The Obelisk Presents: Sourvein 25th Anniversary European Tour

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on March 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sourvein tour poster

You can put them up against anyone you want, past or present, but there’s just about nobody who does it nastier than Sourvein. The Cape Fear, North Carolina-based sludgers are hitting the quarter-century mark in 2018, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have The Obelisk present their special 25th anniversary tour in collaboration with Wombat Booking and Highway Holidays.

Founded by inimitable frontman T-Roy Medlin in 1993, Sourvein‘s roots were dirty right from the start. Medlin had spent years operating tape samples for Buzzov*en, and his own outfit would prove even grittier, his own vicious screams cutting through dirt-caked Southern riffs in a style that would become widely influential as the years went on. Early splits with fellow pioneers like Grief, Negative Reaction, Bongzilla and indeed Buzzov*en would lead to later collaborations with the likes of Church of Misery and Rabies Caste, and their self-titled debut, Sourvein‘s Sourvein, arrived at the turn of the century via Game Two Records, tracks like “Dirty South” a clarion statement of intent that continue to resonate these many years later.

Will to Mangle followed a couple years later via Southern Lord, and then Sourvein really got down to business. Constant touring and constant shifts in the lineup have been the chaotic modus operandi for the band ever since. Those Church of Misery splits and other EPs would be landmarks, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Medlin and company put out another full-length, Black Fangs (review here), through Candlelight. Brutal as it was, it was also a clear signal that they wanted to do more stylistically than they ever had before.

At last, enter Aquatic Occult (review here). The fourth Sourvein full-length, produced by Mike Dean of C.O..C. and released in 2016, would be a pointed revamp of the band’s approach to their sound. Clean vocals, numerous guest spots, brooding atmospheres — all of these things let Sourvein show there was more to Southern sludge than the defiled grooves they’d always so gleefully proffered. But of course, there was plenty of that as well.

Once again, Sourvein hit the road. They’ve been back and forth in US and beyond since Aquatic Occult came out, and once again, as they embark on the “25 Years of Distortion” 2018 European tour, it’s an honor to have this site’s name attached to the proceedings.

My understanding is more dates are forthcoming, but here’s an initial batch to get us started:

Sourvein – Aquatic Occult European Tour 2018 – 25 Years of Distortion
21.04 Brussels
27.04 SWR Barroselas Metal Fest
03.05 Geneva
05.05 Desertfest London
11.05 Gothenburg
24.05 Tilburg
25.05 Liege

Sourvein on Thee Facebooks

Sourvein on Bandcamp

Sourvein at Metal Blade Records website

Wombat Booking website

Tags: , , , , ,

Desertfest London 2018 Lineup Complete: Hawkwind, Radio Moscow, Wino, Sourvein, Monolord, Kind & Many More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

A well-earned slow clap for Desertfest London 2018 on the occasion of completing what is unquestionably its broadest, biggest and most staggering lineup to-date. The festival has been outdoing itself every year since it got going, but this is a different league entirely. Kudos all around to the Desertfest London team. I really feel like there’s nothing else to say about it. It’s just amazing what these people have put together and I hope that those who are fortunate enough to be there realize the special event to which they’re bearing witness, because that’s what this is. Truly something special.

Here’s the final lineup update:

desertfest london 2018 square

Psych legends Hawkwind + complete lineup announced for DESERTFEST LONDON 2018!

DESERTFEST LONDON announce the final acts for its 2018 edition on May 4-6th in Camden, including psych legends HAWKWIND, plus The Quietus, Human Disease Promo & Nightshift Promotions stages all revealed.

Yes, you read that title correctly. Desertfest are honoured, thrilled, losing our minds, quivering in our boots to reveal that one of the most influential English bands in heavy musical history are gracing us with our presence this May, seminal space-rockers HAWKWIND will return to the hallowed ground of The Roundhouse to play a very special performance as main support to Monster Magnet. Hawkwind require no real introduction – genre-defining mavericks since 1969, it’s safe to say most of your favourite bands wouldn’t exist without Hawkwind; their legend precedes them, expect a life affirming, life altering show. We are beyond excited.

Yet more Carolina goodness is coming Desertfest’s way, underground skater heroes ASG will make their psych riddled, post-punk sound heard across London, earplugs recommended, party times guaranteed. 70’s blues-soaked hard rockers RADIO MOSCOW will also make their return, following a recently sold-out performance at The Borderline – this trio of psychedelic power are being met with hugely high acclaim and for a damn good reason. They’re groovy, heavy and damn near perfect.

No strangers to the Desertfest, doom heroes MONOLORD are back to offer up some of the finest riffs to have ever come out Sweden’s smoke. Fuelled by bongs and black coffee, they are one of the favourite returning acts for the fest – y’all better get in the queue now if you don’t want to miss it. Another act from the dirty South comes in the form of SOURVEIN, sludge and crust blended together in perfect guttural harmony. Leading man T-Roy’s been fighting the good fight for over two decades and the band are now easily at their strongest. Not one for the faint hearted.

