Greenleaf, Agents of Ahriman: Climbing Alishan Mountain

Posted in Reviews on July 31st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

greenleaf agents of ahriman cover and lp

The story of Swedish heavy rockers is one of perpetual evolution. There is no point in the outfit’s 16-year history at which they were doing the same thing twice. From their 2000 self-titled debut EP on Molten Universe (someday it will be mine), through the subsequent 2001 debut full-length, Revolution Rock (discussed here), the beginnings of their association with Small Stone Records on 2003’s Secret Alphabets, the grand productions of 2007’s Agents of Ahriman and 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here) and the sustainable touring presence they became with 2014’s Trails and Passes, which recently led to their signing with Napalm Records for the release of their next album — currently in production — they’ve never been quite in the same place as a band. And for the most part, they haven’t had the same lineup either.

Begun as a side-project of Dozer by guitarist Tommi Holappa and Bengt Bäcke, who produced some of Dozer‘s earliest work and has played bass in Greenleaf through their entire tenure, Greenleaf has evolved from a studio outfit putting out occasional records in Dozer‘s downtime to Holappa‘s main focus — a considerable swap in position. When they released Agents of Ahriman, that transition was still a ways off, but the roots were being dug. Bäcke and Holappa were joined on drums by former Dozer drummer Erik Bäckwell and vocalist Oskar Cedermalm, who was at that time only beginning to make an impression with his own band, Truckfighters. Former Lowrider vocalist Peder Bergstrand (who was also the first singer in Greenleaf) and John Hermansen, who was then in the transition between The Awesome Machine and Mother Misery, also make notable guest appearances on vocals.

I do not at all mind telling you that Agents of Ahriman stands among my favorite heavy rock records — period. Of any era. Certainly it was one of the finest outings of the aughts, and I consider it a flawless execution of songwriting and performance. Not one second of its nine tracks/37 minutes is superfluous. Led by Holappa, Greenleaf bring a character to the modus of classic heavy rock that few have been able to parallel, let alone match, both presaging and out-boogieing the retro rock movement while still sounding modern in Bäcke‘s production, melodically complex in Cedermalm‘s arrangements, varied through the guest appearances — not at all limited to vocals; Jocke Åhslund‘s Hammond featuring on “Black Tar,” “Alishan Mountain,” “The Lake” and “Ride Another Highway,” while John Hoyles (now of Troubled Horse) adds a guitar solo to opener “Highway Officer” and Linus Arnberg brings cowbell stomp to swing-happy closer “Stray Bullit Woman” — and outright unstoppable in its righteousness of groove. Front to back, it is the kind of record one could use as a textbook to teach children about the joys of rock and roll.

And if this sounds like hyperbole, it is earned in the hyper-memorable choruses of “Alishan Mountain” and “Ride Another Highway” — Hermansen‘s one-man call and response rivaling Cedermalm‘s own — and in the spaciousness of the six-minute “Sleep Paralysis,” which in its last moments finally seems to be driving toward a payoff of its track-long tension, only to cut out at the moment of impact, breaking the rule under which it seemed to be playing, in Bergstrand doing his best Mark Lanegan on the attitude-soaked “Black Tar,” and in the riffs of “Highway Officer,” “Treehorn” and particularly organ-ic “The Lake,” which was the centerpiece of the CD and on the vinyl is the beginning point for a five-track side B that only gets richer as it pushes — and, in the case of “Ride Another Highway,” propels — toward “Stray Bullit Woman” as the closing statement. A more swaggering performance from Cedermalm there never has been, and the progression over which it comes is worthy of being called Mountain-esque — not a comparison to be made lightly.

There is one last guest appearance before Agents of Ahriman is finished, and it’s Emil Leo, who after emerging from a swirl of effects asks the simple question “And now what?” Eight years after the album’s initial release — worth noting this is the first time it’s out on vinyl — we know to some extent. Dozer would issue their final (to-date; one can always hope) full-length in the form of 2008’s Beyond Colossal, and after a few years of inactivity, Greenleaf would be resurrected again, this time with Dozer‘s Johan Rockner on guitar and Olle Mårthans on drums for Nest of VipersDozer bassist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin also made a guest appearance, along with Bergstrand and keymaster Per Wiberg — and began a touring cycle. That would be the end of Cedermalm‘s run with the band, Truckfighters taking priority as a worldwide touring entity and an outfit of increasing profile, and vocalist Arvid Jonsson took up the difficult mantle ably on Trails and PassesSebastian Olsson also stepping into the drummer role.

