Inner Altar Premiere “Pagan Rays | Numbered Days”; Debut LP Vol. III out Jan. 18

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

inner altar

Kansas City doom rockers Inner Altar will release their deceptively numbered debut album, Vol. III, through The Company later this month. It is the third release from the five-piece outfit, preceded by two demo/EP outings similarly titled in succession. The full-length taps into a cave-echoed classic doom vibe, not such distant kin from some of what’s come in recent years from Scandinavian acts like Dunbarrow and Demon Head, or even some US practitioners like Magic Circle, but with elements of garage doom roughness to their riffing as well that help to push them into their own territory. To wit, the grueling rollout of “Pagan Rays | Numbered Days” and the chants of the near-seven-minute eponymous closer cast a particularly darkened aspect to the atmosphere that adds depth to the acoustic/electric ’70s doom-folk shuffle of “Undine’s Kiss” earlier. Wailing vocals add a distinctly proro-metallic vibe to the lyrical declarations, and an overriding naturalism to the production — not necessarily worshiping the vintage, but shooting at least for a live feel — only make that vibe more believable.

The touchstone in terms of aesthetics is of course Pentagram‘s First Daze Here material, but neither are the lessons of formative acolytes like Witchcraft lost on Inner Altar, and while we’re talking about Altars, there might be a bit of Pagan Altar‘s pre-NWOBHM style of heavy happening in the crunch and atmosphere of “Castle Storm” as well, the centerpiece pulling back from some of the immediacy of the post-intro opener “For the Gods to Swear By,” which kicks off Vol. III at a relative rush while prefacing some more of the progressive sensibilities of the band in a departure to minimal classic guitar in its second half — the two sides of its personality both proving as crucial to setting up the rest of what follows as the bass tone that leads back into the thrust. That’s not to take away from the impact either of the serenely-strummed “Intro” itself, the quiet and somewhat understated feel of which informs even the straight-ahead thickened-tone roll of the penultimate “Dethroned and Fugitive,” another sub-four-minute rocker that instead of progging out as does “For the Gods to Swear By,” goes the opposite way and kicks into another level of push.

That would seem to leave cuts like “Lives of Fire” and “Mother Eternity” with the task of establishing some middle ground, and the former, which is particularly memorable and which served as a pre-release single (with a video you can see at the bottom of this post), does just that while “Mother Eternity” takes notable command of the more doomed persona with fluid shifts in volume and room for a bit of Witchcraftian flute-ish sounds, though it could just as easily be keys at work there. All told, the record is a clean nine tracks (with intro) and 38 minutes that culminates in suitably dug-in fashion with “Inner Altar” itself, the band drawing together multiple sides of their sound to finish with a fitting representation of their overarching atmospheric intent. Along with the clarity of their stylistic vision — that is, the fact that they know what they want to sound like — the subtly progressive aspects of Vol. III represent Inner Altar well in terms of potential avenues for future growth, but as in the best of cases, that shouldn’t discount what they already bring in terms of songwriting, which only seems to grow in esteem with subsequent listens.

I’m thrilled today to be able to host the premiere of “Pagan Rays | Numbered Days” ahead of the album’s release. You can listen to the track below, followed by some words from the band and more info from the PR wire, including the preorder link for Vol. III. Please enjoy:

Lord Rewcifer on “Pagan Rays | Numbered Days”:

“Pagan Rays. This track is like when the pagan gods plotted the destruction of the human race for giving birth to judeo-christian thought which in turn destroyed them. Suicide is no longer a sin, it is your rite! And they will take us any way they can. Your prayers can’t save you and don’t bother running. Alright! Cheers and Hails!”

Inner Altar hails from very near the center of the US, in Kansas City, MO. Middle of the map. Consisting of friends who came up in the underground midwest punk/hc community who’ve always had an affinity for the classic doom sounds of the early 70’s, Inner Altar was born in 2015. With 2 demo Volumes completed and a some push from Kansas City based record label, The Company, Inner Altar began work on self recording and producing their first LP, Vol III, at the beginning of 2018.

Fast forward to the end of the year and Inner Altar is ready to release their hard work. 9 stand apart tracks of classic doom love with their midwestern land locked twist. Lives Of Fire, the first single from Vol III, has been released Dec 21st and vinyl be preordered through The Company’s website starting Dec 22nd. The official release for the album is January 18th, 2019. The album will be available on black, gold, and blood/bone.

Side A:
Prelude
For the Gods to Swear By
Lives of Fire
Undine’s Kiss
Castle Storm

Side B:
Pagan Rays | Numbered Days
Mother Eternity
Dethroned & Fugitive
Inner Altar

Inner Altar is:
Seasnake
Tunx
SSDB
Rewchild
Long Feather

Inner Altar, “Lives of Fire” official video

Inner Altar on Thee Facebooks

Inner Altar on Bandcamp

The Company webstore

The Company on Instagram

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Quarterly Review: Blood of the Sun, Evoken, IAH, Asylum, Merlin, The Hazytones, Daily Thompson, Old Man Lizard, Tuskar, Space Coke

Posted in Reviews on December 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I had to think long and hard just now about what day it is. It’s Tuesday. — See how confident I was in saying that? A mask for insecurity, as always.

