Mad God Premiere Lyric Video for “I Created God” from Grotesque and Inexorable LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 25th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mad god

Semi-psych dirt sludgers Mad God are taking preorders now via Bandcamp for their sophomore full-length, Grotesque and Inexorable. The six-song/47-minute long-player follows the Johannesburg, South Africa, trio’s 2017 debut, Tales of a Sightless City, and boasts Lovecraftian themes and a horror-minded atmosphere worthy of the occasion. Amps tuned to 666, riffs a-murky and a plod in Pat Stephansen‘s drumming that finds ground beneath the floating, visibility-zero haze surrounding — it’s got all the makings of stoner ritualism, yet manages to balance its influences from earlier Electric Wizard, with a traditional doom sensibility, guitarist/principal songwriter Tim Harbour offsetting effects-drenched moans with cleaner, clearer vocals in the shifts between songs like “The DeZalze Horror” and the particularly memorable, Manson-themed “I Created God,” the lurch of which you can experience for yourself in the lyric video premiere below.

Whether it’s marching rhythm of that track, given low-end heft via the bassworkMad God Grotesque and Inexorable of Evert Snyman, or the purposeful force-your-head-under-muddy-water deep-dive of opener “Haunting the Graves of the Unhallowed,” there’s a clarity of purpose and intent that underscores the slow-motion onslaught, and there’s an emergent sense of atmosphere especially as the album plays out subsequent to that opener that by the time they get around to “The Crawling Chaos,” fourth of the six inclusions, sees a progressing change in the shape of the record’s personality. I don’t know if they’re following a narrative arc from one song to the next, but the flow between tracks speaks to Grotesque and Inexorable as a linear work despite its obvious vinyl-readiness. The arrangement of the songs with three eight-plus-minute cuts on side A and three shorter (not by much, but still) pieces on side B speaks a platter-ist mindset as well, but the point is the album flows either way.

Though perhaps “churns” would be a better word for what it does, since Mad God seem mostly to be stirring a doomly cauldron with their material, sending slow undulations rippling outward as they make their repetitive motions with the aforementioned shifts along the way. The closing salvo of “No Prayers, No Fires” and “The Hunt Begins” reinforces the ethereal presence in Harbour‘s vocals and chugs to oblivion, leaving the bounce in the finale as a kind of revelry of the damned that not only echoes the movement of “I Created God” in the same position or rounding out side A, but pushes further along the same line, dragging the audience into a horror-infused, radioactive creep.

Grotesque and Inexorable arrives Nov. 2. Please enjoy “I Created God” below, followed by more info from the PR wire:

Mad God, “I Created God” lyric video premiere

Johannesburg’s purveyors of sludgy-stoner-doom Mad God are set to release their second album Grotesque and Inexorable on the 2nd November. As a little taste for things to come they’ve unveiled a lyric video for the track I Created God taken from the album.

“This song was written after watching a Charles Manson documentary following his death in 2017. This song does not condone the actions of the cult leader but rather delves into the psyche and motives of both him and his followers around the time of the murders that took place in 1969.” – Tim Harbour

Mad God is:
Tim Harbour – Vocals and Guitar
Pat Stephansen – Drums
Evert Snyman – Bass

Mad God on Thee Facebooks

Mad God on Twitter

Mad God on Bandcamp

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Ruff Majik to Begin Recording New Album; Announce South Africa Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

South African heavy psych trio Ruff Majik are set to enter the studio to record the follow-up to their 2018 debut album, Seasons (review here), for an early 2019 release. I won’t claim to have any insight on the band’s processes, but given the live sound of the last record and the series of EPs that preceded it, it doesn’t seem out of line to expect they’ll get their sophomore full-length to tape with all good speed. That’s all the better since at the end of the month they’ll take stage at the Krank’d Up festival in Johannesburg, as one of a select round of live dates they’ll do in their home country to correspond with the European tour they undertook this past Spring following Seasons‘ release. You’ll note in the announcement below for the shows it says they’ve never played in their hometown of Lydenburg. Even knowing nothing about urban populations and demographics in South Africa, that seems astonishing to me. Smaller town, I guess? Still fascinating.

Gotta figure they’ll be back in Europe supporting the new album whenever it arrives. Hopefully that happens sooner than later.

From the PR wire:

ruff majik

Pretoria’s Ruff Majik Divulge Details for their “Season of the Witch” tour.

Coming off the back of 2 very successful European tours, South Africa’s sludge n roll kings Ruff Majik have revealed dates and details for their Season of The Witch tour.

Kicking off on the 29th September with their mainstage appearance at this year’s chapter of the mighty Krank’d Up Music Festival, the tour will see them play in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and for the very 1st time in their home town of Lydenburg.

“We’re extremely excited to be hitting the road for a few select dates with some good friends! Each show will be an entirely different experience with these line-ups, so we can’t wait!” – Johni Holiday, vocals / guitar

29 September // JHB // Krank’d Up Music Festival
12 October // PTA // The Grind Bar // with from Apocalypse Later, Wolkberg
13 October // JHB // Sundowners // with Them Dirty Shrikes, Caution Boy
20 October // DBN // Winston // with Pollinator, Mad God
26 October // LYD // Jam Jar Lounge // with Wolkberg, Them Dirty Shrikes

The band released their debut full length album Seasons on the 20th April 2018 which was well received by the local and international metal and rock media.

Seasons available now on all digital platforms including BandCamp Apple Music Spotify Deezer and on CD and cassette via Forbidden Place Records

The band will be in studio in September 2018 recording the follow up to Seasons with the aim of releasing early in 2019.

Ruff Majik:
Johni Holiday – Guitar, vocals
Jimi Glass – Bass guitar
Benni Manchino – Drums

https://www.ruffmajik.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ruffmajik
https://twitter.com/ruff_majik
https://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik/
https://forbiddenplacerecords.bandcamp.com/album/ruff-majik-seasons
http://shop.rockfreaks.de/en/home/92-ruff-majik-seasons-coming-soon-.html

Ruff Majik, Seasons (2018)

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Quarterly Review: Glanville, Destroyer of Light, The Re-Stoned, Ruff Majik, Soldat Hans, High Priestess, Weed Demon, Desert Storm, Ancient Altar, Black Box Warning

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

So Day 1’s done and it’s time to move on to Day 2. Feeling stressed and totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff still to be done? Why yes, I am. Thanks for asking. In the past, I used to handle the Quarterly Review well ahead of time. It’s always a lot to get through, but the week before, I’d be setting up back ends, chasing down links and Bandcamp players, starting reviews, etc., so that when it came time, all I had to do was the writing and plug it all into a post and I was set.

There was some prep-work done this past weekend, but especially this time, with my old laptop having been stolen in May, it’s all been way more jazz-improv. I was still adding releases as of last Friday, and writing beforehand? Shit. With the baby having just figured out how to climb? Not bloody likely. Accordingly, here we are, with much to do.

It’ll get done. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet, and if I took an extra day to get there, I’m under no delusion that anyone else would care. So there you go. Let’s hit it for Day 2:

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Glanville, First Blood

glanville first blood

First Blood is the aptly-titled five-song debut EP from Glanville, a newcomer dual-guitar outfit with established players Philip Michel (The Earwix) on lead and Christopher West (Named by the Sun, ex-Stubb, etc.) on rhythm, Wight’s Peter-Philipp Schierhorn on bass and René Hofmann on vocals, and Thomas Hoffman (ex-Bushfire) on drums. Based in Germany and the UK, the group present 23 minutes of material on their first outing, drawing from the guitar-led likes of Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest to capture early metal and present it with a heavy rocking soulfulness and modern production. The most raucous of the cuts might be centerpiece “Durga the Great,” but neither “God is Dead” nor “Dancing on Fire” before nor “Demons” and “Time to Go” after want for action, and especially the latter builds to a furious head to close out the release. Hofmann as a standalone singer wants for nothing in range or approach, and the band behind him obviously build on their collective experience to dig into a stylistic nuance rarely executed with such confidence. They’ve found a place willfully between and are working to make it theirs. Can’t ask for more than that.

Glanville on Thee Facebooks

Glanville on Bandcamp

 

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless

destroyer of light hopeless

Having just recently signed to Argonauta Records for a new album in 2019, Austin doomers Destroyer of Light follow their 2017 long-player, Chamber of Horrors (review here), with a further auditory assault in the lumbering Hopeless. Psychedelic and yet still somehow traditional doom lingers in the brain after “Nyx” and “Drowned” have finished – the latter with an Alan Watts sample discussing alcoholism – and the band moves into demos for Chamber of Horrors cuts “Into the Smoke,” “Lux Crusher” and “Buried Alive.” Between the two previously unreleased songs and those three demos, Hopeless pushes to 39 minutes, but it’s probably still fair to call it an EP because of the makeup. Either way, from the miserable plod of “Nyx,” in which each chug in the riff cycle seems to count another woe, to the rolling nod early and surprising melody late in “Drowned,” Hopeless is anything but. Anticipation was already pretty high for Destroyer of Light’s next record after the last one, but all Hopeless does is show further depth of approach and more cleverly-wielded atmospheric murk. And the more it sounds like there’s no escape, the more Destroyer of Light seem to be in their element.

Destroyer of Light on Thee Facebooks

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Stories of the Astral Lizard

the re-stonEd stories of the astral lizard

The inevitable question is “Why a lizard?” and if you make it four minutes into 11-minute opener “Fractal Panorama” and don’t have your answer, go back ad start over. Moscow heavy psych instrumentalists The Re-Stoned intend the reptile as a spirit guide for their new outing Stories of the Astral Lizard (on Oak Island Records), which follows quickly behind their late-2017 offering, Chronoclasm (review here), and given the ultra-patient desert vibes in the opener, the acoustic-laced folk-prog of “Mental Print for Free,” the languid meander of “A Companion from the Outside,” the swirling sprawl of the 16-minute “Two Astral Projections” and the final cowpoke drift of “The Heather Carnival,” one might indeed just find a lizard sunning its belly amid all the atmospheric evocations and hallucinatory vibes. I’ll take “Two Astral Projections” as the highlight, but mostly because the extra length allows the band to really dig in, but really the whole album feeds together gorgeously and is a new level of achievement when it comes to atmosphere for The Re-Stoned, who were already underappreciated and find themselves only more so now.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Seasons

Ruff Majik Seasons

Right on fuzz, right on groove, right on vibe – there isn’t much else one might say about Ruff Majik’s Seasons (on Rock Freaks Records and Forbidden Place Records) beyond “right on.” Heavy rock with twists of psychedelia, the Pretoria, South Africa, three-piece of Johni Holliday, Jimi Glass and Benni Manchino make their home on the lines of various subgenres, but wherever they go, the proceedings remain decisively heavy. To wit, a cut like “Breathing Ghosts” or the later “Birds Stole My Eyes” might dig into shuffle boogie or extreme-metal-derived thrust, but there’s a chemistry between the members and a resonant looseness that ties the material together, and as the last 14 of the total 66 minutes are dedicated to “Asleep in the Leaves,” there’s plenty of progressive weirdness in which to bask, one song moving through the next such that neither “Hanami Sakura (And the Ritual Suicide” nor the semi-doom-plodding “The Deep Blue” nor the funky twists of “Tar Black Blood” come across as predictable. Seasons might take a few listens to sink in, but it’s easily worth that effort.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Ruff Majik at Rock Freaks Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Soldat Hans, Es Taut

SOLDAT HANS ES TAUT-750

Hyperbole-worthy post-ism from Switzerland’s Soldat Hans makes their sophomore outing, Es Taut – on Wolves and Vibrancy Records as a 2LP – a forward thinking highlight. As rich in atmosphere as Crippled Black Phoenix and as lethal as Converge or Neurosis or anyone else you might dare to put next to them, the six-piece made their debut with 2014’s Dress Rehearsal (review here) and served notice of their cross-genre ambitiousness. Es Taut finds them four years later outclassing themselves and most of the rest of the planet across three extended tracks – “Story of the Flood” (26:15), “Schoner Zerbirst, Part I” (8:03) and “Schoner Zerbirst, Part II” (18:56) – that sprawl out with a confidence, poise and abrasion that is nothing short of masterful. Es Taut may be a case of a band outdoing their forebears, but whatever their legacy becomes and however many people take notice, Soldat Hans singlehandedly breathe life into the form of post-metal and prove utterly vital in so doing, not only making it their own, but pushing forward into something new in ambience and heft. This is what a band sounds like while making themselves indispensable.

Soldat Hans on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records website

 

High Priestess, High Priestess

high priestess high priestess

Calling to order a nod that’s immersive from the opening strains of leadoff/longest-track “Firefly” (still immediate points), Los Angeles trio High Priestess build out the psych-doom ritualizing of their 2017 demo (review here) to make their self-titled full-length debut through Ripple Music. The difference between the demo and the album in terms of what’s included comes down to artwork and the track “Take the Blame,” which adds its bell-of-the-ride swing between the atmosphere and melodic focus of “Banshee” and the spacious roller “Mother Forgive Me.” Potential is writ large throughout from guitarist/vocalist Katie Gilchrest, bassist/vocalist Mariana Fiel and drummer Megan Mullins, as it was on their demo, and even the harsh growls/screams on “Despise” seem to have found their place within the proceedings. As they wrap with the guitar-led jam of “Earth Dive,” High Priestess put the finishing touch on what’s hands-down one of 2018’s best debut albums and offer a reminder that as much potential as there is in their sound for future development, the accomplishments here are considerable unto themselves.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Weed Demon, Astrological Passages

weed demon astrological passages

Four tracks of gurgling riffy plunder pervade Astrological Passages, the 41-minute – longer if you get the digital version or the tape/CD, which includes the 7:24 “Dominion of Oblivion” – debut album from Columbus, Ohio’s Weed Demon. Delivered on vinyl through Electric Valley Records, the nodder/plodder carves out a cave for itself within a mountain of tonally thick stoner metal riffing, infusing a sense of sludge with shouted and growled vocals from guitarists Andy and Brian and bassist Jordan – only drummer Chris doesn’t get a mic – and an overarching sense of bludgeoning that’s Sleep-derived if not Sleep-adjacent in terms of its actual sound. Nasty? Why, yes it is, but as “Sigil of the Black Moon” heads toward the midpoint of its 10-minute run, the repetitive groove assault makes the band’s intention plain: worship weed, worship riff. They get faster on “Primordial Genocide” and even sneak a bit of speed in amidst the crawl before the banjo takes hold in the second half of 12-minute closer “Jettisoned” – more Americana sludge please; thank you – but they never lose sight of their mission, and it’s the uniting factor that makes their debut hit like the brick to the head that it is.

