Quarterly Review: Earth, Heilung, Thronehammer, Smear, Deadbird, Grass, Prana Crafter, Vago Sagrado, Gin Lady, Oven

Posted in Reviews on July 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Deep breath. And… here we go.

Welcome to The Obelisk’s Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. You probably know the drill by now, but just in case, here’s what’s up: starting today and through next Monday, I’ll be reviewing 10 records per day for a total of 60. I’ve done this every three months (or so) for the better part of the last five years, each one with at least 50 releases included. Some are big bands, some are new bands, some are releases are new, some older. It’s a mix of styles and notoriety, and that’s exactly the intent. It’s a ton of stuff, but that’s also the intent, and the corresponding hope is that somewhere in all of it there’s something for everyone.

I’ll check in each day at the top with what usually turns out to be a “hot damn I’m exhausted, but this is worth it”-kind of update, but otherwise, if we’re all on board, let’s just get to it. First batch below, more to come.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Earth, Full Upon Her Burning Lips

earth

Finding post-Southern Lord refuge with Sargent House in similar fashion to Boris, Earth seem to act in direct response to 2014’s Primitive and Deadly (review here) with the 10-track/62-minute Full Upon Her Burning Lips, stripping their approach down to its two essential components: Dylan Carlson‘s guitar and Adrienne Davies‘ drums. The former adds bass as well, and the latter some off-kit percussion, but that’s about as far as they go in the extended meditation on their core modus — even the straightforward photo on the cover tells the story — psychedelic and brooding and still-spacious as the music is. Gone are folk strings or vocals, and so on, and instead, they foster immersion through not-quite minimalist nod and roll, Carlson‘s guitar soundscaping atop Davies‘ slow, steady pulse. It’s not nearly so novel as the last time out, but timed to the 30th anniversary of the band, it’s a reminder that if you like Earth, this dynamic is ultimately why.

Earth on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

Heilung, Futha

heilung futha

It might seem like an incongruity that something so based in traditionalism conceptually would also turn into experimentalist Viking jazz, but I defy you to hear “Galgadr,” the 10-minute opener of Heilung‘s third full-length, Futha (on Season of Mist), and call it something else. Cuts like the memorable and melodic “Norupo” and the would-be-techno-but-I-think-they’re-actually-just-beating-on-wood “Svanrand,” which, like “Vapnatak” before it, is rife with the sounds of battle, but it’s in the longer pieces, “Othan,” 14-minute closer “Hamrer Hippyer,” and even the eight-plus-minute “Elivgar” and “Elddansurin” that precede it, that Heilung‘s dramas really unfold. Led by the essential presence of vocalist Maria Franz — who could hardly be more suited to the stated theme of calling to feminine power — Heilung careen through folk and narrative and full cultural immersion across 73 minutes, and craft something willfully forward thinking from the history it embellishes.

Heilung on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Thronehammer, Usurper of the Oaken Throne

thronehammer usurper of the oaken throne

The reliable taste of Church Within Records strikes again in picking up Thronehammer‘s first full-length, Usurper of the Oaken Throne. The project is a dark and warmaking epic mega-doom working mostly in longform material — it’s six tracks/78 minutes, so yeah — conjured in collaboration by the trio of vocalist Kat Shevil Gillham (Lucifer’s Chalice, etc.), guitarist/keyboardist Stuart Bootsy West (ex-Obelyskkh, ex-The Walruz) and drummer/bassist Tim Schmidt (Seamount), that hits with a massive impact from 17-minute opener “Behind the Wall of Frost” into “Conquered and Erased” (11:24) and “Warhorn” (19:12), making for an opening salvo that’s a full-length unto itself and a beast of doomed grandeur that balances extremity with clearheaded presentation. They simplify the proceedings a bit for “Svarte Skyer” and the eponymous “Thronehammmer,” but are clearly in their element for the 15-minute closing title-track, which rounds out one of the best doom debuts I’ve heard so far this year with due heft and ceremony.

Thronehammer on Thee Facebooks

Church Within Records on Bandcamp

 

Smear, A Band Called Shmear

Smear A Band Called Shmear

Smear‘s live-recorded A Band Called Shmear EP is basically the equivalent of that dude getting dragged out of the outdoor concert for being at the bottom of the puffing clouds of smoke going, “Come on man, I’m not hurting anybody!” And by that I mean it’s awesome. The Eugene, Oregon, four-piece get down on some psychedelic reefer madness tapped into weirdo anti-genre tendencies that come to fruition in the verses of “Guns of Brixton” after the drifting freaker “Old Town.” The whole thing runs an extra-manageable 21 minutes, and six of that are dedicated to the fuzzed jam “Zombie” — tinged in its early going with a reggae groove — so Smear make it easy to follow their outward path, whether it’s the surf-with-no-water “Weigh” at the outset or “Quicksand,” which hints at more complex melodic tendencies almost in spite of itself. You like vibe, right? These cats have plenty to go around, and they deliver it with an absolute lack of pretense. Whatever they do next, I hope they also record it live, because it clearly works.

