Sorcerer Stream “The Gates of Hell” from Debut LP In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross

Posted in audiObelisk on March 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

sorcerer

Epic doom and classic metal resound throughout Sorcerer‘s much-awaited debut LP, In the Shadow of the Black Cross, which is out March 24 on Metal Blade Records. The band are something of a myth in doom, having released two demos in 1989 and 1992 — both later compiled and release by John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus‘ imprint, Brainticket Records — before breaking up and sending its members on to other acts like TherionTiamat220 VoltSoilwork and so on. Under the guidance of founding bassist Johnny Hagel and vocalist Anders Engberg, who are joined by guitarists Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgren and drummer Robert IversonSorcerer made a return in 2010 and have been constructing In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross ever since, with Iverson in the role of engineer.

It wasn’t an especially quick process, but the precision with which Sorcerer execute the record’s eight tracks justifies the extra care. Songs like the eight-minute “Lake of Lost Souls” unfold with latter-day Iommi-style metallic grace, the album’s first three tracks — “The Dark Tower of the Sorcerer,” “Sumerian Script” and “Lake of the Lost Souls”sorcerer in the shadow of the inverted cross — forming a triumvirate of classic doom that, because they hail from Stockholm, one might be tempted to relate to Candlemass. In the context of the album as a whole, however, Grand Magus seems a more appropriate fit, since neither are Sorcerer shy about establishing a metallic foundation for cuts like “Exorcise the Demon” or “The Gates of Hell,” stepping forward in tempo and aggression while remaining in full command of their sound to the point of seeming to nod at Enslaved‘s “Fusion of Sense and Earth” with the central riff of In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross‘ title-track.

Wherever they might be headed at any given moment on their quarter-century-later debut, though, the material is drawn together by a sense of grand mystery and gracefulness, so that the synth-underscored verses of “Prayers for a King” or the final, solo-topped apex of “Pagans Dance” and quiet epilogue that follows fit seamlessly with the rest of the album’s shifts, including those of “The Gates of Hell” preceding, the shortest and perhaps most metallic cut on In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross. With it, the five-piece dip for four and a half minutes into near-power metal stylizations, blurring a usually distinct genre line effectively as they dig crisply into what winds up being a singularly infectious hook, peppered with guitar leads, chanting and more fist-pump-worthy riffing than your wrist can handle.

I’m pleased to be able to host the premiere of “The Gates of Hell” ahead of the album’s March 24 release. Please find it on the player below, followed by some more bio background on the band/record from Metal Blade, and enjoy:

SORCERER was formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1988 but disbanded after two demos in 1992. Both demos are considered true Doom Metal classics and have been released on CD in 1995. In 2010 the band came back together to play the Hammer of Doom festival in Germany and a year later the Up The Hammers festival in Athens, Greece. Both shows were received extremely well and the thoughts of putting together a new album started to take form. In the end it took over two years to write, arrange and record it but the result is nothing but pure, heavy epic doom metal. The process of putting all bits and pieces together and making it ready for mix and mastering was the work of drummer Robert Iversen, also a very fine recording engineer, who was acting as the spider in the recording web. The album was mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth, Devin Townsend).

With years of professional experience and top-class instrumental abilities among its band members the SORCERER of the 21st century is determined to deliver epic doom metal for many years to come; on record and on stages all around the world!

Track Listing:
1. The Dark Tower of the Sorcerer
2. Sumerian Script
3. Lake of the Lost Souls
4. Excorcise the Demon
5. In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross
6. Prayers for a King
7. The Gates of Hell
8. Pagans Dance

SORCERER is:
Anders Engberg – vocals
Kristian Niemann – guitars
Peter Hallgren – guitars
Johnny Hagel – bass
Robert Iversen – drums

Sorcerer on Thee Facebooks

Sorcerer’s website

Sorcerer at Metal Blade Records

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Friday Full-Length: Candlemass, Nightfall

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Candlemass, Nightfall (1987)

I don’t think there’s any measure by which Candlemass‘ 1987 sophomore outing, Nightfall, doesn’t rate as a doom classic. On a sheer album level, in terms of what I grab off the shelf when I want to listen to the band, I’ll admit to a preference for the Stockholm unit’s 1986 debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, with Johan Längquist singing,but Nightfall is an LP of undeniable force, and it was their first to be fronted by Messiah Marcolin, beginning what some would argue is the most pivotal era in their tenure. It’s fair to argue that Epicus had its epic side, but Marcolin‘s voice brought a new theatrical element to bassist Leif Edling‘s songwriting, and while it would continue to develop over the band’s next two albums, 1988’s Ancient Dreams and 1989’s Tales of Creation — as with a lot of classic metallers, the ’90s were not especially kind to Candlemass — one can already hear the grandiosity taking hold in the band’s approach on songs like “The Well of Souls,” “Samarithan,” and “At the Gallow’s End.” Peppered with instrumentals and interludes, Nightfall wanted nothing for atmosphere, and in a time when doom and metal could hardly have been considered as separate entities, it opted for a more poised, classical character.

That’s not to say it didn’t also spawn the cult-classic video for “Bewitched,” just that musically and vocally it was shooting for something more sophisticated than either thrash or the by-then-waning NWOBHM. Or at least that’s how it sounds 28 years later. Marcolin left the band in 1991 and was replaced by Thomas Vikström and then Björn Flodkvist. After a dissolution following 1999’s From the 13th Sun, Candlemass reformed in 2005 with Marcolin once more up front with Edling, guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson, and drummer Jan Lindh, but by the time 2007’s King of the Grey Islands surfaced, it was Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus in the vocalist role; a position he’d hold through 2009’s Death Magic Doom (review here) and 2012’s Psalms for the Dead (review here), also earning the distinction of being the singer for Candlemass‘ first-ever US tour. Though they’ve threatened retirement several times, Candlemass are still active, with former Therion vocalist Mats Levén as their frontman and Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, also Kamchatka) on keys. The last few years have seen numerous compilations and live album released, including the Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Live at Roadburn 2011 LP (review here) that reunited them with Johan Längquist for the first time since he sang on the debut.

Hope you enjoy it.

