Neurosis, Fires Within Fires: Reflecting Forward

Posted in Reviews on September 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

neurosis-fires-within-fires

A new release of any sort from Neurosis should be seen as reason to celebrate, and their 11th studio album, Fires Within Fires, has hit with no shortage of fanfare, critical fawning, wax poetry, etc. I won’t necessarily disagree with most of it, but it’s hard to separate the record, which of course is released on the band’s own Neurot Recordings, from the context in which it arrives.

Part of that is narrative. The post-metal progenitors began marking their 30th anniversary in the past year, and with Fires Within Fires, they take on the task of summarizing their unmatched sonic progression in a variety of interesting ways, not all of them sonic. At the same time, one of the most pivotal aspects to what Neurosis do — and I’m writing as a fan — has been the forward-thinking crux, the willingness to push into uncharted places, relentless in passion and creative spirit.

Fires Within Fires representing that as well as pulling in aspects from the band’s past without being overly cerebral or coming across like a commentary from the band, by the band, about the band, might be its greatest triumph. Rather, in marking their history, Neurosis — the five-piece of guitarist/vocalists Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till, bassist/backing vocalist Dave Edwardson, drummer Jason Roeder and keyboardist/noise specialist Noah Landis — conjure here some of the rawest sounds they’ve elicited in more than a decade.

That idea applies even to the five-track/40-minute runtime. Fires Within Fires is the shortest Neurosis full-length since 1990’s The Word as Law, and the visceral nature of opener “Bending Light” mirrors that paring-down process in its sound. At the same time, Fires Within Fires caps with “Reach,” which presents the most ambitious melodic vocal approach of the band’s career, so even as they reflect, that becomes part of an overarching ongoing pursuit.

This gives the album, produced by Steve Albini, who’s helmed everything they’ve done since 1999’s Times of Grace and 2001’s pivotal A Sun that Never Sets — the latter of which seems to find some reference here in the penultimate “Broken Ground” (probably not on purpose) — a certain front-to-back linearity. Especially with its somewhat truncated span compared to more recent Neurosis outings, be it 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here), which was an hour even, or 2007’s Given to the Rising, which was 10 minutes longer than that, the shorter stretch makes Fires Within Fires easier to take as a whole work as well as in terms of its individual pieces and what they accomplish.

Their recordings with Albini have always been very tied to their live presentation, so Fires Within Fires isn’t necessarily any more “stripped down” in its presentation than any of their other collaborations, but it does carry that rawer feel in the material itself, in the full-boar lurch of centerpiece “Fire is the End Lesson” as well as in the still-tense atmospherics of second cut “A Shadow Memory.”

Landis, whose contributions in eerie sampling and manipulation of sound, as well as keys, etc., continue to bolster the material well, immediately complement the initial rollout of “Bending Light.” Crashing in, the opener weaves its way forward on an intricately-toned guitar lead, quiets down to lull the listener into a false sense of security and then at 3:40 slams into its verse, Kelly‘s guttural sneer unmistakable as it spits the lines, “Watching through the eyes of a crow/I let it guide me/I let it guide me/I let it in/The end is endless/And washing [or watching] over me.”

The rhythmic repetition there is important, and comes up again shortly with the same line, “I let it guide me,” before Kelly and Von Till come together to deliver and repeat the lyric, “Peeling the skin away reveals the heart,” which could easily be read as a declaration of intent for the album itself (though again, probably not), their insistence as they belt it out four times in a row punkish in its intensity. Following a slowdown, Von Till takes the fore vocally and the track lumbers and undulates to its finish and into the airier start of “A Shadow Memory,” the shortest cut on Fires Within Fires at 6:50.

