Andreas Voland Premieres “9 Doors Open” from New Project

Posted in audiObelisk on January 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

andreas voland

What to expect when expanding your mind:

Colors might seem more vivid. You might hear sounds you didn’t know were there. They might not be there. They might be bells. Or sampled birdsong. You won’t really know. That’s fine. You’ll feel a swirling sensation, like a chill up your spine, but it might start at your ankles. You’ll be conscious of your blood moving, able to taste it somehow. You might feel like your skull is getting smaller. Oh, and at some point you’re totally going to freak out.

“9 Doors Open” is the first track from the new solo-ish-project of Andreas Voland, also known for his work on bass in Samavayo. Admittedly, there’s a visual component handled by Steffen Freiling that one imagines is pretty essential to setting the vibe in a live setting that’s woefully under-served in this post, but the 31-minute standalone piece isn’t exactly light on vibe as is. Rather, it engages with a ruminant experimentalism, a richness of space and substance coursing through its evident movements, andreas voland 9 doors openwaves of synth and subtle underlying low end pervading its early going only to recede and be replaced by open ambience and, gradually, noisier wash. That, in turn, meets with Native American-style chants echoing through a cosmic soundscape before a pulse of low end assures some ground beneath the feet, however fluid that might still be. Percussion arrives in its own time, and the wash is given form to a further degree, but by then the trance is well induced and even as synth returns, Voland‘s layered expanses seem inwardly cosmic.

The acoustic guitar that comes in at about 27 minutes feels near-messianic, and though the last movement of “9 Doors Open” is the shortest, it’s pivotal in underscoring a human presence within the vast landscape being created. As the first outing from Voland in this form, “9 Doors Open” seems to explode with creative urgency. It’s outwardly mellow, of course, but the scope of it speaks to it having been years in concept before actually being executed, and the amount of sonic ground the piece covers in its half-hour-plus is worth considering a single-song full-length. Naturally, I don’t know how what Voland‘s intent is for the project, if this might be a one-off, or an ongoing outlet, or what future material might bring, but taken on its own merits, “9 Doors Open” brims with psychedelic warmth and an alternate-universe acid folk spirit that’s nothing short of hypnotic.

Voland and Freiling will bring “9 Doors Open” to life in Berlin on Feb. 2 at Zukunft am Ostkreuz, which, if it isn’t an art gallery, is about to be one.

You can hear the premiere of “9 Doors Open” in its entirety below, and you should. But get yourself ready first. Chill out a bit. Be patient. Headphones might help, but regardless, put yourself in the right position to be open to what the track is doing and you’ll likely find it all the more rewarding.

Either way, please enjoy:

9 Doors Open – meditativ psychedelic audiovisual Trip for lucid dreaming or shifting reality

10 years of composing, 20.000.000 photo files, 9 Doors Open is a longterm projects, a meditative psychedelic, audiovisual trip to your innerself. Ideal for lucid dreaming or simply relaxing and enjoying soundscapes.

In their project Andreas Voland (musician in the band Samavayo) and Steffen Freiling (photographer and visual artist) are shifting the dimensions time and space, which gives you the opportunity to discover your reality in new ways.

On 2nd of February, 20:00 o’clock will take place the premiere at Zukunft am Ostkreuz in Berlin. Music by Andreas Voland and visuals by Steffen Freiling.

And the link to the event on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/507561446412197/

Andreas Voland on Soundcloud

Steffen Freiling website

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2018

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the-top-30-of-2018

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2018 to that, please do.

It just wouldn’t be a year if it wasn’t completely overwhelming, right?

2018 has certainly met that standard and then some. The swath of output, whether it’s a new generation adopting and adapting established methods or out and out reinventing the stylistic wheel and then pushing it uphill on a seemingly endless barrage of tours, has been staggering, and it’s still happening. There’s a little more than a week to go in the year. You think a band isn’t putting something out today? Of course they are. It’s every day. It’s all the time.

But this year wasn’t just about quantity either. I think one of my biggest struggles in writing about albums in 2018 — and with the last Quarterly Review and various premieres and video posts that were basically album reviews in disguise, let’s estimate we’re somewhere past 300 records reviewed one way or another — was in conveying just how killer so much of the stuff coming through was. How many times can you say the word “awesome?” Well, I’m sure we’ll see it a few more times before this list is over, so there you go.

I say something like this every time I do a list, but please keep in mind these are my picks and I’m one person. But I am a person. I know there’s the whole internet-anonymity thing, but I assure you, I’m a human being (more of a cave troll, really) typing these words. I’m all for everyone sharing their own picks in the comments, and all for passionate advocating, but please, let’s keep it civil and respectful. These things can spiral out of control quickly, but let’s remember that we’re all human beings and worth of basic courtesy, even if some of us are dead wrong about a good many things. You should definitely punch nazis, though.

Thanks in advance for reading. Here we go:

[UPDATE: You’ll notice the inclusion of an ’18a.’ I had Stoned Jesus in my notes as number 18 initially and they got dropped as I was adjusting things along the way. I’ve added them back in, but it didn’t seem fair to bump everyone else down after the post had already been published. That was the best I could come up with for a solution. If you’re pissed about one more killer record being added, please feel free to email me and tell me all about it.]

30. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark

The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Chicago’s The Skull had no small task before them in following up their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) — let alone living up to their pedigree — but their second album demonstrated a creative growth that sacrificed nothing of memorability when it came to songs like “Breathing Underwater” and “All that Remains (Is True).” They got down to work and got the job done, which is what a working band does. 2018 was by any measure a fantastic year for doom, and The Skull were a big part of why.

29. Foghound, Awaken to Destroy

foghound awaken to destroy

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 21.

The Dec. 2017 murder of Rev. Jim Forrester was tragic. No other way to say it. Foghound, who were in the midst of making Awaken to Destroy at the time, put together an album that not only features Forrester‘s last recorded performance, but pays respect to his memory while the wound is still raw and manages to kick ass all the while. It’s a record that can’t ever be divorced from its circumstances — just can’t — and so it can be a heavy listen in more than just its tones, but it’s basically Foghound proving they’re unstoppable. And so they are.

28. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back

orange goblin the wolf bites back

Released by Spinefarm Records. Reviewed June 13.

Who among us here today is not a sucker for Orange Goblin? Come forward an be judged. I mean, really. Nine records deep, the London sceneforgers are nothing less than an institution, beloved by boozehounds, riffhounds, doomhounds, and really, a wide variety of hounds the world over. Also dudes. With its essential title-track hook and highlight cuts in “Ghosts of the Primitives” and “Burn the Ships” — or, you know, any of them — they added to one of heavy’s most unshakable legacies with an album as furious as it is welcoming to its generations-spanning fanbase.

27. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe

fu manchu clone of the universe
Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed Feb. 15.

