The Sabbathian Announce Jan. 25 Release for Latum Alterum

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the sabbathian

Following the debut EP Ritual Rites, which Svart issued in 2014, The Sabbathian will issue their debut long-player on Jan. 25. The group has pared down from a trio to a two-piece since the EP, with multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis (GnuJenzeitsHour of Thirteen, so many others) and Norewgian-native vocalist Anette Uvaas Guldbransen (Nàttsòl, Mäctätus) as its sole inhabitants — though Liv Kristine of Leaves’ Eyes makes a guest appearance as well — and if the band itself positions the songs more in line with classic metal and doom. A comparison to early Bathory is always a mixed bag: How early are we talking? But with that intrigue added, I’m only more on the hook for listening to the album when the time comes.

Art and info came down the PR wire:

the sabbathian latum alterum

THE SABBATHIAN set release date for SVART debut album

Today, Svart Records sets January 25th, 2019 as the international release date for The Sabbathian’s highly anticipated debut album, Latum Alterum, on CD and vinyl LP formats.

The words “highly anticipated” come quickly to mind when talking of the US-Norwegian project The Sabbathian and the chance that there will be new material from them. The band, formed by Chad Davis (Hour of 13 and many more) and Anette Uvaas Guldbrandsen (Nàttsòl), released their debut EP, Ritual Rites, on Svart Records in 2014. The duo’s personal approach to old-school doom won over many metal hearts, and the wait for new material is over in January 2019.

The Sabbathian’s debut full-length, Latum Alterum, is scheduled for release on January 25th on LP, digital, and limited double CD (including Ritual Rites EP on CD for the first time). The album is a considerably darker affair compared to the EP, a step away from the origins of doom metal and towards the heavier vistas traversed by Nordic metalmongers such as Bathory or Candlemass. Vocalist Anette Uvaas Guldbransen describes the album thus: “The overall theme can be described as slightly morbid, as it is very much about passing over to the other side – latum alterum. The odd one out is the song ‘Embrace The Dark,’ which retains the sound of the EP. The intro and outro tracks are meant as a way of blessing the souls on their journey.”

“The way we work on the music takes time,” adds Guldbransen. “Chad would send me the music and I then work my way through the songs. As the music is quite different now, I must admit I had quite a struggle at first with some of the tracks. My best friend Liv Kristine Espenæs has joined me on one track, mainly because I thought her voice would lift the song and also because I love her voice. I have sung on several songs with her ex-band Leaves’ Eyes, and now I felt it was her turn to sing on something I made.”

First track premiere and preorder info to be revealed shortly.

Tracklisting for The Sabbathian’s Latum Alterum
1. Requiem… (Intro)
2. The Brightest Light
3. Liti Kjersti
4. Head Of A Traitor
5. One Night Of Cruelty
6. Embrace The Dark
7. Evig Hvile / Libera me… (outro)

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The Sabbathian, Ritual Rites (2014)

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Review & Full Album Stream: New Light Choir, Torchlight

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

new light choir torchlight

[Click play above to stream New Light Choir’s Torchlight in full. Album is out this Friday, Nov. 23, on Svart Records.]

Near the end of organ-laced second track “Queen of Winter” there is a lyrical turn. The driving 4:34 piece arrives following opener “Grand Architect” on the New Light Choir‘s Svart-delivered third album, Torchlight, and is the final chapter in a quick initial salvo before the six-minute “Firebird” takes hold as the longest cut included. It happens in the last stretch of the song. The line, “Before the winter begins,” is being repeated following a suitable tempest of riffs and rhythm, as the Raleigh, North Carolina, self-recording, studio-only two-piece of guitarist/vocalist John Niffenegger and drummer Chris Dalton seem to reinvent progressive, blackened and traditional metals in their own image, and at 4:15, the lyric changes for the last go. Instead of, “Before the winter begins,” it’s, “Before her winter begins,” and on paper that’s not a huge shift, but its nonetheless emblematic of the level of detail and precision put into Torchlight as a whole.

