Last Licks 2014: Nate Hall, Nocturnal Poisoning, Snailking, Godmaker, Void Generator, The Mound Builders, Mother Kasabian, Deep Space Destructors, Underdogs and Human Services

Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Happy to report that I survived the first day of this project. Spirits are good and I look at the stack of discs (plus one book; we’ll get there) in front of me and feel relatively confident that by the time I’m through it, my cerebral cortex will still manage to function in the limited way it usually does. If yesterday’s installment is anything to go by, however, I’ll be well out of adjectives by then. What’s another word for “heavy?”

There’s only one way to find out. These will be reviews 11-20 of the total 50. I don’t know if they say the first 10 are the hardest or the last, but I’ll be in the thick of it when this is posted and while I’m sure I probably could turn back and catch minimal if any flack for it — one “Hey wha happen?” on Thee Facebooks seems likely penance — better to just keep going. Another stack awaits tomorrow, after all.

Thanks in advance to anyone reading:

Nate Hall, Electric Vacuum Roar

nate hall electric vacuum roar

Electric Vacuum Roar is one of two Nate Hall physical releases from this fall. The U.S. Christmas frontman and solo performer also has a few digital odds and ends and Fear of Falling, on which he partners with a rhythm section. Released by Heart and Crossbone Records and Domestic Genocide, Electric Vacuum Roar is closer to a solo affair. Hall is joined by Caustic Resin’s Brett Netson on guitar/bass on two extended tracks: “Dance of the Prophet” (16:46) and “Long Howling Decline/People Fall Down” (11:57). The second part of the latter is a reinterpretation of a Caustic Resin song, though here it is droned out and put through a portal of drumless and inward-looking psychedelia, turned into the finale of a communicative and intimate affair. Amp noise and effects swirl around “Dance of the Prophet,” and it’s easy to get lost in it, but Hall maintains a steady presence of obscure vocals and the result is what tribal might be if tribes were comprised of one person.

Nate Hall on Thee Facebooks

Heart and Crossbone Records

Nocturnal Poisoning, Doomgrass

nocturnal poisoning doomgrass

I’ve never tried to break up a one-man band, but I can’t imagine Scott Conner – who helped pave the way for US black metal under the moniker Malefic in Xasthur – has had an easy time of it since he put that band to bed in 2010. Nocturnal Poisoning, whose Doomgass arrives via The End Records, is an entirely different beast. Centered around layers folkish acoustic guitar, cleanly produced backed by occasional bass and tambourine, Doomgrass is still depressive at its core – Robert N. contributes guest vocals, almost gothic in style, to songs like “Starstruck by Garbage” and “Illusion of Worth” – but if the name is a portmanteau of doom and bluegrass, it fits the style. If anything ties Nocturnal Poisoning to Xasthur aside from Conner’s involvement, it’s a focus on atmosphere, but the two ultimately have little in common otherwise, and Nocturnal Poisoning’s exploratory feel is refreshingly individualized and leaves one wondering if Conner will be able to resist the full-band-sound impulse going forward.

Nocturnal Poisoning on Thee Facebooks

Doomgrass at The End Records

Snailking, Storm

snailking storm

Though they’re decidedly post-metal in their influences – Neurosis, YOB, obviously Ufomammut for whose record they are named – Sweden’s Snailking keep to heavy rock tones on their Consouling Sounds debut full-length, Storm, and that greatly bolsters the album’s personality. Even as they lumber, the riffs of 11-minute opener “To Wander” are fuzzed-out, and that remains true throughout the five mostly-extended cuts the trio of drummer Olle Svahn, bassist Frans Levin and guitarist/vocalist Pontus Ottosson present on their first record, which follows the 2012 demo, Samsara (review here). Centerpiece “Slithering” is the shortest and most churning of the bunch at 6:32, but the particularly YOBian “Requiem” underscores another value greatly working in Storm’s favor – the patience with which Snailking present the ambience of their pieces. That will serve them well as they continue to distinguish themselves from their forebears, but for now, Storm makes a welcome opening salvo from the three-piece highlighting both their potential and how far they’ve come already since the release of their demo.

Snailking on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds

Godmaker, Godmaker

godmaker godmaker

The self-titled debut from thoroughly-bearded Brooklynite four-piece Godmaker arrives via Aqualamb as an art-book and download, a full 96 pages of designs, lyrics to the four included tracks of the vinyl-ready 32-minute long-player, live shots from a variety of sources, bizarre geometry and odd etchings feeding the atmosphere of the songs themselves, somewhere between sludge, thrash and aggressive noise with scream-topped moments of doom like “Shallow Points.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalists Pete Ross and Chris Strait, bassist Andrew Archey and drummer Jon Lane, Godmaker fluidly shifts between the various styles at work in their sound, whether it’s the explosion at the end of “Shallow Points” or that beginning the rush of opener “Megalith,” and while their self-titled is a dense listen, with the surprising post-hardcore take of “Desk Murder” and the check-out-this-badass-riff-now-we’re-going-to-smash-your-face-with-it 11-minute metallic closer “Faded Glory,” it efficiently satisfies. More so after a couple listens front to back. If Godmaker were breaking your bones, it would be a clean break, and yes, that’s a compliment to their attack.

