Great Electric Quest, Chapter II: Of Earth: Molten Rock

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

Great Electric Quest Chapter II of Earth

Should you happen to be the banner-raising type, you’ll want to get your hoisting arm ready for Great Electric Quest‘s second album. Dubbed Chapter II: Of Earth and released as their first offering in alliance with Totem Cat Records, the seven-track/36-minute long-player follows on the heels of 2016’s well-regarded Chapter I (discussed here) and a 2017 split single with Lords of Beacon House (review here) on Glory or Death Records, and presents a clear-headed vision of classic metal as filtered through a modern West Coast approach to ’70s heavy rock. With production and mixing by Duel guitarist Jeff Henson, engineering by Dan Frick, and mastering by Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed, the San Diego-based four-piece continue to avoid the boogie-rock mindset of which their hometown seems to be the epicenter, and instead distinguish themselves through a harder thrust throughout songs like opener “Seeker of the Flame” and “Anubis” and “Wicked Hands,” ultimately having more in common with Ozzy or Dio solo records than Black Sabbath itself — and more with Judas Priest than any of them — however much groove might lie beneath.

Plenty does, incidentally. With drummer Daniel “MuchoDrums” Velasco making his debut with the band and bassist Jared Bliss — who lives up to his surname with the low-end performance on the bouncing penultimate rocker “The Madness” — underscoring the riffs of guitarist Buddy Donner and the prone-to-soaring vocals of Tyler “T-Sweat” DingvellChapter II: Of Earth is thick not just in its vibe, but in tone as well. And while it’s not necessarily surprising that the guitar would be leading the charge throughout much of the material, Donner acquits himself well both in the head-spinning shred, nodding verses and later gallop of “Wicked Hands” and in giving room to the accompanying Hammond organ on relatively patient closer “Heart of the Sun,” one of several moments where Great Electric Quest seems to be driving toward and reaching 1983’s headbanger ideal of “epic,” as evidenced by a continued focus on songwriting rather than the jammy exploration that, again, so typifies San Diego’s heavy underground at this point.

If Chapter II: Of Earth has anything in common with the output of Great Electric Quest‘s Sun Dog compatriots, it’s a party atmosphere. Their edge might be inherently more aggressive because of the metallic elements at play, but there’s still a good chance these dudes skate. In Donner‘s tone, in the smoothness of rhythm from Velasco and Bliss, and in Dingvell‘s gotta-hear-it Halfordian throat scorch early in “Anubis,” there’s still the sense that Great Electric Quest stand ready at a moment’s notice to throw down an inhuman(e) amount of hooch, smoke whatever’s handy and have a good time doing it. Then, you know, get up on stage and crush as they will. It doesn’t mean they don’t take what they’re doing seriously — they’ve put in enough time on the road since Chapter I that it’s clear their intentions are to melt brains with songcraft as much as any other method — just that in listening to Chapter II: Of Earth, its spirit isn’t at all staid as one finds with some traditional heavy metal.

Great Electric Quest

Put it this way: if riffs are beer, then Great Electric Quest is the craft movement. They’re not the ones sticking to the 500-year-old established tenets of purity. They’re the ones turning those rules on their head, getting a colorful-ass label — in this case, a righteous Adam Burke cover painting — and punching you in the face with hops. And the loosening of stylistic reins can be heard not just in the blurring of lines between rock and metal on “Seeker of the Flame” at the album’s outset — more Priest there — or in “Heart of the Sun” on the opposite end, but perhaps most especially in the two-part “Of Earth” saga itself, which, broken into the six-minute “Of Earth I” and the subsequent, eight-minute “Of Earth II,” presents more of a narrative and conceptual structure that not only carries through the stylistic meld and allows Velasco a snare-centered solo beginning in the first half of the first part, but brims with end-of-the-set vitality in a way that adds a sense of adventure to the record as its second and third tracks respectively.

To wit, “Of Earth I” picks up from that drum solo after hitting the four-minute mark and is led by the guitar to a Manowar-style over-the-top rock finish followed by a highlight solo from Donner that provides the transition into the more mid-paced intro to “Of Earth II.” Live, this must seem like a tour de force, and on the album, the impression isn’t all that different. The central tempo that emerges from “Of Earth II” is faster and its descending vocal melody a bit more severe, but the metallic fist-pumping is prevalent until just before six minutes in, when they turn to a quieter groove, layers of guitar working over the solid bass and drum progression as Dingvell holds over the energy in his delivery from earlier in the track, locking step with the guitar as the track enters its final measures with a last-second hook before a cymbal wash closes out, to be followed by “Anubis” — presumably on vinyl, this is where the side split happens — as though nothing ever happened. I won’t call it progressive because of the potential for misunderstanding where Great Electric Quest are coming from aesthetically, but the Chapter II: Of Earth two-parter title-cut is remarkably thoughtful in its execution.

