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Tomorrow’s Dream: 200+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
54. Dealer
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
72. Greenbeard
73. Green Desert Water
74. Greenleaf
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
86. Mastodon
87. Merlin, The Wizard
88. Merchant
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
94. MotherSloth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
97. Orango
98. Papir
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
107. Sólstafir
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
109. Spelljammer
110. Spidergawd, IV
111. Steak
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
114. Summoner
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
118. Toke
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
121. Weedpecker
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
127. Bantoriak
128. Bask
129. BCAD
130. BoneHawk
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
139. Devil
140. Devil Worshipper
141. Duel
142. Dustrider
143. Egypt
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
146. Farflung
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
149. Gozu
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
153. Horrendous
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
163. Mangoo
164. Mondo Drag
165. Monolord
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
168. Naxatras
169. Never Got Caught
170. Ommadon
171. Orchid
172. Ordos
173. Pilgrim
174. Poseidon
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
177. Sasquatch
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
180. Shabda
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
188. Superchief
189. Tÿburn
190. YOB
191. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

192. Across Tundras
193. Eggnogg
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
200. Kadavar
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
203. Lowrider
204. Masters of Reality
205. Om
206. Orodruin
207. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

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Roadburn 2017 Adds 24 New Bands: Bongzilla, Disfear, Serpent Venom, Lycus, Ruby the Hatchet, Harsh Toke, Joy and Many More

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn 2017 banner

As one has come to expect by now, there’s an awful lot of badassery in this latest announcement from Roadburn 2017. The Tilburg-based festival doesn’t seem to do anything small at this point — though it boasts not one, but two delightfully intimate venues, so take that assertion with a grain of reality’s salt — and that certainly includes this round of 24 lineup additions. For me, particularly notable is the West Coast heavy psych invasion underway with the likes of Joy and Harsh Toke added — Tee Pee labelmates Ruby the Hatchet are no slouches themselves in that regard — and UK doomers Serpent Venom, who, as noted in the expansive update below, are overdue for an appearance at this showcase of showcases. I’ve included the stream of their last album as a refresher of its righteousness, in case you need one.

Also dig Bongzilla added to perform Gateway in its entirety. They’ll be part of a killer Main Stage lineup that day that’s basically untouchable and bound to engender much whining when the schedule is released and is packed as ever in all the other rooms. See also Big Business, Pontiak, Radar Men from the Moon, The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Lycus and so on. In the immortal words of pre-cold-dead-hands Charlton Heston, “it’s a madhouse.”

Check it out:

Twenty-four new additions to Roadburn’s 2017 line up

• John Dyer Baizley adds four new bands to his curated event, plus confirms a live interview at Roadburn 2017.
• Bongzilla confirm their first trip to Roadburn
• Big Business return to Roadburn ten years after their last performance at the festival.
….and more

JOHN DYER BAIZLEY

John Dyer Baizley has confirmed four more bands for his curated event, with the line up now almost complete. In addition, he will also take part in a live interview at Roadburn 2017 as part of the festival’s side programme.

Few others, if any, hardcore bands carry so much weight and impose so much respect outside their own scene as INTEGRITY do, perhaps because they have always transcended their “root” genre, both stylistically and conceptually. Baizley comments: “I hope to see you all there, while Integrity proves to all present that the ferocity has neither dulled nor become disingenuous throughout their career. Reality is bleak, but through darkness we are able to find connectivity and community.”

DISFEAR have been one of the leading lights of the Swedish d-beat scene in the almost three decades they have existed. They might not record of perform often, but when they do, you know it’s going to be something extraordinary, as John says: “I don’t know exactly what to expect from this re-emergence, but I’m sure it won’t be a gentle one. This should be a no-hold-barred, fists-in-the-air, mandatory-circle-pit set, and you better believe I’m not missing a minute of it.”

OATHBREAKER have wowed audiences around the world with the release of their latest album, Rheia. John counts himself among the devoted, commenting of the album: “Therein exists a healthy reverence and understanding of the genres it references; yet it’s a record that is beholden to no style, genre or convention. There are layers upon layers of sound that recall black metal, pop, indie, hardcore, shoe-gaze, you-name-it; yet as I listen, I am aware of none of this – it has been presented so artfully and with such earnest and unpretentious conviction.”

If you trace the history of post-rock, you’ll go all the way down the family tree to find Nathan Means, Philip Manley and Sebastian Thomson, the three members of TRANS AM, at the very root of it all. “I have always been a massive Trans Am fan, and I think their performance at Roadburn will be an incredible moment during next year’s festival,” John says, “I’m sure Sebastian will have his work cut out for him, playing two very intense and completely different sets, with both Baroness and Trans Am (Friday and Saturday, respectively). Do not miss this show, it will be a truly incomparable experience during Roadburn 2017.”

John Dyer Baizley will also be participating in Roadburn’s popular side programme, having confirmed that he will take part in a live interview hosted by Ula Gehret. John will talk through his personal and professional highs and lows before taking questions from the audience.

BONGZILLA

In an unparalleled stoner celebration, reformed Wisconsin riffmasters BONGZILLA have been confirmed to perform their classic album Gateway in its entirety at Roadburn Festival 2017. Next year marks 15 years since BONGZILLA originally released Gateway in 2002. Their third album, it indeed was for many listeners a doorway into a new world – a dimension of crust-laden sludge that, in the years since, has gone on to put an entire generation of bands under its influence. Unmatched in its dankness, coated in purple and green tonal wash, Gateway’s weedian righteousness is no less potent today than a decade and a half ago.

