Quarterly Review: Horisont, Ahab, Rrrags, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Earthbong, Rito Verdugo, Death the Leveller, Marrowfields, Dätcha Mandala, Numidia

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Well, I’m starting an hour later than I did yesterday, so that’s maybe not the most encouraging beginning I could think of, but screw it, I’m here, got music on, got fingers on keys, so I guess we’re underway. Yesterday was remarkably easy, even by Quarterly Review standards. I’ve been doing this long enough at this point — five-plus years — that I approach it with a reasonable amount of confidence it’ll get done barring some unforeseen disaster.

But yesterday was a breeze. What does today hold? In the words of Mrs. Wagner from fourth grade homeroom, “see me after.”

Ready, set, go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Horisont, Sudden Death

horisont sudden death

With a hefty dose of piano up front and keys throughout, Gothenburg traditionalist heavy rockers lined essay paper Homework Help For A Business best essay writing service uk forum essay writing with topic Horisont push retro-ism into full-on arena status. Moving past some of the sci-fi aspects of 2017’s I Can't Research Papers Netflix Swot Analysis Alone. That is not a problem anymore. EssayErudite.com will always be by your side whenever you call for writing help. The main About Time, cheap articles http://www.playyear.fr/legit-essay-writing-services/s george washington research paper dissertation defense wiki Sudden Death comprises 13 tracks and an hour’s runtime, so rest assured, there’s room for everything, including the sax on “Into the Night,” the circa-’77 rock drama in the midsection of the eight-minute “Archeopteryx in Flight,” and the comparatively straightforward seeming bounce of “Sail On.” With cocaine-era production style, Purchasing custom writing service online should not be overwhelming even though they are numerous custom writing services go site Sudden Death is beyond the earlier-’70s vintage mindset of the band’s earliest work, and songs like “Standing Here” and the penultimate proto-metaller “Reign of Madness” stake a claim on the later era, but the post- Looking to have your book professionally edited before you self-publish by a book editor? Ebook Launch offers How To Write A Good Research Proposal for indie authors. Queen melody of “Revolution” at the outset and the acoustic swing in “Free Riding” that follows set a lighthearted tone, and as always seems to be the case with Buy Persuasive Paper Writing Services at professional essay writing service. Order custom research academic papers from the best trusted company. Just find a great help for Horisont, there’s nothing that comes across as more important than the songwriting.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Century Media website

 

Ahab, Live Prey

ahab live prey

Scourge of the seven seas that German nautically-themed funeral doomers If you are looking for admission essay writing service, look no further. we provide the Write Essay On Computer to students from the whole world. Ahab are, Buy an essay that is written especially for you when you need it. Thats why we enable you to Essays Online Buys from us and still get high quality Live Prey is their first live album and it finds them some five years removed from their last studio LP, get started phd thesis Fiction Essay help with application essay web resumes The Boats of the Glen Carrig (review here). For a band who in the past has worked at a steady three-year pace, maybe it was time for something, anything to make its way to public ears. Fair enough, and in five tracks and 63 minutes, If you want to Do My It Homework online, find us and feel confident presenting your work! Writing your coursework can make you think again about writing it Live Prey spans all the way back to 2006’s The role of "Home Page" is most important and usually among the least prepared. The Service Writer Seminar helps a new or a seasoned Writer to retake Call of the Wretched Sea with “Ahab’s Oath” and presents all but two of that debut’s songs, beginning with the trilogy “Below the Sun,” “The Pacific” and “Old Thunder” and switching the order of “Ahab’s Oath” and “The Hunt” from how they originally appeared on the first record to end with the foreboding sounds of waves rolling accompanied by minimal keyboards. It’s massively heavy, of course — so was argumentative essay purchase http://www.bovec-sc.si/?i-did-my-homework-youtube dissertation in steganography dissertation chair problems Call of the Wretched Sea — and whatever their reason for not including any other album’s material, at least they’ve included anything.

Ahab on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Rrrags, High Protein

rrrags high protein

Let’s assume the title Funny Poems About Homework. Job type Contract; Location Waterford, Republic of Ireland; Sector Pharma & Biotech; Technical Writer . 6 month contract with high High Protein might refer to the fact that Dutch/Belgian power trio For only 9, you can work directly with your own http://www.alvey.cz/?stand-and-deliver-essay. All of our Writers are MBA Graduates and are experienced in business. Rrrags have ‘trimmed the fat’ from the eight songs that comprise their 33-minute sophomore LP. It’s easy enough to believe listening to a cut like “Messin'” or the subsequent “Sad Sanity,” which between the two of them are about as long as the 5:14 opener “The Fridge” just before. But while Kkk Term Papers. Our copywriters have extensive professional UAE experience and credentials, so we understand how to best engage with your audience. High Protein has movers and groovers galore in those tracks and the fuzzier “Sugarcube” — the tone of which might remind that guitarist Ron Van Herpen is in Astrosoniq — the stomping “Demons Dancing” and the strutter “Hellfire,” there’s live-DeepPurple-style breadth on the eight-minute “Dark is the Day” and closer “Window” bookends “The Fridge” in length while mellowing out and giving drummer/vocalist Rob Martin a rest (he’s earned it by then) while bassist Rob Zim and Van Herpen carry the finale. If thinking of it as a sleeper hit helps you get on board, so be it, but Rrrags‘ second album is of unmitigated class and straight-up killer performance. It is not one to be overlooked.

Rrrags on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Viscerals

pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs viscerals

There’s stoner roll and doomed crash in “New Body,” drone-laced spoken-word experimentalism in “Blood and Butter,” and post-punk angular whathaveyou as “Halloween Bolson” plays out its nine-minute stretch, but Viscerals — the third or fourth Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs album, depending on what you count — seems to be at its most satisfying in blowout freak-psych moments like opener “Reducer” and “Rubbernecker,” which follows, while the kinda-metal of “World Crust”‘s central riff stumbles willfully and teases coming apart before circling back, and “Crazy in Blood” and closer “Hell’s Teeth” are more straight-up heavy rock. It’s a fairly wide arc the UK outfit spread from one end of the record to the other — and they’re brash enough to pull it off, to be sure — but with the hype machine so fervently behind them, I have a hard time knowing whether I’m actually just left flat by the record itself or all the hyperbole-set-on-fire that’s surrounded the band for the last couple years. Viscerals gets to the heart of the matter, sure enough, but then what?

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Earthbong, Bong Rites

Earthbong Bong Rites

Kiel, Germany’s Earthbong answer the stoner-sludge extremity of their 2018 debut, One Earth One Bong (review here), with, well, more stoner-sludge extremity. What, you thought they’d go prog? Forget it. You get three songs. Opener “Goddamn High” and “Weedcult Today” top 15 minutes each, and closer “Monk’s Blood” hits half an hour. Do the quick math yourself on that and you’ll understand just how much Earthbong have been looking forward to bashing you over the head with riffs. “Weedcult Today” is more agonizingly slow than “Goddamn High,” at least at the beginning, but it builds up and rolls into a pace that, come to think of it, is still probably slower than most, and of course “Monk’s Blood” is an epic undertaking right up to its last five minutes of noise. It could’ve been an album on its own. But seriously, if you think Earthbong give a shit, you’re way off base. This is tone, riff and weed worship and everything else is at best a secondary concern. Spend an hour at mass and see if you don’t come out converted.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus

rito verdugo post-primatus

No doubt that at some future time shortly after the entire world has moved on from the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a glut of releases comprised of material written during the lockdown. Peruvian four-piece Rito Verdugo are ahead of the game, then, with their Post-Primatus four-song EP. Issued digitally as the name-your-price follow-up to their also-name-your-price 2018 debut, Cosmos, it sets a 14-minute run from its shortest cut to its longest, shifting from the trippy “Misterio” into fuzz rockers “Monte Gorila” (which distills Earthless vibes to just over three minutes) and “Lo Subnormal” en route to the rawer garage psychedelia of “Inhumación,” which replaces its vocals with stretches of lead guitar that do more than just fill the spaces verses might otherwise be and instead add to the breadth of the release as a whole. Safe to assume Rito Verdugo didn’t plan on spending any amount of time this year staying home to avoid getting a plague, but at least they were able to use the time productively to give listeners a quick sample of where they’re at sound-wise coming off the first album. Whenever and however it shows up, I’ll look forward to what they do next.

