Review & Track Premiere: Svvamp, Svvamp 2

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

svvamp svvamp 2

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Hillside’ from Svvamp’s new album, Svvamp 2, out June 8 on RidingEasy Records and available now to preorder.]

The soothing effect of the 42-second intro to Svvamp 2 is immediate, and from there, the Swedish trio of vocalist/guitarist Henrik Bjorklund, vocalist/bassist Erik Stahlgren and vocalist/drummer Adam Johansson present a run of pointedly classic-vibing heavy rock and roll. They made something of an understated self-titled debut (review here) in 2016, catching ears among the converted and reaping praise for their endearing sonic naturalism. That theme very much continues on Svvamp 2, which moves from its introduction into the heavier-riffed highlight “Queen” and the blues-rolling “The Wheel,” with the first of several vocalist switches working subtly to add variety and texture to the straightforward songwriting and traditionalist, vintage spirit of the recording.

While the groups who arguably led the charge for recrafting heavy ’70s sonic warmth — fellow Swedes like Witchcraft, Graveyard, Burning Saviours, etc. — have moved on toward more modern aesthetics, Svvamp hold firm to the tenets of the subgenre while proving there’s still new ground to cover, as the poppy, soul-derived bounce of “Sunshine Street” demonstrates, the fuzz subtle and the drums spacious like they were beamed straight in from 1969, and the subsequent “How Sweet Would it Be” only reinforces this notion, like a lost studio cut from the Get Back sessions, the guitars leading the easy groove punctuated by steady, languid cymbal timekeeping. Semi-harmonized vocal melodies evoke the sweetness in the title without losing the effectiveness of the hook that emerges: “Oh, out in the country/Me and my baby/We’re gonna be so damn free now.”

It is the fodder of humid summer singalongs, and much to their credit, they make you believe it. Plenty of vintage bands have popped up in the wake of the likes of Kadavar, Blues Pills, and so on, and attempted to capture heavy blues lightning in a psychedelic bottle. Well, Svvamp may be reverse-engineering innovation, but whatever they might be doing throughout their second album, their heart is in it, from the chorus of “Queen” through Stahlgren‘s bassline in (presumed) side B opener “Hillside” and on to closer “Alligater” (sic), the expression remains genuine and the swing remains a fervent, crucial factor. With a current running through it of analog synth or effects, “Surrender” nonetheless mirrors the fluidity of “The Wheel” earlier, and while the “beep-boop-beep” might seem a little out of place among all the focus on organic elements and execution, it’s ultimately the latter that win out in the song.

svvamp

To follow side A/B symmetry as they have so far, Svvamp should be dipping into more soulful fare à la “Sunshine Street” with “Out of Line,” but they change the script and instead offer a swaggering bounce and riff-forward groove, a touch of wah worked into a midsection that seems to layer its guitar solo across both left and right channels. More akin to “Queen” and “Hillside” for its rhythm and good-time rocking feel, “Out of Line” caps with another call and response solo — maybe in three layers? — on a long fadeout and gives way to the acoustic penultimate cut “Blues Inside,” the shortest inclusion on Svvamp 2 save for “Intro,” and a quiet reflective moment before “Alligater” taps Blue Cheer for the most raucous stretch on the album to close.

Once again, Svvamp find themselves nestled into heavy blues, but “Alligater” is more blown out on the whole and more of a wash than any of its rocking predecessors on Svvamp 2, and the crashing, the layers of fuzz, the rumble beneath all come together to give a sense of the kind of party the trio can hone when the mood strikes. I wouldn’t exactly call the record subtle in its purposes, but Svvamp 2 does build on the debut’s accomplishments, and for all the changes in singer and approach it presents throughout its 35 minutes, the flow remains consistent across the span, and perhaps the band’s greatest strength lies in their utter lack of pretense. While some in a vintage mindset have attempted to capture a progressive feel and met with varying degrees of success, by keeping their material outwardly simple, catchy and friendly, JohanssonStahlgren and Bjorklund are able to give their audience something to latch onto without an overdose of self-indulgence or a departure from their core purpose.

Apart perhaps from “Intro” and “Blues Inside” — and mostly for length in the case of the latter — there isn’t one song between “Queen,” “The Wheel,” “Sunshine Street,” “How Sweet it Would Be,” “Hillside,” “Surrender,” “Out of Line” and “Alligater” that wouldn’t work as a 45RPM single, its paper sleeve crinkled and found in some dusty record shop bin like so much buried treasure. And though they may be looking back aesthetically in terms of finding their points of inspiration in classic heavy rock circa 1968-’72, they’re also pushing themselves forward as songwriters and stewards of this sonic legacy. They wield it better than most, and on Svvamp 2 they demonstrate plainly that even something so plainly tied to a specific era can also sound timeless.

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Graveyard Post “Please Don’t” Video; Peace out May 25

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

graveyard

I’m not saying I don’t dig the new Graveyard track. I’m not. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is that for all the hullabaloo surrounding the May 25 release of the Swedish classic heavy rock forerunners’ new album, Peace, listening to “Please Don’t” doesn’t tell us all that much that we didn’t already know. Graveyard can write a hook. Joakim Nilsson is an awesome frontman with an ever-expanding range of melody and expression in his voice. The band rocks. These are all things that Graveyard fans know well. It’s part of the reason there are so many of them around.

So don’t think I’m trying to talk smack on Graveyard as they come back from the hiatus after their graveyard peace2015 album, Innocence and Decadence (review here), that led to guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson, guitarist Jonathan Ramm and bassist Truls Mörck parting ways with drummer Axel Sjöberg and bringing in Oskar Bergenheim to fill that role. Quite the opposite. Listen to that shuffle. Check out that boogie. That bluesy feel. It’s Graveyard alright. As many bands as have come along in the last decade trying to sound like that, nope. Graveyard still own it, vintage production or no.

But that brings us back to where we started. These are already established facts. Graveyard with a boogie track is awesome. It’s not, however, answering the question of whether Peace will follow in the melancholy soul footsteps of Innocence and Decadence, which had its boogie tracks too. It’s giving a solid first impression of Bergenheim on drums, to be sure, but it’s hardly answering the question of how the band’s personality will have invariably shifted with him behind the kit. It’s a full song, but it’s still also just a teaser for what’s invariably a more complete offering than one song could possibly convey.

So satisfying in some ways, leaving some questions in others. I guess that makes it an effective single…

Peace is out May 25 on Nuclear Blast. Album preorder link and more info follow here, courtesy of the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Graveyard, “Please Don’t” official video

Swedish classic rock connoisseurs GRAVEYARD have released the official music video for the first single, “Please Don’t,” off their eagerly anticipated upcoming comeback album, Peace.

