Torche Enter Studio to Record New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

It seemed like Miami’s Torche surprised a lot of people with their 2015 fourth album, Restarter (review here), and maybe confused some as well with a more complex emotional basis than they’d showed previously. That record took the manic energy that typified 2012’s Harmonicraft (review here) and the heft of 2008’s Meanderthal and kept some of both, but also expanded in order to encompass a broader range of expression on the whole. I thought it worked well, but going by the response I saw, others seemed confused by what they were doing and the changes the band had undergone.

All the more curious, then, to hear what Torche come up with for their fifth long-player, about which the first thing they mention is the “balance of new elements.” Does that mean they’re pitting different sides of the band’s sound against each other? Working in new modes of songwriting? New tones? It could be anything, I suppose. Restarter opened a lot of doors for them sonically to work in new directions. Only bummer is it looks like we have to wait until next year to find out how that’s manifest on the new album.

They’re in the studio now with guitarist Jonathan Nunez at the helm:

torche

TORCHE RECORDING RESTARTER FOLLOW-UP; ALBUM SLATED FOR 2019 RELEASE VIA RELAPSE RECORDS

Torche has entered the studio to record the band’s fifth full-length album, due in 2019 via Relapse Records.

“The new record has a great balance of new elements that have become a part of our sound over the last couple years, which is very exciting for us,” said the band in a joint statement. “We’re pushing classic signatures of our sonic identity, and bringing new vibes to the table. This time around there’s going to more dynamics while pushing our ‘wall of sound’ nature much further.”

Guitar player Jonathan Nunez is recording the release at Cabana East in Miami.

torchemusic.com
facebook.com/torcheofficial
instagram.com/torche_band
twitter.com/torcheband
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.twitter.com/RelapseRecords

Torche, Restarter (2015)

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Quarterly Review: The Sword, Mountain Tamer, Demon Head, Bushfire, Motherslug, Dove, Treedeon, Falun Gong, Spider Kitten, Greynbownes

Posted in Reviews on April 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Okay then. We got past the first day and I thought it went reasonably well. No casualties. Nobody’s brain melted from trying to find another word for “riffs” for the 19th time, so yeah, mark it a win. There’s a good spread of stuff in today’s batch — a little of this, a little of that — so hopefully somewhere in the mix you’re able to run into something you dig. Hell, I’ll say the same for myself as well. Come on, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

The Sword, Used Future

the sword used future

Now-veteran Austin heavy rockers The Sword have gotten a mixed response to the more progressive approach their recent work has taken, and I doubt Used Future (on Razor & Tie) is going to be any less polarizing, but its crisp 13 tracks/43 minutes are pulled off with professionalism. Yes, it has its self-indulgent aspects in “Sea of Green” or the earlier instrumental “The Wild Sky,” but The Sword have never done anything other than deliver accessible heavy rock and tour like hell, so while I get the mixed response, at this point I think the band has at very least earned a measure of respect for what they’ve accomplished as ambassadors of underground heavy. They wanna throw a little John Carpenter influence into “Nocturne?” Fine. They’re not hurting anybody. The unfortunate truth about The Sword is that neither polarized side is right. They’re not the end of heavy metal as we know it; some crude ironic take on what metal should be. And they’re not the greatest band of their generation. They have a good record deal. They write decent songs. Where’s the problem with that? I don’t hear it on Used Future.

The Sword on Thee Facebooks

Razor & Tie website

 

Mountain Tamer, Living in Vain Demo

mountain tamer Demo 2017

If it was Mountain Tamer’s intention to get listeners excited about the prospect of a second full-length from the Santa Cruz, CA three-piece, then the Living in Vain demo serves this purpose well. Their 2016 Argonauta Records self-titled debut (review here) expounded on the potential they originally showed with 2015’s Mtn Tmr demo (review here), and though it’s only two songs, Living in Vain would seem to do the same in building on the accomplishments of the album before it. The opening title-track is labeled “Living in Vain Pt. 1” and nestles easily into a mid-paced shuffle before shifting into psychedelic lead layering and a more jammed-out spirit, from which it returns in the last 30 seconds to hit into a more solidified ending riff, leading to the immediately slower “Wretched.” More spacious, more of a march, it plays into an instrumental hook and holds to its structure for its entire 5:40, ending with guitar on a quick fade. Obviously the intention with a release like this is to entice the listener with the prospect of the band’s next album. Living in Vain does that and more.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

 

Demon Head, The Resistance

demon head the resistance

Returning just about a year after issuing their second album, Thunder on the Fields (review here), Copenhagen-based proto-metallers Demon Head offer a new two-songer single titled The Resistance that at least to my ears speaks to the current political moment of populism opposing liberalism – as much at play in Europe as in the US, if not more so – and the fight for an open society. They present it as a six-plus-minute languid groove with flashes of militaristic snare; something of a turn from the cult rock of their two-to-date long-players. One could say the same of the sci-fi themed “Rivers of Mars,” though like its predecessor, it remains sonically on-point with the band’s vintage aesthetic, fostered through naturalist guitar and bass tones, bluesy, commanding vocals and classy, creative drumming. Actually, apply that “classy” all around. As Demon Head continue to come into their own sound, they do so with poise that’s all the more striking for how raw their presentation remains.

