Troll Set April 12 Release for Legend Master; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

troll

The appeal of Portland’s Troll was readily apparent from the self-titled debut (review here) that Shadow Kingdom picked up for release last year — their still-traditional-feeling doom resonates with emotion and melodies atop patient rhythms and a feel that’s no less modern than it is classic, at once of the post-Pallbearer and Windhand school of doom while holding to a march that seems to stem from earlier influences in the genre. Legend Master, which I guess will serve as their second album, though I could’ve sworn the self-titled was an EP. Either way, they’re streaming the first part of the two-chapter title-track, “Legend Master, Book I: Proverbs of Hell,” and the epic feel in the cut is worthy in every fashion of the punctuation its title carries.

You can hear that for yourself at the bottom of this post, and if I can go out on a limb, I’ll say it’s worth your time to do precisely that. Album preorders are up now through the label.

Dig:

troll legend master

Portland’s TROLL set release date for new SHADOW KINGDOM album, reveal first track

Shadow Kingdom Records sets April 12th as the international release date for the highly anticipated second album of Portland’s Troll, Legend Master, on CD, vinyl LP, and cassette tape formats.

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Troll released their first demo in 2015. Not long after came Troll, their debut album, which was originally self-released on cassette tape. Its original edition sold out quickly, and soon came to the attention of Shadow Kingdom. Duly impressed, the label simply had to release Troll’s album on wider-available physical formats and get the band the attention they so truly deserve.

And indeed did Troll get that attention with its Shadow Kingdom re-release in early 2018: Troll’s swampy, primordial doom ooze was critically acclaimed far and wide, with many salaciously awaiting the band’s next move. And now, that next move has arrived, and it’s more molten and momentous: the ominously titled Legend Master, Troll’s first brand-new material since 2016.

The title Legend Master is a telling one: here, Troll dial back the swampier excesses of their more stoner-indebted work and aim for a more regal, prog-inclined style of doom. And yet, even with such a significant shift, the band’s powers are truly hitting a fever pitch here, seemingly able to weave a majestic-yet-mournful tale at every turn. And there are five “turns” here, each of Legend Master’s five tracks an expansive epic in their own right. With two songs clocking in at eight minutes and the other three topping 10 minutes, Troll render the album a world unto itself; riffs lumber and crunch and then fold and wander, creating atmosphere and tension alike, as enigmatic vocalist Rainbo really reaches into his soul to deliver a goosebump-inducing performance like no other. After 52 minutes, you’ll feel like you’ve gone on a journey of a lifetime, yet will be pressing “play” again immediately after: Troll have truly become that engaging.

Shadow Kingdom is so confident in Troll’s Legend Master, it promises the album’s like sipping a fine wine – subtly intoxicating, savory to the palate, ever mysterious to the very end. Adorned with a classy cover and spellbinding layout, Legend Master will surely put Troll in the league of such luminaries as Pallbearer, Warning (UK), Solstice (UK), and the Lord Weird Slough Feg. Begin the journey to the Legend Master NOW!

Start the journey with the new track “Legend Master, Book I: Proverbs of Hell” HERE at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp, where the album can be preordered. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Troll (Portland)’s Legend Master
1. The Flight of the Dragonship
2. Legend Master, Book I: Proverbs of Hell
3. Legend Master, Book II: Three Evil Words
4. The Door
5. Building My Temple

www.facebook.com/trollPDX
https://trollpdx.bandcamp.com/
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords

Troll, “Legend Master, Book I: Proverbs of Hell”

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Lumbar Post “Day Six” Video; The First and Last Days of Unwelcome Reissue out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lumbar

It’s not been over half a decade since Lumbar‘s lone full-length, The First and Last Days of Unwelcome (review here), was issued by Southern Lord in 2013. Argonauta Records has a CD/LP reissue out with new artwork as of this past Friday, and time has done little to dull its visceral impact, the seven-song/25-minute full-length chronicling the claustrophobic-in-body madness born by multi-instrumentalist Aaron Edge (of far too many projects to list, among them Bible Black Tyrant) being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis earlier this decade.

Edge got together with Mike Scheidt of YOB and Tad Doyle of frickin’ TAD and Brothers of the Sonic Cloth to arrange and record The First and Last Days of Unwelcome, and with its tracks put together in a list as “Day One” through “Day Seven,” the chaos and raw emotional scathe continue to resonate from its Meatsmoke tones, lumbering rhythms and tortured vocals, the latter provided by all three involved parties.