Smear on Thee Facebooks

Smear on Bandcamp

 

Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree

deadbird iii the forest within the tree

One hesitates to speculate on the future of a band who’ve just taken 10 years to put out an album, but Deadbird sound vital on their awaited third full-length: III: The Forest Within the Tree (arrived late 2018 through 20 Buck Spin), and with a revamped lineup that includes Rwake vocalist Chris Terry and Rwake/The Obsessed bassist Reid Raley as well as bassist Jeff Morgan, guitarist Jay Minish and founders Phillip (drums) and Chuck (guitar) Schaaf and Alan Short — all of whom contribute vocals — Deadbird emerge from the ether with a stunningly cohesive and varied outing of post-sludge, tinged Southern in its humid tonality but still very much geared toward heft and, certainly more than I recall of their past work, melody. In just 38 minutes they push the listener into this dank world of their creation, and seem to find just as much release in experiments “11:34” and “Ending” as in the crashes of “Brought Low” or “Heyday.” Are they really back? Hell if I know, but these songs are enough to make me hope so.

Deadbird on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Grass, Fresh Grass

grass fresh grass

Brooklyn four-piece Grass released a live recording in 2017, but the late-2018 EP Fresh Grass marks their studio debut, and it comprises five tracks digging into the traditions of heavy rock with edges derived from the likes of Clutch, Orange Goblin, maybe a bit of Kyuss and modern bluesier practitioners as well in cuts like “Black Clouds” — the lone holdover from one release to the next — and the swaggering “Runaway,” which veers into vocal layering in its second half in a way that seems to portend things to come, while the centerpiece “Fire” and closer “Easy Rider” roll out in post=’70s fashion a kind of rawer modern take. Their sound is nascent, but there’s potential in their swing and the hook of opener “My Wall.” Fresh Grass is the band searching for their place within a heavy rock style. I hear nothing on it to make me think they won’t find it, and if they were opening the show, you’d probably want to show up early.

Grass on Thee Facebooks

Grass on Bandcamp

 

Prana Crafter, MindStreamBlessing

Prana Crafter MindStreamBlessing

Reissued on vinyl through Cardinal Fuzz with two bonus tracks, Prana Crafter‘s 2017 offering, MindStreamBlessing, originally saw release through Eidolon Records and finds the Washington-based solo artist Will Sol oozing through acid folk and psychedelic traditions, instrumentally constructing a shimmer that seems ready for the platter edition it’s been granted. Songs like “As the Weather Commands” and “Bardo Nectar” are experiments in their waves of meandering guitar, effects and keys, while “Mycellial Morphohum” adapts cosmic ecology to minimal spaciousness and vague spoken word. Some part of me misses vocals in the earthy “FingersFlowThroughOldSkolRiver,” but that might just also be the part of me that’s hearing Lamp of the Universe or Six Organs of Admittance influences. The interwoven layers of “Prajna Pines,” on the other hand, seem fine without; bluesy as the lead guitar line is, there’s no doubting the song’s expressive delivery, though one could easily say the same of the krautrock loops and keys and reverb-drenched solo of “Luminous Clouds.”

Prana Crafter on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Vago Sagrado, Vol. III

vago sagrado vol iii

Heavy post-rockers Vago Sagrado set a peaceful atmosphere with “K is Kool,” the opening track of their third album, Vol. III, that is hard to resist. They’ll soon enough pump in contrast via the foreboding low end of “La Pieza Oscura,” but the feeling of purposeful drift in the guitar remains resonant, even as the drums and vocals take on a kind of punkish feel. The mix is one that the Chilean three-piece seem to delight in, reveling in tonal adventurousness in the quiet/loud tradeoff of “Fire (In Your Head)” and the New Wave shuffle of “Sundown” before “Centinela” kicks off side B with the kind of groove that Queens of the Stone Age fans have been missing for the last 15 years. Things get far out in “Listen & Obey,” but Vago Sagrado never completely lose their sense of direction, and that only makes the proceedings more engaging as the hypnotic “One More Time with Feeling” leads into the nine-minute closer “Mekong,” wherein the wash teased all along comes to fruition.

Vago Sagrado on Thee Facebooks

Vago Sagrado on Bandcamp

 

Gin Lady, Tall Sun Crooked Moon

gin lady tall sun crooked moon

I’m more than happy to credit Sweden’s Gin Lady for the gorgeous ’70s country rock harmonies that emanate from their fourth album, Tall Sun Crooked Moon (on Kozmik Artifactz), from the mission-statement opener “Everyone is Love” onward, but I think it’s also worth highlighting that the 10-track outing also features the warmest snare drum sound I’ve heard maybe since the self-titled Kadavar LP. The Swedish four-piece have nailed their sound down to that level of detail, and as they touch on twang boogie in “Always Gold” or find bluesy Abbey Roadian deliverance in the more riff-led chorus of “Gentle Bird,” their aesthetic is palpable but does not trump the straight-ahead appeal of their songwriting. The closing duo of “The Rock We All Push” and the piano-soother “Tell it Like it Is” are the only two tracks to push past five minutes long, but by then the mood is well set and if they wanted to keep going, I have a hard time imagining they’d meet with complaints. Serenity abounds.

Gin Lady on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Oven, Couch Lock

oven couch lock

For an EP called Couch Lock — i.e., when you’re too stoned to even stand up — there’s an awful lot of movement on Oven‘s debut release, from the punk thrust of “Get It” to the arrogant sleaze of “Go James” and even the drums in “This Time.” And the nine-minute “Dark Matter” is basically space rock, so yeah, hardly locked to the couch there, but okay. The five-tracker is raw in its production as would seem to suit the Pennsylvania trio, but they still get their point across in terms of attitude, and a closing cover of Nebula‘s “To the Center” seems only to reinforce the notion. One imagines that any basement where they unleash that and the nod that culminates “Dark Matter” just before it would have to be professionally dehumidified afterward to get the dankness out, and an overarching sense of stoner shenanigans only adds to the good times that so much of East Coast-ish psych misses the point on. They’re having fun. You should too.

Oven on Bandcamp

Oven on Thee Facebooks

 

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Quarterly Review: Sumac, Cortez & Wasted Theory, Thunder Horse, The Howling Eye, Grime, URSA, Earthling Society, Bismarck, Grand Reunion, Pledge

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

As we land on what would otherwise be the end of a Quarterly Review — day 5, hitting the standard 50 records across the span of a week that this time we’re doubling with another 50 next week — it occurs to me not how much 100 albums is, but how much it isn’t. I mean, it’s a lot, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been sitting and writing about 10 records every day this week. I know how much that is. But it’s astounding to me just how much more there is. With the emails I get from people looking for reviews, discs sent in the mail, the messages on Facebook and everything else, I could do another 100, easy.

Well, maybe not ‘easy,’ but it would be full.

Is it a new golden age of heavy? 45 years from now are rockers going to look back and say, “Hell yeah, from like 2012-2019 was where it’s at,” all wistful like they do now for the ’70s? Will the Heavy ’10s be a retro style? I don’t know. But if it was going to happen, there would certainly be enough of an archive to fuel it. I do my best to cover as much as I can, but sometimes I feel like we barely crack the surface. With 100 records.

That said, time’s a-wasting.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sumac, Love in Shadow

sumac love in shadow

What are Sumac if not the most vital and highest profile atmospheric metal act out there today? With Aaron Turner (Isis, etc.) on guitar/vocals, Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) on drums, they qualify easily as a supergroup, and yet their third album, Love in Shadow (on Thrill Jockey), is still more about creative growth and the exploration of sound than anything else. Certainly more than ego — and if it was a self-indulgent exercise, it’d probably still be pretty good, frankly. As it stands, the four massive tracks through which Sumac follow-up 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) and their 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), refine the sound Sumac has developed over the past three years-plus into a sprawling and passion-driven sprawl that’s encompassing in scope, challenging in its noise quotient, and in utter refusal to not progress in its approach. And when Sumac move forward, as they do here, they seem to bring the entire aesthetic with them.

Sumac on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records on Bandcamp

 

Cortez & Wasted Theory, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Nine

cortez wasted theory second coming of heavy ch 9

Ripple Music‘s split series The Second Coming of Heavy hits its ninth chapter in bringing together Boston’s Cortez and Delaware’s Wasted Theory, and neither band fails to live up to the occasion. Cortez‘s range only seems to grow each time they hit the studio — vocalist Matt Harrington makes easy highlights of the opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Firmament” and the echo-laden “Close” — and Wasted Theory‘s “Ditchpig,” “Abominatrix,” “Baptized in Gasoline” and “Heresy Dealer” are so saturated with whiskey it might as well be coming out of their pores. It’s a decidedly North/South release, with Cortez rolling straightforward New England heavy rock through “Fog of Whores” and the Deep Purple cover “Stormbringer” while Wasted Theory dig with all good speed into a grit that’s more and more become their own with time, but there’s a shared penchant for hooks and groove between the two acts that draws them together, and whatever aspects they may or may not share are ultimately trumped by that. As Ripple starts to wind down the series, they continue to highlight some of the finest in heavy that the underground has to offer. One would expect no less.

Cortez on Thee Facebooks

Wasted Theory on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse

thunder horse thunder horse

There’s an unmistakable sense of presence throughout Thunder Horse‘s six-song/43-minute self-titled debut that undercuts the notion of it as being the San Antonio four-piece’s first album. With professionalism and a firm sense of what they want to be as a band, the Texans liberally sprinkle samples throughout their material and hone a professional sound built around massive riffs and even-more-massive lumbering grooves. Indeed, they’re not strangers to each other, as three-fourths of the group — guitarist/vocalists Stephen Bishop, guitarist/sampler T.C. Connally and drummer Jason West — double in the more industrial-minded Pitbull Daycare, whose debut LP came out in 1997. Completed by bassist/vocalist Dave Crow, Thunder Horse successfully cross the genre threshold and are well comfortable in longer cuts like “Liber ad Christ Milites Templi” and “This is the End,” both of which top nine minutes, and shorter pieces like the rocking “Demons Speak” and the shimmering finale “Pray for Rain.” With “Coming Home” and the sneering “Blood Ritual” at the outset, Thunder Horse pulls listener quickly toward dark atmospheres and flourishes amid the weighted tones therein.

Thunder Horse on Thee Facebooks

Thunder Horse on Bandcamp

 

The Howling Eye, Sonorous

the howling eye sonorous

Poland’s The Howling Eye make a lengthy long-player debut with Sonorous, but more important than the reach of their runtimes — closer “Weedblazer” tops 16 minutes, the earlier “Reflections” hits 12, etc. — the reach of the actual material. The common pattern has been that psychedelic jamming and doom are two distinct things, but The Howling Eye tap into a cosmic interpretation of rolling riffs and push it with an open spirit far into the ether of spontaneous creation. It’s a blend that a group would seem to need to be cautious to wield, lest the whole notion fall flat, but with the assurance of marked chemistry behind them, the Bydgoszcz-based trio of drummer/sometimes vocalist Hubert “Cebula” Lewandowski (also harmonica where applicable), guitarist Jan Chojnowski and bassist Mi?osz Wojciechowski boldly shift from the more structured beginnings of the funky “Kairos” and the aggro beginning “Stranded” into an outward push that’s ambient, psychedelic and naturalistic all at once, with room left over for more funk and even some rockabilly on “The Potion.” It is not a minor conglomeration, but it works.

The Howling Eye on Thee Facebooks

The Howling Eye on Bandcamp

 

Grime, What Have We Become

grime what have we become

Their roots in metal, North Dakota trio Grime — not to be confused with the Italian sludge outfit of the same name — unleash their first full-length in the form of What Have We Become, an ambitious 51-minute offering of progressive heavy rock marked by thoughtful lyrics and fluid songwriting made all the more so by the shared vocals of bassist Andrew Wickenheiser and guitarist Nick Jensen, who together with drummer Tim Gray (who would seem to have been replaced by Cale Mogard) effect a classic feel through “Alone in the Dark” while chugging and winding through the not-a-cover “Hand of Doom” with some harsher vocals peppered in for good measure. Seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Through the Eye” sets a broad tone that the rest of the record seems to build on, with the penultimate “Sunshine” delivering the title line ahead of the grittier closer “The Constant Grind,” which seems to payoff everything before it with a final explosion before a big rock finish. They’ll need to decide whether their sound will ultimately tighten up or loosen over time, but for now, what they’ve become is a band with a solid foundation to grow from.

Grime on Thee Facebooks

Grime on Bandcamp

 

URSA, Abyss Between the Stars

ursa abyss between the stars

Modern doom meets a swath of metallic influences on URSA‘s full-length debut, Abyss Between the Stars (on Blood Music), as members of Petaluma, California’s Cormorant take on such classic themes as wizards, dragons, yetis, witches, a spider king, mountains, and… actually, yeah, that covers the six included tracks on the 46-minute LP, which shifts gracefully between epic fantasy doom and darker, soemtimes more extreme fare. It’s easy enough to put URSA in the narrative of a band started — circa 2016 — around a central idea, rather than just dudes picking up instruments and seeing what happened next. Not just because bassist/vocalist Matt Solis, guitarist/keyboardist Nick Cohon and drummer Brennan Kunkel were already three-quarters of another band, but because of the purposefulness with which they approach their subject matter and the cohesion in all facets of their approach. They may be exploring new ground here, but they’re doing so on sure footing, and that comes not only from their experience playing together, but from knowing exactly where they want to be in terms of sound. I would not be surprised if that sound adopted more post-Candlemass grandeur with time — one can hear that burgeoning in “Serengeti Yeti” — but whatever direction they want to go, their debut will only help them on that path.

URSA on Thee Facebooks

Blood Music website

 

Earthling Society, MO – The Demon

earthling society mo the demon

Look, if you can’t get down with a bunch of freaks like Earthling Society tapping into the lysergic fabric of the cosmos to come up with an unsolicited soundtrack to a Hong Kong martial arts movie, I just don’t know what to tell you. Issued by Riot Season, the seven-track MO – The Demon is reportedly the end of the band’s technicolor daydream, and as they crash their plane into the side of “Mountains of Bliss” and hone space rock obliteration throughout “Super Holy Monk Defeats the Black Magic Mothafucker,” their particular experimentalist charm and go-anywhere-anytime sensibility demonstrates plainly exactly why it will be missed. There’s a sharp high-pitched tone at the start of opener “Theme from MO – The Demon” that’s actually pretty abrasive, but by the time they’re through the kosmiche laser assault in “Spring Snow” and the let’s-be-flower-children-until-it’s-time-to-freak-the-fuck-out throb of closer “Jetina Grove,” that is but a distant memory. So is consciousness. Fare thee well, Earthling Society. You were a band who only sought to make sense to yourselves, and for that, were all the more commendable.

Earthling Society on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records on Bandcamp

 

Bismarck, Urkraft

bismarck urkraft

Norwegian five-piece Bismarck bring spaciousness to doom riffing on their debut album, Urkraft, which is constructed of five molten tracks for a 34-minute totality that seems much broader than the time it takes to listen. Vocals are growls and shouts across a cosmic stretch of tone, giving a somewhat aggressive pulse to heavier psychedelic soundscaping, but a bouncing rhythm behind “A Golden Throne” assures the song is accessible one way or the other. The 10-minute “Vril-Ya” is naturally where they range the farthest, but the Bergen outfit even there seem to be playing by a set of aesthetic principles that includes maintaining a grounded groove no matter how spaced they might otherwise get. Rolling riffs bookend in opener “Harbinger” and closer “The Usher,” as “A Golden Throne,” playing-to-both-sides centerpiece “Iron Kingdom” and the subsequent “Vril-Ya” explore atmospheres that remain resonant despite the low end weight that seems to chug out beneath them. The mix by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer (who also co-engineered) doesn’t hurt in crafting their largesse, but something tells me Urkraft was going to sound big no matter what.

Bismarck on Thee Facebooks

Apollon Records website

 

Grand Reunion, In the Station

grand reunion in the station

In the Station doesn’t seem like anything too fancy at first. It’s produced cleanly, but not in any kind of overblown fashion, and Grand Reunion‘s songwriting is so solid that, especially the first time through their eight-track debut LP, it’s easy to say, “Okay, that’s another cool hook,” and not notice subtleties like when the organs turn to keyboard synth between opener “Eres Tan Serpiente” and second cut “Gordon Shumway,” or to miss the Latin percussion that Javier Tapia adds to Manuel Yañez‘s drumming, or the ways that guitarist Christian Spencer, keyboardist Pablo Saveedra, bassist Mario Rodríguez and Tapia work to complement guitarist Cristóbal Pacheco on vocals. But all of that is happening, and as they make their way toward and through the eight-minute fuzzer “Band Band the Headbang,” through the soaring “Weedow” and into the acoustic-led closer “It’s Alright,” the character and maturity in Grand Reunion‘s songwriting shows itself more and more, inviting multiple listens in the most natural fashion possible: by making you want to hear it again.

Grand Reunion on Thee Facebooks

Grand Reunion on Bandcamp

 

Pledge, Resilience

pledge resilience

16 minutes of scathing post-hardcore/sludge from Portuguese four-piece Pledge, who are in and out of their Resilience EP with a clean break and a windmill kick to the face. The newcomers lack nothing for ferocity, and with the throat-searing screams of Sofia M.L. out in front of the mix, violent intentions are unmistakable. “Profer Lumen Caecis,” “The Great Inbetweeness,” “Doom and Redemption” and “The Peter, the Wolf” nonetheless have groove built on varying degrees of extremity and angularity, with Vítor Vaz‘s bass maintaining a steady presence alongside the guitar of Hugo Martins and Filipe Romariz‘s drumming, frenetic as it sometimes is. I wouldn’t say things calm down in “The Peter, the Wolf” so much as the boiling seems to take place beneath the surface, waiting for a time to burst out, which it eventually does, but either way, for all its harsher aspects, Pledge‘s material isn’t at all void of engagement. It does, however, state the requirement right there on the front cover.

Pledge on Thee Facebooks

Pledge on Bandcamp

 

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Grand Reunion Release Debut Album In the Station

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

grand reunion

Chilean heavy rockers Grand Reunion embrace a variety of vibes across the span of their debut long-player, In the Station, which undercuts the fact that it’s self-recorded in their rehearsal space with a surprisingly professional-sounding production, but South American rhythms for sure play a role in cuts like “Gordon Shumway” while the subsequent title-track takes on a more psychedelic feel early before diving into garage-minded, organ-laced fare. They very obviously have a sense of what they want to do and the ability to bring that to the proceedings, but it’s the songwriting that most immediately makes an impression throughout. I’ve put the Bandcamp player at the bottom of this post in case you’d like to dig in. I think it’s worth the time and hope you agree.

PR wire info follows:

grand reunion in the station

GRAND REUNION – IN THE STATION (LP 2018):

Experience and friendship gives shape to “In the Station”, debut LP of 8 tracks on Spanish and English spoken to travel between the most distant situations, eras and feelings expressed, of these six musicians who meet in Grand Reunion, all of them with formation in different genres of rock but where they converge in a unique and broad sound, full of energy, to mystic background and very noisy and fuzzy rock ‘n roll.

Among a wide amalgam of influences; are the psychedelic landscapes, the spirit of the 60-70 classics and even the 80s, the body and weight of garage rock and above all, the Afro-Latin rhythms from South America that differentiate them, all incorporated into a contemporary sound.

Produced and recorded by the Grand Reunion in their rehearsal room “The Station”, this album is about all of that, the origin of their music and that special place of where it is given to birth; the rehearsal room. In this album, these 6 chilean musicians let their ideas and imaginations flow for over 3 years to finally give life to this full lenght, later mixed by Sebastian Venegas in Artisan Studio SCL, and mastered by Paul Logus (Anthrax, Clutch, Lionize, etc.) in PLX Studio NY.

So, very strange female characters, close encounters of the third kind, wild feelings and beliefs, ritual sacrifices, songs for pass-away friends and even a grass goddess anthems! All that and more in the stories that Grand Reunion has to tell you on this LP just launched and available on CD and Digital.

Grand Reunion’s new album ‘In The Station’ 2018 out now!
Order CD (Limited DLX) or Digital Album: http://www.GrandReunion.cl

Grand Reunion is:
Cristóbal Pacheco : Lead Vocals & Rhythm Guitars.
Christian Spencer : Lead Guitars & Some Vocals.
Pablo Saveedra : Keyboards & Back Vocals.
Manuel Yañez : Drums & Percussions.
Mario Rodríguez : Bass Guitars & Chorus Vocals.
Javier Tapia : Latin Percussions & Harmony Vocals.

https://www.facebook.com/GrandReunionLA
https://www.instagram.com/GrandReunionLA
https://goo.gl/FW8xku
http://www.GrandReunion.cl
https://grandreunion.bandcamp.com/

Grand Reunion, In the Station (2018)

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Review & Album Premiere: King Heavy, Guardian Demons

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king heavy guardian demons

[Click play above to stream King Heavy’s Guardian Demons in full. Album is out June 22 on Cruz Del Sur Music.]

From the first strains of opener ‘Guardian Demon,’ King Heavy make plain their intentions for their second album, Guardian Demons. The Cruz Del Sur-delivered six-tracker runs 43 minutes and follows the model of classic, traditionalist doom metal. More to the point, not just doom, but doom for doomers, by doomers, and of doomers. With bassist Daniel Pérez Saa, guitarist Matias Aguirre and drummer Miguel Canessa based in Chile and vocalist Luther Veldmark making his home in Belgium, they may not be a band who gets together every week for rehearsal in the practice space — or they may be, at least instrumentally — but they’re certainly schooled in the ways of the genre.

Candlemass are arguably the biggest single influence on cuts like “Guardian Demon” and “(Death is But an Extreme Form of) Narcosis,” which follows, but it’s not the only one. Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Reverend Bizarre and probably dozens of their acolytes all have a role to play in King Heavy‘s sound, which makes no attempt to hide or mask its base of inspiration. Still, it seems to be a Leif Edling-esque style of riffing that holds the day, given encouraging sweeps of double kick in the drums and lumbering marches alike. They never crawl, exactly, but there’s plenty of stomp throughout anyhow, and the communication from band to audience is clear and without pretense. They’re a doom band. That’s where their heart lies. They present their sound without pretense otherwise, and as such, feel particularly sincere in their sonic homage and will to carry forward the mission of their forebears.

So just how doomed is it? Quite doomed. Doomed enough that its third track, “Doom Shall Rise,” is written in apparent tribute to the festival in Germany that ran between 2003 and 2013 — which also happens to reportedly be where Veldmark and Saa first met in 2005 and they decided to form a band. Sadly, they’d never get to play there. That track contains references to Mirror of Deception, The Well of Souls — presumably the band, but it’s also a Candlemass song — Procession, Shepherd, etc., and if you ever needed a clear line of a group communicating on the same level as their listener, that’s it. It’s not only King Heavy sharing their own work, but sharing their love of the stylistic terrain in which it resides. After the opening provided by “Guardian Demon” and “(Death is But an Extreme Form of) Narcosis,” it’s as though the band finally comes out and says what they’ve been insinuating all along in terms of their passion for doom and their sense of belonging in and to it.

As ever for the genre, there’s a bit of an us-vs.-the-world sensibility to it, but that’s as traditional as the Veldmark‘s Chritus Linderson-esque vocal on “(Death is But an Extreme Form of) Narcosis,” switching between gruffer shouts and smoother, mournful crooning, even as the riff and rhythmic push signal a triumph in progress. Likewise, lines like “Doom shall rise, and rise again,” and “Tonight, doom shall rise,” make the point firmly and without question, and the band leave little to mystery as Veldmark moves into Cathedral-esque layering in the second half of that song, which rounds out side A with a burst of energy that only continues on the especially catchy “Cult of the Cloven Hoof,” which the shortest inclusion at 5:19, but which underscores the point of the tightness and self-awareness in the band’s approach. That is to say, even with just one record behind them in their 2015 self-titled debut (also on Cruz Del Sur), they present themselves as having a clear idea of the doom they want to make and the knowledge of just the right shifts in tempo, melody and groove to make it a reality.

king heavy

A grim reality at that. After tracking on separate continents last time around, King Heavy brought Veldmark to Chile to record his vocals this time around, and the difference would seem to be palpable in the chemistry of the band. One would expect an uptick there going from a debut to a sophomore effort no matter the circumstance, but their feeling more like a band rather than a project is evident in the cohesion here, and with the context of the studio circumstances in consideration, it makes sense as to why. “Cult of the Cloven Hoof” is a fitting example of their execution. It’s tight, grueling in its slower stretches, righteous in its quicker parts, and it unfolds a sound that’s as timeless as one could ask. It leads to the more unhinged, 10-minute-topping “Come My Disciples,” which one might expect to be an Electric Wizard reference, but goes elsewhere sonically essentially by not departing the place it already is, but slowing it down.

“Come My Disciples” feels more open than much of Guardian Demons, with a drawn out solo in its second half that’s glorious in its miseries, particularly with the rumbling low end beneath holding down the central riff. Dead-on doom. Their closer, “As in a Nightmare,” brings them back to ground with a shorter runtime, resumed trod and Veldmark‘s command of his voice. As they have all along, they offset slower and quicker stretches in “As in a Nightmare,” and do so with a sharpness of attack that leads them to the big rock finish that closes out, a wash of cymbals and guitar and bass noise fading into oblivion at the close.

Guardian Demons isn’t a record made for everybody, and King Heavy isn’t a band for everybody. Their doom is like a scratch test to see who will get it and who won’t, and for sure, some won’t. But more likely than not, they couldn’t care less, since the audience they’re speaking to is bound to embrace them all the more for the feeling of exclusion of the outside. True doom? One hesitates to believe in any kind of authenticity enough to call something “true,” but there’s no doubting the sincerity behind the murky havoc King Heavy wreak on their second album.

King Heavy on Thee Facebooks

King Heavy on Bandcamp

King Heavy at Cruz Del Sur webstore

Cruz Del Sur Music on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music on Bandcamp

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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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At Devil Dirt Release Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución on Vinyl

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Truth be told, I’m happy to get the below news about the vinyl release of At Devil Dirt‘s 2013 full-length, Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución (review here), if only because it gives me an excuse to break out the record and listen to it again. I dug the hell out of Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución when it was released initially on CD and download, and it seems to me that the big low-end tone of the Chilean guitar/drum two-piece is perfectly suited to a substantial platter like that on which Bilocation Records is serving it, so yeah, call it a good match and call me glad to dig into the Bandcamp stream again. Everybody wins.

Only 100 copies are available in clear/purple and 200 more in solid purple. You know the drill with limited vinyl. It goes. You might note the 13-minute track “40 Years Ago” and the Beatles cover “Across the Universe” are left off the LP tracklisting, no doubt for spacial concerns. Here’s the rundown courtesy of the PR wire:

AT DEVIL DIRT “Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución” officially out on vinyl

This dynamic duo (just vocals, guitar and drums) hails from Chile and delivers ultimate heaviness excellently combined with great melodies. Some call it Beatles doom, some call it a mixture of Kyuss and Pink Floyd, some say fans of bands like Torche will love their music … well, to get a real idea you’ll have no other choice than browsing their full album below and listen for yourself. And always remember this sounds even more awesome on high quality 180g vinyl!

VINYL FACTZ
– 100x clear with purple haze (EXCLUSIVE MAILORDER version)
– 200x solid purple
– all high-quality heavy 180g vinyl pressed in Germany
– matt laquered 300gsm gatefold cover
– handnumbered

TRACKS
A1. Don’t see you Around 5:31
A2. Conscience 4:16
A3. People Raise Again 4:32
A4. Mommy 4:54
A5. Sin Revolución no hay Evolución 3:20

B1. There’s not a God or a Devil 4:52
B2. The Caravan of Death 3:26
B3. The Marching Crowd 3:57
B4. I lost my Guide 5:40
B5. Time to flee 3:12
Total: 43:40

Available at: 180g Vinyl AT DEVIL DIRT

http://atdevildirt.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/atdevildirt
http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/

At Devil Dirt, Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Wolves in the Throne Room’s Celestite, Milligram, A Sad Bada, Phant, Damo Suzuki Meets Øresund Space Collective

Posted in Radio on June 6th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Running a pretty wide gamut this week, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. This week is a pretty good example of one where there’s way more added than just what’s listed here, so make sure you check the updates page to see the full list of everything that went on the server. Next thing I knew, I turned around and there was a ton of awesome stuff waiting to go up. Tough times.

It’s been a few weeks doing the adds this way and I’m digging it so far, so I’m going to keep it up, at least until I think of something else or it gets to be a pain or whatever. Thanks for reading and checking out the radio stream.

Adds for June 6, 2014:

Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestite

The much-awaited follow-up to 2011’s Celestial Lineage finds Washington US black metal forerunners Wolves in the Throne Room not quite ready to let go of that album yet. Celestite is intended as a complement to its predecessor, and as the first release on the band’s own Artemesia Records imprint, it comes as a particularly bold move for a band clearly looking to shirk expectation. Its five included tracks are cinematic, ambient set-pieces — instrumental works that, when played at the same time as Celestial Lineage, enhance the atmospheres of those already dense songs. Of course, cuts like the 11-minute opener “Turning Ever Towards the Sun” and the centerpiece “Bridge of Leaves” have value on their own as well, but there’s little denying that the apex of Celestial Lineage in “Prayer of Transformation” is pushed further by Celestite closer “Sleeping Golden Storm” and vice versa. Anyone expecting forest screams or raging blastbeats is in for a surprise, but those who approach with an open mind will be rewarded, which has always been the case with Wolves in the Throne Room‘s work. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Milligram, Live on Pipeline (WMBR)


A band with a reach that has lasted much longer than their actual six-year run, Milligram retain a presence in heavy rock consciousness despite having really only gotten together to open for Kyuss Lives! in 2011 since calling it quits in 2002, prior to Small Stone‘s issue of their This is Class War full-length. Accordingly, the version of “Not Okay” included on this collection of live recordings from the radio station WMBR sounds like a blueprint for some of the soulful heavy vibes Lo-Pan would conjure in their early going. Also included are covers of the Misfits (“We are 138”) and Black Flag (“Jealous Again”), so in addition to hearing Milligram — which in 2000 when Live on Pipeline was recorded was comprised of vocalist Jonah Jenkins (see also Raw Radar War), guitarist Darryl Shepard (see also Hackman, Black Pyramid, Blackwolfgoat, The Scimitar, etc.), bassist Bob Maloney and drummer Zephan Courtney — tear into some of their own material, there’s also a look at their punkier roots. Shepard has begun a series of digital releases of his bands with this, so look out for more. All are available for name-your-price download through his Bandcamp. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Damo Suzuki Møder Øresund Space Collective, Damo Suzuki Møder Øresund Space Collective

Captured live and largely improvised on Valentine’s Day 2013, the 3LP Damo Suzuki Møder Øresund Space Collective indeed proves a match meant to be. The Danish/Swedish space jammers and the krautrock legend — Damo Suzuki has released decades’ worth of solo output and collaborations, but is still best known for his contributions to Can — offer no single piece under 14 minutes long, so I guess as jams go, these worked out. The six inclusions are immediately exploratory, and while at just over two hours, the meeting of these expanded-mind entities can feel a bit like traveling through a wormhole where you snap back to consciousness on the other side and wonder how you got there, each piece also takes on a life and movement of its own, propelled by ceaselessly creative guitar work, engaging rhythmic nod and, naturally, a near-constant swirl of effects. Suzuki‘s voice echoes through “Dit Glimtende Øje” as though beamed in from another galaxy, and his first contact with Øresund Space Collective results in vibrant, cosmic jams that push through the psychedelosphere. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

A Sad Bada, White Rivers and Coldest Chains


Chilean four-piece A Sad Bada specialize in post-sludge that is lurching and atmospheric in kind. White Rivers and Coldest Chains is their first full-length, with it they offer five extended tracks of crushing density and grueling nod. They skirt the post-metal line — guitarists Gastón Cariola and Fernando Figueroa, who founded the band in 2008, keep a steady supply of airy echoes on hand throughout — but as a cut like the 11-minute “Hide and Grieve” shows, they’re never quite looking to get away from the sludgy churn of their slower-than-thou progressions, bassist Roberto Toledo and drummer Alejandro Ossandon expertly holding together the songs as Figueroa offers vicious, throaty growls over top. White Rivers and Coldest Chains (out on Australis Records) is intended as a slog, and it is one, but the soundscape that A Sad Bada enact over the course of the album has more appeal than just its tonal weight or extremity. There’s a darkness at its heart that comes from more than just the music itself, and that bleeds from the speakers with every oozing riff. On Thee Facebooks, Australis Records.

Phant, The Octophant Pt. II


Newcomer Swedish trio Phant return with their second self-released, digital-only EP in less than a year’s time, bringing their eight-armed elephant mascot deeper into a heavy-riff melee over two more extended tracks and an outro with The Octophant Pt. II. Like their predecessors on The Octophant Pt. I (review here), “Nativitas/Hakaisha” (13:53) and “Magna Cael” (9:31) blend cosmic doom and heavy rock tendencies, finding a cohesive balance of aggression and groove along the way, subtly adding effects amid echoing vocal interplay from bassist Jesper Sundström and guitarist Anton Berglind while drummer Elias Sundberg taps into reaches no less spacious via a constant-seeming wash of cymbals. Found sounds, samples and other sundry weirdness caps The Octophant Pt. II in “Outro Pt. II,” with tales of UFOs and government coverups. How long Phant might continue this series of EPs, I don’t know — they can at least get a trilogy out of it if they want; I’d take another 26 minutes of this no problem — but the heft the three-piece bring to bear across “Nativitas/Hakaisha” and “Magna Cael” also shows they’re more than ready to tackle their debut full-length, should they decide to go that route next. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Other adds to The Obelisk Radio this week include Novembers Doom, the four-way split between Naam, White Hills, Black Rainbows and The Flying Eyes, as well as Recitation, Sunwolf, Godflesh, Dylan Carlson of Earth‘s solo-project, Drcarlsonalbion. For the full list, check the updates page.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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At Devil Dirt Post Behind the Scenes Video for “Mommy”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 14th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

“Mommy” is one of several tracks on At Devil Dirt‘s Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución where, once you’ve heard it a few times, all you need to do is read the name of the song to have the chorus stuck in your head. In that regard, I’d file it with opener “Don’t See You Around,” their cover of The Beatles‘ “Across the Universe” and “There is Not a God or a Devil” among the highlights of the record, which balances personal-seeming descriptive lyrics against larger social themes on cuts like “40 Years Ago” and “People Raise Again.” They don’t get much more personal than “Mommy” and short of trotting out old family photos, the duo of guitarist/vocalist Néstor “Gato” Ayala and drummer Francisco “Hongo” Alvarado get about as deep as one might ask with a behind-the-scenes look at the recording process itself.

The clip, aside from being a well-edited look at At Devil Dirt constructing what I consider their best and most accomplished work to date, gives an engaging look at the intimacy of a duo in the recording studio. Early on, we see Ayala and Alvarado putting the track to tape. The mic is set up so that the two face each other, and though there are obviously more than one layer of vocals at work in the finished product of the song, to even have that basis of a live-tracked version makes a difference in terms of how it’s built. As lush as the album is at points, it maintains that natural feel, and if the video is an excuse to revisit the full-length, I’m glad enough to have one.

Bilocation Records will reportedly have a vinyl version of Plan B: Sin Revolución no hay Evolución out soon. More on that as I hear it, but in the meantime, enjoy:

At Devil Dirt, “Mommy” official video

At Devil Dirt on Thee Facebooks

At Devil Dirt on Bandcamp

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