Inter Arma Announce East Coast Tour Supporting Sulphur English

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

inter arma

I know by now you’ve heard Inter Arma‘s latest masterpiece Sulphur English (review here) and so you don’t need me to recount for you its multifaceted righteousness, but if you’ll indulge me just a minute, consider how much even compared to the work the band was doing a few years ago their sound has become not a mash of different styles together — not doom one moment, death metal the next, post-this or that along the way — but one cohesive and identifiable aesthetic that they have made their own. It’s an easy-pick candidate for one of the best metal albums of the year, which makes it all the more of an exciting time to see the band live if you’re able. I don’t know what Inter Arma‘s future holds after Sulphur English, but it’s not a stretch to think this is a landmark moment for them one way or the other. I think I may have just talked myself into going to this show.

Dates came down the PR wire:

inter arma tour

INTER ARMA ANNOUNCE EAST COAST TOUR IN AUGUST & SEPTEMBER

Sulphur English out now on Relapse Records

Following the release of their universally acclaimed new album Sulphur English, Richmond’s Inter Arma have announced another string of North American tour dates in support of it. The band will tour along the east coast in late August into September with Creeping Death in tow. Check out the dates and venues listed below.

Out last April on Relapse, Sulphur English finds Inter Arma mining deeper in the proggy organic doom fields that made their prior albums so thrilling while expanding further the on the psych-folk strain that made those albums’ peaks seem so lofty. Despite all the new territory being covered both musically and lyrically, Sulphur English isn’t an experiment. It’s not Inter Arma testing the waters. It’s a necessary step in the evolution of a band whose music remains unclassifiable. Few bands make music as engrossing as Inter Arma; their lengthy, almost meditative songs rumble patiently forward until you’re ready to get thrown off a bridge — and then they throw you, with great force.

See Inter Arma on tour later this summer and look for more news from the band soon. Order your copy of Sulphur English here.

INTER ARMA – ON TOUR:
August 30 Washington, DC @ Atlas Brew Works *
August 31 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie *
September 1 Northampton, MA @ RPM Fest *
September 2 Portland, ME @ Geno’s Rock Club *
September 3 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus *
September 4 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place *
September 5 Hamtramck, MI @ Small’s *
September 6 Youngstown, OH @ Blackout Cookout
September 7 Harrisonburg, VA @ The Golden Pony *
* w/ Creeping Death

INTER ARMA Is:
Mike Paparo – vocals
T.J. Childers – drums
Steven Russell – guitars
Trey Dalton – guitars
Andrew Lacour – bass

http://relapse.com/inter-arma-sulphur-english/
https://www.facebook.com/INTERARMA/
https://www.instagram.com/interarmamusic/
http://interarma.bandcamp.com/

Inter Arma, Sulphur English (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Tia Carrera, Inter Arma, Volcano, Wet Cactus, Duskwood, Lykantropi, Kavod, Onioroshi, Et Mors, Skånska Mord

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

quarterly-review

Day four. I should’ve known we’d hit a snag at some point in the week, but it happened yesterday afternoon when Windows decided I desperately needed some update or other and then crapped the bed in the middle of said update. I wound up taking my laptop to a repair guy down the road in the afternoon, who said the hard drive needed to be wiped and have a full reinstall. Pretty brutal. He was going to back up what was there and get on it, said I could pick it up today. We’ll see how that goes, I guess. Also, happy Fourth, if America’s your thing. Let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Tia Carrera, Visitors / Early Purple

tia carrera visitors early purple

They had a single out between (review here), but the two-song LP Visitors / Early Purple is Tia Carrera‘s first album since 2011’s Cosmic Priestess (review here). The Austin, Texas, three-piece — which now includes bassist Curt Christianson of Dixie Witch alongside guitarist Jason Morales and drummer Erik Conn — haven’t missed a beat in terms of creating heavy psychedelic sprawl, and as the side-consuming “Visitors” (18:32) and “Early Purple” (16:28) play out, it’s with a true jammed sensibility; that feeling that sooner or later the wheels are going to come off. They don’t, at least not really, but the danger always makes it more exciting, and Morales‘ tone has been much missed. In the intervening years, the social media generation has come up to revere Earthless for doing much of what Tia Carrera do, but there’s always room for more jams as far as I’m concerned, and it’s refreshing to have Tia Carrera back to let people know what they’ve been missing. Here’s hoping it’s not another eight years.

Tia Carrera on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

 

Inter Arma, Sulphur English

inter arma sulphur english

I can’t help but think Inter Arma‘s Sulphur English is the album Morbid Angel should have made after Covenant. And yes, that applies to the harmonies and organ of “Stillness” as well. The fourth full-length (third for Relapse) from the Richmond, Virginia, outfit is a beastly, severe and soulful 66-minute stretch of consuming, beyond-genre extremity. It punishes with purpose and scope, and its sense of brutality comes accompanied by a willful construction of atmosphere. Longer pieces like “The Atavist’s Meridian” and the closing title-track lend a feeling of drama, but at no point does Sulphur English feel like a put-on, and as Inter Arma continue their push beyond the even-then-inventive sludge of their beginnings, they’ve become something truly groundbreaking in metal, doing work that can only be called essential to push forward into new ground and seeming to swallow the universe whole in the meantime. It’s the kind of record that one can only hope becomes influential, both in its purpose toward individualism and its sheer physical impact.

Inter Arma on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Volcano, The Island

volcano the island

So you’ve got Harsh Toke‘s Gabe Messer on keys and vocals and JOY guitarist/Pharlee drummer Zach Oakley on guitar, and bassist Billy Ellsworth (also of Loom) and Matt Oakley on drums, plus it seems whoever else happened to be around the studio that day — and in San Diego, that could be any number of players — making up Volcano, whose debut, The Island (on Tee Pee) melds Afrobeat funk-rock with the band’s hometown penchant for boogie. The songs are catchy — “10,000 Screamin’ Souls,” “Naked Prey,” “Skewered,” “No Evil, Know Demon”; hooks abound — but there’s a feeling of kind of an unthinking portrayal of “the islander” as a savage that I can’t quite get past. There’s inherently an element of cultural appropriation to rock and roll anyway, but even more here, it seems. They make it a party, to be sure, but there’s a political side to what Afrobeat was originally about that goes unacknowledged here. They might get there, they might not. They’ve got the groove down on their first record, and that’s not nothing.

