Blaak Heat Post “Marr El Kallam” Video; The Arabian Fuzz 7″ Preorder Available

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

blaak heat photo jorge pereira

Transient heavy psych rockers Blaak Heat will release their new single, The Arabian Fuzz, Aug. 18 via Svart Records. It’s just two songs — one per side, of course — and they’re both only four and a half minutes long, but I feel like one would be hard-pressed to overstate just how far the release goes in expanding what was already the broad palette of Blaak Heat‘s sound. Now a four-piece led by founding guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier with Nicolas Heller on guitar, Guillame Theoden on bass and Michael Amster on drums, they follow last year’s Shifting Mirrors (review here) third full-length on Tee Pee Records by delving even further into the Middle Eastern influences that they’ve paired with desert rock tonality and groove since making their self-titled debut (review here) in 2010.

Simple truth of the matter is that from that point on, whether it was the EP The Storm Generation (review here) that marked their arrival on Tee Pee in 2012 or the subsequent blaak heat the arabian fuzz2013 long-player, The Edge of an Era (review here), Blaak Heat have never failed to engage in willful progression from release to release. Part of that has involved looking outside the band for guest contributions. On The Storm Generation, it was beat poet Ron Whitehead ranting away. On The Edge of an Era, Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson made a landmark of a guest spot on the memorable “Pelham Blue.” Shifting Mirrors got away from that in terms of performers — one could argue that the band’s working with producer Matt Hyde would invariably result in an outside perspective influence of a different kind — but The Arabian Fuzz brings them together with Jordanian ethnomusicologist Fareed Al-Madain, who contributes Arabic-language vocals to the A-side of the 7″ on a song called “Marr El Kallam.”

The video below translates at least some of the lyrics he’s singing, and a social theme permeates, but I’m not sure exactly what the title would be in English. Doesn’t matter, ultimately. What’s more important on both “Marr El Kallam” and its accompanying organ-laced instrumental B-side “Al-Andalus” is that Blaak Heat are continuing to push themselves into new sonic territory, and in just a span of nine minutes, they offer something to their listeners/viewers they’ve never done before in a fashion that’s as bold as it is mature as it is confident of its own approach. There are very few bands in the US or European heavy psychedelic underground willing to take such chances, let alone see those chances so thoroughly pay off.

Blaak Heat have a host of festival appearances coming up, including SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal next month and a stop at the inaugural Emerald Haze festival — co-presented by The Obelisk — the first weekend in September. Dates, complete performing lineup on “Marr El Kallam” and other info can be found under the video below.

Please enjoy:

Blaak Heat feat. Fareed Al-Madain, “Marr El Kallam” official video

Fareed Al-Madain – Vocals
Thomas Bellier – Oud, Guitars
Michael Amster – Drums
Guillaume Theoden – Bass
Nicolas Heller – Guitars
Peter Valsamis – Doumbek

Recorded at The Bunker LA (Los Angeles, CA)
Engineered by Jason Schimmel
Produced, mixed and mastered by Thomas Bellier

Cole Jenkins & Thomas Bihoré – Image
Mathieu Baillargeon – Videography & Editing
Produced by The Phantasma Company

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)
SEPT 1 – Emerald Haze Fest, Dublin (IRL)
SEPT 2 – Festival Arteficial, Ribadavia (ES)
SEPT 4 – Cine Incrivel, Lisbon (PT)
SEPT 8 – Bucéphale, Draguignan (FR)
SEPT 9 – Cheapstock Vol4, Barcelona (ES)
SEPT 10 – Supersonic, Paris (FR)

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Quarterly Review: Enslaved, Hour of 13, Operators, MaidaVale, Audion, Bone Man, Riff Fist, Helén, Savanah, Puta Volcano

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

I don’t know about you, but I could do this all day. Listening to records, writing reviews, getting things done that I’ve been trying to get done in some cases for actual months of my life — suffice it to say I’m way into this process. Wednesday is always a special day for the Quarterly Review because we pass the halfway point, and as much as I wish this edition went to 60 or even 70 releases, because rest assured even with 50 total there’s way more I could be covering if I had space/time, the good news is there’s still much more awesomeness to come. Today gets into some different vibes once again, so let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Enslaved, Roadburn Live

enslaved-roadburn-live

In their storied and groundbreaking career, Norwegian progressive black metallers Enslaved have never put out a live record, and it kind of makes sense as to why. The nuance of what they’ve come to do in their studio material doesn’t really lend itself to the rawness of a live album. Accordingly, Roadburn Live (on ByNorse and Burning World Records) feels almost as much of an homage to the event itself as to the performance. Captured in 2015 as Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson co-curated and the band headlined playing a special set of their more prog-focused songs – here more recent material like “In Times,” “Building with Fire,” “Daylight” from 2015’s In Times (review here) and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here) shines along with “Convoys to Nothingness” from 2001’s Monumension, “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights and the requisite “Isa” from the 2004 landmark of the same name, and a special highlight comes at the finale when they cover Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and bring guitarist Menno Gootjes of Dutch proggers Focus out for a guest spot. Roadburn Live might be a step away from the band’s usual modus, but Enslaved have made their career on pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, so why stop now?

