Catapult the Dead Set Nov. 15 Release for A Universal Emptiness

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

catapult the dead

It doesn’t take long into their second album, A Universal Emptiness, for Oakland post-doom six-piece Catapult the Dead to set an atmosphere as heavy emotionally as it is in its tonal substance. Doom Stew Records will have the four-track/38-minute full-length out Nov. 15 as the follow-up to the band’s 2014 debut, All is Sorrow, and while bits and pieces like some of the emergent riffing in opener “Till it Goes Away” and some of the Steve Von Till-style vocals that accompany might be traced back to Neurosis, cuts like the organ-laced “Last Breath” and the piano-topped album apex “Burning Womb” put that churn to individualized purposes.

I’ll hope to have more to come on this one. Digging the vibe a lot so far. The PR wire had this to say on it:

Catapult the Dead A Universal Emptiness

Catapult the Dead release new album on November via Doom Stew Records

Hailing from Oakland, Ca, the 6 piece crushing tribe of doom Catapult the Dead, are teaming up with San Francisco’s Doom Stew Records for their latest full length release “A Universal Emptiness”, due on November 15th, 2017.

Catapult the Dead bring to the genre their own version of musical sorrow, despondency, and longing. This unique and haunting outfit is as beautifully devastating as it is callous and brooding.

A Universal Emptiness is a 38:39 minute apocalyptic journey. Sweeping synth and organ soundscapes lead you eerily, through a dark thunderous wall of sound. With thick brutal guitars at the core, it’s rhythmic foundation is dragged angrily along by layered bass and powerful booming drums. All the while baleful roars and ghostly wales round out this bleak, crushingly dynamic, full length offering.

A Universal Emptiness will be available on November 15th. CD and LP’s are available through Doom Stew Records. Digital download and cassette tapes are available directly through Catapult the Dead. The 12″ vinyl comes in 3 special color variants to compliment thebeautiful illustrations created by Macedonian artist Pig Hands. Also featuring insert and label Illustrations by Death Ink.

Tracklisting:
1. Till It Goes Away
2. Anti-Aether
3. Last Breath
4. Burning Womb

Catapult the Dead are:
Ben Hiteman – Vocals and Percussion
Emad Dajani – Guitar
Thomas Lilliston – Guitar
Garrick O’Connor – Keyboards and Guitars
Dan Brownson – Bass
Patrick Spain – Drums

http://facebook.com/catapultthedead
https://catapultthedead.bandcamp.com
http://catapultthedead.bigcartel.com/
https://www.doomstew.com

Catapult the Dead, All is Sorrow (2014)

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Freak Valley 2018 First Announcement: Om to Headline

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

Freak Valley 2018 takes place between May 30 and June 2 in Netphen, Germany, and the venerable festival announces today that no less than Om will serve as the first of its headliners. There’s been no solid word of a new Om album for next year — though a return trip abroad in Spring is bound to fuel speculation — and 2018 will make it a full six since the 2012 release of Advaitic Songs (review here), though when you issue what continues to resonate and thrive as one of the best records of the decade, you more than earn the right to take your time on a follow-up. Yes, I mean that. If it’s not Advaitic Songs and YOB‘s Clearing the Path to Ascend duking it out in your mind for the top spot right now, you’re fucking up as regards taste.

Om have two shows currently booked in Europe for 2018. Freak Valley and a date in Greece put together by Smoke the Fuzz Gigs. Details on that are below.

I’m proud to say I wrote the following announcement and it’s looking like I may finally get to attend Freak Valley next year. Stay tuned for more lineup updates to come, since as you can see, this is just the beginning:

Om-Freak-Valley-2018

Call to Prayer: OM to Headline Freak Valley Festival 2018

Freaks rejoice!

Every year, Om are one of the most requested bands to join the Freak Valley lineup, and as the first band to be revealed for Freak Valley 2018, we couldn’t be more thrilled to finally welcome Om as a headliner!

Led by bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, Om are the band who turned “heavy” into a spiritual movement. They began in 2003 after the dissolution of Cisneros’ prior outfit – a little band called Sleep; maybe you’ve heard of them – and their earliest works, 2005’s Variations on a Theme and 2006’s Conference of the Birds, are nothing short of modern classics. It was with their fifth and latest album, 2012’s Advaitic Songs, however, that Om most fully embraced their own breadth and the mystical visions their sound could conjure.

Cisneros, together with drummer Emil Amos (also Grails, Holy Sons) and keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (also Lichens) cast forth five lush, beautiful and meditative soundscapes, spiritual without being dogmatic, groundbreaking without being pretentious, and more adventurous in their arrangements of piano, table, strings, keys, flute and vocals than Om had ever been.

While it’s true we’re still waiting for a follow-up, we’d be lying if we said Advaitic Songs still didn’t offer something new every time we listened to it. Seriously. If you haven’t already, you should put on “Gethsemane” immediately. You know we’re right.

Om’s headlining appearance at Freak Valley 2018 will be an exclusive and one of only two shows so far announced that the band will play in Europe next year. The other will be June 2 at the Piraeus 117 Academy in Athens, Greece, presented by Smoke the Fuzz Gigs.

