Posted in Whathaveyou on August 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Swedish heavy rockers Ponamero Sundown have decided to call it a day. Hung up their spurs. Punched out. Insert other cliche for not being a band anymore here. Their disbanding was announced via Thee Facebooks, and they took care to dub it a “hiatus” and leave open the possibility of playing together again if the timing and offer were right for a farewell show. As of now, so far as I know, nothing is planned.
Based in Stockholm, Ponamero Sundown released three albums during their time together. The latest of them was Veddesta, which came out last year on Transubstans and Ozium Records. Their third full-length, it was preceded by 2011’s Rodeo Eléctrica (review here) and their 2009 debut, Stonerized (review here), both of which were also issued by Transubstans.
They leave having recently posted the track “Black Widow” to mark their 10th anniversary as a band. Originally recorded in 2007 and reportedly a regular feature of live sets, the song was included as a bonus cut on the CD version of Veddesta and brings up a lot of the strengths they showed throughout their tenure in songwriting and energetic execution. New projects from members are reportedly in the works, so when and if I hear of anything, I’ll pass word along.
Until then, best of luck to the dudes who used to be Ponamero Sundown. Here’s their announcement, short, sweet, and Band-Aid-esque:
It’s time to release the clutch and move on…
So from today we’re on a hiatus until further notice.
There’s no bad blood, musical differences or anything, just life itself.
If any festival or similar would like to book us one last time we would be open for that. Other than that some of us got other plans…
Thanks for the support over the years! Much love to you all!
Cheers and stay fuzzed! Anders, Peter, Nicke and Robban
Posted in Radio on December 5th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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
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
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.
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, I 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
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.
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
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.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
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 Mordwill 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.
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: