DVNE Sign to RidingEasy Records; New Album Due Later This Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

RidingEasy Records would likely have been on hand last August when Edinburgh’s DVNE made their debut US appearance on the main stage at Psycho Las Vegas (review here), and having seen that performance, it leaves little to wonder why the label might have snagged them for the release of the follow-up to 2017’s widely-lauded Asheran. I seem to recall hearing at some point that Psycho was managing the band as well, so the West Coast connection there and the fact that they’re playing the festival again this year kind of brings it all together. They’ll hit the studio sometime in the next couple months to record an album, and whether it makes it out before the end of 2019 or not, I have little doubt its arrival will be hotly anticipated.

They’re something of a standout in terms of style for RidingEasy as well, which I imagine will only help them as they go forward with the backing from the label. US tour next year? Doesn’t seem like an unreasonable ask following the album’s release.

The PR wire makes the signing official:

dvne

DVNE sign to RidingEasy Records, play Psycho Las Vegas

Edinburgh, Scotland band to release new album in 2019

Edinburgh, Scotland quintet DVNE have signed to L.A. purveyors of heavy, RidingEasy Records for worldwide release of future recordings.

The band also returns to the US this summer to perform at the hugely popular Psycho Las Vegas festival on August 17th.

DVNE (pronounced dune) is a 5 piece progressive rock/metal band from Edinburgh Scotland. Founded in 2013, the band was then called Dune in reference to Frank Herbert sci-fi masterpiece of the same name.

The band consists of Victor Vicart (guitar, vocals, keys), Dudley Tait (drums), Daniel Barter (guitar, vocals), Jack Kavanagh (bass) and Richard Matheson (keys).

To date, the band has released one studio album and two EPs. They emerged within the UK scene with their first EP Progenitor (2013), shortly followed by a second EP, Aurora Majesty (2014). At their releases, both EPs received very favourable receptions. Dvne quickly began to make a name for themselves in the UK and around Europe, with various tours over these territories and support shows of households names such as Eyehategod, Crowbar, Dragged Into Sunlight to name a few. The band’s sound at the time was already crossing over various music style including post-metal, progressive rock and sludge metal, but it is with their first full-length album Asheran that the band established further their unique blend of heavy music.

Released in August 2017, on double-disc vinyl, CD and digital, Asheran was overwhelmingly praised by the press. Since Asheran’s release, Dvne has toured all over the UK, Europe and North America and appeared at prestigious festivals such as Psycho Las Vegas, Desertfest London and Inferno Festival Norway to name a few.

Not content to repeat their previous releases and always looking to push their sound forward DVNE are about to enter Chamber Studio in Edinburgh this summer to record their 2nd full-length concept album, planned for release on RidingEasy in late 2019.

DVNE LIVE:
08/17 Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas

https://www.facebook.com/DvneUK
https://www.instagram.com/dvne_uk/
https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/
ridingeasyrecs.com

DVNE, Asheran (2017)

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Hair of the Dog Post Studio Diary Videos from Recording New Album Vol. IV

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hair of the dog

Edinburgh three-piece Hair of the Dog are currently in the process of making their fourth album and second for Kozmik Artifactz, tentatively titled Vol. IV, and they’ve been posting videos assembled from footage captured in the studio. Funny faces, snacks, dudes laughing, playing songs with headphones on — all that stuff. They have two episodes out so far, and beneath all that goofery, what you’re seeing in them is a group creative process at work, the dudes in the band and the crew at Chamber Studios coming together to work as a team toward common ends. In the second episode, as drummer Jon Holt listens back to something he just recorded, there’s a quick moment where he hears something in his playing that no one else thinks is a big deal. The inevitable question: Does he want to re-record it? I don’t know whether they’d punch him in or if the whole trio — Adam Holt on guitar/vocals and Iain Thomson on bass — would have to lay down the song again, or if he’d work with scratch tracks or what, but this experience is completely universal.

