Exit Interview: The Mad Doctors Call it Quits

Posted in Features on July 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the mad doctors

Playing with and off conventions of punk, surf, heavy rock and more besides, New York trio The Mad Doctors have been a sort of gleeful anomaly. In the release info for what will serve as their final (as much as anything is final in rock and roll) release, the EP R.I.P., they use the word “weirdoid,” and I love that, because not only does it push “weirdo” to 11, but it has fun in the process, and from where I sit, that’s what the band have been about this whole time. They call it quits leaving behind a too-short discography of short releases, splits and the 2016 full-length, No Waves, Just Sharks (review here), and an aesthetic that seemed just to be finding its joy in the strange nuance of their songwriting, but their doing so hints that perhaps the point all along was the search, not the find. In any case, they were a good band. So it goes.

R.I.P. serves as vital emphasis on that point particularly; one more fuzz blowout from guitarist/vocalist Seth Applebaum, bassist Joshua Park and drummer Greg Hanson, who earlier this year also issued the Fuck Sean Hannity digital single, thereby earning a 1UP’s worth of charm points. I’ve done exit interviews before once or twice. A band breaking up can be a contentious thing, and as I’m not really into hearing dudes rag on each other or dig into “band drama,” it’s not something I always want to chase down, but with The Mad Doctors, that doesn’t seem to have been what did it. They just seem like they’re ready to move on. There are new projects in the works and they decided to put things to rest with the five songs on R.I.P. and some last shows. It’s hard not to respect that, and after a run that goes back to 2013’s Fuzz Tonic EP, they’ve well earned the victory lap. So here are the dates:

The Mad Doctors last shows:
Wed 7/17 – Brooklyn @ Windjammer
Thur 7/18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Gooskies
Fri 7/19 – Ft. Wayne, IN @ The Brass Rail
Sa 7/20 – Detroit, MI @ Beaconsfield House
Su 7/21 – Chicago, IL @ Reed’s
Mon 7/22 – Cincinnati, OH @ The Hub
Tu 7/23 – Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
Wed 7/24 – Richmond, VA @ Cary St. Cafe
Th 7/25 – Harrisonburg, VA @ Lon Lon Ranch
Fri 7/26 – Washington, DC @ The Pie Shop
Sa 7/27 – Baltimore, MD @ Mercury Theater

I’ll say this about them: I never knew what a given offering from The Mad Doctors would offer — and that’s still true on R.I.P. — but I knew it would be a good time. I’m glad they had the awareness to pull the plug before it stopped being one.

Enjoy the interview and all the best to Applebaum, Park and Hanson on current and future projects:

The Mad Doctors – Exit Interview

Okay, so what happened? Why end The Mad Doctors?

Nothing happened, really. Creative projects just have ends. We were able to feel it coming and thought it was best to try to make the best of it and have some fun before we put it to bed. It’s better to have it end naturally rather than keep it going just for the hell of it. We had an amazing run – our adult lives are in many ways defined by it, we have made so many of our closest friends through it, we have seen so many places we otherwise wouldn’t have. And now it’s time to see where else the road goes.

When did you first start to feel like things with the band were drawing to a close? Obviously you’re still in it, but did it become the band you wanted it to be?

It has been about a year, maybe a little longer. It was mostly a lack of inspiration to write new material. It kind of felt like we had explored all the things we were excited about sonically that made sense with this band. Around this time, we had a few meetings to try to get the creative juices flowing again and see what we hadn’t tried (one of these attempts turned into “Aggro”) but most of the time, it ended with lukewarm tunes that just didn’t fit us. Sonic interests had changed, tastes had changed and we just felt like it was time to figure out a good way to put it to bed. So we came up with the idea of doing one more record and another tour to support it, a few goodbye shows and end on a high note.

Did you know as the new EP was coming together that this was it?

Yeah — we went into the recording process with the plan for it to be the last release. Thankfully we all still love each other and playing in the band is still a lot of fun so giving it some time wasn’t a problem at all but we have been sitting on the news and it’s exciting to be able to do it one more time.

You’ve toured, played fests, recorded albums, splits, the whole thing. What are you leaving undone?

Really, the only thing we wanted but haven’t done is tour internationally. It’s a bit of a bummer but we all have jobs and commitments to things locally so an international tour just wasn’t in the cards but we definitely wish it had! We had talked about Europe, Australia, Asia – we have had some good love from around the world – just good excuses to travel and see new places – which is always how we viewed touring in the first place. For another band, I suppose!

Best memory — live, in the studio, whatever. What specific moment will you look back on most fondly?

I mean, it’s impossible to pick one memory but when pressed, I definitely think one of the more magical moments was something that happened on a recent tour. We were playing a basement in Harrisonburg, VA that only had one light – a standing lamp that our friend (Jake from Illiterate Light) was whipping around, giving us a “light show.” Well, in the middle of one of the songs, he accidentally broke the bulb and we finished the song in darkness. Honestly, not the first time we have played in total darkness for one reason or another but after the song, we asked someone to turn another light on and we were told there wasn’t another light to turn on. So Jake turns on the flashlight on his phone and five or six more people in the front row take the cue and do the same so we finished the set by iPhone light and it was a moment that was totally awesome.

What lessons will you take from your time in The Mad Doctors as you move forward?

We learned all of the ropes in The Mad Doctors. Everything. How to book shows, how to book tours, how to not fight with band members, how to talk to each other, how to keep out of each others’ hair on the road, how to not take a bad show as a sign that your band totally sucks, how to embrace the moments of pure magic, how to maintain relationships in close quarters, how to play our instruments. It’s immense how much we have all taken from this band.

What’s next for you guys? Any new bands or projects in the works?

Always lots of stuff! Seth and Josh are doing Seth’s psychedelic soul band Ghost Funk Orchestra, who is doing quite well (and has a new LP coming out in August called ‘A Song For Paul’), Greg is in another garage punk band called Lumps, who is working on their second LP, Greg and Seth have a recording project called Power Children that’s like revved-up biker rock as well as their super-sometimes (like they play once a year) surf punk band The Fucktons, and Josh is always working on his solo drone/sludge project Sludge Judy (which Seth plays drums in). So – yeah, we’re definitely not done making music together in other forms and we’re all keeping active and happy with lots of music!

The projects:
https://ghostfunkorchestra.bandcamp.com/album/a-song-for-paul-2
https://soundcloud.com/ghostloadsound/power-children-night-time-is-the-fight-time
https://thefucktons.bandcamp.com/album/spring-cleaning
https://sludgejudy.bandcamp.com/

Seriously though, reunion tour in a year?

Who knows? Honestly, we’re not saying we’re never going to play again but this is the end of the band playing consistently, especially for the time being. Maybe we’ll have inspiration and write more songs and pick up the mantle again. But until then, we’re going to have a few more bangers and give our necks and heads a rest…

The Mad Doctors, “Shit Hawks at Blood Beach” official video

The Mad Doctors on Bandcamp

The Mad Doctors on Thee Facebooks

R.I.P. tape preorder

King Pizza Records website

King Pizza Records on Thee Facebooks

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Insect Ark Announce Lineup Change; Touring with Oranssi Pazuzu

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

INSECT ARK

I seem to recall Insect Ark went on tour a couple years ago with Aluk Todolo, and was out before that with Aidan Baker and has toured with Locrian as well, so with the news that the Brooklynite outfit will join Oranssi Pazuzu for an East Coast run this Fall comes further confirmation that Dana Schechter has good taste. Schechter is once again the lone figure as well as the spearhead of the project, having parted ways recently with Ashley Spungin following the release last year of the well received Marrow Hymns (discussed here). A follow-up to that record is in the works, and it should be interesting to hear how Schechter being on her own again affects the sound. She’s never had any trouble harnessing a dynamic between minimalist ambience and outright crush, so yeah. One expects she’ll be fine.

Tour dates follow. These will be good shows:

oranssi pazuzu insect ark tour

INSECT ARK: Instrumental Noise/Doom Project Confirms North American Live Takeover Supporting Oranssi Pazuzu

Instrumental noise/doom project INSECT ARK will support Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu on a North American fall tour. The journey will begin on October 10th in Chicago, Illinois and run through October 19th in Atlanta, Georgia with additional INSECT ARK performances to be announced in the weeks to come. See confirmed dates below.

INSECT ARK w/ Oranssi Pazuzu:
10/10/2019 Reggies – Chicago, IL
10/11/2019 El Club – Detroit, MI
10/12/2019 Velvet Underground – Toronto, ON
10/13/2019 Le Ritz – Montreal, QC
10/14/2019 Sonia – Boston, MA
10/15/2019 Le Poisson Rouge – New York, NY
10/16/2019 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
10/17/2019 Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD
10/18/2019 Kings – Raleigh, NC (late show)
10/19/2019 529 – Atlanta, GA

Formed in late 2011 in New York City, INSECT ARK is the solo project of Dana Schechter (bass, lap steel guitar, synthesizers). An alluring fusion of horror-?lm soundtracks, psychedelic doom, and atmospheric noise, INSECT ARK’s intensely visual music weaves interludes of fragile beauty with crushing passages of swirling doom, spinning like a backwards fever dream.

A busy 2018 included the release of a full-length LP Marrow Hymns on Profound Lore Records, European and North American tours, a recording residency at modular synth mecca EMS Stockholm, and fest appearances at Roadburn, Basilica Soundscape, Northwest Terror Fest, and more. Now in Summer 2019, the composing of a new album is almost complete with heavy touring in fall 2019 and spring 2020 for the US and Europe scheduled.

From its inception, INSECT ARK has been about creating music that transports, both physically, and psychologically. Schechter made three solo INSECT ARK records (Collapsar 7″, Long Arms 10″, Portal/Well LP). In 2015, drummer/analog electronics builder Ashley Spungin joined the project, and together they made 2018’s Marrow Hymns and toured extensively as a duo/band.

As of July 2019, INSECT ARK returns to the primary model of Schechter working as a solo artist, with live and studio collaborations on a per-project basis. Bridging the gap between experimentation and song form, a heavy focus is on composition, but INSECT ARK is still very much a live experience, with emphasis on live instrumentation of bass, lap steel, drums and synths, using intricate live analog looping techniques to achieve a monster “wall of sound” with only one or two people on stage.

A mind-bending animated video piece accompanies live shows – also made by Schechter, who works as a video artist in the film business – completing the experience to envelop and crush the senses.

http://www.insectark.com
http://www.facebook.com/InsectArk
http://www.insectark.bandcamp.com
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Insect Ark, Marrow Hymns (2018)

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Quarterly Review: Salem’s Bend, Motorpsycho, Sigils, Lord Dying, Sunn O))), Crimson Heat, Molior Superum, Moros, Glitter Wizard, Gourd

Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Today is Tuesday, I’m pretty sure, and hey, that’s nifty. I thought yesterday kicked off the Summer 2019 Quarterly Review really well, and any time I get through one of these without my head caving in on itself, I feel like that’s a victory, so yeah. Now we wade even deeper into what will ultimately be a 60-review plunge, with another 10 offerings of various stripes and takes on heavy. Some higher profile stuff in here, which is fine, I guess, but most of it is pretty recent, so if there’s something you haven’t heard yet, I hope you find something you dig, as always.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Salem’s Bend, Supercluster

salems bend supercluster

This is the sound of a band who’ve figured it out. Salem’s Bend have taken retroist boogie and modern tonalism, production and melody and turned it into something of their own. Supercluster (on Ripple) follows the Los Angeles trio of guitarist/vocalist Bobby Parker, bassist/vocalist Kevin Schofield and drummer Zach Huling‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), and with an uptick in the complexity of songwriting overall and particularly in the arrangements of dual-vocals, it is a marked step forward palpable as much in the hook of “Ride the Night” — and if you’re gonna call a song that, you better bring it — as the heavy crash ending “Heavenly Manna” and the languid, lucidly dreaming groove in “Infinite Horizon,” which appears ahead of the acoustic hidden track “Beltaine Chant.” That won’t be the last time these guys unplug, but whether it’s the raw Zeppelin vibe of “Show Me the Witch” or the crunching low-end nod of “Thinking Evil” or the leadoff thrust in “Spaceduster,” the message is clear that Salem’s Bend have arrived.

Salem’s Bend on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music webstore

 

Motorpsycho, The Crucible

motorpsycho the crucible

The latest in Motorpsycho‘s nigh-on-impossible-to-chart and ever-growing discography is The Crucible, issued through Stickman Records, and taking some of the heavy rock push of 2017’s The Tower (review here) and stretching out to more willfully progressive execution across three increasingly extended tracks. Running from shortest to longest, the album begins with “Psychotzar” (8:44) which resolves itself in maddening turns after fleshing through an energetic beginning, and rounds out side A with the 11-minute “Lux Aeterna,” with vocal harmonies and mellotron building into a graceful swell of volume before a headspinner solo and jam take hold, break to near-silence and finish in a burst of directly earliest-King Crimson majesty. This all before the 20:51, side B-consuming title-track crashes in with immediate tension and plays back and forth at releasing that through a course that is rife with melody and an emphasis on the mastery of Motorpsycho over their sound and direction. Onto the list of the year’s best records it goes.

Motorpsycho on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Sigils, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves

Sigils You Built the Altar You Lit the Leaves

Hypnotic and immersive heavy post-rock and metal becomes the genre tag well enough, but what New York’s Sigils do on their markedly impressive self-recorded, self-released debut album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves, is more soulful and emotive than “post-” anything generally conveys. With four tracks/38 minutes best taken as a whole, single listening experience, the band offer resonant depths of tone and vocal echoes centered around airy but still weighted guitar and consuming rhythms brought to bear with the patience of an organic Jesu. The ultimate triumph is in the melody and payoff of 13-plus-minute closer “The Wicked, the Cloaked,” which seems to manifest the haunting sensibility that “Samhain” and “Ritual” advocate on side A, but neither will I discount the chug of the prior “Faceless” or the underlying churn in those two leadoff tracks. Especially as a first album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves casts a sonic identity for itself that is striking and sees the band already beginning to push themselves forward. One hopes they continue to do so.

Sigils on Thee Facebooks

Sigils on Bandcamp

 

Lord Dying, Mysterium Tremendum

Lord Dying Mysterium Tremendum

Following 2015’s Poisoned Altars (review here), subsequent years of touring and a jump from Relapse to eOne Metal, Lord Dying‘s Mysterium Tremendum is enough of a stylistic melting pot that the best thing to do is call it progressive and just let it roll. Comprised of 11 tracks themed around death and the afterlife, the record takes the Portland, Oregon, outfit’s prior death-doom ways and expands them to incorporate an array of styles and melodies, like a vocoder-less Cynic or even Atheist, but more focused on the songs themselves. It’s being widely hailed as one of 2019’s best metal releases, and honestly I can’t speak to that because who the hell knows what “metal” even means, but it sees Lord Dying pull off a major sonic leap and if this is the direction they’re headed from now on, then I guess “metal” is going to be whatever the hell they want. So there. Expect to see a lot of Lord Dying t-shirts around in the years to come.

Lord Dying on Thee Facebooks

eOne Heavy on Thee Facebooks

 

Sunn O))), Life Metal

sunn life metal

The core of Sunn O)))‘s sound — that is, the drone-riffed tonality of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, has proven amorphous enough over the last two decades to either be orchestral, minimalist, impossibly bleak, or now, something brighter. The Steve Albini-recorded Life Metal is one of two purported Sunn O))) releases slated for this year, and it follows behind 2015’s Kannon (review here) in manifesting their project in a new way. It is 68 minutes long, comprised of four tracks — the first, “Between Sleipnir’s Breaths,” is notable for the inclusion of vocals from Hildur Guðnadóttir; the rest is instrumental — and while one wonders how much is the power of suggestion amid their colorful artwork and titular presentation, “life” as opposed to death metal, etc., their resonance throughout “Aurora” (19:07) and “Novae” (25:24) strips away much of the flourish that has engulfed Sunn O))) in their post-maturity years and reminds of the power at their center. They chose the right producer.

Sunn O))) on Bandcamp

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Crimson Heat, Crimson Heat

Crimson Heat Crimson Heat

With a handful of tracks of dirt-coated Sabbathian doom rock, Crimson Heat make their debut with a self-titled demo/EP in no small part defined by its lack of pretense. I’d buy the tape at the show. You’d buy the tape at the show. The download is free. Clearly this is a band figuring out what they want to do and trying to catch a few ears, but the sound is right on. Notable as well for the participation of Sam Marsh of Sinister Haze, tracks like “At My Door” blend Tee Pee Records-style skate vibes with darker traditionalist crunch, and the subsequent acoustic interlude “Firewood” indeed adds a bit of burning-stove smell to the procession ahead of doomed shuffler finale “Deep Red.” They might be new, but from the nod of “Premonition” and the double-layered guitar of “Fortune Teller,” they very clearly know where they’re coming from. What they do with that from here will tell the tale, but for now, selling the tape at the show isn’t nothing. Guess they better get on pressing some up.

