Pale Divine Announce New Self-Titled LP

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

pale divine

A new Pale Divine record does not come along every day. It’s been six years since the Glen Mills, PA-based trio issued their last full-length, Painted Windows Black (review here), so yeah, if you believe in due, they’re due. The new album, which will be the first since Ron “Fezz” McGinnis stepped into the bassist role, seemingly permanently, alongside guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey. Over the last few years, they’ve been regulars at the Maryland Doom Fest and also appeared at Doom in June, Vultures of Volume and at the Brooklyn stop of the Tour of the Doomed last August with Sheavy and Beezefuzz, the latter of which also boasts both Diener and McCloskey in its lineup.

Doomers don’t need me to tell them that the prospect of a Pale Divine LP being released at some point this year is automatically something worth keeping an eye out for. There isn’t an exact date given by the band or the label, which is the venerable Shadow Kingdom Records, but when I find out more I’ll let you know. Till then, dig the art by Brad Moore and the tracklisting:

PALE DIVINE S/T

Via Shadow Kingdom Records: PALE DIVINE – Self Titled album (Coming in 2018) will be the band’s greatest representation of their entire career with all fresh new music! Awesome artwork done by the incredible Brad Moore. AND we brought back their classic band logo! Enjoy!

Via Pale Divine: BEHOLD! Here is the cover art (courtesy of Brad Moore) and final track listing for our new album coming out later this year on Shadow Kingdom Records.

“All I can say is its a bit different from past releases,” says bassist Ron “Fezzy” McGinnis. “It’s taken us a good amount of time. We really put a lot of thought and effort into these songs and I think we have done something special. We are hoping the fans dig it.”

Pale Divine – S/T
(2018, SKR159)

Tracklisting:
1. Spinning Wheel
2. Bleeding Soul
3. Chemical Decline
4. So Low
5. Curse the Shadows
6. Shades of Blue
7. Silver tongue
8. Ship of Fools

Pale Divine is:
Greg Diener – vocals & guitar
Ron “Fezzy” McGinnis – bass & vocals
Darin McCloskey – drums

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http://www.paledivineband.com/
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https://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/

Pale Divine, Painted Windows Black (2012)

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Quarterly Review: Eagle Twin, Wight, Sundrifter, Holy Mushroom, Iron and Stone, Black Capricorn, Owl Maker, Troll, Malditos, The Freak Folk of Mangrovia

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

I’m pretty sure this Quarterly Review — life eater that it is — is going to wind up being six days long. That means next Monday look for sixth installment, another batch of 10 records, which were not hard to come by among everything that’s come in lately for review. I do my best to keep up, often to little avail — some random act’s Bandcamp page starts trending and all of a sudden they’re the best band ever, which hey, they’re probably not and that’s okay too. Anyhowzer, I’m trying is the point. Hopefully another 10 records added into this Quarterly Review underscores that notion.

More coffee. More albums. Let’s rock.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn)

eagle twin the thundering heard songs of hoof and horn

Consuming tones, throat-sung blues, a wash of lumbering doom – yes, it’s quite a first three minutes on Eagle Twin’s The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn). Released by Southern Lord, it’s the Salt Lake City duo’s first outing since 2012’s The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (discussed here), which arrived three years after their 2009 debut, The Unkindness of Crows (review here). Once again, the four-song outing finds guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley and drummer Tyler Smith exploring the natural order and the natural world the 11-minute “Quanah un Rama” and the 14-minute “Antlers of Lightning” bookend “Elk Wolfv Hymn” (8:22) and album highlight “Heavy Hood” (7:21), creating an ever-more immersive and grit-laden flow across the album’s span. It’s hard to know if Densley and Smith are the hunters or the hunted here, but the tones are massive enough to make YOB blush, the rhythms are hypnotic and the use they’re both put to is still unlike anything else out there, ending after the chaos and assault of low end on “Antlers of Lightning” with a moment of contemplative guitar lead, as if to remind us of our solitary place in imagining ourselves at the top of the food chain.

Eagle Twin on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion

wight fusion rock invasion

One wonders what it might’ve been like to see Wight on the 2015 tour on which the Bilocation Records-issued vinyl-only Fusion Rock Invasion: Live Over Europe was captured. Still a year out from releasing their third album, Love is Not Only What You Know (review here), the former trio had already become a four-piece with guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist René Hofmann, bassist Peter-Philipp Schierhorn and drummer Thomas Kurek bringing in percussionist Steffen Kirchpfening and already undertaken the funkier aesthetic turn that LP would represent coming off of 2012’s Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here). At least I’d think it would be something of a surprise as the band hit into “Helicopter Mama” and “The Muse & the Mule” and “Kelele,” which comprise side A of Fusion Rock Invasion, but by all appearances listening to the crowd response between songs, they seem into it. Who could argue? Wight’s groove in those songs as well as the older “Master of Nuggets” and Love is Not Only What You Know finale “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation” on side B, are infectious in their grooves and the soul put into them is genuine and unmistakable. One more reason I wouldn’t have minded being there, I suppose.

Wight on Thee Facebooks

Wight at Bilocation Records

 

Sundrifer, Visitations

sundrifter visitations

Name your bet someone picks up Sundrifter’s Visitations for a proper release. The Boston three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Craig Peura, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan impress in performance, aesthetic and craft across the nine songs and 48 minute of their for-now-self-released debut long-player, and whether it’s Queenan dipping into blastbeats on “Targeted” or Gaughran’s rumble on the Soundgarden-gone-doom “Fire in the Sky” or the fuzz that leads the charge on the Queens of the Stone Age-style “Hammerburn,” Peura doing a decent Josh Homme along the way, each member proves to add something to a whole greater than the sum of its parts and that is able to take familiar elements and use them to hone an individualized atmosphere. In the wake of melodically engaged Boston acts like Gozu, Sundrifter would seem to be a focused newcomer with a solidified mindset of who they are as a group. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised either if they kept growing their sound. Something about the psychedelic distance in “Fire in the Sky” and “I Want to Leave,” says there’s forward movement yet to be had.

Sundrifter on Thee Facebooks

Sundrifter on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Moon

holy mushroom moon

Serenity and presence. There’s no shortage of either on the second Holy Mushroom full-length, Moon. Incorporating the prior-issued digital single “Éufrates,” the five-track/43-minute excursion is rife with natural-toned psychedelic resonance, marked out by organ/piano working alongside the guitar (see “Birdwax Blues”), as well as guest contributions of double bass and saxophone, and other sundry moments of depth-creating flourish. Their trance-effect is palpable, and Moon is an easy album to get lost in, especially as the Spanish three-piece make their way through 12:35 centerpiece “The Preacher,” moving from a dreamy opening line of guitar into funk-laden heft that only pushes forward with Hendrixian abandon through a massive jam before rounding out sweetly with vocals over background organ and sweetly-strummed guitar. “Éufrates” would seem to start the same way, but varies the structure in more of a back and forth format before closer “Grand Finale in the Blind Desert” brings both Holy Mushroom’s most patient execution and their most vibrant jam (sax included), essentially building from the one into the other to end the album in energetic fashion. To say it works for them would be underselling it.

Holy Mushroom on Thee Facebooks

Holy Mushroom on Bandcamp

 

Iron and Stone, Petrichor

iron and stone petrichor

A debut long-player of no-pretense, no-nonsense sludge-infused doom, Petrichor (on Backbite Records) shows German five-piece Iron and Stone as ready to follow where the riff will lead them. The late 2017 album is a solidly-delivered 10 tracks and 43 minutes that strikes mostly in monochrome intent, save perhaps for the acoustic “Interlude” near the midpoint. Their 2015 EP, Old Man’s Doom (review here), was similarly upfront in its purposes, but carrying across a full-length – especially a debut – is a different beast from a shorter outing. Their heavier push on “Monolith” is welcome and the break-then-chug of “Deserts” does plenty to satisfy, but Petrichor might require a couple concerted listens to really sink in on its audience, though as I’ve said time and again, if you can’t handle repetition, you can’t handle doom. Iron and Stone effectively balance traditional doom and rawer sludge groove, playing fluidly to whichever suits their purposes at a given moment.

Iron and Stone on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records webstore

 

Black Capricorn, Omega

black capricorn omega

Sardinian doom cult Black Capricorn push well beyond the limits of the manageable with their 95-minute fourth album, Omega (released Nov. 2017 on Stone Stallion Rex), and that’s clearly the idea. The three-piece of bassist Virginia, drummer Rakela and guitarist/vocalist Kjxu offer grim ambience and tempos that sound slow regardless of their actual speed. That said, the 17-minute “Antartide” is an accomplishment as regards crawl. After a sweetly melancholic opening of guitar, it lurches and lumbers out its miserable heft until a return to that intro bookends. Even shorter tracks like “Flower of Revelation” or “Stars of Orion” hold firm to the tenet of plod, and though the results are obviously a lot to take in, the idea that it should be a slog seems all the more appropriate to Black Capricorn’s style. The band, which hits the decade mark in 2018, churn out one last bit of wretchedness in the nine-minute closing title-track before giving way to an acoustic finish, as if to remind that Omega’s sorrows are conveyed as much through atmosphere as actual sonic heft.

