Quarterly Review: Ufomammut, Horehound, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Glacier, MNRVA, Coroza, Noosed, zhOra

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Oh hi, I didn’t see you there. Earlier this week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and yes, even Wednesday — the alarm went off at 4AM as usual and I got up, got coffee going and a protein bar and sat down to write, starting basically around quarter-after with a quick email check and whatnot. In terms of basic timing, this last morning of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review is no different. I even have the baby monitor streaming on my phone as I would most mornings, so I can keep an eye on when The Pecan gets up. What’s changed is I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Oslo, Norway, having just arrived on an overnight flight from Newark. Managed to sleep some on the plane and I’m hopeful adrenaline will pick up the rest of the slack as regards getting through the day. That and caffeine, anyhow.

Although, speaking of, my debit card doesn’t work and I’ll need to sort that out.

First thing’s first, and that’s reviews. Last batch of 10 for the week. We made it. Thanks as always for reading and being a part of this thing. Let’s wrap it up in style, and because I like working on a theme, three Irish bands in a row close out. Hey, I went to Ireland this year.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ufomammut, XX

UFOMAMMUT XX

Five years ago, Roman cosmic doom masters Ufomammut took a reflective look back at their career for its 15th anniversary with the documentary/live-performance DVD XV (review here). And since one might define the arc of their tenure as constantly trying to top themselves, for their 20th anniversary, they’ve issued a 12LP boxed set, titled simply XX, that compiles their nine albums to-date and tops them off with the mostly-subdued-style XX itself, which reimagines past cacophonies like “Mars” and “Plouton” in a quieter context. That part of the mega-offering issued through their own Supernatural Cat imprint comprises six songs recorded live and makes highlights out of the hypnotic strum and incantations of “Satan” as well as the rumbling drone of “Lacrimosa,” which takes on new emotional resonance for the shoegazy treatment it receives. I’ve said on multiple occasions throughout the years that Ufomammut are a band to be treasured, and I stand by that 100 percent. The XX box should be perceived by fans as an opportunity to do likewise.

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Supernatural Cat website

 

Horehound, Weight

horehound weight

Less than a year after issuing their second long-player in the form of Holocene (review here) through Blackseed and Doom Stew Records, Pittsburgh atmosludgers Horehound align with DHU Records for the two-song 8″ EP Weight, which brings “Unbind” and “The Heavy,” two new cuts that, while I’m not sure they weren’t recorded at the same time as the last album — that is, they may have been — they nonetheless showcase the emergent melodic breadth and instrumental ambience that is developing in their sound. Even as “Unbind” rolls toward its low-end tempo kick, it does so with marked patience and a willingness to stay slow until just the right moment, which is not something every band cane effectively do. “The Heavy,” meanwhile, builds itself around a Crowbar-style dirge riff before Shy Kennedy‘s verse arrives as a standalone element, all the instruments around her dropping out from behind. That moment alone, frankly, is worth the price of admission, as whether it’s through that extra inch in diameter of the platter itself or through the audio of the tracks in question, Horehound continue to distinguish themselves.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records BigCartel store

 

Lingua Ignota, CALIGULA

LINGUA IGNOTA CALIGULA

I’m not sure I’m qualified to write about Lingua Ignota‘s CALIGULA (on Profound Lore), but I’m not sure anyone else is either. Like a self-harmonizing mega-Jarboe turning existential horror into epic proclamations of “I don’t eat/I don’t sleep” on “DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR?” amid bass throb and terrifying melodic layering before making bedroom black metal sound like the lightweight self-indulgence it’s always been on the subsequent check-out-the-real-shit “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” Kristin Hayter‘s work is little short of experimentalist brilliance. She is minimal and yet over-the-top, open in creative terms but unwaveringly dark and rife with melody but severe to the point now and again of true aural abrasion. She weaves a context of her own into “FUCKING DEATHDEALER” as she recalls the lyrics to the aforementioned “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” while the outright brutality of “SPITE ALONE HOLDS ME ALOFT” is married to a piano-led meditation that, even without the noise wash from whence it comes, is enough to recast visions of what heavy is and can be in musical terms. I won’t pretend to get all the references like “kyrie eleison” (“lord have mercy”) worked into “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL” and the violent strains surrounding, but it’s impossible not to realize the power of what you’re hearing when you listen.

Lingua Ignota on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Zentrum

valborg zentrum

With an intensity born out of a history of industrial music and focus on tight rhythms making an impact in even-tighter songwriting, Valborg are neither beholden to death metal nor entirely separate from it, but their style has taken on a life of its own over the course of the last 10 years, and their latest offering, Zentrum (on Prophecy Productions), is the German trio’s most individualized take yet, whether that’s shown in the unbridled melodicism of “Anomalie,” the sludgy riff that drives the barking “Ultragrab” or the seemingly unrelenting snare pops of “Kreuzer” that, even when they finally release that tension, still make it only a temporary reprieve. Valborg‘s sense of control through the epic “Nonnenstern” should not be understated, and though the track is under four minutes long, yes, “epic” very much applies. Suitably enough, they close with “Vakuum” and throw everything at the listener at once before resolving in relatively peaceful atmospherics that could just as easily serve as an introduction to the next round of malice to come, whenever it shows up.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions webstore

 

Sageness, Akmé

sageness akme

Spanish trio Sageness — also written SageNESS — conjure smooth Electric Moon-style soundscapes on their second album, Akmé, and yes, that is a compliment. The record brings forth six tracks of easy-rolling instrumentalist jam-based heavy psychedelia that offer much and take little in return, the richness of the guitar tone from Dawyz and Michi‘s bass given jazzy fluidity by Fran‘s drumming. “Ephemeral” touches most directly on a Colour Haze, as it would almost have to, but even there, the feeling of spaciousness that Sageness present in the recording is a factor that helps them come across as more individual. Earlier, “The Thought” is a little more directly space rock, but opener “Andromeda” seems to be charting the course with its liquefied effects and somehow-even-more-liquefied groove, and if you can’t get down with that, I’ve got nothing for you and neither does the rest of the universe.

Sageness on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records website

 

Glacier, No Light Ever

glacier no light ever

It’s not exactly true, about their being no light ever on Boston post-metallers Glacier‘s latest full-length, No Light Ever. Sure, it’s plenty dark and heavy and brooding and all that fun stuff, and the riffs get loud and the drums break stuff and all that, but it’s certainly colorful in its way as well, and more than just shades of black on black. Comprised of four tracks cumbersomely titled in keeping with the traditions of the likes of Red Sparowes and the band’s own past work, cuts like “O World! I Remain No Longer Here.” and “The Bugles Blow, Fanned by Hysteria.” stretch themselves out along a scope as massive as the tonality the band emits, and as the wash of “We Glut Our Souls on the Accursed,” — the comma is part of the title there — gives way to feedback and the onset of “And We Are Damned Amid Noble Sound.” the sense of immersion is complete and clear as the priority under which they’re working. It’s about the whole album, or at least the two sides, as a unified work, and about crafting a world through the atmosphere evoked in the material. It works. If they say there’s no light in that world, so be it. It’s whatever they want it to be.

Glacier on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records webstore

 

MNRVA, Black Sky

mnrva black sky

Not-entirely-bereft-of-vowels South Carolina heavy trio MNRVA make their debut with the three-song EP Black Sky, a beast of a short release led by the riffs of guitarist Byron Hark on a stretch of ’90s-style crunch and sludge, with bassist/vocalist Kevin Jennings and drummer Gina Ercolini adding to the weight and shove of the proceedings, respectively. “Not the One” has the hook, “No Solution” has the impact and the title-track has both, and though I’m by no means saying the issue of their sound is settled 100 percent and they won’t grow or find their way from this — again, their debut — EP, they do prove to be well in charge of where their songs head in terms of mood and the atmosphere that comes through elements like the blown-out vocals and the rumbling bass beneath the lead guitar in the second half of “Black Sky” itself. Indeed, it’s those harsher aspects that help MNRVA immediately establish their individuality, and the vibe across these 18-plus minutes is that the punishment is only getting started.

MNRVA on Thee Facebooks

MNRVA on Bandcamp

 

Coroza, Chaliceburner

coroza chaliceburner

Just because Irish four-piece Coroza — guitarist/vocalists Ciaran Coghlan and Jack O’Neill, bassist/vocalist Jonny Canning and drummer Ollie Cunningham — might write a song that’s 18 minutes long, that doesn’t mean they forgot to actually make it a song as well. Thus it is that extended cuts like “The Plutonian Drug” (18:24) and closer “Iron from the Sky” (19:30) have plenty of room to flesh out their more progressive aspects amid the other three also-kind-of-extended pieces on Chaliceburner, the group’s ambitious hour-plus/five-track debut full-length. Each song essentially becomes a front-to-back movement on its own, with shifts between singers arranged thoughtfully from one part to the next and hooks along the way to serve as landmarks for those traversing, as in the opening “Chaliceburner” or the gruff winding moments of “Mountain Jaw,” which follows the nine-minute sax-inclusive centerpiece “Scaltheen,” because of course there’s a saxophone in there somewhere. All of this is a recipe for a band biting off more than they can chew stylistically, but Coroza manage pretty well the various twists and turns of their own making, particularly considering it’s their first album.

Coroza on Thee Facebooks

Coroza on Bandcamp

 

Noosed, She of the Woods

noosed she of the woods demo

Encased front and back by witchy samples and creepy vibes, Sept. 2019’s She of the Woods is the second demo in two months to come from Cork, Ireland’s Noosed. And you know it when they get around to the closing seven-minute title-track because it’s just about the only thing other than “Intro” that isn’t raging with grind intensity, but that stuff can be fun too. I don’t know how much witch-grind-doom is out there, but Noosed‘s first, self-titled demo (released in August) had a sludgy edge that seems to have separated out to some degree here into a multifaceted personality. Can one possibly be certain of the direction the band will ultimately take? Shit no. It’s two demos with basically no time differential between them. But if they can effectively bridge the gap between “Fuck Up,” “Wretch” and “She of the Woods,” or even play directly with the contrast, they could be onto something with all this noise and fuckall.

Noosed on Thee Facebooks

Noosed on Bandcamp

 

zhOra, Ruthless Bastards

zhora ruthless bastards

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it such that Irish four-piece zhOra wanted to do something less complicated than was their 2017 album, Ethos, Pathos, Logos (discussed here), so they went ahead and wrote a song that’s five minutes long and purposefully hops between subgenres, going from sludge to doom to a deathcore breakdown, with a snare-pop count-in, to blackened death metal and then back to a lumbering chug to finish out. Okay, zhOra, “Ruthless Bastards” is a an awful lot of metal and an awfully good time, but you missed the mark on “simple” by a considerable margin. If indeed the band had been plotting toward something, say, easier to play or to compose, “Ruthless Bastards” ain’t it. They’ll have to settle for being brutal as fuck instead. Something tells me they’ll survive having made that trade, as much as anything will.

zhOra on Thee Facebooks

zhOra on Bandcamp

 

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GIVEAWAY: Download Viaje a 800’s Estampida de Trombones for Free

Posted in Features on August 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

viaje a 800 estampida de trombones reissue

This coming weekend, the kinda-reunited Andalusian outfit Viaje a 800 — who for my money are one of heavy rock’s all-time most underrated bands, period — will take the stage at SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal. With members having moved on to outfits like Atavismo and Híbrido over the years, the reemergence of Viaje a 800 is all the more a special event, and Spinda Records, which has overseen reissues of their first two albums, 2001’s Diablo Roto De… and 2007’s Estampida de Trombones, has rightly decided to celebrate.

