Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
With the addition of countrymen proggers Wobbler, the lineup for Høstsabbat 2016 next month in Oslo is complete. I’m very proud to say that I’ve been invited to attend the fest this year — in a write-about-it capacity, obviously — and the flight’s not booked yet, but I’m going to do everything in my power to get there, including get my camera repaired once again. It will be my first time in Norway and I’m already nervous and excited about it.
The lineup though is so completely insane — imagine seeing Siena Root and Conan and Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus on the same bill, MaidaVale about whom I keep hearing awesome things or goddamn Slomatics, whose new album is so good — that it would be harder not to be excited at the prospect of being there to witness it. Wobbler, again, the final addition to the roster, come from Oslo and play a lush, synth-infused prog that traces its roots back to 1999. They’ve got three records out, the latest of which is 2011’s Rites at Dawn, from which you can hear the track “In Orbit” below.
I’ve also included the full lineup for Høstsabbat 2016 — Bong, Mammoth Storm, Reptile Master and all — for your perusal. It looks like it’s going to be an awesome couple of days and if you’re going, I will hope to see you there.
With the announcement of Norwegian prog-legends Wobbler, the best active prog-band in the universe, Høstsabbat 2016 has completed its line-up.
We look forward to welcoming you at Vulkan Arena in September. More information coming soon.
Høstsabbat 2016 September 16 – September 17 Vulkan Arena Vulkan 26, 0175 Oslo, Norway
Bong (UK) Conan (UK) Siena Root (SE) Truckfighters (SE) Slomatics (UK) Cult Of Occult (FR) Kollwitz (NO) Mammoth Storm (SE) Wobbler (NO) Jeremy Irons & The Ratgang Malibus (SE) Reptile Master (NO) Wild Rocket (IRL) Maida Vale (SE) Day Of The Jackalope (NO)
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Never known for being shy about stating their intentions, Darkthrone — presumably it was Fenriz, though it could’ve been Nocturno Culto as well — posted on their Thee Facebooks account that the origin of the name of their new record, Arctic Thunder, comes from a Norwegian metal band in the ’80s and early ’90s. They had this to say about it:
“To continue messages about the new album, it seems anything we do is frantically discussed. If we decide to eat some sandwiches, I am sure that 75% will be FOR and 25 against. A listening taste from the new album will appear SOON, but Now I would like to play you the band that inspired our album title ARCTIC THUNDER. I first met the people behind this band and Red Harvest in 1990 so I never saw this gig myself. They sound like a very classy heavy metal act, and this song is also a bit prog-y and epic. The vocalist struggles a bit at first but soon it is all DELIGHTFUL to my ears.”
Gotta love the bit in there about “frantic discussion” as well. They posted a video from the band that you can find on their Thee Facebooks page if you’re interested in chasing it down. Arctic Thunder is the follow-up to 2013’s The Underground Resistance (review here), features vocals solely from Nocturno Culto, and will be out Oct. 14 on Peaceville Records.
The PR wire brings artwork and info:
Darkthrone to release new album “Arctic Thunder” this October on Peaceville
“Arctic Thunder” due out October 14; cover art revealed
Norwegian duo, Darkthrone, has announced its new album, Arctic Thunder, to be released on October 14 via Peaceville. Arctic Thunder marks the band’s first new studio material since 2013’s triumphant The Underground Resistance, its most successful release in recent years.
An eclectic mix of free-spirited ’80s fueled blackened heavy metal, all executed in Darkthrone’s trademark raw and organic style, Arctic Thunder was recorded and produced by the band themselves, with the sessions conducted at Darkthrone’s old rehearsal unit, “The Bomb Shelter,” which was originally used during 1988-1990. Mastering is once again handled by Jack Control at Enormous Door.
With themes based around hate, contempt, and the inner mind and soul, and with the notable presence of Nocturno Culto on vocal duties across all songs for the first time in recent years, Arctic Thunder retains a grim atmosphere throughout the album’s eight tracks.
Stay tuned for more information on Darkthrone and Arctic Thunder, out this fall on Peaceville.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Høstsabbat 2016 is set for Sept. 16 and 17 at Vulkan Arena in Oslo, Norway. Already confirmed at the top of the current bill are Conan and Truckfighters, and newly announced as joining are UK drone improvisationalists Bong, Swedish heavy psych rockers Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, French blackened metallers Cult of Occult and native Norwegian heavy rockers Day of the Jackalope. That’s a pretty wide spectrum for a single round of fest additions to cover, but as Høstsabbat has grown over the past couple years, it’s only broadened its stylistic reach, though it seems fair to use “heavy” as a kind of universally applicable umbrella for what’s on offer.
