Horseburner Set Aug. 9 Release for The Thief; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

horseburner

Yeah, I’ve got it on now and this one’s pretty sick. Like, gonna-be-on-a-lot-of-lists sick. Maybe mine. Horseburner will make their debut on Ripple Music with The Thief and they’ve already got shows booked into November to support it, so that’s nifty, but listening to the album, it’s got stomper riffs and modern prog metal inflection galore in its winding guitar lines and not-at-all-overplayed drums, taking a cue from the Mastodons of the world without, well, sucking, I guess. It can be a fine line to walk, but Horsebuner would seem to have found the balance between nuance and groove and melody in these tracks that, yes, will be very well received. Bandcamp’s gonna go apeshit for this one. I hope Ripple has an ample supply.

I’m gonna try to set up another track premiere — the first one was here back in March — to go with a review a proper review, but in the meantime, here’s some info from the PR wire:

horseburner the thief

HORSEBURNER: Hard Hitting Road/Riff Merchants Return With New Album + Tour Dates

The Thief by Horseburner is officially released on 9th August on Ripple Music

Pre-order the album now at www.ripple-music.com

Together since 2008 and borne from the wild Appalachian green of West Virginia, Horseburner has never cowered from hard toil. From performing their first live show, self-recording and releasing two EPs (2009’s Dirt City and Strange Giant in 2013), putting on an inaugural tour in 2011 and releasing their debut full-length album, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil in 2016, the band has quite simply, done it all themselves.

Having played hundreds of shows over the past decade, performing alongside acts such as Torche, Weedeater, Goatwhore, Obituary, Corrosion of Conformity, The Obsessed, Karma to Burn and Bell Witch, in 2017 the band reissued their debut album through Hellmistress Records, which quickly reignited that song writing/recording flame, resulting in the gift of new music.

This year, as well as hitting the road for a monster Summer/Fall Tour of the US, the band join forces with Ripple Music, the California-based record label and world leader in Heavy Rock, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych to bring you the hard rocking yield of that fruitful and inspired year. The official worldwide release of their brand-new album, The Thief. As the band explains:

“We are thrilled to finally be putting out new music after almost three years and several member changes, and we can’t wait for people to hear, ‘Hand of Gold, Man of Stone’. It was the first song we finished for this new album, and we think it really sets the tone for what’s to come this summer when the full album is released. It’s loud, it’s aggressive, it’s a little weird… It’s also the shortest song. Brevity has never been our strong suit, but there is a much larger story waiting to be told, and this song is just one chapter. We’re even more excited to be teaming up with Ripple Music for the new record. We love so many bands on their roster, it’s such a well curated label. We’re honored to be joining the Ripple Family, and honestly, that’s what it feels like, a family.”

TRACK LISTING:
1. The Thief
2. A Joyless King
3. Drowning Bird
4. The Fisherman’s Vow
5. Seas Between
6. Hand of Gold Man of Stone
7. The Oak
8. Fathoms
9. Thiefsong

LIVE DATES (MORE DATES TBC):
2/8 – Richmond, VA – Wonderland
3/8 – Beckley, WV – Melody’s
23/8 – Athens, OH – Casa
24/8 – Youngstown, OH – Westside Bowl
25/8 – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
27/8 – Canton, OH – Buzzbin
5/9 – Huntington, WV – V Club
6/9 – Johnson City, TN – Hideaway
7/9 – Charlotte, NC – Skylark
8/9 – Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits
9/9 – Miami, FL – Las Rosas
11/9 – Savannah, GA – El Rocko
12/9 – Athens, GA – Caledonia Lounge
27/9 – Toronto, ON – Bovine Sex Club
5/10 – Pittsburgh, PA – Gooski’s
6/10 – Buffalo, NY – Electric Avenue
7/10 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Desperate Annie’s
11/10 – Brooklyn, NY – The Well
12/10 – Wilmington, DE – Oddity Bar
13/10 – Baltimore, MD – The Depot
29/11 –Marietta, OH – Adelphia

HORSEBURNER:
Adam Nohe – Drums, Vocals, Percussion
Jack Thomas – Guitar, Vocals, Keys
Seth Bostick – Bass
Zach Kaufman – Guitar

https://www.horseburner.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Horseburner/
https://horseburner.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/horseburner/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Horseburner, “Hand of Gold, Man of Stone”

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Arrowhead, Coven of the Snake

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Arrowhead Coven of the Snake

[Click play above to stream Arrowhead’s Coven of the Snake in full. Album is out Friday on Ripple Music.]

Now on their 11th year and releasing their third album, Coven of the Snake, Sydney, Australia’s Arrowhead continue to deliver on the promise of their earliest days, proliferating straightforward heavy rock with a meaner underpinning here and there but keeping the songwriting first, always. This has been their wont since their 2009 self-titled EP (review here), and across their 2012 debut, Atomsmasher (review here) and 2015/2016’s Desert Cult Ritual, initially released by the band and subsequently picked up by Ripple Music. One can only call that alliance correct on some grand cosmic scale — the band and label would seem to have been made for each other. Though the band came first, both embrace a traditionalist heavy rock sound that doesn’t necessarily eschew frills, but makes its point with riff-led fare, memorable choruses and an underlying appreciation for the classics of the style. One thinks of Ripple bands like Roadsaw, Devil to Pay, Freedom Hawk, Ape Machine, Fire Down Below, etc.

Arrowhead acquit themselves well in this company across their latest work, Coven of the Snake, having gone through the change of bringing in bassist Arron Fletcher to replace original member Dave Lopez alongside guitarist/vocalist Brett Pearl and drummer Matt Cramp, whose dynamic proves to be the core of the band’s craft. Granted they’ve had a couple years with Lopez at this point, so he’s not brand new to the band or anything, but listening to the clean, LP-ready eight tracks/40 minutes of Coven of the Snake, Arrowhead don’t seem to have missed a beat for the shift in personnel. Since recording, they’ve also brought in Thumlock‘s Raff Iacurto on second guitar, but he doesn’t actually play on the record. Timing is everything. More intrigue for next time, I suppose. Arrowhead give plenty to dig into in the meantime, as Coven of the Snake stands itself out as their most realized offering to-date in the old fashioned way: with songs. Depending on how deep you want to go, it can be as simple as that.

There’s nothing overly showy about what Arrowhead do. They’re technically proficient, sure enough, but not out to put on any kind of clinic in scale work or anything like that. Their music is conversational. It engages the listener and digs itself into the consciousness, and more over, it makes that process easy. It is accessible in the truest, not at all condescending definition of the word. They open with the title-track, and the lines in the chorus go, “Welcome to the coven of the snake/So why don’t you join?,” and I believe Pearl means it when he asks the question. It summarizes the central invitation that the entire album goes on to send. They are communicating directly with their audience, and while one would be remiss not to point out the phallic nature of the coven itself, but between the opener and “All Seeing Eye” and “Ceremony of the Skull,” which follow, they make it pretty plain that the suggestion to join is universal.

arrowhead

Apart from the 6:56 closer “Golden Thunder Hawk,” songs run between four and five and a half minutes, and PearlCramp and Fletcher spend that time making it easy to get on board. As they have all along, they get into some rougher terrain, calling to mind the dug-in low end of later Dozer on cuts like “Ceremony of the Skull” and the penultimate “March of the Reptiles,” the central riff of which feels specifically drawn from Through the Eyes of Heathens launchpoint “Drawing Dead.” Whatever similarities there might be, Arrowhead have never failed to add their own personality, and Coven of the Snake is no different, even as Pearl‘s vocals remind on that same penultimate track of Arc of Ascent, the context in which that line is drawn is obviously different. Likewise, the prior “Dopanaught” takes a more specifically winding approach, marked out by being the most “stoner” inclusion in terms of basic lyrical foundation — flirting with conspiracy theories and whatnot elsewhere suits the rest of the material as well as anything — and the accompanying lead guitar in its second half. Arrowhead add enough detail to each track so that it stands out from the rest while feeding into the straight-ahead overarching impression of the album.

This is more or less the ideal for this kind of heavy rock and roll songwriting — something that takes its influences and brings new elements to the mix in a style that is unpretentious about where it’s coming from and built to serve memorable, engaging songs. Somewhat understated on the whole, Arrowhead reserve any kind of grandiosity for “Golden Thunder Hawk,” which rolls out much of its extra runtime in a patient introduction to the gently-shuffling main progression, a laid back vocal helping set the mood before opening to a wider chorus. Soon enough they’re halfway through and from there it’s a matter of letting the build play out, which by then the band have well earned with their level of execution on the previous seven tracks. These are the kinds of songs where you read the titles and hear them delivered in your head as they are in the hooks, and that extends even to the finale, which takes a slightly different route to get there but still most certainly does, thereby summarizing much of the appeal of Coven of the Snake while also bringing new ideas to it.

Arrowhead are clearly past the stage where they might otherwise be discovering who they are as a band, and given the work they’ve done since starting out, I’d argue they’ve known all along. Nonetheless, the efforts they’ve made to refine their craft are audible throughout Coven of the Snake, and as they continue to move forward, as a live four-piece and as a creative unit, one hopes the dynamic they showcase here continues with them. This is heavy rock for a longer term; a quality that seeps in not through some novelty but through Arrowhead‘s ability to realize their intentions in impeccably constructed form. Its appeal will last that much longer for it.

Arrowhead, “Coven of the Snake” official video

Arrowhead on Thee Facebooks

Arrowhead on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Black Lung, Giant Dwarf, Land Mammal, Skunk, Silver Devil, Sky Burial, Wizzerd, Ian Blurton, Cosmic Fall

Posted in Reviews on July 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Got my laptop back. Turned out the guy had to give me a new hard drive entirely, clone all my data on it, and scrap the other drive. I’m sure if I took it to another technician they’d have said something completely different, either for better or worse, but it was $165 and I got my computer back, working, in a day, so I can’t really complain. Worth the money, obviously, even though it was $40 more than the estimate. I assume that was a mix of “new hard drive” and “this is the last thing I’m doing before a four-day weekend.” Either way, totally legit. Bit of stress on my part, but what’s a Quarterly Review without it?

This ends the week, but there’s still one more batch of 10 reviews to go on Monday, so I won’t delay further, except to say more to come.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo

elizabeth colour wheel nocebo

A rare level of triumph for a first album, Elizabeth Colour Wheel‘s aesthetic scope and patience of craft on Nocebo result in a genre-spanning post-noise rock that maintains an atmospheric heft whether loud or quiet at any given moment, and a sense of unpredictability that feels born out of a genuinely forward-thinking songwriting process. It is dark, emotionally resonant, beautiful and crushing across its eight songs and 47 minutes, as the Philadelphia five-piece ebb and flow instrumentally behind a standout vocal performance that reminds of Julie Christmas circa Battle of Mice on “Life of a Flower” but is ultimately more controlled and all the more lethal for that. Bouts of extremity pop up at unexpected times and the songs flow into each other so as to make all of Nocebo feel like a single, multi-hued work, which it just might be as it moves into ambience between “Hide Behind (Emmett’s Song)” and “Bedrest” before exploding to life again in “34th” and transitioning directly into the cacophonous apex that comes with closer “Head Home.” One of the best debuts of 2019, if not the best.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser on Bandcamp

 

