Kimi Kärki Posts “Beyond Distance” Video; Eye for an Eye out Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kimi karki

The collaboration between Kimi Kärki and Patrick Walker is no minor moment when it comes to the former’s second solo album, Eye for an Eye (review here). Set for release a week from today via respected purveyor Svart Records, the record offers no shortage of melancholy anyhow as the Lord Vicar, Orne, ex-Reverend Bizarre, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, etc. guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and experimentalist explores more intimate, personal ground even than that which comprised his first outing, The Bone of My Bones (review here), in 2013.

Bringing in Walker, whose voice almost invariably conveys a doomed emotionalism and has been a key element in crafting landmark full-lengths from Warning and 40 Watt Sun alike, only builds on this spirit. The track is called “Beyond Distance,” and while there are subtle arrangements of backing vocals and flourish of crowd noise at the end, the most striking impression comes directly from Kärki and Walker working together respectively on guitar and voice, and the result is a standout that, while atmospherically consistent with its surroundings on Eye for an Eye, nonetheless draws the listener’s attention in both its concept and execution.

I said as much when I reviewed Eye for an Eye, but it’s hard to listen to “Beyond Distance” and not imagine what Kärki and Walker might be able to accomplish were they to actually put a collaborative project together, to write songs together, either in a heavier and doomed sonic context or a more tranquil duo as they are found to be in “Beyond Distance.” There’s just so much potential here that it seems like a waste to have this be a one-time-only happening. Not that I get a vote, but the more I hear “Beyond Distance,” the more my vote is “more, please.”

Kärki assembled and directed the video below himself, as he did the prior clip for “Entangled in Pleasure” that was premiered here, and it follows suit in its atmospheric visual impressionism and, at least until the very end, black and white visuals. The highlight of course is the song itself, but to go with Walker‘s self-harmonies and the intricate plucking of strings from Kärki, the various shots here at very least make a fitting complement.

Please enjoy:

Kimi Kärki (feat. Patrick Walker), “Beyond Distance” official video

Kimi Kärki premieres the new video “Beyond Distance.” Featuring 40 Watt Sun’s Patrick Walker, “Beyond Distance” hails from Kärki’s highly anticipated second album, Eye for an Eye, set for international release on August 18th via Svart Records.

Kimi Kärki is a Finnish cultural historian, guitar-player, and singer-songwriter. Known for his versatile guitar playing and somber compositions for Reverend Bizarre, Lord Vicar, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, and, most recently, Uhrijuhla, Kärki has developed his recognizable playing style within doom metal, progressive, folk, and electric ambient scenes. This variety of mostly underground styles reflects the open and intuitive approach to music, which is in the very heart of Kärki’s craft.

Music, guitars, eBow, bass, memotron: Kimi Kärki. Vocals, words, his vocal arrangement: Patrick Walker. Backing vocals: Pirre Känkänen, Anna-Elena Pääkkölä. Engineering: Joona Lukala. Music recorded at Noise for Fiction in 2016. Patrick Walker’s vocals were recorded at Bremhill Corpse Studio by Laurence Collyer, in August 2016. Crowd noises recorded at Brighton and Nikosia by Kimi Kärki in 2016. Video directed and edited by Kimi Kärki, filmed in Oslo 2014, Turku archipelago 2015, Carmel by the Sea and Cleveland 2017.

Kimi Kärki on Thee Facebooks

Lord Vicar on Thee Facebooks

Eye for an Eye at Svart Records webstore

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on YouTube

Svart Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

Review & Video Premiere: Kimi Kärki, Eye for an Eye

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on July 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kimi karki eye for an eye

Kimi Kärki, “Entangled in Pleasure” official video

[Click play above to view the new video for Kimi Kärki’s ‘Entangled in Pleasure.’ His album, Eye for an Eye, is out Aug. 18 via Svart Records.]

The second solo album from Kimi Kärki, Eye for an Eye, is abidingly sad — make no mistake — but ultimately it is defined by more than just its melancholy. Released through Svart Records, which also stood behind the Finland-based former Reverend Bizarre and current Lord Vicar (see also: Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, Uhrijuhla, etc.) guitarist’s 2013 debut, The Bone of My Bones (review here), the also-cyclically-titled outing shares in common with its predecessor its heartfelt and folkish delivery, but steps further into an intimacy of songwriting and seems to bask in minimalism even as it expands Kärki‘s use of harmonized vocal arrangements, echoing spaciousness and synth on works like the centerpiece “Good Things in Life” and its finale.

A guest appearance on fourth track “Beyond Distance” from Patrick Walker of Warning and 40 Watt Sun has me keeping my fingers crossed he and Kärki will collaborate again in the future — say, in a band together — and one late from labelmate singer-songwriter John Richardson on “Spearhead” does well to change up the proceedings leading into the closing duo of “The River of Shadows” and “The Last Wave.” Both of those songs depart the four-to-five-minute range to which the rest of Eye for an Eye‘s cuts hold, running six and nine minutes, respectively, but in its prevailing impression, the nine-song/47-minute offering is more about the atmosphere it creates through its plucked nylon guitar and soothing melodies than it is about individual runtimes.

