Ceremony of Sludge VIII Set for March 8-9 with Holy Grove, Megaton Leviathan, Young Hunter, Disenchanter & More

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

ceremony of sludge viii banner

The years go quick, it seems, as Ceremony of Sludge marks its eighth in celebrating Portland’s native heavy boom. Ceremony of Sludge VIII hits the Kenton Club in that storied Oregon hotbed on March 8 and 9 and has a lineup across those two nights that’s bound to please tone-seekers of sundry stripes. Maximum Mad and Hair Puller sit atop the Friday bill, while Saturday will be overseen by Holy Grove and Megaton Leviathan, so indeed, there will be righteousness to spare, and as the likes of Young HunterDisenchanterGlasghoteHound the WolvesA//tar and Pet Weapon round out the full roster, it’s two nights, five bands each, that fit well into the now veteran event’s gameplan of quality over quantity, Ceremony of Sludge no less defined than ever by its lack of filler.

Past years have been filmed as well — I’ve hosted videos here on occasion over the years and been glad to do it — but it looks like 2019’s edition will be pressed up as a DVD compilation, which is all the more right on. Coming to a merch table near you.

Info for the shows came down the PR wire. Note if you will that both nights are dirt cheap:

ceremony of sludge viii poster

Ceremony of Sludge VIII Comes to World Famous Kenton Club, Portland

CEREMONY OF SLUDGE VIII
MARCH 8th and 9th at World Famous Kenton Club | Portland, OR
$10/night

Portland Heavy Seen presents Ceremony Of Sludge VIII, to be held March 8th and 9th at The World Famous Kenton Club in Portland, Oregon. Now in its eighth year, Ceremony Of Sludge continues the annual celebration of showcasing Portland’s heaviest bands and filming the performances for a future DVD release.

Ceremony of Sludge VI lineup:

March 8th
Maximum Mad
Hair Puller
Young Hunter
A//tar
Pet Weapon

March 9th
Holy Grove
Megaton Leviathan
Glasghote
Disenchanter
Hound The Wolves

https://www.facebook.com/ceremonyofsludge
https://www.facebook.com/events/507836499682519/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfJ2t6pqUm5W2w4qIk5zifA

Pet Weapon, Live at Kenton Club, Portland, OR

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2018

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the-top-30-of-2018

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2018 to that, please do.

It just wouldn’t be a year if it wasn’t completely overwhelming, right?

2018 has certainly met that standard and then some. The swath of output, whether it’s a new generation adopting and adapting established methods or out and out reinventing the stylistic wheel and then pushing it uphill on a seemingly endless barrage of tours, has been staggering, and it’s still happening. There’s a little more than a week to go in the year. You think a band isn’t putting something out today? Of course they are. It’s every day. It’s all the time.

But this year wasn’t just about quantity either. I think one of my biggest struggles in writing about albums in 2018 — and with the last Quarterly Review and various premieres and video posts that were basically album reviews in disguise, let’s estimate we’re somewhere past 300 records reviewed one way or another — was in conveying just how killer so much of the stuff coming through was. How many times can you say the word “awesome?” Well, I’m sure we’ll see it a few more times before this list is over, so there you go.

I say something like this every time I do a list, but please keep in mind these are my picks and I’m one person. But I am a person. I know there’s the whole internet-anonymity thing, but I assure you, I’m a human being (more of a cave troll, really) typing these words. I’m all for everyone sharing their own picks in the comments, and all for passionate advocating, but please, let’s keep it civil and respectful. These things can spiral out of control quickly, but let’s remember that we’re all human beings and worth of basic courtesy, even if some of us are dead wrong about a good many things. You should definitely punch nazis, though.

Thanks in advance for reading. Here we go:

[UPDATE: You’ll notice the inclusion of an ’18a.’ I had Stoned Jesus in my notes as number 18 initially and they got dropped as I was adjusting things along the way. I’ve added them back in, but it didn’t seem fair to bump everyone else down after the post had already been published. That was the best I could come up with for a solution. If you’re pissed about one more killer record being added, please feel free to email me and tell me all about it.]

30. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark

The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Chicago’s The Skull had no small task before them in following up their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) — let alone living up to their pedigree — but their second album demonstrated a creative growth that sacrificed nothing of memorability when it came to songs like “Breathing Underwater” and “All that Remains (Is True).” They got down to work and got the job done, which is what a working band does. 2018 was by any measure a fantastic year for doom, and The Skull were a big part of why.

29. Foghound, Awaken to Destroy

foghound awaken to destroy

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 21.

The Dec. 2017 murder of Rev. Jim Forrester was tragic. No other way to say it. Foghound, who were in the midst of making Awaken to Destroy at the time, put together an album that not only features Forrester‘s last recorded performance, but pays respect to his memory while the wound is still raw and manages to kick ass all the while. It’s a record that can’t ever be divorced from its circumstances — just can’t — and so it can be a heavy listen in more than just its tones, but it’s basically Foghound proving they’re unstoppable. And so they are.

28. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back

orange goblin the wolf bites back

Released by Spinefarm Records. Reviewed June 13.

Who among us here today is not a sucker for Orange Goblin? Come forward an be judged. I mean, really. Nine records deep, the London sceneforgers are nothing less than an institution, beloved by boozehounds, riffhounds, doomhounds, and really, a wide variety of hounds the world over. Also dudes. With its essential title-track hook and highlight cuts in “Ghosts of the Primitives” and “Burn the Ships” — or, you know, any of them — they added to one of heavy’s most unshakable legacies with an album as furious as it is welcoming to its generations-spanning fanbase.

27. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe

fu manchu clone of the universe
Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed Feb. 15.

There are two kinds of people in this world, and they’re both Fu Manchu fans. Clone of the Universe turned heads with a guest appearance from Rush‘s Alex Lifeson on the 18-minute side-B-consuming “Il Mostro Atomico,” but really to focus on that instead of “Intelligent Worship,” “(I’ve Been) Hexed,” “Don’t Panic,” “Slower than Light,” etc., is only seeing half the point of the album in the first place. The long-running lords of fuzz hit a new stride with 2014’s Gigantoid (review here), and Clone of the Universe was in every way a worthy successor.

26. Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain

Witch-Mountain-Witch-Mountain
Released by Svart Records. Reviewed May 16.

It was an unenviable task before Witch Mountain in replacing vocalist Uta Plotkin, but founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nathan Carson found the right voice in Kayla Dixon and solidified the lineup with her and bassist Justin Brown enough to make a declarative statement in Witch Mountain‘s self-titled LP. That’s the story of it. They pulled it off. Met with what was unquestionably a bummer circumstance, they pushed through and moved their sound forward through a new beginning — and not their first one. Watch out when their next record hits.

25. Windhand, Eternal Return

windhand eternal return

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Oct. 3.

Richmond, Virginia, doomers Windhand‘s second collaboration with producer Jack Endino produced a marked and purposeful expansion of their sound, encompassing classic grunge influences and a heavy psychedelic swirl that added color their previously-greyscale sonic haze. Resonant in tone and emotionalism, Eternal Return readjusted Windhand‘s trajectory in such a manner that, where one might’ve thought they knew where the band were headed in terms of their progression, they’ve made themselves a less predictable outfit on the whole. For that alone, it’s a triumph. Then you have the songs.

24. Sun Voyager, Seismic Vibes

Sun Voyager Seismic Vibes

Released by King Pizza Records. Reviewed April 18.

I don’t even want to admit how long I was waiting for Sun Voyager‘s first long-player to show up, but when it finally did, the New York trio did not disappoint. Catchy, energetic, fuzzed-out tunes with driving rhythms and a heavy psych flourish, they tapped into shoegaze and desert vibes without losing any sense of themselves in the process, and if the extra wait was so they could be so remarkably coherent in their expression on their full-length, then I wouldn’t want it to have shown up any sooner. An easy pick to stand among 2018’s best debut albums. Now to wait for the next one.