Alongside his performance with The Obsessed, leading man WINO will perform an acoustic set across the Desertfest weekend. Last time we had the frontman play an acoustic set at DF the queue was out the door, it’s stripped back but still totally heavy. Belgian bulldozers STEAK NUMBER EIGHT are making a long awaited appearance at Desertfest London, a postmetal powerhouse their live performances have been met with high praise around Europe. A hypnotic haze will fall when the mighty DOPELORD take the stage, sickeningly smooth vocals hit the good spot whilst thunderous riffs and a mind altering magnitude of heavy rattle your core.

Also filling up the final line-up are newcomers DEAD WITCHES, psychedelic New York masters KING BUFFALO, out of this world riff rockers KIND, British noise rockers CATTLE plus NECROMANCERS, CRUMPET, SOLLEME, LIONIZE, LNN, CHRCH, MASTIFF, TUSKAR, TOM CAMERON and LO CHIE

ALSO RECENTLY ANNOUNCED:

The Quietus stage

The Quietus Stage usually brings some of the more diverse bands to Desertfest and this year is no different. Headlining the stage at The Black Heart on Friday 4th May are WHITE HILLS whose concentrated blasts of interstellar noise with a tank load of psychedelic glam makes them the truest space rock goliaths of our time. They’ll be joined by GHOLD, SNAPPED ANKLES, MELTING HAND, CASUAL NUN and SWEDISH DEATH CANDY.

Nightshift Promotions stage

The melodic tones of DARKHER will be headlining this year’s Nightshift Promotions stage at The Dev at Desertfest 2018. They’ll be joined by a diverse, but equally dark lineup which brings post-metal from TELEPATHY and SNOW BURIAL, the experimental noise of CROWD OF CHAIRS, blackened doom from MONOLITHIAN and the sludge of THE MOTH.

Human Disease Promo/When Planets Collide stage

This year the Human-disease Promo and When Planets Collide Stage has gone for an all out colossus of weighty heaviness for Desertfest 2018. Headlining the stage are WEEDEATER, making their second appearance of the weekend with a special early years set. They’ll be joined by Denver’s most crushing PRIMITIVE MAN, Canadian bruisers BISON, Swedish heaviness from SUMA, St Louis filthsters FISTER, Notts nasties MOLOCH and heavyweight duo BISMUTH.

http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/

Hawkwind, Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Electric Funeral Fest 2017 Announces Schedule; Kicks off this Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

This Friday in Denver marks the beginning of Electric Funeral Fest 2017. Kicking things off at 4:15PM will be West Coast boogie groovers Lords of Beacon House, followed immediately by High on the Mountain right across the street. I know these things because the festival has newly announced its full schedule for its two-day run, which features the likes of Slow Season, The Well, Sourvein, Goya, Oryx, headliners Acid King and Corky Laing’s Mountain, and many others. I’ve got kind of a whirlwind couple weeks coming up as it is, but if you were offering me a ticket and a flight, I’d have a hard time turning this one down. Looks like it’s going to be an incredible time for those fortunate enough to be there.

If that’s you, I hope you have a blast. Here’s the info:

electric-funeral-fest-2017-schedule

DUST Presents: Electric Funeral Fest 2017

Tickets: www.electricfuneralfest.eventbrite.com
** 21+, All tickets are non-refundable **

DENVER, CO
HI DIVE // 3 KINGS TAVERN

FRIDAY JUNE 16th
The Joint by Cannabis Stage at 3 Kings Tavern
4:15 – 4:50 Lords of Beacon House
5:15 – 5:50 Oryx
6:15 – 6:50 Muscle Beach
7:15 – 7:50 Communion
8:15 – 8:50 Monarch
9:15 – 9:55 The Well
10:15 – 11:00 Slow Season
11:40 – 12:40 Corky Laing’s MOUNTAIN

Hi-Dive Denver
4:45 – 5:20 High on the Mountain
5:45 – 6:20 Smokey Mirror
6:45 – 7:20 Greenbeard
7:45 – 8:20 The Munsens
8:45 – 9:20 R.I.P.
9:40 – 10:20 Goya
10:40 – 11:25 Sourvein
-After Party-
12:50 – 1:30 Glitter Wizard

SATURDAY JUNE 17th
The Joint by Cannabis Stage at 3 Kings Tavern
4:15 – 4:50 Dizz Brew
5:15 – 5:50 Red Wizard
6:15 – 6:50 Feather Stone
7:15 – 7:50 Great Electric Quest
8:15 – 8:50 Barrows
9:15 – 9:55 The Heavy Eyes
10:15 – 11:00 Electric Citizen
11:40 – 12:40 ACID KING

Hi-Dive Denver
4:45 – 5:20 Urn
5:45 – 6:20 Jagged Mouth
6:45 – 7:20 Malahierba
7:45 – 8:20 Love Gang
8:45 – 9:20 Banquet
9:40 – 10:20 Cloud Catcher
10:40 – 11:25 Destroyer of Light
-After Party-
12:50 – 1:30 Crypt Trip

Electric Funeral will once again be happening in the South Broadway district of Denver. Anyone that is familiar with Denver knows that S. Broadway is one of the greatest neighborhoods this city has to offer. In our second year of this event, we have added a second stage at Hi Dive. Hi Dive is across the street from 3 Kings Tavern and easily one of the greatest places to party in Denver.