BIG BUSINESS

The last time this dynamic duo set foot at Roadburn was way back in 2007, in the company of their Melvins bros, but now, fully grown up and with a bunch more records, experience and exactly the same amount of boundless creativity, they will return on their own, as the singular, unique musical force they are.

WHORES.

Their live shows have a reputation for being way beyond the norm in terms on intensity, so we are super stoked to bring this power trio, WHORES.to Roadburn for the first time. We have the feeling it just might be one of those shows that everyone will talk about for years afterwards, so make sure you don’t miss WHORES. when they play Roadburn 2017 – they have a curious knack for melody that’ll ensure these tunes stay with you long after the bruises have healed up.

ALSO CONFIRMED:

Alaric will deliver a hybrid of post-punk’s tense, angular structures with the size and spread of extreme metal’s most dynamic sonic components.
Author & Punisher heralds the rise of the machines with a unique take on industrial doom.
Cobalt offer atypical excursions through black metal via apocalyptic tribalism, old Americana, and a doom-laden, ritualistic atmosphere.
Fórn bring both soul-crushing lows and groovy assaults at higher moments.
Gnaw Their Tongues have promised “something special” for their Roadburn set. Prepare for aural torture.
Harsh Toke will perform a set comprised entirely of Roky Ericsson covers.
Hedvig Mollestad Trio touch on genre-blurring hardrock and metal riffery as well as the noisier realms of jazz improvisation.
Joy are a San Diego heavy psych power trio, inviting you to ride along with them at Roadburn.
King Woman heavy, dark, emotional, beguiling, confrontational.
Lycus – monolithic, mournful, and massive sounding doom.
Pinkish Black will be making waves and breaking hearts with their chilling synthesiser dirges.
Pontiak are primal and fiery and often fuzzy and psyched out; ready to give a lesson in rock.
Radar Men From The Moon will team up with Roadburn 2017 artist in residence GNOD for a collaborative performance known as Temple Ov BBV, as well as playing their own show.
Ruby The Hatchet invite you to follow them on their kosmiche trip.
Serpent Venom – they’re trippy, they’re heavy, they are long overdue a Roadburn appearance.
The Devil & The Almighty Blues are heavily inspired by Delta blues, and standing at the crossroads of both American and British blues-based rock.
True Widow return with more sultry yet syrupy fuzzed out trips.

Artists already announced for Roadburn 2017 include Coven, Warning (playing Watching from a Distance in full), Artists in Residence – GNOD, My Dying Bride (performing Turn Loose The Swans in its entirety), Ulver and Hypnopaz?zu (David Tibet & Youth) and Zeal & Ardor, Mysticum, Deafheaven, Chelsea Wolfe, and our 2017 curator, John Baizley who will perform with Baroness, plus many more. Roadburn Festival will take place 20-23 April, 2017 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets (and campsite tickets) are on sale for Roadburn 2017 and can be purchased from this link.

4 day – 195 Euro
3 day (Thu, Fri, Sat) – 172 Euro
Single day ticket, Sunday only – 54 Euro

Thursday, Friday and Saturday single day tickets will be on sale on January 12 priced at 59 Euro.

http://www.roadburn.com/
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https://twitter.com/roadburnfest

Serpent Venom, Of Things Seen and Unseen (2014)

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Ruby the Hatchet Finish Third Album; Touring Now with Earthless

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 2nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

I don’t mind telling you I’m looking forward to this one. My reasoning is two-fold: First, Ruby the Hatchet‘s 2015 sophomore album, Valley of the Snake (review here) — also their label debut on Tee Pee Records — was a gem. Memorable songwriting, crisp performances, a get-in-get-out sense of craft that still had room for atmosphere and setting a mood. Would be silly to not anticipate the follow-up. Second, though, is that in seeing Ruby the Hatchet this past summer at the first night of the Maryland Doom Fest (review here), every bit of their set showed them as not only realizing the level of accomplishment they’ve hit as a band, but being ready also to take another step forward. This impending third record, presumably, would be that step.

Spring 2017? Sign me up.

Ruby the Hatchet are on tour with Earthless starting tonight in Chicago. Dates and more info follow off the PR wire:

ruby-the-hatchet-photo-by-troy-memis

RUBY THE HATCHET Completes Work on New Album

Philadelphia Heavy Psych Outfit Conjures Spellbinding Space Rock on Long-awaited Third LP

Philly heavy psych quintet RUBY THE HATCHET has completed work on its highly anticipated new album. The bewitching rock troop featuring vocalist Jillian Taylor, guitarist Johnny Scarps, bassist Lake Muir, drummer Owen Stewart and organist Sean Hur, recorded the album in an 1800’s era estate deep in the Pennsylvania woods with engineers Joe Boldizar (Retro City Studios) and Zach Goldstein (Kawari Sound). The as-yet-untitled album is slated for a spring 2017 release via Tee Pee Records. The upcoming full-length follows the band’s celebrated sophomore LP, Valley of the Snake.

“Setting up shop and recording ourselves in an 1800’s era estate has been a pleasure and a labor,” comments Taylor. “We built the studio in house from the ground up – mostly Sean (organ), with help from our friends at Kawari Sound and Retro City Studios. From homemade preamps to third floor room mics hidden in echo chambers, the tones on this album are truly vintage. Putting ourselves into seclusion provided a process that influenced the album’s sound, allowing us to create our own pocket of deep space rock inside of a time warp where everything else stopped – politics, personal shit, the day-to-day worries that tarnish the soul…all gone. This album is like nothing we have ever made before.”