Right down to one word in one of 10 songs for one line on a 45-minute album, every moment of Torchlight feels like it’s doing exactly what New Light Choir has intended it to do. The narrative around the album is one of stylistic reach, and indeed, there’s plenty of it, but across the tumult of “Omens” and the what-if-Rush-had-invented-black-metal “Psalm 6,” all frenetic drumming and poised vocal melody and blindingly progressive figures and structures, but it’s not just about taking two or three or four different styles and smashing them together. There are bands who do that and make it work to varying degrees of success, but rather than highlight the divisions between the various elements at play — and it is very much play — across Torchlight, New Light Choir work to erase the boundaries of genre in the first place. It’s as if their goal was to sit down and construct a record where every individual moment was geared toward rendering “File Under” moot.

New Light Choir made their debut with a self-titled LP in 2010, and songs from it carried almost a Wovenhand-style sense of space (thinking of “Choral” near the middle of the tracklist), but as they followed that with Volume II in 2014 — High Roller Records released it in 2015 — and found themselves working more in a classic production-style with an overarching theme, the creative development was palpable. The same is true in sitting that second outing next to Torchlight, as “Adamantine” seems to have found the blend of fullness and rawness in the recording itself that the first two full-lengths seemed to be driving toward, and their lyrics about an unbreakable metal there could hardly be more appropriate. While I don’t know what the circumstances of the recording were, the band worked on Torchlight across three years from later-2015 through February of this year, and while that could’ve just been a matter of their not having time to get into Studio 775 for anything other than laying down snippets at a time, as Niffenegger intones the line “Heavy metal in my veins” shortly before the acoustic guitar and choral keys lead the way out and into the thrashier start of the aforementioned “Psalm 6,” the material indeed sounds like it’s been lived with.

new light choir

It’s thought through, but not staid. From “Grand Architect” onward, Dalton‘s drums are a catalyst for the melded aesthetics, whether it’s in that leadoff as they bring classic doom and thrash into heady coexistence, or on “Golden Ring,” as the graceful lyric “And so it goes” is met with a corresponding instrumental turn on the way to its last verse. Atmosphere is no less central throughout, but on a sheer performance level, Torchlight is a triumph in its uncompromised look at what metal can do and can be. If it took an actual three years of work from top to bottom to make it, I could hardly be surprised listening to the balance of lead and rhythm guitar layers in “Omens” earlier on or the running toms that start and crash into the beginning of the penultimate “Last March,” which nearly blasts through its earlier moments before reimagining Primordial-style post-black metal with that ever-present touch of prog in the vocals but a locked in half-time megagroove after its midpoint that seems to make the journey on that march all the more worthwhile.

Before that, they delve into a rousing cascade on the three-minute “Moondawn Mirage III,” which eschews lyrics until turning to acoustics in its final movement and is the shortest track on the album but still well more substantial than an interlude, and after, they bring forth the finale, “Stardust and Torchlight,” which feels less like a summary than a culmination. With a steady gallop in its initial verse and chorus, it’s black metal but for the vocals, and even after a momentary slowdown just past the halfway mark, the turn into a mid-paced progression and a winding, plotted lead feels smooth and as natural as any of the many other headspinning changes that have preceded it. As they do with “Moondawn Mirage III” and “Adamantine,” they finish “Stardust and Torchlight” with a move into acoustic guitar, residual feedback holding out beneath a few quick plucks and a final strum that once again serves a reminder of just how purposeful Torchlight is in its directed nuance.

Different listeners will hear various references in the songs, but ultimately New Light Choir‘s style belongs to no one so much as to the duo itself, and the manner in which they’re able to make it own is as much a reshaping of metal as it is an homage to it. I’m not sure if it’s fair to call them experimental, if only for the connotation of well-let’s-try-this-and-see-what-happens that seems to bring, where Dalton and Niffenegger execute their work in a not-makeshift way, but very much befitting their status as a studio project. That’s not to say the tracks on Torchlight wouldn’t work live if a full lineup came together around the two founders, just that that’s what it would take for the material as it is to be brought to life on a stage. Whether that happens or not — it’s been eight years since their debut and it hasn’t yet, so I’ll hazard a guess that it’s not top priority — the clarity of their vision is one of their greatest assets throughout Torchlight, and if that’s the thread that carries them through the next several years of work on their next round of material, it can only be a win.

