Thronehammer Post Teaser for Upcoming Split with Lord of Solitude

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

thronehammer

Good news for the doomed. No, you’re still doomed — as we all are — but guitarist Stuart “Bootsy” West, formerly of the woefully-under-reviewed-by-me-but-nonetheless-righteous Obelyskkh, has unveiled the first snippet of audio from his new project, Thronehammer. The song is called “Hammer, Stake and Cross,” and it comes from a split 10″ with New Zealand’s Lord of Solitude soon to be released by the ultra-trustworthy The Church Within Records.

Naturally, they don’t give a ton to go on — it’s a teaser! — but in the sampling of “Hammer, Stake and Cross,” the swaying riffs and massive tones West and bassist Tim Schmidt emit over top of a nodding groove. There’s a fist-raising sense of classic doom to the proceedings, to be sure, but something in “Hammer, Stake and Cross” seems to have a wider berth as well. Its echo gives a sense of something broader and almost psychedelic beneath. And since it was put to tape, West and Schmidt have filled out the complete lineup for the band, with vocalist Kat “Shevil” Gillham and drummer Olli “The Sludgist, so it seems like whatever they do next will invariably be a step forward from here.

Even so, how this recording of their basic formative moments will manifest in, you know, the whole song, I’ve no idea, let alone how it might factor into anything Thronehammer might have in store following their split with Lord of Solitude. Still, the release of their first public audio is an occasion worth marking, and as I hear more about what seems to be called Vampire Bites Vol. 1 in perhaps an ongoing series from The Church Within, I’ll surely keep you posted.

In the meantime, dig it:

Teaser for our first musical output. “Hammer, Stake and Cross” will appear on a 10″ split EP (w Lord of Solitude) via Church Within Records. take a bite. . .have a listen. . .taste the blood!!!

Caveman Ultradoom Feat. Members of Ex-Obelyskkh, Seamount, Naked Star, Blessed Realm (UK), Uncoffined (UK), Winds Of Genocide (UK), Grimwolv, Scythian Fall

Thronehammer is:
Kat Shevil Gillham – Vokills
Stuart Bootsy West – Guitars | Synth | Fx
Tim Schmidt – Bass
O))i “the Sludgist” – Drums

Thronehammer on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records website

The Church Within Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Eagle Twin, Wight, Sundrifter, Holy Mushroom, Iron and Stone, Black Capricorn, Owl Maker, Troll, Malditos, The Freak Folk of Mangrovia

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

I’m pretty sure this Quarterly Review — life eater that it is — is going to wind up being six days long. That means next Monday look for sixth installment, another batch of 10 records, which were not hard to come by among everything that’s come in lately for review. I do my best to keep up, often to little avail — some random act’s Bandcamp page starts trending and all of a sudden they’re the best band ever, which hey, they’re probably not and that’s okay too. Anyhowzer, I’m trying is the point. Hopefully another 10 records added into this Quarterly Review underscores that notion.

More coffee. More albums. Let’s rock.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn)

eagle twin the thundering heard songs of hoof and horn

Consuming tones, throat-sung blues, a wash of lumbering doom – yes, it’s quite a first three minutes on Eagle Twin’s The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn). Released by Southern Lord, it’s the Salt Lake City duo’s first outing since 2012’s The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (discussed here), which arrived three years after their 2009 debut, The Unkindness of Crows (review here). Once again, the four-song outing finds guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley and drummer Tyler Smith exploring the natural order and the natural world the 11-minute “Quanah un Rama” and the 14-minute “Antlers of Lightning” bookend “Elk Wolfv Hymn” (8:22) and album highlight “Heavy Hood” (7:21), creating an ever-more immersive and grit-laden flow across the album’s span. It’s hard to know if Densley and Smith are the hunters or the hunted here, but the tones are massive enough to make YOB blush, the rhythms are hypnotic and the use they’re both put to is still unlike anything else out there, ending after the chaos and assault of low end on “Antlers of Lightning” with a moment of contemplative guitar lead, as if to remind us of our solitary place in imagining ourselves at the top of the food chain.

Eagle Twin on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Wight, Fusion Rock Invasion

wight fusion rock invasion

One wonders what it might’ve been like to see Wight on the 2015 tour on which the Bilocation Records-issued vinyl-only Fusion Rock Invasion: Live Over Europe was captured. Still a year out from releasing their third album, Love is Not Only What You Know (review here), the former trio had already become a four-piece with guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist René Hofmann, bassist Peter-Philipp Schierhorn and drummer Thomas Kurek bringing in percussionist Steffen Kirchpfening and already undertaken the funkier aesthetic turn that LP would represent coming off of 2012’s Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here). At least I’d think it would be something of a surprise as the band hit into “Helicopter Mama” and “The Muse & the Mule” and “Kelele,” which comprise side A of Fusion Rock Invasion, but by all appearances listening to the crowd response between songs, they seem into it. Who could argue? Wight’s groove in those songs as well as the older “Master of Nuggets” and Love is Not Only What You Know finale “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation” on side B, are infectious in their grooves and the soul put into them is genuine and unmistakable. One more reason I wouldn’t have minded being there, I suppose.

