The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2018

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the-top-30-of-2018

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2018 to that, please do.

It just wouldn’t be a year if it wasn’t completely overwhelming, right?

2018 has certainly met that standard and then some. The swath of output, whether it’s a new generation adopting and adapting established methods or out and out reinventing the stylistic wheel and then pushing it uphill on a seemingly endless barrage of tours, has been staggering, and it’s still happening. There’s a little more than a week to go in the year. You think a band isn’t putting something out today? Of course they are. It’s every day. It’s all the time.

But this year wasn’t just about quantity either. I think one of my biggest struggles in writing about albums in 2018 — and with the last Quarterly Review and various premieres and video posts that were basically album reviews in disguise, let’s estimate we’re somewhere past 300 records reviewed one way or another — was in conveying just how killer so much of the stuff coming through was. How many times can you say the word “awesome?” Well, I’m sure we’ll see it a few more times before this list is over, so there you go.

I say something like this every time I do a list, but please keep in mind these are my picks and I’m one person. But I am a person. I know there’s the whole internet-anonymity thing, but I assure you, I’m a human being (more of a cave troll, really) typing these words. I’m all for everyone sharing their own picks in the comments, and all for passionate advocating, but please, let’s keep it civil and respectful. These things can spiral out of control quickly, but let’s remember that we’re all human beings and worth of basic courtesy, even if some of us are dead wrong about a good many things. You should definitely punch nazis, though.

Thanks in advance for reading. Here we go:

[UPDATE: You’ll notice the inclusion of an ’18a.’ I had Stoned Jesus in my notes as number 18 initially and they got dropped as I was adjusting things along the way. I’ve added them back in, but it didn’t seem fair to bump everyone else down after the post had already been published. That was the best I could come up with for a solution. If you’re pissed about one more killer record being added, please feel free to email me and tell me all about it.]

30. The Skull, The Endless Road Turns Dark

The Skull The Endless Road Turns Dark

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Chicago’s The Skull had no small task before them in following up their 2014 debut, For Those Which are Asleep (review here) — let alone living up to their pedigree — but their second album demonstrated a creative growth that sacrificed nothing of memorability when it came to songs like “Breathing Underwater” and “All that Remains (Is True).” They got down to work and got the job done, which is what a working band does. 2018 was by any measure a fantastic year for doom, and The Skull were a big part of why.

29. Foghound, Awaken to Destroy

foghound awaken to destroy

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 21.

The Dec. 2017 murder of Rev. Jim Forrester was tragic. No other way to say it. Foghound, who were in the midst of making Awaken to Destroy at the time, put together an album that not only features Forrester‘s last recorded performance, but pays respect to his memory while the wound is still raw and manages to kick ass all the while. It’s a record that can’t ever be divorced from its circumstances — just can’t — and so it can be a heavy listen in more than just its tones, but it’s basically Foghound proving they’re unstoppable. And so they are.

28. Orange Goblin, The Wolf Bites Back

orange goblin the wolf bites back

Released by Spinefarm Records. Reviewed June 13.

Who among us here today is not a sucker for Orange Goblin? Come forward an be judged. I mean, really. Nine records deep, the London sceneforgers are nothing less than an institution, beloved by boozehounds, riffhounds, doomhounds, and really, a wide variety of hounds the world over. Also dudes. With its essential title-track hook and highlight cuts in “Ghosts of the Primitives” and “Burn the Ships” — or, you know, any of them — they added to one of heavy’s most unshakable legacies with an album as furious as it is welcoming to its generations-spanning fanbase.

27. Fu Manchu, Clone of the Universe

fu manchu clone of the universe
Released by At the Dojo Records. Reviewed Feb. 15.

There are two kinds of people in this world, and they’re both Fu Manchu fans. Clone of the Universe turned heads with a guest appearance from Rush‘s Alex Lifeson on the 18-minute side-B-consuming “Il Mostro Atomico,” but really to focus on that instead of “Intelligent Worship,” “(I’ve Been) Hexed,” “Don’t Panic,” “Slower than Light,” etc., is only seeing half the point of the album in the first place. The long-running lords of fuzz hit a new stride with 2014’s Gigantoid (review here), and Clone of the Universe was in every way a worthy successor.

26. Witch Mountain, Witch Mountain

Witch-Mountain-Witch-Mountain
Released by Svart Records. Reviewed May 16.

It was an unenviable task before Witch Mountain in replacing vocalist Uta Plotkin, but founding guitarist Rob Wrong and drummer Nathan Carson found the right voice in Kayla Dixon and solidified the lineup with her and bassist Justin Brown enough to make a declarative statement in Witch Mountain‘s self-titled LP. That’s the story of it. They pulled it off. Met with what was unquestionably a bummer circumstance, they pushed through and moved their sound forward through a new beginning — and not their first one. Watch out when their next record hits.

25. Windhand, Eternal Return

windhand eternal return

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Oct. 3.

Richmond, Virginia, doomers Windhand‘s second collaboration with producer Jack Endino produced a marked and purposeful expansion of their sound, encompassing classic grunge influences and a heavy psychedelic swirl that added color their previously-greyscale sonic haze. Resonant in tone and emotionalism, Eternal Return readjusted Windhand‘s trajectory in such a manner that, where one might’ve thought they knew where the band were headed in terms of their progression, they’ve made themselves a less predictable outfit on the whole. For that alone, it’s a triumph. Then you have the songs.

24. Sun Voyager, Seismic Vibes

Sun Voyager Seismic Vibes

Released by King Pizza Records. Reviewed April 18.

I don’t even want to admit how long I was waiting for Sun Voyager‘s first long-player to show up, but when it finally did, the New York trio did not disappoint. Catchy, energetic, fuzzed-out tunes with driving rhythms and a heavy psych flourish, they tapped into shoegaze and desert vibes without losing any sense of themselves in the process, and if the extra wait was so they could be so remarkably coherent in their expression on their full-length, then I wouldn’t want it to have shown up any sooner. An easy pick to stand among 2018’s best debut albums. Now to wait for the next one.

23. Forming the Void, Rift

forming the void rift

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed July 27.

It should tell you something that after working quickly to produce three albums, Louisiana’s Forming the Void are still defined by their potential. If I had my druthers, I’d put the recent Ripple signees on tour for the bulk of 2019, across the US and in Europe for festivals and support-slot club shows, really give them an opportunity to hammer out who they are as a band and then hit the studio for LP four. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but they’d only be doing the universe a favor by kicking into that gear. As it stands, their progression is palpable in their material and they stand absolutely ready for whatever the next level might be for them.

22. Spaceslug, Eye the Tide

spaceslug eye the tide

Released by BSFD Records and Oak Island Records. Reviewed June 29.

Aside from the speed at which Spaceslug have turned around offerings — with Eye the Tide following 2017’s Mountains and Reminiscence EP (review here) and Time Travel Dilemma (review here) full-length and their 2016 debut, Lemanis (review here) — the Polish outfit have undertaken significant progression in their sound, moving from pure heavy psychedelic warmth to incorporating elements out of extreme metal as they did on Eye the Tide. Adding to the latest record’s accomplishment is the smoothness with which they brought seemingly opposing sides together, only adding depth to an approach already worthy of oceanic comparison.

21. Conan, Existential Void Guardian

Conan Existential Void Guardian
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 14.

Conan‘s reign of terror has been unfolding for more than a decade now, and each of their albums has become a kind of step along a path of incremental growth. Consider the melody creeping into the shouts of founding guitarist Jon Davis, or the emergence of bassist Chris Fielding as a vocal presence alongside, the two sharing a frontman role more than ever before while welcoming drummer Johnny King to the fold of destructive tonality and doomly extremism. Existential Void Guardian may end up just being another stomp-print on their way to the next thing, but it affirmed the fact that as much as Conan grow each time out, their central violence continues to hold sway.

20. Pale Divine, Pale Divine

PALE DIVINE S/T
Released by Shadow Kingdom Records. Reviewed Nov. 21.

Look. A new Pale Divine record doesn’t come along every day, so yeah, their self-titled was probably going to be on my list one way or the other, but it definitely helps that not only was it their first outing in six years since 2012’s Painted Windows Black (review here), but it had the songs to live up to a half-decade-plus of anticipation. It marked the first studio appearance from bassist/backing vocalist Ron “Fezz” McGinnis alongside guitarist Greg Diener and drummer Darin McCloskey — now both of Beelzefuzz as well — and made a strong argument for how much Pale Divine deserve more than 20 years on from their initial demo to be considered classic American doom.

19. Mos Generator, Shadowlands

mos generator shadowlands
Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed May 11.