Following, the one-two-three punch of “Anubis,” “Wicked Hands” and “The Madness” passes quickly, despite the variety of style between them, and warrants multiple listens as a section of its own before giving way to “Heart of the Sun,” which speaks to a similar mindset as “Of Earth I” and “Of Earth II” despite being on its own wavelength in terms of mood. From “Seeker of the Flame” onward, one of Great Electric Quest‘s greatest strengths is the front-to-back flow of Chapter II: Of Earth, which is something that their toying with different structures throughout helps immensely, but much like the care put into the mix in terms of giving the guitar, bass and drums standout moments while tasking Dingvell with establishing himself as a true classic metal frontman — he does — likewise attention seems to have been paid to each level of the presentation, from tones to the ordering of the tracklisting. Coupled with the deceptive nuance of the sound itself, all of these elements come together to make Chapter II: Of Earth both a satisfying listen and an important, willful step forward for Great Electric Quest. It’s growth they’ve actively made happen through touring and tightening their approach, and if this is the sound of that work paying off, then by all means, raise the banners high.

Great Electric Quest on Thee Facebooks

Great Electric Quest on Bandcamp

Great Electric Quest webstore

Totem Cat Records on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

Totem Cat Records on Bandcamp

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Great Electric Quest Set July 6 Release for Chapter II; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

great electric quest

In discussion for over a year and preceded by the band’s first full US tour and their signing to Totem Cat RecordsGreat Electric Quest‘s Chapter II will be released on July 6. To herald its arrival, the San Diego four-piece are streaming the song “Seeker of the Flame” now, and it’s got all the classic metal vibes one could ask for coming off of the band’s 2016 debut album, Chapter I (discussed here), as they continue to eschew their hometown’s penchant for heavy psych jams and instead raise horns high in a salute to timeless riffing and an aggressive spirit. Dudes have put in some real time on tour, and it seems like it’s about to bring them to a new level of notoriety and direction.

They kill it, in other words. Record’s good. Keep an eye out:

Great Electric Quest Chapter II

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST: new LP “Chapter II” out July 6th on Totem Cat Records

San Diego’s shredding heroes GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST return with their aptly-titled second LP “Chapter II”, a hook-laden heavy metal odyssey out July 6th on Totem Cat Records!

Sonic storytellers GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST are true merchants of Rock and Roll and Heavy Metal taking listeners on a journey into an ever expanding world of captivating characters and allegories…

“Chapter II”, the long anticipated 2nd LP coming from GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST bring their journey to flat out gargantuan proportions. Barn burners like “Seeker of the Flame”, “Anubis” and “Wicked Hands” set fire to the torch that illuminates the Epic title track “Of Earth”; a 15 minute saga full of “Creation, “Destruction”, and the resolution of “Ancient Machine”. The penultimate track “The Madness” is a gritty ode to classic riff rock and the closing track “Heart of the Son”, simply unites.

Riffage, solos, rhythms, and lyrics along with the production of Jeff Henson (Duel) and Tony Reed (Mos Generator) combine to bring a bigness and fullness of color that elevates this album into upper echelons. Adam Burke’s cover art is a mind blowing combination of bad ass and fun as the four members are represented in an almost superhero like fashion protecting planet Earth with their Rock and Roll as they ride over her. “Chapter II” is here and so is GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST, delivering the whole package with an album that should resonate for years to come.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Seeker Of The Flame
2. Of Earth I
3. Of Earth II
4. Anubis
5. Wicked Hands
6. The Madness
7. Heart Of The Son

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST is
Tyler “T-Sweat” Dingvell – Vocals
Buddy Donner – Guitar
Daniel “MuchoDrums” Velasco – Drums
Jared Bliss – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/electricquest/
https://electricquest.bandcamp.com/
http://greatelectricquest.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/totemcatrecords/
totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://totemcatrecords.bandcamp.com/

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Cloud Catcher & Crypt Trip Announce ‘Wheels of Fire 2018’ Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I’m just going to assume ‘Wheels of Fire’ is like ‘Chariots of Fire’ but with a much, much, much better soundtrack. The tour will unite Denver headspinners Cloud Catcher with Texas heavy rockers Crypt Trip, whose debut on Heavy Psych Sounds, Rootstock, is out next week. Presented by Hi-Wattage Booking, it looks like a healthy run, covering a goodly portion of California from north to south before swinging back to Texas and letting Cloud Catcher — still supporting last year’s righteous Trails of Kozmic Dust (review here) on Totem Cat play a gig in Oklahoma City on their way back to Colorado.

A little surprising they’re not hitting up the Pacific Northwest — Seattle, Portland, etc. — this trip, but Cloud Catcher were there last Fall, so it’s not exactly like the ground hasn’t been covered. Still, this seems like it’ll be a good time and I can’t help but wonder at this point if Cloud Catcher don’t have some new material they might be trying out on the road. If you get to see them, let me know.

Here’s the poster and dates:

cloud catcher crypt trip tour

CLOUD CATCHER & CRYPT TRIP
WHEELS OF FIRE 2018 TOUR

May 19 Denver, CO Hi-Dive
May 21 Salt Lake City, UT Urban Lounge
May 23 Las Vegas, NV Bunkhouse
May 24 Reno, NV Jub Jubs
May 25 Nevada City, CA Coopers Ale House
May 26 San Francisco, CA Thee Parkside
May 27 Sacramento, CA Blue Lamp
May 28 Los Angeles, CA The Griffin
May 29 Long Beach, CA Que Sera
May 30 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick
June 1 San Antonio, TX The Mix
June 2 Austin, TX Hotel Vegas
June 3 Ft. Worth, TX Tin Panther
June 4 Oklahoma City, OK Blue Note (CC ONLY)

Presented by Hi-Wattage Booking

Poster by Christina Hunt http://www.heavymetaltalisman.com

CLOUD CATCHER is:
Rory Rummings – Guitar and Vocals
Kam Wentworth – Bass and Vocals
Jared Soloman Handman – Drums

CRYPT TRIP is
Ryan Lee: Guitar, Vocals, Elec. Piano
Cameron Martin: Drums, Vocals, Perc.
Sam Bryant: Bass

https://cloud-catcher.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cloudcatcherco

https://www.facebook.com/CryptTrip/
https://crypttrip.bandcamp.com/

Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust (2017)

Crypt Trip, Rootsock (2018)

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Dopethrone Announce Euro & US Tours; Transcanadian Anger out May 25; Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dopethrone

They may be the reigning champs of scum sludge Canadian or otherwise, but you can’t accuse Montreal trio Dopethrone of being unproductive. Having just pounded out a few dates around 4/20, the three-piece will embark on a European tour beginning June 22 at Hellfest in France in order to support their new album, Transcanadian Anger, which is out May 25 via Totem Cat Records. When they’re done with that, they’re home for a month — maybe long enough to shower — and then back out in the US for a stint that covers most of the East Coast and finds them playing a Western exclusive at Psycho Las Vegas. Oh, and they’ve got a new video. See what I mean? Dudes keep busy.

I’m not sure I’d be quite so mad if I had so many cool shows coming up alongside the likes of Church of Misery and Sons of Otis, but when you’ve got a thing that works for you, don’t mess with it. And being pissed off certainly works for Dopethrone.

Here’s details from the PR wire and that video:

dopethrone tour posters

DOPETHRONE share NSFW lyric video for “Snort Dagger” ; new album and European & US tour coming

Montréal’s premium sludge merchants DOPETHRONE are back in the game with a NSFW lyric video for their brand new song “Snort Dagger”, streaming now. The band will unleash their fifth album “Transcanadian Anger” this May 25th through Totem Cat Records.

DOPETHRONE plays “Slutch Metal”, a foul Canadian mix of yellow snow, crackhead diarrhea, blood, tears and broken dreams. “Transcanadian Anger” follows in with the trio’s widely acclaimed fourth full-length “Hochelaga” (2015) and pushes their pervasive, filthy brand of sludge metal to its most extreme and intoxicating levels. This is eight punishing tracks of the highest order, a downtuned-as-hell, no-frills-given riff carnage that will entrance both the fans and fiends of sleazy and groovy heaviness overall.

This summer, DOPETHRONE will be hitting the European and North American roads for an extensive tour that will include long-awaited performances at Hellfest (Fr), Stoned From The Underground (DE) and Psycho Las Vegas (US), see dates below:

EUROPEAN TOUR (w/ Bongzilla & Sons Of Otis + *with Church Of Misery)
22.06 – HELLFEST OPEN AIR (FR)*
23.06 – BRUSSELS (BE), Magasin 4* (no Bongzilla)
24.06 – KÖLN (DE), Jungle *
25.06 – EINDHOVEN (NL), Effenaar
26.06 – BRIGHTON (UK), Green Door State
27.06 – BRISTOL (UK), The Fleece
28.06 – BIRMINGHAM (UK), Asylum 2
29.06 – EDINBURGH (UK), La Belle Angèle
30.06 – MANCHESTER (UK), Rebellion Club
01.07 – LONDON (UK), The Underworld
02.07 – UTRECHT (NL), Tivoli De Helling
03.07 – DEVENTER (NL), Burgerweeshuis
04.07 – WIESBADEN (DE), Schlachthof *
05.07 – ROSTOCK (DE), M.A.U
06.07 – GÖTEBORG (SWE), Truckstop Alaska
07.07 – STOCKHOLM (SWE), Kraken
08.07 – OSLO (NOR), Blitz
09.07 – TBA (SWE)
10.07 – COPENHAGEN (DK), KB18
11.07 – HAMBURG (DE), Hafenklang
12.07 – BERLIN (DE), Cassiopeia
13.07 – RED SMOKE FESTIVAL (PL)
14.07 – STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND (DE)
15.07 – BREGENZ (AT), The Between