There is also no shortage of other great bars and restaurants in the area for attendees to visit if they need a break from head-banging. Although both stages are indoors, this will feel like just as much of an outdoor event as people go back and forth between the two venues that will run simultaneously through both evenings. Hey hey, my my, rock n’ roll sure ain’t fuckin’ dying in Denver!

www.electricfuneralfest.eventbrite.com
https://www.facebook.com/dustpresents/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1810211735896531/

Corky Laung’s Mountain, “Theme from an Imaginary Western” Live

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Electric Funeral Fest 2017 Announces Corky Laing’s Mountain to Headline

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Acid King and Mountain as headliners? Look, I was pretty much sold on the notion of Electric Funeral Fest 2017 anyway, but it’s not like adding Corky Laing and a bunch of other dudes playing Mountain classics hurts. The festival is set for this June in the Mile High city of Denver, Colorado, and in addition to those two it features a swath of righteous acts from the West Coast, the Midwest, the South and the East, pulling in various kind of heavy from doom to sludge to classic rock and roll in what’s an obviously well curated environment. If I could go, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

Some of the below was posted previously, but I want to reiterate to underscore the point. If you’re in this part of the world, you should fucking go to this. Events like this deserve your support and they deserve to continue to flourish and grow. Don’t suck. Go and have a good time. That’s my piece. I’ve said it.

Info follows:

denver-electric-funeral-fest-2017

“Honored to announce the headliner of Day 1 at Electric Funeral Fest is current iteration of iconic rock band, MOUNTAIN. Original drummer Corky Laing has teamed up with a band to play Mountain hits from the early ’70s. It is a true pleasure to host a legend from the era that started it all.

Electric Funeral will once again be happening in the South Broadway district of Denver. Anyone that is familiar with Denver knows that S. Broadway is one of the greatest neighborhoods this city has to offer. In our second year of this event, we have added a second stage at Hi Dive. Hi Dive is across the street from 3 Kings Tavern and easily one of the greatest places to party in Denver.

There is also no shortage of other great bars and restaurants in the area for attendees to visit if they need a break from head-banging. Although both stages are indoors, this will feel like just as much of an outdoor event as people go back and forth between the two venues that will run simultaneously through both evenings. Hey hey, my my, rock n’ roll sure ain’t fuckin’ dying in Denver!

Electric Funeral Fest 2017 – Friday June 16th & Saturday June 17th
Location: Denver, CO @ Hi Dive & 3 Kings Tavern

LINEUP

Friday June 16
Headliner: Corky Laing’s Mountain
Support: Sourvein, Slow Season, Goya, R.I.P., The Well, Glitter Wizard, Monarch, Muscle Beach, The Munsens, Communion, Lords of Beacon House, Greenbeard, Oryx, Smokey Mirror, High on the Mountain

Saturday June 17
Headliner: Acid King
Support: Electric Citizen, The Heavy Eyes, Destroyer of Light, Crypt Trip, Cloud Catcher, Love Gang, Barrows, Great Electric Quest, Red Wizard, Banquet, Ocelot (performing as Feather Stone), Jagged Mouth, Pueblo Escobar, Urn

Flier art by Christina Hunt
Flier layout by Keith Dreissen

www.electricfuneralfest.eventbrite.com
https://www.facebook.com/dustpresents/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1810211735896531/

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Electric Funeral Fest 2017 Announces Lineup; Limited Early Tickets Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Today, Denver’s Electric Funeral Fest 2017 reveals Acid King will headline and the likes of Sourvein, Slow Season, Goya, Electric Citizen, Destroyer of Light, The Well, Cloud Catcher, Oryx and many more will appear. Limited early tickets — there seem to be 40 — are on sale as of right this second.

One headliner is still TBA, but even so, it’s a remarkably ambitious return for Electric Funeral Fest, which had its first showing in 2016. Put on by DUST Presents, it finds hometown representation through The Munsens, Love Gang, Oryx, and Cloud Catcher, likely among others, and reaches far and wide in filling out an impressive roster of acts. To be perfectly blunt about it, it looks fucking awesome.

The fest was kind enough to let me host this initial lineup announcement, and below, organizer Shaun Goodwin gives some background on the area where it will take place across two venues and the vibe they’re shooting for with Electric Funeral Fest 2017.

Dig it:

electric-funeral-fest-2017-poster

Electric Funeral Fest 2017 – Friday June 16th & Saturday June 17th

Location: Denver, CO @ Hi Dive & 3 Kings Tavern

Tickets: www.electricfuneralfest.eventbrite.com
– There will be 40 early bird discounted 2-day passes available at $49
– After those are sold, presale 2-day passes are $59
– 1 day passes are $32

Electric Funeral will once again be happening in the South Broadway district of Denver. Anyone that is familiar with Denver knows that S. Broadway is one of the greatest neighborhoods this city has to offer. In our second year of this event, we have added a second stage at Hi Dive. Hi Dive is across the street from 3 Kings Tavern and easily one of the greatest places to party in Denver.

There is also no shortage of other great bars and restaurants in the area for attendees to visit if they need a break from head-banging. Although both stages are indoors, this will feel like just as much of an outdoor event as people go back and forth between the two venues that will run simultaneously through both evenings. Hey hey, my my, rock n’ roll sure ain’t fuckin’ dying in Denver!

