Posted in On Wax on February 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The languid flow of Black Moon Circle‘s Andromeda is exceptionally well-suited to the vinyl treatment that Crispin Glover Records (distribution through Stickman Records outside Norway) has given it. I don’t know the pressing numbers for the late-2014 release, but the single LP arrives complemented by a CD in a quality matte/gloss cover with a thick sleeve for the record itself, the vinyl a gold and black swirl (solid gold or black also available) that matches the artwork of the sleeve, the front cover a play on the artwork for the Trondheim, Norway, three-piece’s 2014 self-titled debut (review here). It is a spacious presentation and that also fits with the musical thematic with which Black Moon Circle works on the five included tracks, recorded live instrumentally with guest appearances from Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective (who also produced the first album) adding swirl to opener “The Machine on the Hill,” the subsequent “Jack’s Cold Sweat” and side B standout “Dragon,” and Marius Pettersen, who adds vocals to those of vocalist/bassist Øyvin Engan and guitarist/vocalist Vemund Engan on “The Machine on the Hill” and the 15-minute closing title-track, and the three-piece of the Engans and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen show marked growth in expanding sound-wise and time-wise on their first outing, solidifying their craft with memorable tracks even as they leave room for the occasional psych freakout.
A guest spot from Heller is never going to hurt in that regard, and even as Øyvin‘s bass makes a rich tonal impression on “The Machine on the Hill,” “Jack’s Cold Sweat” takes the emerging duality in Black Moon Circle and runs with it, a blend of heavy psych jamming and grunge-styled heavy rock resulting in a memorable, heavy feel that’s laid back and exploratory but still reliant on structure to move forward. The foundation for the trio working in this style was laid on the self-titled, but as an opening salvo, “The Machine on the Hill” and “Jack’s Cold Sweat” delve further, and in terms of providing a shifting dynamic across Andromeda‘s span, the lack of synth on side A’s third cut, “Supernova,” winds up making it sound all the more spacious, a subtly shuffling snare from Gulbrandsen and warm bassline serving as the foundation for wafting guitar and the melodic, echoing vocals that wrap the album’s first half on a sweetly jamming note as the guitar leads the way out topped by a few last lines in a progression that one imagines could have easily kept going ad infinitum. On the CD, that leads directly into the near-nine-minute “Dragon,” but a vinyl flip to side B makes the introductory acoustic guitar of the latter track all the more distinct. The unplugged layer turns out to be the hallmark of the song and the theme it moves around, a carefully woven build given added pulse with the third and final synth guest spot. Sooner or later, Heller might have to just join this band.
Repetitions of the lines “I feel the dragon rising/I feel the dragon rising again” make for Andromeda‘s most resonant hook in “Dragon,” the far-back drums scaled to suit the acoustics in the earlier part of the song, coming forward later with a full-breadth kick-in of heavier tones and lead swirl, an engaging payoff topped with fading amp noise that provides transition into “Andromeda,” which closes out. Black Moon Circle‘s Black Moon Circle was structured similarly, with a longer opener and longer-than-that closer sandwiching shorter material, but Andromeda is longer and more developed, and its finale is likewise, the trio’s chemistry evident in the pre-freakout guitar swirl and the assured direction-pointing of the bass and drums. As one might expect, a jam takes off from the soothing verses, and a guitar solo drives home an organic peak that pushes through the last several minutes of the album, Black Moon Circle managing to affirm their songwriting by bringing back the chorus amidst all the surrounding movement. That’s impressive in itself, let alone the solo that follows, but by then their hypnotic prowess is well established. The progression at Vemund, Øyvin and Per show in these tracks (and how they blend them together) is no less fitting than the physical presentation of the album. It’s been a year since Black Moon Circle was released — “Dragon” was recorded earlier, but the rest was tracked April 5, 2014 according to the back cover — and in less than that time, trio whose name that album bears have learned from what they did on that outing and brought a sense of creative development to Andromeda. One can only hope they continue to evolve in such a manner and at such a rate.
Posted in Radio on January 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Obelisk Radio server, which I’ve taken to calling the “main computer core,” was down most of last week after some kind of unknown surge in the EPS conduits, so with the data stream running on auxiliary power (yes, I’m using Star Trek science lingo; I’ll stop) it didn’t make much sense to do a round of adds. No one would hear the stuff anyway amid all the Sabbath, Kyuss, Goatsnake, Electric Wizard, etc. Sometimes I really like that backup server, but after a few days of listening, a change is welcome. I was pretty happy when we got the primary box back online.
And by “we,” I mostly mean Slevin, to whose technical expertise I am perpetually indebted. While I wouldn’t dare go much farther than doing so, I’m fortunate enough to be able to add files to the server on my own — I’m sure if you gave him five minutes he’d come up with a more efficient method — so we’ll give that a shot, and if the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down, we can consider it a win. Here goes.
