Quarterly Review: Glanville, Destroyer of Light, The Re-Stoned, Ruff Majik, Soldat Hans, High Priestess, Weed Demon, Desert Storm, Ancient Altar, Black Box Warning

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

So Day 1’s done and it’s time to move on to Day 2. Feeling stressed and totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff still to be done? Why yes, I am. Thanks for asking. In the past, I used to handle the Quarterly Review well ahead of time. It’s always a lot to get through, but the week before, I’d be setting up back ends, chasing down links and Bandcamp players, starting reviews, etc., so that when it came time, all I had to do was the writing and plug it all into a post and I was set.

There was some prep-work done this past weekend, but especially this time, with my old laptop having been stolen in May, it’s all been way more jazz-improv. I was still adding releases as of last Friday, and writing beforehand? Shit. With the baby having just figured out how to climb? Not bloody likely. Accordingly, here we are, with much to do.

It’ll get done. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet, and if I took an extra day to get there, I’m under no delusion that anyone else would care. So there you go. Let’s hit it for Day 2:

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Glanville, First Blood

glanville first blood

First Blood is the aptly-titled five-song debut EP from Glanville, a newcomer dual-guitar outfit with established players Philip Michel (The Earwix) on lead and Christopher West (Named by the Sun, ex-Stubb, etc.) on rhythm, Wight’s Peter-Philipp Schierhorn on bass and René Hofmann on vocals, and Thomas Hoffman (ex-Bushfire) on drums. Based in Germany and the UK, the group present 23 minutes of material on their first outing, drawing from the guitar-led likes of Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest to capture early metal and present it with a heavy rocking soulfulness and modern production. The most raucous of the cuts might be centerpiece “Durga the Great,” but neither “God is Dead” nor “Dancing on Fire” before nor “Demons” and “Time to Go” after want for action, and especially the latter builds to a furious head to close out the release. Hofmann as a standalone singer wants for nothing in range or approach, and the band behind him obviously build on their collective experience to dig into a stylistic nuance rarely executed with such confidence. They’ve found a place willfully between and are working to make it theirs. Can’t ask for more than that.

Glanville on Thee Facebooks

Glanville on Bandcamp

 

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless

destroyer of light hopeless

Having just recently signed to Argonauta Records for a new album in 2019, Austin doomers Destroyer of Light follow their 2017 long-player, Chamber of Horrors (review here), with a further auditory assault in the lumbering Hopeless. Psychedelic and yet still somehow traditional doom lingers in the brain after “Nyx” and “Drowned” have finished – the latter with an Alan Watts sample discussing alcoholism – and the band moves into demos for Chamber of Horrors cuts “Into the Smoke,” “Lux Crusher” and “Buried Alive.” Between the two previously unreleased songs and those three demos, Hopeless pushes to 39 minutes, but it’s probably still fair to call it an EP because of the makeup. Either way, from the miserable plod of “Nyx,” in which each chug in the riff cycle seems to count another woe, to the rolling nod early and surprising melody late in “Drowned,” Hopeless is anything but. Anticipation was already pretty high for Destroyer of Light’s next record after the last one, but all Hopeless does is show further depth of approach and more cleverly-wielded atmospheric murk. And the more it sounds like there’s no escape, the more Destroyer of Light seem to be in their element.

Destroyer of Light on Thee Facebooks

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Stories of the Astral Lizard

the re-stonEd stories of the astral lizard

The inevitable question is “Why a lizard?” and if you make it four minutes into 11-minute opener “Fractal Panorama” and don’t have your answer, go back ad start over. Moscow heavy psych instrumentalists The Re-Stoned intend the reptile as a spirit guide for their new outing Stories of the Astral Lizard (on Oak Island Records), which follows quickly behind their late-2017 offering, Chronoclasm (review here), and given the ultra-patient desert vibes in the opener, the acoustic-laced folk-prog of “Mental Print for Free,” the languid meander of “A Companion from the Outside,” the swirling sprawl of the 16-minute “Two Astral Projections” and the final cowpoke drift of “The Heather Carnival,” one might indeed just find a lizard sunning its belly amid all the atmospheric evocations and hallucinatory vibes. I’ll take “Two Astral Projections” as the highlight, but mostly because the extra length allows the band to really dig in, but really the whole album feeds together gorgeously and is a new level of achievement when it comes to atmosphere for The Re-Stoned, who were already underappreciated and find themselves only more so now.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Seasons