This is just the start for Freak Valley 2018! Stay tuned for more bands, ticket presales and much more info to come!

www.freakvalley.de
https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley
https://www.facebook.com/events/738782742996668/
https://twitter.com/FreakValley

Om, Advaitic Songs (2012)

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Quarterly Review: Spotlights, War Cloud, Rubble Road, Monte Luna, High Reeper, Frozen Planet….1969, Zaius, Process of Guilt, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Owlcrusher

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Day two of the Quarterly Review and feeling groovy so far. Managed to survive yesterday thanks in no small part to good music and good coffee, and looking at what’s coming up in today’s batch, I don’t expect the situation will be much different — though the styles will. I try to keep in mind as I put these weeks together to change up what’s in each round, so it’s not just all psych records, or all doom, or heavy rock or whatever else. This way I’m not burning myself out on anything particular and I hopefully don’t wind up saying the same things about albums that maybe only share vague genre aspects in common — riffs, etc. — in the same way. Essentially trying to trick my brain into being creative. Sometimes it even works. Let’s see how it fares today.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Spotlights, Seismic

spotlights seismic

After touring hard with the likes of Melvins, Deftones and Refused, heavy post-rockers Spotlights mark their first release on Ipecac Recordings with their second album, Seismic, which finds the core duo of Mario and Sarah Quintero working with producer Aaron Harris (Isis) to follow-up 2016’s Tidals with 65 minutes/11 tracks of weighted atmospherics and far-spanning melodic textures as shown on emotive heft-bringers like “Ghost of a Glowing Forest.” Heavygaze, I suppose, is the genre tag that’s emerged, but with the opening title-track, the chugging “Learn to Breathe” and the later percussive turns of “A Southern Death,” there’s as much focus on crush as on ambience, though as Seismic makes its way through the pair of eight-minute tracks “Hollow Bones” (wonder if they know the 30 Rock reference they’re making) and “Hang us All” before the minimal subdued drones and melodic effects swirls of closer “The Hope of a Storm,” Spotlights succeed in finding a middle ground that offers plenty of both. In its moments of intensity and its range, Seismic builds cohesion from ether and immediately benefits from the purposeful growth the Quinteros have clearly undertaken over the past year by hitting the road with the dedication they have.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Ipecac Recordings website

 

War Cloud, War Cloud

war cloud war cloud

Bay Area rockers War Cloud don’t get too fancy on their self-titled debut, which they make via Ripple Music as the follow-up to their 2016 single Vulture City (discussed here), but as they prove quickly in the dual-guitar Thin Lizzyisms of opener “Give’r” and the later post-Motörhead/Peter Pan Speedrock careening of “Speed Demon,” neither do they necessarily need to. Comprised of guitarists Alex Wein (also vocals) and Tony Campos, bassist Sean Nishi and drummer Joaquin Ridgell, War Cloud offer 31 minutes of brisk, unpretentious asskickery, riffs trading channels at the outset of “Hurricane” as it makes ready to settle into its proto-thrashing rocker groove, and the mood of the release as a whole engaging as much through its reimagining 20-year-old Metallica as a heavy rock band there as on the more grandly riff-led “Divide and Conquer.” Structures are straightforward, and not one of the eight tracks tops five minutes, but they’re more than enough for War Cloud find their place between metal form and heavy rock tone, and cuts like “Chopper Wired” and brazenly charged closer “Vulture City” nail the core message of the band’s arrival.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Rubble Road, The Clowns Have Spoken

rubble-road-the-clowns-have-spoken

Rubble Road ain’t hurtin’ nobody. The Orlando-based double-guitar four-piece take two prior singles and put them together with four new tracks as their 29-minute/six-song debut EP, The Clowns Have Spoken, and thereby bring forth straightforward heavy rock that seems to be finding its personality in tone but nonetheless has a strong structural foundation underlying that holds up the material and “The Judge” tosses in a bit of metallic gallop to go with the forward-directed heavy rock proffered on the prior “Galactic Fugitives” and “Gospel (Get it Together).” I won’t say much for the politics of “Truck Stop Hooker,” which caps with the line, “Your mother gives great helmet, baby,” but “Wizard Staff” and “Do it Yourself” broaden the dynamic of the release overall. They’ve got some growing to do, but again, there’s an efficiency in their songwriting that comes through these songs, and as an initial showcase/demo, The Clowns Have Spoken shows Rubble Road with the potential to continue to grow.

Rubble Road on Thee Facebooks

Rubble Road on Bandcamp

 

Monte Luna, Monte Luna

monte luna monte lona

You might check out the self-titled debut from Austin, Texas, duo Monte Luna. You might even pick up the digipak or tape version. You might listen to extended tracks like “Nameless City” (12:53) and “6,000 Year March” (17:42) and be like, “Yeah, cool riffs dudes.” You might even then chase down the The Hound EP that guitarist/vocalist/bassist James Clarke and drummer/synthesist Phil Hook put out last year. At some point though, you’re going to put Monte Luna’s Monte Luna on your shelf and leave it there. Fair enough. However – and I’m not going to say when; could be sooner, could be later — then you’re going to find yourself remembering its massive, 71-minute sprawl of riffs, its doomed-out grooves, shouts, screams, growls and the way its builds become so utterly immersive, and you’re going to put Monte Luna on again. And that’s the moment when it will really hit you. It might take some time, and part of that is no doubt that there’s simply a lot of record to wade through, but whether it’s the rumbling start of “Nightmare Frontier” (14:26), the cacophonous stomp of “Inverted Mountain” (12:04) or the righteous crash of “The End of Beginning” (9:42), Monte Luna will have earned that deeper look, and if you allow them to make that deeper impression with their self-titled, they almost certainly will.

