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Atavismo, Inerte: A la Deriva con Propósito (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

atavismo inerte

[Click play above to hear the premiere of ‘Pan y Dolor’ from Atavismo’s Inerte. Album is out April 7 via Temple of Torturous and can be preordered on CD, black vinyl and clear vinyl.]

Expectations for the second album from Spanish trio Atavismo were set pretty high following their gorgeously cosmic and serene 2014 debut, Desintegración (review here). Inerte makes short work of them. Expanding from four to five included tracks, it sees guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Jose “Poti” Moreno (ex-Viaje a 800, Mind!), bassist/vocalist Mateo and drummer/vocalist Sandri Pow (also ex-Mind!) push brazenly past the fluid textures of their first outing and hold onto some sense of ethereal psych-jazz jamming — hola, “El Sueño” — as they find ultimately more progressive footing.

Released like its looser-feeling-in-hindsight predecessor through Temple of TorturousInerte answers some of the questions the band posed with the space-rocking single “Haribo” (discussed here) and affirmed for their audience that they’ll not necessarily be defined by one course or another, one sound or another, and that their goal is far more individualized than to simply execute the tenets of heavy psychedelia, space or prog rock, even as their aesthetic pulls from each of those and more besides. Songs like “Belleza Cuatro” and opener “Pan y Dolor” offer distinctive moments of resonance marked by beautiful melodies and rhythm that can either be insistent and winding, as in “Pan y Dolor”‘s first half, or barely there at all, something carrying the song forward like a gentle river current, as in the drifting guitar-led midsection of the aforementioned, 11-minute “El Sueño.” This nuanced blend is presented with a lush but natural production captured this past October at Trafalgar Estudios in Cádiz, and does nothing across its 42-minute span to rescind the invitation to the listener issued by its in medias res launch.

The tighter feel of Inerte and the uptick in progressive influence from Atavismo is as immediate as that launch itself. A quick, fuzzy lead line careens into forceful Iberian acoustic strum as the vocals arrive for the first verse. It happens fast, but is welcoming nonetheless, and a play back and forth between the electric and acoustic ensues between chorus and verses for the next several minutes, Moreno and Pow and Mateo singing together in classically prog form as a kind of mini-chorus themselves — an element of space rock willfully repurposed and put to excellent use. Shortly before the halfway point of its eight-and-a-half-minute run, “Pan y Dolor” breaks into a wash of guitar and keys/Mellotron that is as hypnotic as it is joyous, with just an undercurrent of foreboding, cutting itself off at 6:48 in order to reintroduce the acoustic strum and resume the song’s prior course, as if to say, “don’t worry, it was just a dream.” It may well have been, and if so, it wasn’t the last.

“Pan y Dolor” builds to its conclusion and “El Sueño” kicks in with lower tone and a deceptively fast tempo, Mateo‘s bass more prominent in the mix. This is the bed over which vocals soar for another soon-arriving verse, and their being somewhat more drawn out — notes held longer — than the opener prefaces the turn into calmer fare that the second track makes at about the 4:20 mark, the tension Atavismo have thus far mounted seeming to let itself go in favor of more improvised-sounding jamming driven by fuzzed-out psychedelics and effects flourish that settles in a delight of meandering wah and builds to an apex over its last couple minutes as it recalls its own early going without necessarily returning to it outright. That jam carries Inerte‘s longest inclusion to its finish and the finish of side A, ending in a cymbal wash and surge of guitar noise that emphasizes the live feel it has fostered all along.

atavismo

Centerpiece “La Maldición del Zisco” backs sparse guitar with a steady bass and drum progression and fills out its arrangement with keys, using the guitar more as an outward-ringing accent to its early verses, spacious and patient, before it at last launches into what one might call its chorus right around three minutes in. It’s a moment of taking flight through sound and Atavismo make the most of it in terms of thrust, but they’re still not forcing the song to go anywhere it doesn’t want to go.

They dip back into the verse easily and return to the mostly-instrumental chorus quicker the second time through, then proceed to jam their way out of the track, fading to silence just before the seemingly complementary “Belleza Cuatro” — the two are the shortest cuts on Inerte at 6:18 and 5:18, respectively — takes hold in a soothing trance of liquefied guitar and keys. Its importance in being positioned as the penultimate track before 10-minute closer “Volarás” shouldn’t be understated, and as MorenoMateo and Pow drift toward that grand finale, they do so with no less purpose behind them than they had rushing at the outset of “Pan y Dolor.” Vocal harmonies echo under sweet lines of guitar and softly-thudding drums, and a louder, fuller tone rises in the second half, but they still cap quietly, which gives the percussion/keyboard opening of “Volarás” an even more dramatic sensibility. This is something of a ruse, on the band’s part — another dream, maybe — because just after three minutes of building to who knows what, they juke left and shift into a particularly Floydian blend of lightly-strummed guitar, keys, bass and drums, a memorable keyboard line serving as the core around which the rest is placed.

This will be the movement that carries Atavismo out of their second record, and it seems to be a final highlight of the point that their progression is by no means a settled issue. It is striking how many different looks the band gives in these five tracks and how able they are to tie them together as a single flowing work. As “Volarás” quietly makes its way out, Inerte seems to have done as much through understatement as through its reaching new heights, and if it’s in that balance that Atavismo will find their place, then all the better. Whatever they do going forward — Moreno and Pow also have a new four-piece project in the works with former Viaje a 800 guitarist Jose Angel “Oceano” Galindo called Híbrido, adding intrigue to this release — Atavismo have exceeded the potential their debut showed with Inerte and given their listeners a work of depth and breadth that should be treasured for years to come.