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Burning World Records website

ByNorse Music website

 

Hour of 13, Salt the Dead: The Rare and Unreleased

hour of 13 salt the dead

An overdue compilation from a band making an overdue return, Hour of 13’s Salt the Earth: The Rare and Unreleased reunites the doomers led by multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis with Shadow Kingdom Records and brings together early demos from 2007 – on which the collaboration between Davis and vocalist Phil Swanson was arguably at its most vibrant as they headed into their self-titled debut full-length later that year – with other previously unissued cuts like three songs with Davis on vocals including the Jason McCash tribute piece “Upon Black Wings We Die” (premiered here) and the original rehearsal demos that introduced Beaten Back to Pure singer Ben Hogg as Swanson’s replacement in the band in 2011 (premiered here). If you want a direct feel for the breadth of the band, look no further than the three versions of “Call to Satan” that appear on Salt the Earth. Widely varied between them in sound and overall feel, they underscore the tumult that has existed since the outset at the core of Hour of 13 even as they provide hope that the band previously laid to rest can revitalize enough to put out a fourth studio offering.

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Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Operators, Revelers

operators revelers

Nearly four years in the making, Revelers is the third full-length from Berlin’s Operators behind 2013’s Contact High (review here) and 2012’s Operators (review here), and it starts off by smashing Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats swing headfirst into Goatsnake riffing on “Leveled Reveler,” the first of its six component tracks. Their arrangements, as ever, are marked by the featured position of organ along with guitar, bass and drums, and whether it’s a more extended jam like that opener, “Messina” or the closing “Rolling Hitch” – which boasts a guest vocal/guitar spot from Wight’s René Hofmann, who also recorded and mixed (Tony Reed of Mos Generator mastered) – or the shorter momentum-building winding course through “Pusher,” “Walkin’ on Air” (I’m not sure what’s happening at the end there, but I’m not about to spoil it) and the winning-at-song-titles “Fuzz Muncher,” Operators function with a maturity of approach that seems to have been earned during the longer stretch between releases. To wit, all the turns and pivots even out in the last movement of “Rolling Hitch” and Revelers caps with a classic heavy rock groove that’s neither in a hurry nor staid – Operators finding crucial balance amidst all their revelry, and much to their credit.

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Fuzzmatazz Records on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Tales of the Wicked West

maidavale tales of the wicked west

Blues Pills. There. I said it. Now that the blues-rocking elephant in the room has been acknowledged, perhaps we can get on with Swedish four-piece MaidaVale’s debut full-length, Tales of the Wicked West (on The Sign Records). Yes, the Fårösund-based band owe a bit of their soulfulness to the aforementioned, but the nine-track/44-minute long-player thrives most of all as Linn Johannesson, Sofia Ström, Matilda Roth and Johanna Hansson purposefully meander into psychedelic flashes, as in opener “(If You Want the Smoke) Be the Fire,” the midsection of “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” the penultimate Zep-vibing/Bukowski-referencing “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You” and the 11-minute post-“Maggot Brain” closer “Heaven and Earth.” It’s in these moments and the manner in which they blend with the driving rock of “Dirty War,” the bluesy swagger of “Restless Wanderer” and the deft turns of “Colour Blind” early on that MaidaVale’s individualism is beginning to take shape, and if that’s the story that Tales of the Wicked West is telling, then it’s one well worth following through subsequent chapters.

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Audion, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-histora-de-abraham

Audion’s debut, La Historia de Abraham, is immediately noteworthy in no small part because it brings the rhythm section of Los Natas back together for the first time since that band’s breakup following 2009’s excellent Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here). Drummer Walter Broide and bassist Gonzalo Villagra join forces in the new outfit with guitarist Dizzy Espeche, and all three contribute vocals throughout at least in backup capacity, adding variety to go with the instrumental breadth that runs from the serene end of “Llegaron Sordos” right into the rush of “La Maquina del Tiempo” and well beyond later as the interlude “Para Rosita” introduces an earthy acoustidelic feel and “El Carancho” explores ‘70s anthemic rock before the fuzz- and horn-laden finisher “Queruzalem” closes out with a surprising progressive wash. Cuts like opener “Clarence,” the title-track and “Colmillo Blanco” can call to mind Villagra and Broide’s previous work, but Audion make a fresh impression on La Historia de Abraham in the variety throughout, and as they make their way through “Lesbotrans” and “Diablo vs. Dios” and into the second half of the album, it becomes increasingly clear how distinct this first offering actually is.

