Zaum Set May 10 Release for Divination

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I don’t think it’s been a full four days since Zaum‘s Eastern European tour dates were posted here, but here we are again as news comes down that the Moncton, New Brunswick, mantra doom outfit will release their third album, Divination, on April 26 in Europe as they wrap up said tour — they’re in Gdansk that night, which seems as good a place as any for a release gig — and May 10 in North America, both through Listenable Records. No audio, preorders or even a tracklisting yet, but the cover art’s out and there’s a bit of background on the record from the PR wire that gives a sense of some of the exploration at hand in the songs. Certainly there’s no shortage of reasons to be intrigued.

To wit:

zaum divination

ZAUM: Ambient Doom Alchemists To Release Divination Via Listenable Records This Spring; European Tour Announced

ZAUM is a passage toward the dark realizations of the old world; a monolithic, doomy mantra-based meditative experience forged by bass and drums interwoven with sitar, woodwind, string, and synth textures. Based in New Brunswick, Canada, observers experience a tranquil resonance whereby the astral and physical planes can coexist and be understood from a natural perspective.

ZAUM impending new album Divination, set for release this May via Listenable Records, is a direct continuance of the ever-evolving lore and world in which ZAUM has exposed. Conceptually, the album unpacks a transmundane darkness from ancient Burma – touching on conflict, theism, and some esoteric events which play a key role in the developing canon of ZAUM based on their previous releases to date.

Audibly, the album portrays a dense and vivid dreamstate, supplanting the listener into an overseer’s perspective of these aforementioned esoteric depths, reexperienced with a celestial clarity. The soundscapes within encapsulate an unveiled mysticism harnessed to unpack the fluidity of consciousness at the crux of the human condition.

While ZAUM’s meditative “mantra doom” sound stays quite true to what people have experienced to date, their sound and presentation certainly has progressed further into new territory on Divination with the inclusion of recorded instrumentation such as jaw harp, digideroo, singing saw, dilruba, saz, brass bells, brass bowl, and finger cymbals. In addition, their live experience now features a monumental change with the recruitment of Egyptian-Canadian evil queen Nawal Doucette to ZAUM, performing her mesmerizing dark dance rituals entrancing those who observe.

Divination will be released on April 26th in Europe followed by a North American release date of May 10th with preorder options to be available at the Listenable Shop at THIS LOCATION in the coming days.

Prior to the release of Divination, ZAUM will bring their psalms to European stages. The trek will run from April 9th through April 28th. See confirmed dates below.

09/04 – Dresden, DE @ Bärenzwinger
10/04 – Osijek, HR @ Dungeon
11/04 – Thessaloniki, GR @ Eightball Club
12/04 – Athens, GR @ Death Disco
13/04 – Kavala, GR @ T.E.I. Kavalas
14/04 – Istanbul, TR @ Mecra
15/04 – Sofia, BG @ Mixtape 5
16/04 – Timisoara, RO @ Reflektor
17/04 – Bucharest, RO @ B52
18/04 – Cluj-Napoca, RO @ Flying Circus
20/04 – Pescara, IT @ Tube Cult Fest
21/04 – Krško, SI @ Krško MC Klub
23/04 – Budapest, HU @ Dürer Kert
24/04 – Szeged, HU @ Grand Café
26/04 – Gdansk, PO @ Protokultura
27/04 – Wroclaw, PO @ Czasoprzestrze?
28/04 – Warsaw, PO @ Mala Warszawa

ZAUM:
Kyle Alexander McDonald – vocals, bass, textures
Christopher Lewis – drums, percussion
Nawal Doucette – visual performance art, ambiance

https://www.facebook.com/zaumn/
https://twitter.com/zaumdoom
https://www.instagram.com/zaumdoom/
https://zaum.bandcamp.com/
http://www.listenable.net
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs
https://twitter.com/Listenable

Zaum, Eidolon (2016)

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Zaum Announce Eastern European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

zaum (Photo by Pierre Morin)

New Brunswick meditative doomers Zaum will make their debut on Listenable Records later this year after being announce as having signed to the label last Fall. They’re certainly well due for a follow-up to 2016’s two-song full-length, Eidolon (review here), so I’ll take what I can get. I haven’t seen word that the album is done yet — doesn’t mean it isn’t, doesn’t mean it is — but I’m intrigued to hear what direction they follow after the last record seemed to find them so readily expanding their sound. I think ultimately they’re too vinyl-minded for such a thing, but if it was all just one song as well, that’d be fine by me.

