Tombstones Call it Quits

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tombstones

Sorry to see these guys go, but one could hardly argue Norwegian doomers Tombstones aren’t disbanding at the top of their game. In 2015, the Oslo natives released their third album, Vargariis (review here), through Soulseller Records and this Spring found them on tour with doom legends Saint Vitus, which felt like a culmination meeting after guitarist/vocalist Bjørn-Viggo Godtland, bassist/vocalist Ole Christian Helstad and drummer Markus Støle made runs the last few years alongside Egypt, gigs with Conan and slews of others, appearances at Freak Valley and Roadburn, a US incursion with an appearance at Psycho Las Vegas and a founding involvement in the Høstsabbat fest in their hometown.

Stepping back and looking at it, one can’t help but wonder if that tour with Vitus didn’t have some impact on their decision to keep going, or if there was a conversation afterwards about direction or some assessment of where they were at and headed as a band. Earlier this Spring, Støle released a debut offering from his new band Hymn (review here), which pushed in a different direction than Tombstones, so it’s certainly possible that exploration will continue. As for what Godtland and Helstad will do going forward, it remains to be seen, but when I hear or see something, I’ll do my best to keep up with it. On levels of style and substance, Tombstones felt like a band who had come into their own and still had much to offer. So it goes.

They announced their breakup as follows:

tombstones logo

Everyone!!

The day has come. Tombstones will no longer exist as a band. We are eternally grateful for what the band has granted us over the last decade. Fans, promoters, bands, bookers, labels, festivals and friends have given us more memories filled with joy than we could ever hope for. After such a long time, you go through ups- and downs, and the decision to put the band on hold feels right, but still sad.

The decision is mutual, and is based upon the fact that we as a group are no longer able to continue in the same direction. Sometimes motivation can be lost, the juice runs out and you long for inspiration elsewhere. This is the crossroads we found ourselvses in at the moment.

We would like to thank Jorn from Soulseller , Klaus from Vibra and Jerome from Eclipse in particular. You have been nothing but awesome over the years.

This doesn’t mean we will stop making music. Keep your eyes peeled for future projects.

Thank you all, we love you!!

https://www.facebook.com/norwegiandoom/
https://tombstonesoslo.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/

Tombstones, Vargariis (2015)

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BardSpec Post “Bone” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bardspec-Photo-Christian-Misje

If you’re not sensitive to flashing lights and you’ve got 12 spare minutes to get weird in your day — and I think we all know you do, even if you think you don’t; one has to set priorities for these things sometimes — then Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson would like to invite you to a droning dance party. And no, that’s not a rave where little robot helicopters fly overhead, though I’m sure that exists somewhere on this planet. It’s a video for the track “Bone” from Bjørnson‘s upcoming BardSpec debut, which trips out in electronic psychedelia even as it pulsates light and beats across an extended runtime atop a bed of longform guitar effects. Drone and dance. Dance and drone.

Whichever order you want to present those two, they serve as the core of “Bone,” and Bjørnson, along with Today is the Day guitarist/weirdo noise legend Steve Austin, gracefully plays to one side or the other of the balance between them throughout. The song, such as it is, is an undertaking to be sure, but in its place serving as the post-intro opener of BardSpec‘s forthcoming debut album, Hydrogen — out June 23 on ByNorse Music — its hypnotic effect proves well suited in drawing the listener in closer and readying them for the true voyage still to come. In other words, yeah, it’s gonna get stranger. That’s the whole idea.

And yet, “Bone” makes its own kind of sense, sets its own context. You can hear the linear build in the midsection, or the fluidity as one part leads into the next. You might need to make your way through it a couple times to get a sense of what is happening, but exploratory as it is in style, there is a sense of direction at work. Bjørnson is by no means flailing as he crafts the movement-filled wash at the apex. He’s poised. Just poised in another dimension. Go ahead and see for yourself. Take a chance on it.

Video is by David Hall, and is followed by more info off the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

BardSpec, “Bone” official video

Hydrogen, is the forthcoming debut from BardSpec, an experimental project featuring Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson and Today Is The Day’s Steve Austin.

BardSpec offer up a stunning fusion of stirring, hallucinatory synth-sounds with mercurial guitar effects and hypnotic rhythms that navigate illusory landscapes. Field recordings and other found-sounds also drift and evaporate into the ether. Working intuitively with these elements and with sharpened senses, attuned to inner impulses, this is immersive music, that can exist anywhere, and anytime within the minds of the listener.

BardSpec is inspired by the German masters Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, and Conrad Schnitzler in addition to contemporary ambient music like Norwegian one-man-band Biosphere and abstract modern electronic music like When, as well as the electronic/industrial-driven metal like Godflesh.

BardSpec website

BardSpec on Thee Facebooks

BardSpec on Instagram

ByNorse Music

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Enslaved Begin Recording New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Pretty funny timing on the news coming in that Norwegian blackened progressives Enslaved have begun the recording process for their next album. Or at least the phrasing of the news release made it so: “Enslaved enter the studio again!” Thing was, I got this update from the PR wire over the weekend at Roadburn in the Netherlands about two minutes after I saw Enslaved bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson walking around at the fest. Looked at my phone, looked up and there he was. I had a chuckle and said to myself, “Well, I guess not all of Enslaved are in the studio at the moment.”

Anyway, fun coincidence there, but the good news is that hopefully before the end of 2017 we’ll get a follow-up to Enslaved‘s excellent 2015 studio offering, In Times (review here), which will make it a double-release year for the band, who also just put out the Roadburn Live live record. The more the merrier.

Here’s the latest:

enslaved

ENSLAVED Enter The Studio Again!

It’s been over two years since the release of critically acclaimed album In Times, and now Norway’s progressive metal legends ENSLAVED have entered the studio again to record their 14th, yet untitled full-length release. Aiming for both wilder and yet more progressive and melodic horizons, the band who celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, never ceases to surprise and challenge their fans; they will once again step up to the plate. The recordings are taking place at Duper & Solslottet Studios in Bergen throughout April, and will be mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios. With its epic touch, the album promises to be original and refreshing – and to contain some surprising new elements.

“It is absolutely fantastic to be in the studio with these new songs”, states mastermind Ivar Bjørnson. “So many doors were opened with In Times and the times (sic) that followed; for us as a band, for me as a composer and I guess for us all on a personal level. I have never worked this hard to put together music for an album before, and that intensity continues into the studio where everybody is giving their everything, every hour of every day. We are a tighter unit than ever before, which is obvious sonically. The concept conjured by myself and old war-brother Grutle is the strongest we have worked with. Finally, I am proud that we have taken more risks than ever before, and one in particular – and it is yielding awesome results. What does that mean? Stay tuned to find out!”

The eye-catching cover and artwork is once again being created by renowned designer and painter Truls Espedal. More info will be revealed soon!

In the meantime, enjoy ENSLAVED’s latest album In Times that was released in March 2015 via Nuclear Blast, which blew away both fans and journalists. Secure your physical copy here: www.nuclearblast.de/238143

http://www.facebook.com/enslaved
https://www.instagram.com/enslavedofficial
https://twitter.com/enslavedband
http://www.enslaved.no/
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
http://instagram.com/nuclearblastusa
http://www.twitter.com/nuclearblastusa

Enslaved, “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” official video from Roadburn Live

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Spidergawd, IV: What Comes to Pass

Posted in Reviews on April 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

spidergawd iv

Trondheim, Norway’s Spidergawd remain one of the best and worst kept secrets in Europe’s heavy underground. “Worst” because they do such a terrible job at it themselves, what with constantly touring and putting out new material. That’s no way to keep a secret. “Best” because no matter what they’ve done up to this point in their time together, they still seem underappreciated. Spidergawd IV is their fourth album in four years.

Released by Crispin Glover Records and Stickman Records, it continues a run of nigh-on-unparalleled consistency in songcraft that ran through 2016’s Spidergawd III (review here), 2015’s Spidergawd II (review here) and 2014’s Spidergawd (review here), and even as drummer Kenneth Kapstad (also Motorpsycho), saxophonist Rolf Martin Snustad and guitarist/vocalist Per Borten welcome new bassist Hallvard Gaardløs in place of Bent Sæther (also recording engineer), they weather the change smoothly and push their sound forward, playing toward elements of classic heavy metal in songs like “I am the Night,” “LouCille” and the insistent “What Have You Become,” among others, while maintaining their penchant for Borten leading the way through righteous, unabashedly accessible hooks on opener “Is this Love…?,” the ultra-swaggering “Heaven Comes Tomorrow” and “Ballad of Millionaire (Song for Elina).” As they turn and twist mindfully through this readjusted balance of influences, Spidergawd also hold fast to the underlying progressive sensibility that has always been at root in their songwriting, so that not only do they reimagine arena rock choruses with a more intense edge than ever before, but they do so with the same level of thoughtfulness they’ve brought to everything they’ve done up to this point.

In this, they have become one of the most immediately identifiable acts in underground heavy rock, and their signature is writ large over the eight tracks/41 minutes of Spidergawd IV no matter what pursuits individual pieces undertake, be it the deceptively pop-minded launch the album gets via “Is this Love…?” or the eight-minute semi-psychedelic nod of “What Must Come to Pass” on side B. Spidergawd sound like Spidergawd, and while one can pick out a riff like the gallop of “I am the Night” and say Iron Maiden or “Heaven Comes Tomorrow” and say Dio and/or Motörhead, or “Ballad of a Millionaire (Song for Elina)” and relate it more to the heavy rock side of their approach — think later Queens of the Stone Age, and no, I don’t just say that because the word “millionaire” is in the title — the sonic territory they claim they work to make their own, and though it may seem like they just bang albums out one after they other because on a basic level of timing that’s kind of how it happens, Spidergawd have never failed to offer a work of marked depth and nuance.

Spidergawd IV is no exception to that, whether it’s the forward charge of “LouCille” shifting slightly down from the rush of “Is this Love…?” and “I am the Night” at the outset as the band makes ready to move into “Ballad of a Millionaire (Song for Elina)” or the fluidity within that song itself, of Snustad‘s sax layered smoothly alongside the bass of the midpaced verse set to Kapstad‘s steady march to one of the album’s most melodically engaging hooks. After the crisp execution of the first three cuts and the likes of “What Have You Become” and “Heaven Comes Tomorrow” to follow, “Ballad of a Millionaire (Song for Elina)” is a standout for its looser rhythmic feel, but its structure is no less resilient than anything before or after, and its fade into a wash of noise at the end only adds a layer of hypnosis to foreshadow “What Must Come to Pass.”

spidergawd

If the sides of the vinyl split evenly in terms of having four tracks on each, “What Have You Become” is the leadoff for side B, and it’s certainly up to the task, reviving the thrust of “I am the Night” at an even higher level, Kapstad‘s snare jabbing and punctuating the careening verse groove. At 3:44, it is the shortest inclusion on Spidergawd IV, and arguably the most straightforward in its intent, so it’s fitting that the sax should open languidly to start “What Must Come to Pass” and immediately throw off the listener’s expectation. The intent at conveying a moment of arrival couldn’t be clearer, and “What Must Come to Pass” earns all eight of its minutes in a graceful unfolding process that builds through a structured start and moves outward shortly after its halfway point, Borten delivering the title line (or sort-of-title-line, anyhow) just ahead of a reverb-soaked classic guitar solo that begins the instrumental course the rest of the song will follow. In their willful abandonment of structure — i.e., not going back to the chorus before the end of “What Must Come to Pass” — Spidergawd remain dynamic.

This isn’t the first time they’ve broken their own rules, and the transition between the noise-fadeout ending of “What Must Come to Pass” and the initial crash-in of “Heaven Comes Tomorrow” nonetheless serves the greater purposes of the album overall. The penultimate song is duly raucous and swinging, marked out by the guitar solo in its second half and more choice interplay from the sax and bass amid a push that comes across perhaps as a grownup version of some of their earlier riotousness. This gives way to the ’80s metal riffing — one hears Mötley Crüe‘s “Looks that Kill” as much as anything from Judas Priest — and rougher vocal from Borten on closer “Stranglehold.” While its hook is representative of the quality of their work overall, the finale of Spidergawd IV is less a summary of the album as a whole than it is a reinforcement of and last bit of fun with the metallic side that’s been present all along. They strut out on layered soloing and the central start-stop riff à la Tipton/Downing, and do not linger, in part no doubt because it’s already time to start work on their next full-length.

When they put out Spidergawd III, I wondered how long they could keep up their pace of releases without losing their grip on either songcraft or presentation, and they answered that question with a decisively forward progression in style while also making a significant lineup change, not losing a step in the process, and still touring their collective ass off. Listening to Spidergawd IV, one isn’t so much tempted to imagine what could possibly derail the band at this point as to be thankful that nothing has, and whether or not they turn out Spidergawd V on schedule in the first half of 2018, they’ve added significant intrigue and accomplishment to a catalog that’s known little else with this latest collection.

Spidergawd, “Is this Love…?” live in studio

Spidergawd website

Spidergawd on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records

Crispin Glover Records

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Sunshine Reverberation Self-Titled Debut out April 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Sunshine-Reverberation

There isn’t much audio to go on here for those of you not on Spotify, so you might have to just take my word for it. Tromsø, Norway’s Sunshine Reverberation have one track streaming publicly on their Soundcloud page that’s called “Be a Baby,” but I can’t embed it, and anyway, that doesn’t really do much on its own to summarize their plenty of punk, psych and garage rock as proffered throughout their self-titled debut, which is out later this month via the newly-minted Westergaard Records. I found a video of a Sept. 2016 hometown set on YouTube, but you have to turn it sideways to make it look right. The pickings are as yet kind of slim.

So I guess you can either believe me, use your Spotify if you have one (I don’t), dig into that Soundcloud track, or wait a couple weeks to check out cuts like the circa-’67 garage drawl of “Manipulation” and the bass-led drift of “Sun King II.” Sometimes life doesn’t provide instant gratification. Strange thought, I know.

The PR wire brings art and release info:

Sunshine-Reverberation-sunshine-reverberation

Smashing debut from Norwegian psych/garagerock band SUNSHINE REVERBERATION!!

Sunshine Reverberation is a garage punk band heavily influenced by psychedelia and krautrock creating a sonic space similar to artists like King Gizzard, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and White Fence. And if you listen, you will also find echoes from Iggy & The Stooges and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

The band was formed in the heart of Tromsø rock city in late 2014. Tromsø is far from everything, in the cold and dark northern parts of the Norwegian wilderness.

Sunshine Reverberation came together over long jam sessions in a furniture stores basement, where they found their unique psychedelic, fuzzy and melodic sound. From the start they have been perpetually broke and they’ve had to adopt a strict DIY ethos.

Sunshine Reverberation are calm, controlled and dreamy before they suddenly launch into noisy, fuzzy punk workouts. They are indeed a four-headed hydra: grinding, wringing and twisting every drop of acid out of rock’n’roll’s rotting corpse.

Their amazing self-titled debut album captures the unique sound of these Norwegian outcasts.

Tracklist:
Side A:
Rainbow Eyes (3:41)
Japanese Death Cult (4:12)
Be a Baby (3:39)
Golden Gate (2:10)
Manipulation (3:47)
Side B:
Leech Transportation (8:02)
Sun King II (4:38)
Trees (3:07)
Death (4:43)

The band:
Karl-Erik Djupnes – Lead guitars/ lead vocals
Erik Pettersen – Lead guitars/ backing vocals
Jon Dalbakk – Lead bass
Roger Jakobsen – Lead drums/ lead percussion

https://www.facebook.com/Sunshinereverb
https://soundcloud.com/sunverb
www.sunshinereverberation.com
https://www.facebook.com/WestergaardRecords

Sunshine Reverberation, Live in Tromsø, Norway, Sept. 2016

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Barren Womb Premiere “Freak Flag” Video; Crown Control EP out April 22

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

barren womb

With two full-lengths under their belt of skin-peeling noise rock, Trondheim, Norway, duo Barren Womb offer an aesthetic shift with their upcoming Record Store Day EP, Crown Control. Set for release April 22 through All Good Clean Records (distribution through Stickman), the five-track trades distorted guitar for banjo and adopts a neofolk and Americana stylization that removes the traces of post-Kvelertak black ‘n’ roll that otherwise make themselves felt in their sound. True, a song like “Devil Run the Game” from their 2015 sophomore long-player, Nique Everything, did much the same, but Crown Control brings this more into focus and is a more brazen move away from weighted sonic impact.