Sinister Haze on Thee Facebooks

Crimson Heat on Bandcamp

 

Molior Superum, As Time Slowly Passes By…

Molior Superum As Time Slowly Passes By

The boogie runs strong in Molior Superum‘s first album in seven years, As Time Slowly Passes By… (on H42 Records), the title of which might just hint at the distance between their two full-lengths. Their debut was Into the Sun (discussed here) in 2012, and they answered that with 2014’s Electric Escapism (review here), but for a band who sound so energized on cuts like “Att Födas Rostig” and “Through Valleys of Wonder,” the time differential from one record to the next is curious. Still, no question the Swedish four-piece make the most of the 36 minutes they present on their sophomore offering, realizing classic vibes and fuzz tones through modern production that recalls the likes of GraveyardJeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus and even, on “Into the Grey,” Demon Head‘s doomier fare, with an overarching bluesy sensibility that remains exciting even in moments like the hypnotic midsection build of centerpiece “Divinity Blues.” Even the closing soft-guitar title-track has movement. They sound hungry in a way that suggests maybe it won’t be another seven years before a third LP arrives.

Molior Superum on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

 

Moros, Weapon

moros weapon

Just because Philly is leading the Eastern Seaboard in terms of psychedelic charge, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for the guttersludge extremity of a unit like Moros. The destructive three-piece’s first full-length, Weapon (on Hidden Deity Records), is vicious in its bite and downright nasty in its groove, abrasive from the static intro “(Vortexwound)” onward through “We Don’t Deserve Death” and “Devil Worshipper,” which recalls slower Napalm Death in its riff but is met with a harsh scream as well as shouts. The brutality continues through “Wizard of Loneliness” and into the outright pummel of “Death Nebula,” such that the locked-in nodder groove in the second half of “Every Day is Worse Than the Last” feels almost like a lifeboat, though there’s little salvation on offer in the closing title-track, which fades out on a noisy note in much the same way it faded in. Filthy, mean and heavy. The crust is real and it is thick.

Moros on Thee Facebooks

Hidden Deity Records website

 

Glitter Wizard, Opera Villains

glitter wizard opera villains

I was enticed to dig further into Glitter Wizard‘s Opera Villains (on Heavy Psych Sounds) by the recent video for opener “A Spell So Evil” (posted here), and it’s not a choice I regret. The San Fran-based weirdo collective are putting on a show, no doubt, but the quality of their songwriting on “The Toxic Lady” and the punkish underpinning of “Dead Man’s Wax,” etc., puts them in a classic rocking no man’s land in which they absolutely revel. The laser-strewn drama of “March of the Red Cloaks” and the organ- and flute-laced swing of “Hall of the Oyster King” embrace the grandiose in brazen fashion, and thereby make it that much easier for the listener to join them on this wavelength that is so thoroughly their own. Closer “Warm Blood” taps prog-of-old pomposity in its largesse while the earlier “Fear of the Dark” seems to do the same thing with just an acoustic guitar and some vocal harmonies. A record that knew exactly what it wanted to be and then became that thing. Awesome.

Glitter Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Gourd, Moldering Aberrations

gourd moldering aberrations

Ambient darkness is inflicted with only the cruelest of spirit throughout Gourd‘s Moldering Aberrations EP, the Irish two-piece alternating minimalist spaciousness with gurgling drone intensity, the extremity of which doesn’t so much come through in pummel or drive, but in the swell of volume and its contrast with the emptiness surrounding. Also the growls. Three tracks are offered up like monuments to pain, and through “Befoulment,” “Mycelium” and the title-track, they conjure a heft of atmosphere as much as one of low end, the claustrophobic feeling of their craft coming through even in the relatively peaceful opening of the last song. That peace, of course, isn’t so much moment of respite as it is precursor to the next plunge, and either way, Gourd work in grueling fashion over 23 minutes to dismantle consciousness and expectation with a grim, distortion-fueled chaos from which there seems to be no escape, until the rumble and noise leave “Moldering Aberrations” and there’s just residual hum and a cymbal crash left. Madness.

Gourd on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Monk Records on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Earth, Heilung, Thronehammer, Smear, Deadbird, Grass, Prana Crafter, Vago Sagrado, Gin Lady, Oven

Posted in Reviews on July 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Deep breath. And… here we go.

Welcome to The Obelisk’s Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. You probably know the drill by now, but just in case, here’s what’s up: starting today and through next Monday, I’ll be reviewing 10 records per day for a total of 60. I’ve done this every three months (or so) for the better part of the last five years, each one with at least 50 releases included. Some are big bands, some are new bands, some are releases are new, some older. It’s a mix of styles and notoriety, and that’s exactly the intent. It’s a ton of stuff, but that’s also the intent, and the corresponding hope is that somewhere in all of it there’s something for everyone.

I’ll check in each day at the top with what usually turns out to be a “hot damn I’m exhausted, but this is worth it”-kind of update, but otherwise, if we’re all on board, let’s just get to it. First batch below, more to come.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Earth, Full Upon Her Burning Lips

earth

Finding post-Southern Lord refuge with Sargent House in similar fashion to Boris, Earth seem to act in direct response to 2014’s Primitive and Deadly (review here) with the 10-track/62-minute Full Upon Her Burning Lips, stripping their approach down to its two essential components: Dylan Carlson‘s guitar and Adrienne Davies‘ drums. The former adds bass as well, and the latter some off-kit percussion, but that’s about as far as they go in the extended meditation on their core modus — even the straightforward photo on the cover tells the story — psychedelic and brooding and still-spacious as the music is. Gone are folk strings or vocals, and so on, and instead, they foster immersion through not-quite minimalist nod and roll, Carlson‘s guitar soundscaping atop Davies‘ slow, steady pulse. It’s not nearly so novel as the last time out, but timed to the 30th anniversary of the band, it’s a reminder that if you like Earth, this dynamic is ultimately why.

