Desertfest London 2016: Blood Ceremony, Oranssi Pazuzu, Witchsorrow, Bast and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

desertfest london 2016 header

Seems like a few festivals aren’t ready to let the year end quite yet, which is fair enough. Desertfest London 2016 has unveiled a slew of new acts for its lineup — enough to fill a whole other stage and then some — and along with Monomyth, who were previously announced as taking part in Desertfest Berlin as well, the DesertScene crew has seen fit to bring aboard Pelican, Blood CeremonyBastWitchsorrowDusertoidLionize, impressive upstarts Sunder and others. It was a packed bill before. Now it’s a more packed bill. Funny how that works.

Here’s the latest with Happy Holiday wishes from the PR wire:

desertfest london 2016 poster

Pelican, Asteroid, Blood Ceremony and more added to the DESERTFEST LONDON 2016 lineup!

Jingle bells, jingle bells… The DESERTFEST LONDON promoters have one more treat for you before Christmas, with thirteen more bands confirmed to play the festival in Camden this spring, including the Old Empire Stage lineup that will be hosted at the Electric Ballroom on the Sunday.

Like the previous edition, DESERTFEST LONDON 2016 will broaden its horizon by bringing an alternative darker edge to the lineup. London’s independent promoters Old Empire will thus take over the Electric Ballroom on May 1st, with industrial metallers GODFLESH headlining the stage, plus five fantastically heavy acts including BLOOD CEREMONY, ORANSSI PAZUZU, BAST and WITCHSORROW.

As a mouth-watering addition, ten other delightful acts are added to the weekend, with Illinois legendary dream rock merchants PELICAN, Ukraine’s finest stoner trio STONED JESUS, as well as grooving rock’n’rollers LIONIZE, French proto-rockers SUNDER, UK’s post-doom outfit OHHMS, DUSTEROID, MONOMYTH, BLACK PUSSY and POSEIDON.

– DESERTFEST LONDON 2016 –
April 29th to May 1st in Camden, London (UK)
Weekend tickets available AT THIS LOCATION

Current lineup is as follows:
ELECTRIC WIZARD – CORROSION OF CONFORMITY w/ Pepper Keenan PELICAN – GODFLESH – CROWBAR – TRUCKFIGHTERS – BLOOD CEREMONY – ELDER – EGYPT – CONAN – ORANSSI PAZUZU – WO FAT – MOTHERSHIP – MONOLORD – ROTOR – ASTEROID – RAGING SPEEDHORN – STONED JESUS – LIONIZE – PLANET OF ZEUS – MONOMYTH – BLACK PUSSY – WITCHSORROW – OHHMS – SUNDER – DUSTEROID – BAST – POSEIDON

https://www.leedstickets.com/eventinfo/4804/Desertfest-2016
http://www.thedesertfest.com/london/
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://instagram.com/desertfest
http://desertfest.bigcartel.com/

Pelican, “Immutable Dusk” live on Sound Opinions

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2015

Posted in Features on December 18th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

top 20 debuts of 2015 1

Please note: This list is not culled in any way from the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2015 to that, please do.

I’ll note right away that this list started out as a top 10. When it came to it, it didn’t seem fair to cut it off. Too much left out. It gets to a point where you look at your list of honorable mentions and it’s like three times as long as your list itself and you realize maybe you should up the numbers and give a few more records their due. So yeah, a top 20 it is.

The temptation with a list like this, especially since it’s dealing with bands working on their first full-length albums (EPs are counted separately), is to think of it as indicative of future movement overall, to try and measure some overarching trend from some of the best outings of the year. I’m not sure that’s a fair approach either to the bands who made these records or to everyone else who might come after, but if we step back and look at what’s presented in the list below, we see veterans resurfacing in new incarnations, new, young groups coming together with classic ideologies, a bit of heavy extremity, psych melding with pop, heavy rock going prog and much more.

What all that tells me is that notions like “underground” and “heavy,” these vague terms that get applied so liberally, are constantly expanding. Whatever their individual sound might be, these bands all pushed ahead an overarching stylistic progression in whatever they’re doing, and like the best of debut albums, they held promise for further growth beyond this already impressive output. It’s less about which seems like an immediate landmark, touchstone, whatever, than it is about what sets up and effectively begins that development going forward, though striking a chord in the present never hurts either.

To that end, here we go:

brothers of the sonic cloth brothers of the sonic cloth

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2015

1. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
2. Death Alley, Black Magick Boogieland
3. Cigale, Cigale
4. Kind, Rocket Science
5. Fogg, High Testament
6. Crypt Sermon, Out of the Garden
7. CHRCH, Unanswered Hymns
8. With the Dead, With the Dead
9. Demon Head, Ride the Wilderness
10. Sacri Monti, Sacri Monti
11. Stars that Move, Stars that Move
12. Chiefs, Tomorrow’s Over
13. Sunder, Sunder
14. Ecstatic Vision, Sonic Praise
15. Bison Machine, Hoarfrost
16. Serial Hawk, Searching for Light
17. Cloud Catcher, Enlightened Beyond Existence
18. Khemmis, Absolution
19. Sumac, The Deal
20. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, The Devil and the Almighty Blues

Honorable Mention

By way of honorable mentions, first I have to give a nod to Foehammer‘s self-titled debut EP, which would be on this list probably in the top five if not the top three were it not for the fact that, as noted, it’s an EP. Its list will come. The 2015 release of Horsehunter‘s self-titled on Magnetic Eye was killer as well, but since the album initially came out in 2014, it didn’t seem fair to include it in the list proper.

