Quarterly Review: The Sword, Mountain Tamer, Demon Head, Bushfire, Motherslug, Dove, Treedeon, Falun Gong, Spider Kitten, Greynbownes

Posted in Reviews on April 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Okay then. We got past the first day and I thought it went reasonably well. No casualties. Nobody’s brain melted from trying to find another word for “riffs” for the 19th time, so yeah, mark it a win. There’s a good spread of stuff in today’s batch — a little of this, a little of that — so hopefully somewhere in the mix you’re able to run into something you dig. Hell, I’ll say the same for myself as well. Come on, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

The Sword, Used Future

the sword used future

Now-veteran Austin heavy rockers The Sword have gotten a mixed response to the more progressive approach their recent work has taken, and I doubt Used Future (on Razor & Tie) is going to be any less polarizing, but its crisp 13 tracks/43 minutes are pulled off with professionalism. Yes, it has its self-indulgent aspects in “Sea of Green” or the earlier instrumental “The Wild Sky,” but The Sword have never done anything other than deliver accessible heavy rock and tour like hell, so while I get the mixed response, at this point I think the band has at very least earned a measure of respect for what they’ve accomplished as ambassadors of underground heavy. They wanna throw a little John Carpenter influence into “Nocturne?” Fine. They’re not hurting anybody. The unfortunate truth about The Sword is that neither polarized side is right. They’re not the end of heavy metal as we know it; some crude ironic take on what metal should be. And they’re not the greatest band of their generation. They have a good record deal. They write decent songs. Where’s the problem with that? I don’t hear it on Used Future.

The Sword on Thee Facebooks

Razor & Tie website

 

Mountain Tamer, Living in Vain Demo

mountain tamer Demo 2017

If it was Mountain Tamer’s intention to get listeners excited about the prospect of a second full-length from the Santa Cruz, CA three-piece, then the Living in Vain demo serves this purpose well. Their 2016 Argonauta Records self-titled debut (review here) expounded on the potential they originally showed with 2015’s Mtn Tmr demo (review here), and though it’s only two songs, Living in Vain would seem to do the same in building on the accomplishments of the album before it. The opening title-track is labeled “Living in Vain Pt. 1” and nestles easily into a mid-paced shuffle before shifting into psychedelic lead layering and a more jammed-out spirit, from which it returns in the last 30 seconds to hit into a more solidified ending riff, leading to the immediately slower “Wretched.” More spacious, more of a march, it plays into an instrumental hook and holds to its structure for its entire 5:40, ending with guitar on a quick fade. Obviously the intention with a release like this is to entice the listener with the prospect of the band’s next album. Living in Vain does that and more.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

 

Demon Head, The Resistance

demon head the resistance

Returning just about a year after issuing their second album, Thunder on the Fields (review here), Copenhagen-based proto-metallers Demon Head offer a new two-songer single titled The Resistance that at least to my ears speaks to the current political moment of populism opposing liberalism – as much at play in Europe as in the US, if not more so – and the fight for an open society. They present it as a six-plus-minute languid groove with flashes of militaristic snare; something of a turn from the cult rock of their two-to-date long-players. One could say the same of the sci-fi themed “Rivers of Mars,” though like its predecessor, it remains sonically on-point with the band’s vintage aesthetic, fostered through naturalist guitar and bass tones, bluesy, commanding vocals and classy, creative drumming. Actually, apply that “classy” all around. As Demon Head continue to come into their own sound, they do so with poise that’s all the more striking for how raw their presentation remains.

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records

 

Bushfire, When Darkness Comes

bushfire when darkness comes

When Darkness Comes is German heavy rocking five-piece Bushfire’s follow-up to late-2013’s Heal Thy Self (review here), and it retains the Darmstadt-based outfit’s penchant for quality riffcraft and a showcase for the vocals of frontman Bill Brown, which hit in bottom-of-the-mouth melodies and gruff shouts fitting to cuts like “The Conflict” and the swinging “Shelter.” Bushfire are no strangers to a semi-Southern element in their sound, and that remains true on When Darkness Comes from the opening title-track through the later “Another Man Down” and closer “Liberation.” Somewhat curiously, that closer is instrumental, and where the vocals play such a role in the overarching impression the record makes, it’s an interesting twist to have them absent from the final statement, leaving guitarists Marcus Bischoff and Miguel Pereira, bassist Vince and drummer Sascha to finish out on their own. If groove is the measure, they’re certainly up to the task, but then, that was never really in doubt.

