Quarterly Review: Avon, The Discussion, Alms, Vessel of Light, Enojado, Mother Mars, Southfork, Gypsy Sun Revival, Valhalla Lights, L.O.W.

Posted in Reviews on April 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is the part of each Quarterly Review when I begin to question my life choices. Otherwise known as ‘the beginning.’ I still haven’t decided if this is going to be a five-dayer or a six-dayer, but one way or another, between now and whenever it ends, at least 50 records will be reviewed in batches of 10 per day. It’s completely insane. Completely. Every three months or so I remind myself of this by doing it again, and every time it ends up being worth the insanity. I’ve no doubt that will be the case here as well, but looking across the next five days at placeholders where reviews need to be, well, yeah. It’s pretty insane.

So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Avon, Dave’s Dungeon

avon daves dungeon

Dave’s Dungeon is the second full-length from Californian desert rockers Avon, and with it they make their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds. Peppered with varied songwriting across alternately garage rocking cuts like “Yello,” “On Fire” and “Red Barn” (video premiere here), languid psychedelic excursions in “Space Native” and the subtly proggy “Hero with a Gun,” and the classic desert crunch of “Dungeon Dave,” “Mace Face” and “Terraformations,” the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist James Childs, bassist Charles Pasarell (also Waxy) and drummer Alfredo Hernández (ex-Kyuss, Yawning Man, etc.) have no doubt garnered attention due to the participation of the latter, but all three manage to leave their mark across the 10 tracks, particularly Childs. His English-accented vocals become a defining element in “Hero with a Gun” and “Yello,” and whether fast or slow, the rhythm section offers air-tight accompaniment. Straightforward in their approach but not without some flourish, Avon bring their own touch to the classic desert style and offer memorable songs in the process. Nobody loses.

Avon on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

The Discussion, European Tour EP

The Discussion European Tour Ep 2017

Issued to coincide with an initial string of Fall 2017 European shows, the aptly-titled Tour EP serves as the debut offering from The Discussion, and its five tracks mark the return of guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants, not heard from since the end of her prior outfit, Kylesa. With “A Gesture/Other Side,” Pleasants and company commune with post-rock and atmospheric stretch, where “Like Rain” and “Surf Jesus” channel New Wave and Blondie pop with an underlying heft of low end to add presence. Through it all, Pleasants’ vocals prove a patient and melodic element, and as “Before We’re Gone” brings in a moody krautrock sensibility and finale “Cuts Like a Knife” engages louder and more forward riffing in its final minute payoff, the message that The Discussion has only begun comes through loud and clear. Tour EP sounds like the beginning stages of a larger process of experimentation and creative growth, and one hopes it proves to be precisely that.

The Discussion on Thee Facebooks

The Discussion on Bandcamp

 

Alms, Demo Vol. 1

alms demo vol 1

Modern heavy rock groove meets classic metal guitar on AlmsDemo Vol. 1, which, as it turns out, is more of a sampler than an actual demo, comprised as it is of two rough mixes from the band’s forthcoming debut album. The result of this mesh on “The Offering” and “Dead Water” is somewhere between Uncle Acid swing and Iron Maiden twin lead work, and the five-piece do well immediately to own the combination and make it cohesive sonically. Traditional doom play more of a role in “Dead Water,” and the keys of vocalist Jess Kamen – joined by guitarist/vocalist Bob Sweeney, guitarist Danny McDonald, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans – and while I don’t know what label it is that’s going to pick them up (I’d believe anyone from Ripple to Shadow Kingdom to Season of Mist, depending on how much they want to tour), but if these two songs are anything to go by, they’ll be lucky to get them.

Alms on Thee Facebooks

Alms on Bandcamp

 

Vessel of Light, Vessel of Light

vessel of light vessel of light

Collaborating between Ohio and New Jersey, Vessel of Light brings together vocalist Nathan Opposition of Ancient VVisdom and guitarist Dan Lorenzo of Hades. Their self-titled five-tracker EP (on Argonauta) melds bluesy metallic riffing with tales of murder and drugs on cuts like “Dead Flesh and Bones” (video premiere here) and its eponymous closer, which emphasizes a hook based around the lines, “LSD has got a hold on me/I wanna show you all the things that I’ve seen.” It goes like that. For Lorenzo, parts recall the groove he brought to short-lived heavy rock outfit The Cursed, but with Opposition’s lyrics and the periodic delving into harsher vocals, there’s a moodier and more aggressive edge to the songs that helps define the personality of the duo as a band. How often they’ll work together remains to be seen, they make a murderous introduction with this EP and there’s plenty of fodder here for further exploration should they get there.

Vessel of Light on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Enojado, Mist and Thunder

enojado mist and thunder

German trio Enojado was founded by guitarist/vocalist Stephan Kieserling circa 2002, and though he’s been through numerous lineups since, with bassist/vocalist Thomas Schnaube and drummer Till Junker, he’s put together the band’s first release since their 2014 The Chain is Loose LP was issued by Setalight. At under half an hour and six tracks plus an intro, late 2017’s Mist and Thunder offers solid heavy rock songwriting with a straightforward approach bordering on the metallic in its tone but never quite departing a heavy rock context in rhythm, even in the starts and stops of “Notorious.” The obvious standout in heft is the seven-minute “Coma,” which seems to add weight to everything around it, from “The Truth About Gold” earlier to “I Saw the Sun,” which follows, and the finale in “Queen of Heaven,” which brings a quick payoff to the release and leaves a residual echo and drone/guitar minimalism for its last two minutes. Less derivative than it at first seems, Mist and Thunder might take multiple rounds to sink in, but proves worth the effort of a dedicated listen.

Enojado on Thee Facebooks

Enojado on Bandcamp

 

Mother Mars, On Lunar Highlands

mother mars on lunar highlands

It’s kind of rare for a band to sound like they’re making fun of their own music as they play it, and yet, “Lost Planet Airmen” from Mother Mars’ fourth full-length, On Lunar Highlands, does precisely that. The Aussie trio led by multi-instrumentalists Frank (drums, synth, Clavinet) and Paul (guitar, bass, synth, banjo-mandolin, keys) Attard – who also produced together – and featuring the bluesy stylings of vocalist Dave Schembri, did not make the 11-tracker a minor undertaking. Rather, at 69 minutes, it pushes through stoner boogie on “Thought it Best to Cut You Loose” and still has room for heady jams on extended pieces like “The Stalwarts of Stalwart Castle” (9:31), “Woodhollow Green” (12:55) and the penultimate title-track (8:35), which leads to the far-out banjo shenanigans of closer “The Heavy Hand of the Destroyer.” Needless to say, madness ensues. Interludes like “Bean Stalkin’” and “Bean Stalkin’ Again” and the experimental “The Working Mind of the Creator” add anything-can-happen flair, and the weirder On Lunar Highlands gets, the more it satisfies. It gets very, very weird.

Mother Mars on Thee Facebooks

Mother Mars on Bandcamp

 

Southfork, Through a Dark Lens

southfork through a dark lens
Two decades after their founding in 1997, Stockholm’s Southfork returned late last year with their first album since 2001’s Straight Ahead, the seven-track Through a Dark Lens, which itself is nearly five years in the making. Opening with its longest cut (immediate points) in the 7:59 “Already Gone,” the bass-heavy approach the band takes is indeed emblematic of an era now easily thought of as classic, but one could hardly call it dated for that. Rather, tracks like “Into the Deep” and “Tomb of the Mirror Men” flow easily from one to the next and the record reveals in the strut of “Seventosix” and the answer-back closer “Nowhere Gone” just why someone might put almost half a decade of effort into realizing it. Whether you remember Southfork’s original run or not, Through a Dark Lens offers immersive tone and songwriting and as Southfork have already followed it up with what seems to be a compilation release, it may signal a return to fuller activity on their part.

Southfork on Thee Facebooks

Southfork on Bandcamp

 

Gypsy Sun Revival, Journey Outside of Time

Gypsy Sun Revival Journey Outside Of Time

Production by Kent Stump (Wo Fat). Mastering by John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet). Released through Nasoni Records. Sure enough, the second album from Texas heavy psych rockers Gypsy Sun Revival, Journey Outside of Time, wants nothing for the quality of its associations and with the Hendrixian guitar work of Will Weise and the bluesy classic frontman approach of vocalist Mario Rodriguez, they earn that pedigree through and through. Tyler Gene Davis’ contributions on organ only further the ‘70s vibes on “To the Sky” before Weise takes a wah-soaked solo backed by Lee Ryan on bass and drummer Ben H., and the later two-part “Pisces” combines with closer “Departure” to create a thrilling jammed-out side B that takes the more structured craft of “Indigo” and catchy opener “Cadillac to Mexico” earlier and pulls them through an interdimensional haze that only does more to evoke the album’s title. Between Journey Outside of Time and Gypsy Sun Revival’s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), one is left wondering how long we’ll be able to think of them as a well-kept secret of Texas’ fertile heavy underground.

Gypsy Sun Revival on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Valhalla Lights, My Gracious Highway

valhalla lights my gracious highway

There’s a commercial sense of clarity to Valhalla LightsMy Gracious Highway, which seems to have been originally issued by the band in 2016 but is being given a renewed international push. It’s a crisp 13-track/45-minute long-player, marked by solid songcraft and the forward performance of vocalist Ange Saul, who takes the place of departed original singer Phoebe Black, who passed away in 2015 just prior to guitarist George Christie, bassist Brent “Badger” Crysell and drummer Deon Driver – all formerly of heavy rockers FORT – entered the studio to record their debut release. Songs veer toward Queens of the Stone Age-style groove on “Hammer the Witch” and closer “Punk,” and there’s enough variety of mood between the brooding “Beautiful,” showcase centerpiece “The One” and “Darker Side of Love” and the all-go rockers “Rise Above,” “Crucify” and “Someday” to carry the listener through smoothly with an abiding sense of professionalism. Will be too clean for some listeners, but is largely inarguable in its execution.