Within the first minute, its forward motion is underway, the guitars and keys accenting each other as Roeder, as ever, gives fluidity to what for most drummers would be impossible to interpret (without his blueprint). Von Till and Kelly work through a call and response on vocals and drop out for a moment of ambience before a section of drawn guitar line reminiscent of “Water is Not Enough” from Given to the Rising hits and carries through the halfway point, after which they stop and then shift again into a more direct thrust. That will serve as the capstone movement, and the guitar line returns to tie it together, behind another effective dual vocal that only adds to the manic feel before swirling noise ends cold and cuts into the immediate impact of “Fire is the End Lesson.”

neurosis-photo-by-john-sturdy

Also on the shorter end (6:54), it reverses the structure thus far of subdued intros into bursts forward, though it does build with much credit to Edwardson at the low end until they move through the two-minute mark, cutting out some of the wall-of-noise push to air out keys and what sounds like strings but could just as easily be a sample or other manipulation from Landis — it can be tricky sometimes to tell — but the thrust revives with a rising, consuming wash of noise and guitar, all seeming to come to a head and then only growing more abrasive, finally cutting out just past five minutes in to the same progression that answered the first payoff, which by this time has an almost soothing presence.

They finish with repeated lines before dropping to feedback to set up the gorgeous wash of keys that begin “Broken Ground.” One might be reminded of “A Sun that Never Sets” from the album of the same name by Roeder‘s drumming and the vocal that emerges, and as “Broken Ground” moves into its apex, it might seem to be speaking to the genre-foundational “Stones from the Sky” off that same record, but Neurosis today is a different beast than they were 15 years ago, and they shove what might be Fires Within Fires‘ standout riff into a chorus that holds its volume and opens into lines of what sounds like (but likely isn’t actually) flute behind the vocals, dipping back right away into the verse before a return to the quiet guitar, keys and drums of the intro just past the halfway point brings Von Till back for a more subdued delivery.

At 5:39, they kick back into that riff and take it through another chorus, and though it seems fair to expect them to ride that through the remaining three minutes, they instead cut back again and end quiet, watery effects on a few final lines on a long drift with just a current of noise remaining. The closer and longest track, “Reach” (10:37) begins almost like its predecessor, but the mood is immediately different, the drums accenting a march that Von Till meets with melodic singing in a voice usually reserved for his solo work.

Not only that, but soon enough Kelly joins in and the two duet in a way that I’m not sure has ever happened on a Neurosis record. A build has begun, however, and carries through the next verse and joint-vocal chorus, and at 4:30, they shift into what will be the ground level for Fires Within Fires‘ last push, a long section of melancholy guitar lead over patient and quiet, but tense, guitar, bass and drums.

You know it’s coming, you just don’t know when, but at 7:59, “Reach” lunges forth its crescendo, a vicious and somewhat angular rhythm very much the band’s own that moves back and forth between the guitars at the fore, brings in Edwardson on backing vocals — he’s a weapon not often but effectively used — and teases its finish with words that rhyme with the title before the guitar, bass, drums, keys and everything else drops away and the final call — “reach” — is delivered, the band basically living up to that promise in manifesting the undulled searching that has been their core for the last three decades. In the end, it only takes them one word to say it all.

The visual side of Neurosis‘ output — from the artwork to their years spent accompanied by Josh Graham‘s video presentations during live sets — has always been a major element in conveying theme. With Honor Found in Decay, there was a strong sense of ritual, and the open gray space of 2004’s The Eye of Every Storm was no less appropriate than the charred and fossilized flesh of 1993’s Enemy of the Sun.

With the Fires Within Fires cover by Thomas Hooper, we see several elements that factor into the story surrounding the album, from the burning world representing passion to the key that might very well be just that — the key — in saying passion is central to the band and what has sustained them. Also important and thematic through the package are circles, in both the world on the cover surrounded by ethereal lines that could well be taken as spirit, as well as on back and inside, and this too plays into the notion of Neurosis taking a rare moment to examine themselves and what their time together has wrought for them as artists and people.

I’ve made a lot of comparisons to their past work, and I think those hold up to scrutiny (or I wouldn’t have made them), but at no point do I believe Neurosis sat down and said, “Okay, now we’re gonna reference ‘Through Silver in Blood.'” Instead, it’s more likely these connections emerged naturally as the songs came together, and while at some point they had to consciously acknowledge they were doing something different than before — if only in realizing Fires Within Fires is 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor — I’m not convinced that’s anything so far removed from their usual method of making a record.

Still, the circles. One thinks of ouroboros, of ends as beginnings. It may well be that Neurosis have come full circle and they’ll draw that circle to a close, a completion, but just as likely, the turn in approach they present here may signify a new beginning for the band as much as punctuation for their first 30 years. What can be said for certain is Neurosis will keep moving forward, as it’s all they’ve ever done, and even as they may or may not be looking back, they refuse to stop changing on Fires Within Fires as well. Recommended.

Neurosis, Fires Within Fires album teaser

Neurosis website

Neurosis on Thee Facebooks

Neurosis on Twitter

Neurot Recordings website

Neurot Recordings store

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Friday Full-Length: Steve Von Till, If I Should Fall to the Field

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Steve Von Till, If I Should Fall to the Field (2002)

As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Neurosis‘ new album, Fires Within Fires, later this month, it seems worthwhile to go back 14 years and revisit one of the best and most underrated Neurot releases. Steve Von Till‘s If I Should Fall to the Field was his second solo outing behind 2000’s As the Crow Flies, and found the Neurosis guitarist/vocalist boldly and honestly exploring textures within and without of what might commonly be thought of — particularly at the time — as his main outfit’s reach. With its roots in neofolk, dark country and experimental singer-songwriterism, If I Should Fall to the Field‘s tracks retained a sense of depth in no small part thanks to Von Till‘s gravely vocals and the varied, sometimes sparse arrangements that surrounded them. A song like “To the Field” definitely showed some of the sway one finds in Neurosis in its second half, but from the quiet “Breathe” onward, Von Till is by no means beholden to those ideas, and when the album does feature drums or electric guitars, it’s more of an accent role, as on the Germanic-themed “The Wild Hunt,” a cornerstone example of the intensity Von Till is able to bring to bear even in this relatively subdued context. From the minimalist take on the traditional “My Work is Done” to the brighter flourish in the guitar of “Hallowed Ground” — met head-on by a particularly grim chorus — and down through “Dawn” and the cover of Neil Young‘s “Am I Born to Die,” there isn’t a letup in mood, and so while not at all abrasive, If I Should Fall to the Field should still rightly be considered a challenging listen, but what Von Till channels in these songs is something really special, and I can’t think of another way to put it beyond that.

The year before, Neurosis had released A Sun that Never Sets, which while less a defining moment for the band itself after pivotal stylistic accomplishments in 1996’s Through Silver in Blood and 1999’s Times of Grace, was nonetheless a solidification of their processes and became the record that launched a thousand post-metal ships. Scott Kelly, also guitar/vocals for Neurosis, put out his solo debut, Spirit Bound Flesh, also in 2001, so this was a particularly vibrant creative period for the band, and it would lead to Neurosis‘ 2003 collaboration with former Swans vocalist Jarboe and their 2004 album, The Eye of Every Storm, which to my ears remains one of its kind within their catalog for its patience and atmospheric breadth. Their subsequent offerings, 2007’s Given to the Rising and 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here), would continue to expand outward even as they reignited a more furious churn. Likewise, Von Till‘s solo follow-ups, 2008’s A Grave is a Grim Horse and last year’s A Life unto Itself (review here), as well as his work with the dark, space-infused Harvestman project, seemed to build on a foundation that If I Should Fall to the Field dug by hand.

I don’t mind telling you this record and I have been through some shit together. It has yet to let me down on any level, and it is a work to which I continue to feel a strong emotional connection — to the point that I’ll rarely put it on these days for the vivid and sometimes exhausting feelings it stirs. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have put it on today as I continue to prepare the ground (and by “the ground” I mean “my skull”) for the arrival of Fires Within Fires on Sept. 23, and of course I hope you enjoy as well.

 

Heck of a week, Brownie. I told off two out of the three medical professionals I saw this week, ho-hummed my way through some of the slowest-moving work days since I took my new job and committed myself to driving to New Jersey this weekend to see family, which, since there’s the extra day with the Labor Day holiday, should actually be something of a pleasure to do in not-rushed fashion. Doesn’t make the traffic less draining, but at least I don’t have to hurry to get back in it and head north to go to work on Monday.

I’ve also got posts slated through Tuesday already, so look out for stuff like an Asteroid interview, an Akris video premiere, a review of the new Yawning Man, a new Kadavar video, a stream of the full Thermic Boogie record, which is being reissued, and a stream and review for the Hifiklub vs. Fatso Jetson & Gary Arce collaboration who had a video premiere earlier today. Kind of a quick follow-up on that, but whatever. It’s gonna be awesome.

Also, really starting to wonder if anything’s going to beat the SubRosa for album of the year. We’ve got a few good months ahead — Sept. 30 is the craziest release day I can remember — but yeah, that record is fucking fantastic. If I can find time this week, I’ll post their set from Psycho Las Vegas as well. I feel like it’s the kind of thing that should be shown in schools.

Today kind of wound up being a day where I never even checked in mentally to check out. Exhausted, mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. Just exhausted. Got home from work a bit ago and though I was going to head south immediately, I decided I didn’t have it in me. I’ll be curled up on the couch watching tv for the rest of the day/night. Cook something stupid for dinner. Don’t even care.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Back here next week for much more, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Ufomammut Enter Studio to Record New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Here’s the cure to your shitty day: The knowledge that whatever cosmic misfortunes the universe seems to have set upon you, Italian psych-doomers Ufomammut are preparing to once more wipe the universe’s slate clean with a new full-length. Their eighth album, it will follow 2015’s Ecate (review here) and 2012’s two-parter Oro (review here and review here), and presumably will see release through Neurot Recordings as well, though that doesn’t seem to be confirmed in the press release below. If it turns out not to be a Neurot issue, they’d be a great pickup for just about any larger American or European underground label with an interest in heavy, so I’m sure they’d wind up someplace. If they’ve proven to be anything over the years, it’s hard to ignore.

To wit, tour dates in Australia and New Zealand as well as another run through Europe, confirmed to presumably follow the completion of this recording process. The PR wire has details:

ufomammut (Photo by Andrea Tomas Prato)

Ufomammut enter the studio to record their eighth LP; UK and Australian tour dates posted

The Italian psychedelic power trio Ufomammut are currently in the process of forging their eighth LP, following their heady/heavy 2015 epic for Neurot Recordings, Ecate. The band are knuckling down at Crono Sound Factory in Vimodrone, just north of Milan, the first time recording with their soundlord Ciccio and his comrades of Femore Production. Having spent much of the past year refining their exploratory jam sessions to make them fit for purpose – expect more of their inimitable dense, organic riffing to emerge in 2017, with teasers on the way sooner.

Having just wrapped up a European tour which included dates with their friends in Neurosis and fellow countrymen Grime, Ufomammut have their sights set on Australia and New Zealand, and will be travelling there in early October with the masters of doom tone, Monolord. Those dates are followed by further European shows, which include a performance at this year’s Damnation Festival in Leeds on November 5th, alongside Electric Wizard, Enslaved, Cult of Luna, Akercocke and many more, plus a London show. Full dates below:-

UFOMAMMUT – AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
03.10.16 – Wellington, San Fran w/ Monolord
04.10.16 – Auckland, Kings Arms w/ Monolord
06.10.16 – Brisbane, Crowbar w/ Monolord
07.10.16 – Sydney, Bald Faced Stag w/ Monolord
08.10.16- Melbourne, Max Watts w/ Monolord
09.10.16 – Perth, Rosemount w/ Monolord

UFOMAMMUT – EUROPE
02.11.16 – FR – Paris, Backstage
03.11.15 – BE – Hasselt, Mod
04.11.16 – UK – London, Underworld
05.11.16 – UK – Leeds, Damnation Festival
07.11.16 – DE – Leipzig, Werk 2
08.11.16 – DE – Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
09.11.16 – DE – Nurnberg, Musikzentrale
10.11.16 – DE – Hannover, Faust
11.11.16 – TBA
12.11.16 – NL – Utrecht, Le Guess Who Festival
13.11.16 – DE – Koln, Underground

www.ufomammut.com
www.facebook.com/ufomammutband
twitter.com/ufomammutmafia
www.instagram.com/ufomammut

Ufomammut, Ecate (2015)

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Neurosis Announce UK 30th Anniversary Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 10th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

neurosis (Photo by John Sturdy)

Having been fortunate enough to witness two of Neurosis‘ 30th anniversary sets in-person at Roadburn 2016 earlier this year, I’ll say from personal experience that attendance should be considered mandatory for even the mildest fan of the band. They not only tackle the scope of their entire career — a seemingly impossible feat to blend the raw punk of their earliest work with the groundbreaking experimentalism that followed — they do so with all the on-stage force one could ask of Neurosis, who are among the most dynamic live bands in the world, regardless of genre. Somehow I doubt adding material from their forthcoming 11th studio LP, Fires Within Fires, is going to hurt.

Unless you don’t bring earplugs, that is.

The PR wire brings details of the two 30th anniversary shows that Neurosis will play in the UK this November. They’re also in Europe starting tomorrow. Words:

neurosis london shows

NEUROSIS Reveals Two Special UK Shows To Mark Their Thirty-Year Anniversary And Celebrate The Release Of Fires Within Fires

With NEUROSIS having marked their thirty-year milestone with three shows in San Francisco, two shows at the respected Roadburn Festival, and a Summer of touring across Europe on the horizon, the anticipation for something special in the UK is palpable. It therefore comes with great pleasure to announce two London shows in November this year with thrilling, and unexpected, special guests.

On Monday, November 7th, NEUROSIS shall be joined by Earth, and on Tuesday, November 8th, they will be joined by Discharge and Subhumans. These bands represent perfectly the cross-section of music which NEUROSIS as a collective deeply admire and relate to, which makes these two shows all the more important in this milestone year. Tickets go on sale today.

Prior to the UK shows, on September 23rd, NEUROSIS takes a dominant leap with their eleventh full-length, Fires Within Fires. Three decades in the making, and following 2012’s Honor Found In Decay, the album is a testament both to the history and future of Neurosis. In true Ouroborean style, Fires Within Fires gives due to its predecessors while progressing forward into the unfamiliar and formidable. Striking the band’s signature balance between light and dark, beauty and repulsion, dense sonic heaviness and reflective space. Fires Within Fires is succinct, raw and deeply soulful, an all-encompassing reminder that transfiguration in sound remains their most commanding and inimitable strength. Our first and only glimpse of the music on this record, prior to release date, is sampled in a new video which showcases the exquisite album artwork from the renowned Thomas Hooper.

The journey of their music has found the band relishing the unpredictable, embracing the unknown and exploring the possibility of where the music was capable of taking them. Going beyond the remarkable, NEUROSIS has become unforgettable. Fires Within Fires is the next powerful step towards a destination that has long been and continues to be the very heart of “becoming” for NEUROSIS.

Neurot Recordings will release Fires Within Fires on September 23rd worldwide. Preorders are now being taken via the Neurot webstore RIGHT HERE.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
8/10/2016 Brutal Assault Festival – Jaromer, CZ
8/11/2016 Festa Radio Onda D’Urto – Brescia, IT
8/12/2016 Rock Altitude Festival – Le Locle, CH w/ Tesa
8/13/2016 Oya Festival – Oslo, NO
8/14/2016 Arena – Vienna, AT w/ Ufomammut, Tesa
8/15/2016 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, DE w/ Tesa
8/16/2016 Gruenspan – Hamburg, DE w/ Tesa
8/17/2016 Patronaat – Haarlem, NL w/ Tesa
8/18/2016 Pukkelpop Festival – Hasselt, BE
8/19/2016 Substage – Karlsruhe, DE w/ Tesa
8/20/2016 Motocultor Festival – St. Nolff, FR
8/21/2016 Amplifest – Porto, PT w/ Tesa
11/07/2016 Koko – London, UK w/ Earth
11/08/2016 Koko – London, UK w/ Discharge, Subhumans

