Quarterly Review: Eagle Twin, Wight, Sundrifter, Holy Mushroom, Iron and Stone, Black Capricorn, Owl Maker, Troll, Malditos, The Freak Folk of Mangrovia

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

I’m pretty sure this Quarterly Review — life eater that it is — is going to wind up being six days long. That means next Monday look for sixth installment, another batch of 10 records, which were not hard to come by among everything that’s come in lately for review. I do my best to keep up, often to little avail — some random act’s Bandcamp page starts trending and all of a sudden they’re the best band ever, which hey, they’re probably not and that’s okay too. Anyhowzer, I’m trying is the point. Hopefully another 10 records added into this Quarterly Review underscores that notion.

More coffee. More albums. Let’s rock.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn)

eagle twin the thundering heard songs of hoof and horn

Consuming tones, throat-sung blues, a wash of lumbering doom – yes, it’s quite a first three minutes on Eagle Twin’s The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn). Released by Southern Lord, it’s the Salt Lake City duo’s first outing since 2012’s The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (discussed here), which arrived three years after their 2009 debut, The Unkindness of Crows (review here). Once again, the four-song outing finds guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley and drummer Tyler Smith exploring the natural order and the natural world the 11-minute “Quanah un Rama” and the 14-minute “Antlers of Lightning” bookend “Elk Wolfv Hymn” (8:22) and album highlight “Heavy Hood” (7:21), creating an ever-more immersive and grit-laden flow across the album’s span. It’s hard to know if Densley and Smith are the hunters or the hunted here, but the tones are massive enough to make YOB blush, the rhythms are hypnotic and the use they’re both put to is still unlike anything else out there, ending after the chaos and assault of low end on “Antlers of Lightning” with a moment of contemplative guitar lead, as if to remind us of our solitary place in imagining ourselves at the top of the food chain.

Eagle Twin on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion

wight fusion rock invasion

One wonders what it might’ve been like to see Wight on the 2015 tour on which the Bilocation Records-issued vinyl-only Fusion Rock Invasion: Live Over Europe was captured. Still a year out from releasing their third album, Love is Not Only What You Know (review here), the former trio had already become a four-piece with guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist René Hofmann, bassist Peter-Philipp Schierhorn and drummer Thomas Kurek bringing in percussionist Steffen Kirchpfening and already undertaken the funkier aesthetic turn that LP would represent coming off of 2012’s Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here). At least I’d think it would be something of a surprise as the band hit into “Helicopter Mama” and “The Muse & the Mule” and “Kelele,” which comprise side A of Fusion Rock Invasion, but by all appearances listening to the crowd response between songs, they seem into it. Who could argue? Wight’s groove in those songs as well as the older “Master of Nuggets” and Love is Not Only What You Know finale “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation” on side B, are infectious in their grooves and the soul put into them is genuine and unmistakable. One more reason I wouldn’t have minded being there, I suppose.

Wight on Thee Facebooks

Wight at Bilocation Records

 

Sundrifer, Visitations

sundrifter visitations

Name your bet someone picks up Sundrifter’s Visitations for a proper release. The Boston three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Craig Peura, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan impress in performance, aesthetic and craft across the nine songs and 48 minute of their for-now-self-released debut long-player, and whether it’s Queenan dipping into blastbeats on “Targeted” or Gaughran’s rumble on the Soundgarden-gone-doom “Fire in the Sky” or the fuzz that leads the charge on the Queens of the Stone Age-style “Hammerburn,” Peura doing a decent Josh Homme along the way, each member proves to add something to a whole greater than the sum of its parts and that is able to take familiar elements and use them to hone an individualized atmosphere. In the wake of melodically engaged Boston acts like Gozu, Sundrifter would seem to be a focused newcomer with a solidified mindset of who they are as a group. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised either if they kept growing their sound. Something about the psychedelic distance in “Fire in the Sky” and “I Want to Leave,” says there’s forward movement yet to be had.

Sundrifter on Thee Facebooks

Sundrifter on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Moon

holy mushroom moon

Serenity and presence. There’s no shortage of either on the second Holy Mushroom full-length, Moon. Incorporating the prior-issued digital single “Éufrates,” the five-track/43-minute excursion is rife with natural-toned psychedelic resonance, marked out by organ/piano working alongside the guitar (see “Birdwax Blues”), as well as guest contributions of double bass and saxophone, and other sundry moments of depth-creating flourish. Their trance-effect is palpable, and Moon is an easy album to get lost in, especially as the Spanish three-piece make their way through 12:35 centerpiece “The Preacher,” moving from a dreamy opening line of guitar into funk-laden heft that only pushes forward with Hendrixian abandon through a massive jam before rounding out sweetly with vocals over background organ and sweetly-strummed guitar. “Éufrates” would seem to start the same way, but varies the structure in more of a back and forth format before closer “Grand Finale in the Blind Desert” brings both Holy Mushroom’s most patient execution and their most vibrant jam (sax included), essentially building from the one into the other to end the album in energetic fashion. To say it works for them would be underselling it.

Holy Mushroom on Thee Facebooks

Holy Mushroom on Bandcamp

 

Iron and Stone, Petrichor

iron and stone petrichor

A debut long-player of no-pretense, no-nonsense sludge-infused doom, Petrichor (on Backbite Records) shows German five-piece Iron and Stone as ready to follow where the riff will lead them. The late 2017 album is a solidly-delivered 10 tracks and 43 minutes that strikes mostly in monochrome intent, save perhaps for the acoustic “Interlude” near the midpoint. Their 2015 EP, Old Man’s Doom (review here), was similarly upfront in its purposes, but carrying across a full-length – especially a debut – is a different beast from a shorter outing. Their heavier push on “Monolith” is welcome and the break-then-chug of “Deserts” does plenty to satisfy, but Petrichor might require a couple concerted listens to really sink in on its audience, though as I’ve said time and again, if you can’t handle repetition, you can’t handle doom. Iron and Stone effectively balance traditional doom and rawer sludge groove, playing fluidly to whichever suits their purposes at a given moment.

Iron and Stone on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records webstore

 

Black Capricorn, Omega

black capricorn omega

Sardinian doom cult Black Capricorn push well beyond the limits of the manageable with their 95-minute fourth album, Omega (released Nov. 2017 on Stone Stallion Rex), and that’s clearly the idea. The three-piece of bassist Virginia, drummer Rakela and guitarist/vocalist Kjxu offer grim ambience and tempos that sound slow regardless of their actual speed. That said, the 17-minute “Antartide” is an accomplishment as regards crawl. After a sweetly melancholic opening of guitar, it lurches and lumbers out its miserable heft until a return to that intro bookends. Even shorter tracks like “Flower of Revelation” or “Stars of Orion” hold firm to the tenet of plod, and though the results are obviously a lot to take in, the idea that it should be a slog seems all the more appropriate to Black Capricorn’s style. The band, which hits the decade mark in 2018, churn out one last bit of wretchedness in the nine-minute closing title-track before giving way to an acoustic finish, as if to remind that Omega’s sorrows are conveyed as much through atmosphere as actual sonic heft.

Black Capricorn on Thee Facebooks

Stone Stallion Rex website

 

Owl Maker, Paths of the Slain

owl maker paths of the slain

Guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli, also of malevolent doomers Vestal Claret, leads the new trio Owl Maker, and in the company of bassist Jessie May and drummer Chris Anderson, he embarks on a heavy rock push of six tracks with the debut EP, Paths of the Slain, still holding to some elements of metal, whether it’s the double-kick in opener “Ride with Aileen” or the backing vocals and guitar solo of the subsequent “99.” Songwriting is clearheaded across the EP’s 23 minutes, and in terms of first impressions, “Mashiara” shows a focus on melody that retains a metallic poise without losing its riff-driven edge. The balance shifts throughout “Freya’s Chariot” and the all-go “Witches,” the latter of which touches on black metal in its first half before turning on a dime to mid-paced heavy rock, and closer “Lady Stoneheart” nods in its back end to NWOBHM gallop, as Owl Maker seem to tip their audience to the fact that they’re just getting started on their exploration of the many interpretations of heavy.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Troll, Troll

troll troll

When one considers the multiple connotations of the word, Portland’s Troll are definitely going more for “lives under a bridge” than “meddling in elections” when it comes to their sound. Their self-titled debut EP, issued in 2017 before being picked up by respected purveyor Shadow Kingdom Records for a 2018 CD/tape release, is a highlight offering of classic-style doom worthy of Orodruin and Pilgrim comparisons and headlined by the vocal performance of John, who carries songs like opener “The Summoning” and the later, more swinging “Infinite Death” in a manner impressive in both frontman presence and melodic range. His work is only bolstered by the riffs of guitarist Lou and the consistent groove held together by bassist Wayne and drummer Ryan, whose drive in centerpiece “An Eternal Haunting” is neither overdone nor incongruous with the wall its tempo hits, and who meld shuffle and plod on closer “Savage Thunder” with naturalist ease. Potential abounds, and they reportedly already have new material in the works, so all the better.

Troll on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Malditos, II

malditos ii
Some bands, you just have to accept the fact that they’re on a different wavelength and that’s all there is to it. Magma. Master Musicians of Bukkake. Circle. Enter Oakland, California’s Malditos, whose sophomore outing, II: La Réve, arrives via Svart Records. From bizarre psychedelic chants to ritualized repetitions that seems to be daring you to play them backwards on your turntable, the spiritual freakout to songs like “Azadeh” and the penultimate “Momen” is palpable. Reach out and touch it and it will ripple like water in front of you. A sense of space is filled with elements alternatingly horrifying and engrossing, and after they make their way through “Le Passage” and centerpiece “Disparu” and wind up in the title-track to close out, the journey to the final wash of noise gives the distinct impression that for neither the listener nor the band is there any coming back. High order head trippery. Will simply be too much for some, will gloriously expand the minds of others.

Malditos on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records webstore

 

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach

the freak folk of mangrovia sonic meditations live at palach

I don’t know how much improvisation is a factor in the sound of The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, but the Croation collective bring an ultra-organic presence to their perhaps-debut release, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach. The group, which seems also to have gone under the names Marko Mushan & the Mangrovian Orchestra and The Free Folk of Mangrovia, was opening for Acid Mothers Temple that night, and Sonic Meditations mostly breaks down into parts – “Sonic Meditation I,” “II,” “III” and “IV” – before the band closes out with “’Mangrovian Summer,” all the while with The Freak Folk of Mangrovia making their way through progressive dreamscapes, dripping with effects and spacious enough to house an entire Mangrovian village, however big that might be. It is otherworldly and jazzy and moves with such fluidity that the entire “Sonic Meditation” becomes one overarching piece, complemented by the closing “Mangrovian Summer,” which ebbs and flows through louder, more active jamming before capping in a wash of noise.

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Thee Facebooks

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Bandcamp

 

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Friday Full-Length: Khanate, Things Viral

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

If Khanate were still together today, you’d call them a supergroup. Hell, maybe they were a supergroup 15 years ago when they released their second album, Things Viral, on Southern Lord. Or maybe it’s this record’s sheer extremity that would make them so. Or maybe who gives a shit? Like about anything? Because it’s Khanate, and if there was ever anything that was going to completely level the playing field in terms of showing you how utterly meaningless everything you say and do — or have said or done, or will ever say and do — is, it’s this band. They are sonic nihilism brought to life.