Rito Verdugo on Thee Facebooks

Rito Verdugo on Bandcamp

 

Death the Leveller, II

Death the Leveller II

Signed to Cruz Del Sur Music as part of that label’s expanding foray into traditionalist doom (see also: Pale Divine, The Wizar’d, Apostle of Solitude, etc.), Dublin’s Death the Leveller present an emotionally driven four tracks on their 38-minute label debut, the counterintuitively titled II. Listed as their first full-length, it’s about the same length as their debut “EP,” 2017’s I, but more important is the comfort and patience the band shows with working in longer-form material, opener “The Hunt Eternal,” “The Golden Bough” and closer “The Crossing” making an impression at over nine minutes apiece — “The Golden Bough” tops 12 — while “So They May Face the Sun” runs a mere 7:37 and is perhaps the most unhurried of the bunch, playing out with a cinematic sweep of guitar melody and another showcase for the significant presence of frontman Denis Dowling, who’s high in the mix at times but earns that forward position with a suitably standout performance across the record’s span.

Death the Leveller on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Marrowfields, Metamorphoses

marrowfields metamorphoses

It isn’t surprising to learn that the members of Fall River, Massachusetts, five-piece Marrowfields come from something of an array of underground styles, some of them pushing into more extreme terrain, because the five songs of their debut full-length, Metamorphoses, do likewise. With founding guitarist/main-songwriter Brandon Green at the helm as producer as well, there’s a suitably inward-looking feel to the material, but coinciding with its rich atmospheres are flashes of blastbeats, death metal chug, double-kick and backing growls behind the cleaner melodic vocals that keep Marrowfields distinct from entirely traditionalist doom. It is a niche into which they fit well on this first long-player, and across the five songs/52 minutes of Metamorphoses, they indeed shapeshift between genre elements in order to best serve the purposes of the material, calling to mind Argus in the progressive early stretch of centerpiece “Birth of the Liberator” while tapping Paradise Lost chug and ambience before the blasts kick in on closer “Dragged to the World Below.” Will be interesting to see which way their — or Green‘s, as it were — focus ultimately lies, but there isn’t one aesthetic nuance misused here.

Marrowfields on Thee Facebooks

Black Lion Records on Bandcamp

 

Dätcha Mandala, Hara

datcha mandala hara

Dätcha Mandala present a strong opening salvo of rockers on Hara, their second album for MRS Red Sound, before turning over to all-out tambourine-and-harp blues on “Missing Blues.” From there, they could go basically anywhere they want, and they do, leading with piano on “Morning Song,” doing wrist-cramp-chug-into-disco-hop in “Sick Machine” and meeting hand-percussion with space rocking vibes on “Moha.” They’ve already come a long way from the somewhat misleading ’70s heavy of opener “Stick it Out,” “Mother God” and “Who You Are,” but the sonic turns that continue with the harder-edged “Eht Bup,” the ’70s balladry of “Tit’s,” an unabashed bit o’ twang on “On the Road” and full-on fuzz into a noise freakout on closer “Pavot.” Just what the hell is going on with Hara? Anything Dätcha Mandala so desire, it would seem. They have the energy to back it up, but if you see them labeled as any one microgenre or another, keep in mind that inevitably that’s only part of the story and the whole thing is much weirder than they might be letting on. No complaints with that.

Dätcha Mandala on Thee Facebooks

MRS Red Sound

 

Numidia, Numidia

Numidia Numidia

If you’ve got voices in your band that can harmonize like guitarists James Draper, Shane Linfoot and Mike Zoias, I’m not entirely sure what would lead you to start your debut record with a four-minute instrumental, but one way or another, Sydney, Australia’s Numidia — completed by bassist/keyboardist Alex Raffaelli and drummer Nathan McMahon — find worthy manners in which to spend their time. Their first collection takes an exploratory approach to progressive heavy rock, seeming to feel its way through components strung together effectively while staying centered around the guitars. Yes, three of them. Psychedelia plays a strong role in later pieces “Red Hymn” and the folky “Te Waka,” but if the eponymous “Numidia” is a mission statement on the part of the five-piece, it’s one cast in a prog mentality pushed forward with poise to suit. Side A capper “A Million Martyrs” would seem to draw the different sides together, but it’s no minor task for it to do so, and there’s little sign in these songs that Numidia won’t grow more expansive as time goes on.

Numidia on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

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Lammping Premiere Two-Song Greater Good Single; Bad Boys of Comedy out July 21

Posted in audiObelisk on June 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

lammping

Lammping will release their debut album, Bad Boys of Comedy, July 21 through Nasoni Records. The unpretentious eight-song/36-minute jaunt makes itself comfortable amid a lush sunshine of melodic vibe, the Toronto-based duo of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mikhail Galkin and drummer Jay Anderson (Stonegrass, Comet Control) taking advantage of the studio setting to do the work of at least four players between layers of guitar, synth, bass and drums. Effects ebb and flow in a wash that reminds at times of the ’90s revivalist psych that ultimately spawned shoegaze, but there’s something classically playful about the insistent rhymes of the lyrics in opener “Forest for the Trees” and the subsequent “Soakin'” as well that seems to offer a kind of garage-rocking wink to the listener, as if to say, “S’all a joke, innit?” and already know the answer.

All around, languid instrumental flow taps varied realizations of psych — some poppy, some not — and meandering excursions that resonate with an improvised feel if not actual improvisation. Galkin and Anderson may be crafting a full-band sound, but the sense of space in the recording also becomes a presence as the echoes stretch out, coming and going to allow for the Hawkwind-via-MonsterMagnet crunch of “Lightheaded” and the Dead Meadow buzztone boogie in “Greater Good” to shine though no less awash in purpose than they are in reverb.

Let’s get personal for a minute. This is about where my head’s at these days. That’s as honest as I can be with you. I put this record on for the first time a couple weeks ago and it was an utter relief to hear it. “Oh good,” I said. Really. Sweetly melodic, LAMMPING THE BAD BOYS OF COMEDYheavy enough to have a presence and some physicality behind the psychedelia, and given some structure of songwriting to complement the fluid rhythms that persist throughout. It’s not in a rush, it’s not trying to blow you away with how aggressive, or progressive, or regressive it is. It’s just two players collaborating on songs that they obviously dig. No doubt there’s some Beatles-awareness happening as they don Middle Eastern scales in “Within You,” but the dream-toned gorgeousness that rolls out with Anderson‘s cymbal crashes is righteously their own. I dig the hell out of this record. It’s not going to be the biggest release of the year. The hype machine probably won’t be about it. It won’t be “of the moment” or whatever we’re valuing right now. All it is is everything it needs to be.

“Within You” swirls into a fade ahead of the more percussively intense “Eater” but laid back vocals bring to mind some of The Heads‘ freakouts even as some of Anderson‘s tom sounds feel recognizable from his work in Comet Control. Another jam fades into the tambourine-included “Tumble,” which might be named for something falling over at the end, but uses a steady beat during its four minutes to keep the drift in check as much as possible, or at very least as much as it wants to. Side B is more hypnotic than not, which serves the album well as it moves toward “Closer to the Sun” at the finish. My only complaint with the finale, which tops six minutes, is that it isn’t longer, as I have no trouble imagining Galkin and Anderson diving headfirst into longer-form rehearsal-room improvisations, following the whims of one or the other of them wherever they might go. Particularly interesting in the closer is that the bass seems to come into the forward position where so much of Bad Boys of Comedy to that point is led by the guitar.

