The Obelisk Radio Adds: Burning Saviours, Soldat Hans, Olde, Holy Grove, Persona and Dungaree

Posted in Radio on December 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

I try to do these every week. I’d like to, ideally, but it seems to be more like when folders and zip files clog up my desktop enough to really get on my nerves. Fair enough. A full 20 records joined the playlist today, including a couple wintry classics from Anathema that either were overlooked by me or wrongly left out, plus the new Witch Mountain album, and some other recently-reviewed and otherwise-written-about stuff. It’s actually a pretty killer list. If you’re into it, or if you want to see what else has been added lately or what was played today, check out the Playlist and Updates Page. I spend an embarrassing amount of time there. Here are a few more reasons why.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Dec. 5, 2014:

Burning Saviours, Unholy Tales from the North

Burning Saviours Unholy Tales from the North

The unheralded heroes of Sweden’s retro heavy movement return with their first full-length since 2007. Their fifth outing overall, Burning Saviours‘ Unholy Tales from the North follows a series of four singles released between 2012 and 2013 (recently compiled by I Hate Records and released under the title Boken Om Förbannelsen) and finds the Örebro four-piece reveling in ’70s-style doom once more, albeit with a rawer and less directly ’70s-style production. That is, it’s not as directly fuzzed as their self-titled debut was nine years ago, when it was pretty much them and Witchcraft digging on classic Pentagram alone, but still presented in the same spirit, a strong opening trio of “They Will Rise Tonight,” “And the Wolves Cried Out” and “Your Love Hurts Like Fire” creating a lasting impression somewhere between early metal (think Rocka Rolla-era Priest) and the heavy rock that preceded it. Two Swedish-language tracks, “Ondskan” and “Lyktgubben,” end each side, and at 28 minutes, it’s a quick runthrough, but shows easily that Burning Saviours – since 2010 the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Mikael Monks, lead guitarist Jonas Hartikainen, bassist Fredrik Evertsson and drummer Martin Wijkström — remain vital in their approach, cuts like “Inside My Mind” and “The Sons of the North” exploring metal’s roots effectively and organically while crafting something new, if familiar, from them. Burning Saviours on Thee Facebooks, at Transubstans Records.

Soldat Hans, Dress Rehearsal

Soldat Hans Dress Rehearsal

Swiss newcomers Soldat Hans seem to be embarking on an admirably ambitious journey with their self-released debut, Dress Rehearsal, the title of which hints at their thinking of it as a demo, but for which the extended four tracks included serve to craft a sense of ambience that marks it unmistakably as a full-length. Engrossing in its atmosphere, patient in its construction and impeccably conceived, Dress Rehearsal plays out lengthy builds fluidly and takes listeners from minimalist drone and slow unfolding to massive, feedback-caked sludge, and then back again, sounding natural in the process and brilliant for both its pummel and restraint. None of the four cuts — “Meine Liebste; Sie zerbricht sich” (15:21), “Esthère (im bronzefarbenen Licht)” (13:34), “Zikueth! Zikueth!” (18:25) and “Liefdesgrot” (15:08) — really departs from a bleak, moody feel, but there are shifts throughout, as “Esthère (im bronzefarbenen Licht)” moves from the linearity of the opener to brooding post-rock and jazzy exploration before hitting its own wash of viciousness. To have a band take such control of their sound on their first outing is remarkable, and the longest and farthest ranging of the tracks, “Zikueth! Zikueth!” provides Soldat Hans their shining moment, theatrical but not overdone, melodic early and raging late, hypnotic in the middle, as classic as it is avant garde. They close out with another maddening payoff in “Liefdesgrot,” and while in the future I’d be interested to hear them take on structures as wide-ranging as what they bring sonically to Dress Rehearsal, if this is just practice, I can’t wait for the show to start. Soldat Hans on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Olde, I


