The Obelisk Radio Adds: Boris, Sólstafir, Desert Suns & Chiefs, Elara, Fungus Hill

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

Some bigger releases going up to the playlist for The Obelisk Radio this time around, and that’s just fine by me. It’s five albums listed here, but there are a few others included as well that you can see listed on the updates page and it’s good stuff all the way around. It was all actually supposed to go up last week, but you know, life is chaos and all that. I hope as always that you manage to find something you enjoy, and if you haven’t heard some of this stuff as yet — I suspect you have, because you know what’s up and I’m perpetually behind on these things; more than just a week, on average — then all the better. Let’s dig in together.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2017:

Boris, Dear

boris dear

If you were Boris and you were looking to celebrate a quarter-century of innovating heavy rock, noise, drone, J-pop, and genreless forays into bizarre sonic delights, how would you do it? If you said, “I’d release 69 heavy-as-hell minutes of rumbling tectonics and progressive scope making for one of the best albums of the year,” you’d seem to be on the money. The Japanese trio’s umpteenth full-length, Dear (on Sargent House in the US/EU and Daymare in Japan), begins with the appropriately-titled “D.O.W.N. – Domination of Waiting Noise,” setting forth a consuming six-minute onslaught of feedback and lumbering pummel before the SunnO)))-rivaling drone of “Deadsong” takes hold, shifting at its midpoint to a spaciousness all Boris‘ own. Then they chug out galloping riff triplets on “Absolutego” like it ain’t no thing. That’s Boris: the band who named themselves after a Melvins song and then utterly outdid their namesake on every creative level and have continued to do so throughout one of underground music’s most landmark tenures. Dear offers simultaneous melodic breadth and droning depth on its centerpiece duo of “Kagero” and “Biotope” after counteracting minimalist march with explosive crash on “Beyond,” but they’re still just getting started. The seven-minute “The Power” leads off the second of the two LPs and seems to stem upward from the same roots as YOB at their harshest, brutally feedbacking into the dronegaze of the shorter “Memento Mori” before the 12-minute “Dystopia – Vanishing Point” and the nine-minute title-track comprise a side D that’s nothing less than a triumphant lesson in how to meet your audience head-on right before you swallow them whole, setting its stage with keys and tribalist drums quickly before hypnotizing through five minutes of quiet stretch and bursting gloriously to life ahead of one last contrast of empty spaces and crushing tonality on “Dear” that gives way at last to the noise and feedback that’s always been so essential to their process. If Dear is a letter to Boris‘ fans, as they have said, it is also a willful embrace of the wide-open sensibilities that have made the last 25 years of their craft so uniquely their own. They can go anywhere stylistically and remain Boris precisely because they refuse to settle on a single idea that defines them.

Boris on Thee Facebooks

Boris at Sargent House’s website

 

Sólstafir, Berdreyminn

solstafir berdreyminn

Having now passed the 20-year mark since their founding in 1995, Iceland’s Sólstafir continue to reshape melancholy in their own image on their sixth album and third for Season of Mist, Berdreyminn. The Reykjavik-based four-piece keep the significant achievements of 2014’s Ótta (review here) close to the chest throughout the eight-track/57-minute offering, but songs like “Ísafold” have an upbeat push behind their emotional resonance, and even on a brooding piano piece like “Hvít Sæng,” the overarching sense of motion and the dynamic is maintained. The penultimate “Ambátt” — first of two eight-minute cuts in a finale duo — might be Berdreyminn‘s richest progressive achievement, with its lush opening vocal harmonies giving way to a patiently-delivered clinic on texture, build and payoff that borders on the orchestral. Of course, strings and horns to appear on the album, adding to already complex arrangements, but Sólstafir never lose their corresponding human center, and as “Bláfjall” closes with an intensity of thrust hinted at by the cymbal-crash wash of opener “Silfur-Refur” and the post-blackened push of “Nárós” but ultimately on its own level, they underline the realization and poise that is simply all their own. Berdreyminn is the sound of a band doing important work, and with it, Sólstafir only prove themselves more crucial on an aesthetic level, yet it might be their ability to somehow still feel in-progress that most defines what makes them so special. More than two decades on, they still come across like a group exploring their sound and finding new ways to develop their songwriting — which they are and which they do here. That in itself is an accomplishment worthy of every accolade they reap, and Berdreyminn lives up to that standard front to back across its engaging, encompassing span.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Sólstafir at Season of Mist’s website

 