Again, I’ll take it either way — if I haven’t gotten the point across yet, I’m on board for what Lammping are doing here — but putting the low-end fuzz up front allows the guitar to jam out overtop all the more at the outset of the track, and that is immersive and satisfying, making the two minutes before the first verse that much more evidence of the natural chemistry between Galkin and Anderson. That, of course, is the foundation of everything that plays out across Bad Boys of Comedy, and it remains a palpable unifying factor in the material.

With the release still a month-plus off, Nasoni are taking preorders on their site, and the band has elected to premiere “Greater Good” and “Within You.” The two songs appear in succession on Bad Boys of Comedy and I’m thrilled to host them here for the reach they represent as a whole.

I hope you dig them half as much as I do:

‘Greater Good’ is the second single off Lammping’s debut LP ‘Bad Boys of Comedy’, out July 2020 on Nasoni Records. The drum heavy, riff driven exploration of working class paranoia is side A of this release, with the introspective, psychedelic “Within You” on side B.

Lammping is a new psych-rock outfit from Toronto, formed by multi-instrumentalist Mikhail Galkin and drummer Jay Anderson. The album incorporates a wide range of influences that Jay and Mikhail bonded over, from Tropicalia and Turkish psych to classic NY boom-bap drum patterns and CSNY-style vocal harmonies.

While rooted in riffs and heavy drumming, the debut LP showcases a fresh, eclectic approach to modern psychedelia, eschewing cliched musical categorizations.

Lammping is:
Mikhail Galkin: Guitar, bass, vocals, etc.
Jay Anderson: Drums

Lammping on Instagram

Lammping on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records website

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Review & Track Premiere: River Cult, Chilling Effect

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

river cult chilling effect

[Click play above to stream “Neo Dog” from River Cult’s Chilling Effect. Album is out May 1 through Nasoni Records (LP) and Tee Pee Records Annex (DL).]

River Cult feel like a band-in-waiting for the hype machine to take notice. They are as yet likewise underrated and loaded with potential. Chilling Effect is their second LP behind 2018’s righteous debut, Halcyon Daze (review here), and a well-received 2016 EP, and the three-piece use it as an opportunity to organically present a sound that spans decades as fluidly as it spans tracks. Uniting through an overarching loose and psych-prone tonality and vibe, they conceive a vision of heavy that’s adherent to a ’70s-style power trio ethic of putting the live performance to tape in as meaty fashion as possible, while 11-minute opening title-track and longest inclusion (immediate points) could hardly feel more modern, with guitarist Sean Forlenza offering a vocal pattern that calls to mind All Them Witches even as the massive jam that ensues sets the stage for the thickened, slowed Fu Manchu roll of “Left Hand Path,” the Nebula-esque strut through “Neo Dog” and the heavy psych instrumentalism of the penultimate “Red Return” ahead of “Fool’s Gold,” which rounds out with a surprising post-punk-goes-grunge shimmer.

Concerning their overall craft and range, they are likely a few years ahead of their time, but with the sure presence of groove from bassist Anthony Mendolia and drummer Tav Palumbo behind Forlenza‘s riffing and airier leads, there is never a misstep when it comes to transitions within and between the songs. This is true even as “Fool’s Gold” hits the brakes on its swirling solo and moves into a doomier slowdown before shifting back toward more molten fare and ultimately capping Chilling Effect not much with a scorching apex — which they’d be well within their rights to do, given the proceedings as a whole — but with an expanse of residual amp noise and hum, hypnotic in its drone, a lower-end echo and complement to the keyboard flourish that begins the outing in the title cut. One way or another, the name of the record would seem to be no coincidence.

So be it. If the measure of River Cult‘s sophomore full-length is to be the record’s ability to have an effect of the mood of the listener or at very least its own atmosphere in terms of how one might relate to it, then Chilling Effect can only be considered a success. At the same time, it’s hardly void of movement, even if one counts the most basic level of tempo alongside the shifts from one element of style to another. As “Chilling Effect” emerges from that initial keyboard line, it does so around a fuzzy groove that’s comfortably paced and makes a fitting bed for Forlenza‘s proclamations. A doubtful influence, but there’s some of the natural density that drove defunct North Carolinian acts like Caltrop and Black Skies in the aughts, picking up on a nascent heavy Americana that came to fruition in this past decade at the behest of other acts. River Cult never quite touch that line either, but in the wailing guitar and spoken lines that set up the solo as “Chilling Effect” oozes through its midsection, there’s a bluesy shade being drawn just the same.

river cult

In River Cult‘s hands, however, it becomes the foundation of the aforementioned jam, an instrumental outward motion that brings into emphasis the bolder ideology of putting the longest song first on the record — the safe thing to do would be otherwise. As it is, the feedback of “Chilling Effect” fades seamlessly into the creeping opening progression of “Left Hand Path,” which unveils its sludgy sleeze early and holds to it for the duration. Mendolia makes it a high point of low frequencies. Even as the noisy guitar solo arrives late and the drums pick up in kind, the bassline is a repetitive and hypnotic joy, giving further credence to the laid back delivery of the verses before. The rumble resumes after the solo and a cold stop brings to the digital version the arrival of “Neo Dog,” which is something of a departure in being about half as long as the shortest of what surrounds at just 3:11, but makes up for runtime in attitude and its alternating between swing and push, neither refusing to give ground as it winds to a stylized, stage-ready bop of a conclusion.

With that, River Cult put themselves to the task of pushing deeper and deeper into side B. Leads are layered in “Red Return” and the song forms around welcome returns to a drifting line of guitar, quiet and nodding all the more as it starts to meander in blues fashion after four minutes in, coming to a full stop before a snare snap from Palumbo brings the three-piece into a faster closing section, this one marked by a wash of noise that continues in abrasive fashion even after the drums and bass cut out as the guitar seems intent on breaking whatever manner of amplified conveyance it’s being run through.

The initial turn of “Fool’s Gold” is rightfully jarring coming out of that, but as River Cult shift into more densely-toned riffing — recalling the heft of “Left Hand Path” — they do so around a particularly Sleep-y progression, which soon gets translated into a floating lead that becomes the ground for the Forlenza‘s last solo, returning to guide the band through their final quiet stretch ahead of one more dose of mega-fuzz before the last 90 seconds or so drone into an oblivion that comes not with the long fade one might expect, but a sudden, cold finish that stands in defiance of much of Chilling Effect‘s chilling effect. Perhaps that’s the band’s way of shocking their audience out of the trance they’ve incited, but in any case, the prevailing sentiment throughout the 35-minute stretch is one that, even in its most thrillingly savage moments, exudes a casualness and a raw chemistry that can only help earn the attention River Cult are proving to be due.

River Cult on Thee Facebooks

River Cult on Instagram

River Cult on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records website

Tee Pee Records Annex website

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Quarterly Review: Sunn O))), Crypt Sermon, The Neptune Power Federation, Chron Goblin, Ethereal Riffian, Parasol Caravan, Golden Core, Black Smoke Omega, Liquid Orbit, Sun Below

Posted in Reviews on January 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Hey all, we made it to the final day of the Winter 2020 Quarterly Review, so congrats to ‘us’ and by us I mean myself and anyone still reading, which is probably about two or three people. On my end today is completely manic in terms of real-life, offline logistics — much to do — but no way I’m letting one last batch of 10 reviews fall by the wayside, so rest assured, by the time this goes live, it’ll be complete, even though I’ve had to swap things out as some stuff has been locked into other coverage since I first slated it. Plenty around waiting to be written up. Perpetually, it would seem.

