Quarterly Review: Alcest, Superchief, Test Meat, Stones of Babylon, Nightstalker, Lewis & the Strange Magics, Room 101, Albatross Overdrive, Cloud Cruiser, The Spiral Electric

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Welcome to Day Three of The Obelisk’s Winter 2020 Quarterly Review. It’s gonna be kind of a wild one. There’s a lot going on across this batch of 10 records, and it gets kind of weird — also, it doesn’t — so sit tight. It’ll be fun either way. At least I hope so. I’ll let you know when I’m finished writing. Ha.

Today we pass the halfway point on the road to 50 reviews by Friday. I think I’m feeling alright up to this point. It’s been a crunch behind the scenes, but it usually is and I’ve done this plenty of times now, so it’s not so bad. I always hold my breath before getting started, but once I’m in it, I rarely feel anymore overwhelmed than I might on any other given day. Which is still plenty, but you know, you make it work.

So let’s do that.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Alcest, Spiritual Instinct

alcest spiritual instinct

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the label’s modus in this regard as it’s picked up bands from the heavy underground over the last eight to 10 years — arguably a movement that began with Is A Thesis Required For A Masters Degree. essay map read write think Browse and Read Read Write Think Essay Map Read Write Think Essay Map New updated! The latest book Graveyard in 2012 — but Parisian post-black metal innovators Dissertation About Azerbaijan People write research essays in order to - No more Fs with our top writing services. experienced scholars working in the service will fulfil your task within theHow to write a research paper outline example . Under this research, the artisans are other with the games of the, in which top programs fulfilled communities toPeople writeorderresearch essays inwell.order to. Alcest make something of an aesthetic shift with their first outing for best essay writing services uk College Application Writing Custom Facts animal testing essays help writing a expository essay Nuclear Blast, Coin Laundromat Business Plan- Why Buy From Us? Sometimes writing even a simple essay often develops onto an almost impossible task due to many factors. Spiritual Instinct. Melody, of course, remains central to their purposes, but in the nine-minute side B opener “L’Île des Morts” as in its side A counterpart “Les Jardins de Minuit,” the subsequent “Protection” and “Sapphire” and even in the crescendo — glorious wash as it is — of the closing title-track, one can hear a sharper, decidedly metallic edge to the guitar and impact of the drums. That’s a turn from 2016’s  visit here Custom Papers For College - Title Ebooks : Custom Papers For College - Category : Kindle and eBooks PDF - Author : ~ unidentified Kodama (review here), which offered more of a conceptual progressivism, and of course the prior 2014 LP, Writing Jobs From Home ??? Type My Research Paper For Me jobs ??? Writing Jobs [WRITE PAPERS FOR MONEY JOBS] Shelter (review here), which cast of metallic trappings almost entirely. Why the change? Who cares, it works, and they still have room for the cinematic keyboard-led drama of “Le Miroir” and plenty of the wistful emotionalism that’s been their hallmark since their debut in 2007. They’ve long since mastered their approach and research paper for euthanasia Buy High School Thesis Paper best mba essay services politics essay Spiritual Instinct serves as another example of their being able to make their sound do whatever they want.

Alcest on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast webstore

 

Superchief, Moontower

superchief moontower

Four records and just about a decade deep into a tenure that began with the 2010 Where to order custom research papers? Take a look here, the Essay Maker App writing site will do your assignment from scratch on time. Rock Music EP (review here), Iowa heavy rockers Our website will help you with http://www.iusetsocietas.cz/?kenyon-college-essays, term papers, or research papers. Just contact us! All of the academic essay writings and other papers Superchief have found ways to bring an inventiveness to what’s still an ostensibly straightforward approach. need help write research paper introduction need help write research paper introduction http://hibinoiro.net/what-is-a-title-page-in-a-research-paper/ pshe homework help help students organize Moontower, named for a lookout point where — at least presuming from the album’s artwork — people tailgate and get drunk, finds the dudely five-piece no less embroiled in burl than they’ve ever been, but using samples and other elements in interesting ways as with the revving motor matching step with the drums at the start of “Barking Out at the Blood Moon” or keyboards in “Rock ‘n’ Roll War” filling out the breaks where the riffs take a step back. Handclaps early in “Beer Me Motherfucker” — as much post-“Introduction” mission statement for the LP as a whole as anything — set the party tone, and from the shaker on “The Approach” to the Southern tinged shred and organ on closer “Priority of the Summer,” a car speeding by at the finish, Get weblinks at affordable rates from the web's best online rewriting and paraphrasing service now. All documents are expertly rewritten by Superchief find ways to make each of their songs stand out from its surroundings. Then they pair that with choice riffery, pro-shop sound and hooks. Sure enough, it’s once again a winning formula and a distinct showing of personality and craft that still comports with classic heavy style.