Desert Suns & Chiefs, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5

second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-5-desert-suns-chiefs

Ripple Music has made its The Second Coming of Heavy series of split LPs an essential showcase of the variety in underground rock. The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 brings together San Diego heavy psych/blues rockers Desert Suns, who also reissued their debut long-player through Ripple in 2016 and followed it with the single “The Haunting” (review here) in conjunction with Ripple and HeviSike Records, and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chiefs, whose 2015 debut, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), arrived on vinyl via Battleground Records and whose five tracks included on side B here cast them among the best Ripple Music bands in the Southwest not currently signed to Ripple Music for their next album. More than some prior installments, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 finds its two featured purveyors complementing each other’s work excellently, as Desert Suns offer three seven-plus minute tracks running from the harmonica-inclusive “Night Train” and the rolling, long-fading “Solitude” with the push of “Heavy” in between and Chiefs — though their individual runtimes are shorter — holding straightforward heavy/desert rock methods at their core in unpretentious fashion across “The Rhino,” the standout “Baron to Chancellor,” “Low Tide,” “Caroline” and “My Last Stand,” nodding initially at ’90s noise rock à la Helmet in “The Rhino” but in the end keeping to their sandy, well-structured mission. As ever, The Second Coming of Heavy asks nothing more of its audience than a basic exploration of the groups included, and certainly both Desert Suns and Chiefs earn that. Whether one takes it on in the context of the prior chapters or as a standalone split release, it delivers a collection of cuts from two outfits with a shared core of quality songcraft and the underlying message that sometimes the straight-line route is the way to go. Right on, once again.

Desert Suns on Thee Facebooks

Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Elara, Deli Bal

elara deli bal

Both sides of Elara‘s PsyKa Records-released debut full-length, Deli Bal, are comprised of one shorter track on either side of eight minutes and one longer one, 12 and 17 minutes, respectively. Between that and the cover art, it should come as no surprise that heavy psychedelic drift is central to what the Stuttgart, Germany, trio of bassist/vocalist Daniel Wieland, guitarist/noisemaker Felix Schmidt and drummer Martin Wieland — who also stylize their name as the bracketed [Elara Sunstreak Band] — get up to in their first offering, but there’s an underlying progressive melodic sensibility as well, and Schmidt‘s guitar seems to have picked up a few lessons from My Sleeping Karma‘s minor-key solo mysticism, so one can hear a sound beginning to take shape early as the leadoff title-track gives way to “Amida,” which swaps back and forth between organ-laden krautrock meandering and fuller-fuzz thrust, and as “Quarantania” reinforces that classic vibe with a warm bass tone from Daniel. Whether you’re listening to the platter itself and switching sides or digitally or on CD, Deli Bal is clearly intended to be consumed as a whole work, and one can hear the vocal melody of “Harmonia” tying back to that in the opener as another example of the underlying structure with which it plays out, despite the broad feel of the songs themselves and the expanses they both intend and actually do cover. The LP has just the four tracks, but the digital version comes with the 9:42 bonus cut “Trimenon,” which builds around a core post-rocking guitar line to come to a fervent apex before receding again to let the listener go gently from Deli Bal‘s total 56-minute runtime; no minor undertaking, but effectively executed and a pleasure in its wandering mind and spirit.

Elara on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records on Bandcamp

 

Fungus Hill, Creatures

fungus hill creatures

This early-2017 psychedelic curio from Umeå, Sweden’s Fungus Hill begins by asking “Are You Dead?” The just-under-nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of the groovy outfit’s four-song, self-released, 28-minute debut Creatures EP doesn’t sound overly concerned with whether the answer is yes or no so much as enacting a serene flow by posing the question over a laid back bluesy vibe. Arrangement? Fluid. With dual vocals from guitarist Gustav Orvefors and percussionist Jenny Isaksson — the five-piece is completed by guitarist Erik Sköld, drummer Nils Mörtzell and bassist Tom Westerlund — Fungus Hill are able to bring variety as they turn to post-Ghost straightforward ’70s chorus-leaning in the first half of “Beware of Evil in the Sky,” prior to a midsection trip outward on subdued shimmy and deceptively complex melodicism. The flute (or keyboard flute sounds) of the jazzy “Evolution” brings Isaksson to the floor with a smoky, even-bluesier feel, and the guitar answers back with fuzzy lead flourish that only enhances the soul on display, while a seven-and-a-half-minute closing title-track delves deepest of all into thicker riffing, a “Na na na na” hook taking hold quickly just in case you weren’t sure it was going to be a highlight. It is. More tonally dense than most retro boogie — and less retro, for that matter — Fungus Hill‘s Creatures nonetheless has its traditionalist elements, but across its individual pieces each one points to a different side of the band’s personality, and from the Alan Watts sample at the beginning of “Are You Dead?” to when we meet the troll later in “Creatures,” each side of that personality utterly shines.

Fungus Hill on Thee Facebooks

Fungus Hill on Bandcamp

 

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

The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five out March 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The beat rolls on, the bands play on, and Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five lands on March 24, bringing new tracks with it from Desert Suns and Chiefs. This latest installment of the ongoing and deeply admirable series of split LPs marks the first of 2017, arriving just a few months after Chapter Four (review here) brought together the colorful pairing of Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth. One has to wonder at this point what will happen when Ripple gets to Chapter 10 — we’re halfway there — and whether the label will issue a box set of all of these together in celebration of the scope of the project. Even if they made 20 or something and charged $150-$200 for them, it seems like a worthy endeavor, particularly as all the art ties together and whatnot.

