Keep it Low 2017: Colour Haze, Belzebong, The Necromancers and A Great River in the Sky Added

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

keep it low 2017 banner

I was kind of wondering if the Munich-based Keep it Low festival would add Colour Haze for Keep it Low 2017. The long-running German heavy psych progenitors have played multiple editions of the event and have kind of become a staple of the lineup, so to see them added as they support their new album, In Her Garden (review here), is definitely cool. Joining them in this round of adds are BelzebongThe Necromancers and A Great River in the Sky, and on a bill with Saint VitusBrant BjorkRadio MoscowMars Red SkyConanUfomammutStoned JesusMonolordMos Generator and so on — the list is fucking wild — they only make it stronger and richer.

Of all the Fall fests in Europe — there are many and I won’t take away from what any of them are doing — Keep it Low has been the one I’ve most wanted to see over the past few years. It’s grown into what really seems like a unique vibe between its stages, skatepark, biergarten, and so on, and though they’re promising heavier acts this year and delivering that already with the likes of Ufomammut and Vitus and Conan, etc. — see also Belzebong here — there’s still plenty of heavy psych and rock and roll to be had, and that blend, as we all know, is what it’s all about. Anyway, it looks awesome. It won’t be this year, but I’ll get there one of these days.

It’s presented, of course, by Sound of Liberation, who updated the lineup thusly:

keep-it-low-2017-new-poster

Keepers,
Today we have 4 new band announcements for Keep It Low Festival 2017! We’re happy to present you:

Colour Haze
BelzebonG
The Necromancers
A Great River In The Sky

It has become a kind of tradition that mighty Colour Haze headline Keep It Low’s Friday, so never change a winning team!

Get your 3-day tickets here: http://bit.ly/2lr4hzH and….keep it low!

Line Up:
BRANT BJORK (with Special Guest Sean Wheeler) | SAINT VITUS | RADIO MOSCOW | MARS RED SKY | UFOMAMMUT | STONED JESUS | CONAN | MONOLORD | NAXATRAS | HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES | BEASTMAKER | MOS GENERATOR | USNEA | ELEPHANT TREE | KALEIDOBOLT | MOUNT HUSH | GODSGROUND
+ many more TBA

Limited 3-day tickets available!

October 20 | 21 | 22 2017
Feierwerk München

After an amazing and once again sold out edition in 2016 you can expect 3 days, 27-30 bands, amazing people and good vibes at Keep It Low 2017! For the very first time we will have the “Doom-Frühschoppen” with some HEAVY bands on the last day of the Festival.

https://www.facebook.com/events/201489380309269/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival/

Colour Haze, In Her Garden (2017)

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Colour Haze Update In Her Garden Vinyl Progress; Confirm Live Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I know a few people were holding off on digging into the latest outing from Colour Haze until vinyl could be had, and hey, I get it. That’s not really my mindset — give it to me as soon as possible; unmastered? rough mix? still being recorded? can I sit in the control room? — but if you want your dinner cooked a certain way, sometimes it takes longer to have the meal. Accordingly, if you want vinyl these days, that has its own wait time. If you can resist just hitting up YouTube in the interim, you’re a stronger person than I am, but generally speaking, give me a CD and I’m a happy boy.

Nonetheless, Colour Haze guitarist/vocalist and Elektrohasch Schallplatten label honcho Stefan Koglek sent out the update below concerning the vinyl release for In Her Garden (review here), and it seemed only fair to post it, both for those holdouts who haven’t picked up the album yet in any form and those who might be inclined, say, to get it in multiple editions, multiple formats. I keep waiting for my Colour Haze cassette reissues. And I suspect I’ll keep waiting. Like, forever.

Colour Haze were on the road in March alongside My Sleeping Karma for a tour The Obelisk had the extreme pleasure of co-presenting. They’ve confirmed festival dates for the next couple months including SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal, Desertfest Athens and Keep it Low, where they’ll headline as hometown heroes in Munich, because right on.

Info follows courtesy of the PR wire:

colour haze

An update to: Elektrohasch 011 Colour Haze – In Her Garden DLP

The delivery from the factory is scheduled on June 27th now. All orders will be shipped until the first week of July. Thank you all for your patience and trust!

Colour Haze tour dates

apart of the Rotormania next week following shows are confirmed in 2017 so far:

30.6. – IT – Somenfest , 25050 Ome (Brescia)
08.7. – AT – Salzburg, Rockhouse Dome of Rock Festival
23.7. – GER – Riegsee, Raut Oak Fest
13.8. – POR – Moledo, Sonic Blast Moledo
07.10. – GR – Athens, Desertfest
20.10. – GER – München, Keep it Low

http://colourhaze.de/
www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, “Skydancer”

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Keep it Low 2017: Saint Vitus, Brant Bjork, Radio Moscow, Ufomammut, Naxatras, Mos Generator and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

keep-it-low-2017-generic-banner

Well, the bill for Keep it Low 2017 is packed. It would be packed if it was just Brant Bjork and Saint Vitus and Ufomammut in the lineup, but of course it goes well beyond that, with the likes of Radio Moscow, Naxatras, House of Broken Promises, Conan, Monolord, Mos Generator, Elephant Tree, Mars Red Sky and everyone else you can see below. If you can take a look at this roster of bands and not immediately start daydreaming about making the trip to the fifth installment of the Munich, Germany-based festival, you’re a better person than I am. Or you’re dead. One or the other, I guess.

One suspects that, as with last year, the Fall European fest season will have some overlap. You’ll note Beastmaker here as well as on Up in Smoke. Ditto that VitusBrant BjorkUfomammutRadio MoscowUsnea and Kaleidobolt. Aside from the hand of Sound of Liberation in putting these events together, weekend fests make great anchors for touring groups. Club shows all week, fests every weekend? I can’t imagine a touring act wouldn’t sign up for that, so yeah, probably some more familiar names will be making their way out between these, the Desertfests in Antwerp and Athens, and whatever else might come along. Keep an eye out.

From Keep it Low‘s social medias:

keep-it-low-2017-poster

KEEP IT LOW FESTIVAL 2017

Line Up:
BRANT BJORK (with Special Guest Sean Wheeler) | SAINT VITUS | RADIO MOSCOW | MARS RED SKY | UFOMAMMUT | STONED JESUS | CONAN | MONOLORD | NAXATRAS | HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES | BEASTMAKER | MOS GENERATOR | USNEA | ELEPHANT TREE | KALEIDOBOLT | MOUNT HUSH | GODSGROUND
+ many more TBA

Limited 3-day tickets available!

October 20 | 21 | 22 2017
Feierwerk München

After an amazing and once again sold out edition in 2016 you can expect 3 days, 27-30 bands, amazing people and good vibes at Keep It Low 2017! For the very first time we will have the “Doom-Frühschoppen” with some HEAVY bands on the last day of the Festival.

HEAVY!

3-day tickets are selling fast so don’t wait too long and get it here:
http://bit.ly/2lr4hzH

https://www.facebook.com/events/201489380309269/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival/

Ufomammut, “Warsheep” official video

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Review & Track Premiere: Colour Haze, In Her Garden

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

colour haze in her garden

[Click play above to stream ‘Labyrinthe’ from Colour Haze’s new album, In Her Garden. CD is out this month with vinyl to follow in May, both via Elektrohasch.]

In part, it’s a question of scale. The 12th studio album from Munich-based trio Colour Haze, titled In Her Garden and featuring an array of tracks named for plant-life including “Black Lilly,” “Magnolia,” “Arbores,” “Lotus,” “Lavatera,” and so on, lands less than three full years after its predecessor, 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) — they also had the live album, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 (review here), out in 2016 — but in its sound and scope, it might have more in common in terms of presentation with the record before that, 2012’s She Said (review here). Like that offering, In Her Garden is a sprawling, 2LP affair — its 72 minutes fit on one CD, however, which She Said didn’t — rife with progressive forward steps on the part of the self-recording three-piece guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald, who work with Jan Faszbender on modular synth, Rhodes, Hammond and, on the 63-second interlude “sdg I” and the nine-minute “Labyrinthe,” an arrangement of bass-clarinet, trombone and tuba.

Horns and wind at this point aren’t anything new for Colour Haze, and the inclusion of a string quartet arranged by Mathis Nitschke on “Lotus” will be familiar to anyone who encountered “Grace” from She Said or the closing title cut from To the Highest Gods We Know, but even in how these elements are integrated, In Her Garden demonstrates continued growth on the part of Colour Haze who, 22 years on from making their debut with 1995’s Chopping Machine (discussed here), absolutely refuse to stagnate on any creative level. To be clear, In Her Garden is the most progressive Colour Haze offering to-date, and whether that’s heard in the unabashedly joyous bounce of “Lotus,” blending acoustics and electrics along with the aforementioned strings, or the earlier fuzz immersion of “Lavatera,” or the noodling in “Magnolia” that later receives an echo backed by dream-toned Rhodes in “sdg II,” it is true of the complete front-to-back experience of the 13-track entirety.

Another factor drawing comparison between In Her Garden and She Said over To the Highest Gods We Know is the basic length. The 2012 album was a massive 81 minutes long — as noted, too much for a single CD — where its follow-up was just 40. With that came more stripped-down ideas built off what She Said accomplished before it, and likewise, In Her Garden continues the movement forward from To the Highest Gods We Know. Its LPs divide into an even 36 minutes each, and each component LP into roughly even sides of about 18 minutes apiece. Only side A has four tracks, the rest have three, and each side begins with an intro/interlude of its own. In the case of side A, that’s the semi-title-track “Into Her Garden,” but the rest are given the lowercase initials “sdg” and offered as “sdg I,” a minute of horn warmup and clarinet melody, the 1:49 “sdg II,” which as noted brings back the standout progression of “Magnolia,” and finally the 1:55 “sdg III” an acoustic/sitar (the latter performed by Mario Oberpucher) run that one only wishes went on longer as it leads the way into the closing duo of “Skydancer” and “Skydance.”

These short pieces do much to enhance the atmosphere and structure of In Her Garden as a whole, whether it’s providing a sneaky foreshadow of things to come or reinforcement tying together what’s already happened, but from Faszbender‘s organ work on “Lavatera” to Koglek‘s shimmering guitar lead “Arbores” to the additional percussion contributed by Robert Schoosleitner, formerly of Elektrohasch jammers Been Obscene, the album brims with a diversity befitting its garden theme — a variety of different species that, when arranged as impeccably as they are, create something that gives a sense of wholeness and a sense of beauty that, individually, each species could not. Moving between more traditional structures early in “Black Lilly,” “Magnolia” and “Arbores” into more jam-based ideas like 11-minute side B/LP1 closer “Islands,” which follows the swirling “Lavatera” and holds back its vocals until nearly eight minutes in, Colour Haze enact a fluidity often imitated but still distinctly their own, and while each song seems to be precisely placed just where it needs to be to maximize symmetry, instrumental or vocalized, to put on In Her Garden and listen front-to-back on CD or digital, the flow between tracks is practically seamless.

colour haze in her garden booklet

Granted, it shouldn’t be especially surprising that a group more than two decades into their career knows how to make songs work well next to each other, and it’s true that some of the aspects of In Her Garden show themselves to be signature Colour Haze, whether it’s the riff that appears in the apex of “Skydance” as the album moves toward its conclusion, the unmatched class and instrumental chemistry between KoglekMerwald and Rasthofer or the live feel between the three of them that underscores even the broadest of arrangements, on side C’s horn-laden “Labyrinthe” or the subsequent, string-infused “Lotus.” None of this is to In Her Garden‘s detriment. Rather, even as the second LP takes its cue from “Islands” and moves away somewhat — “Lotus” aside — from the garden theme and plant-based titles, it’s the core strength of Colour Haze‘s style giving them the foundation on which to build their arrangements.

The pair of “Labyrinthe” and “Lotus” most outwardly emphasize this, but it’s true to varying degrees of “Lavatera” and “Islands,” of “Black Lilly,” “Magnolia” and “Arbores,” and of “Skydancer” and “Skydance” as well — the whole record does it, and then finds further enrichment through the intro to each LP side. One can listen to the Rhodes on “sdg II,” or hear the patient drawl of horns in “Labyrinthe” or the swing in “Black Lilly” and point to individual achievements that demonstrate Colour Haze‘s relentless, continual evolution of ideas, but with In Her Garden the more appropriate way to look at it is with the resounding affect of the entirety. It’s not just about one song. It’s about the conversation of songs, and how they interact with each other. “Lotus,” which wants only for the inclusion of a full nine-part harmony chorus in its finish, nonetheless provides a wonderful crescendo in its bouncing apex, but it’s not just for itself — it’s for “Labyrinthe” before it and the closing duo still to come. Each cut feels an effect from its surroundings, and the whole experience of In Her Garden becomes a world that lets the listener come inside and wander as they will, or just sit quietly and let these special moments wash over.