Black Lung, Ancients

black lung ancients

Ancients is the third full-length from Baltimore’s Black Lung, whose heavy blues rock takes a moodier approach from the outset of “Mother of the Sun” onward, following an organ-led roll in that opener that calls to mind All Them Witches circa Lightning at the Door and following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here) with an even firmer grasp on their overarching intent. The title-track is shorter at 3:10 and offers some post-rock flourish in the guitar amid its otherwise straight-ahead push, but there’s a tonal depth to add atmosphere to whatever moves they’re making at the time, “The Seeker” and “Voices” rounding out side A with relatively grounded swing and traditionalist shuffle but still catching attention through pace and presentation alike. That holds true as “Gone” drifts into psychedelic jamming at the start of side B, and the chunkier “Badlands,” the dramatic “Vultures” and the controlled wash of “Dead Man Blues” take the listener into some unnamed desert without a map or exit strategy. It’s a pleasure to get lost as Ancients plays through, and Black Lung remain a well-kept secret of the East Coast underground.

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Noisolution website

 

Giant Dwarf, Giant Dwarf

Giant Dwarf Giant Dwarf

This just fucking rules, and I feel no need to couch my critique in any more flowery language than that. Driving, fuzzy heavy rock topped with post-Homme melodies that doesn’t sacrifice impact for attitude, the self-released, self-titled debut from Perth, Australia’s Giant Dwarf is a sans-pretense 35 minutes of groove done right. They may be playing to genre, fine, but from the cover art on down, they’re doing so with a sense of personality and a readiness to bring an individual sensibility to their sound. I dig it. Summery tones, rampant vocal melodies in layers, solid rhythmic foundation beneath. The fact that it’s the five-piece’s first album makes me look less for some kind of stylistic nuance, but it’s there to be heard anyway in “Disco Void” and the bouncing end of “High Tide Blues,” and in surrounding cuts like “Repeat After Defeat” and “Strange Wool,” Giant Dwarf set to the task before them with due vitality, imagining Songs for the Deaf with Fu Manchu tonality in “Kepler.” No big surprise, but yeah, it definitely works. Someone should be beating down the door to sign this band.

Giant Dwarf on Thee Facebooks

Giant Dwarf on Bandcamp

 

Land Mammal, Land Mammal

land mammal land mammal

Land Mammal‘s debut outing is a 14-minute, proof-of-concept four-songer EP with clarity of presentation and telegraphed intent. Marked out by the Robert Plant-style vocal heroics of Kinsley August, the band makes the most of a bluesy atmosphere behind him, with Will Weise on wah-ready guitar, Phillip PJ Soapsmith on bass, Stephen Smith on drums and True Turner on keys. On opener “Dark with Rain” and closer “Better Days,” they find a pastoral vibe that draws from ’90s alternative, thinking Blind Melon particularly in the finale, but “Earth Made Free” takes a bluesier angle and “Drippin’ Slow” is not shy about nor ashamed of its danceability, as its lyrics demonstrate. For all the crispness of the production, Land Mammal still manage to sound relatively natural, which is all the more encouraging in terms of moving forward, but it’ll be interesting to hear how they flesh out their sound over the course of a full-length, since even as an EP, this self-titled is short. They have songwriting, performance and production on their side, however, so something tells me they’ll be just fine.

Land Mammal on Thee Facebooks

Land Mammal on Bandcamp

 

Skunk, Strange Vibration

skunk strange vibration

Even before they get to the ultra-“N.I.B.” patterning of second track “Stand in the Sun,” Skunk‘s Sabbathian loyalties are well established, and they continue on that line, through the “War Pigs”-ness of “Goblin Orgy” (though I’ll give them bonus points for that title), and the slower “A National Acrobat” roll of “The Black Crown,” and while that’s not the only influence under which Skunk are working — clearly — it’s arguably the most forward. They’ve been on a traditional path since 2015’s mission-statement EP, Heavy Rock from Elder Times (review here), and as Strange Vibration is their second album behind 2017’s Doubleblind (review here), they’ve only come more into focus in terms of what they’re doing overall. They throw a bit of swagger into “Evil Eye Gone Blind” and “Star Power” toward the end of the record — more Blackmore or Leslie West than Iommi — but keep the hooks center through it all, and cap with a welcome bit of layered melody on “The Cobra’s Kiss.” Based in Oakland, they don’t quite fit in with the Californian boogie scene to the south, but standing out only seems to suit Strange Vibration all the more.

Skunk on Thee Facebooks

Skunk on Bandcamp

 

Silver Devil, Paralyzed

Silver Devil Paralyzed

Like countrymen outfits in Vokonis or to a somewhat lesser degree Cities of Mars, Gävle-based riffers Silver Devil tap into Sleep as a core influence and work outward from there. In the case of their second album, Paralyzed (on Ozium Records), they work far out indeed, bringing a sonic largesse to bear through plus-sized tonality and distorted vocals casting echoes across a wide chasm of the mix. “Rivers” or the later, slower-rolling “Octopus” rightfully present this as an individual take, and it ends up being that one way or the other, with the atmosphere becoming essential to the character of the material. There are some driving moments that call to mind later Dozer — or newer Greenleaf, if you prefer — such as the centerpiece “No Man Traveller,” but the periodic bouts of post-rock bring complexity to that assessment as well, though in the face of the galloping crescendo of “The Grand Trick,” complexity is a secondary concern to the outright righteousness with which Silver Devil take familiar elements and reshape them into something that sounds fresh and engaging. That’s basically the story of the whole record, come to think of it.