If you were to go by their sound alone, I don’t think there’s any way you could come out of hearing burly five-piece Olde‘s Hypaethral Records debut long-player, I, and not imagine they were from Virginia. In fact, they come from Toronto, but the aggro Southern metal they purvey on the album’s eight bruising tracks would be right at home in the heart of sludgeland, full as it is of steady rolls — Sons of Otis drummer Ryan Aubin provides trailmarking thud — the from-the-chest growling from Doug McLarty and lumbering riffs, songs like “Heart Attack” and “Changelings” in the tracklist’s midsection readily crossing the line between sludge and doom, all mudhole stomp, metallic affiliation and violent groove. There’s atmosphere at work, but it comes out through the aggression portrayed, and ultimately, has about as all the ambience of having your teeth kicked in. And yes, that counts the variation on the theme in the closing “Perimeter Walk,” the more echoing guitar, farther back vocals, and so on. With a crisp production behind it, Olde‘s debut knows precisely the kind of beatdown it wants to deliver and sets about its task with brutal efficiency. Olde on Thee Facebooks, Hypaethral Records on Bandcamp.

Holy Grove, Live at Jooniors

Holy Grove Live at Jooniors

Recorded at some point between then and now at Joonior Studios in Seattle, Washington — I’m guessing more toward “then” — the 2014 outing Live at Jooniors from Portland four-piece Holy Grove is only two songs, but even one would be enough to serve notice of their warm tonality and the bluesy vocals of Andrea Vidal, who pushes her voice to its reaches on “Holy Grove” and still manages to nail the emotional crux. Honestly, that would probably be enough to carry “Holy Grove” and the following “Nix” on its own — sold; I’m on board — but I won’t discount the fuzz in Trent Jacobs‘ guitar or bassist Gregg Emley‘s fills in “Nix,” or the seamless shift drummer Craig Bradford leads between subdued verses and the tense chorus of “Holy Grove.” As far as serving notice goes, Live at Jooniors does so and then some, and without sacrificing sound quality as so many underground live recordings do. Seems to me a 7″ release wouldn’t be out of order, but Holy Grove seem more intent on getting together their full-length debut, which if they can bring to the studio the vibe they create in just 13 minutes on stage, is going to be something to look out for indeed. Learn the name, because you’ll hear it again. Holy Grove on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Persona, Persona

Persona Persona

Buenos Aires instrumental four-piece Persona formed in 2004/2005, but their newly-released self-titled appears to be their first LP, preceded by a 2012 EP. If the better part of the intermittent decade was spent jamming, it doesn’t seem to have hurt the band, who present nine plotted but flowing tracks that keep some loose sensibility to them while following a course of classic heavy and fuzz rock. The lineup of guitarist/bassists Lucas Podestá and Santiago Adano, guitarist Gustavo Hernández and drummer Esteban Podestá touch here and there on more metal tendencies, as on “Los Perros” and the brief “Cortina,” but that’s no more out of place than the proggy exploration of “Cuna de Fantasmas,” a King Crimson-style noodling underscored by subtly engaging snare work and giving way to a heavier push. The lead guitar on “Cazador” provides a particularly engaging moment of payoff for the album’s first half, but there’s enough variety throughout that Persona‘s Persona offers a range of satisfying moments. Still room for the band to develop their style, but they obviously have the will and chemistry to do so. Persona on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Dungaree, Climb out of the River

Dungaree Climb out of the River EP

I’ll give it to Hungarian four-piece Dungaree based on their moniker alone. It’s simple, fun to say, and it evokes the rebelliousness of a bygone time. Their debut release, a three-song EP dubbed Climb out of the River, is likewise sharp-dressed, with a grunge-style production that pushes the dudely vocals of László Gergely to the fore ahead of Horváth T. Zoltán‘s guitar, Balogh Attila‘s bass and Dencs Dominik‘s drums to result in a sound that comes across to my American ears more akin to commercial hard rock than underground heavy, though in my experience the line in Europe and particularly Eastern Europe is both less distinct and less relevant. The tracks are short, straightforward, hard-hitting and catchy, with “Climb out of the River” a strong opening hook, “Dream Again” pushing into metallic guitar chugging in its breakneck chorus, and “Right Words” toying with a lounge boogie — snapping fingers and all — that assures the listener that although Dungaree have their sharp corners, they’re not about to take themselves too seriously either. Might not be for everyone, but shows a strong foundation of songwriting, and I wouldn’t ask any more of a first outing than that. Dungaree on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Six releases, and a pretty varied bunch at that. It’s still really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what went up to the server. I always like putting stuff on there — it’s like casting a fishing lure, except maybe without killing? I don’t know. More like tossing a fish in the ocean maybe and not knowing when it will swim by the boat again. Or maybe I just (re)watched Jaws recently and have aquatics on the brain.

