The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2019

Posted in Features on December 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk best of 2019

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Make no mistake, my friends. 2019 was the year it went off the rails.

Every 12-month period brings a lot of records, and they all seem overwhelming, but this was the first year I’ve ever felt quite so helpless when it came time to sit down and actually make my list. Of course, I keep running notes all year long, but even so, ordering everything, bringing it all together? What a mess.

I almost thought of breaking it down into smaller lists in addition to the big one, subgrouped by style. But then, where does doom end and sludge begin? What about psych and heavy rock? Should prog get its own list? And what the hell counts as prog?

In the end, that didn’t seem like it would be doing me any favors, so we’ll stick with the one big list and then others for debut releases and another for EPs, splits, demos and so on. You know, the usual.

Pretty sure I say this every year too, but it bears repeating: if you read any of the below — and thanks if you do — and have a response, be nice. If I’ve forgotten something — and yes, I have; I’m sure of it — that you think needs to be included, and you want to leave a comment that says so, please, by all means. But keep it civil. I know people are passionate about this stuff and so am I, but consider there are probably over 200 offerings covered here by the time you get through all the lists and honorable mentions, and I’m one person. I’m doing my best, and though I try not to, I tend to take being called a dumbass personally. So yeah, chill out and please be constructive in calling me a dumbass. Words matter.

A few hard choices here, most especially for album of the year. I was back and forth with each of the top three in the top spot for a good long while, and it might change again between now and when this post goes up. But it’s been that kind of year. In 2018, there was no question. It was Sleep all the way. The question was what came after that. This year has been different without that kind of duh, punch-in-the-face obvious pick. Relative parity isn’t a bad thing though.

Enough delay. The usual parameters apply. These are a combo of my personal listening habits and what I think are the most important records/achievements of the year, critical importance, etc.

Here we go:

The Top 50 Albums of 2019

#50-31

50. Hazemaze, Hymns of the Damned
49. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
48. Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Grandmother
47. PH, Osiris Hayden
46. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
45. Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light
44. Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport
43. Swallow the Sun, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light
42. Caustic Casanova, God How I Envy the Deaf
41. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Tre
40. SÂVER, They Came With Sunlight
39. Ogre, Thrice as Strong
38. Lamp of the Universe, Align in the Fourth Dimension
37. Vokonis, Grasping Time
36. Sacri Monti, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour
35. Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds
34. Duel, Valley of Shadows
33. Orodruin, Ruins of Eternity
32. Zaum, Divination
31. Inter Arma, Sulphur English

To provide a human powered http://www.opsi.org/?unemployment-research-essay. Buy Rewrite-Related Services Starting at . Hire people to do Rewrite related work for , on. Notes see url. Ranked #1 by 10,000 plus clients; for 25 years our certified resume writers have been developing compelling : Honestly, if this had been the top 20 of the year, I’d still call 2019 a win. Aside from the fact that I somehow thought Caustic Casanova would enjoy coming in a number 42, the sheer quality of this stuff should tell you what kind of year 2019 was. Inter Arma’s Sulphur English was a significant achievement in genre melding, and Orodruin’s return after more than a decade since their last LP was a masterclass in doom worship. Debut albums from SÂVER and Thunderbird Divine and Lightning Born showed marked promise of things to come — and there’s more on them below as well — while Zaum’s, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree’s and Lamp of the Universe’s meditations, Vokonis’ noise, Abrahma’s emotive progressivisim, Swallow the Sun’s melodic melancholy, Sacri Monti’s boogie, and whatever the hell PH were doing on Osiris Hayden remind just how much the word “heavy” can encompass. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Duel and Uffe Lorenzen and Hazemaze were musts here, and Ogre are perennial favorites whose work always brings a doomly grin. Don’t sleep on any of it.

30. Sun Blood Stories, Haunt Yourself

sun blood stories haunt yourself

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 6.

Until they put out a complementary follow-up record of such fare, one might’ve accused Idaho three-piece Sun Blood Stories of becoming less experimentalist/droned-out/noisy on Haunt Yourself, but they seem to have met their quota one way or the other with the Oct. 2019 advent of Static Sessions Vol. 1. Still, it’s melody, heavy post-rock/psychedelic drift and emotive soul that rule the day on the crushing and enriching Haunt Yourself, and no complaints from me on that.

29. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Everybody’s Going to Die

Church of the Cosmic Skull Everybodys Going to Die

Released by Septaphonic Records. Reviewed Dec. 10.

I don’t have to do anything more than read the name of the album to have the chorus of the title-track stuck in my head, and it’s a reminder that although the Nottingham troupe put so much into their progressive style and vocal harmonies and arrangements, and a more conceptual theme in the case of Everybody’s Going to Die — their answer to 2018’s excellent Science Fiction (review here) — their roots are in songcraft, and it’s the foundation of songcraft that lets them soar. Would be higher on the list if it weren’t so new.

28. Devil to Pay, Forever, Never or Whenever

devil to pay forever never or whenever

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 4.

With their sixth album, Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay collect 10 tracks of unpretentious-almost-to-a-fault of straightforward heavy rock songwriting that continues to be woefully underappreciated. They have become utterly reliable in that regard — you know, to a certain extent, what’s coming — but the vocals of guitarist Steve Janiak (also Apostle of Solitude) and some more metallic turns to the riffing give Forever, Never or Whenever a subtlety that holds up all the more on repeat visits. I don’t know if Devil to Pay will ever get their due, but suffice it to say, they’re due.

27. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds

howling giant the space between worlds

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Oct. 11.

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when the first Playstation came out and everyone looked around at their Nintendos and Segas like, “What the hell am I messing around with Mario Golf for? I could be playing Resident Evil!” That’s kind of what Howling Giant are as compared to “regular” rock bands. They’re the Playstation of heavy: that next progressive step forward carrying an inhuman amount of swagger and personality while still delivering a stepped-up product from their would-be peers. The scariest thing about The Space Between Worlds is it’s their first LP. One looks forward to the next generation.

26. Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus

saint vitus saint vitus

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed March 19.

I know for a fact that bassist Pat Bruders and drummer Henry Vasquez had a hand in writing some of the material on Saint Vitus’ second self-titled LP, and yet the album so much bears the indelible mark of guitarist Dave Chandler that it’s hard not to think of it all as his. The album marked their first release with original singer Scott Reagers since 1995’s Die Healing (discussed here) and featured among their trademark low-tuned slog, an actual punk song, which showed the grinning glee that underlies all they do. Four decades on, Saint Vitus sound like they’re having fun. How is that not a win?

25. Ealdor Bealu, Spirit of the Lonely Places

ealdor bealu spirit of the lonely places

Self-released. Reviewed July 10.

Woodsy Rocky Mountain psychedelia abounded on Boise foursome Ealdor Bealu’s second full-length, and their blend of landscape meditations and grounded heavy progressive melodicism made Spirit of the Lonely Places as much about impact as about space, though of course the real joy was the experience of the entirety. Very much a sophomore album, it learned lessons from 2017’s Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain (review here) that one only hopes the band will continue to push forward in scope as they so gracefully did here.

24. Yatra, Death Ritual

yatra death ritual

Released through Grimoire Records. Discussed Nov. 13, 2018..

Though hard- and to-date quick-working Maryland trio Yatra have already moved on and are looking ahead to releasing their second album, Blood of the Night (review here), their Grimoire-delivered debut, Death Ritual, is impossible to ignore for the impact it had on reminding listeners of the impact that primeval extreme sludge can have. Another couple tours and some bigger label — Relapse, Prosthetic, eOne, Season of Mist, whoever — will decide they’re “ready,” whatever that means, and then sign them and I won’t be cool enough to do track premieres for them anymore, but as far as accolades go, Yatra earn whatever they get and Death Ritual stands among 2019’s most landmark debuts. They’ve already outdone it, but it’s a stunner just the same.

23. Ecstatic Vision, For the Masses

ecstatic vision for the masses

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 17.

Ecstatic Vision frontman Doug Sabolik has cast himself in the mold of Arthur Brown or Dave Wyndorf or probably seven or eight dudes who were in Hawkwind at some point as a manic-but-stoned space rock preacher with as he and his band behind him plunge headfirst-or-feetfirst-it-doesn’t-matter-because-your-body-is-an-illusion-man into the molten multicolor void. For the Masses. The ‘masses,’ such as they are, should be so lucky, but the double-meaning is the real tell for where the Philly unit are coming from. Their shows are the masses — gatherings of spirit and song to give praise to the willful expansion of mind. If you can’t get behind that, you might as well go get a job or something. This ain’t no lightweight party for squares and dabblers. This is a high-potency happening for werewolves on motorcycles and freaks of all stripes. Get weird stay weird. Ecstatic Vision are one mostly-mellow 15-minute “Spine of God”-style psych-epic away from perfection.

22. Beastwars, IV

beastwars iv

Released by Destroy Records. Reviewed June 27.

But for the circumstances that brought it about — i.e. Beastwars vocalist Matt Hyde’s cancer — the unexpected fourth installment in the Beastwars trilogy was nothing if not welcome. An grand-feeling sense of largesse was nothing new to the New Zealand four-piece, but after breaking up and getting back together to make the album, the grim sincerity with which they presented this exploration of mortality and betrayal by one’s own body was no less palpable than the undulating riffs that threatened, as ever, to consume all in their path. I don’t know their future plans in terms of continuing to write and/or record, but there are reports of touring beyond Aus/NZ for 2020, so one way or another, stay tuned for more from them. Whether or not they do anything else, IV was a triumph in spirit and execution.

21. Eternal Black, Slow Burn Suicide

eternal black slow burn suicide

Self-released. Reviewed June 7.

With the nine songs of Slow Burn Suicide, Brooklyn’s Eternal Black began to unveil the true depth of their project. Their 2017 debut, Bleed the Days (review here), was well received, and rightly so, but operated more in a straight-ahead doom sphere. The second outing, by contrast, delved into a particular vision of the style informed by the crunch of peak-era New York noise and crossover hardcore, and it succeeded not just because it did this, but because it did so around a conjuration of memorable riffs and tracks building on accomplishments carried over from its predecessor. Is this an awaited arrival of next-generation ‘New York doom’? Will theirs be a blueprint others will follow? It’s impossible to know now, and their next album will be telling either way, but the course they’ve set is significant.

20. Candlemass, The Door to Doom

candlemass the door to doom

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 22.

It may have been the Tony Iommi guest appearance that got Swedish doom legends Candlemass — the world’s earliest and foremost purveyors of doom both classic and epic — their recent Grammy nomination, but it was the long-overdue reunion with original vocalist Johan Längquist that made the album as a whole as powerful as it was. Pairing Längquist’s theatrical and vital approach with founding bassist Leif Edling’s second-to-none doomcraft, The Door to Doom was a catapult not to the bygone days of the band’s landmark debut, 1986’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, but an inspired look at not just what might’ve been had Längquist remained with the band longer, but what might still be if he does this time around. Candlemass have been through their share of singers, but as fresh as The Door to Doom sounded, it’s hard not to hope for something more than a one-off with he who got there first. The songs, the spirit, the sheer heart poured into Candlemass’ doom some 35 years past the band’s start only emphasizes how special they have always been.

19. Nebula, Holy Shit

nebula holy shit

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed June 13.

Anyone who might’ve predicted Nebula getting into the studio and making a new album was either in the room when it happened or talking out their ass. And speaking of, was Nebula’s Holy Shit named for the shock one might’ve felt at its existence, or the surprise at how good it actually sounded when you put it on? I don’t know. I probably won’t ever know. It was the best title I saw all year, but more than that, it was a Nebula record, fueled by the classic riffing and unmitigated desert punk soul of founding/guitarist Eddie Glass, whose absence from the heavy underground for the last decade left a void only too many others whiffed on filling. Holy Shit showed just how singular a player Glass was and is, and how much character there is in his style, particularly in solos, but also in rhythmic changes, and so on. I won’t discount the work of bassist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster in making Nebula what they are in this incarnation — they’re essential, obviously — but there’s simply no denying that presence at the band’s core.

18. Valley of the Sun, Old Gods

valley of the sun old gods

Released by Fuzzorama Records. Reviewed May 21.

This was a heavy rock record that had everything. Everything. It had songs, style, ups, down, purples, greens, ins, outs, all kinds of whathaveyou. Riffs forever. Valley of the Sun should keep their eyes on Sasquatch, because if they want it, that path is theirs. I know the Cincinnati outfit have had trouble keeping lineups together, but if they can hold onto one, and maybe after their next record start touring more, domestically and abroad — not at all a minor ask, I know — then people will catch on. Old Gods is evidence of the fact that they genuinely have something to offer, and frankly, it’s not at all the first such effective case they’ve made in their career. But they’ve never put anything out that wasn’t a step forward, and yet they’ve never lost sight of the roots of their initial inspiration. And they’ve never sacrificed the song for the riff, which so many do. They’ve only ever gotten better. Let Old Gods be a step toward them getting attention they’ve long since deserved.

17. Kadavar, For the Dead Travel Fast

Kadavar For the Dead Travel Fast

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 28.

In style and production, For the Dead Travel Fast is the most vintage-sounding offering Berlin trio Kadavar have made in over a half decade, yet neither is it looking backward wistfully toward 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) or giving up the modern clarity of 2017’s Rough Times (review here) or 2015’s Berlin (review here). Instead, it strikes a balance with a more sinister edge à la Uncle Acid in songs like “Children of the Night” and “Demons in My Mind” — both singles — and makes a home for itself between proto-metal and garage doom. Whatever genre tag you want to give it — and that might vary from track to track, mind you — it’s unmistakably Kadavar, with the signature hooks and memorable craftsmanship that have made them one of the decade’s most pivotal heavy bands. The real challenge at this point in their career is not to take for granted that Kadavar will produce material of such quality, because, frankly, that’s all they’ve ever done.

16. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Yn Ol I Annwn

mammoth weed wizard bastard yn ol i annwn

Released by New Heavy Sounds. Reviewed Feb. 7.

Welsh sci-fi cosmic doomers Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard billed Yn Ol I Annwn as the final installment of a trilogy that includes their two prior LPs, 2015’s Noeth Ac Anoeth (review here) and 2016’s Y Proffwyd Dwyll (review here), and while that may be true thematically, there’s also no question the third is a marked step forward from anything they’ve done before. They’re one foot out of the airlock and into space as their synth-laden longform riffing and melodies take them to places they’ve not yet gone, explorations of sight as much as sound, aural translation of colors humans aren’t gifted to see. Their songs across the 65-minute span unfold with the grace of a gravity spiral, pulling the listener deeper into the proceedings with each new phase that emerges until, what, obliteration? Stellar genesis? I’m not sure. They’ve reportedly got one more record to make and then they’re done. If that’s true, they’ll be missed then they’re gone.

15. Magic Circle, Departed Souls

magic circle departed souls

Released by 20 Buck Spin. Reviewed April 3.

They’ve found their way to die, and it’s upon an altar of classic metal and doom. And honestly, they make a pretty good case for it. Departed Souls is the third full-length from the Boston unit and their most stylistically realized work yet, with vocalist Brendan Radigan giving a standout performance alongside the guitars of Chris Corry and Renato Montenegro, the bass of Justin DeTore and Michael “Q” Quartulli’s drums, as the entire band taps into vibes from mid-’70s Black Sabbath and brings them to bear with an energy that is unlike anything in Magic Circle’s history. 2015’s Journey Blind (review here) brought in NWOBHM flash in the guitar work, sure enough, but Departed Souls doesn’t so much carry the torch of classic metal as it does use it to burn down the whole village and rebuild it in the five-piece’s image. From their doomed beginnings on their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) to now, they’re an act who’ve genuinely earned cult status. If you can find a backpatch, buy it.

14. Spaceslug, Reign of the Orion

Spaceslug Reign of the Orion cover

Released by BSFD Records. Reviewed Nov. 22.

Controversy! Drama! Well, probably not, but at very least some respectful disagreement on my part. You see, Poland’s Spaceslug have stated publicly that their latest release, the late-2019 surprise Reign of the Orion is an EP. Their albums regularly top 50 minutes, and at 36 minutes, I guess relative to that, you can see where they’re coming from. However, with the flow of these five songs and the ease with which they carry the listener from front-to-back through the listening experience, I’m sticking to my guns and calling Reign of the Orion an album. Sorry guys. True, it’s shorter than the other full-lengths, but it’s got everything you could ask an album to have in terms of how tracks like “Spacerunner” and the shouty “Half-Moon Burns” play into each other, and the fluidity of the outing on the whole is inarguable. An LP by any other name? Whatever you or they want to call it, there’s no question in my mind Reign of the Orion is one of 2019’s best records. If they insist on it being an EP, then it’s the best one of the year, but I still say it belongs in another category altogether, so here it is.

13. Green Lung, Woodland Rites

green lung woodland rites

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed Jan. 28.

As hyper-crowded as London is with bands at this moment in history, there continue to be acts who sneak through with an individualized and intriguing perspective on doom and heavy rock, and Green Lung are a perfect example, learning from fellow Brits like Alunah and Elephant Tree and incorporating folk and forest goth vibes to their debut album, Woodland Rites. Laced with organ and stuck-in-the-head choruses like “Let the Devil In” and the creeper “Templar Dawn,” the record also pushed into drifting verses on “Into the Wild,” setting up future experimentation with atmospheric variety and genre manipulation. If part of any first album’s appeal is the potential it represents, Green Lung’s offers plenty, but wherever their subsequent course may or may not take them, their accomplishments here shouldn’t be overlooked. Woodland Rites is nothing less than the heavy rock debut album of the year, and though they emerge from a packed field, the work they do to stand themselves out already carries their mark and an apparent will toward progression. They’re on their way.