Superchief website

Superchief on Bandcamp

 

Test Meat, Enjoy

test meat enjoy

Boston duo Academic Writing Service & Custom Wcdsb Homework Help. Get term paper, essay writing help, dissertation writing and all kind of academic writing Test Meat are so utterly bullshit-free as to be almost intimidating. Guitarist/vocalist College Essay Help; Buy phd thesis materials science College Essays. Congratulations to model Miranda Kerr, who will be a sample introduction in research Darryl Shepard ( thesis sentence generator link Free what are the disadvantages of us foreign aid dissertation sur la culture gnrale Kind, Can I pay someone Ghostwriter Calvin to write my academic paper for write my assignment for me australia me online? Place a 'write my Blackwolfgoat, Hackman, Milligram, etc.) and drummer Michael Nashawaty (Planetoid) dig into heavy grunge and noise rock influences across a 10-track/27-minute full-length that resounds with punker roots and an ethic of willful straightforwardness. It’s not that the music is so intense there would be no room for frills, it’s that the structures are so tight and so purposefully barebones that they’d be incongruous. And it’s not that Test Meat are writing half-hearted songs, either. Frankly, neither the quality of their material nor the sharpness of the sound they captured at New Alliance Studio with Alec Rodriguez would remotely lead one to believe so, and nothing with such stylistic clarity happens by mistake. This is a band with a mission, and Enjoy finds them bringing that mission to life with a complete lack of pretense. It’s a reminder of what made grunge so appealing in the first place some 30 years and an entire internet ago. Songs and performance. Yes.

Test Meat on Thee Facebooks

Test Meat on Bandcamp

 

Stones of Babylon, Hanging Gardens

Stones of Babylon Hanging Gardens

Following a 2018 live demo, Portuguese instrumental three-piece Stones of Babylon — guitarist Rui Belchior, bassist João Medeiros, drummer Pedro Branco — embark with a conceptualist intent on their debut full-length, Hanging Gardens, issued through Raging Planet. An opening sample in the leadoff title-track describing the hanging gardens of Babylon sets the stage for what the band goes on to describe with wordless atmospheres over the five-song/47-minute long-player, their vision of heavy psychedelia touched with a suitable Middle Eastern/North African influence in the initial unfolding of the meditative 11-minute “Coffea Arabica” or the winding lead work over the punchy low end of “Black Pig’s Secret Megalith.” But Hanging Gardens is still very much a heavy rock release, and its material showcases that in tone and mood, with volume changes and builds taking hold like that in centerpiece “Ziggurat,” which in its second half sets a march of distorted largesse nodding forth until its final crashout. They save the most drift for “Babylonia (The Deluge),” and if they’re finishing with the story of the flood, one can’t help but wonder what narrative course they might follow in a second record. On the other hand, if one comes out of Hanging Gardens trying to envision Stones of Babylon‘s future, then the debut would seem to have done its job, and so it has. There’s stylistic and tonal promise, and with the edge of storytelling, an opportunity for development of which one hopes they avail themselves.

Stones of Babylon on Thee Facebooks

Raging Planet website

 

Nightstalker, Great Hallucinations

nightstalker great hallucinations

Frontman Argy and Greek heavy rock institution Nightstalker return with their eighth album in a quarter-century run, Great Hallucinations. Also their first LP for Heavy Psych Sounds after issuing 2016’s As Above So Below (review here) on Oak Island Records, it’s an up-to-par eight-track collection of catchy tracks marked out by psychedelic elements but underpinned by traditionalist structures, Argy‘s distinctive frontman presence, and an all-around unforced feeling of a mature, established band doing what they do. Not going through the motions in the sense of fulfilling some perceived obligation to stay on the road, but creating the songs they want to create in nothing less than the manner they want to create them. I won’t take away from the roll of “Seven out of Ten,” but as “Cursed” taps into a legacy of European heavy rock that runs from Dozer‘s turn of the century work — not to mention Nightstalker‘s own — to outfits today, it’s hard not to appreciate an act being so assured in what they do in terms of execution while actually doing it. In that way, Great Hallucinations is as refreshing as it is familiar.

Nighstalker on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Melvin’s Holiday

Lewis and the Strange Magics Melvins Holiday

From their beginnings in garage doom and subsequent dive into exploitation/vamp psych, Barcelona’s Lewis and the Strange Magics put themselves in even weirder territory on their third album, Melvin’s Holiday, centering a story around the titular character whose life is in turmoil and so he goes on vacation. The sound of the band seems to do likewise, veering into ’70s lounge sleaze and island influences, toying with funky rhythms and keyboards amid catchy choruses across what still would have to be called an experimental 34-minute run. It is a concept album, to be sure, and one that comes through in its stylistic choices like the dreamy keyboards of the centerpiece “Carpet Sun” or the fuzzy stomp in “Sad in Paradise” and the percussion amid the Ween-sounding lead guitar buzz of “Lounge Decadence.” This could be Lewis and the Strange Magics working purposefully to cast off any and all expectation that might be placed on them, or it could just be a one-off whim, but there’s no question they pull off an impressive turn and carry the concept through in story and substance. When it comes to what they might do next time, the payoff of closer “Afternoon on the Sand” serves as one more demonstration that the band can do whatever the hell they want with their sound, so I’d expect them to do no less than precisely that.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

 

Room 101, The Burden

room 101 the burden

The debut EP from Lansing, Michigan, four-piece Room 101, called simply The Burden, would seem to take a scorched-earth approach to atmospheric sludge, setting their balance to exploring ambient textures and samples in pieces like “You Will Never Know Security” — which, sure enough, samples 1984 to recount the origin of the band’s name — and the brief “A Place to Bury Strangers,” while the churning “As the Crow Flies” and “Missing Rope” present an outright extremity that comes through in post-Godflesh vocal barks and a Through Silver in Blood-style intensity of churn and general approach. Yet I wouldn’t necessarily call Room 101 post-metal — at least not here. The solo on “Missing Rope” seems to draw from more traditional sources, and the manner in which the chugging in “Plague Dogs” caps with a sudden quick series of hits recalls grindcore’s pivoting brutality. One might hope all of these elements get fleshed out more over subsequent releases, but as a first outing, part of The Burden‘s promise is also drawn from the sheer rawness of its impact and the lack of compromise in its wrench of gut.

