Quarterly Review: Ocean Chief, Barnabus, Helen Money, Elder Druid, Mindcrawler, Temple of Void, Lunar Swamp, Huge Molasses Tank Explodes, Emile, Saturno Grooves

Posted in Reviews on March 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’m not saying I backloaded the Quarterly Review or anything — because I didn’t — but maybe subconsciously I wanted to throw in a few releases here I had a pretty good idea I was gonna dig beforehand. Pretty much all of them, as it turned out. Not a thing I regret happening, though, again, neither was it something I did purposefully. Anyone see A Serious Man? In this instance, I’m happy to “accept the mystery” and move on.

Before we dive into the last day, of course I want to say thank you for reading if you have been. If you’ve followed along all week or this is the only post you’ve seen or you’re just here because I tagged your band in the post on Thee Facebooks, whatever it is, it is appreciated. Thank you. Especially given the global pandemic, your time and attention is highly valued.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ocean Chief, Den Tredje Dagen

ocean chief den tredje dagen

The first Ocean Chief record in six years is nothing if not weighted enough to make up for anything like lost time. Also the long-running Swedish outfit’s debut on Argonauta Records, Den Tredje Dagen on CD/DL runs five songs and 59 minutes, and though it’s not without a sense of melody either instrumentally or vocally — certainly its guitars have plenty enough to evoke a sense of mournfulness at least — its primary impact still stems from the sheer heft of its tonality, and its tracks are of the sort that a given reviewer might be tempted to call “slabs.” They land accordingly, the longest of them positioned as the centerpiece “Dömd” seething with slower-Celtic Frost anxiety and the utter nastiness of its intent spread across 15-plus minutes of let-me-just-go-ahead-and-crush-that-for-you where “that” is everything and “no” isn’t taken for an answer. There’s respite in closer “Den Sista Resan” and the CD-bonus “Dimension 5,” but even these maintain an atmospheric severity consistent with what precedes them. One way or another, it is all fucking destroyed.

Ocean Chief on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records store

 

Barnabus, Beginning to Unwind

barnabus beginning to unwind

Come ye historians and classic heavy rockers. Come, reap what Rise Above Relics has sown. Though it’s hard sometimes not to think of the Rise Above Records imprint as label-honcho Lee Dorrian (ex-Cathedral, current With the Dead) picking out highlights from his own record collection — which is the stuff of legend — neither is that in any way a problem. Barnabus, who hailed and apparently on occasion still hail from the West Midlands in the UK, issued the Beginning to Unwind in 1972 as part of an original run that ended the next year. So it goes. Past its 10-minute jammy opener/longest track (immediate points) “America,” the new issue of Beginning to Unwind includes the LP, demos, live tracks, and no doubt assorted other odds and ends as well from Barnabus‘ brief time together. Songs like “The War Drags On” and “Resolute” are the stuff of ’70s-riff daydreams, while “Don’t Cry for Me My Lady” digs into proto-prog without losing its psych-folk inflection. I’m told the CD comes with a 44-page booklet, which only furthers the true archival standard of the release.

Barnabus on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Relics store

 

Helen Money, Atomic

helen money atomic

To those for whom Helen Money is a familiar entity, the arrival of a new full-length release will no doubt only be greeted with joy. The ongoing project of experimental cellist Alison Chesley, though the work itself — issued through Thrill Jockey as a welcome follow-up to 2016’s Become Zero (review here) — is hardly joyful. Coping with the universality of grief and notions of grieving-together with family, Chesley brings forth minimalism and electronics-inclusive stylstic reach in kind across the pulsating “Nemesis,” the periodic distortion of her core instrument jarring when it hits. She takes on a harp for “Coppe” and the effect is cinematic in a way that seems to find answer on the later “One Year One Ring,” after which follows the has-drums “Marrow,” but wherever Chesley goes on Atomic‘s 47 minutes, the overlay of mourning is never far off.

Helen Money on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records store

 

Elder Druid, Golgotha

elder druid golgotha

Belfast dual-guitar sludge five-piece Elder Druid return with seven tracks/39 minutes of ready punishment on their second album, Golgotha, answering the anger of 2017’s Carmina Satanae with densely-packed tones and grooves topped with near-universal harsh vocals (closer “Archmage” is the exception). What they’re playing doesn’t require an overdose of invention, with their focus is so much on hammering their riffs home, and certainly the interwoven leads of the title-track present some vision of intricacy for those who might demand it while also being punched in the face, and the transitional “Sentinel,” which follows,” brings some more doomly vibes ahead of “Vincere Vel Mori,” which revives the nod, “Dreadnought” has keys as well as a drum solo, and the penultimate “Paegan Dawn of Anubis” brings in an arrangement of backing vocals, so neither are they void of variety. At the feedback-soaked end of “Archmage,” Golgotha comes across genuine in its aggression and more sure of their approach than they were even just a couple years ago.