For example, listening to “Freak Flag,” for which Barren Womb have a new video premiering below, my most immediate comparison point for what Timo Silvola and Tony Gonzahl are doing is 16 Horsepower‘s “Straw Foot,” and that doesn’t feel like an accident on the band’s part. To listen to the lyrics of “Freak Flag,” there’s plenty of disaffection on offer, as well as some willfully less-than-charming raunch, but where they end up gets to the underlying message at the heart of the song. After urging an audience toward what they call “the dark side” and “the cool side” in the chorus, they finish with the lines, “…Because the worst is the best in a hive mind/And no one should have nothing to hide.”

What that last couplet lacks in grammar, it makes up in justifying the song’s overarching sense of alienation, and it seems that loud or quiet, Barren Womb bring a purpose to their material that’s about making a statement at least as much about conveying the wretchedness driving them toward that statement in the first place. I haven’t heard the rest of Crown Control, but there’s definitely an element of critique in the “Freak Flag” video as well, which features more hot dog eating than I, even as an American — and all we do is eat hot dogs; well, that and wars of aggression, anyway — have seen in a while, and a bit of NSFW-ness for decent measure.

Just a heads up on that.

Barren Womb‘s Crown Control is out April 22 and can be preordered now from All Good Clean Records. PR wire info follows the clip below.

Please enjoy:

Barren Womb, “Freak Flag” official video (NSFW)

Directed by Hanna Fauske.
From the EP “Crown Control” available now on All Good Clean Records.

On April 22nd, Records Store Day, the Trondheim-based power duo Barren Womb will release Crown Control, an EP somewhat out of the ordinary for the duo.

Lyrically it’s still rooted in their usual bleak universe, but the distorted guitars and drums have mostly been replaced by banjo and acoustic guitars. Crown Control comprises 5 winding, misanthropic tracks in the Dark Americana-/Folk-tradition, and will be released by All Good Clean Records.

The first hundred copies will be released as a special handnumbered edition including a signed insert and lyrics sheet.

Crown Control preorder at All Good Clean Records

Barren Womb on Thee Facebooks

Barren Womb on Twitter

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Quarterly Review: Ulver, Forming the Void, Hidden Trails, Svvamp, Black Mirrors, Endless Floods, Tarpit Boogie, Horseburner, Vermilion Whiskey, Hex Inverter

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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

Feeling groovy heading into Day Two of the Spring 2017 Quarterly Review, and I hope you are as well. Today we dig into a pretty wide variety of whatnots, so make sure you’ve got your head with you as we go, because there are some twists and turns along the way. I mean it. Of all five days in this round, this one might be the most wild, so keep your wits intact. I’m doing my best to do the same, of course, but make no promises in that regard.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Ulver, The Assassination of Julius Caesar

ulver-the-assassination-of-julius-caesar

Norwegian post-everything specialists Ulver have reportedly called The Assassination of Julius Caesar (on House of Mythology) “their pop album,” and while the Nik Turner-inclusive freakout in second cut “Rolling Stone” (that may or may not be him on closer “Comign Home” as well) doesn’t quite fit that mold, the beats underscoring the earlier portion of that track, opener “Nemoralia” and the melodrama of “Southern Gothic” certainly qualify. Frontman/conceptual mastermind Kristoffer Rygg’s voice is oddly suited to this form – he carries emotionally weighted hooks like a melancholy George Michael on the electronically pulsating “Transverberation” and, like most works of pop, shows an obsession with the ephemeral in a slew of cultural references in “1969,” which in no way is likely to be mistaken for the Stooges song of the same name. While “So Falls the World” proves ridiculously catchy, “Coming Home” is about as close as Ulver actually come here to modern pop progression, and the Badalamenti-style low-end and key flourish in “1969” is a smooth touch, much of what’s happening in these eight tracks is still probably too complex to qualify as pop, but The Assassination of Julius Caesar is further proof that Ulver’s scope only grows more boundless as the years pass. The only limits they ever seem to know are the ones they leave behind.

Ulver on Twitter

House of Mythology website

 

Forming the Void, Relic

forming-the-void-relic

Last year, Louisiana four-piece Forming the Void had the element of surprise working to their advantage when it came to the surprising progressive edge of their debut album, Skyward (review here). Now signed to Argonauta, the eight-song/55-minute follow-up, Relic, doesn’t need it. It finds Forming the Void once again working proggy nuance into big-riffed, spaciously vocalized fare on early cuts “After Earth” and “Endless Road,” but as the massive hook of “Biolazar” demonstrates, the process by which guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Jordan Boyd meld their influences has become more cohesive and more their own. Accordingly, I’m not sure they need the 11-minute closing take on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” since by then the point is made in the lumber/plunder of “Plumes” and in the more tripped-out “Unto the Smoke” just before, but as indulgences go, it’s a relatively easy one to make. They’re still growing, but doing so quickly, and already they’ve begun to find a niche for themselves between styles that one hopes they’ll continue to explore.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Hidden Trails, Instant Momentary Bliss

hidden-trails-instant-momentary-bliss

Though it keeps a wash of melodic keys in the background and its approach is resolutely laid back on the whole, “Beautiful Void” is nonetheless a major factor in the overall impression of Hidden Trails’ self-titled debut (on Elektrohasch), as its indie vibe and departure from the psychedelic prog of the first two cuts, “Lancelot” and “Mutations,” marks a major distinguishing factor between this outfit and Hypnos 69, in which the rhythm section of the Belgian trio played previously. “Ricky” goes on to meld acoustic singer-songwriterism and drones together, and “Hands Unfold” has a kind of jazzy bounce, the bassline of Dave Houtmeyers and drumming of Tom Vanlaer providing upbeat groove under Jo Neyskens’ bright guitar lead, but the anticipation of heavy psych/prog never quite leaves after the opening, and that doesn’t seem to be what the band wants to deliver. The sweetly harmonized acid folk of “Leaving Like That” is on a different wavelength, and likewise the alt-rock vibes of “Space Shuffle” and “Come and Play” and the grunge-chilled-out closer “Denser Diamond.” If there’s an issue with Hidden Trails, it’s one of the expectations I’m bringing to it as a listener and a fan of Houtmeyers’ and Vanlaer’s past work, but clearly it’s going to take me a little longer to get over the loss of their prior outfit. Maybe I’m just not ready to move on.

Hidden Trails on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

 

Svvamp, Svvamp

svvamp-svvamp

Naturalist vibes pervade immediately from this late-2016 self-titled Svvamp debut (on RidingEasy Records) in the bassline to “Serpent in the Sky,” and in some of the post-Blue Cheer heavy blues sensibility, the Swedish trio bring to mind some of what made early Dirty Streets so glorious. Part of the appeal of Svvamp’s Svvamp, however, is that among the lessons it’s learned from heavy ‘70s rock and from Kadavar‘s own self-titled is to keep it simple. “Fresh Cream” is a resonant blues jam… that lasts two and a half minutes. The bouncing, turning “Oh Girl?” Three. Even the longest of its cuts, the slide-infused “Time,” the subdued roller “Big Rest” and the Marshall Tucker-esque finale “Down by the River,” are under five. This allows the three-piece of Adam Johansson, Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren to build significant momentum over the course of their 35-minute run, casting aside pretense in favor of aesthetic cohesion and an organic sensibility all the more impressive for it being their first record. Sweden has not lacked for boogie rock, but even the most relatively raucous moments here, as in the winding “Blue in the Face,” don’t seem overly concerned with what anyone else is up to, and that bodes remarkably well for Svvamp’s future output.

Svvamp on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Black Mirrors, Funky Queen

black-mirrors-funky-queen

There are few songs ever written that require whoever’s playing them to “bring it” more than MC5’s “Kick out the Jams.” True, it’s been covered many, many times over, but few have done it well. Belgium’s Black Mirrors signal riotous intent by including it as one of the four tracks of their Napalm Records debut EP, Funky Queen, along with the originals “Funky Queen,” “The Mess” and “Canard Vengeur Masqué,” and amid the post-Blues Pills stomp of “The Mess,” the mega-hook of the opening title-track and the more spacious five-plus-minute closer, which works elements of heavy psych into its bluesy push late to welcome effect, “Kick out the Jams” indeed brings a moment of relative cacophony, even if there’s no actual threat of the band losing control behind the powerful vocals of Marcella di Troia. As a first showing, Funky Queen would seem to be a harbinger, but it’s also a purposeful and somewhat calculated sampling of Black Mirrors’ wares, and I wouldn’t expect it to be long before an album follows behind expanding on the ideas presented in these tracks.

Black Mirrors on Thee Facebooks

Black Mirrors at Napalm Records

 

Endless Floods, II

endless-floods-ii

No doubt that for some who’d take it on, any words beyond “members of Monarch!” will be superfluous, but Bordeaux three-piece Endless Floods, who do indeed feature bassist/vocalist Stéphane Miollan and drummer Benjamin Sablon from that band, as well as guitarist Simon Bedy, have more to offer than pedigree on their three-song sophomore full-length, II (on Dry Cough vinyl and Breathe Plastic cassette). To wit, 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Impasse” rumbles out raw but spacious sludge that, though without keys or a glut of effects, and marked by the buried-deep screaming of Miollan, holds a potent sense of atmosphere so that the two-minute interlude “Passage” doesn’t seem out of place leading into the 19-minute lumber of “Procession,” which breaks shortly before its halfway point to bass-led minimalism in setting up the final build of the record. Slow churning intensity and longform sludge working coherently alongside ambient sensibilities and some genuinely disturbing noise? Yeah, that’ll do nicely. Thanks.

Endless Floods on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records on Bandcamp

Breathe Plastic Records on Bandcamp

 

Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam

tarpit-boogie-couldnt-handle-the-heavy-jam

Boasting four eight-plus-minute instrumentals, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam finds New Jersey trio Tarpit Boogie rife with classic style heavy rock chemistry, bassist John Eager running fills around the dense-toned riffing from guitarist George Pierro as drummer Chris Hawkins propels a surprising thrust on opener “FFF Heavy Jam.” I’ve been a fan of Pierro and Eager’s since we were bandmates a decade ago, so to hear them unfold “Chewbacca Jacket” from its tense opening to its righteously crashing finale is definitely welcome, but the 37-minute offering finds its true reasoning in the swing and shuffle of the eponymous “Tarpit Boogie,” which digs into the very challenge posed by the title – whether or not anyone taking on the album can handle its balance of sonic impact and exploratory feel – inclusive, in this case, of a drum solo that sets a foundation for a moment of Cactus-style rush ahead of a return to the song’s central progression to conclude. They round out with “1992 (Thank You Very Little),” Chevy Chase sample and all, bringing more crashing nod to a massive slowdown that makes it feel like the entire back half of the cut is one big rock finish. And so it is. A well-kept secret of Garden State heavy.

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Horseburner, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil

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The self-released Dead Seeds, Barren Soil is Horseburner’s second full-length, and it arrived in 2016 from the four-piece some seven years after their 2009 debut, Dirt City. They’ve had a few shorter outings in between, demos and 2013’s Strange Giant EP, but the West Virginia four-piece of Adam Nohe, Chad Ridgway, Jack Thomas and Zach Kaufman seem to be shooting for a definitive statement of intent in the blend of heavy rock and modern, Baroness-style prog that emerges on opener “David” and finds its way into the galloping “Into Black Resolution,” the multi-tiered vocals of “A Newfound Purity” and even the more straight-ahead thrust of “The Soil’s Prayer.” Marked out by the quality of its guitar work and its clearly-plotted course, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil caps with “Eleleth,” which at just under eight minutes draws the heft and the complexity together for a gargantuan finish that does justice to the ground Horseburner just flattened as they left it behind.

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Vermilion Whiskey, Spirit of Tradition

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Lafayette, Louisiana, five-piece Vermilion Whiskey telegraph participation in the New Wave of Dude Rock to the point of addressing their audience as “boy” in second cut “The Past is Dead,” and from the cartoon cleavage on the cover to the lack of irony between naming the record Spirit of Tradition and putting a song called “The Past is Dead” on it, they sell that well. The Kent Stump-mixed/Tony Reed-mastered six-tracker is the band’s second behind 2013’s 10 South, and basks in dudely, dudely dudeliness; Southern metal born more out of the Nola style than what, say, Wasted Theory are getting up to these days, but that would still fit on a bill with that Delaware outfit. If you think you’re dude enough for a song like “One Night,” hell, maybe you are. Saddle up. Listening to that and the chunky-style riff of closer “Loaded Up,” I feel like I might need hormone therapy to hit that level of may-yun, but yeah. Coherent, well written, tightly performed and heavy. Vermilion Whiskey might as well be hand-issuing dudes invitations to come drink with them, but they make a solid case for doing so.

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Hex Inverter, Revision

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If the cover art and a song title like “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts” weren’t enough of a tip-off, there’s a strong undercurrent of the unsettled to Hex Inverter’s second long-player, Revision. The Pennsylvania-based experimentalists utilize a heaping dose of drones to fill out arrangements of keys, guitar and noise that would otherwise be pretty minimal, and vocals come and go in pro- and depressive fashion. Texture proves the key as they embark on the linear centerpiece “Something Else,” with a first verse arriving over a sweetened bassline after four minutes into the total 9:58, and the wash of noise in “Daphne” obscures an avant neo-jazz groove late, so while opener “Cannibal Eyes” basks in foreboding ambience prior to an emotionally-driven and explosive crunch-beat payoff, one never quite knows what to expect next on Revision. That, of course, is essential to the appeal. They find an edge of rock in the aforementioned “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts,” but as the loops and synth angularity of closer “Fled (Deadverse Mix)” make plain, their intentions speak to something wider than even an umbrella genre.

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Tombstones Announce Tour Dates with Saint Vitus

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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As far as gigs in doom go, opening for Saint Vitus is close to as good as it gets. That’s the situation in which Oslo’s Tombstones find themselves as they continue to support their 2015 album, Vargariis (review here), released by Soulseller Records. Between the two, it’s a doomed-as-hell combo that will plod its way around Europe in May, and with Vitus continuing to work with original vocalist Scott Reagers, all the more an event for those fortunate enough to be in their path.

Can’t help but wonder too if Tombstones might have some new material on offer as we get a little further out from the Vargariis release. I asked bassist/vocalist Ole Helstad for some comment on doing the tour and he was tight-lipped on the possibility, but not mentioning it isn’t necessarily a no.

Dates and whatnot follow for the converted and soon to be converted:

tombstones tour with saint vitus

Tombstones – Tour Supporting Saint Vitus

We’re hitting the European roads alongside Saint Vitus in May. Come bang your head!

TOMBSTONES live with SAINT VITUS:
08.04 Copperfields Stockholm SWE
02.05 Helvete Oberhausen DE
03.05 Schlachthof Wiesbaden DE
04.05 Backstage Munich DE
05.05 Kammgarn Schaffhausen CH
06.05 Little Devil Tilburg NL
07.05 Patronaat Haarlem NL
08.05 Day off
09.05 Bastard Club Osnabruck DE
10.05 Hafenklang Hamburg DE
11.05 Voxhall Aarhus DK
12.05 Nojesfabriken Karlstad SWE
13.05 Pokalen Oslo NO
14.05 Pumpehuset Copenhagen DK

Says Ole Helstad:

“We are extremely thrilled to finally go on tour with Vargariis. It’s been a while since last time, and we miss meeting our friends and fans around Europe. It’s such a huge honor to be able to share stages with such legends as Saint Vitus. It’s a dream come true for us.”

Tombstones has taken up on their Norse heritage, evolving from their previous stoner-influenced sound, now descending into the dark side of the gloom.

“Vargariis” finds the band leaning towards the bleak and desperate, assaulting the listener with their blackened, thunderous wall of fuzz and despair.

https://www.facebook.com/norwegiandoom/
https://tombstonesoslo.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/

Tombstones, Vargariis (2015)

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