Review & Track Premiere: Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

green-meteor-consumed-by-a-dying-sun

[Click play above to hear ‘Mirrored Parabola Theory’ from Green Meteor’s Consumed by a Dying Sun. Album out April 21 on Argonauta Records.]

From the abiding buzzsaw fuzz that permeates the five included tracks to the samples at the beginning of “Acute Emerald Elevation” and “Sleepless Lunar Dawn” to the comic book cover art that adorns the front cover to the density of groove as they roll out reefer riff after reefer riff, the intention behind Green Meteor‘s Consumed by a Dying Sun seems to be to tap into the raw roots of ’90s-style stoner rock. Fortunately, the Philadelphia four-piece bring a few crucial lessons of modernity with them along this trip through neo-retroism. I don’t recall even early Acid King being this blown-out, for example, and the tonal devouring here from first-names-only guitarists Amy and Leta (the latter also vocals) and the bass of Algar that’s shoved forward by Tony‘s drums does not forget to chew. It has teeth. And bite.

That proved to be the case last year when the band unveiled “Acute Emerald Elevation” (posted here) as a lead-in teaser prior to signing with Argonauta Records for the actual album release, and the same song does well on Consumed by a Dying Sun to let the listener know that while indeed they might be blasting off into space, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride getting there. The key to understanding the record’s utterly-manageable 32-minute run is realizing that Green Meteor are using the roughness of sound to their advantage, giving their aesthetic a garage-derived feel so that the Hawkwind-via-Monster Magnet thrust of the intro to the closing title-track seems as well to be playing off an Uncle Acid mindset in a manner that almost foreshadows the noise-soaked roller apex before the punkier last push of the record as a whole.

All of this happens quickly, but with immersion, and because Green Meteor are so tonally-centered — even Leta‘s voice seems to have been swallowed by the instruments surrounding — Consumed by a Dying Sun is able to work through its material while deceptively changing pace and the intentions of a given song. It is Green Meteor‘s first album, and it sounds like a first album in how the band seems to be working through the process of figuring out where they want to take their material and where they want their material to take them, but as that unfolds, they demonstrate a clear penchant for melding hooks and an underlying focus on songwriting that, while buried like the vocals, remains a present, consistent theme from “Acute Emerald Elevation” onward. Another manner in which Green Meteor prove loyal to the ’90s roots of stoner rock? It’s three minutes into the six-minute opener before the first verse starts.

It would seem to be as close to an eponymous cut as the band is willing to come, rounding out with repetitions of “green meteor” from Leta, who pushes her voice in a manner reminiscent of Stars that Move, and leading to “Sleepless Lunar Dawn” which is the longest track at 9:37 and a mid-paced swing that roughs up and blisses out Sleep-style grooving en route to a snare-mania from Tony that chills for its middle third before resuming in a kind of back-and-forth between languid flow and energetic uptick — intermittent thrusters; it happens — as it aligns planets for the more massively-riffed arrival of centerpiece “In the Shadow of Saturn.” It’s shorter at just over seven minutes, but “In the Shadow of Saturn” brims with addled purpose, and where “Sleepless Lunar Dawn” seems to grow impatient in its back half, here the foursome largely stick to the slow-oozing molasses from whence they begin. There’s a bit of kick here and there, but the primary focus is nod and that suits Green Meteor well at the beginning of what would likely be an LP’s side B.

“In the Shadow of Saturn” caps with radar ping that leads, on rhythm, into the uptempo start of “Mirrored Parabola Theory.” It’s the shortest inclusion at 3:34, and some of that might be due to pace alone, but as Leta finds her way into a memorable stretch ranting about a tilting hourglass — strange things are afoot, but science is happening — toward the end of the track, it’s also the most direct emphasis Green Meteor put on songwriting throughout Consumed by a Dying Sun, and it proves essential between the hypnotic gravitational field of “In the Shadow of Saturn” and the finale’s more blistering cosmic pulsations. Like a radar signal from space to let you know someone’s out there? Maybe. Might be a stretch. There’s telemetry from the probe that needs more analysis, but it’s important to consider that with “Mirrored Parabola Theory,” Green Meteor give clear notice to their listener that their purview includes more traditional structures as well as the kind of all-go explosiveness with which they choose to end “Consumed by a Dying Sun.”