There are two kinds of people in this world, and they’re both Fu Manchu fans. Clone of the Universe turned heads with a guest appearance from Rush‘s Alex Lifeson on the 18-minute side-B-consuming “Il Mostro Atomico,” but really to focus on that instead of “Intelligent Worship,” “(I’ve Been) Hexed,” “Don’t Panic,” “Slower than Light,” etc., is only seeing half the point of the album in the first place. The long-running lords of fuzz hit a new stride with 2014’s Gigantoid (review here), and Clone of the Universe was in every way a worthy successor.

26. Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain

Witch-Mountain-Witch-Mountain
Released by Svart Records. Reviewed May 16.

It was an unenviable task before Witch Mountain in replacing vocalist Uta Plotkin, but founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nathan Carson found the right voice in Kayla Dixon and solidified the lineup with her and bassist Justin Brown enough to make a declarative statement in Witch Mountain‘s self-titled LP. That’s the story of it. They pulled it off. Met with what was unquestionably a bummer circumstance, they pushed through and moved their sound forward through a new beginning — and not their first one. Watch out when their next record hits.

25. Windhand, Eternal Return

windhand eternal return

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Oct. 3.

Richmond, Virginia, doomers Windhand‘s second collaboration with producer Jack Endino produced a marked and purposeful expansion of their sound, encompassing classic grunge influences and a heavy psychedelic swirl that added color their previously-greyscale sonic haze. Resonant in tone and emotionalism, Eternal Return readjusted Windhand‘s trajectory in such a manner that, where one might’ve thought they knew where the band were headed in terms of their progression, they’ve made themselves a less predictable outfit on the whole. For that alone, it’s a triumph. Then you have the songs.

24. Sun Voyager, Seismic Vibes

Sun Voyager Seismic Vibes

Released by King Pizza Records. Reviewed April 18.

I don’t even want to admit how long I was waiting for Sun Voyager‘s first long-player to show up, but when it finally did, the New York trio did not disappoint. Catchy, energetic, fuzzed-out tunes with driving rhythms and a heavy psych flourish, they tapped into shoegaze and desert vibes without losing any sense of themselves in the process, and if the extra wait was so they could be so remarkably coherent in their expression on their full-length, then I wouldn’t want it to have shown up any sooner. An easy pick to stand among 2018’s best debut albums. Now to wait for the next one.

23. Forming the Void, Rift

forming the void rift

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed July 27.

It should tell you something that after working quickly to produce three albums, Louisiana’s Forming the Void are still defined by their potential. If I had my druthers, I’d put the recent Ripple signees on tour for the bulk of 2019, across the US and in Europe for festivals and support-slot club shows, really give them an opportunity to hammer out who they are as a band and then hit the studio for LP four. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but they’d only be doing the universe a favor by kicking into that gear. As it stands, their progression is palpable in their material and they stand absolutely ready for whatever the next level might be for them.

22. Spaceslug, Eye the Tide

spaceslug eye the tide

Released by BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed June 29.

Aside from the speed at which Spaceslug have turned around offerings — with Eye the Tide following 2017’s Mountains and Reminiscence EP (review here) and Time Travel Dilemma (review here) full-length and their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here) — the Polish outfit have undertaken significant progression in their sound, moving from pure heavy psychedelic warmth to incorporating elements out of extreme metal as they did on Eye the Tide. Adding to the latest record’s accomplishment is the smoothness with which they brought seemingly opposing sides together, only adding depth to an approach already worthy of oceanic comparison.

21. Conan, Existential Void Guardian

Conan Existential Void Guardian
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 14.

Conan‘s reign of terror has been unfolding for more than a decade now, and each of their albums has become a kind of step along a path of incremental growth. Consider the melody creeping into the shouts of founding guitarist Jon Davis, or the emergence of bassist Chris Fielding as a vocal presence alongside, the two sharing a frontman role more than ever before while welcoming drummer Johnny King to the fold of destructive tonality and doomly extremism. Existential Void Guardian may end up just being another stomp-print on their way to the next thing, but it affirmed the fact that as much as Conan grow each time out, their central violence continues to hold sway.

20. Pale Divine, Pale Divine

PALE DIVINE S/T
Released by Shadow Kingdom Records. Reviewed Nov. 21.

Look. A new Pale Divine record doesn’t come along every day, so yeah, their self-titled was probably going to be on my list one way or the other, but it definitely helps that not only was it their first outing in six years since 2012’s Painted Windows Black (review here), but it had the songs to live up to a half-decade-plus of anticipation. It marked the first studio appearance from bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis alongside guitarist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey — now both of Beelzefuzz as well — and made a strong argument for how much Pale Divine deserve more than 20 years on from their initial demo to be considered classic American doom.

19. Mos Generator, Shadowlands

mos generator shadowlands
Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed May 11.

The return and rise to prominence of Washington pure heavy rockers Mos Generator might be the underground’s feelgood story of the decade, but it hasn’t by any means been easily won. In addition to rebuilding the band however many albums ago, guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed has put in innumerable hours on tour and worked to actually develop the group creatively in addition to in terms of stage presence. This is shown throughout some of the classic prog elements making their way onto Shadowlands, and perhaps some of the collection’s moodier aspects are born of the aforementioned road time as well. Hard for that kind of thing not to be a slog after a while, but at least they have killer tunes to play.

18a. Stoned Jesus, Pilgrims

STONED JESUS PILGRIMS

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 5.

The only safe bet about Stoned Jesus‘ fourth long-player, Pilgrims, was that it was going to sound different than the third. That 2015 outing, The Harvest (review here), preceded the band touring to celebrate the fifth anniversary and after-the-fact success of 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), but Pilgrims defied narrative in that instead of incorporating elements from the second record in more of a heavy psych or jam sound, Stoned Jesus instead showcased a tighter, more sureheaded sense of craft than they’ve ever displayed before, and arrived on Napalm Records with a collection of songs that demonstrated the growth and sense of creative will that drives them. While one can take a look at their moniker and think immediately they know what’s coming, Stoned Jesus have made themselves one of the least predictable bands in heavy rock.

18. Backwoods Payback, Future Slum

backwoods payback future slum

Self-released. Reviewed Aug. 15.

“Pirate Smile.” “Lines.” “Whatever.” “It Ain’t Right.” “Threes.” “Cinderella.” “Generals.” “Big Enough.” “Alone.” “Lucky. Mike Cummings, Jessica Baker, Erik Larson. Every player, every song, every minute. If you want to know what heart-on-sleeve sounds like, it fucking sounds like Backwoods Payback. In their line from hardcore punk to grunge to heavy rock, they encompass experiences and emotionalism that are both shown in raw form throughout Future Slum, and build all the while on the chemistry they set out in developing with 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), when they welcomed Larson to the lineup on drums and revitalized their mission. Also worth noting, they were the best live band I saw this year. Anywhere.

17. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown

corrosion of conformity no cross no crown

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Jan. 3

No question the excitement of C.O.C. putting out their first record with frontman Pepper Keenan involved since 2005’s In the Arms of God was one of this year’s top stories in heavy. And No Cross No Crown tapped directly into the spirit of 1994’s Deliverance (discussed here) and 1996’s Wiseblood (discussed here) in terms of direction, while updating the band’s style with a four-part 2LP in mind. In some ways, it’ll be their next album that really gives listeners a sense of where they’re at and where they might be headed, but as welcome returns go, having Keenan alongside Mike DeanWoody Weatherman and Reed Mullin is in no way to be understated, and neither is the quality of their output together, then and now.

16. Naxatras, III

naxatras iii

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 14.

It is no simple feat to hypnotize an audience and convey serenity while at the same time holding attention with songcraft, so that the listener isn’t actually so much unconscious as malleable of mood and spirit in such a direction as the band suggests. Greek trio Naxatras have worked quickly to become experts at this, and their third full-length fosters tonal warmth and jammy progressions with an overarching naturalism that finds them so committed to analog recording that one can buy direct transfers of the tape master of III. Some acts take classic-style practices as an aesthetic choice. With Naxatras, it seems to be the stuff of life, yet their sound is only vibrant and human in a way that, at least one hopes, is even more representative of the future than the past.

15. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions

clutch book of bad decisions

Released by Weathermaker Music. Reviewed Aug. 27.

It was time for Clutch to make a change in producers, and the Maryland overlords of groove seemed to know it. Known as a live band, they went with Vance Powell, who’s known a live band producer. The results on Book of Bad Decisions might not have been so earth-shatteringly different from 2015’s Psychic Warfare (review here), which was the too-soon follow-up to 2013’s Earth Rocker (review here) — both helmed by Machine — but the inimitable four-piece indeed succeeded in capturing the electricity of their stage performance and, as ever, treated fans to a collection of songs bearing Clutch‘s unmistakable hallmarks of quirky lyrics, funky rhythms and heavy roll. They may always be a live band, but Clutch‘s studio work is in no way to be discounted, ever, as this record reaffirmed. Plus, crab cakes.

14. Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Released by Pelagic Records. Reviewed Aug. 3.

After 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), I wasn’t sure Ancestors were going to put out another record. They kicked around word of one for a while, but it wasn’t until the end of last year that it really seemed to congeal into a possibility. And by then, who the hell knew what they might get up to on a full-length? With Suspended in Reflections, in some says, they picked up where they left off in terms of finding a niche for themselves in progressive and melodic heavy, but I think the time showed in the poise of their execution and the control of the material. Suspended in Reflections can’t help but be six years more mature than its predecessor, and that suits its contemplative feel. In tracks like “Gone,” and “The Warm Glow,” they tempered their expansive sound with an efficiency that can only be had with time.

13. High on Fire, Electric Messiah

high on fire electric messiah

Released by eOne Heavy. Reviewed Sept. 28.

The narrative here was hard to beat. Matt Pike spending an album cycle talking about Lemmy Kilmister and paying homage to his dirt-rock forebear and the gods of old? It doesn’t get much more perfect than that. Electric Messiah was the third collaboration between High on Fire and producer Kurt Ballou behind 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), and while it seemed after the last record that the formula might be getting stale, the band only sounded more and more lethal throughout the latest offering. Even putting aside their contributions to underground heavy, they’ve become one of the most essential metal bands of their generation. Metal, period. Doesn’t matter what subgenre you’re talking about it. If you’re listening to High on Fire, you know it. Usually because you’ve just been decapitated.

12. Yawning Man, The Revolt Against Tired Noises

yawning man the revolt against tired noises

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed July 2.

You know, if you take the time to separate Yawning Man from their 30-plus-year history and their legacy as one of the foundational acts of what later became desert rock, and you listen to The Revolt Against Tired Noises, you’re still left with basically a dream of an album. Mostly instrumental, as is their wont, they nonetheless had bassist Mario Lalli (also Fatso Jetson) sing this time around on a version of the previously-unreleased “Catamaran,” which Kyuss covered once upon a whenever although Yawning Man had never officially put it to tape. But really, that and all other novelty aside, guitarist Gary Arce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson are a chemistry unto themselves. I don’t know if they’ll ever be as huge as they should be, but every bit of acclaim they get, they’ve earned, and if The Revolt Against Tired Noises helps them get it, all the more so.

11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers

greenleaf hear the rivers

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Nov. 26.

Swedish heavy rock mavens Greenleaf have become an entirely different band than they once were. No longer a Dozer side-project from guitarist Tommi Holappa with a rotating cast of players, they’re a solidified, road-tested, powerhouse unit, and Hear the Rivers bleeds soul as a result. Holappa, frontman Arvid Hällagård, bassist Hans Fröhlich and drummer Sebastian Olsson sound like they’re absolutely on fire in the album’s tracks, and far from being staid or formulaic as one might expect a sixth long-player to be, Hear the Rivers built on what the band accomplished with 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here) and came across as all the more vital and nearly frenetic in their energy. I won’t say Greenleaf has seen their last lineup change, because one never knows, but the band as they are today is the realization of potential I don’t think even Greenleaf knew was there.

10. Gozu, Equilibrium

gozu equilibrium

Released by Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records. Reviewed April 4.

Five records deep into a career into its second decade, Gozu haven’t had a miss yet. Admittedly, some of their early work can seem formative considering where they are now, but still. And after the 2016 rager, Revival (review here), to have the band return to the same studio — Wild Arctic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where strides producer Dean Baltulonis — for the follow-up allows for the four-piece to directly show how their sound has grown more encompassing in the last couple years. And it has. Equilibrium is a rich and varied listen that holds true to Gozu‘s well-established penchant for soulful vibes and crunching, hard-hitting riffs and groove, but while it shares the directness of approach with Revival, it makes moves that a band could only make moving from one record to the next. I expect nothing less their next time out as well, because a decade later, that’s Gozu‘s proven track record.

9. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

monster magnet mindfucker
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 23.

The battle for the best album title of 2018 ended early when New Jersey everything-rockers Monster Magnet announced the release of Mindfucker. And what else to call a Monster Magnet LP at this point? They’ve stopped writing to genre. They’re driven by the creative mania of frontman/founder Dave Wyndorf, and they’ve seen psychedelic expanses and commercial success the likes of which would serve the tenure of four lesser bands. What’s left to do but whatever the hell you want? So that’s what Monster Magnet are doing. It just so happens that while they’re doing it, they’re still basically outclassing the entirety of the former planet earth as songwriters. As Monster Magnet fan in 2018, there was nothing more I could’ve asked than what Mindfucker delivered. And if you’re still trying to get your brain around it however many months later, you’re not alone. I think that’s the idea.

8. Apostle of Solitude, From Gold to Ash

Apostle of Solitude From Gold to Ash

Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Feb. 20.

Best doom album of 2018. The combination of craft and passion behind the delivery. The way the dark tones fed into the emotions so clearly on display and sheer presence of it in listening to songs like “Keeping the Lighthouse,” “Ruination by Thy Name” and “My Heart is Leaving Here.” Apostle of Solitude never seem to be the highest profile band out there, but their work seems never to be anything less than outstanding, and I refuse to accept them as anything less than among the most pivotal American acts out there making traditional doom. And not just making it, but making it their own, with a sense of new pursuits and individualism that extends to playing style as well as atmosphere. I know doom isn’t exactly in short supply these days — figuratively or literally — but if you miss out on what Apostle of Solitude are doing with it, you’ll only regret it later. I’ll say it one more time: Best doom album of 2018.

7. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II

holy grove ii
Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 31.

Every now and again, anticipating the crap of an album really pays off, and such was the case with Holy Grove II, the Ripple Music debut from the Portland outfit whose 2016 self-titled (review here) seemed like such a herald of excellence to come while also, you know, being killer. Holy Grove II brought the four-piece of vocalist Andrea Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs, bassist Gregg Emley and drummer Eben Travis to entirely new levels of composition and execution. In songs like “Blade Born,” the shorter, sharper “Aurora,” the patiently rolling “Valley of the Mystics,” “Solaris” and closer “Cosmos,” which boasted a not-really-necessary-but-definitely-welcome guest vocal appearance from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt, — and oh wait, that’s all of the tracks — Holy Grove entered a different echelon. Anticipation will likewise be high for Holy Grove III, but it’ll be hard to complain with this record to keep company in the meantime.

6. All Them Witches, ATW

all them witches atw
Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 18.

Over five All Them Witches albums, the Nashville four-piece have gone from a nascent heavy Americana jam band to one of the most distinct acts in the US underground. Their development in sound is chemistry-driven, so it was a risk when the founding trio of bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod (who also produced) and drummer Robby Staebler welcomed new keyboardist Jonathan Draper into the lineup to take the place of Allan van Cleave. Amid a more naturalist production than that of 2017’s Sleeping Through the War (review here), the revamped four-piece flourished in terms of songwriting and conveying their stage-born sonic personae. From the gleeful fuckery of opener “Fishbelly 86 Onions” to the memorable moodiness of “Diamond” and the back-end jam “Harvest Feast” en route to the stretched-out end of “Rob’s Dream,” All Them Witches essentially confirmed they could do whatever they wanted and make it work.

5. YOB, Our Raw Heart

yob our raw heart
Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed June 7.

Actually, if you want a sample of YOB‘s raw heart, the place to go is probably 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), but whatever the Eugene, Oregon, shapers of cosmic doom might’ve lacked in titular accuracy on their eighth long-player, they made up for in a new, statesman-like posture. Their approach was mature, hammered out to a professionalism working completely on its own terms, and they never sounded so sure of who they are as a band or as confident of their direction. In extended cuts “Beauty in Falling Leaves” and “Our Raw Heart,” they explored new and progressive textures and melodies, and managed to reaffirm their core aspects while finding room for conveying emotion that came across as nothing but ultimately sincere. They have been and still are one of a kind, and as they continue to move forward, they remain a band that makes one feel lucky to be alive to witness their work. Our Raw Heart was perhaps more refined than it let on, but the heart was there for sure, as always.

4. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman

brant bjork mankind woman

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 13.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t a fan of the (relatively) harder-hitting approach Brant Bjork and his Low Desert Punk Band took on 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here), but Mankind Woman brought in some more of his soul influences, and whether it was the subtly subversive funk of “Chocolatize” and “Brand New Old Times” or the callout “1968” and laid back vibes of the title-track and “Swagger and Sway,” Bjork — working with guitarist Bubba DuPree on songwriting and production — offered a definitive look at what has made his 20-year solo career so special and demonstrates not only his longevity and his legacy, but his will to continue to progress as an artist honing his craft. His discography is well populated by now to be sure, but Mankind Woman represents a turn from the last couple records, and if it’s in any way portentous of things to come, it bodes well. Bjork is right at home nestled into classic-style grooves, and his legacy as one of the principal architects of desert rock is continually reaffirmed.

3. Earthless, Black Heaven

earthless black heaven

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed March 15.

They’ve been great, not just good, for a long time now, and as forerunners of the San Diego heavy scene, they’re godfathers to an up and coming generation of bands taking their influence — let alone acts from the rest of the world — but Black Heaven is a special moment for them because of its departure. No, it wasn’t not the first time guitarist Isaiah Mitchell sang on an Earthless recording, but it did represent a tip of the balance in that direction for the band on a studio full-length, and that resulted in a special moment. Album opener “Gifted by the Wind” was one of the best songs I heard this year, and while “End to End” and the all-thrust “Volt Rush” affirmed that more traditional songwriting was well within the grasp of Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba, they still found space for a sprawling jam or two, keeping their claim on the instrumentalism that’s (largely) fueled their tenure to date. Earthless don’t want for acclaim, but every bit of it is earned, and while their primary impact has always been live, Black Heaven saw them construct a traditional-style LP that still bore the hallmarks of their collective personality. It was the best of all worlds.

2. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain

king buffalo longing to be the mountain
Self-released/released by Stickman Records. Reviewed Sept. 27.

In the dark early hours of 2018, the Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson issued the Repeater EP (review here) as a follow-up to their 2016 debut, Orion (review here), so Longing to Be the Mountain didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but even with Repeater preceding its arrival, I don’t think anyone necessary expected King Buffalo‘s second album to have such a scope or to be so engrossing with it. In its melody, patience, atmosphere and heft, it was an absolute joy to behold. Its songs were memorable at the same time they were far-reaching, and while Orion was already my pick for the best debut of 2016, Longing to Be the Mountain realized even more potential than that record had hinted toward. It could be intimate or majestic at its whim, and its dynamic set an individual characterization of heavy psychedelia and blues-style sprawl that the band wholly owned. With production by Ben McLeod of All Them Witches behind them, they worked to serve notice of a progression undertaken the results of which are already staggering and still seem to be looking ahead to the next stage, literally and figuratively. One of the principal standards I use in constructing this list every year is what I listen to most. That’s this record.

1. Sleep, The Sciences

sleep the sciences

Released by Third Man Records. Reviewed May 1.

Obviously, right? To some extent, when Sleep surprise-announced on April 19 they’d release their first album in 15 years the next day, and then did, they took ownership of 2018. Even with records still to come at that point from YOB and Sleep guitarist Matt Pike‘s own High on Fire, there was no way that when the end of the year came around, it wasn’t going to be defined by the advent of a new Sleep record. And even if it sucked, it would probably still be Album of the Year, but fortunately, as Pike, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also Om) and drummer Jason Roeder (also Neurosis) took their long-running stage reunion to the studio, they brought material that highlighted the best elements from all players. Pike‘s wild soloing, Cisneros‘ meditative vocals and Roeder‘s intricate but smooth style of roll all came together in older pieces like “Antarcticans Thawed” and “Sonic Titan” and newer highlights “Giza Butler” and “Marijuanaut’s Theme,” and aside from the excitement at their existence, they showed the mastery of form that Sleep had been demonstrating live since 2009 and which they hinted toward in the 2014 single, The Clarity (review here). A new Sleep full-length was something long-discussed, long-rumored and long-considered, but when it finally happened, I think the results vaporized expectation in a way no one could’ve anticipated. There’s a reason Sleep are Sleep. Having The Sciences as a reminder of that brought about the defining moment of 2018.

