R.I.P. Peter Maturi of Swarm of the Lotus & Graven

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It was hard to listen to the work of Peter Maturi and not be affected by the absolute ferocity of it. As guitarist/vocalist in Swarm of the Lotus and more recently Graven, the Baltimore, Maryland-based Maturi brought an unbridled, unhinged sense of extremity to sludge and noise, refusing to be sold on the line between doom and grind. Maturi’s bandmates announced over the weekend that he has passed away, and on behalf of myself and this site, I offer sincere condolences to his family, friends and of course the other members of his bands.

I never saw Neurosis lay waste to a small back room bar, but I saw Swarm of the Lotus, and if you think that’s a happenstance comparison, forget it. Though their two albums — 2004’s When White Becomes Black on At a Loss Recordings and 2005’s The Sirens of Silence (discussed here) on Abacus/Emetic — remain as brutally underrated as they were, well, brutal, the stage found the band even more punishing. I always held out hope for a third LP, even as they seemed to fade away after the second one. In 2015, the band posted the single “Plagued by Ritual” (discussed here) that further got my hopes up, but nothing else materialized in public from them after that.

By then, however, Maturi had begun Graven and embarked on a new level of aural pummel. The 2018 LP, Heirs of Discord (review here), lived up to its name in capturing the sense of chaos that was always at heart in Swarm of the Lotus, but was clearly its own beast as well that, despite the members being geographically split, only seemed prime for future growth. It is a shame and a loss that such growth will go unrealized.

Here is what Swarm of the Lotus posted:

peter maturi swarm of the lotus

It is with immense sadness that we must announce our friend, bandmate, and brother, Pete Maturi passed away earlier this week. It’s so hard to sum up Pete’s life in one social media post as he probably lived a thousand years worth in his lifetime. His passion for music was undeniable. He lived and breathed it every day. He poured every ounce of his being into everything that he played or wrote, the end result being nothing short of sheer intensity. From the brutal guitar riffs to the pain-filled lyrics, his songs took you to another world. Pete will always be remembered for the amazing musician and person he was. We will never forget his ridiculous and sarcastic sense of humor, his caring soul, or his dedication to his friends and family.

Because of the absolute suddenness of Pete’s passing, it is our goal to make sure that Niki and their daughter do not have to worry about finances while they grieve their immense loss. Any little bit would surely help to relieve any unnecessary burden while they mourn and work toward building a future. If anyone would like to donate, you can do so via PayPal at nikimaturi@gmail.com Any help will be greatly appreciated.

A celebration of life will be held in the future and we will release those details as they unfold.

Until then, throw on a SOTL or Graven album, crank it up loud as fuck and raise a glass to Pete!

Pete, we miss you brother!

Photo by Scott Kinkade

https://www.facebook.com/GRAVENSOUND/
https://gravensound.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SwarmoftheLotus/
https://swarmofthelotus.bandcamp.com/

Graven, Heirs of Discord (2018)

Swarm of the Lotus, “Plagued by Ritual”

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 12

Posted in Radio on March 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gimme radio logo

A few episodes ago, I played Graven and floated the idea of doing a whole episode that was super-aggressive. At the same time, I thought a show that went totally the other way would be cool too; all acoustic or near-acoustic stuff and nothing really aggro about it. Well, then my silly brain got started wondering why not do both? So here we are. The first hour? Oh that’s mad. Lots of sludge, lots of screaming. When you start off with YOB’s “Nothing to Win,” you know you’re throwing down some anger. I probably won’t play Primitive Man that often. This time, it felt important to make the point. So it’s there next to Coltsblood. Point made.

Second hour? Well, it starts with Lamp of the Universe, so things get pretty trippy and pretty mellow and they basically stay that way with T.G. Olson, Conny Ochs, No Man’s Valley, The Book of Knots — because god damn, I love that song — and Scott Kelly and the Road Home — ditto — getting progressively moodier as they go. From there, it’s time to jam to the end of the episode with WEEED and Träden, who I recently saw have a show coming up at Rough Trade in New York. No way I’ll be cool enough to be there, but it’s an awesome idea anyhow.

All told, I’m happy with how this one came out, and for being kind of a hodgepodge conceptually, I think it’s worth exploring different kinds of heaviness and what makes a particular song or moment feel that way. If you listened last night or hear the replay, thanks.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 03.17.19

YOB Nothing to Win Clearing the Path to Ascend
Mastiff Vermin Plague*
Swarm of the Lotus From Embers When White Becomes Black
Sadhus, The Smoking Community Sobbing Children Big Fish*
BREAK
Horsehunter Bring out Yer Dead Horsehunter*
Primitive Man Sterility Caustic
Coltsblood Snows of the Winter Realm Split with Un*
Lamp of the Universe The Leaving Align in the Fourth Dimension*
T.G. Olson Backslider Riding Roughshod*
Conny Ochs Hammer to Fit Doom Folk*
No Man’s Valley Murder Ballad Outside the Dream*
The Book of Knots Traineater Traineater
Scott Kelly & the Road Home The Field that Surrounds Me The Forgiven Ghost in Me
BREAK
WEEED Carmelized You are the Sky*
Träden När lingonen mognar (Lingonberries Forever) Träden

