Live Review: Desertfest NYC Night Three, 04.28.19

Posted in Reviews on April 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The final day of a festival is always bittersweet, in any context. This being the first Desertfest NYC, it was a time to step back and take stock of the event, the crowd, the proceedings, what worked well, what could be tweaked in the future, and in what ways generally it could grow — because if the Desertfests in Berlin, London and Antwerp are any indication of intent, growth is the idea.

So what about it? The venue worked. The Well is a cool spot, and you almost feel like you’re getting away with something out on that back patio. The tent for the main stage worked. The food worked. The free iced coffee cans from Stumptown Roasters certainly worked for me, if we’re defining “worked” as “kept me upright.” The sound worked. The lights worked for the most part. And the location worked. I got street parking both days, no problem. Mark it a win based on that alone.

The second stage room was intentionally smaller and got to be a squeeze, and with the way the door was, you were either in or out — there was no peaking through to see the band onstage. Not that that’s the ideal way of seeing live music, but it’s better than nothing. It was easy enough to get there early, but I heard people noting it just the same. And it was cold. Yesterday more so than the day before. The sun teased a couple times but wasn’t out for more than about 20 minutes at any point, and then it was night, so it got colder. Rain held off, which was a relief, but there was definitely a flux of people going inside for a bit to get warm before going back out to be in front of the main stage. April in New York. That’s a possibility.

But on the whole, given the crowd size and response, the fact that it ran so well from front to back, and the general spirit of those playing and attending comingling and having a good time, I wouldn’t call it anything but a success. Desertfest is a brand, and they were feeling out a new, tough market in New York, but they pulled it off. I was given a t-shirt and I’ll wear it proudly. I hope they do another.

But holy crap was I tired.

Really, just a mess. Doing a festival is one thing. Doing it not completely removed from the rest of one’s life is quite something else, and I could feel myself showing signs of wear and tear especially early in the day before what little adrenaline my deeply flawed body could produce got to work and got me through. That coffee didn’t hurt either. You’ve made a customer for life, Stumptown. I mean that. I don’t usually even drink iced coffee.

Felt like an earlier start than it was at 3:15PM:

Unearthly Trance

Unearthly Trance (Photo by JJ Koczan)

As sadly will happen, Fatso Jetson canceled their trip east to open the third and final day of Desertfest NYC 2019, and I guess it was something of a scramble, but the fest kind of wound up with the opposite. If Fatso Jetson are desert rock, Unearthly Trance are dystopian-expanse-of-concrete-under-a-dark-grey-sky metal. Local heroes from Brooklyn, their 2017 comebacker full-length, Stalking the Ghost (review here), was followed last year by a split with Relapse labelmates Primitive Man (review here), and the few years they spent apart clearly did not dull their impact or atmospheric breadth. Playing in the tent with the sun outside, they were still unremitting in their darkness, and their slow, churning sonic gruel was served up cold to the early crowd, which was perhaps still bleary-eyed from the night before but primed to get bleary-eyed all over again, in no small part to keep warm. That’s a thing, right? Whatever. Unearthly Trance were loud as fuck and bleaker than they were loud. They’ve always been more of an export than a NY-scene band, at least since about 15 years ago, but they gave Brooklyn a showing of some of its best homegrown, and so could’ve hardly been more fitting for that spot.

Sun Voyager

Sun Voyager (Photo by JJ Koczan)

That’s a good band. They’ve got their kinks and quirks to work out — don’t we all — but the second they realize how much power they actually command from the stage, it’s all over. They’ve got newly-announced tour dates in June that begin in Denver at Electric Funeral Festival and will see them bum around the Midwest for a while, and that’s only going to help. More of that. But already their presence is significant. I haven’t seen them since they released Seismic Vibes (review here), which was a debut I was anticipating to an almost embarrassing degree, so they were an absolute must for my weekend, and hearing them do “Open Road” and “God is Dead,” two of the most potent hooks from among the many boogie-driven brainmelters on the record was more than welcome. They would close with the Budgie cover they just issued digitally, “Crash Course in Brain Surgery,” but their energy was infectious and as I stood there and watched I imagined what it might’ve been like to see Nebula 20-plus years ago when they were just really starting to hit it. It couldn’t have been much different. Sun Voyager are awash in potential now and starting to put the work in to pay that off. I will continue to hope they get there.

Ruby the Hatchet

Ruby the Hatchet (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Forerunners of Philadelphia’s burgeoning heavy psychedelic movement, Ruby the Hatchet brought presence and the chops to back it up in kind to their set outside on the main stage. The Tee Pee rollers were fresh off Grim Reefer Fest in Baltimore on April 20 and were on the West Coast earlier this year supporting 2017’s Planetary Space Child LP (review here), and I’ve seen them live a few times at this point, so to find them locked in wasn’t really a surprise as such. The difference was just what they were able to do in being so locked in. It was a classic heavy rock show. Frontwoman Jillian Taylor led the way through the show, with Johnny “Scarps” Scarperia setting the foundation in riffs somewhere between psychedelic rock and proto-doom, Lake Muir‘s bass and Owen Stewart’s drums pushing the groove forward and the keys — it was quite a setup — of Sean Hur adding texture beyond what one finds in the standard boogie rock of the heavy ’10s. Their next album will say a lot for what the ultimate story of Ruby the Hatchet will be, but their live show left nothing to question about who they are as a band, and the Uriah Heep cover for a finale was a particularly nice choice. Hail heavy prog.

