Quarterly Review: Slift, IIVII, Coogans Bluff, Rough Spells, Goblinsmoker, Homecoming, Lemurian Folk Songs, Ritual King, Sunflowers, Maya Mountains

Posted in Reviews on March 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Thursday. Everyone doing well? Healthy? Kicking ass? Working from home? There seems to be a lot of that going around, at least among the lucky. New Jersey, where I live, is on lockdown with non-essential businesses shuttered, roads largely empty and all that. It can be grim and apocalyptic feeling, but I’m finding this Quarterly Review to be pretty therapeutic or at least helpfully distracting at a moment when I very much need something to be that. I hope that if you’re reading this, whether you’ve been following along or not, it’s done or can do the same for you if that’s what you need. I’ll leave it at that.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

The second album from French space/psych trio Slift is a 72-minute blowout echoshred epic — too aware not to be prog but too cosmic not to be space rock. Delivered through Stolen Body Records and Vicious Circle, Ummon is not only long, it speaks to a longer term. It’s not an album for this year, or for this decade, or for any other decade, for that matter. It’s for the ongoing fluid now. You want to lose yourself in the depths of buzz and dreamy synth? Yeah, you can do that. You want to dig into the underlying punk and maybe a bit of Elder influence in the vocal bark and lead guitar shimmer of “Thousand Helmets of Gold?” Well hell’s bells, do that. The mega-sprawling 2LP is a gorgeous blast of distortion, backed by jazzy, organic drum wud-dum-tap and the bass, oh, the bass; the stuff of low end sensory displacement. Amid swirls and casts of melodic light in “Dark Was Space, Cold Were the Stars,” Slift dilate universal energy and push beyond the noise wash reaches of “Son Dong’s Cavern” and through the final build, liftoff and roll of 13-minute closer “Lions, Tigers and Bears” with the deft touch of those dancing on prior conceptions. We’d be lucky to have Ummon as the shape of space rock to come.

Slift on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records store

Vicious Circle Records store

 

IIVII, Grinding Teeth/Zero Sleep

Two LPs telling two different stories released at the same time, Grinding Teeth/Zero Sleep (on Consouling Sounds) brings Josh Graham‘s aural storytelling to new cinematic reaches. The composer, guitarist, synthesist, programmer, visual artist, etc., is joined along the way by the likes of Jo Quail, Ben Weinman (ex-The Dillinger Escape Plan), Dana Schecter (Insect Ark), Sarah Pendleton (ex-SubRosa) and Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) — among others — but across about 90 minutes of fluidity, Graham/IIVII soundtracks two narratives through alternatingly vast and crushing drone. The latter work is actually an adaptation from a short sci-fi film about, yes, humanity losing its ability to sleep — I feel you on that one — but the former, which tells a kind of meth-fueled story of love and death, brings due chaos and heft to go with its massive synthesized scope. Josh Graham wants to score your movie. You should let him. And you should pay him well. And you should let him design the poster. And you should pay him well for that too. End of story.

IIVII on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds store

 

Coogans Bluff, Metronopolis

coogans bluff metronopolis

Following the initial sax-laden prog-rock burst and chase that is opener “Gadfly,” Berlin’s Coogans Bluff bring a ’70s pastoralia to “Sincerely Yours,” and that atmosphere ends up staying with Metronopolis — their fifth album — for the duration, no matter where else they might steer the sound. And they do steer the sound. Sax returns (as it will) in the jabbing “Zephyr,” a manic shred taking hold in the second half accompanied by no-less-manic bass, and “Creature of the Light” reimagines pop rock of the original vinyl era in the image of its own weirdness, undeniably rock but also something more. Organ-inclusive highlight “Soft Focus” doesn’t so much touch on psychedelics as dunk its head under their warm waters, and “The Turn I” brings an almost Beatlesian horn arrangement to fruition ahead of the closer “The Turn II.” But in that finale, and in “Hit and Run,” and way back in “Sincerely Yours,” Coogans Bluff hold that Southern-style in their back pocket as one of several of Metronopolis‘ recurring themes, and it becomes one more element among the many at their disposal.

Coogans Bluff on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution store

 

Rough Spells, Ruins at Midday

rough spells ruins at midday

An underlying current of social commentary comes coated in Rough Spells‘ mysticism on Ruins at Midday, the Toronto unit’s second LP. Recorded by Ian Blurton and presented by Fuzzed and Buzzed and DHU Records, the eight-track LP has, as the lyrics of “Chance Magic” say, “No bad intentions.” Indeed, it seems geared only toward eliciting your participation in its ceremony of classic groove, hooks and melodies, even the mellow “Die Before You Die” presenting an atmosphere that’s heavy but still melodic and accessible. “Grise Fiord” addresses Canada’s history of mistreating its native population, while “Pay Your Dues” pits guitar and vocal harmonics against each other in a shove of proto-metallic energy to rush momentum through side B and into the closing pair of the swaggering “Nothing Left” and the title-track, which is the longest single cut at five minutes, but still keeps its songwriting taut with no time to spare for indulgences. In this, and on several fronts, Ruins at Midday basks in multifaceted righteousness.

Rough Spells on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzed and Buzzed store

DHU Records store

 

Goblinsmoker, A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze

goblinsmoker a throne in haze a world ablaze

Upside the head extreme sludgeoning! UK trio Goblinsmoker take on the more vicious and brutal end of sludge with the stench of death on A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze (on Sludgelord Records), calling to mind the weedian punishment of Belzebong and others of their decrepit ilk. Offered as part two of a trilogy, A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze is comprised of three tracks running a caustic 26 minutes thick enough such that even its faster parts feel slow, a churning volatility coming to the crash of “Smoked in Darkness” at the outset only to grow more menacing in the lurch of centerpiece “Let Them Rot” — which of course shifts into blastbeats later on — and falling apart into noise and echoing residual feedback after the last crashes of “The Forest Mourns” recede. Beautifully disgusting, the release reportedly furthers the story of the Toad King depicted on its cover and for which the band’s prior 2018 EP was named, and so be it. The lyrics, largely indecipherable in screams, are vague enough that if you’re not caught up, you’ll be fine. Except you won’t be fine. You’ll be dead. But it’ll be awesome.

Goblinsmoker on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

 

Homecoming, LP01

homecoming lp01

Progressive metal underpins French trio Homecoming‘s aptly-titled first record, LP01, with the guitars of second cut “Rivers of Crystal” leading the way through a meandering quiet part and subsequent rhythmic figure that reminds of later Opeth, though there’s still a strong heavy rock presence in their tones and grooves generally. It’s an interesting combination, and all the more so because I think part of what’s giving off such a metal vibe is the snare sound. You don’t normally think of a snare drum determining that kind of thing, but here we are. Certainly the vocal arrangements between gruff melodies, backing screams and growls, etc., the odd bit of blastbeating here and there, bring it all into line as well — LP01 is very much the kind of album that would title its six-minute instrumental centerpiece “Interlude” — but the intricacy in how the nine-minute “Return” develops and the harmonies that emerge early in closer “Five” tell the tale clearly of Homecoming‘s ambitions as they move forward from this already-ambitious debut.

Homecoming on Thee Facebooks

Homecoming on Bandcamp

 

Lemurian Folk Songs, Logos

lemurian folk songs logos

Tracked in the same sessions as the Budapest outfit’s 2019 album, Ima (review here), it should not come as a major surprise that the six-track/49-minute Logos from Lemurian Folk Songs follows a not entirely dissimilar course, bringing together dream-drift of tones and melodies with subtle but coherent rhythmic motion in a fashion not necessarily revolutionary for heavy psych, but certainly well done and engaging across its tracks. The tones of guitar and bass offer a warmth rivaled only by the echoing vocals on opener/longest cut (immediate points) “Logos,” and the shimmering “Sierra Tejada” and progressively building “Calcination” follow that pattern while adding a drift that is both of heavy psych and outside of it in terms of the character of how it’s played. None of the last three tracks is less than eight minutes long — closer “Firelake” tops nine in a mirror to “Logos” at the outset, but if that’s the band pushing further out I hear, then yes, I want to go along for that trip.