The Obelisk Radio adds for Jan. 30, 2015:
Sumac, The Deal
Sumac start out high-profile thanks to the lineup of guitarist Aaron Turner of Isis and Old Man Gloom and drummer Nick Yacyshyn of Baptists and the fact that Russian Circles bassist Brian Cook recorded the low end for their Profound Lore debut, The Deal, but I think even if they were a trio of out-of-nowhere unknown entities, this record would turn some heads. Coated in feedback, blisteringly heavy — in the tradition of older Isis but more assured in its purpose — its six tracks breathe dense tonal life into the pallid post-metal vibe, songs like “Hollow King” (12:21) and “The Deal” (13:41) sounding as complex as they do crushing, wanting nothing in impact or atmosphere. “Spectral Gold” (3:18) and “Thorn in the Lion’s Paw” (8:55) begin The Deal on an ambient note, and the sprawl-drone of “The Radiance of Being” ends it likewise with five minutes of solo guitar from Turner, but in between “Hollow King,” “Blight’s End Angel” (10:17) and “The Deal” work quickly to win over even skeptical ears. Yacyshyn‘s performance is of particular note. Where it would’ve been all too easy to fall into Isis-style patterning to complement Turner‘s riffs, he holds firm to his own personality and The Deal is that much stronger for it. It is a startling and potential-laden debut. Almost enough to make up for the needless dickery Old Man Gloom pulled last year sending a fake record to the press, assuming what I’ve heard from Sumac is actually the real thing. Sumac on Thee Facebooks, at Profound Lore.
Garden of Worm, Idle Stones
Tampere, Finland, trio Garden of Worm make their debut on Svart Records via Idle Stones, their second album following 2010’s Garden of Worm (review here) on Shadow Kingdom. Comprised of four songs alternating between shorter and longer before arriving at 19:49 closer “The Sleeper Including Being is More than Life,” the sophomore outing is a richer, more progressive affair, with bassist SJ Harju and guitarist EJ Taipale combining their vocals effectively at the fore of the mix on “Summer’s Isle” (10:13), which follows the rolling opener “Fleeting are the Days of Man” (5:35). With a style that ultimately owes more to Witchcraft‘s tonal understatement than Reverend Bizarre‘s genre-defining traditionalism, they nonetheless shirk the trap of retroism and make an individual showing with a feel both loose and purposeful throughout. The brighter guitar work of “Desertshore” (7:01) makes it a highlight, along with the persistent crash of drummer JM Suvanto, and the freakout that emerges in “The Sleeper Including Being is More than Life” gracefully and boldly flows across the rarely-bridged gap between doom and heavy psychedelia with a naturalness that very much makes me hope it’s not another half-decade before we hear from Garden of Worm again. Garden of Worm on Thee Facebooks, at Svart Records.
Carpet, Riot Kiss 7″
Story goes that German progressive heavy rockers Carpet started writing for their third album, to follow-up on 2013’s Elysian Pleasures (review here), which was released by Elektrohasch, and wound up with some material that didn’t quite fit the concept they were going for. Since they dug it and didn’t want to just toss it, the Riot Kiss b/w Song of Heartship 7″ was born. Two songs, both a little over four minutes long, reaffirm the Augsburg four-piece’s commitment to forward-thinking textures, with “Riot Kiss” as the space-prog A-side and the quieter, atmospheric-but-still-clearheaded “Song of Heartship” emphasizing Carpet‘s range on side B, the cuts having more dynamic between them than many bands show in their career. I don’t know what Carpet – the lineup of Sigmund Perner, Jakob Mader, Hubert Steiner and Maximilian Stephan — are shooting for with their third record that these songs didn’t jibe with, and I guess we won’t know until that album arrives, but Riot Kiss is a stopgap of considerable substance that showcases Carpet‘s ability to present progressive ideas in ways not only palatable but deeply engaging. Carpet on Thee Facebooks, Elektrohasch Schallplatten.
Sporecaster, See Through Machine
An experimental drone/psych duo comprised in half by Ron Rochondo of Boston’s Ice Dragon, Sporecaster‘s debut release, See Through Machine, is four tracks/26 minutes of exploratory drone given natural breadth through use of didgeridoo and percussion. The outing was tracked at Ron’s Wrecker Service and has a lo-fi feel despite its spaciousness, and chants out its hypnotism early, opener “Invocation or Incantation” (4:20, by astounding coincidence) wrapping itself around consciousness like some kind of psychedelic serpent, only to have the whistle-blowing “Things are Not What they See” (3:21) and tribal-ish drummed “The False Light” (5:46) push deeper into the moody ambience laid out at the beginning. Closer “You are Transparent” (12:45) makes me wonder what Sporecaster might do working in even longer forms, its drone-out having room for both a jammy drum progression and a continuation of the earlier experimental and improvisational feel. As an early showing of their intent, though, See Through Machine makes it clear that Sporecaster‘s creative process is wide open. Sporecaster on Thee Facebooks, Ron’s Wrecker Service.