The Next 20

Indeed, it wouldn’t be much of a Top 30 at all if it didn’t go to 50. Don’t try to make sense of it, just look at the records.

31. Atavismo, Valdeinfierno
32. Grayceon, IV
33. Clamfight, III
34. Seedy Jeezus, Polaris Oblique
35. Megaton Leviathan, Mage
36. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland
37. Arcadian Child, Superfonica
38. Freedom Hawk, Beast Remains
39. The Machine, Faceshift
40. Messa, Feast for Water
41. Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium
42. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Science Fiction
43. Domkraft, Flood
44. Träden, Träden
45. Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music
46. Samavayo, Vatan
47. Foehammer, Second Sight
48. Bongripper, Terminal
49. Mansion, First Death of the Lutheran
50. Sunnata, Outlands
51. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Come and Chutney

Believe me when I tell you, I sweated over this section more than I did the actual top 30. Mansion should be higher. So should Chubby Thunderous, though something in me thought they might like being #50 on a list of 30. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Clamfight, Black Rainbows, Foehammer, Seedy Jeezus, Messa, Domkraft. All of these were fucking awesome. And there are more (we’ll get there). Eventually numbers add up. I won’t say a bad word about any of these. That’s it.

Honorable Mention

This section always winds up expanded as other people point out things I missed and so on, but here’s what I’ve got in the immediate, alphabetically:

  • Alms, Act One
  • Ape Machine, Darker Seas
  • Belzebong, Light the Dankness
  • Black Moon Circle, Psychedelic Spacelord
  • Blackwater Holylight, Blackwater Holylight
  • Bong, Thought and Existence
  • Carpet, About Rooms and Elephants
  • Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery
  • Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree
  • Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need
  • Death Alley, Superbia
  • Drug Cult, Drug Cult
  • Dunbarrow, II
  • Electric Citizen, Helltown
  • Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard: Songs of Hoof and Horn
  • Evoken, Hypnagogia
  • Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning
  • Fuzz Evil, High on You
  • Graven, Heirs of Discord
  • Graveyard, Peace
  • Green Dragon, Green Dragon
  • Green Druid, Ashen Blood
  • Here Lies Man, You Will Know Nothing
  • High Priestess, High Priestess
  • Horehound, Holocene
  • IAH, II
  • JIRM, Surge ex Monumentis
  • Killer Boogie, Acid Cream
  • Lonely Kamel, Death’s Head Hawkmoth
  • MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure
  • Moab, Trough
  • Mountain Dust, Seven Storms
  • Mouth, Floating
  • Mr. Plow, Maintain Radio Silence
  • T.G. Olson, Earthen Pyramid
  • Onségen Ensemble, Duel
  • Orango, Evergreen
  • Owl, Nights in Distortion
  • Pushy, Hard Wish
  • Rifflord, 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation
  • River Cult, Halcyon Daze
  • Rotor, Sechs
  • Somali Yacht Club, The Sea
  • Sumac, Love in Shadow
  • Sundrifter, Visitations
  • Svvamp, Svvamp II
  • Thou, Magus
  • Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse
  • Weedpecker, III

Special Note

Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to include these in the list proper because they’re not really underground releases, but there were two more records I especially wanted to highlight for their quality:

  • Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog
  • Judas Priest, Firepower

Best Short Release of the Year

Normally I’d do this as a separate post, but as a result of being robbed earlier this year, I feel like my list is woefully incomplete. If you have any demos, EPs, splits, singles, etc., to add to it, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Still, the top pick was clear:

  • Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard & Slomatics, Totems Split

Rarely do two bands work in such coherent tandem to their mutual benefit. Here are a few other essential short releases for 2018, alphabetically:

  • All Them Witches, Lost and Found
  • Alunah, Amber & Gold
  • Canyon, Mk II
  • Demon Head, The Resistence
  • Destroyer of Light, Hopeless
  • Ecstatic Vision, Under the Influence
  • Godmaker & Somnuri, Split
  • Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul
  • King Buffalo, Repeater
  • Minsk & Zatokrev, Split
  • Sleep, Leagues Beneath
  • Stonus, Lunar Eclipse
  • Sundecay, Gale

Looking Forward

A good many albums have already been announced or hinted at for 2019. I in no way claim this to be a complete roundup of what’s coming, but here’s what I have in my notes so far, in absolutely no order:

Kings Destroy, Lo-Pan, Cities of Mars, Heavy Temple, Mr. Peter Hayden, Curse the Son, High Fighter, Destroyer of Light, Year of the Cobra, Buffalo Fuzz, Zaum, The Sonic Dawn, Alunah, Candlemass, Elepharmers, Grandier, Dorre, Abrahma, Mars Red Sky, Eternal Black, Elephant Tree, Atala, No Man’s Valley, Sun Blood Stories, Crypt Sermon, The Riven, Hibrido, Snail, Red Beard Wall, 11Paranoias, Dead Witches, Monte Luna, Captain Caravan (LP), Swallow the Sun, Oreyeon, Motorpsycho, Vokonis, Hexvessel, Saint Vitus, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Kind, Mastiff, Shadow Witch, Om.

Okay, That’s It

Yeah, no, I’m serious. List is done. Everybody go back to your lives. Your families miss you.

Really though, while this is by no means my last post of 2018, I can’t let it pass without saying thank you so much to everyone for checking out the site this year, or for just digging into this, or for sending me music, or hitting me up on social media, sharing a link, anything. Thank you. Thank you. I could never have imagined when it started out where it would be now. Or that I’d still be doing it. Your support means more to me than I can say, and I thank you so much for being a part of this with me.

So thanks.

If you have something to add to the list, please do so by leaving a comment below, but keep in mind as well the above note requesting civility. Please don’t make me feel stupid because I forgot your favorite record. I forgot a lot of people’s favorite records. I’m one dude. I’m doing my best.

And please keep in mind if you’ve got a list together that the Year-End Poll is open and results will be out Jan. 1.

Everybody have a great and safe 2019.

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Samavayo Premiere Video for “Sirens”; Vatan out Friday

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

samavayo

Comprised of seven tracks running 45 minutes, Samavayo‘s sixth album, Vatan (out this week on Noisolution), proves an immediately intricate affair. The previously unveiled “Prevarication Nation” is the opener and one of only two songs to top seven minutes long, with the other being the title-track that directly follows. The effect of these two pieces on the rest of the listening experience isn’t to be understated. Based in Berlin with Persian roots — the album’s title translates to “homeland,” and indeed the title-track’s lyrics are in Persian — Samavayo have previously explored textures of psychedelia and heavy rock, and those elements aren’t absent from Vatan either, but a socially and politically conscious mindset in songs like “Sirens,” “The Hate of Thousands,” “Prevarication Nation,” “Marionette” and “Children of Kobane” comes accompanied by a tightening of the trio’s performance and a sonic cohesion around progressive metal elements. A Tool influence is notable from the outset, but doesn’t necessarily define the whole work, as the rolling riff in the apex of “Vatan” itself, or the rampant hookmaking in “Time to Die” or the the jammy drift in the midsection of “The Hate of Thousands,” which also serves as the centerpiece. The very heart of the record, then.