The band will head to Europe next month to play Tube Cult Fest in Italy and will have Eastern European tour dates before and after that slow, playing places like Hunagaria, Romania, Turkey, and Bulgaria, among others. Looks like a cool tour, and somehow fitting for Zaum to trod on such ancestral ground. Their sound seems made for some sort of atmospheric orthodoxy.

Dates and such come from the social medias:

zaum eastern europe poster

Zaum – Eastern Europe Tour

Eastern Europe: we’ve prepared a special one for you next month. Please spread the thought of ZAUM, see you soon.

09/04 – Dresden, DE @ Bärenzwinger
10/04 – Osijek, HR @ Dungeon
11/04 – Thessaloniki, GR @ Eightball Club
12/04 – Athens, GR @ Death Disco
13/04 – Kavala, GR @ T.E.I. Kavalas
14/04 – Istanbul, TR @ Mecra
15/04 – Sofia, BG @ Mixtape 5
16/04 – Timisoara, RO @ Reflektor
17/04 – Bucharest, RO @ B52
18/04 – Cluj-Napoca, RO @ Flying Circus
20/04 – Pescara, IT @ Tube Cult Fest
21/04 – Krško, SI @ Krško MC Klub
23/04 – Budapest, HU @ Dürer Kert
24/04 – Szeged, HU @ Grand Café
26/04 – Gdansk, PO @ Protokultura
27/04 – Wroclaw, PO @ Czasoprzestrze?
28/04 – Warsaw, PO @ Mala Warszawa

Poster by Johnny Doe.

ZAUM:
Kyle Alexander McDonald – vocals, bass, textures
Christopher Lewis – drums, percussion
Nawal Doucette – visual performance art, ambiance

https://www.facebook.com/zaumn/
https://twitter.com/zaumdoom
https://www.instagram.com/zaumdoom/
https://zaum.bandcamp.com/
http://www.listenable.net
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs
https://twitter.com/Listenable

Zaum, Eidolon (2016)

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Zaum Sign to Listenable Records; New Album in 2019; New Lineup Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Formerly a duo, Moncton’s Zaum become a three-piece with the addition of Nawal Doucette to the lineup handling the visual side of their presentation and ambient whathaveyou, which, if you’re familiar with the Canadian outfit, you already know is not a minor consideration when it comes to their sound. Zaum toured through Canada in September alongside Sweden’s Firebreather, and when I just happened to run into the band in August at Psycho Las Vegas, they said the plan was to finish working on their next album after that tour. I guess that’s where we are now, and the announcement that they’ll release the follow-up to 2016’s Eidolon (review here) through Listenable Records is all the better. Not that I Hate Records was doing them wrong in anyway, but the more promotion behind their work and the wider the distribution, the better.

The bottom line I guess is 2019 should be an interesting year for the revamped longform-working, multi-textured progressive doom outfit. I don’t know how much touring they’ll do, but when I hear whatever I hear I’ll let you know. Till then, the announcement of the Listenable signing came through the PR wire.

And here it is:

zaum (Photo by Pierre Morin)

ZAUM: Canada-Based Mantra Doom Act Joins Listenable Records

Canada-based mantra doom act ZAUM has signed a multi-album deal with Listenable Records.

ZAUM is a passage toward the dark realizations of the old world; a monolithic, doomy mantra-based meditative experience forged by bass and drums interwoven with sitar, woodwind, string, and synth textures. Based in New Brunswick, observers experience a tranquil resonance whereby the astral and physical planes can coexist and be understood from a natural perspective.

ZAUM’s most recent full-length musical chapter, Eidolon, was released in October of 2016 via I Hate Records. In their few years as an active, touring band ZAUM has performed over two-hundred shows including support stints for Voivod, Cauldron, Mars Red Sky, and Bison as well as showcases at Roadburn, Haywire Festival, and Incubate.

ZAUM is currently composing new material for their next full-length, slated for a spring 2019 release via Listenable.

