Quarterly Review: Slift, IIVII, Coogans Bluff, Rough Spells, Goblinsmoker, Homecoming, Lemurian Folk Songs, Ritual King, Sunflowers, Maya Mountains

Posted in Reviews on March 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Thursday. Everyone doing well? Healthy? Kicking ass? Working from home? There seems to be a lot of that going around, at least among the lucky. New Jersey, where I live, is on lockdown with non-essential businesses shuttered, roads largely empty and all that. It can be grim and apocalyptic feeling, but I’m finding this Quarterly Review to be pretty therapeutic or at least helpfully distracting at a moment when I very much need something to be that. I hope that if you’re reading this, whether you’ve been following along or not, it’s done or can do the same for you if that’s what you need. I’ll leave it at that.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

The second album from French space/psych trio Slift is a 72-minute blowout echoshred epic — too aware not to be prog but too cosmic not to be space rock. Delivered through Stolen Body Records and Vicious Circle, Ummon is not only long, it speaks to a longer term. It’s not an album for this year, or for this decade, or for any other decade, for that matter. It’s for the ongoing fluid now. You want to lose yourself in the depths of buzz and dreamy synth? Yeah, you can do that. You want to dig into the underlying punk and maybe a bit of Elder influence in the vocal bark and lead guitar shimmer of “Thousand Helmets of Gold?” Well hell’s bells, do that. The mega-sprawling 2LP is a gorgeous blast of distortion, backed by jazzy, organic drum wud-dum-tap and the bass, oh, the bass; the stuff of low end sensory displacement. Amid swirls and casts of melodic light in “Dark Was Space, Cold Were the Stars,” Slift dilate universal energy and push beyond the noise wash reaches of “Son Dong’s Cavern” and through the final build, liftoff and roll of 13-minute closer “Lions, Tigers and Bears” with the deft touch of those dancing on prior conceptions. We’d be lucky to have Ummon as the shape of space rock to come.

Slift on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records store

Vicious Circle Records store

 

IIVII, Grinding Teeth/Zero Sleep

Two LPs telling two different stories released at the same time, Grinding Teeth/Zero Sleep (on Consouling Sounds) brings Josh Graham‘s aural storytelling to new cinematic reaches. The composer, guitarist, synthesist, programmer, visual artist, etc., is joined along the way by the likes of Jo Quail, Ben Weinman (ex-The Dillinger Escape Plan), Dana Schecter (Insect Ark), Sarah Pendleton (ex-SubRosa) and Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) — among others — but across about 90 minutes of fluidity, Graham/IIVII soundtracks two narratives through alternatingly vast and crushing drone. The latter work is actually an adaptation from a short sci-fi film about, yes, humanity losing its ability to sleep — I feel you on that one — but the former, which tells a kind of meth-fueled story of love and death, brings due chaos and heft to go with its massive synthesized scope. Josh Graham wants to score your movie. You should let him. And you should pay him well. And you should let him design the poster. And you should pay him well for that too. End of story.

IIVII on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds store

 

Coogans Bluff, Metronopolis

coogans bluff metronopolis

Following the initial sax-laden prog-rock burst and chase that is opener “Gadfly,” Berlin’s Coogans Bluff bring a ’70s pastoralia to “Sincerely Yours,” and that atmosphere ends up staying with Metronopolis — their fifth album — for the duration, no matter where else they might steer the sound. And they do steer the sound. Sax returns (as it will) in the jabbing “Zephyr,” a manic shred taking hold in the second half accompanied by no-less-manic bass, and “Creature of the Light” reimagines pop rock of the original vinyl era in the image of its own weirdness, undeniably rock but also something more. Organ-inclusive highlight “Soft Focus” doesn’t so much touch on psychedelics as dunk its head under their warm waters, and “The Turn I” brings an almost Beatlesian horn arrangement to fruition ahead of the closer “The Turn II.” But in that finale, and in “Hit and Run,” and way back in “Sincerely Yours,” Coogans Bluff hold that Southern-style in their back pocket as one of several of Metronopolis‘ recurring themes, and it becomes one more element among the many at their disposal.

Coogans Bluff on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution store

 

Rough Spells, Ruins at Midday

rough spells ruins at midday

An underlying current of social commentary comes coated in Rough Spells‘ mysticism on Ruins at Midday, the Toronto unit’s second LP. Recorded by Ian Blurton and presented by Fuzzed and Buzzed and DHU Records, the eight-track LP has, as the lyrics of “Chance Magic” say, “No bad intentions.” Indeed, it seems geared only toward eliciting your participation in its ceremony of classic groove, hooks and melodies, even the mellow “Die Before You Die” presenting an atmosphere that’s heavy but still melodic and accessible. “Grise Fiord” addresses Canada’s history of mistreating its native population, while “Pay Your Dues” pits guitar and vocal harmonics against each other in a shove of proto-metallic energy to rush momentum through side B and into the closing pair of the swaggering “Nothing Left” and the title-track, which is the longest single cut at five minutes, but still keeps its songwriting taut with no time to spare for indulgences. In this, and on several fronts, Ruins at Midday basks in multifaceted righteousness.

Rough Spells on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzed and Buzzed store

DHU Records store

 

Goblinsmoker, A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze

goblinsmoker a throne in haze a world ablaze

Upside the head extreme sludgeoning! UK trio Goblinsmoker take on the more vicious and brutal end of sludge with the stench of death on A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze (on Sludgelord Records), calling to mind the weedian punishment of Belzebong and others of their decrepit ilk. Offered as part two of a trilogy, A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze is comprised of three tracks running a caustic 26 minutes thick enough such that even its faster parts feel slow, a churning volatility coming to the crash of “Smoked in Darkness” at the outset only to grow more menacing in the lurch of centerpiece “Let Them Rot” — which of course shifts into blastbeats later on — and falling apart into noise and echoing residual feedback after the last crashes of “The Forest Mourns” recede. Beautifully disgusting, the release reportedly furthers the story of the Toad King depicted on its cover and for which the band’s prior 2018 EP was named, and so be it. The lyrics, largely indecipherable in screams, are vague enough that if you’re not caught up, you’ll be fine. Except you won’t be fine. You’ll be dead. But it’ll be awesome.

Goblinsmoker on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

 

Homecoming, LP01

homecoming lp01

Progressive metal underpins French trio Homecoming‘s aptly-titled first record, LP01, with the guitars of second cut “Rivers of Crystal” leading the way through a meandering quiet part and subsequent rhythmic figure that reminds of later Opeth, though there’s still a strong heavy rock presence in their tones and grooves generally. It’s an interesting combination, and all the more so because I think part of what’s giving off such a metal vibe is the snare sound. You don’t normally think of a snare drum determining that kind of thing, but here we are. Certainly the vocal arrangements between gruff melodies, backing screams and growls, etc., the odd bit of blastbeating here and there, bring it all into line as well — LP01 is very much the kind of album that would title its six-minute instrumental centerpiece “Interlude” — but the intricacy in how the nine-minute “Return” develops and the harmonies that emerge early in closer “Five” tell the tale clearly of Homecoming‘s ambitions as they move forward from this already-ambitious debut.

Homecoming on Thee Facebooks

Homecoming on Bandcamp

 

Lemurian Folk Songs, Logos

lemurian folk songs logos

Tracked in the same sessions as the Budapest outfit’s 2019 album, Ima (review here), it should not come as a major surprise that the six-track/49-minute Logos from Lemurian Folk Songs follows a not entirely dissimilar course, bringing together dream-drift of tones and melodies with subtle but coherent rhythmic motion in a fashion not necessarily revolutionary for heavy psych, but certainly well done and engaging across its tracks. The tones of guitar and bass offer a warmth rivaled only by the echoing vocals on opener/longest cut (immediate points) “Logos,” and the shimmering “Sierra Tejada” and progressively building “Calcination” follow that pattern while adding a drift that is both of heavy psych and outside of it in terms of the character of how it’s played. None of the last three tracks is less than eight minutes long — closer “Firelake” tops nine in a mirror to “Logos” at the outset, but if that’s the band pushing further out I hear, then yes, I want to go along for that trip.