Room 101 on Thee Facebooks

Room 101 on Bandcamp

 

Abatross Overdrive, Ascendant

albatross overdrive ascendant

Albatross Overdrive‘s 2016 LP, Keep it Running (review here), ran 31 minutes. Their follow-up, Ascendant, reaches to 33, but loses two tracks in the doing. Clearly, one way or the other, this is a conscious ethic on the band’s part, and it tells you something about their approach to heavy rock as well. There’s nothing too fancy about it — even in “Come Get Some,” which is the longest song the band have ever written at 6:40 — and they are not an outfit to waste their time. Structures run from verse to chorus to verse to chorus led through by guitarists Andrew Luddy and Derek Phillips and Art Campos‘ gritty delivery with an expectedly solid underpinning from bassist Mark Abshire (ex-Fu Manchu) and drummer Rodney Peralta and songs like the careening title-track and the blues-licked shover “Undecided” are enough to give the impression that anything else would be superfluous. They’re not lacking style — because ’70s-meets-’90s-straight-ahead-heavy is, indeed, a style — but it’s the level of their craft that stands them out.

Albatross Overdrive on Thee Facebooks

Albatross Overdrive on Bandcamp

 

Cloud Cruiser, I: Capacity

Cloud Cruiser I Capacity

Kyuss-style riffing takes a beating at the hands of Chicago newcomers Cloud Cruiser — who are not to be confused with Denver’s Cloud Catcher — who make their debut on vinyl through Shuga Records with I: Capacity, giving an aggressive push to what’s commonly considered a more laid back sound. In tone and rhythm and general gruffness, they are a deceptively pointed outfit, with turns of broader groove like that at the outset of “575” that speak to more influences than simply those of the Cali desert. They start off catchy and familiar-if-reshaped, though, on “Transmission” and “Glow,” letting their tale of alien abduction unfold across the lyrics while setting up the shifts that “Gone” and “575” and the thick-boogie of “Orbitalclast” will make before the EP’s would-be-clean-but-for-all-that-dirt-it’s-kicked-up 23-minute run is through. The balance they present speaks to a background in metal, though if they’re fresh arrivals in this realm of heavy, you’d never know it from the lumbering finish they present. Sometimes you just gotta get mean to get your point across. It suits

Cloud Cruiser on Thee Facebooks

Shuga Records website

 

The Spiral Electric, The Spiral Electric

the spiral electric the spiral electric

It is a progressive interpretation of fuzz ‘n’ buzz that San Francisco four-piece The Spiral Electric realize on their self-titled, self-released debut long-player, with recording and mixing by Dead Meadow‘s Steve Kille, the band — vocalist/synthesist/noisemaker/guitarist/percussionist/co-producer Clay Andrews, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Nicolas Percey, bassist Michael Summers and drummer Matias Drago — bridge the generally disparate realms of heavy psych and riffer heavy rock, giving a dreamy sensibility to “Marbles” with no less an organic vibe than they brought to the howling, attitudinal push of “No Bridge Left Unburned” earlier. They skillfully mess with the scale across the lengthy 14-track span, and thereby hold their audience for the duration in longer pieces like “The True Nature of Sacrifice” (8:24) as easily as they do in a series of three episodic interludes of noise, field recordings, synth, etc. This is a band ready, willing and able to space. the hell. out., and after listening to the record, you’d be a fool if you wanted to try. Not that they don’t have aspects to shore up or shifts that could be tightened and so on, but from ambition to fruition, it’s the kind of first record bands should aspire to make.

The Spiral Electric on Thee Facebooks

The Spiral Electric on Bandcamp

 

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Nightstalker Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds; New Album Great Hallucinations Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

nighstalker

Nightstalker have been and shall remain. Now some 30 years removed from their start, the Greek heavy rockers have signed on with Heavy Psych Sounds for the Oct. 4 release of their new album, Great Hallucinations. Preorders went up yesterday through the label’s website, and while there’s no audio yet from the record and I haven’t heard any of it, the band are nothing if not reliable in terms of delivering classic-minded heavy, riff-led heavy rock and roll with a mind toward the ’70s and the ’90s and of course a good amount of foundation in their own significant catalog. Great Hallucinations will follow 2016’s As Above So Below (review here) in that regard, keeping to a consistency that has been their calling card for well over the last decade.

They know what they’re doing and they do it, and as Heavy Psych Sounds has picked up numerous outfits pivotal to what’s become the heavy underground — Fatso JetsonYawning ManNebula, etc. — Nightstalker make a fitting addition to the roster in representing what’s still erroneously considered off Europe’s beaten path in terms of the rock scene.

Details from the PR wire:

nightstalker great hallucinations

NIGHTSTALKER sign to Heavy Psych Sounds Records for the new album!!!

