The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

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

the obelisk top 20 short releases

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

This is the hardest list to put together, no question. Don’t get me wrong, I put way too much thought into all of them, but this one is damn near impossible to keep up with. Every digital single, every demo, every EP, every 7″, 10″ one-sided 12″, whatever it is. There’s just too much. I’m not going to claim to have heard everything. Hell, that’s what the comments are for. Let me know what I missed. Invariably, something.

So while the headers might look similar, assuming I can ever remember which fonts I use from one to the next, this list has a much different personality than, say, the one that went up earlier this week with the top 20 debuts of 2017. Not that I heard everyone’s first record either, but we’re talking relative ratios here. The bottom line is please just understand I’ve done my best to hear as much as possible. I’m only one person, and there are only so many hours in the day. Eventually your brain turns into riffy mush.

With that caveat out of the way, I’m happy to present the following roundup of some of what I thought were 2017’s best short releases. That’s EPs, singles, demos, splits — pretty much anything that wasn’t a full-length album, and maybe one or two things that were right on the border of being one. As between genres, the lines are blurry these days. That’s part of what makes it fun.

Okay, enough dawdling. Here we go:

lo-pan-in-tensions

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Short Releases of 2017

1. Lo-Pan, In Tensions
2. Godhunter, Codex Narco
3. Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead
4. Shroud Eater, Three Curses
5. Stubb, Burning Moon
6. Canyon, Canyon
7. Solace, Bird of Ill Omen
8. Kings Destroy, None More
9. Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam
10. Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme
11. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
12. Rope Trick, Red Tape
13. Eternal Black, Live at WFMU
14. IAH, IAH
15. Bong Wish, Bong Wish EP
16. Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie Demo
17. Hollow Leg, Murder
18. Mars Red Sky, Myramyd
19. Avon, Six Wheeled Action Man Tank 7″
20. Wretch, Bastards Born

Honorable Mention

Across Tundras, Blood for the Sun / Hearts for the Rain
The Discussion, Tour EP
Fungus Hill, Creatures
Switchblade Jesus & Fuzz Evil, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Seven
The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny
Test Meat, Demo
Blood Mist, Blood Mist
Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell
Dautha, Den Foerste
Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti
Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard Part 2
Decasia, The Lord is Gone
Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore, Split 7″

I can’t imagine I won’t add a name or two or five to this section over the next few days as I think of other things and people remind me of stuff and so on, so keep an eye out, but the point is there’s way more than just what made the top 20. That Across Tundras single would probably be on the list proper just on principle, but I heard it like a week ago and it doesn’t seem fair. Speaking of unfair, The Discussion, Howling Giant, The Grand Astoria and the Bible of the Devil/Leeches of Lore split all deserve numbered placement easily. I might have to make this a top 30 in 2018, just to assuage my own guilt at not being able to include everything I want to include. For now though, yeah, this is just the tip of the doomberg.

Notes

To be totally honest with you, that Lo-Pan EP came out Jan. 13 and pretty much had the year wrapped up in my head from that point on. It was going to be hard for anything to top In Tensions, and the Godhunter swansong EP came close for the sense of stylistic adventurousness it wrought alone, and ditto that for Year of the Cobra’s bold aesthetic expansions on Burn Your Dead and Shroud Eater’s droning Three Cvrses, but every time I heard Jeff Martin singing “Pathfinder,” I knew it was Lo-Pan’s year and all doubt left my mind. Of course, for the Ohio four-piece, In Tensions is something of a one-off with the departure already of guitarist Adrian Zambrano, but I still have high hopes for their next record. It would be hard not to.

The top five is rounded out by Stubb’s extended jam/single “Burning Moon,” which was a spacey delight and new ground for them to cover. The self-titled debut EP from Philly psych rockers Canyon, which they’ve already followed up, is next. I haven’t had the chance to hear the new one yet, but Canyon hit a sweet spot of psychedelia and heavy garage that made me look forward to how they might develop, so I’ll get there sooner or later. Solace’s return was nothing to balk at with their cassingle “Bird of Ill Omen” and the Sabbath cover with which they paired it, and though Kings Destroy weirded out suitably on the 14-minute single-song EP None More, I hear even greater departures are in store with their impending fourth LP, currently in progress.

A couple former bandmates of mine feature in Tarpit Boogie in guitarist George Pierro and bassist John Eager, and both are top dudes to be sure, but even if we didn’t have that history, it would be hard to ignore the tonal statement they made on their Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam EP. If you didn’t hear it, go chase it down on Bandcamp. Speaking of statements, Supersonic Blues’ Supersonic Blues Theme 7″ was a hell of an opening salvo of classic boogie that I considered to be one of the most potential-laden offerings of the year. Really. Such warmth to their sound, but still brimming with energy in the most encouraging of ways. Another one that has to be heard to be believed.

The dudes are hardly newcomers, but Grief offshoot Come to Grief sounded pretty fresh — and raw — on their The Worst of Times EP, and the Massachusetts extremists check in right ahead of fellow New Englangers Rope Trick, who are an offshoot themselves of drone experimentalists Queen Elephantine. Red Tape was a demo in the demo tradition, and pretty formative sounding, but seemed to give them plenty of ground on which to develop their aesthetic going forward, and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that.