Godmaker on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb

Void Generator, Supersound

void generator supersound

Supersound is the first full-length from Italian heavy psych rockers Void Generator since 2010’s Phantom Hell and Soar Angelic (review here), and where that album held three extended pieces, the latest and third overall breaks into smaller pieces. Some of those are extended – opener “Behind My Door” is 8:09 and “Master of the Skies” tops nine minutes – but the bulk of Supersound’s seven tracks is shorter works somewhere between desert rock and classic psych, guitarist Gianmarco Iantaffi leading the four-piece with a  more subdued vocal approach than last time out, compressed even in the rowdier verses of “What are You Doin’” (written by Sandro Chiesa), on which the keys of Enrico Cosimi feature heavily and add to the sound too crisp to be totally retro but still vehemently organic. Bassist Sonia Caporossi (also acoustic guitar on penultimate interlude “Universal Winter”) and drummer Marco Cenci hold together the fluid grooves as Void Generator follows these varied impulses, and Supersound proves cohesive and no less broadly scoped than its predecessor.

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Phonosphera Records

The Mound Builders, Wabash War Machine

the mound builders wabash war machine

There’s a version of The Mound Builders’ 17-minute Wabash War Machine EP from Failure Records and Tapes that includes a comic book, but even the regular sleeve CD edition gives a glimpse at the Lafayette, Indiana, five-piece’s heavy Southern metal push. The middle two of the four inclusions, “Sport of Crows” and “Bar Room Queen,” surfaced earlier this year on a split tape with Bo Jackson 5 (review here), but opener “Wabash War Machine” and the sludged-up closer “The Mound” on which the guitars of Brian Boszor and “Ninja” Nate Malher phase between channels and vocalist Jim Voelz delivers his harshest performance to date, are brand new, albeit recorded at the same sessions in July 2013. “Wabash War Machine” highlights the band’s blend of southern metal and heavy groove, guitar intricacy and a gang-shout chorus meeting thick rollout from bassist Robert Ryan Strawsma and drummer Jason “Dinger” Brookhart, but it’s the finale that’s the EP’s most lasting impression, as pummeling as The Mound Builders have gotten to date.

The Mound Builders on Thee Facebooks

Failure Records and Tapes

Mother Kasabian, Mother Kasabian

mother kasabian mother kasabian

In Olof’s buzzsaw guitar tone, the thud of Karl’s drums and Gidon’s abiding vocal menace, “Strike of the Emperor” gives notice of some Celtic Frost influence, but that’s hardly the whole tale when it comes Stockholm trio Mother Kasabian’s self-titled, self-released debut EP, as “The Black Satanic Witch of Saturn” immediately calls to mind The Doors in its minimal, spacious verse and offsets this with a soulful classic heavy rock chorus en route to the seven-minute “Close of Kaddish,” which works in a similar pattern – hitting notes of Trouble-style doom in its crescendos – and offers Mother Kasabian’s widest ranging moment ahead of the swaggering closer “The Return of the Mighty King and His Cosmic Elephants.” Swinging drums and variety in Gidon’s The Crazy World of Arthur Brown-style approach give the EP a distinguished feel despite raw production and it being Mother Kasabian’s first outing, and with the psych touches in the finale and a generally unhinged vibe throughout, the trio showcase considerable potential at work.

Mother Kasabian on Thee Facebooks

Mother Kasabian on Bandcamp

Deep Space Destructors, III

deep space destructors iii

Active since 2011 and with two prior full-lengths – 2012’s I (review here) and 2013’s II (review here) – under their belt, Oulu, Finland, heavy psych trio Deep Space Destructors offer their definitive stylistic statement in the wash of III, a five-song/45-minute cosmic excursion with progressive krautrock edge (see “Spaceship Earth”) driven into heavier territory through dense fuzz in guitarist Petri Lassila’s tone and the chemistry between he, vocalist/bassist Jani Pitkänen and drummer Markus Pitkänen. Their extended but plotted jammy course finds culmination in the 15-minute penultimate cut “An Ode to Indifferent Universe,” – King Crimson and Floyd laced together by synth sounds – but the space-rock thrust of closer “Ikuinen Alku” highlights the multifaceted approach Deep Space Destructors have developed since their inception, consistently psychedelic but expansive. The sides gel effectively on “Cosmic Burial,” lending modern crash and tonal heft to classic ideals to craft something new from them in admirable form. As far out as they’ve gone, Deep Space Destructors still seem to be exploring new ground.

Deep Space Destructors on Thee Facebooks

Deep Space Destructors on Bandcamp

Underdogs, Underdogs

underdogs underdogs

Released as a cooperative production between Garage Records and Go Down Records, Italian trio Underdogs’ second, self-titled LP pushes further along the straight-lined course of heavy rock their 2007 debut, Ready to Burn, and 2011’s Revolution Love (review here) charted. Songs like “Nothing but the Best” strip away the Queens of the Stone Age-style fuzz of past outings in favor of a cleaner tone and overall feel, and while that spirit shows up later on side B’s “Called Play” and the rumbling grunge of “My Favourite Game” (a cover of The Cardigans), the prevailing vibe speaks to European commercial viability with clear hooks and straightforward structures. Acoustic finale “The Closing Song” offers a last-minute shift in style, calling to mind UnderdogsDogs without Plugs digital release, but even in more barebones form, the songwriting remains the focus on this mature third offering from a three-piece who’ve clearly figured out the direction in which they want to head and have set about developing an audience-friendly sound.

Underdogs on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records

Human Services, Animal Fires

human services animal fires

Since they issued their self-titled debut (review here) in 2012, Virginia’s Human Services have brought aboard Steve Kerchner of Lord, and he brings as much a sense of chaos to Animal Fires as one might expect in teaming with Jeff Liscombe, Sean Sanford, Don Piffalo and Billy Kurilko, though the 59-minute full-length isn’t without its structure. Longer songs pair with concise noise experiments throughout the first 10 of the total 13 tracks, and each is different, so that even as the gap between songs is bridged, the stylistic basis for Animal Fires is branched out. The result is that by the time “Onyedinci Yil Sürüsü” closes out the album proper before the 17-minute live inclusion “No Structures in the Eye of the Jungle” hits, Human Services have reimagined the modus of Godflesh as an extremity of organic noisemaking, Southern heavy and eerie progressivism. Shades of Neurosis show up in centerpiece “Rats of a Feather,” but they too are twisted to suit the band’s creative purposes, threatening and engagingly bleak.

Human Services on Thee Facebooks

Human Services on Bandcamp

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Snailking Stream “Slithering” from New LP Storm

Posted in audiObelisk on September 1st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

snailking

Swedish trio Snailking will release their new album, Storm, Sept. 15 through Belgian imprint Consouling Sounds. It is their second offering behind a well-received 2012 demo/LP, Samsara (review here), and greatly widens the scope from that offering, holding onto some of the cosmic doom sensibility showed then but adding an almost Godfleshy timekeeping stomp to the drums of Karl Jonas Wijk on songs like “Premonitions” and burying guitarist Pontus Ottosson‘s vocals deep within his and bassist Frans Levin‘s collective glug of tone so that he seems to be shouting like he’s trapped underneath his own band’s cacophony.

Three of the five tracks on Storm top 10 minutes long, including the opening duo of “To Wonder” (11:03) and “Premonitions” (10:57), so it’s clear Snailking are still going for an expansive sound. As one might expect, they owe a bit of a debt to their namesake Ufomammut, from whose 2004 landmark LP they take their name, but more than on Samsara, Snailking establish themselves on Storm as a progressive unit engaged in their own evolutionary process. The onslaught of “To Wonder” and “Premonitions” isn’t to be understated — it is a doomed psychedelia to which they’re committed, even in the quiet reaches of the second cut — but the shorter “Slithering” (6:32) introduces a post-metallic feel to the well-bearded three-piece’s lumbering groove, less indebted to YOB than was snailking stormtheir last time out, but still showcasing a touch of that churning in its riffs.

Primarily, what Snailking do well on Storm is create a sense of the space in which the album unfolds, and in terms of individual pieces, it’s almost inevitable they’d do it best on “Requiem,” the longest song here at 16:57. In the YOB tradition, it begins with minimal, slow-weaving effects-laden guitar and gradually unveils its full push over the first several minutes, a slow rollout of doomed gravity that will encompass the remainder of the runtime. Hypnotic for its repetition, but crushing, its distinction comes through low, atmospherically mixed growls, screams and shouts, as much black metal as Neurosis, that serve to remind the listener that somewhere in this morass of chest-vibrating low end there is in fact a human presence. If you’re not too quickly swallowed by “Requiem” and can keep your consciousness about you, it is a stirring highlight for Storm and a moment where Snailking‘s plod is most their own.

