Posted in Whathaveyou on August 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
At this point, one almost receives an email with a subject announcing a Windhand tour and expects it to list a month-plus of dates. That’s kind of just how the Virginian outfit have operated for the last couple years — already they’ve put in considerable time supporting last fall’s Jack Endino-produced Grief’s Infernal Flower (review here) — but this time around it’s just a handful of gigs for December alongside Relapse Records labelmate extremists Ilsa that will take them as far north from Richmond as the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn before they head back, a quick run of pre-holiday dates.
Maybe they’re testing out new material ahead of 2017? Maybe they’re taking a victory lap for Grief’s Infernal Flower? Or maybe they just feel like getting out and doing a couple nights to wrap the year. Can hardly hold it against them either way.
The PR wire has details and a couple September shows as well:
WINDHAND Announce US Tour Dates With ILSA
Stoner/doom heavyweights WINDHAND have announced a new run of US tour dates this coming December along with labelmates and recent Relapse signees ILSA. The bands will be leveling Washington D.C., Boston, and New York beginning December 1; WINDHAND will also be playing select US dates in September. Check out a full itinerary below.
WINDHAND Live: Sep 06 Atlanta GA The Earl Sep 07 Nashville TN Exit/In Sep 15 Durham NC Motorco Music Hall
***All Dates With Ilsa*** Dec 01 Washington DC Black Cat Mainstage Dec 02 Boston MA Brighton Music Hall Dec 03 New York NY Mercury Lounge Dec 04 Brooklyn NY St Vitus
WINDHAND are still touring in support of their critically-acclaimed 2015 full-length Grief’s Infernal Flower, which can be streamed and purchased at the band’s Bandcamp page here.
D.C. death metal crew ILSA signed to Relapse last year and released a two-song split with labelmates COFFINS this past February. The split is available for streaming and purchase at this location.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I like a tour with an element of contrast, and to pair Virginia’s Cough with Massachusetts trio Elder strikes me as particularly brilliant. It’s a classic light and dark. Cough head overseas behind their new album, Still They Pray (review here), a massive slab of full-on bum-you-the-fuck-out doom that rolls its grooves like boulders. Elder? Still supporting 2015’s album of the year Lore (review here), they lead the charge with fleet-footed progressive heavy rock that even as it maintains its tonal crunch only seems to be becoming brighter in its tone.
So yeah, like I say: Some contrast. Awesome.
From the PR wire:
COUGH Announce EU Tour Dates With Elder
Fresh off the release of their highly-acclaimed new record Still They Pray, Richmond stoner/doom veterans COUGH have announced a European tour with contemporaries Elder set to begin this coming October. The band will be performing throughout Western Europe and the UK, including appearances at Up In Smoke Festival in Switzerland and Desertfest in Belgium. The band will also be performing select US dates before their departure – see a full list of dates below.
COUGH Live: Aug 12 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie Aug 13 Brooklyn, NY Union Pool
***European Tour*** Oct 01 Pratteln, CH Up In Smoke Festival @ Z7 Oct 02 Nürnberg, DE Kunstverein / Z – Bau Oct 03 Budapest, HU Dürer Kert Oct 04 Berlin, DE SO 36 Oct 06 Nantes, FR TBD Oct 07 Lyon, FR TBD Oct 10 London, UK Underworld Oct 11 Edinburgh, UK Bannermans Oct 12 Manchester, UK Rebellion Oct 13 Coventry, UK The Phönix Oct 14 Bristol, UK Exchange Oct 15 Antwerp, BE Desertfest Belgium @ Trix
Nov 12 Long Beach, CA Di Piazza’s – Midnite Communion Festival Nov 18 Indianapolis, IN 5th Quarter – Doomed and Stoned Festival
COUGH’s new album Still They Pray is out now via Relapse Records on CD/2xLP/Digital. Physical orders and bundle deals are available via Relapse.com here, and digital copies can be ordered through COUGH’s Bandcamp page at this location.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
The reason I say it’s Red Fang‘s first tour in the US for their new album Only Ghosts is because we know damn well it won’t be the last. Forerunners of Portland’s heavy rock scene and having already had a significant influence on the development thereof, Red Fang will issue Only Ghosts on Oct. 14 via Relapse Records, and while they were already booked to head overseas with Torchewhen the record was announced and the first track streamed, it seems the two groups will partner for a US run a few weeks after the European one is finished. Whores will also join in on the fun for the US dates, which bring the band right up to the holidays.