Atavismo on Thee Facebooks

Atavismo on Bandcamp

CD preorder at Temple of Torturous

Black LP preorder at Temple of Torturous

Clear LP preorder at Temple of Torturous

Temple of Torturous on Thee Facebooks

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Cachemira to Release Debut Album Jungla on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cachemira

So you’re telling me you’ve got a new band with dudes culled from the ranks of Prisma Circus, Brain Pyramid and 1886? Somehow I don’t think I’m gonna have much trouble getting on board with this one, and listening to the instrumental boogie in the “lo-fi take” of “Jungla” — which seems likely to be the title-track of Cachemira‘s forthcoming debut album, and which you can stream at the bottom of this post — the appeal that drove Heavy Psych Sounds to pick the trio up feels pretty obvious. Fiery classic shuffle finds a good home amid a killer label’s unfettered expansion. Who doesn’t like that story?

The version of “Jungla” below, which appeared on a Red Sun Records compilation, is my introduction to the Barcelona-based outfit, but it’s only got me intrigued to dig further. The Italian imprint doesn’t half-ass it either when it comes to promoting its bands, so expect to hear more about Cachemira leading up to the release. For now, here’s the announcement that was posted about the signing:

cachemira-jungla

Cachemira, Jungla – Heavy Psych Sounds

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records & Booking is proud to announce the signing of a new awesome band!! Welcome on board to CACHEMIRA!!

Cachemira was born in the summer of 2015 in Barcelona, the band started as a duo composed of drummer Alejandro Carmona of Prisma Circus and guitar player Gaston Laine of Brain Pyramid (that had recently moved to Spain), after some intense nights of jams they were finally joined by bass player Pol Ventura (1886) to complete the actual line-up.

All three members meet during shows with their respective bands and decided to gather forces to develop each others compositions. Until early 2016 they kept composing in the search of their old school psych rock dynamic.

From January 2016 with a brand new set, the band started to play as much shows as possible to try out their sound. Through a bit more than half of the year they played various cities through Spain, Portugal, France and Germany, sharing the stage with some international bands from the Psych Rock, Stoner scene.

Recording of the first record started in June 2016 and was finished in August right after they were back from a short summer tour where they played in Sonic Blast Moledo, the band has since then matured its sound and keeps on with composition and shows, developing a genuine heavy psych blues experience!

THE DEBUT ALBUM FOR THIS INCREDIBLE 70’s, Heavy Psych, Bluesy Rock band WILL BE OUT THIS SPRING ON HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS!

More details about the album will be announced soon …so stay tuned!

https://www.facebook.com/cachemiraband/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/bands/cachemira.htm
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

Cachemira, “Jungla (Lo-Fi Take)”

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Atavismo Set April 7 Release for Inerte

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

atavismo

If you need to, take a second and get your brain properly excited for how good the second Atavismo album is going to be. Remember how frickin’ excellent their 2014 debut, Desintegración (review here), was when that arrived, and then go ahead and picture something even broader in its scope and with more depth of melody and tone. Something more progressive but not necessarily less ethereal. I’m telling you it’s one of the best records you’re going to hear this year, and yes, I say that having heard it. I’m usually shy about saying that kind of thing, but I got this one early and it’s just pure immersive bliss. It’s out April 7. I’ll be reviewing it Feb. 21 with a track premiere, so watch out. I’m already stoked to be able to share some of it with you.

The PR wire brought art and other details, and when I see preorder whatnots, I’ll pass those along as well. The release is through Temple of Torturous, as you can read below:

atavismo inerte

ATAVISMO confirm details of upcoming album, ‘Inerte’

Progressive power trio, ATAVISMO, have today announced details of their upcoming sophomore album, entitled Inerte. The five-track album will be released on April 7, via Temple of Torturous Records.

Hailing from Spain, and with a critically acclaimed debut album, Desintegración, already under their belts, ATAVISMO are exploring new territories with their second full length release. Breaking away from the space rock jams of their debut, ATAVISMO have maintained a psychedelic edge, only this time around the evolution of the band is reflected in their more compact, progressive sounds.

The writing process starts with a jam session – as many great creations do – before a firmer structure is applied to the songs. Lysergic lyrics revolve around soulful feelings, love, and bad dreams which the band describe as “existential poetry”. The result, among other things, is a submersion into the Andalusian rock legacy of the legendary band Triana, without losing sight of more current means of understanding psychedelic or progressive rock from bands like Black Mountain, Wolfpeople or Motorpsycho.

Already considered one of the most exciting and eclectic bands emerging in their home country, Inerte looks set to secure ATAVISMO similar acclaim world wide.

Inerte was recorded in October 2016 at Trafalgar Estudios, El Palmar (Cádiz), Spain.

