Hellsingborg’s Odyssey released their debut album, Abysmal Despair, in 2012 on Transubstans. On the strength of the new single, “Oncoming Fire,” the Swedish three-piece will hit the road late next month for a handful of dates that will take them through Poland, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. They’ve got a new video for the resoundingly aggressive single, which seems to have more in common with Unsane than most of the fuzz that generally typifies Swedish heavy. Takes all kinds and then some.
You might recall Odyssey were featured alongside Black Pyramid on a limited split. No word on what form if any a physical release for “Oncoming Fire” might take, but the track is available for free download through Odyssey‘s Soundcloud. Here’s the video, followed by a poster with the tour dates. Enjoy:
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Anticipation is ramping up for the spring and summer festival season, and the latest check-in comes from Desertfest in London, which announced earlier that Norwegian doomers Tombstones have joined the 2013 lineup. Seems it’s all I can do these last couple weeks to keep up with fest news, but I’ve yet to come across one announcement that didn’t make me more stoked on the event, whatever it might be.
For the first time ever in the UK, Desertfest presents the ultra-heavy Norwegian three-piece; TOMBSTONES.
Although Norway is more famous for its beastly blasting Black Metal, TOMBSTONES turn this musical concept upside down: slow, downtuned, stoned and buzzed out doom is on the menu. TOMBSTONES have two albums under their belt. “Volume II” was released in 2010 by Transubstans Records, and their latest piece “Year of the Burial” was dropped spring 2012 by Soulseller Records. The norwegian doomsters toured Europe with their new album last fall, and have played Mudfest, Death Doomed The Age and Robustfest.
This time it’s Camden and Desertfest who will shiver from their loud and crushing, trance-indulging heaviness. Light you your bongs, and worship the riff!
Few rules in life I’d be willing to call absolute, but I think it’s safe to say that if you’re walking through the woods and you run into a dude in a creepy clown mask, your day just got a whole lot worse. It’s a lesson we should be teaching our children, really.
We last heard from heavy rocking Swedish foursome Ponamero Sundown in 2011 with the album, Radio Eléctrica (review here), a straightforward bit of Euro heavy brought to light by Transubstans Records. The clip you’ll find below, which splices the aforementioned PSA about forest clowns (also dudes in pig masks, we can’t forget them) with performance footage of the band, is for the song “The Dice” from that album, which Ponamero Sundown are due to follow up this year if they want to keep the two-year pace they established between their ’09 debut, Stonerized(review here) and the sophomore outing.
Those suffering coulrophobia may want to avoid, but everyone else, feel free to enjoy:
Posted in Reviews on October 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I am constantly working at a deficit. Financially, yes, because like many of my countrymen I’m am tens of thousands of dollars in debt — but also in terms of reviews. I’malwaysbehind on reviews. Hell, it was into July of this year before I finally put the kybosh on writing up anything from 2011, and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t put my foot down on it, I’d still have year-old albums going up or older. My to-do list grows like a witchcult.
It’s not something to complain about and I’m not complaining. I’m stoked people give enough of a shit to send their CDs in to be reviewed — especially those who actually send CDs — and it’s for that reason that I do this second reviewsplosion (first one here).
Yeah, as ever, I’m behind on reviews, but I’m also working on being more concise — I swear I am; check out the At a Glance reviews if you don’t believe me — and one of the things I liked so much about the last reviewsplosion was it forced me to get to the fucking point. As direct a line as possible to a review. Boiling the idea down to its essential core.
With that in mind, here’s my attempt to both balance my review budget and be as clear as humanly possible. Hope you dig:
Altar of Oblivion, Grand Gesture of Defiance
The subject of some spirited debate on the forum, the second record from Danish five-piece Altar of Oblivion revels in traditional doom methods. There’s an air of pomp in some of the songs — “Graveyard of Broken Dreams” lays it on a little thick — but by and large, Grand Gesture of Defiance(Shadow Kingdom) is a more than solid showing of genre. Classic underground metal flourishes abound, and while it’s not a record to change your life, at six tracks/34 minutes, neither does it hang around long enough to be overly repetitive. You could do way worse. Altar of Oblivion on Thee Facebooks.
