Windhand, Eternal Return: Chiaroscuro

Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

windhand eternal return

A quick search through the album announcement and tour press releases thus far for Windhand‘s Eternal Return shows that, from either the label or the Richmond, Virginia, natives themselves, the word “doom” appears zero times. Listening to the nine-song/62-minute offering, that hardly feels like a coincidence. Instead, Eternal Return — which stands as Windhand‘s fourth album behind 2015’s Grief’s Infernal Flower (review here), their 2013 Relapse Records debut, Soma (review here), and their 2012 self-titled debut (streamed here) — has been positioned amid heavy psychedelia and seen highlighted an influence from ’90s alternative and grunge rock. Fair. There are definitely some of those elements at work tonally and in the songwriting, but as the group renews its collaboration with producer Jack Endino, who also recorded Grief’s Infernal Flower, and sees further continuity in Eternal Return‘s Arik Roper cover art, there’s still plenty of doom to the proceedings in songs like “First to Die,” “Eyeshine,” in which vocalist Dorthia Cottrell delivers the album’s title line, and “Red Cloud,” which nonetheless stands among the faster pieces here.

The tones of Garrett Morris and Parker Chandler are still molasses thick, and drummer Ryan Wolfe still pushes the atmospheric murk forward with consistent and creative rhythm. But there is a change as well. Between Grief’s Infernal Flower and Eternal ReturnWindhand have gone from a five- to a four-piece, losing guitarist Asechiah Bogdan. I don’t know how much Bogdan (also formerly of Alabama Thunderpussy) was involved in the songwriting for Windhand, but even if he wasn’t really at all, a change in dynamic is to be expected with any shift in lineup on the part of a given group, and that might be what’s happening with Windhand as different influences come to the surface. Certainly if the band were “bored” of doom, that would be well enough earned — it’s ground they’ve well covered across their three prior full-lengths and other releases like their earlier 2018 split with tourmates Satan’s Satyrs (discussed here) — and Eternal Return does on the whole play to the psychedelic aspects of their sound, but it’s not as if those aspects are appearing out of nowhere. Windhand‘s otherworldly sensibility has been there all along. It’s part of what’s stood them out from their early influences and helped define them stylistically.

Okay. But to listen to “Grey Garden” (video posted here), or even the eight-minute opener “Halcyon” that directly precedes it, there’s definitely something different happening. And the positioning is correct: it’s derived from grunge. Generationally speaking, the genre feels like fair enough game, and in “Red Cloud,” the mellow acoustic-led “Pilgrim’s Rest” and especially in closer “Feather,” in Cottrell‘s vocals and in the rhythmic lurch, there’s a reinterpretation of early ’90s aesthetics happening, but the key there is it’s reinterpretation. Windhand aren’t simply donning a flannel and tucking their jeans into their Doc Martens — they’re taking the influence of grunge and working it into their own sonic context, just as they’ve always done with their influences. The penultimate “Diablerie” (video posted here) shows this integration well and offers a fair summary of all sides that Eternal Return has on offer. Its leads are clean and shine through the low-end murk surrounding with a particularly spacious shimmer, Cottrell‘s voice leads the way through a resonant, said-as-plainly-as-possible hook with some subtly layered-in harmonies, and the overarching groove is fluid en route to a jangly finish that leads the way into “Feather.”

windhand

And though it’s relatively buried with 50 minutes of densely-weighted material before it and positioned way down at the end of side D, “Feather” is the truly standout moment on Eternal Return in terms of stylistic progression. It seems to follow directly the lead-in that “Diablerie” gives it, with a hard-strummed guitar line tapping into that particular downerism before a Cantrell-esque lead line enters the mix. Nirvana have been a strong presence throughout, but as “Feather” dips into minimalist atmospherics about four and a half minutes through its total 13, ahead of the full-tonal kick to come, it sets up a middle section of the track that seems especially geared toward Alice in Chains, with Cottrell playing both the Staley and Cantrell roles vocally, self-harmonizing over a lumbering riff. Though the track grows more mournful as it proceeds toward a long-fading noisy washout, I’d gladly argue that midpoint as the culmination of Windhand‘s expansion of style on Eternal Return, and it shows not only how far they’ve come — spoiler: they’ve come pretty far — but how far they can still go should they desire to do so.

And really, that’s the main question as regards Eternal Return: Cool, you can do this? How far are you going to take it? Invariably that’s not something that can be answered at this point or within the next album cycle or even two should they get there, but while the band got their start a decade ago, one of the steadiest aspects of their work has been the fact that it has always seemed to lead one to look ahead to what’s coming next, and in that regard, Eternal Return feels all the more transitional. With the change in lineup behind them and a thus-far busy tour schedule ahead, what will come of Windhand‘s foray into grunge and their retipping the balance toward psychedelia? Will their next album still have the same kind of bottom end one hears in the plodding “First to Die,” or is the swirling centerpiece interlude “Light into Dark” a tell for a continuing shift underway that will make them less immediately recognizable to their fanbase?

Because, if nothing else, Windhand are that, and it’s to their credit how much they’ve taken their early influences from the likes of Black SabbathElectric Wizard, etc., and internalized and reshaped them into an identity of their own. That’s never been more the case than it is on Eternal Return, but Windhand don’t sound like they’re finished coming into their own, and ultimately, this record may prove over the longer term to be as much departure as it is an arrival. If that’s the case, so be it. For the moment, these songs legitimately push Windhand onto new ground and move them into a niche all the more their own. There’s still doom in the heart of their sound, but increasingly, they’re defining for themselves just what that means and how it manifests.

