Stinking Lizaveta Premiere Rehearsal Recording “The Odor of Corruption”

Posted in audiObelisk on June 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Stinking Lizaveta

The other morning, just after The Pecan went down for a nap, I got a message through thee social medias from Yanni Papadopoulos of Philadelphia’s Stinking Lizaveta. Now, we’ve never really been in touch, maybe an email here and there around releases or something like that, or I may have said an awkward hello at a gig at some point in the last 15 years, but it’s not like we talk. Nothing against the guy, he seems very nice, and his band certainly rules, but they’ve always had publicity representation, so that’s how it’s gone. Fair enough.

So this note comes over, and it says — direct quote, cut and paste — “Hi JJ, this is Yanni from Stinking Lizaveta, just found a forgotten track we recorded at a practice that kind of encapsulates everything I’m going for in heavy music. Can I send it to you?”

Honestly, what the hell am I going to say to that? “No?” “Don’t send it over?”

Here’s a guy who’s been kicking around in one of the ultra-underground’s most creative bands for well over 20 years, turning heavy rock into jazz and heavy jazz into rock, and he’s saying he’s got a song that brings to life everything he’s going for in heavy music? Come on. Of course send it over. Hook it to my veins and give it to me in an IV.

For anyone to say something like that out of the blue to essentially a stranger is not nothing. But especially for someone whose creativity has been so broadly manifest over his band’s tenure — their last album was 2017’s Journey to the Underworld (review here) on Translation Loss — and someone who does not strike me as being particularly given to hyperbole, I had to hear what that sounded like. Had to.

The track is indeed a rehearsal room recording that’s been given the title “The Odor of Corruption” as taken from a chapter in The Brothers Karamazov, and it was captured in 2018. Those familiar with Stinking Lizaveta‘s work — the lineup is Yanni, upright electric bassist Alexi Papadopoulos and drummer Cheshire Agusta — will find its four-minute run less manic than the instrumentalists can be at their most chaotic, but still with plenty of dynamic on display. A creeping initial guitar line trades into and subsequently out of a soulful solo, rising and falling and rising again into a crescendo that fades out, balancing atmosphere and mood against raw impact in Agusta‘s drums and the slow progression on which it all rests.

In addition to having to hear it, I had to know what it was about “The Odor of Corruption” that particularly stood out to Papadopoulos and made him get in touch in the first place. What is it that the song encapsulates? I asked him for an answer and you can see what he had to say under the player below, on which I’m proud to host the premiere of the song.

Please enjoy it:

Yanni Papadopoulos on “The Odor of Corruption”:

I was poring over some old music files and in a folder labeled “Stinking Liz ideas” and I found this track. The recording is from a rehearsal, done in a basement, with two live mics in the room running into the computer. We do this from time to time just to make sure we don’t forget things. Well, in this case we forgot all about this song. I put my ears to it and started to think, “This is what I’m going for in heavy music.” It’s funny how hard it is to appreciate your own work. Sometimes it will take me years to listen to my own band’s record, and it’s always best when it happens by accident.

I’m calling the song “The Odor of Corruption.” The title comes from a chapter in The Brothers Karamazov in which a young Alyosha anxiously waits to see if the body of his mentor, the good and wise Father Zosima, will rot after his death, or will remain pure and be declared saintly. The body starts to stink, as dead bodies do. Sorry, we are all mortal.

This track reminds me that a mission of Stinking Lizaveta has always been to be as present as possible in our music. I was talking to a fellow musician backstage at a gig recently and said, “I just hope to play reliable versions of our songs tonight.” He responded, “Isn’t that all anyone hopes for?” To which I replied, “Well, sometimes I hope for a little bit of magic too.” I enjoy good musicianship, but rock is about inspiration rather than technical perfection. Our band has found a place where we demand more than just mechanics from each other. It’s not always possible to access that real beyond the material world, but it is paradise when you do open that portal for yourselves and the audience.

Stinking Lizaveta on Thee Facebooks

Stinking Lizaveta website

Stinking Lizaveta on Bandcamp

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Ecstatic Vision Announce New Album For the Masses out Sept. 20 on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ecstatic vision

Already confirmed for the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest in Austria and having just played the edition that was a rotating package tour on the West Coast of the US, Philadelphia cosmic whatever-rockers Ecstatic Vision have re-signed to the label behind it all — Heavy Psych Sounds — for the release of their new album, For the Masses, on Sept. 20. One assumes a Fall European tour announcement is forthcoming as well, as they’re also confirmed for Keep it Low in Munich, so they seem a likely candidate for a run around that.

In the meantime, presales also start today for a reissue of their first album, 2015’s Sonic Praise (review here), so in addition to the new record, there’s a little something for those either who are new to the band, or who want an excuse for multiple copies of that debut, which, frankly, is understandable.

The PR wire has details for it all, care of the label:

ecstatic vision for the masses

ECSTATIC VISION is re-signing with Heavy Psych Sounds Records for a brand NEW ALBUM and the reissue of SONIC PRAISE!!!

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS is proud to welcome back one of best US heavy psych bands, the mighty ECSTATIC VISION !!

Heavy Psych Sounds will release the band’s new album and also a reissue of the legendary debut release Sonic Praise.

