Review & Full Album Stream: Geezer, Psychoriffadelia

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

geezer psychoriffadelia

[Click play above to stream Geezer’s Psychoriffadelia in its entirety. It’s out June 9 via Kozmik Artifactz and STB Records.]

There are multiple angles of approach one might take when it comes to Geezer‘s fourth long-player, Psychoriffadelia. Like the title itself, the tracks are a mash of the different ideas the New York-based band have been advancing since their beginnings, working in a scope of heavy psychedelic jamming, classic heavy rock, heavy blues and often more than a touch of stoner sleaze. No, it’s not a coincidence that I used the word “heavy” three separate times in that last sentence. That’s been a running theme for Geezer‘s work all along, from their 2013 debut, Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues through the EP-turned-full-length Gage (review here) and most realized on last year’s self-titled third outing (review here), and Psychoriffadelia finds them more than happy to pick up the thread and run with it for the course of its five tracks and 39 minutes, delivered through Kozmik Artifactz in Europe and STB Records in North America.

One finds, however, that the most defining aspect of Psychoriffadelia might just be transience. There is evidence of growth even from where the self-titled had them to be heard in the overall balance between jammy flow and songcraft — Geezer have taken the lessons of Texas’ Wo Fat (who in 2009 put out an album called Psychedelonaut and might be this generation’s masters of the form in the US) and incorporated them into their Northeastern grit — and their sound is ever more identifiable as their own with guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington coming across as more comfortable in tackling vocal melodies on a cut like “Red Hook,” but with the bulk of the material recorded live in the studio — Redbird Studio in NYC — in a single day, the natural vibe that persists as a result, and the inextricable link between Psychoriffadelia‘s release and Geezer‘s first-ever European tour, set for this summer, it’s a fleeting sensibility that most emerges from this material. The fruit of a moment that, no matter what Geezer do from this point on in their tenure, won’t come again.

Add to that the lineup factor. Harrington and bassist Richie Touseull work here with Charles Ruggiero, who steps in to take the place of founding drummer Chris TurcoRuggiero is an ex-bandmate of Harrington‘s in woefully-monikered hard rockers Slunt, so it’s no surprise to find there’s chemistry there based on their past experience playing together, but though he’ll play on the tour as well, Ruggiero is still officially filling in for Turco. So even in their makeup in terms of who’s playing, Geezer seem to be captured here in a state of flux. All the better to get that cover of Nazareth‘s “Hair of the Dog” to tape while the getting’s good. That cowbell-infused, attitude-laden classic serves as Geezer‘s launch for Psychoriffadelia, and Harrington‘s gravely voice does well in taking on its mega-hook, “Now you’re messing with the son of a bitch,” delivering the line with a swagger that goes on to inform the rest of side A in “Stressknots” and the 10-minute “Psychoriffadelia” itself. The former is a chugging enterprise of marked heft and fuzz but a creeping melodic verse, building in energy as it shifts toward its chorus, Geezer working effectively in their more straightforward songcraft modus on what’s the shortest inclusion here, original or otherwise, at 4:40.

An open, bluesy bridge just past the three-minute mark leads back to the charge of the hook and they finish with a section of crackling noise and sparse guitar ambience, leading into the start of the title-track, which buzzes to life over the course of its first 30 seconds before a subdued guitar establishes the defining line for the jam that unfolds. It is especially telling that “Psychoriffadelia” is instrumental in its entirety, as it sends a clear signal of the shift in approach that it marks moving into the rest of the album that bears its name, which, though built to be split over two sides, nonetheless has a linear flow from the title-track into “Red Hook” and 13-minute closer “Dirty Penny.” Transitions are smooth throughout, but the manner in which the cuts in Psychoriffadelia‘s back half feed off each other and the more languid vibe feels like a definite departure from the more raucous “Hair of the Dog” and “Stressknots” — though the finale certainly makes an impression with its hook and strikes a balance between the “psycho,” the “riffa” and the “delia” — and it’s the title-track that serves as the beginning point of that.

geezer photo jj koczan

Even in this linearity, one finds that theme of transience playing out. The turn from “Psychoriffadelia” to the six-minute “Red Hook” is accomplished with a seeming nod to Monster Magnet-style fluidity, and though moodier in its affect, the latter cut is unquestionably the highlight of the album. It’s the most patient and psychedelic unfurling Geezer have executed to-date, and while in the past, a serene beginning like that of “Red Hook” might’ve led to a burst-out of bluesy, boozy heavy riffing — nothing wrong with that — this time, Harrington, Touseull and Ruggiero keep the vibe quiet, thoughtful and emotionally resonant in its melody, adding a new level of depth to their approach not found on the self-titled or any of their releases preceding. In the quick turnaround from their last offering, “Red Hook” is the clearest example on Psychoriffadelia of Geezer‘s continued creative growth. It’s not the only one, but it’s the clearest, and particularly after the immersion of the centerpiece title-track, its arrival feels like it’s being given a distinguished position in the course of the album. That is to say, they know it’s something special, which it is.

After its watery psych strum enters its long fadeout, the low hum that starts “Dirty Penny” takes hold and Harrington‘s voice echoes out the line, “Your pretty face is going to hell,” from deep in the mix, foreshadowing the standout line of the chorus that will serve as Geezer‘s final hook for Psychoriffadelia. Though more grounded than “Red Hook” and more structured feeling than the title-track, “Dirty Penny” still carries a drowsy spirit in its early going, picking up after the three-minute mark with more of a push en route to a quick guitar solo and final runthrough of the sleazy chorus — I’m sure there’s a story to it, but yeah: sleaze — and another, more extended and multi-layered stretch of impressive fretwork that serves as the beginning point for the jam that will consume the rest of the track, beginning in earnest at around six minutes in and expanding outward from there. Funky at the eight-minute mark, explosive by 9:30 and drifting into its compressed slide-and-strum just after 11 minutes in, the ending of “Dirty Penny” feels somewhat pieced together, but that’s also the point, and in that, it reinforces the stylistic patchwork that makes up the record’s title and overarching execution alike.

Geezer have always had an element of self-awareness to their approach, so that they would on Psychoriffadelia as well is nothing new, but what’s important to take from the release is that it shows even in a hurried mindset — putting this version of the band and these freshly-composed songs to tape before the opportunity passed — the band are able to conjure a sense of sonic progression. That’s pivotal, of course, but for most listeners it will be secondary to the quality of the material itself (and probably rightly so), but fortunately for the trio and their audience alike, that also holds up here. Psychoriffadelia finds Geezer mature in their style and firm in the knowledge of who they are and what they want to be as a group, building gracefully on their past aesthetic accomplishments while maintaining the roll, nod, blues and edge that has served them so well thus far. With the palpable development they’ve undertaken and the results that has yielded, Geezer have never sounded so ready for export.

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Review & Track Premiere: Wounded Giant, Vae Victis

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Wounded-Giant-Vae-Victis

[Click play above to stream ‘Scum of the Earth’ by Wounded Giant. Vae Victis is out April 1 on STB Records.]

Translated from the Latin, the title of Wounded Giant‘s second long-player, Vae Victis, reads as ‘woe to the defeated.’ I’m not sure what contextually that might have to do with the image of Grigori Rasputin, whose wide-eyed glare haunts the mushroom-laden front cover of the regularly-topless Seattle band’s first full-length for STB Records, which arrives following their 2015 split with Goya (review here) on the same label and a self-released 2013 debut album, Lightning Medicine, unless they’re somehow making reference to the Russian Revolution, but if defeat is the theme throughout Vae Victis, the band seem to do an awful lot of conquering for it to work on a meta level.

Rather, from the nine-minute opening title-track — also the longest cut of the seven included (immediate points) — the three-piece stomp and chug their way triumphantly through a dense slog of riffly mud and Pacific Coast grode, gleefully coated in hesher grungus on the Matt Pike-schooled “Vae Victis” itself and all that follows, whether it’s the interlude “Emmanentize the Eschaton” with samples from the Jonestown death tape or the nodding groove they bring to the politically suspect and woefully catchy take on Devo‘s “Mongoloid” that closes. One does not imagine guitarist/vocalist Bobby James, bassist Dylan A. Rogers or drummer Alex Bytnar would be quick to claim any such victories unless perhaps the requisite trophy came coated in mud and had a statue on top flipping the bird, but the LP-limit-stretching 49-minute run of Vae Victis, produced by Billy Anderson and presented in STB‘s usual gorgeous array of limited and deluxe vinyl editions (one includes a ring), could easily put a few notches in its belt if it so chose.

To wit, Wounded Giant have their own nine-percent ABV beer courtesy of Oliver Brewing. Woe to your defeated liver.

The first line of the album? “I love corruption.” What unfolds from there in the title-cut — which includes its own translation — is a deceptive hook that arrives amid blown-out, riff-led sludge rock, somewhere between Sleep and High on Fire that establishes the tones but not necessarily the complete methodology or scope with which Wounded Giant will work on subsequent tracks. As an opener and accounting for roughly 20 percent of the album, though, its willful filth resounds amid all the drop-out-of-life proselytizing and increasingly harsh, noise-soaked paranoia, ending finally in a scream that gives way to the tom hits and rumble at the start of “Dystheist.”

Shorter, the second cut takes momentum from the end of “Vae Victis” and shoves it along via chugging guitar and double-kick from Bytnar, a more subdued vocal from James marking out a low-fuzzed verse that shifts into an explosive chorus, underlining an influence from thrash in its interplay between tension and release and leaving space in the second half for a guitar solo still too slow to call shredding but that gets the job done anyway and adds depth under the resurgent vocals as the apex hits.

An apparent drawdown is in the works, however, as the organ (or effects-guitar) of “Emmanentize the Eschaton” backs an even slower and even quieter launch for that four-plus-minute break, Wounded Giant moving toward the hypnotic perhaps in an effort to lull listeners into a false sense of security prior to the bludgeoning they’ll receive with centerpiece “Scum of the Earth” and “The Room of the Torch,” the two seven-minute slabs that follow. Either way, the Jonestown clips are manipulated for a suitably otherworldly feel and the ambience builds to some measure of payoff, though purposefully restrained.

Effectively so in making “Scum of the Earth” seem like a return to ground. Unless “Mongoloid” is a bonus track left off one or the other of the LP editions, I don’t know where the split between vinyl sides occurs, but presumably it’s “Scum of the Earth” starting side B, and if so, it seems fair to call the ensuing final four tracks of Vae Victis more straightforward than the first three, and as a (potential) second opener, “Scum of the Earth” sets that in motion. Rolling motion. Tense motion. Furious motion. The middle cut offers a hook and a payoff ending that make it a standout among its peer inclusions, again propelled by Bytnar‘s drumming, and the flow into the organ and tambourine intro of “The Room of the Torch,” over which James declares, “This is a love song,” before howling, is palpable; the groove of the subsequent track about as dug in as Wounded Giant get on their second outing. They execute it with a patience that seems far removed from “Dystheist,” but still maintain an energy especially in the later moments, the guitar working in some melody in a plotted lead over galloping kick and metallic winding basslines.

It comes apart at the end rather than claiming its ultimate victory — so close — but the slowdown into the post-Electric Wizard “Green Scar” is another marked win anyhow, with cleaner vocals and a grueling downer vibe that echoes some of what they did in the first half of the album without such a drastic departure in songwriting. As the last of the originals, “Green Scar” does right to finish with its chorus and a move into fading rumble and noise, as if to highlight the underlying core of structure that’s been at work on Vae Victis all along, if barely recognizable as such for the roughing-up it has received on an aesthetic level. “Mongoloid,” which was controversial upon its release in 1979, rounds out, and to their credit, Wounded Giant do well in recognizing what they can bring to its nodding rhythm tonally. I’m not sure they need it given the heavy lifting their own songs do in conveying their progression since the debut, but I doubt it’ll meet with much protest. Heavy Devo? Yeah, okay.

Across its two halves and six original inclusions, Vae Victis is quick to make a show of its corrosive aspects, but the ultimate story of the record is as much about what Wounded Giant accomplish in putting a spin on the churning semi-metal morass as it is about the thematic woes and defeats that may or may not outwardly define it. That duality can be heard in the interplay between songs on each side as well as in the fuckall that the trio proffer in their general attitude, but though it may seem incongruous at first, over repeat listens it provides Vae Victis with a depth that only makes the experience richer and more satisfying over a longer term. Wounded Giant are good at wallowing, in other words. They get sonic dirt under their fingernails and aren’t shy about putting it on display. And in so doing, they find a way to celebrate defeat without sacrificing the edge of loss amid the revelry.

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Year of the Cobra Shows in France and Germany Start March 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra single

No strangers to spending time on the road at this point, Year of the Cobra are set to make their first trip abroad. The occasion is an appearance set for March 4 at Hell Over Hammaburg, but they’ll be doing headlining gigs starting March 1 in Lille, France, with other shows in Germany as they continue to support their 2016 STB Records debut album,  …In the Shadows Below (review here), as well as the limited single you can see above, originally put out by H42 Records and sold through last year, but the final copies of which the Seattle duo will have with them for the shows.

Upon their return, Year of the Cobra will take part March 11 in this year’s Ceremony of Sludge in Portland (info here), and they were also recently confirmed for adding a Pink Floyd cover to the impending Magnetic Eye Records tribute, The Wall [Redux], for which a crowdfunding campaign is on now (info here).

To top it all off, the band gives the hint below that they’ll be back in Europe this fall for a more complete tour. I would be downright amazed if that didn’t include one or more of the autumn festivals — Desertfest Belgium or Athens, Keep it Low, etc. — but that’s speculation on my part for now and we’ll have to see what comes together over the next few months. Seems fair to expect Year of the Cobra to have more US activity in the works as well, so keep an eye out.

Here’s the latest info:

year of the cobra european tour

This is YOTC’s first European tour and we’re heading over to play Hell Over Hammaburg Festival in Hamburg, Germany. We’re playing a handful of headlining dates around the festival in Germany and France.

H42 Records released a limited edition 7″, specifically for Hell Over Hammaburg and our tour – which sold out online within hours. We’ll have a small number of these for sale at our shows, they are the only copies available.

We’re planning on heading back to Europe in the fall for a full European tour.

Year of the Cobra on tour:
March 1 Lille FR
March 2 Essen DE
March 3 Berlin DE
March 4 Hamburg DE – Hell Over Hammaburg
March 5 Freiburg DE

http://yearofthecobra.com
https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
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Year of the Cobra, “Persephone” official video

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Shroud Eater Premiere 13-Minute Single “:th:ree: :cvrses:”

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

shroud eater

On Feb. 8, Miami three-piece Shroud Eater will unleash a new 13-minute single different from everything they’ve done before. Known generally for a pummeling sludge, varying from all-out assault to being tinged with atmosphere, the trio’s last outing was also a single, 2015’s Face the Master (video premiere here), and it was a suitable follow-up to the intensity of 2013’s Dead Ends EP (review here) and their 2011 debut full-length, ThunderNoise (review here). The only bummer was there wasn’t more to go around. Their long-overdue sophomore album, Strike the Sun, was announced last summer as set for release through STB Records, and the band has continued to play shows all the while, but the new song “:th:ree: :cvrses:” — translated to “Three Curses” — is a suckerpunch wall of noise that, again, is unlike anything Shroud Eater have delivered to-date.

Well, there are three of them, and there are three curses, so if you want to find a decent place to start, that’s probably it. The reality of “:th:ree: :cvrses:,” though, has its makings in a night of Miami’s International Noise Conference curated by Beatriz Monteavaro of Holly Hunt. It gave the band an outlet perhaps they didn’t even know they were looking for in terms of experimentation and branching beyond the core aggression of their sound, and “:th:ree: :cvrses:” is a studio offshoot of that, finding guitarist/vocalist Jean Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and drummer/vocalist/engineer Davin Sosa all contributing synth. The primary vocal impression of the track comes from samples obscured by an opaque, murky wash of drone, as “:th:ree: :cvrses:” brazenly departs chugging and winding riffs in favor of an ambient sprawl that lasts for its entire runtime, but there are far-back screams and shouts as well, also buried alive under noise, that bring to mind something that might show up on a modern Burning Witch album were such a thing to exist. In other words, it is unremittingly dark.

shroud eater three cursesIf you’re having a really nice day, you might want to hold off. Or at very least prepare your psyche for a considerable turnaround in mood, because this is no mere dabble. In fact, if anything draws “:th:ree: :cvrses:” into a recognizable sphere for Shroud Eater, it’s the headfirst-dive, full-plunge they make into these atmospheric horrors. Boldness is nothing new for SaizValentine and Sosa, and that goes back to the band’s earliest output in their formative 2009 demo (review here), but there’s little they’ve done that would prepare the fanbase they’ve built for this turn. And that’s what makes it work. On a sheer level of sonics and in terms of methodology, the expansion that “:th:ree: :cvrses:” represents makes Shroud Eater‘s processes that much richer and carries the feeling of an exorcism — something the band had to purge out of their collective system. I asked them to tell me about the song’s origins — you can see their responses under the player below — because I wanted to know what impulses they were following in its making, and you’ll note as you read that all three members make particular mention of enjoying the prospect of what this might eventually bring to their core sound.

Sosa calls it “refreshing,” while Valentine puts forth the possibility of more noise-based releases and Saiz backs her up and confirms more experimentalism to come. The only question at this point is whether “:th:ree: :cvrses:” becomes a working model for one-offs — a noisy incarnation of Shroud Eater — or a general move toward ambience they’re able to apply progressively to the sludge songwriting that’s been more familiar from them. I do not know which way they’ll go, if either, but listening to the horror show that “:th:ree: :cvrses:” conjures across its consuming and extended span, one more thing that ties the piece to the rest of their work is the mountain of potential it represents. One hates to think of anything delaying their second album further as we move toward six years post-ThunderNoise, but they’ve opened a doorway here and given themselves a fresh side to explore, and one is likewise excited at the prospect of what they might find as they creep deeper within the contrast. We’ll see.

Please find the stream of “:th:ree: :cvrses:” below, followed by the aforementioned quotes from SaizValentine and Sosa. Once again, the official release date is Feb. 8.

Enjoy:

“:th:ree: :cvrses:” is performed by Shroud Eater: Jean Saiz (vocals, guitar, synthesizer), Janette Valentine (bass, synthesizer), Davin Sosa (vocals, drums, synthesizer). With additional instrumentation by Lauren Palma (guitars), Zeus Chirinos (bass). Recorded & engineered by Davin Sosa. Mixed & Mastered by Aric Meerbot.

Davin Sosa on “:th:ree: :cvrses:”:

The idea for the track came from our inclusion in last year’s INC (International Noise Conference), among other things. We prepared a 15-minute piece between two synthesizers and a noisemaker. Wielding the atmosphere instead of our guitars and drums was really damn fun, not to mention refreshing! It only made sense to try and record it proper. Another motivating factor for me was the new Boris x Merzbow record released around the same time. Their use of weird, affected vocals and overwhelming walls of sound was a big influence on my contributions to the track. Definitely wouldn’t mind doing more like this in the future!

Janette Valentine on “:th:ree: :cvrses:”:

I’ve been eager to try something different and new as a band and this was the perfect thing for us to tap into. I dig noise that is heavy, sinister and sad. Holding down the groove and mood on synths is something I plan to continue to do, and my hopes are that we can record a full EP that explores more of this dark and meditative realm.

Jean Saiz on “:th:ree: :cvrses:”:

In all honesty, the idea of creating noise as music was pretty foreign to me at first. After attending and watching friends perform at the International Noise Conference for a few years, there was definitely certain soundscapes and moods that I was really drawn to and resonated with me. During the summer of 2014, where we were sans-drummer and Davin had yet to join the band, I listened almost exclusively to weird, avant-garde, drone, noise, experimental stuff; I didn’t want to hear anything that sounded like a traditional rock/metal/whatever song. Fast forward a bit, and as previously mentioned we were asked to perform at INC on a night curated by Holly Hunt’s Beatriz Monteavaro, and immediately we all knew as a band we were going to ditch the guitar, bass, and drums formula and do something different. What followed was a kind of loose structure of synths, noisemakers and doped-out, meditative vocals that we used as a base for what would later be properly recorded on :th:ree: :cvrses:. We’ll definitely be doing more experimental recordings in the future, as the three of us really enjoyed the freedoms associated with creating something that’s so out there and starkly different from the usual Shroud Eater sound.

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Tomorrow’s Dream: 200+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
54. Dealer
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
72. Greenbeard
73. Green Desert Water
74. Greenleaf
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
86. Mastodon
87. Merlin, The Wizard
88. Merchant
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
94. MotherSloth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
97. Orango
98. Papir
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
107. Sólstafir
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
109. Spelljammer
110. Spidergawd, IV
111. Steak
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
114. Summoner
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
118. Toke
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
121. Weedpecker
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
127. Bantoriak
128. Bask
129. BCAD
130. BoneHawk
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
139. Devil
140. Devil Worshipper
141. Duel
142. Dustrider
143. Egypt
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
146. Farflung
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
149. Gozu
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
153. Horrendous
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
163. Mangoo
164. Mondo Drag
165. Monolord
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
168. Naxatras
169. Never Got Caught
170. Ommadon
171. Orchid
172. Ordos
173. Pilgrim
174. Poseidon
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
177. Sasquatch
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
180. Shabda
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
188. Superchief
189. Tÿburn
190. YOB
191. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

192. Across Tundras
193. Eggnogg
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
200. Kadavar
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
203. Lowrider
204. Masters of Reality
205. Om
206. Orodruin
207. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

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Hornss Premiere “Manzanita” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hornss

It’s short at about two and a half minutes, but with their new video, San Francisco-based trio Hornss seem to stake a direct claim on their desert heritage. The clip for the low-end-centric groover cut “Manzanita” was put together by guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha, and it finds its summary moment at the very end of the track, when we see bassist/vocalist Nick Nava standing in front of an impossibly open landscape, holding his Rickenbacker aloft, possibly in an offering, possibly as his means of conquer. Hard to know which, but in the brief span of the video, which features a swath of manipulated footage of the three-piece of Moracha, Nava and drummer Bil Bowman hanging out in what one assumes is the Palm Springs area, Hornss engage a desert vibe in a manner fitting for the song itself, which takes its name from the manzanita plant that grows there.

Hornss released their second album, Telepath (review here), last year via STB Records and Ripple Music. The answer back to 2014’s No Blood No Sympathy (review here), it furthered the sometimes-raw-and-punkish/sometimes-rolling-and-nodding spirit of the first outing while keeping to an overarching thrust that was without pretense and full in its sound, despite coming across as organic to a live experience. Shit was heavy, in other words. What it wasn’t, necessarily, was desert rock in the way one commonly thinks of languid fuzz or post-Kyuss riffery. Nonetheless, as Moracha and Nava both trace their roots back to the desert band Solarfeast — they’re also featured in the Lo Sound Desert documentary (review here); Bowman‘s path to Hornss seems to have been more roundabout — they don’t by any means owe some explanation for why they’re there (could’ve been seeing family for all I know) or why they’d still consider that area an important element in what they do, despite currently being based in the Bay Area.

That duality — the push and pull of home — I think is something to which I think anyone who’s moved from one area to another can probably relate. We could have a whole conversation about what it means to be “from a place,” but probably better to just let Hornss explain their side of things with the video itself. Their argument is admirably concise where, rest assured, my own would not be.

This coming Saturday, Jan. 21, Hornss play Bender’s Bar and Grill in San Francisco with Fatso Jetson and BigPig. More info on that show is available at the Thee Facebooks event page listed under the video itself, which you’ll find below.

Please enjoy:

Hornss, “Manzanita” official video

HORNSS have gained a worldwide reputation among the stoner rock and doom scene, taking the stage with fellow heavy hitters such as Ufomammut, YOB, Windhand, Bang, Black Cobra, Fatso Jetson, Lord Dying, Naam and Elder. They also co-headlined a successful 2014 European tour with Vancouver’s Black Wizard.

Telepath is the follow-up to the band’s acclaimed debut album, No Blood, No Sympathy, released in 2013 on Riding Easy Records. Recorded by Tim Green (Saviours, Melvins, KARP, Comets on Fire, Hot Lunch), the guys recorded this one directly to analog tape at Green’s Louder Studios in Grass Valley, CA.

Hornss with Fatso Jetson & BigPig event page

Hornss on Thee Facebooks

Hornss on Bandcamp

Hornss at STB Records

Hornss at Ripple Music

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Curse the Son Sign to Ripple Music

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

Ripple Music has picked up Curse the Son. It’s a match made in fuzz.

Last time we heard from Connecticut’s primo rollers of riff was in October, when the Hamden-based three-piece were announcing that their third album, Isolator (review here), would be out on vinyl through The Company Records sometime early in 2017. Well, if you’d like to put a tighter figure on that, I’d guess it’s going to be sometime around April, since that seems to be when Ripple will do their CD edition of the record and start selling it digitally as well. It remains available in the interim from Curse the Son‘s Bandcamp, and is linked and streaming below, though I’m not sure for how long. Sometimes these things get pulled ahead of a re-release like this.

Of course, Isolator had an initial CD pressing in 2016, through Snake Charmer Coalition, also home to Merchant, King Bison and Shadow Witch. But, as it sold through the pressing and that label seems to be defunct at least for the time being — never say never to a comeback — the snag on Ripple‘s part couldn’t be more fortuitous as they continue to move into the forefront of US underground heavy rock purveyors. One gets the feeling Curse the Son are going to be part of a big year for them, though that’s not really much of a prediction considering the strength of the material they released in 2016.

Nonetheless, good for the band, good for the label, and good for anyone who missed out on Isolator‘s original release and will get the chance to hear it now. Especially good for them.

Announcement and info follow:

curse the son ripple music

We said there were some exciting signings to announce. Please welcome Curse the Son to Ripple with. CD/digital release for their monumental epic of doom, “Isolator”. Coming to you this April. More to come.

Emerging from the untimely demise of stoner rockers Sufferghost, Curse the Son is a plodding distorted sonic wall of Sabbathian riffage.

A power trio in the truest sense…..screaming amps…tons of fuzz…fat bass..thick riffin…lots of smokin!

Get high, tune low & play slow.

Isolator Tracklisting:
1. Isolator
2. Callous Unemotional Traits
3. Sleepwalker Wakes
4. Hull Crush Depth
5. Gaslighter
6. Aislamiento
7. Side Effects May Include…

Curse the Son is:
Ron Vanacore – Guitars and Vocals
Michael Petrucci – Drums
Brendan Keefe – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/cursetheson/
https://cursetheson.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Curse the Son, Isolator (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Red Fang, Black Moon Circle, Druglord, Drone Hunter, Holy Serpent, Lugweight, Megaritual, Red Lama, Lacy, Valborg

Posted in Reviews on December 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Feeling good going into day two of the Quarterly Review. The good news about how heavy music has become such a vast universe is that there’s always plenty to cover without having to really dig into stuff I don’t find interesting. Of course, the other side of that is feeling constantly behind the curve and overwhelmed by it all, but let’s not talk about that for the moment. Point is that as we make our way through this week and into the next — because, remember, it’s six days this time, not five — a big part of me still feels like I’m just scratching the surface of everything that’s out there. It still seems just to be a fraction of the whole story being told around the world in the riffiest of languages. We all do what we can, I guess. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Red Fang, Only Ghosts

red-fang-only-ghosts

Four albums into one of the decade’s most successful and influential heavy rock careers, doesn’t it seem like Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang are due for a truly great record? Their 2013 outing, Whales and Leeches (discussed here), was rushed by the band’s own admission – their focus, as ever, on touring – and Only Ghosts (on Relapse) unites them with producer Ross Robinson and mixer Joe Barresi, two considerable names to bring heft and presence to the 10-track/42-minute outing. And I’ve no doubt that “Shadows” and the bigger-grooving “The Smell of the Sound” and opener “Flies” kick ass when delivered from the stage, and it’s true they sound more considered with the ambience of “Flames” positioned early, but Only Ghosts still comes across like a collection of songs united mostly by the timeframe in which they were written. Doesn’t mean they don’t build on Whales and Leeches, but now five years on from 2011’s Murder the Mountains (review here), and with their dynamic, charged and momentum-driven sound firmly established, Red Fang still seem to be at the threshold of some crucial forward step rather than stomping all over it as one might hope.

Red Fang on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Black Moon Circle, Sea of Clouds

black-moon-circle-sea-of-clouds

After releasing a self-titled debut (review here) and the follow-up Andromeda (review here) in 2014, 2016’s Sea of Clouds (on Crispin Glover/Stickman) is the third proper studio full-length from Norway’s Black Moon Circle – though at that point, define “proper.” In 2015, the trio/four-piece – Trondheim-based guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen, plus Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective on synth – also released The Studio Jams Vol. I (discussed here) and in addition to the four tracks of Sea of Clouds, they’ve also had a Vol. II (review here) out this year. The definitions become fluid, is what I’m saying, and that couldn’t be more appropriate for the sound of “Lunar Rocket,” the outward-gazing space rock of “The Magnificent Dude,” “Moondog” and “Warp Speed,” which indeed offer enough kosmiche expanse to make one wonder where the song ends and the jam begins. Or, you know, reality. One has to wonder if Black Moon Circle might bridge the gap at some point between studio improv and more plotted songwriting, but as it stands, neither side of their dual personality fails to engage with its flow and drift.

Black Moon Circle on Thee Facebooks

Black Moon Circle at Stickman Records

Black Moon Circle at Crispin Glover Records

 

Druglord, Deepest Regrets

druglord-deepest-regrets

A one-sided 12” EP issued by STB Records in late 2015 as the follow-up to Richmond dirge-fuzzer trio Druglord’s debut album, Enter Venus (review here), the three-track Deepest Regrets represents the band’s final studio material with bassist Greta Brinkman (ex-L7) in the lineup, who’s since been replaced by Julian Cook. That distinction matters in no small part because so much of Druglord’s purposes on Deepest Regrets’ three component songs – “Regret to Dismember,” “Speedballs to Hell” and “Heaven Tonight” – is about reveling in low end. Rawer than was the album preceding, they find guitarist/vocalist/organist Tommy Hamilton, Brinkman and drummer Bobby Hufnell emitting an oozing lurch, blasting out thickened motor-riffing, and fortifying a darkly psychedelic drear – in that order. True to EP form, each song gives a sampling of some of what Druglord has to offer coming off the album, and with a recording job by Garrett Morris, who also helmed the LP, it remains a fair look at where they might head next, despite the shift in lineup.

Druglord on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

 

Holy Serpent, Temples

holy serpent temples

Melbourne’s Holy Serpent return with Temples (on RidingEasy), their second full-length after 2015’s self-titled debut (review here), and continue to offer an engaging blend of well-blazed psychedelia and heavier-rolling groove. Especially considering they’ve still only been a band for two years, the four-piece of guitarists Nick Donoughue and Scott Penberthy (the latter also vocals), bassist Dave Barlett and Lance Leembrugen remain striking in their cohesion of purpose, and Temples opener “Purification by Fire” and ensuing cuts like the fuzz-wall centerpiece “Toward the Sands” and echo-laden “The Black Stone” only continue to stretch their intentions toward ever more acid-ic flow. They called it “shroom doom” last time out, and seem to have moved away from that self-branding, but however one wants to label Temples, its five tracks/43 minutes push ahead from where Holy Serpent were just a year ago and, rounding out with the slower churn of “Sativan Harvest,” still reminds that mind expansion and deeply weighted tonecraft are by no means mutually exclusive.

Holy Serpent on Thee Facebooks

Holy Serpent at RidingEasy Records

 

Drone Hunter, Welcome to the Hole

drone hunter welcome to the hole

Self-releasing Croatian instrumental trio Drone Hunter devise vigilantly straightforward riffing on their second album, Welcome to the Hole, finding room for some charm in titles like “Wine Dick,” “Crazy Ants with Shotguns” and the closing “A Burning Sensation,” the latter of which seems to draw particularly from the playbook of Karma to Burn. That comparison is almost inevitable for any riff-led/sans-vocal three-piece working in this form, but the crunch in “Fog Horn” and “Waltz of the Iron Countess” isn’t without its own personality either, and as with a host of acts from the Croatian underground, they seem to have a current of metal to their approach that, in the case of Welcome to the Hole, only makes the entire affair seem tighter and more precise while maintaining tonal presence. Fitz (guitar), Klen (bass) and Rus (drums) might not be much for words or last names, but their sophomore full-length comprises solid riffs and grooves and doesn’t seem to ask anything more than a nod from its audience. A price easily paid.

Drone Hunter on Thee Facebooks

Drone Hunter on Bandcamp

 

Lugweight, Yesterday

lugweight yesterday

Lugweight is comprised solely of Brooklyn-via-Richmond-Virginia transplant Eric Benson, and the project makes its full-length debut with the evocatively-titled drone wash of Yesterday following one EP and preceding another. Fair to call it an experimental release, since that’s kind of the nature of the aesthetic, but Benson demonstrates a pretty clear notion of the sort of noise he’s interested in making, and there’s plenty of it on Yesterday in “Sleeping on Cocaine,” on which one can hear the undulating wavelengths emanating from speaker cones, or the penultimate “Love Song for the Insane,” which features chanting vocals in echoes cutting through a tonal morass but still somehow obscure. A 33-minute five-tracker, Yesterday doesn’t overstay its welcome, but alternates between sonic horrors and warmer immersion in the shorter centerpiece “Bleed My Sorrow” and closer “Show Me Where the Shovel Is,” coming dangerously close in the latter to doom riffing that one might almost dare to put drums to. Solo drone guitar, even when this thick, is never for everyone, but one doubts Benson was shooting for accessibility anyhow.

Lugweight on Bandcamp

Forcefield Records website

 

Megaritual, Eclipse

megaritual eclipse

To hear Australia’s Megaritual tell it, the 25-minute single-song Eclipse EP was recorded on Mt. Jerusalem in New South Wales this past summer, the one-man outfit of vocalist/guitarist/sitarist/drummer Dale Paul Walker working with bassist/Monotronist Govinda Das to follow-up his prior two Mantra Music EPs, recently compiled onto an LP (review here) by White Dwarf Records. Whether or not that’s the case, “Eclipse” itself is suitably mountainous, building along a linear course from sea level to a grand peak with droning patience and gradual volume swells, lush and immersive psychedelia in slow-motion trails, a sparse verse, percussion, sitar, guitar, bass, and so on coming to a glorious vista around the 17:30 mark only to recede again circa six minutes later in a more precipitous dropoff. The digital edition (and that’s the only edition thus far) comes with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which makes good company for the hypnotic titular exploration and the quick progression it represents after the other two short releases.

Megaritual on Bandcamp

White Dwarf Records website

 

Red Lama, Dreams are Free

red lama dreams are free

Heavy psychedelic pastoralists Red Lama enter the conversation of 2016’s best debut albums with Dreams are Free, initially released on All Good Clean Records and subsequently picked up by Stickman. Leaning more toward the liquid end of psych-blues, the Danish seven-piece immediately transcend with opener “Inca” (video here) and quickly showcase a subtlety for build that only gets more potent as they move through “Sonic Revolution” and “The World is Yours,” unfolding due heft in the latter without losing the laid back sensibility that the vocals bring sweetly, melodically, to the material. The later “Mekong River” seems almost like it’s going to shoegaze itself into post-rock oblivion, but Red Lama hold their sound together even into the 10-minute closer “Dalai Delay” – aptly-titled twice over – and deliver with striking patience a languid flow with hints of underlying prog experimentation. How that will come to fruition will have to remain to be seen/heard, but Dreams are Free also dips into funkier groove on “Dar Enteha,” so while they probably could be if they were feeling lazy, Red Lama don’t at all seem to be finished growing. All the better.

Red Lama on Thee Facebooks

Red Lama at Stickman Records

 

Lacy, Andromeda

lacy andromeda

Lacy is an experimental solo-project from former Lord guitarist Stephen Sullivan, based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and part of a deep sludge underground that goes back well over a decade. Andromeda is his third album with the outfit and the second to be released in 2016, though unlike the preceding Volume 2. Blue, its 12 tracks were recorded in a matter of months, not years. All instruments, arrangements, vocals and the raw recording were handled by Sullivan himself (he also took the photo on the cover) but cuts like “Gyre Hell” and the acoustic “Push Me Away” veer around self-indulgence or hyper-navelgazing – I’d call “Offal and the Goat Brains” experimental, but not narcissistic – and he seems more interested in writing songs than making a show of being outside this or that imaginary box. Still, Andromeda offers diversity of instrumentation and arrangement, unplugging once more for “Healer” before closer “Always” finishes the album as a rumbling and grunge-laden love song.

Lacy on YouTube

Lacy on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Werwolf

valborg werwolf

After catching on late to German metallers Valborg’s 2015 fifth album, Romantik, I told myself I wasn’t going to miss whatever they did next. The single Werwolf (on Temple of Torturous and Zeitgeister) might be a quick check-in of just two songs – “Ich Bin Total” and “Werwolf” itself – but the classic European-style death-doom chug of the latter and the vicious crash of the former I still consider a reward for keeping an eye out. “Ich Bin Total” is less than three and a half minutes long, and “Werwolf” just over five, but both feature choice chug riffing, darkened atmospherics and art-metal growls that only add to the clenched-teeth intensity of the instruments surrounding. They spare neither impact nor ambience nor lives as Werwolf plays out, the title cut riding its massive progression forward to a sensory-overload of nod before finally offering some release to the tension in a second-half guitar lead, only to revive the brutality once more, repetitions of “werwolf” chanted in growls over it. Awesome.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Temple of Torturous website

 

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