Ruff Majik Seasons

Right on fuzz, right on groove, right on vibe – there isn’t much else one might say about Ruff Majik’s Seasons (on Rock Freaks Records and Forbidden Place Records) beyond “right on.” Heavy rock with twists of psychedelia, the Pretoria, South Africa, three-piece of Johni Holliday, Jimi Glass and Benni Manchino make their home on the lines of various subgenres, but wherever they go, the proceedings remain decisively heavy. To wit, a cut like “Breathing Ghosts” or the later “Birds Stole My Eyes” might dig into shuffle boogie or extreme-metal-derived thrust, but there’s a chemistry between the members and a resonant looseness that ties the material together, and as the last 14 of the total 66 minutes are dedicated to “Asleep in the Leaves,” there’s plenty of progressive weirdness in which to bask, one song moving through the next such that neither “Hanami Sakura (And the Ritual Suicide” nor the semi-doom-plodding “The Deep Blue” nor the funky twists of “Tar Black Blood” come across as predictable. Seasons might take a few listens to sink in, but it’s easily worth that effort.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Ruff Majik at Rock Freaks Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Soldat Hans, Es Taut

SOLDAT HANS ES TAUT-750

Hyperbole-worthy post-ism from Switzerland’s Soldat Hans makes their sophomore outing, Es Taut – on Wolves and Vibrancy Records as a 2LP – a forward thinking highlight. As rich in atmosphere as Crippled Black Phoenix and as lethal as Converge or Neurosis or anyone else you might dare to put next to them, the six-piece made their debut with 2014’s Dress Rehearsal (review here) and served notice of their cross-genre ambitiousness. Es Taut finds them four years later outclassing themselves and most of the rest of the planet across three extended tracks – “Story of the Flood” (26:15), “Schoner Zerbirst, Part I” (8:03) and “Schoner Zerbirst, Part II” (18:56) – that sprawl out with a confidence, poise and abrasion that is nothing short of masterful. Es Taut may be a case of a band outdoing their forebears, but whatever their legacy becomes and however many people take notice, Soldat Hans singlehandedly breathe life into the form of post-metal and prove utterly vital in so doing, not only making it their own, but pushing forward into something new in ambience and heft. This is what a band sounds like while making themselves indispensable.

Soldat Hans on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records website

 

High Priestess, High Priestess

high priestess high priestess

Calling to order a nod that’s immersive from the opening strains of leadoff/longest-track “Firefly” (still immediate points), Los Angeles trio High Priestess build out the psych-doom ritualizing of their 2017 demo (review here) to make their self-titled full-length debut through Ripple Music. The difference between the demo and the album in terms of what’s included comes down to artwork and the track “Take the Blame,” which adds its bell-of-the-ride swing between the atmosphere and melodic focus of “Banshee” and the spacious roller “Mother Forgive Me.” Potential is writ large throughout from guitarist/vocalist Katie Gilchrest, bassist/vocalist Mariana Fiel and drummer Megan Mullins, as it was on their demo, and even the harsh growls/screams on “Despise” seem to have found their place within the proceedings. As they wrap with the guitar-led jam of “Earth Dive,” High Priestess put the finishing touch on what’s hands-down one of 2018’s best debut albums and offer a reminder that as much potential as there is in their sound for future development, the accomplishments here are considerable unto themselves.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Weed Demon, Astrological Passages

weed demon astrological passages

Four tracks of gurgling riffy plunder pervade Astrological Passages, the 41-minute – longer if you get the digital version or the tape/CD, which includes the 7:24 “Dominion of Oblivion” – debut album from Columbus, Ohio’s Weed Demon. Delivered on vinyl through Electric Valley Records, the nodder/plodder carves out a cave for itself within a mountain of tonally thick stoner metal riffing, infusing a sense of sludge with shouted and growled vocals from guitarists Andy and Brian and bassist Jordan – only drummer Chris doesn’t get a mic – and an overarching sense of bludgeoning that’s Sleep-derived if not Sleep-adjacent in terms of its actual sound. Nasty? Why, yes it is, but as “Sigil of the Black Moon” heads toward the midpoint of its 10-minute run, the repetitive groove assault make the band’s intention plain: worship weed, worship riff. They get faster on “Primordial Genocide” and even sneak a bit of speed in amidst the crawl before the banjo takes hold in the second half of 12-minute closer “Jettisoned” – more Americana sludge please; thank you – but they never lose sight of their mission, and it’s the uniting factor that makes their debut hit like the brick to the head that it is.

Weed Demon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Desert Storm, Sentinels

desert storm sentinels

With Sentinels, Oxford, UK, five-piece Desert Storm pass a decade since making their self-titled debut in 2008. They followed that with 2010’s Forked Tongues (review here), 2013’s Horizontal Life and 2014’s Omniscient (review here), and though they had a single out in 2014 on H42 Records as a split with Suns of Thunder (review here) in 2016, Sentinels is their first outing on APF Records and their first long-player in four years. Burl has always been an important factor in what they do, and the High on Fire-meets-Orange Goblin slamming of “The Brawl” backs that up, but Desert Storm have left much of the hyper-dudeliness behind in favor of a more complex approach, and while Sentinels isn’t a minor undertaking at 10 songs and 51 minutes, longer cuts like “Kingdom of Horns” and “Convulsion” demonstrate the maturity they’ve brought to bear, even as the one-two punch of “Drifter”  and “The Extrovert” offer swinging-fist hooks and beard-worthy chug that assures any and all testosterone quotas are met.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