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR
18.08 – CHICAGO, IL, Reggie’s
19.08 – PSYCHO LAS VEGAS (West exclusive)
20.08 – ALBANY (NY), Paulys Hotel
21.08 – BALTIMORE (MD), Metro Gallery
22.08 – RALEIGH (NC), Pour House
23.08 – SAVANNAH (GA), The Jinx*
24.08 – MEMPHIS (TN), Growlers*
25.08 – SAINT LOUIS (MO), Sinkhole*
26.08 – INDIANAPOLIS (IN), Black Circle Brewery*
27.08 – CANTON (OH), Buzzbin Shop*
28.08 – SCRANTON (PA), Irish Wold Pub*
29.08 – PHILADELPHIA (PA), Kung Fu Necktie*
30.08 – NEW YORK (NY), Saint Vitus Bar*
31.08 – BOSTON (MA), Once*

DOPETHRONE New album “Transcanadian Anger”
Out May 25th on vinyl, CD and digital via Totem Cat Records

All albums for free download on Bandcamp

TRACK LISTING:
1. Planet Meth
2. Wrong Sabbath
3. Killdozer
4. Scuzzgasm
5. Tweak Jabber
6. Snort Dagger
7. Kingbilly Kush
8. Miserabilist

https://www.facebook.com/dopethrone.mthell
https://www.instagram.com/dopethroneband/
https://dopethrone.bandcamp.com/
http://totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com/

Dopethrone, “Snort Dagger” official video

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Great Electric Quest Sign with Totem Cat Records; Premiere Thin Lizzy Cover; Announce Multiple Tours

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

great electric quest totem cat records

Great Electric Quest are not a band who do things small. Some bands, they nibble. These dudes are more about chomp. When they hit the road, they hit it. When they take the stage, they bring a flag to wave, and as anyone who heard their 2016 debut album, Chapter I (discussed here), can attest, their sound follows suit. More headbang than nod, horns thrown, asses kicked, the whole nine.

In other words, they’ve earned the endorsement inherent in signing to Totem Cat Records (see also Spectral HazeCloud CatcherDopethroneKarma to Burn, and so on), and with the list of tour dates below headed to and through SXSW in Austin, Texas, and up the Pacific Coast and into Canada, it looks like they’ll continue to earn it as they get ready to make their debut on the label with their awaited sophomore full-length, Chapter II.

Today, in addition to announcing the label alliance and the tour dates — which, really, would be enough for any single morning, afternoon or evening — Great Electric Quest also premiere their cover of Thin Lizzy‘s “Cold Sweat.” The cut comes from the Glory or Death Records compilation Bow to Your Masters Vol. I: Thin Lizzy, which the label has up for preorder now.

Sound like a lot? Chomp chomp.

Here’s the latest from the PR wire:

great electric quest Anubis compels Tour final -700

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST signs with TOTEM CAT RECORDS, premier “Cold Sweat” contribution for GLORY OR DEATH RECORD’S Thin Lizzy compilation, and Announce ANUBIS COMPELS TOUR double shot SXSW invasion III and Pacific North West Canadian Invasion.

Over the coming months of March and April Great Electric Quest are set to play a ton of premier SXSW festivals, a SXSW official Showcase, and take their high energy performance / Beer Antics into the great North of Canada, while stopping off in some staple Pacific North locations. Hop on the Journey of Rock and Roll and Metal with Great Electric Quest, heavy tunes and good times are a given!

GLORY or DEATH RECORDS
Bow To Your Masters Volume I : THIN LIZZY
Limited DOUBLE LP AVAILABLE FOR PRE- SALE NOW
http://gloryordeathrecords.bigcartel.com/product/bow-to-your-masters-volume-i-thin-lizzy

Track Listing for LP 1 (Downloads available now with Pre-Sale Purchase):
Are you Ready – Mothership
Massacre – Mos Generator
Don’t Believe a Word- White Dog
Suicide – Egypt – Doom
Chinatown – Red Wizard
Thunder and Lightning – KOOK
She Knows – Slow Season
Cold Sweat – Great Electric Quest
Cowboy Song – Goya

