Owl Set March 23 Release for Orion Fenix EP; Announce New Album

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

owl

Yes. This. There are two announcements from Christian Kolf‘s Owl project — an offshoot of his main band, Valborg — that released its last EP, Aeon Cult (review here), in 2015, and both present good news from the thoroughly-dark metal outfit. The first is that a new 20-minute single-song EP titled Orion Fenix is due out March 23 as a digital release. I’ve heard it and it’s beastly. Really. Weighted in atmosphere and tone, its depths are just waiting to swallow listeners whole.

The second — and this is where things get even more interesting — is that Owl, will make a debut on Temple of Torturous this Spring with Nights in Distortion, which is the band’s third full-length behind a 2013’s You are the Moon, I am the Night and a 2011 self-titled. From no Owl to lots of Owl. This is a good transition for 2018 to be making.

I’m sure more details are to come about Nights in Distortion, but here’s some most welcome initial word from the PR wire:

owl orion fenix

Owl – Valborg’s Christian Kolf Solo Project Announce Third Album “Nights In Distortion”

Valborg’s guitarist/vocalist Christian Kolf will release the anticipated third album from his solo project Owl this spring, marking the band’s debut for Temple Of Torturous Records.

Nearly three years in the making, the new album is titled “Nights In Distortion” and will be preceded by an EP, a 20-minute track titled “Orion Fenix” that is set for release digitally on March 23rd.

Freedom in emotion, creativity, and sound has been the perpetual fuel for Owl and is again at the heart of its first offering since the release of acclaimed EP, ‘Aeon Cult’ over two years ago. Its creator describes its birth as, “There was no big thinking behind it, I just wrote it and that’s it. Let my feelings go”; an organic conception breeding a truly instinctive exploration in the shape of “Orion Fenix”.

The track also embraces a doom metal exploration; further evolution in a sound which from the occult death metal tone of the 2011 self-titled debut album has equally had the freedom to find its own voice each and every time as evidenced through its successor, ‘You Are the Moon, I Am the Night’ two years later and successive EPs and tracks. Though, a true individual in the Owl creative landscape, “Orion Fenix” is also an inescapable appetiser for the forthcoming unveiling of what will be, the equally unique ‘Nights In Distortion’ through Temple of Torturous Records.

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Owl, Aeon Cult EP (2015)

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The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2017

Posted in Features on December 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

top-30-of-2017

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2017 to that, please do.

We’re almost at the finish line for 2017, and if I’m honest, it’s not a minute too soon. I think if one more record comes out this year my head is going to explode.

A perpetual onslaught of cool music is, of course, nothing to complain about. It just seemed like every time I thought I had a handle on where the year was going, some other announcement came through and knocked me on my ass. What’s that? The Obsessed are putting out their first album in more than two decades? Oh and Monolord have a new one coming? Radio Moscow just signed to Century Media? Arc of Ascent are back? Samsara Blues Experiment are back? Causa Sui are putting out a live album and a studio album? Sasquatch are going to Europe and sneaking a record along with them? All of a sudden I’m out of breath feeling like I just ran a lap.

It’s been madness this year. Between an emergent neo-psych movement in the wake of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and others, and the ongoing and constant reshaping of doom and heavy rock from practitioners new and old, I don’t know how anyone could ever claim to keep up with any of it.

You know I do the best I can, so when you look through this list, please keep in mind that these are my picks and the result of applying my own standard, which if you’ve ever seen a list on this site before you probably already know is a combination of things like what I view as being important on a critical level and things like what kept me coming back as a listener. What were the year’s biggest releases and what couldn’t I get enough of? Sometimes those two things come together around one record and it’s beautiful. That’s usually your album of the year, or close to, anyhow.

No sense in delaying further. I hope if you haven’t heard some of this stuff you’ll give it a shot, and if you have something you felt strongly about it, you’ll let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance for keeping it civil, and of course for reading.

Here goes:

30. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
geezer psychoriffadelia

Released by Kozmik Artifactz and STB Records. Reviewed May 16.

Coming off of what was their strongest album to-date in their 2016 self-titled (review here), New York heavy psych blues trio Geezer decided it was time to take the groove for a walk. And so they did. Psychoriffadelia is the result — a looser collection of jams and willfully unrefined heavy blues, reveling in the politically incorrect on “Dirty Penny” only after basking in the post-Monster Magnet hypnosis of “Red Hook” and the earlier roll of the more straightforward “Hair of the Dog” and “Stressknots.” Everything Geezer has done to this point has pushed their sound to new places. Psychoriffadelia is no exception.

29. Orango, The Mules of Nana

orango the mules of nana

Released by Stickman Records. Reviewed March 27.

More than a touch of twang on opener “Heartland” sets a tone of Americana-infusion for Orango‘s sixth LP, The Mules of Nana, but the 10-tracker is ultimately much more about harmony-laced classic heavy smoothness than playing to prairie-minded sensibilities, though roots spread wide through a natural, dirty blues just the same. However they get there, “Hazy Chain of Mountains,” the softshoe-ready funk of “Head on Down” and the peacefully progressive finish of “Ghost Rider” bring ’70s-style thrills in songwriting and their precise, gorgeous execution. Underrated record from an underappreciated band.

28. Radio Moscow, New Beginnings

radio moscow new beginnings

Released by Century Media. Reviewed Oct. 6.

Cali boogie kingpins and all-around marvelous frenetic bastards Radio Moscow were in top form on their Century Media debut, and if it was a new beginning they were searching for, they met it head on with a sound as classic and organic as ever. Arguably the most powerful power trio in their game, they tore through cuts like “No One Knows Where They’ve Been” and “Deceiver” while offering flourish in the trip-out “Woodrose Morning” and subdued blues-psych on the penultimate “Pick up the Pieces.” Very much to form, but cast of a form that still manages to outclass all challengers.

27. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma

spaceslug time travel dilemma

Released by Southcave Records, BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed Feb. 10.

And so here we have the first of what will no doubt be several records about which I’m going to say they should be higher on the list. Poland’s Spaceslug have emerged from the moist ground created by their own tonality and on their sophomore full-length, they proffered warm depth of fuzz and a corresponding melodic and psychedelic reach that was resonant even before they brought in ex-Sungrazer bassist Sander Haagmans for a guest spot on the title-track. It’s been out for 10 months and still delivers every time I put it on, which is often.

26. Mothership, High Strangeness

mothership high strangeness
Released by Ripple Music and Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed March 7.

Three albums into a tenure marked by hard-driving riffs, scorching solos and relentless road work, there’s little Texas trio Mothership need to do at this point to prove themselves to their audience. At the same time, High Strangeness brought considerable expansion to their range overall, whether it was the exploratory “Eternal Trip” or the semi-metallic insistence behind “Midnight Express,” while staying tied together with lyrical and instrumental hooks. High Strangeness set a new standard for Mothership, plain and simple, and easily surpassed the considerable accomplishments of their 2012 self-titled debut (review here) and 2014’s Mothership II (review here).

25. Eternal Black, Bleed the Days

eternal black bleed the days

Released by Obsidian Sky Records. Reviewed Aug. 1.

There was a lot about Eternal Black‘s Bleed the Days that chugged its way into the post-Wino oeuvre of US-style trad doom, but the gruff, lumbering and impeccably riffed outing was nonetheless one of 2017’s best debut full-lengths, and it was the songwriting that got it there. Already sounding sure in the vibe captured, cuts like the plodding brooder “Sea of Graves” and “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” showed potential in mood and atmosphere as much as sheer sonic heft — though of course there was plenty of that to go around as well. Doomers missed it at their peril.

24. Kadavar, Rough Times

kadavar rough times

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Sept. 6.

It kind of feels like a slight to have Berlin trio Kadavar appear anywhere outside of at least a top 10 on any kind of list whatsoever, ever, but that’s not my intention at all. Rather, their fourth album and third for Nuclear Blast found them at an important stage in their progression — past the novelty of the vintage feel in their early work, after having proven their songwriting could translate to a modern context, and embarking on a process of expanding their sound. Rough Times, which was as current as current could be, met that goal and beat it easily with a barrage of memorable choruses and a dark streak one could only consider suitable for our age.

23. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

shroud eater strike the sun

Released by STB Records. Reviewed June 28.

The biggest surprise about Shroud Eater‘s long-awaited sophomore long-player was also its most encouraging aspect — namely how it found the Miami trio bringing together various impulses shown on a number of shorter releases over the course of the six years since their debut, ThunderNoise (review here), came out in 2011, and still managed to utterly crush when it so chose. With a swath from sludge to drone and back again, this was no minor feat, and that the songs they brought to bear were so memorable at their heart as well makes me hope all the more it’s not 2023 before their third album arrives.

22. Enslaved, E

enslaved e

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 4.

What’s left to say about Norwegian progressive black metal innovators Enslaved 14 records into their career? Plenty as it turns out. The introduction of new keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje in place of Herbrand Larsen brought a new twist on a signature element of Enslaved‘s approach. Vinje utterly owned his role, and his performance alongside guitarist Ivar Bjørnson, bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson, guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal and drummer Cato Bekkevold resulted in a fresh urgency that made the band’s sound even more potent and set their ongoing creative evolution on a new branch of its self-directed path.

21. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical

arc-of-ascent-realms-of-the-metaphysical

Released by Astral Projection and Clostridium Records. Reviewed April 6.

Some five years on from 2012’s The Higher Key (review here) and seven out from their debut, Circle of the Sun (review here), and with bassist/vocalist Craig Williamson firmly entrenched in his always excellent Lamp of the Universe psych-drone-folk solo-project, I wasn’t sure there would be another offering from New Zealand heavy psych-rock trio Arc of Ascent, but Realms of the Metaphysical took shape from an ether of riffs and echoes atop resilient underlying structures and revitalized the group with new drummer Mark McGeady in the lineup with Williamson and guitarist Matt Cole-Baker. Remains to be seen if this marks a priority shift for Williamson or it’s a one-off, but its arrival was welcome either way.

20. Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas

causa sui vibraciones doradas

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Oct. 20.

With the various glories already offered in 2017 on the Live in Copenhagen (review here) 3LP, one didn’t necessarily expect a new studio outing from Danish instrumental psych masters Causa Sui, but Vibraciones Doradas found them as vibrant as ever, bringing forth a surprising amount of tonal weight on songs like “El Fuego,” warm fuzz for the basking on opener “The Drop” and spaciousness on the closing title-track. Somewhat more straight-ahead in its rocking groove than 2016’s Return to Sky (review here), the five-track/38-minute long-player showed yet again why Causa Sui are always welcome and that any news of a new release from them, live, studio, whatever, is good news. This was the kind of record that could make your day if you let it.

19. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable

telekinetic yeti abominable

Released by Sump Pump Records. Reviewed April 10.

The Iowa-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Alex Baumann and drummer Anthony Dreyer, operating as Telekinetic Yeti, released what I considered to be the debut of the year, both for the fullness of its tonality and the accomplishment in songcraft it already showed. Powered by cuts like its lumbering title-track and the gloriously fuzzed runner “Stoned and Feathered,” it could’ve been another band’s second or third record for the level of cohesion on display and the obvious awareness on the part of the band of what they wanted to do with their sound and the just-as-obvious result of their bringing it to life.

18. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kozmic dust

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Dec. 9, 2016.

While I admit I’m still not 100 percent certain on whether to spell “kozmic” in the title with a ‘k’ or with a ‘c’ on the end, that question did nothing ultimately to diminish enjoyment of Denver emergents Cloud Catcher‘s sophomore outing. Topped off by one of the best album covers of the year, the follow-up to their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), took the progressive casting of that record to a place entirely more raw and rock-driven, willfully roughing up the edges even as it showed marked creative growth on a relatively quick turnaround. The must-hear bass tone of “Beyond the Electric Sun” and “Super Acid Magick” was icing on a cake of choice riffing and Hendrixian lead swirl, and the shuffle they elicited was enough to make even the most stubborn of asses (i.e. mine) think about moving.

17. Ruby the Hatchet, Planetary Space Child

ruby the hatchet planetary space child

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 29.

After the neo-garage manifestations of their 2015 sophomore outing, Valley of the Snake (review here), it was clear Philly psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet were a force when it came to songwriting. What was less obvious was what they’d do with that going forward. On Planetary Space Child, at least, the answer is they’ll take it to Freaktown. The melody-happy, organ-laced swirlmasters conjured presence kosmiche enough to justify the album’s title, and around the cast-in-moon-rock structures of the swinging “Pagan Ritual” and the playfully doomed “Symphony of the Night,” Ruby the Hatchet built a multifaceted weirdoist triumph the likes of which simply doesn’t come along every year, establishing themselves as more reliable and less predictable than ever: an absolute win.

16. Alunah, Solennial

alunah solennial

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 1.

It’s been the case more or less all along with UK forest rockers Alunah that their nature-minded material and heavy rolling grooves have had their haunting aspects, but with the production of Conan‘s Chris Fielding behind it, Solennial — their fourth LP and first on Svart — brought this to new levels entirely. The songs, memorable like footprints in the woods, are somewhat bittersweet in context now, since founding guitarist/vocalist Sophie Day announced in September she was leaving the band, but as the group will move forward led by guitarist Dave Day and recently acquired new singer Siân Greenaway, intrigue remains high at what the future might bring and the impact of Solennial is undiminished.

15. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream

mindkult-lucifers-dream

Released by Transcending Obscurity Records and Caligari Records.

Virginia-based doomgazing garage cult solo-project Mindkult has thus far managed to keep some of the mystique around its sole inhabitant, Fowst, which is admirable in a way. As the multi-instrmentalist, vocalist and producer this year answered the promise of last year’s Witch’s Oath (review here) debut, he did so around a swath of purposeful miseries, loose devil worship and other dark thematics, casting an atmospheric darkness matched head-on by the tonal murk of his riffs. Through this, however, the songwriting was no less memorable than on the first offering, and as the project moves forward, one can only hope that Fowst will continue to use that as the core aspect buried six feet under his other, formidable stylistic achievements. That certainly was how it worked out on Lucifer’s Dream.