23. Forming the Void, Rift

forming the void rift

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed July 27.

It should tell you something that after working quickly to produce three albums, Louisiana’s Forming the Void are still defined by their potential. If I had my druthers, I’d put the recent Ripple signees on tour for the bulk of 2019, across the US and in Europe for festivals and support-slot club shows, really give them an opportunity to hammer out who they are as a band and then hit the studio for LP four. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but they’d only be doing the universe a favor by kicking into that gear. As it stands, their progression is palpable in their material and they stand absolutely ready for whatever the next level might be for them.

22. Spaceslug, Eye the Tide

spaceslug eye the tide

Released by BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed June 29.

Aside from the speed at which Spaceslug have turned around offerings — with Eye the Tide following 2017’s Mountains and Reminiscence EP (review here) and Time Travel Dilemma (review here) full-length and their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here) — the Polish outfit have undertaken significant progression in their sound, moving from pure heavy psychedelic warmth to incorporating elements out of extreme metal as they did on Eye the Tide. Adding to the latest record’s accomplishment is the smoothness with which they brought seemingly opposing sides together, only adding depth to an approach already worthy of oceanic comparison.

21. Conan, Existential Void Guardian

Conan Existential Void Guardian
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 14.

Conan‘s reign of terror has been unfolding for more than a decade now, and each of their albums has become a kind of step along a path of incremental growth. Consider the melody creeping into the shouts of founding guitarist Jon Davis, or the emergence of bassist Chris Fielding as a vocal presence alongside, the two sharing a frontman role more than ever before while welcoming drummer Johnny King to the fold of destructive tonality and doomly extremism. Existential Void Guardian may end up just being another stomp-print on their way to the next thing, but it affirmed the fact that as much as Conan grow each time out, their central violence continues to hold sway.

20. Pale Divine, Pale Divine

PALE DIVINE S/T
Released by Shadow Kingdom Records. Reviewed Nov. 21.

Look. A new Pale Divine record doesn’t come along every day, so yeah, their self-titled was probably going to be on my list one way or the other, but it definitely helps that not only was it their first outing in six years since 2012’s Painted Windows Black (review here), but it had the songs to live up to a half-decade-plus of anticipation. It marked the first studio appearance from bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis alongside guitarist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey — now both of Beelzefuzz as well — and made a strong argument for how much Pale Divine deserve more than 20 years on from their initial demo to be considered classic American doom.

19. Mos Generator, Shadowlands

mos generator shadowlands
Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed May 11.

The return and rise to prominence of Washington pure heavy rockers Mos Generator might be the underground’s feelgood story of the decade, but it hasn’t by any means been easily won. In addition to rebuilding the band however many albums ago, guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed has put in innumerable hours on tour and worked to actually develop the group creatively in addition to in terms of stage presence. This is shown throughout some of the classic prog elements making their way onto Shadowlands, and perhaps some of the collection’s moodier aspects are born of the aforementioned road time as well. Hard for that kind of thing not to be a slog after a while, but at least they have killer tunes to play.

18a. Stoned Jesus, Pilgrims

STONED JESUS PILGRIMS

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 5.

The only safe bet about Stoned Jesus‘ fourth long-player, Pilgrims, was that it was going to sound different than the third. That 2015 outing, The Harvest (review here), preceded the band touring to celebrate the fifth anniversary and after-the-fact success of 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), but Pilgrims defied narrative in that instead of incorporating elements from the second record in more of a heavy psych or jam sound, Stoned Jesus instead showcased a tighter, more sureheaded sense of craft than they’ve ever displayed before, and arrived on Napalm Records with a collection of songs that demonstrated the growth and sense of creative will that drives them. While one can take a look at their moniker and think immediately they know what’s coming, Stoned Jesus have made themselves one of the least predictable bands in heavy rock.

18. Backwoods Payback, Future Slum

backwoods payback future slum

Self-released. Reviewed Aug. 15.

“Pirate Smile.” “Lines.” “Whatever.” “It Ain’t Right.” “Threes.” “Cinderella.” “Generals.” “Big Enough.” “Alone.” “Lucky. Mike Cummings, Jessica Baker, Erik Larson. Every player, every song, every minute. If you want to know what heart-on-sleeve sounds like, it fucking sounds like Backwoods Payback. In their line from hardcore punk to grunge to heavy rock, they encompass experiences and emotionalism that are both shown in raw form throughout Future Slum, and build all the while on the chemistry they set out in developing with 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), when they welcomed Larson to the lineup on drums and revitalized their mission. Also worth noting, they were the best live band I saw this year. Anywhere.

17. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown

corrosion of conformity no cross no crown

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Jan. 3

No question the excitement of C.O.C. putting out their first record with frontman Pepper Keenan involved since 2005’s In the Arms of God was one of this year’s top stories in heavy. And No Cross No Crown tapped directly into the spirit of 1994’s Deliverance (discussed here) and 1996’s Wiseblood (discussed here) in terms of direction, while updating the band’s style with a four-part 2LP in mind. In some ways, it’ll be their next album that really gives listeners a sense of where they’re at and where they might be headed, but as welcome returns go, having Keenan alongside Mike DeanWoody Weatherman and Reed Mullin is in no way to be understated, and neither is the quality of their output together, then and now.

16. Naxatras, III

naxatras iii

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 14.

It is no simple feat to hypnotize an audience and convey serenity while at the same time holding attention with songcraft, so that the listener isn’t actually so much unconscious as malleable of mood and spirit in such a direction as the band suggests. Greek trio Naxatras have worked quickly to become experts at this, and their third full-length fosters tonal warmth and jammy progressions with an overarching naturalism that finds them so committed to analog recording that one can buy direct transfers of the tape master of III. Some acts take classic-style practices as an aesthetic choice. With Naxatras, it seems to be the stuff of life, yet their sound is only vibrant and human in a way that, at least one hopes, is even more representative of the future than the past.

15. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions

clutch book of bad decisions

Released by Weathermaker Music. Reviewed Aug. 27.

It was time for Clutch to make a change in producers, and the Maryland overlords of groove seemed to know it. Known as a live band, they went with Vance Powell, who’s known a live band producer. The results on Book of Bad Decisions might not have been so earth-shatteringly different from 2015’s Psychic Warfare (review here), which was the too-soon follow-up to 2013’s Earth Rocker (review here) — both helmed by Machine — but the inimitable four-piece indeed succeeded in capturing the electricity of their stage performance and, as ever, treated fans to a collection of songs bearing Clutch‘s unmistakable hallmarks of quirky lyrics, funky rhythms and heavy roll. They may always be a live band, but Clutch‘s studio work is in no way to be discounted, ever, as this record reaffirmed. Plus, crab cakes.

14. Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Released by Pelagic Records. Reviewed Aug. 3.

After 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), I wasn’t sure Ancestors were going to put out another record. They kicked around word of one for a while, but it wasn’t until the end of last year that it really seemed to congeal into a possibility. And by then, who the hell knew what they might get up to on a full-length? With Suspended in Reflections, in some says, they picked up where they left off in terms of finding a niche for themselves in progressive and melodic heavy, but I think the time showed in the poise of their execution and the control of the material. Suspended in Reflections can’t help but be six years more mature than its predecessor, and that suits its contemplative feel. In tracks like “Gone,” and “The Warm Glow,” they tempered their expansive sound with an efficiency that can only be had with time.

13. High on Fire, Electric Messiah

high on fire electric messiah

Released by eOne Heavy. Reviewed Sept. 28.

