Horehound Reissue Self-Titled Debut on Hellmistress Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

horehound

Pittsburgh doom rockers Horehound took part this past weekend in the inaugural New England Stoner and Doom Fest in Connecticut, playing alongside Gozu, Wasted Theory and a vast host of others at a show I was both proud to be involved in presenting and sorry to have missed on account of timing. The appearance there is just the latest in the momentum-building that’s been going on for Horehound more or less since their self-titled debut (review here) was released in 2016.

The date of that release? April 20. The release date of the brand new Hellmistress Records CD and vinyl edition of the album? April 20, AKA last Friday. You have to appreciate a bit of symmetry. The band said last fall when they signed to Hellmistress that they had new material in the works. I haven’t seen an update on that, but maybe by the time they get to Descendants of Crom 2018 this September we’ll have word one way or another. Or maybe they’ll just wait for April 2019. Ha.

Here’s the latest on the reissue and the whatnots:

horehound self-titled

HOREHOUND to Re-Issue Self-Titled Debut on CD and Vinyl on April 20th via Hellmistress Records; Current Live Dates & Fest Appearances.

Pittsburgh, PA’s HOREHOUND announce their teaming up with Hellmistress Records to re-issue the Horehound Self-titled 2016 debut for both CD and first-time colored vinyl variants. The seven original tracks have been re-mixed, re-mastered, and now include a bonus song of Portishead’s, ‘Mysterons’, covered a la doom!
Digital Streaming on Bandcamp and other outlets, as well as the new CD will be available 4/20/2018, which is the second anniversary of the original release date.

Vinyl press is expected to be available on June 1st.

Artist Name: Horehound
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Genres/Styles: Doom Metal, Heavy Metal, Sludge
Label Name:
Blackseed Records (First Press, April 20, 2016)
Hellmistress Records (Re-Issue, April 20, 2018)

Horehound – Track List:

1. World to Come
2. Sangreal
3. Crowns and Thrones
4. The Dead Don’t Lie
5. Waters of Lethe
6. Myope
7. Waking Time
8. Mysterons (bonus track on re-issue only)

Recorded by Matt Schor at War Room.
Mastering by James Plotkin at Plotkinworks.
All music written and performed by Horehound, with the exception of “Mysterons”, originally written and performed by Portishead.
Cover Art by Sasaya Orenda Hamer-Pennisi

HOREHOUND is:
JD Dauer – drums
Brendan Parrish – guitar
Shy Kennedy – vocals
Nick Kopco – bass

HOREHOUND – Upcoming Live Events:
05I10I18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Brillobox (w/Mos Generator, Limousine Beach)
05I26I18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo (w/Ufomammut, White Hills)
06I16I18 – Aliquippa, PA @ Fallout Shelter (w/Rule Of Two, Everyone Hates Everything)
09I28I18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ DESCENDANTS OF CROM

Blackseed Records Presents:

DESCENDANTS OF CROM 2018

September 28th – 29th @ Cattivo
Day One: Lo-Pan + Come To Grief + Telekinetic Yeti + Devil To Pay + Disenchanter + Sierra + Heavy Temple + Demon Eye + Horehound + Doomstress + Doctor Smoke + Curse The Son + Eternal Black + Cloud + Solarburn + The Long Hunt
Day Two: Mos Generator + Duel + Kind + Freedom Hawk + Geezer + Forming The Void + Serpents Of Secrecy + Wolftooth + Ironflame + River Cult + Cavern + Thunderbird Divine + Molasses Barge + OutsideInside + Jakethehawk

RSVP – https://www.facebook.com/events/177536592803763/
TICKETS: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3186333

Pre-Gala: September 27th @ Howlers
Destroyer Of Light + Rebreather + Fist Fight In The Parking Lot + Gran Gila + Mires
RSVP – https://www.facebook.com/events/2074052449275860/

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

Horehound, Horehound (2016)

Tags: , , , , ,

Argus Post Video for “Devils of Your Time”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

argus

Okay, so I guess technically this is the first Argus video, though they very definitely had a lyric clip posted for “You are the Curse”, so it’s the first video with the band rocking out and all that, and the second video made to promote the band’s latest triumph of traditional heavy metal and doom, From Fields of Fire (review here), their fourth album and third for Cruz del Sur, which was released last year. The new video is for “Devils of Your Time,” which is the post-intro leadoff to Argus‘ most charged and furious work to-date.

If you heard the album, you know that’s not hyperbole. The Pittsburgh-based five-piece have put out work of increasing metallurgy and quality throughout their 13-year tenure, beginning with their self-titled debut (review here) in 2009 and running through 2011’s Boldly Stride the Doomed (discussed here) and 2013’s Beyond the Martyrs (review here), and with From Fields of Fire, they take yet another forward step in their approach, finding a niche between doom and classic metal and treading that ground in a way not only irony-free, but utterly flexible to bend at the will of their songwriting to one side or the other. It’s a special record. An undertaking at 55 minutes, but poised and righteous and a gift to the sphere of American metal.

The video for “Devils of Your Time” is also pretty classic and straightforward in its approach. Directed by Nick Prezioso, it’s got the band rocking out in Headbanger’s Ball-worthy fashion, and if you’re sensitive to flashing lights, you might want to look out because there are a decent portion of them featured here, but beyond that, there’s no reason not to dig into what I think it’s fair to call one of the best kept secrets in US heavy metal and heavy metal in general. Dudes should be on magazine covers and whatnot.

PR wire info follows the video below. Please enjoy:

Argus, “Devils of Your Time” official video

Pittsburgh, PA traditional metal force ARGUS have released the official video for “Devils of your Time,” a track from 2017 Cruz Del Sur Music album From Fields of Fire. The video (the band’s first ever) was conceptualized and created by Nick Prezioso.

From Fields Of Fire was released September 8, 2017 on Cruz Del Sur Music. Order the CD at this location. The Vinyl LP version is available here.

Stream From Fields of Fire at argusmetal.bandcamp.com/album/from-fields-of-fire

Four years after the release of Beyond the Martyrs, the mighty U.S. Heavy Metal torchbearers ARGUS have returned with From Fields of Fire on Italy’s Cruz Del Sur Music! From Fields of Fire is the defining moment from a band that has delivered the goods album after album. It is the highlight of their career to date and one that will be seen as a highlight in heavy metal circles, not just this year, but for years to come.

Argus on Thee Facebooks

Argus on Bandcamp

Cruz del Sur Music website

Cruz del Sur Music on Bandcamp

Cruz del Sur Music on Thee Facebooks

Cruz del Sur Music on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

Review & Full Album Premiere: Deathwhite, For a Black Tomorrow

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deathwhite for a black tomorrow

[Click pay above to stream Deathwhite’s For a Black Tomorrow in its entirety. Album is out Feb. 23 via Season of Mist with preorders available here.]

Going by what your ears tell you, you’d have to be forgiven for guessing wrong at mood-metal three-piece Deathwhite‘s base of operations. Sweden? Nope. The UK? Nope. Poland? Nope. Romania? Nope. Some frigid former Soviet Bloc nation with little scene to speak of but plenty of passion and sadness to spare? Wrong-o, chief. The correct answer is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Steel City. The trio choose to remain anonymous under their hooded robes — I’ve seen AM and LM listed as a partial lineup, so maybe there’s a pair of brothers in there, but maybe not — but when it comes to their debut album for Season of Mist, the nine-song/43-minute For a Black Tomorrow, their intention couldn’t be clearer. The mission of the album, front to back, is to pay homage to the greats of melancholic metal. Perhaps Katatonia, and in particular the Last Fair Deal Gone Down era of that Swedish outfit’s work, most of all, but definitely the oeuvre of the so-called ‘Peaceville Three’ — My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema — as well.