Weed Demon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Desert Storm, Sentinels

desert storm sentinels

With Sentinels, Oxford, UK, five-piece Desert Storm pass a decade since making their self-titled debut in 2008. They followed that with 2010’s Forked Tongues (review here), 2013’s Horizontal Life and 2014’s Omniscient (review here), and though they had a single out in 2014 on H42 Records as a split with Suns of Thunder (review here) in 2016, Sentinels is their first outing on APF Records and their first long-player in four years. Burl has always been an important factor in what they do, and the High on Fire-meets-Orange Goblin slamming of “The Brawl” backs that up, but Desert Storm have left much of the hyper-dudeliness behind in favor of a more complex approach, and while Sentinels isn’t a minor undertaking at 10 songs and 51 minutes, longer cuts like “Kingdom of Horns” and “Convulsion” demonstrate the maturity they’ve brought to bear, even as the one-two punch of “Drifter”  and “The Extrovert” offer swinging-fist hooks and beard-worthy chug that assures any and all testosterone quotas are met.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

APF Records on Bandcamp

 

Ancient Altar, Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras

ancient altar cosmic purge foie gras

Based in Los Angeles, Ancient AltarScott Carlson (bass/vocals), Barry Kavener (guitar/vocals), Jesse Boldt (guitar) and Etay Levy (drums) – were last heard from on 2015’s dug-in atmosludger Dead Earth (review here), and they return lo these several years later with the two-tracker Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras, pushing into more extreme crush-of-riff with an abandon that’s anything but reckless. On the contrary, there’s some clear development in the 10-minute “Cosmic Purge” and 13-minute “Foie Gras,” rolling out oppressive grooves with blended screams/shouts and cleaner vocals. As with the last album, a drive toward individuality is central here, and Ancient Altar get there in tone while bringing forth a sense of scope to a sound so regularly thought of as closed off or off-putting in general. In its early going, “Foie Gras” hypnotizes with echoing melody and spaciousness only to resolve itself in a deeply weighted dirge march, furthering the pummel of “Cosmic Purge” itself. I don’t know if the EP – on vinyl through Black Voodoo Records, CD on Transcendental Void Records – will lead toward another album or not, but the sense of progression in Ancient Altar’s style is right there waiting to be heard, so here’s hoping.

Ancient Altar on Thee Facebooks

Black Voodoo Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Box Warning, Attendre la Mort

black box warning attendre la mort

Listen to it on headphones and the kickdrum on Black Box Warning’s Attendre la Mort is downright painful. Next-level blown-out aggro pulsations. Brutal in a physical sense. The rest of the band doesn’t follow far behind in that regard. Riffs are viscous and violent in noise rock tradition, but denser in their tone despite some underlying punkishness, and the vocals are likewise distorted and abrasive. The five-song/23-minute EP’s title translates to “Waiting for Death,” and each of the tracks is a dose: Opener “5 mg” is followed by “4 mg,” “1 mg,” “2 mg” and “3 mg.” Unsurprisingly, pills are a theme, particularly on “4 mg,” and the sense of violent threat is clear in “2 mg” and 3 mg,” which boast lines like, “Watch them all scream/Watch your enemy bleeded,” and “You are the pig/I am the butcher,” respectively. Between the lyrical and the general aural cruelty, the dis-ease is consuming and unmitigated, sludge becoming a slow-motion grindcore, and that’s clearly the point. Not stabbing, but gouging.

Black Box Warning on Thee Facebooks

Black Box Warning on Bandcamp

 

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Ruff Majik Announce Seasons Physical Releases

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik

A conceptual work wherein each batch of three songs was actually written in a different season, the suitably titled Seasons was self-released by Pretorian trio Ruff Majik digitally on April 20. As the band is set to tour Europe this summer twice, making stops first at Freak Valley and then at SonicBlast Moledo, and, you know, as the album kicks ass, it’s not a huge surprise that it’s been picked up for physical release. And it’s all the more telling that rather than trickle out one format at a time over a period of years (or seasons, for that matter), Ruff Majik are taking care of it all in one shot. The limited 2LP will be out through the Freak Valley-associated Rock Freaks Records in a variety of editions, and the CD and tape versions will arrive through US imprint Forbidden Place.

Both labels have the album up for preorder now. Here’s the PR wire to tell you pretty much exactly what I just told you using different words:

ruff-majik-seasons

Ruff Majik Reveal Details to Release SEASONS on CD, Cassette and Vinyl

2018 is turning out to be an incredible year for South African Sludge n Rollers Ruff Majik. With two European tours booked that will see them playing Freak Valley Festival and SonicBlast as well as a host of club shows.

They also released their debut full-length album Seasons on the 20th April to widespread critical acclaim. The guys are happy to announce that they have signed deals with US label Forbidden Place Records to release and distribute Seasons on CD and cassette, while German label Rock Freaks Records will be releasing three versions of the double LP: classic black, coloured (still a secret) and die-hard (very limited).

Vocalist and guitarist Johni Holiday commented on the news “Ruff Majik is immensely excited to take the next step in furthering our career by bringing out physical copies. With the backing of Rock Freaks and Forbidden Place, we’re making a lifelong dream come true!”

Pre-order Seasons on CD or Cassette here and on Vinyl here.

Tracklisting:
1. Harpy 04:49
2. Gone down in the woods today 05:15
3. Breathing ghosts 04:20
4. Last of the witches 03:53
5. It flies at night 03:48
6. Hanami Sakura (and the ritual suicide) 04:26
7. The deep blue 08:04
8. Hammered are the gods 04:42
9. Birds stole my eyes 04:17
10. Tar black blood 03:15
11. Come all ye druids 05:04
12. Asleep in the leaves 14:10

Ruff Majik:
Johni Holiday – Guitar, vocals
Jimi Glass – Bass guitar
Benni Manchino – Drums

https://www.ruffmajik.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ruffmajik
https://twitter.com/ruff_majik
https://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik/
https://forbiddenplacerecords.bandcamp.com/album/ruff-majik-seasons
http://shop.rockfreaks.de/en/home/92-ruff-majik-seasons-coming-soon-.html

Ruff Majik, Seasons (2018)

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Ruff Majik Premiere “Come all Ye Druids” from New Album Seasons

Posted in audiObelisk on March 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik Christelle Duvenage Photography

Come this Spring/early Summer, Pretorian heavy psych trio Ruff Majik will embark on a European tour for the first time. They do so supporting their upcoming new album, Seasons, and in addition to a Sound of Liberation showcase on May 26 in Wiesbaden that also includes My Sleeping Karma and Colour Haze in the lineup — not too shabby — they’ll be appearing at Freak Valley 2018 in Germany and SonicBlast Moledo 2018 in Portugal. Clearly the plan is to get around.

Fair enough. Imagine Goatsnake jamming a blowout tapped on mushrooms while backpacking during a semester abroad and you might be somewhere near the swing and sneer of Ruff Majik‘s new streaming single, “Come all Ye Druids,” which is premiering below. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of hearing Seasons — which is out April 20 and may or may not bear the subtitle A Stag in the Leaves — in its entirety, but the South African trio three-piece have put out three prior “chapters” under the Seasons banner in last June’s Ruff Majik Come all ye druidsSeasons 1, Chapter 1: The Hare and the Hollow, last September’s Seasons 1, Chapter 2: A Finch in a Cherry Tree and last December’s Seasons 1, Chapter 3: A Dragon and His Hoard, so whether the impending Seasons is part of the same overarching storyline — i.e., if it’s “Chapter 4” — or some next step in the cycle, I couldn’t say, but the mystery only adds intrigue to the track itself, which as intimated above, brims with riffy and tripped-out groove.

The tones are thick but not immobile, and guitarist/vocalist Johni Holidayis right when he asserts below that the band is getting heavier. What they haven’t done, at least going by “Come all Ye Druids,” is abandon the spirit of spontaneity that comes from jam-based songcraft, and so whether it’s Holiday‘s riffs, the washing crash of drummer Ben Manchino or the air-pushing low end from bassist Jimmy Glass, the four-minute track wants nothing for momentum as it pushes its way through its drity, sludge-infused nod. The hook arrives over toms and the central riff picks back up even more infectious than when it left, the swagger of the verse at once dangerous and immersive. A fuzzed out so fights for dominance in the second half of the track, but it seems nothing can overcome the main riff, which takes hold again and seems to override everything else as the track fades just past the four-minute mark.

As to just how much of what Ruff Majik are doing on Seasons might be represented in “Come all Ye Druids,” I couldn’t say. Given how loose-swinging the single is, I’d believe you if you told me the record went just about anywhere. Take a listen below and see if you can guess. A quote from Holiday and PR wire info follows.

Please enjoy:

Johni Holiday on Seasons:

With this release, Ruff Majik decided to set sail into newer, sludgier directions. We decided long ago that we wouldn’t be that band that people would complain about, saying ‘they used to be heavier.’ Hell no, every time we bring out new music we want to move forward, become heavier, more intense. We still like to include bluesy bits, sure. But this song is made to be filthy, heavy, oily sludge ‘n’ roll. Next time we might do something a bit more doom again, who knows hahaha. All I know is that right now, Ruff Majik is becoming a groove machine, and we like it.

The band embark on their 1st European tour in June 2018 which sees them play Freak Valley Festival in Germany along with a host of club shows supporting the likes of Colour Haze, My Sleeping Karma and The Devil and the Almighty Blues. They’ll be back in Europe in August to play SonicBlast in Portugal.

RUFF MAJIK NEW POSTERRuff Majik live:
Support for The Devil and the Almighty Blues:
24 May, Stuttgart, Goldmarks
28 May, Munich, Feierwerk
29 May, Vienna, Arena
30 May, Leipzig, Werk 2

Supporting Colour Haze and My Sleeping Karma:
26 May, Wiesbaden, Schlachthoff
31 May, Freak Valley Festival, Netphen
2 June, Dresden, Beatpol (supporting Mars Red Sky)

In a small, secluded mining town in rural South Africa, three friends heard the call of the void, and spat fuzz back at it. Thus, Ruff Majik was formed, and the boys decided it was time to move to the city to spread their gospel of riff worship and sound sorcery.

Ruff Majik moved to Pretoria, South Africa, where they’ve become infamous for their lively shows and aggressive on-stage persona. With their brand of what they call “stoner rock / sludge ‘n roll” they move between slow grooves and breakneck speeds in the blink of an eye, with live shows being described as ‘whiplash inducing’.

The band surfaced in 2015 with the release of their first 6 track, The Bear. This got them lots of attention from reviewers all over the world. They quickly followed up with The Fox in 2016. In 2017 Ruff Majik released The Swan, The Hare and the Hollow, A Finch in a Cherry Tree and A Dragon and his Hoard, the latter three being part of upcoming full-length Seasons.

The members are Johni Holiday (guitar/vocals), Jimmy Glass (bass guitar) and Ben Manchino (drums).

