Pyramido to Release Fem Sept. 27; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Pyramido

Spotify doesn’t seem to remember I have an account, but even in the 28-second sample of the new single from Malmö, Sweden’s Pyramido there’s a satisfying bit of screamy post-sludge to entice one further as regard their upcoming fifth long-player, Fem (Swedish for ‘five’), which will see release on Sept. 27 in a new alliance with The Sign Records. Given the band’s history, I wouldn’t necessarily expect the entirety of “Utvägen” to speak for the whole of Fem, let alone less than a minute thereof. So as to the rest, we’ll just have to wait until Fall to find out. I have the feeling it’s going to be a crowded release season — already Pyramido share a date with the new Mars Red Sky, and I don’t at all think they’ll be the only two — so they’re smart to get the word out early in order to carve out their place ahead of the pack.

If you want to hear “Utvägen,” it’s below — I’m sure you’re account works just fine; I’m just old; you should’ve seen me trying to download an ebook the other night; so sad — so dig in, and here are the album details from the PR wire:

Pyramido fem

PYRAMIDO to release new album ’Fem‘ in Autumn 2019

Release first single “Utvägen”.

Pyramido is set to release their new album ”Fem” on The Sign Records. Today marks the release of the first single “Utvägen”. The new material breathes and evolves naturally, not being afraid of trying out new tempos, melodies or ideas sometimes foreign to the genre. Drawing inspiration from the delicate melodic figures of dreamy 90‘s indie rock, the folky fuzz of vintage Swedish psychedelia and the bittersweet harmonies of Henrik Berggren and Broder Daniel.

Then imagine these influences being suffocated by the impact of the heaviness and aggression that is Pyramido, leaving only about a few percent of them passably breathing. The result being a somewhat heavy-hearted and melodic sludge metal/hardcore attack, once perfectly described as ”…a warm hug rather than a punch in the face”. The new album ”Fem” is set for release by The Sign Records the 27th of September.

The new album, entitled simply ”Fem”, which is Swedish for the number five, was recorded and mixed during the fall of 2018, with engineer John Rönnerblad. The band have previously released four full-length records, a number of EP‘s and played every dark and damp squat of Europe you might imagine existing.

The album will be released on Vinyl, CD and Digital.

Tracklist:
Born to run
Living Dead
Resort
Ensign Källbacks’s legends
Realization
Five

Pyramido is:
Ronnie Källback
Henrik Wendel
Dan Hedlund
Dan Widing
Sticky Manchester

https://www.facebook.com/Pyramidodoom/
https://pyramido.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thesignrecords/
http://www.thesignrecords.com

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Children of the Sün Premiere “Her Game” from Debut Album Flowers

Posted in audiObelisk on June 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

children of the sun

As noted here just last week, Swedish hippie collective Children of the Sün will release their debut album, Flowers, on July 26 through The Sign Records. The light-drenched heat of summer would seem to be a fitting arrival time for the record, which finds the band purposefully basking in hippie vibes and upbeat spirit, bringing together harmonies that recall Church of the Cosmic Skull without the cultish undertones and with a thread of classic heavy rock that might be attributed to an influence from fellow Swedes MaidaVale, as well of course as classic sources from the late-’60s sunshine era, summer of love, autumn of love, winter of love, spring of love. Lots of love to go around.

They join a variety of retro-minded compatriots on the roster of The Sign, but Children of the Sün have a decidedly modern feel in terms of production, and that only serves to highlight the arrangements of vocals and shimmering guitar on lead single “Her Game.” It’s an immediate surge of energy forward at the outset of the 4:33 track, with space given to the setup for the central groove before the hook is unveiled and the eight-piece get fully underway, with guitar, keys, multiple vocalists, drums and bass filling out a vibrant mix. Just before about two and a half minutes in, there’s a lower note on guitar that steps through some pauses, but the solo that leads to retains the bright feel of the rest of the track, so there’s no departing from the basic spirit of the track, which despite the lyric’s warning, “Don’t play her game,” is lush and optimistic.

Summer’s not as long a way off as it feels — July is, technically speaking, next month — but I’ve only heard two songs thus far from Flowers. The other is “Emmy,” a bluesier, lower-key number with organ running alongside the soulful vocals, different in mood but not incongruous from “Her Game.” As to what the rest of the long-player might hold, I can’t say for sure and won’t speculate on specifics, but with the showcase provided by “Her Game,” I’m certainly left interested to find out, which is the whole point of a lead single in the first place. So, well done.

Stream “Her Game” via the player below, followed by more from the PR wire about the album.

Enjoy:

Flowers set for release the 27th of July on The Sign Records. Mixing blues rock with a warm feel good folk/country vibe, their sound is retro yet fresh. The band debut album holds strong influences from Janis Joplin, Free and Joe Cocker, still the band can be placed somewhere in the same atmosphere as The Allman Brothers Band, Jefferson Airplane and Canned Heat. A reincarnation of the 60´s feeling of nature, soul and rock music can be found in Children of the Sün’s debut album.

