Quarterly Review: Wolves in the Throne Room, Gravy Jones, Marmora, Mouth, Les Lekin, Leather Lung, Torso, Jim Healey, Daxma, The Re-Stoned

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review continues today with day two of five. I don’t mind telling you — in fact I’m pretty happy to tell you — that this one’s all over the place. Black metal, post-metal, singer-songwriter stuff, psych jams, heavy rock. I feel like I’ve had to go to great pains not to use the word “weird” like 17 times. But I guess that’s what’s doing it for me these days. The universe has plenty of riffs. All the better when they start doing something different or new or even just a little strange. I think, anyhow. Alright, enough lollygagging. Time to dive in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven

wolves in the throne room thrice woven

True, it’s something of a cliché when it comes to Wolves in the Throne Room to think of their work as “an awaited return,” and perhaps that speaks to the level of anticipation with which their outings are greeted generally. Nonetheless, Thrice Woven arrives via the band’s own Artemisia Records six years after Celestial Lineage, their last proper full-length, and three after its companion, Celestite (review here), so the five-track/42-minute offering from the USBM innovators is legitimately due. The Washington-based troupe’s black-metal-of-the-land remains heavily focused on atmosphere, with a sharp, experimental-feeling turn to ambience and melody in opener “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” and the later drone interlude “Mother Owl, Father Ocean” that precedes the rampaging closer “Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon,” which caps Thrice Woven with a long fade into the sound of rolling waves. Between them, “The Old Ones are with Us” casts a vision of blackened folk-doom that seems to pull off what Agalloch was always aiming for, and centerpiece “Angrboda” blasts through an early wash before splitting near the midsection to minimalism and rebuilding itself on a slow march. 15 years on from their beginning, Wolves in the Throne Room still sound like no one else, and continue to push themselves forward creatively.

Wolves in the Throne Room on Thee Facebooks

Artemisia Records on Bandcamp

 

Gravy Jones, Funeral Pyre

gravy jones funeral pyre

It’s a crazy world into which Gravy Jones invite their listeners on their self-issued debut full-length, Funeral Pyre, and the fire they bring is born of a molten classic psychedelic rock underpinned by low end weight and further distinguished by its use of organ and proto-metallic vocal proclamations. Opener and longest track (immediate points) “Heavens Bliss” tops 10 minutes in its weirdo roll, and subsequent cuts “The Burning of the Witch” and “It Came from the Sea” do little to dispel the off-center vibe, the former dug into rawer NWOBHM-ism and the latter, the centerpiece of the five-tracker, beaming in from some kind of alt-universe Deep Purple idolatry to lead into the particularly doomed “Gilgamesh” and the shuffle-into-noisefest onslaught of the closing title-track. All told it’s 41 minutes of bizarre excursion that’s deceptively cohesive and feels like the start of a longer-term sonic exploration. Whether or not Gravy Jones even out sound-wise or hold to such an unhinged vibe, they definitely pique interest here.

Gravy Jones on Thee Facebooks

Gravy Jones on Bandcamp

 

Marmora, Criterion

marmora criterion

Criterion – yes, like the collection – is the debut EP from Chicago four-piece Marmora, who released a single in 2013 before the core brotherly trio of Zaid (guitar), Alejandro (bass) and Ulysses (drums) Salazar hooked up with vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Allan Cardenas in 2015. The three-tracker that has resulted begins with its title-cut, which thrusts forth a wash of heavy post-rock that makes an impression in weight as much as space before turning to the more grounded, propulsive, aggressive and punkishly noise-caked “Apathy” and closer “Flowers in Your Garden,” which turns traditional heavy rock riffery on its head with frenetic drum work and rhythmic turns that feel born of modern progressive metal. Significant as the crunch factor and aggro pulsations are, Criterion isn’t at all without a corresponding sense of atmosphere, and though there isn’t much tying these three tracks together, for a first EP, there doesn’t need to be. Let that come later. For now, the boot to the ass is enough.

Marmora on Thee Facebooks

Marmora on Bandcamp

 

Mouth, Live ’71

mouth live 71

Perhaps in part as a holdover between their 2017 second album, Vortex (review here), and the impending Floating to be issued in 2018, German progressive retroists Mouth offer Live ’71. No, it was not actually recorded in 1971. Nor, to my knowledge, was it recorded in 2071 and sent back in time in a slingshot maneuver around the sun. It’s just a play on the raw, captured-from-the-stage sound of the 55-minute set, which opens at a 19-minute sprawl with “Vortex” itself and only deep-dives further from there, whether it’s into the keyboard throb of “Parade,” the nuanced twists of “Into the Light” or the more straightforward riffing of “On the Boat.” There’s room for all this scope and the stomp of “Master Volume Voice” in a Mouth set, it would seem, and if Live ’71 is indeed a stopgap, it’s one that shows off the individualized personality of the long-running band who seem to still be exploring even as they approach the 20-year mark.

