Khemmis Sign to Nuclear Blast USA

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Denver doom exports Khemmis have inked a worldwide deal with Nuclear Blast. You might recall their 2018 album, the wide-lauded Desolation (review here), came out in the US via 20 Buck Spin and Nuclear Blast in Europe, so the difference now is they’re a Nuclear Blast band all the way, as A&R legend Monte Conner continues to mine some of the underground’s finest acts and bring them into the label’s fold. Khemmis right now are labelmates with the likes of WitchcraftKadavarGraveyard, as well as a slew of landmark metallers any of whom would make just as likely tourmates for a band like Khemmis as the rock acts just mentioned.

Probably kind of inevitable, but emblematic of the surge that has been Khemmis‘ career to this point. I saw the note on the PR wire and said, “Yeah, that makes sense.”

Here’s the announcement:

khemmis

KHEMMIS SIGN TO NUCLEAR BLAST WORLDWIDE!

Nuclear Blast are proud to announce the now worldwide signing of Denver, Colorado based doomed heavy metal quartet Khemmis. Welcome to the global family! Khemmis released their third studio album Desolation in June 2018, to rapturous praise from fans and media alike. They are currently working on new material, and are planning to tour throughout 2019.

Khemmis commented on the news: “We are honored and excited to join the Nuclear Blast roster alongside so many legendary artists. Endless thanks to Monte Conner, Mark Palmer, Yorck Eysel and the rest of the amazing team at Nuclear Blast for sharing in our vision for the future. We also send our unending gratitude to Dave Adelson of 20 Buck Spin, who not only took a chance on us when he released Absolution in 2015 but also became a true friend and brother to us over the last few years. Finally, thanks to everyone who has supported us by seeing us live, snagging a shirt, and/or picking up a CD or LP. Without all of you, none of this would be possible. We’ve got some very exciting announcements about tours, festivals, and new music coming soon. Cheers!”

Khemmis’ passion for progressive and soulful heavy music is more evident than ever in 2018’s Desolation. Though undeniably influenced by doom and classic metal, to tag the quartet with those labels doesn’t do justice to what they’ve accomplished; a perfect representation of modern heavy metal that integrates the past in a way only possible with the faculty of hindsight. It’s impossible to ignore the lengths that the four piece goes to in order to master their craft and produce a highly unique form of heavy sound. Their magnificently uplifting, yet sorrowful groovy riffs weave the listener along on an unparalleled journey. Desolation is not just the best Khemmis record to date but a testament to the quality and evolution that heavy metal is still capable of.

Having worked for the third time with Dave Otero of Flatline Audio in Denver, the band and producer achieved a deep mutual understanding, able to arrive at the perfect symbiosis of song writing, arrangement, and production value.
Formed in Denver in 2012, Khemmis have released three albums to date. 2015’s Absolution and 2016’s Hunted painted a unique portrait; encompassing spiraling progressive doom, fuzz-toned stoner riffs, syrupy sludge and churning classic grooves. They transcended traditional doom forming elegant yet dramatic tracks, conveying their unique sense of melancholy edged with a sense of foreboding.

With latest record Desolation, Khemmis have finally reached a more international audience, winning over hearts and minds across the globe.

Khemmis are:
Phil Pendergast // guitar, vocals
Ben Hutcherson // guitar, vocals
Daniel Beiers // bass
Zach Coleman // drums

http://www.facebook.com/khemmisdoom
http://khemmis.bandcamp.com
http://twitter.com/khemmisdoom
www.nuclearblast.de/mydyingbride
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa

Khemmis, “Isolation” official video

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2018

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the-top-30-of-2018

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2018 to that, please do.

It just wouldn’t be a year if it wasn’t completely overwhelming, right?

2018 has certainly met that standard and then some. The swath of output, whether it’s a new generation adopting and adapting established methods or out and out reinventing the stylistic wheel and then pushing it uphill on a seemingly endless barrage of tours, has been staggering, and it’s still happening. There’s a little more than a week to go in the year. You think a band isn’t putting something out today? Of course they are. It’s every day. It’s all the time.

But this year wasn’t just about quantity either. I think one of my biggest struggles in writing about albums in 2018 — and with the last Quarterly Review and various premieres and video posts that were basically album reviews in disguise, let’s estimate we’re somewhere past 300 records reviewed one way or another — was in conveying just how killer so much of the stuff coming through was. How many times can you say the word “awesome?” Well, I’m sure we’ll see it a few more times before this list is over, so there you go.

I say something like this every time I do a list, but please keep in mind these are my picks and I’m one person. But I am a person. I know there’s the whole internet-anonymity thing, but I assure you, I’m a human being (more of a cave troll, really) typing these words. I’m all for everyone sharing their own picks in the comments, and all for passionate advocating, but please, let’s keep it civil and respectful. These things can spiral out of control quickly, but let’s remember that we’re all human beings and worth of basic courtesy, even if some of us are dead wrong about a good many things. You should definitely punch nazis, though.

Thanks in advance for reading. Here we go:

[UPDATE: You’ll notice the inclusion of an ’18a.’ I had Stoned Jesus in my notes as number 18 initially and they got dropped as I was adjusting things along the way. I’ve added them back in, but it didn’t seem fair to bump everyone else down after the post had already been published. That was the best I could come up with for a solution. If you’re pissed about one more killer record being added, please feel free to email me and tell me all about it.]

30. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark

The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Chicago’s The Skull had no small task before them in following up their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) — let alone living up to their pedigree — but their second album demonstrated a creative growth that sacrificed nothing of memorability when it came to songs like “Breathing Underwater” and “All that Remains (Is True).” They got down to work and got the job done, which is what a working band does. 2018 was by any measure a fantastic year for doom, and The Skull were a big part of why.

29. Foghound, Awaken to Destroy

foghound awaken to destroy

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 21.

The Dec. 2017 murder of Rev. Jim Forrester was tragic. No other way to say it. Foghound, who were in the midst of making Awaken to Destroy at the time, put together an album that not only features Forrester‘s last recorded performance, but pays respect to his memory while the wound is still raw and manages to kick ass all the while. It’s a record that can’t ever be divorced from its circumstances — just can’t — and so it can be a heavy listen in more than just its tones, but it’s basically Foghound proving they’re unstoppable. And so they are.

28. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back

orange goblin the wolf bites back

Released by Spinefarm Records. Reviewed June 13.

Who among us here today is not a sucker for Orange Goblin? Come forward an be judged. I mean, really. Nine records deep, the London sceneforgers are nothing less than an institution, beloved by boozehounds, riffhounds, doomhounds, and really, a wide variety of hounds the world over. Also dudes. With its essential title-track hook and highlight cuts in “Ghosts of the Primitives” and “Burn the Ships” — or, you know, any of them — they added to one of heavy’s most unshakable legacies with an album as furious as it is welcoming to its generations-spanning fanbase.

27. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe

fu manchu clone of the universe
Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed Feb. 15.

There are two kinds of people in this world, and they’re both Fu Manchu fans. Clone of the Universe turned heads with a guest appearance from Rush‘s Alex Lifeson on the 18-minute side-B-consuming “Il Mostro Atomico,” but really to focus on that instead of “Intelligent Worship,” “(I’ve Been) Hexed,” “Don’t Panic,” “Slower than Light,” etc., is only seeing half the point of the album in the first place. The long-running lords of fuzz hit a new stride with 2014’s Gigantoid (review here), and Clone of the Universe was in every way a worthy successor.

26. Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain

Witch-Mountain-Witch-Mountain
Released by Svart Records. Reviewed May 16.

It was an unenviable task before Witch Mountain in replacing vocalist Uta Plotkin, but founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nathan Carson found the right voice in Kayla Dixon and solidified the lineup with her and bassist Justin Brown enough to make a declarative statement in Witch Mountain‘s self-titled LP. That’s the story of it. They pulled it off. Met with what was unquestionably a bummer circumstance, they pushed through and moved their sound forward through a new beginning — and not their first one. Watch out when their next record hits.

25. Windhand, Eternal Return

windhand eternal return

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Oct. 3.