ZAUM:
Kyle Alexander McDonald – vocals, bass, textures
Christopher Lewis – drums, percussion
Nawal Doucette – visual performance art, ambiance

https://www.facebook.com/zaumn/
https://twitter.com/zaumdoom
https://www.instagram.com/zaumdoom/
https://zaum.bandcamp.com/
http://www.listenable.net
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs
https://twitter.com/Listenable

Zaum, Eidolon (2016)

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Zaum Post “The Enlightenment Pt. 1” Video; Touring Canada Next Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

zaum

I like the idea of a band saying goodbye to one release on the way to their next. I also like the idea of bands swapping tours — a little of the ol’ you-come-here-we’ll-come-there happening. Accordingly, as New Brunswick two-piece Zaum have a video posted for “The Enlightenment Pt. 1” from their 2016 album, Eidolon (review here), and seem to be using that as a means to bid farewell to the record as the make ready to have one out in 2019, and as they’re hitting the road in their native Canada alongside Gothenburg, Sweden, three-piece Firebreather, with whom they toured Europe in 2017, it seems like nothing but good news all the way around.

And fair enough on the timing of moving forward. Eidolon has sold through multiple vinyl pressings as well as a tape release and the band have a whopping five copies left of the CD as listed on their Bandcamp page at the time of this post. One imagines if they’re not gone before, they will be by the time the next tour is over. “The Enlightenment Pt. 1” of course comes from the album, but is an edit of the full side B track, the complete version of which runs a drone-filled 21 minutes and can be heard with its side A compatriot, “Influence of the Magi,” which also runs an even 21 minutes, in the player at the bottom of this post.

It doesn’t at all take Zaum that long to immerse the listener in their tones and rhythm, though. The bass/synth/drum/noise combination is hypnotic from the outset even in its shortened video form, and the narrative of the clip itself is likewise intriguing. Enough so that I can’t help but wonder if the band might at some point do a video for “The Enlightenment (Pt. II)” before next year gets here and they record and release their third album. Seems by the end of the video that the story is just heating up.

That’s a dad joke. I can make those now.

More info and tour dates follow the video below.

Please enjoy:

Zaum, “The Enlightenment Pt. 1” official video

New Brunswick’s ECMA and Music NB award winning mantra doom duo ZAUM are sharing with fans their new music video for “The Enlightenment.” The track is off ZAUM’s second full length “Eidolon” released in 2016 via I HATE Records with distribution via Plastic Head/Sony Music throughout Europe and Century Media in North America to follow their 2014 debut album “Oracles”.

ZAUM’s Kyle Alexander McDonald (Bass/Vocals/Synth/Textures) comments:

“Being that I’m a giant fan of the work of Seth Smith and Nancy Urich (of CUT/OFF/TAIL) due to their unique and unconventional approach to filmmaking – I felt Seth’s David Lynch-esque perspective could be a bizarre yet intriguing take on “The Enlightenment” for people to consider. Their work (like our music) inspires and encourages thought rather than providing literal answers. I’m thrilled with the result and hope people open their minds to the layers of potential reality.”

In their three years as an active touring band ZAUM have amassed 200+ shows (mainly international) under their belts including support stints for Voivod, Pentagram, and Cauldron. The duo recently announced they will be embarking on Canadian dates in Ontario and Quebec (dates listed below) with support from Sweden’s FIREBREATHER whom the band toured Europe with last year.

ZAUM: Canadian Tour w/ FIREBREATHER
08/24/18 – Saint John, NB @ Secondspin *
09/13/18 – Ottawa, ON @ Orange Art Gallery **
09/14/18 – Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo **
09/15/18 – Sudbury, ON @ Townehouse
09/16/18 – Hamilton, ON @ Doors
09/17/18 – Barrie, ON @ Foxx Lounge
09/18/18 – TBC @ TBC
09/19/18 – Kitchener, ON @ Hellcat
09/20/18 – Windsor, ON @ Windsor Beer Exchange
09/21/18 – Toronto, ON @ Coalition T.O.
09/22/18 – Quebec City, QC @ Scanner (venue change from Vietnam)
* denotes ZAUM only!
** denotes tribal dance artist Nawal Doucette performing in ZAUM

Zaum is:
Kyle Alexander McDonald (Bass/Vocals/Synth/Textures)
Christopher Lewis (Drums/Percussion)

Zaum, Eidolon (2016)

Zaum on Thee Facebooks

Zaum on Twitter

Zaum on Bandcamp

I Hate Records website

I Hate Records on Bandcamp

Superbob Records website

Superbob Records on Bandcamp

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Zaum Announce Tour Dates with Firebreather

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

zaum

Hey, look. Whenever Zaum want to get back in the studio and work on their third full-length, that’s cool by me. They want to jump right in and have at it? Great. They want to take a little time and hit the road with obvious-buds Firebreather and hammer out the stuff on tour first? Super. After their 2016 album, Eidolon (review here), I have every faith that the Moncton, New Brunswick, duo know what’s best. However they want to go, that’s cool by me.

Not that “being cool by me” is here or there, you understand. But still. Go get ’em, dudes.

Zaum and Firebreather toured Europe together in Sept. 2017, so their hooking up again for this Canadian run a year later only seems fair. The two bands go way back, as Zaum also toured with Galvano, the prior outfit of Firebreather guitarist Mattias Nööjd and drummer Fredrik Käll. Sometimes you get along with somebody. I’m kind of surprised the two bands haven’t put out a split at this point. Zaum — vocalist/bassist/synthesist/sitarist Kyle Alexander and singly-named drummer Lewis — are also reportedly looking to tour the US in 2019, and presumably the new album will be out by then too. Good news all around.

Poster and tour dates follow, courtesy of the social medias:

zaum firebreather tour

One last tour before we head into the studio for album #3. We’ll have our brothers FIREBREATHER from Sweden in tow! Poster by Josiah Barnett.

08/24/18 – Saint John, NB @ Secondspin **
09/13/18 – Ottawa, ON @ Orange Art Gallery
09/14/18 – Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo
09/15/18 – Sudbury, ON @ Townehouse
09/16/18 – Hamilton, ON @ Doors
09/17/18 – Barrie, ON @ Foxx Lounge
09/18/18 – TBC @ TBC
09/19/18 – Kitchener, ON @ Hellcat
09/20/18 – Windsor, ON @ Windsor Beer Exchange
09/21/18 – Toronto, ON @ Coalition T.O.
09/22/18 – Quebec City, QC @ Vietnam
** denotes ZAUM only!

ZAUM is:
Kyle Alexander : Vocals, Basses, Sitar, Synth.
Lewis : Drums, Lights

ZAUM recognize the support of Music / Musique NB and the Government of New Brunswick

https://www.facebook.com/zaumn/
https://twitter.com/zaumdoom
https://www.instagram.com/zaumdoom/
https://zaum.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ihaterecords/
https://ihate.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ihate.se/

Zaum, Eidolon (2016)

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Zaum, Eidolon: Magi Enlightenment (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

zaum-eidolon

[Click play above to stream Zaum’s Eidolon in full. Album is out Oct. 24 on I Hate Records.]

From field recordings of rain falling and birds calling to chants, throat-singing, drones and tones that ring out like bells calling one to prayer, the prevailing sense of worship in its two extended tracks comes to define Eidolon through and through. Presented across two sides — one cut per, both listed at precisely 21 minutes long — the second full-length from Moncton, New Brunswick’s Zaum arrives via I Hate Records (tape on Superbob) and is coated in a meditative vibe.

The duo showed patience a-plenty on their 2014 debut, Oracles (review here), and on the 2015 Himalaya to Mesopotamia split with Shooting Guns (review here), and “Influence of the Magi” and “The Enlightenment” fall in line stylistically with Zaum‘s prior work in their Eastern inflection and post-Om roll, but sprawl they present in Eidolon‘s 42 minutes brings the band to a new level of headphone-ready, open-consciousness expanse. Each track works to establish its atmosphere — “Influence of the Magi” in its stone-walled drone, “The Enlightenment” in birdsong and horn-esque synth — and when bassist/vocalist/sitarist Kyle Alexander McDonald (also synth) and drummer Christopher Lewis crash in on both, it’s merely an extension of the ambience they’ve already put forth.

It’s not jarring. It doesn’t surprise. It just is. That’s the level of ritual Zaum enact throughout. It’s a hypnotic sensibility distinct in some ways from psychedelia, but benefits from some of the same effects on the listener, and it becomes hard to tell just how much McDonald and Lewis are letting go here — whether the unfolding of “Influence of the Magi” is steering them or they’re steering it. One way or the other, it makes the first four minutes or so of the opener, just before McDonald‘s central bassline kicks in, all the more exciting as a setup for what follows, which in turn, does not disappoint.

Of course, once the full breadth of “Influence of the Magi” kicks in, the direction the song will ultimately take becomes clearer. Forward, and forward slowly. The layers of bass and maybe-sitar/maybe-synth, the swirling echo around the call and response vocals, and the gradual plod of Lewis‘ drums, all come together to create the impression of a march — the pilgrimage is underway. They break for a time just before 7:30 in and let the bass and drone hold sway, but it’s not long before the next chanting chorus and verse emerge. Already their trance-state has been attained, and the roll that plays out satisfyingly maintains it in both atmosphere and consistency of rhythm.

