Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Last heard from the 2016 two-songer Werwolf (review here), which for my money was one of the best short releases of the year, dark German metallers Valborg are set to return in April with a new full-length titled Endstrand that will see release on Prophecy Productions/Lupus Lounge. Their prior outing, Romantik, was something of a gem that I caught onto well after the fact, but with Endstrand will mark their sixth record and each one seems to be a different atmosphere from the last, so I’ll look forward to finding out what’s in store this time around. I always feel guilty for not being immediately on top of good albums, hearing something months after the fact and kicking myself for not having reviewed it at the time. Not gonna miss this one, is the bottom line.
The PR wire brings art and details:
VALBORG to Release New Album, ‘Endstrand’, April 7
German Trio Dishes Cerebral, Punishing Metal via Dark New LP
German ensemble of dread VALBORG has signed with underground indie Lupus Lounge / Prophecy Productions. The self-described “German metal monster” will release its new full-length LP, Endstrand, on April 7.
Championed by Celtic Frost / Triptykon architect Tom G. Warrior as “abundantly original and unique “ and “a mixture of Bohren und der Club of Gore, early Black Sabbath and Hellhammer”, VALBORG creates dense, inventive music that escapes categorization. The trio’s blunt, forceful songs are at once raw and primitive yet hold a nihilistic sophistication that forges clouds of nightmarish atmosphere, giving them a narcotic, dreamlike feel that very few bands achieve.
Produced by Markus Siegenhort (Lantlôs), Endstrand is a 13 song end-time vision hosting apparitions of empty beaches, bunkers in the dunes, novel biological phenomenon, washed up artifacts, noise distorted signals and omnipresent whirring, all of which float above the backdrop of VALBORG’s utterly barbaric death crunch. Forging “brutal and wasted, yet powerful” music, VALBORG unleashes sound as scorched-earth policy on Endstrand, delivering an immersive mysteriousness and darkness that has earned the group the right to be called one of Europe’s most exciting extreme metal bands.
“Working with Prophecy now feels natural and good to us,” comments VALBORG bassist Jan Buckard. “We’re looking forward to a pleasant time together.”
1.) Jagen 2.) Blut am Eisen 3.) Orbitalwaffe 4.) Beerdigungsmaschine 5.) Stossfront 6.) Bunkerluft 7.) Geisterwürde 8.) Alter 9.) Plasmabrand 10.) Ave Maria 11.) Atompetze 12.) Strahlung 13.) Exodus
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Themes of looming threat, wistful emotional longing and self-reflection might not be new ground for French outfit Les Discrets, but if you figured you knew what to expect from Fursy Teyssier and company, the 2016 Virée Nocturne EP (review here) should probably have cured you of that. On April 21, Les Discrets will offer Prédateurs, a follow-up full-length to that short release that features the EP’s title-track among newer cuts, and as Teyssier promises a darker vision, one can only take him at his word. Interesting that he notes twice in the info below about traveling via train, since that seems to be what closer “Lyon – Paris 7h34” directly references — a scheduled departure time.
Will look forward to hearing how this one turns out, but then, I always do when it comes to Les Discrets. If it’s the way you like to roll, preorders are up now from Prophecy Productions, as the PR wire informs:
Les Discrets to Release New Album, ‘Prédateurs’, April 21
Post-Everything Duo Takes Cinematic Sound to “Much Darker” Places on Upcoming LP
Lyon, France dark dreamweavers LES DISCRETS return with Prédateurs, their first full-length album in five years. Ever-evolving, the sound of LES DISCRETS in 2017 takes a stylistic shift which sees the band’s dreamy shoegaze and metallic tinged post-rock colored with a heavy post-punk influence and electronic chill while incorporating inspiration from trip-hop and 70’s film soundtracks. Prédateurs will be released on April 21 via Prophecy Productions (Alcest, DOOL).
Known through his work as part of the bands Alcest and Amesoeurs, French songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and film director Fursy Teyssier founded LES DESCRETS in 2003. On the topic of the new album, Fursy comments, “Prédateurs is an album that was five years in the making and will take time to get into. This is a record for late evenings, night driving, journeys on a train, or for those moments we usually think about the meaning of life and things, when we have nothing else to do but sitting and waiting.”
Described as “the soundtrack of a slow film noir happening in a train where the journey leads the auditor to several places seen from the windows”, Prédateurs is a cinematographic, urban album shaped by steel, concrete, snow and electricity. Easy on the ears, Prédateurs interprets the familiar music and melodies of LES DESCRETS with new instruments, approach and ambition. Although its shape has changed, the feeling of the music, its atmosphere and its essential core has remained the same. The songs focus on the concept of predation (the preying of one animal on others) as well as time, nature and life. Prédateurs is the album that – in founder Teyssier’s eyes – now shapes the proper identity of LES DESCRETS.
Prédateurs is not only a new start in terms of music for the band, but also presents a change on the visual level. For the first time, Teyssier – himself a celebrated visual artist and animated film director – has collaborated with an outside graphic designer on the visual appearance of a LES DESCRETS release. The British artist Chris Friel, who combines painting with photography in a unique way, has become a huge inspiration for Fursy. Friel’s work has even subconsciously leaked into the roadmap of the band’s music.
Prédateurs is advanced by the 4-track EP, Virée Nocturne, which was first made available to attendees of last summer’s Prophecy Fest.
“I feel that Les Discrets has its own wings now, free of the influences of post-rock, post-black or post-anything constraints,” he offers. “‘Prédateurs’ is even darker than the older albums. Much, much darker. But just like older albums, some sparks of hope remain.”
Track listing: 1.) Prédateurs 2.) Virée Nocturne 3.) Les Amis de Minuit 4.) Vanishing Beauties 5.) Fleur des Murailles 6.) Le Reproche 7.) Les Jours d’Or 8.) Rue Octavio Mey 9.) The Scent Of Spring (Moonraker) 10.) Lyon – Paris 7h34
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Oh yes. Most definitely. I remain a sucker or Prophecy Productions and their proliferation of dark, otherworldly folk, this time arriving via Hungarian two-piece The Moon and the Nightspirit‘s fifth album, Metanoia, which will be released March 17. I’ll be honest with you, I got the promo download of the record two days ago and I saved it to listen to because I knew we’d be getting a snowstorm yesterday here on the East Coast and after sampling “Az Elsö Tündér Megidézése” — which you can hear below — I wanted the blizzard conditions to be my first experience with it.
Absolutely zero regrets on that one, though I doubt that track or any of the others surrounding it on Metanoia would be any less at home on a summer’s night, marked as they are by ritualized percussive thud and an ethereal presence. Did I mention “most definitely?” Good.
The PR wire takes it from here:
The Moon and the Nightspirit to Release New Album, ‘Metanoia’, March 17
Hungarian Pagan-Folk Champions Ready Release of Fairytalesque Fifth Album
THE MOON AND THE NIGHTSPIRIT is a Hungarian duo that creates enchanting and melancholic folk music enhanced by a bewitching pagan aura where threads of ancient mysticism combine with phantasmagoric atmospheres. The group will release its new LP, Metanoia, on March 17 via Prophecy Productions (Alcest, Darkher).
In advance of the record’s release, THE MOON AND THE NIGHTSPIRIT has released the new song, “Az Elsö Tündér Megidézése”.
Formed in 2003 by multi-instrumentalists Ágnes Tóth and Mihály Szabó, THE MOON AND THE NIGHTSPIRIT has released a string of magnetic albums, celebrated as imagination-opening tapestries of sound. The group’s new LP, Metanoia, builds on its alluring, whimsical explorations, delivering enveloping songs that are as gentle as they are powerful. Creating otherworldly music built on the backs of multitudes of traditional cultural instruments — such as the jaw harp — and the beautiful, ethereal vocals of Tóth –THE MOON AND THE NIGHTSPIRIT delivers its most impressive music to date and cements its place as frontrunners of the international folk music landscape. As with previous TMATNS albums, the lush, delicate artwork created by Tóth provides the perfect visual accompaniment to the duo’s sprite fairyworld.
