Friday Full-Length: YOB, The Great Cessation

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

YOB, The Great Cessation (2009)

From their 2002 12th Records debut, Elaborations of Carbon, onward, each YOB album has established its own personality, but I don’t think there’s any question 2009’s The Great Cessation (review here) is the angriest of the seven offered to-date. Released as the first of two outings for Profound Lore Records — the other, Atma (review here), followed in 2011 — it marked the return of the groundbreaking Eugene, Oregon, cosmic doomers, who had split after the release of what was then their pinnacle achievement, The Unreal Never Lived (discussed here), was released in 2005.

The story behind that stretch of time has been told and retold, but the tumult plays directly into The Great Cessation‘s atmosphere and five tracks. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt continued to work with Metal Blade Records, who had put out The Unreal Never Lived and the preceding 2004 full-length, The Illusion of Motion, as he formed the new project Middian and released a debut album therefrom in 2007 titled Age EternalMiddian, who went so far as to tour to support that record — something that YOB was really only starting to do when they called it quits in ’06 — wound up getting sued by an unsigned Wisconsin-based outfit called Midian who had trademarked the name and apparently decided the world wasn’t big enough for more than one band to use it despite the different spelling, and that basically brought the project to an end. Age Eternal, which invariably had some commonalities with YOB‘s work, languished, and though there was a brief time where Middian had changed their name to Age Eternal and it looked like they might press forward, by 2008, Scheidt had reformed YOB with drummer Travis Foster and new bassist Aaron Rieseberg, and work had begun on The Great Cessation, which somewhat ironically given its title, was nothing if not a new beginning for them as a group.

It was also, apparently, the receiving vessel for all the frustration that was born of this troubled time. While Catharsis had cut its teeth in a formative, slow-motion psychedelic doom, The Illusion of Motion made its mark with the perennially satisfying roll of “Ball of Molten Lead,” and The Unreal Never Lived found a place to dwell between sonic spiritualism and crushing heft, The Great Cessation was fueled by a rawer impulse. Produced by Sanford Parker, its sound was crisp and full, but the impact was near-immediate with opening track “Burning the Altar,” and what unfolded from then on would only become more scathing until arriving at its final resolution in the closing 20-minute title cut. To wit, the lurch forward that begins “Burning the Altar,” as YOB seem to reel back and attempt to smother the listener with the weight of the opening riff, or the explosive and caustic turns of the subsequent “The Lie that is Sin,” which crashes and rumbles and seethes even in its quietest stretches, finding Scheidt switching between cleaner vocals and harsh screams amid a final linear build that doesn’t so much offer payoff as it tightens until it can go no further and collapses on itself. “Burning the Altar,” which even eight years later commands nothing less than maximum volume at all times, had something of an instrumental hook, but YOB would pull the rug out from under it with “The Lie that is Sin,” and “Silence of Heaven” and “Breathing from the Shallows” only continued the descent into the darkest territory YOB had pursued up to that time, and maybe the darkest they’ve ever pursued, period.

Among those, particularly “Silence of Heaven.” Don’t get me wrong, “The Lie that is Sin” has just as much crunch as soar, and “Breathing from the Shallows” is second to none in terms of both growl and the critique of lines like “Where are you going with your greed” and “Ambition like cancer,” but if there’s a single representation on The Great Cessation of the raw anger running through the band at the time, it’s the centerpiece. It barely has lyrics, and seems to dedicate the energy that would otherwise go into crafting them into tearing its own flesh off. Furious and, for that, a little sad when taken in relation to the spiritualism or at least metaphysical searching Scheidt and YOB have put at the center of the band’s aesthetic all along, it feels right to call it a moment of pure catharsis despite having nothing to do with that album of the same name. Even when one goes back and listens to “Burning the Altar” or “The Lie that is Sin” before it, the rage of “Silence of Heaven” seems to radiate in all directions, affecting the songs before it as well as those after.

And yet, when The Great Cessation arrives at the quiet opening guitar line of its 20-minute closing title-track, isn’t there some sense of resolution? Isn’t that YOB willing itself — themselves — to press forward from that very anger and get back to the things that truly matter, court costs, legalese and other concerns be damned? In the tradition of “Catharsis,” “The Illusion of Motion” and “The Unreal Never Lived” — each an extended closing title-cut for the record on which it appeared — “The Great Cessation” provided YOB a landing point for the expression of The Great Cessation as a whole, but in its more melodic and serene atmosphere, that landing point also serves to answer “Silence of Heaven”‘s clenched fist with a release of tension. An exhale. Sure, the second half moves into some growling and lumbering riffs, and Rieseberg‘s bass is a thickening presence as always amid Foster‘s popping snare that does so much across the album’s 62 minutes to hold it all together, and the song devolves into noise as it makes its way out, but in comparison, even that seems reassuring compared to the blisters raised earlier. After such chaos, even the final howls of Scheidt‘s guitar — almost like a siren as the bass and drums fade out — are a sign of YOB leaving that anger behind. Purged.

They would indeed keep moving forward. The Great Cessation was my album of the year in 2009 (also the first year this site was up), and Atma followed suit in 2011, but YOB would hit their to-date transcendental peak with 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here). Also their debut on Neurot Recordings, it was a record — yes, the top one released that year — that looked inward as much as outward, to the self and the universe surrounding, and in addition to being YOB‘s most sonically progressive songwriting, it seems in hindsight to have taken the will to put its emotions brazenly at the forefront from The Great Cessation, and thereby wind up in a much different place in terms of representing YOB as people and as a group.