Wight on Thee Facebooks

Wight at Bilocation Records

 

Sundrifer, Visitations

sundrifter visitations

Name your bet someone picks up Sundrifter’s Visitations for a proper release. The Boston three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Craig Peura, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan impress in performance, aesthetic and craft across the nine songs and 48 minute of their for-now-self-released debut long-player, and whether it’s Queenan dipping into blastbeats on “Targeted” or Gaughran’s rumble on the Soundgarden-gone-doom “Fire in the Sky” or the fuzz that leads the charge on the Queens of the Stone Age-style “Hammerburn,” Peura doing a decent Josh Homme along the way, each member proves to add something to a whole greater than the sum of its parts and that is able to take familiar elements and use them to hone an individualized atmosphere. In the wake of melodically engaged Boston acts like Gozu, Sundrifter would seem to be a focused newcomer with a solidified mindset of who they are as a group. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised either if they kept growing their sound. Something about the psychedelic distance in “Fire in the Sky” and “I Want to Leave,” says there’s forward movement yet to be had.

Sundrifter on Thee Facebooks

Sundrifter on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Moon

holy mushroom moon

Serenity and presence. There’s no shortage of either on the second Holy Mushroom full-length, Moon. Incorporating the prior-issued digital single “Éufrates,” the five-track/43-minute excursion is rife with natural-toned psychedelic resonance, marked out by organ/piano working alongside the guitar (see “Birdwax Blues”), as well as guest contributions of double bass and saxophone, and other sundry moments of depth-creating flourish. Their trance-effect is palpable, and Moon is an easy album to get lost in, especially as the Spanish three-piece make their way through 12:35 centerpiece “The Preacher,” moving from a dreamy opening line of guitar into funk-laden heft that only pushes forward with Hendrixian abandon through a massive jam before rounding out sweetly with vocals over background organ and sweetly-strummed guitar. “Éufrates” would seem to start the same way, but varies the structure in more of a back and forth format before closer “Grand Finale in the Blind Desert” brings both Holy Mushroom’s most patient execution and their most vibrant jam (sax included), essentially building from the one into the other to end the album in energetic fashion. To say it works for them would be underselling it.

Holy Mushroom on Thee Facebooks

Holy Mushroom on Bandcamp

 

Iron and Stone, Petrichor

iron and stone petrichor

A debut long-player of no-pretense, no-nonsense sludge-infused doom, Petrichor (on Backbite Records) shows German five-piece Iron and Stone as ready to follow where the riff will lead them. The late 2017 album is a solidly-delivered 10 tracks and 43 minutes that strikes mostly in monochrome intent, save perhaps for the acoustic “Interlude” near the midpoint. Their 2015 EP, Old Man’s Doom (review here), was similarly upfront in its purposes, but carrying across a full-length – especially a debut – is a different beast from a shorter outing. Their heavier push on “Monolith” is welcome and the break-then-chug of “Deserts” does plenty to satisfy, but Petrichor might require a couple concerted listens to really sink in on its audience, though as I’ve said time and again, if you can’t handle repetition, you can’t handle doom. Iron and Stone effectively balance traditional doom and rawer sludge groove, playing fluidly to whichever suits their purposes at a given moment.

Iron and Stone on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records webstore

 

Black Capricorn, Omega

black capricorn omega

Sardinian doom cult Black Capricorn push well beyond the limits of the manageable with their 95-minute fourth album, Omega (released Nov. 2017 on Stone Stallion Rex), and that’s clearly the idea. The three-piece of bassist Virginia, drummer Rakela and guitarist/vocalist Kjxu offer grim ambience and tempos that sound slow regardless of their actual speed. That said, the 17-minute “Antartide” is an accomplishment as regards crawl. After a sweetly melancholic opening of guitar, it lurches and lumbers out its miserable heft until a return to that intro bookends. Even shorter tracks like “Flower of Revelation” or “Stars of Orion” hold firm to the tenet of plod, and though the results are obviously a lot to take in, the idea that it should be a slog seems all the more appropriate to Black Capricorn’s style. The band, which hits the decade mark in 2018, churn out one last bit of wretchedness in the nine-minute closing title-track before giving way to an acoustic finish, as if to remind that Omega’s sorrows are conveyed as much through atmosphere as actual sonic heft.

Black Capricorn on Thee Facebooks

Stone Stallion Rex website

 

Owl Maker, Paths of the Slain

owl maker paths of the slain

Guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli, also of malevolent doomers Vestal Claret, leads the new trio Owl Maker, and in the company of bassist Jessie May and drummer Chris Anderson, he embarks on a heavy rock push of six tracks with the debut EP, Paths of the Slain, still holding to some elements of metal, whether it’s the double-kick in opener “Ride with Aileen” or the backing vocals and guitar solo of the subsequent “99.” Songwriting is clearheaded across the EP’s 23 minutes, and in terms of first impressions, “Mashiara” shows a focus on melody that retains a metallic poise without losing its riff-driven edge. The balance shifts throughout “Freya’s Chariot” and the all-go “Witches,” the latter of which touches on black metal in its first half before turning on a dime to mid-paced heavy rock, and closer “Lady Stoneheart” nods in its back end to NWOBHM gallop, as Owl Maker seem to tip their audience to the fact that they’re just getting started on their exploration of the many interpretations of heavy.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Troll, Troll

troll troll

When one considers the multiple connotations of the word, Portland’s Troll are definitely going more for “lives under a bridge” than “meddling in elections” when it comes to their sound. Their self-titled debut EP, issued in 2017 before being picked up by respected purveyor Shadow Kingdom Records for a 2018 CD/tape release, is a highlight offering of classic-style doom worthy of Orodruin and Pilgrim comparisons and headlined by the vocal performance of John, who carries songs like opener “The Summoning” and the later, more swinging “Infinite Death” in a manner impressive in both frontman presence and melodic range. His work is only bolstered by the riffs of guitarist Lou and the consistent groove held together by bassist Wayne and drummer Ryan, whose drive in centerpiece “An Eternal Haunting” is neither overdone nor incongruous with the wall its tempo hits, and who meld shuffle and plod on closer “Savage Thunder” with naturalist ease. Potential abounds, and they reportedly already have new material in the works, so all the better.

Troll on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Malditos, II

malditos ii
Some bands, you just have to accept the fact that they’re on a different wavelength and that’s all there is to it. Magma. Master Musicians of Bukkake. Circle. Enter Oakland, California’s Malditos, whose sophomore outing, II: La Réve, arrives via Svart Records. From bizarre psychedelic chants to ritualized repetitions that seems to be daring you to play them backwards on your turntable, the spiritual freakout to songs like “Azadeh” and the penultimate “Momen” is palpable. Reach out and touch it and it will ripple like water in front of you. A sense of space is filled with elements alternatingly horrifying and engrossing, and after they make their way through “Le Passage” and centerpiece “Disparu” and wind up in the title-track to close out, the journey to the final wash of noise gives the distinct impression that for neither the listener nor the band is there any coming back. High order head trippery. Will simply be too much for some, will gloriously expand the minds of others.

Malditos on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records webstore

 

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach

the freak folk of mangrovia sonic meditations live at palach

I don’t know how much improvisation is a factor in the sound of The Freak Folk of Mangrovia, but the Croation collective bring an ultra-organic presence to their perhaps-debut release, Sonic Meditations: Live @ Palach. The group, which seems also to have gone under the names Marko Mushan & the Mangrovian Orchestra and The Free Folk of Mangrovia, was opening for Acid Mothers Temple that night, and Sonic Meditations mostly breaks down into parts – “Sonic Meditation I,” “II,” “III” and “IV” – before the band closes out with “’Mangrovian Summer,” all the while with The Freak Folk of Mangrovia making their way through progressive dreamscapes, dripping with effects and spacious enough to house an entire Mangrovian village, however big that might be. It is otherworldly and jazzy and moves with such fluidity that the entire “Sonic Meditation” becomes one overarching piece, complemented by the closing “Mangrovian Summer,” which ebbs and flows through louder, more active jamming before capping in a wash of noise.

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Thee Facebooks

The Freak Folk of Mangrovia on Bandcamp

 

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Cruthu Sign to The Church Within; The Angle of Eternity to be Released in February

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cruthu

Congratulations to Michigan-based doom traditionalists Cruthu, who in signing to The Church Within have become labelmates to the likes of Lord Vicar, Purple Hill Witch and Beelzefuzz. It’s a fitting home for the Lansing four-piece, who released their debut album, The Angle of Eternity (review here), earlier this year through Emetic Records and will see the record reissued via their new label on Feb. 23, 2018. It is streaming in full now and has been for some time, and if you find you’ve been missing the subtle ’70s nods that Revelation always seemed to work into their material, yeah, you’re going to want to hit that up.

Most of this info has been posted here before — just so you don’t think I’m trying to get away with something — but guitarist “Postman Dan” McCormick had some words to say about the signing and hell, I wrote the bio to start with, so it’s not like I’m ripping myself off. The important thing is to get informed.

Dig it and doom on:

cruthu the angle of eternity

Cruthu -The Angle of Eternity on Church Within Records!!