Releases from Killer Boogie, Snowy DunesSweat LodgePlanes of SatoriDoctoR DooMLasers from Atlantis and Lords of Beacon House (I heard the EP, not the LP) also provided thrills a-plenty, and while I recognize that sounds like sarcasm, please rest assured it’s not. I’m sure there are others, and as always, I reserve the right to tweak mentions and numbers over the next however many days, weeks, years, etc.

Notes

There wasn’t much mystery to this one for me. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth held onto that top spot for most of the year, and it seemed like no matter what came along, the wall of sound that Tad Doyle and company built on that record simply would not be torn down. As oppressive in tone as it is in atmosphere, it was a long-awaited debut that produced devastating results the ripples from which I expect will continue to resonate well into 2016 and beyond.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth is one example of a veteran presence finding a new home, as several did this year. See also, Sumac with former members of IsisEcstatic Vision with players from A Life Once LostWith the Dead with members of Cathedral and Ramesses coming together for the first time, Kind drawing its lineup from the likes of RoadsawMilligramRozamov and Elder, and even groups like Sunder, who previously released an album together under the moniker The Socks before abandoning that project in favor of the current one, as well as Sacri Monti, with a member from Radio Moscow in tow, Cigale, who had two members from SungrazerStars that Move which sprang from Starchild, and Death Alley with members of MührGewapend Beton and The Devil’s Blood showcased how one band flows out of another and out of another, and so on.

That Death Alley debut had charm worthy of its title — which was also my favorite of the year — and showed the potential of that band to set up a real stylistic range going forward. I hope they continue to expand, get a little weird and freaked out and keep that core of songwriting and forward drive that makes Black Magick Boogieland so propulsive. For new bands, Cigale‘s self-titled was beautiful, but would later become tinged with tragedy following the death of guitarist/vocalist Rutger Smeets earlier this year. Not to mention friends and family, his is a significant loss for European psychedelia as a whole, and while that was inarguably one of the low points of 2015, the album itself remains a gorgeous statement.

Young acts like FoggDemon HeadBison MachineSunderCloud Catcher and even Sacri Monti showcased varied takes on classic heavy, some more into boogie and jams and some looking for something a little rougher edged. Cloud Catcher‘s progressive take was a particularly pleasant surprise, while Sunder‘s psychedelia teemed with melody and a cohesive presence born out of what could’ve been unhinged otherwise. Between these, the heavy riffing of The Devil and the Almighty Blues and Serial Hawk, the formative fuzz of Chiefs, the resonant doom of Khemmis and the righteous traditionalism of Crypt Sermon, the notion of genres and subgenres as an ever-expanding universe seemed to be playing out on a weekly basis.

This, invariably, leads to new extremes, which in turn brings me to CHRCH. Like Foehammer, whose EP is in honorable mentions, the Unanswered Hymns long-player from CHRCH was a bright spot especially for how little light it seemed to let escape its abyssal grasp. They’re an easy bet for a band to catch on because they’ve garnered a formidable response already, but what sticks out to me most about them is the sense of pushing established parameters into fresh territory. What they’ll do in the months and years to come of course remains to be seen — they could break up tomorrow; it happens — but where a group like Primitive Man are almost singularly based on extremity of pummel and brutality (not to take away from them), CHRCH have the space in their sound for a multi-faceted progression, and that’s a huge part of what made Unanswered Hymns so encouraging.

I know there were many more debut LPs than these released this year, and even more debuts that were EPs and demos of note and things like that. The reason I single out debut albums for a list is because it’s among the most pivotal offerings a band can make. You’ll never get to release a second debut record. Some bands never live theirs down, some never attain quite the same level again and struggle with it for decades. Either way, it’s no small thing to get a group together and bring it to the point of putting out a first long-player, and that accomplishment in itself, regardless of the results, is worth highlighting.

No doubt I’ve left a few excellent offerings out. I hope you’ll let me know in the comments what debut albums landed hardest with you in 2015. In any case, thanks for reading.

 

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audiObelisk Transmission 055

Posted in Podcasts on December 14th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Before we get to all the tracks and this and that, I have to say, this double-size year-end podcast was an absolute pleasure to put together. Fun. Actual fun. I don’t know if it was the preponderance of excellent songs to work from that came out in 2015 or what, but I had a really good time making my way through the near-four-hour run, and I hope you feel that way too as you listen.

It should go without mentioning, but I’ll give the disclaimer anyway that this is in no way, shape or form a complete rundown of everything awesome produced this year. My own Top 10 has bands on it who aren’t represented here, so if you don’t see something you think belongs in the mix below — looking at you, Baroness fans — please keep in mind that it’s not my intent to offer anything more than a partial summary. Otherwise, I’d have to make it a year long.

Thanks for listening if you get the chance to do so, and if there’s something here you haven’t yet checked out, I hope you dig it. The flow is pretty easy front to back, but we get into some more extreme stuff in the third hour for a bit before going grand with Elder and the “Digestive Raga” from Øresund Space Collective, which seemed an appropriate way to end off giving everyone a chance to process what’s just been heard. Please enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:
0:00:00 Acid King, “Red River” from Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
0:08:24 Clutch, “Firebirds” from Psychic Warfare
0:11:23 Bloodcow, “Crystals and Lasers” from Crystals and Lasers
0:14:28 Stoned Jesus, “Rituals of the Sun” from The Harvest
0:21:25 Ufomammut, “Plouton” from Ecate
0:24:33 Geezer, “So Tired” from The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter One Split w/ Borracho
0:32:36 Wizard Eye, “Thunderbird Divine” from Wizard Eye
0:37:40 Mondo Drag, “Crystal Visions Open Eye” from Mondo Drag
0:42:08 Fogg, “Seasons” from High Testament
0:48:26 Goatsnake, “Grandpa Jones” from Black Age Blues
0:53:02 Snail, “Thou Art That” from Feral

Second Hour:
1:03:17 Sergio Ch., “Las Piedras” from 1974
1:06:40 All Them Witches, “Blood and Sand – Milk and Endless Waters” from Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
1:13:54 Death Hawks, “Ripe Fruits” from Sun Future Moon
1:18:45 Colour Haze, “Call” from To the Highest Gods We Know
1:26:46 Kadavar, “Last Living Dinosaur” from Berlin
1:30:50 Spidergawd, “Fixing to Die Blues” from Spidergawd II
1:35:02 The Machine, “Dry End” from Offblast!
1:38:01 The Midnight Ghost Train, “Straight to the North” from Cold was the Ground
1:42:00 Kind, “Pastrami Blaster” from Rocket Science
1:48:29 Valley, “Dream Shooter, Golden!” from Sunburst
1:54:22 Graveyard, “From a Hole in the Wall” from Innocence and Decadence
1:58:09 Demon Head, “Book of Changes” from Ride the Wilderness

Third Hour:
2:02:50 Egypt, “Endless Flight” from Endless Flight
2:12:29 Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, “Empires of Dust” from Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
2:20:09 With the Dead, “I am Your Virus” from With the Dead
2:25:45 Ahab, “Red Foam (The Great Storm)” from The Boats of the Glen Carrig
2:32:08 Kings Destroy, “Mr. O” from Kings Destroy
2:36:37 Sun and Sail Club, “Dresden Firebird Freakout” from The Great White Dope
2:38:33 Sunder, “Wings of the Sun” from Sunder
2:42:41 Weedpecker, “Into the Woods” from Weedpecker II
2:50:50 Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Pusher Man” from The Night Creeper
2:56:26 Eggnogg, “Slugworth” from Sludgy Erna Bastard split w/ Borracho

Fourth Hour:
3:02:48 Golden Void, “Astral Plane” from Berkana
3:09:34 Elder, “Lore” from Lore
3:25:24 Øresund Space Collective, “Digestive Raga” from Different Creatures

Total running time: 3:55:26

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 055

 

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Sunder, Sunder: Lucid Dreams (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

sunder sunder

[Note: Press play above to hear Sunder’s Sunder in full. It’s out tomorrow, Oct. 30, on Tee Pee and Crusher Records. Preorders are available from Tee Pee, at iTunes or on Amazon.]

Don’t call it a reboot. More like a do-over, maybe. The story goes like this: Early in 2014, a band from Lyon, France, called The Socks released their self-titled debut (review here) on Small Stone Records. Good album. Very much in the post-Kadavar/Graveyard retro-boogie vein, but ably executed, particularly for a young band on their first LP. About a year and a half later, that same band — identical lineup: guitarist/vocalist Julien Méret, drummer Jessy Ensenat, bassist Vincent Melay and organist/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud — reemerge as Sunder, and take a second shot at a self-titled debut, this time through Tee Pee and Crusher Records.

Near as I can tell, the major jump is in Baud swapping out a guitar for keys, but one of the most striking aspects of Sunder‘s first album is that it really is far enough away from what these guys were doing as The Socks to justify being a different band. Songs like the fortified opening salvo of “Deadly Flower,” “Daughter of the Snows” and “Cursed Wolf” — which were also included on Sunder‘s demo (review here) earlier this year — give the listener an immediately fuller sense of breadth, incorporating elements culled from earlier psychedelic and garage rock, less directly indebted to one band or another than to an aesthetic itself that, while undeniably drawn from these decades-old tenets, sounds refreshing for the nuance and melody with which Sunder carry it. If this is a do-over, they’re doing it right.