If you’ve ever been in the studio with a band, this has happened. I don’t care if you were there recording, or if you were engineering the session, or if you were delivering a god damn pizza. If you were there for more than five minutes, you’ve seen this. There’s always one thing that somebody hears. Maybe no one else even hears it, but to them, it’s glaring. And I’m not going to invalidate that position either, by the way. I’ve been there too. Been that guy. But it’s inevitable that it happens. And usually it’s a not a big deal. What, the band plays the song again? Or even just the one person who heard the one thing plays that one part? Easy. But when a band is recording, these decisions feel huge. Maybe we should leave it because it’s a good mistake? Maybe we don’t want it to sound perfect. Maybe it was meant to be. All this stuff gets in your head while you’re recording and it’s really easy to lose perspective when you’re in the control room listening back to what’s about to become the definitive version of a song.

That kind of pressure is part of making a record, and that’s part of why you see Hair of the Dog laughing it off the rest of the time, because that levity helps alleviate some of the pressure they’re putting on themselves. So when they mug for the camera or make jokes about their shoes or whatever it is, understand there’s a current of purpose behind all that. It can be fun, and ideally it is, but it’s work too, and clearly what they’re doing matters to them enough to get the details just how they want them to be.

There are very likely more of these coming, but you can see the first two below. Hair of the Dog‘s last album, This World Turns (review here), was released in 2017.

Please enjoy:

Hair of the Dog, Making Vol.IV – Studio Diary – Day 1

Hair of the Dog, Making Vol.IV – Studio Diary – Day 2

Hair of the Dog return to Chamber Studios, Edinburgh, to record their fourth studio album on Kozmik Artifactz. The have just finished recording with Graeme Young of Chamber Studios, and have made the decision to mix and produce the album themselves, within lead guitarist/vocalist, Adam Holt’s, home studio.

Speaking of the album Adam said:

“We’re taking this one in a new and exciting direction. The HOTD sound is still very much a part of the mix, but we’re exploring heavier sounds and influences. We always try to hint within each album, where the next album might go in terms of sound, and we think This World Turns paved the way for us to introduce some of our metal roots. The world is so fucked up right now and this has definitely resonated with us, we’ll be addressing much of our opinions of life in 2019 on this new record.”

Whilst we are currently in hiding as we mix our new record, we are happy to announce that we will be headlining Red Crust Festival in Edinburgh on the 4th May alongside some killer bands from across the UK – including 1968 and our dear sisters Juniper Grave.

Attendees will be treated to some exclusive performances of our new material.

The currently un-named record, will be out later this year via German purveyors of killer sounds, Kozmik Artifactz.

Hair of the Dog on Bandcamp

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Hair of the Dog on Instagram

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

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King Witch Premiere Video for “Carnal Sacrifice”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

king witch

The metal runs true through the heart of King Witch‘s 2018 debut album, Under the Mountain (review here), and the rush that the Edinburgh four-piece put into the beginning of “Carnal Sacrifice” and the hook that emerges from there is as much as defining moment for them as one could ask. It’s a track that recalls the best of classic metal and its modern interpretations, touching on doom in the way that Tony Iommi gradually accepted his role as a founding figure of what metal became, while moving swiftly at an intense pace that speaks to the precise execution of thrash that emerged to dirty-up the otherwise shiny impression of the NWOBHM. It’s fucking metal, in other words. I don’t know how else you would want or need to say it. All things metal, and metal in all things.

Of course, Under the Mountain as a whole varies in mood, pace, horn-raising induction, and so on, but “Carnal Sacrifice” leaves no question as to where it’s coming from. Brought to bear by the lineup of vocalist Laura Donnelly, guitarist Jamie Gilchrist, bassist Simon Anger (since replaced by Rory Lee) and drummer Lyle Brown, it is delivered with festival-ready nobility — and take your pick in that regard, whether it’s Wacken in Germany or Download in the UK or perhaps even Hellfest, as King Witch‘s label, Listenable Records, is likewise based in France — and an awareness of the style to which it’s playing. One can hear elements cast from Candlemass and a subtle technicality in Gilchrist‘s guitar that speaks to an underlying progressive influence, but the prevailing for-headbangers-by-headbangers remains, and Donnelly‘s powerhouse vocals and command are right at the center of that.

I had the pleasure of premiering “Carnal Sacrifice,” the audio of the track itself, with the review linked above, but frankly, as we come upon a year since Under the Mountain‘s release, I’m happy to have the video premiering below as an excuse to revisit it. Call me a sucker for a classic metal hook, if you want — I’ll only take it as a compliment — but “Carnal Sacrifice” continues to highlight many of the strengths in King Witch‘s debut and why it seemed upon its arrival to hold so much promise for future righteousness to come.

