Backwoods Payback Announce January Tour Supporting Royal Thunder

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

As they continue to support late-2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), Pennsylvania-based trio Backwoods Payback will hit the road for 11 shows alongside Royal Thunder this coming January. Most of the gigs are in the Southeast, but the tour starts out in Philly and hits Brooklyn before dipping back down the Eastern Seaboard to hit Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri and so on, and in addition to Royal Thunder and Backwoods Payback, the first four nights of the stint are set to feature Heavy Temple as well, which only bolsters the bill as far as I’m concerned.

I was lucky enough to see guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson perform earlier this year at Roadburn 2017 (review here) as part of their European tour with New Hampshire riffwreckers Scissorfight, and of the many times I’ve been fortunate to see them play, I can’t recall one where they sounded so completely on-all-cylinders. The material on Fire Not Reason is a joy of heavy rock combined with raw hardcore, metal and other elements, and their presentation has never been so tight. Am I telling you outright it’s worth showing up to see them play? Yes, yes I am.

They announced the tour thusly:

royal thunder backwoods payback poster

Greetings from the other side of Halloween!

Lots about to be happening in the Backwoods Payback camp. We are hitting the road this coming Jan 2018 for a run of shows supporting ROYAL THUNDER! Heavy Temple will be jamming the first four shows with us as well.

1/18 – Philadelphia PA, Kung Fu Necktie
1/19 – Brooklyn NY, St Vitus
1/20 – Lancaster PA, Lizard Lounge
1/21 – Richmond VA, Strange Matter
1/22 – Charlotte NC, The Milestone
1/23 – Johnston City TN, The Hideaway
1/24 – Nashville TN, The End
1/25 – Jackson MS, CS’S
1/27 – Birmingham AL, The Nick
1/28 – Atlanta GA, The Earl
1/29 – Raleigh NC, Slims (just Backwoods Payback)

We were also just announced as a part of the Maryland Doom Fest taking place June 22/23/24 2018 in Frederick MD alongside some old friends in The Obsessed, Windhand, Weedeater, Lightning Born, Caustic Casanova and a TON more!

Some cool stuff should be hitting the digital shelves before the end of the year too…keep your eyes peeled

See you on the road,

bp

BACKWOODS PAYBACK:
Jessica Baker – Bass
Mike Cummings – Guitar/vocals
Erik Larson – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/backwoodspayback/
https://backwoodspayback.bandcamp.com/

Backwoods Payback, “You Don’t Move” official video

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ZOM Announce Album Details for Nebulos

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

zom

Pittsburgh’s ZOM were first announced over the summer as signing to Argonauta Records, and after some months of quiet following the unveiling of the first single from their debut release, more details have finally begun to surface about Nebulos. You know, important kinds of stuff. Artwork. Tracklisting. Release date. That kind of thing.

It was previously noted here that Nebulos would feature revamped cuts from ZOM‘s self-titled EP (review here), released in 2013, and that has turned out to be the case for sure. Opener “Nebulos/Alien” and other pieces like “Burning,” “Solitary,” “The Greedy Few” and “There’s Only Me” were featured on the band’s earlier offering, so it should add an extra level of intrigue to the long-player to hear how that material has evolved and how it sits with the newer songs written in the time since.

We’ve still got a little bit before we find out, however. Nebulos is out Jan. 19, 2018, via Argonauta, who sent the following down the PR wire:

zom nebulos

ZOM reveals details of their new effort “Nebulos”

US Heavy Rockers ZOM reveal cover artwork and track listing of their highly anticipated new album “Nebulos”.

Hailing from Pittsburgh, ZOM is a monstrous force of heavy rock n’ roll full of stinky, stoner grooves and grab-you-by-the-throat hooks. ZOM goes straight to the gut and doesn’t hold back on its relentless attack on the senses.

ZOM was born in 2014 when experienced and multifaceted music vets Gero von Dehn (Monolith Wielder) and Andrew D’Cagna (Brimstone Coven) joined forces. Eventually Ben Zerbe (Monolith Wielder, Mandrake Project) was added to the mix to form the current trio.

ZOM “Nebulos” will be released in CD/DD by Argonauta Records and available from January 19th, 2018. This is highly recommended if you like MELVINS, TAD, SOUNDGARDEN. Preorders run here: http://bit.ly/2zMOE9Q

TRACK-LIST:
1. Nebulos/Alien
2. Burning
3. Gifters
4. Solitary
5. The Greedy Few
6. There’s Only Me
7. Bird On a Wire
8. Final Breath
9. New Trip

www.facebook.com/ZOM-189166947896954/
https://zom-rock.bandcamp.com/music
http://www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/

Zom, “Solitary” official video

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The Obelisk Presents: Benthic Realm, Clamfight & More, Dec. 2 in Worcester, MA

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on October 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to present some killer shows of late — seriously, check it out — but when it’s friends playing a gig, that’s all the more special to me. This one? Yeah, it’s a no-brainer. Good show. You should go. But the truth is that in addition to appreciating what Benthic Realm and Clamfight do as artists, I know these people. They’re good people. Isn’t life that much better when you can be sure the people you’re supporting aren’t assholes?

The gig has been dubbed the “Mid Atlantic Invasion” — because regionalism — and pits two Massachusetts acts of significant pedigree in Benthic Realm (members of Second Grave and Conclave) and Z/28 (members of Mourne and Grief against Clamfight from Philly and Pennsylvania’s Brain Candle. With Clamfight signed to Argonauta as of this Summer and the release of their new album, III, impending for early 2018, and Benthic Realm having brought in Conclave drummer Dan Blomquist since putting out their self-titled demo (review here) this Spring, it should be a significant battle indeed, and by that I mean way less a battle than bands from different areas getting together and putting on a really good show for those fortunate enough to witness it.

To that end, let me add that Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester is, in the now-four-years that I’ve lived in Massachusetts, hands down the best place I’ve found to see a show, and that along with MT Booking, I’m happy to have this site associated with goings on in that space once again. Great sound, cool vibe, good lighting, comfortable space, and burgers downstairs. They’ll even make you coffee if you ask nicely, though they won’t necessarily be happy about it.

Below, Clamfight drummer Andy Martin offers a bit of comment on the gig, and the preliminaries follow. It’s eight bucks. What the hell more could you possibly ask?

benthic-realm-clamfight-show

Andy Martin on the “Mid Atlantic Invasion”:

Allow me to peel back the curtain on how I book most Clamfight shows: Can we make it to work on Monday and is there someone there I want to hug? Whether we think it’ll be a good show is like a distant fourth.

Luckily, Woostah fulfills all of those criterion.

It’s close, and we’ve (finally) got a record to flog, so that takes care of criteria one, and two, it’s home base for a lot of our favorite people.

From our brothers in Conclave, to Faces of Bayon, and our Boston homies who often make the trip out, Massachusetts and particularly Worcester have been really good to us so we are stoked to return, laden with riffs and hugs. Personally, I’m really looking forward to jamming with Benthic Realm for the first time too, and all the more now that they’ve snagged one of my favorite people on Earth, Dan Blomquist as their drummer.

As an added bonus we’ve got Philly shredders Braincandle with us in Worcester and the night before in Brooklyn, so it’s going to be a solid weekend of riffs and shenanigans, and well worth the pain we’ll all be in come Monday.

The Obelisk and MT Booking Present::
A night of Mid Atlantic meets Massachusetts Metal!

Ralph’s Rock Diner
148 Grove St., Worcester, MA
Saturday December 2, 2017
Doors @ 9PM
$8 At the door
21+ With valid I.D.

Benthic Realm (ex-Second Grave/Conclave)
https://benthicrealm.bandcamp.com/

Clamfight (Traveling from NJ/PA)
https://clamfight.bandcamp.com/

Brain Candle (Traveling from PA)
https://braincandlemusic.bandcamp.com/

Z/28 (ex-Grief/Mourne)
https://nobodyridesforfree.bandcamp.com/

Thee Facebooks event page

Benthic Realm on Thee Facebooks

Clamfight on Thee Facebooks

Brain Candle on Thee Facebooks

Z/28 on Thee Facebooks

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Review & Full Album Premiere: The Age of Truth, Threshold

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the age of truth threshold

[Click play above to stream The Age of Truth’s Threshold in its entirety. Album is out Nov. 1 via Kozmik Artifactz.]

Philadelphia heavy rockers The Age of Truth make their full-length debut via Kozmik Artifactz with the eight-track Threshold. They are a four-piece comprised of guitarist Michael DiDonato, standalone vocalist Kevin McNamara, bassist/vocalist William Miller and drummer Adam LauverEric Fisher played on the album, which was recorded and mixed by Joseph Boldizar at Retro City Studios in Philly — and all of these details become crucially important to the record itself when one actually digs in for a listen. This is because The Age of Truth so quickly establish a range of influence that veers well outside the City of Brotherly Love. Songs like “Supernatural Salesman,” the verses of eight-minute side B opener “Caroline” and “Oceanbones” find the singer very much out front on vocal duties as the backing progressions bring to mind Clutch, but Maryland isn’t so far from Eastern Pennsylvania if we’re thinking of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and the bulk of Threshold gives a far more European impression.

Enough so particularly in the performance and production around the vocals that one might be tempted to look at their lineup and wonder if there’s any way McNamara could be interpreted as a Swedish name. From the moment the frontman begins to top the semi-prog chug of DiDonato‘s thick, layered guitar in opener “Host (Demon in Me),” and certainly in subsequent cuts like “Come back a God,” “Holding Hands Like Thieves” the soaring chorus of “Caroline” and the winding closer of a title-track, McNamara‘s performance has enough gut-tightened lung push push to recall the likes of Janne “JB” Christoffersson during his time in Spiritual Beggars, John Hermansen‘s work on The Awesome Machine‘s underrated Soul of a Thousand Years, or even the classic presence that Magnus Ekwall brings to The Quill.

These comparisons are compliments not made lightly when it comes to what McNamara adds to the 44-minute album, which tops 50 minutes when the bonus track “Honeypot” is factored in, but the band is by no means only about this one element. Rather, the varied impressions of the songs are bolstered through a clearly diverse writing process — one suspects but has no confirmation of multiple contributors — and given further depth still by being drawn together through the fullness of the production and an edge of noise rock that seems to infiltrate the sound no matter where The Age of Truth are ultimately headed. It’s not just about intensity of delivery, either. True, “Come Back a God” wants nothing for energy behind its densely-packed fuzz tones and blown-out hook — one of several landmarks throughout Threshold — but even in the more laid back “Holding Hands Like Thieves,” the blues-driven “Caroline” or the rolling burl of “Honeypot,” where DiDonato‘s tone seems to singularly shout out toward The Resurrection of Whiskey Foote-era Scott “Wino” Weinrich, there’s an almost intangible aspect to The Age of Truth that draws from punk-based roots.

the age of truth photo useless rebel

The production around Miller‘s low end and the crispness of Lauver‘s drumming are big factors as well. One can hear it in “Supernatural Salesman” as much as the initial thrust of “Host (Demon in Me),” which launches Threshold in medias res and ties together with the finale title-track in underscoring a further complementary enrichment of the band’s sound: the previously-alluded-to progressive underpinning. They’re not engaging anything technically showy or anything like that but neither are their arrangements or progressions unthinking, and that’s shown in the two longer tracks — “Host (Demon in Me)” is 7:42, second only to “Caroline” at 8:11 — as the opener breaks into an open midsection before delivering its parenthetical title line as it builds toward its second-half apex and ends in feedback, and likewise, as “Caroline” moves from its blues to boogie shuffle, there’s an echoing space set in motion by DiDonato‘s dual-layer solo that, as it leads into the final slowdown, brims with enough complexity and purpose to resonate as progressive fare.

A further degree of nuance shows itself as “Threshold” seems to directly answer the spirit of “Host (Demon in Me)” in unfolding its own guitar-led movement, more patient and less aggressive in its charge than the opener, but still rich in its presentation and how it ties together sundry pieces of the record that bears its name. McNamara seems to underscore the representative point by referencing the band’s moniker in the chorus even as he draws upon another previously unheard influence, topping the last bit of shove with a series of repeated “Come on!”s that one half expects to be followed by an invitation to go “Space Trucking.” Sadly (maybe), that invite doesn’t come, but “Honeypot” as a bonus cut does offer a more classic feel to its roll that stands it out somewhat from the bulk of Threshold, though in its comfortable mid-paced fluidity, one finds again an impression drawn from European fare in terms of the vocals.

This may be a source of novelty or intrigue when it comes to early listens of Threshold, but between the record’s art drawing from the theme of the alleged C.I.A. murder of Frank Olson (a scientist experimenting with biological agents who was also dosed with LSD without his knowledge as part of the MK-Ultra project) and the fact that the band’s range is nonetheless presented as a cohesive and well-developed sonic persona of their own rather than simply a series of pieces sourced elsewhere, their debut hits with a marked impact that more than earns multiple revisits. Indeed, “Holding Hands Like Thieves” and “Oceanbones,” which might seem easily digested or overshadowed by compatriot tracks in some way, stand themselves out further on going back through Threshold again, and ultimately do much to tie together the flow that emerges throughout this impressive and thoughtful-but-not-overcooked debut. That The Age of Truth would strike such a rare balance their first time out of course speaks to the forward potential for what they might go on to accomplish craft-wise, but that shouldn’t be considered in place of the achievements they’ve already made in this material, which are significant.

The Age of Truth on Thee Facebooks

The Age of Truth on Twitter

The Age of Truth on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz on Twitter

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Hound Premiere “Suitable for Framing”; Born Under 76 out Oct. 20

Posted in audiObelisk on October 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hound

Philly-based heavy rockers Hound have an Oct. 20 release show booked for their new album, Born Under 76, which is due out accordingly via SRA Records on CD and Let’s Pretend Records on vinyl. On whichever format one might choose to engage it, it’s the third Hound full-length behind 2015’s sleeper hit Out of Space (review here), and while hearing the crisp three-minute delivery of the hook and subtle organ inclusion in “Aqualamb,” one might be tempted to relate Hound to some vision of Monster Magnet channeled through Mos Generator‘s penchant for straightforwardness of craft, the greater impression of Born Under 76 overall stems from cuts like opener “Born Under a Blacklight,” “Death Lends a Hand,” “Best Wishes,” “Two Horns,” “Bad One” and closer “Any Day Now,” which strip down the presentation overall from the debut in favor of a more charging, punkish tack. These influences were certainly present on Out of Space as well, but in tone and rhythm, the balance brings them forward even more so that even as second track “Eyes in the Dark” nestles into a comfortable tempo, it does so tonally informed by punk rock traditionalism, and the returning three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Perry Shall, bassist Pat Hickey and drummer Chris Wilson (also Ted Leo and the Pharmacists), make the most of that just as much in the swagger of the Thin Lizzy-esque “Suitable for Framing” as in the later fuzz rollout of “That’s a Famous Feeling.”