Black Capricorn on Thee Facebooks

Stone Stallion Rex website

 

Owl Maker, Paths of the Slain

owl maker paths of the slain

Guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli, also of malevolent doomers Vestal Claret, leads the new trio Owl Maker, and in the company of bassist Jessie May and drummer Chris Anderson, he embarks on a heavy rock push of six tracks with the debut EP, Paths of the Slain, still holding to some elements of metal, whether it’s the double-kick in opener “Ride with Aileen” or the backing vocals and guitar solo of the subsequent “99.” Songwriting is clearheaded across the EP’s 23 minutes, and in terms of first impressions, “Mashiara” shows a focus on melody that retains a metallic poise without losing its riff-driven edge. The balance shifts throughout “Freya’s Chariot” and the all-go “Witches,” the latter of which touches on black metal in its first half before turning on a dime to mid-paced heavy rock, and closer “Lady Stoneheart” nods in its back end to NWOBHM gallop, as Owl Maker seem to tip their audience to the fact that they’re just getting started on their exploration of the many interpretations of heavy.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Troll, Troll

troll troll

When one considers the multiple connotations of the word, Portland’s Troll are definitely going more for “lives under a bridge” than “meddling in elections” when it comes to their sound. Their self-titled debut EP, issued in 2017 before being picked up by respected purveyor Shadow Kingdom Records for a 2018 CD/tape release, is a highlight offering of classic-style doom worthy of Orodruin and Pilgrim comparisons and headlined by the vocal performance of John, who carries songs like opener “The Summoning” and the later, more swinging “Infinite Death” in a manner impressive in both frontman presence and melodic range. His work is only bolstered by the riffs of guitarist Lou and the consistent groove held together by bassist Wayne and drummer Ryan, whose drive in centerpiece “An Eternal Haunting” is neither overdone nor incongruous with the wall its tempo hits, and who meld shuffle and plod on closer “Savage Thunder” with naturalist ease. Potential abounds, and they reportedly already have new material in the works, so all the better.

Troll on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Malditos, II

malditos ii
Some bands, you just have to accept the fact that they’re on a different wavelength and that’s all there is to it. Magma. Master Musicians of Bukkake. Circle. Enter Oakland, California’s Malditos, whose sophomore outing, II: La Réve, arrives via Svart Records. From bizarre psychedelic chants to ritualized repetitions that seems to be daring you to play them backwards on your turntable, the spiritual freakout to songs like “Azadeh” and the penultimate “Momen” is palpable. Reach out and touch it and it will ripple like water in front of you. A sense of space is filled with elements alternatingly horrifying and engrossing, and after they make their way through “Le Passage” and centerpiece “Disparu” and wind up in the title-track to close out, the journey to the final wash of noise gives the distinct impression that for neither the listener nor the band is there any coming back. High order head trippery. Will simply be too much for some, will gloriously expand the minds of others.

Malditos on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records webstore

 

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach

the freak folk of mangrovia sonic meditations live at palach

I don’t know how much improvisation is a factor in the sound of The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, but the Croation collective bring an ultra-organic presence to their perhaps-debut release, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach. The group, which seems also to have gone under the names Marko Mushan & the Mangrovian Orchestra and The Free Folk of Mangrovia, was opening for Acid Mothers Temple that night, and Sonic Meditations mostly breaks down into parts – “Sonic Meditation I,” “II,” “III” and “IV” – before the band closes out with “’Mangrovian Summer,” all the while with The Freak Folk of Mangrovia making their way through progressive dreamscapes, dripping with effects and spacious enough to house an entire Mangrovian village, however big that might be. It is otherworldly and jazzy and moves with such fluidity that the entire “Sonic Meditation” becomes one overarching piece, complemented by the closing “Mangrovian Summer,” which ebbs and flows through louder, more active jamming before capping in a wash of noise.

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Thee Facebooks

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Bandcamp

 

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Robespierre Premiere Track from Debut Album Garden of Hell

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

robespierre

One doubts that when it comes right down to it, the two members of Robespierre are evil, or monsters, or even men of violence, as they assert repeatedly in “Men of Violence.” More likely they’re just normal guys: jobs, families, etc., but if their debut album, Garden of Hell — issued via the respectable tastes of Shadow Kingdom Records — is any indicator, they at least know how to wield a hook. The narrative (blessings and peace upon it) holds that guitarist/vocalist David Cooke and drummer Gordon Logan circulated a demo tape circa 1983, private press-style. Went to friends of the band and probably a couple lucky few who went out to shows in the band’s native Liverpool. There was a second demo as well that had even less distribution, and after they showed up and gained some traction online, the two were compiled together on 2011’s Die, You Heathen, Die! with the first four-track demo on side A and the second, from about a year later, on side B. Thus it was that nearly 30 years after their original circulation, Robespierre‘s work finally saw official release. They may or may not be evil, but they’re certainly patient one way or the other.