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New Light Choir on Bandcamp

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Demon Head Sign to Svart Records; Hellfire Ocean Void out Feb. 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

demon head

Danish doom rockers Demon Head have signed to Svart Records and will release their third long-player, Hellfire Ocean Void, through the venerable imprint on Feb. 22. The new album follows behind 2017’s Thunder on the Fields (review here), which found the five-piece pressing further into their traditionalist roots while crafting the boogie into a shape of their own. Since their outset, they’ve had aesthetic, songwriting and performance working steadily in their favor, plus they’ve toured, so an alliance with a label like Svart seems a natural next step in their forward progression. Kudos to the band and another killer pickup for the label. It’s good news all the way around.

And not the least because it means 2019 will bring a new one from Demon Head. There’s no audio from Hellfire Ocean Void out yet, but the band issued the two-songer single The Resistance (review here) earlier this year if you find yourself looking for a fix.

The PR wire brings word:

demon head hellfire ocean void

DEMON HEAD set release date for new SVART album – reveal cover, tracklisting

Svart Records sets February 22nd, 2019 as the international release date for Demon Head’s highly anticipated third album, Hellfire Ocean Void, on CD and vinyl LP formats.

Hellfire Ocean Void is composed by eight songs that unfold themselves effortlessly perfect in the tension between a delicate sense of composition and the uncompromising urgency with which the five musicians deliver the performance of each song. Mournful melodies of unearthly dimensions are played on piano and orchestrated with the use of classic rock instrumentation – electric guitars, bass, and drums. Dark and mystical chord progressions, sporadic guitar solos, chaotic arpeggio synthesizers, and the prophetic words of M.F.L are held together by the solid drum beats of J.W. Ambient recordings of acoustic instruments are accompanied by tape manipulation, which slowly develops into a haunting soundspace, showing B.G.N’s skills as an avant-garde composer. Guitar leads morph into the breathtaking improvisations of T.G.N as the band’s energetic center of bassist M.F leaves nothing to be questioned.

The writing, recording, mixing, and production was all done during the winter 2017-2018 by Demon Head in their own analog studio. Isolating themselves in the frozen countryside by the coast of Denmark and having no studio time limitations made it possible to encounter the recording studio as a sixth member, enabling them to produce the album with sincere curiosity and perfection. The only other person involved was the legendary producer Flemming Rasmussen (Metallica, Morbid Angel, Mercyful fate, etc.) who mastered the album in Sweet Silence Studios.

With Hellfire Ocean Void, Demon Head have created a masterpiece in contemporary rock music. As any other truly original music, it is difficult to draw any similarities, since the music seems to hint at nothing but its own integrity: an integrity that is based upon the insight that Demon Head gains from loving and accepting the many clichés and traditions that follow from playing rock music – and from that foundation moves far into the unknown, into the darkness and into our hearts.

First track and preorder info to be revealed shortly.

Tracklisting for Demon Head’s Hellfire Ocean Void
1. Rumours
2. The Night Is Yours
3. A Flaming Sea
4. In The Hour Of The Wolf
5. Labyrinth
6. Strange Eggs
7. Death’s Solitude
8. Mercury & Sulphour

Demon Head is:
J.W. – Drums
M.S.F. – Bass
B.G.N. – Guitar
T.G.N. – Guitar
M.F.L. – Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/Demoncoven/
http://demonhead.bandcamp.com/
https://demonhead.bigcartel.com/
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Demon Head, “The Resistance” live at Muskelrock 2018

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Shitty Person Premiere “Take Your Clothes Off” Video; Album out Now on Svart Records

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

shitty person

I won’t tell you that you need to do this or that, but if you have a second, you should hit up Shitty Person‘s Bandcamp page and take a look at the lyrics of their debut album, Judgement. Released by Svart Records this past June, the eight-track post/heavygaze/whatever outing by the Seattle-based outfit does so much more to capture the truth of misanthropy in lines like “Nobody believes shit talk’s all true/Even god’s not an asshole like you/If you believe half this shit’s true/Fuck you” than any number of doom bands out there who write songs about killing ladies or some other faux-edgy crap like that. Self-loathing don’t come cheap, and it bleeds through the slow tempos, sax solos, airy tones and dual-vocal melodies of Judgement in songs like opener “Butthole,” in which the above lines appear, and the subsequent “Take Your Clothes Off,” in which the sole lyric amidst the rolling drones and lush tonal unfurling is, well, “Take your clothes off.” If that’s there at all — and I’m not sure it is. To call it anything less than punk rock would be cheapening it, I think.

Later in the record, the they take on Electric Wizard‘s “Behemoth,” but before that, there’s the sad ramble of “Champagne and Cakes,” which brings the vocals of guitarist Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy (see also: Lesbian and Fungal Abyss) forward in a Michael Gira-informed dark post-Americana shitty person judgementthat gives way to biting noise by its finish. It’s hard to think of “Nobody Likes You” and “Your God is Ending You” as anything other than the crux of Judgement, both for the fact that they comprise more than a third of the album’s runtime and the perspective from which they work, both of them saying a lot with not a ton of words in an efficiency that somehow doesn’t at all undercut the fuckall so rampant in the proceedings. “Nobody Likes You” makes an attempt at kind self-talk with “Relax and be nice to yourself/And don’t be that way” before the inevitable turn: “Nobody likes you/Nobody likes you/Like you don’t like you/Nobody likes you,” a voice that seems to be directed inward ahead of “Your God is Ending You,” which is more accusatory.

Either way, Shitty Person is a fucking slog and that’s exactly what it’s intended to be. The disaffection of “Dumbshit” I’m not even going to recount here, because it wasn’t really my intention to just quote lyrics for this entire post, but needless to say, it’s palpable. “Behemoth” is brought suitably into Judgement‘s sonic context, and closer “Dark Bear” is an effects-laden 47-second spoken story of loss that ends the downerism plunge with another low. It’s not so much about catharsis as it is an exploration of that moment where you’re in it and there’s that feeling of utter hopelessness. Where depression informs everything you see and how you see yourself seeing everything; that bleak narcissism that produces an endless cycle of self-loathing that you can’t see any way out of. The last line, “And when he passed, everything turned to blue,” sums up a lot of it, but even that is just a slice of the actual-misery portrayed throughout. Where it’s always been that way and there won’t ever be a time where it isn’t. People call death metal brutal. Ha.

You can watch the “Take Your Clothes Off” video below. It’s got bathrobes. The album is name-your-price on the aforementioned Bandcamp if you’re up for it, and more info follows the clip on the player here.

Please enjoy:

Shitty Person, “Take Your Clothes Off” official video premiere

The video for Take Your Clothes Off is the secord in a series of visual versions of songs from Shitty Person’s debut album Judgement (Svart Records). Directed by Seattle artist/photographer/musician Lauren Rodriguez, it mirrors the song’s ecstatic apathy and laces the senses with same drug-fueled lust that the song engenders. Shot on film, the footage was captured at Shitty Person’s album release show at Seattle’s Clock Out Lounge where the band performed in their bathrobes as they are wont to do. This work follows the band’s first visual effort Butthole (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=161tyF1Of0k) directed by I Want You (http://iwantyoustudio.com/).

Shitty Person is the latest solo-ish project from Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy (Lesbian, Fungal Abyss). Along with other members of Lesbian, Rose Windows, and Master Musicians of Bukkake, Shitty Person makes music about self-hatred and counterproductive self-reflection. It sounds like drugs, has lots of swears, and will probably make you feel terrible.

Although a relatively new band, Shitty Person’s roots run deep. “I’ve been playing drums for metal bands for almost two decades,” explains Thomas-Kennedy, “but before that, I used to front a couple of less heavy bands as the primary songwriter and guitar player. During the time I was touring with Lesbian-the-band, a lot of songs started kicking around my head that I didn’t know what to do with. As that project began to wind down, I had more time to start putting some of these ideas together. I bought a guitar and finalized a pile of songs. I decided to ask some of my favorite musicians if they would help me put a group together, and to my surprise, everyone I approached said they’d be into it. We played a live show to a sold-out crowd opening for Moon Duo in Seattle. It was the first time I had played guitar and sang in front of an audience in over 15 years. It went pretty well, so we made this album. I am extremely proud of it and honored that so much great talent jumped on board to pull it off.”

Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy – guitar and vocals
Daniel LaRochelle – rhythm guitar
Arran McInnis – lead guitar
Nicole Thomas-Kennedy – bass guitar
Dave Abramson – drums and percussion
Rabia Shaheen Qazi – vocals
Sam Yoder – percussion
Skerik – saxophone

Produced by Randall Dunn
Mastered by Jason Ward

Video directed by Lauren Rodriguez

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Shitty Person on Bandcamp

Svart Records website

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Svart Records on Bandcamp

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Trees to Release Self-Titled Debut Dec. 7 on Svart

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

trees

The ’60s-styled cover art for Trees‘ self-titled debut is no less a coincidence than the Lennon-esque pair of glasses that show up in the promo photo above. The Savonlinna, Finland-based semi-acid folk rock outfit take a decidedly classic approach to melody and harmony, retaining a presence in their songwriting that seems to ask, “Would it kill you to get some sun?” No, it wouldn’t. Likewise, the songcraft of Santeri Vänttinen goes down with surprising ease, his vocals in conjunction with those of Joose Keskitalo on the lead-single “Out in the Open” reaching toward “Two of Us” with more instrumental movement behind. It’s peaceful stuff to ease troubled souls, and it arrives with an unpretentious run of 10 tracks with the considerable backing and endorsement of Svart Records. And if you’re looking for precedent on the label handling folk rock, I’ll casually remind you of the Talmud Beach record they issued in 2016, among others.

Get freaked:

trees self titled

Finland’s TREES set release date for SVART debut, reveal new video

Today, Svart Records sets December 7th as the international release date for the self-titled debut album of Finland’s Trees. The album will be released on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats.

Fresh out of the woods of eastern Finland, the Savonian quartet Trees have grown out of the fertile cultural milieu of Savonlinna, Finland, from the same circle of friends and artists as Paavoharju, whose mastermind Lauri Ainala has shot and directed the band’s first music video “Out In The Open,” which basks in autumnal Van Goghian colors that suit the melancholy music perfectly.

In addition to singer/songwriter Santeri Vänttinen, Trees are built of Joose Keskitalo (guitar and backing vocals – a prominent solo artist, as well), Teemu Muikku (bass), and Jani Lamberg (drums). The music the quartet makes draws inspiration from classic US folk rock of the ’60s in the vein of The Byrds, The Band, and Neil Young, but handles things with a vaguely apocalyptic eastern Finnish approach.

“I met our drummer Jani by accident after not seeing him in years, and we had a beer and decided to form a band,” says Vänttinen. Jani Lamberg brought with him Joose Keskitalo, on whose early records he had played. Joose first promised to record and mix the band’s album, but soon he found himself playing guitar and singing harmony vocals in the group.

Trees’ eponymous debut album, consisting of Vänttinen’s compositions, has been recorded live in the studio, which fits the band’s organic music perfectly. In the meantime, check out the aforementioned video “Out in the Open” HERE at Svart’s official YouTube channel.

Tracklisting for Trees’ Trees
1. Lovers
2. Tomorrow Decides
3. Scarlet Letters
4. Like a Tombstone
5. Wherever You May Be
6. Indian Summer
7. Waltz
8. Out In The Open
9. Forest
10. A New Day

https://www.facebook.com/abandcalledtrees/
www.svartrecords.com
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www.twitter.com/svartrecords

Trees, “Out in the Open” official video

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Vanishing Kids Premiere “Reaper”; Heavy Dreamer Due Nov. 30

