Live Review: HØSTSABBAT 2019 Night One in Oslo, Norway, 10.04.19

Posted in Reviews on October 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hostsabbat 2019 poster square

Before Show

Well, the church is still beautiful, not that there was any doubt. The Kulturkirken Jakob, secularized — because in Norway, state might occasionally trump church — with its high-ceiling grandeur and broad wood floor and walls lined with benches that at some point were pews. I’d been holed up in the hotel since yesterday afternoon, mostly sleeping, stumbling through the last of the Quarterly Review and reading about baseball, the news, Star Trek, and so on. Trying to be, essentially, as quiet as possible as though if I weren’t, I’d be politely asked to leave the country. The next two days would assure any quota for volume was met, anyhow.

Skraeckoedlan, which is now a word I’ve typed often enough that my phone knows it, were soundchecking on the altar stage when I walked in. The stage itself was higher and the fest added another bar down toward the front of the big room, which seems like a prudent move. Downstairs in the crypt, Suma were prepping to kick off the first night of Høstsabbat 2019 with a noise soaked basement gig in what’s been also transformed into an art gallery. More visual art this year as well, and there’s a live painting event scheduled for tomorrow early that I’m going to see if I can make.

The only variable in that is finishing this review in time, to be honest.

But it’s only moments now until doors, then about an hour till the first band. People running around looking anxious, nervous, excited. Maybe it’s just me. That will I’m sure smooth out to a good energy as things get rolling and everyone ends up where they’re supposed to be. On the couch in back of the crypt, typing on my phone, that’s kind of where I feel like I am.

After Show

Wow. Well then. That was, uh, something special that I just saw. I feel like I was trying to pry open my jaw from the clenched position it’s been in for the last I don’t even know how long, and tonight was the prybar that finally did the job. Even the last 15 minutes or so of Ufomammut, that last shot of adrenaline. Wow.

The answer of course is obvious — the start — but I feel like I’m not even sure where to start on this one, or how I could hope to convey exactly what went down this evening and tonight in any meaningful way. Holy shit. You think you have a pretty good idea what you’re getting and then it just gets trampled on. I am lucky to be here.

I don’t know what else to tell you that doesn’t come down to that. Here’s a little bit of how it went:

SUMA

SUMA (Photo by JJ Koczan)

You know the thing about post-metal? It’s got rules. You have to headbang a certain way. You have to riff a certain way. You have to take it so seriously all the time. One of the many reasons to like Sweden’s SUMA is they very much seem to recognize that for the bullshit it is. Yeah, they’re post-metal, I guess, but with an inflection straight out of noise rock that makes them so much less strictly adherent to the tenets of the genre — any genre, really — and they’re all the more satisfying to watch because of it. I stood in back in the basement, closed my eyes and just let wave after crushing wave of riffs absolutely bury me in volume. What a start to the weekend. It was like scrubbing away all the bullshit of your existence, your work, your school, the petty dramas that make up your every day, and entering communion with something else. Something loud. Call it catharsis. Call it detox. I don’t really care. SUMA set the tone and vibe immediately for Høstsabbat while also giving everyone who followed the challenge of living up to their standard. I am lucky to be here.

Skraeckoedlan

Skraeckoedlan (Photo by JJ Koczan)

When Swedish melo-prog-fuzz four-piece Skraeckoedlan got added to this festival earlier this year, I didn’t dare hope to think I’d see them. They’re a band I’ve dug since the first time I heard their 2011 debut, Äppelträdet (review here), and their approach has only grown richer with time, as 2015’s Sagor (review here) and 2019’s Eorþe (review here) demonstrate so plainly. But I never expected to catch a live set. Never mind the band standing on a frickin’ altar in a cathedral blazing through their material like it’s another day down at the Office of Kickass, I didn’t imagine a scenario when they and I would be in the same place. I’m glad to have been so wrong about that, because standing there watching them only confirmed the fandom I’ve had for their work over the course of this decade, and really, they’ve only gotten better as they’ve gone on. I may never get the chance to see them again, but after watching them tonight at Høstsabbat, I feel like asking to would be greedy anyhow. I am lucky to be here.

Yatra

Yatra (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This is Yatra‘s first European tour. Something tells me it will not be their last. The Baltimorean trio hit the road hard domestically in the US following the January release of their debut album, Death Ritual (review here), through Grimoire Records, and they reportedly began recording the follow-up to that over the summer. Well, that’s nifty, but in the meantime, here they are pairing with Sunnata on a tour this site is co-presenting and for all the stops they’ve made in New York this year — I can think a couple — Høstsabbat 2019 is my first time seeing them. I feel late to that party, but I’m late to most parties, so I’ll get over it. Nonetheless, as I had suspected, they’re a killer live act, and at least the debut album only tells part of that tale. On stage — or in basement, as it were — they tap into a primal energy, like they’re excavating the very roots of sludge metal. Oh yeah, and Dana Helmuth‘s vocals sound like Jeff fucking Walker from peak-era Carcass, so that ain’t exactly hurting their cause either. Yatra have the potential to lead a revival nastier, more brutal sludge in the US. This tour is only going to make them stronger, as they all will. I am lucky to be here.