Monte Luna on Thee Facebooks

Monte Luna on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, High Reeper

high reeper high reeper

Newcomer five-piece High Reeper telegraph Sabbathian heavy rocker intent with their self-released, self-titled debut album. The Delaware-based lineup of Zach Thomas, Napz Mosley, Andrew Price, Pat Daly and Shane Trimble make no bones about their roots in opener “Die Slow,” and as the stoner-swinging “High Reeper,” the doom-swaggering “Reeper Deadly Reeper” and the yo-check-out-this-bassline nodder “Weed and Speed” play out in the record’s midsection, it seems increasingly likely that, sooner or later, some imprint or other will pick up High Reeper for a wider release. As the band demonstrates through the stomping “Soul Taker” and the seeming mission statement “Black Leather (Chose Us)” ahead of closer “Friend of Death,” which breaks its six minutes in half between Judas Priest thrust and an instrumental finish that calls to mind “Heaven and Hell,” they’ve got a keen ear for updating classic elements, and though formative, their first outing is cleverly memorable and an immediately resonant display of songcraft. Now we know High Reeper can engage these stylistic components — the test will be how they develop them into something individualized going forward.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

High Reeper on YouTube

 

Frozen Planet….1969, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe

Frozen-Planet-1969-From-the-Centre-of-a-Parallel-Universe

From the Centre of a Parallel Universe is the second long-player of 2017 from Sydney/Canberra’s Frozen Planet….1969. It arrives on CD through Pepper Shaker and LP via Headspin with five tracks/43 minutes of improv-style psych jams following suit from the prior Electric Smokehouse (review here) and helps to bring the band’s funk-infused, spacious dynamic all the more into focus. Also out of focus. Like, blurry vision-style. They range far and wide and keep the proceedings delightfully weird in the three extended pieces “Celestial Gambler,” “Through Hell’s Kaleidoscope, Parts I & II” and “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” – all north of 11 minutes – and with “Signals (Channelling…)” and “The Lady and the Archer” leading the way into each LP side, Frozen Planet….1969 take the time to assure they’re bringing their listeners along with them on their potent journey into the cosmically far out. The must-hear bass tone in “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” is but one of many reasons to dig in, but whatever it takes, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe’s invitation to get lost is not one to be missed.

Frozen Planet….1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Zaius, Of Adoration

zaius of adoration

Chicago’s history with instrumentalist post-metal goes back as far as the notion of the subgenre itself with acts like Pelican and Russian Circles providing aesthetic-defining landmarks over the last 15-plus years even as a group like Bongripper embraces darker, more lumbering fare. The four-piece Zaius, who make their full-length debut with Of Adoration on Prosthetic Records after two self-released EPs in 2013 and 2011, position themselves more toward the shimmering airiness of the former rather than the latter’s raw lumber, but there’s heft to be found in the expanses of “Sheepdog” and “Seirenes” all the same, and the second half of “Echelon” and closer “Colin” tighten up some of the ethereality of pieces like opener “Phaneron” and the driftingly progressive “Reformer” or the penultimate, patient rollout of “Anicca” to hone a sense of balance that feels as emotionally driven as it is cerebral in its construction. Hard for a band like Zaius to stand themselves out at this point given the swath of acts working in a similar style in and out of the Windy City, but in its textural approach and held-steady flow, Of Adoration satisfies.

Zaius on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Process of Guilt, Black Earth

process-of-guilt-black-earth

Portuguese post-doomers Process of Guilt hit the 15-year mark with the release of their fourth album, Black Earth (on Division/Bleak Recordings), and with a mix by Brooklyn noise-rock specialist Andrew Schneider, a mastering job by Collin Jordan in Chicago and striking cover art by growler/guitarist Hugo Santos with images by Pedro Almeida, the sense of atmosphere is thick and the mood is aggressive throughout. Santos, along with guitarist Nuno David, bassist Custódio Rato and drummer Gonçalo Correia chug and flow through a linear 42 minutes and five tracks on the suitably darkened offering, touching on progressive nuance but not letting cerebral underpinnings take away from the onslaught feel of “Feral Ground” or the tension mounted early in the 11-minute penultimate title-track, which uses feedback as a weapon throughout no less capably than the subsequent closer “Hoax” affects immediately with its nodding tonal wash. Taken as a whole, Black Earth finds Process of Guilt exploring depths of their sound as much as with it, and the directions they go feel as much inward as out.

Process of Guilt on Thee Facebooks

Division Records website

Bleak Recordings website

 

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk

Sundus-Abdulghani-Trunk-self-titled

The challenge for an outfit like Stockholm’s Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, whose self-titled debut arrives via respected purveyor Kozmik Artifactz, lies separating themselves from the shadow of fellow Swedes Blues Pills, whose semi-psych heavy-blues-rocking first album has cast a wide influence that can be heard here as well as in any number of other bands currently kicking around the Euro underground proffering as balance of soul and heavy rock as songs like “It Ain’t Love (But Close Enough)” and “Like Water” do here. Where Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk most succeed in doing this is in the harmonies of “Black Magic Man,” which brings to mind classic acid folk while holding to a heavy blues vibe, but there are other moments throughout when individuality flourishes as well. The attitude is laid on a bit thick in “Them Dames,” but the hooks of “Sister Sorrow,” “She Knows,” “The Devil’s Got a Hold on You” and “Stay” and the burgeoning sense of arrangements complementing Abdulghani’s vocals do well in helping cast an identity one hopes will continue to develop.

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Owlcrusher, Owlcrusher

owlcrusher owlcrusher

Conceived by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Spiers, bassist/vocalist Steve Hobson and drummer Damien McKeown, Banbridge trio Owlcrusher conjure three extended, slicing slabs of black-singed sludge extremity on their self-titled Seeing Red Records debut, and it’s enough to make one wonder just what the fuck is going on in Northern Ireland to inspire such outright bleakness. Beginning with the 16-minute “Feeble Preacher” (also the longest inclusion here; immediate points), Owlcrusher’s Owlcrusher lumbers excruciatingly forth with screams and growls cutting through a tonality geared for max-volume consumption, though it remains to be seen who is consuming whom as “Feeble Preacher” gives way to the likewise scorched eponymous “Owlcrusher” (11:30) and 15-minute closer “Spoiler,” the last of which brings the only real moment of letup on the album after about nine minutes in, and even that takes the form of an interlude of Khanate-style minimalist ambience before the rolling megacrush resumes and plods to a somehow-even-heavier finish. Clearly a band pushing themselves toward the superlative, Owlcrusher get there much faster than their crawling tones would have you believe. Madness.

Owlcrusher on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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War Cloud Self-Titled Debut out Sept. 8; “Chopper Wired” Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

war cloud

Not to be Mr. Jadedsawitcomingdickhead or anything, but it wasn’t really among the universe’s biggest surprises when Ripple Music announced earlier this summer that it had picked up Oakland-based heavy rockers War Cloud for the release of their debut album. Not only is the four-piece local to the label’s own home-base, but their brand of high-energy straightforward thrust — as previously demonstrated on their 2016 Vulture City digital single (discussed here) — is a pretty dead-on fit for what’s become a core sound fostered by Ripple over the last few years. It makes sense, in other words. I’m sure if it wasn’t Ripple that got them, it would’ve been someone, but that it’s Ripple, yeah, it works. It doesn’t need to be shocking to be a good match.

War Cloud‘s self-titled hits next month, and the band has a song called “Chopper Wired” streaming now that you can check out. That and more info follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

war cloud self titled

WAR CLOUD: Bay Area quartet bring the heavy with new album on Ripple Music | Stream and share new song ‘Chopper Wired’

War Cloud is released on 8th September 2017 on Ripple Music

Originally erupting out of Oakland, War Cloud have been steadily shredding Northern Californian ear drums since their formation in 2014. Founded by vocalist, guitar player and former Baltimore resident Alex Wein, after immediately planting down his amps he wasted no time in recruiting a solid four-man crew. Setting out to create an aural ash cloud of volcanic rock ‘n’ roll, Wein was soon joined by Bay Area natives Joaquin Ridgell on drums, guitarist Tony Campos, and later, Los Angeles transplant Sean Nishi on bass.

Despite their youth War Cloud are far from wide-eyed innocents. Their musical history comes drenched in molten riffs inspired across a timeline that spans the spectrum of heavy metal. Their name alone originates from a Wicked Lady song of the same title and their collective roots show through, with Tony’s tenure in San Francisco’s thrash band Hell Fire, Sean’s melding of hard rock rhythms and old-school grooves, and Joaquin’s monolithic beats possessed wholesale by the ghost of John Bonham.

War Cloud’s take on metal is a dish best served heavy and those that have dined on the likes of Pentagram, UFO, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath in the past will no doubt appreciate the hard rock sophistication, dipped deep in ’70’s fuzz.

Track Listing:
1. Give’r
2. Chopper Wired
3. Divide And Conquer
4. Hurricane
5. No Man’s Land
6. Red Witch
7. Speed Demon
8. Vulture City

War Cloud:
Alex Wein – Vocals/Guitar
Tony Campos – Guitar
Sean Nishi – Bass
Joaquin Ridgell – Drums

http://facebook.com/WarCloudisComing
http://warcloudiscoming.bandcamp.com/
http://warcloud.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

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Wrapping up #VinylDay2017

Posted in Features on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Grooves and platters galore. My motivation behind doing Vinyl Day 2017 was simple: I felt like listening to records and sharing that process. It was kind of an off-the-cuff thing. Just an idea I had and ran with it. I figure it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, right? Isn’t putting on an album its own excuse for putting on an album? I tend to think so.

And yeah, I made it a hashtag. Because it’s the future, and hashtags. Instagrammaphone and whatnot. I’m a novice at best when it comes to the social medias, but it seems to me that if you’re going to share a full day’s worth of what you’re listening to, that’s the way to do it. So that’s what I did. If I clogged up your feed or whatever and it pissed you off, sorry.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, it turned out to be nine records of various sorts. Here they are, complete with accompanying audio when I could get it, because it’s the age of instant gratification:

There you have it. Had to be Sleep to end it. Pretty awesome day of music on the whole, and whatever was on your playlist yesterday, if it was this stuff or anything else, I hope you enjoyed. I’m gonna call Vinyl Day 2017 a definite win. Thanks for reading.

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Friday Full-Length: High on Fire, Blessed Black Wings

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

High on Fire, Blessed Black Wings (2005)

The fury. The gallop. The sheer onslaught. From the riotous launch of ‘Devilution’ onward, High on Fire‘s Blessed Black Wings, even when it draws back on tempo, absolutely refuses to relent. Released via Relapse in 2005 — which I’ll note was 12 years ago, only to emphasize the math — it was the third High on Fire full-length, and at that point it carried all the trappings of a masterpiece. It ranged in mood all the way from seething to raging, and where its predecessors, 1999’s High on Fire EP, 2000’s The Art of Self-Defense debut long-player and 2002’s follow-up, Surrounded by Thieves, found guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike on increasingly sure ground in exploring this new, tonally weighted take on thrash metal that brought some of the heft of his then-prior-now-concurrent outfit, Sleep, to bear amid the unrepentantly propulsive drumming of Des Kensel, it was Blessed Black Wings that really marked High on Fire‘s arrival. Production from Steve Albini and a one-time-only tenure from former Melvins bassist Joe Preston (also Thrones, early Earth, etc.) made it even more of a standout from their prior work, and amid the assault of “Devilution,” the signature gallop of “Cometh Down Hessian” and the I-still-can’t-keep-up-with-it “Silver Back,” the three-piece tossed in landmark hooks like the title-track, “Anointing of Seer” and “To Cross the Bridge.”

Blessed Black Wings, with its dark Arik Roper cover and the clarity of purpose resting malevolently beneath the superficial violence of the chugging “The Face of Oblivion” and the later shred in its eponymous cut, was the moment when High on Fire stepped outside of Sleep‘s formidable stoner rock shadow and into something of their own. I won’t take away from either The Art of Self-Defense or Surrounded by Thieves — the latter was my introduction to the band; I remember being mesmerized by the pervasive filth of it, and it still holds a special place in my hearth among their discography — but it would take the greater sphere of metal a couple years to catch up to what PikeKensel and Preston were doing in these tracks. Relentless touring definitely helped. High on Fire hit the road with no less drive than they put into the memorable attack of “Cometh Down Hessian,” and it was on the stage, with Pike standing straight up and beating the crowd over the head with riff after riff after riff and solo after solo after solo while Kensel — barely visible behind the sheer size of the kit he was playing — thundered away on head-spinning tom and cymbal runs, his fills utterly essential to each turn in High on Fire‘s most bombastic stretches. If Blessed Black Wings proved their mettle as songwriters, it was the ensuing touring that really seemed to signal the force they were in the process of becoming and would continue to morph into as they solidified their lineup with speed-demon bassist Jeff Matz (Zeke) taking the place of Preston ahead of the release of 2007’s ultra-triumphant Death is this Communion (discussed here).

That record, produced by Jack Endino, I count as High on Fire‘s actual masterpiece, but there’s no question it couldn’t have happened without the course that Blessed Black Wings set before it and the work the band put in to support that outing. In that way, Blessed Black Wings was not only a standout in its own right, based on the strength of its material and of the performances it captured, but also as a necessary step in the progression of the band. Of course, following Death is this Communion, they’d go on to sign with eOne Music, through which their next three albums — 2010’s Snakes for the Divine (review here), 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) and 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) — would see release, each one taking on a more directly metallic approach as Greg Fidelman and then Kurt Ballou (Converge) took the production reins, the latter managing to bring out some of the most vicious sounds of their career to-date as they moved past their 15th year together.

Word on the street is High on Fire will have a new album out before the end of 2017. I’ve yet to hear anything concrete in terms of a release date, and if it was going to happen sometime before November — which it likely would in order to squeeze in before the music industry at large takes a hike for the winter — one would expect an announcement probably in the next month or so, unless it won’t be out until next February or something like that. In any case, High on Fire have continued to keep up a fervent touring schedule, and as they’ve slid into headliner status and hit the road with the likes of Crowbar and Meshuggah, their willingness to bring up and coming acts like Windhand and Pallbearer has been an encouraging sign of support for those operating in their rather considerable wake. If in fact a new record is on the way, that’s only going to be welcome news as far as I’m concerned.

In the meantime, as always, I hope you enjoy.

On Wednesday, my plan was to not leave the house. I had it all worked out. A couple chores to do, but otherwise it would be the kind of relaxing experience one can only dream of when gainfully employed. And it worked out. I got up early, did Obelisk stuff, Quarterly Review, etc., and had coffee and breakfast and so on, and by lunchtime, was ready to basically hang around. I watched the Castlevania cartoon on Netflix — major flashbacks of Vampire Hunter D, but the nods to the game were fun — watched the All-Star game from the night before with The Patient Mrs., had pesto, peppered egg whites and super-garlicky cloud bread for dinner (my god it was good), and spent the evening getting toward the end of season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation. More or less the ideal do-almost-nothing day.

Yesterday, I also didn’t leave the house. It was not planned, just cold and raining off and on. I did laundry and dishes and made dinner — kale sauteed in butter and oil with fresh chicken sausage, red pepper, garlic (less for The Patient Mrs. and extra on the side for me; barely cooked), fresh-grated parmesan over top — and we spent another quiet night, but yeah, was less planned and after two days in a row of not going farther than the mailbox, I’m a little antsy going into the weekend.

I guess the fortunate part about that is the packed nature of the next few days. In a little bit, we head to Connecticut. Two-plus hours driving. Drop the dog off, an errand or two, then to the movies in North Haven at 2PM to see War for the Planet of the Apes — I’m a big Planet of the Apes nerd and way down with the reboot series, minus James Franco in the first one. After an early-ish dinner (fingers crossed for a grilled salmon caesar salad from the Shoreline Diner, who have the best one in the area, though I’d also make myself a peanut butter protein shake, save the $15 and be fine provided I can sort the timing), I drive another two-plus hours to New Jersey to crash for the night with a friend in Jersey City. That’s ahead of seeing family tomorrow and doing baby prep stuff and some other whatnot. Goal is to pick out a stroller and a car seat system. Did you know that when you have a kid sometimes you have to take it out of the house???

That’s assuming you manage to get out yourself, naturally.

Tomorrow night, back up to CT after dinner with my family, to reconvene with The Patient Mrs. and spend Sunday at the beach, writing, watching baseball and so on. She has a friend coming north from NYC for the day, so I don’t expect we’ll actually hang out much, but frankly I find just being in her presence redeeming. Sunday night, she heads back to MA to teach the summer program she’s doing for the next couple weeks on Monday, but I’m staying in CT to have Steve and maybe Carl from Kings Destroy up to hang out Monday afternoon. Very much looking forward to that, as they are most excellent human beings. I’ll float the idea of getting an early dinner with them circa 5:30 or 6PM at a local pub and then, because I won’t have a car (The Patient Mrs. having taken ours back to MA the evening prior), Steve will drop me off at the station in New Haven, I’ll catch a circa-7:30/8PM train to Providence, where The Patient Mrs. will pick me up and I’ll be back home to crash out Monday night, get up early on Tuesday, write and probably not leave the house. Ha.

So yeah, kind of a marathon the next few days, but that’s good. Like all the travel we did a couple weeks ago with the Maryland, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Massachusetts back and forth, this has a certain feeling of trying to cram in as much as possible before the arrival of The Pecan in October, but I’m cool with that. There’s a lot to do.

Like more for the Quarterly Review as well. Special thanks to Boston’s Rozamov for letting me push back a track premiere a day to accommodate a sixth batch of reviews for this coming Monday. It’s hugely appreciated. Here’s what’s in the notes for the week, all subject to change of course:

Mon.: Quarterly Review Day 6; Cities of Mars track premiere.
Tue.: Rozamov track premiere; Godhunter video; Wasted Theory announcement.
Wed.: Six Dumb Questions with The Midnight Ghost Train.
Thu.: A side-by-side review of Lowrider’s deluxe Ode to Io LP with the original vinyl.
Fri.: Gonna play it by ear unless something comes in, but might review the new Egypt or Youngblood Supercult.