But before we dive in, thank you for reading if you’ve caught any part of this QR. I hope your 2020 is off to an excellent start and that finding new music to love is as much a part of your next 12 months as it can possibly be.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sunn O))), Pyroclasts

sunn o pyroclasts

The narrative — because of course there’s a narrative; blessings and peace upon it — is that drone-metal progenitors Sunn O))), while in the studio recording earlier-2019’s Life Metal (review here) with Steve Albini, began each day doing a 12-minute improvised modal drone working in a different scale. They used a stopwatch to keep time. Thus the four tracks of Pyroclasts were born. They all hover around 11 minutes after editing, which settles neatly onto two vinyl sides, and it’s the rawer vision of Sunn O))), with just Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley‘s guitars, rather than some of the more elaborate arrangements which they’ve been known to undertake. That they’d put out two studio records in the same year is striking considering it had been four years since 2015’s Kannon (review here), but I think the truth of the matter is they had these tapes and decided they were worth preserving with a popular release. I wouldn’t say they were wrong, and the immersion here is a good reminder of the core appeal of Sunn O)))‘s conjured depths.

Sunn O))) on Bandcamp

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Crypt Sermon, The Ruins of Fading Light

Crypt Sermon The Ruins of Fading Light

Traditional doom rarely sounds as vital as it does in the hands of Crypt Sermon. The Philly five-piece return with The Ruins of Fading Light on Dark Descent Records as an awaited follow-up to 2015’s Out of the Garden (review here) and thereby bring forth classic metal with all the urgency of thrash and the poise of the NWOBHM. Frontman Brooks Wilson — also responsible for the album art — is in command here and with the firm backing of bassist Frank Chin and drummer Enrique Sagarnaga, guitarists Steve Jannson and James Lipczynski offer sharpened-axe riffs and solo scorch offset by passages of keyboard for an all the more epic vibe. The rolling “Christ is Dead” is pure Candlemass, but the galloping “The Snake Handler” might be the highlight of the 10-track/55-minute run, though that’s not to take away either from the Dehumanizer chug of “Key of Solomon” or the melodic reach of the closing title-track either. Take your pick, really. It’s all metal as fuck and glorious for that. If they don’t sell denim jackets, they should.

Crypt Sermon on Thee Facebooks

Dark Descent Records on Bandcamp

 

The Neptune Power Federation, Memoirs of a Rat Queen

the neptune power federation memoirs of a rat queen

“Can you dig what the Imperial Priestess is laying down?” is the central question of Memoirs of a Rat Queen, the first album from Sydney, Australia’s The Neptune Power Federation to be released through Cruz Del Sur Music, and it arrives over an ELO “Don’t Bring Me Down”-style arena rock beat on leadoff “Can You Dig?” as an intro to the rest of the LP. Strange, epic, progressive, traditional, heavy and cascading rock and roll follows, as intricate as it is immediately catchy, and whether it’s “Watch Our Masters Bleed” or “I’ll Make a Man out of You,” the Imperial Priestess Screaming Loz Sutch and company make it easy to answer in the affirmative. Arrangements are willfully over the top as “Bound for Hell” and “The Reaper Comes for Thee” engage a heavy rocker take on heavy metal’s legacy, maddened laughter and all in the latter track, which closes, and the affect on the listener is nothing less than an absolute blast — a reminder of the empowering sound of early metal on a disaffected generation in the late ’70s and early ’80s and how that same fist-pump-against-the-world has become timeless. No doubt the costumes and all that make The Neptune Power Federation striking live, but as Memoirs of a Rat Queen readily steps forward to prove, the songs are there as well.

The Neptune Power Federation on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music on Bandcamp

 

Chron Goblin, Here Before

chron goblin here before

Have Chron Goblin been here before? The title of their album speaks to a kind of creepy deja vu feeling, and that’s emblematic of the Canadian band’s move away from the party rock of their past offerings, their last LP having been Backwater (review here) 2015. Fortunately, while they seek out some new aesthetic ground, the 11 tracks of Here Before do maintain Chron Goblin‘s penchant for straight-ahead songcraft and unpretentious execution — and frankly, that wasn’t at all broken. Neither, perhaps was the let’s-get-drunk-and-bounce-around spirit of their prior work, but they sound more mature in a song like the six-minute “Ghost” and “Slipping Under” (premiered here) successfully melds the shift in presentation with the energy of their prior output. Maybe it’s still a party but we watch horror movies? I don’t know. They’ve still got “Giving in to Fun” early in the tracklisting — worth noting it follows the swaying “Oblivion” — so maybe I’m misreading the whole thing, or maybe it’s more complex than being entirely one thing or the other might allow for. Perish the thought. Either way, can’t mess with the songs.

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Ethereal Riffian, Legends

ethereal riffian legends

Ukrainian heavy rockers Ethereal Riffian make a pointed sonic shift with their Legends album (on Robustfellow), keeping some of the grunge spirit in their melodies as the eight-minute “Moonflower” and closer “Ethereal Path” show, but in songs like “Unconquerable” and the early salvo of “Born Again,” “Dreamgazer” and “Legends” and even the second half of “Kosmic” and “Pain to Wisdom,” they let loose from some of the more meditative aspects of their past work with a fiery drive and a theme of enlightenment through political and social change. A kind of great awakening of the self. There’s still plenty of “ethereal” to go with all that “riffian” in the intro “Sage’s Alchemy,” or the first half of “Kosmic” or the CD bonus “Yeti’s Hide,” but no question the balance has tipped toward the straightforward, and the idea seems to be that the electrified feel is as much a part of the message as the message itself. The only trouble is that since putting Legends out, Ethereal Riffian called it quits to refocus their energies elsewhere in the universe. Are they really done? I’m skeptical, but if so, then at least they went out trying new things, which always seemed to be a specialty, and on a note of directly positive attitude.

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Parasol Caravan, Nemesis

parasol caravan nemesis

A second long-player behind 2015’s Para Solem, the eight-song/35-minute Nemesis is not only made for vinyl, but it’s made for rockers. Specifically, heavy rockers. And it’s heavy rock, for heavy rockers. Based in Linz, Austria, the double-guitar four-piece Parasol Caravan have their sound and style on lockdown, and their work, while not really keeping any secrets in terms of where it’s coming from in its ’70s-via-’90s modern take, is brought to bear with a clarity that seems particularly derived from the European heavy rock tradition. Para Solem was longer and somewhat fuzzier in tone, but the stripped down approach of the title-track at the outset and its side B counterpart, “Serpent of Time” still unfold to a swath of ground covered, whether it’s in the subdued instrumental “Acceptance” or “Transition,” which follows the driving “Blackstar” and closes the LP with a bit of a progressive metal edge. Even that has its hook, though, and that’s ultimately the point.

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Golden Core, Fimbultýr

golden core fimbultyr

The title Fimbultýr translates to “mighty god” and is listed among the alternative names of Odin, which would seem to be who Oslo’s Golden Core have in mind in the leadoff title-track of their second album. Issued through Fysisk Format, it is not necessarily what one thinks of as “Viking metal” in the post-Amon Amarth or post-Enslaved context, but instead, the eight-song collection unfolds a biting modern sludge taking an edge of the earlier Mastodon lumber and bringing it to harshly-vocalized rollout. The 11-minute “Runatal” and only-seconds-shorter “Buslubben” are respective vocal points around which sides A and B of the release center, and each finds a way to give like emphasis to atmosphere and extremity, to stretch as well as pummel, and much to Golden Core‘s credit, they seem not only aware of the changes they’re presenting in their material, but in control of how and when they’re executed. The resulting linear flow of Fimbultýr, given the shifts within, isn’t to be understated as a victory on the part of the band.

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Black Smoke Omega, Harbinger

Black Smoke Omega Harbinger

Harbinger may well be just that — a sign of things to come. The debut offering from Black Smoke Omega wraps progressive death-doom and gothic piano-led atmospherics around a thematic drawing from science-fiction, and while I’m not certain of the narrative being told by the Dortmund, Germany-based band, their method for telling it is fascinating. It’s not entirely seamless in its shifts, and it doesn’t seem like the band — seemingly spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Jack Nier, though Ashley James (The Antiquity) plays guitar on “A Man without a Heart” and Michael Tjanaka brings synth/piano to “Kainé” — want it to be, but there’s no denying that by the time “Falling Awake” seems to provide some melodic resolution to the often-slow-motion tumult prior, it’s doing so by bringing the different sides together. It’s a significant journey from the raw, barking shouts on “The Black Scrawl” and the lurching-into-chug-into-lurch of “The Man without a Heart” to get there, however. But this, too, seems to be on purpose. How it all might shake out feels like a question for the next release, but Black Smoke Omega seem poised here to leave heads spinning.

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Liquid Orbit, Game of Promises

Liquid Orbit Game of Promises

While on the surface, Liquid Orbit might be on familiar enough ground with Game of Promises for anyone who has encountered the swath of up-and-comers working in the wake of Blues Pills, the Bremen, Germany, five-piece distinguish themselves through not just the keyboard work of Anders alongside Andree‘s guitar, Ralf‘s bass, Steve‘s drums and Sylvia‘s vocals, but also the shifts between funk, boogie, and edges of doom that play out in songs like “Shared Pain” and “Please Let Her Go,” as well as the title-track, which starts side B of the Nasoni Records-issued vinyl with a highlight guitar solo and an insistent snare tap beneath that works to bring movement to what’s still one of Game of Promises‘ shorter tracks at six and a half minutes, as opposed to the earlier eight-minute-toppers on side A or the psych-prog finale “Verlorene Karawane,” which translates in English to “lost caravan” and indeed basks in some Mideastern vibe and backward-effects vocal swirl. Bottom line, if you go into it thinking you know everything you’re getting, you’re probably selling it short.

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Nasoni Records website

 

Sun Below, Black Volume III

Sun Below Black Volume III

As the title hints, the name-your-price Black Volume III is the third EP release from Toronto’s Sun Below. All three have been issued over roughly a year’s span, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Jason Craig, drummer/backing vocalist Will Adams, bassist/backing vocalist Garrison Thordarson — who as far as I’m concerned wins this entire Quarterly Review when it comes to names; that’s an awesome name — and two have featured covers. On their debut, they took on “Dragonaut” by Sleep, and on Black Volume III, in following up the 12-minute nod-roller “Solar Burnout,” they thicken and further stonerize the catchy jaunt that is “Wires” by Red Fang. They’ve got, in other words, good taste. Black Volume III opens with “Green Visions” and thereby takes some righteous fart-fuzz for a walk both that and “Solar Burnout” show plenty of resi(n)dual Sleep influence, but honestly, it’s a self-releasing band with three dudes who sound like they’re having a really good time figuring out where they want to be in terms of sound after about a year from their first release, and if you ask anything else of Black Volume III than what it gives, you’re obviously lacking in context. Which is to say you’re fucking up. Don’t fuck up. Dig riffs instead.

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Friday Full-Length: Weltraumstaunen, Weltraumwelt

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Weltraumstaunen, Weltraumwelt (2004)

You might be forgiven if you’ve never heard Germany’s Weltraumstaunen. The band formed in 1998 around Growing Seeds members Andi and Silke Heinrich and Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, then of Liquid Visions, Zone Six and probably 10 or 20 others, and released a self-titled album in 1999. It would be five years, the dissolution of Growing Seeds — in which Schmidt had also taken up the drummer role — and the end of the marriage between Andi and Silke before Weltraumstaunen would issue a second record, Weltraumwelt, as the two-piece of Andi Heinrich and Dave Schmidt. The album is part of the mighty earlier-years catalog of Nasoni Records, along with acts like Vibravoid, Zendik Farm Orgaztra, Liquid Visions, and many others (the label began in 1996), and was made by exchanging recordings via tape — not files, tapes; remember this would’ve been nascent times for broadband speeds — between Berlin and Bayreuth, further south.

That distance, and the fact that the distance mattered, becomes crucial to understanding Weltraumwelt‘s aesthetic and just exactly how Weltraumstaunen wound up where they got in terms of sound. The second album was somewhat more adventurous than the first — though nothing against that record either — and found its strongest moments in a forward-looking kraut and space rock; the swirling effects, hard-strummed funky wah and a steady groove on the title-track indicative of the far-outness to which Weltraumstaunen was aligned, but really just the barest indication of some of the more experimental side of the nine-track/48-minute collection, which showed itself perhaps most of all in the 14-minute anything-goes sprawl of “Farfisadelic.” With steady pulsations of synth emerging amid flourish of backwards guitar and other atmospherics, that cut was by far the deepest journey into cosmic vacuum that the two-piece made, and its anti-apex resolution in an almost-standalone line of piano and effects drift proved clearly that Weltraumstaunen weren’t simply about a linear build or about capturing the rush of space rock. Their five-year mission was more varied in its course, with opener “Black Dove Part I” and closer “Black Dove Part II” dug into a vision of heavy psychedelia that by now feels prescient of what a German band like Samsara Blues Experiment would go on to do in their beginning stages, or even Schmidt‘s own Electric Moon, jam-based as that would be.

Not only that, but the moody prog of “Doors” and the acoustic/electric swirl of centerpiece “Wizard vs. Time” brought a classic feel to the proceedings and offered a grounding effect compared not just to “Farfisadelic” still to come, weltraumstaunen weltraumweltbut to the minimalist drone of “Introfernale” which followed or the earlier bass throb in the freaked out noisemaker “Hoffmans Mahl (The Dwarves of Yore)” and the resoundingly ambient “Floating in Space,” the latter of which gave its earthy, folkish strum a chance to really bring the album to earth at its midpoint, which “Wizard vs. Time” ultimately succeeded in doing, in sound if not theme. They didn’t rush back to ground by any means, rolling through “Introfernale,” “Weltraumwelt” and “Farfisadelic” before finding their way into “Black Dove Part II,” and in the interplay between vocalized and instrumental songs, the openness of the structures and the overall diversity of mood between their tracks, Weltraumstaunen were able to accomplish the rare feat of uniting their material through its very differences, setting the expectation early between “Black Dove Part I” and “Doors” that the band could and would follow their whims wherever they might go. They went, of course, to space. And floated there.

But the connections to classic prog, whether in “Black Dove Part I” or “Wizard vs. Time” and “Doors” — the latter also dipping into a kind of ethereal grunge — were key underpinnings to the more try-it-and-see aspects of Weltraumwelt, and where so many bands seem to commit themselves either to a planned songwriting modus or to outright improvisation, Weltraumstaunen refused to choose one over the other. No doubt the distance between Heinrich and Schmidt helped that too — because it’s hard to jam through the mail — but even through trying and subsequently fleshing out initial ideas, their songs were able to take various shapes brought together by a single creative persona, not just a work of genre, but a work that toiled at the edges thereof and seemed more interested in pushing the limits forward than residing comfortably within them.

But again, maybe you’ve heard it and maybe you haven’t. I know I’ve name-dropped Weltraumstaunen a couple times over the years in talking about other things Schmidt has done — and he’s done plenty — but I’ve never actually written about the band, and though I’ve periodically looked for it in YouTube, it wasn’t until a couple months ago that Weltraumwelt actually showed up, so the opportunity hasn’t really been there before now. It’s another album that turns 15 this year, which is kind of staggering to think about, but it came into my life in a box of vinyl from Nasoni that I got when I was doing college radio, and it’s one to which I’ve returned every now and again ever since, as it captured a genuinely open creativity that it’s hard not to find inspiring, its exchange of ideas and will toward seeing them realized, whatever shape they might take, indicative of the passion behind the collaboration in the first place. It might take you a listen or two to get it, but it’s worth that, at least.

