Owl Stream “Madness is the Glory of This Life”; New Album Nights in Distortion out Sept. 7

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

owl

If you feel like having your brain worked over by a meat tenderizer, by all means, dig into the new Owl track at the bottom of this post. At high volume. The song digs into vibes out of death metal and band-founder Christian Kolf rightly namechecks Type O Negative as a source of inspiration for its cleaner parts, but the vibe that pervades is still one of churning extremity. In the barking harsher vocals, one can also hear shades of Godflesh, but they’re recontextualized almost past the point of recognition, and yeah, it’s six and a half minutes of consciousness assault. It’s the last track on Owl‘s upcoming LP, Nights in Distortion, and I’m not going to spoil anything by giving timestamps or some such, but just know that when you think you’re most safe is when you’re the least safe. It seems crass to say I’m looking forward to hearing more given the passing of bassist René Marquis, but the creativity on display in “Madness is the Glory of This Life” is a suitable reminder of the depths in which Owl so righteously reside.

Earlier this year, the band released the single-song EP, Orion Fenix (review here), and you can stream that as well as the new song below.

Info follows from the PR wire:

owl nights in distortion

GERMAN DOOM CULT, OWL, OVERCOMES TRAGEDY FOR INTENSE NEW ALBUM ‘NIGHTS IN DISTORTION’

Some of the best art is often made in the wake of the worst tragedies. Such is the case with Germany’s doom metal band Owl, whose forthcoming, 3rd full-length album, Nights In Distortion, nearly never came to fruition due to the impact of the death of their bassist René Marquis. Over 4 years in the making, the band’s long-awaited record will finally be realized on September 7th via the Swedish label Temple of Torturous Records.

Owl’s (Germany) founder and primary songwriter Christian Kolf, who’s also a member of the critically renowned metal band Valborg (Prophecy Productions) and founder of the label Zeitgeister, created the band in the mid-2000’s as a necessity to further explore and challenge his musical creativity. What began as a death metal project has evolved over the years, incorporating Kolf’s eclectic tastes and influences that’s resulted in an amalgam of death and doom that conjures memories of Type O Negative, Jesu, Neurosis, Anathema and Meshuggah among others.

“I have to say that this album is still heavy for me when I listen to it,” says Kolf. “There are a lot of grievous memories connected to that album, but foremost it’s about my friend René Marquis who died some months ago, who played bass on it. He was really a nice chap. You could nerd with him about music and instruments for hours. He gave us all a big vibe. And to have him on board for this album was very very helpful. Sometimes I thought “why should I do this, it’s stupid, just chill and make music when better times come,“ because I knew that it would be draining somehow. But René always said “do it.“ It was good to have a partner for this album, someone I could talk too and share it with.”

Discussing the record’s first released track “Madness Is The Glory of This Life,” Kolf says, “I wanted a twisted cosmic Death Metal song to end the album. Inspired by Gorguts and Type O Negative. To love means to fear, to fear means to hate. The origin of so many problems in humanity. Life is crazy, so madness is the glory of this life. When you are in weird place and like that music, it probably should give you some strength. It is about Total Forlornness.”

Nights In Distortion Tracklisting:
We Are Made For Twilight
Transparent Monument
Anamnesis
Inanna In Isolation
Abortion of Empathy
Madness Is The Glory Of This Life

https://www.facebook.com/owlmetal
https://www.facebook.com/ToTRecords
http://templeoftorturous.com
https://templeoftorturous.bandcamp.com/

Owl, “Madness is the Glory of This Life”

Owl, Orion Fenix (2018)

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Owl Premiere New Cassingle Awaken Jupiterian

Posted in audiObelisk on June 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

OWL

Oakland traditionalists Owl (also stylized Ovvl) will release their third album sometime later this year, following for years after their sophomore outing, Screech. To lead into the new offering, the three Baechle brothers — Axell and K. on guitar/vocals, Clint on drums — and newcomer bassist Magic Spiegel send forth a new two-songer cassette single titled Awaken Jupiterian in reference to the tracks contained: “Awaken the Mountain” and “Jupiterean Ocean.” It’s only 11 minutes long, but with it, the band ask the pivotal question of what might have happened had heavy metal in the ’80s not become so commercialized, so overblown in its production, and had it been able to move forward from its roots in the decade prior and develop its sound without becoming so grandiose. Owl will play the Alehorn of Power festival on July 28, and one can hardly think of a more appropriate setting for them.