To wit, the full lineup and new band announcements below:
September 16 – September 17 Vulkan Arena Vulkan 26, 0175 Oslo, Norway
Conan Truckfighters BONG Siena Root Cult of Occult Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus Kollwitz Mammoth Storm Slomatics Reptile Master WILD ROCKET MaidaVale Day of the Jackalope
It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally set to announce four new acts for this years edition of Høstsabbat.
First out, and for the first time in Norway, the British masters of droning doom; BONG. They’re back after a brief hiatus and returning in their original state as a power trio.
Solemn in its delivery and frightening in its implications, as masters of mesmeric drone, freeing listeners from the increasingly unfamiliar material world and mercifully trapping them in the weightlessness of Bong’s sonic void.
Expect the same Amon Duul, Ash Ra Temple Improvisational basslines, glacial tempo and crushing guitar fuzz drone tones.
Cult of Occult
Concealed from the view of the moribund mass of humanity, hidden in the darkness of the gates of Hell, waiting to spread the evil sound of the extermination of life is the most powerful and misanthropic force; Cult of Occult.
Fed by hatred, loudness and alcohol, the four headed monster of Apocalypse will destroy everything on its way with its unwavering wall of sound. Like the scream of Satan himself, the rising trio Cult of Occult, will make another first time appearance in the North.
Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus
From our beloved neighbor in the East, another Ratgang has emerged from its extremely vibrant scene. Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus rides the astral wave of psychedelic-progressive-desert rock, firmly rooted in the 70’s.
This band is the musical, northwest passage between classic rock and the unholy spirit of Pink Floyd.
They have been around, brimming in the underground for quite some time. Releasing albums on Transubstans and Small Stone Records, playing festivals such as Freak Valley and Desertfest, we’re surely in for a treat at Høstsabbat.
Day of the Jackalope
The last year, Day of the Jackalope has become a name on everyone’s lips, who’s following the underground scene in Norway. Filled with energy and groove, fusing old school 70’s bluesy rock ‘n’ roll with modern stoner rock, Day of the Jackalope are ready to get it on. Having existed for years with changing lineups in various rehearsal spaces, the band is now finally complete, the debut EP is out to rave reviews, and Day of the Jackalope is hitting the stage. Taking inspiration from bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Clutch, Church of Misery and the ever imminent collapse of human civilization, Day of the Jackalope invites you into their universe. It is a fuzzy and warm place of dark and confusing lyrical landscapes, screaming guitars and thumping rhythms.
Posted in Reviews on June 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
We continue today to make our way through The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review. Yesterday we passed the halfway point, always pivotal, and today brings another batch of 10 albums from the realms of doom, heavy rock, heavy psych, boogie rock, and beyond that I’m looking forward to digging into. I’ve been waking up early mornings all week to put these together — in bed circa 10PM, out of bed at 6AM — but it’s been worth it to see the response the posts have gotten so far and, I’ll say it once again, I hope you’ve found something you dig in what’s already out there, or if not, that by the time we wrap tomorrow something piques your interest. Let’s do it.
Quarterly Review #31-40:
The Order of Israfel, Red Robes
Swedish double-guitar four-piece The Order of Israfel make their second offering in Red Robes. Issued, like its 2014 predecessor, Wisdom, by Napalm Records, the new collection tops out at 59 minute/eight tracks of classically rolling doom. Guitarist/vocalist Tom Sutton (also Horisont, ex-Church of Misery) leads the charge for the Gothenburg-based unit, and along with guitarist Staffan Björck, bassist Patrik Andersson Winberg and drummer Hans Lilja, he brings to light a trad doom not so far removed in some of its impulses from some others throughout Northern Europe in the post-Reverend Bizarre sphere, but showing a personality of its own in the layered vocals of “Von Sturmer” and the acoustic “Fallen Children,” which follows, the choral arrangement in the earlier “The Red Robes” and the speedier “A Shadow in the Hills,” which precedes the crawling 16-minute closer “The Thirst,” its slow-nodding finish underscoring what The Order of Israfel bring of themselves to the classic form in songwriting and overall cohesion of purpose.
