Quarterly Review: Bubonic Bear, The F.T.W., Seremonia, JPT Scare Band, Libido Fuzz, Dopethrone, The Moth, War Iron, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Red Mess

Posted in Reviews on April 3rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Here we are, the final day of The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review. I won’t lie and say it’s been easy this whole time, but the challenge has been worth it. Will I do another one? I guess that depends on how backed up records get. Even with all of this, I haven’t managed to fit in everything, so yeah, it doesn’t seem unlikely I’ll wind up with fodder for more of this kind of thing. Once again, not at all a hardship to have people interested enough in having me write about their music to send it to me. Not at all something I’m going to complain about.

Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to read or share the link or whatnot, and of course to bands and labels for caring enough to send the music.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Bubonic Bear, Shaved Heat

bubonic-bear-shaved-heat

In and out of their three-song Shaved Heat tape in under 10 minutes, one could hardly accuse Philly guitar/drum duo Bubonic Bear of being overly elaborate in their approach, but the tracks, particularly closer “Clean,” drive home their post-hardcore rawness with suitable intensity. No frills, just impact. Vocals are raw shouts and the blue tape, which is limited to 50 copies through Bastard Sloth Records, has a kind of avant garde charm, underground in the house-show sense and mean, mean, mean, but probably nice enough to talk to. “Chlorine,” “Witch Pyle” and “Clean” are arranged shortest to longest, but all three hover around three minutes and tear into frenetic turns and let’s-call-it-spirited pummel. Andrew and Dustin, the pair involved, have a slew of EPs and splits and one full-length under their belt, and their six-plus years together are evident in the sheer fact that they can execute material so chaotic without having it fall apart under their stamping feet.

Bubonic Bear on Thee Facebooks

Bastard Sloth Records

The F.T.W., Vendetta Kind of Mood

the-f.t.w.-vendetta-kind-of-mood

From its biker chug to its unabashed confrontationalism and attitude-laced approach to songs like “Who Crowned You King” and “Axe to Grind,” The F.T.W.’s Vendetta Kind of Mood just screams oldschool New York. Not the New York that’s the family-friendly (as long as you’re rich) center of the fashion world, but the New York that was really eager to tell you about how it was going to kick your ass, if not actually do so. The 10-track vinyl self-release is clean in its production and straightforward structurally, but has a gritty undercurrent anyway, showing some thrash (or is that NYHC? So hard to tell sometimes) influence in “Bleed Out” and a bit of rawer punk in “Billy Bats,” though they wait till the closer to actually extract a “Pound of Flesh,” which they slice with a choice solo and some Judas Priest riffing from guitarist TheMajor Nelson, joined in the trio by bassist/vocalist Michael Dolan and drummer Jason Meraz. Something tells me they’re not abbreviating “for the win.”

The F.T.W. on Thee Facebooks

The F.T.W. on Bandcamp

Seremonia, Kristalliarkki

seremonia kristalliarkki

Kristalliarkki is the third offering from Finland’s Seremonia on Svart Records, and while all of their albums have thrilled in that quiet, warm-toned, psych-proto-ritual kind of way, the crystal ark is where it’s at. The record lands big with penultimate 14-minute sprawler jam “Kristalliarkki I,” open enough to set down a blanket and have a picnic next to the tree line, but before they get there, the five-piece of vocalist Noora Federley, guitarists Teemu Markkula and Ville Pirinen drummer/flautist Erno Taipale and bassist Ilkka Vekka vibe out fuzzy hypnosis on eight shorter native-language tracks, otherworldly from the word “go” and held together with a glue of ‘70s-style shufflebuzz on “Lusiferin Lapset” and the quick bouncer “Kuolema Voittaa” that beg to be dug on repeat visits. At just 1:14, “Kristalliarkki II” taps punker soul to close out with a sudden finish that leaves one wondering what the hell just happened, and no doubt that’s exactly what Seremonia had in mind.