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS is proud to welcome a new member to their eclectic artist roster and family: Greek stoner rockers NIGHTSTALKER have signed a worldwide deal with the Italian cult label that will release the band’s NEW RECORD !!!

As a pioneering act in the Greek stoner rock scene with their debut EP ‘SideFX’, released back in 1994, NIGHTSTALKER have just inked a worldwide deal with Heavy Psych Sounds Records for the release of their eighth studio album ‘Great Hallucinations’ on October 4th.

This album will directly hit your soul. Eight blistering tracks showcase NIGHTSTALKER’s colorful sound imprint, combining punchy bass lines, heavy and spacey riffs, all together with Argy’s powerful and melodic vocal. Raw rock ‘n roll, stunning licks and electric haze are the fundamental elements that have kept the band going for more than 20 years. Produced by NIGHTSTALKER, recorded and mixed at Wreck it Sound Studios, today the band is presenting us the upcoming album artwork, tracklist as well as all pre-order details!

‘Great Hallucinations’ will be released on October 4th and available in the following formats:
– 40 ultra LTD test press
– 250 Clear Purple Background splatter in Black/Red/Blue vinyl
– 650 Clear Water Green vinyl
– Black vinyl
– CD and digital

NIGHTSTALKER ‘Great Hallucinations’
Out October 4th on Heavy Psych Sounds
PREORDER NOW

TRACK LISTING:
1. Black Cloud
2. Sweet Knife
3. Sad Side Of The City
4. Seven out of Ten
5. Cursed
6. Half Crazy
7. Hole In The Mirror
8. Great Hallucinations

NIGHTSTALKER is:
Argy – Vocals
Andreas Lagios – Bass
Tolis Motsios – Guitars
Dinos Roulos – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/nightstalkerband/
https://nightstalker.bandcamp.com/
http://www.nightstalkerband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/

Nightstalker, As Above, so Below (2016)

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1000mods, Naxatras, Nightstalker and More Feature in Greek Rock Revolution Documentary

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

Well this looks fucking awesome. No question that the rise of the Greek heavy rock scene over the course of the last decade has been a boon to the European underground. Greece can now stand toe to toe with Germany, Sweden or any of the other continental hotbeds of heavy, and along with Italy, has become essential the character worldwide of heavy rock and roll. The feature-length documentary Greek Rock Revolution puts this emergence in the context of the country’s social condition, the effect that austerity and rampant unemployment has had on the art being made, as well as the prejudice of those outside not caring about the scene or the important work being done there by bands covered in the trailer at the bottom of this post like 1000mods, Tuber, Naxatras, Puta Volcano, Villagers of Ioannina City, Planet of Zeus and the elder statesmen in Nightstalker. There seems to be plenty of concert and interview footage, and yeah, it looks fucking awesome. I’d spend 95 minutes watching this thing, happily. I hope I get to review it.

As a side note while we’re on the topic of Greek heavy, I’ve got a track premiere for BUS going up tomorrow from their new album that marks their debut on RidingEasy Records, so that release will be another fascinating instance of a Greek band reaching a wider international audience.

Greek Rock Revolution is directed by Miguel Cano. Here’s the press release that came with the trailer:

greek rock revolution banner

The official trailer for the upcoming Greek Rock Revolution movie is now live! The documentary film will have a length of 95 minutes, featuring 1000mods, Tuber, Naxatras, Puta Volcano, Villagers of Ioannina City, Planet of Zeus & Nightstalker
In the recent years these bands have gained a massive support in Greece and global recognition elsewhere, with circles in Europe and North America starting to speak very seriously about the Greek Rock Scene.

Last September, Spanish Film Director Miguel Cano interviewed all bands and filmed their live concerts and rehearsals in Thessaloniki, Chania, Serres, Athens, Patras, Chiliomodi and Ioannina. The Filmmaker sees in Greece resemblances with historical cultural momentum in Mississippi back when the blues was born or in Seattle when the grunge flourished: a long-lasting unstable social situation boosting artistic expression through a common feeling of non-conformity.

As the Director of Metal Hammer Greece, Kostas Chronopoulos states in the film, “it’s not easy to fight all for your own, you need to feel part of something which is there for you. And rock ‘n roll is here for us.”

Greek Rock Revolution is now on its last phases of post-production and it is expected to be released in March of this year. The goal is set first on screening the film in International Film Festivals, and then bring it to the wide audience in TV, cinemas and online platforms.

https://www.facebook.com/GreekRockRevolutionMovie/
http://mrchallengefilms.com/documentaries/Greek-Rock-Revolution

Greek Rock Revolution trailer

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Nightstalker European Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

nightstalker

It was half a decade between releases before Greek heavy rockers Nightstalker unveiled their seventh album, As Above, So Below (review here), late last year. They’re wasting precious little time in getting out to support it. This Spring, the Athens-based outfit will head out for slots at Riffolution, Hell Over Esslingen and Soundart festivals over the course of March, April and May, and around those appearances, they’ll spend a good amount of their days touring. I don’t know when the last time the veteran four-piece hit the road was, but they’re covering a good amount of ground across Europe this time, and it seems likely more dates will follow for later in 2017.

Shows are presented by Total Volume Agency, who sent the following along the PR wire:

nightstalker euro tour

Nightstalker – European Tour 2017

It’s the original superfreaks Nightstalker – louder than ever!

There’s not much to say about Nightstalker. The three decades on heavy rock duty, the countless hours on stage, as well as the worldwide praise and respect speak for themselves. With last-year’s nifty “As Above, So Below” in their luggage, the legendary Greek four-piece will bring its smoked up ter-RIFF-ic grooves to no less that 12 countries across Europe, in a massive tour organised by Total Volume.

Check the dates, find a town near you, grab a beer and come say high!

Dates:
25/3 – Manchester (UK) @ Riffolution Festival
01/4 – Sofia (BG) @ Live N Loud
02/4 – Bucharest (RO) @ Quantic
05/4 – Cluj (RO) @ The Shelter
06/4 – Timisoara (RO) @ Daos Club
07/4 – Novi Sad (RS) @ The Quarter
08/4 – Graz (AT) @ Club Wakuum
10/4 – Vienna (AT) @ Das Bach
12/4 – Regensburg (DE) @ Alte Mazerei
13/4 – Berlin (DE) @ Wild At Heart
15/4 – Copenhagen (DK) @ Beta2300
19/4 – Cologne (DE) @ Limes
20/4 – Arnhem (NL) @ Willemeen
21/4 – Oldenburg (DE) @ Cadillac
22/4 – Munster (DE) @ Rare Guitar
25/4 – Paris (FR) @ Le Batofar
26/4 – Lucerne (CH) @ Bruch Brothers
28/4 – Linz (AT) @ Ann And Pat
29/4 – Frankfurt (DE) @ Yachtklub
30/4 – Esslingen (DE) @ Hell Over Esslingen Festival
01/5 – Erba (IT) @ Centrale Rock
03/5 – Zagreb (HR) @ Vintage Industrial Bar
06/5 – Bucharest (RO) @ Soundart Festival

Nightstalker is:
Argy (Vocals)
Andreas Lagios (Bass)
Tolis Motsios (Guitars)
Dinos Roulos (Drums)

https://www.facebook.com/nightstalkerband/
https://nightstalker.bandcamp.com/
http://www.nightstalkerband.com/
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?k=1072&lang=eng
https://www.facebook.com/oakislandrecords/
https://www.facebook.com/totalvolumebackline/

Nightstalker, As Above, so Below (2016)

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Nightstalker Premiere “Space Matter” from As Above so Below

Posted in audiObelisk on September 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

nightstalker

Long-running Greek heavy rockers Nightstalker will release their seventh album, As Above so Below, next month on Oak Island Records. Now at the 25-year mark since their 1991 demo and with origins that reach further back than that, the Athens-based outfit led by vocalist Argy and bassist Andreas Lagios also return to European shores in terms of their label; their last offering was 2012’s Dead Rock Commandos (streamed here) on Small Stone, and before that was 2009’s Superfreak (review here) on Meteorcity. As Above so Below finds the four-piece digging into unpretentious heavy rock vibes, their nine tracks/42 minutes straightforward to a point one would almost be tempted to call unassuming were it not for the quality of their craft and hooks, which is apparent from opener “Naked Fire” onward in the focus on catchy choruses, grade-A riffing and placing Argy‘s vocals forward in the mix ahead of Tolis Motsios‘ guitar, Lagios‘ bass and Dinos Roulos‘ drums.

Establishing an early shuffle in the leadoff, As Above so Below builds outward as it continues on from those organ-inclusive classic heavy rock vibes in a variety of moods across songs like second cut “Space Matter,” which seems to be in direct conversation with the underlying rumble of early Kyuss but ultimately becomes something more psychedelically daring in the guitar, and “Zombie Hour,” with a darker atmosphere, some howling from Argy in the chorus and harder-hitting finish. By then the course is set. Nightstalker make no attempts to hide where their heart lies stylistically or to coat their impulses in irony — this is heavy rock for heavy rockers, and the rest be damned.

“The Dog that No-One Wanted” is a standout for its background vocals and repetitions of the hook, “My girl’s so/My girl’s so beautiful/My girl’s so beautiful to me,” which in the nightstalker-as-above-so-belowcontext of the song makes me think it’s actually about the titular dog, so points there for charm, and while centerpiece “Deeper” is shorter, it also ranges a little further melodically, earning its place. Because Nightstalker are so solidified in their processes, because their songwriting is so apparent, their work can be deceptive and come across as flat on the first listen, but it’s not. It’s just professional. “Deeper” is a good example, with its interweaving lead and rhythm guitar layers, Argy‘s vocals in a call and response echo, and a push toward the finish that surprises with the amount of energy behind it.

One almost turns around and says, “Hey wait a minute, this kicks ass.” That’s been my experience all along with Nightstalker, and it holds firm on As Above so Below, but it’s really just a result of the band knowing what they want to do and then executing that flawlessly. To wit, “Forever Stoned” is pulled off with such a smooth groove and its hook is so well delivered that one might almost miss the nuance in Lagios‘ bass performance, or the little flourish of effects that are added to the vocals. Things like this add appeal to multiple listens, and as the subsequent “We Belong to the Dead” starts off its more brooding first half with just Argy and the Motsios, the full rush kicking in around the halfway mark, the momentum that Nightstalker have built for themselves is all the more palpable as they head into the rolling riff that ends out and leads to closing duo “My Electric Head” and “Blue Turns to Black,” both the only tracks on As Above so Below over six minutes.

But for the fact that Nightstalker have such a clear penchant for structure, I wouldn’t necessarily make much of pairing the two longest cuts on the album at the end, but it seems plain that they’re going for immersion at the finish line with “My Electric Head” and “Blue Turns to Black,” the former working its way into one of the record’s most vital stomps and the latter bookending the organ arrangement of the opener with one of its own for an overall grander feel. For what it’s worth, immersion is what they get. It’s not hypnotic jammy psychedelia by any means, but what Nightstalker bring to their material at the finale of this seventh offering resonates as an expansion of the earlier forms of “Zombie Hour” or “Deeper,” in addition of course to “Naked Fire.” By the time the organ rings out to cap “Blue Turns to Black,” they’ve come a deceptively long way from that boogie-down opener, but more than a quarter-century on from getting together, Nightstalker know exactly just what the hell they’re doing, exactly just how the hell to do it and exactly why. As Above so Below is a direct affirmation of that and its arrival is welcome.

Below, you can stream a track premiere of “Space Matter” from the album and see some brief comment from Argy on what the song is about. Nightstalker will tour Europe in Spring 2017.

Please enjoy:

Nightstalker, “Space Matter”

Argy on “Space Matter”:

“I always thought that everything is made from the same materials. We are stardust and water. We are all living on a closed spherical blue planet, spinning around in deep space!

This album is all about the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the good things and bad things that we experience in our life.”

Nightstalker is:
Argy (Vocals)
Andreas Lagios (Bass)
Tolis Motsios (Guitars)
Dinos Roulos (Drums)

Nightstalker on Thee Facebooks

Nightstalker on Bandcamp

Nightstalker website

Oak Island Records at Kozmik Artifactz

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Nightstalker Get Abducted in New Video for “Dead Rock Commandos”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 20th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

The only thing I don’t get about the new video for the title-track of Dead Rock Commandos — the 2012 Small Stone debut from long-running Greek rockers Nightstalker — is the kidnapping. Okay, so Nightstalker are getting chased through the woods by mysterious gasmasked paramilitary forces. I got that. But then they get kidnapped, the hoods over their heads and the whole bit, and marched single-file to an also-mysterious white room with instruments… and they start rocking out.

So the part I don’t get is, weren’t Nightstalker going to rock out anyway? Why would these commandos need to bring them into this room? And what is the room? Could it be that the volume from their heavy riffing output is being harvested to power some kind of sinister death ray? Or worse, that Nightstalker are being set up as some kind of exhibit in a terrible post-apocalyptic rock and roll zoo? Truly, there are many questions still to be answered.

What’s way clearer in watching “Dead Rock Commandos” is that Nightstalker have the stoner thing on lockdown. The video premiered today, and Nightstalker will bring the rock directly to the people starting May 31 with Ape Machine supporting. Dates follow the clip below:

Nightstalker, “Dead Rock Commandos” official video

Including an appearance at the 2013 Freak Valley Festival, Nightstalker will be heading out on a European tour in support of 2012’s Dead Rock Commandos. The ultra-catchy riff-fest was released by Small Stone last year and found the long-running Athens outfit right at home in classic heavy fuzz ‘n’ roll.

Nightstalker tour dates:
May 31 Munster, DE Rare Guitar
Jun 1 Netphen, DE Freak Valley Festival
Jun 2 Antwerpen, BE Antwerpen Music City
Jun 4 Paris, FR Les Combustibles
Jun 5 Leuven, BE Rockbar
Jun 6 Wild Rover Aachen, DE
Jun 7 Hasselt, BE Carpe Diem
Jun 8 Wurzburg, DE Immerhin
Jun 9 Salzburg, AT Rockhouse
Jun 11 St. Gallen, CH Rumpeltum
Jun 12 Feldkirch, AT Graf Hugo
Jun 13 Erfurt, DE Stadtgarten
Jun 14 Berlin, DE White Trash

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audiObelisk: Stream Nightstalker’s Dead Rock Commandos in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk on July 11th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

A rock and roll powerhouse for more than two decades, Greek heavy heads Nightstalker got their start founded by frontman Argy in 1989. They were a far cry then from they band that 2012 finds them, but they held onto “best kept secret” status and managed to survive the grunge movement, the semi-commercialization of stoner rock, and, to date, the Euro. In 2009, they released their MeteorCity debut, Superfreak (review here), and to follow-up, they present their brand new, self-produced effort, Dead Rock Commandos, on Small Stone.

Seems kind of ignorant to say a band that had already been around for 20 years at the time were making a debut of sorts with Superfreak, but as it was their first album to really get a North American push, it’s not much of a surprise to find Dead Rock Commandos released through another US label. All the elements that make heavy rock what it is are there: Fuzz distortion, catchy hooks, classic rhythms and an ultra-straightforward, keep-it-simple approach render Nightstalker not nearly as foreboding as their name might imply, and Dead Rock Commandos proves they’re very much alive after all this time. The songs are varied, engaging, familiar but still unpredictable. Sometimes there’s just no arguing with rock done well, so I won’t waste my time to try.

I’ve included the band’s bio to help give some sense of their history. Dead Rock Commandos is streaming in its entirety on the player blow. Please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Formed in Greece, in late 1989, by singer (and at the time drummer) Argy and made truly stable with the addition of Rotting Christ bassist Andreas in 1992, Nightstalker managed to meld their heavy rock influences with funky rhythms and grungy melodies to create a whole new beast.

With all these elements in place they released the first EP in 1994, titled SideFx. With the release of their first full-length album, USE, in 1996, the band established themselves and their own trademark brand of dark heavy sounds. 2000 saw a slight shuffle in membership as well as a new EP, The Ritual, which found Nightstalker treading further in to the realms of deepest, darkest psychedelia. Lineup fully entrenched, the ensuing pair of albums, 2004’s Just A Burn and 2009’s Superfreak garnered the band a new and loyal following across the world.

Which sets the stage for their newest dark masterpiece, Dead Rock Commandos. Another album’s worth of raw rock ‘n’ roll simplicity, filled with stunning riffs and electric haze. More heavy sounds, groovy rhythms and intense bass playing all merging with the power of Argy’s vocals, which is the secret to the music of Nightstalker that has kept the band going for more than 20 years and made them one of the most important bands in the history of the European Hard Rock scene.

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Where to Start: The Obelisk’s Guide to Small Stone Records

Posted in Where to Start on May 3rd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Founded in 1995 by Scott Hamilton, Detroit imprint Small Stone Records is the single most influential American heavy rock label of the post-Man’s Ruin era. What started as Hamilton releasing local Detroit acts of varied genres like Morsel, 36D and Perplexa soon took on a dedication to the heavy aesthetic that remains unmatched in both its scope and its reach of influence. Looking back, Five Horse Johnson‘s 1997 Double Down debut, seems to have been the beginning of Small Stone‘s turn down the fuzzly path. It’s like Hamilton followed the riff right down the rabbit hole and never looked back.

Now, 17 years on, Small Stone has a reach that goes beyond even the distribution of the albums it puts out. Thanks to the diligent work of Hamilton and oft-encountered names like Mad Oak Studios engineer/mixer Benny Grotto, mastering engineer Chris Gooseman, graphic artist Alexander von Wieding, among others, the label has earned a reputation for quality output that new releases are constantly reaffirming. Over the years, Man’s Ruin refugees like Sons of Otis, (The Men Of) Porn, Acid King and VALIS have come into the fold, but the crux of Small Stone‘s catalog is made up of acts like Roadsaw, Dixie Witch, Halfway to Gone, Throttlerod, Puny Human and Novadriver, who no matter what else they put out or who they put it out with, will always be considered “Small Stone bands.”

That designation and those groups specifically have helped establish a core American-style heavy rocking sound that the label seems to delight in toying with even as it continues to promulgate. Next generation bands like Gozu, Lo-Pan, Freedom Hawk, Backwoods Payback and even newer newcomers Wo Fat, Supermachine, Lord Fowl and Mellow Bravo — who don’t yet have albums out on the label — are expanding its breadth, and recent international signees Asteroid, Abrahma, Mangoo, Nightstalker and Mother of God should help ensure that Small Stone keeps pushing both itself and genre boundaries well into the next several years.

One of the hazards, however, of an ever-growing catalog, is that it can be hard to figure out where to start taking it on, and to that end, I’m happy to provide you with 10 essential Small Stone picks. Note I didn’t say “the 10 essential Small Stone picks,” because the reality of the situation is this is just the tip of the fuzzberg. If it’s any indication, I started out with five and couldn’t leave the rest out.

Here they are, ordered by the date of release:

 
1. Novadriver, Void (ss-022/2001)

Still an album that’s more or less impossible to pin to just one genre, the stoner/space/weirdo jams of Novadriver‘s 2001 outing, Void, reside somewhere between Monster Magnet‘s early Hawkwind worship and the unbridled intensity of groove that came out of Detroit’s early- and mid-’70s heavy rock and proto-metal. The fact that Novadriver also came from the Motor City speaks to the label’s local roots, but if Void was coming out even today, it’d be coming out on Small Stone.

2. Los Natas, Corsario Negro (ss-028/2002)

Personally, I think 2005’s El Hombre Montaña is a better album and 2009’s Nuevo Orden de la Libertad is an even better album than that, but Corsario Negro earns the edge as a starting point because it was the beginning of the Argentinian rockers’ relationship with Small Stone (they too were left without a home in the wake of Man’s Ruin folding). Plus, if you haven’t heard them before and you get this, you can still marvel at the subsequent offerings. Either way, totally necessary.

3. Various Artists, Sucking the ’70s (ss-032/2002)

In a lot of ways, this is what it’s all about. Badass bands playing badass songs. By this point, The Glasspack, Los Natas, Fireball Ministry, Halfway to Gone and Five Horse Johnson (who lead off the first disc) had already put out at least one album through Small Stone, but Sucking the ’70s made the most of the label’s burgeoning reputation, bringing in Clutch, Alabama Thunderpussy and Lowrider, along with bands who’d later add records to the catalog like Roadsaw, Suplecs and Lord Sterling, all covering hits and obscurities from the heavy ’70s. A gorgeous collection that would get a sequel in 2006. Still waiting on part three.