Track Listing for LP 2 (Downloads available soon with Pre-Sale Purchase):
It’s Only Money – Wo Fat
Johnny – Worshipper
Jailbreak – DUEL
Emerald – Gygax
Still in Love with You – Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless)
Opium Trail – Jeff Matz (High on Fire), Mark Yalowitz (Zeke), Mike Scheidt (Yob), and more
The Rocker – Bow to Your Masters Supergroup
????? – High On Fire
And more…

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST Live:
SXSW INVASION III
3.7 – Tucson AZ, House of Bards
3.8 – El Paso TX, Rock House Bar & Grill
3.9 – San Angelo TX, Deadhourse
3.11 – Dallas TX, Gas Monkey
3.13 – Austin TX, SXSW Black Smoke Conjuring, Lost Well
3.14 – Austin TX, SXSW Stoner Jam, Spiderhouse Ballroom
3.15 – Austin TX, SXSW Stoner Daze, Texas Mist
3.15 – Houston TX, Acadia Bar
3.16 – Houseton TX, Groove and Vibe Festival
3.16 – Austin TX, SXSW SHOWCASE @ 720 Club
3.17 – San Antonio TX RIPPLE FEST @ Lime Light
3.18 – Marfa Tx, Lost Horse Saloon
3.21 – Tempe AZ, Yucca Tap Room?

PNWC INVASION
4.12 – Carlsbad CA, Boars Crossin’
4.13 – TBA
4.14 – TBA
4.15 – Everett WA, Tony V’s Garage
4.16 – Seattle WA, Central Saloon
4.18 – Spokane WA, The Pin
4.19 – Calgary AB, CANADA 420 Music and Arts Fest @ Distortion
4.20 – Kalispell MT, Rocky Mountain Riff Fest
4.21 – TBA
4.22 – South Lake Tahoe CA, HARD ROCK CASINO Spring Meltdown Metal Fest
4.23 – Long Beach CA, Black Light District Lounge

https://www.facebook.com/electricquest/
https://electricquest.bandcamp.com/
http://greatelectricquest.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/totemcatrecords/
totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://totemcatrecords.bandcamp.com/

Great Electric Quest, “Cold Sweat”

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Quarterly Review: Primitive Man, Black Lung & Nap, Zone Six, Spectral Haze, Cosmic Fall, Epitaph, Disastroid, Mastiff, Demons from the Dungeon Dimension, Liblikas

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

The final round of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review starts now. 60 reviews done. I think if this particular QR session proves anything it’s that come hell or high water, once it’s set, there’s no stopping this train. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but the site was down for half of last week and we’re still getting to 60 reviews from Monday to Monday. That’s not not impressive from where I sit, especially since I spent that downtime going out of my mind trying to get things up and running again while also trying to write posts that I didn’t even know if they were going to happen. But they happened — thanks again, Slevin and Behrang — and here we are. All is well and we can get back to normal hopefully for the rest of this week. Thanks for reading any of this if you did. Let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Primitive Man, Caustic

primitive-man-caustic

Primitive Man’s Caustic is the concept of “heavy” taken to the superlative. It is a 12-track/77-minute onslaught for which no less than absolute hyperbole will suffice. In following-up their 2013 Relapse Records debut, Scorn (review here), a series of splits and 2015’s Home is Where the Hatred Is EP (review here), the Denver trio reign in terror as they make Caustic live up to its name in the crushing tones, feedback of and slow churn of “My Will,” “Commerce” “Tepid,” and “Sugar Hole,” the consuming wave of “Victim,” the blastbeating death assault of “Sterility,” and the biting atmospherics of harsh interludes “Caustic,” “Ash” and “The Weight,” which preface the nine minutes of vague noise that close on “Absolutes,” following the grueling slaughter of “Disfigured” and the rightfully-named 12-minute “Inevitable,” which seems even slower and more weighted somehow than everything before it. On the sheer level of heft for that song alone, it’s time to start thinking about Primitive Man among the heaviest bands in the world. I’m serious. Caustic is an overwhelming masterwork of unbridled extremity, and with it, Primitive Man set a new standard both for themselves and for anyone else who’d dare to try to live up to it in their wake.

Primitive Man on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records webstore

 

Black Lung & Nap, Split

black-lung-nap-split

A heavy blues trio from Baltimore and a progressive boogie outfit from Oldenburg, Germany, might seem like an odd pairing, but by the time the 25 minutes of Black Lung and Nap’s split 12” platter (on Noisolution) are up, the release has come to make its own peculiar kind of sense. In following 2016’s See the Enemy (review here), Black Lung present two new songs in “Strange Seeds” and “Use this Stone” as well we the prior-issued Marvin Gaye cover “Inner City Blues” done in collaboration with rapper Eze Jackson, where Nap answer their debut album, Villa (review here), with the shuffle-into-psychedelia of “Djinn,” the spacious, patient rollout of the airy guitars in “Vorlaut” and the final thrust of “Teer.” Each of the two acts establishes a context for itself quickly – Black Lung brazenly defying theirs in the shift from “Use this Stone” to “Inner City Blues”; Nap expanding between “Djinn” and “Vorlaut” – and though one wouldn’t be likely to mistake one group for the other, their disparate sounds don’t at all hinder the ability of either group to make an impression during their brief time.