Windhand, “Diablerie”

Windhand, “Grey Garden” official video

Windhand on Thee Facebooks

Windhand on Instagram

Windhand on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

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Windhand Touring Southeast in January

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

windhand

This week marks the release of Windhand‘s new album, Eternal Return. It is the Richmond, Virginia, unit’s second full-length with Jack Endino at the board as producer — why go anywhere else? — and it marks something of a shift in their sound toward a more grunge-derived feel to their riffing, melded with a psychedelia born of their always murky approach to doom. They are already slated to supporting the living crap out of the record, with previously announced runs through the US (beginning a week from today) and Europe (beginning March 7), and now they’ve decided to do another short run through the Southeast, hitting D.C., North Carolina, Florida and Georgia on an eight-date stint that I guess amounts to a get-out-of-the-house warmup tour for Windhand but is still longer than many of the tours I post about here. It’s like their version of a weekender and it’s eight dates. Hilarious.

The PR wire has the details of their daunting schedule:

windhand winter tour

WINDHAND: Announce US Headlining Winter Tour Dates w/ GENOCIDE PACT

Eternal Return is due out October 5th on Relapse Records

Virginia’s WINDHAND announce US headlining tour dates throughout January 2019 with label-mates GENOCIDE PACT. The brief tour begins on January 24 in Washington D.C. and ends January 31 in Charlotte, NC. A full list of tour dates are available below. Tickets are on sale Friday, September 28th at 10am EST.

Stream WINDHAND’s recently released track “Diablerie” now on all streaming services. Embodying the album’s more reflective side, “Diablerie” fully captures the band’s artistic growth and the juxtaposition of genre-bending, heavy psychedelia that’s apparent throughout Eternal Return.

Additionally, watch WINDHAND’s previously released “Grey Garden” video, the lead single off their forthcoming album Eternal Return, AT THIS LOCATION.

WINDHAND’s 4th studio album Eternal Return is due out October 5th on CD/2xLP/CS/Digital on Relapse Records. Physical packages are available for pre-order HERE and Digital Downloads/Streaming AT THIS LOCATION.f

WINDHAND LIVE DATES:

— All Dates Jan 24-31 w/ Genocide Pact —
Jan 24 Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall
Jan 25 Durham, NC @ Pinhook
Jan 26 Jacksonville, FL @ 1904 Music Hall
Jan 27 Miami, FL @ Las Rosas
Jan 28 Tampa, FL @ The Crowbar
Jan 29 Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub
Jan 30 Savannah, GA @ The Jinx
Jan 31 Charlotte, NC @ Neighborhood Theatre

— 2018 US Tour Dates w/ Satan’s Satyrs —
Oct 08 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Oct 09 New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
Oct 10 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
Oct 11 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
Oct 12 Austin, TX @ Barracuda
Oct 14 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
Oct 15 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Oct 16 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
Oct 17 Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club
Oct 19 Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theatre
Oct 20 Vancouver, BC @ Venue
Oct 21 Seattle, WA @ Neumos
Oct 23 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Oct 24 Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
Nov 01 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
Nov 02 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
Nov 03 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
Nov 04 Montreal, QC @ Le Belmont
Nov 05 Toronto, ON @ The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
Nov 07 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
Nov 08 Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
Nov 09 Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
Nov 10 Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi-Fi
Nov 11 Nashville, TN @ The Basement East
Nov 12 Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
Nov 13 Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
Nov 15 Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry

— All Dates March 07-24 w/ Grime —
Mar 07 Vienna, AT @ Arena
Mar 08 Munich, DE @ Feierwerk
Mar 09 Lausanne, CH @ Le Romandie
Mar 10 Paris, FR @ Boule Noire
Mar 12 Bristol, UK @ Exchange
Mar 13 Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute
Mar 14 Glasgow, UK @ Audio
Mar 15 Nottingham, UK @ Bodega
Mar 16 London, UK @ Underworld
Mar 17 Brussels, BE @ AB
Mar 19 Haarlem, NL @ Patronaat
Mar 20 Eindhoven, NL @ Effenaar
Mar 21 Cologne, DE @ MTC
Mar 22 Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
Mar 23 Berlin, DE @ Musik & Frieden
Mar 24 Leipzig, DE @ Werk 2

https://www.facebook.com/WindhandVA/
https://www.instagram.com/windhand/
http://windhandva.bandcamp.com/
http://store.relapse.com/

Windhand, “Diablerie”

Windhand, “Grey Garden” official video

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Review & Video Premiere: Druglord, New Day Dying

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on September 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

druglord new day dying

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Druglord’s video for ‘Blood and Body.’ Their third album, New Day Dying, is out Sept. 14 on Sludgelord Records.]

It’s gonna get ugly. Pretty much from the moment “Blood and Body” starts, actually. The leadoff cut on Druglord‘s third full-length and first for Sludgelord Records, New Day Dying, is indicative of the kind of harsh, shimmering dankness the band emits, though it doesn’t necessarily speak for the album as a whole, as the organ lines of “Walk with God” (I suppose that could be a guitar effect) and the faster push in the first half of nine-minute side A finale “Rot of This Earth” — I see what you did there — find guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hamilton, bassist Julian Cook and drummer Bobby “HufKnell” Hufnell offering some standout factor from the surrounding tracks such that the Richmond, Virginia-based trio’s six-song/40-minute march to a swampy death never seems to be any more redundant than it intends.

That is, to take on the cyclical, rolling riffs of “Blood and Body,” topped with Hamilton‘s vocals that howl like an Ozzy Osbourne driven by the gutturalism of Matt Pike and Mike Scheidt with more than a hint of Southern sludge, is to expect a certain amount of repetition, and that is gleefully delivered across the LP’s two sides, basically even split at three songs apiece and each finishing with a longer piece: “Rot of This Earth” at 9:04 and the capstone title-track at 8:20. Druglord have dwelt in a post-Electric Wizard sphere since the days of their 2010 self-titled demo (review here), but on New Day Dying, they push their particular hazy fuckall into a place all their own, finding a niche in extreme sludge and an atmosphere that moves deeper even than their two prior long-players, 2014’s Enter Venus (review here) and 2011’s debut, Motherfucker Rising (review here), conjuring a feeling of pressing on into opioid tragedy as “Buried Demons” and “The Flesh is Weak” lead inexorably to the dirt-caked march of the closer, the swirling, noisy payoff of which seems to emphasize the “final” in “finale.” It’s fucked up. It sounds fucked up. It’s supposed to; that’s the idea. But they got there for sure.