Mouth on Thee Facebooks

Mouth on Bandcamp

 

Les Lekin, Died with Fear

les lekin died with fear

A second full-length from Austrian heavy psych trio Les Lekin, Died with Fear is perhaps more threatening in its title than in its overall aesthetic. The four inclusions on the 43-minute follow-up to 2014’s All Black Rainbow Moon (review here) set their mission not necessarily in conveying terror or some overarching sense of darkness – though low end is a major factor throughout – as in cosmic hypnosis born of repetition and chemistry-fueled heavy psychedelic progressivism. Well at home in the extended and atmospheric “Orca” (10:41), “Inert” (10:21), “Vast” (8:59) and “Morph” (13:34), the three-piece of guitarist Peter G., bassist Beat B. and drummer Kerstin W. recorded live and in so doing held fast to what feels very much like a natural and developing dynamic between them, their material all the more fluid for it but carrying more of a sense of craft than most might expect from a release that, ostensibly, is based around jams. Sweeping and switched-on in kind, Died with Fear turns out to be remarkably vibrant for something under a banner so grim.

Les Lekin on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records webstore

 

Leather Lung, Lost in Temptation

leather lung lost in temptation

Oh, they’re mad about it, to be sure. I’m not sure what ‘it’ ultimately is, but whatever, it’s got Leather Lung good and pissed off. Still, the Boston-based onslaught specialists’ debut full-length, Lost in Temptation, has more to its cacophony than sheer violence, and though that intelligence is somewhat undercut by the hey-check-it-out-it’s-cartoon-tits-and-also-because-snakes-are-like-wieners cover art, the marriage between fuckall noise intensity on “Gin and Chronic” and trades between growl-topped thrust and more open and melodic plod on “Shadow of the Scythe” and upbeat rock on “Momentum of Misfortune.” Put it in your “go figure” file that the closer “Destination: Void,” which is marked as an outro, is the longest inclusion on the 28-minute offering, but by then due pummel has been served throughout pieces like “Deaf Adder” and “Freak Flag” amid the willful stoner idolatry of “The Spice Melange,” so there’s texture in the assault as well. Yeah though, that cover. Woof.

Leather Lung on Thee Facebooks

Leather Lung on Bandcamp

 

Torso, Limbs

torso limbs

I won’t deny the strength of approach Austria’s Torso demonstrate across Limbs, their StoneFree Records debut LP, in the straightforward structures of songs like “Meaning Existence” or “Mirror of My Mind” or “Skinny and Bony” and the semi-acoustic penultimate grown-up-grunge alternarocker “Down the Highway,” but it’s hard to listen to the nine-minute spread of “Red Moon” in the midsection of the album and not come away from its patient psychedelic execution thinking of it as a highlight. Shades of post-rock and moodier fare make themselves known in “Come Closer” and the righteously melodic “Ride Up,” and closer “Voices” delivers a resounding payoff, but it’s “Red Moon” that summarizes the atmospheric and emotional scope with which Torso are working and most draws together the various elements at play into a cohesive singularity. One hopes it’s a model they’ll follow going forward, but neither should doing so necessarily draw away from the songwriting prowess they show here. It’s a balance that, having been struck, feels ready to be manipulated.

Torso on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Jim Healey, Just a Minute More

jim healey just a minute more

Companioned immediately by a digital release of the demos on which it’s based, including four other songs that didn’t make the cut of the final, studio-recorded EP, Jim Healey’s Just a Minute More conveys its sense of longing in the title and moves quickly to stake its place in a long-running canon of singer-songwriterisms. Healey, known for fronting metal and heavy rock acts like We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, Set Fire, etc., could easily come across as a case of dual personality in the sweetly, unabashedly sentimental, acoustic-based opener “The Road” or the more-plugged-in “You and I” at the outset, but in the fuzzed-out centerpiece “Swamp Thing,” the emotionally weighted memorable hook of “Faced,” and the piano-topped payoff of closer “Burn Up,” the 18-minute EP unfurls a sense of variety and a full-band sound that sets the project Jim Healey on its own course even apart from the man himself. Some of those other demos aren’t too bad either. Just saying.

Jim Healey on Thee Facebooks

Jim Healey on Bandcamp

 

Daxma, The Head Which Becomes the Skull

daxma-the-head-which-becomes-the-skull

Signed to Magnetic Eye for the release, Oakland post-metal five-piece Daxma answer the ambition of their half-hour single-song 2016 debut EP, The Nowhere of Shangri-La, with the even-fuller-length The Head Which Becomes the Skull, demonstrating a clear intent toward sonic patience and ambient reach that balances subtle builds and crashes with engaging immersiveness and nod. Three of the six total inclusions top 10 minutes, and within opener “Birth” (10:53), “Abandoning All Hope” (11:34) and the penultimate “Our Lives Will be Erased by the Shifting Sands of the Desert” (13:42), one finds significant breadth, but not to be discounted either are the roll of “Wanderings/Beneath the Sky,” the avant feel of the closing title-track or even the 80-second drone interlude “Aufheben,” which like all that surrounds it, feeds into a consuming ambience that undercuts the notion of The Head Which Becomes the Skull as a debut album for its purposefulness and evocative soundscaping.

