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

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

quarterly-review-spring-2019

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

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

Quarterly Review #21-30:

11PARANOIAS, Asterismal

11paranoias asterismal

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

11PARANOIAS on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Rise Robot Rise

Robot Lords of Tokyo Rise Robot Rise

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

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo at CDBaby

 

The Riven, The Riven

The Riven The Riven

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

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, Higher Reeper

high reeper higher reeper

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

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brujas del Sol, II

brujas del sol ii

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

Brujas del Sol on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Dead Witches, The Final Exorcism

dead witches the final exorcism

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

Dead Witches on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Automaton, TALOS

automaton talos

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

Automaton website

Sound Effect Records website

 

Llord, Cumbria

llord cumbria

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

Llord on Bandcamp

Féretro Records on Bandcamp

 

Sweet Jonny, Sweet Jonny

sweet jonny sweet jonny

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

Sweet Jonny on Thee Facebooks

Sweet Jonny website

 

Warp, Warp

warp warp

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

Warp on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records webstore

 

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

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

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

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

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

From the PR wire:

queen elephantine gorgon art preview

QUEEN ELEPHANTINE ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Queen Elephantine, “Mars” teaser from Gorgon

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Thunderbird Divine: Magnasonic Vinyl Preorder Available

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

Thunderbird Divine (Photo by Dante Torrieri)

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

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

Info for the vinyl comes from the PR wire:

Thunderbird Divine Magnasonic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic (2019)

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Heavy Temple Announce Lineup Split

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

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

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

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

Announcement follows:

heavy temple square

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heavy Temple, Chassit (2017)

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High Reeper to Tour Europe in April-May; Higher Reeper Available to Preorder

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

high reeper (Photo Drew Wiedemann)

Last year, Philadelphia heavy rockers High Reeper went to Europe and toured in Spring around a swing through Desertfest Berlin. It seems only fair that in 2019 they’d go back for another month and hit up CANDLEMASS REVIEW London as well. Heavy Psych Sounds is taking preorders as of now for their new album, Higher Reeper, and will have it out on March 22 — they’ll be at Maximum Fest in Italy that night — and in addition to Desertfest, they’re also set to play Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark on May 11. With a heaping portion of shows in Germany and Italy, it should be a killer tour all the way around, and as High Reeper are quickly making themselves veterans of the European circuit, no doubt they’ll find welcome on this return trip. They’ve got a poster and everything.

The PR wire brought that and the accompanying dates:

high reeper tour poster

*** HIGH REEPER – EUROPEAN TOUR 2019 ***

We are very happy to announce that our beloved HIGH REEPER are gonna smash Europe next Spring.
DON’T MISS THEM !!!

HIGH REEPER will present their upcoming album HIGHER REEEPER that will be released on March 22nd via Heavy Psych Sounds Records.

Formed in 2016, High Reeper is made up of Zach Thomas, Justin Di Pinto, Andrew Price, Pat Daly and Shane Trimble. Originally started as just 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/DE 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, HighReeper’s first offering is driven by pounding rhythms, thick guitars and soaring, screeching vocals.

For their second record, the addition of Di Pinto on drums helped focus their sound in an even more powerful direction. The result is a new record with riffs that are even heavier than before that explore new directions, including the ballad “Apocalypse Hymn”. After a successful 2018 European tour that included Desertfest Berlin, High Reeper Will once again tour Europe in 2019 visiting ten countries as well as an appearance at Desertfest London.