And like the rest of Vatan as a whole, that placement doesn’t seem to be a coincidence. Nor should it be for a band six albums deep into their career, but Samavayo‘s execution across these tracks is all the more pointed than it has been in the past, and that’s shown even in the shortest of the inclusions, “Sirens.” Following the record’s initial salvo, “Sirens” is the only song under five minutes long at 4:41, and brings an intensity in its percussion and overarching rhythmic thrust that readily distinguishes it among the samavayo vatanother material as well as from Samavayo‘s 2016 offering, Dakota (review here). Like “Children of Kobane” and “Prevarication Nation” and much of what surrounds, it retains a memorable chorus in addition to showcasing the drums, but it’s grim, and the sirens in question seem as much to be tortured human voices in frontman Behrang Alavi‘s Middle Eastern native region as those of the personnel presumably responding to them. Such is the plight of the emigrant: removed from the capital-‘h’ Homeland but still tied to it emotionally and existentially.

Vatan is all the more poignant for this human edge brought to its point of view, and as the three-piece of Alavi, bassist/backing vocalist Andreas Voland and drummer/backing vocalist Stephan Voland embark on this ambitious outing, it’s also worth noting that it rocks. That seems almost silly to say, but it’s true nonetheless, and it’s not necessarily a given that an album with such a weight of message would present that without a sacrifice of songcraft or performance. Samavayo, whose creative evolution is writ large throughout their catalog, have never sounded sharper than they do here, and rather than give up the raw impact the material might otherwise make in the name of making a political statement, or at least examining the world as it exists around them, Samavayo bring all of this into the fold of the songs and continue to serve the best interests of the material first, whether it’s a quick turn from one part to another, a melodic impression in a quieter moment like that in the playfully rhythmic “Marionette,” or a more frenzied burst as in “Time to Die.” It can be a difficult balance for a band to strike between the one and the other. Samavayo make it sound as natural as any other form of expression by coming from a place as emotional as it is cognitive or critical.

They’ve just wrapped a tour heralding the release alongside Greenleaf — that run has been mentioned around here a few times, so pardon the redundancy — and no doubt other show plans will surface soon for next year. In the meantime, they’ve unveiled a video for “Sirens” that you can see below. I’ve tagged it as a premiere(-ish) hosting because as I understand it was revealed on a German site or two last week. Either way, I’m happy to showcase it here as well.

And, as always, I hope you enjoy:

Samavayo, “Sirens” official video premiere(-ish)

Sirens is the first official video of the upcoming (Nov 23rd 2018) album Vatan from the German heavy progressive stoner rock band Samavayo.

Samavayo on Thee Facebooks

Samavayo website

Samavayo on YouTube

Samavayo on Twitter

Noisolution webstore

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Samavayo Premiere “Prevarication Nation”; Vatan out Nov. 23

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

samavayo

The title of Samavayo‘s new LP, Vatan — out Nov. 23 as their first outing for Noisolution — translates from Persian to ‘homeland,’ and that is indicative very much of the some of the lyrical thematic from which the full-length works. More even than the Berlin-based trio’s 2016 LP, Dakota (review here), it is an album of unabashed sociopolitical perspective, and that is perhaps most summarized in the lyrics for the leadoff single premiering below, which is titled “Prevarication Nation.” Once you listen, there is little mystery whom and what it is about. Names aren’t named, but they’re not exactly shooting for subtlety.

Its sound is also something of a forward step for Samavayo, as well perhaps as a sideways one in terms of style. With a more progressive-metal bent than Dakota or their prior work, “Prevarication Nation” would not necessarily seem to speak for the entire collection in terms of aesthetic — not saying I got to hear early versions of the recordings as they were in progress or anything, but, well… — but it’s a standout in presence either way, marked by a distinct Tool influence that frontman/guitarist Behrang Alavi stands up to in his vocal approach as well. As to what the rest of Vatan might hold, November isn’t that far off — did you know it’s October? was news to me — and I have a decent feeling they’ll leak out more audio before the album actually arrives.

Until then, I’m of course thrilled to host the premiere of “Prevarication Nation” as well as the unveiling of the album art. Samavayo will mark the coming of the new release by touring with Sweden’s Greenleaf immediately prior, though as they note, they’ll have copies with them on the road for the merch table. I know I always like getting a record early.

Announcement comes from the label. Have at it:

samavayo vatan

“Prevarication Nation” is the first Track of the new SAMAVAYO album “Vatan” (nov.23rd 2018) and “Vatan” the first SAMAVAYO release on Noisolution. Be the first to buy it in our shop in November:
www.noisolution.de/shop

2018’s “Vatan” marks a new chapter and opens a new door for longtime SAMAVAYO fans and new admirers alike. Contemporary, fresh and progressive – but never missing that crunching heaviness they’re so well known for. At the same time lyrically deeper and more political than before. Beware, this band has got something to say – and it’s gonna get loud!

“Vatan” is a courageous next step: Heavy Stonerrock drawing influences from Progressive- and Alternative-Rock as well as Metal, all packed into more complex songs and structures than ever before. One of its highlights certainly being the title song with its Persian lyrics derived from a poem by Iranian author Simin Behbahani dealing with the concept of “home” and “homeland”, all topped off with a distinct oriental sound. The first single “Prevarication Nation” shows a different side of the band: the track is a complex ProgMetal-monster – psychedelic, heavy and tricky to the detail. “Sirens” on the other hand shows just as much of that progressive influence, weaving almost tribal-sounding rhythms into the mix while successfully paying tribute to the Godfather of Metal and Prince of Darkness – without sounding like yet another Sabbath-clone.

SAMAVAYO reinvented themselves without sacrificing their strengths. Lyrically deeper and more profound, touching very present political matters. Not only “Children Of Kobane” gives us a glimpse of the band’s as well as frontman Behrang Alavi’s political interest and dedication. An exciting new chapter for this institution of a band – and no doubt another proof why SAMAVAYO well deserves being called one of the cornerstones in their genre.

