Quarterly Review: Thou, Liquid Visions, Benthic Realm, Ape Machine, Under, Evil Triplet, Vestjysk Ørken, Dawn of Winter, Pale Heart, Slowbro

Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again! The second week of this amply-proportioned Quarterly Review begins today as we move ever closer toward the inevitable 100-album finish line on Friday. There is an incredible amount of music to get through this week, so I don’t want to delay for too long, but as we look out across the vast stretch of distortion to come, I need to say thank you for reading, and I hope that you’ve been able to find something that’s kicking your ass a little bit in all the right ways so far. If not, well, there are 50 more records on the way for you to give it another shot.

Here goes.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Thou, Magus

thou magus

How can something be so raw and forward thinking at the same time? Baton Rouge’s Thou might be the band of their generation who’ve added the most to sludge in terms of pushing the style in new directions and shaping genre to their purposes. Magus (on Sacred Bones), their fourth or fifth full-length depending on whom you ask, is an overwhelming 75-minute 2LP of inward and outward destructive force, as heavy in its ambience as in its weight and throat-ripping sonic extremity, and yet somehow is restrained. To listen to the march of “Transcending Dualities,” there’s such a sense of seething happening beneath the surface of that chugging, marching riff, and after its creeping introduction, “In the Kingdom of Meaning” seems intent on beating its own rhythm, as in, with fists, and even a stop-by from frequent guest vocalist Emily McWilliams does little to detract from that impression. Along with Magus, which rightly finishes with the lurching threat of “Supremacy,” Thou have released three EPs and a split this year, so their pace runs in something of a contrast to their tempos, but whether you can keep up or not, Thou continue to press forward in crafting pivotal, essential brutalizations.

Thou website

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Liquid Visions, Hypnotized

Liquid Visions Hypnotized

Sulatron Records‘ pressing of Liquid Visions‘ 2002 debut, Hypnotized, is, of course, a reissue, but also the first time the album has been on vinyl, and it’s not long into opener “State of Mind” or the grunge-gone-classic-psych “Waste” before they earn the platter. Members of the band would go on to participate in acts like Zone Six, Wedge, Electric Moon and Johnson Noise, so it’s easy enough to understand how the band ties into the family tree of underground heavy psych in Berlin, but listening to the glorious mellow-unfolding-into-noise-wash-freakout of 15-minute closer “Paralyzed,” the appeal is less about academics than what the five-piece of vocalists/guitarists H.P. Ringholz (also e-sitar) and Kiryk Drewinski (also organ), bassist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (also Fender Rhodes and Mellotron), drummer Chris Schwartzkinsky and thereminist Katja Wolff were able to conjure in terms of being both ahead of their time and behind it. As the album moves from its opening shorter tracks to the longer and more expansive later material, it shows its original CD-era linearity, but if an LP reissue is what it takes to get Hypnotized out there again, so be it. I doubt many who hear it will complain.

Liquid Visions on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Benthic Realm, We Will Not Bow

Benthic Realm We Will Not Bow

The second short release from Benthic Realm behind a 2017 self-titled EP (review here) finds the Massachusetts-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (ex-Second Grave, ex-Warhorse), bassist Maureen Murphy (ex-Second Grave) and drummer Dan Blomquist (also Conclave) working toward a refined approach bridging the divide between doom and darker, harder hitting metal. They do this with marked fluidity, van Guilder shifting smoothly between melodic clean singing and harsher screams as Murphy and Blomquist demonstrate like-minded ease in turns of pace and aggression. The penultimate semi-title-track “I Will Not Bow” is an instrumental, but “Save us All,” “Thousand Day Rain” and closer “Untethered” — the latter with some Slayer ping ride and ensuing double-kick gallop — demonstrate the riff-based songwriting that carries Benthic Realm through their stylistic swath and ultimately ties their ideas together. If they think they might be ready for a debut full-length, they certainly sound that way.

Benthic Realm on Thee Facebooks

Benthic Realm website

 

Ape Machine, Darker Seas

ape machine darker seas

Maybe Ape Machine need to make a video with cats playing their instruments or something, but five albums deep, the Portland outfit seem to be viciously underrated. Releasing Darker Seas on Ripple, they take on a more progressive approach with songs like “Piper’s Rats” donning harmonized vocals and more complex interplay with guitar. It’s a more atmospheric take overall — consider the acoustic/electric beginning of “Watch What You Say” and it’s semi-nod to seafaring Mastodon, the likewise-unplugged and self-awarely medieval “Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester)” and the rocking presentation of what’s otherwise fist-pumping NWOBHM on “Bend Your Knee” — but Ape Machine have always been a band with songwriting at their center, and even as they move into the best performances of their career, hitting a point of quality that even producer Steve Hanford (Poison Idea) decided to join them after the recording as their new drummer, there’s no dip in the quality of their work. I don’t know what it might take to get them the attention they deserve — though a cat video would no doubt help — but if Darker Seas underscores anything, it’s that they deserve it.

Ape Machine on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Under, Stop Being Naive

under stop being naive

Stockport, UK, three-piece Under bring a progressive edge to their pummel with their second album, Stop Being Naive (on APF), beginning with the deceptively thoughtful arrangement of crushing opener and longest track (immediate points) “Malcontent,” which unfurls a barrage of riffs and varied vocals contributed by guitarist Simon Mayo, bassist Matt Franklin and drummer/keyboardist Andy Preece. Later cuts like “Soup” and “Grave Diggers” tap into amorphous layers of extremity, and “Happy” punks out with such tones as to remind of the filth that became grindcore in the UK nearly 40 years ago, but while “Big Joke” rolls out with a sneer and closer “Circadian Driftwood” has a more angular foundation, there’s an overarching personality that comes through Under‘s material that feels misanthropic and critical in a way perhaps best summarized by the record’s title. Stop Being Naive is sound enough advice, and it comes presented with a fervent argument in its own favor.

Under on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Evil Triplet, Have a Nice Trip

evil triplet have a nice trip

Trimming the runtime of their 2017 debut, Otherworld (review here) nearly in half, Austin weirdo rockers Evil Triplet present the six-song/38-minute single LP Have a Nice Trip on Super Secret with classic garage buzz tone on “A Day Like Any Other,” a cosmic impulse meeting indie sneer on opener “Space Kitten” and a suitably righteous stretch-out on “Aren’t You Experienced?” — which is just side A of the thing. The pulsating “Open Heart” might be the highlight for its Hawkwindian drive and momentary drift, but “Pyramid Eye”‘s blown-out freakery isn’t to be devalued, and the eight-minute capper “Apparition” is dead on from the start of its slower march through the end of its hook-topped jam, reminding of the purpose behind all the sprawl and on-their-own-wavelength vibes. A tighter presentation suits Evil Triplet and lets their songs shine through while still highlighting the breadth of their style and its unabashed adventurousness. May they continue to grow strange and terrify any and all squares they might encounter.

Evil Triplet on Thee Facebooks

Super Secret Records website

 

Vestjysk Ørken, Cosmic Desert Fuzz

Vestjysk orken Cosmic Desert Fuzz

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get on Vestjysk Ørken‘s debut EP, Cosmic Desert Fuzz. At very least, the Danish trio’s three-tracker first outing is aptly-named, and guitarist/vocalist Bo Sejer, bassist Søren Middelkoop Nielsen and drummer Thomas Bonde Sørensen indeed tap into space, sand and tone on the release, but each song also has a definite theme derived from cinema. To wit, “Dune” (11:41) samples Dune, “…Of the Dead” (9:13) taps into the landmark George Romero horror franchise, and “Solaris” (14:15) draws from the 1972 film of the same name. The spaciousness and hypnotic reach of the latter has an appeal all its own in its extended and subtle build, but all three songs not only pay homage to these movies but seem to work at capturing some aspect of their atmosphere. Vestjysk Ørken aren’t quite rewriting soundtracks, but they’re definitely in conversation with the works cited, and with an entire universe of cinema to explore, there are accordingly no limits as to where they might go. Something tells me it won’t be long before we find out how deep their obsession runs.

Vestjysk Ørken on Instagram

Vestjysk Ørken on Bandcamp

 

Dawn of Winter, Pray for Doom

Dawn of Winter Pray for Doom

I have no interest in playing arbiter to what’s “true” in doom metal or anything else, and neither am I qualified to do so. Instead, I’ll just note that Germany’s Dawn of Winter, who trace their roots back nearly 30 years and have released full-lengths on a one-per-decade basis in 1998, 2008 and now 2018 with Pray for Doom, have their house well in order when it comes to conveying the classic tenets of the genre. Issued through I Hate, the eight-track/51-minute offering finds drummer Dennis Schediwy punctuating huge nodder grooves led by Jörg M. Knittel‘s riffs, while bassist Joachim Schmalzried adds low end accentuation and frontman Gerrit P. Mutz furthers the spirit of traditionalism on vocals. Songs like “The Thirteenth of November” and the stomping “The Sweet Taste of Ruin” are timeless for being born too late, and in the spirit of Europe’s finest trad doom, Dawn of Winter evoke familiar aspects without directly worshiping Black Sabbath or any of their other aesthetic forebears. Pray for Doom is doom, because doom, by doomers, for doomers. The converted will be accordingly thrilled to hear them preach.

Dawn of Winter on Thee Facebooks

I Hate Records website

 

Pale Heart, Jungeland

pale heart jungleland

Semi-retroist Southern heavy blues boogie, some tight flourish of psychedelia, and the occasional foray into broader territory, Stuttgart three-piece Pale Heart‘s StoneFree debut long-player, Junegleland is striking in its professionalism and, where some bands might sacrifice audio fidelity at the altar of touching on a heavy ’70s aesthetic, guitarist/vocalist Marc Bauer, key-specialist Nico Bauer and drummer Sebastian Neumeier (since replaced by Marvin Schaber) present their work in crisp fashion, letting the construction of the songs instead define the classicism of their influence. Low end is filled out by Moog where bass might otherwise be, and in combination with Hammond and Fender Rhodes and other synth, there’s nothing as regard missing frequencies coming from Jungleland, the nine songs of which vary in their character but are universally directed toward honing a modern take on classic heavy, informed as it is by Southern rock, hard blues and the tonal warmth of yore. A 50-minute debut is no minor ask of one’s audience in an age of fickle Bandcamp attentions, but cuts like the 12-minute “Transcendence” have a patience and character that’s entrancing without trickery of effects.

Pale Heart on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Slowbro, Nothings

Slowbro Nothings

UK instrumentalist three-piece Slowbro‘s full-length debut, Nothings, brings forth eight tracks and 51 minutes of heavy-ended sludge rock notable for the band’s use of dueling eight-string guitars instead of the standard guitar/bass setup. How on earth does something like that happen? I don’t know. Maybe Sam Poole turned to James Phythian one day and was like, “Hey, I got two eight-string guitars. So, band?” and then a band happened. Zeke Martin — and kudos to him on not being intimidated by all those strings — rounds out on drums and together the trio embark on cuts like “Sexlexia” (a very sexy learning disability, indeed) and “Broslower,” which indeed chugs out at a considerably glacial pace, and “Fire, Fire & Fire,” which moves from noise rock to stonerly swing with the kind of aplomb that can only be conjured by those who don’t give a shit about style barriers. It’s got its ups and downs, but as Nothings — the title-track of which quickly cuts to silence and stays there until a final crash — rounds out with “Pisscat” and the eight-strings go ever so slightly post-rock, it’s hard not to appreciate the willful display of fuckall as it happens. It’s a peculiar kind of charm that makes it both charming and peculiar.

Slowbro on Thee Facebooks

Creature Lab Records website

 

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Thou to Release Magus LP Aug. 31; Three EPs Also Coming; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Looks like it’ll be a glut of new Thou by the time summer is over. In addition to the promised new long-player, which as it turns out is titled Magus, the Baton Rouge sonic extremists have three different-sounding EPs in the works, crafted from various influences along the way. Sounds… prolific? I don’t know. Does anyone doubt Thou can pull this off? Anyone who’s heard them before? They’re like one of the most innovative sludge bands of their generation. Sure they can do an EP of dark grunge. They’d do showtunes and make them heavy.

PR wire sends aong rince emails:

thou magus

Thou Announce New Full-Length Album ‘Magus’ Coming August 31st on Sacred Bones Records

Unveil New Single “The Changeling Prince”

Three EPs To Be Released Ahead of Full-Length

Thou have announced their return with new full-length, ‘Magus’. With the impending release of ‘Magus’, the band have decided to take a different approach and release three EPs ahead of the full-length, each of which the band note “are all a complete sonic departure from ‘Magus’ and from each other…”.

Sacred Bones Records is proud to present the new album, ‘Magus’, Thou’s first full-length since 2014’s Heathen. In the months leading into the new album, Thou will be releasing three drastically different EPs: The House Primordial on Raw Sugar, Inconsolable on Community Records, and Rhea Sylvia on Deathwish, Inc. Each record will focus on a particular sound-noisy drone, quiet acoustic, and melodic grunge-all of which is incorporated into the new LP, subsumed in the band’s more standard doom metal.

While sonically, ‘Magus’ may be a continuation of Heathen, thematically it stands as a stark rebuttal, a journey beyond the principles of pleasure and pain. It is more the culmination of these distinct EPs, which all orbit some internal black hole. FFO alienation, absurdity, boredom, futility, decay, the tyranny of history, the vulgarities of change, awareness as agony, reason as disease.

Though often lumped in with New Orleans sludge bands like Eyehategod and Crowbar, Thou shares a more spiritual kinship with ’90s proto-grunge bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden (all of whom they’ve covered extensively, both in the studio and onstage). The band’s aesthetic and political impulses reflect the obscure’90s DIY hardcore punk found on labels like Ebullition, Vermiform, and Crimethinc. From 2004 through 2016, the band has released four full-length albums, six EPs (some bordering on full lengths), two collaboration records with The Body, and enough material spread out over splits to make up another four or five LPs.

‘Magus’ is available August 31st on Sacred Bones Records. For more details and pre-order information, check here.

Thou
‘Magus’
Sacred Bones
August 31, 2018

1 – Inward
2 – My Brother Caliban
3 – Transcending Dualities
4 – The Changeling Prince
5 – Sovereign Self
6 – Divine Will
7 – In the Kingdom of Meaning
8 – Greater Invocation of Disgust
9 – Elimination Rhetoric
10 – The Law Which Compels
11 – Supremacy

https://www.instagram.com/thou_band/
http://noladiy.org/thou/
https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/products/sbr205-thou-magus

Thou, “The Changeling Prince”

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Föllakzoid Team with J. Spaceman for London Sessions LP out April 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

follakzoid-j-spaceman

In May, Chilean psychedelic adventurers Föllakzoid will head to Europe for an extensive month-long tour that includes stops at Eindhoven Psych Lab and Freak Valley 2017, among other fests. Before they go, the trio will issue London Sessions, a collaborative work with J. Spaceman of Spiritualized and Spacemen 3 that reimagines two tracks from their 2015 outing, III.

That album was in itself a collaboration, the band working with German synth specialist Atom TM to foster a minimal but spaced-out sound on tracks like “Electric” and “Earth,” the opening duo that reappear on London Sessions. As to how these versions might be different than the ones released on III, you’ll have to pardon me if I pass on guessing. They were recorded live, so it seems fair to expect some measure of difference, but yeah, just not gonna even speculate.

The PR wire teases possibilities:

follakzoid j spaceman london sessions

Föllakzoid and J. Spaceman (Spacemen 3, Spiritualized) Join Forces on London Sessions

Available April 20 via Sacred Bones

Föllakzoid feat. J. Spaceman
London Sessions
Pre-order: Sacred Bones | Bandcamp

1. Electric
2. Earth

It should come as no surprise to fans of the Chilean trio Föllakzoid that upon meeting the legendary Jason Pierce a.k.a. J. Spaceman (Spacemen 3, Spiritualized), they discovered they were kindred spirits. Föllakzoid and Spaceman’s projects share a restless drive to explore the outer limits of music, as well as an uncanny ability to lock into a groove until it infiltrates the deepest recesses of the listener’s psyche. When Föllakzoid met Spaceman backstage at a Wooden Shjips gig at London’s Electric Ballroom several years ago, they instantly became friends.

For London Sessions, the Chileans and Spaceman joined forces for new, live-to-tape renditions of “Electric” and “Earth,” two highlights from Föllakzoid’s III. The recordings were made in a private studio in London while Föllakzoid was on tour in Europe in June 2016, and Spaceman’s contributions breathe new life into the songs.

“Jason added a very different harmonic atmosphere to the songs,” guitarist Domingo Garcia-Huidobro explained. “It somehow re-articulated the space and metric that already existed in a way the band never could. These new versions have a different edge.”

Föllakzoid Live Dates:
May 18: Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
May 19: London, UK @ London Fields Brewhouse
May 22: Haifa, Israel @ wunderbar
May 23: Tel Aviv, Israel @ Levontin 7
May 24: Ghent, Belgium @ Charlatan
May 25: Brussels, Belgium @ AB
May 26: Eindhoven, The Netherlands @ Eindhoven Psych Lab
May 27: Amsterdam, The Netherlands @ London Calling
May 28: Groningen, The Netherlands @ Vera
May 29: Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland @ L’Amalgame
May 30: Winterhur, Switzerland @ Albani
May 31: Leipzig, Germany @ Ilses Erika
June 2: Malmo, Sweden @ Plan B
June 3: Gothenburg, Sweden @ Pustervik
June 4: Copenhagen, Denmark @ Loppen
June 5: Berlin, Germany @ Lido
June 6: Warsaw, Poland @ Hydrozagadka Club
June 7: Poznan, Poland @ LAS
June 8: Prague, Czech Republic @ Theremin
June 9: Zagreb, Croatia @ KSET
June 10: Milano, Italy @ Santeria
June 11: Guastalla, Italy @ HandMade Festival
June 13: Marina di Ravenna, Italy @ Hana-Bi
June 14: Rome, Italy @ Monk
June 15: Torino, Italy @ Magazzino sul Po´
June 17: Siegen, Germany @ FreakValley Festival
June 18: Bern, Swiss @ Reitschule

https://www.facebook.com/FOLLAKZOID/
https://follakzoid.bandcamp.com/album/london-sessions
https://soundcloud.com/follakzoid
https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/collections/frontpage/products/sbr176-follakzoid-feat-j-spaceman-london-sessions

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