Quarterly Review: The Atlas Moth, Across Tundras, The Wizards of Delight, Against the Grain, Our Solar System, Dommengang, Boss Keloid, Holy Smoke, Sabel, Blackwater Prophet

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is a crucial moment in any Quarterly Review. Today we hit the halfway point one way or the other. I still haven’t decided if this will be a 50- or 60-album edition; kind of playing it by ear, but either way, today’s a landmark in my mind in terms of how far to go vs. how far we’ve come. Uphill vs. downhill to some extent, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m either half-assing it from here on out or that I don’t enjoy the challenge of reviewing 10 records in a day, one after the next, for (at least) five days in a row. I’ve always been a glutton for a bit of self-flagellation. Ha.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Atlas Moth, Coma Noir

the atlas moth coma noir

If one still wants to consider Chicago’s The Atlas Moth post-metal after hearing Coma Noir, at least do them the courtesy of emphasizing the “metal” part of that equation. For their debut on Prosthetic Records and fourth full-length overall, the five-piece worked with producer Sanford Parker to solidify a progressive metal sound that, whether in the harsh and weighted impact of the opening title-track or the later interplay between guitarists Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush on screams and cleaner vocals in “Furious Gold,” seems to take cues from groups like a less manic Strapping Young Lad and a less watered-down Mastodon more than Isis or Neurosis. With prominent synth from Andrew Ragin (also guitar), and the solid roll from the rhythm section of bassist Alex Klein and drummer Mike Miczek, the band brings revitalized edge to “The Streets of Bombay,” and even on the slower, more atmospheric closer “Chloroform,” they’ve never sounded more lethal. It suits them.

The Atlas Moth on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Across Tundras, Tumbleweeds III

across tundras tumbleweeds iii

A collection of odds and ends from Across Tundras, the 10-track/52-minute Tumbleweeds III may or may not sate anyone hoping for a follow-up to 2013’s Electric Relics (review here), but it provides some curio fodder along the way to be sure, from raw opener “Final Breath over Venom Falls” to the acoustic-percussion jam “Bullet in the Butt” to the fuller roll of “Cold Ride” and later demos for “Spinning Through the Cosmic Dust,” “Hijo del Desierto,” “Stone Crazy Horse” and “The Stacked Plain,” which later became “Seasick Serenade” on Electric Relics, it’s at very least something for fans to dig into and a fascinating listen, as Across Tundras’ rambling sound is almost eerily suited to a home-recording vibe, as the “Stone Crazy Horse” demo, featuring vocalist Shannon Allie-Murphy along with frontman Tanner Olson, sounds all the more folksome as a result of its lack of production polish. Closing with Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” then, could hardly be more appropriate. Still waiting for a proper long-player to surface, but happy at this point to take what comes.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

Like a chicanery-laced dusty vinyl with a naked lady on the cover, The Wizards of Delight emerge from the London underground to solidly declare “We’ve got the rock ‘n’ rollz.” And yes, they spell it with a ‘z.’ The presence of frontman Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen will be familiar to anyone who ever even briefly encountered Groan – dude makes an impression, to be sure – and the four tracks he and the surrounding five-piece of guitarists/backing vocalists Dan Green’s Myth and Lenny Ray, bassist/backing vocalist Eponymous, organist/backing vocalist Henry and drummer Reece bring is both funky and classically heavy, “Gypsy” referencing Dio Sabbath in the first line while “Mountain Woman” brings a heavy ‘70s shuffle to answer the way-un-P.C. “Shogun Messiah,” which seems to be working under the thesis that because it sounds like it’s from 40 years ago, they can get away with it. I’ll give them that the track is, to an unfortunate degree, catchy. As to the rest, give me the groove of “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” any day. It’s been a while since anyone so brazenly interpreted Mk. II Deep Purple and actually pulled it off.

The Wizards of Delight on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Against the Grain, Cheated Death

against the grain cheated death

Hard-touring Detroit heavy rockers Against the Grain are known for speed, and rightly so. When they burst into high gear, as on “Sacrifice,” “No Sleep,” “Last Chance,” “Rolling Stone,” “Enough’s Not Enough,” and “Jaded and Faded” from their latest offering and Ripple Music debut, Cheated Death. The follow-up to 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) sees them no less infectious in their live energy, but it’s hard to ignore the more versatile approach that seems to be growing in their sound, from the classic rocking “Smoke” to the near-centerpiece “Devils and Angels” which ballads-out its boozy regrets before entering into an effective mid-paced build that rounds out in choice dual-soloing. Likewise, though they open at a good clip with the title-track, closer “Into the Light” finds a middle ground between thrust and groove. The truth is Against the Grain have never been just about speed, but they’ve never so directly benefited from a dynamic approach as they do on Cheated Death either.

Against the Grain on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Our Solar System, Origins

our solar system origins

Immediate kudos to Stockholm-based psychedelic progressive explorers Our Solar System – aka Vårt Solsystem – for opening their third full-length for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the five-track/41-minute Origins, with the side-consuming 21-minute “Vulkanen.” One could hardly ask for more effective immersion in the band’s world of patiently unfurled, languid psychedelia, and with the accompaniment of “Babalon Rising,” the jazz-prog tracklist centerpiece “En Bit Av Det Tredje Klotet,” the birdsong-laced “Naturligt Samspel” and the semi-freaked-out melodic wash of “Monte Verita” on side B, a full, rich, and mind-expanding cosmos is engaged, free of restriction even as it remains thoroughly lysergic, and adherent to no structural will so much as the will to adventure into the unknown, to find out where one progression leads. As regards the long- and short-form material on Origins, it leads far, far out, and if you don’t come out the other side wanting to own everything the band has ever released, you’re decidedly in the wrong.

Our Solar System on Thee Facebooks

Beyond Beyond is Beyond website

 

Dommengang, Love Jail

dommengang love jail

Once calling Brooklyn Home, Los Angeles trio Dommengang waste no time in getting down to the business of boogie on their second album for Thrill Jockey, Love Jail. Produced by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), the 10-track/50-minute long-player has all the room for organ/guitar mashups, righteous West Coast vibes and easy-flowing classic heavy rock one could hope for, and in the opening salvo of “Pastel City,” “Lovely Place” and “Lone Pine,” the three-piece of guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem reaffirm mellow bluesiness as well on the title-track and dig into ‘90s-style alt bliss on the penultimate “Color out of Space.” There’s a welcoming air throughout that holds steady regardless of tempo, and in heavier moments like the second half of “I’m out Mine,” the band resonates with fuzz and noisy elements that bring just enough danger to the proceedings to keep the listener riveted. Classy, but not too classy, in other words.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch

boss keloid melted on the inch

It would seem that Wigan, UK, outfit Boss Keloid — newly signed to Holy Roar Records for the release of their third LP, Melted on the Inch – internalized a few crucial lessons from their sophomore outing, 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (review here). At six tracks and 40 minutes, Melted on the Inch is about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor. Its title isn’t a weed pun. Its cover art conveys a work of dimensionality, and most importantly, the album itself turns to be precisely that. Taking a significant step toward a more progressive sound, Boss Keloid maintain the heft of their prior outing but base it around material that, frankly, is more complex and dynamic. I won’t say that “Tarku Shavel” and “Lokannok” are without their elements of self-indulgence, but neither should they be for the five-piece to do justice to the multifaceted nature of their purpose. They still roar when they want to, but Boss Keloid strike with breadth on Melted on the Inch as well as sheer impact.

Boss Keloid on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records website

 

Holy Smoke, Pipe Dream

holy smoke pipe dream

After forming in 2015, Philadelphia’s exclamatory Holy Smoke! issued their first three-track release, It’s a Demo! (review here) the next year and showed marked stylistic promise in cuts like “Rinse and Repeat” and “Blue Dreams.” Both of those tracks, as it happens, stand at the opening of the band’s latest EP, the five-song Pipe Dream, and reaffirm the potential in the group. The opener (also the longest track once again; immediate points) is a tale of workaday redundancy, the very sort of monotony that the rest of the offering seems to leave behind in favor of post-grunge heavy rock, marked by the wah-bass on finale “Asch Backwards” and the brooding sensibility of the prior “Golden Retriever,” which surges in its midsection like a lost Alice in Chains demo only to end quiet once again, a departure from the linearity of centerpiece “Missing the Mark” just before. Less psychedelic than their initial impression conveyed, they seem to have undertaken the work of crafting their own sonic niche in Philly’s increasingly crowded scene, and there’s nothing on Pipe Dream to make one think it’s not a realistic possibility they’ll get there.

Holy Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Holy Smoke on Bandcamp

 

Sabel, Re-Generation

sabel re-generation

Sabel know what they want to be and then are that thing. Their third album, Re-Generation, arrives via Oak Island Records as six tracks of to-the-converted stonerism, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “In the Walls of Eryx,” the Swedish trio do little more than ask their listeners to smell the smoke emanating from their speaker cabinets (oddly sweet), and hone walls of fuzz that each seem to be bigger than the last. There are some elements of earliest Electric Wizard at play in “Atlantean” or the sneering “Voodoo Woman,” but belters like “Interstellar Minddweller” and “Green Priestess” stave off their sounding overly derivative, and though at the end of Re-Generation’s 42-minute run, one might feel as though they need a shower, the record itself proves well worth the dive into the muck. The band would seem to have carved their own descriptor with the title of their self-released 2015 LP, Hard Doom, and that’s as good as anything I could come up with, so let’s roll with it. They seem to.

Sabel on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Blackwater Prophet, As I Watch it Freeze

blackwater prophet as i watch it freeze

Cheers to Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment for putting me onto Spokane, Washington’s Blackwater Prophet, who with the seven-track As I Watch it Freeze collect various tracks recorded between 2015 and 2017. Thus something of a compilation, the 40-minute outing wants nothing for overarching flow, “In My Passing Time” leading off with a mellow psych-blues spirit that only grows more classic-feeling through “House of Stone” and the gorgeously pastoral “The Swamp.” The band have two proper full-lengths out, and if they wanted to count As I Watch it Freeze as their third, I don’t think they’d find much argument, as centerpiece “Gold in the Palm” opens like a gateway leading to the increasingly resonant “Careworn Crow,” the fuzzy swing of “Eating the Sun” and finally, the title-track itself, which answers the acoustics of “The Swamp” earlier while adding flourish of volume-swelling and swirling electric guitar and late choral vocals that only make the proceedings seem all the more complete in their engagement.

Blackwater Prophet on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Prophet on Bandcamp

 

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Against the Grain Release Cheated Death Feb. 9; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

against the grain

Should you be surprised when the new track Against the Grain are streaming tears ass out of your speakers like it just robbed the place? No, probably not. At least not if you heard 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) or have gotten down the with Detroit four-piece’s speed-minded fare before. What is distinct about the title-cut from their upcoming long-player, Cheated Death — out Feb. 9 on Ripple — is the underlying groove that accompanies that head-spinning presentation. Over time, Against the Grain have worked both on the road and in the studio to build a steady foundation of quality songwriting for their blazing craft, and it would seem those efforts are continuing to pay off.

You can stream “Cheated Death” at the bottom of this post because, you know, the future, and check out the wide swath of touring Against the Grain will be doing to support the record. That’s kind of their thing. Can pretty much guarantee this won’t be the last run they do this year, either. They go and go and go. And fast.

From the PR wire:

Against the Grain Cheated Death

AGAINST THE GRAIN: Motor City Mad Men Cheat Death Next Month with Ripple Music

Cheated Death is released worldwide on 9th February 2018 on Ripple Music

Living up to the title of their newest record, Against the Grain have proven themselves to be true road warriors. Blazing a trail across the US with their brand of gear-shifting, balls-to-the-wall rock, incorporating all things heavy they practically defy categorization, seamlessly blurring the lines of punk, rock, doom and thrash.

After playing fifty shows in 2009 across their home state of Michigan, their self-titled debut (released that same year) garnered a serious local fan base. Introduced to touring life by Hellmouth and The Meatmen, with their intense live show nailed and energized fan base following in support close behind, Against The Grain quickly transformed into a fully-functioning road act.

Playing seventy-five dates in 2011, they followed their debut with 2012’s Motor City Speed Rock and a further hundred fifty dates in support. Their efforts caught the attention of Self-Destructo Records, who in 2013 released their third full-length Surrounded By Snakes to such acclaim that they rereleased it soon afterward on 10” vinyl. Maintaining a DIY tour ethic, the band has since built a national fan base while quenching their thirst for fast and heavy rock and roll, right across the land. With a combined total of seven hundred and fifty dates under their belts since their formation in 2011, the band has toured alongside an impressive assemblage of notable acts that include Nashville Pussy, Valient Thorr, Bongzilla, Atomic Bitchwax, Mos Generator, Anvil, Night Demon, Church of Misery, The Hookers, Beast in the Field, Lo-Pan and many more.

Against The Grain’s heavily anticipated forth full-length, Road Warriors, was released in the summer of 2015 and pushed them even further into the electrifying realms of rock, metal and punk world. But it’s their soon-to-be released album Cheated Death that’s going to truly push them over the edge. Released this February on the California-based record label Ripple Music – widely regarded as one of the world’s leading record labels for Heavy Rock, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych – you can rest assured that the mad men of Michigan are going to blaze a trial across the US, the world and your mind in 2018.

Cheated Death is released worldwide on 9th February 2018 on Ripple Music

Against The Grain:
Chris Nowak – Bass, Vocals
Rob Nowak – Drums
Nick Bellomo – Guitar
Kyle Davis – Guitar
2018 Tour Dates:

2/2 – Saginaw (MI) – Hamilton St. Pub
2/3 – Indianapolis (IN) – The Melody Inn
2/4 – Grand Rapids (MI) – Tip Top Deluxe (Matinee)
3/22 – Westland (MI) – The Token Lounge
3/23 – Newport (KY) – The Southgate House Revival
3/24 – Nashville (TN) – Exit/In
3/25 – Lexington (KY) – Cosmic Charlies
3/26 – Louisville (KY) – Highlands Tap Room
3/27 – St Louis (MO) – FUBAR
3/28 – Springfield (MO) – Outland Ballroom
3/29 – Wichita (KS) – The Elbow Room
3/30 – Denver (CO) – The Gothic Theatre
3/31 – Grand Junction (CO) – The Mesa Theatre
4/1 – Salt Lake City (UT) – Metro Music Hall
4/3 – Las Vegas (NV) – The Divebar
4/4 – San Diego (CA) – The Soda Bar
4/5 – Santa Ana (CA) – The Observatory
4/6 – Bakersfield (CA) – Pyrenees Cafe and Saloon
4/7 – San Jose (CA) – The Ritz
4/8 – Santa Cruz (CA) – The Catalyst
4/10 – Sacramento (CA) – The Blue Lamp
4/12 – Grants Pass (OR) – Rogue Theatre
4/13 – Portland (OR) – Dantes
4/14 – Seattle (WA) – El Corazon
4/15 – Spokane (WA) – The Pin!
4/16 – Whitefish (MT) – Remington Bar and Casino
4/17 – Bozeman (MT) – Bozeman Eagles Club and Ballroom
4/18 – Billings (MT) – The Pub Station
4/20 – Minneapolis (MN) – Lees Liquor Lounge
4/21 – Green Bay (WI) – The Lyric Room
4/22 – Chicago (IL) – Reggies Rock Club

https://www.facebook.com/Againstthegraindetroit/
https://www.instagram.com/againstthegraindetroit/
https://againstthegrain-atg.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Quarterly Review: Carlton Melton, Horseskull, Dreadnought, Forsaken, Moon Rats, Son of the Morning, Jesus the Snake, Bert, Galactic Gulag, Band of Spice

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Today begins the Quarterly Review. You know the deal by now. 50 records written up between today and this Friday, 10 per day. As always, it’s a huge swath of stuff, and by the end of it I’m usually ready to collapse in a heap, but I’ve yet to regret it afterwards, so we press on. I hope you find something you dig in all this. I say that every time, but it’s still true.

Speaking of digging, how about that new logo up there? Thanks goes out to the Lord of the Logos himself, Christophe Szpajdel, who took on the project. This is the second one he’s done for the site, and aside from being in a completely different style from the last — I like covering a good amount of ground, even in logos — I think it fits pretty well with a variety of aesthetics. Could be doom, could be heavy rock, psych, stoner garage, whatever. Anyway, I’m into it. Hope you are too.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Carlton Melton, Mind Minerals

carlton melton mind minerals

It might be decades before the dimension we live in has caught up to the plane from which Northern California’s Carlton Melton emanate their resonant transmissions of space-psych, but somehow time doesn’t seem to matter anyway when actually listening. To wit, Mind Minerals, the trio’s first LP since 2015’s Out to Sea, is an 11-track/76-minute whopper – unmanageable by any standard – but once it’s on, all you want to do is roll with it and by the time post-aptly-named intro “Untimely” has begat “Electrified Sky” has begat the droning “The Lighthouse” has begat the fuzzy swirl of “Eternal Return” has begat the 10-minute rumble-and-synth soundtracking of “Snow Moon,” etc., there’s neither escape nor the desire for it. Does it need to be a 2LP? Nope, but nothing needs to be anything, man. In the subdued boogie of “Basket Full of Trumpets,” the is-it-backwards slow freakout of “Sea Legs,” the experimental guitar ambience of “Way Back When,” headphone-ready minimalism of “Climbing the Ladder,” the shaker’s tension that sustains the otherwise wispy “Atmospheric River,” and the final fuzzy resurgence of “Psychoticedelicosis,” Carlton Melton thoroughly reaffirm their residency in the far, far out. Not that anyone was questioning their paperwork or anything.

Carlton Melton on Thee Facebooks

Agitated Records website

 

Horseskull, Chemical Winter Blues

horseskull chemical winter blues

With fluid shifts between Ripple-style straightforward heavy rock, rolling Sabbathian lumber and even some harsher sludge elements, the seven-minute “Black Dawn, Bright Day” sets a varied tone for Chemical Winter Blues, the second LP from North Carolina’s Horseskull. I’m not sure I’d declare any one side or the other the winner in the fight between them by the time the death ‘n’ roll of “Luckless Bastards” gives way to closer “Lost all I Had, then Lost Again” – itself a 17-minute noise-nodder triumph of, well, loss – but the trip through “Hypocrites and Pigs” and 10-minute centerpiece “The Black Flame of Cain” is unpredictable and fun to make in kind. Guitarist/vocalist Anthony Staton reminds a bit of Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi in his cleaner delivery, which only adds to the album’s declarative feel, and the overarching groove surrounding from guitarist Michael Avery, bassist Robert Hewlett and drummer Steve Smith only reinforces the developing individualism.

Horseskull on Thee Facebooks

Horseskull on Bandcamp

 

Dreadnought, A Wake in Sacred Waves

dreadnought-a-wake-in-sacred-waves

There is very little beyond the reach of Denver four-piece Dreadnought. Their third album, A Wake in Sacred Waves (Sailor Records), blends open, psychedelic jazz, progressive black metal, folk and more into a sometimes-thrashing/sometimes-sprawling meld that recalls the promise of Grayceon and the poise of Opeth while at the same time casting its own impression in melody, arrangement, variety and scope. Opening with the 17-minute longest cut (immediate points) “Vacant Sea,” it brilliantly ties its elements together to present a story arc following in elemental theme from Dreadnought’s first two offerings in centering around the rise and fall of a water-born apex predator, the narrative of which plays out across its four intense, extended and resoundingly complex inclusions, which alternate between beautiful and terrifying in a way that leaves the line utterly blurred and irrelevant. Why this band isn’t on Profound Lore or Neurot, I have no idea, but either way, A Wake in Sacred Waves is a conceptual and manifest triumph not to be missed.

Dreadnought on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records website

 

Forsaken, Pentateuch

forsaken-pentateuch

A spirit of classic doom metal abounds on Forsaken’s fifth long-player, Pentateuch (Mighty Music), which is the long-running Malta-based outfit’s first offering since 2009’s After the Fall, but though righteous fist-pumpers like “Primal Wound” and “Decalogue” carry an epic and unflinchingly progressive underpinning in their layered vocal melodies, a harsh snare sound and awkwardly punching bass stifle complete immersion. It’s less an issue in a cut like “Saboath (The Law Giver),” which has a full swing surrounding, but it makes post-intro opener “Serpent Bride” sound like a demo (unless it’s my digital promo?) in a way that sets an unfortunate tone in contrasting the obvious class and high-level execution of Pentateuch as a whole. It should be noted that even a rough production can’t hold “The Dove and the Raven” back from making its Candlemassian intent clear, but a record of such overall high standard should feel as crisp as possible, and particularly for being so many years in arriving, Forsaken’s latest seems to want more in that regard, despite the quality of the material that comprises it.

Forsaken on Thee Facebooks

Mighty Music website

 

Moon Rats, Highway Lord

moon-rats-highway-lord

I’ve already counted Highway Lord among my favorite debuts of 2017, but consider it’s worth taking a moment to underline the point of the heavy psych and stoner-fuzz wash that Moon Rats so vigilantly emit on cuts like the opening salvo of “Become the Smoke,” “The Dark Takes Hold” and “Heroic Dose,” balancing languid vibe and sonic heft atop gorgeously natural songcraft. Among the short-feeling 29 minutes and seven inclusions, with the title-track at the center shifting into “Overdose,” the deeply atmospheric “The Hunter” the and melodically spacious “Motor Sword” at the finish, there isn’t a weak spot to be found, and whether it’s the added dynamic of a key arrangement in the closer or the landmark feel of the hook to “Heroic Dose,” the Milwaukee five-piece tap into the there’s-no-rush-we’ll-all-get-there sonic sentiment that once made Quest for Fire so entrancing, while engaging subtle flourish of presentation that promises creative development to come. Bring it on. Please. The sooner the better.

Moon Rats on Thee Facebooks

Gloss Records website

 

Son of the Morning, Son of the Morning EP

son-of-the-morning-son-of-the-morning-ep

Newcomer four-piece Son of the Morning, with the crisply-realized three tracks of their self-titled debut EP, would seem right away to be trying to stake their claim on a piece of the Midwest’s doom legacy. Coiling between heavy rock swing and classic doom tonality, each cut, from “Left Hand Path,” which rounds out after its welcoming hook with a sample of what sounds like somebody hanging in the breeze, through the post-Uncle Acid riffing of “Release,” and the more ethereal, organ-laced psych of “House of Our Enemy,” offers its own take in a clearheaded and efficient five minutes, getting in, leaving its mark and getting out to make room for the next piece in this initial sampling. Potential abounds from vocalist/organist Lady Helena, bassist Lee Allen, guitarist Levi Mendes and drummer H.W. Applewhite, and the core question is how they might tie these elements together across a first full-length. It should be noted they sound more than ready to embark on that project and provide an answer.

Son of the Morning on Thee Facebooks

Son of the Morning on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Jesus the Snake EP

 jesus-the-snake-jesus-the-snake

A 31-minute debut EP clearly meant to be heard in its entirety, Jesus the Snake’s self-titled treads some familiar ground in progressive heavy psychedelic instrumentalism throughout its four tracks – “Floyds I,” “Floyds II,” “Karma” and “Moment” – but with an inherent sense of mood and reach not unlike earliest My Sleeping Karma, its tonal warmth and emergent weight of groove find welcome all the same. Particularly for being the Portuguese outfit’s first public unveiling, the interplay of Joka Alves’ keys and Jorge Lopes’ guitar is immediately fluid, and as the bass of Rui Silva provides foundation to let drummer João Costa explore jazzy snare textures and stylistic nuance. It’s a beginning, and it sounds like a beginning, but Jesus the Snake also offers a richness and patience that many bands simply don’t have their first time out, and for that and the classic stoner fuzz of “Moment” alone, it’s easily worth the time and effort of thorough investigation.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

BerT, The Lost Toes

bert-the-lost-toes

Officially defunct for some time now, Michigan’s BerT compile tracks from throughout their prolific and bizarre run in The Lost Toes (Madlantis Records), proffering a timeline of their post-Melvins avant weirdness that starts with their very first song, “Stuff,” and makes its way through various demos, lost tracks, noise experiments, etc., to the 11-minute drone-out “Return” at the finish line. The digital version on Bandcamp offers an origin story with each track – the 90-second noise rock blast “Human Bone Xylophone” was cut from 2012’s Return to the Electric Church for time concerns, and the subsequent “Commercial Break” (which, yes, is a commercial break) was a class project – but whether you engage the narrative or not, the enduring vibe remains strange and charming in its garage-fuckall, could-and-just-might-go-anywhere-at-any-moment kind of way. BerT were always good fun, and The Lost Toes serves as reminder of the personality they had together that was so very much their own.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

The Lost Toes at Madlantis Records website

 

Galactic Gulag, To the Stars by Hard Ways

galactic gulag to the stars by hard ways

Brazilian instrumental troupe Galactic Gulag traffic in cosmic heft across the five pieces that comprise their first full-length, To the Stars by Hard Ways, but there’s ultimately little about the album that seems to be the hard way. If anything, it’s easy: Easy to groove on, easy to let it unfold over you in a spacious psychedelic drift, easy to nod along as the bassline of “Escape from Planet Gulag” picks up from 12-minute opener “Home.” Easy even to get lost in the sax-laden swirl-bounce off-kilterism of “The Hollow Moon.” So yeah, guitarists Breno Xavier and Pablo Dias, bassist Gabriel Dunke and drummer César Silva might be overselling a sense of difficulty, but as “Space Time Singularity” rolls into the shreddy-style fuzz of 15-minute closer “Eta Orionis,” there are clearly more important issues at hand. Like space. And riffs. And tone. And everything else that’s working so well for the Natal-based foursome on this jam-laden debut.

Galactic Gulag on Thee Facebooks

Galactic Gulag on Bandcamp

 

Band of Spice, Shadows Remain

band of spice shadows remain

Former Spiritual Beggars and The Mushroom River Band vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand has been fronting the namesake act Band of Spice – formerly Spice and the RJ Band — for over a decade now, and Shadows Remain (Scarlet Records) follows 2015’s Economic Dancers (review here) as their fifth overall full-length. After the suitably-drunk-sounding vocals-only intro “Only One Drink,” the album rides the line between classically metallic tones and heavy rock riffing, a cut like “Don’t Bring Me Flowers” having little time in its 2:46 for brooking nonsense of any sort while later pieces like “Apartment 8” and “The Savior and the Clown” find time for more brooding and sentimental fare, and the penultimate “Take Me Home” and closer “Apartment 8 (Part II)” offer acoustic-strummed departure, so while the 51-minute runtime gives the 13-tracker something of a CD-era throwback feel and the songwriting the resolute in its straightforwardness, neither is Shadows Remain completely single-minded in its approach. A touch of grunge-funk in “Sheaf” goes a long way as well in lightening the mood, making the whole presentation all the more pro-shop, as it should be.

Band of Spice on Thee Facebooks

Scarlet Records on Bandcamp

 

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Cruthu Sign to The Church Within; The Angle of Eternity to be Released in February

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cruthu

Congratulations to Michigan-based doom traditionalists Cruthu, who in signing to The Church Within have become labelmates to the likes of Lord Vicar, Purple Hill Witch and Beelzefuzz. It’s a fitting home for the Lansing four-piece, who released their debut album, The Angle of Eternity (review here), earlier this year through Emetic Records and will see the record reissued via their new label on Feb. 23, 2018. It is streaming in full now and has been for some time, and if you find you’ve been missing the subtle ’70s nods that Revelation always seemed to work into their material, yeah, you’re going to want to hit that up.

Most of this info has been posted here before — just so you don’t think I’m trying to get away with something — but guitarist “Postman Dan” McCormick had some words to say about the signing and hell, I wrote the bio to start with, so it’s not like I’m ripping myself off. The important thing is to get informed.

Dig it and doom on:

cruthu the angle of eternity

Cruthu -The Angle of Eternity on Church Within Records!!

Based in Lansing, Michigan, Cruthu is comprised of vocalist Ryan Evans, guitarist Dan McCormick, bassist Erik Hemingsen (Scott Lehman also plays on the album), and drummer Matt Fry. The Angle of Eternity was produced by McCormick and George Szegedy at The Black Lodge in Lansing, and features cover art by Dan McDonald Studios in a grim style perfectly suited to the band’s downer and ethereal songcraft.

“We’ve been working with Oliver Richling at CWR over the past few months,” McCormick explains. “This release has been fully mastered by Richard Whittaker at FX Mastering and will see its first release on CD along with a special design on vinyl. It’s been a pleasure working with Oliver and his team at a professional level. He’s worked above and beyond to help this record see a proper release into the European market.”

“The album is traditional doom metal with heavy ’70s movements and passages — well structured and deliberate,” says the guitarist in assessing the aesthetic. “We were going for a more lo-fi, circa-’70s sound. Our current goal is to progress the project into some early-NWOBHM over time without compromising our traditional influence.”

Songs like the lurching “Lady in the Lake” and “Bog of Kildare” will earn understanding nods from fans of doomed greats like Trouble, Pagan Altar and The Gates of Slumber, and the progressive edge brought to “Seance” and the closing title-track make a clear statement that Cruthu offer a richness of approach to coincide with their memorable riffing and thematic lyrics.

Recorded 100 percent to tape, The Angle of Eternity weaves a natural-sounding tapestry of doom across its course, capturing a raw vision of heavy metal’s roots as righteous in its execution as its foundations. It is doom by doomers, for doomers, and readily lets the rest be as damned as they are.

The Angle of Eternity tracklisting:
1. Bog of Kildare
2. Lady in the Lake
3. Seance
4. From the Sea
5. Separated From the Herd
6. The Angle of Eternity

Street date: 23.Feb 2018 on CD,Vinyl and Download

Cruthu live:
01/13 Oig’s Fest, Mac’s Bar, Lansing, MI w/ Stonecutters, Wretch, Recorrupter, Jackpine Snag & more

https://www.facebook.com/cruthuband/
https://cruthu.bandcamp.com/
http://doom-dealer.de/

Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity (2017)

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BoneHawk Announce June Tour Dates Starting at Fuzz Fest 4 & Burnin’ Turf II

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bonehawk

I’m just going to assume that, aside from the nod to Judas Priest, BoneHawk calling their upcoming June run the ‘Screaming for Pizza Tour’ is a reference to and/or a continuation of the running gag from their prior video for the track “Los Vientos” (posted here), which also had pizza as a central theme. Can’t really argue. Who doesn’t like pizza? And who doesn’t like good-time heavy rock and roll? If BoneHawk show up with both, well, I don’t see how that isn’t a win for everybody involved. You’ll also note the tour poster below says in the top right corner, “We’re not a Judas Priest tribute band.” Probably good to clarify these things outright.

The Kalamazoo four-piece, who took part in Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy split series last year, sharing a platter with Kingnomad (review here), will begin their stint at Fuzz Fest 4 in Ann Arbor and the Obelisk-presented Burnin’ Turf II in Ruth, MI, before heading to Chicago and elsewhere in the Midwest and Southeast. They’re reportedly working toward having a new album out, also on Ripple, in 2018, as they affirmed via the PR wire:

bonehawk screaming for pizza tour

BoneHawk Screaming For Pizza Tour Starts June 2

It’s summertime and the livin’ is sleazy! Alas, it sounds like the ripe time for our dudes in BoneHawk to pile into the Barbarian van and hit the road for a tour of epic proportions and drives so long they will most certainly have black circles under their eyes as if they had tricked each other into using binoculars with shoe polish around the lenses…but we digress!

Hornacious Wax is proud to present BoneHawk’s “Screaming For Pizza Summer 2017” tour! Starting June 2nd with the fourth annual Fuzz Fest in Ann Arbor, and ending back in the band’s hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the boys will be showcasing several new tunes off their upcoming release on Ripple Music (early 2018). Also, rejoice and bemoan them at the same time in singalongs to some oldies but goodies!

Go check them out! Bring a friend! Take a picture next to the Barabarian van! Don’t forget to #lookforthebarbarian

Here are the details:
Friday, 6/2/2017 @ Fuzz Fest 4 in Ann Arbor, MI w/ Cruthu, Lo Pan, S.N.A.F.U. and more!
Saturday, 6/3/2017 @ Burnin’ Turf II in Ruth, MI w/ Bison Machine, Wild Savages, Dead Feathers, Red Stone Souls, Gear Jammer, and Rip VanRipper
Sunday, 6/4/2017 @ Reggie’s in Chicago w/ Hypnochron, Phase Order, and Strange World
Monday, 6/5/2017 @ the Sinkhole in St. Louis, MO w/ Lightning Wolf and Planet Eater
Tuesday, 6/6/2017 @ the Blue Note in Oklahoma City, OK
Wednesday, 6/7/2017 @ the Limelight in San Antonio, TX
Thursday, 6/8/2017 @ Masquerade w/ Worshipper, the Great Electric Quest, Echoes of Savages, and Stone
Friday, 6/9/2017 @ Test Pattern in Winston-Salem, NC
Saturday, 6/10/2017 @ the Wizard Saloon in Hickory, NC
Sunday, 6/11/2017 @ Spring Water Supper Club in Nashville, TN
Wednesday, 6/14/2017 @ 25 Watt Club in Richmond, VA
Thursday, 6/15/2017 @ Capone’s in Johnson City, TN w/ Mega X, Uktena, and Bones of Mary
Friday, 6/16/2017 @ Buzzbin Art & Music Shop in Canton, OH w/ White Cadillac and Lohrs
Saturday, 6/17/2017 @ Shakespeare’s Lower Level in Kalamazoo, MI w/ Telekinetic Yeti, Drink Their Blood and Chod

https://www.facebook.com/bonehawkkzoo/
https://www.instagram.com/bonehawk_band/
https://twitter.com/bonehawkmusic
http://bonehawk.bandcamp.com
http://bonehawk.bigcartel.com

BoneHawk & Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Three (2016)

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Fuzz Fest 4 Set for June 1-3 with Lo-Pan, BoneHawk, Child Bite, Cruthu and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

From June 1 through June 3, the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will play host to Fuzz Fest 4. It’s a massive all-day-three-day event with 11 bands playing each night over the course of the Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and it features names like Child BiteLo-PanBoneHawkThe Amino Acids, Wild SavagesLavamothCruthuWizard Union and many others. I’ll admit that I don’t know everyone listed below, but from those I do and the glances I’ve made, it seems like a diverse bill that’s as wide-ranging as it is packed. Sometimes it’s nice to go, set up shop in a venue for three days, and let a whole shitload of new music come your way. I guess that’s my motivation in posting the lineup here. Been a while since I did that kind of thing.

Full roster of acts follows here, in case you’d like to do some homework:

fuzz-fest-4-poster

FUZZ FEST 4, GONNA DO IT SOME MORE!

Now in its fourth year, Fuzz Fest returns to the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Michigan to bring the people of the mitten state the high energy Rock N Roll they crave and deserve.
Headliners for this year’s installment are Child Bite on Thursday June 1, S.N.A.F.U. on Friday June 2nd, and the Amino Acids on Saturday June 3rd.

Jukebox Productions presents
FUZZ FEST 4!
June 1-3 at the Blind Pig!
3 nights, 2 stages, 33 bands, 11 bands each night.
$10 advanced tickets, $12 day of, Three day pass $20!

Lights by The Overhead Army.
Sponsored this year by VG Kids, ARBCO Records, Life in Michigan, and the Music & Arts Guild

THURSDAY JUNE 1
Child Bite
Human Skull
JUNGLEFOWL
Wild Savages
Bubak
minihorse
Duende
The Jackpine Snag
Warhorses
Visitors
The Gruesome Twosome

FRIDAY JUNE 2
S.N.A.F.U.
BoneHawk
Lo-Pan
Wizard Union
Stone Ritual
The Lucid Furs
Cruthu
Red Stone Souls
Rotokiller
Lavamoth
HELLGHiLLiES

SATURDAY JUNE 3
The Amino Acids
Caveman & Bam Bam Detroit
Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor
Disinformants
Scissor Now
Skin Lies
Wiccans
Shells
Seritas
Steve Harvey Oswald

Day 1 – http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7391915&pl=blindpig&dispatch=loadSelectionData

Day 2 – http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7391925&pl=blindpig&dispatch=loadSelectionData

Day 3 – http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7391935&pl=blindpig&dispatch=loadSelectionData

3 Day pass – http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?eventId=7391945&pl=blindpig&dispatch=loadSelectionData

https://www.facebook.com/events/1565187043497449/
https://www.facebook.com/fuzzfestmichigan/
http://www.blindpigmusic.com/

Junglefowl, Live at Fuzz Fest 3, June 11, 2016

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Bison Machine Sign to Small Stone Records; New Album Due this Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bison-machine-Photo-by-Rory-Rummings

Bison Machine have inked a deal to release their second album on Small Stone Records. The Michigan-based four-piece will hit Rustbelt Studios this summer to record the follow-up to 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), and on June 3, they’ll host the Burnin’ Turf II fest with BoneHawk, Wild Savages, Dead Feathers and others at the Parisville Saloon in Ruth, MI. That event (more info here) is also presented by The Obelisk, and ticket presales are on now if you’re so inclined. It looks like a damn good time, what with all the motorcycle silliness and the rock and roll and whatnot.

Even if both entities weren’t Michigan natives, the pairing of Bison Machine and Small Stone strikes me as especially fitting given the band’s propensity for bringing a modern edge to classic boogie and the label being essentially the place where that method has been pioneered in the US over the last 15-plus years. Very much looking forward to the next Bison Machine album. Maybe a Fall release if they’re recording in the summer? I’ll take it whenever.

I wrote this press release, but you and I can just pretend it came through circled back from the PR wire. Our secret:

burnin turf ii

Bison Machine Sign to Small Stone; New Album Coming Soon; Burnin’ Turf II Fest to be Held June 3

Michigan heavy rockers Bison Machine have signed to American heavy rock institution Small Stone Records. The Hamtramck-based volume dealers have been on a this-time-it’s-personal quest to hand-deliver their riffs across the country since the 2015 release of their debut album, Hoarfrost, on Kozmik Artifactz, and with tours of the East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, North, South and in between under their belt, they’re ready to take their game to the next level.

Bison Machine are currently preparing a new album for release later this year as their Small Stone debut. They will enter Rustbelt Studios (Five Horse Johnson, Halfway to Gone, Novadriver) later this Summer to record.

“It’s amazing!” enthuses Bison Machine bassist Anthony Franchina about the signing. “Small Stone has released some of my favorite records, from Sasquatch to Greenleaf to Lo-Pan, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to work with Scott [Hamilton] on our next record, which is going to completely blow away everything we’ve done before. We’ll be hitting the road too, so keep an eye out!”

