Projeto Trator European Tour Starts Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Projeto Trator (photo by Murai)

…Aug. 22, to be exact, which, yes, is this week. The São Paulo sludge/heavy rockers go as ambassadors of Brazil’s fertile underground scene, and will make stops at festivals here and there along the way of their month-long stint on the European continent. That’s a pretty good run — a month — and with shows about to start, there are still some TBA dates in there, as well as off-days, so I’m thinking if you’re in Europe someplace along their path, you’ve probably got a fair chance of getting Projeto Trator to play wherever you’re at. House show? Back yard gig? It’s time to fill those slots, people. I’d figure toss them some cash for making the stop and, you know, give them food and a place to crash, and it’d probably turn out to be an awesome tour stop. As you can see below, they made their “Vermes” video from clips on tour last year in Argentina. Maybe you could be in the next video.

Either way, if you can help, help. Scene unity and all that.

Projeto Trator‘s latest EP is out now through Abraxas Records, and “Vermes” comes from it. They were writing new material this Spring, but I’ve yet to see word yet of a follow-up. Doesn’t it mean it won’t happen, just means I don’t know.

Alright, here are those dates:

Projeto_Trator_European_Tour_2019_Flyer

Projeto Trator – European Tour

Projeto Trator is a sludge/doom metal duo from São Paulo/Brazil. Formed in 2006, the band has released 10 works and toured extensively in Brazil and South America many times.

Finally: in August and September 2019 will be the first tour of the Projeto Trator in Europe. There will be more than 20 shows from 8 countries (Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland & Hungary). Half of the shows will be sharing the stage with the Umbilichaos (industrial-noise-one-woman-band), longtime partner of the Projeto Trator in shows and releases.

It will be an unmissable opportunity for anyone who can see live one of the best bands of “doomed” music in Brazil.

Projeto Trator live dates:
08.22 Kopi Berlin DE
08.23 Eldorado Hamburg DE
08.24 Gazarach Bratislava SK
08.27 TBA Ostrava CZ
08.28 Hospoda Brouk Prague CZ
08.29 Marie Antoinette Berlin DE
08.31 TBA Brussels BE
09.01 Mest Fest Hoegaarden BE
09.03 TBA Courtrai BE*
09.04 TBA Gent BE*
09.06 Acu Utrecht NL*
09.07 13 Times Fest Geel BE
09.10 TBA Amsterdam NL*
09.11 TBA Hoorn NL*
09.13 Potse Drugstore Fest Berlin DE
09.14 TBA Estetino PL
09.17 TBA Leipzig DE
09.18 TBA Halle DE
09.19 Basta! Gorlitz DE
09.20 Psych Umami Fest Vernerovice CZ
09.21 Sommafest ’19 Rietschen DE
09.22 TBA Vienna AT
09.23 Edison Bar & Ink Budapest HU
* with Umbilichaos

projetotrator.com
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bandcamp.com/projetotrator

Projeto Trator, “Vermes” official video

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Labirinto Premiere Divino Afflante Spiritu in Full; Out Tomorrow on Pelagic Records

Posted in audiObelisk on February 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

labrinto

This one happened pretty suddenly. Yesterday afternoon I got a note asking if I wanted to do a last-minute stream for Labirinto‘s third long-player, Divino Afflante Spiritu, which is out tomorrow on Pelagic Records. I took a couple minutes to skim through and knew quickly that, yes, it was the kind of thing I wanted to be involved in, but my usual I’m-gonna-play-the-record-a-bunch-of-times-before-I-write-about-it-thing? Yeah, not so much. Way more of a first impression here, and all the more because Divino Afflante Spiritu is my first exposure to the São Paulo-based mostly-instrumental six-piece. Their sound draws from modern progressive chug-ism and crunch tones blending with airy effects on a cut like “Eleh Ha Devarim” or the later and flowing “Asherdu,” but there’s a post-metallic bent there as well, as can be heard in the “Stones from the Sky”-moment transfigured into second track “Penitência” and in some of the general atmosphere of urgency throughout, keyboards and three guitars intertwining for a sound that is full when it wants to be and spacious nonetheless, culminating its seven-track/35-minute run in the seven-minute title-track, which is marked by graceful surges of volume and a distinctive heavier post-rocking feel. It is an ambience of color, but on a dark background, and its depths of mix are significant, even as the weight of its low end does precious little to keep the guitars from soaring when they choose to.

labrinto divino afflante spirituEach side features some measure of vocals, whether that’s opener “Agnus Dei” with the ensuring screams of guest singer Elaine Campos (Abuso Sonoro and others) or the later ethereal interlude “Vigilia” that follows the centerpiece “Demiurge,” and though there’s a certain expectation set up by that appearance at the outset, the prevailing vibe lacks nothing for atmosphere as guitarists Kiko Bueno, Erick Cruxen and Luis Naressi (the latter also synth), percussionist Lucas Melo, drummer Muriel Curi and bassist Hristos Eleutério conjure an alternately crushing and expansive feel. It’s a complex outing that bridges earthbound and otherworldly elements, and very clearly feels no need to commit to one side or the other of that equation, if it sees a difference between them at all. Progressive in their construction, Labirinto‘s songs nonetheless flow together to convey a singular idea through diverse means. I’ll admit this is a first impression, but it’s a positive one.

And when it comes right down to it, I like sharing good music. If there’s a chance this is gonna make someone’s hard day better, then hell yes, I’m on board. I don’t usually do things so last-minute, but every now and again you need to be flexible.

I’ve included the full text of the PR wire info below, so you can have more background on the recording and the fascinating remote-production process by which Divino Afflante Spiritu came about.

That, of course, follows the full stream of the album, which you’ll find below. It’s out tomorrow on Pelagic.