Earth on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

Heilung, Futha

heilung futha

It might seem like an incongruity that something so based in traditionalism conceptually would also turn into experimentalist Viking jazz, but I defy you to hear “Galgadr,” the 10-minute opener of Heilung‘s third full-length, Futha (on Season of Mist), and call it something else. Cuts like the memorable and melodic “Norupo” and the would-be-techno-but-I-think-they’re-actually-just-beating-on-wood “Svanrand,” which, like “Vapnatak” before it, is rife with the sounds of battle, but it’s in the longer pieces, “Othan,” 14-minute closer “Hamrer Hippyer,” and even the eight-plus-minute “Elivgar” and “Elddansurin” that precede it, that Heilung‘s dramas really unfold. Led by the essential presence of vocalist Maria Franz — who could hardly be more suited to the stated theme of calling to feminine power — Heilung careen through folk and narrative and full cultural immersion across 73 minutes, and craft something willfully forward thinking from the history it embellishes.

Heilung on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Thronehammer, Usurper of the Oaken Throne

thronehammer usurper of the oaken throne

The reliable taste of Church Within Records strikes again in picking up Thronehammer‘s first full-length, Usurper of the Oaken Throne. The project is a dark and warmaking epic mega-doom working mostly in longform material — it’s six tracks/78 minutes, so yeah — conjured in collaboration by the trio of vocalist Kat Shevil Gillham (Lucifer’s Chalice, etc.), guitarist/keyboardist Stuart Bootsy West (ex-Obelyskkh, ex-The Walruz) and drummer/bassist Tim Schmidt (Seamount), that hits with a massive impact from 17-minute opener “Behind the Wall of Frost” into “Conquered and Erased” (11:24) and “Warhorn” (19:12), making for an opening salvo that’s a full-length unto itself and a beast of doomed grandeur that balances extremity with clearheaded presentation. They simplify the proceedings a bit for “Svarte Skyer” and the eponymous “Thronehammmer,” but are clearly in their element for the 15-minute closing title-track, which rounds out one of the best doom debuts I’ve heard so far this year with due heft and ceremony.

Thronehammer on Thee Facebooks

Church Within Records on Bandcamp

 

Smear, A Band Called Shmear

Smear A Band Called Shmear

Smear‘s live-recorded A Band Called Shmear EP is basically the equivalent of that dude getting dragged out of the outdoor concert for being at the bottom of the puffing clouds of smoke going, “Come on man, I’m not hurting anybody!” And by that I mean it’s awesome. The Eugene, Oregon, four-piece get down on some psychedelic reefer madness tapped into weirdo anti-genre tendencies that come to fruition in the verses of “Guns of Brixton” after the drifting freaker “Old Town.” The whole thing runs an extra-manageable 21 minutes, and six of that are dedicated to the fuzzed jam “Zombie” — tinged in its early going with a reggae groove — so Smear make it easy to follow their outward path, whether it’s the surf-with-no-water “Weigh” at the outset or “Quicksand,” which hints at more complex melodic tendencies almost in spite of itself. You like vibe, right? These cats have plenty to go around, and they deliver it with an absolute lack of pretense. Whatever they do next, I hope they also record it live, because it clearly works.

Smear on Thee Facebooks

Smear on Bandcamp

 

Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree

deadbird iii the forest within the tree

One hesitates to speculate on the future of a band who’ve just taken 10 years to put out an album, but Deadbird sound vital on their awaited third full-length: III: The Forest Within the Tree (arrived late 2018 through 20 Buck Spin), and with a revamped lineup that includes Rwake vocalist Chris Terry and Rwake/The Obsessed bassist Reid Raley as well as bassist Jeff Morgan, guitarist Jay Minish and founders Phillip (drums) and Chuck (guitar) Schaaf and Alan Short — all of whom contribute vocals — Deadbird emerge from the ether with a stunningly cohesive and varied outing of post-sludge, tinged Southern in its humid tonality but still very much geared toward heft and, certainly more than I recall of their past work, melody. In just 38 minutes they push the listener into this dank world of their creation, and seem to find just as much release in experiments “11:34” and “Ending” as in the crashes of “Brought Low” or “Heyday.” Are they really back? Hell if I know, but these songs are enough to make me hope so.

Deadbird on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Grass, Fresh Grass

grass fresh grass

Brooklyn four-piece Grass released a live recording in 2017, but the late-2018 EP Fresh Grass marks their studio debut, and it comprises five tracks digging into the traditions of heavy rock with edges derived from the likes of Clutch, Orange Goblin, maybe a bit of Kyuss and modern bluesier practitioners as well in cuts like “Black Clouds” — the lone holdover from one release to the next — and the swaggering “Runaway,” which veers into vocal layering in its second half in a way that seems to portend things to come, while the centerpiece “Fire” and closer “Easy Rider” roll out in post=’70s fashion a kind of rawer modern take. Their sound is nascent, but there’s potential in their swing and the hook of opener “My Wall.” Fresh Grass is the band searching for their place within a heavy rock style. I hear nothing on it to make me think they won’t find it, and if they were opening the show, you’d probably want to show up early.

Grass on Thee Facebooks

Grass on Bandcamp

 

Prana Crafter, MindStreamBlessing

Prana Crafter MindStreamBlessing

Reissued on vinyl through Cardinal Fuzz with two bonus tracks, Prana Crafter‘s 2017 offering, MindStreamBlessing, originally saw release through Eidolon Records and finds the Washington-based solo artist Will Sol oozing through acid folk and psychedelic traditions, instrumentally constructing a shimmer that seems ready for the platter edition it’s been granted. Songs like “As the Weather Commands” and “Bardo Nectar” are experiments in their waves of meandering guitar, effects and keys, while “Mycellial Morphohum” adapts cosmic ecology to minimal spaciousness and vague spoken word. Some part of me misses vocals in the earthy “FingersFlowThroughOldSkolRiver,” but that might just also be the part of me that’s hearing Lamp of the Universe or Six Organs of Admittance influences. The interwoven layers of “Prajna Pines,” on the other hand, seem fine without; bluesy as the lead guitar line is, there’s no doubting the song’s expressive delivery, though one could easily say the same of the krautrock loops and keys and reverb-drenched solo of “Luminous Clouds.”

