Posted in audiObelisk on May 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Texas fuzz forerunners Wo Fat are inching closer to the May 20 release date of their sixth album, Midnight Cometh (review here), on Ripple Music. The Dallas trio are newly returned from a second round through Europe alongside heavy rock chaosbringers Mothership that included stops at Desertfest in Berlin and London, as well as a host of packed-out club shows that only seemed to put an exclamation point on how much Wo Fat have grown over the last several years, in prestige as much as sound. They find themselves now among the foremost in the American heavy underground, legitimate ambassadors of US heavy with a sound of their own they’ve meticulously developed over the course of records like 2014’s The Conjuring (review here), 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here) — the two comprising an inescapable duo of LPs issued through Small Stone — and so on back through their catalog, each grown out of the accomplishments of the album before it. Crucially, while dealing familiar elements to their audience — heavy riffs, sprawling jams, bluesy vibes, an undercurrent of Southern grit and what guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump once referred to as “bayou juju” — they’ve never failed to move forward with each new release.
Midnight Cometh is no exception to that. I’ve already reviewed it — hence the link in the first sentence above — so I won’t dive too deep here, but the progression that Wo Fat have undertaken over their records, from one to the next, is as evident in the listening experience as it is clear in its intent. With an increased drive toward improvisation matched with a penchant for straightforward, landmark hooks like those in “Of Smoke and Fog” and “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” and “Nightcomer” on the new album, Stump and drummer/vocalist Michael Walter (who played with bassist Ryan Lee of Crypt Trip on the Euro tour) still sound most of all like themselves, but increase their grasp on their aesthetic in a way that speaks not only to pushing themselves in their writing process, but to the chemistry they’ve developed on stage. They stand at the top of a crowded Dallas scene and have rightly garnered an international reputation for quality output, and as they ease into a more statesman-style role, their refusal to rest on past laurels becomes even more admirable. They are, to be blunt, the very best kind of heavy rock band.
With the record release looming like a devil at the crossroads of blues and fuzz, I’m thrilled to be able to premiere “Nightcomer,” the 10-minute closing track from Midnight Cometh. Don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say much about it other than it sums up a lot of what’s working best throughout the album preceding, and that if you know Wo Fat — and by now, you probably should — you’re going to be glad you took the time to dig in.
Please find the track on the player below, followed by some comment from Stump, and enjoy:
Kent Stump on “Nightcomer”
“’Nightcomer’ is a heavy voodoo blues doom jam. The name is a reference to the midnight rider at the crossroads of blues lore and it’s essentially about corporate greed, dealings with the devil and consequences.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Michigan heavy rockers BoneHawk have issued their debut album, Albino Rhino, via Ripple Music. The awaited offering follows behind a late-2014 self-released edition and a limited vinyl run through Hornacious Wax Records. There was a second pressing of that, but like the first one, it went quickly. No word on a third for the LP, but Ripple‘s CD edition is out now, and to the best of my knowledge it’s the first compactular discus edition, and no doubt its reception will be as here-and-gone as was the vinyl.
The PR wire brings copious background for those who’d dig in:
BoneHawk: Share brand new album from hard hitting Michigan quartet, out now on Ripple Music
The story of BoneHawk is one that started as early as third grade, in an unassuming Kalamazoo school, where guitarist/vocalist Matt Helt and guitarist Chad Houts first met and bonded instantly over a shared appreciation of video games, pizza, poster girls and rock and roll. At the age of fourteen, Helt, already an accomplished drummer would jam along with Houts in the family’s basement to songs handpicked from the pair’s ever growing record collections. As the years passed by with each feeding the other on a steady diet of thrash metal and classic rock, when Helt eventually succumbed to the bug and traded in his drum set for a guitar, the duo quickly discovered that being in a band meant everything.
After toiling in various local outfits for years, around 2006 Helt and Houts formed Mesa with close friend Joel Wick (Quixote, Jihad), with the three deciding to put together something that paid homage to the heavy riffs they discovered as teens growing up in the mid 90s. Specifically, that beguiling breed of heavy rock directly influenced by the mighty Black Sabbath. The band would only release one record during this period, a 7” on Michigan’s UFO Dictator Records before breaking up to clear a path for the official formation of BoneHawk in 2011.
Helt and Houts envisioned combining Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy-esque harmonies with the straight-up grooves of Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and the twin guitar assault of Judas Priest and Kiss. Enlisting old band mate Chris Voss on bass, after the departure of Wick the trio set about recording their debut album Albino Rhino, with Helt taking on vocal duties and returning to the drum stool.
Recorded and mixed by Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders in Detroit and initially released as a limited run of ‘Albino vinyl’ through Hornacious Wax Records in 2014, with newly appointed personnel in the form of drummer Jay Rylander and bassist Taylor Wallace (formerly of Wilson) the band played packed out local shows in support of the record. In less than two months all double LP copies of Albino Rhino had sold out, calling for a second ‘Ultraviolet Purple’ pressing and leaving Ripple Music boss Todd Severin in no doubt about the band’s true potential.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Bonehawk,” explains Severin. “From the moment I heard their two guitar blitz I was hooked on their sound. Albino Rhino is a masterwork of modern harmony guitar and post NWOBHM heaviness, with real stoner grit. A true gem of an album and we’re excited to be involved in the worldwide release of this CD.”
Posted in Reviews on April 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are few if any US heavy rock acts going who can match the consistent quality of Wo Fat‘s output over the last half-decade. The Dallas fuzz riffers have grown into a distinct and distinguished outfit that is always identifiable from release to release, but never fails to grow. This is true as well of their sixth studio LP, Midnight Cometh — also their first for Ripple Music after issuing 2014’s The Conjuring (review here) and 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here) on Small Stone — in that its six songs/49 minutes bring the band’s sound another step forward, as shown in adding percussion elements to opener “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” in the vocal confidence of guitarist Kent Stump and in the overarching fluidity of the trio’s jams, of which there are many, and the poise with which they blend the catchy hooks of “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” “Riffborn,” “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Le Dilemme de Detenu,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” — yes, all six tracks — with the more open and improvised-feeling stretches.
In some ways, Wo Fat aren’t doing much different than they did on earlier outings like 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here) or 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), in that they blend a swamp boogie atmosphere with memorable songcraft, a jam-ready sensibility and strong chemistry between Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter, but they leave little room as to the question of whether or not that basic pattern has been refined, and while The Conjuring felt like a landmark in their ascent to the fore of the American heavy underground — it was the record that took them to Europe, for example — Midnight Cometh once again reaffirms that their position is well earned.
It does not fix what wasn’t broken in their sound, but neither is it stagnant. In much the same way Wo Fat‘s sound has become more identifiable over the last decade since their 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark, so too has it progressed. They begin at a tumult with “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” but soon hammer out an upbeat groove over which Stump slides in a solo before a percussion-laden verse and are into the chorus before the two-minute mark, wasting no time in setting the table for much of what will follow and build on the Southern voodoo blues atmosphere represented in David Paul Seymour‘s cover art and which “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” would seem to address directly while second track “Riffborn” and side B opener “Le Dilemme de Detenu” take their focus elsewhere.
The split between the two halves of Midnight Cometh is of particular note, since it’s something of a departure from The Conjuring, which wrapped with its 17-minute jam-minded title-track. Here, Wo Fat give each portion of the record a grand finale, in “Of Smoke and Fog” and “Nightcomer,” respectively, and the effect is to make the listening experience focused less on any individual piece than on the affect and the flow of the album as a whole. I wouldn’t argue with either methodology, particularly since while there are commonalities between songs mostly in the structuring of choruses, the band takes care to shift here and there in vibe, whether it’s the more stripped down “Riffborn,” which is faster and jams its way through its second half and out having long since left its hook behind, or the mega-swinging “Le Dilemme de Detenu” (“the dilemma of the detained”), with swagger enough for a full-length on its own, never mind the ultra-fluid hypnosis they’ve just enacted across “Of Smoke and Fog.”