Commented the band: ”As you may know, we’ve been doing some traveling lately. In many ways and on many levels. The good thing is that we brought back a few things for you all. Here’s a first souvenir from the road to PEACE.”

The album is now available for pre-order in various formats. The Nuclear Blast Mailorder edition will feature the CD as well as a red 7″ vinyl containing 2 exclusive and previously unreleased non-album tracks (“Headache City” & “Something Else”). Aside of that the album will be available as digipack CD as well as on black, yellow, mint, beige and clear vinyl.

Peace will be released on May 25, 2018 via Nuclear Blast.

Secure your copy via this link: http://nblast.de/GraveyardPeace

Graveyard – Peace – Track List:
01. It Ain’t Over Yet
02. Cold Love
03. See The Day
04. Please Don’t
05. Del Maniac
06. The Fox
07. Walk On
08. Bird Of Paradise
09. A Sign Of Peace
10. Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)

Line-Up:
Joakim Nilsson – vocals, guitar
Truls Mörck – bass
Oskar Bergenheim – drums
Jonatan Ramm – guitar

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Quarterly Review: Primordial, Dead Meadow, Taarna, MaidaVale, Black Willows, Craang, Fuzz Lord, Marijannah, Cosmic Fall, Owl

Posted in Reviews on April 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Okay, so this is it. The Quarterly Review definitely ends today. I’m not sneaking in a seventh day tomorrow or anything like that. This is it. The last batch of 10, bringing us to a grand total of 60 records reviewed between last Monday and now. That’s not too bad, if you think about it. Me, I’m a little done thinking about it, and if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to enjoy the time between now and late June/early July, in which for the most part I’ll be writing about one record at a time. The thought feels like a luxury after this week.

But hey, we made it. Thanks for reading along the way.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primordial, Exile Amongst the Ruins

primordial exile amongst the ruins

Primordial’s flair for the epic has not at all abated over the years. The Irish post-black-metal forerunners follow-up 2014’s Where Greater Men Have Fallen with Exile Amongst the Ruins (on Metal Blade), and though there’s plenty of charge in “To Hell or the Hangman,” “Sunken Lungs” or “Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed,” with frontman Alan Averill proselytizing declarations as grandly as ever, one might read a certain amount of fatigue into the lyrics of songs like “Stolen Years” and the 10-minute closer “Last Call.” Granted, Exile Amongst the Ruins is 65 minutes long, so I don’t think the band has run out of things to say, but could it be that the cycle of writing, recording and touring is starting to wear on them some 25 years after their founding? I wouldn’t know or speculate, and like I said, Exile Amongst the Ruins retains plenty of its sonic force, the layering of the title-track and the preceding “Where Lie the Gods” offering a depth of sound to complement the complexity of their themes.

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Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need

dead meadow The Nothing They Need

Utter masters of their domain, Los Angeles’ Dead Meadow – comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jason Simon, bassist Steve Kille and drummer Juan Londono – mark 20 years of the band with the eight songs of The Nothing They Need (on Xemu Records), bringing in former members for guest spots mostly on drums but also guitar across a rich tapestry of moods, all of which happen to be distinctly Dead Meadow’s own. The ramble in opener “Keep Your Head” or “I’m So Glad” is unmistakable, and the fuzz of the six-minute “Nobody Home” bounces with a heavy psychedelic groove that should be nothing less than a joy to the converted. Recorded in their rehearsal space, released on their own label and presented with their own particularly blend of indie pulse, psych dreamscaping and more weighted tone, a song like the swaying eight-minute “The Light” is a reminder of everything righteous Dead Meadow have accomplished in their two decades, and of the vast spread their influence has taken on in that time. Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is that no matter who’s involved, Dead Meadow sound like Dead Meadow, which is about the highest compliment I can think of to pay them.

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Xemu Records website

 

Taarna, Sanguine Ash

taarna sanguine ash

It’s not entirely clear what’s happening at the start of Taarna’s 29-minute single-song EP, Sanguine Ash, but the samples are vague and violent sounding and the noise behind them is abrasive. A strum and build takes hold as the Portland, Oregon, black metallers, who feature former members of Godhunter in their ranks, continue in the first couple minutes to develop a suicidal thematic, and six minutes in, a wash of static takes hold with drums behind it only to give way, in turn, to lush-sounding keys or guitar (could go either way) that patiently leads to a rumbling, roiling lurch of blacksludge. Cavern-vocals echo and cut through molasses tones and Taarna ride that malicious groove for the next several minutes until, at around 18:30, samples start again. This leads to more quiet guitar, resonant blackened thrust, noise, noise, more noise and a final emergent wash of caustic anti-metal that couldn’t possibly be clearer in its mission to challenge, repel and come across as completely fucked as it can. Done and done, you scathing bastards.

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MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure

maidavale madness is too pure

I already discussed a lot of what is working so well on MaidaVale’s second album, Madness is Too Pure (The Sign Records), when I put up the video for “Oh Hysteria!” (posted here), but it’s worth reemphasizing the sonic leap the Swedish four-piece have made between their 2016 debut, the bluesy and well-crafted Tales of the Wicked West (review here) and this nine-song offering, which stretches far outside the realm of blues rock and encompasses psychedelic jamming, spontaneous-sounding explorations, brazen but not at all caustic vibes, and an overarching energy of delivery that reminds both of a live presentation and, on a song like “Gold Mine,” of what Death Alley have been able to revitalize in space-punk. Memorable progressions like that of “Walk in Silence” and the freaked out “Dark Clouds” offer standout moments, but really, it’s the whole album itself that’s the standout, and if the debut showed MaidaVale’s potential, Madness is Too Pure ups that factor significantly.

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Black Willows, Bliss

black willows bliss

About a year and a half after releasing their 2016 sophomore outing, Samsara (review here), Swiss post-doomers Black Willows return with a 19-minute single-song EP they’ve dubbed Bliss. It is utterly hypnotic. The sonic equivalent of watching a bonfire take hold of dry wood. It consumes with its dense heft of riff and then lulls the listener with stretches of minimalism and ambience, the first of which provides the intro to the piece itself. Black Willows are no strangers to working with longform material, and as Bliss also appears as the band’s half of a Bloodrock Records split with Craneium, it’s understandable they’d want to bring their best, but the weight of their groove feels unexpected even in terms of having heard their past work. So they’ve gotten heavier? Yeah, maybe. What really matters is how they wield that weight, and on Bliss, they put it to use as much as an atmospheric table-setter as in a display of sheer force. Beware the noise wash at the end. That’s all I’ll say.

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Craang, Shine

craang shine

Greek heavy psych rockers Craang set up a dynamic quickly on their new two-song full-length, Shine (also stylized as S H IN E) that both encourages and rewards patience and trust on the part of the listener. They begin 24:52 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Horizon – Tempest” quietly and commence to unfold through ebbs and flows, clean vocals and shouts, open spaces and dense(r) riffing. There is a break near and at the halfway point that presumably is the shift between one part of “Horizon – Tempest” and the other, and the second half follows that lead with a more active presentation. The accompanying “Ocean – Cellular” (19:41) launches with a bed of synth that fades as the bass, drums and guitar enter and begin a linear build that retains a progressive edge, dropping off at about eight minutes in perhaps as another transition into “Cellular,” which indeed follows a more winding, intricate path. One can only say Craang are clear in their representation of what they want to convey, and because of that, Shine is all the more of an engaging experience, the listener essentially following the band on this journey from place to place, idea to idea.

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Fuzz Lord, Fuzz Lord

Fuzz Lord fuzz lord

We start at “The Gates of Hell” and end up in “Infamous Evil,” so one might say Ohio trio Fuzz Lord – guitarist Steven “Fuzz Lord” joined by bassist/vocalist “Stoner” Dan Riley and drummer/vocalist Lawrence “Lord Buzz” – have their thematic well set on their eight-track self-titled debut (on Fuzzdoom Records). Likewise, their tones and the sense of space in the echoing vocals of “Kronos Visions Arise” and the later, extra-Sabbathian “World Collide” seem to know precisely where they’re headed. Riley recorded the 39-minute outing, while Justin Pizzoferrato (Elder, Dinosaur Jr., many others) mixed, and the resulting conjuration is earthbound in its low end while allowing the guitar to either roll out riffy largesse or take an airier approach. The uptempo “The Lord of the Underground” speaks to a punker underpinning, while the preceding “The Warriors Who Reign” seems to have a more classic metal take, and “Infamous Evil,” also the longest track at 7:51, peppers in layered guitar leads amid a doomier, Luciferian vibe and fervent hook.

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Marijannah, Till Marijannah

Marijannah till marijannah

Comprised of members of Wormrot and The Caulfield Cult, Singapore-based newcomers Marijannah execute four tracks of blown-out tones and psychedelic cavernousness with their Pink Tank Records debut release, Till Marijannah. Touches of garage swing make their way into opener “1974,” and second cut “Snakecharmer” blazes and scorches with wah-drenched solos around crunching rhythms and melodic vocalizations. A march emerges on the nine-minute “Bride of Mine” and only gets more fervent as the track makes its way forward, and driving finale “All Hollow’s Eve” presents a cacophonous but controlled take from Marijannah that reinforces the notion of nothing on their first outing happening by accident. Impressive and just a bit frenetic, it leaves one wondering what further ground the band might look to explore from here, whether they’ve set their sonic course and will look to refine their processes along these lines or whether this is just the beginning of a wider stylistic melding, and their next offering might sound completely different than Till Marijannah. The one seems as likely as the other, and that’s incredibly refreshing.

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Cosmic Fall, In Search of Outer Space

cosmic fall in search of outer space

Immediate points to Berlin jammers Cosmic Fall for opening their six-song/43-minute third album, In Search of Outer Space, with the 11-minute longest track “Jabberwocky.” The three-piece introduced new guitarist Marcin Marowski last year on Jams for Free (review here), and as bassist Klaus Friedrich steps up to take the vocalist role and drummer Daniel Sax continues to hold together impossible spaciousness with a fluidity of groove, Marowski seems right at home wah-noodling in the open reaches of “Jabberwocky” and soldering shred and swirl together on the later “Lumberjam.” Some of In Search of Outer Space’s most effective moments are its quietest, as on “Purification” or second cut “Narcotic Vortex,” but neither will I decry the bass fuzz that takes hold near the finish there or the molten churn that bookends closer “Icarus,” but as “Spacejam” hits into the vastness, it seems Cosmic Fall as just as apt to float as to rocket their way out of the atmosphere. In either case, they most certainly get there.

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Owl, Orion Fenix

owl orion fenix

The solo-project of Christian Kolf of avant death-crunchers Valborg, Owl issues the 22-minute single-song EP Orion Fenix – with its chanting repetitions of “reborn in fire” – as a precursor to the upcoming LP, Nights in Distortion. Like Owl’s last EP, 2015’s wondrously dark Aeon Cult (review here), Orion Fenix is both intense churn and slow-rolling melancholy, bridging a gap between classic doom (that lead 15 minutes in) and post-doom rhythms and atmosphere. If the project’s purpose is to find beauty in darkness, Orion Fenix accomplishes this quickly enough, but the track’s runtime and lush layering allow Kolf to lend a sense of exploration to what is no doubt a meticulous creative process, since he’s handling all the instruments and vocals himself. Either way, Orion Fenix, as a herald, bodes remarkably well for forward progress on Nights in Distortion to come, and is a remarkable accomplishment on its own in both heft and spaciousness.

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Quarterly Review: The Atlas Moth, Across Tundras, The Wizards of Delight, Against the Grain, Our Solar System, Dommengang, Boss Keloid, Holy Smoke, Sabel, Blackwater Prophet

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is a crucial moment in any Quarterly Review. Today we hit the halfway point one way or the other. I still haven’t decided if this will be a 50- or 60-album edition; kind of playing it by ear, but either way, today’s a landmark in my mind in terms of how far to go vs. how far we’ve come. Uphill vs. downhill to some extent, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m either half-assing it from here on out or that I don’t enjoy the challenge of reviewing 10 records in a day, one after the next, for (at least) five days in a row. I’ve always been a glutton for a bit of self-flagellation. Ha.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Atlas Moth, Coma Noir

the atlas moth coma noir

If one still wants to consider Chicago’s The Atlas Moth post-metal after hearing Coma Noir, at least do them the courtesy of emphasizing the “metal” part of that equation. For their debut on Prosthetic Records and fourth full-length overall, the five-piece worked with producer Sanford Parker to solidify a progressive metal sound that, whether in the harsh and weighted impact of the opening title-track or the later interplay between guitarists Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush on screams and cleaner vocals in “Furious Gold,” seems to take cues from groups like a less manic Strapping Young Lad and a less watered-down Mastodon more than Isis or Neurosis. With prominent synth from Andrew Ragin (also guitar), and the solid roll from the rhythm section of bassist Alex Klein and drummer Mike Miczek, the band brings revitalized edge to “The Streets of Bombay,” and even on the slower, more atmospheric closer “Chloroform,” they’ve never sounded more lethal. It suits them.

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Across Tundras, Tumbleweeds III

across tundras tumbleweeds iii

A collection of odds and ends from Across Tundras, the 10-track/52-minute Tumbleweeds III may or may not sate anyone hoping for a follow-up to 2013’s Electric Relics (review here), but it provides some curio fodder along the way to be sure, from raw opener “Final Breath over Venom Falls” to the acoustic-percussion jam “Bullet in the Butt” to the fuller roll of “Cold Ride” and later demos for “Spinning Through the Cosmic Dust,” “Hijo del Desierto,” “Stone Crazy Horse” and “The Stacked Plain,” which later became “Seasick Serenade” on Electric Relics, it’s at very least something for fans to dig into and a fascinating listen, as Across Tundras’ rambling sound is almost eerily suited to a home-recording vibe, as the “Stone Crazy Horse” demo, featuring vocalist Shannon Allie-Murphy along with frontman Tanner Olson, sounds all the more folksome as a result of its lack of production polish. Closing with Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” then, could hardly be more appropriate. Still waiting for a proper long-player to surface, but happy at this point to take what comes.

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The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

Like a chicanery-laced dusty vinyl with a naked lady on the cover, The Wizards of Delight emerge from the London underground to solidly declare “We’ve got the rock ‘n’ rollz.” And yes, they spell it with a ‘z.’ The presence of frontman Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen will be familiar to anyone who ever even briefly encountered Groan – dude makes an impression, to be sure – and the four tracks he and the surrounding five-piece of guitarists/backing vocalists Dan Green’s Myth and Lenny Ray, bassist/backing vocalist Eponymous, organist/backing vocalist Henry and drummer Reece bring is both funky and classically heavy, “Gypsy” referencing Dio Sabbath in the first line while “Mountain Woman” brings a heavy ‘70s shuffle to answer the way-un-P.C. “Shogun Messiah,” which seems to be working under the thesis that because it sounds like it’s from 40 years ago, they can get away with it. I’ll give them that the track is, to an unfortunate degree, catchy. As to the rest, give me the groove of “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” any day. It’s been a while since anyone so brazenly interpreted Mk. II Deep Purple and actually pulled it off.

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Against the Grain, Cheated Death

against the grain cheated death

Hard-touring Detroit heavy rockers Against the Grain are known for speed, and rightly so. When they burst into high gear, as on “Sacrifice,” “No Sleep,” “Last Chance,” “Rolling Stone,” “Enough’s Not Enough,” and “Jaded and Faded” from their latest offering and Ripple Music debut, Cheated Death. The follow-up to 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) sees them no less infectious in their live energy, but it’s hard to ignore the more versatile approach that seems to be growing in their sound, from the classic rocking “Smoke” to the near-centerpiece “Devils and Angels” which ballads-out its boozy regrets before entering into an effective mid-paced build that rounds out in choice dual-soloing. Likewise, though they open at a good clip with the title-track, closer “Into the Light” finds a middle ground between thrust and groove. The truth is Against the Grain have never been just about speed, but they’ve never so directly benefited from a dynamic approach as they do on Cheated Death either.

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Our Solar System, Origins

our solar system origins

Immediate kudos to Stockholm-based psychedelic progressive explorers Our Solar System – aka Vårt Solsystem – for opening their third full-length for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the five-track/41-minute Origins, with the side-consuming 21-minute “Vulkanen.” One could hardly ask for more effective immersion in the band’s world of patiently unfurled, languid psychedelia, and with the accompaniment of “Babalon Rising,” the jazz-prog tracklist centerpiece “En Bit Av Det Tredje Klotet,” the birdsong-laced “Naturligt Samspel” and the semi-freaked-out melodic wash of “Monte Verita” on side B, a full, rich, and mind-expanding cosmos is engaged, free of restriction even as it remains thoroughly lysergic, and adherent to no structural will so much as the will to adventure into the unknown, to find out where one progression leads. As regards the long- and short-form material on Origins, it leads far, far out, and if you don’t come out the other side wanting to own everything the band has ever released, you’re decidedly in the wrong.

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Dommengang, Love Jail

dommengang love jail

Once calling Brooklyn Home, Los Angeles trio Dommengang waste no time in getting down to the business of boogie on their second album for Thrill Jockey, Love Jail. Produced by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), the 10-track/50-minute long-player has all the room for organ/guitar mashups, righteous West Coast vibes and easy-flowing classic heavy rock one could hope for, and in the opening salvo of “Pastel City,” “Lovely Place” and “Lone Pine,” the three-piece of guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem reaffirm mellow bluesiness as well on the title-track and dig into ‘90s-style alt bliss on the penultimate “Color out of Space.” There’s a welcoming air throughout that holds steady regardless of tempo, and in heavier moments like the second half of “I’m out Mine,” the band resonates with fuzz and noisy elements that bring just enough danger to the proceedings to keep the listener riveted. Classy, but not too classy, in other words.

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Thrill Jockey Records website

 

Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch

boss keloid melted on the inch

It would seem that Wigan, UK, outfit Boss Keloid — newly signed to Holy Roar Records for the release of their third LP, Melted on the Inch – internalized a few crucial lessons from their sophomore outing, 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (review here). At six tracks and 40 minutes, Melted on the Inch is about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor. Its title isn’t a weed pun. Its cover art conveys a work of dimensionality, and most importantly, the album itself turns to be precisely that. Taking a significant step toward a more progressive sound, Boss Keloid maintain the heft of their prior outing but base it around material that, frankly, is more complex and dynamic. I won’t say that “Tarku Shavel” and “Lokannok” are without their elements of self-indulgence, but neither should they be for the five-piece to do justice to the multifaceted nature of their purpose. They still roar when they want to, but Boss Keloid strike with breadth on Melted on the Inch as well as sheer impact.

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Holy Smoke, Pipe Dream

holy smoke pipe dream

After forming in 2015, Philadelphia’s exclamatory Holy Smoke! issued their first three-track release, It’s a Demo! (review here) the next year and showed marked stylistic promise in cuts like “Rinse and Repeat” and “Blue Dreams.” Both of those tracks, as it happens, stand at the opening of the band’s latest EP, the five-song Pipe Dream, and reaffirm the potential in the group. The opener (also the longest track once again; immediate points) is a tale of workaday redundancy, the very sort of monotony that the rest of the offering seems to leave behind in favor of post-grunge heavy rock, marked by the wah-bass on finale “Asch Backwards” and the brooding sensibility of the prior “Golden Retriever,” which surges in its midsection like a lost Alice in Chains demo only to end quiet once again, a departure from the linearity of centerpiece “Missing the Mark” just before. Less psychedelic than their initial impression conveyed, they seem to have undertaken the work of crafting their own sonic niche in Philly’s increasingly crowded scene, and there’s nothing on Pipe Dream to make one think it’s not a realistic possibility they’ll get there.