Valhalla Lights on Thee Facebooks

Valhalla Lights website

 

L.O.W., Bones EP

low bones ep

Located in the northwest of Poland, the acronymic four-piece L.o.W. debut with the Bones EP, which hurls forth three extended works of extreme sludge led into by an atmospheric intro. The band – the lineup of vocalist Adam, guitarist Marek, drummer Witold and bassist Micha? belong to the post-Primitive Man sphere of viciousness, but “Tear Me Open” offers some respite in its closing moments, pulling back on the massive plunder and switching from guttural growls to spoken vocals. With just a touch of Electric Wizard swirl, “Almost Like God’s,” renews the onslaught, offering a break in its middle from the Eyehategod-style sway while saving its most brutal growl for last, and at just under 10 minutes long, the title-track rounds out Bones with bass and drums unfolding a progression soon topped by guitar noise that lets the listener know they’ve just entered another level of punishment. There are moments of impulse toward stonerism that show themselves in Marek’s guitar work, but the primary mission on Bones seems to be assault, and the band has no problem living up to that intent.

L.o.W. on Bandcamp

L.o.W. on Thee Facebooks

 

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Sunnata, Outlands: Travel Beyond Borderlines

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sunnata outlands

This year marks a decade of activity for Poland’s Sunnata, who began their career releasing a series of EPs and a full-length under a prior name before beefing up their sound and adopting the new identity for 2014’s Climbing the Colossus. The impressive Zorya (review here) followed in 2016 and expanded their progressive reach, and their apparent penchant for putting out records on even years continues with Outlands, which also continues a theme of vague figures on the cover art, keeping in kind with both LPs prior in that regard.

If one were to look at the many faces and arms/branches of the person/alien/deity on the front of Outlands and think Sunnata — the lineup of vocalists/guitarists Szymon Ewertowski and Adrian Gadomski, bassist Michal Dobrzanski and drummer Robert Ruszczyk — might be shooting for something to convey a multifaceted existence of some sort, their sound bears that out across the eight-song/47-minute release, which is comprised of nothing less than brilliantly composed progressive post-heavy rock, so spacious that one can hardly see from one end of it to the other, and encompassing enough to genuinely feel like it’s creating its own world as it plays out.

Consistent in overall largesse, it varies in songcraft so that a piece like the nine-minute post-intro opener “Lucid Dream” and the later thrust of “Gordian Knot” hit their own targets, but the underlying force of the production and the expansiveness of the sounds being created tie the songs together and create an overarching flow that moves the listener carefully along Outlands‘ otherwise tumultuous path. If Climbing the Colossus was about Sunnata establishing what was then a new identity and Zorya about expanding their reach into new cross-genre territories, then Outlands feels like the realization of Sunnata of something unto itself, born of but not necessarily beholden to its influences and expressive on both emotional and cerebral levels.

It’s not every band who is able to make that leap, but Sunnata have quite clearly dedicated themselves to pushing ahead creatively, and that seems to guide the Warsaw four-piece’s craft on Outlands, be it the subtle build and surge of volume and groove in “Lucid Dream” that provides the record’s first payoff and arguably most effective moment of consumption, or the Alice in Chains-style harmonies and layering that tops the blastbeats of “Scars,” which follows. More even than their last time out, there’s a prevalent sense of ritual to Outlands — with some of the Eastern inflection in the guitar work, one is almost reminded of a less Om-derived Ethereal Riffian — but the real key to the album is patience.

Sunnata Aleksandra Burska

Even when they’re playing fast, as on “Scars” or in “The Ascender,” they’re in no rush, and suitably enough, the best example — if it’s not “Lucid Dream” — might be Outlands‘ side-A-capping title-track, which begins with an underlying tension of drums and whispers and moves fluidly through hypnotic repetitions through its early verses; the bottom-of-the-mouth vocals vague but working in intertwined layers to mask the build happening beneath them. Finally, at about the five-minute mark and in a mirror of “Lucid Dream” before it, “Outlands” slams into a massive groove that only grows larger when the drums slow to half-time. That would usually be enough to end on, but Sunnata push through the crescendo and dip back into atmospheric reaches and rebuild a progression that’s never really meant to take off in the way of the prior movement, but ends with acapella harmonies to give way to the low-end heft of “The Ascender” at the start of side B, which will ultimately be defined by the album’s 12-minute finale, “Hollow Kingdom” but still has plenty of crunch to offer along its path toward that ending.