Nap on Thee Facebooks

Black Lung on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution webstore

 

Zone Six, Zone Six

zone-six-zone-six

Originally issued in 1998 via Early Birds Records with the lineup of bassist/synthesis/Mellotronist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, guitarist Hans-Peter Ringholz, drummer/keyboardist Claus Bühler and vocalist Jodi Barry, the self-titled debut from German space/krautrock explorationists Zone Six sees something of a redux via Sulatron Records to mark the 20th anniversary of the band’s founding. Eight minutes shorter than the original edition at 51 minutes, the new version whittles down the original 13-track presentation to two vinyl sides – titles: “Side A” (27:04) and “Side B” (24:39) – and drops the vocal tracks entirely to make it a completely instrumental release. That’s a not-insignificant change, of course, but let there be no doubt that it works in terms of highlighting the flow, which as it transitions between what used to be one song and another loses not one step and instead simply becomes an engrossing and multifaceted jam. This is truer perhaps to the band Zone Six have become – if you missed their 2015 full-length Love Monster (review here), it was glorious and it’s not too late to catch up – than the band they started out as, but Zone Six have found a way to make an old release new again, and new Zone Six is never anything to complain about, whatever the occasion.

Zone Six on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records? webstore

 

Spectral Haze, Turning Electric

spectral-haze-turning-electric

Space rock warriors Spectral Haze return after three years in the Gamma Quadrant with Turning Electric via Totem Cat Records, a six-song sophomore outing behind 2014’s I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains (review here) that quickly enters a wormhole of Hawkwindian thrust on opener “The Dawn of the Falcon” – perhaps that’s what’s represented on the glorious Adam Burke cover art – and takes a winding but directed course deeper and deeper into interstellar realms for its duration of what on earth is only six songs and 33 minutes. Each of the intended two vinyl sides boasts a longer track, be it “Cathexis/Mask of Transformation” on side A or “They Live” on side B, but whether it’s in those or shorter rocket boosters like the title-track, “Ajaghandi” or the aforementioned leadoff, the Oslo-based four-piece keep it dreamy and kosmiche even unto the doomlier roll of closer “Master Sorcerer,” a collection of final psychedelic proclamations that cuts off quickly at the end as though breaking a transmission from the heart of the galaxy itself. Heck of a destination, and getting there’s a blast, too.

Spectral Haze on Thee Facebooks

Totem Cat Records webstore

 

Cosmic Fall, Jams for Free

cosmic-fall-jams-for-free

Kind of a bummer how Jams for Free came about, but for the reassurance that Berlin heavy psych improvisationalists Cosmic Fall will keep going after what seems to have been an unceremonious split with now-ex-guitarist/vocalist Mathias, I’ll take it. With two new explorations, bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel introduce new guitarist Martin, and those worried they might lose the funk of their original incarnation should have their fears duly allayed by “A Calmer Sphere” (12:19) and “The Great Comet” (8:10), which begin a new era of Cosmic Fall after the remaining founders were forced to stop selling their prior works. If there’s anger or catharsis being channeled in Jams for Free, though, it comes through as fluidity and serene heavy psych, and with the resonant live-in-studio vibe, Cosmic Fall essentially seem to be picking up where they left off. With Martin making a distinguishing impression in the soloing of “A Calmer Sphere”’s second half particularly, the future continues to look bright for the German asteroid riders. Right on, guys. Keep jamming.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Epitaph, Claws

Epitaph-Claws

Doomers of Verona Epitaph trace their origins back some 30 years, but Claws (on High Roller Records) is just their second long-player behind 2014’s Crawling out of the Crypt. Matters not. Theirs is the doom of ages one way or the other, presented in this collection of five songs in traditional fashion with an edge of the Italian bizarrist movement (think early Death SS) and, from the “Neon Knights”-style riff of “Gossamer Claws” to the “After All (The Dead)”/”Falling off the Edge of the World”-style dramaturge of “Wicked Lady,” the nods to ‘80s and early-‘90s Black Sabbath are manifold and executed with what sounds like a genuine love for that era of the band and classic metal in general. Hard to fault Epitaph that influence, particularly as they bring it to bear in the guttural riffly chug of centerpiece “Sizigia,” tonally as much as in the form of what’s actually being played. As a mission, the homage is perhaps a bit single-minded, but as they continue to build their own legacy in these classic sounds, it’s impossible to say Epitaph’s collective heart isn’t in the right place.