Greenleaf remains in seemingly permanent flux, and what their next record might bring when it arrives I wouldn’t speculate to say other than to note the reliable quality of Holappa‘s songcraft, which in partnership with Bäcke‘s production, was so plainly on display with Agents of Ahriman in its whole-album, all-killer impact. The LP version is a somewhat different experience, the sides not quite breaking evenly with the second longer than the first, but whether you’ve experienced what I consider Greenleaf‘s finest hour yet — Nest of Vipers was a grander affair and showed progression, but these songs are tattooed on my brain — or whether you’ve never heard the thing, it still proves itself to be an utterly essential listen for anyone and everyone who wants to know what heavy rock sounds like at its most right. You can say I’m overstating it if you want. You’re wrong. It’s already stood up to eight years, and listening to the vinyl, I hear no reason Agents of Ahriman won’t continue to endure into perpetuity. Recommended.

Greenleaf, Agents of Ahriman (2007/2015)

Greenleaf on Thee Facebooks

Agents of Ahriman on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

Tags: , , , , ,

Horisont Announce New Album Odyssey Due Sept. 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

horisont-Photo-by-Anders-Bergstedt

Preceded by the 2014 single “Break the Limit,” the video for which you can see below, the fourth full-length from Swedish trad heavy rockers Horisont is titled Odyssey and it will be out on Sept. 18 via Rise Above Records. That single will also be on the album, the details and righteous artwork for which have just been unveiled. It’s their first record with guitarist Tom Sutton (The Order of Israfel, ex-Church of Misery) in the lineup, so there’s an added level of intrigue there, but at this point the band are pretty reliable for an exciting meld of classic rock and metal, so if Odyssey is business as usual for them, that’s just fine.

One thing I found particularly interesting in the PR wire info below is when drummer Pontus Jordan mentions that the artwork tells the story of the album. I’d be very interested to know what that story is, given the following:

horisont odyssey

HORISONT to Release Odyssey September 18th on Rise Above Records

Artwork and Track Listing Revealed

Big of moustache and tight of trouser, HORISONT drink from the bottomless wellspring of inspiration that’s been bubbling up through the layers of time since the birth of the blues – or Blue Oyster Cult at the very least. Theirs is a sound that harks back to the dawn of the 70s, when a new clutch of heads decided it was time to harsh the 60s hippies’ mellow and paint it black; those years when the twin spirit of hard rock and prog rose to redefine sound.

This quintet’s rock trip might be retro but their songwriting is timeless; a good melody lives forever and HORISONT have songs in abundance. New album Odyssey is exactly as its title suggests: an epic journey into the known. A sonic trip. A mighty voyage of sound. You could even call their fourth full release a concept album – although they themselves prefer “space saga”. Either way it’s a brave band who open their album with a ten minute-long track, yet on the album’s title track HORISONT dive straight into the deep end, delivering space-rock with all the dexterity and deftness of the very best prog rock’s finest, such as early Yes or Kansas.

Odyssey was recorded in Studio Kust in Gothenburg with producer by Henrik Magnusson. It was, the band explain their most harmonious creative period ever.”No HORISONT recording session has ever been this good,” admits Delborg. “We had worked with Henrik on our ‘Break The Limit’ single and knew that he was our guy. All the basics where recorded live in just a couple of days. Then we spent a lot of time on the intricate details.”

The artwork for Odyssey harks back to both classic sci-fi paperbacks and prime prog rock albums of the 70s. “We wanted a slightly disturbed, Asimov-esque science fiction cover that told the story of Odyssey,” says drummer Pontus Jordan. “Tom knew this guy who was really in to old science fiction stuff and he had done the cover for The Order Of Israfel. So we meet the guy and it was the one and only Henrik Jacobsen. And he really nailed it.”

Formed in 2006, HORISONT have spent close to a decade kicking ass, taking names and establishing themselves at the forefront of the Scandinavian retro rock revival (see also Witchcraft, Graveyard etc), injecting their sound with early-Status Quo-styled boogie blues, prog complexities, NWOBHM swagger and fire-spitting choruses set to scorch the eyebrows of the first ten rows. This is music made without irony, unafraid to acknowledge an allegiance to past greats such as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Cactus, Thin Lizzy, the aforementioned Yes andJudas Priest.

Their first two albums Tva Sidor Av Horisonten(2009) and Second Assault (2012) earned HORISONT a special place in the rock underground, while Time Warriors (2013) was a no-holds barred demonstration of classic rock and metal combined with a fearlessly inventive streak, and took them to a wider international audience. And now comes Odyssey, a bold leap into more expansive and ethereal musical territory. It’s the band’s first to feature native Australian and former Church Of Misery guitarist Tom Sutton.