Electric Eye

Electric Eye (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Hail the rock på Norska! Across the street (right out the door), at the Verkstedet bar, the entire bill was Norwegian, but Electric Eye would be the lone Norge representatives on the altar, and for what it’s worth — plenty — they brought a sonic spirit that reached far beyond international borders. Also beyond the borders of the atmosphere. I don’t know if it would be appropriate to call their take on space rock entirely mellow, but it was subtle in a way that allowed other influences to creep in almost before you realized they were there. It was a stark contrast, energy-wise, to the rawness Yatra had wrought downstairs, but Electric Eye made the most of their engaging style and gave Høstsabbat a cosmic push that was more than welcome. I had wanted to check out Kosmos Brenner, who last-minute took the spot of Superlynx after a death in the family assured they wouldn’t make it, but after I popped out for a second, I found myself strangely drawn back to the ethereal mysteries being pondered on the big stage. I’ll admit they’ve been around for more than six years and I’d never heard them before. Lesson learned. That lesson? I’m lucky to be here.

Stuck in Motion

Stuck in Motion (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This past April, when I was fortunate enough to see Enköping, Sweden, trio Stuck in Motion at Roadburn (review here), they played as a four-piece, with keys in addition to the guitar, bass and drums. At Høstsabbat, they added percussion as well to their hippie-vibing jams, so there were five of them crammed into the basement stage area — it’s not a stage, as such, but it’s where the gear goes — but if they felt packed in, that did nothing to slow their good times. Retro-fied psychedelic blues, all pastoral and dreamy, but still earthbound enough to tear into a Hendrixian solo every now and again (and again), their stuff made for easy-to-listen vibes, and a soothing bit of respite from some of the day’s more crushing contributors — a complement to Electric Eye in that, but less motorik and more flow. Before they played “Are You Ready to Fly” from their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), they indeed checked in with the crowd to see if the room was ready to fly, and I heard no murmurings to the contrary. That self-released LP has been a little under-radar as yet, but given how full the crypt was for their set, I can’t help but wonder what the reception for their next one will be when it arrives, hopefully sooner than later. I am lucky to be here.

Sunnata

sunnata (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It was hard not to feel like the church was built specifically for Sunnata. The Polish meditative heavy psych ritualists came out with incense and harem pants (respect) and were clear in their concept from the outset, tapping into the spirit of acts like Om and My Sleeping Karma, while still retaining a harder edge to their sound beneath the harmonized vocals of guitarists Szymon Ewertowski and Adrian Gadomski. Special mention should be given as well to bassist Michal Dobrzanski and drummer Robert Ruszczyk, whose ability to build tension was readily apparent in the band’s latest album, Outlands (review here), which came out last year, but whose doing so on stage was nothing short of physically affecting. You felt the churn in your stomach, and when they hit into a payoff, the relief was genuine. Exhale. They’re on tour with Yatra, as noted, but I put Sunnata in the same category of bands I never imagined being able to see live but was absurdly to do so. One recalls their days rocking out fuzzy as Satellite Beaver, and the ongoing evolution they set to roll with the transition they made becoming Sunnata. Their spaciousness, looking inward and outward simultaneously, was an immersive joy to behold. Again, exhale. I am lucky to be here.

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin (Photo by JJ Koczan)

In the words of Bernie Sanders: “Look.” I stood in front of two of the three of this festival’s stages all day, and at no point was there a crowd press like there was for Yuri Gagarin. I got to the crypt 20 minutes before they were slated to go on and already people were packed in. Very clearly a band whose reputation was preceding them. It’s been four years since the Gothenburg cosmonauts issued their second long-player, At the Center of All Infinity, through Kommun2 and Sulatron, but their out-the-airlock-into-the-void vibes were quick to remind that time is a human construct and space rock is not. Reaching into the great cosmic throb, they launched with “Sonic Invasion 2910” from their 2013 self-titled and proceeded into oblivion — though I’m not sure it was actually “Oblivion”; that’s on the second record — with the sheer delight of not-entirely-peaceful exploration. About two songs into their set, before I stood up from taking pictures and rolled my numb-ass ankle, I had the thought that I’ll never be able to see Hawkwind in their prime, but now I’ve seen Yuri Gagarin as up close as I could ever hope to see any band. I think some of what they played was new, but don’t quote me on that. Either way, as noted: time, irrelevant. They ruled. I am lucky to be here.

Ufomammut

Ufomammut (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Holy fucking shit, Ufomammut. I’ve had the pleasure a few times over the years, but this was hands-down the best I’ve ever seen the Italian cosmic doom masters play. They began with a few renditions in the style of their recent XX (review here) offering of revamped older material in quieter form — “Satan,” “Mars,” etc. — but what they did with that was gradually use it to build into the heavier portion of the set, so that each successive piece pushed a little further. First it was Urlo and Poia on stage, the former on keys/noise/vocals, the latter on guitar, then Poia joined in for cymbal washes, then drums, then the guitars got louder, then the drums got harder, then the vocals got shoutier until it seemed like the crowd was going to fucking riot if someone didn’t launch into a riff. But 20 years on, Ufomammut know exactly how to put people where they want them, so when they did get heavy, it was glorious. All the more so for the tension they’d built leading up to it. With a projector going on the high church stage, they absolutely laid waste to the room, like a consuming sonic burst of interstellar force. It was impossible to stand there and not be swept up by it. I kept telling myself it was time to go back to the room and start writing, but I couldn’t leave. How many times in your life do you get to see shows like this? They ended, of course, with “God,” and there was nowhere to go after that anyway, so what the hell. It was amazing. Like the entirety of day one at Høstsabbat, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect going into Ufomammut‘s set, and my expectations were thoroughly squashed. I am lucky to be here.

The Next Morning

Achy, but up for it. Took me a while to let myself go to sleep, but I got there eventually, was only up a couple times overnight, which is pretty good for me at this point. Hotel breakfast downstairs had free coffee, so I indulged in two triple-doubles — three double espressos, times two — and feel reasonably conscious. Could stand and will have a shower and that will help as well.

Though it seems inevitable that at some point Høstsabbat will add a third day to the proceedings, be it a pre-show Thursday or a full day Sunday, whatever, the quality-over-quantity at this festival makes it all the more unreal. Every band has something to offer, and though this year with the third stage there are inevitably things you won’t get to see all of if you see at all, the sense of curation and purpose that’s gone into its making is nothing if not palpable. My conclusion remains that I’m lucky to be here.

Some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Live Review: ROADBURN 2019 Day Four, 04.14.19

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 banner day four

04.14.19 – 01.17 CET – Sunday night – Hotel

Just now, before I sat down to write this post, I went to the tap in the bathroom to refill my water bottle. You can drink the tap water here — it’s really something. Anyhow, I stick the bottle under the cold water and look down about two seconds later to see I’ve left the cap on. Water running down the side of bottle. That’s about where one’s head is at on this last day of Roadburn 2019. You ever been nostalgic about something while it’s still going on? Yeah, emotions are running high in Tilburg. Many hugs, many slaps on the back, many see-you-next-years from one denizen of this temporary planet to another. Lucy in Blue (Photo by JJ Koczan)Indeed, even strung out on caffeine and obliterated by volume, it’s difficult to say goodbye to Roadburn, always.

Still somewhat reminiscent of when it was the Afterburner, Roadburn‘s Day Four has fewer stages, but I mean, it’s still four. Five if you count the Ladybird Skatepark, which I was at twice today. So yeah, not a laid back affair. And while the shows ended earlier — Imperial Triumphant and Cave both ended at 00.30, in Patronaat and the Green Room, respectively — the day also started early, with Lucy in Blue going on in the Green Room at 14.00 presenting their new album, In Flight, in its entirety. Based in Iceland, their sound is a classically progressive kind of rock with notable use of keys and vocal harmonies to go with the kraut-ish riffing and repetitive progressions.

They were young, but had both a firm grip on their aesthetic intentions and many aspects of their performance. Maybe some kinks to work out in terms of songwriting efficiency and their onstage persona, but the elements were there in a way that you couldn’t call anything other than encouraging. They were a mellow start to the day for those not watching Have a Nice Life on the Main Stage next door, and as far as I’m concerned, that was welcome. I did pop over to check out some of the Connecticut-based unit, Supersonic Blues (Photo by JJ Koczan)but only after Lucy in Blue were well in flight and had left the ground behind. It was a palpable contrast.

Didn’t watch Daughters. I know. But, well, Supersonic Blues were added last-minute to play at the skatepark, and well, they ruled last year, so it seemed like an easy-enough pick to head up and see them again. There were more skaters than yesterday, but they cleared out so the Dutch three-piece could play. Like Lucy in Blue, Supersonic Blues are probably under 30 — unless I’m just old enough now that 30 year olds look like kids; possible — but they command a warmth of tone and a sense of appreciation for classic boogie rock that comes complemented by an easy-rolling sense of craft and a sans-pretense approach to what they’re doing. I’ll take that any, any, any day of the week. I heard they got added yesterday and was only stoked that I’d get to see them again. They’ve had two singles out but sound like they’re about ready for a first LP, or at very least an EP.