More details on RUBY THE HATCHET’s upcoming album will be released soon. The band will launch a U.S. tour alongside labelmates Earthless on December 2 in Chicago, IL. Fans can expect to hear a taste of the band’s new material on the two week trek, which runs through December 17 in Detroit, MI. The tour wraps up two years of heavy touring by the band in support of Valley Of The Snake, which saw RUBY THE HATCHET hit the road with Black Mountain, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats and The Sword.

RUBY THE HATCHET tour dates:
* All shows with EARTHLESS
December 2 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
December 3 St Louis, MO The Firebird
December 4 Norman, OK OPOLIS
December 6 Dallas, TX Club Dada
December 7 Austin, TX Barracuda
December 8 Houston, TX Rudyard’s Pub
December 9 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon
December 10 Atlanta, GA The EARL
December 11 Raleigh, NC Barcade
December 12 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
December 13 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
December 14 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus
December 15 Pittsburgh, PA Club Cafe
December 16 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
December 17 Detroit, MI El Club

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Ruby the Hatchet, Valley of the Snake (2015)

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Friday Full-Length: Ruby the Hatchet, Valley of the Snake

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Ruby the Hatchet, Valley of the Snake (2015)

Two Fridays ago, we closed out the week with Internal Void‘s 1993 debut, Standing on the Sun, in honor of the band’s appearance at Maryland Doom Fest 2016. Now that the fest is over, it seems only fair to follow that up with something more current representing another side entirely of the offerings last weekend in MD. Philly/New Jersey’s Ruby the Hatchet are one of the groups I was most looking forward to seeing throughout the weekend for the simple reason that I’d never seen them before and their early 2015 Tee Pee label debut and second album overall, Valley of the Snake (review here), was positively entrancing, taking Uncle Acid-style garage doom to more psychedelic places with a classic sensibility in its swing and organ-inclusive melodies.

The songs were also catchy as hell, and that never hurts.

Comprised of six tracks for a 40-minute run, Ruby the Hatchet‘s second LP broke cleanly into its two sides and asked little more of the listener than to nod along to cuts like the strong opening duo of “Heavy Blanket” and “Vast Acid,” the latter of which seemed to wink directly at Uncle Acid‘s ultra-influential “I’ll Cut You Down,” but still come out of it with a personality of its own, and both of which were highlights of their performance at the fest. Frontwoman Jillian Taylor was responsible for a lot of that, and her vocal command is a major appeal throughout the record, but guitarist John Scarperia, bassist Mike Parise (since replaced by Lake Muir), drummer Owen Stewart and organist Sean Hur each have their say as well, and as they shift into the drawl of side A closer “Tomorrow Never Comes,” it’s Ruby the Hatchet as a whole working cohesively to elicit the doomed feel.

That song plays a bit of back and forth with tempo late, but its primary impression is slower than the two cuts before it. When they start side B with “The Unholy Behemoth,” the feeling is very much like they’ve gone back to the start, but “The Unholy Behemoth” and “Demons,” which follows, are both more the band’s own. Unafraid to break out an upbeat winding intro riff, “Demons” boasts plenty of swing and is still definitely cult rock in its atmosphere, but there’s a sense of Ruby the Hatchet putting their stamp on the sound more than playing to style. The hooks are no less prevalent, fortunately, and as they move into the sunshiny heavy psychedelia of the closing title-track, introducing it with some underlying noise, acoustic guitar and organ, they are completely in their own space. Some heft emerges later on as toms and electric guitar kick in, but Valley of the Snake‘s closer remains golden-hued all the same, capturing a sentimental vibe to finish that’s as resonant emotionally as it is sonically individual.

Post-MDDFRuby the Hatchet spent this week on tour with Black Mountain, and will wrap with the dates below:

Ruby the Hatchet live:
7/1 – Ithica, NY @ The Haunt*
7/2 – Boston, MA @ The Sinclair*
*supporting Black Mountain
**supporting The Obsessed

As this is posted, I’m making my way back down to Maryland. The Patient Mrs.‘ car, which broke down on the final day of Maryland Doom Fest — literally right as I pulled into the parking space outside Cafe 611 as Mangog were getting ready to start — is still at a garage in Frederick. The alternator has been fixed, which is super, but Frederick is about seven hours in the car from where I live on the best of days, let alone the Friday before the July 4 holiday. Traffic sucked pretty bad last week. I don’t expect this trip will be any better.

My first (four-day) week of work at my new job is under my belt. It was good, I think. Actually managed to do something semi-productive yesterday — like an actual task that will be a part of my job going forward — without completely screwing it up, so that was a nice feeling. Other than that, it’s been a lot of meetings, a lot of meeting people, a lot of information overload, pretty typical stuff. I was good and beat by Wednesday night, yesterday dragged some, but today was a half-day, as are all Fridays, so getting out at 1 is pretty much what’s making it possible to get to Maryland, and I’m thankful for that. Can’t keep a rental car forever.

It’s a crowded office, and I share a cubicle, but the people seem nice and nobody’s told me to fuck myself yet. I wore sandals today and yesterday, and a t-shirt with an open short-sleeve button-down, so you know, could be worse. I figure I’ll lose the button-down altogether sooner or later. Don’t think it will be an issue. Too many people here for anyone to care.