In hindsight, they let you know it’s coming at the start of the track, but by the time it comes around again just past four minutes in, the molten midsection of the closer — a touch of Electric Wizard, more Acid King, more Sleep, lots of noise; no complaints — has melted consciousness away to the point where it’s legitimately an unexpected turn. That’s to the band’s advantage, certainly. They end on a final verse at full speed and an almost surprising amount of human presence amidst the onslaught, and wind up underscoring the primary are-my-speakers-blown wash of Consumed by a Dying Sun with the feeling that our species and the untamed vacuum can in fact coexist in their work. I won’t speculate on how Green Meteor might develop from here or the shifts they could make in aesthetic or which impulses will ultimately win out as they move forward, but Consumed by a Dying Sun deftly asserts honesty in its rawness and is all the more refreshing for that. As far as launch points go, theirs provides a suitable blast.

Green Meteor on Thee Facebooks

Green Meteor on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Heavy Temple Touring with Pilgrim in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Kind of an ICYMI here, in the parlance of our times, but good to note either way that next month, Philly’s Heavy Temple will hit the road alongside Rhode Island doomers Pilgrim. The latter seem poised to make something of a comeback this year after nearly grinding themselves into dust in support of their last full-length, 2014’s II: Void Worship (review here), and in joining them, Heavy Temple make their most significant leap into touring life yet. It’s an East Coast run, and they did hit the Midwest last fall, but 10 dates on the road is the longest I’ve seen from them to-date. Doubt it will be the last.

They of course go supporting the 2016/2017 release Chassit (review here), alternately billed as a debut full-length and a second EP (the latter below). I had thought I read of a parting of ways with guitarist Archbishop Barghest, but maybe I’m wrong about that or bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk and drummer Siren Tempestas are heading out as a duo? I’d be interested to know for sure either way.

To be perfectly honest, half my impulse in posting these dates a couple weeks after they were first announced is in making sure they’re here for future reference. Seems like the kind of thing I’ll want to have to look back on down the line.

From the PR wire:

pilgrim heavy temple tour

Heavy Temple to tour with Pilgrim

Heavy psych/doom band HEAVY TEMPLE released their new EP Chassit on January 27th 2017. The EP was initially available on cassette and digital formats via Tridroid Records and CD is now available via Van Records.

Heavy Temple formed at the end of 2012 with High Priestess Nighthawk on bass and vocals and presently features Siren Tempestas on drums and Archbishop Barghest on guitar.

The band will also be playing some shows with doom heavyweights PILGRIM in March:

TOUR DATES:
March 2nd The Fire, Philadelphia, PA
March 3rd The Broadberry (With Windhand), Richmond, VA
March 4th Pilgrim (With Subrosa) Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY
March 4th Heavy Temple (With Toke) TBA, Winston, Salem NC
March 5th Riffhouse Pub,, Chesapeake, VA
March 6th Sidebar, Baltimore, MD
March 7th Meatlocker, Montclair, NJ
March 8th O’Briens, Boston MA
March 9th Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY
March 10th Bug Jar, Rochester, NY
March 11th Geno’s, Portland, ME
March 12th AS220, Providence, RI

https://www.facebook.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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Ecstatic Vision to Release Raw Rock Fury April 7; New Single Posted & Tours Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

ecstatic vision photo michael connor

Hot damn. Philly space-truckers Ecstatic Vision make a compelling claim over the title of their second record with the first track reveal from it. The album? They’re calling it Raw Rock Fury, which feels way more immediately declarative than did their 2015 debut, Sonic Praise (review here). The song? It’s called “You Got It (Or You Don’t),” and with it, the four-piece seem to be throwing down a seven-minute gauntlet of frenzied kraut-jamming and warp-seven psychedelia.

I like the fact that the record’s only got four tracks on it, I like the fact that they’ve already got a return trip to Europe booked to support it — they’d previously been announced for Desertfest and Sonic Ritual, so we kind of knew a tour was coming — and I like the fact that “You Got It (Or You Don’t)” feels like an immediate forward leap from the last time out. Could it be that Ecstatic Vision have decided to name themselves the new masters of the cosmos? Guess we’ll find out April 7 when the album hits, via Relapse, as did the last one.

From the PR wire:

ecstatic-vision-raw-rock-fury

ECSTATIC VISION Announce New Album Raw Rock Fury Coming April 7th via Relapse Records

Unveil First Single “You Got It (Or You Don’t)”

U.S. Tour Announced: SXSW and More with Creepoid

Philadelphia’s heavy psych quartet ECSTATIC VISION return with their 2nd LP Raw Rock Fury, the follow up to 2015’s highly acclaimed Sonic Praise.