Listening to opener “Entangled in Pleasure” or “The Load We Carry,” one might be tempted to call Eye for an Eye depressive, but to hear the flourish of e-bow in the latter track there, the subtle but transcendent use of keyboards throughout and the world of harmonies that guest vocalists Anna-Elena Pääkkölä and Pirita Känkänen open up alongside Kärki in those songs as well as “Augurs of Winter,” “The River of Shadows” and “Lustful, Wrathful, Sullen” — the last of which casts a serene feel despite the severity of lines like, “When the darkness comes I have no other way but to burden you with the fire that builds within my soul” — lands in a place of emotional affirmation rather than one of just being a downer. Less a conversation with the audience than a showcase of skillful craft, Kärki‘s sophomore full-length builds outward from a central loneliness so that no matter how lush its arrangements get — and by the time “The Last Wave” shifts into the wash of melodic synth that rounds out the last few minutes with a markedly progressive cosmic swirl, the arrangement has gotten plenty lush — a human core is maintained. Part of that might stem from the manner in which Kärki‘s guitar seems to remain at the heart of Eye for an Eye no matter where it goes.

kimi karki

It is the first thing we hear on “Entangled in Pleasure” before the softly-delivered vocals begin their initial verse, and it continues to define the root of “Augurs of Winter” and “Lustful, Wrathful, Sullen” — the latter with percussive nuance behind a line that recalls Zeppelin and comes accompanied by choral singing — before “Beyond Distance” brings more actively plucked strings and the already-noted appearance from Walker, who proves instantly recognizable on the basis of his voice alone. As much of Walker‘s work resides in a similar place of drawing hope from resonant, meditative emotional darkness — and one has to wonder if the title “Beyond Distance” isn’t a nod to Warning‘s 2006 masterwork, Watching from a Distance — he fits the song remarkably well, and Kärki steps back to give him the fore as a singer, much as one might wish for some direct vocal interplay. Seems fan-biased to say “fingers crossed for next time,” but there’s a clear chemistry and stylistic cohesion between the two players that easily warrants further exploration.

“Beyond Distance” may be an outward highlight, but it’s not the ultimate achievement of Eye for an Eye. The pairing of the whisper-inclusive “Good Things in Life” (which presumably ends side A of the vinyl release) and “The Load We Carry” strips the album down to the bone of its bones before prefacing the landscape that will unfold across “The River of Shadows” and “The Last Wave,” marking a place with the punctuating thud of what might be Eye for an Eye‘s first actual drumming, which arrives no less patient, methodical or unhurried than anything in its surroundings. Interestingly, as Richardson emerges on “Spearhead,” he does so over a more active guitar line not entirely dissimilar in structure from that of “Beyond Distance” — as though Kärki is laying out a carpet of melody for these distinguished visitors — and Kärki does join his fellow Turku native in harmony later in the song, though it seems to be doubled layers of Richardson alone that create the standout moment of the song in its final verse circa the 3:15 mark, leading the way into the keyboard opening, volume swells and ambient vocals that begin “The River of Shadows.”

Though its title implies something of a threat — or maybe it’s meant as a simple reference to the notion of reprisal, being the second full-length and all — Eye for an Eye is not mired by any kind of violence. Especially as it enters its final movement, it is instead a rich and affecting journey led by the assured guidance of Kärki‘s songwriting, and while “The River of Shadows” and “The Last Wave” push beyond the solitude envisioned throughout “Entangled in Pleasure” or “Augurs of Winter” (on which Kärki never seems to actually be alone) proffered, that assurance is unwavering. “The River of Shadows” picks up late with a more forceful strum and tambourine and percussion to end with the words “…mournful cries” before a foreboding low-end rumble and sample start “The Last Wave.” Kärki‘s finish follows suit shortly before five minutes in, but turns instead to its backing harmonies and synthesized atmospherics to lead the way to Eye for an Eye‘s last moments, ending as purposefully with keys as it began with guitar as the different sides draw together into one gorgeous, cohesive and resounding entirety.

As an answer to the aesthetic promise of The Bone of My BonesEye for an Eye gracefully succeeds in setting forth on a development across multiple avenues of composition and execution. One only hopes that Kärki, always busy in a range of projects, will keep moving ahead with the raw honesty of his solo work that seems to tie them all together.

Kimi Kärki on Thee Facebooks

Lord Vicar on Thee Facebooks

Eye for an Eye at Svart Records webstore

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on YouTube

Svart Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

Kimi Kärki to Release Eye for an Eye Aug. 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kimi karki

Along with the recent announcement that his band Lord Vicar will doom out atop the bill of the inaugural Emerald Haze festival this September in Dublin (info here) comes word that Finnish guitarist Kimi Kärki — also ex-Reverend Bizarre, Orne, and so on — will release a second solo long-player in August. Eye for an Eye, which is up for preorder now through respected purveyor Svart Records, is the follow-up to Kärki‘s 2013 solo debut, The Bone of My Bones (streamed here), which brought to bear an array of atmospheric and folkish melodies, presented raw and as honest as could be.

Going by the description below, it seems more might be in store arrangement-wise for Eye for an Eye, but with the second circular title and all it doesn’t seem unlikely there will be some continuity between the albums either. I look forward to finding out.

From the social medias:

kimi karki eye for an eye

Kimi Kärki – Eye for an Eye

Kimi Kärki: Eye For An Eye will be out in Friday the 18th of August, 2017. CD, LP, Digital via Svart Records, Finland. Also available from that cool record store near YOU. Preorder: https://www.svartrecords.com/product/eye-for-an-eye/

Kimi Kärki is a Finnish cultural historian, guitar player and singer-songwriter. Known for his versatile guitar playing and sombre compositions for Reverend Bizarre, Lord Vicar, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, and, most recently, Uhrijuhla, Kärki has developed his recognisable playing style within doom metal, progressive, folk, and electric ambient scenes. This variety of mostly underground styles reflects the open and intuitive approach to music, which is in the very heart of Kärki’s craft.

Eye for an Eye is Kärki’s second singer-songwriter album. It is a follow-up to The Bone of My Bones, a 2013 effort that was also released by Svart Records. When the first one was built on 12-string guitar foundation, this time things are even more intimate, personal and heartfelt, the songs are played with warm nylon string tones that come closer to the listener. But that heart is supported by a rich decoration of other sounds and harmonies.

The stories told on this record are romantic, in the old meaning of the world. They have their origins in both lived life and what could be called the Dreaming, but also resonate the culture that surrounds the dreamer. Both the pain and the joy are real. Give these songs some time, and they might heal you a bit, just like they healed the songwriter himself. Please listen loud, and preferably when you can forget everything else for a while. Even the silences speak volumes here.

To maximise the listening pleasure, Kärki again decided to invite some friends to contribute additional guest vocals. Patrick Walker is best known as the emotional vocalist and songwriter of both Warning and 40 Watt Sun, and John Richardson — who just released his superb debut album on Svart Records — is an old school musician and the Professor of Musicology at University of Turku. He was already heard on the first album, just like the two stunning female vocalists, Anna-Elena Pääkkölä and Pirita Känkänen, whose clear harmonies juxtapose Kärki’s sombre delivery. The album was again engineered by Joona Lukala. The collaboration with this sharp-eared audio wizard helped Kärki to realise the ambitious aural stories as intended — enjoy Eye for an Eye.

https://www.facebook.com/kimi.karki
https://www.facebook.com/lordvicar/
https://www.svartrecords.com/product/eye-for-an-eye/
www.facebook.com/svartrecords
www.youtube.com/svartrecords
www.twitter.com/svartrecords

Kimi Kärki, The Bone of My Bones (2013)

Tags: , , , , ,

The Obelisk Presents: THE TOP 30 ALBUMS OF 2016

Posted in Features on December 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk top 30

Please note: This post is not culled in any way from the Year-End Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2016 to that, please do.

I say this every year: These are my picks. If you’re unfamiliar with this site, or you don’t come here that often, or if you do and just normally don’t give a crap — all of which is cool — you should know it’s all run by one person. One human being. Me. My name is JJ, and this is a list of what I think are the best albums that were released in 2016.

Since before 2016 began, I’ve kept a running list of releases. My criteria for what gets included in this list is largely unchanged — it’s a balance between what I feel are important records on the level of what they achieve, what I listened to most, what held some other personal appeal, and what I think did the best job of meeting the goals it set for itself. Pretty vague, right? That’s the idea.

The nature of worldwide heavy has become so broad that to encompass it all under some universal standard is laughable. Judging psychedelia, garage rock, heavy psych, doom, sludge and so on by the same measure makes no sense, and as genres continue to splinter and remake themselves as we’ve seen them doing all year and over the last several years, one must be malleable in one’s own taste. We’ve seen a new generation of heavy rock bands emerge in the last three-plus years. It’s been amazing, and there are a few pivotal second and third records that came out in 2016 to affirm that movement underway. Look for it to continue into 2017 and beyond.

This year more than any other seemed to want to bring the different sides together. A laudable goal. Thick riffing marked with flourish of psychedelia. Spacious doom bred against folk impulses. There’s been experimentation around melds that have led to considerable triumphs, and it just doesn’t seem to me that rigid standards can apply. It’s why I don’t grade reviews and never did.

Sound is evolving now as it always has been and as it will keep doing, but like any year, 2016 had a full share of landmarks to offer as a part of that process. As universal development hopefully remains ongoing, it’s only right that we celebrate the accomplishments helping to push it along its winding and sometimes divergent-seeming paths.

I have no doubt you know what I mean. Let’s get to the list:

30. Talmud Beach, Chief

talmud beach chief

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Feb. 10.

Seems only fair to start with a record I couldn’t put down. Finnish trio Talmud Beach‘s second album and Svart debut, Chief, hit on just the right blend of laid back, semi-acoustic groove-blues, psychedelia and classic progressive folk rock, but with the exception of its sprawling dreamscape title-track (a welcome arrival at the finale), it also kept the songwriting simple, resulting in a natural, pastoral feel that only highlighted their melodic range in songs like “Mountain Man” and “Snow Snow Snow.” I think it flew under a lot of people’s radar, but I’ve kept going back to it over the course of the year and I see no reason to stop.

29. Comet Control, Center of the Maze

comet control center of the maze

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed June 22.

Space is still the place. I’ve already highlighted closer “Artificial Light” from Comet Control‘s sophomore LP, Center of the Maze as my favorite song of 2016, so I’ll spare you the longwinded treatise on its languid cosmic glories — this time — but consider this a reminder that that song was by no means the limit of what the eight-track release had to offer in terms of breadth. From the opening push of “Dig out Your Head” to the dream-drift of “Sick in Space,” it unfolded tonal presence and a melodic depth that engaged a gorgeous, multifaceted sonic wash as it moved onward toward that landmark conclusion.

28. Droids Attack, Sci-Fi or Die

droids attack sci-fi or die

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 17.

There was not a level on which Madison, Wisconsin’s Droids Attack didn’t make it clear they were going all-out, all-in on Sci-Fi or Die. Even the title speaks to the stakes involved. And sure enough, the trio executed their fourth album with a sense of urgency and professionalism in songcraft, production, artwork (discussed here) and nuance of presentation that managed to make even a song called “Clawhammer Suicide” a classy affair. As guitarist/vocalist Brad Van said on the hidden title-track, “Death to false stoner thrash.” Droids Attack brought that ethic and more to life across the entire record.

27. Beelzefuzz, The Righteous Bloom

beelzefuzz the righteous bloom

Released by Restricted Release and The Church Within. Reviewed Aug. 2.

A winding road brought Beelzefuzz around to following up their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), and as The Righteous Bloom brought guitarist/vocalist Dana Ortt and drummer Darin McCloskey together with bassist Bert Hall and lead guitarist Greg Diener, it found their songwriting more expansive, more progressive and dug further into their own particular oddball sense of grandeur. I’ve said on multiple occasions that no one out there is doing what Beelzefuzz are doing and that continues to be true. Even as a first offering from a new lineup of the band, The Righteous Bloom took bold and exciting forward steps.

26. Foghound, The World Unseen

foghound the world unseen

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed July 6.

Down to business. Immediately. Not a moment to spare. Taking part in what can only be considered a landmark year for Ripple Music, Baltimore’s Foghound issued The World Unseen as an answer to their 2013 debut, Quick, Dirty and High (review here), and upped their game across the board. From the intensity in the hooks of “Message in the Sky” and Rockin’ and Rollin'” to the quiet interlude of “Bridge of Stonebows” and the mid-paced heavy rock nod of “Never Return,” they made a strong case for themselves among their label’s foremost acts and found individualism in the growth of their songwriting. It was a kick in the ass you weren’t going to forget.

25a. Egypt, Endless Flight

egypt endless flight

Released by Doomentia Records. Reviewed Dec. 11, 2015.

Put out by the band digitally in Dec. 2015 and issued on vinyl in 2016, Egypt‘s second LP, Endless Flight may be somewhat debatable in terms of when it actually landed (hence “25a.,” above), but the quality of the six-tracker more than warrants inclusion anyway. Rolling dense, massively-fuzzed groove, its nine-minute opening title-track set the course for the Fargo, North Dakota, three-piece, and they only grew the heavy revelry from there, as heard on the penultimate “Black Words,” which seemed to be chewing on rocks even as it played back and forth in tempo, build and push. The converted never had it so good.

25. 1000mods, Repeated Exposure To…

1000mods repeated exposure to

Released by Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug Recordings. Reviewed Sept. 20.

There seems to be no stopping the Chiliomodi-based 1000mods, who with their third album have stepped to the forefront of Greece’s populous and vibrant heavy rock underground. Progressed well beyond where even 2014’s impressive Vultures (review here) found them, they seemed to hit a stride with Repeated Exposure To… thanks in part to road time and the ability to bring that energy directly into songs like the eight-minute roller “Loose” and the sizable crashes of “Groundhog Day.” Momentum working in their favor could be heard front-to-back from “Above 179” to “Into the Spell,” moving them toward something ever-more crucial and marking a considerable achievement along that path. 2017 might be a good time for them to test the waters with initial US shows.

24. Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy

black rainbows stellar prophecy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 11.

Quick turnaround from Roman heavy psych magnate Gabriele Fiori (guitar/vocals) and company, but though it hit just about 13 months after their fourth full-length, Hawkdope (review here), Black Rainbows, Stellar Prophecy wholly succeeded in making an impact of its own, cuts like the oozing, organ-laced “Woman” and 11-minute jam-out triumph “Golden Widow” showcasing an approach in a continuous state of refinement that seems to get rawer as it goes, shifting like a rogue planetoid toward some maddening cosmic realization. How something can seem both so frenetic and so blissful is still a mystery, and perhaps that’s part of what makes Stellar Prophecy resonate as it does, but either way, Black Rainbows brought together some of the year’s most efficient psychedelic immersion.

23. Borracho, Atacama

borracho atacama

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed Nov. 14.

Borracho don’t seem to release an album until they have something to say. That was to their credit on Atacama, their third LP and label debut for Kozmik Artifactz debut. Also their second collection issued as a trio behind 2013’s Oculus (review here), it distinguished itself from its predecessor in its sense of overarching flow, shifting between the ahead-thrust of “Gold from Sand” into the 10-minute sample-laden jam “Overload” to start out with such ease that the listener had little choice but to follow along. With an expanded scope on “Drifted away from the Sun” and the lightly-strummed memento mori “Flower,” Borracho found new avenues of expression to complement their well established dense, heavy riffing, and took obvious care in crafting their most realized LP yet.

22. The Golden Grass, Coming Back Again

the golden grass coming back again

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed April 26.

Nothing Brooklyn’s The Golden Grass does feels like happenstance, and though their classic-styled boogie is imbued with a vibrant, friendly positive energy, there’s an underlying meticulousness in their arrangements and in their songwriting that came further into focus on Coming Back Again, their sophomore release 2014’s self-titled debut (review here). A more progressive take showed itself in “Reflections” and “Down the Line,” and taken in combination with the bookends “Get it Together” and “See it Through,” the three-piece stood on ground that was even more their own than on the first record, striking a careful balance between the willful exploration of new elements and the outright need for tracks to directly engage their listeners with catchy hooks and upbeat vibes. They did it. Expect continued growth.

21. Curse the Son, Isolator

curse the son isolator

Released by Snake Charmer Coalition and The Company Records. Reviewed March 1.

For something so awash in fuzz, so nodding in its rhythms, so let’s-push-the-vocals-back-under-this-huge-awesome-fucking-riff, Curse the Son‘s Isolator was also remarkably clearheaded in its purposes. With the added vocal harmonies of “Callous Unemotional Traits,” the far-off spaces of “Hull Crush Depth” and the stoner metal despair of “Aislamiento,” the Connecticut three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Ron Vanacore, capital-‘d’ Drummer Michael Petrucci and newcomer bassist Brendan Keefe drew a direct, intentional line to sometimes-grueling (hello, “Sleepwalker Wakes”) weighted tonality and found justification for their largesse in its own being. Like 2012’s Psychache (review here), I expect to be returning to Isolator over a longer term than this single year of release.

20. Neurosis, Fires Within Fires

neurosis fires within fires

Released by Neurot Recordings. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I feel like I need to explain myself here. Make no mistake, NeurosisFires Within Fires is among the year’s most accomplished offerings. There’s just about no way it wouldn’t be. So why not top 10? Top five? It’s a question of timing. With the long-running post-metal progenitors, it’s always a longer digestion period. It was about two years before 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) really sunk in, and I expect Fires Within Fires will work similarly over the greater term. Maybe a little guilt on my part for the disparity between its quality and its placement, but rest assured, Neurosis remain among the most imperative bands walking the earth, and as they took on the full brunt of 30 years of unmitigated progression through Fires Within Fires, they were no less brazen in pushing themselves creatively than they’ve ever been.

19. Conan, Revengeance

conan revengeance

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Jan. 19.

Though the narrative of Conan has remained largely unchanged since their inception — hack, slash, kill, riff — and they still bask in nigh-on-unmatched tonal slaughter, their third full-length brings a few key developments. Perhaps most notable from opener “Throne of Fire” onward is the vocal interplay between guitarist/founder Jon Davis and bassist/longtime-engineer Chris Fielding, who joined after 2014’s Blood Eagle (review here). Adding Fielding‘s deeper growls allowed Davis to subtly move into a cleaner shout, and the emergent dynamic between them made Revengeance a decidedly expanded affair compared to Conan‘s past work. Adding drummer Rich Lewis to the mix was no minor shift either, and as much as Conan had already established their sheer dominance, they also sounded refreshed and set themselves up to keep growing.

