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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Moon Rats Stream Title-Track of Debut Album Highway Lord out June 23

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on June 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

moon rats

I wouldn’t usually make this kind of call outright, but I’ll tell you right now that come December, Moon RatsHighway Lord will be on my list of the best debut albums of 2017. A position has already been secured for the Milwaukee five-piece, who’ll release the seven-song outing on tape June 23 through Gloss Records, thanks to their memorable songwriting, perfect pacing, rich tonality, and unpretentious, laid back vibes. Songs like “Heroic Dose,” “Highway Lord,” “The Hunter” and “Motor Sword” — hell, “Become the Smoke,” “The Dark Takes Hold” and “Overdose” too — land heavy but smooth and interplay between two guitars and keyboards let the band shift fluidly between epic-sounding heavy rock and classic psychedelia in a manner that undercuts the idea of Highway Lord as a debut album at all.

Somebody will make vinyl happen. It’s just a question of when. But take a listen to the premiere of Highway Lord‘s title-track at the bottom of this post to get yourself introduced in the meantime and I think you’ll find yourself just as inclined as I am to want to chase down that tape in the interim before a CD or LP shows up. One can always acquire formats as they surface — the important thing is not to miss out. So don’t.

Art, info and audio follow:

moon-rats-highway-lord

MOON RATS – Highway Lord

A collection of Milwaukee music-scene veterans have formed a new band, MOON RATS, and are stoked to announce the release of their debut album, HIGHWAY LORD. The band itself is an amalgamation of musicians from bands (Calliope, The Rashita Joneses, Sonic J, Myles Coyne) whose styles range wildly from folk to psych and stoner rock.

The album developed a sound which the band has dubbed ‘stoner-psych rat-metal for motorcycle enthusiasts’ as it took them through seven creeping and heavily fuzz-laden tracks, which follow the path of realization for the legendary hero, the Highway Lord.

HIGHWAY LORD will be released on a limited quantity of high-quality cassette tapes via GLOSS RECORDS on Friday, June 23rd.

Tracklisting:
1. Become the Smoke
2. The Dark Takes Hold
3. Heroic Dose
4. Highway Lord
5. Overdose
6. The Hunter
7. Motor Sword

MOON RATS will celebrate their release on Tuesday, June 27th at Cactus Club (2496 S. Wentworth ave. Milwaukee, WI) with THE WELL (Riding Easy Records) and Asatta.
Doors @ 9:00 PM // $8 // 21+

Moon Rats is:
Al Kraemer (Calliope) – vocals, rhythm guitar
Jeff Grabo – vocals, bass
Victor Buell – lead guitar
Myles Coyne – keys
Brendt Dondero – drums

https://www.facebook.com/MOONRATSmke/
https://moonratsmke.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/glossrecords/
http://www.glossrecords.us/

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Asatta Release Debut Album Spiraling into Oblivion Sept. 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

asatta

Milwaukee-based doomers Asatta have two EPs under their belt — a self-titled issued in 2013 and last year’s Songs from the Blood Moon — and will make their full-length debut on Sept. 2 via Burnout Planet Records with Spiraling into Oblivion. A nine-minute sampling of the band’s wares can be heard in the form of “She Died Long Ago” below, and it finds the band nestled into a post-Pallbearer kind of mournful take, but expanding on it with their own dark impulses and emotional sensibility. September is still a minute or two away, so it seems pretty safe to say “more to come” on this one, but if you, like me, are just getting introduced to the band, “She Died Long Ago” should serve as a fitting introduction.

Release show is Sept. 17 at The Metal Grill (formerly The Blue Pig) in Cudahy, Wisconsin. Album art and info follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

asatta spiraling into oblivion

ASATTA to release Spiraling Into Oblivion this September | Stream and share new song ‘She Died Long Ago’

Spiraling Into Oblivion will be released on 2nd September 2016 via Burnout Planet Records

Formed in late 2011 by drummer Neil Pech and joined shortly after by guitarist Jay Denzer, vocalist Sean Anderson and bassist Joe Arenas, Milwaukee’s Asatta are arguably one of doom metal’s best-kept secrets.

