Hazemaze Sign to Kozmik Artifactz for Self-Titled Debut; New Video Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

While no question that, as the PR wire asserts, there’s a core element of ’70s vibing in the initial impression from Hazemaze, I’m getting some pretty strong post-Fu Manchu fuzz from their new video, which if you’re so inclined you can view below. It’s for the track “Beast and Prey” from the Swedish three-piece’s impending self-titled debut, which will be out on Kozmik Artifactz later this year, and as I haven’t heard the full record yet, I guess the question is just how much interaction those two pivotal-to-heavy-rock decades will have in the band’s sound ultimately.

In any case, I give Hazemaze immediate points for spelling “volume” with a ‘y’ as they do in the quote that follows here. Something I’ve legitimately never seen before in a press release, and I don’t know if you knew this about me, but I read a lot of press releases.

To wit:

hazemaze

Kozmik Artifactz Welcome New Signing – Hazemaze

It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to Hazemaze, the newest band to join the Kozmik Family.

Hazemaze are a 70’s infused stoner-rock band hailing from the middle of Sweden, surrounded by lakes and forest. In the depth of Mälardalen, the three piece summoned the forces of fuzz and heavy riffing in the spring of 2016. A combination of early doom-rock and psychedelic elements with a modern touch is what creates the bands heavy fuzz sound.
In the fall of 2017 they went up north to the city of Falun to record their first full length album. The self-titled studio album will be released in 2018 through Kozmik Artifactz.

Speaking of the signing with Kozmik, Bass player, Stefan Carillo said:

“We are super stoked to announce that we have signed to Kozmik Artifactz for the release of our self-titled debut album!

It’s been a dream of our to release a vinyl record since we started playing together, and the Kozmik crew made it happen! Our hopes for the future is that with the help of Kozmik Artifactz we can reach a broader audience and spread the gospel of Fuzz, Volym and Riffs!”

Hazemaze are:
Vox/Guitar – Ludvig Andersson
Bass – Stefan Carrillo
Drums – Nils Einéus

https://hazemazeband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hazemazeband/
https://twitter.com/hazemazeband
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz/
https://twitter.com/kozmikartifactz
https://www.instagram.com/kozmikartifactz/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/

Hazemaze, “Beast and Prey” official video

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Vokonis Announce Third Album in the Works & March European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

vokonis (photo Jennika Photography)

Because that’s precisely the kind of jerk I am, when Vokonis guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson dropped me a line about announcing the Swedish trio’s upcoming European tour dates this March, there was just about no way I was letting him off the hook without getting an update on the doings for their next album. Call it a hunch, but I figured that given the quick turnaround between their 2016 debut, Olde One Ascending (review here), and last year’s oh-shit-it-turns-out-we’re-way-more-progressive-than-anyone-thought follow-up, The Sunken Djinn (review here) — which by my estimation stood among the very best of 2017 full-lengths — there was a decent chance some riffs were already in the hopper.

And so they are. The band — Ohlsson, bassist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larson — will enter Studio Underjord in Norrköping next month to start pre-production on their third album with plans toward recording later this year. Might be 2019 before the record gets out, but hell, at least we know it’s in progress. Ohlsson says they might even break out a new song or two on the tour. I have the feeling by the time they get through the pre-production process in February, they’ll be too stoked on the new material to not do so. Call it another hunch.

Comment from the band and tour dates follow:

vokonis euro tour

VOKONIS – European Tour March 2018

It’s going to be a lot of fun to see a lot of new places and meet new people. Hopefully will get a chance to meet some of the people that have followed our journey over the internet for these past two years.

Sharing stages with a fellow Ripple Music band is also gonna be super exciting. That goes to show how much we’ve gotten from that partnership. It’s like a whole network of musicians just unlocked at the moment of that press release.

We are set for a pre-production at Studio Underjord for a third album in February. So we’re very active with writing now. Hopefully if everything works out we enter the studio for this new album in late 2018. Can give a better update on that later on.

We’re trying to expand on the progressive parts of our sound, which has proven challenging but equally rewarding. So we’ve dabbled a lot more with clean parts. And more vocals from Jonte (bass).

Other than that I can give a cryptic hint that two already recorded songs will surface on compilations this coming spring/summer.

Vokonis European tour:
15/3 Thursday – Plan B, Malmö, SWE
16/3 Friday – KB18, Copenhagen, Denmark
17/3 Saturday – Chemiefabrik, Dresden, GE
18/3 Sunday – Café ‘T Hert, Joure, NL
19/3 Monday – MS Stubnitz, GE
21/3 Wednesday – Kinky Star, Ghent, BE *
22/3 Thursday – Kids Rhythm n Blues, Antwerpen, BE *
23/3 Friday – Comma, Bruges, BE *
24/3 Saturday – Rock Cafe, Den Helder, NL
* with Fire Down Below

VOKONIS is:
Simon Ohlsson: Vocals, Guitar
Emil Larsson: Drums
Jonte Johansson: Bass, Backing vocals

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialVokonis/
https://twitter.com/officialvokonis
https://www.instagram.com/vokonisofficial/
https://vokonis.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
www.ripple-music.com

Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn (2017)

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MaidaVale Announce New Album Madness is Too Pure Due March 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

maidavale (gianluca la bruna)

Already confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2018 later in Spring, retro-style Swedish rockers MaidaVale are set to issue their second album, Madness is Too Pure, on March 23 via The Sign Records. Their 2016 debut, Tales of the Wicked West (review here), had its heart dug into classic boogie-fied blues rocking, and it would seem that some changes are in store with the new collection that might find MaidaVale working with a more progressive approach on the whole. Should be interesting to find out how that manifests and if they’ll keep their underlying rhythmic swing or perhaps shift into more atmospheric fare in general. Intrigue, my friends! Intrigue!

