Review & Track Premiere: Spaceslug, Eye the Tide

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

spaceslug eye the tide

[Click play above to stream ‘Vialys Pt. I & II’ from Spaceslug’s Eye the Tide. Album is out July 20 on BSFD Records.]

Comprised of drummer/vocalist Kamil Ziólkowski, bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka and guitarist/backing vocalist Bartosz Janik, Poland’s Spaceslug have worked quickly to become a significant presence in the European heavy underground. Their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here) and its 2017 follow-up, Time Travel Dilemma (review here), were both among their respective years’ best releases, and they even found room last year to squeeze in an EP release in the form of Mountains and Reminiscence (review here) before embarking on their third full-length and the final installment in a stated trilogy, which arrives as the six-song/54-minute Eye the Tide on BSFD Records. Their advantage has always been a decisive grip on their aesthetic — from the first album on, they’ve had a definite idea what Spaceslug should sound like in terms of tone, rhythm and melody, and after earning comparisons to Sungrazer early for their heavy psychedelic drift and blend of thick guitar and bass with floating vocal melodicism, they’ve worked over their releases to make that sound even more their own. It has never been more so than it is on Eye the Tide.

The big difference this time around? An uptick in the level of aggression. Opener “Obsolith” still casts post-rocking lead guitar lines out into the ether, but in its nod under the chorus, there’s just something more pointed about their approach, and that manifests even further in the post-midpoint bassy chug of second cut “Spaced by One” before the mostly-chill, mostly-patient “Eternal Monuments,” but is most prevalent as side B begins with the slamming “Words Like Stones” and the first harsher vocals arrive. Screams. They run at first alongside the laid back, clean-sung vocals that have become one of the hallmarks of Spaceslug‘s style, but at 3:35 into the track’s total 8:28, there’s a sudden pivot and the guitar goes full-on black metal and those screams come more to the forefront. Likewise, the drums take a more intense pulse, and as they move toward the halfway mark, seemingly all of a sudden, Spaceslug have cast an extreme vision of charred heavy psychedelia. They turn to a long instrumental stretch soon enough, but the context has shifted, and when the vocals return after the seven-minute mark, it’s both the throat-rippers and the clean singing, but the screams are definitely in the top position, whereas even just at the beginning of the song, they were in the background.

That back-to-front movement itself is important in understanding the poise and class with which Spaceslug carry out their ideas, and especially that with which they introduce a jarring new element to their audience. After a stretch of threatening-in-context squibbly guitars in the penultimate “Vialys Pt. I & II,” the screams come again on Eye the Tide closer “I, the Tide” as background and preface to the mountainous chug that will snow-cap the album’s 11:16 longest cut. But the second time is more a part of a summary of what the album as a whole has accomplished, and it’s really that first assault that’s more striking.

spaceslug

To-date, Spaceslug have been a pretty easy-going listen. Maybe not heavy-hippies, but not by any means abrasive. “Words Like Stones” changes that, and adds an undeniably metallic flair to the proceedings. It makes one want to go back to Time Travel Dilemma and Lemanis? Has that influence always been there, lurking beneath the surface of their ultra-molten psychedelic flow? Maybe it has. More likely than not, but it’s still a surprise when the screams hit if only because it brings that new aspect of Spaceslug‘s sound so far forward amid the still-relatively-peaceful surroundings.

Is it enough to turn listeners off? Probably not, unless they’re completely averse to any screamed vocals at any time, in which case that’s more about a policy position than this actual album’s use of an element in Spaceslug‘s sound. In the full scope of Eye the Tide as a whole, it works well to jar the experience after the band has dropped subtle instrumental hints of what’s coming on “Obsolith,” “Spaced by One” and “Eternal Monuments,” the latter a nine-minute patient unfolding that turns from its extended intro serenity to a cyclical riff that’s positively crushed in its tone and an apex that, until its side B mirror in the closer, is the most satisfying on the record. In the spirit of heavy rock tradition, they save the experimentation for the album’s second half, but when the time comes, they deliver with boldness and confidence alike, just as they always have, and the screams serve to enhance and broaden “Words Like Stones” rather than detract from it. Ultimately, they make Spaceslug a richer, less predictable band, and that’s never a bad thing. The anti-scream crowd will either have to come around or not. Spaceslug could just be getting started on their most important stylistic work yet, and as they haven’t yet, I wouldn’t expect them to let anything get in the way of their steamroller of a sound.

And it’s important to remember that as striking as those moments are, that’s just it. They’re moments. Parts of the whole impression Eye the Tide makes, and whether it’s the calm initial stretch or the later linear build in “Vialys Pt. I & II” or the push of Ziólkowski‘s drums behind the unfolding second half of “Obsolith” or the consuming motion of the finale in “I, the Tide” which manages to be as hypnotic as it is pummeling as it moves through its midsection to the instrumental second half and the megastomper riffing that caps the album as a whole, there’s much more to Spaceslug‘s third outing than “the part where the dude screams.” That becomes a piece of the larger picture, and the band do well to integrate it into their overall sphere. Will there be more? Is it indicative of some shift toward a more extreme direction? Is this to be their longer-standing contribution to psychedelia? Hell if I know. It works here, and that’s enough for right now. If nothing else Spaceslug have earned a certain element of trust via the quality of their songwriting and aesthetic execution over their now-complete trilogy, and if they can pull off such a sharp turn as they do on this third-of-three, it seems all the more worth continuing to follow them and see where they go next.

Spaceslug, “Obsolith” official video

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

Spaceslug on Instagram

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records at Kozmik Artifactz

BSFD Records on Thee Facebooks

BSFD Records website

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Belzebong & The Necromancers Announce Fall Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Poland’s Belzebong and France’s The Necromancers will head out on a tour together this November. In the announcement that follows, Sound of Liberation notes a new album coming from the latter that has yet to be detailed, so that’s an immediate bit of intrigue right there, and Belzebong released their latest outing, Greenferno, in early 2016, so it may well be that even if they don’t have a new record out by the time the tour starts on Nov. 12, they’re road-testing new material with an eye toward a 2019 release. And while we’re speculating, let’s just say if it’s gonna happen next year, it’d probably happen on April 20. Just a guess. Just spitballing.

But the tour is definitely on and will make stops at Heavy Psych Sounds Fest in Innsbruck and at the VVitch Festival in Milan, so although it starts after the glut of European Fall festivals (some of which are also Sound of Liberation productions), the truth is there really is no “festival season” when it comes to the heavy underground over there. It just keeps going pretty much all the time at this point.

The following was hoisted directly from the social medias:

belzebong the necromancers tour

Tour Announcement – BelzebonG + The Necromancers

Folks, today we are proud to unveil the “Purveyors of Dankness” European Tour 2018, with Polish heavy-doomfuzz-metal outfit BelzebonG and French Heavy-Occult rockers The Necromancers, as follows!

12.11.18 | HUN | Budapest | Dürer Kert
13.11.18 | CRO | Zagreb | Vintage Industrial Bar
14.11.18 | SI | Ljubljana | Koncertna Dvorana Rog
15.11.18 | A | Innsbruck | Heavy Psych Sounds Fest (p.m.k)
16.11.18 TBC
17.11.18 | FR | Strasbourg | La Laiterie Artefact
18.11.18 | FR | Paris | La Maroquinerie
19.11.18 | FR | Rennes | Mondo Bizarro
20.11.18 | FR | Bordeaux | Make It Sabbathy 50th (VOID // BDX)
21.11.18 | SP | Barcelona | Rocksound BCN
22.11.18 TBC
23.11.18 TBC
24.11.18 | IT | Bolzano | Bunker Jugendtreff
25.11.18 | IT | Milano | VVitch Festival (Circolo Magnolia)
26.11.18 | D | Munich | Feierwerk
27.11.18 | NL | Utrecht | dB’s
28.11.18 | B | Brussels | Magasin 4
29.11.18 | D | Cologne | Helios37
30.11.18 | D | Berlin | Zukunft am Ostkreuz

The Necromancers will be presenting their new album whose first details will be unveiled very soon!

https://www.facebook.com/belzebong420/
www.soundofliberation.com/belzebong

https://www.facebook.com/thenecromancersband/
www.soundofliberation.com/the-necromancers

Belzebong, Greenferno (2016)

The Necromancers, Servants of the Salem Girl (2017)

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Spaceslug Post “Obsolith” Video; Eye the Tide out July 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

spaceslug

Polish tonal-serenity bearers Spaceslug seem to work pretty quickly. Last year they had the Mountains and Reminiscence EP (review here) and their second LP, Time Travel Dilemma (review here), both out, and it was only in 2016 that their debut, Lemanis (review here), landed to such wide acclaim. A quick turnaround to their third long-player isn’t necessarily unexpected considering the thus-far track record, but in a year that’s already featured so much killer music, adding another one to the list certainly doesn’t seem like it’s going to hurt anything.

Spaceslug have a new video up now for “Obsolith” that you can see at the bottom of this post, and preorders for the album are coming soon. Here’s info from the PR wire:

spaceslug eye the tide

Prolific psychedelic metallers SPACESLUG return with new album | Premiere new video for ‘Obsolith’

Eye the Tide by Spaceslug is released worldwide on 20th July on BSFD Records

Pre-orders will be available soon at https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/music

Formed in Wroc?aw, Poland in 2015 by guitarist Bartosz Janik and drummer Kamil Zió?kowski, Spaceslug was born a singularity; a rare and unusual discovery found deep amidst a cosmic multiverse of doom, stoner metal and progressive rock.

Completing their line-up shortly after that initial bang with the arrival of Jan Rutka on bass, the trio soon began their journey through space and time; writing, recording and releasing their debut album Lemanis in 2016 on BSFD Records/Oak Island Records to wide acclaim.

With the album enthusiastically received on terra firma, Spaceslug’s quite frankly supermassive sound served as a flawless introduction. A sound where moments of dark desolation sidled up neatly alongside light and hope, riffs and soar-away vocals, it opened a sonic gateway into the hard rock underground and pathed the way for their devastatingly brilliant follow-up, Time Travel Dilemma. Released just one year after their debut, the album kept the cosmic cannon firing on all cylinders and like their Mountains & Reminiscence EP (released later that same year) their ticket was deservedly stamped and valid beyond the stratosphere.

This July will see the official worldwide release of Eye the Tide, Spaceslug’s third full-length album and the closing entry in their personal trilogy:

“It took us just four months to create our first album, Lemanis, and we wanted it to be more than just a project. We wanted it to be a journey into another dimension,” explains guitarist Bartosz Janik. “With Eye the Tide, we want this third part of the cosmic journey to explore the deepest and darkest parts of that universe. The album itself is more progressive and post-rock than anything we’ve done before as we always want to turn that next corner when it comes to making music.”

Later this year, Spaceslug will also contribute their dark reimagining of Pink Floyd’s ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ to THE WALL [Redux], Magnetic Eye Records’ end-to-end homage to the iconic Pink Floyd album, featuring heavy music luminaries including The Melvins, Pallbearer, Mark Lanegan, Scott Reeder and Ruby the Hatchet.

Eye the Tide by Spaceslug is released worldwide on 20th July via BSFD Records. Pre-orders will be available soon at https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/music

TRACK LISTING:
1. Obsolith
2. Spaced By One
3. Eternal Monuments
4. Words Like Stones
5. Vialys Part I & II
6. I, The Tide

SPACESLUG:
Bartosz Janik – Guitar, Vocal
Jan Rutka – Bass, Vocal
Kamil Zió?kowski – Drums, Vocal

https://www.facebook.com/spaceslugband/
https://www.instagram.com/spaceslug_pl/
https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/music
https://www.facebook.com/BSFD-records-247816545273558/
https://bsfdrecords.blogspot.co.uk/

Spaceslug, “Obsolith” official video

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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.

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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

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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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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/
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Orphanage Named Earth, Demo 2015

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