Quarterly Review: Rotor, Electric Octopus, Randall Dunn, Graven, Near Dusk, Svuco, Stonus, Acolytes of Moros, Lime Eyelid, Tombtoker

Posted in Reviews on December 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I’ve been doing this for a while, the whole Quarterly Review thing. Not just talking about the last two weeks — though that also feels like a while to be doing it — but over the last few years. And in so doing I have a couple running gags kind of with myself. One obvious one is the “(immediate points)” for bands who put their longest song first on their album. There is no point system. There will be no tally at the end. I don’t grade records. It’s just a way of noting a decision I almost always find to be particularly bold.

Another is the use of “penultimate.” I don’t even know how this happened, but I use that word all the time in these reviews, way, way more than I might in day-to-day life. Somehow I’m always talking about the second-to-last song. Keep an eye out today, I’m sure it’ll be in there.

Indeed, I bring it up because today is the penultimate day of this extended Quarterly Review. We’ll finish out with the last 10 records tomorrow, and no doubt by the end of it I’ll be doling out more “(immediate points)” and talking about the “apex of the penultimate cut” or whatever else it is I do. Hard not to repeat yourself when you’re writing about 100 records. Or, you know, one.

Quarterly Review #81-90:

Rotor, Sechs

rotor sechs

Long-running Berlin instrumentalists Rotor issue Sechs, their aptly-titled sixth album, as their second for Noisolution after 2015’s Fünf (review here), and in so doing blend the best impulses from where they started with where they’ve ended up. Fünf, not without its moments of heavy psych drift, was a deeply progressive album, and Sechs is likewise, but it also brings in a more natural, warmer production sound like some of their earlier material, so that songs like “Vor der Hern” or “Allmacht” come across as nuanced but welcoming all the same. “Allmacht” is a highlight for its classic prog elements, but that’s not to discount the centerpiece “Abfahrt!,” with its raucous second half or the nine-minute penultimate cut “Druckverband,” which finds Rotor pushing themselves to new heights some 20 years on from their beginnings. Or anything else, for that matter, because it’s all brilliant. And that, basically, is how you know you’re listening to Rotor.

Rotor on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution website

 

Electric Octopus, Line Standing

electric octopus line standing

Next-level naturalism from Belfast trio Electric Octopus means that not only does the digital-only-otherwise-it’d-be-a-box-set Line Standing top four and a half hours, but those four and a half hours bring the listener into the studio with the band — guitarist Tyrell Black, bassist/keyboardist Dale Hughes and drummer Guy Hetherington — as they talk between jams, goof around and discuss what they just played in quick interludes. Complementing cuts like 35-minute opener “Iliudi,” the 38-minute “Line Standing 23336,” the 24-minute “Room Move” and the three-minute funk-reggae vibe of “Inspired by a Chicken,” the chatter gives Line Standing an even more organic vibe not by trying to capture a live feel, like what they’d do on stage — they have plenty of live albums for that — but by bringing the listener into the studio while they pick up their instruments and improvise their way through whatever it is that’s coming next, which is something that everyone seems to find out together. It’s not always smooth, but neither should it be. This is pure sonic exploration — and not a little of it.

Electric Octopus on Thee Facebooks

Electric Octopus on Bandcamp

 

Randall Dunn, Beloved

randall dunn beloved

Randall Dunn, through his production work, collaborations with Sunn O))), founding Master Musicians of Bukkake, etc., is no stranger to experimentalism, and his first solo album, Beloved (on Figureight), finds him evoking cinematic landscapes one at a time in ambient tracks that range from minimalist to consuming by sheer will. His range as a composer means that “Mexico City” shimmers with a near-overwhelming post-Vangelis splendor while “Lava Rock and Amber” is barren enough to make each strike of the piano keys feel like a lifeline before the synth horror takes hold near the end. Dunn brings in several guest vocalists for spots on “Something About that Night” and closer “A True Home,” but there’s hardly a lack of human presence throughout the material anyway, as the nine-minute centerpiece “Theoria : Aleph” resonates with the creative drive that made it. Not by any means a record that’s going to be for everyone, Beloved casts a sound that’s impeccably broad.

Randall Dunn on Thee Facebooks

Figureight on Bandcamp

 

Graven, Heirs of Discord

Graven Heirs of Discord

Heirs of Discord, indeed. With guitarist/vocalist Peter Maturi and drummer Chris Csar from the much-missed Swarm of the Lotus and bassist Teddy Patterson of Burnt by the Sun and Human Remains in the up-and-down-the-Eastern-Seaboard lineup with vocalist Jason Borowy, there’s no shortage of discord to go around. Deathly extremity and a pervasive grinding sensibility is conveyed with tones that absolutely crush and a groove that, while not shy with the blastbeats on “I Dreamt You Were Dead” — or the bonus track Human Remains cover “Human,” for that matter — is no less comfortable locked in the nod of the nine-minute “Thieves of Rotted Ilk.” It reportedly took Graven over a year to make the six-song/28-minute LP at various studios (including one two towns over from where I grew up in my beloved Garden State), and one only hopes the no-doubt daunting nature of that task doesn’t dissuade Graven from a follow-up, because whether it’s the angular starts and stops of “Backwards to Oblivion” or the initial assault of “A Failed Mask,” they bring a stylistic nuance to extreme metal that goes beyond the often dry showcase of technical prowess the style can sometimes be. However long it might take to put together, a sophomore outing feels well justified.

