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The Top 20 of 2016 Year-End Poll — RESULTS!

Posted in Features on January 1st, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster

top 20 year end poll results

The poll is closed, the results are counted and the top 20 albums of 2016 have been chosen. Hard to argue with the list as it’s shown up over the course of the past month, so I won’t try. Instead, let me just say thanks to incredible amount of participants who contributed this year.

All told, between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, 612 people added their picks to the proceedings, compared to 388 in last year’s poll. Considering how much that number blew my mind on Jan. 1, 2016, I’m sure you can imagine how I feel about adding another 200-plus lists to the pot. In short, I’m astounded, deeply humbled and so, so, so grateful. I feel like we got enough of a sampling this year to give a genuinely representative showing for where people’s heads have been at, so thank you if you were a part of it.

Thank you as well as always to Slevin for running the poll’s back end and tabulating the results. As ever, the weighting system is one in which a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. You’ll find that list (plus some honorable mentions) below, followed by the raw-vote tally.

And after the jump, as has become the tradition, are the full lists of everyone who submitted, alphabetized by name. I’m in there too. It’s a huge amount to wade through, and even if you thought you heard everything in 2016, it should be more than enough to keep you busy for the next year.

One last note: I’m no statistician. Please allow for these numbers to change over the next couple days on some small level.

Let’s go:

Top 20 of 2016 — Weighted Results

wo fat midnight cometh

1. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (375 points)
2. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow (368)
3. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (324)
4. Asteroid, III (302)
5. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil (295)
6. Gozu, Revival (274)
7. Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (253)
8. King Buffalo, Orion (244)
9. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (238)
10. Conan, Revengeance (232)
11. Cough, Still They Pray (228)
12. Holy Grove, Holy Grove (218)
13. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (213)
14. Truckfighters, V (206)
15. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (200)
16. Khemmis, Hunted (192)
16. Red Fang, Only Ghosts (192)
17. Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows (181)
18. Witchcraft, Nucleus (174)
19. Opeth, Sorceress (173)
20. Church of Misery, And then there Were None (159)

Honorable mention to:
Causa Sui, Return to Sky (157)
Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management (157)
Black Mountain, IV (148)
Mos Generator, Abyssinia (144)
Wretch, Wretch (140)

Look at those tallies for number one and two. That race was close all month. Wo Fat kept out front for the most part, but Greenleaf kept it interesting and Elephant Tree’s debut snuck in there at third, which I love to see, both because it’s their first album and because that record was indeed so great. King Buffalo, another debut, also made the top 10, underscoring those two as bands to watch, and though Brant Bjork, Conan, Asteroid, Neurosis, Gozu and Mars Red Sky might be more expected names, they still certainly delivered excellent records, so again, nothing to fight with here. Things flesh out a bit in the 10-20 range, but I don’t think there’s one album on this list you could call is “miss.”

Top 20 of 2016 — Raw Votes

wo fat midnight cometh

1. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (109)
2. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow (92)
3. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil (87)
4. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (82)
5. Asteroid, III (80)
6. Gozu, Revival (76)
7. Conan, Revengeance (73)
8. Cough, Still They Pray (70)
9. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (68)
10. King Buffalo, Orion (67)
11. Truckfighters, V (62)
12. Red Fang, Only Ghosts (61)
13. Khemmis, Hunted (60)
14. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (59)
14. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (59)
15. Holy Grove, Holy Grove (58)
16. Church of Misery, And then there Were None (53)
17. Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows (49)
17. Witchcraft, Nucleus (49)
18. Opeth, Sorceress (47)
19. Mos Generator, Abyssinia (45)
20. Black Mountain, IV (44)
20. Causa Sui, Return to Sky (44)
20. Wretch, Wretch (44)

Honorable mention to:
Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management (43)
Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light (43)
Geezer, Geezer (41)
Crowbar, The Serpent Only Lies (41)
Gojira, Magma (37)
Slomatics, Future Echo Returns (36)
Graves at Sea, The Curse that Is… (35)
Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy (33)
Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae (32)
Vokonis, Olde One Ascending (31)

Left a few more honorable mentions in the raw-vote count, just for fun and so you could get more of a feel beyond the top 20 itself, which you’ll notice has a couple ties in it as the raw votes usually do and reorganizes a bit from the weighted results. One and two remain the same, however, and in the same order, and you’ll see Wo Fat was the only album that scored more than 100 votes on its own. As a whole, there were over 2,400 separate entries for albums this year, which is by far the most spread out that the voting has ever been. Frankly, with so many people involved and such a variety of stuff being voted on, I’m amazed anyone managed to agree on anything at all, but of course they did and once again a stellar list is the result.