18. Baby Woodrose, Freedom

baby woodrose freedom

Released by Bad Afro Records. Reviewed Aug. 18.

Some records just feel like gifts, and though many of its lyrical positions were cynical — “Reality,” “21st Century Slave,” “Mind Control Machine,” “Red the Sign Post,” etc. — Freedom marked the 15th anniversary of Danish garage-psych rockers Baby Woodrose with dripping lysergic aplomb, reminding some four years after their last LP, 2012’s Third Eye Surgery (review here), that bandleader Lorenzo Woodrose is unparalleled when it comes to manifesting his take on the psychedelic victories of 13th Floor Elevators and classic-era Hawkwind — firmly at home levitating on the edge of time. Its swirl and underlying foundation of songwriting, its Richie Havens cover title-track, and its sprawling interstellar “Termination” were like a welcome check-in from another dimension, and I only hope it’s not four years before Woodrose sends the next signal. Earth needs this band.

17. Geezer, Geezer

geezer geezer

Released by Ripple Music and STB Records. Reviewed Nov. 10.

I’m not going to discount the shuffle of “Sunday Speed Demon” or sleeze of “Sunday Speed Demon,” but where Geezer‘s self-titled third full-length really showed how far the New York heavy blues-psych trio have come was in its extended midsection jams, “Sun Gods,” “Bi-Polar Vortex” and “Dust,” each of which showed a distinct approach while feeding into an engaging flow between them, offering a blend of trailmarker hooks as they drifted into realms of organic chemistry previously uncharted by the band. The slow-motion swing of “Hangnail Crisis,” raucous push of “Superjam Maximus” and concluding bounce of “Stoney Pony” brought them back down to earth to finish out with a symmetry to the album’s opening, but Geezer kept a collective hand on the controls the whole voyage and when they landed, it was an arrival indeed, and very much what their two previous records were building toward.

16. EYE, Vision and the Ageless Light

eye vision and the ageless light

Released by The Laser’s Edge. Reviewed Nov. 17.

Beautifully experimental with its 27-minute finisher “As Sure as the Sun,” EYE‘s Vision and the Ageless Light seemed throughout its whole 46-minute run to be executing a cohesive vision in its synth-soaked progressive textures. Between the intro “Book of the Dead” and the subsequent “Kill the Slavemaster,” “Searching,” “Dweller of the Twilight Void” and the already-noted closer, each piece had something different to offer that added to the full impact of the whole, and with guitarist Jon Finely and bassist Michael Sliclen joining founding drummer/vocalist Brandon Smith and synth/Mellotron/Moog-ist Lisa Bella Donna (also vocals and acoustic guitar), EYE added to the scope of 2013’s Second Sight (review here) and found a place for themselves where prog complexity didn’t need to come at the expense of memorable songwriting and spaced-out vibes. An absolute joy, front to back.

15. Fatso Jetson, Idle Hands

fatso jetson idle hands

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Oct. 3.

Even Fatso Jetson themselves would probably have to admit that six years — even a six years that saw several splits, singles, etc. — was too long between albums. Fortunately, Idle Hands saw the desert rock forebears in top form as regards their quirk-fueled songwriting, angular approach to punk and inimitable groove. Following 2010’s Archaic Volumes (review here) was no easy task, but with additional depth to the material from the contributions of guitarist Dino von Lalli — son of founding guitarist/vocalist Mario Lalli and nephew of founding bassist Larry Lalli — guest spots from his sister Olive Lalli as well as Sean Wheeler (the latter moves second cut “Portuguese Dream” into high-echelon strangeness) and the ever-propulsive drumming of Tony Tornay, Fatso Jetson were both all over the place and right at the core of where they most ought to be sonically. At 56 minutes, it hardly seemed long enough.

14. Hexvessel, When We are Death

hexvessel when we are death

Released by Century Media. Reviewed Feb. 5.

Each song was like a different persona the band adopted momentarily, whether it was the Bowie-goes-proto-goth-prog of organ-ic opener “Transparent Eyeball” or the grim pastoralia of “Mirror Boy” and the condemnations/proclamations of “Drugged up on the Universe,” but wherever Hexvessel went on their third full-length and Century Media debut, When We are Death, that unifying theme went with them. Death. It was everywhere in the Finland-based genre-benders’ deeply varied approach, though its presence made their material in no way off-putting, and in the case of cuts like “Cosmic Truth” or the later “Mushroom Spirit Doors,” not even dark, and as it drew the tracks together despite working in different sounds and style, it became apparent that When We are Death worked because of a universal quality in songwriting and presentation allowing for such drastic shifts without any risk of losing the audience.

13. Zun, Burial Sunrise

zun burial sunrise

Released by Small Stone Records. Reviewed Feb. 16.

Yawning Man guitarist Gary Arce — a key figure in the development of desert rock and a player of unmatched tone, period — had quite a year, between Zun‘s Burial Sunrise, his main outfit and his collaboration with Fatso Jetson vs. HifiKlub, but it was the dreamscape drift of songs like “Come Through the Water” and “All that You Say I Am” as well as the subtle hooks of “Into the Wasteland” and “All for Nothing” that, for me, made this the highlight. Sure, bringing in vocalists Sera Timms (Ides of Gemini, Black Mare) and John Garcia (ex-Kyuss, Slo Burn, Vista Chino, etc.) and having them swap back and forth between the tracks didn’t hurt either, but the wash of ethereal presence in Arce‘s guitar was an excellent showcase for his patience and improvisational sensibilities, and the spaces Burial Sunrise covered seemed to have an infinite horizon all their own. Will hope for a follow-up, will hope Garcia and Timms return, and will hope for a duet.

12. Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree

elephant tree elephant tree

Released by Magnetic Eye Records. Reviewed Jan. 29.

One had reasonably high expectations for the debut full-length from London’s Elephant Tree after their 2014 EP Theia (review here) so deftly blended spacious, sitar-laced heavy psychedelic rock with more visceral sludge impulses — a difficult mix to pull off — but I think it would’ve been impossible to see the quality of this self-titled outing coming in any substantive way. Gone were the screams, in was a depth of tone and nigh-on-perfect tempo — see “Dawn” and “Aphotic Blues,” as well as the acoustic “Circles” between them — and where some first albums have a kind of tentative, feeling-it-out vibe, guitarist/vocalist Jack Townley (interview here), bassist/vocalist Peter Holland, drummer Sam Hart and sitarist/vocalist/engineer Riley MacIntyre took utter command of the proceedings. They won’t have the element of surprise working for them next time, but as Elephant Tree made perfectly clear in its biggest surprise of all, neither do they need it.

11. Mos Generator, Abyssinia

mos generator abyssinia

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed July 12.

If you were to ask me to summarize in one word the last four-plus years of Mos Generator‘s tenure, since their reactivation with 2012’s Nomads (review here) and the subsequent lineup changes and hard-touring that followed 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), I’d say “go.” I might say it three times: Go-go-go. One of three LP-ish offerings out this year, the studio album Abyssinia embodied this ethic as it started with immediate momentum on “Strangest Times” and “You’ve Got a Right” and seemed to push itself into new ground as it went. Guitarist/vocalist/founder Tony Reed brought heavy boogie to bear at a frenetic clip, but Abyssinia offset its early mania with later progressive stylization on “There’s No Return from Nowhere,” “Time and Other Thieves” and harmonized closer “Outlander,” so that in addition to representing their furious creativity, it also brought them to places they’ve never been before in sound.

10. Slomatics, Future Echo Returns

slomatics future echo returns

Released by Black Bow Records. Reviewed June 29.

In some ways, Future Echo Returns was simply picking up where Belfast’s Slomatics left off with 2014’s Estron (review here), as heard on the riff of lead-in track “Estronomicon,” but as the third in a purported trilogy following that record and 2012’s A Hocht, it also brought the tonecrushing three-piece to Skyhammer Studio to work with producer Chris Fielding (Conan) and presented a linear storyline that, while rife with standout moments in cuts like “Electric Breath,” the ambient “Ritual Beginnings” and ultra-catchy “Supernothing,” found a genuine sense of resolution in the finale “Into the Eternal” that spoke to the scope the entire work was meant to represent — not just itself, but an entirety spanning three albums. Not a minor feat, but what also made Future Echo Returns so resonant was how well the material stood on its own, so that even without the narrative context, it was immersive, hypnotic and unbridled in its heft.

9. Wo Fat, Midnight Cometh

wo fat midnight cometh

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 21.

After two landmarks issued by Small Stone in 2014’s The Conjuring (review here) and 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here), Texas forerunners of riff Wo Fat gave a concise rundown of their appeal in the six-track Ripple debut and sixth LP overall, Midnight Cometh. Their ongoing development as found them bringing together a two-sided personality of memorable songs and open, fluid jams, and cuts like “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” emphasized the next stage of this process, while the shuffling “Riffborn” and swaggering blues rock of “La Dilleme de Detenu” gave listeners a chance to touch ground every now and again. Over the last two-plus years, Wo Fat have become a point of influence for other, particularly American, acts — see labelmates Geezer — and Midnight Cometh assured that will be the case going forward too; a status well-earned.

8. King Buffalo, Orion

king buffalo orion

Released by Stickman Records. Reviewed July 29.

Offered up this summer as a limited self-release and picked up by no less than Stickman Records (Motorpsycho, Elder), Orion might be the most molten inclusion on this list. It’s also my pick for 2016 Debut of the Year, and to hear cuts like “She Sleeps on a Vine,” “Kerosene,” the sprawling closer “Drinking from the River Rising,” or even just to take the whole record front-to-back, which was clearly how the band intended it be experienced, there’s just about no competition in that regard that stands up. The Rochester, NY, three-piece showed marked promise on their 2013 demo (review here) and 2015 split with Lé Betre (review here), but the listenability of Orion — which earned every single one of its repeat visits — made it a triumph on a different level entirely, and distinguished King Buffalo as a formidable presence in the sphere of US heavy psychedelia, fostering a sound no less soulful for its outward cosmic reach and to-be-measured-in-lightyears scale of potential.

7. Wight, Love is Not Only What You Know

wight love is not only what you know

Released by Fat and Holy Records, Kozmik Artifactz, Import Export Music and SPV. Reviewed Sept. 7.

German outfit Wight answered significant anticipation on their third album, Love is Not Only What You Know, some four years after 2012’s Through the Woods into Deep Water (review here) and undertook a significant evolution in sound. A transition from a trio to a four-piece and adding a strong current of funk to their heavy psych groove and boogie resulted in cuts like “The Muse and the Mule,” the jammed-out “Kelele” and “The Love for Life Leads to Reincarnation,” which were as danceable as they were nod-ready, and when complemented by shorter classic rockers like “Helicopter Mama” and “I Wanna Know What You Feel” (still plenty funky) and the Eastern-tinged interlude “Three Quarters,” gave Love is Not Only What You Know scope to match its ass-shaking encouragement. It was a spirit unto itself among 2016 releases, but ultimately, the key to understanding the record was right there in the title: It was all about love, and wherever Wight went in a given track, they never lost sight of that.

6. Greenleaf, Rise Above the Meadow

greenleaf rise above the meadow

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 18.