Anyway, the QR continues today with 10 more records and a pretty solid mix of whatnot. Some of this I’ve written about before here, but basically want to have another shot at the records themselves, so as we wind down 2018, it seems like the time to do that is now. As always, I hope you find something you dig. Seems pretty likely, frankly. If you go the entire 100 records with nothing but a “meh” to show for it, the problem isn’t likely to be the records. Not trying to insinuate anything, I’m just saying. 100 records is a lot. 10 records is a lot. And that’s what we’re doing today, so let’s get going.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Blood of the Sun, Blood’s Thicker than Love

blood of the sun bloods thicker than love

Drummer Henry Vasquez (also Saint Vitus) returns to his ultra-Texan heavy rock roots with Blood of the Sun‘s first album in six years, Blood’s Thicker than Love (on Listenable). Driven by his own fervent rhythmic push, the six-song collection is given further classic heavy vibe through the prominent organ/keyboard work of Dave Gryder. Oh, and also the riffs from newcomer guitarists Wyatt Burton and Alex Johnson. Oh, and also bassist Roger “Kip” Yma‘s quick turns on bass. Oh, and also Sean Vargas‘ vocals. So yeah, pretty much the whole damn thing is classic uptempo heavy boogie, produced modern but making no mistake about where its heart lies. Vargas‘ voice has a pre-metal swagger that helps define tracks like “Livin’ for the Night” and the capper “Blood of the Road,” and while the follow-up to 2012’s Burning on the Wings of Desire (review here) is enough to make one wistful for the days when their contemporaries in Dixie Witch once also roamed the land, Blood of the Sun make classic rock their own and give it a vibrancy that’s nothing if not a show of love, regardless of how thick that may be.

Blood of the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Listenable Records on Bandcamp

 

Evoken, Hypnagogia

evoken hypnogogia

Unremitting. Unrelenting. Unforgiving. Whatever else one might say about New Jersey death/doombringers Evoken, it better start with the prefix “un-.” The negativity runs through the 60 minutes of their latest work, Hypnagogia (on Profound Lore), and one would expect no less than the ultra-mournful crush of “To Feign Ebullience” or the buzzing, resonant disdain of “Valorous Consternation,” the string sounds playing such a large role in crafting both the melodies and the relentless nature of their lung-deflating atmosphere. They may only break into speedier sections on rare occasion, but there’s no way to listen to Hypnagogia and call it anything other than extreme metal. It’s so cast down and so grinding that it not only conveys mood but affects it. Evoken are masters of the form, of course, and while Hypnagogia is their first full-length since 2012’s Atra Mors (review here), their history spans more than a quarter-century and time seems only to have made their miseries plunge even deeper.

Evoken on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

IAH, II

iah ii

In part, the gift that Argentinian trio IAH give with their aptly-titled second outing, II — following their 2017 self-titled debut EP (review here) — is to allow their parts to flesh out naturally across the six-song/38-minute span, so that even as second cut “HH” turns to more weighted chug, that in turn evolves into something no less spacious than the drift brought to bear in the second half of the later “La Niña del Rayo,” which makes its way ultimately through similar interplay. This back and forth is exceptionally smooth throughout II, as the instrumental outfit blend heavy psychedelia and progressive metal with an unflinching cohesion of their songwriting. The longest inclusion is the penultimate “Pri” at 7:35, which caps with massive start-stops en route to closer “Sheut,” which serves as one last showcase of the cosmic doom dynamic burgeoning in the band’s sound, as much ready to depart the earth as leave impact craters on it.

IAH on Thee Facebooks

IAH on Bandcamp

 

Asylum, 3-3-88

asylum 3-3-88

The band who a short time later would evolve into Unorthodox, Asylum have long stood as a testament to the enduring power of Maryland doom. 3-3-88 is the second official issue of their material Shadow Kingdom has stood behind, following 2008’s reissue of 1985’s The Earth is the Insane Asylum of the Universe (review here), and it’s no less a document of the classic metal that’s still very much the foundation of what Maryland doom is. From the Sabbathian opening of “World in Trouble” and the later “Psyche World” to the kind of feeling-out-the-riff happening in “Funk 69” and the concluding instrumental “Unorthodox,” there’s a rawness to the sound that suits it well in the spirit of Pentagram‘s First Daze Here, but even in barebones form, Asylum‘s doomly vibes brook no bullshit and weed out the feint of heart. Straightforward working-class doom grit stripped to its essentials. Hard to ask for anything more when you actually hear it.