That’s the latest. I’m living well post-employment; got some meds and feel a little bit like I have my head back generally. Money is already tight and will only get tighter over the next couple months, but my mother and sister have been a huge help with baby stuff — you should see the bins of hand-me-downs — and we’re getting there. The Patient Mrs. astounds as always, and I feel so lucky to be able to spend extra time with her this summer, even if it’s just the two of us falling asleep on the couch in the evening. She is the absolute center around which the rest of my life spins. Looking forward to trying my hand at stay-at-home dadness when the time comes.

Like Nick Cave said on the second Grinderman record: “When my baby come.”

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Quarterly Review: Les Discrets, Test Meat, Matus, Farflung, Carpet, Tricky Lobsters, Ten Foot Wizard & Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, The Acid Guide Service, Skunk, The Raynbow

Posted in Reviews on July 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

My friends, the time has come. Well, actually the time came about two weeks ago at the end of June, but I won’t tell if you don’t. Better late than never as regards all things, but most especially The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review, which this time around features releases recent, upcoming and a bit older, a mix of known and lesser known acts, and as always, hopefully enough of a stylistic swath to allow everyone whose eyes the series of posts catches to find something they dig between now and Friday. As always, it’ll be 50 records from now until then, 10 per day, and I see no reason not to jump right in, so let’s do that.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Les Discrets, Prédateurs

les discrets Prédateurs

After offering a preview of their marked stylistic turn in last year’s Virée Nocturne EP (review here), Lyon, France’s Les Discrets return with the suitably nighttime-urbane vibing of their Prédateurs full-length via Prophecy Productions. Five years after Ariettes Oubliées (review here), Fursy Teyssier and company reinvent their approach to the sonic lushness of their earlier work, departing the sphere of post-black metal they previously shared with sister band Alcest in favor of an anything-goes heavy experimentalism more akin to Ulver on cuts like “Le Reproche” or the deeply atmospheric “Fleur des Murailles.” Drones pepper “Rue Octavio Mey” and closer “Lyon – Paris 7h34” effectively conveys the sense of journey its train-schedule title would hint toward, and indeed Les Discrets as a whole seem to be in flux throughout Prédateurs despite an overarching cohesion within each track. It’s a fine line between multifaceted and disjointed, but fortunately, Teyssier’s grip on melodicism is unflinching and enough to tie otherwise disparate ideas together here.

Les Discrets on Thee Facebooks

Les Discrets at Prophecy Productions

 

Test Meat, Demo

test meat demo

Considering the pedigree involved in guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard (ex-Milligram, Blackwolfgoat, Kind, etc.), bassist Aarne Victorine (UXO, Whitey) and drummer Michael Nashawaty (Planetoid, Bird Language), it’s little surprise that Test Meat’s Demo would have a pretty good idea of where it wants to come from. The five-track first showing from the Boston trio blends raw-edge grunge and noise rock on “He Don’t Know” after opening with its longest inclusion (immediate points) in the 3:50 “Cuffing Season,” and though centerpiece “Done” nods at the starts-and-stops of Helmet, the subsequent 2:35 push of “If You Wanna” is strikingly post-Nirvana, and closer “Permanent Festival” rounds out by bridging that gap via a still-straightforward heavy rock groove. Formative, yeah, but that’s the whole point. Test Meat revel in their barebones style and clearly aren’t looking to get overly lush, but one can’t help but be curious how or if they’ll develop a more melodic sensibility to go with the consuming, full buzzsaw tones they elicit here.

Test Meat on Thee Facebooks

Test Meat on Bandcamp

 

Matus, Intronauta

matus intronauta

Worth noting that while the opening cut here, “Claroscuro,” shares its title with Matus’ 2015 full-length (review here), that song didn’t actually appear on that album. Does that mean that the Lima, Peru, classic progressive rockers are offering leftovers from the same sessions on their new EP and perhaps final release, Intronauta? I don’t know, but the four tracks of the digital outing are a welcome arrival anyway, from the laid back easy vibes of the aforementioned opener through the riffier “Intronauta (Including Hasta Que El Sol Descanse en Paz),” the Theremin-soaked finish of the harder-driving “Catalina” and the acoustic-led four-part closer “Arboleda Bohemia,” which unfolds with lushness that remains consistent with the naturalism that has always been underlying in the band’s work. They’ve said their last few times out that the end is near, and if it’s true, they go out with a fully-cast sonic identity of their own and a take on ‘70s prog that remains an underrated secret of the South American underground.

Matus on Thee Facebooks

Matus on Bandcamp

 

Farflung, Unwound Celluloid Frown

farflung unwound celluloud frown

The jury, at least when it comes to the internet, still seems to be somewhat divided on whether the name of Farflung’s five-track/34-minute EP is Unwound Celluloid Frown or Unwound Cellular Frown. I’d say another argument is whether it’s an EP or an LP, but either way, let the follow-up to the more clearly-titled 2016 album (review here) demonstrate how nebulous the long-running Los Angeles space rockers can be when it suits them. Hugely and continually underrated, the troupe once again aligns to Heavy Psych Sounds for this release, which is rife with their desert-hued Hawkwindian thrust and weirdo vibes, permeating the rocket-fuel chug of the title-track and the noise-of-the-cosmos 13-minute headphone-fest that is “Axis Mundi,” which seems to end with someone coming home and putting down their car keys before a slowly ticking clock fades out and into the backwards swirling intro of lazily drifting closer “Silver Ghost with Crystal Spoons.” Yeah, it’s like that. Whatever you call it, the collection proves once again that Farflung are a secret kept too well.