An underscore of noise rock or heavier tone balanced against punker intent and some measure of classic heavy rock influence? Sounds like the wheelhouse of producer J. Robbins (ClutchJawbreakerMurder by DeathColiseum, etc.), hound born under 76who would seem to have been the perfect choice to helm Born Under 76 if the transition between “Two Horns” and “Bad One” and the momentum the record builds in general is anything to go by. The balance of sonic naturalism and impact across Hound‘s 12-track/40-minute run — whether it’s the lumbering swing of the penultimate “Welcome to the Land of Bad Magic” or the midtempo chorus-leaning of “Demon Eyes” setting up the thrust and channel-panning lead of “Best Wishes” in the album’s midsection — serves as one of the LP’s most effective assets, and it’s what allows that momentum to be maintained despite some rather striking shifts in approach on a per-track basis, as when the ultra-catchy “Aqualamb” and “Suitable for Framing” boogie and big-rock-finish their way into the oncoming train that is “Death Lends a Hand,” or when the later charge of “Welcome to the Land of Bad Magic” winds its way to a sudden stop before the piano-inclusive blues intro of “Any Day Now” sets up its own spring-loaded-snake-in-the-can-of-peanuts with the song’s final push. This, like what precedes, is a transition as fluid as it wants to be, and indeed it ends up being some of these contrasts that makes Born Under 76 such a fun listen. As the material is drawn together by the quality of its songwriting, Hound are free to explore a greater divide of influences and still maintain their hold on their audience’s attention.

That sense of command is fitting for a band on their third album, Hound having made their debut with 2014’s Out of Time, but as Born Under 76 steps away from the apparent thematic modus of record titles — out of the Out of…, if you will — so too does it seem to present the strongest case for the three-piece as being somewhat underrated as well. As Philadelphia has taken shape in recent years as a hotbed of heavy rock and psychedelia on the East Coast — bands like Ruby the HatchetEcstatic Vision, etc. — one can only wonder what it might take to bring Hound more to light in that emergent set, since they seem so much to be earning their place in these tracks.

Once again, Born Under 76 is out Oct. 20. Today I have the pleasure of hosting “Suitable for Framing” as a track premiere. You’ll find it below, followed by some words from Shall about the track and more background from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Perry Shall on “Suitable for Framing”:

“We recorded this record with J. Robbins at the Magpie Cage in Baltimore. It was such an honor to work with someone who we consider a legend and now a good friend. He knew how to find the perfect balance between the punk aspect of our music along with a big rock sound and somehow make it work in perfect harmony.”

When a thunderclap met a tornado, Hound was born in the Philly dark, bred off primal energy, and unleashed without warning. If 2015’s Out of Space orbited around murky prog textures and metal snarls, its forthcoming follow-up Born Under 76 gets soaked in the swamp between punk and hard rock. Whether that winning concoction is the sum of Hound’s ragtag parts – featuring Chris Wilson (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists) on drums, Perry Shall on guitar/vocals, and Pat Hickey on bass – or the LP’s dances with the devil, it’s obvious something burbles under the streets of Philadelphia. It’s sinister yet familiar, and bites with its own maniacal energy. But don’t worry – it’s delivered with a smile. Hound is back, and they’re armed with a dozen reasons to answer their howl. Maybe they’ll bring one out of you, too.

Hound release show:
10/20 – Philadelphia, PA – Space 1026 (Album release show w/ “Financial Guru” Greg Gethard, Dialer, Mary Houlihan, Alicia Camden, Michael Sneeringer)

Hound on Thee Facebooks

Hound on Bandcamp

Born Under 76 preorder at Let’s Pretend Records webstore

Let’s Pretend Records on Bandcamp

SRA Records on Thee Facebooks

SRA Records

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Quarterly Review: Hallatar, Alastor, The Dead-End Alley Band, Hair of the Dog, Soup, Kungens Män, Smoke Wizzzard, Highburnator, The Curf, Ulls

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Here we are, gathered for round four of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review. After the technical issues with the site for the last couple days, I’m glad to have everything back up and running, and one more time I thank Slevin and Behrang Alavi for making that happen. Though I have no idea what it might actually entail, I don’t imagine switching hosts on the fly for a site with as much content as this one has is easy, but they of course killed it and it is thoroughly appreciated. We move forward, as ever, with 10 more records. So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Hallatar, No Stars Upon the Bridge

hallatar-no-stars-upon-the-bridge

Finland’s Hallatar was formed after the passing of Trees of Eternity vocalist Aleah Starbridge, life partner of guitarist and songwriter Juha Ravio (also Swallow the Sun). In the new outfit, Ravio pays homage to Starbridge with the debut long-player No Stars Upon the Bridge (on Svart) by using her poems as lyrics, samples of her voice reading on “Raven’s Song,” “Spiral Gate” and the piano-backed centerpiece “Pieces,” and by bringing in Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen and ex-HIM drummer Gas Lipstick to complete a trio playing nine tracks/40 minutes of deeply mournful/beautiful death-doom. The extremity of lurch in “The Maze” late in the record is matched by the gorgeousness of the chants and shimmering guitar on closer “Dreams Burn Down,” and from the opening strains of “Mirrors,” the emotion driving No Stars Upon the Bridge is sincere and affecting. Cuts like “Melt” and the mostly-whispered-until-it-explodes “My Mistake” have a sense of the theatrical in their delivery, but that makes them no less genuine, and though one wouldn’t wish the circumstances leading to the band’s formation on anybody, there’s no question that with Hallatar, Ravio turns tragedy into a lush, resonant catharsis.

Hallatar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Alastor, Black Magic

alastor black magic

Cultish echoes pervade Black Magic, the debut album from Swedish doom-rolling four-piece Alastor, and it’s not so much that the initials-only four-piece of guitarists H and J, bassist/vocalist R and drummer S take influence from Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath, it’s what they do with that influence that’s most striking. Black Magic is made up of three extended tracks – “Enemy” (11:51), “Nothing to Fear” (7:42) and “Black Magic” (14:27) – and with a deep tonal engagement, each one embarks on a huge-sounding sprawl of doom. Yes, the guitars owe the swirl in “Nothing to Fear” to Jus Oborn, but the echoes behind R’s voice there and the melody have an almost New Wave-style feel despite the “all right now!” drawn right from the Ozzy playbook. In other words, Alastor are preaching to the converted, and that holds true in the snowblinded Luciferian spaciousness of the title-track’s early going as well, but the converted should have no problem finding the gospel in what they’re hearing, and as “Black Magic” rounds out with its chanted feel, Alastor affirm the potential to progress within this sound and to continue to develop it into something even more their own than it is now. Familiar superficially, but sneaky in the details, so watch out.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records webstore

 

The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms

the dead-end-alley-band-storms

Lima-based four-piece The Dead-End Alley Band aren’t far into opener “Red Woman” before the dark-psych vibe and languid groove have properly emphasized just how much the guitar of Leonardo Alva and the organ of Sebastian Sanchez-Botta (also vocals) complement each other. Propelled by the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Javier Kou and drummer Jafer Diaz, Storms is the third album from them behind 2015’s Odd Stories (discussed here) and 2013’s debut, Whispers of the Night (review here), and it continues to blend fuzz and classic garage doom impulses on songs like “Headstone Fortress” and the shuffling “Thunderbolts and Lace,” the latter of which wah-trips to the max around a stirring boogie before “The Clock has Stopped” weirds out on extra vocal echoes and nine-minute closer “Waiting for the Void” brings in the progressive touches of pan flute and percussion. Even in the earlier, shortest track “Need You (It’s Enough),” The Dead-End Alley Band bring no shortage of personality to the proceedings, and confirm that the rough edges of their early outings have matured into essential aspects of who they have become as a band, completely in control of their craft and able to conjure an atmosphere both classic and individual.

The Dead-End Alley Band on Thee Facebooks

The Dead-End Alley Band on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Hair of the Dog, This World Turns

hair-of-the-dog-this-world-turns

Making their debut on Kozmik Artifactz, Scottish trio Hair of the Dog give their guitar-led compositions plenty of time to flesh out on This World Turns, their third album, as they demonstrate quickly on the nine-plus minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points), but one would hardly call their songwriting indulgent there or anywhere else as “This World Turns” flows easily into the following seven-minute push of “Keeping Watch over the Night” in a resolute one-two punch that soon gives way to the shorter and more driving “Ctrl-Alt-Del,” touching on influences from Thin Lizzy and Scorpions en route as well as modern practitioners like Kadavar, whose stamp can also be heard on side B launch “The Colours in Her Skin.” That’s not to say Hair of the Dog — guitarist/vocalist Adam Holt (interview here), bassist Iain Thomson and drummer Jon Holt – don’t leave their own mark as well, just that their blend stems from multiple sources. A bit of Lynottism surfaces in the penultimate “In Death’s Hands” as well, which has a more subdued feel despite fervent rhythmic movement underlying, and closer “4AM” soars with enough vigor and soul – and a little falsetto – to give This World Turns a suitably smooth and vibrant finish.

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Soup, Remedies

soup remedies

With ties to Motorpsycho through guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, Soup issue their sixth long-player in the five-track lush melodicism of Remedies, which feels particularly aptly named for the immersion the wash that opener “Going Somewhere” is able to elicit. That is, of course, just the first of the spacious, semi-folk-infused progressions, and it’s with the longer-form “The Boy and the Snow” (11:33) and the psychedelic purposeful meandering of “Sleepers” (13:35) that Remedies truly unveils its considerable breadth, but the Crispin Glover Records release holds a sense of poise even in the two-minute centerpiece church organ interlude “Audion,” and the harmonies of “Nothing Like Home” bring to mind peak-era Porcupine Tree patience and fluidity while holding fast to the bright, orange-sunshiny warmth of the atmosphere as a whole, instruments dropping out just before three minutes in to showcase the vocals before returning to embark on the march to the final crescendo, not at all overblown but with just a touch of extra volume to let listeners dive deeper into the moment. Remedies feels quick at 42 minutes, but turns out to be just what the doctor ordered.

Soup on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

 

Kungens Män, Dag & Natt

kungens-man-dag-natt

Prolific psych-progging Stockholmers Kungens Män return with Dag & Natt, a 2CD/2LP issued through Kungens Ljud & Bild (CD) and Adansonia Records (LP) that overflows with jazzy fluidity and gorgeous immersion. The band’s last studio outing was late-2015’s Förnekaren (review here), and whether it’s 13-minute pieces like opener “Morgonrodnad” and the even-more-krautrocking “Aftonstjärnan” or the seemingly complementary inclusions of the kosmiche-minded “Dag” and wonderfully drifting “Natt,” the album as a whole is a joy and a boon to anyone looking for an extended psychedelic meander. The saxophone of Gustav Nygren on the aforementioned leadoff and “Natt” makes a particularly striking impression, but with a steady, languid wash of guitar, synth and warm bass throughout, Dag & Natt wants nothing for flow, and the gentle, classy spirit is maintained even as the penultimate “Vargtimmen” ups the sense of thrust leading into the finisher payoff of “Cirkeln är Slut.” As of now, Kungens Män should be considered a too-well-kept secret of Scandinavia’s psych underground, though listening to Dag & Natt, one wonders just how long they’ll stay that way.

Kungens Män on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Smoke Wizzzard, Run with the Wolf

smoke-wizzzard-run-with-the-wolf

Whether it’s through the striking and gruesome cover art or through the lumbering post-Sabbath, post-Cathedral stoner-doom nod contained within, Smoke Wizzzard’s five-song self-titled debut LP thoroughly earns its third ‘z’ – and, for that matter, its second one – with played-to-form thickness and a tonal push that starts with 10-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Astro Lord” and continues to swagger and swing with due viscosity through “Reptiles” after the minute-long punker curveball “Soul Train.” The highlight of the Pittsburgh trio’s first outing might be “The Pass,” which has a hazy patience and some rightly-featured bass tone, but as “Run with the Wolf” moves from its early Electric Wizard muckraking to cap with piano and included howls for a doomier feel, it becomes clear Smoke Wizzzard have yet to play their full stylistic hand and the real highlights may still be yet to come. Fair enough. Something tells me getting stranger is only going to be a boon to Smoke Wizzzard’s approach on the whole, so bring it on.

Smoke Wizzzard on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Wizzzard on Bandcamp

 

Highburnator, Keystoned State

highburnator-keystoned-state

If you hit up Highburnator’s Bandcamp and download their name-your-price Keystoned State EP, you might note the fifth and final inclusion is the entire live-recorded, 28-minute release presented as a single track. No doubt the Pennsylvania three-piece intend the four-song outing to be taken just that way. They begin with the “mad as hell” speech sampled from the 1976 film Network and from there unfold a potent riffly brew met head on with harsh East Coast hardcore-style vocals and more metallic growls. That’s nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Brass Rail,” and it sets the tone for what follows on the eponymous “Highburnator” before “Desert Funeral” and the Sleep-style nod of “Peaking at the Coffin” push into even more stonerly vibes. This melding of pissed-off disaffection and mid-paced heavy rock groove is particular to the sludge of the Eastern Seaboard – think of it as regional fare – but Highburnator find space for themselves in the rawness of their riffs and the charm of their puns, and by the time they’re through the four songs, it makes sense why they might want to present the full onslaught as a single entity, essentially giving it to their listeners on one overflowing platter. Got the munchies? It’s right there waiting.

Highburnator on Thee Facebooks

Highburnator on Bandcamp

 

The Curf, Death and Love

the-curf-death-and-love

Greek psych-doomers The Curf made their debut in 2007 with I and then went radio silent until last year’s Royal Water EP. Their sophomore full-length, Death and Love, then, arrives via Fuzz Ink Records with some amount of intrigue behind it, but either way, the sans-pretense heavy roll the band unfurls on “Dark Hado,” and the more uptempo “Smoke Ring,” the dig-in low end of “Lunar Lair” and the scream-topped start-stoppery of “California” present a varied take brought together through heft as well as the crispness of production and delivery, such that when it wants to, Death and Love can bite down hard, but as on the closing title-track or the earlier “Order ‘n’ Sin,” it can rumble out spaciousness as well. Whatever might’ve taken The Curf so long to put together a second album beats the hell out of me, but if they were looking to make an argument for a third one, they do so convincingly across these nine songs, which hold firmly to their overarching flow despite the emergent stylistic range.

The Curf on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records webstore

 

Ulls, I

ULLS I

For now, Ulls is the solo-project of Barcelona-based David Trillo, formerly guitarist/vocalist for the heavy progressive trio Lord Summerisle, but the hope seems to be to build a full band at some point in the future. The I EP might rightly be called a demo, then, but for the professionalism and cohesiveness of sound with which its three songs are presented and the clarity of intent behind them. With Trillo rumbling away on bass beneath, six-minute opener “Inhumat” fleshes out its arrangement with organ alongside guitar swirl and sets up the classically swinging strut of “Llot Convuls,” on which the drums post-midsection lead the way through starts and stops à la a restless King Crimson and the guitar joins with no less angularity. Eight-minute closer “L’Emersió de l’Executor” brings about a thicker overall tone, but holds to a similar mood through its first half, Trillo finding room after about the four-and-a-half-minute mark for a standout solo executed with the bass running fluidly alongside that carries the song to its fading finish just before seven minutes in, at which point a residual drone takes hold to lead the way out. That ending is telling when it comes to various impulses that might show themselves in Ulls going forward, but as an initial demonstration, suffice it to say that I makes it plain Trillo shouldn’t have much trouble finding other players to come aboard the band with him.

Ulls on Instagram

Ulls on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

outsideinside-sniff-a-hot-rock

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Outsideinside’s ‘Pretty Things.’ Their album, Sniff a Hot Rock, is out Sept. 29 on Machine Age Records in the US and Sixteentimes Music in Europe.]

Outsideinside aren’t three seconds into opening track ‘Pretty Things’ before the handclaps have started, drummer Panfilo DiCenzo is on the bell of his ride cymbal and the boogie has begun that will continue in earnest through just about the entirety of their debut album, Sniff a Hot Rock. Only fair they should get down to business on the quick, since the Pittsburgh four-piece give themselves a pretty high standard to live up to in taking their moniker from one of the greatest and most pivotal heavy rock records of all time — Blue Cheer‘s 1968 sophomore LP — in addition to boasting guitarist/vocalist Dave Wheeler and bassist Jim Wilson in the lineup, both formerly of Tee Pee Records heavy classic rockers Carousel.

Released through Machine Age Records and Sixteentimes Music, the eight-track/35-minute LP dig into early AC/DC vibes on cuts like “Can’t Say Nothin'” and blend that raw sense of songcraft with echoing-solo psychedelic flourish — James Hart joined the band on guitar and backing vocals earlier in 2017, though I’m not sure if he actually features on the recording alongside Wheeler — but the core of Outsideinside‘s approach lies in the playin’-in-a-rock-and-roll-band attitude of hook-out-front pieces like the aforementioned leadoff “Pretty Things,” “Shot Me Down,” “Empty Room” and closer “Say Yeah,” and while the easy narrative might make it seem like Outsideinside are a brand new band formed in the wake of Carousel‘s untimely collapse, the truth is they’ve been kicking around Pittsburgh’s dinged-out bars since before The New York Times declared doing so was cool; having released a split in 2013 with Old Head in 2013 via Machine Age that featured the track “Misled,” which also appears here.

Accordingly, much of this material, while energetically performed in a clear move to bring out a live-sounding vibe — and effectively done, whether it’s the fuzzy/bluesy turns of “Can’t Say Nothin'” or the forward crotchal thrust of “Say Yeah” — would also seem to have the benefit of having been worked on for a while. Where it ultimately triumphs, however, is in not being overwritten as a result of that, but instead pared down to its most basic and classic-sounding elements. As he was in Carousel, Wheeler is a key presence in Outsideinside. He takes forward position early and does not relinquish for the duration, adopting the role of self-effacing storyteller on “Shot Me Down” with an underlying, winking swagger that makes even lines like, “She said ‘Keep on walkin’ son that don’t impress me none’/And she shot me down,” in the first chorus come across in good humor. Likewise, the subsequent “Empty Room” is what it sounds like: a tale of playing to small, unappreciative crowds. This lyrical perspective adds charm to the rhythmic strut that’s so much at the center of Outsideinside‘s writing, from the start-stop of “Pretty Things” to the brazen solo that takes charge of the second half of instrumental “Eating Bread” before “Ten Years” and “Say Yeah” cap side B, and Sniff a Hot Rock benefits greatly from that added sense of personality.

outsideinside

In conjunction with the tightness of the Cactus-style creeping bassline in “Misled” and the writing overall, Wheeler‘s frontman presence becomes a part of a subtle efficiency and professionalism that Outsideinside are in no rush to advertise — truth is doing so would take away from both the grandness and the funkness of their aesthetic — but which underscores the whole of Sniff a Hot Rock just the same. It might be their first record, in other words, but dudes know what they’re doing. They signal it early and often, and some of the record’s greatest success lies in balancing that with the outright fun of their boogie as it shines through on the shuffling “Empty Room,” Wilson‘s choice bass work on “Can’t Say Nothin'” and the brash finish in the one-two punch of “Ten Years” and “Say Yeah.”

As they shift from side A’s catchy landmarks in “Pretty Thing,” “Shot Me Down,” “Empty Room” and “Misled” into the more dug-in rhythm of “Can’t Say Nothin'” and “Eating Bread,” Outsideinside continue to proffer good-times vibes in classic form, their sound organic in presentation as well as structure without necessarily being overly vintage in its production. Heavy ’10s more than heavy ’70s, though of course the roots of the one lie in the other. Still, it’s worth highlighting that while the material they bring to bear throughout Sniff a Hot Rock feels as though it’s had the benefit of being worked on, hammered out, and brought to its most essential aspects, there’s a freshness at the core of Outsideinside that still speaks to this as being their first album. The difference is it’s natural without being haphazard where many others might be, and if that comes from Wheeler and Wilson‘s past work together in Carousel or from Outsideinside simply playing shows and recording for a few years before settling into the studio to track this material, so be it.

One way or the other, the end result is a palpable, two-sided, full-LP flow that signals the arrival of Outsideinside perhaps in picking up a bit where Carousel left off, but also establishing their own course in modernizing classic boogie rock with a vitality of their own and a level of songwriting that’s already plenty sure of itself even if “Shot Me Down” or “Empty Room” might tell you otherwise. It’s no coincidence they end with “Say Yeah.” The closer is a direct address to their audience and finds Wheeler as bandleader calling out for an audience interaction in a way that one very much imagines could end a live set as well, building in the finish as he encourages the “crowd” (i.e. the listener) to say yeah. Obviously in the context of the record itself, should one choose to respond, it’s not like he’s going to hear it, but if you’ve got the song on and you find you’re tempted to do so, it’s certainly understandable.

Outsideinside on Thee Facebooks

Machine Age Records website

Sixteentimes Music website

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Horehound Sign to Hellmistress Records; New Album in Progress

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

A double-whammy of good news here in that Pittsburgh doom rockers Horehound have signed to Hellmistress Records — kudos all around — and that they’ve got a follow-up in the works to their impressive 2016 self-titled debut (review here). The four-piece had done a release for Horehound through vocalist Shy Kennedy‘s own Blackseed Records imprint, and Hellmistress has confirmed it will indeed pick that up for a reissue, so right on there in addition to the new material. The more the merrier and all that.

I’d guess it’ll be a 2018 release, so you mark your notes and I’ll mark mine (done), and as we get closer, whatever I see, I’ll be posting. In the meantime, Hellmistress stands among the sponsors for the inaugural edition of Kennedy‘s upcoming Pittsburgh-based fest, Descendants of Crom (info here), which is set to take place on Sept. 30 on two stages at Cattivo Nightclub.

Cheers to Horehound and to Hellmistress and here’s looking forward to the fruit of their collaboration. The PR wire makes it official:

horehound

Horehound – Hellmistress Records

Horehound began their journey into the Pittsburgh music scene in the summer of 2015.

Standing on the shoulders of giants – Black Sabbath, Neurosis, Sleep, and the Melvins, among others – Horehound ever since have been crafting their own blend of stoner and doom harmonies and cacophonies. On their debut album, released in April 2016, Shy Kennedy’s powerful, ethereal vocals and haunting lyrics transform the pummeling onslaught of Brendan Parrish’s aggressive guitar riffs, Nick Kopco’s doom-drenched bass grooves, and JD Dauer’s punishing percussive rhythms, into carefully crafted compositions that are “stunningly recorded, tactile, heavy, clear.”

Says Hellmistress Records founder Melanie Streko, “I discovered Horehound on Pat Harrington’s Electric Beard of Doom radio podcast. My ears perked up every time Pat played a Horehound song; whether I was working; cleaning around the house or just playing with my cat, I ran to my computer to see who it was and it was always Horehound. So I knew I had to sign them.”

In 2016, Horehound played the 1st Annual Doomed & Stoned Festival among genre mainstays Cough and Bell Witch, and shared the stage with Captain Beyond, Earthride, and The Atomic Bitchwax at Maryland Doom fest in June of 2017. Horehound is currently in the process of writing a follow-up to their self-titled debut, and hope to be able to share with their fans as the new songs come to life.

Horehound is:
• Shy Kennedy (Vocalist)
• Brendan Parrish (Guitarist)
• JD Dauer (Drummer)
• Nick Kopco (Bassist)

https://www.facebook.com/horehoundband/
http://horehound.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/horehoundband
https://www.facebook.com/blackseedrecords/
http://www.blackseedrecords.com/
https://hellmistressrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HellmistressRecords/

Horehound, Horehound (2016)

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