Or death, since it’s hard not to listen to the original four tracks and unmanageable hour-long stretch of Things Viral and not find your mind awash in mental images of decay. With minimliast notes from guitarist Stephen O’Malley (of SunnO))) and many, many others), low-rumble from bassist James Plotkin (as in “mastered by,” which more than half the records your hear this year probably will have been), the scorched poetry of vocalist Alan Dubin (ex-OLD, currently of Gnaw) and accentuating thud of drummer Tim Wyskida (Blind Idiot God), Khanate were like nothing else even in the realm of drone. What was truly horrifying about their sound, what really haunted, was the contradiction in that what sounded so much like chaos in the second half of the 19-minute opener “Commuted” or its fuller-crushing 19-minute follow-up, “Fields,” could invariably not be chaos. Things Viral, which didn’t give away its title line until closer “Too Close Enough to Touch,” was methodical — premeditated. Not only because as the follow-up to Khanate‘s 2001 self-titled debut, the New York four-piece had an idea of where they were headed sound-wise, but even in its own crafting, it was thoughtfully constructed, brought to bear to be as aurally flaying as possible, and the abrasion conjured throughout its four tracks — the shortest of which, the penultimate “Dead” stands at 9:28 — was not a crime of passion. It was pure intent.

Given the bleakness, the immersiveness, the sheer swallow-you effect that Things Viral has even a decade and a half after its initial release, this is utterly staggering to realize. New bands get together every hour on the hour and say, “We’re going to be the heaviest thing in the world.” Most of the time it doesn’t work out. With Khanate, the mission seems to have been to haunt their listeners like some residue of trauma pushed into the subconscious. I think one of the most powerful moments on the album is in the ending of “Dead.” The final guitar ringout happens marked by a crash around the 8:30 mark and the last minute of the song is given to eerie whispering from Dubin and off-time drum hits from Wyskida that make for the most minimal and also the most terrifying moment on Things Viral as amps crackle in the background. The whole album’s use of empty space is something I’ve never heard matched in any form of doom or drone. Khanate were unafraid not only to create tension through spacing out the excruciatingly slow paces of “Commuted,” “Fields,” “Dead” and the abrasive, high-pitched scree of “Too Close Enough to Touch,” but over the course of the 59 minutes, there’s impact from emptiness as much as fullness, and the band proves no less extreme in this manner than they are in any (every) other.

Every bit worthy of hyperbole, Things Viral is the kind of record that might’ve proven more influential if there was any chance whatsoever anyone else could live up to its standard of malevolence and misanthropy. From the grueling hum and noise that starts “Commuted” — where the band just makes you wait for the punishment to begin — to the cacophonous final stretch of “Too Close Enough to Touch,” Khanate seemed to tap into an end point of pushing an idea as far as it could possibly go. It wasn’t about being dark, or being heavy at least in the way one traditionally thinks about either. But it was a conveyance of fear, paranoia, trust-betrayed, self-loathing and thoughtful violence that remains unmatched to this day. Khanate would of course go on to offer a number of other releases, from limited merch-table live outings to the 2005 Capture and Release EP to their third and final full-length, 2009’s Clean Hands Go Foul, and while I’m not about to take anything away from their swansong, which rounded out with the half-hour-long “Every God Damn Thing,” or that prior EP, Things Viral would continue to fester in the mind not only as a representation of the horrors of the age in which it was created — wars just beginning that still continue today; atrocities all around us large, small and bloody — but of the inward rotting we experience as a result of these things without even realizing it.

The version of Things Viral streaming above is Hydra Head‘s 2016 reissue. It has bonus tracks and swaps the running order a bit of the original core four songs, but it’s enough that you’ll get the point, to be sure.

I’d say I hope you enjoy, as is my custom, but that’s not really the idea here. Just absorb it, maybe close your eyes and see where its associations take you.

Good luck.

This week was a blur. Up early, pounding out this and that, trying to get as much done as possible while keeping appointments — I’m due at the dentist shortly — and trying to keep my head on tight while still undergoing this eating disorder treatment. Which is bullshit. I feel no healthier than I felt when I was starving myself and eating nothing but protein shakes. Don’t get me wrong, food is delicious — I ate like six oranges yesterday; it was fucking hilarious — but it’s a total waste of my time. My body aches all over. I’ve put on 50 pounds in like a month and much of that is water I’m retaining because who the hell knows why. My feet and legs are so swollen it hurts to walk. Miserable bastard then, miserable bastard now. I’d rather be hungry and dying. Do I mean that? If that’s the situation I was in before, then yes.

Nobody knows what the fuck “healthy” means anyway.

I’ve been overweight my whole life. Shit, I’m overweight now. My whole life. It’s affected my every single day. I feel eyes staring at me, people judging me like I just got back from the Wendy’s drive-thru or like I mainline Dunkin Donuts or some shit. I turn down bands who offer to send me t-shirts because I’m embarrassed to ask for a 2XL. It’s fucking miserable, and it’s been miserable for nearly the entirety of my 36-plus years on this planet. I mean that. Every fucking day. During this process, starving myself as I allegedly was, remaking my body, I was underweight for the first time in my life. Why can I be that? For a while? Why? Why can’t I do that? What if it kills me? Who’s not better off without me in their lives? The Patient Mrs.? The baby? My family? There’s no one around me to whom I’ve ever been anything but a burden. Even now. I don’t work. I don’t contribute. I wake up early and blog about music, shouting into an abyss — and yeah, it’s awfully nice when someone sends a nice comment or a note saying they appreciate that, but even that’s more like, “I found this band, awesome!” And yeah man, that band is awesome. I don’t feel like I helped that process of connection. I just fucking feel empty.

Except for all that fluid I’m retaining. Ha. Seriously, it’s so much that it’s pulling my skin taut on my calves and thighs. My shoes fit me again, so something must be improving, but still. Long way to go, I guess.

Which is what the nutritionist tells me. Long way to go. It takes time. It’s a process. It’s complicated. Go see this other doctor who’s going to draw more blood and agree with me because your doctor doesn’t.

I was better off before.

My sister had bariatric surgery maybe two years ago now. She’s killing it. I should’ve done that. Stupid.

Wow.

Sorry. I guess that’s how you end up closing out a week with Khanate.

But hey, the first spring training games are on today, so it’s baseball time. Hopefully I’m back from the dentist to see it start. And I got to do a track premiere for the new Monster Magnet, which was awesome. So, you know, strikes and gutters. Some you win, some you lose.

Here’s what’s on tap for next week, subject to change as always:

Mon.: Messa review/video premiere; new Bismut video.
Tue.: Final installment of the Nebula interview/stream series, covering Dos EPs.
Wed.: Blackwater Holylight review/track premiere; Dandy Brown video.
Thu.: Sinistro track-by-track.
Fri.: Merlin review.

Jammed as it is but I’m sure more will come along as well, like all of a sudden today there was an announcement for the Psycho Las Vegas 2018 lineup. That’s how these things happen. One can only try to keep up as best as possible.

Have a great and safe weekend. If you need me I’ll be getting a crown put on, then watching baseball and cooking a spaghetti squash to go with pesto and chicken for dinner, because that’s how I do these days, apparently.

Please check out the forum and radio stream. And buy my book. I don’t think there are that many left.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Buy my book

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Weedeater Announce Tour Playing God Luck and Good Speed in Full

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

weedeater

Am I wrong, or is it time to start thinking of Weedeater as a straight-up blues band? I know they’re heavy and sludgy as hell, but in terms of their ethic of just getting on the road and apparently being there forever, proffering tunes with the ultimate lack of pretense, and doing their thing regardless of in whatever direction the world around them might be spinning — not to mention all that downtrodden whathaveyou — more and more they just seem like blues to me. Already confirmed for Roadburn 2018, Desertfest London 2018, Desertfest Berlin 2018 and Maryland Doom Fest 2018, the North Carolina trio hit the road next month playing 2007’s God Luck and Good Speed in full.

Why that record? Well, it was kind of a breakthrough for them when Southern Lord put it out in 2007, it’s got a catchy title, and hell, maybe after three solid years they just got bored of continuing to push 2015’s Season of Mist debut Goliathan (review here). Look, sometimes you need to change things up. It helps fight the blues.

From the PR wire:

weedeater god luck good speed tour poster

WEEDEATER announce ‘God Luck an Good Speed’ US tour

Notorious southern metal outfit WEEDEATER have announced a ‘God Luck and Good Speed” US tour that will kick off on Mar. 15. WEEDEATER will perform their classic album ‘God Luck and Good Speed’ in its entirety for the first time. A full list of confirmed tour dates can be found below:

‘God Luck and Good Speed’ was the first full-length WEEDEATER recorded with long-time engineer Steve Albini (NIRVANA, HIGH ON FIRE, PJ HARVEY) and was originally released on July 31, 2007.

WEEDEATER was formed by front-man/bassist “Dixie” Dave Collins. Following the release of their 2001 debut ‘…And Justice For Y’All’, WEEDEATER immediately established themselves as a force in the U.S. tour circuit and quickly gained notoriety in the American metal scene. In the time since, the band have released three critically-acclaimed albums: ‘Sixteen Tons’ (2002), ‘God Luck And Good Speed’ (2007), and ‘Jason… The Dragon’ (2011), and toured around the world with the likes of DOWN, SAINT VITUS, HIGH ON FIRE, and THE MELVINS, HANK III, EARTH, SUNN O))) and more. The band has played prestigious festivals such as Maryland Deathfest, Hopscotch Festival, Stoned From The Underground, Asymmetry Festival, Roadburn Festival, Hellfest, and many more.

WEEDEATER TOUR DATES
All dates w/ HYBORIAN and BASK
Mar. 15 Atlanta, GA @ Basement
Mar. 16 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
Mar. 17 Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Mar. 18 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
Mar. 19 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Mar. 21 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East
Mar. 22 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
Mar. 23 Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo
Mar. 24 Lansing, MI @ Mac’s Bar
Mar. 25 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
Mar. 27 Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlies
Mar. 28 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Mar. 29 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
Mar. 30 Memphis, TN @ Hi-Tone
Mar. 31 Little Rock, AR @ Whitewater
Apr. 1 New Orleans, LA @ Santos Bar
Apr. 2 Jacksonville FL @ Jack Rabbits
Apr. 3 Spartanburg, SC @ Ground Zero

https://www.facebook.com/weedmetal/
https://weedeater.bandcamp.com/album/goliathan
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
http://www.season-of-mist.com/

Weedeater, God Luck and Good Speed (2007)

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Eagle Twin Announce The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn) Due March 30

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Eagle Twin photo by Russel Daniels

It says something about Utah two-piece Eagle Twin that even more than half a decade after the release of their last full-length, The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (discussed here), which came out in 2012, they require next to no introduction. The Salt Lake City duo, who debuted in 2009 with The Unkindness of Crows (review here) will issue their third long-player, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn), on March 30 via Southern Lord. No audio as yet — there are only four tracks on the thing, so I suspect it’ll be a teaser before a quarter of the album suddenly shows up somewhere, but if you needed another reason to look forward to the coming of Spring, this should do nicely anyhow.

