Quarterly Review: Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Candlemass, Skuggsjá, Black Lung, Lord Vicar, Dakessian, Gypsy Chief Goliath, Inter Arma, Helgamite, Mollusk

Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

Who’s ready for another round of 10 reviews in The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review? I know I am. We gotta hit 50 by Friday, and there’s still a lot — a lot — of ground to cover. Yesterday was all over the place style-wise and today has some of that going as well, but there’s a lot of quality in both, so hopefully you get to check some of it out. Today is the all important QR Hump Day, wherein we pass the halfway mark on our way to the total 50 reviews. If you’re wondering, it’s Lord Vicar who do the honors this time around at #25. Just kind of worked out that way, but I’ll take it. Down to business.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare

mirrors for psychic warfare mirrors for psychic warfare

Probably fair to call Mirrors for Psychic Warfare an offshoot of Corrections House, since its two members – Scott Kelly (also Neurosis) and Sanford Parker (producer extraordinaire/also Buried at Sea) – are also in that group, but the feel of their Neurot Recordings self-titled debut is substantially different, rawer and at times harsher. Parker handles beats and electronics, creating at times a wash of abrasive noise as in the culmination of “CNN WTZ,” the centerpiece of the five tracks, and elsewhere providing an industrial backdrop for Kelly’s voice for a gothic feel, as on “A Thorn to See.” Unsurprisingly, nothing about Mirrors for Psychic Warfare makes for particularly easy listening – though opener “Oracles Hex” has some commonality with Kelly’s solo work and his voice is resonant as ever – but as they round out the album with “43,” the keys, synth and guitar find some common ground, which leaves distorted shouts from Kelly to do the work of taking listeners to task. We already knew these two worked well together, and the partnership once again bears fruit here.

Neurot Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings webshop

Candlemass, Death Thy Lover

candlemass-death-thy-lover

The four-song Death Thy Lover EP (on Napalm) is the first new studio offering of original material from Swedish doom legends Candlemass since their 2012 album, Psalms for the Dead (review here), marked the end of the tenure of vocalist Robert Lowe, also of Solitude Aeturnus. His replacement is the person who nearly had the job in the first place, Mats Levén (formerly Therion), who has a kind of stateliness to his presence in opener “Death Thy Lover” but suits the plod of “Sleeping Giant” well. Of course, at the center of the band is bassist/songwriter Leif Edling, whose style is unmistakable in these tracks, whether it’s the late-Iommi-style riffing of “Sinister ‘n’ Sweet” or “Death Thy Lover”’s chugging its way toward the hook. Candlemass save the most grueling for last with “The Goose,” as guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson intertwine a chugging rhythm and extended soloing over dirge-march drums from Jan Lindh to give the short release a darkened instrumental finale.

Candlemass on Thee Facebooks

Candlemass at Napalm Records

Skuggsjá, A Piece for Mind and Mirror

skuggsja-a-piece-for-mind-and-mirror

Talk about scope. Oh, only a country’s entire cultural history is fair game for Skuggsjá, the brainchild of Norwegian artists Ivar Bjørnson (also Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (also Wardruna) that crosses the line between black metal and Norse traditionalism probably better than anyone has ever done it before. A Piece for Mind and Mirror is the studio incarnation of the work the two composers and a host of others did as commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, and though it’s broken into 10 movements for the album, it flows together as one orchestral entirety, the gurgle of Grutle Kjellson (Enslaved) recognizable in the eponymous track amid choral backing and a richly textured blend of traditional folk instruments and metallic thrust. The lyrics are Norwegian, but whether it’s the blowing horn of “Makta Og Vanæra (I All Tid)” or the lush melodies in the march of “Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing,” the sense of pride and the creative accomplishment of A Piece for Mind and Mirror ring through loud and clear.