ASG

ASG (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve never been a huge fan of North Carolinian four-piece ASG. Not for lack of respect for the work they do, the time they’ve put in touring, the quality of their records, and so on. Sometimes it just doesn’t click, and I’ll readily acknowledge that’s me and not the band, who obviously weren’t hurting for proponents as they packed out the tent outside at The Well, the chilly air getting chillier and the vibe getting its collective buzz on. I grabbed a can of coffee — honestly, if it had been a bucket, I’d have grabbed that — and watched them for a while and tried to figure out the mental block was stopping me from getting on board. Their 2018 album, Survive Sunrise, was a pick in the Year-End Poll, and I’ve been writing about the band on and off since I saw them in 2011, but everybody else had me beat by far in terms of being into it. My loss, I’ve no doubt. It usually is with that kind of thing. Gave me a chance to go inside and get warm.

Duel

Duel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Does Duel‘s reputation precede them yet? Maybe, given the fact that the room with the Desertfest NYC second stage was filling up 80 minutes before the Austin, Texas, four-piece were slated to go on. Part of that was wanting to keep warm, but the band were setting up their gear and looked surprised to see the expectant faces staring back at them. Fair enough. Duel have a pair of killer studio records under their collective belt for Heavy Psych Sounds in 2016’s Fears of the Dead (review here) and 2017’s Witchbanger (review here), and they’re about to unleash the third, Valley of Shadows (review here), on a speedy turnaround May 17 and do the bulk of their label’s impending West Coast package tour earlier next month as preparation for heading to Europe for a month on the road there. So yeah, Duel seemed to be in a good place as they came back on stage at their appointed time and destroyed that tiny room in a way that would’ve translated well to the stage outside, playing like a band taking their delivery to the next level and doing their best work to-date on all fronts. They were riotous and a pleasure to watch. It once again got slammed in the small second stage space as they rose to the occasion, and while everyone there may or may not have known what they were in for, they will next time. Duel are very quickly making themselves essential. A do-not-miss reputation won’t, and maybe doesn’t already, hurt.

Monolord

Monolord (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not sure if Monolord‘s new album — which will also mark their jump from RidingEasy Records to Relapse — is done, or if they’re just already touring for it, but the Swedish trio might as well have been flashing a sign from the stage that said, “NOW IS THE HEADLINING PORTION OF THE EVENING.” Indeed, they and Elder who would follow made up the headliner spots and in the case of Monolord, their primeval riffing, ultra-grooving largesse, chemistry boomed like it was in a meth lab and still-just-dudes-who-like-to-play-loud stage presence was already a highlight of the weekend by the time the first song of their set was done. They’re on the road in the US only briefly this time, having done the Psycho Smokeout on the West Coast as well as this, but they’ll be back for sure after a summer spent in Europe. And I don’t know when they’re record’s coming out, but you’d be a fool not to hold a place on your best-of-the-year list for it whenever it actually happens, because if Monolord have proven anything to this point in their career, it’s consistent. Other bands play, Monolord kill. Make the t-shirt with the spoof logo and sell a million of them. You’re welcome.

Green Milk from the Planet Orange

Green Milk from the Planet Orange (Photo by JJ Koczan)

All three members of Tokyo’s Green Milk from the Planet Orange played seated. Or at least for the most part seated, since I don’t think any of them stayed sitting the entire time, up to and including the drummer, but the arrangement gave their set on the second stage a jazzy feel, with their mega-freaked-out astro-prog heavy grind enhancing that mood. A neon green bass was visible even on what all day was the dark side of the stage, and they likewise were a beacon of weirdness in an undulating sea of riffery. A band on their own wavelength aren’t always easy to listen to — and I’d imagine Green Milk from the Planet Orange‘s new record, which they had for sale outside in the merch area, is plenty frenetic — but the trio made the math add up in their sound and were fun even as they dared the crowd to keep up with them. Most couldn’t, frankly, but that’s the nature of the kind of progressivism a band like that taps into. It’s never been and it never will be for everyone. It was awesome to witness, however, and for the technical prowess and the weirdo vibes coming off the stage, they were a highlight unto themselves. You need that sore thumb band sometimes.

Elder

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Elder are arguably the most forward-thinking band in the current American heavy rock underground. By starting out young, they’ve become the spearhead of a generation of acts, and the work they’ve done throughout this decade is unmatched in its scope and the sheer will toward exploring new ideas. Plus it’s heavy. And plus, it rocks. I mean, there are a lot of krautrock bands out there. They’re in Europe. And the US has its fair share of heavy in various stripes, whether it’s desert rock or psych or doom metal or whatever the hell else we’re on this week, but what Elder tie together with their sound is a signature blend of influences that no one else can match, and their style of songwriting is inimitable. The way their parts interact with each other like Nick DiSalvo, Michael Risberg, Jack Donovan and Matt Couto have a musical conversation on stage. The way they’re able to build tension subtly and find just the right moment to swap out trajectories and head someplace else. It’s brilliant in the very real sense of luminosity. They are important, yes, because their influence will continue to spread, but they’re also incredible just to stand back and watch play. Every bit the headliner at this stage in their career, and I suspect they will remain that way for as long as they choose to do so. This is a special band doing special work on their own terms. Long may they reign.