It’s a little bit of everything. Landskap’s aptly-titled third album, III, brings out ‘70s vibe with the organ and underlying shuffle of opener “Wayfarer’s Sacrifice,” but offers a doomier feel in the vocals and guitar, and the band go on to execute Doors-gone-prog moodiness on centerpiece “The Trick to Letting Go” and more psychedelic fuzz on the subsequent “The Hand that Takes Away.” So yeah, the London five-piece of vocalist Jake Harding, guitarist George Pan, bassist Christopher West (ex-Trippy Wicked, Groan), drummer Paul Westwood and keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou cover a good bit if ground in just five tracks, tying it all together via Harding’s vocals and a comfortable pace across the board, even on the more insistent “Awakening the Divide,” though that consistency gets toyed with some as nine-minute closer “Mask of Apathy” moves from its dreamy, spacious initial stretch into more uptempo push as payoff for the album as a whole. All the better to have Landskap shift their own methods as fluidly as they meld different styles across III’s engaging span.
If I have a speed at this point, Pooty Owldom is pretty much it. The Virginia-based duo of Matt “Big Jim” Shively and Walter Barry – also two-thirds of the trio Olson/Shively/Barry, which released their debut, Teirra del Fuego Blues (review here), in 2014 – cross the lines between psychedelia, krautrock, folk, weirdo prog and funk with the carefree fluidity of pre-jam-band Ween on their self-titled first outing under their new moniker, and hopefully it’s not the last one, because whether it’s the soap-opera daydream keys of “The Owlet” or any number of the other owl-themed cuts here – “Fuzzy Pellet” is a personal favorite, but who could argue with the bassline/piano tap of “Owls with Big Donuts?” – there’s a considerable creative breadth at work in kind with what sounds like a really good time in progress. Not one for everybody, but for me, I’d love to hear Shively and Barry flesh these ideas out further over longer pieces – “Torus Landing” goes furthest here at 4:53 – and bring the jazzy rhythmic sunbathing of “Target: Mouse” to even greater experimental realization. However it comes, more please.
A guitar/drum duo based in Cherkasy, Ukraine, Celophys issued their third album, Ammonite, last year through Robust Fellow Records. The CD arrives as yet another example of the Ukraine’s burgeoning heavy scene, along with Kiev acts like Stoned Jesus, Bomg, Soom, Mozergush, Ethereal Riffian and others, and brings a noteworthy sense of lumbering across its mostly-extended seven tracks, beginning with 12-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Baron,” which melds slow-grind sludge riffing with deathly growls and rasp, which the charmingly-named “Spaceburger” and the later drumless drone-feast “Caveman Ritual” continue to build out in atmosphere and snail’s-pace intensity. Feedback, massive tonality, plodding groove – these are hardly unfamiliar elements, but drummer/vocalist Alexander Beregovoy and guitarist Miroslav Kopeyka bring about a fervent bludgeoning across Ammonite that should have even the jaded among those who approach it nodding approval. Also noteworthy is the limited-to-53 “Nautilus Pack” which comes in a hand-carved, custom-designed oversized wood case with special graffiti art, a sticker and a pin, as well as the digipak version of the album.
Dunbarrow’s self-titled debut hits at a curious moment. They might be a few years ahead of their time in returning to the roots of vintage-style heavy rock, but in so doing, they basically take up the mantle that groups like Witchcraft, Graveyard, Kadavar and Blues Pills have left behind in favor of more modern production styles. Specifically, the Norwegian four-piece, who had a handful of shorter digital releases out before, come across in direct conversation with the self-titled Witchcraft debut from 2004. Strange to think that a record with an aesthetic so bent on looking backward could actually be forward-thinking — portrait of what goes around, coming around — but Dunbarrow offer persuasive argument in favor of retro orthodoxy in the swaying “You Knew I was a Snake” and the subdued brooding of “Guillotine.” Whether their bet pays off will be something to find out over the next couple years and as their sound continues to develop, but for their first full-length, they show clever songcraft, a clear idea of what they want to do, and the potential to move that forward in intriguing ways.
I’ll rarely hone in on one instrument throughout an album, but the bass tone on Brutus’ third LP, Wandering Blind (on Svart), has to be heard to be believed. With a goodtime take on ‘70s shuffle, there’s plenty of room for the low end to wind its way around the guitar, and it does. Of course, that’s not all the Swedish/Norwegian five-piece have going for them in these nine live-sounding tracks, as shown in the swaying solo section of “Whirwind of Madness” or the stomp of “Blind Village.” They’re not through the opening title-track before multiple Sabbath references are dropped in the lyrics, and indeed they’re a touchstone, but the more upbeat feel of “The Killer” and the back and forth of closer “Living in a Daze” play to deeper influences from classic heavy rock and its modern incarnations, culminating in a multi-layer guitar solo backed by tambourine, bass, and drums that really seems to sum up the friendly and unpretentious vibe Brutus elicit.
Finnish trio Vallihauta make their self-titled debut on Future Lunch with eight raw tracks that span between the hardcore punk/death ‘n’ roll of “Puoliverinen” and the doomed churn in the early going of “Reviiri.” One can basically tell looking at the runtimes of the cuts where Vallihauta are headed with each song, and they adjust their songwriting capably to coincide with the given tempo shifts, resulting in a back and forth as playful as it is aggressive in its sound and harsh low-end buzz, but to their credit, they bring the two approaches together effectively on closer “Ote,” shifting from the record’s most gurgling rumble and tortured plod to increasingly intense punkishness that hits headfirst into a final slowdown to end the album. A multi-faceted approach is rarely something to complain about, and it certainly isn’t here, but the challenge going forward for Vallihauta will be to build on that bridging of gaps in “Ote” without losing either the ferocity of their faster material or the weight of the slower.
The third Pater Nembrot album, Nusun (on Go Down Records), follows five years behind 2011’s Sequoia Seeds (review here), and for Italian heavy rock, it’s been a hell of a half-decade. Now recognized as one of the strongest scenes in Europe, Italy has become a hotbed and Pater Nembrot’s return couldn’t be better timed. The nine-track outing brings some genuinely expansive moments, as with the 10-minute “Architeuthis” for which Christian Peters (Samsara Blues Experiment) guests on synth, or the wah-soaked second half of “The Rich Kids of Teheran,” but even shorter pieces like “Young Rite” effectively bring together grunge and heavy psych influences. The piano-laced opener “Lostman” and acoustic-strummed closer “Dead Polygon” seem to be speaking right to each other and are somewhat at remove with the rest of the record, perhaps the minute-long bass interlude “Uknap” aside (perhaps not), but the four-piece know their game by this point and just when a song like “Overwhelmed” seems like it’s going to lose its course, they bring it around to Nusun’s most satisfying instrumental build.
Almost immediately upon the band starting “Device,” the sense of ambition in Floodlore’s debut album, When it was Written, is palpable. A psych-infused trio from Northern Virginia, they range freely between the classic-minded “Justice” and fuzzy push of “Bars” before heading back to jammier fare for “Release,” which calls to mind All Them Witches for its meandering blues, and into harder-edged winding riffs for “Evening.” Both “Peace” and “Glow” continue to flesh out one side or the other, but an obvious focal point is the three-part/28-minute closer “Sun/When the Floodlore was Written/In Praise of Alan Watts,” which starts out nodding at surf rock before space-progging out for about 20 minutes, working into an out of extended solos and culminating in swirl and thrust that lives up to the band’s clear will for exploration. Some smoothing out to do in terms of balancing the mix (vocals came through high, though I’ll allow that could be my speakers), but When it was Written impresses in concept and execution and as Floodlore’s first full-length, it’s remarkably encouraging.
When it starts to feel like maybe you’ve got a given track figured out, that seems to be the moment when Eugene, Oregon, five-piece Red Cloud turn something around on their full-length debut, Ursa Minor, and though their foundation is still very much in heavy rock, they build on that shifting into and out of desert stylizations and psychedelic swirl. The band – here guitarist/vocalist/bassist Aaron Williams, guitarist Dennis Medina, drummer/engineer Lauren Roberts and bassist/guitarist Sean Loos, though Loos seems to have left the band and bassist Mike Nemeth and keyboardist Garrett Davis come aboard – keep the material consistent by going back to that heavy rock foundation and through a clear focus on songwriting. Even in the somewhat lumbering starts and stops of “Smoke Screen,” these tracks feel worked on and carefully arranged, and though they go different places – “Ghost Dance” with its manic shuffle, closer “Sick Eagle” with its Songs for the Deaf-style drive – they universally take an efficient route to get there.
Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Who’s ready for another round of 10 reviews in The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review? I know I am. We gotta hit 50 by Friday, and there’s still a lot — a lot — of ground to cover. Yesterday was all over the place style-wise and today has some of that going as well, but there’s a lot of quality in both, so hopefully you get to check some of it out. Today is the all important QR Hump Day, wherein we pass the halfway mark on our way to the total 50 reviews. If you’re wondering, it’s Lord Vicar who do the honors this time around at #25. Just kind of worked out that way, but I’ll take it. Down to business.
Quarterly Review #21-30:
Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare
Probably fair to call Mirrors for Psychic Warfare an offshoot of Corrections House, since its two members – Scott Kelly (also Neurosis) and Sanford Parker (producer extraordinaire/also Buried at Sea) – are also in that group, but the feel of their Neurot Recordings self-titled debut is substantially different, rawer and at times harsher. Parker handles beats and electronics, creating at times a wash of abrasive noise as in the culmination of “CNN WTZ,” the centerpiece of the five tracks, and elsewhere providing an industrial backdrop for Kelly’s voice for a gothic feel, as on “A Thorn to See.” Unsurprisingly, nothing about Mirrors for Psychic Warfare makes for particularly easy listening – though opener “Oracles Hex” has some commonality with Kelly’s solo work and his voice is resonant as ever – but as they round out the album with “43,” the keys, synth and guitar find some common ground, which leaves distorted shouts from Kelly to do the work of taking listeners to task. We already knew these two worked well together, and the partnership once again bears fruit here.
The four-song Death Thy Lover EP (on Napalm) is the first new studio offering of original material from Swedish doom legends Candlemass since their 2012 album, Psalms for the Dead (review here), marked the end of the tenure of vocalist Robert Lowe, also of Solitude Aeturnus. His replacement is the person who nearly had the job in the first place, Mats Levén (formerly Therion), who has a kind of stateliness to his presence in opener “Death Thy Lover” but suits the plod of “Sleeping Giant” well. Of course, at the center of the band is bassist/songwriter Leif Edling, whose style is unmistakable in these tracks, whether it’s the late-Iommi-style riffing of “Sinister ‘n’ Sweet” or “Death Thy Lover”’s chugging its way toward the hook. Candlemass save the most grueling for last with “The Goose,” as guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson intertwine a chugging rhythm and extended soloing over dirge-march drums from Jan Lindh to give the short release a darkened instrumental finale.
Talk about scope. Oh, only a country’s entire cultural history is fair game for Skuggsjá, the brainchild of Norwegian artists Ivar Bjørnson (also Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (also Wardruna) that crosses the line between black metal and Norse traditionalism probably better than anyone has ever done it before. A Piece for Mind and Mirror is the studio incarnation of the work the two composers and a host of others did as commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, and though it’s broken into 10 movements for the album, it flows together as one orchestral entirety, the gurgle of Grutle Kjellson (Enslaved) recognizable in the eponymous track amid choral backing and a richly textured blend of traditional folk instruments and metallic thrust. The lyrics are Norwegian, but whether it’s the blowing horn of “Makta Og Vanæra (I All Tid)” or the lush melodies in the march of “Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing,” the sense of pride and the creative accomplishment of A Piece for Mind and Mirror ring through loud and clear.
Two years after making their self-titled debut, Baltimore heavy bluesfuzz trio Black Lung come swaggering back with the spacious vibes of See the Enemy (on Noisolution), which takes the establishing steps the first album laid out and builds on them fluidly and with a clear direction in mind. At eight tracks/45 minutes produced by J. Robbins, the album was clearly structured for vinyl, each half ending with a longer cut, the psych-jamming “Nerve” on side A, which resounds in an ending of scorching guitar from Adam Bufano atop the drums of Elias Schutzman (both of The Flying Eyes), and the closer “8MM,” on which Bufano, Schutzman, guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier and Robbins (who also contributes bass) roll out the record’s most massive groove and cap it with an impenetrable wall of noise. While the songs are striking in their cohesion and poise, there are moments where one wants Black Lung to really let loose, as after Trevor Shipley’s keyboard stretch in “Priestess,” but they have other ideas, feeding the title-track directly into “8MM” with no less a firm sense of control than shown earlier. All told, an excellent follow-up that deserves broader consideration among 2016’s finer offerings.