The new line-up change sees a definite gear-shift too. Here HORISONT play as if their lives depend upon it: duelling guitars do battle in a endlessly thrilling interplay over a rhythm section that gallops like wild horses across the frozen tundra. And cutting through the middle, Axel Söderberg’s howling heartfelt vocals delivered with a space-age sense of soulfulness.

Strap in, sit back and let the Odyssey begin….

Odyssey Track Listing:
1. Odyssey
2. Break The Limit
3. Blind Leder Blind
4. Bad News
5. Light My Way
6. The Night Stalker
7. Flying
8. Back On The Streets
9. Beyond The Sun
10. Red Light
11. StÑder Brinner
12. Timmarna

HORISONT Lineup:
Axel Söderberg – vocals
Charlie Van Loo – guitar
Tom Sutton – guitar
Magnus Delborg – bass
Pontus Jordan – drums

For More Info Visit:
http://www.horisontmusic.com/the-band/
https://www.facebook.com/horisontmusic

Horisont, “Break the Limit” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

Agusa Premiere “Ganglat Fran Vintergatan” from Agusa 2

Posted in audiObelisk on July 13th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

agusa

Veterans of Roadburn and Copenhagen Psych Fest, Swedish five-piece Agusa will release their second album, Agusa TvåAgusa 2 — on July 24 through The Laser’s Edge (CD) and their own Kommun2 (LP) imprint. In the tradition of their krautorock and psychedelic forebears, the band works quick. They formed in 2013 and have already established a quick LP-per-year pace and have played sporadic fests, in addition to the two mentioned also appearing recently at Electric Moon Fest (which doesn’t seem related to the band of the same name), Säljerydfestivalen in Ingelstad, Sweden, and Kildemose Festival in Denmark.

Listening to Agusa 2 or its 2014 predecessor, Högtid, it’s easy to understand why one might want to add them to a bill. Agusa 2 further gels the chemistry Agusa showed on their debut into two extended pieces — side A’s “Ganglat Fran Vintergatan” (20:22) and side B’s “Kung Bores Dans” (18:17) — rife with progressive complexity, agusa 2accomplished melodies of guitar, organ and flute, and quick-turning rhythms driven by a classic sense of movement that fits smoothly into Agusa‘s method. As one might expect, both cuts offer plenty of sprawl, but the band operate from a sense of purpose as well, and it’s not merely exploration for its own sake, but an expression of a naturalist instrumental ideal, and one gorgeously conjured and languid in its flow but not at all sonically lazy.

Both “Ganglat Fran Vintergatan” (“Marching Tune from the Milky Way”) and “Kung Bores Dans” (“King Winter’s Dance”) unfold gradually, with the organ as a figure no less prevalent than the guitar, and engage in a crisp but progressive bounce. There’s no mistaking a heavy sense of groove, but they’re also capable of jazzy turns when called for, adding a sense of spontaneity to the proceedings and allowing the band to shift fluidly from one movement to the next while also expanding the context of the album overall. Not bad for two tracks on their sophomore outing, and by that I mean Agusa 2 offers both proggy substance and a psychedelic aesthetic that makes their work eminently listenable.

To wit, I have the pleasure today of hosting a premiere for “Ganglat Fran Vintergatan,” which you’ll find on the player below.

Please enjoy:

The Laser’s Edge has signed Malmo, Sweden-based psychedelic/prog outfit, AGUSA, for the release of the eclectic outfit’s impending sophomore album this Summer.

With almost forty minutes of new material, AGUSA delivers a wide array of seamlessly-executed, organic rock on the aptly titled Agusa 2. The band’s tranquil output blends tripped-out psychedelic and progressive rock structures are inspired by more folk than occult influences, instilling visions of nature, the cosmos, and dreamlike passages, meandering into realms of a possibly supernatural or parallel existence. While not a fully instrumental recording, backing vocal mantras only seep in through purposeful cracks in the construction of these immense movements, adding an even more spacious feeling to the overall flow of the album.

US progressive label, The Laser’s Edge, will release Agusa 2 on CD and digital platforms on July 24th, while AGUSA will issue the album on vinyl through their own Kommun2 label. Stand by for additional info on the album to be released in the coming days.

Having just performed at this year’s Roadburn Festival, invited by curators, Enslaved, followed immediately by a set at Copenhagen Psych Fest, AGUSA will continue taking their enigmatic live set to fans across Europe with additional performances in the coming months.

