Quarterly Review: Surya Kris Peters, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Lair of the Minotaur, Sonic Wolves, Spacelord, Nauticus, Yuxa, Forktie, Ohhms, Blue Dream

Posted in Reviews on December 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I had a terrible thought yesterday: What if this one… went to 11? That is, what if, after 10 days of Quarterly Review ending today with a grand total of 100 records reviewed since last Monday, I did another batch of 10? Like a bonus round? Like I said, terrible thought.

Pretty sure it won’t happen. I’ve already got a review and a video premiere booked for next Monday, but I definitely had the thought. It was easy, of course, to fill out another 10 slots, and who knows, maybe this weekend for the first time ever I wind up with some extra time and energy on my hands? Could happen, right?

Again, I’m fairly certain it won’t. Let’s proceed with the assumption today’s the last day. Thank you for reading. I hope you have found something cool in all of this that has really hit home. I certainly have. We cap very much in last-but-not-least fashion, and if nothing’s resonated with you yet, don’t count yourself completely out. You might just get there after all. Thanks again.

Quarterly Review #91-100:

Surya Kris Peters, Ego Therapy

Surya Kris Peters Ego Therapy

Those feeling technical will note the full title of the album is Surya Kris Peters’ Ego Therapy, but the point gets across either way. And even as Christian Peters — also guitarist/vocalist for Samsara Blues Experiment — acknowledges the inherent self-indulgence of the proverbial “solo-project” that his exploration of synth and classically progressive textures under the moniker of Surya Kris Peters has become, with Ego Therapy as his second full-length of 2018, he branches out in including drums from former Terraplane bandmate Jens Vogel. The 10-song/53-minute outing opens with its longest cut (immediate points) in the 15-minute “Angels in Bad Places,” a spaced-out and vibrant atmosphere more cohesive than psychedelia but still trippy as all hell, and moves through a bluesy key/guitar interplay in “Wizard’s Dream” following the dancey thriller soundtrack “Beyond the Sun” and into the Blade Runner-style grandeur of “Sleeping Willow” and the video game-esque “A Fading Spark” before bookending with the sci-fi “Atomic Clock” at the close. I don’t know how ultimately therapeutic Peters‘ solo offerings might be, but he only seems to grow bolder each time out, and that certainly applies here.

Surya Kris Peters on Thee Facebooks

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

 

Lewis and the Strange Magics, The Ginger Sessions

lewis and the strange magics the ginger sessions

How are you not gonna love a release that starts with a song called “Sexadelic Galactic Voyage?” Barcelona vamp rockers Lewis and the Strange Magics embrace their inner funk on the 23-minute self-released EP, The Ginger Sessions, finding the place where their uptempo ’70s fusion meets oldschool The Meters-style rhythm, digging into the repetitions of “Candied Ginger” after the aforementioned instrumental opening burst and then holding the momentum through “Her Vintage Earrings.” Some departure happens on what might be side B of the 10″, with “The Shadow of Your Smile” turning toward pastoral psychedelia, still rhythmic thanks to some prominent wood block and xylophone sounds, but much calmer despite a consistency of wah and keys. “Suzy’s Room II” follows in fuzzy fashion, bridging the earlier cologne-soaked, chest-hair-out vibes with garage buzz and a heavier low end beneath the synthesized experimentation. Mellotron shows up and continues to hold sway in closer “Witch’s Brew,” playing the band outward along with layers of drifting guitar for about two and a half minutes of bluesy serenity that feel cut short, as does the release on the whole. One hopes they don’t lose that funky edge going into their next album.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

 

Lair of the Minotaur, Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Lair of the Minotaur Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Once upon the mid-aughts, Chicago’s Lair of the Minotaur roamed the land as the long-prophesied American answer to Entombed, as much classic, dirt-covered death metal as they were laden with heavy groove. Their tones filthy, their assault brutal all the while, war metal, ultimate destroyers. The whole nine. They released their last album, Evil Power (review here), in 2010. The two-songer Dragon Eagle of Chaos follows a 2013 single, and was released to mark the occasion of perhaps a return to some measure of greater activity. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but as both “Dragon Eagle of Chaos” and “Kunsult the Bones” affirm in about seven minutes between them, Lair of the Minotaur remain a wrecking ball made of raw meat when it comes to their sound. The madness that seemed to always underline their material at its most effective is present and accounted for in “Dragon Eagle of Chaos,” and the stripped-down production of the single actually helps its violent cause. Will they do another record? Could go either way, but if they decide to go that route, they clearly still have the evil power within.

Lair of the Minotaur website

Lair of the Minotaur on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Wolves, Sonic Wolves

sonic wolves sonic wolves

Eight tracks/34 minutes of smoothly-arranged and well-executed doom rock brought to bear with an abiding lack of pretense and a developing sense of songcraft and dynamic — there’s very little not to dig about Sonic Wolves‘ self-titled LP (on Future Noise and DHU), from the Sabbathian stretch of “Ascension” down through the bouncing low-key-psych-turns-to-full-on-wah-overdose-swirl in the penultimate “Heavy Light.” Along the way, bassist/vocalist Kayt Vigil (ex-Pentagram, etc.) — joined by guitarists Jason Nealy and Enrico “Ico” Aniasi and drummer Gianni “Vita” Vitarelli (also Ufomammut) — gallop through the traditional metal of “Red Temple” and ride a fuzzy roll in “Tide of Chaos,” leaving the uptempo shuffle of “You’ll Climb the Walls” to close out by tapping into a “Wicked World”-style vision of heavy blues that casts off many of the tropes of what’s become the subgenre in favor of a darker approach. If their self-titled is Sonic Wolves declaring who they are as a band after making their debut in 2016, the results are only encouraging.

Sonic Wolves on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

Future Noise Recordings webstore

 

Spacelord, Indecipher

Spacelord Indecipher

There is an immediate sensibility drawn from classic heavy rock to the vocals on Spacelord‘s second record, Indecipher, like Shannon Hoon fronting Led Zeppelin, maybe? Something like that, definitely drawn from a ’70s/’90s blend. Produced, mixed and mastered by guitarist Rich Root, with Chris Cappiello on bass, Kevin Flynn on drums and Ed Grabianowski on vocals, the four-piece’s sophomore LP is comprised of a neatly-constructed eight songs working around sci-fi themes on bruiser cuts like “Super Starship Adventure” and the particularly righteous “Zero Hour,” as opener and longest track (immediate points) “For the Unloved Ones” sets forth the classic vibe amid the first of the record’s impressive solos and resonant hooks. Something about it makes me want them to go completely over the top in terms of production their next time out — layers on layers on layers, etc. — but the kind of false start Grabianowski brings to the ultra-Zepped “New Machine” has a charm that I’m not sure it would be worth sacrificing.

Spacelord on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Nauticus, Disappear in Blue

Nauticus Disappear in Blue

Six years after the release of their second album, The Wait (review here), Finnish atmospheric progressive metallers Nauticus effect a return with the 78-minute Disappear in Blue, which following the relatively straightforward opening with “Magma” casts out a vast sprawl in accordance with its oceanic theme. Longer tracks like “Claimed by the Sea,” “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies,” “Arrival” and “Hieronymus” are complex and varied but united through a deep instrumental dynamic that’s brought to light even in the three-minute ambient post-rocker “Desolation,” which is something of an interlude between “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies” and the tense build of “Singularity.” Other ambient spaces “Jesus of Lübeck” and the later “Whale Bones” complement and add reach to the longer-form works, but it’s hardly as though Nauticus‘ material lacks character one way or the other. Overwhelming in its length, Disappear in Blue might take some time to wade through, but what a way to go.

Nauticus on Thee Facebooks

Nauticus on Bandcamp

 

Yuxa, Yuxa

yuxa yuxa

As the greater part of anything related to post-metal invariably does, UK outfit Yuxa have their “Stones from the Sky” moment in “Founder in Light,” the opening cut from their self-titled debut EP, that most formative of progressions making itself known in modified form to suit the double-guitar four-piece’s intent with dramatic screams and shouts cutting through an ably-conjured surge of noisy adrenaline resolving in winding chug and crash en route to “Exiled Hand,” the seven-minute cut that follows and serves as centerpiece of the three-tracker. “Founder in Light,” “Exiled Hand” and nine-minute closer “Peer” are arranged shortest to longest, and the effect is to draw the listener in such that by the time the angular, purposeful lurch of the finale begins to unfold, Yuxa‘s rhythmic hypnosis is already well complete. Still, the straightforward arrangements of guitar, bass, drums and vocals give them a rawer edge than many synth- or sample-laden post-metallic cohorts, and that suits the atmospheric sludge with which they close out, harnessing chaos without giving themselves over to it. A quick sample of a creative development getting underway, though it’s telling as well that Yuxa ends with a sudden buzz of amp noise.

Yuxa on Thee Facebooks

Yuxa on Bandcamp

 

Forktie, EP

forktie forktie

The first EP release from Forktie — who stylize their moniker and titles all-lowercase: forktie — is untitled, but contains five tracks that tap into proto-emo post-hardcore and ’90s alt rock sensibilities, finding a place between heavy rock and grunge that allows for Aarone Victorine‘s bass to lead toward the hook of centerpiece “Decomposition Book” with a smooth presence that’s well complementary the vocals from guitarist Dom Mariano, their presence low in the mix only adding to the wistful feel of “Anywhere but Here” and “September Morning,” before the shorter “Spores” lets loose some more push from drummer Corey LeBlanc and closer “Ph.D. in Nothing” reinforces the underlying melancholy beneath the thicker exterior tones. It’s a new project, but Forktie have worked their way into a niche that suits their songwriting well, and given themselves a space to grow within their sound. Members experience in bands like UXO, Test Meat and textbookcopilot will serve them in that effort.

