Candlemass Post “House of Doom” Video; New EP out May 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

candlemass

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t care if the new Candlemass is inspired by Parcheesi. It’s new Candlemass. That’s what matters. The Swedish legends of doom metal led by bassist Leif Edling present four new songs on their upcoming House of Doom EP, which takes its name from, yeah, a video game, and will be released by Napalm on May 25 ahead of a reported new full-length due this autumn. More new Candlemass? Mark it a win. Some things just make the universe a better place.

They’ve got a lyric video up for the House of Doom title-track that you can see at the bottom of this post, and yes, it kicks ass. Doom doesn’t get much more doom than Candlemass. They pretty much built this ‘House.’

From the PR wire:

candlemass house of doom

CANDLEMASS TO RELEASE NEW EP ‘HOUSE OF DOOM’ ON MAY 25th!

It only takes a few short bars of the title track “House Of Doom” to feel that familiar sensation again: yes, Leif Edling aka the undisputed king of minor key songwriting has returned. With him, he brings frenzied riffing, melancholy made sound and warm Hammond organ tapestries that form the pillars of every CANDLEMASS classic!

Mats Levén on the EP:

“We in Candlemass are proud to present 4 new songs to the world on the new EP ‘House of Doom’! The title track is inspired by the House of Doom game from Hyperfrost. We’re also very happy that our label Napalm Records are with us all the way – 2018 will be a big year for Candlemass!”

The Swedish pioneers of doom managed once again to distill the essence of epic doom metal – and at the same time they make waiting for the next long player (to be released in fall 2018) even harder…

Preorder ‘House Of Doom’ HERE!

Track Listing:
01. House of Doom
02. Flowers of Deception
03. Fortuneteller
04. Dolls On A Wall

Lineup:
Leif Edling: Bass
Mats “Mappe” Björkman: Guitars
Jan Lindh: Drums
Lars “Lasse” Johansson: Guitars
Mats Levén: Vocals

In addition to the regular EP there will be 10″ etched vinyl with an exclusive 9,5 minutes long version of the song ‘The House Of Doom’. This 10″ will be available to win from April 27th.

The vinyl cannot be bought, it can only be obtained by playing the game HOUSE OF DOOM.

To win the contest users need to sign up to a selected casino through the houseofdoom.com website.

Winners of the contest will be selected at random. Supply is limited so this will be a very rare and collectible item. You can win other exclusive merchandise by playing the game, including signed t-shirts and more.

WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/CANDLEMASS
WWW.HOUSEOFDOOM.COM
WWW.NAPALMRECORDS.COM

Candlemass, “House of Doom” lyric video

Tags: , , , , ,

The Midnight Ghost Train Calling it Quits; Final Shows Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

This was a special band. If you ever saw them live, you know what I’m talking about. The first time I saw them, I was drunk as a skunk in a Bayonne, New Jersey, firemen’s hall or VFW or whatever it was. They were playing with a buddy’s band called L.O.M.F., and they took the stage, did “John the Revelator,” and blew my addled mind. This had to be around 2008, because I’m pretty sure that’s where I picked up their The Johnny Boy EP (review here). Over the next several years, I’d come to find out that the raucous kicking of such ass was just kind of how it went for The Midnight Ghost Train. Standard procedure.

Fronted by the gravely-voiced Steve Moss, The Midnight Ghost Train would go on to tour the world and release four full-lengths: a 2009 self-titled debut (review here), 2012’s Buffalo (review here), 2015’s Cold was the Ground (review here) and 2017’s Cypress Ave. (review here). With Moss and drummer Brandon Burghart joined by a succession of bassists — Mike Boyne was the last of them and an excellent fit in the band — each record was a step forward from the last, and they never put out the same album twice. As much as their reputation rested on their live delivery, and rightly so for the madness that ensued on stage and the electrifying nature of Moss’ player-persona, they could always be counted on to showcase thoughtful creative progression in their songwriting as well.

I could go on, but the point is I’ve covered The Midnight Ghost Train for a decade. Saw them open for Truckfighters in Philly and stood close enough to the stage to get hit by Moss’ hair as he headbanged. Watched them through the door at Roadburn Festival because the room was too packed to get in. I never saw them give less than their everything on stage. Never. And while I’m glad they drop the hint that they might return at some point in the future, and while I wish them luck in whatever endeavors they might undertake, I hope they do take a few years’ break and come back stronger than ever, I’m even gladder I’ll get to see what seems to be their final performance at Maryland Doom Fest 2018 this June.

As they’d also been confirmed for Electric Funeral Fest III in Denver on June 29, I’m not entirely sure what’s happening there, but in the band’s farewell message, they list three shows, and MDDF is the last one. Here’s that note from the band, who will be missed:

the midnight ghost train

IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO ALL FANS:
It is with a heavy heart that we announce to you that The Midnight Ghost Train is hanging it up and saying goodbye. Our personal family lives have become more important to us than being on the road. We feel content and successful in what we have built in the past ten years, our amazing dedicated fan base being our greatest achievement. We respect our fans and our music, so we’ve decided it is time to say goodbye.

We will be finishing our career as The Midnight Ghost Train with three final shows. So if you want to see us perform one last time giving you every piece of our soul that’s left, here are your chances:

June 22-Topeka, KS @ J&Js Gallery
June 23- Newport, KY @ SGHR
With our final show being
June 24- @ The Maryland Doom Festival

Maybe we will come back some day down the road, and storm back to the stage better than ever, but at this time that plan is not in place for the distant future. Right now we want to focus on our family lives, and continue on with our other dreams and aspirations.

Once again, thank you to all of our devoted fans for helping us achieve our dreams. Every one of you holds a special place in our hearts. We hope that we have given you the same love that you have given us.

www.facebook.com/themidnightghosttrain
www.themidnightghosttrain.com
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

The Midnight Ghost Train, “Tonight” official video

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review & Track Premiere: Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet mindfucker

[Click play above to stream the premiere of the Hawkwind cover ‘Ejection’ from Monster Magnet’s new LP, Mindfucker, out March 28 on Napalm Records.]

For about the first seven seconds of its opening track, Monster Magnet‘s Mindfucker is indistinguishable from a Ramones record. Over a howl of feedback, the drums count-in quickly and with the ringing-out of a first power chord and a “let’s go!” from founding frontman Dave Wyndorf, the 3:30 “Rocket Freak” is underway, almost immediately giving the forward position to the album’s stated mission of proto-punk simplicity meeting heavy rock drive. Wyndorf can’t resist an excursion or two into space — nor should he, frankly — as the ranging seven-minute “Drowning” shows, or the mid-paced warnings in closer “When the Hammer Comes Down,” but with a crux in impactful, forward-thrusting cuts like “Soul,” “Mindfucker,” the take on Hawkwind‘s “Ejection,” “Want Some” and “Brainwashed,” even the penultimate “All Day Midnight” balances its melancholia with stage-ready energy in its delivery, and even in comparison to the long-running New Jersey troupe’s recent output, 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), the two let’s-weird-’em-up redux specials — 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), which took on Last Patrol, and 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here), which did likewise for 2010’s Mastermind (review here) — Mindfucker sounds invigorated, genuinely rooted in the place where punk and heavy rock meet, and is of course rife with the lyrical nuance of Wyndorf‘s written and spoken voice as a keystone presence.

Yes, Monster Magnet sound like Monster Magnet. To expect otherwise 30-some years after the band began to take shape seems, frankly, like a ridiculous notion. But as ever, they’re also working to twist that meaning and expand their overarching context, so that even as they sound like themselves, with some drum contributions from producer Joe BarresiWyndorf and guitarist Phil Caivano worked largely alone in the studio — the live band is rounded out by guitarist Garrett Sweeny, drummer Bob Pantella and bassist Chris Kosnik (the latter two also of The Atomic Bitchwax) — to reshape, and for lack of a better phrase, fuck with that definition, expanding it in new and interesting dimensions.

Two items to note in the interest of full disclosure here. First, I’m a Monster Magnet fan. I grew up in New Jersey, and I’d admired the band’s work throughout the various stages of their career. Their albums aren’t always perfect, and there have been times when it’s seemed like they’ve put out records almost to antagonize the expectations of their fanbase — oh, you wanted Superjudge? well here’s 4-Way Diablo — but even that speaks to a creative will I find admirable. Second, I was hired by Napalm Records to help write the bio for Mindfucker, which I hope to post here sooner or later, and compensated for that effort. I don’t believe that affects my impartiality about Mindfucker‘s 10-track/49-minute run, because I don’t think I had any to start with, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it. There. Now it’s out of the way.

Chiefly, what Mindfucker does is work toward a long-stated goal on the part of Wyndorf to tap into the raw ’70s power of bands like MC5 and The Stooges, the early punk of the aforementioned Ramones and others of a more garage-ly ilk. Its production remains modern — Milking the Stars and Cobras and Fire experimented with some true retro stylization, and it worked, but Mindfucker‘s are too high-energy to give up their aural clarity in such a way — but it’s interesting to note that Monster Magnet and long-running Danish garage acolytes Baby Woodrose have perhaps never sounded so similar from this end as they do on “Ejection,” “Brainwashed” or even the more melancholy “All Day Midnight,” which retain a character of performance less outwardly speeding-at-night-punked than “Rocket Freak” or the subsequent “Soul” at the outset, but prove no less memorable in their hooks, while songs like “I’m God” and “Mindfucker” itself continue the social commentary of Last Patrol, with Wyndorf positioning himself as the “living among the clouds” observer of the downward spiral that modernity seems perpetually to be riding.

“I’m God,” lyrically, imagines a new flood of sorts, while “Mindfucker” couches the totality of the daily news cycle in the standout hook of its chorus: “You’re a mindfucker baby, look what you done to my head/You’re a mindfucker baby, settin’ fire to my bed/Soul crushin’ love child, deep inside of my brain/You’re a mindfucker baby, beautiful and insane,” putting the world in which we live in the position of the proverbial crazy significant other. And fairly enough so.

monster magnet (photo jeremy saffer)

“Mindfucker” itself is maddeningly, almost unfortunately, catchy. This is an aspect it shares with “I’m God,” “Want Some” and “Ejection,” the latter of which is perhaps unsurprisingly about as pure a classic rocker as the band offers throughout. As the side B leadoff, it mirrors somewhat the push of “Rocket Freak” at the start of side A, but with even more choice lead guitar work, flourish of tripped-out effects and lyrics that, instead of celebrating the “Rocket Freak” — “She’s my rocket freak and it’s the end of the world” — see space as an inevitable place of escape from the woes of the day. I don’t want to paint Mindfucker as being overly political, since it’s not like Wyndorf is calling for legislation banning assault weapons or writing anti-Republican protest songs, but there’s an underlying awareness of the absurdity in which America, and indeed the world, exist on a day-to-day basis that seems to be the undercurrent lyrical theme tying the record together in the places where it does.

That comes through certainly in “Brainwashed,” which leads the way into the closing duo of “All Day Midnight” and “When the Hammer Comes Down,” which seem to break away a bit from some of the moves the rest of Mindfucker is making. Less so “All Day Midnight” the elevator of which gets off right at the 13th floor and knows exactly where it wants to head, but much as “Drowning” — the longest cut on the album at 7:21 — offered a melancholy and contemplative finish to side A, “When the Hammer Comes Down” at the very least makes no attempt to hide the dire nature of its point of view, which can be summarized in the final lines, “You tapped a supernova when you left the truth to drown/The universe will do you right, when the hammer comes down,” which, in the context of the earlier, “Karma’s a bitch, people/I hope you bought a nice bed,” would seem to leave little to question as to what Wyndorf sees as the direction in which humanity is headed.

However, much as the album isn’t overly political in an obvious way — you can put it on, rock out, and not think once about rising ocean levels, mass shootings, #metoo moments or the social media misadventures of a commander in chief culled from reality television — neither is it a downer. Quite the opposite. Though its lyrical skepticism is pervasive, and its very title — which I admit elicited a “really dude?” from me at first as well, as would seem to have been at least part of Wyndorf‘s intention toward his audience — is somewhat abrasive, Mindfucker‘s multifaceted tracks build significant momentum between them and the long-player as whole pushes forward with only a bare minimum of letup to allow for dynamics to play out.

It is continually satisfying to be unable to predict where Monster Magnet and Wyndorf as the auteur thereof will head on a given release — one still hopes for more go-back-and-screw-with-it revisionist works eventually for records like 2001’s Monolithic Baby! and the aforementioned 4-Way Diablo, let alone the potential to play up the bizarro aspects of these cuts — and Mindfucker indeed presents a sonic turn even from Last Patrol as it veers away from the psychedelic aspects on display there and toward more bare-bones structures and direct, stage-ready presentation. What’s unflinching, however, and wherever the band goes at any given point, is genuine lyrical genius, and a conceptual foundation that challenges its audience to actively engage with it even as the songs themselves are classic-pop catchy and unabashed in being centered around memorable hooks.

Any Monster Magnet release is going to provoke strong opinions on multiple sides of their now-multigenerational fanbase, and with a certain amount of confrontationalism even on the most superficial of levels, Mindfucker will be no different in that regard. But what remains true is that even as they approach the 30-year mark since their founding in 1989, they continue to be moved by an unrelenting creative spirit, and that seems unlikely to change anytime soon, regardless of the direction any individual release might take. As vast an influence as they’ve had, Monster Magnet are still one of a kind, and as Wyndorf asks the question in the title-track here, “Why you gotta fuck with my head?,” yeah, he’s summarizing the social strata in which we currently exist, but also he surely does so knowing that in the balance of the band’s years and decades, he’s given as good as he’s got in terms of mindfuckery.

Monster Magnet, “Mindfucker” official video

Monster Magnet website

Monster Magnet on Thee Facebooks

Monster Magnet on Twitter

Monster Magnet on Instagram

Monster Magnet at Napalm Records

Napalm Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Stoned Jesus Sign to Napalm Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

And well fucking earned, I should say. Aside from being the internet’s favorite heavy rock band thanks in no small part to the ongoing proliferation of their 2012 album, Seven Thunders Roar (review here), on YouTube — the clip at the bottom of this post for “I’m the Mountain” has over 8.4 million views — Kiev trio Stoned Jesus have spent the better part of the last several years touring their collective ass off in support of their increasingly progressive output, which draws with equal comfort from punk, heavy rock and metal and creates something of its own from them. Yeah, they have a silly name, but they have done and continue to do important work aesthetically and their ongoing development has made them thrillingly unpredictable.