I feign no objectivity when it comes to this band or their output. I am a fan and when I put on In Her Garden to bask in the winding rhythm of “Magnolia,” the keys on “Skydancer” or the glorious pull of “Lotus,” I hear them with a fan’s ears and experience a fan’s joy in returning to them. That said, In Her Garden only provides further argument for why that’s the case in its concept and its memorable songcraft, and shows clearly why a generation of heavy psych rockers has worked so hard to capture a fraction of what makes the work of KoglekRasthofer and Merwald so continually and enduringly special. We’re now 13 years on from their self-titled LP (discussed here) and 11 from its 2006 follow-up, Tempel (discussed here), which in many ways have become defining outings for Colour Haze, but time has done nothing to dull either their aesthetic luster nor the will that drives them to create.

One can trace a line from earlier works like 1999’s Periscope, 2000’s CO2, 2001’s Ewige Blumenkraft (reissue review here) and 2003’s Los Sounds de Krauts — their first double-album — on through Colour Haze, Tempel, 2008’s All and into their latter-day works and find no point at which they did not push themselves to find new avenues to explore as players and writers. When one considers this body of work — the whole garden — Colour Haze become all the more a singular entity in Europe’s heavy underground as well as a defining presence within it, but even taken out of its context, In Her Garden not only stands up to the legacy behind it, but feels like just as much an invitation to those who’ve never heard the trio as it is the latest welcome return for longtime followers. Its warmth of tone, overall scope, melodic depth and thoughtful ambition ensure it is entirely Colour Haze‘s own and that its resonance will hold for years to come even as it stands tall and graceful among the best full-lengths of 2017. Recommended.

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Colour Haze at Sound of Liberation

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Colour Haze Set March and May Release Dates for In Her Garden

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

German heavy psych forerunners Colour Haze have reportedly given their new album, In Her Garden, May 17 vinyl release date. They’re set to tour next month with My Sleeping Karma on a run presented by, among others, this site, and will reportedly have CDs on hand for that run. Cover art for the impending 2LP release, which of course will be out on their own Elektrohasch Schallplatten has surfaced, along with some minor particulars from a release page at Clear Spot Distribution, linked below. Thanks to Noel Oxford for bringing the art to my attention.

Colour Haze‘s last studio album, To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), was released late in 2014 and represented something of a stripping down of the processes and grandeur shown on 2012’s She Said (review here), which like In Her Garden, was a double-record. Whether or not that portends anything in terms of the sonic direction of the new material, I wouldn’t guess. Colour Haze have never failed to move forward stylistically from one release to the next, so just about the only safe bet to make is that whatever they wind up doing across the 75-minute release, it’ll be their own.

Info is pretty minimal at this point, but here’s what I’ve been able to find so far, as well as those tour dates again in case you want to book tickets, flights, and so on:

colour haze in her garden

COLOUR HAZE – IN HER GARDEN (2LP)

Label: ELEKTROHASCH
Release date: 15/05/2017

The 2017 full-length by the German psych heads offers approximately 75 minutes of out-there rock sounds. This DOUBLE-LP on 180-gram vinyl is presented in a gatefold sleeve.

colour haze my sleeping karma tourColoured Karma Tour 2017: My Sleeping Karma + Colour Haze
16.03. Cologne, Live Music Hall
17.03. UK – London, The Garage
18.03. BEL – Leuven, Het Depot
19.03. NL – Nijmegen, Doornroosje
20.03. F- Paris, Divan Du Monde
21.03. CH – Pratteln, Z7
22.03. Munich, Feierwerk
23.03. Saarbrücken, Garage
24.03. Darmstadt, Centralstation
25.03. Hamburg, Markthalle
26.03. Berlin, Astra
27.03. Hannover, Faust
28.03. Leipzig, Werk 2
29.03. Nürnberg, Hirsch
30.03. A- Vienna, Arena
31.03. A – Graz, PPC
01.04. Stuttgart, JH Hallschlag

http://colourhaze.de/
http://elektrohasch.de/
http://www.clear-spot.nl/item/443580/colour_haze_in_her_garden.html