My two cents, anyhow.

The PR wire has background and audio for The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five. I’ve got a pretty good track record at this point of reviewing these, and I’ll hope to maintain that with this one as well, so please keep an eye out. Till then:

second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-v-desert-suns-chiefs

The return of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V | Split album from Desert Suns and Chiefs

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V is released on vinyl on 24th March 2017

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of the year’s most ambitious projects, The Second Coming Of Heavy Series.

Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multicoloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

DESERT SUNS – In that space where psychedelia, blues-rock and doom coalesce, it’s there you’ll likely find Desert Suns. Formed in late 2013, from the outset the Californian quartet demonstrated a versatility rarely seen amongst their contemporaries. In no time at all they wrote, recorded and released their debut single ‘Burning Temples’ and by that same summer had already started to unload an arsenal of new sounds. Released in 2014, their self-titled debut reassured fans that they were far from one hit wonders. Containing haunting lyrics of alienation with compelling hooks, Desert Suns peddle an addictive and atmospheric energy of heavy rock familiar to fans of early ’70s proto-metal acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Blue Cheer.

CHIEFS – Having originally begun life as a two-piece back in January of 2012 in Phoenix, AZ, after years of releasing demos, touring and playing around Phoenix Valley the duo made the decision to relocate to San Diego, CA. Shortly after, they released a four-song demo entitled Buffalo Roam, and did numerous short West Coast tours to support it. Eventually the group became a three-piece with the permanent addition of bassist Jeff Podeszwik, who filled out the low-end of the band and transformed their sound. Hot off the heels of releasing a split 7″ with Fuzz Evil through Battleground Records, Chiefs released their debut full-length album Tomorrow’s Over and are now the latest addition to Ripple Music’s much coveted SCoH’s “Hall of Fame”.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V will get an official vinyl release on 24th March 2017 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

http://www.desertsunsmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertsunssd/
https://www.instagram.com/desertsunsband/
https://desertsuns.bandcamp.com/

http://www.wearechiefs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wearechiefs
https://wearechiefs.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/wearechiefs/
https://twitter.com/chiefsphx

http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Red Mesa & Blue Snaggletooth, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four: Deserts and Mystic Waters

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-4-red-mesa-blue-snaggletooth

One can’t help but wonder if, when Ripple Music first announced their The Second Coming of Heavy series of splits in early 2015, the California-based imprint had any idea what they were getting into. They committed at the outset to make it 10 releases, each one dubbed a “Chapter,” and aside from the logistical nightmare of coordinating such a thing from recordings to cover art to pressing and the invariable presence of bands outside their window in long jackets holding boomboxes over their heads playing their own songs to try to be a part of it, even timing out the arrival of each subsequent LP seems daunting. There’s a reason most “series” of splits or comps don’t get past their first installment, and it’s because they’re a monumental pain in the ass to put make happen.

After bringing together Borracho and Geezer (review here), Supervoid and Red Desert (review here), and BoneHawk and Kingnomad (review here), The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four highlights two more acts from the American underground in desert-is-as-desert-does Albuquerque trio Red Mesa and Ann Arbor, Michigan, power rockers Blue Snaggletooth. As has been the custom of the series, each band gets a side on the limited edition vinyl to work with — Red Mesa‘s is about 22 minutes, Blue Snaggletooth‘s about 19 — and an opportunity to ply their wares to a wider audience and collectors alike by teaming up. Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth do this while at the same time complementing each other’s style and, ultimately, adding to the breadth of The Second Coming of Heavy as a whole, underscoring the core belief of the project that heavy rock and roll knows no boundaries or other limits of any kind. It can, and does, emerge from anytime, anyplace.

The first line of the release tops a speedy motor riff. It’s Red Mesa‘s “Cactus Highway,” one of their four inclusions, and the lyric is “Let’s go to the desert/Leave it all behind.” Immediately, the impression is straightforward, somewhere between a vocalized Karma to Burn and Kyuss, and through that opener and “Low and Slow,” which follows, it seems like that’s going to be the course of the thing. Nothing wrong with that. “Cactus Highway” has a touch of shuffle in the drumming of Duane Gasper, and the tone of guitarist/vocalist Brad Frye is well-suited to the Motörhead-style thrust of the track, on which he’s backed by bassist Shawn Wright, but particularly the second half of “Low and Slow” begins to hint at a broader approach. Slower overall as one would hope based on the title, it opens to a wider feel under the solo and then gets even more spacious after its final chorus. This makes it an even more jarring turn when Red Mesa shift into the jangly-party-time strum of “Goin’ to the Desert,” with its handclaps and howls and intentional barroom blues, vaguely countrified but only lasting about 90 seconds of the song’s seven minutes before thunder crashes, a cymbal washes and the three-piece shift into minimalist psychedelia, vocals and guitar gradually returning, leading to a crash-in at the midpoint of heavier riffing and subsequent build of Monster Magnet-esque heavy space rock noise wash, the apex of which gradually fades out over the last minute with more thunder and rain sounds remaining.

It’s a sudden, somewhat odd turn for “Goin’ to the Desert” to make — seeming to present people’s ideas about actually doing so measured against the terrifying reality of the ecosystem — and it completely shatters the expectation for what “Utopia,” which closes Red Mesa‘s side, might present. As plausible as it seemed going into “Cactus Highway” to get a handle on their aesthetic of dudely desertism, coming out of “Goin’ to the Desert” renders most guessing irrelevant. They finish over the course of the 6:51 track by trading volume back and forth between “Planet Caravan” impulses filtered through Southwestern nighttime skies and harder riffing, but shift into an acoustic-led psychedelic bridge in the midsection that acts as the foundation for their last build, setting up a return to the chorus that highlights the notion of just how much Red Mesa‘s side flows across its abbreviated course, and the outward progression the band effectively sets up. It feels way more like an EP than a split side simply bringing songs together — a genuine mini-album to follow their self-released 2014 self-titled debut — and hopefully speaks to where they’re headed in terms of sound overall.

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-four-red-mesa-blue-snaggletooth-lp-700

Comparatively, Blue Snaggletooth have the benefit of experience over Red Mesa. With frontman and founder Chris “Box” Taylor at the fore, Blue Snaggletooth debuted in 2011 with Dimension Thule (review here) and followed that with 2014’s Beyond Thule (discussed here) and last year’s The Last Voyage of Amra EP, settling in the meantime on a formidable lineup with Taylor working alongside guitarist Casey O’Ryan (also Bison Machine), bassist Joe Kupiec (also Wild Savages) and drummer Mike Popovich, which is the four-piece present on these three tracks as well. Beginning with the 8:30 “Sand Witch,” an opener and longest inclusion (immediate points), Blue Snaggletooth reinforce the classic heavy basis from which modern riffery stems, all the while refusing to give into cliché vintage-ism or sacrifice a modern tonal presence in the name of worshiping at the altar of their forebears. Across “Sand Witch,” “Crystal’s Gaze” and “Mystic Waters,” they demonstrate a wah-prone take that owes more to 1972 than 1968, but takes the lessons of psychedelia and suits them to their straight-ahead, mostly structured purposes.

Some echo in the chorus of “Mystic Waters” goes a long way, for example, and the swirl of intertwining guitar leads with what may or may not be Deep Purple-style organ underneath the peak of “Sand Witch” makes for an exciting stretch worthy of any size stage that thinks it could contain it. Updating that classic heavy grandeur by blending it with a humbler semi-desert fuzz is a major factor in making “Sand Witch” work so well, but Blue Snaggletooth tie their three inclusions together through a consistency of songwriting that makes each chorus a standout, and whether it’s “Sand Witch” pushing out into that dual-guitar mythology creation, or “Crystal’s Gaze” calling to mind the early fuzz triumphs of Sasquatch and drenching them in wah, or “Mystic Waters” bringing the whole thing together and making it boogie, the four-piece hold firm to their own processes and thus their identity, executing their material with confidence and a fluidity that contrasts the linear outward course of Red Mesa, emphasizing a different manner of stylistic blend in the process.

As though in conversation with their side A companions, Blue Snaggletooth start at their farthest-out point and seem to work their way back in, and while that gives The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four an overarching progression through its two sides, it’s worth noting that, like all of the offerings thus far issued as a part of the series, this LP draws strengths as much from the differences between the players involved as from the similarities. I don’t think I’ve let a review pass yet without noting my issue with the number in the name — that is, that “heavy” has had more than two comings at this point in its span of generations — but as The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Four clearly demonstrates, Ripple and the bands it’s selected to be a part of this increasingly pivotal project are less about looking back at history than casting a new place within it.

Red Mesa on Bandcamp

Red Mesa on Thee Facebooks

Blue Snaggletooth website

Blue Snaggletooth on Twitter

Blue Snaggletooth on Instagram

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Red Mesa & Blue Snaggletooth to Feature on The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Four Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Ripple Music‘s steady ascent continues with the next edition of the label’s dubiously-titled The Second Coming of Heavy series of limited split LPs. After broadening the reach to international terrain the last time out in bringing together Michigan’s BoneHawk with Sweden’s Kingnomad (review here), The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Four once again pairs two US bands — Red Mesa from New Mexico and Blue Snaggletooth from Michigan — in keeping with earlier chapters that highlighted the work of Geezer and Borracho (review here) and Supervoid and Red Desert (review here). As with the entire series, cover art is supplied by Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje, and the release date is set for Dec. 9.

Each band has a song streaming now that you can check out under the PR wire info below:

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-4-red-mesa-blue-snaggletooth

The return of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IV | New split album from Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IV is released on vinyl on 9th December 2016

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of the year’s most ambitious projects, The Second Coming Of Heavy Series.

Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multicoloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

Following on from the series’ first installment released in 2015 featuring Geezer and Borracho; Chapter II’s split between Supervoid and Red Desert earlier this year and last June’s BoneHawk and Kingnomad offering, the latest installment brings you brand new music from Albuquerque trio Red Mesa and Ann Arbor quartet Blue Snaggletooth.

RED MESA – Coming at you from yonder, down the mountain atop the deserted mesas of New Mexico, like their name suggests Red Mesa instill a sense of desert haze. Touting a varied psychedelic-stoner sound that begs for maximum volume with a high octane, pedal to the metal attitude, the Albuquerque trio – consisting of vocalist/guitarist Brad Frye, bassist Shawn Wright and drummer Duane Gasper – will take you on a vivid journey. Utilizing elements of doom, punk rock and psychedelic fuzz, Red Mesa are the living embodiment of hard riffing hallucinogens.

BLUE SNAGGLETOOTH – If anyone is proving that you can honor hard rock’s past while pumping fresh blood into its future, it’s Blue Snaggletooth. Billing themselves as purveyors of “Psychedelic D&D Rock & Roll,” the Ann Arbor, Michigan quartet combine elements of hard rock, heavy metal, and psychedelia (all pre-1975), and fuse those styles with lyrics inspired by classic sci-fi and fantasy. While the results are likely to please anyone into stoner rock, Blue Snaggletooth have no truck with irony or tongue-in-cheek glances at the past, and instead embrace their classic influences to build a sound that’s physically powerful but with plenty of sinewy groove.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter IV will get an official vinyl release on 9th December 2016 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

Track Listing:
1. ‘Cactus Highway’ by Red Mesa
2. ‘Low And Slow’ by Red Mesa
3. ‘Goin’ To The Desert’ by Red Mesa
4. ‘Utopia’ by Red Mesa
5. ‘Sand Witch’ by Blue Snaggletooth
6. ‘Crystal’s Gaze’ by Blue Snaggletooth
7. ‘Mystic Waters’ by Blue Snaggletooth

https://redmesarock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/redmesaband
http://www.bluesnaggletoothmusic.com/
https://twitter.com/BSnaggletooth
https://www.instagram.com/bluesnaggletoothmusic/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

BoneHawk & Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three: Carousers and Revelers

Posted in Reviews on August 1st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-three-bonehawk-kingnomad

It would seem that as Ripple Music‘s split series presses forward in number it’s doing likewise in sound. As well it should. The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three once again brings together two acts on a single LP, two bands in the earlier stages of their career but who each seem to be working toward making a stylistic mark.

Topped off as were the prior editions (and reportedly all those still to come) with artwork by Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje, this next installment in the ambitiously-titled run pairs Michigan heavy rockers BoneHawk and Swedish semi-cultist harmonizing newcomers Kingnomad, who represent the biggest geographic leap The Second Coming of Heavy has yet taken — they’re the first non-US band to be featured — and a coinciding stylistic shift, nestling as they do into a storytelling laid back fuzz never quite given to boogie rock, but definitely taking some cues from that scene as well as garage doom, finding a place between the two almost immediately and residing there comfortably until the jammy trip-out on closer “The Suicide King.” For them, this represents the first physical release they’ve had since getting together, and for BoneHawk, their four songs here provide a follow-up to their well-received 2014 debut LP, Albino Rhino, of which Ripple also did a pressing earlier this year.

The two bands share little in common tonally or conceptually apart from a basic affinity for riffs, but those who’ve followed The Second Coming of Heavy through its first two chapters with Geezer and Borracho (review here) and Supervoid and Red Desert (review here) should come into this matchup with fairly open expectations. Thus far, Ripple has done well in finding complementary but still distinct acts.

Prior to this, BoneHawk issued a Spring 2016  7″ honoring Thin Lizzy, and right at the start of their first track on side A, “The Scout,” that vibe comes through in the dual guitars Matt Helt (also vocals) and Chad Houts (also backing vocals), who are joined in the immediate bounce and shuffle by bassist Taylor Wallace and drummer/backing vocalist Jay Rylander, though their tones are of course thicker and more purposefully fuzzed, and they owe perhaps more of their raucous, party-style vibe to Red Fang. That’s an easy tag these days for upbeat heavy rock bands, and I think Red Fang‘s reach is still expanding, but it’s by no means the end of the story for BoneHawk, who cast their identity in the classic rock interplay of guitar and remind of the also-predatory-fowl-minded Virginian troupe Freedom Hawk on second cut “Fire in the Sky,” which slows the roll from the opener a bit in order to bask in a smooth nod that comes not at the expense of a hook, but rather to enhance it.

bonehawk kingnomad

In terms of tempo, they play this back and forth twice, and in doing so demonstrate a clear attention to presentation that I would imagine extends to their live show as well. Either way, “Los Vientos” — driven by Rylander‘s creative drumming — revives the forward momentum of the opener while stepping away a bit from the party vibe of the opener, the energy of which is maintained through pacing but not necessarily mood. “Aurora,” their six-minute finale, starts with an introductory bassline from Wallace and digs into a fluidity marked by toy piano flourish in its chorus and and a funky groove in the second half that gives way to double-guitar freakery deftly brought back to earth before the ending fade.

