Rainbows are Free Announce New Album Head Pains; Streaming “Shapeshifter”

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

rainbows are free

Yes, it’s been half a decade since Oklahoma’s Rainbows are Free released their second album, Waves Ahead of the Ocean (review here), but you know, when the PR wire lit up with the news of their impending follow-up, Head Pains, my immediate response was, “Oh shit, badass.” Five years later. That’s pretty good. The five-piece are currently streaming the track “Shapeshifter” from the new record, and they’re looking for a label to step up and help them release the thing. I have a hard time imagining someone won’t get on board and get the thing out on vinyl if not across multiple formats. I mean, unless it’s three hours long or something, it seems like a no-brainer to me. These guys are awesome, the sampling they’re giving would seem to show that hasn’t changed since 2014, and as I recall, the last outing had good underground buzz around it. Would be a good pickup for somebody, so yeah, I’ll expect that news at some point.

Until then, here’s the album info and the track, hoisted off the aforementioned PR wire:

rainbows are free head pains

Head Pains is Rainbows Are Free’s third full length album, and follow-up to 2014’s Waves Ahead of the Ocean. The completion of Head Pains heralds a return to RAF’s heavy psychedelic roots as witnessed on their breakout album, Believers In Medicine in 2010. Although considered a return to form, Head Pains further exhibits the band’s unique voice — setting them apart from contemporaries of heavy psychedelic, doom, and stonerrock with whom they’ve shared the stage, (High on Fire, Dead Meadow, St. Vitus, The Sword, Big Business, Kylesa, etc.).

Often appearing in costumed stage dress, the band, fronted by the soaring and snarling nigh 7-foot cyclone of weirdness that is Brandon Kistler, continues to shock and amaze fans by introducing an element of good humored theatrics to accompany their live sonic assault. This is achieved in no small part due to the guitar prowess and songwriting of Richie Tarver, joined by the ambient soundscapes of Joey Powell on rhythm guitar, and the thunderous low end of Jason Smith on bass, and Bobby Onspaugh on drums.

Rainbows Are Free continue to bring their unique brand of psychedelic heaviness on tour in 2019 as they seek label support for the release of Head Pains.

Recorded in 2018-2019 by Trent Bell (Flaming Lips, Chainsaw Kittens) at Bell Labs, Norman, OK. Mastered by Hans DeKline of Hans DeKline Mastering, Los Angeles, CA. Album art by Tony Roberts (Electric Wizard, Conan, Slomatics).

HEAD PAINS
1. Covered In Dawn
2. Electricity on Wax
3. Shapeshifter
4. The Sound Inside
5. Lady of the Woods / Psychonaut
6. A Penny’s Worth
7. Nile Song
8. Eunice

https://www.facebook.com/RainbowsAreFree/
http://instagram.com/rainbowsarefree
https://rainbowsarefree.bandcamp.com/
https://rainbowsarefree.com/

Rainbows are Free, “Shapeshifter”

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Loss, BardSpec, Sinner Sinners, Cavra, Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Supersonic Blues, Masterhand, Green Lung, Benthic Realm, Lâmina

Posted in Reviews on July 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

Day two of the Quarterly Review and all is chugging along. I was on the road for part of the day yesterday and will be again today, so there’s some chaos underlying what I’m sure on the surface seems like an outwardly smooth process — ha. — but yeah, things are moving forward. Today is a good mix of stuff, which makes getting through it somewhat easier on my end, as opposed to trying to find 50 different ways to say “riffy,” so I hope you take the time to sample some audio as you make your way through, to get a feel for where these bands are coming from. A couple highlights of the week in here, as always. We go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Loss, Horizonless

loss horizonless

Horizonless (on Profound Lore) marks a welcome if excruciating return from Nashville death-doomers Loss, who debuted six years ago with 2011’s Despond (review here) and who, much to their credit, waste no time in making up for their absence with 64 soul-crushing minutes across nine slabs of hyperbole-ready atmospheric misery. The longer, rumble-caked, slow-motion lumbering of “The Joy of all Who Sorrow,” “All Grows on Tears,” “Naught,” the title-track and closer “When Death is All” (which boasts guests spots from Leviathan’s Wrest, Dark Castle’s Stevie Floyd and producer Billy Anderson) are companioned by shorter ambient works like the creepy horror soundtrack “I.O.” and the hum of “Moved Beyond Murder,” but the deeper it goes, the more Horizonless lives up to its name in creating a sense of unremitting, skyline-engulfing darkness. That doesn’t mean it’s without an emotional center. As Loss demonstrate throughout, there’s nothing that escapes their consumptive scope, and as they shift through the organ-laced “The End Steps Forth,” “Horizonless,” “Banishment” and the long-fading wash of the finale, the album seems as much about eating its own heart as yours. A process both gorgeous and brutal.

Loss on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

BardSpec, Hydrogen

bardspec hydrogen

It’s only fair to call Hydrogen an experimentalist work, but don’t necessarily take that to mean that Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson doesn’t have an overarching vision for what his BardSpec project is. With contributions along the way from Today is the Day’s Steve Austin and former Trinacria compatriot Iver Sandøy (also Manngard), Bjørnson crafts extended pieces of ambient guitar and electronica-infused beats on works like “Fire Tongue” and the thumping “Salt,” resulting in two kinds of interwoven progressive otherworldlinesses not so much battling it out as exploring the spaces around each other. Hydrogen veers toward the hypnotic even through the more manic-churning bonus track “Teeth,” but from the psych-dance transience of “Bone” (video posted here) to the unfolding wash of “Gamma,” BardSpec is engaged in creating its own aesthetic that’s not only apart from what Bjørnson is most known for in Enslaved, but apart even from its influences in modern atmospherics and classic, electronics-infused prog.

BardSpec on Thee Facebooks

ByNorse Music website

 

Sinner Sinners, Optimism Disorder

There’s a current of rawer punk running beneath Sinner Sinners’ songwriting – or on the surface of it if you happen to be listening to “California” or “Outsider” or “Hate Yourself” or “Preachers,” etc. – but especially when the L.A. outfit draw back on the push a bit, their Last Hurrah Records and Cadavra Records full-length Optimism Disorder bears the hallmarks of Rancho de la Luna, the studio where it was recorded. To wit, the core duo of Steve and Sam Thill lead the way through the Queens of the Stone Age-style drive of opener “Last Drop” (video posted here), “Desperation Saved Me (Out of Desperation)” and though finale “Celexa Blues” is more aggressive, its tones and overall hue, particularly in the context of the bounce of “Together We Stand” and “Too Much to Dream” earlier, still have that desert-heavy aspect working for them. It’s a line that Sinner Sinners don’t so much straddle as crash through and stomp all over, but I’m not sure Optimism Disorder would work any other way.

Sinner Sinners on Thee Facebooks

Sinner Sinners on Bandcamp

Last Hurrah Records website

 

Cavra, Cavra

cavra cavra

The five-song/52-minute self-titled debut from Argentina trio Cavra was first offered digitally name-your-price-style late in 2016 and picked up subsequently by South American Sludge. There’s little reason to wonder why. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Cristian Kocak, bassist/vocalist Fernando Caminal and drummer Matias Gallipoli, the Buenos Aires three-piece place themselves squarely in the sphere of their home country’s rich heritage in heavy rock and psychedelic fluidity, with earthy tones, a resounding spaciousness in longer cuts like the all-15-minutes-plus “2010,” “Montaña” and “Torquemada.” My mind went immediately to early and mid-period Los Natas as a reference point for how the vocals cut through the density of “Montaña,” but even as Cavra show punkier and more straightforward thrust on the shorter “Dos Soles” (4:10) and “Librianna” (2:45) – the latter also carrying a marked grunge feel – they seem to keep one foot in lysergism. Perhaps less settled than it wants to be in its quiet parts, Cavra’s Cavra nonetheless reaches out with a tonal warmth and organic approach that mark a welcome arrival.

Cavra on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Split

black-tremor-sea-witch-split

One has to wonder if whichever of the involved parties – be it the two acts or either of the labels, Sunmask Records or Hypnotic Dirge – had in mind a land-and-sea kind of pairing in putting together Saskatoon’s Black Tremor or Nova Scotia’s Sea Witch for this split release, because that’s basically where they wound up. Black Tremor, who issued their debut EP in 2016’s Impending (review here), answer the post-Earth vibes with more bass/drums/cello instrumental exploration on the two-part “Hexus,” while the massive tonality of duo Sea Witch answers back – though not literally; they’re also instrumental – with three cuts, “Green Tide,” “As the Crow Flies Part One” and “As the Crow Flies Part Two.” The two outfits have plenty in common atmospherically, but where Black Tremor seem to seek open spaces in their sound, Sea Witch prefer lung-crushing heft, and, well, there isn’t really a wrong answer to that question. Two distinct intentions complementing each other in fluidity and a mood that goes from grim and contemplative to deathly and bleak.

Black Tremor on Thee Facebooks

Sea Witch on Thee Facebooks

Hypnotic Dirge Records webstore

Sunmask Records webstore

 

Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul

supersonic-blues-supersonic-blues-theme

It takes Den Haag trio Supersonic Blues no more than eight minutes to bust out one of 2017’s best short releases in their Who Can You Trust? Records debut single, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul. Yes, I mean it. The young three-piece of guitarist Timothy, bassist Gianni and drummer Lennart absolutely nail a classic boogie-rock vibe on the two-tracker, and from the gotta-hear low end that starts “Curses on My Soul,” the unabashed hook of “Supersonic Blues Theme” and the blown-out garage vocals that top both, the two-tracker demonstrates clearly not only that there’s still life to be had in heavy ‘70s loyalism when brought to bear with the right kind of energy, but that Supersonic Blues are on it like fuzz on tone. Killer feel all the way and shows an exceeding amount of potential for a full-length that one can only hope won’t follow too far behind. Bonus points for recording with Guy Tavares at Motorwolf. Hopefully they do the same when it comes time for the LP.

Supersonic Blues on Thee Facebooks

Who Can You Trust? Records webstore

 

Masterhand, Mind Drifter

masterhand-mind-drifter

A neo-psych trio from Oklahoma City, Masterhand seem like the kind of group who might at a moment’s notice pack their gear and go join the legions of freaks tripping out on the West Coast. Can’t imagine they wouldn’t find welcome among that I-see-colors-everywhere underground set – at least if their debut long-player, Mind Drifter, is anything to go by. Fuzz like Fuzz, acid like Uncle, and a quick, raw energy that underlies and propels the proceedings through quick tracks like “Fear Monger” and “Lucifer’s Dream” – tense bass and drums behind more languid wah and surf guitar before a return to full-on fuzz – yeah, they make a solid grab for upstart imprint King Volume Records, which has gotten behind Mind Drifter for a cassette issue. There’s some growing to do, but the psych-garage feel of “Chocolate Cake” is right on, “Heavy Feels” is a party, and when they want, they make even quick cuts like “Paranoia Destroyer” feel expansive. That, along with the rest of the release, bodes remarkably well.

Masterhand on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records webstore

 

Green Lung, Green Man Rising

green-lung-green-man-rising

Groove-rolling four-piece Green Lung boast former members of Oak and Tomb King, among others, and Green Man Rising, their first digital single, is the means by which they make their entry into London’s crowded underground sphere. Aside from the apparent nod to Type O Negative in the title – and the plenty of more-than-apparent nod in guitarist Scott Masson’s riffing – “Green Man Rising” and “Freak on a Peak” bask in post-Church of Misery blown-out cymbals from drummer Matt Wiseman, corresponding tones, while also engaging a sense of space via rich low end from bassist Andrew Cave and the echoing vocals of Tom Killingbeck. There’s an aesthetic identity taking shape in part around nature worship, and a burgeoning melodicism that one imagines will do likewise more over time, but they’ve got stonerly hooks in the spirit of Acrimony working in their favor and in a million years that’s never going to be a bad place to start. Cool vibe; makes it easy to look forward to more from them.

Green Lung on Thee Facebooks

Green Lung on Bandcamp

 

Benthic Realm, Benthic Realm

benthic-realm-benthic-realm

In 2016, Massachusetts-based doom metallers Second Grave issued one of the best debut albums of the year in their long-awaited Blacken the Sky (review here)… and then, quite literally days later, unexpectedly called it quits. It was like a cruel joke, teasing their potential and then cutting it short of full realization. The self-titled debut EP from Benthic Realm, which features Second Grave guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (also ex-Warhorse) and bassist Maureen Murphy alongside drummer Brian Banfield (The Scimitar), would seem to continue the mission of that prior outfit if perhaps in an even more metallic direction, drawing back on some of Second Grave’s lumber in favor of a mid-paced thrust while holding firm to the melodic sensibility that worked so well across Blacken the Sky’s span. For those familiar with Second Grave, Benthic Realm is faster, not as dark, and perhaps somewhat less given to outward sonic extremity, but it’s worth remembering that “Awakening,” “Don’t Fall in Line” and “Where Serpents Dwell” are just an introduction and that van Guilder and Murphy might go on a completely different direction over the longer term after going back to square one as they do here.

Benthic Realm website

Benthic Realm on Bandcamp

 

Lâmina, Lilith

lamina-lilith

Smack dab in the middle of Lilith, the debut album from Lisbon-based doom/heavy rockers Lâmina, sits the 20-minute aberration “Maze.” It’s a curious track in a curious place on the record, surrounded by the chugging “Evil Rising” and bass-led rocker bounce of “Psychodevil,” but though it’s almost a full-length unto itself (at least an EP), Lâmina make the most of its extended and largely linear course, building on the tonal weight already shown in the earlier “Cold Blood” and “Big Black Angel” and setting up the tension of “Education for Death” and the nine-minute semi-title-track finale “In the Warmth of Lilith,” which feels a world away from the modern stonerism of “Psychodevil” in its slower and thoroughly doomed rollout. There’s a subtle play of scope happening across Lilith, drawn together by post-grunge tonal clarity and vocal melodies, and Lâmina establish themselves as potentially able to pursue any number of paths going forward from here. If they can correspondingly develop the penchant for songwriting they already show in these cuts as well, all the better.

Lâmina on Thee Facebooks

Lâmina on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FreakTulsa 2016 Posts Updated Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 8th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

I’d be interested to witness the gathering of weirdos that FreakTulsa 2016 brings out. The festival — based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and of no relation to the German Freak Valley fest that I know of — culls bands from around the Midwest and well beyond, groups like King Buffalo and Destroyer of Light sharing the stage with Merlin and Red Wizard, among many others. It’s a three-day affair, June 17 through June 19, and while I won’t make it out for it, I’ll look forward to finding out how it goes. Seems like an event in the middle of the country could be a good regional pull, a haven of sorts, for followers of riff.

Bottom line, it looks like a good time. Hope it goes well.

Updated lineup, info and ticket links follow:

freaktulsa 2016 poster

Get it together folks, for the most fuzzed out, brain-jarring, facemeltingest fest to trample Tulsa, June 17th-19th at the Downtown Lounge. We’ve got an incredible and diverse lineup, from the deep and fuzzed out valleys to the peaks of devestating alpine thrash glory. Get your tickets now.

Freaktulsa 2016 is a 3 day psychedelic rock festival celebrating all that is hard, doomy and heavy. Join us and our diverse lineup at the Downtown Lounge in Tulsa Oklahoma June 17 – 19th. This is a show presented by and for enthusiasts of dark rock of all types. The Mid West Heshfest exists for the love of music above all else, driving our focus to be on providing the best possible musical experience for you.

FreakTulsa 2016 lineup:
Friday 6.17
Silver Screen Monsters, Violent Wednesday, Cobra Jab, Psychotic Reaction, Brother Gruesom, Senior Fellows, Burn Thee Insects, Merlin, Contagion 237, Dr. Rock Doctor, Oberon

Saturday 6.18
Smoke Offering, Idre, P.R.I., Sun Vow, King Buffalo, Grind, Destroyer of Light, Constant Peril, Rifflord, Book of Wyrms

Sunday 6.19
Skeleton Farm, Blunt Splinter, Lucid Awakening, Youngblood Supercult, The Great Electric Quest, Forever in Disgust, Red Wizard, Chainmail

https://www.facebook.com/FreakTulsa/
https://www.facebook.com/events/985580904860408/
https://www.picatic.com/FreakTulsa

Rifflord at FreakTulsa 2016 teaser

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Radio Adds: All Them Witches, Rainbows are Free, Idre, Nyarlathotep, Panopticon

Posted in Radio on July 11th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Click here to listen.

There doesn’t seem to ever be a break with this stuff. 16 records joined The Obelisk Radio playlist today, and that’s still got me behind on checking out more to add. I don’t know what the state of that hard drive is, but I might not be far off from needing to add a second one. It’s become an archive for me.

Diligent and admirable bastard that he is, Slevin is working on an automatically refreshing script that will allow listeners to see what was played over the last 24 hours, which will be a big help if a file is missing its ID3 tags — that being how the player identifies the songs — as I know things sometimes are. I get asked regularly what was played at a specific time, so hopefully this will be able to answer that question.

So things are in the works, but of course there’s a ton of music to talk about in the meantime, and that’s the fun part anyway.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 11, 2014:

All Them Witches, Effervescent EP

There are at least two distinct jams at work in the 25-minute single track that makes up Effervescent, the 2014 EP from Nashville psych-blues rockers All Them Witches. The Fender Rhodes of Allan Van Cleave and airy guitar of Ben McLeod feature heavily in both, as bassist Michael Parks, Jr., and drummer Robby Staebler (interview here) provide a foundation on which to space out, and the two pieces find a bridge in hypnotic, psychedelic stretching and backwards noise beginning at around 13 minutes in before building back up. All throughout, the vibe is central, there is movement, and the four-piece demonstrate that the chemistry they showed burgeoning on last year’s brilliant Lightning at the Door (discussed here) was no fluke, but the beginning of a grand and creative exploration that finds its next installment here. It may be a stopgap — formerly their primary means of release, they’ve recently pulled their full-lengths down from Bandcamp; one expects big, got-signed-type news from them at any moment — but Effervescent is fluid and rich, and as deep as you want to go in listening to it, it’s willing to take you there and further. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Nyarlathotep, The Shadow over Innsmouth

Some six years after releasing their initial The End is Always Near demo, New Jersey black metal outfit (whom, in the interest of full disclosure, I know personally) Nyarlathotep follow-up with the Lovecraftian full-length, The Shadow over Innsmouth. Based around the  short story of the same name, the album breaks down into five extended tracks plus an intro of rage-fueled atmospherics. Using programmed drums to their advantage on “Old Zadok Allen” — the only proper song here under 10 minutes — they add an industrial feel with a keyboard-led midsection backed by vague, ambient screams. The density in the material is striking, but even at their most unbridled — as on the blasting, solo-topped early moments in the title-track — Nyarlathotep hold their commitment to setting a mood firm, and the blown-out, distorted soundscape they create across the release is grim and otherworldly enough to be worthy of its subject matter. It is a complex, biting execution that won’t be for everyone, but that seethes in its quiet parts and gnashes its pointed teeth with monstrous force. Nyarlathotep on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Idre, Idre


Oklahoma City trio Idre specialize in ambient fluidity and deeply-weighted tonal crush. Their self-released, self-titled debut long-player is comprised of two extended cuts — “Factorie” (26:41) and “Witch Trial” (13:17) — that each impress with their patience, their impact and their ability to contrast the generally claustrophobic feel of post-metal with an open-spaced, salt-of-the-earth pulse. Within its first 10 minutes, “Factorie” has moved from undulating waves of riffing to vast, strumming, Across Tundras-esque roll, and never does it seem to be meandering without purpose in the noisy stages to come. It builds and collapses, and when they seem the most gone, the clean, twanging vocals return to finish out, leading to the parabolically constructed “Witch Trial,” which marries Earth-style drone and galloping drums effectively to create a decidedly Western feel while still building toward, and eventually moving through a sonically pummeling apex. Once again, vocals are sparse, but perfectly placed almost as if to remind the listener of how small a human being can be in so wide a space as the Midwest. Like that landlocked region, Idre‘s Idre is expansive and lets you see for miles. Idre on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Rainbows are Free, Waves ahead of the Ocean

Led by the substantial pipes of vocalist B. Fain Kistler, Norman, Oklahoma, four-piece Rainbows are Free seem keen on finding the place where classic doom and heavy rock meet, and on their second full-length, Waves ahead of the Ocean (released by Guestroom Records), they just about get there. Kistler is a singer worthy of comparison to Grand MagusJB Christoffersson, but Rainbows are Free are less grandiose overall, early songs like “The Botanist,” the title-track and the cumbersomely-titled opener “Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers from a Place beyond Hell” nestling into heavy, engaging grooves marked out by the choice riffing of Richie Tarver, the bass work of Chad Hogue and drums of Bobby Onspaugh. Unpretentious and professional in their presentation, they doom up an otherwise Clutch-style boogie in “Cadillac” before going full-on trad metal in “Snake Bitten by Love,” and ably making their way through a Dio Sabbath push on “Burn and Die,” which works well despite feeling a long way from the upbeat rockin’ of earlier highlight “Sonic Demon” and leads smoothly into closer “Comet,” the six-and-a-half-minute spacier thrust of which seems to be seems to be where Rainbows are Free most choose to harken to the psychedelia one might expect from their moniker. They most drive toward the epic in their finale, and the payoff there is churning and insistent in a way that more than justifies the song’s position on the 37-minute record, but even then have a keen eye for structure and holding the attention of their audience. An impeccably put together album from a band more than ready to turn heads. Rainbows are Free on Thee Facebooks, Guestroom Records on Bandcamp.

Panopticon, Roads to the North


Despite the bluegrass influence and liberal inclusion of banjo amidst its blackened onslaught, Panopticon‘s Roads to the North (released on Bindrune) is perhaps most American of all for its pulling together seemingly disparate elements in defiance of European traditionalism. Billed as and creating the standard for American folk metal, it nonetheless is in conversation with European black metal — a conversation that in my head looks something like it’s being chased à la Benny Hill for its heresies — while purposefully working against its tenets. Roads to the North is the fifth full-length from the one-man project of Kentucky’s Austin Lunn, and made in collaboration with Krallice‘s Colin Marston (among others), it elicits a sprawl through both its metallic extremity and its devotion to the aesthetic it pioneers. It makes for a heady 74-minute listen, but Panopticon are cohesive throughout — five records deep, they should be — and one doesn’t embark on an album like Roads to the North lightly or without wanting full immersion into an evocative and blistering landscape. That’s just what you get. Panopticon on Thee Facebooks, Bindrune Recordings.

For the full list of albums added to The Obelisk Radio this week and to see the latest updates, click here.

Thanks for reading and listening.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Days of SHoD XIII, Pt. 7: Oberon and Grel “Star Stuff” Tour Starts Tonight

Posted in Features on November 1st, 2013 by JJ Koczan

For most who will play and/or attend Stoner Hands of Doom XIII next week (Nov. 7-10) at Strange Matter in Richmond, Virginia, the trip is something that starts next week, but for Oklahoma natives Oberon and Grel, it’s SHoD season already. The two groups have teamed up for what they’ve dubbed the “Star Stuff” tour — they even had laminates made of the Adam Burke poster art — and they’ll begin tonight at the Railhead Saloon in their native state, gradually making their way to Virginia over the course of the next week to play on Saturday, Nov. 9, with Beelzefuzz, Backwoods Payback, Valkyrie, Admiral Browning and many more.

Rivaled only by Kin of Ettins, who are coming from Dallas, Oberon and Grel will be making the longest trek to get to Strange Matter. I posted the dates here when they were first announced, and Grel were written up earlier this year for their 2012 Red Sun God EP following their name change from Deadweight, but considering the extra mile(s) the two bands are going to in order to play SHoD, it only seemed fitting to highlight their material again for anyone who may not have encountered them yet.

Oberon

“Progressive stoner” is a hard one to pull off. While heavy rock has its technical side, that mostly comes in drum fills and solos, and those who’d push structural bounds usually come face to face with a defiance of the traditional adherence to classic methods that rests at the genre’s core. That concern seems to hold little sway for the double-guitar foursome Oberon, who released their debut EP, Through Space, We Ride, last year on Crew Dawg Records. And rather than fall in with the post-Mastodon multitudes, they harness a more metallic end of prog on centerpiece “Phobos,” with guitarist/vocalist DJ Bryant establishing a distinct singing approach as the song plays out.

Oberon, “Phobos”

Grel

With keyboards adding melody to their two-guitar approach, Grel come across as basking in many of the heavy rock classicisms that Oberon seem to be purposefully avoiding on their Red Sun God EP. Rife with bluesy groove, strong rhythms and flourishes of psychedelia, the Lawton five-piece stay grounded and don’t lose themselves either in earthy punch or cosmic indulgence, but find a balance between the two that takes a garage-rock Deep Purple and gives a modern edge. They’re reportedly got new material in the works, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they threw a more recent song or two in the set with “Stone Frog” and “Lady” from Red Sun God.

Grel, Red Sun God EP (2012)

Oberon and Grel on tour:
11/1 Lawton, OK @ Railhead Saloon w/ Juju Beans
11/2 Kansas City, MO @ Daveys Uptown w/ Hossferatu & Merlin
11/3 Chicago, IL @ Livewire Lounge w/ Marmora
11/4 Colombus, OH @ The Trees Bar
11/5 Northampton, MA @ The Elevens w/ Titanis & Scimitar
11/6 Boston, MA @ PA’s Lounge
11/7 Philadelphia, PA @ JR’s Bar
11/9 Richmond, VA Stoner Hands of Doom XIII

Grel: https://www.facebook.com/grelrocks
Oberon: https://www.facebook.com/OberonOK

Tags: , , , ,

Grel and Oberon Touring Their Way to SHoD 2013

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Engagingly naturalist heavy rockers Grel have partnered with fellow Oklahoman outfit Oberon for a tour that will take them through the Midwest and down the East Coast en route to Stoner Hands of Doom 2013 in Richmond, Virginia. Grel, who changed their name from Deadweight after the release of 2012’s The Red Sun God EP (discussed here), are reportedly trying out and tightening up new songs on the road for the eight-day run, and they’ve hooked up with some cool acts on the way to the fest.

Details came joined by the Adam Burke poster for the tour down the PR wire:

Grel Announce Star Stuff Tour

Grel and Oberon will be embarking on tour this November. The route will take them through New England on their way to Stoner Hands of Doom.

The tour, named the Star Stuff Tour, will be the first national tour for both bands. Grel will be truly introducing itself to the world, following their name change from Deadweight. The two bands will be road-testing new material in preparation for new releases in the future as well as supporting their previous releases on the road (Grel’s “Red Sun God EP” and Oberon’s “Through Space, We Ride”). The tour will feature local support in each city, such as The Scimitar, Hössferatu, and Titanis.

When asked about the tour, three members of Grel simply said “what?” and another put sun screen on. Bentley Smith, had this to say, “yeah, it’ll be a fun time, especially with these Oberon guys, they all smell great.”

11/1 Lawton, OK @ Railhead Saloon w/ Juju Beans
11/2 Kansas City, MO @ Daveys Uptown w/ Hossferatu & Merlin
11/3 Chicago, IL @ Livewire Lounge w/ Marmora
11/4 Colombus, OH @ The Trees Bar
11/5 Northampton, MA @ The Elevens w/ Titanis & Scimitar
11/6 Boston, MA @ TBA
11/7 Philadelphia, PA @ JR’s Bar
11/9 Richmond, VA Stoner Hands of Doom

Grel: https://www.facebook.com/grelrocks
Oberon: https://www.facebook.com/OberonOK

Grel, The Red Sun God EP (2012)

Tags: , , , , ,

On the Radar: Grel

Posted in On the Radar on March 20th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Their sound is an tonic of classic rocking stomp, presented with the inimitable arrogance of punker youth, so when it came to my first listen of Grel‘s self-released debut EP, Red Sun God, my only real question was, “What’s the reptilian conspiracy?”

I ask because when Grel, who went by the moniker Deadweight at the time, sent along their first outing in the mail, it came with a note scribbled in permanent marker about said conspiracy, written on — what else? — a page torn out of a porno mag. Well, the most cursory of interwebular investigations has turned up the “information” about how many major world leaders are reptiles bent on enslaving humanity. This explains a lot. Not necessarily about the EP, but you know, in general. Wars and such. Low corporate taxes. The list goes on.

More importantly, the songs. Ah, the songs. Grel hail from Lawton, Oklahoma, and bask in Stooges brashness filtered through heavy looseness. One hears neo-psych commonality with Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes on “Silver Buckle,” but with the razor riffing of “Astro Cannibalism” — presumably that’s a different conspiracy — the sound is fuller, more barroom metal that’s already several beverages ahead of the evening. I dig the dichotomy, even if it means the recording (a self-done job) sounds inconsistent, a far cry by the end of “Astro Cannibalism” from the organ-inclusive ’70s vibing of opener “Lady,” on which the five-piece sound a completely different kind of unhinged.

Closer “Gannymead” follows suit sonically with “Astro Cannibalism,” with a return of the organ as well perhaps to tie the final moments together with the earlier material. Still obviously getting their style hammered out (emphasis on “hammered”), Grel carry the Hendrix fuzz of “Cosmic Lunch” across with fitting whatever-itude, and since I don’t think they’re ever as completely out of control of what they’re doing as they sound — for evidence, I’d cite the underlying build of the moody “Silver Buckle,” which reminds a bit of Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor before its payoff hits — their approach is all the more impressive.

But it’s the dirt that makes it that way. Clean up “Stone Frog” or pull out the feedback and I don’t think it would land with the same insistence in its march, so when it comes to Grel‘s debut full-length, which is reportedly in process, my only hope is that the reptiles don’t steal the cone-shaking soul out of these tones. If nothing else, the fivesome were right to change the name. Deadweight sounds like a nu-metal act on a pay-to-play opening slot. Grel is crazy enough that I don’t know what to expect, and going by Red Sun God, that’s just where they want their listeners to be.

Grel on Thee Facebooks

Grel on Bandcamp

Tags: , , ,