Lo-Pan Post “Savage Heart” Video; UK/Euro Tour Starts Sept. 30

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Lo-Pan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What are you doing for the next four minutes that’s better than watching a new Lo-Pan video? Frickin’ nothing, that’s what. Look, between the album review for Subtle (review here), the prior-posted video for “Ten Days” from that record, an interview with drummer Jesse Bartz, three live reviews during this cycle (review here, here and here), and the fact that The Obelisk is presenting the European tour they’re about to undertake with Steak and Elephant Tree (dates below, also posted here), I think I’ve probably made my feelings on the band and their latest release plain to anyone who’s bothered to keep up with any of it. If not, you know, it’s pretty good.

As such, I do indeed think the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece’s new video for “Savage Heart” is worth four minutes out of what I’m sure is a busy day for you. Hey, these are crazy times. But here’s something that’s going to make your day better, and it’s a Lo-Pan hook, so get down with it and enjoy, because there’s not a lot out there at this point that comes close to what these cats are doing. Live, on record, whatever — L0-Pan are in a class of their own.

And you know what? That tour they’re about to start? I’m looking forward to that for them. It goes without saying that they’re going to kill it at the shows and all that kind of whatever. But the fact that Lo-Pan are going to get to run around the UK and Europe with the cats from Steak and Elephant Tree — it’s like the Good Dudes Union annual picnic takes to the road. Assuming everyone makes it back in one piece, it’s going to be a tour all three bands talk about for a long time. If you’re in that part of the world, show up and buy a Hawaiian shirt.

Here’s the video. Enjoy the next four minutes off from whatever you were doing before that wasn’t this cool:

Lo-Pan, “Savage Heart” official video

Lo-Pan Releases New Video “Savage Heart”

Respected hard rock band Lo-Pan has released a new music video for the song “Savage Heart”. Created by collage artist Somsara Rielly using old school stop-motion animation, the clip takes the viewer on a one-of-a-kind metaphysical trip.

“Savage Heart” is taken from Lo-Pan’s new LP, ‘Subtle’, which was released on May 17 via Aqualamb Records. Recorded in NYC with Grammy Award winning producer James Brown (Foo Fighters, Ghost, NIN) and mastered by famed engineer Ted Jensen (Alice in Chains, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Mastodon), the album pushes Lo-Pan’s already high ceiling straight through its proverbial roof.

The Ohio group, known for its dichotomic sound which merges sturm und drang heaviness with relentlessly catchy, AOR laden melody, just wrapped a summer North American tour alongside Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar and will launch a three week-long European trek in support of ‘Subtle’ on September 30. Formed in 2005 and forged from the fire of more than 1,000 white hot live performances alongside peers such as High on Fire, Torche, KENmode and more, Lo-Pan’s “secret” is its unbelievable ability to create immersive rock music born of dynamic dazzle, progressive pummel and emotional energy. Silky, yet punishing.

30.09.19 London | The Black Heart** w/ Fireball Ministry & Oak
01.10.19 Bristol | The Old England (UK)**
02.10.19 Swansea | The Bunkhouse (UK)**
04.10.19 Paris | Gibus (FR)
05.10.19 Pratteln | Up In Smoke Festival (CH)
06.10.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse (AT)
08.10.19 Linz | Stadtwerkstatt (AT)
09.10.19 Freiburg | Slow Club (DE)
10.10.19 Leipzig | Werk2 (DE)
11.10.19 Berlin | Setalight Festival (DE)
12.10.19 Munich | Keep it Low Festival (DE)
14.10.19 Wiesbaden | Schlachthof (DE)
15.10.19 Cologne | Helios 37 (DE)
16.10.19 Hamburg | Hafenklang (DE)
17.10.19 Bremen | Zollkantine (DE)
18.10.19 Leuwaarden | Into the Void Festival (NL)**
19.10.19 TBA | TBA
** Lo-Pan only

LO-PAN is:
Jeff Martin – vocals
Skot Thompson – bass
Jesse Bartz – drums
Chris Thompson – guitar

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Streaming: Lo-Pan Interview with Jesse Bartz

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on September 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan jesse bartz (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Lo-Pan just wrapped a month on the road alongside Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar and Quaker City Night Hawks. All told, between shows on that run (review here and review here) and an appearance back in June at Maryland Doom Fest 2019 (review here), I’ve seen the Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers three times in the last two-plus months. That’s how Lo-Pan do when they have a new album out. It’s how they’ve done for at least the last decade and probably longer if you actually put the math to it. They go.