Well, Happy New Year.

Before I go, thanks again to Slevin for the work put into running the back end of this site and this poll particularly. I show up with the finish lists, but it’s his code that makes it happen, and his efforts are appreciated more than I can say. Dude has never asked me for anything in the nearly eight years I’ve been a constant pain in his ass.

After the jump, you’ll find everybody’s list, alphabetized by name. Please enjoy browsing. I hope you find something awesome, because there’s certainly plenty in there that qualifies, and if you see something that looks like it appears often enough that it should be included in one or both of the counts above, let me know in the comments.

Thanks.

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audiObelisk Transmission 059

Posted in Podcasts on November 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download

 

I’ve listened to it front to back and I can honestly say this is the best podcast I’ve made in the last five months. Truth be told, I know there are plenty of people who do podcasts as their primary outlet, talk on them and whatnot (hey, I tried it once and reserve the right to do it again at some point), but if it’s between crossfading feedback from one song to another and writing a review of a new record, well, crossfading falls into the same category as just about everything else: Write first.

Fortunately, a longer span of time between casts makes it that much easier to pick tracks. Existence does not hand you a 45-minute Øresund Space Collective jam every day, so I thought that was worth featuring, and I just got Megaritual’s new vinyl for review, so I thought featuring their more recent single-song EP would work well too.

I’m happy with the blend overall, and with Asteroid setting the tone. Be patient with it. Let it unfold. Even with a rocking start, it gets pretty psychedelic pretty quickly, and only continues to move further out. My advice is go with it and see where you end up.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Asteroid, “Them Calling” from III
0:05:02 Stinkeye, “Orange Man” from Llantera Demos
0:08:31 Hornss, “Prince of a Thousand Enemies” from Telepath
0:11:36 Ice Dragon, “Broken Life” from Broken Life
0:16:08 Wasted Theory, “Odyssey of the Electric Warlock” from Defenders of the Riff
0:20:59 Pelander, “True Colour” from Time
0:29:41 The Freeks, “Blow Time Away” from Shattered
0:34:26 Baby Woodrose, “Freedom” from Freedom
0:37:27 Comacozer, “The Mind that Feeds the Eye” from Astra Planeta
0:45:21 Mos Generator, “Outlander” from The Firmament
0:51:13 Megaritual, “Eclipse” from Eclipse

Second Hour:

1:16:25 Øresund Space Collective, “Visions Of…” from Visions Of…

Total running time: 1:58:36

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 059

 

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Pelander, Time: Colour and Irony

Posted in Reviews on October 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

pelander-time

It’s fitting somehow that Time should ask more questions than it answers. Six years ago, Witchcraft frontman and retro heavy rock innovator Magnus Pelander (also previously of Örebro forebears Norrsken) issued his four-song solo outing, titled simply EP, on Svart Records. It was an intricate, intimate and progressive offering, if short, and the context in which it arrived was wholly different from that which sees Time arrive via Nuclear Blast.

In 2010, it had already been three years since Witchcraft‘s third album, The Alchemist added elements of classic prog to the vintage stylization of 2005’s sophomore effort, Firewood, which had already cleaned up the band’s presentation from the live-feeling rawness of their 2004 self-titled debut (discussed here); still a landmark in helping define the tenets its subgenre continues to follow.

In 2016, in addition to Pelander taking his last name for a solo moniker as he puts forth the six-song/37-minute Time, Witchcraft released their fifth LP, the sprawling, fully-modernized, 69-minute Nucleus (review here), building on the massive shift in lineup and crisper production style that their 2012 return and Nuclear Blast debut, Legend (review here), began.

All the more curious, then, that Time should arrive with such stripped-down, minimal arrangements — a sweet combination of guitars, strings and voices on “The Irony of Man,” or the UK-style folk flute on opener “Umbrella,” or Pelander and his accompanying guest vocalist backed by acoustic guitar, bass and simple, intermittent percussion on the closing title-track — bearing his name as its banner, since it’s so far removed from the direction his songwriting has taken over the course of the last half-decade. Maybe that’s the point.