Skuggsjá on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist webshop

Black Lung, See the Enemy

black lung see the enemy

Two years after making their self-titled debut, Baltimore heavy bluesfuzz trio Black Lung come swaggering back with the spacious vibes of See the Enemy (on Noisolution), which takes the establishing steps the first album laid out and builds on them fluidly and with a clear direction in mind. At eight tracks/45 minutes produced by J. Robbins, the album was clearly structured for vinyl, each half ending with a longer cut, the psych-jamming “Nerve” on side A, which resounds in an ending of scorching guitar from Adam Bufano atop the drums of Elias Schutzman (both of The Flying Eyes), and the closer “8MM,” on which Bufano, Schutzman, guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier and Robbins (who also contributes bass) roll out the record’s most massive groove and cap it with an impenetrable wall of noise. While the songs are striking in their cohesion and poise, there are moments where one wants Black Lung to really let loose, as after Trevor Shipley’s keyboard stretch in “Priestess,” but they have other ideas, feeding the title-track directly into “8MM” with no less a firm sense of control than shown earlier. All told, an excellent follow-up that deserves broader consideration among 2016’s finer offerings.

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Black Lung at Noisolution

Lord Vicar, Gates of Flesh

lord vicar gates of flesh

Offered through The Church Within Records as a paean to classic doom, Lord Vicar’s third LP, Gates of Flesh, nonetheless almost can’t help but put its own mark on the style. The Turku, Finland, outfit’s first album in five years, it finds guitarist Kimi Kärki (ex-Reverend Bizarre, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, etc.), vocalist Chritus (also Goatess, ex-Saint Vitus, Count Raven, etc.), and drummer Gareth Millsted (ex-Centurions Ghost) — who, along with Kärki, also contributed bass after the band parted ways with Jussi Myllykoski and prior to adding Sami Hynninen as a temporary replacement — bold enough to shift into minimalist spaciousness on “A Shadow of Myself,” and really, they’re not through opener “Birth of Wine” before Kärki executes a gorgeous dual-layered solo. Trace those roots back to Trouble if you must, but there’s no question to whom the lurch of centerpiece “Breaking the Circle” or the sorrowful 10-minute closer “Leper, Leper” belongs, and the same holds true for everything that follows, be it the quiet start of “A Woman out of Snow” or the swinging second half of “Accidents.” Lord Vicar enact the doom of ages and take complete ownership of the sound, thus only adding to the canon as they go.

Lord Vicar on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records

Dakessian, The Poisoned Chalice

dakessian the poisoned chalice

Like the stench of rotting, Dakessian’s The Poisoned Chalice provokes a visceral and physical response. The long-in-the-making debut release from the Portland-based duo of vocalist Kenny Snarzyk (also Fister) and multi-instrumentalist Aaron D.C. Edge (Lumbar, Roareth, so many others) had its music recorded back in 2013, and the vocals were added earlier this year, throat-searing screams and growls that top the noisy, claustrophobically weighted tones from Edge’s guitar. The onslaught is unrelenting, both longer songs like “Demons” and “Ten Double Zero” and shorter cuts “Nothing Forever” and the sample-laced opener “Choose Hate” brim with aggressive misanthropy, the will against. Even the penultimate “Baerial,” which offers a glimmer of melody, continues to crush, and starting with a slow drum progression, closer “Cosmic Dissolution” barely tops two and a half minutes, but it brings thorough reassurance of the project’s destructive force before its final drone rounds out. One never knows with Edge if a given band will ever have a follow-up, but as ever, the quality is consistent. In this case, brutally so.

Dakessian on Bandcamp

Holy Mountain Printing

Gypsy Chief Goliath, Citizens of Nowhere

gypsy chief goliath citizens of nowhere

Actually, if you want to get technical about it, Gypsy Chief Goliath are citizens of Ontario, but you’d never know it from listening to their third album, Citizens of Nowhere, which if you had to pin a geographic locale on it might be more of a fit for New Orleans than Canada. The Pitch Black Records release sees the triple-guitar-plus-harmonica six-piece outfit dug deep in Southern metal grooves, marked out by the burl-bringing vocals of frontman/guitarist Al “The Yeti” Bones, formerly of Mister Bones, Serpents of Secrecy and The Mighty Nimbus and the chug-and-churn of cuts like “Black Samurai” and the shuffle of “We Died for This.” The title-track winds its central riff with thickened-up ‘70s boogie, while “Elephant in the Room” and “The Return” space out a bit more, and the closing Black Sabbath cover “Killing Yourself to Live” (a CD bonus track) plays it loyal structurally while dude’ing up the original like it was on hormone therapy.