Accordingly, I have no idea what might be in store for Stoned Jesus‘ fourth album, which will be out later this year as the follow-up to 2015’s The Harvest (review here) and their debut for Napalm. Whatever may come, though, you can count on two things: It will be their own, and they will tour it hard for the next 12 months-plus. Because that’s what they do. And look where it got them.

So once again, well fucking earned.

The PR wire makes it official:

stoned jesus

STONED JESUS SIGNS WITH NAPALM RECORDS!

Napalm Records is proud to welcome a new band to their artist roster: Heavy rock trio STONED JESUS have just signed a worldwide deal with the Austrian powerhouse label!

Founded back in 2009 in Kyiv, STONED JESUS have released three highly acclaimed records to date and toured almost all around the globe.

Says guitarist Igor Sydorenko:
“We’re delighted to announce that Stoned Jesus is signing with Napalm Records, one of the biggest and oldest rock/metal labels on the planet! By joining the likes of My Sleeping Karma, Greenleaf, Monster Magnet, Alter Bridge, Powerwolf, Moonspell and many other well-established bands in Napalm’s eclectic roster, we’re getting ready to start the new page in Stoned Jesus’ testament.”

Napalm Records A&R Sebastian Muench comments:
“We are absolutely happy and thrilled to finally anounce the signing of STONED JESUS. In the last couple years I was able to witness STONED JESUS live many times at various Up In Smoke and Desertfest events. The Ukrainian band perfect blend of Stoner, Psych and Prog is absolutely brilliant and we expect nothing less than another masterpiece of a release in 2018. Stoned Jesus, welcome to the family and I hope you feel confortable among your band mates of Greenleaf, My Sleeping Karma, Monster Magnet or Monkey3.”

With their powerful mix of Psych, Stoner, Progressive Rock and Doom, STONED JESUS manage to always create a finest fusion of the heavy but yet still melodic sounds. Emotional lyrics meet a heavy wall of tunes, especially live the band already left their huge stamp in the international stoner rock scene and beyond. And even if you haven’t heard their albums, you probably know “I’m the Mountain” – one of the most popular songs of the genre.

While the band is currently working on their fourth full length record, set to be released with Napalm Records later this year, STONED JESUS will be heavily hitting the road again in 2018!

Make sure to catch them live on the following dates:

04.04.18 PL – Warsaw / Klub Proxima
05.04.18 PL – Gdynia / Klub Muzyczny Ucho
06.04.18 PL – Poznan / tba
07.04.18 PL – Wroclaw / Klub Firley
08.04.18 PL – Krakow / Zet Pe Te
10.05.18 RO – Cluj Napoca / Soundart Festival
11.05.18 RO – Bucharest / Soundart Festival
12.05.18 RO – Timisoara / Soundart Festival
13.05.18 BG – Sofia / Mixtape 5
15.05.18 BA – Sarajevo / Underground Club
16.05.18 HR – Zagreb / Vintage Industrial Bar
17.05.18 SRB – Belgrade / Bozidarac
18.05.18 HUN – Pecs / Pecsi Est
19.05.18 RO – Satu Mare / Gravel Room
20.05.18 RO – Lasi / Rock N Iasi Open Air
14.07.18 ES – Estrella Galicia / Resurrection Fest
27.07.18 DE – Neuensee / Rock Im Wald
02.09.18 GR – Thessaloniki / Street Mode Festival
29.09.18 UK – Sheffield / HRH Doom vs Stoner Festival

www.facebook.com/pg/stonedjesusband
www.instagram.com/stonedjesusband
www.twitter.com/stonedjesusband
www.stonedjesus.bandcamp.com
www.napalmrecords.com

Stoned Jesus, “I’m the Mountain”

Tags: , , ,

Monster Magnet Release “Mindfucker” Official Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet

Sorry. What, you thought Monster Magnet were going to put out a record called Mindfucker and not release a video for the title-track? Does that seem likely to you?

Of course not. They know what they’re doing. Dave Wyndorf? Like after 30-someodd years since founding the band, he just decided to forget something like the fact that Mindfucker is a completely over-the-top, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot and, frankly, dumb title? Hell no. That’s the whole idea.

Because here’s the thing about Mindfucker. The lyrics to the chorus go like this:

You’re a mindfucker baby, look what you done to my head
You’re a mindfucker baby, settin’ fire to my bed
Soul crushin’ love child, deep inside of my brain
You’re a mindfucker baby, beautiful and insane

But it’s not a person Wyndorf is talking about. It’s the fucking planet. It’s the times. The age we live in. And he’s not wrong. Think about the sheer gorgeousness and horror of existence every day brings and it’s totally overwhelming. The sheer absurdity of it. Calling a song “Mindfucker,” calling a record Mindfucker — it’s not just an observation. It’s a purposeful participation in the ridiculousness. They could’ve called it anything. It just so happens that Mindfucker is the one-word summary that seems to best fit.

What else could you possibly call it?

Monster Magnet is Dave Wyndorf on guitar/vocals, Phil Caivano and Garrett Sweeny on guitar, Chris Kosnik on bass and Bob Pantella on drums. Mindfucker is out March 23 on Napalm Records and the official clip for the title-track below puts a pretty heavy emphasis on the rock, as does the entirety of the record. More to come on that as we get closer to the release.

Video and PR wire info follows below. Bonus points to Bob Pantella for the Bloodrock t-shirt. You gotta dress for success.

Enjoy:

Monster Magnet, “Mindfucker” official video

The first single and title track “Mindfucker” enforces once again where MONSTER MAGNET has always been rooted: deep in the heart of true ROCK music. Dirty, dangerous and totally on fire!

Now MONSTER MAGNET delivers the video for “Mindfucker”! It’s packed with all the MONSTER MAGNET trademarks: Orange amps, psychedelic patterns, the bullgod, flaming explosions and the band rocking the fuck out.

MONSTER MAGNET live on tour:
03.05.18 DE – Wiesbaden / Schlachthof
04.05.18 DE – Berlin / Desertfest Berlin
05.05.18 NL – Nijmeden / Doornroosje
06.05.18 UK – London / Desertfest London
08.05.18 DE – Cologne / Live Music Hall
09.05.18 DE – Saarbrucken / Garage
11.05.18 ES – Bilbao / Santana 27
12.05.18 ES – Madrid / Sala Riviera
14.05.18 CH – Pratteln / Z7
15.05.18 IT – Milan / Alcatraz Club
16.05.18 DE – Bochum / Zeche
18.05.18 DE – Nuremburg / Hirsch
19.05.18 NL – Groningen / Vera
21.05.18 DK – Copenhagen / Pumpehuset
22.05.18 SE – Stockholm / Debaser Strand
23.05.18 NO – Oslo / Blâ
24.05.18 SE – Malmö / Kulturbolaget (KB)
26.05.18 DE – Bremen / Schlachthof
28.05.18 BE – Leuven / Het Depot
29.05.18 BE – Ghent / Vooriut
31.05.18 UK – Manchester / Gorilla
01.06.18 UK – Glasgow / The Garage
02.06.18 UK – Belfast / Limelight
03.06.18 IR – Dublin / The Tivoli

