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Feature: 10 Records that Made Domkraft Want to End Electricity

Posted in Features on December 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

domkraft carl carpelan

Stockholm riff-pummelers Domkraft made their debut this fall with The End of Electricity on Magnetic Eye Records — a blown-out collection of dense-toned low end push, mean in its execution and weighted on a planetary scale. Rest assured, plenty of electricity went into its making, though perhaps they chose the title for the number of fuses they blew in the studio trying to power all those tube amps. A question for another time.

Today we concern ourselves with what drove the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer domkraft the end of electricityAnders Dahlgren to craft this monstrosity of riff in the first place. One learns early on in writing about music that the question “Who are your influences?” is off limits once you’re no longer writing for the high school newspaper. That’s some shit that you, as a critic, should know by the time you talk to someone. But Domkraft were kind enough to take the initiative and answer the question anyhow in the form of counting down (counting up? either way, counting) 10 records that made them who they are as a band.

And though I’m sure you’ve heard it by now, just like you already know they’ve been tapped to play Psycho Las Vegas 2017, because you’re hip like that and into the rock and/or roll, just in case you want some context for what the band discusses below, I’ve also included the stream of The End of Electricity at the bottom of this post, so you can hear what all this cool stuff sounds like when it comes out the other side of Domkraft‘s blender.

Thanks to Domkraft for taking the time and to Jadd Shickler for coordinating. Enjoy:

10 Records that Made Domkraft

PINK FLOYD, Meddle (1971)

Well, where to start with this one? A seminal album in every aspect. This is the very blueprint for how drums, guitar and bass can interact in long, sweeping, echoing compositions that grow in and out of one given theme. Some of us have listened to this album ever since we were kids. The epic pounding of “One of These Days” still lacks comparison. And even if we work in a different musical context, the live version of the song from Pompeii 1972 in particular captures the very essence of how music should feel for us; overwhelming, transcendental and all-consuming. An inspiration in so many ways.

SPACEMEN 3, Playing with Fire (1989)

“Just play one note. No fancy stuff.” With fancy stuff being two notes, this band is a marvel in itself. When it comes to creating greatness out of almost nothing, Spacemen 3 are still unrivalled. And Playing with Fire is arguably their finest moment. From the dream-like inner and outer journey of “Honey” and “How Does It Feel?” to downright life-transforming sonic freight trains such as “Revolution” and “Suicide,” this is probably one of the bands that has had the biggest impact on how we apprehend music. The tones themselves decide the structure of the song, not the other way around. And less is almost always so much more. We love both sides of this band, the mellow stuff as well as the really powerful, even though I think most of the people who appreciate Domkraft will get more out of the louder stuff. Anyway, an amazing band and an album that sounds as fresh today as it did when it was released in 1989.

LOOP, A Gilded Eternity (1990)

When we’re writing, groove and pace are two cornerstones. Loop purified the bond between sparse, focused rhythms and feedback guitars. Their music is so self-conscious — it’s almost as if all parts not proven vital for the song’s existence have been removed. Staccato drumming and kraut-like bass grooves together with screaming minimalistic, echo-drenched wah-wah guitars give songs like “The Nail Will Burn” a unique, hypnotic vibe. The riffs feel endless. No beginning. No end. Everything so simplified, repeated and recycled that even the smallest alteration makes a huge difference. In Domkraft, we work a lot with the idea of trusting a riff enough to let it take over a song. One riff, one firm groove. That’s all you need, really. And it does not necessarily have to space out — keeping it sharp can be equally mind-bending. And Loop knew that early on.

GOD MACHINE, Songs from the Second Storey (1993)

Apparently there’s at least one other band with the same name now, but we’re talking about the classic San Diego ’90s band here. So, yeah, some elements on this album haven’t aged that well and sound very much like a product of their time. But when they hit the sweet spot, oh man… they are sooo good. Not metal, but still heavier than most bands of that era, and with longing, desperate vocals floating upon gluey, crawling, rock-solid riffing. It becomes something that is hard to really label –- without making a fuss about being genre-bending. You can definitely hear echoes of God Machine in Domkraft, especially in how we work with vocals.

ENTOMBED, Wolverine Blues (1993)

If you’re Swedish and into heavier music, you just have to relate to Entombed somehow. We’re pretty old school, so the first three albums are where it’s at for us. Strangely though, with Wolverine Blues being the defining moment that moved them away from the classic death metal they played a big part in shaping, this is also one of their absolutely heaviest offerings. And it also features some of Nicke Andersson’s finest drumming –- he has that pretty unique Bill Ward-quality of making everything sound alive and in constant motion. Apart from being an inspiration rhythm-wise, there’s also a few scales that would probably not be there if it wasn’t for Entombed.

MELVINS, Houdini (1993)

When Melvins decided to slow things down, they certainly didn’t half-ass it. Their raw, bass-heavy and down-tuned sound made a huge impact on us (and still does). There is something about these guys that makes you feel like metal, punk or rock music never existed before. Seemingly uninterested in appearance and with almost surrealist lyrics, they challenge the whole concept of genres. That, combined with the intense drumming, the bass tone, the rhythmic and sludgy riffing of songs like “Hooch” and “Night Goat,” was a big reference for us when Domkraft was formed.

MONSTER MAGNET, Dopes to Infinity (1995)

Even though the band had released a few albums before, Dopes to Infinity was the album that really made us fall in love with them. At that time no one could deliver more powerful riffing and spaced-out songs and still be heavy as fuck. They seemed to mix the anglo-surrealism of Syd Barrett with punk rock attitude, Iommic riffing and the free-form song structures of Hawkwind. Echoing phasers, earth-shattering riffs and songs that, when needed, are long enough to make you lose track of time. The result was mind-bending to us then and still continues to influence us.

HIS HERO IS GONE, Monument to Thieves (1997)

Like a restless bastard sibling to Neurosis, Memphis’ His Hero Is Gone made a couple of albums in the late ’90s that sounded pretty much like the musical equivalent of nuclear war. Crusty pain-ridden hardcore, no nonsense d-beat and extreme, doomy low-end. Call it proto-sludge, if you will. Call it brilliant, you must. The atmosphere of this album is dark and gloomy, still somehow strangely beautiful in all of its intensity and almost bittersweet –- and it all sounds natural. That is something that very well might echo in our songs as well.

BURIED AT SEA, Migration (2003)

How low can you go? Well, this is about it. At least if you want to retain some kind of detail. Pretty minimalist as far as song structures go and manages to be extremely dense and atmospheric at the same time. The deranged, distorted vocals that appear very sparsely are almost like they’re just there to remind you that “oh! this is actually played by humans.” It’s also brilliantly produced, and well, what less could you expect with Sanford Parker in the band? The low-end just levels everything in its path and the highs accentuate everything that happens in the background (and that is quite a lot). Possibly one of the most intense — and groovy! — albums ever. The impact on Domkraft is probably mainly the realization that you don’t have to fear either mid or treble in order to still keep things heavy as fuck.

SWANS, The Seer (2011)

There is something about Swans that is close to impossible to describe in words alone. Especially regarding the second stage of their career. The constant building, how minor alterations make all the difference and the notion that you never really know if there could ever be an end to it. And you really don’t ever want it to end either. It’s a trance-like state, but the sheer power still makes you very aware of every change. It’s beautiful and threatening at the same time. Clean, crisp and sometimes almost orchestral. We might be on the other side of the sonic spectra with our massive use of fuzz and effects, but the spirit and the idea that each song itself sets its own rules has been a massive influence on us. Probably one of the three most important bands for us -– the other two being Sabbath and Spacemen 3.

Domkraft, The End of Electricity (2016)

Domkraft on Thee Facebooks

Domkraft on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

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On the Radar: Deem Release Untitled Debut EP

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.

Enjoy:

deem-deem

_ 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

Deem, _ (2016)

Deem on Thee Facebooks

Deem on Bandcamp

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Domkraft to Release The End of Electricity Nov. 11; Preorders Available & Teaser Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

domkraft-photo-by-carl-carpelan

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 12 jacket Gatefold

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

https://domkraft.bandcamp.com/album/the-end-of-electricity
https://www.facebook.com/domkraftband/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords/
https://twitter.com/magnetic_eye
http://magneticeyerecords.com/

Domkraft, The End of Electricity teaser

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Katla, Embryo: Crazy Worlds (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

katla-embryo

[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.

katla

“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.

Katla on Thee Facebooks

Katla on Soundcloud

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Katla at Svart Records

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Katla to Release Debut Album Embryo Sept. 30 on Svart Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

katla

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 embryo

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

www.facebook.com/wearekatla
https://www.facebook.com/events/317145415287374/
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/svartrecords
www.youtube.com/svartrecords
www.twitter.com/svartrecords

Katla, “Illusion” from Embryo

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Ponamero Sundown Call it Quits

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:

ponamero sundown

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

https://www.facebook.com/ponamerosundown/
http://ponamerosundown.bandcamp.com
http://www.transubstans.com
http://www.recordheaven.net
http://oziumrecords.com

Ponamero Sundown, “Black Widow”

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Quarterly Review: Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Candlemass, Skuggsjá, Black Lung, Lord Vicar, Dakessian, Gypsy Chief Goliath, Inter Arma, Helgamite, Mollusk

Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

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

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.

Neurot Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings webshop

Candlemass, Death Thy Lover

candlemass-death-thy-lover

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.

Candlemass on Thee Facebooks

Candlemass at Napalm Records

Skuggsjá, A Piece for Mind and Mirror

skuggsja-a-piece-for-mind-and-mirror

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.

Skuggsjá on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist webshop

Black Lung, See the Enemy

black lung see the enemy

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.

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Black Lung at Noisolution

Lord Vicar, Gates of Flesh

lord vicar gates of flesh

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.

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The Church Within Records

Dakessian, The Poisoned Chalice

dakessian the poisoned chalice

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.

Dakessian on Bandcamp

Holy Mountain Printing

Gypsy Chief Goliath, Citizens of Nowhere

gypsy chief goliath citizens of nowhere

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.

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Pitch Black Records on Bandcamp

Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows

inter arma paradise gallows

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.

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Inter Arma at Relapse Records

Helgamite, Hypnagogia

helgamite hypnagogia

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.”

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Lost Apparitions Records website

Flesh Vessel Records on Thee Facebooks

Mollusk, Children of the Chron

mollusk-children-of-the-chron

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.

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Mollusk at ReverbNation

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Wheel in the Sky Post “Rainbow of Evil” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 10th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

wheel in the sky

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”.

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Wheel in the Sky on Bandcamp

Wheel in the Sky at Bengans Skivbutik

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