Daxma on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Chronoclasm

the re-stoned chronoclasm

For their first new outing since they revisited their debut EP in 2016 with Reptiles Return (review here), Moscow instrumentalists The Re-Stoned cast forth Chronoclasm, a six-track long-player of new material recorded over 2015 and 2016 that ties together its near-hour-long runtime with a consistency of guitarist Ilya Lipkin’s lead tone and a steady interweaving of acoustic elements. “Human Without Body,” “Save Me Under the Emerald Glass,” “Psychedelic Soya Barbecue” and the title-track seem to have some nuance of countrified swing to their groove, but it’s lysergic swirl that ultimately rules the day throughout Chronoclasm, Yaroslav Shevchenko’s drums keeping the material grounded around Lipkin’s guitar and Vladimir Kislyakov’s bass. The trio are joined on percussion by Evgeniy Tkachev on percussion for the CD bonus track “Quartz Crystals,” which picks up from the quiet end of “Chronoclasm” itself and feels like a nine-minute improve extension of its serene mood, adding further progressive sensibility to an already wide scope.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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The Hazytones Announce Jan./Feb. Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the-hazytones-photo-brooke-dee

Quebecois neo-psych rockers The Hazytones will play from Jan. 6 through Feb. 20 on their upcoming tour — shows all across the US as well as in Mexico and Canada — with a total of three days off. Three days in 46. There is a word for that kind of tour:

“Significant.”

It’s the kind of tour with three shows in Michigan. The kind of tour that hits Manhattan and Brooklyn on consecutive nights after Jersey, Boston and Upstate NY. The kind of tour that does Tempe and Flagstaff and then circles back around to Yuma before heading south of the border. You get the idea. I think “significant” covers it.

They go supporting their self-titled album, out on Ripple Music and Oak Island Records and streaming at the bottom of this post. Supporting the crap out of it, I would say.

Here are the dates:

the hazytones tour

THE HAZYTONES ANNOUNCE HUGE WINTER TOUR

Here’s the tour dates for our next tour! Mainly in the USA but also in Mexico and Canada. A total of 43 shows in 46 days this will be the ride of our lives. We can’t wait to see you all on the road! Art by DK13 Design.

The Hazytones on tour:
01.06 Albany NY The Low Beat
01.07 Boston MA O’Brien’s Pub
01.08 Asbury Park NJ The Saint
01.09 Manhattan NY The Shrine
01.10 Brooklyn NY Saint Vitus
01.11 Philadelphia PA The Pharmacy
01.12 Pittsburgh PA Smiling Moose
01.13 Indianapolis IN Black Circle
01.14 Nashville TN The Crying Wolf
01.15 Memphis TN The Hi Tone
01.16 New Orleans LA Santos
01.18 Houston TX Acadia Bar and Grill
01.19 Austin TX The Spider House Chapel
01.20 Lawton OK Railroad Saloon
01.21 Albuquerque NM Burt Tiki Lounge
01.22 Santa Fe NM Boxcar
01.23 El Paso TX Rockhouse Bar and Grill
01.24 Tempe AZ Yucca Tap Room
01.25 Flagstaff AZ The Green Room
01.26 Las Vegas NV The Dive Bar
01.27 Yuma AZ Maverick Bar
01.28 Mexicali MX-BCN Taberna Lebaron
01.30 Tijuana MX-BCN Mous Tache
01.31 San Diego CA The Merrow
02.01 Los Angeles CA Viper Room
02.02 San Jose CA Caravan Lounge
02.03 San Francisco CA Thee Parkside
02.04 Sacramento CA Blue Lamp
02.06 Santa Cruz CA Subrosa
02.07 Reno NV Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor
02.08 Salt Lake City UT Urban Lounge
02.09 Denver CO Bar Bar
02.10 Lawrence KS Replay Lounge
02.11 Kansas City KS The Riot Room
02.12 Omaha NE The Lookout Lounge
02.13 Minneapolis MN Kitty Kat Club
02.14 Milwaukee WI Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall
02.15 Chicago IL Reggies
02.16 Detroit MI PJ’s Lager House
02.17 Lansing MI The Avenue Cafe
02.18 Ypsilanti MI West Cross Station

The Hazytones are:
Mick Martel – guitar/vocals
Adam Gilbert – bass/backing vocals
Antoine St-Germain – drums

https://www.facebook.com/TheHazytones/
http://www.twitter.com/TheHazytones/
https://www.instagram.com/thehazytones/
https://thehazytones.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/oakislandrecords/
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?k=1072&lang=eng