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Audion on Bandcamp

 

Bone Man, III

bone man iii

To go along with the propulsive rhythm of “False Ambition” and the wash in the payoff of the earlier “These Days are Gone,” there’s a sense of gothic drama to vocalist Marian’s delivery that adds further atmosphere to Bone Man’s III (on Pink Tank Records), and in kind with the cohesive foundation of Arne’s bass, Ötzi’s drumming and his own scorch-prone guitar, that gives cuts like “Cold Echo” and the alternately brooding and explosive centerpiece – layered acoustic and electric guitar filling out the sound further – even more stylistic depth. That moodiness comes perhaps most into focus on the more subdued “Incognito,” but it’s there from the boogie-laced opener “Pollyanna” onward, and in the jagged push of “Years of Sorrow” and the more spacious finale “Amnesia” (still a tightly structured four minutes in length), it lends III a persona stretching beyond what one might think of as the standard genre fare and gives the Kiel, Germany, outfit a presence decidedly their own. It’s their third record, so maybe that’s not a surprise for a band who made their first offering eight years ago, but it serves as a major source of resonance in the material nonetheless.

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Pink Tank Records website

 

Riff Fist, King Tide

riff fist king iii

Going back to 2013, Melbourne, Australia, trio Riff Fist have basically summed up their approach in the eight letters of their name: a tight-knit approach to guitar-led heavy rock, as straightforward as a fist in your face. King Tide is their debut album after three EPs named for the Clint Eastwood Dollars trilogy of westerns – 2015’s The Good, the Loud and the Riff, 2014’s For a Few Riffs More and 2013’s Fistful of Riffs (review here) – and it significantly expands their breadth. Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in the 11-minute title cut (video premiered here), King Tide covers new, more patient and encompassing ground from bassist/vocalist Cozza, guitarist Casey and drummer Joel than anything they’ve touched on before, and while the subsequent “D.T.U.B.,” fuzz-laden “Fist Bier (Noch Eins)” and even the first half of eight-minute centerpiece “Chugg” bring that all-ahead sensibility back into focus, King Tide remains effectively and engagingly informed by its leadoff impression through its total 33-minute run, which is rounded out as “Beer and a Cigarette” melds the more spacious and atmospheric take with a still-swinging post-Clutch groove. There’s more work to do in tying the various sides together, but King Tide is a rousing introduction to the process through which the band can make that happen.

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Helén, Helén

helen helen

Hexvessel multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kimmo Helén makes a willfully peculiar and experimentalist self-titled debut with the solo-project Helén via Svart Records, setting a course through melodic indie wash in “Uusi Olento” even as “Jumalan Hullu” threatens in its bounce and the later “Lystia” moves into yet-darker expanses. Keys, electric and acoustic guitar, sax, and of course Helén’s own Finnish-language vocals, there’s very little that feels like it might be outside his comfort zone in terms of craft, and Helén, the album, is just as effective in the plus-cello-acoustic-minimalism of the penultimate “Lopussa” as in the earlier atmospheric breadth of “Puolen Metrin Syvyydessä.” Closing out with the alternately melancholy and dreamy “Kaikki Isä,” the record brings out a full-band feel despite Helén having handled the vast majority of the instrumentation on his own and impresses in that as well as in its range of moods and overarching sense of purpose. May it be a first exploration in a series of many.

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Savanah, The Healer

savanah the healer

I won’t take away from a wah-drenched rocker like “The Healer,” which still jams out plenty before digging into doomier lumbering, but where Austrian trio Savanah’s Stone Free Records debut album, The Healer, really gets its point across is in the fluidity of its longer-form material, whether that’s post-“Intro” opener “Mind,” the ebbing and flowing heavy psych instrumental “Pillars of Creation” or the over-10-minutes-apiece closing pair of the doom rocking “Black Widow” and “Panoramic View of Stormy Weather,” which effectively draws together the multiple aesthetic faces the three-piece demonstrate throughout the record preceding, culling rock, psych and doom into a single riff-driven entity and, most importantly, making it theirs. Guitar leads the way with big, natural fuzz, but the rhythm section is crucial here, and as Benny, Felix and Jakob follow-up their 2015 EP, Deep Shades, they seem to establish a path along which they can flourish and hopefully continue to capture the listener’s attention as they do here.

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StoneFree Records website

 

Puta Volcano, Harmony of Spheres

puta volcano harmony of spheres

The kind of release where by the end of the first song you want to own everything the band has ever put out. Don’t let Athens’ Puta Volcano get lost in the wash of bands coming out of Greece these days, because there are many, but if you miss out on the blend of desert-style tones and graceful melodies of “Bird,” it’s to your general detriment. I’m serious. In craft and performance, Puta Volcano’s third album, Harmony of Spheres, takes on unpretentious progressivism in songwriting and blends it with a post-Slo Burn/Hermano sense of freedom from genre. Witness the funky “Zeroth Law” or the later, more subtle post-grunge linearity of “Moebius,” the odd chanting repetitions in closer “Infinity” or the nigh-on-maddening hook of “Jovian Winds.” Really, do it. With the lineup of vocalist Luna Stoner, guitarist Alex Pi, bassist Bookies and drummer Steven Stefanidis, Puta Volcano are onto something special in aesthetic and delivery, and if Harmony of Spheres might be your first experience with the band as it’s mine, it’s one that will no doubt warrant multiple revisits. Consider it sleeper fodder for your year-end list – I know I will.