LINEUP

Friday June 16
Headliner: TBA
Support: Sourvein, Slow Season, Goya, R.I.P., The Well, Glitter Wizard, Monarch, Muscle Beach, The Munsens, Communion, Lords of Beacon House, Greenbeard, Oryx, Smokey Mirror, High on the Mountain

Saturday June 17
Headliner: Acid King
Support: Electric Citizen, The Heavy Eyes, Destroyer of Light, Crypt Trip, Cloud Catcher, Love Gang, Barrows, Great Electric Quest, Red Wizard, Banquet, Ocelot (performing as Feather Stone), Jagged Mouth, Pueblo Escobar, Urn

Flier art by Christina Hunt
Flier layout by Keith Dreissen

www.electricfuneralfest.eventbrite.com
https://www.facebook.com/dustpresents/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1810211735896531/

Goya, “Misanthropy on High” live at Electric Funeral Fest 2016

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Presents: 12 of 2016’s Best Album Covers

Posted in Features, Visual Evidence on December 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

This list could easily go to 20. Or 30. Or 50. The democratization of media and the flourishing of aesthetic thanks to wide-open digital interaction across national and cultural borders has meant that bands in Texas can get artwork from Spain easily — something we’ve come to take for granted in this age of messages flying through space in indeterminate instants. There’s a lot of art out there. A lot of it is very, very good. Not all, but a lot.

In the particular realm of heavy rock and doom, I’ve spent a lot of time this year being discouraged at the continued and apparently flourishing objectification of women. Cartoon tits. Get out of here with that shit. You’ll notice none of the covers on this list go that route. It’s boring, it’s easy and it’s sexist. If you want to establish your masculine dominance, go pull your dick out at the mall and see how that does for you. Putting other people down to make yourself feel bigger is for kindergarten. As human beings, we should be past it.

Nonetheless — and I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t also note the lack of women on this list — there is a ton of interesting and forward-moving work being done around the world and I think that’s worth taking a couple minutes to celebrate even just a fraction of it. Hopefully you agree, and if you have some favorite art you’d like to add to the list, please hit up the comments.

Ordered alphabetically by artist

Sourvein, Aquatic Occult

sourvein aquatic occult

Cover by Jordan Barlow. Artist website.

Sourvein‘s Aquatic Occult (review here) was a dense, multi-faceted work, and one imagines that for Jordan Barlow of New Orleans’ Abracadabra Tattoo, part of the challenge was in either finding or creating a design that coincided with that without coming across as confused or off-theme. This bevvy of undersea elements gives us a central figure in a frustrated Neptune with a shark-teeth crown, a human presence in the two diver helmets (is anyone in there?) and highlights the dangers of the ocean with its hammerheads and threatening-looking seahorse, as well as what seems to be a whirlpool and another swirl in opposite top corners. All told, the deep blue and green tones complement the morass of Sourvein‘s sound, raw and natural as it is, and provide moody intrigue to coincide with the wide variety of songwriting on display. Like the album, it is defined in no small part by its haze.

Holy Grove, Holy Grove

holy grove holy grove

Cover by Adam Burke. Artist website.

Portland-based Adam Burke is something of a repeat offender when it comes to badass artwork. He regularly posts works in progress on social media and the lushness of his technique astounds me nearly every time out. Holy Grove‘s self-titled debut (review here) was far from the only piece of his a band used this year, but what stood it out most was the balance between nighttime — as seen in the stars and the darkness of the sky and trees — and the aurora borealis that offered such a rich, otherworldly feel. Beautiful, immediately recognizable as Burke‘s, and it pays subtle homage to his and the band’s Cascadian home region with the shapes of the tall evergreens in the foreground, speaking all the more to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the classic soul fused into the record itself.

Duel, Fears of the Dead

duel fears of the dead

Cover by Pol Abran Cantador. Artist website.

How could one not look at the cover of Duel‘s debut album, Fears of the Dead (review here), and not immediately think of the Misfits? And yet, Barcelona-based Pol Abran Cantador, operating under the banner of Branca Studio, brings a freshness to the striking, landmark skull design. The face is off-center, the eyes looking outward. While there’s little doubt as to the visual reference being made, it’s just that — a reference, not an emulation. Treading that balance would be admirable enough for inclusion here, but impact of the piece becomes greater with the distressed look and the deep blood red surrounding, giving dimension as a backdrop, reinforcing the perspective of the figure, and providing Duel with a horror-cinema vibe that begs the question of just what those eyes are staring at.

Brutus, Wandering Blind

brutus wandering blind

Cover by Maarten Donders. Artist website.

Sometimes something just stays with you. On the surface, Dutch artist Maarten Donders brings forward a pretty simple idea for Norwegian boogie rockers Brutus‘ third album, Wandering Blind (review here). Images from ’60s-style psychedelic pulp horror come to mind — the bat, the spiderwebs, the blank stare on the face, the flowing hair through the open mouth of the skull, the monster eyeballs, the purposefully hand-drawn logo — but at the same time, the execution of these things is so intricate. Look at the bags under those eyes, the black holes where the teeth of that skull should be, the weird bubbles by the eyeballs, and the comic-style lettering of the album title itself, which switches back and forth between capitalized and lowercase letters. Look at the shadowed impression of a vinyl record that encircles the design but lets the chin of the skull and the band’s logo protrude. It’s so immediate but so deceptive, hiding its devils in its details.

Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, Tranquonauts

tranquonauts seedy jeezus isaiah mitchell
Cover by Mr. Frumpy. Artist website.

While it’s true that for this collaboration between Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell and Melbourne heavy psych rockers Seedy Jeezus, the front cover only tells half the story of the full Tranquonauts (review here) gatefold, even 50 percent is enough to justify inclusion here. Put together by Mr. Frumpy Frumpedia, aka Seedy Jeezus guitarist Lex Waterreus, it was one of several artworks this year to feature smaller figures against a grand backdrop — Geezer‘s self-titled and Sunnata‘s Zorya, featured below, come to mind immediately, as well as the last Fu Manchu — but it was the openness of the space itself that Waterreus captured, both on the ground and in the sky, and the atmosphere that brought to the instrumental, jammed-put proceedings on the LP’s two sides, that made it work so well. The humanoid figures — maybe the total four-piece of the lineup? — are so utterly overwhelmed by their surroundings, and yet they seem more than ready to make their journey through them, finding life along what seems to be a barren path.

Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow

greenleaf rise above the meadow

Cover by Sebastian Jerke. Artist website.

Sebastian Jerke has kind of become Napalm Records‘ go-to artist over the last couple years, as his past and upcoming work for the likes of My Sleeping Karma, monkey3, Ahab, The Answer and others can attest, but the strangeness of the natural world, the three-dimensional protrusion of the trees, the layered depths, and the commanding presence of the bear, owl, snake and winged insects standing above it all made his work for Greenleaf‘s Rise Above the Meadow (review here) my favorite album cover of the year. It’s very much in his painterly, somewhat classical style, but the way the light seems to come from the band’s logo and behind the planet, the use of shadow and shading on the trees, and the monstrously blank eyes of the bear and owl give it a depth and narrative that remains nothing short of breathtaking. Clearly a labor of love.

Beastwars, The Death of all Things

beastwars the death of all things

Cover by Nick Keller. Artist website.

My only question was whether it was the cover for The Death of all Things (review here) I’d include or Keller‘s piece that was used for Child‘s new album, Blueside (review here), but with the context of this very likely being the final offering from New Zealand sludgecrushers Beastwars, the answer was plain. Either way, Keller‘s sense of scale and scope remains immense and he continues to bring a feel of the epic to his work here as he did to his two prior covers for Beastwars, on 2013’s Blood Becomes Fire (review here) and the band’s 2011 self-titled debut (review here), resulting in a more than suitable pairing of visual representation and impact of sound. Rarely does one find an artist and a band so much on the same page.

Goatess, II: Purgatory Under New Management

goatess ii purgatory under new management

Cover by Göran Nilsson. Artist website.

Charm goes a long way in my book, always, and Göran Nilsson‘s cover for the second outing by Swedish doomers GoatessII: Purgatory Under New Management (review here), has it in bulk supply. The underlying mischief of depicting the four-piece as medieval-esque saints painted on wood like something out of the Middle Ages — their faces grim with a seriousness of purpose not at all letting on to the tongue-in-cheek nature of the record’s title — with halos behind their heads and scripture in tow, well, it’s got a humor that most doom wouldn’t dare go near for fear of losing the edge of its miseries. For Goatess, however, it works perfectly in conveying an essential piece of where the band is coming from, in that their output in the first place seems to be as much about getting together and celebrating the act of writing songs as a unit as it is worshiping the traditions of the style.

Droids Attack, Sci-Fi or Die

droids

Cover by Eli Quinn. Artist website.

While a jpeg of the cover alone doesn’t quite do justice to the full presentation of Eli Quinn‘s artwork for Droids Attacks‘ Sci-Fi or Die (review here), which went so far as to print the title of the record in gold ink on the CD case, feature even more detailed work inside and even go so far as to create an entirely separate artwork scheme for a bonus track hidden on a mini-CD under the back tray under the disc for the album (detailed here), I still find the image of the launching South American-style pyramid as a full diamond taking off — especially with the lights beaming out the bottom — among the most striking of 2016. Reminiscent of Arik Roper‘s detailed style, Quinn‘s cover added depth and purpose to the band’s never-tighter songcraft while also speaking to the love of science-fiction storytelling that drove them to use the title in the first place. Hard not to win with ancient aliens.

Sunnata, Zorya

sunnata zorya

Cover by Jeffrey Smith. Artist website.

Derived it would seem at least in part from a piece called “Erosion of Self,” or at very least of a kin to it, like a lot of Smith‘s work, his art for Zorya (review here) by Polish heavy rockers Sunnata treats light with a religious reverence. Like a Kubrick shot, the sun is dead-center of the painting itself, framed and encircled by gaseous-looking clouds, and as the dawn seems to break over this landscape (or is it sunset?), it becomes difficult to tell where the robed monks end and the rocky protrusions begin. Our eyes are drawn immediately toward the light, and it’s the light that ultimately defines the story here, the way the beams of light shoot outward and turn the desert floor white so that it almost reminds of a body of water as much as a place where nothing seems to grow. Stark but consuming.

High Fighter, Scars and Crosses

high fighter scars and crosses

Cover by Dominic Sohor. Artist website.

This one was so dark, so malevolent, with such a violent bend in its prominent central figure, that it seemed to encapsulate the underlying threat that always seemed to loom over High Fighter‘s Svart Records debut album, Scars and Crosses (review here). Because the faceless blue skin and hanging, stringy hair are so reminiscent of Japanese horror films, and because the heart  in the right hand stands out so much in its silvery tone and because the pattern on the dress/cowl is so intricate, you almost don’t notice at first that it’s blood shooting out of that figure’s left wrist filled with upside-down and rightside-up crosses or that it seems to be veins in the top left corner acting as puppet strings, propping up the entire play. But it definitely is, and that only furthers the horrific, nightmarish imagery surrounding, where even the shaded background seems to want to lure you in with no hope of escape.

Bridesmaid, International House of Mancakes

bridesmaid international house of mancakes

Cover by W. Ralph Walters. Artist website.

Come on. So you mean to tell me you went ahead an reinvented KISS‘ cover for Destroyer with Ohio heavy rockers Bridesmaid dressed as the Village People? Be still my beating heart. The art for International House of Mancakes (review here) offers subversive humor without judgment, winking at the homoeroticism that has always been and likely will always be a part of rock and roll, and ultimately mocks the ridiculousness of the denial of that same homoeroticism. From the hands raised in triumph on either side (an element pulled right from the original KISS cover) to the stacks of pancakes the instrumental outfit is standing on, it functioned as artwork to say so much about the band and was perhaps all the more effective in conveying its message and their message since there were no lyrics to pull in other directions. It’s all right there in your face; bright and brilliant.

Because I can’t seem to get out of one of these lists without a series of honorable mentions, I’ll say too that 2016 offerings from Borracho, SubRosa, Inter Arma, Mars Red Sky, Vokonis, Elephant Tree, EYE, Slomatics, Gozu and Black Moon Circle managed to strike on one level or another.

Thanks for reading. Like I said at the outset, this is barely a fraction of the amazing art that came down the line this year. If you’ve got something to add, please hit up the comments.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Sourvein, Mantar, Elevators to the Grateful Sky, The Poisoned Glass, Spirit Collector, Phiasco, The Cosmic Dead, Postures, Estoner, The Black Explosion

Posted in Reviews on June 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

Well here we are. Standing on the precipice of a week of 50 reviews, looking out together at the geographic and sonic expanses that will be covered. I never know entirely what a given Quarterly Review is going to bring. Some have been smooth, some not. This one is being put together very little pre-production in terms of chasing down band links and that sort of thing, so I expect it’s going to be an adventure one way or another. I’ll keep you updated as we go as to my mental state and the deterioration thereof.

If you don’t know the drill, The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review is a week every three months in which I review 10 albums per day, Monday through Friday. Some of it was released in the prior three months, some of it is brand new, some of it probably isn’t out yet, some of it is probably older. It’s all relevant one way or another. I hope you find something you enjoy.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Sourvein, Aquatic Occult

Sourvein Aquatic Occult

Looking at the makeup of Sourvein’s much-awaited fourth album, Aquatic Occult (on Metal Blade), it’s understandable why it might’ve taken five years to put together. Yes, they had splits out in between, as they do, but the band’s last full-length was 2011’s Black Fangs (review here), and though the 14-song/42-minute Aquatic Occult is manageable, with a host of interludes to carry the listener along its thick-toned, undulating waves, a swath of guest appearances no doubt played havoc with logistics. Fortunately, Sourvein’s figurehead, vocalist T-Roy Medlin, seems to thrive on chaos. Working with producer Mike Dean (C.O.C.), and a revolving-door lineup that here features Lou Gorra of Halfway to Gone, Medlin brazenly explores a more melodic dynamic than he ever has. It’s a rare band looking to experiment after 20 years, a rarer band still that pulls it off so well. There’s still some sludgy rasp and guest growling, but Sabbathian roll is the order of the day ultimately and Medlin’s homage to his home in Cape Fear, North Carolina, establishes a breadth unheard before from Sourvein that’s worthy of the years and obvious effort that went into its making.

Sourvein on Thee Facebooks

Sourvein at Metal Blade Records

 

Mantar, Ode to the Flame

Mantar Ode To The Flame

Hamburg duo Mantar’s blend of thrash, sludge and blackened doom is brash, righteously punkish and thus far uncompromised in its malevolent intent. On their second album and Nuclear Blast debut, Ode to the Flame, songs like “Era Borealis” swagger as much as they sneer, the middle-finger-up arrogance becoming part of the appeal. “The Hint” offers some tinge of melody and “I Omen” some organ-laced atmospherics, but Mantar, who debuted in 2015 with the also fire-minded Death by Burning (review here) on Svart, carry their extremity forward like the next logical step of the same impulses that High on Fire once brought forth. Their tempo shifts, from blazing squibblies to outright lumbering, are pulled off with due fuckall, and the shouts from guitarist/vocalist Hanno and drummer/vocalist Erinc are spit forth in a manner near-indecipherable but still have no trouble getting their point across. Mantar are positioning themselves to be the kick in the ass that the underground needs. The next few years (and albums) will see how that pans out, but for now they have two scorchers under their collective belt.