With two EPs currently to their name – 2013’s self-titled Asatta EP and last year’s excellent Songs For A Blood Moon – 2016 promises to bring about big things for the underground quintet.

Eschewing any temptation to simply rehash old material, Asatta instead chose to enter Howl Street Recording Studio in July 2015 with producer Shane Hochstetler to lay down a fresh batch of new tracks for their debut album Spiraling Into Oblivion. A devastatingly heavy collection of doom/stoner rock mantras, the final set was initially carved into completion via an extensive two-year period of road testing, playing live on countless bills with the likes of Spirit Caravan, Windhand, The Skull and Ufomammut.

Out of the mind-bending riffs and extended jam sessions, the band also drafted in newest member Kara Phillips to explore previously untapped dimensions in their apocalyptic sound. Using keys and synths to color the band’s desolate din in swathes of cosmic noise – best captured on standout tracks ‘She Died Long Ago’ and ‘Breath Of Kali’ – for those currently holding court in Doom’s busy kingdom, make no mistake that Asatta are out to challenge the throne.

Spiraling Into Oblivion is the band’s first full-length album and will be released via Burnout Planet Records on 2nd September 2016. Ahead of its official release stream and share new song ‘She Died Long Ago’ here – https://soundcloud.com/sheltered-life-pr/asatta-she-died-long-ago-burnout-planet/s-cYKRk
Asatta:

Sean Anderson – Vocals
Joe Arenas – Bass
Neil Pech – Drums
Jay Denzer – Guitar
Kara Phillips – Keyboards

Asatta Live:
21st July – Frank’s Power Plant (w. Druids) – Milwaukee, WI
28th July – Frank’s Power Plant (w. Castle, Brimstone Coven, and Nadoula) – Milwaukee, WI
9th August – Cactus Club (w. Caustic Casanova) – Milwaukee, WI
20th August – Firewalk Threadz Fashion Show at The Metal Grill – Cudahy, WI
16th September – The Wisco (w. Blunt, Order Of The Jackal, and Cosmic Relic) – Madison, WI
17th September – OFFICIAL ALBUM RELEASE PARTY at The Metal Grill – Cudahy, WI

https://www.facebook.com/asattadoom/
http://asatta2.bandcamp.com/releases
https://twitter.com/asattadoom

Asatta, “She Died Long Ago”

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Moon Curse, Spirit Remains: Noble Pursuits (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

moon curse spirit remains

[Please note: Click play above to stream Moon Curse’s Spirit Remains in full. It’s out Nov. 28 on Kozmik Artifactz. Thanks to the band and label for letting me host the premiere. EDIT: Stream has since expired, replaced with Bandcamp player.]

When it comes to a record like Spirit Remains, one of the aspects easiest to appreciate is its honesty. Milwaukee trio Moon Curse make their intentions as plain and up-front as they possibly can over the course of their sophomore outing’s five tracks/42 minutes: They want to pummel and they want to do it with riffs. The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Matt Leece, bassist/vocalist Rochelle Nason and drummer/synth-specialist Keith Stendler (as of this post, Matt Presutti, who also designed the Spirit Remains cover, may join/has joined as a second guitarist, but they are a trio on the record) issued their self-titled debut in 2012 and sold through multiple pressings both independent and through Kozmik Artifactz, which also stands behind the follow-up. Both full-lengths share largely the same mission, but Moon Curse clearly took some lessons from their debut, and these songs find them sounding massive, professional and confident in their ability to complete the task at hand, and though it has stretches that slow to an absolute crawl like that preceding the galloping finale of closer “Witches Handbook,” there’s more nuance to their approach than it might at first seem.

That fact shows itself in the vocal arrangements between Leece and Nason on “Vicious Sky,” the layered soloing on the preceding side-B opener “Lord of Memories/Spirit Remains,” the added psychedelic flourish that the tambura of Andrew Shelp (Moss Folk) lends to “Electric Veins” or even the marching pace that opener “Beneath the Waves” sets and the spaciousness of its riffing and leads. Yes, Moon Curse want to cave your head in, and with the help of the recording/mixing job Nolan Treolo does (Tony Reed mastered), they just might get there, but while heft is at the core of their purposes, it does not comprise the entirety thereof. Rather, while their nod and grooving largesse definitely puts them in the post-Sleep riff-led milieu, it’s the distinguishing elements of sonic personality throughout that provide the band’s most memorable impressions, whether that’s Leece howling upward from under the riffs of “Beneath the Waves” or the quick turns of chug in “Vicious Sky.”

As was the case when I was fortunate enough to see them play live in 2013, a major factor in driving home their plodding, stomping, running groove — whichever it might be at any given moment — is Stendler‘s drumming. At no point on the record is he putting on a clinic, technically-speaking, but from the first ride hits in the quiet intro of “Beneath the Waves” through to the rampaging toms at the apex conclusion of “Witches Handbook,” he is persistently in the right place at the right time to bolster the work of Leece and Nason and make the most of the material at hand. The album breaks into two sides, though not evenly, and both offer rolling or driving rhythms, and the fullness of sound that a seemingly persistent wash of cymbals provides is never too far from the forefront of the album’s heavier moments. Still, it is the riffs in the lead, and that is true even as “Beneath the Waves” breaks from its initial rollout to a section of layered psychedelic leads, backed by Nason‘s resonant bass tone on an extended instrumental excursion marked out by minor-key twists tossed in before the eventual return to the central verse riff and the echoing shouts that cut through it.

moon curse (Photo by Luke Mouradian)

The aforementioned tambura does much to flesh out “Electric Veins,” but a slower tempo overall adds to the spaciousness as well, and shows immediate breadth coming after “Beneath the Waves,” even if it does return to a lumber more consistent with the opener before breaking into a subdued section of crashes and watery vocals that one just knows is setting up something huge. The drums pick up their pace on returning and push past a halfway point into a short but engaging solo and the eventual return of the verse for another cycle through, trading between Om, Sleep and High on Fire influences before finding itself in a more distinct solo section and the consuming cap of its near-11-minute span and that of side A as a whole. It is a finish worthy of the weight preceding.

Its march takes a little longer to unfold, but there’s plenty of room for a hypnotic intro in the 11:26 runtime of side B opener “Lord of Memories/Spirit Remains,” which ultimately lands on a janga-janga riff for its central figure, Nason and Leece coming together on vocals as it marches past its midsection at a not-at-all hurried clip and into the already-noted solo section, which is followed by howling and crashes that finish out before what one presumes is the split between the first and second parts of its title. “Spirit Remains,” then, comprises the last two minutes of the track in a subdued acoustic break topped with quiet psychedelic vocals, wind sounds or manipulated amp noise taking hold near the end as a ringing bell marks the transition into the feedback-soaked opening of “Vicious Sky,” which is the shortest song on Spirit Remains at 5:03 and a chugging riff that gets married with some post-Baroness shouts to engrossing effect.

Perhaps the most encouraging portion of the track is toward its finish, however, when the drums, guitars, bass and vocals all align to move into a section of washing leads and repeated nod for about the last 50 seconds or so. It seems to bring the various sides of Moon Curse‘s approach together in a way that, if it went on for another two minutes, I wouldn’t argue, but one can only fit so much on a single platter. A direct bleed brings about the quiet but tense beginning of “Witches Handbook,” which bursts open shortly after the two-minute mark for a drawling verse and goes on to recede and swell again before shifting into the galloping ending section, a touch of Morricone thrown in for good measure as Stendler‘s snare matches step with the guitar, which closes out on a solo and relative lack of fanfare as if to tease a sequel already in the making. Given the three years it took for Spirit Remains to surface after Moon Curse, I wouldn’t be surprised if one is, but either way, what the band accomplishes across these tracks is worth more than a passing glance en route to the next thing. The converted will have a deeper appreciation for its preachings, but Spirit Remains gets its point across one way or another.

Moon Curse on Thee Facebooks

Moon Curse on Bandcamp

Moon Curse at Kozmik Artifactz

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Moon Curse: New Album Spirit Remains Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 12th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

moon-curse

You can hear “Beneath the Waves,” the first track of Moon Curse‘s upcoming second album, Spirit Remains, below. It’s pretty fucking awesome. I’m not going to attempt to sell you on it, but if you’re into big nodding grooves, spaced out atmospheres and riffs with tectonic intentions, you’d probably be doing yourself a favor in digging in. Spirit Remains will be the follow-up to Moon Curse‘s 2012 self-titled debut, which has been through several vinyl pressings at this point. Those have been both independent and through Kozmik Artifactz, and it’s the latter label which will issue the new record later this month.

Preorders are up now, and as you can see, limited numbers and all that for the first go-round. The PR wire had it like this:

moon-curse-spirit-remains

Three years after their epic self titled debut Milwaukee’s finest doom-trio ‘Moon Curse’ return stronger than ever!

On six tracks the trio shows all their trademarks with enormous power – the listener can feel the pain and blood the band undertook to create this album dripping out of the needle‘s groove. Moon Curse’s vision of doom oscillates from traditional Sabbathian riffs over lava-like electric wizard slowlyness to up-tempo grooves that high on fire could not have played better. This mixture is pure magic and will put a spell on you!

You know it! You love it! So… GET CURSED!

Recorded and engineered by Nolan Treolo
Mastered by Tony Reed
Cover art and layout by Matt Presutti.

Matt Leece: Guitars & Vocals’
Rochelle Nason: Bass & Vocals
Keith Stendler: Drums & Synths

Available as CD, MC & limited vinyl

VINYL FACTZ
– 166x Blue marbled White
(numbered MAILORDER
version)
– 150x black
– 200x transparent red
– Plated & pressed on high
performance vinyl in germany
– Matt laquered 300gsm
gatefold Cover
– Special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
A1. Beneath the waves 7:03
A2. Electric Veins 10:56

B1. Lord of Memories /
B2. Spirit remains 11:29
B3. Vicious sky 5:04
B4. Witches’ Handbook 7:55

http://www.mooncurse.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Mooncurseband/
Moon Curse at Kozmik Artifactz

Moon Curse, Spirit Remains (2015)

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Last Licks 2014: Seven that Spells, Elliott’s Keep, The Lone Crows, Krautzone, L’Ira del Baccano, Lae, Atomikylä, Deaf Proof, Jastreb and Arctic Sleep

Posted in Reviews on January 1st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

I thought last night about changing the name of this feature to “First Licks 2015,” but on further reflection, that’s just too much licking. It’s bad enough as it is. All the same, Happy New Year to you and yours, wherever you and they may be. I hope in 2015, your reviews pile never gets so backed up that you think about doing something so absolutely insane as tackling them all at once to wipe the slate clean. Then again, being completely inundated with music has its upsides. The music, for one.

We press on today with the fourth installment in the “Last Licks 2014” series. These are reviews 31-40. I passed the halfway point yesterday with barely so much as an inward breath to appreciate the moment, and I can only hope the pile of discs before me goes so smoothly. I’ll let you know when I get there. Until then, no need to dally, let’s get underway with the first reviews of 2015.

Thanks for reading:

Seven that Spells, The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: Io

seven that spells the death and resurrection of krautrock io

Reportedly second in a series of three albums from Croatian heavy psych rockers Seven that Spells, The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: Io follows a first installment subtitled Aum released in 2011 and brings forth heady, mostly instrumental progressions of extended runtimes and a satisfying blend of weighted tones and stylistic clarity. The three-piece who released their first album in 2003 alternate between three shorter pieces and two longer ones across the 47-minute Sulatron Records outing’s five tracks, and while I’m not entirely sure what is the narrative that’s taking place across them, there’s definitely a plotted course and concept at work behind the material – it does not come across as haphazard in any way. When they arrive, vocals do so as chants coinciding with sweeping passages, as on “Burning Blood,” the culmination of which is worthy of being the apex of a trilogy in progress. Io takes the off-the-cuff authenticity in heavy psych and gives it direction and purpose beyond simply being. No small feat, no small results.

Seven that Spells on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records

Elliott’s Keep, Nascentes Morimur

elliott's keep nascentes morimur

Some metal isn’t doom, some doom isn’t metal, but Texas trio Elliott’s Keep play doom metal, and make no mistake. Their third long-player, Nascentes Morimur, comes after 2008’s In Medias Res (review here) and 2010’s Sine Qua Non (review here), and like them, it was produced and mixed by J.T. Longoria, so that their darkened, metallic chugging is presented with a crisp bite. The three-piece of Kenneth Greene (bass/vocals), Jonathan Bates (guitar) and Joel Bates (drums) toy with the balance between death and doom effectively across Nascentes Morimur’s nine tracks, making highlights of early moments like the double-kick-laden “Now Taken” and the chorus of the proceeding “Days of Hell.” Later cuts like “Tale of Grief” and “Omen” follow suit, with Jonathan riffing out classic metal vibes while Greene switches between clean singing and a rasping, almost black metal in places, scream. Their command never wavers, though, and while there have never been many frills about their approach, Elliott’s Keep have come to offer a fist-pumpingly heavy, sharp-edged push.

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Elliott’s Keep on Bandcamp

The Lone Crows, Dark Clouds

the lone crows dark clouds

Bluesy Minneapolis double-guitar four-piece The Lone Crows show an affinity for classic rock stylization on their World in Sound second full-length, Dark Clouds. Produced modern, with lead guitar front and center, there’s more rock to Dark Clouds than heavy rock, but the vocal style of guitarist Tim Barbeau – joined in the band by guitarist Julian Manzara, bassist Andy Battcher and drummer Joe Goff – has some ‘90s inflection to it, and every now and then they get into a bit of bounce, as on the title-track and “The Dragon.” The penultimate “Midnight Show” would seem like the peak of the album, and sure enough it has one of its best hooks, but the recording doesn’t allow for the same push one imagines the material would carry live, and the quiet ending of “On that Day” feels flat compared to some of The Lone Crows’ bluesy peers. I chalk it up to the difference between blues rock and heavy rock and my own expectations, rather than some fault in the band.

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World in Sound

Krautzone, Kosmiche Rituale

krautzone kosmiche rituale

I’m not sure if it would be appropriate to call Krautzone an offshoot of Zone Six, of which all four members – guitarist Rainer Neeff, synth-providers Modulfix and Sula Bassana, and percussionist Komet Lulu (the latter two also of Electric Moon) – take part, plus bassist Onkel Kaktus, but either way, the sound is nebulous, brilliantly textured for a meditative, slow-motion churn, and utterly engrossing. Their Sulatron debut, Kosmiche Rituale, is comprised of three lengthy explorations, tones washing in and out of each, smoothly offset by Neeff’s flight-taken guitar, minimal but earthy percussion and an improvised sensibility. “Liebe” (12:46) and “Kosmiche Rituale” (9:09) comprise side A and “Only Fools Rush In” (20:41) consumes side B entirely, a wash of synth and cymbals announcing its arrival as it sets about unfolding its long course, every bit living up to the album’s title in the process. Krautzone also released a split with Lamp of the Universe in 2014 (review here), but on their own, they shine with the chance to really stretch out.

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Sulatron Records

L’Ira del Baccano, Terra 42

l'ira del baccano terra 42

Italian instrumentalists L’Ira del Baccano make their full-length debut with the lushly conceived Terra 42, a six-track, 57-minute outing that works in three overarching “phases.” The first of them includes tracks one through three and is dubbed “The Infinite Improbability Drive,” and it makes up more than half the album’s runtime, the first, 13-minute part standing alone while the two subsequent nine-minute stretches feed one directly into the next in a psychedelic wash of open guitar building to a raucous heavy rock finish. Phase II, “Sussurri… Nel Bosco di Diana” is the next two cuts, and moves smoothly from a Yawning Man-style jam to more riff-based thickness. The longest individual part, Phase III, is the 14-minute “Volcano X13,” track six, on which the band move fluidly through their heavy psych and rock impulses, synth and guitar intertwining well as L’Ira del Baccano affirm their more-than-burgeoning stylistic breadth. It’s an interesting, somewhat familiar blend, but they put it to good use on Terra 42 and engage with the spaciousness created.

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Subsound Records

Lae, Break the Clasp

lae break the clasp

Reactivated Montreal noisemakers Lae enlisted the help of their producer, Today is the Day’s Steve Austin, in handling lead vocals for their debut, Break the Clasp, which is a move fitting for their anti-genre approach to noise, drone, doom, post-everything, and so on. A Battleground Records/The Compound release, Break the Clasp reworks unheard material from Lae’s original run in the mid-‘90s – an album that never came out, essentially – but the vitality in the 13 tracks (yes, even the crushingly slow ones) is fresh to the point of its newness, and even the parts meant to be abrasive, opener “Sexy Sadie” or pieces of “17 Queen,” for example, hold onto a wonderful depth the mix and a feeling of texture that feeds Break the Clasp’s otherworldly spirit and brings you along its path of consuming strangeness. Austin is a presence, but by no means the star, and the whole band Lae shines across Break the Clasp’s fascinating span. A debut no one knew they were awaiting, but they were.

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Earsplit Distro

Atomikylä, Erkale

atomikyla erkale

Psychedelia implying such a colorful sound, and black metal implying essentially the absence of that color, the two have rarely been paired well, but Finnish four-piece Atomikylä display a resounding space on their five-song debut full-length, Erkale (released by Future Lunch), and they’re not through the 13-minute opener, “Aluaineet,” before I think they might have mastered the balance between effects wash, unmitigated thrust and far-back screaming that most others have left too far to one side or the other. The four-piece with a lineup half from Oranssi Pazuzu and half from Dark Buddha Rising don’t stay in one place stylistically – the title-track has an almost krautrock feel, while the subsequent “Ihmiskallo” is more resolved to doom – but they keep a consistency of blinding bleakness to Erkale that results in a decidedly individualized feel throughout the 48 minutes. Droning and jazzy guitar experimentalism prevails in “Who Goes There,” and 10-minute closer “Musta Kulta” both broadens the atmosphere and underscores Atomikylä’s vicious stylistic triumph, capping Erkale with a mash of squibblies and screams, effects and distortion that’s so filthy it can’t help but be beautiful.

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Future Lunch

Deaf Proof, Death Sounds Angry

deaf proof death sounds angry

Freiburg, Germany, trio Deaf Proof – guitarist/vocalist J. Fredo, bassist JP and drummer Pedro – released their first demo in 2013, but the three-song/34-minute EP (it’s more like an album, but I won’t argue) Death Sounds Angry is a decidedly more assured, professional affair. The vibe is loose and, in the reaches of 18-minute middle cut “Origin of Pain,” jammy, but the three-piece still seem to have some idea of where they want their material to go, even as they feel their way toward those ends. A Colour Haze influence? Maybe, but less than one might think given the current climate of European heavy psych. JP’s bass has a tendency toward darker undertones, and when they hit the payoffs for “Death Sounds Angry and Hungry for More,” “Origin of Pain” and “The Sense,” they reveal themselves to be in search of something heavier and less peaceful. J. Fredo’s vocals are a little forward in the mix, but Death Sounds Angry still offers plenty to chew on for the converted.

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Deaf Proof on Bandcamp

Jastreb, Mother Europe

jastreb mother europe

Progressive, mostly instrumental and hypnotic, Zagreb, Croatia, trio Jastreb released their self-titled debut as a single 36-minute song in 2012, and the follow-up, Mother Europe (on HauRucK), is no less ambitious. Vocals appear here and there, both from the core three-piece and a guest spot, but the heart of what Jastreb do is rooted in their ability to craft movements that pull listeners in without falling into lulls of unconsciousness – to wit, the repetitions of “The Black Mountain” seem still but are constantly building and moving forward – as well as in arrangement flourishes like synth, Hammond, sitar and violin among the shades of post-metal in “Haemmer” or the bleary, drone-backed opener “North,” which comes companioned by the subtle churn of “South” to end the album. Not necessarily psychedelic in a loose or jammy sense, but immersive, and purposeful in its variety; the sitar and guest vocals on “The Silver Spire” arrive just at the moment when one thinks they might have heard it all. Could say the same of the record itself, I suppose.

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Jastreb’s BigCartel store

HauRucK

Arctic Sleep, Passage of Gaia

arctic sleep passage of gaia

Passage of Gaia is the sixth album from progressive melo-doomers Arctic Sleep. A four-piece from Milwaukee including bassist/drummer/cellist/vocalist Keith D, guitarist Mike Gussis and vocalist Emily Jancetic (John Gleisner plays drums live), one is reminded both of the Floydian consciousness of mid-period Anathema (my go-to comparison point for this kind of stuff, admittedly) and the drama in Katatonia and some of Novembers Doom’s clean sections, but ultimately, Arctic Sleep emerge from the eight-track/54-minute DIY long-player with their own personality, measured out in the careful vocal collaboration between Keith D and Jancetic, songs like “Terra Vindicta,” “Green Dragon” and “Passage of Gaia,” and the varied structures between the more rocking “Terra Vindicta” and the build of “Solar Lament.” Through it all, nothing’s out of balance, and Arctic Sleep execute Passage of Gaia with the poise demanded by the style and the fact that it’s their sixth album, accomplishment suiting them as well as the melancholy of closer “Destroy the Urn,” which almost loses its restraint at the end. Almost.

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Arctic Sleep at CDBaby

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Moon Curse Self-Titled LP Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 13th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

moon curse

Riff monger three-piece Moon Curse first came to my attention at Days of the Doomed last year, delivering more than solid stoner march and deeply weighted groove. Their self-titled debut full-length was originally self-released in 2012, and the band has been through two pressings (there are still a couple copies left of the second at their Bandcamp) up to this point and no doubt soon enough the third will be gone as well, with Bilocation Records stepping in to get behind the release for a European audience. Of all the records I regret not buying at that fest, theirs just about tops the list, but I’ve drowned my sorrows numerous times in the stream of the album, which now includes the bonus track “Seminary Woods,” included for your perusal here.

Good band. They’re about due for a follow-up, but I’m glad to see this record getting some attention with the Bilocation issue, about which you can find more info below, courtesy of the PR wire:

moon curse moon curse

MOON CURSE – Moon curse LP

Beneath the faded light of Milwaukee’s infamous “polish moon” clock tower (a structure built for the sole intent of dominating the night sky and the view of it’s immigrant residents), three bleary eyed mystics brew stoner hymns dedicated to baphomet bongsmoke, Pontiac muscle and 70’s rock n’ rollers. following a DOOMED path, tred by true HEAVY fanatics before them, a path that will always remain for those dedicated to the riff; MOON CURSE walk with intent to play loud and proud! Keith bangs the drums, Rochelle strums the Squier P bass, and Matt breaks Orange amplifiers and howls. One could cite Sabbath (duh!), Zeppelin, or a handful of other protometal-fuzz-stoner-whatever-rock as influnces, but you get the idea! You know it! You love it! So … GET CURSED!

VINYL FACTZ
-100x white w/ green (EXCLUSIVE MAILORDER edition)
-200x clear w/ white
-Plated & pressed on high-performance 180g vinyl
-pressed in Germany
-matt laquered 300gsm gatefold cover
-Artwork by Vincent Zager
-handnumbered
-especially mastered for vinyl
-incl. bonus track

TRACKS
A1. Medicinecoma 5:42
A2. Northern High 7:11
A3. Seminary Woods 9:10 (BONUS TRACK!)
B1. Brontis 5:43
B2. Chandra 2:05
B3. Black Elk 8:45

http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Mooncurseband/
http://mooncurse.bandcamp.com/

Moon Curse, “Seminary Woods”

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The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Sleestak, Live at the Cactus Club

Posted in Radio on December 27th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

One thing about Wisconsin progressive doomers Sleestak: You never quite know what they’re going to do next. This minute, they’re putting out a pro-studio EP like earlier 2013’s Book of Hours (review here) and the next they’re giving a behind-the-scenes insight into their processes with something like last year’s Altrusian Moon collection of rehearsal recordings that followed their 2011 full-length, The Fall of Altrusia (review here). To their credit, they’re both prolific in their output and varied in what they issue, sonically and methodologically, and their latest outing, Live at the Cactus Club, is no different. Released just yesterday as a post-Xmas holiday special and made available for a pay-what-you-want download through the Milwaukee outfit’s Bandcamp, the four-track offering checks in at well over two hours of material.

Included in the download — in addition to the cover, of course — are two complete shows from the titular venue in the Bay View section of Milwaukee. The first took place Oct. 4, 2013, and the second Nov. 15. There are two audio sources for the Oct.  4 show, which makes the release even more fascinating, and the whole thing is rounded out with a 33-minute rehearsal-space recording from early in September. Four tracks, all over half an hour long. While one might think that’d put Live at the Cactus Club right into not-for-the-faint-of-heart territory, the psychedelic explorations they get up to in the Oct. 4 show and the natural vibe that persists throughout make it such that Sleestak even at their heaviest are hypnotic in their psychedelia. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Matt Schmitz gets into some growling after the ultra-patient build that starts the set, but even then, it’s easy to get lost in the track, and the whole thing unfolds so naturally that before you know it, they’ve heavy-jammed their way past the 30-minute mark, ebbing and flowing, staying mostly instrumental, but never losing a sense of progression.

The second audio source of the Oct. 4 show has crowd noise, which probably means it’s an audience recording and not the direct feed from the soundboard, but it’s interesting to hear the differences between them anyway, and though the Nov. 15 show at the Cactus Club was nearly five minutes shorter, it follows a similar instrumental flow. I don’t know if the difference in timing means the parts are improvised on or at least stretched out and random, but the jam is no less immersive a month later as it’s presented here. In its heavier parts, the rehearsal room version of the same material comes across as a little blown out, but that’s bound to happen with that kind of thing, and in any case, it’s up there with the soundboard source of the Oct. 4 show in being the best presentation of the work itself, whether it’s all intended to be one song or smaller individual pieces just put together here for the ease of being released as a whole. If you told me it was one 30-plus-minute song, I wouldn’t argue there was anything to stop it from being one, since the smoothness of the transitions and the ease with which Sleestak execute it are such that it works well on that level. I might, however, ask what it’s called.

Presumably these things will be revealed in due time, and until then, to have four probably-formative versions here on Live at the Cactus Club follows suit with Altrusian Moon in giving some transparency to the creativity at work within the band’s songwriting. I won’t dare predict where Sleestak might be headed after this, but it seems likely we haven’t heard the last of this jam.

Check out Sleestak‘s Live at the Cactus Club now as part of the 24/7 streaming rotation of The Obelisk Radio and get a sampling from the Bandcamp player below:

Sleestak, Live at the Cactus Club (2013)

Sleestak on Bandcamp

Sleestak on Thee Facebooks

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