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Review & Video Premiere: Kimi Kärki, Eye for an Eye

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on July 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kimi karki eye for an eye

Kimi Kärki, “Entangled in Pleasure” official video

[Click play above to view the new video for Kimi Kärki’s ‘Entangled in Pleasure.’ His album, Eye for an Eye, is out Aug. 18 via Svart Records.]

The second solo album from Kimi Kärki, Eye for an Eye, is abidingly sad — make no mistake — but ultimately it is defined by more than just its melancholy. Released through Svart Records, which also stood behind the Finland-based former Reverend Bizarre and current Lord Vicar (see also: Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, Uhrijuhla, etc.) guitarist’s 2013 debut, The Bone of My Bones (review here), the also-cyclically-titled outing shares in common with its predecessor its heartfelt and folkish delivery, but steps further into an intimacy of songwriting and seems to bask in minimalism even as it expands Kärki‘s use of harmonized vocal arrangements, echoing spaciousness and synth on works like the centerpiece “Good Things in Life” and its finale.

A guest appearance on fourth track “Beyond Distance” from Patrick Walker of Warning and 40 Watt Sun has me keeping my fingers crossed he and Kärki will collaborate again in the future — say, in a band together — and one late from labelmate singer-songwriter John Richardson on “Spearhead” does well to change up the proceedings leading into the closing duo of “The River of Shadows” and “The Last Wave.” Both of those songs depart the four-to-five-minute range to which the rest of Eye for an Eye‘s cuts hold, running six and nine minutes, respectively, but in its prevailing impression, the nine-song/47-minute offering is more about the atmosphere it creates through its plucked nylon guitar and soothing melodies than it is about individual runtimes.

Listening to opener “Entangled in Pleasure” or “The Load We Carry,” one might be tempted to call Eye for an Eye depressive, but to hear the flourish of e-bow in the latter track there, the subtle but transcendent use of keyboards throughout and the world of harmonies that guest vocalists Anna-Elena Pääkkölä and Pirita Känkänen open up alongside Kärki in those songs as well as “Augurs of Winter,” “The River of Shadows” and “Lustful, Wrathful, Sullen” — the last of which casts a serene feel despite the severity of lines like, “When the darkness comes I have no other way but to burden you with the fire that builds within my soul” — lands in a place of emotional affirmation rather than one of just being a downer. Less a conversation with the audience than a showcase of skillful craft, Kärki‘s sophomore full-length builds outward from a central loneliness so that no matter how lush its arrangements get — and by the time “The Last Wave” shifts into the wash of melodic synth that rounds out the last few minutes with a markedly progressive cosmic swirl, the arrangement has gotten plenty lush — a human core is maintained. Part of that might stem from the manner in which Kärki‘s guitar seems to remain at the heart of Eye for an Eye no matter where it goes.

kimi karki

It is the first thing we hear on “Entangled in Pleasure” before the softly-delivered vocals begin their initial verse, and it continues to define the root of “Augurs of Winter” and “Lustful, Wrathful, Sullen” — the latter with percussive nuance behind a line that recalls Zeppelin and comes accompanied by choral singing — before “Beyond Distance” brings more actively plucked strings and the already-noted appearance from Walker, who proves instantly recognizable on the basis of his voice alone. As much of Walker‘s work resides in a similar place of drawing hope from resonant, meditative emotional darkness — and one has to wonder if the title “Beyond Distance” isn’t a nod to Warning‘s 2006 masterwork, Watching from a Distance — he fits the song remarkably well, and Kärki steps back to give him the fore as a singer, much as one might wish for some direct vocal interplay. Seems fan-biased to say “fingers crossed for next time,” but there’s a clear chemistry and stylistic cohesion between the two players that easily warrants further exploration.

“Beyond Distance” may be an outward highlight, but it’s not the ultimate achievement of Eye for an Eye. The pairing of the whisper-inclusive “Good Things in Life” (which presumably ends side A of the vinyl release) and “The Load We Carry” strips the album down to the bone of its bones before prefacing the landscape that will unfold across “The River of Shadows” and “The Last Wave,” marking a place with the punctuating thud of what might be Eye for an Eye‘s first actual drumming, which arrives no less patient, methodical or unhurried than anything in its surroundings. Interestingly, as Richardson emerges on “Spearhead,” he does so over a more active guitar line not entirely dissimilar in structure from that of “Beyond Distance” — as though Kärki is laying out a carpet of melody for these distinguished visitors — and Kärki does join his fellow Turku native in harmony later in the song, though it seems to be doubled layers of Richardson alone that create the standout moment of the song in its final verse circa the 3:15 mark, leading the way into the keyboard opening, volume swells and ambient vocals that begin “The River of Shadows.”

