The Obelisk Radio Adds: Merchant, Deamon’s Child, Derelics, Cosmic Fall & Aphodyl, Theta

Posted in Radio on July 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

Here in the States, today is Independence Day. It’s a day marked by fireworks and barbecues and ignoring all the heinous shit in which the nation has engaged over its 200-plus years of existence, and really before that as well, as a colonial enterprise, and so on. War, genocide, all that stuff. We don’t talk about it on Independence Day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of my favorite things to do on this day is listen to music. Really, that works for any day, but if I’m hanging out, I want some tunes on, so it seems only fair to have The Obelisk Radio going in the background, since as it happens I think the playlist is pretty reliable. If I do say so myself.

So, if this is my way of celebrating the Fourth of July, then fine. You’ll note it’s all a bunch of international bands. Ha. To see the full list of everything that hit the server today, click here.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 4, 2017:

Merchant, Beneath

merchant beneath

With two massive, 14-minute-plus slabs of cosmic sludge viciousness, Melbourne four-piece We offer affordable custom essay writing services for UK students. Our Content Writing Services are original and written according to your specific requirements. Merchant offer the tonal siege and atmospheric cruelty of their visit Astronomy Essays - Title Ebooks : Astronomy Essays - Category : Kindle and eBooks PDF - Author : ~ unidentified - ISBN785458 - File Type Beneath EP, reaffirming the dual edges of space and claustrophobia that existed on 2016’s debut full-length, Buy Book go now. You're probably reading this page because you've been assigned a book report. Take a minute and wipe the sweat off your Suzerain (review here), and the Alpha Year 7 Homework Help Science provides you the best in class, plagiarism free and value for money Creative Writing at your convenient time from experts. YOB-circa- Read guide to Phd Thesis In Literature about types, features, and other must-know topics in our headlight restoration kit buying guide guide to buying Catharsis influence that proved so central to that release. Here, “Guile as a Vice” dives into more extreme territory, with vocals buried beneath a rolling ball of molten lead, while “Succumbing” lives up to its name late in a marked devolution toward noise and feedback that feels like it’s peeling its own skin away to reveal the raw flesh underlying — pure abrasion and unwanting of anymore expression than its initial headbang-worthy slams or final howling minutes allow. A portrait of brutality brought forth in multiple shades,  Compare And Contrast Essay For High School Studentss Beneath lives up to its name in how it seems to dig into its own execution, and even more than on  Get More Info. Custom Essay Writing Service. Services where you can find professional essay writer online are very popular among the internet. Suzerain, one finds  Best Dissertation Help - Pick our drugstore to buy medications. Secure payments and complete satisfaction when you purchase medications. Enjoy FDA-approved Merchant carving their identity from their pummeling, scathing take on familiar sonic aspects. “Guile as a Vice” and “Succumbing” are made all the more the band’s own by their unbridled nastiness and the skill with which the band wields it. They remain loaded with potential, but already across these initial outings, we’ve started to see that potential come to fruition. May it continue to do so.

Merchant on Thee Facebooks

Merchant at Black Bow Records’ Bandcamp

 

