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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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Spotlights Announce Spiders EP Due Dec. 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

spotlights

Brooklyn heavy post-rock duo Spotlights made their full-length debut earlier this year on Crowquill Records with Tidals, an album that earned them a support slot on a summer tour for Deftones and Refused — because the ’90s — and considerable acclaim besides. I’ll actually have it in the next Quarterly Review, which will be kind of a stuff-I-should’ve-already-written-about wrap-up for 2016, hopefully at the end of next month, between Xmas and New Year’s. You know, when the rest of the universe is spending time with family and relaxing and deciding what promises they’re going to make to themselves and break in a month. Wow. Shit got dark quick there. Apologies. I’m sure we’ll all keep our promises.

Though some of us are still just catching up to it, Spotlights are moving past their first album already with a new EP titled Spiders that will be out Dec. 9. It’s got three tracks, an original, a Mew cover that’s streaming below, and a remix by Aaron Harris, formerly of Isis, and some blinding cover art. The PR wire sent info along for your perusal and mine.

And really, 2017’s gonna be a good year. I’d ask how much worse it could possibly get, but I think we all know the answer to that question.

Here goes:

spotlights-spiders

SPOTLIGHTS: dream-rockers resurface with “Spiders” EP

Heavy dream-rockers Spotlights resurface with a new 3-song EP, Spiders, to be released December 9th.

The Brooklyn-based married couple made waves earlier this year with the release of debut full-length Tidals and a summer US tour supporting Deftones and Refused.

New EP Spiders consists of a reworking of an older Spotlights song, a cover of a song by Danish band Mew, and a remix of one of Tidals’ tracks, by former Isis drummer Aaron Harris.

December 9th, Spiders will be available directly from the band in the US, in digital and CD formats. Spiders and Tidals will both see a UK/European release via Plastic Head Distribution.

Tracklist:
1) A Box of Talking Heads
2) She Spider (Mew)
3) Joseph (Aaron Harris remix)

Spotlights is:
Sarah Quintero – Bass/Guitar/Vocals
Mario Quintero – Guitar/Synths/Vocals
Josh Cooper – Drums (Live)

https://www.facebook.com/spotlightsband
https://twitter.com/Spotlightsband
http://spotlights.bandcamp.com/
http://crowquillrecords.com/

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Freak Valley 2016: Spiders and Sons of Huns Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 17th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

freak valley 2016 banner

I’ve had a pretty good thing so far going staying on top of the announcements as they’ve come out for Freak Valley 2016, and I’ll go ahead and blame the fact that I was traveling last week for my having missed the news that Portland, Oregon-based RidingEasy rockers Sons of Huns will take part. Better late than never, and especially so when their addition can come coupled with the significantly fresher news that Swedish boogie specialists Spiders have also joined the lineup.

Unless they put out a new one between now and then, which is entirely possible, Sons of Huns will be abroad supporting their 2015 album, While Sleeping Stay Awake (review here). Spiders‘ latest offering is 2014’s Shake Electric as of now, but I seem to recall seeing someplace they had a follow-up in the works. Even if not, they certainly have plenty going on otherwise. This week they head out in the UK alongside Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and in January, they will join Graveyard on the second leg of their US tour.

Announcements follow, courtesy of Freak Valley:

*** SPIDERS & SONS OF HUNS added to Freak Valley Festival line-up 2016 ***

Sprung out of Gothenburg, Sweden, the four piece rock-outfit Spiders has since their critically acclaimed debut album Flashpoint been one of the hardest touring bands in the business. Their MC5 -inspired glampunk honours rock history in their own unique way and has taken the band multiple mile after mile around the globe, both as a headliner and as support for Kvelertak, Metallica and the friends from Graveyard.

Actually they are supporting Uncle Acid and the deadbeats on their massive European tour. Spiders are crawling in a swift pace towards the top!

The beautiful he poster by Jo Riou Graphic Designer is dedicated to Louis. He’s a 5 year old child who lost his mother (who was a friend of Jo) and his grandmother in the Paris attacks some days ago. He collected his posters in his bedroom…

We are thrilled to announce, that the Portland heavy riffin trio SONS OF HUNS are coming to Europe for the very first time to play FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL!!

In a city like Portland, Oregon, where there are quite literally hundreds of people playing heavy music – and playing it well, at that – it takes a bold, tightly-honed punch to the crowd’s ears in order to stand out. Formed in the winter of 2009 and armed with a full stack of Orange cabs, a lifetime of experience and enough classical training to out-riff any band that dares stand in their SG-wielding path, Sons of Huns [RidingEasy Records] have consistently blown crowds away. Peter Hughes of DANAVA fame (guitar), Shoki Tanabe (bass) and Ryan Northrop (drums) have headlined shows in anywhere from tiny bars to the main stages of Portland’s biggest music festivals.

Throughout their reign in the Pacific Northwest music scene, Sons of Huns have become widely known for their ability to turn every live show into a sci-fi, psychedelic-rock party and livening the spirit of every crowd with their jokes and unforgiving volume.

Freak Valley Festival – 26th-27th-28th May 2016
www.freakvalley.de www.rockfreaks.de

FVF 3-day tickets – only 69€ incl. camping!!

TICKETS are selling like Rock Freak Records vinlys already. Available @ www.freakvalley.de and Woolheads

Your chance: next Saturday @ Vortex Surfer Musikclub: DeWolff & Ape Machine & The Dead-End Alley Band / https://www.facebook.com/events/659536650849596/

FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL: No Fillers – Just Killers

Line-up 2016:
Dead Meadow [US] – Psychedelic Stonerrock
Baby Woodrose [DK]- Psychedelic Garagerock
Lonely Kamel [NO]- Heavy Blues, Hardrock & Stoner
Rotor [D] – Instrumental StonerRock/Psychedelic
Monolord [SW] – Doom/Sludge
Farflung [US] – Spacerock for 21st Century Heads
The Golden Grass [US]- Heavy/Funk/Boogie/Psychedelic/Freakbeat
Spiders [SW] – Hard/Glam Rock
Son of Huns [US] – Heavy Riffin Rock

…more tba very soon

www.freakvalley.de
https://www.facebook.com/freakvalley
https://twitter.com/FreakValley
https://shop.ticketscript.com/channel/web2/start-order/rid/LYSQRABJ/language/en

Spiders, “Shake Electric” official video

Sons of Huns, While Sleeping Stay Awake (2015)

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Vincebus Eruptum No. 15 Now Available

Posted in Reviews on May 8th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Hold onto your ears, eyes and wallet, because Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum is back with Issue No. 15, the latest on their ongoing effort to expand consciousness of the worldwide heavy underground. Printed on high-quality paper stock with a thicker, glossier feel than ever before, Vincebus Eruptum earns even more respect for keeping analog in a digital world. As someone who works for a “living” in print media, I have a hard time checking out this mag every time it comes in and not being insanely jealous of editor Davide “Davidew” Pansolin and his staff’s free-ranging will to explore the depths and uncover new and awesome bands.

This time around, the focus is as ever on the European heavy sphere. The one US-based band interviewed is Carlton Melton, from California, but with Ireland’s Electric Taurus, Scotland’s The Cosmic Dead, Swedish acts Skånska Mord and Spiders, and Italy’s own Doctor Cyclops (Vincebus Eruptum is famously supportive of its native scene and rightly so), there’s a decent spread of styles and geography. Not being familiar with a few of those names — Carlton Melton, Electric Taurus — it was cool to get to know them before I got to know them, and as ever, the reviews section reads like a wishlist in the making, with records from Karma to Burn, Vibravoid and Eternal Elysium alongside recent outings from less known names like Mombu, Orrenda Acciaieria and Sendelica — the very first release on the ‘zine’s own Vincebus Eruptum Recordings.

Kudos to Davidew and company for branching out — and for very subtly informing their readership that they’ve done so — but for anyone who’d really want to dig into the European underground, Vincebus Eruptum #15 offers the “Stoned Handbook” guide to the German scene. Put together in collaboration with Stonerrock.eu, it’s a list of bands, venues, promotion outlets and labels, that might not look very in-depth on the surface, but nonetheless provides an excellent research platform from which to explore, and whether you wind up checking out Ahab or Low Gravity Circus or Zone Six as a result, you’re not going to lose out, and by just providing the list like they do, Vincebus Eruptum actually plays it pretty smart in understanding how print and online media can work together: “Here’s what you should be Googling next,” and so forth. Awesome.

I’ve made overtures of my ongoing respect for the pub before, and that continues for this latest issue, and even if you look at the quality of people taking out ads — Sulatron, Small Stone, Elektrohasch, DesertfestGo Down, Heavy Psych Sounds — it’s a testament to the quality of Vincebus Eruptum that they’re thriving in an age where print media is supposedly in full decline. Right on and keep up the great work. It continues to be a pleasure each time a new edition shows up.

Carlton Melton, “Space Treader” from Photos of Photos (2012)

Vincebus Eruptum’s website

Vincebus Eruptum BigCartel store

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audiObelisk: Listen to Roadburn 2012 Audio Streams from AUN, Dark Buddha Rising, Dopethrone, End of Level Boss, Necros Christos, Saturnalia Temple, Spiders and The Wounded Kings

Posted in audiObelisk on June 26th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn audio stream season continues today with the next batch of sets recorded at this year’s fest at the 013 popcentrum and Het Patronaat in gorgeous Tilburg, the Netherlands. Any excuse to relive those four days back in April and I’ll take it. Thanks as always to Walter and the Roadburn crew and to Marcel van de Vondervoort for overseeing the recording process.

Please enjoy:

AUNRoadburn 2012

Dark Buddha RisingRoadburn 2012

DopethroneRoadburn 2012

End of Level BossRoadburn 2012

Necros ChristosRoadburn 2012

Saturnalia TempleRoadburn 2012

SpidersRoadburn 2012

The Wounded KingsRoadburn 2012

Read The Obelisk’s coverage of Roadburn 2012 here.

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