I’ve said on multiple occasions that YOB are the best band of their generation, and I stand by that assessment completely. They’re said to have a follow-up to Clearing the Path to Ascend in the works, which I imagine was delayed somewhat owing to recent health issues on Scheidt‘s part (he had surgery multiple times over but seems to be doing well, which is fortunate; all the best to him of course), and seems a likely candidate for most anticipated LP of 2018. Whenever it arrives, rest assured, it will be welcome. In the interim and despite its representing such a dark period of renewal for the band, I hope you enjoy revisiting The Great Cessation.

Thanks for reading and listening.

Kind of a weird week around here, I guess. I had company in town into Tuesday morning, so Monday was kind of a blur, yet in terms of response, it was easily the biggest day for posts. The rest of the week was pretty quiet, relatively speaking, including some stuff that I was hoping would catch more eyes. I recognize not everything is going to reach as many people as Uncle Acid reissuing their first record, but still. A few killer premieres — Blaak Heat, Old Man Wizard, The Quill — and reviews — Paradise Lost, Mindkult — that are well worth a look if you get there. If not, thanks at least for reading this sentence.

In Connecticut today, New Jersey tomorrow and back to Massachusetts on Sunday, so it’s going to be a busy weekend, but I have already and will continue to see family as a part of that process, so I’m looking forward to it. Some pretty cool stuff in store for next week though. Might do a surprise poll if I can bother Slevin to help me put it together over the next day or two, so keep an eye out for that, but there’s plenty besides even if that doesn’t shake out.

Here are the notes, subject to change as always:

Mon.: Blues Funeral track premiere/album review; news on End Hip End It, Attalla and more.
Tue.: Steak video premiere/overdue album review; maybe that poll.
Wed.: Red Mountains track premiere/review; Six Dumb Questions with Cortez.
Thu.: Sundrifter track premiere.
Fri.: Stinkeye review.

These posts have gotten longer and longer lately — writing about YOB is a sure way for me to not at all cure that — but here’s a nice moment to leave you with before I sign off for the weekend:

While waiting to go to a haircut appointment late yesterday afternoon, The Patient Mrs. and I sat outside at a cafe here in CT which we frequent when we’re here. The place was getting ready to close up but there were a couple people sitting at the outside tables and they weren’t chasing anyone away or anything. They just kind of leave them there. The sun was shining and we sat there looking at a clothing rack outside the little for-middle-aged-ladies boutique next door at a black and white shirt with a rose on it and a bird or something and I started cracking wise about buying it and being goth with its wide neck and wearing it when I get hangry and sad before meals. “Aww, what’s the matter, pookie? Did your eating disorder make you goth? Did you have to put on your sad goth shirt because of it?”

My wife, about two months away from giving birth to what will be our first and only child, laughing loud enough so that the people at other tables looked over to see what was going on. My favorite sound in the world. Her amazing laugh. Her wonderful face. I had to stop for a minute to realize how lucky I am to be where I am in my life. I’m 35 years old, unemployed, just waiting to take up the stay-at-home-dad mantle, but it was such an incredible feeling of warmth and beauty in her laugh that I damn near wept behind my sunglasses. How lucky I am. How stupidly, stupidly unworthy I am of the last 19-plus years with her. How much I’m looking forward to the terrific and terrifying adventures ahead and to facing them together. It was such a simple thing, and that moment didn’t last — had to go get that haircut, after all — but if I lived for a thousand years, I’d hope to never forget it.

Thanks again for reading, and have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Menin Announce Lord of Pain EP Due Sept. 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

menin

The impression made by the blown-out tone of Menin‘s Lord of Pain is immediate, resonant and righteous. Taking themes from sci-fi across its included tracks — one of which is instrumental and another a vinyl-exclusive bonus — the Doom Stew Records offering is out Sept. 15 and is the first EP release from the doubly-drummed (you can hear it on “Logrus”) Portland, Oregon, four-piece. Caked in distorted filth to match their bass-driven heft, Menin stomp their way through the title-track en route to the longer and ultimately more atmospheric “Logrus” before rolling out an effective linear build across “Mercer.”

All told, it’s a quick 22 minutes-plus that feels formative in its construction but carries forth a raw ambience to go with its nastiest stretches. It just so happens that the bonus track, “Entheogen,” is streaming at the bottom of this post, if you’d like to get introduced.

From the PR wire:

menin lord of pain

Menin EP – Lord of Pain Sept 15th

Portland, Oregon’s favorite science fiction stoner doom outfit Menin is proud to announce its allegiance with San Francisco’s Doom Stew Records to release the EP Lord of Pain on CD and 12″ vinyl September 15th.

Menin’s power has rarely been glimpsed outside of the Pacific Northwest until now. Two drummers, downtuned guitar, and towering bass bring about an involuntary slow-headbang with interlocking polyrhythmic riffs. The unhinged vocals of guitarist Chris Gray serve to further disorient and disturb the listener.

Lord of Pain launches Menin’s unrelenting heaviness into the farthest corners of the universe for all but the deafest of heshers to behold. Each track explores the power and wrath of creator/destroyer gods from works of science fiction and fantasy. Lord of Pain’s title track is named for the Shrike from Dan Simmons’s Hyperion Cantos: a 10-foot-tall, four-armed, time-traveling monster made of knives. Fellow science fiction fan and riff warrior Matt Stikker provides a horrifying illustration for the cover art, as he has done for the likes of Lord Dying, Drouth, and WVRM, among others.

Lord of Pain will be available on CD, digital download, and vinyl September 15th through Doom Stew Records. The 12″ vinyl also contains the previously-unavailable single Entheogen, an anthem to the sweet leaf.

Artist: Menin
Album: Lord of Pain
Label: Doom Stew Records
Release date: September 15th, 2017

Tracklist:
1. Lord of Pain (5:45)
2. Logrus (9:58)
3. Mercer (7:14)
4. Entheogen (5:52) (vinyl-only)

Menin is:
Chris Gray – Vocals / Guitar
Ken Neff – Bass
Devin Nowlin – Drums
Peter Schaller – Drums

http://facebook.com/meninpdx
https://www.menin666.com
https://menin.bandcamp.com
https://www.doomstew.com
https://www.facebook.com/doomstewrecords/

Menin, “Entheogen”

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Quarterly Review: Ecstatic Vision, Norska, Bison, Valborg, Obelyskkh, Earth Electric, Olde, Deaf Radio, Saturndust, Birnam Wood

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

It turns out that, yes indeed, I will be able to add another day to the Quarterly Review this coming Monday. Stoked on that. Means I’ll be trying to cram another 10 reviews into this coming weekend, but that’s not exactly a hardship as I see it, and the stuff I have picked out for it is, frankly, as much of a bonus for me as it could possibly be for anyone else, so yeah, look out for that. In the meantime, we wrap the Monday-to-Friday span of 50 records today with another swath of what’s basically me doing favors for my ears, and I hope as always for yours as well. Let’s dig in.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury

ecstatic-vision-raw-rock-fury

Hard touring and a blistering debut in 2015’s Sonic Praise (review here) quickly positioned Ecstatic Vision at the forefront of a Philadelphia-based mini-boom in heavy psych (see also: Ruby the Hatchet, Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlsome Bells, and so on), and their Relapse-issued follow-up, Raw Rock Fury, only delves further into unmitigated cosmic swirl and space-rocking crotchal thrust. The now-foursome keep a steady ground in percussion and low end even as guitar, sax, synth and echoing vocals seem to push ever more far-out, and across the record’s four tracks – variously broken up across two sides – the band continue to stake out their claim on the righteously psychedelic, be it in the all-go momentum building of “You Got it (Or You Don’t)” or the more drifting opening movement of closer “Twinkling Eye.” Shit is trippy, son. With the echoing-from-the-depths shouts of Doug Sabolik cutting through, there’s still an edge of Eastern Seaboard intensity to Ecstatic Vision, but that only seems to make Raw Rock Fury live up to its title all the more. Still lots of potential here, but it’ll be their third record that tells the tale of whether they can truly conquer space itself.

Ecstatic Vision on Thee Facebooks

Ecstatic Vision at Relapse Records website

 

Norska, Too Many Winters

norska-too-many-winters

Issued through Brutal Panda, Too Many Winters is the second full-length from Portland five-piece Norska, and its six tracks/48 minutes would seem to pick up where Rwake left off in presenting a progressive vision of what might be called post-sludge. Following an engaging 2011 self-titled debut, songs like the title-track and “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” churn and careen through Sourvein-style abrasion, vaguely Neurosis-style nod and, in the case of the latter or closer “Fire Patience Backbone,” soundscaping minimalism that, in the finale, is bookended by some of the record’s most intense push following opener “Samhain” and the subsequent “Eostre.” That salvo starts Too Many Winters with a deceptive amount of thrust, but even there atmosphere is central as it is to the outing as a whole, and a penultimate interlude in the 2:22 “Wave of Regrets” does well to underscore the point before the fading-in initial onslaught of “Fire Patience Backbone.” Having Aaron Rieseberg of YOB in the lineup with Jim Lowder, Dustin Rieseberg, Rob Shaffer and Jason Oswald no doubt draws eyes their way, but Norska’s sonic persona is distinct, immersive and individualized enough to stand on its own well beyond that pedigree.

Norska on Thee Facebooks

Norska at Brutal Panda Records website

 

Bison, You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient

bison-you-are-not-the-ocean-you-are-the-patient

Think about the two choices. You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient. Isn’t it the difference between something acting – i.e., an object – and something acted upon – i.e., a subject? As British Columbian heavy rockers Bison return after half a decade via Pelagic Records, their fourth album seems to find them trying to push beyond genre lines into a broader scope. “Until the Earth is Empty,” “Drunkard,” “Anti War” and “Raiigin” still have plenty of thrust, but the mood here is darker even than 2012’s Lovelessness found the four-piece, and “Tantrum” and closer “The Water Becomes Fire” bring out a more methodical take. It’s been 10 years since Bison issued their debut Earthbound EP and signed to Metal Blade for 2008’s Quiet Earth, and the pre-Red Fang party-ready heavy rock of those early works is long gone – one smiles to remember “These are My Dress Clothes” in the context of noise-rocking centerpiece “Kenopsia” here, the title of which refers to the emptiness of a formerly occupied space – but if the choice Bison are making is to place themselves on one side or the other of the subject/object divide, they prove to be way more ocean than patient in these songs.

Bison on Thee Facebooks

Bison at Pelagic Records website

 

Valborg, Endstrand

valborg-endstrand

With its churning, swirling waves of cosmic death, one almost expects Valborg’s Endstrand (on Lupus Lounge/Prophecy Productions) to be more self-indulgent than it is, but one of the German trio’s greatest assets across the 13-track/44-minute span of their sixth album is its immediacy. The longest song, “Stossfront,” doesn’t touch five minutes, and from the 2:14 opener “Jagen” onward, Valborg reenvision punk rock as a monstrous, consuming beast on songs like “Blut am Eisen,” “Beerdigungsmaschine,” “Alter,” “Atompetze” and closer “Exodus,” all the while meting put punishment after punishment of memorable post-industrial riffing on “Orbitalwaffe,” the crashing “Ave Maria” and the noise-soaked penultimate “Strahlung,” foreboding creeper atmospherics on “Bunkerluft” and “Geisterwürde,” and landmark, perfectly-paced chug on “Plasmabrand.” Extreme in its intent and impact, Endstrand brings rare clarity to an anti-genre vision of brutality as an art form, and at any given moment, its militaristic threat feels real, sincere and like an appropriate and righteous comment on the terrors of our age. Fucking a.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Valborg at Prophecy Productions website

 

Obelyskkh, The Providence

obelyskkh-the-providence

Probably fair to call the current status of German post-doomers Obelyskkh in flux following the departure of guitarist Stuart West, but the band has said they’ll keep going and their fourth album, The Providence (on Exile on Mainstream) finds them capping one stage of their tenure with a decidedly forward-looking perspective. Its six-song/56-minute run borders on unmanageable, but that’s clearly the intent, and an air of proggy weirdness infects The Providence from the midsection of its opening title-track onward as the band – West, guitarist/vocalist Woitek Broslowski, bassist Seb Fischer and drummer Steve Paradise – tackle King Crimson rhythmic nuance en route to an effects-swirling vision of Lovecraftian doomadelia and massive roll. Cuts like “Raving Ones” and 13-minute side B leadoff “NYX” play out with a similarly deceptive multifaceted vibe, and by the time the penultimate “Aeons of Iconoclasm” bursts outward from its first half’s spacious minimalism into all-out High on Fire thrust ahead of the distortion-soaked churn of closer “Marzanna” – which ends, appropriately, with laughter topping residual effects noise – Obelyskkh make it abundantly clear anything goes. The most impressive aspect of The Providence is that Obelyskkh manage to control all this crunching chaos, and one hopes that as they continue forward, they’ll hold firm to that underlying consciousness.

Obelyskkh on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Earth Electric, Vol. 1: Solar

earth-electric-vol-1-solar

Former Mayhem/Aura Noir guitarist Rune “Blasphemer” Ericksen leads breadth-minded Portuguese four-piece Earth Electric, and their devil-in-the-details Season of Mist debut, Vol. 1: Solar, runs a prog-metal gamut across a tightly-woven nine tracks and 35 minutes, Ericksen’s vocals and those of Carmen Susana Simões (Moonspell, ex-Ava Inferi) intertwine fluidly at the forefront of sharply angular riffing and rhythmic turns from bassist Alexandre Ribeiro and drummer Ricardo Martins. The organ-laced push of “Meditate Meditate” and “Solar” and the keyboard flourish of “Earthrise” (contributed by Dan Knight) draw as much from classic rock as metal, but the brew Earth Electric crafts from them is potent and very much the band’s own. “The Great Vast” and the shorter “Set Sail (Towards the Sun)” set up a direct flow into the title cut, and as one returns to Earth Electric for repeat listens, the actual scope of the album and the potential for how the band might continue to develop are likewise expansive, despite its many pulls into torrents of head-down riffing. Almost intimidating in its refusal to bow to genre.

Earth Electric on Thee Facebooks

Earth Electric at Season of Mist website

 

Olde, Temple

olde-temple

After debuting in 2014 with I (review here), Toronto’s Olde return via STB Records with Temple, proffering sludge-via-doom vibes and a center of weighted tonality around which the rest of their aesthetic would seem to be built, vocalist Doug McLarty’s throaty growls alternately cutting through and buried by the riffs of guitarists Greg Dawson (also production) and Chris “Hippy” Hughes, the bass of Cory McCallum and the rolling crashes of drummer Ryan Aubin (also of Sons of Otis) on tightly constructed pieces like “Now I See You” and the tempo-shifting “Centrifugal Disaster,” which reminds by its finish that sometimes all you need is nod. Olde have more to offer than just that, of course, as the plodding spaciousness of “The Ghost Narrative” and the lumbering “Maelstrom” demonstrate, but even in the turns between crush and more open spaces of the centerpiece title-track and the drifting post-heavy rock of closer “Castaway,” the underlying focus is on capital-‘h’ Heavy, and Olde wield it as only experts can.

Olde on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

 

Deaf Radio, Alarm

deaf radio alarm

Based in Athens and self-releasing their debut album, Alarm, in multiple vinyl editions, the four-piece of Panos Gklinos, Dimitris Sakellariou, Antonis Mantakas and George Diathesopoulos – collectively known as Deaf Radio – make no bones about operating in the post-Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures sphere of heavy rock. To their credit, the songwriting throughout “Aggravation,” “Vultures and Killers” and the careening “Revolving Doors” lives up to that standard, and though even the later “Oceanic Feeling” seems to be informed by the methods of Josh Homme, there’s a melodic identity there that belongs more to Deaf Radio as well, and keeping Alarm in mind as their first long-player, it’s that identity that one hopes the band will continue to develop. Rounding out side B with the howling guitar and Rated R fuzz of the six-minute “…And We Just Pressed the Alarm Button,” Deaf Radio build to a suitable payoff for the nine-track outing and affirm the aesthetic foundation they’ve laid for themselves.

Deaf Radio on Thee Facebooks

Deaf Radio on Bandcamp

 

Saturndust, RLC

saturndust rlc

The further you go into Saturndust’s 58-minute second LP RLC, the more there is to find. At any given moment, the São Paulo, Brazil-based outfit can be playing to impulses ranging from proggy space rock, righteously doomed tonal heft, aggressive blackened thrust or spacious post-sludge – in one song. Over longform cuts like “Negative-Parallel Dimensional,” “RLC,” “Time Lapse of Existence” and closer “Saturn 12.C,” the trio cast a wide-enough swath to be not quite genreless but genuinely multi-tiered and not necessarily as disjointed as one might expect in their feel, and though when they want to, they roll out massive, lumbering riffs, that’s only one tool in a full arsenal at their apparent disposal. What tie RLC together are the sure hands of guitarist/vocalist Felipe Dalam, bassist Guilherme Cabral and drummer Douglas Oliveira guiding it, so that when the galloping-triplet chug of “Time Lapse of Existence” hits, it works as much in contrast to the synth-loaded “Titan” preceding as in conjunction with it. Rather than summarize, “Saturn 12.C” pushes far out on a wash of Dalam’s keyboards before a wide-stomping apex, seeming to take Saturndust to their farthest point beyond the stratosphere yet. Safe travels and many happy returns.

Saturndust on Thee Facebooks

Saturndust on Bandcamp

 

Birnam Wood, Triumph of Death

birnam wood triumph of death

Massachusetts doomers Birnam Wood have two prior EPs under their collective belt in 2015’s Warlord and a 2014 self-titled, but the two-songer single Triumph of Death (kudos on the Hellhammer reference) is my first exposure to their blend of modern progressive metal melody and traditional doom. They roll out both in able fashion on the single’s uptempo opening title-track and follow with the BlackSabbath-“Black-Sabbath” sparse notemaking early in their own “Birnam Wood.” All told, Triumph of Death is only a little over nine minutes long, but it makes for an encouraging sampling of Birnam Wood’s wares all the same, and as Dylan Edwards, Adam McGrath, Shaun Anzalone and Matt Wagner shift into faster swing circa the eponymous tune’s solo-topped midpoint, they do so with a genuine sense of homage that does little to take away from the sense of individuality they’ve brought to the style even in this brief context. They call it stoner metal, and there’s something to that, but if we’re going on relative balance, Triumph of Death is more doom-stoner than stoner-doom, and it revels within that niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche sensibility.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

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A Stick and a Stone to Release The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost July 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

a stick and a stone

Portland-by-way-of-Philly post-doom outfit A Stick and a Stone will issue The Lost Art of Getting Lost on July 21 via Sentient Ruin and Cold Recordings (LP), Sentient Ruin and Breathe Plastic (CS) and Spirit House (CD). If you’re wondering what might cause so many different parties to line up behind pushing the release into the public sphere, consider yourself cordially invited to dig into the seven encompassing minutes of “Arrow” at the bottom of this post, which is both orchestral and emotionally affecting, finding perfect complement in the deep blue of the album cover and representing the richly atmospheric and creative approach on display throughout the record’s seven tracks. It’s dark and gorgeous and spacious and sad and all that stuff that reminds you that genre lines are made essentially to be transgressed.

Also, anyone who cites Carla Bozulich as an influence is okay by me. I’m just saying.

Sentient Ruin sent word of the release down the PR wire:

a-stick-and-a-stone-the-long-lost-art-of-getting-lost

A STICK AND A STONE: Oregon-Based Ethereal Doom Outfit Unveil New Album

This July Oregon’s A Stick And A Stone will release their brand new album The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost – a shimmering gem of experimental minimalistic doom that is set to wind back the hands of time to a time in which bands like OM, Earth, Boris, Orthodox and Goatsnake where redefining the lineaments of doom and post-rock.

A Stick And A Stone is led by vocalist and composer, Elliott Harvey. As a trans male with invisible disabilities, Harvey has learned that there is often more than what meets initial perception. Inhabiting a body between the thresholds of gender and ability has made him no stranger to liminality, shape shifting, and living between worlds. Consequently, he has developed a devotion to unveiling what exists beyond the easily detectable radar. This practice has carried over into his music, which is often described as ghostly, haunting, and ethereal.

Harvey started performing as a soloist in Philadelphia as a teenage castaway, and since then has expanded his project to include drummers, noise alchemists, and string players into the fold. In 2013, he met violist Myles Donovan (Disemballerina, Negative Queen, Ominous Cloud Ensemble) in Portland, OR. A city-born Philadelphian, the two realized their lives had been intricately intertwined long before meeting, and Donovan swiftly became the core collaborator of A Stick And A Stone. Their partnership has yielded music that is both earthly and transcendental – soundscapes of true intimistic prowess that are crushing and suffocating in their emotional intensity, and mesmerizing in their evocative force. With deep and touching lyrical content channeling themes of alienation, nature worship, mental illness, and disembodiment, and influences ranging from OM, Earth, Amber Asylum, Jarboe and Electric Wizard, to Bloody Panda and Noxagt, A Stick And A Stone brings together sludge-doom, post-rock, minimal folk, and avantgarde to conjure atmospheres of unparalleled beauty, darkness, and intensity.

On his third full-length album Elliott Harvey and viola player/“album co-conspirator” Myles Donovan explore new sludgy, tumultuous terrain while retaining the signature elements of ethereal harmonies, haunting vocals, and potent lyricism equated with Harvey’s previous work. The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost dives into the shadows of this age, upholding the power of resilience amidst times of uncertainty. A Stick And A Stone’s unusual style arises from blending paradoxical essences; on this album, gritty bass merges with elegant strings, rugged howls are echoed by graceful whispers, heavy drums are laced with ghostly soundscapes – to materialize in the end an unquestionable modern minimalistic doom masterpiece of our times.

With a release date set to July 21 2017, The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost, will see the light on cassette through Sentient Ruin (US) and Breathe Plastic (EU), while a CD version will surface through Spirit House. A vinyl LP version is also in the works through Sentient Ruin (US), and Cold Recordings (US). Pre-orders for the casette and digital versions are now live on our Bandcamp and on our store.

https://www.facebook.com/A-Stick-and-a-Stone-162036303838692/
https://astickandastone.bandcamp.com/
https://www.astickandastone.com/
http://sentientruin.com/
http://sentientruin.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SentientRuin/

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Review & Full Album Stream: Abronia, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

abronia-obsidian-visions-shadowed-lands

[Click play above to stream Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands by Abronia. Album is out June 26 on Water Wing Records. Tour dates below.]

It’s telling that Abronia‘s first album, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands, should open with such a strong sense of place. The leadoff track, which begins with a sparse minute-plus of atmospheric, prairie-vibed guitar before exploding into a cacophonous wash of noise, cymbal crashes, saxophone, etc., is called “The Great Divide.” Also known as the Continental Divide, its name derives from the point along the Rocky Mountains at which water flows either to the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. In the context of the Portland six-piece’s Water Wing Records debut, it could just as easily refer to the slashed duality of the title, that moment where the calmness erupts at the beginning, or the shift into spacious, swinging heavy Americana, folkadelia and rock that emerges therefrom.

But the important thing is there is a definite place, bound to the earth, that the opener positions the listener, since the core of the five-track/34-minute offering would seem likewise to be of and about the land. One finds this rooted in the use of a 1930s marching drum as a percussive focus throughout instead of a standard bass drum, as well as in the organic, direct-to-tape production through which the material is presented, having been tracked by Jason Powers (Moon Duo) at Type Foundry, and in the patient, methodical manner in which the ambience unfolds, creating a flow from the beginning of “The Great Divide” that is at once vividly present in its groove and seeking something ethereal or transcendent. Another great divide entirely, perhaps.

The band is comprised of vocalist/saxophonist Keelin Mayer (formerly of Eternal Tapestry), guitarist Benjamin Blake (also Young Hunter), guitarist/backing vocalist Eric Crespo (also Ghost to Falco), bassist Amir Amadi, Andrew Endres of Ohioan on lap steel guitar and James Shaver on the aforementioned marching drum and other percussive elements, and the stylistic trip on which they embark beginning with “The Great Divide” is significant. The opener is also the longest track at 8:36 (immediate points), and its instrumental fluidity carries the listener smoothly into the shimmering, sunshine-on-the-river melodica-topped folk of “Shala,” on which Mayer gradually makes her presence known vocally (it is a presence worth knowing) as she locks in with the melody of the guitar.

abronia

Here and across the following tracks, vocals will come and go with naturalist ease, adding to the earthy psychedelic impression of “The Great Divide” and giving the whole affair a front-to-back feel of willful meandering — the band seeming to head out in the woods and set themselves to ranging. They’ll do so throughout “Shala,” the centerpiece “Smoke Fingers,” the Jefferson Airplane-esque highlight “Glass Butte Retribution” and seven-minute closer “Waning Wand,” playing instrumentals off memorable, poetic verses handed down by Mayer with suitable command. Followers of Young Hunter will find some continuity with that band’s bouncing, plucked guitar notes via Blake‘s playing, but Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands is ultimately less gothic in its intent, and though there’s a tension to some of the craft following the blowup at the start, it’s not until the cymbal wash of “Glass Butte Retribution” and the payoff of “Waning Wand” that the album again finds itself pushing toward a noisy crescendo, and even the last is a quick one to end the finale.

Instead, for most of the duration, Abronia affect a meditative attitude, and concentrate on an exploratory feel within their tracks. That suits the space-jazz of “Smoke Fingers” well, which has a steadily nodding rhythm and some righteous interplay of sax and guitar, and the vast, open spirit of “Glass Butte Retribution,” which might be the most straightforward inclusion on Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands as regards the relative simplicity of its march, but still wants nothing for atmospherics despite a somewhat minimalist impression early that moves on a linear build to crashing cymbals and a surprising final scream from Mayer with an epilogue measure of guitar behind it. It doesn’t necessarily speak for the entirety of the record in terms of mood or sound, but “Glass Butte Retribution” makes a fitting ambient summary nonetheless, and with “Smoke Fingers” before and “Waning Wand” after it, side B of Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands proves no less a deep, headlong dive than did side A with “The Great Divide” and “Shala.”

That said, while one imagines vinyl release was a consideration in the album’s making, by the time the nuance guitar of “Waning Wand” starts as a bed for Mayer‘s first verse three minutes into the song — almost sounding like flourish of East Asian folk — it seems Abronia as much benefit from the nonstop immersion of a digital/CD structure in that once it starts, there’s no point of interruption to draw the audience away from what the band is doing. As to that, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands may well serve as a formative debut release from which Abronia will commence a sonic progression — they’ve certainly set themselves up for one — but there’s no question they establish themselves here as a cohesive unit of songwriters with a definite story to tell through their work. One hopes that as their journey continues forward, they hold onto the wandering sensibility that serves them so well here and feels so crucial in the crafting of their narrative of place and being.

Abronia on tour:
S –7/01 – Raymond, WA @ Thirst for Light Festival
R –7/27 – Portland, OR @ The Know
F – 7/28 – Arcata, CA @ Miniplex
S – 7/29 – Oakland, CA @ The Hole
S – 7/30 – San Francisco, CA @ Adobe Books
M – 7/31 – Oakland, CA @ The Nightlight
T – 8/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon
W – 8/02 – Yucca Valley (Joshua Tree ), CA @ Frontier Cafe
R – 8/03 – Fresno, CA @ Tioga Sequoia
F – 8/04 – Sacramento, CA @ Luna’s Cafe
S – 8/05 – Chico, CA @ Duffy’s

Abronia on Thee Facebooks

Abronia on Soundcloud

Water Wing Records webstore

Water Wing Records on Thee Facebooks

Water Wing Records on Bandcamp

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Holy Grove Working on New Album; Seek New Drummer

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Holy Grove made a soulful debut via Heavy Psych Sounds in 2016 with their self-titled full-length (review here), full of right-on riffs, belted-out hooks and weighted nodding groove. They’ve spent a good amount of time since on the road supporting it. They did the West Coast and the East, and ventured to Europe alongside Boston’s Gozu. They’ve been at HoverfestPsycho Las Vegas and more besides. For a band with one album and a prior live EP (review here) out, they’ve amassed a considerable CV.

In the process, vocalist Andrea Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs and bassist Gregg Emley have already worked with a few different drummers. Founder Craig Bradford played on the album, but by the time the record came out, he’d been replaced twice over, by Ryan Northrop (ex-Sons of Huns) and subsequently by Adam Jelsing. As they start to move forward and begin the process of putting together their second long-player — currently being written — Holy Grove once again find themselves in need of a percussionist.

As you can see below, they’re looking for a swing player — anytime someone mentions Ian Paice, yes, swing is the thing — who hits hard and can tour as well. As crowded a scene as Portland is, and as good a band as Holy Grove are, I can’t imagine it’ll take all that long for them to get someone in the role, but here’s the want ad in case you or someone you know happens to be looking for an awesome drumming gig:

holy grove

Portland based stoner/heavy blues/doom band Holy Grove is looking for a full-time dedicated drummer.

Here’s what we’re looking for……a hard hitter with big drums, the ability to swing/groove, and play in the style of John Bonham, Bill Ward, Ian Paice, Cozy Powell, Brant Bjork etc.

Our goal is to find someone dedicated, who can practice twice a week, and is able to tour when necessary (we’re not necessarily trying to live in our van, but we want be able get out a couple times a year.)

We have label and tour support for Europe, and are in the process of writing a new record for release this year.

Here are links to our music:

http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/bands/holy-grove.htm

https://holygrove.bandcamp.com/

Please have samples of your playing available, and send them to holygrovedrummer@gmail.com

If any of this sounds good, we’d love to hear from you!

https://www.facebook.com/holygroveband/
http://holygrove.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/bands/holy-grove.htm

Holy Grove, Live at Hoverfest

Holy Grove, “Death of Magic” live at Psycho Las Vegas

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Norska Announce New Album Too Many Winters Due May 26; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

norska-Photo-by-James-Rexroad

Oregonian sludge rockers Norska have posted the opening track from their impending second album, Too Many Winters. It’s a bit of a rager, and it definitely carries with it the uptempo push for which the Pacific Northwest has become so widely characterized over the course of this decade — that, in itself, is something of a departure from what I recall of their self-titled debut, self-released in 2011 with later issue through Brutal Panda — but “Samhain” intrigues in dynamic as well, and if you make your way through its five minutes, make sure you stick around to the end, because there’s a triumphant kind of turn there that leads me to wonder how it will play out over the rest of the record that follows. If you’re wondering when we might find that out, the record hits May 26, also via Brutal Panda.

You can check out “Samhain” below, as well as the art and track info for Too Many Winters, which came down the PR wire. Norska play this year’s Stumpfest on April 22:

norska-too-many-winters

‘NORSKA: Announce New Album ‘Too Many Winters’; Stream New Song

Coming May 26th via Brutal Panda Records

Portland, OR doom / sludge juggernauts NORSKA (featuring members of YOB) have announced their sophomore full-length, Too Many Winters. Their first full-length since 2012, Too Many Winters will see its release on May 26th via Brutal Panda Records. Stream the opening track “Samhain” at this location.

Too Many Winters ebbs and flows across 6 songs and 40+ minutes of dark, bludgeoning, cosmic doom. Whether trapping the listener with waves of mounting dread and choking darkness or offering glimmers of hope through psychedelic, atmospheric flourishes, NORSKA have created a sonic landscape that is as heavy, claustrophobic and otherworldly as the cover art suggests. Too Many Winters was recorded by Adam Bradley Pike (RED FANG) at Toadhouse Studios in Portland, OR and mastered by Billy Barnett (YOB) at Gung Ho Studios. Cover art by Mark McCormick (Red Fang, YOB, Witch Mountain).

The band commented on the new album:

“Too Many Winters is a collection of our thoughts and musical ideas over the span of 5 years. It reflects our influences in and outside of the band.”

Physical pre-orders are available via this location while digital pre-orders are available here.

NORSKA recently performed with legendary TOOL drummer Danny Carey in Portland, OR at a benefit for YOB frontman Mike Scheidt. Video footage may or may not be available on YouTube. The band is also set to play at this year’s Stumpfest in Portland, OR on April 22nd alongside Elder and Intronaut. Additional dates will be announced shortly.

NORSKA Live:
April 22 Portland, OR Stumpfest w/ Elder, Intronaut, etc.

Too Many Winters Tracklist:
1. Samhain
2. Eostre
3. Too Many Winters
4. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
5. Wave of Regrets
6. Fire Patience Backbone

https://www.facebook.com/norksarock
http://www.norska.bandcamp.com
http://www.brutalpandarecords.com

Norska, “Samhain”

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Ape Machine Tour Dates Start March 31

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

As they’re prone to do, Portland, Oregon’s Ape Machine are gearing up to head out on a run of Spring tour dates, and as previously announced, they’ll be hooking up with Boston heavy rockers Gozu along the way. Well, before that happens, the four-piece will head out from the Pacific Northwest into Montana starting on March 31 to sneak in a quick six dates ahead of time. Part of the motivation for doing so might be to get as much stage experience with drummer Steve Hanford (also Poison Idea) before they and he together record the new and awaited Ape Machine long-player, which has been given the foreboding title Skull Under Boot, following the longer West Coast stretch.

Kind of curious to hear how that album plays out, given the title and Hanford‘s pedigree, though now that I look at the PR wire info below, I’m not 100 percent he’ll be playing on the record or if he’s in permanently as their drummer in addition to producing the record. One assumes we’ll hear more as they hit the studio next month, but take a look for yourself and see what you think:

The northwest riffmeisters, Ape Machine, will put the rubber to the asphalt in a can of sweat (aka the tour van) this April, embarking on a western US tour that includes dates with Boston’s Metal Blade affiliated rockers, Gozu. Changing up the lineup on this tour, Ape Machine will include Steve Hanford – AKA Thee Slayer Hippy (Poison Idea) – on drums. Steve will also be producing the band’s upcoming LP, Skull Under Boot, scheduled for recording immediately following the tour.

The name APE MACHINE is a nod to the days of reel-to-reel magnetic tape audio recording; a fitting moniker for the Portland heavy-hitting quartet as the band plays through vintage tube amplifiers and lays down its songs using exclusively throwback quality studio equipment. A true four-piece, the group has been called “a rock and roll band with a finger on the pulse of the 70’s and their asses firmly in the present” and “real heavy-psych for the iPhone generation” that delivers “true guts and glory rock and roll”.

Be sure to catch the exciting new lineups, sweat and vibrations of Ape Machine and Gozu as the bands shred the western territories.

Ape Machine:
Friday March 31st – Kalispell, MT – Old School Records
Saturday April 1st – Billings, MT – Railyard
Sunday April 2nd – Denver, CO – Hi-Dive
Monday April 3rd – Oklahoma City, OK – Blue Note Lounge
Wednesday April 5th – Austin, TX – Lost Well
Thursday April 6th – Dallas, TX – Three Links
Friday April 7th – Houston, TX – Rudyard’s
Saturday April 8th – San Antonio, TX – Faust Tavern
Sunday April 9th – Corpus Christi, TX – Black Monk Tavern
Monday April 10th – El Paso, TX – Lowbrow Palace
Tuesday April 11th – Las Vegas, NV – Backstage Bar and Billiards

Ape Machine & Gozu:
Wednesday April 12th – Los Angeles, CA – Viper Room
Thursday April 13th – San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
Friday April 14th – Santa Cruz, CA – Blue Lagoon
Saturday April 15th – Sacramento, CA – Starlite Lounge
Sunday April 16th – San Francisco, CA – Elbo Room
Monday April 17th – Fresno, CA – TBA
Tuesday April 18th – Bend, OR – Volcanic Theater
Wednesday April 19th – Eugene, OR – Old Nick’s Pub
Thursday April 20th – Portland, OR – Kenton Club
Friday April 21st – Seattle, WA – Funhouse
Saturday April 22nd – Bremerton, WA – Manette Saloon

http://apemachine.com/
https://www.facebook.com/apemachinemusic
https://twitter.com/apemachine
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm
www.ripple-music.com

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