The Devil and the Almighty Blues, The Devil and the Almighty Blues
The slow-rolling “The Ghosts of Charlie Barracuda” (7:46) begins the self-titled debut from Oslo-based five-piece The Devil and the Almighty Blues, released on the upstart Blues for the Red Sun Records. That song picks up gradually in the first of several of the six-song full-length’s satisfying builds, but atmospherically sets a laid back tone that tracks like the subsequent “Distance” (4:11) and more active “Storm Coming Down” (10:17) play off of, the band proving equally comfortable in long- or short-form material, nestling into a neo-heavy semi-retro blues rock more in line with Graveyard‘s overarching moodiness than Witchcraft‘s early-days dooming. Well-balanced lead guitars and crooning vocals serve as a uniting theme, but in a classic dynamic, it’s the rhythm section that makes the swing of side B’s particularly thick “Root to Root” (9:48) and “Never Darken My Door” — the singing especially blown-out on the latter — so irresistibly grooved. Wrapping with the classy fuzz of “Tired Old Dog” (6:28), The Devil and the Almighty Blues will come from a familiar place sonically, but as their debut, The Devil and the Almighty Blues boasts a cohesion worthy of its weighty title. The Devil and the Almighty Blues on Thee Facebooks, Blues for the Red Sun Records.
Some of this stuff — Sumac, The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Carpet — was also included in the podcast that went up yesterday, so if you’d like another avenue for getting a sample, that might not be a bad way to go. However you choose to dig in, I hope that you will and hope that you find something that you feel is worth the time and effort.
Posted in audiObelisk on January 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Trondheim, Norway’s Spidergawd will release their second album, Spidergawd II, at the end of this month through Stickman Records (EU) and Crispin Glover Records (Norway). The special edition with poster, screened cover, etc., has sold out on preorders and it’s little wonder. Their first album (review here) was one of the best debuts of 2014, a self-titled out through the same labels that refined classic-style boogie rock with a progressive edge so that not only did the four-piece groove and shuffle their way through memorable tracks with natural sounding tones and a ’70s-inspired vibe, but they did it with a fresh take on what, in Europe for years and of late in the US as well, has become an established subgenre of heavy rock and roll. Their turns were blinding, but executed with a sense of class that was pervasive throughout the two-sided platter with its somewhat bizarre artwork.
Spidergawd II follows the theme, both in its cover — the idea seems to be to give us a sense of the artificial even as we engage something very real — and in the music contained within. The returning lineup of Per Borten, Rolf Martin Snustad, Kenneth Kapstad and Bent Sæther (the latter two also of Norwegian prog magnates Motorpsycho) push forward from what they were able to accomplish on the debut, and whether it’s the sax-laden jam of “Caereulean Caribou,” the Robert Johnson-style acoustic plucking that commences opener “…Is all She Says” or the near-KISS stomp of “Get Physical,” the album offers genuine, intelligent variety and a persistent flow that makes the shifts within and between songs not only believable — the bass-led “Our Time (Slight Return)” and Thin Lizzy strum-and-bouncer “Sanctuary” close out side B with little to no visible seams — but natural, while still keeping an element of the unexpected about them.
It’s an admirable accomplishment, if I haven’t made that plain enough, and Spidergawd II plays out its accomplishment early without relenting for its entire 42-minute span. The opener’s bluesy pulse gives way to “Tourniquet,” a catchy fuzz-blaster that’s an album highlight and should thrill newcomers and those who heard the self-titled alike. I have the pleasure today of hosting “Tourniquet” for streaming ahead of the record coming out later this month and Spidergawd embarking on a European tour in Feb. following an Jan. 16 performance at Eurosonic at Groningen in the Netherlands.
More info on the album and the band’s tour dates can be found under the “Tourniquet” player below. Please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Two years ago Spidergawd was a new entity. A band of veterans maybe, but a new band and a new sound for most people. Initially a laid back concern between friends Per Borten, Rolf Martin Snustad, Kenneth Kapstad and Bent Sæther (Motorpsycho), the music the quartet came up with soon proved itself too good to contain in a rehersal room. Starting out as a loose amalgam of blues and hard rock, the music evolved rapidly and the band soon found its own voice. Their self-titled debut album was recorded at their fifth rehersal in May 2013.