MONSTER MAGNET line up:
Dave Wyndorf (vocals, guitar)
Garrett Sweeny (guitar)
Phil Caivano (guitar)
Chris Kosnik (bass)
Bob Pantella (drums)

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Tags: , , , , ,

Greenleaf Recording New Album Hear the Rivers; Touring Australia in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Back in December, Swedish heavy rock mainstays Greenleaf wrapped up a European tour alongside New Jersey exports The Atomic Bitchwax and London desert anthropologists Steak that would seem to have been the final installment of their Euro touring cycle for 2016’s triumphant Rise Above the Meadow (review here) on Napalm. That album, their sixth overall and first for Napalm Records, was an unmistakable forward step from 2014’s preceding Trails and Passes (review here), which introduced the next phase of the band as founding guitarist/songwriter/spearhead Tommi Holappa (see also: Dozer) brought in vocalist Arvid Jonsson and seemed to be a moment whereby the group got its collective feet under them as a result of that shift.

In March, Greenleaf — HolappaJonsson, drummer Sebastian Olsson and bassist Hans Fröhlich — will head to Australia for the first time in their almost-20-year history, but before they go, the band has revealed that they’ve begun work on their seventh studio album, tentatively-titled Hear the Rivers, with longtime producer (and former drummer) Karl Daniel Lidén for a release through Napalm later this year. Over the course of Greenleaf‘s history, each record has built off its predecessor in one way or another, and I’d expect no less from Hear the Rivers, the making of which Jonsson is documenting in a series of vlog updates, because it’s the future and apparently that’s how we do things now. Wish I knew that earlier. Probably could’ve saved me a lot of time typing. Alas.

One more to look forward to as we move deeper into this still-relatively-New-Year. With Holappa‘s long-established approach at its core, Greenleaf‘s songwriting tack is essentially flawless, and if they can capture a fraction of the energy they brought to Rise Above the Meadow — mind you, there’s zero reason to think they won’t given all the momentum they’ve built on tour since that record came out — Hear the Rivers has the potential to stand among 2018’s finest offerings. Can’t wait to hear it.

Find Greenleaf‘s Aussie dates and one of Jonsson‘s studio vlogs below. They’ve been appearing regularly on Greenleaf‘s Thee Facebooks page, if you’d like to keep up.

greenleaf

Greenleaf Australia tour:
03/02 The Bendigo Hotel Collingwood
03/03 Singing Bird Studios Frankston
03/04 Barwon Club Geelong
03/06 Rad Bar Wollongong
03/08 The Chippo Sydney
03/09 Crowbar Brisbane
03/10 Jive Adelaide

http://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/store/greenleaf
http://shop.napalmrecords.com/greenleaf
www.facebook.com/greenleafrocks
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Tags: , , , , ,

The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2017

Posted in Features on December 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

top-30-of-2017

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

We’re almost at the finish line for 2017, and if I’m honest, it’s not a minute too soon. I think if one more record comes out this year my head is going to explode.

A perpetual onslaught of cool music is, of course, nothing to complain about. It just seemed like every time I thought I had a handle on where the year was going, some other announcement came through and knocked me on my ass. What’s that? The Obsessed are putting out their first album in more than two decades? Oh and Monolord have a new one coming? Radio Moscow just signed to Century Media? Arc of Ascent are back? Samsara Blues Experiment are back? Causa Sui are putting out a live album and a studio album? Sasquatch are going to Europe and sneaking a record along with them? All of a sudden I’m out of breath feeling like I just ran a lap.

It’s been madness this year. Between an emergent neo-psych movement in the wake of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and others, and the ongoing and constant reshaping of doom and heavy rock from practitioners new and old, I don’t know how anyone could ever claim to keep up with any of it.

You know I do the best I can, so when you look through this list, please keep in mind that these are my picks and the result of applying my own standard, which if you’ve ever seen a list on this site before you probably already know is a combination of things like what I view as being important on a critical level and things like what kept me coming back as a listener. What were the year’s biggest releases and what couldn’t I get enough of? Sometimes those two things come together around one record and it’s beautiful. That’s usually your album of the year, or close to, anyhow.

No sense in delaying further. I hope if you haven’t heard some of this stuff you’ll give it a shot, and if you have something you felt strongly about it, you’ll let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance for keeping it civil, and of course for reading.

Here goes:

30. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
geezer psychoriffadelia

Released by Kozmik Artifactz and STB Records. Reviewed May 16.

Coming off of what was their strongest album to-date in their 2016 self-titled (review here), New York heavy psych blues trio Geezer decided it was time to take the groove for a walk. And so they did. Psychoriffadelia is the result — a looser collection of jams and willfully unrefined heavy blues, reveling in the politically incorrect on “Dirty Penny” only after basking in the post-Monster Magnet hypnosis of “Red Hook” and the earlier roll of the more straightforward “Hair of the Dog” and “Stressknots.” Everything Geezer has done to this point has pushed their sound to new places. Psychoriffadelia is no exception.

29. Orango, The Mules of Nana

orango the mules of nana

Released by Stickman Records. Reviewed March 27.

More than a touch of twang on opener “Heartland” sets a tone of Americana-infusion for Orango‘s sixth LP, The Mules of Nana, but the 10-tracker is ultimately much more about harmony-laced classic heavy smoothness than playing to prairie-minded sensibilities, though roots spread wide through a natural, dirty blues just the same. However they get there, “Hazy Chain of Mountains,” the softshoe-ready funk of “Head on Down” and the peacefully progressive finish of “Ghost Rider” bring ’70s-style thrills in songwriting and their precise, gorgeous execution. Underrated record from an underappreciated band.

28. Radio Moscow, New Beginnings

radio moscow new beginnings

Released by Century Media. Reviewed Oct. 6.

Cali boogie kingpins and all-around marvelous frenetic bastards Radio Moscow were in top form on their Century Media debut, and if it was a new beginning they were searching for, they met it head on with a sound as classic and organic as ever. Arguably the most powerful power trio in their game, they tore through cuts like “No One Knows Where They’ve Been” and “Deceiver” while offering flourish in the trip-out “Woodrose Morning” and subdued blues-psych on the penultimate “Pick up the Pieces.” Very much to form, but cast of a form that still manages to outclass all challengers.

27. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma

spaceslug time travel dilemma

Released by Southcave Records, BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed Feb. 10.

And so here we have the first of what will no doubt be several records about which I’m going to say they should be higher on the list. Poland’s Spaceslug have emerged from the moist ground created by their own tonality and on their sophomore full-length, they proffered warm depth of fuzz and a corresponding melodic and psychedelic reach that was resonant even before they brought in ex-Sungrazer bassist Sander Haagmans for a guest spot on the title-track. It’s been out for 10 months and still delivers every time I put it on, which is often.

26. Mothership, High Strangeness

mothership high strangeness
Released by Ripple Music and Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed March 7.