The return and rise to prominence of Washington pure heavy rockers Mos Generator might be the underground’s feelgood story of the decade, but it hasn’t by any means been easily won. In addition to rebuilding the band however many albums ago, guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed has put in innumerable hours on tour and worked to actually develop the group creatively in addition to in terms of stage presence. This is shown throughout some of the classic prog elements making their way onto Shadowlands, and perhaps some of the collection’s moodier aspects are born of the aforementioned road time as well. Hard for that kind of thing not to be a slog after a while, but at least they have killer tunes to play.

18a. Stoned Jesus, Pilgrims

STONED JESUS PILGRIMS

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 5.

The only safe bet about Stoned Jesus‘ fourth long-player, Pilgrims, was that it was going to sound different than the third. That 2015 outing, The Harvest (review here), preceded the band touring to celebrate the fifth anniversary and after-the-fact success of 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), but Pilgrims defied narrative in that instead of incorporating elements from the second record in more of a heavy psych or jam sound, Stoned Jesus instead showcased a tighter, more sureheaded sense of craft than they’ve ever displayed before, and arrived on Napalm Records with a collection of songs that demonstrated the growth and sense of creative will that drives them. While one can take a look at their moniker and think immediately they know what’s coming, Stoned Jesus have made themselves one of the least predictable bands in heavy rock.

18. Backwoods Payback, Future Slum

backwoods payback future slum

Self-released. Reviewed Aug. 15.

“Pirate Smile.” “Lines.” “Whatever.” “It Ain’t Right.” “Threes.” “Cinderella.” “Generals.” “Big Enough.” “Alone.” “Lucky. Mike Cummings, Jessica Baker, Erik Larson. Every player, every song, every minute. If you want to know what heart-on-sleeve sounds like, it fucking sounds like Backwoods Payback. In their line from hardcore punk to grunge to heavy rock, they encompass experiences and emotionalism that are both shown in raw form throughout Future Slum, and build all the while on the chemistry they set out in developing with 2016’s Fire Not Reason (review here), when they welcomed Larson to the lineup on drums and revitalized their mission. Also worth noting, they were the best live band I saw this year. Anywhere.

17. Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown

corrosion of conformity no cross no crown

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Jan. 3

No question the excitement of C.O.C. putting out their first record with frontman Pepper Keenan involved since 2005’s In the Arms of God was one of this year’s top stories in heavy. And No Cross No Crown tapped directly into the spirit of 1994’s Deliverance (discussed here) and 1996’s Wiseblood (discussed here) in terms of direction, while updating the band’s style with a four-part 2LP in mind. In some ways, it’ll be their next album that really gives listeners a sense of where they’re at and where they might be headed, but as welcome returns go, having Keenan alongside Mike DeanWoody Weatherman and Reed Mullin is in no way to be understated, and neither is the quality of their output together, then and now.

16. Naxatras, III

naxatras iii

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 14.

It is no simple feat to hypnotize an audience and convey serenity while at the same time holding attention with songcraft, so that the listener isn’t actually so much unconscious as malleable of mood and spirit in such a direction as the band suggests. Greek trio Naxatras have worked quickly to become experts at this, and their third full-length fosters tonal warmth and jammy progressions with an overarching naturalism that finds them so committed to analog recording that one can buy direct transfers of the tape master of III. Some acts take classic-style practices as an aesthetic choice. With Naxatras, it seems to be the stuff of life, yet their sound is only vibrant and human in a way that, at least one hopes, is even more representative of the future than the past.

15. Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions

clutch book of bad decisions

Released by Weathermaker Music. Reviewed Aug. 27.

It was time for Clutch to make a change in producers, and the Maryland overlords of groove seemed to know it. Known as a live band, they went with Vance Powell, who’s known a live band producer. The results on Book of Bad Decisions might not have been so earth-shatteringly different from 2015’s Psychic Warfare (review here), which was the too-soon follow-up to 2013’s Earth Rocker (review here) — both helmed by Machine — but the inimitable four-piece indeed succeeded in capturing the electricity of their stage performance and, as ever, treated fans to a collection of songs bearing Clutch‘s unmistakable hallmarks of quirky lyrics, funky rhythms and heavy roll. They may always be a live band, but Clutch‘s studio work is in no way to be discounted, ever, as this record reaffirmed. Plus, crab cakes.

14. Ancestors, Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors Suspended in Reflections

Released by Pelagic Records. Reviewed Aug. 3.

After 2012’s In Dreams and Time (review here), I wasn’t sure Ancestors were going to put out another record. They kicked around word of one for a while, but it wasn’t until the end of last year that it really seemed to congeal into a possibility. And by then, who the hell knew what they might get up to on a full-length? With Suspended in Reflections, in some says, they picked up where they left off in terms of finding a niche for themselves in progressive and melodic heavy, but I think the time showed in the poise of their execution and the control of the material. Suspended in Reflections can’t help but be six years more mature than its predecessor, and that suits its contemplative feel. In tracks like “Gone,” and “The Warm Glow,” they tempered their expansive sound with an efficiency that can only be had with time.

13. High on Fire, Electric Messiah

high on fire electric messiah

Released by eOne Heavy. Reviewed Sept. 28.

The narrative here was hard to beat. Matt Pike spending an album cycle talking about Lemmy Kilmister and paying homage to his dirt-rock forebear and the gods of old? It doesn’t get much more perfect than that. Electric Messiah was the third collaboration between High on Fire and producer Kurt Ballou behind 2015’s Luminiferous (review here) and 2012’s De Vermiis Mysteriis (review here), and while it seemed after the last record that the formula might be getting stale, the band only sounded more and more lethal throughout the latest offering. Even putting aside their contributions to underground heavy, they’ve become one of the most essential metal bands of their generation. Metal, period. Doesn’t matter what subgenre you’re talking about it. If you’re listening to High on Fire, you know it. Usually because you’ve just been decapitated.

12. Yawning Man, The Revolt Against Tired Noises

yawning man the revolt against tired noises

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed July 2.

You know, if you take the time to separate Yawning Man from their 30-plus-year history and their legacy as one of the foundational acts of what later became desert rock, and you listen to The Revolt Against Tired Noises, you’re still left with basically a dream of an album. Mostly instrumental, as is their wont, they nonetheless had bassist Mario Lalli (also Fatso Jetson) sing this time around on a version of the previously-unreleased “Catamaran,” which Kyuss covered once upon a whenever although Yawning Man had never officially put it to tape. But really, that and all other novelty aside, guitarist Gary Arce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson are a chemistry unto themselves. I don’t know if they’ll ever be as huge as they should be, but every bit of acclaim they get, they’ve earned, and if The Revolt Against Tired Noises helps them get it, all the more so.

11. Greenleaf, Hear the Rivers

greenleaf hear the rivers

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Nov. 26.

Swedish heavy rock mavens Greenleaf have become an entirely different band than they once were. No longer a Dozer side-project from guitarist Tommi Holappa with a rotating cast of players, they’re a solidified, road-tested, powerhouse unit, and Hear the Rivers bleeds soul as a result. Holappa, frontman Arvid Hällagård, bassist Hans Fröhlich and drummer Sebastian Olsson sound like they’re absolutely on fire in the album’s tracks, and far from being staid or formulaic as one might expect a sixth long-player to be, Hear the Rivers built on what the band accomplished with 2016’s Rise Above the Meadow (review here) and came across as all the more vital and nearly frenetic in their energy. I won’t say Greenleaf has seen their last lineup change, because one never knows, but the band as they are today is the realization of potential I don’t think even Greenleaf knew was there.

10. Gozu, Equilibrium

gozu equilibrium

Released by Blacklight Media / Metal Blade Records. Reviewed April 4.

Five records deep into a career into its second decade, Gozu haven’t had a miss yet. Admittedly, some of their early work can seem formative considering where they are now, but still. And after the 2016 rager, Revival (review here), to have the band return to the same studio — Wild Arctic in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where strides producer Dean Baltulonis — for the follow-up allows for the four-piece to directly show how their sound has grown more encompassing in the last couple years. And it has. Equilibrium is a rich and varied listen that holds true to Gozu‘s well-established penchant for soulful vibes and crunching, hard-hitting riffs and groove, but while it shares the directness of approach with Revival, it makes moves that a band could only make moving from one record to the next. I expect nothing less their next time out as well, because a decade later, that’s Gozu‘s proven track record.

9. Monster Magnet, Mindfucker

monster magnet mindfucker
Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 23.

The battle for the best album title of 2018 ended early when New Jersey everything-rockers Monster Magnet announced the release of Mindfucker. And what else to call a Monster Magnet LP at this point? They’ve stopped writing to genre. They’re driven by the creative mania of frontman/founder Dave Wyndorf, and they’ve seen psychedelic expanses and commercial success the likes of which would serve the tenure of four lesser bands. What’s left to do but whatever the hell you want? So that’s what Monster Magnet are doing. It just so happens that while they’re doing it, they’re still basically outclassing the entirety of the former planet earth as songwriters. As Monster Magnet fan in 2018, there was nothing more I could’ve asked than what Mindfucker delivered. And if you’re still trying to get your brain around it however many months later, you’re not alone. I think that’s the idea.

8. Apostle of Solitude, From Gold to Ash

Apostle of Solitude From Gold to Ash

Released by Cruz del Sur Music. Reviewed Feb. 20.

Best doom album of 2018. The combination of craft and passion behind the delivery. The way the dark tones fed into the emotions so clearly on display and sheer presence of it in listening to songs like “Keeping the Lighthouse,” “Ruination by Thy Name” and “My Heart is Leaving Here.” Apostle of Solitude never seem to be the highest profile band out there, but their work seems never to be anything less than outstanding, and I refuse to accept them as anything less than among the most pivotal American acts out there making traditional doom. And not just making it, but making it their own, with a sense of new pursuits and individualism that extends to playing style as well as atmosphere. I know doom isn’t exactly in short supply these days — figuratively or literally — but if you miss out on what Apostle of Solitude are doing with it, you’ll only regret it later. I’ll say it one more time: Best doom album of 2018.

7. Holy Grove, Holy Grove II

holy grove ii
Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 31.

Every now and again, anticipating the crap of an album really pays off, and such was the case with Holy Grove II, the Ripple Music debut from the Portland outfit whose 2016 self-titled (review here) seemed like such a herald of excellence to come while also, you know, being killer. Holy Grove II brought the four-piece of vocalist Andrea Vidal, guitarist Trent Jacobs, bassist Gregg Emley and drummer Eben Travis to entirely new levels of composition and execution. In songs like “Blade Born,” the shorter, sharper “Aurora,” the patiently rolling “Valley of the Mystics,” “Solaris” and closer “Cosmos,” which boasted a not-really-necessary-but-definitely-welcome guest vocal appearance from YOB‘s Mike Scheidt, — and oh wait, that’s all of the tracks — Holy Grove entered a different echelon. Anticipation will likewise be high for Holy Grove III, but it’ll be hard to complain with this record to keep company in the meantime.

6. All Them Witches, ATW

all them witches atw
Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 18.

Over five All Them Witches albums, the Nashville four-piece have gone from a nascent heavy Americana jam band to one of the most distinct acts in the US underground. Their development in sound is chemistry-driven, so it was a risk when the founding trio of bassist/vocalist Charles Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod (who also produced) and drummer Robby Staebler welcomed new keyboardist Jonathan Draper into the lineup to take the place of Allan van Cleave. Amid a more naturalist production than that of 2017’s Sleeping Through the War (review here), the revamped four-piece flourished in terms of songwriting and conveying their stage-born sonic personae. From the gleeful fuckery of opener “Fishbelly 86 Onions” to the memorable moodiness of “Diamond” and the back-end jam “Harvest Feast” en route to the stretched-out end of “Rob’s Dream,” All Them Witches essentially confirmed they could do whatever they wanted and make it work.

5. YOB, Our Raw Heart

yob our raw heart
Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed June 7.

Actually, if you want a sample of YOB‘s raw heart, the place to go is probably 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), but whatever the Eugene, Oregon, shapers of cosmic doom might’ve lacked in titular accuracy on their eighth long-player, they made up for in a new, statesman-like posture. Their approach was mature, hammered out to a professionalism working completely on its own terms, and they never sounded so sure of who they are as a band or as confident of their direction. In extended cuts “Beauty in Falling Leaves” and “Our Raw Heart,” they explored new and progressive textures and melodies, and managed to reaffirm their core aspects while finding room for conveying emotion that came across as nothing but ultimately sincere. They have been and still are one of a kind, and as they continue to move forward, they remain a band that makes one feel lucky to be alive to witness their work. Our Raw Heart was perhaps more refined than it let on, but the heart was there for sure, as always.

4. Brant Bjork, Mankind Woman

brant bjork mankind woman

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 13.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t a fan of the (relatively) harder-hitting approach Brant Bjork and his Low Desert Punk Band took on 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here) and 2016’s Tao of the Devil (review here), but Mankind Woman brought in some more of his soul influences, and whether it was the subtly subversive funk of “Chocolatize” and “Brand New Old Times” or the callout “1968” and laid back vibes of the title-track and “Swagger and Sway,” Bjork — working with guitarist Bubba DuPree on songwriting and production — offered a definitive look at what has made his 20-year solo career so special and demonstrates not only his longevity and his legacy, but his will to continue to progress as an artist honing his craft. His discography is well populated by now to be sure, but Mankind Woman represents a turn from the last couple records, and if it’s in any way portentous of things to come, it bodes well. Bjork is right at home nestled into classic-style grooves, and his legacy as one of the principal architects of desert rock is continually reaffirmed.

3. Earthless, Black Heaven

earthless black heaven

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed March 15.

They’ve been great, not just good, for a long time now, and as forerunners of the San Diego heavy scene, they’re godfathers to an up and coming generation of bands taking their influence — let alone acts from the rest of the world — but Black Heaven is a special moment for them because of its departure. No, it wasn’t not the first time guitarist Isaiah Mitchell sang on an Earthless recording, but it did represent a tip of the balance in that direction for the band on a studio full-length, and that resulted in a special moment. Album opener “Gifted by the Wind” was one of the best songs I heard this year, and while “End to End” and the all-thrust “Volt Rush” affirmed that more traditional songwriting was well within the grasp of Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba, they still found space for a sprawling jam or two, keeping their claim on the instrumentalism that’s (largely) fueled their tenure to date. Earthless don’t want for acclaim, but every bit of it is earned, and while their primary impact has always been live, Black Heaven saw them construct a traditional-style LP that still bore the hallmarks of their collective personality. It was the best of all worlds.

2. King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain

king buffalo longing to be the mountain
Self-released/released by Stickman Records. Reviewed Sept. 27.

In the dark early hours of 2018, the Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson issued the Repeater EP (review here) as a follow-up to their 2016 debut, Orion (review here), so Longing to Be the Mountain didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but even with Repeater preceding its arrival, I don’t think anyone necessary expected King Buffalo‘s second album to have such a scope or to be so engrossing with it. In its melody, patience, atmosphere and heft, it was an absolute joy to behold. Its songs were memorable at the same time they were far-reaching, and while Orion was already my pick for the best debut of 2016, Longing to Be the Mountain realized even more potential than that record had hinted toward. It could be intimate or majestic at its whim, and its dynamic set an individual characterization of heavy psychedelia and blues-style sprawl that the band wholly owned. With production by Ben McLeod of All Them Witches behind them, they worked to serve notice of a progression undertaken the results of which are already staggering and still seem to be looking ahead to the next stage, literally and figuratively. One of the principal standards I use in constructing this list every year is what I listen to most. That’s this record.

1. Sleep, The Sciences

sleep the sciences

Released by Third Man Records. Reviewed May 1.

Obviously, right? To some extent, when Sleep surprise-announced on April 19 they’d release their first album in 15 years the next day, and then did, they took ownership of 2018. Even with records still to come at that point from YOB and Sleep guitarist Matt Pike‘s own High on Fire, there was no way that when the end of the year came around, it wasn’t going to be defined by the advent of a new Sleep record. And even if it sucked, it would probably still be Album of the Year, but fortunately, as Pike, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros (also Om) and drummer Jason Roeder (also Neurosis) took their long-running stage reunion to the studio, they brought material that highlighted the best elements from all players. Pike‘s wild soloing, Cisneros‘ meditative vocals and Roeder‘s intricate but smooth style of roll all came together in older pieces like “Antarcticans Thawed” and “Sonic Titan” and newer highlights “Giza Butler” and “Marijuanaut’s Theme,” and aside from the excitement at their existence, they showed the mastery of form that Sleep had been demonstrating live since 2009 and which they hinted toward in the 2014 single, The Clarity (review here). A new Sleep full-length was something long-discussed, long-rumored and long-considered, but when it finally happened, I think the results vaporized expectation in a way no one could’ve anticipated. There’s a reason Sleep are Sleep. Having The Sciences as a reminder of that brought about the defining moment of 2018.

The Next 20

Indeed, it wouldn’t be much of a Top 30 at all if it didn’t go to 50. Don’t try to make sense of it, just look at the records.

31. Atavismo, Valdeinfierno
32. Grayceon, IV
33. Clamfight, III
34. Seedy Jeezus, Polaris Oblique
35. Megaton Leviathan, Mage
36. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Wasteland
37. Arcadian Child, Superfonica
38. Freedom Hawk, Beast Remains
39. The Machine, Faceshift
40. Messa, Feast for Water
41. Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium
42. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Science Fiction
43. Domkraft, Flood
44. Träden, Träden
45. Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music
46. Samavayo, Vatan
47. Foehammer, Second Sight
48. Bongripper, Terminal
49. Mansion, First Death of the Lutheran
50. Sunnata, Outlands
51. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, Come and Chutney

Believe me when I tell you, I sweated over this section more than I did the actual top 30. Mansion should be higher. So should Chubby Thunderous, though something in me thought they might like being #50 on a list of 30. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Clamfight, Black Rainbows, Foehammer, Seedy Jeezus, Messa, Domkraft. All of these were fucking awesome. And there are more (we’ll get there). Eventually numbers add up. I won’t say a bad word about any of these. That’s it.

Honorable Mention

This section always winds up expanded as other people point out things I missed and so on, but here’s what I’ve got in the immediate, alphabetically:

  • Alms, Act One
  • Ape Machine, Darker Seas
  • Belzebong, Light the Dankness
  • Black Moon Circle, Psychedelic Spacelord
  • Blackwater Holylight, Blackwater Holylight
  • Bong, Thought and Existence
  • Carpet, About Rooms and Elephants
  • Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery
  • Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree
  • Dead Meadow, The Nothing They Need
  • Death Alley, Superbia
  • Drug Cult, Drug Cult
  • Dunbarrow, II
  • Electric Citizen, Helltown
  • Eagle Twin, The Thundering Heard: Songs of Hoof and Horn
  • Evoken, Hypnagogia
  • Funeral Horse, Psalms for the Mourning
  • Fuzz Evil, High on You
  • Graven, Heirs of Discord
  • Graveyard, Peace
  • Green Dragon, Green Dragon
  • Green Druid, Ashen Blood
  • Here Lies Man, You Will Know Nothing
  • High Priestess, High Priestess
  • Horehound, Holocene
  • IAH, II
  • JIRM, Surge ex Monumentis
  • Killer Boogie, Acid Cream
  • Lonely Kamel, Death’s Head Hawkmoth
  • MaidaVale, Madness is Too Pure
  • Moab, Trough
  • Mountain Dust, Seven Storms
  • Mouth, Floating
  • Mr. Plow, Maintain Radio Silence
  • T.G. Olson, Earthen Pyramid
  • Onségen Ensemble, Duel
  • Orango, Evergreen
  • Owl, Nights in Distortion
  • Pushy, Hard Wish
  • Rifflord, 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation
  • River Cult, Halcyon Daze
  • Rotor, Sechs
  • Somali Yacht Club, The Sea
  • Sumac, Love in Shadow
  • Sundrifter, Visitations
  • Svvamp, Svvamp II
  • Thou, Magus
  • Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse
  • Weedpecker, III

Special Note

Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate to include these in the list proper because they’re not really underground releases, but there were two more records I especially wanted to highlight for their quality:

  • Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog
  • Judas Priest, Firepower

Best Short Release of the Year

Normally I’d do this as a separate post, but as a result of being robbed earlier this year, I feel like my list is woefully incomplete. If you have any demos, EPs, splits, singles, etc., to add to it, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Still, the top pick was clear:

  • Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard & Slomatics, Totems Split

Rarely do two bands work in such coherent tandem to their mutual benefit. Here are a few other essential short releases for 2018, alphabetically:

  • All Them Witches, Lost and Found
  • Alunah, Amber & Gold
  • Canyon, Mk II
  • Demon Head, The Resistence
  • Destroyer of Light, Hopeless
  • Ecstatic Vision, Under the Influence
  • Godmaker & Somnuri, Split
  • Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul
  • King Buffalo, Repeater
  • Minsk & Zatokrev, Split
  • Sleep, Leagues Beneath
  • Stonus, Lunar Eclipse
  • Sundecay, Gale

Looking Forward

A good many albums have already been announced or hinted at for 2019. I in no way claim this to be a complete roundup of what’s coming, but here’s what I have in my notes so far, in absolutely no order:

Kings Destroy, Lo-Pan, Cities of Mars, Heavy Temple, Mr. Peter Hayden, Curse the Son, High Fighter, Destroyer of Light, Year of the Cobra, Buffalo Fuzz, Zaum, The Sonic Dawn, Alunah, Candlemass, Elepharmers, Grandier, Dorre, Abrahma, Mars Red Sky, Eternal Black, Elephant Tree, Atala, No Man’s Valley, Sun Blood Stories, Crypt Sermon, The Riven, Hibrido, Snail, Red Beard Wall, 11Paranoias, Dead Witches, Monte Luna, Captain Caravan (LP), Swallow the Sun, Oreyeon, Motorpsycho, Vokonis, Hexvessel, Saint Vitus, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Kind, Mastiff, Shadow Witch, Om.

Okay, That’s It

Yeah, no, I’m serious. List is done. Everybody go back to your lives. Your families miss you.

Really though, while this is by no means my last post of 2018, I can’t let it pass without saying thank you so much to everyone for checking out the site this year, or for just digging into this, or for sending me music, or hitting me up on social media, sharing a link, anything. Thank you. Thank you. I could never have imagined when it started out where it would be now. Or that I’d still be doing it. Your support means more to me than I can say, and I thank you so much for being a part of this with me.

So thanks.

If you have something to add to the list, please do so by leaving a comment below, but keep in mind as well the above note requesting civility. Please don’t make me feel stupid because I forgot your favorite record. I forgot a lot of people’s favorite records. I’m one dude. I’m doing my best.

And please keep in mind if you’ve got a list together that the Year-End Poll is open and results will be out Jan. 1.

Everybody have a great and safe 2019.

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

Quarterly Review: Thou, Liquid Visions, Benthic Realm, Ape Machine, Under, Evil Triplet, Vestjysk Ørken, Dawn of Winter, Pale Heart, Slowbro

Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again! The second week of this amply-proportioned Quarterly Review begins today as we move ever closer toward the inevitable 100-album finish line on Friday. There is an incredible amount of music to get through this week, so I don’t want to delay for too long, but as we look out across the vast stretch of distortion to come, I need to say thank you for reading, and I hope that you’ve been able to find something that’s kicking your ass a little bit in all the right ways so far. If not, well, there are 50 more records on the way for you to give it another shot.

Here goes.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Thou, Magus

thou magus

How can something be so raw and forward thinking at the same time? Baton Rouge’s Thou might be the band of their generation who’ve added the most to sludge in terms of pushing the style in new directions and shaping genre to their purposes. Magus (on Sacred Bones), their fourth or fifth full-length depending on whom you ask, is an overwhelming 75-minute 2LP of inward and outward destructive force, as heavy in its ambience as in its weight and throat-ripping sonic extremity, and yet somehow is restrained. To listen to the march of “Transcending Dualities,” there’s such a sense of seething happening beneath the surface of that chugging, marching riff, and after its creeping introduction, “In the Kingdom of Meaning” seems intent on beating its own rhythm, as in, with fists, and even a stop-by from frequent guest vocalist Emily McWilliams does little to detract from that impression. Along with Magus, which rightly finishes with the lurching threat of “Supremacy,” Thou have released three EPs and a split this year, so their pace runs in something of a contrast to their tempos, but whether you can keep up or not, Thou continue to press forward in crafting pivotal, essential brutalizations.

Thou website

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Liquid Visions, Hypnotized

Liquid Visions Hypnotized

Sulatron Records‘ pressing of Liquid Visions‘ 2002 debut, Hypnotized, is, of course, a reissue, but also the first time the album has been on vinyl, and it’s not long into opener “State of Mind” or the grunge-gone-classic-psych “Waste” before they earn the platter. Members of the band would go on to participate in acts like Zone Six, Wedge, Electric Moon and Johnson Noise, so it’s easy enough to understand how the band ties into the family tree of underground heavy psych in Berlin, but listening to the glorious mellow-unfolding-into-noise-wash-freakout of 15-minute closer “Paralyzed,” the appeal is less about academics than what the five-piece of vocalists/guitarists H.P. Ringholz (also e-sitar) and Kiryk Drewinski (also organ), bassist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (also Fender Rhodes and Mellotron), drummer Chris Schwartzkinsky and thereminist Katja Wolff were able to conjure in terms of being both ahead of their time and behind it. As the album moves from its opening shorter tracks to the longer and more expansive later material, it shows its original CD-era linearity, but if an LP reissue is what it takes to get Hypnotized out there again, so be it. I doubt many who hear it will complain.