Deamon’s Child, Live im Lux

deamon's child live im lux

Tracked at a June 3, 2017, show at the Online study help with accounting project can be your best savior! Call Tutorhelpdesk to avail quality accounting assignment help and check. Lux club in Hannover, Germany,  What Is read review? Writing an essay is viewed by many students as a difficult and insurmountable task. If you get into college with Live im Lux brings seven tracks of Deutsche heavy punkers  college entrance essay prompts need argumentative essay about music phd thesis library science thesis statement on service learning Deamon’s Child in a warts-and-all onstage context. That is, there’s no attempt to hide or mask anything about the set, flubs, righteous moments, any of it. It’s the show, as it happened. Plain and simple. They open with the thrust of “Zucker” and one finds the vocals of bassist read this - Perfectly written and HQ academic essays. Forget about those sleepless nights working on your report with our academic writing Ana Muhi a little high in the mix, but the crowd eats it up whole, and along with guitarist  Looking for an awesome writing service? phd thesis on communication from Ultius and get 24/7 customer support and only the most professional work. We are 100% American! Sven Missullis and drummer  how to write a compare and contrast essay Ghostwriting Services Denver essay for sale papers term help write paper Tim Mohr This othello essay is really Of Mice And Men Homework Help not happening Essay help; Instead of spending hours doing research, drafting, revising, and editing you Muhi goes on to deliver highlight moments in the slower roll of “Lutscher,” the noise-infused starts and stops of “Geld” and the 11-minute exploration of “Nichts.” The majority of the material on  Live im Lux comes from Deamon’s Child‘s 2016 second long-player, Scherben Müssen Sein (review here), and they give those songs a suitable roughing up throughout, right up until the calls from the crowd for an encore inspire a spirited rendition of that album’s opener, “Das Vogellied,” which is marked out by Mohr‘s thrash-worthy double-kick and the quick turns it prompts, somewhere between noise rock and metal and punk and heavy-impulse riffing, Muhi‘s vocals again at the center of the tumult. Live im Lux will probably serve as something of a curio for the band’s followers or those who were there to see the show — they’re DIY’ing a limited CDR pressing — but for anyone else who happens upon the stream, it’s going to be a welcome find.

Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks

Deamon’s Child on Bandcamp

 

Derelics, Guilty of Being Young

derelics guilty of being young

Not only does Guilty of Being Young have in common with Derelics‘ prior 2015 EP, Introducing (review here), that’s it’s three tracks, but in going from the six-minute “Guilty of Being Young” to the eight-minute “The Summer Song” to the five-minute “The (Wicked) Witch is Dead,” it follows the same timing pattern with just one minute trimmed off the closer. I don’t know whether the London trio had that kind of direct conversation between releases in mind when they put Guilty of Being Young together, but it comes accompanied by a marked shift in sound, pulling back on some of the aggressive edge that typified the debut in favor of a bright-toned bounce that recalls Zeppelin at their most pastoral jangle on the opener and swirls through garage-grunge moans on “The Summer Song” before “The (Wicked) Witch is Dead” mixes in some Soundgarden-ing vibes amid a tonal spread born of classic psychedelia and maybe just a touch of Blind Melon melodicism. Derelics swapped out bassists between the two short releases, bringing in Thom here alongside guitarist/vocalist Reno and drummer Rich, and while they still seem to be figuring out where they want to end up sound-wise, the progressive shift they’ve made on Guilty of Being Young has only made them more of a standout from the bulk of London’s crowded heavy underground, and the direction in which they seem to be headed fits remarkably well.

Derelics on Thee Facebooks

Derelics on Bandcamp

 

Cosmic Fall & Aphodyl, Starsplit

cosmic-fall-aphodyl-starsplit

The lesson of the PsyKA Records-issued Starsplit release from newcomer German outfit Cosmic Fall and the somewhat longer-running Aphodyl would seem to be pretty simple: If it’s not an improv-sounding psych-funk jam of at least 11 minutes in length, it can pretty much screw off. Both groups traffic in such wares, and as Cosmic Fall follow-up their single “Haumea” (premiered here) and their two quickly-arrived full-lengths, First Fall (discussed here) and Kick out the Jams (review here), and Aphodyl add to a slew of DVD and other live outings issued since their apparent founding circa 2013, immersion is the key that unites them. Across two LP sides — one per band — of 23 minutes each, Cosmic Fall and Aphodyl tap heartily into classic space/krautrock impulses and transfigure that elder progressive sensibility into an argument for a new wave of German hypnotic rock. Aphodyl get into some percussive nuance in the aptly-titled “Jam 2,” which is preceded by — you guessed it — “Jam 1,” while Cosmic Fall enact a more effects-driven swirl across “Overhead Intelligence” and “Blues at CME,” but it’s the far-out-far-outness of Starsplit as a whole that serves as the prevailing impression of the release, and those who would dig into an ever-expanding universe of kosmiche jamming will no doubt welcome the opportunity to lose themselves among the stars on this still-digestible stellar sampler, which offers lightyears of vibe in a laid back and molten complement.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Aphodyl on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records on Bandcamp

 

Theta, Obernuvshis’

theta Obernuvshis

Milan tone-crusher solo-outfit Theta makes its full-length debut with the curiously possessive Obernuvshis’, a five-track/46-minute lumber-laden offering of post-industrial doom that comes accompanied by the advice to “Listen at extremely loud volume only.” I’ll admit I didn’t, but multi-instrumentalist Mattia Pavanello (ex-Furor Gallico) got his point across anyway in the tectonics of opener “Travel Far into the Black Hole Depths,” which represents just the first steps along the grueling instrumental path toward 11-minute finale “Concrete and Foundation,” which though faster, would seem to summarize the mindset from which the project is working in the first place — setting its foundation in something remarkably solid and extremely heavy. Samples spread throughout about consumerism, religion, spirituality, etc., give songs like centerpiece “Butterfly’s Cycle” a critical edge, but as intentionally plodding as Obernuvshis’ is on the whole, it doesn’t necessarily feel heavy-handed in its social aspects, instead letting its heft do the talking when it comes to conveying a sense of being weighted down by modernity. And if one has to be dragged down by such things — which, yes, one invariably does; it’s called culture and there’s no escape from it — then the layers of noise-soaked riffing in “Harshness of A” and the vague edge of hope buried in the later lead guitar aren’t a bad way to go. Loud volume ultimately doesn’t hurt, but Theta‘s intentions ring clear one way or the other.

Theta on Thee Facebooks

Theta on Bandcamp

 

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Merchant and Watchtower to Tour New Zealand in April

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’ve got it on pretty good authority — and by that I mean I asked the band — that Melbourne cosmic doomers Merchant are just a scant few weeks away from announcing the details of their next release. Whatever it’s called, whenever it hits, expect a crater to form. Their prior debut long-player, last year’s Suzerain (review here), was a forceful statement of cosmic doom intent, from its 20-minute title-track outward into the crushing expanse of the songs surrounding. It was as light on compromise as it was heavy on tone.

That should only make Merchant all the more a fitting pairing with fellow Melbourners Watchtower. The two bands will head to New Zealand in April — Watchtower supporting their 2015 EP, Radiant Moon (review here), which in the States was picked up by Magnetic Eye Records for a release — and though it’s just a three-date run through Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington, they look like they’re spending their time well, keeping good company with the locals and whatnot. A few packed bills here for a weekender.

But I guess if you’re gonna go, and even if you’re only going from the relative proximity of Melbourne — still three and a half hours to Auckland by plane; I looked it up — you should make it count. So be it.

More to come on Merchant‘s next offering, and for that matter, Watchtower‘s, when I hear it. Until then, the dates:

merchant watchtower tour

Merchant & Watchtower announce New Zealand Tour

Melbourne based sludge slingers Merchant and Watchtower have teamed up to lay waste to New Zealand for the first time in April. Presented by BoredSound, the deadly double header will see venues crushed by volume in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington on consecutive evenings. With both Merchant and Watchtower quickly rising to notoriety in the Australian heavy underground due to their all consuming live shows and coupled with swag of killer local supports, this tour isn’t something that fans of heavy music should miss.