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records

 

Bushfire, When Darkness Comes

bushfire when darkness comes

When Darkness Comes is German heavy rocking five-piece Bushfire’s follow-up to late-2013’s Heal Thy Self (review here), and it retains the Darmstadt-based outfit’s penchant for quality riffcraft and a showcase for the vocals of frontman Bill Brown, which hit in bottom-of-the-mouth melodies and gruff shouts fitting to cuts like “The Conflict” and the swinging “Shelter.” Bushfire are no strangers to a semi-Southern element in their sound, and that remains true on When Darkness Comes from the opening title-track through the later “Another Man Down” and closer “Liberation.” Somewhat curiously, that closer is instrumental, and where the vocals play such a role in the overarching impression the record makes, it’s an interesting twist to have them absent from the final statement, leaving guitarists Marcus Bischoff and Miguel Pereira, bassist Vince and drummer Sascha to finish out on their own. If groove is the measure, they’re certainly up to the task, but then, that was never really in doubt.

Bushfire on Thee Facebooks

Bushfire on Bandcamp

 

Motherslug, The Electric Dunes of Titan

motherslug the electric dunes of titan

I’m sorry. I don’t see how you could dig anything calling itself “stoner” and not be down with what Motherslug are doing with their second long-player, The Electric Dunes of Titan. Plus-sized riffing all over the place, languid rollouts, excursions into psychedelic splendor (see “Followers of the Sun,” etc.), explosions into massive groove (see “Staring at the Sun”), a nod to High on Fire in “Tied to the Mast” and a Sleep-style march on closer “Cave of the Last God” that’s probably the best I’ve heard since the Creedsmen Arise demo in 2015. Really, if Motherslug doesn’t do it for you, nothing will. Five years after they initially released their self-titled EP (review here), which was later expanded into their debut album for NoSlip Records (review here), the Melbourne outfit charge back with what should be a litmus test for riff-heads. In all seriousness, from tone to structure to songwriting to production to the cover art, there’s just nothing here that doesn’t deliver the message. Should’ve been on my best of 2017 list.

Motherslug on Thee Facebooks

Motherslug on Bandcamp

 

Dove, Dove Discography

dove discography

In the wake of Floor’s disbanding, drummer Henry Wilson formed Dove. They were around for about five years, did some touring (one remembers picking up their self-titled in a Manhattan basement with $2 Rolling Rocks calling itself The Pyramid), and disbanded to a cult status not so different from that which Floor enjoyed prior to their own reunion, if to something of a lesser degree. As the title indicates, Dove Discography compiles “every listenable track” the band ever put out, including their self-titled, Wilson’s original demo for the project, compilation and 7” material. All told, it’s 20 tracks and just under an hour of documentation for who Dove were and the kind of punk metal they were about, never quite stoner, but heavy rock to be sure, and definitely of the Floridian ilk that produced both Floor and Cavity and a style Wilson has progressed with House of Lightning. Dove could be blazingly intense or they could plod out a huge riff, holding a deceptively wide purview that was only part of the reason they were so underrated at the time.

Dove on Bandcamp

House of Lightning on Thee Facebooks

 

Treedeon, Under the Manchineel

treedeon under the manchineel

To anyone who might complain that all sludge sounds the same, I humbly submit Treedeon, whose second album for Exile on Mainstream, Under the Manchineel, is a work both noise-laden and righteously avant garde. Perhaps even more ferocious than its 2015 predecessor, Lowest Level Reincarnation (review here), the seven-track/44-minute outing offers a touch of melody in “Breathing a Vein” and buried deep in the midsection of 16-minute closer “Wasicu,” and arguably in guitarist Arne Heesch’s delivery in opener “Cheetoh” as well, but he and bassist Yvonne Ducksworth mostly keep to harsh shouts as they create consuming washes of noise over the madcap drumwork of newcomer Andy Schuenemann, who punctuates every punch of Ducksworth’s gotta-hear-it bass tone on album centerpiece “No Hell” as Heesch goes lands the chorus with the line “No hell can hold me” as its standout line. Bringing a sense of themselves to an established style to a degree that’s rare, rarer, rarest, Treedeon are no less aggressively weird than they are aggressive, period.

Treedeon on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream website

 

Falun Gong, Figure 1

Falun Gong Figure 1

There are some post-Electric Wizard shades that emerge in the debut single from London’s Falun Gong by the time it reaches its feedback-soaked finale, but really, “Figure 1” is much more about digging into its own cultistry than that of the Obornian sort. Still, the overarching impression is somewhat familiar, and will be particularly to those who were fans of The Wounded Kings, but the duo who remain anonymous present themselves with a clearheaded intent toward maximum sonic murk, and with the lumbering misery they trod out in “Figure 1,” they seem to achieve what they’re going for. I don’t know who they are, but I’d guess this isn’t their first band, and as crowded as London’s heavy underground has become over the course of this decade, acts like Falun Gong are fewer and farther between than some others, and during these 10 minutes, they make a striking first impression. One hopes for “Figure 2” sooner rather than later.

