Up in Smoke 2019 Adds Lowrider, Nebula, Truckfighters, Steak and Lord Kesseli & the Drums

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Sometimes these Euro fest announcements just feel like bragging. Like, “Oh yeah? Think you’re so great ‘cuz you got Nebula and Lowrider and Truckfighters and Amenra and The Obsessed and Lo-Pan and… well shit, I guess that is pretty great.” Kudos to Up in Smoke 2019 on what is thus far a standout bill even among its shared aspects with the other autumnal gatherings, be it Into the Void or Keep it Low or Desertfest Belgium or probably others at this point I just can’t think of off the top of my head let alone track the announcements for. I’ve never been to Switzerland, and I’m not sure it would take much convincing to get me there were the funds available, but needless to say, something like this would easily do the trick.

I particularly like the idea of Nebula and Lowrider on the same bill, what with their by-now-classic split (discussed here) and all. I know there’s no guarantee their sets will be back to back, but some acknowledgement of the two sharing the stage would be cool in light of that release. It was something special.

Oh, and having just seen Steak at Desertfest New York this past weekend, you’re gonna want to show up for that set. Just a heads up.

Full announcement follows as per thee social medias:

up in smoke 2019 banner

Truckfighters + Nebula + Lowrider + Steak + Lord Kesseli & the Drums

Smokers,

Please join in on this little announcement with five great bands. This time we’re going local and of course also international. We have some aces up our sleeves and back in the good old wild west we would probably get shot in the back for that. Hopefully for us, we will instead get some love from you by sharing these names with you:

Yes, they’re back! They’re not from the middle of nowhere, but from the middle of Sweden. Truckfighters have already toured the world, spread the fuzz, got robbed in the US and put the band on hold. Now they return with full strength and play their legendary debut album “Gravity X” from the finish to the start. Make sure to put on your helmet, the gravitation will be ruthless this evening.

On June 7th Nebula is releasing their new album “Holy Shit”, their first album in ten years. We are happy to present them for you so that you can experience some of the new tracks live. What we also hope is that they play the songs from the Meteor City split they released with Lowrider. Both bands will be at the festival and play on the same day. Smokers, get ready for the cool riffs and some holy shit!

Over the last five years the Swedes in Lowrider have been like Phoenix rising from the ashes. The band has specialized in delivering fantastic stage performances wherever they play, regardless of circumstances or stage size. We are psyched and hope they play tunes from their classic MeteorCity split with Nebula! The band is soon releasing a brand new EP called “Refractions”, the first new material since 2001.

Steak played at the first festival and we are happy to bring them back to you after all these years. The Londoners knows how to write catchy tunes with a groovy vibe. These four rock ‘n’ rollers will fulfill everyone’s dreams of a smokin’ good air guitar riff. This is the shit if you want to jump around and party hard.

Dominik Kesseli and Michael Gallusser is hiding behind the dynamic duo Lord Kesseli & The Drums. This is laid back, melodic, with harmonies, yet it sometimes erupts like a volcano with a heavy riff. Here is the band that will fill your ears with balm and for you to catch your breath. Enjoy the Swiss duo that for sure will stand out at this year’s festival.

Tickets http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1665

https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte/36-tickets-up-in-smoke-konzertfabrik-z7-pratteln-am-03-10-2019
http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1665
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1811016498954043/
https://www.upinsmoke.de

Lowrider, “Lameneshma” live at Desertfest Berlin 2017

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Up in Smoke 2019 Announces Amenra, The Obsessed, Lo-Pan, Mantar, No Mute and Hathors

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Here we are, it’s not even March yet, and already the Fall festival season is starting to take shape. We know Amenra will be around celebrating their 20th anniversary, and The Obsessed and Lo-Pan have already had other confirmations as well — possible they’re touring together? — and Mantar continue to get heavy rock bookings despite not at all being a heavy rock band, which is hilarious and ongoing in kind. Up in Smoke, like Keep it Low, is a Sound of Liberation-backed event, so it makes sense to find the likes of agency mainstays Greenleaf and My Sleeping Karma on the bill, and we already know Elephant Tree will have a new album out, so they’ll be touting that as they go. I don’t think they’re anywhere near done announcing bands for the now-three-dayer, but it already looks like a win. Simple as that.

And airfare, I guess.

Announcement from the fest follows, as seen on the social medias:

up in smoke 2019 banner

UP IN SMOKE – AMENRA + THE OBSESSED + MANTAR + LO-PAN + NO MUTE + HATHORS!

Smokers!
We’re back with a new batch of great bands, who are eager to share their great music with you. This time we’re also presenting the first Swiss bands for this year’s festival. Legendary Z7 offers two big stages and a fantastic atmosphere. It’s with big honour that we present the following bands for you;

AMENRA, one of Europe’s leading forces when we’re talking about post metal. Their live performances are legendary and the heaviness from their music will probably make you gasp for oxygen. With six critically acclaimed albums on their CV, lots of splits and a few EP’s there will for sure be expectations and also dedication from you guys. Drum beats that sounds like an explosion, guitar and bass riffs so heavy that they turn your gut upside down and then everything breaks down to a melodic paradise. That’s very much what Amenra is all about.

THE OBSESSED, do they really need an introduction? The band has broken up a few times and somehow Wino has continued to believe in the bands mission and reformed it every time after a few years break. Last time he reformed The Obsessed were in 2016, then he also signed a deal with Relapse records. In 2017, 23 years after “The Church Within”, they released “Sacred” which is their fourth studio album. We are happy to give you the opportunity to experience the bands doomy sound and the great voice of Wino.

MANTAR shocked the metal underground five years ago with their debut album “Death By Burning”. During the past five years the duos extreme music has convinced lovers of heavy music that this is the real deal. You may call the music what you want, the only thing we’re sure of is that it isn’t doom or sludge. The duo’s live performances are an energetic madness that doesn’t leave anybody emotionally untouched. Get ready for heavy riffs, uncompromising music and an intense stage show, these two guys are heavier than most other bands.

