High Reeper Premiere “Chrome Hammer” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

high reeper

High Reeper mark their first release on Heavy Psych Sounds March 16. Their self-titled debut (review here) was given a sneaky self-release last year, but if you by any chance were feeling crazy and wanted to get a preview of what’s to come with the Heavy Psych Sounds version of the offering, it wouldn’t take anything more than checking out the five-piece’s previous video for “Die Slow” (posted here) and the one below for “Chrome Hammer,” because it just so happens that’s the one-two punch that starts off the album.

And a considerable punch it is. The Philly outfit made it clear with the record the first time around that they weren’t screwing around, and yeah, that very much continues to be the case. Even before they get to the drum-sol0-laden eponymous “High Reeper” or the later riff-worship of “Weed and Speed” and “Black Leather (Chose Us),” which would straddle the line between doom, classic metal and heavy rock were it not so busy using its legs to meter out the rhythmic stomp driving all of it, “Die Slow” and “Chrome Hammer” together set up the “Why’s it gotta be NWOBHM or thrash?” central question High Reeper is asking, backing up its argument with a firm reminder that, indeed, Black Sabbath still kicks everyone’s ass.

You can see their classic-minded aesthetic on display in the clip for “Chrome Hammer” below, which I’m thrilled to be able to premiere today. You’ll note the citrus hue of the amplification through which the guitars and bass come, and the occasional upside-down shot here and there as well. All good fun, and plenty of heavy boogie to go with it, so by all means, dive in.

Some comment from the band and PR wire info follows.

Please enjoy:

High Reeper, “Chrome Hammer” official video premiere

High Reeper on “Chrome Hammer”:

When we wrote Chrome Hammer we just had the title as the idea for the song and then we filled in the lyrics and music around the title. When we decided to make the video we wanted something that didn’t relate to the song in a literal way but still captured the idea and then feeling of not just the song but also the band. We gave the director (Dan Dome) free reign to do whatever he wanted and we feel like he fucking nailed it.

High Reeper’s self titled debut is an unapologetic punch to the face for fans of early ‘70s proto-metal. The sound and smell of leather, weed, boozing, gambling and death permeate the record from start to finish. Nine tracks that run from uptempo straight ahead rock, to slowed down, heavy, early doom. With a rhythm section throwing down grooves that are deeper than the darkest abyss and guitars big enough to put a hole in your chest, the record’s finale hits just as hard as its opening track. Vocals that soar above the guitars with laser like precision, while delivering a direct hit to your soul.

Produced, engineered and mixed by bass player Shane Trimble at TTR studios in Philadelphia and at his home studio Delwood sound in Delaware. The production is laced with old school elements while still maintaining the focus of a modern release.

Recorded in the fall of 2017, HIGH REEPER IS MEANT TO BE PLAYED LOUD AND TO BE PLAYED OFTEN.

High Reeper is:
Pat Daly
Zach Thomas
Andrew Price
Napz Mosley
Shane Trimble

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Ecstatic Vision and Heavy Psych Sounds Announce New Project

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I’m not sure what ‘project’ means in this context. Ecstatic Vision, as you in no way need me to tell you, are the ass-kicking, space-rocking troupe on the shortlist of those spearheading heavy psychedelia in their native Philadelphia, PA. They’ve got two full-lengths out via Relapse, the latest of which, Raw Rock Fury (review here), came out in 2017 to blow and expand minds in like measure. Heavy Psych Sounds is the imprint leading the charge for underground heavy in Italy, run by Gabriele Fiori of Black Rainbows and home not only to that band, but others like High Reeper (also from Philly), Duel (from Austin), The Freeks (from CA) and many others.

That the two parties are coming together is nothing but good news, but when Heavy Psych Sounds signs a band outright, that’s what the announcement says. I should know — I’ve posted plenty of those announcements. That’s not what this is. This is “working on a new project.” So what is it? An EP? A tour? A one-off collaborative studio session? A live record? Is it some legal distinction needing to be made for the band to still be a part of Relapse, or have Ecstatic Vision just signed with Heavy Psych Sounds, the announcement’s come through oddly phrased, and I’m reading way, way too much into it?

Time will have to tell, I suppose. Because the details are pretty light here.

New project it is.

From the PR wire:

Ecstatic-Vision-Photo-Michael-Connor

HPS and american psychedelic rockers ECSTATIC VISION working on a new project!!!

We are really proud to announce to have started working on a new project with the american psychedelic rockers Ecstatic Vision !!!

More info coming soon…

BIO:
ECSTATIC VISION introduced their brand of heavy primal psych influenced by groups like Hawkwind, Aphrodites Child, Olatunji, Can and early Amon Duul ll in late 2013. Formed in Philadelphia to primarily “play what they wanted to hear,” the band quickly rose to those in the know as a force to be reckoned with. ECSTATIC VISION signed to Relapse Records on the power of a demo and their psychedelic freak out, primal live concerts. Their debut LP, Sonic Praise saw a release by Relapse in June 2015 and during this time the band toured the US with prestigious acts such as Enslaved, YOB and Uncle Acid & The Dead Beats in addition to numerous shows with the likes of Earthless, Red Fang, Acid King and many others. This was followed by a European run that saw them perform at the legendary Roadburn Festival in addition to dates with Bang, Pentagram, and more.

In April 2017, ECSTATIC VISION returned with their 2nd LP Raw Rock Fury, an even more tripped out showcasing of the band’s raucous mix of troglodyte Detroit rock grooves, soothing Krautian motoric sounds, filthy Beefheartian blues and Hawkwindian primal world heavy psych! The addition of multi-instrumentalist Kevin Nickles (Saxophone/Flute/Guitar) has helped the band reach beyond the void and further create a sense of auditory hallucination with Raw Rock Fury. Prepare for one of the dirtiest sounding recordings since MC5’s Kick Out the Jams. Headlining tours of the USA and Europe followed and saw the band share the stage with John Garcia, Dead Meadow, Bongzilla, and the Cosmic Dead and also included a blistering headlining slot on one of Desertfest Berlin’s stages.

Now in 2018 the band started a new collaboration with the italian label Heavy Psych Sounds Records!

ECSTATIC VISION are:
Doug Sabolik
Michael Field Connor
Kevin Nickles

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

Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury (2017)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Clamfight, III

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

clamfight iii

[Click play above to stream Clamfight’s III in its entirety. Album is out Jan. 19 on Argonauta Records.]

I’d like to say a few words about Clamfight. As bands go, the South Jersey/Philadelphia four-piece are probably the group of musicians I’ve been closest to personally and known the longest in my life. They are, to a man, beyond quality individuals and I think of myself lucky to call them friends. When I was in a band, we played shows together. Their last album, early 2013’s I vs. the Glacier (discussed here), was released via what was then this site’s in-house label, The Maple Forum, and their prior outing, 2010’s Volume I (review here), remains a sentimental joy for me to hear to a degree that’s probably ridiculous considering I had nothing to do with the actual writing of the songs. In terms of album reviews, impartiality is a myth generally, but perhaps never less so than when I’m talking about Clamfight. I don’t think I could not love them if I tried, and to be quite honest, I have no interest in trying.

Between live sets, demos, studio updates from Gradwell House where they recorded with producer/engineer Steve Poponi, rough mixes, unmastered tracks and so on, I’ve likely heard Clamfight III in every stage of its making. That’s not me bragging like I’m Mr. Super-Insider or anything. I’m just trying to give context to the fact that when I put on the finished product of Clamfight‘s Argonauta Records debut and listen to its five-track/44-minute entirety — the thing: done — I remain blown away each time by its level of accomplishment. It’s not that I thought drummer/vocalist Andy Martin, guitarists Sean McKee and Joel Harris and bassist Louis Koble didn’t have it in them to do what they do in these tracks; it’s that it would have been unfair to expect a work so progressive to come from a band whose primary drive has always been their intensity.

Although, and of this one can rest duly assured, that intensity remains well intact — as one can certainly hear in the post-Leviathan crashes and shouts of “Selkie” and sundry moments of heads-down chugging and/or righteous bellows such as the beginning of centerpiece “Echoes in Stone” throughout — it’s simply being used as part of an approach that’s grown in new, exciting and dynamic ways. Anchored by its extended opener “Whale Road” (11:14) and closer “History of the Earls of Orkney,” Clamfight III finds its conceptual or at very least lyrically-thematic framing in ongoing archaeological work in Scotland by a team that includes Martin and benefits greatly from this purposefulness of its expression, as it brings solid footing beneath the expansive and progressive structures in the songwriting, which is very much driven by McKee‘s lead guitar.

That element is given more space to flesh out than it’s ever had in Clamfight before, and McKee‘s performance lives up to its spotlight, but groove very much remains central to the band, and while the thudding tom runs under speak immediately to something bound in the earth, it’s the airy intro guitar lines of “Whale Road” that signal Clamfight III‘s defining ambitiousness, not to mention the patience with which they build toward the first verse over the opener’s initial two-plus minutes. Roaring and bombast ensue, to be sure, but as Harris and Koble lock in the core rhythm, it leaves Martin free to explore a range of vocal styles only previously hinted at in their recorded output and McKee to follow suit in showcasing greater reach in the style and substance of his craft. It is telling that of the five tracks, only “History of the Earls of Orkney” and the penultimate “Eynhallow” don’t end with a guitar solo — and “Eynhallow” is a five-minute, mostly-guitar instrumental lead-in for the finale. More often than not, McKee gets the last word.

clamfight photo useless rebel

Nonetheless, it would be inappropriate to think of Clamfight III simply as a showcase for McKee or any other single member. Rather, it is a whole album, and a whole group work. This is underscored as “History of the Earls of Orkney” answers the intro of “Whale Road” with its own leadoff airy meandering as much as in the stomp that emerges in “Selkie” earlier. And not only are Clamfight reaching within to find and manifest aspects of their sound in ways they never have before, they’re also reaching outside themselves, as shown by the guest appearances from Kings Destroy guitarist Chris Skowronski on “Whale Road,” ex-Wizard Eye/current-Thunderbird Divine guitarist/vocalist Erik Caplan, who lends theremin to that opener and “Echoes in Stone,” and vocals from Shroud Eater bassist Janette Valentine and guitarist Jean Saiz on the same song. The latter performances are of course standouts, bringing both melody and further shouting harshness in tow, and after a due throttling from the finish of “Selkie” beforehand and the rolling, growling start of the “Echoes in Stone” itself, their arrival serves to add variety and an unexpected twist to what becomes a crucial moment on the record.

In a way, it’s a shame she couldn’t return even for a few lines on “History of the Earls of Orkney,” as it would allow the closer to truly summarize the breadth of the album’s entirety, but after the subdued contemplation in “Eynhallow,” it’s clear the gears have shifted, and even without that flourish of added symmetry, Clamfight III‘s finishing move serves as a singular moment of triumph for the band. In its sprawl, they not only reaffirm the progressive achievements of the songs before, but continue to build on them. The push forward at the midpoint seems to speak to the ethic of the track as a whole, and the tumult that ensues is underpinned by a control that only makes it more enthralling — the four members of Clamfight all charging in the same direction, straight ahead through two solo sections toward an adrenaline-drenched ending that’s snap-tight and a brutally-earned, cut-cold payoff, as sharp as it is bludgeoning.

Look. I love this band, and I don’t mind telling you that. If that means you need to take this review with the proverbial grain of salt, cool. I don’t really care. The fact remains that when I listen to Clamfight III, I’m proud as hell and deeply appreciative that I even know these guys at all, and whether you ever heard I vs. the Glacier or Volume I or not, it doesn’t matter, because what they’ve done here has thoroughly put them on a new level of execution. It is a special moment of arrival for them as a unit, when a maturity of craft has so clearly taken hold — one that means at very least they’ve outgrown their moniker if they hadn’t before — amid the pummel that’s always been their fuel, and when a resulting effort can strike as much with its scope as its brute force. Even putting aside as much as I possibly can the high esteem in which I hold them as people, I consider myself lucky every time I put this album on, and I plan to put it on for a long time to come. If you don’t, it’s your loss.

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2017

Posted in Features on December 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

top-30-of-2017

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

We’re almost at the finish line for 2017, and if I’m honest, it’s not a minute too soon. I think if one more record comes out this year my head is going to explode.

A perpetual onslaught of cool music is, of course, nothing to complain about. It just seemed like every time I thought I had a handle on where the year was going, some other announcement came through and knocked me on my ass. What’s that? The Obsessed are putting out their first album in more than two decades? Oh and Monolord have a new one coming? Radio Moscow just signed to Century Media? Arc of Ascent are back? Samsara Blues Experiment are back? Causa Sui are putting out a live album and a studio album? Sasquatch are going to Europe and sneaking a record along with them? All of a sudden I’m out of breath feeling like I just ran a lap.

It’s been madness this year. Between an emergent neo-psych movement in the wake of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and others, and the ongoing and constant reshaping of doom and heavy rock from practitioners new and old, I don’t know how anyone could ever claim to keep up with any of it.