Based in Lansing, Michigan, Cruthu is comprised of vocalist Ryan Evans, guitarist Dan McCormick, bassist Erik Hemingsen (Scott Lehman also plays on the album), and drummer Matt Fry. The Angle of Eternity was produced by McCormick and George Szegedy at The Black Lodge in Lansing, and features cover art by Dan McDonald Studios in a grim style perfectly suited to the band’s downer and ethereal songcraft.

“We’ve been working with Oliver Richling at CWR over the past few months,” McCormick explains. “This release has been fully mastered by Richard Whittaker at FX Mastering and will see its first release on CD along with a special design on vinyl. It’s been a pleasure working with Oliver and his team at a professional level. He’s worked above and beyond to help this record see a proper release into the European market.”

“The album is traditional doom metal with heavy ’70s movements and passages — well structured and deliberate,” says the guitarist in assessing the aesthetic. “We were going for a more lo-fi, circa-’70s sound. Our current goal is to progress the project into some early-NWOBHM over time without compromising our traditional influence.”

Songs like the lurching “Lady in the Lake” and “Bog of Kildare” will earn understanding nods from fans of doomed greats like Trouble, Pagan Altar and The Gates of Slumber, and the progressive edge brought to “Seance” and the closing title-track make a clear statement that Cruthu offer a richness of approach to coincide with their memorable riffing and thematic lyrics.

Recorded 100 percent to tape, The Angle of Eternity weaves a natural-sounding tapestry of doom across its course, capturing a raw vision of heavy metal’s roots as righteous in its execution as its foundations. It is doom by doomers, for doomers, and readily lets the rest be as damned as they are.

The Angle of Eternity tracklisting:
1. Bog of Kildare
2. Lady in the Lake
3. Seance
4. From the Sea
5. Separated From the Herd
6. The Angle of Eternity

Street date: 23.Feb 2018 on CD,Vinyl and Download

Cruthu live:
01/13 Oig’s Fest, Mac’s Bar, Lansing, MI w/ Stonecutters, Wretch, Recorrupter, Jackpine Snag & more

https://www.facebook.com/cruthuband/
https://cruthu.bandcamp.com/
http://doom-dealer.de/

Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity (2017)

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Purple Hill Witch Set Nov. 10 Release for Celestial Cemetery

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

purple hill witch

Late Fall seems like as good a time as any for the second full-length from Norwegian doom-rocking trio Purple Hill Witch to arrive. Titled Celestial Cemetery and given its release through The Church Within Records like the band’s preceding 2014 self-titled debut (review here), the album doesn’t have any unveiled audio or much to go on at this point other than the description in the announcement below — you could do far worse for touchstones than Angel Witch, Black Sabbath and Hawkwind, to be sure — but certainly the artwork carries a classic metal feel as well as you can see below, and if nothing else, it’s got a song called “Ghouls in Leather” as the opener. So, you know, automatic win there.

Nov. 10 is the release date. Hoping to have more to come on it before we get there, but we’ll see what comes together. Info follows as posted by The Church Within:

purple-hill-witch-celestial-cemetery

CW046: Purple Hill Witch – Celestial Cemetery

With their sophomore album Celestial Cemetery out on Church Within Records, Norwegian Purple Hill Witch hits a sweet spot in the metal triangle between Angel Witch, Black Sabbath and Hawkwind. It’s that alchemistic moment where psych, doom, NWOBH, proto metal and rock is molded and sculpted into a perfect entity. Whereas their debut album had more of a stoner rock vibe to it, the new album takes the listener on a sheer proto doom journey past vast galaxies of swirling, Iommic riffs, blistering soli, driving drums and a steady surge of pulsating bass.

What really strikes through on Celestial Cemetery is how much atmosphere and true feeling the band manages to cramp into the furrows of their sonic landscape – this album oozes with hallucinogenic visions of occult rituals and barren medieval country sides haunted by wicked witches. As such it leaves an even darker, more sinister imprint, and if there ever was an immaculate soundtrack for when going witch hunting across celestial cemeteries this would have to be it. Grab the magic wand and a copy of Purple Hill Witch’s new album before the next hunt, you will need it.

Tracklist:
1. Ghouls in Leather
2. Hardbinger of Death
3. Celestial Cemetery
4. Around the Universe
5. Menticide
6. The First Encounter
7. Burnt Offering

Street date: 10th of November

Purple Hill Witch is:
Kristian – Gitar & vokal
Andreas – Bass
Øyvind – Trommer

Artwork by Kristian Valbo.

https://www.facebook.com/PurpleHillWitch/
http://doom-dealer.de/

Purple Hill Witch, Purple Hill Witch (2014)

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Naked Star Announce Debut Album Ancient Rites Due Dec. 16

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

naked-star-700

Seems to me that if you’re going to release your debut album in the middle of December, that better be some cold-ass doom. None of this summer doom. I’m talking classic. Metal. Misery. Fortunately, that seems to be just the order of the day from Naked Star, the new project from Seamount‘s Tim Schmidt. Comprised just of Schmidt as multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jim Grant, at least in the studio, the band will release their first full-length, Ancient Rites, on Dec. 16, 2016, through The Church Within Records after making an impressive initial offering earlier this year with the Bloodmoon Prophecy EP, a three-song 10″ that you can hear below and which makes me think Ancient Rites will more than stand up to whatever the coldest and darkest days have to offer. Guess we’ll find out.