The clip takes footage from the 1922 silent horror film Haxan, and splices it with footage of the band playing to create a suitable atmosphere, and that’s cool and all, but really, they could’ve made a video of the band playing with a bunch of adorable puppies and the song would still kick ass.

Have at it, and enjoy:

King Witch, “Carnal Sacrifice” video premiere

King Witch on “Carnal Sacrifice”:

“Carnal Sacrifice is inspired lyrically by the classic horror films of the ’60s and early ’70s, but the footage from Haxan suited the song so well that we had to use it — it’s crazy that this film was made in 1922 and still has a very sinister edge.”

“Carnal Sacrifice” – taken from King Witch’s debut album Under The Mountain released in February 2018 via Listenable Records. Available now in CD/LP/Digital. Live footage recorded by Alan Swan. Video created by Laura Donnelly.

ORDER HERE : https://kingwitchmerch.bigcartel.com

King Witch live:
21st February, The Arches – Coventry
22nd February. The Dev – Camden
23rd February, The Underground – Bradford
24th February, West Street Live – Sheffield
8th March, Bannermans – Edinburgh

King Witch is:
Jamie Gilchrist – Guitar
Laura Donnelly – Vocals
Rory Lee – Bass
Lyle Brown – Drums

King Witch on Thee Facebooks

King Witch on Instagram

King Witch on Bandcamp

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

Listenable Records on Twitter

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Juniper Grave Premiere “The Forest” Video; Dec. UK Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

juniper grave

Dec. 7 marks the release date of Juniper Grave‘s debut album, Of Hellions and Harridans, on Wasted State Records, and that same night the Edinburgh four-piece will play a hometown release show at St. Mark’s Unitarian Church. A church seems a fitting setting for their organ-laced sound, further distinguished as it is by the harmonies brought to bear by multiple vocalists, with Jenni in the lead position backed by guitarist Shonagh and bassist Sarah while Jason drums behind. The release show is the first of a three-night weekender, and they’ve got two weekenders in a row, winding up in Manchester on Dec. 15, which is as far south in the UK as they go. Fair enough for the band to celebrate the arrival of their tales of mischief and devilry in songs like the boogieing “A Trick of the Light,” the seven-minute prog-doom centerpiece “The Bridge Between Worlds” and the well-harmonized and classically metal closer “Rest with Your Dead (Faolitighearna),” which is a cause worthy of celebration both for the realization of these songs themselves and for the potential they represent.

“The Forest,” the video for which actually takes place indoors as well as outside in the woods, is the leadoff track on Of Hellions and Harridans, offers a rousing hook to capture the listener’s attention early, and as such, it makes a fitting juniper grave of hellions and harridansopener, but while it doesn’t have the same kind of charged harmonies as in the finale or even the penultimate “Lunar Calling” before it, it also does some essential work in setting up the linear flow of the album toward those ends. The organ is established for being the crucial element that it is. The rhythm section proves crucial to the weight and groove overall, and the melody brings forward the nascent sense of command in the vocals overall that speaks to one of the band’s great potentials for arrangement and melodic/harmonic interplay going forward. That’s getting well ahead of things, but it’s there in the song all the same and becomes a subsequent theme for Juniper Grave across the album’s 40-minute, LP-ready span.

This is the first audio from the album to be made public so far as I know, so please dig in and click the tour poster to enlarge the dates should you happen to be in the region early next month. Preorders for Of Hellions and Harridans are up now through Wasted State, and you’ll find that link along with more info under the video below.

Please enjoy:

Juniper Grave, “The Forest” official video premiere

juniper grave tour poster

From the dreich, winding closes of Edinburgh come Juniper Grave. Riding out under the banner of debut album Of Hellions and Harridans, these four harbingers of doom have distilled the influence of fellow occultists Blood Ceremony and Jex Thoth into the soundtrack to a Faustian bargain.

Video shot & edited by Richie Morgan

Taken from their debut album ‘Of Hellions & Harridans’, released 7th December 2018 through Wasted State Records.

