Alunah Welcome New Vocalist Siân Greenaway; Live Debut this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Just about five weeks after it was announced that founding guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day was leaving Birmingham, UK, doomers Alunah and that the band would continue on in her absence with her husband, guitarist David Day and drummer Jake Mason as the remaining original members, the four-piece have confirmed adding Siân Greenaway as their new singer. Greenaway, whose CV includes handling guitar/vocals in the more uptempo Bear Legs and other groups, steps into Alunah after the release of their fourth and arguably broadest ranging album, Solennial (review here), was released earlier in 2017 as their first offering through Svart Records.

As Sophie Day‘s nature-themed lyrics were a big part of Alunah‘s forest doom aesthetic both on that record and in the past, a huge question that remains to be answered is what Greenaway will bring to the band in that regard. It seems like we might have a while before we find out. The band will make their live debut on Nov. 27 in Birmingham, supporting Royal Thunder, and look to tour in 2018 while also working to solidify new material over that time. It doesn’t seem like they’re rushing to get back in the studio, but then, they did just put a record out, so one wouldn’t necessarily expect them to anyhow.

More when I hear it, I guess, but until then, best of luck to Alunah, Greenaway included, as they head into this new era. Here’s a press release I wrote for the band to make it official:

alunah

Alunah Announce New Vocalist Siân Greenaway & Live Debut

Midlands, UK, doom rockers Alunah have announced the addition of vocalist Siân Greenaway to their lineup. The new incarnation of the four-piece will make their live debut on 27 November at Mama Roux’s in their native Birmingham, supporting Royal Thunder.

Tickets for that show can be purchased here: https://www.seetickets.com/event/royal-thunder/mama-roux-s/1147450

Greenaway joins Alunah after the stunning departure in September of founding vocalist/guitarist Sophie Day, who fronted the band across four full-length releases, the latest of which, Solennial, was issued earlier this year on Svart Records. In conjunction with Day’s leaving, Alunah vowed to press on, and with the arrival of Greenaway, they will look to tour in 2018 and begin writing material for their next album.

“I’m honoured to be part of Alunah,” enthuses Greenaway. “I look forward to being part of the future of the band and am excited to take it forward.”

Bassist Dan Burchmore echoed the sentiment: “We were instantly impressed with Siân’s vocal ability, passion and commitment. We feel she will be a welcome addition to the band and we can’t wait to see what 2018 holds.”

Tour dates for 2018 are forthcoming. Booking enquiries can be sent to booking@alunah.co.uk.

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
David Day – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums

http://www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
http://twitter.com/#!/alunah_doom
http://alunah.bandcamp.com
http://www.alunah.co.uk
http://www.svartrecords.com

Alunah, Solennial (2017)

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Opium Warlords Premiere “Year of 584 Days”; Droner out Nov. 3

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

opium warlords

Finnish experimentalist entity Opium Warlords releases its fourth album, Droner, on Nov. 3 via Svart Records. On and off for the last 13-plus years, Sami “Albert Witchfinder” Hynninen has used the one-man project as a vehicle for reveling in the sonically weird, producing and playing the vast majority of the instruments on records like 2009’s Live at Colonia Dignidad (not actually live; discussed here), 2012’s We Meditate Under the Pussy in the Sky, and 2014’s Taste My Sword of Understanding. Indeed, Droner follows suit in this regard, though where one might’ve found that compared to the rest of the Opium Warlords discography, Taste My Sword of Understanding was relatively straightforward, delving into structured material if doing so with a still exploratory bent, Droner steps well outside just about any and all stylistic confines with the three pieces included on Droner, and just when Hynninen seems to be making some kind of play toward the listenable, as on 19-minute closer “‘Closure,'” he immediately deep-dives into a wash of abrasive static noise that goes on to consume the track as a whole before a quiet ending caps the album like nothing ever happened. For those who might know him only through his work in Reverend Bizarre or Spiritus Mortis, it’s a considerable sonic leap off a considerable sonic cliff.

That said, the atmosphere is thoroughly one of doom, whatever salt burial Hynninen might be applying to that definition. Droner is comprised of three tracks — “Year of 584 Days” (20:33), “Samael Lilith” (20:27) and the aforementioned “‘Closure'” (18:54) — and each one of them is an album unto itself. Yes, drone is a huge part of it, perhaps nowhere more so than on “Year of 584 Days,” which sets the pattern in rumbling low end, initially sans percussive backing, and strange declarations from Hynninen on a post-opium warlords dronerWorld War II theme. The lyrics for that “song” — such as it is — and its two counterparts, are drawn from outside sources, and into the minimalist-feeling emptiness that permeates “Year of 584 Days,” Hynninen casts words from Finnish cultural historian Jouko Turkka. A suitably militaristic march of chains and stomping begins at about seven minutes in, and the declarations continue on the theme of Germans with flamethrowers, Hynninen drawing out pictures made all the more horrific because of the reality behind them. The minimalism has by then abated and it will continue to do so as the rumble moves into later progressions of guitar, key and bass droning, but right at about the 15-minute mark, the final movement of “Year of 584 Days” begins with a quiet guitar line and some subtle backing scrapes, and though volume will swell again, there’s a singularity to that moment that is no less vicious than the scathing to come in “‘Closure.'”

Between those two points is the curio “Samael Lilith,” which finds Hynninen reciting a ritual from the Congolese Ndembu culture designed around sexual intercourse and procreation. Its frank intonations of the vulva and the penis are no doubt intended as a shock piece for Western ears, and I guess they may or may not be, depending on one sensibilities as regards these things, but arrangement-wise, the SunnO)))-worthy drone that persists beneath and around Hynninen‘s spoken words is enough to add an otherworldly horror to the proceedings, making them all the more strange as notes are sustained into string-vibrating oblivion. Harsher noise takes hold late in the piece, skronking out in avant-jazz fashion until, at last, a straightforward ritualistic progression, different from the percussion and chants that started the track but still somehow tied to them, closes out. This brings the relatively folkish strum and vocals that begin “‘Closure,'” the lyrics for which come from midcentury artist/cultist Marjorie Cameron, whose ethereal invocations still come through as grandiose despite the relatively simple arrangement surrounding, which turns itself backward after eight minutes in to set the stage for the tearing apart that follows. The wash of noise — harsh, cruel — gives way to sparse bells of various kinds, percussive bowls and so on, and that’s how Droner finishes, finding peace at last.

The journey it has made by that point is significant both in runtime and in the substance of how that runtime is spent, but Hynninen proves himself able to act as the master of the chaos he’s bringing to bear throughout, and his central presence at the heart of Droner is what ultimately ties it to a feeling of craft. It is a deeply expressive performance piece, culled together in its various elements and layers, and very much in keeping with the nature of Opium Warlords as a whole, completely unto itself in sound, style and execution. You will not hear anything else like it.

Please enjoy “Year of 584 Days” premiering below, followed by more info from the PR wire:

Sami Hynninen on “Year of 584 Days”:

“What could I say about this song… it is about hydrogen bomb, and the total war. It is the clear world of devastation and torture. All senses are awake when you face the presence of pain and death. You are reborn to the battlefield and flames and terror. Everything you had before has been wiped away. You are alone and lost to a nightmare that has no end. The sun won’t rise again. Your home, and the pictures of your loved ones are now ashes, but you have to force yourself to go on. You just have to go on.”

After three wilderness years with doom gods Spiritus Mortis and Lord Vicar, electronic warriors Tähtiportti, and black metal sorcerers Azrael Rising, Sami Albert “Witchfinder” Hynninen is back in business with Opium Warlords. On November 3rd, Opium Warlords shall release Droner through Svart Records.

Droner is the fourth Opium Warlords album, and it brings Hynninen’s uncompromising musical vision to its most sparse form. It is noisy lo-fi riff music consisting only of particles unquestionably necessary, but at the same time with a musical spectrum that is very wide and open. It is experimental and avant-garde, still with roots deep in the very heart of heavy rock music. It is concrete blues, diving to the existence and the smallest molecular spheres of minimal riffs, and what seems to be an endless repetition of them. From these rather skeletal elements, it occasionally reaches neo-classical, even medieval spheres and death-romantic chambers of apocalyptic folk. Onto all of this, disturbing lyrics are chanted by unnamed, hostile protagonists.

Opium Warlords on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on YouTube

Svart Records on Twitter

Droner at Svart Records webstore

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Opium Warlords: New Album Droner Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

opium warlords

The fourth album from Opium Warlords, Droner, is up for preorder now from Svart Records ahead of a Nov. 3 release. Very likely by the time you make it through 20-minute opening track “Year of 584 Days” you’ll agree the record is aptly-named. The ongoing solo-project of Sami Hynninen (Spiritus Mortis, ex-Reverend Bizarre) embarks on three deeply experimentalist tracks across the record, and brings forth mostly-drumless, minimalist lumbering topped with strange recitations, resulting in an avant drama being staged with only riffs accompanying where an orchestra might otherwise be. It doesn’t get any less weird when the cymbal crashes start in “Samael Lilith” or when the highlight finale ‘Closure’ turns folk impulses backwards for nearly all of its 19-minute duration. And neither is it supposed to.

I don’t care how many records you listen to in a given year — you’re probably not going to hear another one that sounds like this. So there.

Art and info from the PR wire:

opium-warlords-droner

OPIUM WARLORDS set release date for new SVART album

After three wilderness years with doom gods Spiritus Mortis and Lord Vicar, electronic warriors Tähtiportti, and black metal sorcerers Azrael Rising, Sami Albert “Witchfinder” Hynninen is back in business with Opium Warlords. On November 3rd, Opium Warlords shall release Droner through Svart Records.

Droner is the fourth Opium Warlords album, and it brings Hynninen’s uncompromising musical vision to its most sparse form. It is noisy lo-fi riff music consisting only of particles unquestionably necessary, but at the same time with a musical spectrum that is very wide and open. It is experimental and avant-garde, still with roots deep in the very heart of heavy rock music. It is concrete blues, diving to the existence and the smallest molecular spheres of minimal riffs, and what seems to be an endless repetition of them. From these rather skeletal elements, it occasionally reaches neo-classical, even medieval spheres and death-romantic chambers of apocalyptic folk. Onto all of this, disturbing lyrics are chanted by unnamed, hostile protagonists.

The lyrics come entirely from outside, already existing sources: a book written by Finnish culture radical Jouko Turkka, a ritual of Ndembu people, and a letter written by scarlet woman Marjorie Cameron. The purpose here is to create a soundtrack that pictures and reflects the contents of the textual force. The result is primitive and brooding sonic landscapes of war, ritual, and death. Gone is soothing warmth of the preceding album, Taste My Sword Of Understanding. Droner is all about nuclear war and clear, post-apocalyptic primitivity of the surviving culture. It is torturing purification through purgatory, to a new world and new form of life.

First track premiere to be revealed shortly. Preorder info can be found HERE. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Opium Warlords’ Droner
1. Year of 584 Days (20:32)
2. Samael Lilith (20:30)
3. “Closure” (18:55)

http://www.facebook.com/OpiumWarlords
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/svartrecords
www.youtube.com/svartrecords
www.twitter.com/svartrecords
https://www.svartrecords.com/product/droner/#

Opium Warlords, “The Solar Burial”

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Quarterly Review: Hallatar, Alastor, The Dead-End Alley Band, Hair of the Dog, Soup, Kungens Män, Smoke Wizzzard, Highburnator, The Curf, Ulls

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Here we are, gathered for round four of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review. After the technical issues with the site for the last couple days, I’m glad to have everything back up and running, and one more time I thank Slevin and Behrang Alavi for making that happen. Though I have no idea what it might actually entail, I don’t imagine switching hosts on the fly for a site with as much content as this one has is easy, but they of course killed it and it is thoroughly appreciated. We move forward, as ever, with 10 more records. So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Hallatar, No Stars Upon the Bridge

hallatar-no-stars-upon-the-bridge

Finland’s Hallatar was formed after the passing of Trees of Eternity vocalist Aleah Starbridge, life partner of guitarist and songwriter Juha Ravio (also Swallow the Sun). In the new outfit, Ravio pays homage to Starbridge with the debut long-player No Stars Upon the Bridge (on Svart) by using her poems as lyrics, samples of her voice reading on “Raven’s Song,” “Spiral Gate” and the piano-backed centerpiece “Pieces,” and by bringing in Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen and ex-HIM drummer Gas Lipstick to complete a trio playing nine tracks/40 minutes of deeply mournful/beautiful death-doom. The extremity of lurch in “The Maze” late in the record is matched by the gorgeousness of the chants and shimmering guitar on closer “Dreams Burn Down,” and from the opening strains of “Mirrors,” the emotion driving No Stars Upon the Bridge is sincere and affecting. Cuts like “Melt” and the mostly-whispered-until-it-explodes “My Mistake” have a sense of the theatrical in their delivery, but that makes them no less genuine, and though one wouldn’t wish the circumstances leading to the band’s formation on anybody, there’s no question that with Hallatar, Ravio turns tragedy into a lush, resonant catharsis.

Hallatar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Alastor, Black Magic

alastor black magic

Cultish echoes pervade Black Magic, the debut album from Swedish doom-rolling four-piece Alastor, and it’s not so much that the initials-only four-piece of guitarists H and J, bassist/vocalist R and drummer S take influence from Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath, it’s what they do with that influence that’s most striking. Black Magic is made up of three extended tracks – “Enemy” (11:51), “Nothing to Fear” (7:42) and “Black Magic” (14:27) – and with a deep tonal engagement, each one embarks on a huge-sounding sprawl of doom. Yes, the guitars owe the swirl in “Nothing to Fear” to Jus Oborn, but the echoes behind R’s voice there and the melody have an almost New Wave-style feel despite the “all right now!” drawn right from the Ozzy playbook. In other words, Alastor are preaching to the converted, and that holds true in the snowblinded Luciferian spaciousness of the title-track’s early going as well, but the converted should have no problem finding the gospel in what they’re hearing, and as “Black Magic” rounds out with its chanted feel, Alastor affirm the potential to progress within this sound and to continue to develop it into something even more their own than it is now. Familiar superficially, but sneaky in the details, so watch out.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records webstore

 

The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms

the dead-end-alley-band-storms

Lima-based four-piece The Dead-End Alley Band aren’t far into opener “Red Woman” before the dark-psych vibe and languid groove have properly emphasized just how much the guitar of Leonardo Alva and the organ of Sebastian Sanchez-Botta (also vocals) complement each other. Propelled by the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Javier Kou and drummer Jafer Diaz, Storms is the third album from them behind 2015’s Odd Stories (discussed here) and 2013’s debut, Whispers of the Night (review here), and it continues to blend fuzz and classic garage doom impulses on songs like “Headstone Fortress” and the shuffling “Thunderbolts and Lace,” the latter of which wah-trips to the max around a stirring boogie before “The Clock has Stopped” weirds out on extra vocal echoes and nine-minute closer “Waiting for the Void” brings in the progressive touches of pan flute and percussion. Even in the earlier, shortest track “Need You (It’s Enough),” The Dead-End Alley Band bring no shortage of personality to the proceedings, and confirm that the rough edges of their early outings have matured into essential aspects of who they have become as a band, completely in control of their craft and able to conjure an atmosphere both classic and individual.

The Dead-End Alley Band on Thee Facebooks

The Dead-End Alley Band on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Hair of the Dog, This World Turns

hair-of-the-dog-this-world-turns

Making their debut on Kozmik Artifactz, Scottish trio Hair of the Dog give their guitar-led compositions plenty of time to flesh out on This World Turns, their third album, as they demonstrate quickly on the nine-plus minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points), but one would hardly call their songwriting indulgent there or anywhere else as “This World Turns” flows easily into the following seven-minute push of “Keeping Watch over the Night” in a resolute one-two punch that soon gives way to the shorter and more driving “Ctrl-Alt-Del,” touching on influences from Thin Lizzy and Scorpions en route as well as modern practitioners like Kadavar, whose stamp can also be heard on side B launch “The Colours in Her Skin.” That’s not to say Hair of the Dog — guitarist/vocalist Adam Holt (interview here), bassist Iain Thomson and drummer Jon Holt – don’t leave their own mark as well, just that their blend stems from multiple sources. A bit of Lynottism surfaces in the penultimate “In Death’s Hands” as well, which has a more subdued feel despite fervent rhythmic movement underlying, and closer “4AM” soars with enough vigor and soul – and a little falsetto – to give This World Turns a suitably smooth and vibrant finish.

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Soup, Remedies

soup remedies

With ties to Motorpsycho through guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, Soup issue their sixth long-player in the five-track lush melodicism of Remedies, which feels particularly aptly named for the immersion the wash that opener “Going Somewhere” is able to elicit. That is, of course, just the first of the spacious, semi-folk-infused progressions, and it’s with the longer-form “The Boy and the Snow” (11:33) and the psychedelic purposeful meandering of “Sleepers” (13:35) that Remedies truly unveils its considerable breadth, but the Crispin Glover Records release holds a sense of poise even in the two-minute centerpiece church organ interlude “Audion,” and the harmonies of “Nothing Like Home” bring to mind peak-era Porcupine Tree patience and fluidity while holding fast to the bright, orange-sunshiny warmth of the atmosphere as a whole, instruments dropping out just before three minutes in to showcase the vocals before returning to embark on the march to the final crescendo, not at all overblown but with just a touch of extra volume to let listeners dive deeper into the moment. Remedies feels quick at 42 minutes, but turns out to be just what the doctor ordered.

Soup on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

 

Kungens Män, Dag & Natt

kungens-man-dag-natt

Prolific psych-progging Stockholmers Kungens Män return with Dag & Natt, a 2CD/2LP issued through Kungens Ljud & Bild (CD) and Adansonia Records (LP) that overflows with jazzy fluidity and gorgeous immersion. The band’s last studio outing was late-2015’s Förnekaren (review here), and whether it’s 13-minute pieces like opener “Morgonrodnad” and the even-more-krautrocking “Aftonstjärnan” or the seemingly complementary inclusions of the kosmiche-minded “Dag” and wonderfully drifting “Natt,” the album as a whole is a joy and a boon to anyone looking for an extended psychedelic meander. The saxophone of Gustav Nygren on the aforementioned leadoff and “Natt” makes a particularly striking impression, but with a steady, languid wash of guitar, synth and warm bass throughout, Dag & Natt wants nothing for flow, and the gentle, classy spirit is maintained even as the penultimate “Vargtimmen” ups the sense of thrust leading into the finisher payoff of “Cirkeln är Slut.” As of now, Kungens Män should be considered a too-well-kept secret of Scandinavia’s psych underground, though listening to Dag & Natt, one wonders just how long they’ll stay that way.

Kungens Män on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Smoke Wizzzard, Run with the Wolf

smoke-wizzzard-run-with-the-wolf

Whether it’s through the striking and gruesome cover art or through the lumbering post-Sabbath, post-Cathedral stoner-doom nod contained within, Smoke Wizzzard’s five-song self-titled debut LP thoroughly earns its third ‘z’ – and, for that matter, its second one – with played-to-form thickness and a tonal push that starts with 10-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Astro Lord” and continues to swagger and swing with due viscosity through “Reptiles” after the minute-long punker curveball “Soul Train.” The highlight of the Pittsburgh trio’s first outing might be “The Pass,” which has a hazy patience and some rightly-featured bass tone, but as “Run with the Wolf” moves from its early Electric Wizard muckraking to cap with piano and included howls for a doomier feel, it becomes clear Smoke Wizzzard have yet to play their full stylistic hand and the real highlights may still be yet to come. Fair enough. Something tells me getting stranger is only going to be a boon to Smoke Wizzzard’s approach on the whole, so bring it on.

Smoke Wizzzard on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Wizzzard on Bandcamp

 

Highburnator, Keystoned State

highburnator-keystoned-state

If you hit up Highburnator’s Bandcamp and download their name-your-price Keystoned State EP, you might note the fifth and final inclusion is the entire live-recorded, 28-minute release presented as a single track. No doubt the Pennsylvania three-piece intend the four-song outing to be taken just that way. They begin with the “mad as hell” speech sampled from the 1976 film Network and from there unfold a potent riffly brew met head on with harsh East Coast hardcore-style vocals and more metallic growls. That’s nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Brass Rail,” and it sets the tone for what follows on the eponymous “Highburnator” before “Desert Funeral” and the Sleep-style nod of “Peaking at the Coffin” push into even more stonerly vibes. This melding of pissed-off disaffection and mid-paced heavy rock groove is particular to the sludge of the Eastern Seaboard – think of it as regional fare – but Highburnator find space for themselves in the rawness of their riffs and the charm of their puns, and by the time they’re through the four songs, it makes sense why they might want to present the full onslaught as a single entity, essentially giving it to their listeners on one overflowing platter. Got the munchies? It’s right there waiting.

Highburnator on Thee Facebooks

Highburnator on Bandcamp

 

The Curf, Death and Love

the-curf-death-and-love

Greek psych-doomers The Curf made their debut in 2007 with I and then went radio silent until last year’s Royal Water EP. Their sophomore full-length, Death and Love, then, arrives via Fuzz Ink Records with some amount of intrigue behind it, but either way, the sans-pretense heavy roll the band unfurls on “Dark Hado,” and the more uptempo “Smoke Ring,” the dig-in low end of “Lunar Lair” and the scream-topped start-stoppery of “California” present a varied take brought together through heft as well as the crispness of production and delivery, such that when it wants to, Death and Love can bite down hard, but as on the closing title-track or the earlier “Order ‘n’ Sin,” it can rumble out spaciousness as well. Whatever might’ve taken The Curf so long to put together a second album beats the hell out of me, but if they were looking to make an argument for a third one, they do so convincingly across these nine songs, which hold firmly to their overarching flow despite the emergent stylistic range.

The Curf on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records webstore

 

Ulls, I

ULLS I

For now, Ulls is the solo-project of Barcelona-based David Trillo, formerly guitarist/vocalist for the heavy progressive trio Lord Summerisle, but the hope seems to be to build a full band at some point in the future. The I EP might rightly be called a demo, then, but for the professionalism and cohesiveness of sound with which its three songs are presented and the clarity of intent behind them. With Trillo rumbling away on bass beneath, six-minute opener “Inhumat” fleshes out its arrangement with organ alongside guitar swirl and sets up the classically swinging strut of “Llot Convuls,” on which the drums post-midsection lead the way through starts and stops à la a restless King Crimson and the guitar joins with no less angularity. Eight-minute closer “L’Emersió de l’Executor” brings about a thicker overall tone, but holds to a similar mood through its first half, Trillo finding room after about the four-and-a-half-minute mark for a standout solo executed with the bass running fluidly alongside that carries the song to its fading finish just before seven minutes in, at which point a residual drone takes hold to lead the way out. That ending is telling when it comes to various impulses that might show themselves in Ulls going forward, but as an initial demonstration, suffice it to say that I makes it plain Trillo shouldn’t have much trouble finding other players to come aboard the band with him.

Ulls on Instagram

Ulls on Bandcamp

 

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Sophie Day Announces Departure from Alunah

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

Bummer news out of the UK for fans of heavy forest rockers Alunah, and make no mistake, I consider myself to be one. Guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day has decided after 11 years to leave the band she and husband/fellow guitarist Dave Day started in 2006. Her stepping down from the frontwoman role leaves a significant void in Alunah, as she was also responsible for the lyrics and thereby the naturalist thematic that has become so much a part of Alunah‘s sound over the course of their four albums — the latest of which, Solennial (review here), came out as their first for Svart Records earlier this year — but the band has decided to continue on and search for a replacement with whom they’ll look to move forward on a fifth full-length.

Sophie‘s last shows with Alunah were this past July with Acid King, which seems fitting in terms of the influence that band had particularly on Alunah‘s earlier offerings. In a brief statement, Sophie says she has other avenues she’s interested in exploring, and in addition to general intrigue as to what shape Alunah might take in her absence, I know I for one would be interested to hear how she would/hopefully will manifest songwriting in the future. Maybe she’ll go acid folk. That would rule. She could pull it off, not a doubt in my mind. Songs of the wood and whatnot.

In case you’d like to rock some Alunah in her honor, all four of their albums can be streamed at the bottom of this post.

Best of luck of course to Sophie Day and to the band, who made the announcement thusly on their website:

alunah

Singer/Guitarist Sophie Day Leaves Alunah

25/9/2017

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the departure of our singer and guitarist Sophie Day; our gigs back in July with Acid King were particularly poignant, due to that fact that they were Soph’s final gigs with us.

As a founding member, Soph has been with Alunah since our inception in 2006, and she has been an integral part in forging Alunah into what it has become today. The remaining members of Alunah wish to continue, and invite applications to be sent to info@alunah.co.uk. Please only apply if you are serious and willing to commit.

Of her decision Soph said, “When we started Alunah I never realised how huge a part of my life it would become, how many wonderful people I would meet and establish lasting relationships with, how much music we would write and release, how much support we would get from labels and press, how many countries we would visit and how many of our favourite bands we would share the stage with. It has been my comfort blanket through personal trauma and have been moved when told how much our music has affected some of you guys. It has been amazing.

“However, there are other avenues I want to explore, both musically and in my personal life, and I can no longer give my all to Alunah, nor would it be fair to try and force Alunah in the direction I would like to go in. I continue to support the guys with design and marketing and of course through Dave’s and my label Catacomb Records, who have just co-released ‘White Hoarhound’ with HeviSike Records. I wish Dave, Jake, Dan and my replacement(s) the best of luck for the future, and I thank every single one of you for your support over the years. It’s been a trip.”

www.facebook.com/alunah.doom
http://twitter.com/#!/alunah_doom
https://alunah.bandcamp.com
www.alunah.co.uk
www.svartrecords.com

Alunah, Solennial (2017)

Alunah, Awakening the Forest (2014)

Alunah, White Hoarhound (2012)

Alunah, Call of Avernus (2010)

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Kimi Kärki Posts “Beyond Distance” Video; Eye for an Eye out Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kimi karki

The collaboration between Kimi Kärki and Patrick Walker is no minor moment when it comes to the former’s second solo album, Eye for an Eye (review here). Set for release a week from today via respected purveyor Svart Records, the record offers no shortage of melancholy anyhow as the Lord Vicar, Orne, ex-Reverend Bizarre, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, etc. guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and experimentalist explores more intimate, personal ground even than that which comprised his first outing, The Bone of My Bones (review here), in 2013.

Bringing in Walker, whose voice almost invariably conveys a doomed emotionalism and has been a key element in crafting landmark full-lengths from Warning and 40 Watt Sun alike, only builds on this spirit. The track is called “Beyond Distance,” and while there are subtle arrangements of backing vocals and flourish of crowd noise at the end, the most striking impression comes directly from Kärki and Walker working together respectively on guitar and voice, and the result is a standout that, while atmospherically consistent with its surroundings on Eye for an Eye, nonetheless draws the listener’s attention in both its concept and execution.

I said as much when I reviewed Eye for an Eye, but it’s hard to listen to “Beyond Distance” and not imagine what Kärki and Walker might be able to accomplish were they to actually put a collaborative project together, to write songs together, either in a heavier and doomed sonic context or a more tranquil duo as they are found to be in “Beyond Distance.” There’s just so much potential here that it seems like a waste to have this be a one-time-only happening. Not that I get a vote, but the more I hear “Beyond Distance,” the more my vote is “more, please.”

Kärki assembled and directed the video below himself, as he did the prior clip for “Entangled in Pleasure” that was premiered here, and it follows suit in its atmospheric visual impressionism and, at least until the very end, black and white visuals. The highlight of course is the song itself, but to go with Walker‘s self-harmonies and the intricate plucking of strings from Kärki, the various shots here at very least make a fitting complement.

Please enjoy:

Kimi Kärki (feat. Patrick Walker), “Beyond Distance” official video

Kimi Kärki premieres the new video “Beyond Distance.” Featuring 40 Watt Sun’s Patrick Walker, “Beyond Distance” hails from Kärki’s highly anticipated second album, Eye for an Eye, set for international release on August 18th via Svart Records.

Kimi Kärki is a Finnish cultural historian, guitar-player, and singer-songwriter. Known for his versatile guitar playing and somber compositions for Reverend Bizarre, Lord Vicar, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, and, most recently, Uhrijuhla, Kärki has developed his recognizable playing style within doom metal, progressive, folk, and electric ambient scenes. This variety of mostly underground styles reflects the open and intuitive approach to music, which is in the very heart of Kärki’s craft.

Music, guitars, eBow, bass, memotron: Kimi Kärki. Vocals, words, his vocal arrangement: Patrick Walker. Backing vocals: Pirre Känkänen, Anna-Elena Pääkkölä. Engineering: Joona Lukala. Music recorded at Noise for Fiction in 2016. Patrick Walker’s vocals were recorded at Bremhill Corpse Studio by Laurence Collyer, in August 2016. Crowd noises recorded at Brighton and Nikosia by Kimi Kärki in 2016. Video directed and edited by Kimi Kärki, filmed in Oslo 2014, Turku archipelago 2015, Carmel by the Sea and Cleveland 2017.

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Blaak Heat Premiere “Al-Andalus” from The Arabian Fuzz

Posted in audiObelisk on August 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

blaak heat

As they make ready to embark on a European tour this week, Blaak Heat take nine minutes to massively expand their already significant aesthetic breadth by means of their upcoming single The Arabian Fuzz on Svart Records. Set for issue on Aug. 18 following an appearance at this weekend’s SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal but ahead of slots at Woolstock in the Netherlands and the Obelisk-co-presented Emerald Haze in Dublin on Sept. 1, the follow-up to the somewhat-nomadic and consistently-amorphous four-piece’s 2016 Tee Pee Records third album, Shifting Mirrors (review here), takes on more of a Middle Eastern flair than anything they’ve done before.

That’s not necessarily untrod ground for Blaak Heat, who since making their debut as Blaak Heat Shujaa with their 2010 self-titled (review here) and deep-diving into desert-hued psychedelia across the subsequent 2012 EP, The Storm Generation (review here), and 2013’s The Edge of an Era (review here) that followed have always had some of that minor-key meditative vibe. If accompanied at times by frenetically progressive rhythm-making, blinding turns and effects-laden explorations, this has been part of a modus of unrelenting willful sonic growth that has made Blaak Heat a standout among next-generation heavy psych outfits, and certainly The Arabian Fuzz continues that thread blaak heat the arabian fuzzas guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, guitarist Nicolas Heller, bassist Guillame Theoden and drummer Michael Amster bring in Jordanian ethnomusicologist Fareed Al-Madain to contribute guest vocals on the leadoff track “Marr El Kallam” (posted here), which is accompanied by the instrumental “Al-Andalus,” premiering below.

As noted, both cuts work to build on Blaak Heat‘s prior output in atmosphere and approach, and while that’s invariably going to come through most strikingly in “Marr El Kallam,” what with the track being the band’s first in Arabic and all, one can hear it in the tension created throughout “Al-Andalus” as well, the winding path of Bellier‘s guitar taking cues from his oud and the percussion in “Marr El Kallam” to transpose such complexity onto a more Western-feeling traditional rock arrangement of guitar, bass and drums. Both songs run just over four and a half minutes long and they share the atmospheric impression born of the Middle Eastern influence, but as Blaak Heat have since their outset, they make this influence their own and build a context of coexistence that reaches a new level of individualism in the shimmer and crash of “Al-Andalus” that’s as furious as anything they’ve done before and all the richer for the A-side it complements.

By now, one wouldn’t hazard a guess as to where Blaak Heat might go on a given outing of any type, be it a single, EP, LP or something else. Their sound has simply become too open with its jazzy precision, we-can-really-make-this-move-when-we-want-to sonic heft and landscape-building psychedelia, but they’ve proven over the course of this decade time and again that their commitment to an ongoing sonic progression is no fluke, and the safest bet is that whatever they’re up to next, it will be a considerable step forward from where they were previously. That’s a hell of a track record to keep up, but as The Arabian Fuzz demonstrates once again, Blaak Heat are ready to follow their creative path to anywhere and everywhere it might lead them.

