The Flying Eyes and Lazlo Lee & the Motherless Children Announce Split 7″

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

You on board for a split between The Flying Eyes and Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children? I am. The two Baltimorean outfits have teamed up for a single to be released in August via H42 Records. I guess the news I’m waiting for on this one is that the release coincides with a tour of one sort or another — as that’s generally how it goes with The Flying Eyes. They’ve spent the last however many years kicking around between Europe and South America — I think they might’ve even been to Australia at one point? — as they’ve moved further away from their last proper studio album, 2013’s Lowlands (review here).

The implication there of course is that they’re due for a follow-up album, and so they are, but if it’s a single in the meantime with some buddies, that’s hardly something to hold against them.

No art or audio or preorders yet, but the PR wire brings an initial announcement:

The Flying Eyes and Lazlo Lee announce new Split 7″ this August!

We are happy to announce new cooperation of The Flying Eyes and LAZLO LEE & THE MOTHERLESS CHILDREN.

Baltimore’s best rock’n roller will fight against each other on a new 7″ in form of covering a song of their opponent! Who will win? Without giving too much, two intense tracks from two extraordinary bands will await you. The 7″ will be released in Europe from H42 Records and there will also be a US Edition from our friends Ripple Music.

The Baltimore Competition will be released this august!

From Baltimore, USA, the psychedelic blues quartet, THE FLYING EYES, is placed in Machart & instrumental cast between The 13th Floor Elevators, the Doors & Retro Rock.
In addition to the expressive & distinctive vocals, which often recalls Glen Danzig, the music of the FLYING EYES possesses intensity and melody, ranging from spherical, gloomy balladesque passages to wild, hypnotic improvisations.

Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children are a blues/garage rock-n-roll band out of Baltimore City. Lazlo, with his howling vox and guitar, front this two-piece band that was named after the old blues traditional ‘Motherless Children’. With the fast, heavy hitting Cocaine Jim on the drums, this act thrives on their energetic live preformance with catchy riffs and the ability to turn on any crowd.

https://www.facebook.com/theflyingeyes/
https://www.facebook.com/lazloleeandthemotherlesschildren/
https://www.facebook.com/H42Records
https://www.instagram.com/j.b.h42records/
https://twitter.com/H42Records

The Flying Eyes, Live in Germany 2016

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Hangman’s Chair and Greenmachine Issue Split LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Okay, so this one apparently came out earlier this month, because apparently it’s late-March, and apparently it’s 2017 and I don’t know about you but I feel like maybe I got stuck mentally somewhere back around 2014 and everything since then has just kind of been a blaze with which I’ve been completely inept at keeping up. Sorry, what were we talking about?

Right. Split. Hangman’s Chair. Greenmachine. France and Japan, respectively. Doom on sludge. Music Fear Satan and Daymare Recordings. Tits and bondage on the cover. Blah on that. Pretty sure those are the basics.

Those of you with tabs on such things might recall Greenmachine are veterans of Man’s Ruin Records once upon a time, which is about as close as a band can come in my book to automatic cred. They’ve split up and reformed a few times since and had an EP out last year. Hangman’s Chair, meanwhile, issued their most recent full-length, This isn’t Supposed to be Positive, back in 2015, and it seems pretty fair to assume it lived up to its title.

The PR wire has release details and a video from Hangman’s Chair. Dive in:

hangmans-chair-photo-fredb-art

greenmachine

HANGMAN’S CHAIR/GREENMACHINE split VINYL LP, new MUSIC FEAR SATAN release

The new Music Fear Satan release : a split record featuring the heavy weight french doom metal band HANGMAN’S CHAIR and the famous japanese stoner band GREENMACHINE.

“After their last acclaimed full-length record “This is not supposed to be positive” (2015), HANGMAN’S CHAIR is back and teams up with the stoner japanese veterans GREENMACHINE for a split LP. We can easily recognize the HANGMAN’S CHAIR style along their two new songs with this mix of heavy guitar parts and melodic vocals. GREENMACHINE offers us a new long track divided in multiple parts. The split is released on CD via the japanese label Daymare Recordings and on vinyl through Musicfearsatan (700 copies, 300 on pink and 400 on black)”

tracklisting :
SIDE A
1. HANGMAN’S CHAIR – give and take
2. HANGMAN’S CHAIR – can’t talk

SIDE B
1. GREENMACHINE – red eye (pt.1.2.3.4.5)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/GREENMACHiNE/480031285391295
https://www.facebook.com/hangmanschair/
www.musicfearsatan.com
www.musicfearsatan.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/pages/MUSICFEARSATAN/173432646328
www.facebook.com/pages/MUSICFEARSATAN-LABEL/276530999081207

Hangman’s Chair, “Can’t Talk” official video

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Bible of the Devil & Leeches of Lore Split Available to Preorder

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

Chicago heavy rockers Bible of the Devil, now five years removed from their last full-length, which was 2012’s For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), have confirmed that the new track they’re planning to include on an upcoming split with hiatus-bound New Mexican weirdos Leeches of Lore is currently in the mixing stage. They’ve made the 7″ available to preorder directly from them — as in, send-us-an-email-and-we’ll-get-one-to-you — and among the easier arguments one might endeavor to make in a given afternoon is they’re a cause worth supporting through that or whatever other means. Good band, pairing with another good band, and all that.

They sent along a winter newsletter that you can see below, including a couple live dates coming up in Wisconsin and their hometown. Dig it:

bible of the devil

BOTD Winter Update 2017

We have just finishing mixing our 7″ track for our split with Albuquerque’s own Leeches of Lore to be self-released later this spring. This is another classic in the making for BOTD and we are sure you will be humming along to it soon! Pre-orders can be taken via PayPal at botdmusic@gmail.com for $6 plus $3 shipping anywhere in the US. For European orders or anywhere else, please email for pricing first. We all had a blast making this and can’t wait to make the push to get the next record done. Don’t snooze on getting a copy as this is a limited run!

BOTD also will be making two appearances this spring:

March 25th Sat. Kenosha, WI @ Hattrix w/The Miners (record release), Amulance, Burn The Witch

and then…

RAWfest!!!

RAWfest began in Chicago in 2005 as a vehicle to showcase the best of underground rock. While it has sat dormant over a decade (sometimes you get busy, you know?), we have decided to bring it back for a second edition for maximum fun. This is an incredible lineup and it’s highly suggested you buy a ticket. Poster made by Austin’s own Burger Ben.

June 3rd Sat. Chicago, IL @ Township RAWfest 2 Doors 4pm $10 adv/$12 dos w/The Safes, The Vibrolas, Buzzzard, The Evictions, Beggars, City Slang

Finally, a much anticipated tour of the south in July is being finalized as we speak. Texas, we had some weather trouble last time and will not be denied this time around! Dates coming soon.

www.facebook.com/bibleofthedevil
www.bibleofthedevil.net

Bible of the Devil, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (2012)

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Bible of the Devil to Release Split 7″ with Leeches of Lore

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

They should call it the Bands Who are Way Better than People Know split. The Bands You’d Probably Really Dig split. At very least the Bands I Really Dig split. It’s been since 2012 that Chicago’s Bible of the Devil last released an album. That record, For the Love of Thugs and Fools (discussed here), followed four years after 2008’s Freedom Metal and felt late at the time, so yeah, they’re due. No word on solid release date for a next full-length, but the metal/rock genrehoppers will issue a split 7″ in the fine company of Albuquerque weirdos Leeches of Lore, whose Toshi Kasai-helmed Motel of Infinity (review here) came out in 2015. There will be a new song on that, and at this point, I’m inclined to take what I can get.

To go with a handful of shows around the Midwest this summer/fall, Bible of the Devil are set to play Alehorn of Power IX (info here) on Nov. 12 at Reggies in Chicago. Full lineup and set times can be found with the split announcement below:

bible-of-the-devil

BIBLE OF THE DEVIL UPDATE + ALEHORN OF POWER IX @ REGGIES NOV. 12TH SAT.!!

BOTD has had quite a busy fall so far with successful October dates in Indianapolis and Columbus. They are now gearing up for the next installment of Alehorn of Power in two weeks with the mighty THOR headlining! Details with set times are listed below and tickets are only $20 to witness this barrage of heavy rock! BOTD will also return to the studio in December to continue working on its new album while recording a new track to be released as a 7″ with Albuquerque’s own LEECHES OF LORE. Look for it late spring next year along with some very special road dates in the summer of 2017. Stay tuned!

Slated for Saturday, November 12, 2016 at Reggies in Chicago, this year’s Alehorn of Power features an eclectic and formidable lineup of bands with one thing on their minds: exceptional heavy metal entertainment from the independent realm.

