Friday Full-Length: Reverend Bizarre, In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Reverend Bizarre, In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend (2002)

Finnish doomers Reverend Bizarre were only really around for 11 or 12 years, depending on what you count as their last official release, but their impact was massive in Europe and beyond. I’ll readily admit that for a long time, I didn’t get it. Some stuff resonates, some stuff doesn’t, and for me, Reverend Bizarre were one of those bands that other people really liked. It wasn’t until 2010 — and it’s way easier to remember exact dates on these kinds of things when you have an archive of posts about them — when I put up a short Buried Treasure piece about being in London and buying a copy of Reverend Bizarre‘s 2002 debut, In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend, and discussed how I’d always been relatively lukewarm on them, that I began to come around. The difference was made in a comment that post got from a reader who went by the moniker Shrike who commented around here for a while with much appreciated band recommendations — people come and go; nature of the beast — and what he did was really take the time to help me understand the context in which Reverend Bizarre first arrived. Here’s what he said:

Shrike says:
May 15, 2010 at 3:44 am
To me it’s not just the music, which is good, but about the fact that they made their music when nobody else was making it. They wrote music which was a tribute to the masters of the old, very rigidly anchored to the traditions of doom metal and very arrogant in their attitudes towards other modern music.

So I think their influece (sic) was huge and propelled doom metal into the spheres it is today, traditional doom metal in particular. Which also means that their influence and style was significant back then, but doesn’t necessarily translate “to today” as well.

What I’d been neglecting was understanding how little of this kind of thing there really was happening at the turn of the century. Even The Gates of Slumber here in the US, who started roughly concurrent to Reverend Bizarre in 1998, would take another two years to get their first album out, and while there was plenty of heavy rock around the US and Europe alike at that point and the two styles are closely linked in my estimation, in terms of doom by doomers for doomers, the names are fewer and farther between, especially when it comes to new bands (at the time) producing material with the quality of “Burn in Hell!,” “In the Rectory,” “The Hour of Death,” “Sodoma Sunrise,” “Doomsower” and “Cirith Ungol,” as much Saint Vitus as Black Sabbath, but delivered with the vitality and passion of a newer generation that, even 14 years later, is still palpable. I didn’t even respond to that comment at the time, because I’m a dick, but it’s been among the most helpful responses I’ve had to a piece of writing on this site, and it genuinely helped shape my opinion on Reverend Bizarre‘s contributions to the sphere of modern traditional doom.

Reverend Bizarre would release two more albums after In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend in 2005’s II: Crush the Insects and their 2007 swansong, III: So Long Suckers, along with an innumerable slew of splits, EPs an singles that actually make up the bulk of their catalog. Today, one can find bassist/vocalist Sami “Albert Witchfinder” Hynninen in Spiritus Mortis (who have a new LP coming), drummer Jari “Earl of Void” Pohjonen in Orne and guitarist Kimi “Peter Vicar” Kärki (Obelisk Questionnaire here) in that band as well as Lord Vicar — who already released an LP this year in Gates of Flesh (review here) — E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, his own solo work, and a host of other adventurous projects well worth digging into. That the one-time members of Revered Bizarre would still be contributing to the style these years after the band’s breakup only seems to prove their commitment to doom was no fluke, but a lifestyle choice, and one from which there’s no easy escape. Likewise, the tragic abysses into which In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend so willfully and dramatically plunges will not easily let the listener out again.

It’s autumn, so here’s some doom. I hope you enjoy.

This weekend, actually Sunday, marks my 12th wedding anniversary. As of next week, The Patient Mrs. and I will have been together for 19 years. Well more than half of my life. As soon as I get out of work, we’re going to Vermont for the weekend to celebrate. There’s no way you’d recall, and that’s cool, but six years ago, in 2010, we rented a cottage up there for a month (I did some writing while there, a couple posts about the trip) and had what were some of our best times to-date. This time we’re getting a house on the same piece of property just for a couple days, but I expect it will also be awesome. I’ve been very much looking forward to it and feeling generally fortunate to have such love as a defining portion of my life, which is a good way to feel. I’m a lucky, lucky boy. Far luckier than I deserve to be.