Meaning “a return to the pristine and pure path of crystalline existence”, Metanoia is an initiation, a rebirth, an awakening of the higher self, and the rekindling of an inner flame.
Track listing: 1.) A Hajnal Köszöntése 2.) Az Elsö Tündér Megidézése 3.) Mystérion Mega 4.) Kilenc Hid 5.) A Fény Diadala 6.) Metanoia 7.) Kristálymezök 8.) Hen Panta Einai (Minden Egy)
Posted in Reviews on February 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
It is an album of bold choices. From its beginning moments, the Prophecy Productions-delivered debut from Rotterdam, Netherlands-based five-piece Dool (also stylized all-caps: DOOL), Here Now There Then strikes deftly and crisply in style and substance, and when there’s a decision to be made, Dool make their intentions clear in the quality of their songcraft, which is a cause every performance on every one of its eight component tracks serves. While a fresh take on some of the tropes of cult-gone-goth heavy rock — the blend of acoustic and electric guitars on cuts like “Golden Serpents” and “Words on Paper,” the unbashedly pop-metal sway of the penultimate “The Death of Love,” etc. — it is also an album obviously working from the benefit of band members’ prior experience.
Dool may be relatively a new group, but in their ranks they boast the veteran personnel of vocalist/guitarist Ryanne van Dorst (Elle Bandita, numerous other projects), guitarists Reinier Vermeulen (The New Media) and Nick Polak (Gold), and the rhythm section of bassist Job van de Zande and drummer Micha Haring, both formerly of The Devil’s Blood, whose landmark contributions to the Dutch underground and aesthetic vision makes for something of a sonic elephant in the room over the 50-minute span of Here Now There Then. That group is recognizable periodically in some moments of push — again, “Golden Serpents” — but the deeper one moves into Dool‘s first outing, over the 10-minute opener “Vantablack” and into mid-album pieces like “In Her Darkest Hour,” “Oweynagat” and “The Alpha,” the more one finds Dool establishing their own resonant and well-conceived stylistic persona from a wider range of influences, from classic goth rock to moodier progressive heavy metal.
But back to bold choices. The first of them is telegraphed in the opener. “Vantablack” is the longest inclusion on Here Now There Then — immediate points to the band for putting it in launch position, double points for doing so on their first offering — and where a lot of what follows on what might be considered side A in the first half of the tracklisting plays off poppier ideas, more forward hooks, and so on, it begins at a sprawl, unfolding with patient layers of guitar as thudding drums underscore a harmonized verse to punctuate the nodding rhythm that will further take hold as the chorus emerges. Rather than simply set the tone as so many album-openers do — “this is our sound, this is what we do,” etc. — “Vantablack” not only does this, but disrupts the process at the same time, engaging an immersive richness of atmosphere that defies what might’ve been the expectation had Dool opened with either of the subsequent “Golden Serpents” or “Words on Paper,” two shorter and purposefully more straightforwardly structured tracks. They made the bolder choice, and they were right.
Part of the reason starting off with “Vantablack” works to well is because, yes, it does have a chorus to ground the listener (into dust), but also because Dool demonstrate such immediate command of their purpose and their sound. From the languid flow of Polak and Vermeulen‘s guitars to the roll in Haring‘s drums, the density of van de Zande‘s low end beneath the solo section in the back half and the charismatic presence and melodic range of van Dorst as frontwoman, there’s never really a moment of doubt they’re going to pull it off. And as far as initial impressions go, one could hardly demand more than that from any band, first LP, second, third or whatever. Not only that, but the considerable turn that follows into “Golden Serpents,” “Words on Paper” and “In Her Darkest Hour” — the latter of which begins the aforementioned middle movement with “Oweynagat” and “The Alpha” behind it — isn’t even questioned because Dool have the situation so firmly under control.