Aiding in that cause is the production of Windhand guitarist Garrett Morris at Phantom Sound Recording and ReproductionMorris and Druglord have worked together since Enter Venus — he also helmed 2015’s Deepest Regrets EP (review here) — and the ongoing collaboration pays dividends throughout New Day Dying in the spaciousness of the mix and the wretched heft that occupies that space. There is an underlying clarity to the songwriting of New Day Dying that Druglord have never had before to such a degree, and Morris plays a large role in bringing that to bear without losing focus on the filthy tonality from Hamilton and Cook that plays such a significant role in the band’s approach. It’s not about sounding huge — at least it’s not just about sounding huge; they get there anyway — so much as psychologically brutal, and where records of all sorts might evoke a sense of place or time, New Day Dying culls the hopelessness of depression, that it’s-always-been-like-this-and-there’s-no-point-at-which-it-won’t-be-like-this feeling that seems to accompany some of life’s darkest moments.

druglord (Photo by Scott Badger)

Aesthetically, it’s not trying to perform this — that is, I don’t think Druglord set out to write an album about coping with mental illness; if anything, anti-dogmatic themes seem to persist in cuts like “Blood and Body” and “Walk with God” and “Rot of This Earth,” etc. — but there is that overarching disillusionment all the same, and as the opener begins to unfurl its liquefied onslaught, that mood holds firm throughout all that follows. Yet there’s a structure to it as well. Sides A and B mirror each other somewhat in form with “Buried Demons” finding a grim dirge to answer back “Blood and Body” while retaining the central breadth of tone, and “Walk with God” and “The Flesh is Weak” both offer hints of melody, the former in layered-in keys and the latter in its second-half guitar solo, though admittedly, the chug that surrounds threatens to consume all, even that lead which seems to cut through. Likewise, “Rot of This Earth” and “New Day Dying” share not just a prospective outlook — things are grim, folks — but a summary of the proceedings and a culmination thereof. Druglord seem to save their most punishing moments for these longer songs.

And fair enough. “Rot of This Earth” and “New Day Dying” itself are fitting examples of how Druglord have grown in the four years since Enter Venus stunned with artwork and craft alike, and as the first outing with Cook in the lineup in place of Greta BrinkmanNew Day Dying epitomizes the creative nexus that has been at root in the band all along — the fact that Hamilton knows what he wants their style to be and knows more than ever how to bring that to life in the studio with Morris. These songs were recorded over a year ago, so one imagines Druglord either have more new material in the works or at very least have become even tighter as a unit since they were made, but either way, New Day Dying still hones resonant miseries across its span, and in the lumber of “The Flesh is Weak,” the impact of each of Hufnell‘s kicks in “Walk with God” and the rolling psych-osis in the noise wash of “Buried Demons,” the band finds a new apex of a style that wrangles chaos without losing itself completely in it and is all the more theirs than anything they’ve done before.

The title-track starts its ending at about minute six, and the remaining two-plus minutes are given to Sabbathian solo layering and a thrust of low end that begins gradually to deconstruct itself to feedback during a series of hits from the drums and a declining riff. It doesn’t quite pull itself apart willingly as much as it gives over to the destructive impulse that’s been lurking in the album all along. It’s hard to think of a more fitting end to New Day Dying than to have the song that shares its name actually die as it closes out, and that’s only further emblematic of the consciousness behind what Druglord do here. Their approach isn’t just happenstance and their manifestation of it is a revelry for the depraved.

Druglord, New Day Dying (2018)

Druglord on Thee Facebooks

Druglord on Instagram

Druglord on Bandcamp

Druglord BigCartel store

The Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Instagram

The Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

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Windhand Announce March 2019 European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

windhand (Photo by Joey Wharton)

I usually try to keep myself distant from the din of new-album hype out there. The promo-speak and hyperbole is as endless as the string of new releases itself, and while I don’t always succeed — hey, we all get excited; that’s part of the fun — I do my best to keep my head on waiting for records to show up. I gotta say though, when it comes to the new Windhand, I’m feeling it. Sure, I’ve dug them all along and been continually intrigued as they’ve become one of the foremost acts in US doom, but with the sonic turn that seems to be heralded in their new one, Eternal Return — out Oct. 5 on Relapse as their second collaboration with producer Jack Endino — I’m really excited to hear where they take their sound.

The video that you can watch below for “Grey Garden” is a big part of the reason why. It’s the first real sampling they’ve given from Eternal Return and its ethereal doom grunge unfolds with a trippy spaciousness that adds even further depth and character to their by-now-trademark miasma. The Richmond outfit previously announced a US run for this Fall and they’ll be in Europe in March — interesting that they’d go before the Spring fest season begins; one wonders if they’ll be back that way in Autumn 2019 — touring with the gleefully filth-caked sludge extremists Grime.

Dates came down the PR wire like so:

windhand euro tour

WINDHAND: Announce 2019 European March Headlining Tour Dates

Eternal Return is due out October 5th on Relapse Records

Richmond, Virginia’s psychedelic heavyweights WINDHAND announce 2019 European headlining tour dates with Italy’s Grime. The tour begins March 7th in Austria and ends March 24th in Germany. All confirmed tour dates are available below.

WINDHAND’s 4th studio album Eternal Return is due out October 5th on CD/2xLP/CS/Digital on Relapse Records. Physical packages are available for pre-order HERE and Digital Downloads/Streaming AT THIS LOCATION.

Artwork By Arik Roper

WINDHAND LIVE DATES:
— All Dates March 07-24 w/ Grime —

Mar 07 Vienna, AT @ Arena
Mar 08 Munich, DE @ FeierwerkM
Mar 09 Lausanne, CH @ Le Romandie
Mar 10 Paris, FR @ Boule Noire
Mar 12 Bristol, UK @ Exchange
Mar 13 Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute
Mar 14 Glasgow, UK @ Audio
Mar 15 Nottingham, UK @ Bodega
Mar 16 London, UK @ Underworld
Mar 17 Brussels, BE @ AB
Mar 19 Haarlem, NL @ Patronaat
Mar 20 Eindhoven, NL @ Effenaar
Mar 21 Cologne, DE @ MTC
Mar 22 Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
Mar 23 Berlin, DE @ Musik & Frieden
Mar 24 Leipzig, DE @ Werk 2

— 2018 US Tour Dates w/ Satan’s Satyrs —

Oct 08 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Oct 09 New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
Oct 10 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
Oct 11 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
Oct 12 Austin, TX @ Barracuda
Oct 14 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
Oct 15 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Oct 16 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
Oct 17 Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club
Oct 19 Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theatre
Oct 20 Vancouver, BC @ Venue
Oct 21 Seattle, WA @ Neumos
Oct 23 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Oct 24 Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
Nov 01 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
Nov 02 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
Nov 03 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
Nov 04 Montreal, QC @ Le Belmont
Nov 05 Toronto, ON @ The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
Nov 07 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
Nov 08 Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
Nov 09 Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
Nov 10 Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi-Fi
Nov 11 Nashville, TN @ The Basement East
Nov 12 Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
Nov 13 Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
Nov 15 Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry

https://www.facebook.com/WindhandVA/
https://www.instagram.com/windhand/
http://windhandva.bandcamp.com/
http://store.relapse.com/

Windhand, “Grey Garden” official video

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Druglord to Release New Day Dying Sept. 14

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Been a minute since we last heard from Druglord, but the Richmond dirge-doomers are back with a new album, titled New Day Dying following up on their 2015 EP, Deepest Regrets (review here), and despite a shift in lineup, they sound as miserable and misanthropic as ever. Proof, you ask? Well, you can check out the track “Walk with God” now via the Bandcamp player below courtesy of the trio’s new label, Sludgelord Records, and hear the special kind of madness for yourself. Their new allegiance with Sludgelord follows putting out Deepest Regrets and their prior full-length, Enter Venus (review here), on STB Records, after their 2011’s debut Motherfucker Rising (review here), which was self-released.

Other art and info follow here, courtesy of the social medias:

druglord new day dying

Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Druglord were formed in 2010 and during June 2011, the band recorded 6 songs at Etching Tin Studios, which were intended for demo purposes but ended up being released as the “Motherfucker Rising” LP on Last Anthem Records in October 2012.

This activity resulted in STB Records offering to release the next LP. In July 2013, the band began recording with Garrett Morris of Windhand in his former recording space known as The Darkroom, and the result was the “Enter Venus” LP, which was released in Feb. 2014. The band would also release the “Deepest Regrets” EP on STB Records in December 2015.

in Feb 2017 the band started recording 6 new songs (their first with new bassist Julian Cook) with Garrett Morris in his current space, Phantom Sound Recording And Reproduction. Fast forward to 2018 and these recordings will be released as “New Day Dying”, their first album in 4 years set for release via Sludgelord Records on 14th September 2018.

Sludgelord Records 2018 (SLR012) preorder is live.

Tracklisting:
1. Blood And Body
2. Walk With God
3. Rot Of This Earth
4. Buried Demons
5. The Flesh Is Weak
6. New Day Dying

Recorded by: Garrett Morris @ Phantom Sound Recording & Reproduction
Mastered by: Bill McElroy @ Slipped Disc Audio
Artwork by: Maxime Taccardi

Druglord is:
Julian Cook | Bass
Tommy Hamilton | Guitars & Vocals
Hufknell | Drums

www.facebook.com/DruglordVA/
https://www.instagram.com/druglordva/
https://druglord.bandcamp.com/
https://druglord.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SludgelordRecords/
http://instagram.com/sludgelordrecords
https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/album/new-day-dying

Druglord, New Day Dying (2018)

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Friday Full-Length: RPG, Full Time

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Some records are born and bred for shenanigans. Based out of Richmond, Virginia, the four-piece Southern heavy punkers RPG made their debut with 2004’s Full Time on Arclight Records, and with it they collected 13 tracks of straight-ahead anti-bullshit rowdiness, careening through boozy riffs and pub-fare vibes on their way to a seemingly inevitable crashout. Influences like The Stooges and MC5 go without saying, but their punk roots ran deeper than that. One imagines them at some point taking a stage alongside Zeke and absolutely leveling everything in their path, but RPG‘s Full Time isn’t just about speed, or a brash attitude. In two-minute cuts like “Clockin’ In” and the strutting “Crash Bam Boom” there are hooks that speak to a rock classicism that one finds manifest in bands like Roadsaw and The Brought Low. Come to think of it, how these guys didn’t wind up on Small Stone Records at the time is something of a mystery. Nothing against Arclight — they had some killer releases, including Amplified HeatCardinale and the first The Book of Knots record — but RPG would’ve been a more-than-decent fit as labelmates alongside the likes of Dixie Witch and The Glasspack, and it just never happened for whatever reason. Still, Full Time holds up remarkably well for the 14 years that have passed since its release, and whether it’s the opening shove of “Nazi Mindreader” or the unhinged workaday garage rock of “Untuck It,” the whole outing brims with an energy that’s almost too easy to read as a Friday-night tension blowoff; beers downed, riffs unleashed.