Lemurian Folk Songs on Thee Facebooks

Para Hobo Records on Bandcamp

 

Ritual King, Ritual King

ritual king ritual king

Progressive heavy rockers Ritual King display a striking amount of grace and patience across their Ripple Music-issued self-titled long-player. Tapping modern influences like Elder and bringing their own sense of melodic nuance to the proceedings across a tightly-constructed seven songs and 42 minutes, the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Jordan Leppitt, bassist Dan Godwin — whose tone is every bit worthy of gotta-hear-it classification — and drummer/backing vocalist Gareth Hodges string together linear movements in “Headspace” and “Dead Roads” that flow one into the next, return at unexpected moments or don’t, and follow a direction not so much to the next chorus but to the next statement the band want to make, whatever that might be. “Restrain” begins with a sweet proggy soundscape and unfolds two verses over a swaying riff, then is gone, where at the outset, “Valleys” offers grandeur the likes of which few bands would dare to embody on their third or fourth records, let alone their first. Easily one of 2020’s best debuts.

Ritual King on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Sunflowers, Endless Voyage

sunflowers endless voyage

You know what? Never mind. You ain’t weird enough for this shit. Nobody’s weird enough for this shit. I have a hard time believing the two souls from Portugal who made it are weird enough for this shit. Think I’m wrong? Think you’re up for it and you’re gonna put on SunflowersEndless Voyage and be like, “oh yeah, turns out mega-extreme krautrock blasted into outer space was my wavelength all along?” Cool. Bandcamp player’s right there. Have at it. I dare you.

Sunflowers on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records store

 

Maya Mountains, Era

maya mountains era

Italian heavy rockers Maya Mountains formed in 2005 and issued their debut album, Hash and Pornography, through Go Down Records in 2008. Era, which follows a narrative about the title-character whose name is given in lead cut “Enrique Dominguez,” who apparently travels through space after being lost in the desert — as one does — and on that basis alone is clearly a more complex offering than its predecessor. As to where Maya Mountains have been all the time in between records — here and there, in other bands, etc. But Era, at 10 tracks and 44 minutes, is the summation of five years of work on their part and its blend of scope and straight-ahead heavy riffing is welcome in its more heads-down moments like “Vibromatic” or in the purposefully weirder finale “El Toro” later on. Something like a second debut for the band after being away for so long, Era at very least marks the beginning of a new one for them, and one hopes it continues in perhaps more productive fashion than the last.

Maya Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records store

 

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Postvorta Set Feb. 20 Release for Porrima; Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

postvorta

Italy’s Postvorta earlier this year unveiled the 11-minute single “Hollow” that was taken from the sessions for their new album, Porrima. If you haven’t listened to it — and I’m sure you have, because you’re way up on Italian post-metal, and kudos to you on that — it’s a crusher in atmosphere and growl alike, and the band, who, yup, there’s six of ’em, complement all that stomp with an atmospheric breadth no less ranging than the impact is weighted. As much as the US foundation of post-metal was set by Neurosis and Isis, in Europe it was bands like Cult of Luna and Amenra who established the patterns, but Postvorta seem to draw influence from all sides and work to bring an emotionalism of their own to the bleak sonic tectonics. Haven’t heard Porrima — their new LP — yet, but neither have I heard a reason not to look forward to it.

That’s right. I went to that rhyme. Bite me. It’s my site. I get to do what I want.

Admittedly, I’m late to the party on posting the release date and the album news, but I figure better that than not at all, so here it is, courtesy of the PR wire. Porrima release is slated for Feb. 20 through 22 Dicembre Records and Sludgelord Records:

postvorta porrima

POSTVORTA: cinematic post/doom metal outfit reveal details of new album “Porrima”!

Italian post/doom metal stalwarts POSTVORTA release details of their upcoming new album “Porrima” – due out on February 20th, 2020 via Sludgelord Records and 22 Dicembre Records on 2CD and MC (strictly limited to 50 copies) format.

Produced by Riccardo Pasini (The Secret, Nero Di Marte, Ephel Duath), mastered by Magnus Lindberg (Cult Of Luna) and featuring artwork by Andrea Fioravanti and Nicola Donà, “Porrima” features musical textures and contributions by Francesco Bucci (Ottone Pesante), Francesca Grol and Alberto Casadei (Solaris).

“Porrima” tracklist:
01. Epithelium Copia (feat. Francesco Bucci from Ottone Pesante on trombone)
02. Vasa Praevia Dispassion
03. Decidua Trauma Catharsis (feat. Francesca Grol as female entity)
04. March Dysthymia (feat. Alberto Casadei from Solaris on spoken words)
05. Aldehyde Framework

POSTVORTA have always been hard to classify. Since 2009, they have played music that’s heavy and progressive, cinematic and intimate, dense and sometimes minimal. You could call them “post” metal, as thunderous elements of pure doom often contrast with moments of introspection. Their entire musical trajectory seems like a gradual disclosure of intimate secrets.