Flowers holds seven songs playing for 34 minutes. Album cover is done by Maarten Dodders that previously provided artwork for bands as MaidaVale, Graveyard, Blues Pills and Chelsea Wolfe. Children of the Sün hailing from the deep woods of Värmland, Sweden brings both nature and freedom to their album. The recording was done in ES Music in Karlstad, Sweden. Children of the Sün won the Swedish national music competition Livekarusellen in 2018. In 2019 the band was added to The Sign Records rooster, the label have among other released bands as Hällas, MaidaVale, Heavy Feather and Svartanatt.

Live Dates:
27th of July, Olssons Brygga, Arvika, Sweden
31st of August, Festival of the Midnight Sun, Mantorp, Sweden

Band members:
Josefina Ekholm Berglund
Ottilia Ekholm Berglund
Wilma Ås
Jacob Hellenrud
Ida Wahl
Anna Nilsson
Christoffer Eriksson
Sara Berkesi

Children of the Sün on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

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Children of the Sün to Release Debut Album Flowers July 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Consider this an early heads up as next week — at least I think that’s next week; gotta check my notes — I’ll be streaming the debut single from Swedish hippie folk rockers Children of the Sün‘s first album, Flowers. The band released a self-titled EP last year that you can hear through Spotify on the player below, and they’ll have Flowers out on July 26 through The Sign Records, which is a haven for all things Sverige and retro as Children of the Sün are most certainly both, channeling peace-loving vibes of half a century ago into lush folk harmonies and an underlying sense of rock that doesn’t seek to undercut the friendliness, but add to it. The track I’ll premiere is called “Her Game,” so keep an eye out.

Here is the album announcement, so we’re all properly schooled in advance:

children of the sun

Children of the Sün join The Sign Records

Debut album ’Flowers‘ out July 26, 2019

Children of the Sün joins The Sign Records. The band will release their debut album “Flowers” the 26th of July 2019.

“Her Game” is the first single from the upcoming album and will be out the 6th of June. The Swedish band is influenced by the American music scene during the 60´s and 70´s. They hold a timeless sound that is not often heard of today. There is a lot of focus on vocal harmonies in the bands music, something that brings a feel good mood to the music.

Flowers features seven songs clocking in at 34 minutes. Album cover is done by Maarten Donders who previously provided artwork for bands such as MaidaVale, Graveyard, Blues Pills and Chelsea Wolfe.

Children of the Sün hail from the deep woods of Värmland, Sweden bringing both nature and freedom to their album. The recording was done in ES Music in Karlstad, Sweden.

Children of the Sün won the Swedish national music competition Livekarusellen in 2018. Children of the Sün fits perfectly on The Sign Records roster, the label has among others released similar bands as Hällas, MaidaVale, Heavy Feather and Svartanatt.

Live Dates:
27th of July, Olssons Brygga, Arvika, Sweden
31st of August, Festival of the Midnight Sun, Mantorp, Sweden

Children of the Sün Biography:
In 1969 Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker, Janis Joplin and many others played the legendary Woodstock Festival. No one since has managed to reincarnate the feeling of nature, soul and rock music, that was on that magical field north of New York, since. Until now.

Children of the Sün look like hippies, sound like hippies and they bring a wooden sun on stage. The sunshine comes by itself.

This year the band won the national finals of the Swedish music competition ‘Livekarusellen’. During the summer they played at events such as ‘Putte i parken’, Arvika hamnfest’ and ‘Karl Oskarsdagarna’.

In the beginning of the summer they also released their debute in form of a self titled EP. Now the band is back at it again, working on their first full length album.

Band members:
Josefina Ekholm Berglund
Ottilia Ekholm Berglund
Wilma Ås
Jacob Hellenrud
Ida Wahl
Anna Nilsson
Christoffer Eriksson
Sara Berkesi

https://www.facebook.com/Childrenofthesuun/
https://www.facebook.com/thesignrecords/

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Quarterly Review: Electric Octopus, Crypt Trip, Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Heavy Feather, Faith in Jane, The Mound Builders, Terras Paralelas, The Black Heart Death Cult, Roadog & Orbiter, Hhoogg

Posted in Reviews on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day four of the six-dayer. Head’s a little reeling, but I’m not sure any more so than, say, last week at this time. I’d be more specific about that, but oddly enough, I don’t hook my brain up to medical scanners while doing reviews. Seems like an oversight on my part, now that I think about it. Ten years later and still learning something new! How about that internet, huh?

Since I don’t think I’ve said it in a couple days, I’ll remind you that the hope here is you find something you dig. There’s a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so that should at least make skimming through it fun if you go that route. Either way, thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Electric Octopus, Smile

Electric Octopus Smile

It’s been about two months since Electric Octopus posted Smile, so they’re about due for their next release. So, quick! Before this 82-minute collection of insta-chill jams is out of date, there’s still time to consider it their latest offering. Working as the four-piece of Tyrell Black and Dale Hughes — both of whom share bass and guitar duties — drummer Guy Hetherington and synthesist Stevie Lennox, the Belfast improv jammers rightfully commence with the 25-minute longest track (immediate points) “Abberation” (sic), which evolves and devolves along its course and winds up turning from a percussive jam to a guitar-led build up that still stays gloriously mellow even as it works its way out. You can almost hear the band moving from instrument to instrument, and that’s the point. The much shorter “Spiral,” “Dinner at Sea, for One” and closer “Mouseangelo” bring in a welcome bit of funk, “Moth Dust” explores minimalist reaches of guitar and ambient drumming, and “Hyperloop” digs into fuzz-soaked swirl before cleaning up its act in the last couple minutes. These cats j-a-m. May they do so into perpetuity.