It’s the kind of party where, one way or another, somebody is losing their keys. Maybe they show up again, maybe they don’t. But screw it, that car was junk anyway, and when RPG kick into the start-stop tension of “Standstill Blues,” who’d want to go anywhere anyhow? Like all of the cuts surrounding on the 29-minute full-length — half-hour set put to tape; maybe a minute left to tune between songs if that’s your thing — “Standstill Blues” is short and sharp at about two and a half minutes. As it should, the shortest of the bunch, “Lose It” (1:27) — for which they also made a video — arrives as a burst of electroshock therapy next to the relative sprawl of the longest cut, “Paralyzed” (3:07), which takes a full 37 seconds before starting its first verse; an anomaly given much of what’s around it. Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Matt Conner, guitarist John Partin, drummer Mike Marunde and bassist Tony Brown (since replaced by Bunny Wells), the band hit the brakes a little bit on “Early ’72,” but “You Gotta Know” before it and “Ghetto Rose” after are ragers, the latter with a motor-ready tear-ass winding riff that’s here and gone before it even has time to show up on the radar gun. The rest of the record continues basically in form, somewhat malleable in tempo, but never veering from its rpg full timecentral purpose in the drunkard punkard, “Crash Bam Boom” capping with a blown-out insistence that’s a punch to the face even among its compatriot cuts, and “Can’t Get Any Sleep,” which boasts the line, “I cannot have the American dream/If I can’t get any sleep,” seems to say more than it even intends in terms of working class blues.

They cap with “20 Year Old Idiot,” which seems to compare whoever it’s about to an idiot 10 years their senior and judge them to be pretty much the same, and one last urge to motion in “Song of Evil,” as Conner‘s bullhorn-esque vocals and his scorching guitar lead seem to both be delivering the identical message — last call, folks. So be it. RPG have, by then, left the room with its ass thoroughly kicked — I imagine a basement venue somewhere in deep downtown Manhattan or, just maybe, The Continental with its shot specials and Bingo working the front door — and have made their point. Their rhythm and forward drive are straight out of classic punk, but their tones come from more of a heavy rock kind of place, like they grew up and decided to buy some better gear. Also to write songs. And whatever else Full Time does in leaving tire tracks across its listeners’ heads, it does have songs. The quality of RPG‘s material, of the guitar interplay between Conner and Partin, of not just the speed but the character of groove from Brown and Marunde, helps to keep it as relevant now as when it was released, if not more so, given the fact that, though a new audience generation has come up in the interim, that generation is now established in much the same way the prior one was by 2004 when RPG came along. I remember when Full Time first came out thinking it was a little more punk than I really wanted. I guess maybe I grew into it since then.

RPG put out long-players in 2008’s Worth the Weight and 2012’s High Loathsome, both of which had some longer songs — the opening track on the latter was over five minutes! — and a bit more of a stylistically dynamic approach, but that wasn’t really what Full Time was about. Full Time was and still is about getting in, smashing up the place, and getting back out again. There’s no pretense otherwise and there doesn’t need to be. It’s an exceptionally efficient delivery and for as much beer as the album seems to down, it’s remarkably clearheaded along its path. At least mostly. By their once-every-four-years pace, RPG are two years overdue for a fourth album and I’m not actually sure what their status is as their social medias hasn’t been updated since they celebrated their 15th anniversary with a Hardywood Park beer release in 2015 — the RPG IPA was a dark ale with 7 percent ABV that did pretty well in Beer Advocate — playing a show at the brewery in Richmond. If you were forcing me to guess what they’ve been up to since, I’d probably say, I don’t know, life? The kind of life that doesn’t require an update on Thee Facebooks?

Good for them, I suppose. Or hope. Either way, Full Time still holds up, and as always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Rough week. Most of it was a blur, but a rough blur. The Patient Mrs., The Pecan, The Little Dog Dio and I left New Jersey yesterday afternoon to sit in traffic en route to Connecticut, and we won’t be back until at least probably Aug. 21. This coming week is Psycho Las Vegas and because the flight was booked super-early and I didn’t know we’d be staying in NJ basically the whole summer, I’m flying out of Boston. So we came here to stay for a couple days and then will head north in time for me to fly out on Thursday at like 6:40AM or whatever it is. Early. Not like I won’t be up, but still. That’s early for taking your shoes off at security and all that rigmarole.

Whatever. At the end of that process is Psycho Las Vegas, though I’ve no idea how to get from the airport to the hotel. I suck at that kind of thing. Planes land right on the strip now, right? “Uh, pilot? Please stop at the Hard Rock. Thanks.” Or maybe they have one of those buttons you push on the bus to request a stop. “Roll out the inflatable slide; this is where I get off.” I’ll sort it out. Or maybe I’ll get lost and wander off into the desert, never to be heard from again. If that happens, it’s been real.

Of course, with that massive festival ahead, that will dominate next week’s schedule, but there are news and videos and premieres and stuffs besides that need to get posted, so here’s a look at the subject-to-change-duh notes:

Mon.: Tour dates for Earth Ship & Rising presented by The Obelisk; Sons of Alpha Centauri video.
Tue.: Some review; Fuzz Forward video.
Wed.: Backwoods Payback video premiere/review; Son of the Morning video.
Thu: Spacetrucker album stream/review; Vision Éternel video.
Fri.: Psycho Las Vegas review
Sat.: Psycho Las Vegas review
Sun.: Psycho Las Vegas review
Mon.: Psycho Las Vegas review

Since I travel Monday, I’ll probably take Tuesday off if I can or use it to finish whatever I don’t of the review of Psycho Sunday. We’ll see. I’ll sort it all out. It’s my first time at Psycho, but hardly my first time covering a festival. I have no doubt it’ll be a good time and I’ll have plenty to say about it. Things like, “Vegas is a capitalist cesspool but golly I sure do like riffs and air conditioning!” Review over.

Well, it’s after six and the sun’s up, which means the baby will be soon as well, so I better punch out. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you’re going to Psycho, I’ll see you there — I’m the guy with the hippie pants and the cosmic backpack because I’m pushing 40 and just don’t care anymore about anything other than max comfort at any given time — and otherwise, I hope you enjoy the coverage if you get to check any of it out.

