Review & Full Album Premiere: Stoned Jesus, Pilgrims

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

STONED JESUS PILGRIMS

[Click play above to stream Stoned Jesus’ Pilgrims in its entirety. Album is out Sept. 7 on Napalm Records.]

One thing about pilgrims: they travel. Ukrainian heavy rock ambassadors Stoned Jesus have done plenty likewise since the release of their third LP, 2015’s The Harvest (review here), as as they’ve stated their fourth and latest album, which is also their debut on Napalm Records, is inspired at least in part by their significant time spent touring, calling it Pilgrims only makes all the more sense. The Kiev-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Igor Sidorenko, bassist Serhij Sljussar and drummer Dmytro Zinchenko continue the band’s penchant for willful growth across the seven tracks/50 minutes, and as Stoned Jesus have always to this point managed to progress their sound from one outing to the next, sometimes in multiple directions, Pilgrims most certainly keeps that streak alive.

With a kick of an opening in “Excited” that speaks directly to the theme of playing live — the song feels penned to open sets — the album fleshes outward along noise rocking chug in “Thessalia,” Mellotron-caked Mike Pattonism in “Distant Light,” post-rocking airiness in the guitar and grunge underpinnings built to a weighted push in the nine-minute centerpiece “Feel” — which would also seem to be about touring life and the peculiar isolation thereof — and so on. This moves them into the back end as “Hands Resist Him” (video premiere here) adds melody to the noisy impulse of “Thessalia” and finds Sidorenko in particular command of his vocals, the lumbering riffage of “Water Me,” which is the longest inclusion at 9:30 and turns in its seventh minute to a fervent drive that leaves its central riff and seemingly the stratosphere behind, and the deceptively uptempo closer “Apathy,” which features a tense and swinging bassline at its core around which the guitar enacts a build into a midsection payoff before pulling back to open spaces to revive the repetitions of the hook that seem to be the only lyrics.

Impressively, they cover all this ground with a sense of flow from front-to-back. One couldn’t help but wonder if coming into PilgrimsStoned Jesus wouldn’t be affected by the large amount of touring they did in 2017 playing 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here) in its entirety, if that album’s heavy psychedelic sprawl and fullness of tone wouldn’t bleed once again into their sound. Largely, it doesn’t. One could argue some of the spaciousness in Sidorenko‘s guitar in a longer cut like “Feel” is a commonality, but even that is a stretch, and his work in these songs alongside Slussar and Zinchenko — the latter making his first appearance with the band — carries a greater sense of urgency, even unto “Apathy,” which despite its disaffected title refuses to be pigeonholed in terms of style. What ties the tracks together, then, is the confidence in Stoned Jesus‘ delivery and the sheer sense of performance they bring to them. The band debuted in 2010 with First Communion, so they’re not a decade on from that, and yet Pilgrims finds them sounding like veterans; not exhausted, but sure of their approach and what they want their material to convey.

STONED JESUS

Their confidence — born in no small part, of course, from their time on stage — allows them to smoothly shift between stylistic elements as they do between “Excited” and “Thessalia,” or “Hands Resist Him” and the conceptual-feeling “Water Me,” and still carry the audience’s attention as well. That is, Pilgrims doesn’t embark on its progressive journey at the expense of engaging the listener. Indeed, “Excited” bleeds out its energy through the speaker as it careens into its second half, and while “Distant Light” is more patient in its delivery and touches on psychedelic atmospherics, in Zinchenko‘s drums there’s still that central current of gotta-go that even the Mellotron doesn’t want to chill all the way out. That this follows the bruiser riffing of “Thessalia” and that it leads to the extended “Feel,” with its storytelling lyrics early setting up a swirling payoff toward the end, epitomizes the broad scope Stoned Jesus feel comfortable enacting with their songwriting and the unifying coherence thereof. Pilgrims wouldn’t function if it weren’t well constructed. And that doesn’t always mean it pairs verses with catchy choruses, choruses with bridges, etc.

It means that its shifts make sense within its own context and, while songs like “Hands Resist Him” and “Distant Light” might not beat the audience over the head with their hooks — wouldn’t really be fair to say the same of “Apathy,” which, again, relies on the same lines repeated throughout — they are memorable nonetheless. That’s all the more to the credit of Stoned Jesus‘ craft, and that they so carefully balance their own need for creative growth with that is further demonstration of the crucial experience the last several years have wrought in their style. Make no mistake, Pilgrims is an album in the sense of conveying an expressive sensibility across its span and in terms of the basic sound of its production, but it’s also a collection of quality songs, each seeming to have its own standout moment or aspect to distinguish it from what surrounds. That was true of The Harvest as well, but the vibe on Pilgrims is more fluid, less angular, in its transitions and the difference is palpable when taking on the record as a whole.

If anything, Pilgrims makes it clear that Stoned Jesus haven’t misspent the last several years. Especially as their first offering with the wider reach of Napalm behind it, the album benefits on every level — theme, craft, delivery — from the road-time the band undertook. There’s a sense of arrival about it, especially as it seems to balance various sonic elements from their past work while making something new from that combination, but the fact of the three-piece remains that they’ve never put out the same record twice and that one of the greatest strengths in what they do is its purposeful individualism. Stoned Jesus do not want to be confined by style or expectation or, seemingly, any other standard one might apply. The creative journey on which they’ve embarked is one that leads them forward ever closer to the heart of their own sound. However, that too is a moving target — and not just in the time-for-the-next-gig sense — and one carries little doubt Stoned Jesus‘ next long-player will leave Pilgrims to its moment, which is now. It is to be enjoyed while it lasts.

Stoned Jesus, “Hands Resist Him” official video

Stoned Jesus on Twitter

Stoned Jesus on Thee Facebooks

Stoned Jesus on Instagram

Napalm Records website

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Stoned Jesus Premiere “Hands Resist Him” Video; European Tour Impending

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

STONED JESUS

 

Stoned Jesus will release their fourth album, Pilgrims, on Sept. 7 as their first offering through Napalm Records. That in itself makes it a pretty pivotal moment for the Ukrainian heavy rock forerunners, but the big question going into the record is exactly where it will find the band following 2015’s The Harvest (review here) since they more or less spent the last year digging back to celebrate the fifth anniversary of YouTube’s favorite heavy rock record, their sophomore LP, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here). They toured playing that record in full, and with such a sharp sonic divide between its warm and stonerly tones and the sharper edges of The Harvest, I’ve been genuinely curious to find out exactly what kind of pilgrimage Stoned Jesus are going on with the new collection.

We get a first hint in the trio’s new video for the song “Hands Resist Him.” Amid the most resonant melodies I’ve yet heard from Stoned Jesus, they do indeed dig into a depth of tone that the last album seemed to eschew, but there’s a turn around the 4:30 mark to speedier riffing that finds guitarist/vocalist Igor Sidorenko, bassist Serhij Sljussar and drummer Dmytro Zinchenko pushing into an almost punkish rhythm, so it’s not as if the aesthetic growth brought to bear in The Harvest has been ignored or cast off. It’s there too. The question that remains is how much “Hands Resist Him” speaks for the rest of Pilgrims, and knowing Stoned Jesus‘ sneakily progressive bent as it’s emerged in their sound over time, I’d guess that there’s probably more to the new record than they’re letting on. They’re not the types to give away all the answers outright. They want their listeners to do some digging.

And no doubt there will be plenty to dig when the album arrives, since Stoned Jesus have always been songwriters first and foremost even as their style has proved so malleable over the course of the eight years since they made their debut with 2010’s First Communion. Following a hometown release show on Sept. 7 in Kiev, the band will be heading out on a Sound of Liberation-presented tour alongside Texas troublemakers Mothership and UK tone rollers Elephant Tree that runs for just over three weeks across a swath of Europe. Like Pilgrims itself, it’s an important tour since it will be Stoned Jesus in the headlining spot with support from two also-killer bands, and another pivotal step-up moment for them as they continue to live up to the potential they’ve shown in their work all along.

I’m thrilled today to host the premiere of the “Hands Resist Him” video, which surely stretched Napalm‘s budget as regards the fog machine. You’ll find the clip below, followed by a quick quote from Sidorenko and the tour dates, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Stoned Jesus, “Hands Resist Him” official video premiere

Igor Sidorenko on “Hands Resist Him”:

I guess this track is a perfect example of the changes I’m going through as a songwriter and Stoned Jesus is going through as a band. It’s dark, heavy and intense, but it’s a great song first and foremost.

On September 7th STONED JESUS will deliver their next solid slab of progressive stoner rock on Napalm Records: Pilgrims.