Their guitar work on “Awaken the Mountain” and their willingness to smash one part into the next would seem to be derived from the Mike Scalzi school of metallurgyowl awaken jupiterian, but there’s more to their gallop than simple imitation or musical conversation with the Lord Weird. That’s true on the almost completely instrumental “Jupiterean Ocean” as well as in “Awaken the Mountain,” as both cuts showcase an edge of progressive, thoughtful songwriting with a mind toward flow and capturing the spirit of metal’s post-formative years, its righteousness still in its ability to be a middle-finger to the mainstream while capturing an increasing portion of the sales market. In “Awaken the Mountain,” one might hear shades of Leeches of Lore‘s off-kilter winding, or (if you’re on the Eastern Seaboard) some of Valkyrie‘s dual-axe heroics, but Owl hold firm to a sonic persona of their own — dig that last section of “Jupiterean Ocean” — and as much as they seem to look back at what metal was and could have been, they don’t at all lose sight of the individualist expression that’s always been at the heart of the form. They are, in other words, their own band.

The cassingle, which one can only hope comes in a cardboard sleeve open on top and bottom, either shrinkwrapped or not, is available now and to herald the coming of their third long-player, on which “Awaken the Mountain” promises to feature — frankly I’m not sure how you’d get away with calling the album anything else, but the title hasn’t been announced yet — Owl will head out on their first full US tour in more than half a decade. The dates for that run follow the Awaken Jupiterian single itself, which I’m thrilled to be able to premiere via the player below.

Please dig in and enjoy:

Three and a half years since the release of the Screech LP, Oakland, California’s Owl returns to the scene with two brand new tracks on the archaic “cassingle” format! “Awaken The Mountain,” taken from a new album album which will be released later this year, is a prog metal epic, and cautionary tale of dwelling too close to volatile geologic formations! The B-side, “Jupiterian Ocean,” is a sweeping instrumental that glides into view on terrestrial winds, before plummeting into stoner caves and finally scaling staggering zeppelinesque heights!

ORDER THE CASSINGLE HERE
https://owlbrotherhood.bandcamp.com/album/awaken-jupiterian

Two LPs, eleven tours, and four bass players later, 2018 finds the band poised to reach a new plateau, with an epic new album on deck, and the first full US tour since 2012! Join the party this summer!

“OWL BE BACK” TOUR 2018
7.11 ALBANY, CA – Ivy Room
7.12 OJAI, CA – Ojai Deer Lodge
7.13 LOS ANGELES, CA – The Lexington
7.14 FLAGSTAFF, AZ – Flagstaff Brewing Co.
7.15 SANTA FE, NM – TBD
7.16 DALLAS, TX – Transit Bicycle Co.
7.17 LITTLE ROCK, AR – TBD
7.18 NASVILLE, TN – TBD
7.19 ASHEVILLE, NC – TBD
7.20 RICHMOND, VA – Chum
7.21 NEW YORK, NY – Cobra Club
7.22 WALLINGFORD, CT – Cherry Street Saloon
7.23 BURLINGTON, VT – Nectar’s
7.24 PHILADELPHIA, PA – TBD
7.25 PITTSBURGH, PA – Camp Clarke
7.26 DETROIT, MI – Outer Limits
7.27 MILWAUKEE, WI – Quarters
7.28 CHICAGO, IL – Reggie’s – ALEHORN OF POWER FEST
7.29 MADISON, WI – The Wisco
7.30 MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Memory Lanes
7.31 LINCOLN, NE – TBD
8.1 DENVER, CO – Squire Lounge
8.2 COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Triple Nickel
8.3 SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Ridinghoods
8.4 RENO, NV – Shea’s Tavern
8.5 SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Bottom Of The Hill

Owl is:
Axell Baechle: Guitar, Vocals
K. Baechle: Guitar, Vocals
Clint Baechle: Drums
Magic Spiegel: Bass Guitar

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Owl on Bandcamp

Owl website

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Quarterly Review: Primordial, Dead Meadow, Taarna, MaidaVale, Black Willows, Craang, Fuzz Lord, Marijannah, Cosmic Fall, Owl

Posted in Reviews on April 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Okay, so this is it. The Quarterly Review definitely ends today. I’m not sneaking in a seventh day tomorrow or anything like that. This is it. The last batch of 10, bringing us to a grand total of 60 records reviewed between last Monday and now. That’s not too bad, if you think about it. Me, I’m a little done thinking about it, and if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to enjoy the time between now and late June/early July, in which for the most part I’ll be writing about one record at a time. The thought feels like a luxury after this week.

But hey, we made it. Thanks for reading along the way.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primordial, Exile Amongst the Ruins

primordial exile amongst the ruins

Primordial’s flair for the epic has not at all abated over the years. The Irish post-black-metal forerunners follow-up 2014’s Where Greater Men Have Fallen with Exile Amongst the Ruins (on Metal Blade), and though there’s plenty of charge in “To Hell or the Hangman,” “Sunken Lungs” or “Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed,” with frontman Alan Averill proselytizing declarations as grandly as ever, one might read a certain amount of fatigue into the lyrics of songs like “Stolen Years” and the 10-minute closer “Last Call.” Granted, Exile Amongst the Ruins is 65 minutes long, so I don’t think the band has run out of things to say, but could it be that the cycle of writing, recording and touring is starting to wear on them some 25 years after their founding? I wouldn’t know or speculate, and like I said, Exile Amongst the Ruins retains plenty of its sonic force, the layering of the title-track and the preceding “Where Lie the Gods” offering a depth of sound to complement the complexity of their themes.

Primordial on Thee Facebooks

Primordial at Metal Blade website

 

Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need

dead meadow The Nothing They Need

Utter masters of their domain, Los Angeles’ Dead Meadow – comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jason Simon, bassist Steve Kille and drummer Juan Londono – mark 20 years of the band with the eight songs of The Nothing They Need (on Xemu Records), bringing in former members for guest spots mostly on drums but also guitar across a rich tapestry of moods, all of which happen to be distinctly Dead Meadow’s own. The ramble in opener “Keep Your Head” or “I’m So Glad” is unmistakable, and the fuzz of the six-minute “Nobody Home” bounces with a heavy psychedelic groove that should be nothing less than a joy to the converted. Recorded in their rehearsal space, released on their own label and presented with their own particularly blend of indie pulse, psych dreamscaping and more weighted tone, a song like the swaying eight-minute “The Light” is a reminder of everything righteous Dead Meadow have accomplished in their two decades, and of the vast spread their influence has taken on in that time. Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is that no matter who’s involved, Dead Meadow sound like Dead Meadow, which is about the highest compliment I can think of to pay them.

Dead Meadow on Thee Facebooks

Xemu Records website

 

Taarna, Sanguine Ash

taarna sanguine ash

It’s not entirely clear what’s happening at the start of Taarna’s 29-minute single-song EP, Sanguine Ash, but the samples are vague and violent sounding and the noise behind them is abrasive. A strum and build takes hold as the Portland, Oregon, black metallers, who feature former members of Godhunter in their ranks, continue in the first couple minutes to develop a suicidal thematic, and six minutes in, a wash of static takes hold with drums behind it only to give way, in turn, to lush-sounding keys or guitar (could go either way) that patiently leads to a rumbling, roiling lurch of blacksludge. Cavern-vocals echo and cut through molasses tones and Taarna ride that malicious groove for the next several minutes until, at around 18:30, samples start again. This leads to more quiet guitar, resonant blackened thrust, noise, noise, more noise and a final emergent wash of caustic anti-metal that couldn’t possibly be clearer in its mission to challenge, repel and come across as completely fucked as it can. Done and done, you scathing bastards.

Taarna on Thee Facebooks

Taarna on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure

maidavale madness is too pure

I already discussed a lot of what is working so well on MaidaVale’s second album, Madness is Too Pure (The Sign Records), when I put up the video for “Oh Hysteria!” (posted here), but it’s worth reemphasizing the sonic leap the Swedish four-piece have made between their 2016 debut, the bluesy and well-crafted Tales of the Wicked West (review here) and this nine-song offering, which stretches far outside the realm of blues rock and encompasses psychedelic jamming, spontaneous-sounding explorations, brazen but not at all caustic vibes, and an overarching energy of delivery that reminds both of a live presentation and, on a song like “Gold Mine,” of what Death Alley have been able to revitalize in space-punk. Memorable progressions like that of “Walk in Silence” and the freaked out “Dark Clouds” offer standout moments, but really, it’s the whole album itself that’s the standout, and if the debut showed MaidaVale’s potential, Madness is Too Pure ups that factor significantly.

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Willows, Bliss

black willows bliss

About a year and a half after releasing their 2016 sophomore outing, Samsara (review here), Swiss post-doomers Black Willows return with a 19-minute single-song EP they’ve dubbed Bliss. It is utterly hypnotic. The sonic equivalent of watching a bonfire take hold of dry wood. It consumes with its dense heft of riff and then lulls the listener with stretches of minimalism and ambience, the first of which provides the intro to the piece itself. Black Willows are no strangers to working with longform material, and as Bliss also appears as the band’s half of a Bloodrock Records split with Craneium, it’s understandable they’d want to bring their best, but the weight of their groove feels unexpected even in terms of having heard their past work. So they’ve gotten heavier? Yeah, maybe. What really matters is how they wield that weight, and on Bliss, they put it to use as much as an atmospheric table-setter as in a display of sheer force. Beware the noise wash at the end. That’s all I’ll say.