Gypsy Chief Goliath on Thee Facebooks

Pitch Black Records on Bandcamp

Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows

inter arma paradise gallows

Hard-touring Richmond genre-benders Inter Arma are due for a landmark release. Their 2014 single-song EP, The Cavern, was wildly well received and earned every bit of praise it got. Their follow-up to that is Paradise Gallows, their third album and second for Relapse behind 2013’s Sky Burial (track stream here). Is Paradise Gallows that landmark? Hell if I know. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mikey Allred, who also guests on trombone, bass violin, organ and noise, Inter Arma’s third brings an expansive 70 minutes of bleak progressivism, conceptually and sonically broad enough to be considered brilliant and still weighted enough that the prevailing vibe is extremity in their blend of sludge, doom, black metal, post-metal, atmospherics, and a moody acoustic closer. The only real danger is that it might take listeners time to digest – because it’s a lot to take in, all those twists and turns in “Violent Constellations,” particularly after the plod of the title-track – but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find Inter Arma inhabiting any number of year-end lists for 2016. Once again, they earn it.

Inter Arma on Thee Facebooks

Inter Arma at Relapse Records

Helgamite, Hypnagogia

helgamite hypnagogia

Virginian bruisers Helgamite manage to cover a deceptive amount of sonic ground on their second LP, Hypnagogia (on CD through Lost Apparitions with vinyl soon on Flesh Vessel), spending plenty of time in dense-toned sludge metal but using that as a foundation for a wider range of explorations, winding up in blastbeats by the time 13-minute side B finale “The Secret” comes around, but by then having torn through the aggro-thrash of “Origins,” lumbered through the mosher “Æstrosion” and topped off “Shaman’s Veil” with math-metal guitar fits melded to a saxophone arrangement. Growls from vocalist William Breeden and Jonah Butler’s drums tie it all together as guitarist Casey Firkin (also sax) and bassist Matthew Beahm pull off intermittently jazzy runs, but impressively, Helgamite never sound in danger of losing sight of the songs they’re serving, and Hypnogogia is stronger for its unwillingness to waste a second of its runtime, even in the aforementioned “The Secret” or its 10-minute side A counterpart, “Snowdrifter.”

Helgamite on Thee Facebooks

Lost Apparitions Records website

Flesh Vessel Records on Thee Facebooks

Mollusk, Children of the Chron

mollusk-children-of-the-chron

Get it? Children of the Chron? I’ll admit it took me a second. While I was thinking about it, Allston, Massachusetts, duo Mollusk doled out sludge-punk-metal beatings via raw tones and shouts and a general sense of checked-out attitude, “Glacier” reminding of earliest, least-poppy Floor, but cuts like “Demon Queen” and “When You’re Gone” finding guitarist Hank Rose using a purposefully monotone vocal approach that works well over slower parts. Rose is joined in Mollusk by drummer Adam O’Day, and though I’ve already noted that the 11-track album is raw, their sound wants nothing for impact in the low end or any other end for that matter. Rather, the harsher aspects become part of the aesthetic throughout Children of the Chron and the band successfully navigates its own mire without getting lost in either its own “Torture Chamber” or “Zombie Apocalypse,” which like opener “Ride the #9,” is almost certainly a song about life in the Boston area.

Mollusk on Thee Facebooks

Mollusk at ReverbNation

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Mollusk to Release Children of the Chron in July

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

mollusk

Boston-area duo Mollusk have announced a July release for their second album, Children of the Chron. The record finds the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist Hank Rose and drummer Adam O’Day following up their 2014 debut, Gutter with another set of terrifying scenarios, alternately born of real life — “Ride the #9,” about the horrors of public transportation — and imagined — “Zombie Apocalypse,” which might as well be about the same thing — set to noise rock that’s raw and aggressive without losing sight of its purpose or taking itself too seriously, as the shift between tribal drums and grunge downerisms on “Blaze Cave” and “Lesbian Resume” makes plain enough to hear.

Perhaps as a means to clear their collective consciousness of the filth that was and make room for the filth that is, Mollusk have made Gutter available as a free download via a Dropbox link as a precursor to Children of the Chron coming out. That’s right. You don’t even need a download code, or to name your price as zero dollars. They’re just letting you take it. Nothing to lose but a minimum of hard drive space.

They’ve also begun to unveil songs from Children of the Chron at this point as well. “Ride the #9” and the newly-unveiled “When You’re Gone” can be heard on their Reverbnation page, if you can put up with the interface of that site, and they have a new video for “Glacier” that you can see below.

They’re a band of few words, but the info follows:

mollusk children of the chron

It’s Mollusk’s 2nd full length album. COTC is slower, sludgier and stonier. We are the Children Of The Chron.

Mollusk – Children Of The Chron
Tracklisting:
1. Ride the #9
2. Demon Queen
3. The Children of the Chron
4. Glacier
5. Human Tidalwave
6. Blaze Cave
7. Lesbian Resume
8. Torture Chamber
9. When You’re Gone
10 Zombie Apocalypse
11. Mental Hospital

Record to be released in July 2016.Recorded by Sid Lees at HERD Studio in Roxbury MA. 1st Track and video – Glacier.

https://www.facebook.com/molluskboston/
https://www.reverbnation.com/molluskband

Mollusk, “Glacier” official video

Mollusk, “When You’re Gone”

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Mollusk, Colony of Machines: The Consuming Shift

Posted in Reviews on December 2nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

It’s probably fair to call Colony of Machines, the latest outing from Cincinnati, Ohio, atmospheric sludge duo Mollusk, an EP. It’s got four songs, they total about 28 minutes. For my money, however, it’s a follow-up full-length installment to their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and one that further expands their post-metal leanings at that. Where the self-titled seemed to place tracks according to an overall purpose, Colony of Machines constructs its purpose from the songs. That might seem like a minute distinction, but it manifests on the more recent self-release in the form of longer, more complete component parts. There are three extended cuts an the shorter title-track as an ambient interlude — “Shifting Decay” (9:07), “Hollowed” (7:45), “Colony of Machines (2:38) and “Denisova” (9:06) — and while one could argue it’s the opener and closer leaving the greatest impression because of their length, each piece has something to offer both on its own and in relation to the others. What the last two years seems to have brought to Mollusk‘s sound is a solidifying effect, a tightening of their grasp on their aesthetic, and a refining of bassist/guitarist/vocalist Neal Hunter and drummer/vocalist Chase Schleyer‘s ability to concoct an overarching flow. It’s principally because of how well the songs work together that I consider Colony of Machines an album at all, and that’s not to say Mollusk didn’t work similarly (, just that the process by which the two-piece gets to that point has gotten more efficient. And for what it’s worth, since I seem to be hung up on it as I was last time, Colony of Machines is actually longer than its predecessor, which was 24 minutes. Telling in how the band’s approach has shifted, however, is the fact that in that 24 minutes, they packed in nine songs, several of which were basically just parts waiting to be strung together. Well, now they have been, and as “Shifting Decay” begins its initial pulse, the task Mollusk have undertaken in developing their sound seems all the more worthwhile.

Since first encountering the band — and this applies to their earlier-2013 split tape with Stormbrewer as well (review here) — I haven’t been able to shake a distinct mental correlation to defunct Maryland bashers Swarm of the Lotus, who in the early and middle part of the last decade swallowed a Neurosis influence and spit out a vile maw of bombastic and cerebral crush. Mollusk share some of that intent, mostly in the shouting vocals cutting through oppressive distortion, but on Colony of Machines, the tone of Hunter‘s guitar is darker, and so the release sounds more atmospheric overall. “Shifting Decay,” with its immediate thrust and build of tension, is a monster of low end. Schleyer does a remarkable job in propelling the churn, and remains fluid whether it’s in the chugging onslaught or the brief, airier section that follows the first verses, playing only more of a central role in establishing the circular course of the next build with fast tom runs en route to open and vicious grooving. Where and when Mollusk tradeoff loud and quiet elements, they work quickly, and never seem too inclined to rest toward one side or the other — a measure here, a cycle there. The effect this has is to make “Shifting Decay” both more exciting and more linear. They’re not returning to a chorus after every verse; they’re going somewhere else. As it inevitably has to, the opener winds up in a deathly apex, first of thrashing chaos and then of layered, weighted doom riffing, at last hitting a final crash and giving way to silence before a feedback hum introduces “Hollowed,” a creepy guitar ambience giving over after about 90 seconds to Colony of Machines‘ heaviest single riff. It slow, it is tectonic, and it stands up to whatever lofty image of a field of crushed skulls it might conjure in your head. They’re more patient this time in getting to the vocals, but the approach is the same when they show up just before three minutes in, and as “Hollowed” drives toward its own crescendo, the chief difference between it and the opener is that it’s even more unrelenting.