LO PAN is the band that you can play on your first date with somebody who say they doesn’t like heavy music. The guys know how to perfectly blend melodies with heavy riffs. There is that intensity in the band’s music and still they manage to keep these melodies in there. A great vocalist that has the power and a great stage personality where he tries to hide behind the drumkit. There is a new album right around the corner and that’s going to be massive. If you can’t wait any longer, just put on “Marathon Man” and push that volume knob to 11.

HATHORS is a trio from Winterthur that has released three albums since their formation in 2010. Sometimes they bring some punk rock herbs to their music, which normally is in the vein of rock/alternative rock. It’s a nerve to their music that infects you, the listener, with energy and the desire jump around and be a part of the party.

NO MUTE is a Swiss rock band formed in 2006. They are from a little town called Olten between Zurich and Berne. Their music is dirty, distorted and energetic, simply put hotter than hell. They go with the classic rock ‘n’ roll line-up with drums, bass, guitar and a spastic vocalist. This is all about the good live performance, they always try to give you the show of your lifetime.

https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte/36-tickets-up-in-smoke-konzertfabrik-z7-pratteln-am-03-10-2019
http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1665
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1811016498954043/
https://www.upinsmoke.de

Lo-Pan, Live in Cleveland, OH, Jan. 5, 2019

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Review & Full Album Premiere: Sons of Morpheus, The Wooden House Session

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

SONS OF MORPHEUS THE WOODEN HOUSE SESSION

[Click play above to stream Sons of Morpheus’ The Wooden House Session in its entirety. It’s out Feb. 22 on Sixteentimes Music.]

It happened, as one might imagine, in a wooden house. The proverbial cottage in the forest, to which a band withdraws to remove themselves from the distractions of real life, society, obligations of employment and/or family, and all the rest of everything that’s not making music, in order to trap themselves into a creative mindset. In the case of Swiss trio Sons of Morpheus, The Wooden House Session is the second release they’ve been able to cull from undertaking this experience early in 2018 — the first was a split with Berlin’s Samavayo dubbed The Fuzz Charger Split (discussed here) that came out last May — and its six-track/33-minute run speaks to both the intimacy and the urgency of the experience, as the band self-recorded and effectively captured a live feel in so doing. Part of what let them do that might be owed to the fact that Schüxenhaus Ins, where they tracked, is also a venue hosting shows.

So maybe it’s not so much the getting-lost-on-purpose impulse as it was they found a cool spot and dug the surrounding way-out vibe, but either way, as guitarist/vocalist Manuel Bissig, bassist Lukas Kurmann (who also mixed) and drummer Rudy Kink embark on The Wooden House Session, they nonetheless play to the narrative of working to get out of their own heads as a collective and pursue something truly special as a band — to discover who they are. That may be what The Wooden House Session does, and if it is, fair enough. It’s their third album behind 2017’s engaging Nemesis and their 2014 self-titled debut, and so a kind of natural maturing point five years on from their first record, and with a somewhat rawer tone in the guitar and bass, they’re able to bring a grunge sensibility to tracks like “Loner” and “Nowhere to Go” in a way that the slicker production of Nemesis likely wouldn’t. Dirtying up their sound works in their favor.

That’s shown quickly as the introductory “Doomed Cowboy” melds together the Western-style imagery of the album’s artwork with the foreboding atmosphere and the dense tonality toward which its title hints. In the span of a little more than three minutes, its effective wash of crash cymbals becomes surrounded by siren guitars and full-on noise assault as a sludgy march takes hold and deconstructs to abrasive feedback and noise. It’s nasty, but it’s supposed to be, and it doesn’t last long before Kurmann‘s bass starts the bounce of “Loner,” which gets under way with more scorching lead lines from Bissig, swinging drums from Kink, and the album’s first vocal lines. Those familiar with the band will already know the primacy of Queens of the Stone Age as an influence in Bissig‘s vocals and in some of the style of riffing.

sons of morpheus

It’s less true on The Wooden House Session than it was on Nemesis, and whether that’s owed to the circumstances of the recording or just a general result of having toured more and worked to develop a more individual approach, it suits him and the band as a whole. “Loner” plays back and forth between restrained verses and a let-loose hook, but grows spacious in its back half, with a solo taking hold over broad-sounding echoes, and a concluding bluesy lick that speaks of some of the ground later to be covered on the extended closer “Slave (Never Ending Version).” Before they get there, “Paranoid Reptiloid” digs into my personal all-time favorite conspiracy theory, which is that of the lizard people secretly running the earth and using humans as food and fuel — otherwise known as capitalism — amid another right on hook and a more extended instrumental break that gets suitably freaked out for the subject matter, held to earth somewhat by the punctuation of a cowbell amid the barrage of crash, but still churning in a way that Sons of Morpheus haven’t yet showed on The Wooden House Session. They draw it back to the chorus deftly at the end, underlining that their priority is songcraft, which again, holds true until the finale.

The fuzz on “Nowhere to Go” is particularly satisfying, and arrives in surges of volume that answer multi-layered vocal lines with a fervent sense of strut before the track turns to its more fully-toned midsection and a rousing melodic ending. The Wooden House Session, very subtly, has been toying with structure all along, and it continues to do so with “Nowhere to Go,” but especially with the push in the second half, it’s arguably the most switched-on summary of the album’s appeal. They back it with the shorter, catchy “Sphere,” which serves as a penultimate moment of straightforward push before “Slave (Never Ending Version)” takes hold. It’s arguably the most Songs for the Deaf that Sons of Morpheus get, but by the time they’re there, the context of what surrounds is enough to still make it their own. And that’s only more true when one considers “Slave (Never Ending Version)” behind it. A shorter edit of the track appeared on The Fuzz Charger Split, but the full spread of it here tops 13 minutes and becomes a defining moment for The Wooden House Session, fluidly turning from the verse/chorus trades of its early going to a free-sounding exploration that makes its way farther and farther out as it goes.