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Bandcamp

 

Craang, Shine

craang shine

Greek heavy psych rockers Craang set up a dynamic quickly on their new two-song full-length, Shine (also stylized as S H IN E) that both encourages and rewards patience and trust on the part of the listener. They begin 24:52 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Horizon – Tempest” quietly and commence to unfold through ebbs and flows, clean vocals and shouts, open spaces and dense(r) riffing. There is a break near and at the halfway point that presumably is the shift between one part of “Horizon – Tempest” and the other, and the second half follows that lead with a more active presentation. The accompanying “Ocean – Cellular” (19:41) launches with a bed of synth that fades as the bass, drums and guitar enter and begin a linear build that retains a progressive edge, dropping off at about eight minutes in perhaps as another transition into “Cellular,” which indeed follows a more winding, intricate path. One can only say Craang are clear in their representation of what they want to convey, and because of that, Shine is all the more of an engaging experience, the listener essentially following the band on this journey from place to place, idea to idea.

Craang on Thee Facebooks

Craang on Bandcamp

 

Fuzz Lord, Fuzz Lord

Fuzz Lord fuzz lord

We start at “The Gates of Hell” and end up in “Infamous Evil,” so one might say Ohio trio Fuzz Lord – guitarist Steven “Fuzz Lord” joined by bassist/vocalist “Stoner” Dan Riley and drummer/vocalist Lawrence “Lord Buzz” – have their thematic well set on their eight-track self-titled debut (on Fuzzdoom Records). Likewise, their tones and the sense of space in the echoing vocals of “Kronos Visions Arise” and the later, extra-Sabbathian “World Collide” seem to know precisely where they’re headed. Riley recorded the 39-minute outing, while Justin Pizzoferrato (Elder, Dinosaur Jr., many others) mixed, and the resulting conjuration is earthbound in its low end while allowing the guitar to either roll out riffy largesse or take an airier approach. The uptempo “The Lord of the Underground” speaks to a punker underpinning, while the preceding “The Warriors Who Reign” seems to have a more classic metal take, and “Infamous Evil,” also the longest track at 7:51, peppers in layered guitar leads amid a doomier, Luciferian vibe and fervent hook.

Fuzz Lord on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzdoom Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Marijannah, Till Marijannah

Marijannah till marijannah

Comprised of members of Wormrot and The Caulfield Cult, Singapore-based newcomers Marijannah execute four tracks of blown-out tones and psychedelic cavernousness with their Pink Tank Records debut release, Till Marijannah. Touches of garage swing make their way into opener “1974,” and second cut “Snakecharmer” blazes and scorches with wah-drenched solos around crunching rhythms and melodic vocalizations. A march emerges on the nine-minute “Bride of Mine” and only gets more fervent as the track makes its way forward, and driving finale “All Hollow’s Eve” presents a cacophonous but controlled take from Marijannah that reinforces the notion of nothing on their first outing happening by accident. Impressive and just a bit frenetic, it leaves one wondering what further ground the band might look to explore from here, whether they’ve set their sonic course and will look to refine their processes along these lines or whether this is just the beginning of a wider stylistic melding, and their next offering might sound completely different than Till Marijannah. The one seems as likely as the other, and that’s incredibly refreshing.

Marijannah on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Cosmic Fall, In Search of Outer Space

cosmic fall in search of outer space

Immediate points to Berlin jammers Cosmic Fall for opening their six-song/43-minute third album, In Search of Outer Space, with the 11-minute longest track “Jabberwocky.” The three-piece introduced new guitarist Marcin Marowski last year on Jams for Free (review here), and as bassist Klaus Friedrich steps up to take the vocalist role and drummer Daniel Sax continues to hold together impossible spaciousness with a fluidity of groove, Marowski seems right at home wah-noodling in the open reaches of “Jabberwocky” and soldering shred and swirl together on the later “Lumberjam.” Some of In Search of Outer Space’s most effective moments are its quietest, as on “Purification” or second cut “Narcotic Vortex,” but neither will I decry the bass fuzz that takes hold near the finish there or the molten churn that bookends closer “Icarus,” but as “Spacejam” hits into the vastness, it seems Cosmic Fall as just as apt to float as to rocket their way out of the atmosphere. In either case, they most certainly get there.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Orion Fenix

owl orion fenix

The solo-project of Christian Kolf of avant death-crunchers Valborg, Owl issues the 22-minute single-song EP Orion Fenix – with its chanting repetitions of “reborn in fire” – as a precursor to the upcoming LP, Nights in Distortion. Like Owl’s last EP, 2015’s wondrously dark Aeon Cult (review here), Orion Fenix is both intense churn and slow-rolling melancholy, bridging a gap between classic doom (that lead 15 minutes in) and post-doom rhythms and atmosphere. If the project’s purpose is to find beauty in darkness, Orion Fenix accomplishes this quickly enough, but the track’s runtime and lush layering allow Kolf to lend a sense of exploration to what is no doubt a meticulous creative process, since he’s handling all the instruments and vocals himself. Either way, Orion Fenix, as a herald, bodes remarkably well for forward progress on Nights in Distortion to come, and is a remarkable accomplishment on its own in both heft and spaciousness.