Offered through The Church Within Records as a paean to classic doom, Lord Vicar’s third LP, Gates of Flesh, nonetheless almost can’t help but put its own mark on the style. The Turku, Finland, outfit’s first album in five years, it finds guitarist Kimi Kärki (ex-Reverend Bizarre, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, etc.), vocalist Chritus (also Goatess, ex-Saint Vitus, Count Raven, etc.), and drummer Gareth Millsted (ex-Centurions Ghost) — who, along with Kärki, also contributed bass after the band parted ways with Jussi Myllykoski and prior to adding Sami Hynninen as a temporary replacement — bold enough to shift into minimalist spaciousness on “A Shadow of Myself,” and really, they’re not through opener “Birth of Wine” before Kärki executes a gorgeous dual-layered solo. Trace those roots back to Trouble if you must, but there’s no question to whom the lurch of centerpiece “Breaking the Circle” or the sorrowful 10-minute closer “Leper, Leper” belongs, and the same holds true for everything that follows, be it the quiet start of “A Woman out of Snow” or the swinging second half of “Accidents.” Lord Vicar enact the doom of ages and take complete ownership of the sound, thus only adding to the canon as they go.
Like the stench of rotting, Dakessian’s The Poisoned Chalice provokes a visceral and physical response. The long-in-the-making debut release from the Portland-based duo of vocalist Kenny Snarzyk (also Fister) and multi-instrumentalist Aaron D.C. Edge (Lumbar, Roareth, so many others) had its music recorded back in 2013, and the vocals were added earlier this year, throat-searing screams and growls that top the noisy, claustrophobically weighted tones from Edge’s guitar. The onslaught is unrelenting, both longer songs like “Demons” and “Ten Double Zero” and shorter cuts “Nothing Forever” and the sample-laced opener “Choose Hate” brim with aggressive misanthropy, the will against. Even the penultimate “Baerial,” which offers a glimmer of melody, continues to crush, and starting with a slow drum progression, closer “Cosmic Dissolution” barely tops two and a half minutes, but it brings thorough reassurance of the project’s destructive force before its final drone rounds out. One never knows with Edge if a given band will ever have a follow-up, but as ever, the quality is consistent. In this case, brutally so.
Actually, if you want to get technical about it, Gypsy Chief Goliath are citizens of Ontario, but you’d never know it from listening to their third album, Citizens of Nowhere, which if you had to pin a geographic locale on it might be more of a fit for New Orleans than Canada. The Pitch Black Records release sees the triple-guitar-plus-harmonica six-piece outfit dug deep in Southern metal grooves, marked out by the burl-bringing vocals of frontman/guitarist Al “The Yeti” Bones, formerly of Mister Bones, Serpents of Secrecy and The Mighty Nimbus and the chug-and-churn of cuts like “Black Samurai” and the shuffle of “We Died for This.” The title-track winds its central riff with thickened-up ‘70s boogie, while “Elephant in the Room” and “The Return” space out a bit more, and the closing Black Sabbath cover “Killing Yourself to Live” (a CD bonus track) plays it loyal structurally while dude’ing up the original like it was on hormone therapy.
Hard-touring Richmond genre-benders Inter Arma are due for a landmark release. Their 2014 single-song EP, The Cavern, was wildly well received and earned every bit of praise it got. Their follow-up to that is Paradise Gallows, their third album and second for Relapse behind 2013’s Sky Burial (track stream here). Is Paradise Gallows that landmark? Hell if I know. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mikey Allred, who also guests on trombone, bass violin, organ and noise, Inter Arma’s third brings an expansive 70 minutes of bleak progressivism, conceptually and sonically broad enough to be considered brilliant and still weighted enough that the prevailing vibe is extremity in their blend of sludge, doom, black metal, post-metal, atmospherics, and a moody acoustic closer. The only real danger is that it might take listeners time to digest – because it’s a lot to take in, all those twists and turns in “Violent Constellations,” particularly after the plod of the title-track – but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find Inter Arma inhabiting any number of year-end lists for 2016. Once again, they earn it.