Volcano on Instagram

Tee Pee Records website

 

Wet Cactus, Dust, Hunger and Gloom

wet cactus dust hunger and gloom

Sometimes you just miss one, and I’ll admit that Wet CactusDust, Hunger and Gloom got by me. It likely would’ve been in the Quarterly Review a year ago had I not been robbed last Spring, but either way, the Spanish outfit’s second long-player is a fuzz rocker’s delight, a welcoming and raucous vibe persisting through “Full Moon Over My Head,” which is the second cut of the total five and the only one of the bunch under seven minutes long. They bring desert-jammy vibes to the songs surrounding, setting an open tone with “So Long” at the outset that the centerpiece “Aquelarre” fleshes out even further instrumentally ahead of the penultimate title-track’s classic build and payoff and the earth-toned nine-minute finale “Sleepy Trip,” which is nothing if not self-aware in its title as it moves toward the driving crescendo of the record. All throughout, the mood is as warm as the distortion, and Wet Cactus do right by staying true to the roots of desert rock. It’s not every record I’d want to review a year after the fact; think of it that way.

Wet Cactus on Thee Facebooks

Wet Cactus on Bandcamp

 

Duskwood, The Long Dark

duskwood the long dark

A follow-up EP to Duskwood‘s 2016 debut long-player, Desert Queen, the four-track The Long Dark is a solid showcase of their progression as songwriters and in the capital-‘d’ Desertscene style that has come to epitomize much of the UK heavy rock underground, taking loyalism to the likes of Kyuss and topping it off with the energy of modern London-based practitioners Steak. The four-piece roll out a right-on fuzzy groove in “Mars Rover” after opening with “Space Craft” and show more of a melodic penchant in “Crook and Flail” before tying it all together with “Nomad” at the finish. They warn on their Bandcamp page this is ‘Part 1,’ so it may not be all that long before they resurface. Fair enough as they’ve clearly found their footing in terms of style and songwriting here, and at that point the best thing to do is keep growing. As it stands, The Long Dark probably isn’t going to kick off any stylistic revolution, but there’s something to be said for the band’s ability to execute their material in conversation with what else is out there at the moment.

Duskwood on Thee Facebooks

Duskwood on Bandcamp

 

Lykantropi, Spirituosa

Lykantropi-Spirituosa

Sweet tones and harmonies and a classic, sun-coated progressivism persist on Lykantropi‘s second album, Spirituosa (on Lightning Records), basking in melodic flow across nine songs and 43 minutes that begin with the rockers “Wild Flowers” and “Vestigia” and soon move into the well-paired “Darkness” and “Sunrise” as the richer character of the LP unfolds. “Songbird” makes itself a highlight with its more laid back take, and the title-track follows with enough swing to fill whatever quota you’ve got, while “Queen of Night” goes full ’70s boogie and “Seven Blue” imagines Tull and Fleetwood Mac vibes — Flutewood Mac! — and closer and longest track “Sällsamma Natt” underscores the efficiency of songwriting that’s been at play all the while amidst all that immersive gorgeousness and lush melodicism. They include a bit of push in the capper, and well they should, but go out with a swagger that playfully counteracts the folkish humility of the proceedings. Will fly under many radars. Shouldn’t.

Lykantropi on Thee Facebooks

Lightning Records website

 

Kavod, Wheel of Time

kavod wheel of time

As Italian trio Kavod shift from opener “Samsara” into “Absolution” on their debut EP, Wheel of Time, the vocals become a kind of chant for the verse that would seem to speak to the meditative intention of the release on the whole. They will again on the more patient closer “Mahatma” too, and fair enough as the band seem to be trying to find a place for themselves in the post-Om or Zaum sphere of spiritual exploration through volume, blending that aesthetic with a more straight-ahead songwriting methodology as manifest in “Samsara” particularly. They have the tones right on as they begin this inward and outward journey, and it will be interesting to hear in subsequent work if they grow to work in longer, possibly-slower forms or push their mantras forward at the rate they do here, but as it stands, they take a reverent, astral viewpoint with their sound and feel dug in on that plane of existence. It suits them.

Kavod on Thee Facebooks

Kavod on Bandcamp

 

Onioroshi, Beyond These Mountains

onioroshi beyond these mountains

Onioroshi flow smoothly from atmospheric post-sludge to more thrusting heavy rock and they take their time doing it, too. With their debut album, Beyond These Mountains, the Italian heavy proggers present four tracks the shortest of which, “Locusta,” runs 10:54. Bookending are “Devilgrater” (14:17) and “Eternal Snake (Mantra)” (20:30) and the penultimate “Socrate” checks in at 12:29, so yes, the trio have plenty of chances to flesh out their ideas as and explore as they will. Their style leans toward post-rock by the end of “Devilgrater,” but never quite loses its sense of impact amid the ambience, and it’s not until “Socrate” that they go full-on drone, setting a cinematic feel that acts as a lead-in for the initial build of the closer which leads to an apex wash and a more patient finish than one might expect given the trip to get there. Beyond These Mountains is particularly enticing because it’s outwardly familiar but nuanced enough to still strike an individual note. It’s easy to picture Onioroshi winding up on Argonauta or some other suitably adventurous imprint.

Onioroshi on Thee Facebooks

Onioroshi on Bandcamp

 

Et Mors, Lux in Morte

et mors lux in morte

Whoever in Maryland/D.C. then-four-piece Et Mors decided to record their Lux in Morte EP in their practice space had the right idea. The morose death-doom three-songer takes cues from USBM in the haunting rawness of “Incendium Ater,” and even though the 19-minute “House of Nexus” comes through somewhat clearer — it was recorded to tape at Shenandoah University — it remains infected by the filth and grit of the opener. Actually, “infected” might be the word all around here, as the mold-sludge of closer “Acid Bender” creeps along at an exposed-flesh, feedback-drenched lurch, scathing as much in intent as execution, playing like a death metal record at half-speed and that much harsher because they so clearly know what they’re doing. If you think it matters that they mixed stuff from two different sessions, you’re way off base on the sound overall here. It’s patch-worthy decay metal, through and through. Concerns of audio fidelity need not apply.

Et Mors on Thee Facebooks

Et Mors on Bandcamp

 

Skånska Mord, Blues from the Tombs

skanska mord blues from the tombs

When Sweden’s Skånska Mord are singing about the deep freeze in album opener “Snow” on the Transubstans-released Blues from the Tombs, I believe it. It’s been seven years since Small Stone issued their Paths to Charon LP (review here), and the new record finds them more fully dug into a classic rocker’s take on hard-blues, rolling with Iommic riffs and a mature take on what earliest Spiritual Beggars were able to capture in terms of a modern-retro sound. “Snow” and “Simon Says” set an expectation for hooks that the more meandering “Edge of Doom” pulls away from, while “The Never Ending Greed” brings out the blues harp over an abbreviated two minutes and leads into a more expansive side B with “Blinded by the Light” giving way to the wah-bassed “Sun,” the barroom blueser “Death Valley Blues” and the returning nod of closer “The Coming of the Second Wave,” stood out by its interwoven layers of soloing and hypnosis before its final cut. It’s been a while, but they’ve still got it.