You know I do the best I can, so when you look through this list, please keep in mind that these are my picks and the result of applying my own standard, which if you’ve ever seen a list on this site before you probably already know is a combination of things like what I view as being important on a critical level and things like what kept me coming back as a listener. What were the year’s biggest releases and what couldn’t I get enough of? Sometimes those two things come together around one record and it’s beautiful. That’s usually your album of the year, or close to, anyhow.

No sense in delaying further. I hope if you haven’t heard some of this stuff you’ll give it a shot, and if you have something you felt strongly about it, you’ll let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance for keeping it civil, and of course for reading.

Here goes:

30. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
geezer psychoriffadelia

Released by Kozmik Artifactz and STB Records. Reviewed May 16.

Coming off of what was their strongest album to-date in their 2016 self-titled (review here), New York heavy psych blues trio Geezer decided it was time to take the groove for a walk. And so they did. Psychoriffadelia is the result — a looser collection of jams and willfully unrefined heavy blues, reveling in the politically incorrect on “Dirty Penny” only after basking in the post-Monster Magnet hypnosis of “Red Hook” and the earlier roll of the more straightforward “Hair of the Dog” and “Stressknots.” Everything Geezer has done to this point has pushed their sound to new places. Psychoriffadelia is no exception.

29. Orango, The Mules of Nana

orango the mules of nana

Released by Stickman Records. Reviewed March 27.

More than a touch of twang on opener “Heartland” sets a tone of Americana-infusion for Orango‘s sixth LP, The Mules of Nana, but the 10-tracker is ultimately much more about harmony-laced classic heavy smoothness than playing to prairie-minded sensibilities, though roots spread wide through a natural, dirty blues just the same. However they get there, “Hazy Chain of Mountains,” the softshoe-ready funk of “Head on Down” and the peacefully progressive finish of “Ghost Rider” bring ’70s-style thrills in songwriting and their precise, gorgeous execution. Underrated record from an underappreciated band.

28. Radio Moscow, New Beginnings

radio moscow new beginnings

Released by Century Media. Reviewed Oct. 6.

Cali boogie kingpins and all-around marvelous frenetic bastards Radio Moscow were in top form on their Century Media debut, and if it was a new beginning they were searching for, they met it head on with a sound as classic and organic as ever. Arguably the most powerful power trio in their game, they tore through cuts like “No One Knows Where They’ve Been” and “Deceiver” while offering flourish in the trip-out “Woodrose Morning” and subdued blues-psych on the penultimate “Pick up the Pieces.” Very much to form, but cast of a form that still manages to outclass all challengers.

27. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma

spaceslug time travel dilemma

Released by Southcave Records, BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed Feb. 10.

And so here we have the first of what will no doubt be several records about which I’m going to say they should be higher on the list. Poland’s Spaceslug have emerged from the moist ground created by their own tonality and on their sophomore full-length, they proffered warm depth of fuzz and a corresponding melodic and psychedelic reach that was resonant even before they brought in ex-Sungrazer bassist Sander Haagmans for a guest spot on the title-track. It’s been out for 10 months and still delivers every time I put it on, which is often.

26. Mothership, High Strangeness

mothership high strangeness
Released by Ripple Music and Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed March 7.

Three albums into a tenure marked by hard-driving riffs, scorching solos and relentless road work, there’s little Texas trio Mothership need to do at this point to prove themselves to their audience. At the same time, High Strangeness brought considerable expansion to their range overall, whether it was the exploratory “Eternal Trip” or the semi-metallic insistence behind “Midnight Express,” while staying tied together with lyrical and instrumental hooks. High Strangeness set a new standard for Mothership, plain and simple, and easily surpassed the considerable accomplishments of their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) and 2014’s Mothership II (review here).

25. Eternal Black, Bleed the Days

eternal black bleed the days

Released by Obsidian Sky Records. Reviewed Aug. 1.

There was a lot about Eternal Black‘s Bleed the Days that chugged its way into the post-Wino oeuvre of US-style trad doom, but the gruff, lumbering and impeccably riffed outing was nonetheless one of 2017’s best debut full-lengths, and it was the songwriting that got it there. Already sounding sure in the vibe captured, cuts like the plodding brooder “Sea of Graves” and “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” showed potential in mood and atmosphere as much as sheer sonic heft — though of course there was plenty of that to go around as well. Doomers missed it at their peril.

24. Kadavar, Rough Times

kadavar rough times

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Sept. 6.

It kind of feels like a slight to have Berlin trio Kadavar appear anywhere outside of at least a top 10 on any kind of list whatsoever, ever, but that’s not my intention at all. Rather, their fourth album and third for Nuclear Blast found them at an important stage in their progression — past the novelty of the vintage feel in their early work, after having proven their songwriting could translate to a modern context, and embarking on a process of expanding their sound. Rough Times, which was as current as current could be, met that goal and beat it easily with a barrage of memorable choruses and a dark streak one could only consider suitable for our age.

23. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

shroud eater strike the sun

Released by STB Records. Reviewed June 28.

The biggest surprise about Shroud Eater‘s long-awaited sophomore long-player was also its most encouraging aspect — namely how it found the Miami trio bringing together various impulses shown on a number of shorter releases over the course of the six years since their debut, ThunderNoise (review here), came out in 2011, and still managed to utterly crush when it so chose. With a swath from sludge to drone and back again, this was no minor feat, and that the songs they brought to bear were so memorable at their heart as well makes me hope all the more it’s not 2023 before their third album arrives.

22. Enslaved, E

enslaved e

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 4.

What’s left to say about Norwegian progressive black metal innovators Enslaved 14 records into their career? Plenty as it turns out. The introduction of new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje in place of Herbrand Larsen brought a new twist on a signature element of Enslaved‘s approach. Vinje utterly owned his role, and his performance alongside guitarist Ivar Bjørnson, bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson, guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and drummer Cato Bekkevold resulted in a fresh urgency that made the band’s sound even more potent and set their ongoing creative evolution on a new branch of its self-directed path.

21. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical

arc-of-ascent-realms-of-the-metaphysical

Released by Astral Projection and Clostridium Records. Reviewed April 6.