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Live Review: Devil to Pay and Mollusk in Allston, 11.15.13

Posted in Reviews on November 20th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Allston was busy on Friday night as one would imagine it being. I think one of the bars down the way from O’Brien’s was doing a fantasy sports draft or something — walking down the block, I passed two dudes muttering about someone in a tweed jacket cheating, or catching them cheating, whatever it was — but either way, the street was packed out. Still managed to find parking and get into the venue in time to catch most of Mollusk‘s set in support of Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay, who had swung north on the East Coast following an appearance at Stoner Hands of Doom XIII the weekend before. Having missed them there much to my dismay, catching the Boston stop was essential.

I’ve been to O’Brien’s a couple times at this point and I like the room. It’s small, sans bullshit, dive-ish but not like it’s trying to be a dive because that’s hip these days. A comfortable space, and one that was pretty packed with volume when Mollusk were on stage. In a fun bit of mistaken identity, I had thought the Mollusk in question was the duo from Ohio, whose 2013 album, Colony of Machines, is patiently awaiting review. I was excited to see them live, but the Mollusk playing O’Brien’s was in fact a different two-piece working under the moniker, this one local to Allston. Really, I should’ve been tipped off when drummer/backing vocalist Adam O’Day (also an accomplished painter) was wearing a Bruins jersey, but I thought maybe they were playing to the crowd. Steve Janiak of Devil to Pay would later take the stage in a Faces of Bayon (they’re based in MA) t-shirt, so it didn’t seem that strange in context. That Mollusk, which is O’Day and guitarist/vocalist Hank Rose, would actually be from the area makes much more sense.

Blind Tigers had opened and Gut would close, so with Mollusk as the second of four and Devil to Pay in the prime slot, it was a full bill. As I said, I didn’t catch all of Mollusk‘s set, but they were plenty heavy, if somewhat less post-sludge inspired than their Ohio counterparts, reminding of some of Napalm Death‘s brooding moments of groove in between all the brutality. They weren’t what I was expecting — I was quite literally expecting a different band — but for both the coincidence and their sonic assault, it was enjoyable. Devil to Pay, who work much more in a straightforward heavy rock context, had a hard act to follow, but having been on the road for a few nights already were as tight as one could ask. This show was the second to last on their tour, which had started Nov. 1 in Muncie, Indiana, and the band’s 2013 outing, Fate is Your Muse (review here) hasn’t been too far from my consciousness since its release, in part because of their excellent videos.

The four-piece were recording the O’Brien’s set as well, which began with the The Atomic Bitchwax-esque winding riffs of “Savonarola” from Fate is Your Muse. About half of what they played was from that album. Catchy cuts “Prepare to Die,” “This Train Won’t Stop” and “Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife” were welcome, and the rest was a mix from their other three records, with “Distemper” and “When all is Said and Done” providing the same one-two live as on 2009’s Heavily Ever After and the band dipping back to 2006’s Cash is King for “Niflheim” and even further to their 2004 debut full-length, Thirty Pieces of Silver for “Valley of the Dogs.” This made for a decent mix of new and old, some of their earlier C.O.C. influence providing a mix among the more recent and individualized material, their standouts well chosen even if I’d been hoping for “Tie One On” from the CD version of Fate is Your Muse as well. Can’t have everything, I guess.

What struck me most in watching Devil to Pay this time around — I hadn’t had occasion to see them since last year’s SHoD in Connecticut, which was before the newest record was released — was how much like a metal band they seemed. With Janiak and Rob Hough on guitars, Matt Stokes on bass and Chad Profigle on drums, they were long-haired, black t-shirted, bearded nearly in uniform. Janiak spent most of the set singing with his hair in front of his face and between their headbanging, their relatively clean tonality and the one-the-road tightness of their set, they played heavy rock like metal dudes. That’s not something I’m about to hold against them, but one got much more of a sense of it live than on the album. They weren’t showy, though, which was all the more a fit with the songs, and if it was a different-seeming route they took to being an unpretentious good time, the destination was reached with no less efficiency than one would expect from their recorded output.

