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

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

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

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

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

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primordial, Exile Amongst the Ruins

primordial exile amongst the ruins

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

Primordial on Thee Facebooks

Primordial at Metal Blade website

 

Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need

dead meadow The Nothing They Need

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

Dead Meadow on Thee Facebooks

Xemu Records website

 

Taarna, Sanguine Ash

taarna sanguine ash

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

Taarna on Thee Facebooks

Taarna on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure

maidavale madness is too pure

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

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Willows, Bliss

black willows bliss

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

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Bandcamp

 

Craang, Shine

craang shine

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

Craang on Thee Facebooks

Craang on Bandcamp

 

Fuzz Lord, Fuzz Lord

Fuzz Lord fuzz lord

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

Fuzz Lord on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzdoom Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Marijannah, Till Marijannah

Marijannah till marijannah

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

Marijannah on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Cosmic Fall, In Search of Outer Space

cosmic fall in search of outer space

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

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Orion Fenix

owl orion fenix

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

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Owl on Bandcamp

 

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

Samavayo & Sons of Morpheus to Release The Fuzz Charger Split May 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Next time you’re looking at a pair of cartoon tits on an album cover with a cowskull instead of a woman’s face or some shit, remember the artwork for Samavayo and Sons of MorpheusThe Fuzz Charger Split, because that is how a stoner rock album cover is fucking done. I’m not saying every record needs to have a muscle car out front, but you want to speak directly to your audience? This does it better than all that pointless pseudo-ritualistic misogyny anyday. Looks like something straight out of 2002. Kudos to the bands and to Sixteentimes Music for putting it together.

Even better? The rest of the car is on back. I fucking love this genre.

Six tracks kicked off by the immediate momentum build of Samavayo‘s “Rollin'” and running through the dug-in desert fuzz and anchoring bassline of Sons of Morpheus‘ “Slave,” you don’t lose. You only win. Whole thing is 31 minutes well spent.

PR wire background follows, including the preorder link. You’ll want that:

samavayo sons of morpheus cover

Samavayo and Sons of Morpheus – The Fuzz Charger Split

Date: 18th of May 2018
Via: Digital and 12” Vinyl
Label: Sixteentimes Music
KatNo.: SIXT020

Preorder here: https://bit.ly/2ITQb2t

All three band members of Samayo grew up in East-Berlin, in the neighbourhoods Lichtenberg and Friedrichshain. As a 10 year old kid, singer Behrang Alavi fled as a political refugee from his home country of Iran to Berlin, Germany. The brothers Andreas and Stephan Voland grew up in the GDR (East-Germany) in East-Berlin.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city was open, letting in cultural influences from any foreign country.

The capital city became a multi-cultural melting pot where a singer from Teheran and two brothers from Berlin started making music. More than 500 live shows in Europe and overseas followed, including gigs in Brazil, Albania, Greece, Croatia and France. They also played at one of the most well-known European Stoner Rock festivals “Stoned from the Underground.”

Before Sons of Morpheus were able to tour across Europe (f.e. with Karma to Burn and Kamchatka) and playing shows in 17 countries including USA, a simple feeling gave birth to everything: The need to crank up an amplifier and doing some good-shit rock music. Fuck the world! And that’s exactly what made singer/guitarist Manuel Bissig start conquering stages in Switzerland by the name of “Rozbub” (Swiss-German for “brat”). Everything followed the call, it was loud, nasty and raw – and immediately everyone could see, hear and feel: This “brat” knows exactly what he’s doing.

No surprise that 2013 released debut “S’esch ziit” climbed the Swiss iTunes-charts right away. In no time Sons of Morpheus played shows in the rock-republic of California and recorded for two weeks in Tucson AZ with Producer Jim Waters. That thriving spring in 2014 gave birth to new material and as a result a debut-album simply called “Sons of Morpheus” was about to be released. The band’s call for the following year 2016 was clear: To go back to rehearsal, write new material and get it recorded. Listening to “Nemesis,” Sons of Morpheus appear gloomier yet explosive.

Tracklist:
A01 Rollin – Samavayo
A02 Chopper – Samavayo
A03 Justify – Samavayo
B01 Dark Shadows – Sons of Morpheus
B02 Money – Sons of Morpheus
B03 Slave – Sons of Morpheus

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofmorpheus/
https://www.sonsofmorpheus.com/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFgOFTihCGzzmoDo24e3TQA
https://twitter.com/SonsofMorpheus
https://www.facebook.com/samavayo/
https://www.samavayo.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/samavayo
https://twitter.com/samavayo

Samavayo, “Cross the Line” official video

Sons of Morpheus, “Monotone” official video

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Up in Smoke 2018: Acid King, John Garcia, Naxatras & Sasquatch Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

up in smoke 2018 header

It would seem that in the new social media algorithmic rich-white-people-claiming-to-reshape-paradigms-everyone-else-when-all-they’re-really-doing-is-ripping-everyone-off universe of social media, somewhere along the line I stopped getting updates from Sound of Liberation. As someone who actively enjoys keeping up with a host of European events throughout the Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, that’s a shitter to be sure. Already the lauded booking agency has started announcing lineups for two fall festivals: Up in Smoke 2018, held in Pratteln, Switzerland, and Keep it Low 2018, held in Munich, both in October. Needless to say, I’ve chased down the code like Neo in The Matrix or like whatever more up-to-date reference would apply and fixed the fucking problem for myself, social media overlords be damned.

Here’s me getting caught up with Up in Smoke 2018’s first four bands: Acid King, Naxatras, Sasquatch and John Garcia. Hell of a starting four, frankly, and of course there’s more to come. I wouldn’t actually put much stock in my technical prowess, but hopefully I should be able to do a better job keeping up from here on out.

An amalgam of the first and second announcements follows:

UP IN SMOKE 2018

Z7 I PRATTELN I OCT. 5TH-6TH 2018

Here we go, the 6th edition of UP in SMOKE indoor festival in Z7 is on its way! Our dear graphic designers from Elvisdead are bent over the desk and working like maniacs on our poster which we will be glad to introduce very soon!

But for now, as we know you want to hear fresh and crispy news, we are glad to lift the veil today of our first names:

– Acid King (USA). Bathed in distortion and baptized in a plume of smoke, the Bay Area trio fronted by talented Lori S. is rocking the heavy scene for more than 2 decades and we are just thrilled to host them for this edition of the festival.

– Naxatras (GR). Very much attached to the roots of psychedelia, paying tributes to masters like Pink Floyd & Hawkwind, while also praising Black Sabbath Doom lords, the trio is still forging very fresh tunes out of those influences and creating very sweet and fine music.

– John Garcia (USA). Yes, desert crooner and former Kyuss, Slo-Burn, Unida, Hermano, Vista Chino frontman John Garcia may rightfully be considered the ultimate incarnation of stoner rock! His first solo album and opus eponymous from 2014 was followed roughly three years later by “The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues”, a comparatively relaxed and purely acoustic affair! He is now about to release a new one, and will be presenting it at Up In Smoke this year! We’re so looking forward to hearing his new tunes!

– Sasquatch (USA). Next, if we say “All is fair in Love and Doom”, you say ? SASQUATCH, right?! The trio, whose music has been featured on numbers of movies, games soundtracks is FUZZ! Those Californian Dudes are riffrockers to the core: mixing elements of 70s rock, metal and psychelia…we’re all in for a hell of a party!

Heavy-Rock-Doom-Psych-Stoner Indoor Festival. 2 Days of Volume Worshipping in Switzerlands best Rock Venue Z-7 in Pratteln (Basel).
2 big stages, 20+ bands and the chance for fans to sleep over in the venue. The festival is sold out since 2016, the 6th edition takes part on Oct 5th and 6th 2018.

Line Up 2018:
JOHN GARCIA / ACID KING / NAXATRAS / SASQUATCH

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

Acid King, Live in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 19, 2017

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Soldat Hans to Release Es Taut April 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

solldat hans

This band is fucking awesome. I’m serious. You like Amenra? That’s cool. Soldat Hans are better. You think Cult of Luna are the shit? Soldat Hans will eat your fucking soul. I said as much when they put out Dress Rehearsal (review here) in 2014, but they’re something special, and having now listened to the follow-up, Es Taut, which is out at the end of April via Wolves and Vibrancy Records, their potency has diminished none in the intervening four years between releases. Some music is just powerful. That’s pretty much the story here.

You can stream the 26-minute opener “Story of the Flood” at the bottom of this post, and I recommend you do so. Es Taut has more melody but no less impact than its predecessor, and yeah, it basically makes mincemeat out of the current sphere of post-metal, atmospheric sludge, or whatever the hell else you might want to call it. Will be on my best of 2018 list for sure. Already is, in fact.

From the PR wire:

Soldat Hans Es Taut

Soldat Hans – Es Taut – Wolves And Vibrancy Records

Switzerland-based sextet Soldat Hans began their career as an instrumental noise band playing solely improvised sets. The turning point happened around 2013 when they settled to write some material for their first album “Dress Rehearsal”, which was released in November 2014. Taking their name from the old fairytale “Des Teufels russiger Bruder” by the brothers Grimm, the sound of Soldat Hans somehow echoed the desolate feeling of this very tale, also making reference to others like Mahler and Schubert. “Dress Rehearsal” was an adventurous journey crossing disparate musical genres like doom, post-rock, drone and dark jazz.

After playing numerous gigs in support of their debut album the Swiss group now returns with their sophomore album, “Es Taut”. A three song album spanning 54 minutes, “Es Taut” was recorded in Winterthur by Philip Harrison, who also recorded the band’s debut, and mastered by Magnus Lindberg in Stockholm. The album sees the band following the same trajectory explored on “Dress Rehearsal”, merging elements of doom, post-rock, drone and dark jazz to craft music that sounds utterly depressing, haunting and enigmatic and yet extremely engaging.

Tracklisting:
1. Story Of The Flood 26:15
2. Schoner Zerbirst Part I 8:03
3. Schoner Zerbirst Part II 18:56

Soldat Hans is:
Omar – Guitar, Vocals
Tobias – Guitar
Omar – Guitar
Jonathan – Bass
Clemens – Keys
Justin – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/soldathansband/
https://soldathans.bandcamp.com/
https://soldathans.org/
http://wolvesandvibrancyrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/wolvesandvibrancyrecords
https://wolvesandvibrancyrecords.bandcamp.com

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: The Necromancers, The Asound & Intercourse, Bohr, Strobe, Astrosaur, Sun Q, Holy Mount, Sum of R, IIVII, Faces of the Bog

Posted in Reviews on September 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

The season is changing here in the Northeastern part of the US. Leaves have just barely started to change, and the summertime haze that settles over the region for for the better parts of June, July and August has largely dissipated. It’s getting to be hoodie weather after the sun goes down. This past weekend was the equinox. All of this can only mean it’s time for another Quarterly Review — this one spanning a full Monday-to-Monday week’s worth of writeups. That’s right. 60 albums between now and a week from today. It’s going to be a genuine challenge to get through it all, but I’m (reasonably) confident we’ll get there and that when we’re on the other side, it will have been completely worth the lengthy trip to get there. Hell, you know the drill by now. Let’s not waste any time and get to it, shall we?

Quarterly Review #1-10:

The Necromancers, Servants of the Salem Girl

the-necromancers-servants-of-the-salem-girl

A noteworthy debut from the Poitier, France-based four-piece The Necromancers, whose coming has been much heralded owing in no small part to a release through Ripple Music, the six-track/41-minute Servants of the Salem Girl lumbers through doom and cultish heavy rock with likewise ease, shifting itself fluidly between the two sides on extended early cuts like opener “Salem Girl Part I” and the nine-minute “Lucifer’s Kin,” which gets especially Sabbathian in its roll later on. The album’s midsection, with the shorter cuts “Black Marble House” (video premiere here) and “Necromancers,” continues the flow with a general uptick of pace and ties together with the opening salvo via the burly vocals of guitarist Tom, the solo work of Rob on lead guitar, and the adaptable groove from bassist Simon and drummer Ben, and as the penultimate “Grand Orbiter” engages moody spaciousness, it does so with a refusal to commit to one side or the other that makes it a highlight of the album as a whole. The Necromancers finish contrasting rhythmic tension and payoff nod on “Salem Girl Part II,” having long since thoroughly earned their hype through songwriting and immediately distinct sonic persona. There’s growth to do in melodicism, but for being “servants,” The Necromancers show an awful lot of command in structure and style.

