Olde to Release Temple CD on Salt of the Earth

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

olde

I have on a good many occasions made my feelings known about the compact disc as a format. I’m a fan. Not that I don’t enjoy spending the occasional day listening to vinyl records, but if I’m reaching for physical media, I generally feel way less neurotic about handling even the flimsiest of digipaks before I do the fragile, so-easily-bent corners of even the sturdiest of gatefold LPs. Plus they’re cheaper. Not as cheap as tapes, which are also cool, but still. I’m not going to say a bad word about the vinyl resurgence, because it’s helped a lot of really good music find an entire generation’s worth of ears at this point and of course that’s amazing; I guess it’s just the era I was born into was of the CD, and at this point, while I have a decent amount of 12″ and 7″ and 10″ platters around, the CD is what my archive is based around. It is my format of record.

Why am I going through all of this again? Because I’m glad to see that with an upcoming of-course-gorgeous LP through STB Records and a cassette through Medusa Crush Recordings that also looks pretty rad, Toronto noisemakers Olde will release a CD of their 2017 album, Temple (review here), through Salt of the Earth Records. Nice to not have one’s preferred format left out in the cold, and all the better since it looks like we might get some extra tracks with this version too.

Here’s the announcement from Salt of the Earth:

olde temple

Olde – Temple – Salt of the Earth

SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS is rabidly excited to announce the signing of Toronto, Canada’s OLDE.

With the impending vinyl release of their second full length record, “Temple”, through STB Records, and a release on cassette through Medusa Crush Recordings, OLDE sought a home for the CD release of this beastly album. SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS was a perfect fit.

This special edition CD digipack version of OLDE’s much anticipated “Temple” record will be the first edition of the release to feature all the songs written and recorded for the “Temple” recording sessions – a definitive version of the album presented as it was originally conceived and featuring expanded artwork. These additional tracks really contribute to the overall sonic gravity of the album, making this an essential release for fans of the band. Stick this in your CD player, turn it all the way up, and let the waves of heavy crush you…come worship at OLDE’s “Temple”.

Coming soon to SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS.

OLDE is:
Vocals- Doug McLarty
Guitars- Greg Dawson and Chris “Hippy” Hughes
Drums- Ryan Aubin
Bass- Cory McCallum

https://www.facebook.com/oldedoom/
https://oldedoom.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
http://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com
http://stbrecords.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/STB-Records-471228012921184/
http://medusacrushrecs.storenvy.com/
https://medusacrushrecordings.bandcamp.com/

Olde, Temple (2017)

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Live Review: Shroud Eater, Eternal Black and Begotten in Brooklyn, 09.05.17

Posted in Reviews on September 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

shroud eater photo jj koczan

You ever have one of those bands you just can’t seem to see? I’ll try not to bore you with the barrage of internal links, but I’ve been writing about Miami’s Shroud Eater for eight years since their demo (review here) arrived on my doorstep in 2009, and yet, at every opportunity when I’d otherwise see them, something has come up, the show has been canceled, I’ve moved out of the state, whatever it might be — point is it’s always been something. Well not this time, god damn it. This time I was going to finally see Shroud Eater.

The good news is it worked out. The Floridian three-piece hit Brooklyn’s venerated Saint Vitus Bar with support from reformed riffers Begotten and the doomly Eternal Black for a Tuesday night lineup that had no dip front to back. The bad news? Pretty much the only reason I was able to be there was because I was on my way to New Jersey for my grandmother’s funeral later in the week. Further bad news? Shroud Eater canceled the rest of their tour and were turning back south after this show in order to prepare for Hurricane Irma, which had already been called the strongest storm ever seen in the Atlantic Ocean, begotten-Photo-JJ-Koczanto make landfall in their peninsular homeland.

Even with these things hanging overhead, though, the most was made of the night and I can’t speak for anyone else, but from where I stood the show was killer. Begotten were onstage when I walked in, guitarist/vocalist Matthew Anselmo immediately placing himself in the running for the title of “most New York dude ever” as he led the band through a soundcheck and asked afterward if that wasn’t the start of the set. Bassist/vocalist Amanda Topaz and drummer Rob Sefcik (the latter also of Kings Destroy) confirmed that, indeed, the show wasn’t yet starting, the sound guy told everyone to hit the bar for a couple minutes, and all seemed more than happy to oblige.

When they did get started with the show proper, Begotten‘s post-Sleep lumbering came through with due thickness, Topaz‘s Sunn amp sitting precariously atop her bass cabinet while Anselmo‘s Marshall JCM 2000 stood like a totem at the head of a full stack. This was only the second show Begotten have played since reuniting, begotten-2-Photo-JJ-Koczanand they did four songs in the set, among them “Apache,” which was among the lost tracks that premiered here last October to mark their getting back together, and “Judges,” which was the opener of their 2002 self-titled debut, released by Man’s Ruin Records. They actually had that disc for sale, as well as an original Frank Kozik poster for the release in metallic ink that was nothing short of stunning to behold, but the highlight was that they also played a new song, giving a clear signal that they’ll move ahead toward the creation hopefully of a second long-player.