Before I check out and take over driving from The Patient Mrs., I’d like to extend a special thanks to Sean “Skillit” McEleny for absolutely killing it on the poster for The Obelisk All-Dayer (tickets here) Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar. If you didn’t see it, click below to enlarge:

the obelisk all-dayer poster skillit

It turned out better than I could’ve hoped and his monumental effort is massively appreciated. Superlatives all around. Dude is amazing.

Been a stressful week, gonna be a stressful next day or two down to MD and back to CT, then MA, but whatever. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Might put one or two posts up Monday relevant to Europe if anything comes through, or might just let it ride until Tuesday. Maybe a podcast! It’s been forever. Gonna play it by ear.

Please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Live Review: Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Night One

Posted in Reviews on June 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

maryland doom fest poster

It was a hell of a ride, and by that I mean I sat in traffic from about 8:30 in the morning until I walked into Cafe 611 in Frederick, Maryland, just in time for the start of the first band at 5:15PM. I soon found that my plan to not wear the supportive boot for my continuing ankle pain was, let’s say, ambitious. Basically I couldn’t stand up for more than like five minutes at a time. Fortunately the boot was in the car. Then my camera broke.

This is the part where normally I’d say “some you win, some you lose,” but the quality of the first night of Maryland Doom Fest 2016 — the second edition of the festival put on by JB Matson and Mark Cruikshank; still kicking myself for missing it last year — was such that I couldn’t really feel too down about any of the above, except perhaps the camera, which served me well for half a decade and hopefully I’ll be able to have fixed in the near term, no doubt at significant cost. Not for this weekend, though. Bummer.

Well. Now that I think I’ve gotten all or at least most of the bitching out of the way, we can get down to business. Like I said, I watched from the first band on, as much as I was able, and got pictures on my phone after the camera went down. I did the best I could.

Alright, here goes:

Black Urn

black urn (photo by JJ Koczan)

Clearly a trial by fire for the room. Some fests might try to ease the audience into the event; Maryland Doom Fest 2016 not so much. Philadelphia’s Black Urn would wind up being the most extreme band of the night, digging their way into vicious sludge metal topped by growls and screams exclusively, proffered through two guitars finding balance in the mix with bass that seemed utterly dominant at first but soon enough evened out. That kind of stuff runs the risk of coming across as samey when you don’t know the songs — they have a 2015 demo and a 2016 EP, The Pangs of Our Covenant, out, but this was my first exposure to them — but Black Urn knew when to change the pace up, and their faster parts had a heavy rock edge to them that set well alongside the grueling brutalities they fostered otherwise. Plus vocalist John Jones wore an Iron Monkey t-shirt, and that’s just about always going to earn some extra points in my book.

Atala

atala (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Californian heavy atmospheric doom rockers were a treat for anyone who showed up early, playing through a considerable investment portfolio of amplification, fresh-looking Oranges and Sunn for the guitar of Kyle Stratton and the bass of John Chavarria, while drummer Jeff Tedtaotao punctuated the massive rolling grooves elicited from them. They’d been on tour for about a week supporting the recently-released, Billy Anderson-produced Shaman’s Path of the Serpent (stream here; review here), and “Gravity” was a highlight of the set, which rightly focused on the new album and its ambient largesse, in which one can hear shades of anything from YOB to Neurosis to Deftones in Stratton‘s vocals to Tool in some of their quiet, winding parts. It’s a varied blend, and they can make it move as well when they want, but they were impressively fluid front to back, and seemed most at home with the three of them locked into any number of lumbering progressions, of which they offered plenty.

Admiral Browning

admiral browning (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’ve been watching Admiral Browning play shows for more than a decade. I say this not to brag about having seen the band a bunch of times, but to emphasize the point that when they take a given stage, I still don’t know what to expect. Oh, you can be sure that guitarist Matt LeGrow, bassist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis and drummer Tim Otis will offer dizzying technicality and frenetic groove, but just where they might take that is perpetually up in the air. Their 2015 tape EP, Corvette Summer (review here), found them experimenting further with incorporating vocals into their long-instrumentally-focused sound, and it worked. At Maryland Doom Fest 2016, it wasn’t a question. Both LeGrow and McGinnis had mics and used them liberally. I’ll admit it was a somewhat jarring sight — as I said, they were strictly instrumental for a long time — but they’ve developed relentlessly over their years together, and that process obviously continues unabated. Nothing new to say I’m looking forward to what they do next, but it’s true all the same. Way underappreciated band.

Demon Eye

demon eye (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Probably should’ve seen these cats by now. Led by guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg, North Carolina’s Demon Eye have been tearing it up on the Eastern Seaboard for the last couple years, also journeying west this past April to tour alongside Disenchanter in support of their second record, 2015’s Tempora Infernalia (review here), and after hearing such encouraging things about their stage presence, yeah, it felt overdue. Sugg was indeed very much in the lead position, bantering with the crowd between songs, headbanging and stomping in classic rock style, backed by drummer Bill Egan on vocals and lead guitarist Larry Burlison while Paul Walz‘s Rickenbacker tied it all together in the low end. They opened with “End of Days” and closed with “Sons of Man,” both from the new record, but “From Beyond” from 2014’s Leave the Light (review here) was a highlight as well, their songs upbeat. In my notes, it just says “ace songwriting,” so we’ll leave it at that, and while I’ll admit some of their cult themes leave me a little cold, both their craft and the energy of their performance are absolutely undeniable.

Pale Divine

pale divine (Photo by JJ Koczan)

With guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey both now in Beelzefuzz and bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis sharing his time with Admiral Browning and several other projects, Pale Divine has kind of become a part-time institution, but in all the years I’ve seen them — I think the first time was in Philly with The Hidden Hand, circa ’04 — they’ve never failed to deliver on their particular kind of woeful traditional doom. Though they’re not actually from the state, they were a perfect centerpiece for Maryland Doom Fest 2016’s first night, and the assembled crowd, younger and older, showed their appreciation duly. As I was dealing with my just-busted camera, I’ll admit my attention was somewhat divided, but Pale Divine don’t screw around on stage, and they closed their set playing something they’ve never played before. Diener gave the title but of course I missed it, in the back fumbling with the camera battery and lens as I was, sadly to no avail. The doom felt perhaps even more appropriate in such a context.

Ruby the Hatchet

ruby the hatchet (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Philly-region five-piece Ruby the Hatchet are on something of a mini-tour this week, up the Northeast in the formidable company of Black Mountain. Not at all their first run in support of last year’s way-right-on Valley of the Snake (review here), but they’ve also reissued their first record, Ouroboros, on vinyl through Tee Pee Records, and I’d imagine when the chance to do shows with a group like Black Mountain crops up, or to, say, play Maryland Doom Fest 2016 on the night The Obsessed are headlining, it’s a thing you do your best to make happen. Starting off their set with the memorable “Heavy Blanket” from Valley of the Snake, they jammed profusely and featured what I think might be the weekend’s only on-stage organ, so bonus points there. Vocalist Jillian Taylor was in firm command on stage, her vocals run through a close delay for a live-doubletracking effect that only made their cultistry seem more resonant. Taylor, together with bassist Lake Muir, guitarist John Scarperia, drummer Owen Stewart and organist Sean Hur, have pretty clearly mastered the post-Uncle Acid blend of hooks and bounce, and set about reshaping them to suit their own melodic purposes. One expects that will be a process that plays out over the next several years/albums, but they were impressively tight and for my first time seeing them, I was glad I finally did.

Castle

castle (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Speaking of bands I should’ve seen before — as I realize I have a couple times at this point — fucking Castle. The hard-touring San Francisco outfit sounded so much like a group used to being on the road. Some bands just develop that thing. They show up in a room, assess the place, the people, the sound, say, “Okay, we can kick ass here,” and then do. That’s exactly what Castle did. They’re the kind of band who could make you believe in heavy metal. A lot of what they played was new — they’re touring to herald the arrival of their new album, Welcome to the Graveyard, which is out July 12 on Ván Records — and their righteously individualized blend of thrash, traditional metal, doom, heavy rock and roll, etc., speaks to some mystical bygone era when metal was about not compromising, putting a fist in the air against expectation and going on tour forever. Castle were so deep into what they were doing that I think they could’ve been anywhere and it would’ve been the same, that trance taking hold early on as they locked in and holding sway for the duration of their set, which seemed short when it was over. They’ve made themselves pretty available for in-person experience over the years, and now I understand why. I don’t think it’s really possible to get them until you see them live. I’m late to the party on that one, I know, but they didn’t seem to care if it was somebody’s first time, fifth time, or however-manyeth time seeing them. Everyone got their ass handed to them equally.

Internal Void

internal void (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Not to toot my own horn, but I said not too long ago that if you get the chance to see Internal Void, you should do it, and their hour-long set at Cafe 611 only affirmed the truth of that. The four-piece of vocalist J.D. Williams, guitarist Kelly Carmichael, bassist Adam Heinzmann and drummer Brian Goad packed out the room shoulder to shoulder and were clearly as glad to see the hometown crowd as the hometown crowd was to see them, even before Carmichael started shredding out solos, before Williams widened his eyes and loosed his gravely sneer, and before they brought out original drummer Eric Little to play a couple cuts from 1993’s Standing on the Sun, marking the first time that album’s full lineup had shared the stage in 23 years. With their own banner behind them, Internal Void epitomized Maryland doom. Their workingman’s grooves, classic edge and sans-bullshit delivery spoke to everything that has allowed the scene in and around Frederick to flourish for the last three decades to where it is now and where it’s headed in the future. Last time I saw Internal Void was at the Afterburner for Roadburn 2012, and several others remarked that it had been several years since they last played, so that might well have been their most recent show. Either way, they brought it hard for the Maryland Doom Fest 2016 crowd and were a joy to watch. If you get the chance to see them, do it. Don’t hesitate.

The Obsessed

the obsessed (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I’m not sure anyone would’ve been a better fit to headline Maryland Doom Fest than The Obsessed. I mean that wholeheartedly. Their legacy as a band — only more so now that guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich has brought in his Spirit Caravan bandmate Dave Sherman (recent interview here) on bass/backing vocals, alongside new drummer Brian Costantino — is so tied to that of Maryland doom that you just don’t have the one without the other. Their set might be considered a victory lap for the month-long tour they just did with Karma to Burn (who also play this weekend) as much as a precursor to their hitting the studio with Frank “The Punisher” Marchand in a couple weeks to record their first album since 1994. In addition to The Obsessed staples “Neatz Brigade,” “Streamlined,” “Protect and Serve” and “Blind Lightning,” they worked in a couple Spirit Caravan cuts, among them “Retroman” and the ultra-rolling “Sea Legs.” It was late, and the room began to thin out some as they made their way toward the close of the evening with “Freedom,” but in giving a look at some newer material with the speedy “Be the Night” and the more expansive “Sacred” (which has been kicking around Spirit Caravan sets for a few years now and has older roots), The Obsessed looked ahead in addition to celebrating their legacy, and that seemed no less appropriate. Even after Internal Void, they held the room wrapt, and there was zero doubt to whom the night ultimately belonged.

Next show starts in a little over an hour, so I gotta get moving. No extra pics on account of the broken camera, but thanks for reading anyway.

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Ruby the Hatchet Reissuing Debut LP Ouroboros in April

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

ruby the hatchet (Photo by Troy Memmis)

It would seem Philly heavy psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet and I share an enduring affection for the artwork of Adam Burke. Also for reverb. The forthcoming vinyl pressing of their 2012 debut album, Ouroboros, would seem to offer plenty of both while also giving a glimpse to those who came on board after they signed to Tee Pee and released Valley of the Snake (review here) last year where they’re coming from. Not technically a reissue, since it’s the first vinyl pressing, but if you want to quibble semantics, do it up. The comment section is below. By all means, take me to task.

Kind of bothers me that I’ve yet to see this band live. Gotta see if I can work on that this year at some point.

The PR wire has news it would like to share:

ruby the hatchet ouroboros

RUBY THE HATCHET: Debut Album ‘Ouroboros’ to See Deluxe LP Release April 29

Psychedelic Philly Force’s First Full-Length Pressed to Physical Format

Philadelphia psych-metal band RUBY THE HATCHET will see its debut album, Ouroboros, issued on deluxe LP April 29 via RUR Records / Outer Battery. Recorded three years prior to the group’s celebrated Tee Pee Records debut, Valley of the Snake, the 2012 digital-only release — now presented for the first time on any physical format — offers insight into RUBY THE HATCHET’s formative years and blues-based hard rock sound. The limited edition colored vinyl LP is available to pre-order now at this location.

Ouroboros features RUBY THE HATCHET founding members Jillian Taylor (vocals), Johnny Scarps (guitar), Owen Stewart (drums) and Mike Parise (bass). The nine song release was recorded at Retro City Studios in Germantown, PA by audio-engineer Joe Boldizar with assistance from Barry Knob and Sean Hur. Now a full-time member, organist Hur makes his RTH debut here on the tracks “The Lean,” “Holy Father,” and “Good God Damn.” Released on the heels of the band’s self-titled debut EP and written mostly as a three-piece (Taylor, Scarps and Stewart), Ouroboros explores what would be the next realm for the band – playing with harmony, tone and overall style.

“It has been a long time coming and we are beyond excited that after four years our first album is getting a proper vinyl pressing,” comments Taylor. “Ouroboros holds a lot of nostalgia for us and is a fan favorite. This album shows our blues and classic rock beginnings and it is also where organ enters the soundscape, shaping our sound from this point on.”

Track listing:
1.) Taking Sides
2.) Black Tongue
3.) Can’t Get Him Away
4.) Strange Hold
5.) The Lean
6.) Holy Father
7.) Wicked Ones
8.) Nowhere
9.) Good God Damn

In addition to Jillian Taylor, RUBY THE HATCHET features Johnny Scarps (guitar), Lake Muir (bass), Owen Stewart (drums) and Sean Hur (organ).

https://www.facebook.com/rubythehatchet/
http://thehatchet.bandcamp.com/album/ouroboros
https://twitter.com/rubythehatchet
http://www.rubythehatchet.com/

Ruby the Hatchet, Ouroboros (2012)

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The Obelisk Presents: 10 of 2015’s Best Album Covers

Posted in Features, Visual Evidence on December 4th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

I didn’t get to do this list last year — at least not that I can find — but especially as vinyl continues to grow as the dominant media for underground and/or heavy genres, it seems more and more necessary to highlight quality cover art as a focal point. This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. There were way more than 10 badass album covers, and I’m hoping you’ll add your favorites to the comments on this post, but these were some of the ones and some of the artists who most caught my eye. A few of the names are familiar — one artist also appeared on the 2013 list — and the work of some was new to me, but all made striking impressions one way or another in a range of styles, and I hope you’ll agree.

No need to delay. Let’s dive in:

Ordered alphabetically by artist

Ruby the Hatchet, Valley of the Snake

ruby the hatchet valley of the snake

Cover by Adam Burke. Artist website here.

Formerly (or at least sort-of-formerly) of Fellwoods and currently also playing in Pushy, Adam Burke‘s style has become essential to the aesthetics of doom and heavy rock. His work for bands like Ice Dragon, Mystery Ship, Pastor, Mos Generator and a slew of others — including me — never fails to impress with its deep colors, natural tones and, in many cases, a sense of underlying threat. So it is with Ruby the Hatchet‘s Tee Pee Records label debut, Valley of the Snake (review here). Burke presents the title literally as a winding serpent in the sky becomes a river leading to a waterfall, the colors of a sun either rising or setting giving a glimpse of the otherworldly while the earth below is presented in darker browns and the jagged rocks in the foreground. There were a few candidates for Burke this year, but this one continues to stun.

Elder, Lore

elder lore

Cover by Adrian Dexter. Artist website here.

A record that, for many, defines 2015 in a major way, Elder‘s Lore (review here) is not the first collaboration between the Massachusetts trio and artist Adrian Dexter, but the results this time around are particularly satisfying. And since we’re talking about vinyl, the creativity in the gatefold design and the other pieces Dexter contributed to the album proves no less impressive than the progressive turn Elder took in their songwriting — a fitting match in scope and execution. Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman RecordsLore has pushed Elder into a different echelon entirely, and this will not be the final year-end-type list on which it appears around here, but Dexter‘s work, detail, subtlety and use of color for the cover simply had to be seen to be believed.

Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy

kings destroy self titled

Cover by Josh Graham. Artist website here.

Though he’s perhaps best known for his work doing live visuals over a stretch of years for Neurosis, Brooklyn-based Josh Graham‘s list of cover art accomplishments also include Soundgarden, KENmode, Vattnet Viskar and his own projects, A Storm of Light, Battle of Mice and Red Sparowes. With the cover for the self-titled third album from fellow New Yorkers Kings Destroy (review here), he seemed to encapsulate everything the War Crime Recordings release was driving toward with its urban crunch, aggression, and the feeling that all of this is a part of something larger and barely understood. Is it a bowl? Part of some ritual offering? Is it a drain? The expertly manipulated photography takes landmarks from the city and turns them into something as beautiful as it is malevolent, and Kings Destroy lived up to that standard on the album itself.

Snail, Feral

snail feral
Cover by Seldon Hunt. Artist website here.

Every bit worthy of the frame it has. Going back to pieces for Neurosis, Isis, Made out of Babies and more, Seldon Hunt‘s work is always widely varied, covering a range of styles and media. His piece for Feral (review here), a pivotal fourth album by West Coast heavy psych rockers Snail (released by Small Stone), seems to play off the single-word title in portraying a threatening vision of nature. At the bottom, we see human skulls as giant snails, weird glowing dogs and a deer with yellow eyes and snakes entwined in its antlers survey the landscape of huge mushrooms and sparse grass. Behind, two tangled trees add to the sense of foreboding, and a sky that runs from black to red speaks to a night that doesn’t look like it’s about to end anytime soon. Is this Hunt‘s vision of nature’s revenge? Either way, it’s engrossing in its three-dimensionality.

Valkyrie, Shadows

valkyrie shadows

Cover by Jeremy Hush. Artist website here.

Valkyrie‘s third full-length, first for Relapse Records and first in seven years, Shadows (review here), was a classic guitar rock fan’s dream come true. Brothers Jake and Pete Adams led the band through cascading solos, memorable songs and unpretentious vibes. The cover art by Jeremy Hush stood out to me particularly for the violence of its depiction. We see smaller blackbirds using spears or arrows to attack a hawk, and three on one is hardly a fair fight, even with a bird of prey, as a skull looks on from nearby grass. What I don’t know, ultimately, is whose side we’re on — ravens are hardly a traditional harbinger of good fortune — but somehow not knowing that only makes the piece more evocative, and from the detail and use of empty space in its parchment-style background to the struggle it portrays, Hush‘s work certainly grabbed attention.

Ahab, The Boats of the Glen Carrig

ahab the boats of the glen carrig
Cover by Sebastian Jerke. Artist website here.

A Germany-based painter who’s done art for Desertfest Berlin, Colour Haze, as well as the Freak Valley and Keep it Low festivals, Sebastian Jerke contributed several artworks to Napalm Records this year. He’ll continue that thread in 2016 with Greenleaf likely among others, but in 2015, his pieces for My Sleeping Karma and Ahab especially stood out, and the latter most of all. The funeral doomers don’t to anything on a scale less than grand, and Jerke‘s cover for The Boats of the Glen Carrig (review here) offered scope to match. Its sea monsters have breathtaking color and detail, and are familiar and alien at the same time, the central figure’s human-esque hand drawing a crowd either awed or looking to feast. This was one you could stare at over and over again and still always find something new.

Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere

acid king middle of nowhere center of everywhere
Cover by Tim Lehi. Artist website here.

I actually saw when Acid King unveiled the cover for their first album in a decade, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (review here), that there were some people giving them shit for the artwork out front. Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and if you ever wanted to find a bunch of conflicting ones look no further than the internet, but excuse me — it’s a wizard (Hell, that might be Gandalf), riding a tiger, in outer space. If there’s any part of that that isn’t frickin’ awesome, I’m not sure what it might be. What directive tattoo artist Tim Lehi was given going into the project, which would eventually surface on Svart Records, I don’t know, but it’s hard for me to listen to the far-no-farther out riffs of “Center of Everywhere” and not at very least want to be that wizard. Riding that tiger. In outer space. I’ll defend this one all day if necessary.

Serial Hawk, Searching for Light

serial hawk searching for light
Cover by Samantha Muljat and Sara Winkle. Artist websites here and here.

If I had gotten to do this list in 2014, Samantha Muljat could have easily appeared on it for her manipulated landscape that adorned Earth‘s Primitive and Deadly. For Serial Hawk‘s debut album, Searching for Light (review here), she’s partnered with Sara Winkle, whose work ranges from commercial design and album covers to animation and more. What the two offer in their work for Serial Hawk is a blend of the real and the unreal. We don’t see the face of the photographed subject, but she leads our eye toward the white circle, which, on a horizon could be the sun, but here seems to have descended to the field, landed there toward some unknown purpose. The tall grasses seem to fade into a wash of lighter green, but note the angle of the arm on the right side and the legs toward the center is nearly identical and seems to be working opposite the windblown direction of the field surrounding. Like the piece as a whole, it’s as much natural as unnatural.

Various Artists, Electric Ladyland [Redux]

various artists electric ladyland redux
Cover by David Paul Seymour. Artist website here.

My notes for this list contain no fewer than three separate entries for Minneapolis artist David Paul Seymour. There’s one for ChiefsTomorrow’s Over (review here), and one for Wo Fat‘s Live Juju (review here), but when it came time to pick just one, nothing stood out like Magnetic Eye RecordsElectric Ladyland [Redux] (review here). The full-gatefold spread is my favorite album cover of the year — and a good deal of this year’s covers were by Seymour, who has become nigh on ubiquitous in heavy and psychedelic rock — and for Jimi Hendrix, who’s been portrayed so many times it would be impossible to count, to show up in an original way in an original setting, it showed creativity on a scale fitting to the logistics of the compilation itself, which pulled together groups from around the world in due homage to Hendrix‘s 70th birthday. Its colors, its shading, its strange mercurial pool and waterfall — it’s just perfect for what it was intended to do.

Kind, Rocket Science

kind rocket science
Cover by Alexander von Wieding. Artist website here.

He’s split his time these last several years with his one-man band incarnation Larman Clamor, but Hamburg’s Alexander von Wieding continues to find time for copious design work for the likes of Brant BjorkKarma to BurnEnos and more. This year, in addition to a logo for a forthcoming The Obelisk t-shirt, he also did a cover for a split between Larman Clamor and Blackwolfgoat, whose Darryl Shepard also plays guitar in Kind, so to have him also illustrate that project’s Ripple debut, Rocket Science (review here), only seems fair. I’ll make no pretense of being anything other than a fan of von Wieding‘s work, and he’s in his element with Rocket Science, line drawing a spacescape with a crashed ship manned by what appears to be a frustrated chicken and rabbit (“Rabbit Astronaut” is one of the song titles). A lizard looks on and sticks a forked tongue out at the scene, and as mountains and planets loom behind, von Wieding reinforces a charm in his work that has drawn bands and labels his way for the better part of the last decade.

Like I said at the outset, there were far too many covers for me to call this list comprehensive — right off the top of my head: SunderGroanMos Generator/StubbMonolord (that solo figure walking into the lake continues to haunt), BaronessHigh on FireGraveyardMonster MagnetThe MachineEggnogg/BorrachoEcstatic Vision, Uncle Acid, on and on — but these were just some that particularly resonated with me. If you feel like something was criminally ignored — maybe I missed it — please let me know in the comments.

And thanks for reading.

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Maryland Doom Fest 2016 Announces Complete Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

maryland-doom-fest-logo

The 2016 edition of the Maryland Doom Fest will take place June 24, 25 and 26 at Cafe 611 in Frederick, MD. You might recall late in 2014, when the initial word surfaced about the festival’s inaugural billing, it was a complete lineup announced, date, and place, all done straightforward in the tradition of the style being celebrated. In that regard, 2016 will be no different. Festival organizers JB Matson (also of War Injun) and Mark Cruikshank have unveiled the complete Maryland Doom Fest 2016 lineup, and while the core remains very much in the region’s sphere of heavy downer riffs, the palette has clearly expanded as well.

A broader reach pulls in the likes of Mos Generator, Ruby the Hatchet and Hollow Leg, and while headliners Spirit Caravan are a returning act from the 2015 fest, they’ll be joined by classic heavy rockers Bang and Asylum (Unorthodox by their original name), ensuring that even as the Maryland Doom Fest 2016 reveres its finest exports, it pays strict attention to the lineage from where it all comes and the hometown crowd too. All told, it’s a wide-ranging but universally heavy grouping of bands, from the epic classic metal of Argus to the cult rock of Demon Eye, and while realistically there will probably be a shift or two in the lineup between now and next June — things fall through, people get added, and so on — it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a weekend. If and when I hear of changes, I’ll let you know.

Tickets are on sale today, and I’m honored to have my logo on the poster. Full lineup and links follow:

maryland doom fest 2016

The second edition of a weekend of doom in its purest form.

We are stoked about the second installment of The Maryland Doom Fest with 25 kickass bands!

Tickets sales begin on Monday.

The official Maryland Doom Fest web page will be up and running soon at www.themarylanddoomfest.com

Tickets are on sale now: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-maryland-doom-fest-2-weekend-passes-2016-tickets-18924966083

Spirit Caravan
BANG
Asylum (Unorthodox)
Argus
War Injun
Orodruin
Blackfinger
Kelly Carmichael (Internal Void) New Project
Earthen Grave
Black Urn
Doperider
Mos Generator
Hollow Leg
Ruby The Hatchet
Admiral Browning
Pale Divine
Toke
Flummox
Demon Eye
Wicked Inquisition
Seasick Gladiator
Karma to Burn
Eternal Black
King Giant
Spillage
Wasted Theory

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-maryland-doom-fest-2-weekend-passes-2016-tickets-18924966083
https://www.facebook.com/events/864772630244169/
https://www.facebook.com/The-maryland-DOOM-Fest-815331421863100/
www.themarylanddoomfest.com

Asylum, “Unseen World” Live at Maryland Doom Fest 2015

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