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Owl on Bandcamp

 

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Owl Set March 23 Release for Orion Fenix EP; Announce New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

owl

Yes. This. There are two announcements from Christian Kolf‘s Owl project — an offshoot of his main band, Valborg — that released its last EP, Aeon Cult (review here), in 2015, and both present good news from the thoroughly-dark metal outfit. The first is that a new 20-minute single-song EP titled Orion Fenix is due out March 23 as a digital release. I’ve heard it and it’s beastly. Really. Weighted in atmosphere and tone, its depths are just waiting to swallow listeners whole.

The second — and this is where things get even more interesting — is that Owl, will make a debut on Temple of Torturous this Spring with Nights in Distortion, which is the band’s third full-length behind a 2013’s You are the Moon, I am the Night and a 2011 self-titled. From no Owl to lots of Owl. This is a good transition for 2018 to be making.

I’m sure more details are to come about Nights in Distortion, but here’s some most welcome initial word from the PR wire:

owl orion fenix

Owl – Valborg’s Christian Kolf Solo Project Announce Third Album “Nights In Distortion”

Valborg’s guitarist/vocalist Christian Kolf will release the anticipated third album from his solo project Owl this spring, marking the band’s debut for Temple Of Torturous Records.

Nearly three years in the making, the new album is titled “Nights In Distortion” and will be preceded by an EP, a 20-minute track titled “Orion Fenix” that is set for release digitally on March 23rd.

Freedom in emotion, creativity, and sound has been the perpetual fuel for Owl and is again at the heart of its first offering since the release of acclaimed EP, ‘Aeon Cult’ over two years ago. Its creator describes its birth as, “There was no big thinking behind it, I just wrote it and that’s it. Let my feelings go”; an organic conception breeding a truly instinctive exploration in the shape of “Orion Fenix”.

The track also embraces a doom metal exploration; further evolution in a sound which from the occult death metal tone of the 2011 self-titled debut album has equally had the freedom to find its own voice each and every time as evidenced through its successor, ‘You Are the Moon, I Am the Night’ two years later and successive EPs and tracks. Though, a true individual in the Owl creative landscape, “Orion Fenix” is also an inescapable appetiser for the forthcoming unveiling of what will be, the equally unique ‘Nights In Distortion’ through Temple of Torturous Records.

https://www.facebook.com/owlmetal
https://www.facebook.com/ToTRecords
http://templeoftorturous.com

Owl, Aeon Cult EP (2015)

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Quarterly Review: Motörhead, Owl, Waingro, Frank Sabbath, The Sonic Dawn, Spelljammer, Necro & Witching Altar, Stone Machine Electric, Pale Horseman, Yo Moreno

Posted in Reviews on January 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review winter

Pushing through the first batch of reviews and into the second. Always seems easier on the downhill somehow, but if the worst thing that ever happens is I have to put on 10 records a day, you aren’t likely to hear me complain. Today we get deeper into the round, and that while I’ll note that the context for today’s first review has changed decidedly for the unfortunate since it was slated for inclusion in this roundup, I’m trying still to take it on its own level, which is what any record deserves, regardless of its circumstances. No sense in delaying. Let’s go.

Quarterly review #11-20:

Motörhead, Bad Magic

Print

The four ‘X’es on the cover of Motörhead’s 23rd album, Bad Magic (on UDR Music) are placed there each to represent a decade of the band’s existence, and while the context of the 13-track/42-minute offering will be forever changed due to the recent passing of iconic frontman/bassist Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister and because the remaining members – guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee – have said it will be their final new studio release, it goes to show that one of metal and punk’s most landmark acts came in raging and went out raging. To wit, barnburners like “Thunder and Lightning” and “Teach Them How to Bleed” are quintessential Motörhead, and the propulsive “Shoot out All of Your Lights” is a blueprint for both their righteousness and relentlessness. A closing Rolling Stones cover of “Sympathy for the Devil” borders on poignant in hindsight, but on cuts like “Evil Eye,” “Electricity” and “Tell Me Who to Kill,” Bad Magic is basically Motörhead being Motörhead, which was of course what they did best.

