-at-home order went into effect, we just got it done under the wire. Test Meat played on March 7th, that was right before the shit really hit the fan. It was a great show but there was a weird vibe. I’m doing fine so far, working from home and watching a lot of movies. I don’t rely on my music for income so I guess in this situation I’m somewhat lucky. Otherwise just playing guitar and coming up with riffs. But like I said, no band rehearsals.

How do you feel about the public response to the outbreak where you are? From the government response to the people around you, what have you seen and heard from others?

Overall Boston seems to be dealing with it pretty well except for some protesters who want things to reopen now, but they’re a vocal minority. I live right outside of Boston and in my town it’s pretty chill. Lots of people are wearing masks and being cautious but some aren’t. I only go out like once a day for a walk or supplies. I’ve been to a supermarket once in the past two months, I usually go to smaller stores for what I need. It seems like there’s two separate narratives going on though. Some people are taking this seriously and being cautious and then some people are just acting like nothing at all is wrong. As far as the government response, it’s absolutely atrocious and a joke. It’s criminal in my mind, what they’re doing, such as seizing supplies from states. Governor Baker in Massachusetts though has been doing a great job and is showing some real leadership.

What do you think of how the music community specifically has responded? How do you feel during this time? Are you inspired? Discouraged? Bored? Any and all of it?

It seems like people are getting very creative. Lots of videos being posted of different musicians playing together. I’ve been really enjoying the ones Charlie Benante’s been posting of the S.O.D. semi-reunion and stuff like that. I posted one video on YouTube as Blackwolfgoat, just an improv I did. I’ve been playing guitar and coming up with riffs. I’ll definitely have a few songs once we’re able to rehearse again. I’m not bored at all. I’m a homebody in general so I’m good with watching movies and noodling on my guitar.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything? What is your new normal? What have you learned from this experience, about yourself, your band, or anything?

I’m just staying busy, trying to not think about it too much, watching less news so I don’t get stressed out. Trying to remain hopeful. Like I said, KIND has a new album in the can and that’ll be coming out later this year, so I’m really looking forward to that. Everyone that I play music with seems to be doing okay for now. Just hanging in there, everyone stays in touch either online or via texts. It looks like I’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future, which is totally different for me but I’m fine with it (I work for a law firm, by the way). Just gotta stick it out, take it one day at a time. I think there will be a huge explosion of new music from bands that will come out of this. Hoping so anyway!

https://www.facebook.com/KINDtheband/
https://www.instagram.com/therockbandkind/
https://www.facebook.com/testmeat1/
https://www.instagram.com/test_meat
https://testmeat.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/blackwolfgoat
https://blackwolfgoat.com/

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Interview: Nick DiSalvo of Elder on Omens, Songwriting and More

Posted in Features on May 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

elder

As Elder enter what would otherwise be a significant touring cycle following the release of their fifth album, Omens (review here), one can hear all around the band an increasing influential presence on other bands. The work they’ve been doing particularly over the last five years has begun to resonate with other acts now taking elements Elder helped bring to the fore and making them their own. One aspect of Elder‘s work that remains seemingly inimitable to this point, however, is the songwriting of founding guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, whose linear process brings together what are sometimes seemingly disparate parts — you can hear the stops in songs in places, as if the band were signaling, “Okay, now we go here” — and creating memorable movements out of what are purposefully not catchy choruses in the traditional sense.

In talking to DiSalvo about the new album, I wanted to get more of a sense of where his process comes from and how it has evolved over Elder‘s decade-plus together. The band’s tour plans may be scuffled for the time being due to forces out of their own control, but that does not seem to be hindering the fact that this band is shaping a form of progressive heavy rock in their own image.

Q&A follows here. Please enjoy:

Elder Interview with Nick DiSalvo

One of the most distinguishing facets of Elder is the method by which you write songs. How do songs begin for you? Is there an initial riff or melody that you build out from?

I’ve found recently that we can get more variety out of our songs by working piecemeal on many ideas simultaneously, and then seeing where they converge naturally or can be merged together. I do most of my songwriting at a computer these days, unromantic as it sounds, but I like to think of it as working with an infinite amount of blank canvases. When I’ve got an idea, I’ll plug in a guitar or keyboard and just record it immediately. Then I’ll build on it, fleshing it out with other layers. Sometimes that’ll immediately lead to a new part, or sometimes that’s where the inspiration stops, or sometimes I’ll realize that this is the missing element to a song already in progress. That also means that our songs aren’t being written one-by-one, but developing side by side, which might give the albums a unique flavor as a whole.

In terms of structure, Elder has a more linear style than traditional verses and choruses. How much of that is just what sounds right to you as opposed to a conscious decision?