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Ruff Majik on Twitter

Ruff Majik on Instagram

Ruff Majik on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Primitive Man, Black Lung & Nap, Zone Six, Spectral Haze, Cosmic Fall, Epitaph, Disastroid, Mastiff, Demons from the Dungeon Dimension, Liblikas

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

The final round of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review starts now. 60 reviews done. I think if this particular QR session proves anything it’s that come hell or high water, once it’s set, there’s no stopping this train. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but the site was down for half of last week and we’re still getting to 60 reviews from Monday to Monday. That’s not not impressive from where I sit, especially since I spent that downtime going out of my mind trying to get things up and running again while also trying to write posts that I didn’t even know if they were going to happen. But they happened — thanks again, Slevin and Behrang — and here we are. All is well and we can get back to normal hopefully for the rest of this week. Thanks for reading any of this if you did. Let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primitive Man, Caustic

primitive-man-caustic

Primitive Man’s Caustic is the concept of “heavy” taken to the superlative. It is a 12-track/77-minute onslaught for which no less than absolute hyperbole will suffice. In following-up their 2013 Relapse Records debut, Scorn (review here), a series of splits and 2015’s Home is Where the Hatred Is EP (review here), the Denver trio reign in terror as they make Caustic live up to its name in the crushing tones, feedback of and slow churn of “My Will,” “Commerce” “Tepid,” and “Sugar Hole,” the consuming wave of “Victim,” the blastbeating death assault of “Sterility,” and the biting atmospherics of harsh interludes “Caustic,” “Ash” and “The Weight,” which preface the nine minutes of vague noise that close on “Absolutes,” following the grueling slaughter of “Disfigured” and the rightfully-named 12-minute “Inevitable,” which seems even slower and more weighted somehow than everything before it. On the sheer level of heft for that song alone, it’s time to start thinking about Primitive Man among the heaviest bands in the world. I’m serious. Caustic is an overwhelming masterwork of unbridled extremity, and with it, Primitive Man set a new standard both for themselves and for anyone else who’d dare to try to live up to it in their wake.

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Black Lung & Nap, Split

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A heavy blues trio from Baltimore and a progressive boogie outfit from Oldenburg, Germany, might seem like an odd pairing, but by the time the 25 minutes of Black Lung and Nap’s split 12” platter (on Noisolution) are up, the release has come to make its own peculiar kind of sense. In following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here), Black Lung present two new songs in “Strange Seeds” and “Use this Stone” as well we the prior-issued Marvin Gaye cover “Inner City Blues” done in collaboration with rapper Eze Jackson, where Nap answer their debut album, Villa (review here), with the shuffle-into-psychedelia of “Djinn,” the spacious, patient rollout of the airy guitars in “Vorlaut” and the final thrust of “Teer.” Each of the two acts establishes a context for itself quickly – Black Lung brazenly defying theirs in the shift from “Use this Stone” to “Inner City Blues”; Nap expanding between “Djinn” and “Vorlaut” – and though one wouldn’t be likely to mistake one group for the other, their disparate sounds don’t at all hinder the ability of either group to make an impression during their brief time.

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Zone Six, Zone Six

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Originally issued in 1998 via Early Birds Records with the lineup of bassist/synthesis/Mellotronist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, guitarist Hans-Peter Ringholz, drummer/keyboardist Claus Bühler and vocalist Jodi Barry, the self-titled debut from German space/krautrock explorationists Zone Six sees something of a redux via Sulatron Records to mark the 20th anniversary of the band’s founding. Eight minutes shorter than the original edition at 51 minutes, the new version whittles down the original 13-track presentation to two vinyl sides – titles: “Side A” (27:04) and “Side B” (24:39) – and drops the vocal tracks entirely to make it a completely instrumental release. That’s a not-insignificant change, of course, but let there be no doubt that it works in terms of highlighting the flow, which as it transitions between what used to be one song and another loses not one step and instead simply becomes an engrossing and multifaceted jam. This is truer perhaps to the band Zone Six have become – if you missed their 2015 full-length Love Monster (review here), it was glorious and it’s not too late to catch up – than the band they started out as, but Zone Six have found a way to make an old release new again, and new Zone Six is never anything to complain about, whatever the occasion.

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Spectral Haze, Turning Electric

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Space rock warriors Spectral Haze return after three years in the Gamma Quadrant with Turning Electric via Totem Cat Records, a six-song sophomore outing behind 2014’s I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains (review here) that quickly enters a wormhole of Hawkwindian thrust on opener “The Dawn of the Falcon” – perhaps that’s what’s represented on the glorious Adam Burke cover art – and takes a winding but directed course deeper and deeper into interstellar realms for its duration of what on earth is only six songs and 33 minutes. Each of the intended two vinyl sides boasts a longer track, be it “Cathexis/Mask of Transformation” on side A or “They Live” on side B, but whether it’s in those or shorter rocket boosters like the title-track, “Ajaghandi” or the aforementioned leadoff, the Oslo-based four-piece keep it dreamy and kosmiche even unto the doomlier roll of closer “Master Sorcerer,” a collection of final psychedelic proclamations that cuts off quickly at the end as though breaking a transmission from the heart of the galaxy itself. Heck of a destination, and getting there’s a blast, too.