Spinda put out Estampida de Trombones on vinyl last year and from the opening riff of “Los Ángeles Q Hay En Mi Piel,” the album’s moody sensibility and melodic/rhythmic intricacy comes through with a subtly progressive flourish. It’s heavy and definitively of Spanish folk lineage as much as it’s psychedelic and far-ranging, and yet, more than the debut, the second record had a dark streak in its guitar and hooks, something tense that carried through it as a thread uniting the songs. It’s not a vibe I’ve ever heard anyone do in quite the same way, and if you don’t know the album, you should.

Accordingly, here are 20 download codes courtesy of Spinda. Start at the top of the list, and if that one doesn’t work, just keep cutting and pasting until one does. If the last one doesn’t, well, I guess they’re all gone. You can still listen to the album via the stream below, but I think you’ll agree when you do it’s one you’ll want to have on hand, so don’t hesitate.

Go get ’em:

mq3s-erz9
98xp-3skz
yucg-clt6
y5j3-wa3k
y8gl-hbc9
tzu4-vw4t
ty5j-gweb
tt88-b4rw
jl4t-kqvr
6cp3-6ztd
nhfw-kzuh
lqd4-66mv
484q-yk98
eus7-bk6n
gwjd-c99j
3sgs-x86k
aquc-e2z9
8gwe-3dkz
hkk9-jblb
jnyz-ycvw

Redeem at: http://spindarecords.bandcamp.com/yum

Viaje a 800, Estampida de Trombones reissue (2018)

Viaje a 800 on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records on Bandcamp

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The Dry Mouths Stream Memories from Pines Bridge in Full; Album out Tomorrow

Posted in audiObelisk on April 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the dry mouths

The Dry Mouths release their sixth full-length, Memories from Pines Bridge, tomorrow, April 5. For those familiar with the Almeria-based trio’s past work, it will no doubt seem like something of a departure from their generally straightforward desert-rocking songcraft, which may or may not be rooted in jams, but ultimately pushes much farther out here in songs like “Impromental VII – Moustachette,” a nine-minute off-the-cuff exploration of canyon echoes and cymbal wash, or the earlier “Low Savvia,” which brings a bit of thicker distortion to the dream-toned modus of Yawning Man. The instrumental outing is a departure even just for its lack of vocals, but the resonant tonality and the adventurous spirit of the sonic interaction between the three-piece of guitarist/thereminist Christ O. Rodrigues, bassist Andrés Reyes and drummer Josh Morales makes it a joyful undertaking despite the tragic circumstances of its arrival following the death of Reyes in February.

Memories from Pines Bridge is one of two albums The Dry Mouths will reportedly release in 2019 in that most unfortunate of contexts, and while there hasn’t been any information given on whether it will follow the band’s more established methodology or the the dry mouths memories from pines bridgepattern set forth by these tracks, there’s no denying that what they’re doing here works. With Rodrigues‘ guitar drifting outward in pieces like “Promenade” or “Mangai Maroke” or conjuring desert visions in opener “La Chasseure,” or delving into minimalist ambience on “Bootha,” there’s a sense of patterning behind most of what the band are doing here. With the exception of the aforementioned “Impromental VII – Moustachette” and “El Cairo ’78” right before it, most of the tracks are under five minutes long, and the theremin-laced “L’Enfer” is 63 seconds, so while they range far in the nine songs, it’s still just a 40-minute outing, and that too feels purposeful. Songs ease their way in and gently fade out, like the penultimate “Bootha” or “El Cairo ’78” after “L’Enfer,” and even when The Dry Mouths build a wash, they do so with patience and melodic emphasis. It sounds like it was a joy to make, and that carries into the execution of the songs themselves, as well as the listening experience.

Immersion is the key. Hypnosis is the key. The Dry Mouths are issuing an invitation to get lost with them. Closer “La Siesta (Sleep Paralysis)” has a little bit of a darker foundation, but the vast, vast majority of Memories from Pines Bridge is dedicated to sweetly melodic instrumentalist passages of these fleeting musical ideas that weave their way in and out fluidly as the album progresses. It’s the kind of record that is exceedingly easy to put on and lose time with. “What just happened?” and on it goes again. Its blend of plotted material and improv keeps things moving in a way that adds a subtle sense of variety, and no matter where the band seems to head, they’re able to bring the listener along with them for the ride. And their scope is pretty broad while being tethered to its desert rock foundation, so while you might get lost in listening to it, the band are never really any more lost than they want to be in their playing.

With the release tomorrow, I’m thrilled today to be able to host the full stream of Memories from Pines Bridge. And whether their next outing is a return to their prior form or another willful excursion into the unknown along these lines, the fact remains that they’ve brought something special to light in these tracks — and no, I don’t just mean the theremin, though that’s always fun — and that despite the loss of Reyes following the sessions for this and the impending follow-up, the work will always remain a moment worthy of celebration.

