V to Release Debut Album Pathogenisis Nov. 8; New Video Posted

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

v

I’m not entirely sure what’s happening in the new video from minimally-monikered Swedish post-sludgers V, but I do know it’s spectacularly creepy in that special way that only stop-motion animation can truly be. Wallace and Gromit? That shit is terrifying to me. I mean it. Haunts my dreams.

V come into “Souls of the Nearly Departed” and their debut album, Pathogenisis, with no small measure of pedigree between guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Andreas Baier‘s history in Afgrund, Besvärjelsen and Oak, bassist Jonas Kindlund‘s tenure in Besvärjelsen and Daniel Liljekvist‘s former membership in Katatonia — the lineup is rounded out by Jonas Gryth on guitar — but if the opener is anything to go by, their sound is already pretty thoroughly their own. It unfurls viciously across the eight minutes of the clip, which you can see at the bottom of this post, and portends further scathing to come in its atmosphere and shouts, following up on the ambient vibe of V‘s VI EP, which was recorded in 2006 and unreleased until late last year.

Would be interested to know what happened there and why that was sat on for a decade, but either way, the full-length will be out next month on Suicide Records, as the PR wire duly confirms:

v pathogenisis

V – Swedish Sludgy Doom Quartet Announce New Album “Pathogenisis”

Premiere Video For “Souls of the Nearly Departed”

Swedish sludgy doom metal quartet V, featuring current and former members of Katatonia, In Mourning, Oak and Afgrund, return with their first full-length “Pathogenisis” nearly a decade following the release of their three-track EP “VI”.

Recorded at Midlake studios in Dalarna – Sweden, mixed by A. Baier at Midlake 2 studios, and mastered by Panu Posti at Mean Seed Lab in Helsinki, the new album is 6 songs and 42 minutes of bleak, dark and sludgy doom metal and is set for release on November 8th via Suicide Records.

“Pathogenisis” track-listing:

1. Souls Of The Nearly Departed
2. At The End Of Your Time
3. Pathogenisis
4. Perfect Predator Pattern
5. Suspended Animation
6. The Order

https://www.facebook.com/vpathogen/
https://www.instagram.com/Vpathogen/
https://vipathogen.bandcamp.com/
http://www.suiciderecords.se
https://www.facebook.com/suiciderds/

V, “Souls of the Nearly Departed” official video

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Suma Announce November European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Not that Suma were lacking for quality associations when it came to their 2016 offering, The Order of Things (review here), between releases through Argonauta and Init Records (CD), Throne Records (vinyl) and Tartarus Records (tape), but if you want to add the Netherlands’ Doomstar Bookings to that mix for presenting the Swedish band’s upcoming November run in support of the album, go for it. The Eindhoven-based booker also works with the likes of Primitive ManToner LowAgoraphobic Nosebleed and a host of others in a swath of various forms of extremity, so Suma are on yet another level keeping good company. Seems to be a thing they do.

Another thing they do? Well, on this tour they hit Belgium, Germany, France the UK and the Netherlands — so that’s a thing. If you didn’t hear the things in their proper Order, you can check out the full stream of the Billy Anderson-helmed record at the bottom of this post, and you probably should do so, because it absolutely destroys.

They have an open slot for Nov 9, so if you can help out in France/Belgium, do that too. Dates and info from the social medias:

suma-tour-poster

SUMA – November Tour

It is with great pride we announce the fall tour for Sweden’s cult spacesludgers SUMA. After their successful run with Unearthly Trance around Roadburn earlier this year they will take to the West European roads this time in support of their latest album The Order Of Things. We still have one TBA available for France/Belgium, anyone interested get in touch!

11.03 MTS Records Oldenburg Germany
11.04 Baroeg Rotterdam The Netherlands
11.05 The Pit’s Kortrijk Belgium
11.06 Underworld London UK
11.07 Le 3 Pieces Rouen France
11.08 La Scene Michelet Nantes France
11.09 TBA
11.10 The Jack Eindhoven The Netherlands

Hailing from Malmö, Sweden and formed in 2001 : SUMA has been spreading the plague of their sonic weight, noise-ridden hallucinatory doom metal on the world for the past decade and a half. Through these years they’ve lured hordes of humans into the lair with their devastatingly heavy, one way trip into the vortex live performances and crushing delivery on their recorded matters.

