Quarterly Review: Eagle Twin, Wight, Sundrifter, Holy Mushroom, Iron and Stone, Black Capricorn, Owl Maker, Troll, Malditos, The Freak Folk of Mangrovia

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

I’m pretty sure this Quarterly Review — life eater that it is — is going to wind up being six days long. That means next Monday look for sixth installment, another batch of 10 records, which were not hard to come by among everything that’s come in lately for review. I do my best to keep up, often to little avail — some random act’s Bandcamp page starts trending and all of a sudden they’re the best band ever, which hey, they’re probably not and that’s okay too. Anyhowzer, I’m trying is the point. Hopefully another 10 records added into this Quarterly Review underscores that notion.

More coffee. More albums. Let’s rock.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn)

eagle twin the thundering heard songs of hoof and horn

Consuming tones, throat-sung blues, a wash of lumbering doom – yes, it’s quite a first three minutes on Eagle Twin’s The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn). Released by Southern Lord, it’s the Salt Lake City duo’s first outing since 2012’s The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (discussed here), which arrived three years after their 2009 debut, The Unkindness of Crows (review here). Once again, the four-song outing finds guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley and drummer Tyler Smith exploring the natural order and the natural world the 11-minute “Quanah un Rama” and the 14-minute “Antlers of Lightning” bookend “Elk Wolfv Hymn” (8:22) and album highlight “Heavy Hood” (7:21), creating an ever-more immersive and grit-laden flow across the album’s span. It’s hard to know if Densley and Smith are the hunters or the hunted here, but the tones are massive enough to make YOB blush, the rhythms are hypnotic and the use they’re both put to is still unlike anything else out there, ending after the chaos and assault of low end on “Antlers of Lightning” with a moment of contemplative guitar lead, as if to remind us of our solitary place in imagining ourselves at the top of the food chain.

Eagle Twin on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion

wight fusion rock invasion

One wonders what it might’ve been like to see Wight on the 2015 tour on which the Bilocation Records-issued vinyl-only Fusion Rock Invasion: Live Over Europe was captured. Still a year out from releasing their third album, Love is Not Only What You Know (review here), the former trio had already become a four-piece with guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist René Hofmann, bassist Peter-Philipp Schierhorn and drummer Thomas Kurek bringing in percussionist Steffen Kirchpfening and already undertaken the funkier aesthetic turn that LP would represent coming off of 2012’s Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here). At least I’d think it would be something of a surprise as the band hit into “Helicopter Mama” and “The Muse & the Mule” and “Kelele,” which comprise side A of Fusion Rock Invasion, but by all appearances listening to the crowd response between songs, they seem into it. Who could argue? Wight’s groove in those songs as well as the older “Master of Nuggets” and Love is Not Only What You Know finale “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation” on side B, are infectious in their grooves and the soul put into them is genuine and unmistakable. One more reason I wouldn’t have minded being there, I suppose.

Wight on Thee Facebooks

Wight at Bilocation Records

 

Sundrifer, Visitations

sundrifter visitations

Name your bet someone picks up Sundrifter’s Visitations for a proper release. The Boston three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Craig Peura, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan impress in performance, aesthetic and craft across the nine songs and 48 minute of their for-now-self-released debut long-player, and whether it’s Queenan dipping into blastbeats on “Targeted” or Gaughran’s rumble on the Soundgarden-gone-doom “Fire in the Sky” or the fuzz that leads the charge on the Queens of the Stone Age-style “Hammerburn,” Peura doing a decent Josh Homme along the way, each member proves to add something to a whole greater than the sum of its parts and that is able to take familiar elements and use them to hone an individualized atmosphere. In the wake of melodically engaged Boston acts like Gozu, Sundrifter would seem to be a focused newcomer with a solidified mindset of who they are as a group. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised either if they kept growing their sound. Something about the psychedelic distance in “Fire in the Sky” and “I Want to Leave,” says there’s forward movement yet to be had.

Sundrifter on Thee Facebooks

Sundrifter on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Moon

holy mushroom moon

Serenity and presence. There’s no shortage of either on the second Holy Mushroom full-length, Moon. Incorporating the prior-issued digital single “Éufrates,” the five-track/43-minute excursion is rife with natural-toned psychedelic resonance, marked out by organ/piano working alongside the guitar (see “Birdwax Blues”), as well as guest contributions of double bass and saxophone, and other sundry moments of depth-creating flourish. Their trance-effect is palpable, and Moon is an easy album to get lost in, especially as the Spanish three-piece make their way through 12:35 centerpiece “The Preacher,” moving from a dreamy opening line of guitar into funk-laden heft that only pushes forward with Hendrixian abandon through a massive jam before rounding out sweetly with vocals over background organ and sweetly-strummed guitar. “Éufrates” would seem to start the same way, but varies the structure in more of a back and forth format before closer “Grand Finale in the Blind Desert” brings both Holy Mushroom’s most patient execution and their most vibrant jam (sax included), essentially building from the one into the other to end the album in energetic fashion. To say it works for them would be underselling it.

Holy Mushroom on Thee Facebooks

Holy Mushroom on Bandcamp

 

Iron and Stone, Petrichor

iron and stone petrichor

A debut long-player of no-pretense, no-nonsense sludge-infused doom, Petrichor (on Backbite Records) shows German five-piece Iron and Stone as ready to follow where the riff will lead them. The late 2017 album is a solidly-delivered 10 tracks and 43 minutes that strikes mostly in monochrome intent, save perhaps for the acoustic “Interlude” near the midpoint. Their 2015 EP, Old Man’s Doom (review here), was similarly upfront in its purposes, but carrying across a full-length – especially a debut – is a different beast from a shorter outing. Their heavier push on “Monolith” is welcome and the break-then-chug of “Deserts” does plenty to satisfy, but Petrichor might require a couple concerted listens to really sink in on its audience, though as I’ve said time and again, if you can’t handle repetition, you can’t handle doom. Iron and Stone effectively balance traditional doom and rawer sludge groove, playing fluidly to whichever suits their purposes at a given moment.

Iron and Stone on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records webstore

 

Black Capricorn, Omega

black capricorn omega

Sardinian doom cult Black Capricorn push well beyond the limits of the manageable with their 95-minute fourth album, Omega (released Nov. 2017 on Stone Stallion Rex), and that’s clearly the idea. The three-piece of bassist Virginia, drummer Rakela and guitarist/vocalist Kjxu offer grim ambience and tempos that sound slow regardless of their actual speed. That said, the 17-minute “Antartide” is an accomplishment as regards crawl. After a sweetly melancholic opening of guitar, it lurches and lumbers out its miserable heft until a return to that intro bookends. Even shorter tracks like “Flower of Revelation” or “Stars of Orion” hold firm to the tenet of plod, and though the results are obviously a lot to take in, the idea that it should be a slog seems all the more appropriate to Black Capricorn’s style. The band, which hits the decade mark in 2018, churn out one last bit of wretchedness in the nine-minute closing title-track before giving way to an acoustic finish, as if to remind that Omega’s sorrows are conveyed as much through atmosphere as actual sonic heft.

Black Capricorn on Thee Facebooks

Stone Stallion Rex website

 