Samavayo live with Greenleaf:
09.11.18 FRI DE Berlin Musik & Frieden
10.11.18 SAT DE Stuttgart Keller Klub
11.11.18 SUN A Wien Viper Room Vienna
12.11.18 MON DE München Feierwerk
13.11.18 TUE CH Olten Coq d’Or
14.11.18 WED DE Cologne Helios37
15.11.18 THU UK London The Underworld Camden
16.11.18 FRI FRA Paris GLAZART (early show)
17.11.18 SAT DE TBA

https://www.facebook.com/samavayo/
https://www.samavayo.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/samavayo
https://twitter.com/samavayo
www.noisolution.de/shop

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Elav Stoner Open Air 2018: Mars Red Sky, Samavayo, Belzebong, Papir and More Set to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Holy shit this looks like a good time. Don’t get me wrong, I post about a lot of festivals all over the place and often say the same, but if you’ve got two minutes and 45 seconds — and if you make it to the end of this run-on-ass sentence, let’s face it, you do — go ahead and check out the recap video at the bottom of this post of last year’s Elav Stoner Open Air in Bergamo, Italy. I know it’s edited together to look cool and I know rocking out in slow motion is universally awesome and blah blah blah, but even so, look at that space. Look at the vibe. Look how relaxed everything seems, everybody just having a good time, downing some beers and watching killer bands play. What the hell is life about if not that very thing?

That was the first edition of the festival, and it’s grown significantly since. Elav Stoner Open Air 2018 features Bergamo’s own beer aficionados Humulus in a returning role, and alongside them are the likes of Mars Red Sky, Samavayo, Sonic Wolves, Papir playing a special jam set and a regular set, Belzebong, Weedpecker, Da Captain Trips and more. Just absolutely killer. I don’t want to say “job well done” before it happens and jinx anything, but seriously, this looks like an incredible time. It’s free to get in if you can get there, and it’s three nights of killer shows back to back to back. I’m sorry I won’t get to see it, but I’ll look forward to the video after the fact.

Lineup info and links follow here, as seen on the social medias:

ELAV STONER OPEN AIR FESTIVAL 2018

13-14-15 September 2018

@ Birrificio Indipendente Elav (Comun nuovo – Bergamo, Italy)

\\\\ FREE ENTRY ////

LINE UP:

Gio 13 ::: Da Captain Trips + Sonic Wolves + Samavayo
Ven 14 ::: RAIKINAS + Papir (jam set) + Humulus + Mars Red Sky
Sab 15 ::: The Black Lodge + Dead Man’s Blues Fuckers + Weedpecker + Papir + BelzebonG

https://www.facebook.com/Elav-Stoner-Open-Air-1558381127592263/
https://www.facebook.com/events/390670014767206/
https://www.elavbrewery.com/it/birre-elav

Elav Stoner Open Air 2017 recap

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Samavayo & Sons of Morpheus to Release The Fuzz Charger Split May 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Next time you’re looking at a pair of cartoon tits on an album cover with a cowskull instead of a woman’s face or some shit, remember the artwork for Samavayo and Sons of MorpheusThe Fuzz Charger Split, because that is how a stoner rock album cover is fucking done. I’m not saying every record needs to have a muscle car out front, but you want to speak directly to your audience? This does it better than all that pointless pseudo-ritualistic misogyny anyday. Looks like something straight out of 2002. Kudos to the bands and to Sixteentimes Music for putting it together.

Even better? The rest of the car is on back. I fucking love this genre.

Six tracks kicked off by the immediate momentum build of Samavayo‘s “Rollin'” and running through the dug-in desert fuzz and anchoring bassline of Sons of Morpheus‘ “Slave,” you don’t lose. You only win. Whole thing is 31 minutes well spent.

PR wire background follows, including the preorder link. You’ll want that:

samavayo sons of morpheus cover

Samavayo and Sons of Morpheus – The Fuzz Charger Split

Date: 18th of May 2018
Via: Digital and 12” Vinyl
Label: Sixteentimes Music
KatNo.: SIXT020

Preorder here: https://bit.ly/2ITQb2t

All three band members of Samayo grew up in East-Berlin, in the neighbourhoods Lichtenberg and Friedrichshain. As a 10 year old kid, singer Behrang Alavi fled as a political refugee from his home country of Iran to Berlin, Germany. The brothers Andreas and Stephan Voland grew up in the GDR (East-Germany) in East-Berlin.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city was open, letting in cultural influences from any foreign country.

The capital city became a multi-cultural melting pot where a singer from Teheran and two brothers from Berlin started making music. More than 500 live shows in Europe and overseas followed, including gigs in Brazil, Albania, Greece, Croatia and France. They also played at one of the most well-known European Stoner Rock festivals “Stoned from the Underground.”

Before Sons of Morpheus were able to tour across Europe (f.e. with Karma to Burn and Kamchatka) and playing shows in 17 countries including USA, a simple feeling gave birth to everything: The need to crank up an amplifier and doing some good-shit rock music. Fuck the world! And that’s exactly what made singer/guitarist Manuel Bissig start conquering stages in Switzerland by the name of “Rozbub” (Swiss-German for “brat”). Everything followed the call, it was loud, nasty and raw – and immediately everyone could see, hear and feel: This “brat” knows exactly what he’s doing.

No surprise that 2013 released debut “S’esch ziit” climbed the Swiss iTunes-charts right away. In no time Sons of Morpheus played shows in the rock-republic of California and recorded for two weeks in Tucson AZ with Producer Jim Waters. That thriving spring in 2014 gave birth to new material and as a result a debut-album simply called “Sons of Morpheus” was about to be released. The band’s call for the following year 2016 was clear: To go back to rehearsal, write new material and get it recorded. Listening to “Nemesis,” Sons of Morpheus appear gloomier yet explosive.

Tracklist:
A01 Rollin – Samavayo
A02 Chopper – Samavayo
A03 Justify – Samavayo
B01 Dark Shadows – Sons of Morpheus
B02 Money – Sons of Morpheus
B03 Slave – Sons of Morpheus

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofmorpheus/
https://www.sonsofmorpheus.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFgOFTihCGzzmoDo24e3TQA
https://twitter.com/SonsofMorpheus
https://www.facebook.com/samavayo/
https://www.samavayo.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/samavayo
https://twitter.com/samavayo

Samavayo, “Cross the Line” official video

Sons of Morpheus, “Monotone” official video

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Samavayo Announce Dakota Reissue; Premiere Bonus Track “Justify”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

samavayo

Germany-based heavy rockers Samavayo are getting ready to move forward from their 2016 album, Dakota (review here). That record, their fifth overall, has served as a high-water mark for the Berlin trio as they’ve continued to refine their approach within driving riffage and Middle Eastern-inflected stylistic flourish. They have a handful of dates left for this year and then they’ll settle in and begin the writing process anew. At the risk of giving you my actual opinion on the matter, I think Samavayo are underrated as songwriters and so the idea of another record and another step forward from them is exciting. They’ve only grown more progressive over time.

Before they get down to the nitty-gritty of constructing new material — which they’ll do with an eye toward a samavayo justifyFall 2018 release according to guitarist/vocalist Behrang Alavi, who’s joined in the band by bassist/vocalist/Moog-ist Andreas Voland and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Stephan VolandSamavayo will oversee a second pressing of Dakota, and it’s to mark this occasion today that you’ll find the premiere of the previously-unreleased cut “Justify” below. Recorded at Big Snuff Studio by Richard Behrens, its central riff a little bit speaks to the upbeat shove one finds from the likes of Red Fang, but even to this Samavayo can’t help but lend their own personality.