Blooming Látigo, Esfínteres y Faquires
Primarily? Weird. The Spanish outfiit Blooming Látigo make their debut on Féretro Records (CD) and Trips und Träume (LP) with the all-the-fuck-over-the-place Esfínteres y Faquires, alternately grinding out post-hardcore and reciting Birthday Party-style poetry. They reach pretty hard to get to “experimental,” maybe harder than they need to, but the on-a-dime stops and high-pitched screams on tracks like “Onania” and “Prisciliano” are well beyond fascinating, and the blown-out ending of “La Destrucción del Aura” is fittingly apocalyptic. Who gave the art-school kids tube amps? Blooming Látigo on Bandcamp.
Five years since their second offering, Green Magic, left such a strong impression, Italian stoner rock trio El-Thule return with Zenit (Go Down Records), which makes up for lost time with 50 minutes of heavy riffs, fuzzy desert grooves and sharp, progressive rhythms. The band — El Comandante (bass), Mr. Action (guitar/vocals) and Gweedo Weedo (drums/vocals) — may have taken their time in getting it together, but there’s little about Zenit that lags, be it the faster, thrashier “Nemesis” or thicker, Torche-esque melodic push of the highlight “Quaoar.” It’s raw, production-wise, but I hope it’s not another half-decade before El-Thule follow it up. El-Thule on Thee Facebooks.
Botanist, III: Doom in Bloom
It’s a nature-worshiping post-black metal exploration of what the History Channel has given the catchy title “life after people.” If you’ve ever wondered what blastbeats might sound like on a dulcimer, Botanist‘s third album, III: Doom in Bloom has the answers you seek, caking its purported hatred of human kind in such creative instrumentation and lyrics reverent of the natural world rather than explicitly misanthropic. The CD (on Total Rust) comes packaged with a second disc called Allies, featuring the likes of Lotus Thief and Matrushka and giving the whole release a manifesto-type feel, which suits it well. Vehemently creative, it inadvertently taps into some of the best aspects of our species. Botanist’s website.
Say what you will about whiteboys and the blues, the bass tone that starts “Nobody Get Me Down” is unfuckwithable. And Seattle trio GravelRoad come by it pretty honestly, having served for years as the backing back for bluesman T-Model Ford. The album Psychedelta (on Knick Knack Records) jams out on its start-stop fuzz in a way that reminds not so much of Clutch but of the soul and funk records that inspired Clutch in the first place, and though it never gets quite as frenetic in its energy as Radio Moscow, there’s some of that same vibe persisting through “Keep on Movin’” or their Junior Kimbrough cover “Leave Her Alone.” Throaty vocals sound like a put-on, but if they can nail down that balance, GravelRoad‘s psychedelic blues has some real potential in its open spaces. GravelRoad on Thee Facebooks.
The Linus Pauling Quartet, Bag of Hammers
Texas toast. The Linus Pauling Quartet offer crisp sunbursts of psychedelic heavy rock, and after nearly 20 years and eight full-lengths, that shouldn’t exactly be as much of a surprise as it is. Nonetheless, Bag of Hammers(Homeskool Records) proffers a 41-minute collection of heady ’90s-loving-the-’70s tones while venturing into classic space rock on “Victory Gin” and ballsy riffing on “Saving Throw.” Being my first experience with the band, the album is a refreshing listen and unpretentious to its very core. Eight-minute culminating jam “Stonebringer” is as engaging a display of American stoner rock as I’ve heard this year, and I have to wonder why it took eight records before I finally heard this five-man quartet? Hits like its title. LP4′s website.
Odyssey, Abysmal Despair
It’s the damnedest thing, but listening to Abysmal Despair, the Transubstans Records debut from Swedish prog sludge/noise rockers Odyssey, I can’t help but think of Long Island’s own John Wilkes Booth. It’s the vocals, and I know that’s a really specific association most people aren’t going to have, but I do, and I can’t quite get past it. The album is varied, progressive, and working in a variety of modern underground heavy contexts nowhere near as foreboding as the album’s title might imply, like Truckfighters meets Entombed, but I just keep hearing JWB‘sKerry Merkle through his megaphone. Note: that’s not a bad thing, just oddly indicative of the greater sphere of worldwide sonic coincidence in which we all exist. If anything, that just makes me like Abysmal Despair more. Odyssey on Soundcloud.