Silver Devil on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records website

 

Sky Burial, Sokushinbutsu

sky burial Sokushinbutsu

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/engineer Vessel 2 and drummer/vocalist Vessel 1 (also ex-Mühr), Sky Burial release their debut EP, Sokushinbutsu, through Break Free Records, and with it issue two songs of densely-weighted riff and crash, captured raw and live-sounding with an edge of visceral sludge thanks to the harsh vocals laid overtop. The prevailing spirit is as much doom as it is crust throughout “Return to Sender” (8:53) and the 10:38 title-track — the word translating from Japanese to “instant Buddha” — and as “Sokushinbutsu” kicks the tempo of the leadoff into higher gear, the release becomes a wash of blown-out tone with shouts cutting through that’s very obviously meant to be as brutal as it absolutely is. They slow down eventually, then slow down more, then slow down more — you see where this is going — until eventually the feedback seems to consume them and everything else, and the low rumble of guitar gives way to noise and biting vocalizations. As beginnings go, Sokushinbutsu is willfully wretched and animalistic, a manifested sonic nihilism that immediately stinks of death.

Sky Burial on Thee Facebooks

Break Free Records on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd, Wizzerd

wizzerd st

One finds Montana’s Wizzerd born of a similar Upper Midwestern next-gen take on classic heavy as that of acts like Bison Machine and Midas. Their Cursed Tongue Records-delivered self-titled debut album gives a strong showing of this foundation, less boogie-based than some, with just an edge of heavy metal to the riffing and vocals that seems to derive not directly from doom, but definitely from some ’80s metal stylizations. Coupled with ’70s and ’90s heavy rocks, it’s a readily accessible blend throughout the nine-song/51-minute LP, but a will toward the epic comes through in theme as well as the general mood of the riffs, and even in the drift of “Wizard” that’s apparent. Taken in kind with the fuzzblaster “Wraith,” the winding motion of the eponymous closer and with the lumbering crash of “Warrior” earlier, the five-piece’s sound shows potential to distinguish itself further in the future through taking on fantasy subject matter lyrically as well as playing to wall-sized grooves across the board, even in the speedy first half of “Phoenix,” with its surprising crash into the wall of its own momentum.

Wizzerd on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Ian Blurton, Signals Through the Flames

Ian Blurton Signals Through the Flames

The core of Ian Blurton‘s Signals Through the Flames is in tight, sharply-executed heavy rockers like “Seven Bells” and “Days Will Remain,” classic in their root but not overly derivative, smartly and efficiently composed and performed. The Toronto-based Blurton has been making and producing music for over three decades in various guises and incarnations, and with these nine songs, he brings into focus a songcraft that is more than enough to carry song like “Nothing Left to Lose” and opener “Eye of the Needle,” which bookends with the 6:55 “Into Dust,” the closer arriving after a final salvo with the Scorpionic strut of “Kick out the Lights” and the forward-thrust-into-ether of “Night of the Black Goat.” If this was what Ghost had ended up sounding like, I’d have been cool with that. Blurton‘s years of experience surely come into play in this work, a kind of debut under his own name and/or that of Ian Blurton’s Future Now, but the songs come through as fresh regardless and “The March of Mars” grabs attention not with pedigree, but simply by virtue of its own riff, which is exactly how it should be. It’s subtle in its variety, but those willing to give it a repeat listen or two will find even more reward for doing so.

Ian Blurton on Thee Facebooks

Ian Blurton on Bandcamp

 

Cosmic Fall, Lackland

Cosmic Fall Lackland

“Lackland” is the first new material Berlin three-piece Cosmic Fall have produced since last year’s In Search of Space (review here) album, which is only surprising given the frequency with which they once jammed out a record every couple of months. The lone 8:32 track is a fitting reminder of the potency in the lineup of guitarist Marcin Morawski, bassist Klaus Friedrich and drummer Daniel Sax, and listening to the Earthless-style shred in Morawski‘s guitar, one hopes it won’t be another year before they come around again. As it stands, they make the eight minutes speed by with volcanic fervor and an improvised sensibility that feels natural despite the song’s ultimately linear trajectory. Could be a one-off, could be a precursor to a new album. I’d prefer the latter, obviously, but I’ll take what I can get, and if that’s “Lackland,” then so be it.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

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Hazemaze Premiere “Green River”; Hymns of the Damned Due in November

Posted in audiObelisk on July 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hazemaze

Swedish doom rockers Hazemaze release their second album, Hymns of the Damned, this November through Cursed Tongue Records and Ripple Music. The band’s alignment to the two labels — the former for vinyl, the latter CD — was announced in May, along with the title of the record, and in following up their 2018 self-titled debut on Kozmik Artifactz, the Stockholm three-piece present an energy that leaves little to wonder why others would want to get behind the release as they have. “Green River” — a tale of murder most foul — is the first audio to come from the offering, and its vibe is straight-ahead doom rock that makes its impression with groove and melody at the forefront of priorities. Okay, it’s plenty heavy and catchy too. You got me.

The band acknowledges that heft as something purposeful as well, and talks about it as representative for their “new direction” on the second record. I can’t confirm how much “Green River” does or doesn’t represent the entirety of Hymns of the Damned since — and given that it’s not out for four-plus months, this shouldn’t be a surprise — I haven’t heard it yet, but the single doesn’t seem so radically different from what the Stockholm outfit were doing on a song like “Minds Abyss” from their debut, though I’ll allow that “Green River” is more efficient on the whole and that might also be what they’re talking about in the quote below. Whatever the case, the chance to sample some new wares from the band is cool by me, to be sure, and if you’re the preorder type, I’m sure there’s enough here to have you beating the doors down.

Enjoy the track:

Hazemaze on “Green River”:

”Green River” was the last song that we wrote before entering the studio in late March. We refer it as the “Pentagram song” because it got that kind of 1994s Be Forewarned vibe to it. It’s a really heavy tune and we felt that this is the song that we wanted to release first because it captures the band’s new direction in style yet maintains the essence of the debut album.

On VINYL (Cursed Tongue Records) and CD/DIGITAL (Ripple Music) November 2019.

Cursed Tongue Records and Ripple Music have teamed up for a joint release of Stockholm, SE 70’s stoner doom trio Hazemaze’s dark and menacing sophomore album ‘Hymns of the Damned’. When the three Swedes released their debut album last year on German label Kozmik Artifactz it was to much applaud from the heavy underground community.

The band has just finished recording of the follow-up album to their successful self-titled debut LP. We have had a sneak-peak on the pre-production of the new album and we can ensure you that you are in for a thrilling, riff-heavy showcase of retro-tinged stoner doom from the top drawer. Brace yourself to hear Hazemaze at their darkest, most energetic and heaviest yet as they have truly upped the irons on ‘Hymns of the Damned’.

Hazemaze is ready to take on the big league and are bringing the riffs the size of mountains, so get ready to be washed over with heavy, fuzzy riffs and low-ends. It’s soon time to rip it up to one this year’s best heavy stoner doom albums, ‘Hymns of the Damned. We are all damned, we are all cursed so let the ripple of riff-waves carry us away. Get psyched!

Hazemaze is:
Ludvig – Guitar/Vocals
Nils – Drums
Estefan – Bass

Hazemaze on Bandcamp

Hazemaze on Thee Facebooks

Hazemaze on Instagram

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

Cursed Tongue Records on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records on Instagram

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Quarterly Review: Salem’s Bend, Motorpsycho, Sigils, Lord Dying, Sunn O))), Crimson Heat, Molior Superum, Moros, Glitter Wizard, Gourd

Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Today is Tuesday, I’m pretty sure, and hey, that’s nifty. I thought yesterday kicked off the Summer 2019 Quarterly Review really well, and any time I get through one of these without my head caving in on itself, I feel like that’s a victory, so yeah. Now we wade even deeper into what will ultimately be a 60-review plunge, with another 10 offerings of various stripes and takes on heavy. Some higher profile stuff in here, which is fine, I guess, but most of it is pretty recent, so if there’s something you haven’t heard yet, I hope you find something you dig, as always.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Salem’s Bend, Supercluster

salems bend supercluster

This is the sound of a band who’ve figured it out. Salem’s Bend have taken retroist boogie and modern tonalism, production and melody and turned it into something of their own. Supercluster (on Ripple) follows the Los Angeles trio of guitarist/vocalist Bobby Parker, bassist/vocalist Kevin Schofield and drummer Zach Huling‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), and with an uptick in the complexity of songwriting overall and particularly in the arrangements of dual-vocals, it is a marked step forward palpable as much in the hook of “Ride the Night” — and if you’re gonna call a song that, you better bring it — as the heavy crash ending “Heavenly Manna” and the languid, lucidly dreaming groove in “Infinite Horizon,” which appears ahead of the acoustic hidden track “Beltaine Chant.” That won’t be the last time these guys unplug, but whether it’s the raw Zeppelin vibe of “Show Me the Witch” or the crunching low-end nod of “Thinking Evil” or the leadoff thrust in “Spaceduster,” the message is clear that Salem’s Bend have arrived.

Salem’s Bend on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music webstore

 

Motorpsycho, The Crucible

motorpsycho the crucible

The latest in Motorpsycho‘s nigh-on-impossible-to-chart and ever-growing discography is The Crucible, issued through Stickman Records, and taking some of the heavy rock push of 2017’s The Tower (review here) and stretching out to more willfully progressive execution across three increasingly extended tracks. Running from shortest to longest, the album begins with “Psychotzar” (8:44) which resolves itself in maddening turns after fleshing through an energetic beginning, and rounds out side A with the 11-minute “Lux Aeterna,” with vocal harmonies and mellotron building into a graceful swell of volume before a headspinner solo and jam take hold, break to near-silence and finish in a burst of directly earliest-King Crimson majesty. This all before the 20:51, side B-consuming title-track crashes in with immediate tension and plays back and forth at releasing that through a course that is rife with melody and an emphasis on the mastery of Motorpsycho over their sound and direction. Onto the list of the year’s best records it goes.

Motorpsycho on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Sigils, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves

Sigils You Built the Altar You Lit the Leaves

Hypnotic and immersive heavy post-rock and metal becomes the genre tag well enough, but what New York’s Sigils do on their markedly impressive self-recorded, self-released debut album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves, is more soulful and emotive than “post-” anything generally conveys. With four tracks/38 minutes best taken as a whole, single listening experience, the band offer resonant depths of tone and vocal echoes centered around airy but still weighted guitar and consuming rhythms brought to bear with the patience of an organic Jesu. The ultimate triumph is in the melody and payoff of 13-plus-minute closer “The Wicked, the Cloaked,” which seems to manifest the haunting sensibility that “Samhain” and “Ritual” advocate on side A, but neither will I discount the chug of the prior “Faceless” or the underlying churn in those two leadoff tracks. Especially as a first album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves casts a sonic identity for itself that is striking and sees the band already beginning to push themselves forward. One hopes they continue to do so.

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Sigils on Bandcamp

 

Lord Dying, Mysterium Tremendum

Lord Dying Mysterium Tremendum

Following 2015’s Poisoned Altars (review here), subsequent years of touring and a jump from Relapse to eOne Metal, Lord Dying‘s Mysterium Tremendum is enough of a stylistic melting pot that the best thing to do is call it progressive and just let it roll. Comprised of 11 tracks themed around death and the afterlife, the record takes the Portland, Oregon, outfit’s prior death-doom ways and expands them to incorporate an array of styles and melodies, like a vocoder-less Cynic or even Atheist, but more focused on the songs themselves. It’s being widely hailed as one of 2019’s best metal releases, and honestly I can’t speak to that because who the hell knows what “metal” even means, but it sees Lord Dying pull off a major sonic leap and if this is the direction they’re headed from now on, then I guess “metal” is going to be whatever the hell they want. So there. Expect to see a lot of Lord Dying t-shirts around in the years to come.