Mick’s Jaguar

Mick's Jaguar (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not going to pretend I had it in me to stand there for the entire Mick’s Jaguar set. I didn’t have it in me to stand there for the entire Elder set — I had to go sit inside for a couple minutes at one point or another — but I’d seen every band on all three days of Desertfest NY, so you’re damn right I stuck around and waited for them to go on. I love how New York’s version of party rock is still just a little mean. It’s the punk lineage, or at least the spirit of that culture, because even when a band like Mick’s Jaguar come out on the second stage and start tearing into songs from 2018’s Fame and Fortune (review here), there’s still a little edge of “fuck you” to the good time they’re having. Like they’re saying, “fuck you we’re fun.” And they were a blast. It was late and dark in the room, but a lot of people had gone home after Elder, so Mick’s Jaguar were kind of the pre-after-party for the after-party happening after the show. I knew vaguely what to expect going into the set, but as tired as I was and as much as I still had that hour drive home ahead of me, I knew staying for one more song was the right way to go, and hey, no regrets.

The actual after-party was being held at The Anchored Inn around the corner. I said goodbyes at the venue and farted my way over there for a couple minutes to see how the cool kids live. They live boozy. I tried not to put my backpack in anyone’s face, failed, and then once again took my leave. Maybe I hadn’t been ready after all for Desertfest NY to end. Maybe I was delaying that drive home.

Either way, the toll would be paid this morning. Got to bed before 1AM, but the alarm went off at 5:50AM to get up, pack the car and drive back to Massachusetts so The Patient Mrs. could go to work. It had been traffic all weekend, so I should’ve expected no different. Left at 7:30AM, got in at 1:30PM. Stops for diaper-change, gas, etc., but yeah. Still six hours for a trip that’s ideally not much over four.

That had me pretty much comatose for the afternoon, but I started this review during the baby’s nap and I’m finishing it now after he’s gone to bed. I’m falling asleep while I type and I still need to sort pictures, so I’ll leave it here, but before I go, heartfelt congratulations to Matte Vandeven and Reece Tee on a job well done, and thanks to them, Sarika, Jake and everyone else involved in the festival crew for having me along for it. I felt welcomed in a way that warmed my heart and set the tone for the entire experience. It was much, much appreciated. Here’s to the next one.

More pics after the jump:

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Freak Valley 2019: God is an Astronaut, Monolord, King Buffalo, Stonefield, Duel and Pretty Lightning Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

freak valley 2019 banner

Once again, Freak Valley 2019 adds a righteous swath of bands to its lineup for this June, and once again, I had the pleasure of writing the announcement. It’s shaping up to be a huge bill, and from YOB and C.O.C. marking 25 years of Deliverance to Slomatics heralding their next release and It’s Not Night: It’s Space making an awaited European debut, it’s a wide swath of heavy from Europe and the US and to be frank, it looks pretty unbelievable. Imagine seeing Spaceslug and King Buffalo on the same lineup. Woof. Or Arc of Ascent and Electric Moon? The heart breaks at the thought.

I’d go on about the bands added this time — what with the Monolord and the God is an Astronaut and the Stonefield and whatnot — but again, I wrote the announcement below, so I’ve kind of already done that. To do so again feels a little redundant.

Freak Valley posted word thusly:

freak valley 2019 poster

FREAK VALLEY 2019 – GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT | MONOLORD | KING BUFFALO | STONEFIELD | DUEL | PRETTY LIGHTNING

Freaks, Assemble!

Gather ‘round the fires burning the dystopian fuel of your bygone expectations bear witness to another massive Freak Valley Festival 2019 lineup announcement! It. Is. Substantial. And we are accordingly substantially thrilled to bring to it to you.

First, it is with regret we inform you that Harsh Toke won’t be joining us this year. These things happen. However, the party must go on, so join us as we welcome God Is An Astronaut, Monolord, King Buffalo, Stonefield, DUEL, and Pretty Lightning to FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL 2019!

You know who these bands are, but just for fun, let’s go through, shall we?

GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT

More than 15 years on from getting their start, Irish instrumentalists God is an Astronaut seamlessly blend heavy post-rock and psychedelic soundscapes to an evocative degree that is all their own. In 2018, the band released ‘Epitaph,’ which was somewhat ironically titled given the vital spirit of its creativity but nonetheless carried a melancholic feel, wistful even in its most colorful moments. This is a band we love and we know that they’re going to be something truly special for Freak Valley 2019. We can’t tell you enough: Don’t miss them.

MONOLORD

Sweden’s reigning kingpins of tectonic riffery come to FVF on the heels of ‘Rust,’ their third and most expansive offering to-date. It’s hard to believe it was only six years ago they made their debut, but in the time since, they’ve toured relentlessly across Europe and the US and have left nothing but destruction in their wake. As their influence begins to spread, Monolord only continue to look forward, and while they prepare to move on to next work, they’ll bring their inimitable groove to once more affirm the righteousness of their riff worship.

KING BUFFALO

Working with producer Ben McLeod from All Them Witches, last year King Buffalo released their second album, ‘Longing to Be the Mountain,’ and indeed, they became it. They may hail from the cold reaches of upstate New York, but King Buffalo’s sound is warm and inviting and made all the more distinct by a level of craft that is their own. Their songs are spacious and tripped out with chemistry-driven jams, but they never seem to get lost either. At least not more than they want to. We’re happy their path will lead them to Freak Valley this year.

STONEFIELD

The Findlay Family Band comes to Netphen! Melbourne’s Stonefield is comprised of sisters Amy, Sarah, Holly and Hannah Findlay, and their take on classic psychedelia is peppered with right-on fuzz, a penchant for memorable melody, and just a bit of synthy weirdness that made their 2018 album, ‘Far From Earth,’ as dance-ready as it was nod-out. Get blissed as Stonefield come to Freak Valley for the first time and change all our heads in the process. Can’t wait. Also, no one really calls them the “Findlay Family Band,” so don’t do that.