Three albums into a tenure marked by hard-driving riffs, scorching solos and relentless road work, there’s little Texas trio Mothership need to do at this point to prove themselves to their audience. At the same time, High Strangeness brought considerable expansion to their range overall, whether it was the exploratory “Eternal Trip” or the semi-metallic insistence behind “Midnight Express,” while staying tied together with lyrical and instrumental hooks. High Strangeness set a new standard for Mothership, plain and simple, and easily surpassed the considerable accomplishments of their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) and 2014’s Mothership II (review here).

25. Eternal Black, Bleed the Days

eternal black bleed the days

Released by Obsidian Sky Records. Reviewed Aug. 1.

There was a lot about Eternal Black‘s Bleed the Days that chugged its way into the post-Wino oeuvre of US-style trad doom, but the gruff, lumbering and impeccably riffed outing was nonetheless one of 2017’s best debut full-lengths, and it was the songwriting that got it there. Already sounding sure in the vibe captured, cuts like the plodding brooder “Sea of Graves” and “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” showed potential in mood and atmosphere as much as sheer sonic heft — though of course there was plenty of that to go around as well. Doomers missed it at their peril.

24. Kadavar, Rough Times

kadavar rough times

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Sept. 6.

It kind of feels like a slight to have Berlin trio Kadavar appear anywhere outside of at least a top 10 on any kind of list whatsoever, ever, but that’s not my intention at all. Rather, their fourth album and third for Nuclear Blast found them at an important stage in their progression — past the novelty of the vintage feel in their early work, after having proven their songwriting could translate to a modern context, and embarking on a process of expanding their sound. Rough Times, which was as current as current could be, met that goal and beat it easily with a barrage of memorable choruses and a dark streak one could only consider suitable for our age.

23. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

shroud eater strike the sun

Released by STB Records. Reviewed June 28.

The biggest surprise about Shroud Eater‘s long-awaited sophomore long-player was also its most encouraging aspect — namely how it found the Miami trio bringing together various impulses shown on a number of shorter releases over the course of the six years since their debut, ThunderNoise (review here), came out in 2011, and still managed to utterly crush when it so chose. With a swath from sludge to drone and back again, this was no minor feat, and that the songs they brought to bear were so memorable at their heart as well makes me hope all the more it’s not 2023 before their third album arrives.

22. Enslaved, E

enslaved e

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 4.

What’s left to say about Norwegian progressive black metal innovators Enslaved 14 records into their career? Plenty as it turns out. The introduction of new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje in place of Herbrand Larsen brought a new twist on a signature element of Enslaved‘s approach. Vinje utterly owned his role, and his performance alongside guitarist Ivar Bjørnson, bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson, guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and drummer Cato Bekkevold resulted in a fresh urgency that made the band’s sound even more potent and set their ongoing creative evolution on a new branch of its self-directed path.

21. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical

arc-of-ascent-realms-of-the-metaphysical

Released by Astral Projection and Clostridium Records. Reviewed April 6.

Some five years on from 2012’s The Higher Key (review here) and seven out from their debut, Circle of the Sun (review here), and with bassist/vocalist Craig Williamson firmly entrenched in his always excellent Lamp of the Universe psych-drone-folk solo-project, I wasn’t sure there would be another offering from New Zealand heavy psych-rock trio Arc of Ascent, but Realms of the Metaphysical took shape from an ether of riffs and echoes atop resilient underlying structures and revitalized the group with new drummer Mark McGeady in the lineup with Williamson and guitarist Matt Cole-Baker. Remains to be seen if this marks a priority shift for Williamson or it’s a one-off, but its arrival was welcome either way.

20. Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas

causa sui vibraciones doradas

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Oct. 20.

With the various glories already offered in 2017 on the Live in Copenhagen (review here) 3LP, one didn’t necessarily expect a new studio outing from Danish instrumental psych masters Causa Sui, but Vibraciones Doradas found them as vibrant as ever, bringing forth a surprising amount of tonal weight on songs like “El Fuego,” warm fuzz for the basking on opener “The Drop” and spaciousness on the closing title-track. Somewhat more straight-ahead in its rocking groove than 2016’s Return to Sky (review here), the five-track/38-minute long-player showed yet again why Causa Sui are always welcome and that any news of a new release from them, live, studio, whatever, is good news. This was the kind of record that could make your day if you let it.

19. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable

telekinetic yeti abominable

Released by Sump Pump Records. Reviewed April 10.

The Iowa-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Alex Baumann and drummer Anthony Dreyer, operating as Telekinetic Yeti, released what I considered to be the debut of the year, both for the fullness of its tonality and the accomplishment in songcraft it already showed. Powered by cuts like its lumbering title-track and the gloriously fuzzed runner “Stoned and Feathered,” it could’ve been another band’s second or third record for the level of cohesion on display and the obvious awareness on the part of the band of what they wanted to do with their sound and the just-as-obvious result of their bringing it to life.

18. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kozmic dust

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Dec. 9, 2016.

While I admit I’m still not 100 percent certain on whether to spell “kozmic” in the title with a ‘k’ or with a ‘c’ on the end, that question did nothing ultimately to diminish enjoyment of Denver emergents Cloud Catcher‘s sophomore outing. Topped off by one of the best album covers of the year, the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), took the progressive casting of that record to a place entirely more raw and rock-driven, willfully roughing up the edges even as it showed marked creative growth on a relatively quick turnaround. The must-hear bass tone of “Beyond the Electric Sun” and “Super Acid Magick” was icing on a cake of choice riffing and Hendrixian lead swirl, and the shuffle they elicited was enough to make even the most stubborn of asses (i.e. mine) think about moving.

17. Ruby the Hatchet, Planetary Space Child

ruby the hatchet planetary space child

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 29.

After the neo-garage manifestations of their 2015 sophomore outing, Valley of the Snake (review here), it was clear Philly psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet were a force when it came to songwriting. What was less obvious was what they’d do with that going forward. On Planetary Space Child, at least, the answer is they’ll take it to Freaktown. The melody-happy, organ-laced swirlmasters conjured presence kosmiche enough to justify the album’s title, and around the cast-in-moon-rock structures of the swinging “Pagan Ritual” and the playfully doomed “Symphony of the Night,” Ruby the Hatchet built a multifaceted weirdoist triumph the likes of which simply doesn’t come along every year, establishing themselves as more reliable and less predictable than ever: an absolute win.

16. Alunah, Solennial

alunah solennial

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 1.

It’s been the case more or less all along with UK forest rockers Alunah that their nature-minded material and heavy rolling grooves have had their haunting aspects, but with the production of Conan‘s Chris Fielding behind it, Solennial — their fourth LP and first on Svart — brought this to new levels entirely. The songs, memorable like footprints in the woods, are somewhat bittersweet in context now, since founding guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day announced in September she was leaving the band, but as the group will move forward led by guitarist Dave Day and recently acquired new singer Siân Greenaway, intrigue remains high at what the future might bring and the impact of Solennial is undiminished.

15. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream

mindkult-lucifers-dream

Released by Transcending Obscurity Records and Caligari Records.