The occasion this summer is Subtle (review here), their awaited fourth LP, released in May through Aqualamb. It follows a 2017 EP, In Tensions (review here), and several years of lineup change tumult in terms of the guitarist position now occupied by Chris Thompson, who at both the beginning and the end of the most-recent tour only seemed to fit excellently alongside bassist Scott Thompson (no relation), vocalist Jeff Martin, and drummer Jesse Bartz, who’ve pushed their earlier fuzz rock in more aggressive and pointed directions over their last few offerings, with Subtle being their sharpest execution yet. No doubt Thompson on guitar had a hand in that as well.

I’ve interviewed Bartz on a number of occasions over the last 10-plus years, but I don’t think ever in-person before. Their tour van was lined up next to the bus and equipment truck presumably shared by Crowbar and C.O.C. and Quaker City Night Hawks‘ own van around back of Starland Ballroom, and I sat in the van with the door open while he stood, seeming relieved to do so after a seven-hour ride from the prior night’s stop. It was the penultimate night of the tour — they’d wrap in Rhode Island the next night — and I wanted to get his take not just on how it all went down, but touring in general, the grind of it, the personalities at work in Lo-Pan and how one balances life on the road with life off it. I’m fortunate that, tired though he was, Bartz was kind enough to indulge me.

After playing The Blackout Cookout X in Youngstown, OH, this weekend, Lo-Pan will head to Europe at the end of this month to join Steak and Elephant Tree for a tour presented by this site and Sound of Liberation. You’ll find the dates included under the player below, on which you can hear the chat from out back of Starland.

Please enjoy:

Interview with Jesse Bartz of Lo-Pan

 

Lo-Pan, Steak & Elephant Tree tour dates:
30.09.19 London | The Garage (UK)** w/ Fireball Ministry
01.10.19 Bristol | The Old England (UK)** w/ Sigiriya
02.10.19 Swansea | The Bunkhouse (UK)**
04.10.19 Paris | Gibus (FR)
05.10.19 Pratteln | Up In Smoke Festival (CH)
06.10.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse (AT)
08.10.19 Linz | Stadtwerkstatt (AT)
09.10.19 Freiburg | Slow Club (DE)
10.10.19 Leipzig | Werk2 (DE)
11.10.19 Berlin | Setalight Festival (DE)
12.10.19 Munich | Keep it Low Festival (DE)
14.10.19 Wiesbaden | Schlachthof (DE)
15.10.19 Cologne | Helios 37 (DE)
16.10.19 Hamburg | Hafenklang (DE)
17.10.19 Bremen | Zollkantine (DE)
18.10.19 Leuwaarden | Into the Void Festival (NL)**
19.10.19 TBA | TBA
** Lo-Pan only

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Ghost:Hello Announce September Release Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ghost hello (Photo by Tanner Young)

Setting forth from their Buckeye homeland with a cache of weirdo riffs to celebrate, three-piece Ghost:Hello will tour the Northeast-plus starting on Sept. 20, which by fabulous coincidence is also the release date of their new album, The Sound of Color in Space (review here). The Akron outfit start in their native burg and then hit Albany, NY, have three shows in New England — Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island — and then bypass NYC, as will happen for a bizarre and yet-unsigned band, en route to Baltimore, West Virginia and finishing in Indiana at the Stoner Flash Tattoo Extravaganza on Sept. 27. Eight shows, eight nights, all good clean fun.

If you missed it, the track “The Mouth of the Gift Horse” was premiered here at the end of last month — if you’d asked me I’d have said it was like three days ago, so take that for what you will — and if you’re feeling too lazy to click the review link above, it’s at the bottom of this post too. Just trying to cover all the bases.