Liquid Visions on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Benthic Realm, We Will Not Bow

Benthic Realm We Will Not Bow

The second short release from Benthic Realm behind a 2017 self-titled EP (review here) finds the Massachusetts-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (ex-Second Grave, ex-Warhorse), bassist Maureen Murphy (ex-Second Grave) and drummer Dan Blomquist (also Conclave) working toward a refined approach bridging the divide between doom and darker, harder hitting metal. They do this with marked fluidity, van Guilder shifting smoothly between melodic clean singing and harsher screams as Murphy and Blomquist demonstrate like-minded ease in turns of pace and aggression. The penultimate semi-title-track “I Will Not Bow” is an instrumental, but “Save us All,” “Thousand Day Rain” and closer “Untethered” — the latter with some Slayer ping ride and ensuing double-kick gallop — demonstrate the riff-based songwriting that carries Benthic Realm through their stylistic swath and ultimately ties their ideas together. If they think they might be ready for a debut full-length, they certainly sound that way.

Benthic Realm on Thee Facebooks

Benthic Realm website

 

Ape Machine, Darker Seas

ape machine darker seas

Maybe Ape Machine need to make a video with cats playing their instruments or something, but five albums deep, the Portland outfit seem to be viciously underrated. Releasing Darker Seas on Ripple, they take on a more progressive approach with songs like “Piper’s Rats” donning harmonized vocals and more complex interplay with guitar. It’s a more atmospheric take overall — consider the acoustic/electric beginning of “Watch What You Say” and it’s semi-nod to seafaring Mastodon, the likewise-unplugged and self-awarely medieval “Nocturne in D Flat (The Jester)” and the rocking presentation of what’s otherwise fist-pumping NWOBHM on “Bend Your Knee” — but Ape Machine have always been a band with songwriting at their center, and even as they move into the best performances of their career, hitting a point of quality that even producer Steve Hanford (Poison Idea) decided to join them after the recording as their new drummer, there’s no dip in the quality of their work. I don’t know what it might take to get them the attention they deserve — though a cat video would no doubt help — but if Darker Seas underscores anything, it’s that they deserve it.

Ape Machine on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Under, Stop Being Naive

under stop being naive

Stockport, UK, three-piece Under bring a progressive edge to their pummel with their second album, Stop Being Naive (on APF), beginning with the deceptively thoughtful arrangement of crushing opener and longest track (immediate points) “Malcontent,” which unfurls a barrage of riffs and varied vocals contributed by guitarist Simon Mayo, bassist Matt Franklin and drummer/keyboardist Andy Preece. Later cuts like “Soup” and “Grave Diggers” tap into amorphous layers of extremity, and “Happy” punks out with such tones as to remind of the filth that became grindcore in the UK nearly 40 years ago, but while “Big Joke” rolls out with a sneer and closer “Circadian Driftwood” has a more angular foundation, there’s an overarching personality that comes through Under‘s material that feels misanthropic and critical in a way perhaps best summarized by the record’s title. Stop Being Naive is sound enough advice, and it comes presented with a fervent argument in its own favor.

Under on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Evil Triplet, Have a Nice Trip

evil triplet have a nice trip

Trimming the runtime of their 2017 debut, Otherworld (review here) nearly in half, Austin weirdo rockers Evil Triplet present the six-song/38-minute single LP Have a Nice Trip on Super Secret with classic garage buzz tone on “A Day Like Any Other,” a cosmic impulse meeting indie sneer on opener “Space Kitten” and a suitably righteous stretch-out on “Aren’t You Experienced?” — which is just side A of the thing. The pulsating “Open Heart” might be the highlight for its Hawkwindian drive and momentary drift, but “Pyramid Eye”‘s blown-out freakery isn’t to be devalued, and the eight-minute capper “Apparition” is dead on from the start of its slower march through the end of its hook-topped jam, reminding of the purpose behind all the sprawl and on-their-own-wavelength vibes. A tighter presentation suits Evil Triplet and lets their songs shine through while still highlighting the breadth of their style and its unabashed adventurousness. May they continue to grow strange and terrify any and all squares they might encounter.

Evil Triplet on Thee Facebooks

Super Secret Records website

 

Vestjysk Ørken, Cosmic Desert Fuzz

Vestjysk orken Cosmic Desert Fuzz

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get on Vestjysk Ørken‘s debut EP, Cosmic Desert Fuzz. At very least, the Danish trio’s three-tracker first outing is aptly-named, and guitarist/vocalist Bo Sejer, bassist Søren Middelkoop Nielsen and drummer Thomas Bonde Sørensen indeed tap into space, sand and tone on the release, but each song also has a definite theme derived from cinema. To wit, “Dune” (11:41) samples Dune, “…Of the Dead” (9:13) taps into the landmark George Romero horror franchise, and “Solaris” (14:15) draws from the 1972 film of the same name. The spaciousness and hypnotic reach of the latter has an appeal all its own in its extended and subtle build, but all three songs not only pay homage to these movies but seem to work at capturing some aspect of their atmosphere. Vestjysk Ørken aren’t quite rewriting soundtracks, but they’re definitely in conversation with the works cited, and with an entire universe of cinema to explore, there are accordingly no limits as to where they might go. Something tells me it won’t be long before we find out how deep their obsession runs.

Vestjysk Ørken on Instagram

Vestjysk Ørken on Bandcamp

 

Dawn of Winter, Pray for Doom

Dawn of Winter Pray for Doom

I have no interest in playing arbiter to what’s “true” in doom metal or anything else, and neither am I qualified to do so. Instead, I’ll just note that Germany’s Dawn of Winter, who trace their roots back nearly 30 years and have released full-lengths on a one-per-decade basis in 1998, 2008 and now 2018 with Pray for Doom, have their house well in order when it comes to conveying the classic tenets of the genre. Issued through I Hate, the eight-track/51-minute offering finds drummer Dennis Schediwy punctuating huge nodder grooves led by Jörg M. Knittel‘s riffs, while bassist Joachim Schmalzried adds low end accentuation and frontman Gerrit P. Mutz furthers the spirit of traditionalism on vocals. Songs like “The Thirteenth of November” and the stomping “The Sweet Taste of Ruin” are timeless for being born too late, and in the spirit of Europe’s finest trad doom, Dawn of Winter evoke familiar aspects without directly worshiping Black Sabbath or any of their other aesthetic forebears. Pray for Doom is doom, because doom, by doomers, for doomers. The converted will be accordingly thrilled to hear them preach.

Dawn of Winter on Thee Facebooks

I Hate Records website

 

Pale Heart, Jungeland

pale heart jungleland

Semi-retroist Southern heavy blues boogie, some tight flourish of psychedelia, and the occasional foray into broader territory, Stuttgart three-piece Pale Heart‘s StoneFree debut long-player, Junegleland is striking in its professionalism and, where some bands might sacrifice audio fidelity at the altar of touching on a heavy ’70s aesthetic, guitarist/vocalist Marc Bauer, key-specialist Nico Bauer and drummer Sebastian Neumeier (since replaced by Marvin Schaber) present their work in crisp fashion, letting the construction of the songs instead define the classicism of their influence. Low end is filled out by Moog where bass might otherwise be, and in combination with Hammond and Fender Rhodes and other synth, there’s nothing as regard missing frequencies coming from Jungleland, the nine songs of which vary in their character but are universally directed toward honing a modern take on classic heavy, informed as it is by Southern rock, hard blues and the tonal warmth of yore. A 50-minute debut is no minor ask of one’s audience in an age of fickle Bandcamp attentions, but cuts like the 12-minute “Transcendence” have a patience and character that’s entrancing without trickery of effects.

Pale Heart on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Slowbro, Nothings

Slowbro Nothings

UK instrumentalist three-piece Slowbro‘s full-length debut, Nothings, brings forth eight tracks and 51 minutes of heavy-ended sludge rock notable for the band’s use of dueling eight-string guitars instead of the standard guitar/bass setup. How on earth does something like that happen? I don’t know. Maybe Sam Poole turned to James Phythian one day and was like, “Hey, I got two eight-string guitars. So, band?” and then a band happened. Zeke Martin — and kudos to him on not being intimidated by all those strings — rounds out on drums and together the trio embark on cuts like “Sexlexia” (a very sexy learning disability, indeed) and “Broslower,” which indeed chugs out at a considerably glacial pace, and “Fire, Fire & Fire,” which moves from noise rock to stonerly swing with the kind of aplomb that can only be conjured by those who don’t give a shit about style barriers. It’s got its ups and downs, but as Nothings — the title-track of which quickly cuts to silence and stays there until a final crash — rounds out with “Pisscat” and the eight-strings go ever so slightly post-rock, it’s hard not to appreciate the willful display of fuckall as it happens. It’s a peculiar kind of charm that makes it both charming and peculiar.