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Tuesday at 9AM. Next show is March 31. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

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Friday Full-Length: Swarm of the Lotus, The Sirens of Silence

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Swarm of the Lotus, The Sirens of Silence (2005)

When I think of music as being scathing, the standard I’m usually applying is Swarm of the Lotus. Before everyone and their cousin was walking around wearing His Hero is Gone shirts pretending the stuff they were listening to wasn’t just repackaged deathcore chestbeating, the Baltimorean outfit melded hardcore metal and extreme sludge in a way that sounded not only like the end of the world, but like the end of the world you were actively causing. The Sirens of Silence, which was their second and final album, came out in 2005. It was released through Abacus Recordings, which was one of Century Media‘s imprints, specifically designed for hardcore and metalcore, which made Swarm of the Lotus something of an outlier because they weren’t necessarily just about chugging their way into an emo part or a breakdown, and such a huge part of their impact came from the way they seemed able to slam their tone a hammer one second in “The Great Masquerade” and the next sprint off to grind at a sprint through “Vertigo.” I remember seeing them in New York at a place called The Pyramid in 2004. They usually had heavy shows in the basement, but Swarm of the Lotus were upstairs in the main room and it was box that when they started playing you just felt like there was no way out. It was manic. A chaotic, angular gnashing sound. The band were supporting their debut, When White Becomes Black, and their take was utterly ferocious and raw in a way that made perfect sense for the wider turmoil of those times, what with the apparently endless war and all. It’s the sound of human-caused global warming.

The Sirens of Silence is a more complex album than its predecessor in just about every way. I won’t take anything away from Swarm of the Lotus‘ debut — quite frankly, if the whole thing was on YouTube or Bandcamp, I’d be closing out the week with it — but from the initial winding surge of two-minute opener “Hookworm” through the sudden turn to a relatively patient march in “Call to Abandon,” it’s an album that 14 years later I still don’t really have a handle on what to expect from it. With guitarist Peter Maturi and bassist Chris Csar sharing vocal duties, Cole Krickenberger holding down guitar and Jon-John Michaud on drums, Swarm of the Lotus were able to pull off striking turns of approach while staying true to the aggressive sensibility at work beneath. The vocals still hurt my throat just hearing them, and seem to have bite that of all the screams swarm-of-the-lotus-sirens-of-silenceI’ve encountered in my time, realized a physical presence that almost no one else can match. Through the repeated lines, “If you could hold your last breath/How much longer do you think you could live?” in “Call to Abandon” and the searing shouts coinciding with the all-tumult assault in the back half of the subsequent “The Great Masquerade,” they harness a pain and disaffection that goes beyond sounding angry or metal or hardcore. In the angular “Yan Hou,” the filthy death groove of “Jackie G,” and the landmark slowdown of “Snowbeast,” Swarm of the Lotus unite in purpose in a way that seems coherent and yet doesn’t contradict the rawness on display. That is, they’re able to pull off these changes and expand their scope in a way that doesn’t make the elements tying them together or the moods they’re working in sound like a put-on. The hints toward melody in “Snowbeast” are a crucial moment for the band, where they bring in Melvinsian lumber and break to a quiet minimalist stretch before launching into an instrumental apex that’s a standout from both records, let alone just this second one.

What might’ve been side B starts with “Needles and Knives,” which is fitting enough. The tempo stays in the middle range for the brief instrumental and it feeds directly into “The Insect Trust Fund,” which brings together the stomp of “Snowbeast” with the meaner approach of “The Great Masquerade” as it works toward a massive, lurching finish that’s “heavy” in every sense of the word. It’s fitting they follow it with “Vertigo,” since it takes a couple minutes to recover from the fist-to-the-temple at the end of “The Insect Trust Fund,” but there’s little quarter afforded as “Vertigo” grinds and slams its way forward, aligning briefly at about two minutes into its 2:46 around a riff that drives to its end while still reeling up ahead of the start of “Judas,” which bring back some of the cleaner-ish shouting in its midsection and finishes with a plotted lead line that coincides with a half-time drum progression and a move toward genuine singing that Swarm of the Lotus never really try again. It’s buried in the mix, but it works, and it speaks to the growth of the band that was underway and never got fleshed out. They draw various sides together for the penultimate “House at the Bottom of the Sea” and cap with the all-out madness of “Nightmare Paint,” leaving behind a rumble that to my damaged ears just sounds like a speaker cabinet repair bill in the making. Even with fewer than 10 seconds of purposeful silence left, one almost expects Swarm of the Lotus to come back and renew the assault like some kind of horror movie monster refusing to die no matter how many times it’s killed.