Owl Maker, Paths of the Slain

owl maker paths of the slain

Guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli, also of malevolent doomers Vestal Claret, leads the new trio Owl Maker, and in the company of bassist Jessie May and drummer Chris Anderson, he embarks on a heavy rock push of six tracks with the debut EP, Paths of the Slain, still holding to some elements of metal, whether it’s the double-kick in opener “Ride with Aileen” or the backing vocals and guitar solo of the subsequent “99.” Songwriting is clearheaded across the EP’s 23 minutes, and in terms of first impressions, “Mashiara” shows a focus on melody that retains a metallic poise without losing its riff-driven edge. The balance shifts throughout “Freya’s Chariot” and the all-go “Witches,” the latter of which touches on black metal in its first half before turning on a dime to mid-paced heavy rock, and closer “Lady Stoneheart” nods in its back end to NWOBHM gallop, as Owl Maker seem to tip their audience to the fact that they’re just getting started on their exploration of the many interpretations of heavy.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Troll, Troll

troll troll

When one considers the multiple connotations of the word, Portland’s Troll are definitely going more for “lives under a bridge” than “meddling in elections” when it comes to their sound. Their self-titled debut EP, issued in 2017 before being picked up by respected purveyor Shadow Kingdom Records for a 2018 CD/tape release, is a highlight offering of classic-style doom worthy of Orodruin and Pilgrim comparisons and headlined by the vocal performance of John, who carries songs like opener “The Summoning” and the later, more swinging “Infinite Death” in a manner impressive in both frontman presence and melodic range. His work is only bolstered by the riffs of guitarist Lou and the consistent groove held together by bassist Wayne and drummer Ryan, whose drive in centerpiece “An Eternal Haunting” is neither overdone nor incongruous with the wall its tempo hits, and who meld shuffle and plod on closer “Savage Thunder” with naturalist ease. Potential abounds, and they reportedly already have new material in the works, so all the better.

Troll on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Malditos, II

malditos ii
Some bands, you just have to accept the fact that they’re on a different wavelength and that’s all there is to it. Magma. Master Musicians of Bukkake. Circle. Enter Oakland, California’s Malditos, whose sophomore outing, II: La Réve, arrives via Svart Records. From bizarre psychedelic chants to ritualized repetitions that seems to be daring you to play them backwards on your turntable, the spiritual freakout to songs like “Azadeh” and the penultimate “Momen” is palpable. Reach out and touch it and it will ripple like water in front of you. A sense of space is filled with elements alternatingly horrifying and engrossing, and after they make their way through “Le Passage” and centerpiece “Disparu” and wind up in the title-track to close out, the journey to the final wash of noise gives the distinct impression that for neither the listener nor the band is there any coming back. High order head trippery. Will simply be too much for some, will gloriously expand the minds of others.

Malditos on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records webstore

 

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach

the freak folk of mangrovia sonic meditations live at palach

I don’t know how much improvisation is a factor in the sound of The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, but the Croation collective bring an ultra-organic presence to their perhaps-debut release, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach. The group, which seems also to have gone under the names Marko Mushan & the Mangrovian Orchestra and The Free Folk of Mangrovia, was opening for Acid Mothers Temple that night, and Sonic Meditations mostly breaks down into parts – “Sonic Meditation I,” “II,” “III” and “IV” – before the band closes out with “’Mangrovian Summer,” all the while with The Freak Folk of Mangrovia making their way through progressive dreamscapes, dripping with effects and spacious enough to house an entire Mangrovian village, however big that might be. It is otherworldly and jazzy and moves with such fluidity that the entire “Sonic Meditation” becomes one overarching piece, complemented by the closing “Mangrovian Summer,” which ebbs and flows through louder, more active jamming before capping in a wash of noise.

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Thee Facebooks

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Bandcamp

 

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Neurosis Announce West Coast Tour with Converge and Amenra

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Tours like this happen because these bands like each other. You don’t think Converge are Neurosis fans? Or Amenra? Shit. Amenra are pretty much what happens when you put Converge and Neurosis together, add a dash of I’m-not-gonna-turn-around-and-look-at-the-audience pretense, and set the whole thing to a seizure-inducing strobe barrage. And you know what? Apparently Neurosis are into that enough that they signed Amenra to Neurot Recordings, so there you go. Bands liking each other. It’s nice. I bet the tour will be a good time.