The band commented on the new album: “With ‘Raw Rock Fury’, we set out to make an album that would remind listeners of what an unpolished, dangerous rock recording should sound like. This is the opening composition entitled “You Got It (Or You Don’t)”. Prepare for a searing mash-up of the driving rhythms of Sly & The Family Stone mixed with the sounds of Hawkwind playing Funhouse-era Troglodyte Rock.”

April 7th, 2017 will see the worldwide release of Raw Rock Fury via Relapse Records on CD/LP/Digital. Physical pre-order and bundles are available via Relapse HERE and digital downloads can be pre-ordered by Bandcamp HERE.

Raw Rock Fury exhibits the band locking in on primordial, troglodyte Detroit rock grooves, krautian motorik sounds that recall the obscure one-time collaboration between NEU and the MC5, grimy harmonica flourishes that evoke Beefheart at his most savage, and the Hawkwindian, primal world heavy psych their debut expertly showcased. All of this is captured on four songs and 35+ minutes of the dirtiest sounding recordings since Kick Out The Jams. Do you miss the days when rock recordings were dangerous? If so, you must crave Raw Rock Fury.

After touring extensively with the likes of YOB, Uncle Acid and the deadbeats and others, ECSTATIC VISION head out again with Creepoid. The leg includes SXSW, Chicago, Denver and more before traveling to Europe for an appearance at Desertfest. All dates available below.

Ecstatic Vision
Raw Rock Fury
Relapse Records
April 7, 2017
Pre-order Here
1 – You Got It (Or You Don’t)
2 – The Electric Step
3 – Keep it Loose
4 – The Twinkling Eye

ECSTATIC VISION Live Dates:
Mar 16-18: Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar 20: Oklahoma City, OK – 89th Street Collective #
Mar 21: Wichita, KS – Kirby’s Beer Store #
Mar 22: Fort Collins, CO – Surfside #
Mar 23: Denver, CO – Hi-Dive #
Mar 24: Salt Lake City, UT – Diabolical Records #
Mar 25-26: Boise, ID – Treefort Music Fest #
Mar 28: Omaha, NE – O’Leavers #
Mar 29: Chicago, IL – Subterranean #
Mar 30: Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class #
# – w/ Creepoid

Europe
Apr 21: Roma, IT – HPS Night
Apr 22: Parma, IT – Titty Twister
Apr 24: Trieste, IT – Tertis
Apr 25: Salzburg, AT – Rockhouse
Apr 26: Bologna, IT – Alchemica Club
Apr 27: Olten, CH – Le Coq D’Or
Apr 28: Liege, BE – Garage
Apr 29: Nijmegen, NL – Doornroosje
Apr 30: Berlin, DE – Desertfest
May 02: Koln, DE – Limes
May 03: Paris, FR – Glazart
May 04: Lille, FR – Biplan
May 05: Rennes, FR – Mondo Bizarro
May 06: Clermont Ferrand, FR – Raymond Bar
May 09: Sevilla, ES – Sala X
May 10: Louele, PT – Bafo Baraco
May 11: Cascais, PT – Stairway Club
May 12: Madrid, ES – Wulrlitzer Ballroom
May 13: San Sebastian, ES – DABADABA
May 14: Bordeaux, FR – VOID
May 16: Lucerne, CH – Treibhaus Luzern
May 17: Bolzano, IT – Sudwerk
May 18: Zagreb, HR – Vintage Bar
May 19: Ravenna, IT – Bronson
May 20: Milano, IT – BLOOD (Sonic Ritual)

ECSTATIC VISION is:
Doug Sabolik
Michael Field Connor
Jordan Crouse
Kevin Nickles

https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticvision
https://twitter.com/ecstaticvision_
https://www.instagram.com/ecstaticvision
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.facebook.com/relapserecords
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.twitter.com/relapserecords

Ecstatic Vision, “You Got It (Or You Don’t)”

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Canyon, Canyon: Process Beginnings

Posted in Reviews on February 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

canyon self titled

At four tracks and just under 19 minutes, the self-titled debut EP from Philadelphia three-piece Canyon give listeners just enough of a glimpse of where they might be headed to emphasize the potential at work. Canyon is their first outing since getting together in 2015 with the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Peter Stanko, bassist/vocalist Dean Welsh and drummer/vocalist Anthony Bove and after an initial digital self-release and tape through Anvileater Records, the short outing shows up as a full jewel-case CD with a picture of the band out front to emphasize the classic ideas they’re working from. I would not be surprised if some of the root jams out of which opener “Mashriq” was formed were some of Canyon‘s earliest, as there is definitely a formative aspect to their approach, vocals following the riff closely in a bouncing rhythm that, even compared to what follows on the palpably airier “She Comes to Me,” seems straightforward in a we’re-a-new-band-getting-our-footing kind of way.

That process itself, honestly represented as it is, can be and is refreshing to hear, and in the context of Canyon‘s style, which benefits greatly from an organic warmth of tone in the guitar and bass along with the interplay of vocals, it makes a particular sense that they would showcase where they’re at in this early stage of their progression. Their sound, captured here by Alex Santilli, who engineered and mixed at Spice House Sound while Mark Trewella at Full Circle Mastering handled the finishing touches, is raw, but still offers plenty to the curious listener, and even more so on repeat visits.

After some initial thud, “Mashriq” starts off with a righteously fuzzed impression. Philly has seen no shortage of heavy psych come through the last couple years, from Ruby the Hatchet and Ecstatic Vision to Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlesome Bells, but right away, “Mashriq” positions Canyon as having a more earthbound take — fitting enough for their name, I suppose — given to roll and straightforwardness in structure. At just under three and a half minutes, it’s the shortest of the four inclusions on the EP and as “She Comes to Me,” “Radiant Light” and “Tell Me Mister” play out behind it, it becomes something of an outlier stylistically for that. Where Stanko, Welsh and Bove soon enough dig into a languid blend of heavy blues rock and, in the case of “Radiant Light” particularly, find a niche for themselves in dreamy vocal melodicism to complement a shimmer in Stanko‘s guitar, the leadoff cut seems more about establishing a context on which the subsequent material builds.

Maybe that’s Canyon‘s way of easing the listener into their world, and that’s certainly valid, even on a short offering like this one, but “Mashriq,” while a strong opener and memorable in its hook, ultimately does little to account for some of the fleshed-out vibes that follow, even as “Tell Me Mister” rounds out with a return to a more energetic push and the gotta-hear-it buzz-tone that begs to be turned up even louder than it starts. How one accounts for that will depend on the listener, but if we look at the concept of a “debut EP” doing the work that a band’s “demo” used to do, then Canyon‘s establishes them as an outfit with an immediately varied approach of craft, however nascent it might otherwise be.

Could that be the work of multiple songwriters? I don’t know, but I’d believe it based on how the progression plays out front to back. Most importantly, however, Canyon offer intrigue and show several potential avenues for future growth and where their sound might go, toying with pop elements in their use of backing vocals in a kind of garage-grunge mindset — this happens in “Mashriq” as well — and dedicate themselves to a breadth of approach that stays apparent even in this abbreviated context. As to how that growth might manifest, it hardly seems fair to speculate, but as the self-titled plays out with increasing complexity almost on a song-by-song basis until “Tell Me Mister” bridges the gap in summarizing what the band has been putting together all the while, it’s easy enough to foresee Canyon stabilizing their approach to songwriting in a way that allows them to construct a full-album flow.

This, of course, is essential to the work of an initial outing like this one — to give the band lessons to learn as they move forward, and I hear nothing in the tracks to make me think Canyon won’t do precisely that. On the most basic level, it’s a quick debut outing — a demo by any other name — that shows potential in tone and in trading between bounce and blues and drift and thrust all while holding to identifiable markers and avoiding a direct, blatant flag-bearing of its influences. This already is more than one might reasonably ask of it, and it is not by any means the sum total of what is delivered.

Canyon, Canyon (2017)

Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Canyon on Bandcamp

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Review & Track Premiere: Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Stinking-Lizaveta-Journey-To-The-Underworld

[Click play above to stream ‘Blood, Milk and Honey’ from Stinking Lizaveta’s new album, Journey to the Underworld. Release is Feb. 17 on Translation Loss.]

You’d have to look pretty far and pretty wide to find a band who’s been weirder, for longer, than Stinking Lizaveta. Much farther and wider than Philadelphia, anyhow, which is from whence the instrumentalist trio have been emanating their one-of-a-kind progressive blend of rock, jazz, punk, metal and doom for more than 20 years — their first album, …Hopelessness and Shame, released in 1996 preceded by a few earlier singles. The three-piece of founding guitarist Yanni Papadopoulos, founding upright electric bassist Alexi Papadopoulos and founding drummer Cheshire Agusta have established their own wavelength over the course of that time, which is to say one expects a certain kind of madcap adventure into blinding turns and near-freneticism when playing a Stinking Lizaveta, at least as part of the overall offering, but right up to their eighth album, Journey to the Underworld — their second for Translation Loss — they retain an evident glee in the experimental process.

That shows itself in the nine-song outing’s overarching progression as much as within individual tracks as it scorches through side A cuts like opener “Witches and Pigs” and the thrashy “Six Fangs” in order to begin to introduce more contemplative textures on “Blood, Milk and Honey” that will flesh out across the subsequent title-track, the spacious “Love Song for Jusu,” the acoustic-strummed “A Stranger’s Welcome” and the brief, classic prog outro “Allegro” on side B. Produced and mixed by Stephen Berrigan (Paul Webb co-produced) with a master by Bruce Leighton and suitably-odd cover art by David GunnJourney to the Underworld is the first Stinking Lizaveta album in five years since the Sanford Parker-produced 7th Direction arrived in 2012 (in Europe via Exile on Mainstream) following up 2009’s Sacrifice and Bliss (review here).

Accordingly, it’s little surprise the non-vocalized outfit seem to have so much to say within Journey to the Underworld‘s utterly-manageable 36-minute span. A principal element of their work has always been an utter refusal to take up the mantle of pretense to which their technical acumen entitles them. They could be real dicks about being so good, but they’re not. Instead, from “Witches and Pigs” onward into the guitar-led trad-metal-gone-noise of “Chorus and Shades” (think alternate-reality Slough Feg) and seeming to even out over the conversational course of “Sharp Stick in the Eye” — each measure seeming to argue with the one before it — Stinking Lizaveta keep their heads about them even as those of their listeners set to spinning. That aspect of their personality, a kind of sonic humility, has been consistent in their studio output over the years, and the clear-but-natural recording from Berrigan here presents it well, but that shouldn’t be taken to mean “Chorus of Shades” or “Sharp Stick in the Eye” — which thuds to a finish just in time to let Agusta‘s drums pick up with the start of “Six Fangs,” soon to depart into thrashier terrain — somehow lacks dynamic.

stinking lizaveta (photo by dante torrieri)

If anything, Journey to the Underworld becomes richer for the here-it-is-style presentation functioning as an implicit dare on the part of the challenging material itself rather than the band’s showiness, which again, they don’t have when they easily could. As the first half of the album transitions into the second, “Blood, Milk and Honey” follows “Six Fangs” as the centerpiece of the tracklisting and works in three stages. The first of them is a mid-paced chug, nodding, relatively straightforward. The second is a wistful acoustic-led turn that sets on a linear build eventually topped by a shredding solo and insistent chug, impeccably mixed. The third is a return to the opening progression following the righteous payoff to the prior build. All of this happens in under five minutes.

It is precisely this kind of efficient, unpostured feel that sets Stinking Lizaveta and the rest of the planet apart. Following “Blood, Milk and Honey” — which, indeed, seems to represent all three — Journey to the Underworld shifts into further sonic expansion as the 6:56 title-track cuts back on tempo in order to move more patiently through a course no less complex than anything that has preceded, trading between lurching rhythm and more atmospheric sprawl. The latter will also be a factor in “Love Song for Jusu,” which is shorter and, fitting its title, less grimly mooded on the whole, but still comes to a wash of noise in its midsection before a sweetness of guitar rounds out. Of particular note in terms of the recording is the tone of the acoustic guitar, or quiet electric, or whatever it is, that Yanni is using. Listening to “A Stranger’s Welcome,” one can hear the strings responding to his fingers, to the strike of his pick, and the song comes that much more to life for it.

As part of the closing duo with “Allegro” subsequent, Journey to the Underworld finds emotional resolution in “A Stranger’s Welcome” as well, and as they finish with a sudden crash and burst of noise, one can hear laughter coming through the room mics. This serves as an inherent reminder of the human core behind the voyage on which Stinking Lizaveta have embarked throughout, and if indeed it’s an Underworld to which they’re headed, it’s one that comforts rather than terrorizes — defying, as ever, the cliché in favor of more individualized expression. Their work has never been and probably never will be for everyone, but that doesn’t make it any less special, and as they end the longest drought between full-lengths of their career — Agusta was involved in a significant hit-and-run in 2012, it’s worth noting — they do so by only continuing to broaden their technical, emotional and aural reach. I almost never use the word “unique” to describe bands, but Stinking Lizaveta earn that and more on Journey to the Underworld, and remain an underrated treasure unto themselves.