Skånska Mord on Thee Facebooks

Transubstans Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: Torche, Spillage, Pharlee, Dali’s Llama, Speedealer, Mt. Echo, Monocluster, Picaporters, Beaten by Hippies, Luna Sol

Posted in Reviews on July 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again. The Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. It’s four in the morning and I’m getting ready to start the day. I haven’t even managed to pour myself coffee yet, which even as I type it out feels like a crime against humanity, such as it is. I’ll get there though.

Wednesday in the Quarterly Review marks the halfway point of the week, and as we’ll hit 30 reviews at the end, it’s half of the total 60 as well, so yeah. Feeling alright so far. As always, good music helps. I’ve added a couple things for consideration to my ongoing best-of-the-year list for December, so that’s something. And I think I’ll probably be doing so again today, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Torche, Admission

torche admission

15 years later and Torche‘s sound is still expanding. To that point, it’s never sounded quite as expansive as it does on Admission, their fifth album and second for Relapse behind 2015’s Restarter (review here). There are still plenty of straight-ahead heavy riffs on cuts like “Reminder” or “Slide” or the bomb-tone-laden “Infierno,” but in the title-track, in “Times Missing,” the closer “Changes Come,” “Slide” and even the 1:30-long “What Was,” there’s a sense of spaciousness and float to the guitars to contrast all that crunch, and it effectively takes the place of some of the manic feel of their earlier work. It’s consistent with the brightness of their melodies in songs like “Extremes of Consciousness” and the early pusher “Submission,” and it adds to their style rather than takes away, building on the mid-paced feel of the last album in such a way as to demonstrate the band’s continued growth long after they’d be well within their rights to rest on their laurels. Sharp, consistent in its level of songwriting, mature and engaging across its 36-minute entirety, Admission is everything one might ask of Torche‘s fifth album.

Torche on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Spillage, Blood of Angels

spillage blood of angels

If you, like me, believe doom to be the guardian style of classic heavy metal — you could also argue power metal there, but that’s why it’s an argument — Chicago’s Spillage might be the band to help make your case. With their own Ronnie James Dio in Elvin Rodriguez (not a comparison I make lightly) and a connection to the Trouble family tree via founding guitarist Tony Spillman, who also played in Earthen Grave, the band unfurl trad-metal poise throughout their 53-minute second album, Blood of Angels, hitting touchstones like Sabbath, Priest, and indeed Trouble on a chugger like “Free Man,” a liberal dose of organ on “Rough Grooved Surface” adding to the classic feel — Rainbow, maybe? — and even the grandiose ballad “Voice of Reason” that appears before the closing Sabbath cover “Dirty Women” staying loyal to the cause. I can’t and won’t fault them for that, as in both their originals and in the cover, their hearts are obviously in it all the way and the sound is right on, the sleek swing in the second half of “Evil Doers” punctuated by squealing guitar just as it should be. Mark it a win for the forces of metal, maybe less so for the angels.

Spillage on Thee Facebooks

Qumran Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Pharlee, Pharlee

pharlee pharlee

San Diego strikes again with Pharlee‘s self-titled debut on Tee Pee Records, a 29-minute boogie rock shove that’s marked out by the significant pipes of Macarena Rivera up front, the shuffling snare work of Zach Oakley (also guitar in JOY and Volcano) and the organ work of Garret Lekas throughout, winding around and accentuating the riffs of Justin “Figgy” Figueroa and the air-push bass of Dylan Donovan. It’s a proven formula by now, but Pharlee‘s Pharlee is like the band who comes on stage in the middle of the festival and surprises everyone and reminds them why they’re there in the first place. The energy of “Darkest Hour” is infectious, and the bluesier take on Freddie King‘s “Going Down” highlights a stoner shred in Figueroa‘s guitar that fits superbly ahead of the fuzz freakout, all-go closer “Sunward,” and whatever stylistic elements (and personnel, for that matter) might be consistent with their hometown’s well-populated underground, Pharlee take that radness and make it their own.

Pharlee on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dali’s Llama, Mercury Sea

dalis llama mercury sea

Long-running desert rockers Dali’s Llama return with Mercury Sea, their first release since 2017’s The Blossom EP (review here) and their first full-length since 2016’s Dying in the Sun (review here), sounding reinvigorated in rockers like opener “Weary” and the subsequent grunge-vibing “Choking on the Same,” “When Ember Laughs” and the garage-style “She’s Not Here.” Persistently underappreciated, their albums always have a distinct feel, and Mercury Sea is no different, finding a place for itself between the laid-back desert blues and punkier fare on a cut like “Someday, Someday,” even delving into psychedelic folk for a while in the 6:54 longest track “Goblin Fruit,” and a bit of lead guitar scorch bringing it all together on closer “All My Fault,” highlighting the theme of love that’s been playing out all the while. The sincerity behind that and everything Dali’s Llama does is palpable as ever in these 11 tracks, an more than 25 years on from their inception, they continue to deliver memorable songs in wholly unpretentious fashion. That’s just what they do.

Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dali’s Llama on Bandcamp

 

Speedealer, Blue Days Black Nights

speedealer blue days black nights

Speedealer ride again! And just about at top speed, too. The Dallas, Texas, outfit were last heard from circa 2003, and their turnabout is marked with the self-release of Blue Days Black Nights, a fury-driven 10-tracker that takes the best of their heavy-rock-via-punk delivery and beefs up tones to suit another decade and a half’s worth of hard living and accumulated disaffection. The Dallas four-piece blaze through songs like “Never Knew,” the hardcore-punk “Losing My Shit,” the more metallic “Nothing Left to Say,” and the careening aggro-swagger of “Rheumatism,” but there’s still some variety to be had throughout, as highlight “Sold Out,” “War Nicht Genung” and “Shut Up” find the band no less effective working at a somewhat scaled-back pace. However fast they’re going, though the attitude remains much the same, and it’s “fuck you fuck this” fuckall all the way. Those familiar with their past work would expect no less, and time has clearly not repaired the chip on Speedealer‘s shoulder. Their anger is our gain.

Speedealer on Thee Facebooks

Speedealer webstore

 

Mt. Echo, Cirrus

mt echo cirrus

Based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the instrumentalist four-piece Mt. Echo present a somewhat noisier take on Russian Circles-style heavy post-rock with their nine-song/46-minute debut, Cirrus. Not at all shy about incorporating a noise rock riff or a more weighted groove, the dual-guitar outfit nonetheless spend significant time patiently engaged in the work of atmosphere-building, so that their material develops a genuine ebb and flow as songs tie one into the next to give the entire affair a whole-album feel. It is their first outing, but all the more striking for that in terms of how much of a grip they seem to have on their approach and what they want to be doing in a song like “Lighthouse at the End of Time” with airy lead and chugging rhythm guitars intertwining and meeting head-on for post-YOB crashes and an eventual turn into a harder-pushing progression. Ambience comes (mostly) to the fore in the seven-minute “Monsters and the Men Who Made Them,” but wherever they go on Cirrus, Mt. Echo bring that atmospheric density along with them. The proverbial ‘band to watch.’