14. Argus, From Fields of Fire

argus from fields of fire
Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Sept. 1.

Behold ye perhaps the most underrated band in heavy metal. Regardless of subgenre, style, strata, whatever, it’s hard to listen to From Fields of Fire and think of Pittsburgh’s Argus as anything else. The five-piece’s fourth album continued to owe part of its sound to doom, but was much more encompassing than simply that, touching on aspects of classic metal with a command that left one wondering how they hadn’t yet been tapped to open for Judas Priest on that band’s next tour. Victory abounds on a per-song basis throughout the nine-tracker, and whether it was the emotional crux of “Hour of Longing” or the catchy fistpump righteousness of “Devils of Your Time” or the 11-minute progressive reach of “Infinite Lives/Infinite Doors,” Argus once again crafted a work nigh-unmatched in poise and class.

13. Uffe Lorenzen, Galmandsværk

Uffe-Lorenzen-Galmandsvaerk

Released by Bad Afro Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

For the first outing ever to be issued under his real name, Denmark’s Uffe Lorenzen — aka Lorenzo Woodrose of garage-psych pioneers Baby Woodrose — danced between acid folk singer-songwriterisms like “Flippertøs” and more expansive jamming on “På Kanten Af Verden,” all the while retaining his distinct structural and arrangement sensibilities and creating a flowing vibe that was nothing less than a pure joy of classic-form psychedelia. The most serene and pastoral freakout one was likely to witness in 2017, easily, Galmandsværk resounded in the Mellotron-laced “Høj Som Et Højhus” and was no less at home in the acoustic spaciousness of the earlier “Remits Tyranni,” able to wander where it pleased and find steady ground in molten surroundings.

12. The Flying Eyes, Burning of the Season

the flying eyes burning of the season

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 11.

A welcome return from a viciously underappreciated band, The Flying EyesBurning of the Season marked the Baltimore four-piece’s first offering for Ripple Music and first since 2013’s Lowlands (review here), a four-year stretch during which the band kept busy touring Europe and South America, the latter also being where they recorded these songs with Gabriel Zander at Estudio Superfuzz in Brazil. The tonal depth resulting from that process was enough to make the collection a highlight, but it was the songs themselves that most stood out, benefiting from the band’s expanded reach and legitimate, hard-won maturity. Especially for a group who’ve done so much work on the road over their years — to be fair, the US has been pretty low priority in that regard — they remain a secret kept too well.

11. Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper

bell witch mirror reaper

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed Dec. 27.

Doomed extremity simply unmatched in its scope. The song of the year for 2017. An accomplishment the likes of which is prone to happen maybe once or twice in a generation. None of this seems to really speak to the entirety of the achievement that is Bell Witch‘s Mirror Reaper — the single-song, 83-minute full-length issued by the Seattle duo like a challenge in the face of mortality itself. Beautiful, devastating and weighted like the grave, its sprawl utterly consumed the listener, and I firmly believe it will be years before its depths are fully processed. Some offerings are bigger than the year in which they’re released. Mirror Reaper would seem to function on a scale of its own, and though it could easily be read as a litmus test for audience punishment, the truth of the listening experience is both more emotionally complex and more fulfilling than simple hyperbole can capture.

10. Monolord, Rust

monolord rust

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Oct. 26.

The story all along with Gothenburg’s Monolord has been tone. Tone tone tone. Crush crush crush. Riffs riffs riffs. Nothing wrong with any of that, but their third album, Rust, proves once and for all that there’s more to the trio than “cool riffs bro” and post-Electric Wizard nod. Catchy cuts like “Dear Lucifer” and rolling opener “Where Death Meets the Sea” brought a sense of space leading to the later sprawl of “Forgotten Lands” and “At Niceae,” and the band settled into an individualized, lumbering psychedelia that moved forward from 2015’s Vænir (review here), not leaving behind the heft that earned them their reputation, but not at all being limited by it either in scope or overall approach. Three records in, Rust brought forth Monolord‘s greatest sonic expansion yet and gave rise to the feeling that their true potential was just starting to come to fruition. Also, crush crush crush. Cool riffs, bro.

9. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

vokonis-the-sunken-djinn

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 5.

The Sunken Djinn is Vokonis‘ second full-length in as many years, and in addition to serving as their Ripple debut where 2016’s Olde One Ascending (review here) landed via Ozium Records, it was a feast for hungry riff hounds. In defiance of its quick turnaround, it showed a firm evolution taking place within the upstart Swedish trio of guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson, bassist/backing vocalist Jonte Johansson and drummer Emil Larsson, whose range overall was greater in tracks like “Rapturous” and the torrential “Blood Vortex” while nonetheless controlled in its delivery. Their Sleep-y origins still a factor sound-wise, Vokonis were able just the same to push themselves ahead into new sonic ground in fittingly lumbering fashion, and the character they brought to “The Sunken Djinn,” “Calling from the Core” and the noise-caked “Maelstroem” seemed to speak to a burgeoning sense of atmospheric focus taking hold as well. Still so much potential here.

8. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals

electric moon stardust rituals

Released by Sulatron Records. Reviewed April 7.

Do I even need to remotely justify having Electric Moon‘s first studio album in six years on this list? Was it not just like a love-letter issued by the cosmos itself? What more explanation could possibly be necessary? Not that the German trio haven’t dropped copious, glorious live outings all the while, but to have Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, “Komet Lulu” Neudeck and Marcus Schnitzler follow-up 2011’s The Doomsday Machine (review here) with four cuts culminating in the 22-minute sprawl of “(You Will) Live Forever Now” was high on the list of the year’s most satisfying psychedelic journeys. Constantly exploring, their methods always seem geared toward finding the molten essence of space rock itself, and though the songs on Stardust Rituals were a little more crafted than some of their straight-up improv jams, they nonetheless showed there are many avenues one might take to get to the heart of the sun.

7. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun-blood-stories-it-runs-around-the-room-with-us

Self-released. Reviewed May 1.

This one is personal, and by that I mean I love this fucking band. Similar to my experience with their 2015 sophomore outing, Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), the third record by Boise-based trio of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) was one that I simply could not put down. Even now, seeing the name of the record is all I need to have songs like “The Great Destroyer” and the immersive midsection in “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” stuck in my head, let alone the ultra-brazen, searingly-pissed “Burn” noise assault that finished the album and in the span of 90 seconds turned all the psychedelic warmth and serenity on its face with a visceral anger completely unforeseen and jarring, turning it from a depth-laden execution of adventurous neo-psych and indie into a project of conceptual artistry with all the efficiency of the chemical reaction it sought to portray. If you missed it, your loss.

6. The Atomic Bitchwax, Force Field

the-atomic-bitchwax-force-field

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Dec. 7.

