Review & Full Album Stream: Attalla, Glacial Rule

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

attalla glacial rule

[Click play above to stream Attalla’s Glacial Rule in its entirety. Album is out March 24 with preorders up now.]

If you want to get a sense for what Oshkosh, Wisconsin, four-piece Attalla are up to on their second full-length, Glacial Rule, you don’t have to go far. The opening cut of the album is “Butte des Morts,” and it lands with a swing and a stomp at six and a half minutes of the band digging their heels into what reveals itself as the first of many amply-proportioned, riff-led grooves. Their prior offering, a 2014 self-titled (review here), carried with it an abidingly raw sensibility, and while the six tracks of Glacial Rule follow suit to a degree, guitarists Cody Stieg (also vocals) and Brian Hinckley, bassist Bryan Kunde and drummer James Slater are likewise blunt in conveying the progression they’ve undertaken in the three years since. On a production level, Glacial Rule — recorded last Spring by Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street Recordings in Milwaukee — is crisper and cleaner, but Attalla still have some dirt under their sonic fingernails, giving their material from the launch of “Butte des Morts” onward character and a sense of intent standing behind it.

Working on themes as shown in the Adam Burke cover art of cold and cruel nature throughout pieces like “Ice Harvest,” “Black Wolf Rituals” and the closing title-track, Attalla — who are not to be confused with California post-desert rockers Atala — come across as more confident on the whole in their presentation, surer in their footing rhythmically and clearer in their thinking of who they are and what they want to be as a band. To say they took important lessons from their debut would perhaps be an understatement, and more importantly, it’s how they’re putting those to use in the songwriting on the 40-minute sophomore outing that really conveys the growth at hand.

There doesn’t seem to be a narrative arc tying the songs together, but the already noted themes — freezing, naturalist, and vicious as they are — begin with “Butte des Morts,” which takes its name from a lake near Oshkosh named for a Native American burial ground discovered by French settlers. As it should, the opener sets the tone as well in its upbeat, noise rock-infused groove, which would border on the hypnotic were it not so active in its bounce. I’ll allow the alphabetical coincidence might have something to do with it, but in their treatment of the theme, all-in-the-room-together-style recording, fluidity between tempos, noise influence and far-back but still raw vocals, songs like “Ice Harvest” and the rolling “Valderan,” which follow, remind somewhat of Jersey Shores, the 2008 swansong from Seattle’s Akimbo.

Of course, that album had its own story to tell and Glacial Rule is clearly happening in a different time and place, but some of the brashness and roots in hardcore come through Attalla‘s material in similar fashion, even as “Ice Harvest,” which is the longest track on Glacial Rule at 8:44, digs into the righteous nastiness of its lumbering midsection ahead of a long instrumental/solo exploration that follows and leads the way out of the song. Nothing on Attalla touched that kind of length or adventurousness, but the band’s development can be heard in the restraint of the tempo on “Valderan” as well; in an emerging patience within their sound that seems to be struggling against the impulse to burst out, creating a tension that accompanies the palpable build as the side A finale marches forward. I don’t know which came first, the riffs or the notion that would tie them together, but they were right to settle on the word “glacial.” It’s not the slowest thing in the world, but the theme fits for sure, and as it proceeds into its second half Glacial Rule, feels all the more consistent for working around this central idea.

attalla

And perhaps what’s not as immediately apparent to an outsider is just how directly tied to Wisconsin that central idea is. “Valderan” would seem to take its name from Valders, a town surrounded by hills that were once a mountain range eroded by glaciers, and the state’s Amish population actually do harvest lake ice in order to preserve food without the use of electricity. Likewise, side B’s “Black Wolf Rituals” comes from the town of Black Wolf, in Winnebago County, and “Devil’s Lake” — a misinterpreted Native American translation — is in Sauk County, so even as the former might appear on the surface like mountain-man-rock cultism, it’s actually speaking to a very specific location as it unfurls its mid-paced push and more open-feeling verse, moving in its back end like “Ice Harvest” into an ending instrumental section from which the core structure opts not to return.

“Devil’s Lake” brings more stomp just when it seems to be most needed — by this point, Attalla have dug themselves pretty deep into a moraine of frozen sludge riffing — but ultimately nestles into its own solo section led by Stieg before a thunderous chugging finish. As Slater‘s drums calmly start the closing title-track, it’s hard not to feel like Glacial Rule has hit its moment of arrival. The guitars soon take hold with resonant heft backed by the bass and drive into a quick verse near the two-minute mark. There are two such verses and an accompanying chorus for the second of them, but by the time Attalla hit the third minute of “Glacial Rule”‘s total 7:32, they seem itching to launch into the solo section that will finish track and album alike, breaking after a subtle hat-tip in the riff to Sabbath‘s “Snowblind” into a more subdued progression in order to enact a last build not quite from the ground up, but close enough to make the point.

That nod to the masters — emphasis on “nod” — comes back around in the last minute of the track just before it ends, and provides a crucial moment not just of creating an analog of influence, paying homage, etc., but of demonstrating the continuing process by which Attalla are maturing as a band, since by bringing that part back on “Glacial Rule,” they’re doing what “Devil’s Lake,” “Ice Harvest” and “Black Wolf Rituals” refused to in reinforcing a sense of structure and craft at work in the songwriting. Taken in kind with the thematic cohesion so prevalent throughout Glacial Rule, that characterization becomes even more important, since it gives StiegHinckleyKunde and Slater something to work from their next time out, and as Glacial Rule shows in relation to the self-titled before it, that’s work Attalla are clearly interested in doing. How all of this intent might find balance with the rawer aspects of their style, it’s hard to guess, but they capture an intriguing moment of revelry in the interaction between impulses in these tracks, and one looks forward to finding out where they’re headed.

Attalla on Thee Facebooks

Attalla on Instagram

Attalla on Bandcamp

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Attalla Announce Glacial Rule out March 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Wisconsin-based sludge rockers Attalla — not to be confused with similarly-named Californian post-desert outfit Atala — put out their self-titled debut (review here) in 2014. That album struck a grower chord over time, and eventually earned itself a reissue through doesn’t-put-put-stuff-if-it-sucks Pennsylvania imprint Shadow Kingdom Records. The band has announced they’ll self-release the follow-up, titled Glacial Rule, on vinyl March 24, and will begin taking preorders a month before.

Art, tracks and whatnot are all still to come, but Attalla put in some significant road time last year, so it should be interesting to hear what they’ve come up with when they get there. I asked the band to tell me a little bit about the record and they were kind enough to oblige. You can see in the quote below that it’s 12 minutes longer than the self-titled while remaining the same number of songs, so seems like some definite changes in approach will have taken place. Guess we’ll find out.

That quote and album details follow, as sent by the band:

attalla

Attalla on making Glacial Rule:

‘Glacial Rule’ is a huge step forward for us both musically and as a band. We really took our time working and reworking the songs on this album until they were exactly what we wanted. It is another six-track album but it’s about 12 minutes longer than our first. We were not afraid to jam on a riff until we felt it was finished.

The songs are more dynamic, have some real depth and carry an overall heavier, darker tone. Recording was handled by Shane Hochstetler at Howl Street and the production is absolutely huge. We didn’t half-ass anything on the vinyl packaging either. It is a gatefold jacket with two great pieces by Adam Burke and the vinyl is pressed on two different colors. It is an album we are truly proud of!

‘GLACIAL RULE’
Out March 24th, 2017 on vinyl, cd and digital.
Recorded by Shane Hochstetler of Howl Street Recordings.
Mastered by Carl Saff.
Artwork by Adam Burke.
Layout by the Company.
Released 100% DIY.
Pre-Orders start February 24th at www.attallawi.bandcamp.com

‘Glacial Rule’ tracklisting:
1. Butte Des Morts
2. Ice Harvest
3. Valderan
4. Black Wolf Rituals
5. Devil’s Lake
6. Glacial Rule

Attalla is:
Cody Stieg – Lead Guitar/Vocal
Brian Hinckley – Rhythm Guitar
Bryan Kunde – Bass
James Slater – Drums

http://facebook.com/attallawi
http://www.attallawi.bandcamp.com

Attalla, Attalla (2014)

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Attalla Announce West Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

attalla west coast dates

Wisconsin’s Attalla — not to be confused with the differently-spelled Californian outfit of the same name — have done the requisite van maintenance and are ready to hit the road once more next month. They head west starting July 7, pretty much on a straight shot, actually, first to Minneapolis and then making their way toward the West Coast for a swath of shows in Washington, Oregon and north and south in California that then turn back inland and route them back through the Midwest.

It was last July that Attalla toured along the East Coast, so safe to say they’re putting their vacation time to good use once again, and now will have covered the entire country from one end to the other.

They go still supporting their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), which has newly seen reissue through Shadow Kingdom Records, and also to herald new material in the works for what I hear is a forthcoming LP.