‘Higher Reeper’ preorder: https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/high-reeper-higher-reeper-presale

HIGH REEPER EUROPEAN TOUR 2019
18.04.2019 IT Pescara-Scumm
19.04.2019 IT Cecina-Spazio Live Ritmi
20.04.2019 IT Parma-Splinter
21.04.2019 IT Verona
22.04.2019 IT Zerobranco-Maximum Fest
23.04.2019 IT Torino-Blah Blah
24.04.2019 FR Chambery-Brin Du Zinc
25.04.2019 CH Martigny-Sunset Bar
26.04.2019 CH Oberentfelden-Borom Pom Pom
27.04.2019 DE Kempten-13th Floor Kulturetage
28.04.2019 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
29.04.2019 IT Trieste
30.04.2019 AT Bludenz-Villa K
01.05.2019 DE Augsburg-City Club
02.05.2019 DE Tubingen-Goldene Zeiten
03.05.2019 DE Mannheim-7er
04.05.2019 BE Liege-La Zone
05.05.2019 UK London-Desert Fest
07.05.2019 DE Frankfurt-DKK
08.05.2019 DE Oldenburg-Mts Records
09.05.2019 DK Copenhagen-Lygtens Kro
10.05.2019 SW Malmoe-Plan B
11.05.2019 DK Esbjerg-Esbjerg Fuzzfest
12.05.2019 DE Berlin-Toast Hawaii
13.05.2019 DE Leipzig-Black Label
14.05.2019 DE Erfurt tba
15.05.2019 DE Dresda-Chemo
16.05.2019 AT Wien-Kramladen
17.05.2019 AT Innsbruck-PMK
18.05.2019 CH Altdorf-Vogelslang

HIGH REEPER are:
Zach Tomas – Vocals
Shane Trimble – Bass
Pat Dealy – Guitars
Andrew Price – Guitars
Justin Di Pinto – Drums

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

High Reeper, “Eternal Leviathan”

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Heavy Temple Announce Tour Dates & Beer Collaboration

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

heavy temple

So I was like, “Hey Heavy Temple, you’re awesome, how about a recording update on that new album you announced a while back?” and Heavy Temple was pretty much like “Buzz off, weirdo. It’ll be done when it’s done.” Then they punched me — all three of them, in a kind coordinated yet not rehearsed-seeming motion — in the belly and I fell over and they laughed and went about their business making beer collaborations with Oliver Brewing Company, touring to SXSW where they’ll play with Conan and a bunch of others, and indeed getting ready to burn all in their path with the aforementioned long-player, whenever it might show up. It’s all detailed in my forthcoming 35,000-word tell-all, That Time I Got Bullied by Heavy Temple. It’ll be published through Knopf this Spring.

Actually, in my experience, the members of Heavy Temple are all very nice. There was no bullying involved, just me being a dork and being like, “Hey, it’s been 15 minutes, is your album done yet?” and High Priestess Nighthawk being like, “Hold your horses, nerd boy.” Fair enough.

It’s cool they’re playing the Decibel Metal and Beer Fest in Philly, and it’s cool they’re doing Grim Reefer in Baltimore, but it’s easy to imagine them really making an impression as well at SXSW and that’s only going to help them in the longer run. You can see the art for their American Red Ale below — it’s called “In the Court of the Bastard King” — and mark your calendar appropriately for the tour dates.

Have at it:

Austin, we’re coming for you! Playing with some old friends and in some new places this time. See ya soon!

We’re excited to be playing Day 2 of the Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest!! In addition, Oliver Brewing Company will be making a special Heavy Temple beer for all of yous.

Final artwork for our beer collabo with Oliver Brewing Company !! “In The Court of the Bastard King” is appropriately an American red ale that ties in nicely with “Chassit” and it’s inspiration, “The Dark Tower”. Art by David Weston Gregory and appearing at the Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest.

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

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

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

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

Heavy Temple, Chassit (2017)

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Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic: Proof of Qualification

Posted in Reviews on January 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Thunderbird Divine Magnasonic

Anything goes so long as it grooves. Such would seem to be the prevailing ethos on Thunderbird Divine‘s debut album, Magnasonic. The four-song/30-minute full-length arrives via Salt of the Earth Records only about a year and a half after the band’s formation, which speaks to both the experience of the players involved and the urgency of their creation. A four-piece culled from members of Philly stalwarts-until-they-weren’t Wizard Eye, who made a strong self-titled debut (review here) in 2015 before calling it quits, and Skeleton Hands, whose debut, Deadlines was issued in 2014. The story goes that Skeleton Hands bassist Adam Scott, guitarist Flynn Lawrence and drummer Mike Stuart lost their frontman, just as Wizard Eye‘s guitarist/vocalist Erik Caplan suddenly had a bunch of free time on his hands with that band’s dissolution, and the new group was formed, named for a track on Wizard Eye‘s record.