Local dirt-thrashers Gut finished out the night, with vocalist Brian pacing back and forth in front of the stage and drummer Scott Healey (brother of Black Thai‘s Jim Healey and a former bandmate in We’re all Gonna Die) so buried in the back behind the two guitars and bass as to be largely invisible from in front of the stage. Their sound was heavy, aggressive and drunk, which earned much hooting from the gathered masses left at the end of the show. I picked up the Ten Lizardmen and One Pocketknife (they’d played the B-side “Black Fog” as well) and This Train Won’t Stop 7″ singles from Devil to Pay‘s merch table and shot the shit for a while before heading out. Van trouble would keep them from making their final tour stop in Long Island, but between the O’Brien’s gig and their show the night before at Geno’s in Portland, Maine, with the hopefully-permanently-reactivated Eldemur Krimm — not to mention SHoD in Virginia and the other dates on the tour — they seemed to have made the most of their time anyhow.

Some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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audiObelisk Transmission 031

Posted in Podcasts on October 28th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

There was a point during the making of this podcast when I stepped back for a second realized, “This is getting really heavy.” It kind of happened out of the blue, but it definitely happened, and though the thought occurred to me to maybe pull it back and get into some more rocking stuff in the second hour again, I decided instead to just run with it and have fun and go as all-out ridiculously heavy as I could think of. That’s when we get to Beast in the Field‘s 22-minute “Oncoming Avalanche.” I know I’ve had them in before, but if you’re going all out in 2013 releases, that’s where you’re gonna end up.

Plus, I figured there’s plenty of rocking stuff up front, starting with At Devil Dirt and the subsequent riff pushers in the first hour, and the whole thing rounds out with the psych-hypnosis of The Cosmic Dead, so though it’s far out by the conclusion, it does manage to come back from the ultra-weighted tones somewhat. Screw it. I was having a good time stringing together heavy songs. The bottom line of this whole thing is for it to be fun, and I was having fun, so there you go.

I hope you have fun with it too. Once again, we come in just under two hours with a slew of newer cuts and some stuff from earlier this year that maybe got missed along the way. Considering there’s so much pummel, it flows pretty well.

First Hour:
At Devil Dirt, “Don’t See You Around” from Plan B: Sin Revolucion No Hay Evolucion (2013)
Pigs, “Elo Kiddies” from Gaffe (2013)
Mutoid Man, “Scavengers” from Helium Head (2013)
Viper Fever, “Summer Time” from Super Heavy Garage EP (2013)
Sons of Huns, “I’m Your Dad” from Banishment Ritual (2013)
Blackout, “Seven” from We Are Here (2013)
Horisont, “Backstreet” from Time Warriors (2013)
Old Man Wizard, “If Only” from Unfavorable (2013)
Mother Susurrus, “Anagnorisis” from Maahaavaa (2013)
Coma Wall, “You are My Death” from Wood and Wire Split (2013)
Mollusk, “Hollowed” from Colony of Machines (2013)
Sea of Bones, “Failure of Light” from The Earth Wants us Dead (2013)

Second Hour:
Corrections House, “Dirt Poor and Mentally Ill” from Last City Zero (2013)
Rosetta, “Myo/The Miraculous” from The Anasthete (2013)
Beast in the Field, “Oncoming Avalanche” from The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below (2013)
The Cosmic Dead, “Djamba” from The Cosmic Dead/Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Split (2013)

Total running time: 1:59:29

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 031

 

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Duuude, Tapes! Mollusk and Stormbrewer Split

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on June 3rd, 2013 by JJ Koczan

There are a couple things I really like about the new split tape between Ohio noisemakers Mollusk and Stormbrewer. Limited to 100 professionally pressed copies (50 yellow, 50 in a deep grey they call “smoke”), first of all, it finds the two acts partnered very well, working from a similar stylistic base while still retaining their own identities. In the case of Mollusk, who released a self-titled debut on cassette and CDR last year (above, right) in similar limited fashion, the growth is evident even before pressing play on the seven-minute track “Ashes.”