It’s all pretty much just what sounds right. I like to pack a lot of ideas into our songs and rarely have the time for repeating parts. Instead, it’s more interesting to me to use motifs and recurring themes, changing or referencing them when they return. That’s not to say we couldn’t or wouldn’t use a verse or chorus in our songs if it felt right. I found it really amusing that when we released “Embers” off the new record, some people were complaining that we started using a ‘pop’ song format. Because a chorus appears 2 times in an 11-minute song? It’s apparently become our trademark to never repeat a part, for better or worse.

Are you ever tempted to write a traditional hook, just for the hell of it?

Traditional… maybe not? I don’t know if that would be my strength. A hook like they appear in pop songs wouldn’t work for our band because it just doesn’t fit into the rest of the structure. But I do think that Elder songs have some hooks in terms of catchy elements that, even if they don’t perform the traditional function of pulling a listener into the song at the beginning, they’ll tempt someone to go back and explore the song again, or anticipate that one part they love.

As Elder has grown more complex, you’ve fleshed out melodies and exploratory parts. How does jamming as a full band fit with your more plotted pieces? What specifically does this bring to Omens in your opinion?

We’re still actively trying to figure this out, especially now with a new drummer, and it’s insanely frustrating now with the COVID-19 situation that we have to further wait to get back in the saddle and keep refining ourselves. In general though I think the jamming thing adds a counterweight to all of the other planned parts in an Elder song. It’s the ballad to the rock anthem, in our own fashion. I don’t have a ton of patience for jam sessions and even here I find myself setting boundaries and structures, which maybe we’ll trim back even further in the future… who knows? As far as Omens goes, the jammed-out, floating parts are probably some of my favorite moments of the album. I believe they balance and round out the record as a whole.

Tell me about writing “Halcyon.” What are the song’s origins and what was your vision for it?

That track is a classic case of a song really turning out very differently than expected. “Halcyon” originally began at the now 5-minute mark where the song really kicks in after its extended intro. That was the first part written and intended beginning of the song. At the same time, I was working on another track in the vein of Gold & Silver Sessions that I thought we might interweave into the record as an intermezzo. Mike came up with this guitar lead I really liked, so I slowed it down and built it into that song. Eventually I had the idea to weave the two together and have the jam gradually morph to begin featuring chords from the actual song. When that was established, it was cool because we had a kind of backwards song structure from what we normally do, since these extended jams usually don’t begin our songs. It took legs from there and I was able to write the rest of the song over the next weeks.

“One Light Retreating” seems to touch on more directly emotional ground than Elder has reached before. What is it expressing, instrumentally and lyrically?

In the story told on Omens, the last song describes a kind of last glimpse into existence for humanity on a dying planet. If you were to zoom out, the idea is that you’d see the lights from our planet slowly going out, retreating into dark. The last light retreating is like the last candle of human activity going out. But the mood on the song isn’t sorrow because of that, it’s actually a kind of hope expressed. The lyrics also describe the vegetation growing up again, reaching for the sun and even overgrowing either the bodies or structures left behind by mankind. I think of it as the scene depicted in the cover artwork, where moss is overtaking a ruined statue of a god or important figure. The album’s themes are pretty heavy for me, but the last song is a way of reminding the listener that there’s always light after the dark, or something cheesy like that.

With the band spread out geographically, how has your writing process changed over the years?

It’s been complicated. I’ve bounced around a lot, but we’ve managed to make it work, especially with technology. When working on Lore, I was living and teaching English in Germany at the time. That was the first time I really wrote a solid chunk of a record by myself in isolation, but we still had a pretty collaborative period of revision on those songs when I returned. By the time we were working on Reflections, I had moved again back to Europe and the guys and I would only see each other for tours. That’s where we really perfected the current mode of working, where I’m writing the music and recording it in my home ‘studio’ and sending to the other guys to critique and learn before finally meeting up to live rehearse the material for the studio. We did that with both Reflections and with Omens and it’s been working so far. We just underwent another pretty significant shift though with Matt leaving the band and Georg stepping up, just around the same time Mike decided to stay in Germany too. That means again 3/4 of the band is local and we can actually practice and write collaboratively again.

In general, how do you know when a song is done? Particularly on Omens, with so much lush keys and melodies built out, when is a piece actually finished?

I really like working on my own recordings particularly for this reason – you can not only hone in on all the little elements of each part, but also zoom out and listen to the whole thing. If I feel a song is done, I’ll usually let it sit for a day and then come back with fresh ears and listen to the whole thing. Anything that doesn’t make sense will automatically stick out like a sore thumb. It’s basically this kind of process of revision then until we’re satisfied with it. This is obviously just subject to my taste, some people think we could trim parts etc etc. but I know when I think a song is solid and cohesive.