Given that, one might therefore expect some measure of continuity between the outfits — and there is, if you strain hard enough to hear it — but Thunderbird Divine surpasses both of its progenitor acts in scope and execution alike. Magnasonic‘s tracks are treated to a depth of arrangement and a fluidity of rhythm that are entirely their own, and while there’s some root in the sludge that infused the sound of both Wizard Eye and Skeleton Hands, the prevailing vibe is more rock-based, languid and cosmic, drawing a line in “Qualified” (premiered here), “‘Til Shiloh,” “Bummer Bridge” and “The Devil’s Hatband” to the ’90s era of post-grunge stoner-psych, as bands like Monster Magnet came into their own on the East Coast while Nebula smoked acid fire way out West. Thunderbird Divine have plenty of crunch to go with their roll, but an instinct toward adventurous arrangements of keys, theremin, vocals and who-the-hell-knows-what-else serves them well throughout and adds a level of unpredictability to their sound that fits remarkably well alongside their more straightforward aspects, and with a loose swing in Stuart‘s drums as the foundation, Magnasonic builds itself outward as a showcase not only of how far Thunderbird Divine have come in such a short time, but how much potential there is for them to continue to move forward.

It is no simple feat to blend the familiar with material so decidedly given to reach, but Thunderbird Divine find a niche for themselves and make their sound as organic as it is spacious. Whether it’s the drop to open weirdness in “Qualified,” or the move from the hard-hitting start of “‘Til Shiloh,” with its dual vocals both working in shouts, to a tripped-out build and scorching solo and weirdo echoes and more fist-raising cosmic triumph at the finish, or the ultra-swing of “Bummer Bridge” as the shortest cut at just over five minutes before “The Devil’s Hatband” nearly goes to 11 (minutes) in its linear stretch and massive finish, Magnasonic finds itself in these pockets of a universe of its own making, and though a human presence is maintained in straightforward songwriting elements — hooks, verses, those leads — the band slips with ease into otherworldly sounds that one imagines will only becomes more prevalent as they move forward. Or maybe one hopes that, at least, while listening to the drift at the outset of “The Devil’s Hatband” that leads to the woozy key-topped blues en route to a hypnotic roll that’s so smoothly done as to be emblematic of the hey-everybody-we’re-all-gonna-get-laid-back spirit throughout.

Thunderbird Divine (Photo by Dante Torrieri)

Even in that last burst, though, there are elements grounding Magnasonic, and that’s not to say the band are boring or overly straightforward — because they’re neither — just that they’re clearheaded about where they want their experimentation to take them. The course is set early in “Qualified” for far-funked-out and they go willingly toward that heavy spatial anomaly with gang vocals in tow, floating like a ribbon of star-stuff undulating through dimensions like, “hey, no big deal y’all.” And groove. It’s the kind of cool that always seemed so untouchable, out there of a level of its own, some secret happening in some secret place, except this time everyone’s invited and if you bring a figurative or literal kitchen sink along to bang on, they’ll probably let you jam. The start-stop organ on “Bummer Bridge,” giving it a Southern rock feel if we’re talking the southern end of the galaxy, helps capture that welcoming vibe, and then things take off with the theremin spitting freaky poison, and yeah, it’s a party. Quit your job and make it happen. Paint places you’ve never heard of. Invent shit. Transcend physical reality and become waves of distortion. Whatever you want to do, it’s all there.