In addition to working on their next LP, the members of Bison Machine are involved in organizing the Burnin’ Turf festival, which is set for June 3 at the Parisville Saloon in Ruth, MI, with a lineup featuring Bison Machine, Wild Savages, Dead Feathers, BoneHawk, Red Stone Souls, Rip VanRipper, and Gear Jammer, as well as chopper games, raffle prizes, van and tank lettering by Zak Warmann of Detroit Sign Painters, camping, DJ Smoak (Loy Smoak Jr.) all the way from San Antonio, bonfires, and of course, plenty of beer. Ticket presales are available AT THIS LOCATION: http://burninturf2.brownpapertickets.com

“I can’t wait to hear what Bison Machine bring to this next record,” says Scott Hamilton of Small Stone Records. “They’ve been unstoppable on tour for the last couple years and I’m thrilled to welcome them into the Small Stone fold representing the next generation of great American heavy rock and roll.”

Bison Machine released their latest single, “Cloak and Bones,” last year. A video for the track is streaming now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mcL_NF1CO8

Stay tuned for more on Bison Machine, Burnin Turf II, and the new album in the months ahead.

Bison Machine is:
Casey O’Ryan – Guitar
Breck Crandell – Drums
Tom Stec – Vocals
Anthony Franchina – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/bisonmachinedetroit/
https://www.instagram.com/bisonmachine/
https://twitter.com/bisonmachine
bisonmachine.bandcamp.com
http://bisonmachine.bigcartel.com/
http://burninturf2.brownpapertickets.com
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords/
http://smallstone.com/

Bison Machine, “Cloak and Bones” official video

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Quarterly Review: Grails, Expo Seventy, Coltsblood, Rhino, Cruthu, Spacetrucker, Black Habit, Stone Angels, The Black Willows, Lamagaia

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Arrival. Welcome to the final day of The Obelisk’s Spring 2017 Quarterly Review. After today, I clean off my desktop and start over with a mind toward the next round, which in my head I’ve already scheduled for late June. You know, at the end of the next quarter. I do try to make these things make sense on some level. Anyway, before we get to the last 10 albums, let me please reiterate my thanks to you for reading and say once again that I hope you’ve found something this week that really speaks to you, as I know I have and continue to today. We finish the Quarterly Review out strong to be sure, so even if you’re thinking you’re done and you’ve had enough, you might be surprised by the time you’re through the below.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Grails, Chalice Hymnal

grails chalice hymnal

Even if one counts the 2013 collection culled from GrailsBlack Tar Prophecies ongoing series of short releases that showed up via Temporary Residence, it’s been a long while since their last proper outing. Deep Politics (review here) was issued in 2011, but it seems the intervening time and members’ participation in other projects – among them Om and Holy Sons in the case of Emil Amos – disappear for Grails on Chalice Hymnal, which speaks directly to its predecessor in sequel pieces like “Deeper Politics,” “Deep Snow II” and “Thorns II,” taking the prog-via-TangerineDream cinematics of Deep Politics to vibrant and continually experimental places on the surprisingly vocalized “Empty Chamber,” the soundscaping “Rebecca” and the imaginative, evocative jazz homage “After the Funeral,” the album’s 10-minute closer. Hearing the John Carpenter keyboard line underpinning “Pelham,” I’m not sure I’d call Chalice Hymnal limitless in its aesthetic – Grails have definitive intentions here, as they always have – but they continue to reside in a space of their own making, and one that has yet to stop expanding its reach.

Grails on Thee Facebooks

Grails at Temporary Residence Ltd.

 

Expo Seventy, America Here and Now Sessions

expo seventy america here and now sessions

Yes. Yes. This. With extended two tracks – “First Movement” (22:17) and “Second Movement” (27:04) – unfolding one massive longform immersion that drones pastoral, delves into hypnotic bliss and fills the soul in that way that only raw exploration can, the America Here and Now Sessions from Kansas City (by way of the moon) outfit Expo Seventy is an utter joy to experience. Purposeful and patient in its execution, graceful in the instrumental chemistry – even with a second drummer sitting in amid the core trio led by guitarist Justin Wright – the album well fits the deep matte tones and nostalgic feel of its accompanying artwork, and is fluid in its movement from drone to push especially on “Second Movement,” which sandwiches a resonant cacophony around soundscapes that spread as far as the mind of the listener is willing to let them. Whether you want to sit and parse the execution over every its every subtle motion and waveform or put it on and go into full-brain-shutdown, America Here and Now Sessions delivers. Flat out. It delivers.

Expo Seventy on Thee Facebooks

Essence Music website

 

Coltsblood, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness

coltsblood ascending into shimmering darkness

After surviving the acquisition of Candlelight Records by Spinefarm, UK doom extremists Coltsblood return with their second album, Ascending into Shimmering Darkness, and follow-up 2014’s Into the Unfathomable Abyss (review here) with 54 minutes of concrete-thick atmospheric bleakness spread across five tracks. The headfuckery isn’t quite as unremitting as it was on the debut – a blend of airy and thick guitar in the intro of the opening title-cut (also the longest inclusion; immediate points) reminds of Pallbearer – but the three-piece thrive in this more-cohesive-overall context, and their lumbering miseries remain dark and triumphant in kind. A closing duo of “Ever Decreasing Circles” and “The Final Winter” also both top 12 and 13 minutes, respectively, but the shorter second track “Mortal Wound” brings blackened tendencies to the fore and centerpiece “The Legend of Abhartach” effectively leads the way from one side to the other. Still, the most complete victory here for bassist/vocalist John McNulty, guitarist Jemma McNulty and drummer Jay Plested might be “The Final Winter,” which melds its grueling, excruciatingly slow crash to overarching keyboard drama and becomes a work of cinematic depth as well as skull-crushing wretchedness. Such ambient growth fascinates and shows marked progression from their first offering, and even if the primary impression remains one from which no light escapes, don’t be fooled: Coltsblood are growing and are all the more dangerous for that.

Coltsblood on Thee Facebooks

Candlelight Records website

 

Rhino, The Law of Purity

rhino the law of purity

Once they get past the aptly-titled minute-long “Intro,” Rhino keep their foot heavy on the gas for the vast majority of The Law of Purity, their Argonauta Records debut album. The 10 included tracks veer into and out of pure desert rock loyalism – “Eat My Dust” comes across as particularly post-Kyuss, perhaps melded with some of the burl of C.O.C.’s “Shake Like You” – and the throttle of “Nuclear Space,” “Nine Months,” “A. & B. Brown” and “Cock of Dog” later on come to define the impression of straightforward push that puts the riffs forward even more than earlier inclusions like the post-“Intro” title-track or the more mid-paced “Bursting Out,” which hints at psychedelia without really ever fully diving into it. Capping with the roll of “I See the Monsters,” The Law of Purity reminds at times of earlier Astrosoniq – particularly in the vocals – but finds the Sicilian five-piece crafting solid heavy rock tunes that seem more concerned with having a couple beers and a good time than changing the world or remaking the genre. Nothing wrong with that.

Rhino on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity

cruthu the angle of eternity

As it happens, I wrote the bio and release announcement for Cruthu’s debut album, The Angle of Eternity (posted here), and I count guitarist “Postman Dan” McCormick as a personal friend, so if you’re looking for impartiality as regards the self-released six-tracker, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for primo trad doom and classic metal vibes, the Michigan-based four-piece offer touches of progressive flourish amid the shuffle of opener “Bog of Kildare,” a grueling post-“Crystal Ball” nod in “From the Sea” and a bit of ‘70s proto-metallurgy in the closing title-track, which finds vocalist Ryan Evans at his most commanding while McCormick, bassist Erik Hemingsen (Scott Lehman appears as well) and drummer Matt Fry hold together the fluid and patient groove of weighted downer metal. The sense of Cruthu as an outfit schooled in the style is palpable through the creep of “Lady in the Lake” and the post-Trouble chug of “Séance,” but they’re beginning to cast their own identity from their influences – even the penultimate interlude “Separated from the Herd” is part of it – and the dividends of that process are immediate in these tracks.

Cruthu on Thee Facebooks

Cruthu on Bandcamp

 

Spacetrucker, Launch Sequence

spacetrucker launch sequence

From the Kozik-style artwork of their cover to the blown-out vocals on opener “New Pubes” of guitarist Matt Owen, St. Louis three-piece Spacetrucker – how was there not already a band with this name? – make no bones about their intentions on their late-2016, 26-minute Launch Sequence seven-track EP. Owen, bassist Patrick Mulvaney and drummer Del Toro push into a realm of noise-infused stoner grunge loyal to the ‘90s execution of “Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop” in the stops of the instrumental “Giza” even as they thicken and dirty up their tonality beyond what Kyuss laid forth. The cowbell-inclusive “Science of Us” rests easily on Mulvaney’s tone and nods toward burl without going over the top, and cuts like “Old Flower,” the penultimate roller “Trenchfoot” and the closing post-Nirvana punker blast of “Ain’t Gonna be Me” reimagine a past in which the language of heavy rock was there to explain where grunge was coming from all along. Not looking to reinvent stylistic parameters in their image at this point, Spacetrucker is nonetheless the kind of band one might’ve run into at SXSW a decade and a half ago and been made a fan for life. As it stands, the charm is not at all lost.

Spacetrucker on Thee Facebooks

Spacetrucker on Bandcamp

 

Black Habit, Black Habit

black habit self titled

Clocking in at half an hour, the self-titled debut release from viola-infused Arizona two-piece Black Habit could probably qualify as an EP or an LP. I’m inclined to consider it the latter considering the depths vocalist/guitarist/bassist Trey Edwin and violist/drummer Emily Jean plunge in the five included tracks, starting with the longest of the bunch (immediate points) in the slow-moving “Escape into Infinity” before shifting the tempo upward for “Suffer and Succumb” and digging into deep-toned sludge marked out by consistently harsh vocals. I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Habit became more melodic or at least moved into cleaner shots over time, as the doomly centerpiece “South Beach” and more fuzz-rocking “Travel Across the Ocean” seem to want to head in that direction, but it’s hard to argue with the echoing rasp that accompanies the rumble and hairy tones of finale “Lust in the Dust,” as Black Habit’s Black Habit rounds out with an especially righteous nod. An intriguing, disaffected, and raw but potential-loaded opening salvo from a two-piece discovering where their sound might take them.

Black Habit on Thee Facebooks

Black Habit on Bandcamp

 

Stone Angels, Patterns in the Ashes

stone angels patterns in the ashes

Massive. Patterns in the Ashes is a malevolent, tectonic three-song EP following up on New Zealand trio Stone Angels’ 2011 debut, Within the Witch, as well as a few shorter live/demo offerings between, and it’s an absolute beast. Launching with the seven-minute instrumental “White Light, White Noise II” – indeed the sequel to a cut from the first album – it conjures a vicious nod and bleeds one song into the next to let “Signed in Blood” further unfold the grim atmospherics underscoring and enriching all that tonal heft. Sludge is the core style, but the Christchurch three-piece’s broader intentions come through with due volume on the grueling “Signed in Blood” and when “For the Glory of None” kicks in after its sample intro, the blasts and growls that it brings push the release to new levels of extremity entirely. As a bonus, the digital edition includes all three tracks put together as one longer, 21-minute piece, so the consuming flow between them can be experienced without any interruption, as it was seemingly meant to be.

Stone Angels on Thee Facebooks

Stone Angels on Bandcamp

 

Black Willows, Samsara

the black willows samsara

If Switzerland-based resonance rockers Black Willows had only released the final two tracks, “Jewel in the Lotus” and “Morning Star,” of their late-2016 second full-length, Samsara, one would still have to call it a complete album – and not just because those songs run 15 and 25 minutes long, respectively. Throughout those extended pieces and the four shorter cuts that appear before them, a palpable meditative sensibility emerges, and Black Willows follow-up the promise of 2013’s Haze (review here) by casting an even more immersive, deeper-toned vibe in the post-Om nod of “Sin” (8:08) and the more percussive complement, “Rise” (9:28), keeping a ritualized feel prevailing but not defining. From the lead-in title-track and the spacious psych trip-out of “Mountain” that gives way to the aforementioned extended closing duo, Black Willows find their key purpose in encompassing tonality and languid grooving. Nothing is overdone, nothing loses its patience, and when they get to the linear trajectory of “Morning Star,” the sense is they’re pushing as far out as far out will go. It’s a joy to follow them on that path.

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Bandcamp

 

Lamagaia, Lamagaia

lamagaia lamagaia

Anytime you’re at all ready to quit your job and explore the recesses of your mind via the ingestion of psychedelics, rituals and meditation, Sweden’s Lamagaia would seem to stand prepared to accompany. The Gothenburg four-piece offer two extended tracks of encouragement in that direction on their self-titled 12” (released through Cardinal Fuzz and Sunrise Ocean Bender), and both “Aurora” and “Paronama Vju” carry a heady spirit of kosmiche improvisation and classically progressive willfulness. They go, go, go. Far, far, far. Vocals echo out obscure but definitely there in post-The Heads fashion, but there’s Hawkwindian thrust in the fuzzed bass and drums driving the rhythm behind the howling guitar in “Aurora,” and that only sets up the peaceful stretch that the drones and expansive spaciousness of “Paronama Vju” finds across its 18:55 as all the more of an arrival. Immersive, hypnotic, all that stuff that means gloriously psychedelic, Lamagaia’s Lamagaia offers instrumental chemistry and range for anyone willing to follow along its resonant and ultra-flowing path. Count me in. I never liked working anyway.

Lamagaia website

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

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