The PR wire brings tales of man’s interaction with the natural world

eagle twin the thundering heard

EAGLE TWIN: Utah Duo Prepares To Issue The Thundering Heard (Songs Of Hoof And Horn) Via Southern Lord In March; Artwork And Track Listing Released

Salt Lake City-based duo EAGLE TWIN will release their long-awaited third LP, The Thundering Heard (Songs Of Hoof And Horn), on March 30th via Southern Lord.

EAGLE TWIN’s commanding sound delivers like a tectonic force, where doom and blues collide. Gentry Densley’s dominating low-end vocal tone is like an instrument in itself, rumbling alongside towering riffs, and Tyler Smith’s powerful rhythmic propulsion. It is a compelling combination, particularly when you add melodious bluesy romp to the equation.

Equally prevailing are the stories that shape EAGLE TWIN’s musical output, drawing upon folklore, and also strongly informed by recent happenings in the world. Observing our relationship to nature, and the band’s own surroundings in the dead salt seas of Utah are themes that feature frequently across their musical canon. The Thundering Heard continues where the previous album The Feather Tipped The Serpent’s Scale ended.

In the band’s own words, “As the great snake grew giant fractal antlers of snakes and turned in upon itself creating a new world, the mountains rise, and the antlers stab through like trees across the landscape. The record begins with the hoofed and horned animals of our world running from mountains and forests on fire. Eerily harkening to the recent events in California and the massive devastation by fire across the land.”

Southern Lord will release The Thundering Heard on LP, CD, and digital formats on March 30th. Audio previews, preorder info, tour dates, and more on the album to follow in the weeks ahead.

The Thundering Heard (Songs Of Hoof And Horn) Track Listing:
1. Quanah Un Rama
2. Elk Wolfv Hymn
3. Heavy Hoof
4. Antlers Of Lightning

EAGLE TWIN:
Gentry Densley – guitar/vocals
Tyler Smith – drums

https://eagletwin.com
https://www.facebook.com/eagletwinmusic
https://www.instagram.com/eagletwinmusic
http://www.southernlord.com
http://southernlord.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/SLadmin
http://twitter.com/twatterlord

Eagle Twin, The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (2012)

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Friday Full-Length: Sleep, Dopesmoker

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Sleep, Dopesmoker (2003)

In the annals of post-Sabbath riffing, Sleep‘s Dopesmoker reigns supreme. “Dopesmoker,” the single, 63-minute track that comprises the album, is the stuff of legend, and rightly so. Recorded circa 1996 by the trio of bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, guitarist Matt Pike and drummer Chris Hakius, and backed by the formidable, inimitable production of Billy AndersonDopesmoker is a story that’s been told time and again at this point, perhaps most completely in the 2008 documentary Such Hawks, Such Hounds, and so I’m not sure how much it really needs to be recounted here, but suffice it to say that the narrative behind the record’s creation has become nearly as central to the listening experience as the clarion riffing and the weedian pilgrimage that takes place in the lyrics of the extended verses, revolving around the Bay Area three-piece having issued the now-landmark Sleep’s Holy Mountain (reissue review here) in 1992 and subsequently jumped from Earache Records to London/Sire Records, spent their recording budget on reefer and turned in a 52-minute version of what became “Dopesmoker” to the label, only to be met with the kind of horror that only a major label can express to, say, an underground band who just turned in a 52-minute single-track album of unmatched stonerly excess. No doubt there were some priceless looks on a variety of the involved faces.

Then titled “Jerusalem,” that version of the extended piece did ultimately emerge — released first by the band as a self-bootleg with a cover by Arik Roper and then as Jerusalem by Rise Above Records in the UK and The Music Cartel in the US — in 1998, but with the song broken up over six shorter segments, the effect was nowhere near the same as when Dopesmoker saw its first issue — the track itself and a live version of “Sonic Titan” included — via Tee Pee in 2003. Sleep were long done by then, of course. Pike had moved on to High on Fire and Cisneros and Hakius were on the cusp of unveiling their new meditative duo Om, but one could easily argue that the arrival of Dopesmoker nonetheless played a significant role in igniting the heavy rock boom of the post-internet age. Finally with an avenue for the word of mouth regarding their righteousness that had long been spreading, Sleep were able to connect with an audience without even actually being a band anymore, and with Sleep’s Holy Mountain and the prior 1991 debut, Volume I behind them, their back catalog seemed like relics of a lost age of stoner authenticity — a source of influence worldwide already that has only continued to spread in the years since, bolstered in part by the emergence and ongoing relevance of Om and High on Fire, as well as the 2009 reunion of Sleep proper that has resulted in copious headlining and touring appearances as well as the release of the 2014 single The Clarity (review here), amid a contract dispute with Earache and near-constant rumors of a new full-length in progress on one level or another.

As for the song itself, “Dopesmoker” — which I’ve chosen to put here without the accompanying “Sonic Titan” — remains overwhelming in its scope. Its tonal thickness presents a morass from which Cisneros‘ guttural vocals rumble upward like some ancient call to arms, and when it comes to speaking to the converted, there are few lines short of “What is this that stands before me?” that have ever resonated as thoroughly as “Drop out of life, bong in hand.” Arriving after a solid eight minutes of hypnotic establishment of “Dopesmoker”‘s central riff, it is nearly impossible to measure the impact that single line has had on underground heavy rock. From there, “Dopesmoker” unfolds the tale of a journey rife with transcendentalist THC-ism, the setting a Zion that turns weed into an object of nigh-on-dogmatic ritualism, all the while Pike‘s riffing leads the way along a march punctuated by Hakius that’s no less epic than the lyrical thread. By the time they’re halfway through, their smoke-filled haze has become a churning universe unto itself, and then the guitar solo kicks in. About seven minutes later. Though often imitated at this point, the scale at which “Dopesmoker” works remains largely its own, and like any such monument, even those who’ve come along since to sound bigger or write something longer or whatever it might be invariably exist in its shadow. Its gospel ends with the stoned deliverance of the caravan and a return to the opening lines, but the riffing goes on for a few more minutes thereafter — as it should, pretty much into perpetuity. On repeat. Forever.

Southern Lord reissued Dopesmoker with new art by Arik Roper in 2012 and has gone on to do multiple pressings since in various vinyl and CD editions, so it is readily available for those who’ve yet to chase it down, but as one of the most essential heavy rock releases of all-time, I suspect a good amount of that is geared toward collector impulse rather than filling a gap, at least at this point. Either way, Dopesmoker has been and still represents a watershed moment of riffly creation. There will never be another one that hits in exactly the same way, from Sleep or anyone else, and even if that stems in part from the story of what went into its becoming, the result of that process — everything that went into its being — speaks to the core of one of the heaviest releases of all time. It resounds.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

What else could’ve possibly been heavy enough to close out the week that saw my son brought into the world?

Born at 8:09AM on Oct. 25, 2017, The Pecan came into this world after a plodding 41 hours of labor on the part of The Patient Mrs., whose water broke on Monday afternoon and who delivered the baby via C-section after grueling her way through on Wednesday morning. It was brutal, I don’t mind telling you. I write this post from the chair of the hospital room, my son cradled sleeping in my arms (every time I type with my left hand, his head moves a bit, but he doesn’t seem disturbed by it, which bodes well). We might get to get out of here this evening — Monday to Friday in the hospital has been long and The Patient Mrs. and I are both ready to go, I think — but otherwise it’ll be tomorrow, and then begins a round of family visits that I expect will continue through at least the next couple weeks. Already our mothers and sisters were hanging out in various waiting rooms for extended periods of time, attending his delayed arrival.

So, as for fatherhood: so far so good, I guess. Obviously nothing we’ve yet faced even holds a candle to anything to come pretty much as soon as we get out of here, but we’ve managed to keep him alive for two days, and I’m willing to take that as a win in the immediate. Last night was rougher than the first night, but after a couple hours of cluster-feeding, he slept for a solid four hours and so we did as well and I think that did us all a world of good. The Patient Mrs. is napping now with a pillow over her head. I went home for a bit yesterday and made myself some good coffee to bring back in my thermos, have been sipping that this morning, so we’re holding up. We’ve had talks about being in “survival mode” basically between now and next April — from here to Roadburn, is how we put it — and that seems like a reasonable timeline. We’ll see how it goes. We’re on an adventure.

You may have noticed the last two days were light on posts. Two per day still seems pretty good to me for a dude whose wife just had their first baby, so if you’re gonna complain about that, please don’t. There’s a lot of news to catch up on though, so I’m going to dedicate early next week to that and hopefully get into some early, soon-to-change pattern establishment for morning writing, etc. Here’s what’s in my notes for the week:

Mon.: News catchup, Lizardmen video premiere.
Tue.: SubRosa Subdued review; Operators video.
Wed.: Black Moon Circle review, whatever comes.
Thu.: Electric Wizard review, whatever comes.
Fri.: Fireball Ministry review, whatever comes.

That’s me catching up on reviews a bit as well, and it’s light on premieres on purpose to let me have some flex as I need to, so yeah, bottom line is it’s subject to change as always. Also more than always.

So there you have it. The Pecan has arrived. We’re in the midst of feeling things out, which I expect we will be for, you know, the next 20-odd years. Maybe more.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

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Friday Full-Length: Goatsnake, Trampled Under Hoof

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Goatsnake, Trampled Under Hoof (2004)

There’s a lot to like about Goatsnake‘s 2004 EP, Trampled Under Hoof, right? It’s not like the idea of, ‘Hey, here are some Goatsnake tracks’ needs much salesmanship. They do a lot of that work themselves just by being what they are. But this release particularly, from its goatly Stephen O’Malley cover art to its release on Southern Lord to the fact that the CD refers to the earlier-recorded covers of Saint Vitus and Black Oak Arkansas as a “goat bonus” to the fact that founding the founding duo of vocalist Pete Stahl and guitarist Greg Anderson brought in Scott Reeder to play bass, holds a multifaceted appeal. One thing I’ve always particularly enjoyed about it is that it essentially tells the story of the band twice; once with its three original songs, and then again with the two aforementioned cover tracks. As much as one thinks of massive, roll-grooving bluesy riffs, tonal density and soul when one thinks of Goatsnake, efficiency rarely comes to mind as a central notion of how they functioned, yet Trampled Under Hoof — produced as ever by Matthias Schneeberger — is in and out in 31 minutes, and more than two of those are silence after the end of “Junior’s Jam,” so it turns out to be pretty neatly packed.