DUEL

Duel have been doing their bit to “Keep Austin Weird” — as the bumper stickers say — for the better part of the last half-decade, putting out their debut ‘Fears of the Dead’ in 2016 and following it up with ‘Witchbanger’ the last year. They’ve put their noses to the tablesaw of touring ever since and we gladly open our doors, arms and hearts to welcome their acid-laced boogie intensity to Freak Valley. And their records are killer, no doubt about it, but live they absolutely bring it to another level. You’ll be buying a t-shirt, make no mistake.

PRETTY LIGHTNING

Far be it from us to tell you how to live your life or anything, but if you haven’t go hit up Bandcamp at some point today and take a listen to Pretty Lightning’s ‘The Rhythm of Ooze.’ The Saarbrücken duo released the LP in 2017 and used it to envision a psych-honed Delta blues vibe as much of the earth as it was stretched out on some cosmic ether. Soul music for those bound for the center of the galaxy. And once you take the time to listen, we won’t need to tell you to see them at Freak Valley. You’ll just know it’s where you have to be.

Line-up 2019:
Wolfmother, Corrosion Of Conformity, Brant Bjork, Yob, God Is An Astronaut, The Obsessed Official, Monolord, The Vintage Caravan, Electric Moon, King Buffalo, Minami Deutsch, Pristine, Stonefield, It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Spaceslug, Arc of Ascent, DUEL, The Fierce & The Dead, Pretty Lightning, Dead Lord

Freak Valley Festival 2019 // No Fillers – Just Killers

Your Rock Freaks love you

www.freakvalley.de
https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley
https://www.facebook.com/events/299339670806919/
https://twitter.com/FreakValley

Stonefield, Far From Earth (2018)

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SonicBlast Moledo 2019 Adds Monolord, Lucifer, Satan’s Satyrs, MaidaVale, Sacri Monti and More to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It was good lineup after one announcement, but here we are and SonicBlast Moledo 2019 has announced the next batch of acts for its bill, which, when you step back and really take it in, seems all the more formidable. Note the San Diego infusion this time around from Sacri Monti, Harsh Toke and Petyr. I can’t help but wonder if that might mean those bands will head out on tour together in Europe sometime around August. Would make sense, since they all seem familiar with each other anyhow, but of course that’s speculation.

What isn’t speculation is that one continues to daydream about a quick weekend trip to Portugal in order to see this festival. Have you ever watched videos from SonicBlast? Seen pictures afterwards? It looks pretty incredible, and somehow the thought of seeing Monolord in such a rare and gorgeous setting seems all the more fun, let alone the classic-style rock of MaidaVale.

Ah, to dream.

The announcement was posted on the ol’ social medias and looked an awful lot like this:

sonicblast moledo 2019 poster square

We’re thrilled to announce ten more bands to the 9th edition of SonicBlast Moledo!

Monolord, LUCIFER, Toundra, Satan’s Satyrs, SACRI MONTI, HARSH TOKE, PETYR, KALEIDOBOLT, MaidaVale and MAGGOT HEART will bring us some loud heavy fuzzy doom tunes!

Om (usa) + Orange Goblin (uk) + My Sleeping Karma (ger) + Windhand (usa) + Monolord (se) + Lucifer (se) + The Obsessed (usa) + Dopethrone (can) + Toundra (es) + Satan’s Satyrs (usa) + Sacri Monti (usa) + Harsh Toke (usa) + Petyr (usa) + Zig Zags (usa) + Kaleidobolt (fi) + Maidavale (se) + Minami Deutsch (jp) + Maggot Heart (se) +++ many more tba +++

Artwork by Branca Studio

Tickets are now available at here.
(Also available in Portugal, through BOL physical point of sales: Fnac, Worten, Ctt’s…)

SonicBlast Moledo 2019
8, 9 and 10 of August
Moledo
Portugal

https://www.facebook.com/events/183265999284942/
https://www.facebook.com/sonicblastmoledo/
https://sonicblastmoledo.com/

Monolord, Live at Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, NY, Sept. 2018

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Desertfest NYC 2019 First Lineup Announcement: Windhand, Elder, Monolord, The Skull, The Atomic Bitchwax, Danava, Mirror Queen, Worshipper and Dommengang to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

DESERTFEST NYC 2019 BANNER

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here or anything, but I’ve been posting about Desertfest lineups pretty much since the whole thing started. And to me, this already looks like a Desertfest. The first lineup announcement for Desertfest NYC 2019 has been made, and the inaugural New York incarnation of the festival brand in partnership with Sound of Liberation and Tee Pee Records seems to represent multiple sides well. Windhand and their new Relapse labelmates Monolord are given prominent showing, as are Elder — because, let’s face it, if you’re running the first-ever Desertfest on US soil and you don’t get Elder to play, you’re fucking up — and Tee Pee Records is well represented with the likes of The Skull, The Atomic Bitchwax, Danava, Mirror Queen and Worshipper.

Rounding out the bill are L.A.’s Dommengang, who would seem to be the odd band out, but one listen to their Love Jail album that Thrill Jockey put out and you’ll see it’s no mystery why they’re here. I wouldn’t be surprised if they wound up touring east with another West Coast band — Danava come immediately to mind — but of course nothing to that effect has been announced and I’m just speculating.