Debut album? Hell’s bells. Yeah, it is. And a short one at that, though I wouldn’t ask more of Magnasonic than it gives. It should be of particular note out there among all that ether just how much it’s evident Thunderbird Divine are pushing themselves toward these broad ends. Caplan‘s vocals are cleaner and more soulful than they’ve ever been, and he, and ScottLawrence and Stuart step into these songs with an immediate command of their direction and intent that speaks to their prior experience and works somewhat in contrast to Thunderbird Divine as a “new” band, even if it is a new collaboration between the trio and Caplan. But thinking of it as their debut, yes, there is more to do. More to explore. More reaches to discover, more groove, more hooks, more shred, more nuance to be had, and the fine-edged sonic details of Magnasonic seem as much a herald of future manifestations of the let’s-try-this impulse as they are righteous in the now. One listens to Magnasonic and looks forward to what Thunderbird Divine might become even as they establish themselves in a present moment.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the off-album tracks. To introduce Magnasonic and the band as a whole, three pieces — “Quaalude Thunder” (posted here), “Madras Blue” (posted here) and “Djinn au Jus” (posted here) — were issued in videos as a precursor to the album, to introduce its general mood and vibe. There’s a fair amount of sonic variety between them, and between them and Magnasonic itself, which is more cohesive, but one has to wonder if Thunderbird Divine will work to bring those different sides together over time, and if their next outing might have more of those one-off experiments included on it, maybe as interludes between the tracks, or pieces of more structured songs themselves. Maybe Thunderbird Divine will go that way and maybe they won’t, but what’s important is that their work on Magnasonic sets them up to become essentially anything they want to be. If they want to solidify around more of a heavy rock mindset, those roots are here, and if they want to float off into lysergic oblivion, that’s here too. What one hopes though is that they commit to neither end of their spectrum and continue to grow on all fronts while maintaining the strengths of craft they demonstrate in these songs. Because those are significant and not to be ignored.

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Thunderbird Divine Premiere “Qualified”; Magnasonic Preorders Available

Posted in audiObelisk on December 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Thunderbird Divine (Photo by Dante Torrieri)

Philadelphia’s Thunderbird Divine make a much-anticipated debut on Jan. 11 with Magnasonic through Salt of the Earth Records. All along the way since the band came into being in 2017, they’ve released material in drips and drabs, a rehearsal clip here, a video there. Songs like “Quaalude Thunder” (posted here), “Madras Blue” (posted here) and “Djinn au Jus” (posted here) have made their way to public ears and eyes, but every cut that’s come out so far has one thing in common: it’s not on the record. Less than a month to go before the release date and Thunderbird Divine haven’t put so much as a riff out there for mass consumption that features on Magnasonic.

You know where this is going.

Enter “Qualified.” The seven-point-five-minute opener of Magnasonic in all its funk-riffed, swaggering, oh-wait-did-we-just-get-to-outer-space-and-was-that-Thunderbird Divine Magnasonica-piano-oh-okay-I-guess-the-riff-is-back-wow-that-was-awesome glory. A song that sets its rhythm early and holds its welcome late, “Qualified” boasts a hook begging for a barroom singalong as guitarist/vocalist/etc.-ist Erik Caplan (ex-Wizard Eye) leads the nod with Skeleton Hands veterans Adam Scott (bass), Flynn Lawrence (guitar, more etc.) and Mike Stuart (drums) further the take-your-favorite-muscle-car-and-stick-it-in-orbit vibe. Think new-classic stoner riffage — Monster Magnet shortly before the commercial boom — and you might have the right timeframe, but Thunderbird Divine are for sure telling the squares to get their hats regardless of the decade to which you want to draw parallels. And “Qualified” is one of four slabs on the half-hour stack, so, you know, more to come, chief.

I’ll get a proper, way-too-wordy-but-probably-less-hyphenated review up sometime after the New Year, but I’m honor’d to host the first Thunderbird Divine track to actually come from Magnasonic, which you’ll find on the player below, followed by a few words from Caplan and the preorder link to get your copy of the album.