APF Records on Bandcamp

 

Ancient Altar, Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras

ancient altar cosmic purge foie gras

Based in Los Angeles, Ancient AltarScott Carlson (bass/vocals), Barry Kavener (guitar/vocals), Jesse Boldt (guitar) and Etay Levy (drums) – were last heard from on 2015’s dug-in atmosludger Dead Earth (review here), and they return lo these several years later with the two-tracker Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras, pushing into more extreme crush-of-riff with an abandon that’s anything but reckless. On the contrary, there’s some clear development in the 10-minute “Cosmic Purge” and 13-minute “Foie Gras,” rolling out oppressive grooves with blended screams/shouts and cleaner vocals. As with the last album, a drive toward individuality is central here, and Ancient Altar get there in tone while bringing forth a sense of scope to a sound so regularly thought of as closed off or off-putting in general. In its early going, “Foie Gras” hypnotizes with echoing melody and spaciousness only to resolve itself in a deeply weighted dirge march, furthering the pummel of “Cosmic Purge” itself. I don’t know if the EP – on vinyl through Black Voodoo Records, CD on Transcendental Void Records – will lead toward another album or not, but the sense of progression in Ancient Altar’s style is right there waiting to be heard, so here’s hoping.

Ancient Altar on Thee Facebooks

Black Voodoo Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Box Warning, Attendre la Mort

black box warning attendre la mort

Listen to it on headphones and the kickdrum on Black Box Warning’s Attendre la Mort is downright painful. Next-level blown-out aggro pulsations. Brutal in a physical sense. The rest of the band doesn’t follow far behind in that regard. Riffs are viscous and violent in noise rock tradition, but denser in their tone despite some underlying punkishness, and the vocals are likewise distorted and abrasive. The five-song/23-minute EP’s title translates to “Waiting for Death,” and each of the tracks is a dose: Opener “5 mg” is followed by “4 mg,” “1 mg,” “2 mg” and “3 mg.” Unsurprisingly, pills are a theme, particularly on “4 mg,” and the sense of violent threat is clear in “2 mg” and 3 mg,” which boast lines like, “Watch them all scream/Watch your enemy bleeded,” and “You are the pig/I am the butcher,” respectively. Between the lyrical and the general aural cruelty, the dis-ease is consuming and unmitigated, sludge becoming a slow-motion grindcore, and that’s clearly the point. Not stabbing, but gouging.

Black Box Warning on Thee Facebooks

Black Box Warning on Bandcamp

 

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Stone Machine Electric Set to Begin Recording Next Album

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

Clearly working on the model of not fixing that which isn’t broken in the first place, Hurst, Texas, duo Stone Machine Electric will hit Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas later this month to begin recording material for their next long-player. As was the case with their woefully prescient but nonetheless deeply enjoyable 2016 album, Sollicitus es Veritatem (review here), which went on to spawn the complementary 2017 live record, Vivere (review here), it will be none other than guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump of Wo Fat at the helm as producer. Stump did well capturing the jammy fluidity and weirdo-prone spacious noisemaking of the band the last time out, and I’d expect no less of the new outing, which if they hurry could even see release by the time Stone Machine Electric return to play this year’s Obelisk-sponsored Heavy Mash fest in October. More info on that here, but the underlying point is we should all go. You. Me. Everybody. Off to Texas.

It’s July and that’s in October, so unless Stone Machine Electric really bang it all out on the quick — hey, it could happen — the new album’s arrival might be later on or even early next year depending on pressing schedules, etc., but whenever it shows up, it’ll be welcome, as the band always seem to be underrated when it comes to their chemistry and the personality they bring to their songs.

Their latest update follows here:

stone machine electric

At the end of July, we’ll be making our way back to Crystal Clear Sound with Kent Stump (don’t act like you don’t know who he is, coughWOFATcough) behind the controls once again! We’ve got a handful of songs to record, and those will get organized and released into our next album. We’ve got no idea when that will occur. Baby steps?

In the meantime, feel free to raid our merch store so you can help us bring you more news (wink-wink, say no more)! Use the code – electricreport – at our bandcamp site and get 20% off of anything. Anything.

On 7/23/18 we’re playing with Apostle of Solitude and Pale Divine in Dallas, TX as part of their tour: https://www.facebook.com/events/231811624088265/

On 8/4/18 we’re celebrating our good friend Anton’s birthday at Division Brewing with Orthodox Fuzz, Space Ape, CI, and Dead Hawke: https://www.facebook.com/events/197067261107883/

Yes, we’re playing Heavy Mash! Get tickets HERE, read about it HERE

https://www.facebook.com/StoneMachineElectric/
https://twitter.com/SME_band
http://stonemachineelectric.bandcamp.com/
http://www.stonemachineelectric.net/
www.offtherecordlabel.com

Stone Machine Electric, Vivere (2017)

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Wo Fat Announce European Tour Dates

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

wo fat (Photo Necroblanca Photography)

With their having already been announced for Desertfest Belgium 2018, Keep it Low 2018 and Into the Void 2018, a European tour announcement from Texas swampriffers Wo Fat isn’t entirely unexpected. Still welcome news to just about anyone in their path who’s ever nodded to a riff, though, which always seems to be more and more people in their path. The veteran three-piece are two years removed from their most recent studio offering, Midnight Cometh (review here), which for them is about on pace — see 2014’s The Conjuring (review here) and 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here), each out with a two-year split between — but I haven’t heard anything yet about a new record. Does that mean it’s not happening? Shit no. Not like I friggin’ know anything. But if it’s coming this year, well, album announcements are into October already, so it would be getting here late. Not to say it can’t happen, just that 2019 seems more likely to my addled, baby-chasing, no-sleep-getting, feeble-to-start-with brain.

Either way, their touring Europe is more than enough excuse to revisit Midnight Cometh, so you’ll find that at the bottom of this post, courtesy of Ripple Music‘s Bandcamp. News comes from the PR wire:

wo fat tour poster

Texan heavy rock legends WO FAT announce “Electric Conjure Man Tour” across UK/Europe this October

To purchase tickets for available dates, please click HERE

Having already secured their legendary status within the stoner rock community over a sonic odyssey of six studio albums, Wo Fat has stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wail from within. Following on from the critical success of their last album, Midnight Cometh, and continuing their partnership with the equally formidable California-based record label Ripple Music, European fans that have yet to experience the full force of the Wo Fat experience will be able to get a taste of what they’ve been missing this October.

“Playing in Europe is always an amazing experience for us and it’s been a couple years since we last made the trip, so we’re really excited to be coming back,” explains Wo Fat’s vocalist/guitarist, Kent Stump.

“We are particularly stoked to be able to play three different festivals, all killer, on this run; Desertfest Belgium, Into the Void and Keep It Low. We’ll also be playing some new places as well as returning to some favourites, like The Underworld in London and Le Glazart in Paris. And even better, about half the shows will be with the mighty Sasquatch along with shows with Elder and The Devil and the Almighty Blues. We’ll be rolling out some new songs on this tour and it will be our first European trip with Zack playing bass so I think our fans in Europe will really dig the heavy groove he brings.”

Brought to you by Ripple Music and Sound of Liberation, Wo Fat’s “Electric Conjure Man European Tour 2018” will kick off on 11th October 2018 at The Underworld, London. For a complete list of dates, see below.

Wo Fat “Electric Conjure Man European Tour 2018”

11/10/18 – The Underworld, London, UK [w. The Devil & the Almighty Blues]
12/10/18 – Desertfest Belgium, Antwerp, BEL
13/10/18 – Engelsburg, Erfurt, DE Stoned From the Underground [w. Sasquatch]
14/10/18 – Cassiopeia, Berlin, DE
15/10/18 – Schlachthof, Wiesbaden, DE [w. Sasquatch]
16/10/18 – Fabrik, Zurich, CH [w. Sasquatch]
17/10/18 – Les Caves Du Manoir, Martigny, CH [w. Sasquatch]
18/10/18 – Le Glazart, Paris, FRA [w. Elder and Sasquatch]
19/10/18 – Into the Void Festival, Leuwaarden, NL
20/10/18 – Keep It Low Festival, Munich, DE

https://www.facebook.com/wofatriffage/
https://twitter.com/HouseOfWoFat
https://www.instagram.com/wofatriffage/
https://wofat.bandcamp.com/
ripple-music.com

Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh (2016)

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Destroyer of Light Sign to Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Austin doomers Destroyer of Light will release their next full-length in 2019 through Argonauta Records. The four-piece outdid themselves with last year’s Chamber of Horrors (review here), and more than ever, it’s easy to look forward to whatever they have coming next. Their 2018 EP, Hopeless, is streaming at the bottom of this post and will be the impetus for a run to Bad Reputation Fest in Houston later this month. This Fall, they’ll also head out on a tour of the East Coast and Midwest, hitting Shadow Woods IV in Maryland and venerable rooms up, down and all around the Atlantic Seaboard and the middle of the country. Hardly their first run, and presumably the tour will allow them to finalize new material before they actually get down to the business of making their upcoming record.

Argonauta announces the signing thusly:

destroyer of light

DESTROYER OF LIGHT join ARGONAUTA Records

Stoked to announce that DESTROYER OF LIGHT (Austin, TX) are now part of ARGONAUTA Records!