Elder Druid on Thee Facebooks

Elder Druid on Bandcamp

 

Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter

mindcrawler lost orbiter

I know the whole world seems like it’s in chaos right now — mostly because it is — but go ahead and quote me on this: a band does not come along in 2020 and put out a record like Lost Orbiter and not get picked up by some label if they choose to be. Among 2020’s most promising debuts, it is progressive without pretense, tonally rich and melodically engaging, marked out by a poise of songcraft that speaks to forward potential whether it’s in the coursing leads of “Drake’s Equation” or the final slowdown/speedup of “Trappist-1” that smoothly shifts into the sample at the start of closer “Dead Space.” Mindcrawler‘s first album — self-recorded, no less — is modern cosmic-heavy brought to bear in a way that strikes such a balance between the grounded and the psychedelic that it should not be ignored, even in the massively crowded international underground from which they’re emerging. And the key point there is they are emerging, and that as thoughtfully composed as the six tracks/29 minutes of Lost Orbiter are, they only represent the beginning stages of what Mindcrawler might accomplish. If there is justice left, someone will release it on vinyl.

Mindcrawler on Thee Facebook

Mindcrawler on Bandcamp

 

Temple of Void, The World That Was

Temple of Void The World that Was

Michigan doom-death five-piece Temple of Void have pushed steadily toward the latter end of that equation over their now-three full-lengths, and though The World That Was (their second offering through Shadow Kingdom) is still prone to its slower tempos and is includes the classical-guitar interlude “A Single Obulus,” that stands right before “Leave the Light Behind,” which is most certainly death metal. Not arguing with it, as to do so would surely only invite punishment. The extremity only adds to the character of Temple of Void‘s work overall, and as “Casket of Shame” seems to be at war with itself, so too is it seemingly at war with whatever manner of flesh its working so diligently to separate from the bone. Across a still-brief 37 minutes, The World That Was — which caps with its most-excellently-decayed nine-minute title-track — harnesses and realizes this grim vision, and Temple of Void declare in no uncertain terms that no matter how they might choose to tip the scale on the balance of their sound, they are its master.

Temple of Void on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records store

 

Lunar Swamp, Shamanic Owl

Lunar Swamp Shamanic Owl

Lunar Swamp have spawned as a blusier-directed offshoot of Italian doomers Bretus of which vocalist Mark Wolf, guitarist/bassist Machen and drummer S.M. Ghoul are members, and sure enough, their debut single “Shamanic Owl,” fosters this approach. As the band aren’t strangers to each other, it isn’t such a surprise that they’d be able to decide on a sound and make it happen their first time out but the seven-minute roller — also the leadoff their first EP, UnderMudBlues, which is due on CD in June — also finds time to work in a nod to the central riff of Sleep‘s “Dragonaut” along with its pointed worship of Black Sabbath, so neither do they seems strictly adherent to a blues foundation, despite the slide guitar that works its way in at the finish. How the rest of the EP might play out need not be a mystery — it’s out digitally now — but as far as an introduction goes, “Shamanic Owl” will find welcome among those seeking comfort in the genre-familiar.

Lunar Swamp on Thee Facebooks

Lunar Swamp on Bandcamp

 

Huge Molasses Tank Explodes, II

Huge Molasses Tank Explodes II

The nine-track/42-minute second LP, II, from Milano post-this-or-that five-piece Huge Molasses Tank Explodes certainly finds the band earning bonus points based on their moniker alone, but more than that, it is a work of reach and intricacy alike, finding the moment where New Wave emerged from out of krautrock’s fascination with synthesizer music and bring to that a psychedelic shimmer that is too vintage-feeling to be anything other than modern. It is laid back enough in its overarching affect that “The Run” feels dreamy, most especially in its guitar lines, but never is it entirely at rest, and both the centerpiece “No One” and the later “So Much to Lose” help continue the momentum that “The Run” manages so fluidly to build in a manner one might liken to space rock were the implication of strict adherence to stylistic guidelines so implicit in that categorization. They present this nuance with a natural-seeming sense of craft and in “High or Low,” a fuzzy tone that feels like only a welcome windfall. Those who can get their head around it should seek to do so, and kudos to Huge Molasses Tank Explodes for being more than just a clever name.

Huge Molasses Tank Explodes on Thee Facebooks

Retro Vox Records on Bandcamp

 

Emile, The Black Spider/Det Kollektive Selvmord

Emile The Black Spider Det Kollektive Selvmord

Set to release through Heavy Psych Sounds on the same day as the new album from his main outfit The Sonic Dawn, The Black Spider/Det Kollective Selvmord is the debut solo album from Copenhagen-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Emile Bureau, who has adopted his first name as his moniker of choice. Fair enough for the naturalism and intended intimacy of the 11-track/39-minute outing, which indeed splits itself between portions in English and in Danish, sounding likewise able to bring together sweet melodies in both. Edges of distortion in “Bundlos” and some percussion in the second half’s title-track give a semblance of arrangement to the LP, but at the core is Emile himself, his vocals and guitar, and that’s clearly the purpose behind it. Where The Sonic Dawn often boast a celebratory feel, The Black Spider/Det Kollective Selvmord is almost entirely subdued, and its expressive sensibility comes through regardless of language.

Emile on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds store

 

Saturno Grooves, Cosmic Echoes

saturno grooves cosmic echoes

Sonic restlessness! “Fire Dome” begins with a riffy rush, “Forever Zero” vibes out on low end and classic swing, the title-track feels like an Endless Boogie jam got lost in the solar system, “Celestial Tunnel” is all-thrust until it isn’t at all, “Blind Faith” is an acoustic interlude, and “Dark Matter” is a punk song. Because god damn, of course it is. It is little short of a miracle Saturno Grooves make their second album, Cosmic Echoes as remarkably cohesive as it is, yet through it all they hold fast to class and purpose alike, and from its spacious outset to its bursting finish, there isn’t a minute of Cosmic Echoes that feels like happenstance, even though they’re obviously following one impulse after the next in terms of style. Heavy (mostly) instrumentalism that works actively not to be contained. Out among the echoes, Saturno Grooves might just be finding their own wavelength.

Saturno Groove on Thee Facebooks

LSDR Records store

 

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

Gaupa Releasing Feberdröm April 3; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

gaupa

The world may be a chaostream of virus panic and canceled shows, tours and festivals, but album releases seem at least to be proceeding on some level, and I don’t know about you, but hell, I appreciate the consistency. Take what I can get at this point. Swedish heavy rockers Gaupa issued their 2018 self-titled debut EP through Kozmik Artifactz last year and they’ll reportedly follow-up in a couple weeks with Feberdröm, their first full-length. Sadly, they seem to have an entire tour planned around the release — I didn’t see a note that they’d canceled it, but neither am I posting the dates because, well… — but one hopes they’ll either be able to do at least some of the shows or re-book it for sometime after our species has recovered from whatever the hell it ultimately needs to recover from when all of these known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns shake out.

Speaking of shaking out, Gaupa have a new song streaming now that’s got “shooting blanks” in its title, so hey, trigger warning for yours truly, amirite? That’s always a fun place to go mentally. Like, every day of my life.

Album’s out April 3, as you can apparently see on the cover art:

gaupa Feberdröm

Gaupa “Feberdröm” Out 3rd April on Kozmik Artifactz

Swedish stoner act GAUPA continue breaking new ground with their unique blend of doom, psychedelia and folk. Hot on the tail of their highly revered self-titled debut, their new full length album ‘Feberdröm’ will not disappointed fans old and new. Eight killer new songs containing forceful tempos, as well as epic soundscapes coloured with pitch-black melancholy.

Feberdröm will be released on limited edition heavyweight vinyl & CD on the 3rd of April on Kozmik Artifactz.

VINYL FACTZ
– Plated & pressed on high
performance vinyl at
Pallas/Germany
– limited & coloured vinyl
– 300gsm gatefold cover
– special vinyl mastering

TRACKS
1. Vakuum
2. Where Emperors Grow
3. Hjulet
4. Grycksbo Gånglåt
5. Mjölksyra
6. Alfahonan (Shooting Blanks)
7. Totemdjur
8. Klarvaken

Gaupa are:
Emma Näslund – Vocals
David Rosberg – Guitars
Daniel Nygren – Guitars
Erik Jerka Sävström – Bass
Jimmy Hurtig – Drums

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

Gaupa, “Alfahonan (Shooting Blanks)”

Tags: , , , , ,

Dozer Interview & Full Album Stream, Pt. 3: Call it Conspiracy

Posted in Features on March 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

dozer call it conspiracy era

Man’s Ruin Records, which put out the first two Dozer albums in 2000’s In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here) and Madre de Dios (discussed here), had folded. At the same time, the Swedish four-piece — still working with the lineup of guitarists Tommi Holappa and Fredrik Nordin (the latter also vocals), bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall — had well earned momentum on their side both from the quality of the two records they’d put out and the tours they’d done to support. They’d done vinyl releases before through their own Molten Universe imprint, including the LP version of Madre de Dios, so when it came time to unveil 2002’s third album, Call it Conspiracy (also discussed here), rather than take the time to chase down another label, they simply pressed the album themselves.

That choice is important in understanding where the band were at stylistically at the time as well. Call it Conspiracy is an urgent 13-track shove, more crisp in its production and more assured in its drive, less distinctly desert rock than either of its predecessors, and it therefore marks a turning point in Dozer‘s sound. They could hardly be said to have been lacking in identity before it, but even though it had only been a year, there’s a marked shift that takes place between Madre de Dios and its follow-up, though the band’s songwriting — on display right from the start with the essential opening one-two punch of “The Hills Have Eyes” and “Rising” — was more resilient than ever, and Call it Conspiracy remains a fan favorite even some 18 years after its initial release. They’re the kinds of songs a promoter might ask to hear twice and then the DJ would play through the P.A. afterwards anyhow, but I suppose the same could be said of the entire Dozer catalog.

After Call it ConspiracyDozer signed to Detroit-based Small Stone Records and offered up 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens (discussed here) and 2008’s Beyond Colossal (discussed here). By 2005, Bäckwall was out of the band. He and Rockner can currently be found in moody atmospheric rockers Besvärjelsen. In the meantime, around 2007, Tommi Holappa‘s long-established side-project Greenleaf began an ascent to the forefront that, as Dozer receded following the 2008 offering, would only continue to shift the balance between the two groups. A succession of albums and tours that in some ways answers the stylistic progression that Dozer left behind, but with its own, bluesier sensibility as well, took shape, and even now awaits its next installment, as Greenleaf recently announced they were writing their next full-length for release on Napalm Records.