Electric Octopus on Thee Facebooks

Electric Octopus on Bandcamp

 

Crypt Trip, Haze County

crypt trip haze county

Onto the best-albums-of-2019 list go San Marcos, Texas, trio Crypt Trip, who, sonically speaking, are way more Beto O’Rourke than Ted Cruz. The three-piece have way-way-upped the production value and general breadth from their 2018 Heavy Psych Sounds debut, Rootstock, and the clarity of purpose more than suits them as they touch on ’70s country jams and hard boogie and find a new melodic vocal confidence that speaks to guitarist Ryan Lee as a burgeoning frontman as well as the shredder panning channels in “To Be Whole.” Fortunately, he’s backed by bassist Sam Bryant and drummer Cameron Martin in the endeavor, and as ever, it’s the rhythm section that gives the “power trio” its power. Centerpiece “Free Rain” is a highlight, but so is the pedal steel of intro “Forward” and the later “Pastures” that precedes six-minute closer “Gotta Get Away,” which makes its transport by means of a hypnotic drum solo from Martin. Mark it a win and go to the show. That’s all you can do. Haze County is a blueprint for America’s answer to Europe’s classic heavy rock movement.

Crypt Trip on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Split Double EP

smokey mirror love gang split double ep

A bit of Tull as Love Gang‘s flute-inclusive opener “Can’t Seem to Win” skirts the line of the proggier end of ’70s worship. The Denver outfit and Dallas’ Smokey Mirror both present three tracks on Glory or Death RecordsSplit Double EP, and Love Gang back the leadoff with “Break Free” and “Lonely Man,” reveling in wall-o’-fuzz chicanery and organ-laced push between them, making their already unpredictable style less predictable, while Smokey Mirror kick off side B in particularly righteous fashion via the nine-minute “Sword and Scepter,” which steps forth to take ultra-Sabbathian ownership of the release even as the filthy tone of “Sucio y Desprolijo” and the loose-swinging Amplified Heat-style megashuffle of “A Thousand Days in the Desert” follow. Two bands in the process of finding their sound coming together to serve notice of ass-kickery present and future. If you can complain about that, you’re wrong.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Smokey Mirror on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records BigCartel store

 

Heavy Feather, Débris & Rubble

Heavy Feather Debris & Rubble

Very much a solid first album, Heavy Feather‘s 11-song Débris & Rubble lands at a run via The Sign Records and finds the Stockholm-based classic heavy blues rockers comporting with modern Euro retroism in grand fashion. At 41 minutes, it’s a little long for a classic-style LP if one measures by the eight-track/38-minute standard, but the four-piece fill that time with a varied take that basks in sing-along-ready hooks like those of post-intro opener “Where Did We Go,” the Rolling Stones-style strutter “Waited All My Life,” and the later “I Spend My Money Wrong,” which features not the first interplay of harmonica and lead guitar amid its insistent groove. Elsewhere, more mellow cuts like “Dreams,” or the slide-infused “Tell Me Your Tale” and the closing duo of the Zeppelinian “Please Don’t Leave” and the melancholy finisher “Whispering Things” assure Débris & Rubble never stays in one place too long, though one could say the same of the softshoe-ready boogie in “Hey There Mama” as well. On the one hand, they’re figuring it out. On the other, they’re figuring it out.

Heavy Feather on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

Faith in Jane, Countryside

Faith in Jane Countryside

Five full-lengths deep into a tenure spanning a decade thus far, Faith in Jane have officially entered the running to be one of the best kept secrets of Maryland heavy. Their late-2018 live-recorded studio offering, Countryside, clocks in at just under an hour of organic tonality and performance, bringing a sharp presentation to the chemistry that’s taken hold among the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dan Mize, bassist Brendan Winston and drummer Alex Llewellyn, with Mize taking extended solos on the Wino model throughout early cuts “All is All” and “Mountain Lore” while the trio adds Appalachian grunge push to the Chesapeake’s flowing groove while building “Blues for Owsley” from acoustic strum to scorching cacophonous wash and rolling out the 9:48 “Hippy Nihilism” like the masters of the form they’re becoming. It’s not a minor undertaking in terms of runtime, but for those in on what these cats have been up to all the while, hard to imagine Countryside is seen as anything other than hospitable.