AGUSA:
Tobias Petterson – bass
Mikael Ödesjö – guitar
Tim Wallander – drums
Jonas Berge – organ
Jenny Puertas – flute

Agusa on Thee Facebooks

Agusa on Bandcamp

The Laser’s Edge website

The Laser’s Edge on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Kamchatka, Legion of Andromeda, Queen Elephantine, Watchtower, Ape Skull, Hordes, Dead Shed Jokers, These Hands Conspire, Enos & Mangoo, Band of Spice

Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk summer quarterly review

We’re on the downhill swing of this edition of the Quarterly Review, so it’s time to get into some extremes, I think. Today, between death-doom lurch, drone-as-fuck exploring, gritty aggression and a whole lot more, we pretty much get there. I’m not saying it’s one end of the universe to another, but definitely a little all-over-the-place, which is just what one might need when staring down the fourth round of 10 reviews in a row in a week’s time. Feeling good though, so let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Kamchatka, Long Road Made of Gold

kamchatka long road made of gold

It would really be something if Swedish blues rockers Kamchatka released six albums over the course of the last decade and didn’t know what they were doing by now. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Long Road Made of Gold (Despotz Records), their sixth, as the Verberg three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Juneor Andersson, bassist Per Wiberg (see also: Spiritual Beggars, Candlemass, Opeth, etc.) and drummer Tobias Strandvik modernize classic heavy rock with equal comfort in including a banjo on “Take Me Back Home” and progressive-style harmonies on “Rain.” They seem to get bluesier as they go, with later cuts “Mirror,” “Slowly Drifting Away,” “Long Road” and “To You” rounding out the album with Clutch-style bounce, but the prevailing impact of Long Road Made of Gold is one of unflinching class, the chemistry of its players – not to mention Wiberg’s bass tone – ringing through loud and clear from the material as Kamchatka make their way down that long road to their inevitable next outing.

Kamchatka on Thee Facebooks

Despotz Records

Legion of Andromeda, Iron Scorn

legion of andromeda iron scorn

I said as much when the Tokyo duo released their 2013 debut EP (review here) as well, but their first long-player Iron Scorn (on At War with False Noise) only confirms it: Legion of Andromeda are fucked. Theirs is a doomed-out death metal given further inhumanity by programmed drums and the blown-out growls of vocalist -R-, while guitarist/programmer –M- holds down grime-encrusted chug and dirge riffing. Perhaps most fucked of all is the fact that Iron Scorn uses essentially the same drum progression across its seven tracks/44 minutes, varying in tempo but holding firm to the double-kick and bell-hit timekeeping for the duration. The effect this has not only ties the material together – as it would have to – but also makes the listener feel like they’ve entered into some no-light-can-escape alternate universe in which all there is is that thud, the distortion and the growls. Not a headphone record, unless you were looking to start psychotherapy anyhow, its extremity is prevalent enough to feel like a physical force holding you down.

Legion of Andromeda on Thee Facebooks

At War with False Noise

Queen Elephantine, Omen

queen elephantine omen

Relentlessly creative and geographically amorphous drone warriors Queen Elephantine compile eight tracks from eight years of their perpetual exploration for Omen on Atypeek Music, which launches with its titular cut, the oldest of the bunch, from 2007. It’s a gritty rolling groove that, even as nascent and riff-noddy as it is, still has underpinnings that might clue the listener in to what’s to come (especially in hindsight) and comes accompanied by the sludgy “The Sea Goat,” a rawer take recorded the same year in Hong Kong. Newest on Omen is the blissfully percussed “Morning Three” and an 18-minute live version of “Search for the Deathless State” from 2010’s Kailash full-length. Lineups, intent and breadth of sound vary widely, but even into the reaches of “1,000 Years” (2012, Providence, RI) and “Shamanic Procession” (2009, New York), Queen Elephantine remain unflinching in their experimentalism and the results here are likewise immersive. Vastly underrated, their work remains a world waiting to be explored.