The album’s five tracks showcase the band facing life’s pain and wonder with their eyes wide open. The collection’s emotional landscape is one of existential dread, melancholy and loss. Despite these existential conundrums, “Porrima” at times also displays some uplifting, euphoric vibes.

Postvorta are:
Andrea Fioravanti [ Guitars – Synth ]
Nicola Dona’ [Vocals – Sometime Guitars ]
Raffaele Marra [ Bass ]
Dario Foschini [Guitars ]
Mohammed Ashraf [ Synth – Guitars ]
Matteo Borzini [ Drums ]

https://www.facebook.com/POSTVORTA
https://postvorta.org/
https://www.facebook.com/SludgelordRecords/
http://instagram.com/sludgelordrecords
https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/

Postvorta, “Hollow”

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Cranial Announce Alternate Endings out Sept. 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

cranial (Photo by Dominik Morber)

With CD and LP due out through Moment of Collapse Records and cassettes through Sludgelord Records and Hand of Death Records, there’s plenty of backing for Cranial‘s new album, Alternate Endings, which is bound to immediately draw some comparisons to the Hydra Head-style pastiche of post-metal, if only for its cover art. The band have a new trailer posted now that captures some of the ambient sensibility that Alternate Endings will have on offer, but if one goes back and listens to their 2017 outing for Moment of CollapseDark Tower / Bright Lights, there’s plenty of churn and crush to go along with that atmospheric reach. I’d expect no less of the upcoming full-length, though it’s always possible they’ve gone all-out drone as well. Something in the tension of that YouTube clip makes me think there’s a payoff lurking there though. Or maybe it’s the song title “Burning Bridges.”

Either way, one imagines harsh things await in the darkness, and that’s just fine. The PR wire brought the info and the aforementioned trailer:

cranial alternate endings

Sludgy post metal heavyweights CRANIAL reveal album details!

“Alternate Endings” coming September 27th on Moment of Collapse Records

Sludge metal heavyweights CRANIAL return with their sophomore album to be released September 27th by capable Moment of Collapse Records! Risen from the ashes of almighty OMEGA MASSIF, CRANIAL took the best ingredients, created their own sound and developed it even further. Powerful and earth shattering, apocalyptic and destructive, melodies as uplifting as they are depressive – once again the band pushed themselves forward and re?ned their songwriting. Working together with Ghost City Recordings and no one else than Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna) they found the perfect team for setting up their most crushing sound to date!

“Alternate Endings is our most personally output so far. It is about loss, fear and desperation but also about rise and hope. Within these four songs we captured and encapsulated these strong feelings. Working with Ghost City Recordings and Magnus Lindberg was the perfect match for the new album. They helped us with our vision.” the band comments.

Seeing the light of day September 27th on LP, CD via Moment of Collapse Records and tapes on Sludgelord and Hand of Death Records – a glimpse of what to expect can already be heard and seen in a first teaser at THIS LOCATION!

Alternate Endings tracklisting:
1. Faint Voice
2. Unceasing Lack
3. Burning Bridges
4. Holistic Figure

CRANIAL is:
Michael Melchers (guitar)
Julian Weidhaus (bass, vocals)
Cornelius Merlin (drums)
Sebastian Kröckel (guitar)

www.facebook.com/cranialband
www.facebook.com/momentofcollapse
www.momentofcollapse.com

Cranial, Alternate Endings album trailer

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Plague of Carcosa Stream Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains EP in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on July 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

plague of carcosa

Chicago instrumentalist two-piece Plague of Carcosa will release their new EP, Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains, on July 19 through Sludgelord Records on tape and Gipsy House Recordings on CD. The title, like much of the band’s framework, derives from the horror literature of H.P. Lovecraft, and the two songs on Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains, “Crawling Chaos” and “Madness at Sea,” do likewise, the former being a 1921 short story related to the outer-god Nyarlathotep, while the latter refers to Cthulhu. So the big guns, as far as Lovecraft goes. Fair enough, as guitarist Eric Zann and drummer Lark McGee have the tone and pummel to match the giant mythical beasts they’d purport to base their work around. As to whether the two of them were sitting in the rehearsal space with their Lovecraft compendium out going, “Okay, now we’ll make this riff represent when he says, ‘Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men,'” but it’s of course an atmospheric impression, and after a few years of lineup changes — doing time over the last three years as a solo-project, a trio, and even a four-piece on last year’s 14-minute “Rats in the Walls” single — they basically have the whole “eldritch dark cosmos” thing down.