The Hazytones, The Hazytones (2016)

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Humulus Touring Germany Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Beer-guzzling Italian heavy rockers Humulus might be a little late for Oktoberfest, but one imagines they’ll find plenty to keep their livers busy with anyway as they trek through Germany next week on a Noisolution-booked six-day jaunt supporting earlier-2017’s Reverently Heading into Nowhere (review here). The band offers a quick check-in ahead of the run, and it turns out they’ve almost completely sold through the first pressing of their second long-player, and though more are reportedly 200 more on the way, if you happen to be in the path of the tour and want a copy, now would seem to be the time to pick it up. Fair enough.

Reverently Heading into Nowhere was released through Taxi Driver Records and Oak Island Records. Here’s that update from the band, some cool art and the dates for next week’s stint:

Humulus – Humulus Germanicus Tour

We really can’t wait to hit the road and have a blast in this 6 days tour in Germany. In the past we had 2 shows in Germany (one at Keep it Low in 2015) and were always very nice situations. When our last LP came out it was well reviewed by German magazines and blogs and our German label (Oak Island Records) and promoting agency (Noisolution) are doing a great work with us. We really expect to having good time, nice shows and meet old and new friends.

We have only few copies left of our last LP in limited edition vinyl for this tour… then new 200 copies will be repressed by the label in black version and they will be available from spring 2018. So don’t be shy German people: come to our shows, enjoy our music, and grab the last copies of our R.H.I.N.O.

20.11.2017 – Munich, Rumours
21.11.2017 – Wiesbaden, Kesselhaus w/ The Flying Eyes
22.11.2017 – Düsseldorf, District 6
23.11.2017 – Berlin, Jägerklause Berlin w/ Dead Kittens
24.11.2017 – Jena, Kulturbahnhof Jena w/ Nap
25.11.2017 – Ulm, Kradhalle

Tour is booked and promote by Noisolution

Humulus is:
Andrea Van Cleef: guitar, voice
Giorgio Bonacorsi: bass
Massimiliano Boventi: drums

www.facebook.com/humulusband
www.humulus.bandcamp.com
www.taxidriverstore.com
www.taxidriverstore.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/oakislandrecords/

Humulus, Reverently Heading into Nowhere (2017)

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Pale Grey Lore Self-Titled LP Due Dec. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

pale grey lore

I was a big fan of the self-titled first full-length from Ohio heavy rockers Pale Grey Lore (review here) when it was released last year by the band on their own. Enough so that I considered it one of 2016’s best debut albums, and I’ll happily stand by that a year after the fact. Right out of the gate, the Columbus natives showcased an ability to craft memorable songs that were about more than just their hooks, but still delivered those with righteous efficiency. Their material was tight, mature in a way that undercut the fact that it was their first album, and wholly unpretentious. There was, in short, a lot to like.

On Dec. 1, Kozmik Artifactz offshoot Oak Island Records will release Pale Grey Lore‘s Pale Grey Lore as a limited LP. The band has a release show booked in their hometown at The Spacebar and preorders are set to start soon. If you didn’t dig into the album when it came out last year, no time like the present to get caught up. You’ll find it streaming in full at the bottom of this post.

Dig:

pale-grey-lore-pale-grey-lore-lp

Originally released on CD and digital download in June of 2016, Pale Grey Lore’s self-titled debut album is slated for vinyl release on December 1st 2017 via German label Kozmik Artifactz’s imprint Oak Island Records. Featuring cover art by Joel Chastain, the album was recorded and engineered by Andy Sartain and mastered by Harold LaRue.

Melodic vocals and tasteful harmonies echo alongside thunderous drums, while fuzz-drenched reverberating guitars push demon-haunted vintage amplifiers to the brink. Spanning the genres of psych rock, doom metal, post-punk and drone pop, the album’s nine tracks are refreshingly diverse, yet part of a remarkably coherent whole that adds up to much more than the sum of its parts.
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The vinyl release party will take place on Friday December 1st at The Spacebar in Columbus Ohio and will feature special guests Matter of Planets (from Columbus) and Pillärs (from Cleveland).

https://www.facebook.com/palegreylore/
https://twitter.com/palegreylore
http://palegreylore.bigcartel.com/
http://palegreylore.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/oakislandrecords/
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?k=1072&lang=eng

Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore (2016)

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The Hazytones Sign to Ripple Music & Oak Island Records; Album out Nov. 3

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Attitude-laden heavy garage-psych doomers The Hazytones have inked not one, but two new label deals for their self-titled debut. The Montreal three-piece of Mick Martel, Adam Gilbert and Antoine St-Germain also issued the album digitally on their own in 2016 and subsequently earlier this year on tape through Hellas Records in Indonesia and Canada’s own Sunmask Records, so it’s safe to say at this point that the record has engendered some significant response.