Songs like “Alaskan Thunder Fuck,” “Humble Brag” and “Earth Shaker (Which Doobie U Be?)” assured that the defining character of Force Field, the sixth album from New Jersey’s The Atomic Bitchwax, was pure scorch. That made the 12-cut outing a more than worthy follow-up for 2015’s  Gravitron (review here), which introduced this more speed-rock-minded, aggressive delivery from the tight-as-nails trio, and while they proved they could still lock in a slower groove on the organ-topped finisher “Liv a Little,” head-spinners like the instrumental “Fried, Dyed and Layin’ to the Side” and “Houndstooth” came across like the fruit of the band pushing themselves to the limits of their physical ability in terms of tempo, and their ride along the edge of that line brought thrills at every turn. And make no mistake, there were a lot of turns. Fortunately, bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik, guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and drummer Bob Pantella seemingly had a corresponding hook in their pocket for each one of them. This band is a national treasure.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

atavismo inerte

Released by Temple of Torturous. Reviewed Feb. 21.

Warm, fuzzy tones, rhythmic shifts right out of classic progressive rock, melodic intricacy and periodic excursions into glorious psychedelic drift: I’m not sure what wasn’t to like about Inerte, Atavismo‘s second full-length behind 2014’s Desintegración (review here). Comprising five tracks of unmistakable flow and jam-laden fluidity, it was immersive with landmarks along the way to keep the listener from getting too lost, and whether or not one spoke Spanish, the three-piece of Jose “Poti” Moreno (ex-Viaje a 800Mind!), bassist/vocalist Mateo and drummer/vocalist Sandri Pow (also ex-Mind!) made it easy to follow along their purposefully meandering path, offering guidance no less skillful on the 11-minute fuzz-freaker “El Sueño” than the dream-toned linear build of “Belleza Cuatro.” There were very, very few albums I listened to more this year than this one, which is precisely why it is where it is on this list.

4. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe

samsara-blues-experiment-one-with-the-universe

Released by Electric Magic Records and Abraxas Records. Reviewed May 4.

Four years between records isn’t at all an unheard of stretch. It’s not the longest on this list by any means. But with Berlin heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment, it really seemed like the band was done, so to have them come back with such force on One with the Universe was, as I know I said at several points throughout the last 12 months, one of the year’s total highlights. Tracked by former bassist Richard Behrens, the group’s fourth album answered the extended-track spread of 2013’s Waiting for the Flood (review here) with a deeper sense of sonic variety, and while the 15-minute title-cut and opener “Vispassana” still had plenty of room for jamming out and even six-minute centerpiece “Glorious Daze” found room for some flourish of organ and sitar, guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters, drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt rightly featured the chemistry they’ve built as a trio live and brought to the songs a renewed sense of vigor, sounding — and hopefully being — truly inspired. Waiting for the Flood capped a period of marked productivity across several years. Fingers crossed One with the Universe begins that cycle anew.

3. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World

Elder-Reflections-of-a-Floating-World

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed May 23.

You just can’t consider Elder‘s Reflections of a Floating World outside the context of the progressive achievement that was their prior outing, 2015’s Lore (review here). Where the trio — based now between Massachusetts and Berlin, Germany — took their first two outings, 2008’s self-titled debut (discussed here) and 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here), to find their sound, which they began to showcase on the 2012 Spires Burn/Release EP (review here), it was Lore that brought to fruition the potential that had always been waiting to be unleashed by the trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto, and Reflections of a Floating World had the daunting task of being the next further step from that landmark moment. To say the band rose to the occasion is perhaps to undersell the cohesion at work in consuming-but-cohesive pieces like opener “Sanctuary” or “Blind” or “Staving off the Truth,” which brought together clear-headed psychedelia around a wash that seemed to stem as much from rhythm as melody. As they’ve matured stylistically and become a major touring presence, Elder have made themselves perhaps the most pivotal American heavy rock act going, and Reflections of a Floating World brings them to the discovery of yet another apex while at the same time giving zero indication it will be the last one they find.

2. Colour Haze, In Her Garden

colour haze in her garden

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed March 9.

Of course, the bonus of writing about Colour Haze in just about any context is that you get to put Colour Haze on while you’re doing it, and in the case of the 12th LP from these Munich heavy psych forebears, that’s an even more appealing prospect. After stripping down some of the arrangement flourish with 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), the 13-track/73-minute 2LP In Her Garden brought a revitalized sonic expansion, but as ever, it wasn’t just the horns or the strings or the blend of keys and acoustics that made In Her Garden the unbridled joy that it was and continues to be — it was the underlying performance from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald that gave the album the stem on which its garden grew. That’s not to say Jan Faszbender‘s work on modular synth, Rhodes, and Hammond or the arrangements of strings, tuba, bass-clarinet and trombone throughout hurt anything, just that as Colour Haze have grown into incorporating these elements into their groundbreaking aesthetic, they haven’t left behind the organic chemistry and necessary live feel that has helped them influence a generation of followers over their more than 20-year career. One came through as much as the other on In Her Garden, and that balance gave the overarching warmth of their self-recorded tonality yet another level on which to engage their audience. I’ll be a sucker for Colour Haze for as long as I live, and I have absolutely no problem admitting to and owning that.

1. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the war

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Jan. 27.

It was clear early on that Nashville four-piece All Them Witches were contending hard for Album of the Year with Sleeping Through the War, their fourth long-player and second for New West following the mellow vibes of 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here). What finally sealed it? The songs. Working with producer Dave Cobb, the each-member-essential lineup of bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, key-specialist Allan van Cleave (Rhodes, Mellotron, piano, organ, etc.) and drummer/graphic artist Robby Staebler solidified their approach in exciting new ways on early cuts like the grunge-crunching “Don’t Bring Me Coffee” and the shuffling “Bruce Lee,” which hit in succession following the fluid lead-in of opener “Bulls,” an introduction of the organic psychedelia and heavy blues that the loose-swinging of “3-5-7″‘s nigh-on-gospel chorus and subsequent, almost maddeningly catchy “Am I Going Up?” would continue to push outward, thereby setting a linear course into a consciousness-capturing side B with “Alabaster” and the jammier “Cowboy Kirk” and “Internet” playing between melodic nuance and mindful, go-with-it drift. The unflinching strength of the material was matched perhaps only by the understatement of its delivery, which was the more staggering considering how easily the arrangements of background vocals on “Am I Going Up?” or  “3-5-7” could have come through as overblown or self-indulgent, and by the time they got down to the light weirdo-bluesy stomp of “Internet” — the key lyric and hook being, “Guess I’ll go live on the internet” — there was no doubting the genuine nature of the realization Sleeping Through the War represented for All Them Witches. Coupling that feeling of achievement with the sheer repeatability of the listening experience itself left no doubt that 2017 belonged to these tracks and the marvelous way the band wove between them, and that whatever other sounds All Them Witches may go on to explore and whatever else they may accomplish as a result, Sleeping Through the War was a truly special moment in their evolution that, as with the best of offerings in any year, will continue to resonate long after the calendar page has turned.

The Next 20

You know, I used to feel like once you got past a top 20, the numbers were arbitrary. Then I felt that way about the top 30. This year, I think I agonized more about what to include in numbers 31-50 than I did between 30 and the album of the year. Put that in your “go figure” file while you chew on these picks:

31. Cities of Mars, Temporal Rifts
32. The Midnight Ghost Train, Cypress Ave.
33. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
34. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
35. PH, Eternal Hayden
36. Sasquatch, Maneuvers
37. Young Hunter, Dayhiker
38. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
39. Ufomammut, 8
40. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
41. Paradise Lost, Medusa
42. Beastmaker, Inside the Skull
43. Arduini / Balich, Dawn of Ages
44. Primitive Man, Caustic
45. Motorpsycho, The Tower
46. Arbouretum, Song of the Rose
47. Hymn, Perish
48. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle
49. Pallbearer, Heartless
50. Dool, Here Now There Then

There’s so, so much good stuff here. So much. The Cities of Mars debut was a treasure and the only reason it wasn’t on my top debuts list was because I haven’t had the chance to go back in and put it on. The Young Hunter record? Some of their best work yet. Hell, that Arduini / Balich album alone! Then you’ve got huge releases by Pallbearer, Ufomammut, Paradise Lost, Primitive Man, on and on. Like I said at the outset, one more album and my head was gonna explode this year. Way too much to ever hope to keep up with. One thing though I felt like I really wanted to emphasize including was Dool. They’re in the last spot, but make no mistake, in atmosphere and songwriting that album was something really special and loaded with potential. It’s not there because it came in last. It’s there to highlight the point of how much it should be on this list.

What’s that? More records? Okay…

Honorable Mentions

In case you also weren’t completely overwhelmed this year, maybe another batch of records will do the trick. Here’s some presented alphabetically:

Anathema, The Optimist
Blackfinger, When Colors Fade Away
Child, Blueside
Cortez, The Depths Below
Demon Eye, Prophecies and Lies
Elbrus, Elbrus
Electric Wizard, Wizard Bloody Wizard
Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury
Five Horse Johnson, Jake Leg Boogie
Mirror Queen, Verdigris
The Obsessed, Sacred
T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
Outsideinside, Sniff a Hot Rock
Queens of the Stone Age, Villains
Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
Steak, No God to Save
Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light
Valborg, Endstrand
With the Dead, Love from With the Dead

Plus: Abronia, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Iron Monkey, Band of Spice, Puta Volcano, Galley Beggar, Heavy Traffic, Coltsblood, REZN, Green Meteor, Demon Head, Lord, Grigax, The Raynbow, Carpet, Norska, Les Lekin, Slow, Ixion, and I’m sure more that I’ll add as the names continue to pop into my head.

I did this back in June as well, but I also want to draw attention to a swath of quality live albums that came out this year. The top pick should be no surprise if you’ve been hanging around the site of late:

Live Albums:
1. SubRosa, Subdued Live at Roadburn
2. Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen
3. Slomatics, Futurians Live at Roadburn
4. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
5. Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion
5. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn

Thank You

It’s been a hell of a year, obviously. Musically and otherwise. As always, I cannot possibly come close to thanking you enough for your incredible and ongoing support of The Obelisk, of what this site is, what it’s become over its nearly nine-year run, what it will continue to become going forward from here. It is astounding to me and deeply humbling that you would possibly take time out of your busy day and your busy life to check out what’s going on here, and words fail me continually when it comes to feeling like I can properly convey my appreciation for that. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Thank you for reading. Tattoo it on my forehead.

Thank you to The Patient Mrs. for understanding how much I need to be doing this, to Slevin for keeping the site running on the technical end, to Behrang Alavi for taking over hosting earlier this year, to my family for their ongoing support, to The Pecan for sleeping late some mornings and giving me time to write, and to everyone who ever shared a link on social media or made a comment on a post or anything like that. To long-time readers and to newcomers alike — thank you so much. This year has seen a fair share of ups and downs, but the support this site gets sustains me in ways I never expected it could, and that would be impossible without you. Please know how crucial that is to me.

Well, that should do it. I know there are probably disagreements about where things landed on the list, what was included, what was left out, etc., as there always are. All comments are of course welcome — only thing I’d ask is you please keep it civil and respectful of the opinions of others. Otherwise, have at it. Please.

And one more time, thank you for reading.

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 of 2017 So Far

Posted in Features on June 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top-20-2017-so-far

The time has come to take a look at some of the best albums of 2017 so far. I hardly know where to start. In some ways, this list is harder to put together than the end-of-year one that comes out in December, because by then not only do you have the full year to draw on, but it’s easier to sort of put a narrative to the course of events of 12 months, whereas in this case, obviously, the story is half told. So I guess if the list feels incomplete, that might be part of why.

Even with just six months to work from, the list has become fairly immense. I’ve been keeping track of 2017 releases since about September of last year, and the amount of stuff that’s come through has been staggering. Every year brings good music, and the basic fact of the matter is that if you don’t think so it’s because you’re either unwilling to find it or unwilling to let yourself hear it, but 2017 has been a multi-tiered assault of sounds from all over the world, and it seems like whatever you might be into, the universe stands ready to accommodate.

There’s a lot to say about that — is the market flooded? — but it’s a topic for a different post. I’ll keep it short here and just say that as always, it’s an honor to be covering the stuff that I cover and that I deeply appreciate you taking the time to read. I hope if there’s a release you feel deeply passionate about that you don’t see on my list below that you’ll please let me know about it in the comments.

Also, please note that in order to qualify for this list, a record had to come out on or before June 9. That’s the cutoff.

Okay, here goes:

The Top 20 of 2017 So Far

elder reflections of a floating world

1. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World
2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War
3. Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe
4. Colour Haze, In Her Garden
5. Atavismo, Inerte
6. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us
7. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust
8. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn
9. The Obsessed, Sacred
10. Mothership, High Strangeness
11. Spaceslug, Time Travel Dilemma
12. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
13. Alunah, Solennial
14. Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical
13. Rozamov, This Mortal Road
14. Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace
15. PH, Eternal Hayden
16. Geezer, Psychoriffadelia
17. T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain
18. Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable
19. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
20. Lord, Blacklisted

Notes

If you keep up with this site at all, there probably aren’t a lot of surprises in there. These are all records that have been discussed at great length over the last six months, reviewed, streamed, analyzed, whathaveyou’d all the way. If you don’t believe me, search any of the names. Still, as far as my personal picks go and who I think has crafted something special over the last six months, this feels pretty representative to me. I managed to live for a full week with the list as you see it above, without making changes. That’s usually my standard.

And as always, it’s a combination of what I’ve listened to most and what I feel has had the greatest impact thus far into the year. Between the two, there was little doubt Elder would take the top spot. I’ve probably listened to the All Them Witches record more than anything else this year, including Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World, but the truth is the Massachusetts trio are working at a level of their own making in terms of their sonic progression, and that they’ve emerged as one of if not the most pivotal American underground heavy rock bands going. The situation was much the same when they put out Lore in 2015 and claimed that year’s top-album spot, but even since then their sound has expanded and they continue to demand ultimate respect.

As for the All Them Witches album — absolute stunner. The increased depth of their arrangements on Sleeping Through the War came at no expense of songwriting, resulting in ultra-memorable material that could either wash over you with melody or shove you out of your seat with the force of its rhythm, and that band continues to be a treasure. No other way to put it.

From there, we move into what I think are the four best heavy psych offerings of 2017 so far, with Samsara Blues Experiment, Colour Haze, Atavismo and Sun Blood Stories, in that order. Samsara Blues Experiment’s return has been a joy to witness and their first album in four years lived up to the occasion. Colour Haze expanded the palette from their last album with In Her Garden and proved as immersive as always. I’m still getting to know that record. Atavismo’s second full-length upped the progressive influences without losing fluidity or cohesion in songwriting, and Sun Blood Stories’ hypnotic shoegaze offered expansive thrills and a sense of varied, beautifully crafted exploration.

A pair of exciting young bands thereafter in Colorado’s Cloud Catcher, whose boogie is right-on-right-on and whose development continues to hold much potential, and Vokonis, whose crushing riffs on The Sunken Djinn were met with an increased focus on structure and tightening of approach that maximized overall impact. The Obsessed’s unexpected return could only be called a triumphant one, and Mothership’s third long-player found them working in a richer sense of mood than previous outings, adding yet more character to what was still a blast of good-time rock and roll. They round out the top 10 in full command of who they are as players.

Granted, the next 10 releases are kind of all over the place, but I think that just shows the overarching quality of work being done across the board. From Spaceslug’s melodic stoner-psych to Electric Moon’s studio return — so, so, so good — to Alunah’s continued growth in nature-worshiping heavy and Arc of Ascent’s comebacker of rolling heavy riffs and metaphysical themes, there’s been so much to take in. I especially like the pairing of Rozamov and Siena Root as a sense of scope for 2017 so far; the former being so dark and crushing and the latter who lived up to calling their record A Dream of Lasting Peace. You want to know both ends of the spectrum? There they are.

PH’s Eternal Hayden gets a nod for its effective reset of the context of that band following the completion of their trilogy of albums, and Geezer’s Psychoriffadelia might have been something of a tossoff in the making, but the level at which the New York trio jams nonetheless assures it a spot here. Plus, a Nazareth cover. So duh.

I couldn’t help but include T.G. Olson’s Foothills Before the Mountain on the list as the Across Tundras frontman creeps closer to a full-band sound for his solo work, adding to his acoustic singer-songwriter foundations, and the crush of Telekinetic Yeti’s post-Sleep riffing evoked so many nods I thought they deserved one here as well. Placing The Devil and the Almighty Blues was difficult, but especially after seeing them live, I felt like I had a better idea of where they were coming from on II, so knew they belonged somewhere, even if it was tucked in at the end. And of course, Lord. Always killer, always experimenting, always chaotic. Never have grind and sludge sounded more cohesive together. They’re the band I wish Soilent Green had become, and yes, I mean that.

Honorable Mention

Let’s do another 10 releases, shall we?

21. Beastmaker, Inside the Skull
22. Arduini/Balich, Dawn of Ages
23. Brume, Rooster
24. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues
25. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
26. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
27. Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light
28. Steak, No God to Save
29. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
30. Dool, Here Now There Then

And just to make the point, here are even more worthy of note in this space:

Elbrus, Elbrus
Cortez, The Depths Below
Ecstatic Vision, Raw Rock Fury
Child, Blueside (a December 2016 release, maybe, but I think the vinyl was this year, so whatever)
Pallbearer, Heartless
Spidergawd, IV
Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
Loss, Horizonless

There are of course other names as well that come to mind. Like I said at the outset, it’s a crowded field: Hymn, Arbouretum, Green Meteor, REZN, Demon Head, Galley Beggar, Devil’s Witches, Orango, Heavy Traffic, Coltsblood, Mt. Mountain, Vokonis, Solstafir, High Plains, on and on.

Also worth highlighting several really, really quality live records that have surfaced so far this year. I didn’t really know where to place them among the other studio offerings, but they deserve note for sure:

Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen
Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
Enslaved, Roadburn Live

More to Come

Of course, we’re still just barely halfway through the year, so keep on the lookout for more to follow. If you didn’t see my massive 200+ albums to watch for list in January, it has many that have come out and many more still to surface, but here are a few highlight names as well that you’re going to want to keep an eye on in the months ahead:

Queens of the Stone Age
Radio Moscow
The Atomic Bitchwax
Kadavar
Ufomammut
The Midnight Ghost Train
Moon Rats
Clamfight
Egypt
the Melvins
Bison Machine
Seedy Jeezus
High on Fire
Monster Magnet

Thanks for Reading

Before I check out, I’d like to give special mention to Lo-Pan’s In Tensions EP as the best short release of the year thus far. Along with EPs from Godhunter, Kings Destroy, Solace and Shroud Eater, it has assured those seeking a quick fix are handed their ass in return for asking.

Well, that’s about where I’m at with it. As per usual, I’m sure there are things I forgot and/or left off here, because I’m human and whatnot, so please if you have something to add, feel free to do so in the comments so long as you can keep it cordial. No name calling. I’m sensitive and you’ll ruin my whole day. I mean that.

Thanks again for being a part of this and here’s to an excellent rest of 2017.

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Atavismo Take Track-by-Track Look at Inerte (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on April 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

atavismo

If you’re getting tired of hearing me talk about it, that’s probably just too bad. This Friday, April 7, is the release date for Atavismo‘s wonderfully progressive, lush and psychedelic second album, Inerte (review here). It’s coming out via Temple of Torturous, and between the recent European tour announcement, their video for “La Maldición del Zisco” (posted here), the review/track premiere linked above, the initial album announcement, and my own Most Anticipated of 2017 list, the record has been an ongoing theme for the early part of the year. When I like something, I say so. It’s not like I’m doing this to keep secrets.

atavismo euro tourAnd not that I couldn’t keep rambling about its ongoing appeal, from the opening rush of “Pan y Dolor” to the musings of “Volarás” at the finale, but it seems only fair as it is release week to give someone else a shot. The band, say. Atavismo — the Algeciras-based three-piece of Jose “Poti” Moreno (ex-Viaje a 800, Mind!), bassist/vocalist Mateo and drummer/vocalist Sandri Pow (also ex-Mind!) — have been kind enough to let me host the full stream of Inerte, and while I’d normally pair that kind of thing with a review, that’s already been done, so instead, we’ll get their take on the record.

Below, you’ll find the five-track entirety of Inerte for your streaming pleasure, and I do hope you’ll make your way through it front to back. Beneath that is a track-by-track look at the album courtesy of Atavismo themselves, which is doubly appreciated for the fact that English isn’t their first language.

With special thanks to Becky Laverty for coordinating, I hope you enjoy:

Atavismo – Track by Track Through Inerte

“Pan y Dolor”

“Pan y Dolor” is the first track on the album — and one that we premiered here with the Obelisk! As we said at the time, this song is something of a tribute to the Spanish band, Triana. The act of breathing becomes the succinct exercise of feeling beyond paradigms and self inner worlds. The album starts with some serious psychedelia.

“El Sueño”

“El Sueño” is a long walk in the moonlight, catching all your senses from the first second. When you are completely in charge of creating your own album, you get to decide exactly how it will sound, then the results are a dream come true. We’re very happy with the way this sounds.

“La Maldición del Zisco”

“La Maldición del Zisco” suggests being a decadent trickster. Pot’s amazing vocal melody flies over an insidious bass reminding us of a real ’80s essence, that one which made us fall in love with riding on coloured cotton clouds and apocalyptical rainbows.

“Belleza Cuatro”

“Belleza Cuatro” is a slice of classic psychedelia — and in our opinion, a perfect, original crepuscular soundtrack.

“Volarás”

Inerte finishes with the track “Volarás,” a long way from the intense rhythm of the beginning of the album; it becomes a lysergic and poetic journey through our hearts. Guitar solos and harmony voices destroy our worst fears and make them become the most beautiful feelings of love and real truth.

Overall, Inerte is a neccesary trip, the unhurried sound which is hiding between your future visions; the best auditive pleasure you didn’t know you were looking for.

Atavismo on Thee Facebooks

Atavismo on Bandcamp

CD preorder at Temple of Torturous

Black LP preorder at Temple of Torturous

Clear LP preorder at Temple of Torturous

Temple of Torturous on Thee Facebooks

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Atavismo Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

atavismo

Glad to see Algeciras progressive psychedelic rock trio Atavismo getting out in support of their second album, Inerte (review here). That record, still forthcoming with an April 7 official release date through Temple of Torturous and a recently unveiled video for “La Maldición del Zisco” (originally posted here) that you can see below, has been an early favorite of 2017 for me, building on the fluidity of  2014’s engaging four-track debut, Desintegración (review here), while at the same time fleshing out a more pointed approach. Proggier, in other words, but in a classic, patient and not-at-all showy sense of the style. If you haven’t heard the album yet — and it’s okay if you haven’t, what with it not being out and all — keep it in mind. You should hear it.

I know I’ve said that before. Hard to imagine this will be the last time I say it either. Some points are worth reiterating. In any case, Atavismo‘s upcoming Euro run through Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Belgium and maybe the Netherlands has a few dates open, and if you’re in that part of the world and can help them out, well, do that.

From the social medias:

atavismo euro tour

ATAVISMO EUROPEAN TOUR

Full of happiness for announcing this Tour Poster, lots of working behind it and not only from us (the design is amazing, thanks again Antonio Ramírez).

THANKS TO EVERYONE who has helped us to book some shows (still some of them TBA), your support has been incommensurable. We love you with all our hearts. This wish has become true.

14.04 El Perro Club Madrid ES
15.04 Inferno Pamplona / Iruna ES
16.04 Sala Shake Bilbao ES
18.04 Tiefgrund Berlin DE
20.04 Immerhin Wurzburg DE
21.04 Villa Nachttanz Heidelberg DE
22.04 Rock Pub Moskva Bilina CZ
23.04 TBA CZ or DE
25.04 The Mix ArtsSense Brussels BE
26.04 TBA NL or BE
27.04 Bombardon Gent BE
28.04 Jam Club Koblenz DE
29.04 TBA FR
30.04 Rocksound Barcelona ES

ATAVISMO are:
Poti: Guitar and vocals
Sandra: Drums and vocals
Mateo: Bass and vocals

https://www.facebook.com/Atavismo-233096556878903/
https://atavismo.bandcamp.com/
http://templeoftorturous.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ToTRecords/

Atavismo, “La Maldición del Zisco” official video

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Atavismo Post “La Maldición del Zisco” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

atavismo

Like the album it’s meant to herald, the new video from Spanish trio Atavismo is deeply colorful, expansive, and underscored by a live-feeling performance. The record is called Inerte (review here), and it’s due out April 7 via Temple of Torturous, which also released the band’s stellar 2014 debut, Desintegración (review here), and the song in the clip is “La Maldición del Zisco,” the centerpiece of the five-track offering. Making use of ascending and descending scales throughout, it makes a particularly resonant impression in putting emphasis on the more progressive take Atavismo show this time around, but amid the headphone-ready synth swirl, layers of vocal melody and winding guitar figures, there are also bouncing drums and a funky bassline, and neither seems the slightest bit out of place. This is among the core factors in what makes Inerte work so well.

I’ve gone on — at length, and multiple times — about this band and how I think they’re onto something special. I know sometimes it’s hard to wade through. The internet is a place full of hyperbole and it’s easy for things to get lost in the wash of opinions, noise and distraction. Still. Take a couple minutes and check out “La Maldición del Zisco,” especially if you haven’t had the chance yet to listen to Atavismo or if you missed the “Pan y Dolor” premiere that went with my review linked above. Aside from the fact that I wouldn’t say these things about Atavismo or about Inerte if I didn’t think they were true, I genuinely believe that good music has the power to make your day, week, month, life better. I believe good art enriches who we are as people, and part of the reason I’m going to encourage you to check out this track as I have Atavismo‘s work all along is because I think it offers the kind of warmth that improves one’s existence. Maybe it’s not for everyone. That’s cool too. At least you will have tried.

That’s my spiel. Until the next one.

Please enjoy “La Maldición del Zisco” below. Inerte is out April 7 on Temple of Torturous, which posted the info you’ll find under the video:

Atavismo, “La Maldición del Zisco” official video

Video produced by: Cesar Marquez (http://baudarketypes.cl/).

Hailing from Spain, and with a critically acclaimed debut album, Desintegración, already under their belts, ATAVISMO are exploring new territories with their second full length release. Breaking away from the space rock jams of their debut, ATAVISMO have maintained a psychedelic edge, only this time around the evolution of the band is reflected in their more compact, progressive sounds.

The writing process starts with a jam session – as many great creations have – before a firmer structure is applied to the songs. Lysergic lyrics revolve around soulful feelings, love, and bad dreams which the band describe as “existential poetry”. The result, among other things, is a submersion into the Andalusian rock legacy of the legendary band Triana, without losing sight of more current means of understanding psychedelic or progressive rock from bands like Black Mountain, Wolfpeople or Motorpsycho.

Inerte was recorded in October 2016 at Trafalgar Estudios, El Palmar (Cádiz), Spain.

ATAVISMO are:
Poti: Guitar and vocals
Sandra: Drums and vocals
Mateo: Bass and vocals

Atavismo on Thee Facebooks

Atavismo on Bandcamp

CD at Temple of Torturous

Black LP at Temple of Torturous

Clear LP at Temple of Torturous

Temple of Torturous on Thee Facebooks

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Atavismo, Inerte: A la Deriva con Propósito (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

atavismo inerte

[Click play above to hear the premiere of ‘Pan y Dolor’ from Atavismo’s Inerte. Album is out April 7 via Temple of Torturous and can be preordered on CD, black vinyl and clear vinyl.]

Expectations for the second album from Spanish trio Atavismo were set pretty high following their gorgeously cosmic and serene 2014 debut, Desintegración (review here). Inerte makes short work of them. Expanding from four to five included tracks, it sees guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Jose “Poti” Moreno (ex-Viaje a 800, Mind!), bassist/vocalist Mateo and drummer/vocalist Sandri Pow (also ex-Mind!) push brazenly past the fluid textures of their first outing and hold onto some sense of ethereal psych-jazz jamming — hola, “El Sueño” — as they find ultimately more progressive footing.

Released like its looser-feeling-in-hindsight predecessor through Temple of TorturousInerte answers some of the questions the band posed with the space-rocking single “Haribo” (discussed here) and affirmed for their audience that they’ll not necessarily be defined by one course or another, one sound or another, and that their goal is far more individualized than to simply execute the tenets of heavy psychedelia, space or prog rock, even as their aesthetic pulls from each of those and more besides. Songs like “Belleza Cuatro” and opener “Pan y Dolor” offer distinctive moments of resonance marked by beautiful melodies and rhythm that can either be insistent and winding, as in “Pan y Dolor”‘s first half, or barely there at all, something carrying the song forward like a gentle river current, as in the drifting guitar-led midsection of the aforementioned, 11-minute “El Sueño.” This nuanced blend is presented with a lush but natural production captured this past October at Trafalgar Estudios in Cádiz, and does nothing across its 42-minute span to rescind the invitation to the listener issued by its in medias res launch.

The tighter feel of Inerte and the uptick in progressive influence from Atavismo is as immediate as that launch itself. A quick, fuzzy lead line careens into forceful Iberian acoustic strum as the vocals arrive for the first verse. It happens fast, but is welcoming nonetheless, and a play back and forth between the electric and acoustic ensues between chorus and verses for the next several minutes, Moreno and Pow and Mateo singing together in classically prog form as a kind of mini-chorus themselves — an element of space rock willfully repurposed and put to excellent use. Shortly before the halfway point of its eight-and-a-half-minute run, “Pan y Dolor” breaks into a wash of guitar and keys/Mellotron that is as hypnotic as it is joyous, with just an undercurrent of foreboding, cutting itself off at 6:48 in order to reintroduce the acoustic strum and resume the song’s prior course, as if to say, “don’t worry, it was just a dream.” It may well have been, and if so, it wasn’t the last.

“Pan y Dolor” builds to its conclusion and “El Sueño” kicks in with lower tone and a deceptively fast tempo, Mateo‘s bass more prominent in the mix. This is the bed over which vocals soar for another soon-arriving verse, and their being somewhat more drawn out — notes held longer — than the opener prefaces the turn into calmer fare that the second track makes at about the 4:20 mark, the tension Atavismo have thus far mounted seeming to let itself go in favor of more improvised-sounding jamming driven by fuzzed-out psychedelics and effects flourish that settles in a delight of meandering wah and builds to an apex over its last couple minutes as it recalls its own early going without necessarily returning to it outright. That jam carries Inerte‘s longest inclusion to its finish and the finish of side A, ending in a cymbal wash and surge of guitar noise that emphasizes the live feel it has fostered all along.

atavismo

Centerpiece “La Maldición del Zisco” backs sparse guitar with a steady bass and drum progression and fills out its arrangement with keys, using the guitar more as an outward-ringing accent to its early verses, spacious and patient, before it at last launches into what one might call its chorus right around three minutes in. It’s a moment of taking flight through sound and Atavismo make the most of it in terms of thrust, but they’re still not forcing the song to go anywhere it doesn’t want to go.

They dip back into the verse easily and return to the mostly-instrumental chorus quicker the second time through, then proceed to jam their way out of the track, fading to silence just before the seemingly complementary “Belleza Cuatro” — the two are the shortest cuts on Inerte at 6:18 and 5:18, respectively — takes hold in a soothing trance of liquefied guitar and keys. Its importance in being positioned as the penultimate track before 10-minute closer “Volarás” shouldn’t be understated, and as MorenoMateo and Pow drift toward that grand finale, they do so with no less purpose behind them than they had rushing at the outset of “Pan y Dolor.” Vocal harmonies echo under sweet lines of guitar and softly-thudding drums, and a louder, fuller tone rises in the second half, but they still cap quietly, which gives the percussion/keyboard opening of “Volarás” an even more dramatic sensibility. This is something of a ruse, on the band’s part — another dream, maybe — because just after three minutes of building to who knows what, they juke left and shift into a particularly Floydian blend of lightly-strummed guitar, keys, bass and drums, a memorable keyboard line serving as the core around which the rest is placed.

This will be the movement that carries Atavismo out of their second record, and it seems to be a final highlight of the point that their progression is by no means a settled issue. It is striking how many different looks the band gives in these five tracks and how able they are to tie them together as a single flowing work. As “Volarás” quietly makes its way out, Inerte seems to have done as much through understatement as through its reaching new heights, and if it’s in that balance that Atavismo will find their place, then all the better. Whatever they do going forward — Moreno and Pow also have a new four-piece project in the works with former Viaje a 800 guitarist Jose Angel “Oceano” Galindo called Híbrido, adding intrigue to this release — Atavismo have exceeded the potential their debut showed with Inerte and given their listeners a work of depth and breadth that should be treasured for years to come.

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Atavismo Set April 7 Release for Inerte

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

atavismo

If you need to, take a second and get your brain properly excited for how good the second Atavismo album is going to be. Remember how frickin’ excellent their 2014 debut, Desintegración (review here), was when that arrived, and then go ahead and picture something even broader in its scope and with more depth of melody and tone. Something more progressive but not necessarily less ethereal. I’m telling you it’s one of the best records you’re going to hear this year, and yes, I say that having heard it. I’m usually shy about saying that kind of thing, but I got this one early and it’s just pure immersive bliss. It’s out April 7. I’ll be reviewing it Feb. 21 with a track premiere, so watch out. I’m already stoked to be able to share some of it with you.

The PR wire brought art and other details, and when I see preorder whatnots, I’ll pass those along as well. The release is through Temple of Torturous, as you can read below:

atavismo inerte

ATAVISMO confirm details of upcoming album, ‘Inerte’

Progressive power trio, ATAVISMO, have today announced details of their upcoming sophomore album, entitled Inerte. The five-track album will be released on April 7, via Temple of Torturous Records.

Hailing from Spain, and with a critically acclaimed debut album, Desintegración, already under their belts, ATAVISMO are exploring new territories with their second full length release. Breaking away from the space rock jams of their debut, ATAVISMO have maintained a psychedelic edge, only this time around the evolution of the band is reflected in their more compact, progressive sounds.

The writing process starts with a jam session – as many great creations do – before a firmer structure is applied to the songs. Lysergic lyrics revolve around soulful feelings, love, and bad dreams which the band describe as “existential poetry”. The result, among other things, is a submersion into the Andalusian rock legacy of the legendary band Triana, without losing sight of more current means of understanding psychedelic or progressive rock from bands like Black Mountain, Wolfpeople or Motorpsycho.

Already considered one of the most exciting and eclectic bands emerging in their home country, Inerte looks set to secure ATAVISMO similar acclaim world wide.

Inerte was recorded in October 2016 at Trafalgar Estudios, El Palmar (Cádiz), Spain.

Inerte track listing
1. Pan Y Dolor
2. El Sueño
3. La Malediction Del Zisco
4. Belleza Cuatro
5. Volarás

ATAVISMO are:
Poti: Guitar and vocals
Sandra: Drums and vocals
Mateo: Bass and vocals

Inerte will be released via Temple of Torturous on April 7. Information regarding pre-orders will be available in the coming weeks.

https://www.facebook.com/Atavismo-233096556878903/
https://atavismo.bandcamp.com/
http://templeoftorturous.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ToTRecords/

Atavismo, “AtardecerNaranjaInfierno”

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