To wit, the pairing of “The Ascender” and “Gordian Knot” at the start of side B doesn’t seem accidental. I’m not sure I’d all either track straightforward, but with some harsher vocals included in both — shouts that in the first verse of “Gordian Knot” are metallic enough to remind me of the last Amebix record (which I liked) — and shorter runtimes (5:33 and 4:21, respectively) compared to everything on side A except Outlands‘ 40-second noise-build “Intro,” the impression is still of a more direct methodology. Fortunately, Sunnata handle the intensity of “Gordian Knot” with no less grace than they did the worldbuilding of “Lucid Dreams,” and there are still all manner of backing vocal layers and other noises to contend with, so it’s not like the depth has disappeared, it’s just being used toward rawer ends. “Gordian Knot” caps at full-throttle and gives way to the manipulated guitar noise (and maybe keys?) of “Falling (Interlude),” which serves as a direct lead-in for “Hollow Kingdom,” the 12:35 run of which begins minimal, quiet and spacious, before moving through early sections that are more chants than verses but engagingly melodic nonetheless and serving as something of a hook anyway with the repetition of the word “hollow” as a kind of mantra.

Just before two minutes in, Sunnata shift into the next section of the song, but instead of continuing to build forward, cut back again after this verse and return to the patience shown in “Lucid Dreams” and the title-track. A chorus is established and while it seems like “Hollow Kingdom” is headed for an inevitable payoff, just before its halfway point, the song breaks — the kick drum and some sparse guitar letting you know it’s still there at all — and turns to a completely different progression. It’s a little out-of-nowhere, but one suspects that’s the whole idea. They’re building again, patiently, subtly, and they do indeed move into an apex for “Hollow Kingdom” with lumbering crashes that begin just passed nine minutes in, but to my mind, the real confirmation of the band’s achievement with Outlands is what follows, when they return to the original chorus to close out. By then, they’ve shifted so far away from where they originally came that it’s completely unexpected, and the turn is pulled off flawlessly as a final confirmation of the level of craft that Sunnata have been executing all along.

One wonders if, 10 years ago, the members of Sunnata might have had any sense of the accomplishments in style and substance they would ultimately attain, but whether Outlands is the result of a conscious evolutionary process or an organic growth from release to release, the fact remains that it stands in a place all its own.

Sunnata on Thee Facebooks

Sunnata on Twitter

Sunnata on Bandcamp

Sunnata on YouTube

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Sunnata to Release Outlands March 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sunnata

Points for consistency to Polish heavy progressive psychedelic rockers Sunnata. Their last album, 2016’s Zorya (review here), kicked ass, and so does their new one, Outlands. The Warsaw-based group’s third offering, Outands is out March 23, and it plays between influences extreme and atmospheric, metallic and rocking, and it bears a heaviness as much of spirit as of sound. Each record Sunnata have done has seen them come more into themselves sound-wise, and listening to the patient unfolding of the title-track as you can at the bottom of this post, you’ll clearly see that’s the case here as well.

Get yourself ready for a journey:

sunnata outlands

Ritual heavy unit SUNNATA unveil details for new album “Outlands” and share title track

Warsaw’s ritual heavy specialists SUNNATA return with their third full-length “Outlands” this March 23rd. Open your minds and enjoy the title track off this new sonic experience.

Hailing from Warsaw, Poland, SUNNATA have kept paving their own way to higher metal skies since their 2014 debut “Climbing The Colossus”. Weaving together sounds of the heaviest kind, dark psychedelia and grunge-infused hooks and vocals, the gifted foursome crafts a trippy and epic brand of metal that can only be accurately described as ‘ritual heavy’. Their spellbinding sophomore album “Zorya” (2016) made the band gather even more momentum with regard to the European alternative heavy scene. This third album entitled “Outlands” brilliantly brings out even more ‘ritual’ in the ‘heavy’, confidently crossing the frontier of progressive doom to land in even more melancholic and mind-expanding alleys. SUNNATA are back and set to blow minds once again.

SUNNATA give an insight into this new song and record: « We have chosen the title track ‘Outlands’, because it lays right at the crossroads of all influences that made our new album’s sound. It’s a trance-inducing, shamanic journey with a story about sacrifice of the self, as a way to reveal a deeper truth behind it. The longer we worked on our third album, the more surprised we were with the outcome. ‘Outlands’ was one of the first songs we wrote, and it definitely is a good representative of the new record. It shows the shift in our sound, that definitely pushed us more towards modern psychedelia merged with strong 90s influences, and a bit of ritualism and doom in the background. We’ve had over a year long journey with this material and we feel that it shows yet another face of Sunnata. We let ourselves loose to go with the flow. No boundaries. This is first taste of what happened. Open your mind and experience it. »

“Outlands” artwork was designed by Polish artist Maciej Kamuda. Band photo courtesy of Aleksandra Burska. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Haldor Grunberg at Satanic Audio.