What I mean by telling the same story twice though is that if you listen to the three goat-riginals (just trying to keep the theme) in “Portraits of Pain,” “Black Cat Bone” and “Junior’s Jam,” they encapsulate an awful lot about what made the band’s two full-lengths, 1999’s I (discussed here) and 2000’s Flower of Disease (discussed here), so righteous. They take the stoner ideology of the Man’s Ruin Records era in which they arrived and were released as part of, and crush it into a mid-paced nod on the seven-minute opener, with Anderson‘s tone molasses-thick and Stahl‘s voice molasses-sweet atop the crashing cymbal work of drummer John-Robert Conners, then also of Cave In. Of course, having the bassist role previously held by Guy Pinhas (also Acid King, ex-The Obsessed) and G. Stuart Dahlquist (ex-Burning Witch) filled by Reeder, already worthy of legend at that point with stints in The ObsessedKyuss and Unida to his credit — he was pretty fresh off the latter when he got hooked up with Anderson and Stahl, if they weren’t still going — wasn’t going to hurt when it came to tone or performance either, but “Portraits of Pain” is pure Goatsnake as it lumbers and rumbles to its finish ahead of the 2:53 “Black Cat Bone,” a faster boogie blues no less for density than the track before it, but moving in a way that still shows the rock side of what Goatsnake were able to bring to bear in their sound. In other words, it wasn’t just all about nod — they could also let loose and fire off a track with a real sense of propulsion behind it.

This notion hits with immediate contrast in “Junior’s Jam,” which seems to start off referencing Black Sabbath‘s “The Wizard” with its echoing harmonica before unfurling its suitably Iommic doomly plod. Stahl‘s harmonica returns later to draw emphasis to a bluesy feel, but only after “Junior’s Jam” shifts fluidly from its slow start to a more uptempo hook, drawing from some of the same swinging impulse as “Black Cat Bone” before it, but even catchier as Stahl repeats the line “Which way world” and then shoves into a secondary chorus as a bridge before rounding out with one more hook and that harmonica return, which comes back and ends the song on a note of humor, sounding almost like a chicken as a dog barks in the background and the band laughs in the studio and someone says, “I like it.” One wonders if that’s the session that took place at Reeder‘s The Sanctuary studio, as the bassist also had a hand in recording vocals and mixing, but it’s hard to know either way without asking, and frankly, that seems like kind of a random and/or creepy question to drop on the band some 13 years after the fact. In either case, that track is the final original inclusion on Trampled Under Hoof and only paints a more complete portrait of the cross-subgenre appeal of the band between its doom, classic boogie, offbeat weirdness and thorough, defining sense of heft.

All of which show up again as Goatsnake take on Saint Vitus and Black Oak Arkansas in immediate succession. The covers, originally recorded in 1999, seem like a purposeful pairing for what they say about the band’s influences in classic doom and heavy rock, and the post-Sabbath edge Goatsnake give to “Burial at Sea,” with the whispers in the verse and Stahl‘s drawling lines, makes it all the more fitting, where the sample that starts out “Hot Rod,” talking about guitarist Shawn Lane joining the Southern rock outfit and telling a story that basically ends in a threat of a beating from some cops, pulls the listener all the more into Goatsnake‘s world. After that spoken immersion, the song itself is almost an afterthought, but like “Black Cat Bone,” “Junior’s Jam,” or indeed the post-tempo change charge of “Burial at Sea,” it highlights the rocking aspects of Goatsnake with clarity in its purpose and a bizarre vibe that, once again, efficiently captures a crucial piece of what made Goatsnake such a special band.

Aside from the I + Dog Days comp/reissue that Southern Lord also put out in 2004, Trampled Under Hoof was the last Goatsnake offering to be issued until the band’s 2015 Black Age Blues (review here) comeback full-length, manifested some five years after their reunion officially started and perhaps too late to give them the momentum they seemed to desire from it. I’ll still happily maintain that record was easily among 2015’s best, however, and of a quality easily worth consideration among its two predecessors in Goatsnake‘s LP catalog as well as Trampled Under Hoof before it. Just a killer, killer album. Strange to think of Goatsnake, who’ve influenced heavy rock bands across the planet for going on two decades, as winding up putting out an LP that could be thought of as underrated, but there you go. Somehow it’s just strange enough to be fitting for them. Nonetheless, like everything they’ve ever done, it was a beast. “Jimi’s Gone,” man. “House of the Moon.” “Grandpa Jones.” So right on. Guess I know what I’m putting on next.

Hope you enjoy Trampled Under Hoof. Thanks for reading.

I’ve been asked a couple times in the last 24-36 hours and nope, no baby yet. The Patient Mrs. is living up to her name, and it would seem The Pecan is exercising some free will early in setting his own schedule. Yesterday was my birthday (I’m 36 years old: wa. fucking. hoo.), so we kind of had our fingers crossed he’d show up and give me an excuse never to have to “celebrate” that again — which, rest assured, I’d relish, because I fucking hate my birthday; like I need a reminder of how utterly useless I’ve been over the passage of time — but no dice. Dude can make an appearance at his leisure at this point and it’s fine by me, though for the general morale level in the house, sooner might be better.

We’ll get there.

That’s pretty much what it’s been this week. Writing and waiting. Texts from my family: “Any update?” “Yeah, she had the kid on the can like those reality shows where the ladies don’t know they’re pregnant. We were gonna put it on Facebook, just haven’t gotten there yet — you know, placenta and all.”

That’s a lot to put in a text, so I’ve just gone with “nope.” Keep it simple.

Here’s what’s in store for next week, subject to change blah blah:

SOMETIME NEXT WEEK: Baby.
Mon.: Tuber review, video premiere for Weed Priest.
Tue.: Oresund Space Collective review, video premiere for Doomstress.
Wed.: Mirror Queen album stream/review.
Thu.: Monolord review.
Fri.: Cities of Mars review.

Built in some flex toward the end of the week there for obvious reasons, but that’s what I’m rolling with for now. We’ll see how it works out.

In the meantime, the plan for this weekend is to read, spend as little time as possible on social media, buy some coffee, watch the Yankees hopefully make their way into the World Series to face the Dodgers — I think they can take them; Kershaw’s due to choke — and try to get my head around to not being such a miserable bastard before this baby comes so that the first thing he sees when he opens his eyes isn’t my stupid, ugly, old, frowning useless fucking face.

