Quarterly Review: Ufomammut, Horehound, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Glacier, MNRVA, Coroza, Noosed, zhOra

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Oh hi, I didn’t see you there. Earlier this week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and yes, even Wednesday — the alarm went off at 4AM as usual and I got up, got coffee going and a protein bar and sat down to write, starting basically around quarter-after with a quick email check and whatnot. In terms of basic timing, this last morning of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review is no different. I even have the baby monitor streaming on my phone as I would most mornings, so I can keep an eye on when The Pecan gets up. What’s changed is I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Oslo, Norway, having just arrived on an overnight flight from Newark. Managed to sleep some on the plane and I’m hopeful adrenaline will pick up the rest of the slack as regards getting through the day. That and caffeine, anyhow.

Although, speaking of, my debit card doesn’t work and I’ll need to sort that out.

First thing’s first, and that’s reviews. Last batch of 10 for the week. We made it. Thanks as always for reading and being a part of this thing. Let’s wrap it up in style, and because I like working on a theme, three Irish bands in a row close out. Hey, I went to Ireland this year.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ufomammut, XX

UFOMAMMUT XX

Five years ago, Roman cosmic doom masters Ufomammut took a reflective look back at their career for its 15th anniversary with the documentary/live-performance DVD XV (review here). And since one might define the arc of their tenure as constantly trying to top themselves, for their 20th anniversary, they’ve issued a 12LP boxed set, titled simply XX, that compiles their nine albums to-date and tops them off with the mostly-subdued-style XX itself, which reimagines past cacophonies like “Mars” and “Plouton” in a quieter context. That part of the mega-offering issued through their own Supernatural Cat imprint comprises six songs recorded live and makes highlights out of the hypnotic strum and incantations of “Satan” as well as the rumbling drone of “Lacrimosa,” which takes on new emotional resonance for the shoegazy treatment it receives. I’ve said on multiple occasions throughout the years that Ufomammut are a band to be treasured, and I stand by that 100 percent. The XX box should be perceived by fans as an opportunity to do likewise.

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Supernatural Cat website

 

Horehound, Weight

horehound weight

Less than a year after issuing their second long-player in the form of Holocene (review here) through Blackseed and Doom Stew Records, Pittsburgh atmosludgers Horehound align with DHU Records for the two-song 8″ EP Weight, which brings “Unbind” and “The Heavy,” two new cuts that, while I’m not sure they weren’t recorded at the same time as the last album — that is, they may have been — they nonetheless showcase the emergent melodic breadth and instrumental ambience that is developing in their sound. Even as “Unbind” rolls toward its low-end tempo kick, it does so with marked patience and a willingness to stay slow until just the right moment, which is not something every band cane effectively do. “The Heavy,” meanwhile, builds itself around a Crowbar-style dirge riff before Shy Kennedy‘s verse arrives as a standalone element, all the instruments around her dropping out from behind. That moment alone, frankly, is worth the price of admission, as whether it’s through that extra inch in diameter of the platter itself or through the audio of the tracks in question, Horehound continue to distinguish themselves.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records BigCartel store

 

Lingua Ignota, CALIGULA

LINGUA IGNOTA CALIGULA

I’m not sure I’m qualified to write about Lingua Ignota‘s CALIGULA (on Profound Lore), but I’m not sure anyone else is either. Like a self-harmonizing mega-Jarboe turning existential horror into epic proclamations of “I don’t eat/I don’t sleep” on “DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR?” amid bass throb and terrifying melodic layering before making bedroom black metal sound like the lightweight self-indulgence it’s always been on the subsequent check-out-the-real-shit “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” Kristin Hayter‘s work is little short of experimentalist brilliance. She is minimal and yet over-the-top, open in creative terms but unwaveringly dark and rife with melody but severe to the point now and again of true aural abrasion. She weaves a context of her own into “FUCKING DEATHDEALER” as she recalls the lyrics to the aforementioned “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” while the outright brutality of “SPITE ALONE HOLDS ME ALOFT” is married to a piano-led meditation that, even without the noise wash from whence it comes, is enough to recast visions of what heavy is and can be in musical terms. I won’t pretend to get all the references like “kyrie eleison” (“lord have mercy”) worked into “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL” and the violent strains surrounding, but it’s impossible not to realize the power of what you’re hearing when you listen.

Lingua Ignota on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Zentrum

valborg zentrum

With an intensity born out of a history of industrial music and focus on tight rhythms making an impact in even-tighter songwriting, Valborg are neither beholden to death metal nor entirely separate from it, but their style has taken on a life of its own over the course of the last 10 years, and their latest offering, Zentrum (on Prophecy Productions), is the German trio’s most individualized take yet, whether that’s shown in the unbridled melodicism of “Anomalie,” the sludgy riff that drives the barking “Ultragrab” or the seemingly unrelenting snare pops of “Kreuzer” that, even when they finally release that tension, still make it only a temporary reprieve. Valborg‘s sense of control through the epic “Nonnenstern” should not be understated, and though the track is under four minutes long, yes, “epic” very much applies. Suitably enough, they close with “Vakuum” and throw everything at the listener at once before resolving in relatively peaceful atmospherics that could just as easily serve as an introduction to the next round of malice to come, whenever it shows up.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions webstore

 

Sageness, Akmé

sageness akme

Spanish trio Sageness — also written SageNESS — conjure smooth Electric Moon-style soundscapes on their second album, Akmé, and yes, that is a compliment. The record brings forth six tracks of easy-rolling instrumentalist jam-based heavy psychedelia that offer much and take little in return, the richness of the guitar tone from Dawyz and Michi‘s bass given jazzy fluidity by Fran‘s drumming. “Ephemeral” touches most directly on a Colour Haze, as it would almost have to, but even there, the feeling of spaciousness that Sageness present in the recording is a factor that helps them come across as more individual. Earlier, “The Thought” is a little more directly space rock, but opener “Andromeda” seems to be charting the course with its liquefied effects and somehow-even-more-liquefied groove, and if you can’t get down with that, I’ve got nothing for you and neither does the rest of the universe.

Sageness on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records website

 

Glacier, No Light Ever

glacier no light ever

It’s not exactly true, about their being no light ever on Boston post-metallers Glacier‘s latest full-length, No Light Ever. Sure, it’s plenty dark and heavy and brooding and all that fun stuff, and the riffs get loud and the drums break stuff and all that, but it’s certainly colorful in its way as well, and more than just shades of black on black. Comprised of four tracks cumbersomely titled in keeping with the traditions of the likes of Red Sparowes and the band’s own past work, cuts like “O World! I Remain No Longer Here.” and “The Bugles Blow, Fanned by Hysteria.” stretch themselves out along a scope as massive as the tonality the band emits, and as the wash of “We Glut Our Souls on the Accursed,” — the comma is part of the title there — gives way to feedback and the onset of “And We Are Damned Amid Noble Sound.” the sense of immersion is complete and clear as the priority under which they’re working. It’s about the whole album, or at least the two sides, as a unified work, and about crafting a world through the atmosphere evoked in the material. It works. If they say there’s no light in that world, so be it. It’s whatever they want it to be.

Glacier on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records webstore

 

MNRVA, Black Sky

mnrva black sky

Not-entirely-bereft-of-vowels South Carolina heavy trio MNRVA make their debut with the three-song EP Black Sky, a beast of a short release led by the riffs of guitarist Byron Hark on a stretch of ’90s-style crunch and sludge, with bassist/vocalist Kevin Jennings and drummer Gina Ercolini adding to the weight and shove of the proceedings, respectively. “Not the One” has the hook, “No Solution” has the impact and the title-track has both, and though I’m by no means saying the issue of their sound is settled 100 percent and they won’t grow or find their way from this — again, their debut — EP, they do prove to be well in charge of where their songs head in terms of mood and the atmosphere that comes through elements like the blown-out vocals and the rumbling bass beneath the lead guitar in the second half of “Black Sky” itself. Indeed, it’s those harsher aspects that help MNRVA immediately establish their individuality, and the vibe across these 18-plus minutes is that the punishment is only getting started.

MNRVA on Thee Facebooks

MNRVA on Bandcamp

 

Coroza, Chaliceburner

coroza chaliceburner

Just because Irish four-piece Coroza — guitarist/vocalists Ciaran Coghlan and Jack O’Neill, bassist/vocalist Jonny Canning and drummer Ollie Cunningham — might write a song that’s 18 minutes long, that doesn’t mean they forgot to actually make it a song as well. Thus it is that extended cuts like “The Plutonian Drug” (18:24) and closer “Iron from the Sky” (19:30) have plenty of room to flesh out their more progressive aspects amid the other three also-kind-of-extended pieces on Chaliceburner, the group’s ambitious hour-plus/five-track debut full-length. Each song essentially becomes a front-to-back movement on its own, with shifts between singers arranged thoughtfully from one part to the next and hooks along the way to serve as landmarks for those traversing, as in the opening “Chaliceburner” or the gruff winding moments of “Mountain Jaw,” which follows the nine-minute sax-inclusive centerpiece “Scaltheen,” because of course there’s a saxophone in there somewhere. All of this is a recipe for a band biting off more than they can chew stylistically, but Coroza manage pretty well the various twists and turns of their own making, particularly considering it’s their first album.

Coroza on Thee Facebooks

Coroza on Bandcamp

 

Noosed, She of the Woods

noosed she of the woods demo

Encased front and back by witchy samples and creepy vibes, Sept. 2019’s She of the Woods is the second demo in two months to come from Cork, Ireland’s Noosed. And you know it when they get around to the closing seven-minute title-track because it’s just about the only thing other than “Intro” that isn’t raging with grind intensity, but that stuff can be fun too. I don’t know how much witch-grind-doom is out there, but Noosed‘s first, self-titled demo (released in August) had a sludgy edge that seems to have separated out to some degree here into a multifaceted personality. Can one possibly be certain of the direction the band will ultimately take? Shit no. It’s two demos with basically no time differential between them. But if they can effectively bridge the gap between “Fuck Up,” “Wretch” and “She of the Woods,” or even play directly with the contrast, they could be onto something with all this noise and fuckall.

Noosed on Thee Facebooks

Noosed on Bandcamp

 

zhOra, Ruthless Bastards

zhora ruthless bastards

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it such that Irish four-piece zhOra wanted to do something less complicated than was their 2017 album, Ethos, Pathos, Logos (discussed here), so they went ahead and wrote a song that’s five minutes long and purposefully hops between subgenres, going from sludge to doom to a deathcore breakdown, with a snare-pop count-in, to blackened death metal and then back to a lumbering chug to finish out. Okay, zhOra, “Ruthless Bastards” is a an awful lot of metal and an awfully good time, but you missed the mark on “simple” by a considerable margin. If indeed the band had been plotting toward something, say, easier to play or to compose, “Ruthless Bastards” ain’t it. They’ll have to settle for being brutal as fuck instead. Something tells me they’ll survive having made that trade, as much as anything will.

zhOra on Thee Facebooks

zhOra on Bandcamp

 

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Insect Ark Announce Lineup Change; Touring with Oranssi Pazuzu

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

INSECT ARK

I seem to recall Insect Ark went on tour a couple years ago with Aluk Todolo, and was out before that with Aidan Baker and has toured with Locrian as well, so with the news that the Brooklynite outfit will join Oranssi Pazuzu for an East Coast run this Fall comes further confirmation that Dana Schechter has good taste. Schechter is once again the lone figure as well as the spearhead of the project, having parted ways recently with Ashley Spungin following the release last year of the well received Marrow Hymns (discussed here). A follow-up to that record is in the works, and it should be interesting to hear how Schechter being on her own again affects the sound. She’s never had any trouble harnessing a dynamic between minimalist ambience and outright crush, so yeah. One expects she’ll be fine.