Inerte track listing
1. Pan Y Dolor
2. El Sueño
3. La Malediction Del Zisco
4. Belleza Cuatro
5. Volarás

ATAVISMO are:
Poti: Guitar and vocals
Sandra: Drums and vocals
Mateo: Bass and vocals

Inerte will be released via Temple of Torturous on April 7. Information regarding pre-orders will be available in the coming weeks.

https://www.facebook.com/Atavismo-233096556878903/
https://atavismo.bandcamp.com/
http://templeoftorturous.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ToTRecords/

Atavismo, “AtardecerNaranjaInfierno”

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Quarterly Review: 40 Watt Sun, Worm Ouroboros, The Heads, Jason Simon, Danava, Pylar, Domkraft, Picaporters, Deamon’s Child, Fungal Abyss

Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

We press on with the Quarterly Review and writeups #41-50 of the total 60 to be featured. Some considerable names in this batch, as I suppose there have been all along, but one of the functions this feature has come to serve is to allow me a space to offer some comment on bigger records that, let’s be frank, are being covered everywhere in the universe, while fleshing out coverage elsewhere of things like bands’ debuts and some other less-ubiquitous offerings. That’s become the idea anyway. Doesn’t always go like that, but it’s kind of a relief to have somewhere I can put the extra 200 reviews per year rather than miss out. We’ll wrap this one up on Monday, but just because it’s the end of the week and because it’s my general sentiment, thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

40 Watt Sun, Wider than the Sky

40 watt sun wider than the sky

With their second album, the awaited Wider than the Sky, London’s 40 Watt Sun continue to be defined by their depressive expressionism. The six-track/62-minute follow-up to 2011’s The Inside Room (review here) finds guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker (ex-Warning), bassist William Spong and drummer Christian Leitch opening with the longest inclusion (immediate points) in the gorgeously mournful 16-minute unfolding of “Stages.” Sonically lush but still somehow raw and minimal in its emotionality, a slow drear sets the tone for what will follow in “Beyond You” and “Another Room,” “Pictures and “Craven Road,” which alternate on either side of the 10-minute mark until closer “Marazion” (3:57) seems to resonate a less-hopeless spirit. More than The Inside Room, Wider than the Sky realizes itself in emotional rather than tonal weight, and while one often identifies these feelings with things cold and grey, it would require a willful blindness not to recognize the humanity and warmth coming through in Walker’s delivery of this material. Wide it may be, but not at all distant.

40 Watt Sun on Thee Facebooks

40 Watt Sun website

 

Worm Ouroboros, What Graceless Dawn

worm ouroboros what graceless dawn

The duality of Worm Ouroboros’ third album for Profound Lore, What Graceless Dawn, is almost as prevalent as the irony that its title should include the word “graceless” when the 63-minute six-tracker itself is so melodically poised. It’s dark, but hopeful, spacious and compact, challenging but simply and often minimally arranged, patient and emotionally intense, and heavy even as it seems to float from one extended piece to the next on a current of intertwining, nigh-operatic vocals from bassist Lorraine Rath (ex-Amber Asylum) and guitarist Jessica Way (World Eater) while Aesop Dekker (Agalloch, Vhöl) seems just as comfortable in the quiet midsection stretch of 13-minute centerpiece “Ribbon of Shadow” as in the rumbling payoff of “Suffering Tree” just before. Running from opener “Day” to closer “Night,” What Graceless Dawn is nothing if not coherent, and while the band’s core approach has been largely consistent across their 2010 self-titled debut (review here) and 2012’s Come the Thaw, the Bay Area trio maintain a clear commitment to forward-moving artistry that stirs the consciousness.

Worm Ouroboros on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

The Heads, Burning up With: Live at Roadburn 2015

the heads burning up with

I was fortunate enough to be there when UK heavy psych legends The Heads played the Main Stage set at Roadburn 2015 captured on the Burning World Records release Burning up With…, and indeed the preservation of the band’s utter liquefaction of that large room is well worth preserving across the four sides of a double-LP. The only drawback to a vinyl version of their set is that while the individual songs are presented as side-consuming medleys – “Cardinal Fuzz/KRT,” “Gnu/Legevaan Sattelite/U33,” and so on – that still requires some measure of break to flip from one to the next, whereas in the all-at-once linearity of a CD or digital listen, one finds the overwhelming lysergic proceedings intact as they were from the stage, gloriously molten and entrancingly jammed out by the longtime masters of the form. I won’t even attempt to give its spaciousness a proper assessment since just about anything The Heads do is a gift defying impartiality, especially something like this, but yeah, get on it.

The Heads on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

 

Jason Simon, Familiar Haunts

jason simon familiar haunts

Back in 2010, Dead Meadow frontman Jason Simon released an eponymous solo debut on Tee Pee that found him working in a folkish sphere, and his six-years-later follow-up, Familiar Haunts (on Tekeli-Li, Cardinal Fuzz, Burger Records and Blind Blind Tiger), has some of those elements as well on the twanging, finger-plucking “Pretty Polly” and subdued strum of “Seven Sisters of Sleep,” but Simon has also assembled a four-piece band here, and from the pickup of opener “The People Dance, the People Sing,” through the fuzz experimentalism of “Now I’m Telling You” and the airy linear build of the penultimate 11-minute highlight “Wheels Will Spin,” there’s no lack of fullness in the sound. One finds a particularly engaging blend on “Hills of Mexico,” a six-minute rambler that fluidly brings together neofolk and desert ambience, though as Simon and company play sounds off each other in this material, “engaging blend” would seem to be the underlying theme of Familiar Haunts as a whole.

Jason Simon on Bandcamp

Cardinal Fuzz Records

 

Danava, At Midnight You Die

danava at midnight you die

Over a decade removed from their 2006 self-titled debut and five years past their third album, 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows, one might easily argue that Portland, Oregon’s Danava are due for a full-length release. Sure, the band led by guitarist/vocalist Gregory Meleny have toured plenty in that time in the US and abroad, put out splits and so on, and that has consistently and organically grown their fanbase. Sating that fanbase would seem to be the motivation behind the two-song 7” At Midnight You Die (on Tee Pee), on which the titular A-side finds the four-piece making the most of their dual guitars – Meleny and Pete Hughes (Sons of Huns) shredding in proto-NWOBHM fashion – while the B-side takes on the bizarre and foreboding folk ambience of “My Spirit Runs Free,” short at three minutes, acoustic and sourced from 1979’s The Capture of Bigfoot. So yeah, it’s like that. No new record, but a ripper and some delightful weirdness on hand, and I suspect at this point many of their followers will take what they can get.

Danava on Thee Facebooks

Danava at Tee Pee Records

 

Pylar, Pyedra

pylar pyedra

Some bands are just on their own wavelength, and as much as one might be tempted to relate Sevilla’s Pylar to SunnO))) with their robes and their drones, the Spanish troupe’s four-track full-length, Pyedra (on Alone Records), sees them emitting a slew of horrors all their own. Working as a five-piece, Pylar open with “Menga” (10:57), their longest cut (immediate points) and establish a basis of amelodic, largely arrhythmic noise-jazz. There are more straightforward currents in the subsequent rumble and roll of “Megalitos” (10:33), and “Menhir” (9:37) would seem to draw both sides together before “Meteoros” (9:07) rounds out with an airy, horn-topped alternate-universe victory, but the whole of Pyedra remains informed by the way-off-kilter challenge it poses at the outset, and part of the thrill is making your way through with no idea of what’s coming next other than another extended song beginning with the letter ‘m.’ Will be too much for some, but Pylar’s bleak experimentalism assures cultish appeal worthy of those robes the band wears.

Pylar on Bandcamp

Pylar at Alone Records

 

Domkraft, The End of Electricity

domkraft the end of electricity

Proliferating a combination of speaker-punishing low-end riffs and post-rock-derived spaciousness, Swedish trio Domkraft debut on Magnetic Eye Records with the wholesale immersion of The End of Electricity and evoke heft no less substantial than their stated theme. They begin with their two longest tracks (which I guess is double points?) in “The Rift” and “Meltdown of the Orb,” and by the time they’re through them, bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer Anders Dahlgren have already doled out a full LP’s worth of nod, which would seem to make what follows after the momentary breather of “Drones” in “Red Lead,” “All Come Hither” the shorter “Dustrider” and closer “We Will Follow” a bonus round – in which Domkraft also dominate. Because its heavy is so heavy and because Wegeland’s vocals arrive across the board as far-back, shouted echoes, it’s easy to lose sight of the ambience that goes with all that roll, but what ultimately gives The End of Electricity such character is that it creates as much of a world as it destroys.

Domkraft on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

Picaporters, El Horror Oculto

picaporters el horror oculto

Back in 2013, Buenos Aires outfit Picaporters made an encouraging debut with Elefantes (review here). They’ve teased the follow-up, El Horror Oculto (on South American Sludge), over the last year-plus with several digital singles, but the album’s arrival hits with a distinct fleshing out of atmosphere, as heard on the grueling second cut “Diferentes Formas de Ostras” or the manner in which the centerpiece title-track departs from its raucous opening into a heavy-psychedelic meander, never to return, feeding off of the structure of “Humo Ancestral” directly before. An interlude “Etude 6” leads into the opening drift of “Ra,” but it’s a ruse as Picaporters offer some of the album’s most driving heavy rock in that cut’s second half, and close out with Sabbath-darkness-via-Zeppelin-noodling on “War is Over,” the trio coming together in a molten psychedelic doom that seems to draw from the various sides they’ve shown throughout without losing sight of pushing further in its summary.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Deamon’s Child, Scherben Müssen Sein

deamon's child scherben mussen sein

It would be a mistake to judge Deamon’s Child’s second full-length, Scherben Müssen Sein (on Zygmatron), by any single one of its tracks, as the German trio makes plain in the dramatic shift from the crushing sludge of “Zucker” into the raw punk thrust of the subsequent “Keine Zeit.” Elsewhere, they find funky footing before punking out once again in “Schweinehund, Kimm Tanz Mit Mir!” and rumble the outing to a finish consuming in its largesse on the 10-minute “Nichts,” so yes, as they follow-up their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), Deamon’s Child hold fast to the sense of the unhinged proffered therein while uniting their material through an intensity that comes across regardless of tempo or surrounding purpose. They are on the beat, not behind it, pushing forward always. That can make Scherben Müssen Sein difficult to keep track of as it moves swiftly through the blast of “Monster” and the manipulated samples of “In Kinderschuhen” toward that finale, but the mission here is far, far away from easy listening, so all the better.

Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks

Deamon’s Child on Bandcamp

 

Fungal Abyss, Bardo Abgrund Temple

fungal abyss bardo abgrund temple

Adansonia Records offers a bonus-track-laden revisit of the 2011 debut release, Bardo Abgrund Temple, from Seattle shroom-jammers Fungal Abyss, whose improvisational sensibility comes through the original four extended cuts with no diminishing of their otherworldly trip-out for the half-decade that’s passed since they first surfaced. Those looking for a US counterpart to European psych-improv outfits like Electric Moon or Øresund Space Collective – i.e., me – would do well to dig into opener “Arc of the Covenant” (20:12) or closer “Fungal DeBrist” (24:07) as a lead-in for the earlier-2016 follow-up, Karma Suture (review here), as well as their companion live outings, but whatever contextual approach a listener might want to take, the instrumental stretch of Bardo Abgrund Temple is a serenely heavy and meandering path to walk, given to bouts of space-rock thrust and long passages of low-end droner nod, as heard on the 10-minute “Timewave Zero,” turned on and duly ritualized in its swirl and far-off vocalizations. A reissue well-earned of a gracefully cosmic debut.

Fungal Abyss on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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Quarterly Review: Hornss, Khemmis, Fox 45, Monolith Wielder, No Man’s Valley, Saturna, Spotlights, MØLK, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Moon Coven

Posted in Reviews on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

2016 ends and 2017 starts off on the right foot with a brand new Quarterly Review roundup. The first time I ever did one of these was at the end of 2014 and I called the feature ‘Last Licks.’ Fortunately, I’ve moved on from that name, but that is kind of how I’m thinking about this particular Quarterly Review. You’ll find stuff that came out spread all across 2016, early, middle, late, but basically what I’m trying to do here is get to a point where it’s not March and I’m still reviewing albums from November. Will it work? Probably not, but in order to try my damnedest to make it do so anyway, I’m making this Quarterly Review six full days. Monday to Monday instead of Monday to Friday. 60 reviews in six posts. Sounds like madness because it is madness. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Hornss, Telepath

hornss telepath

San Francisco trio Hornss debuted on RidingEasy Records with 2014’s No Blood No Sympathy (review here) and further their raw genre blend on Telepath, their half-hour follow-up LP delivered via STB, melding heavy punk and metallic impulses to a noisy, thick-toned thrust on songs like “Atrophic” and the bouncing “Sargasso Heart” while opener “St. Genevieve” and the penultimate “Old Ghosts” dig into more stonerly nod. The latter track is the longest inclusion on the record at 3:26, and with 11 cuts there’s plenty of jumping between impulses to be done, but the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha, bassist/vocalist Nick Nava – both formerly of desert punkers Solarfeast – and drummer Bil Bowman (ex-Zodiac Killers) work effectively and efficiently to cast an identity for themselves within the tumult. It’s one that finds them reveling in the absence of pretense and the sometimes-caustic vibes of songs like “Leaving Thermal,” which nonetheless boast an underlying catchiness, speaking to a progression from the first album.

Hornss on Thee Facebooks

STB Records store

 

Khemmis, Hunted

khemmis hunted

Easily justifiable decision on the part of Denver’s Khemmis to return to Flatline Audio and producer Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, etc.) for their second album, Hunted. No reason to fix what clearly wasn’t broken about their 2015 debut, Absolution (review here), and on the 20 Buck Spin Records release, they don’t. A year later, the four-piece instead build on the doomly grandeur of the first outing and push forward in aesthetic, confidence and purpose, whether that’s shown in mournful opener “Above the Water,” the darker “Candlelight” that follows, or the centerpiece “Three Gates,” which opens as muddied death metal before shifting into a cleaner chorus, creating a rare bridge between doom and modern metal. Khemmis save the most resonant crush for side B, however, with the nine-minute “Beyond the Door” capping with vicious stomp before the 13-minute title-track, which closes the album with an urgency that bleeds even into spacious and melodic break that sets up the final apex to come, as emotionally charged as it is pummeling.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Fox 45, Ashes of Man

fox 45 ashes of man

In addition to the outright charm of titles like “Doominati,” “Coup d’étwat,” “Murdercycle” and “Urinal Acid” (the latter a bonus track), Rochester, New York’s Fox 45 offer fuzzy roll on their Twin Earth Records debut full-length, Ashes of Man, the three-piece of Amanda Rampe, Vicky Tee and Casey Learch finding space for themselves between the post-Acid King nod of “Necromancing the Stone” and more swing-prone movements like the relatively brief “Soul Gourmandizer.” Playing back and forth between longer and shorter tracks gives Ashes of Man a depth of character – particularly encouraging since it’s Fox 45’s first record – and the low-end push that leads “Phoenix Tongue” alone is worth the price of admission, let alone the familiar-in-the-right-ways straightforward heavy riffing of “Narcissister” a short while later. Very much a debut, but one that sets up a grunge-style songwriting foundation on which to build as they move forward, and Fox 45 seem to have an eye toward doing precisely that.

Fox 45 on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Monolith Wielder, Monolith Wielder

monolith wielder self titled

Double-guitar Pittsburgh four-piece Monolith Wielder make their self-titled debut through Italian imprint Argonauta Records, bringing together Molasses Barge guitarist Justin Gizzi and Zom guitarist/vocalist Gero von Dehn with bassist Ray Ward (since replaced by Amy Bianco) and drummer Ben Zerbe (also Mandrake Project) for 10 straightforward tracks that draw together classic Sabbathian doom with post-grunge heavy rock roll. There’s a workingman’s sensibility to the riffing of “No Hope No Fear” and the earlier, more ‘90s moodiness of “Angels Hide” – von Dehn’s vocals over the thick tones almost brings to mind Sevendust on that particularly catchy chorus – but Monolith Wielder’s Monolith Wielder isn’t shy about bringing atmospherics to the Iommic thrust of its eponymous cut or the penultimate “King Under Fire,” which recalls the self-titled Alice in Chains in its unfolding bleakness before closer “Electric Hessian” finishes with a slight uptick in pace and a fade out and back in (and a last sample) that hints at more to come.

Monolith Wielder on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

No Man’s Valley, Time Travel

no man's valley time travel

The stomp and clap intro “The Man Who Would be King” casts an immediately bluesy hue on No Man’s Valley’s debut album, Time Travel (LP release on Nasoni), and the Netherlands-based five-piece seem only too happy to build on that from there. It’s a blend outfits like The Flying Eyes and Suns of Thyme have proffered for several years now between heavy psychedelia and blues, but No Man’s Valley find a niche for themselves in the dreamy and patient execution of “Sinking the Lifeboat,” a highlight of the eight-track/33-minute LP, and bring due personality to the classic-style jangle-and-swing of “The Wolves are Coming” as well, so that Time Travel winds up more textured than redundant as it makes its way toward six-minute piano-laden finale “Goon.” Once there, they follow a linear course with a post-All Them Witches looseness that solidifies into a resonant and deeply engaging apex, underscoring the impressive reach No Man’s Valley have brought to bear across this first LP of hopefully many to come.

No Man’s Valley on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Saturna, III/Lost in Time

saturna lost in time

Barcelona classic rocking four-piece Saturna seem to avoid the boogie trap when they want to, as on the more rolling, modern heavy groove of “Five Fools,” and that keeps their World in Sound/PRC Music third album, III/Lost in Time, from being too predictable after the opening “Tired to Fight” seems to set up Thin Lizzy idolatry. They dip into more complex fare on “Leave it All,” somewhere between Skynyrd leads, Deep Purple organ-isms topped with a rousing hook, but keep some shuffle on songs like “Disease” and the earlier “All Has Been Great.” Highlight/closer “Place for Our Soul” seems to be literal in its title, with a more subdued approach and harmonized vocal delivery, and listening to its more patient delivery one can’t help but wonder why that soul should be relegated to the end of the album instead of featured throughout, but the songwriting is solid and the delivery confident, so while familiar, there’s ultimately little to complain about with what III/Lost in Time offers.

Saturna on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound website

 

MØLK, Hate from the Bong

molk hate from the bong

Especially with the title of their second EP set as Hate from the Bong, one might be tempted to put Belgian outfit MØLK immediately in the same category of malevolent stoner/sludge metal as the likes of Bongripper, but frankly they sound like they’re having too much fun for that on the five-tracker, reveling in lyrical shenanigans on the politically suspect “Stonefish” and opener “Methamphetamine.” Make no mistake, they’re suitably druggy, but even Hate from the Bong’s title-track seems to keep its tongue in cheek as it unfolds its post-Electric Wizard echoes and tonal morass. That gives the five-piece an honest vibe – they’re a relatively new band, having released their first EP in 2016 as well; why shouldn’t they be having a good time? – to coincide with all that thickened low end and vocal reverb, and though they’re obviously growing, there isn’t much more I’d ask of them from a debut full-length, which is a task they sound ready to take on in these songs.

MØLK on Thee Facebooks

MØLK on Bandcamp

 

Psychedelic Witchcraft, The Vision

psychedelic witchcraft the vision

Italian cult rock outfit Psychedelic Witchcraft have proven somewhat difficult to keep up with over the last year-plus. As they’ve hooked up with Soulseller Records and reissued their Black Magic Man EP (review here), their full-length debut, The Vision, and already announced a follow-up compilation in 2017’s Magick Rites and Spells, the band consistently work to feature the vocals of Virginia Monti (also Dead Witches) amid semi-retro ‘70s-style boogie, as heard on the debut in cuts like “Witches Arise” and “Wicked Ways.” At nine tracks/34 minutes, however, The Vision is deceptively efficient, and though they’re unquestionably playing to style, Psychedelic Witchcraft find room to vary moods on “The Night” and the subdued strum of “The Only One Who Knows,” keeping some sonic diversity while staying largely on-theme lyrically. To call the album cohesive is underselling its purposefulness, but the question is how the band will build on the bluesy soulfulness of “Magic Hour Blues” now that they’ve set this progression in motion. Doesn’t seem like it will be all that long before we find out.