Slowbro on Thee Facebooks

Creature Lab Records website

 

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

Roadburn 2019: Thou to be Artist-in-Residence; Cave In, Daughters, Messa, Ulcerate and More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 banner

Oh, Roadburn. Even after all these years, you continue to be the stuff of daydreams. In some of my grimmest hours of self-loathing and if-you-need-me-I’ll-be-sticking-a-t-shirt-in-the-muffler-and-listening-to-Anathema-in-the-car fetishizing, I think of the sun shining through the henge of Weirdo Canyon and press on toward another April to come. You are the center of every year and you continue to inspire. As exhausting as you are — and you are — you are a spiritual rejuvenation that is unparalleled in my experience. I consider myself fortunate and a richer person for having you in my life.

Here’s only a small part of why. If you get it, you get it. Tickets are on sale Oct. 4. They’ll go. Don’t miss them:

More names for Roadburn 2019 – including Artist In Residence; ticket onsale date confirmed.

– CAVE IN to play Roadburn 2019
– OLD MAN GLOOM return to the festival
– THOU confirmed as Artist In Residence
– Plus more…

CAVE IN

We are thrilled to confirm that CAVE IN will be performing at Roadburn. At the 2018 edition of Roadburn, Stephen Brodsky and Adam McGrath paid a moving tribute to bandmate Caleb Scofield who died the previous month, with an acoustic set of covers and CAVE IN tracks. As the audience and band members alike found catharsis through music, we wouldn’t have begrudged them one bit if this performance was the closest we ever got to CAVE IN at Roadburn.

When whispers reached us that CAVE IN would potentially be open to a Roadburn set for 2019 – our interest was well and truly piqued. Some months later, we’re beyond delighted to say it’s true – it’s really happening.

Stephen Brodsky comments:

“Without question, it’s a high honor of artistic merit to perform at Roadburn. Members of CAVE IN have had the fortune of playing with other bands/projects in years past. Seems only a matter of time that we’d do a proper set at one of the best festivals on the planet devoted to forward-thinking music. We hope you’ll join us for a celebratory sonic lift-off into Roadburn 2019.”

CAVE IN will perform on Saturday, 13 April.

OLD MAN GLOOM

Since OLD MAN GLOOM last played Roadburn in 2014, a lot has changed. Later that year they released The Ape of God, and The Ape of God… a pair of identically named albums which were challenging in all the right ways, and a few of the wrong ways too.

Following the death of bassist, Caleb Scofield, earlier this year, OLD MAN GLOOM vowed to continue what they had already started. Stephen Brodsky will be handling bass duties for this performance, and in turn Nate Newton will be taking on the role for Cave In’s set. This collaborative trip across the pond is made by a group of friends united by love and a desire to celebrate the life of Caleb. To that effect, OLD MAN GLOOM promise a special set at Roadburn and more details will be available in due course.

OLD MAN GLOOM will perform on Sunday, 14 April.

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE: THOU

There are a few pretty immovable parts of Roadburn these days; traditions that we maintain to showcase the best and brightest in our little world. One of these cornerstones is our Artist In Residence – a band or solo artist who will perform multiple times across the weekend, and with each set they showcase a different facet of their creativity. Past artists in residence include Earthless, Gnod and Misþyrming

The choice for 2019 was… easy. If there’s one band who have surpassed themselves – and arguably many of their peers – in terms of creative output this year, it’s THOU. They will play four times across the weekend; there will be a collaborative set, a covers set, an acoustic set, and a Magus era set. What exact form those performances take, and the details of them will unfold between now and… well, the moment they step on stage for each of those specific sets.

THOU will perform on each day of the festival.

CURATED: HENRIK PALM

The first artist out of the bag for Tomas Lindberg’s The Burning Darkness curated event at Roadburn 2019 is none other than HENRIK PALM. Tomas explains his choice:

“His name should ring a bell with everybody into anything heavier in our beloved alternative underground scene. He has been a part of seminal bands such as In Solitude and Ghost, and also more “off the map” bands such as the groundbreaking Pig Eyes.

“When I finally got to see him live some time ago, the performance just blew me away. Be sure to not miss out on this. It’s a must see show.”

HENRIK PALM will perform on Saturday, April 13 as part of Tomas Lindberg’s The Burning Darkness curated event.

ALSO ANNOUNCED:

Chaotic shapeshifters DAUGHTERS will make their Roadburn debut

DRAB MAJESTY will transcend time and space at Roadburn 2019

Prepare for a brain-altering, bone-shifting experience with ULCERATE

IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT will exclusively perform tracks from their recent release Vile Luxury

GOLD return to Roadburn and will showcase new material and launch their new album

WOLVENNEST will perform Void in full on the Main Stage with special guest musicians

MESSA will take us on a transcendent journey

Poland’s MORD’A’STIGMATA to crush all hope when they play Roadburn 2019.

TICKETS:

Tickets for Roadburn 2019 will go on sale on Thursday, October 4. They will be available to purchase in person from Sounds Tilburg record store (from 6pm) for those in the vicinity. For those further afield, tickets will be available from Ticketmaster.nl from 8pm CEST/ 7pm BST/ 2pm EDT. We recommend setting up a Ticketmaster.nl account in advance.

Tickets will be priced as follows:
3 days ticket €181 + €4,50 service fee
4 days ticket €204 + €4,50 service fee
Day ticket (Thu, Fri or Sat) €62 + 4,50 service fee
Sunday ticket €55,50 + €4,50 service fee

News regarding the the new luxury cabins at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park, and information regarding the 2019 Urban Campsite in Tilburg will be available ahead of tickets going on sale.

The artists performing at Roadburn 2019 are:
Birds In Row
Cave In
Curator: Tomas Lindberg
Daughters
Drab Majesty
Gold
Gore
Have A Nice Life
Heilung
Henrik Palm
Imperial Triumphant
Louise Lemón
Messa
Midnight
Mord’a’Stigmata
Old Man Gloom
Seven That Spells
Sleep
Thou
Ulcerate
Vile Creature
Wolvennest

https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival/
http://www.twitter.com/Roadburnfest
http://www.instagram.com/roadburnfest
http://www.roadburn.com

Stephen Brodsky & Adam McGrath, Tribute to Caleb Scofield at Roadburn 2018

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

Thou to Release Magus LP Aug. 31; Three EPs Also Coming; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Looks like it’ll be a glut of new Thou by the time summer is over. In addition to the promised new long-player, which as it turns out is titled Magus, the Baton Rouge sonic extremists have three different-sounding EPs in the works, crafted from various influences along the way. Sounds… prolific? I don’t know. Does anyone doubt Thou can pull this off? Anyone who’s heard them before? They’re like one of the most innovative sludge bands of their generation. Sure they can do an EP of dark grunge. They’d do showtunes and make them heavy.

PR wire sends aong rince emails:

thou magus

Thou Announce New Full-Length Album ‘Magus’ Coming August 31st on Sacred Bones Records

Unveil New Single “The Changeling Prince”

Three EPs To Be Released Ahead of Full-Length

Thou have announced their return with new full-length, ‘Magus’. With the impending release of ‘Magus’, the band have decided to take a different approach and release three EPs ahead of the full-length, each of which the band note “are all a complete sonic departure from ‘Magus’ and from each other…”.

Sacred Bones Records is proud to present the new album, ‘Magus’, Thou’s first full-length since 2014’s Heathen. In the months leading into the new album, Thou will be releasing three drastically different EPs: The House Primordial on Raw Sugar, Inconsolable on Community Records, and Rhea Sylvia on Deathwish, Inc. Each record will focus on a particular sound-noisy drone, quiet acoustic, and melodic grunge-all of which is incorporated into the new LP, subsumed in the band’s more standard doom metal.

While sonically, ‘Magus’ may be a continuation of Heathen, thematically it stands as a stark rebuttal, a journey beyond the principles of pleasure and pain. It is more the culmination of these distinct EPs, which all orbit some internal black hole. FFO alienation, absurdity, boredom, futility, decay, the tyranny of history, the vulgarities of change, awareness as agony, reason as disease.

Though often lumped in with New Orleans sludge bands like Eyehategod and Crowbar, Thou shares a more spiritual kinship with ’90s proto-grunge bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden (all of whom they’ve covered extensively, both in the studio and onstage). The band’s aesthetic and political impulses reflect the obscure’90s DIY hardcore punk found on labels like Ebullition, Vermiform, and Crimethinc. From 2004 through 2016, the band has released four full-length albums, six EPs (some bordering on full lengths), two collaboration records with The Body, and enough material spread out over splits to make up another four or five LPs.

‘Magus’ is available August 31st on Sacred Bones Records. For more details and pre-order information, check here.

Thou
‘Magus’
Sacred Bones
August 31, 2018

1 – Inward
2 – My Brother Caliban
3 – Transcending Dualities
4 – The Changeling Prince
5 – Sovereign Self
6 – Divine Will
7 – In the Kingdom of Meaning
8 – Greater Invocation of Disgust
9 – Elimination Rhetoric
10 – The Law Which Compels
11 – Supremacy

https://www.instagram.com/thou_band/
http://noladiy.org/thou/
https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/products/sbr205-thou-magus

Thou, “The Changeling Prince”

Tags: , , , , ,

Roadburn 2018 Announces Boris Playing Absolutego, Godflesh Playing Selfless, Hooded Menace Playing Fulfill the Curse, Commissioned Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising Collaboration, and Much More

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Well, here’s Roadburn 2018 wishing you happy holidays as pretty much only Roadburn can. With Boris and Stephen O’Malley playing Absolutego in full, a one-off collaboration between Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising kicking off the festival, additional whole-record performances from Godflesh and Hooded Menace, a European debut from Khemmis, plus the likes of Thou & The Body, Motorpsycho, Fuoco Fatuo, Forgotten Tomb, Wolfbrigade and of course a completely overwhelming ton of others. So yeah, happy holidays from Roadburn, I guess. Probably even happier if you already have your tickets for next April.

If you don’t, gadzooks, I hear it’s the holidays.

From the PR wire:

roadburn 2018 new flyer

Further artists confirmed for 2018 edition of Roadburn Festival; including details of specially commissioned performance

– Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu collaborate on commissioned project, Waste of Space Orchestra
– Boris join forces with Stephen O’Malley for Absolutego performance
– Jacob Bannon adds Godflesh, Motorpsycho, Thou x The Body and Forgotten Tomb to his curation
– Justin K Broadrick and Kevin Martin unite as Zonal, with Moor Mother
– Hooded Menace to play Fulfill The Curse in its entirety

COMMISSIONED PROJECT: WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA

Artistic Director Walter Hoeijmakers commented:

“Roadburn has always been about bringing people together, creating a network where the line between friend, fan, performer and artist is blurred. The very foundation of Roadburn is the community that it is built upon, around, and within. Alongside this, Roadburn has always sought to push the boundaries of creativity and expression.

These two defining facets of Roadburn have been brought together for a brand new project – or rather, two brand new projects – for 2018. For the first time, we have commissioned a two groups of entirely separate musicians to create music to be performed specifically at Roadburn. Today we’re thrilled to announce the first of those groups of musicians.”

Familiar to most Roadburners, Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu are combining their forces to write and perform a new concept piece especially for Roadburn 2018. The collaboration will be titled the Waste of Space Orchestra.

The performance will include ten musicians onstage plus an original video accompaniment, designed to tell a parallel story with the music. The ten-part, one hour piece is a dive into the consciousnesses of three beings – all of whom are on a search for deeper truths in comprehending reality.

The Waste of Space Orchestra performance will open the main stage on the first day of Roadburn 2018 – Thursday, April 19.

BORIS AND STEPHEN O’MALLEY PERFORMING ABSOLUTEGO

It was Absolutego that kickstarted everything for Boris in 1996 and put that strange little band from Tokyo named after a Melvins song on the map. If you further exercise your memory, you will surely recall that Absolutego was – above everything – a drone album, one single track that took the listener on a strange, intense and very dark trip.

We’ve invited Boris to come and perform that whole Absolutego giant of sound, and they said yes. Joining them for this exclusive, one off performance is none other than Stephen O’Malley.

Boris with Stephen O’Malley will play Absolutego on Saturday, April 21 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

JACOB BANNON’S CURATION

MOTORPSYCHO

“When discussing with Walter potential artists that fit the experimental spirit of Roadburn Festival, we both landed on the idea of Motorpsycho. I was first exposed to the band through their Demon Box album and have attempted to follow their unique twists and turns since. Their output is legendary and their need for experimentation has been inspiring to follow over the years. It is a true honor to help bring this diverse voice to the Roadburn audience.”

– Jacob Bannon.

GODFLESH

As part of Jacob Bannon’s curation, Godflesh will perform their groundbreaking album Selfless at Roadburn Festival 2018.

“I first experienced Godflesh when I picked up the Grindcrusher compilation from Earache Records as a teenager. The otherworldly power of Streetcleaner effected me in a way that I still find hard to describe. Since then I have been an avid follower of all music that Justin creates. Though I celebrate the expansive Broadrick catalog as a whole, it is his forays into melody under the Godflesh name I really connect with. Selfless as is an album that has everything for me. Punishing heaviness, incredible hooks, and limitless emotional depth. It is a true honor that they have agreed to play this album in its entirety at Roadburn 2018.”

– Jacob Bannon.

CURATION: THOU X THE BODY

“Since their inception I’ve been following Thou. Their restlessness and drive for experimentation has been inspiring to follow. The same goes for The Body. They’ve been such an incredible band to watch evolve from release to release. When they joined together on their Released From Love and You Whom I Have Always Hated collaborations I was floored. Together, they amplify the best parts of each band’s individual output. Making some of the heaviest and most intense music of the last few years. This collaboration is a must listen and perfect fit for Roadburn Festival.”

– Jacob Bannon

CURATION: FORGOTTEN TOMB

“I was first exposed to Forgotten Tomb through their incredible Springtime Depression album. To me, Herr Morbid’s vision was immediately appealing. Carrying a relatable sadness and inescapable darkness unequaled by other artists of the time. Since then I’ve been following his growth as an artist and the evolution of the band. I feel that artistically Forgotten Tomb are a perfect fit for the core Roadburn audience. They are a musical black hole that claims everything around it. I can’t wait to experience their set at Roadburn Festival 2018.”

– Jacob Bannon

ZONAL WITH MOOR MOTHER

Justin K. Broadrick is such an integral part of the Roadburn backbone by now that he needs little introduction. When it was announced that Justin and Kevin Martin, aka The Bug – who already made himself part of Roadburn with a staggering show alongside Dylan Carlson of Earth this year – would reunite under the name Zonal (a spiritual continuation from their iconic Techno Animal duo) it registered on our always-on radar. They will be joined by Camae Ayewa, the musician, activist and poet from Philadelphia who also goes by the name Moor Mother.

HOODED MENACE

Since their earliest rumblings, Finnish cult doomsters Hooded Menace have held an astonishingly high profile in the underground realms. Their uniquely energetic take on the classic hybrid of doom and death metal has been invigorating audience since the release of their 2008 classic, Fulfill the Curse. We’re thrilled to announce that the band will perform this classic album in full at Roadburn 2018.

ALSO CONFIRMED

Classic heavy doom from Khemmis

Move or be moved by Wolfbrigade 

Tribulation’s Jonathan Hultén will haunt Het Patronaat

Worship will perform Last Tape Before Doomsday in its entirety

Get sucked into a cold, dark void by Fuoco Fatuo 

Welcome the wild and unrestrained spirit of Alda

Zuriaake will be the first Chinese band to perform at Roadburn Festival.

Some nightmares take us towards Vampillia

VMO will prove they are more than “just” a side project

Head out on an exhilarating ride with Watter

Allow yourself to shape shift with Hail Spirit Noir

Watch Kairon; Irse! defy time and space

Dive headfirst into Hortes dreamy slumber

Old Tower make their live debut at Roadburn 2018.

TICKET ONSALE INFORMATION
Roadburn 2018 tickets are on sale now. 3 and 4 day tickets are currently available, with day tickets going on sale at a later date.

4-day-tickets €198,40 (including €3,40 service fees)
3-day-tickets €175,40 (including €3,40 service fees)

Camping tickets are also available to purchase, with additional options (such as Festipis and camper vans) also possible. This year the urban campsite will be in a new location – but still within walking distance to the 013 venue – providing a comfortable and affordable option for Roadburn attendees.

Click here for more information on tickets and the campsite

https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival/
http://www.twitter.com/Roadburnfest
http://www.instagram.com/roadburnfest
http://www.roadburn.com

Roadburn 2018 Fourth Announcement Video

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

Many Waters: Benefit Compilation Released for Baton Rouge Flooding

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Yesterday, members of Thou and Thrill Jockey Records issued the Many Waters: Baton Rouge Flood Relief 2017 benefit compilation. Proceeds go to the Greater Baton Rouge Good Bank in the wake of the flooding that took place in the area last summer. It’s 33 tracks long, and in addition to Thou taking on Neil Young, it’s got live stuff from Sumac and Mike Scheidt and Golden Void doing a cover of The Pretty Things, as well as art by Becky Cloonan. Hard enough to argue with that if the cause was lining a pocket, let alone feeding flood victims.

