Quarterly Review: Godflesh, Serpents of Secrecy, Vymaanika, Zong, Vitriol, Pillars, Lamp of the Universe & Kanoi, Azonic, Thousand Vision Mist, Arcadian Child

Posted in Reviews on January 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Today is the last day of The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review, and it’s kind of hard to believe it’s gone so fast. Before I put the Big Boot to the proceedings like Hulk Hogan getting ready to call it a day with an elbow drop at Wrestlemania — yup, just like that — I have to take a special moment to thank The Patient Mrs. for allowing me the time this week to bang out all of these reviews and get everything sorted on the back end, etc., for these posts. She, of course, as always, perpetually, has been unbelievable, and especially with The Pecan to manage, she’s earned her title more than ever. It is thoroughly, deeply, appreciated. Much love, baby. Thank you.

Okay, Big Boot time. Let’s do this thing.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Godflesh, Post Self

godflesh post self

Guitarist/vocalist/programmer Justin K. Broadrick and bassist BC Green return with Post Self, their second post-reunion full-length behind 2014’s A World Lit Only by Fire (review here) and a collection of churning electro-noise hymnals that work in a sphere that should by now be well familiar to their multi-generational fanbase. The groundbreaking industrial pioneers sound decidedly led by the guitar on the chugging “Parasite” and the airy, almost Jesu-style wash of “The Cyclic End,” but the intensity of the beat behind “No Body,” bass and noise onslaught of “Be God” and synth-driven soundscaping of “Mortality Sorrow” recall the sonic diversity that’s always been as much a part of Godflesh’s approach as their signature cyclical rhythmic style. More perhaps than ever, Broadrick and Green seem to be aware of what defines Godflesh as a band in terms of sound, and as they make the crucial move from a “reunion” band to a working one, they seem as glad as ever to push those boundaries once more.

Justin K. Broadrick on Thee Facebooks

Avalanche Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Serpents of Secrecy, Uncoiled: The Singles

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This two-song single may end up bring the only offering Serpents of Secrecy ever make public, and it was years in coming together. In December, the Chesapeake region group with members of Foghound, Borracho and King Giant suffered the loss of bassist Jim Forrester, who was murdered in Baltimore, and while a debut long-player was in discussion, to-date the five-piece have only issued “Warbird’s Song” and “The Cheat” as Uncoiled – The Singles, and obviously now any kind of follow-up is in question. Whether it’s the raucous burl of “Warbird’s Song” or the bluesy, organ-topped fluidity of “The Cheat,” the J. Robbins-produced tracks demonstrate the potential at heart from the lineup of vocalist Mark Lorenzo – who wound up in the role after members of Alabama Thunderpussy and Mister Bones vacated – guitarists Steve Fisher and Todd Ingram, Forrester and his former Sixty Watt Shaman bandmate Chuck Dukehart III. The only question at this point is whether that potential will ever see further realization. Right on as these songs are, I’m torn on the idea, to be honest.

Serpents of Secrecy on Thee Facebooks

Salt of the Earth Records website

 

Vymaanika, Spectroscope

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Multinational space rockers Vymaanika debut with the 20-minute two-songer Spectroscope EP, comprised of its 10-minute opening title-track and the subsequent “Golden Void,” which may or may not be named in honor of the side-project of Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell. I’d believe it either way. The band comprises members from Catalan – guitarist/vocalist/synthesis Carles Esteban and bassist Andrés Paniagua, Chile in drummer/synthesist Jose Jünemann, and the US in guitarist/vocalist/synthesis Benjamin Mahoney, but they all seem to have come together to record in Barcelona, and the breadth of “Spectroscope” and serene psychedelic mantra-making of “Golden Void” benefit from that band-in-the-room vibe. Especially so the latter, which touches early on vocal harmonies over drifting guitar strum, steady synth drone and percussive pulsations before building to a more active apex in its second half. After the cacophony taking hold in the back end of “Spectroscope,” it’s a clear demarcation of a varied sonic persona, and while I don’t know how often Vymaanika will be able to get everyone together with the geographic spread, it’s easy to be glad they did it for this first EP.