Upon hearing the self-titled (discussed here), my first frame of reference was to underappreciated Maryland bombast specialists Swarm of the Lotus, and since “Ashes” is longer at seven minutes than anything Mollusk brought to the table on their first release, perhaps that comparison is even more appropriate now than it was then. In any case, they nail a vicious tonal weight, crunching and slamming in an undulating groove that’s as heavy as it is angry, the dual vocals from the duo of guitarist/bassist Neal Hunter and drummer Chase Schleyer only adding to the sense of controlled chaos that pervades the song.

No break in their onslaught, but “Ashes” retains a strong sense of atmosphere as did a cut like “Endless Mountains” from the self-titled, and that’s brought even more into relief by the even-rawer fuckall of guitar/drum duo Stormbrewer — comprised of Gabe Almeda and Ronnie Miller, both of whom contribute vocals — more in line with the metallic noise born out of crossover hardcore and thrash, but still thoroughly modern in tone and aggressive in leading with the riffs. Both “Hammer Toes” and “Sabertooth” pull no punches, but show a doomed influence lurking under the surface, and for that, they stand that much better alongside Mollusk, and though the split is short — not much over 12 minutes — it is nonetheless able to showcase the progression at work in Mollusk and, in my case, give an intriguing first impression of Stormbrewer, whose Ghost on the Ocean Floor EP was released through Bastard Sloth Records in 2011.

On the fold in the tray card of the split is a white-ink silhouette of the state of Ohio, and in thinking of the noise, the sludge, the hardcore and the heavy rock that’s come out of the Buckeye State in years past, there’s little question why Stormbrewer and Mollusk would take pride in their Midwest lineage. I’ll look forward to hearing how these two acts are able next to contribute to it.

Mollusk, “Ashes” from Split w/ Stormbrewer (2013)

Mollusk on Thee Facebooks

Stormbrewer on Thee Facebooks

Bastard Sloth Records

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On the Radar: Mollusk

Posted in On the Radar on March 19th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Once you get past the droning noise intro “Mirrored Sphere” on their self-titled debut and “Endless Mountains” kicks in hard, Cincinnati/Pittsburgh outfit Mollusk remind almost immediately of defunct Maryland post-doomcore smashers Swarm of the Lotus. They have a similar method of invoking violent bombast and slamming on the breaks mid-thrash to really drive home the painfulness the music seems to want to convey. The Mollusk lineup that recorded the full-length Mollusk — I don’t care if it’s only 24 minutes long; this is an album — consisted of  drummer/vocalist Chase Schleyer and guitarist/bassist/vocalist Neal Hunter, and they’ve since been joined by Zach Hendrickson as the third in a trio born out the band Sabre.

If you don’t recall Sabre — I bet you didn’t know there’d be a quiz — they put out a couple tapes and had a self-titled full-length reviewed in Dec. 2010. Hunter and Schleyer were in that band, and though Sabre‘s Sabre lacked nothing in vitriol, Mollusk‘s Mollusk outclasses it for sheer percussive heft. To further the case, the two-minutes of “Human Artifact” leave bruises in places bruises shouldn’t go, and with a more dynamic production, Mollusk is able to maintain the rawer side of post-whathaveyou that made Sabre so intriguing while also moving forward creatively and sounding in general more mature and aware of what they’re doing.

The album skillfully plays atmospherics off aggression, and though they’re not the first to do it, they do it well, and I’m more inclined to listen to Mollusk‘s Mollusk and hear what works than the areas of the band’s approach wanting further development. Both Schleyer and Hunter have a dry-throated take on screaming, and that adds consistency to what’s both a quick trip and already pretty consistent at that, but somehow the instrumental “Aphelion” makes for one of the album’s best transitions into the groovier malevolence of “Monuments.” And as “The Apathetic” rounds out the record — at 4:59, it’s the longest track included — it indeed brings a show of potential for more songwriting variety to come.

I thought Sabre were pretty cool for what they were doing and the fact that they were just getting started. As Hunter and Schleyer seem to have taken the lessons from that self-titled and put them to work on this one, I can only see it as an improvement. The band has made it easy enough for you to judge for yourself, though, either by checking out their website, their SoundCloud (where you can download the record for free), their Bandcamp (where it is available as a limited cassette) or their Thee Facebooks page, all of which lead you to the music one way or another. However you might choose to get there, please consider it an undertaking recommended.

Here’s the Bandcamp player, in case you don’t feel like traveling:

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