Please enjoy:

Labirinto, Divino Afflante Spiritu full album premiere

São Paulo’s LABIRINTO are not the spearheads of a vivid local scene, but to stay within the realms of post-rock metaphory, more of an isolated island within a vast ocean of nothingness. There is not much contemporary instrumental heavy music anywhere in South America. There are hardly any record labels and international bands seldomly make it over on tour. All the more surprising that this island of LABIRINTO has been releasing records for 13 years already.

Divino Afflante Spiritu is already the band’s 10th release, but only the 3rd full-length album. The band’s back catalogue is made up of a number of EPs and splits (with THISQUIETARMY among others), a detail which showcases the band’s strong roots in the DIY scene. Guitarist Erick Cruxen and drummer Muriel Curi, a long-married couple, have learned how take control of every aspect of the band’s universe themselves: from running their own record label to booking their own tours to running their own recording studio, the internationally renowned Dissenso Studios in São Paulo.

The band flew in Billy Anderson for the prodcution of previous album „Gehenna“.This time, Cult Of Luna’s Magnus Lindberg was hired, but the entire production happened via the internet, exemplary for this time we live in, without Magnus ever setting foot on Brazilian soil. „Since the pre-production phase, Muriel kept in touch with Magnus“, Cruxen comments. „We talked a lot to him about our plans and ideas for the tracking sessions. He did an online support video session during the recording sessions, and we were aligning ideas for technical decisions. He was monitoring the whole recording process, basically. At the end, we sent him the audio files and he mixed and mastered the album at his own Redmount Studios in Stockholm.“

The result is an album of dense and menacing atmospherics, textural drones carefully layered over and blended into the heavy guitar riffs’s shimmering, beautiful distortion-scapes – and for the first time ever, vocals make their debut on a LABIRINTO album, on opening track „Agnus Dei“. „We invited Elaine Campos, she’s been singing in Brazilian punk and crust bands for over 20 years“, comments Curi. „It’s a huge pleasure for us to have such a veteran from the punk scene, a feminist and anarchist, guest on the track.“

It’s clear from the first synth drones inaugurating the opening track that doom lurks on the horizon, that „Divino Afflante Spiritu“ is not going to be a soundtrack to a tropical paradise – it’s a dark, cold record. „This album has a great emotional weight,” explains Cruxen. „It flourished during a very difficult phase in which we lost a very dear entity. It was a whirlwind of emotions that are materialized whenever we play the songs. This album, more than anything, represents for us loss and suffering, but also, passion and friendship.“

LINE UP: Hristos Eleutério – bass, Lucas Melo – percussion, Kiko Bueno – guitar, Luis Naressi – guitar, synths, Erick Cruxen – guitar, Muriel Curi – drums

TRACK LISTING:
01. Agnus Dei
02. Penitência
03. Eleh Ha Devarim
04. Demiurge
05. Vigília
06. Asherdu
07. Divino Afflante Spiritu

Labirinto on Thee Facebooks

Labirinto on Instagram

Labirinto website

Pelagic Records on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records website

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Basalt to Release O Coração Escuro da Terra on Ritual Productions

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Brazilian atmospheric semi-blackened sludgers Basalt issued their debut album, O Coração Escuro da Terra, last year, and with it made short work of the lines between several genres. United by a thread of willful aggression, the songs nonetheless maintained a dark ambience, as one could hear in the track “Aurora,” the video for which premiered here. Likely that balance between assault and depth of approach is at least part of what caught the ear of Ritual Productions, which has expanded its geographic reach — you might recall they signed Australia’s Drug Cult — once again by picking up the South American five-piece in order to release O Coração Escuro da Terra on the label in early 2019. It’s an interesting pickup, particularly for the more assaulting aspects of Basalt‘s sound, which are something of a departure for the label, who are no strangers to heavy murk, what with releases from Bong, the aforementioned Drug CultRamesses11Paranoias, and so on.

More to be posted from the label in the next day or so too, as I just got another press release that they snagged Italy’s Nibiru. Like the guitar tone before it, the plot thickens.

From the PR wire:

basalt (Photo Leandro Furini)

RITUAL PRODUCTIONS HAIL BASALT; RITE INCOMING 2019

Ritual Productions proudly announces the signing of Basalt, who enter the studio this October to record their first rite for the label!

Formed in 2015, in the riff metropolis of São Paulo, Brazil, Basalt unify elements of doom, black metal and dark experimental tones, subverting musical archetypes and creating new extreme audio terrains. Harkening to the dense low-end, cavernous and intense depths of the heavy sonic, Basalt fuse this fury with extraordinary ambient and atmospheric scope, incorporating a unique channelling of influences and sounds. Melding rawness and discordance with progressive and expansive breadth, Basalt truly wield aural transgression and transformation.

The quintet is formed of current and previous members of bands including Surra, Constrito, O Cúmplice, Meant to Suffer, Bomb Threat and Magzilla. Basalt’s debut album, O Coração Negro da Terra (‘Black Heart of the Earth’) had a small domestic DIY CD pressing in 2017, which Ritual Productions will be re-releasing in 2019. You can check out Basalt’s dark sonic abyss by watching the official video for the track ‘Aurora’ – taken from the aforementioned debut – below.

The band has been no stranger to live rituals in their home country. Shortly after their formation, Basalt played the TEST stage at Virada Cultural 2016 – São Paulo’s biggest music event. Alongside gigs across Brazil, Basalt performed on the closing night at this year’s renowned Centro do Rock Festival which showcases the finest talent amongst Brazilian arts. October 2018 will see the band supporting the mighty Eyehategod in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Basalt’s first rite for Ritual Productions will be released in 2019 with more details to follow shortly. Stay tuned for updates!