An aesthetic shift is quick to perceive as Kingnomad‘s “Lucifer is Dead” lurches to life with warm-toned fuzz, laid back roll and vocals one might be tempted to call shoegazing were they not so intricately harmonized. They craft a hook around the title-line, and the song, which the band — guitarist/vocalist Mr. Jay, bassist Maximilian, guitarist Marcus and drummer Mr. N — has stated was the first thing they wrote together, explores these textures somewhere between Dead Meadow and the eerie melodicism of Ghost, but brings something rawer to it as well in the shuffling second half of the track and on the trippier fuzz of “Sibylline Oracles” as well.

More developed in terms of the two guitars working together, “Sibylline Oracles” also brings in an organ and ends with acoustic strum, so the growing reach of the band becomes evident barely 10 minutes into their half of the split, which can only serve them well going forward. “God of Stone and Sand” revels in its spacious tonality and imbues a classic stoner riff with a sense of individualized personality thanks to more harmonies in the vocals, while “The Suicide King,” as noted, steps back to let a jammier, more psychedelic feel take hold. Like BoneHawk before them, Kingnomad have crafted an easy flow to their portion of the LP, and much to their credit as a new band, they don’t give into the cliche of having “The Suicide King” set up for a linear build, showing patience and a will to let their songs go where they want to go.

Easy to get why Ripple would include both bands as they seek to expand the definition of the “heavy” whose coming they’re heralding, and as The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three rounds out, one looks forward even more to the next collection for the increase in scope this one represents. This second coming — and I’ve quibbled about the numerology in each of these reviews so far, so you’ll pardon me if I skip it this time — is only growing more multifaceted, like heavy rock itself.

BoneHawk & Kingnomad, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three (2016)

BoneHawk on Thee Facebooks

BoneHawk on Bandcamp

Kingnomad on Thee Facebooks

Kingnomad on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three out June 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Ripple Music is keeping pace with its split series The Second Coming of Heavy. The second installment — or chapter, as it were — included cuts from Supervoid and Red Desert (review here), while the first paired Geezer and Borracho (review here). For the third, it’s Sweden’s Kingnomad and Michigan good-timers BoneHawk doing the honors, and the limited-run LP (300 copies) will be released June 24. I don’t know if Ripple‘s plan is one per year, two per year or “as often as we feel like,” but they’re working at a good clip to get through the series, which last I heard was going to have 10 installments, all of them already booked.

Info from the PR wire on The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Three follows, as well as tracks from Kingnomad (who I hadn’t heard before but sound awesome) and BoneHawk (less of a surprise, but still cool), which you can stream:

the second coming of heavy chapter iii kingnomad bonehawk

The return of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter III | New split album from BoneHawk and Kingnomad

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter III is released on vinyl on 24 June 2016

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of the year’s most ambitious projects, The Second Coming Of Heavy.

Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each instalment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multicoloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so, when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines forms a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

Following on from the series’ first instalment released last summer featuring Geezer and Borracho, and February’s Chapter II’s split between Supervoid and Red Desert, the latest chapter, released this June offers up new music from hard hitting Michigan quartet BoneHawk and Sweden’s Kingnomad.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter III will get an official vinyl release on 24th June 2016 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

https://bonehawk.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/bonehawkkzoo/
https://www.instagram.com/bonehawk_band/
https://www.facebook.com/kingnomadofficial/
https://kingnomad.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.instagram.com/kingnomadofficial/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

BoneHawk, “The Scout”

Kingnomad, “Lucifer is Dead”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Supervoid & Red Desert, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two: Wayfarers and Revolvers

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-2-supervoid-red-desert

Ripple Music believes we are in the midst of a heavy rock renaissance. We may well be. The West Coast imprint has both made its argument and fostered the movement over the last several years through a slew of signings of bands from around the US and beyond its borders, and they now stand among the genre’s most fortified purveyors, with a reach that finds them partnering with STB Records on vinyl/CD pressings and picking up Small Stone veteran acts like Gozu and Wo Fat, truly moving into a leadership position in their community, scene, whatever you want to call it. Their aesthetic, to-date, is light on frills and big on riffs, and like any impressive beginning (and I use the term loosely, Ripple have been at it for over five years now) of a creative motion, one expects it will only continue to grow outward for as long as it does.

A special project the label began in 2015 is a series of splits: The Second Coming of Heavy. I already quibbled with the numbering of the title, whether or not this is the second generation playing heavy rock (it’s at least the third), in my review of The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter One (review here), which featured off-album tracks from Geezer and Borracho, and it remains beside the point of the work Ripple is doing to promote the growth of the current, largely undeniable, boom of heavy rock. The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two boasts new songs from Pittsburgh’s Supervoid and Minneapolis’ Red Desert, continuing thematic artwork from Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje, and vinyl pressings limited in number and distinguished in color, as the times would demand.