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Cosmic Fall, Jams for Free

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Kind of a bummer how Jams for Free came about, but for the reassurance that Berlin heavy psych improvisationalists Cosmic Fall will keep going after what seems to have been an unceremonious split with now-ex-guitarist/vocalist Mathias, I’ll take it. With two new explorations, bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel introduce new guitarist Martin, and those worried they might lose the funk of their original incarnation should have their fears duly allayed by “A Calmer Sphere” (12:19) and “The Great Comet” (8:10), which begin a new era of Cosmic Fall after the remaining founders were forced to stop selling their prior works. If there’s anger or catharsis being channeled in Jams for Free, though, it comes through as fluidity and serene heavy psych, and with the resonant live-in-studio vibe, Cosmic Fall essentially seem to be picking up where they left off. With Martin making a distinguishing impression in the soloing of “A Calmer Sphere”’s second half particularly, the future continues to look bright for the German asteroid riders. Right on, guys. Keep jamming.

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Epitaph, Claws

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Doomers of Verona Epitaph trace their origins back some 30 years, but Claws (on High Roller Records) is just their second long-player behind 2014’s Crawling out of the Crypt. Matters not. Theirs is the doom of ages one way or the other, presented in this collection of five songs in traditional fashion with an edge of the Italian bizarrist movement (think early Death SS) and, from the “Neon Knights”-style riff of “Gossamer Claws” to the “After All (The Dead)”/”Falling off the Edge of the World”-style dramaturge of “Wicked Lady,” the nods to ‘80s and early-‘90s Black Sabbath are manifold and executed with what sounds like a genuine love for that era of the band and classic metal in general. Hard to fault Epitaph that influence, particularly as they bring it to bear in the guttural riffly chug of centerpiece “Sizigia,” tonally as much as in the form of what’s actually being played. As a mission, the homage is perhaps a bit single-minded, but as they continue to build their own legacy in these classic sounds, it’s impossible to say Epitaph’s collective heart isn’t in the right place.

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Disastroid, Screen

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The nine songs of Disastroid’s fourth self-released LP, Screen, are drawn together by a songwriting prowess that’s better heard than described and by a heft of tone that, especially on stompers like “Dinosaur” early and “Coyote” later on, proves likewise. Is the point of this review, then, that you should listen to the album? Yuppers. At a crisp 35 minutes, Screen finds the Bay Area trio willfully nestled someplace between heavy rock riffing, noise crunch, punk and metal, and they fly this refusal to commit to one style over another no less proudly than they do the hook of “Getting in the Way” or “I Didn’t Kill Myself,” which along with the push of “Choke the Falcon” and the Melvinsian “Clinical Perfection” make up a series of short burst impressions contrasted by the longer “Screen” and “New Day” at the outset and the six-minute finale “Gunslinger,” though wherever Disastroid seem to go, they bring a current of memorable craft with them, making an otherwise purposefully bumpy ride smooth and a chaos-fueled joy to undertake.

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Mastiff, Bork

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Ultimately, bludgeon-ready UK five-piece Mastiff might owe as much to grind as they do to doom or sludge – at least if “Nil by Mouth” has anything to say about it – but more than loyalty to any subgenre or other, the Hull unit’s 25-minute Bork full-length (released on CD by APF Records) is interested in presenting an extreme vision of sonic heft. Brutal pummel infects the rolling chorus of “Everything Equals Death” and the initial chug of “Tumour” alike, and where opener “Agony” was content to blast out its cacophony in fury of tempo as much as weight, as they settle in for the mosh-ready six minutes of closer “Eternal Regret,” Mastiff seem to have dug out a position between lumbering doom and early ‘00s deathcore, a telltale breakdown capping Bork in grooving and familiar fashion. Their intensity might prove a distinguishing factor over the longer term, though, and they certainly have plenty enough of it to go around.

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Demons from the Dungeon Dimension, An Organic Mythology

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The righteously-monikered Demons from the Dungeon Dimension made a striking and individualized – and bizarre – impression in 2016 with the There was Ogres EP (discussed here), a follow-up to the debut full-length, As the Crow Flies, released just weeks earlier. With the new single An Organic Mythology and the five-minute, raw-recorded track of the same name, the Durban, South Africa-based project is laid to rest. A burly opening and thickened distortion lead to a pushing verse with dry vocals over top – sounding very much like a home-recorded demo outright and not trying to be anything else – and soon enough the track shifts into a spoken-word-dissertation over an instrumental build that carries it into its final minute, at which point the verse kicks back in to end. As with the prior EP, which topped 25 minutes, the vibe is willfully strange throughout “An Organic Mythology,” and if this is indeed the last we’ll hear from Demons from the Dungeon Dimension (doesn’t it just sound like something TOR Books would put out?), somehow it seems right we live in an age where the material can reside in the digital ether, waiting to be stumbled on by curious parties soon to be blindsided by what they hear.