Also devastatingly fucking heavy. The kind of show where — not that it would happen — if someone on a mic asked the crowd if they were getting tired, the inevitable answer would be yes. “Don’t get me wrong dude, I’m still up for more rockin’, but this is some emotionally-draining shit going on right here.” And then Neurosis plays “The Doorway.” Oy vey.

Good tour though. I’m not the hugest Converge or Amenra fan in the universe, but it’s hard not to appreciate what each of these acts brings to the whole onslaught of a given evening.

From the PR wire:

neurosis converge amenra poster

Heavy music visionaries, NEUROSIS, have announced a new West Coast North American tour with Converge and Amenra in July.

NEUROSIS recently announced June European tour dates, which will see them supported by labelmates Deafkids throughout the European club circuit, followed by separate performances at the massive Graspop and Hellfest gatherings.

Upon their stateside return, one year after touring the Eastern realms of North America with Converge and Amenra, NEUROSIS will now bring this incredible touring package to fans on the other end of the continent. The new tour will begin on July 6th in Seattle, running through Vancouver, Portland, Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, San Diego, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Lawrence, Dallas, ending in Austin on July 21st.

Tickets will go on sale this Friday, March 23rd at 10am local time. See all new dates and links below.

Released in September 2016, NEUROSIS’ acclaimed eleventh studio LP Fires Within Fires is available now on CD, LP, cassette, and all digital platforms through the band’s own Neurot Recordings.

NEUROSIS Tour Dates:
6/15/2018 Meet Factory – Prague, CZ w/ Deafkids
6/16/2018 Maifieild Derby – Mannheim, DE w/ Deafkids
6/17/2018 Zona Roveri – Bologna, IT w/ Converge, Deafkids
6/18/2018 Les Docks – Lausanne, CH w/ Wolves In The Throne Room, Deafkids
6/19/2018 Doornroosje – Nijmegen, NK w/ Deafkids
6/20/2018 Copenhell – Copenhagen, DK w/ Deafkids
6/21/2018 Zeche Bochum – Bochum, DE w/ Deafkids
6/22/2018 Graspop – Dessel, BE
6/23/2018 Hellfest – Clisson, FR
7/06/2018 The Showbox – Seattle, WA w/ Converge, Amenra
7/07/2018 The Commodore Ballroom – Vancouver, BC w/ Converge, Amenra
7/08/2018 Roseland Theater – Portland, OR w/ Converge, Amenra
7/10/2018 The UC Theatre Taube Family – Berkeley, CA w/ Converge, Amenra
7/11/2018 Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA w/ Converge, Amenra
7/12/2018 The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA w/ Converge, Amenra
7/13/2018 The Observatory – Santa Ana, CA w/ Converge, Amenra
7/14/2018 The Observatory North Park – San Diego, CA w/ Converge, Amenra
7/16/2018 The Van Buren – Phoenix, AZ w/ Converge, Amenra
7/17/2018 Sunshine Theater – Albuquerque, NM w/ Converge, Amenra
7/18/2018 Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO w/ Converge, Amenra
7/19/2018 Granada Theater – Lawrence, KS w/ Converge, Amenra
7/20/2018 Canton Hall – Dallas, TX w/ Converge, Amenra
7/21/2018 Emo’s – Austin, TX w/ Converge, Amenra

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, Fires Within Fires (2016)

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High on Fire Finish Work on New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

What we know about the next High on Fire album: It exists. Converge‘s Kurt Ballou, who produced 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), helmed it. That’s about all. No song titles yet. No album title. No artwork. No audio. No behind-the-scenes documentary clips on YouTube where Matt Pike talks about battle axes and raiding villages and all that kind of stuff. None of that. But yeah, it exists. That’s worth a press release.

I’m curious though why it’s slated for “late 2018.” It’s March. Even with a summer spent touring and a full hype machine behind it of videos, track premieres through major outlets, press releases for the title, the artwork, the song titles, the behind-the-scenes documentaries, etc., it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to think a September release would be possible. When I read “late 2018,” I think more October/November. That seems a long way off.

