The Obsessed Cancel European Tour; Playing Descendants of Crom III This Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed (photo by David Torrence)

Come on, Norway. You could let Wino in at this point. It’s been five years. Considering it as a punitive measure, I can’t even imagine how much the loss of European touring income would be in terms of paying a fine. Certainly enough for however much drugs it was he got busted with at the border. Shit happens. Dude took the hit, so maybe time to move on?

It’s a bummer that The Obsessed‘s return trip to the Schengen countries and greater Europe has been nixed on account of ongoing fallout from that arrest, but the band, who also toured earlier this year in the States with C.O.C. and Crowbar, will appear this coming weekend at Descendants of Crom III in Pittsburgh, so the news isn’t all bad. They’ll be more than welcome I’m sure as they take the place of ASG on that bill and join the ranks of Solace, Foghound, Valkyrie and hometown heroes Argus, among many others. That’s pretty much a guaranteed good time.

Wino posted the following through the social medias:

the obsessed descendants of crom iii

Hello to all our fans and friends .

We are saddened to say that all European Obsessed shows in fall have been cancelled .

The facts are: After an arrest in Norway I was banned from Norway and all the Schengen countries for five years. Its been five years . Recently we found out, only by chance, that the Norwegian govt was not only deceptive about the ability to enter other countries by visa but also intentionally delayed filing my appeal that I filed in a timely manner in accordance with Norwegian law. This added an extra year to the ban consequently keeping THE OBSESSED from being able to play in Europe (UK is not included in the ban).

I feel I have been wronged by these events. I have accepted responsibility for my actions initially but now our hands are tied. Knowledge of these actions by the Norwegian govt only came to light when i arrived in Berlin to play acoustic set at Desertfest earlier this year. After being detained 10 hours i was luckily granted a temporary three day visa, but advised by the German border police of the extended ban etc. We are seeking legal recourse now and will be over to play as soon as we can. Our most sincere apologies.

We will be playing in Pittsburgh Saturday September 21st at the Descendants of Crom III festival. Great lineup….. it’s going to be a kick ass night. See you there.

Thanks to all who believe.
WINO – THE OBSESSED

https://www.facebook.com/TheObsessedOfficial
http://relapse.com/the-obsessed-sacred/
https://theobsessed.bandcamp.com/
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

The Obsessed, Sacred (2017)

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Monolord, No Comfort: Truth Found in Time

Posted in Reviews on September 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monolord no comfort

Guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems, collectively known as Gothenburg’s Monolord, have had an impact on this decade of heavy in a way that few bands who actually belong to it have done. Their rise in influence and stature would seem fast were it not for all the work they’ve put in over the last five-plus years, touring, writing, recording and releasing. A streak of three massively successful outings on RidingEasy Records in 2014’s Empress Rising, 2015’s Vænir (review here) and 2017’s Rust (review here), as well as an increasing tour profile in Europe and the US, led to Relapse Records getting behind the fourth, and the six-track/48-minute No Comfort is the result, recorded by Kim Gravander with mixing by Willems and containing the band’s most atmospheric and complex material to-date. That continues a pattern of growth that Empress Rising set in motion as well as a next-stage-arrival communicated through the greater stylistic reach of Rust, and sure enough, No Comfort takes Monolord‘s sound to places it’s never been, from the Floydian stretch of quiet in the penultimate “Alone Together Forever Divided” to the mournful dirge of “Larvae.”

Those hoping to dig into the riffy primitivism of their earlier work will find a measure of solace — that’s not to say comfort — in opener “The Bastard Son” and the shorter “The Last Leaf,” which follows, but even in those, Monolord dig into hypnotic repetition and aren’t afraid to pull the rug out from under their roll in order to make a statement in terms of mood or feeling. Nor should they be, frankly. Such moves are well in their wheelhouse by now, which only emphasizes the compressed timeline of their growth as a unit. It’s been a half-decade since their first record. Some bands don’t even manage to put out a follow-up in that time. Monolord have made a career, established themselves as one of the most pivotal heavy acts in the world, and in No Comfort, landed at a new echelon of substance and style. Not too shabby.