Mt. Echo on Thee Facebooks

Mt. Echo on Bandcamp

 

Monocluster, Ocean

Monocluster Ocean

Over the course of five longform tracks on Ocean, Germany’s Monocluster build fluidly on the accomplishments of their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), greatly expanding on the heft and general reach of their sound while, as opener “Ocean in Our Bones” demonstrates, still holding onto the ability to affect a killer hook when they need one. Ocean is not a minor undertaking at 56 minutes, but it dedicates its time to constructing a world in cuts like “Leviathan” and “A Place Beyond,” the giant wall of fuzzed low end becoming the backdrop for the three-part story being told that ends with the 11:43 “Home” standing alone, as graceful and progressive as it is brash and noisy — a mirror in that regard to the nine-minute centerpiece “Guns and Greed” and a fitting summation of Ocean‘s course. They keep this up for very long and people are going to start to notice. The album is a marked step forward from where Monocluster were a few years ago, and sets up the expectation of continued growth their next time out while keeping a focus on the essential elements of songwriting as well. If we’re looking for highlights, I’d pick “Leviathan,” but honestly, it’s anyone’s game.

Monocluster on Thee Facebooks

Monocluster on Bandcamp

 

Picaporters, XXIII

picaporters xxiii

The third full-length from Argentine trio Picaporters marks another level of achievement for them as a band. XXIII arrives three years after El Horror Oculto (review here) and is unquestionably their broadest-cast spectrum to-date. The album comes bookended by eight-minute opener “La Soga de los Muertos” and “M.I.,” an 18-minute finale jam that would give a Deep Purple live record reason to blush. Soulful guitar stretches out over a vast rhythmic landscape, and all this after “Jinetes del Universo” motorpunks out and “Vencida” pulls together Floydian melo-prog, “Numero 5” precedes the closer with acoustic interplay and the early “Despertar” offers a little bit of everything and a lot of what-the-hell-just-happened. These guys started out on solid footing with their 2013 debut, Elefantes (review here), but neither that nor El Horror Oculto really hinted at the scope they’d make sound so natural throughout XXIII, which is the kind of record that leaves you no choice but to call it progressive.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

Picaporters on Bandcamp

 

Beaten by Hippies, Beaten by Hippies

beaten by hippies beaten by hippies

As their moniker hints, there’s some edge of danger to Belgium’s Beaten by Hippies‘ self-titled debut (on Polderrecords), but the album ultimately resolves itself more toward songwriting and hooks in the spirit of a meaner-sounding Queens of the Stone Age in songs like “Space Tail” and “More is More,” finding common ground with the energy of Truckfighters though never quite delving so far into fuzzy tones. That’s not at all to the band’s detriment — rather, it helps the four-piece begin to cast their identity as they do in this material, whether that’s happening in the volatile sudden volume trades in “Dust” or the mission statement “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which feels geared a bit to the anthemic but would probably work just as well in whatever pub they happen to be terrorizing on a given evening. Their delivery skirts the line between heavy and hard rock as only that vaguely commercially viable European-style can, but the songs are right there waiting to take the stage at whatever festival is this weekend and blow the roof — or the sky, I guess, if it’s outdoors — off the place.

Beaten by Hippies on Thee Facebooks

Polderrecords website

 

Luna Sol, Below the Deep

luna sol below the deep

Guitarist/vocalist Dave Angstrom may be best known in heavy rock circles for his work alongside John Garcia in Hermano, but in leading the four-piece Luna Sol through their 12-song/50-minute sophomore outing, Below the Deep (on Slush Fund Recordings), he proves a capable frontman as well as songwriter. Sharing vocal duties with bassist Shannon Fahnestock while David Burke handles guitar and Justin Baier drums, Angstrom is a steady presence at the fore through the well-constructed ’90s-flavored heavy rock of “Below the Deep” and “Along the Road” early, the later “Garden of the Gods” playing toward a more complex arrangement after the strutting “The Dying Conglomerate” paints a suitably grim State of the Union and ahead of the fuzz-rich ending in “Home,” which keeps its melodic purpose even as it crashes out to its languid finish. Whether it’s the charged “Man’s Worth Killin'” or the winding fuzz of “Mammoth Cave,” one can definitely hear some Hermano at work, but Luna Sol distinguish themselves just the same.

Luna Sol on Thee Facebooks

Slush Fund Recordings webstore

 

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Monolord Touring Europe and the US This Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monolord

Okay, so let’s assume that any minute now, Monolord are going to announce their next album will be out sometime this Fall. I mean, even if you tour as hard as Monolord generally, do you really book back-to-back European and US tours without the record out to support? Nah, pretty much you can figure that if it’s not out before, it’ll be out sometime while they’re on the road. Recall as well it’s their debut for Relapse. It’s a significant moment for the band, and obviously they want to make the most of it. Well they should, given the work they’ve put in to this point.

And yeah, that’s great and all, but I’m gonna go ahead and get even more stoked on the fact that BlackWater HolyLight are doing the US shows with them. Their once-labelmates on RidingEasy haven’t been east yet from their home in Oregon so far as I know, so I’m absolutely putting that Brooklyn show in my calendar. Sounds like a good time.

Dates from the PR wire:

monolord poster

MONOLORD: Announce Fall Europe & US Headline Tour Dates

Swedish hard rock trio MONOLORD announce headlining European and US tour dates throughout the Fall. First, MONOLORD will tour Europe from September 28 through October 26 with Firebreather. The following week, the band heads to the states from November 5 through 27 with Blackwater Holylight. All confirmed tour dates are available below.

Stay tuned for more MONOLORD news in the near future.

MONOLORD Tour Dates:

Aug 08-10 Moledo, PT Sonic Blast
Sep 06-08 Sao Paulo, BR Setembro Negro Festival

— All Headline EU Dates Sep 28 – Oct 26 w/ Firebreather —

Sep 28 London, UK @ The Garage (w/ Ufomammut)
Sep 29 Sheffield, UK @ HRH Doom V Stoner
Sep 30 Bournemouth, UK @ The Anvil
Oct 01 Utrecht, NL @ De Helling
Oct 02 Brussels, BE @ Magasin 4
Oct 03 Pratteln, CH @ Up In Smoke Festival
Oct 04 Reims, FR @ La Cartonnerie
Oct 05 Paris, FR @ Saturday Mud Fever Festival
Oct 07 Dortmund, DE @ Junkyard
Oct 08 Nuremberg, DE @ B-Zau
Oct 09 Cologne, DE @ Helios 37
Oct 10 Mainz, DE @ Schon Schon
Oct 11 Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
Oct 16 Oslo, NO @ John Dee
Oct 17 Gothenburg, SE @ Sticky Fingers
Oct 18 Malmo, SE @ Babel
Oct 23 Linkoping, SE @ The Crypt
Oct 24 Stockholm, SE @ Close Up Baten
Oct 25 Tampere, FI @ Olympia
Oct 26 Helsinki, FI @ Nosturi