The closer, “Void” (8:00), holds to some of this same mentality, beginning quiet and ambient before moving into a dense sonic pummel, but as Snailking finish out, Ottosson leaves out vocals and substitutes an extended, drawn-out solo instead, lending the finale a dirge-type feel, less thunderous than “Requiem” before it but all the more mournful in a European doom tradition. That lead holds firm as the other elements crash to a finish, and it as a couple seconds of feedback stumble Storm to its end, they serve as a reminder of how early into the band’s development they actually are — with the confidence of their delivery and the wide ranging feel both sides of the album present, it’s easy to forget. If this is just the beginning, then even better, since as much as Storm works to create its own space, so too do Snailking set themselves up to be that space’s sole inhabitants, working toward an individual approach that one hopes they’ll continue to forge going forward.

I have the pleasure of hosting a stream of “Slithering” today for the record. Please find it on the player below and enjoy:

Snailking‘s Storm will be out Sept. 15 on Consouling Sounds and is available now to preorder in colored vinyl (black, blue and clear; 100 copies), black vinyl (200 copies) and CD. More info at the links.

Snailking on Thee Facebooks

Preorder Storm at Consouling Sounds

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audiObelisk Transmission 039

Posted in Podcasts on August 26th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

This one’s a couple minutes shorter than the last few have been, but lacks nothing for substance, and particularly after YOB‘s “Marrow,” anything I put at the end would’ve just been filler to meet some imaginary obligation on my part. If you feel like you’re lacking the four minutes, give me a call and we’ll chat about records for the rest of that time. It’ll be a hoot. In any case, I think there’s plenty here to sink into — stuff that for a lot of people, myself included, will be on year-end lists and albums for which 2014 will be remembered when all is said and done. Two of my four current contenders for Album of the Year are featured, first and last.

Parts of this podcast are gorgeous, parts are ugly, but I think everything here holds up in terms of quality and listening back, I like the way this one gets immersive with a mix of longer tracks and shorter ones, slower and faster, etc. As always, I hope you enjoy, and I thank you sincerely for taking the time to check it out.

First Hour:
Lo-Pan, “Regulus” from Colossus (2014)
Steak, “Liquid Gold” from Slab City (2014)
The Well, “Mortal Bones” from Samsara (2014)
Orange Goblin, “The Devil’s Whip” from Back from the Abyss (2014)
Kvlthammer, “Hesh Trip” from Kvlthammer (2014)
Snailking, “To Wonder” from Storm (2014)
Earth, “From the Zodiacal Light” from Primitive and Deadly (2014)
Pallbearer, “Watcher in the Dark” from Foundations of Burden (2014)
Sorxe, “Her Majesty” from Surrounded by Shadows (2014)

Second Hour:
Humo del Cairo, “Tres” from Preludio EP (2014)
Joy, “Miles Away” from Under the Spell Of… (2014)
Megaton Leviathan, “Past 21” from Past 21: Beyond the Arctic Cell (2014)
Bong, “Blue at Noon” from Haikai No Ku – Ultra High Dimensionality LP (2014)
YOB, “Marrow” from Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)

Total running time: 1:53:47

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 039

 

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Snailking to Release Storm on Sept. 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 8th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

If you don’t immediately recall Swedish trio Snailking‘s three-song Consouling Sounds debut/demo from back in 2012, Samsara (review here), the prevailing impression was a YOB-style cosmic doom, psychedelic, heavy, exploratory and cohesive. It was an impressive first outing, and today the PR wire brings news of a follow-up. Storm, also to be issued through Consouling Sounds, is due out Sept. 15.

They’re streaming a new track, “Premonitions,” that you can hear below, and whether you’re familiar with their past offering or not, it’s worth checking out. Some of the Mike Scheidt-style riffing remains — that pull-back and lurch-forward approach with hints of melody snuck in — Snailking, who are named after Ufomammut‘s landmark 2004 album, distinguish themselves with multiple vocalists and through the smoothness with which they execute the build that comprises more than the second half of the song. The ending of “Premonitions” is also notable for its noisy drone that, it’s easy enough to imagine, serves as a direct tie to “Slithering,” which follows in the tracklisting given below. If Snailking are looking to present Storm as a whole work, that tells us something else about what we might expect from the new release. I’ll hope to find out if that’s how it goes.

Deference to the PR wire:

Sweden’s Snailking Announce New Album; Reveal Brand New Track

Swedish-based sludge/doom trio SNAILKING will release their debut full-length album “Storm” via Consouling Sounds on September 15th.

Take a listen to the first audio insight, the album’s second track “Premonitions” right here.

The five-song album features the artwork of Swedish artist Johan Leion (www.johanleion.com) and will be available on two different formats, a CD version featuring an extra track and a 12” LP version limited to 300 copies that also includes the CD. Pre-orders for “Storm” will be available soon at: http://consouling.be

See the full tracklisting below.

1. To Wonder
2. Premonitions
3. Slithering
4. Requiem
5. Void

http://www.snailking.se
http://www.facebook.com/SnailkingSWE
http://snailking.bandcamp.com
http://www.consouling.be
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Consouling-Sounds/77101481816
http://twitter.com/consouling

Snailking, “Premonitions”

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