And it should go without saying that Lovecraft dilettantes, non-fans or those who’ve simply never engaged with the material and its old-style hyper-formal prose won’t necessarily lose out on the listening experience for not being immediately ready to connect the cumbersome title to the short story “The White Ship” from Plague of Carcosa Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountainswhence it comes. The 15-plus-minute offering has a rumbling, noisy appeal all its own, and one would be remiss not to liken it to acts like Bongripper (whose Dennis Pleckham mastered) or even the much-missed Beast in the Field — the tone at the start of “Madness at Sea” particularly for the latter — but its combination of fullness of sound and a duo’s elemental cacophony helps bring personality to Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains beyond the basic thematic. “Crawling Chaos” indeed lurches forward, building into a sensory overload of which Nyarlathotep himself might be proud before entrancing with low-end distortion into a long deconstructing fadeout, while “Madness at Sea” starts out with feedback and unfurls a more undulating central progression with harder stops and will eventually also seem to rip itself apart on a molecular level before it’s done. “Madness at Sea” might be the more punishing of the two, but it’s a picking of poison either way on the two-songer, as Zann and McGee create a massive, churning abyss of groove and ill-intentioned tone. If the ocean is more ancient than the mountains — technically true — then Plague of Carcosa do well in conjuring what horrors might lie in the unfathomable deep.

I won’t profess to know whether Plague of Carcosa will keep their current configuration or seek to add another member (or two), but the best argument in favor of their current form seems to be coming from the band itself in these songs. I’m no expert on Lovecraft, but the brutal ambience McGee and Zann bring to bear on Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains is a grim thrill unto itself, and only suggests further reading. And by reading, I mean crushing. And by crushing, I mean being crushed. Just so we’re clear.

You can stream Ocean is More Ancient than the Mountains on the player below. More info off the PR wire follows.

Please enjoy:

Plague of Carcosa is a 2-piece instrumental doom band formed in the spring of 2016; the band was created by cult leader Eric Zann in the forgotten corners of Chicago to explore the darker, more droning side of metal. Taking cues from the heavy textures Sunn O))) and Bong, and introducing the terrifying themes of Lovecraft, Eric self-released the debut The Color Out Of Space, and the cult grew. Recruiting a drummer and second guitarist as high priests of the cult, the group quickly took to playing in a style often compared to local heroes Bongripper, whilst also taking notes from the mighty Conan and Thou. As they honed their material, Eric released the 70-minute experimental piece (‘Ritual 1’) and shortly after, the group worked with Andy Nelson (Weekend Nachos) on their first release as a group, Hastur, which was unleashed upon the world in May of 2017. The winter of 2018 saw the release of ‘Rats in the Walls,’ a 15-minute behemoth, which was mastered by Dennis Pleckham of Bongripper.

The latest release, Ocean Is More Ancient Than The Mountains, once again sees the cult teaming up with Andy Nelson and Dennis Pleckham, this time operating only as a two-piece. While they have lost a high priest, they have gained followers all over the world with their sonic adaptations of the works of Lovecraft and invocations of the Great Old Ones. The opener ‘The Crawling Chaos’ serves as a tribute to the great Nyarlathotep and sees them seamlessly blending their signature colossal doom riffs with a touch of grindcore at the climax. The other half of the EP, ‘Madness at Sea,’ is intended to pay tribute to the ‘Call of Cthulhu’ chapter of the same name. Melding drawn-out, ever-evolving riffs with more ambient sections that crash into walls of feedback, it is a fitting depiction of the sailors losing their sanity when being faced with the mountainous Cthulhu in his sunken corpse city.

Ocean Is More Ancient Than The Mountains is set for release digitally and audio cassette via Sludgelord Records on July 19th 2019.