Falun Gong on Bandcamp

 

Spider Kitten, Concise and Sinister

http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/spider-kitten-concise-and-sinister.jpg

Intended as a thematic continuation to some degree of 2016’s Ark of Oktofelis, the four-song Concise and Sinister finds long-running multi-genre UK outfit Spider Kitten bookending two extended crushers around two shorter pieces, one of which is a cover of Hank Williams’ “Alone and Forsaken” (also memorably done by 16 Horsepower) and the other of which is a noise-punk assault that lasts 46 seconds and is called “I’m Feeling So Much Better.” Whether fast or slow, loud or quiet, the intention of Spider Kitten doesn’t seem even at its most abrasive to be to punish so much as to challenge, and whether it’s the cinematic elements dug into the march of opener and longest track (immediate points) “A Glorious Retreat” (11:33) or the harmonies that accompany especially-doomed 10-minute closer “Martyr’s Breath,” Spider Kitten and founder Chi Lameo demonstrate a creativity acknowledging that bounds exist and then simply refusing to accept them, making even the familiar seem unfamiliar in the process.

Spider Kitten on Thee Facebooks

Spider Kitten on Bandcamp

 

Greynbownes, Grey Rainbow from Bones

greynbownes grey rainbow from bones

Comprised of guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Lukas, bassist Martin and drummer Jakub, Greynbownes hail from Moravia in the Czech Republic and the moniker-explaining Grey Rainbow from Bones is their self-issued debut full-length. It is comprised of nine tracks of inventive heavy rock, pulling elements from grunge and ‘90s-era stoner noise on cuts like “Across the Bones” while veering into fare more aggressive, or psychedelic or jammy in the trio of six-minute tracks “Seasons,” “Death of Autumn Leaves” and “B 612” that precedes the closing duo of the funky “Sitting at the Top” and the mellow-but-still-heavy finisher “Weight of Sky,” which feels far removed from the opening salvo of “Boat of Fools,” the fuzz-punker “Madness” and the fuckall-chug of “What is at Stake.” Yes, it’s all over the place, and one might expect Greynbownes’ sound to solidify over time, but to the trio’s credit, Grey Rainbow from Bones never flies apart in the way that it seems at multiple points it might, and that’s an encouraging sign.

Greynbownes on Thee Facebooks

Greynbownes on Bandcamp

 

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

Posted in Features on December 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 short releases

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 2017 to that, please do.

This is the hardest list to put together, no question. Don’t get me wrong, I put way too much thought into all of them, but this one is damn near impossible to keep up with. Every digital single, every demo, every EP, every 7″, 10″ one-sided 12″, whatever it is. There’s just too much. I’m not going to claim to have heard everything. Hell, that’s what the comments are for. Let me know what I missed. Invariably, something.

So while the headers might look similar, assuming I can ever remember which fonts I use from one to the next, this list has a much different personality than, say, the one that went up earlier this week with the top 20 debuts of 2017. Not that I heard everyone’s first record either, but we’re talking relative ratios here. The bottom line is please just understand I’ve done my best to hear as much as possible. I’m only one person, and there are only so many hours in the day. Eventually your brain turns into riffy mush.

With that caveat out of the way, I’m happy to present the following roundup of some of what I thought were 2017’s best short releases. That’s EPs, singles, demos, splits — pretty much anything that wasn’t a full-length album, and maybe one or two things that were right on the border of being one. As between genres, the lines are blurry these days. That’s part of what makes it fun.

Okay, enough dawdling. Here we go:

lo-pan-in-tensions

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

1. Lo-Pan, In Tensions
2. Godhunter, Codex Narco
3. Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead
4. Shroud Eater, Three Curses
5. Stubb, Burning Moon
6. Canyon, Canyon
7. Solace, Bird of Ill Omen
8. Kings Destroy, None More
9. Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam
10. Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme
11. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
12. Rope Trick, Red Tape
13. Eternal Black, Live at WFMU
14. IAH, IAH
15. Bong Wish, Bong Wish EP
16. Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie Demo
17. Hollow Leg, Murder
18. Mars Red Sky, Myramyd
19. Avon, Six Wheeled Action Man Tank 7″
20. Wretch, Bastards Born

Honorable Mention

Across Tundras, Blood for the Sun / Hearts for the Rain
The Discussion, Tour EP
Fungus Hill, Creatures
Switchblade Jesus & Fuzz Evil, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven
The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny
Test Meat, Demo
Blood Mist, Blood Mist
Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell
Dautha, Den Foerste
Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti
Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2
Decasia, The Lord is Gone
Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

I can’t imagine I won’t add a name or two or five to this section over the next few days as I think of other things and people remind me of stuff and so on, so keep an eye out, but the point is there’s way more than just what made the top 20. That Across Tundras single would probably be on the list proper just on principle, but I heard it like a week ago and it doesn’t seem fair. Speaking of unfair, The Discussion, Howling Giant, The Grand Astoria and the Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore split all deserve numbered placement easily. I might have to make this a top 30 in 2018, just to assuage my own guilt at not being able to include everything I want to include. For now though, yeah, this is just the tip of the doomberg.