The narrative here was hard to beat. Matt Pike spending an album cycle talking about Lemmy Kilmister and paying homage to his dirt-rock forebear and the gods of old? It doesn’t get much more perfect than that. Electric Messiah was the third collaboration between High on Fire and producer Kurt Ballou behind 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), and while it seemed after the last record that the formula might be getting stale, the band only sounded more and more lethal throughout the latest offering. Even putting aside their contributions to underground heavy, they’ve become one of the most essential metal bands of their generation. Metal, period. Doesn’t matter what subgenre you’re talking about it. If you’re listening to High on Fire, you know it. Usually because you’ve just been decapitated.

12. Yawning Man, The Revolt Against Tired Noises

yawning man the revolt against tired noises

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed July 2.

You know, if you take the time to separate Yawning Man from their 30-plus-year history and their legacy as one of the foundational acts of what later became desert rock, and you listen to The Revolt Against Tired Noises, you’re still left with basically a dream of an album. Mostly instrumental, as is their wont, they nonetheless had bassist Mario Lalli (also Fatso Jetson) sing this time around on a version of the previously-unreleased “Catamaran,” which Kyuss covered once upon a whenever although Yawning Man had never officially put it to tape. But really, that and all other novelty aside, guitarist Gary Arce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson are a chemistry unto themselves. I don’t know if they’ll ever be as huge as they should be, but every bit of acclaim they get, they’ve earned, and if The Revolt Against Tired Noises helps them get it, all the more so.

11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers

greenleaf hear the rivers

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Nov. 26.

Swedish heavy rock mavens Greenleaf have become an entirely different band than they once were. No longer a Dozer side-project from guitarist Tommi Holappa with a rotating cast of players, they’re a solidified, road-tested, powerhouse unit, and Hear the Rivers bleeds soul as a result. Holappa, frontman Arvid Hällagård, bassist Hans Fröhlich and drummer Sebastian Olsson sound like they’re absolutely on fire in the album’s tracks, and far from being staid or formulaic as one might expect a sixth long-player to be, Hear the Rivers built on what the band accomplished with 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here) and came across as all the more vital and nearly frenetic in their energy. I won’t say Greenleaf has seen their last lineup change, because one never knows, but the band as they are today is the realization of potential I don’t think even Greenleaf knew was there.

10. Gozu, Equilibrium

gozu equilibrium

Released by Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records. Reviewed April 4.

Five records deep into a career into its second decade, Gozu haven’t had a miss yet. Admittedly, some of their early work can seem formative considering where they are now, but still. And after the 2016 rager, Revival (review here), to have the band return to the same studio — Wild Arctic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where strides producer Dean Baltulonis — for the follow-up allows for the four-piece to directly show how their sound has grown more encompassing in the last couple years. And it has. Equilibrium is a rich and varied listen that holds true to Gozu‘s well-established penchant for soulful vibes and crunching, hard-hitting riffs and groove, but while it shares the directness of approach with Revival, it makes moves that a band could only make moving from one record to the next. I expect nothing less their next time out as well, because a decade later, that’s Gozu‘s proven track record.

9. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

monster magnet mindfucker
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 23.

The battle for the best album title of 2018 ended early when New Jersey everything-rockers Monster Magnet announced the release of Mindfucker. And what else to call a Monster Magnet LP at this point? They’ve stopped writing to genre. They’re driven by the creative mania of frontman/founder Dave Wyndorf, and they’ve seen psychedelic expanses and commercial success the likes of which would serve the tenure of four lesser bands. What’s left to do but whatever the hell you want? So that’s what Monster Magnet are doing. It just so happens that while they’re doing it, they’re still basically outclassing the entirety of the former planet earth as songwriters. As Monster Magnet fan in 2018, there was nothing more I could’ve asked than what Mindfucker delivered. And if you’re still trying to get your brain around it however many months later, you’re not alone. I think that’s the idea.

8. Apostle of Solitude, From Gold to Ash

Apostle of Solitude From Gold to Ash

Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Feb. 20.

Best doom album of 2018. The combination of craft and passion behind the delivery. The way the dark tones fed into the emotions so clearly on display and sheer presence of it in listening to songs like “Keeping the Lighthouse,” “Ruination by Thy Name” and “My Heart is Leaving Here.” Apostle of Solitude never seem to be the highest profile band out there, but their work seems never to be anything less than outstanding, and I refuse to accept them as anything less than among the most pivotal American acts out there making traditional doom. And not just making it, but making it their own, with a sense of new pursuits and individualism that extends to playing style as well as atmosphere. I know doom isn’t exactly in short supply these days — figuratively or literally — but if you miss out on what Apostle of Solitude are doing with it, you’ll only regret it later. I’ll say it one more time: Best doom album of 2018.

7. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II

holy grove ii
Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 31.

Every now and again, anticipating the crap of an album really pays off, and such was the case with Holy Grove II, the Ripple Music debut from the Portland outfit whose 2016 self-titled (review here) seemed like such a herald of excellence to come while also, you know, being killer. Holy Grove II brought the four-piece of vocalist Andrea Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs, bassist Gregg Emley and drummer Eben Travis to entirely new levels of composition and execution. In songs like “Blade Born,” the shorter, sharper “Aurora,” the patiently rolling “Valley of the Mystics,” “Solaris” and closer “Cosmos,” which boasted a not-really-necessary-but-definitely-welcome guest vocal appearance from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt, — and oh wait, that’s all of the tracks — Holy Grove entered a different echelon. Anticipation will likewise be high for Holy Grove III, but it’ll be hard to complain with this record to keep company in the meantime.

6. All Them Witches, ATW

all them witches atw
Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 18.

Over five All Them Witches albums, the Nashville four-piece have gone from a nascent heavy Americana jam band to one of the most distinct acts in the US underground. Their development in sound is chemistry-driven, so it was a risk when the founding trio of bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod (who also produced) and drummer Robby Staebler welcomed new keyboardist Jonathan Draper into the lineup to take the place of Allan van Cleave. Amid a more naturalist production than that of 2017’s Sleeping Through the War (review here), the revamped four-piece flourished in terms of songwriting and conveying their stage-born sonic personae. From the gleeful fuckery of opener “Fishbelly 86 Onions” to the memorable moodiness of “Diamond” and the back-end jam “Harvest Feast” en route to the stretched-out end of “Rob’s Dream,” All Them Witches essentially confirmed they could do whatever they wanted and make it work.

5. YOB, Our Raw Heart

yob our raw heart
Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed June 7.

Actually, if you want a sample of YOB‘s raw heart, the place to go is probably 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), but whatever the Eugene, Oregon, shapers of cosmic doom might’ve lacked in titular accuracy on their eighth long-player, they made up for in a new, statesman-like posture. Their approach was mature, hammered out to a professionalism working completely on its own terms, and they never sounded so sure of who they are as a band or as confident of their direction. In extended cuts “Beauty in Falling Leaves” and “Our Raw Heart,” they explored new and progressive textures and melodies, and managed to reaffirm their core aspects while finding room for conveying emotion that came across as nothing but ultimately sincere. They have been and still are one of a kind, and as they continue to move forward, they remain a band that makes one feel lucky to be alive to witness their work. Our Raw Heart was perhaps more refined than it let on, but the heart was there for sure, as always.

4. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman

brant bjork mankind woman

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 13.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t a fan of the (relatively) harder-hitting approach Brant Bjork and his Low Desert Punk Band took on 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here), but Mankind Woman brought in some more of his soul influences, and whether it was the subtly subversive funk of “Chocolatize” and “Brand New Old Times” or the callout “1968” and laid back vibes of the title-track and “Swagger and Sway,” Bjork — working with guitarist Bubba DuPree on songwriting and production — offered a definitive look at what has made his 20-year solo career so special and demonstrates not only his longevity and his legacy, but his will to continue to progress as an artist honing his craft. His discography is well populated by now to be sure, but Mankind Woman represents a turn from the last couple records, and if it’s in any way portentous of things to come, it bodes well. Bjork is right at home nestled into classic-style grooves, and his legacy as one of the principal architects of desert rock is continually reaffirmed.

3. Earthless, Black Heaven

earthless black heaven

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed March 15.

They’ve been great, not just good, for a long time now, and as forerunners of the San Diego heavy scene, they’re godfathers to an up and coming generation of bands taking their influence — let alone acts from the rest of the world — but Black Heaven is a special moment for them because of its departure. No, it wasn’t not the first time guitarist Isaiah Mitchell sang on an Earthless recording, but it did represent a tip of the balance in that direction for the band on a studio full-length, and that resulted in a special moment. Album opener “Gifted by the Wind” was one of the best songs I heard this year, and while “End to End” and the all-thrust “Volt Rush” affirmed that more traditional songwriting was well within the grasp of Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba, they still found space for a sprawling jam or two, keeping their claim on the instrumentalism that’s (largely) fueled their tenure to date. Earthless don’t want for acclaim, but every bit of it is earned, and while their primary impact has always been live, Black Heaven saw them construct a traditional-style LP that still bore the hallmarks of their collective personality. It was the best of all worlds.

2. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain

king buffalo longing to be the mountain
Self-released/released by Stickman Records. Reviewed Sept. 27.

In the dark early hours of 2018, the Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson issued the Repeater EP (review here) as a follow-up to their 2016 debut, Orion (review here), so Longing to Be the Mountain didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but even with Repeater preceding its arrival, I don’t think anyone necessary expected King Buffalo‘s second album to have such a scope or to be so engrossing with it. In its melody, patience, atmosphere and heft, it was an absolute joy to behold. Its songs were memorable at the same time they were far-reaching, and while Orion was already my pick for the best debut of 2016, Longing to Be the Mountain realized even more potential than that record had hinted toward. It could be intimate or majestic at its whim, and its dynamic set an individual characterization of heavy psychedelia and blues-style sprawl that the band wholly owned. With production by Ben McLeod of All Them Witches behind them, they worked to serve notice of a progression undertaken the results of which are already staggering and still seem to be looking ahead to the next stage, literally and figuratively. One of the principal standards I use in constructing this list every year is what I listen to most. That’s this record.

1. Sleep, The Sciences

sleep the sciences

Released by Third Man Records. Reviewed May 1.

Obviously, right? To some extent, when Sleep surprise-announced on April 19 they’d release their first album in 15 years the next day, and then did, they took ownership of 2018. Even with records still to come at that point from YOB and Sleep guitarist Matt Pike‘s own High on Fire, there was no way that when the end of the year came around, it wasn’t going to be defined by the advent of a new Sleep record. And even if it sucked, it would probably still be Album of the Year, but fortunately, as Pike, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also Om) and drummer Jason Roeder (also Neurosis) took their long-running stage reunion to the studio, they brought material that highlighted the best elements from all players. Pike‘s wild soloing, Cisneros‘ meditative vocals and Roeder‘s intricate but smooth style of roll all came together in older pieces like “Antarcticans Thawed” and “Sonic Titan” and newer highlights “Giza Butler” and “Marijuanaut’s Theme,” and aside from the excitement at their existence, they showed the mastery of form that Sleep had been demonstrating live since 2009 and which they hinted toward in the 2014 single, The Clarity (review here). A new Sleep full-length was something long-discussed, long-rumored and long-considered, but when it finally happened, I think the results vaporized expectation in a way no one could’ve anticipated. There’s a reason Sleep are Sleep. Having The Sciences as a reminder of that brought about the defining moment of 2018.

The Next 20

Indeed, it wouldn’t be much of a Top 30 at all if it didn’t go to 50. Don’t try to make sense of it, just look at the records.

31. Atavismo, Valdeinfierno
32. Grayceon, IV
33. Clamfight, III
34. Seedy Jeezus, Polaris Oblique
35. Megaton Leviathan, Mage
36. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland
37. Arcadian Child, Superfonica
38. Freedom Hawk, Beast Remains
39. The Machine, Faceshift
40. Messa, Feast for Water
41. Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium
42. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Science Fiction
43. Domkraft, Flood
44. Träden, Träden
45. Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music
46. Samavayo, Vatan
47. Foehammer, Second Sight
48. Bongripper, Terminal
49. Mansion, First Death of the Lutheran
50. Sunnata, Outlands
51. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Come and Chutney

Believe me when I tell you, I sweated over this section more than I did the actual top 30. Mansion should be higher. So should Chubby Thunderous, though something in me thought they might like being #50 on a list of 30. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Clamfight, Black Rainbows, Foehammer, Seedy Jeezus, Messa, Domkraft. All of these were fucking awesome. And there are more (we’ll get there). Eventually numbers add up. I won’t say a bad word about any of these. That’s it.

Honorable Mention

This section always winds up expanded as other people point out things I missed and so on, but here’s what I’ve got in the immediate, alphabetically:

  • Alms, Act One
  • Ape Machine, Darker Seas
  • Belzebong, Light the Dankness
  • Black Moon Circle, Psychedelic Spacelord
  • Blackwater Holylight, Blackwater Holylight
  • Bong, Thought and Existence
  • Carpet, About Rooms and Elephants
  • Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery
  • Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree
  • Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need
  • Death Alley, Superbia
  • Drug Cult, Drug Cult
  • Dunbarrow, II
  • Electric Citizen, Helltown
  • Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard: Songs of Hoof and Horn
  • Evoken, Hypnagogia
  • Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning
  • Fuzz Evil, High on You
  • Graven, Heirs of Discord
  • Graveyard, Peace
  • Green Dragon, Green Dragon
  • Green Druid, Ashen Blood
  • Here Lies Man, You Will Know Nothing
  • High Priestess, High Priestess
  • Horehound, Holocene
  • IAH, II
  • JIRM, Surge ex Monumentis
  • Killer Boogie, Acid Cream
  • Lonely Kamel, Death’s Head Hawkmoth
  • MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure
  • Moab, Trough
  • Mountain Dust, Seven Storms
  • Mouth, Floating
  • Mr. Plow, Maintain Radio Silence
  • T.G. Olson, Earthen Pyramid
  • Onségen Ensemble, Duel
  • Orango, Evergreen
  • Owl, Nights in Distortion
  • Pushy, Hard Wish
  • Rifflord, 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation
  • River Cult, Halcyon Daze
  • Rotor, Sechs
  • Somali Yacht Club, The Sea
  • Sumac, Love in Shadow
  • Sundrifter, Visitations
  • Svvamp, Svvamp II
  • Thou, Magus
  • Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse
  • Weedpecker, III

Special Note

Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to include these in the list proper because they’re not really underground releases, but there were two more records I especially wanted to highlight for their quality:

  • Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog
  • Judas Priest, Firepower

Best Short Release of the Year

Normally I’d do this as a separate post, but as a result of being robbed earlier this year, I feel like my list is woefully incomplete. If you have any demos, EPs, splits, singles, etc., to add to it, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Still, the top pick was clear:

  • Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard & Slomatics, Totems Split

Rarely do two bands work in such coherent tandem to their mutual benefit. Here are a few other essential short releases for 2018, alphabetically:

  • All Them Witches, Lost and Found
  • Alunah, Amber & Gold
  • Canyon, Mk II
  • Demon Head, The Resistence
  • Destroyer of Light, Hopeless
  • Ecstatic Vision, Under the Influence
  • Godmaker & Somnuri, Split
  • Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul
  • King Buffalo, Repeater
  • Minsk & Zatokrev, Split
  • Sleep, Leagues Beneath
  • Stonus, Lunar Eclipse
  • Sundecay, Gale

Looking Forward

A good many albums have already been announced or hinted at for 2019. I in no way claim this to be a complete roundup of what’s coming, but here’s what I have in my notes so far, in absolutely no order:

Kings Destroy, Lo-Pan, Cities of Mars, Heavy Temple, Mr. Peter Hayden, Curse the Son, High Fighter, Destroyer of Light, Year of the Cobra, Buffalo Fuzz, Zaum, The Sonic Dawn, Alunah, Candlemass, Elepharmers, Grandier, Dorre, Abrahma, Mars Red Sky, Eternal Black, Elephant Tree, Atala, No Man’s Valley, Sun Blood Stories, Crypt Sermon, The Riven, Hibrido, Snail, Red Beard Wall, 11Paranoias, Dead Witches, Monte Luna, Captain Caravan (LP), Swallow the Sun, Oreyeon, Motorpsycho, Vokonis, Hexvessel, Saint Vitus, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Kind, Mastiff, Shadow Witch, Om.

Okay, That’s It

Yeah, no, I’m serious. List is done. Everybody go back to your lives. Your families miss you.

Really though, while this is by no means my last post of 2018, I can’t let it pass without saying thank you so much to everyone for checking out the site this year, or for just digging into this, or for sending me music, or hitting me up on social media, sharing a link, anything. Thank you. Thank you. I could never have imagined when it started out where it would be now. Or that I’d still be doing it. Your support means more to me than I can say, and I thank you so much for being a part of this with me.

So thanks.

If you have something to add to the list, please do so by leaving a comment below, but keep in mind as well the above note requesting civility. Please don’t make me feel stupid because I forgot your favorite record. I forgot a lot of people’s favorite records. I’m one dude. I’m doing my best.

And please keep in mind if you’ve got a list together that the Year-End Poll is open and results will be out Jan. 1.

Everybody have a great and safe 2019.

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Six Dumb Questions with Megaton Leviathan (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Six Dumb Questions on October 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

megaton leviathan

I’ve always thought of the difference between modernism and post-modernism as being that modernism says, “There is no god. So what?” and post-modernism takes the form of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack and answers, “So what? So let’s dance!” and the presses a play button on its golf bag and starts the party. In their own way, Megaton Leviathan are cutting a post-modern rug on their third album, Mage, which is released Oct. 26 through Blood Music. Led by founding vocalist, guitarist, synthesist, etc.-ist Andrew James Costa Reuscher, the experimentalist progressive drone outfit were last heard from in 2014 with the particularly weighted Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell (discussed here), following up on 2010’s evocative and spacious debut, Water Wealth Hell on Earth (review here), and with Mage, Reuscher and creative partner Mort Subite, whose name translates from French to “sudden death” and who handles keys, vocals, recording, and so on, revamped the lineup of the band, filling out a drone sextext ready to hold sway and any chamber of the damned that might have them. One expects a few will.

The album is five tracks and 41-minutes of whatever-the-fuck-it-wants-to-be, post-all composition, following a narrative line from the forward march of opener “Wave” deep into hypnotic immersion like a spirit-seeking Godflesh before “Take the Fire” brings Floydian acoustic strum to the mix as an earth center for the surrounding ethereal moodiness. Moving into a wash of a finish with Reuscher‘s vocals and those of violinist Andrea Morgan staying resolute Megaton Leviathan Mageand calm at the center, “Take the Fire” comes apart like ashes thrown off a cliff before drums and low synth rumble begin the centerpiece title-track, marking a return of the dual-vocal approach and a beat that holds steady until about four of the six minutes have passed, at which point the loops and strums begin a resonant dirge march soon enough active again in its slow progression downward. This leads to the twist of the Eno Moebius Roedelius (aka Eno & Cluster) track “The Belldog” from 1978’s After the Heat, unveiling a krautrock-derived spread given a darker edge through undulations of lower-end synth rising up behind the belted-out verses.

It is gorgeous and consuming both, a brave take on an obscure original, and when the beat kicks in at about halfway through, the piano line that’s run throughout is only enhanced by the rhythm-making around it. At eight minutes, “The Belldog” is longer than anything before it, and in that, it doubles as a bridge to “Within the Threshold,” the 15-minute, largely instrumental finale to which all the marching on Mage seems to have been leading. Its unfolding is methodical and happens in at least three stages: the first four minutes dedicated to a tense buildup, the next eight-plus given to crafting a beautiful, nigh-incomprehensible wash of synth, guitar, violin and — somewhere in there — Morgan‘s vocals, and the last three a quiet, acoustic-inclusive ending that’s more resolution than epilogue. There’s something of a “what just happened?” effect when it’s over and the final line of keyboard fades gracefully away, but one thing Megaton Leviathan — ReuscherSubiteMorgan, drummer Jon Reid, bassist TrejenRuss Archer and maybe guitarist Travis Hathaway on the album (?) — never lose sight of is the flow between the varied stretches in the material. That is the thread running through Mage and the foundation from which is makes its outward sonic reach.

Reuscher was kind enough to discuss some of the makings of Mage and the personal context for him in which the album was composed, as well as essentially the remaking of Megaton Leviathan around himself and Subite. Before the Q&A, you can click play on the embed below to hear the debut of “The Belldog,” which I’m thrilled to be able to host.

Please enjoy the following track premiere and Six Dumb Questions:

Megaton Leviathan, “The Belldog” official track premiere

Six Dumb Questions with Megaton Leviathan

Over how long a period was the material on Mage written? The songs have such a diverse range. How did they come together?

I started writing them in winter of 2015/’16. I had just moved into a one bedroom apartment after my home of 10 years where we had hosted many shows in the basement was demoed. A neat lil side note is Capitalist Casualties played the last show at the house so that was kind of a nice farewell. I was pretty depressed and had some interpersonal things going on at the time on top of this and I had put on a LOT of weight and experiencing some health issues. I was pretty fed up with the bullshit that comes along with doing the band thing. The Past 21 tours where literally a death march and after writing an album when I got back and kind of trying to get a band together, Ford Tennis (yes, that’s his real name) let me know he was leaving. He did the session drums for Past 21 and we tapped him since our touring drummer just kinda ghosted us.

I was fed up with EVERYTHING. People would tell me oh you need to to tour more… I’m like I toured a lot man, I hired PR, we played direct support slots with Wolves in the Throne Room several times, and they even said themselves if this isn’t helping you not much else can be done, so going back a little further that was the basis of beginning of the end for Chris bagging out.  But that’s a whole other story. So yeah, just years of near-misses failures and getting our asses handed to us. So I shelved that album I did after Past 21, I folded the band and told Mort Subite that I was fucking done. He however knew I wasn’t and waited me out patiently. Anyway I got into this one bedroom apartment and set up all my studio gear in the living room.

Then one day I got the itch. I started laying down all these synth tracks and came up with some hooks and whatnot. I compiled three or four songs. I knew I wanted to hang up the doom hat — that shit bored me at this point from a songwriting perspective. I wanted to explore, so I got me a Moog Voyager.  I ended up getting a new house in the middle of the peak of the housing crisis here in Portland as well, nicely situated on the other side of the freeway so no one fucks with us. Anyway I was also listening to a lot of Chrome at the time and I think some of that leaked into it. I guess more than just leaked, since I essentially met Helios Creed and ended up filling in for the synth master himself Tommy L. Cyborg (Farflung). Mort and I ended up helping with Chrome‘s album Techromancy and THEN  I toured Europe with ChromeHelios and Lou Minatti where around quite a lot around this time. So it went from a total bummer to all this awesome stuff happening by the end of 2017.

Tell me about “Within the Threshold.” How did writing that song happen and what is it expressing for you in its lyrics and in the music itself?

This was the last song I had written for the album I knew I wanted to pay homage to the Kosmische Kraut gods. So I went there with it, busted out the Moog and tasty analog arp’d synth and did my best Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze with some German psych-folk in there to possibly make Julian Cope proud heh heh heh… It just came together effortlessly, I mapped it out and did the bottom tracks and then brought Mort and Andrea in to fill it out.  The process was actually fun. The album Mage itself is obviously themed and this song is the completion of the lyrical concepts. It’s not a secret to many that I am a Esoteric Freemason and a member of a Hermetic Fellowship. I had been doing a lot of work and this album reflects that. I try to keep this stuff very simple because it can get very complicated very fast and at that point you may lose the meaning. I also try to keep a childlike wonder about these things — growing up is for losers. Music and magick are creative things that rely on it, in my opinion. So the song, it’s about being within the pillars of hidden knowledge, vision coming to form and being very clear after diligently trudging a dark path with very little to light the way except trust in faith, THEN that moment of “AH!… it all makes sense now,” I hear my song and know it is a gift. To sum it up, Order Ab Chao.

Tell me about the recording process. You basically rebuilt the band going into this album. Were you nervous at all about how it would all work out? What did each player bring to the project that let you know it was going to all fit?

I came at this from the perspective [of how] my Masonic Lodge and etc. goes about bringing in new initiates. They have to want it. I’m not going to waste all my time and effort on curiosity seekers. I want to know that you’re in it, that you know what you want and this is it. My lodge prides itself on their commitment to the craft and are some of the best esotericists (of many different backgrounds) I have ever met, I wanted my band to reflect the same in the capacity of music.

So yeah I had to start from scratch with the exception of Mort Subite — who for those of you who know French might glean that he has impeccable timing, which he does. He is my ace. Though the moment that I realized that I might want to continue was when Jon Reid reached out to me and offered his drumming skills. I knew he played on that first Lord Dying record and I had seen them play several times around town, but I had no idea he knew about ML and that he was a fan. His enthusiasm and his ability as a musician sealed it for me. From that point on I think Mort Subite and I decided to just commit fully and make this a band. Slowly we kept getting together bringing in different people essentially trying them out to fill out the band. Andrea Morgan came into the picture. Mort knew her from “back in the day” and so did a few others we knew. So I was like, “huh don’t know if I need like six people in this band… what can she do?” Mort was quick to inform me that she was extremely talented and plays violin in the Vancouver Washington symphony. I reflected on the work Chris Beug did with string arrangements on the first album, and the stuff we did on Past 21… if we could pull it off in the context of new works that would be great.

So we brought her in she clicked right away and it was a match. At this point we started rehearsing regularly and I was teaching everyone the material off of the Repeating Patterns of Love demo.  We had a few people come in and out but things where kinda gelling so  I was like, “guys! we are going to finish this album I wrote, I want you all to collaborate with me on it.” So we did that and somewhere in there I was talking to Trejen who I used to be roommates with at a Fourth of July party and telling him what I was up to. He was like well you know I play bass as well as art. I mean this dude is a really damn good artist and I knew he was a straight shooter. He also toured with Dystopia as a roadie on their very last tour so I also knew for fact he had the right stuff. So I was like, “you’re in dude, let’s meet next week.” The next day he called me and was like, “hey so I was drunk last night… Did I? did I just join Megaton Leviathan?” I was like, “yeah man – you sure did.  You in?” He said, “yeah lets do this.” So we got it together and played a few local shows to seal the deal over the summer of 2017. In between all of that we worked on the album, getting together in my studio and laying down tracks. I felt that process created a strong bond between us which I knew was needed if we were going forward as a six-piece band.

Our most recent player Russ Archer is rad too. He is a quick study, gets it and has a great sense of humor which is needed. Russ has played in SubArachnoid Space and a bunch of other great bands. I’m looking forward to collaborating with him and everyone on future works for sure.

How are the songs connected for you? Can you expand a bit on how they tie together in theme and purpose and what drew you to fleshing them out in different ways? How do “Mage” and “The Belldog” happen next to each other?

I mean as far as writing them it was pretty much sequentially.  Then when the time was right I kind of catherted and got the lyrical content. I’m telling a story which is kind of reminiscent of a hymn. First song I kinda talk about my process. I was in a dark place and I was looking for some healing. And it kinda goes from there to how I get over it and find my footing again. I go over the dualistic nature of life the tragedy the glory getting in touch with your higher purpose. Listen to the album.

As far as “Mage,” I wrote that one. I kinda went off on tokens in life that kinda signal change and was kind of incorporating more of a worldview with the wacky shit that is happening in our at least American culture anyway. I grew up as a kid in the ’80s having an actor as a president and playing G.I. Joes and Transformers then took a bunch of acid in the ’90s… and now we have this really augmented warped reality that seems too absurd to be real… It’s like I’m living in a dream, “yo dawg is this shit real? We have some reality show host playing G.I. Joes and Transformers but hes presumably in charge of the free world…” Anyway what can I do? This seems really bizarre, man. I feel kinda helpless but I’ve done enough acid to know that this shit will pass and you gotta take the lesson man. Do what you can. Weave your truth into the narrative. Hack it by radiating love on the micro cosmic level, it will grow, etc. In the meantime duck and let the shit wash over you.

“The Belldog” is a cover of a Cluster & Eno track. So I was telling you about Mort Subite and his great timing. We were about done and he came in ad was like, “oh I have this track…” He had arranged it all himself and brought it to Andrea and I to do strings and guitars. So I did my best Micheal Rother. I figured if there was any guitarist that would jam with those dudes it was him first and foremost (Harmonia). All of us in the band where floored by it, and I we knew this had to go on side two and stand as a massive homage to the Kraut masters. Mort Subite and I actually got to see Hans-Joachim Roedelius live in Portland right after we finished tracking and it was this beautiful moment of the vision being realized for that song in particular, having Adam Stacy (Secret Chiefs 3) do the piano on that was the best call we could have made. I just shook Roedelius‘ hand and thanked him after the set.

It’s been four years since Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell. Aside from the lineup, how do you feel the band has grown in that time? Was there something specific you wanted to do differently on Mage?

I mean what line up? it was me stumbling around with a guitar while Mort did sound… although we had a drummer on the US tour so there’s that. I didn’t have a band, not at that point. It had broken up by 2010. I was just trying to keep doing a thing and see the album through and it felt like a burden at that point. I had to re-record it three times save for the drum tracks and the collab tracks which kinda saved that album from being a total waste.

I feel like now I have what I always wanted with Megaton Leviathan anyway. I had always felt like we put the cart before the horse starting out. I wanted live synths, and there is of course things that you gain merely from experience which I lacked 10 years ago. So it is as it should be.

We kind of touched on the doom thing with our first two albums. Past 21 is the heaviest we will ever get. We went out of our way to make the heaviest album we could, and for better or worse, I did it. It’s time to move on. Yeah, with Mage I just wanted to do what felt right musically. The electronic and post-punk elements have always been there so I wanted to expose that more with this output. I have endless roads to travel and I plan on taking that pilgrimage.

Will Megaton Leviathan tour? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

Yeah we plan on it, timing is everything and we hope to finally make it to EU sooner than later.  Buy our album, support your local record stores and if you like a band go see ’em live when they come to your town.