Doubtless they’ll be back on the road in 2017 — the future! — so keep an eye out in the next couple months for more to come. A corresponding Spring run doesn’t seem unlikely, though we also know that’s when a lot of US acts go abroad to take advantage of festival season. Either way, the cycle is just starting, as much as it ever stopped.
From the PR wire:
RED FANG Announce US Tour With Torche; Music Featured on PBR Can Crusher Pinball Machine
In addition to their recently-announced UK/EU dates this coming fall, Portland hard rockers RED FANG have announced a new US tour with labelmates Torche set to kick off this November. The trek will see the bands touring from coast to coast in support of their signature brands of stoner metal for a full month. Noise rockers Whores will also support; tickets will be on sale this Friday at 10 AM PST. Check out a full itinerary of dates below.
After three years of vigorously touring the world, RED FANG, the beer-loving Portland-based rock band re-emerge with their greatest and latest full-length album, Only Ghosts. Produced by the legendary Ross Robinson (At The Drive In, The Cure, Slipknot, and many more) and mixed by Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Melvins), Only Ghosts consists of 10 new tracks of the band’s signature, high-impact, hook-filled, hard rock. RED FANG prove once again they are top-notch songwriters who have mastered the heavy anthem without taking themselves too seriously. Only Ghosts is a rock album of incredible magnitude that demands to be played at maximum volume!
Only Ghosts is set for release this October 14 on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Physical pre-orders are available via Relapse.com here, and digital pre-orders can be found at the band’s Bandcamp page at this location.
RED FANG Live: Aug 4 Copenhagen, DK Jr Vega Aug 5 Wacken, DE Wacken Open Air Aug 6 Utrecht, NL Tivoli Pandora Aug 7 Lokeren, BE Lokerse Feesten
Aug 17 Tacoma, WA Jazzbones Aug 18 Walla Walla, WA Main Street Studios Aug 19 Missoula, MT The Palace Lounge Aug 21 Spokane, WA All Age Rage @ The Viking Sept 22 Portland, OR Northwest Hesh Fest
**All Dates from Nov 18 – Dec 16 with Torche and Whores*** Nov 18 San Francisco, CA Slims Nov 19 Pomona, CA Glasshouse Nov 20 Los Angeles, CA Terragram Ballroom Nov 22 San Diego, CA Casbah Nov 23 Phoenix, AZ Rebel Lounge Nov 25 Austin, TX Mohawk Nov 26 Dallas, TX Three Links Nov 27 Houston, TX Warehouse Studio Nov 29 Atlanta, GA Masquerade (Hell) Nov 30 Durham, NC Motorco Dec 1 Washington, DC Rock and Roll Hotel Dec 2 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts Dec 4 Boston, MA The Sinclair Dec 5 New York, NY Mercury Lounge Dec 7 Pittsburgh, PA Spirit Lounge Dec 8 Cleveland, OH Beachland Ballroom Dec 9 Detroit, MI El Club Dec 10 Chicago, IL Metro Dec 11 Bloomington, IL Castle Theater Dec 13 Denver, CO Bluebird Theater Dec 14 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge Dec 15 Boise, ID Nuerolox Dec 16 Seattle, WA Showbox
***All Dates with Torche*** Sept 26 Brighton, UK Concorde 2 Sept 27 London, UK Koko Sept 28 Bristol, UK Bierkeller Sept 29 Leeds, UK Leeds Stylus Sept 30 Manchester, UK Manchester Academy 2 Oct 2 Birmingham, UK Institute2 Oct 3 Glasgow, UK Garage Oct 4 Newcastle, UK Riverside Oct 5 Southampton, UK Engine Rooms Oct 7 Athens, Greece Desert Fest Oct 9 Paris, FR Trabendo Oct 10 Munich, DE Strom Oct 11 Vienna, AT Szene Wien Oct 12 Berlin, DE Huxleys Oct 13 Cologne, DE Essigfabrik Oct 14 Antwerp, BE Desertfest Oct 15 Leipzig, DE Conne Island Oct 16 Hamburg, DE Markthalle Oct 18 Odense, DK Posten Oct 19 Oslo, NO John Dee Oct 20 Stockholm, SE Debaser Medis Oct 21 Malmo, SE KB Oct 22 Munster, DE Skater’s Place Oct 23 Karlsruhe, DE Substage Oct 24 Amsterdam, NL Melkweg (OZ)
The band has also premiered the first in a multi-part series of behind-the-scenes webisodes documenting their studio sessions for Only Ghosts. The clip, which can be seen here or below, focuses on John Sherman and the drum tracks for the new album.