In 2016 they recorded their fourth album – THE ORDER OF THINGS – with legendary engine-ear BILLY ANDERSON (Pallbearer, Black Cobra, Agalloch, Tragedy) once again at the helm of the recording. This is the imminent evolution from the past’s behemoths of albums, LET THE CHURCHES BURN and ASHES.

SUMA:
>P. guitar
>J. bass/vocals
>E. drums
>R. samples/noise

https://www.facebook.com/sumanoise/
https://sumanoise.bandcamp.com/
http://www.argonautarecords.com/
http://www.initrecords.net/
http://tartarusrecords.com/
http://www.thronerecs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/doomstarbookings/

Suma, The Order of Things (2016)

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Greenleaf, The Atomic Bitchwax & Steak Announce Dec. European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

True, the Fall festival season will pretty much be over by the time December rolls around, but that doesn’t mean that enviable package tours still can’t kick into gear all over the European continent. It never stops, folks. Just as they make ready to issue their new album, Force Field, via Tee Pee Records, my beloved Garden State’s own The Atomic Bitchwax will head abroad once more to team up with Swedish mainstays Greenleaf — who last I heard were planning a new record of their own for 2018, though it’s been a minute since I last harassed guitarist Tommi Holappa with a, “When’s your next album coming out?,” message on Thee Facebooks; should get on that — and London desert bruisers Steak for a 16-date run beginning Dec. 1.

The tour is presented by Sound of Liberation — of course — and if you need me to tell you that it’s a killer mix of acts, you probably shouldn’t. There’s really no letup between the three of them. I’m not saying I’ve heard the new Bitchwax or anything, but word on the street is it’s an absolute supercharged monster, bringing to life the ethic of “Coming in Hot” that 2015’s Gravitron (review here) proffered. That’s the rumor. All the better for them to be on the road heralding new material. Greenleaf meanwhile head out once again supporting 2016’s ultra-righteous Rise Above the Meadow (review here), and Steak go on the heels of 2017’s Ripple Music debut, No God to Save (review here), which brought them to new levels of accomplishment in aesthetic and songwriting alike. Bottom line? You can’t miss with this one. If you’re in its path, consider yourself lucky.

Poster and dates follow, as seen on the social medias by Sound of Liberation:

greenleaf-the-atomic-bitchwax-steak-tour

Greenleaf – The Atomic Bitchwax – Steak – Hail the Hounds Tour 2017

We are proud to present the “HAIL THE HOUNDS” Tour 2017, with Greenleaf + The Atomic Bitchwax + Steak!!

01.12.17 – London | Underworld
02.12.17 – Brussels | Magasin 4
03.12.17 – Hamburg | Markthalle
04.12.17 – Cologne | Luxor
05.12.17 – Wiesbaden | Schlachthof
06.12.17 – Leipzig | Werk2
07.12.17 – Munich | Feierwerk
08.12.17 – Olten | Schuetzenhaus
09.12.17 – Linz | Posthof
10.12.17 – Vienna | Arena
11.12.17 – Stuttgart | Universum
12.12.17 – Saarbruecken | Garage
13.12.17 – Nijmegen | Doornroosje
14.12.17 – Paris | Glazart
15.12.17 – Dortmund | JunkYard
16.12.17 – Berlin | Bi Nuu

It’s gonna be hot in December

https://www.facebook.com/greenleafrocks/
https://www.facebook.com/The-Atomic-Bitchwax-86002001659/
https://www.facebook.com/steakuk/
https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/

Greenleaf, “Howl” lyric video

The Atomic Bitchwax, “Hope You Die” live in West Virginia, Sept. 12, 2017

Steak, “Living Like a Rat” official video

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Firebreather, Firebreather

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

firebreather firebreather

[Click play above to stream Firebreather’s self-titled debut in its entirety. Album is out Friday, Oct. 13, via Suicide Records. Tour dates posted here.]

During their decade together, Sweden’s Galvano grew increasingly progressive in their delivery of semi-sludged metal, such that the chugging of their 2015 swansong, Trail of the Serpent, found them more in line with bands like The Ocean than the Black Cobra-style thrust proffered by their prior 2012 debut, Two Titans. Aligned to Candlelight, that two-piece was led by guitarist/vocalist Mattias Nööjd and would seem to have come to an end sometime after touring with Snailking and Zaum in Autumn 2015.

Nööjd resurfaces in Firebreather alongside bassist Kyle Pitcher and drummer Tommy Hanning, and in terms of relating to his past songwriting, it would seem he’s made clear efforts to get back to basics: pummel, tone, and push. Firebreather‘s self-titled debut runs a bone-crunching but totally manageable 33 minutes. Its four songs — “Fire Foretold” (7:09), “Emerald Eyes” (7:42), “The Ice Lord” (6:13) and “Release the Lava” (11:34) — split neatly into two vinyl sides, and the whole affair is somewhat unassuming on the surface. But just as the deep-toned Adam Burke cover art carries such a sense of illumination in darkness — just what fire has been lit in that cave? — so too does Firebreather‘s material soon unveil the breadth of its threat in the push and gallop that takes hold after the wind-swirl and nodding intro to “Fire Foretold,” Pitcher‘s bass leading a charge that, particularly when Hanning‘s steady snare joins and Nööjd adds his guttural vocals to start the first verse, feels almost singularly derived from High on Fire.

But not just any High on Fire, and not just any derivation. Early High on Fire. High on Fire at their most marauding, when the notion of taking filthy sludge tones and making them do things that only Celtic Frost and Slayer might otherwise dare was a novelty. This era — begun with their 1999 self-titled demo and continued onto 2000’s The Art of Self-Defense and 2002’s Surrounded by Thieves — is recognizable in the speedy immediacy of “Fire Foretold” as well as the lurching buildup that begins around the midpoint of “The Ice Lord,” and Nööjd‘s vocals are a big part of it, recalling pre-melody Matt Pike telling tales of monsters and conquests through material material that seems so violent one almost doesn’t notice how catchy it is; hello, “Emerald Eyes.” It’s more than just Nööjd‘s approach to singing though.

firebreather

In the structure of the lyrics and the rhythm of their delivery, one can hear it, and in the guitar and bass tones as well. These latter could be likened to a dull battle axe. That sounds like it’s not a compliment — wouldn’t one want to be sharp? — but if we keep with Firebreather in terms of representing a take on the aesthetic of formative High on Fire, the idea of the blade being dulled is crucial. A sharp blade cuts cleanly. It slices through: one swing. Swoop, done. It’s fresh, crisp. Maybe unused. A dull battle axe, on the other hand, maybe has a chip in one side of its blade from the neckbone of an enemy. It does not cut cleanly. When it cuts, it has to tear into chunks of raw meat its chosen target. The process is bloody, messy, full of gore. And the difference is one could argue High on Fire have become more and more sharpened over time, but in interpreting their influence on this self-titled, Firebreather dig back to the nastier, rounded edges that once so brutally cleaved the skulls of the unsuspecting.

Whether that’s done in the thud-and-churn in which “Emerald Eyes” is resolved or the broader epic-style storytelling that takes place across the fluid tempo shifts of “Release the Lava,” it’s a spirit Firebreather bring to life with marked purpose and a suitably righteous insistence, and despite the clear focus as regards their chief point of inspiration, their songs are not without an identity of their own. Particularly with the closer’s more patient delivery, rolling through its first two and a half minutes before the drums drop out to let the central riff be introduced and the first verse built toward, Nööjd, Pitcher and Hanning begin the process of carving out their niche, which includes some subtle, perhaps nascent use of melody in the still-from-the-gut shouted vocals that on “Fire Foretold” or “Emerald Eyes” hardly seemed to be a consideration despite layering in the hooks.

How Firebreather might continue to develop and distinguish themselves from their chief influence and from Nööjd‘s past efforts in Galvano, their debut presents a clear stylistic vision and intent — which is to say that the material doesn’t at all feel like it just stumbled into this sound. Rather, like a hilltop declaration of war, Firebreather‘s Firebreather sets forth with bludgeonry in mind and benefits from the knowledge of how to make it happen. It is the underlying memorability that comes through in the band’s songwriting, however, that will most let them flourish in the years and releases to come, and one hopes that as they storm the countryside on horseback spattering brain matter in their wake they remember that craft is the handle of the axe they so capably wield here.