Listening back through the nine-track offering and basking in the bassy groove of “Day of the Dead,” the space-cultistry of centerpiece “Children of the Universe” and the forward thrust of “Fool’s Paradise,” yeah, I get it. They’re right in between a couple different lines of subgenre and play to one side or another very well in these tracks, all the while casting an identity of their own in the process. I posted about the band back in Spring when they were headed out on tour and the record made enough of an impression on me then to keep them in mind. They definitely seem like suitable fodder for a wider release. Cheers all round.

Here’s info and announcements gathered from the social medias:

the-hazytones-photo-brooke-dee

The Hazytones – Ripple Music & Oak Island Records

It’s a big day today, we announce our signature on Ripple Music!!! Vinyl’s and cd’s are coming November 3rd. In a week we will have all the USA dates for our tour in January.

Here’s the other big news we had in store. Announcing our partnership with Kozmik Artifactz. They will be distributing our album, as well as producing Cd’s/Vinyl’s through their sub label Oak Island Records. Release date is November 3rd!

Says Ripple Music:

Please welcome to the family. Canadian retro doom rockers, The Hazytones!! Debut album due out this November with a new new album to follow next year. So psyched to work with these guys and bring them into the family.

Says Oak Island Records:

We are extremely excited to be partnering with our good friends at Ripple Music to bring you guys the rockin’ debut by Montreal power trio, The Hazytones

The debut will drop early November with Ripple handling the US release and Oak Island Records distributing throughout Europe. These guys rock hard, so be sure to check them out!

The Hazytones is a group of stoner rock founded in 2015 in Montreal. In September 2015, The Hazytones began the production of their debut album recorded and mixed at ReelRoad studio located in Rosemont – La Petite-Partie in Montreal. After a few month of labor, the band launched his first single ‘’Living On The Edge’’, followed by a music video. To mark the imminent release of their first titled album, the trio got on the road across Canada(23 shows) from August to September 2016.

The band launched their first titled album on September 22nd at La Rockette bar in Montreal at the Pop Montreal festival. The album was well received by the stoner/psychedelic community in Canada, USA and Europe.

More recently, the band toured Europe (UK, Belgium, Switzerland and France) for 28 days and 10 days after they embarked on a Canadian tour that led them all the way to Vancouver and back.

For the Hazytones future, a full U.S.A tour is scheduled in January and a second album is on its way. The band has been signed to two labels, Ripple Music and Kozmik Artifacts. Both labels will produce Cd, Vinyls and handle the digital distribution. Everything is set to be release on November 3rd.

The Hazytones are:
Mick Martel – guitar/vocals
Adam Gilbert – bass/backing vocals
Antoine St-Germain – drums

https://www.facebook.com/TheHazytones/
http://www.twitter.com/TheHazytones/
https://www.instagram.com/thehazytones/
https://thehazytones.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/oakislandrecords/
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?k=1072&lang=eng

The Hazytones, The Hazytones (2016)

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Tia Carrera, Humulus, King Buffalo, Telekinetic Yeti, High Plains

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

the obelisk radio cavum

You may or may not be overly concerned to find out, but we’re still running on the backup server for The Obelisk Radio while the data is transferred to the new hard drive. Judging by the number of listeners at any given point, you’re not. The numbers are still pretty good. Nonetheless, I cannot express the depth of my appreciation to Slevin for sorting out this mess. I had no idea when I hit him up on a Sunday to be like, “Uh, the stream is down” that it would be a project requiring more than a month of his valuable time. Dude is a godsend. I should send him a cheese basket.

Instead, he gets a zip file with the following releases to add to that temporary stream (they’ll go on the new server as well when that’s operational). Because I am a shitty friend, and because cheese baskets are expensive as hell. Let’s do this.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for April 10, 2017:

Tia Carrera, Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll)

tia-carrera-laid-back-front-side-rock-and-roll

It’s been a hot minute since last we heard from Austin, Texas, three-piece instrumentalists Tia Carrera. The last offering the heavy psych jammers had out with a 2013 vinyl edition (review here) of their 2011 full-length, Cosmic Priestess (review here). So upwards of six years, if you want to go by the original release date of what was their second album for Small Stone Records. They reportedly have a new one coming this Fall, so one might think of the nine-and-half-minute single “Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll),” which was recorded live this past January with the lineup of guitarist Jason Morales, bassist Curt Christiansen and drummer Erik Conn, as a lead-in for that. True, Tia Carrera haven’t been completely absent — they played Psycho Las Vegas in 2016 and one sees their name on various SXSW bills each year — but either way, it’s a welcome studio return from a band who were ahead of the post-Earthless curve that has swelled further out West, and who, despite a kind of raw, garage-style recording here, nonetheless showcase the chemistry and fluidity that separated them from the pack to start with. As the title promises, the jam is laid back, rife with swirling guitar, winding basslines and drumming that, while propulsive doesn’t take away from the languid overarching vibe. They’ve made the song a name-your-price download, so all the better should you be inclined to dig in. And you should be.