How do you see your songwriting growing in the future? Do you have an idea yet of where you want to go next or what you’ll take from the experience of making Omens?

Well… I hoped that we’d be on tour for the next half year supporting the record, which not only energizes and inspires us but also gives us time to jam on new ideas and sounds. That collaboration I was anticipating won’t be happening anytime soon. I’m working on new songs in the meantime from home, and I can sense a sound taking shape, but it’s too early to say. I thought for sure after Omens that we’d strip down our approach a bit – I found it kind of exhausting putting in all of these layers – but so far that hasn’t happened in anything new I’m working on. We’ll see in another year or so.

Elder, Omens (2020)

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Days of Rona: Jim Healey of Set Fire

Posted in Features on May 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

jim healey (Photo by Coleman Rogers)

Days of Rona: Jim Healey of Set Fire (Boston, Massachusetts)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Well, like most everyone, we haven’t been rehearsing. Jess and I have both been doing some writing at home. We have had to cancel/reschedule a handful of shows, and we will see how the others we have booked pan out. We were in the midst of recording, so that is on hold until things start to level off. Everyone’s physical health has been good so far, but the mental toll of isolating is taking some getting used to.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

I’m in Boston, and Massachusetts has been shut down for a few weeks now. There is a “stay at home” order, and all non-essential businesses have been shut down. I have to go into work for my job a few times a week, and it’s pretty stressful, but I’m thankful to have a job right now when so many don’t.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

Many of my friends are musicians, bartenders, booking agents, sound people, door-staff, recording engineers, etc, so there has been a huge impact. First and foremost, I worry for all of my friends trying to stay physically safe and financially afloat during all of this. After that, I wonder how this is going to impact the smaller venues, studios and such in the long run. That said, I am happy to say that I have seen people I know really stepping up and rallying around each other to try and make sure that everybody can get by.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

When all of this is said and done, I don’t think I will ever take another rehearsal for granted. I’ll be really excited to get back to recording and playing shows. I hope that everyone looks out for one another, because if anything good can come from this, I would like it to be that humans can be more compassionate towards one another.

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Days of Rona: Matthew Harrington of Cortez

Posted in Features on April 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

cortez matt harrington

Days of Rona: Matthew Harrington of Cortez (Boston, Massachusetts)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

We’re all healthy, thankfully, and we’re all concerned about and focused on our people staying healthy as well. We’ve got an album+ ready to go. Can’t wait for people to hear it. Can’t wait to play shows again with our friends, and play songs from that album. Speaking personally, I miss my homies and I want to write and play music again in my practice space as soon as humanly possible, but I’m incredibly thankful to have a job and a support system right now most of all.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

In Boston, we are basically shut down, and Massachusetts as a whole is closed until at least May 4th now. Schools, restaurants/bars/clubs, and all non-essential businesses are closed or working from home until at least that date. Most people, it seems, are doing their best to limit close interactions with others, but I am endlessly baffled at the amount of people who also still don’t seem to be getting it. We haven’t hit the expected peak yet, and I expect the situation to evolve further.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

I look at my friends in the restaurant/venue, recording, booking, and much broader service industry world and just feel gutted. We have no real social safety net in the United States, and a lot of people don’t have the luxury of having a cushion.

Layoffs, furloughs, and “work reductions” are becoming more common as the days go on, and this is something that directly affects all of us, in music and in life. The reality is that there are a lot of people out there that are going to take a long time to recover from this.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

We’re all in this together, and we all need to do our best to safely take care of our neighbors, friends, and families. Stay healthy, stay connected, stay safe, and stay the fuck home.

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Album Review: Elder, Omens

Posted in Reviews on April 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

elder omens

There has yet to be an Elder release that did not move forward from the one before it. They have never repeated themselves, and even if 2017’s Reflections of a Floating World (review here) seemed to be in direct conversation with its predecessor, the landmark 2015 outing, Lore (review here), it found ways to expand their sound by incorporating the work of then-new keyboardist/guitarist Mike Risberg, opening up to fluid sections of kraut-inspired improvisational jamming that came to fruition more on 2019’s instrumental The Gold & Silver Sessions EP (discussed here). The band’s fifth album, Omens — which is issued through Armageddon Shop in the US and Stickman Records in Europe and might as well be taking its title from what an entire league of other groups’ debuts will sound like four years from now — is no exception to the rule. It is, instead, a leap with eyes and both feet forward into new echelons of lush melody and progressive rock.