Bushfire on Thee Facebooks

Bushfire on Bandcamp

 

Motherslug, The Electric Dunes of Titan

motherslug the electric dunes of titan

I’m sorry. I don’t see how you could dig anything calling itself “stoner” and not be down with what Motherslug are doing with their second long-player, The Electric Dunes of Titan. Plus-sized riffing all over the place, languid rollouts, excursions into psychedelic splendor (see “Followers of the Sun,” etc.), explosions into massive groove (see “Staring at the Sun”), a nod to High on Fire in “Tied to the Mast” and a Sleep-style march on closer “Cave of the Last God” that’s probably the best I’ve heard since the Creedsmen Arise demo in 2015. Really, if Motherslug doesn’t do it for you, nothing will. Five years after they initially released their self-titled EP (review here), which was later expanded into their debut album for NoSlip Records (review here), the Melbourne outfit charge back with what should be a litmus test for riff-heads. In all seriousness, from tone to structure to songwriting to production to the cover art, there’s just nothing here that doesn’t deliver the message. Should’ve been on my best of 2017 list.

Motherslug on Thee Facebooks

Motherslug on Bandcamp

 

Dove, Dove Discography

dove discography

In the wake of Floor’s disbanding, drummer Henry Wilson formed Dove. They were around for about five years, did some touring (one remembers picking up their self-titled in a Manhattan basement with $2 Rolling Rocks calling itself The Pyramid), and disbanded to a cult status not so different from that which Floor enjoyed prior to their own reunion, if to something of a lesser degree. As the title indicates, Dove Discography compiles “every listenable track” the band ever put out, including their self-titled, Wilson’s original demo for the project, compilation and 7” material. All told, it’s 20 tracks and just under an hour of documentation for who Dove were and the kind of punk metal they were about, never quite stoner, but heavy rock to be sure, and definitely of the Floridian ilk that produced both Floor and Cavity and a style Wilson has progressed with House of Lightning. Dove could be blazingly intense or they could plod out a huge riff, holding a deceptively wide purview that was only part of the reason they were so underrated at the time.

Dove on Bandcamp

House of Lightning on Thee Facebooks

 

Treedeon, Under the Manchineel

treedeon under the manchineel

To anyone who might complain that all sludge sounds the same, I humbly submit Treedeon, whose second album for Exile on Mainstream, Under the Manchineel, is a work both noise-laden and righteously avant garde. Perhaps even more ferocious than its 2015 predecessor, Lowest Level Reincarnation (review here), the seven-track/44-minute outing offers a touch of melody in “Breathing a Vein” and buried deep in the midsection of 16-minute closer “Wasicu,” and arguably in guitarist Arne Heesch’s delivery in opener “Cheetoh” as well, but he and bassist Yvonne Ducksworth mostly keep to harsh shouts as they create consuming washes of noise over the madcap drumwork of newcomer Andy Schuenemann, who punctuates every punch of Ducksworth’s gotta-hear-it bass tone on album centerpiece “No Hell” as Heesch goes lands the chorus with the line “No hell can hold me” as its standout line. Bringing a sense of themselves to an established style to a degree that’s rare, rarer, rarest, Treedeon are no less aggressively weird than they are aggressive, period.

Treedeon on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream website

 

Falun Gong, Figure 1

Falun Gong Figure 1

There are some post-Electric Wizard shades that emerge in the debut single from London’s Falun Gong by the time it reaches its feedback-soaked finale, but really, “Figure 1” is much more about digging into its own cultistry than that of the Obornian sort. Still, the overarching impression is somewhat familiar, and will be particularly to those who were fans of The Wounded Kings, but the duo who remain anonymous present themselves with a clearheaded intent toward maximum sonic murk, and with the lumbering misery they trod out in “Figure 1,” they seem to achieve what they’re going for. I don’t know who they are, but I’d guess this isn’t their first band, and as crowded as London’s heavy underground has become over the course of this decade, acts like Falun Gong are fewer and farther between than some others, and during these 10 minutes, they make a striking first impression. One hopes for “Figure 2” sooner rather than later.