Richmond, Virginia, doomers Windhand‘s second collaboration with producer Jack Endino produced a marked and purposeful expansion of their sound, encompassing classic grunge influences and a heavy psychedelic swirl that added color their previously-greyscale sonic haze. Resonant in tone and emotionalism, Eternal Return readjusted Windhand‘s trajectory in such a manner that, where one might’ve thought they knew where the band were headed in terms of their progression, they’ve made themselves a less predictable outfit on the whole. For that alone, it’s a triumph. Then you have the songs.

24. Sun Voyager, Seismic Vibes

Sun Voyager Seismic Vibes

Released by King Pizza Records. Reviewed April 18.

I don’t even want to admit how long I was waiting for Sun Voyager‘s first long-player to show up, but when it finally did, the New York trio did not disappoint. Catchy, energetic, fuzzed-out tunes with driving rhythms and a heavy psych flourish, they tapped into shoegaze and desert vibes without losing any sense of themselves in the process, and if the extra wait was so they could be so remarkably coherent in their expression on their full-length, then I wouldn’t want it to have shown up any sooner. An easy pick to stand among 2018’s best debut albums. Now to wait for the next one.

23. Forming the Void, Rift

forming the void rift

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed July 27.

It should tell you something that after working quickly to produce three albums, Louisiana’s Forming the Void are still defined by their potential. If I had my druthers, I’d put the recent Ripple signees on tour for the bulk of 2019, across the US and in Europe for festivals and support-slot club shows, really give them an opportunity to hammer out who they are as a band and then hit the studio for LP four. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but they’d only be doing the universe a favor by kicking into that gear. As it stands, their progression is palpable in their material and they stand absolutely ready for whatever the next level might be for them.

22. Spaceslug, Eye the Tide

spaceslug eye the tide

Released by BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed June 29.

Aside from the speed at which Spaceslug have turned around offerings — with Eye the Tide following 2017’s Mountains and Reminiscence EP (review here) and Time Travel Dilemma (review here) full-length and their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here) — the Polish outfit have undertaken significant progression in their sound, moving from pure heavy psychedelic warmth to incorporating elements out of extreme metal as they did on Eye the Tide. Adding to the latest record’s accomplishment is the smoothness with which they brought seemingly opposing sides together, only adding depth to an approach already worthy of oceanic comparison.

21. Conan, Existential Void Guardian

Conan Existential Void Guardian
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 14.

Conan‘s reign of terror has been unfolding for more than a decade now, and each of their albums has become a kind of step along a path of incremental growth. Consider the melody creeping into the shouts of founding guitarist Jon Davis, or the emergence of bassist Chris Fielding as a vocal presence alongside, the two sharing a frontman role more than ever before while welcoming drummer Johnny King to the fold of destructive tonality and doomly extremism. Existential Void Guardian may end up just being another stomp-print on their way to the next thing, but it affirmed the fact that as much as Conan grow each time out, their central violence continues to hold sway.

20. Pale Divine, Pale Divine

PALE DIVINE S/T
Released by Shadow Kingdom Records. Reviewed Nov. 21.

Look. A new Pale Divine record doesn’t come along every day, so yeah, their self-titled was probably going to be on my list one way or the other, but it definitely helps that not only was it their first outing in six years since 2012’s Painted Windows Black (review here), but it had the songs to live up to a half-decade-plus of anticipation. It marked the first studio appearance from bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis alongside guitarist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey — now both of Beelzefuzz as well — and made a strong argument for how much Pale Divine deserve more than 20 years on from their initial demo to be considered classic American doom.

19. Mos Generator, Shadowlands

mos generator shadowlands
Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed May 11.

The return and rise to prominence of Washington pure heavy rockers Mos Generator might be the underground’s feelgood story of the decade, but it hasn’t by any means been easily won. In addition to rebuilding the band however many albums ago, guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed has put in innumerable hours on tour and worked to actually develop the group creatively in addition to in terms of stage presence. This is shown throughout some of the classic prog elements making their way onto Shadowlands, and perhaps some of the collection’s moodier aspects are born of the aforementioned road time as well. Hard for that kind of thing not to be a slog after a while, but at least they have killer tunes to play.

18a. Stoned Jesus, Pilgrims

STONED JESUS PILGRIMS

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 5.

The only safe bet about Stoned Jesus‘ fourth long-player, Pilgrims, was that it was going to sound different than the third. That 2015 outing, The Harvest (review here), preceded the band touring to celebrate the fifth anniversary and after-the-fact success of 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), but Pilgrims defied narrative in that instead of incorporating elements from the second record in more of a heavy psych or jam sound, Stoned Jesus instead showcased a tighter, more sureheaded sense of craft than they’ve ever displayed before, and arrived on Napalm Records with a collection of songs that demonstrated the growth and sense of creative will that drives them. While one can take a look at their moniker and think immediately they know what’s coming, Stoned Jesus have made themselves one of the least predictable bands in heavy rock.

18. Backwoods Payback, Future Slum

backwoods payback future slum

Self-released. Reviewed Aug. 15.

“Pirate Smile.” “Lines.” “Whatever.” “It Ain’t Right.” “Threes.” “Cinderella.” “Generals.” “Big Enough.” “Alone.” “Lucky. Mike Cummings, Jessica Baker, Erik Larson. Every player, every song, every minute. If you want to know what heart-on-sleeve sounds like, it fucking sounds like Backwoods Payback. In their line from hardcore punk to grunge to heavy rock, they encompass experiences and emotionalism that are both shown in raw form throughout Future Slum, and build all the while on the chemistry they set out in developing with 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), when they welcomed Larson to the lineup on drums and revitalized their mission. Also worth noting, they were the best live band I saw this year. Anywhere.

17. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown

corrosion of conformity no cross no crown

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Jan. 3

No question the excitement of C.O.C. putting out their first record with frontman Pepper Keenan involved since 2005’s In the Arms of God was one of this year’s top stories in heavy. And No Cross No Crown tapped directly into the spirit of 1994’s Deliverance (discussed here) and 1996’s Wiseblood (discussed here) in terms of direction, while updating the band’s style with a four-part 2LP in mind. In some ways, it’ll be their next album that really gives listeners a sense of where they’re at and where they might be headed, but as welcome returns go, having Keenan alongside Mike DeanWoody Weatherman and Reed Mullin is in no way to be understated, and neither is the quality of their output together, then and now.

16. Naxatras, III

naxatras iii

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 14.

It is no simple feat to hypnotize an audience and convey serenity while at the same time holding attention with songcraft, so that the listener isn’t actually so much unconscious as malleable of mood and spirit in such a direction as the band suggests. Greek trio Naxatras have worked quickly to become experts at this, and their third full-length fosters tonal warmth and jammy progressions with an overarching naturalism that finds them so committed to analog recording that one can buy direct transfers of the tape master of III. Some acts take classic-style practices as an aesthetic choice. With Naxatras, it seems to be the stuff of life, yet their sound is only vibrant and human in a way that, at least one hopes, is even more representative of the future than the past.

15. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions

clutch book of bad decisions

Released by Weathermaker Music. Reviewed Aug. 27.

It was time for Clutch to make a change in producers, and the Maryland overlords of groove seemed to know it. Known as a live band, they went with Vance Powell, who’s known a live band producer. The results on Book of Bad Decisions might not have been so earth-shatteringly different from 2015’s Psychic Warfare (review here), which was the too-soon follow-up to 2013’s Earth Rocker (review here) — both helmed by Machine — but the inimitable four-piece indeed succeeded in capturing the electricity of their stage performance and, as ever, treated fans to a collection of songs bearing Clutch‘s unmistakable hallmarks of quirky lyrics, funky rhythms and heavy roll. They may always be a live band, but Clutch‘s studio work is in no way to be discounted, ever, as this record reaffirmed. Plus, crab cakes.

14. Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Released by Pelagic Records. Reviewed Aug. 3.

After 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), I wasn’t sure Ancestors were going to put out another record. They kicked around word of one for a while, but it wasn’t until the end of last year that it really seemed to congeal into a possibility. And by then, who the hell knew what they might get up to on a full-length? With Suspended in Reflections, in some says, they picked up where they left off in terms of finding a niche for themselves in progressive and melodic heavy, but I think the time showed in the poise of their execution and the control of the material. Suspended in Reflections can’t help but be six years more mature than its predecessor, and that suits its contemplative feel. In tracks like “Gone,” and “The Warm Glow,” they tempered their expansive sound with an efficiency that can only be had with time.