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eOne Heavy on Thee Facebooks

 

Sunn O))), Life Metal

sunn life metal

The core of Sunn O)))‘s sound — that is, the drone-riffed tonality of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, has proven amorphous enough over the last two decades to either be orchestral, minimalist, impossibly bleak, or now, something brighter. The Steve Albini-recorded Life Metal is one of two purported Sunn O))) releases slated for this year, and it follows behind 2015’s Kannon (review here) in manifesting their project in a new way. It is 68 minutes long, comprised of four tracks — the first, “Between Sleipnir’s Breaths,” is notable for the inclusion of vocals from Hildur Guðnadóttir; the rest is instrumental — and while one wonders how much is the power of suggestion amid their colorful artwork and titular presentation, “life” as opposed to death metal, etc., their resonance throughout “Aurora” (19:07) and “Novae” (25:24) strips away much of the flourish that has engulfed Sunn O))) in their post-maturity years and reminds of the power at their center. They chose the right producer.

Sunn O))) on Bandcamp

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Crimson Heat, Crimson Heat

Crimson Heat Crimson Heat

With a handful of tracks of dirt-coated Sabbathian doom rock, Crimson Heat make their debut with a self-titled demo/EP in no small part defined by its lack of pretense. I’d buy the tape at the show. You’d buy the tape at the show. The download is free. Clearly this is a band figuring out what they want to do and trying to catch a few ears, but the sound is right on. Notable as well for the participation of Sam Marsh of Sinister Haze, tracks like “At My Door” blend Tee Pee Records-style skate vibes with darker traditionalist crunch, and the subsequent acoustic interlude “Firewood” indeed adds a bit of burning-stove smell to the procession ahead of doomed shuffler finale “Deep Red.” They might be new, but from the nod of “Premonition” and the double-layered guitar of “Fortune Teller,” they very clearly know where they’re coming from. What they do with that from here will tell the tale, but for now, selling the tape at the show isn’t nothing. Guess they better get on pressing some up.

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Crimson Heat on Bandcamp

 

Molior Superum, As Time Slowly Passes By…

Molior Superum As Time Slowly Passes By

The boogie runs strong in Molior Superum‘s first album in seven years, As Time Slowly Passes By… (on H42 Records), the title of which might just hint at the distance between their two full-lengths. Their debut was Into the Sun (discussed here) in 2012, and they answered that with 2014’s Electric Escapism (review here), but for a band who sound so energized on cuts like “Att Födas Rostig” and “Through Valleys of Wonder,” the time differential from one record to the next is curious. Still, no question the Swedish four-piece make the most of the 36 minutes they present on their sophomore offering, realizing classic vibes and fuzz tones through modern production that recalls the likes of GraveyardJeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus and even, on “Into the Grey,” Demon Head‘s doomier fare, with an overarching bluesy sensibility that remains exciting even in moments like the hypnotic midsection build of centerpiece “Divinity Blues.” Even the closing soft-guitar title-track has movement. They sound hungry in a way that suggests maybe it won’t be another seven years before a third LP arrives.

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H42 Records

 

Moros, Weapon

moros weapon

Just because Philly is leading the Eastern Seaboard in terms of psychedelic charge, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for the guttersludge extremity of a unit like Moros. The destructive three-piece’s first full-length, Weapon (on Hidden Deity Records), is vicious in its bite and downright nasty in its groove, abrasive from the static intro “(Vortexwound)” onward through “We Don’t Deserve Death” and “Devil Worshipper,” which recalls slower Napalm Death in its riff but is met with a harsh scream as well as shouts. The brutality continues through “Wizard of Loneliness” and into the outright pummel of “Death Nebula,” such that the locked-in nodder groove in the second half of “Every Day is Worse Than the Last” feels almost like a lifeboat, though there’s little salvation on offer in the closing title-track, which fades out on a noisy note in much the same way it faded in. Filthy, mean and heavy. The crust is real and it is thick.

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Hidden Deity Records website

 

Glitter Wizard, Opera Villains

glitter wizard opera villains

I was enticed to dig further into Glitter Wizard‘s Opera Villains (on Heavy Psych Sounds) by the recent video for opener “A Spell So Evil” (posted here), and it’s not a choice I regret. The San Fran-based weirdo collective are putting on a show, no doubt, but the quality of their songwriting on “The Toxic Lady” and the punkish underpinning of “Dead Man’s Wax,” etc., puts them in a classic rocking no man’s land in which they absolutely revel. The laser-strewn drama of “March of the Red Cloaks” and the organ- and flute-laced swing of “Hall of the Oyster King” embrace the grandiose in brazen fashion, and thereby make it that much easier for the listener to join them on this wavelength that is so thoroughly their own. Closer “Warm Blood” taps prog-of-old pomposity in its largesse while the earlier “Fear of the Dark” seems to do the same thing with just an acoustic guitar and some vocal harmonies. A record that knew exactly what it wanted to be and then became that thing. Awesome.