Coming as Vinyl, CD and Digital Download, the album pre-order is now available at:
http://www.wastedstate.com/releases/juniper-grave-of-hellions-harridans/

Juniper Grave are:
Lead Vocals and Organ: Jenni
Guitar and Backing Vocals: Shonagh
Bass and Backing Vocals: Sarah
Drums: Jason

Juniper Grave on Thee Facebooks

Juniper Grave on Twitter

Juniper Grave on Instagram

Juniper Grave on Bandcamp

Juniper Grave website

Wasted State Records website

Wasted State Records webstore

Wasted State Records on Bandcamp

Wasted State Records on Thee Facebooks

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Juniper Grave Release Debut Album Of Hellions and Harridans Dec. 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

juniper grave

Scottish four-piece Juniper Grave formed in 2016 and issued a two-track demo in 2017 that featured the songs ‘Lunar Calling’ and ‘The Bridge Between Worlds.’ The cultish-leaning outfit have signed to Wasted State Records and both of those tracks will feature on their debut album, Of Hellions and Harridans, which is due out Dec. 7. There’s no audio from the record yet and the demo has been taken down from Bandcamp in place of a preorder page for the LP — fair enough — but the live clip below gives some sense of the band’s approach with guitarist Shonagh and bassist Sarah providing backing vocals for organist Jenni, and it seems likely those arrangements will factor heavily in the album (haven’t heard it, so can’t confirm that) along with the weighted grooves and eerie organ melodies. Also dig the purported themes of “warrior women and accursed souls.” Would be a nice change from all that horror-movie silly whatnot that seems to abound everywhere you look.

The PR wire has details:

juniper grave of hellions and harridans

JUNIPER GRAVE TO RELEASE DEBUT ALBUM THIS DECEMBER!

Edinburgh based witch-rock band JUNIPER GRAVE have announced the release of their hotly anticipated debut album titled ‘Of Hellions & Harridans’!

Formed in 2016 peddling their unique brand of occult rock with strong tinges of the doom, JUNIPER GRAVE have quickly grown their coven of fans at live shows, such as in support of Dystopian Future Movies or Church Of The Cosmic Skull, and progressed towards the album writing at the start of 2018.

This summer, JUNIPER GRAVE entered the Chamber Studio in Edinburgh to record their debut album ‘Of Hellions & Harridans’, which is set for a release with Wasted State Records on December 7th 2018!

“After two years of weaving and crafting we can’t wait to share our stories of warrior women and accursed souls with the world.“ Says the band. “The themes, although fantastical, embody our ethos of empowerment and sisterhood and we are really proud of these seven songs of ruin and revenge.”

The tracklist will read as follows:
1. The Forest
2. A Trick Of The Light
3. Daughters of the Waves
4. The Bridge Between Worlds
5. Dance of the Daemon Queen
6. Lunar Calling
7. Rest With Your Dead (Faoiltighearna)

Coming as Vinyl, CD and Digital Download, the album pre-order is now available at:
http://www.wastedstate.com/releases/juniper-grave-of-hellions-harridans/

Juniper Grave are:
Lead Vocals and Organ: Jenni
Guitar and Backing Vocals: Shonagh
Bass and Backing Vocals: Sarah
Drums: Jason

www.facebook.com/junipergrave
https://twitter.com/junipergrave
https://www.instagram.com/junipergraveband/
https://junipergrave.bandcamp.com/
www.junipergrave.com
www.wastedstate.com

Juniper Grave, “Daughters of the Bannermans” live in Edinburgh

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DVNE to Release New Album in 2019; Playing Psycho Las Vegas

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I’m not saying you’ll be telling your grandkids about it however many years from now — though one never knows — but DVNE‘s onstage debut in the US seems to me the kind of thing that you want to see if you can help it. They’ve got two — count ’em: one, two — dates booked Stateside. One is Psycho Las Vegas, which comes first, and second is a Psycho-affiliated San Diego gig at Brick by Brick with Elder and Red Fang. Nothing like being made to feel welcome in a new place.

Oh, and speaking of Psycho-affiliated, DVNE are also the first client for the fest-promoter’s new management wing. They’ll have a new album out in 2019 to follow-up last year’s much-lauded Asheran, which was released by Wasted State Records.