With their fourth album the Ukrainian trio offers much more than an average desert session: Pilgrims is a rather multi-faceted affair mixing groove with noise rock elements, lots of proggy infusions and maybe even a sick bass line reminiscent of good old Deftones (“Thessalia”). Giants such as Mastodon and Melvins come to mind since STONED JESUS can’t be pigeonholed.

stoned jesus mothership elephant tree tourStoned Jesus tour dates:
14.07.18 SP – Viveiro / Resurrection Fest
27.07.18 DE – Neuensee / Rock im Wald
02.08.18 GR – Almiros / Los Almiros
19.08.18 FR – Saint-Nolff / Motocultor
02.09.18 GR – Thessaloniki / Street Mode

Stoned Jesus w/ Mothership & Elephant Tree
07.09.18 UA – Kyiv / Bingo Club (Stoned Jesus only)
13.09.18 DE – Wiesbaden / Schlachthof
14.09.18 DE – Stuttgart / JH Hallschlag
15.09.18 CH – Pratteln / Z 7
17.09.18 DE – Munich / Feierwerk
18.09.18 AT – Graz / PPC
19.09.18 AT – Vienna / Arena
20.09.18 DE – Leipzig / Werk 2
21.09.18 DE – Berlin / Bi Nuu
22.09.18 NL – Nijmegen / Doornroosje
23.09.18 NL – Amsterdam / Melkweg
24.09.18 DE – Köln / Helios 37
25.09.18 DE – Bielefeld / Forum
26.09.18 BE – Brussels / Magasin 4
27.09.18 FR – Paris / Petit Bain
28.09.18 UK – London /The Garage
29.09.18 UK – Sheffield / Doom vs Stoner Festival
12.10.18 UA – Lviv / FESTrepublic
19.10.18 UA – Kharkiv / ART AREA DK
20.10.18 UA – Dnipro / Makhno Pub

Line-up:
Ihor Sydorenko – Vocals & Guitars
Serhij Sljussar – Bass
Dmytro Zinchenko – Drums

Stoned Jesus on Twitter

Stoned Jesus on Thee Facebooks

Stoned Jesus on Instagram

Napalm Records website

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Stoned Jesus Set Sept. 7 Release for Pilgrims

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

STONED JESUS

I haven’t been fortunate enough yet to have heard Stoned Jesus‘ upcoming fourth album and Napalm Records debut, Pilgrims, but I think it’s fair to say that through the circumstances of its arrival and through the massive amounts of touring the Kiev trio have done to lead up to it, it’s relatively safe to call them the forerunners of the Ukrainian heavy underground. That a label with the profile of Napalm would take a shot on them is telling, but as they move into the cycle for Pilgrims, I’m more interested to hear how the three-piece will follow-up 2015’s The Harvest (review here).

That record found Stoned Jesus departing the comforting and riffy confines of its predecessor, 2012’s done-gone-viral Seven Thunders Roar (review here), but then last year, they spent several tours playing that album in its entirety. Will that have an influence on the overarching impression Pilgrims makes? Hell if I know, but Stoned Jesus haven’t put out a long-player yet that didn’t push their sound forward, so it’ll be interesting to find out.

They’re on tour in Sept. in Europe with Mothership and Elephant Tree. Info comes care of the PR wire:

STONED JESUS PILGRIMS

STONED JESUS Announce New Album Details!

Watch Out for Pilgrims This September!

On September 7th STONED JESUS will deliver their next solid slab of progressive stoner rock on Napalm Records: Pilgrims.

With their fourth album the Ukrainian trio offers much more than an average desert session: Pilgrims is a rather multi-faceted affair mixing groove with noise rock elements, lots of proggy infusions and maybe even a sick bass line reminiscent of good old Deftones (“Thessalia”). Giants such as Mastodon and Melvins come to mind since STONED JESUS can’t be pigeonholed.

The band comments on the new album:

“This record was inspired by our relentless touring and the feelings you get – or more precisely you lose – because of it. It’s weird how disconnected one becomes when constantly surrounded by people. Musically it’s pretty different from what we’ve done, it’s more song-oriented but simultaneously more challenging than before – sonically and structurally”

The full track listing of Pilgrims reads as follows:
1. Excited
2. Thessalia
3. Distant Light
4. Feel
5. Hands Resist Him
6. Water Me
7. Apathy

Pilgrims will be available in the following formats:
-1 LTD Edition 4 Page Digipack
-Various LP Gatefolds (different colours)
-Digital Album

Pre-Orders will be available shortly, keep your eyes open!

Tour Dates:
STONED JESUS
14.07.18 SP – Viveiro / Resurrection Fest
27.07.18 DE – Neuensee / Rock im Wald
02.08.18 GR – Almiros / Los Almiros Festival
19.08.18 FR – Saint-Nolff / Motocultor Festival
02.09.18 GR – Thessaloniki / Street Mode Festival

07.09.18 UA – Kyiv / Bingo Club
13.09.18 DE – Wiesbaden / Schlachthof
14.09.18 DE – Stuttgart / JH Hallschlag
15.09.18 CH – Pratteln / Z 7
17.09.18 DE – Munich / Feierwerk
18.09.18 AT – Graz / PPC
19.09.18 AT – Vienna / Arena
20.09.18 DE – Leipzig / Werk 2
21.09.18 DE – Berlin / Bi Nuu
22.09.18 NL – Nijmegen / Doornroosje
23.09.18 NL – Amsterdam / Melkweg
24.09.18 DE – Köln / Helios 37
25.09.18 DE – Bielefeld / Forum
26.09.18 BE – Brussels / Magasin 4
27.09.18 FR – Paris / Petit Bain
28.09.18 UK – London /The Garage
29.09.18 UK – Sheffield / Doom vs Stoner Festival
12.10.18 UA – Lviv / FESTrepublic
19.10.18 UA – Kharkiv / ART AREA DK
20.10.18 UA – Dnipro / Makhno Pub

Line-up:
Ihor Sydorenko – Vocals & Guitars
Serhij Sljussar – Bass
Dmytro Zinchenko – Drums

https://twitter.com/stonedjesusband
https://www.facebook.com/stonedjesusband
https://www.instagram.com/stonedjesusband/
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Stoned Jesus in the studio

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Stoned Jesus, Mothership & Elephant Tree Announce September Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Holy rat farts that’s a good tour. You’ve got Stoned Jesus, fresh off a year celebrating their 2012 sophomore album Seven Thunders Roar and itching to promote their new album, teaming up with Texas’ Mothership, who by then should be road-testing new material for their next record, and Elephant Tree, who’ll have a new album in the hopper if not already out by the time the tour starts. Three absolutely killer bands, all fired up and ready to bring their best to the assembled masses. It’s an easy one to get excited about, you know, if you like things that are awesome.

The run is presented by Sound of Liberation, who in addition to umpteen festivals throughout the Spring and Fall seasons, specialize in precisely this kind of righteousness. Still, I didn’t see this one coming.

It was announced thusly:

stoned jesus mothership elephant tree tour

We are thrilled to unveil today the dates for an incredible 3-band package taking over European clubs in September!

Featuring the Ukrainian much-loved trio Stoned Jesus (working on a new album to be released by Napalm Records in September), along with Texas live-beasts Mothership (who will promote their last-year highly-acclaimed album “High Strangeness”) and Uk-based doom-explorers Elephant Tree (also sharping up some new tunes for an upcoming album), we believe this bill has the potential to rock your nights!

This will happen from September 13th to 29th in the best European dens. Get in touch with your local rock dealer to get your ticket quick!

13.09.18 | DE | Wiesbaden | Schlachthof
14.09.18 | DE | Stuttgart | JH Hallschlag
15.09.18 | CH | Pratteln | Z7 (Up In Smoke Warm-Up)
16.09.18 | CH | TBA
17.09.18 | DE | Munich | Feierwerk
18.09.18 | AT | Graz | PPC
19.09.18 | AT | Vienna | Arena
20.09.18 | DE | Leipzig | Werk 2
21.09.18 | DE | Berlin | Bi Nuu
22.09.18 | NL | Nijmegen | Doornroosje
23.09.18 | NL | Amsterdam | Melkweg
24.09.18 | DE | Cologne | Helios 37
25.09.18 | DE | Bielefeld | Forum
26.09.18 | DE | Brussels | Magasin 4
27.09.18 | FR | Paris | Petit Bain
28.09.18 | UK | London | The Garage
29.09.18 | UK | Sheffield | Doom vs Stoner Fest*
(* Stoned Jesus & Elephant Tree only)

www.soundofliberation.com
https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/
https://twitter.com/sol_ug

Stoned Jesus, “I’m the Mountain” live in 2017

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Stoned Jesus Sign to Napalm Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

And well fucking earned, I should say. Aside from being the internet’s favorite heavy rock band thanks in no small part to the ongoing proliferation of their 2012 album, Seven Thunders Roar (review here), on YouTube — the clip at the bottom of this post for “I’m the Mountain” has over 8.4 million views — Kiev trio Stoned Jesus have spent the better part of the last several years touring their collective ass off in support of their increasingly progressive output, which draws with equal comfort from punk, heavy rock and metal and creates something of its own from them. Yeah, they have a silly name, but they have done and continue to do important work aesthetically and their ongoing development has made them thrillingly unpredictable.

Accordingly, I have no idea what might be in store for Stoned Jesus‘ fourth album, which will be out later this year as the follow-up to 2015’s The Harvest (review here) and their debut for Napalm. Whatever may come, though, you can count on two things: It will be their own, and they will tour it hard for the next 12 months-plus. Because that’s what they do. And look where it got them.

So once again, well fucking earned.

The PR wire makes it official:

stoned jesus

STONED JESUS SIGNS WITH NAPALM RECORDS!

Napalm Records is proud to welcome a new band to their artist roster: Heavy rock trio STONED JESUS have just signed a worldwide deal with the Austrian powerhouse label!

Founded back in 2009 in Kyiv, STONED JESUS have released three highly acclaimed records to date and toured almost all around the globe.

Says guitarist Igor Sydorenko:
“We’re delighted to announce that Stoned Jesus is signing with Napalm Records, one of the biggest and oldest rock/metal labels on the planet! By joining the likes of My Sleeping Karma, Greenleaf, Monster Magnet, Alter Bridge, Powerwolf, Moonspell and many other well-established bands in Napalm’s eclectic roster, we’re getting ready to start the new page in Stoned Jesus’ testament.”

Napalm Records A&R Sebastian Muench comments:
“We are absolutely happy and thrilled to finally anounce the signing of STONED JESUS. In the last couple years I was able to witness STONED JESUS live many times at various Up In Smoke and Desertfest events. The Ukrainian band perfect blend of Stoner, Psych and Prog is absolutely brilliant and we expect nothing less than another masterpiece of a release in 2018. Stoned Jesus, welcome to the family and I hope you feel confortable among your band mates of Greenleaf, My Sleeping Karma, Monster Magnet or Monkey3.”

With their powerful mix of Psych, Stoner, Progressive Rock and Doom, STONED JESUS manage to always create a finest fusion of the heavy but yet still melodic sounds. Emotional lyrics meet a heavy wall of tunes, especially live the band already left their huge stamp in the international stoner rock scene and beyond. And even if you haven’t heard their albums, you probably know “I’m the Mountain” – one of the most popular songs of the genre.

While the band is currently working on their fourth full length record, set to be released with Napalm Records later this year, STONED JESUS will be heavily hitting the road again in 2018!

Make sure to catch them live on the following dates:

04.04.18 PL – Warsaw / Klub Proxima
05.04.18 PL – Gdynia / Klub Muzyczny Ucho
06.04.18 PL – Poznan / tba
07.04.18 PL – Wroclaw / Klub Firley
08.04.18 PL – Krakow / Zet Pe Te
10.05.18 RO – Cluj Napoca / Soundart Festival
11.05.18 RO – Bucharest / Soundart Festival
12.05.18 RO – Timisoara / Soundart Festival
13.05.18 BG – Sofia / Mixtape 5
15.05.18 BA – Sarajevo / Underground Club
16.05.18 HR – Zagreb / Vintage Industrial Bar
17.05.18 SRB – Belgrade / Bozidarac
18.05.18 HUN – Pecs / Pecsi Est
19.05.18 RO – Satu Mare / Gravel Room
20.05.18 RO – Lasi / Rock N Iasi Open Air
14.07.18 ES – Estrella Galicia / Resurrection Fest
27.07.18 DE – Neuensee / Rock Im Wald
02.09.18 GR – Thessaloniki / Street Mode Festival
29.09.18 UK – Sheffield / HRH Doom vs Stoner Festival

www.facebook.com/pg/stonedjesusband
www.instagram.com/stonedjesusband
www.twitter.com/stonedjesusband
www.stonedjesus.bandcamp.com
www.napalmrecords.com

Stoned Jesus, “I’m the Mountain”

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Six Dumb Questions with Stoned Jesus

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on June 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stoned jesus

Over the next couple months, Ukrainian heavy rockers Stoned Jesus will tour as they have been since earlier this year celebrating the fifth anniversary of their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here). In August, they’ll head back to South America for shows presented by Abraxas, and upon their return to Europe for the Fall, they’ve already been confirmed to take part in Up in Smoke 2017, Desertfest Athens 2017 and Desertfest Belgium 2017 as part of a tour with support from Beastmaker — all as Stoned Jesus make ready to move past their 2015 third full-length, The Harvest (review here), and work on a follow-up fourth outing. There’s nothing quite like keeping busy.

It’s pretty clearly been a process for Stoned Jesus guitarist/vocalist Igor Sidorenko coming to terms with the lasting impact of Seven Thunders Roar in the months since he discovered the album’s massive playcounts on YouTube and began to hear from those affected by the record, but the response to playing it live and the swell of bookings for them to do so seem only to have bolstered his appreciation for the way it has steadily resonated, spreading through internet word-of-mouth where so many other releases have lived and died by all too quick album and touring cycles. It is a rare thing, after all, to create something that appreciates with time, even if it’s only been five years so far.

As to what it is about Seven Thunders Roar that’s let it do that, Sidorenko is poses an interesting theory that it’s nearly as much about the time and place as about the album itself. Maybe the record hit with just the right trippy, heavy vibe at just the right generational moment, with just the right kind of striking cover art to look perfect in a YouTube recommendation window. A confluence of factors, rather than any single, individual thing, song, or riff.