Seremonia on Thee Facebooks

Seremonia at Svart Records

JPT Scare Band, Acid Acetate Excursion & Rape of the Titan’s Sirens

jpt scare band acid acetate excursion and rape of the titan's sirens

A twofer! Kansas City acid rockers JPT Scare Band Jeff Littrell (“J”), Paul Grigsby (“P”) and Terry Swope (“T”) – dig into their archival material to couple their first two records, Acid Acetate Excursion and Rape of the Titan’s Sirens, for Ripple Music. Both were recorded in the ‘70s but not released until 1994 and 1998, respectively, and the trio’s blown-out heavy continues to wear its years well, the bluesy fire in Swope’s guitar work leading the way through 81 minutes of long-range jams and classic vibes, still underrated after all these years. The second record has more bite tonally than the first, the recording is rougher, but I won’t take anything away from the force behind the 13-minute “King Rat” from the debut either. Think of it as an archival release more than a reissue, and if you haven’t yet been introduced to JPT Scare Band, think of the vinyl as an educational expense.

JPT Scare Band website

Ripple Music

Libido Fuzz, Kaleido Lumo Age

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Bordeaux trio Libido Fuzz trip out pretty hard on heavy ‘70s influences, but I feel like their Kaleido Lumo Age debut LP (on Pink Tank Records) is all the more praiseworthy for the simple fact that it doesn’t sound like Graveyard. Casting off much of the blues that seems to have afflicted so many the world over, Thibault Guezennec, Pierre-Alexis Mengual and Rory O’Callaghan dip back maybe a couple years before ’71, let’s call it ’68, but filter the Hendrix and The Who influences through modern tonality, which means that a boogier like “Raw Animal” and the proto-stoner shuffle of “Enter the Occult” satisfy in concept and execution. Each of the evident two sides caps with a cut past the eight-minute mark, and both “Redemption of the Bison” and album closer “Haight Ashbury” offer significant heavy psych immersion, though it’s the side B finale that ultimately wins out thanks to its second half journey into noise wash, lysergic swirl, last-minute nod and epilogue of birdsong-esque feedback.

Libido Fuzz on Thee Facebooks

Libido Fuzz at Pink Tank Records

Dopethrone, Hochelaga

dopethrone hochelaga

Filth-caked Montreal trio Dopethrone eat crust and shit riffs on their Totem Cat-released fourth record, Hochelaga, coating themselves in backpatch-worthy tone and throat-searing screams that would do Bongzilla proud. Weedian scummery through and through. Save for “Dry Hitter,” each of Hochelaga’s seven tracks starts with a sample, as if to emphasize the utter stoner fuckall with which Dopethrone – guitarist/vocalist Vincent, bassist Vyk and drummer Borman – execute their rolling grooves and lumbering viciousness once it kicks in. “Sludgekicker,” “Vagabong” and “Riff Dealer” tell the tale, and the record’s 40 minutes play out in largely unipolar but universally righteous fashion, “Scum Fuck Blues” summing up the ethic nicely with the line, “Smoke, drink, die.” Dopethrone make a show of their rawness, but Hochelaga’s fullness of tone and clarity of aesthetic speak to an underlying sense of knowing what they’re doing, and a record this cohesive doesn’t happen by accident, much as it might be telling you otherwise. That doesn’t mean they’re not also high as hell, just that they can keep it together.

Dopethrone on Thee Facebooks

Dopethrone on Bandcamp

The Moth, And Then Rise

the moth and then rise

A presumed sequel to their 2013 debut, They Fall, Hamburg trio The Moth‘s sophomore full-length, And Then Rise, pulls off heavy rock ethics with a heavy metal sense of purpose and basks in an overarching tension throughout its nine tracks. Fast or slow, doomed or thrashing, cuts like “Battle is Over” and “Travel Light” carry a progressive feel to match their hooks, later doomers like “Slowly to Die” and closer “Fire” – which hides a bonus track in its span – holding onto the tightness even as the relinquish in terms of pacing. Dark atmospherically but brazenly intricate, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Freden, bassist/vocalist Cécile and drummer Tiffy are never showy or putting on a technical clinic, but everything seems to be geared toward the purpose of enhancing the songs, which of course is the ideal. Because the sound is so condensed, it might take a couple listens for And Then Rise to sink in – not saying the chug of “Last Times” doesn’t also have immediate appeal – but The Moth’s genre-bending compositions prove worth the active engagement.