A decade and a half after 2001’s Revolution Rock (discussed here), Sweden’s Greenleaf most embodied that ethic with Rise Above the Meadow, their sixth long-player and Napalm Records debut. 2014’s Trails and Passes (review here) represented the key step of founding guitarist Tommi Holappa (interview here) bringing vocalist Arvid Johnsson into the lineup, but Rise Above the Meadow built exponentially on what that album achieved, bolstered by work as a touring band and a revitalized songwriting process heard in “Howl,” “A Million Fireflies,” “You’re Gonna be My Ruin,” the stomping “Golden Throne” and “Tyrants Tongue,” among others. I refuse to discount the quality of Trails and Passes, 2012’s Nest of Vipers (review here) or 2007’s landmark Agents of Ahriman (review here), but as Greenleaf shifted toward a style more reminiscent of Holappa‘s later output with Dozer, they also seemed to stake their claim on the forefront of European heavy rock and roll, which was just waiting for them to do so.

5. Brant Bjork, Tao of the Devil

brant bjork tao of the devil

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Sept. 15.

Perhaps the most believable lyric of 2016 was the opening line of leadoff cut “The Gree Heen” from Brant Bjork‘s Tao of the Devil: “I got all that I need. I got the gree-heen.” From the prominent pot leaf on the cover to that single clause — which set the tone for that song’s mega-nod as much as everything that followed in the boogie of “Humble Pie” and “Stackt,” the so-laid-back-it’s-almost-unconscious title-track and the longer-form explorations of “Dave’s War” and the wah’ed-out “Evening Jam” — the inimitable Bjork seems to have embraced the role of stoner guru and the Godfather of Desert Rock. Tao of the Devil was his second release through Napalm behind 2014’s Black Power Flower (review here), which introduced the Low Desert Punk Band, and far from hanging its hat on the man’s historical accomplishments from his days in KyussFu ManchuCheVista Chino, etc., the 50-minute eight-tracker came fueled by the soul most typified in Bjork‘s solo catalog, which it’s increasingly easy to argue is his greatest contribution to the desert aesthetic. Definitely in his wheelhouse, but what a wheelhouse.

4. Asteroid, III

asteroid iii

Released by Fuzzorama Records. Reviewed Oct. 21.

What a relief it was to have Asteroid back, and what a relief it was to have III arrive some six years after II (review here) and find the Örebro, Sweden, trio’s certified-organic chemistry undulled by that long stretch. The songs — “Pale Moon,” “Last Days,” “Til Dawn,” “Wolf and Snake,” “Silver and Gold,” “Them Calling,” “Mr. Strange” — there wasn’t a miss in the bunch, and in addition to the reignited craftsmanship, III made clear a progression as players and the intent to move forward from guitarist/vocalist Robin Hirse, bassist/vocalist Johannes Nilsson and drummer Elvis Campbell (since replaced by Jimmi Kolscheen), so that the material didn’t just let listeners know Asteroid was a band again after having unceremoniously faded out for a half-decade, but gave a signal that perhaps they were just getting started. One can only hope that turns out to be the case, but either way, III felt like a reward dolled out to their fanbase after a long absent stretch, and one that, like II and their 2007 self-titled debut (discussed here) before it, will reverberate its echoes for years to come. Hands down 2016’s most welcome return.

3. Gozu, Revival

gozu revival

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 19.

Though it would carry the context of its scorching opener “Nature Boy” with it for the duration and, accordingly, hit with a more intense feel than its 2013 predecessor, The Fury of a Patient Man (review here), Gozu‘s fourth album overall and Ripple label debut was a kick in the ass on more than just that one level. It found the Boston foursome with the finally-solidified lineup of vocalist/guitarist Marc Gaffney, guitarist Doug Sherman, bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Mike Hubbard, and while one could argue they still wound up under the banner of a heavy rock band, that became happenstance to the songs themselves. That is, even more than The Fury of a Patient Man or 2010’s Locust Season (review here), Gozu came across as writing not to style, but to their own impulses, as demonstrated in “Big Casino,” the echoing soul of “Tin Chicken” and shuffle-thrust of “Oldie,” and as they moved beyond their initial swath of influence into this individualized sonic persona, they reaped the benefits of the locked-in lineup and a process of craft that never sounded so purposeful. Revival was indeed typified by its vitality, but it was also the sound of a band maturing as a unit, becoming who they were meant to be, and there is almost nothing more exciting than that for a single album to represent. Plus, it had a song called “By Mennen,” and, you know, references.

2. Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)

mars red sky apex iii praise for the burning soul

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed Feb. 24.

It was unreasonable to expect the third full-length from Bordeaux, France, trio Mars Red Sky to surpass 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here) and the progressive crux that album brought to the warm tones and sweet melodicism of their 2011 self-titled debut (review here), but Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) reinforced the elements that worked so well on previous outings while pushing inarguably onto what the band seemed to know was “Alien Ground” if the title of their intro was anything to go by. More over, it did so with a natural fluidity and poise that were as striking as they were encompassing in sound. Tying to earlier 2016’s Providence EP (review here) in concept and execution through that intro and the title-track following it, Apex III presented the to-date pinnacle of Mars Red Sky‘s growth in songs like “The Whinery,” “Mindreader,” the tear-inducing “Under the Hood,” the swing-happy “Friendly Fire,” the willful atmospheric crash of closer “Prodigal Sun” — each one a crucial advancing step from the trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Mathieu “Matgaz” Gazeau — and brilliantly fed them one into the other, so that in addition to the standout impressions of each, there developed a personality to the whole span of the album; a world of Mars Red Sky‘s own creation, where they dwelt for what seemed too short a time before returning to earth and on from here to who knows where next.