They ride the central riff and the chorus progression for a while, then over time let it d/evolve into its own space, the change happening right around the nine-minute mark as Sons of Morpheus make it clear that no, they’re not coming back this time. The last few minutes of “Slave (Never Ending Version)” are given to building a jam up to a considerable wash of noise and then letting it end naturally, and as they do, they highlight not only a strength they haven’t yet really shown on the album — i.e. for jamming — but further capture the atmosphere and narrative of The Wooden House Session‘s making. This organic sensibility has been at root in the material all along, but “Slave (Never Ending Version)” brings it forward in such a way as to make it the perfect capstone for the release and the listening experience. Their titling the album after where/how it was made would seem to hint to it being something of a one-off outside the normal album cycle. If that’s the case or not, there are valuable lessons for the band to learn from its construction, and one hopes those carry into whatever it might be they do next.

Sons of Morpheus on Thee Facebooks

Sons of Morpheus on Instagram

Sons of Morpheus on Bandcamp

Sons of Morpheus website

Sixteentimes Music website

Tags: , , , , ,

Monkey3: New Album Sphere Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monkey3

It was announced this past Fall that Swiss progressive heavy instrumentalists Monkey3 would hit the road with Samsara Blues Experiment this March, and now we know a little bit more about why. Their new album, Sphere, is set to release April 12 through Napalm Records and is up for preorder now. For a band who are more than 15 years removed from their debut album, they continue to be something of a well kept secret of Europe’s heavy underground — at least to those outside of it — but their last full-length, 2016’s Astra Symmetry (review here), was easily their most progressive outing yet, and they followed it with the 2017 Live at Freak Valley offering, so between that and the ample touring they’ve done all the while, they head into Sphere with some solid momentum behind them. One hopes they continue to build on their litany of accomplishments over the better part of this decade.

The PR wire brought album details and the preorder link:

monkey3 sphere

MONKEY3 To Release New Album “Sphere” April 12th via Napalm Records

Pre-Orders Available Now

Heavy Psych-Rock from Outer Space
Your Mind-Blowing Trip to the Universe

Instrumental rockers MONKEY3 have buckled up for their next interstellar journey. After the success of the 2016 album “Astra Symmetry,” the Swiss four piece continues its cosmic journey of space rock, psychedelic, stoner and progressive on their 6th full length studio album “Sphere”.

MONKEY3 describes the new album:
“Spiraling out of a majestic landscape & its untamed environment, ‘Sphere’ stands for an abstract interpretation of nature’s phenomenons, their geometric patterns, and colorful elements.

The backbone of MONKEY3’s new album is a solid axis around which revolves a multitude of distinct atmospheres – like a wild journey along a winding road – sometimes brutal, sometimes sublime. Here the instrumental roots of the band refract in a prismatic soundscape where each musical beam finds its own space; and yet at the same time they all come together to weave a massive wall of sound. Moreover a feminine & graceful touch enhances the overall artwork, allowing the audience to travel through a wide panel – from the depths of Death Valley to the magnitude of Mount Ida – like a cosmic trip through a meditative canal. And whatever this opus might be, “Sphere” could be reminiscent of an ellipsis in which one omits part of what is being said in order for the listener to fill in the blanks with one’s own imagination, and make it its own.”

Today, MONKEY3 unveils the album cover and the tracklist.

Pre Order “Sphere” HERE!

Tracklist:
1. Spirals
2. Axis
3. Prism
4. Mass (feat. Bumblefoot)
5. Ida
6. Ellipsis

“Sphere” will be available in the following formats:
-4 Page Digipack
-2LP Gatefold
-LP Deluxe Box, including Double-LP Gatefold + 1 LP Bonus LP Gatefold + Slipmat
-Digital Album

In March, MONKEY3 will hit the road together with Samsara Blues Experiment:
w/ Samsara Blues Experiment
29.03.19 DE – Cologne / Helios 37
30.03.19 BE – Antwerp / Zappa
31.03.19 NL – Nijmegen / Doornroosje
01.04.19 FR – Paris / Petit Bain
03.04.19 FR – Toulouse / Rex
05.04.19 DE – Stuttgart / JH Hallschlag
06.04.19 DE – Jena / F-Haus
07.04.19 DE – Dresden / Beatpol
08.04.19 DE – Munich / Feierwerk
09.04.19 CH – Zuerich / Rote Fabrik
10.04.19 AT – Vienna / Arena
11.04.19 CH- Budapest / A38
12.04.19 AT – Salzburg / Rockhouse
13.04.19 DE – Aschaffenburg / Colos-Saal

30.04.19 CH – Pratteln / Z7 Konzertfabrik
10.05.19 FR – Guéret / Metal Culture(s) Festival
02.08.19 FR – Monestier-de-Clermont / Stade Régis Perrin
03.08.19 FR – Saint-Maurice-de-Gourdans / Sylak Open Air
10.08.19 DE – Balve / German Kultrock Festival

MONKEY3 are:
Walter – drums
Kevin – bass
Boris – guitar
dB – keys

https://www.facebook.com/monkey3band/
http://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/store/monkey3
http://label.napalmrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Monkey3, Live at Freak Valley (2017)

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: A Storm of Light, Z/28, Forrest, 1476, Owl, Brass Hearse, Craneium & Black Willows, Magmakammer, Falun Gong, Max Tovstyi

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

quarterly-review

Day Two of the Quarterly-Review-Mega-Super-Ultra-Year-End-Wrap-Up-Spectacular-Gnarly-Edition — name in progress — begins now. First day? Smooth. Wrote it over the weekend to get a jump on the week, cruised through a morning and into baby-naps, finished with time left over to still go and read the Star Trek novel I’m currently making my way through. Easy. Also peasy.