Farflung on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Carpet, Secret Box

carpet secret box

Immersive and progressive psychedelia unfolds from the very opening moments of Carpet’s third album, Secret Box (on Elektrohasch Schallplatten), as the Augsberg, Germany-based five-piece explore lush arrangements of Moog, Rhodes, trumpet, vibraphone, etc. around central compositions of fluid guitar-led melodies and engaging rhythms. Their 2015 Riot Kiss 7” (review here) and 2013 sophomore long-player, Elysian Pleasures (review here), came from a similar place in intent, but from the funk wah and percussion underscoring the pre-fuzz-explosion portion of “Best of Hard Times” and the okay-this-one’s-about-the-riff “Shouting Florence” to the serene ambience of “For Tilda” and ethereal fluidity of “Pale Limbs” later on, the secret of Secret Box seems to be that it’s actually a treasure chest in disguise. Opening with its longest track in “Temper” (immediate points), the album hooks its audience right away along a graceful, rich-sounding melodic flow and does not relinquish its hold until the last piano notes of the closing title-track offer a wistful goodbye. In between, Carpet execute with a poise and nuance all the more enjoyable for how much their own it seems to be.

Carpet on Thee Facebooks

Carpet on Bandcamp

 

Tricky Lobsters, Worlds Collide

tricky lobsters worlds collide

Full, natural production, crisp and diverse songwriting, right-on performances and a name you’re not about to forget – there’s nothing about Tricky Lobsters not to like. Worlds Collide is their sixth album and first on Exile on Mainstream, and the overall quality of their approach reminds of the kind of sonic freedom proffered by Astrosoniq, but the German trio of guitarist/vocalist Sarge, bassist/vocalist Doc and drummer/vocalist Captain Peters have their own statements to make as well in the stomping “Battlefields,” the mega-hook of “Big Book,” the dreamy midsection stretch of “Father and Son” and the progressive melody-making of “Tarred Albino” (video premiere here). The emphasis across the nine-song/42-minute outing is on craft, but whether it’s the patient unfolding of “Dreamdiver Pt. I & II” or the harp-and-fuzz blues spirit of closer “Needs Must,” Tricky Lobsters’ sonic variety comes paired with a level of execution that’s not to be overlooked. Will probably fly under more radars than it should, but if you can catch it, do.

Tricky Lobsters on Thee Facebooks

Tricky Lobsters at Exile on Mainstream Records

 

Ten Foot Wizard & Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Special

ten-foot-wizard-chubby-thunderous-bad-kush-masters-special

Dubbed Special for reasons that should be fairly obvious from looking at the cover art, this meeting of minds, riffs and cats between Manchester’s Ten Foot Wizard and London’s Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters brings four tracks – two per band – and goes so far as to find the groups collaborating on the former’s “Get Fucked,” which opens, and the latter’s “Dunkerque,” which begins their side of the 7”, as vocalists The Wailing Goblin (of Chubby Thunderous) and Gary Harkin (of Ten Foot Wizard) each sit in for a guest spot on the other band’s cuts. Both bands also offer a standalone piece, with Ten Foot Wizard digging into heavy rock burl on “Night Witches” and Chubby Thunderous blowing out gritty party sludge in “Nutbar,” which rounds out the offering, and between them they showcase well the sphere of the UK’s crowded but diverse heavy rock underground. Kind of a niche release in the spirit of Gurt and Trippy Wicked’s 2016 Guppy split/collab, but it works no less well in making its impact felt.

Ten Foot Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters on Thee Facebooks

 

The Acid Guide Service, Vol. 11

the acid guide service vol 11

It turns out that Vol. 11 is actually Vol. 1 for Garden City, Idaho, three-piece The Acid Guide Service, who dig into extended fuzz-overdose riffing on the 52-minute nine-tracker, proffering blown-out largesse even on shorter cuts like the five-minute “Into the Sky” while longer pieces like opener “Raptured” (7:16), “EOD” (9:38) and closer “Black Leather Jesus” (10:04) skirt lines between structure and jams as much as between heavy rock and psychedelia. Proffered by the trio of guitarist/vocalist Russ Walker, bassist/vocalist Tyler Walker and drummer Nick McGarvey, one can hear shades of Wo Fat in the guitar-led expanse of “Rock ‘n’ Roll (Is the Drug I’m On),” but on the whole, Vol. 11 speaks more to the late-‘90s/early-‘00s post-Kyuss stoner rock heyday, with flourish of Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu for good measure in the hard-swinging “Dude Rockin’” and its chugging companion piece, “Marauder King.” Big tones, big riffs, big groove. The Acid Guide Service are preaching to the converted, but clearly coming from a converted place themselves in so doing. Right on.

The Acid Guide Service on Thee Facebooks

The Acid Guide Service on Bandcamp

 

Skunk, Doubleblind

skunk doubleblind

Professing a self-aware love for the earliest days of heavy metal in idea and sound, Oakland’s Skunk offer their full-length debut with the self-released Doubleblind, following up on their 2015 demo, Heavy Rock from Elder Times (review here). That outing featured four tracks that also appear on Doubleblind – “Forest Nymph,” “Wizard Bong,” “Black Hash” and “Devil Weed.” Working on a theme? The theme is “stoned?” Yeah, maybe, but the cowbell-infused slider groove and standout hook of “Mountain Child” are just as much about portraying that ‘70s vibe as Skunk may or may not be about the reefer whose name they bear. Presumably more recent material like that song, “Doubleblind,” closer “Waitin’ Round on You” and leadoff cut “Forest Nymph” coherently blend impulses drawn from AC/DC, Sabbath and Zeppelin. John McKelvy’s vocals fit that spirit perfectly, and with the grit brought forth from guitarists Dmitri Mavra and Erik Pearson, bassist Matt Knoth and drummer Jordan Ruyle, Skunk dig into catchy, excellently-paced roller riffing and cast their debut in the mold of landmark forebears. Mothers, teach your children to nod.