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Sabel, Re-Generation

sabel re-generation

Sabel know what they want to be and then are that thing. Their third album, Re-Generation, arrives via Oak Island Records as six tracks of to-the-converted stonerism, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “In the Walls of Eryx,” the Swedish trio do little more than ask their listeners to smell the smoke emanating from their speaker cabinets (oddly sweet), and hone walls of fuzz that each seem to be bigger than the last. There are some elements of earliest Electric Wizard at play in “Atlantean” or the sneering “Voodoo Woman,” but belters like “Interstellar Minddweller” and “Green Priestess” stave off their sounding overly derivative, and though at the end of Re-Generation’s 42-minute run, one might feel as though they need a shower, the record itself proves well worth the dive into the muck. The band would seem to have carved their own descriptor with the title of their self-released 2015 LP, Hard Doom, and that’s as good as anything I could come up with, so let’s roll with it. They seem to.

Sabel on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Blackwater Prophet, As I Watch it Freeze

blackwater prophet as i watch it freeze

Cheers to Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment for putting me onto Spokane, Washington’s Blackwater Prophet, who with the seven-track As I Watch it Freeze collect various tracks recorded between 2015 and 2017. Thus something of a compilation, the 40-minute outing wants nothing for overarching flow, “In My Passing Time” leading off with a mellow psych-blues spirit that only grows more classic-feeling through “House of Stone” and the gorgeously pastoral “The Swamp.” The band have two proper full-lengths out, and if they wanted to count As I Watch it Freeze as their third, I don’t think they’d find much argument, as centerpiece “Gold in the Palm” opens like a gateway leading to the increasingly resonant “Careworn Crow,” the fuzzy swing of “Eating the Sun” and finally, the title-track itself, which answers the acoustics of “The Swamp” earlier while adding flourish of volume-swelling and swirling electric guitar and late choral vocals that only make the proceedings seem all the more complete in their engagement.

Blackwater Prophet on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Prophet on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Avon, The Discussion, Alms, Vessel of Light, Enojado, Mother Mars, Southfork, Gypsy Sun Revival, Valhalla Lights, L.O.W.

Posted in Reviews on April 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is the part of each Quarterly Review when I begin to question my life choices. Otherwise known as ‘the beginning.’ I still haven’t decided if this is going to be a five-dayer or a six-dayer, but one way or another, between now and whenever it ends, at least 50 records will be reviewed in batches of 10 per day. It’s completely insane. Completely. Every three months or so I remind myself of this by doing it again, and every time it ends up being worth the insanity. I’ve no doubt that will be the case here as well, but looking across the next five days at placeholders where reviews need to be, well, yeah. It’s pretty insane.

So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Avon, Dave’s Dungeon

avon daves dungeon

Dave’s Dungeon is the second full-length from Californian desert rockers Avon, and with it they make their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds. Peppered with varied songwriting across alternately garage rocking cuts like “Yello,” “On Fire” and “Red Barn” (video premiere here), languid psychedelic excursions in “Space Native” and the subtly proggy “Hero with a Gun,” and the classic desert crunch of “Dungeon Dave,” “Mace Face” and “Terraformations,” the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist James Childs, bassist Charles Pasarell (also Waxy) and drummer Alfredo Hernández (ex-Kyuss, Yawning Man, etc.) have no doubt garnered attention due to the participation of the latter, but all three manage to leave their mark across the 10 tracks, particularly Childs. His English-accented vocals become a defining element in “Hero with a Gun” and “Yello,” and whether fast or slow, the rhythm section offers air-tight accompaniment. Straightforward in their approach but not without some flourish, Avon bring their own touch to the classic desert style and offer memorable songs in the process. Nobody loses.

Avon on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

The Discussion, European Tour EP

The Discussion European Tour Ep 2017

Issued to coincide with an initial string of Fall 2017 European shows, the aptly-titled Tour EP serves as the debut offering from The Discussion, and its five tracks mark the return of guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants, not heard from since the end of her prior outfit, Kylesa. With “A Gesture/Other Side,” Pleasants and company commune with post-rock and atmospheric stretch, where “Like Rain” and “Surf Jesus” channel New Wave and Blondie pop with an underlying heft of low end to add presence. Through it all, Pleasants’ vocals prove a patient and melodic element, and as “Before We’re Gone” brings in a moody krautrock sensibility and finale “Cuts Like a Knife” engages louder and more forward riffing in its final minute payoff, the message that The Discussion has only begun comes through loud and clear. Tour EP sounds like the beginning stages of a larger process of experimentation and creative growth, and one hopes it proves to be precisely that.

The Discussion on Thee Facebooks

The Discussion on Bandcamp

 

Alms, Demo Vol. 1

alms demo vol 1

Modern heavy rock groove meets classic metal guitar on AlmsDemo Vol. 1, which, as it turns out, is more of a sampler than an actual demo, comprised as it is of two rough mixes from the band’s forthcoming debut album. The result of this mesh on “The Offering” and “Dead Water” is somewhere between Uncle Acid swing and Iron Maiden twin lead work, and the five-piece do well immediately to own the combination and make it cohesive sonically. Traditional doom play more of a role in “Dead Water,” and the keys of vocalist Jess Kamen – joined by guitarist/vocalist Bob Sweeney, guitarist Danny McDonald, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans – and while I don’t know what label it is that’s going to pick them up (I’d believe anyone from Ripple to Shadow Kingdom to Season of Mist, depending on how much they want to tour), but if these two songs are anything to go by, they’ll be lucky to get them.

Alms on Thee Facebooks

Alms on Bandcamp

 

Vessel of Light, Vessel of Light

vessel of light vessel of light

Collaborating between Ohio and New Jersey, Vessel of Light brings together vocalist Nathan Opposition of Ancient VVisdom and guitarist Dan Lorenzo of Hades. Their self-titled five-tracker EP (on Argonauta) melds bluesy metallic riffing with tales of murder and drugs on cuts like “Dead Flesh and Bones” (video premiere here) and its eponymous closer, which emphasizes a hook based around the lines, “LSD has got a hold on me/I wanna show you all the things that I’ve seen.” It goes like that. For Lorenzo, parts recall the groove he brought to short-lived heavy rock outfit The Cursed, but with Opposition’s lyrics and the periodic delving into harsher vocals, there’s a moodier and more aggressive edge to the songs that helps define the personality of the duo as a band. How often they’ll work together remains to be seen, they make a murderous introduction with this EP and there’s plenty of fodder here for further exploration should they get there.

Vessel of Light on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Enojado, Mist and Thunder

enojado mist and thunder

German trio Enojado was founded by guitarist/vocalist Stephan Kieserling circa 2002, and though he’s been through numerous lineups since, with bassist/vocalist Thomas Schnaube and drummer Till Junker, he’s put together the band’s first release since their 2014 The Chain is Loose LP was issued by Setalight. At under half an hour and six tracks plus an intro, late 2017’s Mist and Thunder offers solid heavy rock songwriting with a straightforward approach bordering on the metallic in its tone but never quite departing a heavy rock context in rhythm, even in the starts and stops of “Notorious.” The obvious standout in heft is the seven-minute “Coma,” which seems to add weight to everything around it, from “The Truth About Gold” earlier to “I Saw the Sun,” which follows, and the finale in “Queen of Heaven,” which brings a quick payoff to the release and leaves a residual echo and drone/guitar minimalism for its last two minutes. Less derivative than it at first seems, Mist and Thunder might take multiple rounds to sink in, but proves worth the effort of a dedicated listen.

Enojado on Thee Facebooks

Enojado on Bandcamp

 

Mother Mars, On Lunar Highlands

mother mars on lunar highlands

It’s kind of rare for a band to sound like they’re making fun of their own music as they play it, and yet, “Lost Planet Airmen” from Mother Mars’ fourth full-length, On Lunar Highlands, does precisely that. The Aussie trio led by multi-instrumentalists Frank (drums, synth, Clavinet) and Paul (guitar, bass, synth, banjo-mandolin, keys) Attard – who also produced together – and featuring the bluesy stylings of vocalist Dave Schembri, did not make the 11-tracker a minor undertaking. Rather, at 69 minutes, it pushes through stoner boogie on “Thought it Best to Cut You Loose” and still has room for heady jams on extended pieces like “The Stalwarts of Stalwart Castle” (9:31), “Woodhollow Green” (12:55) and the penultimate title-track (8:35), which leads to the far-out banjo shenanigans of closer “The Heavy Hand of the Destroyer.” Needless to say, madness ensues. Interludes like “Bean Stalkin’” and “Bean Stalkin’ Again” and the experimental “The Working Mind of the Creator” add anything-can-happen flair, and the weirder On Lunar Highlands gets, the more it satisfies. It gets very, very weird.

Mother Mars on Thee Facebooks

Mother Mars on Bandcamp

 

Southfork, Through a Dark Lens

southfork through a dark lens
Two decades after their founding in 1997, Stockholm’s Southfork returned late last year with their first album since 2001’s Straight Ahead, the seven-track Through a Dark Lens, which itself is nearly five years in the making. Opening with its longest cut (immediate points) in the 7:59 “Already Gone,” the bass-heavy approach the band takes is indeed emblematic of an era now easily thought of as classic, but one could hardly call it dated for that. Rather, tracks like “Into the Deep” and “Tomb of the Mirror Men” flow easily from one to the next and the record reveals in the strut of “Seventosix” and the answer-back closer “Nowhere Gone” just why someone might put almost half a decade of effort into realizing it. Whether you remember Southfork’s original run or not, Through a Dark Lens offers immersive tone and songwriting and as Southfork have already followed it up with what seems to be a compilation release, it may signal a return to fuller activity on their part.

Southfork on Thee Facebooks

Southfork on Bandcamp

 

Gypsy Sun Revival, Journey Outside of Time

Gypsy Sun Revival Journey Outside Of Time

Production by Kent Stump (Wo Fat). Mastering by John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet). Released through Nasoni Records. Sure enough, the second album from Texas heavy psych rockers Gypsy Sun Revival, Journey Outside of Time, wants nothing for the quality of its associations and with the Hendrixian guitar work of Will Weise and the bluesy classic frontman approach of vocalist Mario Rodriguez, they earn that pedigree through and through. Tyler Gene Davis’ contributions on organ only further the ‘70s vibes on “To the Sky” before Weise takes a wah-soaked solo backed by Lee Ryan on bass and drummer Ben H., and the later two-part “Pisces” combines with closer “Departure” to create a thrilling jammed-out side B that takes the more structured craft of “Indigo” and catchy opener “Cadillac to Mexico” earlier and pulls them through an interdimensional haze that only does more to evoke the album’s title. Between Journey Outside of Time and Gypsy Sun Revival’s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), one is left wondering how long we’ll be able to think of them as a well-kept secret of Texas’ fertile heavy underground.

Gypsy Sun Revival on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Valhalla Lights, My Gracious Highway

valhalla lights my gracious highway

There’s a commercial sense of clarity to Valhalla LightsMy Gracious Highway, which seems to have been originally issued by the band in 2016 but is being given a renewed international push. It’s a crisp 13-track/45-minute long-player, marked by solid songcraft and the forward performance of vocalist Ange Saul, who takes the place of departed original singer Phoebe Black, who passed away in 2015 just prior to guitarist George Christie, bassist Brent “Badger” Crysell and drummer Deon Driver – all formerly of heavy rockers FORT – entered the studio to record their debut release. Songs veer toward Queens of the Stone Age-style groove on “Hammer the Witch” and closer “Punk,” and there’s enough variety of mood between the brooding “Beautiful,” showcase centerpiece “The One” and “Darker Side of Love” and the all-go rockers “Rise Above,” “Crucify” and “Someday” to carry the listener through smoothly with an abiding sense of professionalism. Will be too clean for some listeners, but is largely inarguable in its execution.

Valhalla Lights on Thee Facebooks

Valhalla Lights website

 

L.O.W., Bones EP

low bones ep

Located in the northwest of Poland, the acronymic four-piece L.o.W. debut with the Bones EP, which hurls forth three extended works of extreme sludge led into by an atmospheric intro. The band – the lineup of vocalist Adam, guitarist Marek, drummer Witold and bassist Micha? belong to the post-Primitive Man sphere of viciousness, but “Tear Me Open” offers some respite in its closing moments, pulling back on the massive plunder and switching from guttural growls to spoken vocals. With just a touch of Electric Wizard swirl, “Almost Like God’s,” renews the onslaught, offering a break in its middle from the Eyehategod-style sway while saving its most brutal growl for last, and at just under 10 minutes long, the title-track rounds out Bones with bass and drums unfolding a progression soon topped by guitar noise that lets the listener know they’ve just entered another level of punishment. There are moments of impulse toward stonerism that show themselves in Marek’s guitar work, but the primary mission on Bones seems to be assault, and the band has no problem living up to that intent.

L.o.W. on Bandcamp

L.o.W. on Thee Facebooks

 

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Friday Full-Length: Unida & Dozer, Double EP

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

Unida & Dozer, Double EP (1999)

Unida and Dozer in 1999. Each with an EP, teaming up to put them out together on CD via a then relatively-nascent MeteorCity. I ask you, what’s not to dig about that? And if you can ever get past the hook of Unida‘s “Red” — no easy feat, mind you — you’ll find the whole release has something to offer as regards peak post-Kyuss-era heavy rock. The Californian desert and Sweden never sounded closer together than they do here.

The Best of Wayne-Gro was the first Unida release, and it was put out by MeteorCity as a standalone in 1998 before being included in this split. Of course, Unida was John Garcia‘s next project after the dissolution of Slo Burn and Kyuss before that, and with the fuzz of guitarist Arthur Seay (now of House of Broken Promises), the bass of Jerry Montano (HellyeahDanzig, etc.) and the drums of Miguel Cancino (also now of House of Broken Promises) behind him, the band was a powerhouse from the start. They’d hold on to some sense of jammy looseness with Garcia‘s “what the fuck?” freakout shouts in “Wet Pussycat,” which finished out their section of the split, and “Delta Alba Plex” before that began to depart somewhat from the more rigid structure of “Red” and opener “Flower Girl,” but one way or the other, Unida offered primo desert rock in this first outing and filled the listener with hope for what they might go on to accomplish together.

The groove was immediate on “Flower Girl,” and Garcia rode on top of it as only he seems to be able to do, his cadence and the guttural push in his voice entirely his own. Unida‘s always been thought of as a “John Garcia band” along with the likes of Hermano and Slo Burn — that is, I don’t know if the group would’ve worked with a different singer, which is likely part of why Seay put together House of Broken Promises and left Unida to reunite as their own thing when the time came in 2013 — but the entire band was on point. Listen to Cancino‘s drumming at the start of “Red.” He’s carrying that entire build himself, moving to his toms and cymbals before taking off on the crash for the chorus. The fuzz features, naturally, and I won’t take away from Seay‘s solo later in the track, but in terms of propulsion, it’s the drums all the way, and they hold together the nod of “Delta Alba Plex” as well before “Wet Pussycat” kind of pulls itself apart at the end after that sweet, laid back roll in its first half. I’m not the first person to say it, and this is by no means the first time I’ve said it, but what a band. What potential. And do you know what the craziest part is? If you put SeayCancino and Garcia in a studio today, they’d absolutely crush it. I’m sure I don’t need to recount for you the story of their lost albumThe Great Divide, which would’ve followed up their 1999 debut, Coping with the Urban Coyote (discussed here). Bottom line: some you win, some you lose. We all lost on that one.

Of course, Unida wasn’t the only act brimming with potential on the release, and like them, Dozer had issued their four-song Coming Down the Mountain EP as a standalone the year prior. Recorded in the band’s native Borlänge, Sweden, it stands as an ultra-early release for them as well, following their 1998 demo, Universe 75 (discussed here), and preceding a why-the-hell-has-no-one-compiled-these-for-reissue series of three splits with fellow Swedes Demon Cleaner that would be released over the course of ’98 and ’99. At the time, Dozer were guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, guitarist Tommi Holappa (now Greenleaf), bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall — the latter two now of Besvärjelsen), and the same lineup would go on to make three full-lengths together, 2000’s In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here) and 2001’s Madre de Dios on Man’s Ruin and 2002’s Call it Conspiracy (discussed here) on Molten Universe before parting ways with Bäckwall and working with producer/percussionist Karl Daniel Lidén — by then formerly of Demon Cleaner — for 2005’s more aggressive Through the Eyes of Heathens. Here though, they sound raw in comparison to the more experienced Unida, and man does it work for them.

I’m a big fan of what Dozer ultimately became. I think Through the Eyes of Heathens and their 2008 swansong, Beyond Colossal, were nothing short of incredible achievements of individualism in heavy rock, and if you want to know where they might’ve gone next, pick up Greenleaf‘s 2012 album, Nest of Vipers (review here), and go forward from there. That said, early Dozer — along with earliest Natas and just about no one else — offers some of the most natural sounding not-from-the-desert desert rock you’ll ever hear. “Headed for the Sun” is a near-perfect execution of what at the time was barely a genre, and to follow it with the roll of “Calamari Sidetrip” — the watery effect on Nordin‘s vocals almost acting as a tie to Garcia‘s — and the psychedelic guitar work there offset by the all-thrust of the drum-led “From Mars” and the consuming fuzz of “Overheated,” Dozer sound like a young band, to be sure, but their energy is infectious as it would remain throughout their career. Something else they still have in common with Unida? Put these guys in a studio today, and yeah, they’d absolutely destroy.

I thought maybe I’d bug former MeteorCity honcho Jadd Shickler and see what he had to say about it as one of the guys who put it out. Here’s what he had on the subject:

“Within our first year of trying to figure out what the hell it meant to run a record label, we’d managed to open a communication line to ex-Kyuss/Slo Burn singer John Garcia and his new band Unida. We were also on the forefront of exploring the new contingent of Kyuss-inspired bands in Sweden. With the Nebula/Lowrider double EP coming together so beautifully, we wanted to continue on that magic path. Debuting the first recordings anywhere from Unida, which saw a more in-your-face vocal style than anyone had heard from John with Kyuss or Slo Burn, paired with (I think) the first worldwide release from Dozer, who would grow into an internationally-known stoner-rock juggernaut themselves, was perfect synchronicity. The songs were badass, and the sense of significance was palpable. It was pretty much impossible to ever tap into that early sense of trailblazing discovery in quite the same way again.”

The Double EP split has a special place in stoner rock history, and the quality of the material on it is unmistakable and a banner example of the best of its era. MeteorCity reissued it circa 2005, so I think copies still exist someplace on the planet.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I just went for a walk in the parking lot of the townhouse where I live. Back and forth with the little dog Dio. Apparently that’s a thing I do now. It’s quarter-to-six in the morning. I’ve been up since three. Somehow though, if my impressions during semi-conscious rollovers and getting up to go to the bathroom twice (11PM and 1AM, like clockwork) are anything to go by, I think The Patient Mrs. slept even worse. I was out early. I don’t know that it was 8:30PM. Pretty soon I’ll be asleep before the sun goes down. Hell if I care. I’m up before it’s up, so that makes some kind of sense. As much as anything.

I hear next week is the Quarterly Review. Well, I’ve done all of jack shit to prepare for it at this point and I think I just might decide to make it a six-dayer unless at the end of next week I’m so mentally burnt I can’t handle the prospect of going the additional day — which is certainly possible given everything else slated for the week as well. Dig the notes, subject of course to change:

Mon.: QR1, Greenbeard video premiere.
Tue.: QR2, Black Rainbows review/stream.
Wed.: QR3, Gozu review/track premiere.
Thu.: QR4, new Green Druid video.
Fri.: QR5, Rancho Bizzarro EP stream.

My brain aches thinking about it. Also I’ve got family in town this afternoon and tomorrow and I’m going to a Passover Seder tomorrow night at the home of one of The Patient Mrs.’ longtime friends down on Cape Cod. None of my pants fit. None of my shirts fit. If you need me, I’ll be drowning my anxiety in bran flakes and soy milk and sumo oranges. Also meds.

Oh yeah, plus five-month-old. The Pecan had a banner week. Dude’s clean vocals need some work, but he’s a screamer with the best of ’em.

I was in the grocery store the other day though — I grocery shop like every fucking day; it’s a thing to do with the baby and an unfortunate side-effect of eating food — and this leaving-middle-age dude in front of me in line turned around, saw the baby in the car seat in the cart and said, “I did that for 15 years before it was really accepted,” obviously talking about house-husbanding because it was the middle of the day. He had a pretty thick Massaccent, so I didn’t pick up everything he said, but I told him in response that it turns out it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. That’s not really true — I also want to write, all the time — but in terms of work, it’s incredibly difficult and only going to become more so once he’s verbal and mobile, but it beats the living shit out of every single job I’ve ever had. So yeah. Dude looked surprised. I was a little surprised too, I guess.

Then I went home and walked in the parking lot and told the little guy about snow melting and becoming water again. Somehow I doubt that’s the last time I’ll have that conversation.

Times continue to be hard in my head. Really hard. I see things and they set me off, like the dinner jacket that used to be my grandfather’s that I wore to my grandmother’s funeral that will never fit me again, and I get really sad. My nutritionist keeps telling me not to think about my body as a number, i.e. a weight. I’m not. I’m thinking of it as a thing that doesn’t fit into any of its clothes. Given where I was three months ago, it sucks to be where I am now. The doctor took more blood this week. I can’t even remember why.

Alright, I don’t really want to turn this post into a poor-fat-me piss party, so I’m going to leave eating disorder discussion there. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m expecting a call any minute now from The Patient Mrs. for me to go upstairs and change the baby, so that’s something. Anyway, have fun and be safe. Quarterly Review starts Monday and don’t forget the forum and radio stream in the meantime. Thanks for reading.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Lightsabres Sign to DHU Records; A Shortcut to Insanity Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Swedish genremasher John Strömshed, now in his fifth year of operation under the moniker of Lightsabres, has inked a deal to release his next full-length through DHU Records. After a series of outings through STB Records, HeviSike, Medusa Crush and others, DHU will release the forthcoming A Shortcut to Insanity, which is a title that may or may not be final but serves as a reasonably fitting description of what it’s like to try and follow along with Strömshed as he careens between styles, leaving his stamp on them as he goes.

Admirably prolific, Lightsabres issued a split with Blissful Stream last year to follow-up on 2016’s Hibernation (review here), and seems to be on a continuous mission to confuse the crap out of anyone who’d try to slab a label on his work one way or another.

The PR wire made it official:

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

DHU RECORDS – !!! NEW SIGNING !!!

DHU Records is damn excited to announce the signing of Luleå, Sweden’s own one man stoner punk enigma LIGHTSABRES!

Having released a handful of albums under many great labels, DHU Records will not hold back on this one!

Formed in 2013 with a total DIY ethic John Strömshed set out to make some of the most gnarliest lo fi stoner punk much akin to the sound of 80s and 90s Black Metal, even using a font that is similar as most bands of that genre.

The music however is more like the early punk bands of the 80s, combined with stoner riffage and heavy metal melodies, distinguishing himself and creating his own signature sound.

DHU Records is ecstatic and honored to be working with and releasing LIGHTSABRES new album tentatively called A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

Presented here is the artwork created by MIDORI HAYASHI for LIGHTSABRES new album A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

Tracklist
1. From the Demon’s Mouth
2. Breathing Fire
3. Cave In
4. Sweet Oblivion of Sleep
5. Shot in the Head
6. Tangled in Barbed Wire
7. With Horns
8. No Light
9. Shark Eyes
10. Born Screaming

As always with DHU Records you can expect some wild colored Limited Editions to compliment the release. More details and info coming soon.

LIGHTSABRES
J. Strömshed: Guitar/Bass/Vocals
Anton Nyström: Session Drummer

https://www.facebook.com/lightsabres
https://lightsabres.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://twitter.com/dhu_records
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Lightsabres, tracks from split with Blissfull Stream (2017)

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Earth Messiah Sign to Argonauta Records; Debut Full-Length Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Seems to me that if you’re a relatively new band looking to get attention with your first demo, calling it something like Nocturnal Thoughtgrinder might not be a bad way to go. One could argue it worked well enough for Swedish three-piece Earth Messiah, who’ve signed to ever-expanding Italian imprint Argonauta Records for the release of their soon-to-be-recorded-and-much-more-generically-named debut album, Ouroboros. You can stream the current two-tracker now at the bottom of this post, and to my ears it brings to mind some of the burl of pre-social media European heavy, what groups like Mustasch were up to around 2002-2003. It’s got its own edge, to be sure, but there’s a touch of that classic stoner rock vibe and I’ll be darned if the riff to “Always Remember” doesn’t feel right out of the Kyuss playbook. Nothing wrong with that.

The PR wire made the thing official:

earth messiah

ARGONAUT RECORDS- EARTH MESSIAH, new deal

We’re thrilled to welcome in the family Swedish Stoner Rocker trio EARTH MESSIAH.

EARTH MESSIAH born in 2017, when long time stoner fans Mathias Helgesson (Unhealth, Ex Lawgiver) and Patrik Orrmén (ex Fuzztrated, ex Rhubarb Blues Band) met up to write some tunes together. Things hit off directly, and the tracks seemed to come naturally as soon as the two played together.

With Mathias strong songwriting and the pounding drive of Patriks drums in place, the search began for more band members who shared their mutual vision. After trying out some bass players and vocalists, it was decided that Mathias vocals was more fitting for their style. In early 2018 they met up with Marcus Hedkvist (From Soil, ex Eskatologia) and it was fuzz at first sight, thus completing the power trio.

The band says: “We’re very excited to sign to the Argonauta roster! We feel like we’re in great company and that this will be a good platform to reach out with our music. We’re right now doing preproduction demos for the upcoming album “Ourobouros” – and we feel that we have a strong 8 track album which is likely to create a buzz for you listeners! Stay tuned for blues fueled stoner rock greatness!”

The two track demo “Nocturnal Thoughtgrinder was recorded in late 2017, and rendered in lots of positive feedback and interest in the band. They are currently recording the debut album “Ourobouros”. Stay tuned kids!

https://www.facebook.com/Earth-Messiah-601220990217036/
https://earthmessiah.bandcamp.com/
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Earth Messiah, Nocturnal Thoughtgrinder (2018)

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