Either way, Stoned Jesus — which is Sidorenko, drummer Viktor Kondratov and bassist Sergii Sliusar — must and will press forward as a group, and even as they honor one release from the past, they’re keeping an eye on another for the future, which Sidorenko refers to in the Q&A below as “#StJFourthLP.” The guitarist talks about that coming album, giving Seven Thunders Roar the touring attention it didn’t get the first time around, and more.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

stoned jesus tour dates

Six Dumb Questions with Stoned Jesus

Tell me about the continued impact of Seven Thunders Roar. What do you think it is that allowed that album to resonate so much with a YouTube audience, and how does it make you feel when you see those numbers?

Well, I discovered our YouTube fame about nine months ago, and as we speak “I’m the Mountain” hits 6,000,000 views mark! But way before that I’d seen those comments online, be it YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or numerous blogs and forums, that Seven Thunders Roar was someone’s first entry to psychedelic/stoner music… Every week I’m reading yet another revelation on how influential and important this record was for someone, either on StJ’s email account or friends share these posts with me or I even see those in my personal inbox. Of course I was flabbergasted the first time(s), but now I kinda see the bigger picture.

That is, Seven Thunders Roar might be the genre’s last great album – pardon my immodesty – along with Elder’s Lore, Samsara [Blues Experiment]’s Long Distance Trip and Mars Red Sky’s debut. These are the 100 percent DIY bands, with no major label backing, no heavy promotion, earning everything they have through hard work, charisma, talent and relentless touring.

Another fun fact is these bands are YOUNG, and they speak to a younger audience. I personally discovered stoner rock/metal through recommendations on a music forum — I haven’t seen Kyuss opening for Metallica, I haven’t seen Queens of the Stone Age or Clutch videos, I haven’t seen Electric Wizard shows back when they were a three-piece… You know what I mean? And when this younger, internet-friendly audience stumbles upon a more fresh-sounding, better version of the music their dads used to groove to, they might prefer it to the leather-and-flares revivalists’ muzak – which mainstream media calls “psychedelic rock” these days. We are the youngsters’ band, and I’m proud to admit that!

Five years out from making the record, how has its long-term reception changed how you feel about the album? How has the reception been to playing it live in its entirety this year?

It’s funny but we’d never felt the pressure of coming up with a follow-up to Seven Thunders Roar – until we made The Harvest, which was a significant departure from that sound, that style. It’s a natural process for me as a writer and the whole band as a creative unit to go somewhere else – that’s why it takes two-three years for us to come up with the next album. Of course we just could release a bunch of forgettable records in between the really good ones, but hey, there are million bands that do exactly this, so why should we, haha.

So when we decided to sort of look back and announced that we’re dedicating a few months of 2017 to playing Seven Thunders Roar in its entirety live, we never thought how many show requests we would get in the end! Basically our whole 2017 touring-wise is this “Five Thunders Roar Tour” now. And yes, I know how silly that sounds – what, a fifth anniversary? Couldn’t you guys wait for at least five years more? – but we played 14 shows in Europe in 2012, so virtually nobody heard the album LIVE back then. Now we’re headlining three-times-bigger venues packed with enthusiastic crowds, and we’ll have like 50 more shows this year after 25 already played. I think Seven Thunders Roar deserves this, 100 percent.

You moved forward with The Harvest and changed your sound again. What was it like making that record and how purposeful were the shifts in style coming off of Seven Thunders Roar? As you look to follow-up The Harvest, what direction to you see the new material heading in?

I’d say we’re trying to keep the balance between a purposeful shift and a natural one. The main influence for #StJFourthLP is our constant touring and the feelings you get (or more specifically, you lose) out of it. I mean we had almost a hundred shows in 2016 alone, and I’m the guy who does all the overseas logistics (with all due respect to local promoters efforts, of course) and some booking, manages merch and touring routine, SMMs the shit out of our social media profiles and sometimes plays guitar and writes these sweet-sweet songs. So yours truly is not a stranger to words like “exhaustion” or “burning out.”

But there’s also the struggle all of us face like trying to balance our personal lives with the life on the road. It’s basically this “John Rambo returning from Vietnam” kind of situation – you just don’t know anymore where’s real life. It messes with your head, hard. So this all is reflected in the lyrics, sometimes literally, sometimes more metaphorically. This is gonna be a pretty dark and intense record, I must say.

Musically…oh where should I even begin? First of all we’re really tired of guitar-oriented music, sharing the stage with genre bands all these years. I’m not saying we’re going electro but I seriously doubt a meat-and-potatoes stoner fan would adore #StJFourthLP. But on a brighter side, Elder’s experimental Lore was the biggest thing in the genre two years ago, so what do I know, right? Second, I was more focusing on rhythms than melodies this time around, so it’s gonna be pretty different to what we’ve done previously – think more Killing Joke, Swans or Can than Sabbath, Tool or Clutch. It’s like we’re skipping two or three albums of a gradual progression in between our actual albums, haha!

I was mostly listening to ‘70s prog and kraut, ‘80s noise rock/industrial/no wave stuff and ‘90s hip-hop and post-hardcore last year, but I’m not sure one would hear those things in #StJFourthLP. They could’ve influenced the way I’m thinking as a musician, but not the actual songs. Okay, maybe there’s an At the Drive-In riff or two, but everything else is pure Stoned Jesus version 4.0!

Will acknowledging the five-year anniversary of Seven Thunders Roar factor into the sound of the next record at all? Will that album be an influence, and is there a way to balance that with continuing to try new things?

Absolutely. When we were rehearsing the whole thing last Autumn, I couldn’t help but notice the way it flows, the tracks’ structures, the songs themselves… This is something that was missing with The Harvest — the Song. I mean there are complex pieces on Seven Thunders Roar too — “Electric Mistress,” obviously “I’m the Mountain” — but they don’t sound forced or overthought. So the new album is seven songs, 50-52 minutes long, but there’s not a single piece longer than 10 minutes. Actually Sergei made me throw away one section of a song to make it flow naturally!

Another thing is the way I’m working on the lyrics this time around. I’m accustomed to mumbling some gibberish while practicing the would-be song with a band and only THEN writing a set of lyrics. But for a non-English speaker it’s usually the ONLY way. So I decided I’ll be using what I’m singing during rehearsals, because this is how you figure what syllables and sounds you feel like singing at the moment. I mean it’s really hard to sing “oooh” for six months only to change it to “yeaaah” on the record – you’ll be struggling to drop this bloody “oooh” later anyway. So I’m kinda building my lyrics around the noise that I create with my throat when practicing these new songs with the band.

And finally, we’re less angry than we were three years ago, making The Harvest. Ukraine is still fucked due to 2014’s Russian invasion, but this is not the focus for our new record – unfortunately it has become something of a career-starting reference for many local pop and rock stars, and we don’t want any of that. So #StJFourthLP is not the occult haze of First Communion, the psychedelic bliss of Seven Thunders Roar or the metallic stomp of The Harvest — more like post-touring depression mixed with misanthropic apathy.

When will you hit the studio to record? What will the process be this time around?

See, the main problem with The Harvest was inconsistency, incoherence even. The album was a bold step for our band in many terms, but the material itself was too eclectic to sit together on the same piece of vinyl. I for one admire experimentation, but there were three alternative rock songs, two doom metal dirges and a prog metal epic (!). Three songs were written in 2012, one in 2014, and the other two songs date back to 2010, I mean c’mon! I’m not trying to write The Harvest off or something, I just want to say that there was this one thing that kept the album together – the anger, reflected in this heavier, cleaner sound… which was also an issue of sorts for some people. And finally, The Harvest took us 15 months (!) to record, because back then we were touring while also having day jobs and whatnot.

So now everything’s gonna be different because, first: we got all the songs well-rehearsed and we’re ready to get the record done in a matter of weeks, not YEARS. Second, all the songs were written around early 2015/late 2016, and musically they’re more or less on the same page BUT without being identical. I don’t really like those bands with indistinguishable tracks… and albums, too. Embrace the change!

You’re doing South America again and Desertfest Belgium and Athens and Up in Smoke this Fall already. Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I just feel extremely humbled to be able to do what I do, to have these crazy guys as my bandmates, to see those wonderful people under the stage and to exchange energy with them every night when we’re on tour, to share our experiences with the whole world. Long it may last! A huge thanks to you all.

Stoned Jesus, Seven Thunders Roar (2012)

Stoned Jesus, The Harvest (2015)

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Stoned Jesus on Instagram

Stoned Jesus on Twitter

Stoned Jesus on Bandcamp

Stoned Jesus on YouTube

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Keep it Low 2017: Colour Haze, Belzebong, The Necromancers and A Great River in the Sky Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

keep it low 2017 banner

I was kind of wondering if the Munich-based Keep it Low festival would add Colour Haze for Keep it Low 2017. The long-running German heavy psych progenitors have played multiple editions of the event and have kind of become a staple of the lineup, so to see them added as they support their new album, In Her Garden (review here), is definitely cool. Joining them in this round of adds are BelzebongThe Necromancers and A Great River in the Sky, and on a bill with Saint VitusBrant BjorkRadio MoscowMars Red SkyConanUfomammutStoned JesusMonolordMos Generator and so on — the list is fucking wild — they only make it stronger and richer.

Of all the Fall fests in Europe — there are many and I won’t take away from what any of them are doing — Keep it Low has been the one I’ve most wanted to see over the past few years. It’s grown into what really seems like a unique vibe between its stages, skatepark, biergarten, and so on, and though they’re promising heavier acts this year and delivering that already with the likes of Ufomammut and Vitus and Conan, etc. — see also Belzebong here — there’s still plenty of heavy psych and rock and roll to be had, and that blend, as we all know, is what it’s all about. Anyway, it looks awesome. It won’t be this year, but I’ll get there one of these days.

It’s presented, of course, by Sound of Liberation, who updated the lineup thusly:

keep-it-low-2017-new-poster

Keepers,
Today we have 4 new band announcements for Keep It Low Festival 2017! We’re happy to present you:

Colour Haze
BelzebonG
The Necromancers
A Great River In The Sky

It has become a kind of tradition that mighty Colour Haze headline Keep It Low’s Friday, so never change a winning team!

Get your 3-day tickets here: http://bit.ly/2lr4hzH and….keep it low!

Line Up:
BRANT BJORK (with Special Guest Sean Wheeler) | SAINT VITUS | RADIO MOSCOW | MARS RED SKY | UFOMAMMUT | STONED JESUS | CONAN | MONOLORD | NAXATRAS | HOUSE OF BROKEN PROMISES | BEASTMAKER | MOS GENERATOR | USNEA | ELEPHANT TREE | KALEIDOBOLT | MOUNT HUSH | GODSGROUND
+ many more TBA

Limited 3-day tickets available!

October 20 | 21 | 22 2017
Feierwerk München

After an amazing and once again sold out edition in 2016 you can expect 3 days, 27-30 bands, amazing people and good vibes at Keep It Low 2017! For the very first time we will have the “Doom-Frühschoppen” with some HEAVY bands on the last day of the Festival.

https://www.facebook.com/events/201489380309269/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival/

Colour Haze, In Her Garden (2017)

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Desertfest Athens 2017 Announces Church of Misery, Stoned Jesus & Mahakala for Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

desertfest-athens-2017-banner

Desertfest Athens 2017 continues to take shape on its own terms, adding to its quality-plus-quantity lineup with Japanese/American doomers Church of Misery, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus and hometown metallers Mahakala. The three acts vary pretty widely between them, as does the bill of the second Desertfest Athens overall, with the legendary doom of Saint Vitus, the boogie-thrust of Radio Moscow (who’ll have a new album out, remember), the groundbreaking heavy psych of Colour Haze, the hooch-swilling pummel of Orange Goblin and the revamped soul of Graveyard at the top of the lineup, but one could hardly accuse it of not making sense. The more the merrier, and with Greek outfits like Puta Volcano, Sadhus and Allochiria already included, it seems like the fest as a whole is only getting bigger this time around.

Which, if you’ve been paying attention for the last half-decade or so, you already know is how it goes with Desertfests. That’s been the tale of Berlin and London all along, and Belgium too. As the youngest incarnation of the festival, Athens has its work cut out for it in getting to the point where the others find themselves, but Greece has one of the most active heavy undergrounds in Europe right now and I’ve no doubt that with a lineup as strong as this one already is, they’ll absolutely get there.

Fest is set for Oct. 6 and 7. Here’s the latest:

desertfest-athens-2017-new-poster

2ND DESERTFEST ATHENS

ACRO
06-07.10.2017

Graveyard
Colour Haze
Orange Goblin
Radio Moscow
Saint Vitus
Church of Misery
Stoned Jesus
Mahakala
Sadhus: The Smoking Community
Allochiria
Puta Volcano

Stoned Jesus are back in Greece!!!! They will join this year’s edition of Desertfest Athens!! Here come the Robots!!

Mahakala, Satan’s finest, will deliver their sophomore album, “The Second Fall”, in front of the Desertfest Army!!! Beware!!

Church of Misery Official live at Desertfest Athens!!! The Japanese Doomsters are the last announcement for today, but at the same time one of the most exciting additions to this year’s line up!!!

Early-bird tickets are exhausted. Now only two-day tickets are sold for 50 euros.

https://www.viva.gr/tickets/music/acro/desertfest-athens-2017/
https://www.facebook.com/events/141861139680368/
https://www.facebook.com/Desertfest-Athens-189161564797514/

Stoned Jesus, “Here Come the Robots” official video

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