Vymaanika on Thee Facebooks

Vymaanika on Bandcamp

 

Zong, Zong

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Flowing arrangements abound on Zong’s self-titled four-track debut full-length. The Brisbane, Australia-based heavy psych three-piece are well within their genre sphere, but from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmic Embryo” (13:00) through “Arcane Sand” (8:10), the perhaps-Zardoz-referential “Giant Floating Head” (11:48) and closer “Return of the Alien King” (10:32), they demonstrate a natural chemistry, patience and warmth of tone that is no less comfortable in the march and lurch of its penultimate cut than in dug-in repetition-born hypnosis of the leadoff. Deceptively weighted from almost its beginning point with the low end of Michael Grinstead’s bass and the rolling drums of Henry Bennett, there’s also a balance of airiness from guitarist Adam Anderson that adds nuance when called upon to do so, though there are plenty of moments where Zong’s Zong seems perfectly content to cave-jam its far-out atmospheric fluidity. Not an ethic and not a result you’re going to hear me complain about.

Zong on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz Records webstore

Praying Mantis Records on Bandcamp

 

Vitriol, Pain Will Define Their Death

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Brutal tech-death pervades Vitriol’s first EP, Pain Will Define Their Death – a three-song onslaught the violence of which is writ large over every minute of its total 12. Sharing a penchant for opening to bigger-sounding choruses like that of its opening title-cut with peak-era Hate Eternal, the pummel factor, ultra-tense push and unmitigated viciousness eschews some of the more machine-like aspects of such technically-minded fare, and while Vitriol’s overarching groove, gutturalist execution and hammer-swing breakdowns are casting out their own assault on the aforementioned opener as well as the subsequent blast-laden “Victim” and “Violence, a Worthy Truth,” they’re working in service to songcraft much more than to an indulgent showcase of prowess, and that makes all the difference in terms of the material’s ultimate impact. That impact? When was the last time you were actually kicked in the face? Nothing if not aptly named, Vitriol’s death metal seethes and rages in kind and bodes remarkably well for future manifest devastation.

Vitriol on Thee Facebooks

Vitriol on Bandcamp

 

Pillars, Pyres and Gallows

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Hailing classic doom and darker atmospheres, French four-piece Pillars debut on Seeing Red Records via the Pyres and Gallows EP. Its four songs run a gamut of traditional grooves, but lumber with a balance between their rawness and a spirit of underlying riffy nuance that adds texture beneath the gruff, dudely vocals of frontman Klem, the tones of guitarist Djé and bassist Disaster well suited to the plodding companionship of drummer JJ on a song like the problematically-titled second cut “Dirty Whoreshippers” or the 10-minute title-track that rounds out. At 33 minutes, I’m not sure what’s stopping Pyres and Gallows from being a full-length, but if that’s a hint that Pillars have more to say going forward, then fair enough. They may be preaching to the converted in these tracks, but they’re doing so in righteous fashion and with a sense of their own identity under development. Doom on? Yeah, totally doom on. By all means. Please do.

Pillars on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

Lamp of the Universe & Kanoi, Split

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Among the fascinating factors at work on this cross-continental Clostridium Records split release between long-running New Zealand acid folk outfit Lamp of the Universe and Austrian psychedelic fuzz purveyor Kanoi is the fact that both parties involved are solo-projects. For Lamp of the Universe’s Craig Williamson (also Arc of Ascent), he brings three tracks of his signature drenched-wet lysergism in “In the Beginning,” “The Cosmic Body Track,” “Father” and “Space Chant,” while Kanoi’s Benjamin Kantschieder revisits two cuts from 2016’s Mountains of the Sun full-length in the extended “I’m Gone (I’m Gone)” and “Mountains of the Sun” itself. The novelty of having two single parties match wits on such fluid arrangements – my head always begs for collaboration in these instances – is offset by the quality of their work itself. Neither is new to their sphere, but both seem keen to continue to experiment and explore, and it’s from that commonality that the split most benefits.

Lamp of the Universe on Bandcamp

Kanoi on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records website

 

Azonic, Prospect of the Deep Volume One

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The first Azonic offering since the mid-‘90s finds Brooklyn-based experimentalist Andy Hawkins reviving the project alongside his Blind Idiot God bandmate Tim Wyskida as a melding of drone/noise and percussive ideas. Released through Hawkins’ own Indivisible Music, Prospect of the Deep Volume One – pretty ambitious to put a “volume one” in the title of your first record in 20-plus years – presents two expansive works in “Oblivion of the Deep” (18:53) and “The Argonauts Reckoning” (18:42) as well as the CD bonus track “Voices of the Drowned” (10:12) that brim with atmospheric intent and have an underlying sense of control on the part of Hawkins that speaks to some measure of steering what might in other hands simply feel like sonic chaos. You can hear it early into “The Argonauts Reckoning,” as the layered wash seems to want to fly off the rails and swell and Hawkins’ guitar simply doesn’t let it go, but it’s true elsewhere on Prospect of the Deep Volume One as well, and in listening, it’s the difference between the album being a joy in the immersion, which it is, and a self-indulgent misfire, which it very much is not.

Azonic on Thee Facebooks

Indivisible Music website

 

Thousand Vision Mist, Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow

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Named for the lone 2002 full-length from Maryland doomers Life Beyond, in which guitarist/vocalist Danny Kenyon also featured, newcomer trio Thousand Vision Mist debut with the progressive-leaning edge of Journey to Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow, a 52-minute 10-tracker. Yes, Rush are a factor in terms of influence. However, propelled by the drumming of Chris Sebastian, whose frenetic snare adds a Mastodonic feel to “Headstones Throw,” the otherwise classic-vibing “Final Flight of Fall” and the later “Darklight,” among others, the cumbersomely-titled offering sets its balance between modern prog metal, doom and classic heavy rock, with bassist Tony Comulada adding vocal harmonies alongside Kenyon and providing a needed anchor to keep songs like the penultimate “Skybound and Beyond” from actually taking off and leaving their audience behind. Reportedly long in the works, Journey to Ascension and the Loss of Tomorrow isn’t a minor digestion process at its busy and extended runtime, but while the recording is raw, there’s no shortage of fodder for engagement throughout its swath of choruses and head-spinning turns.

Thousand Vision Mist on Thee Facebooks

Thousand Vision Mist on Bandcamp

 

Arcadian Child, Afterglow

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Though not at all without its more driving aspects, some of the most satisfying moments on Arcadian Child’s debut album, Afterglow, come from a soothing hook like that of “Rabbit Hole,” which finds the Cypriot four-piece more fully embodying a laid back desert rock atmosphere that underpins the Fatso Jetson-esque opener “She’s on My Mind” and subsequent “Little Late for Love.” As the feels-short-at-29-minutes record unfolds, “Electric Red” blends fuzz and Mediterranean rhythmic push, “Irresistible” toys with layered swirl beneath a solidly-weighted verse and chorus, “Run” makes itself a highlight around a post-Lullabies to Paralyze atmospheric lead and start-stop riff, and the title-track casts momentum in melody and groove into closer “Used,” which pays one more welcome visit to the more serene side of their personality before they’re done. It might be a sleeper, but I’d be surprised if someone didn’t pick Afterglow up for a vinyl release sooner or later; the songwriting, performance, presentation and potential for future growth are all there waiting to be found by the right ears.

Arcadian Child on Thee Facebooks

Arcadian Child on Bandcamp

 

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Serpents of Secrecy Sign to Salt of the Earth Records; New Singles Posted; Playing Maryland Doom Fest

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

serpents-of-secrecy-Photo-by-Shane-Gardner

The path to a debut release from Baltimore-based supergroup Serpents of Secrecy has been particularly fraught. And granted, if you asked them, I doubt that’s what the band would want to focus on, but between lineup changes, legal threats, dissolved reunions of other outfits, the usual writing and recording travails, and medical issues that even this month threatened to derail their impending performance at Maryland Doom Fest 2017, they’ve been through their dose of shit and then some. It’s been half a decade since guitarist Todd “T.I.” Ingram of King Giant got together with bassist Rev. Jim Forrester of Sixty Watt Shaman (who’s also joined Foghound in the interim) and started writing, and this weekend, at the aforementioned Maryland Doom Fest, they’ll issue Uncoiled – The Singles, a limited-run two-song CD, as a celebration of signing to Salt of the Earth Records. It’s great news, but the timeline is telling.

Nonetheless, to listen to “Warbird’s Song” and “The Cheat” from the burl-rocking five-piece’s recording session with J. Robbins at the Magpie Cage, they hardly sound bogged down. With vocalist Mark Lorenzo at the fore with a throaty delivery, the propulsive drumming of Chuck Dukehart III (also ex-Sixty Watt Shaman/current Foghound), and the additional tonal boost from guitarist Steve Fisher (also of Borracho), Serpents of Secrecy come across as vibrant and charged. The mission and the songwriting are aligned: kick ass, take names, forget the names, kick more ass. “The Cheat” is a little more laid back in its roll, but works well to show a dynamic long-established between Forrester and Dukehart in the rhythm section around which the others have positioned themselves, riffs and vocals creating a mood over the solid foundation that’s at once emotionally resonant and rife with dudely push.

Either later this year or early next, Serpents of Secrecy will issue their first album, Ave Vindicta, via Salt of the Earth, as fitting labelmates for the likes of EarthrideCortez and Scissorfight. As an initial public offering, Uncoiled – The Singles makes a righteous impression in groove and force, and those fortunate enough to catch them either at Maryland Doom Fest this weekend or elsewhere between now and whenever the record surfaces would do well to heed the warning. They’ve been a long time coming, but it would seem Serpents of Secrecy are finally ready to arrive.

Forrester and Ingram comment on the signing below, and here’s more background as well on the band’s origins, along of course with the streaming tracks:

serpents-of-secrecy-uncoiled-the-singles

SERPENTS OF SECRECY signs with Salt of the Earth Records!

Rev. Jim Forrester on Serpents of Secrecy & Salt of the Earth:

Well over four years ago, Todd and I started writing this material, Chuck finding the swing and us orchestrating this beast. We’ve been through a lot of personal hardship and tragedy, most of the material coming out this first wave and upcoming album was born of tumultuous times, a lot of emotion, anger, and pain, as well as strength and perseverance. It was a long road to get to this point, but as Steve and Mark joined the fray, it all started taking shape. This is more than a band. We’ve become a family, with powerful music and a message of never giving up, barreling everyone’s way. I couldn’t be happier. It’s a culmination. It’s time.

I can say with great pride and certainty that Scott Harrington (SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS owner) has been a true friend and brother to me over the years, stood by me through some truly trying times, and was very instrumental in the creation of Serpents of Secrecy in its formative stages. It makes complete sense that Salt of the Earth Records is where we call home now and staked our claim to bring this first collection of songs to the world.

Todd Ingram on Serpents of Secrecy:

No matter what circumstances or events threatened to derail this band, as many times as we’ve had to start over, Jim and I persevered because we believe in these songs. And now with the addition of Mark and Steve the chemistry, work ethic and attitude have only opened more possibilities and accelerated the writing process. We’re wrapping up the final touches to album number one. So now our biggest problem is the getting the songs we’re writing now recorded. It’s a good problem to have.

Serpents of Secrecy – Uncoiled at Maryland Doom Fest

“Uncoiled – The Singles” contains two tracks, “Warbirds Song” & “The Cheat” from the upcoming SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS release “Ave Vindicta.”

CD SINGLE release: 6/24/17 at Maryland Doom Fest 2017, Cafe 611, Frederick, MD.

Album Release: Winter late 2017/early 2018

Produced by J Robbins & Serpents of Secrecy. Recorded at Magpie Cage Studios Baltimore, MD. Keyboard tracking at Empire Studios,Windsor Ontario Canada.

Mixed at Magpie Cage Studios, Baltimore, MD. Mastered by Dan Coutant at Sun Room Audio, New Windsor, NY.

The origin of SERPENTS OF SECRECY dates back to 2012. With the original lineup consisting of Rev Jim, Chuck Dukeheart III, Todd Ingram and Johnny Throckmorton (Alabama Thunderpussy) on vocals and also Aaron Lewis (Buzzard Canyon/when the deadbolt breaks) on guitar.

The Rev got sick and for awhile and Serpents Of Secrecy was just Rev and Todd writing material. This is when the Sixty Watt Shaman reunion shows came calling, so SoS was put on hold in order to support those shows. But when Sixty Watt Shaman failed to sustain itself, Serpents Of Secrecy was reignited. After months of writing and recording with a well known vocalist at the helm, the physical distance between the singer and the bands respective countries proved to be too big of a hurdle and the vocalist resigned.

Lots of musicians would be deterred by the setback, but Serpents Of Secrecy used this to feed their creative fire, and that’s when Mark Lorenzo was discovered. Amazing voice, great songwriting and one helluva stage presence… Mark has indelibly carved his spot out in SERPENTS OF SECRECY. The band now rounded out with the addition of master riff slinger Steve Fisher (Borracho) to form a must see dual guitar team… and SERPENTS OF SECRECY is ready to take over.

Serpents of Secrecy is:
Rev. Jim Forrester – Bass
Todd Ingram – Guitar
Chuck Dukehart III – Drums
Mark Lorenzo – Vocals
Steve Fisher – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/serpentsofsecrecy/
https://serpentsofsecrecy.bandcamp.com/album/uncoiled-the-singles
saltoftheearthrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/

Serpents of Secrecy, Uncoiled – The Singles (2017)

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