Eternal Black gave a much-appreciated preview of their Bleed the Days debut long-player with Live at WFMU and earned bonus points for recording it at my favorite radio station, while Argentine trio IAH probably went under a lot of people’s radar with their self-titled EP but sent a fervent reminder that that country’s heavy scene is as vibrant as ever. Boston-based psych/indie folk outfit Bong Wish were just the right combination of strange, melodic and acid-washed to keep me coming back to their self-titled EP on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, and as Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass debuted his new project Rattlesnake with the Outlaw Boogie demo, the consistency of his songcraft continued to deliver a classic feel. Another one to watch out for going into the New Year.

I wasn’t sure if it was fair to include Hollow Leg’s Murder or not since it wound up getting paired with a special release of their latest album, but figured screw it, dudes do good work and no one’s likely to yell about their inclusion here. If you want to quibble, shoot me a comment and quibble away. Mars Red Sky only released Myramyd on vinyl — no CD, no digital — and I never got one, but heard a private stream at one point and dug that enough to include them here anyway. They remain perennial favorites.

Avon, who have a new record out early in 2018 on Heavy Psych Sounds, delivered one of the year’s catchiest tracks with the “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” single. I feel like I’ve had that song stuck in my head for the last two months, mostly because I have. And Wretch may or may not be defunct at this point — I saw word that drummer Chris Gordon was leaving the band but post that seems to have disappeared now, so the situation may be in flux — but their three-songer Bastards Born EP was a welcome arrival either way. They round out the top 20 because, well, doom. Would be awesome to get another LP out of them, but we’ll see I guess.

One hopes that nothing too egregious was left off, but one again, if there’s something you feel like should be here that isn’t, please consider the invitation to leave a comment open and let me know about it. Hell, you know what? Give me your favorites either way, whether you agree with this list or not. It’s list season, do it up. I know there’s the Year-End Poll going, and you should definitely contribute to that if you haven’t, but what was your favorite EP of the year? The top five? Top 10? I’m genuinely curious. Let’s talk about it.

Whether you have a pick or not (and I hope you do), thanks as always for reading. May the assault of short releases continue unabated in 2018 and beyond.

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From Spliff to Riff Fest Set for Oct. 21; Solace, Electric Horsemen, Green Meteor & More Confirmed

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Cool mix of bands taking part in the first-ever From Spliff to Riff fest this October in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Alternative Gallery will play host to the event, and it’s worth noting that the top two acts on the bill — Solace and Electric Horsemen — are both relatively recently reformed. NJ chaosbringers Solace have been playing out sporadically since 2015 and earlier this year they released their first single since 2010’s A.D. (review here) in the form of the limited cassette  Bird of Ill-Omen (review here), which so far as I know has only been available at shows. In addition to headlining at From Spliff to Riff, they just topped the bill at the first NEPA Heavy-Psych-Doom fest in Stroudsberg, PA, and they’ll take part in the first Descendants of Crom festival in Pittsburgh this September as well.

Electric Horsemen, meanwhile, announced they were back just this past February. They posted a previously-recorded single and set about playing locally in the Eastern Pennsylvania region, and should be right at home at The Alternative Gallery in the company of fellow PA-based acts like HighburnatorLord CrowGreen MeteorThe Stone Eye and Mudbucker, as well as Black Hand, who will come north from Delaware to play.

Pretty strong group of locals to inaugurate what will hopefully become a yearly tradition. Here’s the lineup info and links as posted on the Thee Facebooks event page:

From Spliff to Riff banner

From Spliff To Riff Fest

OCT. 21

The Alternative Gallery
707 N 4th St, Ste 103, Allentown, Pennsylvania 18102

First annual “From Spliff To Riff Fest”

8 bands, 2 stages, a full day of heaviness in the heart of downtown Allentown at The Alternative Gallery! More details to come, but for now, just chew on this lineup!

SOLACE (NJ)
http://www.facebook.com/SolaceBand/
ELECTRIC HORSEMEN (PA)
https://www.facebook.com/electrichorsemen/
HIGHBURNATOR (PA)
https://www.facebook.com/highburnatorband/
LORD CROW (PA)
https://www.facebook.com/lordcrowriffs/
GREEN METEOR (PA)
https://www.facebook.com/greenmeteor/
BLACK HAND (DE)
https://www.facebook.com/BlackHandMarksYou/
THE STONE EYE (PA)
https://www.facebook.com/TheStoneEye/
MUDBUCKER (PA)
https://www.facebook.com/mudbucker/

https://www.facebook.com/events/209122586283542/
https://www.facebook.com/thealternativegallery/

Solace, “Indolence” live at the Brighton Bar, June 24, 2017

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Friday Full-Length: Solace & Solarized, Jersey Devils Split

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Solace & Solarized, Jersey Devils Split (1999)

Hit the right store on the right day and you might still run into a copy of the 1999 Jersey Devils split between Solarized and Solace. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen one around somewhere in the last year, anyhow, and it’s one that if, you run into it, it’s well worth taking note. Both bands wreck it. Like they got invited to a fancy dinner party and smashed the china, cracked the stemware and made off with the good silver so they could pawn it and buy more amps to blow out. Like something out of an ’80s metal video except played by punk rockers who decided at some point to get heavy. Released through Freebird Records and MeteorCity, Jersey Devils combined an EP from each outfit — both based in my beloved Garden State — into one eight-track/45-minute CD, and managed to document a particular moment in the scene around the Central Jersey Shore area, from Asbury Park to Long Branch.