Colour Haze, “To the Highest Gods We Know”

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Colour Haze & My Sleeping Karma Announce Co-Headlining Tour Supporting New Albums

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

colour haze

my sleeping karma

It’s the match of your tonal dreams. Colour Haze and My Sleeping Karma co-headlining a tour in March, both supporting early 2017 releases. In the case of Colour Haze, it’s a new studio record currently in the process of being mixed for issue on Elektrohasch, first on CD in Feb., then LP after. For My Sleeping Karma, it’s the previously-announced Mela Ananda – Live offering, which Napalm Records will have out Feb. 24. With the shows presented by Sound of Liberation, they’re calling the run the ‘Coloured Karma Tour,’ and it begins March 16 in Cologne and runs through April 1 in Stuttgart.

Aside from bringing the incredible thought of seeing these two bands sharing a stage, this is also the first news I’ve seen of a new Colour Haze album, and that’s some of the best news one can hope to get on any given day. I’ll hope to have more on that as we get closer, and more on the My Sleeping Karma live record as well, which is their first — and as someone who’s never had the pleasure of watching them play, I’m interested to hear how their ultra-smooth tones resonate — but in the meantime, here’s the announcement as put out by My Sleeping Karma on the social medias for your perusal/jealousy:

my sleeping karma colour haze tour dates

Hey Friends, some good news right before X-mas. In March 2017 we are going on a Double Headliner Tour with our friends in Colour Haze. Both bands will play full shows and present their new releases. We are sorry that we can’t cover all parts of Europe, it’s just impossible timewise. Hope to see you all for a “Mela Ananda” in March.

If you like, please spread the word by sharing this post. Thank you all!!!

Coloured Karma Tour 2017: My Sleeping Karma + Colour Haze
( Ticketlinks and FB Events will be posted soon)

16.03. Cologne, Live Music Hall
17.03. UK – London, The Garage
18.03. BEL – Leuven, Het Depot
19.03. NL – Nijmegen, Doornroosje
20.03. F- Paris, Divan Du Monde
21.03. CH – Pratteln, Z7
22.03. Munich, Feierwerk
23.03. Saarbrücken, Garage
24.03. Darmstadt, Centralstation
25.03. Hamburg, Markthalle
26.03. Berlin, Astra
27.03. Hannover, Faust
28.03. Leipzig, Werk 2
29.03. Nürnberg, Hirsch
30.03. A- Vienna, Arena
31.03. A – Graz, PPC
01.04. Stuttgart, JH Hallschlag

https://www.facebook.com/MySleepingKarma/
napalmrecords.com
http://colourhaze.de/
http://elektrohasch.de/

Colour Haze, Live at Duna Jam 2016

My Sleeping Karma, Live in Paris 2016

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High Fighter Post “Darkest Days” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

high-fighter

Among the benefits of the democratization of the digital media apparatus is that it lets bands show what they’re all about on their own terms. It raises the possibilities of what an outfit working DIY to whatever degree can accomplish. One still needs skill, but skill and some editing software can get you pretty far in making your own video, without the need for a cutting room, a floor, scissors, or whatever else might’ve been involved in that process in years gone.

When it comes to showing what they’re all about, Hamburg sludge metallers High Fighter — whose new video for “Darkest Days” was put together by bassist Constantin Wüst as a DIY effort — have little use for ambiguity: They’re about kicking ass on stage, having a good time and occasionally tripping out with some psychedelic edge in their music. That was the case across their 2016 Svart Records debut album, Scars and Crosses (review here), and “Darkest Days” summarizes it well, bringing together onstage and backstage footage with a few visual effects, quick cuts to match the song’s intensity of drive, and a fitting depiction of the energy High Fighter bring to their delivery.

The clip also finds the five-piece of Wüst, vocalist Mona Miluski, guitarists Christian “Shi” Pappas and Ingwer Boysen, and drummer/backing vocalist Thomas Wildelau marking their second anniversary as a band. It’s been a productive two years, to say the least. They made a quick debut in 2014 with the EP The Goat Ritual (review here) and have toured steadily to support their offerings — and, as a result, compiled footage from which to build videos — appearing at club shows and festivals around Europe’s heavy underground alongside the likes of Earth Ship and, most recently, heavy prog forerunners Elder.