Either way, we’ve passed the two-year mark since the stream went online and I’m very happy with how The Obelisk Radio has turned out. Special thanks to Slevin for all the work he’s put in over that time in helping me with hosting and making it go, and thank you as always for reading and listening.

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Skånska Mord to Release Self-Titled EP on Transubstans Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

skanska mord

Two years after their righteous sophomore effort, Paths to Charon (review here), Swedish double-guitar five-piece Skånska Mord return, this time on Transubstans Records, with a new and self-titled EP. The Örkelljunga outfit made their debut in 2010 with The Last Supper (review here) and have continued since then to refine a straightforward approach blending ’70s and ’90s heavy rock impulses, specifically nodding at Soundgarden en route to a style of riffing somewhere between Abramis Brama and earlier Mustasch. The second album particularly had songwriting on its side, so with three original tracks (plus one cover), it seems reasonable to expect the progression to continue on the new EP.

Recorded in April, Skånska Mord‘s Skånska Mord will be out Nov. 3 through Transubstans and will feature Janne Schaffer on a cover of his own “Black Salad,” which I think counts as breaking down a fourth wall of one sort or another, but will have to consult the rulebook to be sure.

Either way, the PR wire had this to say about it:

If you missed out on SKÅNSKA MORD’s earlier releases – you can’t let this one slip thru your fingers. This is their first release on Transubstans, a 4 track EP released on black / solid white 12” vinyl. Recorded at Lemon Recording Studios with engineer Martin Ekelund, this EP is the brilliant follow-up to their two critically acclaimed albums “The Last Supper” (2010) and “Paths To Charon” (2012).

Once again, SKÅNSKA MORD proves the winning concept of blending one of the strongest voices in Swedish rock history together with the dynamic, blues, psychedelic and hard-riffing tunes that practically steams 70’s groove.

From the opening track “Illusion” to the fantastic cover of JANNE SCHAFFER’s “Black Salad” (with a guest appearance by JANNE SCHAFFER himself), you will for sure get your dose of the “pick me up” SKÅNSKA MORD always deliver.

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Abramis Brama to Release Enkel Biljett May 2

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.

Abramis Brama, “Blåa Toner” from Enkel Biljett (2014)

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Skraeckoedlan Get Cloudy at Studio Underjord

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

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 Gigantos has 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. Äppelträdet was 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.

Skraeckoedlan on Thee Facebooks

Skraeckoedlan’s website

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audiObelisk: Moon Coven Stream “East” from Transubstans Debut, Amanita Kingdom

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 Kingdom is, 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.

Moon Coven on Thee Facebooks

Transubstans Records

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Brutus to Play Roadburn 2014

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.

Brutus, “Personal Riot” official video

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Odyssey Post Video for New Single “Oncoming Fire”; Tour Next Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

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:

Odyssey, “Oncoming Fire” Official Video

Odyssey European Tour Dates

Click the poster to enlarge.

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Norway’s Tombstones Added to 2013 Desertfest London Lineup

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.

More on Tombstones below, courtesy of the Desertfest website:


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!

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Ponamero Sundown Meet the Clown in the Woods in New Video for “The Dice”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

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:

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Reviewsplosion II: The Return of 10 Records in One Post

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.


El-Thule, Zenit

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.


GravelRoad, Psychedelta

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.

Thanks for reading.

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Buried Treasure Crosses Abramis Brama’s Rubicon

Posted in Buried Treasure on May 25th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

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:

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Odyssey Mess with the Lights in New Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

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:

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audiObelisk: Ett Rop På Hjälp Stream Track From Transubstans Records Debut

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.

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Ponamero Sundown in Contest to Play Sweden Rock 2012

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.

Dig it:

Great news from Ponamero Sundown 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 Ponamero Sundown 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!

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