Epitaph on Thee Facebooks

High Roller Records webstore

 

Disastroid, Screen

disastroid-screen

The nine songs of Disastroid’s fourth self-released LP, Screen, are drawn together by a songwriting prowess that’s better heard than described and by a heft of tone that, especially on stompers like “Dinosaur” early and “Coyote” later on, proves likewise. Is the point of this review, then, that you should listen to the album? Yuppers. At a crisp 35 minutes, Screen finds the Bay Area trio willfully nestled someplace between heavy rock riffing, noise crunch, punk and metal, and they fly this refusal to commit to one style over another no less proudly than they do the hook of “Getting in the Way” or “I Didn’t Kill Myself,” which along with the push of “Choke the Falcon” and the Melvinsian “Clinical Perfection” make up a series of short burst impressions contrasted by the longer “Screen” and “New Day” at the outset and the six-minute finale “Gunslinger,” though wherever Disastroid seem to go, they bring a current of memorable craft with them, making an otherwise purposefully bumpy ride smooth and a chaos-fueled joy to undertake.

Disastroid website

Disastroid on Bandcamp

 

Mastiff, Bork

mastiff-bork

Ultimately, bludgeon-ready UK five-piece Mastiff might owe as much to grind as they do to doom or sludge – at least if “Nil by Mouth” has anything to say about it – but more than loyalty to any subgenre or other, the Hull unit’s 25-minute Bork full-length (released on CD by APF Records) is interested in presenting an extreme vision of sonic heft. Brutal pummel infects the rolling chorus of “Everything Equals Death” and the initial chug of “Tumour” alike, and where opener “Agony” was content to blast out its cacophony in fury of tempo as much as weight, as they settle in for the mosh-ready six minutes of closer “Eternal Regret,” Mastiff seem to have dug out a position between lumbering doom and early ‘00s deathcore, a telltale breakdown capping Bork in grooving and familiar fashion. Their intensity might prove a distinguishing factor over the longer term, though, and they certainly have plenty enough of it to go around.

Mastiff on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension, An Organic Mythology

demons-from-the-dungeon-dimension-an-organic-mythology

The righteously-monikered Demons from the Dungeon Dimension made a striking and individualized – and bizarre – impression in 2016 with the There was Ogres EP (discussed here), a follow-up to the debut full-length, As the Crow Flies, released just weeks earlier. With the new single An Organic Mythology and the five-minute, raw-recorded track of the same name, the Durban, South Africa-based project is laid to rest. A burly opening and thickened distortion lead to a pushing verse with dry vocals over top – sounding very much like a home-recorded demo outright and not trying to be anything else – and soon enough the track shifts into a spoken-word-dissertation over an instrumental build that carries it into its final minute, at which point the verse kicks back in to end. As with the prior EP, which topped 25 minutes, the vibe is willfully strange throughout “An Organic Mythology,” and if this is indeed the last we’ll hear from Demons from the Dungeon Dimension (doesn’t it just sound like something TOR Books would put out?), somehow it seems right we live in an age where the material can reside in the digital ether, waiting to be stumbled on by curious parties soon to be blindsided by what they hear.

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension on Bandcamp

Demons from the Dungeon Dimension on YouTube

 

Liblikas, Unholy Moly

liblikas-unholy-moly

From the initial semi-gothic vibes from vocalist Oliver Aunver to the progressive fuzz rock that ensues on opener “Holy Underground,” Estonian five-piece Liblikas seem to specialize in the unexpected on their second full-length, Unholy Moly. Aunver, guitarists Temo Saarna (also vocals) and Henrik Harak, bassist Joosep Käsper and drummer/backing vocalist Mihkel Rebane, oversee a brisk 45-minute run across eight tracks of genre-spanning grooves, from the chugging almost-doom of “Highest Hound” to the semi-folk experimentalist interlude “Fugue Yeah! (Diary Pt. II),” which follows “Dear Diary, Yeah!” a track that starts out with what might be a Japanese-language sample and psychedelic unfolding to more cohesive, harmony-topped prog rock bounce before the fuzz emerges and meets with forward vocals and effective interplay of acoustics in the chorus. Why yes, there is a six-minute song called “Pornolord” – funny you should ask. It appears before the oud-laced “Ol’ Slime” and nine-minute closer “Keezo,” which embraces the difficult task of summing up the weirdo intensity that’s been on display throughout Liblikas’ songwriting all along, and with wispy guitar leading to a big, noisy finish, succeeds outright in doing so.