As with their prior incarnation, Sunder‘s debut arrives with remarkably little pretense. Its nine tracks comprise a thoroughly manageable 33:43, and from the beginning organ line and fuzz of “Deadly Flower” (video premiere here), the foursome maintain an efficient balance of resonant hooks, open vibe and pervasive groove. Nothing’s overcooked, but the material feels thought through and vocal arrangements tap Beatles-style harmonies without falling into a post-Uncle Acid trap, and while “Daughter of the Snows” has some of that Graveyardian swing, Sunder bring more than enough of their own personality to make the shuffle fit with the surrounding material, “Cursed Wolf” playing back and forth on the throttle early before shifting into a sun-caked midsection fuzz jam that seems like it’s going to be a departure point for a build but winds up trailing back to the verse and chorus to close — just a little break from reality, then. A welcome one at that.

sunder

“Wings of the Sun” is complementary in its trippy spirit and vocal harmonies, natural sounding but still leaving space for Ensenat‘s drums to thud out an easily-followed beat or for Baud‘s organ to bolster the overarching lysergic nostalgia, which presents a mood much more 1966 than 1971, leaning well over the cusp of the psychedelic era as though — not to harp on it — trying to capture a moment between Rubber Soul and Revolver, plus the organ and minus the cynicism that would later inform what became heavy rock. Sunder‘s Sunder has several legitimately gorgeous stretches, and “Wings of the Sun” is one of them.

Centerpiece “Bleeding Trees” follows and is perhaps even more of an accomplishment, since not only does it bask in the same warmth as the song before it, but it pushes that warmth to a weightier purpose. A darker turn in the verse, shoutier in its bridge, more direct in its choral fullness, “Bleeding Trees” brings out Mellotron backing for a high-point guitar solo and is still done in under four minutes, setting a quick return to the sun with “Eye Catcher,” an A-side in the making that freaks out on fuzz in its first half and goes buzzsaw in its second, all while keeping a fast pace and holding firm to the energy Sunder have shown throughout.

Méret presides over the subsequent “Thunder and Storm” with crisp frontman presence, though the backing he receives from the layered keys and Ensenat‘s what-did-the-drum-do-to-deserve-such-a-beating snare is not to be understated. These quick bursts in “Eye Catcher” and “Thunder and Storm” help propel Sunder‘s second half, but also add to the complexity of the first, expanding the album’s opening progression by showing the band aren’t necessarily beholden to one tack or another. The dynamic is emphasized in the slowdown of  the love-lorn “Don’t Leave it Behind,” an open crash, choice key line and balance in the high and low end showing just how deep in the mix Sunder can do while Méret — if I’m not mistaken — turns the vocals backwards from within the swirl. Closing out, the swaggering roll of “Lucid Dreams” is as close as they come to the five-minute mark at 4:51 and a legitimately earned victory lap through another memorable chorus.

It’s no small thing for a band to stop what they’re doing, look around them, decide they want to be somewhere else sonically, and then actually make that change happen. Not only to do it, but to do it without changing a lineup. Sunder‘s first LP is a standout release for the context in which it arrives, but it’s the songwriting and the potential the band shows in their arrangements that make it one of 2015’s strongest debuts, as brazen as it is completely realized. One hopes in listening to it that MéretBaudMelay and Ensenat have found the place they’ll call home in terms of style, because what they’re doing across these tracks suits them well and seems to be ripe for any number of avenues for future progression.

Sunder on Thee Facebooks

Sunder at Tee Pee Records

Sunder at Crusher Records

Preorder at Amazon

Preorder on iTunes

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Sunder Announce Oct. 30 Release Date for Self-Titled Debut

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

sunder

French heavy psych rockers Sunder will make an anticipated debut on Oct. 30 with their self-titled on Tee Pee Records. The four-piece, formerly known as The Socks and having released a self-titled (review here) under that moniker on Small Stone last year, seem to be departing from the straight-ahead boogie of their old band in favor of more ethereal vibes. The album’s release will follow a run through Europe alongside Harsh Toke that includes a stop at Desertfest Belgium 2015, as well as a flexi-single issued for the track “Cursed Wolf” that came out on Sept. 11.

Album details and those tour dates follow, as seen on the PR wire:

sunder sunder

SUNDER to Release Self-Titled Debut Album October 30

Heavy Psych Four-Piece Premieres New Single “Cursed Wolf”

French heavy psychedelic rock band SUNDER will release its self-titled debut album on October 30 via Tee Pee Records (and in Europe / Japan via Crusher Records). Formerly known as The Socks, the group is known for its edgy, electric sound that draws from the heavier side of 1960’s / 70’s rock and swings with acid grooves. SUNDER, who has performed live with like-minded bands such as Earthless, Danava and Radio Moscow, will tour Europe this October with new Tee Pee label mates Harsh Toke.

In advance of the album’s release, SUNDER has issued the new single “Cursed Wolf” as a special silver foil stamped 7” flexi disc.

“It’s with great pleasure and pride to be part of two of the most amazing heavy/psych labels in the world,” said the band in a statement. “The Socks were of Lyon, France. Sunder is of the world and it is with the sounds of Sunder that the shores of the world will be plundered.”

Track listing:

1.) Deadly Flower
2.) Cursed Wolf
3.) Daughter of the Snows
4.) Wings of the Sun
5.) Bleeding Trees
6.) Eye Catcher
7.) Thunder and Storm
8.) Don’t Leave it Behind
9.) Lucid Dreams

SUNDER features Julien Méret (guitar / vocals) Jessy Ensenat (drums), Vincent Melay (bass) and Nicolas Baud (Farfisa, Mellotron, backing vocals).

HARSH TOKE and SUNDER on tour
Oct. 01 – Holland, Landgraaf – Oefenbunker
Oct. 02 – Germany, Siegen – Vortex
Oct. 03 – Germany, Mannheim – mohawk club
Oct. 04 – Germany, Kassel – Goldgrube
Oct. 05 – France, Paris – La Mecanique Ondulatoire
Oct. 06 – France, Lyon – Ayers Rock Boat
Oct. 07 – France, Strasbourg – Mudd Club
Oct. 08 – Germany, Köln – Limes
Oct. 09 – Germany, wurzburg -Immerhin
Oct. 10 – Belgium, Antwerp – Desertfest
Oct. 11 – Germany, Berlin – Bassy
Oct. 12 – Austria, Vienna – Arena
Oct. 13 – Germany, Munich – Backstage
Oct. 14- Germany, Lichtenfels – Paunchy Cats
Oct. 15 – Swiss, Horstklub – Kreuzlingen
Oct. 16 – Swiss, Olten – Le Coq D´Or

https://www.facebook.com/officialsunder
teepeerecords.com/products/

Sunder, “Cursed Wolf”

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Harsh Toke and Sunder Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 19th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Rules. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been quietly hoping for news of Harsh Toke putting together a follow-up to their 2013 Tee Pee Records debut Light up and Live, but if that’s not forthcoming, word that the San Diego jammers are headed back to Europe for a run alongside their newcomer labelmates Sunder is a more than decent consolation prize. Still wouldn’t mind some album news, but I’ll take what I can get.

Sunder‘s first release for Tee Pee is set to be a flexi 7″ that’s due out Sept. 11. They’ll reportedly have more to follow. They had two records out under their former moniker, The Socks, so they’re not exactly a brand new band, but it should be interesting to hear when the time comes what aesthetic shifts surface to go along with the name change. Their demo (review here) was right on.

Tour info culled from the information superhighway:

harsh toke sunder euro tour

HARSH TOKE & SUNDER // european tour // October 2015

Swamp Booking, Vivarium Music Group, Crusher Records and Tee Pee Records proudly present:

HARSH TOKE and SUNDER on tour
Oct. 01 – Holland, Landgraaf – Oefenbunker
Oct. 02 – Germany, Siegen – Vortex
Oct. 03 – Germany, Mannheim – mohawk club
Oct. 04 – Germany, Kassel – Goldgrube
Oct. 05 – France, Paris – La Mecanique Ondulatoire
Oct. 06 – France, Lyon – Ayers Rock Boat
Oct. 07 – France, Strasbourg – Mudd Club
Oct. 08 – Germany, Köln – Limes
Oct. 09 – Germany, wurzburg -Immerhin
Oct. 10 – Belgium, Antwerp – Desertfest
Oct. 11 – Germany, Berlin – Bassy
Oct. 12 – Austria, Vienna – Arena
Oct. 13 – Germany, Munich – Backstage
Oct. 14- Germany, Lichtenfels – Paunchy Cats
Oct. 15 – Swiss, Horstklub – Kreuzlingen
Oct. 16 – Swiss, Olten – Le Coq D´Or

HARSH TOKE
SAN DIEGO – USA

Psychedelic rockers HARSH TOKE explore sound and space through music. On the San Diego Acid Rock band’s debut album Light Up and Live, loud, heavy guitars, swimming bass lines and smashing drums warp to full throttle, working together to launch the group’s “Haze Maze” of unapologetic psychedelic-blues into interstellar overdrive. Recorded by Brian Ellis (also of the prog-rock band ASTRA) and mastered by Carl Saff (Earthless, OFF!, Unsane)

HARSH TOKE are equal parts atmospheric and anarchic, merging raging, blind fury musicianship with unprecedented white-knuckle volume abuse. Tense and surreal, HARSHTOKES’ songs slowly build from hallucinatory haze into grand overtures of noise and feedback; a cosmic buffet of pounding, pummeling and punishing planes of sound. Heavy. Cosmic. Kinetic.