Next week, and really the next few weeks, are packed. Monday, a review/stream from Heavy Temple. Tuesday, a Seremonia album stream. Wednesday, a Yeti on Horseback album stream. Thursday, a Nightstalker review/stream. Friday, might post that Truckfighters interview I did at Høstsabbat last weekend. Then the week after that is the Quarterly Review and I have a few streams up my sleeve besides already, so yeah, we’re jammed just about into the middle of next month as it is. Plus there are some tour announcements and things like that slated, videos and so on. Much, much to discuss. I don’t know if the site’s ever had direction so far ahead as it does right at this moment. Then we get into list season as the holidays approach, the next Quarterly Review, the readers poll, etc. It’s madness from here on out, folks. I guess it’s been madness for a while.

But while I’ll spend some time preparing for the week probably early on Sunday, the focus this weekend is on hanging out with The Patient Mrs., basking in good times with her and the little dog Dio, maybe doing a little record shopping and generally feeling excellent about what is unquestionably the best part of my life.

My brain’s kind of all over the place as I wrap up the day/week, but while I mentioned it, I’d like to extend one more round of thanks to Ole Helsted and all involved with Høstsabbat last weekend in Oslo, Norway. I can’t even begin to tell you how validating it is for this entire ongoing project to have people half a world away appreciate the work done on this site enough to extend such a generous invitation and to be so incredibly welcoming and considerate upon my arrival. It was truly humbling and I was honored to be there. Then I met Slomatics. And that fucking ruled too. So yes, thank you again to Høstsabbat for having me.

I can’t help but feel like I’m forgetting something — always — but I think that should do it either way. I hope whatever you’re up to that you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kimi Kärki of Lord Vicar

Posted in Questionnaire on March 3rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

As Peter Vicar in Reverend Bizarre, guitarist Kimi Kärki helped to start a wave of traditional doom in Europe during the mid-’90s that continues to this day. That Finnish outfit’s influence has endured even after their split in 2007 following the release of their last album, III: So Long Suckers — a variety of splits and comps continued to surface for a couple years after — and Kärki‘s career has continued to branch out, working with former Saint Vitus and now Goatess frontman Chritus Linderson in the righteously doomed Lord Vicar as well as putting out new material from the Reverend Bizarre-concurrent project Orne, founding and exploring psychedelic experimentation in E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, playing with Uhrijuhla and working as a coordinator at the University of Turku. Late last year, Svart Records released his solo debut, The Bone of My Bones (streamed here), on which Kärki showcased progressive folk songwriting to create evocative and deeply resonant atmospheres.

Last month, Svart issued a 4LP edition of III: So Long Suckers with expanded liner notes in memory of Reverend Bizarre‘s legacy, and E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr are slated to appear at Roadburn next month.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kimi Kärki

How did you come to do what you do?

Because it felt right. I followed my intuition and walked on the footsteps of the giants.

Describe your first musical memory.

It is hearing my mother sing a classic lullaby “Sininen uni” (Blue dream), originally sung by legendary Finnish javelin athlete and singer Tapio Rautavaara, the text being a poem by P. Mustapää. I love that song and sing it to my own children now. Here:

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Hard to pick up the best… Perhaps hearing the master of In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend for the first time, or the first time I saw people in the audience singing my lyrics.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Every day.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

To a better focus, deeper musical layers, profound lyrics and sometimes an early grave.

How do you define success?

That I feel pleased with what I have done, can love and be loved, and survive the tests of living.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Images of parents carrying their dead children, that is the ultimate horror.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A theme album which is musically solid and has a coherent, emotionally touching narrative.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Finishing my Ph.D., finally.

Kimi Kärki, “I am Aries” from The Bone of My Bones (2013)

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audiObelisk: Stream Kimi Kärki’s The Bone of My Bones in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on December 17th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

The Bone of My Bones is the first solo album from Lord Vicar guitarist Kimi Kärki — whose impressive resume also includes current tenure in Uhrijuhla, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, Orne and a past playing under the moniker Peter Vicar in Finnish trad doom forebears Reverend Bizarre — and it is out now on Svart Records in gatefold LP and CD. It is an album that lives up to its title. Acoustic, minimal in its arrangements despite flourish of organ alongside Kärki‘s guitar and a host of guest vocalists, it proves indeed to be a deeply personal, deeply internal offering, comprising seven songs and 36 minutes of contemplative searching, a process that seems to be discovering the musical atmosphere even as it constructs it. That’s not to say songs like “My Name is Free,” “Red Rooster” and “Archipelago” are lacking in structure or progression, just that it becomes clear over the course of The Bone of My Bones that Kärki is building his sound from the ground up, and this is the beginning of that process.

“Young Goodman Brown” touches some on the melody of Led Zeppelin‘s “No Quarter,” and there are other flourishes of ’70s era progressive and psychedelic folk to be found throughout, but the richness of The Bone of My Bones comes from the humanity of the effort more than any particular lushness of sound, though a bit of swirl emerges on the nine-minute closer “Taxiarch” with wisps of electric leads curling around a steady acoustic line. As a vocalist, Kärki seems most comfortable in a semi-spoken lower register, but he pushes himself to expand beyond it right from the start in opener  “I am Aries,” and the additional contributions of Mat McNerney (of Svart labelmates Hexvessel), Anna-Elena Pääkkölä and Pirita Känkänen enrich the song’s ambience, bringing it somewhat out of Kärki‘s own experience and into a place where the listener can engage with it on another level. The launch of the album is just one of the high points, as Kärki elicits a melancholy sense of meditation without getting lost in neo-folk pretense or giving up songwriting for the experiment. True to its Edward Coley Burne-Jones cover art, The Tree of Forgiveness (1882), it has a classical feel.

And though the prevailing sense is that Kärki is laying the groundwork with The Bone of My Bones to, say, return to the form later and flesh it out, having that impression does nothing to diminish the appeal of his solo debut. Please find The Bone of My Bones on the player below and enjoy:

Kimi Kärki, The Bone of My Bones

Kimi Kärki‘s The Bone of My Bones was released Dec. 5 through Svart on CD and LP. More info at the links.

Kimi Kärki at Svart Records

Kimi Kärki on Thee Facebooks

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Buried Treasure and Redscroll in Autumn, Pt. 2

Posted in Buried Treasure on October 28th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Moments ago, as I was trying to think of a headline for this post, I recalled that I’d visited Redscroll Records in Wallingford, Connecticut, last year around this time. Creature of habit that I am, the date on that post is Oct. 25, 2010. Here we are, a year and three days later and I’m chronicling pretty much the same trip. Surprisingly, there was no band overlap. Small favors, I guess.

It had been or at least felt like a while since I did a good round of caution-and-common-sense-to-the-wind record shopping, which I find is good for the soul, and especially since my prior visit to the store had come up empty, I was stoked to make out pretty good this time. You can probably see the stack in the picture above, but in case you don’t feel like clicking to enlarge it, here’s the rundown:

Aldebaran, Buried Beneath Aeons
Cable, Cable
Desert Sessions, Vol. I/Vol. II
Desert Sessions, Vol. III/Vol. IV
Dove, Dove
Grayceon, All We Destroy
Orange Goblin, Time Travelling Blues
Patton Oswalt, Finest Hour
Reverend Bizarre, Death is Glory… Now!
Sunride, Magnetizer
VA, Judge Not…
Wooden Shjips, Dos
Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestial Lineage

Of those, I already own the Desert Sessions, Dove and Orange Goblin records — but I still have my reasons for buying each. The Orange Goblin was used, and as I looked at it on the shelf, I discovered it was the Japanese version of the record, with their cover of Trouble‘s “Black Shapes of Doom” for a bonus track. That cover originally appeared on the Bastards Will Pay tribute, and since I’ve never had any luck tracking down a copy of that (it’s in my canon of daily eBay searches), I figured all the more excuse to get the import on the cheap.

The Dove, on the other hand, is probably the least reasonable of the repeat offenses. Where the Desert Sessions stuff was priced new, it was also like $12 a pop, and screw it, if I’m already spending money, I’ll hit that up. I looked so hard for those CDs the first time around, I don’t mind having doubles. For the Dove disc, though, there really is no argument. It was there, it was used, and I bought it. It’s out of print, and I might use it in a trade or something at some point — hey, if anyone wants to switch it for that Trouble tribute, drop a line — but beyond that, it was an impulse and an excuse to revisit the album from the Floor offshoot, which I hadn’t heard in years.

Grayceon was one of two discs I knew I wanted to pick up going into the trip — the other was Rwake, which Redscroll was out of — and since I’ve had those songs stuck in my head for the last month, I was glad to have the full version of the album to sate that. That wasn’t used, but it is now. The Wolves in the Throne Room is also their latest record, which I had every intent of reviewing but never got around to, but only had a disc and top liner for. There’s always one or two tracks on their albums that justifies a purchase, and now I can take my time finding out which ones those are on Celestial Lineage. I don’t feel as bad for not reviewing it if I go out and buy the record.

I bought Sunride‘s Magnetizer (1998, Boundless Records) because of a discussion on the forum of the worst stoner rock albums ever. Not that it’s mentioned in there, but Sea of Green is, and I got the names mixed up in my head. I had wanted to buy it just to hear what the worst stoner rock ever sounded like. As Magnetizer isn’t even close to the worst stoner rock I’ve ever heard, I can’t help but feel like I inadvertently won out.

The Wooden Shjips I got because I need to review their new album, West, for work and wanted something to compare it to. It was used, as was the Underdogma Records compilation, Judge Not…, which proved yet again that I don’t like comps until they’re out of print and desirable for their obscurity. I don’t remember the last time I heard Ironboss (guns don’t kill people, they do), so I’ll take it, and with Gammera, Pale Divine, early The Quill and Puny Human on there, all the better. Two discs of heavy rock I didn’t own prior. Six bucks.

Buying Cable in Connecticut had some oddball novelty to me, and the 1997 comp of their early tracks was used and is raw as hell, so that was a yes, and I didn’t even know Patton Oswalt had a new record, but there it was. Since on his last special, he was talking all about his wife being pregnant, I figured this would be his “I have a kid now” material (every comic has it), and sure enough, it is. Still good. The Reverend Bizarre and Aldebaran discs were impulse buys — I grabbed the Aldebaran with all the forethought of snatching a pack of Reese’s on the way out of the grocery store — but reckless abandon is no fun if it’s not actually reckless, so there you go.

The Patient Mrs. — bless her heart — had come in a few moments prior to collect me so we could make our way back south to Jersey, but as we were leaving, the dudes behind the counter informed that they’ll be doing a special Black Friday sale post-Thanksgiving, opening at 6AM with markdowns on new and used CDs and vinyl — which, at this point, takes up a good deal of the room they have. Turns out I’ll be up that way for the holiday, so if I’m not all drowned out in vino and tryptophan, I may just make that happen for myself. Seems like it could be fun, anyway.

More info on that and the store is here, if you’re interested. I’ll spare you the lecture on preserving independent record-buying culture, because I think you probably know it by now, but anyway, they do good work.

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Buried Treasure: I’m Not Saying I Dig Reverend Bizarre, but I Understand

Posted in Buried Treasure on May 14th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Didn’t you ever have one of those bands that everyone you ever met was like, “Holy shit, you need to hear this immediately!” and you just didn’t give a damn? Well, for me, Finland‘s now-defunct Reverend Bizarre is one of those bands. Any time I’ve had a conversation with either friends who know who they are, dudes at shows or anyone else about them, it’s always been how amazing they are, this and that, blah blah blah, changing the world, best doom since Vitus, so on and so forth. I mean, come on. They put out an EP dedicated to Christina Ricci and called it The Goddess of Doom! That’s gotta count for something, right? Meh.

So along the way I’ve periodically picked up Reverend Bizarre albums and tried to convince myself of their ass-kickery (because don’t we all just want to fit in?). I’d put on 2005’s II: Crush the Insects, for example, and be like, “Yeah, this is pretty killer, alright,” and then back onto the shelf it went and was forgotten almost as soon as it was over. My life remained unchanged; the “meh” was fully in tact.

Well, when I was in London, I made another attempt by purchasing the two-disc reissue of their first full-length, 2002’s In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend. I’d been meaning to pick it up for a while and ever since the band “broke up” in 2007 (they’ve had eight releases since then), I’ve had it in the back of my head that I should get these records while I still can, so there it was, there I was and there we were. Only yesterday did I finally convince myself to listen to it.

Maybe I just don’t like being force fed bands. I don’t know.

Anyway, after listening to In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend — plus points for the King Crimson reference — I’m still not a convert to their cult, but at least I get why someone would be. Songs regularly in the 10-plus-minute range, slow, mournful, doomier-than-thou. I can see where the backpatch-on-denim crowd (nothing against them; those are good people) could get down with it, and maybe in the right mood I could too, but there’s still that “meh” element that doesn’t see what all the fuss is about. Maybe I’ll feel differently about the third record, which I’m sure I’ll pick up eventually, either because I actually want to hear it or because I’m a sucker. Maybe that’ll be the one that finally gets me to their altar.

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