Tia Carrera on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records website

 

Humulus,Reverently Heading into Nowhere

humulus-reverently-heading-into-nowhere

With nodding groove, fuzzed tonality and, for good measure, flourish of psychedelia, Brescia, Italy, trio Humulus may be working amid familiar elements on their second long-player, Reverently Heading into Nowhere (on Taxi Driver and Oak Island Records), but the results are impeccably constructed. The album, which follows their 2015 Electric Warlrus EP (review here) and 2012 self-titled debut, offers six tracks that carefully balance atmosphere and heft, cuts like “Catskull” digging into classic desert rock sensibilities via the modern European approach of a band like 1000mods while longer pieces like opener “Distant Deeps or Skies,” “Anachronaut” and the 11-minute finale “Rama Kushna” save room for increasingly expansive jamming, the latter the most spacious of all with floating guitar over a satisfyingly warm bass in its midsection leading to an instrumental apex that, while predictable, is no less engaging for that upon its arrival. Even shorter pieces like “The Gold Rush” and “The Great Hunt” find a balance between rolling rhythm and broader psychedelic consciousness, and when guitarist/vocalist Andrea Van Cleef, bassist Giorgio Bonacorsi and drummer Massimiliano Boventi lock into a slowdown, as at the end of “The Great Hunt” or in the Snail-esque “Anachronaut” earlier, the effect is duly massive to fit with the rhinoceros on the album’s cover. Their reverence is palpable, and throughout the 43-minute outing, Humulus make it plain that wherever they’re actually heading, they welcome their audience to come along for the trip.

Humulus on Thee Facebooks

Taxi Driver Records webstore

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

King Buffalo, Live at Wicked Squid Studios (6.16.16)

king-buffalo-live-at-wicked-squid-studios

It’s nothing more or less than a live set, but as King Buffalo have already wrapped a round of US touring and were recently announced as support for Stickman Records labelmates Elder on their next European run, it seems only fair to grab the name-your-price Live at Wicked Squid Studios (6.16.16) while the grabbing’s good and consider the four-track/29-minute release a document of their chemistry as a live band as they marked the release of their debut album, Orion (review here), last summer. Not everything they play comes from that record — “New Time” was featured on their 2015 STB Records split with Lé Betre (review here) — but in their tone, breadth and expanse, they represent the full-length all the same. The psychedelic wash of “New Time” leads the way out of opener “Orion” and into a one-two medley of “Kerosene / Goliath Pt. 2,” and they finish by setting the controls for the heart of a nine-minute rendition of “Drinking from the River Rising,” which also closed Orion and proves no less immersive in this setting than it did on the studio offering. I’ve made no secret of the potential that I think resides in the Rochester, NY, three-piece, and as they move further into becoming a touring band, they’re only doing the work of bringing that potential to life. It may be that at some point we’ll look back on Live at Wicked Squid Studios as a kind of primitive beginning — I don’t want to predict where they’ll go or how their sound will continue to develop — but even so, it’s fortunate that we’ll have it to look back on at all.

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable

telekinetic yeti abominable

This shit is like catnip for riff-hounds. Iowan two-piece Telekinetic Yetstoner-march their way into the hearts and minds of the converted and onto the list of 2017’s best debuts with Abominable (on Sump Pump Records), a clean eight-track/41-minute long-player marked out by its tonal thickness and shifts between using it for Sleep-style roll and fuzzier fare, perhaps most directly and efficiently summarized on the single “Stoned and Feathered,” but in fluid proportion throughout cuts like the lumbering “Lightbearer” and the neo-stoner-delic chug of “Beneath the Black Sun” as well. Comprised just of guitarist/vocalist Alex Baumann and drummer Anthony Dreyer — though I’ll be damned if somebody isn’t playing bass on “Electronaut” — Telekinetic Yeti seem to burst out of the gate with a solid idea of who their audience is and what their audience wants, and to their credit, they deliver just that and have been met with a flurry of hyperbole for their efforts. I can’t really argue with the heft or cohesion of the material on Abominable, and the willingness on the part of Baumann and Dreyer to inject some atmospheric depth into the aptly-named nine-minute tour de force “Colossus” and closer “Himalayan Hymn” bodes well for their chances of leaving a mark over the longer term, even if there’s growing to be done before they get there. Still, as their first time out, Telekinetic Yeti‘s Abominable signals a righteousness of intent and wholly succeeds in capturing the attention it plainly seeks. The next few years will write their story, but if these guys take this show on the road, they could indeed turn into a monster.

Telekinetic Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Sump Pump Records on Bandcamp

 

High Plains, Cinderland

high plains cinderland

The story goes that Cinderland was recorded in Wyoming in a refurbished schoolhouse by the duo of ambient multi-instrumentalist Scott Morgan and classical cellist Mark Bridges — working together under the moniker High Plains — and composed very much with that high-altitude, utterly empty landscape in mind. Represented in a pervasive minimalism that makes every swell of volume on “The Dusk Pines” stand out and shifts between piano, cello, guitar, drone and electronics cinematic in their drama like the soundtrack to one of those foreboding Westerns where nobody talks because they’re afraid that if the earth hears them speak it will open up and swallow them whole — which it might — it is an immersive, resolutely melancholy execution across nine tracks and 36 minutes that is likewise stark and beautiful. “A White Truck” and “Hypoxia” carry some nuance of the paranoid, but there’s resolution in “Blood that Ran the Rapids” and “Song for a Last Night” that, like the high desert itself, teems with life while giving the impression of being a void for the lack of human presence. Mood-affecting in its atmospherics, Cinderland draws the listener into this world that is both gorgeous and threatening, and fits itself to the narrative that birthed it with resonance and depth. One hopes it is not a one-off collaboration between the Canadian Morgan and Wisconsin-based Bridges and that wherever their next trip together takes them — go to New Mexico! — they’re able to likewise capture the setting in such evocative fashion.

High Plains on Thee Facebooks

Kranky Records on Bandcamp

 

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Nightstalker European Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

nightstalker

It was half a decade between releases before Greek heavy rockers Nightstalker unveiled their seventh album, As Above, So Below (review here), late last year. They’re wasting precious little time in getting out to support it. This Spring, the Athens-based outfit will head out for slots at Riffolution, Hell Over Esslingen and Soundart festivals over the course of March, April and May, and around those appearances, they’ll spend a good amount of their days touring. I don’t know when the last time the veteran four-piece hit the road was, but they’re covering a good amount of ground across Europe this time, and it seems likely more dates will follow for later in 2017.

Shows are presented by Total Volume Agency, who sent the following along the PR wire:

nightstalker euro tour

Nightstalker – European Tour 2017

It’s the original superfreaks Nightstalker – louder than ever!

There’s not much to say about Nightstalker. The three decades on heavy rock duty, the countless hours on stage, as well as the worldwide praise and respect speak for themselves. With last-year’s nifty “As Above, So Below” in their luggage, the legendary Greek four-piece will bring its smoked up ter-RIFF-ic grooves to no less that 12 countries across Europe, in a massive tour organised by Total Volume.

Check the dates, find a town near you, grab a beer and come say high!

Dates:
25/3 – Manchester (UK) @ Riffolution Festival
01/4 – Sofia (BG) @ Live N Loud
02/4 – Bucharest (RO) @ Quantic
05/4 – Cluj (RO) @ The Shelter
06/4 – Timisoara (RO) @ Daos Club
07/4 – Novi Sad (RS) @ The Quarter
08/4 – Graz (AT) @ Club Wakuum
10/4 – Vienna (AT) @ Das Bach
12/4 – Regensburg (DE) @ Alte Mazerei
13/4 – Berlin (DE) @ Wild At Heart
15/4 – Copenhagen (DK) @ Beta2300
19/4 – Cologne (DE) @ Limes
20/4 – Arnhem (NL) @ Willemeen
21/4 – Oldenburg (DE) @ Cadillac
22/4 – Munster (DE) @ Rare Guitar
25/4 – Paris (FR) @ Le Batofar
26/4 – Lucerne (CH) @ Bruch Brothers
28/4 – Linz (AT) @ Ann And Pat
29/4 – Frankfurt (DE) @ Yachtklub
30/4 – Esslingen (DE) @ Hell Over Esslingen Festival
01/5 – Erba (IT) @ Centrale Rock
03/5 – Zagreb (HR) @ Vintage Industrial Bar
06/5 – Bucharest (RO) @ Soundart Festival

Nightstalker is:
Argy (Vocals)
Andreas Lagios (Bass)
Tolis Motsios (Guitars)
Dinos Roulos (Drums)

https://www.facebook.com/nightstalkerband/
https://nightstalker.bandcamp.com/
http://www.nightstalkerband.com/
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?k=1072&lang=eng
https://www.facebook.com/oakislandrecords/
https://www.facebook.com/totalvolumebackline/

Nightstalker, As Above, so Below (2016)

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Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma: Tonal Paradox (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

spaceslug-time-travel-dilemma

[Click play above to stream the premiere of the title-track of Spaceslug’s Time Travel Dilemma, featuring Sander Haagmans. Album is out Feb. 17.]