Psychedelic Witchcraft on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records website

 

Spotlights, Spiders EP

spotlights spiders

Following the heavy post-rock wash of their 2016 debut album, Tidals, Brooklynite two-piece Spotlights – bassist/guitarist/vocalist Sarah Quintero and guitarist/synthesis/vocalist Mario Quintero – return on the quick with a three-track EP, Spiders, and set themselves toward further sonic expansion. The centerpiece “She Spider” is a Mew cover, electronic beats back opener “A Box of Talking Heads V2” and the spacious closer “Joseph” is a track from Tidals remixed by former Isis drummer Aaron Harris. So, perhaps needless to say, they hit that “expansion” mark pretty head-on. The finale turns out to be the high point, more cinematic in its ambience, but still moving through with an underlying rhythm to the wash of what one might otherwise call drones before becoming more deeply post-Nine Inch Nails in its back half. How many of these elements might show up on Spotlights’ next record, I wouldn’t guess, but the band takes an important step by letting listeners know the potential is there, adding three wings onto their wheelhouse in three tracks, which is as efficient conceptually as it is sonically immersive.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Spotlights on Bandcamp

 

Moon Coven, Moon Coven

moon coven self-titled

This self-titled second full-length from Malmö, Sweden-based Moon Coven begins with its longest track (immediate points) in “Storm” and works quickly to nail down a far-reaching meld between heavy psych and riffy density. Issued through the much-respected Transubstans Records, it’s a nine-track/50-minute push that can feel unipolar on an initial listen, but largely avoids that trap through tonal hypnosis and fluid shifts into and out of jams on cuts like “The Third Eye,” while centerpiece “Haramukh High” provides a solidified moment before the organ interlude “The Ice Temple” leads into the mega-roll of finisher “White Sun.” What seems to be a brooding sensibility from the artwork – a striking departure from their 2014 debut, Amanita Kingdom – is actually a far more colorful affair than it might at first appear, and well justifies the investment of repeat visits in the far-out nod of “Conspiracy” and the swirling “Winter,” which goes so far as to add melodic texture in the vocals and notably fuzzed guitar, doing much to bolster the proceedings and overarching groove.

Moon Coven on Thee Facebooks

Transubstans Records

 

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MotherSloth Sign to Argonauta Records; New Album in 2017

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 2nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

So the title of Spanish doomers MotherSloth‘s impending second album may or may not be Moon Omen. How do I know? Keen investigative reporting, of course. Digging deep. Meeting secret sources in underground parking garages while wearing overcoats and fedoras, smoke-obscured faces trading classified information back and forth. And then after all that I checked out their Thee Facebooks page and there’s a whole collection of photos there under the heading, “Recording Moon Omen.” That could also be a pretty reliable tell.

Whether or not that’s the name of the thing, the follow-up to MotherSloth‘s 2014 Moribund Star full-length debut will be released in Spring 2017 via Argonauta Records. That information is not classified — or at least not anymore — and the PR wire offers this public briefing:

mothersloth

Argonauta Records New signing: MOTHERSLOTH

We’re excited to welcome in our roster a new excellent act from Spain: MOTHERSLOTH.

MotherSloth is a Madrid-based band formed in 2008. In the band’s style, you can find several influences – 70?s inspired sounds combined with heavy guitar riffs and open chords, blended with spirally progressive melodies.

The band says: “We are happy to have arrived to Argonauta and cannot be more excited with the prospect of working together with Gero and the label, plus having high expectations on our next album which we believe it’s our best so far…”

After various formations, the band records demos under the title “Death Flowers” (2009), and plays live throughout Madrid with other avant-garde stoner bands. In 2012, with a more defined musical path, MotherSloth recorded their debut EP “Hazy Blur Of Life“, edited in 2013 by Peruvian underground label Dooom Records.

MotherSloth created and gathered a good impression after playing at Kanina Rock festival (2012+DVD), Madrid Stoner Festival (2013), and being featured in various compilations, genre specialized blogs, magazines and radios. In late 2013, MotherSloth decided to focus on the instrumental songs they had been writing throughout the years, recording their new LP “Moribund Star” (2014), edited in 2015 with Germany’s Voodoo Chamber Records and available here:

In 2016 the band entered the studio to record their next album, consisting of 6 brand new songs, to be released by ARGONAUTA Records in CD/DD during Spring 2017.

The band is:
Dani – guitars and vocals
Adrian – bass guitar and vocals
Oscar – drums

https://www.facebook.com/MotherSloth
https://twitter.com/MotherSloth
https://mothersloth.bandcamp.com/album/moribund-star
http://www.argonautarecords.com/

MotherSloth, Moribund Star (2014)

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Riff Ritual Fest Vol. 3: Samsara Blues Experiment and Powder for Pigeons Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Riff Ritual Fest Vol. 3 is set for April 22 in Barcelona, Spain, and the first two acts of what I understand will be a five- or six-band lineup have been announced as Samsara Blues Experiment and Powder for Pigeons. Both based in Germany, both planning on releasing their fourth album, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility they’ll travel together to Iberia. We already know that Samsara Blues Experiment will take part in Desertfest around this time as well, so it could be that a tour has yet to be revealed. Worth keeping an eye on, particularly as they’re reemerging from a period of relative inactivity over the last year or so.

Seems like it could be a cool vibe if you happen to be in that part of the world in Springtime. Here’s word from the fest:

Exactly 3 years ago, Samsara Blues Experiment visited Barcelona for the first and only time…

What’s a better way to celebrate it than announcing their appearance at Riff Ritual Fest’s third edition? That’s right, the German trio will visit us again with an exclusive show in the Iberian peninsula next April 22, 2017.

It will be the perfect chance to enjoy one of the best stoner/psych live shows around with songs off seminal records in the genre like “Long Distance Trip”, “Revelation & Mystery” or “Waiting For The Flood”.