One way or another, Time presents the most willfully organic production in which Pelander has taken part at least since Firewood if not since Witchcraft‘s self-titled. I’m reasonably sure that isn’t how he’d want it measured, but it’s true nonetheless. Beginning with the warm welcome of “Umbrella”‘s folksy balladry and classic lyrical patterning — “Never thought I,” and so on — the album holds to a clean but natural sound that, at least in some degree, still translates to a full-band fullness. That is, though parts are quiet, minimalist, rarely is Pelander actually sounding alone on this solo album.

There’s flourish of violin and the aforementioned flute and backing vocals to go with the guitar, bass and percussion working under his lead on “Umbrella,” and a quick ’60s-style psychedelic electric guitar solo even shows up briefly before the acoustic guitar takes the fore once again in a final movement that seems to be referencing Black Sabbath‘s “Sweet Leaf.” Bottom line is it’s not like all Time is working from is Magnus Pelander and an acoustic guitar, but it has an intimate vibe in part due to personal-feeling lyrics like “Family Song,” which directly names mother, father, brother, sister and self as characters early on to a humble strum and some sweet fret work setting up a powerful vocal push as the track moves into its second half.

Some kind of keys — might just be piano — are introduced briefly but not out of place in their coming and going before the last verse section, and “Family Song” ends with a quieter feel, suitable for the transition into the soft open of “The Irony of Man.” The aforementioned backing vocals — I don’t know accompanies Pelander throughout, but her harmonies add enough to the tracks on which she appears that I’d give credit if I could — and another showcase of melodic prowess, this time over a more melancholic instrumental arrangement, driven once more by acoustic guitar but building outward with strings as it moves through toward the two longest cuts on Time, “True Colour” and “Precious Swan.”

pelander-1

Between them, “True Colour” (8:57) and “Precious Swan” (9:53) comprise more than half of the total 36:50 runtime of Time, and with Pelander having proved his mettle in structure and creating a full-album flow across five Witchcraft full-lengths, it’s hard to imagine their placement next to each other is an accident.

Back to back, they make for the most immersive section of the record — admittedly less if you get the version with the bonus track “Rebecka” — broadening the context with Spanish-style guitar and more active percussion before the halfway point of “True Colour” only to dip back into the quiet verse like nothing ever happened before stretching out with broader strumming, progressive string turns in the back end and a subtle, wistful finish with a ticking clock at close. The play in “Precious Swan” is “precious one.” The song starts with that line and individually plucked notes to set up a patient development that, once it starts unfolding with the drawn violin and more forceful vocals, does not seem to stop.

Tension rises with electric guitar leading to start-stop bass and far-back swirl of guitar that fades out to let piano and acoustics take hold at the halfway mark, building in volume and arrangement to a noisy cacophony that, at 6:29, finally cuts to let a strummed electric guitar play the central line of the song. Then, only then, does the acoustic figure return, Pelander once again crooning “precious one” or “precious swan,” whichever it might be. Strings come back in the instrumental meandering that follows, and there’s a sample of a woman singing in what seems to be Swedish — unsure who or when, but regardless the sense of nostalgia is palpable.

That emotional resonance would seem to stand in direct contrast to the actual last lines of the album, in which Pelander, with an audible sigh, declares, “I don’t want to live here/My enemy is time.” This comes after clever plays off words that rhyme with the title, delivered in succession, a flash of percussion, and a final guest vocal appearance that seems to tie everything together as it gives way to the final movement of subdued acoustic guitar that closes the song and the record as whole.

In its last moments, Time brings listeners back to that sense of asking questions. We don’t, in the end, know whether time is an enemy or an ally, as “Precious Swan” might lead one to believe. We don’t know whether it’s a sense of looking back on his career that caused Pelander to revive this solo-project, or if the very sound of Time itself is an acknowledgement of the role that notions of the bygone have played out in his work aesthetically over the course of his career.

And we don’t know how, or if at all, Magnus Pelander will continue to develop Pelander as an entity separate from Witchcraft, or if Time is a one-off as collections of its ilk sometimes can be; a collection of tracks accumulated over some measure of time — there’s that word again — that he felt it was finally time to get out of his system. All of these things, and more, have yet to be answered, but there’s value in the asking, and for as much as it revels in the uncertain, Pelander‘s Time is guided by the surest of hands.