Firebreather on Thee Facebooks

Firebreather on Instagram

Suicide Records on Thee Facebooks

Suicide Records website

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Asteroid Premiere Official Video for “Til’ Dawn”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

asteroid

It was a marked bummer earlier this year when Swedish fuzz rockers Asteroid announced in June that the reignition that had led them to produce their most-welcome third album, III (review here), for Fuzzorama Records in 2016 was essentially cutting short in order to return to an immediate hiatus. Health issues were mentioned and that’s about the last that’s been heard from the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Robin Hirse, bassist/vocalist Johannes Nilsson, and drummer Jimmi Kolscheen, the latter of whom had joined the band in place of Elvis Campbell after the LP recording. Particularly as the full-length offered a newly energized sound and still managed to keep the organic warmth of the Örebro natives’ prior two outings, 2010’s II (review here) and 2007’s self-titled debut (discussed here), it was sad to see them call it quits for some yet-TBD amount of time just when they seemed to have so much momentum on their side heading into the Fall festival season.

So it goes. One can — apparently — sit and lament all day. One can also check out the band’s new video for the track “Til’ Dawn” from III as a refresher of just how righteous that outing was and still very much is. Of course, since they’re not really together at the moment, Asteroid themselves don’t actually appear in the clip, but the band and Fuzzorama partnered with Minneapolis-based production company Know Idea Productions, who also previously created the video for Truckfighters‘ “Calm Before the Storm” (posted here) that proved controversial when it came out that the narrative was based on a true story and hit a little close to home in Sweden. I don’t know if the plotline of “Til’ Dawn” is similarly ‘ripped from the headlines,’ but its nighttime chase atmosphere and fluid slow motion shots resonate with the song itself and lend an emotional depth to the aural proceedings, which seems pretty much like the ideal.

Also noteworthy just how recognizable the cinematography of “Til’ Dawn” was after “Calm Before the Storm.” Even before I looked it up to confirm, I said to myself, “I bet these are the same people who did that Truckfighters video. Sure enough. So kudos on that.

The hope of course is that at some point Asteroid decide to pick back up and continue to move forward in supporting and eventually pushing beyond III. I’ve got no timeline on when or if that might happen, but a new video isn’t nothing and I’m happy to host the premiere of “Til’ Dawn” below, again, as a refresher for anyone for whom it might’ve been a minute since the last time they put on III. To be perfectly honest, it was enough to get me to play not only that record, but then to go back and grab II and the self-titled as well for a runthrough. I’ve kind of made an afternoon of it, and no complaints.

Credits and links follow. Please enjoy:

Asteroid, “Til’ Dawn” official video premiere

The official music video for the Asteroid song “Til’ Dawn” on Fuzzorama Records.

Written & Directed by: Aiden Kangas
Produced by: Kalaia Bouley
Cinematography by: Tony Perkins
Edited by: Joshua Harris Braun & Aiden Kangas
Color Grading: Tony Perkins
Starring: Joshua Harris Braun & Holly Peterson

Know Idea Productions website

Asteroid on Thee Facebooks

Asteroid on Twitter

Asteroid website

Fuzzorama Records webstore

Fuzzorama Records on Thee Facebooks

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

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

the obelisk quarterly review

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

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Hallatar, No Stars Upon the Bridge

hallatar-no-stars-upon-the-bridge

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

Hallatar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Alastor, Black Magic

alastor black magic

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

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records webstore

 

The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms

the dead-end-alley-band-storms

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

The Dead-End Alley Band on Thee Facebooks

The Dead-End Alley Band on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Hair of the Dog, This World Turns

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

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

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Soup, Remedies

soup remedies

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

Soup on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

 

Kungens Män, Dag & Natt

kungens-man-dag-natt

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

Kungens Män on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Smoke Wizzzard, Run with the Wolf

smoke-wizzzard-run-with-the-wolf

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

Smoke Wizzzard on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Wizzzard on Bandcamp

 

Highburnator, Keystoned State

highburnator-keystoned-state

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

Highburnator on Thee Facebooks

Highburnator on Bandcamp

 

The Curf, Death and Love

the-curf-death-and-love

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

The Curf on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records webstore

 

Ulls, I

ULLS I

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

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Firebreather Announce Tour Dates with Zaum; New Song Streaming

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

firebreather

Gothenburg-based three-piece Firebreather are gearing up to gallop off with hearts and minds — also presumably a soul or two — when they issue their self-titled debut EP via Suicide Records on Oct. 13. That same night, the band will head out on tour as support for Canadian ritualists Zaum, which makes sense when you keep in mind that the lineup for Firebreather boasts guitarist/vocalist Mattias Nööjd, who used to be in now-defunct bashers Galvano, with whom Zaum also toured. Maybe more than once, if I recall correctly.