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Gourd, Moldering Aberrations

gourd moldering aberrations

Ambient darkness is inflicted with only the cruelest of spirit throughout Gourd‘s Moldering Aberrations EP, the Irish two-piece alternating minimalist spaciousness with gurgling drone intensity, the extremity of which doesn’t so much come through in pummel or drive, but in the swell of volume and its contrast with the emptiness surrounding. Also the growls. Three tracks are offered up like monuments to pain, and through “Befoulment,” “Mycelium” and the title-track, they conjure a heft of atmosphere as much as one of low end, the claustrophobic feeling of their craft coming through even in the relatively peaceful opening of the last song. That peace, of course, isn’t so much moment of respite as it is precursor to the next plunge, and either way, Gourd work in grueling fashion over 23 minutes to dismantle consciousness and expectation with a grim, distortion-fueled chaos from which there seems to be no escape, until the rumble and noise leave “Moldering Aberrations” and there’s just residual hum and a cymbal crash left. Madness.

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Cursed Monk Records on Bandcamp

 

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Zed Post “Chingus” Video from New Album Volume

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

You can’t manufacture charm, but you can do a Lego stop motion video for one of your songs, and that’s pretty much the same thing. Say hello to Zed‘s “Chingus,” the second track to be released from their upcoming long-player, Volume, which is out one month from today, on July 26 through Ripple Music. I had occasion this weekend to see Zed at Maryland Doom Fest and I talked to bassist Mark Acaves about the video. My immediate question was how long it took to put together. The answer? Three months. Three months of work. A quarter of a year. That’s pretty nuts.

When you see the video, though, you’ll hardly be able to say it wasn’t worth the effort. With cameos from KISS — Ace Frehley seems to step in on lead guitar — as well as the Lego ghost of Lego David Bowie, the Predator chasing an Alien, and finally, the Misfits, it’s all a lot to take in. You better watch it twice. I feel like the sheer amount of labor involved — let alone the cost of the sets; as my mother always said, “Legos aren’t cheap” — warrants that at least. Plus the song rocks, so that’s nice too. Call it a win all around.

I said as much in the Maryland Doom Fest review, but these guys absolutely tore it up at the festival, 100 percent rising to the occasion of playing right before Conan on the last night of the thing and giving the crowd one last bit of supercharged rock and roll before everybody got their head smashed in. They were great and as “Chingus” follows “The Other Kind” in terms of audio from the record — let alone the cover art of the thing, which is not subtle almost enough to be subtle, full circle-style — “rising to the occasion” would seem to be the theme all the way around.

Volume is out in a month. Links and more info follow the clip below, courtesy of the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Zed, “Chingus” official video

LEGO Stop Motion Music Video for the song “Chingus” off of the forthcoming album “VOLUME” from Ripple Music.
http://www.ripple-music.com

This video was made with a bunch of Lego’s doing stop motion photography on an iPhone 8S using StopMotion Studio.

Zed is:
Pete Sattari- Guitar/Vox
Sean Boyles – Drums
Greg Lopez – Guitar
Mark Aceves – Bass

Zed, Volume (2019)

Zed on Thee Facebooks

Zed on Bandcamp

Zed website

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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Arrowhead Announce Coven of the Snake Due July 12; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

arrowhead

A four-piece where their last full-length was released as a trio, Sydney’s Arrowhead will offer up Coven of the Snake as their third album next month. Set to deliver through Ripple Music, the record is preceded by a video for the title-track that’s streaming below and tells the story in its straightforward riffing meeting head on with kaleidoscopic visuals, the band doing much the same in terms of style, taking a solid structural foundation and making it more colorful along the way. July 12 is the release date, and it marks a decade for Arrowhead, who got their start in 2009 before releasing their debut EP (review here) the next year.

Rock and roll follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

Arrowhead Coven of the Snake

ARROWHEAD Summon Spirits with the Release of COVEN OF THE SNAKE on RIPPLE MUSIC | Stream the video for new single and title track now!

Coven of the Snake is released worldwide on 12th July 2019

Rising from the underground of Sydney’s stoner rock scene, the Arrowhead brotherhood fire an explosive, all killer/no filler triptych of volume, attitude and down-tuned grooves.

Hitting you harder than a Frank Frazetta-airbrushed panel van travelling at 100mph, Arrowhead is very much a band defined by the riffs that raised them. Fronted by guitar player, vocalist and chief songwriter Brett Pearl, Brett was brought up on a staple diet of classic rock with Hendrix, Zeppelin, Floyd and Sabbath rarely leaving the turntable. Joined by fellow purveyor of low-end grind is bass player/Viking Arron Fletcher, guitarist Raff Iacurto and living backbone of the band, Matt Cramp on drums.

With each member feeding into the Arrowhead-approved vision of hard rock reverie via Hollywood monsters and science fiction cinema, having paid their dues as a band since late 2009, following on from 2010’s Atomsmasher EP, their self-titled debut and 2016’s Desert Cult Ritual, the latest addition to the quartet’s quiver is new album, Coven of the Snake. An album that is equal parts venom and mysticism, and 100% blood-bound to steal your soul in the name of rock and roll.

Arrowhead’s Coven of the Snake is released on 12th July 2019 through Ripple Music.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Coven Of The Snake
2. All Seeing Eye
3. Ceremony of the Skull
4. Ghost Ship
5. Root Of Evil
6. Dopanaught
7. March Of The Reptiles
8. Golden Thunder Hawk

ARROWHEAD:
Brett Pearl – Guitar/Vocals
Matt Cramp – Drums
Arron Fletcher – Bass Guitar
Raff Iacurto – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/ArrowheadHeavyRock/
https://arrowheadrock.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

Arrowhead, “Coven of the Snake” official video

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Roadsaw, Tinnitus the Night: Knock ‘Em All Down

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

roadsaw tinnitus the night

If you believe in ‘due,’ Roadsaw were most certainly that. The Boston heavy rock kingpins have been somewhat limited in their activity over the last half-decade or so, as their core members Tim CatzIan Ross and Craig Riggs explored other projects like White DynomiteMurcielago and Kind, but with Tinnitus the Night, the band’s signing to Ripple Music back in 2016 bears long-awaited fruit and they give their 2011 self-titled (review here) the follow-up it so much deserved, even eight years after the fact. Their sixth full-length overall in a span of 24 years going back to 1995’s One Million Dollars (discussed here), it finds this pared-down version of the band with Riggs handling frontman and drum duties alike while Catz, as ever, is on bass and some background vocals and Ross turns in a you-should-be-talking-about-IanRoss-when-you-talk-about-heavy-rock-guitarists-style performance. As a three- or four-piece, Roadsaw are an absolute powerhouse, and the luster of their work has not dulled with time away.

Tinnitus the Night, which earns immediate charm points for its title alone, comprises 10 tracks and 45 minutes of high-quality songwriting and hooks, the band essentially serving their fanbase a reminder of why they’ve been missing Roadsaw all these years. Cuts like the opener “Along for the Ride,” the extra-scorching “Final Phase” and side B’s “Find What You Need” are barn-burners in classic Roadsaw fashion, though the latter features a slowdown in its second half mirrored in its lyrics as well, while the more extended “Peel” (6:40) and “Midazolam” (7:03) — a sedative; I guess somebody had surgery? — are more spacious, touching on psychedelia while also emphasizing the vinyl construction of the album as a whole, the former positioned as the finale of side A led to by the catchy “Along for the Ride,” “Shake,” “Fat Rats” and “Final Phase” while the latter pushes outward on a solo-topped drift until its sudden stop that brings about the acoustic-based closer “Silence,” so not the actual finish of the record, but clearly the apex just the same. The sense of variety and depth that these songs add to the two sides of Tinnitus the Night isn’t to be taken for granted.

And still, one gets the sense that Roadsaw could just sit down for five minutes and bang out a tune like “Shake” whenever they felt like it. The middle component of the opening salvo is a bruiser riff with an echoing vocal melody and harmonized layers that is air-tight in its structure — nothing wasted, nothing without purpose — and RiggsRoss and Catz make it sound like just another day at the office. That’s not a comment on their performance — far from it; throughout the entire offering, they sound awfully driven for a band who haven’t released an LP in eight years — but on just how easy and natural they make what they do sound. Part of that is experience, obviously, but it goes to the heart as well of who they are as a band. They’ve never been overly flashy or indulgent — they’re punks as much as classic heavy rockers — but they’re a band who will step on stage and blow everyone else out of the room, and that’s also what’s happening with Tinnitus the Night.

roadsaw

“Along for the Ride” brings the audience into the creation of forward momentum, “Shake” pushes deeper and “Fat Rats” cuts the tempo but draws out the melody and makes them three-for-three on memorable choruses. Much the same happens on side B, with “Knock ‘Em All Down” — the chorus, “I’ve seen ’em come, I’ve seen ’em go/But none of that matters now/I’ve had enough, more than enough/You wanna set ’em up I’ll knock ’em downs” feels purely autobiographical — “Find What You Need” (likewise) and “Under the Devil’s Thumb.” If we’re picking highlights, the latter might be mine, at least for today, as it answers back the vocal layering of “Shake” while holding an upbeat rhythm and makes tradtionalist fare sound fresh as only truly great songcraft can. But again, Roadsaw make it all sound easy, fluid, natural. Ain’t no thing to just toss out six or seven flawless slabs of heavy rock, then, you know, maybe space out a bit or kick into the next gear, whichever suits the moment. I’m not in a band, but I imagine that if I was, Roadsaw would be infuriating to listen to.

So if “Along for the Ride,” “Shake,” “Fat Rats,” “Knock ‘Em All Down,” “Find What You Need” and “Under the Devil’s Thumb” serve as the root of Tinnitus the Night‘s impact, the moments where the band branches out are no less pivotal. After the rush of “Final Phase,” “Peel” rolls forth on a slower, thicker-feeling progression that pushes the vocals deeper to give a sense of largesse and seems to pull the punch of Catz‘s bass forward for the same reason, even as Ross solos into oblivion, seeming to crunch as the track winds its way toward the five-minute mark, but they were right to leave it. A mellower stretch follows but the nod resumes and takes its time fading. “Midazolam” feels even bigger in its melody, and its crescendo tops Ross‘ solo with the chorus in such a way as to unquestionably be the payoff for the album as a whole, but cuts short at 6:48, perhaps to convey the moment of losing consciousness. Its transition to “Silence” is stark and clearly meant to be that. Keys, drums, acoustic guitar, effects wash and a quiet distorted riff back Riggs in “Silence” and the feeling is very much one of epilogue to Tinnitus the Night; the party is over and they know it. Fair enough.

Even that swapping position — “Final Phase” before the longer track on side A, “Silence” after the longer track on side B — and the fact that those two songs are more or less opposites, should give the audience some idea of the range with which Roadsaw are ultimately working while still basically keeping to verse/chorus patterning. They don’t need to do otherwise. The only question as regards Tinnitus the Night is what it might lead to. Is it the last Roadsaw album? One final blowout? They certainly sound like they have more to say, but that’s never stopped bands from stopping before. When in 2008 they released See You in Hell! after an eight-year absence, they followed three years after that with the self-titled. They had three records out between 1995 and 2000. So maybe Roadsaw do things in bunches. I don’t know. What feels more important in listening to Tinnitus the Night is appreciating the level of accomplishment Roadsaw bring to what they do. It is a majestic execution of a purposefully un-majestic form.

Maybe it leads to something, maybe it leads to nothing. The point is that after eight long years and a shift in lineup, Roadsaw came back to stake their claim on their legacy and add to it with one more round of their nigh-unmatched execution. It’s a gift to their listenership and should be received as such.

Roadsaw, Tinnitus the Night (2019)

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Ripple Music website

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