Thanks again for reading and please don’t forget the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Windhand Post “Grey Garden” Video; Eternal Return out Oct. 5

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Windhand_ photo by Sally Patti

It seemed doubtful that Virginia’s Windhand would’ve been lying when they said their upcoming album, Eternal Return, was taking them in a different direction, mostly because, why would they? Still, it’s awfully nice to have an example to go from as we head closer to the record’s Oct. 5 release through Relapse Records. And so, with the creepy-image-barrage of the “Grey Garden” video that some site way cooler than this one premiered last week, we get that example. Immediately, it’s the best vocal performance I’ve heard from Dorthia Cottrell. Hands down. She sounds amazing. And behind her, guitarist Garrett Morris, bassist Parker Chandler and drummer Ryan Wolfe unfurl a vision of psychedelic grunge-doom, putting new meaning to the words “produced by Jack Endino” even than those that applied to their last full-length, 2015’s Grief’s Infernal Flower (review here), which the venerable producer also helmed.

The doom-via-grungegaze suits the Richmond four-piece. And “Grey Garden” seems to hold onto the thick low end tonality that’s been crucial to Windhand‘s approach since their first record. But this doesn’t sound like Electric Wizard. Really at all. And that’s a big difference, since even though Windhand had come into their own, they still had that nod at their foundation, and while I wouldn’t necessarily expect “Grey Garden” to represent the entirety of Eternal Return given past variety in their songwriting, it’s telling that it’s the first track they’re breaking out from the album and letting the public hear. They very obviously are trying something new here, and they very obviously want their audience to be prepared for it. Listening to the drift in the midsection and the reemergence of the more weighted tone that follows beneath the scorching, swirling lead, the potential seems to be there for the band to really make a stylistic mark on the greater sphere of doom itself.

I’d recommend you listen twice to really let the hook sink in, to hear the depth in Wolfe‘s snare, to get a handle on the arrival in murk, the departure from it, and the return. I was looking forward to Eternal Return already. My expectations are even higher now.

PR wire info and tour dates follow the video below.

Please enjoy:

Windhand, “Grey Garden” official video

Eternal Return is a complete life-to-death journey. As unplanned things go, it’s an observation of as well as a reflection on life’s ups and downs, joys and sorrows, beginnings and ends. Between the band’s 2015, highly acclaimed Grief’s Infernal Flower, and 2018’s Eternal Return, WINDHAND welcomed new life, survived lineup changes, and mourned unexpected death. The songs and song ordering are the direct result of those experiences. Where “Halcyon” is assured in its opening, the closing track “Feather” is its funeral march.

WINDHAND wrote Eternal Return all throughout the winter. Out of the sessions, “Halcyon,” “Grey Garden,” “Red Cloud,” and the monstrous “Eyeshine” emerged as the heaviest tracks, while “Pilgrim’s Rest,” “Diablerie,” and “Feather” embodied the more reflective side of WINDHAND. The juxtaposition of heavy, psychedelic and pensive is less like Black Sabbath or Sleep and more like Soundgarden or Veruca Salt. But the name-drops aren’t absolute so much as signals of WINDHAND’s ability to stretch beyond genre confines.

Eternal Return represents a new era for the group, a chrysalis moment that takes them to new and unforeseen heights. Boosted by Garrett Morris’ consistently cool riffs-forged at the crossroads of Iommi’s otherworldly import and Kurt Cobain’s spontaneous precocity-powered by Ryan Wolfe and Parker Chandler’s groove-laden rhythms, and propelled by Dorthia Cottrell’s smoky yet wistful vocals, WINDHAND’s new album is a two-step jump for Richmond’s finest purveyors of the psycho-actively heavy. Adorned by Arik Roper’s (Sleep, High on Fire) impressive cover art, Eternal Return not only looks the part of WINDHAND’s artistic growth but sounds the part.

WINDHAND brought Jack Endino back into the fold. Together, they spent two weeks recording at Soundhouse Recording in Seattle. Described as “smooth” and “intense,” the sessions with the famed producer were just what WINDHAND wanted. Endino also understood the group’s artistic progression, chiefly the admiration of and blending in late ’80s/early ’90s grunge. Out of it all, WINDHAND continued to refactor and refine their vision of heavy. A new era of psychedelic heaviness is upon us with WINDHAND’s genre-blurring Eternal Return. Sweet, fuzzed-out oblivion has never been closer…

WINDHAND LIVE DATES:
10/08: Atlanta, GA – The Earl #
10/09: New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa #
10/10: Houston TX – White Oak Music Hall #
10/11: Dallas, TX – Club Dada #
10/12: Austin, TX – Barracuda #
10/14: Albuquerque, NM – Sister #
10/15: Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar #
10/16: Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre #
10/17: Oakland, CA – Starline Social Club #
10/19: Portland, OR – Aladdin Theatre #
10/20: Vancouver, BC – Venue #
10/21: Seattle, WA – Neumos #
10/23: Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge #
10/24: Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room #
11/01: Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts #
11/02: Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere #
11/03: Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall #
11/04: Montreal, QC – Le Belmont #
11/05: Toronto, ON – The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern #
11/07: Chicago, IL – Subterranean #
11/08: Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe #
11/09: Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club #
11/10: Indianapolis, IN – The Hi-Fi #
11/11: Nashville, TN – The Basement East #
11/12: Louisville, KY – Zanzabar #
11/13: Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups #
11/15: Richmond, VA – The Broadberry #
# – w/ Satan’s Satyrs

Windhand on Thee Facebooks

Windhand on Instagram

Windhand on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

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Quarterly Review: Worshipper, Dopethrone, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, Omen Stones, Capra, Universo Rojo, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Fire Down Below, Stone Deaf, Cracked Machine

Posted in Reviews on July 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

Well, we made it to the end of another Quarterly Review. One more batch and then it’s off to planning the next one for late September/early October. I hope you have found something this week that you’ve really dug. I have. A few, to be honest. Not everything is going to stick with every listener, of course, and that includes me, but for as much as putting this one together has been, there’s been some really good, year-end-list-type stuff included. At least as far as my own list goes. I sincerely hope you agree.

