Josefus Debut New Lineup; Confirm Recording in Progress

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

josefus

New lineup, new material and new recordings on the way — the news from reunited Texas heavy rockers Josefus would seem to be all good at this point. The four-piece have been relatively quiet since their reformation was announced back in May, but it would seem that tracking has begun on their next studio album, and the stage lineup of founders Pete Bailey (vocals) and Dave Mitchell (guitar) and newcomers Doomstress Alexis, (bass/backing vocals, also of Doomstress and Project Armageddon) and Michael Morris (drums, also of Lone Star Hippie) made their live debut on Oct. 22 as part of the End Hip End It festival at Walter’s Downtown in Houston.

Amid classics from the band’s original run — their 1970 outing Dead Man should be considered essential proto-heavy for anyone who hasn’t heard it — the band broke out at least two new songs from the yet-untitled outing that will be the first from the band since 2006’s State of the Union, and a live clip with both has been posted from the fest, with Mitchell and Bailey front and center of the cult classic outfit, proffering unbridled boogie on “Guns and Fun” while digging into a darker, bluesier and loosely Sabbathian style of riffing on the subsequent “The Shade.” Each song offers a distinct take from the other and bodes well for what the studio outing might bring.

A considerable risk with new studio offerings from groups with ’70s era bands has consistently been an incongruity between the intent of the songwriting — to capture that raw spirit and energy that fueled the early days of heavy rock — with a sometimes-too-slick, or at very least dry, modern production. This can be heard on numerous contemporary from artists at multiple echelons, from Leslie West and Cactus to Leaf Hound. An exception to the rule might be Ripple Music jammers Poobah.

Likewise, it’s something Pentagram largely avoided with their Last Rites comebacker in 2009 I think in no small part because of guitarist Victor Griffin‘s ongoing connnections to the heavy underground, and I think in Josefus, having that awareness of what the current heavy audience is looking for is the role one might find Doomstress Alexis and Morris playing (in addition to their instruments, obviously). It will be up to them to ensure the sound of the record matches not only the purpose behind the material in the first place, but the vibe that listeners will invariably crave from a band like this in the first place. Fortunately, they would seem to be readily up to the task.

To my mind, this only makes the next Josefus long-player, previewed with the stage performance at End Hip End It, all the more worth looking forward to. One assumes at this point it’ll be a 2018 arrival, but of course when I hear something, I’ll let you know.

Until then, enjoy “Guns and Fun” and “The Shade” below, as filmed by IcedRelics in Houston:

Josefus, “Guns and Fun” & “The Shade” Live at End Hip End It

Josefus performing live at Walter’s Downtown at End Hip End It Festival in Houston, Texas on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Harvey Relief Benefit. Houston Psych Fest.

Brand new Josefus tunes debuted at End Hip End It Fest on 10/22/17 marking Josefus’s return to the stage and with new recording/live lineup:

Pete Bailey-vocals/harmonica
Dave Mitchel-guitar
Doomstress Alexis-bass/backing vocals
Michael Morris-drums/backing vocals

1st song “Guns & Fun”
2nd song “The Shade”
Video credit: Iced Relics (YouTube)

New record currently in studio production being recorded by Richard Cagle @ Montrose Studios in Houston, TX.

Josefus live:
11/25 Rockefellers Houston TX w/ The Dirty Seeds, Fiddle Witch & Mr. Plow

Josefus on Thee Facebooks

Josefus on Instagram

Josefus website

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Doomstress Premiere Video for “Bitter Plea”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

doomstress

Texas heavy doom rockers Doomstress filmed their new video on one of the several cleverly-named tours they undertook in 2016, playing as the four-piece of bassist/vocalist Doomstress Alexis, guitarists Brandon Johnson (lead) and Joe Fortunato (rhythm) and drummer Tomasz Scull. Fortunato, whose pedigree includes tenure alongside Scull in Sparrowmilk and Venomin James, also directed and edited the clip for “Bitter Plea,” and the song represents the newest work to come from the Houston-based outfit, featured on their new EP, Supernatural Kvlt Sounds: The Second Rite, a follow-up and apparent sequel to their 2016 debut, Supernatural Kvlt Sounds (video premiere here).

Aside from new mixes of “Way of the Mountain” and “Sleep Among the Dead” from the original EP, The Second Rite boasts the Uriah Heep cover “Rainbow Demon” (premiered here) and “Bitter Plea,” and indeed, it’s the latter that shows where the band is truly at in their development. I’m not sure if Fortunato is a permanent member or not at this point, but either way, the 4:26 track swings with a sense of classic metal coming through its dual guitars and finds a balance in its mix that outshines even the redux versions of the original EP cuts, as well as a confidence in presentation obviously born of the band’s significant time on the road. Even with an underlying darkness in the lyrics, Alexis and company keep a firm sense of momentum moving forward in the track as well as across the entirety of the 22-minute offering from which it comes, and though they seem to be taking their time crafting songs rather than working to try to bang out a first album simply for the sake of doing so, the results that come through on “Bitter Plea” are hard to argue with in terms of their sense of being fully realized and engaging. Proof? The hook and guitar solo. The arrangement of vocals. The return to the central riff at the end. It’s all there, waiting to be heard in “Bitter Plea.”