Stinking Lizaveta on Thee Facebooks

Stinking Lizaveta website

Stinking Lizaveta on Bandcamp

Translation Loss Records website

Translation Loss Records webstore

Translation Loss Records on Thee Facebooks

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Green Meteor to Release Consumed by a Dying Sun on Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Golly. With all this talk about moon valkyries and two-wheeled space cowboys, you’d almost think Green Meteor were weedian as fuck. Oh wait, they are. The Philly outfit have been trying to find a label home able to compensate for the bizarro riffery of their debut album, Consumed by a Dying Sun, since they announced their Fall tour last October, and it seems Italian imprint Argonauta Records is the one bold enough to take on the task. No solid release date yet, but it’ll reportedly be sometime this year — the label has an increasingly full schedule emerging, and keeps adding bands to it — and that works for me. Wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Green Meteor hit the road again in 2017 as well, as their kind of volume and weird ritualizing is best enjoyed with friends.

Argonauta sent the following along the PR wire:

green meteor

GREEN METEOR sign to Argonauta Records

We’re excited to announce we inked a deal with Philadelphia sonic space warriors GREEN METEOR.

Green Meteor blends influences old and new into their heavy brand of space rock. Fuzz-saturated rhythms and cosmic soundscapes are charged with melodic vocals to create the perfect sonic accompaniment to their live visual experience.

On working with Argonauta: “When Gero, the high-command of Argonauta Record,s sent us a transmission about a rendezvous between Green Meteor and Argonauta Records in which we would create an international alliance with intent of reducing the cosmos to space haze via super-sonic assault, we were thrilled. Our vision and his aligned and thus the journey has begun! We are pleased to be a part of the roster and we are very confident that great things will come from this partnership.”

GREEN METEOR sound was formed in a space vacuum that managed to escape in 2015 and find its way to the stage 2016. The cosmic tribe was formed by Algar-a two wheeled space cowboy fueled by black hole bass fallout, 2T-a highly advanced killing machine turned drummer and space sound database, Amy-a moon Valkyrie mastered in the art of crushing sonic sound, and Leta-a shamanic space cheetah. Together they complete the space ritual known as Green Meteor.

New album to be released during 2017, a must-have for fans of of Kyuss, Acid King, Bongzilla and Hawkwind.

Picture by Sam Pinola.

Green Meteor:
Leta: Celestial Summonings & 6th Level Sonic Complexities
Amy: Explorations of the 6 Degrees of Freedom
Tony: Anti-Gravitational Percussive Reverberations Through Time Space Continuum
Algar: Anti-Cosmic Astral Verses & Journeys into the 4th Dimension

https://www.facebook.com/Green-Meteor-183210485410192/
https://greenmeteor.bandcamp.com/releases
www.argonautarecords.com
facebook.com/argonautarecords

Green Meteor, “Acute Emerald Elevation”

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

Posted in Features on December 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 20 debut albums of 2016

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 2016 to that, please do.

Of all the lists I do to wrap up or start any given year, this is the hardest. As someone obviously more concerned with first impressions than I am and thus probably better-dressed once said, you only get one chance at them. For bands, that can be a vicious bite in the ass on multiple levels.

To wit, you put out a great debut, fine, but there’s a whole segment of your listeners who’re bound to think you’ll never live up to it again. You put out a meh debut, you sell yourself short. Or maybe your debut is awesome but doesn’t really represent where you want to be as a band, so it’s a really good first impression, but a mistaken one. There are so many things that can go wrong or go right with any LP, but with debuts, the stakes are that much higher because it’s the only time you’ll get the chance to engage your audience for the first time. That matters.

And when it comes to putting together a list of the best debuts of the year, how does one begin to judge? True, some of these acts have done EPs and singles and splits and things like that before, and that’s at least something to go on, but can one really be expected to measure an act’s potential based on a single collection of songs? Is that fair to anyone involved? Or on the other side, is it even possible to take a debut entirely on its own merits, without any consideration for where it might lead the band in question going forward? I know that’s not something I’ve ever been able to do, certainly. Or particularly interested in doing. I like context.

Still, one presses on. I guess the point is that, like picking any kind of prospects, some will pan out and some won’t. I’ve done this for enough years now that I’ve seen groups flame or fade out while others have risen to new heights with each subsequent release. It’s always a mix. But at the same time, it’s important to step back and say that, as of today, this is where it’s at.