The PR wire brings tales of things to come:

dvne

DVNE: Progressive Metal/Sludge Collective To Make First-Ever US Appearance At Psycho Las Vegas; New Album In The Works

In just a few short weeks, Edinburgh-based progressive metal/sludge behemoths DVNE will make their way stateside to play Psycho Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed by a special show at Brick By Brick in San Diego, California with Elder and Red Fang. The two shows will mark DVNE’s first-ever US live performances!

Comments guitarist/vocalist Victor Vicart, “We’re gearing up for the US and couldn’t be more excited to play our first shows over there. Psycho is going to be mental; loads of bands we love and it looks like we’re going to have a three-day non-stop party too. We also have a show in San Diego with Elder and Red Fang the following Monday so our post festival blues are sorted!

“Following those shows,” he continues, “we’ll be back home in Edinburgh and the plan is to lock ourselves in the practice room and finish our next album. We’re really excited to enter the studio again and explore with new sounds and instruments; it’s going to be a blast!”

DVNE recently completed a UK tour supporting New Orleans icons Eyehategod. Lauded The Moshville Times of their performance in Glasgow, “I’ve seen [DVNE] a handful of times now, they’ve always impressed me live, and tonight they were at their best, flying through an absolutely blistering set focused on the Mastodonian Asheran. On yet another uncharacteristically hot Glasgow evening, Audio was stiflingly clammy so as the mellow segue music from Asheran filled the short gaps between songs the guys caught their breath and wiped sweat from their gear. On occasion, vocalist/guitarist Victor Vicart used these pauses to switch between his nine-string and six-string guitars. During the likes of ‘Thirst’ Victor’s vocals and guitar parts acted as lighter, emotive counters to Dudley Tait’s growled hollers and chunkier riffs. All the while Dan Barter’s swift fills and Allan Paterson’s rolling basslines kept the songs driving forward. The local(ish) boys done great!”

DVNE:
8/17/2018 Psycho Las Vegas @ The Hard Rock Hotel And Casino – Las Vegas, NV
8/20/2018 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA w/ Elder, Red Fang

DVNE (pronounced dune) released the critically-lauded debut full-length, Asheran, last year via Wasted State Records. A sixty-minute epic narrative following the tale of the rise and fall of civilizations, the return of an empire thought millennia lost, and the world-spanning events that consequently unfold, Asheran is steeped in themes of science fiction, environmental issues, and both dystopic and utopic visions for the future of mankind. Asheran was captured at Chambers Studio in Edinburgh, and mixed and mastered by Tom Dring of Vagrant Studios (Dragged Into Sunlight, Venom Prison).

A special orange clear 2xLP edition of Asheran is currently available at THIS LOCATION where the record can be streamed in its stunning entirety.

DVNE features Victor Vicart (guitar, vocals, keys), Daniel Barter (guitar, vocals), Dudley Tait (drums), and Allan Paterson (bass). Forged in 2013, DVNE’s Scottish roots lie with Tait and Paterson, with Vicart hailing from France and Barter from England. DVNE’s debut EP Progenitor was released in December 2013 and was followed the next year by a second EP entitled Aurora Majesty. Both offerings were released via Wasted State Records. Thanks to the excellent critical reception, DVNE quickly began to tour the UK and around Europe sharing stages with the likes of such scene household names as Crowbar, Eyehategod, Inter Arma, Dragged Into Sunlight, and Black Tusk. DVNE unleashed their most ambitious album to date in August 2017. Titled Asheran, the offering was released on 2xLP vinyl, CD, and digitally again via Wasted State Records. Since Asheran’s release, DVNE took on a month-long European headlining tour and recently partnered with Psycho Entertainment, curators of the esteemed Psycho Las Vegas festivals, for management. The union marks Psycho Entertainment’s first ever management venture. DVNE will release their follow-up to Asheran next year with details to be announced in the coming weeks.

https://www.facebook.com/DvneUK
https://www.instagram.com/dvne_uk/
https://twitter.com/SongsOfArrakis
https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/album/asheran
http://www.wastedstate.com/

DVNE, Asheran (2017)

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DVNE to Tour UK with Eyehategod; Asheran Repress out Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dvne

Scottish heavy progressives DVNE are on the third vinyl pressing of their 2017 album Asheran. That they’d have sold through two is little surprise, considering the breadth and weight the band puts into their material. That should make an interesting pairing when they play with sludge magnates Eyehategod in July in the UK in preparation for their US debut this August at Psycho Las Vegas, where there’s little doubt they’ll turn even more heads in their direction. Every fest has that one band that surprises people, and it’s easy to think DVNE will be that band for many. I hope very much to find out for myself by, you know, being there to see them.

The PR wire brings all the latest on all the latest, and it goes like this:

dvne-asheran

DVNE: Progressive Metal/Doom Collective Issues Third Pressing Of Asheran On Limited Orange Clear 2xLP; UK Dates With Eyehategod Confirmed + Band To Make US Live Debut At Psycho Las Vegas

Edinburgh-based progressive metal/doom collective DVNE are pleased to unveil the third vinyl pressing of the critically-lauded Asheran full-length debut.

Released last year via Wasted State Records, Asheran is a sixty-minute tapestry of sound; an epic narrative following the tale of the rise and fall of civilizations, the return of an empire thought millennia lost, and the world-spanning events that consequently unfold. Steeped in themes of science fiction, environmental issues, and both dystopic and utopic visions for the future of mankind, Asheran was captured at Chambers Studio in Edinburgh, and mixed and mastered by Tom Dring of Vagrant Studios (Dragged Into Sunlight, Venom Prison).

The orange clear 2xLP edition of Asheran will be released on June 4th via Wasted State Records and is currently available for preorder at THIS LOCATION where the record can be streamed in its stunning entirety.

Since Asheran’s release, DVNE took on a month-long European headlining tour and recently
partnered with Psycho Entertainment, curators of the esteemed Psycho Las Vegas festivals, for management. The union marks Psycho Entertainment’s first ever management venture.

DVNE will bring their psalms to UK stages this July supporting Eyehategod. From there, the band will make their way stateside for their first ever US performance at Psycho Las Vegas followed by a special show at San Diego’s Brick By Brick with Elder and Red Fang with additional live dates to be announced soon.

Comments guitarist/vocalist Victor Vicart of the Psycho appearance, “We’re so stoked to play Psycho this year. It’s the kind of festival we’ve always wanted to be part of because it pushes bands to do something special and different from their regular live performance. We’ve played a lot of small venues and squats in Europe and love the DIY part of the scene, but with Psycho, we have the opportunity to do something with our show we’ve had in mind for a long time. We can’t wait for people to see what we’re working on for the occasion.”

DVNE w/ Eyehategod:
7/01/2018 The Exchange – Bristol, UK
7/02/2018 Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
7/03/2018 Audio – Glasgow, UK
7/04/2018 Rebellion Rock Club – Manchester, UK
7/05/2018 The Underworld – London, UK
8/17/2018 Psycho Las Vegas @ The Hard Rock Hotel And Casino – Las Vegas, NV
8/20/2018 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA w/ Elder, Red Fang

DVNE (pronounced dune) consists of Victor Vicart (guitar, vocals, keys), Daniel Barter (guitar, vocals), Dudley Tait (drums), and Allan Paterson (bass).

https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/album/asheran
https://www.instagram.com/dvne_uk/
https://twitter.com/SongsOfArrakis
https://www.facebook.com/DvneUK
wastedstaterecords.bandcamp.com

DVNE, “Thirst” official video

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Review & Track Premiere: King Witch, Under the Mountain

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king witch under the mountain

[Click play above to stream ‘Carnal Sacrifice’ from King Witch’s Under the Mountain. Album is out March 16 via Listenable Records.]

Some heavy metal makes its impact with raw, blistering fury. It speaks to something primitive and disaffected in its audience, manifesting a sense of violent otherness that, at times, pushes the limits of sonic endurance to its very extremes. King Witch don’t play this kind of metal. They play the other kind. As the Edinburgh-based four-piece make their noteworthy debut with the nine-song Under the Mountain via Listenable Records, they do so with an overriding sense of poise and clarity of purpose. Their sound is crisply-presented, their songwriting efficient, their performances energetic and powerful.

Individual tracks present different vibes, whether that’s the rolling undulations and progressive forward drive of third cut “Solitary” or the thrashier thrust of the later “Possession,” but especially with a foundation of hooks like those of “Carnal Sacrifice” and the near-seven-minute centerpiece “Approaching the End,” which recalls finer moments of post-Ozzy-era Black Sabbath in its sense of class and stage-presence-in-the-studio spirit, Under the Mountain is unafraid either to blaze ahead at top speed directly in the face of the listener or to stand back and manifest its ideas with a precision bordering on the graceful. As Under the Mountainwas preceded only by a 2015 EP titled Shoulders of Giants, it is all the more impressive to consider for being the band’s debut, and with the lineup of vocalist Laura Donnelly, guitarist Jamie Gilchrist, bassist Simon Anger and drummer Lyle Brown, King Witch emerge from their first album having showcased present realization and future potential in kind. That’s the kind of metal they play.

They execute it by engaging with a number of subgenres, and opener “Beneath the Waves” brims with rolling intention and sets a tone somewhere between Candlemass and less specifically doomed, updated NWOBHM methods. A current of keys adds flourish to the arrangement, but the most striking immediate effect comes from Donnelly‘s vocals, which from “Beneath the Waves” and into the commanding chorus of “Carnal Sacrifice” and even in the more laid back chug of “Solitary;” one can her a trained-seeming vibrato that only works to bolster the coherence of the material overall. She stands up to the Judas Priest-ery of the subsequent title-track, on which Gilchrist offers a particularly choice guitar lead, a bit of shred setting up the dynamic tempo change into the chunkier “Approaching the End,” which is perhaps the most singularly doomed moment on Under the Mountain, though neither the guitar nor the vocals are wanting for showcase moments throughout the proceedings.

The initial shove Under the Mountain elicits in “Beneath the Waves” and the shouting hook of “Carnal Sacrifice,” while still controlled in style and delivery, is an energetic blast to start the record, and though “Solitary” seems to move immediately outward from there with a spacious guitar intro and longer runtime, it remains informs by the vitality of the tracks prior, and the same could certainly be said of the careening title-track that follows, its jabbing riff opening up to a thrash-style chorus that would seem to reveal Anger‘s bass as the secret weapon of the band, subtly thickening and complementing the rhythm while adding flourish to stand up to Brown‘s drums. A slowdown about halfway through gives “Under the Mountain” a break into nod that once more Donnelly guides the audience through masterfully, and when the gallop begins anew to toward a final chorus, it’s a further highlight of the songwriting acumen at work on Under the Mountain as a whole and the sheer efficiency with which King Witch bring their material to bear.

king witch

That notion extends to the interactions between the tracks across the record’s span as well as to the songs themselves, as already heard in the tempo shift between “Carnal Sacrifice”‘s riotous finish and the start of “Solitary.” Likewise, “Approaching the End” — which might be the highlight achievement here in blending classic metal, doom and an innate sense of personality in one summary progression — picks up with a slower pulse than the title-track before it, and as by its end it hits a raging payoff, the subdued and bluesy strum that follows in “Ancients” feels like all the more of an aesthetic outward reach on the part of King Witch — a departure from the strictly metallic vibe that they’re no less able to pull off cleanly and with intent. Brown‘s toms signal a kind of middle ground resolution in the subsequent “Hunger,” and sure enough, what emerges there is one of Under the Mountain‘s most resonant chugs, a spacious verse and a sweeping chorus, all of this speaking to perhaps the stylistic melding process that the band might undertake as they move forward from this debut.

Always difficult to speculate on that kind of thing, but if there’s a point being made as King Witch round out Under the Mountain, it’s on the more furious side of their sound, which frankly it sounds like they’re having too much fun executing to expect it to completely disappear anytime soon, whatever their sound ultimately becomes. Both under four minutes long, “Possession” and “Black Dog Blues” make a sharp finishing duo, the former with a vicious forward thrust and the latter with head-spinning percussive turns as if to make the point that the band has only begun to explore the various methods of what will eventually become their style.

The real question coming out of Under the Mountain is whether that style will remain as multi-faceted as it is in these songs or cohere over time into some combination of elements through which King Witch find further individualized expression, but this concern is for the next record, and if anything, Under the Mountain demonstrates with its urgency and ambition that this is a group not just working haphazardly toward whatever ends they may discover along the way. Instead, these tracks clearly indicate a group working as one unit with common goals, and listening to the finished product of Under the Mountain, it’s hard to imagine the first of those common goals hasn’t been realized.

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