So let’s do this last one, then go sleep for a couple hours. Alright? Here we go:

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Worshipper, Mirage Daze

worshipper mirage daze

I don’t know if Worshipper knew they’d be embarking on their first West Coast tour in Summer 2018 when they hit Mad Oak Studios in Oct. 2016 to record the four cover tracks for their Mirage Daze EP on Tee Pee Records, but it certainly worked out in the Boston four-piece’s favor. Following-up their 2016 debut, Shadow Hymns (review here), Worshipper present four cover tracks in Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin’,” The Oath’s “Night Child,” Pink Floyd’s “Julia Dream” and The Who’s “Heaven and Hell,” and while I’m a little sad that “Heaven and Hell” isn’t the Black Sabbath song, which I think they’d nail if they tried it, and I’m glad to have a studio version of their take on Floyd’s “Julia Dream,” which from the first time I saw them live was always a pleasure to watch live, I think the highlight of Mirage Daze might be “Night Child.” I never bought that The Oath record, and Worshipper’s take on its lead single is about the best argument I’ve seen for doing so. It may or may not be a stopgap issued to coincide with the tour, but Mirage Daze is a welcome arrival anyway. It’s a fan piece? Well, I’m a fan, so right on.

Worshipper on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

Dopethrone, Transcanadian Anger

dopethrone transcanadian anger

Montreal scumsludgers Dopethrone return with Transcanadian Anger, an eight-track blister-fest of crunch riffing and misanthropic vibes. Delivered through Totem Cat Records, the 36-minute Weedeater-gone-bad-drugs sludge assault seems to invite superlatives front to back, even in the slamming instrumental “Killdozer” – a tribute to the band? – and the swinging penultimate cut “Kingbilly Kush.” Elsewhere, opener “Planet Meth,” “Snort Dagger,” “Tweak Jabber” and “Scuzzgasm” celebrate addiction and violence unto oneself and others, making a spectacle of decay set to voluminous sludge riffs and abrasive vocals. This is Dopethrone’s aesthetic territory, and they’ve done well over the last decade to make it their own. As they answer 2015’s full-length, Hochelaga (review here), and the next year’s 1312 EP with yet another filth-caked collection, they seem all the more in their own league of aural and narcotic self-punishment. They could be straightedge vegans for all I know, but they sure sound high as fuck, and I guess that’s the point. So, well done.

Dopethrone on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

 

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, BooCheeMish

the mystery of the bulgarian voices boocheemish

Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance would seem to be trying to solve The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, a choral group from Bulgaria who, seemingly until teaming with Gerrard for the Prophecy Productions release BooCheeMish was known by the French name Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. Whatever you call them, their history dates back nearly seven decades and their harmonies are utterly timeless. BooCheeMish is comprised of gorgeous folk renditions for 45 minutes of world-building perfection. Percussion of various sorts provides backing and on pieces like “Rano Ranila” they speed through at a pace and arrangement that’s head-spinning, while the later “Zableyalo Agne” finds them joined by flute for a nigh-religious experience and the subsequent “Tropanitsa” has a bounce worthy of any good times one might to envision from its evocative pulse. One can’t help but feel a bit of the cultural voyeur in taking it on – as well as feeling totally outclassed in reviewing it – but these songs were clearly meant to be enjoyed, and as their ambassadors, The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices genuinely serve a public best interest.

The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Omen Stones, Omen Stones

omen stones omen stones

Virginia duo Omen Stones have no online presence as yet. No songs streaming. No cheeky logos-on-photos social media posts that new bands do when they’re sitting on their hands waiting to get material out there. What they – and by “they,” I mean guitarist/vocalist Tommy Hamilton of Druglord and drummer Erik Larson of Backwoods Payback, The Might Could, Alabama Thunderpussy, etc. – have is a four-song self-titled EP collecting about 13 minutes of material in demo fashion, bringing forth the Southern-shuffle-gets-weird-then-explodes opener “Secrete” as a first impression of a deceptive approach. You think it’s all good and then you get punched. Go figure. “Secrete” is also the longest track (immediate points) at 4:06, and the forward charge and harsher vocal of “Fertile Blight” follows, catchy as it is mean, and more indicative of what’s to follow in the maddening tension of “Sympathy Scars” and the fuckall sludgepunk of “Purity Tones.” Immediately against-trend, Omen StonesOmen Stones is a bird of prey unto itself. Hopefully at some point soon they make it publicly available.

Druglord on Bandcamp

Erik Larson on Bandcamp

 

Capra, Unholy Gallows

Capra Unholy Gallows

Taking influence from hardcore punk, post-hardcore and sludge, Lafayette, Louisiana’s Capra seem to fit in a Midwestern style of semi-metallic aggression that has flourished in the wake of the likes of The National Acrobat and Coliseum. The foursome’s Unholy Gallows single follows their also-two-song self-titled 2016 EP, and finds Tyler Harper (also of the recently-defunct The Midnight Ghost Train), Jeremy Randazzo, Ben Paramore and Lee Hooper aligned in their purposes of riff-led bludgeoning. Unholy Gallows is two songs/six minutes long – not by any means an afternoon commitment in terms of listening – but its furies are unveiled in far less time than that, and both “Red Guillotine” and “Hot Lips” waste no time in doling out their beatings. A sense of heft stems from tonal thickness, but they make it move to a propulsive degree, and aside from a quick feedback intro to “Red Guillotine,” there’s no letup; even as “Hot Lips” slows the pace some initially, it maintains geared toward foreshadowing the next fist to fly.