Unorthodox on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Merlin, Dank Souls and Dark Weed: A Live Experience

merlin dank souls and dark weed

Kansas City doom rockers Merlin expanded to a six-piece early in 2018, and Dank Souls and Dark Weed: A Live Experience, as the title hints, captures this form of the band on stage. They’re playing a hometown gig at the Riot Room, and from the nodding groove that opens with “Abyss” from this year’s The Wizard (review here) to the extended reaches of a 19-minute take on “Tales of the Wasteland” that’s actually shorter than the studio version from 2016’s Electric Children (review here), the band explore reaches that are vast with a patience befitting their quickly-earned veteran status. The recording is remarkably clear and allows for the wash of “The Wizard Suite” to be discernible in its progressive rollout, and as they close with “Night Creep” from the 2016 LP, their energy comes through no less prevalent than the distortion driving it forward. The crowd are right to holler.

Merlin on Thee Facebooks

Merlin on Bandcamp

 

The Hazytones, II: Monarchs of Oblivion

the hazytones ii monarchs of oblivion

Touching on garage-doom influences, Montreal three-piece The Hazytones effectively sleek into the groove of “The Great Illusion” on their second Ripple LP, II: Monarchs of Oblivion, finding a balance between swing, melody and heft that pushes beyond the seemingly-requisite Uncle Acid influence to a place that isn’t shy about working in crisp tones or unabashed vocal harmonies. The title-track is a two-parter, and touches on theatrics-sans-pretense in the first piece while dedicating the second to following a central riff well worthy of the attention they give it toward a galloping solo finish. Opener “Empty Space” sets a creper vibe, and by the time they’re down to finishing out with the “Hole in the Sky”-style riff of “The Hand that Feeds,” that sensibility is reaffirmed as an essential component of The Hazytones‘ aesthetic. Whether it’s the chugging “Hell” or the way-blown-out “The Beast,” they hold firm to that central purpose and work with it to effect a sound that one can hear becoming their own all the more.

The Hazytones on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Daily Thompson, Thirsty

daily thompson thirsty

Three albums in, Dortmund’s Daily Thompson indeed sound Thirsty — or maybe it’s hungry, but either way, the Dortmund trio’s MIG Music offering captures a tight presentation based around nonetheless natural energy born of their time on tour, as the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Danny Zaremba, bassist Mercedes, and drummer Stefan Mengel touch on Spidergawd-style classic heavy rock strut with “Brown Mountain Lights” and make their way through the semi-acoustic drift of “Stone Rose” and toward the later roll of “River Haze” with a trail of hooks behind them. Songwriting is central to what they do, but while Thirsty isn’t a minor undertaking at a CD-era reminiscent 10 songs/53 minutes, the band offer a chemistry between them and a fullness of sound that allows them to play to different sides of their approach, be it the fuzz-blues of “Gone Child” or the final summation “Spit out the Crap” that seems to shove all the more to its cymbal-wash finish. The title Thirsty brings to mind connotations of need, but Daily Thompson sound like they’ve got it all taken care of.

Daily Thompson on Thee Facebooks

MIG Music website

 

Old Man Lizard, True Misery

old man lizard true misery

A strong enough current of noise rock runs beneath Old Man Lizard‘s True Misery (on Wasted State) that leadoff track “Shark Attack” is enough to remind of Akimbo‘s Jersey Shores, and in under two minutes, the subsequent “Snakes” ties that into crawling-paced doom riffery such that the lumbering “Tree of Te?ne?re?” opens like the gaping jaws of some deep-sea trench. From there it unfolds a bit more uptempo than one might initially think, but it shows how fluidly Old Man Lizard shift from one impulse to the other. Accordingly, True Misery plays out with familiar-enough tones put to deceptively subtle and unpredictable purposes, making one-two highlights of the eight-minute back-to-backers “Cursed Ocean, Relentless Sea” and “Misery is Miserable” — which says it all, really — ahead of the finale, well titled “Return to Earth.” A better band than people know, Old Man Lizard bring a progressive touch to what from many others would just be sludge riffing — a bit of Elder on that closer — and manage to do so without losing touch with the righteousness of their groove. True Misery takes a couple listens to sink in, but well earns those and more besides.

Old Man Lizard on Thee Facebooks

Wasted State Records website

 

Tuskar, The Tide, Beneath, The Wall

tuskar the tide beneath the wall

Tuskar‘s second offering through Riff Rock Records arrives titled for its three songs, “The Tide,” “Beneath” and “The Wall,” and comprises three tracks of largesse-minded sludge, burying its shouted vocals beneath mountainous low end. The Tide, Beneath, The Wall sets itself up through noisy churn and a roll that’s somehow misanthropic at the same time it seems well geared to have an entire bar headbanging. Either way, the feedback-worship in “The Wall” — sure enough a massive thing to slam into — makes a fitting end to the 20-minute release that seems to run so much longer, as “The Tide” and “Beneath” each set forth a grueling sprawl of malevolence that touches on the chaos to come without ever fully giving away what’s in store for the finale. At the same time this assault is cast, there’s an atmosphere to the proceedings as well such that Tuskar aren’t simply bludgeoning for the sake of bludgeonry, but finding a place for themselves within that in order to develop their attack. They do that successfully here and sound well up to the inevitable task before them of a debut full-length.