Rising powerhouse label HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS is proud to have extended a worldwide deal with psychedelic rock grandmasters ECSTATIC VISION! 2019 will see the Philadelphia Heavy Psych quartet (regarded as the second coming of vintage Hawkwind) not only reissue the pathbreaking debut album, Sonic Praise, but also returns with their brand new album For The Masses!

Says the band: “We are very pleased to announce that we have signed a deal with Heavy Psych Sounds for a new record coming out this fall! After meeting all the HPS guys on our countless European tours, we appreciate their passion for our little corner in the world of modern music. We think they will be good teammates as we carve our unique path across the globe fufilling our destiny as Psychedelic Pirates from Philly. See youse on the road!“

For The Masses is set to be released on September 20th 2019, while Ecstatic Vision’s re-release of Sonic Praise will be available as a re-mastered version on September 6th. Today Ecstatic Vision are sharing with us the cover artwork and tracklist For The Masses, which is now available to pre-order in various VINYL and CD formats at THIS LOCATION!

For The Masses tracklisting:
1. Sage Wisdom
2. Shut up and Drive
3. Yuppie Sacrifice
4. Like a Freak
5. For the Masses
6. The Magic Touch
7. Grasping the Void

ECSTATIC VISION is
Doug Sabolik
Michael Field Connor
Kevin Nickles
Ricky Kulp

https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticvision
https://twitter.com/ecstaticvision_
https://www.instagram.com/ecstaticvision
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/

Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury (2017)

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Ecstatic Vision Finish Work on New Album; Touring with Heavy Temple

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ecstatic vision

New stuff from Ecstatic Vision is a win. Their next record — it’ll be their third LP — is reportedly in the can, and that’s awfully nifty, so I’d expect news about it, oh, say, about three minutes after this post goes live. Just so I can still be behind as I am in posting these tour dates. I try to keep up. And fail. Consistently. Nonetheless, I’m curious to see who’ll be handling the release for the upcoming offering from the Philadelphia psych forerunners, since Heavy Psych Sounds put out their 2018 Under the Influence EP (discussed here), and their two records to-date, 2017’s Raw Rock Fury (review here) and 2015’s Sonic Praise (review here), came out on Relapse. Could be either of those or of course someone else. I have a hard time imagining anyone wouldn’t want to get in on putting out their stuff.

For what it’s worth, Heavy Psych Sounds is presenting the tour, and Ecstatic Vision will play the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest out on the West Coast. They’ll also be back in Europe this Fall for Keep it Low in Munich, and they’ll presumably have more dates TBA around that. So, more to come. I’ll try to keep up.

For now, here’s this from the PR wire:

ecstatic vision tour

Ecstatic Vision Announces U.S. Tour Dates

Philly Krautrock Crew Gears Up for Album Number Three with 15 City Spring Live Trek

Philadelphia heavy psych band Ecstatic Vision has announced a spring U.S. headlining tour. The dangerous live group, known for its hybrid sound that merges the sound and style of ’70s rock acts like Hawkwind, Can and MC5 with the feel and flow of Afrobeat artists such as Fela Kuti and Africa 70, will launch the two week trek on May 2 in Baltimore, MD. Support on the Ecstatic Vision tour will be provided by fellow Philadelphians Heavy Temple.

As part of the 15 city tour, Ecstatic Vision will perform live as part of the recently-announced Heavy Psych Sounds Fests, a celebration of the Italian underground rock label of the same name to which the group is signed. Ecstatic Vision will join labelmates Mothership, Duel, Crypt Trip and more on both May 10 in Fort Worth, TX and May 11 in Austin, TX. For more details on these HPS Fest shows, visit these locations.

Ecstatic Vision is touring in support of its EP of space / zam rock covers, ‘Under the Influence’ (2018), its 2015 debut album, ‘Sonic Praise’, and the band’s ballsy experimentation into Detroit rock meets white noise, ‘Raw Rock Fury’ (2017). Ecstatic Vision recently completed work on its as-yet-untitled new album, and is expected to debut some of its new songs live over the course of the upcoming tour.

“”We are stoked to get back on the road to play live at places we haven’t been in a long time, and with a new record in the can,” says vocalist / guitarist Doug Sabolick. “Yes you heard right! Expect news on our new LP soon as well. See you at the shows!”

Ecstatic Vision tour dates:
May 2 Baltimore, MD The Metro Gallery *
May 3 Richmond, VA Wonderland RVA
May 4 Raleigh, NC The Pour House Music Hall
May 5 Asheville, NC The Odditorium
May 6 Charlotte, NC The Milestone Club
May 7 Columbia, SC Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Alehouse
May 9 Memphis, TN Growlers
May 10 Fort Worth, TX Lola’s
May 11 Austin, TX The Lost Well
May 12 Denton, TX Andy’s Bar
May 14 St. Louis, MO Fubar
May 15 Nashville, TN The East Room
May 16 Johnson City, TN The Hideaway
May 17 Washington, DC The Pinch *
May 18 Harrisonburg, VA The Golden Pony *
* = No Heavy Temple

Ecstatic Vision is:
Doug Sabolick (vocals / guitar)
Michael Field Connor (bass)
Kevin Nickles (saxophone)
Ricky Culp (drums)

https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticvision
https://twitter.com/ecstaticvision_
https://www.instagram.com/ecstaticvision

Ecstatic Vision, Under the Influence (2018)

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Quarterly Review: JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Rosetta, Pendejo, Lightsabres, Witch Hazel, CBBJ, Seedium, Vorrh, Lost Relics, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Five. What would traditionally be the end of the Quarterly Review if going to six wasn’t the new going to 11. Whatever, I can hack it. The amount of good stuff included in these batches really helps. I’m not saying there are days that are a flat-out bummer, but I feel like the proportion of times in this Quarterly Review I’ve gone, “Wow, this is pretty awesome,” has seen a definite spike this time around. I won’t complain about that. Makes the whole thing fun.