13. High on Fire, Electric Messiah

high on fire electric messiah

Released by eOne Heavy. Reviewed Sept. 28.

The narrative here was hard to beat. Matt Pike spending an album cycle talking about Lemmy Kilmister and paying homage to his dirt-rock forebear and the gods of old? It doesn’t get much more perfect than that. Electric Messiah was the third collaboration between High on Fire and producer Kurt Ballou behind 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), and while it seemed after the last record that the formula might be getting stale, the band only sounded more and more lethal throughout the latest offering. Even putting aside their contributions to underground heavy, they’ve become one of the most essential metal bands of their generation. Metal, period. Doesn’t matter what subgenre you’re talking about it. If you’re listening to High on Fire, you know it. Usually because you’ve just been decapitated.

12. Yawning Man, The Revolt Against Tired Noises

yawning man the revolt against tired noises

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed July 2.

You know, if you take the time to separate Yawning Man from their 30-plus-year history and their legacy as one of the foundational acts of what later became desert rock, and you listen to The Revolt Against Tired Noises, you’re still left with basically a dream of an album. Mostly instrumental, as is their wont, they nonetheless had bassist Mario Lalli (also Fatso Jetson) sing this time around on a version of the previously-unreleased “Catamaran,” which Kyuss covered once upon a whenever although Yawning Man had never officially put it to tape. But really, that and all other novelty aside, guitarist Gary Arce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson are a chemistry unto themselves. I don’t know if they’ll ever be as huge as they should be, but every bit of acclaim they get, they’ve earned, and if The Revolt Against Tired Noises helps them get it, all the more so.

11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers

greenleaf hear the rivers

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Nov. 26.

Swedish heavy rock mavens Greenleaf have become an entirely different band than they once were. No longer a Dozer side-project from guitarist Tommi Holappa with a rotating cast of players, they’re a solidified, road-tested, powerhouse unit, and Hear the Rivers bleeds soul as a result. Holappa, frontman Arvid Hällagård, bassist Hans Fröhlich and drummer Sebastian Olsson sound like they’re absolutely on fire in the album’s tracks, and far from being staid or formulaic as one might expect a sixth long-player to be, Hear the Rivers built on what the band accomplished with 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here) and came across as all the more vital and nearly frenetic in their energy. I won’t say Greenleaf has seen their last lineup change, because one never knows, but the band as they are today is the realization of potential I don’t think even Greenleaf knew was there.

10. Gozu, Equilibrium

gozu equilibrium

Released by Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records. Reviewed April 4.

Five records deep into a career into its second decade, Gozu haven’t had a miss yet. Admittedly, some of their early work can seem formative considering where they are now, but still. And after the 2016 rager, Revival (review here), to have the band return to the same studio — Wild Arctic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where strides producer Dean Baltulonis — for the follow-up allows for the four-piece to directly show how their sound has grown more encompassing in the last couple years. And it has. Equilibrium is a rich and varied listen that holds true to Gozu‘s well-established penchant for soulful vibes and crunching, hard-hitting riffs and groove, but while it shares the directness of approach with Revival, it makes moves that a band could only make moving from one record to the next. I expect nothing less their next time out as well, because a decade later, that’s Gozu‘s proven track record.

9. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

monster magnet mindfucker
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 23.

The battle for the best album title of 2018 ended early when New Jersey everything-rockers Monster Magnet announced the release of Mindfucker. And what else to call a Monster Magnet LP at this point? They’ve stopped writing to genre. They’re driven by the creative mania of frontman/founder Dave Wyndorf, and they’ve seen psychedelic expanses and commercial success the likes of which would serve the tenure of four lesser bands. What’s left to do but whatever the hell you want? So that’s what Monster Magnet are doing. It just so happens that while they’re doing it, they’re still basically outclassing the entirety of the former planet earth as songwriters. As Monster Magnet fan in 2018, there was nothing more I could’ve asked than what Mindfucker delivered. And if you’re still trying to get your brain around it however many months later, you’re not alone. I think that’s the idea.

8. Apostle of Solitude, From Gold to Ash

Apostle of Solitude From Gold to Ash

Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Feb. 20.

Best doom album of 2018. The combination of craft and passion behind the delivery. The way the dark tones fed into the emotions so clearly on display and sheer presence of it in listening to songs like “Keeping the Lighthouse,” “Ruination by Thy Name” and “My Heart is Leaving Here.” Apostle of Solitude never seem to be the highest profile band out there, but their work seems never to be anything less than outstanding, and I refuse to accept them as anything less than among the most pivotal American acts out there making traditional doom. And not just making it, but making it their own, with a sense of new pursuits and individualism that extends to playing style as well as atmosphere. I know doom isn’t exactly in short supply these days — figuratively or literally — but if you miss out on what Apostle of Solitude are doing with it, you’ll only regret it later. I’ll say it one more time: Best doom album of 2018.

7. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II

holy grove ii
Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 31.

Every now and again, anticipating the crap of an album really pays off, and such was the case with Holy Grove II, the Ripple Music debut from the Portland outfit whose 2016 self-titled (review here) seemed like such a herald of excellence to come while also, you know, being killer. Holy Grove II brought the four-piece of vocalist Andrea Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs, bassist Gregg Emley and drummer Eben Travis to entirely new levels of composition and execution. In songs like “Blade Born,” the shorter, sharper “Aurora,” the patiently rolling “Valley of the Mystics,” “Solaris” and closer “Cosmos,” which boasted a not-really-necessary-but-definitely-welcome guest vocal appearance from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt, — and oh wait, that’s all of the tracks — Holy Grove entered a different echelon. Anticipation will likewise be high for Holy Grove III, but it’ll be hard to complain with this record to keep company in the meantime.

6. All Them Witches, ATW

all them witches atw
Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 18.

Over five All Them Witches albums, the Nashville four-piece have gone from a nascent heavy Americana jam band to one of the most distinct acts in the US underground. Their development in sound is chemistry-driven, so it was a risk when the founding trio of bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod (who also produced) and drummer Robby Staebler welcomed new keyboardist Jonathan Draper into the lineup to take the place of Allan van Cleave. Amid a more naturalist production than that of 2017’s Sleeping Through the War (review here), the revamped four-piece flourished in terms of songwriting and conveying their stage-born sonic personae. From the gleeful fuckery of opener “Fishbelly 86 Onions” to the memorable moodiness of “Diamond” and the back-end jam “Harvest Feast” en route to the stretched-out end of “Rob’s Dream,” All Them Witches essentially confirmed they could do whatever they wanted and make it work.

5. YOB, Our Raw Heart

yob our raw heart
Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed June 7.

Actually, if you want a sample of YOB‘s raw heart, the place to go is probably 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), but whatever the Eugene, Oregon, shapers of cosmic doom might’ve lacked in titular accuracy on their eighth long-player, they made up for in a new, statesman-like posture. Their approach was mature, hammered out to a professionalism working completely on its own terms, and they never sounded so sure of who they are as a band or as confident of their direction. In extended cuts “Beauty in Falling Leaves” and “Our Raw Heart,” they explored new and progressive textures and melodies, and managed to reaffirm their core aspects while finding room for conveying emotion that came across as nothing but ultimately sincere. They have been and still are one of a kind, and as they continue to move forward, they remain a band that makes one feel lucky to be alive to witness their work. Our Raw Heart was perhaps more refined than it let on, but the heart was there for sure, as always.

4. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman

brant bjork mankind woman

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 13.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t a fan of the (relatively) harder-hitting approach Brant Bjork and his Low Desert Punk Band took on 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here), but Mankind Woman brought in some more of his soul influences, and whether it was the subtly subversive funk of “Chocolatize” and “Brand New Old Times” or the callout “1968” and laid back vibes of the title-track and “Swagger and Sway,” Bjork — working with guitarist Bubba DuPree on songwriting and production — offered a definitive look at what has made his 20-year solo career so special and demonstrates not only his longevity and his legacy, but his will to continue to progress as an artist honing his craft. His discography is well populated by now to be sure, but Mankind Woman represents a turn from the last couple records, and if it’s in any way portentous of things to come, it bodes well. Bjork is right at home nestled into classic-style grooves, and his legacy as one of the principal architects of desert rock is continually reaffirmed.

3. Earthless, Black Heaven

earthless black heaven

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed March 15.

They’ve been great, not just good, for a long time now, and as forerunners of the San Diego heavy scene, they’re godfathers to an up and coming generation of bands taking their influence — let alone acts from the rest of the world — but Black Heaven is a special moment for them because of its departure. No, it wasn’t not the first time guitarist Isaiah Mitchell sang on an Earthless recording, but it did represent a tip of the balance in that direction for the band on a studio full-length, and that resulted in a special moment. Album opener “Gifted by the Wind” was one of the best songs I heard this year, and while “End to End” and the all-thrust “Volt Rush” affirmed that more traditional songwriting was well within the grasp of Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba, they still found space for a sprawling jam or two, keeping their claim on the instrumentalism that’s (largely) fueled their tenure to date. Earthless don’t want for acclaim, but every bit of it is earned, and while their primary impact has always been live, Black Heaven saw them construct a traditional-style LP that still bore the hallmarks of their collective personality. It was the best of all worlds.

2. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain

king buffalo longing to be the mountain
Self-released/released by Stickman Records. Reviewed Sept. 27.

In the dark early hours of 2018, the Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson issued the Repeater EP (review here) as a follow-up to their 2016 debut, Orion (review here), so Longing to Be the Mountain didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but even with Repeater preceding its arrival, I don’t think anyone necessary expected King Buffalo‘s second album to have such a scope or to be so engrossing with it. In its melody, patience, atmosphere and heft, it was an absolute joy to behold. Its songs were memorable at the same time they were far-reaching, and while Orion was already my pick for the best debut of 2016, Longing to Be the Mountain realized even more potential than that record had hinted toward. It could be intimate or majestic at its whim, and its dynamic set an individual characterization of heavy psychedelia and blues-style sprawl that the band wholly owned. With production by Ben McLeod of All Them Witches behind them, they worked to serve notice of a progression undertaken the results of which are already staggering and still seem to be looking ahead to the next stage, literally and figuratively. One of the principal standards I use in constructing this list every year is what I listen to most. That’s this record.

1. Sleep, The Sciences

sleep the sciences

Released by Third Man Records. Reviewed May 1.

Obviously, right? To some extent, when Sleep surprise-announced on April 19 they’d release their first album in 15 years the next day, and then did, they took ownership of 2018. Even with records still to come at that point from YOB and Sleep guitarist Matt Pike‘s own High on Fire, there was no way that when the end of the year came around, it wasn’t going to be defined by the advent of a new Sleep record. And even if it sucked, it would probably still be Album of the Year, but fortunately, as Pike, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also Om) and drummer Jason Roeder (also Neurosis) took their long-running stage reunion to the studio, they brought material that highlighted the best elements from all players. Pike‘s wild soloing, Cisneros‘ meditative vocals and Roeder‘s intricate but smooth style of roll all came together in older pieces like “Antarcticans Thawed” and “Sonic Titan” and newer highlights “Giza Butler” and “Marijuanaut’s Theme,” and aside from the excitement at their existence, they showed the mastery of form that Sleep had been demonstrating live since 2009 and which they hinted toward in the 2014 single, The Clarity (review here). A new Sleep full-length was something long-discussed, long-rumored and long-considered, but when it finally happened, I think the results vaporized expectation in a way no one could’ve anticipated. There’s a reason Sleep are Sleep. Having The Sciences as a reminder of that brought about the defining moment of 2018.

The Next 20

Indeed, it wouldn’t be much of a Top 30 at all if it didn’t go to 50. Don’t try to make sense of it, just look at the records.

31. Atavismo, Valdeinfierno
32. Grayceon, IV
33. Clamfight, III
34. Seedy Jeezus, Polaris Oblique
35. Megaton Leviathan, Mage
36. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland
37. Arcadian Child, Superfonica
38. Freedom Hawk, Beast Remains
39. The Machine, Faceshift
40. Messa, Feast for Water
41. Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium
42. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Science Fiction
43. Domkraft, Flood
44. Träden, Träden
45. Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music
46. Samavayo, Vatan
47. Foehammer, Second Sight
48. Bongripper, Terminal
49. Mansion, First Death of the Lutheran
50. Sunnata, Outlands
51. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Come and Chutney

Believe me when I tell you, I sweated over this section more than I did the actual top 30. Mansion should be higher. So should Chubby Thunderous, though something in me thought they might like being #50 on a list of 30. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Clamfight, Black Rainbows, Foehammer, Seedy Jeezus, Messa, Domkraft. All of these were fucking awesome. And there are more (we’ll get there). Eventually numbers add up. I won’t say a bad word about any of these. That’s it.

Honorable Mention

This section always winds up expanded as other people point out things I missed and so on, but here’s what I’ve got in the immediate, alphabetically:

  • Alms, Act One
  • Ape Machine, Darker Seas
  • Belzebong, Light the Dankness
  • Black Moon Circle, Psychedelic Spacelord
  • Blackwater Holylight, Blackwater Holylight
  • Bong, Thought and Existence
  • Carpet, About Rooms and Elephants
  • Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery
  • Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree
  • Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need
  • Death Alley, Superbia
  • Drug Cult, Drug Cult
  • Dunbarrow, II
  • Electric Citizen, Helltown
  • Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard: Songs of Hoof and Horn
  • Evoken, Hypnagogia
  • Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning
  • Fuzz Evil, High on You
  • Graven, Heirs of Discord
  • Graveyard, Peace
  • Green Dragon, Green Dragon
  • Green Druid, Ashen Blood
  • Here Lies Man, You Will Know Nothing
  • High Priestess, High Priestess
  • Horehound, Holocene
  • IAH, II
  • JIRM, Surge ex Monumentis
  • Killer Boogie, Acid Cream
  • Lonely Kamel, Death’s Head Hawkmoth
  • MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure
  • Moab, Trough
  • Mountain Dust, Seven Storms
  • Mouth, Floating
  • Mr. Plow, Maintain Radio Silence
  • T.G. Olson, Earthen Pyramid
  • Onségen Ensemble, Duel
  • Orango, Evergreen
  • Owl, Nights in Distortion
  • Pushy, Hard Wish
  • Rifflord, 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation
  • River Cult, Halcyon Daze
  • Rotor, Sechs
  • Somali Yacht Club, The Sea
  • Sumac, Love in Shadow
  • Sundrifter, Visitations
  • Svvamp, Svvamp II
  • Thou, Magus
  • Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse
  • Weedpecker, III

Special Note

Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to include these in the list proper because they’re not really underground releases, but there were two more records I especially wanted to highlight for their quality:

  • Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog
  • Judas Priest, Firepower

Best Short Release of the Year

Normally I’d do this as a separate post, but as a result of being robbed earlier this year, I feel like my list is woefully incomplete. If you have any demos, EPs, splits, singles, etc., to add to it, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Still, the top pick was clear:

  • Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard & Slomatics, Totems Split

Rarely do two bands work in such coherent tandem to their mutual benefit. Here are a few other essential short releases for 2018, alphabetically:

  • All Them Witches, Lost and Found
  • Alunah, Amber & Gold
  • Canyon, Mk II
  • Demon Head, The Resistence
  • Destroyer of Light, Hopeless
  • Ecstatic Vision, Under the Influence
  • Godmaker & Somnuri, Split
  • Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul
  • King Buffalo, Repeater
  • Minsk & Zatokrev, Split
  • Sleep, Leagues Beneath
  • Stonus, Lunar Eclipse
  • Sundecay, Gale

Looking Forward

A good many albums have already been announced or hinted at for 2019. I in no way claim this to be a complete roundup of what’s coming, but here’s what I have in my notes so far, in absolutely no order:

Kings Destroy, Lo-Pan, Cities of Mars, Heavy Temple, Mr. Peter Hayden, Curse the Son, High Fighter, Destroyer of Light, Year of the Cobra, Buffalo Fuzz, Zaum, The Sonic Dawn, Alunah, Candlemass, Elepharmers, Grandier, Dorre, Abrahma, Mars Red Sky, Eternal Black, Elephant Tree, Atala, No Man’s Valley, Sun Blood Stories, Crypt Sermon, The Riven, Hibrido, Snail, Red Beard Wall, 11Paranoias, Dead Witches, Monte Luna, Captain Caravan (LP), Swallow the Sun, Oreyeon, Motorpsycho, Vokonis, Hexvessel, Saint Vitus, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Kind, Mastiff, Shadow Witch, Om.