The same region, small, densely-packed, crowded in summer, intense in the peculiar way of the Northeastern US, but still very much a “beach town” atmosphere, had already launched the likes of CoreMonster Magnet and The Atomic Bitchwax, and unsurprisingly, the members of Solarized and Solace were a part of that sphere as well. Though their roots, as noted, came from punk, Solace guitarist Tommy Southard and bassist Rob Hultz (now also of Trouble) played in the prior outfit Godspeed in the mid-’90s — also in a ton of other bands — and Solarized followed a similar path, with guitarist Jim Hogan playing in Dirge before establishing himself in Daisycutter and, with drummer Reg Hogan as the second in a core duo surrounded by a revolving cast of bassists and guitarists including Lou Gorra of Halfway to Gone, eventually landing in the fuzzier aesthetic of later-’90s stoner rock.

Timing-wise, Jersey Devils could hardly have hit at a better moment. Both bands were still a bit off from making their full-length debut, so the split was as much an introduction as it was a showcase, and taking the first turn, Solarized brought out the four tracks of what they called the Eight Ways to Sunday EP, a sub-15-minute work on the rawer end of heavy rock and roll, fueled by a propulsive straightforwardness that spoke to Hogan‘s sonic origins despite its thicker tones. Song titles “Slide,” “Drifter,” “Crucible” and “Sugar Bag” likewise served notice of a lack of a sans-frills approach, more concerned with momentum and attitude in the immediate start of “Slide” and post-grunge thrust on “Drifter” than with fleshing these pieces out as much as even Solace would do during their portion of this release. It was a mean sound, but not without its groove or play on tempo, as “Slide” and “Crucible” took on a more mid-paced push and “Drifter” and the quick-turning 2:45 instrumental “Sugar Bag” offered a belted-out summary of where they came from and where they were headed, and the predilection for winding rhythms — something they held in common with The Atomic Bitchwax, whose first album also surfaced around this time — that would continue as they careened into their Neanderthal Speedway long-player on Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records, which like many titles on that long-defunct imprint, remains woefully in need of a reissue.

As regards Solace, here’s some quick math: If Jersey Devils is 45 minutes long — and it is; 45 minutes flat — and Solarized take just less than 15 of those 45 for their four inclusions, that leaves Solace with more than two-thirds of the release for their own material. Balance? Fuck it. Not when you can include a live cover of James Gang‘s “Funk #49” at the end after three originals, the first two of which are longer than what the band before has done. Solace basically ate Jersey Devils alive, is what I’m trying to say. And in so doing, they characterized the brazenness that would become an essential facet of their personality as a group and gave a preview of both of their first two albums, with “Heavy Birth/2-Fisted” going on to appear as the finale of 2000’s Further and “Try” showing up again on 2003’s 13 (discussed here). I’ll never try to feign impartiality when it comes to their work — because make no mistake, I’m a fan — but through “Heavy Birth/2-Fisted,” “Dirt,” “Try” and the aforementioned “Funk #49,” Solace tore ass and had a party doing it. Even the quiet stretch of guitar led by Southard‘s psychedelic jamminess at the start of “Dirt” seemed like a precursor to a riot, and sure enough, it was. Vocalist Jason was on fire and drummer Kenny Lund (or is it Bill “Bixby” Belford here?) no less adaptable building the tension in the midsection of “Heavy Birth/2-Fisted” than to holding the ground beneath the solo at the end of “Dirt” or the all-out intensity of “Try”‘s explosive payoff.

Neither group would ultimately be defined as a whole by the work they did on Jersey Devils, but the split was pivotal in setting the course of both. Solarized would release Neanderthal Speedway also in ’99, roughly concurrent, and follow-up with their second record, Driven, in 2001 — their swansong to-date. They’d continue to play local shows for years and rotate their lineup around Jim and Reg to one degree or another, and the pair can now be found in the hardcore-punk-tinged Defiance Engine, whose latest single, “Capitol Hell,” came out in 2014. Solace, in the meantime, stomped through Further and 13 and a handful of shorter offerings before their 2010 masterstroke, A.D. (review here), preceded a period of hiatus. In 2015, they returned with drummer Tim Schoenleber and vocalist Justin Goins joining SouthardHultz and guitarist Justin Daniels, and earlier this year they released the cassingle Bird of Ill-Omen (review here) and were confirmed to take part in Magnetic Eye Records‘ Pink Floyd tribute compilation (info here), as well as Pittsburgh’s inaugural Descendants of Crom fest in September (info here) — all hopefully as a precursor to a new full-length somewhere down the line.

I’m not saying hold your breath, but hey, it could happen.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

After spending all of last week on the road — to Maryland, North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut; East Coast tour! — The Patient Mrs., the impending Pecan, the Little Dog Dio and I got back home to Massachusetts this past Tuesday. We brought my mother north with us from NJ last Saturday and she’s been staying here since, helping us get ready for the baby in October. It’s been fantastic having her around, and we’re kind of laid back, which I think she’s appreciated at least in a nice-place-to-visit-but-if-I-lived-here-I’d-be-bored-out-of-my-fucking-mind kind of way, which is fair. Anyway, we rarely get quiet time together, so I’ve really enjoyed it. Got a lot done for the Pecan — changing table and pack and play (mostly) accomplished — so all the better. Tuesday I made a taco-flavored ground-chicken meatloaf as well, and that ruled.