If you’d like to revisit the first record, you’ll find it streaming at the bottom of this post, and I’ll hope to have more on Madness is Too Pure ahead of the release date. Till then, the PR wire offers the following:

maidavale madness is too pure

MaidaVale – Madness Is Too Pure

MaidaVale have since the release of their debut album “Tales of the Wicked West” in August 2016, toured Europe intensely. With a captivating performance and psychedelic groove they have enchanted their audiences. The live sound of MaidaVale have always leant towards the experimental scene of the ’60s and ’70s, something that have reinvented their sound on the new album. The band have worked with producer Jari Haapalainen which have led them further down the kraut and experimental path. The strong melodic and psychedelic elements from their debut is still present as the foundation on their upcoming second album. MaidaVale’s new album “Madness Is Too Pure” will be released on The Sign Records 23rd of March.

The music on ”Madness Is Too Pure” is deeply rooted in the monotone union between the rhythm section of Johanna Hansson and Linn Johannesson and the hypnotizing vocals of Matilda Roth. Adding Sofia Ströms dazzling guitar playing gives depth to the musical landscape of MaidaVale. ’Madness Is Too Pure’ moves MaidaVale closer to bands such as NEU!, Amon Düül II, Public Image Ltd and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The album was produced and mixed by Jari Haapalainen who has previously worked with artists such as Ed Harcourt, Camera Obscura, Johnossi, Sahara Hotnights, True Moon and The (International) Noise Conspiracy. The album was recorded during six days in November 2017 at The End Studio outside of Lund, Sweden, engineered by Tommy Tift (Vånna Inget, True Moon).

Live gigs:
26/01 – GOTHENBURG, Sweden – Truckstop Alaska
10/02 – NORRKÖPING, Sweden – Where´s The Music

14/02 PARIS, France – Le Supersonic
15/02 CLERMONT FERRAND, France – Le Raymond Bar
16/02 BARBERAZ, France – Le Brin de Zinc
19/02 – LYON, France – Hard Rock Café
21/02 BORDEAUX, France – Le Voïd
22/02 MELLES, France – Le Café Boulevard
23/02 LORIENT, France – Le Galion
24/02 ANGERS, France – Le Joker’s Pub

European Tour in May
4/5 – BERLIN, Germany – Desertfest Berlin

Members:
Matilda Roth – Vocals
Johanna Hansson – Drums
Linn Johanesson – Bass
Sofia Ström – Guitar

http://www.maidavaleband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/maidavaleswe/
https://twitter.com/maidavaleband
https://www.instagram.com/maidavaleband/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/7rsoTsWjPBw9tyPbLXJko2
www.thesignrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/thesignrecords/
http://freighttrain.se/sv/

MaidaVale, Tales of the Wicked West (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Iron Monkey, Deadsmoke, Somnuri, Daira, Kavrila, Ivan, Clara Engel, Alastor, Deadly Vipers, Storm of Void

Posted in Reviews on January 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Day Four of the Quarterly Review! Welcome to the downswing. We’re past the halfway point and feeling continually groovy. Thus far it’s been a week of coffee and a vast musical swath that today only reaches even further out from the core notion of what may or may not make a release or a band “heavy.” Is it sound? Is it emotion? Is it concept? Fact is there’s no reason it can’t be all of those things and a ton more, so keep an open mind as you make your way through today’s batch and we’ll all come out of it better people on the other end. Alright? Alright. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Iron Monkey, 9-13

iron monkey 9-13

I’ll admit to some level of skepticism at the prospect of an Iron Monkey reunion without frontman Johnny Morrow, who died in 2002, but as founding guitarist Jim Rushby (now also vocals), bassist Steve Watson (who originally played guitar) and new drummer Brigga revive the influential UK sludge outfit with the nine songs of 9-13 on Relapse, it somehow makes sense that the band’s fuckall and irreverence would extend inward as well. That is, why should Iron Monkey find Iron Monkey an any more sacred and untouchable property than they find anything else? Ultimately, the decision will be up to the listener as to acceptance, but the furies of “OmegaMangler,” “Mortarhex,” “Doomsday Impulse Multiplier” and the nine-minute lumber-into-torrent closer “Moreland St. Hammervortex” make a pretty resounding argument that if you can’t get down with Iron Monkey as they are today, it’s going to be your loss and that, as ever, they couldn’t care less to see you stick around or see you go. So welcome back.