Today will be no exception, and then we finish up on Monday with the last 10. Thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018

joy feat dr space live at roadburn 2018

Brought together as part of the ‘San Diego Takeover’ at Roadburn 2018 that featured a host of that city’s acts performing in an even broader host of contexts, JOY and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective took the stage at the tiny Cul de Sac near the very end of the festival. It was how I closed out my Roadburn (review here). Dr. Space did a short spoken introduction and then they were off and they didn’t look back. The centerpiece of the limited LP is an extended jam simply titled “Jam.” It’s edited on the platter, but the digital version has the full 54 minutes, and the more the merrier. They round out with takes on Road‘s “Spaceship Earth” and JOY‘s “Miles Away,” and those are cool too, but the real highlight is about halfway through the longer “Jam” when the drums kick into the next gear and you suddenly snap out of your trance to realize how far you’ve already come. And you’re still only at the midpoint. I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. So be there.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

JOY on Thee Facebooks

JOY Feat. Dr. Space at Øresund Space Collective Bandcamp

 

Rosetta, Sower of Wind

rosetta sower of wind

Philadelphia-based post-whatever-you-got outfit Rosetta continue to set their own terms with Sower of Wind, a self-recorded four-track/half-hour offering that’s something of an outgrowth of their most recent album, Utopioid. Broken into four tracks each assembled from ideas and layers churning throughout the four sections of that record, it brings out the ambient side of the band as guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Matt Weed serves as engineer for “East,” “South,” “West” and “North” as he, guitarist/keyboardist Eric Jernigan and vocalist Mike Armine — who here just adds samples and noise — construct fluid soundscapes that can either build to a head, as on “East” or offer a sense of foreboding like “West” and “North,” depending solely on the band’s will. It’s intended as an exploration, and it sounds like one, but if that wasn’t the point, Sower of Wind probably wouldn’t have been released in the first place. It’s not at all their first ambient release, but this modus continues to be viable for them creatively.

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records webstore

 

¡Pendejo!, Sin Vergüenza

pendejo sin verguenza

Whatever your current working definition might be for “over the top,” chances are Pendejo — also stylized as the exclamatory ¡Pendejo! — will make short work of it. Sin Vergüenza, their third long-player, sees release through their own Chancho Records imprint, and it’s not through opener “Don Gernàn” before the Amsterdam-based outfit break out the horns. Fronted by El Pastuso, who supplies the trumpet, the band roll through dense toned heavy rock in a crisply-executed, high-energy 10 tracks and 40 minutes that, even when you think they’re letting up, on the later “El Espejo,” they still manage to burst out a massive riff and groove in the second half. It’s the kind of record that’s breathtaking in the sense of you’re trying to run to keep up with its energy. That, however, should not be seen as undercutting the value of the band’s songwriting, which comes through regardless of language, and whether it’s the start-stops of “La Mala de la Tele” or the gleeful weirdo push of “Bulla,” Pendejo have their sonic terrain well staked out and know how to own it. They sound like a band who destroy live.

Pendejo on Thee Facebooks

Pendejo webstore

 

Lightsabres, A Shortcut to Insanity

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

It’s rare for an artist to grow less predictable over time, but Lightsabres mastermind and multi-instrumentalist John Strömshed hits that standard with his former one-man outfit. Joined by session drummer Anton Nyström, Strömshed brings forth 11 tracks of genre-bending songcraft, melding fuzz and progressive folk, downer rock and thoughtful psych, garage push with punker edge, and seemingly whatever else seems to serve the best interests of the song at hand. On “Born Screaming,” that’s a turn to classical guitar plucking sandwiched on either side by massive riffs and vocals, like that of “Tangled in Barbed Wire,” remind of a fuzz-accompanied take on Life of Agony. At just 36 minutes, A Shortcut to Insanity isn’t long by any means, but it’s not an easy album to keep up with either, as Strömshed seems to dare his listenership to hold pace with his shifts through “Cave In,” rolling opener and longest track (immediate points) “From the Demon’s Mouth” and the sweetly melodic finale “Dying on the Couch,” which is perhaps cruelest of all for leaving the listener waiting for the other shoe to drop and letting that tension hang when it’s done.

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Witch Hazel, Otherworldly

Witch Hazel Otherworldly

Classic-style doom rockers Witch Hazel shift back and forth between early metal and heavy rock on their second full-length, Otherworldly, and the York, Pennsylvania, four-piece of vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn keep plenty of company in so doing, enlisting guest performances of organ and other keys throughout opener “Ghost & the Fly” and “Midnight Mist” and finding room for an entire horn section as they round out 11-minute closer “Devastator.” Elsewhere, “Meat for the Beast” and “Drinking for a Living” marry original-era heavy prog with more weighted impact, and “Zombie Flower Bloom” plays out like what might’ve happened if mid-’80s Ozzy had somehow invented stoner rock. So, you know, pretty awesome. The strut and shuffle of “Bled Dry” adds a bit of attitude late, but it’s really in cuts like the title-track and the aforementioned “Midnight Mist” earlier on that Witch Hazel showcase their formidable persona as a group.

Witch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Witch Hazel on Bandcamp

 

CBBJ, 2018 Demo

CBBJ 2018 Demo

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get with CBBJ‘s 2018 Demo, right down to the wood paneling on the cover art. The band’s name — also written as CB/BJ — would seem to be taken from its members, Cox (that being Bryan Cox, founding drummer of Alabama Thunderpussy), Ball, Bone, and Jarvis, and as they look toward a Southern Thin Lizzy on demo finale “The Point of it All,” there’s something of a realization in what they’re putting together. It’s four tracks total, and finds some thrust in “Wreck You,” but keeps it wits there as well as in the sleazier nod of “The Climb” that precedes it as the opener and even in the penultimate “Can’t Go Home,” which gives booziest, earliest AC/DC a treatment of righteous bass. They’re apparently in the studio again now, or they just were, or will, or won’t, or up, or down, but whatever. Point is it’ll be worth keeping an ear out for when whatever comes next lands.

CBBJ on Thee Facebooks

CBBJ on Bandcamp

 

Seedium, Awake

seedium awake

Go on and get lost in the depths of Seedium‘s debut three-songer, Awake. The Polish outfit might be taking some cues as regards thickness from their countrymen in Dopelord or Spaceslug, but their instrumental tack on “Mist Haulers,” “Brain Eclipse” and “Ruina Cordis” oozes out of the speakers with right-on viscosity and comes across as infinitely stoned. The centerpiece tops 11 minutes and seems to indicate very little reason they couldn’t have pushed it another 10 had they so desired, and through “Ruina Cordis” is shorter at a paltry 7:08, its blasted sensibility and ending blend of spaciousness and swirl portends good things to come. With the murky first impression of “Mist Haulers” calling like a prayer bell to the riff-worshiping converted, Seedium very clearly know what they’re going for, and what remains to be seen is how their character and individual spin on that develops going forward. Still, for its tones alone, this first offering is a stunner.

Seedium on Thee Facebooks

Seedium on Bandcamp

 

Vorrh, Nomads of the Infinite Wild

vorrh nomads of the infinite wild

Programmed drumming gives Nomads of the Infinite Wild, the debut release from the Baltimore duo of Zinoosh Farbod and John Glennon an edge of dub, but the guitar work of songs like “Mercurial,” looped back on itself with leads layered overtop and Farbod‘s echoing vocals, remains broad, and the expansive of atmosphere puts them in a kind of meditative post-doom feel. Opener “Myths” strikes as a statement of purpose, and as “Morning Star” shows some Earth influence in the spaces left by Glennon‘s guitar, the band immediately uses that nuance to craft an individual identity. “Flood Plane” saunters through its instrumental trance before getting noisy briefly at the finish, only to let “These Eyes” work more effectively through a similar structure with Farbod on keys, seeming to set up the piano-foundation of “Ancient Divide,” which closes. This is a band who will benefit greatly from the fact that they record themselves, because they’ll have every opportunity to continue to experiment in the studio, which is exactly what they should be doing. In the meantime, Nomads of the Infinite Wild effectively heralds their potential for aesthetic innovation.

Vorrh on Thee Facebooks

Vorrh on Bandcamp

 

Lost Relics, 1st

lost relics 1st

Well, they didn’t call it 1st because it’s their eighth album. Denver noise rock trio Lost Relics debut with the aptly-titled 18-minute four-songer, bringing Neurosis-style vocal gutturalism to riffy crunch more reminiscent at times of Helmet‘s discordant heyday. Dense tonality and aggression pervade “Dead Men Don’t Need Silver,” “Scars,” the gets-raucous-later “Whip Rag” and closer “Face Grass,” which somehow brings a Clutch influence into this mix, and even more somehow makes it work, and then even more somehow indulges a bit of punk rock. The vocals and sense of tonal lumber tie it all together, but Lost Relics set a pretty wide base for themselves in these tracks, leaving one to wonder how the various elements at work might play out over the course of a longer release. As far as a debut EP goes, then, that’s the whole point of the thing, but something seems to be saying Lost Relics have more tricks up their sleeve than they’re showing here. One looks forward to finding out if that’s the case.

Lost Relics on Thee Facebooks

Lost Relics on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Sin (Sloth), VII: Sin Seven

deadly sin sloth vii sin seven

Deadly Sin (Sloth) play the kind of sludge that knows how well and truly fucked we are. The kind of sludge that doesn’t care who’s president because either way the chicken dinner you’re cooking is packed full of hormones. The kind of sludge that well earns its Scott Stearns tape artwork. VII: Sin Seven is not at all void of melody or purpose, as “Ripping Your Flesh” and the Danziggy “Glory Bound Grave” grimly demonstrate, but even in those moments, its intent is abrasion, and even the slower march of “Icarus” seems to scathe as much as the raw gutterpunk in “F One” and opener “Exit Ramp”‘s harshest screams. Not easy listening. Not for everybody. Not really for people. It’s a malevolent bludgeoning that even in the revivalism of “Blood Bought Church” seems only to be biding its time until the next strike. It does not wait all that long.

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: 11PARANOIAS, Robot Lords of Tokyo, The Riven, High Reeper, Brujas del Sol, Dead Witches, Automaton, Llord, Sweet Jonny, Warp

Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day three. Cruisin’. Oh, another 10 reviews to write? Yeah, no problem. I’m on it.

Okay, maybe a little less that and a little more be banging my head against the wall of sound, but the point is we — you and I — move forward anyhow. The Quarterly Review continues today with the third batch, which at the end will bring us to the halfway point, 30 of the total 60 records done, and that always feels like an occasion. Also helps that it’s a pretty good batch of stuff, so let’s not waste time with formalities, right?

Quarterly Review #21-30:

11PARANOIAS, Asterismal

11paranoias asterismal

It’s a freakout, but not the good kind. More like a panic attack happening in slow motion on another dimensional plane. The masters of murk, 11PARANOIAS return through their own Ritual Productions imprint with Asterismal, collecting/conjuring upwards of nine tracks and 73 minutes of material depending on in which format one encounters it. The core of the outing is the six-song/45-minute vinyl edition, and that’s plenty fucked enough, to be honest, as bassist/vocalist Adam Richardson (Ramesses), guitarist Mike Vest (Bong) and drummer Nathan Perrier (ex-Capricorns) unfurl a grim psychedelic fog across songs like opener “Loss Portal” and tap into The Heads-style swirl on “Bloodless Crush” only to turn it malevolent in the process. The 12-minute “Quantitative Immortalities” finds Vest in the forward position as it summarizes the stretch of doom, psych, and bizarre atmosphere that’s utterly 11PARANOIAS‘ own, and that’s before you get into the experimental and sometimes caustic work on the CD/digital-only “Acoustic Mirror” (10:35) and “Acoustic Mirror II” (15:08), which both rise from minimalist bass to become a willful test of endurance only a select few will pass. All the better.

11PARANOIAS on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Rise Robot Rise

Robot Lords of Tokyo Rise Robot Rise

Was there ever any doubt Robot Lords of Tokyo could do it on their own? Not if you ever listened to Robot Lords of Tokyo, there wasn’t. The Columbus, Ohio-based outfit built a reputation in the earlier part of the decade by bringing guests onto their records, but their new EP and first outing in half a decade, Rise Robot Rise, features five songs of just the band itself, with founders Rick Ritzler (drums) and Paul Jones (vocals) joined by bassist Joe Viers and guitarists Steve Theado and Beau VanBibber. Their last outing was the 2013 full-length Virtue and Vice (review here), but they seem in “In the Shadows” and “Looking for the Sun” to come into their own with Jones bringing a John Bush-type edge to the hook of “Looking for the Sun” and echoing out a bit on centerpiece “Hell Camino,” which boasts not the band’s first nod to Clutch. With opener “In the Shadows” setting the tone for an undercurrent of metal, “My Aching Eyes” and “Terminus” pay that off without losing their rock edge and thereby highlight just how much force has always been in the core lineup to start with.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo at CDBaby

 

The Riven, The Riven

The Riven The Riven

Issued by The Sign Records, the self-titled debut from Sweden’s The Riven (also discussed here) hones in on classic heavy rock but never actually quite tips all the way into vintage-ism. It sounds like a minor distinction until you put the record on and hear the acoustic guitar lines deep in the mix of “Far Beyond” or the echoing vocal layers in the second half of the later “Fortune Teller” and realize that The Riven are outright refusing to sacrifice audio fidelity for aesthetic. There’s no shortage of shuffle to be had, rest assured, but The Riven are less concerned with aping traditionalism than updating it, and while they’re not the first to do so, the fact that on their first record they’re already working to put their stamp on the established genre parameters bodes well, as does the bluesy float of “I Remember” and the mellow vibing early in “Finnish Woods.”

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, Higher Reeper

high reeper higher reeper

Philadelphia exports High Reeper offer their second full-length through Heavy Psych Sounds in Higher Reeper, upping the stakes from their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) in more than just title. In the intervening two years, the five-piece have toured extensively, and it shows in the pacing and general craft of the eight songs/38 minutes here, from the perfectly-timed nod at the end of “Buried Alive” to the face-slap proto-trash riff that starts the subsequent “Bring the Dead,” from the mountaintop echoes of “Obsidian Peaks” (note the “Hole in the Sky” riff rearing its head) to the howling roll through “Plague Hag” and into six-minute closer “Barbarian,” as High Reeper hone elements of doom to go with their biker rock sleaze. Stellar guitar is a running theme beginning with opener “Eternal Leviathan,” and Higher Reeper quickly proves that if you thought the debut had potential, you were right.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brujas del Sol, II