Though its title implies something of a threat — or maybe it’s meant as a simple reference to the notion of reprisal, being the second full-length and all — Eye for an Eye is not mired by any kind of violence. Especially as it enters its final movement, it is instead a rich and affecting journey led by the assured guidance of Kärki‘s songwriting, and while “The River of Shadows” and “The Last Wave” push beyond the solitude envisioned throughout “Entangled in Pleasure” or “Augurs of Winter” (on which Kärki never seems to actually be alone) proffered, that assurance is unwavering. “The River of Shadows” picks up late with a more forceful strum and tambourine and percussion to end with the words “…mournful cries” before a foreboding low-end rumble and sample start “The Last Wave.” Kärki‘s finish follows suit shortly before five minutes in, but turns instead to its backing harmonies and synthesized atmospherics to lead the way to Eye for an Eye‘s last moments, ending as purposefully with keys as it began with guitar as the different sides draw together into one gorgeous, cohesive and resounding entirety.

As an answer to the aesthetic promise of The Bone of My BonesEye for an Eye gracefully succeeds in setting forth on a development across multiple avenues of composition and execution. One only hopes that Kärki, always busy in a range of projects, will keep moving ahead with the raw honesty of his solo work that seems to tie them all together.

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Blaak Heat Announce The Arabian Fuzz 7″ out in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Blaak-Heat-By-Guilhem-Seguin

If there’s one thing you can rely on desert rock adventurers Blaak Heat to do it’s go far, far out. Their 2016 outing, the Tee Pee-issued Shifting Mirrors (review here), pushed the boundaries of mania in its progressive turns, keeping an Eastern influence in its underlying groove but offering an array of riffs and melodies that was absolutely dizzying. Their new single, The Arabian Fuzz, is set to release in August via Svart Records, and true to narrative, it’s far, far out.

I hear tell the band is soon to reveal a new video for one or the other of its tracks, so I won’t spoil too much about either of them, but yeah, I’ve dug in at this point and it’s fair to say they’re continuing to push themselves onto new sonic ground. Bit of an understatement there, maybe.

Basic info and some descriptive words came down the PR wire. Have at it:

blaak-heat-the-arabian-fuzz

New BLAAK HEAT 7″ – The Arabian Fuzz (Svart Records)

BLAAK HEAT returns with an oriental heavy psych manifesto, THE ARABIAN FUZZ! The band furthers 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.

https://www.facebook.com/blaakheat/
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http://www.blaakheatshujaa.com/
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Blaak Heat, “Sword of Hakim” official video

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Acid King Announce European Tour Starting July 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

acid king

I’m not usually the type to call bands legends, but I’ll make an exception in the case of Acid King, because that’s how fucking awesome I think they are. The San Francisco three-piece have been very casually added to summer fests like SonicBlast Moledo 2017, Stoned from the Underground 2017, Red Smoke and Lake on Fire 2017 over the last couple months, and they’ve now announced the string of tour dates that will tie all of those appearances and others together. Running from July 15 through Aug. 12, and appropriately enough starting at one fest and ending at another, the stint features some significant back and forth — Germany to Poland to Germany? Germany to Italy to Belgium to Austria to Germany to Israel to Portugal? — but looks like it will be a killer time all the way around as the riff legends continue to support their 2015 album Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (review here), which remains a cause well worth heralding.

Note that Acid King have a new lineup, with bassist Rafa Martinez (also Black Cobra) and drummer Bil Bowman (also Hornss) stepping in for the longtime rhythm section of Mark Lamb and Joey Osbourne. Note also the appearance at The Black Heart in London. What I wouldn’t give to see Acid King in that venue. Hell, looking at this entire run has my newly-unemployed, baby-on-the-way ass daydreaming about following the band on the road for the duration and writing a book about the experience. That would be fun.

Look at these dates and see if you don’t agree:acid king tour poster

Acid King 2017 European Tour Dates Announced

Acid King live:
15.07 Erfurt DE Stoned from the Underground
16.07 Pleszew PL Red Smoke Festival
17.07 Hamburg DE Hafenklang
18.07 Helsinki FI Linja
19.07 St. Petersburg RU MOD
22.07 Oslo NO John Dee
24.07 Utrecht NL DB’s
25.07 Bristol UK Louisiana
26.07 Glasgow UK Audio
27.07 London UK The Black Heart
28.07 Tilburg NL Little Devil
29.07 Liege BE Le Hangar
30.07 Paris FR Glazart
31.07 Munich DE Backstage
01.08 Milan IT Magnolia
03.08 Siegen DE Vortex
04.08 Waarshoot BE Roadkill Festival
05.08 Waldhausen AT Lake on Fire Festival
07.08 Vienna AT Arena
08.08 Berlin DE Lide w/ Boris
09.08 Osnabrück DE Bastard Club
10.09 Tel Aviv IS Barby Club
12.08 Moledo PT SonicBlast Moledo

Acid King is:
Lori S. – Guitar & Vocals
Rafa Martinez – Bass
Bil Bowman – Drums

www.facebook.com/AcidkingSF
www.acidking.com

Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (2015)

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Kimi Kärki to Release Eye for an Eye Aug. 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kimi karki

Along with the recent announcement that his band Lord Vicar will doom out atop the bill of the inaugural Emerald Haze festival this September in Dublin (info here) comes word that Finnish guitarist Kimi Kärki — also ex-Reverend Bizarre, Orne, and so on — will release a second solo long-player in August. Eye for an Eye, which is up for preorder now through respected purveyor Svart Records, is the follow-up to Kärki‘s 2013 solo debut, The Bone of My Bones (streamed here), which brought to bear an array of atmospheric and folkish melodies, presented raw and as honest as could be.

Going by the description below, it seems more might be in store arrangement-wise for Eye for an Eye, but with the second circular title and all it doesn’t seem unlikely there will be some continuity between the albums either. I look forward to finding out.

From the social medias:

kimi karki eye for an eye

Kimi Kärki – Eye for an Eye

Kimi Kärki: Eye For An Eye will be out in Friday the 18th of August, 2017. CD, LP, Digital via Svart Records, Finland. Also available from that cool record store near YOU. Preorder: https://www.svartrecords.com/product/eye-for-an-eye/

Kimi Kärki is a Finnish cultural historian, guitar player and singer-songwriter. Known for his versatile guitar playing and sombre compositions for Reverend Bizarre, Lord Vicar, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, and, most recently, Uhrijuhla, Kärki has developed his recognisable 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.

Eye for an Eye is Kärki’s second singer-songwriter album. It is a follow-up to The Bone of My Bones, a 2013 effort that was also released by Svart Records. When the first one was built on 12-string guitar foundation, this time things are even more intimate, personal and heartfelt, the songs are played with warm nylon string tones that come closer to the listener. But that heart is supported by a rich decoration of other sounds and harmonies.

The stories told on this record are romantic, in the old meaning of the world. They have their origins in both lived life and what could be called the Dreaming, but also resonate the culture that surrounds the dreamer. Both the pain and the joy are real. Give these songs some time, and they might heal you a bit, just like they healed the songwriter himself. Please listen loud, and preferably when you can forget everything else for a while. Even the silences speak volumes here.

To maximise the listening pleasure, Kärki again decided to invite some friends to contribute additional guest vocals. Patrick Walker is best known as the emotional vocalist and songwriter of both Warning and 40 Watt Sun, and John Richardson — who just released his superb debut album on Svart Records — is an old school musician and the Professor of Musicology at University of Turku. He was already heard on the first album, just like the two stunning female vocalists, Anna-Elena Pääkkölä and Pirita Känkänen, whose clear harmonies juxtapose Kärki’s sombre delivery. The album was again engineered by Joona Lukala. The collaboration with this sharp-eared audio wizard helped Kärki to realise the ambitious aural stories as intended — enjoy Eye for an Eye.

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Kimi Kärki, The Bone of My Bones (2013)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 of 2017 So Far

Posted in Features on June 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top-20-2017-so-far

The time has come to take a look at some of the best albums of 2017 so far. I hardly know where to start. In some ways, this list is harder to put together than the end-of-year one that comes out in December, because by then not only do you have the full year to draw on, but it’s easier to sort of put a narrative to the course of events of 12 months, whereas in this case, obviously, the story is half told. So I guess if the list feels incomplete, that might be part of why.

Even with just six months to work from, the list has become fairly immense. I’ve been keeping track of 2017 releases since about September of last year, and the amount of stuff that’s come through has been staggering. Every year brings good music, and the basic fact of the matter is that if you don’t think so it’s because you’re either unwilling to find it or unwilling to let yourself hear it, but 2017 has been a multi-tiered assault of sounds from all over the world, and it seems like whatever you might be into, the universe stands ready to accommodate.

There’s a lot to say about that — is the market flooded? — but it’s a topic for a different post. I’ll keep it short here and just say that as always, it’s an honor to be covering the stuff that I cover and that I deeply appreciate you taking the time to read. I hope if there’s a release you feel deeply passionate about that you don’t see on my list below that you’ll please let me know about it in the comments.

Also, please note that in order to qualify for this list, a record had to come out on or before June 9. That’s the cutoff.

Okay, here goes:

The Top 20 of 2017 So Far

elder reflections of a floating world

1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World
2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War
3. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe
4. Colour Haze, In Her Garden
5. Atavismo, Inerte
6. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us
7. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust
8. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn
9. The Obsessed, Sacred
10. Mothership, High Strangeness
11. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma
12. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
13. Alunah, Solennial
14. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical
13. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
14. Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
15. PH, Eternal Hayden
16. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
17. T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
18. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable
19. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
20. Lord, Blacklisted

Notes

If you keep up with this site at all, there probably aren’t a lot of surprises in there. These are all records that have been discussed at great length over the last six months, reviewed, streamed, analyzed, whathaveyou’d all the way. If you don’t believe me, search any of the names. Still, as far as my personal picks go and who I think has crafted something special over the last six months, this feels pretty representative to me. I managed to live for a full week with the list as you see it above, without making changes. That’s usually my standard.

And as always, it’s a combination of what I’ve listened to most and what I feel has had the greatest impact thus far into the year. Between the two, there was little doubt Elder would take the top spot. I’ve probably listened to the All Them Witches record more than anything else this year, including Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World, but the truth is the Massachusetts trio are working at a level of their own making in terms of their sonic progression, and that they’ve emerged as one of if not the most pivotal American underground heavy rock bands going. The situation was much the same when they put out Lore in 2015 and claimed that year’s top-album spot, but even since then their sound has expanded and they continue to demand ultimate respect.

As for the All Them Witches album — absolute stunner. The increased depth of their arrangements on Sleeping Through the War came at no expense of songwriting, resulting in ultra-memorable material that could either wash over you with melody or shove you out of your seat with the force of its rhythm, and that band continues to be a treasure. No other way to put it.

From there, we move into what I think are the four best heavy psych offerings of 2017 so far, with Samsara Blues Experiment, Colour Haze, Atavismo and Sun Blood Stories, in that order. Samsara Blues Experiment’s return has been a joy to witness and their first album in four years lived up to the occasion. Colour Haze expanded the palette from their last album with In Her Garden and proved as immersive as always. I’m still getting to know that record. Atavismo’s second full-length upped the progressive influences without losing fluidity or cohesion in songwriting, and Sun Blood Stories’ hypnotic shoegaze offered expansive thrills and a sense of varied, beautifully crafted exploration.

A pair of exciting young bands thereafter in Colorado’s Cloud Catcher, whose boogie is right-on-right-on and whose development continues to hold much potential, and Vokonis, whose crushing riffs on The Sunken Djinn were met with an increased focus on structure and tightening of approach that maximized overall impact. The Obsessed’s unexpected return could only be called a triumphant one, and Mothership’s third long-player found them working in a richer sense of mood than previous outings, adding yet more character to what was still a blast of good-time rock and roll. They round out the top 10 in full command of who they are as players.

Granted, the next 10 releases are kind of all over the place, but I think that just shows the overarching quality of work being done across the board. From Spaceslug’s melodic stoner-psych to Electric Moon’s studio return — so, so, so good — to Alunah’s continued growth in nature-worshiping heavy and Arc of Ascent’s comebacker of rolling heavy riffs and metaphysical themes, there’s been so much to take in. I especially like the pairing of Rozamov and Siena Root as a sense of scope for 2017 so far; the former being so dark and crushing and the latter who lived up to calling their record A Dream of Lasting Peace. You want to know both ends of the spectrum? There they are.

PH’s Eternal Hayden gets a nod for its effective reset of the context of that band following the completion of their trilogy of albums, and Geezer’s Psychoriffadelia might have been something of a tossoff in the making, but the level at which the New York trio jams nonetheless assures it a spot here. Plus, a Nazareth cover. So duh.

I couldn’t help but include T.G. Olson’s Foothills Before the Mountain on the list as the Across Tundras frontman creeps closer to a full-band sound for his solo work, adding to his acoustic singer-songwriter foundations, and the crush of Telekinetic Yeti’s post-Sleep riffing evoked so many nods I thought they deserved one here as well. Placing The Devil and the Almighty Blues was difficult, but especially after seeing them live, I felt like I had a better idea of where they were coming from on II, so knew they belonged somewhere, even if it was tucked in at the end. And of course, Lord. Always killer, always experimenting, always chaotic. Never have grind and sludge sounded more cohesive together. They’re the band I wish Soilent Green had become, and yes, I mean that.

Honorable Mention

Let’s do another 10 releases, shall we?

21. Beastmaker, Inside the Skull
22. Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages
23. Brume, Rooster
24. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
25. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
26. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
27. Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light
28. Steak, No God to Save
29. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
30. Dool, Here Now There Then

And just to make the point, here are even more worthy of note in this space:

Elbrus, Elbrus
Cortez, The Depths Below
Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury
Child, Blueside (a December 2016 release, maybe, but I think the vinyl was this year, so whatever)
Pallbearer, Heartless
Spidergawd, IV
Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
Loss, Horizonless

There are of course other names as well that come to mind. Like I said at the outset, it’s a crowded field: Hymn, Arbouretum, Green Meteor, REZN, Demon Head, Galley Beggar, Devil’s Witches, Orango, Heavy Traffic, Coltsblood, Mt. Mountain, Vokonis, Solstafir, High Plains, on and on.