Pelander, “The Irony of Man”

Witchcraft on Thee Facebooks

Witchcraft on Twitter

Pelander at Nuclear Blast

Nuclear Blast on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Blues Pills, Arctic, Major Kong, Hands I Annul Yours, Storm Ross, Sinister Haze, Love Gang, Nap, Manthrass, Astral Cult

Posted in Reviews on October 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Today we hit the halfway mark on the Fall 2016 Quarterly Review. Always an occasion worthy of song — or, you know, another batch of 10 records — which happens to be precisely the plan. We pick up much where we left off yesterday in working across a broad spectrum of heavy, and though there are some major releases in here as seems to be the case increasingly, please make sure to note some of the deeper underground stuff as well, whether it’s Hands I Annul Yours or Astral Cult, as nothing here is included by mistake. Some of this I’m late on, some of it isn’t out yet, but all of it is pretty current, so if there’s something here you’ve missed, bigger name or smaller, I hope you get some use out of the lot of it. Here goes.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Blues Pills, Lady in Gold

blues-pills-lady-in-gold-700

Blues Pills – like their Nuclear Blast labelmates in Witchcraft, Graveyard and Kadavar before them – have modernized. Their second album behind what became a landmark self-titled debut (review here) in 2014, Lady in Gold arrives with a slick production casting off the vintage vibes while holding onto classic sensibility and rightfully continuing to feature the soulfulness of vocalist Elin Larsson, joined in the band by guitarist Dorian Sorriaux, bassist Zack Anderson (ex-Radio Moscow) and drummer André Kvarnström (ex-Truckfighters). Its 10 tracks/40 minutes are unmistakably pop in their construction, and deftly, complexly arranged, and play to an alternative vision of commercial accessibility in rock that I’m not sure exists anymore even in Europe. Or needs to for an album like Lady in Gold to be successful. As they weave into and out of gospel and R&B conventions, Blues Pills take a bold step away from what one might have expected coming off their debut and ultimately define themselves precisely through that boldness. Whether that works for them in the longer term will have to remain to be seen. For now, Lady in Gold can be jarring at first, but one would be hard pressed to come up with something else out there that sounds quite like it.

Blues Pills on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast website

 

Arctic, Arctic

arctic-arctic-700

Los Angeles three-piece Arctic make their entry into Southern California’s crowded sphere of heavy/psychedelic rock with their self-titled debut on Outer Battery Records. To call them skate rock seems fair enough, since guitarist Justin “Figgy” Figueroa (also Harsh Toke), bassist Don “The Nuge” Nguyen and drummer Frex are all professional skateboarders, but the core of Arctic’s five-track/half-hour-flat runtime is in mixing classic stoner impulses with heavy psych jamming. Most of the record is instrumental, including 8:51 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Over Smoked,” but vocals pop up to surprise on centerpiece “Burnt Ice” and return again in form drawled enough to justify their having called the nodding closer “High” as they do. At very least they make it believable. Between the dankness throughout, the guitar-led fuzz boogie of “Cryptic Black Sun,” the natural vibes, the Arik Roper cover art and the utter lack of pretense, Arctic summarize much of the appeal of the West Coast’s current heavy movement, and so, should have no trouble continuing to make their name as part of it.

Arctic on Thee Facebooks

Outer Battery Records

 

Major Kong, Brave New Kong

Robot

Three new tracks from Poland’s Major Kong is nothing to complain about. The Lublin trio have been not-at-all-quietly stomping out quality riffs for more than half a decade now, and with “Energy Whip,” “Escape from the Holodeck” and “Pollution Halo,” the instrumentalists are in and out of Brave New Kong in under 14 minutes, working quickly and efficiently with a crisp but still thick production that pulls away from some of the focus on crush from late last year’s Galactic Cannibalism EP (review here). That may well be the Brave New Kong to which the title refers, or it’s entirely possible they’re just having fun with their own moniker – subsequent offerings will tell the tale – but Major Kong continue to be a well-kept secret for Poland’s fertile heavy underground, and if nothing else, they sound like a group due for a third full-length album, which will hopefully arrive sooner than later.