brujas del sol ii

if the 6:40 album opener “Teenage Hitchhiker” from Brujas del Sol‘s Kozmik Artifactz-delivered II makes anything plain, it’s that the songs that follow on the seven-track/43-minute outing are going to pay attention to texture. Still about half-instrumental, the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece veer from that modus with “Sisterlace,” the New Wave-y “Fringe of Senility,” the delightfully dream-toned “White Lights,” and the final Floydian section of closer “Spiritus,” adding vocals for the first time and leaving one wondering what took them so long. Nonetheless, the winding lines and later subtly furious drums of “Sea Rage” and the scorching leads of the penultimate “Polara” bring the proggy mindset of the band that much more forward, and if II is transitional, well, it was going to be anyway, because a band like this never stops growing or challenging themselves. They certainly do here, and the results are an accomplishment more than worth continuing to build upon.

Brujas del Sol on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Dead Witches, The Final Exorcism

dead witches the final exorcism

The centerpiece of Dead Witches‘ sophomore album, The Final Exorcism, is a play on ’60s psych-garage-folk that asks “When Do the Dead See the Sun?,” and the rest of the LP that surrounds provides the answer: The sun isn’t showing up anytime soon, for the dead or otherwise. After issuing their first full-length, Ouija (discussed here), in 2017, the multinational horror-cinema doomers brought aboard vocalist Soozi Chameleone alongside drummer Mark Greening (Ramesses, ex-Electric Wizard), bassist Carl Geary and guitarist Oliver Irongiant, and one might be tempted to think of The Final Exorcism as a kind of second debut were it not for the fact that it’s so cohesive in its approach. With Greening‘s swinging march at the foundation, cuts like the title-track and “The Church by the Sea” stomp out thick-toned and grainy organic creep, plundering through the cacophonous “Lay Demon” en route to the abyssal plod of “Fear the Priest” at the end, fearsome in purpose and realization and hopefully not at all “final.” Like any good horror franchise, there’s always room for another sequel.

Dead Witches on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Automaton, TALOS

automaton talos

It was hard to know where Automaton were headed after they remixed their debut EP, Echoes of Mount Ida (review here), and released it in LP format with two additional tracks. The original version was raw and weighted, the remix spacious and psychedelic. With TALOS, their first proper long-player (on Sound Effect Records), they answer the question with seven songs/48 minutes of expansive and richly atmospheric post-metal, seeming to take from all sides and shift their focus between crushing with dense tones on 11-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Trapped in Darkness,” as well as the frantically drummed “Automaton Marching,” “The Punisher” or the end stage of “Talos Awakens” and honing more of a varied and atmospheric approach throughout the sample-laced “Giant of Steel,” the drifting “Submerged Again” and the minimalist acoustic-led closer “Epilogue,” all the while donning both an overarching concept and a new level of production value to bolster their presentation. It is a significant step forward on multiple fronts.

Automaton website

Sound Effect Records website

 

Llord, Cumbria

llord cumbria

Raging and experimental, the rumble-laden Barcelona duo Llord make their full-length debut on Féretro Records with Cumbria, which culls together five punishing-but-still-atmospheric tracks of plod and drive as bassist Aris and drummer David share vocal duties and bludgeoning responsibilities alike. Ill-intentioned from the get-go with the two-minute “Adtrita Sententia,” Cumbria unfurls its 29-minute run like a descent into low-end madness, varying speed and the amount of samples involved and bringing in some guest gralla on “Brega” and closer “Kendal/Crewe,” but finding itself in a consistent tonal mire all the same, shouts reverberating upward from it as through trying to claw their way up during the collapse of earth beneath their feet. It is brutal — an extreme vision of atmospheric sludge that makes the concept of a guitar riffing overtop seem like an indulgence that would only dull the impact of the proceedings as they are, which is formidable.

Llord on Bandcamp

Féretro Records on Bandcamp

 

Sweet Jonny, Sweet Jonny

sweet jonny sweet jonny

I can’t claim to be an expert on the ways of Britpunk classic or modern, but UK swagger-purveyors Sweet Jonny weave a heaping dose of snearing attitude into their self-titled, self-release debut album’s 12 tracks, and it comes set up next to a garage rock fuckall that isn’t necessarily contradicted by the actual tightness of the songwriting, given the context in which they’re working. “American Psycho,” well, that’s about American Psycho. “Sick in the Summer?” Well, guess that could be taken multiple ways, but somebody’s sick in any case. You see where this is going, but Sweet Jonny bring character and addled-punk charm to their storytelling lyrics and barebones arrangements of fucked-up guitar, bass and drums. I don’t know what the punkers are into these days, but the vibe here is rude in the classic sense and they bring a good time feel to “Superpunch” and “It Matters Not” — which stretches past the four-minute mark(!) — so what the hell? I’m up for something different.

Sweet Jonny on Thee Facebooks

Sweet Jonny website

 

Warp, Warp

warp warp

If the approval stamp of Nasoni Records isn’t enough to get you on board — and it should be, frankly — the Sabbathian lowercase-‘g’ ghost rock Warp proffer on their self-titled debut is bound to turn heads among the converted. The Tel Aviv-based outfit tear through eight tracks in a crisp, bitingly fuzzed 28 minutes, taking on classic boogie and doom alike before they’re even through opener “Wretched.” They get bonus points for calling their noise interlude “‘Confusion Will Be My Epitaph’ Will Be My Epitaph,’ as well as for the shuffle of “Gone Man” that precedes it and the stomp of “Intoxication” that comes after, the latter a rhythmic complement to the central progression of second cut “Into My Life,” which only departs that snare-snare-snare to soar for a dual-layered solo. Hard not to dig the space-punk edge of “Hey Little Rich Boy II” and the throttled-back stoner nod of closer “Enter the Void,” which is done in under five minutes and still finds room for the album’s best stop-and-crash. Fucking a.

Warp on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records webstore

 

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Queen Elephantine Set Fall Release for Gorgon; Touring Northeast in April

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Somehow it’s all the more appropriate that as Queen Elephantine constantly seem to be on a search in terms of sound and have for the last decade-plus set about an exploration of aesthetic expression, band founder Indrayudh Shome is likewise restless in terms of geography. Any given release might find him somewhere on the East Coast of the US, or in Hong Kong, or Calcutta, or wherever else his apparently wandering spirit might take him. Currently? Philadelphia. Which makes sense if you think about it.

Queen Elephantine have a run of tour dates set for next month stretching out across the Northeast in the company of Shadow Witch and It’s Not Night: It’s Space, among others, and whether they’re playing basements or art galleries, the band’s psychedelic drone remains underrated for its reach and overall quality. They’re previewing a track from the upcoming album, Gorgon, that you can stream at the bottom of this post, and if you’ve got a minute, it’s a like an exit sign for your conscious mind. Tune in, trance out.

Gorgon will be their second album for Argonauta behind 2016’s Kala (review here) and their sixth overall. Here’s looking forward.

From the PR wire:

queen elephantine gorgon art preview

QUEEN ELEPHANTINE ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES!

New album coming in the Fall of 2019 with Argonauta Records!

Formed in 2006 in Hong Kong and currently based in Philadelphia, USA, QUEEN ELEPHANTINE is the nebulous worship of a heavy mood and time. The shapeshifting post-apocalyptic rock band draws from psychedelia, doom, drone, and noise rock as well as free jazz and sacred music from around the world. QUEEN ELEPHANTINE has released five albums as well as splits with Elder, Sons of Otis, and one forthcoming with Phurpa, to date. Following their latest and critically acclaimed 2016-album, KALA, the Fall of 2019 will see the band release their sixth album, again with powerhouse label Argonauta Records.

QUEEN ELEPHANTINE describe their new record GORGON as a trip through hypnotic molasses grooves. Dissonant riffs will pull you down a river of unearthly atmospheres, guided by the incantations of sardonic fakirs, unravelling their final sermon before the cosmos combusts!

In support of their upcoming release and to let the songs grow on stage, QUEEN ELEPHANTINE will debut GORGON live on their upcoming NORTHEAST USA TOUR to kick off this APRIL, and which will held 10 shows between Virginia and New Hampshire, including selected dates with It’s Not Night: It’s Space and Shadow Witch!

Says the band: “It has been a period of meditation for the band, with many personal transitions for us. We’re thrilled to return, to present the new record and play these songs live on our first tour since our run with Oxbow over a year ago.”

Make sure to catch QUEEN ELEPHANTINE live at the following dates this Spring, with many more news and dates to follow soon:

April 12 – Washington, DC. Slash Run
April 13 – Richmond, VA. Wonderland
April 17 – Brooklyn, NY. The Kingsland*
April 18 – Northampton, MA. Sierra Grill
April 19 – Providence, RI. Alchemy
April 20 – Portsmouth, NH. WSCA Radio*
April 21 – Boston, MA. TrendyShitTown
April 25 – Baltimore, MD. The Depot
April 26 – Philadelphia, PA. Mothership**
April 27 – Kingston, NY. The Anchor**
* with Shadow Witch
** with It’s Not Night: It’s Space

https://queenelephantine.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/queenelephantine/
http://www.argonautarecords.com/

Queen Elephantine, “Mars” teaser from Gorgon

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Thunderbird Divine: Magnasonic Vinyl Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Thunderbird Divine (Photo by Dante Torrieri)

A few reasons for posting this one. First and foremost is that Thunderbird Divine‘s debut album, Magnasonic (review here), is awesome, and I’m happy for a chance to revisit it while I put this post together. Second is I like the thought of Adam Scott‘s cover art on an LP sleeve. It would seem to have been made for just that purpose. Third, it gives me a chance to say how much I’m looking forward to seeing the Philly four-piece this Spring when they play New England Stoner and Doom Fest in Connecticut, because hell’s bells, that’ll be a good time.

I’m the kind of guy who keeps a running list all the time of the year’s best first albums and the year’s best albums more generally. It’s early yet into 2019, but Thunderbird Divine are on both lists.

Info for the vinyl comes from the PR wire:

Thunderbird Divine Magnasonic

Philly’s THUNDERBIRD DIVINE’s Album ‘MAGNASONIC’ Set for Limited-Edition Vinyl Pressing via Interstellar Smoke Records; Pre-order Starts February 21st!

The Poland-based Interstellar Smoke Records is set to release Philadelphia’s Thunderbird Divine’s debut, ‘Magnasonic’ on limited-edition vinyl pressing.

“I have few bands with whom I want to cooperate, and I make a list of these bands,” says Jacek Trepko, president of Poland’s Interstellar Smoke Records. “From this list of bands, I choose the ones I would like to release first. This decision is taken by listening a material several times in a loop. I look at the graphics of cover to have an idea how the physical edition should look. In this particular case, I liked the album cover, the music content fit my label profile and the music material was the best of the rest of the bands.”

The debut album, which was initially released in January on CD by Salt of the Earth Records, will bear Interstellar Smoke Records’ imprint for 300 copies. These 300 pressings will be made available in three different vinyl colors (transparent purple, transparent yellow, and black), each color limited to 100 copies. A different poster and sticker will be included in each color run.

“This is a pretty cool thing,” says Erik Caplan, guitarist/vocalist of Thunderbird Divine. “There’s really no other way to say it. Jacek got in touch with us because he heard the record, loved it and wanted to be involved. That’s an extremely vindicating feeling–to have someone you’ve never met want to work with you based on the strength of your work. We’re excited.”

Pre-orders will begin February 21, 2019, from Interstellar Smoke Records at https://interstellarsmokerecords.bigcartel.com/

– 100pcs black with poster A2
– 100pcs transparent yellow with poster A2
– 100pcs transparent purple with poster A2

All three editions come with insert and band stickers.
Each edition is unique and comes with a different A2 poster.

This debut album is a 30-plus-minute exploration of riffs and psychedelia, featuring custom art design by the band’s bassist, Adam Scott. “The inspiration for Magnasonic’s artwork stems from classic optical and psychedelic line art,” Scott explains. “It then evolved to the stargate space exploration of graphic symbolism, which we feel reflects the music’s loud vibrance.”

https://www.facebook.com/thunderbirddivine
https://www.instagram.com/thunderbird_divine/
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
www.SaltOfTheEarthRecords.com
https://interstellarsmokerecords.bigcartel.com/

Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic (2019)

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Heavy Temple Announce Lineup Split

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Heavy Temple are splitting up, but not breaking up. Already, bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk was the lone remaining original member of the band, and as she notes in the social-medias posts below, she’s already been through a number of different versions of the band since they got together. With drummer Siren Tempestas and guitarist Thunderhorse, Heavy Temple were very quickly building a reputation for lethal live shows and had an album in progress that was poised to be a breakthrough moment for them.

As to what the future might hold for them, I don’t know, and it seems like the change is pretty raw at this point for any real future plans to be discussed outside of finishing out their currently-booked tour schedule for next month, hitting SXSW and more. I’m not sure if they’ll still do the April dates at the Decibel Metal and Beer Fest and/or Grim Reefer, but as Nighthawk says, the intention is to play “everything on the calendar.” So there you go.

And when she says the band isn’t done, I tend to believe her, even if this means it’ll probably way longer before that album arrives.

Announcement follows:

heavy temple square

Heavy Temple is ever evolving, and will continue on, playing everything on the calendar. We’ve been five different incarnations over 7 years. It’s understandable that a change in the line up is a shock, and ideally it would have been a gentle transition, but things happen. I am sad, as I’m sure some of you are, and that is humbling. I notice that some of you are mad. Relationships are complicated. Sometimes they don’t turn out the way one expects, and heartbreaking decisions have to be made. I know we will all go on to do great things, and I look forward to meeting more awesome people on that journey.

I just woke up to a million text messages. If I may attempt to clear some things up. I started Heavy Temple 7 years ago in my basement, alone. This is the fifth incarnation of the band. This was and in many ways still is my dream line up, but with every personnel change the sound has just gotten better. I am grateful for my time with them. I made a very difficult decision because I felt we all had different expectations, and couldn’t commit to a heavy touring schedule. I tried to keep everyone happy and still keep myself happy and I failed. This has nothing to do with the “direction” of the band, nor did I use that word. They’re both amazingly talented and I know they’ll go on to do amazing things. I’m not perfect, and I’ve made mistakes. It’s very hard work being in a band, and sometimes things don’t turn out the way you plan. I’m sorry that we’re parting ways. I plan on moving forward, as I always have, because making music is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.

Heavy Temple Rides to SXSW
March 2019
03.12 Skylark Social Club Charlotte NC
03.13 JJ’s Chattanooga TN
03.14 Spiderhouse Austin TX Wicked Bad Presents SX Stoner Jam
03.15 The Lost Well Austin TX Northwest Hesh Fest & Austin Terror Fest Present…
03.16 Freetown Boom Boom Room Lafayette LA
03.17 Green Lantern Lexington KY

04.14 The Filmore Philadelphia PA Decibel Metal & Beer Fest
04.20 The Ottobar Baltimore MD Grim Reefer Fest

Heavy Temple is:
High Priestess Nighthawk (low end and vocal power)
Siren Tempest (rhythm)
Thunderhorse (6 string axe slinger)

https://www.facebook.com/HeavyTemple/
https://www.instagram.com/heavytemple
https://heavytemple.bandcamp.com
https://www.van-records.de/
https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/album/chassit

Heavy Temple, Chassit (2017)

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