Or maybe I just want to hear new High on Fire sooner rather than later. That’s entirely possible. Here’s this from the PR wire:

high on fire

HIGH ON FIRE WRAP PRODUCTION ON ALL NEW ALBUM DUE LATE 2018

Legendary metal band HIGH ON FIRE have wrapped production on their eighth studio LP and is gearing up for its release later this year. The band has been busy in the studio since February putting the finishing touches on yet another blistering album.

“We are pretty happy with how the new material came together on this one,” says drummer Des Kensel. “We usually go into the studio with about two-thirds of the record done which can be a little stressful but it forces us to make final arrangement decisions which would normally be put off in a rehearsal studio atmosphere. It also puts some pressure on us to perform at a higher level.”

“The bar has definitely been raised on this one, at least for me. There’s a good mix of fast and slow. The fast has gotten faster and the slow is…still slow.”

Bassist Jeff Matz adds, “We’ve definitely pushed ourselves musically on this album. The material covers a broad range of tempos and styles, but the overall sound and vibe are unmistakably High On Fire.”

And finally, vocalist and lead guitarist Matt Pike declares, “hold on tight! You’re in for a ride!”

HIGH ON FIRE again teamed up with producer Kurt Ballou and God City Studios where the last two LPs were created. Additional tracking was done by Bryan Sours of Sour Sound.

The as-yet-unnamed release will serve as the highly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s Luminiferous, which garnered its own massive critical acclaim.

HIGH ON FIRE has also been confirmed for the 2018 PSYCHO LAS VEGAS Festival taking place August 17-19 at the famed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

HIGH ON FIRE features Matt Pike (guitar, vocals), Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/highonfire
https://www.instagram.com/highonfireband/
www.highonfire.net
https://twitter.com/eoneheavy
https://www.facebook.com/eOneHeavy

High on Fire, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2016

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Neurosis Touring Europe with Deafkids; Playing Graspop & Hellfest

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

neurosis (Photo Stefaan Temmerman)

Pardon my language, but only the jivest of the jive turkeys isn’t going to want to go see Neurosis when they come to town. In fact, if you’re ever looking for a jive turkey litmus test, tell the suspected jive turkey that the progenitors of post-metal are rolling through in a couple weeks and ask if they’d like to check it out. If they give you a shrug and a “nah,” you know: 100 percent corporate-farmed raised-in-captivity jive turkey. All set and ready to roll for a jive-ass Thanksgiving.

What were we talking about?

Ah, Neurosis. Well, pretty much anytime Neurosis go anywhere, you’ll find me wishing I was in their voluminous, churning path. Nonetheless, it’s Europe in the fortunate position this time around, as the band head to Hellfest via a run of shows alongside Deafkids and a stop at Graspop in Belgium. In addition to several reissues, Neurosis are still out supporting 2016’s raw-flesh-exposed Fires Within Fires (review here).

The PR wire has details, so I’ll happily defer:

neurosis euro tour poster

NEUROSIS To Return To Europe This June With Support From DEAFKIDS

NEUROSIS announces their return to Europe this June with a selection of festival appearances and club shows.

Supporting NEUROSIS on all club performances will be friends and labelmates DEAFKIDS. In Bologna Converge is also on the bill, and in Lausanne, Wolves In The Throne Room will join the show.

In addition to purchasing tickets via the usual options, NEUROSIS has also made a limited run of physical tickets available for the club shows. Find out where to obtain them via the My Proud Mountain store. Watch for more NEUROSIS news to follow in the coming days.

NEUROSIS w/ DEAFKIDS:
6/15/2018 Meet Factory – Prague, CZ
6/16/2018 Maifieild Derby – Mannheim, DE
6/17/2018 Zona Roveri – Bologna, IT w/ Converge
6/18/2018 Les Docks – Lausanne, CH w/ Wolves In The Throne Room
6/19/2018 Doornroosje – Nijmegen, NK
6/20/2018 Copenhell – Copenhagen, DK
6/21/2018 Zeche Bochum – Bochum, DE
6/22/2018 Graspop – Dessel, BE *
6/23/2018 Hellfest – Clisson, FR *
* no DEAFKIDS

Released in September 2016, NEUROSIS’ acclaimed eleventh studio LP Fires Within Fires is available now on CD, LP, cassette, and all digital platforms through the band’s own Neurot Recordings; stream the album HERE and see all bundles and options RIGHT HERE.

Neurot also released DEAFKIDS’ Configuração Do Lamento worldwide on CD, vinyl, and digital formats via in October. Stream the entire album HERE, and see physical order options HERE.

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, Fires Within Fires (2016)

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Review & Video Premiere: Blackwülf, Sinister Sides

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on February 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Blackwülf sinister sides

[Click play above to view the premiere of Blackwülf’s video for the title-track of their new LP, Sinister Sides. Album is out Feb. 26 on Ripple Music.]

Indeed, it is a darker, moodier and perhaps even more sinister aspect of themselves demonstrated by Oakland heavy rockers Blackwülf on their second album for Ripple Music and third overall, Sinister Sides. The four-piece — who may or may not have ditched the umlaut since their last outing, 2015’s Oblivion Cycle (review here) — refine their periodically aggressive take on heavy rock with punker and classically metallic roots throughout the neatly-executed eight tracks and 40 minutes of Sinister Sides and one can find songwriting growth in the employment of a diverse set of vibes, whether that comes in the early Alice in Chains snarl of opener “Gate of Sorrow,” its side B companion “Blind to Fate” and the subsequent Blind-era C.O.C. groove of “The Tempest,” the semi-acoustic “Waiting on Tomorrow,” which seems to owe part of its aesthetic to Down‘s “Landing on the Mountains of Meggido” and part to Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath balladry, or the subsequent “Dead to the World,” which reignites a doomly focus in transposing the central riff of Sabbath‘s “Children of the Grave” to suit the band’s own political purposes.

Those include, one is obliged to note, a guest appearance from Geof O’Keefe, whose presence — and tone — hangs heavily throughout Sinister Sides, giving it all the more of that sinister feel. The founding member of Pentagram and Bedemon shows up on three cuts in total: the post-opener title-track, as well as “Sinister Sides” and the album’s penultimate inclusion, which is a beefed-up take on Cream‘s “Sunshine of Your Love,” and while I’m not sure the latter’s heavy hippie blues is really suited to the crunch with which it’s delivered, it obviously puts to rest any doubt about the band’s roots in classic heavy rock and sounds like they had a blast in the studio putting it together.

If, say, you’ve had a miserable cold for the last week and continue to feel resoundingly shitty — just as a happenstance — you’ll no doubt want to aim your sneezes elsewhere from O’Keefe‘s guest spots. That is to say, among those who know enough to know, dude is kind of a big deal. And having him in for one song would be a considerable coup on the band’s part, but his playing on three separate tracks spread throughout the record — two on side A, one on side B, assuming the vinyl splits the tracklisting in half, which works timing-wise — also puts Sinister Sides at considerable risk as regards the work done by frontman Alex Cunningham, guitarist Peter Holmes, bassist Scott Peterson, and drummer Dave Pankenier being outshined by the pedigree of O’Keefe. It’s a credit to the band that they’re not, and not only that, but it’s a credit to the band that O’Keefe‘s showcase tracks — yes, even that Cream cover — are fluidly integrated with the rest of the material.

blackwulf

Part of that success stems from the work done by the opening salvo of “Gate of Sorrow,” “Sinister Sides” and “Waiting on Tomorrow,” which offer three distinct and seemingly disparate styles between them while nonetheless maintaining a fluidity of their approach. Songwriting? Confidence? Sheer performance? Whatever lets the band do it, they move from aggro grunge-infused heavy rock to spirited traditional doom and into acoustic-minded ’80 metallurgy in a manner that more or less allows the remaining five tracks to go where they please. A scope has been set. It’s not as off-the-wall genre-bending or experimentalist as some other might be, but nor is it intended as such. Blackwülf‘s interest with Sinister Sides isn’t so much to reshape heavy rock and/or doom in their own image, but to draw elements from those sounds and others like the NWOBHM and punk and ’90s alternative to create something of their ow from them.

I’d argue that as their third full-length — reasonable to expect as a moment of arrival for any band who are going to have one — Sinister Sides comes out a winner in that effort. By the same token, I don’t think Blackwülf are finished with the process of refinement clearly at work in these tracks. “Gate of Sorrow,” the more dramatic vibe of closer “Battle Line” — which doesn’t seem to come out of nowhere in part because of the work “Waiting on Tomorrow” does earlier on the record — and even “Sinister Sides” itself belong thoroughly to them, and the fact that Blackwülf step so boldly forward to claim this array of styles as their own, informing their listeners one track at a time that this is who they are as a band some six years on from their founding, speaks indeed to Sinister Sides being that stated moment of arrival for them.

As the doomly swing of “Dead to the World” and the darker-hued shuffle in the rhythm of “The Tempest” show, there’s no shortage of commitment to definition that’s been made by Blackwülf here, but it’s hard to see where the band are beholden to anything other than their penchant for memorable structures and crisp, precise execution of their material. Sinister Sides finds Blackwülf not only keeping good company, but working diligently to push themselves forward as well, and while that may not be what the ultimate narrative of the album centers around — even I have to admit “Geof O’Keefe plays on this record” makes for a catchy lead — anyone who actually takes the time to dig into these songs will discover that it’s Blackwülf themselves who come out on the other side of the proceedings sounding stronger than ever before. A touch of villainy suits them. One hopes they continue down such a multifaceted yet cohesive path.

Blackwülf website

Blackwülf on Bandcamp

Blackwülf on Thee Facebooks

Blackwülf on Twitter

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Twitter

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War Cloud Announce Tour Dates Including SXSW and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

war cloud photo Janiece Gonzalez

Oakland riffthrashers War Cloud will head out on tour in March, and I think if you heard their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) — which you can stream in its entirety at the bottom of this post courtesy of Ripple Music‘s Bandcamp page — you probably have some sense of the particular brand of good times they’ll be having along the way. Boozy, in short. Regardless of intake, however, War Cloud are a riot. I’ve yet to have the pleasure of catching them live, but they’ve got hooks, energy and a classic-minded sound delivered with modern vigor, and if that’s not enough to make you show up to a gig, they’ll probably have a rad t-shirt or two for sale too. Just a guess on that one.

They’ll be making stops at SXSW in Austin and circling back to CA in the company newcomer labelmates Holy Grove, which, goodness gracious, that’s a show — though one could easily and probably should say the same of the Ripple Fest II that War Cloud will play on Feb. 3 among likewise-esteemed compatriots Blackwülf, The Hazytones, The Watchers and ZED.

That show is at Thee Parkside and you’ll find the details as well as the tour dates below, courtesy of the band via the PR wire:

war cloud tour poster

Ripple Music and Hi-Wattage Booking present War Cloud, volcanic rock from Oakland, California, for the first time bringing their aural ash of molten riffs to Texas. With their debut album out, the heavy rock quartet will be taking the southwest by storm making an appearance at SXSW and linking up with fellow Ripple band, Holy Grove for the last 3 dates.

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.

War Cloud Live:
02/03 Ripple Fest II Thee Parkside San Francisco CA w/ Blackwülf, The Hazytones, The Watchers & ZED
03/12 Blacklight District Long Beach CA
03/13 Yucca Tap Room Tempe AZ
03/14 Rockin’ Cigar Bar El Paso TX
03/15 The Lost Well Austin TX (SXSW)
03/16 Rudyard’s British Pub Houston TX
03/17 Limelight San Antonio TX
03/18 TBA
03/20 Surly Wench Tucson AZ
03/21 Tower Bar San Diego CA w/ Holy Grove
03/22 5 Star Bar Los Angeles CA w/ Holy Grove
03/24 Eli’s Oakland CA w/ Holy Grove & Brume

War Cloud is:
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/

War Cloud, War Cloud (2017)

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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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Blackwulf to Release New Album Sinister Sides & Perform at SXSW with Geof O’Keefe

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

blackwulf

In case you were wondering what ‘keeping good company’ looks like, it probably looks something like bringing Pentagram/Bedemon founder Geof O’Keefe onstage with you to perform at the release show for your new album (on which he also appears) at SXSW this March in Austin, Texas. The laudable move will be undertaken by Oakland aggro heavy rockers Blackwulf as they look to follow-up 2015’s Oblivion Cycle with their next album for Ripple Music, dubbed Sinister Sides. New Year’s Day would seem to be as good a time to make the announcement as any, so what the hell.

You might recall Bedemon released the Symphony of Shadows (discussed here) full-length in 2012 and went on to play Psycho California in 2015 with Wino in the frontman role alongside O’Keefe (interview here). 2015 also saw Relapse reissue the collection Child of Darkness of classic material from the band first founded in 1973.

Blackwulf makes the association public thusly:

BLACKWULF – SINISTER SIDES

The sold-out successes of 2015’s “Oblivion Cycle” (Ripple Music) and 2014’s “Mind Traveler” (Wickerman) releases prompted metal luminaries as mighty as Lars Ulrich (Metallica) and Geof O’Keefe (original Pentagram) to pick up on copies of the albums and publicly name check the band.

Combining vintage ‘70s head banging riffs with doom cloaked soundscapes and vintage heavy metal and hard rock, BLACKWULF is bracing for even greater heights of heaviness with their upcoming Ripple Music follow-up release, “Sinister Sides”. The eight-song album comes complete with gatefold and colored vinyl, and finds the ‘Wulf ambitiously venturing farther afield, deep into extended vintage hard rock sonic jams and dark breakdowns, all the while keeping one matted paw within their established heavy headbanging riff songwriting approach.

The band, unchanged from its original lineup since 2012, features singer Alex Cunningham, guitarist Pete Holmes, bassist Scott Peterson, and drummer Dave Pankenier.
Something classic is made new again: joining BLACKWULF on “Sinister Sides” as a special guest lead guitarist is doom legend Geof O’Keefe, one of the founding members of Pentagram and Bedemon.

O’Keefe’s discovery and subsequent affinity for the band led Blackwulf to invite him to play some lead guitar (and even a gong!) as a special guest on “Sinister Sides”.

O’Keefe’s trademark doom vibrato and vintage guitar heaviness is featured on three tracks on the album: “Dead to the World”, “Sinister Sides” and a blistering cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”.

The chemistry is next level: O’Keefe is “very happy with what resulted” and hails the new Blackwulf album as “easily their best result to date, with extremely strong material and arrangements…the production is superb”. Additionally, O’Keefe will be storming the stage alongside the band at the official Ripple Music showcase at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin Texas in March 2018.

Blackwulf’s “Sinister Sides” will be officially released at the South by Southwest Festival, and the band will support it taking to the road, with gigs across the US and jumping across to the UK for a short run anchored by an appearance at Desertfest London in May 2018.

www.blackwulfusa.com
www.blackwulfusa.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/blackwulfusa
www.twitter.com/blackwulfusa
ripple-music.com
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic
ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
youtube.com/user/GroovesandRipples/
twitter.com/RippleMusic

Blackwulf, Oblivion Cycle (2015)

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