Okay, That’s It

Yeah, no, I’m serious. List is done. Everybody go back to your lives. Your families miss you.

Really though, while this is by no means my last post of 2018, I can’t let it pass without saying thank you so much to everyone for checking out the site this year, or for just digging into this, or for sending me music, or hitting me up on social media, sharing a link, anything. Thank you. Thank you. I could never have imagined when it started out where it would be now. Or that I’d still be doing it. Your support means more to me than I can say, and I thank you so much for being a part of this with me.

So thanks.

If you have something to add to the list, please do so by leaving a comment below, but keep in mind as well the above note requesting civility. Please don’t make me feel stupid because I forgot your favorite record. I forgot a lot of people’s favorite records. I’m one dude. I’m doing my best.

And please keep in mind if you’ve got a list together that the Year-End Poll is open and results will be out Jan. 1.

Everybody have a great and safe 2019.

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Earthless Announce Australia & New Zealand Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

earthless (Photo by Atiba Jefferson)

Well, it looks like after a busy 2018, Earthless will keep their momentum rolling into the New Year by heading to Australia and New Zealand for what if I’m not mistaken will be the tail end of summer. As best-of list time rolls around, it certainly seems like 2018’s Black Heaven (review here) isn’t being forgotten if the early returns on the year-end poll are anything to go by (add your list!), and neither should it be. As I recall, last time Earthless were in Oz they kept company with Elder, and though I’m not sure with whom they’ll tour this time, the fact that it’s the three of them is well enough reason to show up. Doesn’t matter what else is going on that night — you’re not going to get a better gig than an Earthless gig.

As they’ve been announced already for Kristonfest in Spain and Desertfest in London and Berlin, I’m expecting a European tour announcement will follow soon enough. After that, who knows? Maybe US summer dates? Maybe a return to South America? They can go anywhere at this point and be welcome, so we’ll see.

Dates follow, as per the social medias. Also note the shows this month in California and Arizona, with the likes of Sacri Monti and the golly-I-wish-their-record-came-out-this-year Volcano. Whenever that album does show up, it’ll be a party.

Dig:

EARTHLESS – AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND TOUR ANNOUNCED!!

Beyond stoked for this tour! Pre Sale: Thursday 29th Nov-10am-11:59pm AEDT / General Sale: Friday 30th November 10am AEDT

TICKETS & INFO: http://davidroywilliams.com/tours/earthless/

Earthless Australia/New Zealand Tour 2019
21 Feb: Melbourne AU at Max Watt’s House of Music
22 Feb: Wellington NZ at Valhalla
23 Feb: Tauranga NZ at TOTARA STREET
24 Feb: Auckland NZ at Galatos
26 Feb: Wollongong AU at UOW UniBar
28 Feb: Canberra AU at The Basement
1 Mar: Sydney AU at Crowbar Sydney
2 Mar: Narrabeen at Narrabeen RSL
3 Mar: Newcastle at The Small Ballroom
6 Mar: Gold Coast at Miami Tavern
7 Mar: Brisbane at Crowbar Brisbane
8 Mar: Geelong at The Barwon Club Hotel
10 Mar: Perth at Amplifier Capitol

FINAL SHOWS OF THE YEAR

Thu Dec 13: The Satellite in LA (night #1 w/ SACRI MONTI + Salt Lick) *different set each night). TIX: www.facebook.com/events/348048522420075/

Fri Dec 14: The Satellite in LA (night #2 w/ Volcano) *different set each night* TIX: www.facebook.com/events/348048522420075/

Sat Dec 15: The Nile Theater Basement in Mesa AZ (w/ The Oxford Coma) TIX: www.facebook.com/events/1746103095502023/

Sun Dec 16: Belly Up in Solana Beach CA (w/ Volcano) TIX: www.facebook.com/events/359792621432881/

Earthless is:
Bass: Mike Eginton
Drums: Mario Rubalcaba
Guitar & Vocals: Isaiah Mitchell

https://www.facebook.com/earthlessrips
www.twitter.com/earthlessrips
www.instagram.com/earthlessrips
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
https://twitter.com/nuclearblastusa
http://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html
https://silvercurrent.bandcamp.com/
http://www.silvercurrentrecords.com/

Earthless, Live in Vancouver, BC, Oct. 10, 2018

Earthless, “Electric Flame”

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Quarterly Review: Trippy Wicked, Dunbarrow, The Vintage Caravan, Zatokrev & Minsk, Owl Maker, Orbital Junction, Bourbon, Birnam Wood, Wytch Hazel, The Soulbreaker Company

Posted in Reviews on December 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

You know how this goes by now, right? Well, okay, except that because I skipped the Quarterly Review that I otherwise would’ve done in September (or, more likely, October), I’m doubling-up this time. 100 reviews instead of 50. Two full weeks of 10 albums per day. Will I survive? Yeah, probably. Will it be completely overwhelming? Already is. Thanks for asking.

I’ll save the summaries of the year that was for list-time, which is fast approaching, but consider the fact that there are well more than 100 albums I could include in this roundup emblematic of just how vibrant heavy rock and doom are in the US, EU, UK, Australia and elsewhere. It’s a universal thing, and accordingly, there’s a whole universe of it to explore. This is just a sampling.

But yeah, time’s a wastin’, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Stakes n Scale

trippy wicked stakes n scale

An acoustic EP from Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight — who, let’s face it, were way ahead of the curve when it comes to the UK scene’s thing for long and ridiculous band names — is a considerable departure from where they were two years ago on their split/collaboration with GurT (review here), but those familiar with the band might recall their past penchant for the occasional unplugged cover recorded for YouTube. Chris West (also Crawling for Carrion, Glanville, etc.), who engineered the recording and plays guitar, and vocalist Peter Holland (also Elephant Tree) revamp Trippy Wicked‘s “Up the Stakes” from 2012’s Going Home (review here), and cover “Scale the Mountain” by Stubb, of which both were members when the song was written. Together, they make for a nine-minute showcase for the character in Holland‘s voice and the melodies and craft at root in both tracks, and while its arrival feels like kind of a one-off, it’s certainly no less welcome for that.

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Bandcamp

 

Dunbarrow, II

dunbarrow ii

The novelty of new bands playing through vintage gear in order to capture a heavy ’70s sound may have faded, but like all subgenres, as time goes on, the retro-ist style continues to shift and change as bands like Dunbarrow bring new character to established tenets. Their second LP for RidingEasy is aptly-titled II and sways between honoring the likes of Pentagram and acts like Witchcraft who’ve helped craft that band’s hindsight-founded legacy. Dunbarrow‘s noodly style, restrained rhythmic shove and ride-the-riff melody on “Weary Lady” and the foresty creep of “The Demon Within” capture the vibe well, the latter occurring in a second half of II populated with “The Wolf” and “Witches of the Woods Pt. II,” a sequel to the closer of their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) that here leads to the more severe roll of the finale, “On this Night,” emblematic of the changing character of the band even as it reaffirms in its tense midsection the roots from which they sprung.

Dunbarrow on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

The Vintage Caravan, Gateways

the vintage caravan gateways

With their third record and second for Nuclear Blast, Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan affirm not only their passion for the boogie of old on cuts like “The Way” and the strutting “Hidden Streams,” but secure a place as being worthy of the consideration they’ve been given to a degree by the wider Continental European heavy underground. They are strikingly mature in their approach for still being a relatively young band, and their albums have worked quickly to develop a character that is becoming more and more their own. They do the fests and they tour, and so on, but they seem to be engaged in building their listenership one pair of ears at a time. Having a metal-major label behind them hasn’t hurt their promotional cause, but frankly, they’re not as big as they should be for the level of work they’re doing, and even with songs like “Reset” and “Reflections” and the composed-strictly-for-vinyl-sounding closer “Tune Out” to their credit, they’re still largely a word of mouth band, especially in the US. Well, consider this your word of mouth. If you haven’t heard Gateways yet, you should get on that.