SUNNATA – New album “Outlands”
Available on March 23rd on CD and digital

TRACK LISTING:
1. Intro
2. Lucid Dream
3. Scars
4. Outlands
5. The Ascender
6. Gordian Knot
7. Falling (Interlude)
8. Hollow Kingdom

SUNNATA ARE
Szymon Ewertowski – vocals, guitar
Adrian Gadomski – vocals, guitar
Michal Dobrzanski – bass
Robert Ruszczyk – drums, percussion

https://www.facebook.com/sunnataofficial
https://twitter.com/followsunnata
http://sunnataofficial.bandcamp.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/sunnataofficial/videos

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Six Dumb Questions with Weedpecker (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Six Dumb Questions on January 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

weedpecker

Today, Jan. 5, marks the official release date of Polish heavy psych rockers Weedpecker‘s awaited third album, III. Also their debut outing through respected purveyor Stickman Records, its tracks have been floating around the interwebs for the better part of the last several months in one form or another, and the whole thing might well have been on YouTube already, I don’t really know, but if you click play below, you can stream it in full courtesy of the band and label, and whether it’s your first time hearing it or not, it’s one I’m thrilled to be able to feature for the wide-spreading wash it enacts and the inviting warmth with which it greets its audience.

Comprised now of founding brothers/guitarists/vocalists Piotr Wyroslaw “Wyro” Dobry and Bartek “Bando” Dobry, bassist Grzegorz “Mroku” Pawlowski, who joined in time for the release of II (review here) and drummer Pan Falon, the Warsaw-based troupe have held firm to a creatively progressive course since their self-titledweedpecker iii debut (review here) surfaced in 2013, but with III, their approach reaches new levels of patience and fluidity. Across the first two of the five inclusions, “Molecule” and “Embrace,” they employ dream-toned otherworldliness wielded with stonerly fascination and exploratory aplomb. Layers are rich but spread wide, allowing the listener to breathe easy as they make their way through toward the cyclonic churn that, prefaced in the second half of “Molecule,” takes fuller hold with album centerpiece “Liquid Sky” and the early going of the subsequent “From Mars to Mercury,” shades of latter-day Elder‘s lush melodies showing themselves amidst the swirl of fuzz and echo.

The full-length rounds out with the nigh-Beatlesian harmonies of “Lazy Boy and the Temple of Wonders,” a stretch of just under nine minutes that builds in linear fashion to a smoothly-executed apex pulled off with class and confidence alike, first swelling in the midsection before drawing back to highlight the Pawlowski‘s bassline as the Dobry brothers weave lines of guitar and (maybe?) Mellotron together for a serenity that thrusts forward circa 5:45 to begin to provide III with its well-earned final payoff. This, naturally, is no less fluid than anything that’s come before it, and III on the whole reveals itself to be a molten joy of heavy psych that finds Weedpecker more come into their own sonic persona than they’ve ever been.

Accordingly, and with the album out today, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to hit the Dobrys up with a few questions about the making of III and their sense of where Weedpecker are coming from generally and where they might be headed. You’ll find the results of that Q&A after the album player immediately following here.

Please enjoy the following stream and Six Dumb Questions:

Six Dumb Questions with Weedpecker

Tell me about writing III. When did the process start? Was there anything in particular you were looking to accomplish coming off of the last album and going into this one?

Piotr Dobry: We started writing the material for III right after we finished recording II. To be honest, I don’t quiet remember how it went. We were just working hard on upgrading the sound and compositions comparing to II. The experiences we earned from previous records are very precious, we wanted to use them to make the best possible album.

Bartek Dobry: I remember that I was really happy with the sound of II when we left the studio, but later on I started to notice that I don’t like it to be honest. The compositions and the sound. They seemed to be flat and boring. We really wanted not to repeat mistakes we did during the last studio session. I think it turned out okay but still I see lots of things that we can work on in the future.

How do Weedpecker songs take shape? A track like “Embrace” seems to have a lot of interwoven parts – how do they come together for you guys generally? Has this process changed at all over the course of your three albums?

PD: It depends, the whole material is written by me and Bartek, we bring patterns to the rehearsals and then we try to make songs out of them. Sometimes it takes very long for us to finish the song. Like the song is almost done but it needs one or two more patterns which just can’t come to your head, and then you wait even couple of months till you find what you were looking for. After finishing such a song we want to do something spontaneous and just jam something out.

BD: The process definitely changed, we started to put more attention on what patterns are getting in the songs. The selection was really raw. We probably had to give up riffs that could make another LP but they weren’t good enough. Also I’ve never recorded music in home just to register riffs and to work on them, which I did during working on III. It really makes a good work.

What was your time in the studio like for III? How long were you recording? What was the vibe like? Did you have any specific goals for the sound and, if so, what were some of the challenges along the way in making them happen?

PD: We recorded it in freshly built studio of Tides From Nebula fellas. Haldor of Satanic Audio was our recording guy just like on II. We’ve spent very intense week there, we’ve been recording for 12 hours a day and sometimes even more. We’ve smoked literally ton of weed during the session. It was pure pleasure. I love to record and it gives me lots of joy when I hear particular tracks being combined and slowly becoming a song on which we were working for two years. We knew exactly what kind of gear (guitars, amps and the whole rest) we wanted to use on this record. We bought some and some we borrowed from our good friends. On II we didn’t put as much effort.

BD: Special thanks to Cheesy Dude for being our backup sound guy for one night!

How did signing to Stickman come about? The label seems to have such distinctive taste. What does it mean to you to have them backing your record?

PD: It means a lot to us! Personally I love many records published by this label and I was really happy when we got the proposition. Good friend of ours, Nick DiSalvo came to the gig in Berlin, and he said that he’d like to show the material to Rolf [Gustavus], owner of the label. After something about a week we got an official proposition from Stickman.

How do you feel that Weedpecker has grown generally since the first album? Is that something you think about and try to purposefully make happen, or do you just prefer to let the songs take shape as they will and see what comes out? How much of your progression is intentional?

PD: Of course we care about the continuous growth of the band. We want every each album to sound better than the previous one. That means we have to work harder and invest more money each time. Still it gives us lots of pleasure and satisfaction. On each rehearsal we smoke blunts together, play, and talk about stuff.

BD: The progression is partly intentional. As we play more and have more experience with composing and stuff we begin to have more expectations about our music. I want songs to be more complicated and melodic. But still the most important is just to have fun out of playing. If we play the riff and we really feel it during the rehearsal than propably it’s good. Or perhaps it’s shit and we were too high while playing it. You never know.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

PD: Right after releasing III we go on the small tour around the Germany and Poland, and then we will see.

BD: Peace and love brothers and sisters!

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Weedpecker at 8merch

Stickman Records website

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Orphanage Named Earth to Release Re-Evolve on Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

With a blend of post-metal and rawer hardcore as their sonic foundation, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to liken Polish newcomers Orphanage Named Earth to the atmospheric assault brought to bear by Converge, but in listening to the newly-signed-to-Argonauta five-piece’s Demo 2015, they seem to go further along the path of ambience and further along the path of harsh crust both than do the long-running crossover champions, setting up a stark contrast between the two sides rather than a single approach between them. Orphanage Named Earth are a pretty new band, so they might get there and they might not, but the blend they’ve got going in the meantime works in their favor on the demo and one is curious to hear how it might pan out on their forthcoming debut long-player, Re-Evolve.

The album is set to release early 2018 on Argonauta Records, who announced they’d picked up the band thusly via the PR wire:

orphanage named earth

Polish Sludgers ORPHANAGE NAMED EARTH sign to ARGONAUTA RECORDS

Thrilled to welcome in Argonauta Records family ORPHANAGE NAMED EARTH, Post Metal / Hardcore Sludgers from Poland.

The band formed in 2015 as a four-piece and recorded a 5 songs demo, self released in February 2016 and distributed among friends and allies. At that time, the band coined their music as ‘romantic crust’, originally as a joke, but it caught on and stayed with the band, as according to many, it defines their music style very well.

As a five-piece now, the band played a few gigs in Poland and rehearsed immensely to record a debut full-length album in August-September 2017 at Dobra 12 Studio. The album, called ‘Re-evolve’, is a story of romantic thinking about the world of peace, respect for human and animal life and earth liberation, meeting the brutality of metal, crust d-beat and harsh but atmospheric guitars. Lyrically, the band touches important sociological issues evolving around one main topic: human greed and selfishness, as according to the band, human thinking needs to re-evolve unless we want to live in the world of wars and exploitation.

The band says: “We are excited about inking the deal with Argonauta Records. As ORPHANAGE NAMED EARTH we want to bring DIY punk and metal communities together, and we feel that Argonauta is the best platform to do so.”

ORPHANAGE NAMED EARTH “Re-evolve”, 60 minutes of “romantic crust” played by Kima – guitar, Peter – guitar, Hubert – bass, Michal – drums, Wojtek – vocals, will see the light by early 2018. Tour dates to follow soon.

https://orphanagenamedearth.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/OrphanageNamedEarth/
facebook.com/argonautarecords
www.argonautarecords.com

Orphanage Named Earth, Demo 2015

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Spaceslug, Mountains and Reminiscence: Drift and Consciousness

Posted in Reviews on November 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

spaceslug mountains and reminiscence

Sometimes a band puts out an EP and there’s an agenda behind it. They’re going on tour, or trying to make money for a subsequent recording, and a short release is something new and decent to put on a merch table or an webstore and draw people in. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a desire to keep momentum going after a successful full-length, and sometimes there are just extra tracks laying around a band wants to get out to the public.

I’m not sure which scenario it is in the end driving the release of Mountains and Reminiscence by Polish tonal adventurers Spaceslug, but frankly, I’ll take it any way it comes. The new five-songer from the Wroclaw three-piece of drummer/vocalist Kamil Ziólkowski, bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka and guitarist/backing vocalist Bartosz Janik arrives via BSFD Records and Oak Island Records, checks in at just over 27 minutes, and immediately makes itself comfortable in a deep-running mix of warm fuzz rendered spacious through echoing vocals and (mostly) languid grooves.

In method, it’s not so far removed from what Spaceslug accomplished on their second full-length, Time Travel Dilemma (review here), but nor should it be since three of its component pieces — “I am the Gravity,” “Elephemeral” and the 2001: A Space Odyssey-sampling “Space Sabbath” — were tracked during the same session this past January. Opener “Bemused and Gone” and closer “Opposite the Sun” are newer, recorded in July, and they effectively sandwich the middle tracks with two very different vibes that nonetheless remain consistent in their sound and headphone-worthy heavy psychedelic purposes.

With “Bemused and Gone,” it’s drift. Drift all the way. With an anchor of subtle tension in the running guitar line, Spaceslug ignite Mountains and Reminiscence on a particularly dreamy and hypnotic note. This is something they’ve been able to do well since their debut, Lemanis (review here), surfaced last year and distinguished itself among 2016’s best, but like much of their approach, it’s a take that solidified even further (as much as anything here isn’t molten) on Time Travel Dilemma and clearly something with which Spaceslug are signaling their intent to keep pursuing.

All the better, then, that “Opposite the Sun” should complement at the end. Fading-in drums from Ziólkowski are met with Rutka‘s rumbling low end, and Janik‘s fuzz-drenched guitar arrives as the final element before the band launches into a crashing verse that runs at a near-gallop. It’s not the most riotous song in the world — hell, it’s not even the most riotous song on Mountains and Reminiscence, which is “I am the Gravity” — but it is a stark contrast to “Bemused and Gone” and serves to emphasize the range that is emerging and has already emerged in Spaceslug‘s sound, which, while able to give the impression of being a trance-inducing monolith of amp-pushed heat, offers an underlying nuance that continues to demonstrate progressive potential.

spaceslug

As to what the group will do with that range ultimately, it’s difficult to say, but it meshes well with their loyalty to oozing riffs and vocals, and whether they’re playing fast or slow at any given point, their sense of command is obviously increasing. As a result, they’re all the more able to conjure atmospheric spaciousness and largess of tone without contradicting the openness of the one with the other’s risk of claustrophobia.

Between “Bemused and Gone” and “Opposite the Sun,” Mountains and Reminiscence tells a kind of mini-story of disintegration. To explain, they shift from the shortest inclusion in the 4:30 post-grunge banger “I am the Gravity” through the post-Sungrazer bounce and hook of centerpiece “Elephemeral” to the longest in the slow-rolling, darker-vibed, aptly-titled “Space Sabbath” (6:26), and in so doing push from one song into the next toward more ethereal ground. Guitar alone starts “I am the Gravity” and guitar alone ends “Space Sabbath” — but it does so respectively with the most straightforward riff of the EP and with barely-there minimalist warble retained in drift even after the accompanying bass has faded.

From one end to the other of those two moments, a linear transition is taking place that, while Mountains and Reminiscence is a short release, nonetheless makes for a quick album-style flow that seems distinct from the opener and closer surrounding and on its own wavelength in terms of how the songs relate to each other. The effect that has is to make Mountains and Reminiscence almost like two different offerings mashed together in a particle accelerator — a two-song single and a three-song EP drawn from two sessions and combined into one, which I suppose it is — but given Spaceslug‘s overarching consistency of sound, it seems only reasonable to expect Mountains and Reminiscence to set up a considerable fluidity over its span, and of course it does precisely that.

Spaceslug have worked quickly to get two full-lengths and this EP out, and one has no reason to believe they’ll look to slow the momentum they’ve been able to build thus far going into 2018, but more than the impressive rate at which they churn out digipaks, tapes, LP platters and t-shirts is the sonic growth to which they’ve clearly committed themselves. Of all the temporal threads they’ve established thus far into what one hopes will be a long career, that’s the most resonant, and that’s what would seem to be pushing them toward the forefront of the vibrant heavy underground in Poland and, of course, realms beyond.

Spaceslug, Mountains and Reminiscence (2017)

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records at Kozmik Artifactz

BSFD Records on Thee Facebooks

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Spaceslug Release New EP Mountains and Reminiscence

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

spaceslug-photo-Benjamin-Desr

Sometimes life brings surprises, and sometimes those surprises are awesome. To wit, a new EP called Mountains and Reminiscence from primo Polish fuzzrollers Spaceslug brings five previously-unheard tracks, two of which are brand new — that’s opener “Bemused and Gone” and closer “Opposite the Sun” — in digipak CD form delivered by BSFD Records and Oak Island Records, distributed through Kozmik Artifactz, to follow-up on earlier-2017’s righteous sophomore full-length, Time Travel Dilemma (review here). The other three cuts — “I am the Gravity,” centerpiece “Elephemeral” and the 2001: A Space Odyssey-sample-inclusive “Space Sabbath” — were recorded in the sessions for that album, so there’s a nice tie-in between where the three-piece have been and where they might be headed. As to that — you guessed it — space.

I’d be amazed, and frankly a little disappointed, if as we move into the Spring 2018 festival season Spaceslug‘s name doesn’t pop up across multiple bills. Looking at you Roadburn, the Desertfests and Freak Valley. Somebody if not multiple somebodies is going to have to step up and get these guys the exposure that at this point they’ve more than well earned with the quality of their studio output.