Megaton Leviathan, “Wave”

Megaton Leviathan on Thee Facebooks

Megaton Leviathan on Instagram

Megaton Leviathan on Bandcamp

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Megaton Leviathan Set Oct. 26 Release for Mage; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

megaton leviathan

I write about a lot of killer records on this site. Doing so keeps me as close to sane as I get. Take my word for it when I tell you this one is something special. I’m not bragging and I’m not claiming any insight or anything like that, but the basic fact of the matter is I hear a lot of music. A lot. And Megaton Leviathan‘s new LP, Mage (on Blood Music), is a standout, in style and substance alike. It’s a work of deep-running psychedelic heft that not only expands the reaches of the band’s prior outings, but does so in inventive and soulful fashion. In its atmosphere and its realization, it’s not to be missed. Something special. I don’t know how else to put it. Hopefully I come up with something before I sit down to review it, or it’s gonna be a pretty short writeup.

I’ve got till Oct. 26 on that one, so a bit of time, but Megaton Leviathan are streaming the opening track “Wave” now, and it’s as good a place to dig in as I can think of, though it doesn’t necessarily represent the entire scope of the offering. They’d basically have to stream the whole thing to do that, and, well, it’s early for that. I’m sure they’ll get there.

Release announcement came down the PR wire with the Earth-esque cover art and the aforementioned track:

Megaton Leviathan Mage

Megaton Leviathan announce new album “Mage”, stream new single “Wave”

Megaton Leviathan have released new details behind the release of their new album, “Mage”. The five track album, a follow up to 2014’s “Past 21: Beyond the Artic Cell”, will be released worldwide via Blood Music on October 26. Pre-orders for the album are available here.

Megaton Leviathan are streaming the first track off “Mage”. The single, “a sprawling, emotional, trippy and ultimately memorable track” titled “Wave” is streaming now.

Regarding the new track, singer/multi-instrumentalist Andrew James Costa Reuscher comments, “It’s about coming to peace and healing a broken heart. I was on a beach in Aptos doing some astral work/meditation and saw a pretty damn vivid waking vision of the goddess ISIS spread out across the horizon … she gave me this song.”

The artwork and track list for “Mage” is as follows:

Track List
1. Wave
2. Take The Fire
3. Mage
4. The Belldog
5. Within The Threshold

In the three years since MEGATON LEVIATHAN released the critically acclaimed Past 21: Beyond The Artic Cell, multi-instrumentalist Andrew James Costa Reuscher and fellow musician/producer Mort Subite have been diligently creating new material. Their aim is to meet and exceed MEGATON LEVIATHAN’s reputation for fusing disparate elements into new, borderline narcotic compositions.

The resulting offering from the re-envigorated band is their new album Mage, due to be released this October via Blood Music. The album is a concoction of the band’s very own blend of heavy rock, psychedelia, and shoegaze, with heavy synths and orchestral leanings.

Borne out of a personal catharsis for Reuscher, Mage incorporates themes of evolution and enlightenment. Recording took place in-house, with Mort Subite at the helm for mixing, and Billy Anderson handling mastering.

Several new members were drafted for the creation of Mage, including ex-Lord Dying drummer Jonathan Reid, vocalist and concert violinist Andrea Morgan, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Travis Hathaway, and bassist Trejen. This new and diversely talented cast inspired unexpected creative influence in the studio and will no doubt entrance live audiences when MEGATON LEVIATHAN hit the road.

https://www.facebook.com/Megaton-Leviathan-185853803548/
https://www.instagram.com/megaton_leviathan/
https://megatonleviathan.bandcamp.com/
http://www.blood-music.com/store/

Megaton Leviathan, “Wave”

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Megaton Leviathan Update on Lineup and New Album Progress

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The numbers don’t lie, but it sure feels like longer than three years since the last time Portland drone-psych ritualizers Megaton Leviathan released an album. Led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Andrew James Costa Reuscher, who founded the band a decade ago as a solo-project, Megaton Leviathan go into their next offering as a full-on troupe — a six-piece outfit — who no doubt will be driven to realize and expand on the wash that has typified the project’s deep-running and richly textured work since the outset. Do I have any prediction what their next record might sound like? None whatsoever. Do I dare to hazard a guess? Not on your life.

What I do find particularly encouraging about Megaton Leviathan expanding their lineup, however, is that it would seem to signal things are going to get weirder, and I don’t see any possible way that could hurt them. I wouldn’t rush it, but I’m looking forward to this one for sure, whenever it might arrive.

From the PR wire:

megaton leviathan

Megaton Leviathan Announce Lineup Additions, Studio Album in Progress

In the three years since Megaton Leviathan released their last album, 2014’s critically acclaimed “Past 21,” Andrew James Costa Reuscher and Mort Subite have been diligently creating new material to meet and exceed Megaton’s reputation for fusing disparate elements into new, borderline narcotic compositions.

To help facilitate this goal, several new members have been drafted in both studio and live capacities, including ex Lord Dying drummer Jonathan Reid, vocalist and concert violinist Andrea Morgan, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Travis Hathaway, and bassist Trejen. This new, diversely talented cast has already inspired unexpected creative reward in the studio, and will no doubt entrance live audiences worldwide as Megaton Leviathan take to the road once again to support their presently incubating goliath later this year.

Since 2007 Megaton Leviathan have been concocting an increasingly discriminating solution of heavy rock, psychedelia, shoegaze and more, one distinctive album at a time. Originally a solo project consisting of little more than multi-instrumentalist Andrew James Costa Reuscher and a strong desire to create, various impermanent collaborators would augment this lineup for several years, including drummer Matt Brim and bassist Chris Beug, whose orchestral influence would permanently transfigure Megaton’s sound. Varying permutations of these players would propel the band through its first two full length releases and several US tours.

In the aftermath of a lineup overhaul in 2014, producer/multi-instrumentalist Mort Subite signed on to mix the band’s third full length, Past 21. Proving vital to the new direction and creative core of the band, Subite remained and he and Costa Reuscher successfully navigated several independent tours in support of the then new material.

In the wake of Past 21, an even further evolved Megaton Leviathan has washed up on uncharted shores. Swathing deeper into territories unknown, and gaining refugees from the storm, Costa Reuscher and Subite have assembled a crew of talented and creative minds eager to push the boundaries of drone, rock, psychedelia, post punk and beyond. Past 21 saw Megaton Leviathan experimenting with the likes of kraut-rock, darkwave, and even orchestral themes. The impending full length will continue these flirtations as a full on romance, met with even stranger partners in the ever expanding theater of the real.

Megaton Leviathan is:
Andrew James Costa- Guitars, bass,Vocals, Synthesizers, effects, sound loops.
Mort Subite- Live Sound , Engineer, Misc / 2014 current synth,sound engineer, vocals, guitar
Trejen -Bass 2017-
Jon Reid drums – 2017
Travis Hathaway rhythm guitar/ acoustic guitar
Andrea Morgan – Violin, Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/Megaton-Leviathan-185853803548/
https://megatonleviathan.bandcamp.com

Megaton Leviathan, “Past 21”

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audiObelisk Transmission 039

Posted in Podcasts on August 26th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

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

This one’s a couple minutes shorter than the last few have been, but lacks nothing for substance, and particularly after YOB‘s “Marrow,” anything I put at the end would’ve just been filler to meet some imaginary obligation on my part. If you feel like you’re lacking the four minutes, give me a call and we’ll chat about records for the rest of that time. It’ll be a hoot. In any case, I think there’s plenty here to sink into — stuff that for a lot of people, myself included, will be on year-end lists and albums for which 2014 will be remembered when all is said and done. Two of my four current contenders for Album of the Year are featured, first and last.

Parts of this podcast are gorgeous, parts are ugly, but I think everything here holds up in terms of quality and listening back, I like the way this one gets immersive with a mix of longer tracks and shorter ones, slower and faster, etc. As always, I hope you enjoy, and I thank you sincerely for taking the time to check it out.