The Vintage Caravan on Thee Facebooks

The Vintage Caravan at Nuclear Blast

 

Minsk & Zatokrev, Bigod

zatokrev minsk bigod

Post-metallic powerhouses Minsk and Zatokrev — both of whom hit their 15th anniversary last year — teamed up for a European tour this Fall. To mark the occasion, Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets celebrated with Bigod, a split with two tracks from each band arranged in alternating order — Minsk, then Zatokrev, etc. — intended to highlight the symmetry between them not just of circumstance and root influence in the Neurosis school of atmospheric sludge, but the fact that they share these commonalities despite their origins in Illinois and Switzerland, respectively. Each band opens with a longer track (double points) in Minsk‘s “Invoke/Revive” and Zatokrev‘s “Silent Gods,” each of which push past 13 minutes as likely at any moment to be pummeling as ambient, and follows with two shorter cuts, Minsk‘s “Salvatore” swelling theatrically from its minimalist beginnings while Zatokrev‘s “The Chalice and the Dagger” seems to explode from the foundation the prior band laid out. It must have been a hell of a tour, but whether you saw it or not, the split is a welcome conglomeration from two of post-metal’s strongest acts.

Minsk on Thee Facebooks

Zatokrev on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

Czar of Crickets Productions website

 

Owl Maker, Sky Road

owl maker sky road

Self-recording guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, ex-Guerra, etc.) leads Connecticut-based three-piece Owl Maker through a complex thematic of Native American folklore and heavy metal classicism. The NWOBHM plays a strong role in his riffing style, but one of the two tracks included on the two-songer single Sky Road, “Owl City,” also veers into more extreme territory with a departure from clean vocals to harsher screaming. All told, it’s about eight minutes of music, but Sky Road nonetheless follows Owl Maker‘s earlier-2018 EP, Paths of the Slain (review here), with an uptick in melodic presence in the vocals of Tuozzoli and bassist Jessie May and progression in the chemistry between the two of them and drummer Chris Anderson, and with the fluidity of their transitions between various styles of heavy, their scope seems only to be growing. To wit, “Sky Road” itself is only 3:42, but still demonstrates a clear-headed compositional method based around storytelling and a subtly encompassing range. Whether it’s early warning for what they do next or a conceptual one-off, its quick run seems just to be begging for a 7″ pressing.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Orbital Junction, Orbital Junction

Orbital Junction orbital junction

The Londonderground continues to produce acts ready and willing to worship at the altar of riffs. Orbital Junction‘s self-release debut EP makes an impression not only because of the markedly pro-shop production by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios and the cover art by SoloMacello, but the hooks to live up to those high standards. “6 ft. 2” follows opener “Space Highway” with a bit of dudely chestbeating — note: I don’t know how tall any of them actually are — but the swing of EP centerpiece “Devil’s Double” and the bounce of “Gypsy Queen” speak for the four-piece’s roots and appreciation of straightforward heavy, void of pretense and tapping into an easy mid-paced fluidity that slows up somewhat on closer “Pagan” without really losing the central groove of the offering overall. They’ll have their work cut out for them in distinguishing themselves over the longer term amongst London’s burl-fueled hordes, but their first outing shows their instincts headed in the right direction in terms of songwriting, performance and presentation.

Orbital Junction on Thee Facebooks

Orbital Junction on Bandcamp

 

Bourbon, Fuente Vieja

Bourbon Fuente Vieja

Crisp but warm in its tone and presentation, rife with melody and carrying a laid back spirit despite a fervent underlying groove — the bass on “El Sendero” rests well within gotta-hear-it territory — Spanish purveyors Bourbon emobody some of the best of post-Viaje a 800 Andalusian heavy rock and roll on their third LP, Fuente Vieja (on Spinda). Their fuzz makes its presence known early on “Si Véis La Luz, Corred” and continues as a running theme as tracks like “A Punto de Arder” and the side-A-capping title-cut grow increasingly progressive. There’s room for some shuffle, of course, as side B begins with “La Triste Realidad,” and the slower “Hacia el Sol” gracefully blends electrified wah and acoustic guitars beneath a well-timed standout vocal performance, but the highlight might be eight-minute closer “Destierro,” which seems to bring everything else under one roof while tapping into a poppier structure early — acoustics and electrics aligning effectively circa two minutes in — while providing the album with a graceful and fittingly organic-sounding finale.

Bourbon on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records webstore

 

Birnam Wood, Wicked Worlds

birnam wood wicked worlds

Birnam Wood don’t have time for bullshit, but they do have time for a bit of shenanigans. Thus the 1:44 surge of opener “Time of Purification” leads into the sample-laden roller groove of “Richard Dreyfuss” on their as-of-now-self-released Wicked Worlds, and the “Hole in the Sky”-style “Dunsinane” shifts into the more blown-out “Early Warning,” which, by the time its tectonic low end kicks in, is indeed something of a clarion. At seven-tracks/34-minutes, Wicked Worlds is somewhere between an EP and an LP, but I’d argue it as the latter with the flow from “Greenseer” into the massive “A Song for Jorklum” and the seven-minute finale “Return to Samarkand” making for a righteous side B, but either way, it’s a Boston-crafted assault of grit-tone and aggro doom that finds the band not overwhelmed by the heft of their own tones but able to move and manipulate them to serve the purposes of their songs. Those purposes, incidentally, are mostly about kicking ass. Which they do. Copiously.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

Wytch Hazel, II: Sojourn

Wytch Hazel II Soujorn

It would not seem to be a coincidence that UK self-aware four-piece Wytch Hazel — guitarists Conlin Hendra (also vocals) and Alex Haslam, bassist Matt Gatley and drummer Jack Spencer nod to Wishbone Ash‘s Argus with the cover of their second LP, II: Sojourn (on Bad Omen). They do a lot of that kind of nodding, with a sound culled from a valiant blend of classic progressive and early NWOBHM styles that makes the point of how closely related the two have always been. “The Devil is Here” starts out at a fervent gallop with just an underpinning of Thin Lizzy, while the later “See My Demons” shifts from its steady roll and rousing hook into an acoustic/electric break that seems to pull from Jethro Tull as much as Scorpions. At 10 tracks/45 minutes, they have plenty of time to flesh out their ideas, and they do precisely that, whether it’s the careful unfolding around the keys and acoustics of closer “Angel Take Me” or the over-the-top instrumental push of “Chorale” or the moodier “Wait on the Wind,” the wah solo of which is a highlight on its own. There are some burgeoning harmonies in Hendra‘s vocals, which is an impulse he should follow as it would only enhance the material, but after making their debut with 2016’s Prelude, II: Sojourn finds Wytch Hazel sounding comfortable and well established in their niche.

Wytch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light

the soulbreaker company sewed with light

Progressive, expansive and engaging, the sixth album from Spanish sextet The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light (on Underground Legends), taps into classically Floydian influences on songs like “The Word, the Blade” while still keeping a foot in heavy rock on the prior “Together,” and setting a quick course into a varied sonic persona via the seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Inner Dark.” Hypnotizing not necessarily with drift but with sheer willful exploration, The Soulbreaker Company work with a variety of key sounds and craft-minded ranging guitar in order to effect an atmosphere of thoughtful songwriting even in their most outwardly trippy moments. The sneering semi-psychedelic rock of “Avoid the Crash” and the more stripped-down roll of “Arrhythmia” (video premiere here) lead the way into closer “In the Beginning,” which marks yet another departure with its grandeur of string sounds and electronic beats leading to a chugging big finale. As with the bulk of The Soulbreaker Company‘s work, it requires an active ear, but Sewed with Light both encourages and well earns consideration as more than background noise.

The Soulbreaker Company on Thee Facebooks

Underground Legends on Bandcamp

 

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Corrosion of Conformity Announce Tour Dates with Crowbar, Weedeater, The Obsessed & Mothership; Tickets on Sale Today

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

corrosion of conformity live (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Hey look, I don’t usually post ticket links with tour announcements. Looks shitty — you know I’m all about vanity — makes it harder to read the dates, and if you’re on any form of the internet reading about music you already know how to use said internet to buy tickets. But this isn’t just any tour. Corrosion of ConformityCrowbar and Mothership teaming up with Weedeater and The Obsessed rotating in and out for stretches. It’s fucking significant. And tickets are on sale today, so yeah, I’m posting the links. Can’t help but notice there are three days off after the New York show. Have to wonder what’s up there… Hmm…

Anyway, I don’t know how else to put it but this tour is pretty astounding, so yeah, just get tickets. Whatever. You know these bands. You know why you need to be there. So mark your calendar and go. Easy as that.

Here’s the info (and links) from the PR wire:

corrosion of conformity crowbar tour

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY Announces 2019 North American Headlining Tour With Support From Crowbar, Weedeater, The Obsessed, And Mothership; Tickets On Sale This Friday

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY will kick off 2019 with a long-anticipated North American headlining tour! Set to commence January 19th in San Antonio, Texas, and run through February 27th in Nashville, Tennessee, the month-long trek will include support from Crowbar and Mothership as well as Weedeater and The Obsessed on select shows. Tickets go on sale this Friday! See all confirmed dates below.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY released the critically-acclaimed No Cross No Crown full-length earlier this year via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Captured in North Carolina with longtime producer John Custer, the record marks the first studio recording with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan in over a decade and, earning the #67 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, #12 on the Billboard Top Current Albums Chart, and #3 on the Top Hard Music Albums Chart upon its first week of release, is the highest charting album of the band’s career.

No Cross No Crown is available on CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats. Various order bundles are available at nuclearblast.com/coc-nocrossnocrown.

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY w/ Crowbar, Weedeater (1/19 – 2/13), The Obsessed (2/16 – 2/27), Mothership:
1/19/2019 Alamo City Music Hall – San Antonio, TX [tickets]
1/20/2019 Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK [tickets]
1/21/2019 The Riot Room – Kansas City, MO [tickets]
1/22/2019 Gothic Theatre – Denver, CO [tickets]
1/24/2019 Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ [tickets]
1/25/2019 Fremont Country Club – Las Vegas, NV
1/26/2019 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA [tickets]
1/27/2019 Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles, CA [tickets]
1/29/2019 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA [tickets]
1/31/2019 Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR [tickets]
2/01/2019 Neumos – Seattle, WA [tickets]
2/02/2019 Rickshaw Theatre – Vancouver, BC [tickets]
2/04/2019 Starlite Room – Edmonton, AB [tickets]
2/05/2019 Marquee – Calgary, AB [tickets]
2/07/2019 Park Theatre – Winnipeg, MB
2/08/2019 Fine Line – Minneapolis, MN [tickets]
2/09/2019 Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL [tickets]
2/10/2019 Machine Shop – Flint, MI [tickets]
2/12/2019 Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH [tickets]
2/13/2019 The Gramercy Theatre – New York, NY
2/16/2019 Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA [tickets]
2/17/2019 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA [tickets]
2/18/2019 Ottobar – Baltimore, MD [tickets]
2/20/2019 Opera House – Toronto, ON [tickets]
2/21/2019 Mr. Smalls Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA [tickets]
2/22/2019 Lincoln Theatre – Raleigh, NC [tickets]
2/23/2019 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA [tickets]
2/24/2019 Orpheum – Tampa, FL [tickets]
2/26/2019 Vinyl Music Hall – Pensacola, FL
2/27/2019 The Cowan – Nashville, TN

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY is:
Pepper Keenan – vocals, guitar
Woodroe Weatherman – guitar
Mike Dean – bass, vocals
Reed Mullin – drums, vocals

http://www.coc.com
http://www.facebook.com/corrosionofconformity
http://www.twitter.com/coccabal
http://www.nuclearblast.com
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa

Corrosion of Conformity, “Wolf Named Crow” official video

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Jesus Tapdancing Christ. Uncle Acid and Graveyard are Touring Together.

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats (Photo by Ester Segarra)
graveyard

God damn. I mean, come on. Really? Isn’t there some kind of quota for awesome that this violates? When is it too much for one show?

March 2019. Uncle Acid and Graveyard. North American tour. Co-headline. Come on. I can’t even write the words. You gotta be kidding me.

I don’t know who the fuck sat down and was, okay America, you get Uncle Acid and Graveyard on the road together now. Have fun with that. Like the UN of Doom decided to do us a favor or something. God damn.

Blah blah blah Uncle Acid supporting Wasteland (review here), blah blah blah Graveyard supporting Peace (review here). Are you still reading this? Just go look at the fucking dates and get your ticket already. Think these shows won’t sell out? Come on.

From the PR wire:

uncle acid graveyard tour

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS and GRAVEYARD Announce “Peace Across the Wasteland” Co-Headlining North American Tour

UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS and GRAVEYARD are teaming up next March for the “Peace Across the Wasteland” co-headlining North American Tour. The tour kicks off March 6th in Philadelphia, PA and runs through March 30th in Toronto, ON. Twin Temple will provide support through the March 16th date in San Francisco, CA. On March 18th, Demob Happy will join the tour for the rest of the run. A complete list of dates can be found below. Pre-sales start this Wednesday October 24th and the official public on-sale is this Friday October 26th

Revered Swedish heavy rock band Graveyard is touring in support of their critically heralded 5th album, “Peace”, which is available now from Nuclear Blast. The band’s latest chapter in a celebrated catalog, guides the listener through an ever-changing musical landscape filled with their trademark take on classic rock. From the opening track’s blistering declaration that ‘It Ain’t Over Yet’ to the final note of heart beating bass on the epic and moody rocker ‘Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)’ the band manages to squeeze out every last creative drop of what there is to know, hear and love about the band.

“It’s time to let Peace roll out across the Wasteland. Graveyard and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will co headline a tour of North America in march 2019. This will be the first time the bands tour together and were both bringing tons of new music. This one is going to leave no mind unblown,” says Graveyard of the upcoming run.

The brainchild of singer and guitarist Kevin Starrs, Uncle Acid &The Deadbeats have been making extraordinary music since 2009. After the succesful reissue of “Vol 1” in 2017, they have now returned in support of their widely acclaimed fifth album, “Wasteland” The record is 47 minutes of vital, audacious and frequently bewildering heavy psychedelia, and is instantly recognizable as Starrs’ most immersive and evocative body of work yet.

“We’re looking forward to travelling across the wasteland and destroying minds with Graveyard in 2019. This will be our first North American tour in three years so it feels long overdue. See you down the front!” says Uncle Acid frontman Kevin Starrs.

“Peace Across The Wasteland Tour”
3/6: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer*
3/7: Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live!*
3/8: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel*
3/9: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade*
3/11: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall*
3/12: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live!*
3/14: Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren*
3/15: Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern*
3/16: San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield*
3/18: Seattle, WA @ The Showbox#
3/19: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom#
3/20: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater#
3/22: Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall#
3/23: Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre#
3/25: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue#
3/26: Chicago, IL @ Metro#
3/28: Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel#
3/29: Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre#
3/30: Toronto, ON @ The Danforth Music Hall#

*Twin Temple Supports
#Demob Happy Supports

https://www.uncleacidband.com
https://www.facebook.com/uncleacid/

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

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Shockwave City” official video

Graveyard, “Please Don’t” official video

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Kadavar Post “Into the Night” Live Video; European Tour with Monolord Next Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

kadavar (Photo by Vollvincent)

Kadavar always seem to hit you on multiple levels, don’t they? It’s never just one thing. It’s an album, and a tour. It’s a video, and an entire series of them. It’s a split, and a tour. It’s a tour, and a tour. And so on. Next month, the Berlin three-piece head out with Monolord. Fine. Fair enough. Those’ll be killer shows for the Europeans lucky enough to catch them. Oh, and they’re also releasing a live record called Live in Copenhagen — you’ll never guess where it was recorded — both as a standalone LP and on CD as part of a tour edition of their fourth and latest album, Rough Times (review here). Oh, and they have a video from the live record for “Into the Night,” which originally appeared in all its protometallic righteousness on 2015’s Berlin (review here). Oh, and they’re doing a behind-the-scenes series of mini-documentaries about being in the band and touring all the time.

You know, I bet they have new songs in the works too.