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Liblikas, Unholy Moly

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From the initial semi-gothic vibes from vocalist Oliver Aunver to the progressive fuzz rock that ensues on opener “Holy Underground,” Estonian five-piece Liblikas seem to specialize in the unexpected on their second full-length, Unholy Moly. Aunver, guitarists Temo Saarna (also vocals) and Henrik Harak, bassist Joosep Käsper and drummer/backing vocalist Mihkel Rebane, oversee a brisk 45-minute run across eight tracks of genre-spanning grooves, from the chugging almost-doom of “Highest Hound” to the semi-folk experimentalist interlude “Fugue Yeah! (Diary Pt. II),” which follows “Dear Diary, Yeah!” a track that starts out with what might be a Japanese-language sample and psychedelic unfolding to more cohesive, harmony-topped prog rock bounce before the fuzz emerges and meets with forward vocals and effective interplay of acoustics in the chorus. Why yes, there is a six-minute song called “Pornolord” – funny you should ask. It appears before the oud-laced “Ol’ Slime” and nine-minute closer “Keezo,” which embraces the difficult task of summing up the weirdo intensity that’s been on display throughout Liblikas’ songwriting all along, and with wispy guitar leading to a big, noisy finish, succeeds outright in doing so.

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Demons from the Dungeon Dimension Release There was Ogres EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

There are two tracks on South African doomers Demons from the Dungeon Dimension‘s new EP, There was Ogres. One is the titular cut, at a slow-unfolding 21 minutes, and the other is a shorter acoustic take on the same track. The EP follows just weeks behind what seems to have been the band’s full-length debut, As the Crow Flies, though information is pretty sparse on the self-recording and releasing Durban unit’s origins and makeup. Nonetheless, the atmosphere on the track is suitably creeper and the trad-doom inflection of the grammatically-suspect “There was Ogres” comes with an edge of the aesthetically bizarre that, particularly as a free download, easily justifies the investment of time, vocals seeming to nod at Alice Cooper without actually taking too much from him, or anyone else, for that matter.

Here there be ogres:

demons from the dungeon dimension there was ogres

THERE WAS OGRES. The new, free EP from South African doom band Demons From the Dungeon Dimension available, FOR FREE, here: https://demonsfromthedungeondimension.bandcamp.com/album/there-was-ogres

A purveyor of what I have dubbed “Hillbilly Doom”, There Was Ogres consists of a 21 minute long title track, and a seven minute long acoustic version. Incredible artwork by the immensely talented Geoffrey Smuts which truly captures the overall atmosphere and lyrical content of the music.

The sound is quite different from the debut, “As the Crow Flies”, with much tighter and clearer drums, fuller bass, and a completely different, jangly guitar tone. It does however still stick to a lo-fi, DIY aesthetic.

The guitars are very much so inspired by the playing of Mark Ribot, especially his performance on the Tom Waits album “Real Gone” (check out the song “Hoist That Rag” for an example), while the guitar tone is akin to that used by Queens of the Stone Age on their album “Era Vulgaris.”

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Demons from the Dungeon Dimension, There was Ogres (2016)

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Friday Full-Length: Suck, Time to Suck

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Suck, Time to Suck (1971)

All told, Suck were a band for less than a year. Obviously they were hoping someone would take notice of them — their name and album title cloying at controversy — but I guess it didn’t work out. Time to Suck was issued in 1971, and then where there was a band, there wasn’t a band. That’s how it goes sometimes. It couldn’t have been easy to play heavy rock in Johannesburg, South Africa, without the interwebs for distribution. As I understand it, the 2009 reissue of Time to Suck was also its first official release in the US. They cover both King Crimson — giving “21st Century Schizoid Man” a good dirtying up — and Black Sabbath, so if nothing else, they had their ears to the ground. Couldn’t have been so many people on top of “War Pigs” as to cover it on a studio release the same year it first came out.

Well no, this week wasn’t so mind-bogglingly terrible, thank you for asking. Happy to report that I didn’t lose any more jobs. I did get a brushoff from a bar owner when I inquired about buying his place, but it was hardly the same kind of burn as watching half my already-plenty-meager income go down the toilet in the course of an email. Other than that, a few resumes sent out, a few non-responses, and me, just plugging away because what the hell else can I do? Tonight I cooked sausages. That always helps.

Thanks to everyone who downloaded the podcast this week or otherwise listened to it, shared the link, and so on, and thanks to everyone in general for reading. I’m really happy with where this site is at right now and I’m enjoying the writing and putting the time into it. Other than my marriage, I think I can safely say this is the most rewarding endeavor I’ve ever undertaken. So yes, thanks again.

Next week, reviews of Mansion and the new Trippy Wicked EP, and I’m gonna try my damnedest to get that Vista Chino interview with Brant Bjork up. It was a good one, him talking about the desert and spirituality and whatnot. I dug it, anyway. That record is good, and I’m pretty sure it’s out now. If you haven’t given it one yet, it deserves a fair chance, however you feel about the whole Kyuss reunion thing. You’ll either dig it or you won’t, but it seems better to me to at least not like something for what it is rather than how it came about. Easier said than done sometimes, I know it well.

Might also go see that Fistula and Nightstick show in Allston on Monday on that tour that was just posted. That would probably be the sludgiest show I’ve seen in a while, but sounds like a good way to spend Labor Day, blow out my ears before the week actually starts. Could be worse.

Whatever you’re up to on this long weekend (I may or may not post on Monday, we’ll see), I hope you have a great and safe time.

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