That track — “Of Smoke and Fog” — emphasizes a lot of what Wo Fat have come to accomplish at this stage in their progression. It moves easily through hooks and jams and even trips out psychedelic around eight minutes in, but never lets go of its sense of purpose, and while it’s also the longest cut on Midnight Cometh at 10:47, it puts that time to use summarizing the album’s course. At the end of side B, “Nightcomer” works in a similar vein, but with a darker feel and bigger chorus, with Stump and Walter offering some vocal harmonies before the final jam. Prior to that, the penultimate “Three Minutes to Midnight” showcases the comfort level the trio feel in pushing out a faster hook and more straightforward songcraft — yet another stuck-in-your-head hook — while also bringing back some of the percussive elements of the opener, and the fact that their structures are no less molten than their jams, able to be manipulated to suit the purposes of a given track, is among Midnight Cometh‘s most engaging aspects.
Whatever the pace or trajectory, Wo Fat play like a band six albums deep. They know what they want their sound to do, they know how to make it happen, and they know that to keep it interesting for themselves and their audience, they need to continue to challenge beyond what they’ve done before. Stump has emerged as a frontman and sounds in command of the material here, and together with Walter and Wilson, they’re more of a power trio able to bring their live dynamic to a studio recording without sacrificing fidelity to the cause of a superficially organic sound. Midnight Cometh comes across as full and natural, and continues Wo Fat‘s streak of highlight outings, making it all the more apparent just how much they need to be in the conversation of the best currently active fuzz purveyors, within Texas or without. They’ve long since come into their own, but they’re reshaping what “their own” is, and it’s a joy to watch for those lucky enough to be paying attention. One of the year’s best in heavy.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Kind‘s 2015 debut album, Rocket Science (review here), is available now on vinyl through Ripple Music. The band have done some sporadic live shows over the months since the CD dropped last December, as members continue their work on other bands and tours — drummer Matt Couto out with Elder again, bassist Tom Corino wrapping up the awaited debut from Rozamov, vocalist Craig Riggs (also Roadsaw and White Dynomite) touring on drums with Sasquatch, guitarist Darryl Shepard busy being the mayor of Boston heavy rock — but it seems their intention is to head to Europe in October and do a round of shows to support the record. They’ve just signed a deal with Total Volume Agency, in good company with the likes of Valley of the Sun, Geezer, Tuber, Blaak Heat, Naxatras and Funeral Horse, which will no doubt help them in that cause.
Total Volume announced the partnership thusly:
Total Volume – First addition to our roster this year : KIND!
Formed in 2013 by Matt Couto (Elder), Darryl Shepard (Black Pyramid, The Scimitar) and Tom Corino (ROZAMOV) – after the trio spent time jamming together in-between day-to-day commitments – the doom supergroup KIND quickly cemented their formation with the addition of Roadsaw vocalist Craig Riggs.
Out of the mind-bending riffs and extended jam sessions, whole songs began to take shape through winter rehearsals down in Couto’s freezing cold basement in 2014, where the newly formed quartet began laying down ideas for their soon to be released debut, Rocket Science, which officially landed this December on Ripple Music.
Shows were soon booked to share the tunes with the curious. Further riffs materialized, new songs banged into shape, and yet more shows confirmed, so keen were the band to test their mettle and mixture of heavy metal, psych, Krautrock and straight-up classic rock and roll.
With four songs recorded at Mad Oak Studios serving as the band’s demo in the spring of 2015, KIND entered New Alliance Studios with engineer Alec Rodriguez to record their first full-length, Rocket Science, which received an official release this past December on the California-based label Ripple Music.
[Click play above to stream Red Wizard’s Cosmosis in full. Album is out April 8 on Ripple Music and STB Records.]
San Diego heavy rockers Red Wizard make their full-length debut with Cosmosis, following-up a 2014 self-titled EP that rounded out with a harmonica-laced cover of Black Sabbath‘s “The Wizard.” That in itself should tell you something about the brazen nature of the band, and in particular, their interest in getting to the roots of what sonic heft is all about.
With the burly dudery of Travis Baucum‘s vocals out front, dual guitars in Miles Von Ricketson (lead) and Casey Lamontagne (rhythm), the bass of David Wilburn and Shane Kepler‘s drumming, they would seem to be arriving at their first album with clearheaded intent — but for all the booze — and what seems like it’s going to be a simple affair on opening track “Tides of War” becomes something much more stylistically nuanced as the record plays out its seven-track/37-minute course, remaining defined in no small part by its lack of pretense as it goes, whether that’s manifest in the proto-metallic three-parter “The Red Wizard Suite,” which closes, or in the more doomed “The Temples of Tinnitus,” which hits earlier. Rough tonal edges give a metal vibe, but the groove is heavy and Baucum‘s voice, though high in the mix here and there, as on “Tides of War,” adds a bluesy undertone that finds fitting accompaniment from his harmonica in the more swinging “Blinded,” which soon enough gives way to the 10-minute title-track; another on the growing list of vibes Red Wizard cast throughout their debut’s span.