Liblikas on Thee Facebooks

Liblikas on Bandcamp

 

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Cloud Catcher Announce Oct. West Coast Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Denver-based classic heavy rock rippers Cloud Catcher are mere days away from embarking on a string of shows alongside San Diego’s Earthless, arguably the standard bearers of the West Coast’s heavy boom, and arguably the biggest gigs Cloud Catcher have yet played. I don’t think there’s a soul who heard their 2017 second album, Trails of Kozmic Dust (review here), or who’s ever seen them demolish a stage, who wouldn’t say they were ready for the task. Cloud Catcher have hit the road multiple times already throughout 2017, and they’ll do so again following the run with Earthless, this time for a West Coast stint that will take up the bulk of October and that also includes a few nights alongside former tourmates Slow Season.

The band just announced the latter batch of shows, and you’ll find those as well as the Earthless dates below:

cloud catcher

CLOUD CATCHER – West Coast Tour

We are absolutely stoked to be returning back to California and Texas this October for our Fall 2017 tour! It’s been too long… an updated tour poster will be available soon, but while you wait on that here are the dates. Thanks to HiWattage booking and @fuzzfamily for helping us book the gigs. See you all soon!

Cloud Catcher with Earthless:
9/1 Ft. Collins, CO Hodi’s Half Note
9/2 Denver, CO Marquis Theatre
9/3 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad
9/4 Tempe, AZ Yucca Taproom

Cloud Catcher on tour:
10/12- BOISE, ID- SHREDDER
10/13- SEATTLE, WA- SUBSTATION
10/14- PORTLAND, OR- HIGH WATER MARK
10/15- EUGENE, OR- OLD NICKS
10/16- REDDING, CA- THE DIP
10/17- ARCATA, CA- THE ALIBI
10/19- SACRAMENTO, CA- BLUE LAMP*
10/20- NEVADA CITY, CA- COOPERS*
10/21- RENO, NV- JUB JUBS THIRST PARLOR*
10/22- LOS ANGELES, CA- VIPER ROOM*
10/23- TBA
10/24- SAN DIEGO, CA- BRICK BY BRICK
10/25- TEMPE, AZ- YUCCA TAPROOM
10/26- ALBUQUERQUE, NM- LAUNCHPAD
10/27- SAN ANTONIO, TX- LIMELIGHT
10/28- AUSTIN, TX- SWAN DIVE
10/29- FORT WORTH, TX- THE GROTTO
10/30- OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- BLUE NOTE LOUNGE
*WITH SLOW SEASON

#DenverIsHeavier #CloudCatcher

Cloud Catcher is:
Rory Rummings – Guitar and Vocals
Kam Wentworth – Bass and Vocals
Jared Soloman Handman – Drums

https://cloud-catcher.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cloudcatcherco

Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust (2017)

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Spectral Haze Post Title-Track & Cover Art for Turning Electric

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

spectral haze

I’m not entirely sure how long Spectral Haze‘s Turning Electric has been in the works, or if the band even deigns to recognize the linear motion of our space-time continuum, but it seems like it might be a while. In 2015, the Oslo, Norway, heavy psych/space rockers posted a notice about new t-shirts coming soon and said “prepare to turn electric” as a part of that, so at very least they’ve been sitting on the title for some time. They signed to France-based imprint Totem Cat Records at the end of last year and said at that point that the record would be out in May, so its current Oct. 20 release date is the end result of some delay as well — reportedly owing to the usual concerns of pressing vinyl.

What matters, of course, is that the album is coming out. Then a five-piece and apparently having some fluidity of lineup anyhow, Spectral Haze made their debut in late 2014 with I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains (review here) via Soulseller Records, which followed a self-titled 2012 demo EP that you can still hear on their Bandcamp. Speaking of audio, the now-foursome are giving a first taste of what’s to come on Turning Electric by means of streaming the title-track, which is only 3:42 long, but still gives a sense of the cosmic thrust they’re working with anyhow, as excellently complemented by the gorgeous Adam Burke cover art that’s also newly unveiled.

I mean seriously, just look at this thing. I could do a year-end list of the best artwork and just have it all be Burke covers. Hell, maybe I should.

While I kick that idea around, here’s that cover and release date confirmation from the label, followed by the song stream:

spectral haze turning electric

Totem Cat Records – COMING NEXT / Spectral Haze – Turning Electric

Available October 20 on CD/LP
Artwork by Adam Burke

Psyched Out Doom Rock Rituals

Spectral Haze is:
Spacewülff – Interstellar Howls/Geetarrrgh
Sönik Slöth – Supercosmic overdrive pedalinfused guitarvoid
Döômdögg – Dronemachinated AUM
Cëlestïal Cöbra – Conjurer of souls through ritual drums

Occasional appearances:
Elêctrïc Stårlïng – Space wizard beckoning astral animal guardians, manipulating aether
Pòwêr Pänthêr – Percussive boddhisattva, aspect of the conjuring ritual drums

https://www.facebook.com/SpectralHaze/
https://spectralhaze.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/totemcatrecords/
http://totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com/

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