Queen Elephantine on Thee Facebooks

Atypeek Music

Watchtower, Radiant Moon

watchtower radiant moon

Consuming undulations of tectonic riffing. Two of them, actually. Watchtower’s Radiant Moon EP serves as their debut on Magnetic Eye, and like their fellow-Melbourne-resident labelmates in Horsehunter, the four-piece Watchtower slam heavy-est riffs into the listener’s cerebral cortex with little concern for lasting aftereffects, all in worship of nod and volume itself. Where the two acts differ is in Watchtower’s overarching sense of grit, harsh vocals pervading both “Radiant Moon” (9:03) itself and the accompanying “Living Heads” (7:09), standalone vocalist Nico Guijt growing through the tonal fray wrought by guitarist Robbie Ingram and bassist Ben Robertson, Joel McGann’s drums pushing the emergent roll forward on “Living Heads,” a High on Fire-style startoff hitting the brakes on tempo to plod over any and all in its path. I’m trying to tell you it’s fucking heavy. Is that getting through? Watchtower had a live single out before Radiant Moon, but I’d be eager to hear what they come up with for a full-length, whether they might shift elsewhere at some point or revel in pure onslaught. Now taking bets.

Watchtower on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records

Ape Skull, Fly Camel Fly

ape skull fly camel fly

The use of multiple vocalists gives Roman trio Ape Skull’s ‘70s fetishism a particularly proggy air. Fly Camel Fly is their second full-length for Heavy Psych Sounds behind a 2013 self-titled, and the boogie of “My Way” and “Early Morning,” the solo-topped groove of “Fly Camel Fly,” and the raw Hendrixology of “A is for Ape” position it as a classic rocker through and through. Vocalist/drummer Giuliano Padroni, bassist/vocalist Pierpaolo Pastorelli and guitarist/vocalist Fulvio Cartacci get down to shuffling business quick and stay that way for the 39-minute duration, the Mountainous “Heavy Santa Ana Wind” missing only the complement of a sappy, over-the-top ballad to complete its vintage believability. Even without, the triumvirate stand tall, fuzzy and swinging on Fly Camel Fly, the cowbell of “Tree Stomp” calling to mind the earthy chaos of Blue Cheer without direct mimicry. A quick listen that builds and holds its momentum, but one that holds up too on subsequent visits.

Ape Skull on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds

Hordes, Hordes

hordes hordes

Mad-as-hell trio Hordes have had a slew of releases out over the last eight years or so – EPs, splits, full-lengths with extended tracks – but their experimental take on noise rock topped with Godfleshy shouts arrives satisfyingly stripped down on their latest self-titled five-track EP, recorded in 2013 and pressed newly to tape and CD (also digital). “Eyes Dulled Blind” dials back some of the pummeling after the bruises left by “Cold War Echo,” guitarist/vocalist Alex Hudson at the fore in the JK Broadrick tradition. Centerpiece “Summer” starts with a slow and peaceful ruse before shifting into brash and blown-out punk – Chris Martinez’s hi-hat forward in the mix to further the abrasion – and finally settles into a middle-ground between the two (mind you, the song is four minutes long), and bassist Jon Howard opens “Life Crusher,” which unfolds quickly into the most oppressive push here, while a churning atmosphere pervades the more echo-laden closer “Fall” to reinforce Hordes’ experimentalist claims and steady balance between tonal weight and noise-caked aggression.

Hordes on Thee Facebooks

Hordes on Bandcamp

Dead Shed Jokers, Dead Shed Jokers

dead shed jokers dead shed jokers

There’s a theatrical element underlying Welsh rockers Dead Shed Jokers’ second, self-titled full-length (on Pity My Brain Records). That’s not to say its eight songs are in some way insincere, just that the five-piece of vocalist Hywel Davies, guitarists Nicky Bryant and Kristian Evans, bassist Luke Cook and drummer Ashley Jones know there’s a show going on. Davies is in the lead throughout and proves a consummate frontman presence across opener “Dafydd’s Song,” the stomping “Memoirs of Mr. Bryant” and the swinging “Rapture Riddles,” Dead Shed Jokers’ penultimate cut before the cabaret closer “Exit Stage Left (Applause),” but the instrumental backing is up to its own task, and a clear-headed production gives the entire affair a professional sensibility. They veer into and out of heavy rock tropes fluidly, but maintain a tonal fullness wherever they might be headed, and Cook’s bass late in “Made in Vietnam” seems to carry a record’s worth of weight in just its few measures at the forefront before Davies returns for the next round of proclamations.

Dead Shed Jokers on Thee Facebooks

Dead Shed Jokers BigCartel store

These Hands Conspire, Sword of Korhan

these hands conspire sword of korhan

Berlin’s These Hands Conspire aren’t through the two-minute instrumental “Intro” before they’re showing off the heft of tone that pervades their metallized debut album, Sword of Korhan, but as they demonstrate throughout the following seven tracks and the total 45-minute runtime, there’s plenty to go around. Vocalist Felix delivers an especially noteworthy performance over the dual-guitars of Tom and Stefan, the bass of Paul and Sascha’s drums, but heavy metal storytelling – the sci-fi narrative seems to be a battle in space – is just as much a part of the record’s progressive flow, longer cuts like “Praise to Nova Rider,” “The Beast Cometh,” which directly follows, and “Ambush at Antarox IV” feeding one into the next sonically and thematically. The penultimate title-track brings swinging apex to an ambitious first outing, but the foreboding, winding guitar echoes of “Outro” hint at more of the tale to be told. Could be that Sword of Korhan is just the beginning of a much longer engagement.