Alehorn of Power IX
Set Times
THOR 11:50-???
Professor Black 10:55-11:35pm
Argus 10:00-10:40pm
Bible of the Devil 9:05-9:45pm
The Lurking Corpses 8:10-8:50pm
Seamstress 7:25-7:55pm

Saturday November 12, 2016
Doors 7 PM / $20 / Ages 17+
Reggies, 2101 S. State, Chicago IL USA

Long-running Chicago act BIBLE OF THE DEVIL is not only Alehorn’s spiritual guidepost but also its musical cornerstone. The band’s unmistakable brand of heavy metal rock and roll embodies every bit the twin-guitarred, big-chorused, epic FM sound perhaps most associated with the festival’s history. This year’s set will include a selection of new material alongside hits from the band’s vast catalog.

Bible of the Devil is:
Nathan Perry: Vocals, Guitars
Greg Spalding: Drums, Loathing
Darren Amaya: Bass, Vocals
Chris Grubbs: Guitars

www.facebook.com/bibleofthedevil
http://bibleofthedevil.net/
http://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/

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Friday Full-Length: The Groundhogs, Split

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

The Groundhogs, Split (1971)

They didn’t, by the way, split. At least not immediately. Having formed in the early ’60s and cut their teeth as the UK backing band for none other than John Lee Hooker himself — because if you’re going to learn how to do boogie blues right, you go to the source — The Groundhogs went on to construct a history as varied, complicated and hyper-populated as the best heavy rock acts of their generation. Their fourth album, 1971’s Split, was released on Liberty Records and is probably their most known work. Put together by the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Tony McPhee, bassist Peter Cruickshank and drummer Ken Pustelnik during a pivotal run as a power trio between 1969 and 1972, it’s marked out by its four-part opening title-track, a rare chronicle of mental illness that neither romanticizes nor stigmatizes, but represents in a series of ups and downs and a move into and through chaotic noise the tumult that people still consider taboo to discuss openly some 45 years later. It’s not necessarily doing this in a showy way — primarily, “Split” and the album that bears its name are geared toward the simple mission of rocking out — but it’s doing it all the same, and coming from a more sincere place than many at the time building off the idea that “crazy” was something cool to be.

And while the titular cut consumed all of side A, it was by no means all Split had to offer. “Cherry Red” began a thrust of four more straightforward tracks, giving a raucous, falsetto-topped start to that progression in which one can hear the roots of any number of ’70s-inspired acts from Graveyard to The Golden Grass, McPhee‘s dream-toned lead work a highlight backed by Pustelnik‘s manic snare and Cruickshank‘s warm runs on bass. For aficionados of the era, there’s a lot about this period of The Groundhogs that will ring familiar, but no question they were hitting harder than most at this point, and in the time when rock first really began to get heavy, Split makes a convincing argument for inclusion among the most vibrant outings of the period. They may not have amassed the same kind of influence as Jethro Tull on prog, or Black Sabbath on metal, or Hawkwind on space rock, but the languid roll of “A Year in the Life,” the scorch of “Junkman”‘s noisy and experimental second half, and the unabashed Hooker-ism of “Groundhog” — a take on the man’s own “Ground Hog Blues” — define something that draws on all of those elements without aping any of them. Those years were infinitely crowded, and one could make a life’s work of exploring all the rock and roll that surfaced between 1968 and 1974, but The Groundhogs are a standout all the way through. Front to back. The way it should be.

As one might expect, different lineups and different offshoots of the band have surfaced over the decades. The Groundhogs‘ last two studio albums were cover records of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters that surfaced in 1998 and 1999, respectively, but they’ve continued to play shows with McPhee, who also suffered a stroke in 2009, as the remaining original member, and their legacy is obviously one already cast in stone.

Hope you enjoy.

This week, more than most, finds the actual output on the site not at all commensurate to the amount of work done on my part in the back end. What does that mean? Well, it means that hopefully by the time this post goes live the images, links, players, etc. for the Quarterly Review will be completely laid out (as I write this I still need to put together next Friday’s metadata) and ready to roll for this weekend, and I’ll also have at least started to put together an additional full-album stream and review for the new Fatso Jetson record, which since I suck at timing and planning alike also needs to be up on Monday.

My plan is to wake up early tomorrow and Sunday — two more 5AM days, to go with the 5AM days all this week, last week, and so on — and just start banging through as many reviews as I can get done. They’re shorter, obviously, but it’s never not been a challenge anyway, both conceptually and in the sheer amount of work there is, hours in the day and that sort of thing. It’ll get done though. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet and don’t intend to start now.

Also next week, look out for the announcement of the next The Obelisk Presents show — it’s a good one; they all are — and an announcement for a new album that Magnetic Eye Records will have out that’s pretty awesome. I don’t have days slated yet, but Mammoth Mammoth and Devil to Pay video premieres are in the works, and there’s a new Narcosatanicos, new La Chinga video and so much more besides that I’m already stressed out just thinking about it, but it’s okay, because apparently this is how I enjoy myself these days. Adulthood is strange. And bald. Bald and strange. Why am I cold all the time?

Complete side note, but I’m also thinking of shaving my beard. All the way down. Starting over. If you have any thoughts in this regard, I’m all ears. Yes, I know it’s the wrong decision. The Patient Mrs. told me that as well. She’s right, too. I feel like it might be the right time for the wrong decision.

Okay, I have work that needs to get done — including for that, you know, job I have and whatnot — so I’m going to sign off on that non-sequitur. I hope you have a great and safe weekend and I hope you check out the forum and the radio stream, which I know you do anyway, because you’re awesome. All the best.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Ragged Barracudas & Pushy, Split LP: Free Range Boogie (Plus Track Premieres)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

ragged barracudas pushy split

[Click play above to stream Ragged Barracudas’ ‘Tables Turn’ and Pushy’s ‘Salem Man.’ Their split LP is out mid-July and available now to preorder.]

There’s just nothing to argue with here. German trio Ragged Barracudas and Portland, Oregon’s Pushy team up for a split 12″ on Who Can You Trust? Records, four tracks apiece on two sides obviously divided by band, three originals and one cover each. Let the boogie ensue. It is neither act’s first time working with the label. Ragged Barracudas released a 7″ (review here) early in 2014 and took part in the latest installment of the imprint’s Sweet Times series of four-way split singles, Sweet Times Vol. 5. Pushy, meanwhile, featured on Sweet Times Vol. 4 last year, and as Ragged Barracudas drummer/vocalist Christian Dräger doubles as the head of Who Can You Trust? and Pushy guitarist/vocalist Adam Burke has done artwork for label releases from Pastor and the aforementioned Sweet Times Vol. 4, it’s safe to assume nobody on one side is a stranger to the other.

Those connections come hand-in-hand with a similarity of sonic mindset, both acts embroiled in a modernization of ’70s impulses across the LP’s engaging 33-minute span. They share a lack of pretense in their methods and the circumstance that this 12″ platter is the most substantive release to-date from each of them, Pushy having offered up a digital-only demo in 2014 (review here) and a couple other odds and ends on Bandcamp in addition to the above-mentioned. Both acts sound formative, purposefully, but assured of what they’re trying to accomplish and how they want to get to the natural, classic atmosphere that ultimately unites them and makes the record flow between its two sides.

In the case of Ragged Barracudas, no doubt at least partial credit should go to Guy Tavares. Also the drummer/vocalist of Orange SunshineTavares holds the reins on Motorwolf Studios in Den Haag, the Netherlands, and Ragged Barracudas‘ output benefits greatly from the sweat-soaked rawness of the “Motorwolf sound” on their four songs, “Burning” (on which Tavares also contributes ghungroo bells), “Tables Turn,” “Walking on My Grave” (a Dead Moon cover) and “Conclusions.” With a strong sense of live performance and a down-to-business feel in the lightly blown-out vocals of Dräger, joined in the band by guitarist Janik Ruß and bassist Tom WeitenRagged Barracudas manage to keep a friendly edge to a successfully dangerous execution.

ragged barracudas pushy split ad

Some of that might be pacing. “Burning” and “Walking on My Grave” both move at a pretty decent clip, but “Tables Turn” — a highlight of the release and the longest cut on it at six minutes flat — and “Conclusions” contrast with a more patient take. This direct back and forth, particularly over the condensed 17-minute runtime of the vinyl’s side A, sets up a flow that carries the listener along with the changes the band is making. I don’t know the circumstances of the recording exactly, but if it wasn’t completely live I’d guess it was at least mostly so, and whether it’s the almost-gothabilly ride cymbal on “Walking on My Grave” or the melancholic rumble of “Conclusions,” Ragged Barracudas show themselves as having a firm grip on their sound and a growing songwriting process that sounds ready for exploration on a debut full-length.

That’s something else they have in common with Pushy, who sound like the swing-fueled next step the Pacific Northwest has been waiting for since Portland arrived on the heavy rock map seven-plus years ago. They’re not the only band from what’s become a capitol of US heavy to take a bite out of the ’70s grooves of ZZ Top and James Gang, but they do it exceedingly well, whether it’s the start-stop bass groove from Neal Munson on “Zionara” or the sleaze in Burke‘s vocals on side-opener “In My Mouth.”

Blue Cheer are a major factor in that song, and not to its detriment, as BurkeMunson, guitarist Ron Wesley and drummer Travis Claw set themselves up for the funky turn that “I Need More Time” — a cover of The Meters — brings, twisting guitars leading the way into a resounding hook before twin-leads meet up for a scathingly bluesy apex that shifts back into the chorus to finish out. “Salem Man” follows with an admirably believable “rama-lam-bam-bam” worked into its lyrics, and as Pushy‘s tracks are arranged shortest to longest, as they make their move toward “Zionara” to finish out, they get correspondingly bolder, so that the final nod of “Zionara” is not only its own payoff but that also for the band’s entire portion, played out over a lean, deceptively-efficient 15 minutes.

Like I said at the outset, there’s just nothing to argue with here. In performance and songwriting, Ragged Barracudas and Pushy complement each other fluidly. It’s telling that the split’s cover artwork — presumably by Burke — is on what looks like reclaimed wood from an old barn, since both bands have an underlying element of the organic to their approach as well. In accord with that, their combined output sounds ready to stand the test of time.

Ragged Barracudas on Thee Facebooks

Ragged Barracudas on Bandcamp

Pushy on Thee Facebooks

Pushy on Bandcamp

Ragged Barracudas & Pushy split preorder

Who Can You Trust? Records on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Satan’s Satyrs, Wildeornes, Blackwülf, VRSA, Marant, Grizzlor, Mother Crone, Psychedelic Witchcraft, Chimpgrinder & Miscegenator, Oak

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review winter

Last day. It’s been some week. When I otherwise would’ve been putting these reviews together yesterday? Jury duty. Yup, my civic responsibility. Add that to a busted laptop, a full-time job and a couple busy days for news, and you have a good argument for why with Quarterly Reviews prior I’ve gotten up at six in the morning over the weekend before and started writing to get as much out of the way as possible. Oh wait, I did that this time too. Well, maybe it was seven.

Either way, as it comes to a close, I want to personally express my thanks to you for checking it out and being a part of what’s become a weird seasonal ritual for me. I hope you’ve found something (or find something today) that resonates with you and stays with you for a long time. I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s all about.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Satan’s Satyrs, Don’t Deliver Us

satan's satyrs don't deliver us

Virginian riff-turner trio Satan’s Satyrs passed the half-decade mark with their third album, late-2015’s Don’t Deliver Us (on Bad Omen Records), just one year after their sophomore outing, Die Screaming! crawled up from the foggy ’70s ether. In addition to touring the US with Electric Wizard, with whom Satan’s Satyrs shares bassist Clayton Burgess (also vocals), one assumes the trio spent the remainder of the year mining old VHS discount-bin horror to find inspiration and fitting subject matter for quick-turning cuts like “(Won’t You be My) Gravedancer” and “Crimes and Blood,” but whatever they did, it worked. As “Spooky Nuisance” jams out its Hendrix-via-Sabbath vibing and the subsequent “Germanium Bomb” leans into yet another impressive solo by guitarist Jarrett Nettnin complemented by the fills of drummer Stephen Fairfield, there’s an element of performance to what they do, but whether it’s the proto-doom of closer “Round the Bend” or the motor-chug of “Two Hands,” Satan’s Satyrs find that sweet spot wherein they constantly sound like they’re about to fall apart, but never actually do. For sounding so loose, they are enviably tight.

Satan’s Satyrs on Thee Facebooks

Bad Omen Records

Wildeornes, Erosion of the Self

wildeornes erosion of the self

Sometimes you have an idea for a band, and it’s like, “I’m gonna start a band that puts this genre and this genre together.” In the case of Aussie four-piece Wildeornes, it’s stoner and black metal coming together on their second full-length, Erosion of the Self. I’ll give it to them, they pull it off. I’m not sure the “arising” instead of “rising” in “Serpent Arising” or the “So fucking high!” at the end of “The Subject” are really necessary, but hard to ignore the fact that before they get there, they’ve nodded at Pentagram, Crowbar, and Goatsnake and included a couple measures of blastbeats, or the fact that throughout the album they effectively tilt to one side or the other, riding atmospheric cymbals over a rolling groove in “The Oblivion of Being” only to tap into Nile-brand Egyptology in “Incantation for the Demise of Autumn” only to affect Erosion of the Self‘s biggest chorus on “Winter’s Eve.” Whatever genre tag they, you or I want to give it, their roots are definitely metal, but the juxtaposition they offer within that sphere works for them.

Wildeornes on Thee Facebooks

Wildeornes on Bandcamp

Blackwülf, Oblivion Cycle

blackwulf oblivion cycle

Raw groove is at the core of what Oakland, California’s Blackwülf offer on their second album and Ripple Music debut, Oblivion Cycle. Divided neatly into two sides for an LP, its 10 track hearken to a stripped-down vision of classic metal on “Memories,” Sabbath and Maiden both a factor but not the end of the line when it comes to the four-piece’s influences. Somebody in this band (if not multiple somebodies) is a punker. The two impulses play out in a balance of grand stylization and lean production – to wit, “Wings of Steel” sneers even as it puts a triumphant foot on the stage monitor and gallops off – and if the punk/metal battle isn’t enough of a tip-off, let the umlaut serve as confirmation that these guys are going to miss Lemmy (who isn’t?), but their methods ultimately prove more indebted to Judas Priest than Motörhead by the time they get down to “Never Forget,” which touches on some vocal soaring as it rounds out that feels especially bold as well as well placed as a late gem before the slamming-groove-into-Iommic-flourish of closer “March of the Damned.” As much as Oblivion Cycle has these elements butting heads across its span, that’s not to say Blackwülf lack control or don’t know what they’re doing. Just the opposite. Their pitting ideas against each other is a big part of the appeal, for listeners and likely for the band as well.

Blackwülf on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music

VRSA, Phantom of an Era

vrsa phantom of an era

Four years after issuing their second album, 2011’s Galaxia (review here), late-2015’s Phantom of an Era finds Connecticut’s VRSA a considerably more crunch-laden entity. They’ve have some lineup changes in the past half-decade, which is fair enough, but guitarist Andrius and guitarist/vocalist Josh remain prominent, leading the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist John and drummer Wes through prog-metal cascades, quiet parts shifting on a dime to full-volume assaults or holding off and making the change more gradual as tension builds. Either way, if the end-goal is heavy, VRSA get there, whether it’s the rolling, chugging and growling of “Grand Bois” or the winding and crashing and thrashing of the later “Marble Orchard,” or how closer “Baron Cimetière” sets up its waltz rhythm subtly in the beginning only to bash the listener’s skull with it as the inevitable crushing begins anew. There’s plenty of it to go around on Phantom of an Era, which keeps a consistent air of brutality even as it veers into clean, progressive or atmospheric forms.

VRSA on Thee Facebooks

VRSA on Bandcamp

Marant, High Octane Diesel

marant high octane diesel

As they get down elsewhere with hard-driving, Steak-style post-Kyuss desertism, Swiss four-piece Marant have just a couple of more laid back trips perfectly placed along the path of their debut album, High Octane Diesel. The first of them, “Smoothie,” follows opener “Kathy’s Trophy,” and like the later “Road 222,” it has its more raucous side as well, but the big tone-wash happens with the languid heavy psych roll of closer “N’BaCon?,” also the longest track at 8:47. The effect that varying their modus has on broadening the scope of more straightforward songs like “Evil Schnaps” and “The Good the Bad and the Trip” isn’t to be understated. Not only does it show a different side of the emerging chemistry between vocalist Jimmy, guitarist Sergio Calabrian Donkey, bassist Aff Lee and drummer Sir Oli with Snake, but it gives High Octane Diesel an atmospheric range beyond the desert and into an expanse no less ripe for exploration. Whichever method they employ, Marant engage fluidly across their first record.

Marant on Thee Facebooks

Marant on Bandcamp

Grizzlor, Cycloptic

grizzlor cycloptic

Lot of noise, lot of fuckall, not too many songs. Connecticut trio Grizzlor manage to pack seven songs onto a 7” release called Cycloptic (on Hex Records), most of which hover on either side of 90 seconds apiece. Dissonance, grit and tension pervade the offering front to back, and between “Sundays are Stupid” and “I’m that Asshole,” there’s an edge of experimentation in the vocals and rhythm as well, some starts and stops that add to the songwriting, though the peeled-skin noise rock of “Tommy” and the build-into-mayhem of “Winter Blows” ensure that the business of punkish intensity isn’t left out. Was it a danger to start with? Nah. Closer “Starship Mother Shit” and the earlier “Life’s a Joke” rolls out a sludgy-style groove, but with sneering and shouting overtop and hard-edged percussive punctuation, there’s no question where Grizzlor got all that aggression from. If Grizzlor are playing in the basement, somebody’s gonna call the cops.

Grizzlor on Thee Facebooks

Hex Records

Mother Crone, Awakening

mother crone awakening

Bull-in-a-china-shop’ing their way through nine mostly-blistering tracks in 43 minutes, Seattle trio Mother Crone make their full-length debut with the appropriately titled Awakening, a record that melts doom and thrash together with the best of earliest Mastodon and comes out of it sounding righteous, wildly heavy and solidly in control of their methods. Don’t believe it? First of all, why not? Second, check out the six-minute “Descending the North” – the third track after a beastly opening with the mysteriously JFK-sampling intro “Silt Laden Black” and “Black Sea” – which chugs and twists and stomps through its first half only to drop out to just-guitar ambience and burst to life again with a shredding solo finish that leads to – wait for it – the quiet guitar-and-vocals only spaciousness of “The Dream,” which marks a twist into a more experimental middle quotient of the album, the subsequent “Halocline” and furiously building “Revelation” more experimental in form, before the sludgy “Turning Tides” and raging “Apollyon” make the job of the nine-minute closing title-track even more difficult in summarizing everything that came before it. A task of which that song makes short work. For the momentum they build and the brashness they execute within that, Mother Crone‘s Awakening is indeed bound to stir.

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Psychedelic Witchcraft, Black Magic Man

psychedelic witchcraft black magic man

Italian four-piece Psychedelic Witchcraft issued Black Magic Man in mid-2015 as their debut EP, and wound up selling through both its limited 10” vinyl pressings. For the Twin Earth Records CD version, it’s been expanded by two tracks – still EP length at 27 minutes – and given new artwork that underscores the band’s cultish bent, which comes across strong in the vocals of Virginia Monti, very much at the forefront of the group’s presentation on “Angela” and “Lying in Iron,” the opening duo that give way to the desert-toned push of the title-track, also the strongest hook included. Drummer Daniele Parrella leads the march into the grungier “Slave of Grief,” in which the guitar of Jacopo Fallai will take a noisy forward position in the midsection, giving way later to some blown-out singing from Monti given heft by bassist Riccardo Giuffrè, like 1967 time traveling to 1971. The production on the last two cuts, “Wicked Dream” and “Set Me Free” is audibly different (Vanni also plays bass), more modernly-styled, but the band’s core intent of living up to their name remains true.

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Twin Earth Records

Chimpgrinder & Miscegenator, Split 7″

chimpgrinder miscegenator split

Philadelphia and New York rarely agree on anything, but Chimpgrinder and Miscegenator, who make their homes respectively in those burgs, have come together at least long enough to share a split 7” between them, though of course what they do with that time is vastly different. Chimpgrinder proliferate a raw kind of sludge on their two tracks, not completely void of melody, but more geared toward groove than expanse, “Gates” taking off on an lengthy solo and deciding it’d rather not come back, ending in feedback fading to abrasive noise. That’s a fitting lead-in for what NY’s Miscegenator are up to on the other side, as “Hate Hate Hate” leads off a six-song set of visceral grind. Shit is raw and mean, and it d-beats its way either into your heart or off your turntable – it’s not the kind of music anyone ever played because they were feeling friendly. Blink and its gone, but the punk-rooted abrasion is like as not to leave a scar as closer “Tony Randall was Right” goes slicing, which is a fair enough answer to the pummel Chimpgrinder made their own a whopping five minutes earlier.

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Oak, Oak

oak oak ep

The self-titled, self-released, self-recorded debut EP from London four-piece Oak saves its burliest impression for “Ride with Me,” the third of its four component tracks. That’s not to say that “All Above” and “Queen of this Land” aren’t plenty dudely – the vocals of Andy Wisbey see to that – but “Ride with Me” feels particularly caked in testosterone. Somewhat quizzical that it also finds guitarist/engineer Kevin Germain, bassist Scott Mason and drummer Rob Emms (since replaced by Sergiu, it would seem) vibing out for a bit of quiet desert noodling in the middle and ending with a primo shuffle of the post-Kyuss variety. Maybe it’s a fine line when one considers the body of work of Orange Goblin as an influence, but it gives a different context to the two songs before and certainly to the stonerly bounce of “Dissolve” after to know that Oak have more in their playbook than the standard beer-pounding and chestbeating. Should be interesting to hear how the various impulses play out as they more forward.

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Samavayo & The Grand Astoria, Split: Soul on Kobaïa

Posted in On Wax, Reviews on July 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

samavayo the grand astoria split 10 inch cover and record

Released to mark a month-long tour together earlier this year, the Setalight Records split 10″ between Berlin heavy rockers Samavayo and Russian genrenauts The Grand Astoria holds a few surprises along the way. Pressed to black vinyl, it’s a follow-up to Samavayo‘s 2014 joint release with One Possible Option, and for The Grand Astoria, who’ve worked with Setalight in the past on 2014’s La Belle Epoque (review here), as well as 2013’s Punkadelica Supreme (review here) and several other short releases along the way.

Though on paper it might seem like an awkward pairing — come to think of it, just about anybody paired with The Grand Astoria is kind of awkward on paper; their sound is expansive, and they’re more than capable songwriters, but you never quite know what they’re going to do next — they mesh pretty well, and with a side split between them, both bands give a quick glimpse at where they’re at stylistically without completely losing a thread going one into the other.

One might notice The Grand Astoria‘s skull-headed mascot on the cover art by Sophia Miroedova walking away from a temple — or maybe having his portrait painted in front of it? — over which Samavayo‘s sun-style logo resides in the sky. Both acts, then, are represented, one perhaps more subtly than the other. It’s much the same way with the music. On side A, Samavayo offer two tracks: “Intergalactic Hunt” (4:03) and “Soul out of Control” (8:06), while on side B, The Grand Astoria reaffirm their shift toward progressive rock with “Kobaïa Express” (11:30).

Each cut is distinct from those around it, one way or another, and “Intergalactic Hunt” stands out for its immediate sense of movement, the guitar of Behrang Alavi (also vocals) setting a tight rhythm that drummer/backing vocalist Stephan Voland and bassist/backing vocalist Andreas Voland match both in groove and nuance, building and releasing tension in the instrumental verses and chorus of the first half before shifting in the second to a bridge that gradually leads them back to where they started, the guitar line that started it all serving also as the leadout. Fitting somehow for Samavayo in terms of showing their range that they should go from an entirely instrumental track to one centered almost completely on its vocal hook.

Well, “almost completely” is a stretch. “Soul out of Control” still has its riff — a more laid back chug over which Alavi calls to mind any number of ’90s alt melodies — and at eight minutes, there’s plenty of room for Samavayo to give the song a sense of space. They do precisely that, even slowing down over the last two minutes to march the way out, but “Soul out of Control” remains a deceptively quick listen for topping eight minutes, and that too suits Samavayo well, their songwriting always at the core no matter how expansive a given track may or may not be.

And speaking of expansive, The Grand Astoria‘s “Kobaïa Express” takes its name from the fictional planet created by Magma drummer Christian Vander — or at least from the train that presumably gets you there with the minimum of stops en route — and is presented in the accompanying alien language, a morass of syllables sometimes closer to Italian, sometimes more Slavic depending on where the music is going in any particular movement. And it does go. Recorded as the six-piece of Kamille Sharapodinov (vocals, electric and acoustic guitar), Danila Danilov (vocals, keys, flute), Eugene Korolkov (bass), Vladimir Zinoviev (drums), and Igor Suvorov (lead guitar) with Ravil Azizov on clarinet, “Kobaïa Express” is nigh on visionary progressive metal, at times operatic and at times grinding, but always precise, heavy and intricately constructed.

The Grand Astoria have already followed this split up with a two-song full-length titled The Mighty Few on which each track tops 20 minutes, so we know it’s not as far as they’ll push into fleshing out arrangements and the like, but “Kobaïa Express” thrills nonetheless for its direct Magma-ism and the poise the band demonstrates throughout, and Samavayo‘s inclusions, both of which were recorded at the end of last year, bode well for what they might do on their own next outing. If nothing else, the moral of the story with their split would seem to be that that must have been one hell of a tour. Even though it’s long since over, the scope both bands show here does justice to the fact that they got together in the first place and unites in unexpected ways across a bridge of progressive stylization and heavy craftsmanship.

Samavayo & The Grand Astoria, Split (2015)

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Setalight Records

 

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