Tuskar on Thee Facebooks

Riff Rock Records website

 

Space Coke, L’Appel du Vide

space coke lappel du vide

I just about never do this, but I’m gonna go ahead and make the call: Space Coke‘s L’Appel du Vide is going to get picked up for a vinyl release in 2019. I don’t know who, how or when, but it’s basically a lock. The Columbia, South Carolina, organ-laced four-piece play classic-as-now heavy rock with right-on songcraft and a hard-hitting presentation that’s begging for some label with ears to hear it and press it to the platter it deserves. Be it the molten unfolding of the title-track or the fuzz-swirl of “Thelemic Ritual” or the cosmic stretch of “Kali Ma,” they’re locked in to a degree that utterly defies the notion that this is their first record, and from the vocal-effects smash in “Lucid Dream” and the samples laid over-top of “Interlude,” there’s never really a sense of where Space Coke — extra kudos for the Cheech & Chong reference — might go next, and yet their sound is cohesive, directed, and well aware of exactly what it’s doing and what it wants to do. Never a guarantee of anything in this world, but with Space Coke‘s take on modern stoner sprawl, I’d be amazed if someone didn’t grab this in the New Year, if not before. Eyes peeled on the PR wire for the announcement.

Space Coke on Thee Facebooks

Space Coke on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Spacetrucker, Smooth Orbit

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

spacetrucker smooth orbit

[Click play above to stream Spacetrucker’s Smooth Orbit in its entirety. Album is out Aug. 17.]

There’s a lot about St. Louis trio Spacetrucker that points to their being a classic stoner rock band. For one, their name. Also, their sound. But it goes further than that as well and into their presentation. Looking at the cover of their self-released debut full-length, Smooth Orbit, it’s in their use of the Star Wars logo font, as well as the literal depiction of “space truckin’ round the stars,” as Deep Purple once put it, with a tricked out van riding around the rings of Saturn. Charm is a factor, certainly, but it was as well when this style of heavy, fuzz-drenched rock took hold in the late ’90s informed by grunge, punk and its own disaffection. The difference between that moment and this one, of course, is 20 years, and accordingly, guitarist/vocalist Mike Owen, bassist/vocalist Rob Wagoner and drummer Del Toro have an entire generation — two, really — to learn from when it comes to their style.

One thinks of Man’s Ruin Records acts like Tummler or Suplecs as stylistic touchstones. Bands who were obviously aware of the likes of Fu ManchuKyuss, etc., but ready to bring something of their own to what had come before. Spacetrucker, who further echo this era by making their first record the CD-style length of 10 songs and 52 minutes, are likewise looking to bring a nuance to the genre, and one can hear it surfacing in songs like “Meat Wagon,” the raw-hitting “Hotbox Airlock,” and shorter instrumental passages like the raging “Breach,” the jammed-out “Fuck Up” and “Cat March,” which has sampled marching that may or may not actually be recorded cats in a litter box. They succeed in hitting that mark, ultimately, and their debut explores a range of crunch and groove from the nodding push in the first half of “Vanishing Point/Science of Us” with its over-the-top guitar solo to the sudden turn at 5:27 into the total 7:33 to acoustic strum and percussion. On first listen, one might just think it’s a different song entirely. Nope, it’s just Spacetrucker going where they want to go.

Balancing that impulse with more familiar aesthetic elements — the fuzz, the roll, the sheer dayjob-respite vibe that pervades the chugging “Pulling Teeth” or second cut “Not as Hung” — is one of Smooth Orbit‘s greater strengths, and it is found right down to the tones of Owen and Wagoner and the grit that coincides with their engaging riffage. I think we’re early yet to call it retro and the production is modern anyway, but Spacetrucker clearly know the style they want to play — that is, they sound like fans — and are able to translate that into their own work. The bass after the siren in “Breach,” the subtle sprawl that contradicts the start-stop riff as opener “Sample of a Sample” makes it way toward its apex, or the way the bookend closer “Lost in the Sauce” eases into its slower progression, a final nod-out as the band builds to a suitably raucous finish, ending — how could they not — with an explosion that signals more than just the end of the record.

spacetrucker

By then, Spacetrucker have made their intentions plain — the sampled bonghit in “Hotbox Airlock” tells its fair share of the story — and their intentions are, in fact, pretty plain. They’re not looking to reinvent rock and roll. It isn’t about getting that gig at the art gallery. It’s straight-ahead heavy rock and roll. There are flashes of psychedelic rock and grunge is always there and the pot they’re stirring wants nothing for ingredients in general, but at their core, Owen, Wagoner and Del Toro are a heavy rock band, and they present themselves as such with zero pretense otherwise. They know you know, and you know they know you know. That does nothing to stop them from delivering a quality batch of tunes that seems to nod at The Pixies early in “Meat Wagon” as comfortable as the gravely vocals recall Nirvana in the verses that soon follow. Likewise, as they make their way through the instrumental “Fuck Up,” their ability to vary the structures in their material goes even further toward offering diversity of sound.