Please enjoy:

‘Memories From Pines Bridge’ is the sixth album by the Almerians The Dry Mouths. It is a 40-minute LP composed of 9 tracks performed live as “jam sessions” and instrumental passages of psycho-hypnotic character.

“Our intention is to create a sound sensation with which to delve into the mind towards memories of a past that we long for, whose memory is far away in a sensation that vanishes, that sometimes surfaces, and makes us relive experiences that still remain in our unconscious , that make us who we are, that represent the harshness of our lives…” — The Dry Mouths

‘Memories From Pines Bridge’ is the first of two albums that the band will release in 2019, after the tragic death of bassist Andrés Reyes earlier this year. Both works had previously been recorded and mixed by Chris O. Rodrigues, Josh Morales and Andy Reyes himself.

The artwork of the album is a work by Iván Carreño (who already worked with the band in 2018 in ‘When The Water Smells Of Sweat’). This new work will be published in CD format and in a careful edition on transparent vinyl by co-editing between the labels Spinda Records, Aneurisma Records, Surnia Records, Zona Rock Productions, Monasterio de Cultura and Odio Sonoro.

TRACK-LIST
1. La Chaussure
2. Low Savvia
3. MangaiMakore
4. L’Enfer
5. ElCairo78
6. Impromental VII – Moustachette
7. Promenade
8. Bootha
9. La Siesta (Sleep Paralysis)

The Dry Mouths are: Andy Reyes (bajos), Christ O. Rodrigues (guitarras and theremin) and Josh Morales (batería).
Recorded at Sonobalance Studio by Víctor Ortíz, Alberto Chamorro and Daniel Ruíz.
Mixed at Desert City Studio by Christ O. Rodrigues, Andy Reyes and Josh Morales.
Mastered at Kadifornia Mastering by Mario G. Alberni.

The Dry Mouths website

The Dry Mouths on Thee Facebooks

The Dry Mouths on YouTube

The Dry Mouths on Bandcamp

Spinda Records website

Aneurisma Records website

Surnia Records website

Zona Rock Productions on Thee Facebooks

Monasterio de Cultura website

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Doctor Sax Premieres “Sille” Video; Ellis EP out Feb. 11

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

doctor sax

So, it would seem Txus Dr. Sax, aka Doctor Sax, aka the vocalist of Arenna, is a big reader. Awesome. The world could probably use a couple more of them. Across three full-lengths under the moniker of Dr. Sax (or with “Doctor” spelled out; either seems cool), the good doctor has explored a world of literature from William S. Burroughs and Charles Baudelaire to Roberto Bolaño and, Rimbaud and Aldus Huxley. I might recommend he hit up some Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut, but beyond that, it’s hard to argue with the canon. It becomes particularly relevant to his new EP, Ellis, because up to now, all of his songs have been titled for authors’ last names: “Poe,” and “Wilde,” and “Arbulú” and so on. Ellis, which is the first Doctor Sax EP, would seem to depart from that approach.

That’s not a small change after three records, but unless “Sille” and its companion “Llise” — bothdoctor sax ellis anagrams of the EP’s title — are figures in literature I’ve never heard of, which is certainly possible, the EP looks to be Doctor Sax branching in a new direction. That notion further manifests in the arrangement of “Sille” itself, as Doctor Sax — who works with producers Koldo and Jabolo Sagastume as he did for 2016’s Vol. III —  explores a marked depth of arrangement involving cello and viola, percussion, harmonica and sundry effects around the foundation of acoustic guitar and vocals, taking the folk-style approach he’s brought to past material and expanding it outward in terms of atmosphere across the nearly-nine-minute song. “Llise,” at just under seven minutes, is somewhat more grounded and solo-feeling, but even that turns to looped guitar to develop a musical conversation with itself, its largely instrumental progression building as it moves forward to some vocals and tambourine late in the track.

In the video for “Sille” below, you can see Doctor Sax himself recording that part. It ends in laughter, which is fair enough. The whole clip seems to have been shot as the “Sille” and “Llise” were put together in the studio, and it captures the spirit of creativity at the heart of the material. It’s hard to gauge ultimately whether Ellis represents a new modus for Doctor Sax overall or is a kind of experimentalist one-off left-turn — the answer may indeed be at your local library — but there’s no denying the soul put into “Sille” and watching it unfold in the studio setting in the video below, the joy of its making is palpable.

Ellis is out Feb. 11 on Spinda Records, Cosmic Tentacles and Olarizu Records.

Hope you dig it:

Doctor Sax, “Sille” official video premiere

The EP is the fourth album by Arenna’s singer Doctor Sax:
‘Mantras Of The Rainy Night” (2012)
‘Vol. II’ (2014)
‘Vol. III’ (2016)
‘Ellis’ (2019)
Release date: 11th February 2019 (Spinda Records, Cosmic Tentacles and Olarizu Records)
Pre-order now available at https://drsax.bandcamp.com

Doctor Sax is:
Doctor Sax: Vocals and guitar
Guille: Percussion
Imanol Mtz. Hervias: Viola
David Sagastume: Cello and handclaps
Koldo Sagastume: Handclaps

Dr. Sax on Bandcamp

Cosmic Tentacles on Bandcamp

Spinda Records website

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Híbrido Stream I in Full; Out Monday on Spinda Records

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hibrido

Jan. 21 marks the release date of (review here), the debut album from Spanish psych-prog four-piece Híbrido. It’ll be out through Spinda Records and is aptly-named both in terms of being the band’s first release and for their being a hybrid of influences and ideas. The lineage is complicated, but Algeciras, where the band is based, has played host to a heavy rock and psych scene for decades spearheaded in no small part by Híbrido‘s members. Guitarist Jose Angel “Oceano” Galindo and bassist Jose “Pot” Moreno played together in a group called Viaje a 800, who released their final studio album, Coñac Oxigenado (review here), in 2012. Moreno would go on to form Atavismo with drummer Sandri Pow, who had also played in the space-rocking Mind!. If you haven’t heard them, Atavismo‘s releases to-date — 2018’s Valdeinfierno EP (review here), 2017’s Inerte (review here) and 2014’s Desintegración (review here) — are increasingly progressive gems that presage some of the ground MorenoPow and Galindo cover as well in Híbrido, working alongside Los Bradlys guitarist Zoa Rubio.

It’s a complicated family tree — and I’m by no means claiming that’s the entire narrative of it — but even if you were to go back and listen to Viaje a 800Los BradlysAtavismo or Mind!, that wouldn’t really give you a full picture of what’s happening with Híbrido, in no small part because that doesn’t seem to be an entirely settled issue. That players so familiar with each other could manage to turn around a record that sounds so much like a debut is an accomplishment in and of itself, but indeed, one of the great strengths of I is the promise it shows for future development, hibrido iand that’s in the harmonies of the Floydian apex of the 13-minute “Le Pilules Vertes” as well as the quick turns and the fuzzy hook of “Nada, Nadie,” which follows the previously-premiered opener “Pensando en un Eco de Instinto Interior” that unfolds such a sense of progressive tonal warmth in the guitar and bass and the fluidity of the drums pushing them along their plotted course. As side B comprises just “Les Pilules Vertes” and the accompanying 10-minute closer “Ente,” there’s a bit of a dual-personality for the record, but that too adds to the sense of their aesthetic being (perhaps willfully) unsettled.

The closer, even more than the shifts in sound between centerpiece “Escarlata” at the end of side A and what follows in the second half of the album, is most indicative of all of the breadth Híbrido are harnessing, and while everything before it might be seen as at least in line with what the members have done before — that is, has its own identity, but shares aspects in common with past work of the players involved — “Ente” takes a stark turn, changing from the dreamy clean vocals to a harsh, black metal-style rasp in its second half. To complement this, the track has a particularly progressive feel in its guitar work, moving from a tense forward push to nuanced classic-prog winding that remind of some of the math Opeth once did in combining elements of extreme metal and ’70s-style progressive rock. It’s a shocking moment on an otherwise peaceful I, and a surprise that leaves one curious as to just where Híbrido might go from there in terms of their sound. That’s one of the best impressions a band can make on a debut, to establish a foundation of quality craft and remain unpredictable, and I wouldn’t dare guess what another release — perhaps called II — might do to build on what brings to bear. Really. It happens at about 7:40. The first time I heard it my brain didn’t believe what my ears were telling it.

Although isn’t officially out until Monday, of course Spinda has it available to order now, and I’m thrilled to be able to host the album streaming in full. Yeah, I did the premiere for the opener before, but I think this is a special case where going deep and really hearing the record front-to-back is entirely warranted. I hope you agree and I hope you enjoy.

Vinyl release info follows.

Dig it:

Heavy Psych & Alternative Rock from Algeciras (Spain). Including members of Viaje a 800, Mind!, Atavismo, Medicina & Los Bradlys.

****OUT ON 21st JANUARY 2019****

Híbrido’s debut album ‘I’ is released on:
-Vinyl 12″ 150grs Classic Black Edition (218 copies worldwide)
-Vinyl 12″ 150grs La Novena Clear Limited Edition (110 copies worldwide)
-CD Jewel Case (330 copies worldwide)

All music by Híbrido.

Recorded, mixed and mastered at Trafalgar Estudios by Curro “Snortil” Úreba (El Palmar, October 2017).
Artwork by Antonio Ramírez (Mentes de Ácido).
Edited by Spinda Records.

Track-list:
SIDE A
1. Pensando En Un Eco De Instinto Interior
2. Nada, Nadie
3. Escarlata
SIDE B
4. Les Pilules Vertes
5. Ente

Híbrido on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records website

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Quarterly Review: Trippy Wicked, Dunbarrow, The Vintage Caravan, Zatokrev & Minsk, Owl Maker, Orbital Junction, Bourbon, Birnam Wood, Wytch Hazel, The Soulbreaker Company

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

quarterly-review

You know how this goes by now, right? Well, okay, except that because I skipped the Quarterly Review that I otherwise would’ve done in September (or, more likely, October), I’m doubling-up this time. 100 reviews instead of 50. Two full weeks of 10 albums per day. Will I survive? Yeah, probably. Will it be completely overwhelming? Already is. Thanks for asking.

I’ll save the summaries of the year that was for list-time, which is fast approaching, but consider the fact that there are well more than 100 albums I could include in this roundup emblematic of just how vibrant heavy rock and doom are in the US, EU, UK, Australia and elsewhere. It’s a universal thing, and accordingly, there’s a whole universe of it to explore. This is just a sampling.

But yeah, time’s a wastin’, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Stakes n Scale

trippy wicked stakes n scale

An acoustic EP from Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight — who, let’s face it, were way ahead of the curve when it comes to the UK scene’s thing for long and ridiculous band names — is a considerable departure from where they were two years ago on their split/collaboration with GurT (review here), but those familiar with the band might recall their past penchant for the occasional unplugged cover recorded for YouTube. Chris West (also Crawling for Carrion, Glanville, etc.), who engineered the recording and plays guitar, and vocalist Peter Holland (also Elephant Tree) revamp Trippy Wicked‘s “Up the Stakes” from 2012’s Going Home (review here), and cover “Scale the Mountain” by Stubb, of which both were members when the song was written. Together, they make for a nine-minute showcase for the character in Holland‘s voice and the melodies and craft at root in both tracks, and while its arrival feels like kind of a one-off, it’s certainly no less welcome for that.