Also, as it happens, seen. Captured live on stage and on the shores of Lake Erie, the video gives an unpretentious representation of the song while adding in its style a sense of drama befitting to the lyrics. The underlying message is Doomstress are continuing to take shape as a band, progressing in their songwriting processes and becoming all the more capable of manifesting a style that resides someplace between doom, metal and heavy rock and makes its mark in memorable choruses and choice grooves.

Supernatural Kvlt Sounds: The Second Rite is out on CD now via NoSlip Records and will be released as a split with Sparrowmilk in November via DHU Records. More info at the links following the video below.

Please enjoy:

Doomstress, “Bitter Plea” official video premiere

Doomstress – “Bitter Plea” official video ©2017
From the ep “Supernatural Kvlt Sounds-The Second Rite”
CD on NoSlip Records (USA) available late September 2017
12″ vinyl split w/Sparrowmilk on DHU Records (Netherlands) available November 2017

Live footage filmed @ The Foundry in Cleveland, OH on the Wicked Summer Tour in August 2016.

Scenic footage filmed at the sand dunes of Lake Erie in Ohio in late August or early September 2016.

Video concept by Doomstress Alexis

Directed & edited by Joe Fortunato

Band members on this tour:
Doomstress Alexis – bass & vox
Brandon Johnson – lead guitar
Tomasz Scull – drums
Joe Fortunato – rhythm guitar

Doomstress website

Doomstress on Bandcamp

Doomstress webstore

Doomstress on Thee Facebooks

Doomstress on Instagram

Doomstress on Twitter

DHU Records webstore

NoSlip Records webstore

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Burn Ritual Sign to Cursed Monk Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Texas doomgazers Burn Ritual issued the two-song EP Like Suffering this past summer, and the hazy ways the then-one-man outfit showed have been enough to get the now-a-full-band picked up by Irish imprint Cursed Monk Records. My chief question going forward is whether the garage-raw nod of “Unleash the Dogs” and “Like Suffering” will be maintained now that Jake Lewis has a complete lineup working around him, but I guess we’ll find out in the New Year when he and the rest of his cohorts get around to recording and releasing the album.

Until then, if you didn’t hear Like Suffering, which was mastered by Mos Generator‘s own Tony Reed, you’ll find it at the bottom of this post courtesy of the Burn Ritual Bandcamp. Here’s the announcement from Cursed Monk about having snagged the band for the impending release:

burn ritual

Burn Ritual have joined the cult of the Cursed Monk

Burn Ritual have signed with Cursed Monk Records!

Burn Ritual is a doom metal band based out of San Antonio, Texas, brewing its own brand of heavy riffs, bluesy hazy vocals, and massive hypnotic fuzzed out tones. The band combine their love for traditional doom and stoner rock bands with a modern element making it a unique but familiar journey for the listener. Burn Ritual is the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Jake Lewis, who performed and recorded on most of the band’s debut EP Like Suffering, which was mastered by Tony Reed of Mos Generator.

The one man project soon paved way for the necessity for a full band of musicians to bring the songs to the stage the way they were meant to be heard , loud and in your face! Now a full four piece band, Burn Ritual plans to keep performing for the rest of the year and then start recording its first full length album in the beginning of 2018 which will be released by Cursed Monk Records.

Burn Ritual’s positively received E.P Like Suffering was released by the band in August 2017 and can be heard here.

https://www.facebook.com/burnritualband/
https://burnritual.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/cursedmonk/
https://twitter.com/CursedMonkRec
https://www.instagram.com/cursedmonkrecords/
https://cursedmonk.bandcamp.com/

Burn Ritual, Like Suffering EP (2017)

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Witchcryer Sign to Ripple Music; Cry Witch Due in January; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

witchcryer

Austin, Texas, doom rockers Witchcryer have signed a deal to release their debut album, Cry Witch, via Ripple Music on Jan. 19. To herald the full-length’s arrival in the New Year, the four-piece will head out on a Midwestern tour this month brandishing new material onstage and keeping significant company as they join forces with the likes of Astral MassAttalla and Bible of the Devil along the way. The shows are booked by Heavy Friends, and start on Friday, so if you find yourself in their path, keep an eye out.

Witchcryer’s three-song The Preying Kind – Demo MMXVI was released last year as their first outing and can be streamed below in full. The PR wire has more information and gets bonus points here for making a Pillcrusher reference. There’s a name I’ve not heard in a long, long time.

Dig:

witchcryer tour

Witchcryer sign to Ripple Music and Announce new album and “CRY WITCH” FALL 2017 MIDWEST U.S. TOUR

Ripple Music is proud to welcome WITCHCRYER? to their growing roster of the best heavy psych, stoner and doom bands on the planet. Witchcryer are a 4-piece old-school doom metal band as indebted to the heavy rock muscle of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, and Blue Oyster Cult as their doom descendants Witchfinder General, Trouble, and St. Vitus. Their mix of influences puts emphasis on strong riffs, memorable hooks and dynamic strong structures.

Based in Austin, Texas, Witchcryer was created by guitarist Jason Muxlow during his time with Chicago doom band, Earthen Grave (Ripple Music). The band became his priority when he moved to Austin in early 2015 and began co-writing songs with drummer Javi Moctezuma. “The Preying Kind” demo was recorded and released after vocalist/lyricist, Suzy Bravo joined the band later that year.

With the final addition of San Antonio bassist Marilyn Monroe (Pillcrusher, ex-Las Cruces), Witchcryer played its first show in April 2016.

Now, Witchcryer joins with the force that is Ripple Music to release their debut album, “Cry Witch”, due to drop world-wide on January 19th. About their recent signing to Ripple, guitarist Jason Muxlow says, “Witchcryer is beyond stoked to be joining the Ripple family! We can’t wait to get “Cry Witch” out in the world and tear some people new eardrums.”

In support of the upcoming album, Witchcryer will hit the road with tour dates across the midwest.

WITCHCRYER “CRY WITCH” FALL 2017 MIDWEST U.S. TOUR
Friday October 13th San Angelo, TX, Deadhorse w/ Dezorah
Saturday October 14th Dallas, TX, Double Wide w/ Hint of Death & Orcanaut
Sunday October 15th Little Rock, AR, Sonic Temple TBA
Monday October 16th Louisville, KY, ighlands Tap Room w/ Potslammer
Tuesday October 17th Indianapolis, IN, Black Circle Brewing Co. w/ Astral Mass
Wednesday October 18th Madison, WI, The Frequency w/ Bob Log III & Roboman
Thursday October 19th Milwaukee, WI, Cactus Club w/ Galactic Hatchet & Attalla
Friday October 20th Hamtramck, MI, New Dodge Lounge w/ The Watchers, Iron Mountain, TBA
Saturday October 21st Chicago, IL, Livewire Lounge w/ Bible of the Devil, Arriver, & Reivers

https://www.facebook.com/witchcryer/
https://witchcryer.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.ripple-music.com
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Witchcryer, The Preying Kind – Demo MMXVI (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Nibiru, The Ditch and the Delta, Cyanna Mercury, Surya Kris Peters, Golden Bats, Blind Hen, The Black Wizards, Low Flying Hawks, Brother Sister Hex, Cold Insight

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Ready for round three of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review? I hope so, because it’s a doozy. Things get pretty weird and pretty rockin’ in this batch, and at the risk of being completely honest, I much prefer it that way. It’s a varied group — maybe the most diverse in terms of sound throughout the entire week, though there’s stiff competition still to come — and as we hit the 30th review, that brings us to the halfway point of the Quarterly Review itself, which if all keeps proceeding according to plan will wrap up on Monday with a grand total of 60 done. Let’s hope no pianos fall on my head between now and then, literally or figuratively. Onward.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Nibiru, Qaal Babalon

nibiru qaal babalon

The fourth full-length from Italian sludge ritualists Nibiru, Qaal Babalon (on Argonauta) is an encompassing, 57-minute grind comprised of four extended tracks, the longest of which is opener (immediate points) “Oroch” at 19:07 – a song whose depths run dark and cruel and which, even when the tempo pushes upward from its initial slow crawl, still feels massively slow. Still, the spirit behind “Oroch” as well as the following and much faster “Faboan” (10:51), the buzzsaw noise cutting avant insanity of “Bahal Gah” (16:40) and full-drone rite of “Oxex” (11:05) is less directly about the punishment itself than about the exploration enacted thereby. That is, Nibiru aren’t just heavy for heaviness’ own sake and they’re not just assaulting their listenership without reason. Though I won’t take away from its raw sonic impact, Qaal Babalon’s greatest asset is its atmospheric impression and the experimentalism it brings to bear, which moves Nibiru into a terrifying place sound-wise that they seem to have all to themselves.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

The Ditch and the Delta, Hives in Decline

the-ditch-and-the-delta-hives-in-decline

Hailing from the unlikely heavy hotbed of Salt Lake City, Utah – though where better for a counterculture to emerge? – sludge rocking trio The Ditch and the Delta made their debut earlier in 2017 with the seven-song Hives in Decline via Battleground Records before being picked up by Prosthetic for this reissue. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Kory Quist (see also: Making Fuck), guitarist/vocalist Elliot Secrist and drummer Charles Bogus, the three-piece pummel handily throughout early cuts like opener and longest track (immediate points) “Hives in Decline” “Fuck on Asphalt” and the nodding “Sleeping Dogs,” but with the instrumental interlude “Dry Land,” they tap into post-Across Tundras heavy Americana and in that brief two-minute stretch deeply affect the mood of the release overall. They’re back to angular noise rock turns soon enough on “Till Body Quits” and the Remission-era-Mastodon-style “Mud” before alternating between lurching crush and airier prog/post-rock on closer “Dread Spectacle,” but by then the secret’s out of their underlying complexity, and rather than offset the sense of drive in the prior cuts, one finds them only enhanced by the later unfolding. Intense, and very much in the process of sorting through these impulses, but loaded with potential.

The Ditch and the Delta on Thee Facebooks

The Ditch and the Delta at Prosthetic Records

 

Cyanna Mercury, Archetypes

Cyanna-Mercury-Archetypes

From Greek dialogue in “Hermes” to the Nick Cave-style piano balladry of “Apollo” to the organ-and-handclaps Mediterranean pop underscoring “Lilith”’s boogie and the spoken verses and explosive hook of “Snake” ahead of moody closer “There will be a Time,” Cyanna Mercury’s debut long-player, Archetypes, seems to leave no sonic stone unturned. The Athens-based five-piece hone a thoroughly progressive approach across the 10-track/40-minute (plus a CD bonus track) outing, touching on heavy psych in opener “Horse Dark as Night” and injecting a darker theatricality into centerpiece “Ode to the Absent Father” and the later “Nothing We Can Do,” but refusing to relegate themselves ultimately to one sound or another. Elements of folk, heavy rock, psychedelia, classic prog, pop and more besides show themselves across what’s a legitimate head-trip of a record, and though it’s hard to get a grip on where Cyanna Mercury are ultimately headed with this sonic brew already so potent and already so much their own, they seem to be completely in control of how it all plays out in arrangement and songwriting, and they work quickly to earn the listener’s trust via a resonant overarching flow that renders Archetypes truly immersive. Will fly under most radar, but a stunningly creative debut.

Cyanna Mercury on Thee Facebooks

Cyanna Mercury on Bandcamp

 

Surya Kris Peters, 2nd Chances

surya-kris-peters-second-chances

Numerically-titled three-song EP 2nd Chances is – since we’re going by the numbers – the third release of 2017 from Surya Kris Peters, behind the synth-driven Dream Exit EP digitally-issued this past summer and January’s Holy Holy Holy (review here) full-length. With it, Samsara Blues Experiment frontman Christian Peters further expands the contextual breadth of his solo work, revisiting songs from his prior outfit Terraplane in the Mellotron-infused melancholy of “Smalltown Blues” and the quick, folkish rambling instrumental “Dark Euphoria” while also covering Jefferson Airplane’s “Come up the Years” between. All told, it’s only 10 minutes long, but Peters brings a particularly progressive psychedelic folk vibe to the tracks, and from the shimmering guitar lead that takes hold in “Come up the Years” and the intimate feel of “Smalltown Blues” despite an arrangement of keys, vocals, multiple layers of guitar and effects, an emotional and sonic resonance is still very much achieved. One never wants to guess what Peters will do next, but if he had a full-length of this kind of thing out at some point, you wouldn’t be likely to find me complaining.

Surya Kris Peters on Soundcloud

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

 

Golden Bats, Residual Dread

golden-bats-residual-dread

An underlying mournfulness pervades Golden BatsResidual Dread, or maybe that’s just the Brisbane-based solo-project of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/engineer Geordie Stafford living up to the title chosen for the album on “Nothing.” Elsewhere, Residual Dread takes on guitar-as-keyboard plotted soloing in 11-minute closer “The Crows Build a Fire” and find a place between black metal and doomly roll, and add piano to tapped Godflesh-style programming on opener “Trouble in the Sewers” and bring organ to the relative bounce of “Eye Juices” as far-back echoing shouts provide the vocal presence. Setting elements against each other would seem to be a core aspect of Stafford’s intent, and the feel on Residual Dread is more about the smashing them together and seeing what happens than trying to gently meld one idea from two or three. That lends a raw, experimentalist sensibility to the lumber of “Outer Body” and “Into the Silver Valley” that serves them well, like a Large Hadron Collider driven by riffs and thickness of tone.

Golden Bats on Thee Facebooks

Haemorrhage Records webstore

 

Blind Hen, Life

blind-hen-life

In its first two minutes, Blind Hen’s “As a Monster” moves from electronica-style Euro dance rock to heavy-riffed progressive metal. Then it turns back. This is just the start of the Finnish four-piece’s four-track/21-minute Life EP, and “Titanic” follows stylistic suit with an even more intense thrust early before moving into psychedelia in its second half with an underlying tension in its beat to contrast the melodic wash overtop. The chugging “The Maze” is more guitar-led and straightforward, but even there, Blind Hen find room for nuance in their vocal arrangement, also bringing in acoustics amid the multiple layers of singing, and with a sample at the outset, closer “Catch” moves once again toward the danceability of the earlier fare, if in a via-Mr.Bungle rhythmic restlessness rather than the fusion beatmaking. Weird, weird, weird. What draws Life together is the fact that Blind Hen cross this aesthetic swath with stuck-in-your-head choruses as a constant, essentially giving the audience something to grasp onto while they go wherever they want in terms of sound. It is appreciated to say the least, and shows the band to be all the more attuned to their craft, even when they seem at their most unhinged.

Blind Hen on Thee Facebooks

Blind Hen on Bandcamp

 

The Black Wizards, What the Fuzz!

the-black-wizards-what-the-fuzz

If you’ve got 68 minutes, Portuguese four-piece The Black Wizards are ready to have a heavy blues shindig on their second 2LP full-length, What the Fuzz!, and I do believe we’re all invited. The nine-song outing emphasizes the vocals of guitarist Joana Brito, who emerges on post-intro opener “Freaks and Geeks” with a prominent kind of trilling in her voice of the sort Parker Griggs brings to Radio Moscow that holds for the duration as a steady presence. Joined by guitarist Paulo Ferreira, bassist/acoustic guitarist B and drummer/backing vocalist Helena Peixoto, Brito leads the way through the fuzzy rollout of the nine-minute “The Story of an Hopeless Drummer” (sic), stepping back to let the guitar/bass have a righteously nodding moment late in the track, but holds firm in a forward position on the short, twanging “Just Not Today” as well as the early going of the prior subdued-blues-smoker highlight “Floating Blues.” “Build Your Home,” “I Don’t Wanna Die” and the particularly-classic-sounding “Fire” revive the classic heavy rock spirit of “Freaks and Geeks,” and 16-minute finale “Everything is Good Until Trouble Comes” uses its extra runtime for a satisfying and patient execution with an expanded arrangement including choral vocals, organ and additional guitar effects. You might be boogied out by the time they’re done, but as The Black Wizards crash through their big finish, they sound like their party’s just getting started.

The Black Wizards on Thee Facebooks

The Black Wizards on Bandcamp

 

Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku

low-flying-hawks-genkaku

One might expect that with all the Melvins affiliation going on in the second Magnetic Eye Records full-length from L.A. duo Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku would sound, you know, more like the Melvins, but despite working with bassist Trevor Dunn, drummer Dale Crover and producer Toshi Kasai, and despite bringing in Buzz Osbourne for guest vocal spots on eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Smile” and side B leadoff “Space Wizard,” initials-only multi-instrumentalists EHA and AAL follow their 2016 debut, Kofuku (review here), with a sound even more their own, balancing between thick riffy rollout and post-rock atmospherics. Of course, they weird out a bit on “Smile” and the lumberingly spacious “Uncool” and “Virgin Witch,” but whether it’s the later mournfulness of “Hallucination” or “Twilight” toying with noisy fuckall while seeming to mock heavy rocker burl ahead of the melodic payoff in closer “Sinister Waves,” there’s more EHA and AAL in Low Flying Hawks than the prominent pedigree of their collaborators might lead you to believe. All the better for what becomes a richly satisfying 43-minute listen rife with depth, patience, and yes, personality.

Low Flying Hawks on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

Brother Sister Hex, End Times

brother-sister-hex-end-times

Coherent songwriting rests at the core of what Denver’s Brother Sister Hex bring to their five-song third EP, End Times, which darkens up Queens of the Stone Age-circa-Songs for the Deaf vibing on its title-track (also a bit of Kyuss’ “El Rodeo” in there for good measure) before delving into more ambient fare on the centerpiece “Confessions.” Vocalist/guitarist Colfax Mingo demonstrates SubRosa-style vocal command there, but the context is more rock-based, uptempo and straightforward as she, guitarist Patrick Huddleson, bassist Drew Hicks and guest-drummer Jordan Palmer (Plastic Daggers) meld traditionalist structures with atmospheric moodiness. Opener “Hey” offers a suitable greeting through hook and groove, and the shuffle of “Sweet and Sleazy” and the rumbling fuzz (Hicks makes it a highlight) of closer “News Feed” wraps with another grunge-style QOTSA melody efficiently drawn, shouting the question “what have we done?” as it thuds into its second half. Uh, you’ve made a professional-sounding, excellently-constructed EP that shows you’re more than ready to embark on a debut full-length, permanent drummer or no. So yeah, get on that.

Brother Sister Hex on Thee Facebooks

Brother Sister Hex on Bandcamp

 

Cold Insight, Further Nowhere

cold-insight-further-nowhere

As progressive as it is brutal, Further Nowhere is ostensibly the debut release from Paris’ Cold Insight. The material seems to date back at least to 2013, if not earlier than that, when band-spearhead Sébastien Pierre (also of Enshine, Fractal Gates, and others) first issued what’s now tagged as a “pre-production album” version, but it’s hardly as though the lush, growling, melodeathly doom sounds dated. With sonic likenesses throughout to bands like Amorphis, Dark Tranquility and Paradise Lost, Cold Insight – on which Pierre, who also did the artwork, is joined by drummer Christian Netzell while Jari Lindholm adds lead guitar – hit on a very particular, very European style, and not an unfamiliar one as displayed in the righteously driving “Distance,” but the find-the-beauty-in-darkness spirit behind “Close Your Eyes” and songs like “Even Dies a Sun” and the more uptempo later piece “I Will Rise” help ensure that the formidable 12-song/66-minute run of Further Nowhere never gets too bogged down in its melancholy. It may have been a while in the making, and one hopes a follow-up won’t take as long to arrive, but the precise execution Pierre hones in these songs and the depths to which he can bring a willing audience are a fitting payoff for the years of work that went into their construction.

Cold Insight on Thee Facebooks

Cold Insight on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Spotlights, War Cloud, Rubble Road, Monte Luna, High Reeper, Frozen Planet….1969, Zaius, Process of Guilt, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Owlcrusher

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Day two of the Quarterly Review and feeling groovy so far. Managed to survive yesterday thanks in no small part to good music and good coffee, and looking at what’s coming up in today’s batch, I don’t expect the situation will be much different — though the styles will. I try to keep in mind as I put these weeks together to change up what’s in each round, so it’s not just all psych records, or all doom, or heavy rock or whatever else. This way I’m not burning myself out on anything particular and I hopefully don’t wind up saying the same things about albums that maybe only share vague genre aspects in common — riffs, etc. — in the same way. Essentially trying to trick my brain into being creative. Sometimes it even works. Let’s see how it fares today.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Spotlights, Seismic

spotlights seismic

After touring hard with the likes of Melvins, Deftones and Refused, heavy post-rockers Spotlights mark their first release on Ipecac Recordings with their second album, Seismic, which finds the core duo of Mario and Sarah Quintero working with producer Aaron Harris (Isis) to follow-up 2016’s Tidals with 65 minutes/11 tracks of weighted atmospherics and far-spanning melodic textures as shown on emotive heft-bringers like “Ghost of a Glowing Forest.” Heavygaze, I suppose, is the genre tag that’s emerged, but with the opening title-track, the chugging “Learn to Breathe” and the later percussive turns of “A Southern Death,” there’s as much focus on crush as on ambience, though as Seismic makes its way through the pair of eight-minute tracks “Hollow Bones” (wonder if they know the 30 Rock reference they’re making) and “Hang us All” before the minimal subdued drones and melodic effects swirls of closer “The Hope of a Storm,” Spotlights succeed in finding a middle ground that offers plenty of both. In its moments of intensity and its range, Seismic builds cohesion from ether and immediately benefits from the purposeful growth the Quinteros have clearly undertaken over the past year by hitting the road with the dedication they have.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Ipecac Recordings website

 

War Cloud, War Cloud

war cloud war cloud

Bay Area rockers War Cloud don’t get too fancy on their self-titled debut, which they make via Ripple Music as the follow-up to their 2016 single Vulture City (discussed here), but as they prove quickly in the dual-guitar Thin Lizzyisms of opener “Give’r” and the later post-Motörhead/Peter Pan Speedrock careening of “Speed Demon,” neither do they necessarily need to. Comprised of guitarists Alex Wein (also vocals) and Tony Campos, bassist Sean Nishi and drummer Joaquin Ridgell, War Cloud offer 31 minutes of brisk, unpretentious asskickery, riffs trading channels at the outset of “Hurricane” as it makes ready to settle into its proto-thrashing rocker groove, and the mood of the release as a whole engaging as much through its reimagining 20-year-old Metallica as a heavy rock band there as on the more grandly riff-led “Divide and Conquer.” Structures are straightforward, and not one of the eight tracks tops five minutes, but they’re more than enough for War Cloud find their place between metal form and heavy rock tone, and cuts like “Chopper Wired” and brazenly charged closer “Vulture City” nail the core message of the band’s arrival.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Rubble Road, The Clowns Have Spoken

rubble-road-the-clowns-have-spoken

Rubble Road ain’t hurtin’ nobody. The Orlando-based double-guitar four-piece take two prior singles and put them together with four new tracks as their 29-minute/six-song debut EP, The Clowns Have Spoken, and thereby bring forth straightforward heavy rock that seems to be finding its personality in tone but nonetheless has a strong structural foundation underlying that holds up the material and “The Judge” tosses in a bit of metallic gallop to go with the forward-directed heavy rock proffered on the prior “Galactic Fugitives” and “Gospel (Get it Together).” I won’t say much for the politics of “Truck Stop Hooker,” which caps with the line, “Your mother gives great helmet, baby,” but “Wizard Staff” and “Do it Yourself” broaden the dynamic of the release overall. They’ve got some growing to do, but again, there’s an efficiency in their songwriting that comes through these songs, and as an initial showcase/demo, The Clowns Have Spoken shows Rubble Road with the potential to continue to grow.

Rubble Road on Thee Facebooks

Rubble Road on Bandcamp

 

Monte Luna, Monte Luna

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You might check out the self-titled debut from Austin, Texas, duo Monte Luna. You might even pick up the digipak or tape version. You might listen to extended tracks like “Nameless City” (12:53) and “6,000 Year March” (17:42) and be like, “Yeah, cool riffs dudes.” You might even then chase down the The Hound EP that guitarist/vocalist/bassist James Clarke and drummer/synthesist Phil Hook put out last year. At some point though, you’re going to put Monte Luna’s Monte Luna on your shelf and leave it there. Fair enough. However – and I’m not going to say when; could be sooner, could be later — then you’re going to find yourself remembering its massive, 71-minute sprawl of riffs, its doomed-out grooves, shouts, screams, growls and the way its builds become so utterly immersive, and you’re going to put Monte Luna on again. And that’s the moment when it will really hit you. It might take some time, and part of that is no doubt that there’s simply a lot of record to wade through, but whether it’s the rumbling start of “Nightmare Frontier” (14:26), the cacophonous stomp of “Inverted Mountain” (12:04) or the righteous crash of “The End of Beginning” (9:42), Monte Luna will have earned that deeper look, and if you allow them to make that deeper impression with their self-titled, they almost certainly will.

Monte Luna on Thee Facebooks

Monte Luna on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, High Reeper

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Newcomer five-piece High Reeper telegraph Sabbathian heavy rocker intent with their self-released, self-titled debut album. The Delaware-based lineup of Zach Thomas, Napz Mosley, Andrew Price, Pat Daly and Shane Trimble make no bones about their roots in opener “Die Slow,” and as the stoner-swinging “High Reeper,” the doom-swaggering “Reeper Deadly Reeper” and the yo-check-out-this-bassline nodder “Weed and Speed” play out in the record’s midsection, it seems increasingly likely that, sooner or later, some imprint or other will pick up High Reeper for a wider release. As the band demonstrates through the stomping “Soul Taker” and the seeming mission statement “Black Leather (Chose Us)” ahead of closer “Friend of Death,” which breaks its six minutes in half between Judas Priest thrust and an instrumental finish that calls to mind “Heaven and Hell,” they’ve got a keen ear for updating classic elements, and though formative, their first outing is cleverly memorable and an immediately resonant display of songcraft. Now we know High Reeper can engage these stylistic components — the test will be how they develop them into something individualized going forward.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

High Reeper on YouTube

 

Frozen Planet….1969, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe

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From the Centre of a Parallel Universe is the second long-player of 2017 from Sydney/Canberra’s Frozen Planet….1969. It arrives on CD through Pepper Shaker and LP via Headspin with five tracks/43 minutes of improv-style psych jams following suit from the prior Electric Smokehouse (review here) and helps to bring the band’s funk-infused, spacious dynamic all the more into focus. Also out of focus. Like, blurry vision-style. They range far and wide and keep the proceedings delightfully weird in the three extended pieces “Celestial Gambler,” “Through Hell’s Kaleidoscope, Parts I & II” and “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” – all north of 11 minutes – and with “Signals (Channelling…)” and “The Lady and the Archer” leading the way into each LP side, Frozen Planet….1969 take the time to assure they’re bringing their listeners along with them on their potent journey into the cosmically far out. The must-hear bass tone in “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” is but one of many reasons to dig in, but whatever it takes, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe’s invitation to get lost is not one to be missed.

Frozen Planet….1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Zaius, Of Adoration

zaius of adoration

Chicago’s history with instrumentalist post-metal goes back as far as the notion of the subgenre itself with acts like Pelican and Russian Circles providing aesthetic-defining landmarks over the last 15-plus years even as a group like Bongripper embraces darker, more lumbering fare. The four-piece Zaius, who make their full-length debut with Of Adoration on Prosthetic Records after two self-released EPs in 2013 and 2011, position themselves more toward the shimmering airiness of the former rather than the latter’s raw lumber, but there’s heft to be found in the expanses of “Sheepdog” and “Seirenes” all the same, and the second half of “Echelon” and closer “Colin” tighten up some of the ethereality of pieces like opener “Phaneron” and the driftingly progressive “Reformer” or the penultimate, patient rollout of “Anicca” to hone a sense of balance that feels as emotionally driven as it is cerebral in its construction. Hard for a band like Zaius to stand themselves out at this point given the swath of acts working in a similar style in and out of the Windy City, but in its textural approach and held-steady flow, Of Adoration satisfies.

Zaius on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Process of Guilt, Black Earth

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Portuguese post-doomers Process of Guilt hit the 15-year mark with the release of their fourth album, Black Earth (on Division/Bleak Recordings), and with a mix by Brooklyn noise-rock specialist Andrew Schneider, a mastering job by Collin Jordan in Chicago and striking cover art by growler/guitarist Hugo Santos with images by Pedro Almeida, the sense of atmosphere is thick and the mood is aggressive throughout. Santos, along with guitarist Nuno David, bassist Custódio Rato and drummer Gonçalo Correia chug and flow through a linear 42 minutes and five tracks on the suitably darkened offering, touching on progressive nuance but not letting cerebral underpinnings take away from the onslaught feel of “Feral Ground” or the tension mounted early in the 11-minute penultimate title-track, which uses feedback as a weapon throughout no less capably than the subsequent closer “Hoax” affects immediately with its nodding tonal wash. Taken as a whole, Black Earth finds Process of Guilt exploring depths of their sound as much as with it, and the directions they go feel as much inward as out.

Process of Guilt on Thee Facebooks

Division Records website

Bleak Recordings website

 

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk

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The challenge for an outfit like Stockholm’s Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, whose self-titled debut arrives via respected purveyor Kozmik Artifactz, lies separating themselves from the shadow of fellow Swedes Blues Pills, whose semi-psych heavy-blues-rocking first album has cast a wide influence that can be heard here as well as in any number of other bands currently kicking around the Euro underground proffering as balance of soul and heavy rock as songs like “It Ain’t Love (But Close Enough)” and “Like Water” do here. Where Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk most succeed in doing this is in the harmonies of “Black Magic Man,” which brings to mind classic acid folk while holding to a heavy blues vibe, but there are other moments throughout when individuality flourishes as well. The attitude is laid on a bit thick in “Them Dames,” but the hooks of “Sister Sorrow,” “She Knows,” “The Devil’s Got a Hold on You” and “Stay” and the burgeoning sense of arrangements complementing Abdulghani’s vocals do well in helping cast an identity one hopes will continue to develop.

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Owlcrusher, Owlcrusher

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Conceived by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Spiers, bassist/vocalist Steve Hobson and drummer Damien McKeown, Banbridge trio Owlcrusher conjure three extended, slicing slabs of black-singed sludge extremity on their self-titled Seeing Red Records debut, and it’s enough to make one wonder just what the fuck is going on in Northern Ireland to inspire such outright bleakness. Beginning with the 16-minute “Feeble Preacher” (also the longest inclusion here; immediate points), Owlcrusher’s Owlcrusher lumbers excruciatingly forth with screams and growls cutting through a tonality geared for max-volume consumption, though it remains to be seen who is consuming whom as “Feeble Preacher” gives way to the likewise scorched eponymous “Owlcrusher” (11:30) and 15-minute closer “Spoiler,” the last of which brings the only real moment of letup on the album after about nine minutes in, and even that takes the form of an interlude of Khanate-style minimalist ambience before the rolling megacrush resumes and plods to a somehow-even-heavier finish. Clearly a band pushing themselves toward the superlative, Owlcrusher get there much faster than their crawling tones would have you believe. Madness.

Owlcrusher on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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Doomstress Premiere Uriah Heep Cover “Rainbow Demon’; New EP The Second Rite out this Fall

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

doomstress

Click play below to hear a newly-remixed version of Doomstress‘ take on Uriah Heep‘s ‘Rainbow Demon.’ Originally included on the UK band’s 1972 classic, Demons and Wizards, it gets a kick in heft and groove from the Texas-based outfit, who’ll include the track on their aptly-titled NoSlip Records sophomore EP, The Second Rite, which is due out this Fall. The Second Rite will also be issued as a split with the post-Venomin James outfit Sparrowmilk in November, so keep an eye out for that, and Doomstress continue to play live shows — including End Hip End It next month — as they move past their 2016 debut, Supernatural Kvlt Sounds (video premiere here), inexorably toward a first full-length.

If you heard that outing or the subsequent Wicked Woman 7″ (discussed here), you’ll no doubt find the new versions of those tracks somewhat refreshed-sounding, but the EP also portends good things to come in the new track “Bitter Plea,” blending classic metal and doomly groove to solid effect behind a performance that shows marked growth well earned by time Doomstress has spent on the road over the last year, touring with Disenchanter and others along the way.

The PR wire has more about the EP, and again, you can hear that cover at the bottom of the post. Enjoy:

doomstress-the-second-rite

Texas Doom Metallers Doomstress to Release New EP, The Second Rite via CD and 12” Split This Fall!

Texas doom metallers Doomstress are set to release their new EP, The Second Rite on No Slip Records. The EP contains remixed versions from the original, very limited self release and 7″ DHU single, as well as new song “Bitter Plea” recorded at the end of the Wicked Summer tour and featuring additional rhythm guitar by guitarist Joe Fortunato (Sparrowmilk/Venomin James/ex-Ancient VVisdom). The artwork that will appear on both the CD & vinyl is by renown psychedelic artist, Goatess Doomwych.

Doomstress will also release The Second Rite vinyl as a 12″ split (minus the “Wicked Woman” Coven cover) with Cleveland instrumental powerhouse Sparrowmilk via DHU Records (Netherlands) this fall! As with the EP CD release of The Second Rite, this 12″ vinyl split was mastered by Kent Stump, of Wo Fat, at Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas, TX. The release of the 12” split is expected to be sometime in late November. More details will be released sometime in October so stay tuned.

Song List for The Second Rite EP CD via No Slip Records:
1- Way of the Mountain
2- Bitter Plea
3- Rainbow Demon*
4- Sleep Among the Dead
5- Wicked Woman** (7″ version: CD only bonus)

*Uriah Heep cover 1972
**Coven cover 1969

Doomstress is:
Doomstress Alexis – bass & vocals
Brandon Johnson – lead guitar & backing vocals

Tomasz Scull – recording/touring drummer

Matt Taylor – touring lead/rhythm guitar
Andy Kaos Vehnekamp – touring /session drummer
Alex Erhardt – touring drummer
Joe Fortunato – touring/session rhythm guitar

Doomstress live:
Thur 9/28 OKC, OK @ Your Mom’s Place
Fri 9/29 tba
Sat 9/30 @ Stoned Meadow of Doom Fest in Sioux Falls, SD @ Bigs Bar

www.doomstress.com
www.doomstress.bandcamp.com
www.doomstress.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/DoomstressBand/
instagram.com/Doomstress_band
twitter.com/Doomstress
www.darkhedonisticunion.bigcartel.com

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Doomstress Announce ‘Scorched September’ Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Certainly if you live in the US, you’ve probably heard plenty about this point about the royal ass kicking recently received by the city of Houston from Hurricane Harvey. They say the storm may have permanently changed the shape of the fourth largest urban area in the country, and while we can sit here all day and talk about how all these “500-year” floods keep happening — or we could just say the words “climate change” and accept how much we’ve truly fucked our planet and thus ourselves as a species — the bottom line is that people’s lives will never be the same.

This weekend, Houston’s own Doomstress play a benefit for Harvey flood victims in their hometown, and it’s one of several choice gigs they have coming up before the month is out. Also noteworthy of course is the fact that in October they’ll be at the End Hip End It fest (info here) in Spring, TX, but as you can see, they’re keeping well busy even besides that. Note the TBA date on Sept. 29 after they play Oklahoma City at Your Mom’s Place — joke’s on you; my mom lives in New Jersey — and as always, if you can help out with a show, you should make that happen. Plenty of land there between Oklahoma City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for a gig to take place in.

Shows are presented by Heavy Friends Booking. Here’s info as posted on the social medias:

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Doomstress – Scorched September Tour

Doomstress hits the road again this September!

Sat 9/9 Houston, TX @ Brash brewing company F**K Harvey Flood Victims Benefit **starts at Noon**
https://www.facebook.com/events/1482307511861580/

Fri 9/15 Austin, TX @ The Electric Church w/Crypt Trip

Sat 9/16 San Angelo, TX @ The Deadhorse Live w/The Guillotines
https://www.facebook.com/events/1342549785844088/

Thur 9/28 OKC, OK @ Your Mom’s Place
https://www.facebook.com/events/1927447954134117/

Fri 9/29 tba

Sat 9/30 @ Stoned Meadow of Doom Fest in Sioux Falls, SD @ Bigs Bar
https://www.facebook.com/events/167660890394733/

Thanx to Heavy Friends Booking, DHU Records, NoSlip Records, Zombie Dust Pickups Poster art by Goatess Doomwych layout Doomstress Alexis.

www.doomstress.com
www.doomstress.bandcamp.com
www.doomstress.bigcartel.com
https://www.facebook.com/DoomstressBand/
instagram.com/Doomstress_band
twitter.com/Doomstress
www.darkhedonisticunion.bigcartel.com

Doomstress, “Apathetic Existence” Live at the Foundry

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