Some five years on from 2012’s The Higher Key (review here) and seven out from their debut, Circle of the Sun (review here), and with bassist/vocalist Craig Williamson firmly entrenched in his always excellent Lamp of the Universe psych-drone-folk solo-project, I wasn’t sure there would be another offering from New Zealand heavy psych-rock trio Arc of Ascent, but Realms of the Metaphysical took shape from an ether of riffs and echoes atop resilient underlying structures and revitalized the group with new drummer Mark McGeady in the lineup with Williamson and guitarist Matt Cole-Baker. Remains to be seen if this marks a priority shift for Williamson or it’s a one-off, but its arrival was welcome either way.

20. Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas

causa sui vibraciones doradas

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Oct. 20.

With the various glories already offered in 2017 on the Live in Copenhagen (review here) 3LP, one didn’t necessarily expect a new studio outing from Danish instrumental psych masters Causa Sui, but Vibraciones Doradas found them as vibrant as ever, bringing forth a surprising amount of tonal weight on songs like “El Fuego,” warm fuzz for the basking on opener “The Drop” and spaciousness on the closing title-track. Somewhat more straight-ahead in its rocking groove than 2016’s Return to Sky (review here), the five-track/38-minute long-player showed yet again why Causa Sui are always welcome and that any news of a new release from them, live, studio, whatever, is good news. This was the kind of record that could make your day if you let it.

19. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable

telekinetic yeti abominable

Released by Sump Pump Records. Reviewed April 10.

The Iowa-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Alex Baumann and drummer Anthony Dreyer, operating as Telekinetic Yeti, released what I considered to be the debut of the year, both for the fullness of its tonality and the accomplishment in songcraft it already showed. Powered by cuts like its lumbering title-track and the gloriously fuzzed runner “Stoned and Feathered,” it could’ve been another band’s second or third record for the level of cohesion on display and the obvious awareness on the part of the band of what they wanted to do with their sound and the just-as-obvious result of their bringing it to life.

18. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kozmic dust

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Dec. 9, 2016.

While I admit I’m still not 100 percent certain on whether to spell “kozmic” in the title with a ‘k’ or with a ‘c’ on the end, that question did nothing ultimately to diminish enjoyment of Denver emergents Cloud Catcher‘s sophomore outing. Topped off by one of the best album covers of the year, the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), took the progressive casting of that record to a place entirely more raw and rock-driven, willfully roughing up the edges even as it showed marked creative growth on a relatively quick turnaround. The must-hear bass tone of “Beyond the Electric Sun” and “Super Acid Magick” was icing on a cake of choice riffing and Hendrixian lead swirl, and the shuffle they elicited was enough to make even the most stubborn of asses (i.e. mine) think about moving.

17. Ruby the Hatchet, Planetary Space Child

ruby the hatchet planetary space child

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 29.

After the neo-garage manifestations of their 2015 sophomore outing, Valley of the Snake (review here), it was clear Philly psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet were a force when it came to songwriting. What was less obvious was what they’d do with that going forward. On Planetary Space Child, at least, the answer is they’ll take it to Freaktown. The melody-happy, organ-laced swirlmasters conjured presence kosmiche enough to justify the album’s title, and around the cast-in-moon-rock structures of the swinging “Pagan Ritual” and the playfully doomed “Symphony of the Night,” Ruby the Hatchet built a multifaceted weirdoist triumph the likes of which simply doesn’t come along every year, establishing themselves as more reliable and less predictable than ever: an absolute win.

16. Alunah, Solennial

alunah solennial

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 1.

It’s been the case more or less all along with UK forest rockers Alunah that their nature-minded material and heavy rolling grooves have had their haunting aspects, but with the production of Conan‘s Chris Fielding behind it, Solennial — their fourth LP and first on Svart — brought this to new levels entirely. The songs, memorable like footprints in the woods, are somewhat bittersweet in context now, since founding guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day announced in September she was leaving the band, but as the group will move forward led by guitarist Dave Day and recently acquired new singer Siân Greenaway, intrigue remains high at what the future might bring and the impact of Solennial is undiminished.

15. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream

mindkult-lucifers-dream

Released by Transcending Obscurity Records and Caligari Records.

Virginia-based doomgazing garage cult solo-project Mindkult has thus far managed to keep some of the mystique around its sole inhabitant, Fowst, which is admirable in a way. As the multi-instrmentalist, vocalist and producer this year answered the promise of last year’s Witch’s Oath (review here) debut, he did so around a swath of purposeful miseries, loose devil worship and other dark thematics, casting an atmospheric darkness matched head-on by the tonal murk of his riffs. Through this, however, the songwriting was no less memorable than on the first offering, and as the project moves forward, one can only hope that Fowst will continue to use that as the core aspect buried six feet under his other, formidable stylistic achievements. That certainly was how it worked out on Lucifer’s Dream.

14. Argus, From Fields of Fire

argus from fields of fire
Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Sept. 1.

Behold ye perhaps the most underrated band in heavy metal. Regardless of subgenre, style, strata, whatever, it’s hard to listen to From Fields of Fire and think of Pittsburgh’s Argus as anything else. The five-piece’s fourth album continued to owe part of its sound to doom, but was much more encompassing than simply that, touching on aspects of classic metal with a command that left one wondering how they hadn’t yet been tapped to open for Judas Priest on that band’s next tour. Victory abounds on a per-song basis throughout the nine-tracker, and whether it was the emotional crux of “Hour of Longing” or the catchy fistpump righteousness of “Devils of Your Time” or the 11-minute progressive reach of “Infinite Lives/Infinite Doors,” Argus once again crafted a work nigh-unmatched in poise and class.

13. Uffe Lorenzen, Galmandsværk

Uffe-Lorenzen-Galmandsvaerk

Released by Bad Afro Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

For the first outing ever to be issued under his real name, Denmark’s Uffe Lorenzen — aka Lorenzo Woodrose of garage-psych pioneers Baby Woodrose — danced between acid folk singer-songwriterisms like “Flippertøs” and more expansive jamming on “På Kanten Af Verden,” all the while retaining his distinct structural and arrangement sensibilities and creating a flowing vibe that was nothing less than a pure joy of classic-form psychedelia. The most serene and pastoral freakout one was likely to witness in 2017, easily, Galmandsværk resounded in the Mellotron-laced “Høj Som Et Højhus” and was no less at home in the acoustic spaciousness of the earlier “Remits Tyranni,” able to wander where it pleased and find steady ground in molten surroundings.

12. The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season

the flying eyes burning of the season

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 11.

A welcome return from a viciously underappreciated band, The Flying EyesBurning of the Season marked the Baltimore four-piece’s first offering for Ripple Music and first since 2013’s Lowlands (review here), a four-year stretch during which the band kept busy touring Europe and South America, the latter also being where they recorded these songs with Gabriel Zander at Estudio Superfuzz in Brazil. The tonal depth resulting from that process was enough to make the collection a highlight, but it was the songs themselves that most stood out, benefiting from the band’s expanded reach and legitimate, hard-won maturity. Especially for a group who’ve done so much work on the road over their years — to be fair, the US has been pretty low priority in that regard — they remain a secret kept too well.

11. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper

bell witch mirror reaper

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed Dec. 27.

Doomed extremity simply unmatched in its scope. The song of the year for 2017. An accomplishment the likes of which is prone to happen maybe once or twice in a generation. None of this seems to really speak to the entirety of the achievement that is Bell Witch‘s Mirror Reaper — the single-song, 83-minute full-length issued by the Seattle duo like a challenge in the face of mortality itself. Beautiful, devastating and weighted like the grave, its sprawl utterly consumed the listener, and I firmly believe it will be years before its depths are fully processed. Some offerings are bigger than the year in which they’re released. Mirror Reaper would seem to function on a scale of its own, and though it could easily be read as a litmus test for audience punishment, the truth of the listening experience is both more emotionally complex and more fulfilling than simple hyperbole can capture.

10. Monolord, Rust

monolord rust

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Oct. 26.

The story all along with Gothenburg’s Monolord has been tone. Tone tone tone. Crush crush crush. Riffs riffs riffs. Nothing wrong with any of that, but their third album, Rust, proves once and for all that there’s more to the trio than “cool riffs bro” and post-Electric Wizard nod. Catchy cuts like “Dear Lucifer” and rolling opener “Where Death Meets the Sea” brought a sense of space leading to the later sprawl of “Forgotten Lands” and “At Niceae,” and the band settled into an individualized, lumbering psychedelia that moved forward from 2015’s Vænir (review here), not leaving behind the heft that earned them their reputation, but not at all being limited by it either in scope or overall approach. Three records in, Rust brought forth Monolord‘s greatest sonic expansion yet and gave rise to the feeling that their true potential was just starting to come to fruition. Also, crush crush crush. Cool riffs, bro.

9. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

vokonis-the-sunken-djinn

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 5.

The Sunken Djinn is Vokonis‘ second full-length in as many years, and in addition to serving as their Ripple debut where 2016’s Olde One Ascending (review here) landed via Ozium Records, it was a feast for hungry riff hounds. In defiance of its quick turnaround, it showed a firm evolution taking place within the upstart Swedish trio of guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, bassist/backing vocalist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larsson, whose range overall was greater in tracks like “Rapturous” and the torrential “Blood Vortex” while nonetheless controlled in its delivery. Their Sleep-y origins still a factor sound-wise, Vokonis were able just the same to push themselves ahead into new sonic ground in fittingly lumbering fashion, and the character they brought to “The Sunken Djinn,” “Calling from the Core” and the noise-caked “Maelstroem” seemed to speak to a burgeoning sense of atmospheric focus taking hold as well. Still so much potential here.

8. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals

electric moon stardust rituals

Released by Sulatron Records. Reviewed April 7.

Do I even need to remotely justify having Electric Moon‘s first studio album in six years on this list? Was it not just like a love-letter issued by the cosmos itself? What more explanation could possibly be necessary? Not that the German trio haven’t dropped copious, glorious live outings all the while, but to have Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, “Komet Lulu” Neudeck and Marcus Schnitzler follow-up 2011’s The Doomsday Machine (review here) with four cuts culminating in the 22-minute sprawl of “(You Will) Live Forever Now” was high on the list of the year’s most satisfying psychedelic journeys. Constantly exploring, their methods always seem geared toward finding the molten essence of space rock itself, and though the songs on Stardust Rituals were a little more crafted than some of their straight-up improv jams, they nonetheless showed there are many avenues one might take to get to the heart of the sun.

7. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun-blood-stories-it-runs-around-the-room-with-us

Self-released. Reviewed May 1.

This one is personal, and by that I mean I love this fucking band. Similar to my experience with their 2015 sophomore outing, Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), the third record by Boise-based trio of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) was one that I simply could not put down. Even now, seeing the name of the record is all I need to have songs like “The Great Destroyer” and the immersive midsection in “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” stuck in my head, let alone the ultra-brazen, searingly-pissed “Burn” noise assault that finished the album and in the span of 90 seconds turned all the psychedelic warmth and serenity on its face with a visceral anger completely unforeseen and jarring, turning it from a depth-laden execution of adventurous neo-psych and indie into a project of conceptual artistry with all the efficiency of the chemical reaction it sought to portray. If you missed it, your loss.

6. The Atomic Bitchwax, Force Field

the-atomic-bitchwax-force-field

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Dec. 7.

Songs like “Alaskan Thunder Fuck,” “Humble Brag” and “Earth Shaker (Which Doobie U Be?)” assured that the defining character of Force Field, the sixth album from New Jersey’s The Atomic Bitchwax, was pure scorch. That made the 12-cut outing a more than worthy follow-up for 2015’s  Gravitron (review here), which introduced this more speed-rock-minded, aggressive delivery from the tight-as-nails trio, and while they proved they could still lock in a slower groove on the organ-topped finisher “Liv a Little,” head-spinners like the instrumental “Fried, Dyed and Layin’ to the Side” and “Houndstooth” came across like the fruit of the band pushing themselves to the limits of their physical ability in terms of tempo, and their ride along the edge of that line brought thrills at every turn. And make no mistake, there were a lot of turns. Fortunately, bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik, guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and drummer Bob Pantella seemingly had a corresponding hook in their pocket for each one of them. This band is a national treasure.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

atavismo inerte

Released by Temple of Torturous. Reviewed Feb. 21.

Warm, fuzzy tones, rhythmic shifts right out of classic progressive rock, melodic intricacy and periodic excursions into glorious psychedelic drift: I’m not sure what wasn’t to like about Inerte, Atavismo‘s second full-length behind 2014’s Desintegración (review here). Comprising five tracks of unmistakable flow and jam-laden fluidity, it was immersive with landmarks along the way to keep the listener from getting too lost, and whether or not one spoke Spanish, the three-piece of Jose “Poti” Moreno (ex-Viaje a 800Mind!), bassist/vocalist Mateo and drummer/vocalist Sandri Pow (also ex-Mind!) made it easy to follow along their purposefully meandering path, offering guidance no less skillful on the 11-minute fuzz-freaker “El Sueño” than the dream-toned linear build of “Belleza Cuatro.” There were very, very few albums I listened to more this year than this one, which is precisely why it is where it is on this list.

4. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe

samsara-blues-experiment-one-with-the-universe

Released by Electric Magic Records and Abraxas Records. Reviewed May 4.

Four years between records isn’t at all an unheard of stretch. It’s not the longest on this list by any means. But with Berlin heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment, it really seemed like the band was done, so to have them come back with such force on One with the Universe was, as I know I said at several points throughout the last 12 months, one of the year’s total highlights. Tracked by former bassist Richard Behrens, the group’s fourth album answered the extended-track spread of 2013’s Waiting for the Flood (review here) with a deeper sense of sonic variety, and while the 15-minute title-cut and opener “Vispassana” still had plenty of room for jamming out and even six-minute centerpiece “Glorious Daze” found room for some flourish of organ and sitar, guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters, drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt rightly featured the chemistry they’ve built as a trio live and brought to the songs a renewed sense of vigor, sounding — and hopefully being — truly inspired. Waiting for the Flood capped a period of marked productivity across several years. Fingers crossed One with the Universe begins that cycle anew.

3. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World

Elder-Reflections-of-a-Floating-World

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed May 23.

You just can’t consider Elder‘s Reflections of a Floating World outside the context of the progressive achievement that was their prior outing, 2015’s Lore (review here). Where the trio — based now between Massachusetts and Berlin, Germany — took their first two outings, 2008’s self-titled debut (discussed here) and 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here), to find their sound, which they began to showcase on the 2012 Spires Burn/Release EP (review here), it was Lore that brought to fruition the potential that had always been waiting to be unleashed by the trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto, and Reflections of a Floating World had the daunting task of being the next further step from that landmark moment. To say the band rose to the occasion is perhaps to undersell the cohesion at work in consuming-but-cohesive pieces like opener “Sanctuary” or “Blind” or “Staving off the Truth,” which brought together clear-headed psychedelia around a wash that seemed to stem as much from rhythm as melody. As they’ve matured stylistically and become a major touring presence, Elder have made themselves perhaps the most pivotal American heavy rock act going, and Reflections of a Floating World brings them to the discovery of yet another apex while at the same time giving zero indication it will be the last one they find.

2. Colour Haze, In Her Garden

colour haze in her garden

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed March 9.

Of course, the bonus of writing about Colour Haze in just about any context is that you get to put Colour Haze on while you’re doing it, and in the case of the 12th LP from these Munich heavy psych forebears, that’s an even more appealing prospect. After stripping down some of the arrangement flourish with 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), the 13-track/73-minute 2LP In Her Garden brought a revitalized sonic expansion, but as ever, it wasn’t just the horns or the strings or the blend of keys and acoustics that made In Her Garden the unbridled joy that it was and continues to be — it was the underlying performance from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald that gave the album the stem on which its garden grew. That’s not to say Jan Faszbender‘s work on modular synth, Rhodes, and Hammond or the arrangements of strings, tuba, bass-clarinet and trombone throughout hurt anything, just that as Colour Haze have grown into incorporating these elements into their groundbreaking aesthetic, they haven’t left behind the organic chemistry and necessary live feel that has helped them influence a generation of followers over their more than 20-year career. One came through as much as the other on In Her Garden, and that balance gave the overarching warmth of their self-recorded tonality yet another level on which to engage their audience. I’ll be a sucker for Colour Haze for as long as I live, and I have absolutely no problem admitting to and owning that.

1. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the war

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Jan. 27.

It was clear early on that Nashville four-piece All Them Witches were contending hard for Album of the Year with Sleeping Through the War, their fourth long-player and second for New West following the mellow vibes of 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here). What finally sealed it? The songs. Working with producer Dave Cobb, the each-member-essential lineup of bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, key-specialist Allan van Cleave (Rhodes, Mellotron, piano, organ, etc.) and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler solidified their approach in exciting new ways on early cuts like the grunge-crunching “Don’t Bring Me Coffee” and the shuffling “Bruce Lee,” which hit in succession following the fluid lead-in of opener “Bulls,” an introduction of the organic psychedelia and heavy blues that the loose-swinging of “3-5-7″‘s nigh-on-gospel chorus and subsequent, almost maddeningly catchy “Am I Going Up?” would continue to push outward, thereby setting a linear course into a consciousness-capturing side B with “Alabaster” and the jammier “Cowboy Kirk” and “Internet” playing between melodic nuance and mindful, go-with-it drift. The unflinching strength of the material was matched perhaps only by the understatement of its delivery, which was the more staggering considering how easily the arrangements of background vocals on “Am I Going Up?” or  “3-5-7” could have come through as overblown or self-indulgent, and by the time they got down to the light weirdo-bluesy stomp of “Internet” — the key lyric and hook being, “Guess I’ll go live on the internet” — there was no doubting the genuine nature of the realization Sleeping Through the War represented for All Them Witches. Coupling that feeling of achievement with the sheer repeatability of the listening experience itself left no doubt that 2017 belonged to these tracks and the marvelous way the band wove between them, and that whatever other sounds All Them Witches may go on to explore and whatever else they may accomplish as a result, Sleeping Through the War was a truly special moment in their evolution that, as with the best of offerings in any year, will continue to resonate long after the calendar page has turned.

The Next 20

You know, I used to feel like once you got past a top 20, the numbers were arbitrary. Then I felt that way about the top 30. This year, I think I agonized more about what to include in numbers 31-50 than I did between 30 and the album of the year. Put that in your “go figure” file while you chew on these picks:

31. Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts
32. The Midnight Ghost Train, Cypress Ave.
33. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
34. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
35. PH, Eternal Hayden
36. Sasquatch, Maneuvers
37. Young Hunter, Dayhiker
38. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
39. Ufomammut, 8
40. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
41. Paradise Lost, Medusa
42. Beastmaker, Inside the Skull
43. Arduini / Balich, Dawn of Ages
44. Primitive Man, Caustic
45. Motorpsycho, The Tower
46. Arbouretum, Song of the Rose
47. Hymn, Perish
48. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle
49. Pallbearer, Heartless
50. Dool, Here Now There Then

There’s so, so much good stuff here. So much. The Cities of Mars debut was a treasure and the only reason it wasn’t on my top debuts list was because I haven’t had the chance to go back in and put it on. The Young Hunter record? Some of their best work yet. Hell, that Arduini / Balich album alone! Then you’ve got huge releases by Pallbearer, Ufomammut, Paradise Lost, Primitive Man, on and on. Like I said at the outset, one more album and my head was gonna explode this year. Way too much to ever hope to keep up with. One thing though I felt like I really wanted to emphasize including was Dool. They’re in the last spot, but make no mistake, in atmosphere and songwriting that album was something really special and loaded with potential. It’s not there because it came in last. It’s there to highlight the point of how much it should be on this list.

What’s that? More records? Okay…

Honorable Mentions

In case you also weren’t completely overwhelmed this year, maybe another batch of records will do the trick. Here’s some presented alphabetically:

Anathema, The Optimist
Blackfinger, When Colors Fade Away
Child, Blueside
Cortez, The Depths Below
Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies
Elbrus, Elbrus
Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard
Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury
Five Horse Johnson, Jake Leg Boogie
Mirror Queen, Verdigris
The Obsessed, Sacred
T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock
Queens of the Stone Age, Villains
Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
Steak, No God to Save
Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light
Valborg, Endstrand
With the Dead, Love from With the Dead

Plus: Abronia, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Iron Monkey, Band of Spice, Puta Volcano, Galley Beggar, Heavy Traffic, Coltsblood, REZN, Green Meteor, Demon Head, Lord, Grigax, The Raynbow, Carpet, Norska, Les Lekin, Slow, Ixion, and I’m sure more that I’ll add as the names continue to pop into my head.

I did this back in June as well, but I also want to draw attention to a swath of quality live albums that came out this year. The top pick should be no surprise if you’ve been hanging around the site of late:

Live Albums:
1. SubRosa, Subdued Live at Roadburn
2. Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen
3. Slomatics, Futurians Live at Roadburn
4. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
5. Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion
5. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn

Thank You

It’s been a hell of a year, obviously. Musically and otherwise. As always, I cannot possibly come close to thanking you enough for your incredible and ongoing support of The Obelisk, of what this site is, what it’s become over its nearly nine-year run, what it will continue to become going forward from here. It is astounding to me and deeply humbling that you would possibly take time out of your busy day and your busy life to check out what’s going on here, and words fail me continually when it comes to feeling like I can properly convey my appreciation for that. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Tattoo it on my forehead.

Thank you to The Patient Mrs. for understanding how much I need to be doing this, to Slevin for keeping the site running on the technical end, to Behrang Alavi for taking over hosting earlier this year, to my family for their ongoing support, to The Pecan for sleeping late some mornings and giving me time to write, and to everyone who ever shared a link on social media or made a comment on a post or anything like that. To long-time readers and to newcomers alike — thank you so much. This year has seen a fair share of ups and downs, but the support this site gets sustains me in ways I never expected it could, and that would be impossible without you. Please know how crucial that is to me.

Well, that should do it. I know there are probably disagreements about where things landed on the list, what was included, what was left out, etc., as there always are. All comments are of course welcome — only thing I’d ask is you please keep it civil and respectful of the opinions of others. Otherwise, have at it. Please.

And one more time, thank you for reading.

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High Reeper Post “Die Slow” Video; European Tour Dates Coming Soon

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

high reeper

As Philly’s heavy scene expands, it’s cool to see bands coming up with a variety of sounds. Alongside psych rock acts like Ruby the Hatchet and Ecstatic Vision, High Reeper cast a gritty impression born of proto-doom riffing but presented with a modern edge in its production. The band, who self-released their self-titled debut (review here) earlier this year, signed to Heavy Psych Sounds to give it a wider/official pressing, and as has been known to happen in the best of cases, High Reeper have linked up with the label’s booking arm as well and will tour Europe this Spring. Right in the thick of festival season, as it happens. Funny how these things work out sometimes.

For many, the clip below for “Die Slow” will be their first exposure to High Reeper‘s Sabbath-fueled stylings, and with the five-piece headbanging away on stage, it’s just as light on BS visually as it is in structure — a good sense of what it’s all about and a propensity for following the riff? These are not things with which to argue. As the dates are announced, I’ll be interested to see particularly who they wind up hitting the road with — whether it’s a native European act or American compatriots. The label’s roster offers plenty of sound company to keep, of course, and whether it’s the likes of Killer Boogie, who also have a new record coming, or Texas rockers Duel, who’ve been abroad a couple times already — or hell, both — it seems like there’s a cool opportunity to put a killer package together.

Speculation on my part, of course. I haven’t heard anything or anything. When I do, I’ll post the dates, of course. Till then, you can check out the “Die Slow” clip below, followed as ever by more info from the PR wire.

Enjoy:

High Reeper, “Die Slow” official video

Die Slow is the first official music video of the upcoming High Reeper’s album !!!

The self-titled album will be released via Heavy Psych Sounds on March 16th

The US based rockers will tour Europe from 26th of April to 19th of May 2018 !!!

High Reeper’s self titled debut is an unapologetic punch to the face for fans of early ‘70s proto-metal. The sound and smell of leather, weed, boozing, gambling and death permeate the record from start to finish. Nine tracks that run from uptempo straight ahead rock, to slowed down, heavy, early doom. With a rhythm section throwing down grooves that are deeper than the darkest abyss and guitars big enough to put a hole in your chest, the record’s finale hits just as hard as its opening track. Vocals that soar above the guitars with laser like precision, while delivering a direct hit to your soul. Produced, engineered and mixed by bass player Shane Trimble at TTR studios in Philadelphia and at his home studio Delwood sound in Delaware. The production is laced with old school elements while still maintaining the focus of a modern release. Recorded in the fall of 2017, High Reeper is meant to be played loud and to be played often.

AVAILABLE IN:
LIMITED ORANGE TRANSPARENT VINYL
BLACK VINYL
DIGIPAK / DIGITAL

High Reeper is:
Pat Daly
Zach Thomas
Andrew Price
Napz Mosley
Shane Trimble

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

High Reeper on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

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Rosetta to Release Utopioid on Pelagic Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

rosetta

One tends to think of Philadelphia post-metallers Rosetta as being vigilantly DIY since their time ended on Translation Loss, but I guess when Pelagic Records comes knocking, you answer the door. The label helmed by Robin Staps of The Ocean has tapped the band for a release of their 2017 outing, Utopioid, that’s available to preorder now and due to ship before the end of the year. Time’s running out to hit that mark, but no doubt they’ll get there, as both parties involved are perpetually on their shit — pro-shop and whatnot.

I’ll be curious to see if the alliance will continue after this record, and if it might involve tour support to get Rosetta back over to Europe sometime in 2018, but either way, Utopioid‘s a cool album (you can stream it at the bottom of this post) and if this release gets it into more ears, then all the better.

The PR wire takes it from here:

Rosetta Utopioid

ROSETTA Joins The Pelagic Records Roster For The Release Of Utopioid Later This Month; Limited Edition Vinyl Available

Utopioid is the sixth full-length from Philadelphia’s ROSETTA. Written as a four-part song cycle that treads multipolar extremes of texture and dynamics, it reaches the highest heights and the deepest lows of the band’s career and serves as their most concept-driven work to date. An unflinching study of human aspiration, frailty, and betrayal, the album is equal parts mysticism and the band’s own biography, encapsulating and transcending their fourteen years of sonic experimentation.

Initially released earlier this year independently by the band, Pelagic will be releasing the captivating release on limited edition vinyl and CD. Secure your copy HERE.

Formed in Philadelphia in 2003 as a four-piece, ROSETTA’s first two albums — 2005’s The Galilean Satellites and 2007’s Wake/Lift — pulled together elements from ’90s hardcore, drone, doom, and atmospheric sludge metal. Informed as much by the minimal soundscapes of Stars Of The Lid as by the pulverizing weight of Godflesh, the band’s compositions had a spaced-out, exploratory feel, appropriately dubbed “metal for astronauts.” 2010’s A Determinism Of Morality moved on from celestial themes, focusing on increased melodic sophistication while honing a confrontational urgency.

After concluding a decade-long partnership with Translation Loss Records in 2013, ROSETTA embraced their newfound independence with the self-funded, pay-as-you-wish album The Anaesthete. The darkest, most unsettling album of the band’s career also marked their greatest success so far, recouping costs in twenty-four hours and remaining the top-selling release on Bandcamp for nearly a month. 2015’s Quintessential Ephemera, ROSETTA’s first effort as a five-piece, received widespread critical and audience acclaim for its energized guitar interplay and evolution of the band’s core sound.

With Utopioid, ROSETTA has again upended their stylistic palette. But as always, with ever deeper gratitude for the investment of fans around the world, they continue to search for the intersection of heaviness and beauty.

http://rosettaband.tumblr.com
http://www.facebook.com/rosettaband
http://www.pelagic-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pelagicrecords

Rosetta, Utopioid (2017)

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High Reeper Announce Self-Titled LP Details; Preorders Now Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

high reeper

March 16 will serve as the official issue date for High Reeper‘s self-titled debut album through Heavy Psych Sounds. Initially self-released, the nine-track High Reeper (review here) has been given new cover art and preorders are available as of today for those who like to be ahead of the game. March is a while out yet, so there’s still no audio made public from the outing — it was up on Bandcamp for the initial release, of course, but has been removed in advance of this new incarnation — but you can pretty much expect that will come soon, and I’ll be interested to see if High Reeper end up touring at home or abroad, what with Heavy Psych Sounds‘ booking arm so often active and whatnot.

Album details from the PR wire:

high reeper high reeper

Philly stoner rockers HIGH REEPER unveil details for debut album “High Reeper” on Heavy Psych Sounds!

Philly-based stoner rockers HIGH REEPER have announced the release of their self-titled debut album on March 16th via Heavy Psych Sounds.

HIGH REEPER’s self titled debut is an unapologetic punch in the face for fans of early ‘70s proto-metal. The sound and smell of leather, weed, boozing, gambling and death permeate the record from start to finish. Nine tracks that run from uptempo straight-ahead rock, to slowed down, heavy, early doom. With a rhythm section throwing down grooves that are deeper than the darkest abyss and guitars big enough to put a hole in your chest, the record’s final hits just as hard as its opening track. Vocals soar above guitars with laser-like precision, while delivering a direct hit to your soul. Produced, engineered and mixed by bass player Shane Trimble at TTR studios in Philadelphia as well as his home studio Delwood sound in Delaware, the sound is laced with old school elements while still maintaining the focus of a modern-sounding release. Recorded in the fall of 2017, “High Reeper” is meant to be played loud and to be played often!

HIGH REEPER debut album “High Reeper”
Out March 16th on Heavy Psych Sounds
Presale start December 8th here

TRACKLIST :
1. Die Slow
2. Chrome Hammer
3. Soul Taker
4. High Reeper
5. Reeper Deadly Reeper
6. Weed & Speed
7. Double Down And Let It Ride
8. Black Leather (Chose Us)
9. Friend Of Death

High Reeper is:
Pat Daly
Zach Thomas
Andrew Price
Napz Mosley
Shane Trimble

https://www.facebook.com/HIGHREEPER/
https://highreeper.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/

High Reeper, “Soul Taker” live at Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia

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High Reeper Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds; Debut Album out Early 2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Philly’s High Reeper have signed to Heavy Psych Sounds and will release their debut full-length through the Italian imprint early next year. Since the tracks have been pulled down from Bandcamp and YouTube since the record was reviewed here a couple months back, I’m going to assume the debut in question is the same self-titled offering the band had put out themselves earlier this year, which was marked out by cuts like “Friend of Death,” “Weed and Speed” and “Soul Taker,” a live version of which you can watch at the bottom of this post. I don’t have confirmation that it’s the same record and not something else entirely, so don’t go quoting me on that, but it makes sense in terms of timing and on the general principle of those songs having kicked ass that Heavy Psych Sounds would step in to put them out.

The PR wire doesn’t really go into much detail on the subject, but here’s what I’ve got to work from:

high reeper

Philadelphia stoner rockers HIGH REEPER to release debut album through Heavy Psych Sounds next year!

Heavy Psych Sounds Records is stoked to announce the signing of Philly-based stoner doom rockers HIGH REEPER, for the release of their debut album in the beginning of 2018 on the label.

Formed in 2016, HIGH REEPER is made up of Zach Thomas, Napz Mosley, Andrew Price, Pat Daly and Shane Trimble. Originally started as a studio band, it rapidly became apparent that these songs were meant to be heard live and loud. The band made their debut in the Philly stoner rock scene in early 2017 with success, which was followed up by the recording of their self-titled debut in May.

With a sound deeply rooted in modern stoner rock, while still giving a nod to the earliest Sabbath records, HIGH REEPER’s first offering is driven by pounding rhythms, thick guitars and soaring, screeching vocals. Running from uptempo straightforward rock to slowed-down, heavy, early doom, with a rhythm section throwing down grooves that are deeper than the darkest abyss and guitars big enough to put a hole in your chest, HIGH REEPER is meant to be played loud and on repeat!

High Reeper is:
Pat Daly
Zach Thomas
Andrew Price
Napz Mosley
Shane Trimble

https://www.facebook.com/HIGHREEPER/
https://highreeper.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/

High Reeper, “Soul Taker” live at Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia

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