Iron Monkey on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records on Bandcamp

 

Deadsmoke, Mountain Legacy

deadsmoke mountain legacy

Mountain Legacy, which is the second Deadsmoke album for Heavy Psych Sounds, might be the heaviest release the label has put out to-date. For the band, it marks the arrival of keyboardist Claudio Rocchetti to the former trio, and from the lumbering space of aptly-titled post-intro opener “Endless Cave” to the later creeping lurch of “Wolfcurse,” it’s an outing worthy of comparison to the earlier work of Italian countrymen Ufomammut, but still rooted in the gritty, post-Sleep plod the band elicited on their 2016 self-titled debut (review here). The central difference seems to be an increase in atmospheric focus, which does well to enrich the listening experience overall, be it in the creepy penultimate interlude “Forest of the Damned” or side A finale “Emperor of Shame.” Whether this progression was driven by Rocchetti’s inclusion in the band or the other way around, it’s a marked showing of growth on a quick turnaround from Deadsmoke and shows them as having a much broader creative reach than expected. All the better because it’s still so devastatingly weighted.

Deadsmoke on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Somnuri, Somnuri

somnuri somnuri

To call Somnuri a formidable trio is underselling it. The Brooklynite three-piece is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell (Blackout, ex-Bezoar, etc.), bassist Drew Mack (ex-Hull) and drummer Phil SanGiacomo (Family), and the noise they make on their Magnetic Eye-released self-titled debut is as progressive as it is intense. Recorded by Jeff Berner and mixed my SanGiacomo, cuts like “Kaizen” and “Same Skies” land with a doomed heft but move with the singular fury of the Northeastern US, and even as eight-minute closer “Through the Dead” balances more rock-minded impulses and seems to touch on a Soundgarden influence, it answers for the ultra-aggro tumult of “Pulling Teeth” just before. A flash of ambience in the drone interlude “Opaque” follows the plodding highlight “Slow Burn,” which speaks to yet another side of Somnuri’s potential – to create spaces as much as to crush them. With an interplay of cleaner vocals, screams, growls and shouts, there’s enough variety to throw off expectation, and where so much of New York’s noise-metal history is about angry single-mindedness, Somnuri’s Somnuri shows even in a vicious moment like “Inhabitant” that there’s more ground to cover than just being really, really, really pissed off.

Somnuri on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records website

 

Daira, Vipreet Buddhi

daira vipreet buddhi

Time to get weird. No. Really weird. In the end, I’m not sure Mumbai semi-improvisationalist troupe Daira did themselves any favors by making their sophomore LP, Vipreet Buddhi, a single 93-minute/16-track outing instead of breaking it into the two halves over which its course is presented – the first being eight distinct songs, the second a flowing single jam broken up over multiple parts – but one way or another, it’s an album that genuinely presents a vibe of its own, taking cues from heavy psych, jazz, funk, classic prog, folk and more as it plays through its bizarre and ambient flow, toying with jarring stretches along the way like the eerie “Apna Ullu Seedha” but so dug in by the time it’s jammed its way into “Dekho Laal Gaya” that it seems like there’s no getting out. It’s an overwhelming and unmanageable offering, but whoever said the avant garde wasn’t supposed to be a challenge? Certainly not Daira, and they clearly have plenty to say. Whatever else you listen to today, I can safely guarantee it won’t sound like this. And that’s probably true of every day.

Daira on Thee Facebooks

Daira on Bandcamp

 

Kavrila, Blight

kavrila blight

Chest-compressing groove and drive will no doubt earn Hamburg four-piece Kavrila’s second album, Blight (on Backbite Records), some comparisons to Mantar, but to dig into tracks like “Gold” and “Each (Part Two)” is to find a surprising measure of atmospheric focus, and even a rage-roller like “Abandon” has a depth to its mix. Though it’s just 24 minutes long, I’d still consider Blight a full-length for the two-sided flow it sets up leading to the aforementioned “Gold” and “Each (Part Two),” both being the longest cut on their respective half of the record in addition to splitting the tracklisting, as well as for the grinding aspects of songs like “Apocalypse,” “Demolish” and “Golem” on side B, the latter of which takes the rhythmic churn of Godflesh to a point of extremity that even the earlier thrust of “Lungs” did little to foretell. There’s a balance of sludge and hardcore elements, to be sure, but it’s the anger that ultimately defines Blight, however coherent it might be (and is) in its violent intent.

Kavrila on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records webstore

 

Ivan, Strewn Across Stars

ivan strewn across stars

Employing the session violin services of Jess Randall, the Melbourne-based two-piece of Brodric Wellington (drums/vocals) and Joseph Pap (guitar, bass, keys) – collectively known as Ivan – would seem to be drawing a specific line in the direction of My Dying Bride with their take on death-doom, but the emotionalist influence goes deeper than that on Strewn Across Stars, their second LP. Shades of Skepticism show themselves in opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmic Fear,” which demonstrates a raw production ready for the limited-cassette obscurism the band conjured for their 2016 debut, Aeons Collapse, but nonetheless fleshed out melodically in the guitar and already-noted, deeply prevalent string arrangement. The subsequent “Ethereal” (12:41), “Hidden Dimensions” (12:25) and “Outro” (8:18) dig even further into plodding shattered-self woefulness, with “Hidden Dimensions” providing a brief moment of tempo release before the violin and keys take complete hold in “Outro” to give listeners one last chance to bask in resonant melancholia. A genre-piece, to be sure, but able to stand on its own in terms of personality and patience alike.