Major Kong on Thee Facebooks

Major Kong BigCartel store

 

Hands I Annul Yours, Year of Death

hands-i-annul-yours-year-of-death-700

One could make the argument that given the swath of cultural icons passed away, 2016 is the Year of Death to which Hands I Annul Yours are alluding to in the title of their latest Major Destroyer Records three-song tape, but aside from the fact that they specify it was 2013, one seriously doubts they give a shit about famous people dying. Beginning with the drone and feedback noise of “Year of Death Part I,” the cassette moves into a 19-minute stomp and crush that’s as misanthropic as it is weighted, and much as there is one, the prevailing sentiment is less reflecting on loss than it is rolling out claustrophobic heft. Fair enough. Following the tape-only “Verloren,” “Year of Death Part II” boasts more sample manipulation and a discernible lead from the guitar, but finds its way toward abrasion as well, rounding out Year of Death with a dissolution into feedback that would seem to bring it full circle.

Hands I Annul Yours on Bandcamp

Major Destroyer Records website

 

Storm Ross, Welcome, Sunshine

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Fortunately, the fact that Storm Ross named the opening track of Welcome, Sunshine “We Need to be Fugazi Now, More than Ever” is only the start of the 37-minute/10-track LP’s experimentalist charms. The follow-up to the Michigan-based guitarist’s 2014 return full-length, The Green Realm (review here), this new collection finds Ross himself once again making his way through soundscapes manic and pastoral with like ease, and as one piece feeds into the next on “Please Don’t Kill My Family” and “Benzie County Farm Fire, 1973” or the synth-infused, tech-shredding “Atheon” fading into the penultimate post-rock drift of “The Smiler” later (think Dylan Carlson solo gone sentimental for the West, plus a late uptick of noise), the sense of Welcome, Sunshine as a whole work is even more palpable than was the last outing, even as Ross jumps from one style to another or incorporates keys, percussion, etc., following various whims toward a universally progressive payoff. Limited to 300 copies on yellow vinyl or on cassette through Already Dead Tapes and Records.

Storm Ross on Thee Facebooks

Storm Ross on Bandcamp

 

Sinister Haze, Laid Low in the Dust of Death

STB_SINISTER_Cover

Virginian doomers Sinister Haze follow-up their 2015 debut EP, Betrayed by Time (review here), with the raw and scummed up Laid Low in the Dust of Death LP on STB Records. Recorded by Chad Davis (Hour of 13), it’s their first outing to feature Naam’s Eli Pizzuto on drums, and they do trip out a bit on guitar, but if you’re thinking slow space rock here you’ve got the wrong picture. Guitarist/vocalist Brandon Marcey (ex-Cough) and bassist/vocalist Sam Marsh lead the charge – the low-end is particularly satisfying in its roll throughout – and fellow newcomer JK (Lost Tribe) adds to the mix as well, so the spirit of Laid Low in the Dust of Death is bare-bones and classic, but positively covered in its titular dust. And maybe one or two other kinds. Six tracks split easily onto two sides, Sinister Haze’s first full-length outing comes across as a reaction against cleanliness in doom – call it gutter doom – flowing in its 12-minute closer “A Buried Dream,” but still clearly from the gut.

Sinister Haze on Thee Facebooks

STB Records BigCartel store

 

Love Gang, Love Gang

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The flute-laden heavy rock with which Denver’s Love Gang open their debut EP might stand among the best outcomes of Colorado’s marijuana legalization. A four-piece with a full sound only enhanced by the organ/woodwind work of Leo Muñoz, Love Gang self-release their first outing as four tracks that sap classic prog of its pretense and offer ‘70s heavy chemistry without leaning on vintage production. Guitarist/vocalist Kam Wentwork, bassist Grady O’Donnell and drummer Shaun Goodwin, together with Muñoz, get down to business on “Can’t Seem to Win” and the instrumental “Lonely Man,” go bluesy on “Highway” and boogie to a finish in “Sands of Time,” all the while sounding ready in their songcraft and execution for whatever label might come calling to stand behind their work. It’ll be somebody. Some bands take time to develop into their own sound, and some break the doors down out of the gate. Love Gang are the latter. Whenever they get around to a first full-length, I hope they remember to weird out a little bit.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Love Gang on Bandcamp

 

Nap, Villa

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Though five of the eight tracks on Nap’s debut, Villa, have words at one point or another, it’s probably still fair to note the psych-inflected German trio as a mostly-instrumental outfit. The lyrics, when they’re there, arrive in short verses, lines included it seems more to create the impression of a human presence rather than affirm a structure. They are vague in theme for the most part, but there, though there isn’t a song in the bunch that goes as far as a chorus. No complaints. Nap, as a project, feel much more given toward the spacious and atmospheric exploration one finds in the midsection of second cut “Sabacia” than the four or five lines in the driving riff subsequent. As the record plays out, they incorporate elements of surf – surprisingly more on “Duna” and closer “Autobahn” than “Xurf,” but it could also be a Yawning Man influence surfacing – resulting in an overarching progressive feel that serves their fluidity on this first album.