After this, there was only one thing to do: make a proper album. Thus, some seven years later and some 35 after the band’s original founding in 1983, they offer their first full-length. Garden of Evil tries to make up for lost time with a robespierre garden of hell10-track/48-minute run that, furled by cuts like the opening salvo of the driving “Punish Oppressors,” “Mare of Steel,” and the more decidedly doomed “Dwelling in the Shadows,” with a creeper riff and chorus worthy of the classic metal grit with which it’s presented. Of course, those more familiar with the totality of the NWOBHM know that it wasn’t all major label sheen and motorcycles on stage, and Robespierre‘s raw tones and rawer production remind of classic metal born of a decades-thriving underground producing cuts like “Feel the Fire” driven by little more than the passion for creation, the desire to pay homage to one’s heroes — bit of Sabbath crunch to the opening riff of “The Black Mirror” — and the expression is disaffection, melancholy, whatever it might be. Taking their moniker from an influential figure in the French Revolution, Robespierre aren’t without a social edge, as both “Punish Oppressors” and “Men of Violence” showcase at the outset of each side, but at its core Garden of Hell is metal for the orthodox among the converted, be that those who were there the first time around during the NWOBHM or those who simply wish they could’ve been.

As to just how Robespierre managed to pull off such a classic sound, I wish I knew. There are plenty of heavy rock and metal bands out there who use “vintage” gear and recording methods at affect that kind of cultish ambience, but as the band make their way through “Dagon Rises” and the start-stop stomping “Fear,” toward the closing duo of “Welcome to the Cult” and “I am a Flower (In the Garden of Hell),” which arguably are the album’s two most immersive tracks, they do so not with overblown hyperposturing of sound, but with naturalist, dirt-under-the-fingernails metallurgy. It’s not that they sound as though no time has passed, just that they make that passage of time irrelevant through their structures, presentation and performance. As “I am a Flower (In the Garden of Hell)” dooms its way to its ending with a classy final solo giving way to a few strumming acoustic chords, the sense of Robespierre as a classic metal band is less about the superficialities of their sound and more about the clear measure of heart put into ever single one of these tracks. I don’t know if Robespierre will do another record, or if they do, how they might attempt to modernize (or not modernize) their sound, but the level of catharsis in finally putting out a full-length after 35 years must be staggering, and they’ve done justice to that span in their songwriting and atmosphere.

Robespierre‘s Garden of Hell is out now on Shadow Kingdom, but this is the first time this song has been streamed. You’ll find it on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

SHADOW KINGDOM RECORDS is proud to present the LONG-awaited debut album of ROBESPIERRE, Garden of Hell. A cult name among NWOBHM diehards, ROBESPIERRE were actually active during the original NWOBHM movement, recording two demos in 1983 that remained unreleased or circulated only among close contacts. Those two demos were released in 2011 as the Die You Heathen, Die! compilation, introducing the Liverpool band to a whole new generation lusting for vintage heavy metal sounds. However, ROBESPIERRE never recorded a proper debut album – until now! Indeed sounding like nearly four decades haven’t passed, Garden of Hell brims with that musky ‘n’ musty scent of classic NWOBHM: traditional and totally METAL songwriting, with hooks piled high and no small amount of grit.

And like a few of their original NWOBHM contemporaries, ROBESPIERRE are keen on dipping into doom – like, really DOOMED-OUT doom that plods like tombstones slowly falling over and enveloping the listener in an ancient haze. Similarly, the band’s forward momentum is brisk but never too aggressive, in exchange exuding a rare sense of class and allowing the subtle textures of their endless hooks to sparkle in the night. Above all, Garden of Hell is aptly titled: for all the raucous rockin’ going on, there’s an ever-present atmosphere of supernatural horror dusting nearly every note. A ROBESPIERRE album has been a long time coming, but no better time than now than to step into the Garden of Hell!

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Robespierre at Shadow Kingdom Records Bandcamp

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Troll to Release Self-Titled Debut March 16 on Shadow Kingdom

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

troll

Schooled in the mystical doom of old, Portland four-piece Troll will reissue their self-titled debut on March 16 via Shadow Kingdom Records. Nothing else to really say about this one beyond ‘fucking a.’ Not that Shadow Kingdom needed to do anything to flaunt its taste in trad doom at this point — they’re already putting out Iron Void this year, plus, you know, there’s the their-whole-catalog thing to consider — but Troll do make for an exceedingly cool pickup. The vibe is heavy, the tones, melodies and groove likewise, but there’s still something eerie beneath the roll of “The Witch” that, so much to the band’s credit, doesn’t sound like a cult rock put-on or play to genre. They just nailed the balance. And as ever, Shadow Kingdom knows righteous fare when it hears it. So much respect.