Falun Gong on Bandcamp

 

Spider Kitten, Concise and Sinister

http://theobelisk.net/obelisk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/spider-kitten-concise-and-sinister.jpg

Intended as a thematic continuation to some degree of 2016’s Ark of Oktofelis, the four-song Concise and Sinister finds long-running multi-genre UK outfit Spider Kitten bookending two extended crushers around two shorter pieces, one of which is a cover of Hank Williams’ “Alone and Forsaken” (also memorably done by 16 Horsepower) and the other of which is a noise-punk assault that lasts 46 seconds and is called “I’m Feeling So Much Better.” Whether fast or slow, loud or quiet, the intention of Spider Kitten doesn’t seem even at its most abrasive to be to punish so much as to challenge, and whether it’s the cinematic elements dug into the march of opener and longest track (immediate points) “A Glorious Retreat” (11:33) or the harmonies that accompany especially-doomed 10-minute closer “Martyr’s Breath,” Spider Kitten and founder Chi Lameo demonstrate a creativity acknowledging that bounds exist and then simply refusing to accept them, making even the familiar seem unfamiliar in the process.

Spider Kitten on Thee Facebooks

Spider Kitten on Bandcamp

 

Greynbownes, Grey Rainbow from Bones

greynbownes grey rainbow from bones

Comprised of guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Lukas, bassist Martin and drummer Jakub, Greynbownes hail from Moravia in the Czech Republic and the moniker-explaining Grey Rainbow from Bones is their self-issued debut full-length. It is comprised of nine tracks of inventive heavy rock, pulling elements from grunge and ‘90s-era stoner noise on cuts like “Across the Bones” while veering into fare more aggressive, or psychedelic or jammy in the trio of six-minute tracks “Seasons,” “Death of Autumn Leaves” and “B 612” that precedes the closing duo of the funky “Sitting at the Top” and the mellow-but-still-heavy finisher “Weight of Sky,” which feels far removed from the opening salvo of “Boat of Fools,” the fuzz-punker “Madness” and the fuckall-chug of “What is at Stake.” Yes, it’s all over the place, and one might expect Greynbownes’ sound to solidify over time, but to the trio’s credit, Grey Rainbow from Bones never flies apart in the way that it seems at multiple points it might, and that’s an encouraging sign.

Greynbownes on Thee Facebooks

Greynbownes on Bandcamp

 

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Spider Kitten Release Ark of Octofelis April 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

spider kitten

My friends, the United Kingdom is drowning in sludge. Here’s a fun fact: every time you blink, five hardcore bands in London buy tube amps and start listening to Eyehategod. From Newport in South Wales, Spider Kitten are something of an antidote to the abrasion going on in and around England. Their new album — their umpteenth, I believe — is called Ark of Octofelis, and I’ve only heard the song “One from the Heart,” but the impact is immediate. Dense fuzz pervades a heavy psychedelic roll while from out of all that tone comes a sci-fi social commentary that seems to unfold across the album’s span. They’re not a new band by any stretch of the imagination — 2016 makes it 15 years, reportedly — but sometimes an idea has to be around for a while before its time comes, and this might just be Spider Kitten‘s time.

Album is out April 29 on Undergroove RecordsSpider Kitten will play Desertfest London 2016, as was first noted here last month and as confirmed below by the PR wire:

spider kitten ark of octofelis

SPIDER KITTEN confirm release of new album Ark Of Octofelis and DesertFest London appearance

Ark Of Octofelis by Spider Kitten is released worldwide through Undergroove Records on 29th April 2016, and the band will appear at DesertFest London (29th April – 1st May)

There are some bands whose sound would benefit less from a description and more from a comprehensive lab test, and Newport, South Wales’ legendary anti-heroes Spider Kitten is most definitely one such band.

Signing to Undergroove in 2014 for the release of their last full-length Behold Mountain, Hail Sea, Venerate Sky, Bow Before Tree, new album Ark Of Octofelis is the end product of eight months writing and recording during sessions that saw the band trade straight-up doom for headier, astral climes. Amon Düül II, King Crimson and an unmistakable Floydian influence permeate the record, which, over two tracks explore one conceptual theme. A theme driven by malevolent and authoritarian powers, unexplained goings-on in the desert and a local psychedelic rock band’s quest to recapture the landscape.

Produced by vocalist and guitar player Chi Lameo – who originally founded the band back in 2001 – while Spider Kitten’s experiments with sound may have continually progressed, one thing that hasn’t changed is their approach to making music. Whether recording demos, EPs or full-length albums, their furiously DIY ethic is as dogged now as it’s ever been. With frightening prolificacy they have amassed a back catalogue that swallows a universe of styles ranging from proto-grunge and heavy psychedelia to doom and industrial noise. All drowned in the influence of artists as diverse as Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Leonard Cohen, The Melvins and the dirtiest miscellany of Sub Pop’s early output.

While Spider Kitten have both expanded and contracted their line-up in recent times to accommodate their ambitions, their live line-up currently consists of Lameo, drummer and former Taint member Chris West, guitarist Gareth Day and bass player Steve Jones. The quartet will take to the stage this year at London’s DesertFest (29th April – 1st May) and appear alongside the likes of Electric Wizard, Corrosion Of Conformity, Crowbar and Godflesh.

Ark Of Octofelis by Spider Kitten will be released worldwide through Undergroove Records on 29th April 2016.

Spider Kitten:
Chi Lameo – Vocals, Guitar
Chris West – Drums, Vocals
Steve Jones – Bass
Gareth Day – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/spdrkttn/
https://twitter.com/spider_kitten
http://www.spiderkitten.co.uk/
https://spiderkitten.bandcamp.com/
http://undergroove.bigcartel.com/

Spider Kitten, “One from the Heart” from Ark of Octofelis (2016)

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Deserfest London 2016: Final Headliner Announced and Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Well, that’s a wrap for Desertfest London 2016… unless, you know, you count the actual holding of the fest in April. Which you should probably count. Okay, maybe not a wrap at all.

But the lineup is complete, and that’s something in itself. Spanning genres and geographical borders, I feel like this year’s Desertfest London perfectly emphasizes just how much this festival has grown in its five years into this encompassing celebration of heavy rock, sludge and doom, holding firm to its local roots even in this last batch of bands, while also expanding its reach in pulling legendary acts from beyond the UK and Europe as well.

Russian Circles will headline the second of Desertfest London 2016’s three dog nights, and a slew of others have joined the bill as well, including Mondo DragStinking Lizaveta, underrated Londoners Crystal HeadSiena Root and many more details below:

desertfest london 2016 poster

DESERTFEST LONDON: lineup complete with Russian Circles headlining the Saturday!

Russian Circles to headline the fifth edition of DESERTFEST LONDON this spring in Camden!

It’s finally here: your complete DESERTFEST LONDON 2016 line-up has arrived! Chicago’s majestic instrumental progsters Russian Circles are set to headline the Saturday night with Pelican as lead support. Not only that, but we have the mighty forefathers of doom Trouble celebrating their 30th anniversary with a very special show for us, just before Electric Wizard bring down the Sunday night curtain in style! See you all in April…

Desertfest is all about our passion for heavy music, our love through deep-rooted friendships and above all, our collective appreciation of diversity, musical skill and the broadest range of powerful performances…

RUSSIAN CIRCLES are not from the desert, they’re not exponents of standard 5-minute, 4-4 rock songs and they expose their soundscapes exclusively for us to form our own interpretations without the mask of any form of lyrics. Shrouded in darkness, illuminated only by flashes of white light and the occasionally projected visual, they’re performers worthy of headlining any show in front of an audience who have the ability to think before they roar. With fellow instrumental crusher-destroyers PELICAN primed and ready as their main support, get ready to see, smell and FEEL the sheer weight of these swirls of Siberia.

Desertfest is also proudly joining in with Chicago doom legends TROUBLE’s 30th anniversary celebrations. Original members Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell will be touching the sky with their classic dual guitar leads and now-established front man Kyle Thomas (Alabama Thunderpussy, Floodgate, Exhorder) will be tempting the crowds with his prayers for the dead, it’s going to be a real mind bender!

The rest of final announcement for Desertfest London 2016 goes as follows:
SIENA ROOT
STINKING LIZAVETA
DYSE
MANTAR
MONDO DRAG
GURT
NECRO DEATHMORT
CAROUSEL
THE MOTH
CRYSTAL HEAD
SPIDER KITTEN
SEDULUS
BEASTMAKER
DOG DAYS

– DESERTFEST LONDON 2016 –
April 29th to May 1st in Camden, London (UK)
Weekend tickets available AT THIS LOCATION

https://www.leedstickets.com/eventinfo/4804/Desertfest-2016
http://www.thedesertfest.com/london/
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://instagram.com/desertfest
http://desertfest.bigcartel.com/

Russian Circles, Live at Saint Vitus Bar 2014

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