Cheers to High Fighter on the anniversary and all the fruits their fervency has yielded thus far. One can’t help but get the sense they’re still just getting started.

Enjoy “Darkest Days” below, followed by PR wire info and some comment from Miluski:

High Fighter, “Darkest Days” official video

The Hamburg based 5-piece sludge and stoner metal band has just returned from a quick tour with Elder in October, a busy festival summer with live appearances at such as Summer Breeze Festival, Desertfest Berlin, Up in Smoke and alongside many more shows and tours around Europe in 2016, with their first and critically acclaimed debut album ‘Scars & Crosses’, which came out this summer on Svart Records, HIGH FIGHTER have just released a brand new video for the album track ‘Darkest Days’!

In the typical High Fighter manner, this new video comes like the previous visual works of the band, in a 100% DIY-production. Fuzzy, dark, lots of headbanging and with a wild soundmix of bluesy stoner riffs, screams you will feel to your bone and some heavy sludge tunes, get on your next trip with High Fighter right HERE.

Mona Miluski, vocalist of the band, explains: “Since we’re releasing this video today, exactly two years ago when we unveiled the band to public & released our first EP that day, so many great moments, shows, new friends and experiences followed for us, I see this new video for ‘Darkest Days’ as some cool and trippin summary. Of two more than amazing years of our short and young band history already. Our bassist Constantin again did such great job on the video! He edited it all by himself and it’s again a pure do-it-yourself production. We used several live footage from our shows the past two years, and took some behind the scenes from tours & when we’ve been on the road…It’s a very dark track and video but also visually weird, wild and psychedelic on the other hand. But that’s what you get with High Fighter and on our album ‘Scars & Crosses’ in general: It’s not an easy-listening record, it’s more of a trip, and there’s also a lot of pain and beauty happening to the same time. Choosing the track ‘Darkest Days’ for a new video of High Fighter has only been a matter of course, soundwise, we all dig that song, from the lyrics’ perspective and its representation of our album vibe, but then this heavy contrast which comes with the visual footage of two awesome years with High Fighter. Seems we love contrasts!”

High Fighter on Thee Facebooks

High Fighter website

High Fighter on Bandcamp

Svart Records website

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Quarterly Review: Monolord, Teacher, Rosy Finch, Holy Mountain Top Removers, Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band, Swan Valley Heights, Cambrian Explosion, Haunted, Gods & Punks, Gaia

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Day Two starts now. I don’t know if you’re ready for it. I don’t know if I’m ready for it. Ah hell, who am I kidding? I love this stuff. No place I’d rather be right now than pounding out these reviews, batch by batch, all week. This one gets heavy, it goes far out, it rocks hard and relentless and it gets atmospheric. And more. But don’t let me try to sell you on reading it. Even if you skim through and click on players, I hope you find something you dig. If not today, then yesterday, or tomorrow or the next day. Or hell, maybe the day after. It’s 50 records. There’s bound to be one in there. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze

monolord-lord-of-suffering-die-in-haze-700

A relatively quick two-songer issued via RidingEasy to mark the occasion of the Swedish trio’s first US headlining tour this summer, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze offers a more stripped-down feel than did Monolord’s second full-length, Vænir (review here), which came out last year. The roll elicited by guitarist/vocalist Thomas V. Jäger, drummer Esben Willems and bassist Mika Häkki, however, remains unspeakably thick and the band’s intent toward largesse and nod continues to ring true. They’re in and out in 11 minutes, but the ethereal, watery vocal style of Jäger and the more earthbound pummel of the three-piece as a whole on “Lord of Suffering” and the grueling spaciousness of “Die in Haze” – not to mention the bass tone – show that Monolord are only continuing to come into their own sound-wise, and that as they do, their approach grows more and more dominant. They make it hard not to be greedy and ask for a new album.