In its makeup, I guess it would be fair to call even the heavier stretches of “Influence of the Magi” drone, at least on some levels, but at its most active it moves far, far away from minimalism, even if it’s intent on returning there sooner or later. At about 12:00, Lewis and McDonald once again break, this time to a longer span of drones and chants, and they return at 14:30 with harder-hitting impact and gruff vocals — not quite growls, but definitely in a more shouting vein. The apex. It carries through a final chanting chorus and “Influence of the Magi” caps its grand span with flute sounds, more droning and residual noise on a long fade into silence.

zaum

As “The Enlightenment” begins, one can’t help but be reminded of what Montibus Communitas have been able to bring to their interpretation of psychedelic folk through the use of field recordings, birds and running water and the like, but Zaum‘s take is more foreboding almost immediately, though the pattern that emerges is ultimately familiar to “Influence of the Magi,” even if the transition from the extended intro — also arriving shortly after four minutes in — is more fluid overall. When it gets going, side B moves somewhat quicker than did side A, or at least that’s the impression, but pace doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Give up your expectations. Quit your job and move to the forest. Build a temple by a river and spend your days naming the gods who live in the trees around you.

It’s hard to know where one element ends and another begins in “The Enlightenment.” McDonald‘s vocals are a far-back swirl of semi-spoken reverb, and one can dig through the mystic fog of incense and find bass, and of course Lewis‘ snare cuts through as it would — punctuation no less invaluable on “The Enlightenment” as it was on “Influence of the Magi” — but in terms of some of the layers and what’s synth, what’s drone, what’s chanted, what’s sitar, it becomes a challenge. I wouldn’t want to speak to Zaum‘s intent, but it seems reasonable to think that’s the idea.

The idea isn’t that the listener sits and tries to pick apart each aspect of Eidolon, one layer, one wash at a time, but that the listener does exactly the opposite and lets the album carry him or her along with it on the journey it has undertaken. “The Enlightenment” holds more tension in part for its (relative) uptick in tempo, but trades between sections of drone and heavier push, manipulated sitar taking hold as a from-the-ground-up build sets the stage for a here-and-gone crescendo, disappearing behind low end and McDonald doing a better take on Cisneros-style singing than most.

It goes only to rise again and give way again in an ebb and flow that gives way to a reemergent swirl that acts as a capstone leading to “The Enlightenment”‘s outro of sampled thunder, flute sounds (synth, most likely), and a similarly patient end as that of “Influence of the Magi,” only with a clap of thunder, rainfall and birdsong as the last thing one hears — far, far back by then — as the album finishes out. That might be Zaum‘s way of easing the turn back to conscious reality — in which things do matter, you do have expectations, and building a temple is very, very difficult — but it’s still a considerable return to make when they’re done, which speaks to the quality of immersion they proffer throughout Eidolon.

What can be heard throughout these two pieces, in the end, is Zaum actively working to establish themselves as a unit separate from their influences. They’re exploring different textures and spirits within the music and finding out what works to represent their atmospheric expression. Given the effect Eidolon can have when one gives oneself over to it willingly, I think they succeed, but I would not be surprised to find McDonald and Lewis continuing to expand their sound going forward, and look forward to the worlds they may continue to conjure.

Zaum on Thee Facebooks

Zaum on Twitter

Zaum on Bandcamp

I Hate Records website

I Hate Records on Bandcamp

Superbob Records website

Superbob Records on Bandcamp

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Dinosaur Eyelids Post “Vernal Equinox” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

dinosaur eyelids

New Jersey-based heavy rockers Dinosaur Eyelids are currently in their seventh year and working on their fifth album. Their last offering, Bypass to Nowhere — even as I know the exact bypass they’re talking about I can’t help but wonder why it always comes back to highways with New Jersey — was released in 2014 and among its featured tracks is the spacey, jammy “Vernal Equinox.” And it just so happens that Dinosaur Eyelids have a new video for that song put together with satellite/ISS views from space, performance footage that I’m pretty sure comes from the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, some cool sunspots and so on.

Point is I doubt it’s anything you’d see paired with the track itself and think it’s out of place. While I think I’ll always hear an underlying edge of aggression in anything from my formerly beloved Garden State, Dinosaur Eyelids are at very least toning it way down here, I guess leaving the crunchier vibes for album cuts like “Halo Judgment” and “Talkin’ to Me” while the bulk of the record basks in a post-grunge alternamelodic looseness, and if it’s disaffection, well, at least it’s disaffection in the summertime humidity. These guys have always been right on the line between what I think fits around here and what doesn’t, and I won’t speak for their currently-in-progress next record, but at least this song works.