Like its predecessor, the prevailing vibe throughout The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two fits neatly onto two 12″ vinyl sides, one per band, with each act offering basically a short EP’s sampling of their stylistic wares and what they bring to the underlying core in the title — the ‘Heavy’ part of the title, that is — that distinguishes them from their peers. In the case of Supervoid — who make their debut as a four-piece here having previously recorded with five members for their 2013 first LP, Filaments (review here), and the subsequent 2014 digital single “Against Sunrise” (posted here) — they present the songs “Olympus,” “Wayfarer” and “The Gallows,” which continue their ahead-thrust blend of modern metal and heavy rock and roll, vocalist Brian creatively arranging an assortment of layered growls and screams behind his belted-out cleaner vocals, which seem to steer the riffs behind from guitarist Joe as much as they’re pushed forward by them.

With John on bass and Greg on drums, their material is consistent but progressed from where they were on their debut (due for a follow-up it may or may not get; more on that in a bit) and the momentum they build in “Olympus” feeds smoothly into the more extended “Wayfarer,” the minor-key Eastern-flair guitar line making it all the more a centerpiece before the crunchier “The Gallows” picks up with open verses, a semi-spaced weaving of guitar effects, and the inescapable drive that has become Supervoid‘s hallmark. Reportedly, since the release of The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter TwoSupervoid have taken “a break,” and how permanent that may or may not be remains to be seen. Either way, the manner in which they bring together metal and heavy rock remains brazen in its show of influence and ground that few acts are so bold as to tread, which is admirable even before one gets to considering their songwriting or performances, likewise worthy of respect.

Supervoid‘s side B companions, Red Desert, offer post-Sleep/The Sword heavy rock chug on “Frost Giant,” the first of their four inclusions, calling out the title character and Valhalla in a resonant hook. Hitting their marks. Their material stands out particularly next to Supervoid for the laid back sensibility in its roll and in the vocals of guitarist Shawn Stende, joined by lead guitarist Jeff Kluegel, bassist Paul Teeter and drummer Dave Dancho, and though “Hypnotized” is faster, it maintains the swing of their opener, as do “Revolver” and “Nightstalker” (presumably not named after the Greek band, but one never knows), while also offering subtle, effective shifts in mood and shifts in approach that speak to the experience gained from their 2012 debut album, Damned by Fate, and call to mind what Lords of the North were once able to bring to stoner riffing in personality and thickness of groove. The harmonies in the chorus of “Nightstalker” and touches of C.O.C. gallop there expand the palette further but ultimately keep consistent with what’s come before, rounding out a fluid B-side with a late surge of energy that suits Red Desert well.

They’re four years out from their first album, and while they’ve threatened a vinyl release thereof, I’ve yet to see word of a follow-up. Doesn’t mean one’s in the works, doesn’t mean one’s not, but in true EP fashion, they give a broad slice of their sound for those who maybe haven’t encountered them before to dig into, which of course speaks to the mission of The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two overall. My understanding is that all 10 installments of the series are booked and there’s another series in the works for after, so it seems fair to expect over the next several years that these LPs will continue to be a major part of Ripple‘s contribution to heavy rock. Fair enough. Two editions deep, they’ve already highlighted a range of styles and a swath of acts from around different regions of the US brought together by their varied takes on what it means to be heavy. There’s a lot of ground to cover, and the project remains ambitious, but taking it one LP at a time, there seems to be nothing keeping the label from continuing this exploration and enlightening listeners as they go. Looking forward to the next one.

Supervoid & Red Desert, The Second Coming of Heavy — Chapter Two (2016)

Supervoid on Thee Facebooks

Red Desert on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Geezer & Borracho, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter One: Whistlers and Prophets

Posted in Reviews on December 15th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

borracho geezer second coming of heavy chapter one

One might quibble with the title. I’m not sure the current crop of bands having made the rounds for the last half-decade or thereabouts constitute The Second Coming of Heavy, as the name of Ripple Music‘s recently undertaken series of limited vinyl splits scouring the underground would posit. If you consider ’70s heavy rock of the psychedelic and post-psychedelic era, and the ’90s boom in stoner, desert, doom and other forms of heavy, I’d say we’re at least in the third coming, if not the third-point-five behind the underappreciated pre-social media acts of the ’00s, though I’ll readily admit that sounds less Biblical, would suck for marketing, and is a nerd’s gripe. Second it is.

Released in July, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter One pairs New York heavy psych blues rockers Geezer and Washington D.C. riff rollers Borracho on either side of a limited-to-300-copies-and-gone 12″ with cover art from Ghosttown Graphic Art — future installments will reportedly link together to form a 10-part masterwork by Ghosttown‘s Joseph Rudell and Carrie Olaje — that, in addition to representing the beginning of a considerable project on the part of Ripple gives a handy update of where both Geezer and Borracho are at coming off of successful prior outings. The NY and D.C. trios offer up four and three tracks, respectively, that find each band delving further into its particular take on the titular heavy, whether that’s Geezer‘s Pat Harrington breaking out his slide on the swaying jam “Meth Neck” or Borracho refining their workingman’s fuzz on “Shark Tank.”

In addition to falling mostly under the same stylistic umbrella — at least as far as generic descriptive phrases like “heavy bands” go — most of what Geezer and Borracho have in common is position. Geezer‘s second full-length, 2014’s Gage (review here), pushed them well beyond their Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues debut, despite arriving just a year later, and likewise, Borracho‘s impressive 2013 outing, Oculus (review here), was their second and marked even more of a shift for the band as they moved from a four-piece to their current incarnation as a trio.

Both groups have put out teasers since — Geezer‘s Live! Full Tilt Boogie tape (review here) in 2014 and “Long Dull Knife” single in 2015; Borracho‘s splits with Cortez (review here) in 2014 and Eggnogg (review here) in 2015 — but The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter One marks the most substantial studio offering from them since their last LPs, and accordingly, both show marked progression from where they were last time out. Geezer take oldschool command of their side immediately with “Tonight,” a written-for-the-stage salvo that not only ambitiously calls out dancing ladies but teases further, “You never know who you’re gonna meet at a rock show.” True enough. Harrington as a vocalist makes a signature of his whiskey-throated blueser scratch, but “Tonight” isn’t without an underlying melody, even though it’s when he, bassist Freddy Villano (since replaced by Richie Touseull) and drummer Chris Turco lock in a quick jam in the bridge, hypnotic despite being a brief trip outward before returning to the next chorus to finish on the line, “We’re gonna have a good time tonight.”

geezer
borracho

It’s a sentiment that the languid churn of eight-minute side A closer “So Tired” soon enough echoes: “Hey now, won’t you come home with me?/We’ll have a get-down, yeah/We’ll have a good time.” If a “good time” is what Geezer are chasing, their portion of the split makes a solid case for their having found it. “The Whistler” rumbles and slides and grooves with a smoothness that does nothing to undercut its raw edge, and the aforementioned “Meth Neck” puts them right in what has become their element as Harrington (successfully) pushes his limits vocally and they finish laughing en route to the spaceout-worthy “So Tired,” which sets a high standard for tone for Borracho‘s three side B inclusions, “Fight the Prophets,” “Superego” and the already noted “Shark Tank.” Fortunately, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Steve Fisher, bassist Tim Martin and drummer Mario Trubiano are well up to that task.

The first thing you hear on “Fight the Prophets?” Cowbell. It should be taken as a sign of how little interest Borracho ultimately have in not getting right to the point. At seven, seven and six minutes, their songs are by and large longer than Geezer‘s (“So Tired” notwithstanding), but while repetition remains a focus in Borracho‘s sound, it’s not as if their tracks are spending all that time going nowhere. They don’t have the same interest in psychedelic flavoring, but between the bounce in the memorable chorus of “Fight the Prophets” to the ethereal leads overlaid on the beginning of “Shark Tank,” there’s a firm sense of atmosphere, even if their approach overall is grounded in heavy rock traditionalism.

Its hook makes “Fight the Prophets” a standout of the three Borracho inclusions, but the insistent rhythm, Martin‘s push of bass on “Superego” is not to be overlooked. As Trubiano tosses off fills to mark out the transitions in nod and Fisher covers new ground vocally in moving slightly from bottom-of-the-mouth Hetfieldery to a bolder and more individualized shout, the low end holds together a midsection of layered soloing and shoulders the heft that follows fluidly so that as they get back to the central boogie to round out, the moves preceding not only make sense but are natural and skillfully turned. Borracho have been and may always be heavy rock for heavy rockers, but they’ve continued to grow as songwriters and expand their palette, and “Shark Tank” offers final proof of that, its extended, damn-near-prog intro giving way to a punkish riotousness that sees Fisher summing up the attitude of the song as a whole when he says, “I had enough of this shit, so I’m movin’ on” in a snarl of due defiance as the last line.

That transition from the intro to the verse/chorus is key, since it’s in bringing two generally-opposing styles together that “Shark Tank”‘s ultimate success lies, and the fact that they do it without blinking lets the listener understand how far Borracho have really come in the last couple years. More even than a basic underlying tonal weight, it’s that sense of progress that positions Geezer and Borracho so well as complements on The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter One, and wherever Ripple‘s series winds up taking them sound-wise, if it keeps its eyes and ears geared toward not just celebrating heavy rock, but celebrating those acts committed to moving the style forward and bringing something new to it — Chapter Two has been announced with Supervoid and Red Desert taking part — then it can’t be anything but a success in the end. Its first installment certainly is, however one might be inclined to argue numbers.

Geezer and Borracho, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter One (2015)

Geezer on Thee Facebooks

Geezer on Bandcamp

Borracho on Thee Facebooks

Borracho on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music BigCartel store

Tags: , , , , , , , ,