This year the Norwegian hard rock quartet is releasing their sophomore effort. Self produced and recorded at main man Per Borten’s own studio at Ler just south of Trondheim in September 2014, the album contains nine new songs that both continue and expand on the sound Spidergawd established on their first record: the blues stylings are more pronounced, the grooves are fatter, the light is lighter and the shade is deeper, and the songs are perhaps even better. One thing is for sure: the Spidergawd brand of boogie is if anything even fiercer this time around, and as their recording career gains momentum through the efforts of Crispin Glover and Stickman Records, promotors, hepcats and fans everywhere eagerly await another round of rock’n’roll goodness this spring. The web is woven, Spidergawd is on the prowl! Spidergawd brings the boogie to Norway in Ferbruary and to Europe in March. They’d love it if you gave their second album a listen while you’re waiting.
16/01 EUROSONIC, Groningen, NL 12/02 FOLKEN, Stavanger, NO 13/02 SKALA, Haugesund, NO 14/02 HULEN, Bergen, NO 19/02 LUNDETANGEN, Skien, NO 21/02 ROCKEFELLER, Oslo, NO 27/02 SAMFUNDET, Trondheim, NO 08/03 STROM, München, DE 09/03 LEGEND CLUB, Milano, IT 10/03 BAD BONN, Düdingen, CH 11/03 GASWERK, Winterthur, CH 12/03 FORUM, Bielefeld, DE 13/03 CAFÉ GLOCKSEE, Hannover, DE 14/03 SOJO, Leuven, BE 15/03 HEDON, Zwolle, NL 09/04 ROADBURN, Tilburg, NL
Posted in Reviews on December 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
This is it. New Year’s is this week and by Friday we’ll be into 2015. A new year always brings new hopes, concerns, records and so on, but to be completely honest, I’m just not quite done with 2014 yet. So here we are. I’ve had stacks of CDs on my desk and folders on my computer from the last couple months of stuff I have been trying to fit in, and it doesn’t seem right to me to let the year go without cramming in as much music as I possibly can.
Gotta call it something, so I went with “Last Licks,” since that’s basically what it will be. The plan is that between today and Friday, each day I’ll have another batch of 10 reviews. I’m not going to promise they’ll be the most comprehensive ever, but the idea is to do as much as I can and this seems to me the best way to turn my brains into goo. When that ball drops in Times Square, there’s a good chance I’ll be typing.
No sense in delaying. You get the idea, so let’s jump in:
Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today
Recorded live as their debut on Candlelight Records and the follow-up to 2011’s debut, Return to Earth (review here), the sophomore outing from Welsh heavy rockers Sigiriya, Darkness Died Today, is distinguished by a vocalist swap bringing in Matt Williams of Suns of Thunder. Williams has a tough job in replacing Dorian Walters, who like guitarist Stuart O’Hara, bassist Paul Bidmead and drummer Darren Ivey, is a former member of Acrimony. There are times when it works and times when it doesn’t. Along with a more barebones tonality in the guitar than appeared on the debut, Williams brings a more straightforward style in his voice, and it changes the personality of the band on songs like “Freedom Engines” and the first-album-title-track “Return to Earth.” “Tribe of the Old Oak” is a catchy highlight and I’ll almost never argue with a song called “Obelisk,” but it seems like they’re still searching for the footing here that seemed so firmly planted their last time out.
Upstate New York blues rockers Handsome Jack waste little time living up to the title Do What Comes Naturally. The name of their third album, released by Alive Naturalsound, is both mission-statement aand suggestion, and on songs like the soul-inflected “Creepin’” and the rolling “You and Me,” they make it sound like a good idea. Blues and classic soul meet garage rock across cuts like the relatively brief “Leave it all Behind,” but the tones are warm throughout the record, and guest spots on harmonica and Hammond help keep a sense of variety in the material, well-constructed but still loose in its vibe. The twang might recall The Brought Low for heavy rock heads, but one doubts Handsome Jack groove on much that came out after Psychedelic Mud. Even the CD splits into sides, and as easy as it would be for something like this to sound like a put-on, Handsome Jack prevail with closer “Wasted Time” in making an outing that’s anything but.
London doomers Serpent Venom sound like experts in the form on Of Things Seen and Unseen, their second album for The Church Within following 2011’s Carnal Altar and their initial 2010 demo (review here), a righteous 48-minute lumbering slab of heavy riffs, downerism and nod. It’s not every band who could put “Death Throes at Dawn” and “Lord of Life” next to each other, but the four-piece of vocalist Garry Ricketts, guitarist Roland Scriver, bassist Nick Davies and drummer Paul Sutherland keep their focus so utterly doomed that even the quiet, minimalist acoustic interlude “I Awake” – ostensibly a breather — comes across as trodden as the earlier “Sorrow’s Bastard,” or the Reverend Bizarre-worthy “Let Them Starve,” which follows. For those who long for trad doom that has an identity outside its Vitus and Sabbath influences, Serpent Venom prove more than ready to enter that conversation on the wah-soaked soloing in the second half of “Pilgrims of the Sun.” Right fucking on.