Find the “Vernal Equinox” video below, and enjoy:

Dinosaur Eyelids, “Vernal Equinox” official video

Official music video from the album “Bypass to Nowhere”

We’d like to take a moment to clear up some of the rumors currently circulating in the media. Yes, we are in the studio working on our fifth album. Yes, it is better than anything we’ve ever done. Yes, we are working with music legend Ed Wilson as our producer. Yes, Mark has impregnated all of the Kardashians.

We hope this clears things up.

Thanks to everyone who came out to our ALS Benefit Show at John in Peter’s (New Hope, PA) in December! We raised almost $1,000 for a very good cause. Thank you also to everyone who came to our big return to the Court Tavern (New Brunswick, NJ) on March 4th. It was our 20th show in the basement and definitely one of the best.

Dinosaur Eyelids on Thee Facebooks

Dinosaur Eyelids on Bandcamp

Dinosaur Eyelids website

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Last Licks 2014: Brain Pyramid, Zaum, Fire Faithful, Pendejo, Heavy Glow, Bibilic Blood, Thera Roya & Hercyn, The Spacelords, The Good Hand and Byzanthian Neckbeard

Posted in Reviews on December 31st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Yesterday was kind of crazy, but I don’t mind telling you I think today might be the most all-over-the-place of the week each of the five piles on my desk — now three, soon two — offers something different from the others, but it’s a wide spectrum being covered here, and there’s a couple abrupt turns from one to the next that I didn’t really do on purpose but I think will make for an interesting challenge anyway. In case you’ve been wondering, that’s what kind of nerd I am. Also the Star Trek kind.

I’m feeling really good about this series so far. Really good. I reserve the right to, by Friday, be so completely done with it that I never want to even think of the idea again, but I can only begin to tell you how satisfying it is to me to be able to write about some of these records after staring at them for so long sitting on my desk. Today’s batch is reviews 21-30 of the total 50, so we’ll pass the halfway point in this pile. If you’ve been keeping count since Monday or checking in, thanks, and if not, thanks anyway. Ha.

It’s about that time:

Brain Pyramid, Chasma Hideout

brain pyramid chasma hideout

Although it was streamed here in full in September, the persistent stoner charm of French trio Brain Pyramid’s debut album, Chasma Hideout (released by Acid Cosmonaut Records), seemed to warrant further highlight. Whether it’s small touches like the organ underscoring centerpiece “Lucifer” or the wah-ready bass of Ronan Grall – joined in the band by guitarist/vocalist Gaston Lainé and drummer Baptiste Gautier-Lorenzo – or the memorable if genre-familiar turns of “Into the Lightspeed,” the band’s first LP impresses with unpretentious heavy rock front to back. It’s not perfect. Lainé’s vocals come across high in the mix on opener “Living in the Outer Space” and there are points where the “familiar” runs stronger than others, but especially as their initial full-length offering, Chasma Hideout is one that one seems to continue to grow on the listener as time goes on, and one hopes that the heavy psych chicanery from which they launch the 11-minute closing title-track becomes the foundation from which they build going forward. Potential worth reiterating.

Brain Pyramid on Thee Facebooks

Acid Cosmonaut Records

Zaum, Oracles

zaum oracles

With the backing of venerable Swedish imprint I Hate Records, Canadian two-piece Zaum release their first LP in the four-song Oracles, a 48-minute work taking its central musical and atmospheric themes from Middle Eastern cues. Melodically and atmospherically, it relies on chants, slow, deep low end and minor key riffs to convey a dense ambience, reminding some of Om’s Mideast fixation on “Peasant of Parthia” – third and shortest here at 8:13 – but otherwise on a much heavier, darker trip entirely. Opener “Zealot” (12:55) and closer “Omen” (14:08) both offer plodding pace and a methodology not unlike Nile played at quarter-speed, but it would be a mistake to call the hand with which Kyle Alexander McDonald (vocals, bass, synth, sitar) and Christopher Lewis (drums) approach their aesthetic anything but commanding, and when McDonald switches to a semi-blackened rasp in the second half of “Omen,” Zaum demonstrate a desire to push even further into extremity’s reaches. I can’t help but wonder how far they’ll go.