Saying that might lead one to believe there are death-doom elements at play throughout For a Black Tomorrow, or that the band engages a rawness of production à la those groups’ transformative works in the early ’90s — a specific aspect I’d argue just about no one has been able to accurately recreate — but no. Deathwhite take on the atmospheric, emotional, and melodcally ranging side of these bands’works, and while tracks like the later “Death and the Master” offer some shouts and heavier thrust, and amid one of the album’s strongest hooks, the earlier “just Remember” proffers a riff with a sharper bite than that of, say, opener “The Grace of the Dark,” which unfolds at the beginning of Deathwhite‘s first album with a patience that immediately puts the band in command of both the aesthetic and the outward-moving progression of the LP itself. In other words, there’s an awful lot about what they want to do that Deathwhite have already figured out.

The band has two prior EPs in 2014’s Ethereal and 2015’s Solitary Martyr, but while I obviously have no confirmation to back me up, I’d more likely credit their cohesiveness as regards overall mission to members’ prior experience in other outfits. Do I know that? Nope. But though Deathwhite have been together for upwards of six years, there are still parts of For a Black Tomorrow that speak to pedigree beyond this band itself. The fluidity with which “The Grace of the Dark” unfurls atop double kick drums, building tension in its verse to release in the chorus, or how the subsequent “Contrition” picks up with a more urgent and metallic chug topped with a plotted but classy lead that fades out of the mix just as the first verse begins, the band galloping forward for the duration into the depressive acoustic/full-breadth tone trades that take place in “Poisoned,” a swapping out of layers masterfully handled by producer Shane Mayer that only make the fullness of tone in the subsequent “Just Remember” all the more resonant.

That song, along with the following centerpiece “Eden,” might be the emotional and aesthetic crux of For a Black Tomorrow — i.e., the moments at which Deathwhite‘s tribute is most readily paid to their influences. Once again, that’s primarily directed toward Katatonia, but there are darker impulses at work as well, in the guitar and bass tones, though the vocals and the pacing assure that the prevailing vibe is emotionally downtrodden in just such a specific way. It’s also gorgeous — especially “Eden” — so another manner in which Deathwhite seem to nod to their stylistic forebears is finding beauty amid the darkness of their making and not forgetting to highlight the one alongside the other. That, ultimately, is a major factor in what separates this kind of doom from its more workmanlike, traditionalist contemporaries.

deathwhite

It’s not until they come around to sixth track “Dreaming the Inverse” that Deathwhite cross over the five-minute mark. One could argue this shows a monotony of structure, but that’s simply not the case — rather, it’s an efficiency of songcraft from which the trio begin to branch out as For a Black Tomorrow progresses toward its finale title-track. After “Eden,” “Dreaming the Inverse” (5:01) brings turns between double-kick gallop and quieter, brooding verses, the sudden moves between one and the other a familiar tactic and not entirely dissimilar from what Deathwhite already brought to “Poisoned,” though heavier on the whole and more soulful vocally. That vocal soul sets up the primary impression that “Death and the Master” will make over the course of its six and a half minutes, as a rawer shout — still melodic, but the delivery changes, to be sure — emerges to top the fuller push of the band behind it.

As one of the most engrossing moments of For a Black Tomorrow, “Death and the Master” takes on a declarative vibe that could be derived from Primordial at least in part or perhaps unintentionally, but it’s a powerful standout either way, and though an interlude of some sort might’ve worked well to separate the two, “Death and the Master” still doesn’t necessarily overshadow “Prison of Thought,” which follows, the two songs rather acting as complements as the latter revives shifts from hard-driving distortion and acousti-poetics, settling by its finish on a raucous but still very much controlled payoff. “For a Black Tomorrow” itself rounds out, the band quickly dropping a lyrical reference to Anathema‘s “Shroud of False” from Alternative 4, and moving through a return to the shorter songcraft of earlier pieces, but with something of a looser feel as the guitar leads the way through. There’s still a tension in the chug, but open-ringouts remind of the patience in “The Grace of the Dark,” and the vocal harmonies that top the final section before the fadeout in the song’s second half are nothing less than beautiful. One could hardly ask for a more appropriate ending.