The above photo, from 2013, is so far as I know the only promo pic of the trio. They were in Doyle‘s Witch Ape Studio together to make the album and then done — it was always more “project” than “band,” and it became clear soon enough it was a one-off. But I note it because in the tape version of the reissue, which is offered through Anima Recordings, that same photo appears on the inside liner of the j-card. You can see it here:

lumbar tape

Clearly the same shot. Fine. Again, I’m pretty sure there’s just the one, and it’s beside the point anyway. The point is that Edge put this art together himself. He worked as a graphic designer for a long time, for Southern Lord and others, and look how the photo is arranged. Scheidt has a panel, Doyle has a panel, and Edge has the fold. The creases run right through his face. Think about a person fractured. Think about someone’s body betraying them. This is exactly what The First and Last Days of Unwelcome was always intended to convey.

In so many ways, Edge is at the center of this record — he wrote the songs and the lyrics about his experience, recorded the guitar and programmed the drums, and added his own vocals to those of Scheidt and Doyle — and sure enough, in this new version of the album, we see him broken in precisely the fashion brought out through the material itself. I won’t take away from the CD or LP editions — in fact I haven’t seen them to take away from them — but just as a visual metaphor, the tape alone wholly justifies the reissue.

“Day Six” argues for itself as the most melodically resonant inclusion on the album, and Chariot of Black Moth has made a new video for it featuring suitably raging seas and harsh storms that speak to the emotion at its core. If you’re sensitive to flashing lights, be careful — I’m not trying to give anyone a headache — but otherwise, you’ll find the video below, followed by more info on the new pressings for The First and Last Days of Unwelcome, which remains an absolute standout piece on any level you might want to consider it.

Please enjoy:

Lumbar, “Day Six” official video

First & Last Days of Unwelcome’ was originally released in 2013 by Southern Lord Recordings, now available via Argonauta Records and Anima Recordings with a new design by band member, Aaron Edge. Release date is January 11th 2019.

Orders are now available here:
LP: http://smarturl.it/LumbarLP
CD: http://smarturl.it/LumbarCD
Cassette: https://thelumbarendeavor.bandcamp.com

Originally released 11/12/2013 on Southern Lord Records (LORD186):
• 1st pressing: 1500 on black vinyl.
• 2nd pressing: 777 on orange/white swirl vinyl.

Re-released on Argonauta Records (ARGXXX):
• 1st pressing: 300 hand-numbered ox blood vinyl.
• 1st run: 300 CDs.

Re-released on Anima Recordings (ANIMA-017).
• 1st run: 50 high-quality orange cassettes.

Lumbar
Mike Scheidt (Yob, Middian, VHÖL)
Tad Doyle (TAD, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth)
Aaron Edge (Ramprasad, Bible Black Tyrant, iamthethorn)

Lumbar on Bandcamp

Lumbar on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records on Twitter

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Glory in the Shadows Premiere “Babalon” Video; Self-Titled Debut EP out Jan. 25

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

glory in the shadows

Glory in the Shadows seem to be immediately intent on realizing their name. The Portland, Oregon, trio is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Alyssa Maucere, also of Grigax, whose debut album, Life Eater (review here), came out in 2017, as well as Eight Bells as of the last year or so, guitarist/vocalist Taylor Robinson of Bastard Feast and Elitist, and drummer Chuck Watkins, whose CV includes responsibility for the lumber of Uzala and Graves at Sea, among others past and current. Between Maucere‘s experimentalism, Robinson‘s extremity and Watkins‘ plod, Glory in the Shadows clearly lack nothing for diversity of influence on their self-titled four-song debut EP, set to release Jan. 25.

Checking in at a densely-packed 25 minutes, it is an initial salvo that spans styles as one might hope while remaining consistently weighted in its atmosphere and tonal impact. With Maucere channeling her guitar through bass as well as guitar amps, there’s nothing missing from the low end, and the overarching sound is cavernous enough to convey the thematic intensity with which it’s working.

“Lyrically, it takes from [J. Robert] Oppenheimer’s obsession with the Bhagavad Gita, Dante’s Inferno, Book of Revelations interpreted by Aleister Crowley, and the invention of the nuclear bomb,” explains Maucere. Not exactly minor considerations for a 25-minute offering — seems more like three semesters’ worth, at least — but the theme feeds into the ambience across “Kurukshetra I,” “The Seventh Circle,” “Babalon” and “Kurukshetra II: Oppenheimer,” which gracefully meld a post-black metal sensibility with elements of drone and bleak, expansive psychedelia.