Today? Well, apparently I turned off my alarm in my sleep because I rolled over 40 minutes later and certainly didn’t remember it going off. Whoops. Not a great start, but there is a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so we’ll get through it, even if it’s awfully early in the week to be sleeping in. Ha.

Have a great day everybody. Here are 10 more records for the QRMSUYEWUSGE. Rolls right off the tongue.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

A Storm of Light, Anthroscene

A Storm of Light Anthroscene

“America the sick and crumbling/Liberty she’s weeping/The tired and poor are huddled and dying/As the wretched ones are touched aside.” The lines, from A Storm of Light‘s “Blackout” — the second cut from their fifth LP, Anthroscene (on Translation Loss) — lead to the inevitable question: “What the fuck is wrong with us?,” and thereby summarize the central sociopolitical framework of the record. A dystopian thematic suits the band’s aesthetic, and there’s certainly no shortage of material to work from between current events and future outlook. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/graphic artist Josh Graham, bassist Domenic Seita and guitarist/keyboardist Dan Hawkins are five years removed from the band’s last outing, however, so their post-apocalyptic post-metal is welcome either way, and Anthroscene taps a Killing Joke influence and turns it to its dark and churning purposes over the course of its eight tracks/51 minutes, delving into harsh shouts on “Short Term Feedback” and capping with the resistance-filled “Rosebud,” which surges forth from ambience like the anti-facist/anti-capitalist critique that it is, ending with the lyric, “When you die, we will spit on your grave,” which could hardly be more appropriate.

A Storm of Light on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss Records on Bandcamp

 

Z28, Nobody Rides for Free

Z28 Nobody Rides for Free

Massachusetts’ Z28 — also stylized as Z/28 and Z-28; I don’t think they care so long as you get the point they’re named after the Camaro — make their full-length debut with Nobody Rides for Free on Fuzzdoom Records, and with the occasional bit of organ on songs like “Touch of Evil” and “Angst III (I Don’t Want to Die),” they nonetheless give a raw take on heavy rock laced with that particularly Northeastern aggression. Guitarist Jeff Hayward (also organ), bassist/acoustic guitarist/engineer Jason Negro and drummer Breaux Silcio all contribute vocals to the outing, and yet the minute-long instrumental intro tells much of the story of what it’s about in terms of the chemistry between them. Impressive guitar solos are rampant throughout, and the rhythm section carries over a weighted groove through cuts like “Wandering” that’s fluid in tempo but still able to create an overarching flow between the tracks. I’ll give bonus points for the Black Sabbath nods in the multi-layered lead work toward the end of “Spirit Elk (Lord of the Hunt)” as well as the title “Keep on Rockin’ (In the Invisible World),” and Z28 have something to build on here in terms of songwriting and that chemistry. It’s raw-sounding, but that doesn’t necessarily hurt it.

Z28 on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzdoom Records on Bandcamp

 

Forrest, Kickball with Russians

forrest kickball with russians

Granted, Forrest telegraph some measure of quirk by naming their debut EP Kickball with Russians, but the four-piece from Lexington, Kentucky, still seem to be rolling along in a straightforward-enough manner on six-minute instrumental opener and longest track (immediate points) “(I Dream of) Kickball with Russians,” until the keyboards start in. That turn gives their EP an edge of the unexpected that continues to inform “DAN,” “Deew” and the closing “My Son Looks Just Like Me,” and “DAN” continues the thread with gang shouts popping up over its chugging progression and receding again after about two words to let the track get quiet and build back up. And is that a velociraptor at the start of “Deew?” Either way, that song’s Mr. Bungle-style angularity, a return of the keys and intermittent heavy nod work to underscore the willful weirdness that’s very much at play in the four-piece’s work, and the closer adds Ween-style effects work into the mix while still keeping a heavy presence in tone and lumber. They’ll get weirder with time, but this is a good start toward that goal.

Forrest on Thee Facebooks

Forrest on Bandcamp

 

1476, Our Season Draws Near

1476 our season draws near

Coastal melancholy and a pervasive sense of atmosphere seem to unite the varied tracks on 1476‘s 2017 Prophecy release, Our Season Draws Near, which otherwise draw across their span from goth rock, punk, doom and extreme metal, able to blur the line especially between punk and black metal on songs like “Ettins” while acoustics pervade “Solitude (Exterior)” en route to the Anathema-gone-char rasps of “Solitude (Interior)” a short time later. I know I’m late to the party on the Salem, MA, duo, and likewise late on this record, but from opener “Our Silver Age” to closer “Our Ice Age” to the “Solitude” pairing to “Winter of Winds” — finally: David Bowie fronts Joy Division — and “Winter of Wolves,” there’s so much of Our Season Draws Near that has a bigger-picture thought process behind its construction that its impact is multi-tiered. And it’s not just that they pit genres against each other in their sound, it’s that their sound brings them together toward something new and malleable to the purposes of their songwriting. Not to be missed, so this is me, not missing it. Even though I kind of missed it.

1476 on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Nights in Distortion

owl nights in distortion

Joined on Nights in Distortion by bassist René Marquis as well as longtime drummer Patrick Schroeder, guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Christian Kolf (also Valborg) greatly expands his former solo-ish-project Owl with their second release of 2018 behind March’s Orion Fenix EP (review here), bringing together elements of post-metal churn with deeply atmospheric sensibilities, cuts like “Transparent Moment” churning as much as they are surprising with their underlying melody. A Type O Negative influence continues to be worked into their sometimes grueling context, but it’s hard to listen to the keyboard-laced “Inanna in Isolation” and hear Owl being anything other than who they’ve become, and their third album is the most distinct statement of that yet, airy lead guitars floating over a still-fervent, industrial-style chug amid vocals veering from barking shouts to quiet, low-register semi-spoken fare and cleaner singing. Nights in Distortion is the evolving work of a mastermind, captured in progress.