12. Lo-Pan, Subtle

lo-pan subtle

Released by Aqualamb Records. Reviewed May 9.

My head immediately goes to the hooks of “Ten Days” and “Ascension Day” and “Savage Heart,” but the up-down surges of guitar in “Old News/New Fire” and the midtempo soulfulness in “A Thousand Miles” are no less resonant when it comes to the actual listening experience of the fifth Lo-Pan LP. Subtle, when it came to living up to its name, as much wasn’t as it was. Flourishes of harmony in the vocals of Jeff Martin, the pops in Jesse Bartz’s snare punctuating and propelling in kind, turns in Scott Thompson’s bass work twisting around the guitar of Chris Thompson, a relative newcomer to the fold making his debut with the band and showing no apparent trouble fitting in. I don’t imagine Lo-Pan is an easy band to join, especially at this point. They thrive on personality clash and, through years of touring, have a chemistry they’ve built between them that comes through even on their recordings. Nonetheless, Subtle is their clearest, sharpest-edged work yet, and as tight as their songwriting has become, they still groove and groove mightily. They are a treasure of American heavy rock and roll. Believe it.

11. Roadsaw, Tinnitus the Night

roadsaw tinnitus the night

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 12.

While members of Roadsaw have spent the intervening years in projects like Kind, White Dynomite, Sasquatch and Murcielago, the Boston heavy rock kingpins have indeed been missed, and Tinnitus the Night works quickly to show why. It’s been well over 20 years since their first LP — hell, it’s been eight since they put out their 2011 self-titled (review here) — but their craft is at its own level, and Tinnitus the Night comes barreling through with “Shake” and “Along for the Ride” and “Final Phase” before opening up to broader fare on side B with “Find What You Need,” “Under the Devil’s Thumb” and “Midazolam” ahead of the subdued finale “Silence,” and the result is nothing less than a classic heavy rock LP structure as befitting what is itself a classic heavy rock LP. What’s Roadsaw’s future? I don’t know. It took them the better part of a decade to make this one happen, so take from that what you will, but to me, all it says is there’s even more reason to be grateful they got it done and out. To say the songs deserve that is putting it mildly.

10. Worshipper, Light in the Wire

worshipper light in the wire

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed April 24.

I’m not doing a ‘song of the year’ post, but if I was, Worshipper’s “Coming Through” might be it. The opening track from the Boston four-piece’s second album, Light in the Wire, marries classic pop drama in its melody with careening progressive riffing, and sets the tone for a record that is of both future and past, twistingly complex and yet immediately accessible, immersive as an entirety and still comprised of standout moments. These aren’t contradictions in Worshipper’s skillful hands, but the stuff of what’s already becoming their own take on rock. Tied together through melody, skillful rhythmic intricacy and solid structural foundations, “Light in the Wires,” “Visions from Beyond,” “Wither on the Vine” and others throughout post their own triumphs en route to enhancing the album as a whole, while “Nobody Else” and closer “Arise” underscore the emotive basis from which the perspective of the whole LP emanates. There are a lot of “next-gen” heavy rock bands out there weaving prog elements and traditional riffing together to some degree or other. Few, if any, can write a song like Worshipper can. I mean it. This band is something special.

9. Solace, The Brink

solace the brink

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Nov. 21.

What is there to say about Solace? A band who, nine years after revealing the expectation-slaughtering masterpiece A.D. (review here), return with three-fifths of a swapped-out lineup and simply do it again? This band is explosive. Really. Like, they might explode at any minute. It’s a miracle The Brink ever happened. I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. But Solace are a force like nothing else I’ve ever encountered in music. They take metallic aggression, hardcore’s sense of self-righteousness and heavy rock’s groove, set it all to a doomly swing and they play it in such a way as to leave you utterly dumbfounded by what you just experienced. Here’s a challenge though, for the band personally. From me to them. Do another one. Go ahead. Put out another album. You don’t even have to do it in 2020. Do it 2021. Write the songs and give me a no-holds-barred 45-minute LP of the tightest, meanest shit you’ve ever written. Because massive as the accomplishments are on The Brink, it’s the potential to build from them that resonates most here. So do it, guys. Step up and take advantage of the moment. Call me greedy if you want, I don’t care. Give me another Solace record. I dare you.

8. Brume, Rabbits

brume rabbits

Released by Doom Stew Records & DHU Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

Simply a case of a band wildly outdoing themselves. Easy story, yeah? In some ways, maybe, but the truth of what Brume achieve on Rabbits. Their second long-player behind 2017’s Rooster (review here), the five-track offering sees the San Francisco three-piece of vocalist/bassist Susie McMullan, guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie and drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis working with producer Billy Anderson to bring theatricality and emotionalism together in a flowing post-heavy context that’s neither derivative nor working at cross purposes. Instead, it is a gorgeous and blooming undertaking across its 43-minute span, working in its own light/dark spectrum and bringing not just the sense of trapped fragility evoked by the cover art, but a corresponding sureness of intent to its ascendant heavy surges. Like Rooster before it, it is loaded with potential, but in “Scurry” and “Lament” and “Despondence” and “Blue Jay and “Autocrat’s Fool,” there’s a patience and command that absolutely does not waver. So yes, a band outdoing themselves. But so much more too.

7. Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal

mars red sky the task eternal

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed Sept. 20.

This may forever be known as the Mars Red Sky album they wrote in a cave, but the Bordeaux three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras and bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau nonetheless plunged forward along the progressive course they charted back on 2014’s sophomore outing, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), and continued to manifest in 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here). Their blend of melody and tonal heft has become a hallmark of their work to this stage in their career, but The Task Eternal continues to add a sense of breadth to the proceedings, giving their sound a full three-dimensional pull that feels tailor-made for headphones and is consuming in its entirety. With experiments in structure like the pairing of “Recast” and “Reacts,” and the rushing sweep of melody in “Hollow King,” Mars Red Sky’s latest is, as ever, their finest. Outdoing themselves would seem to be the task from which the record derives its title. Fine. Just keep going. Please.

6. Kings Destroy, Fantasma Nera

Kings Destroy Fantasma Nera

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 15.

Every time I think I understand where Kings Destroy want to go as a band, they pull the rug out. That’s what Fantasma Nera is. After their 2015 self-titled (review here) third LP seemed to declare them once and for all in a space between doom and noise rooted in their respective hardcore pasts, the Brooklynite five-piece hooked up with producer David Bottrill (Tool, etc.) and composed a rock album. A real live rock album! With progressive undertones in the guitar work and the most accomplished melodicism of their career, Kings Destroy put everything they had into making Fantasma Nera and one need look no further than the title-track to hear the result of that monumental effort. It is the realization of a band challenging themselves to go so far out of their comfort zone as to be only recognizable in the most rudimentary of ways, and to say it as plainly as I can, “Dead Before” on its own is enough of an accomplishment — and enough of a full-length, at all of 4:25 — to make this list on its own, whatever surrounds it. Song of the year. I’ll say every time I’m a Kings Destroy fan, but I’ve never been gladder to say it than I am in talking about Fantasma Nera.

5. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Dec. 3.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Ah come on, Colour Haze are always on the list when they put out records,” I have two answers. One, you’re right, and two, if you have a problem with that, blow it out your ass. The Munich forefathers of the European heavy psychedelic underground — yup — marked their 25th anniversary this year, and did so not just by putting out an album, but by putting out We Are, which introduces a full-fledged fourth member to what’s been a three-piece since 1998. Granted, it’s not the first time guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald have worked with organist/keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender, but never has the presence of keys been so integral to their work, and never has the dynamic between players shifted in the way it does on tracks like “The Real” and “Life” and “I’m With You,” with keys fleshing out melodies and enriching the bass and guitar. Add to that the Spanish-style guitar on centerpiece “Material Drive” or the operatic flash in the penultimate “Be With Me,” and it’s one more example of one of the best bands on earth refusing to rest on their laurels. Which, as it happens, is why they’re one of the best bands on earth. So hell yes, they’re on all my lists. Fact is my lists are lucky to have them.

4. Blackwater Holylight, Veils of Winter

blackwater holylight veils of winter

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Sept. 26.