Maybe that’s just the residual trauma on the frontal cortex brought on by listening, but Swarm of the Lotus indeed stayed dead, more or less. In 2015, they posted a single on Bandcamp, and they’ve put demos up for their two albums — presumably the albums themselves are still under someone else’s copyright — but they haven’t done really anything to follow that up. Maturi and Csar in the meantime released an awaited EP last year with the more outwardly grinding Graven called Heirs of Discord (review here), which, if it wasn’t named with the band’s relationship to Swarm of the Lotus in mind, easily could’ve been. That record was a beast, and in several ways more directly extreme than Swarm of the Lotus seemed to want to be, but the level of sonic catharsis that When White Becomes Black and The Sirens of Silence bring is not something so readily manifest.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

I needed that sonic catharsis this week, a kind of purging of the negativity I’ve been feeling all week, that kind of mouth-turned-down radioactive misery. Where’s the pill for that? Yesterday was a bit better, kind of coming out of it, but Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday were just fucking wretched. Doesn’t help that I’ve had the same headache since Saturday either. Still have that going. I’ve been on a regular ibuprofen regimen, but by Wednesday morning I was hearing a kid’s voice suggesting the possibility of a tumor in my brain à la Kindergarten Cop.

I’d say it’s not a tumor, but I don’t know that.

More likely, exhaustion and I popped something on stage last weekend with Clamfight because I don’t know how to breathe and sing anymore even to the minimal degree I ever did. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s this. Life event for yours truly, and worth the headache in the grand scheme.

So, perspective. I’m a lucky boy. Knowing that and living it are different things. Usually I just live like a dick.

Notes for next week:

MON 03/11 SWEET CHARIOT TRACK PREMIERE; OBSIDIAN SEA TRACK PREMIERE/REVIEW.
TUE 03/12 GONE COSMIC PREMIERE/REVIEW; MIDAS TRACK PREMIERE.
WED 03/13 CURSED TONGUE RECORDS ANNOUNCE/PREMIERE; SUPERLYNX ALBUM STREAM.
THU 03/14 THE GOLDEN GRASS PREMIERE/REVIEW.
FRI 03/15 KINGS DESTROY REVIEW; HORSEBURNER TRACK PREMIERE.

All subject to change of course. It’s extra busy because the week after is the Quarterly Review, which is early again because it was either early or late and I figured the less stress the better. So I’m making it stressful anyway. Because that’s what I do.

Thanks to everyone who asked me anything yesterday. I was worried I wouldn’t get any questions, so even if you were just goofing around, your time and interest were appreciated.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading. Great and safe weekend. Forum, Radio, merch at Dropout.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Are Swarm of the Lotus Reuniting?

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

swarm-of-the-lotus

If the question is whether or not Swarm of the Lotus might be getting back together, I guess the short answer is “I hope so.” The Baltimore crushers have been out of commission for almost exactly five years, and it was five years before that that their second and final studio album, 2005’s The Sirens of Silence, was released. That record came out on Century Media, and like its 2004 predecessor, When White Becomes Black (which was on At a Loss), it was an absolute monster. Nobody was ever quite able to blend a post-hardcore bombast with weighted atmospherics like Swarm of the Lotus seemed to be able to do, and while members have continued on in other groups, it’s never been quite the same since Swarm of the Lotus called it quits. To wit, “Call to Abandon” from The Silence of Silence or “From Embers” from the debut. Devastating.

Yeah, posting a previously unreleased studio demo isn’t exactly announcing a world tour when it comes to reunion potential, but it’s more than has been heard from Swarm of the Lotus in an awfully long time, and the track in question, “Plagued by Ritual,” captures a lot of the bombastic groove that their best moments offered, and so, if you don’t know them, doesn’t actually make a bad way to get introduced. I remember seeing them play upstairs at The Pyramid, back when shows happened in Manhattan. It’s not every band that can elicit a windmill headbang out of me, but Swarm of the Lotus did so with no trouble whatsoever.

In addition to the post that follows here about the new-ish “Plagued by Ritual,” Swarm of the Lotus recently posted instrumental demos from their two albums and said that if Meatjack did a reunion show, they’d entertain the idea of following suit. I wouldn’t mind seeing that bill.

Dig it:

swarm of the lotus plagued by ritual

And now, I give you something I’m most excited about. Not exactly NEW music but essentially is to those that never knew, which is almost everybody save the band members and a small handful of people that may remember us playing it live….a very long time ago. I bestow upon you a sleeping giant, may she awake now from her slumber………

Peter Maturi-guitar/vox
Chris Csar-bass/vox
Cole Crickenberger-guitar
Jon-John Michaud-drums

https://www.facebook.com/Swarm-of-the-Lotus-318795770789/
https://swarmofthelotus.bandcamp.com/album/plagued-by-ritual

Swarm of the Lotus, “Plagued by Ritual”

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