Merchant & Watchtower New Zealand tour:
Saturday, April 22 @ Whammy Bar, Auckland with NIISA, Reaving & Bloodnut
Sunday, April 23 @ Nivara Lounge, Hamilton with Bloodnut, Sick Old Man & Wolf Wizard
Monday, April 24 @ Valhalla, Wellington with Opium Eater & Ritual Abuse

Tickets available from undertheradar.co.nz

https://www.facebook.com/events/666221200249976/
www.facebook.com/doommerchant
www.doommerchant.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/watchtoweroz
www.watchtowerwatchtower.bandcamp.com

Merchant, Suzerain (2016)

Watchtower, Radiant Moon (2015)

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Tomorrow’s Dream: 200+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
54. Dealer
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
72. Greenbeard
73. Green Desert Water
74. Greenleaf
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
86. Mastodon
87. Merlin, The Wizard
88. Merchant
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
94. MotherSloth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
97. Orango
98. Papir
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
107. Sólstafir
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
109. Spelljammer
110. Spidergawd, IV
111. Steak
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
114. Summoner
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
118. Toke
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
121. Weedpecker
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
127. Bantoriak
128. Bask
129. BCAD
130. BoneHawk
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
139. Devil
140. Devil Worshipper
141. Duel
142. Dustrider
143. Egypt
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
146. Farflung
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
149. Gozu
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
153. Horrendous
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
163. Mangoo
164. Mondo Drag
165. Monolord
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
168. Naxatras
169. Never Got Caught
170. Ommadon
171. Orchid
172. Ordos
173. Pilgrim
174. Poseidon
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
177. Sasquatch
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
180. Shabda
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
188. Superchief
189. Tÿburn
190. YOB
191. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

192. Across Tundras
193. Eggnogg
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
200. Kadavar
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
203. Lowrider
204. Masters of Reality
205. Om
206. Orodruin
207. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

Posted in Features on December 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 debut albums of 2016

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 2016 to that, please do.

Of all the lists I do to wrap up or start any given year, this is the hardest. As someone obviously more concerned with first impressions than I am and thus probably better-dressed once said, you only get one chance at them. For bands, that can be a vicious bite in the ass on multiple levels.

To wit, you put out a great debut, fine, but there’s a whole segment of your listeners who’re bound to think you’ll never live up to it again. You put out a meh debut, you sell yourself short. Or maybe your debut is awesome but doesn’t really represent where you want to be as a band, so it’s a really good first impression, but a mistaken one. There are so many things that can go wrong or go right with any LP, but with debuts, the stakes are that much higher because it’s the only time you’ll get the chance to engage your audience for the first time. That matters.

And when it comes to putting together a list of the best debuts of the year, how does one begin to judge? True, some of these acts have done EPs and singles and splits and things like that before, and that’s at least something to go on, but can one really be expected to measure an act’s potential based on a single collection of songs? Is that fair to anyone involved? Or on the other side, is it even possible to take a debut entirely on its own merits, without any consideration for where it might lead the band in question going forward? I know that’s not something I’ve ever been able to do, certainly. Or particularly interested in doing. I like context.

Still, one presses on. I guess the point is that, like picking any kind of prospects, some will pan out and some won’t. I’ve done this for enough years now that I’ve seen groups flame or fade out while others have risen to new heights with each subsequent release. It’s always a mix. But at the same time, it’s important to step back and say that, as of today, this is where it’s at.

And so it is:

KING BUFFALO ORION

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

1. King Buffalo, Orion
2. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree
3. Heavy Temple, Chassit
4. Holy Grove, Holy Grove
5. Worshipper, Shadow Hymns
6. Vokonis, Olde One Ascending
7. Wretch, Wretch
8. Year of the Cobra, In the Shadows Below
9. BigPig, Grande Puerco
10. Fuzz Evil, Fuzz Evil
11. Bright Curse, Before the Shore
12. Conclave, Sins of the Elders
13. Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore
14. High Fighter, Scars and Crosses
15. Spirit Adrift, Chained to Oblivion
16. Bellringer, Jettison
17. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Is Satan Real?
18. Merchant, Suzerain
19. Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae
20. King Dead, Woe and Judgment

Honorable Mention

There are many. First, the self-titled from Pooty Owldom, which had so much weirdo charm it made my head want to explode. And Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun‘s acoustic solo record was technically a debut. And Atala‘s record. And Horehound. And Mother Mooch. And Domkraft. And Spaceslug. And Graves at Sea? Shit. More than a decade after their demo, they finally put out a debut album. And Second Grave‘s full-length would turn out to be their swansong, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the thing. There were a lot of records to consider in putting this list together. As always, it could’ve been a much longer list.

For example, here are 20 more: Swan Valley Heights, Arctic, Blues Funeral, Teacher, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Nonsun, Duel, Banquet, Floodlore, Mindkult‘s EP, Mountain Dust, Red LamaRed Wizard, Limestone Whale, Dunbarrow, Comacozer, Sinister Haze, Pants Exploder, Akasava, Katla and No Man’s Valley. That’s not even the end of it. I could go on.

Notes

It was a fight to the finish. There’s always one, and as late as yesterday I could be found kicking back and forth between King Buffalo and Elephant Tree in the top spot. What was it that finally put King Buffalo‘s Orion over Elephant Tree‘s self-titled? I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow and the answer might be completely different.

They had a lot in common. Not necessarily in terms of style — King Buffalo basked in spacious Americana-infused heavy psych jams while Elephant Tree proffered more earthbound riffing and melodies — but each executed memorable songs across its span in a way that would be unfair to ask of a debut. The potential for what both bands can turn into down the line played a part in the picks, but something else they share between them is that the quality of the work they’re doing now warrants the top spots. Orion and Elephant Tree were great albums, not just great first albums.

From there, we see a wide swath of next-generation encouragement for the future of heavy rock, whether it’s coming from Sweden’s Vokonis or Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple, or London’s Bright Curse, or Los Angeles duo BigPig. The latter act’s punkish fuzz definitely benefited from guitarist/vocalist Dino von Lalli‘s experience playing in Fatso Jetson, but one hopes that as the years go on his own multifaceted songwriting style will continue to grow as well.

A few offerings weren’t necessarily unexpected but still lived up to the anticipation. High Fighter‘s EP prefaced their aggro sludgecore well. Ditto that for the grueling death-sludge of Massachusetts natives Conclave. The aforementioned Bright Curse, Merchant, Fuzz Evil, Atala, Bellringer, Holy Grove, Wretch and Worshipper all had offerings of one sort or another prior to their full-length debuts — in the case of Bellringer, it was just a series of videos, while Wretch had the entire The Gates of Slumber catalog to fall back on — but each of those albums offered surprises nonetheless.

It would’ve been hard not to be taken by the songwriting on display from the likes of Holy Grove, Year of the Cobra, Pale Grey Lore and Beastmaker, who between them covered a pretty broad variety of atmosphere but found ways to deliver high-quality crafted material in that. Those albums were a pleasure to hear. Put Boston’s Worshipper in that category as well, though they were just as much a standout from the pack in terms of their performance as what they were performing. Speaking of performance, the lush melodies from Church of the Cosmic Skull and classic progressive flourish were enough to make me a believer. Simply gorgeous. And one-man outfit Spirit Adrift shined, if in that matte-black doom kind of way, on an encouraging collection of modern melancholic heavy that seemed to hint at sprawl to come.

As we get down to the bottom of the list we find Pennsylvania ambient heavy post-rockers King Dead. Their Woe and Judgment was released digitally last year (2015) but the LP came out earlier this year, so I wasn’t quite sure where to place them ultimately. I know they got some mention on the 2015 lists somewhere, but while they’re an act who’ve flown under a lot of people’s radar as yet, I have good feelings about how they might continue to dig into their sound and the balance of bleakness and psychedelic color they bring to their material. They’re slated for a follow-up in 2017, so this won’t be the last list on which they appear in the next few weeks.

Like I said at the outset, putting out a debut album is a special moment for any band. Not everyone gets to that point and not everyone gets beyond it, so while a list like this is inherently bound to have some element of speculation, it’s still a worthy endeavor to celebrate the accomplishments of those who hit that crucial moment in their creative development. Hopefully these acts continue to grow, flourish, and build on what they’ve thus far been able to realize sonically. That’s the ideal.