Go get noised:

ghosthello tour

GHOST:HELLO ANNOUNCE TOUR

Stoner rock band Ghost:Hello are pleased to announce that they will embark on a short East US tour in September.

The band commented “We are super stoked to hit the road and to get to hang with everyone. We’re looking forward to a tour full of the cheapest beers and amicable thumb wars!“

All dates will be in support of the band’s upcoming album The Sound of Color In Space which will be released on September 20th.

Pre-order the album here: https://ghosthello.bandcamp.com/album/the-sound-of-color-in-space

Tour dates:
9/20 Album release & Tour Kick off party The Rialto Theatre – Akron, Ohio
9/21 Pauli’s Hotel – Albany, New York
9/22 The Flask – Portland, Maine
9/23 Midway Cafe -Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
9/24 Dusk – Providence, Rhode Island
9/25 The Depot – Baltimore, Maryland
9/26 The Empty Glass, Charleston, West Virginia
9/27 Tarot Tattoo StonerDoom Tattoo extravaganza Volume II – Richmond Indiana

https://www.facebook.com/Ghosthello/
https://www.instagram.com/ghosthello.band/
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Ghost:Hello, The Sound of Color in Space (2019)

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Ghost:Hello Premiere “The Mouth of the Gift Horse”; The Sound of Color in Space out Sept. 20

Posted in audiObelisk on July 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ghost hello (Photo by Tanner Young)

Ohio-based trio Ghost:Hello will self-release their impressive and far-reaching debut long-player, The Sound of Color in Space, on Sept. 20. Aside from the punctuation in the middle of the band’s name, the first hint that everything might not be what it seems comes in the winding weirdo keyboard — or I guess it could be a theremin — line of second cut “Fingerstache.” The prior intro “Alcubierre Metric” has kind of a post-rocky tonal wash feel to it, which works well, but after “Fingerstache” rolls out its guitar-less fuzz-punk groove, its last minute-plus settles into a different vibe, laid back and topped by the noted line. It fades out leaving the drums as the last element to go but has an almost hip-hop rhythm that, in some of the context of what follows throughout The Sound of Color in Space, is an initial showing of Ghost:Hello‘s willingness to reach outside heavy rock in terms of genre. “Perfect,” which follows, quickly affirms the strange-things-afoot suspicions raised, and in righteous fashion, with more bass-up-front nod-riffing and steady repetitions off the line, “I’m perfect in all ways,” that hypnotize ahead of the sucker-punch that is the screaming start of “The Mouth of the Gift Horse,” a noise rocker that makes room in its two minutes for some synth before wrapping with an unabashed mosh part. Because obviously.

Comprised of synthesist/thereminist Nina Smok, bassist William Jennings and drummer Joe KiddGhost:Hello top the otherwise instrumental synth/bass/drum bounce of “Bardo State” with samples-only before rhythmic chain backsghost hello the sound of color in space the play on Tom Waits in “Nemesis” and then comes “Burnout,” which, for a band with no guitar, how do you throw the ultimate wrench in the expectation of your listener? That’s right, with a guitar. Stick that solo in your brain, those who’ve traveled thus far into the seven of nine tracks on The Sound of Color in Space. The penultimate “Spit of Stars” revives the bassy-shove and punkish vibe with just a quick excursion into ambience and sampling for good measure, and “Poison Swan” caps as the longest cut at 5:35 with a totally atmospheric approach building on the worldmaking of “Alcubierre Metric” and getting “heavy” for just a bit but leaving its primary impression to the sparseness that seems to surround. It’s not intuitive as a headphone album in the way some more psychedelic or post-rock-style offerings are, but The Sound of Color in Space has details and turns that are worth focusing on, and if headphones enables that, it’s worth plugging in. And despite the inherent rawness of sound that comes with bass and drum and (mostly) no guitar, Ghost:Hello bring together a complex approach that is so joyously grotesque it makes it hard not to get on board.

I’ll be honest with you. Probably more honest than I need to be. I hear a lot of heavy rock-based bands. Not all of them by any stretch, but plenty. And as with any genre or style of anything — literature, music, art, film, cooking, whatever — there are a lot of commonalities between bands. So many riffs, so many white dudes, so much beer. When it gets exhausting, and I get to hear a band like Ghost:Hello, who have a clear will toward being forward-thinking and individualized with their sound and whose debut seems only to preface more oddities to come, I can’t help but feel refreshed. The Sound of Color in Space is definitely a first step, and I’d love to hear Ghost:Hello experiment further with arrangement, start banging on pots and pans, work in some dance beats alongside heavy-as-hell basslines, etc., but the point is that even in evoking such thoughts in the mind of their audience, they’re encouraging creativity in response to creativity, and that is what good art should do. So thanks. I needed that.

You won’t get the full context of the record from “The Mouth of the Gift Horse,” which is premiering here, but it’s a two-minute blast of bass-led, scream-topped noise rock fuckall, so, you know, you could do a lot worse.

Please enjoy:

Ghost:Hello is a synth-loving stoner rock family affair from northeast Ohio. Made up of a husband/wife duo and their cousin, the band members have been playing for decades. With extensive individual histories touring around the US and in Europe in other DIY groups, this project just feels like a natural continuation. Together as a family and as musicians, Ghost:Hello is now ready to take the rock n roll world by the horns.

Bringing in all sorts of unorthodox elements into their fuzz rock assault, this trio counterbalances stoner sludge with trip hop grooves. The group has never been afraid to experiment, and Ghost:Hello is completely a slave to their various muses; this leads to an elegant fusion of influences of bands like Type O Negative to Fatso Jetson by way of Queens of the Stone Age. The band has amassed an impressive social media following since its inception, even with a debut album still on the way. The upcoming record, Sound of Color in Space, has been engineered and produced by a friend through the company 8th Day Sound, who have worked with Slayer, Marilyn Manson, and Smashing Pumpkins.

Now as they double down for their first release, Ghost:Hello are set to take on bold new vistas. Having played around the Midwest since 2013, the local crowd is hungry for what they are about to deliver. DIY til death, these fuzz rockers are planning everything from shows in new places to an animated video to herald their new music. A band that’s no stranger to hard work, and who constantly push to innovate, Ghost:Hello are a breath of fresh air in a crowded scene!

Sound of Color in Space will be available in digital and CD formats September 20th, 2019.

Band Members:
Nina Skok — synthesizers, samples, and Theremin
William Jennings — bass
Joe Kidd — drums and percussion

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Review & Track Premiere: Pale Grey Lore, Eschatology

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Pale Grey Lore Eschatology

[Click play above to stream ‘Before the Fall’ from Pale Grey Lore’s Eschatology. Album is out Sept. 6 on Small Stone Records.]

In theology, eschatology refers to the ultimate fate of humanity, whether that’s the apocalypse or being one with the universe or whatever it might be in a given belief system. Ohio heavy rock four-piece Pale Grey Lore, whose Eschatology marks their debut on Small Stone Records and follows behind a well-received 2016 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a fairly grim picture of environmental destruction, capitalist ravaging and otherworldly semi-salvation, and it comes expressed in 10 tracks and 42 minutes of varied, atmospheric songcraft that roughs up the sound of the first album somewhat without losing the underlying structure that helped make those songs so memorable, so that from opener “Sunken Cities” onward, Pale Grey Lore establish a balance between spaciousness and hook-making, and whether that’s heard in the massive low-end roll of “Before the Fall” or the winding, Queens of the Stone Age-style “Greed Springs Eternal” just before it, the sense of poise comes through in overarching vocal melodies and harmonies between guitarists Michael Miller and Xander Roseberry as well as in the fluidity of groove from bassist Donovan Johnson and drummer Adam Miller.

Those who heard the first album will perhaps be most struck by the pervasiveness of mood throughout Eschatology, and that comes through whether a given song is fast or slow, loud or quiet, as Miller and Roseberry vary arrangements of acoustic and electric guitar and sundry effects, and even “Sunken Cities” begins with a minute and a half of ambient introduction before the bassline kicks in to lead into the first verse. But the mood suits Pale Grey Lore, and while it means that their hooks aren’t necessarily as immediate or as up-front as they were, the tradeoff for that is a richer listening experience on the whole, with a depth of tone and concept fleshing out the penchant for songwriting that serves as their foundation. In other words, Pale Grey Lore have become and are becoming a more complex band. This can only be a good thing.

“Sunken Cities” is a suitable plunge to set the tone for the rest of the record, and its mid-paced rollout (after the intro) makes an enticing contrast for the speedier, hookier “Greed Springs Eternal,” which as noted leads into the more lumbering “Before the Fall.” It’s telling that this salvo should be more focused on diversity of craft rather than “frontloading” all the rockers — which they certainly would have had plenty of material to do, with songs like “The Rift,” “Undermined” and “Silent Command” tucked safely away on side B — as it speaks not only to the narrative mission of Eschatology and the story being told, but also the band’s growth as a unit and more progressive priorities, as perhaps most shown on the closing title-track. Even cuts like “Regicide” and “Waiting for the Dawn,” which round out the first half of the album, do so with a marked distinction between them, as the former finds a grungier middle ground and is fleshed out in its verses by howling lead guitar before a second-half crash out and resounding final solo, and the latter caps side A with a quieter arrangement of fuzzy leads and combined acoustic and electric guitar as a bed for echoing vocals, a steady level of snare activity beneath wisely keeping a feeling of movement and grounding to the proceedings.

pale grey lore

By the time they get there, Pale Grey Lore have already shown their proggy intent, but “Waiting for the Dawn” highlights the point and, in a linear format — that is, a CD or DL not requiring the side flip of a vinyl — it’s less an interruption of momentum than a landmark ahead of the takeoff that follows with “The Rift,” as side B works quickly in the three-minute track to give its sense of momentum before slamming it headfirst into album highlight “Void-Cursed,” the arrival of which is marked with a wash of low-end with a solo cutting through and a more lumbering movement that’s soon enough met with resonant vocal harmonies leading to a march outward and, one assumes, a sonic payoff intended to convey the vastness of the void itself. So be it.

The deftness of the turn from “Void-Cursed” to the bouncing surf-punkishness of “Silent Command” isn’t to be understated, as it and the penultimate “Undermined,” which follow, seem to pick up where “The Rift” and “Greed Springs Eternal” left off, still changing their approach from track to track — the backing vocals on “Silent Command,” the Thin Lizzy-isms of “Undermined,” etc. — but keeping runtimes tighter and allowing more of a push to take hold. The fact that those changes occur next to songs like “Waiting for the Dawn” and “Sunken Cities” and “Void-Cursed” and indeed “Eschatology” itself put emphasis on how dynamic Pale Grey Lore‘s approach is becoming on the whole. With the title-track, the clear focus in on melody, but even then, there’s a thrust into noise and a final descent (ascent?) into cacophony that comes coupled with chant-sounding harmonized vocals — pretty sure there’s a screamed layer in there too — before the song itself finishes at just under four minutes and a bookending outro takes hold with echoes of the start of “Sunken Cities” and chimes courtesy of Roseberry leading the way into a more ethereal oblivion.

What the hell happens next? I don’t know, but I’m as curious to find out in terms of the storytelling as I am when it comes to the band itself, who seem to be signaling their readiness to enter a different level of consideration with these songs, and, more specifically, a readiness to tour. Eschatology is a record full of purpose, and the realization of not just a plotline, but a creative vision fleshed out across the work (one would guess) of multiple songwriters coming together toward a common end. It is simultaneously gorgeous and troubling, thoughtful in composition and impact-making in result. I do not know to what it might lead in terms of the band’s plans, but like “Sunken Cities” leads the way into the world they’re creating, so too does Eschatology feel much more like a beginning than an end of all things.

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Pale Grey Lore Set Sept. 6 Release for Eschatology on Small Stone Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I was way into Pale Grey Lore‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here) and bummed out hard on missing them at Maryland Doom Fest last month, but the news today is good in that the Columbus, Ohio, natives will release their second long-player, Eschatology — the theological study of death — through Small Stone Records on Sept. 6. They’ve got the opening track posted now, as is the label’s wont when preorders go live, and they’ve revealed the album details and themes. It’s not a pretty picture they paint, to be sure. Remember when a grim future run by villainous, impossibly-wealthy technological oligarchs was the stuff of science fiction? Well, prescience comes in many forms. Pale Grey Lore are indeed telling a story through these tracks, and I’ll look forward to hearing how it plays out as they make their way toward the title cut at the end, and where the balance of narrative and songwriting leads them.

The PR wire brings info and the song:

Pale Grey Lore Eschatology

PALE GREY LORE: Psychedelic Garage Doom Collective Joins Small Stone Recordings For The Release Of Eschatology September 6th; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Columbus, Ohio-based psychedelic garage doom collective PALE GREY LORE recently joined forces with Small Stone Recordings for the release of their second full-length Eschatology, set for release this September.

Blending elements of garage psych, space rock, post-punk, and stoner doom, PALE GREY LORE manifests focused, hook-driven, heavy, rock ‘n’ roll. Melodic vocals and subtle harmonies echo alongside the molten groove in the guitar, bass, and drums, taking a time-tested formula and proving it indeed to be timeless. Produced by the band’s own Xander Roseberry and Michael Miller, engineered and mixed by Andy Sartain, and mastered by Harold LaRue, with artwork and layout by Adam Eckley, Eschatology can be best described as heavy on the heavy, and fuzzy and trippy in all the right places.

“Eschatology tells the story of a depleted planet beset by vast inequality, ravaged by climate catastrophe, and poisoned by nuclear disaster,” relays the band of the record’s themes. “The masses are left to suffer and die while the wealthy techno-industrialists responsible for the destruction flee in luxury spacecraft that will become their tombs. The sheer magnitude of this planetary devastation summons cosmic beings whose presence warps reality itself, and the world is utterly transformed as the present collides with an ancient timeline. When the survivors finally emerge from their underground shelters, they discover that half the planet remains a post-apocalyptic wasteland while the other half has become lush and verdant. One hemisphere is strewn with melted reactors, crashed spacecraft, and bombed-out ruins; the other is an untamed wilderness, teeming with strange creatures, and dotted with ominous towering edifices that pulsate with eldritch power.”

Eschatology will be released on CD, limited LP, and digital formats on September 6th. In advance of its release, PALE GREY LORE is pleased to unveil the record’s opening track “Sunken Cities.”

Issues the band, “‘Sunken Cities’ creates tension by moving from eerie, cavernous spaciousness to tight, claustrophobic riffing and back again. The cinematic intro was based on an improvisation we developed after the rest of the song had come together. It provided us an opportunity to expand our sound in a more prog-rock direction, which is one of many influences we wanted to explore on this new record. Our goal was to experiment and evolve our sound without straying too far from the core aesthetic that animated our self-titled debut. We think we were able to achieve that balance well.”

For Eschatology preorders and to sample “Sunken Cities,” visit the Small Stone Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION.

Eschatology Track Listing:
1. Sunken Cities
2. Greed Springs Eternal
3. Before The Fall
4. Regicide
5. Waiting For The Dawn
6. The Rift
7. Void-Cursed
8. Silent Command
9. Undermined
10. Eschatology

PALE GREY LORE:
Michael Miller – lead/backing vocals, six-string electric/acoustic guitars, theremin, mellotron
Xander Roseberry – backing vocals, six-string/twelve-string electric/acoustic guitars, theremin, chimes
Donovan Johnson – bass
Adam Miller – drums, auxiliary percussion

http://www.facebook.com/palegreylore/
htps://www.instagram.com/palegreylore
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

Pale Grey Lore, “Sunken Cities”

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Valley of the Sun, Old Gods: What Faith Brings

Posted in Reviews on May 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

valley of the sun old gods

They nailed it. Absolutely. That’s as simple as I can say it. Cincinnati, Ohio-based heavy rockers Valley of the Sun bring new character and dimension to their core approach in fuzzy riffs and classic desert-style groove, and with their third album, Old Gods (on Fuzzorama), the four-piece answer both the potential of their earliest work and the development that took place over their first two LPs. Led by the founding duo of guitarist/vocalist Ryan Ferrier and drummer Aaron Boyer, with Josh Pilot on guitar and Chris Sweeney handling bass and keys, the band present 11 tracks in a sharp-turning 41 minutes, tying together around a theme of greater instrumental variety and songcraft executed with airtight efficiency and purpose. In following up 2016’s Volume Rock (review here) and 2014’s Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (review here), Valley of the Sun sound like a band who know when to take their time — closer “Dreams of Sands,” for example — and when to tear-ass through the speakers, as on the sub-tw0-minute scorcher “Firewalker.”

That maturity and self-realization very much suit their basic sound, which has always been professional at its foundation, going back to their first two EPs, 2011’s The Sayings of the Seers (review here, discussed here) and the prior year’s Two Thousand Ten, but has never quite had the reach it does on Old Gods. The album is quick to showcase that with the mellow guitar intro to the opening title-track, but it comes out all the more in the series of interludes peppered through the tracklisting. Named on-theme to the title of the record itself, “Gaia Creates,” “Shiva Destroys” and “Buddha Transcends” do an incredible amount of work in terms of diversifying and bolstering the surrounding material, taking the mid-paced nod and catchy rush of “Old Gods” and the subsequent post-QOTSA careener “All We Are” and lending depth and a more complete-album feel, despite the variety between them, with “Gaia Creates” dipping into sunny folk acoustics, “Shiva Destroys” a suitable percussion interplay, and “Buddha Transcends” an effective delve into meditative minimalism.

“Gaia Creates” is the longest of them at 2:16, and yet the effect they have on the songs around them is palpable, perhaps nowhere more than in “Dim Vision,” which sits as the only cut in between “Gaia Creates” and “Shiva Destroys.” It’s as much a quintessential Valley of the Sun track as one could ask for, even more than the opening duo of “Old Gods” and “All We Are,” but with the lead-in and lead-out, it’s given a special focus that seems to highlight its execution. On paper, it’s nothing overly fancy — basically an instance of what the band at their best have been all along — but “Dim Vision” is emblematic just the same of the progression they’ve undertaken over the course of the last nine years in the studio and on tour. Like the aforementioned “Firewalker,” it’s a song that sounds like it was made to be played live, and to have these tracks appear in such proximity to each other feels purposeful as well, with side A moving smoothly through a course that would be deceptive in its complexity if it didn’t just lay it all out there and still manage to ease the listener through its changes, whether it’s the kick in tempo between “Old Gods” and “All We Are,” or the head-spinning shifts from “Gaia Creates” to “Dim Vision” to “Shiva Destroys” to “Firewalker.”

valley of the sun

It’s worth noting as well how quickly those changes take place. The last four tracks on side A don’t add up to the total runtime of the first two. It would be an easy place for the band to lose control of Old Gods‘ flow, but they never do. Instead, they bring “Firewalker” to a crisp finish and mirror the beginning of the album with “Into the Abyss” on side B, which also begins with a stretch of mellow guitar, runs a moderate pace and gives an immersive, rolling progression for the listener to dive into, made all the more so by a laid back vocal from Ferrier, who only moments ago, was in full-on belt-out mode for “Firewalker.” Especially listening in a linear format (CD or DL), it’s not at all the first striking shift on Old Gods, but it’s another one Valley of the Sun make sound much easier than it actually is.

Fuzz comes to the fore in the relatively brief but effective “Faith is for Suckers,” a hooky, cowbell-infused desert riffer with a driving volume tradeoff, and “Buddha Transcends” resets the mood to quiet ahead of “Means the Same” and “Dreams of Sands” at the finish. With “Into the Abyss” and “Dreams of Sands” — the latter of which is perfectly placed as a memorable closer — as six-plus-minute bookends for side B, “Faith is for Suckers,” “Buddha Transcends” and “Means the Same” play out in a kind of parabolic fashion, both in energy and runtime; longer-to-shorter-to-shortest, and back up, though “Faith is for Suckers” and “Means the Same” surround the centerpiece interlude with arguably a more active spirit than “Into the Abyss” and “Dreams of Sands.” But if that’s the case, it’s only because the longer pieces are more ambitious in their scope, and “Dreams of Sands” not only serves as payoff for side B, but for the record as whole, rewarding the risks taken on side A and the structural turn of side B with a scope of its own that, as analogy for the entirety of Old Gods pushes beyond what Valley of the Sun have done in the past, ending on a long fade as if to return the listener to wherever they might’ve been before the quiet beginning of the title-track first cropped up.

Old Gods brings Valley of the Sun‘s take to a new level, pushing aside preconceptions of who the band are by using its theme to tie the material together instrumentally and structurally, and leaving one to wonder where they might go from here, whether it’s in integrating the acoustics and percussion of the interludes to their songwriting — would be fair enough ground to cover — or continuing to progress in some other, unexpected way. Perhaps most telling of all, listening to Old Gods, one feels less concerned about what shape the inevitable ‘new gods’ might take than the achievements brought to bear here. This is what Valley of the Sun have been moving toward for the last nine years. This realization. For now, it seems most crucial to understand that and appreciate the work on its own merits. Where it might lead is a concern for another day, but if you’re worried about it, have a little faith.

Valley of the Sun, Old Gods (2019)

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Ancient VVisdom Announce New Album Mundus Due This Fall; “Human Extinction” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Ohio cultists Ancient VVisdom were holed up earlier this year in Mercinary Studios putting together what will be their follow-up to 2017’s 33, which was their label debut on Argonauta Records that also saw release through DHU Records and Magic Bullet Records. In the two years since, AVV frontman Nathan Opposition has made a go of it alongside Dan Lorenzo of Hades in the band Vessel of Light, and that also-righteous cause taken up a bit of time that otherwise might’ve gone toward Ancient VVisdom‘s dark and disturbing psychedelic mindfuckery, but the announcement that the band will return with a new album through Argonauta bodes well (bodes grim?) as a sign of things to come.

The album is called Mundus, and they’ve got a new video for the track “Human Extinction.” The album is due out in Fall, and the announcement of it is fresh off the PR wire:

ancient vvisdom

ANCIENT VVISDOM return with brand new album this Fall on Argonauta Records; + premiere first single ‘Human Extinction’!

A dark, enlightening foresight into the future of humankind dictated by singer/songwriter Nathan Opposition. Ancient VVisdom was founded in Austin, TX in late 2009 with the order consisting of Nathan Opposition (ex-integrity drummer 2005-2010), Justin “Ribs” Mason (iron age bassist) on second acoustic guitar, and Nathan’s brother, Michael Jochum (ex-integrity guitarist 2003-2010) on electric guitar. This Fall, Ancient VVisdom will finally return with a brand new album on Argonauta Records!

To shorten your wait, the band is already sharing with us a first track, Human Extinction. Just exclusively premiered on Revolver Magazine, you can now watch Ancient VVisdom brand new video HERE!

Band mastermind Nathan Opposition comments: “Our new album is titled Mundus. We put our heart and soul into this. This album speaks volumes both sonically and philosophically.

Engineered by Noah Buchanan, mastered by Arthur Rizk, artwork by Karmazid and music by Ancient VVisdom, we had quite the amazing team of talented individuals who helped shape what is now our favorite AVV album to date! Thank you all very much for your help.

The world we live in is so fucked up and there is so much to write about, its sad for me to see how many artist these days have the amps and the platform but nothing to say. The lyrics on Mundus have something very powerful to say. The music, the message, the vision and the voice. I hope in years to come the music community can come together, be enlightened, and take a stance against the hypocrisy, the bigotry, the hate, the injustices of our modern society. We all have a voice now lets band together and use it to change the world. Extinction is the rule, survival is the exception.“

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https://www.instagram.com/officialancientvvisdom/
www.argonautarecords.com
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Ancient VVisdom, “Human Extinction” official video

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