Prana Crafter on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Vago Sagrado, Vol. III

vago sagrado vol iii

Heavy post-rockers Vago Sagrado set a peaceful atmosphere with “K is Kool,” the opening track of their third album, Vol. III, that is hard to resist. They’ll soon enough pump in contrast via the foreboding low end of “La Pieza Oscura,” but the feeling of purposeful drift in the guitar remains resonant, even as the drums and vocals take on a kind of punkish feel. The mix is one that the Chilean three-piece seem to delight in, reveling in tonal adventurousness in the quiet/loud tradeoff of “Fire (In Your Head)” and the New Wave shuffle of “Sundown” before “Centinela” kicks off side B with the kind of groove that Queens of the Stone Age fans have been missing for the last 15 years. Things get far out in “Listen & Obey,” but Vago Sagrado never completely lose their sense of direction, and that only makes the proceedings more engaging as the hypnotic “One More Time with Feeling” leads into the nine-minute closer “Mekong,” wherein the wash teased all along comes to fruition.

Vago Sagrado on Thee Facebooks

Vago Sagrado on Bandcamp

 

Gin Lady, Tall Sun Crooked Moon

gin lady tall sun crooked moon

I’m more than happy to credit Sweden’s Gin Lady for the gorgeous ’70s country rock harmonies that emanate from their fourth album, Tall Sun Crooked Moon (on Kozmik Artifactz), from the mission-statement opener “Everyone is Love” onward, but I think it’s also worth highlighting that the 10-track outing also features the warmest snare drum sound I’ve heard maybe since the self-titled Kadavar LP. The Swedish four-piece have nailed their sound down to that level of detail, and as they touch on twang boogie in “Always Gold” or find bluesy Abbey Roadian deliverance in the more riff-led chorus of “Gentle Bird,” their aesthetic is palpable but does not trump the straight-ahead appeal of their songwriting. The closing duo of “The Rock We All Push” and the piano-soother “Tell it Like it Is” are the only two tracks to push past five minutes long, but by then the mood is well set and if they wanted to keep going, I have a hard time imagining they’d meet with complaints. Serenity abounds.

Gin Lady on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Oven, Couch Lock

oven couch lock

For an EP called Couch Lock — i.e., when you’re too stoned to even stand up — there’s an awful lot of movement on Oven‘s debut release, from the punk thrust of “Get It” to the arrogant sleaze of “Go James” and even the drums in “This Time.” And the nine-minute “Dark Matter” is basically space rock, so yeah, hardly locked to the couch there, but okay. The five-tracker is raw in its production as would seem to suit the Pennsylvania trio, but they still get their point across in terms of attitude, and a closing cover of Nebula‘s “To the Center” seems only to reinforce the notion. One imagines that any basement where they unleash that and the nod that culminates “Dark Matter” just before it would have to be professionally dehumidified afterward to get the dankness out, and an overarching sense of stoner shenanigans only adds to the good times that so much of East Coast-ish psych misses the point on. They’re having fun. You should too.

Oven on Bandcamp

Oven on Thee Facebooks

 

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Dead Satellites Set July 26 Release for Debut EP Burst

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Let’s assume that if a band goes ahead and names their debut EP after you, you’ve probably gotten the job done as a recording engineer. So it is with Burst, the first four-songer outing from Dead Satellites. The duo splintered off from Brooklyn’s Matte Black recorded the darkly spacious offering with Charles Burst at Studio G and, sure enough, decided to title it in his honor. Can’t argue with the sentiment — the thing sounds great — but it’s not something you run into all that often. It probably should be. There’d be a lot of records out there called Anderson, I guess.

In any case, Burst is out July 26 and will be available from the band. They’ve got the first two tracks streaming now in the form of “42,” with its immediacy of post-metallic riffing (indeed, it’s their “Stones from the Sky” moment) and the more sprawling “Beyond the Sun / Last Transmission,” and between the two, you can get a pretty good picture of where they’re coming from, though of course “Name_” and “El Guapo” have a few more tricks up their sleeve as well.

Cool stuff from a new band. That’s my favorite kind of story. Here’s the release announcement:

Dead Satellites Burst

Dead Satellites was born out of the love for playing live music. The duo had been hammering out riffs in the heavy NYC underground music scene since 2010. Most notably in the heavy psychedelic doom leaning power trio, Matte Black. Fidel Vazquez on drums and Matt McAlpin on Guitars/Vocals. The pair found themselves wanting to create something new and immediate as the band was finishing up the recently completed Matte Black album, “Psyche”. They accepted a gig supporting Lacey Spacecake before putting together a new set from scratch in a few weeks time. A few months later they went into Studio G to record with Seaside Lounge engineer, Charles Burst.

“Everything was tracked quickly in sequential order. The drums sounded fantastic in the live room and most songs were captured on the first or second take.” Matt remembers, “It was liberating and exciting session. Everything felt alive and the drums sounded huge. Charles really did an amazing job capturing the energy and feeling of our live performances.”

Dead Satellites “Burst” will be self released on Friday, July 26th.

Tracklisting:
1. 42
2. Beyond the Sun / Last Transmission
3. Name_
4. El Guapo

Dead Satellites are:
Idel Vazquez – drums
Matthew McAlpin – guitars + vocals

https://deadsatellitesmusic.bandcamp.com

Dead Satellites, Burst (2019)

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The Giraffes to Release Flower of the Cosmos Aug. 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the giraffes (Photo by Ebru Yildiz)

Down at the bottom of this post, where the streaming stuff goes, there’s streaming stuff. You’ll find The Giraffes‘ 2008 full-length, Prime Motivator, and the song “Product Placement Song” from their 2015 EP, Usury (review here). They’re down there, but I’m not going to put either one on to listen to while I write this, as I otherwise might do under normal circumstances. Because The Giraffes aren’t normal circumstances. They’re the kind of circumstances where I might put a track on and be completely unable to function for the rest of the day because they’re so goddamned catchy. I’ll tell you to go ahead and listen though, because frankly your productivity isn’t my concern. So yeah, dig in.