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

vanishing kids

Wisconsin’s Vanishing Kids will release their fifth full-length, Heavy Dreamer, Nov. 30 on Svart Records. It’s been 15 years since vocalist/keyboardist Nikki Drohomyreky and guitarist Jason Hartman made their debut with Rest the Glove that Wears You Down and five since their fourth LP, Spirit Visions, but their history seems to cross genres as much as time, and where their last outing found them dug into post-rock airiness, Heavy Dreamer carries a deep-running gothic heft, with the melodic wisps filling out the mix of “Mockingbird” reminding that indeed it’s the season of October Rust while the 7:57 title-track, second in the playlist behind “Creation” and very much part of an immersion-minded opening salvo with it, pulls elements of new wave into its chorus and transposes them onto the organ-laced doom of the leadoff. Deeply progressive and marked by the patient, standout performance of Drohomyreky on vocals and the low rumble of bass from Jerry Sofran, Heavy Dreamer is nonetheless fluid as it moves through psychedelic pastoralia on “Without a Sun,” creating a wash of tone and melody held together by Hart Allan Miller‘s drumming and the foundation of Hartman‘s guitar. The music is consistently, persistently adventurous, and there’s nowhere it goes to which it does not bring a stately, engaging presence.

The effect of “Creation” and “Heavy Dreamer” at the outset lingers. The latter is particularly memorable for Drohomyreky‘s soulful delivery of the title-line, and together they comprise more than 15 of the record’s total 51 minutes, so it’s not an insubstantial portion. Their placement seems purposeful, as only the nodding-doom-into-holy-crap-where’d-that-solo-come-from “Reaper” on side B hits the seven-minute vanishing kids heavy dreamermark otherwise, but more than runtime it’s a question of atmosphere and setting the mood. And whatever else Heavy Dreamer is — it is many things, and I suspect many different things for different listeners — it is a work of mood. Caked in echo and begun with a flourish of synthesized beats, “Without a Sun” projects a massive but not overwrought vibe, and while side B opener “Eyes of Secrets” isn’t without its shoegazing aspects, the flow between the back and forth swells of volume atop Miller‘s steady beat are nigh on hypnotic, with a finish of harsher guitar noise as though to willfully shock the listener back to consciousness. Following “Reaper,” which encases the aforementioned guitar showcase with a memorable chorus, “Rainbows” eases into a vision of post-rock and psychedelic doom that gracefully brings the styles together in a manner that’s an immediate highlight. A drifting figure on guitar in its second half opens to a blurring of the line between itself and keys — it’s all melody, right? — and once more the vocals provide a human presence in the wash of volume and tone, albeit an otherworldly one.

There’s a late spoken sample in “Rainbows” that’s somewhat obscured by the guitar solo, but the penultimate track ends with poise and gives way to “Magnificent Magenta Blue” as it once more revives the melodic reach of the keys and guitar and the dynamic they share with the earthbound drums pushing them forward. Hartman, who’s also played in Jex Thoth since 2013, doesn’t waste the opportunity to cast out one last stretch of deceptively shredding leadwork, and the vibe of culmination is palpable as he does so, with Sofran and Miller rolling the finale through its procession as the vocals recede and wait to return for a last chorus. Always, the keys remain, and the organ is not only essential to Vanishing Kids‘ overall approach, but it’s the base around which they’re able to shift between styles with such apparent ease while remaining sonically coherent. They’re not the only element doing so at any given time between the vocals, guitar, bass and drums, but the keys do a lot of work in tying the songs together throughout Heavy Dreamer, and ultimately allow the record to live up to its title with an unflinching sense of its own mission, knowing what it wants to be and how to be it. Or them, as it were for material so multifaceted.

I’m happy today to host the premiere of “Reaper” from Heavy Dreamer. You’ll find the track below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Vanishing Kids, “Reaper” official track premiere

Svart Records sets November 30th as the international release date for Vanishing Kids’ highly anticipated fourth album, Heavy Dreamer. The somnambulic doom metal group’s new album will be available on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats.

Hailing from Wisconsin, Vanishing Kids has been an ever-evolving artistic and musical journey since the early 2000s, with core members and founders Jason Hartman (Jex Thoth) and Nikki Drohomyreky on vocals. As kids of the ’70s and ’80s who grew up on metal, prog rock, krautrock, psych, punk, and goth, they have managed to carve out a niche of their own for themselves.

The band’s newest and most powerful culmination arose when Jason Hartman’s childhood hero – and Midwest metal legend – Jerry Sofran (Lethal Heathen, Mirrored Image) joined in 2013. Shortly thereafter, the hard-hitting Hart Allan Miller (Wartorn, Deathwish, Tenement) joined on drums to complete the lineup.