Also worth highlighting several really, really quality live records that have surfaced so far this year. I didn’t really know where to place them among the other studio offerings, but they deserve note for sure:

Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen
Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
Enslaved, Roadburn Live

More to Come

Of course, we’re still just barely halfway through the year, so keep on the lookout for more to follow. If you didn’t see my massive 200+ albums to watch for list in January, it has many that have come out and many more still to surface, but here are a few highlight names as well that you’re going to want to keep an eye on in the months ahead:

Queens of the Stone Age
Radio Moscow
The Atomic Bitchwax
Kadavar
Ufomammut
The Midnight Ghost Train
Moon Rats
Clamfight
Egypt
the Melvins
Bison Machine
Seedy Jeezus
High on Fire
Monster Magnet

Thanks for Reading

Before I check out, I’d like to give special mention to Lo-Pan’s In Tensions EP as the best short release of the year thus far. Along with EPs from Godhunter, Kings Destroy, Solace and Shroud Eater, it has assured those seeking a quick fix are handed their ass in return for asking.

Well, that’s about where I’m at with it. As per usual, I’m sure there are things I forgot and/or left off here, because I’m human and whatnot, so please if you have something to add, feel free to do so in the comments so long as you can keep it cordial. No name calling. I’m sensitive and you’ll ruin my whole day. I mean that.

Thanks again for being a part of this and here’s to an excellent rest of 2017.

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Witchthroat Serpent Premiere “Striped Dragon”

Posted in audiObelisk on May 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

witchthroat serpent

French doomers Witchthroat Serpent will release their new single Striped Dragon on June 15 through Svart Records. That makes it just in time for the Toulouse three-piece to hit the road for a week of dates mostly in Germany but also with stops in Belgium and France as well as they continue to support their 2016 sophomore outing, Sang-Dragon. “Striped Dragon,” which premieres today on the player below, is one of two outlier tracks included on the 300-copy 7″ pressing that was recorded at the same time as the album but ultimately held back, and given the shift from gritty and raw doom to more psychedelic roll, one can understand why. As much as cuts like “A Caw Rises from My Guts” or “Siberian Mist” brought garage swirl to post-Electric Wizard doom, that record was much more about crushing skulls than expanding the minds held within them. It’s a question of intent.

And when it comes to intent, Witchthroat Serpent‘s is — on one release or the other — clearly geared toward darkness. From itswitchthroat serpent striped dragon hey-check-it-out-it’s-a-naked-chick-with-horns cover art to the 90 seconds-plus of feedback that leads the way into “Striped Dragon” itself, the new single brims with a rough-hewn psychedelic atmosphere. It’s a trip, but it’s a bleak trip, and that minute and a half of feedback isn’t simply wasted time when it comes to setting the ambience for the groove that follows. Pushed forward by drummer Niko Lass with the raw fuzz of Lo Klav‘s bass as its foundation, “Striped Dragon” complements Fredrik Bolzann‘s buzzsaw guitar tone and cleaner-but-still-shouted vocals with a persistent line of organ, which not only distinguishes the song from the album that otherwise might’ve surrounded it, but ties it aesthetically to both modern cultism and classic heavy rock in a subtle but resonant fashion.

Structurally simple, “Striped Dragon” plows through its verses on the back of said elements and at the end of its sub-six-minute run feels somewhat short in a manner that might lead one to immediately flip the platter over and take on the B-side — all the more effective as a single, then. And, since most of Sang-Dragon‘s pressings have completely sold through at this point, all the better to give Witchthroat Serpent something new to take on the road in the coming weeks. One wonders if highlighting this side of their approach might lead the band to incorporate such a wider sonic berth to their next long-player, but I think we probably have a bit to go before we find out one way or the other.

In the meantime, you can check out “Striped Dragon” on the player below, followed by more info courtesy of Svart‘s preorder page, which is here.

Please enjoy:

After their acclaimed second LP “Sang Dragon” (2016), Witchthroat Serpent continue to blaze their own path in the most powerful manner possible. “Striped Dragon” is not merely an addendum; it is a fierce metallic onslaught of occult psychedelia, strong enough to stand on its own.

Recorded live at Drudenhaus Studio during the “Sang-Dragon” sessions, this new 7?EP reveals an even more radical side of the doom shamans. These two exclusive tracks push the band’s sound into a new territory. Fierce and mind-warping, riddled with fuzzy hammering riffs and ever groovier pounding, it’s a mean follow-up to their previous sonic excursions.

“Striped Dragon” is presented in a deluxe gatefold cover, a carefully-crafted work of art by Branca Studio. This piece is limited to 300 copies and is a one-time pressing.

Available on: 15.6.2017

WITCHTHROAT SERPENT “RISING SUN TOUR” June 2017:
19/06 BE Antwerpen “Kid’s Kaffee”
20/06 GER Berlin “Tiefgrund”
21/06 GER Dresden “Ostpol”
22/06 GER Leipzig “Black label Pub”
23/06 GER Nuremberg “Kunstverein”
24/06 GER Munich “St Helena Festival”
25/06 FR Paris “Dr Feelgood”

Witchthroat Serpent on Thee Facebooks

Witchthroat Serpent on Bandcamp

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

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