Virginian bruisers Helgamite manage to cover a deceptive amount of sonic ground on their second LP, Hypnagogia (on CD through Lost Apparitions with vinyl soon on Flesh Vessel), spending plenty of time in dense-toned sludge metal but using that as a foundation for a wider range of explorations, winding up in blastbeats by the time 13-minute side B finale “The Secret” comes around, but by then having torn through the aggro-thrash of “Origins,” lumbered through the mosher “Æstrosion” and topped off “Shaman’s Veil” with math-metal guitar fits melded to a saxophone arrangement. Growls from vocalist William Breeden and Jonah Butler’s drums tie it all together as guitarist Casey Firkin (also sax) and bassist Matthew Beahm pull off intermittently jazzy runs, but impressively, Helgamite never sound in danger of losing sight of the songs they’re serving, and Hypnogogia is stronger for its unwillingness to waste a second of its runtime, even in the aforementioned “The Secret” or its 10-minute side A counterpart, “Snowdrifter.”
Get it? Children of the Chron? I’ll admit it took me a second. While I was thinking about it, Allston, Massachusetts, duo Mollusk doled out sludge-punk-metal beatings via raw tones and shouts and a general sense of checked-out attitude, “Glacier” reminding of earliest, least-poppy Floor, but cuts like “Demon Queen” and “When You’re Gone” finding guitarist Hank Rose using a purposefully monotone vocal approach that works well over slower parts. Rose is joined in Mollusk by drummer Adam O’Day, and though I’ve already noted that the 11-track album is raw, their sound wants nothing for impact in the low end or any other end for that matter. Rather, the harsher aspects become part of the aesthetic throughout Children of the Chron and the band successfully navigates its own mire without getting lost in either its own “Torture Chamber” or “Zombie Apocalypse,” which like opener “Ride the #9,” is almost certainly a song about life in the Boston area.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re not familiar with the phrase memento mori, which also serves as the title of Sahg‘s upcoming album, out Sept. 23 on Indie Recordings, it’s basically a reminder of death. The actually-Latin equivalent of Game of Thrones‘ “valar morghulis.” Similar to the cover art below, a memento mori often appears in paintings as the top of a skull, either in the background or foreground, sometimes acknowledged, sometimes not, but like death itself, always lurking. You get the idea.
For the Norwegian band, Memento Mori will serve as their fifth full-length after a numerically-numbered initial trio of records between 2006 and 2010 and 2013’s Delusions of Grandeur, and with the touted progressive feel and more metal vibes this time around, it should be interesting to hear how far they’ve come since their more classically rocking earlier works.
From the PR wire:
SAHG – MEMENTO MORI – NEW ALBUM SEPTEMBER 23RD
In a time when threats of religious hostility and environmental decay loom heavily over the world, we have no choice but to acknowledge the inevitability of death. Not only does it spread fear, stigma and hatred, but it also reminds us of the grasp our own mortality has on us. Death is just a heartbeat away and our fear of the unknown is apparent now more than ever. Thus the title Memento Mori (Latin: remember that you must die).
For a long while, the album title remained undecided.
“Memento Mori was one of several options that we had on note for a long time. But then Lemmy died. And Bowie died. And all of a sudden, all these rock icons disappeared, one by one. People that have made their imprint on history and influenced us musically since childhood. It made a great impression on a personal level, and started a grieving process that influenced the making of the album. Suddenly it was very clear what the album title would be. ‘Remember, you must die.’ Even immortal legends like Bowie and Lemmy don’t live forever”, comments singer, guitarist and songwriter Olav Iversen.
Musically the album dwell in a heavier landscape than its predecessor, Delusions Of Grandeur, with metal infused heavy rock containing clear progressive elements. The voices of Olav Iversen and Tony Vetaas are more present and insistent than ever.
1. Black Unicorn 2. Devilspeed 3. Take It To The Grave 4. Silence The Machines 5. Sanctimony 6. (Praise The) Electric Sun 7. Travellers Of Space And Light 8. Blood Of Oceans
The new Sahg album, Memento Mori, will be out on Indie Recordings, September 23rd.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Norwegian kickers-of-ass Spidergawd have a new bassist in the form of Hallvard “The Kid” Gaardløs, who joins the band in place of Bent Sæther. It’s a significant move in part because Sæther has recorded all three to-date of Spidergawd‘s albums — the latest of them, Spidergawd III (review here), came out this past winter through Stickman and Crispin Glover Records and was no less brilliant than its predecessors — and because Sæther is a member of long-running progressive outfit Motorpsycho.