After 15 years since the debut, I don’t think anyone will be in a rush to put a timeline on that, but it was welcome news all the same. When they were done, Eternal Black took the stage quickly, sharing drum gear — guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob noted the Kings Destroy kickdrum head on the kit through which drummer/best-guy-ever Joe Wood was playing, eliciting a chuckle from all, including bassist Hal Miller — and set about rolling forth their likewise dense-toned doomer grooves. Their self-released debut, Bleed the Days (review here), came out Aug. 8 and was still pretty fresh in mind, and their straightforward and roughed-upeternal-black-photo-jj-koczan take on classic, traditionalist riff-led doom was no less welcome from the stage than from that disc. If anything, more so for the voluminous onslaught through which the persistent roll seemed to emanate.

I dug that record — I dig that record. A lot. And granted, I’m biased as regards the band because of my overarching love of Joe Wood (who really is the best guy ever; it’s like his thing) and because I find the gritty edge they bring to Maryland-esque doomery speaks to a particularly Northeastern, particularly New York intensity that always seems to remind me of home. Music like Eternal Black‘s has to come from someplace crowded. Population density is a factor, and I don’t think you could produce a song like the downtrodden “Sea of Graves” without it. One way or another, Bleed the Days is easily among the best doom offerings I’ve heard in 2017, first album or not, and the three-piece made it clear at the Vitus Bar as they had when I saw them at Maryland Doom Fest last year (review here) that the process of their coming together as a band is still veryeternal-black-photo-jj-koczan much at its beginning stages. That is to say, they killed and they sound like they’re only going to keep getting better.

And then my brain finally got to process Shroud Eater live. I’ve had bands-I-should’ve-already-seen out the wazoo over the years, but few have had the kind of consistent stretch of Shroud Eater. Yet, as I stood in front of the Saint Vitus Bar stage and tried my best to snap photos of them in the drawn-down lighting, I couldn’t help but feel like it was somehow serendipitous to catch the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Jean Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and drummer Davin Sosa in support of 2017’s Strike the Sun (review here). Released through STB Records — whose honcho, Steve, was also on-hand for the show and someone else I was long overdue to meet in-person — the second Shroud Eater full-length is hands down the band’s best work yet, and though it was shroud-eater-photo-jj-koczanobvious in talking to them that concerns of family back in Florida and the impending potential for storm destruction were weighing heavily on them, let alone the general bummer of having to cancel shows in the first place, they were nonetheless devastating onstage.

A performance that galloped and slammed and crashed and careened and lumbered and did all that stuff that means it basically kicked the living shit out of the room, Shroud Eater‘s set came through with density to match either of the acts that preceded them and a sense of motion that was all their own. Songs like “Awaken Assassin” from the new record and the furious 2015 single “Face the Master” (video premiere here) brought forth groove and pummel in kind, and with samples between various tracks, traded vocal parts from SaizValentine and Sosa, and an overarching intensity that came through even the most atmospheric of stretches, Shroud Eater made me so fucking happy I was finally getting to see them that I’m not sure I can shroud-eater-photo-jj-koczanhonestly say I’d trade having done so at any point in the last eight years for the experience of watching them play this set. That’s as sincere as I can be about it.

So — clearly not a night for critical impartiality. From feeling lucky to see Begotten on their second show back to having Eternal Black in the middle as the icing on an evening the cake of which just happened to be a long, long, long-awaited Shroud Eater set bludgeoning my consciousness, what the proceedings might’ve lacked in my emotional distance from them, they more than made up for in my raw enjoyment — which, if it’s going to be one or the other, I’ll take. When Shroud Eater were done, I’m fucking proud to say I was the first person to shout for one more song and even prouder to say they played it, and as I stood among friends in the crowd like Kings Destroy vocalist Steve Murphy and guitarist Carl PorcaroClamfight drummer/shroud-eater-photo-jj-koczanvocalist Andy MartinDave from Made in Brooklyn SilkscreenersSteve from STB Records and others, I was reminded of how special some nights can become when the planets finally align just so in order to make them happen.

The rest of the week? We’ll see how it goes for things like familial grief and category five storms — I wished Shroud Eater safe home and safe afterwards; spent the last eight dollars I had to my name on a copy of their Three Curses and Strike the Sun tapes (wanted the CD but didn’t have the requisite $10 and wasn’t about to be like, “Hey you need to buy bottled water for survival this week, can I get a free disc?”) — but this one was restorative on just about every level possible and a show I hope not to forget anytime soon.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Shroud Eater Announce East Coast Tour Dates; Strike the Sun out Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

shroud eater

Beginning on Sept. 2, Miami trio Shroud Eater will head out on an East Coast tour supporting their new album, Strike the Sun (review here). Booked by Midnite Collective, it’s a week-long stint to herald the arrival of the STB Records release back in July, and if you’ve yet to check out the record, you can hear in the stream at the bottom of this post that it’s a cause well worth supporting. Some six years-plus after the atmospheric sludge three-piece offered up their debut, ThunderNoise (review here), Strike the Sun benefits from all of the experimentation they’ve taken on since in a bevvy of shorter releases, singles, EPs, splits and so on.

It shames me to say that I’ve been writing about this band since their 2009 demo and I’ve still never seen them live. They’re not coming north of the Wall this time around (the Wall, if you’re wondering, is just on the other side of Providence, Rhode Island on I-95 North; everything above that is officially wildling territory), but given how right on Strike the Sun is, I feel pretty comfortable recommending you check them out anyway should you be able to do so.

Dates follow as culled from the social medias:

shroud eater tour

Shroud Eater Pilgrimage Nor’East

First stop of our northeastern pilgrimage is at The Jinx 912 in Savannah for Statts Pre-Game and Punk Rock Garage Sale, where we’ll be joining ROYAL THUNDER, Black Tusk, The Gumps, Reconsiler and more!

Thanks to the Wizards at @midniteclv for their incredible effort booking this tour for us… we are hitting the eastern coast in support of STRIKE THE SUN – hope to see y’all out there.

Saturday September 2
The Jinx, Savannah, GA

Sunday September 3
Test Pattern, Winston-Salem, NC

Monday September 4
Ottobar, Baltimore, MD

Tuesday September 5
St Vitus, Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday September 6
KungFu Necktie, Philadelphia, PA

Thursday September 7
McCormacks Irish Pub, Richmond, VA

Friday September 8
Harbor Tavern, Jacksonville, FL

Saturday September 9
The Brass Mug, Tampa, FL

Shroud Eater is:
Jean Saiz – guitar/vocals
Janette Valentine – bass/vocals
Davin Sosa – drums/vocals

https://www.facebook.com/shroudeater/
http://www.shroudeater.bandcamp.com/
http://stbrecords.bigcartel.com
http://www.facebook.com/STB-Records-471228012921184
https://stbrecords.bandcamp.com

Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun (2017)

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Year of the Cobra Announce First Leg of US Tour; New EP Due Oct. 29

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

Leading up to and through an appearance at Psycho Las Vegas on Aug. 20, Seattle duo Year of the Cobra will once again hit the road in support of last year’s stunner debut album, …In the Shadows Below (review here). The band, who were recently interviewed here, have wrapped up tracking a new EP with none other than Billy Anderson, and they’ll have that out Oct. 29 to follow-up the album and hopefully lead into more good stuff to come.

As to that, they note below “some other big news” that’s forthcoming — in addition to a second leg of the US tour. Anyone care to speculate with me? They’ve got the EP, so it’s early for second album plans. Could be word on a different label releasing the EP. The long-player was released by STB Records, who did a killer job with it, but neither would it surprise me if someone picked up Year of the Cobra like Relapse or Napalm. They’ve broken their collective ass on the road supporting the album and, well, they’re a good band, which also never hurts when it comes to that kind of thing. Could also just be details of the EP release, art, tracks and whatnot. Or a return trip to Europe, perhaps for Fall festival season and to coincide with the EP release?

So many different possibilities. And of course I could be way off on all of the above and it could be something else entirely. If I had to place one, that would probably be my bet. Ha.

The band sent the following down the PR wire:

year-of-the-cobra-tour-poster

Year of the Cobra – US Tour First Leg

Year of the Cobra hits the road in August for the first leg of their US tour, including an appearance at Psycho Las Vegas. The band also just finished recording a new EP with Billy Anderson. Tentative release date for that is October 29th. Expect an announcement soon about the second leg of their tour, along with some other big news.

Year of the Cobra live:
8.9 – Kalispell, MT at Old School Records
8.10 – Billings, MT at Smiling Dog Records
8.11 – Denver, CO at Squire Lounge
8.12 – Omaha, NB at The Lookout Lounge
8.13 – St. Paul, MN at Agharta Records (in-store performance during the day)
8.13 – Minneapolis, MN at Nomad
8.14 – Chicago, IL at Reggies
8.15 – Lawrence, KS at The Bottleneck
8.17 – Albuquerque, NM at Launchpad
8.18 – El Paso, TX at Boomtown
8.19 – Tempe, AZ at Yucca Tap Room
8.20 – Las Vegas, NV at Psycho Las Vegas
8.21 – Salt Lake City, UT at Urban Lounge
8.22 – Idaho Falls, ID at The Roadhouse Saloon
8.23 – Bozeman, MT at The Filling Station

http://yearofthecobra.com
https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
stbrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://stbrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/STB-Records/471228012921184

Year of the Cobra, …In the Shadows Below (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Ecstatic Vision, Norska, Bison, Valborg, Obelyskkh, Earth Electric, Olde, Deaf Radio, Saturndust, Birnam Wood

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

It turns out that, yes indeed, I will be able to add another day to the Quarterly Review this coming Monday. Stoked on that. Means I’ll be trying to cram another 10 reviews into this coming weekend, but that’s not exactly a hardship as I see it, and the stuff I have picked out for it is, frankly, as much of a bonus for me as it could possibly be for anyone else, so yeah, look out for that. In the meantime, we wrap the Monday-to-Friday span of 50 records today with another swath of what’s basically me doing favors for my ears, and I hope as always for yours as well. Let’s dig in.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury

ecstatic-vision-raw-rock-fury

Hard touring and a blistering debut in 2015’s Sonic Praise (review here) quickly positioned Ecstatic Vision at the forefront of a Philadelphia-based mini-boom in heavy psych (see also: Ruby the Hatchet, Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlsome Bells, and so on), and their Relapse-issued follow-up, Raw Rock Fury, only delves further into unmitigated cosmic swirl and space-rocking crotchal thrust. The now-foursome keep a steady ground in percussion and low end even as guitar, sax, synth and echoing vocals seem to push ever more far-out, and across the record’s four tracks – variously broken up across two sides – the band continue to stake out their claim on the righteously psychedelic, be it in the all-go momentum building of “You Got it (Or You Don’t)” or the more drifting opening movement of closer “Twinkling Eye.” Shit is trippy, son. With the echoing-from-the-depths shouts of Doug Sabolik cutting through, there’s still an edge of Eastern Seaboard intensity to Ecstatic Vision, but that only seems to make Raw Rock Fury live up to its title all the more. Still lots of potential here, but it’ll be their third record that tells the tale of whether they can truly conquer space itself.

Ecstatic Vision on Thee Facebooks

Ecstatic Vision at Relapse Records website

 

Norska, Too Many Winters

norska-too-many-winters

Issued through Brutal Panda, Too Many Winters is the second full-length from Portland five-piece Norska, and its six tracks/48 minutes would seem to pick up where Rwake left off in presenting a progressive vision of what might be called post-sludge. Following an engaging 2011 self-titled debut, songs like the title-track and “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” churn and careen through Sourvein-style abrasion, vaguely Neurosis-style nod and, in the case of the latter or closer “Fire Patience Backbone,” soundscaping minimalism that, in the finale, is bookended by some of the record’s most intense push following opener “Samhain” and the subsequent “Eostre.” That salvo starts Too Many Winters with a deceptive amount of thrust, but even there atmosphere is central as it is to the outing as a whole, and a penultimate interlude in the 2:22 “Wave of Regrets” does well to underscore the point before the fading-in initial onslaught of “Fire Patience Backbone.” Having Aaron Rieseberg of YOB in the lineup with Jim Lowder, Dustin Rieseberg, Rob Shaffer and Jason Oswald no doubt draws eyes their way, but Norska’s sonic persona is distinct, immersive and individualized enough to stand on its own well beyond that pedigree.

Norska on Thee Facebooks

Norska at Brutal Panda Records website

 

Bison, You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient

bison-you-are-not-the-ocean-you-are-the-patient

Think about the two choices. You are Not the Ocean You are the Patient. Isn’t it the difference between something acting – i.e., an object – and something acted upon – i.e., a subject? As British Columbian heavy rockers Bison return after half a decade via Pelagic Records, their fourth album seems to find them trying to push beyond genre lines into a broader scope. “Until the Earth is Empty,” “Drunkard,” “Anti War” and “Raiigin” still have plenty of thrust, but the mood here is darker even than 2012’s Lovelessness found the four-piece, and “Tantrum” and closer “The Water Becomes Fire” bring out a more methodical take. It’s been 10 years since Bison issued their debut Earthbound EP and signed to Metal Blade for 2008’s Quiet Earth, and the pre-Red Fang party-ready heavy rock of those early works is long gone – one smiles to remember “These are My Dress Clothes” in the context of noise-rocking centerpiece “Kenopsia” here, the title of which refers to the emptiness of a formerly occupied space – but if the choice Bison are making is to place themselves on one side or the other of the subject/object divide, they prove to be way more ocean than patient in these songs.

Bison on Thee Facebooks

Bison at Pelagic Records website

 

Valborg, Endstrand

valborg-endstrand

With its churning, swirling waves of cosmic death, one almost expects Valborg’s Endstrand (on Lupus Lounge/Prophecy Productions) to be more self-indulgent than it is, but one of the German trio’s greatest assets across the 13-track/44-minute span of their sixth album is its immediacy. The longest song, “Stossfront,” doesn’t touch five minutes, and from the 2:14 opener “Jagen” onward, Valborg reenvision punk rock as a monstrous, consuming beast on songs like “Blut am Eisen,” “Beerdigungsmaschine,” “Alter,” “Atompetze” and closer “Exodus,” all the while meting put punishment after punishment of memorable post-industrial riffing on “Orbitalwaffe,” the crashing “Ave Maria” and the noise-soaked penultimate “Strahlung,” foreboding creeper atmospherics on “Bunkerluft” and “Geisterwürde,” and landmark, perfectly-paced chug on “Plasmabrand.” Extreme in its intent and impact, Endstrand brings rare clarity to an anti-genre vision of brutality as an art form, and at any given moment, its militaristic threat feels real, sincere and like an appropriate and righteous comment on the terrors of our age. Fucking a.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Valborg at Prophecy Productions website

 

Obelyskkh, The Providence

obelyskkh-the-providence

Probably fair to call the current status of German post-doomers Obelyskkh in flux following the departure of guitarist Stuart West, but the band has said they’ll keep going and their fourth album, The Providence (on Exile on Mainstream) finds them capping one stage of their tenure with a decidedly forward-looking perspective. Its six-song/56-minute run borders on unmanageable, but that’s clearly the intent, and an air of proggy weirdness infects The Providence from the midsection of its opening title-track onward as the band – West, guitarist/vocalist Woitek Broslowski, bassist Seb Fischer and drummer Steve Paradise – tackle King Crimson rhythmic nuance en route to an effects-swirling vision of Lovecraftian doomadelia and massive roll. Cuts like “Raving Ones” and 13-minute side B leadoff “NYX” play out with a similarly deceptive multifaceted vibe, and by the time the penultimate “Aeons of Iconoclasm” bursts outward from its first half’s spacious minimalism into all-out High on Fire thrust ahead of the distortion-soaked churn of closer “Marzanna” – which ends, appropriately, with laughter topping residual effects noise – Obelyskkh make it abundantly clear anything goes. The most impressive aspect of The Providence is that Obelyskkh manage to control all this crunching chaos, and one hopes that as they continue forward, they’ll hold firm to that underlying consciousness.

Obelyskkh on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Earth Electric, Vol. 1: Solar

earth-electric-vol-1-solar

Former Mayhem/Aura Noir guitarist Rune “Blasphemer” Ericksen leads breadth-minded Portuguese four-piece Earth Electric, and their devil-in-the-details Season of Mist debut, Vol. 1: Solar, runs a prog-metal gamut across a tightly-woven nine tracks and 35 minutes, Ericksen’s vocals and those of Carmen Susana Simões (Moonspell, ex-Ava Inferi) intertwine fluidly at the forefront of sharply angular riffing and rhythmic turns from bassist Alexandre Ribeiro and drummer Ricardo Martins. The organ-laced push of “Meditate Meditate” and “Solar” and the keyboard flourish of “Earthrise” (contributed by Dan Knight) draw as much from classic rock as metal, but the brew Earth Electric crafts from them is potent and very much the band’s own. “The Great Vast” and the shorter “Set Sail (Towards the Sun)” set up a direct flow into the title cut, and as one returns to Earth Electric for repeat listens, the actual scope of the album and the potential for how the band might continue to develop are likewise expansive, despite its many pulls into torrents of head-down riffing. Almost intimidating in its refusal to bow to genre.

Earth Electric on Thee Facebooks

Earth Electric at Season of Mist website

 

Olde, Temple

olde-temple

After debuting in 2014 with I (review here), Toronto’s Olde return via STB Records with Temple, proffering sludge-via-doom vibes and a center of weighted tonality around which the rest of their aesthetic would seem to be built, vocalist Doug McLarty’s throaty growls alternately cutting through and buried by the riffs of guitarists Greg Dawson (also production) and Chris “Hippy” Hughes, the bass of Cory McCallum and the rolling crashes of drummer Ryan Aubin (also of Sons of Otis) on tightly constructed pieces like “Now I See You” and the tempo-shifting “Centrifugal Disaster,” which reminds by its finish that sometimes all you need is nod. Olde have more to offer than just that, of course, as the plodding spaciousness of “The Ghost Narrative” and the lumbering “Maelstrom” demonstrate, but even in the turns between crush and more open spaces of the centerpiece title-track and the drifting post-heavy rock of closer “Castaway,” the underlying focus is on capital-‘h’ Heavy, and Olde wield it as only experts can.

Olde on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

 

Deaf Radio, Alarm

deaf radio alarm

Based in Athens and self-releasing their debut album, Alarm, in multiple vinyl editions, the four-piece of Panos Gklinos, Dimitris Sakellariou, Antonis Mantakas and George Diathesopoulos – collectively known as Deaf Radio – make no bones about operating in the post-Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures sphere of heavy rock. To their credit, the songwriting throughout “Aggravation,” “Vultures and Killers” and the careening “Revolving Doors” lives up to that standard, and though even the later “Oceanic Feeling” seems to be informed by the methods of Josh Homme, there’s a melodic identity there that belongs more to Deaf Radio as well, and keeping Alarm in mind as their first long-player, it’s that identity that one hopes the band will continue to develop. Rounding out side B with the howling guitar and Rated R fuzz of the six-minute “…And We Just Pressed the Alarm Button,” Deaf Radio build to a suitable payoff for the nine-track outing and affirm the aesthetic foundation they’ve laid for themselves.

Deaf Radio on Thee Facebooks

Deaf Radio on Bandcamp

 

Saturndust, RLC

saturndust rlc

The further you go into Saturndust’s 58-minute second LP RLC, the more there is to find. At any given moment, the São Paulo, Brazil-based outfit can be playing to impulses ranging from proggy space rock, righteously doomed tonal heft, aggressive blackened thrust or spacious post-sludge – in one song. Over longform cuts like “Negative-Parallel Dimensional,” “RLC,” “Time Lapse of Existence” and closer “Saturn 12.C,” the trio cast a wide-enough swath to be not quite genreless but genuinely multi-tiered and not necessarily as disjointed as one might expect in their feel, and though when they want to, they roll out massive, lumbering riffs, that’s only one tool in a full arsenal at their apparent disposal. What tie RLC together are the sure hands of guitarist/vocalist Felipe Dalam, bassist Guilherme Cabral and drummer Douglas Oliveira guiding it, so that when the galloping-triplet chug of “Time Lapse of Existence” hits, it works as much in contrast to the synth-loaded “Titan” preceding as in conjunction with it. Rather than summarize, “Saturn 12.C” pushes far out on a wash of Dalam’s keyboards before a wide-stomping apex, seeming to take Saturndust to their farthest point beyond the stratosphere yet. Safe travels and many happy returns.

Saturndust on Thee Facebooks

Saturndust on Bandcamp

 

Birnam Wood, Triumph of Death

birnam wood triumph of death

Massachusetts doomers Birnam Wood have two prior EPs under their collective belt in 2015’s Warlord and a 2014 self-titled, but the two-songer single Triumph of Death (kudos on the Hellhammer reference) is my first exposure to their blend of modern progressive metal melody and traditional doom. They roll out both in able fashion on the single’s uptempo opening title-track and follow with the BlackSabbath-“Black-Sabbath” sparse notemaking early in their own “Birnam Wood.” All told, Triumph of Death is only a little over nine minutes long, but it makes for an encouraging sampling of Birnam Wood’s wares all the same, and as Dylan Edwards, Adam McGrath, Shaun Anzalone and Matt Wagner shift into faster swing circa the eponymous tune’s solo-topped midpoint, they do so with a genuine sense of homage that does little to take away from the sense of individuality they’ve brought to the style even in this brief context. They call it stoner metal, and there’s something to that, but if we’re going on relative balance, Triumph of Death is more doom-stoner than stoner-doom, and it revels within that niche-within-a-niche-within-a-niche sensibility.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

shroud-eater-strike-the-sun

[Click play above to stream ‘Awaken Assassin’ from Shroud Eater’s Strike the Sun. Album is out July 7 via STB Records.]

Check your calendar. It’s been a whopping six years — actually more like six and a half — since Miami sludge machine Shroud Eater released their debut full-length, ThunderNoise (review here). They’ve hardly been idle in the half-decade-plus since then; the three-piece have churned out a slew of shorter releases, from the 2013 Dead Ends EP (review here) that began to give some context to the band’s stylistic expansion from the raw foundation of their initial demo (review here) in 2009 that took place on ThunderNoise and would continue through 2015’s Face the Master single (video premiere here), 2016’s split EP with post-metallers Dead Hands (review here) or earlier 2017’s :th:ree: :cvrses: digital single, which found the trio of guitarist/vocalist Jean Saiz, bassist/vocalist Janette Valentine and drummer/vocalist/engineer Davin Sosa at their most experimental to-date, adding synth to a deeply atmospheric, cinematic but still noise-laden and extremely dark approach.

The stylistic reach Shroud Eater claimed as theirs across these offerings — some just one song long — and from their time spent touring and playing events like Psycho Las Vegas has made it increasingly difficult to predict where their awaited second full-length and STB Records debut, Strike the Sun, might lead them, and across 42 minutes/eight tracks, the band accordingly showcase six busy years’ worth of sonic lesson-learning. They still occasionally veer into the post-High on Fire gallop that typified their early work on a song like the penultimate “Unseen Hand” or parts of finale “Futile Exile,” but on the whole, they offer something much broader, more varied in tempo and mood, and more satisfying than anything they’ve done before.

As each of their outings to this point has brought something new to their approach, Strike the Sun does so as well, and in addition, offers an engaging summary of their evolution over the last eight years. Also worth noting, it is spell-out-the-letters h-e-a-v-y. One might find a tonal comparison point in Conan‘s more recent output for the kind of rumble Shroud Eater bring to “Iron Mountain” early on Strike the Sun or side B’s rolling “It Walks Among,” but even this is only a fraction of the whole when it comes to the complete, dark-hued narrative they’re conveying. The album breaks neatly in half for a two-sided feel, and each begins with an atmospheric intro — the washing drone of “Smokeless Fire” leads off, while “Dream Flesh” starts side B; both are infused with vague, melodic vocals — before digging into three tracks of pummel, drive, roll and nod. Whether it’s the landmark hook that “Awaken Assassin” provides in following “Iron Mountain” or the turn from wah-bass-infused stomp into ambient melodicism on “It Walks Among” — which of course is a setup for that track’s lumbering finale — Shroud Eater‘s dynamic has never sounded more alive.

Creative variety and arrangements of vocals between SaizValentine and Sosa give “Futile Exile” a growing aggression and “Iron Mountain” or the earlier stretch of “It Walks Among” a spacious, shouting echo, but the harmonies in “Awaken Assassin” are not at all out of place in either theory or execution. And neither are they less effective in conveying a mood than some of Strike the Sun‘s more destructive moments in the midsection of “Iron Mountain,” the apex of “Futile Exile” or the whole of “Unseen Hand” are in eliciting a physical listener response, be it fist pumping, headbanging, or some other signal of the righteousness on display. The bottom line is that Shroud Eater bring forth a multi-tiered triumph across the span of Strike the Sun, marked by an impeccable sense of craft, strength through diversity of approach and a cohesive vision of what they want to accomplish as a group. Any concerns of a six-year-later sophomore slump should be duly allayed.

shroud eater

That is, I’ll allow, a fan’s perspective on what Shroud Eater have done here, and there will invariably be those for whom Strike the Sun is their first exposure to the band. On that level, flourish like the subdued tension in “Smokeless Fire” and “Dream Flesh,” or the samples that top the noisy instrumental side A closer “Another Skin” seems all the more to bolster the impression of the record as a singular entirety. As SaizValentine and Sosa careen and crash through “Iron Mountain” and “Awaken Assassin,” the subsequent pairing of “Another Skin” and “Dream Flesh” — when listening in a linear format; digital or CD — emphasizes a between-songs flow with which full-lengths so outwardly heavy rarely concern themselves.

Likewise, as “It Walks Among” revives the full tectonic doom of their assault, it remains informed by the ambient stretch before it, and the material as a whole plays off itself in this way, giving Strike the Sun all the more a sense of consciousness behind its motivations that winds up summarized in “Futile Exile,” which in addition to being the finale is also the longest track at 7:20. Starting with a swell of volume and thundering crashes, it turns to nod and thrust early before finding a tension of toms as it heads to a more angular midsection, eventually dropping out to quiet in the second half and introducing melodic singing over thudding drums in setting up the crescendo that starts around 6:30 and will finish the record with a cold stop. A little bit of everything and a last warning from the band in that sudden end that they haven’t necessarily had their final word. So be it.

Up to this point, everything Shroud Eater has done has felt loaded with potential. All along, they’ve been a group headed somewhere on the level of individual aesthetic. More than anything before it, Strike the Sun comes across as the destination to which their progression has been leading. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re done growing as artists — I don’t think they are, and nothing in these tracks indicates a readiness to stagnate — but there’s pivotal work being done here to establish what Shroud Eater‘s sound is, both to the band itself and to their audience, and in conveying that, Strike the Sun succeeds in a way that more than justifies the years in its arrival. Feeling greedy, one hopes it’s not so long before a third long-player surfaces, but if it is, at least we know their commitment to developing as artists is unflinching.

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Six Dumb Questions with Year of the Cobra

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

Earlier this Spring, Seattle duo Year of the Cobra made their way to Europe for the first time to play and tour around Germany’s Hell over Hammaburg festival. They’d already spent a decent portion of 2016 on the road leading up to and supporting the STB Records release of their debut full-length, …In the Shadows Below (review here), and given the momentum they established in so doing and the formidable response the Billy Anderson-produced offering garnered, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before they undertook the trip. One sincerely doubts it will be their last.

Since they put out their three-song EP, The Black Sun (review here), in 2015 through Devil’s Child Records and DHU RecordsYear of the Cobra — bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith — have worked hard to find and audience and been markedly successful in that regard. With a style that offers as much space as it does rumble and heavy groove to spare, cuts like “Vision of Three,” “Temple of Apollo” and “Electric Warrior” leave memorably rolling impressions, and the push of “Spider and the Fly” subtly incorporates elements of classic pop/rock in a way few heavy acts would dare on a fifth album, let alone a first.

Amid rumors of new material in progress, participation in Magnetic Eye Records‘ much anticipated Pink Floyd tribute, The Wall [Redux], a slot Psycho Las Vegas this August and much more, it seemed well past time to chase down the band for a quick Q&A. As they make ready to move forward from …In the Shadows Below, they also have a new video for “Temple of Apollo” that recently premiered and which you can see at the bottom of this post. I put the album stream down there too, because I figured there’s a good chance that after you hear the one track you’ll probably want to put the rest of the thing on anyway. Might as well make it easy.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

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Six Dumb Questions with Amy Tung Barrysmith of Year of the Cobra

It seemed like …In the Shadows Below got such a massive response, even after the EP did really well. Were you surprised by how the album was received?

Of course. You never know what people will think. It was important for us to follow the EP with a strong LP, and we were very deliberate and particular about every aspect of it from the musicality to the art design. But, after all that work, you really never know how people will receive it. All you can do is hope that your vision comes through and that people understand and like it as much as you do.

Tell me about recording with Billy Anderson. What made you go with him as a producer? What was the atmosphere in the studio like, how long were you in there, and how do you feel about the results on the album itself?

Well, he’s recorded a lot of our favorite records and was at the top of our “wish list,” so we sent him an email asking if he’d be interested and he responded the next day saying he liked the band and was on board. We were so stoked. We only met him a handful of times before we went into the studio so we weren’t really sure what to expect. In pictures, he can look really intimidating, but in person, he’s just a super witty, goofy guy.

He made the atmosphere so light and fun but was still able to coax out these crushing tones and performances. It was incredible. We spent a total of nine days in the studio with him recording. He spent several days mixing on his own and we went back for a final mix session, but before we were even done mixing, we were both really excited about what we had produced. It went beyond our expectations. He’s definitely the third member of YOTC.

You guys went to Europe for the first time in March. How was that trip? Tell me about the shows and the experience of going abroad to play. What were the crowds like? What were your expectations going into it and do you feel like they were met?

Europe was amazing. The main reason we went was to play Hell over Hammaburg Festival in Hamburg, Germany. We figured since we were going, we’d book a small tour around it. We weren’t sure what to expect, in all honesty. This first tour was a bit of a litmus test to see how we would do. Would we have a crowd? Would we be well received? Would it be worth going back for a longer tour?

All of it went better than we could have expected. There were people wearing our t-shirts or sweatshirts at every show!! People were singing along and many told us they had driven for hours to come see us play. It was incredible. Hell over Hammaburg Festival was a blast as well. It was so well organized and diverse and it was sold out! When we were packing to leave to go back home, we were both blown away at how well everything went and were kicking ourselves for not staying longer. Next time!

Tell me about being in a band with your partner. You’ve been able to tour steadily with the two of you, but how does having Year of the Cobra as an extension of your relationship play out? Not to get too personal, but does the band relationship just become part of the whole broader relationship, or is it its own thing?

That’s a good question. I don’t think either of us knows where one starts and the other ends, in terms of relationship vs. bandmates. What’s nice is that we complement each other in both our relationship and our band. One of us might be good at one thing, while the other is good at something else. We never sit down and divvy up jobs, we just kind of naturally go about it and it all gets done. The good thing is, we both feel like we’re equals working as a team because we have a common goal, we have the same work ethic, and we have similar artistic views. It makes everything work pretty smoothly.

I hear there’s new material in the works. How far along are you in writing? Is there anything specific you’re trying to do coming off of the debut?

We’re really excited about the new material!! We hit the studio at the end of June with Billy Anderson at the helm again. We’ll be recording an EP plus two songs that will go on the Magnetic Eye Records Pink Floyd Redux. We’ve spent the past couple of months focusing solely on writing new songs and were able to debut one of them at our last show! There is still a lot more work to do, but we’re definitely on track.

You’ve mentioned going back to Europe this Fall and you’ll play Psycho Las Vegas in August. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

We have some US tours being booked around Psycho Las Vegas in August and Stoned Meadow of Doom (Omaha) and Doomed and Stoned (Indianapolis) in September/October respectively. It will be fun to get back to some of the cities we hit last summer.

The EP will be released in the fall as well, so there is a lot of stuff piling up at the end of the year. Europe, sadly, didn’t work out for October, but we’re planning on going back next spring/summer. Stay tuned, we have many more announcements coming soon. Things are ramping up in the YOTC camp.

Year of the Cobra, “Temple of Apollo” official video

Year of the Cobra, …In the Shadows Below (2016)

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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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