Point is it’s already a solid bill and in addition to the bands, we now know that the venues involved will be the Saint Vitus Bar and The Well. I’ll have more on the lineup and whatnot as soon as I see it, but early bird tickets are on sale now at the long link below.

Dig it:

DESERTFEST NYC 2019 POSTER

FIRST ACTS ANNOUNCED FOR DF NYC + EARLY-BIRDS NOW ON SALE! We are stoked to welcome Windhand, Elder, Monolord, The Skull, The Atomic Bitchwax, DANAVA, Mirror Queen, Worshipper & Dommengang to the first edition of Desertfest New York – Taking place at Saint Vitus Bar on Friday 26th April and The Well on Saturday 27th April + Sunday 28th April.

A limited amount of 3-day early-bird passes are available for $65 via the below link – https://www.ticketweb.com/event/desertfest-nyc-2019-the-well-tickets/8942735?pl=thewell&fbclid=IwAR28zNtuppWWRVoi3vCXRkeGIg4wOD4FShfPgjbIPDGiOGPDOzbL2vj_UWE

Artwork by the wildly talented Mercerrock (Brian Mercer Design)

https://facebook.com/Desertfestnyc/
http://www.desertfest.nyc/

Monolord, Rust (2017)

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Monolord Sign to Relapse Records; New Album Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Swedish riff-expansionists Monolord have inked a deal to release their next album through Relapse Records late in 2019. The signing comes after years of widespread acclaim for the hard-touring, thick-toned Gothenburg-based trio, whose 2017 album, Rust (review here), was their third on RidingEasy Records. Over the last five-plus years, they’ve risen to prominence as one of the most impact-producing and forward-thinking purveyors of next-generation amplifier worship, and their live shows have only grown more incendiary over that same period. Touring like bastards has certainly helped in that regard.

While we’re on the subject, Monolord are currently on tour in Europe with Kadavar, and completed a headlining US run to support Rust earlier this year. While they’re aiming to have a new LP together for the end of 2019, one can only expect more touring to come as they enter this new phase of their career and seem poised to take their place among the foremost acts of their day. This makes Monolord and YOB labelmates. Imagine that tour for a minute.

Fresh off the PR wire:

monolord

MONOLORD: Sign To Relapse Records; New Album Coming Late 2019

Relapse is proud to announce the signing of Swedish trio MONOLORD. Formed in Gothenburg in 2013, MONOLORD quickly burst onto the scene releasing three critically-acclaimed full-lengths in a four-year span (Empress Rising, Vænir and Rust) on RidingEasy Records all while touring relentlessly around the globe. MONOLORD is a rare breed: A band both encompassing and transcending genre; a vortex of heavy rock density that consumes all others. The band’s enveloping, syrupy sludge is a state of mind, with guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, drummer Esben Willems and bassist Mika Häkki create a massive, dynamic sound with ultra-low frequencies serving as its fourth member. MONOLORD’s yet-to-be-titled fourth studio album is expected to be released in late 2019. Stay tuned for more information.

MONOLORD comment on the signing:

“Stoked about this! Working with people who are driven by the passion for music above anything else has always been key for us. The fine music lovers at Relapse are just the kind of passionate people we want to spread the decibel gospel with and we feel confident that this is gonna be a very sweet ride together.”

MONOLORD are currently on tour throughout Europe with Kadavar. A full list of remaining tour dates is available below.

MONOLORD Tour Dates:

— All Dates Nov 15-Dec 01 w/ Kadaver —

Nov 15 Lausanne, CH @ Le Romandie
Nov 16 Zurich, CH @ Mascotte Zurich
Nov 17 Eindhoven, NL @ Helldorado
Nov 18 Groningen, NL @ VERA Groningen
Nov 20 Bielefeld, DE @ Forum Bielefeld
Nov 21 Kortrijk, BE @ Concertzaal
Nov 22 Karlsruhe, DE @ Substage
Nov 23 Leipzig, DE @ Sonne Island
Nov 24 Schweinfurt, DE @ Stattbahnhof Schweinfurt
Nov 25 Neukirchen, DE @ Sagewerk
Nov 27 Cham, DE @ L.A. Live Style Cafe
Nov 28 Munich, DE @ Backstage Munchen
Nov 29 Bochum, DE @ Zeche Bochum
Nov 30 Saarbrucken, DE @ Garage
Dec 01 Freiburg, DE @ Jazzhaus Freiburg

MONOLORD Is:

Esben Willems – Drums
Thomas Jäger – Guitar Vocals
Mika Häkki – Bass

monolord.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/MonolordSweden
monolord.com
http://relapse.com
https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords/

Monolord, Rust (2017)

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Psycho Smokeout Set for April 20 in Los Angeles; Elder, Monolord, Amenra, Belzebong and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psycho smokeout 2019

With the advent of the Psycho Smokeout in Los Angeles next April 20, Psycho Entertainment partners with RidingEasy Records and enters the fray of a busy Spring festival season, pushing Elder and Monolord into headliner positions that both deserve and importing other Psycho veterans like Amenra and Belzebong alongside RidingEasy groups Here Lies Man, Electric Citizen, BlackWater HolyLight, R.I.P. and Zig Zags. If you don’t see the significance of this, think of all the fests happening in Europe at the time, whether it’s Roadburn just one week before or Desertfest the first weekend of May. Lineup-wise, the first-ever Psycho Smokeout would seem to be more in line with the latter than the former, but still, it’s a packed Spring for those up for a bit of intercontinental travel.