Formed in 2012 from constantly boiling musical cauldron that is Austin, TX, Destroyer of Light has taken a straight forward approach to tempering the disparate and harmonious parts of their influences into a total sum of slow motion tidal heaviness that bows to no altar but that of the riff. With the smoky flavors of hazed out doom and the stomping cadence of rock’s heyday, the band both tickles and deafens the ears with the theatrical flashes of Mercyful Fate, the ominous tones of Electric Wizard, and the ferociously feral feedback of a Sleep dirge.

The band says: “We are excited to announce our collaboration with Argonauta Records for our next LP. As a band, we have continued to evolve and mature, while maintaining the core sound of what is Destroyer of Light. So, after finishing the writing process and doing pre-production on these new songs, it is rewarding to have a record label that feels enthusiasm for these songs just as much as we do.”

New album to be released in 2019, more details to follow soon.

Destroyer of Light – Dates 2018
July Dates
July 13th – San Marcos, TX @ The Morgue Bar
July 18th – Austin, TX @ The Lost Well
July 19th – San Antonio, TX @ The Mix
July 20th – Harlingen, TX @ The Hop Shop
July 21st – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (Bad Reputation Fest)

Sept./Oct. Dates
9/1 – Denton, TX @ Dan’s Silver Leaf
9/2 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Blue Note
9/3 – Wichita, KS @ The Elbow Room
9/4 – Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge
9/5 – Omaha, NE @ Lookout Lounge
9/6 – St. Paul, MN @ Caydence Records & Coffee
9/7 – Sioux Falls, SD @ Big’s Bar
9/8 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
9/9 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
9/10 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
9/11 – Cleveland, OH @ 5 O’Clock Lounge
9/12 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
9/13 – Camp Hidden Valley, MD (Shadow Woods Music Fest)
9/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Lucky 13 Saloon
9/17 – Allston, MA @ O’Briens Pub
9/18 – Buffalo, NY @ Sugar City
9/19 – Montreal, ON @ Piranha Bar
9/20 – Ottawa, ON @ Maverick’s Bar
9/21 – Toronto, ON @ Coalition
9/22 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary
9/23 – Lansing, MI @ Mac’s Bar
9/25 – Kalamazoo, MI @ Shakespeare’s Pub
9/26 – Canton, OH @ Buzzbin Art and Music Shop
9/27 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Howlers (Pre-Gala of Descendants of Crom)
9/28 – Columbus, OH @ Tree Bar
9/29 – Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle Brewery
9/30 – Cincinnati, OH @ Junker’s Tavern
10/1 – Louisville, KY @ Highlands Tap Room
10/2 – Nashville, TN @ Springwater
10/3 – Birmingham, AL @ The Nick
10/4 – Memphis, TN @ Growler’s
10/5 – Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern
10/6 – Dallas, TX @ Ruins

Destroyer of Light is:
Steve Colca – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Coffman – Bass
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitar, Synth
Penny Turner – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/destroyeroflight/
http://www.instagram.com/destroyeroflightofficial/
http://www.twitter.com/DoLAustinDoom
http://destroyeroflight.bandcamp.com/
www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/
https://twitter.com/argonautarex
https://www.instagram.com/argonautarecords/

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless EP (2018)

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Destroyer of Light Announce Fall Tour Dates; Playing Shadow Woods Metal Fest & Descendants of Crom 2018

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

destroyer of light

No secret at this point that Destroyer of Light get around. The Texan doomers were out earlier this year on a West Coast run heralding the then-soon release of their latest EP, Hopeless (review pending), and come September they’ll be back on the road for a month-plus touring the Midwest and East Coast, making stops for a return appearance at Shadow Woods Metal Fest in the forests of Maryland, and hitting Pittsburgh for the Descendants of Crom 2018 pre-show. They’ll even get up into Canada for gigs in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. I’ve seen far less substantial lists of shows called “North American tours,” so fair enough.

Hopeless is out now on Heavy Friends Records as the follow-up to last year’s Chamber of Horrors (review here) long-player, which again, if you haven’t heard, you should hear. Like, get on it. Today would be good. Tomorrow works too.

Happy to host the announcement of this tour. Destroyer of Light are at this point a better band than people know — they also kill it live, which always helps — and hopefully they continue to turn heads their direction this time around.

From the PR wire:

destroyer of light new poster

Destroyer of Light – Fall Tour 2018

This will be the first East Coast tour in two years since the last Shadow Woods appearance with the exception of a few cities, it’ll be over a year. And to add this also be our first time hitting these cities since the releases of Chamber of Horrors (2017) and Hopeless (2018).

9/1 – Denton, TX @ Dan’s Silver Leaf
9/2 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Blue Note
9/3 – Wichita, KS @ The Elbow Room
9/4 – Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge
9/5 – Omaha, NE @ Lookout Lounge
9/6 – St. Paul, MN @ Caydence Records & Coffee
9/7 – Sioux Falls, SD @ Big’s Bar
9/8 – Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
9/9 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
9/10 – Chicago, IL @ Reggies
9/11 – Cleveland, OH @ 5 O’Clock Lounge
9/12 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
9/13 – Camp Hidden Valley, MD for Shadow Woods Music Fest
9/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Lucky 13 Saloon
9/17 – Allston, MA @ O’Brien’s Pub
9/18 – Buffalo, NY @ Sugar City
9/19 – Montreal, ON @ Piranha Bar
9/20 – Ottawa, ON @ Maverick’s Bar
9/21 – Toronto, ON @ Coalition
9/22 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary
9/23 – Lansing, MI @ Mac’s Bar
9/25 – Kalamazoo, MI @ Shakespeare’s Pub
9/26 – Canton, OH @ Buzzbin Art and Music Shop
9/27 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Howlers (Pre-Gala of Descendants of Crom)
9/28 – Columbus, OH @ Tree Bar
9/29 – Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle Brewery
9/30 – Cincinnati, OH @ Junker’s Tavern
10/1 – Louisville, KY @ Highlands Tap Room
10/2 – Nashville, TN @ Springwater
10/3 – Birmingham, AL @ The Nick
10/4 – Memphis, TN @ Growler’s
10/5 – Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern

Destroyer of Light is:
Steve Colca – Guitar, Vocals
Nick Coffman – Bass
Keegan Kjeldsen – Guitar, Synth
Penny Turner – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/destroyeroflight/
http://www.instagram.com/destroyeroflightofficial/
http://www.twitter.com/DoLAustinDoom
http://destroyeroflight.bandcamp.com/

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless EP (2018)

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Review & Track Premiere: Mountain of Smoke, Gods of Biomechanics

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mountain of smoke gods of biomechanics

[Click play above to stream ‘Tyrell’ from Mountain of Smoke’s Gods of Biomechanics. Album is out July 7.]

Crush wins the day quickly on Mountain of Smoke‘s second album, Gods of Biomechanics. The Dallas-area duo of bassist/vocalist Brooks and drummer PJ bludgeon efficiently on the 10-track/33-minute outing, and expand their lineup through working with pedal steel guitarist Alex, filling out the bass/drum sound with an atmospheric breadth that can be heard on songs like “Caesium Beams,” making the material all the more memorable as well as being brutal and extreme. As with their 2014 self-titled debut, which was issued through Do for It Records, the theme that ties all the songs together is drawn from Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-noir classic Blade Runner. Songs are based around the story of Ray Batty (Rutger Hauer) and named after characters from the film — “Leon,” “Tyrell,” “Zhora” — and as the band already seem to have covered the main characters in their debut with “Decker,” “Rachel,” “Pris,” and so on, and they also begin to dig into ideas expressed in the movie, places or other elements.

Accordingly, we get “Tannhauser Gate” which is mentioned in a sample of Rutger Hauer at the end of the subsequent and pummeling “Orion’s Shoulder,” “Incept” referring to the concept of when a replicant is ‘born,’ and “Retirement” for when they’re killed. Samples from the film — which I’m just going to assume everyone reading this watched at least once when they were in their 20s — are sprinkled throughout, providing transitions and making sure that Mountain of Smoke stick with the plot, as it were. In addition to giving the audience something to latch onto for a record that, put to tape by Michael Briggs at Civil Audio in Denton, TX, both bludgeoning in its execution and largely indecipherable on first listen when it comes to the blown-out growls that serve for most of the vocals, the theme also lends aesthetic nuance to Mountain of Smoke‘s sound, which if the point hasn’t gotten across yet, is anything but subtle.

Rather, it is a style built for volume. The litmus test for duo-violence used to be Black Cobra and I suppose now it’s probably Germany’s Mantar. For what it’s worth, Mountain of Smoke have more in common with the latter than the former in terms of their overall approach, though of course it varies. Less outwardly thrash, they’re nonetheless given to driving moments throughout Gods of Biomechanics, whether it’s the closing title-track, the rush of “Tannhauser Gate” or the stabbing verse of “Retirement.” Amid the thrust come massive rolling grooves. Massive, as in, of mass. From the moment “Incept” picks up from its leadoff sample at the album’s open, its huge low end plod becomes as much of a running theme as the film itself. That instrumental opener leads way via another sample — just of the score — into “Tannhauser Gate,” which revels in its thrust and brashness. Who could argue? Like much of the record, it’s a speaker-blower, and the pedal steel shows itself pivotal as well when it comes to adding a sense of space to the proceedings.

mountain of smoke

That too will become more and more apparent as the rest of Gods of Biomechancis plays out, through “Orion’s Shoulder” and “Caesium Beams” and the High on Fire-worthy bombast of “Zhora,” and into side B on “Retirement,” “Leon,” “Tyrell” and the title-track. So really just everywhere save perhaps “Incept” and its counterpart “Morphology” which gives the second half of the album its own instrumental launch. I don’t know how full-time a member of the band Alex will be, if the two-piece has become a trio, but his work winds up being crucial here just the same. As mentioned, the pedal steel adds breadth and a sense of space to the songs, but it also works in concert with the Blade Runner theme, since with the echo behind it and often played in sustained notes, it cuts a direct line to the kinds of otherworldly melodies Vangelis brought to the original film’s soundtrack. That was largely synthesized, but if one thinks of it on an interpretive level, the comparison holds up.

And the effect that has on making Gods of Biomechanics seem all the more complete in terms of concept and delivery isn’t to be understated. Mountain of Smoke‘s first offering was rawer and hit with plenty of force, but was more abrasive and not nearly so methodical. Gods of Biomechanics mounts its attack with some feeling of calculation behind it. The band aren’t simply crashing through the wall, they’re sneaking around it — though one hesitates to use a work like “sneaking” when it comes to something so obviously meant to be played as loudly as possible. Either way, not to be lost in all the holy-crap-this-is-heavy hyperbole that’s sure to be tossed the album’s way is the fact that Mountain of Smoke‘s sound isn’t just about bearing an inhuman amount of heft, or about describing scenes from a movie, but about entering a creative conversation with that work, and the pedal steel, siren-like at the start of “Retirement” or riding the fury of Brooks‘ riff on “Leon,” is a major part of what allows it to do so.

Its inclusion feels organic — as opposed to it feeling android, I guess — as an extension of the band’s overarching purpose, and as they slam into “Tyrell” and “Gods of Biomechanics” at the record’s back end, the statement they seem to be making not only engages with its subject matter, but brings it to life in a new, fascinating and oddly appropriate way. The risk with bands working on a single-theme as Mountain of Smoke are is that, at a certain point, they might run out of things to talk about once all the characters and ideas from the movie are covered. Would they write a song about the 2017 sequel? The sans-monologue directors cut version of the original? I don’t know, but they wouldn’t be the first group to come up against that issue, say screw it, and successfully move on to other thematic ground, so maybe I’m worrying about nothing. More important for the moment is the success throughout Gods of Biomechanics in putting their listeners in that always-dark, always-raining world where the threat always seems to be present and the danger always seems to be right there waiting. So too is the case here as Mountain of Smoke dream of electric sheep and awaken to be unbridled in their aural instensity.

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The Obelisk Presents: Heavy Mash 2018, Oct. 13 in Arlington, TX

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on June 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

heavy mash 2018 poster

After being fortunate enough to have been asked last year, there was no way I wasn’t going to be up for having The Obelisk on board to present Heavy Mash 2018. The second edition of the Arlington, Texas-based festival will take place on Oct. 13 and feature a full day and a full lineup of all-killer heavy rock, doom, psych and whatnot, with Austin-dwellers Duel as the headliners on the heels of their 2017 sophomore album, Witchbanger (review here). In fact, when fest organizer Mark Kitchens — also of Stone Machine Electric — brought up the issue recently, my only question was whether the awesome frog from last year’s poster would make a return. To the benefit of all humanity, you can see clearly above that it has.

Duel sit atop the lineup with Californian imports Great Electric Quest and Dallas’ Mountain of Smoke, whose second album, Gods of Biomechanics, will be out July 7 and is an absolute crusher. As it turns out, Great Electric Quest are the only non-Texas band on the bill, as amid the roster of DoomstressStone Machine ElectricSwitchblade JesusOrthodox FuzzGypsy Sun RevivalWitchcryer and Dead Hawke, there isn’t one group that doesn’t call the Lone Star State home. I guess that’s what happens when the place you’re from is awash in creativity and, uh, huge. Just ask California.

The geographic theme at play only makes Heavy Mash 2018 more special, since Texas’ heavy underground is nothing if not worth highlighting, and no doubt at least some of the acts will have shared stages in the past, making it all the more of a party at Division Brewing, which once again will host the event and seems to just be asking for trouble in so doing. So much riffs. So much beer. I hope they have a good mop for afterward.

Get your ass to Texas:

The Obelisk Presents: Heavy Mash 2018

Oct 13 at 1 PM

Division Brewing
506 E Main St, Arlington, Texas 76010

After last year’s successful event, we are pleased to announce this year’s Heavy Mash! Once again, our great friend Wade hosts this event at Division Brewing in Arlington, TX on October 13th, 2018.