BASALT ARE:
Marcelo Fonseca – Vocals
Pedro Alves – Guitar/Vocals
Luiz Mazetto – Guitar
Leonardo Saldiva – Bass/Vocals
Victor Miranda – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/basalt666/
https://www.instagram.com/basalt.basalt/
https://basalt666.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.ritualproductions.net
https://ritualproductions.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/ritualproductionsuk
www.twitter.com/ritualmusic
www.instagram.com/ritualproductions

Basalt, “Aurora” official video

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Abraxas Fest Set for Oct. 13 & 14 in Brazil; Eyehategod, Samsara Blues Experiment and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

A heartfelt happy fifth anniversary to Abraxas Events in Brazil. For the last half-decade, brothers Felipe and Rodrigo Toscano have worked diligently and passionately to both bring outside heavy to Brazil and to foster their national scene, making an impact almost immediately with their first tour having been Mars Red Sky, who’d wind up recording their second album while they were in the country. That kind of work has only continued since then, and from bands like Radio Moscow to Neurosis, to the founding of Abraxas Records as a natural extension of their booking arm, the company keeps growing while remaining true to its core principles.

Five years will be marked with a two-night Abraxas Fest in São Paulo and Rio de Janiero. Both nights are headlined by Eyehategod and Samsara Blues Experiment, showcasing the reach to established US and European acts, while support will be from Noala and ITD (aka Into the Dust) the first night and Pantanum and Jupiterian the second, highlighting the domestic underground of Brazil.

Seems like a killer time either way, and many more to Abraxas, in terms of both years and festivals:

abraxas fest 2018 poster

ABRAXAS FEST – Eyehategod & Samsara Blues Experiment

In October we will celebrate our 5TH ANNIVERSARY. We have prepared a special celebration and we have already called our audience for this great party! We will have the legendary North American band eyehategod for the first time in Brazil, and also the German power trio samsara blues experiment, plus two local opening bands in each of the shows (Noala and itd, day 13/10 in São Paulo and jupiterian And pantanum day 14/10 in Rio de Janeiro!

See you soon!

Art: Victor Bezerra

Abraxas was founded in September 2013 by the brothers Felipe and Rodrigo Toscano, debuting with the tour of the French band Mars Red Sky. Focusing on an audience whose taste transits between rock and roll and classical psychedelia from the 60s and 70s and more modern strands like Stoner, Doom and Sludge, but still without an identity or even a scene established in Brazil, Abraxas quickly became a benchmark in the national circuit by successfully promoting not only the circulation of foreign bands throughout the country, but also a constant and growing movement of local bands themselves.

Tickets: https://www.sympla.com.br/abraxas-fest-2018—5-anos—rio-de-janeiro__279932

https://www.facebook.com/events/428628674243793/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1925147550842727/

https://www.facebook.com/abraxasevents/
https://www.instagram.com/abraxasfm/
https://www.abraxas.fm/

Eyehategod, Live in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 22, 2018

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Jupiterian Premiere “Us and Them”; Terraforming out Nov. 15

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

jupiterian

Brazilian sludge extremists Jupiterian will issue their second album, Terraforming, Nov. 15 via Transcending Obscurity Records. The be-hooded São Paulo four-piece debuted in 2015 with Aphotic (review here) on Caligari Records, and the six-track/39-minute follow-up works with a likewise sense of bleak extremity, derived in part from black metal, traditional depressive doom and an overarching sense of murk. Atmosphere is central to the approach on pieces like “Unearthly Glow” and the creepily spacious but short title-track, on which Maurice de Jong of Gnaw Their Tongues, who also mixed, makes a vocal guest appearance, but as engrossingly dark as they are, even cuts like opener “Matriarch” and the penultimate chug-and-blaster “Us and Them” have a rich depth and ambient mentality behind them.

That balance of sheer aural cruelty and breadth becomes the crux of Terraforming, and whether it’s the nods to tribalism/ritualism that emerge suitably enough at the outset of “Matriarch” and “Forefathers” or the more immediate nod of closer “Sol,” which insteadJupiterian terraforming caps with a spread of atmospheric guitar, Jupiterian never seem to be too distant from playing between one side and the other. This not only enriches the overarching stylistic character of the tracks, but it makes the more “extreme” parts come across with even more impact regardless of tempo, since they so clearly emerge from a place of progressive thoughtfulness of craft and arrangement, rather than a band simply putting forth something geared toward brutality for its own sake. Nothing against that approach necessarily when it works, but Jupiterian have a more complex goal with Terraforming as they did with Aphotic, and the meld present in their sound is what allows them to accomplish it as completely as they do.

In addition to the first album, Terraforming was preceded by a number of short releases, one of them a 2017 EP titled URN that featured only two tracks — a cover of Black Sabbath (“Behind the Wall of Sleep”) and a cover of early Anathema (“Mine is Yours to Drown In [Ours Is the New Tribe]”), and in a way, that divide between the two would seem to give some decent clue of the influences Jupiterian are contorting to their own purposes with Terraforming, but the clear emphasis should be on just how much work the initials-only lineup of guitarist/vocalist/synthesist/percussionist V, guitarist A, bassist R and drummer G have put into individualizing these varied impulses and making them their own. Be it the roaring of “Unearthly Glow” or the final build and release within “Us and Them,” the album offers moment after moment of payoff for that effort.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting the official premiere of “Us and Them” ahead of the album’s Nov. 15 release. You can find it on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Jupiterian, “Us and Them” official track premiere

From Brazil, underground masked entity JUPITERIAN reemerge with their unique brand of atmospheric sludge/doom metal. Haunting both musically and aesthetically, JUPITERIAN delve into subtler, more visceral sounds while retaining their crushing style. Like the dichotomy in their country, their music too encompasses the stark contrast between the intense and atmospheric bits, sometimes transmuting into a dark ambient form aided by Maurice de Jong of GNAW THEIR TONGUES. ‘Terraforming’ is the much awaited full length that will see the light of day on multiple formats through Indian label Transcending Obscurity Records late this year. The die has been cast.

Band lineup –
G – Drums
R – Bass
V – Voices, Guitars, Percussions, Synths
A – Guitars

Recorded at Duna Studios
Mixed by Maurice de Jong (GNAW THEIR TONGUES)
Mastered by Stephen Lockhart (SVARTIDAUDI, TCHORNOBOG, ZHRINE)

Jupiterian on Thee Facebooks

Jupiterian on Bandcamp

Transcending Obscurity Records on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Obscurity Records on Bandcamp

Transcending Obscurity Records website

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Quarterly Review: Harvestman, Beastmaker, Endless Boogie, Troubled Horse, Come to Grief, Holy Rivals, Mountain God, Dr. Space, Dirty Grave, Summoned by Giants

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

Bonus round! I don’t know if you’re stoked on having a sixth Quarterly Review day, but I sure am. Basically this is me doing myself favors. In terms of what’s being covered and how I’m covering it, today might be the high point for me personally of the entire Summer 2017 Quarterly Review. Some of this stuff I’m more behind on than others, but it’s all releases that I’ve wanted desperately to write about that I haven’t been able to make happen so far and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be able to do so at last. It’s a load off my mind in the best way possible, and as this is the final day of the Quarterly Review, before I dig in I’ll just say one more time thank you for reading and I hope you found something in the past week that really speaks to you, because that’s what makes it all worthwhile in the first place. One more go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Harvestman, Music for Megaliths

harvestman-music-for-megaliths

A new Harvestman album, like a harvest itself, is an occasion. Distinct entirely from the solo output released by Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till under his own name, Harvestman’s guitar-led experimentalism and ritualized psychedelia don’t happen every day – the last album was 2009’s In a Dark Tongue (review here) – and with the resonance of “Oak Drone” and the layered, drummed and vocalized textures of “Levitation,” the new collection, Music for Megaliths (on Neurot, of course), lives up to the project’s high standards of the unexpected. Pulsations beneath opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Forest is Our Temple” offer some initial threat, but the electronic beat behind the howling notes of “Ring of Sentinels” and the Vangelis-esque centerpiece “Cromlech” find more soothing ground, and though “Sundown” seems to be speaking to Neurosis “Bleeding the Pigs” from 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) in its atmosphere, the spoken word that tops closer “White Horse” provides a last-minute human connection before all is brought to a quick fadeout. If you told me Music for Megaliths was assembled over a period of years, I’d believe you given its breadth, but whether it was or not, Harvestman’s latest should provide a worthy feast for a long time to come.

Harvestman on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings webstore

 

Beastmaker, Inside the Skull

beastmaker-inside-the-skull

Los Angeles three-piece Beastmaker continue their ascent with their second album for Rise Above Records, the unflinchingly cohesive Inside the Skull. Like its predecessor, 2016’s Lusus Naturae (review here), the quick-turnaround sophomore outing executes a modern garage doom aesthetic and unfuckwithably tight songwriting, this time bringing 10 new tracks that reimagine classic vibes – witness the Witchcraft “No Angel or Demon”-style riff of opener “Evil One” (video posted here) – and touch on some of the same ground pioneered by Uncle Acid without actually sounding like that UK band or sounding like anyone for that matter so much as themselves. They make darkened highlights of “Now Howls the Beast,” “Of Gods Creation,” the crashing “Psychic Visions,” closer “Sick Sick Demon” and the preceding “Night Bird,” which offers some welcome departure into drift prior to the solo in its final minute – all impeccably crisp in structure despite a dirt-caked production – but resonant, memorable hooks abound, and the trio affirm the potential their debut showed and offer a quick step forward that one can only imagine will find them turning more heads toward their growing cult following. They’re still growing, but Inside the Skull is confirmation Beastmaker on a path to becoming something really special.

Beastmaker on Thee Facebooks

Beastmaker at Rise Above Records

 

Endless Boogie, Vibe Killer

endless-boogie-vibe-killer

One can’t help but think there’s a bit of tongue-in-cheekery at play in the inaccuracy of Endless Boogie titling their latest album Vibe Killer. The seven-track/51-minute No Quarter release follows 2013’s Long Island (review here) and is, of course, doing everything but killing the vibe, as the New York-based outfit proffer their nestled-in raw songs crafted out of and on top of improvised jams, the semi-spoken gutturalisms of guitarist Paul “Top Dollar” Major a defining element from the laid back opening title-track onward. Moody rock classicism persists through “High Drag, Hard Doin’” and the more active “Back in ’74,” but the true peak of Vibe Killer comes in the 11-minute “Jefferson Country,” which unfolds hypnotic drone experimentation that’s as willfully ungraceful as it winds up being flowing. Bottom line: dudes know what’s up. Endless Boogie’s languid roll is second to nobody and Vibe Killer is a vision of cool jazz reinvented to feel as much at home in rock clubs of the basement and of the chic see-and-be-seen variety. Very New York, in that, but not at all given to elitism. Everyone’s invited to dig, and dig they should.

Endless Boogie on Thee Facebooks

No Quarter Records webstore

 

Troubled Horse, Revolution on Repeat

troubled-horse-revolution-on-repeat

There were a few minutes there where one probably wouldn’t have been wrong to wonder if Örebro, Sweden’s Troubled Horse would have a follow-up at all to back 2012’s Step Inside (review here), but with Revolution on Repeat (out via Rise Above), the four-piece led by dynamic vocalist Martin Heppich prove among the most vital of the many heavy rock acts to emerge from their hometown, known for the likes of Witchcraft, Graveyard, Truckfighters and countless others. Heppich, lead guitarist Mikael Linder (also bass on the recording), guitarist Tom and drummer Jonas start with the boogie-fied opening salvo “Hurricane” (video premiere here) and “The Filthy Ones,” and run madcap through the memorable hooks of “Which Way to the Mob” and “Peasants” en route to the mid-paced “The Haunted” and into a second half marked by the semi-balladry of “Desperation” and “My Shit’s Fucked Up.” Soon, the standout chorus of “Track 7” (yup, that’s the title) and the penultimate funk of “Let Bastards Know” lead to a nine-minute epic finish in “Bleeding” – and all the while Troubled Horse hold firm to groove, momentum, poise, crisp production and songwriting as they tie varied landmarks together with an overarching sense of motion, Heppich’s charismatic soulfulness and deceptively subtle flourishes of arrangement to make an absolutely welcome return.

Troubled Horse on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Come to Grief, The Worst of Times

come-to-grief-the-worst-of-times

Sometimes you just have to toss up your hands and say, “Well, that’s some of the nastiest shit I’ve ever heard.” To step back and consider them at some distance, Come to Grief aren’t near the most abrasive band on the planet, but when you’re actually listening to their debut EP, The Worst of Times, that’s much harder to believe. Launching with “Killed by Life,” the four-tracker finds the Boston outfit led by former Grief guitarist Terry Savastano – here joined by drummer Chuck Conlon, bassist Justin Christian and vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Hebert – plodding out scream-topped filth that’s actually fuller-sounding than anything Grief did back in their day and all the more devastating for its thickness. The seven-minute “No Savior” is excruciating, and though shorter, “Futility of Humanity” and even the slightly-faster closer “Junklove” bring no letup whatsoever from the onslaught. Think accessible, then go the complete other way, then bludgeon yourself. It’s kind of like that. Absolute brutality delivered by expert and unkind hands.

Come to Grief on Thee Facebooks

Come to Grief on Bandcamp

 

Holy Rivals, Holy Rivals

holy rivals holy rivals

The question of whether noise rock and sludge can coexist is largely one of tempo and tone, and recently-signed-to-BlackseedRecords Pittsburgh trio Holy Rivals’ self-titled debut answers in forceful fashion. Amid more aggro punch of opener “Locked Inn” comes the crust-laden grunge of “Voices,” and whether they’re rolling out the more spacious “Sleep” or sprinting through the post-Bleach raw punkery of “Dead Ender” on their way to the more ambient and patient seven-minute finale “Into Dust,” guitarist/vocalist Jason Orr (also T-Tops), bassist Aaron Orr (whose tone features well on the closer) and drummer Matt Langille – whose adaptability is essential to the Helmet-style starts and stops of “Loathe” that emerge from the preceding roll of “Sleep” – Holy Rivals put a superficial harshness to use as a cover for what’s actually a diverse songwriting process. They’ll reportedly have a new record out in Fall 2017, so this 2016 self-release may soon be in hindsight, but in setting the foundation for growth, it offers exciting prospects caked in an abidingly raw presentation.

Holy Rivals on Thee Facebooks

Holy Rivals on Bandcamp

 

Mountain God, Bread Solstice

mountain god bread solstice

Around what would seem to be the core duo of guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi and bassist/keyboardist Nikhil Kamineni, Brooklyn psychedelic post-sludgers Mountain God have undergone numerous lineup shifts en route to and through the release of their debut album, Bread Solstice (on Artificial Head Records). To wit, drummer/vocalist Ryan Smith (also Thera Roya), who appears on the dark, unrelenting and abyss-crafting 40-minute six-tracker, has already been replaced by Gabriel Cruz, and there have been other changes in vocalist, keyboardist and drummer positions even since they offered their 2015 EP, Forest of the Lost (review here) to set the stage for this deeply-atmospheric, it’s-acid-rock-but-with-sulfuric-acid first long-player. In light of that tumult and the overarching commitment to abrasive noise Mountain God make in pieces like the 11-minute “Nazca Lines,” “Junglenaut” or even the brooding tension of airy instrumental “Unknown Ascent,” it’s all the more impressive that Bread Solstice is as cohesive in its cerebral horror as it is, constructing a harsh and churning vision of doom as something worthy of post-apocalyptic revelry. Far from easy listening, but of marked purpose. They should play exclusively in art galleries, no matter who winds up in the band.

Mountain God on Thee Facebooks

Artificial Head Records on Bandcamp

 

Dr. Space, Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1

dr-space-dr-spaces-alien-planet-trip-vol-1

Perhaps best known for his work in spearheading the improvisational Denmark-based Øresund Space Collective, modular synth wizard Scott “Dr. Space” Heller weirds out across four cuts on the solo release Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1, which both underscores in its scope how essential he is to the aforementioned outfit and oozes beyond that group’s parameters into electronic beatmaking and waves of synthesizer drone. Pulling influence from classic progadelia, Heller unfurls longform tripping on 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “5 Dimensions of the Universe” and veers into and out of somewhat abrasive swirl on “Rising Sun on Mars” before landing in the more steady atmosphere of “In Search of Life on Io” and launching once more outward with the five-minute finale “Alien Improv 2.” Just how many alien planet trips the good doctor will be undertaking remains as yet a mystery, but the breadth of this first one makes it plain to the listener that Heller’s sonic universe is wide open and, seemingly, ever-expanding.

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Space Rock Productions website

 

Dirty Grave, So Fall and Crawl Away

dirty-grave-so-fall-and-crawl-away

Brazilian doomers Dirty Grave issue the three-song single/EP So Fall and Crawl Away (bonus points for the Alice in Chains reference) ahead of making their full-length debut reportedly any minute now with an album called Evil Desire. Comprised of two studio tracks in the eight-minute “The Black Cloud Comes” and the four-minute Howlin’ Wolf cover “Evil (Is Going On)” and with the live cut “Unholy Son – Live” as a kind of bonus track, it’s a sampling behind two similar short releases, 2014’s Vol. II and 2013’s Dirty Grave (which featured a studio version of “Unholy Son”), that sleeks through eerie doom loosely tinged with psychedelia and smoked-out vibing. “Evil (Is Going On)” is more uptempo, perhaps unsurprisingly, but is giving a likewise treatment all the same, its final solo shredding into oblivion with stoned abandon. “Unholy Son – Live” is rawer but still carries through its melody in the vocals amid a prevalent crash, and if it’s a portend of things to come on Evil Desire, then So Fall and Crawl Away serves as a warning worth heeding.

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Dirty Grave on Bandcamp

 

Summoned by Giants, Stone Wind

summoned-by-giants-stone-wind

If you have a convenient narrative for what West Coast heavy rock has become over the last decade, Summoned by Giants’ debut album, Stone Wind, is probably too aggressive on the whole to fit it neatly. Their cleaner parts, the rolling second cut “Diamond Head” and samples throughout have aspects of that post-Red Fang party vibe, but to listen to the rawness of the bass tone that starts “Return” or closer “I Hate it When You Breathe,” or even the slurring “come at me, bro”-style rant sampled at the seven-track/27-minute album’s launch, a will toward violence is never far off. Couple that with the thickened noise punk of “Saturn” and the Weedeater sludge of the penultimate “Dying Wish,” and Summoned by Giants – guitarist/vocalist Sean Delaney, guitarist Jordan Sattelmair, bassist/vocalist Patrick Moening and drummer Mel Burris – seem more interested in doling out punishment than kicking back, making a silly video and having a good time. Well, maybe they’re having a good time, but they’re doing so while kicking your ass.

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Quarterly Review: Ecstatic Vision, Norska, Bison, Valborg, Obelyskkh, Earth Electric, Olde, Deaf Radio, Saturndust, Birnam Wood

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

It turns out that, yes indeed, I will be able to add another day to the Quarterly Review this coming Monday. Stoked on that. Means I’ll be trying to cram another 10 reviews into this coming weekend, but that’s not exactly a hardship as I see it, and the stuff I have picked out for it is, frankly, as much of a bonus for me as it could possibly be for anyone else, so yeah, look out for that. In the meantime, we wrap the Monday-to-Friday span of 50 records today with another swath of what’s basically me doing favors for my ears, and I hope as always for yours as well. Let’s dig in.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury

ecstatic-vision-raw-rock-fury

Hard touring and a blistering debut in 2015’s Sonic Praise (review here) quickly positioned Ecstatic Vision at the forefront of a Philadelphia-based mini-boom in heavy psych (see also: Ruby the Hatchet, Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlsome Bells, and so on), and their Relapse-issued follow-up, Raw Rock Fury, only delves further into unmitigated cosmic swirl and space-rocking crotchal thrust. The now-foursome keep a steady ground in percussion and low end even as guitar, sax, synth and echoing vocals seem to push ever more far-out, and across the record’s four tracks – variously broken up across two sides – the band continue to stake out their claim on the righteously psychedelic, be it in the all-go momentum building of “You Got it (Or You Don’t)” or the more drifting opening movement of closer “Twinkling Eye.” Shit is trippy, son. With the echoing-from-the-depths shouts of Doug Sabolik cutting through, there’s still an edge of Eastern Seaboard intensity to Ecstatic Vision, but that only seems to make Raw Rock Fury live up to its title all the more. Still lots of potential here, but it’ll be their third record that tells the tale of whether they can truly conquer space itself.

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Ecstatic Vision at Relapse Records website

 

Norska, Too Many Winters

norska-too-many-winters

Issued through Brutal Panda, Too Many Winters is the second full-length from Portland five-piece Norska, and its six tracks/48 minutes would seem to pick up where Rwake left off in presenting a progressive vision of what might be called post-sludge. Following an engaging 2011 self-titled debut, songs like the title-track and “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” churn and careen through Sourvein-style abrasion, vaguely Neurosis-style nod and, in the case of the latter or closer “Fire Patience Backbone,” soundscaping minimalism that, in the finale, is bookended by some of the record’s most intense push following opener “Samhain” and the subsequent “Eostre.” That salvo starts Too Many Winters with a deceptive amount of thrust, but even there atmosphere is central as it is to the outing as a whole, and a penultimate interlude in the 2:22 “Wave of Regrets” does well to underscore the point before the fading-in initial onslaught of “Fire Patience Backbone.” Having Aaron Rieseberg of YOB in the lineup with Jim Lowder, Dustin Rieseberg, Rob Shaffer and Jason Oswald no doubt draws eyes their way, but Norska’s sonic persona is distinct, immersive and individualized enough to stand on its own well beyond that pedigree.

Norska on Thee Facebooks

Norska at Brutal Panda Records website

 

Bison, You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient

bison-you-are-not-the-ocean-you-are-the-patient

Think about the two choices. You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient. Isn’t it the difference between something acting – i.e., an object – and something acted upon – i.e., a subject? As British Columbian heavy rockers Bison return after half a decade via Pelagic Records, their fourth album seems to find them trying to push beyond genre lines into a broader scope. “Until the Earth is Empty,” “Drunkard,” “Anti War” and “Raiigin” still have plenty of thrust, but the mood here is darker even than 2012’s Lovelessness found the four-piece, and “Tantrum” and closer “The Water Becomes Fire” bring out a more methodical take. It’s been 10 years since Bison issued their debut Earthbound EP and signed to Metal Blade for 2008’s Quiet Earth, and the pre-Red Fang party-ready heavy rock of those early works is long gone – one smiles to remember “These are My Dress Clothes” in the context of noise-rocking centerpiece “Kenopsia” here, the title of which refers to the emptiness of a formerly occupied space – but if the choice Bison are making is to place themselves on one side or the other of the subject/object divide, they prove to be way more ocean than patient in these songs.

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Bison at Pelagic Records website

 

Valborg, Endstrand

valborg-endstrand

With its churning, swirling waves of cosmic death, one almost expects Valborg’s Endstrand (on Lupus Lounge/Prophecy Productions) to be more self-indulgent than it is, but one of the German trio’s greatest assets across the 13-track/44-minute span of their sixth album is its immediacy. The longest song, “Stossfront,” doesn’t touch five minutes, and from the 2:14 opener “Jagen” onward, Valborg reenvision punk rock as a monstrous, consuming beast on songs like “Blut am Eisen,” “Beerdigungsmaschine,” “Alter,” “Atompetze” and closer “Exodus,” all the while meting put punishment after punishment of memorable post-industrial riffing on “Orbitalwaffe,” the crashing “Ave Maria” and the noise-soaked penultimate “Strahlung,” foreboding creeper atmospherics on “Bunkerluft” and “Geisterwürde,” and landmark, perfectly-paced chug on “Plasmabrand.” Extreme in its intent and impact, Endstrand brings rare clarity to an anti-genre vision of brutality as an art form, and at any given moment, its militaristic threat feels real, sincere and like an appropriate and righteous comment on the terrors of our age. Fucking a.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Valborg at Prophecy Productions website

 

Obelyskkh, The Providence

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Probably fair to call the current status of German post-doomers Obelyskkh in flux following the departure of guitarist Stuart West, but the band has said they’ll keep going and their fourth album, The Providence (on Exile on Mainstream) finds them capping one stage of their tenure with a decidedly forward-looking perspective. Its six-song/56-minute run borders on unmanageable, but that’s clearly the intent, and an air of proggy weirdness infects The Providence from the midsection of its opening title-track onward as the band – West, guitarist/vocalist Woitek Broslowski, bassist Seb Fischer and drummer Steve Paradise – tackle King Crimson rhythmic nuance en route to an effects-swirling vision of Lovecraftian doomadelia and massive roll. Cuts like “Raving Ones” and 13-minute side B leadoff “NYX” play out with a similarly deceptive multifaceted vibe, and by the time the penultimate “Aeons of Iconoclasm” bursts outward from its first half’s spacious minimalism into all-out High on Fire thrust ahead of the distortion-soaked churn of closer “Marzanna” – which ends, appropriately, with laughter topping residual effects noise – Obelyskkh make it abundantly clear anything goes. The most impressive aspect of The Providence is that Obelyskkh manage to control all this crunching chaos, and one hopes that as they continue forward, they’ll hold firm to that underlying consciousness.

Obelyskkh on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Earth Electric, Vol. 1: Solar

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Former Mayhem/Aura Noir guitarist Rune “Blasphemer” Ericksen leads breadth-minded Portuguese four-piece Earth Electric, and their devil-in-the-details Season of Mist debut, Vol. 1: Solar, runs a prog-metal gamut across a tightly-woven nine tracks and 35 minutes, Ericksen’s vocals and those of Carmen Susana Simões (Moonspell, ex-Ava Inferi) intertwine fluidly at the forefront of sharply angular riffing and rhythmic turns from bassist Alexandre Ribeiro and drummer Ricardo Martins. The organ-laced push of “Meditate Meditate” and “Solar” and the keyboard flourish of “Earthrise” (contributed by Dan Knight) draw as much from classic rock as metal, but the brew Earth Electric crafts from them is potent and very much the band’s own. “The Great Vast” and the shorter “Set Sail (Towards the Sun)” set up a direct flow into the title cut, and as one returns to Earth Electric for repeat listens, the actual scope of the album and the potential for how the band might continue to develop are likewise expansive, despite its many pulls into torrents of head-down riffing. Almost intimidating in its refusal to bow to genre.

Earth Electric on Thee Facebooks

Earth Electric at Season of Mist website

 

Olde, Temple

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After debuting in 2014 with I (review here), Toronto’s Olde return via STB Records with Temple, proffering sludge-via-doom vibes and a center of weighted tonality around which the rest of their aesthetic would seem to be built, vocalist Doug McLarty’s throaty growls alternately cutting through and buried by the riffs of guitarists Greg Dawson (also production) and Chris “Hippy” Hughes, the bass of Cory McCallum and the rolling crashes of drummer Ryan Aubin (also of Sons of Otis) on tightly constructed pieces like “Now I See You” and the tempo-shifting “Centrifugal Disaster,” which reminds by its finish that sometimes all you need is nod. Olde have more to offer than just that, of course, as the plodding spaciousness of “The Ghost Narrative” and the lumbering “Maelstrom” demonstrate, but even in the turns between crush and more open spaces of the centerpiece title-track and the drifting post-heavy rock of closer “Castaway,” the underlying focus is on capital-‘h’ Heavy, and Olde wield it as only experts can.

Olde on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

 

Deaf Radio, Alarm

deaf radio alarm

Based in Athens and self-releasing their debut album, Alarm, in multiple vinyl editions, the four-piece of Panos Gklinos, Dimitris Sakellariou, Antonis Mantakas and George Diathesopoulos – collectively known as Deaf Radio – make no bones about operating in the post-Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures sphere of heavy rock. To their credit, the songwriting throughout “Aggravation,” “Vultures and Killers” and the careening “Revolving Doors” lives up to that standard, and though even the later “Oceanic Feeling” seems to be informed by the methods of Josh Homme, there’s a melodic identity there that belongs more to Deaf Radio as well, and keeping Alarm in mind as their first long-player, it’s that identity that one hopes the band will continue to develop. Rounding out side B with the howling guitar and Rated R fuzz of the six-minute “…And We Just Pressed the Alarm Button,” Deaf Radio build to a suitable payoff for the nine-track outing and affirm the aesthetic foundation they’ve laid for themselves.

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Deaf Radio on Bandcamp

 

Saturndust, RLC

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The further you go into Saturndust’s 58-minute second LP RLC, the more there is to find. At any given moment, the São Paulo, Brazil-based outfit can be playing to impulses ranging from proggy space rock, righteously doomed tonal heft, aggressive blackened thrust or spacious post-sludge – in one song. Over longform cuts like “Negative-Parallel Dimensional,” “RLC,” “Time Lapse of Existence” and closer “Saturn 12.C,” the trio cast a wide-enough swath to be not quite genreless but genuinely multi-tiered and not necessarily as disjointed as one might expect in their feel, and though when they want to, they roll out massive, lumbering riffs, that’s only one tool in a full arsenal at their apparent disposal. What tie RLC together are the sure hands of guitarist/vocalist Felipe Dalam, bassist Guilherme Cabral and drummer Douglas Oliveira guiding it, so that when the galloping-triplet chug of “Time Lapse of Existence” hits, it works as much in contrast to the synth-loaded “Titan” preceding as in conjunction with it. Rather than summarize, “Saturn 12.C” pushes far out on a wash of Dalam’s keyboards before a wide-stomping apex, seeming to take Saturndust to their farthest point beyond the stratosphere yet. Safe travels and many happy returns.

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Saturndust on Bandcamp

 

Birnam Wood, Triumph of Death

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Massachusetts doomers Birnam Wood have two prior EPs under their collective belt in 2015’s Warlord and a 2014 self-titled, but the two-songer single Triumph of Death (kudos on the Hellhammer reference) is my first exposure to their blend of modern progressive metal melody and traditional doom. They roll out both in able fashion on the single’s uptempo opening title-track and follow with the BlackSabbath-“Black-Sabbath” sparse notemaking early in their own “Birnam Wood.” All told, Triumph of Death is only a little over nine minutes long, but it makes for an encouraging sampling of Birnam Wood’s wares all the same, and as Dylan Edwards, Adam McGrath, Shaun Anzalone and Matt Wagner shift into faster swing circa the eponymous tune’s solo-topped midpoint, they do so with a genuine sense of homage that does little to take away from the sense of individuality they’ve brought to the style even in this brief context. They call it stoner metal, and there’s something to that, but if we’re going on relative balance, Triumph of Death is more doom-stoner than stoner-doom, and it revels within that niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche sensibility.

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Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

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Basalt Premiere Video for “Aurora”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

basalt-photo-by-Leandro-Furini

Who’s up for a little crushing sludge? Maybe some cavernous Portuguese vocals echoing out over a dirge nod shoved uphill by crash cymbal, deep-running low end and wide-berth guitar tones? Yeah, me too, which is why Basalt‘s “Aurora” hits so dead on. The São Paulo five-piece are set to release their debut album, O Coração Escuro da Terra, early this year through a swath of labels — Black EmbersSamsara DiscosBlack Hole, Matéria Negra are the ones they list, and that seems like plenty. At 4:55, “Aurora” is the efficiently-working centerpiece of the record, broken essentially into two halves marked out by a change in central riff, but its ambient breadth departs the apparent superficial simplicity, taking in elements of the more extreme end of post-metal and basking in that churn to maximum effect.

As to what the hell all that means, it means Basalt sound ridiculously heavy, and that, though abrasive, there’s more going on beneath their approach than just sonic assault. I haven’t heard the full O Coração Escuro da Terra yet, but the band have “Aurora” and the shorter, faster and more deathly “Terra Morta” streaming on their Bandcamp page (linked below), so it would seem that they’re by no means tied exclusively to one operating modus. All the better, as Basalt are yet a relatively new band, coming together in 2015, and O Coração Escuro da Terra is their first offering. The video for “Aurora” itself is a relatively straightforward — though also atmospheric — performance clip, captured last month as an apparent means of introducing the band, and in so doing it makes me want to hear more. So call it a win.

More info follows the clip below. Thanks to Basalt for letting me host the premiere.

Please enjoy:

Basalt, “Aurora” official video

As they prepare to release their first full-length, O Coração Escuro da Terra, Basalt now debut a special video for the track Aurora, that will be on the record together with six more songs.

Recorded at Duna Studio, in Sao Paulo, and mastered by William Blackmon (Gadget), the album will be released (in CD) between March and April by four independent Brazilian labels: Black Embers Records, Black Hole, Matéria Negra and Samsara Discos.

The artwork, as well as the logo of the band, was designed by Brazilian visual artist Carolina Scagliusi, who already worked with names like Test and Infamous Glory. Through its seven tracks, the record shows a wide variety of influences and sounds. The band was formed in São Paulo, Brazil, in 2015, brings together members and ex-members of bands like Constrito, O Cúmplice, Surra, Meant to Suffer and Magzilla.

Basalt – O Coração Escuro da Terra
1-Párias
2-Terra Morta
3-Vanitas
4-Aurora
5-A Longa Noite (Eclipse Sem Fim)
6-Os Homens Ocos
7-Diante da Dor dos Outros

Basalt is:
Pedro Alves
Luiz Mazetto
Victor Miranda
Marcelo Fonseca
Flávio Scaglione

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Basalt on Bandcamp

Black Embers Records on Bandcamp

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