Mantar on Thee Facebooks

Mantar at Nuclear Blast

 

Elevators to the Grateful Sky, Cape Yawn

elevators to the grateful sky cape yawn

There is a stylistic restlessness to stretches of Elevators to the Grateful Sky’s second record, Cape Yawn (on HeviSike), that becomes the uniting factor between the adrenaline-amped opening with “Ground” and “Bullet Words” and the later dream-surf Yawning Man-meets-sax unfurling of the title-track. The Palermo, Italy, outfit have stated their intention as capturing a blend of ‘90s alternative and modern heavy. Fair enough, but hearing that play out on the penultimate “Mountain Ship” in a mix of weighted riffing and laid back vocals giving way to shouts, it seems that to me that next time out, Elevators to the Grateful Sky should probably just start saying they sound like themselves, because they do. Granted, they’re pulling elements from familiar sources – Soundgarden, Kyuss, etc. – but in giving them new context, the four-piece are defining their sound as moving fluidly between the various styles, and that’s to be commended. The more you put into listening, the more you’ll get out of it.

Elevators to the Grateful Sky on Thee Facebooks

HeviSike Records website

 

The Poisoned Glass, 10 Swords

the poisoned glass 10 swords-700

Representing a 50 percent reunion of Burning Witch, the droning contemplations and hellish atmospherics of The Poisoned GlassRitual Productions debut, 10 Swords, pique immediate interest. And bassist/percussionist/etc.-ist G. Stuart Dahlquist and vocalist/keyboardist Edgy 59 do not disappoint. With unspeakable patience, they execute six grueling and cinematic pieces that seem to find comfort in tortured expression and that feel claustrophobic even as they continue to expand outward and downward through “Plume Veil” and “Toil and Trouble” into the extended closing duo “Silent Vigil” – spoiler alert: not actually silent – and “Low Spirits,” which moves from minimalist stillness through far-back screams and into a wash of synth before its seven minutes are up, covering more ground in one track than some bands do in their entire career. Fair to say on the whole 10 Swords is an immersive listen, but the prevailing vibe is much less “diving in” than “being swallowed whole by some obscure medieval terror.” So, you know, watch out for that.

The Poisoned Glass on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions on Bandcamp

 

Spirit Collector, Owls to Athens

spirit collector owls to athens-700

Los Angeles newcomers Spirit Collector make their debut with the self-released, three-song Owls to Athens EP, clear in its intent and brimming with airy, post-rock-derived guitar atmospherics. A particularly telling moment arrives with the Terence McKenna sample in centerpiece “Reclaim Your Mind,” which speaks of casting off the culture of celebrity worship for a richer human experience, but it’s in the extended closer “Theosophy” (7:57) that Spirit Collector find their footing someplace between a doomed plod and thoughtful psychedelia, picking up a chugging momentum as they push through toward the almost blackened finish, having come a surprising distance since their eponymous opener set the tone for expanse. An encouraging first offering if somewhat familiar superficially as instrumental heavy post-rock (think Explosions in the Sky, Russian Circles, Red Sparowes, etc.), and there’s nothing in Owls to Athens to make one think Spirit Collector can’t move forward and develop the experimental drive they begin to show here.

Spirit Collector on Thee Facebooks

Spirit Collector on Bandcamp

 

Phiasco, Vieh

phiasco vieh

Vieh, the debut full-length from Colonge-based desert rocking foursome Phiasco, takes its name from the German word for “cattle.” The band owe some of their fuzz to Truckfighters and some of their psychedelic wash to Sungrazer, but the attitude in songs like “Ultimate Warrior” – comprised largely of riffs topped with an extended sample from the titular professional wrestler – and “Sunndown” is their own, as is the we’re-still-having-a-really-good-time-while-we-make-this-15-minute-song closer “Phisco” (sic), a highlight of the live-recorded full-length, which across its span is light on pretense and heavy on bounce. Cuts like “Old Town” and opener “Back to the Future” – hey, that’s a movie! – bring catchy hooks, and the uptempo “Erasing Rabbits with My Phaserlight” winds up as harmonized as goofed out, and thus is all the more engaging. There’s a certain amount of getting by on charm here, but Phiasco have a capable, varied songwriting process that’s given due fullness and clarity in these eight tracks.

Phiasco on Thee Facebooks

Phiasco on Bandcamp

 

The Cosmic Dead, Rainbowhead

the-cosmic-dead-rainbowhead

Man, who gives a shit about anything else when Glaswegian five-piece The Cosmic Dead are enacting their hypnotic swirl? Their latest instrumental invitation to watch existence melt is called Rainbowhead and it arrives through Paradigms Recordings (CD) and Blackest Rainbow Records (LP) with four tracks that serve as the band’s first full-length since 2014’s EasterFaust, though they’ve had splits in between to keep a prolific rate of offerings fitting for their explorational heavy psych/space rock. The bulk of Rainbowhead is engagingly upbeat as side A plays out across “Human Sausage,” “Skye Burial” and the 13-minute “Inner C,” and side B’s 18-minute title-track follows suit as The Cosmic Dead seem to have found a similar niche between progressive rock and psych to that which Mammatus proffered on their most recent outing. It suits The Cosmic Dead, and they keep an improv vibe prevalent as ever, grasping the subconscious with trip-on-it lysergic pulsations.