And there is little mistaking No Comfort as anything other than one of 2019’s best releases. Topped with striking cover art by Alexander Fjelnseth, the offering carries an emotional affect even in the solo in the second half of “The Last Leaf,” an overarching spirit of melancholy residing in its layers in a way that one wouldn’t necessarily anticipate, even after Rust. Make no mistake, Monolord‘s core approach is still based around riffs and the pummeling therewith, but their methods have shifted, are shifting, and even the title No Comfort feels like the declaration of an ideal they’re chasing as they push themselves toward more resonant songcraft. It’s obviously not the way the vinyl would work — that would be three songs on a side, each with two longer songs (the second longer than the first) sandwiched around a shorter one — but if one takes No Comfort in thirds, its progression becomes all the more evident.

monolord

They have always and continue to excel at creating a sense of march. Willems as a drummer is a master of it, and the riffs brought to bear by Jäger and made even thicker and more vital by Häkki‘s bass are plenty of dirge fodder to be sure. But even as they plod their way through the side A finale “Larvae” after “The Bastard Son” and “The Last Leaf,” there’s a turn evident toward a doomed melancholy. “Larvae” and the subsequent melodic highlight “Skywards” — it’s (probably past) time to start considering Jäger as a vocalist rather than a guitar player who sings, even with the steady use of effects on his voice — take the initial shove of the opening duo and prove even more immersive, drawing the listener deeper into No Comfort‘s ambience without giving up the heavy vibe to do so. This ends up as one of the record’s great strengths: Monolord‘s ability to grow without compromising who they are and have been thus far into their tenure.

Those effects on Jäger‘s vocals play a part in that, as they continue to sound overwhelmed by his riffing, creating a sense of largesse, but it’s clear in every element that makes No Comfort just how in command Monolord are of their craft, and their material here both signals and succeeds in its intent, as “Alone Together Forever Divided” and “No Comfort” add to the sense of longing so prevalent in “Skywards.” “Alone Together Forever Divided” is the shortest track on the outing at just over five minutes, but it’s the structural change that gives it its effect on what surrounds. The bulk of it is quiet, atmospheric guitar set to a mellow roll, quiet and led more by the vocals than a riff, though there’s a definite groove behind, held together by Willems and Häkki, that moves toward a burst of sonic weight in the second half, a nod taking hold for a time before receding again to let the quiet guitar finish out in contemplative fashion. It’s a marked and purposeful change in approach, essentially turning Monolord‘s methodology on its head, but given how they’ve led into it across the songs prior, including “Skywards,” it also makes sense, and works double as a lead-in for the the 11-minute title-track that rounds out.

With trades in volume as they move through the verses and chorus, the mood on “No Comfort” itself remains primary, and summarizes well the balance of heft and inward-looking sprawl that the songs before have brought together. In linear format — CD/DL — the outward movement of “No Comfort” is even more resounding, but however you take it, No Comfort is the triumph Monolord need at a crucial moment for the band. They have not given up on the root appeal of bashing out wave after wave of dense riff barrage, but they’ve also stayed true to an impulse toward sonic evolution that points the way forward for years to come. Four albums in and just getting started? Maybe. Whatever happens and however No Comfort is received, it is an album that clearly states and meets its own goals. It sets its terms and then brings the listener along its path. It affects the mind of its audience. It is not to be overlooked.

Monolord, “The Last Leaf” official video

Monolord on Thee Facebooks

Monolord on Instagram

Monolord on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

Relapse Records on Thee Facebooks

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Monolord to Release No Comfort Sept. 20; New Song Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monolord

Pretty much called it that Monolord‘s new album would be out to coincide with their upcoming Fall touring. Even the Gothenburg trio don’t hit it that hard on back-to-back runs without a new album to support. The timing just makes sense. Plus, getting the record out in September lines them up for all kinds of best-of-the-year accolades, which it seems like this is a prime moment for them to snag, what with debuting on Relapse and having three killer LPs’ worth of momentum behind them. They’re going to be touring this one for a while, I’d imagine — all of 2020 at least — so this is just the start of a new cycle, but while you listen to the reimagined C.O.C. “Albatross” riff at the beginning of “The Bastard Son” below, I think you can only agree theirs is a cause well worth supporting. Relapse certainly seems to think so, and they’ve certainly made a few killer picks along the way.

Art, tracklisting, preorders, tour dates and, finally, the song itself follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

monolord no comfort

MONOLORD: Announce Relapse Records Debut No Comfort Coming September 20

Swedish trio MONOLORD announce their Relapse Records’ debut, No Comfort, coming September 20th.

“This one has been the most challenging yet,” said MONOLORD in a collective statement. “As always striving for evolvement, but within the Monolord realm and with that inviting another person into that process. We hope you like it.”

No Comfort pre-orders are on-sale now, with several limited-edition vinyl variants available, including a Relapse.com exclusive in partnership with Orange Amps. The 100-piece release features the actual material used to wrap Orange Amps and is pressed on neon orange vinyl. The set includes an exclusive two-sided Orange Amps inspired t-shirt and guitar pick set. To view this set as well as the CD/2xLP/CS and digital pre-orders that are available, visit https://ffm.to/monolordnocomfort.

No Comfort Tracklist:
The Bastard Son
The Last Leaf
Larvae
Skywards
Alone Together Forever Divided
No Comfort

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, “The Bastard Son”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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