Zaum on Thee Facebooks

I Hate Records

Fire Faithful, Organized Occult Love

fire faithful organized occult love

Some of the organ sounds on “Eye Opener,” the aptly-titled leadoff from Virginia four-piece Fire Faithful’s second LP, Organized Occult Love, remind of what Beelzefuzz conjured atmospherically, but an even more primary impression is the uptick in production value from Fire Faithful’s 2012 outing, Please Accept this Invocation (review here). Recorded by Windhand’s Garrett Morris, songs like “Last Fool on Earth” and “Organized Occult Love” brim with tonal resonance and a perfect balance the mix. Guitarist Shane Rippey handled the latter with Morris, and throughout, his tones and that of bassist Jon Bone shine, but whether it’s a more straightforward, Earthride-style groover like the title-track, or a more ranging doomer like “Combat,” vocalist Brandon Malone is well balanced to cut through the morass and drummer Joss Sallade’s crash resides comfortably behind the thick chugging. Melissa Malone and Gabrielle Bishop contribute backing vocals to “Last Fool on Earth” and only affirm how much Organized Occult Love brings Fire Faithful’s Southern doom to another level of presentation. An important forward step.

Fire Faithful on Thee Facebooks

Fire Faithful website

Pendejo, Atacames

pendejo atacames

Five years after debuting with 2009’s Cantos a Ma Vida, Amsterdam-based Pendejo return on Chancho Records with Atacames, a 10-track/44-minute wallop of classic heavy rock riffing and Latin American influence via the Spanish lyrics of vocalist El Pastuso and his readily-wielded-but-not-overused trumpet, which makes a surprising complement to Jaap “Monchito” Melman’s fuzz-heavy guitar, Stef “El Rojo” Gubbels’ bass and Jos “Pepellín” Roosen’s drums, but in context works well to bring personality and an individualized sensibility to a sound otherwise heavily indebted to the likes of Kyuss and Fu Manchu. Quality songwriting and variety in songs like the slower “Amiyano” and the building “Hermelinda” ensures Atacames offers more than novelty to those who’d gape at its other-ness, and when that trumpet does hit, it never falls flat. Closing out with a pair of big-riffers in “El Jardinero” and “La Chica del Super No Se Puede Callar,” Pendejo’s sophomore effort produces results as substantial as they are fun, and serve to remind that’s why we’re here in the first place.

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Chancho Records

Heavy Glow, Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine

heavy glow pearls and swine and everything fine

Cali trio Heavy Glow – guitarist/vocalist Jared Mullins, bassist Joe Brooks and drummer St. Judas – have spent a decent portion of the year on tour in support of their full-length, Pearls and Swine and Everything Fine. Understandable, and all the better to pick up your girlfriend in-person. Smooth, well-baked grooves permeate cuts like “Mine all Mine,” which also appeared on their prior 7” (review here), and the later “Nerve Endings,” a Queens of the Stone Age-style production giving about as much of a commercial vibe as a record can have and still be heavy rock, but the songwriting is paramount and definitely an element working in Heavy Glow’s favor, whether it’s the takeoff chorus of “Domino” or near-lounge vibe of “Fat Cat.” There’s an aspirational sensibility at the album’s core that’s going to make for an odd fit for some riff-heads who might be puzzled how something so nearly desert rock can still sound not at all like Brant Bjork, but hooks is hooks, and Heavy Glow use them well.

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Heavy Glow website

Bibilic Blood, Snakeweed

bibilic blood snakeweed

Bibilic Blood released three albums between 2009 and 2011, but the Eastlake, Ohio, duo haven’t been heard from since – their nightmarish, depraved psychedelic sludge vanishing in a smoky, somehow hateful wisp. Snakeweed marks their fourth album, and with it bassist/vocalist Suzy Psycho and drummer/guitarist Scott “Wizard” Stearns unfurl another demented collection of chaos snippets from an alternate, terrifying universe, the 11 songs totaling just 27 minutes with enough lumber and obscure freakout on two-minute mainliners like “Severed” and “Bloodnomicon” in the middle of the record to be a genre on itself — like a grainy horror flick made scarier by its rawness. Closer and longest cut at 4:10 “Bloody Rabbit” starts with Boris, Flood-style noodling from Stearns on guitar, but samples transition into Snakeweed’s most gruesome chapter, Suzy Psycho’s voice echoing, twisted, from out of an abyss that might as well be your own subconscious, referencing Jefferson Airplane along the way. Their particular brand of malevolence has been missed, and hopefully Snakeweed starts a new bout of activity.

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Goat Skull Records

Thera Roya & Hercyn, All this Suffering is Not Enough

thera roya and hercyn all this suffering is not enough

Gloom prevails and takes multiple shapes on All this Suffering is Not Enough, the new jewel-case split between Brooklyn post-metallers Thera Roya and progressive New Jersey black metallers Hercyn. Each band includes one song, and for the trio Thera Roya, that’s “Gluttony,” which builds its churn from the ground up and intersperses spacious guitar and almost punkish clean singing en route to a wash of scream-topped distortion, trading off volume and ambience and ultimately delivering a lot of both in a densely-packed eight minutes. Hercyn, a four-piece, counter with the 14-minute “Dusk and Dawn,” which follows their also-longform Magda EP (review here) in grand and squibbly form, a gallop taking hold early topped with throaty screams and shifting between melodic and dissonant impulses, a midsection solo offering a standout moment before the bludgeoning resumes. Each act offers a quotient of noise not to be understated, and despite working in different styles, that’s enough to let them complement each other well on the searing 23-minute Ouro Preto Productions release.

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The Spacelords, Synapse

the spacelords synapse

Synapse, the third full-length from German trio The Spacelords, arrives like a gift from the bliss-jam gods. Four extended mostly-instrumental cuts arranged two per side on a Sulatron Records LP, crafting memorable impressions with washes of synth and guitar, intelligent jams that feel partially plotted and intelligent but still exploratory and natural in how they flesh out. Guitarist Matthias Wettstein is out front in the mix, but bassist Akee Kazmaier and drummer Marcus Schnitzler (also of Electric Moon) aren’t far behind, as much as a title like “Starguitar” might make you think otherwise. The chemistry between the three-piece remains tight across the album’s 41 minutes, and from the rich bass and chugging guitar of the opening title-track to the more laid-back groove of “No. 5” and voicebox strangeness of “Pyroclastic Master,” which has the record’s only vocals in robotically spoken lines, Synapse seems to make all of its connections along the way. Heavy psych heads previously unfamiliar will want to take note. The vinyl, of course, is limited.

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Sulatron Records

The Good Hand, Atman

the good hand atman

A progressive heavy rock trio from the Netherlands, The Good Hand present Atman, their second album, on Minstrel Music, with an adventurous semi-desert sensibility given crisp production and a somewhat wistful feel in songs like “Greenwich Mean Time” and “Unity.” For a record that starts out with lead guitarist/vocalist Arjan Hoekstra (also tuba, trombone, bugle, keys, percussion) declaring “I am god,” Atman is surprisingly not-arrogant, owing probably as much to Radiohead as Kyuss and keeping an experimental feel to the stops and arrangement of “The Opposite,” bassist/vocalist Dennis Edelenbosch and drummer/vocalist Ingmar Regeling (both also Monotron) swinging out classic style but holding firm to a modern edge. Out of nowhere is the 19-minute closing title-track (nothing else hits six), on which The Good Hand unfold varied movements that push beyond the charm of “The Death of the Real”’s ‘60s affiliations and into spaces jazz-funky, or droning, or doomy, or all of them. No easy accomplishment, but The Good Hand manage to hold it all together fluidly.

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Minstrel Music

Byzanthian Neckbeard, From the Clutches of Oblivion

byzanthian neckbeard from the clutches of oblivion

Okay, seriously. What the hell do you think a band who live on an island in the English Channel and call themselves Byzanthian Neckbeard sound like? Burly as hell? Well you’re right. The Guernsey foursome of guitarist/vocalist Phil Skyrme, guitarist Jon Langlois, bassist Dano Robilliard and drummer Paul Etasse get down on some dudely, dudely grooves on their 2014 debut, From the Clutches of Oblivion. “Doppelganger” nestles somewhere between death rock, stoner and sludge, and there’s a heaping crash of doom on “Plant of Doom” (duh) and “To Seek the Cyberdwarf” to go with the more swaggering take of “Hive Mind Overlord” as well. But primarily, you don’t put the word “Neckbeard” in your band’s name unless you’re on a pretty masculine trip, and Byzanthian Neckbeard do not fuck around in that regard or in the aggro boogie of “The Ganch.” CD is limited to 200 copies in a four-panel digipak to house the growl-laden, riff-led plunder that ensues across its brief but bloody 32-minute span.

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Byzanthian Neckbeard on Bandcamp

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