Monolord on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Teacher, Teacher

teacher-teacher-700

Seattle two-piece Teacher served notice early this year of their then-forthcoming self-titled, self-recorded debut LP, and it was easy to tell the Tony Reed-mastered full-length would be one to watch out for as it followed-up their prior EP1812, released in 2015. Arriving via Devil’s Child Records, the 10-track Teacher does indeed dole out a few crucial lessons from drummer/guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Ethan Mercer and guitarist/vocalist Solomon Arye Rosenschein. Whether it’s “Heavy Metal Parking Lot 1979” or the swinging “Peripatetic Blues” or the gone-backwards psych interlude “Wildcard Jambalaya” that immediately follows, the record basks in an organic diversity of approach drawn together by the clear chemistry already present between Mercer and Rosenschein. A harder edge of tone keeps a modern feel prevalent, but even the forward punker charge of “Mean as Hell” has classic roots, and as they finish with “Home for the Summer” as the last of three out of the four EP tracks included in a row to round out the LP, they seem to have entered the conversation of 2016’s most cohesive debuts in heavy rock. Their arrival is welcome.

Teacher on Thee Facebooks

Devil’s Child Records webstore

 

Rosy Finch, Witchboro

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There’s an element of danger to Rosy Finch’s debut long-player, Witchboro (on Lay Bare Recordings). Actually two. One: it sounds like it could come apart at any given moment – it never does. Two: any given one among its nine component tracks could wind up just about anywhere. Though the Spanish trio of bassist/vocalist Elena García, guitarist/vocalist Mireia Porto and drummer Lluís Mas keep individual songs relatively raw sounding – or at very least not overproduced as something so progressive could just as easily have wound up – but even the soothing “Ligeia” holds to a driving sense of foreboding. Punk in its undercurrent with more than a touch of grunge, Witchboro is as much at home in the atmospheric crush of “Polvo Zombi” as the quick-turning finale thrust of “Daphne vs. Apollo,” and its overarching impression is striking in just how readily it manipulates the elements that comprise it. Ambitious, but more defined by succeeding in its ambitions than by the ambitions themselves.

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Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Holy Mountain Top Removers, The Ones Disappearing You

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Psychedelic surf? Wah-soaked, bass rumbling foreboding? Euro-inflected lounge? All of the above and much more get a big check mark from Nashville instrumentalists Holy Mountain Top Removers, whose The Ones Disappearing You LP covers an enviable amount of stylistic ground and still leaves room near the end for bassist/keyboardist Mikey Allred to lead a blues dirge on trombone. He’s joined by drummer/percussionist Edmond Villa and guitarist Anthony Ford, as well as guest trumpeter Court Reese and violinist Allan Van Cleave, and as they careen through this vast terrain, Holy Mountain Top Removers only seem to revel in the oddness of their own creation. To wit, the early jangle of “Monsieur Espionnage” is delivered with gleeful starts and stops, and the later “Serenade for Sexual Absence” given a mournful snare march and what sounds like tarantella to go with Van Cleave’s violin lead. Playful in the extreme, The Ones Disappearing You nonetheless offers rich arrangements and a drive toward individuality that stands among its core appeals, but by no means stands there alone.

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Holy Mountain Top Removers on Bandcamp

 

Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band, The Rarity of Experience I

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Philadelphia four-piece Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band must have worked quickly to turn around so soon a follow-up to last year’s debut album, Intensity Ghost (review here), but their second offering, The Rarity of Experience lacks nothing for growth. A two-disc, 72-minute 10-tracker also released through No Quarter, The Rarity of Experience hops genres the way rocks skip on water, from the exploratory psychedelic vibing of “Anthem II” to the Talking Heads-style jangle of “The Rarity of Experience II” and into horn-infused free-jazz fusion on “The First 10 Minutes of Cocksucker Blues” – which, by the way, is 12 minutes long. A big change is the inclusion of vocals, but the penultimate “Old Phase” still holds to some of the pastoral atmospherics Forsyth and company brought together on the first record, but principally, what The Rarity of Experience most clearly shows is that one doesn’t necessarily know what’s coming from Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band, and as much as they offer across this massive stretch, I wouldn’t be surprised if they continue to expand their sound.

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No Quarter

 

Swan Valley Heights, Swan Valley Heights

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Initially released by the band in January, the self-titled debut from Munich heavy rockers Swan Valley Heights sees wider issue through Oak Island Records in an edition of 200 LPs. After rolling out the largesse of welcome-riff in opener “Slow Planet,” the three-piece dig into longform groove on “Alaska” (9:09), “Mammoth” (11:02) and “Let Your Hair Down” (9:35), finding a balance between hypnotic flow and deeply weighted tones. Riffs lead the way throughout, and while there aren’t a ton of surprises, once they make their way through “Caligula Overdrive,” the shimmer at the start of “Mountain” and some of the more patient unfolding of closer “River” called Sungrazer to mind and I couldn’t help but wonder if Swan Valley Heights would make their way toward more lush fare over time. Whether they do or not, their debut engages in its warmth and cohesion of purpose, and offers plenty of depth for those looking to dive in headfirst.

