Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been a quick five years since Stockholm’s Abramis Brama released their last album, Smakar Söndag (review here), but the time differential seems to be something the long-running Swedish rockers are looking to address with Enkel Biljett, which immediately vibes more along the lines of their gloriously boogie-fied early works. This is twice as interesting since founding bassist Dennis Berg split in 2012, but Abramis Brama seem to have weathered the change well judging by the new song “Blåa Toner,” which can be streamed below courtesy of the Transubstans Soundcloud page. They sent the following info down the PR wire as well about the May 2 release for Enkel Biljett.
If you were looking for an excuse to learn Swedish other than their fantastic healthcare and general having-Western-Civilization-figured-out-ness try this:
Through the last 15 years Abramis Brama has released heavy, ecstatic, riff-oriented hard rock with Swedish lyrics and with the new album ”Enkel Biljett”, the band continues their journey with new found energy.
As the band’s sixth studio album, ”Enkel Biljett” proudly shares the heavy hard rock foundation with it’s predecessors and at the same time showcasing other dimensions of Abramis Brama than previously recorded.
2012 was a year of evolution in Abramis Brama, bassist and co-founding member Dennis Berg left the band after having completed a European tour including a live performance on the legendary German Tv show Rockpalast. Soon after, the remaining members found just what they were looking for in Mats Rydström (Backdraft, Pontus Snibb 3) who gladly accepted the offer to join the band. This progression gave the band new energy and inspiration that transpired in the studio and lead to nine vigorous songs.
The title track and lead single ”Enkel Biljett” was released in January 2014 (as a split vinyl with tour brothers Black Debbath of Norway). It was immediately picked up by the Swedish national radio and other commercial radio stations.
In Swedish the title ”Enkel Biljett” means one-way ticket, and the album is injected with a new spark and fire. The heavy riffs are of course still present as well as the psychedelic folky elements. Yet this time around there’s more to comprehend, savor and appreciate.
Current line-up: Ulf Torkelsson, vocals. Peo Andersson, guitar. Fredrik Liefvendahl, drums. Mats Rydström, bass.
Not too many details have surfaced about the recording of Skraeckoedlan‘s second album and the follow-up to 2011′s Äppelträdet(review here). The title Gigantoshas surfaced, and presumably the LP will be out through Transubstans like the debut sometime in 2014, but I don’t know exactly when, and though Skraeckoedlan have done some decent roadtime since the first record came out, the live-in-studio footage below is the first new material I’ve seen from them. Of course, that only makes it more worth taking out the fog machine for.
Particularly interesting is the update that the band have recorded in several different studios. Äppelträdetwas recorded by Truckfighters bassist/vocalist Oskar Cedermalm and had a very particular sonic stamp on it, so it should be interesting to hear how Skraeckoedlan‘s fuzz comes across from a different point of origin. Studio Underjord, where the live session below was recorded, found them working with Joona Hassinen, whose credits include Mammut, Midlight and The Black Explosion.
What might that mean for Gigantos itself when it arrives? Well, if you’d like a better idea of where the four-piece have gone sonically in the last two years, there’s 17 minutes worth of information relayed in the clip below. Groovy, one song instrumental and two with vocals, but overall dialed back on some of the aggression from Äppelträdet, it nonetheless remains plenty heavy and plenty fuzzed.
One more to look forward to. Here’s the video and an update from the band:
Skraeckoedlan, Live at Studio Underjord, Oct. 2013
Skraeckoedlan has been working on their follow up album to their succesful debut “Äppelträdet” all of 2013. They have worked together with a lot of awesome people, in different studios. One of their collaborators is Joona Hassinen from Studio Underjord, were they put down the guitars and bass for the record. Here is a live-session shot at Studio Underjord October 2013, in wait for the new album.
Posted in audiObelisk on November 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
There’s an unassuming vibe that runs throughout Swedish heavy rockers Moon Coven‘s forthcoming Transubstans Records debut, Amanita Kingdom, and where for some acts that might come off as a lack of confidence, for the five-piece based in Malmö and Jönköping, it winds up among their greatest assets. Such is the laid back, warm nature of their grooving across Amanita Kingdom‘s five cuts. It makes for an easy album to get lost in, and at just 34 minutes, Moon Coven‘s material feels lean and efficient despite being in no rush either stylistically or in terms of tempo. With its two-part title-track, deep echoing melodic vocals, forward low end and steady nod, it’s an engaging, satisfying listen.
Perhaps as much for what it isn’t as what it is. Sweden has seen no shortage these last couple years of bands who’ve adopted the ’70s loyal ethic in the wake of bands like Graveyard and Witchcraft, and while Moon Coven share a natural feel in common with those acts, and maybe the slightest touch of the riffing style and that’s about where the similarities end. As organic as Amanita Kingdomis, there’s nothing about it you’d call retro. With three contributing guitarists in David Leban (also vocals), Axel Ganhammar and Justin Boyesen, there’s still plenty of room in the mix for Oscar Johansson‘s bass to run alongside and around the steady swing of Fredrik Dahlquist‘s creative but not showy drumming.
Touches of psychedelic folk show up in the closing “We Were Conquerors,” but the crux of Amanita Kingdom resides in Moon Coven‘s propensity to ride out righteous stonerly grooves. You may note some of Mars Red Sky‘s wah fuzz showing up early in the bass for “East,” but Moon Coven do well to make both the song — which is fourth of the five — and the album as a whole their own. “East” boasts rich tones and a steady march that’s deceptively catchy, Leban‘s voice coming through a jammed-out sensibility to further the human element of the proceedings, which shift at about the halfway point into a guitar-led instrumental push with no shortage of soloing over top.
However far out Moon Coven go, there’s never a point where they get lost in self-indulgence, and particularly because of that, I’m thrilled to be able to host the premiere of “East.” Please find it on the player below and enjoy:
Moon Coven, “East” from Amanita Kingdom
Transubstans will issue Moon Coven‘s Amanita Kingdom in January 2014. More info and updates at the links.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Norwegian classic heavy rockers Brutus released their second album, Behind the Mountains, earlier this year. They were the first band I found out about through The Obelisk Forum, so they’ll always hold a special place in my heart. All the better then that they’ve been added to the 2014 Roadburn festival. No telling at this point if I’ll get there to see them — I seem to be losing jobs faster than I can keep up with this week — but good for the Oslo five-piece either way. The 013 won’t know what hit it.
Roadburn put it thusly:
Brutus Added to Roadburn 2014 Lineup
Over the years, we have been mining Scandinavia for the best heavy 70?s inspired rock and invited the likes of Witchcraft, Abramis Brama, Graveyard, Dead Man, Horisont, Troubled Horse, Spiders, Blues Pills et al to previous festivals.
To keep in line with our tradition – not just because they are part Swedish, part Norwegian, but simply because they deliver the 70s in spades with a healthy dose of soulful hardrock, head down boogie and amped up blues luster – we’re excited to announce that Brutus will appear at Roadburn Festival 2014 on Thursday, April 10th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Inspired by proto metal pioneers such as Dust, Budgie and Buffalo, with nods toward Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad as well, Brutus know how to throw a good keg-party, as both their self-titled debut album and the recently released Behind The Mountains reek of a good time; these albums could easily be the alternate soundtrack to Dazed and Confused – muscle cars, pick up trucks, high school chicks in flares, denim, beer, sweat, smoking those doobies and anything else you’d imagine to happen when school’s out for summer.
Simply put: no frills, good time hard rock, played from the heart, the gut and the crotch!
Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th, 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
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!