The artwork tells the story. Owl Glitters’ Alchemical Tones (on Heart and Crossbone Records) is a wash of color. Taking tribal rhythms and repetitions and pairing them with organic low-end, chanted vocals and periodic excursions of psych rock guitar, Arkia Jahani (who seems to be the lone creative force behind the project, though Mell Dettmer mastered) brings a ritualistic sensibility to the eight included pieces, and the flow is molten from the start of “Dervishes.” Less purposefully weird than Master Musicians of Bukkake, but farther into the cosmos than Om, there’s a folkish identity at the heart of Alchemical Tones that keeps the proceedings human even on the near-throat-singing of “Hakim Sanai” or “Poets of Shiras” and “Khalifa’s Visions” an immersive pair preceding the droning closer “By the Candlelight Our Eyes Welcome Glimmers of Eternity.” Beautifully experimental – and in the case of “Mindful of Gems,” fuzzed to the gills – Owl Glitters’ second outing engages sonic spiritualism with dogmatic command and stares back at you from the space within yourself.
Sandveiss released Scream Queen, their first full-length, late in 2013, reveling in a modern sound crisply produced and more than ably executed to feature the vocals of guitarist Luc Bourgeois, who provides frontman presence even on disc alongside guitarist Shawn Rice, bassist Daniel Girard and drummer Dzemal Trtak. Cohesiveness isn’t in question as opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Blindsided” rounds out its 6:26, leading the way into “Do You Really Know” and setting the tone for big-riffed Euro-style heavy from the Quebecois foursome, who slow down on “Bottomless Lies,” on which Trtak backs Bourgeois in you-guys-should-do-this-more fashion, and ultimately hold firm to the focus on songwriting that establishes itself early. They fuzz out on closer “Green or Gold,” but by then it’s another element of variety among the organ, guest vocals on “Scar” and tempo shifts on Sandveiss’ ambitious debut, distinguished even unto the six-panel gatefold digi-sleeve in which it arrives, the art and design by Alexandre Goulet one more standout factor on an album demanding attention.
Probably the most clearly Beatlesian moment on Octopus Syng’s Reverberating Garden Number 7 is a slight “Hey Bulldog”-style cadence on side A’s “Very Strange Trip,” and that in itself is an accomplishment (one I’m apparently not the first to observe). The Helsinki four-piece in their 15th year are led by guitarist/vocalist Jaire Pätäri and emit an oozing, serene psychedelia, peaceful and lysergic in late ‘60s exploratory fashion. Reverberating Garden Number 7 (on Mega Dodo Records) echoes out vibe to spare and is deceptively lush while keeping a humble vibe thanks in no small part to Pätäri’s restrained vocal approach and curios like “Cuckoo Clock Mystery,” which boasts an actual cuckoo clock to add bounce to its arrangement. Nine-minute closer “Listen to the Moths” is the single biggest surprise, and an album unto itself, but its unfolding is only the capstone on a collection of psychedelic wonder sincere in its stylistic intent and execution. It fills the ears like warm air in the lungs.
Destructive Australian trio Sun Shepherd put the bulk of Procession of Trampling Hoof to tape in 2011. Closing bonus track “Exploding Sun” is a demo from 2006, but it fits with their extended tracks and big riffs piled onto each other in densely-weighted fashion, if rougher in presentation. More Ramesses than High on Fire, who prove otherwise to be a key influence tonally for guitarist/vocalist Anson Antriasian, must-hear bassist Leigh Fischer and drummer Michael Barson, though their approach is decidedly less thrash-based. The first five of the six songs find Sun Shepherd’s first full-length a pummel-minded blend of sludge and doom. Antriasian’s vocals are semi-spoken, but fitting theatrically on “Goat-Head Awakening” with the grueling riff-led nod, the tension released as they pass the halfway point of the 10-minute run, a raw atmosphere bolstering the chaos of their slower-motion marauding. With the welcome flourish of stonerly soloing on “Engulfed by Ocean of Time,” one can’t help but wonder what the Melbourne natives are up to three years later.