As Call it Conspiracy is the third in the trilogy of Dozer releases being reissued through Heavy Psych Sounds, and this is the last of the full-album-streams/interviews to coincide, I’d like to send my thanks to the label, to Purple Sage PR and of course to Tommi Holappa for allowing me to host the records and do the Q&As. These records have meant a lot to me over the years and I’m glad they’re getting back out there again. The more who hear them, the merrier.

Thanks for reading. Please enjoy:

Call it Conspiracy Q&A with Tommi Holappa

Call it Conspiracy marked a shift in Dozer’s sound away from desert-style heavy rock. How purposeful was that progression? Was there a reason behind it, or was it just the way your sound evolved?

When we started writing songs for C.I.C. we could early on hear that we were going in a different direction on some of the songs, which I think was just natural growth of the band, new influences and maybe not wanting to do the same album over and over again. We still wanted to have a fat heavy sound but maybe it didn’t have to be the fattest and fuzziest sound in the world, this is when we decided to tune up our guitars half a step to make everything sound a little bit clearer.

The biggest change was definitely that we hired a producer for this album. All the earlier albums and demos were recorded by Bengt Bäcke (Greenleaf) at the Rockhouse studio in Borlänge. This studio was a simple demo studio but it worked just fine for the first albums. We thought it was time to try something new and see what happens so we hired Chips Kiesby, he had produced High Visibility with The Hellacopters which was an album we all loved. So a producer and a “professional” studio (Music-a-matic in Gothenburg) was the biggest change.

It was only a year’s space between In the Tail of a Comet, Madre de Dios and Call it Conspiracy, but the band seemed to go through so much growth. How do you feel your songwriting process changed over that time? What was it like being in Dozer in 2002 as opposed to 1999 or 2000?

Well it was a year between the releases but in the end I think it took a year for Man’s Ruin to release In the Tail of a Comet so when it came out I think we already had most of Madre de Dios written. But yeah we were growing fast, we didn’t want to be stuck in one place and write the same song over and over again. The more albums we put out the more time we put into trying to write better songs.

Of course, Call it Conspiracy also helped set up the progression across Through the Eyes of Heathens and Beyond Colossal. How do you feel about the thread of Dozer’s work overall?

If you listen to the albums from first to last you can really hear a band that keeps growing the whole time. The first and last albums are almost like two completely different bands but you can still hear that it is Dozer and that is the most important thing.

Anything in particular you’d like to add about Call it Conspiracy? Any other standout memories to share about this time in the band?

This was a crazy and fun time for us! We toured a lot! We did support act tours with Clutch and Mastodon in Europe, we did shows in US, Canada and Australia for the first time.

Also Karl Daniel Lidén joined the band to replace Erik Bäckwall on drums. With Daniel’s energy, heaviness and kick in our asses we started the writing for Through the Eyes of Heathens, but that’s another story.

Will there ever be another Dozer album?

There are no plans at the moment for an album or anything but It would be fun to at least try to write a song together with the guys and see how it would turn out. It’s been 12-13 years since we last wrote together so it would definitely be interesting.

Dozer on Thee Facebooks

Dozer on YouTube

Dozer website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Twitter

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dozer Interview & Full Album Stream, Pt. 2: Madre de Dios

Posted in Features on March 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

dozer madre era

Dozer‘s second album, Madre de Dios, will see reissue this Friday on Heavy Psych Sounds, and if the arrival just a week after In the Tail of a Comet (streamed/discussed here) feels quick, consider that in reality the sophomore LP came out just a year after the debut — so it was quick then as well. Born in 2001, Madre de Dios was pressed to vinyl through the band’s own Molten Universe imprint and to CD through Man’s Ruin Records, with different artwork for each, and despite the speedy turnaround from its predecessor, already one could hear growth in the sound of the Borlänge, Sweden, four-piece, who were beginning to take the desert rock style that had typified the first album and their earlier demos and splits and reshape it to their aesthetic will, consciously or not, through the seemingly simple act of honest songwriting.

With the returning lineup of guitarist Tommi Holappa, guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall, songs like “Freeloader,” “Octanoid,” “Soulshigh,” the spacey “TX-9” and indeed, opener “Let the Shit Roll” — about which Holappa shares a good story below — showcased a fast progression on the part of the band, who were beginning to reach for a faster, sometimes more aggressive, sound that, ultimately, was more their own. In hindsight, it’s easy to look at Madre de Dios as a turning point from who Dozer were in their nascent days to who they’d become as they began to mature as a group, but the same could be said more or less of every album up to the last, since once it got underway, their progression never really stopped bringing their sound to new and exciting places in terms of craft.

But in 2001, fuzz was still king in Dozer‘s sound, and Madre de Dios‘ 10-track/39-minute run is as righteous a conglomeration of hairy riffs as one could ever hope to encounter. Propelled by the gallop in Bäckwall‘s snare and the emergence of Nordin as a frontman, from the moment the shit starts to roll, right down to the aptly-titled closer “Thunderbolt” — which even in its reissue form keeps the stretch of effects noise at the end — the record is sharp in its execution and still somehow laid back in its groove, as though Dozer were pushing that defining line of heavy rock and roll as far as it could go, testing those boundaries while actively working to find their place in (and/or out) of them. As a band, at this point they were on the road, and as part of the post-Kyuss movement of “stoner rock,” Dozer were helping to shape what we know today as the heavy underground. Their influence and their songs continue to resonate.