Forktie on Thee Facebooks

Forktie on Bandcamp

 

Ohhms, Exist

ohhms exist

As a fan generally of bands opening albums with the longest song included, I can get on board with UK heavy progressive metallers Ohhms opening Exist with the 22-minute “Subjects.” Immediate points and all that. Far more consequential, however, is the substance of that launch for the four-song/43-minute Holy Roar LP, which is the band’s fourth in four years. It’s a vast, broad and complex offering unto itself, consuming side A as vocalist Paul Waller embodies various entities, “I am wolf” (preceding a Duran Duran reference, perhaps inadvertent), “I am child,” and so on. Those proclamations are just the culmination of a progression that, frankly, is an album unto itself, let alone a side, and maybe should’ve been released as such, though the absolute post-metallic crush of “Shambles,” the seething of “Calves” and the heavy post-rock reach of “Lay Down Your Firearms” need no further justification than a simple listen provides, the last of them pummeling side B to a then-sudden stop. Ohhms are no strangers to longform work, and it suits them well enough to make one wonder if they couldn’t be headed toward a single-song LP in the near future.

Ohhms on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records on Bandcamp

 

Blue Dream, Volume Blue

Blue Dream Volume Blue

Chicago four-piece Blue Dream issued their first LP, Volume Won, early in 2018 and follow with Volume Blue — as opposed to “two”; could ‘Volume Tree’ be in the works? ‘Volume Free?’ — which collects nine neo-psych-mit-der-funky-grooves cuts chic enough to be urbane but fuzzed out enough to make the freakouts more than just a come on. They open peaceful enough with “Delta,” before the hook of “9,000 lb. Machine” defines the course and cuts like “Thank You for Smoking” and the almost woefully catchy “She’s Hot” expand the parameters. I’ll take the dream-tone shimmer of “Kingsbury Goldmine” any day in a kind of self-aware reflection of British folk and/or the garage rock of “Shake the Shake,” but the dense roll of “Viper Venom” that immediately follows reimagines grunge as more than just an influence from three popular bands and something that could genuinely move forward from the perspective of a new generation. Hearing Blue Dream close out with the boogie of “The Glide,” one hopes they do precisely that, though I’d by no means limit them to one avenue of expression. They’re clearly able to harness multiple vibes here.

Blue Dream on Thee Facebooks

Blue Dream on Bandcamp

 

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OHHMS Finish New Album; Announce Fall UK Tour Dates

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

ohhms (Photo by Jake Owens)

Kent-based progressive heavy rockers OHHMS have a new album in the can following-up 2017’s sprawling six-tracker The Fool, and they’ll hit the road alongside Holy Roar Records labelmates Boss Keloid in October to celebrate the upcoming release. As it’s newly recorded and I’m not even sure it’s been mixed or mastered yet, I’d assume the new OHHMS won’t get here until 2019 at some point, but the post-whatnot five-piece will have new material to play on stage, so they’ll be giving an early preview on the five-date stint followed by a weekender in November.

If you didn’t hear The Fool, as somehow I didn’t, it’s streaming at the bottom of this post. It represents a pretty significant change in approach from the release before it, which was 2015’s Cold (review here).

Info follows from the PR wire:

ohhms tour

OHHMS join forces with Boss Keloid for their UK fall tour

Kent-based progressive heavy quintet OHHMS are set to hit the UK roads this fall with a 7-show run alongside fellow heavy heroes Boss Keloid.

The band comments: “We are incredibly excited for the upcoming October/November tour of the UK. As we have finished recording our album and have been hitting the rehearsal room hard we are ready to play our fresh material in front of you. The itch is about to be scratched and our new guitarist Stuart has brought a fresh dynamic to all we do – We know our fans are going to love it. On top of this we have invited Boss Keloid to join us on every date and this will be the first time they have toured their latest album, ‘Melted on the Inch’ since it’s release earlier this year. Join us.”
OHHMS UK fall tour with Boss Keloid

23.10.18 – BRISTOL – Exchange
24.10.18 – NOTTINGHAM – The Maze
25.10.18 – BIRMINGHAM – The Victoria
26.10.18 – LEICESTER – Vault
27.10.18 – GLASGOW – Classic Grand Lounge
09.11.18 – LONDON – Macbeth
10.11.18 – MANCHESTER – Satan’s Hollow

Artwork by Steven Myles

True to themselves, OHHMS continue their boundary-free ascension to even more transcending sonic peaks, while making a point at raising awareness about animal rights and social matters with a unique, cathartic approach.

https://www.facebook.com/OHHMStheband/
https://twitter.com/ohhmstheband
https://ohhms.bandcamp.com/
http://www.holyroarrecords.com/

OHHMS, The Fool (2017)

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Ohhms European Tour Starts Oct. 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

ohhms

Some right-on dates included as a part of UK prog metallers Ohhms‘ upcoming European run. As the Kent five-piece head out in support of earlier-2017’s Holy Roar Records debut full-length, The Fool, they’ll hit Mammothfest in Brighton and Desertfest Belgium 2017 as the first two dates on an eight-show run that caps in the Netherlands with a penultimate stop at Into the Void in Leeuwarden. Pretty solid stuff, and the band seem to have earned their place in those lineups with the response to The Fool, from which they have a video for “The World” now playing at the bottom of this post.

Or playing as soon as you click play, anyhow. The whole album is also up on their Bandcamp, if you’d like to dig a little further.

The PR wire has the poster and the info:

ohhms euro tour

British progressive metallers OHHMS announce European tour; Desertfest and Into The Void performances confirmed!

UK’s most fire-driven progressive metal quintet OHHMS have announced a significant batch of festival and club shows to take place in Europe this fall. Not to be missed.

This European tour is in line with the widely acclaimed release of their debut album “The Fool” this spring on Holy Roar Records. Praised across the globe, it has elevated the UK five piece to a whole new level since their 2014 beginnings.

After a long run of UK dates alongside Hark and Bossk, OHHMS are set to mesmerize European crowds for the first time in 2017, as well as thousands of metal connaisseurs at the likes of Desertfest Belgium and Into The Void Festival. See full list of shows below:

OHHMS European tour:
08.10 – Brighton (UK) Mammothfest
14.10 – Antwerpen (BE) Desertfest Belgium
15.10 – Copenhagen (DK) KB18
17.10 – Dusseldorf (DE) Pitcher
18.10 – Stuttgart (DE) Jugendhaus West
19.10 – Oberhausen (DE) Druckluft
20.10 – Leeuwarden (NL) Into The Void Festival
21.10 – Haarlen (NL) Patronaat

Poster by Anoop Bhat.

OHHMS formed in 2014 in Kent, UK. It didn’t take long for the five-piece to come up with two stellar EPs “Bloom” (2014) and “Cold” (2015), both released on London-based extreme music powerhouse Holy Roar Records. OHHMS quickly built a strong reputation among the UK’s underground scene, which led them to play major events such as Desertfest, ArcTanGent, Bloodstock, Damnation, Incubate and many others. Three years after their thunderous beginnings, the band is back in March 2017 with their debut full-length “The Fool” on Holy Roar Records. True to themselves, OHHMS continue their boundary-free ascension in quest of the sonic panacea, more determined than ever to brand minds with their cathartic, transcending creations.

https://www.facebook.com/OHHMStheband/
https://twitter.com/ohhmstheband
https://ohhms.bandcamp.com/
http://www.holyroarrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/holyroarrecords
https://twitter.com/holyroarrecords

Ohhms, “The World” official video

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Desertfest Belgium 2017: Graveyard, White Hills, Elephant Tree, OHHMS, Minami Deutsch and Kaleidobolt Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

As predicted at the outset, the poster showcasing the lineup for Desertfest Belgium 2017 has become very, very crowded. I don’t think they’re done, either. Where will the next batch of bands squeeze, what with the sizable logo addition of Graveyard here along with OhhmsElephant TreeWhite Hills and so on? I don’t know. It’s a problem for a graphic designer to tackle that’s well beyond my depth, to be sure. But they’ll sort it out. They always do.

The Fall festival season — there are many, you know the names and don’t need me to recount — by now rivals Spring. It might even surpass it in terms of the sheer one-into-the-next-into-the-next-into-the-next style proceedings from country to country, weekend to weekend. It’s astounding how strong and sustaining the European underground has become over the last several years. Desertfest, the growth of the brand in general and in its autumnal incarnations in Antwerp and Athens, has been a big part of that, and accordingly, Desertfest Belgium 2017 stands among the best lineups one is likely to find on the continent this Fall.

To wit:

desertfest-belgium-2017-poster-graveyard

GRAVEYARD PLAYS DF ANTWERP 2017 – White Hills, Elephant Tree & more announced

So here it is – Karma strikes, part two!