That is, in fact, the album’s primary impression: Red Wizard‘s refusal to commit to a single-mindedness of sound where so many of their West Coast contemporaries find themselves leaning to one side of the “heavy” umbrella or another, whether that’s doom, stoner rock, psychedelia, prog, whatever it might be. The five-piece play multiple facets off each other in different tracks, and whether this is born of an exploratory process — i.e., if they’re finding their sound — or if ultimately that sense of variety will define their work over the longer term, it doesn’t really matter at this point, since what Cosmosis demonstrates aside from this breadth is that Red Wizard have the boldness to cover this ground while also uniting the material through atmosphere and songcraft.
To wit, bass opens “Tides of War,” which then unfolds a rolling groove and catchy hook leading the listener into the album, but there’s a hint of something harder as well, and that will be the case as well with the biker rock revenge fantasy of “The Red Wizard Suite Part III” at the end of the tracklisting. In between, Red Wizard don’t think twice about the jumps in sound that the switch to a slower, drawling doom in “The Temples of Tinnitus” — near Candlemassian in its traditionalism — and the subsequent swap to start-stop swing of “Blinded” represent, let alone the psychedelic jamming that emerges in “Cosmosis” itself. They present the material simply, and on first listen, one might even mistake Cosmosis for a simple work, but while the bulk of its material is straightforward, the key to understanding it as a whole is in how songs play off each other stylistically, and that’s bound to come through clearer on repeat visits.
Further, the fluidness of the title-track, which finds Baucum echoing out a series of “heys” as Kepler‘s drums lead the way into the psychedelic jam, underscores the ease that the band feels on what, it’s important to remember, is still their first outing. Von Ricketson‘s guitar spaces out patiently in “Cosmosis” as Kepler and Lamontagne and Wilburn hold the tension in a classically heavy spirit, the band gradually building and making their way back toward a chorus, where the vocals are waiting to tie the piece together. From there, the move into “The Red Wizard Suite Part I,” the shorter instrumental “The Red Wizard Suite Part II” and “The Red Wizard Suite Part III” is undertaken with no more fanfare than any prior, the first part of the suite introducing itself with quietly progressive strums that just seem to be waiting for a flute to join in, and launching into a play between doomly roll and more forward-propelled rock.
Baucum shifting momentarily into a growl in the midsection before the song closes out with a big finish, leading to the Motörhead-style chug of “The Red Wizard Suite Part II,” marked out by its dueling leads, and finally, the “Symptom of the Universe”-style riffing of “The Red Wizard Suite Part III,” which mirrors the catchiness of “Tides of War” and offers an efficient if rough finish to both the suite and the record as a whole, the track kind of falling apart as it crashes out. Somehow, despite the ground Red Wizard cover on Cosmosis, that ending makes sense, as though at the end of a set, they finally decided to let the wheels come flying off. Fair enough. The brash nature of Cosmisis demands that kind of thing, and sets a high standard for the five-piece going forward, with multiple avenues of progression to potentially follow through, each of which hold promise in themselves in addition to how they might combine in Red Wizard‘s sound.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This won’t actually be Chron Goblin‘s first European incursion, since the uptempo Calgary good-time rockers hit UK shores to play Desertfest London three years ago. It will definitely, however, be the first time they cross the Atlantic (and much of the North American continent to get there, if you want to be geographically correct about it) in support of their new album, Backwater (review here), and that’s enough to make it an event. They’re joined in this endeavor by the France-based/Spanish-named thematic riffers Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, also labelmates on Ripple Music, and the run starts May 31 in their hometown of Strasbourg, near the German border.
The two groups will be back and forth between France, Germany and Switzerland through June 12, with the shows presented by Total Volume Agency. Chron Goblin put the word out via the social medias, from whence the following poster by Un Sang d’Encre and info comes, followed by the band’s video for “Fuller,” ready for the digging:
Chron Goblin to tour Europe May 31 – June 12
We are overjoyed to announce that we’ll be playing in France, Germany and Switzerland with Ripple Music labelmates Los Disidentes Del Sucio Motel this spring! This is a dream come true for us and we’ve been itching to return overseas since performing at Desertfest UK in 2013. Many thanks to Total Volume Agency for setting this up and cheers to Un Sang d’Encre for the wicked Beavers and Roosters tour poster.
Chron Goblin & Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel on tour: May 31 – La Maison Bleue / Dirty 8 – Strasbourg (Fr) June 1 – Rare Guitar – Münster (De) June 2 – Immerhin Würzburg – Wurzburg (De) June 3 – cassiopeia Berlin – Berlin (De) June 4 – Rockpool eV – Halle (De) June 6 – Bucéphale – Draguignan (Fr) June 7 – Post Tenebras Rock – L’Usine – Genève (Ch) June 8 – Gaswerk – Winterthur (Ch) June 9 – Coq d’Or – Olten (Ch) June 10 – Les Passagers du Zinc – Besançon (Fr) June 11 – Warmaudio – Lyon (Fr) June 12 – Le Klub – Paris (Fr)
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This seems an awful lot like a winning match. I’ve heard the Gozu record, and among the primary impressions I have of the band at this point is the fact that they should be touring. They play locally a lot, and they’ve been to Europe before, certainly, but they should be on the road. Particularly for the upcoming Revival (review pending), they’re more than ready to take their game to a wider public, and since Europe is where that kind of thing happens these days, teaming up with the booking arm of the oh-so-busy Heavy Psych Sounds, yeah, that’s a good way to go.
Looks like September is when they’ll head over, as the PR wire explains:
Well the old saying, “Rock is my business and business been good.” This statement is definitely coming true for the Boston 4 piece Gozu.
First signing earlier this year to California’s heavy rock label, Ripple Music, and having their new album coming out to the masses in June they have now teamed up with Italy’s Heavy Psych Records Booking department for their upcoming European tour in September.
“The group is very excited to be working with Gabriel, the brains behind Heavy Psych.” said vocalist/guitarist Marc Gaffney. His roster is incredibly strong and all of us enjoy the bands that he works with and felt it would be a comfortable home. When booking a tour you want to feel a sense of calmness and togetherness and that was concretely evident, hence signing with Heavy Psych to book the band. We feel it will be a vibrant and fortuitous relationship.”
“Ripple Music is thrilled to have Gozu touring Europe with Heavy Psych Sounds Booking,” said Ripple Music CEO Todd Severin. “They’ve done a great job of booking European tours for other Ripple bands, such as Ape Machine and Mos Generator, and as the relationship between our two like-minded organizations grows hopefully they will be able to help many more Ripple bands tour Europe in the future.”
Look for the Ripple album, Revival, to hit the stores on both sides of the Atlantic on June 10th, in LP, CD and digital formats. Available world-wide in music outlets and the Ripple Music Webstore, and digitally via Ripple Music Bandcamp and all known digital platforms
“Gozu is extremely excited to get back to Europe and let the rock roll,” said Gaffney “So see you all in September as there will truly be a Revival!”
Posted in Reviews on April 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Thus ends another successful Quarterly Review. And by successful I mean I survived. There were a few minutes there when I actually thought about spreading this out to six days, doing another batch of 10 on Monday, but then what happens? Then it’s seven days, then eight, then nine, and before I know it I’m just doing 10 reviews every day and it’s more of a daily review than a quarterly one. Next week we’ll get back to whatever passes for normality around this place, and at the end of June, I’ll have another batch to roll with. Maybe the beginning of July, depending on time. In any case, thank you for reading this week. I hope you’ve found something in all this that you’ve dug, and that this final round offers something else that resonates.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
Chron Goblin, Backwater
Calgary party rockers Chron Goblin pay homage to Seattle with a song named after the city on their third album, Backwater (on Ripple Music), but they continue to have way more in common with Portland, Oregon. The follow-up to 2013’s Life for the Living (review here) pushes into psychedelic groove early in its title-track and gets bluesy for most of the subsequent “The Wailing Sound,” but it seems even that song can’t resist the urge to throw down and have a good time by the end, and cuts like “Give Way,” the galloping opener “Fuller” and the requisite “Hard Living” reaffirm the band’s commitment to heavy riffs and positive vibes. The stylistic elephant in the room continues to be Red Fang, but as they’ve done all along, Chron Goblin work in shades of other influences in heavy rock – if they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d call it Roadsaw – and put a stamp of their own on the style.
“Mercenary Blues” is near-immediate in telegraphing the level of heft Slabdragger will emit across their second album, Rise of the Dawncrusher, which tops an hour in five tracks (one of them four minutes long) and shifts between clean vocals, screams and growls from bassist/vocalist Yusuf Tary and guitarist/vocalist Sam Thredder as drummer Jack Newham holds together tempo shifts no less drastic. The shorter cut, “Evacuate!,” is an extreme take on heavy rock, but as Slabdragger move through the extended “Shrine of Debauchery” (12:23), “Dawncrusher Rising” (15:16) and “Implosion Rites” (17:20), their methods prove varied enough so that their material is more than just an onslaught of thickened distortion. I wouldn’t call it progressive exactly, but neither is it lunkheaded in its intention or execution, as the chanted melodies buried deep in “Shrine of Debauchery”’s lumber, derived perhaps in part from Conan and Sleep but beholden to neither so much as its own righteous purposes.
Finnish heavy psychedelic rockers Jupiter take a decidedly naturalist position when it comes to their style. Yeah, there are some effects on the guitars throughout Interstellar Chronidive, the trio’s second album behind 2014’s Your Eccentric State of Mind, but it’s more about what the three players can accomplish with dynamic tempo and mood changes than it is creating a wash, and that gives songs like “Stonetrooper” and “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” a classic feel despite a decidedly modern production. “Premonitions” provides raucous fuzz worthy of any next-gen stoners you want to name, and the 14-minute “In Flux” answers its own initial thrust with and expansive, liquefied jam that’s all the more emblematic of the organic core to their approach, Hendrix-derived but not Hendrix-emulating. Bright guitar tone, rich bass and swinging drums aren’t necessarily unfamiliar elements, but the touches of space rock narration on “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” and the consuming nod of closer “Vantage Point” assure there’s no shortage of personality to go around.
Also stylized as IZ? with a long accent over the ‘o,’ Izo is the self-titled debut from Italian double-guitar instrumental four-piece Izo, who bookend four flowing and densely weighted progressions with an intro and outro to add to the atmospheric breadth. Rather than choose between heaviness or ambience, Izo – guitarists Paolo Barone and Maurizio Calò, bassist Francesco de Pascali and drummer Luca Greco – play both into each other so that a song like “Hikkomori” is as engaging in its heft as it is hypnotic. That might be easier to do without vocals, but it’s essential to Izo’s approach, and something that, for their debut, sets up future expansion of post-metal and psychedelic elements. I’m not sure if there’s a theme or narrative for the album, but consistent use of Japanese language and imagery ties the material together all the same, and Izo emerge from their first album having shown a clearheadedness of purpose that can only continue to serve them well.
Cultist made their introductory statement in the early hours of 2016 with Three Candles, a five-song EP from the social media-averse Cleveland, Ohio, trio featuring members of Skeletonwitch, Mockingbird and Howl. In the wall of fuzz they construct, the swing injected into their rhythms and the use of multiple vocalists, there’s a strong undercurrent of Uncle Acid to “Path of the Old One,” but “Consuming Damnation” distinguishes itself with a more aggressive take, rawer in its melodies, and the creeping closer “Eternal Dark” is up to something entirely more doomed. How this balance will play out with the more familiar riff-patterning in “Follow Me” is the central question, but for their first tracks to be made public, Cultist’s Three Candles offers fullness of sound and the realization of an aesthetic purpose. Yes, there’s room to grow, but they already have a better handle on what they want to do than a lot of bands, so it should be interesting to keep up.
Ultra-thick, ultra-dank, Haoma is the work of Swedish duo R (bass/vocals) and S (drums), and the three-tracker Eternal Stash is their second self-released EP. The offering takes its title from the opener and longest track (immediate points), and wastes no time with subtlety in getting down on molten Cisneros-style stoner-doom grooves. Sleep meets Om isn’t a huge divide to cross, but there’s a blown-out sensibility to the vocals as well that speaks to some element of Electric Wizard at play, and the overarching roughness suits Haoma’s tonal crunch well. Even when they break to wah bass in the second half of “Eternal Stash” to set up the ensuing jam, this underlying harshness remains, and “Unearthly Creatures” and “Orbital Flight” build on that, the latter with a march that feels more decidedly individual even if constructed on familiar ground. Heavy, raw, unpretentious celebration of groove is almost always welcome by me, and so Haoma’s Eternal Stash is likewise.
Another boon to Poland’s emerging heavy rock scene, Wroclaw’s Spaceslug slime their way out of the ground with their debut long-player, Lemanis, a seven-cut paean to weighted tone and laid back roll. Vocally, the trio seem to take a cue from the Netherlands’ Sungrazer, but their riffs are far more dense and while the penultimate interlude “Quintessence” and the earlier “Galectelion” demonstrate a sense of spaciousness, the context in which that arrives is much more weighted and, particularly in the second half of “Supermassive,” feels culled from the Sleep school of Iommic idolatry. No complaints. The record clocks in at 43 minutes all told and in no way overstays its welcome, rounding out with the nine-minute title-track, an instrumental that’s probably not improvised but comes across as exploratory all the same. The CD version is out through BSFD Records, but don’t be surprised when someone picks it up for a vinyl issue, as both the front-to-back flow and the artwork seem to be made for it.
An element of twang that seems present even in the most uproarious moments of Slush’ American Demons tape comes to the fore with the brief “Leshy,” a quick, fleetly-strummed bit of slide guitar the follows highlight cut “Bathysphere” and precedes “Death Valley,” both of which bask full-on in the garage shake, proto-punk vibe and anything goes swagger the Brooklynite trio have on offer throughout their third EP. That countrified twist plays well alongside the drawling skate rock of “In the Flesh,” which seems to take on some of The Shrine’s West Coast skate vibes with a twist of New York fuckall, and the quick crotchal thrust off “Silk Road,” which serves as Slush’ most purely punkish moment. “Death Valley” closes out with a tale of drugs and the desert, the vocals somewhere between Misfits and early Nick Cave, drenched in attitude and accompanied by fuzz that seems to be likewise. Bonus points for the silver tape and copious included art and info.
Strange spirits are afoot throughout Menimals’ Menimals, the maybe-debut from the Italian troupe who engage wantonly in the proliferation of post-Mike Patton creepy darkjazz across five cuts of sparse, spacious weirdness. Issued through Phonosphera/Riot Season, it’s a work of high atmospheric density but ultimately more about mood than sonic impact, evoking complex shapes – dodecahedrons, tetrahedrons, octahedrons – as a mirror for its own quizzical mission. The kind of record that those who don’t spend time trying to figure it out are going to have more fun with, it makes its most effective impression on “Transitioning from a Cube to the Octahedron” on side B, evoking minimalist drone rock atmospheres as whispered vocals tie it to the rest of Menimals’ bizarre vibe. That’s not to take away from the noisy finish of closer “Bird on the Wind as a Hinge,” which follows, just to note that Menimals manage to somehow find balance in all the subdued seething and resonant experimentalism.
By way of a confession, I wanted to end this batch of 50 reviews with something I knew I dug, and that distinction goes to Houston rockers Linus Pauling Quartet, whose latest full-length, Ampalanche, is released via the label wing of Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum. An album that offers some of the most pretense-free rock flute I’ve ever heard on “Slave to the Die,” it’s a down-home weirdo rocker that might, at a moment’s notice, plunge full-on into psychedelia in “Sometimes” or, say, include a 49-minute echoing space-drone “Vi, de Druknede (We, the Drowned)” as a download-only bonus track, and the fact that Linus Pauling Quartet can always be relied on for something different but consistent in charm and the quality of songwriting is not to be taken for granted, whether it’s the Midwestern noise rock of “Brisket” or the fuzzy roll of dreamy album-closer “Alive.” Yeah, I was doing myself a favor by finishing with Ampalanche. I have absolutely zero regrets. Linus Pauling Quartet continue to be woefully underappreciated.