STEVE VON TILL Tour Dates:
8/10/2016 007 – Prague, CZ
8/22/2016 Passos Manuel – Porto, PT @ Amplifest

http://www.neurosis.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com
http://www.twitter.com/neurosisoakland
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Neurosis, Fires Within Fires album teaser

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Neurosis Reveal Fires Within Fires Album Art and Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Neurosis release their 11th album, Fires Within Fires, on Sept. 23 via Neurot Recordings. Today, the cover art and tracklisting for the album has been revealed, showing the titles for six included tracks that one can only imagine must at least in part be pretty long, but the cover brings to mind older Neurosis records as well — thinking of The Word as Law and maybe Times of Grace — and they’ve been paying homage to their 30th anniversary all year, so it’s entirely possible that will have played into the songwriting as well, though if one can ever expect anything from Neurosis, it’s forward movement.

Hands down my most anticipated album for the rest of this year.

From the PR wire:

neurosis-fires-within-fires-1

NEUROSIS: MORE ALBUM DETAILS EMERGE AND ARTWORK IS REVEALED FOR THEIR ELEVENTH OPUS, FIRES WITHIN FIRES

Of all that humankind has inherited through our ancestry, no single language has transcended every age as powerfully as music. For thirty years, Neurosis have formed an unbreakable union, channelling that inheritance of sound with great command and authority. Showing their discontent with convention from the very beginning, Neurosis revealed what would become an instinct for transformation in sound and scope. Their sound has become interchangeable with vision of the conscious and unconscious, coexisting in an infinite audial spectrum. A vision that challenged not only the constraints of what listeners, and indeed the band themselves expected, but of themselves as beings. Going beyond the remarkable, Neurosis have become unforgettable.

The journey of their music has found the band relishing the unpredictable, embracing the unknown and exploring the possibility of where the music was capable of taking them. This year finds Neurosis taking a dominant leap with their eleventh full-length, Fires Within Fires. Three decades in the making, and following 2012’s Honor Found In Decay, the album is a testament both to the history and future of Neurosis. In true Ouroborean style, Fires Within Fires gives due to its predecessors while progressing forward into the unfamiliar and formidable. Striking the band’s signature balance between light and dark, beauty and repulsion, dense sonic heaviness and reflective space. Fires Within Fires is succinct, raw and deeply soulful, an all-encompassing reminder to all that transfiguration in sound remains their most commanding and inimitable strength.

Created by Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till, Jason Roeder, Noah Landis, and Dave Edwardson. The album features exquisite album artwork from the renowned Thomas Hooper and the stellar recording work of the group’s longstanding engineer Steve Albini. We are proud to reveal the artwork and track listing for the album below…

TRACK LIST
1. Bending Light
2. A Shadow Memory
3. Fire is the End Lesson
4. Broken Ground
5. Reach

Fires Within Fires is the next powerful step towards a destination that has long been and continues to be the very heart of “becoming” for Neurosis.

Neurot Recordings shall release the album on 23rd September worldwide, more information on pre-orders very soon. In the meantime, here’s where you can experience Neurosis live in the near future, including some newly added Steve Von Till shows…

NEUROSIS LIVE DATES:
10.08.2016 – CZ, Jaromer, Brutal Assault Festival (with Tesa)
11.08.2016 – IT, Brescia, Festa Radio Onda D’Urto (with Tesa)
12.08.2016 – CH, Le Locle, Rock Altitude Festival (with Tesa)
13.08.2016 – NO, Oslo, Oya Festival
14.08.2016 – AT, Vienna, Arena (with Tesa & Ufomammut)
15.08.2016 – GER, Leipzig, UT Connewitz (with Tesa)
16.08.2016 – GER, Hamburg, Gruenspan (with Tesa)
17.08.2016 – NL, Haarlem, Patronaat (with Tesa)
18.08.2016 – BE, Hasselt– Pukkelpop Festival
19.08.2016 – GER, Karlsruhe, Substage (with Tesa)
20.08.2016 – FR, St. Nolff – Motocultor Festival
21.08.2016 – PT, Porto – Amplifest (with Tesa)

STEVE VON TILL SOLO DATES:
10.08.2016 – CZ, Prague – 007
22.08.2016 – PT, Porto – Amplifest, Passos Manuel

http://www.neurosis.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
http://www.twitter.com/neurosisoakland
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Neurosis, “Times of Grace” Live at Roadburn 2016

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Ufomammut and Monolord Touring Aus/NZ this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

I wonder if the shipping on exports costs more when they’re this heavy. This fall, venerable concern Life is Noise will present the thunderdoom pairing of Italian cosmic doom progenitors Ufomammut and Swedish riff-crushers Monolord, which if the point hasn’t gotten across yet is a formidable pairing indeed, both acts preceded by their reputation for being heavy as hell.

For Monolord, this six-show run will follow an extensive US tour with Beastmaker and Sweat Lodge that will be their first time in North America as headliners, while Ufomammut have reportedly been working on new material presumably with an eye toward a 2017 release. That’s the hope, anyway. They’ve also been playing fests and other select dates in Europe.

Life is Noise sent the following down the PR wire:

ufomammut and monolord

LIFE IS NOISE PRESENTS: UFOMAMMUT (ITA) & MONOLORD (SWE) AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND TOUR

OCTOBER 2016

LIFE IS NOISE is proud to announce the first visit to our shores of Italian space doom virtuosos Ufomammut, along with masters of the riff, Swedish three-piece Monolord.

These two behemoths will be laying waste to cities across Australia and New Zealand this October in a truly huge doom double-header.

Playing an ear-destroying brand of sludge-filled doom that lurches from brooding slow menace to soul-crushing riff with a decent slab of psych thrown in for good measure, Ufomammut have released a stack of studio albums of unimpeachable heaviness, culminating in last year’s Ecate – truly a masterpiece of nuanced doom that perfectly encapsulates the band’s career to date.

Drawing on influences such as Sleep, Sabbath, Windhand, and Conan, Swedish trio Monolord take reverence to the riff to new extremes, with their second record, 2015’s Vænir, mixing glacial tempos with hypnotic and otherworldly vocals that coalesce into an album of both beauty and malevolence.

Catch Ufomammut and Monolord on the following dates:

Wellington – San Fran – October 3
Auckland – Kings Arms – October 4
Brisbane – Crowbar – October 6
Sydney – Bald Faced Stag – October 7
Melbourne – Max Watt’s – October 8
Perth – Rosemount Hotel – October 9

Tickets from lifeisnoise.com, Oztix, the venues and undertheradar.co.nz for NZ shows.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1170665092955732/
http://www.ufomammut.com/
https://www.facebook.com/UFOMAMMUT-83336386071/
https://twitter.com/ufomammutmafia
http://www.monolord.com/
https://www.facebook.com/monolordsweden/
https://monolord.bandcamp.com/