Notes

To be totally honest with you, that Lo-Pan EP came out Jan. 13 and pretty much had the year wrapped up in my head from that point on. It was going to be hard for anything to top In Tensions, and the Godhunter swansong EP came close for the sense of stylistic adventurousness it wrought alone, and ditto that for Year of the Cobra’s bold aesthetic expansions on Burn Your Dead and Shroud Eater’s droning Three Cvrses, but every time I heard Jeff Martin singing “Pathfinder,” I knew it was Lo-Pan’s year and all doubt left my mind. Of course, for the Ohio four-piece, In Tensions is something of a one-off with the departure already of guitarist Adrian Zambrano, but I still have high hopes for their next record. It would be hard not to.

The top five is rounded out by Stubb’s extended jam/single “Burning Moon,” which was a spacey delight and new ground for them to cover. The self-titled debut EP from Philly psych rockers Canyon, which they’ve already followed up, is next. I haven’t had the chance to hear the new one yet, but Canyon hit a sweet spot of psychedelia and heavy garage that made me look forward to how they might develop, so I’ll get there sooner or later. Solace’s return was nothing to balk at with their cassingle “Bird of Ill Omen” and the Sabbath cover with which they paired it, and though Kings Destroy weirded out suitably on the 14-minute single-song EP None More, I hear even greater departures are in store with their impending fourth LP, currently in progress.

A couple former bandmates of mine feature in Tarpit Boogie in guitarist George Pierro and bassist John Eager, and both are top dudes to be sure, but even if we didn’t have that history, it would be hard to ignore the tonal statement they made on their Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam EP. If you didn’t hear it, go chase it down on Bandcamp. Speaking of statements, Supersonic Blues’ Supersonic Blues Theme 7″ was a hell of an opening salvo of classic boogie that I considered to be one of the most potential-laden offerings of the year. Really. Such warmth to their sound, but still brimming with energy in the most encouraging of ways. Another one that has to be heard to be believed.

The dudes are hardly newcomers, but Grief offshoot Come to Grief sounded pretty fresh — and raw — on their The Worst of Times EP, and the Massachusetts extremists check in right ahead of fellow New Englangers Rope Trick, who are an offshoot themselves of drone experimentalists Queen Elephantine. Red Tape was a demo in the demo tradition, and pretty formative sounding, but seemed to give them plenty of ground on which to develop their aesthetic going forward, and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that.

Eternal Black gave a much-appreciated preview of their Bleed the Days debut long-player with Live at WFMU and earned bonus points for recording it at my favorite radio station, while Argentine trio IAH probably went under a lot of people’s radar with their self-titled EP but sent a fervent reminder that that country’s heavy scene is as vibrant as ever. Boston-based psych/indie folk outfit Bong Wish were just the right combination of strange, melodic and acid-washed to keep me coming back to their self-titled EP on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, and as Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass debuted his new project Rattlesnake with the Outlaw Boogie demo, the consistency of his songcraft continued to deliver a classic feel. Another one to watch out for going into the New Year.

I wasn’t sure if it was fair to include Hollow Leg’s Murder or not since it wound up getting paired with a special release of their latest album, but figured screw it, dudes do good work and no one’s likely to yell about their inclusion here. If you want to quibble, shoot me a comment and quibble away. Mars Red Sky only released Myramyd on vinyl — no CD, no digital — and I never got one, but heard a private stream at one point and dug that enough to include them here anyway. They remain perennial favorites.

Avon, who have a new record out early in 2018 on Heavy Psych Sounds, delivered one of the year’s catchiest tracks with the “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” single. I feel like I’ve had that song stuck in my head for the last two months, mostly because I have. And Wretch may or may not be defunct at this point — I saw word that drummer Chris Gordon was leaving the band but post that seems to have disappeared now, so the situation may be in flux — but their three-songer Bastards Born EP was a welcome arrival either way. They round out the top 20 because, well, doom. Would be awesome to get another LP out of them, but we’ll see I guess.

One hopes that nothing too egregious was left off, but one again, if there’s something you feel like should be here that isn’t, please consider the invitation to leave a comment open and let me know about it. Hell, you know what? Give me your favorites either way, whether you agree with this list or not. It’s list season, do it up. I know there’s the Year-End Poll going, and you should definitely contribute to that if you haven’t, but what was your favorite EP of the year? The top five? Top 10? I’m genuinely curious. Let’s talk about it.

Whether you have a pick or not (and I hope you do), thanks as always for reading. May the assault of short releases continue unabated in 2018 and beyond.

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Live Review: Shroud Eater, Eternal Black and Begotten in Brooklyn, 09.05.17

Posted in Reviews on September 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

shroud eater photo jj koczan

You ever have one of those bands you just can’t seem to see? I’ll try not to bore you with the barrage of internal links, but I’ve been writing about Miami’s Shroud Eater for eight years since their demo (review here) arrived on my doorstep in 2009, and yet, at every opportunity when I’d otherwise see them, something has come up, the show has been canceled, I’ve moved out of the state, whatever it might be — point is it’s always been something. Well not this time, god damn it. This time I was going to finally see Shroud Eater.