What Deathwhite present on their debut album is a powerful showcase of aesthetic. They prove readily in these tracks that they know what they want to sound like, know where they’re coming from in terms of influence and style, and know how they want to bring that to fruition in their own work. As the question was eventually put to the likes of AnathemaKatatoniaParadise Lost and My Dying Bride, sooner or later, Deathwhite will have to answer how they’ll be able to take these elements and craft something more individualized from them — that is, something to distinguish them from their forebears in the subgenre — but that is perhaps best left to time and the natural development of the group over their next however-many releases. As regards For a Black Tomorrow, it speaks with resonance to a certain depression of spirit and though Deathwhite may seem a novelty at first for the simple fact of their surprising geographic locale, there’s nothing in these nine songs that feels like a put-on or a less than genuine expression on its own level.

Deathwhite on Thee Facebooks

Deathwhite on Bandcamp

Deathwhite website

Season of Mist website

Season of Mist on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

JaketheHawk Release Debut Album Year of the Hawk

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Riff-driven Pittsburgh four-piece JaketheHawk have released their debut album, Year of the Hawk, on Blackseed Records. Comprised of an utterly manageable and thoroughly unpretentious five tracks, the offering readily toes the line between heavy rock and more aggressive, metallic fare, finding a niche not heard from the Steel City since the likes of SuperVoid a few years back, but presented with a bluesier take and a less directly metal base of influence. Okay I guess maybe less like SuperVoid and more like a band that also has funny capitalization in their name with words smashed together and every now and then might break out a scream or two. You got me.

The album, including the dreamy left turn of “Witchy Weather,” is streaming in full at the bottom of this post, and the CD and download versions are available now. I’m not so sure about the Uncle Acid comparison below — maybe the riff of “Horizon?” — but I’ve heard way more tenuous lines drawn between bands. Dig in and see what you think.

From the PR wire:

jakethehawk year of the hawk

Jakethehawk – Blackseed Records

Inundating the Pittsburgh scene with their blend of grunge-inspired desert/stoner rock, JakeTheHawk has been moving audiences and peers alike with their unique sound and exceptionally original songwriting. Comprised of two sets of brothers, Jordan Lober (drums), Justin Lober (bass), Cam Ferrante (guitar), and Jake Ferrante (guitar/vocals), their sound is an amalgam of the influences each set of brothers was raised on. Reminiscent of the evil, bluesy riffs of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and the charging, fuzzed out rhythms of Kyuss, JakeTheHawk pull in the familiar to create their own voice in the desert/stoner rock genre.

JakeTheHawk will be releasing their debut album Year of the Hawk on CD and online via experimental/heavy underground label, Blackseed Records. The album will be available via Blackseed Records and Bandcamp on January 26th, 2018.

https://www.facebook.com/jakethehawkpgh/
https://jakethehawk.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/jakethehawk
http://www.blackseedrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/blackseedrecords
https://blackseedrecords.bandcamp.com/

Jakethehawk, Year of the Hawk (2018)

Tags: , , , , ,

Descendants of Crom 2018 Announces Initial Lineup with Geezer, Devil to Pay, Kind, Curse the Son, Come to Grief, Heavy Temple and Many More

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

There are still headliners to be announced and others to come as well, and no doubt between now and then there will be one or two shakeups to what’s listed here between bands being added and bands dropping off as will invariably happen, but kudos all the same to organizer Shy Kennedy for the super-early unveiling of what’s probably the bulk of the lineup for Descendants of Crom 2018, the second installment of the Pittsburgh-based heavy fest. In addition to her own band, Horehound, Kennedy has already assembled a killer roster of acts, from Heavy Temple to Come to Grief to a slew of Steel City reserves in OutsideInside, Molasses Barge and others, and even if this was going to be the ultimate shape the festival would take — that is, if no one else was going to be added, which, again, they are — you’d still have to call it a good time in the making.

If you’ve got a 2018 calendar yet, mark it. Earlybird tickets are linked below. Here’s the announcement as posted by the fest, along with a quote graciously provided by Kennedy herself:

descendants of crom 2018

Blackseed Records Presents: Descendants of Crom 2018

The Descendants of Crom 2018 will be held in Pittsburgh, PA, USA in September 2018.

Pre Gala at Howlers in the evening on Thursday, September 27th.

Full days on September 28th and 29th at Cattivo.