Additionally, RED FANG’s music and likeness are featured on Pabst Blue Ribbon’s new pinball machine, the Can Crusher, which was unveiled at San Diego Comic-Con. The machine, developed in partnership with Stern Pinball, Inc., features a retro game design with art by Dirty Donny.
RED FANG is: John Sherman – Drums Aaron Beam – Bass, Vocals David Sullivan – Guitar Maurice Bryan Giles – Guitar, Vocals
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
What, you thought Inter Armaweren’t going to announce Fall 2016 tour plans? The Richmond genremashers rarely let a season go by without hitting the road for at least some measure, and whether they’re chipping away at the US region by region or heading abroad, the reliable thing is that they’re out there somewhere. To wit, right now they’re finishing a run alongside Withered, and next month, they’ll be out with Call of the Void as they continue to support their 2016 album, Paradise Gallows (review here), which of course came out on Relapse.
They’ve got a new video as well for “The Summer Drones” that follows the info below, sent along the PR wire:
INTER ARMA Announce US Tour Dates With Call of the Void
As their current US tour with Withered draws to a close, Richmond genre-benders INTER ARMA have announced a new run of US dates with Relapse labelmates Call of the Void. The tour will kick off this September 22 and will see both bands crushing cities throughout the Midwest, South, and East Coast. A full list of dates is available below.
The band’s music video for Paradise Gallows track “The Summer Drones” recently premiered and can be seen below.
Paradise Gallows is out now on CD/2xLP/Digital via Relapse Records. Physical orders, including limited vinyl colors and bundles, are available via Relapse.com at this location, and digital orders can be found at Bandcamp here.
INTER ARMA Live:
***All Dates With Withered*** Aug 2 Atlanta GA The Earl Aug 3 Asheville NC Mothlight
***All Dates With Call Of The Void*** Sep 22 Harrisonburg, VA Golden Pony Sep 23 Charlotte, NC Snug Harbor Sep 24 Savannah, GA The Jinx Sep 26 Tallahassee, FL Club Downunder Sep 27 Memphis, TN Hi-Tone Cafe Sep 28 Fayetteville, AR Ryleigh’s Sep 29 Little Rock, AR Vino’s Sep 30 Des Moines, IA Vaudeville Mews Oct 01 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s Oasis Oct 03 St Louis, MO Firebird Oct 04 Champaign, IL The Accord Oct 05 Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme Oct 06 Columbus, OH Ace of Cups Oct 07 Buffalo, NY Waiting Room Oct 08 Montreal, QC Casa Del Popolo Oct 09 Portland, ME Space Oct 10 New Haven, CT Cafe Nine
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you want to feel old today, we’re now 16 years removed from Unearthly Trance first getting together. The Brooklyn trio reunited in Spring 2015 and have made select appearances since, playing local shows and doing a West Coast run last fall that included a stop at Midnite Communion III in Long Beach, California, where they joined Morne, Dopethrone and a host of expertly-curated others.