The Cosmic Dead on Thee Facebooks

Paradigms Recordings website

Blackest Rainbow Records website

 

Postures, Halucinda

postures halucinda

Deeply textured and lush in its construction around guitar arrangements, percussive and keyboard-laden melodic flourish, Postures’ second full-length, Halucinda (on World in Sound), plays back and forth between prog and heavy rock impulses. The Gothenburg, Sweden, five-piece seem most at home in extended tracks like “Myriad Man,” “Every Room” and the jazzy 10-minute “Wavemaker,” but even the acoustic-led centerpiece interlude “A Million Sequences” invites the audience to turn up the volume for maximum wash effect. Paulina Nyström delivers a powerful, commanding and fluid vocal performance, and while the rhythm section of bassist Per Pettersson and drummer Isak Björhag are the foundation on which these complex structures play out – Viktor Andersson and Benjamin Watts handle guitar; Madeleine Sjögren is credited with backing vocals/keys and Margit Gyllspång percussion/backing vocals – there’s no angle from which Postures don’t come across rich and vital in their winding but well-plotted course, one song feeding fluidly to the next until the dreamy “In the Dark” rounds out with the emotional apex of the record.

Postures on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound Records

 

Estoner, Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis

estoner lennud saatana dimensioonis

What else to call a stoner band from Estonia? Estoner’s appeal, however, goes well beyond their moniker. The Tallinn-based outfit’s second album, Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis, arrives in a handmade hexagonal CD package, heat sealed, as well as with complete visual accompaniment on limited VHS and cassette via Golem Records. The music is no less relentlessly creative, running a gamut between prog, black metal, heavy rock, psychedelia, space rock and probably a few others in its seven-track course. A song like “Teleporteerumine” conjures darkened swirl and “Reptiloid” follows through with foreboding threat, but Estoner plunge even deeper as they go, proferring aesthetic reach that makes seemingly disparate elements work together fluidly on “Hüvasti, Kosmiline Monoliit” and the 10-minute closing title-track. Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis is to call it Svart-worthy, as its diverse means of engulfing the listener speak to a forward-thinking approach that one can only hope Estoner continue to develop.

Estoner on Thee Facebooks

Estoner on Bandcamp

 

The Black Explosion, Atomic Zod War

Unbenannt-1

Extra points to Swedish troupe The Black Explosion for opening their third album, the space-fuzzed out Atomic Zod War (on Metalville Records), with its longest track, the 13-minute “Paralyzed.” That song offers a languid voyage through uncharted jammy reaches, and that sets an open, laid back expectation that the rest of the album seems only too glad to build on, from the Nebula-via-Monster Magnet blown out vibes of “Ain’t Coming Home” to the semi-garage buzz of “Going Down,” a highlight groove that emphasizes the natural, raw tones at play leading into “Get My Mind Together” and the finisher “Devil Inside,” which brings the guitar of Chris Winter (also Dollhouse) forward with backing from bassist Simon Haraldsson and drummer Andreas Lindquist that feels born of the new West Coast tradition but is likely playing off of older impulses. But for its hey-look-it’s-tits cover art, the grit Atomic Zod War offers comes through organically and draws the listener in with its live feel and underlying boogie.

The Black Explosion on Thee Facebooks

Metalville Records

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

audiObelisk Transmission 057

Posted in Podcasts on April 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Given my druthers, I’d have had this up more than a week ago, but there was a bit of a crunch last week as you may have seen, so here we are. Better late than something something. The important thing is here’s about two hours’ worth of new music from psych to drone to sludge and if I do say so myself, it’s a pretty good mix of all of it. The first hour gets pretty driving by the time you get down to Gozu and Domadora before the big chill out with New Planet Trampoline, and though I’m always happy to include audio from improv specialists Øresund Space Collective, their “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. 1” might be their most tripped-out affair yet. Darker for sure, but way, way gone.

As always, the theme is simple — new music — and the goal is perhaps you’ll hear something you didn’t know before. The impact of Elephant Tree’s “Aphotic Blues” forced itself into the playlist, and I’ve been digging the hell out of new Goya, Telstar Sound Drone and Gozu releases, so they had to be here too. I hear some Floor in Spotlights, but there’s more to them than just that, which I think you can hear in “The Grower,” and that’s really just the start of what gets to be pretty expansive by the time it’s finished. Hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Curse the Son, “Sleepwalker Wakes” from Isolator
0:05:58 Valley of the Sun, “The Hunt” from Volume Rock
0:08:14 Spotlights, “The Grower” from Tidals
0:15:27 Dunbarrow, “The Crows Ain’t Far Behind” from Dunbarrow
0:18:47 Goya, “Last” from The Enemy
0:23:27 Sourvein, “Avian Dawn” from Aquatic Occult
0:26:54 Gozu, “Nature Boy” from Revival
0:30:01 Domadora, “Rocking Crash Hero” from The Violent Mystical Sukuma
0:34:40 New Planet Trampoline, “Acts of Mania” from Dark Rides and Grim Visions
0:43:26 Telstar Sound Drone, “Dead Spaces” from Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles
0:49:27 Samavayo, “Overrun” from Dakota
0:55:58 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree

Second Hour:

1:01:53 Black Moon Circle, “Warp Speed” from Sea of Clouds
1:14:54 Jupiter, “In Flux” from Interstellar Chronodive
1:28:43 Øresund Space Collective, “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. I” from Ode to a Black Hole

Total running time: 1:54:43

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 057

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,