Quarterly Review: Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Black Lung, Giant Dwarf, Land Mammal, Skunk, Silver Devil, Sky Burial, Wizzerd, Ian Blurton, Cosmic Fall

Posted in Reviews on July 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Got my laptop back. Turned out the guy had to give me a new hard drive entirely, clone all my data on it, and scrap the other drive. I’m sure if I took it to another technician they’d have said something completely different, either for better or worse, but it was $165 and I got my computer back, working, in a day, so I can’t really complain. Worth the money, obviously, even though it was $40 more than the estimate. I assume that was a mix of “new hard drive” and “this is the last thing I’m doing before a four-day weekend.” Either way, totally legit. Bit of stress on my part, but what’s a Quarterly Review without it?

This ends the week, but there’s still one more batch of 10 reviews to go on Monday, so I won’t delay further, except to say more to come.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo

elizabeth colour wheel nocebo

A rare level of triumph for a first album, Elizabeth Colour Wheel‘s aesthetic scope and patience of craft on Nocebo result in a genre-spanning post-noise rock that maintains an atmospheric heft whether loud or quiet at any given moment, and a sense of unpredictability that feels born out of a genuinely forward-thinking songwriting process. It is dark, emotionally resonant, beautiful and crushing across its eight songs and 47 minutes, as the Philadelphia five-piece ebb and flow instrumentally behind a standout vocal performance that reminds of Julie Christmas circa Battle of Mice on “Life of a Flower” but is ultimately more controlled and all the more lethal for that. Bouts of extremity pop up at unexpected times and the songs flow into each other so as to make all of Nocebo feel like a single, multi-hued work, which it just might be as it moves into ambience between “Hide Behind (Emmett’s Song)” and “Bedrest” before exploding to life again in “34th” and transitioning directly into the cacophonous apex that comes with closer “Head Home.” One of the best debuts of 2019, if not the best.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser on Bandcamp

 

Black Lung, Ancients

black lung ancients

Ancients is the third full-length from Baltimore’s Black Lung, whose heavy blues rock takes a moodier approach from the outset of “Mother of the Sun” onward, following an organ-led roll in that opener that calls to mind All Them Witches circa Lightning at the Door and following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here) with an even firmer grasp on their overarching intent. The title-track is shorter at 3:10 and offers some post-rock flourish in the guitar amid its otherwise straight-ahead push, but there’s a tonal depth to add atmosphere to whatever moves they’re making at the time, “The Seeker” and “Voices” rounding out side A with relatively grounded swing and traditionalist shuffle but still catching attention through pace and presentation alike. That holds true as “Gone” drifts into psychedelic jamming at the start of side B, and the chunkier “Badlands,” the dramatic “Vultures” and the controlled wash of “Dead Man Blues” take the listener into some unnamed desert without a map or exit strategy. It’s a pleasure to get lost as Ancients plays through, and Black Lung remain a well-kept secret of the East Coast underground.

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Noisolution website

 

Giant Dwarf, Giant Dwarf

Giant Dwarf Giant Dwarf

This just fucking rules, and I feel no need to couch my critique in any more flowery language than that. Driving, fuzzy heavy rock topped with post-Homme melodies that doesn’t sacrifice impact for attitude, the self-released, self-titled debut from Perth, Australia’s Giant Dwarf is a sans-pretense 35 minutes of groove done right. They may be playing to genre, fine, but from the cover art on down, they’re doing so with a sense of personality and a readiness to bring an individual sensibility to their sound. I dig it. Summery tones, rampant vocal melodies in layers, solid rhythmic foundation beneath. The fact that it’s the five-piece’s first album makes me look less for some kind of stylistic nuance, but it’s there to be heard anyway in “Disco Void” and the bouncing end of “High Tide Blues,” and in surrounding cuts like “Repeat After Defeat” and “Strange Wool,” Giant Dwarf set to the task before them with due vitality, imagining Songs for the Deaf with Fu Manchu tonality in “Kepler.” No big surprise, but yeah, it definitely works. Someone should be beating down the door to sign this band.

Giant Dwarf on Thee Facebooks

Giant Dwarf on Bandcamp

 

Land Mammal, Land Mammal

land mammal land mammal

Land Mammal‘s debut outing is a 14-minute, proof-of-concept four-songer EP with clarity of presentation and telegraphed intent. Marked out by the Robert Plant-style vocal heroics of Kinsley August, the band makes the most of a bluesy atmosphere behind him, with Will Weise on wah-ready guitar, Phillip PJ Soapsmith on bass, Stephen Smith on drums and True Turner on keys. On opener “Dark with Rain” and closer “Better Days,” they find a pastoral vibe that draws from ’90s alternative, thinking Blind Melon particularly in the finale, but “Earth Made Free” takes a bluesier angle and “Drippin’ Slow” is not shy about nor ashamed of its danceability, as its lyrics demonstrate. For all the crispness of the production, Land Mammal still manage to sound relatively natural, which is all the more encouraging in terms of moving forward, but it’ll be interesting to hear how they flesh out their sound over the course of a full-length, since even as an EP, this self-titled is short. They have songwriting, performance and production on their side, however, so something tells me they’ll be just fine.

Land Mammal on Thee Facebooks

Land Mammal on Bandcamp

 

Skunk, Strange Vibration

skunk strange vibration

Even before they get to the ultra-“N.I.B.” patterning of second track “Stand in the Sun,” Skunk‘s Sabbathian loyalties are well established, and they continue on that line, through the “War Pigs”-ness of “Goblin Orgy” (though I’ll give them bonus points for that title), and the slower “A National Acrobat” roll of “The Black Crown,” and while that’s not the only influence under which Skunk are working — clearly — it’s arguably the most forward. They’ve been on a traditional path since 2015’s mission-statement EP, Heavy Rock from Elder Times (review here), and as Strange Vibration is their second album behind 2017’s Doubleblind (review here), they’ve only come more into focus in terms of what they’re doing overall. They throw a bit of swagger into “Evil Eye Gone Blind” and “Star Power” toward the end of the record — more Blackmore or Leslie West than Iommi — but keep the hooks center through it all, and cap with a welcome bit of layered melody on “The Cobra’s Kiss.” Based in Oakland, they don’t quite fit in with the Californian boogie scene to the south, but standing out only seems to suit Strange Vibration all the more.

Skunk on Thee Facebooks

Skunk on Bandcamp

 

Silver Devil, Paralyzed

Silver Devil Paralyzed

Like countrymen outfits in Vokonis or to a somewhat lesser degree Cities of Mars, Gävle-based riffers Silver Devil tap into Sleep as a core influence and work outward from there. In the case of their second album, Paralyzed (on Ozium Records), they work far out indeed, bringing a sonic largesse to bear through plus-sized tonality and distorted vocals casting echoes across a wide chasm of the mix. “Rivers” or the later, slower-rolling “Octopus” rightfully present this as an individual take, and it ends up being that one way or the other, with the atmosphere becoming essential to the character of the material. There are some driving moments that call to mind later Dozer — or newer Greenleaf, if you prefer — such as the centerpiece “No Man Traveller,” but the periodic bouts of post-rock bring complexity to that assessment as well, though in the face of the galloping crescendo of “The Grand Trick,” complexity is a secondary concern to the outright righteousness with which Silver Devil take familiar elements and reshape them into something that sounds fresh and engaging. That’s basically the story of the whole record, come to think of it.

Silver Devil on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records website

 

Sky Burial, Sokushinbutsu

sky burial Sokushinbutsu

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/engineer Vessel 2 and drummer/vocalist Vessel 1 (also ex-Mühr), Sky Burial release their debut EP, Sokushinbutsu, through Break Free Records, and with it issue two songs of densely-weighted riff and crash, captured raw and live-sounding with an edge of visceral sludge thanks to the harsh vocals laid overtop. The prevailing spirit is as much doom as it is crust throughout “Return to Sender” (8:53) and the 10:38 title-track — the word translating from Japanese to “instant Buddha” — and as “Sokushinbutsu” kicks the tempo of the leadoff into higher gear, the release becomes a wash of blown-out tone with shouts cutting through that’s very obviously meant to be as brutal as it absolutely is. They slow down eventually, then slow down more, then slow down more — you see where this is going — until eventually the feedback seems to consume them and everything else, and the low rumble of guitar gives way to noise and biting vocalizations. As beginnings go, Sokushinbutsu is willfully wretched and animalistic, a manifested sonic nihilism that immediately stinks of death.

Sky Burial on Thee Facebooks

Break Free Records on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd, Wizzerd

wizzerd st

One finds Montana’s Wizzerd born of a similar Upper Midwestern next-gen take on classic heavy as that of acts like Bison Machine and Midas. Their Cursed Tongue Records-delivered self-titled debut album gives a strong showing of this foundation, less boogie-based than some, with just an edge of heavy metal to the riffing and vocals that seems to derive not directly from doom, but definitely from some ’80s metal stylizations. Coupled with ’70s and ’90s heavy rocks, it’s a readily accessible blend throughout the nine-song/51-minute LP, but a will toward the epic comes through in theme as well as the general mood of the riffs, and even in the drift of “Wizard” that’s apparent. Taken in kind with the fuzzblaster “Wraith,” the winding motion of the eponymous closer and with the lumbering crash of “Warrior” earlier, the five-piece’s sound shows potential to distinguish itself further in the future through taking on fantasy subject matter lyrically as well as playing to wall-sized grooves across the board, even in the speedy first half of “Phoenix,” with its surprising crash into the wall of its own momentum.

Wizzerd on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Ian Blurton, Signals Through the Flames

Ian Blurton Signals Through the Flames

The core of Ian Blurton‘s Signals Through the Flames is in tight, sharply-executed heavy rockers like “Seven Bells” and “Days Will Remain,” classic in their root but not overly derivative, smartly and efficiently composed and performed. The Toronto-based Blurton has been making and producing music for over three decades in various guises and incarnations, and with these nine songs, he brings into focus a songcraft that is more than enough to carry song like “Nothing Left to Lose” and opener “Eye of the Needle,” which bookends with the 6:55 “Into Dust,” the closer arriving after a final salvo with the Scorpionic strut of “Kick out the Lights” and the forward-thrust-into-ether of “Night of the Black Goat.” If this was what Ghost had ended up sounding like, I’d have been cool with that. Blurton‘s years of experience surely come into play in this work, a kind of debut under his own name and/or that of Ian Blurton’s Future Now, but the songs come through as fresh regardless and “The March of Mars” grabs attention not with pedigree, but simply by virtue of its own riff, which is exactly how it should be. It’s subtle in its variety, but those willing to give it a repeat listen or two will find even more reward for doing so.

Ian Blurton on Thee Facebooks

Ian Blurton on Bandcamp

 

Cosmic Fall, Lackland

Cosmic Fall Lackland

“Lackland” is the first new material Berlin three-piece Cosmic Fall have produced since last year’s In Search of Space (review here) album, which is only surprising given the frequency with which they once jammed out a record every couple of months. The lone 8:32 track is a fitting reminder of the potency in the lineup of guitarist Marcin Morawski, bassist Klaus Friedrich and drummer Daniel Sax, and listening to the Earthless-style shred in Morawski‘s guitar, one hopes it won’t be another year before they come around again. As it stands, they make the eight minutes speed by with volcanic fervor and an improvised sensibility that feels natural despite the song’s ultimately linear trajectory. Could be a one-off, could be a precursor to a new album. I’d prefer the latter, obviously, but I’ll take what I can get, and if that’s “Lackland,” then so be it.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

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Ian Blurton Sets June 7 Release for Signals Through the Flames

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ian blurtons future now

Way back in January, you might recall a track was premiered from Ian Blurton’s Future Now called “Space is Forever.” That first single will be issued as a 7″ next month and even when that was being posted, it was intended as a lead-in for Blurton‘s upcoming solo-ish record, Signals Through the Flames. Well, I got the album yesterday and the short version is it kicks ass, which is why I’m writing about it now. It’s due out June 7 and I’m sure there will be preorders and advance public audio all that fun stuff, but consider this a heads up. If you’re not from Toronto or the surrounding area, maybe you’re less familiar with Blurton‘s three-decade-plus career in bands and producing, and that’s fine. Don’t worry about it. That context is nice, but in listening to Signals Through the Flames, the songs stand on their own. I’m going to hope to have more on the record before it’s out, but yeah, just early warning here, that’s all. It’s the kind of record that’s really going to hit with some people. I think I might be one of them.

Art and PR wire info follow:

Ian Blurton Signals Through the Flames

Ian Blurton – Signals Through The Flame – Pajama Party

Release: 7 June 2019

It’s time for a veteran to show the new generation how it’s done. After 35+ years in the Canadian music industry, playing in over 40 bands and producing, engineering and mixing over 100 albums, Ian Blurton is finally releasing a solo record. You’ve probably seen Blurton play in your town, fronting Change of Heart, Blurtonia, Bionic, C’mon, or the still-active Public Animal. If you missed those bands, his name is still likely to pop up somewhere in your record collection; you’ll find Blurton’s producer credit on career-defining albums for Blood Ceremony, Cursed, Tricky Woo, the Weakerthans and more. Or you may have caught him guest with acts as diverse as Richard Lloyd, Buffy Sainte-Marie , the Sadies, Teenage Head, Twink or The Viletones.

It’s no surprise that Blurton’s inaugural solo effort pulls from an impressive pool of talent and a range of influences. In 2017 a sudden torrent of inspiration brought him a slew of songs best suited to a power-trio format. Enlisting friends who also happened to be some of his favorite drummers and bassists, he set out on a quest to create a combination of dark pop hooks, molten riffage and ambient soundscapes that is his heaviest work to date. Between Blurton’s layers-upon-layers of guitar, a plethora of gifted musicians such as Mike Armstrong (King Cobb Steelie), PJ Dunphy (Iron Giant), Eric Larock (Tricky Woo), Glenn Milchem (Blue Rodeo), Damon Richardson (Danko Jones), Anna Ruddick (Randy Bachman), Nick Sewell (Biblical), and Darcy Yates (Flash Lightnin’) all make appearance on Signals Through the Flames. The result is a heavy music melting pot with one foot in the past and the other planted firmly in the future.

Mixed by Daryl Smith (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) at Chemical West and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, Signals Through The Flames will be released by new Toronto imprint Pajama Party digitally, on vinyl and cassette June 7, 2019.

The first single, Space Is Forever b/w Upon Yesterday, is out May 4 on Yeah Right! Records, launching at a release show at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern and can be heard here: ianblurton.bandcamp.com

The live band, Ian Blurton’s Future Now, draws from the same talent as the record, and currently features drummer Glenn Milchem, bassist Anna Ruddick and Aaron Goldstein as second guitarist. This spring and summer sees the band playing dates between Montreal and Calgary, including appearances at Sled Island and Hillside Festival.

Tracklisting
01 EYE OF THE NEEDLE 4:55
02 SEVEN BELLS 3:34
03 DAYS WILL REMAIN 3:30
04 THE MARCH OF MARS 4:18
05 NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE 3:16
06 ICQ 2:58
07 KICK OUT THE LIGHTS 4:53
08 NIGHT OF THE BLACK GOAT 4:47
09 INTO DUST 6:37

Tour dates
May 1 Montreal – Turbo Haus w/ Dead Quiet, Mountain Dust
May 4 Toronto – Dakota Tavern w/ Sick Things, Rough Spells
May 17 Peterborough – Gordon Best Theatre w/ Mokomokai
June 6 Toronto – Sneaky Dees w/ Spirit Adrift
June 7 Kitchener – The Starlight w/ Hawkeyes
June 14 Toronto – secret show NXNE
June 17 Sudbury – The Townehouse
June 18 Thunder Bay – The Apollo
June 19 Winnipeg – The Handsome Daughter
June 20 Saskatoon – Amigo’s
June 21 Edmonton – The Rec Room Edmonton South
June 22 Calgary – The Palomino/Sled Island Festival
June 23 Regina – The Club at The Exchange
July 14 Guelph – Hillside Festival
July 19 Hamilton – This Ain’t Hollywood
July 20 Toronto – The Horseshoe Signals Through The Flames record release

ianblurton.bandcamp.com
twitter.com/ianblurton

Ian Blurton, “Space is Forever”

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Ian Blurton’s Future Now Premiere “Space is Forever”

Posted in audiObelisk on January 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ian blurton

Ian Blurton’s Future Now played their first show this past New Year’s Eve at Bovine Sex Club in their native Toronto. The project is spearheaded by its eponymous figure, whose career in bands and production goes back decades to his work in Change of Heart, who released their debut album in 1986. Along the way, Blurton has helmed outings for Blood Ceremony, Electric Magma, Cursed, The Weakerthans and a wide swath of others in just as wide a swath of genres, and as one might imagine, his new project benefits from an array of influences. Joined by guitarist Aaron Goldstein, bassist Anna Ruddick and drummer Glenn Milchem, Blurton elicits a vibe in the band’s first single, “Space is Forever,” that brings to mind the sharp-hewn indie quirk of Pinback while tapping into a classic heavy strut with its rhythm and a timeless melody that speaks to hours spent in sunshine and gives its progressive edge an accessible complement.

It does not feel happenstance, which is to say there’s more to come. Blurton will release a solo album in May titled Signals Through the Flames, and the band seems to be so formative that I’m not even sure if “Space is Forever” has anyone else playing on it, but the clearheadedness of its aesthetic moves — the way it drifts smoothly into echoes as it fades — tell the tale of more to come either way. I’ll go one step further and note that New Year’s Eve was like two and a half weeks ago, and I don’t think the four-piece lineup of Ian Blurton’s Future Now were around all that long before that, so there could well be some changes as they continue to take shape. They might, for instance, decide just to call themselves Future Now, since although born out of the Ian Blurton solo-project, they’re a full band now one way or the other. Whatever they end up calling themselves by the time Signals Through the Flames lands, “Space is Forever” is a catchy, tightly-structured but still laid back-feeling cut that sounds fresh even as it taps into familiar genre elements. The power of songwriting laid bare.

Whatever the coming months and beyond (that’s not to say “the future”) might bring for them — as of Twitter two days ago, they were recording a B-side for a new 7″, so it may well be that this song will feature there — I’m happy today to host the premiere of “Space is Forever,” which you’ll find on the ol’ Bandcamp embed below, followed by a few words from Blurton about the track and a couple Ontario live dates.

I hope you enjoy:

Ian Blurton on “Space is Forever”:

The song is about staring into the endless infinity of space and trying to find light in its darkness. It’s about days becoming nights and nights becoming days and the sun and moon leading us through them. It’s about pondering the planetary phases of the solar system and coming to the realization that the future is now.

Ian Blurton’s Future Now upcoming live shows:
Sat Jan 19 Toronto at The Horseshoe Tavern – Biblical, Whoop-Szo, IBFN
Sat Feb 2 Hamilton at This Ain’t Hollywood – Not Of, IBFN, Mount Cyanide

Future Now (the band) has been put together to play shows in support of Ian’s upcoming solo record (Signals Through The Flames, due out in May) and two pre-LP tracks of which Space is Forever is one. They consist of Toronto heavy hitters Glenn Milchem on drums (Holy Fuck/Starvin’ Hungry), Anna Ruddick on bass (Randy Bachman) and Aaron Goldstein on flying V (Daniel Romano) backing Ian, a 35+ year veteran of the Toronto music scene as a musician and producer (Cursed, Tricky Woo, Blood Ceremony).

Ian Blurton on Twitter

Ian Blurton on Bandcamp

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Gypsy Chief Goliath Premiere “Stranger Desires” Lyric Video; Masters of Space and Time out Feb. 22

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Gypsy Chief Goliath (photo by Syx Langemann)

When one thinks of Gypsy Chief Goliath, one thinks of Al ‘Yeti’ Bones, and when one thinks of Al ‘Yeti’ Bones, one thinks of burl. Across two decades of work in bands like Mister BonesThe Georgian SkullThe Mighty Nimbus and, briefly, Serpents of SecrecyBones has been the dude bringing the dudeliness to maximum burl factor. And yet, in “Stranger Desires” from Gypsy Chief Goliath‘s fourth album, Masters of Space and Time — due out Feb. 22 on Kozmik Artifactz — he takes a more melodic approach rather than bellowing out with the gruffness he’s shown in the past. A softer side? Not really with those riffs behind him, but what the band are doing with “Stranger Desires” is taking on more of a classic heavy rock sound than they’ve had in the past — even 2016’s Citizens of Nowhere (review here) kept up the thread — and as one can hear in the track below, it suits them well.

Of course, with six dudes listed in the lineup — curiously, only five appear in the photo above; an invisible keyboardist would also be a nod to classic heavy rock — as guitarists Dustin Black and John Serio, bassist Darren Brush, drummer Adam Saitti and key-specialist Mark Calcott join Bones in this revamped mission, it’s not just about the guitarist/vocalist positioned in the center of the stage. Gypsy Chief Goliath seem to be making this semi-departure as a group. On “Stranger Desires,” with organ running alongside the guitar, they tap into proto-metal in style while keeping to a modernist impact in terms of the production, and ’70s rock and ’80s metal collide with a fervent rhythmic push through a chorus that edges close to poppy in its affect. Make your way through the song two or three times and you’re going to start to hear some of the depth to it. The first listen? All about the change. The second? All about the hook. But one or two more and you start to hear weird things going on that are both exciting and new for the band.

I haven’t heard all of Masters of Space and Time, just this track, so I can’t comment on how well it might showcase the album as a whole, but Bones says in the quote below it’s a “fitting introduction,” so it may well be that this evolution is playing out across the entire offering. If so, right on. It certainly works here.

Please find “Stranger Desires” premiering in the lyric video below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

And please enjoy:

Gypsy Chief Goliath, “Stranger Desires” lyric video premiere

GYPSY CHIEF GOLIATH’s Al Yeti Bones offers of the single, “’Stranger Desires’ is a tune about strange times. Simple. Lyrically, without getting political, because that is not my forte, it’s just to be interpreted loosely as weird times we live in, and that’s it. What we seem to appreciate on a global scale in terms of needs; entertainment and mainstream media and how the two have been cross-pollinated to unglue a lot of information and dirty the lines between fact and fiction. Realistically speaking I guess it’s always been this way. Nothing is new there. The lyrics are vague regarding specific topics, as I would hate to offend anyone, as I’m Canadian and too nice of a guy. But the tune itself, is the first thing we’ve put out in a few years and I felt this would be a fitting introduction to the new album. It’s different than previous work, but I hope people dig it! Crank it!”

Kozmik Artifactz will release Masters Of Space And Time on LP, CD, and all digital services worldwide on February 22nd.

GYPSY CHIEF GOLIATH Live:

1/12/2019 Call The Office – London, ON w/ White Swan
1/25/2019 Dominion House – Windsor, ON
3/02/2019 Willie Johns Big Easy – Niagara Falls, ON
3/16/2019 Dominion House – Windsor, ON *record release show

GYPSY CHIEF GOLIATH:
Al Yeti Bones – vocals, guitars
Adam Saitti – drums
Darren Brush – bass
Dustin Black – guitars
John Serio – guitars
Mark Calcott – keyboards

Gypsy Chief Goliath website

Gypsy Chief Goliath on Thee Facebooks

Gypsy Chief Goliath on Instagram

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Twitter

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

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Rough Spells Sign to DHU Records; Debut Album out This Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

DHU Records has announced the pickup of Toronto-based cultists Rough Spells, who issued their debut EP, Modern Kicks for the Solitary Witch — please tell me they got the title out of an alternative-lifestyle shoe catalog that was trying to be hip; even if it’s not true and I’m sure it isn’t, please just let me believe it — last summer. Tapes were pressed just last month through Hoove Child Records, and DHU will present the as-yet-untitled long-player sometime before the end of 2019, which is pretty much now. I like the fact that the signing was the result of an Instagram comment and the mysterious interference of a dude named Reggie (please also let me believe it was Reggie Jackson; I’ve got a whole narrative going here), and it seems like all manner of witchly doom is set to unfold, so cool by me. I’ll admit their signing is the first I’m hearing of the band, so I look forward to digging in.

If you’re in a similar situation, you can check out the EP at the bottom of this post, courtesy of the band’s Bandcamp. The announcement came, of course, from the PR wire:

rough spells

DHU Records signs Rough Spells to release debut full length in 2019

DHU Records is thrilled to announce the signing of Toronto, Canada’s Dysfunctional/Doom outfit Rough Spells!

When in the summer of 2018 DHU Records first was introduced to Rough Spells via a comment on Instagram, a spell was cast and the stars started to align.

A man by the name of Reggie, who is an acquaintance of the band, sent DHU a message informing he’ll be in Amsterdam for a week and would love for us to hear this record nobody had yet heard of outside of Canadian borders.

With only 2 songs available on Soundcloud and a 6 song LP that was in existence but only sold locally, we thought it wise to spread this outstanding classic to the world through the vinyl community, and so it did, like wildfire!

Since then they opened a Facebook account, put their record titled “Modern Kicks for the Solitary Witch” up on Bandcamp and Spotify so listeners can now fully enjoy these 6 powerful incantations and at DHU we are over the top excited to be working with them!

DHU Records will release Rough Spells as of yet untitled Debut Full Length in 2019 on Limited Edition vinyl

STAY DOOMED STAY HEAVY

Rough Spells:
Sarena Sairan: Vocals/Guitar
Maija Martin: Guitar/Vocals
Dave Lucas: Bass
Tobey Black: Drums

https://www.facebook.com/Rough-Spells-441982039657307/
https://www.instagram.com/roughspells/
https://roughspells.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://twitter.com/dhu_records
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Rough Spells, Modern Kicks for the Solitary Witch (2018)

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Review & Track Premiere: Sundecay, Gale

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sundecay gale

[Click play above to stream “Gales” from Sundecay’s new EP, Gale. Vinyl is out Nov. 30.]

It’s an old debate, EP vs. LP. Where the line stops between a short release and a full-length. I take my cues from bands, and Sundecay have made it clear that their new self-released four-songer, Gale, is an EP. But I don’t necessarily agree. At half an hour long, it’s right on the border of one side or the other, but the key factor for me is the way the Toronto DIY five-piece arrange the songs themselves to set up a clear flow from opener “Heavy Motions” through the 11-minute closer “The Land that Never Thaws.” Gale breaks roughly even into two vinyl sides — which is fortunate, because they’ve pressed it up as a 12″ in limited numbers, gold-embossed front lettering, etc. — of two songs apiece, and especially in physical form, there’s no substance lacking that one would say it isn’t an impressive debut album.

Does it ultimately matter? Probably not, and it could well be that Sundecay will next year put out a full-length that’s a 70-minute 2LP and show themselves as thinking of an album as a completely different entity — I don’t know that that’s going to happen, I’m just positing a hypothetical — but the bottom line either way is that Gale presents a strong front-to-back fluidity amid its burly double-guitar riffs, spacious vocal echoes and largesse of groove to ignite the argument.

With Mark Chandler and Brian Scott (the latter also cover art) on guitar, Derek Hoffman as bassist, engineer and mixer, Julian Vardy on drums and Rich Pauptit on vocals, Sundecay bring together “Heavy Motions,” “Gales,” “From Corners” and “The Land that Never Thaws” with a firm sense of aesthetic, capturing some of the marauding sensibility of mid-period High on Fire but played at maybe two-thirds speed, so that the battle axe of riffs is swinging, but kind of in slow motion. Tempo shifts and moments of ambience like those that open “Heavy Motions” or appear in the second half of “The Land that Never Thaws” suit the band well, but of course the sheer level of impact is a major consideration in what they do.

And their work hits hard. “From Corners” is the shortest cut on the EP at 3:57, pairing smoothly with the closer on side B, and it has an almost classic doom approach to its swaggering groove, making it all the more understandable where they’re coming from in touting a Pentagram/proto-metal influence, but someone in this band listens to or listened to earlier Mastodon, and the effect of that style of weighted, almost-angular chugging tension is present in the guitar as well as the dreary atmospheres surrounding. It’s a fitting answer to the echoing beardo-burl of Pauptit‘s vocals, which seem to call up in “Heavy Motions” from beneath the rolling nod in a way that’s both headphone-worthy and calling for max-volume presentation, so, you know, watch your eardrums.

sundecay gale vinyl

If nothing else, “Heavy Motions” lives up to its name, moving from its gradual start into a melodic interplay of guitar for the verse before seeming to grow thicker as it progresses through the midsection and plods into a drum-dropout before the five-minute mark, only to resume the fervent march in apex fashion as the ending, which concludes in a long fade bringing about the foreboding open of “Gales,” the guitars evoking a bluster of wind from the outset that seems to blow in multiple directions. Like “Heavy Motions” before, the opening is gradual, but does much to establish the feel of the song itself, and when the drums and bass kick in at full-tone, there’s a feeling of arrival.

A more driven push takes hold before two minutes in with a faster meter and some of that crunching angularity brought forward in the guitar at the central position. They wind their way into a slowdown in the middle third but hold to it for a while, and make it unclear at first if they’l even go back at all to the chug from whence they came. When they do, it’s with about a minute left, and they run through the verse one more time before finishing out with a showcase of symmetry that seems all the more relevant for ending the first half of the record.

The relatively brief “From Corners” follows and plays a crucial role not only in offsetting “The Land that Never Thaws” still to come, but in allowing the band to expand the context of the album — (coughs loudly) — overall, with a departure from the methods of the two prior tracks. “From Corners” is inherently more straightforward in its structure, and while it remains tonally and rhythmically consistent with what surrounds, Sundecay use it to efficiently demonstrate a malleable methodology on the whole.

Their 2014 debut, Bodies at the Frontier, had a similar construction to its songs, if swapped in side A and B, but the band’s growth in sound is palpable and it’s hard to argue against closing with “The Land that Never Thaws,” which drops its title-line in the first verse and brings its slower chug to bear along with a markedly epic feel underscored by the lumber of the drumming at its root. It’s not the first time the band have gone marching, but they do it well and with a particularly downtrodden flare in “The Land that Never Thaws,” and as that gives way to the stretch of guitar, bass and vocals alone, the nigh-goth pastoralism is one more fascinating turn that makes the surge that begins after nine minutes in even more of a crescendo. Pauptit‘s vocals come to the fore of the mix with surrounding wails of guitar and plod of bass and drums, and the guitars cap in chugging fashion on a fade to mirror that of “Heavy Motions.”

Whether one considers Gale an EP or an LP, that symmetry is essential to the progressive impression the band makes on the whole. It may well be that this collection is just a sampling of their intent toward larger- and longer-form works to come. If so, fine. But the adage of “it’s just an EP” doesn’t really apply to the formidable presence Sundecay establish or the swath of heavy styles they seem to so naturally make their own in this material.

Sundecay on Bandcamp

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Sons of Otis to Release Live in Den Bosch LP Nov. 15

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

sons of otis

Science has proven time and again the in depth equation that any new Sons of Otis is good Sons of Otis. If we see the long-running Toronto ultra-stoners as object A, then we can truly posit that A to the power of n equals G times infinity. It all looks like this:

An = Gi

You can’t argue with the math.

Totem Cat Records last week announced it would offer a previously-tour-only compilation from Bongzilla and said at the time there would be another announcement following shortly. Live at Den Bosch will be limited to 300 LP copies — if they’re not already gone on preorders, certainly they will be soon — and is a one-time pressing of Sons of Otis playing live in the Netherlands in 2011. Again, the mere fact of its existence is a positive, and whether you manage to snag a copy or not, you should take heart in knowing that it’s out there.

Of course, the band’s last studio outing was 2012’s Seismic (review here) on Small Stone, and as they hit Europe this past summer playing Hellfest and more, they also noted that a new album was in the works. I think we already know how the numbers play out on that issue.

The band passed the 25-year mark in 2017, and 2019 would be seven years since Seismic, so if you believe in due, they’re due. But one way or the other you’ll probably want to chase this down if you can. There are two versions up for preorder now through the label, with the official release slated for Nov. 15:

sons of otis live in den bosch

[NEW RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT] Sons of Otis – Live In Den Bosch

Live recording from 2011 in The Netherlands. One-time pressing of only 300 vinyl.

TRACKLIST :
1 – I’m Gone
2 – Bad Man
3 – Lost Soul
4 – Haters
5 – Cosmic Jam
6 – Far From Fine

Preorders start October 30. Official release on November 15.

Cover art by Flog Diver | Illustration & Design

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Sons of Otis, Live at Hellfest 2018

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The White Swan Premiere “Inamorato”;Touch Taste Destroy EP out Sept. 7

Posted in audiObelisk on August 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the white swan

Based out of London, Ontario, spacious-riffing trio The White Swan will have upon the Sept. 7 arrival of their three-songer, Touch Taste Destroy, released three EPs in the last three years. The prior two, 2016’s Anubis and 2017’s The White (sans “swan”), were recorded by Alastair Sims and featured original cuts — a rolling reinterpretation on the first of Wings‘ “Jet” notwithstanding — of thick-toned, nodding modern stoner doom, hit hard, but still unfolding with an overarching sense of patience and melody. A song like “North Carolina” from “The White,” or the previously unveiled title-track of Touch Taste Destroy create a decided murk reminiscent of earlier Windhand, but distinguished particularly on the latter by a current of keyboards and a fluidity of pace that draws beyond the easy trap of doomly confines.

It’s a relatively familiar breadth of sound more than ably conjured, and “Inamorato” — the Italian-language title referring to a male lover — is the closing track on Touch Taste Destroy following, perhaps suitably enough, “Pelvic Sorcery.” the white swan touch taste destroyWhile I haven’t heard that track — and really, only fools don’t want to hear a song with such a name — “Inamorato” and “Touch Taste Destroy” give a sense that the new EP is picking up perhaps more noisily where the others left off. The White Swan, which is comprised of Mercedes Lander on guitar, vocals, keys and drums, Kira Longeuay on bass and Shane Jeffers on guitar, have their sonic path laid out before them and seem to be steadily pressing forward along it, progressing each time out while sticking to the core thickness and melodic resonance that would seem to be their foundation.

If Lander‘s name rings familiar, it might be due to her 20-plus-year (god I’m old) tenure in metallers Kittie. Even given that band’s shift from nü-metal stylizations to more scouring fare, The White Swan are a marked turn in genre for Lander, but there’s no arguing with results. I’ll admit that as I’ve never been a fan of her other outfit, I was hesitant to check out the track being premiered below, and if you find yourself feeling similarly, I can only offer my lack of regret as having done so as encouragement. The pedigree is an interesting bit of context, but ultimately has little bearing on the sound itself, which feels bent on developing its own identity.

The White Swan have a quick Midwestern run booked for next month and shows in Ontario and Quebec surrounding. Give “Inamorato” a fair shot and see what you think.

And please enjoy:

The White Swan, “Inamorato” official track premiere

Canadian doom/sludge trio The White Swan, which features KITTIE’s Mercedes Landers on vocals, will be releasing their latest EP, “Touch Taste Destroy”, on September 7.

Following up from their previous EP’s, 2017’s ‘The White” and 2016’s “Anubis,” “Touch Taste Destroy” spans over three tracks recorded, mixed and mastered at Noble Street Studios in Toronto, ON with acclaimed engineer Alastair Sims (Rush, Three Days Grace).

THE WHITE SWAN bleeds warm ’70s flavoured Black Sabbath doom mixed with classic ’90s grunge, creating a trademark sound within the space of only three songs. Backed by Kira Longeuay (bass) and Shane Jeffers (guitars), Lander’s previously unknown vision for her music has taken on a life of its own and has been met with praise by the open-minded legions of the rock and metal community.

Tracklisting:
1. Touch Taste Destroy
2. Pelvic Sorcery
3. Inamorato

Upcoming shows!
8/31 Windsor, ON – Phog Bar
9/1 Newmarket ON – The Gray Goat
9/5 Champaign, IL – Blips & Chitz (w/ StagHorn & Close The Hatch)
9/6 Dayton, OH – Blind Bob’s (w/ Close The Hatch)
9/7 Decatur, AL – The Jam Shop (w/ Close The Hatch & I Am The Law)
9/8 Murfreesboro, TN – Autograph Rehearsal Studio (w/ Close The Hatch & I Am The Law)
9/29 Montreal, QC – Piranha Bar
10/20 London ON – 765

The White Swan is:  
Mercedes Lander – drums, vocals, keyboards, guitar  
Shane Jeffers – guitar  
Kira Longeuay – bass  

The White Swan website

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The White Swan on Instagram

The White Swan on Bandcamp

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