The Necromancers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

The Asound & Intercourse, Split 7″

the asound intercourse split

Noise is the order of things on the Tsuguri Records split 7” between New Haven, Connecticut’s good-luck-Googling aggressives Intercourse and North Carolinian sludge rockers The Asound. Each band offers a two-song showcase of their wares, with Intercourse blasting short jabs of post-hardcore/noise rock angularity on “Too Fucked to Yiff” and “Corricidin is a Helluva Drug” and The Asound bringing a more melodic heavy rock swing to “Slave to the Saints” while saving a more galloping charge for “Human for Human.” It’s a quick sampling, of course, and “Slave to the Saints” is the relative epic inclusion as the only one over three minutes long – it goes to 4:20, naturally – but boasts a surprisingly professional production from The Asound and an unhinged vibe from Intercourse that meets them head on in a way both competitive and complementary to the aggression of “Human for Human.” Fodder for the bands’ merch tables in its limited-to-300, one-time-only pressing, but there’s hardly anything wrong with that. All the more worth grabbing it if you can, while you can.

The Asound on Thee Facebooks

Intercourse on Thee Facebooks

Tsuguri Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Bohr, Bohr

bohr bohr

Officially called Self-Title, this two-song outing released by Tandang Records and BTNKcllctv serves as the first release from Malaysia’s Bohr, and with shouts and growls duking it out over massive plodding tones on opener “Voyager,” they seem to take position right away in the post-Conan verve of megadoom. Peppered-in lead work showcases some welcome nuance of personality, but it’s the second track “Suria” that trips into more surprising terrain, with a faster tempo and something of a letup in thickness, allowing for a more rocking feel, still met with shouted vocals but hinting at more of a melodic reach nonetheless. The shift might be awkward in the context of a full-length, but on a debut single/EP, it works just fine to demonstrate what may or may not be a nascent breadth in Bohr’s approach. They finish “Suria” with hints of more to come in a plotted guitar lead and are done in about 10 minutes, having piqued interest with two disparate tracks that leave one to wonder what other tricks might be up their collective sleeve.

Bohr on Thee Facebooks

Tandang Records on Bandcamp

BTNKcllctv on Bandcamp

 

Strobe, Bunker Sessions

strobe bunker sessions

It’s worth noting outright that Strobe’s Bunker Sessions was recorded in 1994. Not because it sounds dated, but just the opposite. The Sulatron Records release from the under-exposed UK psychedelic rockers finds them jamming out in live-in-studio fashion, and if you’d told me with no other context that the resultant six-track/40-minute long-player was put to tape two months ago, I’d absolutely have believed it. This would’ve been the era of their 1994 third album, The Circle Never Ends, and while some can hear some relation between that and Bunker Sessions in the shimmering lead and warm underscoring basslines of 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Sun Birth,” the drift in “Chameleon Earth,” synth-laden space rock meandering of “Opium Dreams” and cymbal-wash-into-distortion-wash of closer “Sun Death” are on a wavelength of their own. It’s something of a curio release – a “lost album” – but it’s also bound to turn some heads onto how ahead of their time Stobe were in the ‘90s, and maybe we’ll get lucky and Sulatron will use it to kick off a full series of convenient LP reissues.

Sulatron Records on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Astrosaur, Fade In / Space Out

astrosaur-fade-in-space-out

While their moniker brings to mind pure stoner idolatry, Oslo instrumentalists Astrosaur acquit themselves toward more progressive fare with Fade In // Space Out, their Bad Vibes Records debut album, finding open spaces in bookending extended opener “Necronauts” and the dramatic shift between droning experimentalism and weighted lumber of the closing title-track even as middle cuts “Space Mountain,” “Yugen” and “Fishing for Kraken” balance with fits of driving progressive metallurgy. Comprised of Eirik Kråkenes, Steinar Glas and Jonatan Eikum, Astrosaur do get fuzzy for a bit on “Yugen,” but by the time they’re there, they’ve already space-doom-jazzed their way through such a vast aesthetic swath that it becomes one more stylistic element in fair-enough play. Open in its structure and building to an affecting cacophony in its ending, Fade In // Space Out is defined in no small part by its stylistic ambition, but whether it’s in the head-spinning initial turns of “Fishing for Kraken” or the stretch of peaceful, wistful guitar after the seven-minute mark in “Necronauts,” that ambition is admirable multifaceted and wide-reaching.

Astrosaur on Thee Facebooks

Bad Vibes Records website

 

Sun Q, Charms

sun q charms

There’s an encouraging and decidedly pro-shop fullness of sound being proffered on Sun Q’s debut full-length, Charms, to match an immediate sense of songcraft and stylization that puts them somewhere between heavy psych and more driving fuzz rock. Vocalist Elena Tiron takes a forward position in opener “Petals and Thorns” over the briskly-captured tones from guitarist Ivan Shalimov and bassist Denis Baranov while drummer Pavel Poseluev pushes the proceedings along, and whether they’re bringing in Seva Timofeev’s Hammond for the subsequent bluesy vibing of “After This,” toying with pop playfulness on “Plankton,” giving Andrey Tanzu percussive room on “Dancing Souls” or going full-expanse on keyboard-laden centerpiece and aptly-titled longest cut “Space,” there’s purpose behind the variety on offer and Sun Q never seem to lose their sense of poise throughout. There are moments where the bite of the production hits a little deep – looking at you, “Plankton” – but especially as their debut, Charms lives up to the name it’s been given and establishes these Moscow natives as a presence with which to be reckoned as they move forward.

Sun Q on Thee Facebooks

Sun Q on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mount, The Drought

holy mount the drought

White Dwarf Records picked up what by my count is Holy Mount’s fourth full-length, The Drought, for a vinyl issue following the Toronto foursome’s self-release last year, and with the immersive, dense heavy psych nod of “Division,” it’s little wonder why. The seven-cut LP is the second to feature the lineup of Danijel Losic, Brandon McKenzie, Troy Legree and Clayton Churcher behind 2014’s VOL, and its moments of nuance like the synth at the outset of “Blackened Log” or the blend of tense riffing and post-The Heads shoegaze-style vocal chants on the markedly insistent highlight cut “Basalt” only further the reasoning. The penultimate “Blood Cove” returns some to of the ritual sense of “Division,” and The Drought’s titular finale pierces its own wash with a lead that makes its apex all the more resonant and dynamic. Not nearly as frenetic as its cover art would have you believe, the already-sold-out vinyl brims with a vibe of creative expansiveness, and Holy Mount feel right at home in its depths.

Holy Mount on Thee Facebooks

White Dwarf Records webstore

 

Sum of R, Orga

sum of r orga

Over the course of its near-hour runtime, Orga, the Czar of Crickets-issued third full-length from Bern, Switzerland, ambient outfit Sum of R deep-dives into droning atmospheric wash while effectively producing headphone-worthy depths and avoiding the trap of redundant minimalism. Chimes in a song like “Desmonema Annasethe” and ringing bells in “We Have to Mark this Entrance” give a feeling of lushness instead that serves the release well overall, and these details, nuances, take the place of what otherwise might be human voices coursing through the bleak mire of Orga’s progression. One might look to closing duo “Let us Begin with What We Do Not Want to Be” and “One After the Other” for some sense of hopefulness, and whether or not it’s actually there, it’s possible to read it into the overarching drone of the former and the percussive movement of the latter, but by then Sum of R have well set the mood in an abiding darkness, and that remains the prevailing vibe. Not quite dramatic or brooding in a human/emotional sense, Orga casts its drear in soundscapes of distant nighttime horizon.

Sum of R website

Czar of Crickets Productions website

 

IIVII, Invasion

iivii invasion

Noted graphic artist and post-metal songwriter Josh Graham – formerly visuals for Neurosis, but also art for Soundgarden and many others, as well as being known for his work with A Storm of Light and the woefully, vastly underrated Battle of Mice – makes his second ambient solo release in the form of IIVII’s Invasion on Belgian imprint Consouling Sounds. A soundtrack-ready feel pervades the nine tracks/44 minutes almost instantly and holds sway with opener “We Came Here from a Dying World (I)” finding complement in the centerpiece “Tomorrow You’ll be One of Us (II)” and a thematic capstone in closer “Sanctuary,” only furthering the sense of a narrative unfolding throughout. There are elements drawn in “Unclouded by Conscience” from the atmospheric and score work of Trent Reznor and/or Junkie XL, but Graham doesn’t necessarily part with the post-metallic sense of brooding that has defined much of his work even as the pairing of “We Live” and “You Die” late in the record loops its way to and through its dramatic apex. Obviously not going to be for everyone, but it does make a solid argument for Graham as a composer whose breadth is still revealing itself even after a career filled with landmarks across multiple media.

IIVII on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

 

Faces of the Bog, Ego Death

faces-of-the-bog-ego-death

In some of their shifts between atmospheric patience and churning intensity – not to mention in the production of Sanford ParkerFaces of the Bog remind a bit of fellow Windy City residents Minsk on their DHU Records debut album, Ego Death, but prove ultimately more aggressive in the thrust of “Drifter in the Abyss” and the later stretch of “The Serpent and the Dagger,” on which the guitars of Mark Stephen Gizewski and Trey Wedgeworth (both also vocals) delve into Mastodonic leads near the finish to set up the transition into the 10:33 title-track, which begins with a wash of static noise before Paul Bradfield’s bass sets up the slow nod that holds sway and only grows bigger as it presses forward. That cut is one of two over the 10-minute mark, and the other, closer “Blue Lotus,” unfolds even more gradually and ventures into cleaner vocals presaged on “The Weaver” and elsewhere as it makes its way toward an album-payoff crescendo marked by drummer Danny Garcia’s thudding toms and a low end rumble that’s as much a presence unto itself as a harbinger of progression to come.

Faces of the Bog on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

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

Up in Smoke 2017 Adds Troubled Horse; Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

With the inclusion of Sweden’s Troubled Horse, the lineup for Up in Smoke 2017 is finished. A total of 21 bands will play the two-day festival in Pratteln, Switzerland, as part of a busy Fall festival season across Europe, and Troubled Horse join the likes of GraveyardSaint VitusBrant BjorkOrange GoblinLowrider, Church of Misery, Toner LowStoned JesusBeastmaker, Ufomammut and Radio Moscow — among others, obviously — as they step out to support their sophomore outing, Revolution on Repeat (review here), released earlier this year by the venerable Rise Above Records.

Info on how the lineup is split over the two days is due out any second now (will probably go live about two minutes after this post, which is my usual luck with such things), but here’s the announcement for Troubled Horse as posted by the fest:

up in smoke 2017 troubled horse

Happy summer to all of you “Up in Smokers” !!!

Before leaving the office for a small August break, we are happy to announce today one more great band for our event. Troubled Horse, the swedish Pioneers of Heavy-Garage-Rock are joining the UP in SMOKE indoor festival in Z7. With this last name, our line up is now complete.

The daily split of bands and the daytickets will be announced this Thursday at 6 pm /18 H.

Due to the fact that we plan improvements on the stages,the outdoor area, the line up and the general higher costs every year for staff, infrastructure, etc. we hope for your understanding that the ticket price for the 2 day pass will raise a bit from August 10 th on. So if you don´t have your 2 Days Pass yet, take your chance and grab it now for the still reduced price.

More information also for the much demanded “sleep over” situation is coming along with the posting of the day split of the bands/day tickets on thursday. Our outstanding line up will now feature 21 bands on 2 days. The bands are playing on 2 big stages ( indoor and outdoor) with no overlapping set times.

Presales for UP in SMOKE 2017 are very good, the last year edition was sold out, so don´t hesitate any longer to get your ticket and go Up In Smoke with us.
The 2 Days Passes are available here:

http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=130

https://www.upinsmoke.de/tickets
http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1306
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7
https://www.facebook.com/events/466424317082118/
https://www.upinsmoke.de/

Troubled Horse, “Track 7”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Up in Smoke 2017: Lowrider, Church of Misery, My Home on Trees, Jack Slamer & The Necromancers Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Up in Smoke 2017 continues to make a compelling case for travel plans by adding the likes of LowriderChurch of MiseryMy Home on TreesJack Slamer and The Necromancers to its was-already-formidable bill featuring GraveyardSaint VitusBrant BjorkOrange GoblinToner LowStoned JesusBeastmaker, on and on. Seriously, I don’t even know why I feel like I need to write an intro for this post. Just look at the list of names in the poster. Isn’t that really all you need to know about the entire thing? What more is there to say? If you can get there, get there. Duh.

Honestly, just look at this thing. Can you believe this shit happens like every weekend in Europe this Fall, going from country to country, badass lineup to badass lineup? It’s wild. Fucking Lowrider are showing up.

Check it out and be jealous:

up in smoke 2017 poster

Here we go! We are thrilled to add 5 more bands to this year’s UP in SMOKE indoor festival in Z7 line-up!

Lowrider (Exclusive CH show)
Church of Misery Official (Exclusive CH show)
MY HOME ON TREES
Jack Slamer
The Necromancers

This 5th edition of the festival features now 20 bands!

Get your tickets on https://www.upinsmoke.de/tickets as soon as you can (they are selling fast) or share this post (public) to try to win another 2-day pass (probably the last for this year)!

IMPORTANT: the daily split of bands, the daytickets and the address to reserve your sleep-over/breakfast will be announced on August 1. Stay Tuned!

Located Pratteln, in Switzerland’s best rock venue, Z7 Konzertfabrik, only a few kilometres from the German and French borders, Up In Smoke is an indoor festival for fans of Heavy Rock – Doom – Psych – Stoner… easily reachable by plane via the Euro-Airport (Basel/Muhouse) or by public transportations (train, bus) via Basel Main Station. There are plenty of affordable Hotels and Hostels located in Basel and for “budget savers” we are also offering to sleep over + breakfast (Coffee and bread rolls) in the venue for a small fee!

How does this work? After the last concert of the day, we ask everybody to step out of the venue for a few minutes. During that time, the venue and toilets are cleaned and the floor covered with a plastic sheet. (people have to bring their sleeping bags and air mattresses)

https://www.upinsmoke.de/tickets
http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1306
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7
https://www.facebook.com/events/466424317082118/
https://www.upinsmoke.de/

Lowrider, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition (2017)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sons of Morpheus Premiere Live-in-Studio Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sons of morpheus

Swiss heavy rockers Sons of Morpheus are currently on a tour of the Iberian Peninsula, running through Portugal and Spain for the rest of this week as they support the March 2017 Deepdive Records issue of their second album, Nemesis. You might recall back in early 2015, the Basel-based trio did a video premiere here for a Snakehill Productions-filmed clip of three songs performed live in a single take (posted here). Well, as they hit the road for the new record, they’re back with a new three-song presentation, bringing one-take live versions of “Cage,” “Riding the Wave” and “Amanita Muscaria” from Studio Stübio in Lucerne and showing off what the last couple years have brought them in terms of forward growth.

That’s no small amount, as it happens. All three cuts come from Nemesis and between them, the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Manuel Bissig, bassist Lukas Kurmann and drummer Rudy Kink demonstrate pointed riff-led structures blended with a heavy psychedelic flow. To wit, the departure in the midsection of “Cage,” ironically enough, finds them more or less completely uncaged and free to explore the aural spaces around them. Likewise, “Riding the Wave” finds itself on either side of driving forward propulsion and blown-out spacey noise and “Amanita Muscaria” drifts into laid-back flow topped with spoken vocals before opening into a solo-topped roll that serves as a suitable closer here and provides a highlight on Nemesis as well. Each song tops six minutes and has a distinctive personality, but as you can see in the clip, Sons of Morpheus have no trouble tying it all together with fluidity in a live setting, even live-in-studio.

Sons of Morpheus were recently confirmed to take part in Up in Smoke 2017 (info here) this October in Pratteln, where they’ll perform alongside GraveyardOrange GoblinWindhandRadio Moscow and many more. That live date, the remaining shows for the current tour, and others can be found under the three-song video, which you’ll find below, followed by credits and other info as well.

Hope you enjoy:

Sons of Morpheus, “Cage,” “Riding the Wave” and “Amanita Muscaria” live at Studio Stübio

“One-Take” live recording by Switzerland based SONS OF MORPHEUS performing “Cage”, “Riding The Wave” and “Amanita Muscaria” live.

Recorded Feb. 2017 in Luzern, Switzerland @ Studio Stübio by Stübi. Video and editing by Snakehill Productions, Switzerland: snakehillproductions@gmx.ch.

All songs and lyrics written by Sons of Morpheus, SUISA. © & ? 2017 Sons of Morpheus & deepdive records. Published by deepdive publishing. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying, reproducing, hiring, lending, public performance and broadcasting prohibited.

Sons of Morpheus live:
Jun 21 Daba Daba Donostia, Spain
Jun 22 Forum Celticum Culleredo, Spain
Jun 23 Cave Avenida Viana Do Castelo, Portugal
Jun 24 Stairway Club Cascais, Portugal
Jun 25 El Zagal Aldeamayor De San Martín, Spain
Jul 15 L’Unique Foodtruck Basel, Switzerland
Oct 07 Z7 Konzertfabrik at Up in Smoke 2017 Pratteln, Switzerland
Oct 13 Schüxenhaus Ins, Switzerland

Sons of Morpheus are:
Manuel Bissig – Guitars and Vocals
Lukas Kurmann – Bass
Rudy Kink – Drums

Sons of Morpheus website

Sons of Morpheus on Thee Facebooks

Sons of Morpheus on Bandcamp

Snakehill Productions on YouTube

Snakehill Productions on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , ,