Posted in On the Radar on December 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ll admit to knowing next to nothing about Stockholm psychedelic rockers Deem. I know they’re from Stockholm because their social media says so, but there’s very little other info announced about the release, and quite frankly, I’ve seen their moniker written as Deem, as D?em, with the mid-central vowel-style, upside-down ‘e’ (the character for which WordPress won’t show, hence that question mark), and as Daem, all in the span of less than a single day since I got sent the tracks by producer Paris Fragkos, also of Greek desert rock upstarts Tuber. The only reason I’m going with Deem is because it’s a word.
Sometimes new bands start out this way, and I’ll admit I have a soft spot for that process unknowing. It means I put on Deem‘s apparently untitled four-track EP and dig into the vaguely Mideastern psychedelic inflection of “Three Doors Leading out of the Dark Room” or the subsequent meditativeness of “Qurban” — named for the animal slaughter practiced during Eid — and have only the music to go on. I don’t know who made it, don’t know where they come from originally or what their connection might be to the ideas they’re working with.
“Qurban” obscures its vocals deep in the mix as well in its quietest parts, letting a subdued drum progression move the song forward for a time as it starts its build. As the spacier shuffle and percussive intricacy in “Digital Paganist” and return to ritualism on the chant-laden psych-folk of finisher “The Trail” continue to expand the palette beyond genre confines, I feel refreshed and renewed by the fact that I’m curious about how the release was made, where Deem are coming from sound-wise, how they wound up recording in Greece and incorporating what sound like regional influences while being based in Stockholm, and so on. Or hell, how many people are involved. My interest is piqued.
Even their artwork carries a sense of mystery. And so, needless to say, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from them going forward. Here’s the art and tracklisting for now, along with what little info they posted about the release itself, and of course the stream of the tracks from Bandcamp, which I hope you find as exciting as I do.
_ by Deem
Recorded, mixed and produced by Paris Fragkos at Flow Recordings, Serres, Greece. Assistant Yannis Goudanos.
Tracklisting: 1. Three doors leading out of the dark room 07:43 2. Qurban 05:41 3. Digital paganist 06:07 4. The trail 08:55
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve heard Domkraft‘s The End of Electricity, and I’ll tell you three things about it: First, it crushes. The bass tone? You gotta hear it. Groove, lumbering. Riffs, pummeling. All that stuff that means it’s really, really heavy. Second, it opens with its longest track, which in my book gets it immediate points. Third, Magnetic Eye Records has it up for preorder now and for a limited time to coincide with releasing the trailer that you can see for the first time anywhere at the bottom of this post, they’ve also got free shipping on international preorders. So if you’re in Europe or Canada or South America or, you know, anywhere else that’s not the US, no need to be left out of the good times. Because ultimately we’re one big heavy family, no matter what it costs to send a package across a given border.
Seriously though, once you get a load of the aforementioned teaser clip, you might want to place that order, because it seems entirely likely to me that once people have a handle on what Domkraft are doing with The End of Electricity, those records could go and go quickly.
Art, info, links and audio follow, courtesy of Magnetic Eye:
DOMKRAFT – The End of Electricity
Magnetic Eye Records – November 11, 2016
DOMKRAFT, whose name combines the Swedish “DOM” for judgement and “KRAFT” for power, blasts forth towering dirges of annihilating doom, mindbending psychedelia, and hypnotic minimalism.
The seeds for the monolithic Stockholm band were planted in Gothenburg, where bassist/singer Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer Anders Dahlgren met while playing in various musical constellations. Bonding over the likes of Spacemen 3, Monster Magnet, Sleep and Hawkwind, not to mention a fascination with 10-minute/three chord songs, they finally came together after each relocated to Stockholm.
Drawing from the heaviest of their combined influences, the three spent spent years shaping and crafting their sound, resulting in a spacious yet crushing approach. From Loop to Sleep, Sabbath to Neu!, Hawkwind to Neurosis and Swans to Spacemen 3, the DOMKRAFT sound is an unsettling mix of grinding riffs, blistering power, and inexorable motion.
Says Martin Wegeland: “Our songs build from one riff, played LOUD, then we add and lose parts to mold it all into something powerful. Focusing on the dramaturgy of the songs, we also have clear images in mind when writing. Inspiration comes from films like Jake Paltrow’s Young Ones, Stephen Fingleton’s The Survivalist and (of course) The Road Warrior, though we never let any of that interfere with the groove and energy. The results of our songwriting method may differ in shape from one song to the next, but the foundation is always the same – repetition and volume! You’ll eventually get sick of every melody, but grooves are forever.”
This is Domkraft: Martin Widholm – Guitar Martin Wegeland – Bass & Vocals Anders Dahlgren – Drums
[Click play above to stream a track premiere from Katla’s Embryo. Album is out Sept. 30 on Svart Records.]
There are moments, as in the second half of second cut “Endless Journey” or the first of closer “A Black Slimy Smooth Tongueshaped Form,” when Katla ignite a space rock so pure it seems born of a direct Hawkwindian lineage, enough to make it tempting to check whether the listed-as-first-name-only lineup of Nils, Johan, Lisa or Nilz hail from the family Brock. But that’s by no means the extent of the stylistic range they cover.
Their debut album, Embryo, arrives via respected purveyor Svart Records with a loose heavy psych affiliation, classic in its swing, modern in tone, strangely melodic with Lisa‘s breathy delivery and delivered with an embrace of prog-of-old weirdness that comes to be one of its defining aspects as it plays out its vinyl-ready nine tracks/48 minutes, encouraging listeners to “break free,” presumably of their square existence, on “Eat Sleep Die” and starting off with the shuffling oddity of “Horsehead.”
Cosmic theremin makes its first appearance on that opening cut, but it’s not at all the last, Katla putting its sci-fi-sounding properties to work throughout, adding further depth to a sonic meld that showcases not only a sense of breadth, but also one of cohesion in style and execution. That is, Embryo‘s tracks aren’t haphazard in approach and the flow that Katla create between them isn’t to be understated. From the patient opening of “Horsehead” as it moves into the build and launch of “Endless Journey,” it is a record steeped in vibe and born of a musical tradition that, by its very nature, must expand in the way it does here.
The theremin comes back into play on “Endless Journey” and the tone is in some ways set for the course of the album, but by no means are Katla finished with their demonstration. Interestingly, Embryo was recorded in 2014, the Stockholm-based outfit working with Silence Records studio in Värmland before finishing and going on hiatus for a time owing to geographic concerns (i.e. somebody moved).
That probably puts them at some distance from these tracks by now, but Embryo, while of course playing toward an identity based on classic forms, sounds no “older” than it’s intended to, and as the band pushes through the end of “Eat Sleep Die” and into the psychedelically meandering open of the seven-minute title-track — also presumably the closer of side A — the guitars and toms setting a mood from which a fluid build takes hold, the amorphous feel of their identity thus far is anything but staid.
“Embryo” is a standout on the album that bears its name, nodding at psychedelic folk even as it pulls together some significant momentum going into its back end, remaining patient as it cuts to quiet just before the five-minute mark then with keys and voice included casting forth a heavy psych push that becomes a satisfying wash of cymbals and noise. That apex for the first half of Embryo fits well, but cuts out and they actually finish side A on a note of subdued ambience, leading to side B opener and tracklist centerpiece “I’m Your Queen,” the lone opening guitar of which seems to land with that much more impact for the wildness preceding.
For those listening on a linear format — digital or CD — the immersion should be pretty well complete by the time “Embryo” has finished, so “I’m Your Queen,” which feels intentionally geared toward enhancing that with its initial repetitive guitar figure and lyrics that sound like a hypnotic spell, has no trouble diving further into the consciousness. A gradual rumble emerges, but they hold the tempo for the most part, resisting what must have been a considerable urge to take off à la “Endless Journey” and instead shifting into the mellow vibes of “Circles,” with organ adding to a spacious line of guitar over steady, calm drums and warm bass tone.
They do launch for a short orbit in the last minute or so, but hold back on the theremin for the time being, instead working it into the finish of the subsequent “Illusion,” which starts with a flourish of strings the only shame of which is that they don’t actually stick around long enough to pair with the vocals. “Illusion” boasts one of Embryo‘s most memorable hooks and brings back the strings in its second half as it locks into an instrumental movement that, when it’s over, has gone a surprising distance from where the song started.
It’s not Katla‘s first build, and as if they sensed that, the penultimate “Collision” shifts the structural focus so that an atmospheric beginning rises some in the middle and recedes again at its finish, a bookend that underscores the songwriting process at work and how purposeful this material is overall leading into the revitalized swirl of the aforementioned closer “A Black Slimy Smooth Tongueshaped Form,” which brings back the theremin of the opening salvo while taking a victory lap around a solar system of boogie.
A layered solo and theremin wash end the album just past four minutes in, somewhat sudden but fair enough to fit an LP, and Katla return their audience to solid ground with a command that undercuts the notion of Embryo being their debut. One can’t help but wonder what the last two years have brought in terms of growth in their songwriting — these songs will be old to them by now, I’m sure — but as a public introduction, their kosmiche conjuring is engaging across a span that seems like it can only keep growing.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Yeah, I can dig it. Weirdo heavy prog-psych with a classic spin and modern tones? I’m down. There are few labels out there whose updates I look forward to as much as Svart Records, and in Swedish newcomers Katla‘s debut album, Embryo, they would seem to have another gospel for the converted. All told, the record’s nine tracks top an immersive 48 minutes, and as a sampling, the label has posted Katla‘s “Illusion” to let listeners know what’s up. I’m just getting into the album as I write this, but just let me say that I hope to have more to come as we get closer to the Sept. 30 release.
That day, if you’ve been paying attention, is the most crowded release date probably of the year, certainly of the second half of it. Nonetheless, something tells me these guys aren’t going to have trouble standing out.
Art, info, links, audio. You know the drill:
KATLA set release date for SVART debut, reveal first track
Svart Records sets September 30th as the international release date for Katla’s debut album, Embryo. Katla is an enticing mixture of everything that was unforgettable and magical in the musical landscape of the ’70s: a hint of krautrock here, a dash of Hawkwind-y psychedelia there, and a touch of Swedish folk rock on top.
In February 2014, Katla entered the legendary studio of Silence Records in the dark forests of Värmland to tape their long-play debut. During a weekend of recording and walks through the woods, the album took shape. The songs consisted of old and new ones, ranging from the krauty psych-rock of “A Black, Slimy, Smooth and Tongueshaped Form”, over the heavy stoner of “Horsehead” to the calm of “Embryo.”
Embryo was mixed at Cobra Studios by Christian Gabel (bob hund) and the band with help from David Svedmyr. After finishing the recording session, Katla went on hiatus due to members moving abroad, but now they’re back, and they’re ready to present the psychedelic nugget that is Embryo. Hear the first nugget at Svart’s Soundcloud HERE with the track “Illusion.”
Tracklisting for Katla’s Embryo: 1. Horsehead 2. Endless Journey 3. Eat Sleep Die 4. Embryo 5. I’m Your Queen 6. Circles 7. Illusion 8. Collision 9. A Black Slimy Smooth Tongueshaped Form
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Swedish heavy rockers Ponamero Sundown have decided to call it a day. Hung up their spurs. Punched out. Insert other cliche for not being a band anymore here. Their disbanding was announced via Thee Facebooks, and they took care to dub it a “hiatus” and leave open the possibility of playing together again if the timing and offer were right for a farewell show. As of now, so far as I know, nothing is planned.
Based in Stockholm, Ponamero Sundown released three albums during their time together. The latest of them was Veddesta, which came out last year on Transubstans and Ozium Records. Their third full-length, it was preceded by 2011’s Rodeo Eléctrica (review here) and their 2009 debut, Stonerized (review here), both of which were also issued by Transubstans.
They leave having recently posted the track “Black Widow” to mark their 10th anniversary as a band. Originally recorded in 2007 and reportedly a regular feature of live sets, the song was included as a bonus cut on the CD version of Veddesta and brings up a lot of the strengths they showed throughout their tenure in songwriting and energetic execution. New projects from members are reportedly in the works, so when and if I hear of anything, I’ll pass word along.
Until then, best of luck to the dudes who used to be Ponamero Sundown. Here’s their announcement, short, sweet, and Band-Aid-esque:
It’s time to release the clutch and move on…
So from today we’re on a hiatus until further notice.
There’s no bad blood, musical differences or anything, just life itself.
If any festival or similar would like to book us one last time we would be open for that. Other than that some of us got other plans…
Thanks for the support over the years! Much love to you all!
Cheers and stay fuzzed! Anders, Peter, Nicke and Robban
Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Who’s ready for another round of 10 reviews in The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review? I know I am. We gotta hit 50 by Friday, and there’s still a lot — a lot — of ground to cover. Yesterday was all over the place style-wise and today has some of that going as well, but there’s a lot of quality in both, so hopefully you get to check some of it out. Today is the all important QR Hump Day, wherein we pass the halfway mark on our way to the total 50 reviews. If you’re wondering, it’s Lord Vicar who do the honors this time around at #25. Just kind of worked out that way, but I’ll take it. Down to business.
Quarterly Review #21-30:
Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare
Probably fair to call Mirrors for Psychic Warfare an offshoot of Corrections House, since its two members – Scott Kelly (also Neurosis) and Sanford Parker (producer extraordinaire/also Buried at Sea) – are also in that group, but the feel of their Neurot Recordings self-titled debut is substantially different, rawer and at times harsher. Parker handles beats and electronics, creating at times a wash of abrasive noise as in the culmination of “CNN WTZ,” the centerpiece of the five tracks, and elsewhere providing an industrial backdrop for Kelly’s voice for a gothic feel, as on “A Thorn to See.” Unsurprisingly, nothing about Mirrors for Psychic Warfare makes for particularly easy listening – though opener “Oracles Hex” has some commonality with Kelly’s solo work and his voice is resonant as ever – but as they round out the album with “43,” the keys, synth and guitar find some common ground, which leaves distorted shouts from Kelly to do the work of taking listeners to task. We already knew these two worked well together, and the partnership once again bears fruit here.
The four-song Death Thy Lover EP (on Napalm) is the first new studio offering of original material from Swedish doom legends Candlemass since their 2012 album, Psalms for the Dead (review here), marked the end of the tenure of vocalist Robert Lowe, also of Solitude Aeturnus. His replacement is the person who nearly had the job in the first place, Mats Levén (formerly Therion), who has a kind of stateliness to his presence in opener “Death Thy Lover” but suits the plod of “Sleeping Giant” well. Of course, at the center of the band is bassist/songwriter Leif Edling, whose style is unmistakable in these tracks, whether it’s the late-Iommi-style riffing of “Sinister ‘n’ Sweet” or “Death Thy Lover”’s chugging its way toward the hook. Candlemass save the most grueling for last with “The Goose,” as guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson intertwine a chugging rhythm and extended soloing over dirge-march drums from Jan Lindh to give the short release a darkened instrumental finale.
Talk about scope. Oh, only a country’s entire cultural history is fair game for Skuggsjá, the brainchild of Norwegian artists Ivar Bjørnson (also Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (also Wardruna) that crosses the line between black metal and Norse traditionalism probably better than anyone has ever done it before. A Piece for Mind and Mirror is the studio incarnation of the work the two composers and a host of others did as commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, and though it’s broken into 10 movements for the album, it flows together as one orchestral entirety, the gurgle of Grutle Kjellson (Enslaved) recognizable in the eponymous track amid choral backing and a richly textured blend of traditional folk instruments and metallic thrust. The lyrics are Norwegian, but whether it’s the blowing horn of “Makta Og Vanæra (I All Tid)” or the lush melodies in the march of “Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing,” the sense of pride and the creative accomplishment of A Piece for Mind and Mirror ring through loud and clear.
Two years after making their self-titled debut, Baltimore heavy bluesfuzz trio Black Lung come swaggering back with the spacious vibes of See the Enemy (on Noisolution), which takes the establishing steps the first album laid out and builds on them fluidly and with a clear direction in mind. At eight tracks/45 minutes produced by J. Robbins, the album was clearly structured for vinyl, each half ending with a longer cut, the psych-jamming “Nerve” on side A, which resounds in an ending of scorching guitar from Adam Bufano atop the drums of Elias Schutzman (both of The Flying Eyes), and the closer “8MM,” on which Bufano, Schutzman, guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier and Robbins (who also contributes bass) roll out the record’s most massive groove and cap it with an impenetrable wall of noise. While the songs are striking in their cohesion and poise, there are moments where one wants Black Lung to really let loose, as after Trevor Shipley’s keyboard stretch in “Priestess,” but they have other ideas, feeding the title-track directly into “8MM” with no less a firm sense of control than shown earlier. All told, an excellent follow-up that deserves broader consideration among 2016’s finer offerings.
Offered through The Church Within Records as a paean to classic doom, Lord Vicar’s third LP, Gates of Flesh, nonetheless almost can’t help but put its own mark on the style. The Turku, Finland, outfit’s first album in five years, it finds guitarist Kimi Kärki (ex-Reverend Bizarre, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, etc.), vocalist Chritus (also Goatess, ex-Saint Vitus, Count Raven, etc.), and drummer Gareth Millsted (ex-Centurions Ghost) — who, along with Kärki, also contributed bass after the band parted ways with Jussi Myllykoski and prior to adding Sami Hynninen as a temporary replacement — bold enough to shift into minimalist spaciousness on “A Shadow of Myself,” and really, they’re not through opener “Birth of Wine” before Kärki executes a gorgeous dual-layered solo. Trace those roots back to Trouble if you must, but there’s no question to whom the lurch of centerpiece “Breaking the Circle” or the sorrowful 10-minute closer “Leper, Leper” belongs, and the same holds true for everything that follows, be it the quiet start of “A Woman out of Snow” or the swinging second half of “Accidents.” Lord Vicar enact the doom of ages and take complete ownership of the sound, thus only adding to the canon as they go.
Like the stench of rotting, Dakessian’s The Poisoned Chalice provokes a visceral and physical response. The long-in-the-making debut release from the Portland-based duo of vocalist Kenny Snarzyk (also Fister) and multi-instrumentalist Aaron D.C. Edge (Lumbar, Roareth, so many others) had its music recorded back in 2013, and the vocals were added earlier this year, throat-searing screams and growls that top the noisy, claustrophobically weighted tones from Edge’s guitar. The onslaught is unrelenting, both longer songs like “Demons” and “Ten Double Zero” and shorter cuts “Nothing Forever” and the sample-laced opener “Choose Hate” brim with aggressive misanthropy, the will against. Even the penultimate “Baerial,” which offers a glimmer of melody, continues to crush, and starting with a slow drum progression, closer “Cosmic Dissolution” barely tops two and a half minutes, but it brings thorough reassurance of the project’s destructive force before its final drone rounds out. One never knows with Edge if a given band will ever have a follow-up, but as ever, the quality is consistent. In this case, brutally so.
Actually, if you want to get technical about it, Gypsy Chief Goliath are citizens of Ontario, but you’d never know it from listening to their third album, Citizens of Nowhere, which if you had to pin a geographic locale on it might be more of a fit for New Orleans than Canada. The Pitch Black Records release sees the triple-guitar-plus-harmonica six-piece outfit dug deep in Southern metal grooves, marked out by the burl-bringing vocals of frontman/guitarist Al “The Yeti” Bones, formerly of Mister Bones, Serpents of Secrecy and The Mighty Nimbus and the chug-and-churn of cuts like “Black Samurai” and the shuffle of “We Died for This.” The title-track winds its central riff with thickened-up ‘70s boogie, while “Elephant in the Room” and “The Return” space out a bit more, and the closing Black Sabbath cover “Killing Yourself to Live” (a CD bonus track) plays it loyal structurally while dude’ing up the original like it was on hormone therapy.
Hard-touring Richmond genre-benders Inter Arma are due for a landmark release. Their 2014 single-song EP, The Cavern, was wildly well received and earned every bit of praise it got. Their follow-up to that is Paradise Gallows, their third album and second for Relapse behind 2013’s Sky Burial (track stream here). Is Paradise Gallows that landmark? Hell if I know. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mikey Allred, who also guests on trombone, bass violin, organ and noise, Inter Arma’s third brings an expansive 70 minutes of bleak progressivism, conceptually and sonically broad enough to be considered brilliant and still weighted enough that the prevailing vibe is extremity in their blend of sludge, doom, black metal, post-metal, atmospherics, and a moody acoustic closer. The only real danger is that it might take listeners time to digest – because it’s a lot to take in, all those twists and turns in “Violent Constellations,” particularly after the plod of the title-track – but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find Inter Arma inhabiting any number of year-end lists for 2016. Once again, they earn it.
Virginian bruisers Helgamite manage to cover a deceptive amount of sonic ground on their second LP, Hypnagogia (on CD through Lost Apparitions with vinyl soon on Flesh Vessel), spending plenty of time in dense-toned sludge metal but using that as a foundation for a wider range of explorations, winding up in blastbeats by the time 13-minute side B finale “The Secret” comes around, but by then having torn through the aggro-thrash of “Origins,” lumbered through the mosher “Æstrosion” and topped off “Shaman’s Veil” with math-metal guitar fits melded to a saxophone arrangement. Growls from vocalist William Breeden and Jonah Butler’s drums tie it all together as guitarist Casey Firkin (also sax) and bassist Matthew Beahm pull off intermittently jazzy runs, but impressively, Helgamite never sound in danger of losing sight of the songs they’re serving, and Hypnogogia is stronger for its unwillingness to waste a second of its runtime, even in the aforementioned “The Secret” or its 10-minute side A counterpart, “Snowdrifter.”
Get it? Children of the Chron? I’ll admit it took me a second. While I was thinking about it, Allston, Massachusetts, duo Mollusk doled out sludge-punk-metal beatings via raw tones and shouts and a general sense of checked-out attitude, “Glacier” reminding of earliest, least-poppy Floor, but cuts like “Demon Queen” and “When You’re Gone” finding guitarist Hank Rose using a purposefully monotone vocal approach that works well over slower parts. Rose is joined in Mollusk by drummer Adam O’Day, and though I’ve already noted that the 11-track album is raw, their sound wants nothing for impact in the low end or any other end for that matter. Rather, the harsher aspects become part of the aesthetic throughout Children of the Chron and the band successfully navigates its own mire without getting lost in either its own “Torture Chamber” or “Zombie Apocalypse,” which like opener “Ride the #9,” is almost certainly a song about life in the Boston area.
Swedish heavy rockers Wheel in the Sky released their debut full-length, Heading for the Night (review here), earlier this year via The Sign Records. Prior to issuing the album, they released a video for the track “Jezebel” (posted here) that was a bizarre, kind of nightmarish affair featuring a vulture-human hybrid and strange black and white atmospherics. Cool looking, no doubt a metaphor for something or other, but not exactly representative of the song’s vibe, which wasn’t nearly so dark.
Wheel in the Sky come a lot closer to that in their new clip for the colorfully-yet-ominously titled “Rainbow of Evil,” pulling back from some of the arthouse vibe in favor of a more straightforward, late-night-cable-access analog-style grain in the footage, shot at odd angles to underscore that a touch of the weirdo still remains, but by and large it’s a friendlier spirit at work, and that suits the warm but modern feel of the track itself. The album gracefully balances itself between those two sides — classic and modern — and comes out of its duration having effectively drawn from both, so makes an encouraging debut. I didn’t realize until I saw the info below, or otherwise I didn’t remember, that David Berlin was a member of Mother Superior, but that makes a lot of sense considering where these guys are coming from.
Check out “Rainbow of Evil” below, followed by what the PR wire had to say about it, and please enjoy:
Wheel in the Sky, “Rainbow of Evil” official video
Wheel In The Sky – Rainbow Of Evil video release
“Rainbow Of Evil” is the second video from Wheel In The Sky’s debut album “Heading For The Night”. The Swedish band is fronted by David Berlin who previously was a member of Uppsala’s Mother Superior that released two classic pysch rock albums, “The Mothership Has Landed” and “The Mothership Movement”, during the 90’s. David Berlin formed Wheel In The Sky after working on a few tracks in his cellar. The band slowly formed during the recordings and the outcome was the album “Heading For The Night”. Check out the bands new video for the song “Rainbow Of Evil”.
Posted in Reviews on June 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
So-called traditional doom can be a difficult balance to walk, but when Goatess made their self-titled debut (review here) in 2013, it demonstrated clearly the vitality that, even more than four decades on from Black Sabbath‘s appearance, could still be injected into a sound that so often seems to be striving to come across as staid as possible. The Swedish four-piece benefited on that record from a standout vocal performance from Christian “Chritus” Linderson, whose pedigree includes stints in Count Raven, Saint Vitus and Lord Vicar, as well as memorable songwriting and smooth shifts in tempo among guitarist Nicklas, bassist Findlus (since replaced by Peter Svensson) and drummer Kenta Karlbom, and their second outing, Goatess II: Purgatory Under New Management — which, like the debut, is out on Svart Records — offers no less in that regard, but also comes across presenting Goatess as more of a full band, having done the work of their first album and come into their own more in terms of sound.
In eight songs/63 minutes, it’s a record heavy enough to justify calling a “slab,” but it maintains its sense of humor, which one need look no further than the album cover or titles like “Murphy was an Optimist” and “Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawly Shhh…” to see, as well as its lack of stylistic pretense, and both of those work excellently in concert with their songcraft and performance to make II: Purgatory Under New Management a work of raw joy for the doom converted. Not everyone will get it — that, frankly, should be the case for doom at its best — but for those who do, Goatess become something even more special in these tracks.
They begin on a high note with “Moth to Flame” (premiered here), the opener and longest track (immediate points) and also the only song on the record to pass the 10-minute mark in runtime (double points). One of the most crucial elements “Moth to Flame” introduces — aside from Karlbom pulling back to half-time on the crash cymbals, also done to great effect on the later “Silent War” — is psychedelic flourish in Nicklas‘ guitar. It comes in a bridge in the second half of the song, long after the rolling nod has been established, and markedly expands the context for the song.
Goatess had their stonerized elements on the self-titled as well, so it’s not necessarily something coming out of nowhere, but it is used well in “Moth to Flame” and in the mostly-instrumental-save-for-samples “Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawly Shhh…” and the penultimate “Wrath of God,” which is part of a strong closing trio of three tracks of surprisingly varied but universally solid doom, Goatess having clearly found their element between cuts like the lurching “Purgatory Under New Management” — marked out by some must-hear Butlerian bass — and the more uptempo rocker “Shadowland,” which leads the way into the second half of the record after the weirdo vibes of “Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawly Shhh…” subside. Joining “Wrath of God” in that final salvo are “Silent War” before and closer “Good Moaning” after, and each cut is marked out by some element that emphasizes Goatess‘ progression as a band, whether that’s the cowbell-laden classic heavy rock swing of “Silent War,” the aforementioned guitar turn in “Wrath of God” or Linderson‘s vocal harmonies in the waning moments of “Good Moaning.”
One could easily extrapolate that standard to the rest of II: Purgatory Under New Management preceding — whether it’s the cowbell of “Shadowland,” the foreshadowing blend of “Moth to Flame” that sets the table for the entire album to follow, or the airy solo following the landmark hook in the tail end of “Murphy was an Optimist” — but it comes through particularly emphasized as the record begins to make its way out. Still, some of the most triumphant aspects of Goatess‘ second LP are how fluidly it moves between its tracks, how immersive its hour-plus runtime turns out to be, and how much of a wholeness it has front to back, songs united in spirit even as they offer variety in sonics and mood. Goatess rightly reaped considerable praise for their debut, but II: Purgatory Under New Management takes marked steps forward from where they were three years ago, and for that, outclasses its predecessor across the board.
Yes, Black Sabbath is still the key, ultimate, crucial aesthetic ingredient, but consider the gruff semi-spoken delivery from Linderson at the start of “Shadowland” or the patient rollout of the title-track and how its pagan-themed sample ties to “Crocodilians and Other Creepy Crawly Shhh….,” and it becomes clear Goatess are working with intent beyond riffing out in classic form, though they wind up doing that in more than able fashion at times as well. Some of their doom-for-doomers ethic might keep them from wider attention that they would otherwise earn, but for the audience they’re speaking to and for the manner in which they’re making their statement, II: Purgatory Under New Management feels like the exact right fit at the exact right time. Little doubt it will stand among the best outings in doom of 2016. It walks that delicate balance gracefully and makes the traditions of its genre entirely its own.