Last year we were gutted when GRAVEYARD decided to call it quits, moments before their appearance at Desertfest Antwerp. Fortunately, their breakup turned out to be short-lived, and the band announced their return with a new drummer in January 2017. So naturally, we had to put ’em in a headliner spot again to make it up to you guys!

We’re also very glad to announce the appearance of WHITE HILLS, possibly the coolest band in the universe. With OHHMS and ELEPHANT TREE, we present you with two of the hottest bands from the UK heavy scene at the moment. Going worldwide, let’s throw in Oriental Krautrock with MINAMI DEUTSCH from Tokyo, and the psychedelic jazz-prog of KALEIDOBOLT from Helsinki.

From where we’re sitting, Desertfest Antwerp is starting to look pretty good… and we’re still not done!

GRAVEYARD

After the breakup of 2016, Graveyard did what every great classic rock band should do: take some time off to recollect the good spirit, and then come back with a mighty vengeance. And so here they are: the Swedish rock giant is back in the saddle with a new drummer, and ready to kick ass in 2017! We can only imagine what awesomeness they’ll bring to make it up to the DF crowd…

WHITE HILLS

White Hills are proponents of psychedelia as transformation. The music made by Dave W. and Ego Sensation is risky and cutting edge, rooted in dystopian futurism and hyper-conscious of our constant desire for a new and better drug. On their new album ‘Stop Mute Defeat’, White Hills has flipped the script with an industrially-charged record that pulsates unlike anything you’ve heard of them before.

OHHMS

OHHMS (written “((OHHMS))”) are a Canterburian metal band who are quickly becoming the buzz of the UK doom scene. They’ve established a reputation of playing extremely loud, delivering long and complex tracks at a deafening volume. Their first album release ‘The Fool’ is earning accolades across the scene, winning over crowd and critics alike.

ELEPHANT TREE

Another big promise from the UK, Elephant Tree came out with one of the best damn albums from 2016. Combining clear vocal harmonies with insanely heavy riffs, and switching it up with sudden mood shifts and slow-burning grooves, their debut album is truly something special that you should seek out immediately. Word from Desertfest London & Berlin is they easily hold their ground on the stage.

MINAMI DEUTSCH

Minami Deutsch is a Krautrock band from Tokyo. Starting off playing live music on the city streets, they got picked up for a spot at the Tokyo Psych Fest. In September 2015, they released their first record through the English cult label Cardinal Fuzz Records, as well as Japanese psych label Guruguru Brain. Expect motorik kraut grooves with a distinct Oriental flavour!

KALEIDOBOLT

Kaleidobolt is a power trio from Helsinki, blending loud guitars with furious jazz moves. Their music is a dizzying maelstrom of progressive song structures, crushing riffs and loose psychedelic soundscapes, delivered with joy and ferociousness. Working since 2014, they’ve released two albums to much acclaim, and toured with the likes of Radio Moscow and Samsara Blues Experiment.

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/264364590656095/
https://twitter.com/DesertfestBE

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Desertfest London 2016: Blood Ceremony, Oranssi Pazuzu, Witchsorrow, Bast and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

desertfest london 2016 header

Seems like a few festivals aren’t ready to let the year end quite yet, which is fair enough. Desertfest London 2016 has unveiled a slew of new acts for its lineup — enough to fill a whole other stage and then some — and along with Monomyth, who were previously announced as taking part in Desertfest Berlin as well, the DesertScene crew has seen fit to bring aboard Pelican, Blood CeremonyBastWitchsorrowDusertoidLionize, impressive upstarts Sunder and others. It was a packed bill before. Now it’s a more packed bill. Funny how that works.

Here’s the latest with Happy Holiday wishes from the PR wire:

desertfest london 2016 poster

Pelican, Asteroid, Blood Ceremony and more added to the DESERTFEST LONDON 2016 lineup!

Jingle bells, jingle bells… The DESERTFEST LONDON promoters have one more treat for you before Christmas, with thirteen more bands confirmed to play the festival in Camden this spring, including the Old Empire Stage lineup that will be hosted at the Electric Ballroom on the Sunday.

Like the previous edition, DESERTFEST LONDON 2016 will broaden its horizon by bringing an alternative darker edge to the lineup. London’s independent promoters Old Empire will thus take over the Electric Ballroom on May 1st, with industrial metallers GODFLESH headlining the stage, plus five fantastically heavy acts including BLOOD CEREMONY, ORANSSI PAZUZU, BAST and WITCHSORROW.

As a mouth-watering addition, ten other delightful acts are added to the weekend, with Illinois legendary dream rock merchants PELICAN, Ukraine’s finest stoner trio STONED JESUS, as well as grooving rock’n’rollers LIONIZE, French proto-rockers SUNDER, UK’s post-doom outfit OHHMS, DUSTEROID, MONOMYTH, BLACK PUSSY and POSEIDON.

– DESERTFEST LONDON 2016 –
April 29th to May 1st in Camden, London (UK)
Weekend tickets available AT THIS LOCATION

Current lineup is as follows:
ELECTRIC WIZARD – CORROSION OF CONFORMITY w/ Pepper Keenan PELICAN – GODFLESH – CROWBAR – TRUCKFIGHTERS – BLOOD CEREMONY – ELDER – EGYPT – CONAN – ORANSSI PAZUZU – WO FAT – MOTHERSHIP – MONOLORD – ROTOR – ASTEROID – RAGING SPEEDHORN – STONED JESUS – LIONIZE – PLANET OF ZEUS – MONOMYTH – BLACK PUSSY – WITCHSORROW – OHHMS – SUNDER – DUSTEROID – BAST – POSEIDON

https://www.leedstickets.com/eventinfo/4804/Desertfest-2016
http://www.thedesertfest.com/london/
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://instagram.com/desertfest
http://desertfest.bigcartel.com/

Pelican, “Immutable Dusk” live on Sound Opinions

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Quarterly Review: Foehammer, Holy Serpent, Wicked Inquisition, AVER, Galley Beggar, Demon Lung, Spirit Division, Space Mushroom Fuzz, Mountain Tamer, Ohhms

Posted in Reviews on June 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk summer quarterly review

I said back in March that I was going to try to make the Quarterly Review a regular feature around here, and once it was put out there, the only thing to do was to live up to it. Over the last several — like, five — weeks, I’ve been compiling lists of albums to be included, and throughout the next five days, we’re going to make our way through that list. From bigger names to first demos and across a wide swath of heavy styles, there’s a lot of stuff to come, and I hope within all of it you’re able to find something that hits home or speaks to you in a special way.

No sense in delaying. Hold nose, dive in.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Foehammer, Foehammer

foehammer foehammer

Relatively newcomer trio Foehammer specialize in grueling, slow-motion punishment. Their self-titled debut EP follows a well-received 2014 demo and is three tracks/34 minutes released by Grimoire and Australopithecus Records of doomed extremity, the Virginian three-piece of guitarist Joe Cox (ex-Gradius), bassist/vocalist Jay Cardinell (ex-Gradius, ex-Durga Temple) and drummer Ben “Vang” Blanton (ex-Vog, also of The Oracle) not new to the Doom Capitol-area underground by any stretch and seeming to pool all their experience to maximize the impact of this extended material. Neither “Final Grail,” “Stormcrow” nor 14-minute closer “Jotnar” is without a sense of looming atmosphere, but Foehammer at this point are light only on drama, and the lower, sludgier and more crushing they go, the more righteous the EP is for it. Stunningly heavy and landing with a suitable shockwave, it is hopefully the beginning of a long, feedback-drenched tenure in death-doom, and if the EP is over half an hour, the prospect of a follow-up debut full-length seems overwhelming. Easily one of the year’s best short releases.

Foehammer on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

Australopithecus Records

Holy Serpent, Holy Serpent

holy serpent holy serpent

It’s not like they were lying when they decided to call a song “Shroom Doom.” Melbourne double-guitar four-piece made their self-titled debut as Holy Serpent last year, and the five-track full-length was picked up for release on RidingEasy Records no doubt for its two-front worship of Uncle Acid’s slither and jangle – especially prevalent on the eponymous opener and closer “The Wind” – and the now-classic stonerism of Sleep. That blend comes together best of all on the aforementioned finale, but neither will I take away from the north-of-10-minute righteousness of “The Plague” preceding, with its slow roll and malevolent vibe that, somehow, still sounds like a party. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Scott Penberthy, guitarist Nick Donoughue, bassist Michael Macfie and drummer Keith Ratnan, the real test for Holy Serpent will be their second or third album – i.e., how they develop the psychedelic nodes of centerpiece “Fools Gold” along with the rest of their sound – but listening to these tracks, it’s easy to let the future worry about itself.

Holy Serpent on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records

Wicked Inquisition, Wicked Inquisition

wicked inquisition wicked inquisition

There are a variety of influences at work across Wicked Inquisition’s self-titled debut long-player, from the Sabbath references of its eponymous closer to the earlier thrashery of “In Shackles” and “Sun Flight,” but the core of the Minneapolis four-piece resides in a guitar-led brand of metal, whatever else they decide to build around it. Guitarist/vocalist Nate Towle, guitarist Ben Stevens, bassist Jordan Anderson and drummer Jack McKoskey align tightly around the riffs of “M.A.D.” in all-business fashion. Shades of Candlemass show up in some of the slower material, “M.A.D.” included as well as with “Crimson Odyssey,” but the start-stops of “Tomorrow Always Knows” ensure the audience is clued in that there’s more going on than just classic doom, though a Trouble influence seems to hover over the proceedings as well, waiting to be more fully explored as the band moves forward.

Wicked Inquisition on Thee Facebooks

Wicked Inquisition on Bandcamp

AVER, Nadir

aver nadir

Clocking in at an hour flat, Sydney all-caps riffers AVER construct their second album, Nadir, largely out of familiar elements, but wind up with a blend of their own. Fuzz is prevalent in the extended nod of opener “The Devil’s Medicine” (9:46) which bookends with the longest track, finisher “Waves” (9:48), though it’s not exactly like the four-piece are shy about writing longer songs in between. The production, while clear enough, lends its focus more toward the low end, which could be pulling in another direction from the impact of some of Nadir’s psychedelia on “Rising Sun” second half solo, but neither will I take anything away from Jed’s bass tone, which could carry this hour of material were it asked. The vocals of guitarist Burdt have a distinct Acid Bathian feel, post-grunge, and that contrasts a more laid back vibe even on the acoustic-centered “Promised Lands,” but neither he, Jed, guitarist Luke or drummer Chris feel out of place here, and I’m not inclined to complain.

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AVER on Bandcamp

Galley Beggar, Silence and Tears

galley-beggar-silence-and-tears

Sweet, classic and very, very British folk pervades the gorgeously melodic and meticulously arranged Silence and Tears by London six-piece Galley Beggar, released on Rise Above. The eight-track/40-minute album packs neatly onto a vinyl release and has near-immediate psychedelic underpinnings in the wah of opener “Adam and Eve,” and side B’s “Geordie” has some heavier-derived groove, but it’s the beauty and lushness of the harmonies throughout (finding satisfying culmination in closer “Deliver Him”) that stand Galley Beggar’s third offering out from worshipers of a ‘60s and ‘70s era aesthetic. The highlight of Silence and Tears arrives early in nine-minute second cut “Pay My Body,” a wonderfully swaying, patient excursion that gives equal time to instrumental exploration and vocal accomplishment, but to a select few who let themselves be truly hypnotized and carried along its winding course, the album’s entire span will prove a treasure to be revisited for years to come and whose sunshiny imprint will remain vivid.

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Rise Above Records

Demon Lung, A Dracula

demon-lung-a-dracula

With inspiration reportedly from the 1977 demon-possession horror flick Alucarda, Las Vegas doomers Demon Lung return with A Dracula, their second offering via Candlelight Records after 2013’s The Hundredth Name, and as the movie begins with a birth, so too do we get “Behold, the Daughter” following the intro “Rursumque Alucarda,” later mirrored by a penultimate interlude of the same name. Billy Anderson produced, so it’s not exactly a surprise that the slow, undulating riffs and the periodic bouts of more upbeat chug, as on “Gypsy Curse,” come through nice and viscous, but vocalist Shanda brings an ethereal melodic sensibility, not quite cult rock, but on “Mark of Jubilee” presenting momentarily some similarly bleak atmospherics to those of the UK’s Undersmile, her voice seeming to command the guitars to solidify from their initial airiness and churn out an eerie apex, which closer “Raped by the Serpent” pushes further for a raging finale.

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Candlelight USA’s Bandcamp

Spirit Division, Spirit Division

spirit division spirit division

Spirit Division’s self-titled debut full-length follows a 2014 demo that also hosted three of the tracks – opener “Spirit Division,” “Through the Rounds” and “Mountain of Lies” – but is fuller-sounding in its post-grunge tonality and doomly chug than the earlier offering, guitarist/vocalist Stephen Hoffman, bassist/vocalist Chris Latta and drummer/vocalist David Glass finding a straightforward route through moody metallurgy and weighted riffage. Some Wino-style swing shows up on “Bloodletting,” and “Cloud of Souls” has a decidedly militaristic march to its progression, while the later “Red Sky” revels in classic doom that seems to want to be just a touch slower than it is, but what ultimately unites the material is the strong sense of purpose across the album’s span and Spirit Division’s care in the vocal arrangements. The production is somewhat dry, but Spirit Division walk the line between sludge rock and doom and seem comfortable in that sphere while also sparking a creative progression that seems well worth further pursuit.

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Spirit Division on Bandcamp

Space Mushroom Fuzz, Until Next Time

space mushroom fuzz until next time

I was all set to include a different Space Mushroom Fuzz album in this roundup, but then I saw that the project was coming to an end and Until Next Time was issued as the band’s final release. The deal all along with the band headed by guitarist/vocalist Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside) has been that you never really know what he’s going to do next. Fair enough. Abrams brings it down in suitably bizarre fashion, a keyboard and guitar line backing “Class Onion” in direct mockery of Beatlesian bounce, where “The DeLorean Takes Off!” before compiles five-plus minutes of experimental noise and “Follow that DeLorean” answers with another round after. Elsewhere, opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Here Comes Trouble” resonates with its central guitar line and unfolds to further oddity with a quiet but gruff vocal, while “The Rescue” vibes like something Ween would’ve conjured after huffing roach spray (or whatever was handy) and closer “Back in ‘55” moves from progressive soloing to froggy singing and weirdo jangle. All in all a strange and fitting end to the band.

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Space Mushroom Fuzz on Bandcamp

Mountain Tamer, MTN TMR DEMO

mountain tamer mtn tmr demo

Santa Cruz trio Mountain Tamer have been kicking around the West Coast for the last several years, and since they released a full-length, Liquid Metal, in 2013, and a prior EP in 2012’s The Glad, it’s tempting to try to read some larger shift sonically into their MTN TMR Demo, as though having completely revamped their sound, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Andru, bassist/vocalist Dave Teget and drummer/vocalist Casey Garcia trying out new ideas as they redirect their approach. That may well be the case, with “Satan’s Waitin’,” “Sum People” and “Dunes of the Mind” each standing at over five-minutes of neo-stoner roll, more psychedelic than some in the growing fuck-it-let’s-skate oeuvre, but still plainly born after, or at least during, grunge. The finisher comes to a thrilling, noisy head as it rounds out the short release, and if Mountain Tamer are taking on a new path, it’s one well set to meander and I hope they continue to follow those impulses.

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Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

OHHMS, Cold

ohhms cold

Like their late-2014 debut, Bloom, OHHMS’ sophomore outing, Cold, is comprised of two extended tracks. Here the Canterbury five-piece bring “The Anchor” (18:30) and “Dawn of the Swarm” (14:27), blending modern prog, sludge and post-metallic vibes to suit a melodic, ambitious purpose. Atmosphere is central from the quiet drone starting “The Anchor” and remains so as they lumber through a linear build and into an apex at about 13 minutes in, dropping out to quiet only to build back up to a striking melodic push that ends on a long fade. Side B, “Dawn of the Swarm” is more immediately post-rock in the guitar, the lineup of vocalist Paul Waller, guitarists Daniel Sargent and Marc George, bassist Chainy Chainy and drummer Max Newton moving through hypnotic sprawl into angular Isis-ism before finding their own way, the second cut pushing structurally against the first with loud/quiet tradeoffs in a well-timed back half. Clearly a band who arrived knowing their purpose, but not so cerebral as to detract from the heavy landing of the material itself.

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OHHMS on Bandcamp

 

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audiObelisk Transmission 049

Posted in Podcasts on June 22nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

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Not that it doesn’t have its super-heavy side as well, what with the High on Fire, the Church and here and there among the others, but this one got way psychedelic way quick. To be perfectly honest, that’s where my head has been at in terms of what I’ve been listening to: more swirl, less churn, more wah, less crunch. No shortage of tonal fuzz or presence here — I think you’ll dig the spaciousness in Brother/Ghost and the ultra-West Coast groove Sacri Monti make their own — it just trips out. And even Church has its psych flourish, which from where I sit only makes it more devastating.

Maybe it’s the heat of summer getting to me — that haze of humidity that settles over the Northeast each June and doesn’t leave until September — but whatever the case, strap in, because this one is a trip just about the whole way through. Once Ecstatic Vision take hold with their peculiar brand of bliss, it only keeps spreading wider until finally collapsing in on itself. I hope you dig some of the turns as it makes its way outward. I think it holds up well for something so molten:

First Hour:
0:00:00 The Heavy Eyes, “Somniloquy” from VA, Kozmik Artifactz Home of the Good Sounds Vol. 2
0:02:35 High on Fire, “Carcosa” from Luminiferous
0:09:46 Ecstatic Vision, “Don’t Kill the Vibe” from Sonic Praise
0:14:46 Brother/Ghost, “Freedom” from Buried
0:19:57 Merchant, “Seismic” from Seismic Digital Single
0:29:28 Make, “The Immortal” from The Golden Veil
0:36:29 Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, “Girl of a Thousand Voices” from Desert Brain
0:40:27 Glowsun, “Flower of Mist” from Beyond the Wall of Time
0:47:27 Mount Hush, “The Day She Stole the Sun” from Low and Behold!
0:55:05 Sacri Monti, “Slipping from the Day” from Sacri Monti

Second Hour:
1:01:22 Krautzone, “Spiritual Retreat Part 1” from Spiritual Retreat
1:24:05 Ohhms, “Dawn of the Swarm” from Cold
1:38:29 Church, “Dawning” from Unanswered Hymns

Total running time: 1:57:44

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 049

 

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