Ivan on Thee Facebooks

Ivan on Bandcamp

 

Clara Engel, Songs for Leonora Carrington

clara-engel-songs-for-leona-carrington

Toronto singer-songwriter Clara Engel pays ambient folk homage to the Mexican surrealist painter/author with the five-tracks of Songs for Leonara Carrington, fleshing out creative and depth-filled arrangements that nonetheless hold fast to the intimate human core beneath. Engel’s voice is of singular character in its melding of gruff fragility, and whether it’s the psychedelic hypnosis of opener and longest track (immediate points) “Birdheaded Queen” or the seemingly minimalist drift of the penultimate “The Ancestor,” her confident melodies float atop gorgeous and sad instrumental progressions that cast an atmosphere of vast reaches. Even the more percussively active centerpiece “Microgods of all the Subatomic Worlds” feels informed by the gradual wash of guitar melody that takes hold on the prior “Sanctuary for Furies,” and as Engel brings in guest contributors for drums, bass, guitar, theremin and choir vocals alongside her own guitar, pump organ, flute and singing, there seems to be little out of her reach or scope. It is a joy to get lost within it.

Clara Engel on Thee Facebooks

Wist Records website

 

Alastor, Blood on Satan’s Claw

alastor-blood-on-satans-claw

I don’t know whether the title-cut of Blood on Satan’s Claw, the new two-songer EP from dirge-doomers Alastor, is leftover from the same sessions that bore their 2017 debut album for Twin Earth Records, Black Magic (review here), but as it’s keeping company with a near-11-minute take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” the four-piece’s return is welcome either way. Unsurprisingly, not much has changed in their approach in the mere months since the full-length was issued, but that doesn’t mean the swing of “Blood on Satan’s Claw,” the central riff of which owes as much to Windhand as to Sleep as to C.O.C.‘s “Albatross” as to Sabbath, isn’t worth digging into all the same, and with psychedelic vocals reminiscent of newer Monolord and flourish of creeper-style organ, its doom resounds on multiple levels leading into the aforementioned cover, which drawls out the classic original arrangement with a wilfully wretched tack that well earns a nod and raised claw. Alastor remain backpatch-ready, seemingly just waiting for listeners to catch on. If these tracks are any indication, they’ll get there.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Alastor on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Vipers, Fueltronaut

deadly-vipers-fueltronaut

Give it a couple minutes to get going and Fueltronaut, the debut full-length from French four-piece Deadly Vipers, is more than happy to serve up energetic post-Kyuss desert rock loyalism that’s true to form in both spirit and production. Shades of earliest Dozer and the wider pre-social media older-school Euro heavy underground show themselves quickly in “Universe,” but in the later mid-paced reach of “Stalker,” there’s more modern bluesy vibing and as the mega-fuzzed “Meteor Valley,” the driving jam of “Supernova,” and the let’s-push-the-vocals-really-high-in-the-mix-for-some-reason “Dead Summer” shove the listener onward with righteous momentum toward pre-outro closer “River of Souls,” each track getting longer as it goes, the melody that emerges there indeed feels like a moment of arrival. My only real complaint? The intro “Fuel Prophecy” and (hidden) outro, “Watch the Road End.” Especially with the immediacy that strikes when “Universe” kicks in and the resonant finish of “River of Souls” at its six-minute mark, having anything before the one and after the other seems superfluous. A minor quibble on an impressive debut (one could also ramble about cartoon tits on the cover, but what’s the point?) and showcase of potential from an exciting newcomer outfit clearly assured of the style for which they’re aiming.

Deadly Vipers on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Vipers on Bandcamp

 

Storm of Void, War Inside You

storm-of-void-war-inside-you

Tokyo duo Storm of Void make their full-length debut with the nine-track/48-minute War Inside You, a full-length that might first snag attention owing to guest vocal spots from Napalm Death’s Mark “Barney” Greenway and Jawbox’s J. Robbins, but has no trouble holding that same attention with its progressive instrumental turns and taut execution. Released by Hostess Entertainment, it’s instrumental in bulk, with eight-string guitarist George Bodman (Bluebeard) and drummer Dairoku Seki (envy) coming together to deliver brisk and aggressive prog metal centered around chugging riffs and a tension that seems to take hold in “Into the Circle” and let up only for the momentary “Interlude” in the midsection before closer “Ghosts of Mt. Sleepwalker” finally allows for some exhalation. As for the guest spots, they’re nothing to complain about, and they break up the proceedings nicely placed as they are, but if Storm of Void are going to hook you, it’s going to be on their own merits, which are plentiful.

Storm of Void on Thee Facebooks

Hostess Entertainment website

 

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Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus Rebrand as JIRM; Surge ex Monumentis Due in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

jirm

As much as I’d like to think it was some interference from the actor himself that caused Swedish heavy rockers Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus to change their moniker — both because of his abhorrent views on homosexuality and because he’s the most easily forgotten villain in the Die Hard franchise — that probably wasn’t the case. To be fair, it was a pretty cumbersome name, and JIRM gets the job done anyhow.

Four records deep might seem like an odd time for a group to rebrand, but the Stockholm four-piece actually have a significant sonic shift in store with the forthcoming Surge ex Monumentis as well, trading off boogie vibes for more progressive fare that’s decidedly metallic in its foundation. Enough so, in fact, to make me wonder if the similarity between the figure on the Mattias Halldin cover art and Dio‘s classic mascot, Murray, isn’t a coincidence.

If it isn’t, I just don’t want to be the last in line to know.

Sorry.

Just. Sorry.

I couldn’t help it.

Here’s news from the PR wire:

JIRM SURGE EX MONUMENTIS

JIRM: Swedish Heavy Rockers Formerly Known As Jeremy Irons And The Ratgang Malibus To Release Surge Ex Monumentis Via Small Stone This March; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Sometimes in life you have to make a change. And sometimes you have to make a whole bunch of changes. So it is that JIRM is born and stands where once stood Jeremy Irons And The Ratgang Malibus. Having dropped the cumbersome moniker, the Swedish heavy rockers embark on a new era with Surge Ex Monumentis – marked as much by a tightening of sound as name.

For their first record as JIRM, the Stockholm-based four-piece of vocalist/guitarist Karl Apelmo, guitarist Micke Pettersson, bassist Viktor Källgren, and drummer Henke Persson cast off the shackles of expectation entirely. Their style is no less expansive, but it’s become entirely their own, a driving mind meld between psychedelia, classic metal, heavy rock, and individualized realms beyond. Surge Ex Monumentis brims with newfound energy at the same time it benefits from the lessons JIRM have learned since first getting together in 2004 and releasing albums like Elefanta (2009), Bloom (2011), and Spirit Knife (2014).

With as much progressive force as raw sweat behind them, JIRM has never been more themselves than they are on Surge Ex Monumentis, and even as they redefine who they are and what they do as a band, they remain singularly powerful in their delivery and completely unmistakable. The seven-track offering was captured at Puch Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, mixed by Oskar Lindberg at Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg, Sweden and mastered by Chris Gooseman at Baseline Audio Labs in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Surge Ex Monumentis will see release on CD, digital, and limited edition 2xLP formats via Small Stone on March 16th. Preorders are currently available at THIS LOCATION where you can also stream opening psalm, “Candle Eyes.”

Surge Ex Monumentis Track Listing:
1. Candle Eyes
2. Dig
3. Isle Of Solitude
4. The Cultist
5. Nature Of The Damned
6. Giza
7. Tombs Arise

http://www.facebook.com/JeremyIronsandtheRatgangMalibus
https://www.instagram.com/jirm_band/
http://www.jirm.se/
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com/

JIRM, Surge ex Monumentis (2018)

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Firebreather to Tour Scandinavia with Monolord Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

firebreather

Gothenburg-based outfits Monolord and Firebreather will team up for a tour of Scandinavia next month. The run, limited to Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, starts on Feb. 8 with a weekender and picks up on Feb. 15 in Copenhagen for another week of shows with a couple days off in the middle. I’m not sure if those dates will fill in or not, but it’s a cool regional run anyhow and I don’t know about you, but going on tour in Scandinavia sounds pretty fucking rad to me. I’d go. That’s all I’m saying. I’d go.

Firebreather made a galloping debut last year with their self-titled LP (review here) on Suicide Records, while Monolord offered thrills both riffy and expansive in their third full-length for RidingEasy, Rust (review here). Somewhat different vibes between these two, but if you’re looking for common ground beyond their hometown, I think they’d both certainly qualify as “very, very heavy,” and that’s always a good place to start.

Dates follow:

firebreather monolord tour

Scandinavia! We’re starting 2018 in style and will support Monolord on the following dates:

8/2 Porsgrunn, NO: Rockeklubben I Porsgrunn
9/2 Oslo, NO: Revolver
10/2 Sandnes, NO: Tribute
15/2 Copenhagen, DK: Musik Loppen
16/2 Malmö, SE: Plan B – malmö
17/2 Gothenburg, SE: Truckstop Alaska
20/2 Stockholm, SE: Slaktkyrkan
22/2 Tampere, FI: Klubi / Tampere
23/2 Vaasa, FI: Leipätehdas / DOM Munkhaus
24/2 Helsinki, FI: Kuudes Linja

Firebreather emerged from the ashes of doom-metal heavy-weights Galvano when riff extraordinaire and Orange Ambassador Mattias Nööjd decided to start a new band after Galvano being put to rest.