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UDR Music

Owl, Aeon Cult

owl aeon cult

Topped off with some of the least-pleasant cover art one might (n)ever ask to see, the Aeon Cult EP is the third from German progressive sludge outfit Owl in two years’ time after two initial full-lengths. It comprises three songs that span genres from the slow-motion lurch of “The Abyss” to deathly intricacy – preceded by a groove that doesn’t so much roll as slam – on “Ravage” to an atmospheric extremity of purpose on “Mollusk Prince,” and is over in a whopping eight and a half minutes. Seriously, that’s it. At the center of the tempest are multi-instrumentalis/vocalist Christian Kolf, also of Valborg, and drummer Patrick Schroeder, formerly of Valborg, who elicit inhuman heft and bleakness across a relatively brief but nonetheless challenging span, and who seem to revel in the melted-plastic consistency of the sounds they create. Creative rhythms and ambience-enhancing keyboard work give Aeon Cult a futuristic edge, and if this is the world into which we’re headed, we should all be terrified.

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Zeitgeister Music

Waingro, Mt. Hood

waingro mt hood

The self-titled debut from Vancouver trio Waingro (review here) was a half-hour affair brimming with intensity and forward motion, and while the band’s second outing, Mt. Hood, follows suit tonally and in its neo-progressive thrust, the 11-track outing also provides a richer all-around experience and shows marked growth on the part of the band. “Desert Son” opens the album with an expansive solo section and intricate vocal layering to go with its metallic crunch, and while Waingro keep a short, efficient songwriting process at their core, that track and the slower, seven-minute “Mt. Hood” show their process has become more malleable as well. Likewise, while the methods don’t ultimately change much, shorter instrumental pieces like “Raleigh” on the first half of the album and the rolling “Frontera” on the second add variety of structure and make Mt. Hood as a whole feel more widespread, which, of course, it is. Waingro still have plenty of intensity on offer throughout, but their sophomore LP proves there’s more to them than unipolar drive.

Waingro on Thee Facebooks

Waingro on Bandcamp

Frank Sabbath, Frank Sabbath

frank sabbath frank sabbath

A self-titled debut full-length that breaks down into two subsections – the first is tracks one through five and is titled Emerald Mass and the second is tracks six through 12 and is titled The Quétu – clearly the intentions behind Frank Sabbath’s opening statement are complex. All well and good, but more importantly, the work of the Parisian trio of guitarist/vocalist Jude Mas, bassist Guillaume Jankowski and bassist Baptiste Reig is cohesive across the record’s 12-track span, and those two parts not only meld the songs that make them up together fluidly, but work set one into the next to bring a full-album flow to the proceedings, spanning classic progressive (the kind that’s not afraid to let the guitars get jazzy) rock and psychedelic mind-meld into a sometimes-strange, sometimes-in-Spanish brew of potent lysergics. The three-piece set a vast range from “Waves in Your Brain” onward and wind up delivering the “Fucking Moral,” which seems to be “Never be afraid of who you are/Never be ashamed of what you are.” Clearly, while their moniker might be playing off acts who came before, Frank Sabbath are not afraid to stand on their own sonically.

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Frank Sabbath on Bandcamp

The Sonic Dawn, Perception

the sonic dawn perception

Sweet soul and classic psychedelic methods pervade The Sonic Dawn’s Perception (on respected purveyor Nasoni Records) debut album, and the Copenhagen trio of guitarist/vocalist Emil Bureau, bassist Neil Bird and drummer Jonas Waaben find an easy, spacious flow through songs that, despite being relatively straightforward, retain an expansive feel. Shades of Jimi Hendrix and The Doors make themselves felt early on, but Bureau’s voice shifts smoothly into and out of falsetto and the tonally The Sonic Dawn seem immediately in search of their own identity. The effects-soaked finish of “All the Ghosts I Know” and the apex of “Wild at Heart” would seem to indicate success in that process, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they push the psychedelic impulses of “Watching Dust Fall” even further their next time out, and if they can do so while holding onto the accessible foundation of Perception, all the better. An impressive debut from a three-piece who do right in making a show of their potential.