Faith in Jane on Thee Facebooks

Faith in Jane on Bandcamp

 

The Mound Builders, The Mound Builders

The Mound Builders The Mound Builders

Lafayette, Indiana’s The Mound Builders last year offered a redux of their 2014 album, Wabash War Machine (review here), but that was their last proper full-length. Their self-titled arrives as eight bruiser slabs of weighted sludge/groove metal, launching with its longest track (immediate points) in the 7:30 “Torchbearer,” before shifting into the outright screams-forward pummel of “Hair of the Dogma” and the likewise dry-throated “Separated from Youth.” By the time they get to the hardcore-punk-via-sludge of “Acid Slugs,” it’s not a little heavy. It’s a lot heavy. And it stays that way through the thrashing “Star City Massacre” and “Regolith,” hitting the brakes on “Broken Pillars” only to slam headfirst into closer “Vanished Frontier.” Five years later and they’re still way pissed off. So be it. The four-formerly-five-piece were never really all that gone, but they still seem to have packed an extended absence’s worth of aggro into their self-titled LP.

The Mound Builders on Thee Facebooks

Failure Records and Tapes

 

Terras Paralelas, Entre Dois Mundos

TERRAS PARALELAS ENTRE DOIS MUNDOS

It’s a fluid balance between heavy rock and progressive metal Terras Paralelas make in the six inclusions on their debut full-length, Entre Dois Mundos. The Brazilian instrumentalist trio keep a foundation of metallic kickdrumming beneath “Do Abismo ao Triunfo,” and even the chugging in “Espirais e Labirintos” calls to mind some background in harder-hitting fare, but it’s set against a will toward semi-psychedelic exploration, making the giving the album a sense of refusing to play exclusively to one impulse. This proves a strength in the lengthier pieces that follow “Infinito Cósmico” and “Do Abismo ao Triunfo” at the outset, and as Terras Paralelas move from the mellower “Bom Presságio” and “Espirais e Labirintos” into the more spaciously post-rocking “Nossa Jornada Interior” and the nine-minute-plus prog-out title-track that closes by summarizing as much as pushing further outward, one is left wondering why such distinctions might matter in the first place. Kudos to the band for making them not.

Terras Paralelas on Thee Facebooks

Terras Paralelas on Bandcamp

 

The Black Heart Death Cult, The Black Heart Death Cult

the black heart death cult the black heart death cult

Though one wouldn’t accuse The Black Heart Death Cult of being the first cumbersomely-named psych-rocking band in the current wave originating in Melbourne, Australia, their self-titled debut is nonetheless a gorgeous shimmer of classic psychedelia, given tonal presence through guitar and bass, but conjuring an ethereal sensibility through the keys and far-back vocals like “She’s a Believer,” tapping alt-reality 1967 vibes there while fostering what I hear is called neo-psych but is really just kinda psych throughout the nodding meander of “Black Rainbow,” giving even the more weighted fuzz of “Aloha From Hell” and the distortion flood of “Davidian Dream Beam” a happier context. They cap with the marshmallowtron hallucinations of “We Love You” and thereby depart even the ground stepped on earlier in the sitar-laced “The Magic Lamp,” finding and losing and losing themselves in the drifting ether probably not to return until, you know, the next record. When it shows up, it will be greeted as a liberator.

The Black Heart Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records webstore

 

Orbiter & Roadog, Split

orbiter roadog split

I’m pretty sure the Sami who plays drums in Orbiter is the same dude playing bass in Roadog, but I could easily be wrong about that. Either way, the two Finnish cohort units make a fitting complement to each other on their two-songer 7″ single, which presents Orbiter‘s six-minute “Anthropocene” with the hard-driving title-track of Roadog‘s 2018 full-length, Reinventing the Wheels. The two tracks have a certain amount in common, mostly in the use of fuzz and some underlying desert influence, but it’s what they do with that that makes all the difference between them. Orbiter‘s track is spacier and echoing, where “Reinventing the Wheels” lands more straightforward in its three minutes, its motoring riff filled out by some effects but essentially manifest in dead-ahead push and lyrics about a motorcycle. They don’t reinvent the wheel, as it happens, and neither do Orbiter, but neither seems to want to do so either, and both bands are very clearly having a blast, so I’m not inclined to argue. Good fun and not a second of pretense on either side.


Orbiter on Thee Facebooks

Roadog on Thee Facebooks

 

Hhoogg, Earthling, Go Home!

hhoogg Earthling Go Home

Space is the place where you’ll find Boston improvisationalists Hhoogg, who extend their fun penchant for adding double letters to the leadoff “Ccoossmmooss” of their exclamatory second self-released full-length, Earthling, Go Home!, which brings forth seven tracks in a vinyl-ready 37 minutes and uses that opener also as its longest track (immediate points) to set a molten tone to the proceedings while subsequent vibes in “Rustic Alien Living” and the later, bass-heavy “Recalled to the Pyramids” range from the Hendrixian to the funkadelicness he helped inspire. With a centerpiece in “Star Wizard, Headless and Awake,” a relatively straightforward three-minute noodler, the four-piece choose to cap with “Infinitely Gone,” which feels as much like a statement of purpose and an aesthetic designation as a descriptor for what’s contained within. In truth, it’s a little under six minutes gone, but jams like these tend to beg for repeat listens anyway. There’s some growing to do, but the melding of their essential chemistry is in progress, and that’s what matters most. The rest is exploration, and they sound well up for it.