HARSH TOKE lay down sizzling grooves with every needle on the soundboard pinned to the red. If Blue Cheer could be called “Louder than God” in 1968, forty five years later, HARSH TOKE can easily be pegged as “Louder than Satan.” Run for your lives – into the din.

https://www.facebook.com/theHARSHTOKEgoons/
http://teepeerecords.com/bands/harsh_toke/index.php

SUNDER
LYON – FRANCE

The Gods of Rock have seen fit to bestow upon the masses a reincarnation of the psychedelic force previously known as The Socks.

Comprising the same lineup, this incarnation of reverberation that goes by the name ofSunder is destined to sell out stadiums throughout the world, splitting heads through the ears with their brand of thunderous, heavy rock.

Signed to Crusher Records in Europe and Tee Pee Records in the States, Sunder is poised to leave their mark the world over.

https://www.facebook.com/officialsunder
http://teepeerecords.com/pages/sunder

https://www.facebook.com/events/1463924630575826/

Harsh Toke, “Light up and Live”

Sunder, “Deadly Flower” (Demo)

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Desertfest Belgium 2015 Adds Goatsnake, Dozer, Ruby the Hatchet, Sunder, Moon Duo and The Progerians to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2015 banner

Well shit, Desertfest. If you wanted me to come that badly, you could’ve just booked a flight. I’d show up. I guess going out and getting Goatsnake to headline is a pretty badass way to send the message as well though, so I won’t argue. I’m not sure I’ll actually be able to make it — do you have any idea how much a week in Europe costs? It’s insane — but it’s nice to feel wanted, even in this most abstract and completely imaginary of ways.

Along with Goatsnake, the golly-I-wish-they’d-do-another-record Swedish heavy rockers Dozer will be brought in for an appearance — oddly enough not accompanied by Lowrider — and Ruby the Hatchet, Sunder, Moon Duo and The Progerians have been added to the bill as well, which, if you’ll recall, wasn’t exactly hurting, with Ufomammut, Orange Goblin, Greenleaf, Siena Root and so on already confirmed.

Still, if the question is “Goatsnake?” then the answer is definitely Goatsnake.

This from the PR wire:

desertfest belgium 2015

Goatsnake, Dozer, Moon Duo and more added to the DESERTFEST BELGIUM lineup!

We are happy to announce that Californian sludge-blues royalty GOATSNAKE have been added to the DESERTFEST ANTWERP 2015 line-up! Additionally, we have confirmations for the touring beast that is DOZER, the face-melting psych of MOON DUO, those fine purveyors of stoner SUNDER and RUBY THE HATCHET, and another slice of Belgian psych with THE PROGERIANS. Spread the news!

Bands already confirmed are: Goatsnake, Orange Goblin, Fatso Jetson, Dozer, Moon Duo, Greenleaf, Valient Thorr, Ufomammut, Causa Sui, Siena Root, Glowsun, Carlton Melton, Child, Ruby The Hatchet, Planet Of Zeus, Psychonaut, The progerians, Wheel Of Smoke, Sunder, Fever Dog and 3rd Ear Experience.
More acts to be announced in the coming weeks…

DESERTFEST BELGIUM 2015
October 9-11th at Trix Muziekcentrum – Antwerp
3 day tickets (96€) on sale HERE

More infos at www.desertfest.be

After a great first edition that saw the likes of Electric Wizard, Brant Bjork, Yob, Kadavar tear down Antwerp, the DESERTFEST promoters decided to run their second Belgium edition this fall. Located in Antwerp outskirts, the Trix venue will once again host the world’s best heavy bands, spread over three stages drenched in that underground atmosphere we all love. Beware of the sandstorm!

https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium
https://twitter.com/desertfestBE
http://www.desertfest.be/

Goatsnake, Live in Glendale, CA, May 21, 2015

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Quarterly Review: Horsehunter, Church, Corpse Light, Sunder, T-Tops, The Space Merchants, Etiolated, Blown Out, Les Discrets, Beast Modulus

Posted in Reviews on June 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk summer quarterly review

Day one down and feeling good so far. Day two continues the thread of mixing more known quantities with bands either self-releasing or putting out demos, etc., and I like that. More than last time around — last quarter, if you want to use the business-y sounding language for it — I tried to really get a balance across this batch of reviews, posted yesterday and coming up over the next couple days. We’ll see how it works out when it’s over. It remains a ton of stuff, and I hope you dig it. Day two starts right now.

Quarterly review #11-20:

Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh

horsehunter caged in flesh

Pushing their way to the fore of Melbourne’s heavy surge, double-guitar four-piece Horsehunter proffer oppressive tonal crush on the four tracks of their 2LP Magnetic Eye Records debut, Caged in Flesh. The story goes that, unsatisfied the initial recordings weren’t heavy enough, the band – guitarists Michael Harutyanyan (also vocals) and Dan McDonald, bassist/vocalist Himi Stringer and drummer Nick Cron – went back into the studio and redid the entire thing. Mission accomplished. By the time 16-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Stoned to Death” is done, lungs are suitably deflated, spines are cracked, skulls cleaved, and so on. They’re hardly the only ones in the world to conjure formidable tonal heft, but it’s the deft changes in vocals – clean here, shouts there, more abrasive at the start of the title-track – and the sense of atmosphere in the three-minute penultimate interlude that really distinguish Horsehunter, as well as how smoothly that atmosphere integrates with the pummel in the second half of closer “Witchery,” attention to detail and awareness of the need for more than just sonic weight boding well for future progression.

Horsehunter on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

Church, Unanswered Hymns

church unanswered hymns

A staggeringly heavy debut full-length from Sacramento, CA, five-piece Church, Unanswered Hymns was initially released digitally by the band and quickly picked up for a cassette issue by Transylvanian Tapes and forthcoming LP through Battleground Records. One gets the sense listening to the three extended tracks – 19-minute opener “Dawning” being the longest of the bunch (immediate points) – that those won’t be the last versions to come. Psychedelic doom blends seamlessly with vicious sludge extremity, creating a morass engulfing in its tones, spacious in its breadth and unrepentantly heavy, making it one of 2015’s best debut releases, hands down, and a glorious revelry in bleak tectonics that challenges the listener to match its level of melancholy without giving into an impulse for post-Pallbearer emotive theatrics. As thrilling as they are plodding, expect the echoes of “Dawning,” “Stargazer” and “Offering” to resonate for some time to come, and should Church show any predilection for touring in the next couple years, they have the potential to make a genuine impact on American doom. Yes, I mean it.

Church on Thee Facebooks

Transylvanian Tapes

Battleground Records

Corpse Light, Without Form

corpse light without form

Recorded in a day and released by Grimoire Records, the four-track Without Form is slated as the debut from Baltimore atmospheric doomers Corpse Light, but the band have had tracks come out in drips and drabs since getting their start as Ophidian in mid-2012, even if this is their first proper release. Either way, “The Fool” sets up an immediate and grim ambience, the churning lurch from guitarists Keiran Holmes and Don Selner and bassist Aurora Raiten set to roll by Lawrence Grimes (The Osedax) and given earthy aggression by the vocals of Jim Webb. “Lying in State” fleshes out these morose aggro vibes, but it’s with the drop-everything-and-kill peak of the subsequent “R Complex” that Corpse Light hit their angriest mark. If Without Form was just about that, it would be the highlight, but the album’s 29 minutes have more to offer than pissed off tonally-weighted post-hardcore, as closer “Kenophobia”’s clever turns and deceptive forward momentum demonstrate, though a touch of that kind of thing never hurts either.

Corpse Light on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

Sunder, Demo

sunder demo

Heavy psych four-piece Sunder will make their debut this summer through Tee Pee and Crusher Records with a 7” for “Cursed Wolf,” so consider this notice of the tracks on their not-for-public-consumption demo a heads up on things to come. Their “Deadly Flower” was streamed here this past April, and the band’s previous incarnation, The Socks, released their self-titled debut (review here) on Small Stone in 2014, but with songs like the key-laced stomper “Bleeding Trees,” the ‘70s rusher “Against the Grain,” and the Uncle Acid-style swinging “Daughter of the Snows,” the Lyon, France, outfit continue to refine a style drawing together different vibes of the psychedelic era. “Deadly Flower” was also distinguished by its key work, and as for “Cursed Wolf” itself, the melody reminds of proto-psych Beatles singles (thinking “Rain” specifically), but the groove still holds firm to a sense of weight that’s thoroughly modern, and by that I mean it sounds like 1972. Keep an eye out.

Sunder on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records

T-Tops, T-Tops

t-tops t-tops

Granted not everyone is going to make this immediate association, but when I first saw the moniker T-Tops, I couldn’t help think of like C-grade generic stonerisms, songs about beer and pretending to be from the South and all that. If you experienced something similar in seeing the name, rest easy. The Pittsburgh trio of guitarist/vocalist Pat Waters (ex-The Fitt, Wormrigg), bassist Jason Orr (Wormrigg) and drummer Jason Jouver (ex-Don Caballero) are down with far more sinister punk and noise on their self-titled, self-released debut full-length, riding, shooting straight and speaking truth on cuts like “Wipe Down” and the catchy “Pretty on a Girl” after the tense sampling of “A Certain Cordial Exhilaration” turns over the power-push to “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’.” “Ralphie” is probably an inside-joke if not a Christmas Story reference, but point is these guys are way less about-to-sing-about-muscle-cars than the name implies and their tight, crisp rhythmic turns come accompanied by vicious tonal force and an utter lack of bullshit, which is a scenario far preferable to that which one might otherwise expect.

T-Tops on Thee Facebooks

T-Tops on Bandcamp

The Space Merchants, The Space Merchants

the space merchants the space merchants

Issued by Aqulamb in the imprint’s standard 100-page art book/download format, the self-titled debut from fellow Brooklynites The Space Merchants seeks to draw a line between psychedelic rock and country. And not pretend country like people with a Johnny Cash fetish because he covered that Nine Inch Nails song one time – actual, bright, pastoral, classic country. Call the results psychtwang and applaud the effort, which works oddly well in a thoroughly vintage context to come across on “Mainline the Sun” like something from a lost ‘60s variety show. Parts of “One Cut Like the Moon” and the later fuzz of “One Thousand Years of Boredom” give away their modernity, but The Space Merchants’ push toward a stylistic niche suits them well, and the intertwined vocal arrangements from guitarist Michael Guggino, bassist Aileen Brophy and keyboardist Ani MonteleoneCarter Logan drums to round out the four-piece – add to the rich, welcoming feel that remains prevalent even as the eight-minute “Where’s the Rest of Life” slips into wah-soaked noise to finish out.

The Space Merchants on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb on Bandcamp

Etiolated, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies

etoliated grey limbs grey skies

The undercurrent of black metal coursing beneath the surface of Etiolated’s debut full-length, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies, eventually comes to the surface in 10-minute opener “Internal Abyss” and 16-minute eponymous closer, which bookends, but in part it’s the tension of waiting for those rampaging surges that keeps one hooked to the Armus Productions release. Guttural death growls echo up from dense tonal reaches, and tempo shifts, whether in those longer tracks or three-minute lumbering slice “Futility” are fluid, the North Carolina five-piece executing a slow-grinding chug in centerpiece “Exsanguinate,” which seems like a murk without end until the 1:47 “For Your Hell” kicks into a speedier, more blackened rush, guest vocalist Ryan McCarthy joining guitarist/vocalists James Storelli and Walls, bassist Cody Rogers and drummer Elliot Thompson in furthering the already prevalent sense of extremism before “Etiolated,” after a surprisingly peaceful if brooding midsection, plods the album to a close. To say “not for the faint of heart” would be putting it lightly, but if I had a vest and if Etiolated had patches, the two parties would definitely meet up at some point in the near future.

Etiolated on Thee Facebooks

Armus Productions on Bandcamp

Blown Out, Planetary Engineering

blown out planetary engineering

It has not taken long for the discography of UK psych jammers Blown Out to become a populated murky cosmos of its own. Planetary Engineering is released on Oaken Palace Records and finds the three-piece of guitarist Mike Vest (also Bong, etc.), bassist John-Michael Hedley (also Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs) and drummer Matt Baty (also the head of Box Records) exploring two mesmeric and sprawling instrumentals – one per side – that bend and flourish and hypnotize in organically-concocted swirl. Side A’s “Transcending Deep Infinity” tops 20 minutes and shifts from its spacey build to a low key groove at about 7:30 in, pulsing forward once more amid head-turning repetition, deep echoes and longform nod, culminating in a two-minute fadeout that brings forward “Thousand Years in the Sunshine,” an immediate bass groove and interstellar swirl no less trance-inducing than its predecessor. Cyclical drum fills morph over time behind the guitar and bass, and Planetary Engineering seems to push continually further out until, of course, it disintegrates, presumably as it crosses the galactic barrier.

Blown Out on Thee Facebooks

Oaken Palace Records on Bandcamp

Les Discrets, Live at Roadburn

les discrets live at roadburn

I was fortunate enough to have been in attendance at Het Patronaat in Tilburg when French post-black metallers Les Discrets took the stage at Roadburn 2013. As such, it’s with some trepidation I approach their Live at Roadburn recording on Prophecy Productions – the impression they made live wasn’t something I’d want potentially spoiled or brought to earth by a document proving it was just another set. With Neige of Alcest on bass with guitarist/vocalist Fursy Teyssier, Les Discrets proved to be something really special to those who, like me, were there to catch them, and the eight-track Live at Roadburn – fortunately – captures both the majestic lushness they brought with them and the underlying weight that seemed to add impact to the material. What might sound like post-production mixing on “L’Echappée” or the wash of “Chanson D’Automne” isn’t – it really was that beautiful and that perfectly balanced coming from the stage. A vastly underrated act and a document that reminds of how stellar they were without sullying the memory in the slightest.

Les Discrets on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions

Beast Modulus, Beast Modulus

beast-modulus-beast-modulus

Brooklynite foursome Beast Modulus seem to care less about meshing with ideas of genre than sticking them in a meatgrinder and seeing what comes out. To wit the riotous chugging of “Cowboy Caligula,” and the blackened thrust of “WaSaBi!” on their self-released, self-titled outing, which leads to dueling growls and screams on the tonally weighted post-hardcore “Fabulous,” and the appropriately mathy turns of the thrashing “Tyranny of Numbers.” Inventive in their stylizations and in where the six songs included on the release actually go – hint: they go to “heavy” – the lineup of vocalist Kurt Applegate, guitarist Owen Burley, bassist Jesse Adelson and drummer Jody Smith have some post-Dillinger Escape Plan vibe in the calculated chaos of “Kalashnikov,” but closer “Killing Champion” is too impatient to even be held by that, the prevailing manic angularity of Beast Modulus ultimately crafting its own identity from the physical assault the music seems intent on perpetrating upon the listener.

Beast Modulus on Thee Facebooks

Beast Modulus on Bandcamp

 

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