Troll‘s Troll is out March 16 on CD and tape, and as the PR wire informs, the band is at work on a follow-up. Dig it:

troll troll

Portland’s TROLL to have debut album reissued by SHADOW KINGDOM, preparing second album

Shadow Kingdom Records sets March 16th as the international release date for the reissue of Troll’s cult self-titled debut album on CD and cassette tape formats.

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Troll released their first demo in 2015. Not long after came Troll, their debut album, which was originally self-released on cassette tape. Its original edition sold out quickly, and soon came to the attention of Shadow Kingdom. Duly impressed, the label simply had to release Troll’s album on wider-available physical formats and get the band the attention they so truly deserve.

And even just one spin through Troll and you can immediately detect the magic coursing through Troll’s molten stomp. Reverently within the doom spectrum, there’s a particularly swampy groove to their thundering chunder that’s less like something rooted in the American South and more like primordial ooze that’s been bubbling eerily since time immemorial. Likewise, Troll largely steer clear of regular rock-rooted verse/chorus structures and instead build rolling, rumbling epics that nod to classic prog more often than not. But, let it be known that Troll has a wealth of hooks across its concise and fully satisfying 34-minute runtime – and much of that stems from frontman John, whose pipes have that hauntingly forlorn quality of Ozzy in his early ’70s prime.

Ready for a trip through the eldritch slime? Then hop on the shoulders of this Troll! A brand-new Troll album will be released by Shadow Kingdom later this year. In the meantime, stream the entirety of Troll HERE at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp, where the album can be preordered.

Tracklisting for Troll’s Troll
1. The Summoning
2. The Witch
3. An Eternal Haunting
4. Infinite Death
5. Savage Thunder

Troll is:
John – Vocals
Lou – Guitars
Ryan – Drums
Wayne – Bass

www.facebook.com/trollPDX
https://trollpdx.bandcamp.com/
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords

Troll, Troll (2018 reissue)

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Iron Void Stream “The Coming of a King”: Excalibur Details Announced

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

iron void

If the classic-style chug of the first audio to be made public from Iron Void‘s forthcoming Excalibur album doesn’t get you stoked on the idea of hearing the rest of the record, you might as well resign your doomly commission now. “The Coming of a King” is a beacon of doom for doomers, a brook-no-argument execution of style that feeds into a concept narrative based around the story of King Arthur that from where I sit has the potential to be one of 2018’s best traditional doom LPs. Yup, I know it’s gonna be a long year and like all of them, it’s going to be filled with quality riffing. But seriously, just listen to that track. Must-haves hardly ever seem so obvious.

Excalibur doesn’t have an exact release date yet, but will be out early in the New Year as Iron Void‘s third LP and debut release for Shadow Kingdom Records. The PR wire has art, track details and the stream of “The Coming of a King,” which you’ll find at the bottom of this post.

Have at it:

iron void excalibur

IRON VOID reveal first track, cover, tracklisting for new SHADOW KINGDOM album – due early next year

Doom titans Iron Void reveal the first track, cover art, and tracklisting to their highly anticipated third album, Excalibur, which will be released during the first quarter of 2018 by new label home Shadow Kingdom Records. A mainstay of the UK doom metal scene, Excalibur is the album by which Iron Void will truly be launched onto the world stage. “The Coming of a King,” the first track to be revealed from Excalibur, can be heard exclusively HERE.

Iron Void was originally formed by Jonathan “Sealey” Seale and Andy Whittaker (Solstice, The Lamp of Thoth) in 1998 in order to create an old-school doom metal band, worshiping at the altar of doom legends such as Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, etc. The band reformed in 2008, with the current lineup consisting of Jonathan “Sealey” Seale (bass & vocals), Steve Wilson (guitars & vocals), and Richard Maw (drums).

Iron Void’s debut EP, Spell of Ruin, was originally released on CD in 2010 and re-released in 2012 via Doomanoid Records. Their self-titled debut full-length album was released on CD in 2014 via Barbarian Wrath and released on limited-edition vinyl by Fear Me! Music in 2015. The critically acclaimed second album, Doomsday – recorded & produced at Skyhammer Studio by Chris Fielding (Conan, Winterfylleth, Electric Wizard) and mastered by James Plotkin – was released on CD via Doomanoid Records in 2015 and released on limited gatefold vinyl via Fear Me! Music in 2016.

With considerable live action in the past few years as well, and encouraged by the critical acclaim heaped upon Doomsday, Iron Void patiently set to work on Excalibur. Arguably the band’s magnum opus, Excalibur is an epic behemoth of Arthurian legend, emitting an atmosphere that’s truly medieval whilst sacrificing whilst sacrificing none of their trademark DOOMED-OUT heaviness. Here, across the album’s massive yet strangely concise 48 minutes, Iron Void weave old-as-time tales of myth and magic, all set to rumbling, dramatically dynamic doom metal. The album is sequenced together with a subtle sort of mastery, taking the listener on a journey into centuries past, all concluding with the stark ‘n’ stirring acoustic closer “Avalon.” As the final notes ring out, you’ll be reaching for the calendar to check what year it is!

The first track to be revealed from Excalibur is “The Coming of a King,” which can be heard HERE at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp, where the album can also be preordered. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Iron Void’s Excalibur
1. Dragon’s Breath
2. The Coming of a King
3. Lancelot of the Lake
4. Forbidden Love
5. Enemy Within
6. The Grail Quest
7. A Dream to Some, A Nightmare to Others
8. The Death of Arthur
9. Avalon

www.facebook.com/ironvoid
www.ironvoid.bandcamp.com
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords

Iron Void, “The Coming of a King”

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Iron Void Sign to Shadow Kingdom Records; Excalibur out in 2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Hells yes. I had the extreme pleasure of watching Wakefield, UK, trio Iron Void take the stage earlier this year at second night of the inaugural Emerald Haze festival (review here) in Dublin, Ireland, and they were an unbridled revelry of classic doom at its best. Seriously, dudes killed it. I’ve been keeping my eye open since as they’ve been in the process of making their next record to follow-up on 2015’s sophomore outing, Doomsday, and the word that they’ve signed to Shadow Kingdom Records to issue what’s been dubbed Excalibur could hardly be more welcome as far as I’m concerned. Primo doom on an imprint with what I consider to be an unfuckwithable reputation for taste in same? Shit, I feel validated in Iron Void getting picked up by Shadow Kingdom. I can only imagine how the band itself actually feels.

Excalibur will be out sometime in 2018. Whenever it is, call it “not nearly soon enough” and that should about cover it. Prepare for doom!

From the PR wire:

iron void shadow kingdom

IRON VOID sign with SHADOW KINGDOM, new album set for next year

Shadow Kingdom Records announces the signing of Iron Void. The first fruit of this union shall be the band’s highly anticipated third album, Excalibur. A mainstay of the UK doom metal scene, Excalibur is the album by which Iron Void will truly be launched onto the world stage. The album shall be released during the first quarter of 2018 via Shadow Kingdom.

Iron Void was originally formed by Jonathan “Sealey” Seale and Andy Whittaker (Solstice, The Lamp of Thoth) in 1998 in order to create an old-school doom metal band, worshiping at the altar of doom legends such as Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Pentagram, etc. The band reformed in 2008, with the current lineup consisting of Jonathan “Sealey” Seale (bass & vocals), Steve Wilson (guitars & vocals), and Richard Maw (drums).

Iron Void’s debut EP, Spell of Ruin, was originally released on CD in 2010 and re-released in 2012 via Doomanoid Records. Their self-titled debut full-length album was released on CD in 2014 via Barbarian Wrath and released on limited-edition vinyl by Fear Me! Music in 2015. The critically acclaimed second album, Doomsday – recorded & produced at Skyhammer Studio by Chris Fielding (Conan, Winterfylleth, Electric Wizard) and mastered by James Plotkin – was released on CD via Doomanoid Records in 2015 and released on limited gatefold vinyl via Fear Me! Music in 2016.

With considerable live action in the past few years as well, and encouraged by the critical acclaim heaped upon Doomsday, Iron Void patiently set to work on Excalibur. Arguably the band’s magnum opus, Excalibur is an epic behemoth of Arthurian legend, emitting an atmosphere that’s truly medieval whilst sacrificing whilst sacrificing none of their trademark DOOMED-OUT heaviness. Here, across the album’s massive yet strangely concise 48 minutes, Iron Void weave old-as-time tales of myth and magic, all set to rumbling, dramatically dynamic doom metal. The album is sequenced together with a subtle sort of mastery, taking the listener on a journey into centuries past, all concluding with the stark ‘n’ stirring acoustic closer “Avalon.” As the final notes ring out, you’ll be reaching for the calendar to check what year it is!

Release date, cover, tracklisting, and preorder info shall be announced shortly, as well as the first track to be revealed from Excalibur. Consult the below links for more info.

www.facebook.com/ironvoid
www.ironvoid.bandcamp.com
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords

Iron Void, Doomsday (2015)

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Review & Track Premiere: Nupraptor, The Heresiarch

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

nupraptor-the-heresiarch

[Click play above to stream ‘Burning the Believers’ from Nupraptor’s The Heresiarch. Album is out Dec. 15 on Shadow Kingdom Records.]

For anyone into etymology — words, not bugs; that’s entomology — the title of Nupraptor‘s first long-player, The Heresiarch, will read plainly. I had to look it up to be sure it was a real word, but it is. Its two parts, “heresy” and “arch” denote one who is prime among heretics, like an archpriest, and in terms of the Baltimore one-man outfit’s Shadow Kingdom Records-delivered debut, if vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Matt St. Ours is campaigning for the position, he makes a compelling argument for taking ownership of the position. The album is comprised of seven tracks, and from the introductory “Black Mass” through the 11-minute closing epic “The Fall of Christ,” which gleefully recounts the crucifixion story, there isn’t one of them that on some level doesn’t play toward the title.

It’s a unipolarity of theme that, like St. Ours‘ shredding lead work, is born out of classic heavy metal, and the oldschool is indeed the well from which Nupraptor most readily draws. Drums, while programmed, march through straightforward arrangements of elder-style doom, from the Sabbath-via-Trouble march of “Through the Smoke” to the unbridled Candlemass idolatry of “Before the Eyes of God,” and in in vocal approach, St. Ours seems to place himself in the post-Robert Lowe, Messiah Marcolin, sphere, with stylistic flourishes tossed in from the likes of Witchfinder General and others of the NWOBHM who readily crossed the line to doom much as he does here. If you were living the dream and had a dual-deck, The Heresiarch is the kind of record you might dub for one of your buddies and draw the Nupraptor logo on the tape label, perhaps crudely.

Over the last decade, Shadow Kingdom has made itself an essential purveyor of precisely this type of fare: new acts purposefully breaking old ground. The label’s passion for the NWOBHM in particular is a thread one can hear woven through much of what it releases, and Nupraptor fit well into this oeuvre. St. Ours signals early with the aforementioned intro “Black Mass” that his guitar will be in the lead position in terms of arrangement focus, and the 50-minute offering goes according to plan. While it’s Nupraptor‘s first release, St. Ours has past experience working on his own, having founded metallers White Hornet as a one-man project before expanding it to a full lineup, and sure enough, as “Black Mass” gives way to the rolling plod of “Through the Smoke,” that history and the sense of command comes into play almost immediately.

nupraptor

A spoken introduction and initial crash begin “Burning the Believers,” which delivers its title in a whisper before unfurling one of The Heresiarch‘s most satisfying nods, topped with a mournful solo and brimming with downer atmosphere and layered, effected vocals. It is doom for doomers, but though St. Ours is based in Baltimore, it’s worth noting that Nupraptor don’t directly play to Maryland doom of the Pentagram or The Obsessed style. Sure, the pace in “Burning the Believers” picks up in the song’s second half, and the nine-minute title-track, the penultimate “Wasting Away” and “The Fall of Christ” have their rocking moments as well, but this is given to an Iron Maiden-esque gallop more than the rawer punk and hardcore roots from which much of Maryland doom sprang initially and still springs, the swinging progression of “Wasting Away” notwithstanding. Decisively metal, in other words. There is little doubt left as to intent in that regard, and in its craftsmanship, bleak cohesion and anti-Christian storytelling, the album answers the call of its own mission with a passionate delivery and complete-band sound.

That last element — the fact that The Heresiarch sounds like a work by a complete band — makes one wonder what the future for Nupraptor might hold, and if St. Ours could possibly put together a trio or, maybe more likely a four-piece given some of the interweaving guitar antics and harmonies here in “Before the Eyes of God,” etc., down the line. Whether or not that happens, he’s given himself a potent aesthetic model from which to work, and one that will preach loudly and righteously to a vigilant sect of the doom converted. If there aren’t vest patches printed yet, there should be. The Heresiarch speaks to a time in which heavy metal itself was the cult to be joined, and in its style and substance, it succeeds in establishing this context for St. Ours and Nupraptor to nonetheless move forward in bringing new life to this storied past.

Nupraptor on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

Shadow Kingdom Records on Thee Facebooks

The Heresiarch at Shadow Kingdom Records Bandcamp

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Review & Full Album Stream: Lucifer’s Chalice, The Pact

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lucifer's chalice the pact

[Click play above to stream The Pact by Lucifer’s Chalice in full. Album is out Sept. 29 on Shadow Kingdom Records.]

There is a branch of doom and darker-tinged metal that remains steeped in olden ways. Released this past February as a digital offering by the band, the debut full-length from Lucifer’s Chalice, dubbed The Pact, finds wider issue through Shadow Kingdom Records and belongs to this branch. With influences culled from the early New Wave of British Heavy Metal — Cirith UngolPagan AltarWitchfinder General, youngest Iron Maiden, etc. — and classic Sabbathian doom, its four tracks feel as much ready to have the logo representing them scrawled sloppily on the front of a high-school notebook as flown proudly on a denim “battle vest” backpatch.

The Durham, UK, four-piece of guitarist/vocalist CW, lead guitarist SRM, bassist DH and drummer KShevil sound like they’d be just fine with either, if the songs are anything to go by. Earning immediate points by opening with the 11-minute “Hung at the Crossroads,” the hook and gallop of which serve as a table-setting representation of the band’s methods in general, The Pact unfolds brazenly and with a cassette-ready feel that has become cult metal in a way that is perhaps outside Lucifer’s Chalice‘s control, but nonetheless feels prevalent in their late-’70s/early-’80s vibe, persistent in spite of a modern production that’s telling of its actual time — i.e., now — especially in the drums, which if they were actually tracked in 1981 would have the snare likely be obtrusively loud in the mix and coated in reverb. Fortunately (mostly), that emblematic nuance of the era to which The Pact owes so much of its affect has been left by the wayside.

What’s been kept in place is careening riffs leading a charge topped by raw but proto-soaring vocals, and those elements provide the crux of The Pact‘s castle-storming, rusty-axe-wielding 36-minute charge. Though it begins with a mournful lead over a strummed central figure, it’s “Hung at the Crossroads” that begins the thrust in earnest, and the song moves fluidly through its extended runtime, gaining momentum as it works through its verses and chorus toward a slowdown just before the five-minute mark that brings a few minutes of doomier impression-making, to which CW‘s voice is well-suited in post-Candlemass fashion. Following a solo from SRM, a subsequent verse, and another lead, KShevil‘s drums signal a tempo change and the initial push resumes just before nine minutes in and holds sway for the remainder prior to the crash that brings on the sample from 1960’s The City of the Dead in which Massachusetts villagers burn Abigail Adams as a witch.

lucifer's chalice

That’s as fitting an intro as one could ask for the 10-minute track itself, which builds into a rolling first verse quickly and holds to a method ultimately similar to “Hung at the Crossroads” before it, with straightforward push and some underlying doomly swing in the drums to go with its horror-based Satanic lyrical theme, storytelling done in the second-person such that “The devil owns your soul/Hell will be your home.” Of course, the familiarity and blatant play to style is an important part of the aesthetic for Lucifer’s Chalice, and the band have that moniker to live up to, after all, so the adoption cliché isn’t necessarily unwelcome, particularly with the solo it leads to and the uptick in tempo past four minutes in, heading to a midsection that holds to its central modus where the preceding cut veered away and an end that is perhaps the most Maiden-esque stretch here, setting up “Full Moon Nights” and “Priestess of Death” as a shorter side two with another big finish and quick fade.

“Full Moon Nights” arrives with no less than Klaus Kinski as Dracula in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre from 1979, hearing the howling of wolves and calling it the music of the children of the night. Not a minor reference to make, but the song lives up to it with the fervency of its metallic shove, marked out by the kind of riff from which thrash would’ve taken influence three and a half decades ago and CW pushing his voice to and beyond its breaking point. A more turning progression arrives as the title-line is delivered, but it’s not long before Lucifer’s Chalice are heading forward again, and in the second half of “Full Moon Nights” the energy of their thrust picks up and is drawn toward another extended ending, this one consuming the full last minute and adding a sense of grandeur to counterbalance what’s still been a fairly raw production throughout. The Pact pays one more visit to the VHS shelf to break out 1971’s Twins of Evil for the sample that begins closer “Priestess of Death,” the hook of which is arguably the most memorable since “Hung at the Crossroads” and which reaffirms the devil worship of “The Pact” and “Full Moon Nights.”

As with those cuts, the source material is referenced in the lyrics, and it’s the guitars doing most of the heavy lifting in establishing the personality of the piece — a dual-layered lead as they move through the third minute is a standout point leading into more full-on thrashing and another precise, crashing run through the chorus prior to a surprisingly shredding solo. That gives way to a temporary slowdown that seems like it might be the band’s ending statement, but as “Hung at the Crossroads” did so skillfully, “Priestess of Death” also returns to its core to finish out, capping The Pact on a sudden but effective snap. Lucifer’s Chalice are hardly reinventing classic metal on their first record, but neither is that their intent. Rather, they pay homage to the Metal of Old with these four songs and in theme and purpose begin to stake out the approach they’ll hopefully continue to develop as they move forward, forging themselves in steel and casting outward with doom and pre-thrash malevolence.

Lucifer’s Chalice on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer’s Chalice on Bandcamp

Shadow Kingdom Records on Thee Facebooks

The Pact at Shadow Kingdom’s Bandcamp page

Shadow Kingdom Records website

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