Today — probably around the time this post goes live, actually — we’ll head back south to Connecticut again. My mother will likely be picked up by my sister and go home either tomorrow or Sunday, but The Patient Mrs. and I will stay at the beach probably at least until the middle of next week. I’ve packed enough underwear to get through Wednesday. After that, I either need to come home, do laundry, or buy more boxers. It being between semesters and my being unemployed, there isn’t really any call to be anywhere at any given moment, and for now, that’s been nice.

That trip south was harrowing at times, and I’ve been I think justifiably beat as a result, but a couple days back up here at home have been restorative. Watched some Star Trek: The Next Generation, tried a new-to-me local health food store that was pretty good, wrote, and, again, got a lot done for the Pecan. You should’ve seen me take the dresser out of The Patient Mrs. car by myself yesterday. Looked like a damned fool.

With all the back and forth though, I’ve decided to push the Quarterly Review back another week. That gives me next week to prepare and it’ll start on Monday, July 10. Do you care? Probably not. We’ll get there. My desktop is too crowded not to do it, so it’ll happen. In the meantime though, next week has filled up well, especially considering the holiday.

Here’s what’s in the notes, subject to change without notice:

Mon.: The Midnight Ghost Train review/lyric video premiere; video premiere from Hypertonus; new track from Thee Iron Hand.
Tue.: Radio Adds (for America!); Blackout video.
Wed.: Venomous Maximus review/track premiere; maybe a video premiere from Salem’s Bend.
Thu.: Six Dumb Questions with Demon Head; The Great Beyond video.
Fri.: Lowrider Ode to Io vinyl reissue review with a premiere of an exclusive side-by-side comparison mix to the original version (it’s gonna be cool).

Like I said, busy week. There’s news and such and sundry as well. It’ll be good. Stick around. It’ll be good.

Please have a great and safe weekend. If you’re in the US and celebrating the July 4 holiday next Tuesday, don’t blow off your hand with fireworks. If you imbibe alcohol or anything else, do so carefully. Have fun. Have all the fun. But no casualties, please.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Solace, Bird of Ill Omen: What Rough Beast

Posted in Reviews on March 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

solace bird of ill omen electric funeral

When New Jersey bringers-of-chaos Solace released what was then their first album in seven years in their third full-length, A.D. (review here), I referred to it as the beginning of “a new era” for the band. Wishful thinking on my part as an admitted fan of their work. True, A.D., which was issued by Small Stone, had been in the making since 2003’s 13 (discussed here) came out on MeteorCity, and across their 2005 split with Greatdayforup and 2007 The Black Black EP, the band weren’t completely silent — quite the opposite, actually; they also toured Europe as well during this time — and A.D. was hands-down the best album of 2010, but it was much more an ending than a beginning.

To wit, they headlined in 2012 at Days of the Doomed II (review here) in Cudahy, Wisconsin, playing what would be considered their final show until guitarists Tommy Southard and Justin Daniels and bassist Rob Hultz showed up at 2015’s Vultures of Volume II (review here) in Maryland with new Solace members, vocalist/keyboardist Justin Goins and drummer Tim Schoenleber, in replacement of first-name-only singer Jason and drummer Kenny Lund. Even for Solace, who’d lived for years under the slogan “Die Drunk” and set their own standard for balancing unhinged sensibilities with some of the rawest heavy rock/metal performances one could hope to find in the US underground, it was unanticipated. By then, A.D. was already half a decade old. Southard had gone on to release outings with the malevolently, violently sludged supergroup The Disease ConceptHultz had joined doom legends Trouble in Chicago, and a Solace return didn’t seem the slightest bit likely.

Not gonna happen? Never gonna happen? Should’ve seen it coming all along.

The first studio offering from this still-fresh incarnation of Solace, who have been gigging periodically since that Vultures of Volume appearance, comes a somehow-fitting seven years after A.D., and is a limited-to-100-copies cassette single with just two tracks: the original “Bird of Ill Omen” and a cover of Black Sabbath‘s classic “Electric Funeral” from 1970’s metal-founding landmark Paranoid. Pressed through a newly-minted self-releasing Black Black Records and streaming nowhere, it has one song per side, inkjet-printed cover art, oldschool assembly in the spirit of Solace‘s punker roots, and a sound that, despite the personnel shifts, the prominent inclusion of Goins‘ keys alongside the guitars of Southard and Daniels and the passage of time between, remains indelibly the band’s own.

Production is rawer than was A.D., which even at its meanest was awash in careful layering and vigorous assembly, but they’re in there. It’s Solace. Now 17 years out from their 2000 debut, Further, 20 years removed from their first demo work, and even longer past their roots in Hultz and Southard‘s prior outfit, Godspeed — in which Schoenleber also played — Solace make the most unpretentious of returns, perhaps a bit testing the waters ahead of more work to come, or perhaps setting themselves up for another prolonged absence. If time has proven anything futile, it’s trying to predict what they might do next, but the fact that the tape exists at all speaks to a general desire toward activity, and Bird of Ill Omen b/w Electric Funeral finds them slamming home the notion of who they are as a band with characteristic intensity, volume, and unbridled rhythmic force. To be fair, I don’t think they could have it any other way if they wanted to, but clearly they don’t want to.