Virginia-based doomgazing garage cult solo-project Mindkult has thus far managed to keep some of the mystique around its sole inhabitant, Fowst, which is admirable in a way. As the multi-instrmentalist, vocalist and producer this year answered the promise of last year’s Witch’s Oath (review here) debut, he did so around a swath of purposeful miseries, loose devil worship and other dark thematics, casting an atmospheric darkness matched head-on by the tonal murk of his riffs. Through this, however, the songwriting was no less memorable than on the first offering, and as the project moves forward, one can only hope that Fowst will continue to use that as the core aspect buried six feet under his other, formidable stylistic achievements. That certainly was how it worked out on Lucifer’s Dream.

14. Argus, From Fields of Fire

argus from fields of fire
Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Sept. 1.

Behold ye perhaps the most underrated band in heavy metal. Regardless of subgenre, style, strata, whatever, it’s hard to listen to From Fields of Fire and think of Pittsburgh’s Argus as anything else. The five-piece’s fourth album continued to owe part of its sound to doom, but was much more encompassing than simply that, touching on aspects of classic metal with a command that left one wondering how they hadn’t yet been tapped to open for Judas Priest on that band’s next tour. Victory abounds on a per-song basis throughout the nine-tracker, and whether it was the emotional crux of “Hour of Longing” or the catchy fistpump righteousness of “Devils of Your Time” or the 11-minute progressive reach of “Infinite Lives/Infinite Doors,” Argus once again crafted a work nigh-unmatched in poise and class.

13. Uffe Lorenzen, Galmandsværk

Uffe-Lorenzen-Galmandsvaerk

Released by Bad Afro Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

For the first outing ever to be issued under his real name, Denmark’s Uffe Lorenzen — aka Lorenzo Woodrose of garage-psych pioneers Baby Woodrose — danced between acid folk singer-songwriterisms like “Flippertøs” and more expansive jamming on “På Kanten Af Verden,” all the while retaining his distinct structural and arrangement sensibilities and creating a flowing vibe that was nothing less than a pure joy of classic-form psychedelia. The most serene and pastoral freakout one was likely to witness in 2017, easily, Galmandsværk resounded in the Mellotron-laced “Høj Som Et Højhus” and was no less at home in the acoustic spaciousness of the earlier “Remits Tyranni,” able to wander where it pleased and find steady ground in molten surroundings.

12. The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season

the flying eyes burning of the season

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 11.

A welcome return from a viciously underappreciated band, The Flying EyesBurning of the Season marked the Baltimore four-piece’s first offering for Ripple Music and first since 2013’s Lowlands (review here), a four-year stretch during which the band kept busy touring Europe and South America, the latter also being where they recorded these songs with Gabriel Zander at Estudio Superfuzz in Brazil. The tonal depth resulting from that process was enough to make the collection a highlight, but it was the songs themselves that most stood out, benefiting from the band’s expanded reach and legitimate, hard-won maturity. Especially for a group who’ve done so much work on the road over their years — to be fair, the US has been pretty low priority in that regard — they remain a secret kept too well.

11. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper

bell witch mirror reaper

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed Dec. 27.

Doomed extremity simply unmatched in its scope. The song of the year for 2017. An accomplishment the likes of which is prone to happen maybe once or twice in a generation. None of this seems to really speak to the entirety of the achievement that is Bell Witch‘s Mirror Reaper — the single-song, 83-minute full-length issued by the Seattle duo like a challenge in the face of mortality itself. Beautiful, devastating and weighted like the grave, its sprawl utterly consumed the listener, and I firmly believe it will be years before its depths are fully processed. Some offerings are bigger than the year in which they’re released. Mirror Reaper would seem to function on a scale of its own, and though it could easily be read as a litmus test for audience punishment, the truth of the listening experience is both more emotionally complex and more fulfilling than simple hyperbole can capture.

10. Monolord, Rust

monolord rust

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Oct. 26.

The story all along with Gothenburg’s Monolord has been tone. Tone tone tone. Crush crush crush. Riffs riffs riffs. Nothing wrong with any of that, but their third album, Rust, proves once and for all that there’s more to the trio than “cool riffs bro” and post-Electric Wizard nod. Catchy cuts like “Dear Lucifer” and rolling opener “Where Death Meets the Sea” brought a sense of space leading to the later sprawl of “Forgotten Lands” and “At Niceae,” and the band settled into an individualized, lumbering psychedelia that moved forward from 2015’s Vænir (review here), not leaving behind the heft that earned them their reputation, but not at all being limited by it either in scope or overall approach. Three records in, Rust brought forth Monolord‘s greatest sonic expansion yet and gave rise to the feeling that their true potential was just starting to come to fruition. Also, crush crush crush. Cool riffs, bro.

9. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

vokonis-the-sunken-djinn

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 5.

The Sunken Djinn is Vokonis‘ second full-length in as many years, and in addition to serving as their Ripple debut where 2016’s Olde One Ascending (review here) landed via Ozium Records, it was a feast for hungry riff hounds. In defiance of its quick turnaround, it showed a firm evolution taking place within the upstart Swedish trio of guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, bassist/backing vocalist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larsson, whose range overall was greater in tracks like “Rapturous” and the torrential “Blood Vortex” while nonetheless controlled in its delivery. Their Sleep-y origins still a factor sound-wise, Vokonis were able just the same to push themselves ahead into new sonic ground in fittingly lumbering fashion, and the character they brought to “The Sunken Djinn,” “Calling from the Core” and the noise-caked “Maelstroem” seemed to speak to a burgeoning sense of atmospheric focus taking hold as well. Still so much potential here.

8. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals

electric moon stardust rituals

Released by Sulatron Records. Reviewed April 7.

Do I even need to remotely justify having Electric Moon‘s first studio album in six years on this list? Was it not just like a love-letter issued by the cosmos itself? What more explanation could possibly be necessary? Not that the German trio haven’t dropped copious, glorious live outings all the while, but to have Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, “Komet Lulu” Neudeck and Marcus Schnitzler follow-up 2011’s The Doomsday Machine (review here) with four cuts culminating in the 22-minute sprawl of “(You Will) Live Forever Now” was high on the list of the year’s most satisfying psychedelic journeys. Constantly exploring, their methods always seem geared toward finding the molten essence of space rock itself, and though the songs on Stardust Rituals were a little more crafted than some of their straight-up improv jams, they nonetheless showed there are many avenues one might take to get to the heart of the sun.

7. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun-blood-stories-it-runs-around-the-room-with-us

Self-released. Reviewed May 1.

This one is personal, and by that I mean I love this fucking band. Similar to my experience with their 2015 sophomore outing, Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), the third record by Boise-based trio of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) was one that I simply could not put down. Even now, seeing the name of the record is all I need to have songs like “The Great Destroyer” and the immersive midsection in “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” stuck in my head, let alone the ultra-brazen, searingly-pissed “Burn” noise assault that finished the album and in the span of 90 seconds turned all the psychedelic warmth and serenity on its face with a visceral anger completely unforeseen and jarring, turning it from a depth-laden execution of adventurous neo-psych and indie into a project of conceptual artistry with all the efficiency of the chemical reaction it sought to portray. If you missed it, your loss.

6. The Atomic Bitchwax, Force Field

the-atomic-bitchwax-force-field

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Dec. 7.