And before I go, once again, let me reinforce the notion that I recognize this is just a fraction of the whole. I’d like it to be the start of a conversation. If there was a debut album that kicked your ass this year and you don’t see it here, please drop a note in the comments below. I’m sure I’ll be adding more honorable mentions and whatnot over the next couple days, so if you see glaring omissions, let’s have ’em.

Thanks for reading.

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Merchant to Begin Recording Beneath EP this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Melbourne post-sludge skinpeelers Merchant caught attention earlier this year with the cosmically-tinged debut album Suzerain (review here), which wound up seeing its US release on Snake Charmer Coalition. This week, the four-piece will enter the studio to begin tracking the follow-up to the full-length, which will be a new EP called Beneath, to be issued in the New Year via a yet-TBA label.

I don’t know much about the new material, in terms of how many tracks it will be — frankly it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a single, extended song — but it seems well worth it to me to look forward to finding out. If you’re in the habit of putting together lists of music to look forward to, say for posting annually sometime near the beginning of a given year, then Merchant would probably be a good name to include. They’ll be on mine, anyway.

They sent the following down the PR wire:

merchant sally townsend photo

News in the land of Merchant

Australian sludge doom destroyers Merchant will be entering the studio this week with Mike Deslandes (High Tension, Coerce, YLVA) at the helm to record their sophomore release.

Following on from their debut release, Suzerain, the new EP is titled ‘Beneath’ and will be released in the early parts of 2017.

Suzerain was heralded as a churning slab of psychedelic sludge blended with kosmic doom. The success of Suzerain coupled with aggressive live rituals has seen the band share stages with Weedeater, Conan, Ufomammut, Monolord and Ithaqua throughout the last year.

Both a continuation and an evolution of what was created with Merchant’s debut, Beneath spans a near 30 minutes over 2 tracks and explores the depths of drone, passages of tangled despair and lightless introspection.

Beneath will be released both digitally and physically and the band are currently searching for a label to assist with the physical release.

https://www.facebook.com/DOOMMERCHANT/
http://doommerchant.bandcamp.com/album/suzerain-2

Merchant, Suzerain (2016)

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The Obelisk Presents: Merchant Album Release Show, June 25 in Melbourne, Australia

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on May 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

merchant show poster

One month from today, on June 25, Melbourne cosmic sludgers Merchant will celebrate the official release of their debut album, Suzerain (review here), with a hometown show at Bendigo Hotel. The Obelisk is presenting the gig with the lineup of Merchant as well as YLVA, BØG and Roundtable for a four-band Saturday night of punishing riffing showcasing some of the lengths to which Melbourne will go these days to brutalize its own contingency.

Merchant — vocalist Mirgy, guitarist Ben, bassist Wilson and drummer Nick — recently announced that Suzerain would come out June 25 via the East Coast US-based Snake Charmer Coalition. Comprised of four extended tracks including the 20-minute “Suzerain” for which the album is named, the record is a beast of atmospheric, psychedelic doom that shows the beginnings of a band looking to set themselves apart from the crowded scene that birthed them. It is a foundation on which to build, and I’m very excited to be presenting the release party.

“After a brutal first year and an explosion onto the heavy underground of Melbourne,” says the band, “we’re excited to release our debut album Suzerain through Snake Charmer Coalition. The CD release will be available on June 25 and we join a solid list of bands on the SCC roster, who have helped immensely to get this beast into physical form. YLVA, BØG and Roundtable will join us for the release show and were handpicked as we consider them to be some of the best genre bending bands in the local landscape.”

Thanks to Merchant, Bendigo Hotel and Snake Charmer Coalition for having The Obelisk on board as presenter. Goes without saying that if you find yourself in that part of the world, this one gets a hearty recommendation. Show info follows:

The Obelisk Presents: Merchant: Suzerain Release Show

With YLVA / BØG / Roundtable
June 25, 2016 – 8PM – 18+

Bendigo Hotel
125 Johnston Street
Collingwood, Victoria
Australia 3066

Tickets: $12

Merchant release show event page

Merchant on Thee Facebooks

Merchant on Bandcamp

Snake Charmer Coalition BigCartel store

Bendigo Hotel website

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Merchant Sign to Snake Charmer Coalition

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

June 25 is the set release date for Suzerain (review here), the debut album from Melbourne, Australia, psych-doomers Merchant. The album will be released on Snake Charmer Coalition, which expands its reach in a big way — you might say to the other side of the planet — after sticking primarily with US East Coast acts like King BisonCurse the Son, and the recently-snagged Shadow Witch. Does this mean the Delaware-based imprint is about to go on a multinational signing spree? Hell if I know, but it’s an excellent grab just the same.

If you didn’t hear Suzerain, you can at the review link above or on the stream below, and you’ll find it an encompassingly dark swirl of doom and sludge with some cosmic aspects that keep it from being completely barren. As Merchant‘s debut, its scope is almost as heavy as its tones, and while Melbourne isn’t short on crushing riffs these days, Merchant stood themselves out from the pack immediately and thoroughly. Apparently Snake Charmer Coalition was listening, so right on.

Kind of pieced the below together from various sources on the interwebs, but I think it should have all the info you need:

merchant

***NEW SIGNING ANNOUNCEMENT***

We would like to welcome Melbourne Australia’s very own psych-doom sludgers Merchant to the Snake Charmer Coalition family!!!

Formed in late 2014, Merchant have quickly cemented their place in the landscape of the feedback soaked heavy underground by pummeling venues with aggressive live rituals and crushing riffs.

Their highly acclaimed debut full-length album “Suzerain” will be available June 25th.

Recorded at Goatsound with Jason Fuller and mastered at Iridium Audio by Dav Byrne, the album presents as a 50 minute slab of psych drenched, churning sludge.

Says Merchant: “We’re excited to announce that we’ll be working with Snake Charmer Coalition to help us bring Suzerain to physical format. We’ve got a release show with a massive lineup booked so keep your eye out for that over the next few days.”

https://www.facebook.com/DOOMMERCHANT/
http://doommerchant.bandcamp.com/album/suzerain-2
https://www.facebook.com/SnakeCharmerCoalition/
snakecharmercoalition.bigcartel.com

Merchant, Suzerain (2016)

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Merchant, Suzerain: Seeds and Veins (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

merchant-suzerain

[Merchant release Suzerain on April 18. Click play above to stream the album in full.]

Proffering massive roll over four extended tracks, drenching itself in an encompassing bleakness and grand-scale semi-psych sludge extremity, Merchant‘s Suzerain impresses with a sense of vision underlying that few debuts can claim. A four-piece based in the crowded Melbourne, Australia, heavy scene, Merchant issued their first single, the 10-minute Seismic (review here), just last year, and Suzerain‘s four similarly-extended tracks affirm the potential that piece showed, while also expanding the band’s reach into YOB-style cosmic crush and menacingly abrasive growls, the first-names-only lineup of vocalist Mirgy, guitarist Ben, bassist/vocalist Wilson and drummer Nick coming together as a single, lurching unit, rawer than fellow Melbourne residents Whitehorse, but vibrant in a disaffection that wouldn’t be out of place alongside the heft of Horsehunter or Watchtower, despite having a danker atmosphere.

Though they get there anyhow, the tracks on Suzerain — “Seed and Soil” (8:51), “Mourning Light” (11:37), “Suzerain” (20:17) and “Black Vein” (8:59) — feel less concerned with conjuring tonal largesse than with making skin crawl, and as the opener thunders its way through its initial roll circling back for each verse line in a grueling nod, there doesn’t seem to be a goal set by the band that isn’t met by the time the chug opens up to dual-vocals and hits building to a head prior to the midsection. Ben introduces another element that will be in play across the record in the second half of “Seed and Soil,” which is the airy, psychedelic lead guitar cutting through all that crush, but in light of the aforementioned YOB and the likes of Ufomammut, one could hardly accuse it of being out of place, particularly as the solo shreds.