Maybe studio work taking extra time and things like that are also a factor in addition to playing in the two groups, but from what I hear, drummer Kenneth Kapstad, who was also in Motorpsycho, has left that band, so there are multiple shifts on multiple levels. Either way, Spidergawd seem to be continuing on well enough and I doubt at this point there’s much that could derail them from getting another LP out at the start of 2017. At least that’s what I’m hoping for. Keep the count going.
Fresh from an appearance at Freak Valley 2016, they have a few Euro fest dates booked for the rest of the summer, which you’ll find under their announcement below making it official with Gaardløs:
As you all know we introduced Hallvard Gaardløs aka. The Kid on bass for the Spidergawd III release tour, as Bent was busy with Motorpsycho work.
Well, there is no sign of less work for both bands in the future, so after three albums with Bent we now introduce Hallvard The kid Gaardløs as the new bassplayer in Spidergawd!
For those who didn’t meet the bass prodigy from Toten, Norway, yet definitely have something to look forward to. Not only is he an excellent musician, but also the most charming kid ever. We’re sure he’d be happy for a little welcome applause.
That said, we’d like to thank Bent for all the great music we’ve made together, all the fun tours and gigs we’ve laughed our way through, and, as we always state; made it possible for Spidergawd to reach out to all of you in such a short time.
We will drink an underberg on that one soon enough.
Some more festivals this summer, and more to come!
Better sleep with one eye open!
11/06 Skien live, NO 24/06 Down The Rabbit Hole, NL 08/07 Måkeskrik, NO 09/07 Ranglerock, NO 21/07 Vinjerock, NO 23/07 Fjellparkfestivalen, NO 28/07 UTKANT, NO 30/07 Rock im Wald, DE
Unless you plan to spend the rest of your morning/afternoon going through the animated works of Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu — beats working — I can almost completely guarantee that nothing else you watch will be of the particular weirdo ilk that Virus‘ “Rogue Fossil” video inhabits. The song comes from Memento Collider, which is the Norwegian trio’s fourth album and first in a half-decade, out June 3 via Karisma Records, and like Chioreanu‘s artwork accompanying it, “Rogue Fossil” isn’t quite like anything else out there, with its darkened swirl, vigilant sonic individuality and an angularity and catchiness to its hook that in most hands would be completely at odds and yet, for Virus, feels like home.
I was fortunate enough to see the band play last year and they closed with “Rogue Fossil.” The aforementioned hook was immediately recognizable on hearing it in the studio version with the new video, and while Virus aren’t necessarily beholden to one structure or anything else in their experimentalist metal, they are one of those bands you always know when you’re hearing. Doesn’t sound like anything else, must be Virus. I haven’t heard the entirety of Memento Collider yet, but if you’re unfamiliar with them, they’ve honed a kind of heavy progressive rock out of post-blackened atmospheres and they play it with jazzy fluidity. If that sounds all over the map, it should. That’s pretty clearly the whole idea when it comes to these guys.
Album info and preorder links follow the video below.
Virus, “Rogue Fossil” official video
In advance of the release of their fourth full-length, Memento Collider, Norwegian avant-garde rockers/recent Karisma Records signees, VIRUS, today issue the official new video accompaniment to the track “Rogue Fossil.”
The twisted, animated clip was created by renowned Romanian multi-media artist Costin Chioreanu, who says of his new creation for the pioneering experimental rockers, “I went beyond all my boundaries and I have a feeling I touched a bit of insanity. You know that it’s going to be something unique.” Having made his mark not only as a graphic artist, but also as a stage artist, musician, animator, and movie maker at a relatively young age, Chioreanu’s visual manifestation for VIRUS is the latest in a series of collaborations with artists from Karisma Records, and its sister label Dark Essence Records.
Set for release on Karisma Records on the 3rd of June, Memento Collider was recorded at the Amper Tone Studios in Oslo and includes a guest appearance from Voivod’s Dan Mongrain. It is, without a doubt, an album that demonstrates the true essence of progressive rock. To preorder Momento Collider on CD or vinyl go HERE. For digital orders, go HERE.