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Bandcamp

 

Dunbarrow, II

dunbarrow ii

The novelty of new bands playing through vintage gear in order to capture a heavy ’70s sound may have faded, but like all subgenres, as time goes on, the retro-ist style continues to shift and change as bands like Dunbarrow bring new character to established tenets. Their second LP for RidingEasy is aptly-titled II and sways between honoring the likes of Pentagram and acts like Witchcraft who’ve helped craft that band’s hindsight-founded legacy. Dunbarrow‘s noodly style, restrained rhythmic shove and ride-the-riff melody on “Weary Lady” and the foresty creep of “The Demon Within” capture the vibe well, the latter occurring in a second half of II populated with “The Wolf” and “Witches of the Woods Pt. II,” a sequel to the closer of their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) that here leads to the more severe roll of the finale, “On this Night,” emblematic of the changing character of the band even as it reaffirms in its tense midsection the roots from which they sprung.

Dunbarrow on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

The Vintage Caravan, Gateways

the vintage caravan gateways

With their third record and second for Nuclear Blast, Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan affirm not only their passion for the boogie of old on cuts like “The Way” and the strutting “Hidden Streams,” but secure a place as being worthy of the consideration they’ve been given to a degree by the wider Continental European heavy underground. They are strikingly mature in their approach for still being a relatively young band, and their albums have worked quickly to develop a character that is becoming more and more their own. They do the fests and they tour, and so on, but they seem to be engaged in building their listenership one pair of ears at a time. Having a metal-major label behind them hasn’t hurt their promotional cause, but frankly, they’re not as big as they should be for the level of work they’re doing, and even with songs like “Reset” and “Reflections” and the composed-strictly-for-vinyl-sounding closer “Tune Out” to their credit, they’re still largely a word of mouth band, especially in the US. Well, consider this your word of mouth. If you haven’t heard Gateways yet, you should get on that.

The Vintage Caravan on Thee Facebooks

The Vintage Caravan at Nuclear Blast

 

Minsk & Zatokrev, Bigod

zatokrev minsk bigod

Post-metallic powerhouses Minsk and Zatokrev — both of whom hit their 15th anniversary last year — teamed up for a European tour this Fall. To mark the occasion, Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets celebrated with Bigod, a split with two tracks from each band arranged in alternating order — Minsk, then Zatokrev, etc. — intended to highlight the symmetry between them not just of circumstance and root influence in the Neurosis school of atmospheric sludge, but the fact that they share these commonalities despite their origins in Illinois and Switzerland, respectively. Each band opens with a longer track (double points) in Minsk‘s “Invoke/Revive” and Zatokrev‘s “Silent Gods,” each of which push past 13 minutes as likely at any moment to be pummeling as ambient, and follows with two shorter cuts, Minsk‘s “Salvatore” swelling theatrically from its minimalist beginnings while Zatokrev‘s “The Chalice and the Dagger” seems to explode from the foundation the prior band laid out. It must have been a hell of a tour, but whether you saw it or not, the split is a welcome conglomeration from two of post-metal’s strongest acts.

Minsk on Thee Facebooks

Zatokrev on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

Czar of Crickets Productions website

 

Owl Maker, Sky Road

owl maker sky road

Self-recording guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, ex-Guerra, etc.) leads Connecticut-based three-piece Owl Maker through a complex thematic of Native American folklore and heavy metal classicism. The NWOBHM plays a strong role in his riffing style, but one of the two tracks included on the two-songer single Sky Road, “Owl City,” also veers into more extreme territory with a departure from clean vocals to harsher screaming. All told, it’s about eight minutes of music, but Sky Road nonetheless follows Owl Maker‘s earlier-2018 EP, Paths of the Slain (review here), with an uptick in melodic presence in the vocals of Tuozzoli and bassist Jessie May and progression in the chemistry between the two of them and drummer Chris Anderson, and with the fluidity of their transitions between various styles of heavy, their scope seems only to be growing. To wit, “Sky Road” itself is only 3:42, but still demonstrates a clear-headed compositional method based around storytelling and a subtly encompassing range. Whether it’s early warning for what they do next or a conceptual one-off, its quick run seems just to be begging for a 7″ pressing.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Orbital Junction, Orbital Junction

Orbital Junction orbital junction

The Londonderground continues to produce acts ready and willing to worship at the altar of riffs. Orbital Junction‘s self-release debut EP makes an impression not only because of the markedly pro-shop production by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios and the cover art by SoloMacello, but the hooks to live up to those high standards. “6 ft. 2” follows opener “Space Highway” with a bit of dudely chestbeating — note: I don’t know how tall any of them actually are — but the swing of EP centerpiece “Devil’s Double” and the bounce of “Gypsy Queen” speak for the four-piece’s roots and appreciation of straightforward heavy, void of pretense and tapping into an easy mid-paced fluidity that slows up somewhat on closer “Pagan” without really losing the central groove of the offering overall. They’ll have their work cut out for them in distinguishing themselves over the longer term amongst London’s burl-fueled hordes, but their first outing shows their instincts headed in the right direction in terms of songwriting, performance and presentation.

Orbital Junction on Thee Facebooks

Orbital Junction on Bandcamp

 

Bourbon, Fuente Vieja

Bourbon Fuente Vieja

Crisp but warm in its tone and presentation, rife with melody and carrying a laid back spirit despite a fervent underlying groove — the bass on “El Sendero” rests well within gotta-hear-it territory — Spanish purveyors Bourbon emobody some of the best of post-Viaje a 800 Andalusian heavy rock and roll on their third LP, Fuente Vieja (on Spinda). Their fuzz makes its presence known early on “Si Véis La Luz, Corred” and continues as a running theme as tracks like “A Punto de Arder” and the side-A-capping title-cut grow increasingly progressive. There’s room for some shuffle, of course, as side B begins with “La Triste Realidad,” and the slower “Hacia el Sol” gracefully blends electrified wah and acoustic guitars beneath a well-timed standout vocal performance, but the highlight might be eight-minute closer “Destierro,” which seems to bring everything else under one roof while tapping into a poppier structure early — acoustics and electrics aligning effectively circa two minutes in — while providing the album with a graceful and fittingly organic-sounding finale.

Bourbon on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records webstore

 

Birnam Wood, Wicked Worlds

birnam wood wicked worlds

Birnam Wood don’t have time for bullshit, but they do have time for a bit of shenanigans. Thus the 1:44 surge of opener “Time of Purification” leads into the sample-laden roller groove of “Richard Dreyfuss” on their as-of-now-self-released Wicked Worlds, and the “Hole in the Sky”-style “Dunsinane” shifts into the more blown-out “Early Warning,” which, by the time its tectonic low end kicks in, is indeed something of a clarion. At seven-tracks/34-minutes, Wicked Worlds is somewhere between an EP and an LP, but I’d argue it as the latter with the flow from “Greenseer” into the massive “A Song for Jorklum” and the seven-minute finale “Return to Samarkand” making for a righteous side B, but either way, it’s a Boston-crafted assault of grit-tone and aggro doom that finds the band not overwhelmed by the heft of their own tones but able to move and manipulate them to serve the purposes of their songs. Those purposes, incidentally, are mostly about kicking ass. Which they do. Copiously.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

Wytch Hazel, II: Sojourn

Wytch Hazel II Soujorn

It would not seem to be a coincidence that UK self-aware four-piece Wytch Hazel — guitarists Conlin Hendra (also vocals) and Alex Haslam, bassist Matt Gatley and drummer Jack Spencer nod to Wishbone Ash‘s Argus with the cover of their second LP, II: Sojourn (on Bad Omen). They do a lot of that kind of nodding, with a sound culled from a valiant blend of classic progressive and early NWOBHM styles that makes the point of how closely related the two have always been. “The Devil is Here” starts out at a fervent gallop with just an underpinning of Thin Lizzy, while the later “See My Demons” shifts from its steady roll and rousing hook into an acoustic/electric break that seems to pull from Jethro Tull as much as Scorpions. At 10 tracks/45 minutes, they have plenty of time to flesh out their ideas, and they do precisely that, whether it’s the careful unfolding around the keys and acoustics of closer “Angel Take Me” or the over-the-top instrumental push of “Chorale” or the moodier “Wait on the Wind,” the wah solo of which is a highlight on its own. There are some burgeoning harmonies in Hendra‘s vocals, which is an impulse he should follow as it would only enhance the material, but after making their debut with 2016’s Prelude, II: Sojourn finds Wytch Hazel sounding comfortable and well established in their niche.

Wytch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light

the soulbreaker company sewed with light

Progressive, expansive and engaging, the sixth album from Spanish sextet The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light (on Underground Legends), taps into classically Floydian influences on songs like “The Word, the Blade” while still keeping a foot in heavy rock on the prior “Together,” and setting a quick course into a varied sonic persona via the seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Inner Dark.” Hypnotizing not necessarily with drift but with sheer willful exploration, The Soulbreaker Company work with a variety of key sounds and craft-minded ranging guitar in order to effect an atmosphere of thoughtful songwriting even in their most outwardly trippy moments. The sneering semi-psychedelic rock of “Avoid the Crash” and the more stripped-down roll of “Arrhythmia” (video premiere here) lead the way into closer “In the Beginning,” which marks yet another departure with its grandeur of string sounds and electronic beats leading to a chugging big finale. As with the bulk of The Soulbreaker Company‘s work, it requires an active ear, but Sewed with Light both encourages and well earns consideration as more than background noise.

The Soulbreaker Company on Thee Facebooks

Underground Legends on Bandcamp

 

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Híbrido Premiere “Pensando en un Eco de Instinto Interior” from Debut Album I

Posted in audiObelisk on November 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hibrido

Think of it more like galaxy rock than space rock, because to some degree, space is chaos and galaxies, at least viewed from the unfathomable distances we see them, have shape, order. So it is with the progressive psychedelic heavy rock brought forth on the debut album, I, from Andalusian four-piece Híbrido. The arrival of said LP might seem pretty quick, as it was only last month they announced signing to Spinda Records, which has also released records for related outfits, but the truth is Híbrido have been bubbling under the surface for at least the past four years in one form or another, and the moniker could hardly be more appropriate given the breadth of influence which the five-track/46-minute debut showcases, with vocals handled by all four members of the band — guitarists Jose Angel “Oceano” Galindo (ex-Viaje a 800) and Zoa Rubio (Los Bradlys), bassist Jose “Pot” Moreno (Atavismo, ex-Viaje a 800) and drummer Sandri Pow (Atavismo, ex-Mind!) — and a lush depth of sound that’s as gorgeous melodically as is it is malleable in presentation, shifting between Floydian pastoralism and coastal vibes from their native Algeciras. Those familiar with the work of the much-loved Atavismo or the defunct and much-underrated Viaje a 800 will find recognizable elements at work throughout, but the form that Híbrido‘s work takes is distinct nonetheless.

To wit, the back and forth interplay of lead guitar in the 13-minute penultimate track “Les Pilules Vertes,” which by then has already unfolded nearly 10 minutes of proggy exploration, or the heavy, choral push in the hook of second track “Nada, Nadie” that follows the opener “Pensando en un Eco Instinto Interior,” which gracefully sets its bed on the bass and drums as the guitars set an airy atmosphere for the increasing echo of the vocals. Balance is the key. Think of a hybrid plant. They’re bred for specific characteristics, and in that way, Híbrido function much the same. Each member of the band brings something of their own to the proceedings, and it’s in the blending of those aspects that the personality of I is cast. “Pensando en un Eco Instinto Interior” makes its way into a hypnotic apex of winding lead guitar, reverbed vocals and energetic drum crash, but that it fades out should say something about the mission overall of Híbrido in that it’s less about where any individual piece ends up than how that piece contributes to the whole of the album. In that way, the record too is a hybrid of sorts. Following “Nada, Nadie,” centerpiece “Escarlata” brings together weighted low-end push with vocal harmonies and what I can only call an Andalusian shuffle, insistent rhythmically but still ultimately mellow enough to make a natural shift into the guitar/Mellotron-led second half. Soon enough, that leads to the heavier, fuzzier start of “Les Pilules Vertes,” but that’s only the first of many sides that song has to offer ahead of the 10-minute closer “Ente,” which takes a more rocking approach early and surprises after passing the 7:30 mark by including black metal-style rasping vocals amid all the surrounding melody.

They’re deep in the mix, but they’re there. I’m not imagining it. And they immediately change the context of the album, which ends with held out notes and a swipe of fingers on strings, to give a natural, in-studio feel to the curious last impression the band makes. Does anything really go in this galaxy? The way those screams are handled, they’re almost snuck in at the finish, and the message seems to be that Híbrido aren’t interested in constraints, and they’ll no more be bound by genre lines than they will by the expectation built from their own songcraft or past work. Fair enough if it works, which oddly, it does, both to be willfully jarring and sonically cohesive.

But that’s the message of overall, in case the point hasn’t been made: That these various sides can come together and create something new, finding new forms of resonance along the way. I don’t have an exact release date for the album, and they’re not revealing the cover art yet, but keep your eye on Spinda Records for preorders and whatnot, and I do have the pleasure today of hosting the premiere of “Pensando en un Eco de Instinto Interior,” which, as the first track on the LP and the first audio made public from it as well, is a great way to get yourself introduced. And you want to be introduced.

Sandri Pow was kind enough to offer some comment and you’ll find that as well under the player below.

Please enjoy:

Sandri Pow on “Pensando en un Eco Instinto Interior”:

The progression of this track brought some kind of balance to the whole record; a persistent and effective bass leads the rhythm this time, taking the hand of the drums, while both guitars dance together, combining an smooth and intense playing, changing in every moment…pure prog, rock, delays, and psychedelic lyrics.

Híbrido is:
Jose Angel “Oceano” Galindo – Guitar/vocals
Zoa Rubio – Guitar/vocals
Jose Pot – Bass/vocals/synth
Sandri Pow – Drums/vocals

Híbrido on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records on Thee Facebooks

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Híbrido Sign to Spinda Records for Debut Album I

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

There isn’t any audio yet to share, but you’re going to want to watch out for this one. Híbrido‘s debut album arrives after a year-plus of murmurings about a side-project from Poti and Pow of Atavismo that reunites the former with his ex-Viaje a 800 bandmate, guitarist Jose Angel “Oceano” Galindo, and now it’s announced that the record is mostly done and will see release through Spinda Records sometime in the coming months, presumably in the New Year. I don’t even have track titles yet, but its centerpiece is a 13-minute jam that goes from fuzzy roll right into prog-psych wash with a fluidity that’s nothing short of splendid. Again, keep an eye out.

Expect more to come on Híbrido one way or the other as we get closer to the release of the album, which has suitably been dubbed I, including I assume some form of audio/visual media, which you won’t find here because there’s nothing to directly share, although the link at the bottom of this post goes to some rehearsal footage from Thee Facebooks. In the meantime, the label and band announced their union thusly:

hibirido spinda records

Says Spinda Records:

Have you ever been onto something very big and that very little people know yet? We do, the feeling is brutal and soon we will give you all the details… at the moment we can only advance that the algecireños Híbrido join the #spindarecords family for their debut debut.

And who are Híbrido? Very Easy, cream of #lanovena: Poti (Atavismo, mind!, Viaje a 800), Zoa (the bradlys), José Angel (Viaje a 800) and pow (Atavismo, mind! ). Almost done!

Says Híbrido:

Four years ago we started a beautiful project, which took us to see the light as it deserves, but… today is a reality.

We are excited to announce that Híbrido will release our debut album with Spinda Records, who has trusted us to get our musical manifesto, that in which we have so much effort. Thank you infinite.

This has just begun, little by little you will discover what we are… soon in your ears!

Híbrido is:
Jose Angel “Oceano” Galindo – Guitarra
Zoa Rubio – Guitarra
Jose Pot – Bajo
Sandri Pow – Batería

https://www.facebook.com/hibridopysch/
https://www.facebook.com/SpindaRecords

https://www.facebook.com/sandri.pow/videos/10210644527770563/

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