Like nothing else I heard in 2019, Veils of Winter had repeat listenability. It was the album that, most often, when I was choosing something I actually wanted to hear, I went back to time and again. Its dark, moody psychedelic and heavy vibe stands alone among the year’s releases, and is a stylistic milestone that one only hopes other artists will pick up on. Toying with pop melodies on tracks like “Death Realms” and bringing hypnosis and clarity in kind to the subtly traditionalist winding riff of “Moonlit” — would it have been out of place on the first Witchcraft LP? — the Portland, Oregon, five-piece worked on a speedy turnaround and squashed even the significant expectations I had after their self-titled debut (review here) last year. They’ve begun to tour, so I don’t know if another full-length is in the works for 2020, but their craft is enviable in its flow and their songs are shimmering in tone and cohesion alike. Given how bold a step forward Veils of Winter is, I hear nothing in their material to this point to make me think their momentum won’t continue to carry them forward. But, you know, if not, I’d also take about six or seven records just like this one. That’d be fine too. Whatever they want, really.

3. Slomatics, Canyons

Slomatics Canyons

Released by Black Bow Records. Reviewed May 15.

Belfast, Northern Ireland, three-piece Slomatics — guitarists David Marjury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey — finished a narrative trilogy with 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), and though the storyline was always vague throughout that and the preceding two offerings, the question of how they would proceed nonetheless hung over Canyons prior to its release. The answer is in the songs themselves. From the sci-fi majesty of lumbering, rolling groove in opener and longest track “Gears of Despair” — oh, they grind — through the mega-stomp of “Telemachus, My Son” and the righteously synth-laden wash that consumes “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” Slomatics bring together concept and execution with a readiness that highlights the fact of their 15th anniversary. They are mature in their approach, yes, but the fact is their approach is so much their own and so given to their particular mode of progression that it almost can’t help but feel fresh. How could something so utterly crushing also feel rejuvenating? As they plod through finale “Organic Caverns II” ending with more waves of synth and tectonic guitar — no bass, remember — they are as restorative as they are punishing, and they stand astride that duality with neither mercy nor pretense. Canyons, whether it’s setting up a new story, building from the old, or doing something completely different, stands on its own.

2. Year of the Cobra, Ash and Dust

year of the cobra ash and dust

Released by Prophecy Productions. Reviewed Oct. 24.

My anticipation for and expectations of Year of the Cobra’s second long-player were high most especially after 2017’s Burn Your Dead EP (review here), which along with the dead, set alight the notion that the Seattle duo of bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith were simply a heavy/doom band. With elements of post-punk, psych wash, minimalist stretches and propulsive gallop, Ash and Dust cast itself out over an aesthetic range that set a new standard not just for Year of the Cobra, but for anyone who’d dare match them at their own game — and that list will grow with time, absolutely. As their first outing through Prophecy Productions, Ash and Dust threw itself into the very melting pot of its own ambition and emerged with songs that didn’t just bring together disparate ideas, but made them flourish and engage and challenge the listener while still proving consistent in tone and underlying groove. For a two-person, two-instrument outfit (not counting voice, though I should), they proved more malleable than many with more than twice the number of hands on deck, and pushed the notion of what heavy rock is and does forward without stopping to look back or ask for permission. They just did it, and maybe Ash and Dust is the aftermath of all that burning.

2019 Album of the Year

1. Monolord, No Comfort

monolord no comfort

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Look back over the course of this list, and you will find no shortage of bands and releases that surpassed the group in question’s past work. With Gothenburg, Sweden’s Monolord, it wasn’t just about No Comfort — their debut on Relapse, fourth full-length overall — being better than 2017’s Rust (review here), because that was pretty jolly gosh darn enjoyable, but about the band reaching a moment of transcendence to which Rust and all their prior work across 2015’s Vænir (review here) and 2014’s Empress Rising has been leading. With the six tracks of No Comfort, guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems not only overcome the influences that launched them — taking full ownership of their sound and defending that claim with the sheer quality of their songwriting — and they not only become as identifiable as those influences themselves, but they overcome themselves. No Comfort means no comfort. Monolord take the simplicity that once fueled their riffing, the willful primitivism of their earliest work, and with songs like “Larvae” and “The Bastard Son” and the closing title-track use it as the foundation it was apparently always intended to be. Monolord have toured plenty and certainly their studio output has shown an increasing complexity from one LP to the next, so progression isn’t unexpected, but the manner in which Monolord have executed that progression has been. Even on “The Last Leaf,” which is arguably the most straightforward fare on the album, one hears it as them rather than the manifestation of the acts that inspired them. The same holds for “Skywards” later on, and for the immersion that takes hold as the mournful “Alone Together” plays into “No Comfort” itself. Monolord take their place among the best bands on the planet, and deliver an Album of the Year for 2019 that, like the absolute best, will have an impact lasting much longer than any period of 12 months might convey.

The Top 50 Albums of 2019: Honorable Mention

You didn’t think we’d stop at 50, did you? Come on. You know me better than that. The fact is that the list itself, humongous as it is, is just the start of the tip of an iceberg attached to a glacier that’s somewhere on an entire planet constructed of ice.

Honorable mentions, you say? Yeah, a few. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

Lord Vicar, Goatess, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Zone Six, Lykantropi, Earth, White Manna, Atala, Tia Carrera, Merlin, WEEED, Híbrido, Cities of Mars, Stone Machine Electric, Bretus, Blackwolfgoat, The Black Wizards, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Alunah, V, Pale Grey Lore, Leeds Point, Sons of Alpha Centauri, Spidergawd, Bus, Death Hawks, BBF, Vessel of Light, Crypt Trip, The Pilgrim, Uffe Lorenzen, Brant Bjork, Doomstress, Black Lung, Kandodo3, Monkey3, Bask, Horseburner, Zed, Bright Curse, Spillage, Sigils, Papir, Dune Sea, Destroyer of Light, Mastiff, Warp, Centrum, Varego, Lord Dying, Volcano, Saint Karloff, Firebreather, High Reeper, Bible of the Devil, Obsidian Sea, Torche, Motorpsycho, Sunn O))), Deadbird, Russian Circles, El Supremo, Pyramidal, Holy Serpent, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Demon Head, Red Beard Wall, Onhou, Kamchatka, Iguana, Arrowhead, The Whims of the Great Magnet, Serial Hawk, Scissorfight, Monte Luna, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Ruff Majik, The Giraffes, High Fighter, Comacozer, Burning Gloom, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Cable, AVER, Superlynx, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Old Mexico, Skraeckoedlan, Godsleep, Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle.

Seems cruel to leave it to you to sort through those, but I’m tempted to do just that. You might notice some bigger names there in bands like Earth, Russian Circles, Torche and Sunn O))). Nothing against those bands, but I think we’re seeing a moment where a different group of artists are taking point in terms of innovating heavy styles across an entire swath of microgenres. Either way it’s not a slight that something is here instead of above. And of course, there are plenty of up and coming groups here as well, with Ruff Majik, Elizabeth Colour Wheel — who I’m sure would be a top 30 if I knew the record better than I do — Pale Grey Lore, Monte Luna, Papir, Destroyer of Light, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Skraeckoedlan, and so on, but hell’s bells, there’s already a list of 50 and I’m only one man. How high is the list supposed to go and still be a list?

Bottom line: Music is as endless as space and has as much beauty in it for those willing to hear. Do more digging.

The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2019

green lung woodland rites

1. Green Lung, Woodland Rites
2. Yatra, Death Ritual
3. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds
4. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
5. SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight
6. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
7. Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo
8. The Pilgrim, Walking into the Forest
9. Sigils, You Build the Altar You Lit the Leaves
10. E-L-R, Maenad
11. Hey Zeus, X
12. Bellrope, You Must Relax
13. Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore
14. Thronehammer, Usurper of Oaken Throne
15. Inner Altar, Vol. III
16. Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember
17. Hippie Death Cult, 111
18. Faerie Ring, The Clearing
19. Gone Cosmic, Sideways in Time
20. Haze Mage, Chronicles

Get find more info in UK from Ph.D. Experts. We are the best Dissertation helper in UK rated by students. Our experts offer best dissertation writing Honorable Mention: Warp, Pelegrin, Lucy in Blue, Volcano, The Sabbathian, Red Eye Tales, Dune Sea, Dury Dava, Pharlee, Giant Dwarf, Ghost:Hello, Surya, Workshed, Children of the Sün, Burning Gloom, Temple of the Fuzz Witch.