These Hands Conspire on Thee Facebooks

These Hands Conspire on Bandcamp

Enos & Mangoo, Split

enos mangoo split

Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, since if it weren’t the case, they wouldn’t have paired at all, but Enos and Mangoo pair well. The UK chimp-obsessed space metallers – that’s Enos, on side A – and the Finnish modernized classic heavy rock outfit – that’s Mangoo, on side B – don’t ask much of the listener across their Son of a Gun/The Grey Belly split (on H42 Records) beyond a little over 10 minutes of time and a willingness to follow a groove. “Son of a Gun” finds Enos blending particularly well with Mangoo’s methodology via the inclusion of organ in their swinging but still forward-directed movement, and after that, it’s an easy mesh to flip the platter and find Mangoo’s “The Grey Belly” waiting, its own keys playing a huge role in carrying across the ‘70s-via-‘90s vibe the band projects so well. Flourishes of percussion in the former seem to complement the progressive guitar work in the latter, and whichever side happens to be spinning, it all works out just fine.

Enos on Thee Facebooks

Mangoo on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

Band of Spice, Economic Dancers

band of spice economic dancers

Born in 2007 as Spice and the RJ Band and rechristened Band of Spice in 2010 prior to their third album, Feel Like Coming Home, the Swedish unit boasting vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand (founding vocalist of Spiritual Beggars, also Mushroom River Band, currently also in Kayser) release their fourth full-length half a decade later in the form of Economic Dancers on Scarlet Records. It’s a straightforward heavy rocker in the organ-laced European tradition that Spice helped create, with some shades of quirk in the intro to “The Joe” and the arena-ready backing vocals of “In My Blood,” but mostly cutting its teeth on modernized ‘70s jams like “On the Run,” “Down by the Liquor Store” and “True Will,” though the six-minute centerpiece “You Will Call” touches on more psychedelic fare and is backed immediately by two metallers in “You Can’t Stop” and “Fly Away,” so it’s not by any means one-sided, even if at times the mix makes it feel like the 11 tracks are a showcase for the singer whose name is on the marquee.

Band of Spice at Scarlet Records

Scarlet Records on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Truckfighters, Gravity X

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Truckfighters, Gravity X

In part because its opener has become such a clarion, reliably launching — and I do mean launching — every gig the band plays, and because July marks 10 years since its original release, it’s tempting to view Truckfighters‘ 2005 debut full-length, Gravity X, as a watershed moment or generational swap-out in Swedish heavy rock. The truth of that is more complicated. Even as Truckfighters were stomping their way onto the scene after their first release following two early EPs, a 2003 joint offering with bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm‘s prior outfit, Firestone, titled The Fuzzsplit of the Century (discussed here), that was also Fuzzorama Records‘ premiere catalog entry, bands like Dozer were well into their tenure, releasing Though the Eyes of Heathens the same year, while at the same time, fellow Örebro natives Witchcraft were releasing their second album, Firewood, almost precisely the same day on Rise Above. Nonetheless, if Gravity X‘s arrival through Fuzzorama and MeteorCity has become something of a landmark in the annals of Swedish and/or European heavy rock at large — and it’s pretty easy to argue that it has — that status is a testament to the grueling work that the band has put in in the years since it was first issued, writing and recording, touring incessantly across an ever-widening geographic range, and of course fostering other acts at the helm of Fuzzorama. As much as “Desert Cruiser” seems now to be an immediate and resounding call to those ready to worship at the altar of fuzz, it’s worth remembering it took Truckfighters years of hand-delivering what’s become their signature riff to audiences for it to become that.

The athleticism involved in that delivery notwithstanding, there has always been more to Truckfighters — the core of Cedermalm and guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren, as portrayed in the 2012 “fuzzomentary” A Film about a Band Called Truckfighters (review here), along with a cast of drummers that has continued to rotate over the last several years — than jumping around on stage. Even on Gravity X, the reaches of which are considerable with a 67-minute runtime, the band showcased a penchant for instrumental exploration that would continue to serve them well as they progressed through subsequent offerings like 2007’s Phi, 2009’s Mania (review here) and last year’s long-awaited Universe (review here), balanced against a core of songcraft that remained prevalent no matter who happened to be in the band with Källgren and Cedermalm at the time — former drummers Oscar Johansson and Andre Kvarnström have gone on to play in Witchcraft and Blues Pills, respectively — and cuts like “Gargarismo,” “In Search of (The),” “Gweedo-Weedo” and “Manhattan Project” have maintained their vitality over the 10-year span as highlights both of Truckfighters‘ catalog and that of Swedish heavy rock, the one only becoming more and more pivotal to the other over that same stretch. Meanwhile the toying with spaciousness of “Superfunk” seems in hindsight to presage some of the moodier turns of Universe and Mania before it, the band’s dynamic growing as relentlessly as their tour schedule, which has seen them become a fixture of both the European and American circuits particularly over the last half-decade.

Gravity X was compiled with Phi onto what was dubbed the Super 3-LP in 2013 — the band also put out their The Chairman EP that year as a stopgap between Mania and Universe — and of course, as forward as they’ve progressed in the years since, some of this material remains a staple of live sets, and among heavy rock records, I think you’ll find Gravity X has rare staying power, undulled by time. Hope you enjoy.

Well, next week is it: the Quarterly Review. I’ve been teasing it for about the last month, I’ll be writing reviews all weekend to get a jump on it, and next week, from Monday to Friday, somehow, some way, we’ll have 10 reviews each day for a total of 50. Don’t ask me how that’s going to get done. It just is.

If you downloaded the new podcast this week, that is hugely appreciated.

Not much more to come other than the Quarterly Review, honestly. I’ve got a Mammoth Mammoth video premiere slated for Thursday, but I’m basically trying to keep it pretty stripped down other than the big post each day and whatever news comes down the PR wire. That should be plenty to work with. I’m thinking of doing a vinyl week the next week, just to keep things as complicated and time-consuming for myself as possible. You know, bash my head on the rocks to keep from drowning and all that.

If you’re headed to the Maryland Doom Fest this weekend — should be starting right around now, actually — I hope it’s great. I wish I could be there as well. I’ll look forward to seeing video of Spirit Caravan and hopefully they do a The Obsessed cover or two.

To be perfectly honest, there’s more, but I’m so beat I don’t even know what it is. Long work day, and I’m planning on spending the next two days working behind the scenes on the site, so while nothing’s going to be posted Saturday and Sunday, I’m not so much signing off as checking out for the evening.

Either way, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. See you back here Monday and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , ,

Graveyard Announce Innocence and Decadence Album Details; New LP Due Sept. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

graveyard

News hasn’t been quick in arriving about Graveyard‘s fourth album, which we now know is titled Innocence and Decadence — perhaps for its dealings with the bluesy demons that seem to have haunted the Swedish outfit since their 2007 self-titled debut — but confirmation came of the record’s existence on their tour with Clutch last month (review here) and the new song, “Shunken,” which they played to herald the upcoming offering’s arrival. Sept. 25 is the release date, and it will be their third outing for Nuclear Blast after 2012’s Lights Out (review here) and 2011’s Hisingen Blues (review here), duty-bound to answer some questions about where their sound is heading after their last time out and just what direction their massively influential ’70s stylizations will take.

Very much looking forward to finding out. If you are as well, preorders are up now. This from the PR wire:

graveyard innocence and decadence

GRAYEYARD Reveal Details to Upcoming Album!

Swedish grandmasters of classic rock, GRAVEYARD, have announced that they will be releasing their fourth full-length album, Innocence & Decadence on September 25, 2015 worldwide via Nuclear Blast.

Innocence & Decadence was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden at Atlantis Studios with Janne Hansson (ABBA, THE HIVES, OPETH) and Johan Lindström (TONBRUKET).

Commented the band: “Got a new album coming your way in September called Innocence & Decadence. It’s gonna be an album filled to the rim with a little bit of this – and for all of those who might wonder or worry – there will be quite a lot of that on it as well. We’ve had a great time recording the album at the ‘gemytliga’ Atlantis Studios in Stockholm together with Janne Hansson and Johan Lindström. And after kinda being away from our daily routine as a touring band and the thrill of a new album on its way …we wanna leave you with.

“Good to be gone, great to be back and let there be September!“ – Axel, Joakim, Jonathan & Truls aka Graveyard

Innocence & Decadence will be released in various formats (vinyl look digipak, digital download, black/clear/splatter/orange/green/bi-colored vinyl as well as a T-Shirt/CD bundle) – pre-order your copy here: http://nblast.de/GRAVEYARDdecadence

A European headlining tour will be announced shortly.

For more info visit:
https://www.facebook.com/graveyardofficial
www.nuclearblast.de/graveyard

Graveyard, “Shunken” Live at House of Blues, Boston, May 17, 2015

Tags: , , , ,

Year of the Goat Post New Album Teaser; The Unspeakable out July 31

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

I don’t know, part of me feels like maybe we shouldn’t even talk about it, but Swedish cult rockers Year of the Goat will release their second album on July 31 through Napalm Records. Dubbed The Unspeakable presumably in honor of their behavior at last year’s Napalm office holiday party — shameful and not to be discussed — or, you know, the devil or something like that, the album will follow-up on 2012’s Angels’ Necropolis, and will be available in a host of editions, including a limited-to-100 gatefold 180g 2LP that comes with a backpatch and a 200-made six-panel CD digipak that scales the patch down to your standard woven-patch size. Because if you’re going to do something called The Unspeakable, damn it, make it worth talking about.

The PR wire brought the news and put it on an altar all in slow motion, ritual-like:

K1600_Year+of+the+Goat+promo+2015+174

YEAR OF THE GOAT RELEASE FIRST TEASER OF UPCOMING ALBUM!

YEAR OF THE GOAT invite us to celebrate their second full length album The Unspeakable which is chock full of conjuring tone and with sinister knells. Painfully beautiful guitar work and Hammond infusions build the foundation for Thomas Sabbathi`s forceful vocals and merge true 70s spirit with a pure ritual for the masses. The Unspeakable goes one step further than its predecessor Angels` Necropolis (2012) and offers airy, proggy tunes taking turns with epic darkness: captivating, unique, majestic!

The Swedes indulge in occult doom rock full of blackened heart`s blood and elegant melody lines that will haunt your dreams. With the brand new album teaser you can check it out for yourself HERE!

Tracklisting:
1. All He Has Read
2. Pillars of the South
3. The Emma
4. Vermin
5. World Of Wonders
6. The Wind
7. Black Sunlight
8. The Sermon
9. The Key And The Gate (Alternative Version – Bonus Track)
10 Riders Of Vultures

Out July 31st

Pre-order “The Unspeakable” now! http://shop.napalmrecords.com/yearofthegoat
US customers: www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/store/yearo­fthegoat

For More Info Visit:
www.facebook.com/yearofthegoat
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Year of the Goat, The Unspeakable album teaser

Tags: , , , ,

Skraeckoedlan Post “Flod” Video; New Album Sagor Due June 10

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

skraeckoedlan

It won’t take long into Skraeckoedlan‘s “Flod” for the point to sink in. The song, which comes from their awaited second album, Sagor, boasts Truckfighters-style fuzzy smoothness, and a densely-weighted roll, melody and catchy vibe. My impression from what they say about working with different producers is that the record is actually pretty varied, but in giving a first impression, “Flod” — the title of which translates to “river” — seems to get things off to a solid start.

When the Swedish four-piece decided to change the title of their upcoming LP from Gigantos to Sagor, I’m not sure, but they’ve aligned themselves to Razzia Notes, a label headed by In Flames vocalist Anders Fridén, so they’ve no doubt gotten a bit of a push leading up to the June 10 release. Sagor will be the follow-up to 2011’s Äppelträdet (review here), and no doubt the complexity of the recording process will turn out to have been a factor in its somewhat delayed arrival.

Better late than never, though, and even if you didn’t hear the first outing, “Flod” should still be able to find solid footing. The video shows off a predilection toward classic sci-fi — they’ve begun to use the phrase “fuzzience fiction” — and spaced out themes, and that only adds to the charm of the song itself.

Clip follows here. Please enjoy:

Skraeckoedlan, “Flod” official video

Skraeckoedlan is ready to release their new album, titled “Sagor”. It was recorded in multiple studios during a two year period and features collaborations with several technicians and producers such as Daniel Bergstrand (In Flames, Meshuggah) and Niklas Berglöf (Ghost, Den Svenska Björnstammen). Erik Berglund has done the mixing and has been an integral part in finding the sound of the album.

When working with “Sagor”, Skraeckoedlan got in contact with Anders Fridén and his record label Razzia Notes, who will release the record.

The album “Sagor” will be released June 10th.

Skraeckoedlan’s website

Skraeckoedlan on Thee Facebooks

Razzia Records

Razzia Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , ,