Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Kind of an ICYMI here, in the parlance of our times, but good to note either way that next month, Philly’s Heavy Temple will hit the road alongside Rhode Island doomers Pilgrim. The latter seem poised to make something of a comeback this year after nearly grinding themselves into dust in support of their last full-length, 2014’s II: Void Worship (review here), and in joining them, Heavy Temple make their most significant leap into touring life yet. It’s an East Coast run, and they did hit the Midwest last fall, but 10 dates on the road is the longest I’ve seen from them to-date. Doubt it will be the last.
They of course go supporting the 2016/2017 release Chassit (review here), alternately billed as a debut full-length and a second EP (the latter below). I had thought I read of a parting of ways with guitarist Archbishop Barghest, but maybe I’m wrong about that or bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk and drummer Siren Tempestas are heading out as a duo? I’d be interested to know for sure either way.
To be perfectly honest, half my impulse in posting these dates a couple weeks after they were first announced is in making sure they’re here for future reference. Seems like the kind of thing I’ll want to have to look back on down the line.
From the PR wire:
Heavy Temple to tour with Pilgrim
Heavy psych/doom band HEAVY TEMPLE released their new EP Chassit on January 27th 2017. The EP was initially available on cassette and digital formats via Tridroid Records and CD is now available via Van Records.
Heavy Temple formed at the end of 2012 with High Priestess Nighthawk on bass and vocals and presently features Siren Tempestas on drums and Archbishop Barghest on guitar.
The band will also be playing some shows with doom heavyweights PILGRIM in March:
TOUR DATES: March 2nd The Fire, Philadelphia, PA March 3rd The Broadberry (With Windhand), Richmond, VA March 4th Pilgrim (With Subrosa) Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY March 4th Heavy Temple (With Toke) TBA, Winston, Salem NC March 5th Riffhouse Pub,, Chesapeake, VA March 6th Sidebar, Baltimore, MD March 7th Meatlocker, Montclair, NJ March 8th O’Briens, Boston MA March 9th Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY March 10th Bug Jar, Rochester, NY March 11th Geno’s, Portland, ME March 12th AS220, Providence, RI
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Brooklyn extremists Tombs have started work on their fourth album. Also their debut on Metal Blade after three outings for Relapse Records, the yet-untitled release is being tracked with Hate Eternal‘s Erik Rutan (who, because I’m from New Jersey, I’ll note was in Ripping Corpse) at Mana Recording in sunny St. Pete, Florida. The black ‘n’ roll ‘n’ more genremashers released their last full-length, Savage Gold (discussed here), in 2014, and have continued to support it steadily with shows and tours at home and abroad.
That thread, it seems, will continue despite the label jump. Tombs have announced what would seem to be a hey-we-just-finished-a-record tour for March alongside the very metal lineup of Darkest Hour, Ringworm and Rivers of Nihil, kicking off on the West Coast and making its way into the Midwest over two-plus weeks.
The PR wire had dates and more info to share:
Tombs enters studio to begin recording fourth full-length album; announces USA tour dates with Darkest Hour, Ringworm, Rivers of Nihil
Brooklyn-based experimental metal outfit Tombs has entered Mana Recording Studio (http://www.manarecording.com) in St. Petersburg, FL to begin recording their fourth full-length. Produced once again by Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal), this currently untitled album is set for a summer release via Metal Blade Records.
Guitarist/vocalist Mike Hill comments: “I’ve been gearing up for this moment for all of past year. Rutan is a master and I’m intending on us delivering the most punishing Tombs record to-date.”
After recording this upcoming album, Tombs will head back out on the road in March, joining Darkest Hour, Ringworm, and Rivers of Nihil for a USA tour. See below for all dates!
Tombs tour dates w/ Darkest Hour, Ringworm, Rivers of Nihil Mar. 5 – Portland, OR – Analog Theater Mar. 6 – Seattle, WA – Studio Seven Mar. 8 – San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge Mar. 9 – Sacramento, CA – Colonial Theater Mar. 10 – Los Angeles, CA – The Regent Mar. 11 – San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick Mar. 12 – Phoenix, AZ – Club Red Mar. 13 – Tucson, AZ – Club XS Mar. 14 – Albuquerque, NM – Blu Phoenix Venue Mar. 15 – Lubbock, TX – Backstage Lubbock Mar. 16 – Austin, TX – Grizzly Hall Mar. 17 – Houston, TX – White Oak Mar. 18 – San Antonio, TX – The Korova Mar. 19 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Bar and Grill Mar. 21 – Cincinnati, OH – Northside Yacht Club
Tombs line-up: Mike Hill – Guitar/Vocals Charlie Schmid – Drums Ben Brand – Bass Evan Void – Guitar Fade Kainer – Synth / Vocals
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Psycho Las Vegas 2017 announces its first headliner is King Diamond playing Abigail in its entirety. Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of what’s become one of the most essential heavy metal classics, and the band’s performance of it at Psycho will be a US exclusive show for 2017. If the fest has demonstrated a propensity for anything up to this point, it’s going big. One expects they’ll continue to do so as we move into 2017 and the next month brings two more headliners, more than 40 bands still to come, and the official poster art, which is sure to make an impression in its own right.
As the world settles into any number of holiday cliches this Xmas — for The Patient Mrs. and I, it was an annual Xmas Eve tradition of watching Die Hard; the ultimate holiday movie — Psycho Las Vegas 2017 offers one more reason to celebrate. The PR wire brought this just for you:
PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2017: King Diamond to Headline
Who said you got no presents for Christmas? Today, Psycho Las Vegas unveils King Diamond as the festival’s grand headliner. In coming to Psycho, King Diamond mark 30 years since the release of Abigail, and this will be King’s only USA performance of 2017!
With a career spanning more than 35 groundbreaking years, King Diamond’s namesake stands among the ultimate heavy metal icons. From landmark records with Mercyful Fate to establishing the band King Diamond in 1985 and unleashing the unholy trinity of Fatal Portrait (1986), Abigail (1987) and “Them” (1988) on the world, King Diamond’s vocals, atmosphere and songs have become the staple diet of multiple generations of headbangers.
Don’t miss your chance to see one of metal’s ultimate legends take the stage at the biggest underground fest the US has ever known when King Diamond plays Psycho Las Vegas 2017 in August at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino!
Additional headliners, full lineup & official festival artwork revealed Jan 2017.
– confirmed lineup – KING DIAMOND (Headliner / USA 2017 exclusive) MURDER CITY DEVILS NEUROSIS MULATU ASTATKE SWANS CARCASS WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM CRYSTAL FAIRY MAGMA CHELSEA WOLFE SLO BURN CULT OF LUNA WITH JULIE CHRISTMAS ABBATH SUMAC MYRKUR PELICAN WEEDEATER ZEAL & ARDOR SLOMATICS OATHBREAKER VHOL COUGH BLOOD CEREMONY INTER ARMA THE SKULL WINDHAND BUZZOVEN MINSK CODE ORANGE KHEMMIS GATECREEPER NORTH CULT LEADER SNAIL WIZARD RIFLE MERLIN FLOORIAN DOMKRAFT ELEPHANT TREE MORNE HOLLOW LEG SUMMONER
Psycho Las Vegas 2017 is set for Aug. 18-20 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Tickets are available athttps://www.vivapsycho.com
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Boston heavy rockers Gozu have signed to Metal Blade subsidiary Blacklight Media for the release of their next album. Just back from a European tour alongside Holy Grove, the four-piece are riding high from this year’s Revival (review here), which served as their debut on Ripple Music following two records through Small Stone, 2013’s The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) and 2010’s Locust Season (review here).
No doubt it was their on-stage ferocity that caught the attention of Blacklight Media‘s Chris Santos (also of the Food Network’s Chopped). Coupled with their penchant for heavy groove and soulful edge, it has stood Gozu out from the pack in the American heavy rock underground for more than half a decade, and on behalf of this site and myself, congratulations to the band. May they continue to get the credit they’re due.
Gozu are currently — like, today — writing a new album that they’ll begin recording next June with Dean Baltulonis at The Wild Arctic Studio in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where the bulk of Revival was also tracked. One assumes Benny Grotto at Mad Oak will have a hand in it as well. In addition to the Blacklight deal, they’ve also signed on with Brooklynlarry Management (Sick of it All, among others), and have plans in the works to return to Europe next Spring or Fall.
We’ll let the PR wire make it official, and I’ve also added some exclusive quotes from guitarists Doug Sherman and Marc Gaffney that you’ll find peppered in below.
Gozu signs worldwide deal with Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records
Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records is proud to announce the worldwide signing of Boston’s rock/metal outfit Gozu. Formed in 2010, the four-piece have released one EP and three full-lengths to-date, and are currently writing their fourth studio album, set for a 2017 release.
Marc Gaffney on signing:
“A chance to sign to a label of this realm and magnitude, does not usually happen, so, when Chris Santos told us he wanted to work with us after a show at Lucky 13 in Brooklyn, we were in s state of shock. The four of us are simply in awe that we will be working with Brian Slagel, I mean Metal Blade, talk about Rock Royalty, I think Brian has to be in the upper echelon of respected gentleman in the field.Now, to work with such an intelligent and genuine soul as Chris Santos, my coffee tasted a little better this morning and the sun shined a bit brighter. Thanks to everyone who has helped and on to a new chapter. Ciao!”
Including a former member of Warhorse, Gozu heave the rock, yet embody the soul on their past releases. Fronted by Marc Gaffney on vocals and guitar, Doug Sherman on guitar, Joe Grotto on bass, and Mike Hubbard on drums, the band’s sound is tailor-made for blasting out the car speakers via international radio airwaves.
Having already been aired on national television (USA) via MTV (‘Road Rules’, ‘Dudesons’, ‘Real World’), NBC, and NASCAR, Gozu aims to take their critical and commercial success to new heights on their upcoming debut for Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records, with worldwide touring to follow.
Douglas Sherman on signing:
“This is an amazing opportunity for Gozu to be a part of Blacklight Media / Metal Blade. To be actually be working with celebrity chef Chris Santos, who is extremely passionate about metal and successful with everything he touches, and the legendary Metal Blade CEO Brian Slagel is truly mindblowing. I’m looking forward to this new chapter in our career.”
Previously, the group shared the stage with the likes of Saint Vitus, Pallbearer, Lo Pan, Storm of Light, Helmet, Elder, Mos Generator, and Fu Manchu in the States, as well as Yob, Church of Misery and Kvelertak in Europe at Roadburn (Netherlands) and DesertFest Berlin (Germany). 2017 will surely see Gozu back on the road again, and at the forefront of the heavy rock and metal world.
Gozu comments: “We are extremely excited to be signed to Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records, started by celebrity Chef Chris Santos and partnered with legendary Metal Blade founder and CEO, Brian Slagel. The four members of Gozu couldn’t be happier. This is why we plug in every night.”
Stay tuned for more news coming soon!
Gozu is: Mike Hubbard- drums and percussion Joseph Grotto- bass and low end Douglas Sherman- lead guitar and sounds Marc Gaffney- guitar and vocals
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
If you’ve never seen Primordial live, it’s among the great pleasures that modern heavy metal has to offer. Alan Averill is among the most charismatic frontmen that whatever subgenre you want to put his band in has to offer, and when it comes to the long-running Dublin outfit’s first-ever live record, Gods to the Godless: Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015, I can’t help but wonder how the vigilant energy he brings to the stage will translate to a recorded reproduction. Not like you can hear him pumping his fist, putting his foot up on the monitor, or leading the band like they’re a military regiment coming over a hillside in some ancient battle against all that which sucks. Or maybe you can. Hence my interest.
The opening title-track, originally from 2000’s Spirit the Earth Aflame, is streaming now below, if you’d like to get a taste of what’s to come. Album is out Nov. 25 on Metal Blade.
Averill offered comment via the PR wire, which also brought forth the preorder link:
Primordial announces live album, ‘Gods To The Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015)’; launches title track online
Irish pagan metallers Primordial have announced the release of the first live album in the band’s history: Gods To The Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015), due out November 25th via Metal Blade Records. To hear the title track and pre-order Gods To The Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015) in various formats, please visit metalblade.com/primordial now!
Primordial’s A.A. Nemtheanga comments: “It might seem like an unusual move, a double live album. Especially within the scene we are from, but the live album was once a staple of most bands’ careers and something we all grew up with in our collection. Pouring over tour dates, gear information and killer live pics. Ok so it’s not ‘Live After Death’ but you can see the attraction and taste the romance involved, right? Fact is though we hadn’t planned it, it was basically a happy coincidence, the good people at Bang Your head who took such a risk booking us the first time on a more traditional old school rock festival had us back for the fourth time, gave us a proper headlining set length and happened to mention afterwards that they had a mobile recording device rigged up and ready to go. When we listened back to the tapes we found something we could work with and the idea took shape. If you love the band, you will know what to expect: blood, guts and passion – and believe us, the double vinyl will look beautiful! If we’ve been in your orbit, but you’ve never trained your sights on us properly, this might be a good place to start as the sound is massive, the old songs have some added muscle and the planets aligned to make ‘Gods to the Godless’ perhaps a great introduction to the band. From our side, it felt like something important to do, like taking advantage of an opportunity to make not only a standalone album in its own right, but also add something rich to the heritage and tapestry of metal that once hinged on the live album. The tradition reaches back into the 70s and 80s and we are proud to have our own small place in that pantheon! And for the record…not one single over dub. This is truly Live and Dangerous…”
Gods To The Godless (Live at Bang Your Head Festival Germany 2015) track-listing 1. Gods to the Godless (Live) 2. Babels Tower (Live) 3. Where Greater Men Have Fallen (Live) 4. No Grave Deep Enough (Live) 5. As Rome Burns (Live) 6. The Alchemists Head (Live) 7. Bloodied Yet Unbowed (Live) 8. The Coffin Ships (Live) 9. Heathen Tribes (Live) 10. Wield Lightning to Split the Sun (Live) 11. Empire Falls (Live)
If there’s another word for The Unreal Never Lived beyond ‘masterpiece,’ I don’t know what it is. From its opening rumble and softly-spoken delivery of the title in “Quantum Mystic” through the final ultra-plodding drums and throat-singing of the 21-minute “The Mental Tyrant,” YOB‘s fourth album is nothing short of a treasure, and it stands among records like Neurosis‘ genre-defining A Sun that Never Sets and Earth‘s Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method as one of the most pivotal heavy releases of the 2000s. Issued in ’05, it comprised four tracks — “Quantum Mystic,” “Grasping Air,” “Kosmos” and “The Mental Tyrant” — and within the context of YOB‘s prior output across 2002’s Elaborations of Carbon, 2003’s mega-essential Catharsis and 2004’s The Illusion of Motion, it was the realization that the band had been pushing toward all along: A sound both spacious and crushing, looking inward thematically as it sought wisdom from outside, unremittingly heavy and still somehow psychedelic in its overall affect. If Catharsis was the moment when YOB came into their own sonically — and I’ll gladly argue it was, despite the potential their debut showed before it — then The Unreal Never Lived was when they showed just how expansive that definition of “their own” could be.
It’s worth noting that, for several years, it was also their swansong. The last YOB record. The Eugene, Oregon, trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Isamu Sato and drummer Travis Foster toured sparingly to support The Unreal Never Lived. I recall they came east once to play Manhattan at a basement club called The Pyramid. It got to be 2AM and they still hadn’t gone on, and The Patient Mrs. had to be to work in five hours so we left. Then the band broke up. It was — and I say this without irony or exaggeration — a significant source of resentment in my relationship with my wife. Because I was never going to get to see YOB! They’d just put out their best record, hit the East Coast once and disbanded (it didn’t happen in that quick succession, but still). I saw Scheidt‘s post-YOB project, Middian, in Brooklyn, and that was cool, but that band too was short-lived. Of course, YOB was reactivated with Scheidt, Foster and bassist Aaron Rieseberg, and would go on to release 2009’s The Great Cessation (review here), 2011’s Atma (review here) and 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) — each outdoing the one before it, expanding on the blueprint that The Illusion of Motion and The Unreal Never Lived set forth, and each one my pick for album of the year in its year of release — and I’d get to see them multiple times over, including playing The Unreal Never Lived in full at Roadburn 2012 (review here), so all was forgiven. But those years I spent thinking I’d never get to witness the space-doom mastery of “Kosmos” live? Not easy. I’m not even joking.
For all that time, the disc never left my trusty CD wallet. It’s still there, though these days I’m probably more inclined to play it off my phone, where the digital version has also taken up permanent residence. As with the best of albums, it has not dulled with age but only grown more worthy of reverence in light of the developments in sound it’s led to and the influence it’s had on other acts, which is broad in scope and far-reaching in number. As YOB have progressed, they’ve kept playing with and expanding some of the forms that were presented as solidified for the first time throughout The Unreal Never Lived — the quiet opening of “The Mental Tyrant,” its shift into chaotic noise and the furious gallop of its apex, the unmitigated thrust of “Quantum Mystic,” the roll and crash of “Grasping Air,” etc. — so it seems fair to me to think of the album as a landmark even in a catalog of landmarks. If they had stayed broken up, if they’d never done anything else, it would’ve still be enough to forge a legacy. Fortunately, that legacy has only continued to grow over their subsequent three albums.
Well, tomorrow’s the day. The first-ever The Obelisk All-Dayer at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn (there is actually zero excuse if you haven’t bought a ticket yet), with Mars Red Sky, Death Alley, Snail, Kings Destroy, EYE, Funeral Horse, King Buffalo and Heavy Temple, plus Walter Roadburn and DJ Adzo for the aftershow. I don’t mind telling you I’m nervous as hell.
Advance ticket sales have been good — thank you if you’ve been a part of that — but still. It’s such a massive lineup, with so many variables. I hope everyone shows up. I hope the crowd has a good time, everybody’s chill, everybody gets into the spirit of the day, and so on. I just want it to be fun. Real, actual fun.
Today, nonetheless, is the calm before the storm. Yesterday evening, The Patient Mrs. picked up Walter Roadburn at the airport. I know Mars Red Sky made it over, and Death Alley as well. Snail are on the East Coast and Funeral Horse flew out yesterday from Texas. Everything’s coming together, and I’ve taken the day off from work to go to the beach in Connecticut, might do some record shopping, hit the farmers’ market and relax ahead of making the trip to Brooklyn tomorrow morning in time for a noon load-in. Like I say, I’m nervous, but also stoked.
I hope you can make it to the show, but even if not, I hope you have a great and safe weekend whatever you’re up to. I’ll be posting pics on the social medias over the weekend I’m sure, so keep an eye out, but will check back in on Monday with an update on how it all went down. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Brooklyn’s Tombs will release their next full-length, as yet untitled and unrecorded, through Metal Blade Records. The semi-blackened genremashers released their last album, Savage Gold (discussed here), in 2014 via Relapse Records, and before they get to the studio for the next one, they’ll head out in November on a round of US tour dates that will take them to the West Coast and a goodly portion of the way back, accompanied by Wolvhammer. Just about everything Tombs touch is massively acclaimed, but Savage Gold was their third outing through Relapse, so it seems entirely likely their contract was simply up and they wound up with a deal from Metal Blade. Really any label would be lucky to have them.
The PR wire brings news, tour dates, and some new video:
Tombs signs worldwide deal with Metal Blade Records; announces USA headlining tour with Wolvhammer; launches official YouTube channel with director’s cut and behind-the-scenes videos for “V”
Metal Blade Records is proud to announce the worldwide signing of Brooklyn-based experimental metal outfit Tombs! Blending bleak, post-punk minimalism with the ferocious attack of sludge and traditional black metal, Tombs has established themselves as an act that’s as committed to consistency as it is to growth, developing smoothly (but never predictably) over the course of their career, and earning a multitude of accolades along the way. In addition to their acclaimed releases, Tombs has also become revered for their captivating live shows, touring extensively with an array of artists such as Eyehategod, Pelican, Isis, Wolves In The Throne Room, The Secret, Ulcerate, and 1349, plus appearing at renowned festivals: Roskilde Festival in Denmark, Roadburn in The Netherlands, and Psycho California and Maryland Deathfest in the USA. Now, having joined Metal Blade’s roster, the quintet is poised to continue the momentum that’s been building since their formation in 2007.
Mike Hill (guitar/vocals) comments: “Metal Blade is a legendary label that has put out legendary records by legendary bands. It’s an honor to be part of the organization.”
Tombs will begin writing their fourth full-length and Metal Blade Records debut after their USA headlining tour this fall. Kicking off November 7th, the trek also features Wolvhammer as support. See below for all upcoming dates!
Tombs tour dates w/ Wolvhammer Nov. 7 – Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506 Nov. 8 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl Nov. 9 – New Orleans, LA – Siberia Nov. 10 – Houston, TX – Rudyards Nov. 11 – Austin, TX – Barracuda Nov. 12 – Dallas, TX – Three Links Nov. 13 – San Antonio, TX – Korova – downstairs Nov. 15 – Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad Nov. 16 – Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock Nov. 17 – Los Angeles, CA – Complex Nov. 18 – San Diego, CA – The Merrow Nov. 20 – San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge Nov. 22 – Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Bar – SLC Nov. 25 – Indianapolis, IN – Kumas Corner Nov. 26 – Dayton, OH – Rockstar Pro Arena
Tombs will be touring in support of their recently released All Empires Fall EP – a crushingly heavy record that confirms the band as one of the leaders of American – and international – black metal. For a preview of All Empires Fall, fans can visit the new Tombs official YouTube page, where director’s cut and behind-the-scenes videos for the album track, “V”, can be viewed: https://www.youtube.com/tombscult
Tombs line-up: Mike Hill – Guitar/Vocals Charlie Schmid – Drums Ben Brand – Bass Evan Void – Guitar Fade Kainer – Synth / Vocals
Well here we are. Standing on the precipice of a week of 50 reviews, looking out together at the geographic and sonic expanses that will be covered. I never know entirely what a given Quarterly Review is going to bring. Some have been smooth, some not. This one is being put together very little pre-production in terms of chasing down band links and that sort of thing, so I expect it’s going to be an adventure one way or another. I’ll keep you updated as we go as to my mental state and the deterioration thereof.
If you don’t know the drill, The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review is a week every three months in which I review 10 albums per day, Monday through Friday. Some of it was released in the prior three months, some of it is brand new, some of it probably isn’t out yet, some of it is probably older. It’s all relevant one way or another. I hope you find something you enjoy.
Quarterly Review #1-10:
Sourvein, Aquatic Occult
Looking at the makeup of Sourvein’s much-awaited fourth album, Aquatic Occult (on Metal Blade), it’s understandable why it might’ve taken five years to put together. Yes, they had splits out in between, as they do, but the band’s last full-length was 2011’s Black Fangs (review here), and though the 14-song/42-minute Aquatic Occult is manageable, with a host of interludes to carry the listener along its thick-toned, undulating waves, a swath of guest appearances no doubt played havoc with logistics. Fortunately, Sourvein’s figurehead, vocalist T-Roy Medlin, seems to thrive on chaos. Working with producer Mike Dean (C.O.C.), and a revolving-door lineup that here features Lou Gorra of Halfway to Gone, Medlin brazenly explores a more melodic dynamic than he ever has. It’s a rare band looking to experiment after 20 years, a rarer band still that pulls it off so well. There’s still some sludgy rasp and guest growling, but Sabbathian roll is the order of the day ultimately and Medlin’s homage to his home in Cape Fear, North Carolina, establishes a breadth unheard before from Sourvein that’s worthy of the years and obvious effort that went into its making.