Full in tone and righteous in hook, “Justify” is one more example of the edge Samavayo bring to classic-style structures and the kind of rhythmic drive that will hopefully find its way into their new stuff as well. Alavi offered some background on the song which you can read under the track itself below, followed of course by the tour dates.

Please enjoy:

Behrang Alavi on “Justify”:

“Justify” was recorded in the same 11-day session as Dakota at Richard Behrens’ studio in Feb. 2016. We didn’t put the song on the album like our previously-released “To The Ground” because we wanted to have that as a clear, homogeneous heavy psych stoner album. We planned to release them later, but by then we didn’t have a plan how. Now we release the track with the second edition (500 pieces) of the Dakota CD after the first edition has sold out (only few few copies left).

As we did with the second edition of our first album death.march.melodies, we again changed a detail on the second edition to make it something special. In the case of d.m.m., we changed the artwork of the CD print. On Dakota, the artwork is unchanged but we added a bonus track at the end of the CD.

This month we also started writing songs for the next album planned for autumn 2018. We have a few shows left this year in Germany and Switzerland. If progress remains positive, we will record the album in spring 2018 while we play few shows. Next year we will be playing festivals where we are going to put some of the new songs into set list and then have the main tour with the new album in autumn. We are considering looking for a new label after many years releasing on our “home”-label, Setalight.

Samavayo live:
Oct 03 Forum, Bielefeld, Germany supporting Brant Bjork
Oct 12 Hirscheneck Basel, Switzerland
Oct 13 Böröm Pöm Pöm Oberentfelden, Switzerland
Oct 14 Jazzkeller Hofheim Am Taunus, Germany
Nov 18 Lindenpark Potsdam, Germany
Dec 01 Finsterwalde, Germany

“Justify” at Samavayo’s Bandcamp

Samavayo on Thee Facebooks

Samavayo website

Setalight Records website

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Samavayo Premiere “Cross the Line” Video; Tour and Festival Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

samavayo

Last spring, Berlin-based heavy rock three-piece Samavayo reinforced their willingness to cross genre lines with their fifth album, Dakota (review here). With a strong sense of drive behind their crunching tones, they brought together elements of noise rock, heavy riffing and flourish of Middle Eastern progressions that only further distinguished their material. Recorded by Richard Behrens (Heat, formerly Samsara Blues Experiment) and released through Setalight Records, it was angular in its purpose — that is, prone to sharp edges on a sonic level — but flowed smoothly throughout and brought the band to a place that emphasized the consideration put into their songwriting without coming across as navelgazing in its sound.

It rocked, in other words. I guess I’m trying to say it rocked.

The trio of guitarist/vocalist Behrang Alavi, bassist/vocalist Andreas Voland (also Moog) and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Stephan Voland haven’t been shy about getting out to support Dakota, and next month, they’ll hit the road on a tour through Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic ahead of showing up in the UK for a slot at Desertfest London 2017. Good gig to get, but it’s hardly their last. Summer festival season awaits in Europe, and July will find Samavayo back in action at the long-running Stoned from the Underground as well, and it seems likely more are to follow (also more precede, hello Hell over Esslingen).

At the same time, and perhaps to herald their departure, Samavayo have put together an artfully shot new video for the track “Cross the Line” from Dakota that is premiering today. You get to see the band playing as silhouettes and you get to see people with boxes on their heads — are they robots? — and other such fun whatnots, but of course the star is the song itself, which shows off where Samavayo are sound-wise and the penchant for working under a variety of influences that stands them out so much from their peers.

Please find it below, followed by their tour dates, and enjoy:

Samavayo, “Cross the Line” official video

Cross The Line is the first official video of the latest album Dakota from the German stoner rock band Samavayo. The song is currently also the first of their live set.
“The audience gets carried away by that song and its sound right at the beginning of our shows,” says singer and guitarist Behrang Alavi. “The song also has a message: We can’t cross the red line of humanity and decency, because there won’t be a way back from it. We need to find empathy and get rid of ruthlessness and greed.”

In cameraman and director Johannes Plank Samavayo found the perfect fit to visualize that message. He mobilized the antagonists of his upcoming movie “Eva Ost.” The “TV-Men,” whose heads are actual TVs, illustrate a society poisoned by consumption and ownership. In the video the tv screens show some cuttings that can be understood as political statements and therefore build up a new meta level. The message is: “Nobody can run from this change. Our brains are already poisoned.”

Credits:
Director / Camera / Editor / Production | Johannes Plank
Assistant Director | Florence Freitag
Gaffer | Yannick Spiess
Production Design | Mihan Torabi
Camera Assistant | Ranav Adhikari
Set Runner | Siddarth Thapa
Catering | Anne Berger
Drivers | Andreas Voland, Christian Schmalfuss
Musicians | Behrang Alavi, Stephan Voland, Andreas Voland
TV-Men (Berlin) | André Schröder, Ricardo Ziege, Richard Volkmer, Simon Höhne, Mustafa Bozbalak
TV-Men (Plauen) | Christian Dressel, Stephan Stumpf, Alexander Enskat, Rico Gemeinhardt

Many thanks to the venue “Zukunft am Ostkreuz.” MEKU Film © 2017

Samavayo “Cross the Line” tour:
Mar 16 Zentralcafé Nuremberg, GER *
Mar 17 Immerhin Wurzburg, GER *
Mar 18 Dirty+Dancing Osnabrück, GER *
Mar 24 Zukunft am Ostkreuz, Berlin, GER **
Mar 25 Spring Rocks! 2017, Wolfenbüttel, GER
Apr 03 AKK Karlsruhe, GER ***
Apr 04 L’Elastic Bar, Strasbourg, FR
Apr 05 Dr. Feelgood, Paris, FR ****
Apr 06 Café Faust, Stuttgart, GER ****
Apr 07 Gaswerk, Winterthur, CH ****
Apr 08 The Bruch Brothers, Luzern, CH ****
Apr 12 Alte Mälzerei, Regensburg, GER
Apr 14 Kramladen, Vienna, A ***
Apr 15 Kain Prague, CZ ***
Apr 16 Bajkazyl, Brno, CZ ***
Apr 28 Little Devil, Tilburg, NL
Apr 29 Desertfest 2017 London, UK
Apr 30 Hopla, Cologne, GER
May 11 Sabotage Dresden, GER
May 12 Hell over Esslingen, Esslingen Am Neckar, GER
Jul 13 Stoned from the Underground, Erfurt, GER
Jul 14 Steinbruchfestival 2017, Mühlheim, GER
* with Operators
** with Mother Engine
*** with Shotgun Valium
**** with Hellroom Projectors

Samavayo tour event page

Samavayo on Thee Facebooks

Samavayo on Bandcamp

Samavayo at Setalight Records

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