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Temple of Torturous website

 

Brass Hearse, Hollow on the Surface

Brass Hearse Hollow on the Surface

Synth-laden heavy horror garage dance rock could probably use a more succinct genre name, but while those in charge of such things sit and scratch their butts, Boston’s Brass Hearse carve out a niche unto themselves with their second EP, Hollow on the Surface. The five-track offering is in and out in 14 minutes but wants nothing for either a show of craft or arrangement, tapping into psych-folk in the strummy interlude “Dwellers in the Static Valley” after the hook-led “Death by Candlelight” and before the John Carpenter-style pulsations that underscore “The Thing from Another World.” Opener “Fading” is the only song to top four minutes and has a distinctly progressive take, but while it and the organ-ic closer “Headaches & Heartbreaks” has a theatricality to it, Brass Hearse are too cohesive to charge with being weird for weirdness’ sake, and their experimentation is presented in complete, engaging songs, rather than self-indulgent collections of parts mashed together. Would love to hear what they do over the course of a full-length.

Brass Hearse on Thee Facebooks

Playing Records on Bandcamp

 

Craneium & Black Willows, Split

Different missions from Finland’s Craneium and Switzerland’s Black Willows on their BloodRock Records split. Craneium nod through “Your Law” and mark their second inclusion, “Try, Fail, Repeat,” with a Sabbathian swing that only kicks up in tempo as it moves through its five minutes. Black Willows, on the other hand, present a single track in the 19-minute, noise-soaked post-everything “Bliss,” which trades back and forth between minimalism and crushing riffs en route to a consuming wash and long, long, long fadeout. Released in March, the outing showcases both bands well, but one is left wondering where the connection is between the two of them that they’d come together for a joint vinyl release. Either way, I won’t detract from what they do individually, whether it’s the catchiness of “Your Law” and the jam in its second half or “Bliss” with its frost-covered expanse of tonality, it’s just a marked leap from side A to side B. Maybe that was the idea all along, and if that’s the case, then one can only say they succeeded.

Craneium on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

BloodRock Records on Bandcamp

 

Magmakammer, Mind Tripper

magmakammer mindtripper

Following a 2015 self-titled debut EP, Oslo trio Magmakammer align with Kozmik Artifactz for their first long-player, Mindtripper, and so effect a garage doom sound that’s quickly relatable to Uncle Acid on songs like “Fat Saturn” and the chug-shuffling “Along the Crooked Roads.” Where they distinguish themselves from this core influence, though, is in the density of their tones, as opener “Druggernaut” and the rolling “Acid Times” prove thicker in their charge. Still, there’s no mistaking that swing and the blown-out sound of the vocals. Closer “Cosmic Dancers,” which is one of two tracks over seven minutes long, shows more dynamic in its loud/quiet tradeoffs, and resolves itself in a righteous nodder of a riff. It’s essentially in the same vein, but still displaying some emerging personality of Magmakammer‘s own that one hopes they continue to develop. And in the meantime, the foundation of craft and stylistic awareness they hone is still welcome, familiar or not.

Magmakammer on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz webstore

 

Falun Gong, Figure 2

Falun Gong Figure 2

Mystique isn’t easy to come by in this Age of Access, but the anonymous London-dwelling duo Falun Gong have succeeded in piquing interest with their two-to-date singles, “Figure 1” (review here), and the eight-minute “Figure 2,” which like its predecessor is raw in the recording, sounds like it was performed live, and follows a trance-inducing course of riffing. The central groove is a slow march that makes its way through obscure voices delivered in buried fashion — the whole thing may or may not be mastered; somehow I’m thinking not, but I’ve been wrong before — through a self-aware drift that rounds out following a soulful culmination fitting the song’s lyrical theme, which would seem to be tied to the cover art about baptism in a river’s waters. There’s just something off-kilter about Falun Gong to this point, and while it’s still early going for them, they bring an eerie persona to their work that feels less performative than it so often does.

Falun Gong on Bandcamp

 

Max Tovstyi, Mesmerize

Max Tovstyi Mesmerize

Though he’s had a slew of live outings out with the Max Tovstyi Blues Band and the Max Tovstyi Blues Association, Mesmerize (LP on Nasoni) is the Ukrainian heavy blues rocker’s first solo studio outing since 2014. He’s credited with all the instruments on the 10- or 12-track offering save for a couple arrangement-flourish guest appearances, and he pulls in a classic spirit and full-band sound without any trouble on a moody piece like “World of Sin” or the bonus track “Show Me the Way,” which isn’t a Peter Frampton cover so far as I can tell but still has plenty of guitar scorch to go around. “From the Blues to the Funk” jams its way along its stated trajectory, and “Feel Like Dying Now” brings together organ and keys in a fashion far less dramatized than one might initially think. With a clean production, Tovstyi — also known for his work in The Heavy Crawls, Lucifer Rising, and others — carries through his sentimentality for blues rock’s past and finds himself well at home leading the pack of guest vocalists on “Make Up Your Mind,” which closes the album proper with a semi-country twang and sweet melody.

Max Tovstyi on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

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

Quarterly Review: Trippy Wicked, Dunbarrow, The Vintage Caravan, Zatokrev & Minsk, Owl Maker, Orbital Junction, Bourbon, Birnam Wood, Wytch Hazel, The Soulbreaker Company

Posted in Reviews on December 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

You know how this goes by now, right? Well, okay, except that because I skipped the Quarterly Review that I otherwise would’ve done in September (or, more likely, October), I’m doubling-up this time. 100 reviews instead of 50. Two full weeks of 10 albums per day. Will I survive? Yeah, probably. Will it be completely overwhelming? Already is. Thanks for asking.

I’ll save the summaries of the year that was for list-time, which is fast approaching, but consider the fact that there are well more than 100 albums I could include in this roundup emblematic of just how vibrant heavy rock and doom are in the US, EU, UK, Australia and elsewhere. It’s a universal thing, and accordingly, there’s a whole universe of it to explore. This is just a sampling.

But yeah, time’s a wastin’, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Stakes n Scale

trippy wicked stakes n scale

An acoustic EP from Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight — who, let’s face it, were way ahead of the curve when it comes to the UK scene’s thing for long and ridiculous band names — is a considerable departure from where they were two years ago on their split/collaboration with GurT (review here), but those familiar with the band might recall their past penchant for the occasional unplugged cover recorded for YouTube. Chris West (also Crawling for Carrion, Glanville, etc.), who engineered the recording and plays guitar, and vocalist Peter Holland (also Elephant Tree) revamp Trippy Wicked‘s “Up the Stakes” from 2012’s Going Home (review here), and cover “Scale the Mountain” by Stubb, of which both were members when the song was written. Together, they make for a nine-minute showcase for the character in Holland‘s voice and the melodies and craft at root in both tracks, and while its arrival feels like kind of a one-off, it’s certainly no less welcome for that.

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Bandcamp

 

Dunbarrow, II

dunbarrow ii

The novelty of new bands playing through vintage gear in order to capture a heavy ’70s sound may have faded, but like all subgenres, as time goes on, the retro-ist style continues to shift and change as bands like Dunbarrow bring new character to established tenets. Their second LP for RidingEasy is aptly-titled II and sways between honoring the likes of Pentagram and acts like Witchcraft who’ve helped craft that band’s hindsight-founded legacy. Dunbarrow‘s noodly style, restrained rhythmic shove and ride-the-riff melody on “Weary Lady” and the foresty creep of “The Demon Within” capture the vibe well, the latter occurring in a second half of II populated with “The Wolf” and “Witches of the Woods Pt. II,” a sequel to the closer of their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) that here leads to the more severe roll of the finale, “On this Night,” emblematic of the changing character of the band even as it reaffirms in its tense midsection the roots from which they sprung.

Dunbarrow on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

The Vintage Caravan, Gateways

the vintage caravan gateways

With their third record and second for Nuclear Blast, Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan affirm not only their passion for the boogie of old on cuts like “The Way” and the strutting “Hidden Streams,” but secure a place as being worthy of the consideration they’ve been given to a degree by the wider Continental European heavy underground. They are strikingly mature in their approach for still being a relatively young band, and their albums have worked quickly to develop a character that is becoming more and more their own. They do the fests and they tour, and so on, but they seem to be engaged in building their listenership one pair of ears at a time. Having a metal-major label behind them hasn’t hurt their promotional cause, but frankly, they’re not as big as they should be for the level of work they’re doing, and even with songs like “Reset” and “Reflections” and the composed-strictly-for-vinyl-sounding closer “Tune Out” to their credit, they’re still largely a word of mouth band, especially in the US. Well, consider this your word of mouth. If you haven’t heard Gateways yet, you should get on that.

The Vintage Caravan on Thee Facebooks

The Vintage Caravan at Nuclear Blast

 

Minsk & Zatokrev, Bigod

zatokrev minsk bigod

Post-metallic powerhouses Minsk and Zatokrev — both of whom hit their 15th anniversary last year — teamed up for a European tour this Fall. To mark the occasion, Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets celebrated with Bigod, a split with two tracks from each band arranged in alternating order — Minsk, then Zatokrev, etc. — intended to highlight the symmetry between them not just of circumstance and root influence in the Neurosis school of atmospheric sludge, but the fact that they share these commonalities despite their origins in Illinois and Switzerland, respectively. Each band opens with a longer track (double points) in Minsk‘s “Invoke/Revive” and Zatokrev‘s “Silent Gods,” each of which push past 13 minutes as likely at any moment to be pummeling as ambient, and follows with two shorter cuts, Minsk‘s “Salvatore” swelling theatrically from its minimalist beginnings while Zatokrev‘s “The Chalice and the Dagger” seems to explode from the foundation the prior band laid out. It must have been a hell of a tour, but whether you saw it or not, the split is a welcome conglomeration from two of post-metal’s strongest acts.

Minsk on Thee Facebooks

Zatokrev on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

Czar of Crickets Productions website

 

Owl Maker, Sky Road

owl maker sky road

Self-recording guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, ex-Guerra, etc.) leads Connecticut-based three-piece Owl Maker through a complex thematic of Native American folklore and heavy metal classicism. The NWOBHM plays a strong role in his riffing style, but one of the two tracks included on the two-songer single Sky Road, “Owl City,” also veers into more extreme territory with a departure from clean vocals to harsher screaming. All told, it’s about eight minutes of music, but Sky Road nonetheless follows Owl Maker‘s earlier-2018 EP, Paths of the Slain (review here), with an uptick in melodic presence in the vocals of Tuozzoli and bassist Jessie May and progression in the chemistry between the two of them and drummer Chris Anderson, and with the fluidity of their transitions between various styles of heavy, their scope seems only to be growing. To wit, “Sky Road” itself is only 3:42, but still demonstrates a clear-headed compositional method based around storytelling and a subtly encompassing range. Whether it’s early warning for what they do next or a conceptual one-off, its quick run seems just to be begging for a 7″ pressing.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Orbital Junction, Orbital Junction

Orbital Junction orbital junction

The Londonderground continues to produce acts ready and willing to worship at the altar of riffs. Orbital Junction‘s self-release debut EP makes an impression not only because of the markedly pro-shop production by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios and the cover art by SoloMacello, but the hooks to live up to those high standards. “6 ft. 2” follows opener “Space Highway” with a bit of dudely chestbeating — note: I don’t know how tall any of them actually are — but the swing of EP centerpiece “Devil’s Double” and the bounce of “Gypsy Queen” speak for the four-piece’s roots and appreciation of straightforward heavy, void of pretense and tapping into an easy mid-paced fluidity that slows up somewhat on closer “Pagan” without really losing the central groove of the offering overall. They’ll have their work cut out for them in distinguishing themselves over the longer term amongst London’s burl-fueled hordes, but their first outing shows their instincts headed in the right direction in terms of songwriting, performance and presentation.

Orbital Junction on Thee Facebooks

Orbital Junction on Bandcamp

 

Bourbon, Fuente Vieja

Bourbon Fuente Vieja

Crisp but warm in its tone and presentation, rife with melody and carrying a laid back spirit despite a fervent underlying groove — the bass on “El Sendero” rests well within gotta-hear-it territory — Spanish purveyors Bourbon emobody some of the best of post-Viaje a 800 Andalusian heavy rock and roll on their third LP, Fuente Vieja (on Spinda). Their fuzz makes its presence known early on “Si Véis La Luz, Corred” and continues as a running theme as tracks like “A Punto de Arder” and the side-A-capping title-cut grow increasingly progressive. There’s room for some shuffle, of course, as side B begins with “La Triste Realidad,” and the slower “Hacia el Sol” gracefully blends electrified wah and acoustic guitars beneath a well-timed standout vocal performance, but the highlight might be eight-minute closer “Destierro,” which seems to bring everything else under one roof while tapping into a poppier structure early — acoustics and electrics aligning effectively circa two minutes in — while providing the album with a graceful and fittingly organic-sounding finale.

Bourbon on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records webstore

 

Birnam Wood, Wicked Worlds

birnam wood wicked worlds

Birnam Wood don’t have time for bullshit, but they do have time for a bit of shenanigans. Thus the 1:44 surge of opener “Time of Purification” leads into the sample-laden roller groove of “Richard Dreyfuss” on their as-of-now-self-released Wicked Worlds, and the “Hole in the Sky”-style “Dunsinane” shifts into the more blown-out “Early Warning,” which, by the time its tectonic low end kicks in, is indeed something of a clarion. At seven-tracks/34-minutes, Wicked Worlds is somewhere between an EP and an LP, but I’d argue it as the latter with the flow from “Greenseer” into the massive “A Song for Jorklum” and the seven-minute finale “Return to Samarkand” making for a righteous side B, but either way, it’s a Boston-crafted assault of grit-tone and aggro doom that finds the band not overwhelmed by the heft of their own tones but able to move and manipulate them to serve the purposes of their songs. Those purposes, incidentally, are mostly about kicking ass. Which they do. Copiously.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

Wytch Hazel, II: Sojourn

Wytch Hazel II Soujorn

It would not seem to be a coincidence that UK self-aware four-piece Wytch Hazel — guitarists Conlin Hendra (also vocals) and Alex Haslam, bassist Matt Gatley and drummer Jack Spencer nod to Wishbone Ash‘s Argus with the cover of their second LP, II: Sojourn (on Bad Omen). They do a lot of that kind of nodding, with a sound culled from a valiant blend of classic progressive and early NWOBHM styles that makes the point of how closely related the two have always been. “The Devil is Here” starts out at a fervent gallop with just an underpinning of Thin Lizzy, while the later “See My Demons” shifts from its steady roll and rousing hook into an acoustic/electric break that seems to pull from Jethro Tull as much as Scorpions. At 10 tracks/45 minutes, they have plenty of time to flesh out their ideas, and they do precisely that, whether it’s the careful unfolding around the keys and acoustics of closer “Angel Take Me” or the over-the-top instrumental push of “Chorale” or the moodier “Wait on the Wind,” the wah solo of which is a highlight on its own. There are some burgeoning harmonies in Hendra‘s vocals, which is an impulse he should follow as it would only enhance the material, but after making their debut with 2016’s Prelude, II: Sojourn finds Wytch Hazel sounding comfortable and well established in their niche.

Wytch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light

the soulbreaker company sewed with light

Progressive, expansive and engaging, the sixth album from Spanish sextet The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light (on Underground Legends), taps into classically Floydian influences on songs like “The Word, the Blade” while still keeping a foot in heavy rock on the prior “Together,” and setting a quick course into a varied sonic persona via the seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Inner Dark.” Hypnotizing not necessarily with drift but with sheer willful exploration, The Soulbreaker Company work with a variety of key sounds and craft-minded ranging guitar in order to effect an atmosphere of thoughtful songwriting even in their most outwardly trippy moments. The sneering semi-psychedelic rock of “Avoid the Crash” and the more stripped-down roll of “Arrhythmia” (video premiere here) lead the way into closer “In the Beginning,” which marks yet another departure with its grandeur of string sounds and electronic beats leading to a chugging big finale. As with the bulk of The Soulbreaker Company‘s work, it requires an active ear, but Sewed with Light both encourages and well earns consideration as more than background noise.

The Soulbreaker Company on Thee Facebooks

Underground Legends on Bandcamp

 

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

Up in Smoke 2018 Completes Lineup; Witchcraft, Glanville, The Well, Farflung & The New Death Cult Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

up in smoke 2018 final banner

That’s a wrap on the lineup for Up in Smoke 2018, and it’s a doozy. Up and coming acts like MessaHumulus and Glanville meet with established purveyors in Acid KingThe WellElder and Sasquatch, newbie psych lords Naxatras, scumriffers Dopethrone and a slew of others across a stylistic swath that should be well enough to hold even the most fickle of feet in place over the two-day stretch in Switzerland. Plus Ancestors are gonna be there. And Farflung. Looks like a solid way to spend a weekend and then some.

Sound of Liberation, which puts on this fest and numerous others, has a last batch of bands added in one more round, and it’s Witchcraft near the top of the bill as well as the aforementioned GlanvilleFarflungThe Well and The New Death Cult, the latter of whom I know absolutely nothing but who seem to be on the right page mission-wise.

Announcement came down the PR wire:

up in smoke 2018 final poster

UP IN SMOKE 2018 – WITCHCRAFT & 4 MORE BANDS COMPLETE THE LINE-UP!

Yes, it’s true, you read it right, and we are very excited to share this great news with you all today!

UP IN SMOKE, Switzerland’s annual and finest Stoner, Fuzz, Doom and Heavy Psychedelic Rock Festival, has announced the final bands for 2018! The following highclass acts have just been added to close this year’s festival edition:

Sweden’s Heavy Rock legends WITCHCRAFT will perform an exclusive show at UP in SMOKE at Z7 in Pratteln! The band has barely played any live shows in the last years, so it’s more than a great honor to have them at this year’s UP IN SMOKE Festival VOL VI next month!

Some more sweet acts are added to the bill as well:

The outstanding spacerock cult band FARFLUNG, Texas finest heavy psych blues combo THE WELL and heavy hard rockers GLANVILLE will join Switzerland’s most heavy rocking party of the year. Last but not least UP IN SMOKE has added another surprise act! THE NEW DEATH CULT is here to crush hate, injustice, environmental destruction and greed with universal peace & love. Join the cult at UP IN SMOKE!

The line-up is now complete and features 20 amazing bands! Day Split will be unveiled within 10 days, but you should grab your 2-day pass while you still can! Taking place at the famous Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland, between October 5 – 6th 2018, tickets are available HERE!

Join the cult at UP IN SMOKE FESTIVAL VOL VI.

The line-up is now complete and features 20 amazing bands! Day Split will be unveiled within 10 days, but you should GRAB YOUR 2-DAY PASS while you still can!

www.upinsmoke.de
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7/
https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte
https://soundofliberation.com

Witchcraft, “The Outcast”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Minsk & Zatokrev to Release BIGOD Oct. 5

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

minsk

zatokrev

It’s never easy to coordinate, but when two bands get together and put out a split release with some collaboration between them, the results can really become something special. Illinois-based post-metallers Minsk and Swiss contemporaries Zatokrev will issue the conjoined outing, BIGOD, on Oct. 5 through Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets, and it’s all the more of an occasion for the fact that each band features a guest appearance from the other on their portion. Pretty cool stuff. Both groups had records out last in 2015, and they’ll support BIGOD with a European tour together presented by Dead Pig that is set to kick off on Oct. 18 with a release show for the split.

Latest albums are streaming below, following the art and info from the PR wire, which is right here:

zatokrev minsk bigod

BIGOD – new split album by Minsk and Zatokrev

We feel honored to announce that the new split album from Minsk and Zatokrev is gonna be released on October 5th via Consouling Sounds and Czar Of Crickets Productions.

Two bands from two continents, two very different worlds and histories, but in many ways they have occupied parallel universes. Both have forged their own paths forward for over fifteen years. Both have released four albums. Both seek transcendence and deep places in their explorations, uncompromising in their vision, both reveling in their beautiful noise.

On BIGOD, Minsk (USA) and Zatokrev (CH/EU) deliver a joint effort, a deliberative and collaborative intention to reflect their innermost expressions, another search for deeper meaning in the here and now through beautiful psychedelic melancholy paired with the heaviest walls of sound and creative destructiveness. Their shared passion and aesthetics gave rise to the idea for the split album BIGOD. The work creates a new spirit, one who unites two dark souls and joins two paths into one. Here, both bands contribute two epic songs, both receiving vocal support from the other.

To complete the work, Parisian artist, Max Loriot, has created an extraordinary visual realization of BIGOD’s theme, a compelling and interpretive take on the allegorical story of Elijah’s fiery chariot. Two horses with their own will, a burning chariot with no horseman, the spirit fire of creation.

Furthermore Dead Pig Entertainment just announced an exclusive BIGOD Europe Tour for autumn.

Minsk/Zatokrev BIGOD Europe Tour
Oct 18th: BE-Ghent, Charlatan (Release party by Consouling Sounds)
Oct 19th: NL-Leuwaarden, Into The Void Festival
Oct 20th: DE-Oldenburg, MTS Records
Oct 21st: PL-Poznan, U Bazyla
Oct 22nd: PL-Krakow, TBA
Oct 23rd: CZ-Prague, Underdogs
Oct 24th: CRO-Zagreb, Mo?vara
Oct 25th: GR-Athens, Kyttaro (Minsk only)
Oct 26th: BG-Sofia, Mixtape 5
Oct 27th: SR-Belgrade, Elektropionir
Oct 28th: HUN-Budapest, Dürer Kert
Oct 29th: SK-Bratislava, Randal Club
Oct 30th: DE-Leipzig, Bandhaus
Oct 31rd: DE-Karlsruhe, Dudefest
Nov 01st: CH-Bulle, Ebullition
Nov 02nd: CH-Basel, Kaserne (Release show by Czar Of Crickets)
Nov 3rd: CH-Winterthur, Gaswerk
Nov 17th: FR-Tyrant Fest, (Zatokrev only)

https://thesoundofminsk.com
https://www.facebook.com/Minsk
http://www.zatokrev.com
https://www.facebook.com/ZATOKREV/
https://consouling.be
https://www.facebook.com/ConsoulingSounds/
http://czarofcrickets.com
https://www.facebook.com/czarofcrickets/

Zatokrev, Silk Spiders Underwater… (2015)

Minsk, The Crash and the Draw (2015)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,