The Sonic Dawn on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records

Spelljammer, Ancient of Days

spelljammer ancient of days

Ancient of Days follows two impressive EPs from Swedish tonal constructionists Spelljammer (on RidingEasy), and is the trio’s full-length debut, a pretense-less 39-minute offering that basks in post-Sleep riff idolatry while leaving room in a cut like the 12-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Meadow” for nodding atmospherics as well. “Meadow” and the 11-minute closer “Borlung” sandwich the rest of Ancient of Days, which moves between the acoustic minimalism of the quick “Laelia” to the already-gone centerpiece “From Slumber,” which rises gradually, swells in its midsection, and recedes again – beautifully – and the eight-minute groove-roller “The Pathfiner,” which would be the apex of the record if not for the crashing finale of “Borlung,” which churns and plods and caps the record – how else? – with a swirl into empty space. Following a cult response to 2012’s Vol. II EP, that Spelljammer would deliver big on their debut album isn’t necessarily a surprise, but it remains striking just how easy it is to get lost in the morass of riffs and outward vibes they present in these five cuts. Should’ve been on my Best Debuts of 2015 list.

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RidingEasy Records

Witching Altar & Necro, Split

necro witching altar split

This doomy twofer from Hydro-Phonic Records plants a veritable garden of unearthly delights in bringing together Brazilian doom outfits Witching Altar and Necro and highlighting the similarities and the differences between them. Pressed to CD late in 2015 with vinyl impending, it offers four cuts from Witching Altar, whose take on doom is ultra-traditional to the point of working in a Sabbathian “All right now!” for “She Rides the Seventh Beast,” and three from Necro (shortened from Necronomicon), a yet-unheralded trio of ‘70s progressive traditionalists who offer up the new single “Contact” and two tracks revisited from their two to-date full-lengths. Both prove immersive in their own right, Witching Altar setting a course for weird quickly on “The Monolith” which some theremin that reappears later, and Necro vibing out on the warm bassline of “Holy Planet Yamoth,” but each has their own ideas about what makes classic doom so classic, and the arguments on both sides are persuasive.

Necro on Thee Facebooks

Witching Altar on Thee Facebooks

Hydro-Phonic Records

Stone Machine Electric, The Amazing Terror

stone machine electric the amazing terror

One never knows quite what to expect from Texas two-piece Stone Machine Electric, and that seems to be precisely how the duo of guitarist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer/thereminist Mark Kitchens like it. The Amazing Terror is something of a stopgap EP, released on CDR by the band as a follow-up to late-2014’s Garage Tape (review here) and a lead-in for their next full-length, reportedly recorded last month with Wo Fat’s Kent Stump at the helm. Taken from the Garage Tape sessions, The Amazing Terror makes a standout of its languid, jammy title-track and surrounds it by three more instances of the band’s exploratory ideology, delving into the quietly cosmic on “Before the Dream” and feeding a cyclical delay expanse on closer “Passage of Fire,” a likely companion-piece to the opening “Becoming Fire,” which may or may not play thematically into where Stone Machine Electric are headed with their next record. As always with these guys, I wouldn’t dare place a bet either way and look like a fool on the other side.

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Stone Machine Electric on Bandcamp

Pale Horseman, Bless the Destroyer

pale horseman bless the destroyer

Chicago post-sludgers Pale Horseman featured a remix by Justin K. Broadrick (Godflesh/Jesu), originally on their 2013 self-titled debut, on their second outing, 2014’s Mourn the Black Lotus (review here), and their third full-length, Bless the Destroyer, boasts a mixing job by Noah Landis of Neurosis. All three records were also recorded by Bongripper guitarist Dennis Pleckham, so it seems fair to say that Pale Horseman know who they want to work with and why. The results on Bless the Destroyer speak for themselves. With the 15-minute penultimate cut “Bastard Child” as an obvious focal point, the four-piece give a clear sense of progression in terms of their patience and overall range. The earlier “Caverns of the Templar” still boasts plenty of post-Godflesh chugging intensity – elements of death metal, see also centerpiece “Pineal Awakening” – but closer “Olduvai Gorge” sleeks along with a poise that even in 2013 Pale Horseman would’ve driven into the ground on their way to doing the same to everything else in their path. Their growth has made their approach more individual, and it suits them well.

Pale Horseman on Thee Facebooks

Pale Horseman on Bandcamp

Yo, Moreno, Yo, Moreno EP

yo moreno yo moreno ep

A self-titled four-track debut EP from Argentina heavy rockers Yo, Moreno finds the band coming out swinging. The San Miguel de Tucumán-based four-piece of vocalist Marcos Martín, guitarist Lucas Bejar, bassist Noel Bejar and drummer Omar Bejar elicit a surprisingly aggro mood on “A Lot of Pot,” the opener, but groove remains paramount, and fuzz abounds. “Noelazarte” is more adventurous all around, an early build setting a tone with prevalent bass before Martín comes in after the halfway mark. Since “Para Noico” returns to the angrier spirit of “A Lot of Pot” and closer “3,000” heads outward on an instrumental exploration that blends grounded, weighted tones with spacier impulses, it seems easy to think that someone, somewhere would pick Yo, Moreno up for a 10” release. Especially as their first offering, it skillfully blends doomier atmospheres with fuzz-heavy nods, and stakes its claim in a niche that’s never completely one side or the other. Even formative as it is, it’s an intriguing blend.

Yo, Moreno on Thee Facebooks

Yo, Moreno on Bandcamp

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Owl to Release Aeon Cult EP Oct. 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

owl (Photo by Dominik Brüchler)

Helmed by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Christian Kolf, also of Valborg, and not to be confused with any number of other acts operating under the moniker, Owl will issue its latest EP, Aeon Cult, on Oct. 8 via Bandcamp. I guess it’s fair to call the artwork… striking? Not really sure what Kolf might’ve been going for there, but I’d be interested to find out. His last EP, The Last Walk, was released last fall and was a single-song/25-minute work. Aeon Cult is made up of three tracks and follows Valborg‘s earlier 2015 offering, Romantik.

The PR wire brings art and info:

owl aeon cult

OWL: Doom Metal Visionary Announces New EP Aeon Cult To Be Released Digitally on October 8th via Bandcamp

OWL is set to return once again!

After two EPs, the crushing Into The Absolute (May 2014) and the monolithic dirge The Last Walk (November 2014), he is now back with Aeon Cult. His latest EP includes three ultra-heavy, crushing and apocalyptic songs, focused on a crushing groove for both strength and relief.

The EP will be released digitally via Bandcamp on October 8th 2015.

Regarding OWL’s continual progression, main man Christian Kolf states:

“OWL is still progressing its boundaries to manifest that this project is not about one style that is easy definable. It’s not about a marketing strategy, this is pure emotional stuff that comes directly from the heart. As always, OWL’s music is created quickly and spontaneously, at the right time and intuitively.”

Beside his main band Valborg, who recently released their 5th album Romantik via Temple Of Torturous, Kolf is indeed a busy man: almost every 6 months he releases new music.

The mix and mastering, as well as drum programming was handled by the marvelous Auré Pereira (Uneven Structure) at Flatcurve Studio.

A collaboration of trust and freedom that happened quickly through mutual respect. If you are on the same wave, no words are needed.

Kolf is already working on a full-length album feat. Patrick Schroeder on drums, who played on previous OWL releases Owl, You Are the Moon, I Am the Night, and Into The Absolute.

https://zeitgeister.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-absolute
http://owlmetal.tumblr.com//
https://www.facebook.com/owlmetal
https://soundcloud.com/owlmetal
https://zeitgeister.bandcamp.com/
http://www.zeitgeistermusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/zeitgeistermusic

Owl, The Last Walk (2014)

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Owl to Release The Last Walk on Nov. 19

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 21st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

owl

The ink barely dry on earlier-this-year’s Into the Absolute EP, German death-doom outfit Owl have announced a follow-up short release, The Last Walk, to be issued next month on Zeitgeister Music. The Bonn-based project of Christian KolfOwl switches off between blurring and demolishing genre lines, as Into the Absolute showed, songs like “Unearthly Arcana” pushing into progressive death and black metals while the opening title-track recalled slow-motion Meshuggah chugging and post-metal atmospheric churn and the brief, ambient “Apparition” added ghostly malevolence to the surrounding tonal crush. What Kolf, who may or may not still be joined by drummer Patrick Schroeder in the band, might come up with over the course of a single 25-minute stretch is something to look forward to finding out.

Ever reliable in this regard, the PR wire brings details of the new release. I’ve also included the Bandcamp stream of Into the Absolute should you feel compelled to dig in:

owl the last walk

OWL: German Death/Doom Obscurists Return With 25 Minute Opus “The Last Walk”

Epic Track to be Released as Digital Download via Zeitgeister on November 19th

Less than 6 months after the crushing release of their Into The Absolute EP, OWL are preparing to return with a 25-minute opus entitled The Last Walk.

On this release OWL continue their ever-evolving and unpredictable path by combining their ambient style with sorrowful doom metal, influenced by bands such as My Dying Bride, early Anathema, Nadja, Dead Can Dance, alongside ambient music as well as band leader Christian Kolf’s experimental project Gruenewald.

The Last Walk was written, recorded, and produced by Kolf in his own DH Studios from March – September 2014. Mastering was done by Simon Hawemann at Sludge Studios.

The song will be available as a digital download via Zeitgesiter on November 19th.

https://zeitgeister.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-absolute
http://owldeathmetal.tumblr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/owlzg
https://zeitgeister.bandcamp.com/
http://www.zeitgeistermusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/zeitgeistermusic

Owl, Into the Absolute (2014)

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