Palkoski, 2012 Demo
Conceptual Virginian free-formers Palkoski released the three-track/67-minute 2012 demo earlier this year through Heavy Hound. Most of it sounds improvised, but for verses here and there that emerge from the various stretches, and the band’s alternately grinding and sparse soundscapery results in an unsettling mash of psychotic extremity. It is, at times, painful to listen, but like some lost tribal recording, it’s also utterly free. Limited to 100 CDs with a second track called “The Shittiest EP Ever” and a third that’s a sampling of Palkoski‘s ultra-abrasive noise experimentation live, this one is easily not for the faint of heart. Still, there’s something alluring in the challenge it poses. Palkoski at Heavy Hound.
Radar Men from the Moon, Echo Forever
Following their charming 2011 EP, Intergalactic Dada and Space Trombones, the Eindhoven instrumental trio Radar Men from the Moon (On the Radar’ed here) return on the relative quick with a 51-minute full-length, Echo Forever. More progressive in its jams, the album’s psychedelic sprawl shows the band developing — I hesitate to compare them to 35007 just because they happen to be Dutch, but the running bassline that underscores “Atomic Mother” is a tempter — but there’s still an immediacy behind their changes that keeps them from really belonging to the laid-back sphere of European jam-minded heavy psychedelia. They’re getting warmer though, stylistically and tonally, and I like that. Interesting to hear a song like “Heading for the Void” and think Sungrazer might be burgeoning as an influence. Cool jams for the converted. Radar Men from the Moon on Bandcamp.
Sound of Ground, Sky Colored Green
There are elements of of Yawning Man, or Unida or other acts in the Californian desert milieu, but basically, Moscow’s Sound of Ground sound like Kyuss. They know it. Their R.A.I.G. debut full-length, Sky Colored Green, makes no attempt to hide it, whether it’s the “Green Machine” riffing of “Lips of the Ocean” or the speedier Slo-Burnery of “El Caco,” though the metallic screaming on “R.H.S.” is a dead giveaway for the band’s youth, coming off more like early Down than anything Josh Homme ever plugged in to play. While not necessarily original, the trio are firm in their convictions, and Sound of Ground tear through these 11 tracks with engaging abandon. The Russian scene continues to intrigue. Sound of Ground on Thee Facebooks.
I could go through some big longwinded explanation and say I bought Abramis Brama‘s 2005 fourth album, Rubicon, because I think it’s important or has some measure of standing in the lore of Swedish heavy and/or classic rock, but fuck it. I bought this record because I wanted to hear it and that’s the story. I’d seen a couple things kicking around saying it’s the way to go as regards the Stockholm homage-payers, and I figured it was high time I picked up the album and gave it a real shot.
It’s not my first experience with the four- and apparently sometimes five-piece. I’ve written about them a few times here, including a review of their last album, 2009′s Smakar Söndag, which I dug a lot. They’re one of what seems to not be that many Swedish acts who refuse to sing in English, and though I speak literally no Swedish, I still have to admire the ethic. They compromised on it just once, but even the title of Nothing Changes — the 2003 English-language sidestep predecessor of Rubicon — seems to throw a middle finger up at the very idea of changing their approach. Some stubbornness is awesome, and with Rubicon, Abramis Brama went back to their mother tongue with a vengeance.
By the way, I’m assuming that along with Swedish their mother tongue is “riff,” because as much as they speak one language, they certainly also speak the other. Rubicon is about as genuine a modern interpretation of classic heavy rock as I’ve ever heard come out of Sweden,Abramis Brama having clearly honed their craft in the first eight years of their existence (they formed in ’97 and debuted with 1999′s Dansa Tokjävelns Vals) to a point where they could expand comfortably and put their own stamp on the form. I’m sure I won’t be the first to compare Ulf Torkelsson‘s vocals to Chris Cornell, but whether it’s the prog ending of “Guldgruva” or the pure “Dazed and Confused”-style chorus of the nine-minute “För Mitt Blödande Hjärta,” Torkelsson gives an absolutely killer showing. Pipes for days, it seems.