“Descendants of Crom has been one of the most incredibly rewarding endeavors I’ve ever been involved with,” says fest organizer Shy Kennedy. “Having so many great people working and coming together for their underground music community the way they did that day was inspiring enough to erase any doubt that it has to grow. It has to be an annual event. Next year’s event may seem far away but it lends the time to really build it and get more people aware of it. As you know, a lot of work goes into a musical festival and if you take your time, it becomes a very enjoyable task. Descendants of Crom 2018 will be here all too soon and I, for one, cannot wait!”

Once upon a time there were 17 bands who joined forces to create one killer day of live, riff-ripping performances to celebrate the great community of our heavy, underground music here in the Northeast of the United States. That time was just a couple months back in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The all day event was a great collaboration in effort by local organization, bands from the region as well as a few touring and some very generous scene contributors. It was called the Descendants of Crom. Let’s do it again!

The second annual Descendants of Crom will be held on the last weekend of September of 2018 in Pittsburgh again. This time span three days in length as we are including a Thursday evening pre gala and all day events happening Friday and Saturday. There will be over 30 bands in total coming from all over the United States with a strong regional focus.

Tickets will be offered for single day to day events or in combinations. An Early Crow ticket sale will be held for the weekend combo for a 3 month period, limited to 125. These will be live soon today.

Stay tuned to find out the bands who will be rounding out the evenings of each night as well as the completed schedule.

Today, we announce the “meat” of the Descendants of Crom. These bands are the ones supporting this scene locally, regionally and or nationally. They are strong, beautiful creators of the jam, the breakdown, the beat, and the undeniable riff… they are the Descendants of Crom:

Descendants of Crom 2018 lineup:
The Long Hunt (PGH)
JaketheHawk (PGH)
Mires (PGH)
Solarburn (PGH)
Doctor Smoke (PGH)
Fist Fight In The Parking Lot (PGH)
Thunderbird Divine
Cloud
Curse the Son
Disenchanter
Molasses Barge (PGH)
OutsideInside
Wolftooth
Sierra
Horehound (PGH)
Cavern
Doomstress
Heavy Temple
Devil to Pay
Serpents of Secrecy
Eternal Black
Demon Eye
Geezer
Kind
Freedom Hawk
Duel
Come to Grief

Headliners and sub-headliners to be announced soon.
Early Crow tickets available for all event and 2 day passes for 3 months (11/23 – 2/23).

https://www.facebook.com/DescendantsOfCrom/
https://www.facebook.com/events/177536592803763
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3186333
http://descendantsofcrom.com

Solace, Live at Descendants of Crom 2017

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ZOM Announce Album Details for Nebulos

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

zom

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

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

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

zom nebulos

ZOM reveals details of their new effort “Nebulos”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zom, “Solitary” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

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

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

the obelisk quarterly review

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

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Hallatar, No Stars Upon the Bridge

hallatar-no-stars-upon-the-bridge

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

Hallatar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Alastor, Black Magic

alastor black magic

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

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records webstore

 

The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms

the dead-end-alley-band-storms

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

The Dead-End Alley Band on Thee Facebooks

The Dead-End Alley Band on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Hair of the Dog, This World Turns

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

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

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Soup, Remedies

soup remedies

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

Soup on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

 

Kungens Män, Dag & Natt

kungens-man-dag-natt

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

Kungens Män on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Smoke Wizzzard, Run with the Wolf

smoke-wizzzard-run-with-the-wolf

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

Smoke Wizzzard on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Wizzzard on Bandcamp

 

Highburnator, Keystoned State

highburnator-keystoned-state

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

Highburnator on Thee Facebooks

Highburnator on Bandcamp

 

The Curf, Death and Love

the-curf-death-and-love

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

The Curf on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records webstore

 

Ulls, I

ULLS I

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

Ulls on Instagram

Ulls on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review & Track Premiere: Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock

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

outsideinside-sniff-a-hot-rock

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

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

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

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

outsideinside

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

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

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

Outsideinside on Thee Facebooks

Machine Age Records website

Sixteentimes Music website

Tags: , , , , , ,