Being the first full-length outing from Vanishing Kids in over five years, Heavy Dreamer is soaked in captivating shoegazey fuzz vaguely reminiscent of what My Bloody Valentine would sound like had they grown up on a diet of psychedelic doom metal and occult rock.

Tracklisting for Vanishing Kids’ Heavy Dreamer
1. Creation
2. Heavy Dreamer
3. Without A Sun
4. Mockingbird
5. Eyes of Secrets
6. Reaper
7. Rainbows
8. Magnetic Magenta Blue

Vanishing Kids is:
Nikki Drohomyreky- Vocals, Organ, Synths, Percussion
Jason Hartman- Guitar
Jerry Sofran- Bass
Hart Allan Miller- Drums

Vanishing Kids on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

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Svart Records on Twitter

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Review & Full Album Stream: The Exploding Eyes Orchestra, II

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the exploding eyes orchestra ii

[Click play above to stream II by The Exploding Eyes Orchestra in its entirety. Album is out Oct. 5 on Svart Records.]

Sometimes plans change. When Finland’s The Exploding Eyes Orchestra released their first album, I (discussed here), through Svart Records in 2015, guitarist and project spearhead Thomas Corpse noted that the follow-up would be out the next year. By that time, the songs were already at least two years old, having been recorded during downtime from Corpse‘s main outfit, Jess and the Ancient Ones. Other members of that band, including vocalist Jasmin “Jess” Saarela herself, took part in the recording, which produced 14 songs total, seven of which were used on I and seven of which were held back for II. 2016 passed without the album’s arrival and 2017 did likewise, as in the meantime, Jess and the Ancient Ones returned to activity in 2015 with Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes and followed that last year with The Horse and Other Weird Tales.

Now, three years after its predecessor from the same sessions and upwards of a half-decade after the tracks were recorded, II sees issue via Svart, and while Corpse had initially said there would be more material recorded under the moniker, the band wound up with the same lineup as Jess and the Ancient Ones, and so what would’ve been a third set of tracks for The Exploding Eyes Orchestra simply became the next Jess and the Ancient Ones release — presumably timing-wise at least some of that material would’ve wound up on The Horse and Other Weird Tales, but don’t quote me on that. Either way, the 43-minute run of II reportedly brings The Exploding Eyes Orchestra to a close, never to be heard from again. Cast into an ether of gothic moodmaking, ne’er to return. So yeah, they’ll probably have a third album out in 2019. I’m not saying watch for it, but I’m not saying don’t either. Sometimes plans change.

The universe of endless possibilities aside, The Exploding Eyes Orchestra make a resonant closing statement not only to answer their debut, but to expand on it in ambience and depth. In the shuffling psycho-cabaret of centerpiece “The Things You Do” — also the shortest track at 3:46 — with its bouncing piano line and eerie echoes, standout hook and interwoven organ in the chorus, and the bass rumbling in the heart of second cut “Belladonna,” another memorable stretch, but more winding and encompassing in a progressive heavy rock kind of way, metal in its root but purposefully not metal, The Exploding Eyes Orchestra dig into an atmosphere less about color than about mood. Certainly the arrangements from the start of opener “Those of Us Left” — which begins at a peaceful fade-in leading to a hopeful line of guitar and an understated initial push emerging with backing string sounds and a deeper, breathy vocal from Saarela, steady and low-mixed drums, and flourish of sax — are not a minor consideration, but the overall affect of II isn’t about creating a psychedelic soundscape so much as working toward a lyrical melancholy, not without its sense of playfulness or drama, but less ritual than execution of an idea filmed in grayscale and edited by hand.

the exploding eyes orchestra

“Those of Us Left,” at 7:24, bookends with closer 10-minute “Love Eternal” as the two longest inclusions, and though the album itself is only half the story of the sessions from whence it comes, there’s nothing about hearing it on its own that feels incomplete or like it’s lacking either for expression or purposefulness. Rather, with the surge of keyboard (or guitar) in “Belladonna” and the swaying and spacious of the sung-in-Finnish “Harmain” backing “Belladonna” en route to “The Things You Do” with nuance of weirdo lead guitar and Mellotron, there’s as much depth as one might ask in the proceedings across side A, and with the slower unfolding of “The Birch and the Sparrow” leading off the final three tracks, a graceful presence rises up in the band’s sound, further expanding the palette in patient and engrossing fashion.

A pickup in tempo and volume in the final movement of “The Birch and the Sparrow” fades into the classic rocking “Go Go Johnny Do,” full in its arrangement with rhythm and lead guitar layers, bass, keys and drums at its foundation, but never overstated, it’s a hook not quite as earwormish as “Belladonna,” but not exactly trying to be the same thing either. Even-keeled for its early going, it works on a subtle build to a louder shove in its second half, kicking in right at the four-minute mark with the chorus and receding again before the ending crafts one of the album’s most effective washes. Cymbals cap, and a moment of silence precedes the arrival of “Love Eternal,” which is only fair given both the lofty subject matter and the execution of the closer itself, which takes shape gradually around a central piano rhythm rather than drums, as guitar and keys back Saarela in almost a hymnal fashion — the keys aping choral sounds for a religious vibe ahead of some church organ — before violin makes its presence known in the second half.

After eight minutes in, the finale ends somewhat abruptly and drops out to a windy drone that comes and goes to carry through the final two minutes, and when II ends, it’s with a letting go so gentle one almost has to check and make sure the song has actually stopped. If in fact that is the last we’ll hear from The Exploding Eyes Orchestra — unless, of course, one counts the material that was used for Jess and the Ancient Ones — then it’s a fair enough cap on an under-noticed two-album cycle, the impression of departure no less resonant at the end than one might ask it to be for the undoing of a project. Still, with the promise of nothing else to come and three years after the fact of the first half of this session being released, II more than earns its fruition, and it would be a genuine loss had it not ultimately been realized. And maybe somewhere down the line The Exploding Eyes Orchestra will splinter off again — since, hey, plans change — but if this is it, no one can say the job was left half done.

The Exploding Eyes Orchestra, “Harmain” official video

The Exploding Eyes Orchestra on Thee Facebooks

The Exploding Eyes Orchestra at Svart Records

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

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Alunah Announce Fall Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

alunah

UK forest doomers Alunah are getting ready over the next couple months to bookend their Spring 2018 tour with a string of shows through late-October and the rest of the year. They’ll support Diamond Head on Oct. 21 in Cheltenham, and on Nov. 10 travel to Austria to appear at Doom Over Vienna XIII alongside the respected likes of Apostle of Solitude, Castle, Iron Void, and others. That’s their only non-UK appearance this time around, and it’s not a one-into-the-next kind of tour so much as shows spaced out across different weeks, but a solid way for Alunah to round out 2018 as they continue to move toward their inevitable next album, which will be their first with vocalist Siân Greenaway in the lineup.

I seem to recall hearing at some point the plan was to get a record out in 2019, though that might just be wishful thinking. Somehow Alunah seem to wind up on my most-anticipated list every year, no matter what. Probably because they’re awesome. Yeah, I bet that’s it.

They announced the gigs on social media thusly:

alunah tour

This Autumn we will be heading out on these selected dates around the UK, with the exception of a brief jaunt in Europe to play Doom over Vienna – the Austrian Doom Metal Fest! We will be playing with some great bands including the legendary Diamond Head, and battle-hardened doomsters Conan. We can’t wait to get out and about and bring the heavy! We hope to see lots of friends too.

Tour artwork by Joe McEvoy Artwork. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Parry.

For more information visit www.alunah.co.uk

Alunah live:
21.10 The Frog and Fiddle Cheltenham UK w/ Diamond Head
27.10 The Angel Microbrewery Nottingham UK
03.11 The Green Room Welwyn Garden City UK
10.11 Doom Over Vienna XIII Vienna AT
17.11 Asylum 2 Birmingham UK*
24.11 Temple of Boom Leeds UK
01.12 Pilgrims Pit Stoke UK
08.12 The Swan Ipswich 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, “White Hoarhound” live at Sludgefest, Aug. 3, 2018

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