The good news is it worked out. The Floridian three-piece hit Brooklyn’s venerated Saint Vitus Bar with support from reformed riffers Begotten and the doomly Eternal Black for a Tuesday night lineup that had no dip front to back. The bad news? Pretty much the only reason I was able to be there was because I was on my way to New Jersey for my grandmother’s funeral later in the week. Further bad news? Shroud Eater canceled the rest of their tour and were turning back south after this show in order to prepare for Hurricane Irma, which had already been called the strongest storm ever seen in the Atlantic Ocean, begotten-Photo-JJ-Koczanto make landfall in their peninsular homeland.

Even with these things hanging overhead, though, the most was made of the night and I can’t speak for anyone else, but from where I stood the show was killer. Begotten were onstage when I walked in, guitarist/vocalist Matthew Anselmo immediately placing himself in the running for the title of “most New York dude ever” as he led the band through a soundcheck and asked afterward if that wasn’t the start of the set. Bassist/vocalist Amanda Topaz and drummer Rob Sefcik (the latter also of Kings Destroy) confirmed that, indeed, the show wasn’t yet starting, the sound guy told everyone to hit the bar for a couple minutes, and all seemed more than happy to oblige.

When they did get started with the show proper, Begotten‘s post-Sleep lumbering came through with due thickness, Topaz‘s Sunn amp sitting precariously atop her bass cabinet while Anselmo‘s Marshall JCM 2000 stood like a totem at the head of a full stack. This was only the second show Begotten have played since reuniting, begotten-2-Photo-JJ-Koczanand they did four songs in the set, among them “Apache,” which was among the lost tracks that premiered here last October to mark their getting back together, and “Judges,” which was the opener of their 2002 self-titled debut, released by Man’s Ruin Records. They actually had that disc for sale, as well as an original Frank Kozik poster for the release in metallic ink that was nothing short of stunning to behold, but the highlight was that they also played a new song, giving a clear signal that they’ll move ahead toward the creation hopefully of a second long-player.

After 15 years since the debut, I don’t think anyone will be in a rush to put a timeline on that, but it was welcome news all the same. When they were done, Eternal Black took the stage quickly, sharing drum gear — guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob noted the Kings Destroy kickdrum head on the kit through which drummer/best-guy-ever Joe Wood was playing, eliciting a chuckle from all, including bassist Hal Miller — and set about rolling forth their likewise dense-toned doomer grooves. Their self-released debut, Bleed the Days (review here), came out Aug. 8 and was still pretty fresh in mind, and their straightforward and roughed-upeternal-black-photo-jj-koczan take on classic, traditionalist riff-led doom was no less welcome from the stage than from that disc. If anything, more so for the voluminous onslaught through which the persistent roll seemed to emanate.

I dug that record — I dig that record. A lot. And granted, I’m biased as regards the band because of my overarching love of Joe Wood (who really is the best guy ever; it’s like his thing) and because I find the gritty edge they bring to Maryland-esque doomery speaks to a particularly Northeastern, particularly New York intensity that always seems to remind me of home. Music like Eternal Black‘s has to come from someplace crowded. Population density is a factor, and I don’t think you could produce a song like the downtrodden “Sea of Graves” without it. One way or another, Bleed the Days is easily among the best doom offerings I’ve heard in 2017, first album or not, and the three-piece made it clear at the Vitus Bar as they had when I saw them at Maryland Doom Fest last year (review here) that the process of their coming together as a band is still veryeternal-black-photo-jj-koczan much at its beginning stages. That is to say, they killed and they sound like they’re only going to keep getting better.

And then my brain finally got to process Shroud Eater live. I’ve had bands-I-should’ve-already-seen out the wazoo over the years, but few have had the kind of consistent stretch of Shroud Eater. Yet, as I stood in front of the Saint Vitus Bar stage and tried my best to snap photos of them in the drawn-down lighting, I couldn’t help but feel like it was somehow serendipitous to catch the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Jean Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and drummer Davin Sosa in support of 2017’s Strike the Sun (review here). Released through STB Records — whose honcho, Steve, was also on-hand for the show and someone else I was long overdue to meet in-person — the second Shroud Eater full-length is hands down the band’s best work yet, and though it was shroud-eater-photo-jj-koczanobvious in talking to them that concerns of family back in Florida and the impending potential for storm destruction were weighing heavily on them, let alone the general bummer of having to cancel shows in the first place, they were nonetheless devastating onstage.

A performance that galloped and slammed and crashed and careened and lumbered and did all that stuff that means it basically kicked the living shit out of the room, Shroud Eater‘s set came through with density to match either of the acts that preceded them and a sense of motion that was all their own. Songs like “Awaken Assassin” from the new record and the furious 2015 single “Face the Master” (video premiere here) brought forth groove and pummel in kind, and with samples between various tracks, traded vocal parts from SaizValentine and Sosa, and an overarching intensity that came through even the most atmospheric of stretches, Shroud Eater made me so fucking happy I was finally getting to see them that I’m not sure I can shroud-eater-photo-jj-koczanhonestly say I’d trade having done so at any point in the last eight years for the experience of watching them play this set. That’s as sincere as I can be about it.

So — clearly not a night for critical impartiality. From feeling lucky to see Begotten on their second show back to having Eternal Black in the middle as the icing on an evening the cake of which just happened to be a long, long, long-awaited Shroud Eater set bludgeoning my consciousness, what the proceedings might’ve lacked in my emotional distance from them, they more than made up for in my raw enjoyment — which, if it’s going to be one or the other, I’ll take. When Shroud Eater were done, I’m fucking proud to say I was the first person to shout for one more song and even prouder to say they played it, and as I stood among friends in the crowd like Kings Destroy vocalist Steve Murphy and guitarist Carl PorcaroClamfight drummer/shroud-eater-photo-jj-koczanvocalist Andy MartinDave from Made in Brooklyn SilkscreenersSteve from STB Records and others, I was reminded of how special some nights can become when the planets finally align just so in order to make them happen.

The rest of the week? We’ll see how it goes for things like familial grief and category five storms — I wished Shroud Eater safe home and safe afterwards; spent the last eight dollars I had to my name on a copy of their Three Curses and Strike the Sun tapes (wanted the CD but didn’t have the requisite $10 and wasn’t about to be like, “Hey you need to buy bottled water for survival this week, can I get a free disc?”) — but this one was restorative on just about every level possible and a show I hope not to forget anytime soon.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Read more »

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Shroud Eater Announce East Coast Tour Dates; Strike the Sun out Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

shroud eater

Beginning on Sept. 2, Miami trio Shroud Eater will head out on an East Coast tour supporting their new album, Strike the Sun (review here). Booked by Midnite Collective, it’s a week-long stint to herald the arrival of the STB Records release back in July, and if you’ve yet to check out the record, you can hear in the stream at the bottom of this post that it’s a cause well worth supporting. Some six years-plus after the atmospheric sludge three-piece offered up their debut, ThunderNoise (review here), Strike the Sun benefits from all of the experimentation they’ve taken on since in a bevvy of shorter releases, singles, EPs, splits and so on.

It shames me to say that I’ve been writing about this band since their 2009 demo and I’ve still never seen them live. They’re not coming north of the Wall this time around (the Wall, if you’re wondering, is just on the other side of Providence, Rhode Island on I-95 North; everything above that is officially wildling territory), but given how right on Strike the Sun is, I feel pretty comfortable recommending you check them out anyway should you be able to do so.

Dates follow as culled from the social medias:

shroud eater tour

Shroud Eater Pilgrimage Nor’East

First stop of our northeastern pilgrimage is at The Jinx 912 in Savannah for Statts Pre-Game and Punk Rock Garage Sale, where we’ll be joining ROYAL THUNDER, Black Tusk, The Gumps, Reconsiler and more!

Thanks to the Wizards at @midniteclv for their incredible effort booking this tour for us… we are hitting the eastern coast in support of STRIKE THE SUN – hope to see y’all out there.

Saturday September 2
The Jinx, Savannah, GA

Sunday September 3
Test Pattern, Winston-Salem, NC

Monday September 4
Ottobar, Baltimore, MD

Tuesday September 5
St Vitus, Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday September 6
KungFu Necktie, Philadelphia, PA

Thursday September 7
McCormacks Irish Pub, Richmond, VA

Friday September 8
Harbor Tavern, Jacksonville, FL

Saturday September 9
The Brass Mug, Tampa, FL

Shroud Eater is:
Jean Saiz – guitar/vocals
Janette Valentine – bass/vocals
Davin Sosa – drums/vocals

https://www.facebook.com/shroudeater/
http://www.shroudeater.bandcamp.com/
http://stbrecords.bigcartel.com
http://www.facebook.com/STB-Records-471228012921184
https://stbrecords.bandcamp.com

Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun (2017)

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Review & Track Premiere: Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

shroud-eater-strike-the-sun

[Click play above to stream ‘Awaken Assassin’ from Shroud Eater’s Strike the Sun. Album is out July 7 via STB Records.]

Check your calendar. It’s been a whopping six years — actually more like six and a half — since Miami sludge machine Shroud Eater released their debut full-length, ThunderNoise (review here). They’ve hardly been idle in the half-decade-plus since then; the three-piece have churned out a slew of shorter releases, from the 2013 Dead Ends EP (review here) that began to give some context to the band’s stylistic expansion from the raw foundation of their initial demo (review here) in 2009 that took place on ThunderNoise and would continue through 2015’s Face the Master single (video premiere here), 2016’s split EP with post-metallers Dead Hands (review here) or earlier 2017’s :th:ree: :cvrses: digital single, which found the trio of guitarist/vocalist Jean Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and drummer/vocalist/engineer Davin Sosa at their most experimental to-date, adding synth to a deeply atmospheric, cinematic but still noise-laden and extremely dark approach.

The stylistic reach Shroud Eater claimed as theirs across these offerings — some just one song long — and from their time spent touring and playing events like Psycho Las Vegas has made it increasingly difficult to predict where their awaited second full-length and STB Records debut, Strike the Sun, might lead them, and across 42 minutes/eight tracks, the band accordingly showcase six busy years’ worth of sonic lesson-learning. They still occasionally veer into the post-High on Fire gallop that typified their early work on a song like the penultimate “Unseen Hand” or parts of finale “Futile Exile,” but on the whole, they offer something much broader, more varied in tempo and mood, and more satisfying than anything they’ve done before.

As each of their outings to this point has brought something new to their approach, Strike the Sun does so as well, and in addition, offers an engaging summary of their evolution over the last eight years. Also worth noting, it is spell-out-the-letters h-e-a-v-y. One might find a tonal comparison point in Conan‘s more recent output for the kind of rumble Shroud Eater bring to “Iron Mountain” early on Strike the Sun or side B’s rolling “It Walks Among,” but even this is only a fraction of the whole when it comes to the complete, dark-hued narrative they’re conveying. The album breaks neatly in half for a two-sided feel, and each begins with an atmospheric intro — the washing drone of “Smokeless Fire” leads off, while “Dream Flesh” starts side B; both are infused with vague, melodic vocals — before digging into three tracks of pummel, drive, roll and nod. Whether it’s the landmark hook that “Awaken Assassin” provides in following “Iron Mountain” or the turn from wah-bass-infused stomp into ambient melodicism on “It Walks Among” — which of course is a setup for that track’s lumbering finale — Shroud Eater‘s dynamic has never sounded more alive.

Creative variety and arrangements of vocals between SaizValentine and Sosa give “Futile Exile” a growing aggression and “Iron Mountain” or the earlier stretch of “It Walks Among” a spacious, shouting echo, but the harmonies in “Awaken Assassin” are not at all out of place in either theory or execution. And neither are they less effective in conveying a mood than some of Strike the Sun‘s more destructive moments in the midsection of “Iron Mountain,” the apex of “Futile Exile” or the whole of “Unseen Hand” are in eliciting a physical listener response, be it fist pumping, headbanging, or some other signal of the righteousness on display. The bottom line is that Shroud Eater bring forth a multi-tiered triumph across the span of Strike the Sun, marked by an impeccable sense of craft, strength through diversity of approach and a cohesive vision of what they want to accomplish as a group. Any concerns of a six-year-later sophomore slump should be duly allayed.

shroud eater

That is, I’ll allow, a fan’s perspective on what Shroud Eater have done here, and there will invariably be those for whom Strike the Sun is their first exposure to the band. On that level, flourish like the subdued tension in “Smokeless Fire” and “Dream Flesh,” or the samples that top the noisy instrumental side A closer “Another Skin” seems all the more to bolster the impression of the record as a singular entirety. As SaizValentine and Sosa careen and crash through “Iron Mountain” and “Awaken Assassin,” the subsequent pairing of “Another Skin” and “Dream Flesh” — when listening in a linear format; digital or CD — emphasizes a between-songs flow with which full-lengths so outwardly heavy rarely concern themselves.

Likewise, as “It Walks Among” revives the full tectonic doom of their assault, it remains informed by the ambient stretch before it, and the material as a whole plays off itself in this way, giving Strike the Sun all the more a sense of consciousness behind its motivations that winds up summarized in “Futile Exile,” which in addition to being the finale is also the longest track at 7:20. Starting with a swell of volume and thundering crashes, it turns to nod and thrust early before finding a tension of toms as it heads to a more angular midsection, eventually dropping out to quiet in the second half and introducing melodic singing over thudding drums in setting up the crescendo that starts around 6:30 and will finish the record with a cold stop. A little bit of everything and a last warning from the band in that sudden end that they haven’t necessarily had their final word. So be it.

Up to this point, everything Shroud Eater has done has felt loaded with potential. All along, they’ve been a group headed somewhere on the level of individual aesthetic. More than anything before it, Strike the Sun comes across as the destination to which their progression has been leading. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re done growing as artists — I don’t think they are, and nothing in these tracks indicates a readiness to stagnate — but there’s pivotal work being done here to establish what Shroud Eater‘s sound is, both to the band itself and to their audience, and in conveying that, Strike the Sun succeeds in a way that more than justifies the years in its arrival. Feeling greedy, one hopes it’s not so long before a third long-player surfaces, but if it is, at least we know their commitment to developing as artists is unflinching.

Shroud Eater on Thee Facebooks

Shroud Eater on Bandcamp

Shroud Eater’s website

STB Records webstore

STB Records on Thee Facebooks

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Holly Hunt to Release The Wait / Bowling Green May 18; East Coast Tour this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

holly-hunt-Photo-Credit-Walter-Wlodarczyk

I can only think of one kind of person who wouldn’t be excited at the prospect of new material forthcoming from Miami two-piece Holly Hunt, and that kind of person is a straight-up jive turkey. For the rest of us, word of a new single pressed to a 12″ platter is nothing but good news, to be sure. The instrumentalist duo had a glut of releases a couple years back and it was easy to get spoiled, but it’s been a while as we move deeper into 2017, so the arrival of preorders for The Wait / Bowling Green — even at just about seven minutes between them — is fine by me. It’s not an album, but, you know, it’s not nothing either. And it’s been nothing for a while now, so don’t be a jive turkey about it.

Jive turkey.

The May 18 release of The Wait / Bowling Green coincides with the May 20 start of a run up the Eastern Seaboard that Holly Hunt will undertake alongside Crud as the latter make their way to and through Maryland Deathfest 2017 at the end of this month. Dates follow the release info below:

holly hunt the wait bowling green

Holly Hunt – S/T 12”

May 18, 2017, Holly Hunt return with a new two-song, self-titled 12” single released by Sonic Titan. Both songs were recorded, mixed and mastered by Rat Bastard at Dan Hosker Studio in Miami Beach. A side, “The Wait” (4:00) is a melodic, melancholic song, and the B side is a heavy rager called “Bowling Green” (3:09). The record will be available through the band’s Bandcamp page, select record stores, as well as on their upcoming tour with Crud May 20th – May 31st.

Drummer Beatriz Monteavaro and guitarist Gavin Perry capture the meditative power of repetition; the ecstatic joy of tempered variation; infinitely undulating riffage; psychedelic drone paired with rock n’ roll rhythm in full splendor. Though stripped down to the most bare essentials, Holly Hunt produces a sound and style far beyond rudimentary tags like “heavy,” “hard,” or “brutal.”

Preorder now at hollyhunt.bandcamp.com
Photo credit: Walter Wlodarczyk.
Front cover illustration by Beatriz Monteavaro.

CRUD and Holly Hunt will be greasing through the East Coast in May. Catch the filth in your city.

5/20 Savannah, GA at The Jinx w/ Gaul
5/21 Raleigh, NC at Slims w/ Gaul*
5/22 Richmond, VA at McCormacks Irish Pub
5/23 Brooklyn, NY at Lucky 13
5/24 Philadelphia, PA at Century Bar
5/25 Baltimore, MD at Maryland Deathfest*
5/26 Columbus, OH at The Summit
5/27 Lexington, KY at The Green Lantern Bar
5/28 Murfreesboro, TN at Autograph Studios
5/29 Asheville, NC at Static Age Records
5/30 Atlanta, GA at The Earl w/ Junior Bruce
5/31 Gainesville, FL The Atlantic w/ Junior Bruce
*CRUD only

https://www.facebook.com/HOLLYHUNT.LTD/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1245418958872759/
https://twitter.com/HollyHunt666
hollyhunt.bandcamp.com

Holly Hunt, “Bill Ward”

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Cave of Swimmers Tour Starts this Weekend; New Song Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Miami two-piece Cave of Swimmers have a new track available as a free download. I joined their mailing list just now and grabbed it for myself to check out. I’m of two minds when it comes to talking about it, because they’ve very clearly made efforts not to give away what it is. Part of me would like to say, “Oh yeah, they’re doing this and this and it’s called this,” and so on, but I almost don’t want to give it away. I’ll say that it’s a cover, and that if you ever listened to classic thrash, you’ll probably recognize it based on the title alone, but I think it’s probably best to leave it there out of respect for the band.

The link where you can get the track and find out or yourself what Cave of Swimmers are up to this time around is below. I’m sure it’ll be on Bandcamp eventually as well, though I’ve gotten no confirmation of that.

This weekend, Misters Perez and García start a Southern tour that will find them spending much of the next week in Texas. The run, dubbed ‘Southern Lights,’ includes dates with Scott Kelly and Jucifer, and the routing follows here:

cave-of-swimmers-southern-lights-tour

Cave of Swimmers will embark on their Southern Lights Tour February 26th. They will join Scott Kelly from Neurosis in that night’s lineup in Jacksonville. They will also join Jucifer on the Houston date. To top it off, make sure to check out the free song download on their website caveofswimmers.com/free

Cave of Swimmers Southern Lights Tour:
Feb 26 Jacksonville, FL at Raindogs w/ Scott Kelly
Feb 27 Murfreesboro, TN at The Boro
March 1 Memphis, TN, at Rickhouse Live
March 2 Tulsa, OK at Soundpony
March 3 Dallas, TX at The Double Wide
March 4 San Antonio, TX at Faust Tavern
March 5 Austin, TX at Hotel Vegas
March 6 Corpus Christi, TX at Black Monk Tavern
March 7 Houston, TX at Super Happy Fun Land w/ Jucifer
March 8 New Orleans, LA at Poor Boys
March 10 Sarasota, FL at Kelly’s Live
March 11 Gainesville, FL at The Atlantic

Cave of Swimmers is a band formed by two Venezuelan kids who met in the 4th grade. After moving to Miami in the mid 2000s, they reunited to form a band with an original take on heavy music. Fast, slow, spooky, sludgy, progressive, you name it: Cave of Swimmers does it their own way.

Cave of Swimmers is:
G.E. Perez: Vocals, Guitar, 6/4 Bass, Synth
Arturo García : Drums, Percussion, Vocals

http://caveofswimmers.com
http://caveofswimmers.bandcamp.com
https://twitter.com/caveofswimmers

Cave of Swimmers, Reflection (2015)

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