Lot of posts this week. Like a lot. The least any day had was five, two days had six (that includes today) and yesterday I think there were seven. Madness. I got a note yesterday from someone on Thee Facebooks who said The Obelisk was one of his “favorite news sites,” which was interesting to me because that’s not really how I think about what I do. I guess the news posts are cool and it’s nice when people share the links and all that and I try to keep up as best I can — I’m already behind for Monday, so you can see how well that goes — but the reviews take so much more time and thought. Can’t fight City Hall, though. News it is. A fascinating glimpse at an identity for a project that’s been in flux more than six years now. One day I’ll settle into something.

Tonight I’m going to see ElderMos Generator and Magic Circle in Providence, so expect a review of that on Monday. Next week is The Patient Mrs.‘ Spring Break, and we’ll be traveling — to Maryland; woo. — so I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to get posted on any given day. One imagines less than seven posts. Fucking madman. But anyway, Monday will bring a full-album stream from Black Rainbows and I’ve got a special Wino Wednesday premiere booked for a Wino & Conny Ochs track from their forthcoming Freedom Conspiracy release, so keep an eye out for those. Other stuff is in the works too. Very hush-hush. Hopefully by the end of the week the new Acid King and Blackout records will have been reviewed.

Spring Break, woo!

At least baseball’s back on.

Hope you have a great and safe weekend and that you dig the Candlemass. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Primitive Man, Sandrider + Kinski, Hiram-Maxim, Obrero and Elbrus

Posted in Radio on February 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

I know it’s not the usual custom to do Radio adds on Mondays, but what the hell, it’s not exactly like there are rules one way or another, and my desktop has hit eight rows deep of folders with albums in them, so whatever day it might be, it’s time to clear out as much of it as possible. A full 22 records join The Obelisk Radio playlist today. Some of it is very strange, some of it pretty straightforward, but one way or another, I think it all makes the stream better and more diverse, and that’s what it’s all about. For the full list of everything added, check out the Playlist and Updates page.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Feb. 16, 2015:

Primitive Man, Home is Where the Hatred Is

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}

After their destructive 2013 Relapse Records debut, Scorn (review here), Primitive Man‘s reputation for brutality precedes them. The Denver trio’s new EP, Home is Where the Hatred Is, is only likely to further that reputation, its four tracks alternating between grueling, unrepentantly slow-lumbering, ungodly-toned extremity and fits of grinding megaviolence. The release is arranged longest to shortest so that opener “Loathe” (11:03) is sure to weed out the weaker constitutions en route to the ensuing crushers “Downfall” (8:43) and “Bag Man” (7:09). The closer, “A Marriage with Nothingness” (4:17) is a collage of noise and fedback threat topped with a sample of a woman either in ecstasy or agony — in context it’s kind of hard to tell — but the message is plain either way. One might think of that cut as an answer to Primitive Man‘s 2013 P//M Noise Tape, which also explored droning forms between covers of PortisheadBlack Sabbath and Crowbar. Perhaps most foreboding of all is how smoothly Primitive Man shift between the facets of their increasingly diverse sound, since it speaks to a progression in progress in terms of bringing the various elements together. A beast is one thing, but a thinking beast seems all the more ominous. They may be in the process of outgrowing their name, but a savage force remains at the heart of their bludgeoning. Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks, Relapse Records.

Sandrider and Kinski, Sandrider + Kinski Split

sandrider kinski split

With geography in common in their Seattle base of operation, Sandrider and Kinski present their Sandrider + Kinski split on Good to Die Records with three new songs from the former, including a cover of Jane’s Addiction‘s “Mountain Song,” and two from the latter, working in instrumental, textured heavy psychedelic forms that complement Sandrider‘s bombastic approach as heard on their two full-lengths to date, 2013’s Godhead (review here) and 2011’s self-titled debut (review here). Both “Beyond in Touch with My Feminine Side” (8:42) and “The Narcotic Comforts of the Status Quo” (5:17) flesh out open spaces, rich in tone and flowing movement, with the closer more of a riffy, space-rock feel while “Beyond in Touch with My Feminine Side” is more exploratory, fading out at its end is the jam sort of deconstructs below lead guitar. As for Sandrider‘s “Rain” (4:47) and “Glaive” (4:40), for anyone who’s heard the rolling punk heaviness of their albums, it should be enough to say they sound like Sandrider — upbeat and catchy and furious and kinetic — and while I’m not sure anyone ever needed to hear a Jane’s Addiction song ever again (ever.), they take what was probably the band’s best riff and re-suit it to their own purposes, which if you’re going to do it at least is the right way to go about it. Sandrider on Thee Facebooks, Kinski on Thee Facebooks, Good to Die Records.

Hiram-Maxim, Hiram-Maxim

hiram-maxim hiram-maxim

Ultimately, Hiram-Maxim‘s self-titled Aqualamb debut reads more like an experiment in the deconstruction of sound than an album in the traditional sense, and perhaps I use the word “reads” because it’s a book. As has become Aqualamb‘s modus, the four-track release comes as a 100-page artbook and a download that contains its nonetheless-vinyl-ready darkened forms, whether it’s the brooding “One” (11:47) with backing drones and open guitars or the preceding “Can’t Stop” (11:55) with its rising current of abrasive, almost grating noise that gradually consumes whatever song was there to start with. It is a dark atmosphere, and the opener, “Visceral”  (7:14), is well titled, but the pervading vibe is more exploratory than theatrical; like the listener, the Cleveland four-piece are feeling their way through these deep reaches, and when they come around to the apex of closer “Worship” (6:25), the resolution they seem to find is frantic and desolate in turn. In another universe, one might call it punk rock. Here, it is gleefully and thoroughly fucked. Hiram-Maxim on Thee Facebooks, Aqualamb.