Plague of Carcosa is:
Eric Zann – strings
Lark McGee – drums

Plague of Carcosa on Thee Facebooks

Plague of Carcosa on Bandcamp

The Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

Gipsy House Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Gipsy House Recordings on Bandcamp

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Opium Lord Sign to Sludgelord Records; Vore Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Yeah, that’ll do nicely. You don’t get too much of a sense of what Opium Lord might be up to with Vore from the new teaser clip posted to herald the album’s coming-soon status, but even the fuckall violent atmospheric threat is sitting pretty nicely as far as I’m concerned. File under “current mood.” The Birmingham-based five-piece will release the album later this year through Sludgelord Records following behind a 2016 split with Churchburn — any band that would dare stand up to that kind of aural hatefest must be onto something — and their 2015 debut, The Calendrical Cycle: Eye of Earth, which was issued by Candlelight amid some apparent discontent, as well as an initial EP the year prior. Seriously, the clip is only a minute long and you can check it out below. Just feel that misery.

No release date yet, but there’s time. We’ll get there. I included the track from the split in the meantime as well, for further digging if you’re so inclined.

Have at it:

opium lord (Photo by Stuart Lee-Tovey)

Opium Lord to Release Vore on Sludgelord Records

Birmingham misery soaked metal band Opium Lord joins Sludgelord Records for the release of their second album.

The band who started life in 2014 on Leeds based record label Thirty Days of Night Records via Candlelight Records and Dry Cough Records will join Sludgelord Records for the release of their 2nd album ‘Vore’ which will be released this year.

With their 1st album ‘The Calendrical Cycle: Eye of Earth’ selling out on Candlelight Records and Dry Cough Records the band now look forward to linking up with Sludgelord Records.

The band said “we are really chuffed to join Sludgelord Records, we obviously follow the magazine side of the label closely and we’ve found some amazing bands through that and we know how passionate they are about our little scene, so we know full well they will work really hard for us.”

“It’s been a tough few years for us and we’ve been a bit irritated with issues that were out of our hands in regards to releasing this album, waiting on people and being a little pissed around but we are just happy we can now move on and get it out so people can hear it, we are really proud of this record.”

Following the success off the back of their debut album it led them to multiple European tours including a North American tour with Primitive Man. Opium Lord also released a split 7” with former Grief and Vital Remains members Churchburn from Rhode Island.

On the forthcoming record ‘Vore’ they added “we worked with our friend Wayne Adams in London at Bear Bites Horse Studio and we are really happy with it, it’s a slight departure from our first record but we think people will get it – we also have a special guest from an artist we all really respect, but I don’t want to spoil who it is just yet.”

The band plan to tour the UK on release of the Vore, details on when the album will be released as follows.

Opium Lord is:
Nathan James Coyle
Adam Beckley
Bruce Goodenough
Luke Fewtrell
Simon Blewitt

https://www.facebook.com/opiumlord/
https://opiumlord.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SludgelordRecords/
http://instagram.com/sludgelordrecords
https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/

Opium Lord, Vore teaser

Opium Lord, “Control”

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Stone Machine Electric, Darkness Dimensions Disillusion

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Stone Machine Electric Darkness Dimensions Disillusion

[Click play above to stream Darkness Dimensions Disillusion by Stone Machine Electric in its entirety. Album is out April 26 on Sludgelord Records.]

Stone Machine Electric are the bluesy, jammy, sometimes doomed sludge jazz called for by the times in which we live. The Hurst, Texas-based duo have consistently evolved over the course of their studio LPs, EPs, live offerings, etc., and for the last nine years, they’ve been an underrated act lurking in the crowded Lone Star underground, compatriots to Wo Fat and recording at that band’s Crystal Clear Sound studio, but never really touring and so never really getting the attention their particular take deserves. Darkness Dimensions Disillusion is their third album and first to be issued through Sludgelord Records. It follows behind 2016’s Sollicitus es Veritatem (review here) and its 2017 live companion, Vivere (review here), which were at that point the farthest yet that the two-piece of William “Dub” Irvin (guitar/vocals) and Mark Kitchens (drums) had pushed themselves, exploring nuanced reaches of dark psychedelia centered around the theme of the 2016 US presidential election, which was about as appropriate a subject as one could ask for their gleefully bizarre and malleable approach.