— All Headline US Dates Nov 04 – 27 w/ Blackwater Holylight —

Nov 05 San Diego, CA @ Brick by Brick
Nov 06 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
Nov 07 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
Nov 09 Austin, TX @ Levitation x Relapse Showcase
Nov 10 Lafayette, LA @ Freetown Boom Boom Room
Nov 11 New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
Nov 12 Atlanta, GA @ The 529
Nov 13 Asheville, NC @ Mothlight
Nov 14 Richmond, VA @ Camel
Nov 15 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
Nov 16 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
Nov 17 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Nov 20 Chicago, IL @ Reggies
Nov 21 Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle
Nov 22 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
Nov 23 Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
Nov 25 Denver, CO @ Marquis
Nov 27 Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom

MONOLORD Is:
Esben Willems – Drums
Thomas Jäger – Guitar Vocals
Mika Häkki – Bass

monolord.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/MonolordSweden
monolord.com
http://relapse.com
https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords/

Monolord, Rust (2017)

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Torche Set July 12 Release for Admission; “Slide” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

torche (Photo by Keans Llamera)

So Torche have a new bassist in Eric Hernandez, who joins guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks, guitarist Jon Nuñez (formerly bass) and drummer Rick Smith, for their fifth album, Admission. The record is due out July 12 on Relapse Records, and will be the follow-up to 2015’s Restarter (review here), which I really dug but seemed to catch internet-flack for being slower and not as maniacally upbeat as some of their past work. That’s something Nuñez seems to implicitly acknowledge below when he talks about the new lineup being more inspired and Hernandez being excited to be in the group. So it goes, I guess. I still thought that album was cool.

Torche of course have a bunch of tour dates to go with the release of Admission, and preorders are up and there’s the new single “Slide” playing below that you can dig into as well. So, uh, do that.

PR wire:

torche admission

TORCHE: Announce New Album Admission Coming July 12; Share First Single “Slide”

Miami’s heavy rock quartet TORCHE release Admission, the band’s fifth album, and first new music since 2015’s critically-lauded Restarter, on July 12 via Relapse Records.

“This album is more revealing of who we are. I think the core of the band is happier and more inspired than we have been in some time, and we’ve got somebody new who’s excited to be a part of it. It’s just refreshing. It feels right. It feels real,” says guitar player Jon Nuñez, referencing the band’s new line-up which includes a shift from bass to guitar for Nuñez and the addition of bass player Eric Hernandez (Wrong). Steve Brooks (guitar/vocals) and Rick Smith (drummer) round-out the band.

“Slide,” a new song from the Nuñez produced album, is streaming now. “’Slide’ is one of the first songs Eric came to the table with, fully realized and arranged,” explains Smith. “Eric is a total beast of a songwriter. I suggested he use the first three Gary Numan records as inspiration and he came back at us with some melodically sound material that nailed the Torche vibe.”

The new song arrives as Torche announce their first wave of tour dates, including performances at this year’s Levitation, The Fest and Sled Island festivals. Tickets for all non-festival dates are on-sale this Friday at 10 am eastern.

Admission pre-orders are available now via Relapse’s webstore (http://relapse.com/torche-admission/). Digital downloads and streaming services are available at http://ffm.to/torcheadmission.

Admission cover; artwork by Richard Vergez

Admission Tracklist:
From Here
Submission
Slide
What Was
Times Missing
Admission
Reminder
Extremes of Consciousness
On The Wire
Infierno
Changes Come

The 11-song album is available in various formats (CD/LP/CS/Digital) with several highly-limited colored vinyl options on-sale now. The album artwork was created by Richard Vergez, a Cuban-American visual artist, who is known for his handmade collages that highlight the meeting of human and technological elements in our modern society. His work has been shown at No Romance Galleries (TriBeCa), Urban Arts Society (Chicago) and Kids of Dada (London).

TORCHE Tour Dates:

May 31 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Doomed & Stoned Festival
June 15 – Denver, CO @ Electric Funeral Fest IV
June 19 – Calgary, AB @ Sled Island Festival
July 26 – Tampa, FL @ The Crowbar
July 27 – Jacksonville, FL @ The Justice Pub
July 28 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
July 29 – Harrisonburg, VA @ Golden Pony
July 31 – Washington, D.C. @ Black Cat
August 1 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
August 2 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Bazaar
August 3 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
August 4 – Pawtucket, RI @ The Met
August 5 – Hamden, CT @ Space Ballroom
August 6 – Lancaster, PA @ Chameleon Club
August 7 – Wilmington, NC @ Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern
August 8 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
August 9 – Orlando, FL @ Henao Center
August 10 – Miami, FL @ Las Rosa’s
September 21 – Asheville, NC @ Heavy Mountain
November 1 – Gainesville, FL @ FEST
November 9 – Austin, TX @ Levitation

torchemusic.com
facebook.com/torcheofficial
instagram.com/torche_band
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Torche, “Slide” official video

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Ecstatic Vision Finish Work on New Album; Touring with Heavy Temple

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ecstatic vision

New stuff from Ecstatic Vision is a win. Their next record — it’ll be their third LP — is reportedly in the can, and that’s awfully nifty, so I’d expect news about it, oh, say, about three minutes after this post goes live. Just so I can still be behind as I am in posting these tour dates. I try to keep up. And fail. Consistently. Nonetheless, I’m curious to see who’ll be handling the release for the upcoming offering from the Philadelphia psych forerunners, since Heavy Psych Sounds put out their 2018 Under the Influence EP (discussed here), and their two records to-date, 2017’s Raw Rock Fury (review here) and 2015’s Sonic Praise (review here), came out on Relapse. Could be either of those or of course someone else. I have a hard time imagining anyone wouldn’t want to get in on putting out their stuff.

For what it’s worth, Heavy Psych Sounds is presenting the tour, and Ecstatic Vision will play the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest out on the West Coast. They’ll also be back in Europe this Fall for Keep it Low in Munich, and they’ll presumably have more dates TBA around that. So, more to come. I’ll try to keep up.

For now, here’s this from the PR wire:

ecstatic vision tour

Ecstatic Vision Announces U.S. Tour Dates

Philly Krautrock Crew Gears Up for Album Number Three with 15 City Spring Live Trek

Philadelphia heavy psych band Ecstatic Vision has announced a spring U.S. headlining tour. The dangerous live group, known for its hybrid sound that merges the sound and style of ’70s rock acts like Hawkwind, Can and MC5 with the feel and flow of Afrobeat artists such as Fela Kuti and Africa 70, will launch the two week trek on May 2 in Baltimore, MD. Support on the Ecstatic Vision tour will be provided by fellow Philadelphians Heavy Temple.