Nothing but heavy music and great beer! Here is this year’s line-up:

DUEL – 11pm
Great Electric Quest – 10pm
Mountain of Smoke – 9pm
Doomstress – 8pm
Stone Machine Electric – 7pm
Switchblade Jesus – 6pm
Orthodox Fuzz – 5pm
Witchcryer – 4pm
Gypsy Sun Revival – 3pm
DEAD HAWKE – 2pm

Duel, Witchbanger (2017)

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Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning: Blues for the Daredevils

Posted in Reviews on June 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

funeral horse psalms for the mourning

Any given song, any given part, any given measure, Funeral Horse can and will go wherever they please. Somehow, that’s what makes them work. Where so many bands would claim themselves as experimentalists and drown themselves and their audience in self-indulgence, somehow, Funeral Horse instead manage a genre-spanning balance of songwriting that nonetheless retains a sense of the truly weird. Psalms for the Mourning is the underrated Texans’ fourth album on Artificial Head Records behind 2015’s Divinity for the Wicked (review here), 2014’s Sinister Rites of the Master (review here) and 2013’s Savage Audio Demon (review here), and in addition to marking the first appearance of bassist Clint Rater alongside guitarist/vocalist Paul Bearer and drummer Chris Bassett, it’s also by far the longest stretch they’ve had between outings.

Three years is a pretty standard stretch for bands on an 18-month touring cycle, but Funeral Horse have never hit the road to such a degree (though they did come east that one time to play The Obelisk All-Dayer in Brooklyn in 2016), but the truth is I think the material on the eight-track/39-minute LP benefits from that extra time. I don’t know how many songs Funeral Horse might’ve written over the course of that time, or how many they ultimately decided to put to tape — that is, whether this is everything produced since Divinity for the Wicked or not; I’d speculate not — but to listen to tracks like the punkier opener “Better Half of Nothing,” the woeful blues that follows in “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” (video premiere here), and even the uptempo keyboard-laced pop bounce that shows up in the second half of “Divinity for the Wicked” that seems to cite its own precedent in later Ozzy-era Sabbath, Psalms for the Mourning would seem to be the band’s most cohesive outing yet.

Their style, as ever, is based in no small part on toying with sundry influences between doom, punk, heavy rock, blues, country and anything else that might come their way, but in the blown out “California here I come” hook line of the penultimate “Burial of the Sun,” and in the barroom-jam-into-cacophony of the eight-minute “Emperor of all Maladies,” there’s a greater sense of maturity and purpose underlying. That’s not to say that Funeral Horse — who thrash away on “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” only after the bit of finger and piano in the side A-closing interlude “1965” — have been at any point lacking purpose, but even in the production of Psalms for the Mourning, their adaptability is being steered by hands not only capable as they’ve always been, but more confident and assured of the moves they’re making.

funeral horse

It’s right there in the sound of the record itself as well as in the subtle way both “Better Half of Nothing” and “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” give their respective halves of the album a speedy opening, or how sub-three-minute closer “Evel Knievel Blues” takes a sudden turn into watery-vocal country like some long-lost Ween cut. What has made Funeral Horse‘s work so hard to pin down over the last five years is their seeming tendency to not have a core sound, instead just to jump from one vibe to another in willfully jarring shifts over the course of their outings. Fair enough, but the truth of the matter is that is their core sound, and Psalms for the Mourning proves that most plainly in ways Divinity for the Wicked seemed to hint at. It’s not about expanding from a root so much as leaping branch to branch with a genuine feeling of revelry in doing so.

Granted, much of Psalms for the Mourning is pretty downtrodden, regardless of tempo. “Better Half of Nothing” and “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” paint a pretty dark thematic picture at the outset, and “Emperor of all Maladies” touches on raw doom rock before the already-noted jam brings it to its feedbacking finish, and after “1965,” the aggro thrust of “Sacrifice of a Thousand Ships” and nodding initial blues of “Divinity for the Wicked” before its odd and resonant finish sets a foundation for the speedy, shuffling escapism of “Burial Under the Sun,” a highlight for its channel-spanning solo late and in-spite-of-itself catchiness, capping with a minimalist piano line before the twang of “Evel Knievel Blues” provides an epilogue of fuckaroundery that reminds the listener everything in life is ridiculous anyway. That ending, given a lot of the bum-out before it, fast or slow, almost has a nihilist twinge to it, but in the context of Funeral Horse‘s work overall, it somehow makes sense.

Come to think of it, that might be what’s at their core. That somehow, all of it makes sense. Even when it doesn’t, that not making sense makes sense. I’m not sure I’d have said the same thing about their debut — in fact, looking back, I didn’t — but one of the aspects of Psalms for the Mourning that shows how far Funeral Horse have come as a band despite personnel changes is the sheer unwillingness to not be itself. While there are still verses and choruses throughout, and “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” might be their greatest achievement in terms of craft to-date, what most works about the album is its ability to carry across an overarching flow while staying so outwardly disjointed. It’s simply not something a newer band could pull off, let alone to the degree Funeral Horse do here, but they’ve been a beast unto themselves since their start, and as they continue to grow and push themselves forward it should be little surprise to anyone who’s heard them that they’d stay that way.

Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning (2018)

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