solace

Obviously, between the two inclusions, “Bird of Ill Omen” itself is the greater point of interest on the tape. That’s not to take away from the Sabbath cover — they do well reinterpreting the track in a manner that gives Goins further opportunity to make an impression on vocals and keys, and move from a mellow, brooding start to a more brash finish, keeping the core piece recognizable while putting their own stamp on it as much as anyone ever could — but in terms of telling the tale of who Solace are circa 2017, it’s “Bird of Ill Omen” doing that work on a songwriting level. It begins at a smooth, moody pace that finds picks up to a more traditionally-doomed bridge and chorus, the vocals adding to the build in progress as they make their way through lyrics that reference Yeats‘ “Second Coming” and marry it to further poetry in lines like, “Any you will know that a life is but the breadth of a stone’s throw/That a hanged man’s eye sees nothing in the dark of the belly of a starved crow.” Not exactly spare, but effectively proclaimed to enhance the atmosphere alongside the steady, forward push from Schoenleber and Hultz, and still giving room for peppered-in guitar leads.

Some backing screams add fervor to the hook and they shift into post-Sabbath shuffle with the organ forward in the mix ahead of dual-harmonized solos over low-end chug, and make their way back through another Southard lead and into final verse and chorus to finish out “Bird of Ill Omen” clean, true to structure, but right on the edge of sounding like it’s about to come apart at the seams and never actually doing so — the long-established specialty of Solace, who, make no mistake, are in complete control of the proceedings the entire time, on “Bird of Ill Omen” and in the noisy apex of “Electric Funeral” on the other side of the tape, which seems at its start to make an instrument of the analog hiss as it trades the verses between the left and right channels. It goes from whispers to full-on shouts and instrumental volume follows suit, but by the time they get louder in the second half, they’ve already made their mark on “Electric Funeral,” and they only highlight the point when they drop back down to the percussion-inclusive, more-“Planet Caravan” vibe once again for the final verse, ending with a slowed-down-but-full-volume last push to cap the tape.

Solace had already proved on stage that they would be able to keep going without Jason or Lund, and in the spirit of a classic demo tape, Bird of Ill Omen accomplishes the same for a studio incarnation of the band. Does that mean they’re going to set immediately to work on a follow-up long-player, that one is going to materialize before the end of 2017, or 2018, or 2019, and mark the beginning of an era in which they reap the acclaim they’ve long since been due? Hell if I know. They’re committed to contributing a track to Magnetic Eye Records‘ upcoming Pink Floyd tribute, The Wall [Redux], and they have a few shows laid out ahead of them, but for anyone to speculate long-term about what Solace might do, the simple fact that the band even exists at this point undercuts that completely. 20-plus years on from their launch, Solace are back with a new recording and they’ve found a way to move themselves forward as a group should choice and circumstance allow them to do so. For a two-song cassette to communicate that as clearly as does Bird of Ill Omen seems like plenty to ask. Let the rest happen as it will.

Solace, Live at Vultures of Volume II

Solace on Thee Facebooks

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Magnetic Eye Records Adds Greenleaf, Mars Red Sky, Pallbearer, Yawning Man, ASG, Ruby the Hatchet, Sasquatch and More to The Wall [Redux]

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The clock is ticking on the crowdfunding campaign to support the making and release of Magnetic Eye Records‘ upcoming Pink Floyd tribute, The Wall [Redux], and the NY-based label has broken out some big guns in terms of confirmations for who will take part. Greenleaf, Mars Red Sky, Pallbearer, Ruby the Hatchet, ASG, Yawning Man, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic and Sasquatch, as well as the likes of Swedish crushers Domkraft, L.A.’s LowFlyingHawks and Ghastly Sound from the label’s own roster — along with the previously-announced Summoner — would seem to only bolster the offering as a whole, for which preorders are being taken directly through the Kickstarter. This is the third of these projects Magnetic Eye has done, and as ever, the scope of the thing is massive and the logistics seem, frankly, nightmarish.

You don’t need me to sell you on shit and you already know this is a cause worthy of your support, so I’ll spare you all that it’s-an-emergency-you-gotta-help-out whatnot, but suffice it to say that this thing happening only makes the world a better place. So there you go.

Here’s the latest update, courtesy of the label:

the wall redux

Magnetic Eye’s ambitious homage to Pink Floyd, THE WALL [REDUX], has gained some serious momentum in the final week of its preorder/crowdfunding campaign. The confirmation of several higher-profile artists, including Greenleaf, Pallbearer, Mars Red Sky, Yawning Man, Sasquatch and Noveller all signing on to bring their distinct voices to the project has prompted the MER to add an exclusive “Best of Pink Floyd” companion LP for Kickstarter backers. This complement to the main THE WALL [REDUX] will feature a range of cuts from throughout the Floyd catalog by even more fantastic artists from the scene and beyond.

There are still a few days left to support the project by pre-ordering one of several versions of the record, all of which will reflect Magnetic Eye’s well-documented aesthetic and penchant for gorgeous vinyl. This also means there’s still time for a final few hush-hush conversations to potentially yield even more intriguing artist confirmations.

To see what an undertaking this has been (and what an amazing spectacle the finished albums will surely be), here’s a quick review of the latest list of confirmed bands and an exclusive first reveal of some tracks, with numerous more still to be announced:

ASG, “Mother”
Domkraft
Ghastly Sound
Greenleaf
Mos Generator
Low Flying Hawks (feat. Dale Crover of The Melvins)
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard
Mars Red Sky, “Comfortably Numb”
Pallbearer, “Run Like Hell”
Ruby the Hatchet, “Pigs” (The Best of Pink Floyd)
Sasquatch
Sergeant Thunderhoof
The Slim Kings (feat. drummer Liberty DeVitto)
Solace, “In the Flesh”
Summoner
The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic (feat. Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet)
WhiteNails
Worshipper
Yawning Man
Year of the Cobra

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/magneticeye/the-wall-2
store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Mars Red Sky, Alien Grounds short film

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Descendants of Crom: Penance to Headline; Solace, Karma to Burn, The Midnight Ghost Train and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

descendants of crom

Lineup additions have continued to come out over the last week-plus since Pittsburgh-based fest Descendants of Crom made its first announcements with the formidable likes of EarthrideEYEFoghound and Stinking Lizaveta taking part. West Virginian instrumental trailblazers Karma to Burn, New Jersey rock destroyers Solace, Kansas boogie-thrusters The Midnight Ghost Train — as the names have appeared, the geographic reach of Descendants of Crom 2017, which is set for Sept. 30 on the Cattivo Nightclub‘s two stages, has only expanded, but perhaps the biggest addition yet brings the festival much closer to home.

Penance released their Alpha and Omega album in 2001 via the Martyr Music Group, and with it debuted a five-piece incarnation that will play for the first time in 15 years at Descendants of Crom, in a great add to the bill that fulfills the stated mission of the fest in honoring Pittsburgh’s own underground contributions as well as looking outside its borders. Badass all around.

In addition to the already-noted, CantOl’ Time Moonshine and Archarus, have also been added, so the more right on. Here’s the latest from the fest, including some comment from organizer Shy Kennedy on Penance signing on:

DESCENDANTS OF CROM – Penance to Headline with ‘Alpha & Omega’ Lineup

All-day fest set for Sept. 30, 2017, with two stages fueled by riffs created by the riddle of steel.

This all day music festival is the first of its kind in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The underground scene of stoner and doom here is healthy and thriving and the location at Cattivo Nightclub is perfect with two large floors, a stage on each, and good sound with friendly staff.

Descendants of Crom Festival lineup:
CANT
MONOLITH WIELDER
OL’ TIME MOONSHINE
ARCHARUS
HORSEBURNER
WASTED THEORY
FOGHOUND
EYE
BRIMSTONE COVEN
SOLACE
THE MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN
KARMA TO BURN
VALKYRIE
EARTHRIDE
STINKING LIZAVETA
PENANCE (Alpha & Omega lineup)

Shy Kennedy on Penance headlining:

It all starts out with an idea of, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be great if there were a gig in Pittsburgh that had a bunch of riff-fueled bands of all rock and metal genres?’ It’s the perfect place for it, really. The scene here is supportive and it’s an accessible city to many. It doesn’t come out of nowhere –- you have to make it happen.

Next, who headlines this underground, doom-rooted event? The answer would be Penance but they’ve been dormant for some time. The Alpha & Omega lineup are all right here and nearly all active in the scene someway or another. Turns out that you just have to ask. Penance are as excited to be a part of the Descendants of Crom as I am. A lot of the seasoned fans are going to appreciate this and for those who aren’t familiar with Penance are going to get a little lesson in Pittsburgh Doom History.

DESCENDANTS OF CROM will bring great regional talent to a hungry crowd, utilizing national fan favorites to lure them to learn about these other amazing artists. This first year is anticipated to be a contender among other established annual fests and will not be an event to miss.

http://facebook.com/descendantsofcrom
http://www.descendantsofcrom.com/

Penance, “Wizards of Mind”

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Magnetic Eye Records Announces The Wall [Redux] Compilation

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Well I mean, yes, clearly. I’m not even a Pink Floyd fan and it still makes almost too much sense to have a slew of heavy bands come together to honor their classic 2LP The Wall. Even setting aside whatever political commentary you might want to make, I just mean on a pure audio level, it’s one of those records that, even if you’re not into it, just about every band who ever walked the face of the earth either is or is influenced by another band who is, so yeah, pretty inescapable. And after the Jimi Hendrix tribute, Electric Ladyland [Redux] (review here), and taking on Helmet‘s genre-defining noise rock classic, Meantime, The Wall more than earns a spot in the pantheon of tributes the label is building.

But of course it would be nothing without the bands involved. So far, Magnetic Eye has announced Solace, Mos Generator, Worshipper, SummonerYear of the Cobra and The Slim Kings will take part in The Wall [Redux], and given the tracklisting there are many more to come. Room for just about everybody in a record so expansive.

I’ll keep you posted when I hear more, but for now here are the preliminaries hoisted from the project’s Kickstarter page:

magnetic eye records

Magnetic Eye Records – The Wall [Redux]

For our latest REDUX release, we re-imagine THE WALL from end to end… a project that couldn’t be more timely or challenging!

Magnetic Eye Records continues our REDUX release series, in which we choose an iconic album and invite an assortment of fantastic bands to re-imagine and cover its songs from end to end. Our first was ELECTRIC LADYLAND [REDUX], with bands like Earthless, All Them Witches, Mothership, Summoner, Wo Fat and Elephant Tree paying heed to the godfather of guitar gods, Jimi Hendrix.. This first installment in our REDUX series ruled. We worked with artists and illustrators such as Caitlin Hackett, Dale Sarok and David Paul Seymour who all contributed visual art to the project.

Our second REDUX release unleashed MEANTIME [REDUX], with Ken Mode, Meek is Murder, Fuck the Facts, Rosetta and other modern heavies taking on the Helmet hardcore classic. Jesse Schaller provided the layout design and cover art for Meantime [Redux] and the packaging alone was pretty amazing.

For our 3rd installment we are taking on one of the most ambitious projects we could imagine, Pink Floyd’s The Wall in full. The Wall is a 26 track album with a runtime of 121 minutes, making this our largest project to date. As this kickstarter campaign continues, we will release further details on bands and contributing artists and the members of our project team. We certainly cannot do this alone and need your full support!

We have already publicly announced that we have partnered again with David Paul Seymour, and he will be providing the cover art and layout for the project. Some of you may be aware that Magnetic Eye Records has worked with David many times on album art and label merchandise, and we are very involved with David and Tim Granda on their upcoming animated film, “The Planet of Doom.” You can visit their successfully funded Kickstarter campaign for the film at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theplanetofdoom/the-planet-of-doom-an-animated-tale-of-metal-and-a

We are going all in on this project, and the team that’s being assembled to create it are right men and women, artists and bands, to make it our most incredible release to date.

Check back over the next few weeks as we make new band announcements and begin to fill in this iconic tracklist with artists we know you’ll be stoked to see involved:

Side one

1. In the Flesh?
2. The Thin Ice
3. Another Brick in the Wall (Part I)
4. The Happiest Days of Our Lives
5. Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)
6. Mother
Side Two

1. Goodbye Blue Sky
2. Empty Spaces
3. Young Lust
4. One of My Turns
5. Don’t Leave Me Now
6. Another Brick in the Wall (Part III)
7. Goodbye Cruel World
Side Three

1. Hey You
2. Is There Anybody Out There?
3. Nobody Home
4. Vera
5. Bring the Boys Back Home
6. Comfortably Numb
Side Four

1. The Show Must Go On
2. In the Flesh
3. Run Like Hell
4. Waiting for the Worms
5. Stop
6. The Trail
7. Outside the Wall

Confirmed Bands (Song Selections Will Roll Out Shortly As Well):

#1 SOLACE – Incredibly excited to have our longtime friends from Jersey kicking things off by getting on board. You may remember Solace’s unforgettable albums “Further,” “13” and “A.D.” – and if you do, you know they are going to decimate their version of a Pink Floyd original. What a way to begin!

#2 WORSHIPPER (TeePee Records) – Damn! These guys rule. In case you’ve not had the opportunity to hear this great band before now, you can stream their debut album Shadow Hymns in full below, and start getting excited about what they’ll bring to this undertaking!

#3 SUMMONER – It may not come as a surprise, but with Summoner being one of the pillars upon which Magnetic Eye was built, you know there was no way this project was coming together without their majestic psych-metal glory. Oh, and did we mention they have a new album coming in the first half of 2017 as well?

#4 MOS GENERATOR – Prolific, forward-thinking, quasi-legendary… you can say many things about Tony Reed’s endlessly boundary-pushing outfit, but the main thing to say right now is that what they’ll do with a Pink Floyd classic is something we can’t wait to hear. Cheers to Tony and co. for their enthusiasm to jump on board!

#5 THE SLIM KINGS – Growing up next door to Liberty DeVitto gave Magnetic Eye’s founder many things, including a firsthand look at the career and talent of a true music industry lifer. After numerous decades drumming for the likes of Billy Joel, Karen Carpenter, Stevie Nicks, and Rick Wakeman, DeVitto’s current outfit The Slim Kings steps to the plate to show what monster musicianship and unparalleled experience can bring to a Pink Floyd classic.

#6 YEAR OF THE COBRA – Since their inception two years ago, this Seattle-based TWO-PIECE has been on the rise, making converts and fielding festival invitations around the world, especially following the release of their Billy Anderson-produced 2016 debut full-length. We can only guess how their stripped-down power will translate to Pink Floyd’s carefully-layered arrangements… but we’re excited to hear the result!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/magneticeye/the-wall-2
store.merhq.com
http://magneticeyerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords

Worshipper, Shadow Hymns (2016)

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Friday Full-Length: Solace, 13

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Solace, 13 (2003)

None more Jersey. With the not-always-underlying current of hardcore punk in their sound, their ‘Die Drunk’ mantra, the sheer force of their delivery, and the absolute dogshit luck that has plagued them since their inception, Solace are about as Garden State as Garden State gets. Born of the same Red Bank/Long Branch-area heavy scene (oh, I do remember some shows at the Brighton Bar… vaguely) that ignited the likes of Monster Magnet, Core, Drag PackThe Atomic Bitchwax, The Ribeye Brothers, Halfway to Gone, Daisycutter, Solarized, Lord Sterling, on and on, Solace started life as Godspeed and like Core, were picked up by Atlantic Records, for whom they’d release one album. Guitarist Tommy Southard and bassist Rob Hultz — the latter now also in doom legends Trouble — recruited singly-named, massively-talented and no-you-can’t-see-my-lyrics vocalist Jason and ran through a slew of drummers during the period of their 1998 self-titled EP and subsequent split with Solarized, which led into their 2000 debut, Further. Released by MeteorCity, that was an album ahead of its time, and it would be another three years before Solace were able to make the follow-up that would ultimately embody the tumult that has in large part always defined them: 2003’s 13.