From “Kurukshetra I” onward, there’s an immediacy of expression that bleeds through the material whether or not a given part is loud, glory in the shadows glory in the shadowsand while drift is a factor as well, as at the end of the opener, or in the cosmic chants that emerge out of the screams in “The Seventh Circle,” and a swirling murk that seems to cast a pall over Maucere and Robinson‘s vocals. “Babalon,” at a little over four minutes, is the shortest track on Glory in the Shadows, and solidifies around a push of low-end wash and interplay between melody and harsher elements set to a rhythmic nod that holds sway for the duration. It would be undercutting it to call “Babalon” straightforward, but in terms of an initial demonstration, it shows clearly that the three-piece are working from more than one songwriting modus.

“‘I don’t want to play in another metal band,’ was the theme,” Maucere recalls. “I’m not sure if we strayed from our paths, or if we found another way to be heavy; it’s for others to decide. I do know it’s my favorite project to-date, and the fact that we live recorded in our studio, mixed it down ourselves, and managed a good master was amazing. This was my first time running that portion of the recording process, and I borrowed lot of influence from Steve Albini and Butch Vig.” That impulse toward live recording can be heard as “Kurukshetra II: Oppenheimer” blends cave growls and an encompassing surge of guitar tone drops to standalone growls from Robinson soon joined again by Maucere and the total slow-motion instrumental onslaught.

A more studio-type approach, working in layers, etc., would clean that up, and Glory in the Shadows may indeed get there, but they benefit aesthetically from the rawness of the sound and finish with a long stretch into noise and drone to once more highlight their will to use structure as a departure point rather than a cage for their craft.

Or, as Maucere puts it: “Musically… it’s just as strange and creepy. Not sure what to say about it otherwise.”

Fair enough, even if one might add “promising” as a third descriptor for the list.

One doesn’t imagine at all that Glory in the Shadows are settled completely into their sound on their first EP — nor should they be, frankly — but there is a clear will to defy expectation and genre in these four tracks, and that can only bode well as they move forward to whatever might be next.

If you’re sensitive to flashing lights, go warily into the premiere of the video for “Babalon” below, and otherwise, please enjoy:

Glory in the Shadows, “Babalon” official video premiere

Psychotropic Death Songs from the Profound Abyss

Digital release January 25th 2019 on Gloryintheshadows.bandcamp.com.

Also streaming on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, Pandora, starting January 25th 2019.

Guitars/Vocals: Alyssa Maucere
Guitars/Vocals: Taylor Robinson
Drums: Chuck Watkins
Recorded/produced/mixed: Alyssa Maucere at Fremont St

Glory in the Shadows on Thee Facebooks

Glory in the Shadows on Instagram

Glory in the Shadows on Bandcamp

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ILS Sign to P.O.G.O. Records; Pain Don’t Hurt EP Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Portland heavy noise rockers ILS have released their debut EP, Pain Don’t Hurt, through French label P.O.G.O. Records. The band features vocalist Tom Glose of Black Elk and Clarity Process guitarist Nate Abner, and hey, past bands are fun and all that, but I think the pummel of “It’s Not Lard but it’s a Cyst” speaks for itself over the course of its two minutes, and “For the Shame I Bring” is just the right kind of punishment for, say, sitting on your ass all day while going out of your mind waiting for the internet guy to (not) show up. Just a random example. Not speaking from personal experience or anything.

Oh wait, yes I am. Either way, it’s a solid fit for that I’m-so-restless-I’m-about-to-burst-out-of-my-skull thing that, as human beings, we all know too well. The band released the EP last month and P.O.G.O. posted it as of Jan. 2, so whether you want to call it a 2018 or a 2019 release, I don’t think it matters nearly as much as having your head bashed in by it. Which you can name your own price to do.

Info follows:

ils pain dont hurt

For this beginning of the new year (the 26th!), we are very happy to welcome in the P.O.G.O. family, the furious guys of ILS coming from Portland – USA.

We invite you to discover their 1st EP “Pain Do not Hurt”, for fans of Jesus Lizard, Unsane, Steel Pole Bath tub, Flipper, Drive Like Jehu, Whores, Bummer …

(download it for FREE on bandcamp, if problem contact us) –

Tracklisting:
1. No Luck 02:52
2. It’s Not Lard But It’s A Cyst 02:18
3. Northstar 02:08
4. Curse 03:34
5. For The Shame I Bring 03:29

ILS is:
Nathan Abner, g
Christopher Frey, b
Tom Glose, v
Tim Steiner, d

Four guys in PDX who’ve all been in other bands and stuff. This is what we do now. We like loud, aggressive and abrasive. We also like space, like, the place. You don’t have to but it might help.

ilspdx.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/ilspdx/
https://www.facebook.com/PogoRecords
https://pogorecords.bandcamp.com

ILS, Pain Don’t Hurt (2019)

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YOB, Voivod and Amenra Announce Spring 2019 Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

yob alyssa herman photo

Here’s a nifty thought to make your day a little brighter: YOB touring with Voivod on a co-headlining run with support from Amenra. Just to put a check on it, it’s the outfit who defined and continue to reinvent cosmic doom, the band who innovated nerdism in heavy metal and proved that thrash could be progressive, and Europe’s leading purveyor of post-metal. This is not a minor tour. It’s not even the kind of tour you talk about later. It’s the kind of tour that, if you know, you were there, and that’s it. Some experiences don’t need words. “You were at that show?” “Yeah.” And so on.

YOB of course go in support of earlier-2018’s Our Raw Heart (review here), which if the results thus far of the Year-End Poll (add your list!) are anything to go by, yes, you already knew that. Voivod and Amenra have releases too, but really, even if none of them had put out a record in five years, wouldn’t this still be an astounding bill? Yes, yes it would.

Dates are presented by Nanotear and are as follows:

yob voivod amenra tour

Spring 2019: Yob + Voivod + Amenra

03.26 Minneapolis MN Fine Line
03.27 Chicago IL Thalhia Hall
03.28 Columbus OH Ace of Cups
03.29 Cleveland OH Grog Shop
03.30 Toronto ON Phoenix
03.31 Buffalo NY Town Ballroom
04.02 Portland ME Geno’s
04.03 Boston MA Royale
04.04 Brooklyn NY Warsaw
04.05 Philadelphia PA Union Transfer
04.06 Richmond VA Broadberry
04.07 Raleigh NC Kings
04.09 Knoxville TN Concourse (Co-presented with American Icon)
04.10 Atlanta GA Masquerade / Hell
04.11 New Orleans LA One Eyed Jack’s
04.12 Houston TX Warehouse Studios
04.13 Austin TX Barracuda
04.14 Dallas TX Gas Monkey
04.16 Denver CO Marquis Theater*
04.18 Mesa AZ Club Red+
04.19 San Diego CA Brick by Brick w/ Monolord+
+ = YOB only
* = no Voivod

YOB is:
Mike Scheidt – Guitar, Vocals
Aaron Rieseberg – Bass
Travis Foster – Drums

www.yobislove.com
www.facebook.com/quantumyob
www.twitter.com/quantumyob
www.instagram/com/quantumyob
www.relapse.com
www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

YOB, Our Raw Heart (2018)

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Quarterly Review: Thou, Liquid Visions, Benthic Realm, Ape Machine, Under, Evil Triplet, Vestjysk Ørken, Dawn of Winter, Pale Heart, Slowbro

Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again! The second week of this amply-proportioned Quarterly Review begins today as we move ever closer toward the inevitable 100-album finish line on Friday. There is an incredible amount of music to get through this week, so I don’t want to delay for too long, but as we look out across the vast stretch of distortion to come, I need to say thank you for reading, and I hope that you’ve been able to find something that’s kicking your ass a little bit in all the right ways so far. If not, well, there are 50 more records on the way for you to give it another shot.

Here goes.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Thou, Magus

thou magus

How can something be so raw and forward thinking at the same time? Baton Rouge’s Thou might be the band of their generation who’ve added the most to sludge in terms of pushing the style in new directions and shaping genre to their purposes. Magus (on Sacred Bones), their fourth or fifth full-length depending on whom you ask, is an overwhelming 75-minute 2LP of inward and outward destructive force, as heavy in its ambience as in its weight and throat-ripping sonic extremity, and yet somehow is restrained. To listen to the march of “Transcending Dualities,” there’s such a sense of seething happening beneath the surface of that chugging, marching riff, and after its creeping introduction, “In the Kingdom of Meaning” seems intent on beating its own rhythm, as in, with fists, and even a stop-by from frequent guest vocalist Emily McWilliams does little to detract from that impression. Along with Magus, which rightly finishes with the lurching threat of “Supremacy,” Thou have released three EPs and a split this year, so their pace runs in something of a contrast to their tempos, but whether you can keep up or not, Thou continue to press forward in crafting pivotal, essential brutalizations.

Thou website

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Liquid Visions, Hypnotized

Liquid Visions Hypnotized

Sulatron Records‘ pressing of Liquid Visions‘ 2002 debut, Hypnotized, is, of course, a reissue, but also the first time the album has been on vinyl, and it’s not long into opener “State of Mind” or the grunge-gone-classic-psych “Waste” before they earn the platter. Members of the band would go on to participate in acts like Zone Six, Wedge, Electric Moon and Johnson Noise, so it’s easy enough to understand how the band ties into the family tree of underground heavy psych in Berlin, but listening to the glorious mellow-unfolding-into-noise-wash-freakout of 15-minute closer “Paralyzed,” the appeal is less about academics than what the five-piece of vocalists/guitarists H.P. Ringholz (also e-sitar) and Kiryk Drewinski (also organ), bassist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (also Fender Rhodes and Mellotron), drummer Chris Schwartzkinsky and thereminist Katja Wolff were able to conjure in terms of being both ahead of their time and behind it. As the album moves from its opening shorter tracks to the longer and more expansive later material, it shows its original CD-era linearity, but if an LP reissue is what it takes to get Hypnotized out there again, so be it. I doubt many who hear it will complain.

Liquid Visions on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Benthic Realm, We Will Not Bow

Benthic Realm We Will Not Bow

The second short release from Benthic Realm behind a 2017 self-titled EP (review here) finds the Massachusetts-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (ex-Second Grave, ex-Warhorse), bassist Maureen Murphy (ex-Second Grave) and drummer Dan Blomquist (also Conclave) working toward a refined approach bridging the divide between doom and darker, harder hitting metal. They do this with marked fluidity, van Guilder shifting smoothly between melodic clean singing and harsher screams as Murphy and Blomquist demonstrate like-minded ease in turns of pace and aggression. The penultimate semi-title-track “I Will Not Bow” is an instrumental, but “Save us All,” “Thousand Day Rain” and closer “Untethered” — the latter with some Slayer ping ride and ensuing double-kick gallop — demonstrate the riff-based songwriting that carries Benthic Realm through their stylistic swath and ultimately ties their ideas together. If they think they might be ready for a debut full-length, they certainly sound that way.

Benthic Realm on Thee Facebooks

Benthic Realm website

 

Ape Machine, Darker Seas

ape machine darker seas

Maybe Ape Machine need to make a video with cats playing their instruments or something, but five albums deep, the Portland outfit seem to be viciously underrated. Releasing Darker Seas on Ripple, they take on a more progressive approach with songs like “Piper’s Rats” donning harmonized vocals and more complex interplay with guitar. It’s a more atmospheric take overall — consider the acoustic/electric beginning of “Watch What You Say” and it’s semi-nod to seafaring Mastodon, the likewise-unplugged and self-awarely medieval “Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester)” and the rocking presentation of what’s otherwise fist-pumping NWOBHM on “Bend Your Knee” — but Ape Machine have always been a band with songwriting at their center, and even as they move into the best performances of their career, hitting a point of quality that even producer Steve Hanford (Poison Idea) decided to join them after the recording as their new drummer, there’s no dip in the quality of their work. I don’t know what it might take to get them the attention they deserve — though a cat video would no doubt help — but if Darker Seas underscores anything, it’s that they deserve it.

Ape Machine on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Under, Stop Being Naive

under stop being naive

Stockport, UK, three-piece Under bring a progressive edge to their pummel with their second album, Stop Being Naive (on APF), beginning with the deceptively thoughtful arrangement of crushing opener and longest track (immediate points) “Malcontent,” which unfurls a barrage of riffs and varied vocals contributed by guitarist Simon Mayo, bassist Matt Franklin and drummer/keyboardist Andy Preece. Later cuts like “Soup” and “Grave Diggers” tap into amorphous layers of extremity, and “Happy” punks out with such tones as to remind of the filth that became grindcore in the UK nearly 40 years ago, but while “Big Joke” rolls out with a sneer and closer “Circadian Driftwood” has a more angular foundation, there’s an overarching personality that comes through Under‘s material that feels misanthropic and critical in a way perhaps best summarized by the record’s title. Stop Being Naive is sound enough advice, and it comes presented with a fervent argument in its own favor.

Under on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Evil Triplet, Have a Nice Trip

evil triplet have a nice trip

Trimming the runtime of their 2017 debut, Otherworld (review here) nearly in half, Austin weirdo rockers Evil Triplet present the six-song/38-minute single LP Have a Nice Trip on Super Secret with classic garage buzz tone on “A Day Like Any Other,” a cosmic impulse meeting indie sneer on opener “Space Kitten” and a suitably righteous stretch-out on “Aren’t You Experienced?” — which is just side A of the thing. The pulsating “Open Heart” might be the highlight for its Hawkwindian drive and momentary drift, but “Pyramid Eye”‘s blown-out freakery isn’t to be devalued, and the eight-minute capper “Apparition” is dead on from the start of its slower march through the end of its hook-topped jam, reminding of the purpose behind all the sprawl and on-their-own-wavelength vibes. A tighter presentation suits Evil Triplet and lets their songs shine through while still highlighting the breadth of their style and its unabashed adventurousness. May they continue to grow strange and terrify any and all squares they might encounter.

Evil Triplet on Thee Facebooks

Super Secret Records website

 

Vestjysk Ørken, Cosmic Desert Fuzz

Vestjysk orken Cosmic Desert Fuzz

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get on Vestjysk Ørken‘s debut EP, Cosmic Desert Fuzz. At very least, the Danish trio’s three-tracker first outing is aptly-named, and guitarist/vocalist Bo Sejer, bassist Søren Middelkoop Nielsen and drummer Thomas Bonde Sørensen indeed tap into space, sand and tone on the release, but each song also has a definite theme derived from cinema. To wit, “Dune” (11:41) samples Dune, “…Of the Dead” (9:13) taps into the landmark George Romero horror franchise, and “Solaris” (14:15) draws from the 1972 film of the same name. The spaciousness and hypnotic reach of the latter has an appeal all its own in its extended and subtle build, but all three songs not only pay homage to these movies but seem to work at capturing some aspect of their atmosphere. Vestjysk Ørken aren’t quite rewriting soundtracks, but they’re definitely in conversation with the works cited, and with an entire universe of cinema to explore, there are accordingly no limits as to where they might go. Something tells me it won’t be long before we find out how deep their obsession runs.

Vestjysk Ørken on Instagram

Vestjysk Ørken on Bandcamp

 

Dawn of Winter, Pray for Doom

Dawn of Winter Pray for Doom

I have no interest in playing arbiter to what’s “true” in doom metal or anything else, and neither am I qualified to do so. Instead, I’ll just note that Germany’s Dawn of Winter, who trace their roots back nearly 30 years and have released full-lengths on a one-per-decade basis in 1998, 2008 and now 2018 with Pray for Doom, have their house well in order when it comes to conveying the classic tenets of the genre. Issued through I Hate, the eight-track/51-minute offering finds drummer Dennis Schediwy punctuating huge nodder grooves led by Jörg M. Knittel‘s riffs, while bassist Joachim Schmalzried adds low end accentuation and frontman Gerrit P. Mutz furthers the spirit of traditionalism on vocals. Songs like “The Thirteenth of November” and the stomping “The Sweet Taste of Ruin” are timeless for being born too late, and in the spirit of Europe’s finest trad doom, Dawn of Winter evoke familiar aspects without directly worshiping Black Sabbath or any of their other aesthetic forebears. Pray for Doom is doom, because doom, by doomers, for doomers. The converted will be accordingly thrilled to hear them preach.

Dawn of Winter on Thee Facebooks

I Hate Records website

 

Pale Heart, Jungeland

pale heart jungleland

Semi-retroist Southern heavy blues boogie, some tight flourish of psychedelia, and the occasional foray into broader territory, Stuttgart three-piece Pale Heart‘s StoneFree debut long-player, Junegleland is striking in its professionalism and, where some bands might sacrifice audio fidelity at the altar of touching on a heavy ’70s aesthetic, guitarist/vocalist Marc Bauer, key-specialist Nico Bauer and drummer Sebastian Neumeier (since replaced by Marvin Schaber) present their work in crisp fashion, letting the construction of the songs instead define the classicism of their influence. Low end is filled out by Moog where bass might otherwise be, and in combination with Hammond and Fender Rhodes and other synth, there’s nothing as regard missing frequencies coming from Jungleland, the nine songs of which vary in their character but are universally directed toward honing a modern take on classic heavy, informed as it is by Southern rock, hard blues and the tonal warmth of yore. A 50-minute debut is no minor ask of one’s audience in an age of fickle Bandcamp attentions, but cuts like the 12-minute “Transcendence” have a patience and character that’s entrancing without trickery of effects.

Pale Heart on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Slowbro, Nothings

Slowbro Nothings

UK instrumentalist three-piece Slowbro‘s full-length debut, Nothings, brings forth eight tracks and 51 minutes of heavy-ended sludge rock notable for the band’s use of dueling eight-string guitars instead of the standard guitar/bass setup. How on earth does something like that happen? I don’t know. Maybe Sam Poole turned to James Phythian one day and was like, “Hey, I got two eight-string guitars. So, band?” and then a band happened. Zeke Martin — and kudos to him on not being intimidated by all those strings — rounds out on drums and together the trio embark on cuts like “Sexlexia” (a very sexy learning disability, indeed) and “Broslower,” which indeed chugs out at a considerably glacial pace, and “Fire, Fire & Fire,” which moves from noise rock to stonerly swing with the kind of aplomb that can only be conjured by those who don’t give a shit about style barriers. It’s got its ups and downs, but as Nothings — the title-track of which quickly cuts to silence and stays there until a final crash — rounds out with “Pisscat” and the eight-strings go ever so slightly post-rock, it’s hard not to appreciate the willful display of fuckall as it happens. It’s a peculiar kind of charm that makes it both charming and peculiar.

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Creature Lab Records website

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Holy Grove, II

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

holy grove ii

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Holy Grove’s ‘Valley of the Mystics’ from Holy Grove II. Album is out Nov. 9 on Ripple Music.]

If Holy Grove II was an action figure, it would be one-per-case. If it was coffee, it would be run through the digestive tract of Peruvian bats before brewing. If it was a mushroom, it would only grow on the Western slope of one mountain in the Alps and would only be obtainable by one family who’ve harvested it for 700 years using specially trained dogs. And yes, it would be hallucinogenic. It is, in other words, a rare album. Not so much in pressing — Ripple Music has numbered versions, but those who want it can get it — but in form. It’s a coalescing of influences into something new and of marked individual character. Holy Grove aren’t necessarily out of step with the heavy hotbed that’s swelled in their native Portland, Oregon, over the course of this decade, but as that generation of acts becomes more mature, they’re engaged in an obvious commitment to move their sound to new places.

The reasons Holy Grove II, which comprises five tracks in 44 minutes and boats a much-ballyhooed guest appearance from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt alongside Holy Grove vocalist Andrea Vidal on 12-minute closer “Cosmos,” are plenty: timing, performance, production, songwriting, presence. It’s the right album at the right time — we’re coming up on the end of that decade in Portland heavy; something new is welcome. The performances of Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs, bassist Gregg Emley and drummer Eben Travis are energized, soulful and creative, and captured with a master’s hand by Billy Anderson, who if he hasn’t yet started writing the book on heavy production methods should probably get to work on that. A special kind of presence can be heard in Jacobs‘ leads at the end of the penultimate “Solaris” as well as in Vidal‘s vocals that run concurrent with it leading to a classic metal surge that’s organ-inclusive and full-sounding and lands with all the more impact for its sudden end, and the entire proceeding is memorable precisely because of the songwriting work that’s gone into it.

Vidal follows in a line of Oregonian vocalists that includes few others — the aforementioned Mike Scheidt is one, former Witch Mountain singer Uta Plotkin was another — who are able to bring such soul to a heavy context. From the swinging beginning minutes of opener “Blade Born” onward, she steps forward and is in utter command of the material in a way that even two and a half years ago on Holy Grove‘s self-titled debut (review here) just wasn’t possible. Part of that is easy to read as a comfort factor, and it applies to the entire band. Travis is a more recent acquisition, and he makes his presence known from that first swing onward through the second-half rollout slowdown of “Blade Born” and into the cowbell shuffle and tom runs of straight-up rocker “Aurora” that follows and is by far the shortest inclusion on the album at 3:51, but in Emley‘s low end and Jacobs‘ riffing and leads, there’s never a sense that Holy Grove are rushed or playing in any other way than they want to be.

Holy Grove 2018 press photography for "Holy Grove II" album release.

It is a poised collection, but not pointedly so. That is, with the time they spent on tour domestically and abroad, Holy Grove have very clearly found who they are as a group and set themselves to presenting that in these songs. It works. And whether a listener wants to put that narrative to it and think of Holy Grove II in the context of its predecessor or if it’s someone’s first experience with the band, it doesn’t matter. The way the album unfolds is welcoming regardless, and as “Aurora” boogies directly into launching chug of near-11-minute side A capper/album centerpiece “Valley of the Mystics,” the emphasis becomes not on stylization as a means of exclusivity — they’re not tapping into classic and/or traditional doom impulses to show off their taste — but on doing what works best for the song itself. As the opener hinted and both “Solaris” and “Cosmos” affirm on side B, Holy Grove are well suited to these longer forms. That’s not to take away from “Aurora,” which serves a vital function here and is kickass all the while, just to note that given the space to soar, Holy Grove do so.

“Valley of the Mystics” recedes to let Vidal take forward position in a Dio Sabbath-style verse before resuming the roll for a chorus that boasts self-harmonies — more please — and trades again quiet and loud before shifting into the traditionalist metallurgy already noted, and rings out at its finish to conclude the side as “Solaris” fades in on amp noise before crashing through an intro huge and darker-edged en route to a plodding, nodding progression of its own. Organ helps “Solaris” evoke a grand feel, and keyboard plays a central role in “Cosmos” as well, as the two are paired smoothly in the second half of the record. The sudden end of “Solaris” brings a quiet start to the closer, which again pulls back instrumentally to a quieter verse, this one part of a linear build rife with sonic details in the keys, guitar noise and so on. At 3:28, keyboard/Mellotron takes a central position that might otherwise go to the guitar, but the two intertwine smoothly ahead of another chorus, a solo, an almost complete drop to silence, and the setting of the stage for Scheidt‘s arrival, first with atmospheric growls deep in the mix, then with a clean line that emerges from that mass of tone surrounding.

I’m not going to say a bad word about Scheidt‘s appearance — he’s always welcome as far as I’m concerned — but there is a part of me that doesn’t want Holy Grove to share the apex of their second long-player. It’s theirs. They earned it. Bringing in someone else doesn’t necessarily take away from that, but it does change the form of it, and as Travis‘ drums roll and crash to an end of residual amp noise and echoing voice, the highlight of Holy Grove II remains the album itself and the clear process it’s begun in terms of hammering out the potential that the four-piece showed on their debut. Their flair for dramatic turns instrumentally and vocally is writ large here, but they never lose sight of songcraft, and even as Vidal and Scheidt carry through the crescendo of “Cosmos” together, it’s still the entirety of Holy Grove that’s leaving such a resonant impression. There are who will hear it and those who won’t, but this band is casting their influence out over doom with this record, and I’d be surprised if others didn’t catch it and work from it in the future. And they’re not done growing either, because as exciting as Holy Grove II is, it’s already worth looking forward to Holy Grove III. Recommended.

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Ripple Music website

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Red Fang Announce December Pacific Northwest Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red fang

Given all the road time they put in, I like the thought of Portland’s Red Fang doing a regional weekender in Oregon and Washington. Of course, it’s worth noting that their four-date run alongside R.I.P. follows a late-November/early-December West Coast stint with Telekinetic Yeti and precedes another three local shows to close out 2018. But that’s kind of how it goes with Red Fang, isn’t it? Since even before they signed to Relapse they’ve been a hard-touring band, and certainly as they continue to support 2016’s Only Ghosts (review here), that’s been the case all along. The way I see it, though, that only adds charm to the four-date set. That’s not a tour they’re doing because they have to, or because they’re promoting a release, or whatever. Those are shows they’re playing because they want to.

Maybe they’re tightening up new material with an eye toward recording sometime in 2019, or maybe they’re just getting out for the hell of it. Either way, the point is it’s easy to read this as something they have booked for fun. Maybe that’s the case and maybe not, but for Red Fang, who are a good time under the most workmanlike of circumstances, it seems only fitting they should have a bit of a blowout to close the year. They’ve earned it.

From the PR wire:

red fang tour poster

RED FANG: Announce Additional Late 2018 Tour Dates

Portland, OR rockers RED FANG announce the second leg of their US headlining tour dates at the end of the year. The brief tour begins December 12nd in Eugene, OR and ends December 15 in Bellingham, WA. Support will be provided by R.I.P. on all four dates. The tour rounds up RED FANG’s Winter 2018 tour dates featuring additional select support by Thunderpussy, Telekinetic Yeti, Wizard Rifle and Gaythiest. All confirmed tour dates are available below.

Tickets are on sale Friday, October 5th @ 10am local time at https://redfang.net/live.html.

Additionally, RED FANG have shared a cover of the 1978 cult hit “Listen to the Sirens” originally performed by Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army. Watch the official music video directed by Ray Gordon.

The music video which is a departure from RED FANG’s usual antics, showcases the band playing the song in their rehearsal place while taking in the sites and sounds of their hometown, Portland.

Red Fang Tour Dates:

Oct 06 Atlanta, GA @ Slaughter Que 2018 (w/ ASG)

— All Dates Nov 29 – Dec 08 w/ Telekinetic Yeti —

Nov 29 San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
Nov 30 Los Angeles, CA @ Roxy Theatre
Dec 01 Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriets
Dec 02 Tustin, CA @ Marty’s On Newport
Dec 03 Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
Dec 05 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Dec 06 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Dec 07 Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Lounge
Dec 08 Boise, ID @ The Olympic

— All Dates Dec 12 – 15 w/ R.I.P. —

Dec 12 Eugene, OR @ HiFi Music Hall
Dec 13 Bend, OR @ Domino Room
Dec 14 Tacoma, WA @ Alma Mater
Dec 15 Bellingham, WA @ Wild Buffalo

Dec 28 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom (w/ Thunderpussy & Gaythiest)
Dec 29 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom (w/ R.I.P. & Wizard Rifle)
Dec 31 Seattle, WA @ The Showbox (w/ Thunderpussy)

RED FANG is:
John Sherman – Drums
Aaron Beam – Bass, Vocals
David Sullivan – Guitar
Maurice Bryan Giles – Guitar, Vocals

www.redfang.net
www.facebook.com/redfangband
www.twitter.com/redfang
www.instagram.com/redfangband
http://relapse.com/red-fang-only-ghosts/

Red Fang, “Listen to the Sirens” official video

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