In any case, it’s called continuity, so yeah, Firebreather and Zaum hitting the road together makes sense in part because of it. The other part is just because it makes sense, if you’re wondering.

Firebreather are streaming the new track “Fire Foretold” now, which leads off their EP. You can hear it at the bottom of this post.

The PR wire has more:

firebreather zaum tour poster

FIREBREATHER: EU tour dates with Canadian legends Zaum announced

FIREBREATHER EP is released on 13th October 2017 on Suicide Records

There’s no escaping the fact that Sweden is an incomparable breeding ground for some of the heaviest and most crushing metal bands in the world right now. Amon Amarth, Grand Magus, Candlemass, Vokonis, Monolord… all have crossed the water and duly conquered in recent years. In fact, even those yet to arrive can more often than not be found waiting in the wings, battle horn in hand heralding trepidation, Scandinavian-promise and riffs the size of long ships.

One such band waiting to scorch the earth upon which they land is Gothenburg trio FIREBREATHER who will release their self-titled debut album on Suicide Records this coming October. Relatively new to the fold having formed in the spring of 2016 from the ashes of underground doom heavyweights Galvano, FIREBREATHER is a devastatingly weighty statement of intent. Taking in four tracks that swallow time behind tooth shattering riffs from guitarist/vocalist Mattias Nööjd and crunching rhythms via bassist Kyle Pitcher and Tommy Hanning (newly replaced by drummer Fredrik Käll), FIREBREATHER are a jaw-breaking triptych of sludge and doom rock.

Mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Corrosion of Conformity, Beastmilk, Obituary) at his Audioseige Studio in Portland, OR and featuring artwork by legendary underground artist Adam Burke, FIREBREATHER are out to make 2017 their own.

FIREBREATHER hit the road this October with Canadian legends Zaum for a number of dates across Europe.

FIREBREATHER live w/ ZAUM:
10/13 Kiel DE Alte Meirei
10/14 Hamburg** DE Astra Stube
10/15 Freiburg DE The White Rabbit
10/16 Torino IT Haram’s Graveyard
10/18 St. Feliu de Codines ES Inciviczone
10/19 Zaragoza ES Arrebato
10/20 Madrid ES TBC
10/21 Cascais PT Stairway Club
10/22 Galicia ES TBC
10/25 Zagreb HR Vintage Industrial
10/26 Brno C Bakjazyl
10/27 Szeged HU Grand Cafe
10/28 Carpi IT Ekinda
10/29 Bistrica ob Sotli SI Klub Metulj
10/30 Timisoara RO Club Daos
10/31 Plzen CZ TBC
11/03 Gothenburg SE Truckstop Alaska

FIREBREATHER:
Mattias Nööjd – Guitar, Vocals
Fredrik Käll – Drums
Kyle Pitcher – Bass

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Agusa Premiere “Bortom Hemom” from New Self-Titled LP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

agusa-Julio-Barcellos

Swedish progressive rockers Agusa will release their third self-titled album on Oct. 27 via The Laser’s Edge. What might informally be called Tre or Agusa Tre follows two years behind the preceding Agusa Två (review here) and brings five new tracks highlighting the pastoralism that the Malmö-based five-piece bring to their work. Without being overly lush or coated in effects, or losing themselves in indulgent attitudes, Agusa‘s instrumental compositions bask in a folkish traditionalism that nonetheless is all the more a standout for its complexity. Arrangements of guitar from Mikael Ödesjö, play out in consideration of the organ work of Jonas Barge (since replaced by Jeppe Juul) and Jenny Puertas‘ flute, while the inventive basslines of Tobias Petterson and drums/percussion — there’s plenty of both — from Tim Wallander course alongside with resonant nuance and groove. At least when the rhythm section isn’t actually driving the charge, that is. Much of the time on cuts like centerpiece “Den Fortrollade Skogen” (“the fortified forest”) and “Sagor Fran Saaris,” that’s exactly how it plays out.

Either way they go at any given moment, it only makes Agusa Tre — again, an informal title at least so far as I know; I’m just using it so no one thinks I’m talking about a different self-titled — all the more dynamic. Even as they head toward a cosmos on “Sagor från Saaris” (“stories from Saari”) that seems so distant from the ground they started on with opener “Landet Längesen” (“country lands,” appropriately enough), the rolling hillsides of which shine green and bright under a huge, yellow and full northern sun. The build in that leadoff and longest inclusion (immediate points for that) resonates no less than the song’s vocal-less hook, the whole band uniting around a gently flowing roll — the river, if we want to keep to the image already set — and moving gracefully into “Sorgenfri,” which takes its name from a neighborhood in Malmö.

Why does that matter? It matters because with Ödesjö‘s strumming guitar line and the bouncing flute from PuertasAgusa evoke a sense of place without the need agusa agusa trefor their audience to ever have actually been there. Barge‘s organ moves into a forward role in the second half of the five-minute cut, topping a subtle shuffle that finds Wallander washing out his cymbals even as he drives a straight-ahead charge that somehow still manages to swing. The turns are so tight that it’s almost a shame when “Sorgenfri” is over, or at least it would be if “Den Fortrollade Skogen” didn’t allow for a solid two minutes of digestion before embarking on its own eight-minute unfurling, a classically triumphant melody in the flute and keys matching step with the bass, drums and clean-toned guitar once more to reground the audience. As noted, “Sagor från Saaris” is more psychedelic, but also more subdued in all but Wallander‘s hi-hat and the prominence of the low end, which as the flute and guitar jazz-out kosmiche-style has a chance to shine before the final movement begins and brings a worthy apex, still holding out some noise on a long fade into closer “Bertom Hemom” (“beyond homeward”), the gorgeousness of which underscores the humility at heart in Agusa‘s approach on the whole.

To wit, it moves, it careens, it grooves — it has a complex and striking presentation of the elements at play, as shown when the electric guitar lead layer works its way in circa the three-minute mark amid the prior acoustic foundation and how aligned it becomes with Barge on organ and the overarching rhythm. This is the stuff of spinning heads — of repeat on repeat on repeat listens — and yet Agusa make it come through with such a naturalist warmth that one feels like they’re back in that open field again, like it’s the folk music of some unknown people who never existed or did and were otherwise too hippie-awesome to want to stick around on this square-despite-its-roundness planet and got back in their mothership in search of cooler terrain. After what one could argue is the crescendo of “Bertom Herom,” the flute and drums take hold and offer a stripped-down take on the rhythm as the foundation for the guitar and bass and organ to rejoin the fold, tying the song back to its start before the final measures crash out and somebody — one of them, I don’t know who it is — lets out a well-earned exhale. “Woof.” As if anything else needed to be said.

Agusa Tre‘s specific kind of immersion and hypnosis may or may not be for everybody, but for those willing to take it with an open mind on its own level, it’s quite simply going to be a release that offers satisfaction long after 2017 is over. I’m thrilled today to be able to host the premiere of “Bertom Hemom” ahead of the album coming out. You’ll find it on the player below, followed by a quick quote from Ödesjö about its making and more from the PR wire.

I sincerely hope you enjoy:

Mikael Ödesjö on “Bortom Hemom”:

“Bortom Hemom” translates roughly as “Beyond Homeward” and consists of two sections joined together by a bridge. The first part is in 7/4 and the second in 3/4. Perhaps our most “progressive” effort this far. Enjoy!

Agusa was recorded and mixed by Viktor Rinneby and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Bob Katz, and completed with art by Danilo Stankovic and design by Peter Wallgren.

Laser’s Edge will release Agusa on digital, CD, and LP on October 27th. Find CD and LP preorders at Amazon HERE and digital preorders at Bandcamp HERE. This will be celebrated with release shows in Sweden and Denmark, after which the band will head east to play their first gigs on Russian soil.

Agusa on Bandcamp

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The Laser’s Edge website

The Laser’s Edge on Thee Facebooks

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The Laser’s Edge on Bandcamp

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