Fuzz-toned elements of Sleep and Sabbath pervade the stoner-doomy self-titled The Church Within debut from Oslo three-piece Purple Hill Witch, who carry the bounce well in immediately familiar riffs and groove. Swinging drums from Øyvind and the inventive basslines of Andreas underscore Kristian’s purely Iommic riffage and blown-out vocals, somewhere between Witchcraft’s earliest going and Witch’s self-titled. If that gives Purple Hill Witch an even witchier feel, “Final Procession” sounds just fine with that, as do shorter tracks like the later “Aldebaranian Voyage (Into the Sun)” and centerpiece “Karmanjaka” on which the stoner side comes out in force. They finish by using all 11 minutes of the eponymous “Purple Hill Witch”’s runtime, breaking in the midsection for a murky exploration that’s creepily atmospheric without veering into cult rock cliché. They bounce resumes and slows to a crawl to close out, but the jam serves Purple Hill Witch well in expanding the band’s sonic reach and the album’s weedian sensibility. Not that they were keeping it a secret.
A burly dual-guitar five-piece with roots in Germany and Switzerland, Giant Sleep start out their self-titled, self-released first LP with a brief intro titled “Argos” before getting to the question, “Why am I angry all the time?” as the central, recurring line of “Angry Man.” That song, like “Henu” and “Reproduce,” gets its point across quick in heavy rock fashion and develops its argument from there, a progressive metal vibe pervading especially the latter, which is penultimate in the 10-song/52-minute effort, and underscores the high-grade craftsmanship accomplished throughout. “Dreamless Sleep” is probably my pick of the bunch for its airier tone and resonant minor-key hook in the guitars of Markus Ruf and Patrick Hagmann, vocalist Thomas Rosenmerkel belting out the chorus before making way for plotted solos atop Radek Stecki’s bass and Manuel Spänhauer’s drums, but it’s not so far removed from its surroundings. As a whole, the album could be more efficient, but it wants nothing for songwriting, and especially as a debut, Giant Sleep hits its marks readily.
Opener “Las Noches del Desierto” is the only one of Star Collider’s five tracks under 10 minutes. Flux seems to be the norm for Finnish post-stoners Acid Elephant, who recently brought in vocalist Martin Ahlö but here revolve around the core of bassist/guitarist/vocalist Miksa Väliverho, guitarist/vocalist Ilpo Kauppinen and drummer Roope Vähä-Aho, employing a host of others on obscure vocals, percussion and djembe throughout the 64-minute sophomore outing, recorded in 2012 and released late in 2013. Whoever they are now, Acid Elephant on Star Collider call out heavy psych, drone/jam and riff-based impulses in their extended cuts, gradually getting longer from “Red Carpet Lane” (10:46) until closer “Bog” hits 18:29. To their credit, their songs leave impressions to match their length, and even as it’s finishing its instrumental run, “Godmason” (15:58) is highlighting its resonant central riff, having emerged from a wash of feedback and amp noise at its beginning, preceded by the droning centerpiece “7th Stone.” Satisfying and unpredictable, Star Collider balances experimentation and engagement smoothly without losing its focus on individualism.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Yet another reason to like Enslaved: 13 albums deep, one of metal’s most brilliant progressions under their belt, and they’re still not going to shy away from throwing a “that’s what she said!” into a quote for a press release. Congratulations, you wonderful bastards. Truly a band for all seasons.
Particularly, as regards North American major markets, a band for early spring 2015. Enslaved will hit the road alongside the formidable ranks of YOB and Ecstatic Vision (wasn’t I just talking about those bands?) in support of their lucky 13th long-player, dubbed In Times. The tracklist and cover for the record have just been unveiled along with the tour dates, and you can find all of it courtesy of the PR wire below.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve already started marking the calendar for 2015. Might have to hit NYC for this one:
ENSLAVED Announces North American Headlining Tour!
The long ships will return to North America once again when Norwegian-progressive-extreme-metal-Vikings, ENSLAVED, embark on their headlining tour this upcoming March! “Some days are greater than others,” commented guitarist Ivar Bjørnson. “Announcing the release of our new album In Times at the same time as a North American tour, both in early March 2015, makes for one hell of an event horizon. We’ve had such great tours in the US and Canada the last years; we simply cannot wait to come back! Ah, this can’t get much better. Hey, wait – masters YOB has accepted our invitation to be special guests, and ECSTATIC VISION is supporting. Now, there’s an amazing package for you (that’s what she said)!”
ENSLAVED, YOB, ECSTATIC VISION 3/05/15 San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick 3/06/15 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre 3/07/15 San Francisco, CA – Slim’s 3/09/15 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater 3/10/15 Vancouver BC – Rickshaw Theatre 3/11/15 Seattle, WA – El Corazon 3/13/15 Salt Lake City, UT – Bar Deluxe 3/14/15 Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall 3/16/15 Minneapolis, MN – Mill City Nights 3/17/15 Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall 3/19/15 Toronto, ON – Opera House 3/20/15 Montreal, QC – Les Foufounes Électriques 3/21/15 New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre 3/22/15 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer 3/23/15 Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage 3/24/15 Boston, MA – Sinclair
In Times, the thirteenth studio album by ENSLAVED will be released on March 6 (Europe) and March 10, 2015 (N. America). The album was produced by band members Ivar Bjørnson, Grutle Kjellson & Herbrand Larsen together with Iver Sandøy. Mixing was completed by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden. Hand-painted artwork was created by long-time collaborating artist and “sixth ENSLAVED member” Truls Espedal.
The track listing for In Times is:
01 – Thurisaz Dreaming 02 – Building With Fire 03 – One Thousand Years Of Rain 04 – Nauthir Bleeding 05 – In Times 06 – Daylight
Main recordings for In Times took place at Duper Studios to Solslottet Studio in Bergen, Norway with additional recordings sessions at Conclave & Earshot Studios (presided over by ENSLAVED members Larsen and Ice Dale), and Ivar Bjørnson’s Peersonal Sound Studios. Additional experimentation and sonic exploration was conducted deep in the woods of Valevåg south of Bergen where a mobile studio recorded additional sounds.
Posted in audiObelisk on October 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
On Nov. 7, Oslo heavy psych rockers Spectral Haze will release their debut full-length, I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains through Soulseller Records. It’s the follow-up to a 2012 self-titled EP and their first outing to feature Thereminist/noisemaker Electric Starling, a six-track, two-sided collection of tripped out compositions, consuming in their psychedelic wash but with enough movement in the low end to keep from getting completely out of control, except, you know when that’s where they want to go.
The Norwegian fivesome of Electric Starling, guitarist/vocalist Spacewülff, guitarist Sönik Slöth, bassist Döômdögg (or at least I think that’s bass; he’s credited with “Dronemachinated AUM”) and drummer Cëlestïal Cöbra got their start in 2011, and their sound is geared for maximum swirl. On I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains, they trip out almost immediately, the three cuts on side A becoming an amorphous, molten flow that continues through the end of the 11-minute “Black Gandharvas,” and onto the relatively brief side B intro, “I.E.V. II: Observing the Centre of Infinity.” One gets flashes of Nebula at their most blissed, but the push behind the subsequent “Descent through the Intravoidal” is pure space rock, and Spectral Haze maximize that vibe with a steady undercurrent of synth and effects.
I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains culminates with the 13:45 “Triads and Trishulas,” an expansive, multi-layered jam that, if you weren’t yet lost in the album, is bound to drag your consciousness away with it into some grandiose cosmic void. Like the record as a whole, it’s a satisfying journey of well executed, full-sounding space and heavy psychedelia, layers intertwining as the jam progresses through multiple stages en route to the lysergic payoff of both itself and the five songs preceding, a crash-laden groove marking “Triads and Trishulas” as a suitable finale for the vastness before it.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting the full album for streaming. Set the controls for the heart of the fuzz, and enjoy:
[THIS STREAM HAS EXPIRED. THANKS FOR LISTENING.]
Spectral Haze‘s I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains is due out Nov. 7 via Soulseller Records on CD/LP/DL. More info at the links.
Posted in On Wax on October 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
A spirit of reverence is immediate, even before you put on the self-titled debut full-length from Norway’s Spidergawd. The vinyl — now in its third pressing, as I understand it — comes courtesy of Crispin Glover Records, and is presented in bright red, 180g form, housed in a blue transparent plastic sleeve. Already we see the interplay of color that the album itself will proffer. Its striking, thick-glossy-stock pagan-futuristic cover art follows suit, the tracklisting and recording info hidden inside, waiting to be found, and the whole package, which also includes a CD, is housed in a clear plastic sleeve that boasts the band’s logo for a layered-over effect when the put together. Spidergawd‘s music is as intricate a take as I’ve heard on ’70s-style boogie, with at-times manic progressive rhythmic turns matched to upbeat, classic heavy forward motion, and clearly the 12″ was meant to be a multi-sensory experience. Even unto how the texture of the sleeve feels in your hands, it offers more than just the audio.
The name Motorpsycho won’t be as immediately familiar to Americans as to Europeans, but the rhythm section of the long-running prog pioneers features here, bassist Bent Sæther and drummer Kenneth Kapstad joining guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Per Borten and saxophonist Rolf Martin Snustad in the Trondheim-based Spidergawd, the self-titled also boasting pedal steel from Roar Øien and trumpet from Kim Alexander Eriksen. The horns are used well beginning from side A opener “Into Tomorrow,” accenting the chorus of the album’s shortest cut without being overdone, adding to the excitement of the song itself, Borten‘s vocal command — readily on display throughout — and the instrumental chemistry between the guitar, bass and drums. “Into Tomorrow” is a forward, driving heavy rock song with an ear toward ’70s rock, but nothing on Spidergawd‘s Spidergawd is particularly retro-sounding, the production clear and full and not necessarily geared toward playing up a vintage style, though “Blauer Jubel” or “Southeastern Voodoo Lab” definitely lean more into that influence stylistically.
Even aside from Kapstad‘s gonna-put-on-a-clinic-and-still-sound-like-I’m-having-fun drumming, there’s a lot about the LP that’s easy to get into. Borten‘s guitar jangles and swaggers over Sæther‘s twisting fuzz jam, and though Spidergawd obviously have the chops to pull off the blinding shuffle of “Blauer Jubel,” technical prowess isn’t shown off at the expense of songwriting. “Master of Disguise” sees fit to out GraveyardGraveyard, a tense verse opening to a raucous, full-speed-ahead chorus of classic pursuit, and even if they hadn’t built such momentum over the course of “Into Tomorrow” and “Blauer Jubel,” the play of guitar and bass in the solo section — that low end tone — is a firm signifier these cats mean business. Still keeping a modern production, they update the best aspects of classic heavy rock and deliver a style both familiar and their own wrapped in virtuosic performance and variability, the horns returning on “Southeastern Voodoo Lab” to help round out side A in swinging fashion, pushing toward a guitar-led blues-solo apex with Kapstad pulling back to a half-time crash before once more joining the air-tight rush for a return to the verse.
A flip to side B brings more surprises in the form of the 14-minute “Empty Rooms,” an extended heavy psychedelic jam that begins with a solid minute-plus of Snustad‘s echoing sax before the guitar and bass begin to swell into the mix. Fuck, it’s righteous. They bring the volume up and hold a ringout as Kapstad‘s snare drumrolls a quick build, and Borten starts the vocals of the first verse about four minutes after the song began, backed by Sæther‘s bass. They take off from there, once again at barnburner speed, and a solo at around eight minutes in brings a tempo change to a more languid groove, the bass and guitar fuzzed out in a descending progression toward what would seem to be a finish before start-stop chugging revives the movement, bass once more serving as the foundation for the guitar and Soundgarden-gone-psych compressed vocals that carry past the 10-minute mark. A jazzy, airy, unhurried solo caps over the last couple minutes, the sax gone, pedal steel buried deep in the mix but there enough to be in conversation with Borten, and the jam gradually fades out past its 14th minute, a jarring last minute swell signaling the shift into closer “Million Dollar Somersault,” its title and its initial bassline reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age but ultimately working on a different plane, like the embodiment of everything hyper-stylized indie rockers fall short of conveying, ultra-swinging and poised even as its noisy apex approaches, fittingly grounding after “Empty Rooms” but still way, way out there, coming to a sudden finish as the needle returns, daring you to go another round.
Spidergawd have a couple singles under their belt on Crispin Glover, but this is their first full-length. One doesn’t want to get into they’re-gonna-be-huge kinds of hyperbole, both because it’s useless and because it ultimately detracts from conveying the actual value of the album, but there’s nothing Spidergawd sets out to do that its six tracks don’t accomplish, and front to back, the record breathes life into ’70s influenced heavy, showing there’s more to be done than simply trying to ape the sound as best as possible. I’ll say flat out it’s a hell of a record. If you don’t take my recommendation to heart, I hope it finds you some other way.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not to be confused with Virginian Cough-offshoot Sinister Haze, Oslo cosmic rockers Spectral Haze are gearing up to release their first album, the quizzically titled I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains next month in the UK and Europe via Soulseller Records. The four-or-five-piece made their debut in 2012 with a self-titled demo that was as spacious as it was threatening, warping stoner riffage into overdrive and coming across like a more rock-minded version of cult doom, just with rituals obscure enough to look an awful lot like drunken getdowns. Needless to say, expectations are high for the record.
The album — and no, I have no idea what the “I.E.V.” portion of the title means; the acronym has many definitions, including “Initial Entry Vehicle” — was recorded earlier this year in the band’s native Norway, and they embarked on a tour this past Spring in Portugal and Spain after finishing putting the basic tracks to tape. Over the summer, they opened for Pentagram and Pet the Preacher in their hometown, and later this month they’ll do likewise for Earthless at a show slated for Oct. 27 at Blå, once again in Oslo.
News and album art follow, reasonably fresh from the clutches of the PR wire. Get spaced:
SPECTRAL HAZE NEW RELEASE DATE
Spectral Haze was first conjured from the Void three years ago, through four sonick sorcerers residing in Oslo, Norway; Cëlestial Cöbra (Battery), Döömdogg (Bass guitar), Spacewülff (Vocals, guitars) and Sönik Slöth (Guitars). Through these last few years, Spectral Haze has undulated and grown into channeling through a fifth vessel, namely Electric Starling (Theremin, VOID). The upcoming album “I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains” follows their eponymous debut EP released in 2012 CE, and brings even more psyched out doom rock rituals.