Give them your money:

va many waters baton rouge flood relief 2017

Many Waters – Baton Rouge Flood Benefit Compilation produced by Thou

Many Waters is a new compilation produced by Thou with help from Thrill Jockey to be released on January 30th, with proceeds going to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank to assist their efforts in aiding those affected by the Louisiana floods of August 2016. The compilation features a range of exclusive tracks from acclaimed metal acts as well as Louisiana DIY mainstays, including The Body & Full of Hell covering Devo, Thou covering Neil Young, Golden Void covering Pretty Things, special live tracks from SUMAC and Old Man Gloom, and a solo live recording by Mike Scheidt of Yob.

From Joshua Nee, drummer of Thou:
“I spent the better part of three weeks after the flood driving around neighborhoods looking for homes to help out. Every day after work and pretty much all day on the weekends was spent gutting damaged homes. A practice space we had been sharing with a slew of other bands was totally wrecked, and countless bands I know had their spaces and equipment destroyed.

When Mitch was getting this benefit together, he asked what organization would make sense to donate to. I told him the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, as they had been really amazing and helpful during the aftermath of the flood, and they themselves had even been completely flooded out.

I was thrilled to have so many local Louisiana bands on the compilation. All of those bands come from the same DIY community based background. Punk, pop, metal, whatever. They represent all kinds of music, but they all come from a similar, supportive culture.”

Tracklisting:
1. Cikada – 30 Dollar Bag 02:45
2. The Body & Full of Hell – Gates of Steel 03:44
3. Thou – Don’t Let It Bring You Down 04:23
4. Solid Giant – Dead Souls 06:57
5. Christworm – Mad World 06:33
6. Aseethe – Void 13:41
7. SUMAC – Hollow King (Live) 15:04
8. Thrush – Effete 04:44
9. Empty Vessels – Above Ground 02:41
10. The World Is A Vampire – Christian Brothers 05:28
11. Hand Grenade Job – Threat Assessment 03:32
12. Sandworm – Taverner 01:22
13. Old Man Gloom – Zozobra (I-III) [Live] 12:23
14. Recluse – Deluge 01:31
15. Cajun Clam – Seer Sucker Suits 02:46
16. Pudge – Moo Moo 01:39
17. Heavy Mantle – Weights and Measures 01:18
18. I’m Fine – Brindle Party Plus One 03:52
19. Donovan Wolfington – Slower Loris 03:28
20. Pope – The Ballad of Little Stevie 03:03
21. Black Abba – Demons 01:52
22. Gland – Kratom 8r 01:56
23. Mea Culpa – Ghost 03:17
24. All People – Ruff Dreams 02:30
25. Caddywhompus – First Date Anthem Part 2 01:32
26. Wildhoney – Thin Air (Drew Scott Remix) 03:33
27. Sharks’ Teeth – Melting Belief 03:58
28. Ize – Heart on Your Sleeve 04:01
29. A Living Soundtrack – Expanding Consolidation 04:57
30. Treadles – Feral Human 01:57
31. Mike Scheidt – Throw off the Dark 04:32
32. Proud/Father – La Paz en la Aqua 06:21
33. Golden Void – Sickle Clowns 04:08

Certain tracks were mastered by metal extraordinaire James Plotkin, while the whole compilation features mastering donated by Keith Souza and Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets. Artwork was donated by Becky Cloonan, renowned for her work with DC and Marvel Comics.

https://thrilljockeyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/many-waters-baton-rouge-flood-relief-2017
http://thrilljockey.com/products/many-waters-baton-rouge-flood-relief-2017

Many Waters: Baton Rouge Flood Relief 2017 compilation trailer

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

Day of the Shred 2015 Announces Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

day of the shred banner

Thief Presents continues to throw down a gauntlet with its festivals. It seemed fair after so thoroughly upping the game earlier this year with Psycho CA that big things would be in store for that fest’s autumnal counterpart, the Day of the Shred, but when you come out of the gate like it’s no big deal and be like, “Oh hey Captain Beyond is playing our fest year whatever,” you’re officially killing it. You’ve got John Garcia, Yawning Man and Ides of Gemini together, which makes me wonder if Zun won’t make an appearance, and Spirit Caravan, Elder and Crowbar, along with a righteous ton of others, up to and including Portugal’s Black Bombaim. It gets a hearty and heartfelt fucking a.

Details from the PR wire:

day of the shred 2015

Day of the Shred Festival to Light Up Southern California November 1

Dia de los Muertos-themed Concert Event to Feature Performances from Captain Beyond, Spirit Caravan, Crowbar, John Garcia, Mondo Generator, Torche and More

This fall, The Day of the Shred Festival returns to Southern California, presenting a diverse lineup of heavy music acts. Billed as an experience “to gather the living and remember the dead”, The Day of the Shred will take place on November 1 (Dia de los Muertos) in Santa Ana, CA. Celebrating monolithic riffs, skateboarding and the souls of the departed, the second annual festival will be an all day, all ages event. Presented by Thief – also the creators of the annual Psycho California Festival — The Day of the Shred will feature headliners Captain Beyond, Spirit Caravan, Crowbar, Torche, John Garcia (of Kyuss fame), Elder, Saviours, Mondo Generator and more.

Tickets for the 2015 Day of the Shred Festival are on sale now at this location. Early bird general admission tickets are $59 (+ tax) and a limited VIP ticket package (which includes express entry, a signed festival screen print, access to the artist lounge, complimentary microbrew and snacks, a limited edition record bag and an exclusive Thief X Obey concert shirt) is also available.
What: Day of the Shred Fest 2015
Where: The Observatory, Santa Ana, CA
Time: 2PM – 2AM
Tickets: Eventbrite.com/e/day-of-the-shred-2015-tickets-17017683349

The just-announced lineup for The Day of the Shred 2015 is as follows:

CAPTAIN BEYOND
SPIRIT CARAVAN
CROWBAR
JOHN GARCIA
MONDO GENERATOR
TORCHE
ELDER
SAVIOURS
OXBOW
FULL OF HELL
THE BODY
YAWNING MAN
KOWLOON WALLED CITY
BLACK BOMBAIM
FIGHT AMP
THOU
NIGHT DEMON
IDES OF GEMINI
MOS GENERATOR
GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST
WHITE MANNA
POOBAH
COMMUNION
BLACKWITCH PUDDING
DUEL
Stay tuned in to The Day of the Shred Fest via the Facebook event page and follow THE DAY OF THE SHRED on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/dayoftheshred
https://twitter.com/thiefpresents
https://instagram.com/thiefpresents/
www.DayoftheShred.com

Weedeater, “Gimme Back My Bullets” Live at Day of the Shred 2014

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

Roadburn 2015: Sets from Bongripper, SubRosa, Thou, Acid Witch, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, KEN mode, Death Hawks and Mugstar

Posted in audiObelisk on June 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

bongripper at roadburn 2015 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was especially eager to see Bongripper at the Afterburner at this year’s Roadburn. They had played a couple nights before as well (that set is streaming here), performing their 2014 album, Miserable (review here), in its entirety, but I’d had to miss that set and knew going into the fest that I wanted to see them one way or another follow-up on the performance they gave in 2012, which had been chest-shakingly heavy.

No regrets, of course. They proved to be devastating and I’m anxious to revisit the set today via the newly released live stream. Also included in this latest of the four-so-far batches is a bunch of stuff I missed, including two of the most-talked-about bands of the entirety of Roadburn 2015: SubRosa and Thou. The former outfit played the first day and I continued to hear about them through to Sunday, while Thou‘s atmosludge devastated the crowd at Het Patronaat and were bandied about as one of the highlights of the whole fest.

Along with performances by Acid WitchDeath HawksMugstar (another one whose name I kept hearing), Admiral Sir Cloudesley ShovellDer Weg Einer Freiheit, and KEN mode, this makes for a pretty diverse round of streams. If you get to dig into any or all of them, I hope you enjoy:

Acid Witch – Live at Roadburn 2015

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell – Live at Roadburn 2015

Bongripper – Live at Roadburn 2015 (Afterburner)

Death Hawks – Live at Roadburn 2015

Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Live at Roadburn 2015

Kenmode – Live at Roadburn 2015

Mugstar- Live at Roadburn 2015

Subrosa – Live at Roadburn 2015

Thou – Live at Roadburn 2015

Special thanks to Walter as always for letting me host the streams. To read all of this year’s Roadburn coverage, click here. For the first, second and third batches of streams, click here and then click here and then click here.

Roadburn’s website

Marcel Van De Vondervoort on Thee Facebooks

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