Info follows from the PR wire:

naked-star-ancient-rites

NAKED STAR – Ancient Rites (The Church Within Records)

Release date: 16.12.2016

NAKED STAR is the new musical outlet of Tim Schmidt (Seamount) and Jim Grant (Vampyromorpha), born in a night with a lot of booze, horror movies and a bloodmoon. In spring 2016 the 10’’ EP “Bloodmoon Prophecy” has already been released via Voize Of Azram Records, followed by a tape version from Auric Records.

After the collaboration had turned out to be very fertile, the duo began working on their full-length debut very soon and found the right label with The Church Within Records. Expect a full dose of pure and extremely HEAVY Doom in the vein of Saint Vitus, Goatsnake, Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Count Raven, Hour Of 13 and the likes!

In the upcoming winter season 2016/2017, NAKED STAR will plan several club performances, consolidated by two live members.

Naked Star, Ancient Rites tracklisting:
1. Purgamantic
2. Stoned Demon
3. Spawn of the Witch
4. Be My Sacrifice
5. Bound to Hell
6. Alter Ego
7. I am the Antichrist
8. Necrolust

Distribution CD: Alive (GER) & Code7/PHD (Europe)
Distribution Vinyl: Voice Of Azram, Plastic Head, Clear Spot & All That Is Heavy (USA)

Members:
Tim Schmidt – Guitars, Bass, Drums;
Jim Grant – Vocals
live force:
Chris “the Amperor” – Bass
Markus “Satanas” – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/n.star666/
https://nakedstar.bandcamp.com/releases
http://doom-dealer.de/

Naked Star, Bloodmoon Prophecy EP (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Candlemass, Skuggsjá, Black Lung, Lord Vicar, Dakessian, Gypsy Chief Goliath, Inter Arma, Helgamite, Mollusk

Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

Who’s ready for another round of 10 reviews in The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review? I know I am. We gotta hit 50 by Friday, and there’s still a lot — a lot — of ground to cover. Yesterday was all over the place style-wise and today has some of that going as well, but there’s a lot of quality in both, so hopefully you get to check some of it out. Today is the all important QR Hump Day, wherein we pass the halfway mark on our way to the total 50 reviews. If you’re wondering, it’s Lord Vicar who do the honors this time around at #25. Just kind of worked out that way, but I’ll take it. Down to business.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare

mirrors for psychic warfare mirrors for psychic warfare

Probably fair to call Mirrors for Psychic Warfare an offshoot of Corrections House, since its two members – Scott Kelly (also Neurosis) and Sanford Parker (producer extraordinaire/also Buried at Sea) – are also in that group, but the feel of their Neurot Recordings self-titled debut is substantially different, rawer and at times harsher. Parker handles beats and electronics, creating at times a wash of abrasive noise as in the culmination of “CNN WTZ,” the centerpiece of the five tracks, and elsewhere providing an industrial backdrop for Kelly’s voice for a gothic feel, as on “A Thorn to See.” Unsurprisingly, nothing about Mirrors for Psychic Warfare makes for particularly easy listening – though opener “Oracles Hex” has some commonality with Kelly’s solo work and his voice is resonant as ever – but as they round out the album with “43,” the keys, synth and guitar find some common ground, which leaves distorted shouts from Kelly to do the work of taking listeners to task. We already knew these two worked well together, and the partnership once again bears fruit here.

Neurot Recordings on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings webshop

Candlemass, Death Thy Lover

candlemass-death-thy-lover

The four-song Death Thy Lover EP (on Napalm) is the first new studio offering of original material from Swedish doom legends Candlemass since their 2012 album, Psalms for the Dead (review here), marked the end of the tenure of vocalist Robert Lowe, also of Solitude Aeturnus. His replacement is the person who nearly had the job in the first place, Mats Levén (formerly Therion), who has a kind of stateliness to his presence in opener “Death Thy Lover” but suits the plod of “Sleeping Giant” well. Of course, at the center of the band is bassist/songwriter Leif Edling, whose style is unmistakable in these tracks, whether it’s the late-Iommi-style riffing of “Sinister ‘n’ Sweet” or “Death Thy Lover”’s chugging its way toward the hook. Candlemass save the most grueling for last with “The Goose,” as guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson intertwine a chugging rhythm and extended soloing over dirge-march drums from Jan Lindh to give the short release a darkened instrumental finale.

Candlemass on Thee Facebooks

Candlemass at Napalm Records

Skuggsjá, A Piece for Mind and Mirror

skuggsja-a-piece-for-mind-and-mirror

Talk about scope. Oh, only a country’s entire cultural history is fair game for Skuggsjá, the brainchild of Norwegian artists Ivar Bjørnson (also Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (also Wardruna) that crosses the line between black metal and Norse traditionalism probably better than anyone has ever done it before. A Piece for Mind and Mirror is the studio incarnation of the work the two composers and a host of others did as commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, and though it’s broken into 10 movements for the album, it flows together as one orchestral entirety, the gurgle of Grutle Kjellson (Enslaved) recognizable in the eponymous track amid choral backing and a richly textured blend of traditional folk instruments and metallic thrust. The lyrics are Norwegian, but whether it’s the blowing horn of “Makta Og Vanæra (I All Tid)” or the lush melodies in the march of “Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing,” the sense of pride and the creative accomplishment of A Piece for Mind and Mirror ring through loud and clear.

Skuggsjá on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist webshop

Black Lung, See the Enemy

black lung see the enemy

Two years after making their self-titled debut, Baltimore heavy bluesfuzz trio Black Lung come swaggering back with the spacious vibes of See the Enemy (on Noisolution), which takes the establishing steps the first album laid out and builds on them fluidly and with a clear direction in mind. At eight tracks/45 minutes produced by J. Robbins, the album was clearly structured for vinyl, each half ending with a longer cut, the psych-jamming “Nerve” on side A, which resounds in an ending of scorching guitar from Adam Bufano atop the drums of Elias Schutzman (both of The Flying Eyes), and the closer “8MM,” on which Bufano, Schutzman, guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier and Robbins (who also contributes bass) roll out the record’s most massive groove and cap it with an impenetrable wall of noise. While the songs are striking in their cohesion and poise, there are moments where one wants Black Lung to really let loose, as after Trevor Shipley’s keyboard stretch in “Priestess,” but they have other ideas, feeding the title-track directly into “8MM” with no less a firm sense of control than shown earlier. All told, an excellent follow-up that deserves broader consideration among 2016’s finer offerings.

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Black Lung at Noisolution

Lord Vicar, Gates of Flesh

lord vicar gates of flesh

Offered through The Church Within Records as a paean to classic doom, Lord Vicar’s third LP, Gates of Flesh, nonetheless almost can’t help but put its own mark on the style. The Turku, Finland, outfit’s first album in five years, it finds guitarist Kimi Kärki (ex-Reverend Bizarre, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, etc.), vocalist Chritus (also Goatess, ex-Saint Vitus, Count Raven, etc.), and drummer Gareth Millsted (ex-Centurions Ghost) — who, along with Kärki, also contributed bass after the band parted ways with Jussi Myllykoski and prior to adding Sami Hynninen as a temporary replacement — bold enough to shift into minimalist spaciousness on “A Shadow of Myself,” and really, they’re not through opener “Birth of Wine” before Kärki executes a gorgeous dual-layered solo. Trace those roots back to Trouble if you must, but there’s no question to whom the lurch of centerpiece “Breaking the Circle” or the sorrowful 10-minute closer “Leper, Leper” belongs, and the same holds true for everything that follows, be it the quiet start of “A Woman out of Snow” or the swinging second half of “Accidents.” Lord Vicar enact the doom of ages and take complete ownership of the sound, thus only adding to the canon as they go.

Lord Vicar on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records

Dakessian, The Poisoned Chalice

dakessian the poisoned chalice

Like the stench of rotting, Dakessian’s The Poisoned Chalice provokes a visceral and physical response. The long-in-the-making debut release from the Portland-based duo of vocalist Kenny Snarzyk (also Fister) and multi-instrumentalist Aaron D.C. Edge (Lumbar, Roareth, so many others) had its music recorded back in 2013, and the vocals were added earlier this year, throat-searing screams and growls that top the noisy, claustrophobically weighted tones from Edge’s guitar. The onslaught is unrelenting, both longer songs like “Demons” and “Ten Double Zero” and shorter cuts “Nothing Forever” and the sample-laced opener “Choose Hate” brim with aggressive misanthropy, the will against. Even the penultimate “Baerial,” which offers a glimmer of melody, continues to crush, and starting with a slow drum progression, closer “Cosmic Dissolution” barely tops two and a half minutes, but it brings thorough reassurance of the project’s destructive force before its final drone rounds out. One never knows with Edge if a given band will ever have a follow-up, but as ever, the quality is consistent. In this case, brutally so.