When Wroclaw trio Spaceslug made their debut last year, they immediately distinguished themselves via a sense of space created through big riffs presented with even bigger tones, vocal laze and a heavy psychedelic undertone of jamming that made the whole affair more fluid. That album was Lemanis (review here), and it sold completely through its cassette (on Southcave Records), CD (on BSFD Records) and vinyl (on Oak Island Records) pressings. Not surprisingly, as the Polish group follow-up such a successful first outing, their new album, Time Travel Dilemma, does not attempt to fix what wasn’t broken in their sound. Those who caught onto the depth and vibe of Lemanis will find the six tracks of Time Travel Dilemma work from a similarly potent brew — the key differences are of affirmation and progression.

Yes, both records meld drifting melodies and massive tones together to affect a thickened sonic liquefaction, but Time Travel Dilemma, frankly, learns from its predecessor and moves the band — guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik, bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka and drummer/vocalist Kamil Ziólkowski — forward in a style that’s quickly becoming their own. In other words: Progression. The affirmation comes in letting their audience know that their first offering was no fluke, but rather the beginning steps on a path that the languid heft of “Parahorizon” on Time Travel Dilemma finds them walking further along. The vocals are more confident. The songs are more distinct, and the flow between them over the total 44 minutes more resonant. It is simply a more realized interpretation of Spaceslug‘s sound.

As it should be. From opener “Osiris” to the closing title-track’s guest spot from Sander Haagmans, formerly bassist/vocalist of Sungrazer and currently of the grungier The Whims of the Great MagnetTime Travel Dilemma brings forth immersion via its spaciousness as much as its nod. The Haagmans appearance at the end as “Time Travel Dilemma” moves easily into its second-half jam couldn’t be more appropriate, since Sungrazer seem to be a chief influence for Spaceslug here and were last time as well. Those roots can be heard in the swinging rocker “The Great Pylon Collider” as much as “Parahorizon” or the finale as the album shifts back and forth between consecutively shorter tracks and longer ones, cleverly creating momentum as it goes. Perhaps it’s easier just to view it by the numbers:

1. Osiris (6:56)
2. Living the Eternal Now (8:40)
3. The Great Pylon Collider (5:42)
4. Parahorizon (10:48)
5. What Falls is Fallen (1:57)
6. Time Travel Dilemma (10:07)

Although the closer isn’t actually the longest inclusion, the openness of the ground it covers gives a sense of expansion anyhow, and with “Osiris” at the outset, “The Great Pylon Collider” and — perhaps most crucially — the penultimate interlude “What Falls is Fallen” creating a bridge between “Parahorizon” and its sprawl, “Time Travel Dilemma” serves as the end-point to which all the gorgeous, grooving motion seems to be heading all along. That’s not to take anything away from the impression left by earlier cuts. “Osiris” is pivotal in setting the stage for what follows and a standout on its own — Rutka‘s bass work there and across the entirety of Time Travel Dilemma should be a blueprint for other groups to learn from — and the apparent ease with which Spaceslug move from subtler hypnosis to more driving crescendos on “Living the Eternal Now” — which in its second half also samples Alan Watts, whose voice appeared as well on YOB‘s Clearing the Path to Ascend — not only makes that track a highlight, but along with the vocal melodies it underscores the growth the band has willfully undertaken in such a short time.

And while that growth, which can also be heard in the push of “The Great Pylon Collider” and in crossing the 23-minute span of “Parahorizon,” the ambient “What Falls is Fallen” and “Time Travel Dilemma” itself, is a key element, anyone among the converted who might be catching onto Spaceslug for the first time shouldn’t have any trouble getting on board with where they’re coming from, the warm and natural vibe of their sound (recorded and mixed at Satanic Audio) or the lack of pretense in their presentation. The latter especially is enough to make one wonder just what exactly the “dilemma” is that Spaceslug are having in their fourth-dimensional excursion — everything seems to be rolling along so smoothly — but if there’s a narrative at work in the tracks, it would seem to be resolved by the time the finale disintegrates, leaving behind only a sense of balance in the cosmos; satisfying in the reality it’s already created and seeming to align toward future expansion.

While Time Travel Dilemma comes as a quick turnaround from Lemanis, released almost exactly one year later, the development it shows reinforces the potential Spaceslug seemed to have on their debut while also moving forward within it. As they hopefully continue to grow their sound, one wouldn’t be surprised to find them following varied inclinations — here more patience in their jamming, there more structured songcraft — but part of what makes Time Travel Dilemma so effective is its apparent unwillingness to be settled in a single direction or the other. One hopes that adventurous impulse persists as well, since it will only further the richness of approach Spaceslug unfurl here. There are aspects of Time Travel Dilemma that most certainly play to genre, but even these do so with a palpable intention toward leaving an individualized mark rather than simply repeating what’s come before. To call that admirable would be an understatement.

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records at Kozmik Artifactz

BSFD Records on Thee Facebooks

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