However, a killer lineup is a killer lineup, and the Psycho Smokeout has one. Looks like it’ll just be the one day — fortunate that April 20 is a Saturday in 2019 — and I’ll assume it’s two stages, though I don’t have confirmation of that or really anything other than the groups playing, which, frankly, is enough for the moment. April’s a ways away, so there may be changes and whatnot, but especially if this takes off, it’s an important happening in the market and bound to turn heads.

RidingEasy‘s announcement and the lineup info follow:

psycho smokeout 2019 poster

The rumors are true! We’ve teamed up with Psycho Las Vegas For the first annual psycho smoke out on 4/20 in LOS ANGELES. We’ll be vending and loads of our bands are playing including but not limited to Monolord R.I.P. Electric Citizen Blackwater Holylight Here Lies Man Zig Zags and more!!!!

Tickets on sale https://psychosmokeout.eventbrite.com/.

RidingEasy Records & Psycho Entertainment present:
First Annual “Psycho Smokeout”
Saturday, April 20th, 2019
Catch One Riff Compound, Los Angeles

|| FULL LINEUP ||

MONOLORD . ELDER . AMENRA . BELZEBONG . DREADNOUGHT . UADA . GOYA . ELECTRIC CITIZEN . CHRCH . CLOAK . HERE LIES MAN . TOKE . RIP . ZIG ZAGS . HAUNT . CLOVEN . HOWLING GIANT . BLACKWATER HOLYLIGHT

https://www.facebook.com/events/179272422957103/

https://www.vivapsycho.com/
http://www.ridingeasyrecs.com/

Monolord, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2018

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Live Review: Psycho Las Vegas Saturday, 08.18.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Psycho las Vegas 2018

08.19.18 – 5:45AM – Sunday morning – Hotel room

I woke up an hour before both my alarms — my early alarm to write and my later alarm to shower in that glorious Hard Rock Hotel shower and start the day. Bothersome but not the end of the world. One doesn’t come to a festival expecting a lot of rest. Make do with what you get.

Today also started an hour later, so I actually had a little time to kill. psycho las vegas 2018I sat down in the center bar for a while and drank a coffee, just kind of soaked in the place and the reality of the casino’s weirdness. They were playing rock videos on the tvs in the bar and the Little League world series next to each other. The Yankees game was on elsewhere but I didn’t get to see a score.

I’ve met a lot of really nice people who’ve said a lot of really nice things about this site. A lot. And it’s been good to put faces to names I’ve seen on posts and comments and stuff like that. I’ll admit Vegas isn’t really my kind of town, but I feel incredibly fortunate to be here this weekend and I’m utterly stupefied every single time someone comes up to say hi. Thank you.

Day kicked off in Vinyl, which packed out early. Here’s how it went down:

Venomous Maximus

Venomous Maximus (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Some mystery to start off the day with Houston’s Venomous Maximus, who played as the trio of guitarist Christian Larson, bassist Trevi Biles and drummer Bongo Brungardt, sans frontman guitarist/vocalist Gregg Higgins, who’s a significant presence to the band. I’m not looking to spread rumors, and I was hoping to run into the guys after they played so I could ask what happened, but what I heard was that Higgins went Vegas AWOL, which is apparently a thing that happens here. That left Larson on vocals, and he did an admirable job filling in on songs like the title-track of last year’s No Warning (review here) and “October 14th” from 2015’s Firewalker (review here). With the lone guitar and Larson stepping into a frontman role, it was a markedly rawer presentation than one would expect from Venomous Maximus, since Higgins‘ theatricality has always been such a big part of what they do live, but if anything, it proved that the heart of the band has always been their songwriting, which remains memorable and largely undervalued. Given the circumstance, it’s commendable they played at all, but by the end of the set Vinyl was slammed with people and surprisingly loud for one in the afternoon.

Batushka

Batushka (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Elaborate. It was not a minor production. Polish black metallers Batushka opened The Joint about a half-hour past their listed start time, and the line outside to get in told the tale of a band people were itching to see. Robed and chanting, surrounded by candles, incense, vestments and other sundry appropriated Christian this-and-thats, they tore open a cosmic blackened assault that was powerful. Elsewhere at the Hard Rock, and completely unrelated to the festival, there was a bikini contest happening, and I kept thinking what an amazing and odd planet it is that Batushka and the bikini contest would be going on at the same time in basically the same place. Surreal. The production, lights, sound, everything, was spectacular in the truest sense, and as I was basically unfamiliar with them going into the set, the delay made more sense once they actually got going, spread out on the stage as they were, with multiple vocalists and the whole ceremonial vibe. It was fascinating to see them use so much religious imagery and iconography, giving the whole set the feeling of being a mass, and then of course ripping it in half. Or maybe burning it to the ground? Either way.

Forming the Void

Forming the Void (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Forming the Void are a better band than they know. They’re starting to figure it out. You can hear that happening on their third record, Rift (review here), and accordingly, it’s a really exciting moment to have the chance to catch the Louisiana four-piece live. They started out somewhat reserved on stage, but by the end, guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Thomas Colley were more fully engaged with the material, and when they closed out with “On We Sail” into “Saber” from their 2016 debut, Skyward (review here), one could hear the progressive sonic growth they’ve undertaken. They’re doing everything right. They have the songs, they have the aesthetic, they have a budding presence on stage. They just need time to keep doing what they’re doing. I hope they tour more. Vinyl was, again, full for them, and they already had the room on their side. They’re in the process of becoming something really special as a group, and one only hopes they keep moving forward the way they have thus far into their tenure. They were a must-see for me this weekend, and I heard from a lot of other people who said much the same. There was no mistaking why once they got underway. Felt lucky to watch their set.

