Codeia Premiere “Medallion (Part III)” Video; As He Turned Back Towards the Eye of the Storm out April 13

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

codeia

German post-metallic trio Codeia are most likely aware the allusion they’re making in the rather lengthy title of their second album. Due out through Hand of Doom Records on April 13, As He Turned Back Towards the Eye of the Storm indeed has its moments that seem in conversation with the patient ambience that genre-godfathers Neurosis brought to their 2004 effort, The Eye of Every Storm, but at five songs and a consuming 73 minutes, the Karlsruhe/Stuttgart-based trio bring together a host of other elements that would seem to be crafted toward bridging that kind of open, atmospheric minimalism with the mathematical crunch of Isis at their most intense, or some of Cult of Luna‘s more lush phrases. These are not unfamiliar aspects of post-metal, but through manipulating the textures at play especially over longform pieces like 20-minute opener “Canon of Echoes” and the 21-minute finale “Mantra-Karma,” the band smoothly execute shifts in volume and intensity in a way that is able to play toward stark contrasts when it so desires but draws itself forward in thoughtful fashion, maintaining conscious presence in the midst of hypnotic suggestion.

All but one of the inclusions on As He Turned Back Towards the Eye of the Storm — which, like the band’s name itself, is also stylized all-lowercase — starts out quiet and progresses toward an inevitable build in volume with a fine sonic detailing that is codeia and he turned back towards the eye of the stormboth emblematic of the style and fluidly executed by Codeia as it was on their 2017 debut, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared (review here), and across both releases there is a clear move toward evocation. Guitarist Markus Liebich, bassist/vocalist Denis Schneider and drummer Timo Langhof aren’t just employing the combination of airy guitar effects and massive roll that provides the early apex of “Emerald Deception” for their own ends. They’re using them to construct a moving entity that is the album as a whole. It’s about putting the listener into a specific mental and emotional place, and even in the five-minute noise-wash centerpiece “Mantra,” they’re able to accomplish what they set out to do, whether it’s through effects, tonal weight, bellowed shouts or a sense of sonic drift.

The outlier, which starts at relative full-bore is “Medallion,” which has been broken into three parts for the purposes of video-making and, presumably, ease of consumption. A blasting intensity gives way gradually to barely-there minimalism, and the three-piece build back up to a nodding, crushing heft that recedes again to set the foundation of a last crescendo leading into the closer with a final resonant wisp of guitar ahead of the arrival at the footsteps of “Mantra-Karma.” Of course, no 73-minute full-length is going to be a minor undertaking — nor is it intended to be, on any level — but As He Turned Back Towards the Eye of the Storm holds sway over its extended runtime with an immersive vibe that calls all to worship alongside it.

“Medallion (Part III)” can be seen premiering below. When all three videos are out (“Part II” is yet forthcoming), they’ll be pieced together for the entirety of the song. Until then, please enjoy the clip below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

As He Turned Back Towards the Eye of the Storm is available to preorder now:

Codeia, “Medallion (Part III)” official video premiere

In comparison to their first record “don’t be afraid”, she whispered and disappeared, the new one as he turned back towards the eye of the storm feels more focused and determined than its predecessor. The band therefore likens their previous album to a prologue: “Our debut has introduced our characters, or influences. Now, the storyline unfolds and allows for a more complex character development.”

Spherical sound patterns, hypnotic repetitions, and progressive structures set the stage for facet-like lyrics. Some things, however, shouldn’t change – the band once more has made it their mission to capture a live-feel on the album, making sure to record all guitar loops live. A vinyl-only bonus track of 22 minutes as well as two contributions by N (Denovali Records, Midira Records) lend additional richness to the production.

Ultimately, the seamless transition between the two records gives an entirely new meaning to both, urging the listener to re-evaluate the known and unknown.

as he turned back towards the eye of the storm (produced by Tobias Stieler/Kokomo) is out on April 13th, 2019 (Record Store Day) via Hand Of Doom Records.