Six years have gone by since their fifth album, V (review here), was issued by Relapse Records, but the band has posted notice that their upcoming sixth full-length, to be titled Stalking the Ghost, has finished its recording process. Tracking took place with Colin Marston (Gorguts, Behold! the Arctopus) at The Thousand Caves, and Relapse will once again handle putting it out.
There’s still a lot to be learned about the record — most importantly what it might sound like. V was the most developed album that Unearthly Trance put out during their initial run, but guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky has been exploring a variety of different influences in acts like The Howling Wind and Serpentine Path — in which Unearthly Trance bassist Jay Newman and drummer Darren Verni also play — so whether or not that might have any impact on Stalking the Ghost is up in the air. Their doomly form had become pretty amorphous stylistically by the time they called it quits, so even if they’re picking up where they left off, it seems fair to expect some expanse of ground to be covered.
No release date yet, but one to look forward to:
We have finished recording our new album entitled “Stalking The Ghost”! We all think it came out absolutely massive and is our best work yet. Colin Marston was a pleasure to work with and we are beyond excited to have this album be released on Relapse Records!
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Forerunners of Portland’s heavy rock scene Red Fang have set an October 14 official release date for their new album, Only Ghosts, through Relapse Records. Their fourth long-player, Only Ghosts follows 2013’s Whales and Leeches (discussed here), and in addition to just being a new full-length from Red Fang — which would already make it noteworthy — the latest outing earns further distinction via the Ross Robinson production job, which one can hear in the opening track “Flies,” streaming now.
Red Fang, of course, will tour the living crap out of Only Ghosts, starting in Europe around the release and presumably covering the rest of the universe from there.
Just off the PR wire:
RED FANG Announce New Ross Robinson-Produced Album ‘Only Ghosts,’ Share New Song + Pre-Orders
After three years of vigorously touring the world, RED FANG, the beer-loving Portland-based rock band whose new album was included in Rolling Stone’s list most anticipated 2016 releases, re-emerge with their greatest and latest full-length album, Only Ghosts. Produced by the legendary Ross Robinson (At The Drive In, The Cure, Slipknot, and many more) and mixed by Joe Baressi (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Melvins), Only Ghosts consists of 10 new tracks of the band’s signature, high-impact, hook-filled, hard rock. RED FANG prove once again they are top-notch songwriters who have mastered the heavy anthem without taking themselves too seriously. Only Ghosts is a rock album of incredible magnitude that demands to be played at maximum volume!
Only Ghosts was recorded earlier this year at Robinson’s Venice, Calif. studio. In a recent Revolver Magazine interview, bass player Aaron Beam joked that the experience of working beachside was “pretty miserable,” later adding that working with Ross encouraged the band to take a different approach to recording. “He really digs into the meaning behind the songs so that when you’re recording, you’re doing it with conviction and purpose. It’s less about the little technical things. He’s more concerned with getting a performance and focusing on what you’re trying to give the world by making this music in the first place.” The band’s Bryan Giles and Aaron Beam also added,
Working with Ross and Joe [Baressi] on this record was a huge leap forward for us. The process was very challenging and rewarding, and I think we’re a better band for it. This album expresses exactly where we’re at. We’re super proud of it and can’t wait for people to hear it!
Only Ghosts is set for release this October 14 on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Physical pre-orders are available via Relapse.com here, and digital pre-orders can be found at the band’s Bandcamp page at this location.
Only Ghosts tracklisting:
1. Flies 2. Cut It Short 3. Flames 4. No Air 5. Shadows 6. Not For You 7. The Smell of the Sound 8. The Deep 9. I Am a Ghost 10. Living in Lye
The band will be heading overseas for festival appearances and a headlining tour with Torche in September/October – view a full itinerary below. North American tour dates will be announced soon.