Maybe you know it and maybe you don’t, but a new album from The Giraffes is the best news of your day.

It comes from the PR wire:

the giraffes flower of the cosmos

THE CHAOS AND MENACE OF BROOKLYN BAND THE GIRAFFES LIVE PERFORMANCES HAS BEEN CAPTURED ON THEIR NEW STUDIO ALBUM: FLOWER OF THE COSMOS OUT AUGUST 2, 2019 ON SILVER SLEEVE RECORDS

record release show 8/3/19 at Union Pool with Beechwood, Chest High Fires

Brooklyn cult band The Giraffes are best known for their chaos and menace filled live shows and their cult following. The band will release their new studio album titled, Flower of the Cosmos, on Silver Sleeve Records (Caroline Distribution; formats include vinyl LP and digital) on August 2, 2019.

Flower of the Cosmos is a heavy, yet agile record filled with fun songs about sad realities that never gets bogged down but instead rips in ways no other band has been able to manage.

“Recording this album was the single most rewarding and challenging experience I’ve ever had in the studio,” guitarist Damien Price explains. “Conceived as love songs and played with an unbridled ferocity in reaction to the perpetual state of crisis America has placed itself in for the last three years.”

The record was produced and engineered by The Giraffes, Tony Maimone, and Francisco Botero, at Studio G (Tom Waits, The Black Keys, Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, Unsane) in Brooklyn during the summer of 2018. Maimone’s production credits include: Frank Black, Pere Ubu, Mike Watt, John Langford, Golem, and Ani DiFranco among others. Grammy award nominee Botero’s engineering credits include Highly Suspect, Adriana Lucia and more.

The album title, Flower of the Cosmos, the band explains “is a bitter acknowledgment that the modern world in all of its absurdity, vanity, sham, exploitation, and cruelty stands as the culmination of a 4 billion year uninterrupted chain of life on earth. We are the fruit of all that has come to pass before us, the pinnacle of creation, the acme of reality.”

Tracklisting:
1. “Can’t Do This In Your Head”
2. “Like Hate”
3. “Faks”
4. “Golden Door”
5. “Fill Up Glass”
6. “Bubble Scum”
7. “Raising Kids In The End Of Times”
8. “Dorito Dreams”
9. “Crude Wave”
10. “Romance”

The Giraffes is:
Aaron Lazar on vocals and guitar
Damien Paris on guitar
Andrew Totolos on drums, percussion, accordion
Hannah Moorhead on bass

Live in concert:
Saturday, August 3rd, 2019
at Union Pool
484 Union Ave Brooklyn NY 11211
Doors: 7pm
Ticket Price: $15
The Giraffes, Beechwood, Chest High Fires

https://www.thegiraffes.com
https://www.facebook.com/TheGiraffes
https://instagram.com/thegiraffesofficial
https://thegiraffes.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/the-giraffes
http://giraffesofficial.tumblr.com
https://soundcloud.com/silversleeverecords

The Giraffes, Prime Motivator (2008)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Eternal Black, Slow Burn Suicide

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

eternal black slow burn suicide

[Click play above to stream Slow Burn Suicide by Eternal Black in its entirety. Album is out June 13.]

At least as regards rock and roll, the sound of New York City has always been one fueled by grit and concrete. From the speed-pop of the Ramones to the bruiser noise of Unsane, New York has always been at its best when it manifests the intensity of its surroundings in an almost unconscious fashion, and that would seem to be precisely what’s happening with Eternal Black‘s second full-length, Slow Burn Suicide. Because for sure while the trio, in following their 2017 debut, Bleed the Days (review here), speak directly to NYC-based influences like early Type O Negative, River Runs Red-era Life of Agony, Cro-Mags — right about when RoadRacer became Roadrunner — bringing that aggression and heft of presence into the context of the traditional doom of their first record, they do so in a manner that sounds overarchingly natural. It’s clear they were consciously pushing themselves as songwriters — the returning lineup is guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob, bassist Hal Miller, and drummer Joe Wood — and in so doing, they’ve entered into conversation with influences beyond the standard fare for doom.

Across nine tracks bookended by the into “All These Things Destroy You…” and the outro “All These Things (Slight Return),” Eternal Black cast the identity for themselves that the debut and 2015 self-titled EP (review here), returning to record at Suburban Elvis Studios with Joe Kelly and Kol Marshall at the helm for a tonally consistent work that’s nonetheless a marked step forward from where they were two years ago. On tracks like the post-intro opener “Lost in the Fade” and the rolling “The Ghost,” they tap into this omnidirectional aggression, and even as “Sum of All Your Fears” hits into a chorus ripe for comparison to Deliverance-style C.O.C. — especially followed by the solo as it is — the band maintain their downtrodden atmosphere instrumentally and lyrically, taking what they want from the past and making it their own.