Dakessian on Bandcamp

Holy Mountain Printing

Gypsy Chief Goliath, Citizens of Nowhere

gypsy chief goliath citizens of nowhere

Actually, if you want to get technical about it, Gypsy Chief Goliath are citizens of Ontario, but you’d never know it from listening to their third album, Citizens of Nowhere, which if you had to pin a geographic locale on it might be more of a fit for New Orleans than Canada. The Pitch Black Records release sees the triple-guitar-plus-harmonica six-piece outfit dug deep in Southern metal grooves, marked out by the burl-bringing vocals of frontman/guitarist Al “The Yeti” Bones, formerly of Mister Bones, Serpents of Secrecy and The Mighty Nimbus and the chug-and-churn of cuts like “Black Samurai” and the shuffle of “We Died for This.” The title-track winds its central riff with thickened-up ‘70s boogie, while “Elephant in the Room” and “The Return” space out a bit more, and the closing Black Sabbath cover “Killing Yourself to Live” (a CD bonus track) plays it loyal structurally while dude’ing up the original like it was on hormone therapy.

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Pitch Black Records on Bandcamp

Inter Arma, Paradise Gallows

inter arma paradise gallows

Hard-touring Richmond genre-benders Inter Arma are due for a landmark release. Their 2014 single-song EP, The Cavern, was wildly well received and earned every bit of praise it got. Their follow-up to that is Paradise Gallows, their third album and second for Relapse behind 2013’s Sky Burial (track stream here). Is Paradise Gallows that landmark? Hell if I know. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mikey Allred, who also guests on trombone, bass violin, organ and noise, Inter Arma’s third brings an expansive 70 minutes of bleak progressivism, conceptually and sonically broad enough to be considered brilliant and still weighted enough that the prevailing vibe is extremity in their blend of sludge, doom, black metal, post-metal, atmospherics, and a moody acoustic closer. The only real danger is that it might take listeners time to digest – because it’s a lot to take in, all those twists and turns in “Violent Constellations,” particularly after the plod of the title-track – but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find Inter Arma inhabiting any number of year-end lists for 2016. Once again, they earn it.

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Inter Arma at Relapse Records

Helgamite, Hypnagogia

helgamite hypnagogia

Virginian bruisers Helgamite manage to cover a deceptive amount of sonic ground on their second LP, Hypnagogia (on CD through Lost Apparitions with vinyl soon on Flesh Vessel), spending plenty of time in dense-toned sludge metal but using that as a foundation for a wider range of explorations, winding up in blastbeats by the time 13-minute side B finale “The Secret” comes around, but by then having torn through the aggro-thrash of “Origins,” lumbered through the mosher “Æstrosion” and topped off “Shaman’s Veil” with math-metal guitar fits melded to a saxophone arrangement. Growls from vocalist William Breeden and Jonah Butler’s drums tie it all together as guitarist Casey Firkin (also sax) and bassist Matthew Beahm pull off intermittently jazzy runs, but impressively, Helgamite never sound in danger of losing sight of the songs they’re serving, and Hypnogogia is stronger for its unwillingness to waste a second of its runtime, even in the aforementioned “The Secret” or its 10-minute side A counterpart, “Snowdrifter.”

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Lost Apparitions Records website

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Mollusk, Children of the Chron

mollusk-children-of-the-chron

Get it? Children of the Chron? I’ll admit it took me a second. While I was thinking about it, Allston, Massachusetts, duo Mollusk doled out sludge-punk-metal beatings via raw tones and shouts and a general sense of checked-out attitude, “Glacier” reminding of earliest, least-poppy Floor, but cuts like “Demon Queen” and “When You’re Gone” finding guitarist Hank Rose using a purposefully monotone vocal approach that works well over slower parts. Rose is joined in Mollusk by drummer Adam O’Day, and though I’ve already noted that the 11-track album is raw, their sound wants nothing for impact in the low end or any other end for that matter. Rather, the harsher aspects become part of the aesthetic throughout Children of the Chron and the band successfully navigates its own mire without getting lost in either its own “Torture Chamber” or “Zombie Apocalypse,” which like opener “Ride the #9,” is almost certainly a song about life in the Boston area.

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Mollusk at ReverbNation

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Beelzefuzz Premiere Video for “Nazzriff”; New Album out Aug. 19

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

beelzefuzz (Photo by Kathy Reeves)

Progressive doomers Beelzefuzz first premiered the leadoff track from Beelzefuzz II: The Righteous Bloom here back in March, in part I think to prove the album existed after everything they’d been through making it. Set to come out Aug. 19 via Restricted Release with a European issue to follow via The Church Within, the follow-up to the band’s 2013 self-titled debut (review here) brings half a new lineup with guitarist Greg Diener (Pale Divine) and bassist Bert Hall (Revelation) joining founders Dana Ortt (vocals/guitar) and Darin McCloskey (drums; also Pale Divine) in the studio for the first time.

In raw talent and doom cred both, those are no minor additions, but the core of Beelzefuzz remains the blend of melancholic melody, classic-style laid back groove and off-kilter quirk driven in large part by Ortt‘s organ-esque guitar tone — something that has to be witnessed live to be fully appreciated; one expects they’ll come out of playing Psycho Las Vegas in August with many new friends — and obscure lyrics. “Nazzriff,” its title a play on the band Nazareth, showcases just about all of that, and while the album expands greatly in terms of style, Diener‘s second guitar and storied lead work bringing a new dynamic to the former-trio, Beelzefuzz‘s work remains entirely their own and the band stands among the most individualized acts in US doom. There’s nothing else out there quite like them. Yet.

Beelzefuzz II: The Righteous Bloom, once again, is out Aug. 19, 2016, on Restricted Release, which as fate would have it is one week before the band plays the aforementioned Psycho Las Vegas. You’ll find the video for “Nazzriff” below, made by CineMavericks Media, followed by more info on the record courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Beelzefuzz, “Nazzriff” official video

Restricted Release is proud to present the second full-length album from BEELZEFUZZ. The album is set for North American release August 19.

Formed in 2009, BEELZEFUZZ’s heavy rock found an immediate regional following. Shortly after the release of a 4-song demo in 2010, the band signed with Germany’s The Church Within and released their full length in 2013. BEELZEFUZZ features members of Pale Divine, Falcon, and Revelation.

The Righteous Bloom is the band’s first album to be distributed nationally via Restricted Release/Abstract Distribution. Produced by the band with Richard Whittaker (Skullflower), it features original artwork by illustrator David Paul Seymour (Red Fang, Graveyard).

BEELZEFUZZ is vocalist/guitarist Dana Ortt, drummer Darin McCloskey, guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener, and bassist Bert Hall.

European release of The Righteous Bloom will be via The Church Within.

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Beelzefuzz website

Preorder at Restricted Release

The Church Within Records

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Beelzefuzz Premiere “Nazzriff” from Beelzefuzz II: The Righteous Bloom

Posted in audiObelisk on March 2nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

beelzefuzz

It has been a strange road to bring Beelzefuzz around to their second album. Based in Maryland and Pennsylvania, the band issued their self-titled debut (review here) in 2013 via The Church Within Records, and this summer, they’ll follow it up with Beelzefuzz II: The Righteous Bloom on the same label. Three years between records isn’t all that long, but in the interim, Beelzefuzz added a lead guitarist in Greg Diener (also Pale Divine), broke up, started a new band called Righteous Bloom with Bert Hall (Revelation) on bass, and then finally decided to scrap it and go back to being Beelzefuzz.

No shortage of drama between all this back and forth, but what it works out to is that Beelzefuzz — guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt and drummer Darin McCloskey (also Pale Divine) in addition to Hall and Diener — are back with half a new lineup from the first album. Today they unveil the first audio from Beelzefuzz II: The Righteous Bloom beelzefuzz ii the righteous bloomin the opening track, “Nazzriff.”

Also announced this week as taking part in Psycho Las Vegas this August, and “Nazzriff” finds them with the sense of humor behind their moniker well intact (say the title out loud and then think Loud ‘n’ Proud) alongside their progressive take on doom and classic heavy rock. A chugging central riff — perhaps the titular nazzriff — weaves in and out with Ortt‘s vocals, the rolling groove residing over smooth, straightforward drumming given warmth and depth by Hall‘s bass. Diener makes his presence felt before two minutes in, a grand-style solo fitting with the epic thematic of the lyrics layering with both itself and with Ortt‘s guitar-as-organ rhythm line. That’s about as signature as Beelzefuzz get, and the tonality displayed throughout feels much closer to their live sound than did the first album — not to take anything away from that record whatsoever — so both represents them and bodes well for the rest of Beelzefuzz II: The Righteous Bloom when it arrives in August.

If you don’t know Beelzefuzz, they’re not quite like anyone else out there, and yes, I mean that. Please hear for yourself enjoy the premiere of “Nazzriff” on the player below, followed by some comment from Ortt on the impending album:

Dana Ortt on “Nazzriff”

“Nazzriff” is the first track on the upcoming album The Righteous Bloom which will be released in the US in August. Church Within Records will be following up with a Europe release sometime afterwards. Looking forward to doing some shows in support of the album and playing the new songs live!

I think “Nazzriff” shows off our more traditional “rockin” Uriah Heep and Nazareth influences musically. We wanted to have a lead off track that featured to most of the elements of what we do, “Nazzriff” fits that description to us. The lyrics were based on The Repairer of Reputations by Robert Chambers.

Beelzefuzz website

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The Church Within Records

Psycho Las Vegas

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