And so it is:

KING BUFFALO ORION

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2016

1. King Buffalo, Orion
2. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree
3. Heavy Temple, Chassit
4. Holy Grove, Holy Grove
5. Worshipper, Shadow Hymns
6. Vokonis, Olde One Ascending
7. Wretch, Wretch
8. Year of the Cobra, In the Shadows Below
9. BigPig, Grande Puerco
10. Fuzz Evil, Fuzz Evil
11. Bright Curse, Before the Shore
12. Conclave, Sins of the Elders
13. Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore
14. High Fighter, Scars and Crosses
15. Spirit Adrift, Chained to Oblivion
16. Bellringer, Jettison
17. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Is Satan Real?
18. Merchant, Suzerain
19. Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae
20. King Dead, Woe and Judgment

Honorable Mention

There are many. First, the self-titled from Pooty Owldom, which had so much weirdo charm it made my head want to explode. And Iron Man frontman Dee Calhoun‘s acoustic solo record was technically a debut. And Atala‘s record. And Horehound. And Mother Mooch. And Domkraft. And Spaceslug. And Graves at Sea? Shit. More than a decade after their demo, they finally put out a debut album. And Second Grave‘s full-length would turn out to be their swansong, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the thing. There were a lot of records to consider in putting this list together. As always, it could’ve been a much longer list.

For example, here are 20 more: Swan Valley Heights, Arctic, Blues Funeral, Teacher, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Nonsun, Duel, Banquet, Floodlore, Mindkult‘s EP, Mountain Dust, Red LamaRed Wizard, Limestone Whale, Dunbarrow, Comacozer, Sinister Haze, Pants Exploder, Akasava, Katla and No Man’s Valley. That’s not even the end of it. I could go on.

Notes

It was a fight to the finish. There’s always one, and as late as yesterday I could be found kicking back and forth between King Buffalo and Elephant Tree in the top spot. What was it that finally put King Buffalo‘s Orion over Elephant Tree‘s self-titled? I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow and the answer might be completely different.

They had a lot in common. Not necessarily in terms of style — King Buffalo basked in spacious Americana-infused heavy psych jams while Elephant Tree proffered more earthbound riffing and melodies — but each executed memorable songs across its span in a way that would be unfair to ask of a debut. The potential for what both bands can turn into down the line played a part in the picks, but something else they share between them is that the quality of the work they’re doing now warrants the top spots. Orion and Elephant Tree were great albums, not just great first albums.

From there, we see a wide swath of next-generation encouragement for the future of heavy rock, whether it’s coming from Sweden’s Vokonis or Philadelphia’s Heavy Temple, or London’s Bright Curse, or Los Angeles duo BigPig. The latter act’s punkish fuzz definitely benefited from guitarist/vocalist Dino von Lalli‘s experience playing in Fatso Jetson, but one hopes that as the years go on his own multifaceted songwriting style will continue to grow as well.

A few offerings weren’t necessarily unexpected but still lived up to the anticipation. High Fighter‘s EP prefaced their aggro sludgecore well. Ditto that for the grueling death-sludge of Massachusetts natives Conclave. The aforementioned Bright Curse, Merchant, Fuzz Evil, Atala, Bellringer, Holy Grove, Wretch and Worshipper all had offerings of one sort or another prior to their full-length debuts — in the case of Bellringer, it was just a series of videos, while Wretch had the entire The Gates of Slumber catalog to fall back on — but each of those albums offered surprises nonetheless.

It would’ve been hard not to be taken by the songwriting on display from the likes of Holy Grove, Year of the Cobra, Pale Grey Lore and Beastmaker, who between them covered a pretty broad variety of atmosphere but found ways to deliver high-quality crafted material in that. Those albums were a pleasure to hear. Put Boston’s Worshipper in that category as well, though they were just as much a standout from the pack in terms of their performance as what they were performing. Speaking of performance, the lush melodies from Church of the Cosmic Skull and classic progressive flourish were enough to make me a believer. Simply gorgeous. And one-man outfit Spirit Adrift shined, if in that matte-black doom kind of way, on an encouraging collection of modern melancholic heavy that seemed to hint at sprawl to come.

As we get down to the bottom of the list we find Pennsylvania ambient heavy post-rockers King Dead. Their Woe and Judgment was released digitally last year (2015) but the LP came out earlier this year, so I wasn’t quite sure where to place them ultimately. I know they got some mention on the 2015 lists somewhere, but while they’re an act who’ve flown under a lot of people’s radar as yet, I have good feelings about how they might continue to dig into their sound and the balance of bleakness and psychedelic color they bring to their material. They’re slated for a follow-up in 2017, so this won’t be the last list on which they appear in the next few weeks.

Like I said at the outset, putting out a debut album is a special moment for any band. Not everyone gets to that point and not everyone gets beyond it, so while a list like this is inherently bound to have some element of speculation, it’s still a worthy endeavor to celebrate the accomplishments of those who hit that crucial moment in their creative development. Hopefully these acts continue to grow, flourish, and build on what they’ve thus far been able to realize sonically. That’s the ideal.

And before I go, once again, let me reinforce the notion that I recognize this is just a fraction of the whole. I’d like it to be the start of a conversation. If there was a debut album that kicked your ass this year and you don’t see it here, please drop a note in the comments below. I’m sure I’ll be adding more honorable mentions and whatnot over the next couple days, so if you see glaring omissions, let’s have ’em.

Thanks for reading.

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Ruby the Hatchet Finish Third Album; Touring Now with Earthless

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 2nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

I don’t mind telling you I’m looking forward to this one. My reasoning is two-fold: First, Ruby the Hatchet‘s 2015 sophomore album, Valley of the Snake (review here) — also their label debut on Tee Pee Records — was a gem. Memorable songwriting, crisp performances, a get-in-get-out sense of craft that still had room for atmosphere and setting a mood. Would be silly to not anticipate the follow-up. Second, though, is that in seeing Ruby the Hatchet this past summer at the first night of the Maryland Doom Fest (review here), every bit of their set showed them as not only realizing the level of accomplishment they’ve hit as a band, but being ready also to take another step forward. This impending third record, presumably, would be that step.

Spring 2017? Sign me up.

Ruby the Hatchet are on tour with Earthless starting tonight in Chicago. Dates and more info follow off the PR wire:

ruby-the-hatchet-photo-by-troy-memis

RUBY THE HATCHET Completes Work on New Album

Philadelphia Heavy Psych Outfit Conjures Spellbinding Space Rock on Long-awaited Third LP

Philly heavy psych quintet RUBY THE HATCHET has completed work on its highly anticipated new album. The bewitching rock troop featuring vocalist Jillian Taylor, guitarist Johnny Scarps, bassist Lake Muir, drummer Owen Stewart and organist Sean Hur, recorded the album in an 1800’s era estate deep in the Pennsylvania woods with engineers Joe Boldizar (Retro City Studios) and Zach Goldstein (Kawari Sound). The as-yet-untitled album is slated for a spring 2017 release via Tee Pee Records. The upcoming full-length follows the band’s celebrated sophomore LP, Valley of the Snake.

“Setting up shop and recording ourselves in an 1800’s era estate has been a pleasure and a labor,” comments Taylor. “We built the studio in house from the ground up – mostly Sean (organ), with help from our friends at Kawari Sound and Retro City Studios. From homemade preamps to third floor room mics hidden in echo chambers, the tones on this album are truly vintage. Putting ourselves into seclusion provided a process that influenced the album’s sound, allowing us to create our own pocket of deep space rock inside of a time warp where everything else stopped – politics, personal shit, the day-to-day worries that tarnish the soul…all gone. This album is like nothing we have ever made before.”

More details on RUBY THE HATCHET’s upcoming album will be released soon. The band will launch a U.S. tour alongside labelmates Earthless on December 2 in Chicago, IL. Fans can expect to hear a taste of the band’s new material on the two week trek, which runs through December 17 in Detroit, MI. The tour wraps up two years of heavy touring by the band in support of Valley Of The Snake, which saw RUBY THE HATCHET hit the road with Black Mountain, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and The Sword.

RUBY THE HATCHET tour dates:
* All shows with EARTHLESS
December 2 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
December 3 St Louis, MO The Firebird
December 4 Norman, OK OPOLIS
December 6 Dallas, TX Club Dada
December 7 Austin, TX Barracuda
December 8 Houston, TX Rudyard’s Pub
December 9 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
December 10 Atlanta, GA The EARL
December 11 Raleigh, NC Barcade
December 12 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
December 13 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
December 14 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus
December 15 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe
December 16 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
December 17 Detroit, MI El Club

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Ruby the Hatchet, Valley of the Snake (2015)

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