Hhoogg on Thee Facebooks

Hhoogg on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: 11PARANOIAS, Robot Lords of Tokyo, The Riven, High Reeper, Brujas del Sol, Dead Witches, Automaton, Llord, Sweet Jonny, Warp

Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day three. Cruisin’. Oh, another 10 reviews to write? Yeah, no problem. I’m on it.

Okay, maybe a little less that and a little more be banging my head against the wall of sound, but the point is we — you and I — move forward anyhow. The Quarterly Review continues today with the third batch, which at the end will bring us to the halfway point, 30 of the total 60 records done, and that always feels like an occasion. Also helps that it’s a pretty good batch of stuff, so let’s not waste time with formalities, right?

Quarterly Review #21-30:

11PARANOIAS, Asterismal

11paranoias asterismal

It’s a freakout, but not the good kind. More like a panic attack happening in slow motion on another dimensional plane. The masters of murk, 11PARANOIAS return through their own Ritual Productions imprint with Asterismal, collecting/conjuring upwards of nine tracks and 73 minutes of material depending on in which format one encounters it. The core of the outing is the six-song/45-minute vinyl edition, and that’s plenty fucked enough, to be honest, as bassist/vocalist Adam Richardson (Ramesses), guitarist Mike Vest (Bong) and drummer Nathan Perrier (ex-Capricorns) unfurl a grim psychedelic fog across songs like opener “Loss Portal” and tap into The Heads-style swirl on “Bloodless Crush” only to turn it malevolent in the process. The 12-minute “Quantitative Immortalities” finds Vest in the forward position as it summarizes the stretch of doom, psych, and bizarre atmosphere that’s utterly 11PARANOIAS‘ own, and that’s before you get into the experimental and sometimes caustic work on the CD/digital-only “Acoustic Mirror” (10:35) and “Acoustic Mirror II” (15:08), which both rise from minimalist bass to become a willful test of endurance only a select few will pass. All the better.

11PARANOIAS on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Rise Robot Rise

Robot Lords of Tokyo Rise Robot Rise

Was there ever any doubt Robot Lords of Tokyo could do it on their own? Not if you ever listened to Robot Lords of Tokyo, there wasn’t. The Columbus, Ohio-based outfit built a reputation in the earlier part of the decade by bringing guests onto their records, but their new EP and first outing in half a decade, Rise Robot Rise, features five songs of just the band itself, with founders Rick Ritzler (drums) and Paul Jones (vocals) joined by bassist Joe Viers and guitarists Steve Theado and Beau VanBibber. Their last outing was the 2013 full-length Virtue and Vice (review here), but they seem in “In the Shadows” and “Looking for the Sun” to come into their own with Jones bringing a John Bush-type edge to the hook of “Looking for the Sun” and echoing out a bit on centerpiece “Hell Camino,” which boasts not the band’s first nod to Clutch. With opener “In the Shadows” setting the tone for an undercurrent of metal, “My Aching Eyes” and “Terminus” pay that off without losing their rock edge and thereby highlight just how much force has always been in the core lineup to start with.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo at CDBaby

 

The Riven, The Riven

The Riven The Riven

Issued by The Sign Records, the self-titled debut from Sweden’s The Riven (also discussed here) hones in on classic heavy rock but never actually quite tips all the way into vintage-ism. It sounds like a minor distinction until you put the record on and hear the acoustic guitar lines deep in the mix of “Far Beyond” or the echoing vocal layers in the second half of the later “Fortune Teller” and realize that The Riven are outright refusing to sacrifice audio fidelity for aesthetic. There’s no shortage of shuffle to be had, rest assured, but The Riven are less concerned with aping traditionalism than updating it, and while they’re not the first to do so, the fact that on their first record they’re already working to put their stamp on the established genre parameters bodes well, as does the bluesy float of “I Remember” and the mellow vibing early in “Finnish Woods.”

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, Higher Reeper

high reeper higher reeper

Philadelphia exports High Reeper offer their second full-length through Heavy Psych Sounds in Higher Reeper, upping the stakes from their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) in more than just title. In the intervening two years, the five-piece have toured extensively, and it shows in the pacing and general craft of the eight songs/38 minutes here, from the perfectly-timed nod at the end of “Buried Alive” to the face-slap proto-trash riff that starts the subsequent “Bring the Dead,” from the mountaintop echoes of “Obsidian Peaks” (note the “Hole in the Sky” riff rearing its head) to the howling roll through “Plague Hag” and into six-minute closer “Barbarian,” as High Reeper hone elements of doom to go with their biker rock sleaze. Stellar guitar is a running theme beginning with opener “Eternal Leviathan,” and Higher Reeper quickly proves that if you thought the debut had potential, you were right.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brujas del Sol, II

brujas del sol ii

if the 6:40 album opener “Teenage Hitchhiker” from Brujas del Sol‘s Kozmik Artifactz-delivered II makes anything plain, it’s that the songs that follow on the seven-track/43-minute outing are going to pay attention to texture. Still about half-instrumental, the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece veer from that modus with “Sisterlace,” the New Wave-y “Fringe of Senility,” the delightfully dream-toned “White Lights,” and the final Floydian section of closer “Spiritus,” adding vocals for the first time and leaving one wondering what took them so long. Nonetheless, the winding lines and later subtly furious drums of “Sea Rage” and the scorching leads of the penultimate “Polara” bring the proggy mindset of the band that much more forward, and if II is transitional, well, it was going to be anyway, because a band like this never stops growing or challenging themselves. They certainly do here, and the results are an accomplishment more than worth continuing to build upon.

Brujas del Sol on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Dead Witches, The Final Exorcism

dead witches the final exorcism

The centerpiece of Dead Witches‘ sophomore album, The Final Exorcism, is a play on ’60s psych-garage-folk that asks “When Do the Dead See the Sun?,” and the rest of the LP that surrounds provides the answer: The sun isn’t showing up anytime soon, for the dead or otherwise. After issuing their first full-length, Ouija (discussed here), in 2017, the multinational horror-cinema doomers brought aboard vocalist Soozi Chameleone alongside drummer Mark Greening (Ramesses, ex-Electric Wizard), bassist Carl Geary and guitarist Oliver Irongiant, and one might be tempted to think of The Final Exorcism as a kind of second debut were it not for the fact that it’s so cohesive in its approach. With Greening‘s swinging march at the foundation, cuts like the title-track and “The Church by the Sea” stomp out thick-toned and grainy organic creep, plundering through the cacophonous “Lay Demon” en route to the abyssal plod of “Fear the Priest” at the end, fearsome in purpose and realization and hopefully not at all “final.” Like any good horror franchise, there’s always room for another sequel.

Dead Witches on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Automaton, TALOS

automaton talos

It was hard to know where Automaton were headed after they remixed their debut EP, Echoes of Mount Ida (review here), and released it in LP format with two additional tracks. The original version was raw and weighted, the remix spacious and psychedelic. With TALOS, their first proper long-player (on Sound Effect Records), they answer the question with seven songs/48 minutes of expansive and richly atmospheric post-metal, seeming to take from all sides and shift their focus between crushing with dense tones on 11-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Trapped in Darkness,” as well as the frantically drummed “Automaton Marching,” “The Punisher” or the end stage of “Talos Awakens” and honing more of a varied and atmospheric approach throughout the sample-laced “Giant of Steel,” the drifting “Submerged Again” and the minimalist acoustic-led closer “Epilogue,” all the while donning both an overarching concept and a new level of production value to bolster their presentation. It is a significant step forward on multiple fronts.

Automaton website

Sound Effect Records website

 

Llord, Cumbria

llord cumbria

Raging and experimental, the rumble-laden Barcelona duo Llord make their full-length debut on Féretro Records with Cumbria, which culls together five punishing-but-still-atmospheric tracks of plod and drive as bassist Aris and drummer David share vocal duties and bludgeoning responsibilities alike. Ill-intentioned from the get-go with the two-minute “Adtrita Sententia,” Cumbria unfurls its 29-minute run like a descent into low-end madness, varying speed and the amount of samples involved and bringing in some guest gralla on “Brega” and closer “Kendal/Crewe,” but finding itself in a consistent tonal mire all the same, shouts reverberating upward from it as through trying to claw their way up during the collapse of earth beneath their feet. It is brutal — an extreme vision of atmospheric sludge that makes the concept of a guitar riffing overtop seem like an indulgence that would only dull the impact of the proceedings as they are, which is formidable.

Llord on Bandcamp

Féretro Records on Bandcamp

 

Sweet Jonny, Sweet Jonny

sweet jonny sweet jonny

I can’t claim to be an expert on the ways of Britpunk classic or modern, but UK swagger-purveyors Sweet Jonny weave a heaping dose of snearing attitude into their self-titled, self-release debut album’s 12 tracks, and it comes set up next to a garage rock fuckall that isn’t necessarily contradicted by the actual tightness of the songwriting, given the context in which they’re working. “American Psycho,” well, that’s about American Psycho. “Sick in the Summer?” Well, guess that could be taken multiple ways, but somebody’s sick in any case. You see where this is going, but Sweet Jonny bring character and addled-punk charm to their storytelling lyrics and barebones arrangements of fucked-up guitar, bass and drums. I don’t know what the punkers are into these days, but the vibe here is rude in the classic sense and they bring a good time feel to “Superpunch” and “It Matters Not” — which stretches past the four-minute mark(!) — so what the hell? I’m up for something different.