By which I mean Madre de Dios still kicks ass. Hear for yourself above. Holappa talks about it below.

Please enjoy:

Madre de Dios Q&A with Tommi Holappa

Tell me about being in the studio for Madre de Dios. What do you remember your attitude was coming off of the first record, and was there anything in particular you wanted to do differently with the second one?

After the first album was released we wanted more, bigger and better! Releasing albums and touring was fun! So we couldn’t wait to go back into the studio and record another album.

I´m pretty sure the attitude was that we just wanted to write the best songs we could and record an album that sounded fat as hell!

To be honest I can’t remember much of the recording session of this album, only some bits and pieces, it has nothing to do with drinking too much in the studio or anything it’s just that it’s so damn long ago hahaha! I remember that I got my Russian Big Muff and my Gibson SG just before this album so those two were used a lot.

The original CD and LP wound up with different covers. Was that a choice on the part of the band, or maybe Man’s Ruin? Do you feel that one or the other better represents the album?

The story is that Man’s Ruin didn’t want to release it on vinyl so we asked them if we could release it ourselves via Molten Universe. They were okay and we said cool, then we release it with different artwork and put a bonus track on it. I personally prefer the vinyl artwork and the song “Rings of Saturn” is on it, one of my favorite early tracks.

What was the reception like in Sweden specifically to the band at this point?

It was ok but nothing compared to Germany and some other central European countries. So most of the touring was done outside of Sweden where people actually showed up to see us hahaha!

How hard was Dozer touring at this point? What was the reception like to this material live? Are there any memories that stand out from the Madre de Dios era that you can share?

At this point we had started touring quiet a lot. Reception was good, outside of Sweden of course hahaha. “Let the Shit Roll” was a song that usually got the crowd going nuts and I have actually one pretty funny story about that song.

We were in Zurich/Switzerland and the DJ at the club started playing “Let the Shit Roll” just before we were about to go on stage, fuck! Why do they that song now!? What do we do? Should we just skip the song from the set or?! Fuck it let’s just play it!

Anyway we did our set and played “Let the Shit Roll” and I don’t think anyone cared that they heard it twice. We went off stage and the crowd was screaming for more so just when we were about to go on stage again to play the encores the promoter came up to us and asked if we can play “Let the Shit Roll.” We told him that we already played it and we will play a couple of other songs instead but he really kept going on and on about how much he wants to hear it, so he offered us one more case of beer if we would play it.

We went up on stage and of course we had to play it again! It’s free beer! And free beer is good beer! Hahaha! So we played “Let the Shit Roll” a second time and a couple of more tracks. When we were done we go off stage and guess what song the DJ starts playing? “LET THE SHIT ROLL!”

Anything else in particular you’d like to say about Madre de Dios?

I got the idea for the album title from an episode of The Simpsons.

Dozer on Thee Facebooks

Dozer on YouTube

Dozer website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Twitter

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Witchcraft Announce Acoustic Album Black Metal

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

witchcraft

True, it’s been four years since Witchcraft released 2016’s Nucleus (review here), which was the successful follow-up to their 2012 Nuclear Blast debut and modernization-pivot Legend (review here), following the pioneering vintage style of their first three albums, but in the meantime, the band’s founder and frontman Magnus Pelander offered up the later-2016 solo outing, Time (review here), and the band have been around for fests and such, so while perhaps somewhat more reclusive than they once were, they haven’t entirely disappeared.

Interesting that Pelander is also the only member of the band listed as performing on Black Metal, and yet, rather than release it under his own name, the apparently-fully-acoustic offering coming as a Witchcraft LP. The song “Elegantly Expressed Depression,” which opens Black Metal lives up to the weighty expectations its title sets, and brims with the sincere-sounding fragility of Pelander‘s immediately recognizable vocals. Seems like perhaps sadness is something of a theme — at least going by track names like “Sad People” and “Sad Dog” — but we’ll see on May 1 when Black Metal is released.

Behold:

witchcraft black metal

WITCHCRAFT To Release Acoustic Album! Black Metal Coming This May On Nuclear Blast!

Pre-order Black Metal here: www.nuclearblast.com/witchcraft-blackmetal

Magnus Pelander’s Witchcraft have existed at the forefront of occult tinged classic rock ever since their formation in the year 2000, when Magnus decided to form the band so that he could record a tribute to his idols Roky Erickson and Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling. The pioneering band has never made excuses for their inspirations, but went on to craft numerous genre-defining classics themselves. Witchcraft’s illustrious career from their self-titled debut in 2004 through to the 2012’s Legend album to the wondrous Nucleus in 2016, became cult classics and propelled the band to new levels of reverence within their scene. When it comes to blending doom with classic rock and flourishes of masterful ambience, nobody could touch them.

Now, Magnus takes WITCHCRAFT in a brave new direction, setting forth into entirely new territory! Exhibiting the pure emotion that has always lived at the core of the band’s work, by moving forward alone: The band’s first new album in four years, titled Black Metal, is an entirely acoustic affair. From opener and the just premiered, first single, “Elegantly Expressed Depression,” it’s clear that this new facet of the band’s sound allows the rawness and fragility to shine in an entirely new light. The minimalism of Bill Callaghan, the tenderness of Elliot Smith and the air of slight discomfort that could only be WITCHCRAFT combine to make this record a truly unique spectacle, not only in the band’s catalogue, but in the world of guitar music as it stands in 2020.

Below is Black Metal’s track list:

1. Elegantly Expressed Depression
2. A Boy And A Girl
3. Sad People
4. Grow
5. Free Country
6. Sad Dog
7. Take Him Away

Black Metal will be available as a CD, vinyl and in digital formats on May 1st 2020 via Nuclear Blast.
Pre-order your copy of Black Metal here: http://nblast.de/WitchcraftNucleusNB
Pre-save the album on Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer: https://nblast.de/WitchcraftPreSave

Witchcraft has also announced to play a few selected shows this year, such as at Desertfest Berlin and London.

Album Line-Up:
Magnus Pelander | vocals, guitar

www.witchraftswe.com
www.facebook.com/witchcraft
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
http://instagram.com/nuclearblastusa
https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html
https://www.nuclearblast.de/en/

Witchcraft, “Elegantly Expressed Depression”

Tags: , , , , ,

Dozer Interview & Full Album Stream, Pt. 1: In the Tail of a Comet

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on March 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Dozer

One could go on and on about how important or influential Dozer‘s early work and essential first album, In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here), has been over the 20 years since its release. The Borlänge, Sweden, four-piece — then comprised of guitarist Tommi Holappa, guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall — had already amassed a decent catalog of short releases by the time the record came out through Man’s Ruin in April 2000, mostly splits with fellow Swedes Demon Cleaner, but also 1999’s Double EP split with Unida (discussed here) and the 1998 demo tape Universe 75 (discussed here), but it was the album that really solidified who Dozer were as a band and brought their yeah-we’re-from-Sweden-and-we-play-fuzzed-out-desert-rock-deal-with-it, all-go thrust and groove approach to its point of peak asskickery.

And that’s the thing about In the Tail of a Comet. Yeah, without it, an entire generation of Swedish heavy rock that followed in Dozer‘s wake probably sounds much different, but at its heart, the album just rocks. It’s a pretense-free collection of ultra-fuzz riffs and hard-hitting, unabashed stoner rock vibes. Coming just a few years after the dissolution of Kyuss and two years after the first Queens of the Stone Age, it was a part of the ascendant international heavy rock underground, a good deal of which was fostered through Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records in bands like Acid KingLos NatasAlabama ThunderpussyGoatsnake, and so on.

Joining those ranks for their first release, Dozer unleashed a collection of songs that has only gotten better with time. In the prime of the CD era, when albums regularly stretched past bloated 50-minute runtimes, In the Tail of a Comet was a taut 37-minute LP with not a moment to spare, and its tracks were front-to-back high-grade heavy. Nordin‘s voice was unmistakable from the start, tossing off lyrics about getting high while flying through space or whatever the hell it was as he and Holappa led the charge with riffs on cuts like “Supersoul,” “Speeder,” “Inside the Falcon,” “Riding the Machine,” “Grand Dragon,” and “High Roller” — or, you know, the whole record, really — while Rockner and Bäckwall alternated between swing and thrust behind, utterly locked in for the duration and charged with an energy that would become yet another signature of Dozer‘s approach, carrying them through the sonic progression that In the Tail of a Comet helped to launch.

As the record turns 20 and receives a well-earned reissue out this week on Heavy Psych Sounds to be followed by 2001’s Madre de Dios and 2003’s Call it Conspiracy on March 20, Tommi Holappa takes a few moments to reflect on In the Tail of a Comet and what it was like to be in Dozer at the time. Much laughter ensues. The band still plays periodically, of course, but it’s been 12 years since their last LP, and these days, Holappa is much more likely to be found in Greenleaf, who have started writing a new album with plans to record this Fall. The following interview begins a series of three that will continue next week covering the next two albums in Dozer‘s catalog, all of which remains crucial.

Please enjoy:

dozer in the tail of a comet

In the Tail of a Comet Q&A with Tommi Holappa

It’s been 25 years since Dozer started, and 20 years since the first album. What was it like being in Dozer during those early days? What do you remember about doing the splits with Demon Cleaner and how did you feel going into your first record?

What I remember the most from the beginning of Dozer is that it was very carefree and simple times. When we started the band we had just figured out that you can actually tune down your guitars to make them sound heavier and cooler and if you ad a fuzz pedal to that, then it would blow you away! So the songwriting was easy! Play a riff, add more fuzz to it… done! Maybe it wasn’t this easy but that’s how I remember it… hahaha!

The Demon Cleaner 7” splits were a lot of fun to do! After the first release it became kind of a friendly competition between us and Demon Cleaner, something like, “We have two songs ready for the next split, hope you have songs ready too because our songs will kick your ass!” hahaha!

We sold some demo tapes at the local records store here in Borlänge before this but the first split that came out in 1998 was our first official release.

After this came the Unida/Dozer split EP which was a huge thing for us as well, can you imagine to get asked to do a split John Garcia’s new band? Well we were blown away! Kyuss was the band that showed us that we can tune down our guitars.

So when we got signed to Man’s Ruin we felt like we were ready to release our first full-length album.

How did signing to Man’s Ruin Records come about? Tell me about that process.

When we felt it was time to start looking for a label to release our first full length Man´s Ruin was the only label we could think about. They had released stuff with all the coolest bands that we looked up to and we wanted to be one of those cool bands as well…hahaha! We never thought they would sign us but we sent a four or five track demo cassette (yes kids we are old hahaha) to them anyway. A couple of weeks later I checked my e-mail and there was a mail from Man’s Ruin and yeah the rest is history. One more funny thing about the whole thing is that we only sent out this one demo and we got signed, we didn’t send demos to any other labels.

What do you remember about being in the studio for In the Tail of a Comet? What was that experience like as compared to later Dozer records? How did you feel about it when it first came out and how do you feel about it now?

I don’t remember a lot from this specific recording, I remember it was recorded on tape, there were no computers around. The computer was invented just before we recorded Madre de Dios hahaha!

All the early stuff we recorded was recorded really fast and the more records we released the more time we put into songwriting and getting the right sounds, etc., etc. But I think In the Tail of a Comet still holds to this day! I´m proud of it!

What was the response like to In the Tail of a Comet at the time?

From what I remember the response was mostly good! Of course every once in a while people called us Kyuss clones or something, but fuck them, now we were on Man’s Ruin and we were one of the cool bands hahaha!

Anything else you’d like to add about In the Tail of a Comet in particular?

We had a hard time coming up with good album title so we just stole one, hahaha! It’s from one of our favorite Clutch songs, I’m not telling which one…

Dozer on Thee Facebooks

Dozer on YouTube

Dozer website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Twitter

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Blues Pills to Release Holy Moly! June 19; New Single “Proud Woman” Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

blues pills

Sweden’s Blues Pills will start the album cycle for their new record, Holy Moly!, well in advance of the actual June 19 release date. Nuclear Blast is behind the offering as they have been since they picked up their self-titled debut (review here), and the band begin playing shows this week in Uppsala. Sure, they took some time to record, but there’s a certain point at which the notion of a “cycle” becomes kind of irrelevant, i.e., a band just tours. Blues Pills have not been shy about hitting the road, I guess is what I’m saying.

“Proud Woman” is the first single from Holy Moly!, and though it’s tempting, I’m not going to sit here and mansplain to you how the idea of vocalist Elin Larsson feeling compelled to make such a declaration should be considered a quaint example of the band’s retro foundations rather than an urgent and relevant statement regarding current issues, but there you have it anyway. I’m also not going to sit here and mansplain how I just mansplained the thing I said I wasn’t going to mansplain. That’s what it’s like to be a dude. For what it’s worth, I’m not particularly proud. Ain’t like I earned any of this cultural privilege.

The PR wire has more interesting things to say:

blues pills proud woman

BLUES PILLS Announce New Album Holy Moly! + Release First Single “Proud Woman”

Often compared to a jam session between Aretha Franklin and LED ZEPPELIN, BLUES PILLS’ career took them from an American garage to international glory within a few years. Their self-titled debut album (2014) entered the German album charts at #4 and two years later they went straight to #1 with the successor Lady in Gold. Starting in the smallest clubs the band suddenly found themselves playing on some of the world’s biggest stages from Rock Am Ring, Download, Sweden Rock and even the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival where DEEP PURPLE famously saw smoke on the water during Frank Zappa’s performance.

With the band’s 3rd album, Holy Moly!, to be released on June 19th, 2020 via Nuclear Blast, BLUES PILLS plan their return to a number of major festival stages, playing Download, Hurricane and Southside among many others throughout the summer.

But fans need not wait until summer for their first taste of the action. To support International Women’s Day on March 8th BLUES PILLS have released their first single “Proud Woman”. The band describe their intentions with the song:
“With ‘Proud Woman’ we wanna give the fierce women and grrrls of the world a power anthem to turn on whenever they wanna feel empowered. Or just have fun. A song to everyone who stands behind the most obvious things of all. Equality and unity. Whoever you are, wherever you come from. Women will always be a driving force of change. And a change is gonna come.”

Get the single digitally here: https://nblast.de/BP-ProudWoman

In regards to the lyrics of “Proud Woman” vocalist, Elin Larsson, says: “I’m a proud woman came out from my inner self and the first thing I thought was: someone must have written this before. And if not, why? Hey! It’s about damn time then!

To be a woman or non-binary in the music industry seems to be more about the gender then the music sometimes. As a woman you’re being belittled, threatened, scrutinized, made fun of, targeted and harassed in a way that the men in the industry aren’t. And even so, there are so many women in the industry who made and are making their mark just as mighty as the men, and they do that despite all of the hardships they get for simply being a woman and that makes their triumphs even greater.”

“I’m a proud woman. And I’m not the only one!”

BLUES PILLS live:

13.03. S Uppsala – Katalin (w/ BROR GUNNAR JANSSON)
14.03. S Norrköping – Arbis Bar & Salonger (w/ BROR GUNNAR JANSSON)
19.03. PL Warsaw – Antyradio Award Party @ Stodola
27.03. RUS Moscow – Pravda Club
28.03. RUS St. Petersburg – Club Zal
03.04. GR Thessaloniki – Fix Factory of Sound
04.04. GR Athens – Fuzz Club

02.05. UK London – Desertfest

12.06. UK Donington – Download Festival
13.06. F Tourcoing – Le Grand Mix
15.06. LUX Esch-sur-Alzette – Kulturfabrik
16.06. F Strasbourg – La Laiterie
18./20.06. B Dessel – Graspop Metal Meeting
19.06. D Neuhausen ob Eck – Southside Festival
21.06. D Scheeßel – Hurricane Festival
27.06. N Ekeberg – Tons of Rock
28.06. I Verona – Rock The Castle
09. – 12.07. CZ Vizovice – Masters of Rock
11.07. N Kvinesdal – Norway Rock Festival
23. – 26.07. RO Brezoi – Open Air Blues Festival
14.08. E Barcelona – Keeping The Blues Alive

BLUES PILLS are:
Elin Larsson | Vocals
Zack Anderson | Guitar
André Kvarnström | Drums
Kristoffer Schander | Bass

www.BLUESPILLS.com
www.facebook.com/BLUESPILLS
https://www.instagram.com/bluespills/
http://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
http://instagram.com/nuclearblastusa
https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

Blues Pills, “Proud Woman” official video

Tags: , , , , ,

Thomas V. Jäger of Monolord to Release Solo Album A Solitary Plan May 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Not that anyone asked, least of all Monolord guitarist/vocalist Thomas V. Jäger himself, but if — as the PR wire alludes below — one of the issues he’s dealing with on this album is related to not being able to procreate through traditional biological means, as someone who’s been through that very particular kind of hell, I would only say in response, “There’s all kinds of families, dude.” Adoption, fostering, all that stuff. If you think it makes a difference not having a little booger-and-turd-factory running around who doesn’t look just like you, well, I wouldn’t know, but I do know that once you decide a kid is “your kid,” the chemicals in your brain kick in and make it so. That’s all I’ll say about it. Again, not that anyone asked.

Jäger‘s forthcoming solo debut, A Solitary Plan, is out May 8 and available to preorder now through RidingEasy Records, which of course was the imprint that first brought Monolord to light as well before the Gothenburg-based trio signed to Relapse ahead of last year’s album of the yearNo Comfort (review here). The largely-acoustic album was mixed and mastered by Kalle Lilja of Wolves in Haze and Långfinger fame and you can stream the leadoff title-track at the bottom of this post.

Dig in:

thomas v jager a solitary plan

Monolord singer/guitarist Thomas V. Jäger announces solo debut, shares title track

Swedish doom trio frontman preps emotionally heavy solo album on RidingEasy

Thomas V. Jäger is best known as the vocalist/guitarist in Monolord, the hottest, most crushing melodic doom band in the world. So, releasing an intimate, deeply and boldly personal album of acoustic and synth based songs hot on the heels of No Comfort, the band’s most successful and powerful album to date, might seem like a risky move. And yet, that’s not even the most daring and inspiring thing about A Solitary Plan.

Rather, this 7-song album is a cathartic depiction of very real and heart-wrenching situations as a means of musical therapy for the artist and, hopefully, for the listener as well. “This album is me venting all of this emotional energy I’ve been carrying around,” Jäger says. “Now I’m feeling more open about it, but at the start I had a hard time talking with friends and family. The record is what came out instead of talking about it.”

The central lyrical theme to the album is a coming to terms with the likelihood of not becoming a parent after wanting to have a family for a long time. “When I put down vocal tracks on the last song ‘The Bitter End’, you can hear my voice is trembling at parts. Every time I listen I get goosebumps, which rarely happens with songs I write.”

Other songs also deal with personal challenges, like health scares, existential searching, and death in the family. “Goodbye” is written for Monolord bassist Mika and his wife Emma. “When they had to put down their dog Eskil it affected me greatly. This song is him talking to them and telling them it is gonna be alright.” Heavy stuff, indeed — but in a different way from Monolord’s pummeling riffs.

Jäger doesn’t intend for the album to be a “woe is me” exercise, but rather something constructive. “I know that music helps people,” he says. “This is without any irony, it’s therapeutic. I know fans can interpret and use the songs for their own purposes. That feels meaningful to me.”

The album began organically, as Jäger often writes and records at home, sketching out song ideas on acoustic guitar into a computer with no set goal for anyone else to hear them. RidingEasy Records chief and Monolord manager Daniel Hall cajoled the guitarist into sending him some of the home recordings he’d been working on, and he immediately pushed for them to be released in this stripped-down form.

“I could’ve rearranged them to get a Monolord vibe, but I wanted the basis of just voice, guitar and synths,” Jäger says. “Really laid back and mellow.” He completed the album between tours, with mixing and mastering by Kalle Lilja at Welfare Sounds. Emil Rolof plays a real Mellotron on the title track, all other instruments and voices are Jäger himself.

A Solitary Plan will be available on LP, CD and download on May 8th, 2020 via RidingEasy Records.
Pre-orders are available at www.ridingeasyrecs.com.

Tracklisting:
01. A Solitary Plan
02. Creatures Of The Deep
03. It’s Alright
04. From The Ashes
05. The Drone (Oh Why)
06. Goodbye
07. The Bitter End

thomasvjager.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/ridingeasyrecords/
http://www.ridingeasyrecs.com/
https://www.instagram.com/easyriderrecord/

Thomas V. Jäger, “A Solitary Plan” official video

Tags: , , , , ,