Quarterly Review: Eight Bells, Öken, Brimstone Coven, Pants Exploder, Shallows, Monumentum, Famyne, Ethereal Riffian, Wet Cactus, Forming the Void

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

I thought yesterday went pretty well, by which I mean I didn’t receive any complaints that somebody’s name was spelled wrong (yet), so I feel alright going into the second batch of releases for the Quarterly Review. Today mixes it up a bit, which is something I always enjoy doing with these, and while I’ll take pains to emphasize that the list of releases today, as with every day, isn’t in order, there was no way I wasn’t going to start with the first record below. Some albums just demand top placement.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Eight Bells, Landless

eight bells landless

However you define the word “heavy” as it relates to music, Eight Bells are it. The Portland, Oregon, trio release their second album and first for Battleground Records in the form of the five-track Landless, and from the opening sprawl and lumber of “Hating” through the crawling-plus-blasting chaos of “Touch Me,” a strong progressive current underscores the material – most notably the 13-minute title-track, but really the rest as well, which flows gracefully even in its harshest moments, the blackened rush in the second half of “Landless,” for example, which follows psychedelic drones and harmonies just minutes before, or the similar thrust of centerpiece “Hold My Breath,” which works in tighter quarters but manages to span genres all the same. “The Mortal’s Suite” provides some respite in airy guitar and airier vocals, giving new drummer Rae Amitay a break while showcasing the harmonies of guitarist Melynda Jackson (ex-SubArachnoid Space) and bassist Haley Westeiner. As open atmospherically as the band is in their creative scope, there just isn’t a level on which Landless isn’t superb.

Eight Bells on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records

 

Öken, Öken

oken oken

Swedish four-piece Öken do themselves huge favors by refusing to be easily categorized on their 2015 self-titled Ozium Records debut full-length, which runs an immersive 62 minutes and blends doom, classic heavy/desert rock and forest psych with subtle grace throughout its eight tracks, each of which is fleshed out in an overarching naturalist atmosphere. “Väktaren” dives headfirst into boogie only after initial minimalist teasing, and “Crimson Moon” bursts to life after a hypnotic psychedelic opening to find its crux in later runs of dueling guitars. The two closing cuts, “Under Vår Sol” and “Cuauhtémoc” are an album unto themselves, the former nodding initially at Sungrazer’s serene vibes before pushing into even more open psychedelic territory, and the latter proffering riffy largesse en route to a striking classic prog finish. That Öken make these elements work side-by-side and transition from one to the other fluidly is emblematic of the confidence at work in the band, and they carry their scope with organic-sounding ease.

Öken on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records

 

Brimstone Coven, Black Magic

brimstone coven black magic

West Virginian roots doomers Brimstone Coven made their debut on Metal Blade in 2015 with a self-titled EP compilation (track stream here), and Black Magic is their first full-length. Its 10 tracks/54 minutes take cues varyingly from classic heavy rock, doom and the less majestic side of the NWOBHM, but Brimstone Coven’s approach is marked out by the extensive use of vocal harmonies on cuts like the prog-tinged “Beyond the Astral,” the later moments of raw-roller “Upon the Mountain” and “The Plague.” Black Magic’s production is barebones enough that this singing – credited solely to “Big John” Williams, while Corey Roth handles guitar, Andrew D’Cagna bass and Justin Wood drums – doesn’t really soar so much as nestle in and enhance the begging-for-vinyl analog-worship of the instruments surrounding, a proliferation of cultish themes distinguishing Brimstone Coven even as a song like “The Seers” finds them inheriting a trad-doom soulfulness from The Gates of Slumber.

Brimstone Coven on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records

 

Pants Exploder, Pants Exploder

pants exploder pants exploder

Between its vicious aggression, inhumane chug and have-fun-enduring-this stomp, the self-titled, self-released debut LP from Pants Exploder could just as easily be definitive New York noise, but the low-end heft of their assault right from opener “It’s Ok, I’m Wiccan.” (punctuation included in title) has an element of early-Mastodonic lumber, and that’s a thread that continues throughout “End of the World” and “You Don’t Strike Me as a Reader,” which offsets its slab-of-concrete-on-your-chest push with moments of respite, but remains driving in its intensity. As in, driving your head into the ground. Also the ground is pavement. It’s fucking heavy, is the point. To wit, the mega-plod of “Um, I Curated an Art Show in College, So…” and thrust of “God Has a Plan for Me.” Capping with the seven-minute “You Smug Bastard,” Pants Exploder pays off the tension they build in a noise-wash fury that is as impressive as it is scathing.

Pants Exploder on Thee Facebooks

Pants Exploder on Bandcamp

 

Shallows, The Moon Rises

shallows the moon rises

The rather ominous The Moon Rises EP is the first non-demo offering from Asheville, North Carolina, four-piece Shallows, who blend heavy psychedelic and grunge influences across its five tracks, opener “Shimmering” and closer “Distance” mirroring each other’s spacious push while between, “Zero,” “A Mile Beneath” and the Earth-influenced “The Barn Burning” enact gorgeous vocal harmonies between Cameron Zarrabzadeh and HannahLynn Cruey atop atmospheric heavy rock, hitting into Alice in Chains-meets-Kylesa territory on the centerpiece, “A Mile Beneath,” which is a fair bit of ground to cover. That cut is the high point in showcasing Shallows’ potential, but the Western take with “The Barn Burning” and meandering post-rock echoes and organ of “Distance” only add to the breadth of this impressive, too-short collection. With a focus consistently kept on ambience throughout, The Moon Rises flows like a full-length album, and so bodes that much better for what Shallows will be able to accomplish when they get there. I’ll look forward to it.

Shallows on Thee Facebooks

Shallows on Bandcamp

 

Monumentum, The Killer is Me

monumentum the killer is me

Even before they get to the all the aggro fuzz riffing, there’s a distinct threat of violence in Monumentum’s The Killer is Me. Its four songs, “Noose,” “Whore,” “Fiend and Foe” and “Killer Me,” each seem to find the Norwegian band doling out noise-influenced heavy rock, driven by some underlying dissatisfaction on this, their first EP. Released on vinyl through Blues for the Red Sun Records, it offsets being so outwardly pissed off through groove, the starts and stops of “Killer Me” and the rolling seven minutes of opener and longest track “Noose” (immediate points) both marked out for both their tonal weight and the force with which Monumentum push their material forward – not speedy, though “Whore” is by no means slow, but dense and emitting a residual tension all the same. Somewhat unipolar in its mood, The Killer is Me still manages to give an initial impression of what Monumentum are about sound-wise, and provides them with a solid start to work from.

Monumentum on Thee Facebooks

Blues for the Red Sun Records

 

Famyne, Famyne

famyne famyne

While the UK isn’t at all short on doom or sludge at this point, Canterbury five-piece Famyne distinguish themselves on their self-titled first EP with a traditional take and the at-times theatric harmonies of vocalist Tom Vane. Along with guitarists Alex Tolson and Alex Williams, bassist Chris Travers and drummer Jake Cook, Vane nods at Alice in Chains on lumbering opener “Enter the Sloth” without going full-on “hey whoa momma yeah” and provides a considerable frontman presence, particularly for a debut recording. Comprising three songs with the speedier bonus track “Long Lost Winter” as an add-on download with the CD version, Famyne’s Famyne EP finds its crux in the nod and push of the 10-minute “The Forgotten,” which takes a cue atmospherically from The Wounded Kings but finds its own, less-cultish niche in bringing new energy to classic doom and setting in motion a progression that already puts an individual stamp on established tenets.

Famyne on Thee Facebooks

Famyne on Bandcamp

 

Ethereal Riffian, Youniversal Voice

ethereal riffian youniversal voice

There’s patient, and then there’s Ethereal Riffian, whose riffy ritualizing and exploration nonetheless brims with some intangible energetic sensibility on their new live outing, Youniversal Voice. Heavy psychedelic wash, thick riffs, theatric vocals and guitar effects, stoner roll and the occasional fit of shredding, one might hear any of it at a given point in over-12-minute cuts like “Wakan Tanka” and “Anatman,” the latter which arrives as the penultimate of the eight-song/56-minute set. The clarity, for being a live album, is remarkable, and Ethereal Riffian add to the experience with a CD version that includes a candle, elaborate packaging and artwork, and tea, so the multi-sensory impression is obviously important, and where many live outings are throwaways or a means of bowing to contractual obligation, Youniversal Voice adds to Ethereal Riffian’s studio work a substantial ambassasorial feel, conveying an onstage vibe with a fullness of sound and clarity of mind not often heard.

Ethereal Riffian on Thee Facebooks

Ethereal Riffian on Bandcamp

 

Wet Cactus, Wet Cactus

wet cactus wet cactus

Desert rock trio Wet Cactus don’t make any bones about where they’re getting their influence from on their late-2015 self-titled second EP. By the time they get around to the penultimate “The Road” on the five-track/24-minute outing, they’ve dug themselves in deep into the worship of crunchy Kyuss-style riffing, and you can throw in looks for Unida, Queens of the Stone Age, Slo Burn and whoever else of that milieu, but Kyuss is at the root of it all anyway. Less grand in their production than UK outfit Steak, who operated in similar territory on their 2014 debut LP, Slab City, Wet Cactus keep it natural in the tradition of their forebears, and while there’s room for them to grow into a more individual approach, the hazy fuckall in closer “World’s Law” has a stoner charm before and after it kicks into a punkish push to close out. Cool vibe either way, and the tone is dead on. If these cats go jammier, watch out.

Wet Cactus on Thee Facebooks

Odio Sonoro

 

Forming the Void, Skyward

forming the void skyward

I won’t say a bad word about the artwork of David Paul Seymour in the context of this review or any other, but ultimately, Louisiana doomers Forming the Void are coming from someplace much more in line with progressive metal than the three-eyed goat and robed figures on the cover of their second album, Skyward, might represent. Again, that’s not a knock on Seymour, or for that matter, the band, just that the look of the record is deceptive, dogwhistling stonerisms even as moody cuts like the opening title-track and “Three Eyed Gazelle” – while thoroughly doomed in their vibe – prove more lucidly constructed. That holds true through the chugging centerpiece “Saber” as well, marked out by vocal harmonizing, and “Return Again,” which rolls through atmospheric metal and an ambient interlude to enact the record’s most memorable payoff and set up the linear course of the more patient closer “Sleepwalker.” Cohesive in mood and clearly plotted, Skyward is ultimately darker and more driven than it might at first appear.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Forming the Void on Bandcamp

 

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Vokonis Sign to Ozium Records; Enter Studio in Feb.

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

vokonis

My favorite part of the bio below for Swedish newcomers Vokonis, who released an impressive debut EP called Temple (review here) under their original moniker of Creedsmen Arise, is when it says, “The lyrics are about war between ancient kingdoms in lost galaxies, legendary swords and diseases of a bygone era.” I can only hope “diseases of a bygone era” means stuff like pirate scurvy and rickets and things like that. Seems to me there’s some fodder there for heavy exploration that hasn’t yet been mined.

It was only a couple weeks ago that Vokonis announced the name change, and the word comes through today that they’ve been added to the roster of Ozium Records for the 2016 release of their debut album, which will be recorded in February at a yet-undisclosed location. Presumably a cave somewhere outside the band’s hometown of Borås. Either way, cheers to the trio and the imprint on what I’ve no doubt will be a riffy partnership, and here’s looking forward to finding out what kind of havoc Vokonis might wreak in their new incarnation.

Announcement follows:

vokonis logo

We are proud to have sign the band “VOKONIS”

Vokonis was created in the aftermath of Creedsmen Arise.

Based in Borås, Vokonis consists of Simon (guitar / vocals), Emil (drums) and Jonte (bass). They form a power trio with a heavy focus on fuzz, riffs and energy. The lyrics are about war between ancient kingdoms in lost galaxies, legendary swords and diseases of a bygone era.

Taking inspiration from bands such as Black Sabbath, Sleep, The Stooges and Entombed, Vokonis create their own identity.

Welcome to the family guys !!!!

Says the band:

Today we signed a record deal with Ozium Records. We couldn’t be any more excited to enter the studio in February.

Praise Iommi, Praise Ozium.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialVokonis/
http://oziumrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/oziumrecords/

Creedsmen Arise, Temple (2015)

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Mamont Remember the Good Times in “Airborne” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

And by “remember the good times” I mean like two months ago. Heavy rocking Swedish four-piece Mamont set out in February on a tour of Spain, and as they get ready to release their new EP, The Valleys Below, tomorrow through Ozium, Napalm Records and Bilocation Records — all different editions and limited numbers and so on — they’ve culled footage from that Spanish run and put it together as a video for the EP leadoff track, “Airborne.”

As previously noted, Mamont are headed out once again for a round of shows with Mud Walk, the tour having expanded to just under two weeks throughout Europe. The two bands teamed up last fall as well, so are well acquainted, and Mamont are also gearing up for their next full-length and the follow-up to 2012’s Passing through the Mastery Door (review here), so maybe they’ll come back with enough footage from these shows to put together another video for a song from that once the next record is put to tape.

Whether that’s how it plays out remains to be seen, but until then, “Airborne” looks like a good time:

Mamont, “Airborne” official video

Official music video for the song Airborne. From Mamont’s EP “The Valleys Below” (2014).

TRACKS
1. Airborne
2. Miranda
3. No Pills, No Power
4. Nebula VII
5. Morning Star

Footage from Mamont’s Spanish Tour (Feb-Mar 2014). Edited by Karl Adolfsson

We’ll hit the road once again with our lovely friends in Mud Walk! Looking forward to see you guys out there!

Tour dates:
May 09 – THE TIVOLI, Helsingborg (SE)
May 10 – UNGDOMSHUSET, Copenhagen (D)
May 11 – JÄGERKLAUSE, Berlin (DE)
May 13 – KLUB 007 STRAHOV, Prague (CZ)
May 14 – KULTURBAHNHOF, Jena (DE)
May 15 – DE ONDERBROEK, Nijmegen (NL)
May 16 – LE KLUB, Paris (FR)
May 17 – CRUMBLE FEST, Nantes (FR)
May 19 – ROCAS, Luxembourg (LUX)
May 21 – HEMGÅRDEN, Lund (SE)

Mamont on Thee Facebooks

Mamont at Napalm Records

Mamont at Kozmik Artifactz

Mamont at Ozium Records

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Mamont to Release New EP The Valleys Below on May 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Last we heard of Swedish jammy riffers Mamont, the four-piece were Passing through the Mastery Door on their 2012 debut long-player of the same name (review here). That album has had enduring appeal since it hit, the elephantine cover standing in as a representation of the Nyköping rockers’ ability to land a heavy foot when they wanted to and the fact that mammoths are extinct matching with their traditionalist approach. Primarily, their debut established them as a cool band worth keeping up with, so it’s not really much of a surprise they come so well aligned on the follow-up EP, titled The Valleys Below.

Due out May 9, Mamont‘s The Valleys Below will be available on vinyl through Napalm Records, on CD through Ozium Records and in an exclusive transparent blue vinyl pressing through Kozmik Artifactz. Seems there’s no substitute for being in demand.

Mamont will also partner up once again with Mud Walk for a run of shows in Europe. Dates, other info, preorder links, and album trailer follow, culled from Ozium‘s website and Mamont‘s Thee Facebooks:

Mamont’s second ep album revives the sounds of 70’s heavy classic rock. The mix of classic rock, progressive, blues and psychedelic brings the mind back to the days of BLUE CHEER, BLACK SABBATH and LEAFHOUND. The wha-wha, fuzz, slide, double riffs, thunderous drums and a killer voice, it’s all here. MAMONT’s second release has a thick and warm analog overall feel and heavy as it should be. The masterful songwriting and skilled performance is throughout. from High Time exploding right from the start with swelling drums and heavy riffs, in order to beautifully sliding over to a soft and melodic refrain. The ep album is nicely rounded off with the 30 minutes evil, heavy Stooner-ish leaving the listener pleased but craving for more. MAMONT are ready to face their fans with the brand new ep album “The Valleys Below” containing 5 solid hard-hitting, memorable songs. MAMONT carves its own path, and “The Valleys Bellow” establishes the band as one of catalysts aiming to change the face of classic heavy rock music for the better. Release date : 2014-05-09

1. Airbourne
2. Miranda
3. No Pills, No Power
4. Nebula VII
5. Morning Star

Pre-order soon at Napalm Records (Vinyl release).
Exclusive transparent blue vinyl at Kozmik Artifactz.
CD at Ozium Records.

Here’s some sweet news! We will hit the road once again with our lovely friends in Mud Walk this May! More European dates coming up!

Mamont & Mud Walk Tour:
9/5: Helsingborg, The Tivoli (SWE)
10/5: Copenhagen, Ungdomshuset (DEN)
11/5: Berlin, Jägerklause (GER)
14/5: Jena (GER)
15/5: Nijmegen, De onderbroek (NL)
17/5: Nantes, Crumble Fight Fest (FR)

http://mamontswe.com/
https://www.facebook.com/mamontswe
http://shop.napalmrecords.com/mamont
http://oziumrecords.com/shop/details/1306
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/

Mamont, The Valleys Below EP Trailer

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On the Radar: Weed Priest

Posted in On the Radar on April 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Irish bashers Weed Priest do it big on their self-titled debut. Exclusively. The six-track collection of thoroughly stoned riffs and burly echoes arrives in a green-tinted matte-finish digipak that gives little hint of the heft actually contained within the trio’s dark, vaguely cultish material, and it’s already received a due amount of “OMG”eification from critics drawn in by the album’s downtrodden melange of cycle after cycle of lumbering largesse, riff building on riff through telegraphed changes at minimal but still grooving paces, only ever getting up to speed to slouch back into its apparently terminal atmospheric defeat. Well fine. The record sounds big. And it’s heavy. There. I said it too.

More than that — because fucking everything is heavy — Weed Priest‘s Weed Priest is impeccably produced to maximize that heaviness, and though one might think I’m just gearing up to toss out an Electric Wizard comparison, I’m actually not going to do it. The Galway-based trio of Adrian Elatha (drums), Ragas Walpurgis (bass) and Adam de Monlung (guitar/vocals) have way, way more in common with Sleep than they do with thee Wizard — who are otherwise responsible for so much of the weedian fare coming out of the Isles — but I guess if you want to take it all to its most primordial level, it’s all Sabbath at heart, and Weed Priest show little interest in shying away from that, a Zoroaster-type semi-psychedelia emerging out of the Ufomammut-style stomp of their extended opener “Final Spell.” It’s a cool sound, and they put it to solid use across the self-titled, the cavernous vocal sound giving even the shorter “Erichtho” — a paltry seven minutes long — a consistency in its sense of space with the opener or the later “Weed Priest” and “Day of Reckoning” to come.

The band formed in 2008, this is their first official release following a 2011 demo, and if what you’re looking for is a bash-you-over-the-head-with-tone onslaught of pot and horror worship (a clip from the 1972 movie The Devil starts off), then there’s little about Weed Priest‘s Weed Priest that isn’t going to be your favorite new Bandcamp link. A marching chug on “Walpurgia” pretty much sums up the crux of the full-length: It’s not about reinventing stoner metal or doom so much as taking the familiar and making it their own. I don’t know if caking it in reverb is enough to get that done over a long term, but they did hit on a distinct sound for their first long-player that at least gives them a base to work from next time out, and as “Thy Kingdom Gone” adds to the psychedelic push in its midsection en route to the massive one-two punch of “Weed Priest” and “Day of Reckoning,” there’s nothing to say Weed Priest don’t have something to offer beneath their resin-coated exterior for those who’d pay their debut repeat visits.

I’d be interested to hear how they cut their runtime down perhaps to accommodate a future vinyl offering, hitting around 40 minutes instead of Weed Priest‘s just under 61, but the longer stretch does work well to emphasize the repetition and the put-you-in-a-trance riffs, which seem to find their own morass between “Weed Priest” (11:14) and “Day of Reckoning” (13:52), neither song so much wandering into a jam as hammering down upon its central idea. For a bit of symmetry, “Day of Reckoning” echoes the sluggish thud of “Final Spell,” but really, it’s a symmetry that’s been present throughout the largely unipolar release, and though there are hints of melody in the guitar here and there, they’re so buried under the tonnage of the ultra-pivotal riffs around which the song is based, that it’s hard to keep focus on anything but that. Which is the idea. Which is why it works.

Weed Priest, Weed Priest (2013)

Weed Priest on Thee Facebooks

Weed Priest on Bandcamp

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Mamont Post New Video for “Stonehill Universe”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

To date, they’re not revolutionaries or anything like that, but I like Swedish four-piece Mamont. I dug their EP well enough, but with the cumbersomely-titled 2012 debut full-length, Passing through the Mastery Door (review here), it was easy to hear they were beginning a process of coming into their own, and that sensibility I almost always find exciting in an album. The band, based in Nyköping and Stockholm and previously interviewed here, seem bent on doing the work of a genuine creative progression — both in their songwriting and in terms of putting in time on the road — and in their new video for the track “Stonehill Universe,” they show that even a simple performance clip of a group in a room (or two) still has space to show a bit of individuality. I’m not the betting type, but I’m looking forward to hearing what Mamont do next, and this is fun in the meantime.

Enjoy:

Mamont, “Stonehill Universe” Official Video

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On the Radar: Methadone Skies

Posted in On the Radar on January 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

A four-piece hailing from Romania, Methadone Skies waste no time busying themselves balancing ethereal post-rock noodling off heavier-ended psychedelic grooves. Periodically driving but never quite losing its focus despite an obvious jam-based ethic, their second album, Enter the Void, arrived in 2012 as a self-released sleeve CD preceding an allegiance with Sweden-based Ozium Records. The six-track offering sandwiches lengthy explorations with even lengthier explorations, the opening title-track topping out at 13:36 as the longest of the bunch (immediate points) while its closing companion piece, “Exit the Void” answers back at 11:54. Between, “Hyperspace,” “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” “Versus Evil,” and “Mudstar” tap into modern heavy psych ethics like they’re trying to bridge the gap between Russian Circles and Colour Haze. Frankly, it’s not a bad gap to bridge.

Both guitarists — Wehry and the more effects-laden Casi, who also handles keys — satisfy on a tonal level, with rich and warm fuzz that melds well with the echoing lead notes peppered throughout, as one can hear in the second half of “Hyperspace” on Enter the Void. The bass and drums provided by Mihai and Retea, respectively, are mostly relegated to a follower’s role, but  as “Hyperspace” slows to its finish and “Long Day’s Journey into Night” ensues, their presence is more than duly felt in the added heft to the capably executed instrumental builds, which seem to be as much about going from spaced-out to grounded as from calm to chaotic. It works, perhaps most of all on “Versus Evil” — the lead lines of which I’ll mark as the most memorable on the album — which finds its culmination after six minutes into its total 9:33 as the two guitars match step with the complex rhythm for a thickened, oddly-timed apex.

The level of noodling might be too much for some. They’re not exactly subtle about it. But for Methadone Skies‘ second outing behind 2010’s Explosions of the Sun, Enter the Void can offer an engrossing listen if approached with an open mind and willingness to go along with its hypnotic aspects. “Mudstar” is a bit crunchier, but “Exit the Void” re-ups the space elements and gives a solid tripout to close with, the leads taking a more active role early on with a cascading line only to give way later to thicker entanglements before ending with even more  echoing riffery and a surprisingly quick fade. One might have expected a long sustained echo or something like that, but I guess at 53 minutes in, Methadone Skies figured they’d said all there was to say. True enough, if you haven’t gotten the point by then, well, yeah.

Methadone Skies can be found upon Thee Facebooks, and Enter the Void is available for stream and purchase via Bandcamp, from whence this player comes:

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Six Dumb Questions with Mamont

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on October 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Swedish fuzz merchants Mamont know what they like. Their debut Ozium Records full-length, Passing through the Mastery Door (review here) is a collection of thickened stonerly grooves and heavy rocking jams, casting off the retro feel of the EP they recorded last year (review here) to take on a more modern style. It’s a time-tested formula, but the band use it to their advantage throughout the album’s eight tracks, chopping up familiar elements to recombine them into the massive stomp of “Mammuten” or the classic psychedelic quirk of “Stonehill Universe.”

The “new” recording aesthetic suits them well. The guitars of Karl Adolfsson and Jonathan Wårdsäter lead throughout with heavily Muff’ed distortion, bassist Victor Wårdsäter and drummer Jimmy Karlsson holding together the fuzzy expanses the music seems to be describing. They’re not quite through the mastery door yet in terms of settling the issue of their approach for once and all and thus halting creative growth — though the album is remarkably cohesive — but if the second-half jam of “The Secret of the Owl” is anything to go by, they’re enjoying the process of getting there up to this point.

With birdsong scattered throughout Passing through the Mastery Door, in the intro to the album at the beginning of “Mammuten” or before the penultimate interlude “Woods” takes hold with its sweet-sounding, acoustic-based serenity, Mamont offer a natural feel and never veer from that course throughout the record’s 42 minutes. Because this laid back vibe is pervasive, it’s easy to see them as aligned somewhat to the jammed-out sphere of modern European heavy psych, but Mamont are more straightforward in their songwriting and more traditionally stoner in their scope to really make that the case. In concept and execution, they stand out.

And in part, it was because of that that I hit up Karlsson with Six Dumb Questions, which he was kind enough to field with the answers below:

1. Tell me about the writing process for Passing through the Mastery Door. Was there something specific you wanted to do differently after the EP? It seems like the album came together pretty quickly. When were the songs written?

The plan was to first do a new EP with some songs that we had written last year. We liked the retro feeling on the old one, but we had started to experiment more with fuzz and wanted the next recording to have a more tone of stoner.

Then Ozium Records contacted us and wanted to sign the band. We said “fuck yeah” and started directly to discuss a full album. We didn’t have so much time to rehearse because I am studying in Stockholm (one hour from our hometown Nyköping), and we also had a lot of shows in the weekends.

Everyone seems to think that our old EP was released this year, but we recorded it 2011. It just got known to people outside Sweden earlier this year.

I came to live in Nyköping again in June and we had less than two weeks to prepare the album before we hit the studio. Three of the songs (“Creatures,” “Stonehill Universe” and “The Secret of the Owl”) were older ones that we have played a lot. The rest of the album was in fact done under these two weeks.

We then had one very intense week in Deep Blue Studios in Nyköping, the same studio where the EP was recorded. The song “Woods” is actually just the result of a jam in the studio. We wanted the album to land for a while, to then give you a punch in the face with “Satans Fasoner” (directly translated to Satan’s manners and means damn manners).

It was a bit of surreal feeling when the Swedish Armed Force had exercises in the area around the studio that week. Armed soldiers and tanks everywhere, and it was a hell of a job to record the beautiful birdsong we have on the album, because of the fucking helicopters.

2. One of the most striking differences between the EP and the full-length to me is the tone and how much thicker the album sounds. Was this done on purpose? What do you feel like a thicker tone gives to the band?

Yes, it was really on purpose. The three songs on the EP don’t have the heavy weight we want. And they’re much more stoner and heavy live. When we started the band the idea was to raise a creature that would become a big fucking runaway mammoth. The tone of the new album was set seconds after the song “Mammuten” (the mammoth) was written.
But we also really wanted to have the retro feeling and some psychedelic elements left. I think we have a good balance between the 70’s retro rock and the 90’s heavy stoner. A mix of everything we love.

3. I know the line is taken from the track “Stonehill Universe,” but what was behind choosing Passing through the Mastery Door for the album’s title? Was there something particular about that line or that song that stuck out in your minds?

That’s right. When we sat in the rehearse room Karl suddenly wrote the line on the over scribbled whiteboard. We looked at it and loved it. The album is a story and a journey, when you listen to it you choose to pass through the door. What then happens no one can know for sure. “Stonehill Universe” is the oldest song on the album and its lyrics and message reflect the entire album, the mastery door.

4. Sweden has a long history of so many great bands. Are there any Swedish artists who inspire what you do in Mamont? What is the heavy rock culture or scene like in Stockholm for a band like Mamont, releasing your first album? How has the response been to the band live?

A hell of a lot good Swedish bands inspire Mamont. Sometimes we feel very lucky to live in this small country that’s overfilled with really great bands. They’re everywhere and it’s awesome to get the privilege to play and get to know them.

Our influences come from both Swedish ‘70s prog rock and more modern stoner rock. Mamont is like a mix of the legendary band November and today’s Truckfighters. It’s a good description I think, if you want it on paper.

The heavy rock scene is really boiling right know in Sweden. In just a couple of years the stoner scene has grown as hell and a lot of underground bands have started to build up a wonderful family feeling with each other. The first album couldn’t come out in a better time. There’s a large wave of sand washing over right know and we’re on it. And yes, it’s sand. We played in a huge sandpit this summer. Krökbacken Festival was arranged by some dudes from Mushroom Caravan Overdrive. That place had a magical feeling and so much great underground bands. It really showed the face and future of the great Swedish heavy rock scene.

We have played the songs on the album live this summer and fall and the response has been fantastic. We’re from the small town Nyköping but we hope that we have built up a good reputation in Stockholm. The release party showed proof on that when it was packed full with a long queue outside the entire night.

5. There are a few shows coming up this month and in November/December, but will Mamont tour outside of Sweden to support the album? Are there any other gigs in the works maybe for 2013?

We have played really much recently and are now working on getting more gigs. Unfortunately we don’t have any shows planned for 2013, yet. We want to play as much as possible but right now we only can support the album live in Scandinavia.

But a discussion about touring Europe is going on right now. That’s our goal and we hope it will be true next summer or fall.

6. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

For the people that hate the CD format, we have some good news coming up.

Mamont on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records

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