More on that to come. For now, dates:

attalla west coast poster

ATTALLA – West Coast Tour Dates

ATTALLA is hitting the road again this summer. We’re heading west this time and couldn’t be more excited for these dates! Here are our tour dates!

ATTALLA – West Coast Tour 2016
7/07/2016 Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze
7/08/2016 Minneapolis, MN – Eagles Club
7/09/2016 Fargo, ND – The Aquarium
7/10/2016 Sioux Falls, SD – Bigs Bar
7/11/2016 Rapid City, SD – Black Hills Vinyl
7/12/2016 Billings, MT – Railyard
7/13/2016 Spokane, WA – The Checkerboard
7/14/2016 Seattle, WA – High Dive
7/15/2016 Portland, OR – The Know
7/16/2016 Chico, CA – TBA
7/17/2016 Sacramento, CA – Starlite Lounge
7/18/2016 Pacifica, CA – Winter’s Tavern
7/19/2016 Oakland, CA – The Golden Bull
7/20/2016 Los Angeles, CA – The Complex
7/21/2016 San Diego, CA – The Merrow
7/22/2016 Tucson, AZ – Surly Wench
7/23/2016 Phoenix, AZ – The Sandlot
7/24/2016 Las Vegas, NV – The Warehouse
7/25/2016 Logan, UT – Why Sound
7/26/2016 Colorado Springs, CO – Flux Capacitor
7/27/2016 Denver, CO – TBA
7/28/2016 Omaha, NE – Shamrocks
7/29/2016 Kansas City, MS – MiniBar
7/30/2016 Rockford, IL – Mary’s Place

facebook.com/attallawi
attallawi.bandcamp.com
@attallawi on Instagram

Attalla, Attalla (2014)

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Attalla to Release Self-Titled Debut on Shadow Kingdom

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

attalla

Wisconsin four-piece Attalla self-released their self-titled self-debut (as in, their debut as themselves — keep up; also review here) in the midst of summer 2014. Shadow Kingdom Records, whose taste in heavy is both varied and killer, has stepped up to give the album a look this June. The band put it out on vinyl themselves, and the CD I got to write about was in a sleeve, but the Pittsburgh imprint seems intent on doing it up right for a compact disc, tape and download, and that’s not at all something I’m going to complain about. If you need a refresher on the record, it’s streaming in its entirety below.

You know how it goes. The PR wire has details:

attalla attalla

ATTALLA set release date for SHADOW KINGDOM debut

On June 3rd, prepare for total amplifier worship: Attalla’s self-titled debut album will be released by Shadow Kingdom Records on CD, cassette, and digital formats. Marrying the stoned swagger of early Sabbath to the leafiest of ’70s hard rock, this Wisconsin quartet don’t so much go back in time as stop time itself. Lumbering, doomed-out rhythms roll forward and engulf the listener in a lysergic haze, while the thick ‘n’ moist riffs pulse and pound with an insistence that’s totally entrancing.

In fact, the album’s cryptic song titles – chronologically “Light,” “Haze,” “Lust,” “Thorn,” “Veil,” and “Doom” – vividly portray the trip to come. Too dark for regular hard rock but still committed to its earthier values without traversing into proto-metal territory, Attalla could verily be a sonic document of 1973, unearthed today. And yet, undeniably retro as the record may be, Attalla brim with a potency that’s timeless and wholly appealing to a wide swath of rock and metal listeners, and in vocalist Cody Stieg, the band has a great ROCK voice not unlike The Cult’s Ian Astbury. Spark up and drop out! Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Attalla’s Attalla
1. Light
2. Haze
3. Lust
4. Thorn
5. Veil
6. Doom

www.facebook.com/attallawi
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords

Attalla, Attalla (2014)

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Attalla Announce East Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 17th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

attalla

Raw toned Wisconsin four-piece Attalla will hit the Eastern Seaboard for 15 days starting July 10. They’ll make their way out from Chicago to hit the Northeast and do a couple shows in the Mid-Atlantic before turning back through the Midwest, all in support of their 2014 self-titled debut (review here). I’d be interested to see these guys live and figure not necessarily how it stands up to the release, since one imagines it’s pretty close — it’s not like they were trying to clean it up for the record; unless, of course, they were — but what level of intensity they bring to the stage. Could be quite an experience.

A classic-style poster and the dates follow here, as sent by the band down the PR wire:

attalla tour poster

ATTALLA – East Coast Tour 2015 Dates

Very happy to share our East Coast 2015 tour dates with you!

Hailing from a state known for the invention of the electric guitar, the most notorious serial killers, long, ruthless winters and more bars than churches, ATTALLA doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. Starting in late 2012, with roots in punk and hardcore, its members applied their DIY ethos to a style of music that had fueled their earlier endeavors but had yet to be fully harnessed. Drawing influences from Black Sabbath to Black Flag, ATTALLA started writing and forming what has become their debut LP. Recorded on Halloween 2013, this record is the result of months of sonic drudgery and aural abuse. Backed by the support of their local scene, ATTALLA trudges forward, spreading their strain of rock’n’roll to future sufferers of tinnitus.

ATTALLA – East Coast Tour 2015
July 10 Chicago, IL – Liar’s Club
July 11 Fort Wayne, IN – Skeletunes Lounge
July 12 Detroit, MI – Corktown Tavern
July 13 – TBA
July 14 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
July 15 Pittsburgh, PA – Gooski’s
July 16 Buffalo, NY – Mohawk Place
July 17 Rochester, NY – Monty’s Krown
July 18 Wallingford, CT – Knuckleheads
July 19 Brooklyn, NY – TBA
July 20 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
July 21 Baltimore, MD – SideBar
July 22 Richmond, VA – Emilios
July 23 Wilmington, NC – Scrap Iron Bike Shop / Bar
July 24 Louisville, KY – Magnolia Bar
July 25 St. Louis, MO – Heavy Anchor

Artwork by Smithspeed

Cody Stieg – Lead Guitar/Vocal
Brian Hinckley – Rhythm Guitar
Bryan Kunde – Bass
Aaron Kunde – Drums

More info at:
facebook.com/attallawi
attallawi.bandcamp.com
@attallawi on Instagram

Attalla, Attalla (2014)

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Mugstar & The Cosmic Dead, Goya, Gangrened, Attalla and TarLung

Posted in Radio on December 19th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

I’ve been listening to The Obelisk Radio a lot this week, particularly while starting to put together my top albums of 2014 list, so it seemed only appropriate to get a new round of adds up to the server. As we come to the end of the year, there’s always a slowdown in terms of releases, but if I had to put a number to it, I’d call it a 10, maybe 20 percent drop at most. If it was running water and you were looking at it, you’d notice no difference. A flood is still a flood.

As such, 14 records joined the server today. Some are recently reviewed, some aren’t out yet, some have been out for a little bit. It’s a solid batch of stuff, and if you haven’t yet had enough of lists — more to come, believe me — it’s worth a look at the Playlist and Updates Page. The amount of stuff on there is staggering. It’s a wonder the radio stream manages to fit in so much Clutch at all.

Let’s get to it.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Dec. 19, 2014:

Mugstar & The Cosmic Dead, Split LP

Mugstar & Cosmic Dead Split LP

Two sides, one song from each band, each a massive slab of a jam. Glasgow’s The Cosmic Dead and Liverpool’s Mugstar make a solid pairing, and by solid I definitely mean liquid, and by liquid I mean that’s what your brains will be by the time Mugstar‘s “Breathing Mirror” (18:42) and The Cosmic Dead‘s “Fukahyoocastulah” (25:51) are done. Instrumental in their entirety and jammed out on a subspace frequency that I only imagine they can already hear in the Delta Quadrant — and no doubt they’re wondering what the title of The Cosmic Dead‘s contribution means exactly — both cuts share an affinity for progressive heavy psych exploration, kosmiche and krautrock alike, but with a fresh take on the classic idea of we’re-gonna-get-in-a-room-and-this-is-what-happens that runs through, whether it’s in the drone midsection of “Breathing Mirror” after the jam has died down and before its resurgence, or the later reaches of “Fukayoocastulah,” which rest on the nigh-eternal bassline that’s steady enough to hold the course despite the various effects freakouts, slow swirls and experiments happening around it. About 45 minutes solid of primo heavy jamming? Sign me up. Mugstar’s website, on Bandcamp, The Cosmic Dead on Thee Faceboks, on Bandcamp.

Goya, Satan’s Fire

Goya Satan's Fire

Eleven-minute opener “Malediction and Death” makes its primary impression in its consuming tonality — a harsh but encompassing low end that emerges out of the initial cavalcade of feedback starting the song. The first three minutes of “Malediction and Death” are noise before Phoenix’s Goya kick in their riff, drums and vocals, sounding as huge on the Satan’s Fire EP as on their preceding split with Wounded Giant (review here) but perhaps even more malevolent as they continue to find their place within wizard doom, marked out by the two-at-once solo shredding of guitarist/vocalist Jeff Owens, the lurching rhythm behind him and the swing of drummer Nick Lose, whose snare punctuates “Malediction and Death” like a life-preserver tossed into the abyss. Unsurprisingly, they end noisy. “Symbols” picks up with two minutes of sparse, atmospheric drumming, and the title-track (5:58) finishes with a tale of antichristianity, dropping out of life, and watching the world fall apart. Doom? Yes. Perhaps not as patient as “Malediction and Death,” “Satan’s Fire” itself offers suitable heat, and delivered through amps that likewise sound about ready to melt, provides a memorable impression even beyond its Oborn-style hook. Goya on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Attalla, Attalla

Attalla Attalla

Somewhere between classic doom and more aggressive, hardcore punk-derived noise, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, four-piece Attalla are the kind of band who could probably release nothing but 7″ singles for the next five years and still make a go of it. As it stands, their self-titled debut offers a stirring rawness in the dual guitars that reminds there’s more ways to make an impact tonally than just with volume or fuzz. Their roots are in punk, and that’s plain enough to hear in lead guitarist Cody Stieg‘s vocals on songs like “Light” and “Lust,” but “Haze” nestles into a stoner groove late that suits Attalla well, and the later “Veil” offers charged propulsion in the drums of Aaron Kunde, whose snare sound is tinny but fitting with the sans-frills stylings of Stieg, rhythm guitarist Brian Hinckley and bassist Bryan Kunde. Some variation in tempo throughout changes things up, but a particularly triumphant moment comes with the raw Slayer-esque foreboding (think slow Slayer) that begins “Doom,” a fitting closer to Attalla‘s Attalla with its subtly complex stylistic blend and relatively barebones presentation. I’m not sure where Attalla go from here in terms of developing their sound, but the debut offers reason enough to want to find out. Attalla on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

TarLung, TarLung

TarLung TarLung

If you played me TarLung‘s TarLung debut full-length and told me the trio were from North Carolina, I’d undoubtedly believe you. In fact, they hail from Vienna, Austria, but just so happen to have the Southern sludge ideology nailed down on their first offering. Roots in Crowbar and Eyehategod and Sourvein can be heard throughout, big nod, harsh vocals, weighted plod. The guitars of Rotten and Phillipp “Five“ Seiler (the latter also vocals) brings in some of that Pepper Keenan-style Southern riffing, on “Last Breath” particularly, but the bulk of what they and drummer Marian Waibl get up to on these seven tracks is rawer and nastier, the album’s last three cuts — “Apeplanet,” “Black Forest” and “Space Caravan” — providing the best glimpse at TarLung‘s effective aesthetic interpretation. Tonally and methodologically sound, what remains for them to do is hone a more individualized approach, but particularly for a self-released first album, the crisp harshness they convey on the centerpiece “C2” — a kind of maddening high pitch running throughout — satisfies when taken on its own level, and among the three-piece’s assets, their lack of pretense will no doubt serve them well moving forward. TarLung on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Gangrened, We are Nothing

Gangrened We are Nothing

Proffering lurching, aggressive sludge over three tracks arranged longest to shortest, Finnish trio Gangrened conjure sweeping chaos on We are Nothing, blatantly contradicting the title of the release despite whatever riff-laden nihilism might be at work philosophically. Among the most telling moments on the release — which follows a split tape from the four piece of  vocalist Ollijuhani Kujansivu, guitarist/bassist Andreas Österlund, guitarist Jon Imbernon and drummer Owe Inborr, who’ve since traded out their rhythm section — is the opening sample of “Them” in which a man in a Southern US accent rants in paranoid rage about helicopters flying over his property, indicative of some conspiracy or other. In both their influence and their execution, that fits Gangrened‘s overall portrayal well, but both the 12-minute opener “Lung Remover” and closing semi-Black Flag cover “Kontti” (translated “24 Pack” and a feedback-soaked, sludged-up play on “Six Pack”) are pissed off enough to warrant the attention they seem to be demanding in their noisy charge, snail-paced and malevolent as it is. Gangrened on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

As always, this is just a fraction of what was added to The Obelisk Radio today. If you get the chance to check any of this stuff out, I hope you dig it, and if you decide to launch the player, I hope whatever’s playing is awesome.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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