A little bit of continuity to the start of the day between Lucy in Blue and Supersonic Blues, and though that coolest of colors wouldn’t factor into the moniker of Stuck in Motion, there was plenty of blues in their sound, and a fervent ’70s stylization as well. They fit with what I was looking for, is the short version of theStuck in Motion (Photo by JJ Koczan) story, and I stood and watched from the Green Room balcony as they classic-heavied their way into the hearts and heads of the assembled, easing out sleek grooves and keyboards/organ that only added to the depth of the melody. Cool band, and I felt justified in not fighting my way to the front to take photos by how chill their sound was. As if to say, “It’s cool man, you go ahead and take this one easy. We will too.” It was a winning decision all the way around, I think.

I had gotten turned onto their 2018 self-titled debut (review here) by Walter on Facebook posting about them, so checking them out in the flesh only seemed fair. They were cool, but I felt like I owed it to myself to watch Thou close out their residency on the Main Stage. Given the set they played last night at the skatepark doing Misfits covers, somehow a straight-ahead performance seemed anticlimactic, but hell’s bells were they heavy. I mean, really. Spread out across the stage, they brought full-on volume to the kind of atmospheres they had in their almost-acoustic set the other night, something disquieting in the mood and challenging of themselves and their audience. They are a band people really like. A lot. I can’t say that I’m a Thou (Photo by JJ Koczan)huge Thou fan like the people I saw chasing down the vinyl over in the merch area, but they’re undeniably powerful on stage, whether screaming or melodic, loud or quiet, or, you know, playing Misfits tunes, as one apparently will. I know they played like 50 sets in the last four days, but how could they not be back at some point in the years to come?

That question gave me something to ponder as I plotzed up to the Ladybird Skatepark for the last time to see Bismuth, who played earlier in the fest but were given another chance to volume-pummel everything in their path. Loud? Shit. There were parts of that building vibrating that were not meant to vibrate. Bassist/vocalist Tanya Byrne won Roadburn 2019 as regards t-shirts with the selection of Khanate, and she and drummer Joe Rawlings doled out grueling nod and brutal tone with unmitigated intensity. Their 2018 album, The Slow Dying of the Great Barrier Reef (discussed here), was some manner of preparation for seeing them live in terms of the basic air-from-lungs push of low-end — also tree-trunk drumsticks — but the volume factor made it all the more of a steamroller running atop the assembled masses Bismuth (Photo by JJ Koczan)in the skatepark, that big, high-ceilinged space seeming to fill up with sound no matter where you stood. Audio as a physical presence. It was righteous.

And then, of course, Sleep played. As far as culminations go, one could hardly ask for more than Sleep returning after so dutifully handing the 013 its ass last night to play their 2018 album, The Sciences (review here), front-to-back. But here’s the thing: Sleep played last night doing Sleep’s Holy Mountain in full. It was incredible. But The Sciences was better. The material sounded fresher, the band sounded more comfortable, and I’m not sure there’s hyperbole dramatic enough for how fucking loud they were. It was incredible. I’ve been lucky enough to see Sleep a few times. My go-to for the best I ever saw them was Roadburn 2012 (review here). After tonight, I might have to change my opinion. There was a technical glitch or two along the way — Matt Pike blew out one of his several guitar heads — but he, Al Cisneros and Jason Roeder Sleep (Photo by JJ Koczan)were utterly incredible. It was the kind of set that could make you believe in the magic of Christmas. A true Santa Claus of a set. They threw in “Holy Mountain” and “Dragonaut” as well, I guess just in case anyone in the room wasn’t there the night before. I heard no complaints for the repeaters, and registered none myself. Those songs too were better the second time around.

No clue how many times I’ve made this observation, but I think Jason Roeder might be the best drummer I’ve ever watched play. Yeah, Matt Pike just won a Grammy with High on Fire, and Al Cisneros deserves a Nobel for his work in Om, but between those two titans, Roeder — who, just to mention it so you don’t think I’m undercutting his own pedigree, was well established in fucking Neurosis before he joined Sleep in place of original drummer Chris Hakius — is crucial to the band Sleep have become. It was all the more emphasized in the The Sciences material, songs like “Sonic Titan” and “Giza Butler,” which unto itself was a highlight of the entire festival. If last night was a celebration of Sleep‘s earlier glories, then tonight was confirmation of the reason they’re the most influential riffers since Black Sabbath themselves. They were a joy to behold, and the perfect ending to my own personal Roadburn 2019.

There was a line outside Het Patronaat as I was leaving after aSleep (Photo by JJ Koczan) few quick goodbyes. Imperial Triumphant would be on shortly as the last Roadburn band ever to play the venue — there’s a bit of festival trivia for you — and I heard they were doing a whole thing with masks, but honestly, how could I ever hope to improve on the night I’d just had or what I’d just seen? Sad as it was to realize, it was time to go.

So I went. Roadburn 2019 ended on a higher note than I could’ve wished for, and I walked out of the 013 and down Weirdo Canyon to get back to the hotel sweaty, smelling like smoke, tired, hungry, thirsty and sore, but still feeling 100 percent refreshed. The only tragedy is it’s another year till the next one.

Thanks for reading. I’ll close out the Roadburn coverage tomorrow assuming I have time, but first and foremost thank you for reading. You’re pretty great.

More pics after the jump.

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Quarterly Review: Stuck in Motion, AVER, Massa, Alastor, Seid, Moab, Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Into Orbit, Super Thief, Absent

Posted in Reviews on March 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Let the games begin! The rules are the same: 10 albums per day, this time for a total of 60 between today and next Monday. It’s the Quarterly Review. Think of it like a breakfast buffet with an unending supply of pancakes except the pancakes are riffs and there’s only one dude cooking them and he’s really tired all the time and complains, complains, complains. Maybe not the best analogy. Still, it’s gonna be a ton of stuff, but there are some very, very cool records included, so please keep your eyes and your mind open for what’s coming, because you might find something here you really dig. If not, there’s always tomorrow. Let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Stuck in Motion, Stuck in Motion

stuck in motion self-titled

The classic style cover art of Swedish trio Stuck in Motion‘s self-titled debut tells much of the story. It’s sweet-toned vintage-style soul rock, informed by Graveyard to some degree, but more aligned to retroism. The songs are bluesy and natural and not especially long, but have vibe for weeks, as demonstrated on the six-minute longest-track “Dreams of Flying,” or the flute-laden closer “Eken.” What the picture doesn’t tell you is the heavy use of clavinet in the band’s sound and just how much the vintage electric piano adds to what songs like “Slingrar” with its ultra-fluid shifts in tempo, or the sax-drenched penultimate cut “Orientalisk.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Max Kinnbo, drummer Gustaf Björkman and bassist/vocalist/clavinetist Adrian Norén, Stuck in Motion‘s debut successfully basks in a mellow psychedelic blues atmosphere and shows a patience for songwriting that bodes remarkably well. It should not be overlooked because you think you’re tired of vintage-style rock.

Stuck in Motion on Thee Facebooks

Stuck in Motion on Bandcamp

 

AVER, Orbis Majora

aver orbis majora

Following up their 2015 sophomore outing, Nadir (review here), which led to them getting picked up by Ripple Music, Australia’s AVER return with the progressive shove of Orbis Majora, five songs in 50 minutes of thoughtfully composed heavy progadelica, and while it’s not all so serious — closer “Hemp Fandango” well earns its title via a shuffling stonerly groove — opener “Feeding the Sun” and the subsequent “Disorder” set a mood of careful craftsmanship in longform pieces. The album’s peak might be in the 13-minute “Unanswered Prayers,” which culls together an extended linear build that’s equal parts immersive and gorgeous, but the rest of the album hardly lacks for depth or clarity of purpose. An underlying message from the Sydney four-piece would seem to be that they’re going to continue growing, even after more than a decade, because it’s not so much that they’re feeling their way toward their sound, but willfully pushing themselves to refine those parameters.

AVER on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Massa, Walls

massa walls

Flourish of keys adds nuance to Massa‘s moody, heavy post-rock style, the Rotterdam-based trio bringing an atmosphere to their second EP, Walls, across five tracks and 26 minutes marked by periodic samples from cinema and a sense of scope that seems to be born of an experimental impulse but not presented as the experiment itself. That is, they take the “let’s try this!” impulse and make a song out of it, as the chunky rhythm of instrumental centerpiece “Expedition” or the melodies in the prior “#8” show. Before finishing with the crash-into-push of the relatively brief “Intermassa,” the eight-minute “The Federal” complements winding guitar with organ to affect an engaging spirit somewhere between classic and futurist heavy, with the drums holding together proceedings that would seem to convey all the chaos of that temporal paradox. Perhaps it was opener “Shiva” that set this creator/destroyer tone, but either way, Massa bask in it and find a grim sense of identity thereby.

Massa on Thee Facebooks

Massa on Bandcamp

 

Alastor, Slave to the Grave

alastor slave to the grave

The first full-length from Swedish doomplodders Alastor and their debut on RidingEasy Records, late 2018’s Slave to the Grave is the four-piece’s most expansive offering yet in sonic scope as well as runtime. Following the 2017 EPs Blood on Satan’s Claw (review here) and Black Magic (review here), the seven-song/56-minute offering holds true to the murk-toned cultism and dense low-end rumble of the prior offerings, but the melodic resonance and sense of updating the aesthetic of traditional doom is palpable throughout the roller “Your Lives are Worthless,” while the later acoustic-led “Gone” speaks to a folkish influence that suits them surprisingly well given the heft that surrounds. They make an obvious focal point of 17-minute closer “Spider of My Love,” which though they’ve worked in longer forms before, is easily the grandest accomplishment they’ve yet unfurled. One might easily say the same applies to Slave to the Grave as a whole. Those who miss The Wounded Kings should take particular note of their trajectory.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Seid, Weltschmerz, Baby!

seid-weltschmerz_baby-web

If Norwegian space-psych outfit Seid are feeling weary of the world, the way they show it in Weltschmerz, Baby! is by simply leaving it behind, substituting for reality a cosmic starscape of effects and synth, the odd sample and vaguely Hawkwindian etherealism. The centerpiece title-track is a banger along those lines, a swell of rhythmic intensity born out of the finale of the prior “Satan i Blodet” and the mellow, flowing “Trollmannens Hytte” before that, but the highlight might be the subsequent “Coyoteman,” which drifts into dream-prog led by echoing layers of guitar and eventually given over to a fading strain of noise that “Moloch vs. Gud” picks up with percussive purpose and flows directly into the closer “Mir (Drogarna Börjar Värka),” rife with ’70s astro-bounce and a long fadeout that’s less about the record ending and more about leaving the galaxy behind. Starting out at a decent clip with “Haukøye,” Weltschmerz, Baby! is all about the journey and a trip well worth taking.

Seid on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records website

 

Moab, Trough

moab trough

A good record tinged by the tragic loss of drummer Erik Herzog during the recording and finished by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Giacumakis and bassist Joe Fuentes, the 10-track/39-minute Trough demonstrates completely just how much Moab have been underrated since their 2011 debut, Ab Ovo (discussed here), and across the 2014 follow-up, Billow (review here), as they bring a West Coast noise-infused pulse to heavy rock drive on “All Automatons” and meet an enduring punker spirit face first with “Medieval Moan,” all the while presenting a clear head for songcraft amid deep-running tones and melodies. “The Will is Weak” makes perhaps the greatest impact in terms of heft, but heft is by no means all Moab have to offer. With the very real possibility this will be their final record, it is a worthy homage to their fallen comrade and a showcase of their strengths that’s bound someday to get the attention it deserves whenever some clever label decides to reissue it as a lost classic.

Moab on Thee Facebooks

Moab on Bandcamp

 

Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Split

primitive man unearthly trance split

Well of course it’s a massive wash of doomed and hate-filled noise! What were you expecting, sunshine and puppies? Colorado’s Primitive Man and Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance team up to compare misanthropic bona fides across seven tracks of blistering extremity that do Relapse Records proud. Starting with the collaborative intro “Merging,” the onslaught truly commences with Primitive Man’s 10-minute “Naked” and sinks into an abyss with the instrumental noisefest “Love Under Will,” which gradually makes its way into a swell of abrasive drone. Unearthly Trance, meanwhile, proffer immediate destructiveness with the churning “Mechanism Error” and make “Triumph” dark enough to live up to its most malevolent interpretations, while “Reverse the Day” makes me wonder what people who heard Godflesh in the ’80s must’ve thought of it and the six-minute finishing move “418” answers back to Primitive Man‘s droned-out anti-structure with a consuming void of fuckall depth. It’s like the two bands cut open their veins and recorded the disaffection that spilled out.

Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Into Orbit, Shifter

Into Orbit Shifter

Progressive New Zealander two-piece Into OrbitPaul Stewart on guitar and Ian Moir on drums — offer up the single Shifter as the answer to their 2017 sophomore long-player, Unearthing. The Wellington instrumentalists did likewise leading into that album with a single that later showed up as part of a broader tracklist, so it may be that they’ve got another release already in the works, but either way, the 5:50 standalone track finds them dug into a full band sound with layered or looped guitar standing tall over the mid-paced drumming, affecting an emotion-driven atmosphere as much as the cerebral nature of its craft. Beginning with a thick chug, it works into more melodic spaciousness as it heads toward and through its midsection, lead guitar kicking in with harmony lines joining soon after as the two-piece build back up to a bigger finish. Whatever their plans, Into Orbit make it clear that just because something is prog doesn’t mean it needs to be staid or lack expressiveness.

Into Orbit on Thee Facebooks

Into Orbit on Bandcamp

 

Super Thief, Eating Alone in My Car

super thief eating alone in my car

Noise-punk intensity pervades Eating Alone in My Car, the not-quite-not-an-LP from Austin four-piece Super Thief. They call it an album, and that’s good enough for me, especially since at about 20 minutes there isn’t much more I’d ask of the thing that it doesn’t deliver, whether it’s the furious out-of-mindness of minute-long highlight “Woodchipper” or the poli-sci critique of that sandwiches the offering with opener “Gone Country” immediately taking a nihilist anti-stance while closer “You Play it Like a Joke but I Know You Really Mean It” — which consumes nearly half the total runtime at 9:32 — seems to run up the walls unable to stick to the “smoke ’em if you got ’em” point of view of the earlier cut. That’s how the bastards keep you running in circles, but at least Super Thief know where to direct the frustration. “Six Months Blind” and the title-track have a more personal take, but are still worth a read lyrically as much as a listen, as the rhythm of the words only adds to the striking personality of the material.

Super Thief on Thee Facebooks

Learning Curve Records website

 

Absent, Towards the Void

absent towards the void

Recorded in 2016, released on CD in 2018 and snagged by Cursed Tongue Records for a vinyl pressing, Absent‘s Towards the Void casts a shimmering plunge of cavernous doom, with swirling post-Electric Wizard guitar and echoing vocals adding to the spaciousness of its four component tracks as the Brasilia-based trio conjure atmospheric breadth to go along with their weighted lurch in opener “Ophidian Womb.” With tracks arranged shortest to longest between eight and a half and 11 minutes, “Semen Prayer,” “Funeral Sun” and “Urine” follow suit from the opener in terms of overall approach, but “Funeral Sun” speeds things up for a stretch while “Urine” lures the listener downward with a subdued opening leading to more filth-caked distortion and degenerate noise, capping with feedback because at that point what the hell matters anyway? Little question in listening why this one’s been making the rounds for over a year now. It will likely continue to do so for some time to come.

Absent on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

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Høstsabbat 2019: Stuck in Motion Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

stuck in motion

Swedish heavy hippie rockers kind of quietly released one of 2018’s best debut albums in their June-issued self-titled debut. Hard to imagine some label won’t pick it up for another round of vinyl, but whether you hear it on a platter or through a bluetooth speaker from your phone, the thing absolutely oozes vibe. It’s in clear recognition of this that the three-piece were recently added to Roadburn 2019 (I wrote the announcement; info here), and the 2019 edition of Oslo-based Høstsabbat is following suit in bringing them to Norway next October. I do not for one second imagine they will be the last to do so.

The only question is whether they’ll be in the crypt or on the altar. I hope I get to find out.

The fest made the announcement thusly:

hostsabbat-2019-stuck-in-motion

It’s been a very busy week for everyone following Høstsabbat on SoMe, and we apologize if you feel we’re spamming your news feed. Sometimes things happen simultaneously, and you just gotta go with the flow.

If one word can describe our next announcement for Høstsabbat Festival, October 2019, it’s FLOW.

Once again, we’ve had our eyes peeled on Sweden, and once again, we’ve found pure gold.

Out of Enköping, Stuck in Motion’s debut album struck a nerve with us at Høstsabbat, and the self titled album released June this summer, has been playing on repeat for a great part of this fall. The craftsmanship is top shelf, and the whole album feels timeless in a modern, almost indescribable way. They utilize both their native language as well as English, and the vocals from Max Kinnbo and Adrian Noren floats like a velvet blanket on top of the bands gentle groove and lush sound. Stuck in Motion gives us psychedelic blues at its finest, and just like the weather outside today, it feels very refreshing, and makes you wanna dive right in.

We predict a blinding future for this three-piece, launching with their appearance at Roadburn Festival next spring. We are proud to invite Stuck in Motion at such an early stage, as we fell totally in love with their realm.

We surely think you will do to!

Catch Stuck in Motion for the first time in Norway at Høstsabbat October 4th- 5th, 2019, in Kulturkirken JAKOB.

Tickets out Friday at 11:00 CET!

HØSTSABBAT 2019 SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
http://bit.ly/HS2019playlist

https://www.facebook.com/events/274561413173994/
https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

Stuck in Motion, Stuck in Motion (2018)

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Roadburn 2019 Adds Three Fests’ Worth of Bands to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 banner

Yeah, I put it at about three festival’s worth of bands added to Roadburn in this announcement. Maybe four. Consider Tomas Lindberg‘s curated event its own fest. Then you have the Holy Roar Records showcase with five bands playing. Then you have the announcements besides, and that’s enough for at least one fest on their own, if not two, so yes, at least three festivals happening here as Roadburn 2019 continues its let’s-be-all-things-to-all-people-and-actually-get-away-with-it push into new aesthetic territory, working to redefine and proliferate ideas of what “heavy” can and needs to encompass. If you don’t see this as an art project, you’re looking at it wrong.

I haven’t heard whether or not we’ll be doing the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch daily ‘zine as part of Roadburn 2019 next April, but of course I’m hopeful it happens. Hard to imagine a year without a Roadburn at this point. I’d prefer not to, actually.

Here’s the latest announcement in its yes-this-is-all-happening-at-one-fest totality:

roadburn 2019 mono

MONO, MYRKUR: FOLKESANGE, MARISSA NADLER, AND MORE ADDED TO ROADBURN 2019

– MONO to perform Hymn to the Immortal Wind as part of Tomas Lindberg’s curation
– Myrkur: Folkesange set to captivate the main stage
– Marissa Nadler will make her Roadburn debut
– Holy Roar x Roadburn showcase to take over Hall of Fame
– Day tickets on sale December 13

Of the new additions to the Roadburn line up, Artistic Director, Walter Hoeijmakers comments:

“We’re incredibly excited to announce this latest group of bands to the Roadburn line up. As well as representing well established artists, we have also included a huge array of boundary-pushing performances which will continue to expand the scope of the festival. These are artists that we believe will shape the future of heavy music.”

MONO & MORE FOR TOMAS LINDBERG’S CURATED EVENT

Tomas Lindberg has added a clutch of new bands to his curated event, The Burning Darkness, topped off by MONO who will be performing a special anniversary show.

The Japanese post-rock four piece will celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band, and the 10th anniversary of of their iconic album Hymn to the Immortal Wind with a full album set at Roadburn 2019. They will be joined on stage by the JO QUAIL QUARTET, adding another layer of lush instrumentation to their intricate tracks. Lindberg comments: “It is with great pride I present them as a part of my curation this year.”

In addition, Lindberg has chosen three further bands for his curated event. AGRIMONIA – who Lindberg loosely describes as “a more progressive Amebix” – plus Swedish dynamic prog outfit GÖSTA BERLINGS SAGA have also been confirmed. Rounding out the new additions is ORCHESTRA OF CONSTANT DISTRESS – a hybrid of Brainbombs and Skull Defekts.

MYRKUR: FOLKESANGE

MYRKUR: FOLKESANGE will bring some folk magic to the main stage as she is accompanied by musicians including Heilung’s Christopher Juul, and celebrated cellist Jo Quail. Folkesange brings together both traditional Nordic folk songs, as well as her own original compositions in a mesmerising swirl of ethereal darkness.

MYRKUR will be performing with her metal band at the 013 on December 16, with support from Jo Quail.

MARISSA NADLER

Darkness comes in many forms, and one of the most beautiful we’ve witnessed this year is on the tracks of MARISSA NADLER’s latest album, For My Crimes. We’re thrilled that she will bring these songs – and more – to life, on the Roadburn stage this coming April.

HOLY ROAR X ROADBURN

For 12 years now, HOLY ROAR have been quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) releasing a steady stream of incredible albums. The label has become home to some of the most exciting rising bands around and we’re thrilled to team up with the label to bring you five of their brightest stars for HOLY ROAR X ROADBURN.

On Friday, April 12, the Hall of Fame venue will play host to the unapologetic abrasiveness of SVALBARD, the sonic alchemy of PIJN, the nihilistic post-metal of CONJURER, the genre-bending delights of SECRET CUTTER, and the label’s newest recruit, the haunting A.A.WILLIAMS

ALSO CONFIRMED….
BLACK BOMBAIM & PETER BRÖTZMAN will see Portuguese psych masters team up with a free jazz legend
BLISS SIGNAL will be fusing the jagged edges of blast beats and black metal with the hypnotic tremors of dark electronics
BOSSK will perform Audio Noir in full
CRYPT TRIP are a righteous trip back to days when acid-tinged rock was both exciting and thriving on attitude and energy
DEAF KIDS combine D-beat, and psychedelia with their South American roots
DEAF KIDS X PETBRICK will team up to deliver audio chaos
MALOKARPATAN offer a mix of the best classic heavy metal with an oblique take on black metal
MORNE will deliver a crushing dose of sludge
MYTHIC SUNSHIP are poised to deliver a set as iconic as their Another Shape of Psychedelic Music album
PETBRICK mix together crushing electronics with grinding drum violence, featuring Iggor Cavalera
RAKTA bring post punk, death rock, psych and just good old noisy garage rock’n’roll
STUCK IN MOTION prove there’s vibrancy in classic forms
TERRITOIRE performing Alix in full
THE END is the new project of saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bringing chaos and beauty to the Roadburn stage

TICKETS:
Single day tickets will go on sale on Thursday, December 13. Weekend tickets are on sale now

Tickets are be priced as follows:
3 days ticket (Thu-Sat) €181 + €4,50 service fee
4 days ticket (Thu-Sun) €204 + €4,50 service fee
Day ticket (Thu, Fri or Sat) €62 + €4,50 service fee
Sunday ticket €55,50 + €4,50 service fee

https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival/
http://www.twitter.com/Roadburnfest
http://www.instagram.com/roadburnfest
http://www.roadburn.com

Roadburn 2019 announcement video

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