Of course, Schmidt, working as Sula Bassana, has gone on to become a principal figure in Germany’s psychedelic underground, whether it’s running his own Sulatron Records imprint or expanding the space rock universe with Electric MoonKrautzone, the revitalized Zone Six and so on. Less clear on what became of Heinrich after Weltraumwelt, which was the last of Weltraumstaunen‘s releases. By the time 2004 came around, Growing Seeds had been done already — though their 1997 album, Miraculous Journey, is worth seeking out if you can find it — and given the creativity on display throughout Weltraumwelt, it’s somewhat surprising not to have heard from him more in the years since. Crazier things have happened than a band like this reemerging from such parts unknown, but I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime, a reissue through Sulatron would most certainly be welcome, and hopefully capture and inspire a new generation of listeners as well.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

New episode of the Gimme Radio show today at 1PM Eastern. You already saw the playlist. Listen here: http://gimmeradio.com, or on their app.

I like the app, but web works too.

This weekend is Psycho Las Vegas. I’m not there, obviously. We’re still doing stuff with the move to NJ from Massachusetts, so yeah, I just couldn’t really get out this time. Next year I’ll do it up properly. But if you’re there, enjoy it. Sick lineup, insane venue, scorching desert heat: the true Psycho experience. Nothing quite like it.

I’m expecting The Pecan up any minute now, so I’ll do my best to keep this short and sweet-ish. At the end (maybe the middle?) of next week we’re back in MA to pick up the last of our stuff. One more truck. One more truck. One more truck. That’ll be CDs and whatnot from our storage unit, stuff from The Patient Mrs.’ office at work, and maybe a shitty table to which I have sentimental attachment from the condo. Right now we’re slated to close on the sale on the 23rd. Keep your fingers crossed for us until then. At that point, we live in NJ. That’s home.

There’s a lot on already for next week, which is nice since the earlier part of this week was a little dead. I’d do notes, but frankly I don’t feel like cutting and pasting and rearranging it, so yeah. Zed review, Swan Valley Heights premiere, Stew premiere, Grand Royale video premiere, Von Detta track premiere, on and on. And that’s just Monday and Tuesday. The rest, who the hell knows.

This move has been stressful because it’s been so drawn out, over months rather than days or weeks. We’re up to our eyeballs in boxes and there are more to come, but it’ll be good longer-term. I’m happy The Pecan will grow up here. People look different, sound different, from each other. People speak different languages. It’s like civilization or something. Plus bagels and pizza. So yeah, civilization.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum, radio stream and merch at Dropout.

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Friday Full-Length: The Machine, Solar Corona

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Some bands you go into seeing knowing nothing about them and wind up buying all their albums. That was the case with Netherlands trio The Machine and I. It was the Afterburner for Roadburn 2010 (review here), the chill comedown/get-back-to-reality ease-out that the festival used to have before its lineup also got too crowded and they gave up the ghost and just made it another day of the festival proper, Roadburnout be damned. The Machine had released Solar Corona — their second album — in 2009 through Nasoni Records, and I hobbled my long-since-defeated ass upstairs at the 013 venue to what used to be known as the Bat Cave before the place was redone. Lo and behold, there were guitarist/vocalist David Eering, bassist Hans van Heemst and drummer Davy Boogaard jamming away in unassuming fashion to a not-quite-packed room, absolutely killing it for those not watching Eyehategod next door.

So yes, it was imperative to pick up the records. Solar Corona followed the three-piece’s 2007 debut, Shadow of the Machine, and was the point at which they really began to move into their own place in terms of sound, finding a take on heavy rock that was warm in tone and jammy in a way that, a decade later, feels like an early-adoption of the mindset Colour Haze brought to their own work of that era, warm of tone and brimming with an exploratory spirit. The album ran 66 minutes long, and so was a considerable undertaking, but its most extended pieces “Caterpillar’s Mushroom” (14:41), “Jam No. Phi” (11:11) and the closing “Moons of Neptune” (17:03) — and even the opening title-track (9:55) — served up some of its most satisfying and immersive material. Eering‘s vocals came and went, but were mellow enough consistently to be part of the overarching flow the band brought together, and the uptempo desert rock kick of “X.” (2:47), the percussion-laced aside “Interstellar Medium” (4:20) and the subdued heavy blues of the penultimate “Infinite” (6:22) did much to balance out those larger pieces surrounding, cleverly interspersed between them as they were. This gave Solar Corona a more linear impression to its CD release, and whatever arguments one might want to make about analog warmth and this or that, the fact that you could put on Solar Corona and just drift for an hour certainly had an appeal. Still does, I’d happily argue. Kind of why we’re here.

The Machine were happening at what turned out to be a crucial point for European heavy psychedelia. The the machine solar coronagenerational turn had begun a few years earlier, but as it was advanced through social media, The Machine arose as part of a new crop of bands ready to take on the mantle of the style as the first of a new cohort to take influence from heavy rock and spacey jams. Their sound could be stripped down to essential hook-based rock structures or as expansive as the wind crying Mary on “Jam No. Phi,” and its tone therein was classic enough to nod to greats past and then-present even as the group brought their own personality and chemistry to the mix. It was a question of vibe, and Solar Corona had an hour-plus of vibe waiting for anyone who might come looking for it. Eering‘s solos led the way and van Heemst and Boogaard made for a classic rhythm section in holding down a central progression and letting the guitar meander as it did, while at the same time giving cuts like “Infinite” and the driving “X.” their sense of movement and the force of their impact. It was a special moment, and The Machine were a big part of why.

When I saw them, they were mere months away from signing to Elektrohasch Schallplatten in Oct. 2010 for the 2011 release of their third album, Drie (review here). They would be contemporary to fellow Netherlander trio Sungrazer on the label and end up putting out a split (review here) and touring together in 2013. By then, The Machine had proven themselves a highly productive band, releasing their fourth LP, Calmer Than You Are (review here), in 2012. It was easy to see the two at the forefront of a wave of heavy psych just beginning to make its mark on the greater European underground, and indeed maybe they were. Still, it was Solar Corona that stood as the foundation of making that happen, in combination with The Machine‘s ultra-engaging live performance and the burgeoning persona in their songs. Listening now to “Caterpillar’s Mushroom,” it doesn’t sound dated for the 10 years that have passed since its arrival, and if anything, I’d only be glad to have its meandering explorations come in for a review if it did today. I kind of feel like I’m doing myself a favor in writing about it, to be honest.

First time I heard this record was on the train to the airport back from Roadburn. I loaded it into my portable CD player, put on my headphones, and let fly from Tilburg to Amsterdam, and by the time I got to the wall of fuzz finish in “Solar Corona,” it was safe to say The Machine were onto something. They would ultimately move beyond the sound that defined Solar Corona and Drie, bringing in more elements from noise rock on Calmer Than You Are, 2015’s Offblast! (review here) and 2018’s Faceshift (review here), the latter of which was the first outing to be released through their own imprint, Awe Records, but still hold onto some of the jammier stylizations that were so prevalent in the sophomore LP, and though van Heemst would eventually leave the band and be replaced by Chris Both, they’ve retained a characteristic style even as they’ve expanded the parameters of what that style can encompass. They remain a band whose “new stuff” I always look forward to hearing, as well as one who consistently defy predictability. They might jam out their whole next album. I wouldn’t bet either way.

I haven’t seen word on a new one in the works — it’s early yet — but The Machine do have festival dates booked, from headlining at Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark next month to a slot at Keep it Low in Munich this October. No doubt more will be added as well, so keep an eye out, but I guess if there’s an underlying point here it’s that Solar Corona was just near the beginning of The Machine‘s creative growth, and not at all the end of it.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

It got really chaotic all of a sudden today. Orange Goblin announced US shows and then Psycho Las Vegas put out the details for their pool party and I basically put the two posts up at the same time. And it’s Friday afternoon. I got in from the YOB show last night in Brooklyn at about 1AM, was asleep soon enough thereafter and up at 5. Did some laptop-futzing and put up the Colour Haze at Høstsabbat announcement and started to sort pics for the YOB review, and then the baby got up, and from there the day has just kind of been a whirlwind.

The above I wrote yesterday, basically swapping out that for doing the YOB review this morning, which I feel like only captured a fraction of how good that show actually was. Package tours, man. I guess they’re a logistical nightmare, but you could have a show with one badass band or you could have a show with three, it seems like an obvious answer to me. More heavy package tours. Make it happen, ye lords of booking. I wanna see Fu Manchu headlining with Elder and Wo Fat supporting by this Fall, or… well… or nothing, but that would be pretty rad.

No notes today. Next week is Roadburn. The note I’d post would only read “out to lunch.” I’ll be reviewing the fest as always and if you’re going, I’m the guy with the cosmic backpack. Might wear some hippie pants too. We’ll see how much laundry time there is this weekend. Still in NJ until Sunday morning and then back north to Massachusetts again. Fly out on Tuesday evening. Get in Wednesday morning. Crash, pre-show, review, sleep, wake up, Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, go, go, go until Sunday night when the universe collapses on itself and I go back to real life. By then I’ll be exhausted enough that it will feel like time.

But of course, I can’t wait to go.

So that’s where we’re at. I of course still have a ton of crap I need to get done before I get on the plane, but, you know, that’s pretty standard. Monday I’m reviewing Bible of the Devil. That’ll be fun. Check back in for it if you have time.

And even if not, thanks for reading. Have a great and safe weekend, and please don’t forget about the forum, radio stream and Obelisk shirts and hoodies.

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Mountain Tamer Premiere New Single “Death in the Woods”

Posted in audiObelisk on February 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

MOUNTAIN TAMER

Los Angeles trio Mountain Tamer continue to elude easy classification with their new single. As they did on last year’s sophomore full-length, Godfortune // Dark Matters (review here), and the prior 2016 self-titled debut (review here), they offer psychotropic signals to the converted in waves of guitar effects casting out over a wide soundscape, but there’s something darker about “Death in the Woods” — certainly the title carries a sense of threat as well — lurking beneath the surface’s more shimmering aspects. Its low end is grim, its vocals just a bit throatier, so that as the song moves further into its crash-laden freakout, the screams that come aren’t entirely unexpected.

Mountain Tamer accomplish this in efficient time, as “Death in the Woods” is only about three and a half minutes long. They’ve tested waters in such mountain tamer death in the woodsa manner before, of course, whether it was their 2015 Mtn Tmr demo (review here) that preceded the first album or 2017’s Living in Vain (review here) that preceded the second. And we won’t know just how much of a foreshadow “Death in the Woods” is casting until their next release — it’ll reportedly be an EP — arrives, but the troubling undercurrent in Mountain Tamer continues to give them an edge that so much of West Coast psych simply doesn’t have. It’s not for the bro-down, skate-so-you-can-work-on-your-social-media-brand set. It’s up to something entirely more sinister.

It’s kind of a curious case with Mountain Tamer. Every time I stop listening to the band, especially the last album, I think to myself, “Nah, you’ve got it wrong,” and I go back trying to hear it with different ears, like maybe the party vibe is there and I’m just not getting it — would not be the first time I wasn’t invited to the party, by any means — but no. Even putting aside the name of it, if you listen to “Death in the Woods,” what you’re hearing is Mountain Tamer — Andru Hall on guitar/vocals, Dave Teget on bass and Casey Garcia on drums — take elements from the modern West Coast heavy psych movement and twist them toward their own ends. And those ends indeed seem to be twisted. As Hall intones in the verse, “It’s okay to be afraid.” So be it.

Mountain Tamer hit the road next month alongside Salem’s Bend, heading to SXSW and elsewhere. You’ll find those dates under the player below, as well as some quick comment from the band.

Please enjoy:

Mountain Tamer on “Death in the Woods”:

‘Death In The Woods’ is about surviving on primal instincts, and how in the end we are all wild animals. The song helps showcase the heavy groovy psychedelic sound Mountain Tamer has been honing in for years as well as gives a taste of an upcoming EP that is in the works.

Mountain Tamer Tour Dates:
3/7 – Las Vegas, NV – Vamp’d
3/8 – Ogden, UT – Brewski’s
3/9 – Denver, CO – Bar Bar
3/10 – Wichita, KS – The Elbow Room
3/11 – Oklahoma, OK – Blue Note Lounge
3/12 – Fort Worth, TX – Lola’s
3/13 – Houston, TX – Rudyard’s
3/14 – Austin, TX – Spiderhouse (SXSW Stoner Jam)
3/15 – San Antonio, TX – The Mix
3/16 – San Angelo, TX – Deadhorse
3/17 – El Paso, TX – Frank’s Rockin’ Cigar Bar

Mountain Tamer is:
Andru Hall – Guitar/Vocals
Casey Garcia – Drums
Dave Teget – Bass

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Quarterly Review: A Storm of Light, Z/28, Forrest, 1476, Owl, Brass Hearse, Craneium & Black Willows, Magmakammer, Falun Gong, Max Tovstyi

Posted in Reviews on December 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Day Two of the Quarterly-Review-Mega-Super-Ultra-Year-End-Wrap-Up-Spectacular-Gnarly-Edition — name in progress — begins now. First day? Smooth. Wrote it over the weekend to get a jump on the week, cruised through a morning and into baby-naps, finished with time left over to still go and read the Star Trek novel I’m currently making my way through. Easy. Also peasy.

Today? Well, apparently I turned off my alarm in my sleep because I rolled over 40 minutes later and certainly didn’t remember it going off. Whoops. Not a great start, but there is a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so we’ll get through it, even if it’s awfully early in the week to be sleeping in. Ha.

Have a great day everybody. Here are 10 more records for the QRMSUYEWUSGE. Rolls right off the tongue.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

A Storm of Light, Anthroscene

A Storm of Light Anthroscene

“America the sick and crumbling/Liberty she’s weeping/The tired and poor are huddled and dying/As the wretched ones are touched aside.” The lines, from A Storm of Light‘s “Blackout” — the second cut from their fifth LP, Anthroscene (on Translation Loss) — lead to the inevitable question: “What the fuck is wrong with us?,” and thereby summarize the central sociopolitical framework of the record. A dystopian thematic suits the band’s aesthetic, and there’s certainly no shortage of material to work from between current events and future outlook. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/graphic artist Josh Graham, bassist Domenic Seita and guitarist/keyboardist Dan Hawkins are five years removed from the band’s last outing, however, so their post-apocalyptic post-metal is welcome either way, and Anthroscene taps a Killing Joke influence and turns it to its dark and churning purposes over the course of its eight tracks/51 minutes, delving into harsh shouts on “Short Term Feedback” and capping with the resistance-filled “Rosebud,” which surges forth from ambience like the anti-facist/anti-capitalist critique that it is, ending with the lyric, “When you die, we will spit on your grave,” which could hardly be more appropriate.

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Translation Loss Records on Bandcamp

 

Z28, Nobody Rides for Free

Z28 Nobody Rides for Free

Massachusetts’ Z28 — also stylized as Z/28 and Z-28; I don’t think they care so long as you get the point they’re named after the Camaro — make their full-length debut with Nobody Rides for Free on Fuzzdoom Records, and with the occasional bit of organ on songs like “Touch of Evil” and “Angst III (I Don’t Want to Die),” they nonetheless give a raw take on heavy rock laced with that particularly Northeastern aggression. Guitarist Jeff Hayward (also organ), bassist/acoustic guitarist/engineer Jason Negro and drummer Breaux Silcio all contribute vocals to the outing, and yet the minute-long instrumental intro tells much of the story of what it’s about in terms of the chemistry between them. Impressive guitar solos are rampant throughout, and the rhythm section carries over a weighted groove through cuts like “Wandering” that’s fluid in tempo but still able to create an overarching flow between the tracks. I’ll give bonus points for the Black Sabbath nods in the multi-layered lead work toward the end of “Spirit Elk (Lord of the Hunt)” as well as the title “Keep on Rockin’ (In the Invisible World),” and Z28 have something to build on here in terms of songwriting and that chemistry. It’s raw-sounding, but that doesn’t necessarily hurt it.