Codeia is:
Markus Liebich (Guitar)
Denis Schneider (Bass, Vocals)
Timo Langhof (Drums)

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Codeia website

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Review & Track Premiere: Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Grandmother

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree grandmother

[Click play above to stream ‘Cinitus’ from Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree’s new album, Grandmother, out Feb. 28.]

It’s not just that the direction Germany’s Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree take on their second album, Grandmother, is unexpected. It’s that they take that direction so well and so completely. The Stuttgart-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Simon Weinrich, guitarist Lucas Dreher, bassist Christopher Popowitsch and drummer/vocalist Marc Dreher made an impressive debut in 2017 with the similarly concisely-titled Medicine (review here), and thereby reveled in an expansive take on heavy psychedelia. Song structures were fluid, tones by and large were warm, and where vocals came up, they added to the overarching atmosphere of mellow exploration. In short: cool vibe, good record. The kind of thing that would make you want to chase down a follow-up.

Now, with Grandmother — a word that, like “medicine,” is bound to evoke some kind of image or emotion or at least association in the mind of just about anyone who sees it — the four-piece present through Pink Tank Records four tracks over the course of an expansive 45 minutes, infused with a linear dynamic split between its two sides. I’m not ready to call it post-metal, but there are times where its post-heavy psychedelia comes close, though as they show in the consuming 17-minute opener and by far longest track (immediate points) “Cinitus,” they’re no less likely to drone out on some cosmic doom à la the criminally undernoticed Mühr than they are to burst into a cacophonous echo of space rocking thrust before crashing into a massive roll and devolving to interweaving wisps of guitar effects. Really, “Cinitus” is an album unto itself — or at least an EP — but paired with the seven-minute “Craving” on side A, which presents a more straightforward linear build with vocals more direct in the mix, it highlights the scope that Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree have so readily taken upon themselves. It’s not just about sounding big or broad — though they have both at their disposal, certainly — but about emotional conveyance through aesthetic expression. It is gorgeous and complex in kind.

Like a relationship. Like family. It’s never all joy, and it’s never all misery. It’s a concept or a theme that runs deep enough to encompass anything, and at the same time still be open to the interpretation of the listener. As “Cinitus” careens its way toward the massive rolling slowdown that hits just before the 10-minute mark, a stretch of vocals seem to call up from beneath the guitar to provide an essential human presence ahead of the drift to come, and it’s one more way in which the band showcase the thoughtfulness of the shift in sound presented throughout Grandmother. This is not the clumsy donning of a style. This isn’t a band trying something on to see how it fits. One gets the sense that somewhere in the two short years since MedicineBees Made Honey in the Vein Tree decided they wanted their sound to do something else, and as a unit, they consciously made a choice to work toward that.

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree

Their success in that regard is writ large throughout “Cinitus” and “Craving,” as well as “Grandmother” and “Dionysus” on side B, which both run about 10 minutes to convey something of an evening out even as their structures remain varied within themselves, with the former patiently moving through a spacious progression underscored by tension in the drums and rumbling low end, while the band hold back the full blastoff for the latter — though perhaps the closer’s most effective moment is the stretch in its second half where it drops the wash of noise and lets the vocals carry a moment of clarity ahead of the finale. Either way, the ambient sense of Grandmother is crucial to its execution throughout, and for all the consciousness that may be at work in the band’s growth from the first album to the second, they don’t at all lose sight of the emotional context they’re bringing to the proceedings. In the pulls of the guitar in “Cinitus” or the way “Grandmother” resolves itself in a combination of stomp and surge before a last wash of cymbals and resonant guitar gives way to a sampled rainstorm, the songs are as much gut as brain. It’s the malleable direction of one over the other that makes Grandmother such a resounding offering.

The pairing of the title-track and “Dionysus” is especially telling in that despite their similar runtimes — recall “Cinitus” is more than 10 minutes longer than “Craving” back on side A — they’re deceptively different in the ground they cover. If one puts a narrative of mourning to the progression of songs, then the reference to the goddess governing wine and song — Bacchus to the Romans — might be seen as a repast, especially after that rainstorm. But either way, it is where Grandmother finds its ending, and there is a palpable sense of letting go as the last verse recedes just before it hits 7:30 and begins to transition into the last wash that serves as its culmination. Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree are never out of control, in that moment or elsewhere, and that’s something they reinforce with a last return to the quiet guitar line that serves as central figure to the closer as they make their way out.