“Words on Paper” is arguably the catchiest song on Here Now There Then, though right up to closer “She-Goat” there is no shortage of memorability surrounding, but as “Vantablack” assured at the outset and “In Her Darkest Hour” reaffirms, Dool aren’t simply looking to proffer a series of choruses and get out. The brooding push, linear build of chug and surge that arises signal another shift in approach, and as much of the song’s second half is given to a guitar solo, a charged bridge, another run through the chorus for good measure, and atmospheric bookending the toy-piano-esque intro that led off the track, there’s an exploration beginning that continues in the pointedly goth “Oweynagat,” which at 6:53 is the second longest piece behind “Vantablack” and given initial thrust via Haring‘s hi-hat.
After mounting significant tension, “Oweynagat” eases the throttle as it moves toward its middle, but builds toward a standout apex of well-plotted, swirling lead guitar — layered-in acoustics do well to flesh out the ambience — and horns/keys/effects/theremin or some other noisemaking device that lends further complexity to the rhythmic march. They end “Oweynagat” in grand fashion and drums start “The Alpha” with an echo that sends an immediate feeling of spaciousness soon to be filled by bass and guitar in a progression that feels distinctly drawn from prog metal. I hate — hate — to make this comparison, especially given the one-letter-off similarity of the bands’ monikers, but the likeness to Tool‘s “Forty-Six & 2” is unmistakable in that central progression, though again to their credit, Dool transpose that riff to suit the song’s needs, transitioning into a triumph of a chorus that likewise nods at The Devil’s Blood‘s churning depths. Another bold choice, another dark victory, and not by any means their last.
Its melody is at first the key factor in “The Death of Love,” but the underlying guitar figure at the outset holds to some of the proggy tension of “The Alpha” before it, even if van de Zande‘s bassline is more prominent. The effect this has is to tie the two prior three-song chunks of Here Now There Then together, to begin a process of summary that will continue on “She-Goat,” and to start to wind the album down much as “Vantablack” wound it up. That said, the open-spaced payoff in “The Death of Love”‘s second half is among the more emotionally effective and affecting moments on the record, and though it’s shorter than the three cuts before it, there’s no lack of impression made leading into “She-Goat,” a just-under-five-minute push that echoes the more straight-ahead feel of “Golden Serpents” without being a direct port of it. As an ending statement, it puts Dool and their listeners back to some semblance of reality without necessarily giving up the breadth of what came before. Completing a conceptual cycle, perhaps.
In any case, it is another means by which Here Now There Then works against the notion of being a debut full-length, as its complexity and character feel so thoroughly developed and the chemistry of the band so locked into place. One can only take this as a sign of potential and hope that Dool expand and refine the achievements here as they move forward, becoming all the more individual in that process, because going by these songs, they are well on their way to something truly powerful.
Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.
Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’
Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.
Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.
Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.
— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —
1. Abrahma, TBA
Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.
2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War
If 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.
3. Alunah, Solennial
Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.
4. Arbouretum, TBA
I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.
5. Atavismo, Inerte
This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.
6. Bison Machine, TBA
In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.
7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA
News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.
8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust
Okay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.
9. Colour Haze, TBA
I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.
10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA
Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?
11. Elder, TBA
I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.
12. Electric Wizard, TBA
Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.
13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
Out Jan. 28 on Napalm, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo Burn, Hermano, Vista Chino, Zun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.
14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads
Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.
15. Ides of Gemini, TBA
Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.
16. Kind, TBA
Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.
17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions
Yes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.
18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA
It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.
19. Monster Magnet, TBA
I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.
20. Mothership, High Strangeness
A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.
21. The Obsessed, Sacred
On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of Weinrich, Costantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.
22. Orange Goblin, TBA
When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.
23. Pallbearer, Heartless
Doomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.
24. Radio Moscow, TBA
Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.
25. Roadsaw, TBA
Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in Kind, White Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.
26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.
27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA
It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for Desertfest, Riff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.
28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA
Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, Tranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.
29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun
Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.
30. Sleep, TBA
If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.
31. Stoned Jesus, TBA
Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.
32. Stubb, TBA
Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.
33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us
It Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.
34. Ufomammut, TBA
Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.
35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn
Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.
Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates
Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.
Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:
36. Against the Grain
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
42. Beaten Back to Pure
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
73. Green Desert Water
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
87. Merlin, The Wizard
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
110. Spidergawd, IV
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle
Definitely Could Happen
Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.
So, you know, life.
123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
140. Devil Worshipper
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
164. Mondo Drag
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
169. Never Got Caught
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
191. Zone Six
Would be Awfully Nice
This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:
192. Across Tundras
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
204. Masters of Reality
207. Queens of the Stone Age
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.
As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Currently embroiled in a US run that kicked off last week in Boston, Parisian post-black metallers Alcest have announced they’ll head to Australia and New Zealand in April — spring here, fall there — as they continue to herald the return to a more aggressive style presented on their 2016 full-length, Kodama. Seems kind of strange to think of Alcest going back to their core sound as kind of a departure, but after the drifting ambient rock of 2014’s Shelter (review here), that’s kind of how it worked out. Cheers to them for being unpredictable even as they bask in the lush melodic melancholia that’s become their signature. Not every band could pull that one off.
Shows are presented by Life is Noise, and you can find the dates below, along with the remaining gigs on the North American stint happening now:
LIFE IS NOISE PRESENTS: ALCEST (FRA) AUSTRALIA / NEW ZEALAND TOUR APRIL 2017
LIFE IS NOISE is ecstatic to announce the return of Alcest to Australian soil this April, with the band also venturing to New Zealand for the first time.
The French post-black metal masterminds will be reaching into the hearts and heads of audiences in Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Alcest have always been a strangely entrancing beast. Originally serving as a solo project for Neige (Stephane Paut), the outfit evolved into a creative connection between the frontman and drummer Winterhalter (of legendary Peste Noire fame) over more than 16 years.
Transcending their early black metal ties through five very different releases, their latest effort—Kodama—sees the band meticulously reframe their origins through a kaleidoscope of rich, warm and soaring sounds that connect with the very soul of the listener.
Influenced by the gorgeous Hayao Miyasaki film, Princess Mononoke, Kodama – meaning ‘tree spirit’ or ‘echo’ in Japanese – delves into the concept of living between two worlds; of not belonging and striving to establish a sense of being through contrasting planes of existence.
Exploring the juxtaposition of nature and humanity and the perpetual struggle faced trying to achieve cohesion in a modern world, the album taps into the divide to serve as a reminder that the spiritual is often neglected in a time that embraces the physical.
Alcest live is a truly humbling experience. Their emotive power works its way through every inch of your psyche, as they effortlessly transition from darker, harsher tones to climbing, ethereal highs. This is a sonic adventure that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.
Catch Alcest on the following dates: Wellington – San Fran – April 23 Auckland – Kings Arms – April 24 Brisbane – Crowbar – April 25 Sydney – Newtown Social – April 27 Melbourne – Max Watt’s – April 28 Perth –Badlands – April 29
Alcest US tour: 01/23/2017 Cleveland OH Grog Shop 01/24/2017 Grand Rapids MI Pyramid Scheme 01/25/2017 Chicago IL Reggies Rock Club 01/26/2017 St Paul MN Turf Club 01/28/2017 St Louis MO Ready Room 01/29/2017 Kansas City MO Riot Room 01/30/2017 Denver CO Marquis Theater 01/31/2017 Salt Lake City UT Metro Music Hall 02/02/2017 Seattle WA Highline 02/03/2017 Portland OR Dantes 02/04/2017 Vancouver BC Rickshaw Theater 02/06/2017 Oakland CA Oakland Opera House 02/07/2017 Los Angeles CA Roxy Theater 02/08/2017 San Diego CA Brick By Brick 02/09/2017 Mesa AZ Club Red 02/10/2017 Albuquerque NM Sister Bar 02/11/2017 Dallas TX Curtain Club 02/12/2017 Austin TX Grizzly Hall 02/14/2017 Nashville TN The End 02/15/2017 Atlanta GA Aisle 5 02/16/2017 Richmond VA Strange Matter 02/17/2017 Baltimore MD Metro Gallery 02/18/2017 Philadelphia PA Foundry 02/19/2017 New York NY Irving Plaza
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
I felt pretty gosh darn fortunate to have caught an early afternoon set from Rotterdam dark heavy rockers Dool this past April at Roadburn (review here), and have considered them ever since the best surprise I encountered at that fest this year. As one will after that kind of first impression is made, I’ve been trying to keep an eye out for new of their releasing a debut album, and wouldn’t you know, the date is set. On Feb. 17, 2017, Dool will issue Here Now, There Then through no less an imprint than Prophecy Productions, whose tastes for things bleakly atmospheric and/or mooody is largely unimpeachable. There’s even a new song streaming now called “She Goat,” if you’d like to have your day made.