Songs like “Alaskan Thunder Fuck,” “Humble Brag” and “Earth Shaker (Which Doobie U Be?)” assured that the defining character of Force Field, the sixth album from New Jersey’s The Atomic Bitchwax, was pure scorch. That made the 12-cut outing a more than worthy follow-up for 2015’s  Gravitron (review here), which introduced this more speed-rock-minded, aggressive delivery from the tight-as-nails trio, and while they proved they could still lock in a slower groove on the organ-topped finisher “Liv a Little,” head-spinners like the instrumental “Fried, Dyed and Layin’ to the Side” and “Houndstooth” came across like the fruit of the band pushing themselves to the limits of their physical ability in terms of tempo, and their ride along the edge of that line brought thrills at every turn. And make no mistake, there were a lot of turns. Fortunately, bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik, guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and drummer Bob Pantella seemingly had a corresponding hook in their pocket for each one of them. This band is a national treasure.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

atavismo inerte

Released by Temple of Torturous. Reviewed Feb. 21.

Warm, fuzzy tones, rhythmic shifts right out of classic progressive rock, melodic intricacy and periodic excursions into glorious psychedelic drift: I’m not sure what wasn’t to like about Inerte, Atavismo‘s second full-length behind 2014’s Desintegración (review here). Comprising five tracks of unmistakable flow and jam-laden fluidity, it was immersive with landmarks along the way to keep the listener from getting too lost, and whether or not one spoke Spanish, the three-piece of Jose “Poti” Moreno (ex-Viaje a 800Mind!), bassist/vocalist Mateo and drummer/vocalist Sandri Pow (also ex-Mind!) made it easy to follow along their purposefully meandering path, offering guidance no less skillful on the 11-minute fuzz-freaker “El Sueño” than the dream-toned linear build of “Belleza Cuatro.” There were very, very few albums I listened to more this year than this one, which is precisely why it is where it is on this list.

4. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe

samsara-blues-experiment-one-with-the-universe

Released by Electric Magic Records and Abraxas Records. Reviewed May 4.

Four years between records isn’t at all an unheard of stretch. It’s not the longest on this list by any means. But with Berlin heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment, it really seemed like the band was done, so to have them come back with such force on One with the Universe was, as I know I said at several points throughout the last 12 months, one of the year’s total highlights. Tracked by former bassist Richard Behrens, the group’s fourth album answered the extended-track spread of 2013’s Waiting for the Flood (review here) with a deeper sense of sonic variety, and while the 15-minute title-cut and opener “Vispassana” still had plenty of room for jamming out and even six-minute centerpiece “Glorious Daze” found room for some flourish of organ and sitar, guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters, drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt rightly featured the chemistry they’ve built as a trio live and brought to the songs a renewed sense of vigor, sounding — and hopefully being — truly inspired. Waiting for the Flood capped a period of marked productivity across several years. Fingers crossed One with the Universe begins that cycle anew.

3. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World

Elder-Reflections-of-a-Floating-World

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed May 23.

You just can’t consider Elder‘s Reflections of a Floating World outside the context of the progressive achievement that was their prior outing, 2015’s Lore (review here). Where the trio — based now between Massachusetts and Berlin, Germany — took their first two outings, 2008’s self-titled debut (discussed here) and 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here), to find their sound, which they began to showcase on the 2012 Spires Burn/Release EP (review here), it was Lore that brought to fruition the potential that had always been waiting to be unleashed by the trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto, and Reflections of a Floating World had the daunting task of being the next further step from that landmark moment. To say the band rose to the occasion is perhaps to undersell the cohesion at work in consuming-but-cohesive pieces like opener “Sanctuary” or “Blind” or “Staving off the Truth,” which brought together clear-headed psychedelia around a wash that seemed to stem as much from rhythm as melody. As they’ve matured stylistically and become a major touring presence, Elder have made themselves perhaps the most pivotal American heavy rock act going, and Reflections of a Floating World brings them to the discovery of yet another apex while at the same time giving zero indication it will be the last one they find.

2. Colour Haze, In Her Garden

colour haze in her garden

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed March 9.

Of course, the bonus of writing about Colour Haze in just about any context is that you get to put Colour Haze on while you’re doing it, and in the case of the 12th LP from these Munich heavy psych forebears, that’s an even more appealing prospect. After stripping down some of the arrangement flourish with 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), the 13-track/73-minute 2LP In Her Garden brought a revitalized sonic expansion, but as ever, it wasn’t just the horns or the strings or the blend of keys and acoustics that made In Her Garden the unbridled joy that it was and continues to be — it was the underlying performance from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald that gave the album the stem on which its garden grew. That’s not to say Jan Faszbender‘s work on modular synth, Rhodes, and Hammond or the arrangements of strings, tuba, bass-clarinet and trombone throughout hurt anything, just that as Colour Haze have grown into incorporating these elements into their groundbreaking aesthetic, they haven’t left behind the organic chemistry and necessary live feel that has helped them influence a generation of followers over their more than 20-year career. One came through as much as the other on In Her Garden, and that balance gave the overarching warmth of their self-recorded tonality yet another level on which to engage their audience. I’ll be a sucker for Colour Haze for as long as I live, and I have absolutely no problem admitting to and owning that.

1. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the war

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Jan. 27.

It was clear early on that Nashville four-piece All Them Witches were contending hard for Album of the Year with Sleeping Through the War, their fourth long-player and second for New West following the mellow vibes of 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here). What finally sealed it? The songs. Working with producer Dave Cobb, the each-member-essential lineup of bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, key-specialist Allan van Cleave (Rhodes, Mellotron, piano, organ, etc.) and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler solidified their approach in exciting new ways on early cuts like the grunge-crunching “Don’t Bring Me Coffee” and the shuffling “Bruce Lee,” which hit in succession following the fluid lead-in of opener “Bulls,” an introduction of the organic psychedelia and heavy blues that the loose-swinging of “3-5-7″‘s nigh-on-gospel chorus and subsequent, almost maddeningly catchy “Am I Going Up?” would continue to push outward, thereby setting a linear course into a consciousness-capturing side B with “Alabaster” and the jammier “Cowboy Kirk” and “Internet” playing between melodic nuance and mindful, go-with-it drift. The unflinching strength of the material was matched perhaps only by the understatement of its delivery, which was the more staggering considering how easily the arrangements of background vocals on “Am I Going Up?” or  “3-5-7” could have come through as overblown or self-indulgent, and by the time they got down to the light weirdo-bluesy stomp of “Internet” — the key lyric and hook being, “Guess I’ll go live on the internet” — there was no doubting the genuine nature of the realization Sleeping Through the War represented for All Them Witches. Coupling that feeling of achievement with the sheer repeatability of the listening experience itself left no doubt that 2017 belonged to these tracks and the marvelous way the band wove between them, and that whatever other sounds All Them Witches may go on to explore and whatever else they may accomplish as a result, Sleeping Through the War was a truly special moment in their evolution that, as with the best of offerings in any year, will continue to resonate long after the calendar page has turned.

The Next 20

You know, I used to feel like once you got past a top 20, the numbers were arbitrary. Then I felt that way about the top 30. This year, I think I agonized more about what to include in numbers 31-50 than I did between 30 and the album of the year. Put that in your “go figure” file while you chew on these picks:

31. Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts
32. The Midnight Ghost Train, Cypress Ave.
33. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
34. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
35. PH, Eternal Hayden
36. Sasquatch, Maneuvers
37. Young Hunter, Dayhiker
38. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
39. Ufomammut, 8
40. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
41. Paradise Lost, Medusa
42. Beastmaker, Inside the Skull
43. Arduini / Balich, Dawn of Ages
44. Primitive Man, Caustic
45. Motorpsycho, The Tower
46. Arbouretum, Song of the Rose
47. Hymn, Perish
48. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle
49. Pallbearer, Heartless
50. Dool, Here Now There Then

There’s so, so much good stuff here. So much. The Cities of Mars debut was a treasure and the only reason it wasn’t on my top debuts list was because I haven’t had the chance to go back in and put it on. The Young Hunter record? Some of their best work yet. Hell, that Arduini / Balich album alone! Then you’ve got huge releases by Pallbearer, Ufomammut, Paradise Lost, Primitive Man, on and on. Like I said at the outset, one more album and my head was gonna explode this year. Way too much to ever hope to keep up with. One thing though I felt like I really wanted to emphasize including was Dool. They’re in the last spot, but make no mistake, in atmosphere and songwriting that album was something really special and loaded with potential. It’s not there because it came in last. It’s there to highlight the point of how much it should be on this list.

What’s that? More records? Okay…

Honorable Mentions

In case you also weren’t completely overwhelmed this year, maybe another batch of records will do the trick. Here’s some presented alphabetically:

Anathema, The Optimist
Blackfinger, When Colors Fade Away
Child, Blueside
Cortez, The Depths Below
Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies
Elbrus, Elbrus
Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard
Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury
Five Horse Johnson, Jake Leg Boogie
Mirror Queen, Verdigris
The Obsessed, Sacred
T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock
Queens of the Stone Age, Villains
Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
Steak, No God to Save
Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light
Valborg, Endstrand
With the Dead, Love from With the Dead

Plus: Abronia, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Iron Monkey, Band of Spice, Puta Volcano, Galley Beggar, Heavy Traffic, Coltsblood, REZN, Green Meteor, Demon Head, Lord, Grigax, The Raynbow, Carpet, Norska, Les Lekin, Slow, Ixion, and I’m sure more that I’ll add as the names continue to pop into my head.

I did this back in June as well, but I also want to draw attention to a swath of quality live albums that came out this year. The top pick should be no surprise if you’ve been hanging around the site of late:

Live Albums:
1. SubRosa, Subdued Live at Roadburn
2. Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen
3. Slomatics, Futurians Live at Roadburn
4. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
5. Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion
5. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn

Thank You

It’s been a hell of a year, obviously. Musically and otherwise. As always, I cannot possibly come close to thanking you enough for your incredible and ongoing support of The Obelisk, of what this site is, what it’s become over its nearly nine-year run, what it will continue to become going forward from here. It is astounding to me and deeply humbling that you would possibly take time out of your busy day and your busy life to check out what’s going on here, and words fail me continually when it comes to feeling like I can properly convey my appreciation for that. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Tattoo it on my forehead.

Thank you to The Patient Mrs. for understanding how much I need to be doing this, to Slevin for keeping the site running on the technical end, to Behrang Alavi for taking over hosting earlier this year, to my family for their ongoing support, to The Pecan for sleeping late some mornings and giving me time to write, and to everyone who ever shared a link on social media or made a comment on a post or anything like that. To long-time readers and to newcomers alike — thank you so much. This year has seen a fair share of ups and downs, but the support this site gets sustains me in ways I never expected it could, and that would be impossible without you. Please know how crucial that is to me.

Well, that should do it. I know there are probably disagreements about where things landed on the list, what was included, what was left out, etc., as there always are. All comments are of course welcome — only thing I’d ask is you please keep it civil and respectful of the opinions of others. Otherwise, have at it. Please.

And one more time, thank you for reading.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monster Magnet to Tour Europe in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Just a week after announcing the March 2018 arrival of their awaited next Napalm Records long-player, Mindfucker, New Jersey heavy rock kingpins Monster Magnet have revealed the full European tour they’ll undertake in May in order to support the album. We already knew they were set to headline at Desertfest in Berlin and London, but it seems that’s just the start of the run, which will cover an entire month between May 3 and June 3 and cover Western and Northern Europe as well as the UK and Ireland, ending in Dublin.

Goes without saying that Mindfucker stands among the most anticipated releases of 2018. High among them. I don’t know if the band has any plans toward doing a US tour — they’ll probably hit the New York area one way or another, Starland Ballroom at least will get a couple shows — but this stint is significant all the same and wherever they’re headed, we should basically consider ourselves fortunate they’re doing anything at all. Shit, if you wanted an excuse to travel to Europe this Spring, there it is.

It comes via the PR wire:

monster magnet

MONSTER MAGNET – Announce European Tour For May 2018

After letting the world know that the waiting for a new album finally comes to an end in Spring 2018, MONSTER MAGNET are ready to show once more that they are full blown pros in this carnival that is the music industry! Believe it or not, they already have confirmed a tour, visiting the biggest cities in Europe to promote the just announced album “MINDFUCKER”! No rest for the wicked!

On their last tour (and many tours before!), MONSTER MAGNET has proven, that they still kick out the jams (get the hint?), so don’t miss out on this legendary band live in May 2018! They will surely play the MONSTER MAGNET classics you know by heart as well as some songs from the new album “MINDFUCKER”, which will be “full-ahead Detroit-style, early 70s, MC5 and Stooges type of rock”, according to mastermind Dave Wyndorf himself!

MONSTER MAGNET live on tour:
03.05.18 DE – Wiesbaden / Schlachthof
04.05.18 DE – Berlin / Desertfest Berlin
05.05.18 NL – Nijmeden / Doornroosje
06.05.18 UK – London / Desertfest London
08.05.18 DE – Cologne / Live Music Hall
09.05.18 DE – Saarbrucken / Garage
11.05.18 ES – Bilbao / Santana 27
12.05.18 ES – Madrid / Sala Riviera
14.05.18 CH – Pratteln / Z7
15.05.18 IT – Milan / Alcatraz Club
16.05.18 DE – Bochum / Zeche
18.05.18 DE – Nuremburg / Hirsch
19.05.18 NL – Groningen / Vera
21.05.18 DK – Copenhagen / Pumpehuset
22.05.18 SE – Stockholm / Debaser Strand
23.05.18 NO – Oslo / Blâ
24.05.18 SE – Malmö / Kulturbolaget (KB)
26.05.18 DE – Bremen / Schlachthof
28.05.18 BE – Leuven / Het Depot
29.05.18 BE – Ghent / Vooriut
31.05.18 UK – Manchester / Gorilla
01.06.18 UK – Glasgow / The Garage
02.06.18 UK – Belfast / Limelight
03.06.18 IR – Dublin / The Tivoli

“MINDFUCKER” will be released on March 23, 2018 and can be pre-ordered right HERE!

MONSTER MAGNET line up:
Dave Wyndorf (vocals, guitar)
Garrett Sweeny (guitar)
Phil Caivano (guitar)
Chris Kosnik (bass)
Bob Pantella (drums)

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Monster Magnet, “Powertrip” & “Mindfucker” live in Leeds, May 23, 2017

Tags: , , , , ,