Ufomammut, Live at Saint Vitus Bar, May 19, 2015

Monolord, “Empress Rising” official video

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

Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

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

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare

mirrors for psychic warfare mirrors for psychic warfare

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

Neurot Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings webshop

Candlemass, Death Thy Lover

candlemass-death-thy-lover

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

Candlemass on Thee Facebooks

Candlemass at Napalm Records

Skuggsjá, A Piece for Mind and Mirror

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

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

Skuggsjá on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist webshop

Black Lung, See the Enemy

black lung see the enemy

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

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Black Lung at Noisolution

Lord Vicar, Gates of Flesh

lord vicar gates of flesh

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

Lord Vicar on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records

Dakessian, The Poisoned Chalice

dakessian the poisoned chalice

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

Dakessian on Bandcamp

Holy Mountain Printing

Gypsy Chief Goliath, Citizens of Nowhere

gypsy chief goliath citizens of nowhere

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

Gypsy Chief Goliath on Thee Facebooks

Pitch Black Records on Bandcamp

Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows

inter arma paradise gallows

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

Inter Arma on Thee Facebooks

Inter Arma at Relapse Records

Helgamite, Hypnagogia

helgamite hypnagogia

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

Helgamite on Thee Facebooks

Lost Apparitions Records website

Flesh Vessel Records on Thee Facebooks

Mollusk, Children of the Chron

mollusk-children-of-the-chron

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

Mollusk on Thee Facebooks

Mollusk at ReverbNation

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YOB and Black Cobra Announce Fall European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t recall hearing too many complaints when Oregon visionaries YOB and San Francisco demolition specialists Black Cobra hit the road together last fall in the US, and I don’t imagine they’ll come up against much resistance when they bring the show to Europe this September and October. YOB are still out supporting 2015’s album of the year, Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), while Black Cobra head out under the banner of earlier-2016’s Imperium Simulacra (review here), for which they’ve already toured in the States alongside Bongzilla, Lo-Pan and Kings Destroy and which offers a broader take on their trademark tumult.

The tour will hit an impressive number of festivals, from Incubate to Smoke the Fuzz to Asymmetry to Up in Smoke to Desertfest Belgium, each one basically providing an anchor with club shows in between. Looks like it’ll be a great time.

YOB announced the tour thusly:

yob black cobra europe 2016

EU FALL TOUR ANNOUNCEMENT: All current festival and show dates for our European tour this fall with black cobra are below.

Check back for more dates and ticket info, as we’ll be updating again soon!

11/09/2016 – Tilburg NL – Incubate Festival – September 2016
12/09/2016 – Dortmund DE – FZW
13/09/2016 – Aarhus DK – Radar
14/09/2016 – Gothenburg SE – Sticky Fingers // Göteborg
15/09/2016 – Oslo NO – BLÅ
16/09/2016 – Copenhagen DK – Pumpehuset
17/09/2016 – Athens GR – Smoke The Fuzz gigs Fest
19/09/2016 – Wiesbaden DE – Schlachthof Wiesbaden
20/09/2016 – Munich DE – Feierwerk
21/09/2016 – Berlin DE – Musik & Frieden
22/09/2016 – Wroclaw PL – Asymmetry Festival
23/09/2016 – Leipzig DE – UT Connewitz
24/09/2016 – Nurnberg DE – Z-Bau
25/09/2016 – Vienna AT – Chelsea
26/09/2016 – Ljubljana SL – Club Gromka
28/09/2016 – Zagreb HR – VintageIndustrial Bar
29/09/2016 – Linz AT – Stadtwerkstatt
30/09/2016 – Milan IT – Lo Fi Milano
01/10/2016 – Pratteln CH – UP in SMOKE indoor festival in Z7
02/10/2016 – Orleans FR – L’Astrolabe – Orléans
04/10/2016 – Belfort FR – La Poudrière – Belfort
05/10/2016 – Paris FR – GLAZART
06/10/2016 – Tourcoing FR – Le Grand Mix
07/10/2016 – Bristol UK – The Fleece Bristol
08/10/2016 – Glasgow UK – The Garage
09/10/2016 – Birmingham UK – The Rainbow Venues
10/10/2016 – Manchester UK – The Ruby Lounge
11/10/2016 – Dublin IRE – Whelan’s
13/10/2016 – London UK – Scala
14/10/2016 – Antwerp BE – DESERTFEST ANTWERP 2016
15/10/2016 – Hannover DE – CAFE GLOCKSEE

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https://www.facebook.com/quantumyob/
https://www.facebook.com/blackcobramusic/

Black Cobra, “Chronosphere” Live in L.A., 11.20.15

YOB, “Marrow” Live in NYC, 11.07.15

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