First Hour:
Lo-Pan, “Regulus” from Colossus (2014)
Steak, “Liquid Gold” from Slab City (2014)
The Well, “Mortal Bones” from Samsara (2014)
Orange Goblin, “The Devil’s Whip” from Back from the Abyss (2014)
Kvlthammer, “Hesh Trip” from Kvlthammer (2014)
Snailking, “To Wonder” from Storm (2014)
Earth, “From the Zodiacal Light” from Primitive and Deadly (2014)
Pallbearer, “Watcher in the Dark” from Foundations of Burden (2014)
Sorxe, “Her Majesty” from Surrounded by Shadows (2014)

Second Hour:
Humo del Cairo, “Tres” from Preludio EP (2014)
Joy, “Miles Away” from Under the Spell Of… (2014)
Megaton Leviathan, “Past 21” from Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell (2014)
Bong, “Blue at Noon” from Haikai No Ku – Ultra High Dimensionality LP (2014)
YOB, “Marrow” from Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)

Total running time: 1:53:47

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 039

 

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Megaton Leviathan Ready Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell for Release on Seventh Rule

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

If you didn’t hear Megaton Leviathan‘s Water Wealth Hell on Earth (review here) when it was released in 2011, you’re probably going to want to stop reading this sentence immediately and get to whatever outlet will allow you to put it in your ears the fastest. An all-consuming wash of psych-doom experimentation that called forth black metal’s buzz but expanded the scope beyond genre confines. There were times throughout that album where it was simply too much to take, but wow, what a sound.

Band spearhead Andrew James Costa Reuscher has had a few limited releases out since then, and there was first discussion of an allegiance with Seventh Rule — now also based in Portland, OR — back in late 2012, but not much word has come out of a new album since. Enter Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell as the first Megaton Leviathan full-length in three years and mark me down as on-fucking-board. As you can see in the live clip below, the drone wash is in full effect, and Megaton Leviathan offer all the ritual with none of the “cult” silliness of many of their contemporaries. Much as they have any.

Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell is out Sept. 9:

MEGATON LEVIATHAN: Psychedelic Doom Masters Release Sophomore Full-Length Via Seventh Rule Next Month; Summer Live Performances Confirmed

The only constant is change. Standing in stark contrast to the droning, gorgeous slabs of psychedelic and atmospherically infused doom that comprise the aural output of MEGATON LEVIATHAN, the band itself has been in a constant state of flux since its inception in 2007. By the end of 2012, despite the official announcement of a new album, not only that album, but the fate of the entire project itself were positioned beneath a very precariously dangled sword. Circumstance and internal conflict nearly saw the band’s next major release a specter with no corporeal form. However, after a redoubling of effort, a reshuffling of the deck and some inevitable missteps along the way, MEGATON LEVIATHAN’s second full length album, Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell, has emerged from the chaos of its birth pangs, prepared to thoroughly swath a blazing path through the dense forest of the modern musical landscape.

Mixed by Mort Subite (V.I.I.R.L., Alfheimr, Benighted in Sodom live), MEGATON LEVIATHAN’s newest resident thaumaturgist, Past 21 is a near lethal dose of solemn audio narcotic, shifting the listener somewhere outside the realm of space-time for the duration of its dissociative transduction from speakers to brain. Glacial, yet burning with divine fire, Past 21’s spell is simultaneously whispered in a hallowed chapel, and torn from a throat rent by the gnashing of teeth.

Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell Track Listing:
1. Past 21
2. The Foolish Man
3. Arctic Cell
4. Here Come The Tears

In April of 2014, MEGATON founder and lone original member, Andrew James Costa Reuscher and Subite took Past 21 on the road for a first round of West Coast dates as a one man show/performance piece, featuring heavy visual elements, Reuscher the unifying human component, and Subite as the hidden hand, mixing live audio. MEGATON LEVIATHAN later tapped V.I.I.R.L. drummer Markus Covello to join the onstage lineup. With Reuscher handling vocal and guitar operations, and Subite continuing his live audio duties, this revamped, three-man cast will form the core of the MEGATON LEVIATHAN live experience for the duration of the forthcoming West Coast dates surrounding Deadfest in Oakland where the band will perform alongside the likes of Ephemeros, Connoisseur, Augurs and more. See confirmed dates below.

MEGATON LEVIATHAN Live 2014:
8/09/2014 Megaton House (cassette release show) – Portland, OR
8/14/2014 Ink Annex – Eureka, CA
8/15/2014 Dead Fest – Oakland, CA
8/16/2014 Rock Shop – San Jose, CA
8/17/2014 Starlight Lounge – Sacramento, CA
8/24/2014 Hive Portland, OR * LP Release Show
8/30/2014 TBA – Bozeman, MT
8/31/2014 Black Sparrow Tattoo Club – Billings, MT
9/02/2014 TBA
9/03/2014 Quarters – Milwaukee, WI
9/04/2014 Ghost House – Bloomington, IN
9/05/2014 5th Quarter Lounge – Indianapolis, IN
9/06/2014 TBA
9/07/2014 Acheron – Brooklyn, NY
9/08/2014 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
9/09/2014 The Crown – Baltimore, MD
9/10/2014 Static Age – Asheville, NC
9/12/2014 Springwater – Nashville, TN
9/14/2014 Siberia – New Orleans, LA
9/15/2014 TBA – Austin, TX
9/16/2014 TBA – Dallas, TX
9/18/2014 Bar Bar – Denver, CO

Past 21: Beyond The Arctic Cell will be released via Seventh Rule Recordings on September 9th, 2014. Further info including track teasers to be unveiled in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

http://megatonleviathan.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Megaton-Leviathan/185853803548
http://www.seventhrule.com
http://instagram.com/seventhrule
http://seventhrulerec.tumblr.com/
http://twitter.com/seventhrule

Megaton Leviathan, Live at First Church of the Buzzard, April 19, 2014

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Megaton Leviathan Sign to Seventh Rule, Lose a Member and Have a New Album in the Works

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

The latest update from Portland, Oregon-based hyper-droners Megaton Leviathan is nothing if not an efficient declaration of relevant info. In a relatively short few paragraphs, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Andrew James Costa informs that the band has signed with Seventh Rule Recordings — an awesome fit — and that Chris Beug has left the band, and also that they have a new album in the works. It’s a lot going on in a relatively minimal announcement, and considering their songs have a tendency to psychedelically meander for upwards of a half-hour, a longer treatise wouldn’t necessarily have been out of character.

Nonetheless, quick and to the point with this from Megaton Leviathan‘s Thee Facebooks page:

Dear friends of Megaton Leviathan

I’m putting out a direct statement to those of you who are closest to the band.

Over the last month Megaton Leviathan attempted to record our 2nd full-length album. After much set backs, schedule changes, conflicts, and the lack of communication the recent attempt at a collaborative effort between Chris and I had dissolved, is the best way I can put it. The end
result is that Chris Beug is no longer a member of Megaton Leviathan

It boils down to this; I am completely unwilling to rush and compromise the creative process or output of this project. Megaton Leviathan is the result of years of hard work, and my desire to mix all of the things I love into one art project. I am very grateful for all the experiences I have had over the years, good bad and indifferent. For they have shaped what this project has become.

It will not go without saying Chris was instrumental in getting Megaton Leviathan out of the studio and on the road, is responsible for a lot of its image and made many sacrifices along the way just as I have. For the record it has been a emotional week.

Megaton Leviathan is still very much alive. I have recently joined forces with 7th Rule records here in Portland, and he has been very supportive through this. With his help and the support of my friends this album will get done, and see the light of day sometime in 2013. It wont be the album I thought it was going to be, but it’s going to be the album it’s meant to be. That’s psychedelic isn’t it?

Andrew James Costa Reuscher

More tba.

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