Obrero, The Infinite Corridors of Time

Obrero The Infinite Corridors of Time

The Infinite Corridors of Time, the second long-player from Stockholm old-schoolers Obrero should — contrary to their logo — appeal to fans of Hour of 13 and Argus and others who’ve made preservation of classic metal their mission, skirting the fine line between doomly Sabbath worship and proto-NWOBHM stylized forwardness of purpose. The double-guitar five-piece show some penchant for ’70s heavy rock on cuts like “Oneironaut” (6:20) and “The Axial Age” (5:40) but by and large their purposes are more metallic, meshing AC/DC and Judas Priest impulses into the keyboard-laden “Manchester Morgue” (5:01) or “Phobos and Deimos” (5:42), which stands out for its hook and successful blend alike. At eight tracks/52 minutes, The Infinite Corridors of Time is no minor undertaking — there is no song under five minutes long — but their use of keys allows Obrero to work in various moods, and for those seeking purity in their metal, the Swedish outfit offer glimpses without being wholly derivative of what’s come before. Obrero on Thee Facebooks, To the Death Records.

Elbrus, Far Away and into Space Pt. 2

Elbrus Far Away and into Space Pt. 2

If you feel like you missed out on Far Away and into Space Pt. 1, don’t worry about it. Melbourne, Australia, four-piece Elbrus are actually starting out with Pt. 2, and it’s their debut single, an 11-minute psychedelic push of heavy blues rock, stoner rollout and organ-blessed jamming. I’m not sure it’s safe yet to call what’s happening in Melbourne right now a “heavy blues revival” as acts like Elbrus and Child delve into such sonic territory — if only because with bands like Horsehunter and Hotel Wrecking City Traders out there, the city’s take on heavy isn’t so easily categorized — but one rarely recognizes such things until beaten over the head by them. Either way, “Far Away and into Space Pt. 2″ gracefully looses a molten flow over its 11:06 stretch, vocalist/organist Ollie Bradley-Smith unafraid to cut through the natural-sounding, weighted tones of guitarist Ringo Camilleri and bassist Mafi Watson while Tom Todorovic‘s drums smooth the way between volume and tempo changes and add cymbal-crash swing to both. It’s a smooth-grooved nod, and aside from making me curious to hear the first installment of “Far Away and into Space,” it makes me wonder what Elbrus might next encounter as that journey unfolds. Elbrus on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

One more time, this is not even a quarter of what’s been added today. There’s also stuff from Black Rainbows, Felipe Arcazas, Headless Kross, Warhorse, Twingiant and others, so please make sure you hit up the Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page to see the full list.

Thanks as always for reading and listening.

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Siena Root Post Video for “Root Rock Pioneers”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

siena root

Of all the albums I didn’t get to hear last year, I think Siena Root hurt the most. There were enough that I could have made a list — one only has so many ears and so much time — but I loved 2009’s Different Realities (discussed here) and did a track stream for the subsequent Root Jam in 2011, and when it came to the release of Pioneers in Nov. 2014 (Cleopatra Records in the US, Gaphals in Europe), I didn’t even know of its existence until after the album was released, and even then it was in some random Facebook post. What a bummer.

“Root Rock Pioneers” is the third video from that record, and in watching and listening, I think you can see why I might be down about missing the boat on the album, what with Siena Root‘s ultra-loose, natural vibe, taking the best parts of heavy rock and ’70s prog and putting them together in a way that both moves easily and demands audience attention. If they’ve created a genre for themselves — one assumes it’s “root rock” instead of “roots rock,” which already exists — they make a good case with the track for their distinction, their organic engagement departs some of the raga-inspired pastoralism of Different Realities in favor of a more rock-band-playing-rock approach that’s well suited to both the stage footage and the psychedelic visuals of the video for “Root Rock Pioneers,” which, true to form, gets a lot done in a little over four minutes.

Siena Root are on tour in Europe this March, and of course Pioneers is available now. It was Gaphals who sent along word of the clip and the tour (credit where it’s due), and you’ll find the PR wire pertinents after the video below. Please enjoy:

Siena Root, “Root Rock Pioneers” official video

Siena Root Root Rock Pioneers video out now!

The third video from Siena Root´s – Pioneers album is a psychadelic journey through Root Rock Land and it captures the bands intense live shows. The band will hit mainland Europe in March 2015 in support of their newly released and highly acclaimed “Pioneers” album.

Root Rock Pioneers is taken from Siena Roots album Pioneers released by Gaphals.
LP/CD: http://smarturl.it/2lmuam
Itunes: http://smarturl.it/t6o06m
Spotify: http://smarturl.it/1bmjti

Produced by Siena Root & Sascha Steinbach
Visuals by Maria Puentes Campos
Live footage by Macabre Pariah Productions
Editing by Sascha Steinbach
Words & music by Siena Root

“Pioneers” European Tour 2015
04.03.2015 – DE Rostock, Mau Club
05.03.2015 – DE Hannover, Mephisto
06.03.2015 – DE Jena, Kulturbahnhof
07.03.2015 – DE Berlin, Bassy Cowboy Club
08.03.2015 – DE Dresden, Beatpol
09.03.2015 – AT Wien, Arena
11.03.2015 – IT Padova, Circolo Mame
12.03.2015 – IT Milano, Lo-Fi
13.03.2015 – DE Esslingen, Hell Over Esslingen
14.03.2015 – DE Frankfurt/M., Das Bett
17.03.2015 – ES Donosti, Dabadaba
18.03.2015 – ES Zaragoza, La Ley Seca
19.03.2015 – ES Gijon, Sala Acapulco
21.03.2015 – ES Burgos, Estudio 27
22.03.2015 – ES Barcelona, Rocksound
23.03.2015 – FR Chambery, Brin De Zinc
24.03.2015 – CH Zürich, Kinski
25.03.2015 – DE Fürth, Kofferfabrik
26.03.2015 – DE Köln, Yard Club
27.03.2015 – BE Leuven, Sojo
28.03.2015 – DE Osnabrück, Westwerk

Other livedates:
05.06.2015 – DE Netphen, Freak Valley Festival
06.06.2015 – DE Dornstadt, Wudzog Open Air
02.08.2015 – DE Breitenbach, Burg Herzberg Festival

Siena Root is one of the most original bands in the European rock scene. The Swedish band is now releasing their fifth studio album, “Pioneers”. With over 25.000 albums sold and over four hundred packed shows performed, Siena Root is once again back from the studio with eight new tracks of pure root rock. The album is released 3th of November the Nordic Countrys, Belgium and Holland, Italy, Polen, Czech Rep, Ukraine and 7th of November in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

The record ”Pioneers” is characterized by a tasteful combination of genuine songwriting and captivating improvisations, enjoyable for anyone who wants music to be “well done”. In the spirit of keeping it real, all eight tracks are a hundred percent analog-produced, using all-vintage instruments and equipment. The music itself will remind listeners of the great rock era, yet putting a new perspective on the retrospect. Regardless if you like classic rock hits, trippy psychedelia or swinging blues, ”Pioneers” by Siena Root will be one of your favorite records!

Siena Root is well known for their variety of appearances, with many great guest artists, broad musical range and different interpretations of rock music. The various shapes of Siena Root over time can be heard on the previous albums, which each has its own unique line up.

Siena Root on Thee Facebooks

Siena Root website

Gaphals website

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Last Licks 2014: The Re-Stoned, Anthroprophh, Lavagoat, Ketch, Eternal Khan, Mount Carmel, Pocket Size, Zoltan, The Garza, Dot Legacy

Posted in Reviews on January 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Yesterday was pretty rough. Some excellent stuff in that batch of 10 discs, but man, by the end of it I don’t mind telling you I was dragging more than a bit of ass. I guess that’s to be expected. Still, I think that, as a project, this was worthwhile. There was a lot of stuff — too much — sitting around that was going to go undiscussed coming out of 2014, and now here we are, it’s the New Year, and I feel like at least a small percentage of what came my way got its due. Small victories.

So this is it. Reviews 41-50. After this, there isn’t much from 2014 that I’ll be looking back on; it’s mostly stuff to come, which is a different matter entirely. I’m sure we won’t be out of Jan. before I’m behind again in a major way, but what the hell, at least I’m trying, and at least there’s 50 discs that showed up on my desk that can be put on the shelf instead. Yes, it’s a very complex filing system. Ask me sometime and I’ll tell you all about it. Until then, let’s finish it like the final battle from Highlander. There can be only… 10… more…?

Okay maybe not.

Thanks for reading.

The Re-Stoned, Totems

the re-stoned totems

Helmed since 2008 by the multifaceted Ilya Lipkin, Moscow mostly-instrumentalists The Re-Stoned release their fourth album in the form of Totems on R.A.I.G., a 58-minute wide-breadth journey into heavy rock groove with touches of psychedelia, plotted jazz-jamming and a raw tonal sensibility. Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump contributes a noteworthy solo to “Old Times,” and along with bassist Alexander Romanov, Lipkin (who himself handles the artwork design, guitar, bass, shaman drum, jew’s harp, mandala and some voice work) employs a guest drummer, percussionist and didgeridoo player, so there’s a measure of variety to the proceedings, be it the jerky pauses in “Shaman” or the earlier effects-laden exploration of “Chakras.” “Old Times” has a bit of funk to it even before Stump’s arrival, and the acoustics of “Melting Stones,” which follows, border on cowboy Americana. They’ve never had the most vibrant production, but The Re-Stoned manage to convey a natural feel and confidence as they progress, the creative growth of Lipkin always at the center of what they do.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

R.A.I.G.

Anthroprophh, Outside the Circle

anthroprophh outside the circle

For his second album under the moniker Anthroprophh, guitarist/vocalist Paul Allen (also of The Heads) brings in a rhythm section to aid him in his time-to-get-really-weird purposes. Thus, bassist Gareth Turner and drummer Jesse Webb, who together form the duo Big Naturals, add to the strangeness of songs like “2013 and She Told Me I was Die” on Anthroprophh’s Outside the Circle, a 45-minute excursion into warped sensibilities and things meant to go awry. Songs are made to be broken, and that happens with drones, sudden shifts in atmosphere, some smooth transitions, some jagged, all designed to transport and ignite stagnation. It does not get any less bizarre as Outside the Circle moves toward its nine-minute title-track, but one doesn’t imagine Allen would have it any other way, and one wouldn’t have it any other way from him. I call a fair amount of music adventurous for deviating from the norm. Anthroprophh makes most of that sound silly in comparison with its buzzsaw guitar and raw experimental display.

Anthroprophh on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings

Lavagoat, Weird Menace

lavagoat weird menace

Saskatoon four-piece Lavagoat continue to challenge themselves even as they bludgeon eardrums. Their single-track CD EP, Weird Menace, pulls together six individual songs recorded mostly live in their rehearsal space with a purposeful drive toward rawness and a horror thematic. Sure enough, where their 2012 LP, Monoliths of Mars (review here) and 2010 self-titled debut (review here) offered increasing stylistic complexity, Weird Menace steps forward atmospherically by pulling back on the production value. Murky screams permeate “Ectoplasm” only to be immediately offset by the low growls and deathly groove of “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” presented as nasty as possible. There are still some touches of flourish in the guitar – one can’t completely cast off a creative development, even when trying really, really hard – but to call Weird Menace’s regressive experimentalism anything but a success would be undervaluing the turn they’ve made and how smoothly they’ve made it. Note: a follow-up LP, Ageless Nonsense (actually recorded earlier than this EP), has already been released.

Lavagoat on Thee Facebooks

Lavagoat on Bandcamp

Ketch, Ketch

ketch ketch

Limited to 50 CD copies and presented in an oversize sleeve, soon-to-be-picked-up-by-somebody Colorado five-piece Ketch’s self-titled debut demo/EP is death-doom brutal and doom-death grooving. Vocalist Zach Salmans and guitarist Clay Cushman (who also recorded) trade off growls and screams over plus-sized, malevolent riffs and guitarist Jeremy Winters, bassist Dave Borrusch and drummer David Csicsely (also of The Flight of Sleipnir) only add to the pummel, which hits a particularly vicious moment in the grueling second half of “Counting Sunsets,” a dirge of low growls giving way to churning, nodding despair. Beginning with 9:18 longest cut “Shimmering Lights” (immediate points), Ketch deliver a precision extremity that even on this initial offering makes its villainous intent plain with volume and overarching drear. The midsection stomp of “Chemical Despondency” and the gurgle in closer “13 Coils” affirm that Ketch have found their stylistic niche and are ready to begin developing their sound from it. One looks forward to the growth of this already maddening approach. Bonus points for no obvious Lovecraft references.

Ketch on Thee Facebooks

Ketch on Bandcamp

Eternal Khan, A Poisoned Psalm

eternal khan a poisoned psalm

Somewhere between death, black and doom metals, one finds Rhode Island three-piece Eternal Khan exploring cosmic, existential, literary and mythological themes on their self-released debut full-length, A Poisoned Psalm, the jewel case edition of which includes both lyrics and liner note explanations of each of its seven tracks. It’s an ambitious take from a trio who seem destined at some point to write a concept album – maybe based on Faust, maybe not – but the actual songs live up to the lofty presentation, be it the suitable gallop of “Raging Host,” despondent push of centerpiece “The Tower” or double-kick bleakness of “Void of Light and Reconciliation.” Guitarist/vocalist N. Wood, guitarist T. Phrathep and drummer D. Murphy mash their various styles well, but there’s room to grow here too, and I’d wonder how “The Black Stork” might work with an element of drone brought into the mix to add to the atmosphere and provide contrast to the various sides of Eternal Khan’s extremity. Even without, A Poisoned Psalm serves vigorous notice.

Eternal Khan on Thee Facebooks

Eternal Khan on Bandcamp

Mount Carmel, Get Pure

mount carmel get pure

Rife with ‘70s swagger and easy-rolling blues grooves, Get Pure is the third record from Columbus, Ohio trio Mount Carmel, and it goes down as smooth as one could ask, the guitar work of Matthew Reed, bass of his brother, Patrick Reed (since out of the band and replaced by Nick Tolford) and drums of James McCain meshing with a natural, classic power trio dynamic only furthered by the vocals, as laid back as Leaf Hound but with an underlying bluesiness on cuts like “One More Morning” and “No Pot to Piss.” At 11 tracks and a vinyl-minded 35 minutes, neither the album as a whole nor its component tracks overstay their welcome, and late pushers like “Hangin’ On” and “Fear Me Now” leave the listener wanting more while closer “Yeah You Mama” bookends with opener “Gold” in hey-baby-ism and irrefutable rhythmic swing. Comfortable in its mid-pace boogie, Get Pure offers a party vibe without being needlessly raucous, and its laid back mood becomes one of its greatest assets.

Mount Carmel on Thee Facebooks

Alive Naturalsound

Pocket Size, Exposed Undercurrents

pocket size exposed undercurrents

One could hardly accuse Stockholm classic proggers Pocket Size of living up to their name on Exposed Undercurrents, their second album. Even putting aside the expansive fullness of their sound itself, there are nine people in the lineup. It would have to be some pocket. The group is led by guitarist Peder Pedersen, whose own contributions are met by arrangements of saxophone, Hammond B-3, flute, theremin and so on as the 11 tracks of Exposed Undercurrents play off intricately-conceived purposes to engaging ends. One is reminded some of Hypnos 69’s takes on elder King Crimson, but Pocket Size have less of a heavy rock stylistic base and are more purely prog. A clean production – this is clearly a band that wants you to hear everything happening at any given moment – serves the 54-minute offering well, and though it’s by no means free of indulgence, Exposed Undercurrents is imaginative in both the paths it follows and those it creates, the joy of craftsmanship clearly at the core of its process.

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Pocket Size website

Zoltan, Sixty Minute Zoom

zoltan sixty minute zoom

Though it’s actually only about 41 minutes, I doubt if Zoltan’s Sixty Minute Zoom would benefit from the extra time in terms of getting its point across. The instrumental London trio of keyboardist Andy Thompson, bassist/keyboardist Matt Thompson and drummer/keyboardist Andrew Prestidge revel in ‘70s synth soundtrack stylizations. For good measure I’ll name-check Goblin as a central influence on “Uzumaki,” the second of Sixty Minute Zoom’s five inclusions, but John Carpenter’s clearly had a hand as well in brazenly cinematic texturing of synth and the late-‘70s/early-‘80s vibe. The various washes culminate in the side B-consuming 21-minute stretch of “The Integral,” which is broken into separate movements but flows smoothly between them, pulsations and drones interweaving for a classic atmosphere of tension and balance of the chemistry between the Thompsons and Prestidge and the progressive, immersive sound they create. Fans of earlier Zombi will find much to chew on, but Zoltan dive even further into soundtrack-style ambience. All that’s missing is Lori Cardille running down a dimly lit hallway.

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Cineploit Records

The Garza, The Garza

the garza the garza

Offered as a nine-track full-length plus a four-song bonus EP, the self-titled debut from Madison, Wisconsin’s The Garza meters out noise rock punishment with sludgy ferocity. A trio of notable pedigree – drummer/vocalist Magma (Bongzilla, Aquilonian), guitarist Shawn Blackler (Brainerd, Striking Irwin), and bassist Nate Bush (ex-Droids Attack, ex-Bongzilla) – they fluidly pull together post-hardcore elements and Crowbar-esque turns while retaining a core of punk rock. “Rage” is a solid example of this, but it’s true of just about all of the album proper, which largely holds to its approach, adding some melody to the seven-minute pre-bonus-tracks closer “Kingdoms End” and varying tempo here and there around its destructive central ideology. The four bonus tracks are of a similar mind as well, Magma switching up his vocals every now and then to add variety to proceedings that otherwise prove vehemently assured of their position. I’m not sure if the extra cuts help reinforce the album’s rawness or detract from the closer, but The Garza aren’t exactly light on impact either way.

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The Garza on Bandcamp

Dot Legacy, Dot Legacy

dot legacy dot legacy

Dot Legacy’s self-titled Setalight Records debut, particularly for a green-backed CD with vinyl-style grooves on front, is not nearly as stoned as one might think. The Parisian foursome of Damien Quintard (vocals/bass/recording), Arnaud Merckling (guitar/keys/vocals), John Defontaine (guitar/vocals) and Romain Mottier (drums/vocals) employ a broad range on the 46-minute album’s nine tracks, from the shoegaze post-rock of “The Passage” to the driving heavy psych of “Gorilla Train Station,” all the while holding firm to a creative reasoning geared toward individuality. If they wound up adopting “The Midnight Weirdos” as a nom de guerre, I wouldn’t be surprised, but in fact there’s little sense that at any point Dot Legacy aren’t in full command of where their material is headed. All the better for the surprising opening duo of “Kennedy” and “Think of a Name,” which shift between reverb-soaked meditation and vibrant, hook-laden heavy rock. A fascinating and original-ish debut that could be the start of something special. They should hit the festival circuit hard and not look back.

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Setalight Records

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Last Licks 2014: Nate Hall, Nocturnal Poisoning, Snailking, Godmaker, Void Generator, The Mound Builders, Mother Kasabian, Deep Space Destructors, Underdogs and Human Services

Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy to report that I survived the first day of this project. Spirits are good and I look at the stack of discs (plus one book; we’ll get there) in front of me and feel relatively confident that by the time I’m through it, my cerebral cortex will still manage to function in the limited way it usually does. If yesterday’s installment is anything to go by, however, I’ll be well out of adjectives by then. What’s another word for “heavy?”

There’s only one way to find out. These will be reviews 11-20 of the total 50. I don’t know if they say the first 10 are the hardest or the last, but I’ll be in the thick of it when this is posted and while I’m sure I probably could turn back and catch minimal if any flack for it — one “Hey wha happen?” on Thee Facebooks seems likely penance — better to just keep going. Another stack awaits tomorrow, after all.

Thanks in advance to anyone reading:

Nate Hall, Electric Vacuum Roar

nate hall electric vacuum roar

Electric Vacuum Roar is one of two Nate Hall physical releases from this fall. The U.S. Christmas frontman and solo performer also has a few digital odds and ends and Fear of Falling, on which he partners with a rhythm section. Released by Heart and Crossbone Records and Domestic Genocide, Electric Vacuum Roar is closer to a solo affair. Hall is joined by Caustic Resin’s Brett Netson on guitar/bass on two extended tracks: “Dance of the Prophet” (16:46) and “Long Howling Decline/People Fall Down” (11:57). The second part of the latter is a reinterpretation of a Caustic Resin song, though here it is droned out and put through a portal of drumless and inward-looking psychedelia, turned into the finale of a communicative and intimate affair. Amp noise and effects swirl around “Dance of the Prophet,” and it’s easy to get lost in it, but Hall maintains a steady presence of obscure vocals and the result is what tribal might be if tribes were comprised of one person.

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Heart and Crossbone Records

Nocturnal Poisoning, Doomgrass

nocturnal poisoning doomgrass

I’ve never tried to break up a one-man band, but I can’t imagine Scott Conner – who helped pave the way for US black metal under the moniker Malefic in Xasthur – has had an easy time of it since he put that band to bed in 2010. Nocturnal Poisoning, whose Doomgass arrives via The End Records, is an entirely different beast. Centered around layers folkish acoustic guitar, cleanly produced backed by occasional bass and tambourine, Doomgrass is still depressive at its core – Robert N. contributes guest vocals, almost gothic in style, to songs like “Starstruck by Garbage” and “Illusion of Worth” – but if the name is a portmanteau of doom and bluegrass, it fits the style. If anything ties Nocturnal Poisoning to Xasthur aside from Conner’s involvement, it’s a focus on atmosphere, but the two ultimately have little in common otherwise, and Nocturnal Poisoning’s exploratory feel is refreshingly individualized and leaves one wondering if Conner will be able to resist the full-band-sound impulse going forward.

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Doomgrass at The End Records

Snailking, Storm

snailking storm

Though they’re decidedly post-metal in their influences – Neurosis, YOB, obviously Ufomammut for whose record they are named – Sweden’s Snailking keep to heavy rock tones on their Consouling Sounds debut full-length, Storm, and that greatly bolsters the album’s personality. Even as they lumber, the riffs of 11-minute opener “To Wander” are fuzzed-out, and that remains true throughout the five mostly-extended cuts the trio of drummer Olle Svahn, bassist Frans Levin and guitarist/vocalist Pontus Ottosson present on their first record, which follows the 2012 demo, Samsara (review here). Centerpiece “Slithering” is the shortest and most churning of the bunch at 6:32, but the particularly YOBian “Requiem” underscores another value greatly working in Storm’s favor – the patience with which Snailking present the ambience of their pieces. That will serve them well as they continue to distinguish themselves from their forebears, but for now, Storm makes a welcome opening salvo from the three-piece highlighting both their potential and how far they’ve come already since the release of their demo.

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Consouling Sounds

Godmaker, Godmaker

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The self-titled debut from thoroughly-bearded Brooklynite four-piece Godmaker arrives via Aqualamb as an art-book and download, a full 96 pages of designs, lyrics to the four included tracks of the vinyl-ready 32-minute long-player, live shots from a variety of sources, bizarre geometry and odd etchings feeding the atmosphere of the songs themselves, somewhere between sludge, thrash and aggressive noise with scream-topped moments of doom like “Shallow Points.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalists Pete Ross and Chris Strait, bassist Andrew Archey and drummer Jon Lane, Godmaker fluidly shifts between the various styles at work in their sound, whether it’s the explosion at the end of “Shallow Points” or that beginning the rush of opener “Megalith,” and while their self-titled is a dense listen, with the surprising post-hardcore take of “Desk Murder” and the check-out-this-badass-riff-now-we’re-going-to-smash-your-face-with-it 11-minute metallic closer “Faded Glory,” it efficiently satisfies. More so after a couple listens front to back. If Godmaker were breaking your bones, it would be a clean break, and yes, that’s a compliment to their attack.

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Aqualamb

Void Generator, Supersound

void generator supersound

Supersound is the first full-length from Italian heavy psych rockers Void Generator since 2010’s Phantom Hell and Soar Angelic (review here), and where that album held three extended pieces, the latest and third overall breaks into smaller pieces. Some of those are extended – opener “Behind My Door” is 8:09 and “Master of the Skies” tops nine minutes – but the bulk of Supersound’s seven tracks is shorter works somewhere between desert rock and classic psych, guitarist Gianmarco Iantaffi leading the four-piece with a  more subdued vocal approach than last time out, compressed even in the rowdier verses of “What are You Doin’” (written by Sandro Chiesa), on which the keys of Enrico Cosimi feature heavily and add to the sound too crisp to be totally retro but still vehemently organic. Bassist Sonia Caporossi (also acoustic guitar on penultimate interlude “Universal Winter”) and drummer Marco Cenci hold together the fluid grooves as Void Generator follows these varied impulses, and Supersound proves cohesive and no less broadly scoped than its predecessor.

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Phonosphera Records

The Mound Builders, Wabash War Machine

the mound builders wabash war machine

There’s a version of The Mound Builders’ 17-minute Wabash War Machine EP from Failure Records and Tapes that includes a comic book, but even the regular sleeve CD edition gives a glimpse at the Lafayette, Indiana, five-piece’s heavy Southern metal push. The middle two of the four inclusions, “Sport of Crows” and “Bar Room Queen,” surfaced earlier this year on a split tape with Bo Jackson 5 (review here), but opener “Wabash War Machine” and the sludged-up closer “The Mound” on which the guitars of Brian Boszor and “Ninja” Nate Malher phase between channels and vocalist Jim Voelz delivers his harshest performance to date, are brand new, albeit recorded at the same sessions in July 2013. “Wabash War Machine” highlights the band’s blend of southern metal and heavy groove, guitar intricacy and a gang-shout chorus meeting thick rollout from bassist Robert Ryan Strawsma and drummer Jason “Dinger” Brookhart, but it’s the finale that’s the EP’s most lasting impression, as pummeling as The Mound Builders have gotten to date.

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Failure Records and Tapes

Mother Kasabian, Mother Kasabian

mother kasabian mother kasabian

In Olof’s buzzsaw guitar tone, the thud of Karl’s drums and Gidon’s abiding vocal menace, “Strike of the Emperor” gives notice of some Celtic Frost influence, but that’s hardly the whole tale when it comes Stockholm trio Mother Kasabian’s self-titled, self-released debut EP, as “The Black Satanic Witch of Saturn” immediately calls to mind The Doors in its minimal, spacious verse and offsets this with a soulful classic heavy rock chorus en route to the seven-minute “Close of Kaddish,” which works in a similar pattern – hitting notes of Trouble-style doom in its crescendos – and offers Mother Kasabian’s widest ranging moment ahead of the swaggering closer “The Return of the Mighty King and His Cosmic Elephants.” Swinging drums and variety in Gidon’s The Crazy World of Arthur Brown-style approach give the EP a distinguished feel despite raw production and it being Mother Kasabian’s first outing, and with the psych touches in the finale and a generally unhinged vibe throughout, the trio showcase considerable potential at work.

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Mother Kasabian on Bandcamp

Deep Space Destructors, III

deep space destructors iii

Active since 2011 and with two prior full-lengths – 2012’s I (review here) and 2013’s II (review here) – under their belt, Oulu, Finland, heavy psych trio Deep Space Destructors offer their definitive stylistic statement in the wash of III, a five-song/45-minute cosmic excursion with progressive krautrock edge (see “Spaceship Earth”) driven into heavier territory through dense fuzz in guitarist Petri Lassila’s tone and the chemistry between he, vocalist/bassist Jani Pitkänen and drummer Markus Pitkänen. Their extended but plotted jammy course finds culmination in the 15-minute penultimate cut “An Ode to Indifferent Universe,” – King Crimson and Floyd laced together by synth sounds – but the space-rock thrust of closer “Ikuinen Alku” highlights the multifaceted approach Deep Space Destructors have developed since their inception, consistently psychedelic but expansive. The sides gel effectively on “Cosmic Burial,” lending modern crash and tonal heft to classic ideals to craft something new from them in admirable form. As far out as they’ve gone, Deep Space Destructors still seem to be exploring new ground.

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Deep Space Destructors on Bandcamp

Underdogs, Underdogs

underdogs underdogs

Released as a cooperative production between Garage Records and Go Down Records, Italian trio Underdogs’ second, self-titled LP pushes further along the straight-lined course of heavy rock their 2007 debut, Ready to Burn, and 2011’s Revolution Love (review here) charted. Songs like “Nothing but the Best” strip away the Queens of the Stone Age-style fuzz of past outings in favor of a cleaner tone and overall feel, and while that spirit shows up later on side B’s “Called Play” and the rumbling grunge of “My Favourite Game” (a cover of The Cardigans), the prevailing vibe speaks to European commercial viability with clear hooks and straightforward structures. Acoustic finale “The Closing Song” offers a last-minute shift in style, calling to mind UnderdogsDogs without Plugs digital release, but even in more barebones form, the songwriting remains the focus on this mature third offering from a three-piece who’ve clearly figured out the direction in which they want to head and have set about developing an audience-friendly sound.

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Go Down Records

Human Services, Animal Fires

human services animal fires

Since they issued their self-titled debut (review here) in 2012, Virginia’s Human Services have brought aboard Steve Kerchner of Lord, and he brings as much a sense of chaos to Animal Fires as one might expect in teaming with Jeff Liscombe, Sean Sanford, Don Piffalo and Billy Kurilko, though the 59-minute full-length isn’t without its structure. Longer songs pair with concise noise experiments throughout the first 10 of the total 13 tracks, and each is different, so that even as the gap between songs is bridged, the stylistic basis for Animal Fires is branched out. The result is that by the time “Onyedinci Yil Sürüsü” closes out the album proper before the 17-minute live inclusion “No Structures in the Eye of the Jungle” hits, Human Services have reimagined the modus of Godflesh as an extremity of organic noisemaking, Southern heavy and eerie progressivism. Shades of Neurosis show up in centerpiece “Rats of a Feather,” but they too are twisted to suit the band’s creative purposes, threatening and engagingly bleak.

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Human Services on Bandcamp

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My Brother the Wind Premiere Video for “Song of Innocence”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

my brother the wind

On their third album, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, Swedish improv jammers My Brother the Wind present “Song of Innocence” as divided into two parts with a track break in between, the second piece emerging at a fairly upbeat clip — relative to some of the record’s more languid stretches, anyhow — from the first, no less a wash of echoes and tones, but moving more with a forward drum beat from Daniel Fridlund Brandt to propel the airy guitars of Nicklas Barker and Mathias Danielsson and match lockstep with Ronny Eriksson‘s bass. The transition is fluid — the whole album (review here) is like a river that carries you along its currents, some rough, some smooth — but there’s a clear break, and that’s true in the video as well.

The clip for “Song of Innocence” actually goes a long way toward explaining why the two pieces are broken up but given the same name. Footage for “Song of Innocence” was shot exactly as the material was being recorded, the version of “Song of Innoence” we hear My Brother the Wind tracking is the one that went to tape to wind up on Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, and though one jam comes to an end after about seven minutes in (we get a piece of what became “Prologue” as well at the start), the other picks right up without any real break in between. They’re two parts of the same moment captured on the recording, and thus, they’re presented together. It’s more honest to how the session actually took place, rather than name one part “Song of Innocence” and the other something else.

We get to see the room where My Brother the Wind — who also released a Live at Roadburn 2013 live record this year — made the album, their configuration all facing each other while they played, and get a sense of how they follow each other through the jams. And of course, there’s “Song of Innocence” itself, which with its lush and instrumental feel gives an excellent sense of what to expect from Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, driven by the chemistry between these players and the carefully woven interplay of the work they do.

“Song of Innocence” was Filmed by Eleni Liverakou Eriksson and Per Karlsson and edited by Patrik Roos. Please find the clip on the player below and enjoy:

My Brother the Wind, “Song of Innocence” official video

My Brother the Wind‘s Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One is out Oct. 14 on Free Electric Sound. Below, guitarists Nicklas Barker and Mathias Danielsson comment on the video:

Says Nicklas Barker:

“The video was recorded at the actual take of ‘Song of Innocence.’ We were happy that Eleni and Per were there during the recording and captured this for us very special song. As always, we record live onto an analog tape machine from 1969 with no overdubs and everything is improvised from scratch. The mixing was done the day after by us with some help from the great Love Tholin who is a big part of creating the sound of My Brother the Wind. I think it turned out great. Especially Mathias wonderful guitar solos and Daniel’s very unique drum playing. We are very happy with how the sound turned out on this one. The studio we record in is tricky since the sound in it differs from day to day. Probably because of all the vintage analog gear. The afternoon we recorded ‘Song of Innocence’ the tape machine, mixing console, tape echoes and plate reverbs were in perfect harmony.”

Says Mathias Danielsson:

“I wish that all of you could see what I experienced when recording this piece. Since the music is totally improvised we connect to each other on another plane. It’s hard to describe but I guess it’s almost astral. I have my eyes open but the sight isn’t the main sense I’m using while we’re playing, it’s the ears. But when concentrating so hard on what we create together I see wonderful colors and waves before my eyes. It’s almost like meditation. We connect to the core of the music and form it together with mindcraft. I’ve never before experienced it on this level with any band. Being unable to show you that, this video is the perfect visual to go with the music. This is the way it happened!”

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Free Electric Sound

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My Brother the Wind, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One: Gardens Growing

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

my-brother-the-wind-once-there-was-a-time-when-time-and-space-were-one

Lush and instrumental for its duration, My Brother the Wind‘s third full-length, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One (released by Free Electric Sound/Laser’s Edge), rolls out of the speakers much easier than its title rolls off the tongue, though both title and the work itself satisfy rhythmically. The Swedish four-piece — they now seem to be a bass-less trio with Nicklas Barker (Anekdoten) and Mathias Danielsson (Makajodama) on electric/acoustic 12-strong guitar and Daniel Fridlund Brandt on drums, but Ronny Eriksson plays bass on the album — reportedly recorded live to two-inch tape on a vintage machine, and the passion they put in bleeds readily into the nine-song/45-minute outing, fleshed with liberal splashes of Mellotron courtesy of Barker to play up a ’70s prog feel in a piece like the 12-minute “Garden of Delights.” That’s hardly the only point at which those sensibilities emerge, but even more than that, the primary vibe here is one of gorgeous heavy psych exploration, the band adventuring and feeling their way through the material as they go.

On peaceful moments like the title-track, which arrives as the penultimate movement before “Epilogue” leads the way back to reality — accordingly, “Prologue” brings us in at the start — that exploration is positively serene, the 12-string complemented by spacious electric tones spreading out across vast reaches, but Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One offers more than drone and psychedelic experiments. Subtly pushed forward by Brandt‘s drums, pieces like “Into the Cosmic Halo” and even “Epilogue” enact classic space rock thrust, and even “Song of Innocence Part 1,” the first part of the journey after the backward atmospherics of “Prologue” introduce, has some cosmic feel amid its echoing solos. Its subsequent complement, “Song of Innocence Part 2,” swells to life on an even more active roll, waves of amp noise up front while drums and bass groove out behind, waiting for the guitars to catch up, which they do in a suitably glorious payoff, relatively brief but masterfully engaging, setting a momentum that continues well into “Garden of Delights,” a focal point for more than its length.

my-brother-the-wind-(Photo-by-Eleni-Liverakou-Eriksson)

Because the songs flow so well one to the next, some directly bleeding, others giving a brief pause, and because later cuts like “Thomas Mera Gartz” — named in honor of the drummer for ’70s Swedish proggers Träd, Gräs och Stenar — and the title-track have a quieter take, it’s tempting to read some narrative into the shifts of Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, but with the material not being premeditated, I’m not sure that’s the intention so much as a signal it’s well arranged. In any case, the album offers an immersive, resonant listen, with tonal richness to spare and the presence of mind to keep a sense of motion even in its stillest parts and a balance of organic elements — Danielsson‘s recorder and Brandt‘s percussion on “Misty Mountainside,” the 12-string, etc. — amid a wash of effects and swirling psychedelia. This attention to sonic detail makes Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One more than just a collection of jams, and adds further purpose to the already worthy cause of My Brother the Wind‘s thoughtful musings, wandering and not at all lost.

My Brother the Wind, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One album trailer

My Brother the Wind on Thee Facebooks

My Brother the Wind at Laser’s Edge Group webstore

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