As part of the 15 city tour, Ecstatic Vision will perform live as part of the recently-announced Heavy Psych Sounds Fests, a celebration of the Italian underground rock label of the same name to which the group is signed. Ecstatic Vision will join labelmates Mothership, Duel, Crypt Trip and more on both May 10 in Fort Worth, TX and May 11 in Austin, TX. For more details on these HPS Fest shows, visit these locations.

Ecstatic Vision is touring in support of its EP of space / zam rock covers, ‘Under the Influence’ (2018), its 2015 debut album, ‘Sonic Praise’, and the band’s ballsy experimentation into Detroit rock meets white noise, ‘Raw Rock Fury’ (2017). Ecstatic Vision recently completed work on its as-yet-untitled new album, and is expected to debut some of its new songs live over the course of the upcoming tour.

“”We are stoked to get back on the road to play live at places we haven’t been in a long time, and with a new record in the can,” says vocalist / guitarist Doug Sabolick. “Yes you heard right! Expect news on our new LP soon as well. See you at the shows!”

Ecstatic Vision tour dates:
May 2 Baltimore, MD The Metro Gallery *
May 3 Richmond, VA Wonderland RVA
May 4 Raleigh, NC The Pour House Music Hall
May 5 Asheville, NC The Odditorium
May 6 Charlotte, NC The Milestone Club
May 7 Columbia, SC Hunter-Gatherer Brewery & Alehouse
May 9 Memphis, TN Growlers
May 10 Fort Worth, TX Lola’s
May 11 Austin, TX The Lost Well
May 12 Denton, TX Andy’s Bar
May 14 St. Louis, MO Fubar
May 15 Nashville, TN The East Room
May 16 Johnson City, TN The Hideaway
May 17 Washington, DC The Pinch *
May 18 Harrisonburg, VA The Golden Pony *
* = No Heavy Temple

Ecstatic Vision is:
Doug Sabolick (vocals / guitar)
Michael Field Connor (bass)
Kevin Nickles (saxophone)
Ricky Culp (drums)

https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticvision
https://twitter.com/ecstaticvision_
https://www.instagram.com/ecstaticvision

Ecstatic Vision, Under the Influence (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: Mastodon, Leviathan

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Mastodon, Leviathan (2004)

Later this summer will mark 15 years since the release of Mastodon‘s second album, Leviathan. No doubt there will be something down to celebrate the anniversary, either by the band itself or by the label, Relapse Records, who put it out, and one could hardly argue. What was one of the best heavy albums of the aughts remains infectious in its energy right from the outset of “Blood and Thunder,” the tense riff paying off in a guest vocal appearance from Clutch‘s Neil Fallon as the Atlanta four-piece of Troy Sanders (bass, vocals), Brent Hinds (guitar, vocals), Bill Kelliher (guitar) and Brann Dailor (drums) crafted a tempest befitting the song and album’s seafaring, Moby Dick-derived theme. “White whale, holy grail,” and so on. Across 10 tracks and 46 minutes, Mastodon demonstrated a dynamic approach that not only took a leap forward from their 2002 debut, Remission, but was essentially a leap forward for heavy metal, striking out in a direction that saw no reason to compromise between impact and progressivism, driven by Dailor‘s snare-overload mania on drums to conjure an urgency that by then was lacking in the dominant creative staleness of metalcore, and that hit with a diversity of songwriting, a balance of melody and burl, and a winding course that every bit sounded like the future. Leviathan‘s impact was immediate and a decade and a half later, it is ongoing.

I got married in a Leviathan t-shirt. Relapse still sells it — it’s the one with the whale from the incredible Paul A. Romano cover art on front — and it felt classy enough to with a tuxedo. Like Metallica before them and Conan after, Mastodon had their time as a band who, when you saw someone else wearing their shirt, it said something about them. Around the time of Leviathan, it was safe to assume that person knew what was up. Radio had largely abandoned metal unless you had a satellite account. Social media existed if you were willing to sit in front of a computer to get it — and plenty people were — and file-sharing had largely gone underground from the Napster fallout. Print media existed but was unmistakably in decline, and the sphere of digital outlets was nowhere near as broad as it was today. Still everyone, seemed to agree on this record. Granted, Mastodon were a big enough band to divide opinion — people either actively liked or actively disliked them — but consensus generally was Mastodon had created something special in the furies of “Ísland,” “Iron Tusk” and “I am Ahab,” the surprising Southern rock departure in “Megalodon,” the mastodon leviathansprawling crescendo of the 13-minute “Hearts Alive” and the more melodic and catchy “Naked Burn” and the righteous preach of the second guest vocal spot, this one from NeurosisScott Kelly — who’d join Mastodon in the studio and tour with them on more than one occasion — and it was their ability to control it that truly made their sound so powerful. Yeah, they were absolutely putting on a clinic in terms of technicality, but whether it was the throaty moans of “I am Ahab” or the acoustic comedown in closer “Joseph Merrick,” there was nothing Mastodon did that loosened their grasp on the material. I once heard Tom Araya or Kerry King from Slayer — can’t remember which — describe Dave Lombardo‘s drumming by saying that it sounds like the whole song is going to crash and come flying apart at all times, but it never does. With Mastodon during the Leviathan era, that was the whole band. They struck at the perfect generational moment to spearhead a new wave of progressive metal, and the impact of their work in doing that is continuing to flesh out. At this point, they’re a band other bands grew up listening to.

Was Leviathan the Millennial Master of Puppets? I don’t know, but it was definitely the Leviathan, and that seems like enough.

There have been continual vinyl pressings done since the release, and my only issue with that would be it would preclude listening at such a volume as to vibrate the stylus over the platter, but for me, Leviathan has always worked best in linear form. A 46-minute CD, front to back. I won’t discount the appeal of a side flip as a moment to catch one’s breath — arguably necessary after “Aqua Dementia” — but the way the songs tie together while still providing standout moments, and the breadth of the album as a whole, it just seems to function as one larger piece. Even the way “Ísland” ends and “Iron Tusk” picks up on the next beat, or the way “Blood and Thunder” seems to cut with just the slightest stutter into “I am Ahab.” With the recording of Matt Bayles, Mastodon were able to capture a blend of nuance and pummel that, no matter how many others would try to pick up on what they were doing, remains largely unmatched by whatever measurement you care to use.