At the same time, that manner of breaking up one means of craft with another — this applies to the overarching impact made by “Breach” and “Cat March” as well — enhances the flow between the tracks where otherwise it might interrupt them more than anything. Spacetrucker gave an encouraging first showing on 2016’s Launch Sequence (review here), and they build on that effectively with this initial full-length. What seems to be most important in their work is the element of personality they bring to it. I don’t think “Hotbox Airlock” makes it out of ‘working title’ status if a band doesn’t have a sense of humor, and that’s important, but I’m talking even more about the stylistic blend that Spacetrucker bring to bear throughout the songs themselves. It’s not just about goofing off with riffs, but there’s still the definite impression that they’re having and good time, and well they should.

This kind of hyper-down-to-earth heavy rock and roll is the stuff on which the genre was made, and long before that hypothetical art gallery was even booking loud bands, three-pieces of this ilk were blowing out eardrums with the kind of abandon that Spacetrucker embody so fluidly today. It would be fair to call them traditional in that sense, but if I hope to have gotten any single point across here, it’s that there’s more going on than performance of genre. In their sonic persona and their presentation overall, Spacetrucker not only hearken to a bygone era of heavy rock, but they thereby find a niche for themselves not only within that, but in the modern sphere of aesthetic heft. That speaks to a drive toward individualism in terms of sound, which only bodes well for them going forward, and is another among the many encouraging aspects of this debut. It seems fair to expect some level of progression next time around as their influences get melded further together and so on, but these guys already know where they want to be on the heavy spectrum, and they’ve got their boogie van headed right for it.

Spacetrucker on Thee Facebooks

Spacetrucker on Bandcamp

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Hyborian on Tour with Weedeater Now; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I wish I had a title like ‘heavy metal riff machine.’ Best I can come up with is ‘dude who wakes up at 1:30 in the morning to write reviews,’ and frankly I don’t think that’s a title anyone wants. Kudos, then, to Kansas City’s Hyborian for earning that banner which they’re currently flying on tour with Season of Mist labelmates Weedeater. The run has been on for a few days, and it will take them into April, but they’ve got new fest dates booked in May and June as they continue to support the reissue of their Vol. 1 debut album on their already-noted new label home.

Hyborian also have a brand new video for the track “Maelstrom” that you can see below. It was directed by vocalist and guitarist Martin Bush.

Next time you’re looking for a definition of “up and coming,” here you go. Take it from me. I’ve been up since 1:30:

hyborian

HYBORIAN announce festival appearances, add new tour dates

Kansas City-based heavy metal riff machine HYBORIAN (Martin Bush – Guitar, Vocals, Ryan Bates – Guitar, Vocals, Justin Rippeto – Drums, and Anthony Diale – Bass) have announced new festival appearances in the months to come. HYBORIAN will appear at Kansas City’s Rock Fest on June 2nd alongside FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, and more. Additionally, HYBORIAN will play at Vintage Torque Fest in Dubuque Iowa on May 5. More information about Torque Fest can be found here. These two festival appearances follow the band’s previously announced North American tour alongside label-mates WEEDEATER. A full list of confirmed tour dates, including new shows in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Illinois can be found below.

HYBORIAN are touring in support of their acclaimed debut album ‘Vol. 1’. The album is streaming here.

‘Vol. 1’ is available across CD and limited edition LP formats at the Season of Mist E-Shop now.

HYBORIAN have been touring extensively since their 2015 formation. In addition to tours with GODMAKER and on their own, they have supported the likes of POWER TRIP, ACID KING, MUTOID MAN, WEEDEATER, IRON REAGAN, VEKTOR, WHORES and many more in the Midwest.

HYBORIAN TOUR DATES
Jun. 2 Kansas City, MI @ Kansas City Speedway (Rock Fest)
May 4 Dubuque, IA @ Fairgrounds (Vintage Torque Fest)

The “God Luck and Good Speed” tour w/ WEEDEATER and BASK
Mar. 21 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East
Mar. 22 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
Mar. 23 Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo
Mar. 24 Lansing, MI @ Mac’s Bar
Mar. 25 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
Mar. 27 Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlies
Mar. 28 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Mar. 29 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
Mar. 30 Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
Mar. 31 Little Rock, AR @ Whitewater
Apr. 1 New Orleans, LA @ Santos Bar
Apr. 2 Jacksonville FL @ Jack Rabbits
Apr. 3 Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero
Apr. 4 Asheville, NC @ Oddotorium *
Apr. 6 Champaign, IL @ Loose Cobra *
*No WEEDEATER

https://www.facebook.com/HyborianRock/
https://hyborianrock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist

Hyborian, Vol. I (2017)

Hyborian, “As Above, so Below” official video

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Fister Set April 27 Release for No Spirits Within; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

fister

Who’s up for a bit of punishment? Hmm? Anyone? If you found yourself answering in the affirmative, I’ll point you directly to the bottom of this post, where you can dig right into the bowl-you-over sludge extremity of Fister‘s new single, “Star Swallower,” and its accompanying, bound-to-induce-a-seizure-via-its-flashing-lights video. The song hails from the Missouri (pronounced “misery”)-based trio’s upcoming long-player, No Spirit Within, which ironically enough is being issued by Listenable Records. Go figure on that one.

The song closes the album and ends here on a fade, but even that somehow feels violent in its intent, so if you’ve got headphones nearby and want to give your brain a kick in the pants just to show it who’s boss, then yeah, have at it.

Album is out April 27 (maybe sometime in May in the US?) and preorders are up now. From the PR wire:

fister no spirit within

FISTER: Debilitating Doom Merchants To Unleash No Spirit Within Full-Length Via Listenable Records; “Star Swallower” Video Now Playing

Missouri-based doom merchants FISTER will unleash the earth-rupturing fruits of their No Spirit Within full-length this spring via Listenable Records. Manifesting a sound so poisonous, polluted, and nihilistic that “sludge,” “doom,” “funeral,” and “death” are the only words close to suitable in description, the Midwestern outfit are overpowering and relentless at a city-leveling volume like a Sisyphean artillery brigade cursed to push two hundred tons of speaker cabinets uphill forever. No Spirit Within was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Gabe Usery at Encapsulated Studios in St. Louis and will be released via Listenable Records in Europe on April 17th followed by a US street date of May 18th.

A video for closing track “Star Swallower,” created by Chariot Of Black Moth, is currently playing. Comments bassist/vocalist Kenny Snarzyk, “‘Star Swallower’ follows in the tradition of our Violence EP and ‘Horror Vacui’ from our split 7″ with Norska. It’s about the slow death of this universe that mankind will neither be around to fear or appreciate.”

FISTER’s No Spirit Within will see release on CD, LP, and cassette formats. For preorders go to THIS LOCATION.

No Spirit Within Track Listing:
1. Frozen Scythe
2. Disgraced Possession
3. Cazador
4. I Am Kuru
5. No Spirit Within
6. Heat Death
7. Star Swallower

Hailing from the confluence of infectious disease, arbitrary violence, and rivers of industrial filth that is St. Louis, Missouri, FISTER has been sublimating their brutally toxic environment into a deliberate and belligerent challenge to the eardrums since 2009. Comprised of drummer Kirk Gatterer, guitarist/vocalist Marcus Newstead, and Kenny Snarzyk on bass and vocals, this trio converts an eclectic swarm of extreme metal influences into the sonic analogue of trench warfare, concussive, bloody, and exhausting. Honed to grisly sharpness through years of performance, they have shared stages with countless musicians, including supporting sludge icons Eyehategod and Crowbar and appearances at the SXSW, Psycho Las Vegas, and Roadburn festivals. Pairing their seismic live offerings with more than a dozen releases, they have literally poured their blood into the work along the way – for their 2012 EP Violence, the band members had blood drawn and mixed with the ink used to print the liner notes.

From the hazy bulldozer bongripping of debut LP Bronsonic to 2015’s impossibly dismal IV, a gruesome and lysergic forty-four-minute long single track that tests the limits of adjectives like heavy or bleak, their sound is continually (d)evolving. Consistently finding new ways to hit bottom in a sequence of splits with fellow underground juggernauts Dopethrone, Primitive Man, and Teeth among others, FISTER has emerged as one of the nastiest strains of doom metal, adept at fusing the narcotic tension of drowning in misery with the planet-splitting intensity of devout amplifier worship.

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Fister, “Star Swallower”

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Merlin, The Wizard: Reedy Conjurings

Posted in Reviews on March 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

merlin the wizard

Generally speaking, I’m not one for writing off entire genres of music whatever that genre might happen to be, but there comes a time in every listener’s life when they invariably have to ask themselves one crucial question: “Is this ska?” A few years back, when everyone was on the collective dudely-parts of The Budos Band, I took a listen, stopped, asked myself that very question, and found that the answer was yes. Needless to say, it was the last time I listened to that particular group. I’m sorry. Everyone has a sound they can’t relate to — for some it’s country, for others it’s heavy metal — and for me, it’s ska. But, when I heard that Kansas City doom rockers Merlin had acquired a saxophonist/second guitarist in Stu Kersting for their fourth full-length, The Wizard — it’s also their first outing with Chase Thayer on bass — I wasn’t necessarily too nervous about it.

The band has always had kind of a weirdo streak, always geared themselves toward storytelling, but as the remaining founders in the lineup, vocalist Jordan Knorr, guitarist/keyboardist Carter Lewis and drummer Caleb Wyles expand from a four-piece to a five- and push into this new sax-laden sonic territory, it once again became necessary to listen to the seven-track/39-minute The Wizard (released by The Company) and ask myself if what I was hearing was ska. Is The Wizard ska? No. It’s not. It’s doom rock with a saxophone. Oh, and a guest appearance of trumpet on opener “Abyss.” That’s it though. Still not ska.

Admittedly, that would’ve been a fascinating if unfortunate sonic turn for Merlin to have made three albums deep. Their last outing, 2016’s Electric Children (review here), was arguably their darkest, and as they returned to Bert Liber to record, collaborate on the mix, and master The Wizard, one can only consider the shift in vibe a conscious decision. Liber (who also donates that trumpet guest spot), working in conjunction with the band, is no mess masterful in setting the depth and spaciousness of The Wizard‘s mix than he was on Electric Children, and songs like the buzzing, tense, guitar and key led “Gravelord” (premiered here) benefit immensely from the space they’re provided in which to flourish. Likewise, the pairing of shimmering guitar and horn on opener “Abyss” immediately sets a different tone than anything Merlin have collectively conjured before, swinging, deftly arranged, and no, still not ska.

merlin logo

Also worth taking into consideration when thinking of The Wizard‘s overall spirit is that at 39 minutes, it’s about 12 minutes shorter than its predecessor, and as it moves through songs like the thudding atmo-jazz of “Sage’s Crystal Staff” or the organ-and-wah laced catchy centerpiece “Golem” and the subsequent post-“Hand of Doom” stonerism of “Iron Borne,” en route to the extended “The Wizard Suite” 11-minute finale, which includes chanting repetitions of “I am the wizard,” a King Crimson-style chase, begins with All Them Witches-style guitar shimmer and resolves itself in chug of increasing tempo that leads to a final crescendo of guitar and sax working together around a twisting progression that ends with thuds and the line “I am the wizard” repeated once more, a quick-fading echo being the last sound of the record itself as it makes a cold finish, having come a long way even from the two-and-a-half-minute galloping doom insistence of “Tarantula Hawk” just prior. All of this, delivered with a tighter approach, gives the listener more to grasp onto as they make their way through.

Aside from its sound, overarching sonic dynamic and willful shift in texture, another key difference in The Wizard is a return on the part of the band to a narrative sphere, from which Electric Children departed after the band followed a storytelling course on 2014’s Christkiller LP (review here). That either matters a lot or not at all depending on how much a given listener wants to interact with this material — for what it’s worth I know nothing of the plot and have received no word of what The Wizard is about (one assumes there’s a wizard in there somewhere); presumably that’s the kind of info one would find in liner notes absent from a digital release but present with a vinyl or CD — but it says something of Merlin‘s overarching progression that they so readily allow for both levels of engagement on the part of their audience.

I’ve been hesitant to call them progressive before — am significantly less so after that blatant “21st Century Schizoid Man” reference in “The Wizard Suite” — but there can be no question that The Wizard brings their sound to new places for them and offers something in style and substance that none of their previous work has offered. That’s not just about the sax, though certainly that’s part of it, but also in the level of songcraft, and the spirit of sureness guiding the listener across various sonic changes, Merlin sound rife with confidence, and especially for a band who’ve put out four long-players over the course of a five-year (to-date) run with singles and other releases posted besides, their level of growth has been underscored by a consistency of songwriting quality that, even here, as they push farther out than they’ve ever pushed before, remains perhaps the most crucial aspect of who they are as a band. The Wizard has its novelty, sure, but fascinates well beyond that, and maybe most important of all, it is in no way, shape or form a ska release. Whew.

Merlin The Wizard (2018)

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Merlin Premiere “Gravelord”; The Wizard Available to Preorder

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

merlin

Dramatic Kansas City heavy rockers Merlin release their new album, The Wizard, on Jan. 26 via The Company. With it, the band’s passions for sax and storytelling are revitalized in a fashion they haven’t presented since 2014’s Christ Killer (review here), their sophomore outing.  2016’s Electric Children (review here), then, may have been something of a detour in terms of approach, but either way, the thematic take is renewed here in songs like “Sage’s Crystal Staff,” “Gravelord,” “Iron Borne” and the 11-minute finale “The Wizard Suite,” which rounds out with insistent declarations of “I am the wizard” that come across remarkably like death throes.

And maybe they are — I don’t know. The plot of Merlin‘s latest opus remains something of a mystery, but their sound intrigues as ever, and The Wizard is available to preorder merlin gravelordfrom The Company as of today. To mark the occasion, I’ve been given permission to host a premiere for “Gravelord,” which you’ll find below in all its ragged and momentum-driven tidings. On the record, its garage-fuzz assault directly follows opener “Abyss,” and in comparison to cuts like the wah-drenched “Golem” or “Sage’s Crystal Staff,” it’s one of the more straightforward cuts The Wizard presents, with a strong foundation in its hook that forms the basis of what surrounds, which as ever feels chaotic and theatrical without ever actually losing its sense of craft.

That, to-date, has been Merlin‘s specialty. They revel in these dark, oft-obscured themes and take a correspondingly bizarre and quirky approach to songwriting, but they absolutely pull it off every time. Part psychedelia, part classic doom, part heavy rock, they refute easy classification and instead bask in a series of sonic turns that keep the listener attentive and guessing all the while. Don’t expect “Gravelord” to speak for the entirety of The Wizard, but do expect it to rock.

And please enjoy:

Merlin, “Gravelord” official premiere

Chapter II: Gravelord

In the Wizards absence, the world he had once protected has fallen victim to three ancient lords: The Gravelord, The Golem and the Atronach. The Gravelord being the Lord of the Dead has begun tainting the land of the living with his army of the undead…

It’s been 4 long years since Merlin’s last conceptual album, Christ Killer was released. In that time of chaos, band members have came and gone, the cast has changed, equipment has broke, alliances were created and a whole lot of rituals have been performed from KC to Psycho Las Vegas. Merlin have finally deemed it time to bring you their next concept story, The Wizard. Featuring new members Chase Thayer on bass guitar and Stu Kersting on Saxophone and Guitar, Merlin have twisted their sound even further into the realms of the mystic unknown and unfamiliar territory…

Tracklisting:
1. Abyss
2. Gravelord
3. Sages Crystal Staff
4. Golem
5. Iron borne
6. Tarantula Hawk
7. The Wizard Suite

Merlin is:
Carter Lewis – Guitars, Synth
Stu Kersting – Guitars, Saxophones
Chase Thayer – Bass Player
Caleb Wyels – Percussions
Jordan Knorr – Vocals, Storytelling, Omnichord

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http://thecompanykc.bigcartel.com/
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CHRCH & Fister Release Split LP Tomorrow

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

Do you love atmospherically switched on and utterly skull-cleaving extreme doom? Sure, we all do. One should therefore take note of tomorrow as the release date of the new split between Los Angeles soulcrushers CHRCH and their bet-we-can-write-an-even-longer-song scathing compatriots in Fister. Because, you now, with the cleaving and whatnot. Issued through respected purveyor Battleground Records and Crown an Throne Ltd., it’s just two tracks, but that’s frankly all you need and even franklier probably all you could stand anyway from these two litmus test outfits pushing the limits of hyperbole-worthy viciousness. Get it, get doomed.

The PR wire delivers humbling brutality:

chrch fister split

On November 17th 2017, the stunning new split by CHRCH & Fister will be released The album consists of two tracks and will be released on limited edition vinyl via Crown and Throne Ltd and Battleground Records.

CHRCH have been hard at work crafting their particular brew of sound since late 2013. There is no image or campy gimmick to uphold, only the humble continuation and glorification of those fundamental musical elements that first built and then sustained the genre and it’s offshoots over the course of decades.

This purity and honesty comes across in a striking manner on the band’s debut ‘Unanswered Hymns’, a sprawling roller coaster of an album that plumbs the heights and depths of emotion, whether be it sorrow, loss, or redemption. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Patrick Hills at Earthtone Studios in Rocklin, CA, the recording exudes a warm, organic tone that draws the listener in to music heavily influenced by traditional doom, psych rock, drone, and ambience. CHRCH cannily wields dynamic songwriting, musicianship, and raw power to spin a spellbinding tale of occult darkness that clashes with illuminating melodies and riffs drenched in grimy reverb. Minimalistic, indulgent, or straightforward, the music of CHRCH is simply whatever the listener wants it to be.

Fister, coming off their recent reissue of “Gemini” on vinyl (Encapsulated Records), their split 7″ with TEETH (Broken Limbs Recordings), and of course their last 12″ “IV” (Crown and Throne Ltd.), continues to incorporate heavy influences from the black and death metal genres into a depressing sludge spewing heaviness that many have attempted, but few have mastered.

CHRCH: Eva Rose, Chris Lemos, Adam Jennings, Ben Catchart, Shann Marriott Jr.
Fister: Kenny Snarzdk, Marcus Newstead, Krik Gatterer

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