If you’re wondering how Kadavar got to be Kadavar, yeah, righteous songwriting helps. The ’70s retroist vibe of their first two records helped. Well-brushed beards help. But there are plenty of bands out there who do that stuff. Kadavar got to be Kadavar by working their ass off. It’s been six years since their 2012 self-titled debut (discussed here), five since their 2013 breakout, Abra Kadavar (review here), and guitarist/vocalist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann, drummer Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt and bassist Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup have barely stopped to catch their breath. You need amphetamines just to keep up with Kadavar, let alone be in the band.

Look, the point is that even in this often abstract, often horrifying digital post-future it’s not just about social media presence or keeping up momentum on Instagram posts. That’s part of it, make no mistake, but if you’re not actually out there doing something worth plugging for all to see in their feeds on their phones, you might as well be punching yourself in the face. It all feeds into the same cause, and if four records deep into their career you might dare doubt Kadavar‘s belief in their cause, just glance at the fucking string of tour dates they’re about to do. I don’t care how big your bus is, you’re still sleeping on a cot and doing stretches of six shows in a row in five different countries. Kadavar get a lot of credit for putting out good records– and well earned — but they get less credit for how much they back those good records with time on the road and a multifaceted, multi-tiered, multimedia approach to audience engagement, and to me that seems no less passionate than the material they craft itself.

Tour dates below courtesy of the PR wire. Enjoy the video:

Kadavar, “Into the Night (Live)” official video

Berlin-based rock overlords KADAVAR have announced to release a brand new live album called Live in Copenhagen, featuring their infamous show at Pumpehuset in Denmark’s capitol in November 2017 during the band’s tour in support of the most recent album, Rough Times.

Today the band releases the music video for the live cut of ‘Into The Night” from the aforementioned live album.

The album will be available as a tour edition packaged with said studio album (CD only) and also be made available separately on vinyl (see formats below). It’s scheduled to drop on October 12, 2018 via Nuclear Blast.

Pre-order your copy here: http://www.nuclearblast.com/kadavar-roughtimeste

Make sure to catch the band on tour:
KADAVAR + MONOLORD
25.10. D Dresden – Beatpol
26.10. D Magdeburg – Factory
27.10. D Berlin – Festsaal Kreuzberg
28.10. D Rostock – Peter-Weiss-Haus
30.10. DK Aarhus – Atlas
31.10. S Malmö – KB
01.11. N Oslo – John Dee
02.11. S Gothenburg – Sticky Fingers
03.11. D Weissenhäuser Strand / Ostsee – Metal Hammer Paradise *SOLD OUT*
04.11. NL Den Haag – Paard van Troje
06.11. F Angers – Le Chabada
07.11. F Toulouse – Le Metronum
08.11. E Bilbao – Santana 27
09.11. E Murcia – Garaje Beat Club
10.11. E Málaga – Sala Paris 15
11.11. E Sevilla – Sala Custom
14.11. F Six-Fours-les-Plages – Espace Malraux
15.11. CH Lausanne – Le Romandie
16.11. CH Zurich – Mascotte
17.11. NL Eindhoven – Helldorado
18.11. NL Groningen – Vera
20.11. D Bielefeld – Forum
21.11. B Kortrijk – De Kreun
22.11. D Karlsruhe – Substage
23.11. D Leipzig – Conne Island
24.11. D Schweinfurt – Stattbahnhof
25.11. D Neukirchen – Sägewerk
27.11. D Cham – L.A.
28.11. D Munich – Backstage
29.11. D Bochum – Zeche
30.11. D Saarbrücken – Garage
01.12. D Freiburg – Jazzhaus
06.12. D Frankfurt – Batschkapp*
*KADAVAR only

Kadavar, Live Quickies Episode 1

Kadavar, Live Quickies Episode 2

Kadavar on Thee Facebooks

Kadavar on Twitter

Kadavar on Instagram

Nuclear Blast on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast webstore

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Kadavar Set Oct. 12 Release for Live in Copenhagen; “You Found the Best in Me” Video Posted; Touring with Monolord

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

kadavar

One assumes that the photo above of Berlin heavy rock magnates Kadavar was taken at this year’s Duna Jam. In the social medias post, they thank Sardinia, so yeah. The band’s new video below for “You Found the Best in Me” from last year’s Rough Times LP (review here) was filmed in the same location, what with the gorgeous beach and idyllic slow motion and whatnot. I don’t think that’s an effect, by the way. I think time actually slows down at Duna Jam. Just try to watch that video and tell me it doesn’t look like fucking magic there.

More to the point, Kadavar have a new live record that’s going to be released in vinyl Oct. 12 and on CD as a bonus with a tour edition of Rough Times. Fair enough, what with the massive run the three-piece are doing with Sweden’s Monolord between October and December. Kadavar and Monolord on tour together. What a god damn show that would be.

Anyhoozle, video’s at the bottom of this post if, like me, you care to daydream of literal foreign shores. Info on the live album and tour dates are in blue as well, as hoisted from the PR wire:

kadavar live in copenhagen

Kadavar Announce Live in Copenhagen Live Album

Release “You Found The Best In Me” Music Video

Berlin-based rock overlords KADAVAR have announced to release a brand new live album called Live in Copenhagen, featuring their infamous show at Pumpehuset in Denmark’s capitol in November 2017 during the band’s tour in support of the most recent album, Rough Times.

The album will be available as a tour edition packaged with said studio album (CD only) and also be made available separately on vinyl (see formats below). It’s scheduled to drop on October 12, 2018 via Nuclear Blast.

Pre-order your copy here: http://www.nuclearblast.com/kadavar-roughtimeste

Furthermore the band has released the official video for the song “You Found The Best In Me” from Rough Times.

Tracklistings:
Rough Times tour edition bonus CD
1. Skeleton Blues
2. Doomsday Machine
3. Pale Blue Eyes
4. Into The Wormhole
5. The Old Man
6. Die Baby Die
7. Black Sun
8. Living In Your Head
9. Into The Night
10. Forgotten Past
11. Tibulation Nation
12. Purple Sage

Live in Copenhagen Vinyl
1. Skeleton Blues
2. Doomsday Machine
3. Pale Blue Eyes
4. Into The Wormhole
5. The Old Man
6. Die Baby Die
7. Black Sun
8. Living In Your Head
9. Into The Night
10. Forgotten Past
11. Tibulation Nation
12. Purple Sage
13. All Our Thoughts
14. Come Back Life

Make sure to catch the band on tour:
SUMMER FESTIVALS
24.08. D Wörrstadt – Neuborn Open Air

KADAVAR + MONOLORD
25.10. D Dresden – Beatpol
26.10. D Magdeburg – Factory
27.10. D Berlin – Festsaal Kreuzberg
28.10. D Rostock – Peter-Weiss-Haus
30.10. DK Aarhus – Atlas
31.10. S Malmö – KB
01.11. N Oslo – John Dee
02.11. S Gothenburg – Sticky Fingers
03.11. D Weissenhäuser Strand / Ostsee – Metal Hammer Paradise *SOLD OUT*
04.11. NL Den Haag – Paard van Troje
06.11. F Angers – Le Chabada
07.11. F Toulouse – Le Metronum
08.11. E Bilbao – Santana 27
09.11. E Murcia – Garaje Beat Club
10.11. E Málaga – Sala Paris 15
11.11. E Sevilla – Sala Custom
14.11. F Six-Fours-les-Plages – Espace Malraux
15.11. CH Lausanne – Le Romandie
16.11. CH Zurich – Mascotte
17.11. NL Eindhoven – Helldorado
18.11. NL Groningen – Vera
20.11. D Bielefeld – Forum
21.11. B Kortrijk – De Kreun
22.11. D Karlsruhe – Substage
23.11. D Leipzig – Conne Island
24.11. D Schweinfurt – Stattbahnhof
25.11. D Neukirchen – Sägewerk
27.11. D Cham – L.A.
28.11. D Munich – Backstage
29.11. D Bochum – Zeche
30.11. D Saarbrücken – Garage
01.12. D Freiburg – Jazzhaus
06.12. D Frankfurt – Batschkapp*
*KADAVAR only

https://www.facebook.com/KadavarOfficial/
https://twitter.com/kadavarofficial
https://instagram.com/kadavargram/
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
http://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

Kadavar, “You Found the Best in Me” official video

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