Before Blood Mountain surfaced in 2006, Mastodon departed Relapse for Warner Bros. subsidiary Reprise Records. I remember their statement about the signing was almost apologetic. They’d go on to do what many consider their greatest work in 2008’s Crack the Skye, but to be honest, by then they’d pretty much lost me. I’ve still never really sat with that record or anything they’ve done since, though I’ve seen them live on several occasions between then and now. The Hunter in 2011 and Once More ‘Round the Sun in 2014 garnered mixed reviews, but 2017’s Emperor of Sand seemed to do well for them, which is fine. They always have a good showing in the year-end polls here. Once Blood Mountain came out, the balance of impact and intensity against melody and progginess shifted, and once that happens on such a scale, there’s no real going back. I’m sure I’ve missed out, but somehow I don’t think Mastodon are exactly hurting without my ultra-fandom. I continue to appreciate Leviathan and Remission, and even the earlier Lifesblood EP and split with American Heritage — plus that time they covered Thin Lizzy‘s “Emerald”; that was fun — to a lesser extent, for the landmark accomplishments they were. Are. Will continue to be. That’s probably enough.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I have a cold. Fuckers. The baby gave it to me, which, yes, I take personally. No doubt he meant to do it. Malicious intent behind it and all that. He’s been letting me know via boogers all week what he thinks of my pitiful attempts at parenting. Can’t say I’d do different were I in his position. I am pretty awful at being a dad.

Next week we’re down in Jersey for a good portion of the time. Kind of a surprise jaunt south, but we’ll be there long enough for me to go see YOB, Voivod and Amenra in Brooklyn and that’ll be fun assuming I can remember to bring my camera. The show is at Warsaw, which I’m not sure I’ve ever actually been to, but has been doing shows for a long time. Keeping my fingers crossed for a photo pit so I can actually go and both take pictures and enjoy the show. We’ll see.

This weekend is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. Sunday, 7PM EDT. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com. Please. It covers some cool stuff from the Quarterly Review and other odds and ends that have been kicking my ass lately, like the new Valley of the Sun, which is easily their best work to-date.

Notes for next week? Yeah, I’ve got some. Hang on.

Okay Subject to change, of course:

MON 04/01 THE DRUIDS REVIEW; CEGVERA VIDEO PREMIERE; KANDODO VIDEO
TUE 04/02 THE DEVIL AND THE ALMIGHTY BLUES REVIEW; MORASS OF MOLASSES PREMIERE
WED 04/03 STONE MACHINE ELECTRIC VIDEO PREMIERE
THU 04/04 THE DRY MOUTHS ALBUM STREAM
FRI 04/05 YOB LIVE REVIEW

Busy busy. Probably for the best. Even with this cold, which I’m very much hoping will dissipate over the weekend and both I and the baby can leave bastard-mode go back to our non-boogery selves. We shall see.

In the meantime, slept poorly last night. I went to bed after picking The Patient Mrs. up at work, circa 5PM, but was reading a Deep Space Nine book (Ascendance, if you’re curious) and didn’t get to sleep, so came back downstairs for Pecan bedtime ritual and subsequent delicious leftovers dinner, then did my own futz ritual and went back to bed. I was asleep around 8PM maybe, or before that, and the alarm went off at 4AM to get up and come do this. Was up around 10:30 though, my head reeling and congested. Always forget about that with colds. You have to find just the right angle so the mucus drains and doesn’t drown you while you sleep. Shit is difficult.

And yet there are people who believe humans were intelligently designed, like your snot was made in the image of god. Even if you want to believe humans were “designed,” intelligence would not seem to have been a factor in the slightest. If it were, people probably wouldn’t believe in things like intelligent design.

But hey, how ’bout that Mueller report though, huh? Turns out no one’s coming to save us.

At least it’s baseball season.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m gonna go grab the baby, who’s awake, and start the day. Please check out Forum, Radio and merch at Dropout.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Quarterly Review: Stuck in Motion, AVER, Massa, Alastor, Seid, Moab, Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Into Orbit, Super Thief, Absent

Posted in Reviews on March 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Let the games begin! The rules are the same: 10 albums per day, this time for a total of 60 between today and next Monday. It’s the Quarterly Review. Think of it like a breakfast buffet with an unending supply of pancakes except the pancakes are riffs and there’s only one dude cooking them and he’s really tired all the time and complains, complains, complains. Maybe not the best analogy. Still, it’s gonna be a ton of stuff, but there are some very, very cool records included, so please keep your eyes and your mind open for what’s coming, because you might find something here you really dig. If not, there’s always tomorrow. Let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Stuck in Motion, Stuck in Motion

stuck in motion self-titled

The classic style cover art of Swedish trio Stuck in Motion‘s self-titled debut tells much of the story. It’s sweet-toned vintage-style soul rock, informed by Graveyard to some degree, but more aligned to retroism. The songs are bluesy and natural and not especially long, but have vibe for weeks, as demonstrated on the six-minute longest-track “Dreams of Flying,” or the flute-laden closer “Eken.” What the picture doesn’t tell you is the heavy use of clavinet in the band’s sound and just how much the vintage electric piano adds to what songs like “Slingrar” with its ultra-fluid shifts in tempo, or the sax-drenched penultimate cut “Orientalisk.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Max Kinnbo, drummer Gustaf Björkman and bassist/vocalist/clavinetist Adrian Norén, Stuck in Motion‘s debut successfully basks in a mellow psychedelic blues atmosphere and shows a patience for songwriting that bodes remarkably well. It should not be overlooked because you think you’re tired of vintage-style rock.

Stuck in Motion on Thee Facebooks

Stuck in Motion on Bandcamp

 

AVER, Orbis Majora

aver orbis majora

Following up their 2015 sophomore outing, Nadir (review here), which led to them getting picked up by Ripple Music, Australia’s AVER return with the progressive shove of Orbis Majora, five songs in 50 minutes of thoughtfully composed heavy progadelica, and while it’s not all so serious — closer “Hemp Fandango” well earns its title via a shuffling stonerly groove — opener “Feeding the Sun” and the subsequent “Disorder” set a mood of careful craftsmanship in longform pieces. The album’s peak might be in the 13-minute “Unanswered Prayers,” which culls together an extended linear build that’s equal parts immersive and gorgeous, but the rest of the album hardly lacks for depth or clarity of purpose. An underlying message from the Sydney four-piece would seem to be that they’re going to continue growing, even after more than a decade, because it’s not so much that they’re feeling their way toward their sound, but willfully pushing themselves to refine those parameters.

AVER on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Massa, Walls

massa walls

Flourish of keys adds nuance to Massa‘s moody, heavy post-rock style, the Rotterdam-based trio bringing an atmosphere to their second EP, Walls, across five tracks and 26 minutes marked by periodic samples from cinema and a sense of scope that seems to be born of an experimental impulse but not presented as the experiment itself. That is, they take the “let’s try this!” impulse and make a song out of it, as the chunky rhythm of instrumental centerpiece “Expedition” or the melodies in the prior “#8” show. Before finishing with the crash-into-push of the relatively brief “Intermassa,” the eight-minute “The Federal” complements winding guitar with organ to affect an engaging spirit somewhere between classic and futurist heavy, with the drums holding together proceedings that would seem to convey all the chaos of that temporal paradox. Perhaps it was opener “Shiva” that set this creator/destroyer tone, but either way, Massa bask in it and find a grim sense of identity thereby.