This is pretty much the ideal in all cases, but it especially suits Eternal Black to step into the role of representing trad doom from New York, where the style has never had the same foothold it’s enjoyed for decades a few hours south in Maryland. But from the moody, atmospheric notes and strums that launch the brief “All These Things Destroy You…” onward into the tom hits that build tension at the start of “Lost in the Fade” with feedback roiling behind, Eternal Black is both things: New York and doom. The gang-style shouts in the chorus of “Lost in the Fade” only further demonstrate the point, and the band retain a sense of impact to go along with the thickness in Wohlrob and Miller‘s tones, the hook coming around after a brash verse that keeps a raw feeling despite being produced for clarity.

eternal black

“Lost in the Fade” is the longest song on Slow Burn Suicide, and a highlight, but it doesn’t feel artificially extended or any longer than it needs to be to make its point, and “Below,” which follows, reinforces the core approach of the album, with Wohlrob‘s vocals offering a guttural, low-register melody and riding a groove that, had it been on the first record, I’d probably liken to The Obsessed, while keeping a more understated chorus en route to a sharp finish. This in turn brings “The Ghost,” with smooth hi-hat work from Wood in the nodding verses and more angular turns in the bridge, eventually leveling out to a longer instrumental section ahead of the solo and closing verse riffery, which is as fitting a march as one might make to “Sum of All Fears,” which is the centerpiece and a straightforward showcase of what Eternal Black are bringing to their second LP in terms of atmosphere, lyrical depth, largesse of groove and tone, and the focus on mood throughout. Four years on from their inception, they’ve succeeded in manifesting their sound from the roots of their inspiration, and “Sum of All Fears” might be the point on Slow Burn Suicide where that’s most palpable.

Though of course there’s plenty of competition in that regard, and as “A Desert of No Name” takes hold, it does so by renewing the rhythmic bounce early and moving in its middle third to a percussion-led instrumental break — not quite a jam, but not far off — as Wohlrob pulls a quick solo overtop. They move into a speedier section to finish as one last verse sneaks in at the end, and “Three Fates” provides an interplay of acoustic and electric guitar for an interlude leading to “Saints, Sinners and Madmen.” That track is also the last before the outro “All These Things (Slight Return),” which means essentially it’s surrounded on all sides. Think it’s meant to be a standout? The purposefulness of its positioning is met by its slow-crawling lurch — as with any doom worthy of the name, the bass is the secret weapon, and Miller locks in on “Sinners, Saints and Madmen” in an effective reminder of that — and Wohlrob tosses out the album’s title line amid further grim plodding.

The song is only four and a half minutes long, which is kind of surprising given the ceremony leading into and out of it, but it picks up its pace somewhat to give a fair-enough end, though the outro’s arrival — worth noting the “Slight Return,” at 2:22, is a minute longer than the intro — does much to underscore the true message of Slow Burn Suicide in terms of the consciousness and forward-moving will of Eternal Black‘s work. That can be heard in their songwriting here all the more with the consistency in terms of production, and what while what they do remains thoroughly doomed, it’s their doom. Listening to “All These Things (Slight Return)” as it dissembles at the finish, one does not at all get the sense that Eternal Black have finished exploring the parameters of what “their doom” is, but they take important steps here and find themselves exploring new ground even as they plunge deeper into the foundations of their approach.

Eternal Black website

Eternal Black on Bandcamp

Eternal Black on Thee Facebooks

Eternal Black on Instagram

Eternal Black on Soundcloud

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Eternal Black Announce June 13 Release for Slow Burn Suicide; New Song Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

eternal black

Preorders are up now for Eternal Black‘s second album, Slow Burn Suicide, which is fair enough because the June 13 release date is coming up faster than you (or I, anyhow) think. In accordance with the order of things, the Brooklyn-centered three-piece are streaming the track “The Ghost” from the record as an initial teaser for what the entirety holds, and its sound is true to what their 2017 debut, Bleed the Days (review here), set forth, while drawing at the same time toward a rawer approach. The guitar has more bite. The bass seems to hit with more force. The drums crash and roll with a barely-restrained intensity. It’s doom, make no mistake, but it’s fascinating to hear Eternal Black purposefully trying to bring something of their own to the traditions of the style, let alone openly discussing doing so as they do in the PR wire info below. The edge suits them.

I have to think that if Hellhound Records was a going concern in 2019, these guys would get a serious look.

To the announcement:

eternal black slow burn suicide

Eternal Black To Release New Album, Slow Burn Suicide, on June 13th, 2019

Pre-order available on Bandcamp; Includes a New Track, “The Ghost,” for Immediate Download and Streaming

Brooklyn-based doom band ETERNAL BLACK will release their second full length album, Slow Burn Suicide, on Thursday, June 13, 2019. Comprised of nine new songs, Slow Burn Suicide is the follow-up to their debut album, Bleed the Days. Fans can pre-order the album on Eternal Black’s Bandcamp page (eternalblack.bandcamp.com) and download or stream a new track titled “The Ghost” right away. The album will also be available on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services. Details about CD and vinyl versions will be coming soon.

Official statement from the band:

“Our mission on this album was ‘Keep Doom Ugly.’ We felt the raw edge of foundation Doom has been lost. Everything has become too self-indulgent. The meandering 12-minute tracks have been done to death. We wanted to push back against that trend. Restore the grit and grime to a sound that used to make the hair stand up on your arms. As before, we looked to the foundation Doom bands and dragged that sound back into the present. It can still be raw and innovative. On this album, the heavy parts are heavier and the grooves are groovier. In places, we’ve given the songs a little more light and made the dark parts darker. Slow Burn Suicide is a step forward while still honoring what came before.”

For the new album, Eternal Black again worked with the production team of Joe Kelly and Kol Marshall (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Ministry, Begotten) at Suburban Elvis Studios in New York. The duo has produced all of Eternal Black’s studio recordings including Bleed the Days and their self-titled EP. The album was mastered by Tony Reed of Mos Generator, who also mastered their previous album.

Formed in late 2014, Eternal Black is made up of Ken Wohlrob (End of Hope) on guitar and vocals, Joe Wood (Borgo Pass, Bloody Sabbath) on drums, and Hal Miller on bass. The group came together out of a desire to create dark songs driven by fuzz-drenched riffs and old-school heavy grooves.

http://eternalblackdoom.com
https://eternalblack.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/blackhanddoom
https://instagram.com/eternalblackdoom/
https://soundcloud.com/eternalblackdoom

Eternal Black, “Ghost”

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