After taking one sabbatical year, the band is back stronger than ever. We’re sure SBE’s show at RRF will be one for the ages!

Australian-German duo Powder For Pigeons will also be at Riff Ritual Fest’s third edition next Saturday April 22, 2017! PFP is Meike on drums and Rhys as vocalist/guitarist. They met in the Australian desert in 2012 and they haven’t stopped playing all around the globe ever since. In 2017 they will visit Spain for the first time ever.

PFP will be introducing their fourth album, expected for early 2017, while also playing songs from their previous albums; “Powder For Pigeons”, “Washed, Dried, Brain Fried” and “Circus Kinda Times”. A band surely to get the audience crazy with their unique blend of stoner metal and grunge.

RIFF RITUAL FEST / Saturday, April 22nd / Barcelona
Samsara Blues Experiment
Powder For Pigeons

https://www.facebook.com/riffritualfest/
https://www.facebook.com/events/558476571018818/

Samsara Blues Experiment, Live at Daos 2015

Powder for Pigeons, “Full Control” live

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Melmak Stream New Album Prehistorical in Full; Out Today

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

melmak

Today marks the release date for Prehistorical, the brutalizing second album from Spanish two-piece Melmak. Comprised of brothers Jonan and Igor Extebarria — on guitar/vocals and drums/vocals, respectively — the band offers a relatively brief onslaught throughout Prehistorical‘s seven-track/32-minute run, but that winds up being more than enough time for them to get their point across in cave-echo sludge extremity, fits of thrash groove and, on a song like “Primitive,” elements culled from black metal or at very least atmospheric death metal. That title, “Primitive,” appears relatively early on Prehistorical, right after opener “Pangea,” and since it’s also the longest cut on the follow-up to Melmak‘s 2014 debut, The Only Vision of all Gods, it makes sense that primitivism should be the overriding theme of both an apparent lyrical narrative and the duo’s raw approach itself. As the cover art for Prehistorical shows, they are not a band that shies away from the violent impulse, from the viciousness of instinct, and that’s easy to hear as they move past the Stephen Hawking sample and into the whispers and tense wash of noise that leads the way into the rumbling start of “Primitive” itself.

Maybe “narrative,” above, isn’t the right word, since I’m not sure Melmak are so much telling a specific story here are seeking to explore and represent ideas and impressions of prehistory, of the rudimentary facets and struggle of humans as animals in an animalistic world. They do this not through weaving a character through various obstacles only to find melmak-prehistoricalresolution — there is one resolution; we all know what it is — but through weaving themselves and the listener through the pummel of their material, here working in the mold of two-pieces like Black Cobra or Mantar, hitting into a slower pace on the noisy, feedback-drenched “The Cavern” before exploding into blastbeats and one of Prehistorical‘s most extreme stretches. What makes the album interesting, ultimately, is that while Melmak establish this sound that comes across as so focused on the nastiness of its own execution, and so harsh, the band works with more of a range than it might at first appear within that sphere. Yes, I mean they play fast and slow, and yes, I mean that Igor and Jonan swap vocal duties, and that sets up a certain level of dynamic, but even in their hardest-driving moments, the echoes on the vocals give their songs a sense of space, so that when the atmospheric centerpiece/interlude “Megalodon” comes around with its quiet piano and moody scratch, it doesn’t seem at all beyond Melmak‘s reach. Just the opposite. If anything, it bolsters the material surrounding.

And the fade-in of a somewhat militaristic snare and thicker riff on “Bonfire” speaks to Melmak having a keener ear for transitions than the sheer ferocity of some of what they do might lead one to believe. That said, “Bonfire” and the penultimate “Death Struggle” work to strip down their sound even further to some of its barest parts: the blown-out noise of the former being consumed by noise into the grueling sludge roll of the latter. Right around the 3:30 mark into “Death Struggle”‘s 4:15, they hit into a breakdown riff in classically thrashy form, and though their delivery of it is slower, the progression is unmistakable in its moving intent. The mosh part, however brief. That spirit seems to carry into closer “Aegnap” as Jonan and Igor again push into longer terrain, even daring some dual-voice vocal melody before they’re done as they lay the groundwork for the final thrust into noise that, though brief, is perhaps meant to mirror that which started the album in a similar fashion as to how the first and last titles mirror each other. In the end, Prehistorical finds Melmak striking a balance between their proposed “Primitive” sensibility and their more complex realization of it, and in part because the album is so short, it seems to entice the audience back in an attempt to better gauge where the band is actually coming from rather than run the risk of losing itself in any sort of indulgence, even that of the severity of their form.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Melmak‘s Prehistorical for a full stream. You’ll find it on the player below, followed by more info on the release, courtesy of the band.

Please enjoy:

Recorded by Ivan Corcuera (Grabasonic Studio) on August 2016. Produced, mixed and mastered by Ivan Corcuera and Melmak. All songs written and composed by Melmak.

Artwork by Igor Mugerza.

In loving memory of Unai.

Jonan: Guitar/Vocals
Igor: Drums/Vocals

Chorus on “Aegnap” by Jony Menendez.

Formed in 2010 by the Etxebarria brothers, Melmak is a duo which combines the darkness of the doom metal with the madness of the hardcore to explain the situation of the human being and what are the possible solutions not to extinguish as we know it…

Melmak on Thee Facebooks

Melmak on Bandcamp

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