RED FANG Live: August 4 Copenhagen, Denmark Jr Vega August 5 Wacken, DE Wacken Open Air August 6 Utrecht, Netherlands Tivoli Pandora August 7 Lokeren, Belgium Lokerse Feesten September 22 Portland, OR Northwest Hesh Fest
* Dates below with Torche * September 26 Brighton, UK Concorde 2 September 27 London, UK Koko September 28 Bristol, UK Bierkeller September 29 Leeds, UK Leeds Stylus September 30 Manchester, UK Manchester Academy 2 October 2 Birmingham, UK Institute2 October 3 Glasgow, UK Garage October 4 Newcastle, UK Riverside October 5 Southampton, UK Engine Rooms October 7 Athens, Greece Desert Fest October 9 Paris, France Trabendo October 10 Munich, Germany Strom October 11 Vienna, Austria Szene Wien October 12 Berlin, Germany Huxleys October 13 Cologne, Germany Essigfabrik October 15 Leipzig, Germany Conne Island October 16 Hamburg, Germany Markethalle October 18 Odense, Denmark Posten October 19 Oslo, Norway John Dee October 20 Stockholm, Sweden Debaser Medis October 21 Malmo, Sweden KB October 22 Munster, Germany Skater’s Place October 23 Karlsruhe, Germany Substage October 24 Amsterdam, Netherlands Melkweg (OZ)
[Click play above to stream 16’s Lifespan of a Moth in full. Album is out Friday on Relapse.]
It’s now been nearly a decade since Los Angeles sludge metallers 16 — aka -(16)- — were reactivated. In that time, they’ve toured the US and Europe, reissued early material via Relapse Records, which seems to have been the home they were looking for all along, and put together three studio albums, the latest of which is Lifespan of a Moth. Led by founding guitarist/vocalist Bobby Ferry and vocalist Cris Jerue with the newcomer rhythm section of bassist Barney Finks and drummer Dion Thurman, they celebrate a quarter century since their start in 2016, and though the road from then to now has been tumultuous, 16 have become a reliable source for disaffected, aggressive sludge chugging. Their grooves remain thoroughly pissed off on Lifespan of a Moth‘s eight tracks/44 minutes, their lyrics delivered in seething growls and rasps, and as with 2012’s Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds and 2009’s return statement, Bridges to Burn, they have an intensity to their approach that bleeds through regardless of tempo, so that the plodding “The Morphinist” and more upbeat “Secrets of the Curmudgeon” both rage with due force.
Probably worth noting that of their total seven full-lengths, they’ve never had one with so few tracks, but as Lifespan of a Moth is by no means their shortest outing, it means the songs themselves have gotten longer and, I think it can be argued, more expressive. There was an undeniable chaos to records like Drop Out (1996) and Blaze of Incompetence (1997) that stands with the best sludge the US in the ’90s had to offer, East Coast or West Coast, Northern or Southern, but 16 seem to have little interest in pretending the last 20 years never happened, and Lifespan of a Moth finds them honing cynical atmospheres through sonic pummel with an efficiency and maturity that a newer band simply couldn’t share.
Recorded in San Diego at Doubletime Recording Studio, the record begins with sampled beach sounds that soon gives way to a crushing chug riff, raw snare drums and blown-out vocals. “Landloper” is the first of a virulent opening salvo of five-minute tracks, along with “Peaches, Cream and the Placenta” and “The Morphinist,” and between them they essentially act to put up a wall between the four-piece and anyone who might not have the endurance to take on what’s still to come. There’s little interest in letup, but it’s not as if 16 don’t have a dynamic. As “Landloper” thuds to its end — Jerue‘s reverb the last thing to go — it gives way to the slower second cut, just as nasty sounding but more nod than headbang, and “The Morphinist” adds even more stomp to the mix along with lyrics about not trusting doctors, and while there’s some element of chestbeating to it, the riff is undeniable and the track is a highlight.
“Call me patient zero/This is all in your head” go the lines of the bridge, and though the attitude underlying shows 16‘s punker roots, its thickened lurch leads well into “The Absolute Center of a Pitch Black Heart,” the shortest track on Lifespan of a Moth at 3:25 and a faster push with a near-gallop to its rhythm that sees Thurman nodding briefly at Dave Lombardo on his ping ride and the group as a whole rounding out the album’s first half with a marked departure from those first three tracks, clearly setting up the notion that 16 haven’t yet played their full hand. That turns out to be precisely the case.
In linear editions — i.e. CD or digital — the shift from “The Absolute Center of a Pitch Black Heart” to “Gallows Humor” feels no less marked than one expects it would be if it required getting up to flip over the vinyl. Aside from the fact that “Gallows Humor” is the longest track on Lifespan of a Moth at 7:36, it’s also a crawl-and-chug instrumental with either an added layer of lead guitar or maybe keys that lend its roll a sense of drama. The effect is similar to what “Landloper” and company brought to side A — a process of weeding out — but immersive and almost hypnotic as it moves through en route to “Secrets of the Curmudgeon,” which adds in some flourish of black metal-style squibblies to the already-established chug to continue the darker ambience fleshing out the rage that’s been so well stated all along.
Penultimate in the tracklist with a break section led by Finks‘ bass, “Pastor in a Coma” is about as close as 16 come to offering a breather, and they’re still plenty of distance from actually doing so. “Pastor in a Coma” might be the apex of Lifespan of a Moth, and its loud/quiet tradeoff would seem to show that the band have more to say stylistically, but “George” rounds out with a tribute to the Seinfeld character played by Jason Alexander. Not quite timely, but it’s legitimately hilarious to hear Jerue‘s delivery of “These pretzels are making me thirsty,” so the charm makes up for a lot, and the closer’s fuckall, coupled with the weight of its tones, speaks to a lot of what works about Lifespan of a Moth. 16 have never wanted for a misanthropic sensibility, and while 25 years is a long time to keep that up even factoring in their breakup after 2002’s Zoloft Smile, they’ve found ways to grow without sacrificing the edge that made them so vitriolic in the first place.
Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Who’s ready for another round of 10 reviews in The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review? I know I am. We gotta hit 50 by Friday, and there’s still a lot — a lot — of ground to cover. Yesterday was all over the place style-wise and today has some of that going as well, but there’s a lot of quality in both, so hopefully you get to check some of it out. Today is the all important QR Hump Day, wherein we pass the halfway mark on our way to the total 50 reviews. If you’re wondering, it’s Lord Vicar who do the honors this time around at #25. Just kind of worked out that way, but I’ll take it. Down to business.
Quarterly Review #21-30:
Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare
Probably fair to call Mirrors for Psychic Warfare an offshoot of Corrections House, since its two members – Scott Kelly (also Neurosis) and Sanford Parker (producer extraordinaire/also Buried at Sea) – are also in that group, but the feel of their Neurot Recordings self-titled debut is substantially different, rawer and at times harsher. Parker handles beats and electronics, creating at times a wash of abrasive noise as in the culmination of “CNN WTZ,” the centerpiece of the five tracks, and elsewhere providing an industrial backdrop for Kelly’s voice for a gothic feel, as on “A Thorn to See.” Unsurprisingly, nothing about Mirrors for Psychic Warfare makes for particularly easy listening – though opener “Oracles Hex” has some commonality with Kelly’s solo work and his voice is resonant as ever – but as they round out the album with “43,” the keys, synth and guitar find some common ground, which leaves distorted shouts from Kelly to do the work of taking listeners to task. We already knew these two worked well together, and the partnership once again bears fruit here.
The four-song Death Thy Lover EP (on Napalm) is the first new studio offering of original material from Swedish doom legends Candlemass since their 2012 album, Psalms for the Dead (review here), marked the end of the tenure of vocalist Robert Lowe, also of Solitude Aeturnus. His replacement is the person who nearly had the job in the first place, Mats Levén (formerly Therion), who has a kind of stateliness to his presence in opener “Death Thy Lover” but suits the plod of “Sleeping Giant” well. Of course, at the center of the band is bassist/songwriter Leif Edling, whose style is unmistakable in these tracks, whether it’s the late-Iommi-style riffing of “Sinister ‘n’ Sweet” or “Death Thy Lover”’s chugging its way toward the hook. Candlemass save the most grueling for last with “The Goose,” as guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson intertwine a chugging rhythm and extended soloing over dirge-march drums from Jan Lindh to give the short release a darkened instrumental finale.
Talk about scope. Oh, only a country’s entire cultural history is fair game for Skuggsjá, the brainchild of Norwegian artists Ivar Bjørnson (also Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (also Wardruna) that crosses the line between black metal and Norse traditionalism probably better than anyone has ever done it before. A Piece for Mind and Mirror is the studio incarnation of the work the two composers and a host of others did as commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, and though it’s broken into 10 movements for the album, it flows together as one orchestral entirety, the gurgle of Grutle Kjellson (Enslaved) recognizable in the eponymous track amid choral backing and a richly textured blend of traditional folk instruments and metallic thrust. The lyrics are Norwegian, but whether it’s the blowing horn of “Makta Og Vanæra (I All Tid)” or the lush melodies in the march of “Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing,” the sense of pride and the creative accomplishment of A Piece for Mind and Mirror ring through loud and clear.
Two years after making their self-titled debut, Baltimore heavy bluesfuzz trio Black Lung come swaggering back with the spacious vibes of See the Enemy (on Noisolution), which takes the establishing steps the first album laid out and builds on them fluidly and with a clear direction in mind. At eight tracks/45 minutes produced by J. Robbins, the album was clearly structured for vinyl, each half ending with a longer cut, the psych-jamming “Nerve” on side A, which resounds in an ending of scorching guitar from Adam Bufano atop the drums of Elias Schutzman (both of The Flying Eyes), and the closer “8MM,” on which Bufano, Schutzman, guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier and Robbins (who also contributes bass) roll out the record’s most massive groove and cap it with an impenetrable wall of noise. While the songs are striking in their cohesion and poise, there are moments where one wants Black Lung to really let loose, as after Trevor Shipley’s keyboard stretch in “Priestess,” but they have other ideas, feeding the title-track directly into “8MM” with no less a firm sense of control than shown earlier. All told, an excellent follow-up that deserves broader consideration among 2016’s finer offerings.
Offered through The Church Within Records as a paean to classic doom, Lord Vicar’s third LP, Gates of Flesh, nonetheless almost can’t help but put its own mark on the style. The Turku, Finland, outfit’s first album in five years, it finds guitarist Kimi Kärki (ex-Reverend Bizarre, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, etc.), vocalist Chritus (also Goatess, ex-Saint Vitus, Count Raven, etc.), and drummer Gareth Millsted (ex-Centurions Ghost) — who, along with Kärki, also contributed bass after the band parted ways with Jussi Myllykoski and prior to adding Sami Hynninen as a temporary replacement — bold enough to shift into minimalist spaciousness on “A Shadow of Myself,” and really, they’re not through opener “Birth of Wine” before Kärki executes a gorgeous dual-layered solo. Trace those roots back to Trouble if you must, but there’s no question to whom the lurch of centerpiece “Breaking the Circle” or the sorrowful 10-minute closer “Leper, Leper” belongs, and the same holds true for everything that follows, be it the quiet start of “A Woman out of Snow” or the swinging second half of “Accidents.” Lord Vicar enact the doom of ages and take complete ownership of the sound, thus only adding to the canon as they go.
Like the stench of rotting, Dakessian’s The Poisoned Chalice provokes a visceral and physical response. The long-in-the-making debut release from the Portland-based duo of vocalist Kenny Snarzyk (also Fister) and multi-instrumentalist Aaron D.C. Edge (Lumbar, Roareth, so many others) had its music recorded back in 2013, and the vocals were added earlier this year, throat-searing screams and growls that top the noisy, claustrophobically weighted tones from Edge’s guitar. The onslaught is unrelenting, both longer songs like “Demons” and “Ten Double Zero” and shorter cuts “Nothing Forever” and the sample-laced opener “Choose Hate” brim with aggressive misanthropy, the will against. Even the penultimate “Baerial,” which offers a glimmer of melody, continues to crush, and starting with a slow drum progression, closer “Cosmic Dissolution” barely tops two and a half minutes, but it brings thorough reassurance of the project’s destructive force before its final drone rounds out. One never knows with Edge if a given band will ever have a follow-up, but as ever, the quality is consistent. In this case, brutally so.
Actually, if you want to get technical about it, Gypsy Chief Goliath are citizens of Ontario, but you’d never know it from listening to their third album, Citizens of Nowhere, which if you had to pin a geographic locale on it might be more of a fit for New Orleans than Canada. The Pitch Black Records release sees the triple-guitar-plus-harmonica six-piece outfit dug deep in Southern metal grooves, marked out by the burl-bringing vocals of frontman/guitarist Al “The Yeti” Bones, formerly of Mister Bones, Serpents of Secrecy and The Mighty Nimbus and the chug-and-churn of cuts like “Black Samurai” and the shuffle of “We Died for This.” The title-track winds its central riff with thickened-up ‘70s boogie, while “Elephant in the Room” and “The Return” space out a bit more, and the closing Black Sabbath cover “Killing Yourself to Live” (a CD bonus track) plays it loyal structurally while dude’ing up the original like it was on hormone therapy.
Hard-touring Richmond genre-benders Inter Arma are due for a landmark release. Their 2014 single-song EP, The Cavern, was wildly well received and earned every bit of praise it got. Their follow-up to that is Paradise Gallows, their third album and second for Relapse behind 2013’s Sky Burial (track stream here). Is Paradise Gallows that landmark? Hell if I know. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mikey Allred, who also guests on trombone, bass violin, organ and noise, Inter Arma’s third brings an expansive 70 minutes of bleak progressivism, conceptually and sonically broad enough to be considered brilliant and still weighted enough that the prevailing vibe is extremity in their blend of sludge, doom, black metal, post-metal, atmospherics, and a moody acoustic closer. The only real danger is that it might take listeners time to digest – because it’s a lot to take in, all those twists and turns in “Violent Constellations,” particularly after the plod of the title-track – but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find Inter Arma inhabiting any number of year-end lists for 2016. Once again, they earn it.
Virginian bruisers Helgamite manage to cover a deceptive amount of sonic ground on their second LP, Hypnagogia (on CD through Lost Apparitions with vinyl soon on Flesh Vessel), spending plenty of time in dense-toned sludge metal but using that as a foundation for a wider range of explorations, winding up in blastbeats by the time 13-minute side B finale “The Secret” comes around, but by then having torn through the aggro-thrash of “Origins,” lumbered through the mosher “Æstrosion” and topped off “Shaman’s Veil” with math-metal guitar fits melded to a saxophone arrangement. Growls from vocalist William Breeden and Jonah Butler’s drums tie it all together as guitarist Casey Firkin (also sax) and bassist Matthew Beahm pull off intermittently jazzy runs, but impressively, Helgamite never sound in danger of losing sight of the songs they’re serving, and Hypnogogia is stronger for its unwillingness to waste a second of its runtime, even in the aforementioned “The Secret” or its 10-minute side A counterpart, “Snowdrifter.”
Get it? Children of the Chron? I’ll admit it took me a second. While I was thinking about it, Allston, Massachusetts, duo Mollusk doled out sludge-punk-metal beatings via raw tones and shouts and a general sense of checked-out attitude, “Glacier” reminding of earliest, least-poppy Floor, but cuts like “Demon Queen” and “When You’re Gone” finding guitarist Hank Rose using a purposefully monotone vocal approach that works well over slower parts. Rose is joined in Mollusk by drummer Adam O’Day, and though I’ve already noted that the 11-track album is raw, their sound wants nothing for impact in the low end or any other end for that matter. Rather, the harsher aspects become part of the aesthetic throughout Children of the Chron and the band successfully navigates its own mire without getting lost in either its own “Torture Chamber” or “Zombie Apocalypse,” which like opener “Ride the #9,” is almost certainly a song about life in the Boston area.