4. Dixie Witch, One Bird, Two Stones (ss-037/2003)

The Austin, Texas, trio would go on to become one of the most pivotal acts on the Small Stone roster, and they’d do so on the strength of their Southern riffs and the soul in their songwriting. Led by drummer/vocalist Trinidad Leal, Dixie Witch hooked up with Small Stone on the heels of their 2001 debut, Into the Sun, which was released by Brainticket, and quickly gained a reputation for some of the finest classic road songs that Grand Funk never wrote (see “The Wheel”). Their 2011 offering, Let it Roll, affirmed their statesmen status among their labelmates.

5. Sasquatch, Sasquatch (ss-044/2004)

I was pretty well convinced that when the L.A.-based Sasquatch released their self-titled debut in 2004, rock and roll was saved. Whoever it needed saving from, whatever needed to take place to make that happen, this record did it. Truth is, rock and roll didn’t really need to be saved — it needed a stiff drink, as we all do from time to time — but Sasquatch would’ve been right there even if it had. They’re a Small Stone original with all three of their records to date out through the label, and still one of the strongest acts in the American rock underground, even though they’d never be quite this fuzzy again.

6. Dozer, Through the Eyes of Heathens (ss-061/2005)

Even now, seven years later, I can’t look at this album cover without hearing the chorus to “The Roof, the River, the Revolver.” Between that and songs like “Man of Fire,” “Born a Legend” and “From Fire Fell,” Swedish rockers Dozer made their definitive statement in their label debut (fourth album overall). Another former Man’s Ruin band, they’d already begun to grow past their desert rock roots by the time they hooked up with Hamilton, and Through the Eyes of Heathens played out like what heavy metal should’ve turned into after the commercial atrocities of the late-’90s. A gorgeous record and still a joy to hear.

7. Greenleaf, Agents of Ahriman (ss-074/2007)

It’s like they built nearly every song on here out of undeniable choruses. Even the verses are catchy. I’ve championed Agents of Ahriman since before I started this site, and I feel no less vehement in doing so now than I did then. A side-project of Dozer guitarist Tommi Holappa that on this, their third album, included and featured members of Truckfighters, Lowrider, The Awesome Machine and others, Greenleaf became a distillation of many of the elements that make Swedish heavy rock unique in the world. It wasn’t aping classic rock, it was giving it a rebirth, and every Hammond note was an absolute triumph.

8. Iota, Tales (ss-084/2008)

Once, I had a t-shirt with the cover of Iota‘s Tales on the front. I wore it until it got holes, and then I bought another. That’s the kind of album Tales was. A trio crawled from out of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, Iota took Kyuss, launched them into space, and jammed out for five, 10 or 20 minutes to celebrate the success of the mission. Recently, guitarist/vocalist Joey Toscano has resurfaced in the bluesier, more earthbound Dwellers, which teams him with the rhythm section of SubRosa. Their debut, Good Morning Harakiri, was a highlight of early 2012, building on what Iota was able to accomplish here while pushing in a different direction.

9. Solace, A.D. (ss-093/2010)

It took the better part of a decade for the Jersey-bred metallers to finish what became their Small Stone debut after two full-lengths for MeteorCity, but when it finally dropped, there was no denying A.D.‘s power. My album of the year in 2010, the band delivered front to back on seven years’ worth of promise, and though it was recorded in more studios than I can count over a longer stretch than I think even Solace knows, it became a cohesive, challenging album, giving listeners a kick in the ass even as it handed them their next beer. I still get chills every time I put on “From Below,” and I put it on with near-embarrassing regularity.

10. Lo-Pan, Salvador (ss-116/2011)

If you know this site, this one’s probably a no-brainer pick, but the Columbus, Ohio-based riff merchants took on unabashed stoner rock fuzz for their Small Stone debut (third album overall) and made some of 2011’s most memorable songs in the process. Subversively varied in mood and heavy as hell no matter what they were doing, every part of Lo-Pan‘s Salvador worked. There was no lag. Small Stone also reissued the band’s 2009 outing, Sasquanaut, in 2011, but Salvador surpassed it entirely, bringing the band to new heights of professionalism they’d confirm by touring, well, perpetually. They’re still touring for it. You should go see them and behold the future of fuzz.

That’s the list as much as I could limit it. If you want to immediately add five more, throw in Roadsaw‘s self-titled (they’re writing the best songs of their career right now, I don’t care how attached to the early records you are), Puny Human‘s Universal Freak Out, Halfway to Gone‘s High Five, Milligram‘s This is Class War and Five Horse Johnson‘s Fat Black Pussycat. If you want to semi-immediately add five more than that, get the reissue of Acid King‘s Busse Woods, Mos Generator‘s Songs for Future Gods, The Brought Low‘s Third Record, Tummler‘s Early Man and Erik Larson‘s The Resounding. There. We just doubled the length of the list.

And the real trouble? I could go on. We didn’t even touch on curios like Axehandle, Lord Sterling and Brain Police, or The Might Could‘s Southern aggression, Hackman‘s instrumentalism or the druggy post-grunge of VALIS. Suffice it to say that Small Stone is one of very few labels out there from whom any output will at least be worth a cursory investigation. As the label continues to grow and develop in 2012 and beyond with new bands and new releases from its staple acts, taking on new avenues of commerce — like releasing vinyl for the first time, which it did in 2011 — whatever changes might crop up, Small Stone seems ready to meet the future, distortion pedal first. Can’t ask more of rock than that.

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