While their foundation may have been in the lumbering riffery of their 2008 self-titled (discussed here), a penchant for complexity began to take hold in 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here) and 2012’s Spires Burn/Release (discussed here), but even that feels primitive in hindsight in comparison to what they bring to light across the five tracks and 55 minutes of OmensRisberg‘s work is central to that, and he’s joined on keys throughout by founding guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo — whose linear style of composition has remained an essential facet to Elder‘s approach even as so much else has changed — as well as guest spots on mellotron and Fender Rhodes by Fabio Cuomo, who makes an impression with the latter early in the near-11-minute rollout of the opening title-track. It is a shift in breadth of influence as much as one of sonic priorities, but Omens neither forgets where it came from nor gives up its sense of heft. Jack Donovan‘s bass arguably carries more responsibility than ever before for serving as the anchor of the rhythm section, since even as Elder have so clearly coalesced with Risberg as “the new guy,” they here introduce drummer Georg Edert (also of Germany’s Gaffa Ghandi) to the fold in place of Matt Couto.

As fluid as the results are throughout Omens, that is a major change. Couto‘s personality as a drummer is rare and distinct, and he’s not the kind of player one can simply replace. Much to their credit, Elder don’t try. Rather, Edert establishes quickly through “Omens” and “In Procession” his own style of play, feeding off the unfolding dramas of melody in the keys and DiSalvo‘s sweeping guitar progressions. A straightforward backbeat grounds the winding verse of “In Procession” even as Elder move into new textures and a more contoured sound than they’ve ever had before, some midsection crash satisfying those seeking a payoff along the way — indeed, the title-track’s opening riff likewise serves as something of an embrace of heavier impulses; give me a bit, we’ll get there — ahead of a keyboard solo and return of the vocals and finishing section, and Edert‘s play not only keeps up with these characteristically head-spinning, sometimes-maddening shifts from part to part, but enhances them. He emerges as a drummer of class and intention, able to bring a jazzy sensibility when called upon to do so or to rock out as need be. Though he’s inevitably the new “new guy,” this material is stronger for what he brings to it.

elder

That’s true as well in “Halcyon,” the designation of which as the centerpiece would not seem to be happenstance. The longest cut at 12:48, it summarizes much of the growth that’s to be heard throughout Omens, opening with a gloriously languid unfurling of electronic and natural rhythm and multi-layered melodic coasting. There is a subtle build happening, with tension mounting in the guitar that moves forward gradually, but there’s a stop in the drums before the full-volume surge happens at 4:24 (also, by coincidence, the release day), and Elder successfully bring together the various sides of their continually deepening sonic persona — the weighted tonality of their earliest work, the push into conscious craft, too heady to be psychedelic but too aerial to be called anything but otherworldly. It is time to start thinking of DiSalvo among composers like Opeth‘s Mikael Åkerfeldt, not just because of an affinity for prog, but in terms of the ability to take seemingly disparate styles and create something new and individual from them. Elder‘s sound, despite an increasing amount of bands working in their wake, is their own, and there is no compromise to be found across Omens.

“Halcyon” is a triumph of their method, its finishing balance of patience and push all the more emblematic of their well-earned maturity as a unit, and yet it hardly stops before the returning mellotron in “Embers” signals the next movement of the record is underway, with chunky start and stops and a heavier roll that gives ground about halfway through to an instrumental build that could almost be in answer to “Halcyon,” culminating in wah sweep and farewell spiraling noise. This, ahead of the wistful standalone guitar that begins closer “One Light Retreating” and is soon joined by the full crux of tonal presence, DiSalvo‘s voice in the initial lines bringing to mind an almost post-hardcore/emo mindset in the verse before that heavier part returns in a back and forth that finds the one building off the next. As Elder has progressed relentlessly, so too has DiSalvo as a singer and somewhat reluctant frontman, but the feeling conveyed in “One Light Retreating” is at a level that wouldn’t have been possible even five years ago. Unsurprisingly, “One Light Retreating” does not blow itself out at the finish, but indeed retreats, with a poised instrumental flow that once again underscores not just the emotionality on display — I haven’t had the benefit of a lyric sheet, so I’m just going by what I hear — but a genuine encapsulation of the melodic and rhythmic grace they’ve been displaying all along.

Elder are a refinement process. They are driven by this need to move forward, and each of their albums becomes a summary of what they’ve learned since the last. Omens, whatever its title might directly be referencing, inevitably looks ahead. An omen does not occur in the past — lore does. Omens is Elder signaling the beginning of their next stage as a band, as all their work has been, and as ever, it finds them not thinking about where they’ve been, but where they might still go creatively, and these songs are made to be lived with. They will reveal their nuances to listeners not over a period of weeks or months, but years. This is part of what makes Elder such a special, singular band, and part of what has led their work to resonate on as great a scale as it has. Whatever they might do next, don’t expect it to sound just like this, but if Omens is itself a portent of things to come, heavy music will be all the more fortunate to have Elder as statesmen.

Elder, Omens (2020)

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