The Moth on Thee Facebooks

The Moth on Bandcamp

War Iron, Precession of the Equinoxes

war iron precession of the equinoxes

I’m pretty sure War Iron could play fast and it would still sound slow. They don’t really try it. Deep, deep low end is cut through by indecipherable-but-get-their-point-across-anyway screams on the Northern Irish four-piece’s third album, Precession of the Equinoxes, which plods out a grueling extremity of doom across its four included tracks, the shortest of which is the 7:37 “Summon Demon Scream the Abyss,” a harsh ritual of sonic heft and disaffection well met by its compatriots, from the churning opener “Bludgeon Lord,” to the title-track – which actually does up the pace somewhat, relatively speaking (and yes, it still sounds slow), and only temporarily – which crushes hopes and eardrums alike leading into the closer “From Napalm Altar,” a final affirmation of the deathly miseries at heart in War Iron’s approach, vocalist Baggy going high-low with screams and growls over the Ross’ guitar, Dave’s bass and Marty’s drums. It is a fearsome and challenging listen.

War Iron on Thee Facebooks

War Iron on Bandcamp

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Earth Hog

chubby-thunderous-bad-kush-masters-earth-hog

Guitarist/vocalist Owen Carty, formerly of underappreciated, coulda-been-contender sludge rockers Dopefight, lends his riffy services to the cumbersomely-named trio Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters (also stylized all-lowercase), who make their debut with the self-released five-song Earth Hog EP. Bassist Will Hart and drummer Mark Buckwell swing heavy and land hard on the opening title-track, and there’s not much letup from there, wah bass and cowbell leading to some fervent stomp in the second half of “Chopsticks and Bad Meatballs,” which starts out as a punk song, and “Devil’s Buttermilk” brazenly tackling Southern riffing without the chestbeating that way, way too often accompanies. More cowbell there too, because if you’re going to do something, overdo it. “Mother Chub” and “Riff Richard” close out, the latter with a slowdown that emphasizes the point: the kush may be bad, but the riffs are primo. Silly name or not, I’ll take this shit any day of the week, and considering Earth Hog was recorded in a living room, I have the feeling it’s only going to get louder from here. Right on.

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters on Thee Facebooks

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters on Bandcamp

Red Mess, Drowning in Red

red mess drowning in red

With a sense that they’re continuing to feel out where they want to be sonically, Brazilian three-piece Red Mess follow-up last year’s Crimson EP (review here) with the newly-issued two-tracker Drowning in Red – apparently working on a theme chromatically – the cuts “Daybreak’s Dope” and “Ready to Go” impressive in performance and tone as guitarist/vocalist Thiago Franzim shreds out on the latter atop Lucas Klepa’s bass and Douglas Villa’s speaker-popping kick. Each song has a markedly different approach, with “Daybreak’s Dope” topping seven minutes via a Sleep-style rollout while, true to its title, “Ready to Go” seems to have no interest in holding its shuffle still. Pairing them shows sonic breadth, and in the case of the second, a bit of ‘70s influence to coincide with what they showed on Crimson, though the results will still ultimately be familiar. They’re making progress, though, and their cohesiveness and catchiness through stylistic shifts is encouraging.

Red Mess on Thee Facebooks

Red Mess on Bandcamp

 

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Formes, Romero, Bellringer, Wizard Eye, Lewd Flesh and Red Mess

Posted in Radio on January 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

Usually I approach doing a batch of radio adds with some trepidation — after all, I’m basically writing five (or, in this week’s case, six) short reviews — but after doing that Last Licks series last week, this honestly feels like a breeze. Perspective is everything, and to add to yours and mine, I’ve got 18 records joining The Obelisk Radio playlist this afternoon, and it’s a widely varied bunch, both in what’s written up here and the actual makeup of the stuff.

Full-lengths, EPs, splits, a live release, a single, some doom, some black metal, some heavy rock, sludge, psych, you name it. I had the radio going for a while yesterday and heard a few really satisfying changes in style. I like that and I hope you do too, because I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon. Full list of adds is on the Updates and Playlist Page.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Jan. 9, 2015:

Formes, Dysphoria Part 1

formes dysphoria part 1

For an album that starts “Through this Hole” and finishes in “Dead Ends,” Formes‘ Dypsphoria Part 1 is a resoundingly progressive and diverse outing that, at its core, works primarily in playing shoegaze psych and extreme metal off each other. Somewhere between Dead Meadow and Akercocke, a song like “Dead Ends” finds a way to mesh wub-chug riffing with the crooning vocals of guitarist/bassist Steve McNamara with the responding death growls of his brother, drummer/guitarist Jordan. The UK three-piece is rounded out by Rob “The Alchemist” Hemingway, whose synths feature heavily in songs like “I am Nothing” and “Tumult,” which atmospherically expand on the ideas the opener presents, thrusting these two sides into the same place and, in defiance of what are generally thought of as the physics of genre, making it work. Formes‘ most effective moments are when they ram one into the other, as on the acoustic-to-doom-pummeling “Smile Club,” which follows quietly seething brooder “I Will Make You Ill” and rounds out with an extended whistle of harsh feedback, but I won’t discount the value they clearly place on structural variety either. Together, they make Dysphoria Part 1 as satisfying as it is unpredictable, and while I don’t know when one might expect Part 2 or just how many installments of Dysphoria there might be, I look forward to when I can next encounter the fruits of Formes‘ stylistic restlessness. Formes on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Romero, Gold for the Hunt

romero gold for the hunt

Madison, Wisconsin, sludge poppers Romero made a New Year’s present out of “Gold for the Hunt” by offering the song as a free download on Jan. 1, but it’s also the first new studio material to come from the four-piece since their early 2013 full-length, Take the Potion (review here). Like that album, the single revels in a Floor/Torche influence, but seems to delight even more in its fuzzy tone and burly edge in the vocals of guitarist Jeffrey Mundt and drummer Ben Brooks. With the foundation of Patrick Hotlen‘s bass rumbling beneath, the guitar and vocals push through a tension-release chorus and into a well-layered chugging bridge that further highlights Romero‘s penchant for melodic bellowing. Guitarist/percussionist/organist Tim Consequence seems all but absent initially, but in the final movement, a sustained current of organ winds up as one of “Gold for the Hunt”‘s most distinguishing factors. Well, that and the brutal growing, anyway. Glad to hear from Romero, even in so abbreviated a manner. If you’ve never encountered them before, “Gold for the Hunt” provides a quick, efficient summary of their approach, and if you heard Take the Potion, the new song will only make you further anticipate the follow-up. Romero on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Bellringer, Bellringer EP

bellringer bellringer ep

Based in the weirdo haven of Austin, Texas, newcomer trio Bellringer — for whom this untitled/self-titled, self-released EP is the first outing — boast a familiar face (or at least a familiar cowboy hat) in guitarist/vocalist Mark Deutrom (Clown Alley, peak-era Melvins), who’s joined by bassist Corey Cottrell (ex-Megazilla) and drummer Craig Nichols (Guided by VoicesThe Breeders) on these four tracks. The sound, while adventurous stylistically and in terms of the construction of individual parts, is rooted in heavy rock, opener “Vapor Lock,” a catchy number like “Wait” and the instrumental chorus of “Von Fledermaus” reminding some that, yes, Deutrom was the bass player on Stoner Witch, but particularly in the latter an even more resonant impression comes across like Masters of Reality‘s blend of pop and heavy rock oddness. That vibe continues on the nine-minute psych-jam closer “The Burning Gift,” which brings Deutrom‘s vocals forward and works in keyboard arrangement flourish, bell sounds, string sounds and various melodic volume swells to underscore the point that, even on Bellringer‘s introduction, pretty much anything goes if it works. So be it. The world needs more experimental rock that doesn’t forget there are two sides to that equation, and Bellringer seem to come out of the gate ready to gleefully tip the scales one way or the other. Bellringer on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Wizard Eye, Riff Occult Live

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If, like me, you’ve been itching to get a handle on some new music from Philly’s theremin-laced, golly-these-guys-need-to-get-a-new-record-out stoner doom trio Wizard EyeRiff Occult Live should do the trick. All but two of the tracks — “On the Banks of a River” and the meshed-together “Gravebreath/Say No More” — come from the riffy three-piece’s forthcoming sophomore outing, and while it’s definitely a live record, the dense fuzz and nod-ready roll that guitarist/thereminist/vocalist Erik Caplan, on-a-first-name-bassist Dave and drummer Mike Scarpone conjure wins out anyway on cuts like “Drowning Daydream” and “Flying/Falling,” Scarpone‘s kick drum a pop in the low end while Wizard Eye ooze their way through one Sabbathian jam into the next. Opener “Eye of the Deep” sets a tone for extended solos and thick groove, and Wizard Eye do not falter from that path as the set makes its way to the 11-minute final jam, each riff arriving, kicking ass, and moving on in well-purposed succession. Riff Occult Live doesn’t entirely sate the anticipation for a new album, but it certainly doesn’t hurt either. Wizard Eye on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Lewd Flesh, Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte

LEWD FLESH - OP I RØVEN, DØ I SMERTE

Marked out immediately by the echoing, over-the-top bluesy vocals of Malene Pedersen, Copenhagen heavy rockers Lewd Flesh make their Spaghetti Casetti Records debut with the Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte 7″, bringing together the two songs “Acid Rider” and “Lewd Troves” to give a professional, crisp first impression across two sides and about 11 minutes. Guitarists Nanna Braunschweig Hansen and Casper Nilsson, bassist John Madsen and drummer Jakob provide the backdrop for Pedersen‘s rocked-out vocal thrust on “Acid Rider,” and more ’90s-style cues are taken on “Lewd Troves,” the wailing guitars offering a flourish of noise influence to coincide with the band’s straightforward production. It is their first outing, and two songs, and it’s a raucous start to make, but there’s room to grow as well in Lewd Flesh‘s hammering out their balance of grunge, noise and heavy rock impulses and figuring out where to place the vocals in the mix. To the credit of both the band and the release, Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte sounds both smoothly produced and on-stage energetic, and hopefully they can keep that spirit intact as they continue to grow. Lewd Flesh on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Red Mess, Crimson EP

red mess crimson

Familiar riffs abound on Red Mess‘ debut EP, Crimson, and the Brazilian trio give due reverence to the likes of Sabbath and Goatsnake, but it’s the rougher, semi-retro presentation that draws the listener into the atmosphere created by guitarist/vocalist Thiago Franzim, bassist Lucas Klepa and drummer Douglas Labigalini over the four tracks/22 minutes. There’s something theatrical in Franzim‘s vocals to opener “Trapped in My Mind” that also give a classic Alice Cooper Band feel to the proceedings as well, and that’s really just one element of heavy ’70s worship that continues on “Hole” and the subsequent, motor-ready “Stoneage Coopers,” but they save the best for last in 5:30 closer “Through the Trees,” which offsets Graveyard-style subdued blues noodling with heavy rock thrust, a highlight performance from Klepa alongside Labigalini‘s swinging cymbal and tom work, and an engaging build throughout. They’re feeling their way through developing their sound, and that’s exciting to hear since the three-piece already has some considerable chemistry between them. Hopefully they’re able to take lessons from Crimson — named, apparently, in homage to a classic prog influence — and move forward as they discover where they want to go and how they want their songs to take them there. Red Mess on YouTube, on Bandcamp.

Had to get that sixth one in there, and not just because it frees up another space on my desktop. The idea behind doing adds like this isn’t just to remind people there’s a radio component to this site. That’s part of it, sure, but the bigger agenda here is to hopefully give you another opportunity to check out music you might dig. That’s why the audio is right there under each review. I sincerely hope something above piques your interest and that you also share it with someone you think will enjoy.

Thanks as always for reading and listening.

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