With the Dead

With the Dead (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Speaking of doom royalty, one Lee Dorrian strutted out onto the Joint stage with all the assurance of a high roller at one of the tables out in the casino. I’ve been fortunate enough to see With the Dead once before, but this set was going to be something inherently different from the grime-laden ubergroup, since Dorrian and his chapeaued fellow former Cathedral bandmate, bassist Leo Smee, were playing as a trio with Unearthly Trance‘s Darren Verni sitting in on drums. The band canceled their appearance at Bloodstock in the UK just over a week ago owing to some unforeseen situation with guitarist Tim Bagshaw (also of Ramesses), and sure enough, Bagshaw didn’t make this trip either. Still, the whole point of With the Dead is to sound as filthy and maddeningly doomed as possible, and channeling Smee‘s bass through guitar amps in addition to his own was a good way to get there. They opened with “Living with the Dead” from their 2015 self-titled debut (review here) and made a highlights of “Isolation” and “Cocaine Phantoms” from last year’s Love from With the Dead (review here), the low-end wash and downer gloom pervading through low lights and massive volume, and though they were without a guitarist, the issue found a welcome answer as Scott Carlson (Repulsion, Septic Tank, ex-Cathedral, etc.) came out for a cover of Cathedral‘s “Ebony Tears” from their landmark 1991 debut, Forest of Equilibrium, thereby finishing their set with about as deep a plunge as you can get. Probably not their ideal circumstance, but righteous just the same.

Monolord

Monolord (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The ascent over the last five years of Swedish trio Monolord has been among the most meteoric in underground heavy. Amplifier worship, tone worship, riff worship and worship of the very idea of sonic largesse itself have been their aesthetic calling cards over the course of their three-to-date RidingEasy Records full-lengths, but the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems have fleshed out their sound to incorporate a thundering spaciousness steadily encroaching on psychedelia. Their latest record, 2017’s Rust (review here), is the most progressive in that respect, but they still bring a crushing groove that they’ve quickly made their own. They’ve also toured — a lot. But I’m lame as shit, so it’d been a long time since I last caught a gig and it was nothing short of a pleasure to watch them unleash their massive lumber on the assembled and waiting crowd. Obviously used to playing on bigger stages, they seemed to climb inside of each riff and inhabit the material, channeling it physically as well as through the P.A., and the nod that resulted filled the room from front to back, upstairs and down. They’re a band living up to their potential in every way, and I’m already looking forward to what album number four brings.

Voivod

Voivod (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Here’s a general rule for life, and stop me if I’ve told you this before — oh wait it’s the internet you can’t stop me well tough shit — but: Go see Voivod. If you’re in a place where they are or can put yourself in a place where they’ll be, do that. Go see Voivod. You will never regret it, either in that moment or later on. And while I’m doling out advice, here’s another one: If you meet someone, and they’re a real Voivod fan, chances are that person knows their shit. The Canadian weirdo-sci-fi-thrash legends appeal to a very specific subset of headbanger, and I’ve never known a Voivod fan who was a prick. And I’ve been luck enough to know a few. They have a new record on the way — always — and with founding drummer Michel “Away” Langevin pounding away behind and long-tenured frontman Denis “Snake” Bélanger getting the dusk-time pool stage crowd into the show, the vibe was only positive the whole way through. Flanked by guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain, who’s been in the band now for a decade — time flies — and bassist Dominique “Rocky” Laroche, they hit into new single “Obsolete Beings” from the upcoming The Wake and it fit right in with classics like “Overreaction” and the eponymous “Voivod” from their decades-spanning catalog. What a blast. My phone registered the outside temperature at 106 degrees Fahrenheit, but Voivod seemed right at home in the swelter and were an unadulterated good time. Go see Voivod.

Godflesh

Godflesh (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Man, Margaret Thatcher must have been the absolute fucking worst to produce the kind of disaffection Godflesh continue to proffer. Their dystopian churn is, of course, almost painfully relevant today despite its origins over 30 years ago, and with guitarist/vocalist/programmer Justin K. Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green on a stark, largely empty Joint stage, they unfurled the oppressive electrified grit that’s made them so influential for so long. They’ve been active again for a while now, with two albums out in last year’s Post Self (review here) and 2014’s A World Lit Only by Fire (review here), so have gone well beyond “reunion band” status, but a Godflesh show still doesn’t feel like something that happens every day, and it’s always something special to watch their blend of inhuman(e) audio — the beats, the electronics, etc. — and the sheer emotion with which Broadrick executes his guitar and vocals. With Green on the other side a steady presence, Broadrick thrashed and headbanged and tried to tear himself apart with his playing, and each of his shouting bellows brought fists in the air from the crowd out in front. Very much the opposite vibe of Voivod out at the pool despite both groups’ ’80s origins, but likewise a wonder and a pleasure to behold. I wouldn’t mind a new Jesu record either, but as far as I’m concerned, Godflesh can just go on perpetually and that’ll be fine, thanks. The world needs them now more than ever.