You can hear Mountains and Reminiscence in its entirety below if you want to understand what I’m talking about. I think you’ll only be able to agree the issue is urgent and needs to be addressed thoroughly:

spaceslug-mountains-and-reminiscence

Spaceslug – Mountains & Reminiscence

So here it is.

It is a very special release for us – 3 tracks were recorded during Time Travel Dilemma sessions and two are completely new.

This Ep connects both old and new. A little spin-off in our universe of infinite.

So behold the Mountains and feel the Reminiscence.

Listen loud and share with friends!

https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/album/mountains-reminiscence

6 panel, pressed Digipack CD
BSFD Records/Oak Island Records
Number: CD024/OIR018

Tracklisting:
1. Bemused And Gone 05:06
2. I Am The Gravity 04:30
3. Elephemeral 05:23
4. Space Sabbath 06:26
5. Opposite The Sun 05:54

Track 2-4 recorded at MAQ Studio/Satanic Audio during TTD sessions by Haldor Grunberg & Jakub Radomski (12-15.01.2017)
Track 1 & 5 recorded at UNIQ Studio by Marek Dziedzic (29.07.2017)
Mixed & Mastered by Haldor Grunberg (Satanic Audio)

Cover Art & Layout by Maciej Kamuda

Spaceslug is:
Bartosz Janik – guitars/backing vocals
Jan Rutka – bass/vocals
Kamil Zió?kowski – drums/main vocals

Guest vocals in “Elephemeral” by Jakub Radomski

https://www.facebook.com/spaceslugband/
https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/oakislandrecords/
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?k=1072&lang=eng
https://www.facebook.com/BSFD-records-247816545273558/

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Weedpecker Sign to Stickman Records; III Coming Soon; New Song Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

weedpecker

Poland’s Weedpecker already have two strong albums under their collective belt in their 2013 self-titled (review here) and 2015’s even more expansive II (review here), but with an endorsement like that of Stickman Records behind the forthcoming III, it seems all the more like they might just be about to hit their finest hour to-date. The Warsaw four-piece are the latest impressive pickup from the German label, which seems to be on something of a spree over the course of the last year-plus, with King Buffalo, Papir and a distro deal with The Heads‘ imprint Rooster Rock, as well as releases by ElderMotorpsycho, OrangoThe Devil and the Almighty Blues, the aforementioned Papir, etc. All the better, as their taste is basically unfuckwithable as far as I’m concerned.

In the case of Weedpecker, they’re yet another band who take familiar sonic elements and turn them into something brazenly individual. With an underlying influence from their now-labelmates Elder, they honed a progressive feel across the still-psychedelic and very much still-heavy II, and based on what Stickman says about it and the track “Liquid Sky” that’s streaming below, I can’t wait to hear what’s in store for III. Good band. Good news. Positive vibes and kudos all around.

Exact release date still to come. Here’s the cover art and the announcement from the label:

weedpecker iii

STICKMAN WELCOMES WEEDPECKER WITH NEW ALBUM “III”!

It’s the year of the roman numeral at Stickman Records, beginning with Papir’s “V” and continuing the trend with our latest addition to the family – Poland’s WEEDPECKER for their third album, aptly titled “III”!

Weedpecker started turning heads with their fantastic debut album in 2013, no small feat in the oversaturated world of drug rock in the 21st century. Mixing grungy riffs with dreamy, psychedelic soundscapes, their heavy and trippy sound is singular and instantly recognizable. Numerous European tours including shows with our own Elder won the Warsaw quartet the kind of quiet reverence that accompanies any underground band who’s just too good to be let out into the mainstream and discovered for all, and the second LP “II” remains a sought-after gem. When we got the chance to work with them for their latest offering, of course we jumped at the chance!

If the band name conjures up images of marijuana haze – as it undoubtedly should – “III” is a whole ‘nother drug; showing no inhibitions in breaking out of the “stoner rock” mold, the extended trips float over the listener with lush keys, beautiful guitar melodies and ethereal vocal harmonies. Borrowing more heavily from the lighter psychedelia a la early Tame Impala, Pond or Morgan Delt, “III” shows the band experimenting and jamming more than ever before with unexpected and wonderful results.

Says Weedpecker: “We are very happy to announce that our new album will be released by Stickman Records! We’re super proud that Elder, Motorpsycho, Papir, Mos Generator, Anekdoten are our label buddies!”

Release date and details to follow soon!

Weedpecker is:
Wyro-guitar
Bartek-guitar
Mroku-bass
Falon-drums

https://www.facebook.com/Weedpecker-349871488424872/
https://weedpecker.bandcamp.com/
http://weedpecker.bigcartel.com/
http://weedpecker.8merch.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940/
https://twitter.com/stickmanrecords

Weedpecker, “Liquid Sky”

Weedpecker, II (2015)

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