Full announcement from the band follows here, complete with artwork and tour dates, because that’s how it should be.
Looking forward to this one:
DOOL – HERE NOW, THERE THEN
We are extremely proud to announce the coming of our debut album’ Here Now, There Then’ on February 17th, 2017.
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Pieter Kloos (The Void Studio, Eindhoven), and featuring beautiful cover photography by our friend Pim Top, ‘Here Now, There Then’ will be released on Prophecy Productions on both vinyl and CD.
The album is about dreaming, ambition, Will. About breaking boundaries and behavioural patterns, destroying stigmas. The phrase ‘Here Now, There Then’ is a mantra for whomever needs it. Whichever way one chooses to use it. It is the shadowlands between fantasy and reality. A lucid fairy tale set against a concrete background.
As of today, ‘Here Now, There Then’ is available for pre-order through the Prophecy website:
The arrival of ‘Here Now, There Then’ will be accompanied by a growing number of shows, which will go on pre-sale as of now:
JAN 06 – De Cacaofabriek – Helmond – NL JAN 12 – Eurosonic Noorderslag 2017 – Groningen – NL FEB 17 – EKKO – Utrecht – NL FEB 18 – Merleyn – Nijmegen – NL FEB 25 – Rotown Rotterdam – Rotterdam – NL MAR 2 – Vera Groningen – Groningen – NL MAR 3 – Helvete Pub – Club – Live Stage – Oberhausen – DE MAR 4 – HELL OVER Hammaburg Festival – Hamburg – DE MAR 8 – ILMC – London – UK MAR 9 – OT301 – Amsterdam – NL MAR 17 – Poppodium 013 – Tilburg – NL
On top of this, we’d like to present one of the album tracks to you. Listen to ‘She Goat’ right here.
All Those Who Wander Are DOOL.
DOOL is: Ryanne van Dorst – Vocals/Guitar Micha Haring – Drums Job van de Zande – Bass Reinier Vermeulen – Guitar Nick Polak – Guitar
Posted in Reviews on October 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Last day. As ever, I am mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted by this process, but as ever, it’s been worth it. Today I do myself a couple favors in packing out with more familiar acts, but whatever, it’s all stuff I should be covering anyway, so if the order bothers you, go write your own 50 reviews in a week and we can talk about it. Yeah, that’s right. That’s what I said. Today we start with Swans. Everything’s a confrontation.
Once again, I hope you’ve found something somewhere along this bizarre, careening path of music that has resonated with you, something that will stick with you. That’s why we’re here. You and me. If you have, I’d love to know about it. Until then, one more time here we go.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
Swans, The Glowing Man
Oh fucking please. You want me to try to summarize The Glowing Man – the culmination and finale of an era of Swans that Michael Gira began now more than half a decade ago – in a single review? Even putting aside the fact that the record two hours long, the notion is ridiculous. If there ever was a chart, the scope here is well off it. The material unfolds and churns and is primal and lush at once on “Cloud of Forgetting,” genuinely chaotic on the 28-minute title-track, and it ends with a drone lullaby, but seriously, what the fuck? Some shit is just beyond, and if you don’t know that applies to Swans by now, it’s your own fault. You want a review? Fine. I listened to the whole thing. It ate my fucking soul, chewed it with all-canine teeth and then spit it out saying “thanks for the clarity” and left me dazed, bloodied and humbled. There’s your fucking review. Thanks for reading.
Oslo trio Virus have long since established that they’re a band working on their own wavelength. Memento Collider (on Karisma Records) is the jazzy post-black metallers’ first album in five years and brings together adventurous rhythms, poetic declarations, dissonant basslines and – in the case of “Rogue Fossil,” the occasional hook – in ways that are unique unto Virus. Look at this site and see how often I use the word “unique.” It doesn’t happen. Virus, however, are one of a kind. Memento Collider makes for a challenging listen front to back on its six-track/45-minute run, but it refuses to dumb itself down or dull its progressive edge, bookending its longest (that’s opener “Afield” at 10:41; immediate points) two tracks around jagged explorations of sound like “Steamer” and “Gravity Seeker,” which engage and intrigue in kind after the melodic push of “Dripping into Orbit” and leading into “Phantom Oil Slick,” a righteous affirmation of the angular thrust at the core of Virus’ approach.
In 2010, Moscow troupe The Re-Stoned issued their first EP, Return to the Reptiles, and being obviously concerned with evolution, they’ve now gone back and revisited that debut release with Reptiles Return, a reworking of the four studio tracks that made up the initial version – “Return,” “Run,” “The Mountain Giant” and “Sleeping World.” The opener is a straight re-recording, as is one other, where another is remixed and the other two remastered, and Reptiles Return – which is presented on limited vinyl through Clostridium Records and a CD box set with bonus tracks via Rushus Records – pairs them with more psychedelic-minded soundscape pieces like “Winter Witchcraft,” “Walnut Talks,” the proggy “Flying Clouds” and sweetly acoustic “Roots Patter,” that showcase where founding multi-instrumentalist Ilya Lipkin is taking the band going forward. The result is a satisfying side A/B split on the vinyl that delights in heavy riffing for its own sake in the first half and expands the scope in the second, which should delight newcomers as well as those who’ve followed The Re-Stoned along this evolutionary process.
It may well be the fate of San Francisco’s hard-touring, ass-kicking, genre-refusing duo Castle to be terminally underappreciated, but that has yet to stop them from proliferating their righteous blend of thrash, doom and classic, fistpump-worthy metal. Their latest outing, Welcome to the Graveyard, arrives via respected purveyor Ván Records, and entices in atmosphere and execution, cohesively built tracks like “Hammer and the Cross” and the penultimate “Down in the Cauldron Bog” finding a balance of personality and delivery that the band has long since honed on stage. The Dio-esque barnburner riff of “Flash of the Pentagram” makes that cut a highlight, but as they roll out the cultish vibes of “Natural Parallel” to close, there doesn’t seem to be much on the spectrum of heavy metal that doesn’t fit into Castle’s wheelhouse. For some bands, there’s just no justice. Four records deep, Castle have yet to get their due, and Welcome to the Graveyard is further proof of why they deserve it.
One can hear a new wave of modern doom taking shape in Chained to Oblivion, the Prosthetic Records debut from Arizona one-man outfit Spirit Adrift. The work of Nate Garrett alone in the studio, the full-length offers five mostly-extended tracks as a 48-minute 2LP of soaring, emotional and psychedelic doom à la Pallbearer, but given even further breadth through progressively atmospheric passages and a marked flow in its transitions. To call it personal seems superfluous – it’s a one-man band, of course it’s personal – but Garrett (also formerly of metallers Take Over and Destroy) brings a palpable sense of performance to the songwriting, and by the time he gets to the 11-minutes-apiece finale duo of the title-track and “Hum of Our Existence,” it’s easy to forget you’re not actually listening to a full band, not the least because of the vocal harmonies. Calling Chained to Oblivion a promising first outing would be underselling it – this is a project with serious potential.
Unpredictable from the start of opener “Flesh ‘n’ Steel,” Once upon the Wings is a first-time multinational collaborative effort from Robbi Robb of California’s 3rd Ear Experience and Paul Pott of Germany’s The Space Invaders. Its five tracks/42 minutes arrive through no less than Nasoni Records, and provide a curious and exploratory blend of the organic and the inorganic in sound, as one finds the 11-minute “Grass” no less defined by its percussion solo, guitar line and ‘60s-style vocal than the electronic drums that underscore the layered wash of noise in its midsection. Further definition hits with the 16-minute centerpiece “Prophecy #1,” which works in a space-rocking vein, but the shorter closing duo of the catchy “Looney Toon” and darkly progressive “Space Ear” show a creative bent that clearly refuses to be tamed. Robb & Pott, as a project, demonstrates remarkable potential throughout this debut, as they seem to have set no limits for where they want their sound to go and they seem to have the command to take it there.
Most of the tracks on Brooklyn progressive noise rockers Family’s second album and Prosthetic Records debut, Future History, come paired with interludes. That cuts some of the growling intensity of winding pieces like “Funtime for Bigboy” and “Floodgates,” and emphasizes the generally experimental spirit of the record as a whole, broadening the scope in sound and theme. I’m somewhat torn as to how much this actually works to the 51:50 outing’s benefit, as shorter pieces like “Prison Hymn” and “Transmission,” while adding dynamic to the sound and narrative drama, also cut the immediacy in impact of “The Trial” or closer “Bone on Bone,” but it’s entirely possible that without them Future History would be an overwhelming tumult of raw prog metal. And while the play back and forth can feel cumbersome when one considers how effectively “Night Vision” bridges the gap between sides, I’m not sure that’s not what Family were going for in the first place. It’s not supposed to be an easy record, and it isn’t one.
France’s Les Discrets haven’t had a studio offering since 2012’s Ariettes Oubliées (review here), and while they released Live at Roadburn (review here) last year documenting their 2013 set at that festival, there’s little there that might presage the stylistic turn the Fursy Teyssier-led outfit takes on their new EP, Virée Nocturne (on Prophecy Productions). With four tracks – two new, complete recordings, one demo and the last a remix of the opener by Dälek and Deadverse – Les Discrets attempt to find a stylistic middle ground between post-rock and trip-hop, and for the most part, they get there. “Virée Nocturne” itself leads off and can be jarring on first listen, but successfully blends the lush melodicism for which the band is known with electronic-driven beats, and both “Capricorni. Virginis. Corvi” and even the demo “Le Reproche” continue to build on this bold shift. The finale remix adds over two minutes to “Virée Nocturne,” but uses that time to make it even more spacious and all the more immersive. For anyone who thought they might’ve had Les Discrets figured out, the surprise factor here should be palpable.
Presented across four tracks beginning with the 12-minute and longest-of-the-bunch (immediate points) “The Corpse of Dr. Funkenstein” (double points for the reference), II, the aptly-titled second album from Liquido di Morte expands the progressive atmospherics of the Italian four-piece’s 2014 self-titled debut (review here) without losing sight of the performance and spirit of exploration that helped bring it to life. Isaak’s Giacomo H. Boeddu guests on brooding vocals and whispers for “The Saddest of Songs I’ll Sing for You,” which swells in seething intensity as it moves forward, while “Rodents on the Uphill” casts a vision of post-space rock and closer “Schwartz Pit” rounds out with crash and wash that seems only to draw out how different the two halves of II actually are. Not a complaint. Liquido di Morte make their way across this vast span with marked fluidity, and if they prove anything throughout, it’s that they’re able to keep their command wherever they feel like using it to go.
Canberra, Australia, trio Witchskull initially released their debut full-length, The Vast Electric Dark, last year, and caught the attention of the cross-coastal US partnership between Ripple Music and STB Records, who now align for a reissue of the eight-tracker. Why is quickly apparent. In addition to having earned a fervent response, The Vast Electric Dark basks in quality songcraft and doomly, heavy vibes, keeping a consistent pace while rolling through the semi-metallic push of “Raise the Dead” or the later rumble/shred of “Cassandra’s Curse.” All the while, guitarist/vocalist Marcus De Pasquale provides a steady presence at the fore alongside bassist Tony McMahon and drummer Joel Green, and what’s ultimately still a straightforward rocker of an album finds a niche for itself between varies underground styles of heavy. Between the balance they strike across their 37 minutes and the energy that courses through their songs, Witchskull’s The Vast Electric Dark proves easily worth the look it’s getting.