More accurately, playing space echoes off earthbound roll only deepens the complexity of what Merchant are able to do with their first album, and by expanding their sonic palette, they only further the potential they showed last year. When it starts following the raging finish of the opener, “Mourning Light” introduces itself with quiet but still tense guitar, drums joining after about a minute in and Mirgy‘s raw-throated rasp delivering the title line soon thereafter. A slow churn ensues that Nick‘s drums seem to be holding together amid the low-end wash of each riff. Again, we get a taste of psychedelic guitar early, but it’s brief, and Merchant soon dip back into the nod at the track’s core, the sheer density of it providing a gravity pull downward on the listener. It’s heavy, in nearly a physical sense. Past the midpoint, guitar and bass open up a bit, but it’s all leading toward a faster thrust at the apex of “Mourning Light,” an uptick in tempo leading, naturally, to a deconstructing slowdown that rounds out. One could quibble about which is actually the peak of the build, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter whether you’ve been hit in the head with a shovel or with a hammer — the result is the same.

merchant (Photo by Sally Townsend)

Of course, as it consumes 40 percent of Suzerain‘s 50-minute runtime, the title-track is a major focal point, and one which, further to the band’s credit, they execute fluidly across a purposefully overwhelming span, toying some with pacing early on, but only winding up more excruciating as Mirgy and Wilson again come together in layers of growing and the kick resumes circa the five-minute mark. The thud and roll that follows serves as the rumbling bed for a fuzzed-out lead from Ben, and at 7:53, a second layer of the solo joins in even more forward in the mix, the two coming together in a swirl that meets the lumbering head-on with its own scorch, such that as the verse resumes shortly before nine minutes in, the transition is jarring like a crash to the ground. This also is doubtless intentional. “Suzerain” stomps and crashes its way to its midsection on a gradual fade with the bass and drums remaining, joined soon by open-spaced guitar that seems to provide something Merchant haven’t yet offered: a moment of respite.

It’s brief. Before long, the band resume their full-weight course forward, uphill, in snow, dragging who knows what. But the effect of that quick break is important in the hypnotic element of it, lulling the listener into a false sense of security that’s soon to evaporate, as well as in showcasing Merchant‘s commitment to more than just heft and extreme vocals. Like the flourishes of melody throughout Suzerain and those which the lead guitar brings to the second half of the title-track, it’s another example of the four-piece working to distinguish themselves and establish a sonic personality of their own. They tease a faster progression, but ultimately keep “Suzerain” at its slow-grinding clip and bring it to a wash of noise from which the drums depart in the last minute to let the noise hold sway on a longer fade into the sudden crash of the intro to closer “Black Vein,” which Nick sets up as a faster thrust that maintains an angularity in kind with the opener before letting loose some of the pent-up tension in a more upbeat motion.

Playing back and forth in verses and choruses, they soon move into a post-halfway-point breakdown, vocal tradeoffs, china cymbal and all, and everything drops out save for the guitar, which resumes a chugging gallop before “Black Vein” hits its sixth minute. By then they’re bordering on thrash and it’s a wonder tones so thick can move at all, but though a big, final slowdown is somewhat telegraphed, that doesn’t make its arrival any less satisfying. Merchant hit the brakes and ride out “Black Vein” on a molasses lurch topped with a line of manipulated feedback that at last gives way to the oppressive final measure, faded out to close. It should say something that Merchant hold that aggression to the very last second of their debut, but it shouldn’t say that aggression is all the band has to offer. Suzerain might seem monolithic on an initial listen, but it’s not, and especially in light of it being Merchant‘s debut, it affords the band multiple avenues of growth going forward, even as it lands with all the apparent subtlety usually considered for giant rocks from outer space. Visceral at times, it nonetheless engages in how it conducts its own extremity.

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