Nap on Thee Facebooks

Nap on Bandcamp

 

Manthrass, Blues del Destino

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Heavy rocking Buenos Aires three-piece Manthrass issued their debut, Blues del Destino, last year and were subsequently snagged for release through South American Sludge Records, no doubt for the record’s cohesive, hard-driving bluesy push, natural tones and easy-grooving feel. The shuffle of “Una Flor” is a highlight, but neither will you find me arguing with the Pappo’s Blues cover “El Brujo y el Tiempo,” with a burlier vocal and a rolling progression that seems to sum up a lot of where Manthrass are coming from to start with, though closer “Navegar” gets down with more raucous fare. A quality first full-length with a crisp production balanced by a fervent live feel in the energy from the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mariano Castiiglioni, bassist/vocalist Ángel Rizzo and drummer/backing vocalist Fede Martínez, who are clearly versed in modern heavy as well as the classics, and are able to control their own destiny here accordingly.

Manthrass on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge on Bandcamp

 

Astral Cult, The Sacred Flame

astral-cult-the-sacred-flame-700

Commencement comes on Astral Cult’s second album, The Sacred Flame, via the ritualized psychedelic incantations of “Prayer,” and from there, the Californian four-piece unfold a molten vision of heavy space rock that stands apart from a lot of what bands further sound in San Diego or even San Francisco are doing, vocalist Alexandre Lapuh, guitarist Ryan Musser, bassist Stefan Henskens and drummer Brazdon Goodwin (since replaced by Cristian Gonzalez) finding their footing in a lumbering and deceptively doomed “Quetzalcotl” after so much lysergic preaching on “Call of the Wild” and “Beacon of Darkness.” The range is surprising, but more so is the fluidity Astral Cult conjure between what are often disparate styles, the four-piece nearly hitting the 13-minute mark on the closing title-tack as they lay the two sides together, one into the next. It’s a rarer blend, but The Sacred Flame, at nearly an hour long, gears itself for maximum immersion.

Astral Cult on Thee Facebooks

Astral Cult on Bandcamp

 

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The Vintage Caravan South American Tour Starts Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-vintage-caravan

Haven’t heard much from Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan since their extensive European tour this past Spring supporting their second album for Nuclear Blast, 2015’s Arrival (review here). True, they took part in Europe’s always-busy summer festival season, but somehow I half expected them to have a record out this year. As they’re headed to South America next week for a tour presented by Abraxas Events, I’ve no doubt they yet have a few tricks up their collective sleeve. Maybe they’ve been writing? Hard to know for sure, but either way, these shows should be good as they make their way to Brazil and Argentina for the first time.

The PR had this to say about it in semi-translation:

the-vintage-caravan-south-america-tour

The Vintage Caravan announce first South America tour

Brazil and Argentina will receive at the end of September and beginning of October the acclaimed The Vintage Caravan, from Iceland, yet worldwide recognized as a band that – less than a decade and just three releases – conquered so many fans and the musical critic by doing an exited stoner rock with progressive, psychedelic, hard rock and blues elements. Óskar Logi (vocal and guitar), Alexander Örn (bass) e Stefán Ari (drum) arrives in South America for the first time to a plenty of gigs; 8 confirmed.

Despite the nostalgic aura, mainly strong at the first two albums, the self entitled Vintage Caravan (2011) and Voyage (2012), the music increased by the Icelandic trio is tough, with modern production, so clearly in Arrival (2015), the last released, so mature and full of clever songs.

The South America Tour begins in Brazil, in 29/09, at Porto Alegre. The other venus are schedule to happen at Goiânia/BR (30/09), Belo Horizonte/BR (02/10), Buenos Aires/AR (05/10), Curitiba/BR (06/10), São Paulo/BR (08/10), Rio de Janeiro/BR (09/10) and Florianópolis/BR (11/10).