Howling Giant

Howling Giant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I knew I wanted to see Nashville’s Howling Giant. I didn’t know quite how much I wanted to see them until they started. Having toured their way to Vegas in a hearse — because of course — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tom Polzine, drummer/vocalist Zach Wheeler and bassist Mike Kerr took the stage in Vinyl with an immediately outgoing personality. Actually, they showed that before they even went on, hopping down front after they set up to talk to the crowd on the other side of the barricade, but it was for sure in the performance as well. Their 2017 EP, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (review here), and its 2016 predecessor, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 (review here), featured heavily in the set, and all around they put on a show that was definitely about having fun, being loud, rocking out and all that happy whatnot, but also deceptively intricate and progressive. Their studio material has carried that over to some degree, but it’s clear they’re moving forward with their sound, and one hopes they continue to do so as they move toward their inevitable, awaited full-length debut. They and Forming the Void were my two totally-gotta-see bands for the day, and they would seem to share a bright future in developing their own take on heavy rock. For Howling Giant, not even a busted snare stand could stop them, as Polzine and Kerr treated the crowd to an improv psych jam while Wheeler got a new one and they were back up and running in no time, pro-style. Nicely done.

Spirit Adrift

Spirit Adrift (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There seemed to be some trouble with the monitors before they went on, but once Phoenix four-piece Spirit Adrift got going, the project spearheaded by guitarist/vocalist Nate Garrett (ex-Take Over and Destroy) brought out a vibe that spoke even more to classic metal than the doom with which the band is so often lumped. Their late-2017 sophomore LP, Curse of Conception, brought progressive tendencies to bear following their 2016 debut, Chained to Oblivion (review here), and while the band was founded by Garrett as a solo-act, there’s no shortage of chemistry that’s come up between Garrett and his cohorts, guitarist Jeff Owens from Goya, bassist Chase Mason (also Gatecreeper) and drummer Marcus Bryant, and with the recording of that second album and a load of touring leading up to this show and their stop Aug. 21 at Brick by Brick in San Diego, they they were on fire the whole way through. Taking the stage to Buck Owens‘ “Big in Vegas,” they took the prime slot at the pool — CKY would play, but a few hours later — and never looked back, their performance duly energized to suit the occasion. If this was what their tour was leading up to, then it seemed to be worth it.

Got up stupid early this morning and seem to be undergoing a science experiment whereby I trade out sleep for coffee. Hour per 24 oz. cup? Hell if I know. What, you’re supposed keep track of your findings?

Today is the final day of Psycho Las Vegas 2018, which is an utterly bizarre beardo circus to behold, and it’s also Gene Roddenberry‘s birthday, which is as much an occasion to celebrate as I can possibly think. All the more reason to bash one’s head once more on the skull-cracking granite that is Psycho Las Vegas, and leave it to tomorrow to reassemble the pieces.

If you’re here, have fun. If you’re anywhere, thanks for reading.

More pics after the jump:

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Monolord Announce Headlining US Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

monolord (Photo by Mike Bax)

Is this Monolord‘s first headlining stretch in the US? If so, one can only argue it’s time. The Swedish trio have hit stages alongside the likes of ConanUfomammut and Firebreather — among multitudes of others — and their third album, last year’s Rust (review here), was their most accomplished outing to date. So yeah, they pretty much should be headlining, whether they’ve done so before or not.

The run will begin at Psycho Las Vegas on Aug. 18 and cover a good swath of the Midwest, including a stop in Chicago for Scorched Tundra X, as well as the East Coast. There are shows with Red Fang, and the requisite stops at places like Kung Fu Necktie in Philly and Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, but I’m interested to see who’ll be supporting them as they go. Another imported act? Locals? Are they traveling with anyone? Especially starting at Psycho as they are, they could put together a hell of a package to go out with, I’m sure.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Dates are presented by Nanotear. Here’s info from the PR wire:

monolord headlining tour

Monolord announce U.S. headlining tour dates in August following Psycho Las Vegas

Gothenburg, Sweden trio Monolord announce U.S. headlining tour dates following their performance at Psycho Las Vegas festival in August. Please see all dates below.

Monolord is a rare breed: A band both encompassing and transcending genre; a vortex of heavy rock density that consumes all others. Their thunderous, tuneful heft has built a rabid international fanbase in short order since their 2014 debut. But Rust, the band’s third full length, truly exemplifies why some refer to them as the Nirvana of doom.

Monolord’s enveloping, syrupy sludge is a vibe, it’s a state of mind. Not riffs for riffs sake, but a collective buzzing, rattling and rumbling that’s more total environment than collection of songs. Together, guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, drummer Esben Willems and bassist Mika Häkki create a massive, dynamic sound with ultra-low frequencies serving as its fourth member.

Rust is available on LP, CD and download, released September 29th, 2017 via RidingEasy Records.

MONOLORD U.S. TOUR 2018:
08/18 Las Vegas, NV @ Hard Rock Hotel (Psycho Las Vegas)
08/22 Memphis, TN @ The Hi Tone
08/23 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
08/24 Asheville, NC @ Mothlight
08/25 Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlie’s
08/26 Newport, KY @ Southgate House
08/27 Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
08/28 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
08/29 Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary
08/30 Indianapolis, IN @ White Rabbit
08/31 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle (Scorched Tundra)
09/01 Millvale, PA @ Funhouse
09/02 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk
09/05 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East
09/07 Raleigh, NC @ Raleigh (Hopscotch)
09/08 Richmond, VA @ Capital Ale House *
09/09 Washington DC @ Rock N Roll Hotel *
09/10 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar
09/11 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
* with Red Fang

monolord.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/MonolordSweden
monolord.com
ridingeasyrecords.com

Monolord, Rust (2017)

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