Southard, Hultz, Jason and no fewer than four drummers — John Proveaux, Keith Ackerman, Bill “Bixby” Belford and Matt Gunvordahl — combined across, sure enough, 13 songs to make a record of near impossible cohesion. The kind of album one puts on, listens through, hears cuts like “King Alcohol,” “Common Cause” (with its Wino guest appearance from before that was a thing people did), the opening classic/modern meld of “Loving Sickness/Burning Fuel,” the raw aggression of “In the Oven,” the swinging Pentagram cover “Forever My Queen” (again, from long before everyone had their own version), the languid initial roll of “Try,” the conquering individualized blend that surfaces in “Rice Burner,” and so on, feels like they have a good understanding of, then gets through the end of bonus track “Shit Kisser” and is in a the-hell-did-I-just-witness daze for the rest of the day. Like few before or since, Solace have been able to bend chaos to their will. Part of that is personality — if you’re fortunate enough to know Tommy, it makes more sense — but part of it also originates in an inimitable complexity of songwriting that still comes through clear in its intent toward kicking ass, and with its punker roots, is never in danger of losing its way in a wash of pretentious technicality. Metal, punk, classic heavy and more all seemed to be in Solace‘s wheelhouse on 13, and over the course of the unmanageable, CD-era hour-plus runtime, Solace pivoted between them and drew them together in a ferocious, vibrant attack that no one, in Jersey or out, has been able to match, on stage or in studio. Sorry. No one.

True to form, it would be seven years before 13 got its own follow-up. They released two EPs, Hammerhead and The Black Black, in 2004 and 2007, respectively, with the lineup solidified around SouthardHultzJason, guitarist Justin Daniels and drummer Kenny Lund, but it still wasn’t until 2010 that their third full-length, A.D. (review here), arrived as their ultimate, and to-date final, triumph. No doubt it’ll be featured in this space at some point as well, but it was my pick for Album of the Year that year, and I stand by that entirely. At the time, it seemed Solace were back and ready to roll. I talked about it as the beginning of a new era for the band. Well, in 2012 they broke up, so there you go. They played what was to be their last show headlining at Days of the Doomed II (review here) in Cudahy, Wisconsin, and then were done until a semi-reunion brought SouthardDaniels and Hultz together with drummer Tim Schoenleber and vocalist/keyboardist Justin Goins for an appearance at 2015’s Vultures of Volume II (review here) in Maryland, playing on the bill directly under their one-time compatriots in Spirit Caravan, on their own reunion.

As to what the future holds, I wouldn’t dare to predict. The new incarnation of the band were in the studio as recently as this summer and fall working on new material, though to what end, I don’t know. Chaos remains a factor never far from the center of what they do, but I’ll note that we are coming up on seven years since A.D. in 2017, which would match the span between that and 13 before it.

Whether it’s new to you or old, I hope you enjoy 13. I’ve been a fan of the band for a long time, played shows with them, seen them more times than I could or would like to count and still pronounce their name “sol-ah-chay” in the spirit of Puny Human frontman Jim Starace (R.I.P., four years this month), but I can still hear new things in this album, and my sincere wish is that you do as well.

Thanks for reading.

Had to be something from New Jersey to close out this week, since I’m down here visiting family for the Thanksgiving holiday. I don’t get to see my people that often, at least not en masse, and as I’ve gotten older and as the physical distance has settled in over the past few years since The Patient Mrs. and I moved north, I’ve come to miss them dearly. My nephews are growing up and I don’t get to be a part of it in the way I otherwise would. It makes me sad, and it makes me appreciate the chances I do get to be with them all the more. They’re eight (going on nine, he’d want me to note) and six now. The years fly.

If you’re in the States, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, however you marked the day. Like a lot of stuff about this country, it has a pretty fucked origin, what with all that genocide of the land’s native people and culture — ongoing; look at DAPL — but at least it’s become a holiday less about cashing in and more about sitting down to a meal with loved ones, whatever rampant consumerism might happen the day after. It’s a little easier for me to take that than the holidays about selling greeting cards or candy or whatever else. Anyway, hope you enjoyed yours as I enjoyed mine.

Tonight, we head back north, The Patient Mrs. and I. Exhausting, but worth it in order to wake up at home tomorrow in our own bed. I will make myself an entire pot of coffee, as is my wont, and drink it leisurely as I begin to put stuff together for next week and play the Final Fantasy V remake on my cheapie tablet. Here are my current notes for what’s coming up:

Mon: Comacozer LP review and Year of the Cobra video premiere.
Tue: Akris review and Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters video premiere.
Wed: Megaritual LP review and Black Moon Circle video.
Thu: The 2016 Readers Poll goes live. Yup, it’s Dec. 1 already. Also Backwoods Payback review.
Fri: Right now it’s a Child review, though that might shift depending on what else comes through.

Some of that still needs to be organized, but it’s a basic running plan anyhow. It’s a start. Whatever it winds up being, I appreciate you taking the time to read.

Please have a great and safe (holiday) weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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