Sweet Jonny on Thee Facebooks

Sweet Jonny website

 

Warp, Warp

warp warp

If the approval stamp of Nasoni Records isn’t enough to get you on board — and it should be, frankly — the Sabbathian lowercase-‘g’ ghost rock Warp proffer on their self-titled debut is bound to turn heads among the converted. The Tel Aviv-based outfit tear through eight tracks in a crisp, bitingly fuzzed 28 minutes, taking on classic boogie and doom alike before they’re even through opener “Wretched.” They get bonus points for calling their noise interlude “‘Confusion Will Be My Epitaph’ Will Be My Epitaph,’ as well as for the shuffle of “Gone Man” that precedes it and the stomp of “Intoxication” that comes after, the latter a rhythmic complement to the central progression of second cut “Into My Life,” which only departs that snare-snare-snare to soar for a dual-layered solo. Hard not to dig the space-punk edge of “Hey Little Rich Boy II” and the throttled-back stoner nod of closer “Enter the Void,” which is done in under five minutes and still finds room for the album’s best stop-and-crash. Fucking a.

Warp on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records webstore

 

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The Riven Premiere “Far Beyond” Lyric Video; Self-Titled Debut out March 1

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the riven

The Riven call Stockholm, Sweden, their home base, but with members hailing from Spain and the UK, they’re just as easily tagged as a multinational conglomerate. There’s no clash, however, when it comes to bringing their material to life. To wit, the four-piece issue their The Sign Records-backed self-titled debut album March 1, and with it proffer nine songs and 40 minutes of crisply executed traditionalist heavy rock and roll. They’re not so much dug into the vintage sound, but that influence is there for sure in songs like the single “Far Beyond,” for which you can see the lyric video premiering below, as well as the bluesy “Shadow Man,” the subdued and soulful “I Remember” and the presumed side A finale “Finnish Woods,” which quietly meanders in its beginning and opens to a slow-rolling chorus in its first half only to unveil a NWOBHM gallop after its midpoint that complements and offsets the boogie that surrounds. On The Riven, as on their 2017 debut EP, Blackbird (discussed here), there’s a sense of the classic as a foundation to work from, rather than a modus to be so directly emulated. That mindset only helps The Riven as they make their debut.

Comprised of vocalist Charlotta Ekebergh, guitarist Arnau Diaz, bassist Max Ternebring and The Riven The Rivendrummer Olof Axegärd, the band recorded in Madrid and very clearly worked to capture a naturalist spirit in so doing. As straight-ahead shufflers like the Thin Lizzy-style opener “The Serpent,” the dug-in groover “Edge of Time” and the penultimate “Leap of Faith” hit all their marks, it’s the organic style that unites them with longer cuts like “I Remember” and the jammy closer “Sweet Child.” As it should be for classic-style heavy rock, the rhythm section proves crucial to the overarching effectiveness of the band, with Ternebring‘s tone and Axegärd‘s snare work both serving as standout performances along with Ekebergh‘s dynamic vocals and Diaz‘s guitar leading the way for all to follow. The hook of “Far Beyond” is a highlight, but it’s far from the only one the record has on offer, and whether it’s “Shadow Man” or the momentum-building side B launch in “Fortune Teller,” The Riven draw from the strengths of its component members even as they unite for the purpose of memorable songwriting.

Part of the work The Riven does as an album is set the stage for the band The Riven will become, even as it signals their arrival at this starting point. They won’t get to put out another first record, and they make the most of the opportunity before them. These songs feel worked through and honed for maximum effect, and while the Swedish and wider European heavy underground has seen a surge of similarly-minded blues-influenced ’70s-rock aficionados, The Riven‘s collective ability to drop the rush of “Fortune Teller” right into the moody sway of “I Remember” and still carry the listener with them speaks to their confidence as songwriters as well as the justification for that confidence in the output itself. Are they done growing? Probably not, but The Riven makes an encouraging place to start from not the least because it demonstrates how clear the band are in their purpose. They’re schooled in what they want to do and how they want to do it. What they’ll do next is a question, of course, for some later time. There’s plenty of rock and roll here to last until then.

The Riven‘s The Riven is out March 1 on The Sign Records. PR wire info follows the “Far Beyond” lyric video here.

Please enjoy:

The Riven, “Far Beyond” lyric video premiere

Far Beyond is taken from The Riven’s debut album released by The Sign Records.

In 2018, The Riven went to Madrid, not to spend time under the Spanish sun but rather curled up in the cellar studio at Holy Cuervo Studios. In ten days they powered through the record’s nine songs, producing an album that in the words of the drummer Olof Axegärd, “is loud, is rock, is soul, and prog. It has it all!” The Riven will be releasing their highly anticipated first full length with The Sign Records in the spring of 2019. Produced by Ola Ersfjord (Lucifer, Primordial, Dead Lord) the album manages to merge the diverse influences of its four members into a solid unit of Rock and Roll that will leave no one oblivious.

The Riven is:
Charlotta Ekebergh – Vocals
Arnau Diaz – Guitar
Max Ternebring – Bass Guitar
Olof Axegärd – Drums

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Riven on Bandcamp

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records website

The Sign Records at Freighttrain.se

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Vokonis Announce New Drummer Peter Ottoson; New Album Title Revealed

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Sweden’s Vokonis are pretty careful in the announcement below not to give away the title of their impending third full-length, which will be issued sometime in the coming months through The Sign Records, but it’s called Grasping Time and on Feb. 2 they’ll have the first single out from the offering, also called “Grasping Time.” So there. The forthcoming album will mark the final contributions of drummer Emil Larsson, who has left the band with Peter Ottoson coming aboard as his replacement alongside guitarist/vocalist Simon Ohlsson and bassist/vocalist Jonte Johansson.

Change is nothing new for Vokonis, whose three albums — 2016’s Olde One Ascending (review here), 2017’s The Sunken Djinn (review here), and the upcoming — have been issued through Ozium RecordsRipple Music and (shift to future tense) The Sign Records, respectively, and who began their career under a different moniker with a different lineup. So, you know, kind of how it goes. Despite or perhaps in some part because of this, the band has never failed to grow from one quick-turnaround release to the next, and I’m not saying I’ve heard it or anything, but their third LP is not an exception to the rule, with Ohlsson and Johansson introducing more depth to the vocal arrangements and sharing duties in that regard more than ever before, as well as pushing themselves in terms of their songwriting.

There will be much more to come on Grasping Time, of course, as we get closer to the release. Here’s the lineup change announcement in the meantime:

vokonis

VOKONIS ANNOUNCE NEW MEMBER

Swedish heavy prog band VOKONIS have announced that drummer Emil Larsson has left the band and replaced by Peter Ottoson.

The band commented:

“Emil has decided to leave Vokonis. There are no bad feelings involved. Emil felt done with the band and wanted to leave the position for a person that would feel love for the songs and the band. The new record we recorded in 2018 will be Emil’s last contributions to the band. We are of course incredibly sad by his decision, but that is life. We are excited to welcome Peter as our new drummer.”

More information on the new album will be announced in the next few months!

Vokonis is:
Simon Ohlsson – guitar/vocals
Jonte Johansson – bass/vocals
Peter Ottoson – drums

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialVokonis/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3DZoit5R0ahZQCNLbDnNxr?si=eh0iJ7YHQQOblw_ztadm1Q
https://www.facebook.com/thesignrecords/
http://www.thesignrecords.com

Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn (2017)

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MaidaVale Announce Spring 2019 Euro & UK Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

maidavale

Classic-style heavy rockers MaidaVale took on a more expansive sound with their 2018 album, Madness is Too Pure (discussed here), and they haven’t exactly been shy about showing it off. They’ll keep the thread going early in 2019 with a Spring tour of Europe and UK that includes a stop at the Bordeaux Psych Fest in France and rooms in the UK like the famed Star and Garter in Manchester and The Black Heart in London. Seems like they’ve got some really good momentum on their side going into much of next year. I have to wonder where it might all be leading and when they’ll get to work on their next record. Madness is Too Pure followed just two years behind 2016’s Tales of the Wicked West (review here), so if it was early 2020 for the next one, I’d hardly be surprised. Sooner works too though, ha.

Here are the tour dates:

maidavale tour poster

MAIDAVALE announce European tour in Spring 2019

MaidaVale is heading out on a lengthy European tour in March 2019. The tour takes the band to Norway, Germany, France, UK and the Netherlands.

The Swedish band released their latest album ‘Madness Is Too Pure’ in March 2018. The record has since been nominated to a P3 Guld award in their native country.

The tour kicks off at the By:Larm Festival in Norway.

Tour Dates:
28/02 (NO) OSLO – by:Larm Festival
01/03 (NO) OSLO – by:Larm Festival
03/03 (DE) HAMBURG – Hafenklang
04/03 (DE) GOETTINGEN – Dots
05/03 (DE) MANNHEIM – 7er Club
06/03 (DE) NIJMEGEN – Merleyn
07/03 (DE) COLOGNE – Sonic Ballroom
08/03 (FR) STRASBOURG – La Laiterie
10/03 (FR) PARIS – Le Glazart
11/03 (FR) ANGERS – Joker’s Pub
12/03 (FR) POITIERS – Le Cluricaume
13/03 (FR) NANTES – La Scène Michelet
14/03 (FR) RENNES – TBA
15/03 (FR) BORDEAUX – Salle du Gran Parc / Bordeaux Psych Fest
16/03 (FR) LYON – Le Farmer
18/03 (DE) FREIBURG – Slow Club
19/03 (DE) STUTTGART – Keller Club
20/03 (DE) KARLSRUHE – Alte Hackerei
22/03 (UK) LONDON – The Black Heart
23/03 (UK) MANCHESTER – Star and Garter
25/03 (UK) BRISTOL – The Lanes
27/03 (NL) AMSTERDAM – Melkweg
28/03 (DE) BREMEN – Zollkantine

Members:
Matilda Roth – Vocals
Johanna Hansson – Drums
Linn Johanesson – Bass
Sofia Ström – Guitar

http://www.maidavaleband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/maidavaleswe/
https://twitter.com/maidavaleband
https://www.instagram.com/maidavaleband/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/7rsoTsWjPBw9tyPbLXJko2
http://www.thesignrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/thesignrecords/
http://freighttrain.se/sv/

MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure (2018)

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