That willingness to discuss real-world issues had never been expressed to such a degree throughout prior outings like 2015’s The Amazing Terror EP (review here), 2014’s jam-based Garage Tape (review here), their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) and their 2010 demo, Awash in Feedback (review here), but it’s a theme that Darkness Dimensions Disillusion continues in its four component tracks. Perhaps not to the degree of having a portly rat king in a red tie on the front cover — though the diamond-encased staring-eye skull drawn by Kitchens is righteous — but still, it’s there in 12:48 opener “Sum of Man” and 14-minute closer “Purgatory,” the two tracks that bookend the album, as well as the all-caps “SAND” and “Circle” (premiered here), the latter of which is unarguably the most straightforward composition they’ve ever included on a record. That in itself is emblematic of Stone Machine Electric‘s steady creative evolution. They’re never predictable unless you count the reliable certainty that they’ll try new things. So it goes here.

And you don’t have to wait until the third of the four tracks to get to that point either. The very first movement of “Sum of Man” is indicative of their progressive bent, unfolding with surprising grace over the course of its first four minutes with a minimal but spacious stretch of effects ambience that’s greeted with melodic guitar/keys on a subtle linear build that’s nonetheless interrupted by the drums bringing about the shift into the first verse. Stone Machine Electric have done plenty of jamming in their time, but this is a different way of engaging atmospherics, and it’s more purposeful than a basic sonic meandering — nothing against that either — in terms of setting the mood for what follows and putting the listener in a more open headspace, such that even as Irvin intones “The sum of man is equal to his waste,” and “The sum of man/Can be measured/By the size of the void/Left upon the land,” the languid groove, while plenty heavy in terms of tone, remains laid back in its overarching affect.

stone machine electric

Repetitions of the title-line serve as a hook unto themselves, and after a few verses, Irvin and Kitchens take off on a fluid, solo-topped jam that seems to immediately signal no return. It feels earned. “SAND” is more chorus-based, but at over eight minutes long still has plenty of room to stretch out, and it takes advantage of it with a noisy midsection that parses out to angular turns leading into its solo and a slow, doomly roll that follows with some theremin or other synth accompanying, from whence they drop out and return to the hook in an effective showcase that says Stone Machine Electric know precisely which rules they want to break and when they want to do it in terms of working in and out of various structures, which is only fitting their experimentalist take and their level of craft in general. They are not just another band.

With “Circle,” though, they do toy with the idea of dead-ahead songwriting in a way they never have. At 4:45, it’s the shortest cut on Darkness Dimensions Disillusion by nearly half, and it’s a work of verse/chorus songwriting that pulls away from some of the burl in “SAND” in favor of a more melodic vocal that suits Irvin well, and shuffling snare work from Kitchens that seems to be a direct contrast to the track before. There’s a short guitar solo in the second half, and a sudden stop as if purposefully cutting themselves off before they launch into the next jam. There’s plenty of opportunity for such things in “Purgatory,” though, with a quiet keyboard-sounding intro to mirror “Sum of Man” for the first two and a half minutes and a smoother transition into the first verse — really embracing the “jazz” in “doom jazz”; no complaints — and bringing back the throatier vocals as they shift as well to meatier riffs and an unfolding nod that sounds like a culmination even before it serves as one.

Kitchens and Irvin are quick to move into more exploratory fare, but they hardly rest there, taking one movement into the next with a marked fluidity en route to the eventual noise wash that emerges with the vocals seeming to echo up from it as they move deeper into the second half of the track, guitar siren blaring amid the distortion flood until the whole thing goes away at the 10-minute mark and they work their way back into an easier groove topped with a highlight solo and the return of the keyboard line from the beginning of the song, which will be the last element to remain after the guitar and drums head out on a long fade, leaving on a note of quiet atmospherics like that which started the album in the first place.

One can only hope Stone Machine Electric continue to follow that impulse as they inevitably move forward from here, since their more confident approach to melody and more patient execution suits them so well, especially in “Sum of Man” and “Purgatory,” but as ever, they serve an intention toward experimentation, and that leads them to new and fascinating places throughout these songs. I wouldn’t bet on what their next record will sound like, but I’m willing to go on record in saying that they’ll keep moving forward, likely in a multitude of directions. They remain better than people know, and a band whose steady growth is matched only by the consistent quality of their output.

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Stone Machine Electric Premiere “Circle” Video; Album out April 26

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

stone machine electric

I’m going to try really hard in this post not to review Stone Machine Electric‘s new album, Darkness Dimensions Disillusion, which is out April 26 through Sludgelord Records. At this point, I think I’ve written about nearly everything the underrated Texas duo have put out, so I’m not trying to get around or anything, but if you check back in on April 25, I’ll be hosting a full stream of the record and reviewing it then. So we’ll get there, but in the meantime, I’m gonna not say everything I want to say about the four-track offering before, you know, it’s time to actually say it. Stone Machine Electric are a fun band to write about, but in almost all cases, reviewing stuff twice is a bummer. “Didn’t I already do this?” and so on.

That bit of procedural declaration aside, let’s talk about “Circle” instead. On Darkness Dimensions Disillusion, it’s an immediate standout for being about half as long as the next shortest track on the record. That is, it’s 4:44 and the preceding “SAND” is 8:19. The bookending opening and closing cuts — the names of which I’m not even going to mention because that’s how much I’m not reviewing the album right now — are both over 12 minutes. “Circle” might also be a standout in the band’s entire discography as well, though, for its straightforward structure. Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo/bridge, chorus, end. While kind of standard for the rest of the various forms of rock and roll, it’s still a shift in approach on the part of Stone Machine Electric, who’ve traditionally been more about crafting spacious jams than hooks, though they’re not exactly strangers to the idea, as their past work has shown.

The tonal crunch of guitar comes accompanied by a more melodic vocal from William “Dub” Irvin, and the changes between the movements in “Circle” are driven fluidly by Mark Kitchens‘ drumming in a way that underscores the jammy foundations shown on the rest of the album — which, again, I’m definitely not going to review now. In fact, I should probably just leave it there until later in the month.

Instead of hearing me ramble (more), why don’t you just go ahead and dig into Kitchens‘ art in the video for “Circle” below and enjoy a little bit of the old elsewhere-rock as only Stone Machine Electric can provide.

Brief comment from the band, live dates and preorder link follow:

Stone Machine Electric, “Circle” official video premiere

Circle is about the monotony that is life as seen from a macro perception, and sometimes you just want something to come crashing into it in order to reset the cycle.

Upcoming Dates (more to come):
4/6/19 Anderson Mill Pub – Austin, TX
4/26/19 Division Brewing – Arlington, TX (Album Release Show)
5/17/19 Lost Well – Austin, TX
6/28/19 Tin Panther – Fort Worth, TX
6/29/19 Freetown Boom Boom Room, Lafayette, LA
8/31/19 Reno’s Chop Shop – Dallas, TX (Dallas Fuzz Rock Festival)

Preorder Darkness Dimensions Disillusion at: https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/album/darkness-dimensions-dillusion

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Stone Machine Electric to Release Darkness Dimensions Disillusion April 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

stone machine electric

I’m not even going to pretend I haven’t heard this one. Stone Machine Electric have a new album coming out. It has four songs on it, and it’s awesome. The Texan bizarrojam duo have been at it for nearly a decade now, and it’s been nothing short of a joy to hear them get weirder and more comfortable getting weirder as they’ve grown into their own style, and Darkness Dimensions Disillusion is four songs serving as the next step in that ongoing process. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll get to premiere a track or something this time around, but we’ll see as we get closer to the April 26 release on Sludgelord Records whether or not that happens.

Either way, the record is awesome, which is no less than I would expect from Stone Machine Electric, who’ve made that their ply and trade all the while. Their last offering was 2016’s Sollicitus es Veritatem (review here) and its 2017 live companion, Vivere (review here), so they’re due, and as they work once more with Kent Stump (Wo Fat) at Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas, they’re nothing if not right in their element. All the better.

More to come, but here are the PR wire preliminaries:

Stone Machine Electric Darkness Dimensions Disillusion

STONE MACHINE ELECTRIC – Darkness Dimensions Disillusion

Texas-based duo best known for their weird approach in crafting a darkened and spacious vision of psychedelic jamming are ready to reveal their latest effort. This album was produced, mixed, and mastered by Kent Stump at Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas, Texas.

Darkness Dimensions Disillusion informs you on the greater picture that is not seen, reinforces the confusion, reminds you nothing changes, and lets you know that you are still not in control.

Track Listing:
1. Sum of Man
2. SAND
3. Circle
4. Purgatory

Darkness Dimensions Disillusion will be released on Sludgelord Records on April 26th, 2019.

https://www.facebook.com/StoneMachineElectric/
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http://stonemachineelectric.bandcamp.com/
http://www.stonemachineelectric.net/
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https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/album/new-day-dying

Stone Machine Electric, Vivere (2017)

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