Hamburg duo Mantar’s blend of thrash, sludge and blackened doom is brash, righteously punkish and thus far uncompromised in its malevolent intent. On their second album and Nuclear Blast debut, Ode to the Flame, songs like “Era Borealis” swagger as much as they sneer, the middle-finger-up arrogance becoming part of the appeal. “The Hint” offers some tinge of melody and “I Omen” some organ-laced atmospherics, but Mantar, who debuted in 2015 with the also fire-minded Death by Burning (review here) on Svart, carry their extremity forward like the next logical step of the same impulses that High on Fire once brought forth. Their tempo shifts, from blazing squibblies to outright lumbering, are pulled off with due fuckall, and the shouts from guitarist/vocalist Hanno and drummer/vocalist Erinc are spit forth in a manner near-indecipherable but still have no trouble getting their point across. Mantar are positioning themselves to be the kick in the ass that the underground needs. The next few years (and albums) will see how that pans out, but for now they have two scorchers under their collective belt.
There is a stylistic restlessness to stretches of Elevators to the Grateful Sky’s second record, Cape Yawn (on HeviSike), that becomes the uniting factor between the adrenaline-amped opening with “Ground” and “Bullet Words” and the later dream-surf Yawning Man-meets-sax unfurling of the title-track. The Palermo, Italy, outfit have stated their intention as capturing a blend of ‘90s alternative and modern heavy. Fair enough, but hearing that play out on the penultimate “Mountain Ship” in a mix of weighted riffing and laid back vocals giving way to shouts, it seems that to me that next time out, Elevators to the Grateful Sky should probably just start saying they sound like themselves, because they do. Granted, they’re pulling elements from familiar sources – Soundgarden, Kyuss, etc. – but in giving them new context, the four-piece are defining their sound as moving fluidly between the various styles, and that’s to be commended. The more you put into listening, the more you’ll get out of it.
Representing a 50 percent reunion of Burning Witch, the droning contemplations and hellish atmospherics of The Poisoned Glass’ Ritual Productions debut, 10 Swords, pique immediate interest. And bassist/percussionist/etc.-ist G. Stuart Dahlquist and vocalist/keyboardist Edgy 59 do not disappoint. With unspeakable patience, they execute six grueling and cinematic pieces that seem to find comfort in tortured expression and that feel claustrophobic even as they continue to expand outward and downward through “Plume Veil” and “Toil and Trouble” into the extended closing duo “Silent Vigil” – spoiler alert: not actually silent – and “Low Spirits,” which moves from minimalist stillness through far-back screams and into a wash of synth before its seven minutes are up, covering more ground in one track than some bands do in their entire career. Fair to say on the whole 10 Swords is an immersive listen, but the prevailing vibe is much less “diving in” than “being swallowed whole by some obscure medieval terror.” So, you know, watch out for that.
Los Angeles newcomers Spirit Collector make their debut with the self-released, three-song Owls to Athens EP, clear in its intent and brimming with airy, post-rock-derived guitar atmospherics. A particularly telling moment arrives with the Terence McKenna sample in centerpiece “Reclaim Your Mind,” which speaks of casting off the culture of celebrity worship for a richer human experience, but it’s in the extended closer “Theosophy” (7:57) that Spirit Collector find their footing someplace between a doomed plod and thoughtful psychedelia, picking up a chugging momentum as they push through toward the almost blackened finish, having come a surprising distance since their eponymous opener set the tone for expanse. An encouraging first offering if somewhat familiar superficially as instrumental heavy post-rock (think Explosions in the Sky, Russian Circles, Red Sparowes, etc.), and there’s nothing in Owls to Athens to make one think Spirit Collector can’t move forward and develop the experimental drive they begin to show here.
Vieh, the debut full-length from Colonge-based desert rocking foursome Phiasco, takes its name from the German word for “cattle.” The band owe some of their fuzz to Truckfighters and some of their psychedelic wash to Sungrazer, but the attitude in songs like “Ultimate Warrior” – comprised largely of riffs topped with an extended sample from the titular professional wrestler – and “Sunndown” is their own, as is the we’re-still-having-a-really-good-time-while-we-make-this-15-minute-song closer “Phisco” (sic), a highlight of the live-recorded full-length, which across its span is light on pretense and heavy on bounce. Cuts like “Old Town” and opener “Back to the Future” – hey, that’s a movie! – bring catchy hooks, and the uptempo “Erasing Rabbits with My Phaserlight” winds up as harmonized as goofed out, and thus is all the more engaging. There’s a certain amount of getting by on charm here, but Phiasco have a capable, varied songwriting process that’s given due fullness and clarity in these eight tracks.