Speaking of “För Mitt Blödande Hjärta,” though, I had a head-turning moment when that chorus kicked in and immediately went back to Graveyard‘s “The Siren” from Hisingen Blues, which seems to have adapted pretty much the same progression to suit its own ’70s-worshiping purposes. Cool to hear something Abramis Brama were doing more than half a decade beforehand and give another context to the work of their countrymen, but really, the highlight of Rubicon isn’t comparing it to what’s come before or after, it’s enjoying its open, natural grooves on their own level. The more I listen to Abramis Brama and the more of their albums I hear — I’m coming for you, När Tystnaden Lagt Sig… — the more I appreciate what they’re doing both ethically and musically. The refusal to compromise coupled with the righteously formidable riffing of Per-Olf Andersson, the bass of Dennis Berg and Fredrik Jansson‘s drums on Rubicon are like a dogwhistle signalling a love of heavy rock. I can hear it, I can dig it, whatever language Torkelsson is speaking.
So mark Rubicon down among the slew of killer records I’ve picked up and wanted to recommend to anyone who might be open to such a recommendation. Their obvious love of the classics speaks for itself when you listen, so I’m going to leave it at that and put on the especially killer “Drottning Av Is” instead. Hope you dig it:
You know, after all the Truckfighters shenanigans lately (see here and here, for starters), I considered giving it a rest this week with the Swedish bands… for about three minutes. Then I got a note from Hellsingborg trio Odyssey with a link to their new video for the song “Wicked Witch,” and well, I was right back on the wagon. Or off it. I can never remember how that one goes.
“Wicked Witch” comes off Odyssey‘s recent split 7″ with Massachusetts’ own Black Pyramid — it’s their first recorded outing to feature Darryl Shepard‘s guitar and vocals — and was released as part of Transubstans Records‘ vinyl club, about which you can find more info here, if you’re so inclined. Transubstans will also release Odyssey‘s debut full-length, Abysmal Despair, on May 15.
If this song is any indicator, the album title is a little more dire than the music Odyssey make, but perhaps their darker side comes out elsewhere. Would be hilarious if these dudes were full-on black metal the rest of the time, though I doubt that’s the case. Anyway, hope you enjoy “Wicked Witch” below and have as much fun as I did watching them play with the lamps:
Posted in audiObelisk on February 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m a long-admitted sucker for Swedish rock and roll. The list of artists is too long to even start (though if you’re interested, I did do a podcast on the subject one time), but in any case, when Transubstans Records sent over the new album from Gothenburg five-piece Ett Rop På Hjälp, it hit just the right nerd-nerve. Fans of Graveyard or Asteroid or even some of Witchcraft‘s early material should take note, but the band (whose name translates to “A Cry for Help”) aren’t just about retro visitations or fuzzy jams.
Rather, their Transubstans debut, Hur Svårt Kan Det Vara? (“How Hard Can it Be?”), is full of free-flowing and warm bluesiness, with songs like “Sagor (Och Ingenting Annat Än Sagor)” injecting a natural melancholia that’s offset by the shuffling boogie of “Följ Mitt Liv.” Their approach varies, but remains tonally consistent even as “Vänförfrågan”‘s instrumental melody veers a bit into what’s more likely today to be utilized in devil-worshiping witch rock than a song whose title translates to “Friend Request” — unless of course, they’re sending the devil the friend request, which, in any case, is awesome.
The label was kind enough to offer up album-opener “Den Siste Altruisten” for streaming (they have it on their Soundcloud page as well), and as the first cut on Hur Svårt Kan Det Vara?, it gives a decent impression of where Ett Rop På Hjälp are headed thereafter. It’s also among the catchier songs — two listens and you’re hooked, if it takes that long — which can help if, say, you’re crossing a language barrier.
So, with thanks to the band and Transubstans, please enjoy “Den Siste Altruisten” on the player below:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Ett Rop På Hjälp‘s Hur Svårt Kan Det Vara? is available due out March 14 on Transubstans Records. For more info, hit up the label’s site or the Record Heaven webshop with which they’re affiliated.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, they’re from Sweden, and they rock, so I guess they have my vote. It doesn’t take much time to head over to the link below and cast a quick vote for Ponamero Sundown — whose Rodeo Eléctrica album was released earlier this year — to play the Sweden Rock fest, so I figured I’d post the news in case anyone has a spare second and a half to help out.
Great news from PonameroSundown camp! The band has been picked out for an ongoing competition to play at Sweden Rock Festival next June. The three bands who get the most votes get to play at the festival and PonameroSundown are among the 100 out of 1500 who got picked! Now we need your help in order to get this awesome stonerfuzz rock expedition spreads the riffage at the festival. The link where you can submit your votes is below, anyone can vote once a day, no registration needed. Thanks!