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Fuzzdoom Records on Bandcamp

 

Forrest, Kickball with Russians

forrest kickball with russians

Granted, Forrest telegraph some measure of quirk by naming their debut EP Kickball with Russians, but the four-piece from Lexington, Kentucky, still seem to be rolling along in a straightforward-enough manner on six-minute instrumental opener and longest track (immediate points) “(I Dream of) Kickball with Russians,” until the keyboards start in. That turn gives their EP an edge of the unexpected that continues to inform “DAN,” “Deew” and the closing “My Son Looks Just Like Me,” and “DAN” continues the thread with gang shouts popping up over its chugging progression and receding again after about two words to let the track get quiet and build back up. And is that a velociraptor at the start of “Deew?” Either way, that song’s Mr. Bungle-style angularity, a return of the keys and intermittent heavy nod work to underscore the willful weirdness that’s very much at play in the four-piece’s work, and the closer adds Ween-style effects work into the mix while still keeping a heavy presence in tone and lumber. They’ll get weirder with time, but this is a good start toward that goal.

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Forrest on Bandcamp

 

1476, Our Season Draws Near

1476 our season draws near

Coastal melancholy and a pervasive sense of atmosphere seem to unite the varied tracks on 1476‘s 2017 Prophecy release, Our Season Draws Near, which otherwise draw across their span from goth rock, punk, doom and extreme metal, able to blur the line especially between punk and black metal on songs like “Ettins” while acoustics pervade “Solitude (Exterior)” en route to the Anathema-gone-char rasps of “Solitude (Interior)” a short time later. I know I’m late to the party on the Salem, MA, duo, and likewise late on this record, but from opener “Our Silver Age” to closer “Our Ice Age” to the “Solitude” pairing to “Winter of Winds” — finally: David Bowie fronts Joy Division — and “Winter of Wolves,” there’s so much of Our Season Draws Near that has a bigger-picture thought process behind its construction that its impact is multi-tiered. And it’s not just that they pit genres against each other in their sound, it’s that their sound brings them together toward something new and malleable to the purposes of their songwriting. Not to be missed, so this is me, not missing it. Even though I kind of missed it.

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Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Nights in Distortion

owl nights in distortion

Joined on Nights in Distortion by bassist René Marquis as well as longtime drummer Patrick Schroeder, guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Christian Kolf (also Valborg) greatly expands his former solo-ish-project Owl with their second release of 2018 behind March’s Orion Fenix EP (review here), bringing together elements of post-metal churn with deeply atmospheric sensibilities, cuts like “Transparent Moment” churning as much as they are surprising with their underlying melody. A Type O Negative influence continues to be worked into their sometimes grueling context, but it’s hard to listen to the keyboard-laced “Inanna in Isolation” and hear Owl being anything other than who they’ve become, and their third album is the most distinct statement of that yet, airy lead guitars floating over a still-fervent, industrial-style chug amid vocals veering from barking shouts to quiet, low-register semi-spoken fare and cleaner singing. Nights in Distortion is the evolving work of a mastermind, captured in progress.

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Temple of Torturous website

 

Brass Hearse, Hollow on the Surface

Brass Hearse Hollow on the Surface

Synth-laden heavy horror garage dance rock could probably use a more succinct genre name, but while those in charge of such things sit and scratch their butts, Boston’s Brass Hearse carve out a niche unto themselves with their second EP, Hollow on the Surface. The five-track offering is in and out in 14 minutes but wants nothing for either a show of craft or arrangement, tapping into psych-folk in the strummy interlude “Dwellers in the Static Valley” after the hook-led “Death by Candlelight” and before the John Carpenter-style pulsations that underscore “The Thing from Another World.” Opener “Fading” is the only song to top four minutes and has a distinctly progressive take, but while it and the organ-ic closer “Headaches & Heartbreaks” has a theatricality to it, Brass Hearse are too cohesive to charge with being weird for weirdness’ sake, and their experimentation is presented in complete, engaging songs, rather than self-indulgent collections of parts mashed together. Would love to hear what they do over the course of a full-length.

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Playing Records on Bandcamp

 

Craneium & Black Willows, Split

Different missions from Finland’s Craneium and Switzerland’s Black Willows on their BloodRock Records split. Craneium nod through “Your Law” and mark their second inclusion, “Try, Fail, Repeat,” with a Sabbathian swing that only kicks up in tempo as it moves through its five minutes. Black Willows, on the other hand, present a single track in the 19-minute, noise-soaked post-everything “Bliss,” which trades back and forth between minimalism and crushing riffs en route to a consuming wash and long, long, long fadeout. Released in March, the outing showcases both bands well, but one is left wondering where the connection is between the two of them that they’d come together for a joint vinyl release. Either way, I won’t detract from what they do individually, whether it’s the catchiness of “Your Law” and the jam in its second half or “Bliss” with its frost-covered expanse of tonality, it’s just a marked leap from side A to side B. Maybe that was the idea all along, and if that’s the case, then one can only say they succeeded.

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BloodRock Records on Bandcamp

 

Magmakammer, Mind Tripper

magmakammer mindtripper

Following a 2015 self-titled debut EP, Oslo trio Magmakammer align with Kozmik Artifactz for their first long-player, Mindtripper, and so effect a garage doom sound that’s quickly relatable to Uncle Acid on songs like “Fat Saturn” and the chug-shuffling “Along the Crooked Roads.” Where they distinguish themselves from this core influence, though, is in the density of their tones, as opener “Druggernaut” and the rolling “Acid Times” prove thicker in their charge. Still, there’s no mistaking that swing and the blown-out sound of the vocals. Closer “Cosmic Dancers,” which is one of two tracks over seven minutes long, shows more dynamic in its loud/quiet tradeoffs, and resolves itself in a righteous nodder of a riff. It’s essentially in the same vein, but still displaying some emerging personality of Magmakammer‘s own that one hopes they continue to develop. And in the meantime, the foundation of craft and stylistic awareness they hone is still welcome, familiar or not.

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Kozmik Artifactz webstore

 

Falun Gong, Figure 2

Falun Gong Figure 2

Mystique isn’t easy to come by in this Age of Access, but the anonymous London-dwelling duo Falun Gong have succeeded in piquing interest with their two-to-date singles, “Figure 1” (review here), and the eight-minute “Figure 2,” which like its predecessor is raw in the recording, sounds like it was performed live, and follows a trance-inducing course of riffing. The central groove is a slow march that makes its way through obscure voices delivered in buried fashion — the whole thing may or may not be mastered; somehow I’m thinking not, but I’ve been wrong before — through a self-aware drift that rounds out following a soulful culmination fitting the song’s lyrical theme, which would seem to be tied to the cover art about baptism in a river’s waters. There’s just something off-kilter about Falun Gong to this point, and while it’s still early going for them, they bring an eerie persona to their work that feels less performative than it so often does.

Falun Gong on Bandcamp

 

Max Tovstyi, Mesmerize

Max Tovstyi Mesmerize

Though he’s had a slew of live outings out with the Max Tovstyi Blues Band and the Max Tovstyi Blues Association, Mesmerize (LP on Nasoni) is the Ukrainian heavy blues rocker’s first solo studio outing since 2014. He’s credited with all the instruments on the 10- or 12-track offering save for a couple arrangement-flourish guest appearances, and he pulls in a classic spirit and full-band sound without any trouble on a moody piece like “World of Sin” or the bonus track “Show Me the Way,” which isn’t a Peter Frampton cover so far as I can tell but still has plenty of guitar scorch to go around. “From the Blues to the Funk” jams its way along its stated trajectory, and “Feel Like Dying Now” brings together organ and keys in a fashion far less dramatized than one might initially think. With a clean production, Tovstyi — also known for his work in The Heavy Crawls, Lucifer Rising, and others — carries through his sentimentality for blues rock’s past and finds himself well at home leading the pack of guest vocalists on “Make Up Your Mind,” which closes the album proper with a semi-country twang and sweet melody.

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Nasoni Records website

 

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