Capra on Thee Facebooks

Capra on Bandcamp

 

Universo Rojo, Impermanencia

Universo Rojo Impermanencia

Sprawl, sprawl, sprawl. Into space. Universo Rojo’s excellent four-track debut album, Impermanencia, makes you want to speak slowly enough to feel the words vibrate out of your mouth. The Chilean four-piece offer lengthy, jam-based excursions that echo out their feel across vast reaches of effects, progressive rhythm and melody-making unfurling all the while beneath an overarching swirl of effects, guitars and synth running atop the mix like competing currents of water. Opener “¿A Dónde Ir?” (8:13) gives way to the flute-laden krautrockism of “Visión Planetaria de los Tiempos” (8:40) as vocalist/guitarist/clarinetist Ferro Vargas-Larraguibel, drummer Naim Chamás, bassist Cristóbal Montenegro and synthesis Francisco Arellano conjure such molten possibilities. Though it’s just 34 minutes, Impermanencia is nonetheless expansive, with the 9:36 “Cinco (La Quinta Dimensión)” finding a place between drift and psych-jazz undulations while closer “Inmaterialización del Sentimiento Cósmico” (7:32) lets out a full-impulse burst of energy that’s blinding if you know just where to look. Not to be missed.

Universo Rojo on Thee Facebooks

Universo Rojo on Bandcamp

 

Sergeant Thunderhoof, Terra Solus

sergeant thunderhoof terra solus

Kudos to Bath, UK, four-piece Sergeant Thunderhoof on starting off their sophomore long-player, Terra Solus, with the album’s longest track in “Another Plane.” And likewise for the blend of psychedelia and burl that unfolds. In taking on the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Ride of the Hoof, they offer eight cuts and 51 minutes of spacious riffing charged with just an undercurrent of English boozer burl, Elephant Tree and Steak meeting head on for a raucous session of who knows what. “B Oscillation” taps nod and particularly satisfying fuzzy warmth in its lead section, while even a would-be bruiser like the subsequent “Diesel Breath” has a trip-out included. There is time for such things as every track but the penultimate and relatively minimalist soundscaper “Half a Man” tops six minutes, but Sergeant Thunderhoof make a much richer impression overall than their moniker might lead one to believe, and close out in particularly resonant fashion with “Om Shaantih,” emphasizing the breadth and post-rock elements that help make Terra Solus so engaging from the outset.

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Bandcamp

 

Fire Down Below, Hymn of the Cosmic Man

fire down below hymn of the cosmic man

The adaptation of Kyuss’ “Thumb” riff for Fire Down Below’s “Ignition/Space Cruiser” after the “Red Giant” intro on their second album, Hymn of the Cosmic Man (on Ripple), is nothing short of a clarion to the converted. The Belgian unit’s mission would seem to be to find that place on the horizon where the desert ground and space itself seem to meet and become one, and as side A closer “The Cosmic Pilgrim” turns from its initial crunch into more patient and drifting psych, they’d seem to get there. Atsmophere is certainly central to the record, as the aforementioned “Red Giant” and its side B counterpart “Nebula” demonstrate, never mind the other five tracks, and even as “Saviour of Man” runs through its janga-janga stoner-riffed hook there’s a flourish of effects to create a balance between the earthbound and the interstellar. Side B’s “Ascension” and especially 11-minute album-closer/highlight “Adrift in a Sea of Stars” seem to find the balance the four-piece is shooting for all along, and just before the nine-minute mark when the thick, fuzzed-out riff emerges from the jammy lead, the entire impetus for their journey seems to be laid bare. Well done.

Fire Down Below on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Stone Deaf, Royal Burnout

stone deaf royal burnout

Denver, Colorado’s Stone Deaf present a sans-frills desert rock vibe across the eight tightly structured tracks of their sophomore album, Royal Burnout (on Black Bow Records). Specifically, the compressed crunch in the guitar tone and some of the start-stop bounce riffing in cuts like “Room #240” and “Monochrome” seem to be drawn from the Songs for the Deaf methodology, and some of the vocals on opener “Spitshine” (video premiere here) remind of Queens of the Stone Age as well, but Stone Deaf – whose moniker, then, would be well sourced – have a deeper root in punk rock that underscores the “Go with the Flow” thrust of “Deathwish 62” as well as the chugging verses of “Boozy Spool” immediately preceding. It’s a sound that benefits greatly from the sharpness of its delivery and the craft Stone Deaf bring to it, and even when they seem to loosen up a bit on the midpaced pre-finale “That Lefty Request,” there’s a fervent sense of a plan unfolding. That plan would seem to be a success.

Stone Deaf on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Cracked Machine, I, Cosmonaut

cracked machine i cosmonaut

Originally released last year, Cracked Machine’s debut, I, Cosmonaut, finds vinyl issue through PsyKA Records and earns it well with six tracks/45 minutes of mostly-instrumentalist and progressive space-psych. One assumes there’s a narrative thread at work across the span, as guitarist Bill Denton, bassist Chris Sutton, keyboardist/vocalist Clive Noyes and drummer Blazej Gradziel weave their way through “Twin Sons Rising” and “New Vostok” at the outset into the easy flow of “Baikonur Cosmodrome,” the harder-hitting title-track, the fuzzy declaration of “Svetlana” and the patiently executed 10-minute closer “Transorbital,” Denton’s guitar singing all the while. These places and, maybe, characters would seem to weave together to tell the story in impressions largely open to interpretation and correspondingly open in terms of their creativity, sounding spontaneous and maybe live-recorded if not entirely improvised, instead working to a plan for where each inclusion should go or end up. As Cracked Machine’s first album, it’s an ambitious work that does far more than get the band’s feet wet. It takes them out of the atmosphere and embarks on a journey beyond that one hopes is just beginning.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

Cracked Machine at PsyKA Records webstore

 

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