Ugh. Obviously I have some work to do. Also, at the risk of telling you way more than I’m comfortable with about myself and how I operate, I haven’t eaten anything not made of protein powder in like two days and I’m not sure when I’m going to let myself do so again. While we’re being honest: Fuck everything. I hope my fucking organs shut down one by one. I want to be obliterated. So far it’s not working.

Piss piss piss.

Have a great and safe weekend. I’m gonna go read Star Trek books, listen to more Goatsnake, not eat and wait for baseball to come on. Because life.

Please don’t forget to check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

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Magma Announce Retrospektïw I & II and III Due Nov. 24 on Southern Lord

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Progressive, psychedelic and interplanetary legends Magma will play a Southern Lord showcase in Amsterdam at the end of this month. The impetus in part behind the appearance is the impending release of Retrospektïw I & II and III a 3LP compilation of compilations — because when you’re Magma you can do that kind of thing and put out a record that spells out and as well as uses an ampersand and have it make sense. Also you can make up your own language. Also pretty much anything else you want at this point because, well, because you’re friggin’ Magma and Planet Earth is lucky to have you.

Southern Lord has the comp o’ comps out on Nov. 24 and will host the French mainstays on Oct. 29 at a label showcase with Circle, SunnO))) and — in awesome contrast — Unsane, among others. Sure to be a raucous night. Info follows on that and the release, via the PR wire:

MAGMA Georges Besnier

MAGMA To Release Volume I & II And III 3xLP Collection Via Southern Lord November 24th; Group To Appear At The Southern Lord Showcase Evening In Amsterdam On October 29th

MAGMA, one of the most influential of all French bands, will release the Retrospektïw 3xLP collection, including Retrospektï? Volume I & II and Retrospektï? Volume III via Southern Lord on November 24th. The collection will be made available as a limited pressing of 1500 hand-numbered copies, remastered by Brad Boatright, including original artwork by Eva Nahon, also including the classic comic strip by Solé, Dister, and Gotlib depicting MAGMA’s trials and tribulations.

Southern Lord and MAGMA’s collaboration doesn’t end there, as the label has invited the group to perform at their label showcase on October 29th at the Melkweg in Amsterdam, alongside Sunn O))), Unsane, Circle, Okkultokrati, Wolfbrigade, Big|Brave, and Vitamin X. The official show poster artwork was created by Savage Pencil and Eva Nahon.

Southern Lord Europe Presents:
10/29/2017 Melkweg – Amsterdam, NL w/ Magma, Sunn O))), Unsane, more

The first ten years of MAGMA were celebrated on three memorable evenings in June 1980 at the Olympia theatre in Paris. This retrospective, reuniting most of the musicians who had performed in the group, was issued as two albums; the Retrospektï? I & II double-LP and Retrospektï? III LP. Issued first, Retrospektï? III comprises three titles. “Retrovision” is a long piece in the style of the album Attahk, in which the vocalists Stella Vander, Guy Khalifa, and Maria Popkiewicz turn in a blazing performance over a driving rhythm section. There is a supercharged version of “Hhai,” in which the trio of Lockwood, Paganotti, and Widemann works miracles. And finally, “La Dawotsin,” where, in a more muted register, the voice of Christian Vander triumphs through its mastery and profound sensibility.

Recorded, like Retrospektï? III, during the soirees at Olympia in June 1980, Retrospektï? I & II is an absolutely fundamental album in which “Theusz Hamtaahk” — the first movement of the trilogy of the same name — is presented for the first time. The second and third movements, “Wurdah Itah” and “Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh,” were of course already well known. Although played in concert since 1974, Christian Vander had waited for years before recording it for posterity as he wanted every note to be as beautiful, magical, essential and definitive as possible. It is with the same respect for his music that he releases here the most successful version of “Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh,” considered outstanding on account of two incredible improvisation from Bernard Paganotti and Didier Lockwood. Klaus Blasquiz, who did not perform on Retrospektï? III, is the lead vocalist on this version – and justifiably so, since he was indeed the MAGMA singer who first sang these two masterworks.

There’s no doubt about it, MAGMA has left a legacy of music that defies any of the standard and convenient classifications of rock, operating instead in a realm of their own creation. Southern Lord looks forward to being part of their ever-evolving story…

http://www.magmamusic.org
http://www.southernlord.com
http://southernlord.bandcamp.com
http://twitter.com/twatterlord
https://www.facebook.com/SLadmin

Magma, “Slag Tanz” live at Roadburn 2014

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Wrapping up #VinylDay2017

Posted in Features on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Grooves and platters galore. My motivation behind doing Vinyl Day 2017 was simple: I felt like listening to records and sharing that process. It was kind of an off-the-cuff thing. Just an idea I had and ran with it. I figure it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, right? Isn’t putting on an album its own excuse for putting on an album? I tend to think so.

And yeah, I made it a hashtag. Because it’s the future, and hashtags. Instagrammaphone and whatnot. I’m a novice at best when it comes to the social medias, but it seems to me that if you’re going to share a full day’s worth of what you’re listening to, that’s the way to do it. So that’s what I did. If I clogged up your feed or whatever and it pissed you off, sorry.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, it turned out to be nine records of various sorts. Here they are, complete with accompanying audio when I could get it, because it’s the age of instant gratification:

There you have it. Had to be Sleep to end it. Pretty awesome day of music on the whole, and whatever was on your playlist yesterday, if it was this stuff or anything else, I hope you enjoyed. I’m gonna call Vinyl Day 2017 a definite win. Thanks for reading.

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