Skunk on Thee Facebooks

Skunk on Bandcamp

 

The Raynbow, The Cosmic Adventure

the raynbow the cosmic adventure

As they make their way through a temporal drift of three tracks that play between krautrocking jazz fusion, psychecosmic expansion and Floydian lushness, Kiev-based explorers The Raynbow keep immersion central to their liquefied purposes. The Cosmic Adventure (on Garden of Dreams Records) is an aptly-titled debut full-length, and the band who constructed it is comprised of upwards of eight parties who begin with the 16-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Changes,” which builds toward and through a metallic chug apex, sandwiching it on either side with ultra-patient molten tone and soundscaping that continues to flourish through the subsequent “Cosmic Fool” (5:17) and “Blue Deep Sea Eyes” (8:18), the whole totaling a still-manageable outward trip into reaches of slow-moving space rock that whether loud or quiet at any individual moment more than earns a volume-up concentrated headphone listen. The kind of outfit one could easily imagine churning out multiple albums in a single year, The Raynbow nonetheless deliver a dream on The Cosmic Adventure that stands among the best first offerings I’ve heard in 2017.

The Raynbow on Thee Facebooks

Garden of Dreams Records on Bandcamp

 

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Neurosis Set Aug. Release for The Word as Law Reissue

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

neurosis (Photo Stefaan Temmerman)

Just the facts, because the facts are enough: Neurot Recordings will reissue Neurosis‘ 1990 sophomore outing, The Word as Law, on Aug. 25. Preorders are up now and the revamped artwork comes courtesy of Josh Graham. The release date follows the long-running post-metal innovators’ tour with Converge and Amenra, as well as their stop at Psycho Las Vegas, and precedes their headlining slot in October at Baltimore’s inaugural Days of Darkness fest, put on by the same crew as Maryland Deathfest. Neurosis just wrapped a quick run of European shows that began with a slot at Roskilde festival in Denmark and in December they’ll head to South America for the first time in their 31-year career, going in order to support their 2016 album, Fires Within Fires (review here).

Like its predecessor, 1988’s Pain of Mind, The Word as Law showcases Neurosis‘ roots in hardcore punk. By the time they got to Souls at Zero just two years later, they’d be on quickly expanding sonic ground, but one could argue that with the rawness at the core of Fires Within Fires, the band’s earliest offerings have never been more relevant than they are now. All the better on the timing here, then.

From the PR wire:

neurosis the word as law

NEUROSIS To Reissue Out-Of-Print Second Album The Word As Law In August

NEUROSIS will reissue the band’s second LP, The Word As Law, in August, the album having remained out-of-print since the 1990s.

While listening to NEUROSIS’ discography in chronological order, their sound gradually shifts in a very steady and somewhat seamless progression with each record, though their first few albums are undoubtedly cut from their 80s punk influences and surroundings. The Word As Law was initially released on vinyl only in 1990 through Lookout! Records, alongside the likes of Operation Ivy, Green Day, Screeching Weasel, and other Bay Area punk acts of the time. Upbeat rhythms and enraged vocals fuel The Word As Law, the record picking up where their Pain Of Mind debut’s ripping punk sound left off, while the band simultaneously began experimenting with more dissonant, melancholic, and demoralizing tones that would carve the foundation for their next few albums and their signature sound.

NEUROSIS had yet to infuse keyboards or synthesizers into the mix when The Word As Law was recorded by Mark Lemaire at Sound & Vision in San Francisco of December 1989. The blend of vocals delivered by guitarist Scott Kelly, bassist Dave Edwardson, and new inductee on this album, guitarist Steve Von Till, driven by the powerful rhythms of drummer Jason Roeder, coalesce to formulate an eerie and original sound on The Word As Law, which results in the album’s cult status as an incredibly groundbreaking album for countless crust punk, hardcore, and experimental metal artists worldwide.

While prior reissues of the album featured several re-recorded bonus tracks from the band’s prior singles and releases, the 2017 Neurot reissue of The Word As Law will bear the album’s initial eight tracks, all completely remastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering. Additionally, the album’s cover artwork has been reworked and modernized by NEUROSIS’ former live visual architect Josh Graham to match the label’s previously-reissued Souls At Zero, Enemy Of The Sun, and other titles.

NEUROSIS’ own Neurot Recordings will reissue The Word As Law on CD, LP, and digital formats on August 25th, directly following their US tour with Converge and Amenra and their performance at Psycho Las Vegas. See all confirmed tour dates below and find preorder links for The Word As Law at THIS LOCATION.

The Word As Law Track Listing:
1. Double Edged Sword
2. The Choice
3. Obsequious Obsolescence
4. To What End?
5. Tomorrow’s Reality
6. Common Inconsistencies
7. Insensitivity
8. Blisters

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
7/27/2017 Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL w/ Amenra
7/28/2017 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL w/ Converge, Amenra
7/29/2017 St Andrews – Detroit, MI w/ Converge, Amenra
7/30/2017 Rex Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/01/2017 Metropolis – Montreal, QC w/ Converge, Amenra
8/02/2017 Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON w/ Converge, Amenra
8/03/2017 College St. Music Hall – New Haven, CT w/ Converge, Amenra
8/04/2017 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Converge, Amenra [SOLD OUT]
8/05/2017 Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY w/ Converge, Amenra
8/06/2017 Royale – Boston, MA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/07/2017 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Converge, Amenra
8/18-20/2017 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas
10/28-29/2017 Ram’s Head Live – Baltimore Maryland @ Days Of Darkness
12/08/2017 Clash Club – São Paulo, BR w/ Deafkids
12/09/2017 Teatro Vorterix – Buenos Aires, AR
12/10/2017 Club Blondie – Santiago, CL

http://www.neurosis.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialneurosis
https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com
http://www.twitter.com/neurosisoakland
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Neurosis tour trailer

Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (2016)

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