Lemurian Folk Songs on Thee Facebooks

Para Hobo Records on Bandcamp

 

Ritual King, Ritual King

ritual king ritual king

Progressive heavy rockers Ritual King display a striking amount of grace and patience across their Ripple Music-issued self-titled long-player. Tapping modern influences like Elder and bringing their own sense of melodic nuance to the proceedings across a tightly-constructed seven songs and 42 minutes, the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Jordan Leppitt, bassist Dan Godwin — whose tone is every bit worthy of gotta-hear-it classification — and drummer/backing vocalist Gareth Hodges string together linear movements in “Headspace” and “Dead Roads” that flow one into the next, return at unexpected moments or don’t, and follow a direction not so much to the next chorus but to the next statement the band want to make, whatever that might be. “Restrain” begins with a sweet proggy soundscape and unfolds two verses over a swaying riff, then is gone, where at the outset, “Valleys” offers grandeur the likes of which few bands would dare to embody on their third or fourth records, let alone their first. Easily one of 2020’s best debuts.

Ritual King on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Sunflowers, Endless Voyage

sunflowers endless voyage

You know what? Never mind. You ain’t weird enough for this shit. Nobody’s weird enough for this shit. I have a hard time believing the two souls from Portugal who made it are weird enough for this shit. Think I’m wrong? Think you’re up for it and you’re gonna put on SunflowersEndless Voyage and be like, “oh yeah, turns out mega-extreme krautrock blasted into outer space was my wavelength all along?” Cool. Bandcamp player’s right there. Have at it. I dare you.

Sunflowers on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records store

 

Maya Mountains, Era

maya mountains era

Italian heavy rockers Maya Mountains formed in 2005 and issued their debut album, Hash and Pornography, through Go Down Records in 2008. Era, which follows a narrative about the title-character whose name is given in lead cut “Enrique Dominguez,” who apparently travels through space after being lost in the desert — as one does — and on that basis alone is clearly a more complex offering than its predecessor. As to where Maya Mountains have been all the time in between records — here and there, in other bands, etc. But Era, at 10 tracks and 44 minutes, is the summation of five years of work on their part and its blend of scope and straight-ahead heavy riffing is welcome in its more heads-down moments like “Vibromatic” or in the purposefully weirder finale “El Toro” later on. Something like a second debut for the band after being away for so long, Era at very least marks the beginning of a new one for them, and one hopes it continues in perhaps more productive fashion than the last.

Maya Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records store

 

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Rough Spells to Release Ruins at Midday LP March 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

rough spells

Originally released by the band last year and still up as a name-your-price download on their Bandcamp (see below), the Ian Blurton-recorded debut album from Toronto heavy-’70s-meets-heavy-’10s-style cultish rockers Rough SpellsRuins at Midday, will see vinyl release through Fuzzed and Buzzed Records in cooperation with European imprint DHU Records. You might recall the two labels aligned previously behind the Astral Witch LP, and Rough Spells won’t be their final collaboration either, as Fuzzed and Buzzed informs below its intention to release full-lengths from all the bands included in its The Altar Box 7″ collection, which included Rough SpellsAstral Witch and Häxan in a gorgeously realized ambitious first release for the Canadian label (which they’ve since followed with the more glam-minded The Powder Box). So there’s one more to go, and then who knows.

March 7 is  the exact release date for the vinyl, and there’s a release party with Lousy Riders and Witchrot that is a thing that’s happening, and everyone knows happening things are where it’s at.

Behold:

rough spells ruins at midday

Fuzzed and Buzzed and DHU present Ruins At Midday the debut album by witch ‘n rollers Rough Spells

After the successful release last year of The Altar Box featuring Rough Spells, Häxan and Astral Witch, Fuzzed and Buzzed will be co-releasing with DHU Records in Europe, debut albums by each of these bands.

The first will be the Rough Spells full length LP Ruins At Midday.

Check it out here:
https://roughspells.bandcamp.com/album/ruins-at-midday

Ruins At Midday will be released on March 7 with a celebratory party including special guests Lousy Riders (https://lousyriders.bandcamp.com/) and Witchrot (https://witchrot.bandcamp.com/)

Party details can be found here: https://www.thedrake.ca/events/rough-spells-album-release-party/?date=2020-03-07

Womb doom witch ‘n rollers Rough Spells present a night of occult riffs and ritual delights as they celebrate the release of their debut album Ruins At Midday, a co-release of up and coming local label Fuzzed and Buzzed Records and dark hedonistic European label DHU Records. Joining Rough Spells on their journey to the center of the mystical mind are diabolical local Doom duo Lousy Riders and the seventh best band of all time (narrowly pushing the Beatles out of the top ten) Witchrot. This is an early show, so be there on time to brew the cauldron, take the potion and ready the brooms to fly off into the midnight witching hour.

With a successful EP and a forthcoming hit album, Rough Spells blast out of Toronto by way of Montreal, Vancouver and the Maritimes with a sound best described as Heart fronted by Stevie Nicks.

Already notorious for an Instragram band breakup post that went viral, Witchrot are now set to capture infamy with their killer combo of ethereal vocals, crushing riffs and heavy bottom end dredged up from your local graveyard.

Hailing from Eastern Europe, Lousy Riders are here to drop an Iron Curtain on North America like Black Sabbath’s Iron Man.

https://www.facebook.com/roughspells/
https://www.instagram.com/roughspells/
https://roughspells.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Fuzzedandbuzzed-631019733954614/
https://www.instagram.com/fuzzedandbuzzed/
https://www.fuzzedandbuzzed.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Rough Spells, Ruins at Midday (2020)

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Rough Spells Sign to DHU Records; Debut Album out This Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

DHU Records has announced the pickup of Toronto-based cultists Rough Spells, who issued their debut EP, Modern Kicks for the Solitary Witch — please tell me they got the title out of an alternative-lifestyle shoe catalog that was trying to be hip; even if it’s not true and I’m sure it isn’t, please just let me believe it — last summer. Tapes were pressed just last month through Hoove Child Records, and DHU will present the as-yet-untitled long-player sometime before the end of 2019, which is pretty much now. I like the fact that the signing was the result of an Instagram comment and the mysterious interference of a dude named Reggie (please also let me believe it was Reggie Jackson; I’ve got a whole narrative going here), and it seems like all manner of witchly doom is set to unfold, so cool by me. I’ll admit their signing is the first I’m hearing of the band, so I look forward to digging in.

If you’re in a similar situation, you can check out the EP at the bottom of this post, courtesy of the band’s Bandcamp. The announcement came, of course, from the PR wire:

rough spells

DHU Records signs Rough Spells to release debut full length in 2019

DHU Records is thrilled to announce the signing of Toronto, Canada’s Dysfunctional/Doom outfit Rough Spells!

When in the summer of 2018 DHU Records first was introduced to Rough Spells via a comment on Instagram, a spell was cast and the stars started to align.

A man by the name of Reggie, who is an acquaintance of the band, sent DHU a message informing he’ll be in Amsterdam for a week and would love for us to hear this record nobody had yet heard of outside of Canadian borders.

With only 2 songs available on Soundcloud and a 6 song LP that was in existence but only sold locally, we thought it wise to spread this outstanding classic to the world through the vinyl community, and so it did, like wildfire!

Since then they opened a Facebook account, put their record titled “Modern Kicks for the Solitary Witch” up on Bandcamp and Spotify so listeners can now fully enjoy these 6 powerful incantations and at DHU we are over the top excited to be working with them!

DHU Records will release Rough Spells as of yet untitled Debut Full Length in 2019 on Limited Edition vinyl

STAY DOOMED STAY HEAVY

Rough Spells:
Sarena Sairan: Vocals/Guitar
Maija Martin: Guitar/Vocals
Dave Lucas: Bass
Tobey Black: Drums

https://www.facebook.com/Rough-Spells-441982039657307/
https://www.instagram.com/roughspells/
https://roughspells.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://twitter.com/dhu_records
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Rough Spells, Modern Kicks for the Solitary Witch (2018)

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