Forming in the spring of 2016 FIREBREATHER have quickly gained attention and notoriety for their distinct heavy sound and songwriting. Since FIREBREATHERs’ beginnings, the band has established a growing grass-roots underground following throughout Europe after only a short tour and taking to the stage with bands such as Zaum (CAN) and finally performing their first hometown show with Boris (JPN) in the late fall of 2016.

Line-up
Mattias Nööjd – Guitar & Vocals
Tommy Hanning – Drums
Kyle Pitcher – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/firebreathergbg/
https://www.instagram.com/firebreathergbg/
https://www.facebook.com/suiciderds/
http://www.suiciderecords.se/

Firebreather, Firebreather (2017)

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Quarterly Review: Carlton Melton, Horseskull, Dreadnought, Forsaken, Moon Rats, Son of the Morning, Jesus the Snake, Bert, Galactic Gulag, Band of Spice

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Today begins the Quarterly Review. You know the deal by now. 50 records written up between today and this Friday, 10 per day. As always, it’s a huge swath of stuff, and by the end of it I’m usually ready to collapse in a heap, but I’ve yet to regret it afterwards, so we press on. I hope you find something you dig in all this. I say that every time, but it’s still true.

Speaking of digging, how about that new logo up there? Thanks goes out to the Lord of the Logos himself, Christophe Szpajdel, who took on the project. This is the second one he’s done for the site, and aside from being in a completely different style from the last — I like covering a good amount of ground, even in logos — I think it fits pretty well with a variety of aesthetics. Could be doom, could be heavy rock, psych, stoner garage, whatever. Anyway, I’m into it. Hope you are too.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Carlton Melton, Mind Minerals

carlton melton mind minerals

It might be decades before the dimension we live in has caught up to the plane from which Northern California’s Carlton Melton emanate their resonant transmissions of space-psych, but somehow time doesn’t seem to matter anyway when actually listening. To wit, Mind Minerals, the trio’s first LP since 2015’s Out to Sea, is an 11-track/76-minute whopper – unmanageable by any standard – but once it’s on, all you want to do is roll with it and by the time post-aptly-named intro “Untimely” has begat “Electrified Sky” has begat the droning “The Lighthouse” has begat the fuzzy swirl of “Eternal Return” has begat the 10-minute rumble-and-synth soundtracking of “Snow Moon,” etc., there’s neither escape nor the desire for it. Does it need to be a 2LP? Nope, but nothing needs to be anything, man. In the subdued boogie of “Basket Full of Trumpets,” the is-it-backwards slow freakout of “Sea Legs,” the experimental guitar ambience of “Way Back When,” headphone-ready minimalism of “Climbing the Ladder,” the shaker’s tension that sustains the otherwise wispy “Atmospheric River,” and the final fuzzy resurgence of “Psychoticedelicosis,” Carlton Melton thoroughly reaffirm their residency in the far, far out. Not that anyone was questioning their paperwork or anything.

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Agitated Records website

 

Horseskull, Chemical Winter Blues

horseskull chemical winter blues

With fluid shifts between Ripple-style straightforward heavy rock, rolling Sabbathian lumber and even some harsher sludge elements, the seven-minute “Black Dawn, Bright Day” sets a varied tone for Chemical Winter Blues, the second LP from North Carolina’s Horseskull. I’m not sure I’d declare any one side or the other the winner in the fight between them by the time the death ‘n’ roll of “Luckless Bastards” gives way to closer “Lost all I Had, then Lost Again” – itself a 17-minute noise-nodder triumph of, well, loss – but the trip through “Hypocrites and Pigs” and 10-minute centerpiece “The Black Flame of Cain” is unpredictable and fun to make in kind. Guitarist/vocalist Anthony Staton reminds a bit of Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi in his cleaner delivery, which only adds to the album’s declarative feel, and the overarching groove surrounding from guitarist Michael Avery, bassist Robert Hewlett and drummer Steve Smith only reinforces the developing individualism.

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Horseskull on Bandcamp

 

Dreadnought, A Wake in Sacred Waves

dreadnought-a-wake-in-sacred-waves

There is very little beyond the reach of Denver four-piece Dreadnought. Their third album, A Wake in Sacred Waves (Sailor Records), blends open, psychedelic jazz, progressive black metal, folk and more into a sometimes-thrashing/sometimes-sprawling meld that recalls the promise of Grayceon and the poise of Opeth while at the same time casting its own impression in melody, arrangement, variety and scope. Opening with the 17-minute longest cut (immediate points) “Vacant Sea,” it brilliantly ties its elements together to present a story arc following in elemental theme from Dreadnought’s first two offerings in centering around the rise and fall of a water-born apex predator, the narrative of which plays out across its four intense, extended and resoundingly complex inclusions, which alternate between beautiful and terrifying in a way that leaves the line utterly blurred and irrelevant. Why this band isn’t on Profound Lore or Neurot, I have no idea, but either way, A Wake in Sacred Waves is a conceptual and manifest triumph not to be missed.

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Sailor Records website

 

Forsaken, Pentateuch

forsaken-pentateuch

A spirit of classic doom metal abounds on Forsaken’s fifth long-player, Pentateuch (Mighty Music), which is the long-running Malta-based outfit’s first offering since 2009’s After the Fall, but though righteous fist-pumpers like “Primal Wound” and “Decalogue” carry an epic and unflinchingly progressive underpinning in their layered vocal melodies, a harsh snare sound and awkwardly punching bass stifle complete immersion. It’s less an issue in a cut like “Saboath (The Law Giver),” which has a full swing surrounding, but it makes post-intro opener “Serpent Bride” sound like a demo (unless it’s my digital promo?) in a way that sets an unfortunate tone in contrasting the obvious class and high-level execution of Pentateuch as a whole. It should be noted that even a rough production can’t hold “The Dove and the Raven” back from making its Candlemassian intent clear, but a record of such overall high standard should feel as crisp as possible, and particularly for being so many years in arriving, Forsaken’s latest seems to want more in that regard, despite the quality of the material that comprises it.

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Mighty Music website

 

Moon Rats, Highway Lord

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I’ve already counted Highway Lord among my favorite debuts of 2017, but consider it’s worth taking a moment to underline the point of the heavy psych and stoner-fuzz wash that Moon Rats so vigilantly emit on cuts like the opening salvo of “Become the Smoke,” “The Dark Takes Hold” and “Heroic Dose,” balancing languid vibe and sonic heft atop gorgeously natural songcraft. Among the short-feeling 29 minutes and seven inclusions, with the title-track at the center shifting into “Overdose,” the deeply atmospheric “The Hunter” the and melodically spacious “Motor Sword” at the finish, there isn’t a weak spot to be found, and whether it’s the added dynamic of a key arrangement in the closer or the landmark feel of the hook to “Heroic Dose,” the Milwaukee five-piece tap into the there’s-no-rush-we’ll-all-get-there sonic sentiment that once made Quest for Fire so entrancing, while engaging subtle flourish of presentation that promises creative development to come. Bring it on. Please. The sooner the better.

Moon Rats on Thee Facebooks

Gloss Records website

 

Son of the Morning, Son of the Morning EP

son-of-the-morning-son-of-the-morning-ep

Newcomer four-piece Son of the Morning, with the crisply-realized three tracks of their self-titled debut EP, would seem right away to be trying to stake their claim on a piece of the Midwest’s doom legacy. Coiling between heavy rock swing and classic doom tonality, each cut, from “Left Hand Path,” which rounds out after its welcoming hook with a sample of what sounds like somebody hanging in the breeze, through the post-Uncle Acid riffing of “Release,” and the more ethereal, organ-laced psych of “House of Our Enemy,” offers its own take in a clearheaded and efficient five minutes, getting in, leaving its mark and getting out to make room for the next piece in this initial sampling. Potential abounds from vocalist/organist Lady Helena, bassist Lee Allen, guitarist Levi Mendes and drummer H.W. Applewhite, and the core question is how they might tie these elements together across a first full-length. It should be noted they sound more than ready to embark on that project and provide an answer.

Son of the Morning on Thee Facebooks

Son of the Morning on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Jesus the Snake EP

 jesus-the-snake-jesus-the-snake

A 31-minute debut EP clearly meant to be heard in its entirety, Jesus the Snake’s self-titled treads some familiar ground in progressive heavy psychedelic instrumentalism throughout its four tracks – “Floyds I,” “Floyds II,” “Karma” and “Moment” – but with an inherent sense of mood and reach not unlike earliest My Sleeping Karma, its tonal warmth and emergent weight of groove find welcome all the same. Particularly for being the Portuguese outfit’s first public unveiling, the interplay of Joka Alves’ keys and Jorge Lopes’ guitar is immediately fluid, and as the bass of Rui Silva provides foundation to let drummer João Costa explore jazzy snare textures and stylistic nuance. It’s a beginning, and it sounds like a beginning, but Jesus the Snake also offers a richness and patience that many bands simply don’t have their first time out, and for that and the classic stoner fuzz of “Moment” alone, it’s easily worth the time and effort of thorough investigation.

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Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

BerT, The Lost Toes

bert-the-lost-toes

Officially defunct for some time now, Michigan’s BerT compile tracks from throughout their prolific and bizarre run in The Lost Toes (Madlantis Records), proffering a timeline of their post-Melvins avant weirdness that starts with their very first song, “Stuff,” and makes its way through various demos, lost tracks, noise experiments, etc., to the 11-minute drone-out “Return” at the finish line. The digital version on Bandcamp offers an origin story with each track – the 90-second noise rock blast “Human Bone Xylophone” was cut from 2012’s Return to the Electric Church for time concerns, and the subsequent “Commercial Break” (which, yes, is a commercial break) was a class project – but whether you engage the narrative or not, the enduring vibe remains strange and charming in its garage-fuckall, could-and-just-might-go-anywhere-at-any-moment kind of way. BerT were always good fun, and The Lost Toes serves as reminder of the personality they had together that was so very much their own.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

The Lost Toes at Madlantis Records website

 

Galactic Gulag, To the Stars by Hard Ways

galactic gulag to the stars by hard ways

Brazilian instrumental troupe Galactic Gulag traffic in cosmic heft across the five pieces that comprise their first full-length, To the Stars by Hard Ways, but there’s ultimately little about the album that seems to be the hard way. If anything, it’s easy: Easy to groove on, easy to let it unfold over you in a spacious psychedelic drift, easy to nod along as the bassline of “Escape from Planet Gulag” picks up from 12-minute opener “Home.” Easy even to get lost in the sax-laden swirl-bounce off-kilterism of “The Hollow Moon.” So yeah, guitarists Breno Xavier and Pablo Dias, bassist Gabriel Dunke and drummer César Silva might be overselling a sense of difficulty, but as “Space Time Singularity” rolls into the shreddy-style fuzz of 15-minute closer “Eta Orionis,” there are clearly more important issues at hand. Like space. And riffs. And tone. And everything else that’s working so well for the Natal-based foursome on this jam-laden debut.

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Galactic Gulag on Bandcamp

 

Band of Spice, Shadows Remain

band of spice shadows remain

Former Spiritual Beggars and The Mushroom River Band vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand has been fronting the namesake act Band of Spice – formerly Spice and the RJ Band — for over a decade now, and Shadows Remain (Scarlet Records) follows 2015’s Economic Dancers (review here) as their fifth overall full-length. After the suitably-drunk-sounding vocals-only intro “Only One Drink,” the album rides the line between classically metallic tones and heavy rock riffing, a cut like “Don’t Bring Me Flowers” having little time in its 2:46 for brooking nonsense of any sort while later pieces like “Apartment 8” and “The Savior and the Clown” find time for more brooding and sentimental fare, and the penultimate “Take Me Home” and closer “Apartment 8 (Part II)” offer acoustic-strummed departure, so while the 51-minute runtime gives the 13-tracker something of a CD-era throwback feel and the songwriting the resolute in its straightforwardness, neither is Shadows Remain completely single-minded in its approach. A touch of grunge-funk in “Sheaf” goes a long way as well in lightening the mood, making the whole presentation all the more pro-shop, as it should be.

Band of Spice on Thee Facebooks

Scarlet Records on Bandcamp

 

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Besvärjelsen Premiere “Return to No Return” Video; Vallmo out in February

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

besvarjelsen

Swedish five-piece Besvärjelsen make their full-length debut in Feb. 2018 with Vallmo on Suicide Records, and it’s an album that weaves its brooding self between heavy rock and doom as fluidly as its lyrics do between English and Swedish. The full-length follows two shorter releases in 2016’s Exil and 2015’s Villfarelser, and while both to some degree offered a look at the band’s stylistic swath — to wit, Exil had two tracks, one more upbeat and one moodier — the blend has become richer and as the first audio to be made public from the record, the new video for “Return to No Return” showcases the fullness of approach that has resulted.

Noteworthy immediately for the rhythm section of former Dozer/Greenleaf membersbesvarjelsen valmo Johan Rockner (bass) and Erik Bäckwall (drums), Besvärjelsen makes their impression no less with melody than with groove on “Return to No Return” and other album cuts like “Mara” and the folkish “Under en Svart Himmel,” vocalist Lea Amling establishing a strong presence backed by guitarists Staffan Winroth and Andreas Baier for a choral effect that, regardless of language, seems to beg for singing along when it comes to the also-plentiful hooks throughout the record. Soul abounds, and with just an undercurrent of danger in its execution, “Return to No Return” captures an important aspect of what ties together the disparate styles Besvärjelsen touch on throughout the LP. The atmosphere here is not to be overlooked.

When it comes to the video itself, I suppose it would be hard ultimately to overlook the atmosphere, since that’s so much of what’s going on. We see Amling in a murky forest, delivering lines to the camera. The rest of the band? Not so much. There are some flashing lights near the finish, so if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, heads up, but otherwise, it’s worth letting the track sink in and make its statement, which it does clearly and in righteous form.

I’ll hope to have more to come on Vallmo before the release, but for now, please enjoy:

Besvärjelsen, “Return to No Return” official video premiere

In 2014, from the ashes of bands like Afgrund, Dozer, Lastkaj and Greenleaf, Besvärjelsen was formed. By mixing influences from progressive metal, doom, punk, folk and rock n roll the band has created a sound unlike no other band at the moment. The band released their first EP ”Villfarelser” in 2015. The follow up EP ”Exil” was released in 2016. Both EPs were well recieved in Swedish media and the band got many songs played on Swedish national radio.

The band spent 2017 writing songs and recording what was to become their first full length album. The result, ”Vallmo”, is an album that shows many different sides of the band. From heavy doom riffs to catchy lyrics and melodies and, of course, beautiful guitar solos. The songs have previously only been in Swedish, but with ”Vallmo” Besvärjelsen is debuting songs in english as well.

Besvärjelsen is
Andreas Baier – guitar and vocals
Staffan Winroth – guitar and vocals
Lea Amling – vocals
Erik Bäckwall – drums
Johan Rockner – bass

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Besvärjelsen on Twitter

Besvärjelsen on Bandcamp

Besvärjelsen website

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Suicide Records on Bandcamp

Suicide Records website

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