Massa on Thee Facebooks

Massa on Bandcamp

 

Alastor, Slave to the Grave

alastor slave to the grave

The first full-length from Swedish doomplodders Alastor and their debut on RidingEasy Records, late 2018’s Slave to the Grave is the four-piece’s most expansive offering yet in sonic scope as well as runtime. Following the 2017 EPs Blood on Satan’s Claw (review here) and Black Magic (review here), the seven-song/56-minute offering holds true to the murk-toned cultism and dense low-end rumble of the prior offerings, but the melodic resonance and sense of updating the aesthetic of traditional doom is palpable throughout the roller “Your Lives are Worthless,” while the later acoustic-led “Gone” speaks to a folkish influence that suits them surprisingly well given the heft that surrounds. They make an obvious focal point of 17-minute closer “Spider of My Love,” which though they’ve worked in longer forms before, is easily the grandest accomplishment they’ve yet unfurled. One might easily say the same applies to Slave to the Grave as a whole. Those who miss The Wounded Kings should take particular note of their trajectory.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Seid, Weltschmerz, Baby!

seid-weltschmerz_baby-web

If Norwegian space-psych outfit Seid are feeling weary of the world, the way they show it in Weltschmerz, Baby! is by simply leaving it behind, substituting for reality a cosmic starscape of effects and synth, the odd sample and vaguely Hawkwindian etherealism. The centerpiece title-track is a banger along those lines, a swell of rhythmic intensity born out of the finale of the prior “Satan i Blodet” and the mellow, flowing “Trollmannens Hytte” before that, but the highlight might be the subsequent “Coyoteman,” which drifts into dream-prog led by echoing layers of guitar and eventually given over to a fading strain of noise that “Moloch vs. Gud” picks up with percussive purpose and flows directly into the closer “Mir (Drogarna Börjar Värka),” rife with ’70s astro-bounce and a long fadeout that’s less about the record ending and more about leaving the galaxy behind. Starting out at a decent clip with “Haukøye,” Weltschmerz, Baby! is all about the journey and a trip well worth taking.

Seid on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records website

 

Moab, Trough

moab trough

A good record tinged by the tragic loss of drummer Erik Herzog during the recording and finished by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Giacumakis and bassist Joe Fuentes, the 10-track/39-minute Trough demonstrates completely just how much Moab have been underrated since their 2011 debut, Ab Ovo (discussed here), and across the 2014 follow-up, Billow (review here), as they bring a West Coast noise-infused pulse to heavy rock drive on “All Automatons” and meet an enduring punker spirit face first with “Medieval Moan,” all the while presenting a clear head for songcraft amid deep-running tones and melodies. “The Will is Weak” makes perhaps the greatest impact in terms of heft, but heft is by no means all Moab have to offer. With the very real possibility this will be their final record, it is a worthy homage to their fallen comrade and a showcase of their strengths that’s bound someday to get the attention it deserves whenever some clever label decides to reissue it as a lost classic.

Moab on Thee Facebooks

Moab on Bandcamp

 

Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Split

primitive man unearthly trance split

Well of course it’s a massive wash of doomed and hate-filled noise! What were you expecting, sunshine and puppies? Colorado’s Primitive Man and Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance team up to compare misanthropic bona fides across seven tracks of blistering extremity that do Relapse Records proud. Starting with the collaborative intro “Merging,” the onslaught truly commences with Primitive Man’s 10-minute “Naked” and sinks into an abyss with the instrumental noisefest “Love Under Will,” which gradually makes its way into a swell of abrasive drone. Unearthly Trance, meanwhile, proffer immediate destructiveness with the churning “Mechanism Error” and make “Triumph” dark enough to live up to its most malevolent interpretations, while “Reverse the Day” makes me wonder what people who heard Godflesh in the ’80s must’ve thought of it and the six-minute finishing move “418” answers back to Primitive Man‘s droned-out anti-structure with a consuming void of fuckall depth. It’s like the two bands cut open their veins and recorded the disaffection that spilled out.

Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Into Orbit, Shifter

Into Orbit Shifter

Progressive New Zealander two-piece Into OrbitPaul Stewart on guitar and Ian Moir on drums — offer up the single Shifter as the answer to their 2017 sophomore long-player, Unearthing. The Wellington instrumentalists did likewise leading into that album with a single that later showed up as part of a broader tracklist, so it may be that they’ve got another release already in the works, but either way, the 5:50 standalone track finds them dug into a full band sound with layered or looped guitar standing tall over the mid-paced drumming, affecting an emotion-driven atmosphere as much as the cerebral nature of its craft. Beginning with a thick chug, it works into more melodic spaciousness as it heads toward and through its midsection, lead guitar kicking in with harmony lines joining soon after as the two-piece build back up to a bigger finish. Whatever their plans, Into Orbit make it clear that just because something is prog doesn’t mean it needs to be staid or lack expressiveness.

Into Orbit on Thee Facebooks

Into Orbit on Bandcamp

 

Super Thief, Eating Alone in My Car

super thief eating alone in my car

Noise-punk intensity pervades Eating Alone in My Car, the not-quite-not-an-LP from Austin four-piece Super Thief. They call it an album, and that’s good enough for me, especially since at about 20 minutes there isn’t much more I’d ask of the thing that it doesn’t deliver, whether it’s the furious out-of-mindness of minute-long highlight “Woodchipper” or the poli-sci critique of that sandwiches the offering with opener “Gone Country” immediately taking a nihilist anti-stance while closer “You Play it Like a Joke but I Know You Really Mean It” — which consumes nearly half the total runtime at 9:32 — seems to run up the walls unable to stick to the “smoke ’em if you got ’em” point of view of the earlier cut. That’s how the bastards keep you running in circles, but at least Super Thief know where to direct the frustration. “Six Months Blind” and the title-track have a more personal take, but are still worth a read lyrically as much as a listen, as the rhythm of the words only adds to the striking personality of the material.

Super Thief on Thee Facebooks

Learning Curve Records website

 

Absent, Towards the Void

absent towards the void

Recorded in 2016, released on CD in 2018 and snagged by Cursed Tongue Records for a vinyl pressing, Absent‘s Towards the Void casts a shimmering plunge of cavernous doom, with swirling post-Electric Wizard guitar and echoing vocals adding to the spaciousness of its four component tracks as the Brasilia-based trio conjure atmospheric breadth to go along with their weighted lurch in opener “Ophidian Womb.” With tracks arranged shortest to longest between eight and a half and 11 minutes, “Semen Prayer,” “Funeral Sun” and “Urine” follow suit from the opener in terms of overall approach, but “Funeral Sun” speeds things up for a stretch while “Urine” lures the listener downward with a subdued opening leading to more filth-caked distortion and degenerate noise, capping with feedback because at that point what the hell matters anyway? Little question in listening why this one’s been making the rounds for over a year now. It will likely continue to do so for some time to come.

Absent on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

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