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Oak Island Records at Kozmik Artifactz

 

Cambrian Explosion, The Moon EP

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I can’t help but feel like Portland, Oregon’s Cambrian Explosion are selling themselves a little short by calling The Moon an EP. At five songs and 35 minutes, the follow-up to their 2013 The Sun outing boasts a richly progressive front-to-back flow, deep sense of psychedelic melodicism and enough crunch to wholly satisfy each of the payoffs its hypnotic wanderings demand. Sure sounds like a full-length album to my ears, but either way, I’ll take it. The four-piece set an open context in the intro noise wash of “Selene,” and while “Looming Eye” and “Mugen = Mugen” push further into ritual heavy psych, it’s in the longer “Innocuous Creatures” (9:24) and closer “Crust of Theia” (8:23) – the two perfectly suited to appear together on the B-side from whatever label is lucky enough to snap them up for a release – that The Moon makes its immersion complete and resonant, blowing out in glorious noise on the former and basking in off-world sentiment as they round out. Gorgeous and forward-thinking in kind. Would be an excellent debut album.

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Cambrian Explosion on Bandcamp

 

Haunted, Haunted

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Not sure if there’s any way to avoid drawing a comparison between Italian five-piece Haunted’s self-titled debut (on Twin Earth Records) and Virginian doomers Windhand, but I’m also not sure that matters anymore. With the two guitars of Francesco Bauso and Francesco Orlando meting out post-Electric Wizard churn and Cristina Chimirri’s vocals oozing out bluesy incantations on top as Frank Tudisco’s low end and Valerio Cimino’s drums push the lumber forward, it’s all doom one way or another. “Watchtower” has a meaner chug than opener “Nightbreed,” and the centerpiece “Silvercomb” delves into feedback-laden horror atmospherics, but it’s in the closing duo of “Slowthorn” and “Haunted” that Haunted most assuredly affirm their rolling intention. They’ll have some work to do in distinguishing themselves, but there’s flourish in the wash of guitar late and some vocal layering from Chimirri that speaks to nuance emerging in their sound that will only serve them well as they move forward from this immersive first offering.

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Haunted on Bandcamp

 

Gods and Punks, The Sounds of the Earth

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Taking their name from a track off Monster Magnet’s 2010 outing, Mastermind, Brazilian heavy rockers Gods and Punks mark their debut release with The Sounds of the Earth, a self-released five-track EP awash in classic influences and bolstered through a double-guitar dynamic, maybe-too-forward-in-the-mix vocals and a rock solid rhythm section. These are familiar ingredients, granted, but the Rio de Janeiro five-piece present them well particularly in the mid-paced “The Tusk” and the catchy, more extended closer “Gravity,” and are able to put a modern spin on ‘70s vibing without becoming singularly indebted to any particular band or era, be it ‘70s, ‘90s or the bizarre combination of the two that defines the ‘10s. Gods and Punks are setting themselves up to progress here, and how that progression might play out – more space rock to go with the theme of their excellent artwork, maybe? – will be worth keeping an eye on given what they already show in their songwriting.

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Gods and Punks on Bandcamp

 

Gaia, A Cure for Time

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Mostly instrumental, deeply atmospheric and clearly intended to divide into the two sides of a vinyl for which it seems more than primed, A Cure for Time is the second album from Copenhagen post-metallers Gaia. Each half of the four-track/39-minute outing pairs a shorter piece with a longer one, and the flow the trio set up particularly on the closing title cut calls to mind some of YOB’s cosmic impulses but with a spaciousness, roll and context that becomes their own. Shades of Jesu in the vocals and the balance of rumble and echo on the earlier “Nowhere” make A Cure for Time all the more ambient, but when they want to, Gaia produce a marked density that borders on the claustrophobic, and the manner in which they execute the album front to back emphasizes this spectrum with a progressive but still organic flourish. I wouldn’t call A Cure for Time directly psychedelic, but it’s still easy to get lost within its reaches.sh

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Virkelighedsfjern on Bandcamp

 

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