But that sense of control, too, is fluid, and if anything has carried over from the band’s prior outing, it’s their ability to hold sway over longform structures, toying with the listener’s consciousness while retaining a full hold on what they’re doing. They have taken on this breadth of approach in such a way that makes it easy to think they’ve “found” their niche and will from here work to refine it. That might happen, or it might not. But for a band who already seemed so sure of their take to turn elsewhere is remarkable. It shows not only are Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree capable of such a thing, but they’re bold enough to actually do it and pull it off. As to where that might take their craft going forward, they’ve also just made themselves far less predictable, which is another of Grandmother‘s noteworthy achievements.

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Grandmother (2019)

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Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree at Pink Tank Records

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Quarterly Review: Thou, Liquid Visions, Benthic Realm, Ape Machine, Under, Evil Triplet, Vestjysk Ørken, Dawn of Winter, Pale Heart, Slowbro

Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again! The second week of this amply-proportioned Quarterly Review begins today as we move ever closer toward the inevitable 100-album finish line on Friday. There is an incredible amount of music to get through this week, so I don’t want to delay for too long, but as we look out across the vast stretch of distortion to come, I need to say thank you for reading, and I hope that you’ve been able to find something that’s kicking your ass a little bit in all the right ways so far. If not, well, there are 50 more records on the way for you to give it another shot.

Here goes.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Thou, Magus

thou magus

How can something be so raw and forward thinking at the same time? Baton Rouge’s Thou might be the band of their generation who’ve added the most to sludge in terms of pushing the style in new directions and shaping genre to their purposes. Magus (on Sacred Bones), their fourth or fifth full-length depending on whom you ask, is an overwhelming 75-minute 2LP of inward and outward destructive force, as heavy in its ambience as in its weight and throat-ripping sonic extremity, and yet somehow is restrained. To listen to the march of “Transcending Dualities,” there’s such a sense of seething happening beneath the surface of that chugging, marching riff, and after its creeping introduction, “In the Kingdom of Meaning” seems intent on beating its own rhythm, as in, with fists, and even a stop-by from frequent guest vocalist Emily McWilliams does little to detract from that impression. Along with Magus, which rightly finishes with the lurching threat of “Supremacy,” Thou have released three EPs and a split this year, so their pace runs in something of a contrast to their tempos, but whether you can keep up or not, Thou continue to press forward in crafting pivotal, essential brutalizations.

Thou website

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Liquid Visions, Hypnotized

Liquid Visions Hypnotized

Sulatron Records‘ pressing of Liquid Visions‘ 2002 debut, Hypnotized, is, of course, a reissue, but also the first time the album has been on vinyl, and it’s not long into opener “State of Mind” or the grunge-gone-classic-psych “Waste” before they earn the platter. Members of the band would go on to participate in acts like Zone Six, Wedge, Electric Moon and Johnson Noise, so it’s easy enough to understand how the band ties into the family tree of underground heavy psych in Berlin, but listening to the glorious mellow-unfolding-into-noise-wash-freakout of 15-minute closer “Paralyzed,” the appeal is less about academics than what the five-piece of vocalists/guitarists H.P. Ringholz (also e-sitar) and Kiryk Drewinski (also organ), bassist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (also Fender Rhodes and Mellotron), drummer Chris Schwartzkinsky and thereminist Katja Wolff were able to conjure in terms of being both ahead of their time and behind it. As the album moves from its opening shorter tracks to the longer and more expansive later material, it shows its original CD-era linearity, but if an LP reissue is what it takes to get Hypnotized out there again, so be it. I doubt many who hear it will complain.

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Sulatron Records webstore

 

Benthic Realm, We Will Not Bow

Benthic Realm We Will Not Bow

The second short release from Benthic Realm behind a 2017 self-titled EP (review here) finds the Massachusetts-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (ex-Second Grave, ex-Warhorse), bassist Maureen Murphy (ex-Second Grave) and drummer Dan Blomquist (also Conclave) working toward a refined approach bridging the divide between doom and darker, harder hitting metal. They do this with marked fluidity, van Guilder shifting smoothly between melodic clean singing and harsher screams as Murphy and Blomquist demonstrate like-minded ease in turns of pace and aggression. The penultimate semi-title-track “I Will Not Bow” is an instrumental, but “Save us All,” “Thousand Day Rain” and closer “Untethered” — the latter with some Slayer ping ride and ensuing double-kick gallop — demonstrate the riff-based songwriting that carries Benthic Realm through their stylistic swath and ultimately ties their ideas together. If they think they might be ready for a debut full-length, they certainly sound that way.

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Benthic Realm website

 

Ape Machine, Darker Seas

ape machine darker seas

Maybe Ape Machine need to make a video with cats playing their instruments or something, but five albums deep, the Portland outfit seem to be viciously underrated. Releasing Darker Seas on Ripple, they take on a more progressive approach with songs like “Piper’s Rats” donning harmonized vocals and more complex interplay with guitar. It’s a more atmospheric take overall — consider the acoustic/electric beginning of “Watch What You Say” and it’s semi-nod to seafaring Mastodon, the likewise-unplugged and self-awarely medieval “Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester)” and the rocking presentation of what’s otherwise fist-pumping NWOBHM on “Bend Your Knee” — but Ape Machine have always been a band with songwriting at their center, and even as they move into the best performances of their career, hitting a point of quality that even producer Steve Hanford (Poison Idea) decided to join them after the recording as their new drummer, there’s no dip in the quality of their work. I don’t know what it might take to get them the attention they deserve — though a cat video would no doubt help — but if Darker Seas underscores anything, it’s that they deserve it.

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Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Under, Stop Being Naive

under stop being naive

Stockport, UK, three-piece Under bring a progressive edge to their pummel with their second album, Stop Being Naive (on APF), beginning with the deceptively thoughtful arrangement of crushing opener and longest track (immediate points) “Malcontent,” which unfurls a barrage of riffs and varied vocals contributed by guitarist Simon Mayo, bassist Matt Franklin and drummer/keyboardist Andy Preece. Later cuts like “Soup” and “Grave Diggers” tap into amorphous layers of extremity, and “Happy” punks out with such tones as to remind of the filth that became grindcore in the UK nearly 40 years ago, but while “Big Joke” rolls out with a sneer and closer “Circadian Driftwood” has a more angular foundation, there’s an overarching personality that comes through Under‘s material that feels misanthropic and critical in a way perhaps best summarized by the record’s title. Stop Being Naive is sound enough advice, and it comes presented with a fervent argument in its own favor.

Under on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Evil Triplet, Have a Nice Trip

evil triplet have a nice trip

Trimming the runtime of their 2017 debut, Otherworld (review here) nearly in half, Austin weirdo rockers Evil Triplet present the six-song/38-minute single LP Have a Nice Trip on Super Secret with classic garage buzz tone on “A Day Like Any Other,” a cosmic impulse meeting indie sneer on opener “Space Kitten” and a suitably righteous stretch-out on “Aren’t You Experienced?” — which is just side A of the thing. The pulsating “Open Heart” might be the highlight for its Hawkwindian drive and momentary drift, but “Pyramid Eye”‘s blown-out freakery isn’t to be devalued, and the eight-minute capper “Apparition” is dead on from the start of its slower march through the end of its hook-topped jam, reminding of the purpose behind all the sprawl and on-their-own-wavelength vibes. A tighter presentation suits Evil Triplet and lets their songs shine through while still highlighting the breadth of their style and its unabashed adventurousness. May they continue to grow strange and terrify any and all squares they might encounter.

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Super Secret Records website

 

Vestjysk Ørken, Cosmic Desert Fuzz

Vestjysk orken Cosmic Desert Fuzz

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get on Vestjysk Ørken‘s debut EP, Cosmic Desert Fuzz. At very least, the Danish trio’s three-tracker first outing is aptly-named, and guitarist/vocalist Bo Sejer, bassist Søren Middelkoop Nielsen and drummer Thomas Bonde Sørensen indeed tap into space, sand and tone on the release, but each song also has a definite theme derived from cinema. To wit, “Dune” (11:41) samples Dune, “…Of the Dead” (9:13) taps into the landmark George Romero horror franchise, and “Solaris” (14:15) draws from the 1972 film of the same name. The spaciousness and hypnotic reach of the latter has an appeal all its own in its extended and subtle build, but all three songs not only pay homage to these movies but seem to work at capturing some aspect of their atmosphere. Vestjysk Ørken aren’t quite rewriting soundtracks, but they’re definitely in conversation with the works cited, and with an entire universe of cinema to explore, there are accordingly no limits as to where they might go. Something tells me it won’t be long before we find out how deep their obsession runs.

Vestjysk Ørken on Instagram

Vestjysk Ørken on Bandcamp

 

Dawn of Winter, Pray for Doom

Dawn of Winter Pray for Doom

I have no interest in playing arbiter to what’s “true” in doom metal or anything else, and neither am I qualified to do so. Instead, I’ll just note that Germany’s Dawn of Winter, who trace their roots back nearly 30 years and have released full-lengths on a one-per-decade basis in 1998, 2008 and now 2018 with Pray for Doom, have their house well in order when it comes to conveying the classic tenets of the genre. Issued through I Hate, the eight-track/51-minute offering finds drummer Dennis Schediwy punctuating huge nodder grooves led by Jörg M. Knittel‘s riffs, while bassist Joachim Schmalzried adds low end accentuation and frontman Gerrit P. Mutz furthers the spirit of traditionalism on vocals. Songs like “The Thirteenth of November” and the stomping “The Sweet Taste of Ruin” are timeless for being born too late, and in the spirit of Europe’s finest trad doom, Dawn of Winter evoke familiar aspects without directly worshiping Black Sabbath or any of their other aesthetic forebears. Pray for Doom is doom, because doom, by doomers, for doomers. The converted will be accordingly thrilled to hear them preach.

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I Hate Records website

 

Pale Heart, Jungeland

pale heart jungleland

Semi-retroist Southern heavy blues boogie, some tight flourish of psychedelia, and the occasional foray into broader territory, Stuttgart three-piece Pale Heart‘s StoneFree debut long-player, Junegleland is striking in its professionalism and, where some bands might sacrifice audio fidelity at the altar of touching on a heavy ’70s aesthetic, guitarist/vocalist Marc Bauer, key-specialist Nico Bauer and drummer Sebastian Neumeier (since replaced by Marvin Schaber) present their work in crisp fashion, letting the construction of the songs instead define the classicism of their influence. Low end is filled out by Moog where bass might otherwise be, and in combination with Hammond and Fender Rhodes and other synth, there’s nothing as regard missing frequencies coming from Jungleland, the nine songs of which vary in their character but are universally directed toward honing a modern take on classic heavy, informed as it is by Southern rock, hard blues and the tonal warmth of yore. A 50-minute debut is no minor ask of one’s audience in an age of fickle Bandcamp attentions, but cuts like the 12-minute “Transcendence” have a patience and character that’s entrancing without trickery of effects.

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StoneFree Records website

 

Slowbro, Nothings

Slowbro Nothings

UK instrumentalist three-piece Slowbro‘s full-length debut, Nothings, brings forth eight tracks and 51 minutes of heavy-ended sludge rock notable for the band’s use of dueling eight-string guitars instead of the standard guitar/bass setup. How on earth does something like that happen? I don’t know. Maybe Sam Poole turned to James Phythian one day and was like, “Hey, I got two eight-string guitars. So, band?” and then a band happened. Zeke Martin — and kudos to him on not being intimidated by all those strings — rounds out on drums and together the trio embark on cuts like “Sexlexia” (a very sexy learning disability, indeed) and “Broslower,” which indeed chugs out at a considerably glacial pace, and “Fire, Fire & Fire,” which moves from noise rock to stonerly swing with the kind of aplomb that can only be conjured by those who don’t give a shit about style barriers. It’s got its ups and downs, but as Nothings — the title-track of which quickly cuts to silence and stays there until a final crash — rounds out with “Pisscat” and the eight-strings go ever so slightly post-rock, it’s hard not to appreciate the willful display of fuckall as it happens. It’s a peculiar kind of charm that makes it both charming and peculiar.

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Creature Lab Records website

 

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Pale Heart Premiere “Flying High” Video; Jungleland Due Dec. 7

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Pale Heart (Photo by Heiko Herrmann)

German heavy blues rockers Pale Heart release their debut album, Jungleland, on Dec. 7 through StoneFree Records/Broken Silence. It’s their first record with the name, but the history of the three-piece who made it — often-chapeau’ed guitarist/vocalist Marc Bauer, organist Nico Bauer and drummer Sebastian Neumeier (since replaced by Marvin Schaber) — goes back a decade to their teenage beginnings as the band White Daze. Also, in the case of Marc and Nico being brothers, you know, childhood and all that. But Pale Heart, who derive the new name from a critique of the ravages of capitalist greed on the human soul — Marx would groove — are a different animal altogether, with the varied keys and synth taking the place of bass in covering low end with the guitar while furthering the melody and Marc‘s vocals as a steady focal point over the swinging, adaptable drums of Neumeier. Whether they’re chilling out slow on “Little World” or  dug into the heavier push in the second half of seven-minute opener “Time to Love” — immediately contrasted by “Evil Man” — or basking in the psychedelia and well-earned organ/synth solo in the 12-minute “Transcendence,” Jungleland isn’t by any means a minor journey at nine songs and 50 minutes, but it stands itself out via songcraft and naturalist, smooth performances.

And if their new video for “Flying High” makes you want to get down by getting all dragged up and putting on a show, pale heart junglelandfucking a. Seems to work pretty well for my man with the cigarettes on his pizza, so all the better. The song, like much of the record it represents, is a hookfest, catchy to its core and given nuance in the sonic space where bass might otherwise reside by Nico‘s Rhodesing and Moogery. As the penultimate cut on Jungleland, it’s somewhat buried behind the aforementioned “Transcendence,” but it’s an uptempo kick right when the album needs it and provides a bridge to the easy-rolling closer “Cry of Desperation” that follows. No complaints, in other words. The production is organic but not strictly retro, and across the record the band flesh out sundry moods and funky nods while holding to the central bluesy feel. It’s a vibe album. It vibes. It wants you to vibe with it. And it makes a convincing case for doing so.

In that, “Flying High” is a more than worthy representation, and even if you don’t have nailpolish handy (why not?), the clip is also fully enjoyable with a cup of coffee, or maybe a slice of cigarette-free pizza if that’s your thing. I’m happy to host the premiere.

PR wire info on the band follows the video itself, which is right down there in that box that looks like a video. Go figure.

Please enjoy:

Pale Heart, “Flying High” official video premiere

Founded in 2008 under the moniker WHITE DAZE, the trio, consisting of brothers Marc and Nico Bauer, and Sebastian Neumeier, found its home within the soulful Blues Rock-spheres of the olden days. And without exaggeration: It’s this baseline feeling that makes the 70ies come alive right in front of you. Forged from the present and fed by the past, their sound isn’t just a combination of those two worlds. It’s an elegant amalgamation that also evokes something new. Sebastian Neumeier isn’t a member of PALE HEART anymore, but it’s him playing the drums on “Jungleland”.

Under the name PALE HEART the band reforms as a trio, this time with Marvin Schaber as the drummer. And good times are ahead: Their new material sounds full, earthy, and gritty, felt to the bone by each member and performed with maximum authenticity. Blues, Rock, Soul, Prog sounds and faintly psychedelic melodies, never too serious despite its depth, never too easy despite its groove. PALE HEART don’t make music to be cool, to get girls, or to be celebrated on hipster blogs. PALE HEART strive to make music because it’s fulfilling. And have adopted an even more free, passionate, and uninhibited sound in 2018.

PALE HEART ON TOUR
11/10/2018 Weil der Stadt – Groove Tonight
11/24/2018 Memmingen – Kaminwerk
11/30/2018 Regensburg – Alte Mälzerei
12/07/2018 Stuttgart – Merlin
12/11/2018 Aachen – TBA
12/12/2018 Köln – Blue Shell
12/13/2018 Bayreuth – TBA
12/22/2018 Stuttgart – Waagenhallen
12/26/2018 Erfurt – Museumskeller
01/05/2019 Ulm – Hexenhaus
01/07/2019 Bamberg – Live Club
01/19/2019 Winnenden – Juze

Pale Heart is:
Marc Bauer (Guitar, Vocals)
Nico Bauer (Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes Piano, Moog Synthesizer, Moog Bass)
Marvin Schaber (Drums, but former drummer Sebastian Neumeier plays on “Jungleland”)

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Pale Heart on Instagram

Pale Heart on Bandcamp

StoneFree Records website

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StoneFree Records on Spotify

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Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Medicine: Walking Trails

Posted in Reviews on July 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bees-made-honey-in-the-vein-tree-medicine

Primarily, Medicine feels like an exploration of depth. Not just in the sense of asking how low they can go in terms of tone, but what kind of distance can they set up between those lows and highs, how far can a song stretch from one end to the other before, like taffy, it is pulled apart. Excitingly, the cumbersomely-named Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree (as opposed, one assumes, to doing so in the lion’s skull, à la Earth) never find out, and their five-song/46-minute first full-length stands among 2017’s strongest — and most weighted — heavy psychedelic releases as a result. The Stuttgart, Germany, four-piece recorded Medicine late in Fall 2016 at Milberg Studios and issued it themselves digitally and on CD in January, but a Pink Tank Records vinyl edition brings it to a well-deserved wider distribution and positions the work of guitarist/vocalist/cover artist Simon Weinreich, guitarist Lucas Dreher, bassist/graphic designer Christopher Popowitsch and drummer/vocalist Marc Dreher (relation to Lucas presumed) as particularly satisfying in its blend of extended, jammed-out instrumental sections and denser tonality.

Without losing sight of their core mission, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree proffer liquefied flow between and within their tracks, coming across as cohesive and patient as a cut like the 14-minute penultimate “Sail Away I” demonstrates in unfolding lines of intertwining guitar and bass held together by the underlying drums on a steady, immersive build that’s warm, headphone-ready, melodically rich and hypnotic without being meandering. Medicine works quickly in that song’s echoing spaces and those of the 10-minute opener “Every Night I Walk the Same Trail of Thought” to earn a place as one of the best debuts of the year.

One can hear the influence of Colour Haze in some of the more open stretches, and that never hurts, but even more than the Munich-based progenitors of the style, Medicine directly reminds of the 2010 debut from Dutch trio Sungrazer. That’s not a comparison I make lightly, and while some of the fuzz that coats the driving first crescendo (preceding the crashing second one) of “Sail Away I” might draw a sonic line in that direction, it’s one even more about the act of blending heavy rock and psych impulses in a specific way and with an overarching naturalism that becomes a righteously defining element. If I note that Medicine might be the most engaging heavy psych debut I’ve heard since Sungrazer‘s self-titled, it will invariably sound like hyperbole, but I’m hard pressed to think of more than a handful of first offerings that have brought forth the same clearheaded idea of what they wanted to do and realize it in the same way. If nothing else, it sets Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree on a path of becoming a truly special kind of band, and one whose impact, in the tradition of Samsara Blues Experiment or Black Moon Circle or others building memorable songs out of jams, may resonate over a longer term.

bees made honey in the vein tree

Structurally, Medicine benefits greatly from starting its two sides with the longer pieces. “Every Night I Walk the Same Trail of Thought” begins so quietly that at first one might be tempted to double-check that it’s actually playing, and while neither “Burn the Sun” (7:40) nor “Medicine” (6:38) slouches in terms of runtime, there’s a notable departure from the shimmering guitar that sounds the opener’s first notes toward crunchier-riffed push as “Burn the Sun” gets moving. There’s still space for space, to be sure, but even as the guitars air out leads late before turning to the heads-down riff that brings the song to its end, there’s an undercurrent of low-end heft behind them that makes for both counterpoint and complement. Likewise, the title-cut and centerpiece launches open and jammy to foreshadow some of the post-rock elements still to come in closer “Sail Away II” (6:54), but makes its way after the two-minute mark via feedback into a heavier plod that would seem to be the source of the band’s claim on an aspect of doom within their approach. It’s slow and heavy, anyhow. In context, the mood doesn’t necessarily feel down or dark in the way one might expect, but to quibble about self-imposed genre tags feels like missing the point. There’s a fluidity there. Better to go with it.

And Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree make a convincing argument for doing so, which turns out to be one of Medicine‘s great strengths. Its tracks earn the listener’s trust such that following the band along the trail they’re walking becomes an absolute joy rather than something done tentatively, and the jammier vibe of “Sail Away I” and willful delve into post-rocking drift in “Sail Away II” gracefully expand on what side A accomplishes before them, “Sail Away I” resolving itself in blown-out echoing vocals and a nodding apex, and the finale holding to its peaceful guitar progression even as some of Medicine‘s heftiest lumbering plays out beneath. That last emphasis on the two sides meeting head on in Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree‘s work serves to highlight the duality at work across the album’s entirety, but it’s not a staid thing by any means, and it wouldn’t work if it was.

The band are clearly comfortable in adjusting the balance to suit the needs of their material, and whether that’s done consciously in arranging parts and pieces or something that just comes out of different jams, it’s no less crucial to Medicine‘s ultimate success. There’s a telling moment after “Sail Away II” has blissed itself into final lines of fading guitar when we hear a chair creak and what sounds like drum sticks get laid down. It’s over. These quick, last few seconds are an effective acknowledgement that Medicine is intended to convey a live experience — it may well have been recorded live, I don’t know — and Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, who’ve already proliferated such an organic chemistry, seem to hint that along with the exploration of spaciousness at work throughout their material, the corresponding message with that is that the direction in which they’re headed has been plotted naturally, i.e. in an unforced manner. One can only hope they continue to tread the path Medicine lays out before them.

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Medicine (2017)

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Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree on Bandcamp

Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree at Pink Tank Records

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Deaf Proof and Holistic Hobos Release Split

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

One never really knows where German outfit Deaf Proof are going to wind up on a release until they get there. This time around, the Freiburg trio come down to earth to meet up with the progressively-styled Holistic Hobos for a three-tracks-each split offering that brings out a heavy side of both. For Holistic Hobos, this marks their first outing since their 2013 Let Loose be Free EP, while Deaf Proof take a much different turn than the extended improv jams they brought out for 2015’s Blood Red Sky Sessions (review here), going for a more straightforward overall sound.

It’s my first listen to Holistic Hobos, and gives a positive impression of the four-piece. The two bands complement each other well on the six tracks, as you can hear via the players below, hoisted from the respective Bandcamp pages. Note that the physical version is CD digipak and that it’s limited to 100 copies. Just in case you were thinking you had time on it, you probably don’t.

Release announcement looks an awful lot like this:

deaf proof holistic hobos split

Deaf Proof Holistic Hobos Split

Two heavy rocking bands of stony south-west-german origin gather to release some of their new tunes together on a split album.

Come on, there’s a fuzz-split-monstrosity emerging from south-west Germany: The Holistic Hobos from Stuttgart present their latest compositions. These are quiet psychedelic, sometimes grungy and with NWOBHM-style twin-guitars, always diversified and heavy. In the end it’s more than stoner and doom, if Baroness comes to your mind, this is more than reasonable.

The Freiburg trio Deaf Proof puts aside the jammy moments and most of the FX this time, only the fuzz pedal is cranked to 11, so the boys are rockin’ straightforward and kickin’ ass hard: Ouch ;) !

Hard facts: Limited, hand numbered digipak, 100 pieces, 50 per band, buy for 7€ + shipping via stuff@deafproof.de or contact: https://www.facebook.com/holistichobos.

https://deafproof.bandcamp.com/
https://holistichobos.bandcamp.com/

Deaf Proof, split with Holistic Hobos (2016)

Holistic Hobos, split with Deaf Proof (2016)

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