Besides riffs and harmonies inspired in 70ies rock, with a tone of strong Black Sabbath references or even the Deep Purple classy, The Vintage Caravan has enough authenticity to distill marvelous songs, as unique band in nowadays rock/metal scene.

PORTO ALEGRE (Rio Grande do Sul)
DATE: 29/09
LOCAL: Riff.e Bar
ADRESS: João Alfred strret, 477

EM GOIÂNIA (Goiás)
DATE: 30/09
LOCAL: República Rock Sport Bar
ADRESS: Sol Nascente avenue, Jardim Nova Esperança

BELO HORIZONTE (Minas Gerais)
DATA: 2/10
LOCAL: Stonehenge Rock Bar
ADRESS: Tupis street, 1448

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (Paraná)
DATA: 5/10
LOCAL: Uniclub
ADRESS: Guardia Vieja, 3360

CURITIBA (Paraná)
DATA: 6/10
LOCAL: John Bull Pub
ADRESS: Mateus Leme street, 2204, Centro Cívico

SÃO PAULO (São Paulo)
DATA: 8/10
LOCAL: SESC Belenzinho
ADRESS: Padre Adelino street, 1000, Belenzinho

RIO DE JANEIRO (Rio de Janeiro)
DATA: 9/10
LOCAL: La Esquina
ADRESS: Mem de Sá avenue, 61, Lapa

FLORIANÓPOLIS (Santa Catarina)
DATA: 11/10
LOCAL: Célula Showcase
ADRESS: João Paulo street, 75

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thevintagecaravan.eu

The Vintage Caravan, “Babylon” official video

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Graveyard Disband; All Touring Canceled

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 23rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Have to admit I didn’t see this one coming. Swedish classic heavy rockers Graveyard have put out word they’ve called it quits. All upcoming appearances including their recently-announced headlining slot at Desertfest Belgium 2016 have been canceled.

They do leave open the possibility of coming back at some point — note “if and when” below — but however that might pan out, losing Graveyard is a considerable blow to the heavy underground. Since signing to Nuclear Blast ahead of releasing 2011’s Hisingen Blues (review here), and really since their 2007 self-titled came out on Tee Pee, the Örebro natives have been forerunners of the retro rock movement, having a major hand in teaching an entire generation of bands how to boogie across Europe and the US alike.

That position would only solidify with the next year’s Lights Out (review here), which began to bring forward the soul and classic R&B influences that would continue to emerge on last year’s Innocence and Decadence (review here), their fourth album and apparent swansong. By then, Graveyard — the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson, guitarist Jonathan Ramm, bassist Truls Mörck and drummer Axel Sjöberg — had cast their influence wide and it will no doubt continue to ring out despite their breakup. A shuffle like that just doesn’t come along every day.

As to what the future might hold for the members of Graveyard? It’s probably way too soon to speculate, and definitely too soon to hope that Nilsson might get back together with Magnus Pelander of Nuclear Blast labelmates Witchcraft for a reunion of their mid-’90s outfit Norrsken (in many ways the seed of what became the retro rock movement over the next decade), but one way or another, all the best to the members of the band in sorting out whatever issues it is require sorting and all the best for the future. Graveyard were clearly a special band and the void they leave behind is significant.

Here’s the announcement from the group:

graveyard-700

Dark clouds above the graveyard today.

Due to the all so classic reason “differences within the band” the Graveyard is as of today officially closed. This is the unfortunate final decision we’ve had to make after going through a period of struggling n juggling with personal issues. Things have gone out of hand and now our energy is very low. As a direct result of this we’re sorry to say that all scheduled touring is cancelled.

Graveyard have always been more about the music than the talking and that approach is the way we intend to deal with this situation also. What we can say is that we don’t know if and when the Graveyard will re-open and return in full force.

Stay tuned, stay awesome & No endless night in sight.

Joakim, Axel, Truls, Jonatan

https://www.facebook.com/graveyardofficial
https://twitter.com/graveyard
https://instagram.com/graveyardmusic/

Graveyard, “No Good Mr. Holden”

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Kadavar Post Video for “Reich Der Träume” from Berlin Visual Album

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

kadavar

I had been kind of curious to see how Kadavar might handle their Nico cover as they continued their ‘Visual Album’ project for their 2015 third full-length, Berlin (review here). The closer of the record, “Reich Der Träume” is a pretty significant departure from cuts like “Lord of the Sky,” “Filthy Illusion” and “Pale Blue Eyes” — each of which has also already received its own video (posted here, here and here, respectively) — and caps Berlin with a mellow, melancholic, psychedelic vibe. They may have remixed the track for the video — the vocals seem more forward than I recall from prior listens, though that could also be my laptop speakers, which as we all know is no way to hear anything correctly, ever — but the mood is much the same, and in this case, the mood is everything.