Tour dates follow. These will be good shows:

oranssi pazuzu insect ark tour

INSECT ARK: Instrumental Noise/Doom Project Confirms North American Live Takeover Supporting Oranssi Pazuzu

Instrumental noise/doom project INSECT ARK will support Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu on a North American fall tour. The journey will begin on October 10th in Chicago, Illinois and run through October 19th in Atlanta, Georgia with additional INSECT ARK performances to be announced in the weeks to come. See confirmed dates below.

INSECT ARK w/ Oranssi Pazuzu:
10/10/2019 Reggies – Chicago, IL
10/11/2019 El Club – Detroit, MI
10/12/2019 Velvet Underground – Toronto, ON
10/13/2019 Le Ritz – Montreal, QC
10/14/2019 Sonia – Boston, MA
10/15/2019 Le Poisson Rouge – New York, NY
10/16/2019 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
10/17/2019 Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD
10/18/2019 Kings – Raleigh, NC (late show)
10/19/2019 529 – Atlanta, GA

Formed in late 2011 in New York City, INSECT ARK is the solo project of Dana Schechter (bass, lap steel guitar, synthesizers). An alluring fusion of horror-?lm soundtracks, psychedelic doom, and atmospheric noise, INSECT ARK’s intensely visual music weaves interludes of fragile beauty with crushing passages of swirling doom, spinning like a backwards fever dream.

A busy 2018 included the release of a full-length LP Marrow Hymns on Profound Lore Records, European and North American tours, a recording residency at modular synth mecca EMS Stockholm, and fest appearances at Roadburn, Basilica Soundscape, Northwest Terror Fest, and more. Now in Summer 2019, the composing of a new album is almost complete with heavy touring in fall 2019 and spring 2020 for the US and Europe scheduled.

From its inception, INSECT ARK has been about creating music that transports, both physically, and psychologically. Schechter made three solo INSECT ARK records (Collapsar 7″, Long Arms 10″, Portal/Well LP). In 2015, drummer/analog electronics builder Ashley Spungin joined the project, and together they made 2018’s Marrow Hymns and toured extensively as a duo/band.

As of July 2019, INSECT ARK returns to the primary model of Schechter working as a solo artist, with live and studio collaborations on a per-project basis. Bridging the gap between experimentation and song form, a heavy focus is on composition, but INSECT ARK is still very much a live experience, with emphasis on live instrumentation of bass, lap steel, drums and synths, using intricate live analog looping techniques to achieve a monster “wall of sound” with only one or two people on stage.

A mind-bending animated video piece accompanies live shows – also made by Schechter, who works as a video artist in the film business – completing the experience to envelop and crush the senses.

http://www.insectark.com
http://www.facebook.com/InsectArk
http://www.insectark.bandcamp.com
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Insect Ark, Marrow Hymns (2018)

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SubRosa Announce Breakup (For Now) and Many New Projects

Posted in Features on May 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Even with the many ongoing projects featuring the members as detailed below, SubRosa will be missed. The band announced their breakup with the expected level of honesty, going so far as to include a parenthetical “for now,” leaving open the possibility of doing something again in the future. They go out having released the best album of 2017 in For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), which serves as their final studio outing, and the 2018 live album, SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 (review here), which I have absolutely zero hesitation in dubbing one of the most powerful live performances I’ve ever witnessed. About 20 minutes ago, putting my son to bed, I sang him “The Mirror,” as I do every day.

That bit of personal affinity aside, SubRosa were legitimately a band pushing post-metal to places it hadn’t been, representative of a varied, passion-driven creative force that set a standard few could match. If this is it and they never do anything else, it’s a genuine loss. And if they come back at some point — any point, really, whenever — they’ll be welcome. For now, I’ll put on the last record and be glad to have seen the band when I did.

Here’s their announcement, as just posted on the social medias:

subrosa

To all of our beautiful, supportive fans and friends,

After a magical 13-year run, SubRosa is calling it quits (for now). Rebecca decided she wanted to focus on her solo project, The Keening, and Kim, Sarah, Levi and Andy have all been able to focus their creative energies on other musical ventures. We would never have experienced our dreams as reality without you, and we cannot thank you enough. Rather than despairing over what is lost, we want to continue this journey with you. We are all on fire right now writing new music:

• Kim and her partner are soon releasing their noise/doom/electro-magma love child into the world as Teleprom.

Bandcamp: https://teleprom.bandcamp.com/releases

• Andy is about to put out a new record with his 2-piece Bass and Drums band DØNE.

Bandcamp: https://donebandmusic.bandcamp.com/

• Sarah and Zachary Livingston from Minsk are releasing the first Asphodel Wine album “Slowdance Macabre” – a dynamic sonic narrative of love, passion, fire and the perils of consciousness – early next year, and are already writing their second album.

Instagram: @asphodelwine
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asphodelwine/

• Rebecca has started writing music for her solo project The Keening.

Instagram: @thekeeningmusic
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thekeeningmusic/

• And last but not least, Andy, Kim, Levi, and Sarah are writing an album that is heavier than a truckload of lead bricks. Our band is unnamed as of this announcement, but we will keep you posted on that.

If you ever came to a SubRosa show, listened to a song, gave us a place to crash, booked a show, promoted our music, or worked with us in any way, you were part of our dream. In particular, we’d like to thank our label owners and booking agents: Chris Bruni, Nathan Carson, Nanouk de Meijere and Ola Blomkvist, for supporting us continually through the years.

We love you.

SubRosa, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (2016)

SubRosa website

SubRosa on Bandcamp

SubRosa on Instagram

SubRosa on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Blood of the Sun, Evoken, IAH, Asylum, Merlin, The Hazytones, Daily Thompson, Old Man Lizard, Tuskar, Space Coke

Posted in Reviews on December 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I had to think long and hard just now about what day it is. It’s Tuesday. — See how confident I was in saying that? A mask for insecurity, as always.

Anyway, the QR continues today with 10 more records and a pretty solid mix of whatnot. Some of this I’ve written about before here, but basically want to have another shot at the records themselves, so as we wind down 2018, it seems like the time to do that is now. As always, I hope you find something you dig. Seems pretty likely, frankly. If you go the entire 100 records with nothing but a “meh” to show for it, the problem isn’t likely to be the records. Not trying to insinuate anything, I’m just saying. 100 records is a lot. 10 records is a lot. And that’s what we’re doing today, so let’s get going.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Blood of the Sun, Blood’s Thicker than Love

blood of the sun bloods thicker than love

Drummer Henry Vasquez (also Saint Vitus) returns to his ultra-Texan heavy rock roots with Blood of the Sun‘s first album in six years, Blood’s Thicker than Love (on Listenable). Driven by his own fervent rhythmic push, the six-song collection is given further classic heavy vibe through the prominent organ/keyboard work of Dave Gryder. Oh, and also the riffs from newcomer guitarists Wyatt Burton and Alex Johnson. Oh, and also bassist Roger “Kip” Yma‘s quick turns on bass. Oh, and also Sean Vargas‘ vocals. So yeah, pretty much the whole damn thing is classic uptempo heavy boogie, produced modern but making no mistake about where its heart lies. Vargas‘ voice has a pre-metal swagger that helps define tracks like “Livin’ for the Night” and the capper “Blood of the Road,” and while the follow-up to 2012’s Burning on the Wings of Desire (review here) is enough to make one wistful for the days when their contemporaries in Dixie Witch once also roamed the land, Blood of the Sun make classic rock their own and give it a vibrancy that’s nothing if not a show of love, regardless of how thick that may be.

Blood of the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Listenable Records on Bandcamp

 

Evoken, Hypnagogia

evoken hypnogogia

Unremitting. Unrelenting. Unforgiving. Whatever else one might say about New Jersey death/doombringers Evoken, it better start with the prefix “un-.” The negativity runs through the 60 minutes of their latest work, Hypnagogia (on Profound Lore), and one would expect no less than the ultra-mournful crush of “To Feign Ebullience” or the buzzing, resonant disdain of “Valorous Consternation,” the string sounds playing such a large role in crafting both the melodies and the relentless nature of their lung-deflating atmosphere. They may only break into speedier sections on rare occasion, but there’s no way to listen to Hypnagogia and call it anything other than extreme metal. It’s so cast down and so grinding that it not only conveys mood but affects it. Evoken are masters of the form, of course, and while Hypnagogia is their first full-length since 2012’s Atra Mors (review here), their history spans more than a quarter-century and time seems only to have made their miseries plunge even deeper.

Evoken on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

IAH, II

iah ii

In part, the gift that Argentinian trio IAH give with their aptly-titled second outing, II — following their 2017 self-titled debut EP (review here) — is to allow their parts to flesh out naturally across the six-song/38-minute span, so that even as second cut “HH” turns to more weighted chug, that in turn evolves into something no less spacious than the drift brought to bear in the second half of the later “La Niña del Rayo,” which makes its way ultimately through similar interplay. This back and forth is exceptionally smooth throughout II, as the instrumental outfit blend heavy psychedelia and progressive metal with an unflinching cohesion of their songwriting. The longest inclusion is the penultimate “Pri” at 7:35, which caps with massive start-stops en route to closer “Sheut,” which serves as one last showcase of the cosmic doom dynamic burgeoning in the band’s sound, as much ready to depart the earth as leave impact craters on it.

IAH on Thee Facebooks

IAH on Bandcamp

 

Asylum, 3-3-88

asylum 3-3-88

The band who a short time later would evolve into Unorthodox, Asylum have long stood as a testament to the enduring power of Maryland doom. 3-3-88 is the second official issue of their material Shadow Kingdom has stood behind, following 2008’s reissue of 1985’s The Earth is the Insane Asylum of the Universe (review here), and it’s no less a document of the classic metal that’s still very much the foundation of what Maryland doom is. From the Sabbathian opening of “World in Trouble” and the later “Psyche World” to the kind of feeling-out-the-riff happening in “Funk 69” and the concluding instrumental “Unorthodox,” there’s a rawness to the sound that suits it well in the spirit of Pentagram‘s First Daze Here, but even in barebones form, Asylum‘s doomly vibes brook no bullshit and weed out the feint of heart. Straightforward working-class doom grit stripped to its essentials. Hard to ask for anything more when you actually hear it.

Unorthodox on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Merlin, Dank Souls and Dark Weed: A Live Experience

merlin dank souls and dark weed

Kansas City doom rockers Merlin expanded to a six-piece early in 2018, and Dank Souls and Dark Weed: A Live Experience, as the title hints, captures this form of the band on stage. They’re playing a hometown gig at the Riot Room, and from the nodding groove that opens with “Abyss” from this year’s The Wizard (review here) to the extended reaches of a 19-minute take on “Tales of the Wasteland” that’s actually shorter than the studio version from 2016’s Electric Children (review here), the band explore reaches that are vast with a patience befitting their quickly-earned veteran status. The recording is remarkably clear and allows for the wash of “The Wizard Suite” to be discernible in its progressive rollout, and as they close with “Night Creep” from the 2016 LP, their energy comes through no less prevalent than the distortion driving it forward. The crowd are right to holler.

Merlin on Thee Facebooks

Merlin on Bandcamp

 

The Hazytones, II: Monarchs of Oblivion

the hazytones ii monarchs of oblivion

Touching on garage-doom influences, Montreal three-piece The Hazytones effectively sleek into the groove of “The Great Illusion” on their second Ripple LP, II: Monarchs of Oblivion, finding a balance between swing, melody and heft that pushes beyond the seemingly-requisite Uncle Acid influence to a place that isn’t shy about working in crisp tones or unabashed vocal harmonies. The title-track is a two-parter, and touches on theatrics-sans-pretense in the first piece while dedicating the second to following a central riff well worthy of the attention they give it toward a galloping solo finish. Opener “Empty Space” sets a creper vibe, and by the time they’re down to finishing out with the “Hole in the Sky”-style riff of “The Hand that Feeds,” that sensibility is reaffirmed as an essential component of The Hazytones‘ aesthetic. Whether it’s the chugging “Hell” or the way-blown-out “The Beast,” they hold firm to that central purpose and work with it to effect a sound that one can hear becoming their own all the more.

The Hazytones on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Daily Thompson, Thirsty

daily thompson thirsty

Three albums in, Dortmund’s Daily Thompson indeed sound Thirsty — or maybe it’s hungry, but either way, the Dortmund trio’s MIG Music offering captures a tight presentation based around nonetheless natural energy born of their time on tour, as the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Danny Zaremba, bassist Mercedes, and drummer Stefan Mengel touch on Spidergawd-style classic heavy rock strut with “Brown Mountain Lights” and make their way through the semi-acoustic drift of “Stone Rose” and toward the later roll of “River Haze” with a trail of hooks behind them. Songwriting is central to what they do, but while Thirsty isn’t a minor undertaking at a CD-era reminiscent 10 songs/53 minutes, the band offer a chemistry between them and a fullness of sound that allows them to play to different sides of their approach, be it the fuzz-blues of “Gone Child” or the final summation “Spit out the Crap” that seems to shove all the more to its cymbal-wash finish. The title Thirsty brings to mind connotations of need, but Daily Thompson sound like they’ve got it all taken care of.

Daily Thompson on Thee Facebooks

MIG Music website

 

Old Man Lizard, True Misery

old man lizard true misery

A strong enough current of noise rock runs beneath Old Man Lizard‘s True Misery (on Wasted State) that leadoff track “Shark Attack” is enough to remind of Akimbo‘s Jersey Shores, and in under two minutes, the subsequent “Snakes” ties that into crawling-paced doom riffery such that the lumbering “Tree of Te?ne?re?” opens like the gaping jaws of some deep-sea trench. From there it unfolds a bit more uptempo than one might initially think, but it shows how fluidly Old Man Lizard shift from one impulse to the other. Accordingly, True Misery plays out with familiar-enough tones put to deceptively subtle and unpredictable purposes, making one-two highlights of the eight-minute back-to-backers “Cursed Ocean, Relentless Sea” and “Misery is Miserable” — which says it all, really — ahead of the finale, well titled “Return to Earth.” A better band than people know, Old Man Lizard bring a progressive touch to what from many others would just be sludge riffing — a bit of Elder on that closer — and manage to do so without losing touch with the righteousness of their groove. True Misery takes a couple listens to sink in, but well earns those and more besides.

Old Man Lizard on Thee Facebooks

Wasted State Records website

 

Tuskar, The Tide, Beneath, The Wall

tuskar the tide beneath the wall

Tuskar‘s second offering through Riff Rock Records arrives titled for its three songs, “The Tide,” “Beneath” and “The Wall,” and comprises three tracks of largesse-minded sludge, burying its shouted vocals beneath mountainous low end. The Tide, Beneath, The Wall sets itself up through noisy churn and a roll that’s somehow misanthropic at the same time it seems well geared to have an entire bar headbanging. Either way, the feedback-worship in “The Wall” — sure enough a massive thing to slam into — makes a fitting end to the 20-minute release that seems to run so much longer, as “The Tide” and “Beneath” each set forth a grueling sprawl of malevolence that touches on the chaos to come without ever fully giving away what’s in store for the finale. At the same time this assault is cast, there’s an atmosphere to the proceedings as well such that Tuskar aren’t simply bludgeoning for the sake of bludgeonry, but finding a place for themselves within that in order to develop their attack. They do that successfully here and sound well up to the inevitable task before them of a debut full-length.

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Riff Rock Records website

 

Space Coke, L’Appel du Vide

space coke lappel du vide

I just about never do this, but I’m gonna go ahead and make the call: Space Coke‘s L’Appel du Vide is going to get picked up for a vinyl release in 2019. I don’t know who, how or when, but it’s basically a lock. The Columbia, South Carolina, organ-laced four-piece play classic-as-now heavy rock with right-on songcraft and a hard-hitting presentation that’s begging for some label with ears to hear it and press it to the platter it deserves. Be it the molten unfolding of the title-track or the fuzz-swirl of “Thelemic Ritual” or the cosmic stretch of “Kali Ma,” they’re locked in to a degree that utterly defies the notion that this is their first record, and from the vocal-effects smash in “Lucid Dream” and the samples laid over-top of “Interlude,” there’s never really a sense of where Space Coke — extra kudos for the Cheech & Chong reference — might go next, and yet their sound is cohesive, directed, and well aware of exactly what it’s doing and what it wants to do. Never a guarantee of anything in this world, but with Space Coke‘s take on modern stoner sprawl, I’d be amazed if someone didn’t grab this in the New Year, if not before. Eyes peeled on the PR wire for the announcement.

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Space Coke on Bandcamp

 

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Bell Witch Post Mirror Reaper Visual Album; European Tour Starts Nov. 28

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

bell witch

I was fortunate enough to be in the room at Roadburn 2018 when Seattle duo Bell Witch played their 2017 album, Mirror Reaper (review here), in its entirety from front to back for the only time that, to-date as of this post, they’ve done so. They’re soon to embark on a European tour doing the same with visual backing from assembled archival footage by Taylor Bednarz that’s recently been posted as a “visual album” representation for Mirror Reaper‘s equal-parts-massive-and-mournful 83-minute single-song entirety, gorgeous and emotionally harrowing as it is. But the point is that, yeah, I saw that. You should go see that. That’s a thing you want to see. Talking to you, Europe. Make that happen.

Aside from the raw power of Bell Witch‘s performance, the inclusion of vocalist Erik Moggridge (Aerial Ruin) and Bednarz‘s visuals make the Mirror Reaper performance all the more resonant. To call its spacious downward reaches epic is to undersell them with cliché, as not only was the album a personal expression of grief on the part of bassist Dylan Desmond and drummer/vocalist Jesse Shreibman at the loss of one-time drummer Adrian Guerra, but further, it was a pinnacle achievement of what the band’s work up to that point has been leading toward, their 2015 outing, Four Phantoms (review here), widely lauded as a landmark in death-doom. Mirror Reaper is — if it’s nothing else — a bold forward step in that progression, so even without the emotional weight behind it, its sheer impact as a creative work sets slow-churning fire to any scrutiny one might want to place on it.

The tour starts Nov. 28 in Iceland and continues through Dec. 14 in Cork, Ireland. I don’t know what the future will hold for Bell Witch, who also toured earlier this year in the States alongside YOB promoting the album and played the Pool Party of all things at this year’s Psycho Las Vegas (review here), but whether or not they do this kind of thing again, the moment right now feels crucial for it as they’re taking the album out on tour for the first time, and even if they make a habit of it, to say you were there the first time will remain a special claim to make. If you doubt me, reread the first sentence of this post.

The entirety of the Mirror Reaper visual album is below, followed by the tour dates.

Enjoy:

Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper visual album

Ahead of their upcoming European tour where they will perform their album Mirror Reaper in full, BELL WITCH, are streaming the album’s accompanying video. The 83-minute opus was released via Profound Lore to widespread acclaim in 2017 – a repress of the album is now available with new colour variants. Director Taylor Bednarz created a visual accompaniment to the one-track album.

Although the band have played part of Mirror Reaper live at previous shows, the full album has only been performed once in full, at this year’s Roadburn Festival – complete with visuals created by Taylor Bednarz, and vocals from Aerial Ruin’s Erik Moggridge. This full scale performance will be replicated in its entirety at a number of special shows across Europe at the end of the year.

BELL WITCH’s Dylan Desmond comments:
“Taylor Bednarz created a fantastic film to fit Mirror Reaper using exclusively archived footage. During the writing process it became evident to us that the music invited a visual aspect. Bednarz’s interpretation captures much of the emotion we were trying to convey during the song and we are proud of the collaboration with him.”

The accompanying film is a video collage comprised of dozens of archival films. Each of these clips are woven together with the album to build a patient, heavy, and haunting narrative. The film aims to hold the viewer in the state of a lucid dream, feeling trapped as a specter drifting through places of darkness. All shows on the tour will be performed in front of the Mirror Reaper film.

BELL WITCH European Tour Dates:
November 28 – Reykjavik IS – Gaukurinn*
November 30 – London UK – The Dome
December 1 – Leeuwarden NL – Into Darkness Festival*
December 2 – Sint Niklaas BE – Darken The Moon X *
December 3 – Wiesbaden DE – Schlachthof
December 5 – Leipzig DE – UT Connewitz
December 7 – Wroclaw PL – Sala Gotycka
December 8 – Berlin DE – Zukunft
December 9 – Malmo, SE – Plan B*
December 10 – Oslo, NO – BLÅ
December 11 – Gothenburg, SE – Musikens Hus*
December 12 – Copenhagen, DK – Alice
December 13 – Dublin IE – Thomas House*
December 14 – Cork IE – Cyprus Avenue
*denotes show is not seated

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Profound Lore Records website

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Evoken to Release Hypnagogia Nov. 9 on Profound Lore

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Fuck yes. I remember when New Jersey death-doomers Evoken got going again in the latter half of the aughts and I was fortunate enough to catch them live a few times being as we share a home state. They were awesome then. They were awesome when they put out Atra Mors (review here) on Profound Lore in 2012, and I have zero reason to think they’d be anything but awesome now. You want a herald for winter’s darkness late in the Fall? Here’s the first Evoken record in more than half a decade. It’s called Hypnagogia, it’s a concept record and it finds the band heading toward the quarter-century mark since they got their start in 1994. If you get to see Evoken — should you be so god damned lucky — do it.

The PR wire sounds the alarm and brings some background on the story being told. Art is by Adam Burke, because who else?

Doom:

evoken hypnogogia

EVOKEN: Legendary Death/Funeral Doom Legion To Release Hypnagogia Full-Length Via Profound Lore This November; Record Marks Band’s First Release In Six Years

Legendary death/funeral doom legion EVOKEN will unleash theirHypnagogia full-length November 9th via Profound Lore Records. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Sound Spa studios in New Jersey by Steven DeAcutis, the record comes swathed in the artwork of Adam Burke (Artificial Brain, Mos Generator, Hooded Menace) and marks the band’s first new output in six long years.

Known as one of the founding fathers of the American death/funeral doom metal scene, New Jersey’s EVOKEN have been a long-standing pillar over the band’s twenty-five-year pillage. The followup to their landmark Atra Mors full-length, Hypnagogia is a towering monolith that develops and redefines the band’s sound that will only strengthen their position within the death/doom metal hierarchy where EVOKEN have always reigned.

Hypnagogia is an expression of doom metal artistry where the listener will bear witness how EVOKEN can create a new and even more daring expression with a monument that will be recognized as a landmark. This tends to happen regardless with every EVOKEN release, but Hypnagogia sees the band expand their musical dynamics even more through the meticulous care and discrimination of the band’s song writing process, Hypnagogia being a listening experience through a multitude of varying yet flourishing emotions. Pushing both their penchant for grandiose melodicism and their trademark aura of pulverizing supreme unparalleled heaviness even more, it is the base of this repercussion that makes Hypnagogia one of the most intense, compelling, and soul crushing EVOKEN listening experiences yet; one of euphoria, desperation, and hopelessness. As drummer/lyricist Vince Verkay says, “As we do on every record. we definitely wanted to avoid repeating ourselves. We wanted to keep it EVOKEN of course, but go a little deeper with melody and arrangement and also try new things; to present the listener with an emotionally exhausting record.”

Hypnagogia also sees EVOKEN delve into their first concept album. Relays Verkay of the themes and lyrics surrounding the record, “Hypnagogia is based around World War I and its physiological impact on those who fought. It’s used metaphorically about events that impacted me the past three years, which I will keep to myself. But the story behind this World War I theme is based on a soldier who was so bitter about being lied to and is losing his life. He’s wounded in battle and decides to write a journal of his final hours, describing what he sees and what he feels as his life is slipping away. Feeling cheated, he makes a pact with a sadistic god that he can leave a part of his soul, which contains all of his suffering, within this journal. To feel some sort of vengeance, anyone who reads this journal releases that part of his soul and it attaches itself to the reader like a host. Each emotion being experienced as if they too where there. As the reader descends into a deep despair, they cannot handle this suffering, deciding to take their own life. Once gone, that part of their soul, containing all the misery is taken by the writer’s misery-laden soul and attaches itself to this journal again, increasing its powerful grip onto the next reader and each time its read with its power increasing.”

Further Hypnagogia info, including teaser tracks and preorders, will be unveiled in the weeks to come.

Hypnagogia Track Listing:
1. The Fear After
2. Valorous Consternation
3. Schadenfreude
4. Too Feign Ebullience
5. Hypnagogia
6. Ceremony Of Bleeding
7. Hypnopompic
8. The Weald Of Perished Men

EVOKEN on Hypnagogia:
John Paradiso – vocals/guitar
Chris Molinari – guitar
Dave Wagner – bass
Don Zaros – keyboards
Vince Verkay – drums

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http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com
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Evoken, Atra Mors (2012)

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Insect Ark Post “Tarnish” Video; Touring East and West Coasts

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

insect ark (Photo by Rennie Elliot)

I was fortunate enough to watch a couple minutes of Insect Ark at Roadburn earlier this year from way, way in the back of the Cul de Sac venue in the Netherlands, and I ran into band founder/multi-instrumentalist Dana Schechter later on or the next day or whenever it was and told her, “Your band is fucking awesome.” Usually one tries to be reserved. I nonetheless stand by the statement.

Earlier this year, Schechter, who handles lap steel, bass, synth, etc., and drummer/synth noisemaker Ashley Spungin released the second Insect Ark album, Marrow Hymns, through Profound Lore. It’s the first collaboration between the two players under the Insect Ark banner — the first full-length, 2015’s Portal/Well (review here), was Schechter alone — and through the Earthly drone ramble of “In the Nest” to the practically-noise-rock “Skin Walker,” which follows and into the insect ark marrow hymnsminimalist, post-metallic reaches of “Slow Ray,” which has a proclivity for holding tension worthy of comparison to Neurosis, it’s an evocative, inspirational outing that refuses genre convention in favor of its own strength of creative will. With the ambient introduction of “Thelema” setting a foreboding tone and “Arp 9” following with an immediate burst of bass/drum angularity of groove, there’s as much atmospheric as there is tonal heft, but with the layered-in lap steel, an airy high end seems to float through the places vocals might otherwise go.

Marrow Hymns can be crushing, but listening to Spungin‘s tom work in “Sea Harps” and how it opens to a mid-level payoff in the cymbals before she and Schechter lock in a march beneath swells of guitar, it’s not overdone, amp-worshiping claustrophobia. And though it’s clearly progressive in the sense of having thought behind it, it’s not overly cerebral and staid as some post-metal has a tendency to be. It’s titled correctly. Marrow Hymns. It goes right to the bone and sings from what’s inside there. Some of it is gorgeous, some of it isn’t, but whatever it is, it’s honest, and as the drumless “Tarnish” moves into the patient and consuming highlight “Windless” and the drone-fight synth-barrage that is closer “Daath,” Insect Ark only seem to be plunging even deeper into that visceral, often lonely reality. Marrow Hymns is powerful. A living thing.

And all the more exciting because although they’ve been working together since 2015 it’s the first studio expression of Insect Ark as a duo. I wouldn’t at all expect them to make the same record twice, but it seems entirely likely that Marrow Hymns, for its many accomplishments, will also serve as a stepping-off point to the next stage in Insect Ark‘s ongoing progression. An outfit like this simply doesn’t stay still.

To a less figurative end of that, Insect Ark will be on tour this month and into September, hitting the West Coast first followed by the East. Dates follow the “Tarnish” video below, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Insect Ark, “Tarnish” official video

New York/Portland instrumental duo, INSECT ARK, will bring their psalms to the live stage later this month on a North American tour en route to their performance at this year’s edition of Basilica Soundscape in Hudson, New York. The band will perform an all drone set August 11th in Salem, Oregon at Cemetary Soundscapes Fest before kicking of the first official leg of the tour with Belus August 15th in Olympia, Washington. The trek will run through August 19th in Los Angeles, California. The second leg of the trek begins August 29h in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and will find the band paired with Pandiscordian Necrogenesis through September 6th in Brooklyn, New York. See all confirmed dates below.

INSECT ARK released their Marrow Hymns full-length early this year via Profound Lore. An alluring fusion of horror-film soundtracks, psychedelic doom, and atmospheric noise, INSECT ARK’s intensely visual music weaves interludes of fragile beauty with crushing passages of swirling doom, spinning like a backwards fever dream.

INSECT ARK:
8/11/2018 Cemetary Soundscapes Fest @ The Burial Grounds – Salem, OR (drone set)
w/ Belus:
8/15/2018 Cryptatropa – Olympia, WA w/ Eye of Nix, Vouna
8/16/2018 Highline – Seattle, WA w/ Eye of Nix, Forest of Grey
8/17/2018 High Water Mark – Portland, OR w/ Jason W. Walton, Dark Numbers
8/18/2018 Golden Bull – Oakland, CA w/ Ails, Apprentice Destroyer
8/19/2018 The Resident – Los Angeles, CA w/ Graf Orlock, Toke
w/ Pandiscordian Necrogenesis:
8/29/2018 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA w/ Dopethrone, Crud, Hellrad
8/30/2018 Atlas Brew Works – Wash DC w/ Crowhurst, The Holy Circle
8/31/2018 Full Pint Wild Side – Pittsburgh, PA
9/01/2018 Intersection Fest 2018 – Toronto, CA (free/all ages)
9/03/2018 Casa Del Popolo – Montreal, CA w/ Echo Beach
9/04/2018 Paulys Hotel – Albany, NY w/ Foisy-Hardiman
9/05/2018 Obrien – Boston, MA w/ Sea, Greylock
9/06/2018 Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY w/ Queen Elephantine
9/14-16/2018 Basilica Soundscape Festival 2018 – Hudson, NY *INSECT ARK only

Residing on opposite coasts, the two halves of the INSECT ARK whole – comprised of Dana Schechter (bass, lap steel guitar, synthesizers) and Ashley Spungin (drums, synthesisers) – converged to record the album with engineer Ethan Donaldson at Mozart St Studios in Brooklyn, New York over the course of eighteen months.

Insect Ark, Marrow Hymns (2018)

Insect Ark website

Insect Ark on Thee Facebooks

Insect Ark on Bandcamp

Profound Lore Records website

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Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

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Pallbearer Announce Tour Dates with Tribulation; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

pallbearer

Is it really even necessarily at this point to mention that Pallbearer are among the most important American doom acts of their generation? Isn’t it kind of a given? I don’t know. Whatever. If you don’t know that, it’s probably because your taste dictates otherwise. That is, if you’re reading this, it’s not like you haven’t heard of them. Especially after last year’s Warning-gone-prog LP Heartless (review here), they’re about as close to household names as doom gets without being Black Sabbath.

It’s not a mistake either. They didn’t just happen into success. They’ve broken their collective ass on the road for the last half-decade-plus, and the thread continues this weekend as they begin yet another European tour. Copious festival dates will round out on Aug. 16 in Germany at Summer Breeze — is it the same Summer Breeze you got all those 1996 bootlegs from? I don’t know, go to Radio Shack and spend $100 on like five CD-Rs and I’ll take two hours trying to burn you copies on my 1x CD-RW drive and we’ll find out. After that, they’ll take it to the streets in the western half of the US and also north up into Canada, this time in the company of Tribulation. Much to do.

And as if that didn’t count as busy enough, they’ve got a new video for “Thorns” at the bottom of this post, and keep an eye out. In the band’s quote below, they talk about “revisiting and adding new dimension” to stuff from their whole discography. True enough they’ve undertaken significant growth in their sound, but to me, that sounds like the kind of thing they might want to represent on a live album somewhere down the line. That’s speculation, of course, but you never know.

Unless they say something. Then you know. But they haven’t said anything. So there.

PR wire, take me away:

pallbearer tribulation tour

PALLBEARER ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICAN TOUR, PREMIERE MUSIC VIDEO FOR ‘THORNS’

See them on the road with Tribulation in September & October

Ascending Arkansas progressive doom quartet Pallbearer will head to European + UK shores next week for a run of shows and festival appearances and today, the band has announced a North American tour with Sweden’s finest metal exports Tribulation this Fall. In anticipation of their forthcoming tour dates, Pallbearer has unleashed a live music video for the track “Thorns”, taken from their recent release, Heartless. The live video was shot during part of the band’s U.S. tour back in February; watch the video for “Thorns” here: https://youtu.be/ooKeykeDsHQ

In regard to the upcoming tours, Pallbearer commented: “After a long period of constant touring behind Heartless, it’s almost time for us to settle in to the cold season and begin crafting our next musical endeavor. But before that, we are heading out once more across North America to bring this chapter to its conclusion. We look forward to stretching out our sets each night on this double bill with Tribulation, revisiting and adding new dimension to material across our entire catalogue.” See all Pallbearer tour dates below.

PALLBEARER, ON TOUR:
July 13 DE Hamburg – Molotow Club
July 14 BE Dour – Dour Festival
July 15 NL Nijmegen – Valkhof Festival
July 16 UK London – Islington Assembly Hall
July 17 UK Glasgow – Stereo
July 18 UK Leeds – Brudenell Social Club
July 19 UK Bristol – The Fleece
July 21 DE Crispendorf – Chaos Descends Festival
July 23 IT Milan – Circolo Magnolia
July 24 SL Tolmin – Metaldays festival
August 3 DK Copenhagen – Vega
August 4 DE Beelen – Krach am Bach Festival
August 5 DE Cottbus – Zum Faulen August
August 7 HR Primosten – SuperUho Festival
August 8 HU Budapest – A38
August 9 CZ Josefov – Brutal Assault Festival
August 10 DE Bad Kotzting – Void Fest
August 12 UK Derbyshire – Bloodstock Festival
August 14 DE Wiesbaden – Schlachthof
August 15 CH Winterthur – Gaswerk
August 16 DE Dinkelsbuhl – Summer Breeze Festival

September 15 – Toronto ON – Lee’s Palace *
September 16 – Detroit MI – Magic Stick *
September 18 – Chicago IL – Bottom Lounge *
September 19 – Minneapolis MN – Turf Club *
September 21 – Denver CO – Bluebird *
September 22 – Salt Lake City UT – Metro *
September 24 – Calgary AB – Dickens *
September 25 – Edmonton AB – Starlite *
September 27 – Vancouver BC – Rickshaw *
September 28 – Seattle WA – El Corazon *
September 29 – Portland OR – Hawthorne *
October 1 – San Francisco CA – Slim’s *
October 3 – Phoenix AZ – Rebel Lounge *
October 5 – Austin TX – Barracuda *
October 6 – Dallas TX – Trees *
October 7 – Houston TX – White Oak *
* w/ Tribulation

Buy tickets: http://pallbearerdoom.com/tour

Pallbearer are:
Brett Campbell | lead vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, synthesizers
Devin Holt | electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
Joseph D. Rowland | electric bass, vocals, synthesizers
Mark Lierly | percussion

https://www.facebook.com/pallbearerdoom
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https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/

Pallbearer, “Thorns” official video

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