Graven on Thee Facebooks

Graven on Bandcamp

 

Near Dusk, Near Dusk

Near Dusk Near Dusk

The cleverly-titled “Humboldt Pie” finds them dipping into bluesier fare with some psychedelic effect on guitarist Matthew Orloff‘s vocals, and “We are the Buffalo” has a distinct spaciousness, but the core of Denver trio Near Dusk‘s self-released, self-titled debut is in straightforward heavy rock, and Orloff, bassist Kellen McInerney and drummer Jon Orloff sound well schooled in the ways of following the riff. “That Bastard” chugs out behind a vocal echo and the six-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “No More” introduces the steady factor that is McInerney‘s bass behind some initial guitar noodling that leads to the first of many rolling grooves to come on the seven-track/34-minute outing. The bass again gets to shine in the subsequent “Sweet Home,” setting up the final push for a moment before being joined by the drums and guitar, and the low-end tone is right on, though by the time they close out with “Furnace Creek,” all three of them seem to tease some jammier sensibilities. Near Dusk allow themselves room to develop their approach and perspective, but establish a strong root of songwriting to serve as their foundation as they move forward.

Near Dusk on Thee Facebooks

Near Dusk on Bandcamp

 

Svuco, El Gran Mito de SanSaru

svuco El Gran Mito de SanSaru

At least some of the material on Svuco‘s debut long-player, El Gran Mito de SanSaru, dates back a few years. The release includes what was the title-track of their 2015 Mizaru EP as well as the title-track of 2016’s Kikazaru, as well as a number of tracks that also featured on the Iwazaru EP shortly before the album actually arrived. Still, taken in this form and with these recordings, the Granada-based four-piece unfurl a varied 13-song full-length that’s crisp in its production and smoothly constructed to hit hard but with a sense of tonal presence that speaks to a heavy rock influence. That is, there might be a current of noise rock to the ’90s-style chug of “Llorarás,” but “Fuzzia” still has room for organ and acoustic guitar along with its central riff. Later cuts like “Nobogo,” the layered-vocals of “El Color del Sol,” and the almost-industrial pulsations (conveyed through organic instrumentation) of “El Dios del Nuevo Mundo” branch out, but there’s an underlying identity taking shape all the while.

Svuco on Thee Facebooks

Svuco on Bandcamp

 

Stonus, Lunar Eclipse

Stonus Lunar Eclipse

Welcoming in its tone and bordering on cosmic in its atmosphere, Lunar Eclipse is the second EP from Cyprus-based troupe Stonus, and for the sprawl of its eight-minute title-track alone, it showcases distinct potential on the part of the band. Intro and outro tracks help set up a flow, but as “Aspirin” and “Spiritual Realities” fuzz their way toward “Lunar Eclipse” itself, it’s hardly like Stonus need the help. The tempo of “Aspirin” tells the tale, taking desert rock to three-quarters speed for an extra laid back vibe, still pushed along by the drums, but chill, chill, chill as it goes. “Spiritual Realities” is a little more tripped out in its lumber, and its vocals are more forward in the mix, but once again, “Lunar Eclipse” is nothing but a joy to behold from front to back, and in large part it defines the short release that shares its name. They close out with the minute of experimentalism on “Euphoric Misery” and only make one hope they don’t lost those impulses by the time they get around to a full-length, because they’ll only help them further distinguish themselves.

Stonus on Thee Faceboks

Stonus on Bandcamp

 

Acolytes of Moros, The Wellspring

acolytes of moros the wellspring

Seven years on from playing their first show, Swedish doomers Acolytes of Moros present their first full-length, The Wellspring (CD on Nine Records), and if that might stand as an indication of their pacing overall, it would certainly apply to the album itself. Presented as four extended tracks with an interlude/instrumental near seven minutes dividing the two halves, it’s a rawly-produced take on doom-death traditionalism with an emphasis on the first part of that equation. Calling it “morose” feels too easy given the band’s moniker, but they’re nothing if not self-aware, and the miseries they portray in “Quotidian” and the 14-minute “A Yen to Relinquish and Evanesce” border on the dramatic without ever really tipping too far in that direction, coming through as much in the grueling riffs as in the vocal declarations and willfully repetitive rhythms. It’s a slog and it’s supposed to be, but Acolytes of Moros eschew the sometimes lush presentation of their genre in favor of a barebones take that loses none of its emotional impact for that.

Acolytes of Moros on Thee Facebooks

Nine Records website

 

Lime Eyelid, Week of Wonders

lime eyelid week of wonders

As regards recording narratives, it’s hard to beat the image of Traveling Circle drummer Josh Schultz recording Lime Eyelid‘s debut album, Week of Wonders (as in, The Wonder Weeks?), alone in his kitchen. The resulting limited LP is comprised mostly of numbered instrumental experiments in drone and languid groove, save for “I Saw Waves,” which brings to mind some of Six Organs of Admittance‘s far-out earlier fare, but psychedelia holds a prominent sway and if you ever want a lesson in doing something new with familiar elements, look no further than the watery guitar line of “1” or “3,” with its Earth groove gone processional. The 12-minute soundscape of “4” follows as Schultz moves deeper into the realms of cosmic minimalism — that big, mostly empty, galaxy — but “5” somehow sounds even more piped in from outer space, and closer “6” rounds out with swells of high-pitched volume that seem to be speaking their own language in tone. Pretty vast reaches for a record to hit, having been recorded in the kitchen. One awaits further adventures in the follow-up.

Lime Eyelid on Soundcloud

Lime Eyelid on YouTube

 

Tombtoker, Coffin Texts

tombtoker coffin texts

I don’t know if the band’s moniker refers to one who actually tokes tombs or who tokes in tombs, but neither would surprise me. The Baltimorean five-piece Tombtoker unveil their 20-minute debut EP, Coffin Texts (on Seeing Red, tapes through Metal Swarm), with a melding of doom, sludge and metallic extremity that is righteous in its riffs and malevolent in its purposes. That is to say, they mean harm. “Warfare Revolution” and “Robo Cujo” demonstrate that plainly ahead of the centerpiece “Stenchsquatch” with its oh-you’re-gonna-have-to-play-that-at-all-the-shows lurching midsection of death, while the subsequent “Blood Freak” taps Eyehategoddy swing and closer/shortest track “Globster” (3:21) bludgeons its own riffs before a bit of Slayer-style ping ride late adds even more of that metal-for-metal feel. I’d call it promising, but maybe “foreboding” is a better word. Whether they’re smoking your corpse or just smoking near your corpse, Tombtoker bring a welcome sense of chaos to extreme sludge that hearkens to the genre’s original, unhinged appeal.

Tombtoker on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

Metal Swarm website

 

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Cardinals Folly to Release Deranged Pagan Sons this Fall; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Filth-laden Finnish doomers Cardinals Folly will release their fourth album, Deranged Pagan Sons, this September or thereabouts. With all the grit of Saint Vitus, the brash epic fuckall of Reverend Bizarre and a healthy dose of medieval skullcrushery to boot, the Helsinki three-piece have unveiled the track “Worship Her Fire” for streaming and as you can hear below, they’re more than well-schooled in the tenets of the doom they’re conveying. That said, I think my favorite moment might be when they slink into harsher vocals and give the song an even more malevolent, misanthropic vibe while still keeping their fist in the air, middle finger up at the universe in general.

You can check out the track below, at the bottom of this post — do it. Deranged Pagan Sons is out this fall via Nine Records and Topillo Records, as the PR wire explains:

cardinals-folly-deranged-pagan-sons

Cardinals Folly – Deranged Pagan Sons

CARDINALS FOLLY to unleash 4th album “Deranged Pagan Sons” through Nine and Topillo Records this fall!

Finland´s dark princes of the riff, doom metal cult CARDINALS FOLLY will unleash their 4th album “Deranged Pagan Sons” through Polish Nine Records on CD and via Spanish Topillo on LP around September 2017.

Dabbling in the world of occultism, weird tales, pagan rites and luciferian depravity, the band has recorded an album consisting 8 powerful, even wild anthems of heavy doom and metal mastery, that never let their savage grip go, despite of going on a varied 48-minute fiery ´n´ groovy metal adventure, where the only rule is to doom in, drop out, rock hard & stay true.

Previous album “Holocaust of Ecstasy & Freedom” (Shadow Kingdom Records, 2016) paved the way to this fulfillment of their doomed art, where every song rolls by like a megafauna of a bygone age.The doom metal underground sometimes seems packed with toothless sheep, so it is great to spend some time with wolves. Laughing off the shackles of the latest trends or retro gimmicks, Helsinki trio Cardinals Folly bring an energy and inventiveness to the genre that is authentic and unique. Drink from this chalice and give your body and mind to the old gods.

https://www.facebook.com/cardinalsfolly/
http://cardinalsfolly.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Topillo-Records-1764622050423677/
http://www.topillo.es/
https://ninerecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/NineRecords

Cardinals Folly, “Worship Her Fire”

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Quarterly Review: Unearthly Trance, Heavy Traffic, Saturn, Lucifer’s Fall, Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Scuzzy Yeti, Urn., Nebula Drag, Contra, IAH

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

From harsh doom to urban pastoralism to heavy blues rock to rolling doom nonetheless metallic in its defiance, Day Four of the Quarterly Review spins around a swath of styles and hopefully, hopefully, finds something you dig in the doing. It’s been a long week already. You know it. I know it. But it’s also been really good to dig into this stuff and I know I’ve found a few records that have made their way onto the already-ongoing 2017 lists — best short releases, debuts, albums, etc. — so to say it’s been worth it is, as ever, an understatement. Today likewise has gems to offer, so I won’t delay.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Unearthly Trance, Stalking the Ghost

unearthly-trance-stalking-the-ghost

Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance make a somewhat unexpected reentry with Stalking the Ghost (on Relapse), their sixth album. In the years since 2010’s V (review here), guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky has delved into a wide variety of extreme genres, from the blackened fare of The Howling Wind to the deathly-doom of Serpentine Path, in which Unearthly Trance bassist Jay Newman and drummer Darren Verni also shared tenure, but reuniting as Unearthly Trance feels like a significant step for the three-piece, and on tracks like “Dream State Arsenal” and the darkly post-metallic “Lion Strength,” they remind of what it was that made them such a standout in the first place while demonstrating that their years away have done nothing to dull the surehandedness of their approach. At eight tracks/52 minutes, Stalking the Ghost is a significant dirge to undertake, but Unearthly Trance bring pent-up anguish to bear across this varied swath of punishing tracks, and reassert their dominance over an aesthetic sphere that, even after all this time, is thoroughly their own.

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Heavy Traffic, Plastic Surgery

heavy-traffic-plastic-surgery

Probably a smart move on the part of Heavy Traffic spearhead guitarist Ian Caddick and drummer/vocalist Tav Palumbo to swap coasts from Santa Cruz to Brooklyn ahead of putting together their sixth (!) full-length in three years and Twin Earth Records debut, Plastic Surgery. Cali is awash in heavy psych anyway and Brooklyn’s been at a deficit (as much as it’s at a deficit of anything) since space forerunners Naam became one with the cosmos, so even apart from the acquisition of bassist David Grzedzinki and drummer Dan Bradica, it’s a solid call, and one finds the fruits yielded on Plastic Surgery’s dream-fuzzed blend of heft and roll, heady jams like “See Right Through,” the oh-you-like-feedback-well-here’s-all-the-feedback “Broth Drain” and winding “Medicated Bed” finding a place where shoegaze and psychedelia meet ahead of the low-end-weighted closing title-cut and the bonus track “White and Green,” which finishes with suitable push and swirl to mark a welcome and vibe-soaked arrival for the band. Hope you enjoy the Eastern Seabord. It could use you.

Heavy Traffic on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Saturn, Beyond Spectra

saturn beyond spectra

In the second Saturn album, Beyond Spectra, one can hear one of retro rock’s crucial next movements taking place. The Swedish four-piece, who debuted on Rise Above with 2014’s Ascending and return with a periodically explosive 10-track/45-minute outing here, find a niche for themselves in adding dual-guitar NWOBHM elements to ‘70s-style (also ‘10s-style) boogie, as on the scorching “Still Young” or opener “Orbital Command.” They’re not the only ones doing it – Rise Above alums Horisont come to mind readily – but they’re doing it well, and the last three years have clearly found them refining their approach to arrive at the tightness in the shuffle of “Wolfsson” and the creeping Priestism of “Helmet Man” later on. I’ll give bonus points for their embracing the idea of going completely over the top in naming a song “Electrosaurus Sex,” but by the time they get down to closing duo “Silfvertape” and “Sensor Data,” I’m left thinking of the subdued intro to “Orbital Command” and the interlude “Linkans Delight” and wondering if there isn’t a way to bring more of that dynamic volume and tempo breadth into the songwriting as a whole. That would really be far out. Maybe they’ll get there, maybe they won’t. Either way, Beyond Spectra, like its predecessor, makes a largely inarguable case for Saturn’s potential.

Saturn on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Lucifer’s Fall, II: Cursed and Damned

lucifers-fall-cursed-and-damned

Measuring its impact between doomly traditionalism and attitudinal fuckall, Lucifer’s Fall’s II: Cursed and Damned (on Nine Records) is a doom-for-doomers affair that tops 55 minutes with its nine tracks, recalling Dio-era Sabbathian gallop on opener “Mother Superior” and landing a significant blow with the slow-rolling nine-minute push of “The Necromancer.” Shades of Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, and the most loyal of the loyalists show themselves throughout, but whether it’s the crawl in the first half of “Cursed Priestess” or the blistering rush of the clarion centerpiece “(Fuck  You) We’re Lucifer’s Fall,” there’s an undercurrent of punk in the five-piece’s take that lends an abiding rawness to even the album’s most grueling moments. One looks to find a middle ground in songs like “The Mountains of Madness” and closer “Homunculus,” but Lucifer’s Fall instead offer NWOBHM-style guitar harmonics and soaring vocals, respectively, only pushing their stylistic breadth wider, playing by and breaking rules they’re clearly setting for themselves rather than working toward outside expectation. As a result, II: Cursed and Damned keeps its fist in the air for the duration, middle finger up.

Lucifer’s Fall on Bandcamp

Nine Records website

 

Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Uptown

trevor-shelley-de-brauw-uptown

Over the course of six-minute opener “A New Architecture,” guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw gradually moves the listener from abrasive noise to sweet, folkish acoustic guitar backed by amplified wavelengths. It’s a slowly unfolding change, patiently done, and it works in part to define Uptown (on The Flenser), the Pelican guitarist’s six-song solo debut long-player. Noise and drone make themselves regulars, and there’s a steady experimentalism at root in pieces like “Distinct Frequency,” the low-end hum and strum of “You Were Sure,” and the should’ve-been-on-the-soundtrack-to-Arrival “Turn up for What,” which unfurls a linear progression from minimalism to consuming swell in eight minutes ahead of the more actively droning 11-minute sendoff “From the Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang,” but de Brauw manages to keep a human core beneath via both the occasional acoustic layer and through moments where a piece is being palpably manipulated, à la the spacious distorted churn of “They Keep Bowing.” I’m not sure how Uptown didn’t wind up on Neurot, but either way, it’s an engaging exploration of textures, and one hopes it won’t be de Brauw’s last work in this form.

Trevor Shelley de Brauw on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser website

 

Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti

scuzzy yeti scuzzy yeti

Someone in Scuzzy Yeti has roots in metal, and the good money’s on it being vocalist Chris Wells. Joined in the Troy, New Hampshire, five-piece by guitarists Brad Decatur and Jason Lawrence (ex-Skrogg), bassist Wayne Munson and drummer Josh Turnbull, Wells casts a sizable frontman presence across the five-tracks of Scuzzy Yeti’s self-titled debut EP, belting out “Westward” and “BTK” as the band behind him hones a blend of classic heavy rock and doom. The sound is more reminiscent of Janne Christoffersson-era Spiritual Beggars than what one might expect out of New England, and the band amass some considerable momentum as centerpiece “Conqueror” and the shorter shuffle “Knees in the Breeze” push toward slower, lead-soaked closer “Flare,” which finds the lead guitar stepping up to meet Wells head-on. They might have some work to do in finding a balance between the stylistic elements at play, but for a first outing, Scuzzy Yeti shows all the pieces are there and are being put into their rightful place, and the result is significant, marked potential.

Scuzzy Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Scuzzy Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Urn., Urn.

urn urn

The insistent push from punctuated Denver trio Urn.’s self-titled debut demo/EP is enough to remind one of the days when the primary impression of Mastodon wasn’t their complexity, but the raw savagery with which that complexity was delivered. Urn. – the three-piece of Scott Schulman, Graham Wesselhoff and Jacob Archuleta – work in some elements of more extreme metal to “Rat King” after opener “Breeder,” both songs under three minutes and successfully conveying an intense thrust. The subsequent “Stomach” ranges further and is the longest cut at 4:45, but loses none of its focus as it winds its way toward closer “To the Grave,” which in addition to maintaining the nigh-on-constant kick drum that has pervaded the three tracks prior, offers some hints of lumbering stomp to come. As a first sampling, Urn.’s Urn. is a cohesive aesthetic blast setting in motion a progression that will be worth following as it develops. Call it rager metal and try not to spill your beverage while you windmill, you wild headbanger.

Urn. on Thee Facebooks

Urn. on Bandcamp

 

Nebula Drag, Always Dying

nebula drag always dying

2016 found San Diego aggressors Nebula Drag making their self-titled, self-released debut (review here) with a record that seemed to work in willful defiance of their hometown’s psychedelic underground while at the same time occasionally nodding to it. The forebodingly-titled Always Dying three-song EP does likewise, launching with a vengeance on “Crosses” before burying the vocals and spacing out behind the crashes of the more languid-rolling title-track and giving a bit of both sides with the four-minute closer “Flying Fuckers.” It’s almost as if the three-piece of Corey Quintana, bassist Mike Finneran and drummer Stephen Varns, having thus completed their first album, decided to boil it down to its essential stylistic components and the result of that was this 14-minute outing. An intriguing prospect, but it could also be these were leftovers from the prior session with Jordan Andreen at Audio Design Recording and putting them up for a free download was an easy way to give them some purpose. In any case, if you haven’t yet been introduced to the band, Always Dying is an efficient telling of their story thus far.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

 

Contra, Deny Everything

contra deny everything

If their moniker doesn’t have you immediately running through the most legendary of cheat codes, congratulations on being born after 1990. Cleveland burl-sludge metallers Contra make their full-length debut on respected purveyor Robustfellow with the 10-track/41-minute Deny Everything, and if it sounds like they have their shit together – at least sound-wise – it should make sense given the pedigree of drummer Aaron Brittain (ex-Rue), bassist/guitarist Adam Horwatt (So Long Albatross), guitarist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer) and vocalist Larry Bent (ex-Don Austin). Be it established that songs like “Snake Goat” and “Son of Beast” are nobody’s first time at the sludge rodeo. Fair enough. Doesn’t mean Contra don’t establish their own personality in the overarching fuckall and total lack of pretense throughout Deny Everything – hell, seven-minute closer “Shrimp Cocktail” proves that on its own – just that that personality has roots. What Contra wants to do with them still kind of seems up in the air, but something about these tracks makes me think the band likes it that way. See the aforementioned “fuckall.”

Contra on Bandcamp

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

IAH, IAH

iah iah

Comprised of four songs tracked live in the trio’s native Córdoba at 440 Estudio, the self-titled debut EP from Argentine trio IAH – guitarist Mauricio Condon, bassist Juan Pablo Lucco and drummer José Landín – would seem destined to catch the attention of South American Sludge Records if it already hasn’t. In the interim, the three-piece have made the instrumental EP available as a free download and its unpretentious heavy psychedelics and edge of rock-minded thrust on opener “Cabalgan los Cielos” and the early going of closer “Eclipsum” more than justify their intention to spread the word as much as possible. Set to a balance of post-rock guitar, the bassline of “Stolas” carries a progressive inflection, and the fuzz that emerges halfway into second track “Ouroboros” shows a desert rock influence that blends well into its surroundings as a part of a richer sonic entity. A nascent but palpable chemistry at work across its 26 minutes, IAH’s IAH could portend expansive ideas to come, and one hopes it does precisely that.

IAH on Thee Facebooks

IAH on Bandcamp

 

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Lucifer’s Fall Release II: Cursed and Damned Dec. 12

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 8th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

As far as band taglines go, ‘Fuck you, we’re Lucifer’s Fall!’ is pretty solid. Belonging to the Australian traditional doom outfit of the same name, it rather neatly sums up the drunk and misanthropic perspective from which their grit seems to emanate on a song like “Mother Superior,” which you can hear below and which opens their second album, II: Cursed and Damned, which is being released Dec. 12 — that’s next Monday in case you, like me, are working a month behind in your own I-think-it’s-this-date-not-this-date mental calendar — by Nine Records. Like Reagers-fronted Vitus with some of Orange Goblin‘s burning-alcohol-for-fuel momentum building. Makes for a pretty raw combination, but hey, you can hear it for yourself, so no need for me to prattle on.

The PR wire brings the attitude to the people:

lucifer's fall ii cursed and damned

LUCIFER’S FALL – II: Cursed & Damned – new album from Australian doom metallers!

NINE005, CD, Release Date: December 12th, 2016

Straight from South Australia, Lucifer’s Fall recorded Their second full-length album called “II: Cursed & Damned”.

Lucifer’s Fall was created in 2013 by Deceiver and Unknown Unnamed (members of Rote Mare). In 2014 they recorded their debut album, which was re-released in 2015
by Hammerheart Records. Lucifer’s Fall, worshiping a raw traditional doom metal, classic doom metal bands like Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Reverend Bizarre.

“II: Cursed & Damned” contains nine tracks with heavy catchy riffs, crushing sounds and brilliant vocals. No tricks, no bullshit, this is sense of DOOM!

“Bringing doom and death to you all — Fuck You We’re Lucifer’s Fall”

1. Mother Superior
2. Damnation
3. The Mountain of Madness
4. Cursed Priestess
5. (Fuck You) We’re Lucifer’s Fall
6. The Necromancer
7. Sacrifice
8. The Invocator / Cursed Be Thy Name
9. Homunculus

Total Running Time: 50 minutes

Lucifer’s Fall is:
Deceiver – Apocalyptic Howls
Unknown Unnamed – Hammer Of Doom
Heretic – Abrasive Blasphemy
Cursed Priestess – Cryptic Storms & Incantations
The Invocator – Axe Of Satan & Demonic Summonings
FUCK YOU! WE’RE LUCIFER’S FALL……

https://www.facebook.com/LucifersFallDoom
http://ninerecords.bandcamp.com/
http://nine-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/NineRecords

Lucifer’s Fall, “Mother Superior”

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Leather Nun America Release New Album Buddha Knievel on March 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

leather nun america

While I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to see an owl on the cover of a heavy album and not think of Rush‘s Fly by Night immediately, I’m also not sure that’s not the intent of San Diego three-piece Leather Nun America, whose new full-length, Buddha Knievel, is due out March 9 on Nine Records. Take that owl from the Adam Burke cover art, add in the Viking ship and the doomly-looking hilltop castle and you’ve got a decent sense of where the trio are coming from musically. It would hardly fit the aesthetic, but somehow if a bottle of wine could’ve been incorporated or maybe a Maryland flag from one of the castle ramparts, it might go even further toward conveying Leather Nun America‘s particular affinity for Maryland doom and the work of The Obsessed, which continues to be a pervasive influence on their sound, as the new song “Into Abyss,” audible below, demonstrates.

I’m only kidding about changing the art, just in case there’s any lingering doubt. One look at it and it’s pretty easy to tell there isn’t a damn thing missing. Also, kudos to Leather Nun America on the title Buddha Knievel. Not that I’m keeping a list of the year’s best album names or anything, but if I was, that would definitely make the cut.

To the PR wire:

Leather Nun Buddha Knievel

LEATHER NUN america – Buddha Knievel

NINE004, CD, Release Date: March 9th, 2015

LEATHER NUN america releases new album called “Buddha Knievel” on cd and digital download through Nine Records. This record is packed full with eleven magic, but old heavy tracks! Taking a doom fueled journey through sounds rich with MD/DC standards, then branching into cold harder Northern sound. 45 minutes of traditional doom metal in the vein of Wino’s bands like The Obsessed, The Hidden Hand and Spirit Caravan. Fans of Maryland doom metal sound and style will be satisfied!

Leather Nun america from San Diego/California is active since 2003. They released three albums before for PsycheDOOMelic Records (“All Your Kin” 2006, “Absence of Light” 2008, “Kult Occult” 2011), all of which at high levels. Listen to the “Buddha Knievel”, and you will see that they have reached a higher level.

1. Prologue
2. Into Abyss
3. Warwolf
4. Bourgeois Pig
5. Interlude
6. Burning Village
7. Barghest
8. Priestess
9. Gloom
10. Winter Kill
11. Irish Steel

Total Running Time: 45 minutes

https://www.facebook.com/leatherNunamerica
http://ninerecords.bandcamp.com/
http://nine-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/NineRecords

Leather Nun America, “Into Abyss”

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Mansion Reissue We Shall Live on CD through Nine Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Finnish cult rockers — or is that rocking cult? — Mansion were pretty high on my Roadburn 2014 gotta-see list. It’s always interesting to go to that fest an an American dying to see the European bands and see the Europeans eager to check out the American acts. Call it a reminder of how much of novelty depends on point of view. Either way, Mansion delivered thoroughly on my hopes and expectations from digging on 2013’s We Shall Live EP (review here), and while one of my biggest regrets from the weekend was not picking up a copy of their The Mansion Congregation Hymns Vol. 1 7″, limited to 100 copies and I’m sure gone by now, at least I can drown my sorrows in knowing that We Shall Live is still gaining traction and a following. Polish imprint Nine Records — you might recall they did the CD of Vestal Claret‘s Bloodbath — has the EP out now on glorious, futuristic compact disc, complete with a 16-page liner.

The following comes translated from the Nine Records page:

MANSION – We Shall Live out now on CD!

Mansion is a band from Finland. The band’s name comes from the local Christian apocalyptic cult – Kartanoism, which had its glory days in the 1920s-50s. Kartano is the Finnish word for the Mansion and the name of the leader of the sect Alma Kartano. Mansion is a six-piece creating music that reflects the life of former followers of the sect.

Their music is a perfect blend of doom, psychedelic rock, and cult rock straight out of the 70s style: Jess And The Ancient Ones, Sabbath Assembly, The Devil’s Blood, Jex Thoth.

This is a compact edition reissue of the classic EP recorded in 2013. The package is embellished with a 16-page booklet with lyrics and many previously-unpublished photographs.

http://www.nine-records.com/
http://weshalllive.bandcamp.com/album/we-shall-live
https://www.facebook.com/mansionalma

Mansion, We Shall Live (2013)

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Vestal Claret, Bloodbath: Sacrilege and Invocation

Posted in Reviews on May 2nd, 2013 by JJ Koczan


A long-awaited debut after several EPs, demos, a single and a split, Vestal Claret’s Bloodbath was released on vinyl through Cyclopean Records late in 2011. The album, a double-LP, found the Connecticut band’s lineup of vocalist Phil Swanson, guitarist/bassist Simon Tuozzoli and drummer Michael Petrucci joined by a range of guest guitarists and vocalists, including members of Forsaken, NightBitch and Black Pyramid (among many others), as they ran through more than an hour’s worth of dark, classic metal, touching on doom here and there but adherent to atmosphere more than to genre. The story of how Vestal Claret even got to that point is a winding one, with the band starting up in 2005 concurrent to Swanson’s fronting Upwards of Endtime before joining Hour of 13 and Tuozzoli recording initial Vestal Claret demos at his UP Recording Studio (where Bloodbath was also put to tape), and the band eventually bringing in Petrucci for drums, who now also plays in Tuozzoli’s heavy rock outfit King of Salem as well as fuzz-deliverers Curse the Son in addition to being a professional, touring percussionist for the Blue Man Group. But even through all of that and more – Swanson in and out of Hour of 13, Seamount, etc. – Vestal Claret managed to get a record out, and a different version now shows up on CD through the upstart label, Nine Records. What’s different? The guest appearances are gone, which leaves Tuozzoli, Swanson and Petrucci on their own as a trio for Bloodbath’s 71-minute duration, and the tracklisting has changed, giving the CD a different flow than the LP edition, with parts recorded following the first Bloodbath release. So basically, Bloodbath is two albums, with mostly the same songs, and this CD is the second of the two. The “band version.” I told you it was complicated.

I didn’t hear the original Bloodbath, so I won’t endeavor to compare the two, but it’s immediately commendable that the 12 tracks are they’re presented on the CD sound neither incomplete nor like there would even be much room to add more to them. Sure, the arrangements are fairly straightforward – guitar, bass, drums, vocals – but Vestal Claret sound like a cohesive unit across the album’s course and whether it’s on the catchy chorus of “Tales to Those Forgotten” or the dark, disturbing narrative of “Missing Girl,” they seem more than capable of getting their point across on their own. Opener “Hex of Harm” and the penultimate “Allowance of Sin” previously appeared on the Virgin Blood single (review here), and like that release and the band’s work elsewhere, they skirt a line between cultish devil worship and indecent, graphic lyrical description, Swanson’s lyrics pushing an envelope of Satanic psychosis particularly on “Missing Girl,” where cuts like “Ritual of Revival” and “Hex of Harm” (who knew black magic was so alliterative?) find him casting spells in his trademark vibrato, hit voice perfectly suited for Tuozzoli’s classic metal guitar work. “Hex of Harm” is the longest track on Bloodbath at 9:27 (immediate points for opening with it), and balances well the driving rhythm, strong hook and darkened atmospheres that follow, each piece leaning toward one or more such aspects of the band’s sound, like the more rocking “Devil’s Daughters” or the fuller build of “The Correlation,” which follow, as the album plays out its bleak course. Tuozzoli and Petrucci work exceedingly well together on faster tracks like “Blood Oath” and the slower vibing of the intro to “Submissive to Evil,” and though the music rarely veers into doomed territory, that feeling is never far off, particularly with the drama Swanson works into his delivery on “Missing Girl,” taking on a touch of a British accent for the verses over the chugging riff that gives way to a bridge that winds up as a secondary instrumental chorus. How many times Satan is evoked throughout these cuts, I don’t even know, but the best line comes from “Missing Girl”: “It’s always said the devil has his due/He’ll be paid in full before the day is through,” and though the song’s thematic is disquieting, its intro verses actually creepy as opposed to just creepy-sounding, it’s actually one of the best, most creatively expansive songs on Bloodbath. But wow, that’s creepy.

Read more »

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Vestal Claret’s Bloodbath CD Available Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Polish imprint Nine Records sends over word of the long-awaited CD release of Bloodbath, the first full-length outing by Connecticut-based doom trio Vestal Claret. Thee Claret‘s lineup is an impressive assemblage, with frontman Phil Swanson (Hour of 13, Seamount, Upwards of Endtime, etc.) joined by guitarist Simon Tuozzoli (King of Salem) and drummer Michael Petrucci (Curse the Son), and their last release was the Virgin Blood 7″ in 2011 (review here).

Both tracks from that release — opener “Hex of Harm” and the penultimate “Allowance of Sin” — show up on Bloodbath as well, which according to the info below was recorded back in 2006. Long-awaited indeed. The band must be relieved to get it out. Text, links and music follow:

While this release stands in many ways as Vestal Claret’s official debut, Vestal Claret have in fact been releasing EPs, splits and demos as early on as 2006 with its actual formation in 2005 predating just about everything being heard in the current “occult” fashion genre at this time. There is no influence or inspiration from anything of the past two decades that provoked this release or its ideas and concepts. The material on this album was all written in 2006, but with contract in hand Vestal Claret was unable to release these recordings until now.

Most of you have probably already heard this stuff on the vinyl version released in 2011 by Cyclopean Records. Vinyl contains a “Bloodbath’s” guest-version, but here you are dealing with a “Bloodbath’s” band-version. It’s over 70 minutes of classic heavy metal. Meet the Beast himself!

1. Hex of Harm
2. Devil’s Daughters
3. The Correlation
4. Ritual of Revival
5. Missing Girl
6. Blood Oath
7. The Templar’s Idol
8. Tales to Those Forgotten
9. Endurement to the Heirs of Shame
10. Submissive to Evil
11. Allowance of Sin
12. A Call to Satan

http://ninerecords.bigcartel.com/product/vestal-claret-bloodbath
http://ninerecords.bandcamp.com/

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