One could say that of much of Kadavar‘s work, I guess, but it’s what that mood represents that’s shifted here. Where “Lord of the Sky” or “Last Living Dinosaur” or “The Old Man” bask in uptempo bounce and highlight the German trio’s ultra-catchy songcraft, “Reich Der Träume” willfully represents another take entirely. It might be most closely related to their tripped-out split with Aqua Nebula Oscillator, but is less lysergic in its substance if still dreamy. I’d have sworn I saw “Reich Der Träume” listed as a bonus track for Berlin at some point, so didn’t know if the band would include it in the ‘Visual Album’ collection — their stated intent to make a video for every song on the album within the span of a year — but they give it a suitably fluid visual accompaniment here, working once again with artist Nathini van der Meer as they have throughout the entirety of the project.

Enjoy the clip below, followed by some comment from the band via the PR wire:

Kadavar, “Reich Der Träume” official video

We have released the fourth video for the »Berlin« visual album concept.

Together with long-time friend and collaborator Nathini van der Meer (http://nathinivandermeer.com), who has created artwork and videos for them in the past, Kadavar are working on their first “Visual Album”- 12 short films accompanying each of the albums’ songs, to be released once a month throughout the entirety of the year.

Commented the band: “The song was originally written for Nico by Lutz Graf (LÜÜL), known for his work with bands like ASH RA TEMPEL, AGITATION FREE or 17 HIPPIES. It is the first song Lupus sings German on. We liked the heavy mood of the song. Within the music as well as in the lyrics. It’s one of the most beautiful Nico songs which unfortunately was barely recognized until now. We were very proud when we got LÜÜL’s blessing to cover the song.”

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Kadavar at Nuclear Blast Records

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Pelander: Witchcraft Frontman Unveils Time Title and Tracklisting

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

More details have started to trickle out about Witchcraft frontman Magnus Pelander‘s debut solo album. The title, for example, will be Time, and it will feature six tracks plus a bonus cut and run about an LP-ready 44 minutes. No artwork or audio or even a solid release date yet, but Nuclear Blast seems to be doling out details one or two at a time — the last press release was “Hey, an album exists and we’re putting it out” and this one is “Hey, it has a name and songs” — so you know, there’s still plenty to learn in the months ahead. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect a release date sometime in October/November, but don’t go quoting that or anything. Pure speculation on my part.

And not to give away state secrets or anything, but if you’ve been missing Witchcraft‘s pioneering retro-doom aesthetic, there are definitely some parts of this record to which you’re going to want to pay particular attention. There. I can be vague with the best of ’em.

This is the part where there’s a photo and then the text changes color to signify its origins on the PR wire:

pelander

PELANDER – WITCHCRAFT main man’s solo project announces title & track list

WITCHCRAFT main man, Magnus Pelander’s solo project PELANDER has announced the title as well as the track list for his upcoming debut album.

Time will contain 7 tracks with an approximate running time of 44 minutes.

Time track list:
1. Umbrella
2. Family Song
3. The Irony Of Man
4. True Colour
5. Precious Swan
6. Time
7. Rebecka (BONUS TRACK)

After his latest journey with WITCHCRAFT, Nucleus, multi instrumentalist and lyricist extraordinaire, Magnus Pelander, returns to his solo career which without a doubt can be recognized as being tied to the cult doom/rock band, still exploring other paths and going full on acoustic.

Magnus Pelander comments: “At last my first solo album is done and soon to be released. I cannot believe this is true.”

Commented Nuclear Blast A&R representative Markus Jakob: “We’re thrilled to not only work with a gifted artist as Magnus on his main band but now also on his solo career. Both WITCHCRAFT and PELANDER have always stood for variety, artistic freedom and development which we’re more than happy to support. Prepare yourself for another deep and intense look into the mind and musical vision of a genius!”

www.nuclearblast.de/pelander
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa/

Magnus Pelander, “Stardust” Live in Gothenburg, Sweden, 2010

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