More info and tour dates follow “Al-Andalus” below. Please enjoy:

Blaak Heat, “Al-Andalus” official audio premiere

BLAAK HEAT returns with an oriental heavy psych manifesto, THE ARABIAN FUZZ! The band fur thers its signature East meets West grooves by blending intricate Spanish guitars, surf rock, and Middle Eastern psych.

With Jordanian ethno-musicologist Fareed Al-Madain on vocals, MARR EL KALLAM is an homage to 1960s underground Turkish and Persian psychedelic pop. The climactic line of the song, “The shit who owns a weapon will kill”, as performed in Arabic by a US-French-Jordanian-Greek-Canadian lineup, rings ominously true in 2017 America. Along with the traditional lineup of guitars/bass/drums, BLAAK HEAT mastermind Thomas Bellier plays acoustic oud, and percussionist Peter Valsamis rounds up the band on doumbek.

AL-ANDALUS is a heavy surf rock explosion, a mind-blowing exploration into reverb fuzz wilderness led by astounding musicianship. It’s retro, yet futuristic – dig it!

The songs were recorded in Los Angeles by Jason Schimmel (of Secret Chiefs 3) and produced/mixed/mastered by Bellier.

THE ARABIAN FUZZ comes out via Svart Records on August 18, 2017. You can pre-order it here.

We have a number of festival & club dates for August & September 2017 – Come party, more TBA !

Aug 12 Sonic Blast Moledo – Moledo (PT)
Aug 25 Woolstock Festival – Tilburg (NL)
Aug 27 Blaak Heat DJ Set @ Le Glass – Paris (FR)
Aug 30 The Black Heart – London (UK)
Sept 1 Emerald Haze Fest – Dublin (IRL)
Sept 2 Festival Arteficial – Ribadavia (ES)
Sept 3 Filho Sarilho – Alcobaça (PT)
Sept 4 Cine Incrivel – Lisbon (PT)
Sept 5 Cave 45 – Porto (PT)
Sept 6 Rock Beer The New – Santander (ES)
Sept 8 Bucéphale – Draguignan (FR)
Sept 9 Cheapstock Fest – Barcelona (ES)
Sept 10 Supersonic – Paris (FR)
Sept 11 Blaak Heat DJ set @ Pigalle Country Club – Paris (FR)

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audiObelisk Transmission 062

Posted in Podcasts on July 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk podcast 62

Click Here to Download

 

It’s easy when you’re putting one of these things together to get locked into a headspace and all of a sudden everything you’re putting next to each other kind of sounds the same, kind of blurs together. I’m immensely pleased to say that’s not at all what happened this time around. The sounds throughout vary from heavy psych to rock to proggy jams to Blaak Heat who are on their own wavelength entirely to doom and space rock and so on. It flows though. I’m really happy with how it flows.

That includes the second hour, which has a couple different vibes as opposed to just the usual all-psych head-trip. Also, as you make your way through, keep in mind that a lot of this stuff is coming from debut albums. Moon Rats, Kabbalah, Eternal Black, Mindkult, The Raynbow, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree. Hell, Steak’s track is their second album, and Youngblood Supercult too, so yeah, there’s a lot of fresh stuff included from newer bands. I didn’t come into it with a plan at all. This is just how it worked out, which of course is more fun anyway.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Moon Rats, “Highway Lord” from Highway Lord
0:03:36 Youngblood Supercult, “The Hot Breath of God” from The Great American Death Rattle
0:07:31 Kabbalah, “Phantasmal Planetoid” from Spectral Ascent
0:12:11 Wretch, “The Wretch” from Bastards Born
0:20:25 Steak, “Creeper” from No God to Save
0:24:28 Eternal Black, “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” from Bleed the Days
0:31:44 Mindkult, “Howling Witch” from Lucifer’s Dream
0:36:51 Shooting Guns, “Flavour Country” from Flavour Country
0:45:04 Endless Boogie, “Vibe Killer” from Vibe Killer
0:53:22 Blaak Heat, “Marr El Kallam” from The Arabian Fuzz 7”
0:57:55 The Grand Astoria, “The Sleeper Awakes” from The Fuzz of Destiny

Second Hour:

1:02:45 Eggnogg, “Overture / Wild Goose Chase” from Rituals in Transfigured Time – Prologue
1:16:06 Elara, “Harmonia” from Deli Bal
1:31:41 Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, “Sail Away I” from Medicine
1:45:50 The Raynbow, “Changes” from The Cosmic Adventure

Total running time: 2:01:51

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 062

 

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