Man, who gives a shit about anything else when Glaswegian five-piece The Cosmic Dead are enacting their hypnotic swirl? Their latest instrumental invitation to watch existence melt is called Rainbowhead and it arrives through Paradigms Recordings (CD) and Blackest Rainbow Records (LP) with four tracks that serve as the band’s first full-length since 2014’s EasterFaust, though they’ve had splits in between to keep a prolific rate of offerings fitting for their explorational heavy psych/space rock. The bulk of Rainbowhead is engagingly upbeat as side A plays out across “Human Sausage,” “Skye Burial” and the 13-minute “Inner C,” and side B’s 18-minute title-track follows suit as The Cosmic Dead seem to have found a similar niche between progressive rock and psych to that which Mammatus proffered on their most recent outing. It suits The Cosmic Dead, and they keep an improv vibe prevalent as ever, grasping the subconscious with trip-on-it lysergic pulsations.
Deeply textured and lush in its construction around guitar arrangements, percussive and keyboard-laden melodic flourish, Postures’ second full-length, Halucinda (on World in Sound), plays back and forth between prog and heavy rock impulses. The Gothenburg, Sweden, five-piece seem most at home in extended tracks like “Myriad Man,” “Every Room” and the jazzy 10-minute “Wavemaker,” but even the acoustic-led centerpiece interlude “A Million Sequences” invites the audience to turn up the volume for maximum wash effect. Paulina Nyström delivers a powerful, commanding and fluid vocal performance, and while the rhythm section of bassist Per Pettersson and drummer Isak Björhag are the foundation on which these complex structures play out – Viktor Andersson and Benjamin Watts handle guitar; Madeleine Sjögren is credited with backing vocals/keys and Margit Gyllspång percussion/backing vocals – there’s no angle from which Postures don’t come across rich and vital in their winding but well-plotted course, one song feeding fluidly to the next until the dreamy “In the Dark” rounds out with the emotional apex of the record.
What else to call a stoner band from Estonia? Estoner’s appeal, however, goes well beyond their moniker. The Tallinn-based outfit’s second album, Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis, arrives in a handmade hexagonal CD package, heat sealed, as well as with complete visual accompaniment on limited VHS and cassette via Golem Records. The music is no less relentlessly creative, running a gamut between prog, black metal, heavy rock, psychedelia, space rock and probably a few others in its seven-track course. A song like “Teleporteerumine” conjures darkened swirl and “Reptiloid” follows through with foreboding threat, but Estoner plunge even deeper as they go, proferring aesthetic reach that makes seemingly disparate elements work together fluidly on “Hüvasti, Kosmiline Monoliit” and the 10-minute closing title-track. Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis is to call it Svart-worthy, as its diverse means of engulfing the listener speak to a forward-thinking approach that one can only hope Estoner continue to develop.
Extra points to Swedish troupe The Black Explosion for opening their third album, the space-fuzzed out Atomic Zod War (on Metalville Records), with its longest track, the 13-minute “Paralyzed.” That song offers a languid voyage through uncharted jammy reaches, and that sets an open, laid back expectation that the rest of the album seems only too glad to build on, from the Nebula-via-Monster Magnet blown out vibes of “Ain’t Coming Home” to the semi-garage buzz of “Going Down,” a highlight groove that emphasizes the natural, raw tones at play leading into “Get My Mind Together” and the finisher “Devil Inside,” which brings the guitar of Chris Winter (also Dollhouse) forward with backing from bassist Simon Haraldsson and drummer Andreas Lindquist that feels born of the new West Coast tradition but is likely playing off of older impulses. But for its hey-look-it’s-tits cover art, the grit Atomic Zod War offers comes through organically and draws the listener in with its live feel and underlying boogie.