Buy Essay Review - Let the specialists do your homework for you. Papers and essays at most affordable prices. experienced scholars, top-notch Notes: As ever, I consider a band’s debut album something unique and separate from everything else they’ll ever do, and so worthy of highlighting in its own category. It’s a different standard in my mind, one that takes into account what a group might accomplish going forward as well as what they do on the record itself. Plus, putting out an album is hard. Getting two, three, four, five or more people to agree on anything is an accomplishment. Making a cohesive album? Come on. So yes. We see some crossover from the main list above, but I want to draw attention to Howling Giant, Thunderbird Divine and SÂVER particularly here. There’s a swath of genres represented and I feel like a couple of these releases — Sigils, Bellrope, Thronehammer, Inner Altar, Faerie Ring, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember — didn’t get their due attention. It’s a busy year, I get it. But if you’re skimming through looking for stuff to check out, DON’T IGNORE THIS LIST. Aside from whatever line about the best of tomorrow you want to trot out, there’s important work being done by these acts today. As somebody who’s constantly behind the times, I urge you not to

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2019

geezer spiral fires

1. Geezer, Spiral Fires
2. Ufomammut, XX
3. All Them Witches, 1×1
4. Mount Saturn, Mount Saturn
5. Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split
6. Horehound, Weight
7. Molasses, Mourning Haze
8. Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Split
9. Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon
10. The Golden Grass, 100 Arrows
11. Mount Atlas, Mistress
12. Midas, Solid Gold Heavy Metal
13. Glory in the Shadows, Glory in the Shadows
14. Hot Breath, Hot Breath
15. Crystal Spiders, Demo
16. Red Wizard, Ogami
17. Thermic Boogie, Fracture
18. Pinto Graham, Dos
19. High Priest, Sanctum
20. Set Fire, Traya
21. Seedium, Awake

Research Paper Sites - Helping students with essays for over 10 years. Using only the best British writers, you provide the guidelines, we do the rest. Honorable Mention: Love Gang & Smokey Mirror Split, Forebode, Land Mammal, Very Paranoia, Plague of Carcosa, Daal Dazed, Komodor, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge Split, High on Fire, Mount Soma.

Professional Research Paper On Phishing in UK from PhD level experts. These thesis editing service are affordable in prices and best in aspect of quality. Notes: This is probably the least complete of the lists, because it’s the hardest category for me to keep up with. EPs, singles, demos, splits and basically anything else that isn’t an album, all lumped together. Still, I stand by the picks here, and I don’t think anyone who takes on any of them will regret doing so, whether it’s All Them Witches’ surprisingly weighted first single as a trio, Mount Saturn’s debut release, or Geezer’s cosmic jams. Felt a little like cheating putting Ufomammut on there, since technically XX wasn’t new material so much as reworked stuff captured live, but if you want to call me out on it, my own listening habits also factor in, and I’ve spent plenty of time with those reimagined tracks. But anyway, I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff that hasn’t been included here, so please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll work accordingly.

Postwax

I haven’t felt comfortable with the idea of writing about it editorially, since I’ve been involved in discussions about it since before it came together and since I did the liner notes for each of the six releases (plus one to come), but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work done on the Postwax vinyl subscription series by Blues Funeral Recordings. Label head Jadd Shickler and design specialist Peder Bergstrand (also of Lowrider) put together six offerings that came out in the span of this year and when you hold the LPs in your hand, you can feel the passion that went into making them, from the artists in question to those curating the series in the first place. I hear tell there’s going to be a Postwax Year Two, and I don’t know if I’ll be involved or not, but I’m proud of my miniscule part in the work that went into making these and wanted to bring them to your particular attention. They are something special for those who got to partake:

  • Elder, The Gold and Silver Sessions
  • Daxma, Ruins Upon Ruins
  • Besvärjelsen, Frost
  • Big Scenic Nowhere, Dying on the Mountain
  • Domkraft, Slow Fidelity
  • Lowrider, Refractions

And while we’re talking about projects I was proud to be involved with, I also did liner notes for Acrimony’s The Chronicles of Wode box set from Burning World Records and was honored to do so. Thanks to any and everyone in question for having me involved and dealing with me blowing past deadlines one after the next. It is humbling.

Looking Ahead to 2020

A few names and nothing more about what definitely is and/or might be in the works for next year. Woefully incomplete, so feel free to add to it:

1000mods, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deathwhite, Mondo Drag, Drug Cult, Ocean Chief, Soldati, Sergio Ch., Mitochondrial Sun, Geezer, Mirror Queen, Mondo Generator, The Otolith, Asteroid, Yatra, Vestal Claret, Farer, Ryte, Shadow Witch, Six Organs of Admittance, Naxatras, Wolftooth, Snail, Elder, Pale Divine, Grey Skies Fallen, Ruby the Hatchet, Yuri Gagarin, Sasquatch, Godthrymm, Wo Fat, Red Mesa, CB3, Onsegen Ensemble, Insect Ark, Acid Mammoth, Ritual King, Ulls, Om.

Thank You

Thank you for reading, and please, if you have a thought or something you want to share in the comments, please remember to be kind to each other. We are all human beings behind our phones and keyboards, and while we’ll disagree, often in some ways and some cases, a basic level of respect is always appreciated. At least by me.

I am not so deluded as to think anyone might still be reading, but I want it on record how much I appreciate you being a part of this site and a part of my experience in making it. I’ve been ruminating all year since marking the 10th anniversary back in January about how much The Obelisk has become a part of who I am, and it’s utterly essential to my every day. The way I continue to think about it — and myself, as it happens — is a work in progress, and that would not be possible without you. One more time. Thank you. Always. Always thank you. Thank you.

More to come.

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Robustfellow Productions Issues 2019 Label Sampler

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I like to think that usually when I put something up like this, it might catch eyes from a range of people, or if not, at least I don’t have a specific person in mind. This is not one of those posts. This post is made for one person in particular, and whoever you are, you all know that person. They’re the ones who piss and moan about how everything new sucks and there’s nothing good coming out like when they were 12 or whatever and nothing is cool and blah blah blah. Everyone knows that person. Sometimes I think we’ve all been that person, but there’s never been less of an excuse for being that person than there is now. New music is everywhere. Everywhere. Not only is it waiting to be discovered, it’s pretty much throwing itself in your face and screaming “HERE I AM AND ALSO I’M PROBABLY FREE AT LEAST TO STREAM!”

Short of new music showing up at your doorstep carrying a tray of warm blueberry muffins, I find it hard to think of ways in which it could be made easier than it is in this day and age. It’s one of the fringe benefits of the apocalypse in which we reside.

Case in point, here comes Ukrainian imprint  Before deciding whether to make use of an academic writing service, you must wonder what exactly Help Writing Analytical Essayss do. When do they work? Robustfellow Productions with a 42-track/three-plus-hour label sampler bringing together past releases with exclusive songs, upcoming stuff and a whole mess of styles rammed together for your, well, sampling convenience. Frankly, if you — yes, you — make it past dissolution of yugoslavia essay sam long university oslo edu 1453 u3 filmbay 2ed edu074 ht mass media persuasive speech high school essay helper female nobel laureates Eternal Elysium and  Sales Phd Scholarship Application Cover Letter to WBS element. This question is Assumed Answered. AK K 23-May-2007 18:59 Can somebody tell me Where a Sales order is assigned to a Thunderchief and are still complaining there’s nothing good out there, the problem isn’t the rest of the world, but even if they’re not your thing, there’s a ton of stuff here and I won’t even pretend to know it all. It just takes the smallest amount of digging through, that’s all.

So go on. It’s waiting for you:

robustfellow sampler 2019

Robustfellow Prods. is happy to present FREE music sampler featuring finest representatives of the robust scene for the recent times. Listen to the highlights form Robustfellow’s roster., Robust Digital releases that being streaming during this year plus a preview of what’s to grab in Robust Shop for next year.

Cup of robust tea full of psychedelic, sludge, prog, stoned, grunge, death, metalcore, black metal and all the celebrated genres.

https://robustfellow.bandcamp.com/album/robustfellow-sampler-2019

Cover artwork by ????????? ?????
Design by Konstantin Bikmulin
Sounds “AS IT IS”

Robustfellow Prods., 2019

Robustfellow Samper 2019
from A to Z:

Backchat [Kyiv, UA] War and Plague
Cold Shell [Kyiv, UA] You Think Too Much About Death*
Death Pill [Kyiv, UA] Go Your Way*
Dépaysement [Kyiv, UA] Ground Arms*
Doomed City (previously 5R6) [Kharkiv, UA] No Heroes
Eternal Elysium-official [Nagoya, JP] Burning A Sinner*
Ethereal Riffian [Kyiv, UA] Unconquerable
Freeky Cleen [Kyiv, UA] Done Time*
Gamardah Fungus [Dnipro, UA] Fetus Crying*
House Of Flowers [Dnipro, UA] Dawn
??? [Kharkiv, UA] ???
Knifeman [Kharkiv, UA] ?????
??ntur [Kyiv, UA] ??, ???? ??????? ???????
La Horsa Bianca [Kharkiv, UA] Da cao
Love’n’Joy [Kyiv, UA] Come about
Merzotna Potvora [Kyiv, UA] ?erne?*
???? [Kyiv, UA] ?.?.?.?.
NoT [Kharkiv, UA] A Penny (????????)
????? [Uzhgorod, UA] Ad Civitas Solis
One Magic Megawatt [Kyiv, UA] Die Every Night*
OOZE [Vasylkiv, UA] Backend
Pustosh [Vasylkiv, UA] Nespravzhni
Pyraweed [Baku, AZ] Man of the mountain
Red Eyed Hyena [Ivano-Frankivsk, UA] Tale of Marvin Heemeyer
Septa [Odessa, UA] The Tin Man
Shiva the Destructor [Kyiv, UA] Nirvana Beach*
Slice & Dice [Mykolaiv, UA] Filthy Basement
Sons of Alpha Centauri [London, UK] SS Montgomery (James Plotkin Remix)
stonefromthesky [Kyiv, UA] Confined
Straytones [Kyiv, UA] Dark Lord
Swörn [Turin, IT] Electric Saint
The Anchor Stones [Kyiv, UA] Love It
The COW [Kyiv, UA] PLATO
The Glober [Kharkiv, UA] Space Harmony
THUNDERCHIEF [Richmond, Virginia, US] Stone House
Tungu [Chernihiv, UA] ???????? ?????????*
Urgalia [Cherkassy, UA] GhostFloor*
Volver Stone [Zhytomyr, UA] Wasteland
VOVK [Kyiv, UA] The Last Ship Above the Sky
Vykroutas [Kyiv, UA] ??????? ???i? – ????? ?? ?i?*
Warningfog [Kyiv, UA] II. The Cow
We The Censors [Kyiv, UA] Keep It Up

* – ex?lusive tune

Enjoy the Eclectic Flight !

https://www.facebook.com/RobustfellowProds
https://robustfellow.bandcamp.com/

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Review & Full LP Premiere: Sons of Alpha Centauri, Buried Memories

Posted in audiObelisk on October 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Buried Memories Cover

[Click play above to stream Sons of Alpha Centauri’s Buried Memories in full. It’s out Friday and available to order here.]

UK progressive instrumentalists Professional Article Writing Services That Beat Read on to see why our customers may think of us as the Phd Thesis In English theyve come Sons of Alpha Centauri will release the new LP Do you need to hire master thesis on international trade? Get doctoral best dissertation from the experts when you click here. Buried Memories on Oct. 13 through Michael Jordan Research from verified and certified professional writers. Get original academic papers with ease. It's fast, safe and affordable. H42 Records, and it’s an offering that immediately begs inspection. Is it an album or a collaboration? An EP, since the first side is three different versions of the same track? As the follow-up to the band’s 2018 outing, thesis writing experts http://www.hrkavarna.cz/?buying-a-dissertation-help Persuasive essay on population control cu admission essay Continuum (review here) — which was essentially the band on their own, even if they did work with We take the time to listen to their needs in order to provide them with Professional Genetic Modified Food Research Essay. Click here to see more Aaron Turner ( research paper on human biology Doctoral Dissertation Linguistics the research paper andra ghent dissertation Sumac, ex- Isis) as producer/mixer and John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet) for mastering — it continues a string of joined-f0rces efforts that goes back to their 2009 outing with Karma to Burn side-project Treasure Cat, which included tracks by Alpha Cat with both bands working together. Along the way, in addition to their 2007 self-titled debut (discussed here) and Continuum some 11 years later, they’ve also worked with Gary Arce of Yawning Man as Yawning Sons for the 2009 album, Ceremony to the Sunset (review here), and had a trilogy of splits with Karma to Burn (2010, 2014, 2015) as well as splits with A Death Cinematic and Hotel Wrecking City Traders/WaterWays (review here) in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

All of this, as one might expect, has made them somewhat hard to track, as they’re in and out of different incarnations and collaborations, but I think the band probably wouldn’t have it another way, and Buried Memories shows some of where that impulse comes from. The six-track/47-minute 12″ dwells in its complication no less than it dwells in instrumentalists depth and purpose, and I should point out right away that while “Hitmen” is the first three songs, not one version is immediately recognizable from the others. And that’s doubly to Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s credit, because it shows how much they’re willing to let their material be malleable. You see, each half of Buried Memories is dedicated to an outside mix collaboration. For “Hitmen,” they bring in three different incarnations of Godflesh‘s Justin K. Broadrick, who takes the song on first under the guise of himself, then as Jesu and finally as JK Flesh, bringing a distinctly different feel to each edition of the same root work. It’s perhaps easier to do since the songs don’t have verses or choruses weighing them down to a strict structure, but it’s true that each one carves its own impression, and as they move from eight-and-a-half, nine- and nine-and-a-half-minute versions, Broadrick seems to pull the track further from its foundation and bring something of his own to it. It’s not just a simple process of mixing in the sense of finding the right volume for Marlon King‘s guitar or Blake‘s synth, Nick Hannon‘s bass and Stevie B.‘s drums, but of exploring what distance “Hitmen” can cover from its origin. As the Broadrick mix turns to the more melodic Jesu mix to the avant-electro JK Flesh mix, that distance turns out to be pretty vast.

The second-side collaborator is no less than James Plotkin, whose mastering and production work covers myriad outfits and whose work in Khanate alone — never mind his copious other projects — deserves an eternity of thank-you cards, who takes on three different songs, all under the guise of himself. So side A, one song mixed by three versions of the same person. Side AA, three songs mixed by one version of the same person.

Everyone got it?

Okay.

Sons of Alpha Centauri 2019

And much to Plotkin‘s credit, the three inclusions he takes on also push further and further out as they go. “Warhero” (9:33) is relatively straight ahead, but in comparison to Broadrick‘s “Hitmen” shows a focus on bringing out a sense of space in the work, while the shorter “Remembrance” (2:42) dips into minimalist drone guitar almost as a transition into closer “SS Montgomery,” which also takes on a more electronic vibe, in a kind of dark-industrial vein that still holds a heavy presence thanks to the prominence of the live drums, but nonetheless surrounds those with a chaos-swirl of synth and the guitar. “SS Montgomery” is the payoff for the whole release, pushing through clarity toward destructive noise wash in its quick apex and leaving behind residual noise on a long outward fade, and the fact that even given all the shifts of style and intent that Buried Memories holds, Sons of Alpha Centauri would be able to pull everything together at the end speaks to what makes them so underrated in the first place. They are very much a conceptual outfit but still not blind to the basic purpose of making an album, of making songs.

That underlying message comes through clearly across Buried Memories, and whether you consider it an album, an EP, a one-off, or something else, there’s never any doubt Sons of Alpha Centauri are ready and willing to push themselves to take their music to new places and to try and encompass different ideas and evoke various mindsets as they go. It’s not every band who would be willing to hand off their material like this, even to the likes of Plotkin and Broadrick, let alone put it out in such a way that allows the tracks to take on a life of their own within their overarching catalog. I won’t pretend to know what Sons of Alpha Centauri might do next or where they’ll go from here — though they were certainly busy enough in between, it’s notable that it was 11 years from their self-titled to Continuum — but the way their progressiveness extends not only to the sound of the band but to the very makeup and intent thereof continues to make them individually flexible in a universe that seems rigid by comparison. Whatever they might do, this openness and dexterity can only continue to bolster their work. Imagine asking Justin Broadrick for three mixes by different personae. Imagine telling James Plotkin, “Just go with it.” The beauty of Buried Memories is in its outward movement and the sense of freedom it portrays: art as a living thing, music as sculpting clay to be shaped and re-shaped. As regards the creative, there are few ideas more noble.

Sons of Alpha Centauri on Thee Facebooks

Sons of Alpha Centauri on Bandcamp

Sons of Alpha Centauri website

H42 Records website

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H42 Records on Bandcamp

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Sons of Alpha Centauri Announce Buried Memories Collaborative LP with JK Broadrick & James Plotkin

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Alpha Centauri 2019

You have to give it to Sons of Alpha Centauri: they keep good company. These are gentlemen of refined taste. Their last album? Produced by Aaron Harris of Isis and mastered by John McBain, formerly of Monster Magnet. Before that, oh, they’d worked with the likes of Gary Arce and Karma to Burn, and so on, producing killer splits and collaborative offerings in the process. Now? They’ve got a kinda-EP/kinda-LP called Buried Memories coming that has four songs total — one is a revisit of a song from their first record — with mixes by Justin Broadrick, who does three different versions of “Hitmen” in various guises as Justin K. Broadrick, JK Flesh and Jesu, and James Plotkin, who’s only James Plotkin throughout but when you played in Khanate that’s enough as far as I’m concerned. Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s sense of sonic adventurousness continues to extend to a meta level, and if you’re not intrigued to hear this, you probably just haven’t paid enough attention. Snap to it.

It doesn’t actually say so below, but the press kit lists Oct. 13 as the release date through H42 Records, so let’s go with that. They’ve got a quick teaser posted as well, and you’ll find that at the bottom of the post, along with the stream of 2018’s Continuum (review here). Enjoy:

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Buried Memories Cover

H42 Records: SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Announce New Album with JK BROADRICK and JAMES PLOTKIN!

Sons of Alpha Centauri are back to release Buried Memories, a collaborative post metal colossus and the second part of the journey that started with last album Continuum!

The new album Buried Memories has been mixed by industrial metal icon Justin K. Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu…) and ambient gloom metal maestro James Plotkin (Khanate, Jodis etc.). Buried Memories contains two 10 minute slabs of eclectic ambient progressive rock and a series of interpretative remixes of the theme tracks by both Broadrick and Plotkin.

Justin Broadrick collaborates with the band on side A through the progressive riff saga of Hitmen which he has mixed and also provided two remixes in his guise as Jesu and another as the eponymous JK Flesh. These three staggering pieces of music elapse over 27 minutes of pure instrumental voyage in a way only Sons of Alpha Centauri and Justin Broadrick could deliver!

James Plotkin and SOAC collaborate through several tracks including Warhero a sprawling 10 minute odyssey and a masterful remix of SS Montgomery – the single from the bands classic instrumental landmark debut album.

After entering the Continuum (2018) the listener must now bury their memories. The darkness will envelope the listeners in this second part of their epic sprawling progressive dark rock saga.

The LP version of Buried Memories comes on a selection of 180 gram heavyweight colored vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with photo inlay and download code.

Tracklist
1. Hitmen [Justin K. Broadrick Mix]
2. Hitmen [Jesu Remix]
3. Hitmen [JK Flesh Remix]
4. Warhero [James Plotkin Mix]
5. Remembrance [James Plotkin Mix]
6. SS Montgomery [James Plotkin Remix]

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Sons of Alpha Centauri, Buried Memories teaser

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum (2018)

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Sons of Alpha Centauri Post “Solar Storm” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Alpha Centauri

So there’s this submarine. And it’s in a lake. And it’s huge. And the video starts out and there’s all this movement and driving and going through different scenes and where are we going I don’t know but it works really well with the riff so just roll with it and so on. Eventually, we get up to the lake. Maybe a pond? A relatively small-ish body of water. We get there and Sons of Alpha Centauri arrive and there’s no way they all came in the same car because there isn’t enough room for all their gear but whatever that’s not the point. All the while “Solar Storm” is playing and it’s got this crazy kind of tension to it and the band walk out to a spot by the water on what seems to be some pretty nice farmland.

It’s all in black and white until they start playing. And then like purple and orange lasers come out of their guitars and whatnot and start to hit the submarine like they’re rerouting power from the auxiliary systems to feed through the dilithium core — am I right? — and then the submarine shoots into space at what looks an awful lot like warp six. If I had to guess. And then the submarine careens through outer space like it’s the dude in 2001: A Space Odyssey for a while, it breaks through water and then the clip cuts back to the band, who pack up their gear — I still think it’s studio magic to think they fit two guitars, a bass, a full drum kit and themselves in that car, but maybe they’re Tetris pros — and split. The end.

Video of the year? Maybe.

“Solar Storm” comes from Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s new album, Continuum (review here), on H42 Records and Cobraside Distribution and it’s produced by Aaron Harris, who was in Isis when they were a band. Sons of Alpha Centauri recently shared stages with Yawning Man in the UK and have other stuff going on, but quite frankly I’ve delayed enough. You should just dig in here and enjoy:

Sons of Alpha Centauri, “Solar Storm” official video

The journey into instrumental progressive rockers SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI’s new album “Continuum” progresses, as the video for “Solar Storm” lands today on all channels.
“Solar Storm is the cumulative blend of fast, slow, heavy, progressive styles of SOAC all encapsulated within a five minute adrenaline shot. Working with Simon Risbridger on this video was awesome as he completely understands our visual aesthetic and secluded introspective approach. We wanted the video to represent the different segments and styles within the track as part of the journey – it has been highly stylised with multiple references and subliminal messages. Embark the journey and embrace the storm!’ states SOAC bassist Nick Hannon.

The video starts a black and white fine art epic shot in and around the spiritual home of SOAC, Swale and the Isle of Sheppey and the story progresses into a cinematic visual feast of intergalactic travel through space and time. The introspective journey of ‘Solar Storm’ has been directed by long term collaborator Simon Risbridger who worked with Sons of Alpha Centauri on visuals including live performances with A Storm of Light.

SOAC IS
Marlon King – Guitars
Nick Hannon – Bass
Stevie B. – Drums
Blake – Textures

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Alpha Centauri Continuum

[Click play above to stream Continuum by Sons of Alpha Centauri in full. Album is out June 1 via H42 Records and Cobraside Distribution.]

Much as one hesitates to use the word ‘unique’ generally, I can’t think of anything quite so fitting to describe the path that’s led UK instrumental four-piece Sons of Alpha Centauri to Continuum, their second album. Released through Cobraside Distribution in the US and Canada and H42 Records in the rest of the world, the eight-track/39-minute sophomore offering — the sophmoffering? — arrives some 11 years after Sons of Alpha Centauri made their self-titled debut (discussed here) and follows a period of multiple collaborations with US-based acts Karma to Burn and Yawning Man — I still regard Yawning Sons‘ 2009 album, Ceremony to the Sunset (review here), as one of the finest atmospheric desert rock albums ever made — as well as splits with A Death Cinematic and Hotel Wrecking City Traders/WaterWays (review here). They also played Desertfest London in 2013 (review here) and have regularly played out, so as I’ve said before, it’s not like the four-piece have been sitting on their ass for the last decade plus.

They just haven’t been putting out Continuum, which is something that guitarist Marlon King, bassist Nick Hannon, drummer Stevie B. and keyboardist/synthesist Blake — actually credited with “textures” — at last correct, bringing together a slow motion whirlwind of patient and progressive instrumentalist execution under the direction of producer/mixer Aaron Harris, formerly of Isis. In returning to work in the context of a full-length, Sons of Alpha Centauri don’t see unaffected by how they spent their intervening years, and one can hear the reach of Gary Arce‘s desert-setting guitar tone from King on “Interstellar” and the A-to-B straightforward heavy rock of Karma to Burn on “Solar Storm” and intermittently early on in 11-minute closer “Return Voyage.” The missing link, then, would seem to be Isis, but with Blake‘s textures on keys, synth, loops and presumably somewhere in there a laptop permeating so much of the record and giving King time to breathe on guitar, there’s plenty of post-metal vibe as well.

Sons of Alpha Centauri, then, would seem to draw from the environments in which they place themselves, and that’s kind of the ideal purpose of collaboration in the first place. More importantly, they sound comfortable shifting the balance from one side to the other and the other, which gives Continuum an all the more multifaceted style. At the same time, there’s a marked sense of momentum that takes hold as intro/opener “Into the Abyss” patiently takes hold, part Vangelis, part Isis, leading directly into the starting drum roll of the subsequent “Jupiter,” which in turn will give over to the more straightforward “Solar Storm.” Even here, the fuzzy, careening central “verse” riff is backed by a consistent layer of synth — not quite a drone, but an ever-present ambient melody — that fills out the sound and adds to the proceedings what the band are ultimately right to call texture.

Sons of Alpha Centauri

There are many ways an instrumental band compensates for a lack of vocals. Lead guitar is one. Not compensating at all has arguably worked for Karma to Burn since, well, since they nixed the idea of a vocalist after their first record. Some others fill out arrangements with varying instrumentation. Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s approach, I suppose, is most like the latter, but the four-piece are more subtle about it than many. Blake‘s work on Continuum might be the factor that ties the tracks’ varying moods together, from the side A intro “Into the Abyss” to the side B intro “Surfacing for Air” and all along as each half of the record that unfurls from there, he enhances the ambience of “Interstellar” and brings progressive flair to “Jupiter” and “Solar Storm” at the record’s heavier post-intro outset. Though even this portion of the record is fairy dynamic, as King leads the way through loud/quiet tradeoffs in “Jupiter” that seem to mirror what will unfold on a grander scale with “Return Voyage” at the end of the record. They’re not quite going back the way they came, but one can read some symmetry there anyhow.

And it’s worth noting that the balance of Continuum, which takes its audience on this journey to Jupiter that the band seems to be making, is on the outward. “Return Voyage,” as the final statement they offer, certainly has its impact and fittingly provides a musical summary to coincide with being the final chapter of the narrative, but with one song about getting back to earth and seven about leaving or having left — the penultimate 2:47 piano piece “Orbiting Jupiter” is about having arrived — there’s little question as to which direction is the band’s priority when it comes to evoking a sense of story. Sons of Alpha Centauri are about the going and having gone. And the results of that, while grounded in their structure and presentation thanks to the foundation of Hannon‘s bass and Stevie‘s drumming, are more directed than your standard everything-hang-loose psychedelia, space is obviously still a factor sonically as well as thematically. The final build in “Return Voyage” as it crosses its midpoint might be the most Isis-reminiscent moment on Continuum, but like the rest of their discernible influences, this too is recontextualized in a sound that is the band’s own.

As, frankly, one would hope for a record having been a decade-plus in the making. I won’t say Sons of Alpha Centauri wasted their years, because they’ve clearly been able to enrich their own style by collaborating with those outside the confines of their own lineup. Rather, the fact that Continuum is their second full-length is somewhat deceptive given all the experience and sense of purpose they’ve been able to garner since their debut, which even then had a fervent progressive streak at its foundation. What Continuum represents, though, is significant growth on multiple fronts for the band, and an awaited moment of declaration of who they are and who they can be in aesthetic and performance terms. Will it be another decade before album number three? I don’t know, but if it is, it will still be worth keeping track of how and with whom Sons of Alpha Centauri choose to spend that time, since invariably they’ll continue to learn lessons that will feed into their own work later. That process has unquestionably worked to their advantage here.

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum teaser

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Sons of Alpha Centauri to Release Continuum June 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Alpha Centauri

Space is the apparent theme of Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s sophomore long-player. Continuum is set to release on June 1 through H42 Records and Cobraside, and it follows 11 years after the band made their self-titled debut (discussed here). What have they been doing in all that time? Mostly releasing splits and collaborations. They took part in Yawning Sons with Yawning Man and Alpha Cat with Karma to Burn offshoot Treasure Cat, put out no fewer than three splits with Karma to Burn proper, as well as a split with WaterWays and Hotel Wrecking City Traders and a split with A Death Cinematic.

So they’ve been keeping plenty busy, in other words, just not putting out an album. Well, the eight-track/39 minute Continuum changes that with graceful progressive flourish and more weighted stretches to match its breadth of atmosphere in cuts like “Solar Storm” and “Interstellar.” A science-driven post-rock pulses through “Io” while the penultimate “Orbiting Jupiter” offers reflective piano ahead of the 11-minute closer “Return Voyage.”

Not saying I’ve heard it yet or anything, but it’s an album that covers a lot of ground and well earns its voyaging aspects. Here’s info from the PR wire:

Sons of Alpha Centauri Continuum

Sons of Alpha Centauri announce details from upcoming album “Continuum”

Over a decade since the release of their debut album, UK’s stoner/progressive metallers Sons of Alpha Centauri return for their sophomore album – an epic introspective journey of abrasive and ambient progressive electronic alt rock entitled Continuum.

Over a decade in development, Continuum is driven with a raw infusion of power that only Aaron Harris from ISIS and Palms (which features members from Deftones) could deliver from the producing and mixing helm. Harris has driven his unique and deep understanding of the genre to channel the album to compare against contemporaries such as the debut Palms album and the ISIS masterpiece Panopticon.

This raw and cathartic performance further reinforces that this is Sons of Alpha Centauri at their heaviest with Continuum wrought with dark anthems, intense textures, introspective interludes and tidal waves of immersive distortion.

Having just recently released a boxset of their collaborations with Karma to Burn and their partnership with Yawning Man known as Yawning Sons being widely regarded as a cult act the return of Sons of Alpha Centauri is something to really watch in 2018.

Continuum sees a development of the heavier blended concepts expressed on the debut album and Sons of Alpha Centauri re-emerge with Aaron Harris as the instrumental electronic alt rock titans!

New Sons of Alpha Centauri album Continuum will be released on 1 June 2018. H42 Records – Worldwide and on Cobraside Records – United States & Canada

Aaron Harris from post metal band ISIS and Palms (featuring members of Deftones) has engineered and produced the Continuum.

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Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum teaser

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Various Artists, Electric Funeral Cafe Vol. 3: Journeys End and Begin

Posted in Reviews on January 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

electric funeral cafe vol 3

Look. The thing is immense. One can barely hope to give a decent accounting of a compilation in a review in the easiest of scenarios, but to attempt to sum up the scope of Robustfellow ProductionsElectric Funeral Cafe Vol. 3, which spans three CDs in its physical incarnation and tops out at an astonishing 48 tracks and four-plus hours of listening material when the digital bonus tracks are included from the Bandcamp version, the idea itself becomes silly. All one can really do is the same thing the listener likely does: make your way through it at your own pace, try to absorb as much as you can, and step back to admire the incredible amount of coordinating effort that must have gone into its making.

The latter is particularly impressive as what’s been touted as the final installment of the Kiev-based Robustfellow‘s Electric Funeral Cafe trilogy — nothing like going out with a bang — is bigger even than its predecessors, which came out in 2016 and 2015 and were “only” two discs apiece. The first two were broken down into component Electric and Funeral halves, arranged along this theme by discs. This edition works much the same way, with the Electric discs more focused on heavy rock and the Funeral disc dug into dirge-style doom and sludge, but adds the Cafe disc, on which one might be hear the Beatles-gone-electro-pop psych of Black Maloka, the Creedence Clearwater Revival-style boogie of Freeky Clean or the pure Doorsian meandering of The Jossers, along with more familiar names like Krobak (a Stoned Jesus side-project) or The Legendary Flower Punk (a The Grand Astoria side-project).

As with the earlier volumes, the bulk of the inclusions here highlight the underground boom in the Ukraine itself. 38 of the total 48 groups involved hail from the Ukraine. Two more are from Russia (The Legendary Flower Punk and A Foggy Realm, also on the Cafe disc), and one each from Japan (Eternal Elysium, on the Electric disc), Finland (Loinen, Funeral disc), the US (Contra, Electric), Sweden (Suffer Yourself, Funeral), Belarus (Nebulae Come Sweet, Funeral), the UK (Sons of Alpha Centauri, Cafe), and Italy (Le Scimmie, Funeral). It’s easy to get lost in the sprawl of a release like this, certainly, but worth noting all the same that this is the first of the Electric Funeral Cafe offerings to branch outside the Ukraine itself, so even as Robustfellow ends the series, it does so by reaching into new territories, making the project all the more impressive. One imagines that if the label kept it going, it would only continue to grow.

ELECTRIC FUNERAL CAFE POSTER

Not that it’s lacking in its current form, of course. Pick your poison and it’s likely here somewhere, from the progressive heavy vibes of Stonefromthesky and Ethereal Riffian on the Electric disc to the deathly chug of Chainsaw Jack‘s “Crashing Waves” and post-hardcore-sludge of Nebulae Come Sweet on the Funeral disc to the ’90s-style psych of Vermilion Nocturne and beat-backed drone of Submatukana‘s “Genesis” — which boasts a sampled Bible reading amid creepy whispered vocals — on the Cafe disc. There are, of course, a host of bands here who aren’t so easily fit into one category or another, as Dreadnought foreshadow on the Electric disc some of the screaming that will be a running theme throughout most of the Funeral disc, and the huge Ufomammut-style roll, push and echoes of Soom on Funeral do likewise for Cafe, but each piece of Electric Funeral Cafe Vol. 3 offers something distinct from the others, and so the themes are not only ably established, but solidified while jumping from band to band, city to city, country to county, atmosphere to atmosphere.

And as ever for a worthy various-artists release, Electric Funeral Cafe Vol. 3 presents a number of curios warranting further investigation. In particular, Lviv’s 1914, who lead off the Funeral disc with “8×50 mm Repetiergewehr M95” would seem to have a fixation with WWI — remind me to tell you sometime about how it was the fall of Western Civilization; unless you’re European, in which case you already know — and Lucifer Rising on the Electric disc blend modern buzz tone with classic blues rock thrust, but there are a swath of such interest-piquers as the comp plays out, and the real challenge lies in not being overwhelmed by all of it.

Much to the credit of Robustfellow and to the benefit of the acts contributing, everyone is given a genuine chance to ply their sonic wares, whether that’s a sub-three-minute death-doom rumbler like Monmuth‘s “Vail Seven” or the nine-minute heavy post-rock rollout of Stonefromthesky‘s “67,” which makes sense in a if-you’re-going-to-do-it-and-it’s-already-huge-then-don’t-skimp kind of way, and if the tradeoff for that is there’s a lot of music to dig into, it’s the kind of issue a listener should probably be thankful to take on, even if it requires multiple rounds to get through the front-to-back experience — a four-hour listening session is a rare gift in these busy times. Bottom line is Electric Funeral Cafe Vol. 3 will be there, whether one wants to take it as a whole or in pieces — as a document of Ukrainian heavy, yes, but also the scene’s will to reach outside itself and include others in a creative conversation — and as that movement continues to flourish and progress, such an impulse can only help broaden a scope already shown here to be considerable. And by considerable, I mean staggering.

Various Artists, Electric Funeral Cafe Vol. 3 (2017)

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