Please enjoy:

Thunderbird Divine, “Qualified” official premiere

Erik Caplan on “Qualified”:

“Qualified” is the first song we wrote together. The repeated riff in the beginning and at the chorus is based on something I found compelling during my home practice sessions before I joined the band. When I showed it to the other guys, we agreed it could be the basis of something cool. That riff set the stage for the rest of the song.

As an early collaboration, we were still feeling each other out as a band during the writing process, and, in particular, it was the first opportunity for Flynn (Lawrence, guitar) and I to figure out how our guitar sounds would mesh. Since neither of us had worked with another guitarist in a long time, it fortuitously happened that our styles were complementary. Flynn is an extremely accurate, concise player with a passion for riffs and a somewhat metallic tone, whereas I’m basically a fuzzy, guitar-soloing mess, so we don’t step on each other’s toes. You can hear him nailing down some massive chord sounds while I play a wonky fuzz melody in various parts of the song. Mike (Stuart, drums) and Adam (Scott, bass) have a very natural interplay after having played together for several years.

The basic structure came together fairly quickly, but, as with most collaborations, the devil was in the details, especially when it came to recording. We were ambitious. For example, the psychedelic section in the middle is usually a theremin and bass-feedback freakout in the live arena, but we wanted to do something with more class and refinement on the studio recording. We layered electric sitar, piano, theremin, water drum and other oddities on top of the usual band arrangement. We wanted it loose and trippy, but not random and sloppy, with interesting layers of sound to bear repeated plays and reveal more of itself to the listener each time.

The entire song was given that level of attention, with synth drones and percussion throughout. It’s truly a testament to the skills of Ted (Richardson, engineer, TedAudio) and Charles (Newman, mixing engineer, Cottage Sounds Unlimited) for cleanly tracking and mixing so many layers of sound together in such a cohesive way.

Vocally, this is a departure from my past efforts in that I used a clearer sound with less grime. It was different and a little daunting, but I was ready to try something new, so I just went for it. It’s a pretty clean take – the main vocal is single-tracked to keep it sounding natural. You’ll hear some lovely backing vocals from Brittany Marie (Mike’s partner) and Avy (my ex-wife) in the pre-chorus, with equally lovely gang vocals from our Mike, Andy Martin (Clamfight) and Kermit Lyman III (Sheena and Thee Nosebleeds) on the choruses.

The lyrical concept comes from Jamaican street slang. This kind of slang is ever-changing, and there was a recent time where folks referred to anything bad-ass or really excellent as “qualified.” It could apply to anything from mangoes to movies to beautiful women, and I thought it was an evocative way to write our own version of something like ZZ Top’s “Nationwide.” I would never claim to be as cool as the little band from Texas, but we did our thing with it. I’m proud of the result.

Philly’s psychedelic space hippy enclave, Thunderbird Divine, has set an official domestic release date of January 11, 2019 for its debut album, Magnasonic, with Salt of the Earth Records (https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/). The offering, a 30-plus-minute exploration of riffs and psychedelia, features custom art design by the band’s bassist, Adam Scott.

Produced by the band and recorded at both Ted Richardson at TedAudio in Philadelphia (www.facebook.com/TedAudio) and Charles Newman (who also mixed the album) at Cottage Sounds Unlimited in Brooklyn (https://www.facebook.com/cottagesounds/), Magnasonic shows the quartet, which coalesced in March of 2017, is not willing to be pigeonholed as a strictly stoner/doom rock band. Featuring Scott on bass and guitars, Flynn Lawrence on guitars and additional instrumentation, Mike Stuart on drums and percussion and Erik Caplan on guitars and various instruments,Thunderbird Divine went for an unexpectedly broad tonal variety with Magnasonic.

Preorder at: https://saltoftheearthrecords.com/product/295609

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