1. SubRosa, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages

subrosa for this we fought the battle of ages

Released by Profound Lore. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Most of all, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages was fearless. For their fourth album, Salt Lake City’s SubRosa adapted themes from 1924’s We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, which laid out a futuristic dystopia wherein all identity is subsumed to the state and even love is outlawed when not properly sanctioned. This framework, obscure if influential, gave guitarist/vocalist Rebecca Vernon, violinist/vocalist Sarah Pendleton, violinist/backing vocalist Kim Pack, bassist/vocalist Levi Hanna, drummer/engineer Andy Patterson (formerly of Iota, among others), and a range of other contributors, a space in which to explore gender and LGBT issues across the six included tracks, and from the opening build and crush of the chorus to “Despair is a Siren” through the depiction of privilege in “Wound of the Warden,” the 97-second Italian-language ballad “Il Cappio” (translated: “the noose”) and into the gut-wrenching finale of “Troubled Cells,” their musical accomplishment was no less stunning than lyrics like, “Isn’t it good to be acquainted with darkness?/To caress it gently/To slit its throat,” from “Black Majesty.” Tense in its quiet stretches, harmonized vocally, given orchestral presence through its use of strings, flute, French horn, and so on, For this We Fought the Battle of Ages worked fluidly in what for most acts would be a contradictory modus of careful, meticulous arrangements and raw, emotional realism. No matter how deep it dove — and by the time identity was being erased and the state was taking control of the body on “Killing Rapture,” it was diving pretty deep — SubRosa never lost their sense of poise, so that the defiance in the last movement of “Troubled Cells” in which Heaven itself is rejected with the clearest of justifications, “Paradise is a lie if you’re not by my side,” the band seemed to stand as straight and tall as their multi-tiered righteousness would warrant. But even if one took For this We Fought the Battle of Ages with politics aside, its achievement in marrying post-metallic structures, gothic texture and progressive atmospherics was on a plane of its own making, operating under its own rules and in its own definitive space. Albums like it do not happen every year, and forward motion for genre as a whole is rarely so visible as it was in this special offering, which seems only fair to regard as a landmark for the band and anyone whose ears and hearts it touched.

The Next 20

Like any good Top 30, mine goes to 50. Here is the next batch:

31. Blaak Heat, Shifting Mirrors
32. Truckfighters, V
33. West, Space & Love, Vol. II
34. Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, Tranquonauts
35. Yawning Man, Historical Graffiti
36. Causa Sui, Return to Sky
37. Vokonis, Olde One Ascending
38. Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Phantomonium
39. The Wounded Kings, Visions in Bone
40. It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Our Birth is but a Sleep and a Forgetting
41. Beastwars, The Death of all Things
42. Naxatras, II
43. Holy Grove, Holy Grove
44. Worshipper, Shadow Hymns
45. Wretch, Wretch
46. Colour Haze, Live Vol. I: Europa Tournee 2015
47. Zaum, Eidolon
48. Bellringer, Jettison
49. Young Hunter, Young Hunter
50. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Y Proffwyd Dwyll

From the kinetic desert artistry of Blaak Heat to Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard’s ethereal synth-laden doom, there are more than a few essentials here. I’ve never before done a year-end list that had so many releases on it, but my motivation in doing so this time around couldn’t have been simpler: They were simply too good and had too much to offer to leave out. It would’ve been an oversight to do so.

Honorable Mentions

Even a Top 50 fails to grasp the full scope of what 2016 brought about musically, so here are even more, alphabetically:

Ancient Warlocks, II
Black Moon Circle, Sea of Clouds
Sergio Ch., Aurora
Lamp of the Universe, Hidden Knowledge
Mondo Drag, The Occultation of Light
Øresund Space Collective, Visions Of…
-(16)-, Lifespan of a Moth
Spidergawd, III
The Well, Pagan Science
Wovenhand, Star Treatment

And if that’s still not enough, here are 60-plus more names who shouldn’t be left out of the discussion, also alphabetically:

Akris, Atala, Atomikylä, Backwoods Payback, Beastmaker, BigPig, Black Cobra, Black Lung, Blood Ceremony, Blues Pills, Bright Curse, Bus, Dee Calhoun, Captain Crimson, Child, La Chinga, Church of Misery, Conclave, Cough, Devil to Pay, Domkraft, Dot Legacy, Electric Citizen, Estoner, Eternal Elysium, Fatso Jetson & Gary Arce vs. Hifiklub, Fox 45, Goatess, Goblin Cock, Graves at Sea, Heavy Temple (they’ll be back on next year’s list), High Fighter, Holy Serpent, Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Inter Arma, Joy, Kaleidobolt, Khemmis, King Dead, Lord, Lord Vicar, Merchant, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Helen Money, Monkey3, Moon Coven, Mother Mooch, Necro, New Keepers of the Water Towers, T.G. Olson, Oranssi Pazuzu, Pooty Owldom, Russian Circles, Salem’s Pot, Samavayo, Seremonia, Skuggsjá, Sourvein, Spirit Adrift, Stone Machine Electric, Suma, Surya Kris Peters, Swans, Throttlerod, Virus, Wasted Theory, Wretch, and Zaum.

Thank You

In case none of the above has made it clear, I’ll just say flat out that 2016 has been an amazing year for music, and that every time I feel like maybe underground heavy has hit a wall and there’s nowhere left for it to go, sure enough about three minutes later another record shows up that slaps me in the face with a reminder of just how wrong that notion is.

If you’re still reading — how could you be? — thank you so much for your incredible support throughout 2016 and all the years The Obelisk has been in progress. I already know that 2017 is going to bring some incredible music as well, but that’s another list for another time, so I’ll just say again how much I appreciate your being a part of this ongoing project, how much it means to me to have you here. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

And please, if there’s anything I forgot, got wrong, misspelled, or if you just think I used the word “breadth” too many times, please let me know about it in the comments.

One more time: Thank you.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Reverend Bizarre, In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Reverend Bizarre, In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend (2002)

Finnish doomers Reverend Bizarre were only really around for 11 or 12 years, depending on what you count as their last official release, but their impact was massive in Europe and beyond. I’ll readily admit that for a long time, I didn’t get it. Some stuff resonates, some stuff doesn’t, and for me, Reverend Bizarre were one of those bands that other people really liked. It wasn’t until 2010 — and it’s way easier to remember exact dates on these kinds of things when you have an archive of posts about them — when I put up a short Buried Treasure piece about being in London and buying a copy of Reverend Bizarre‘s 2002 debut, In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend, and discussed how I’d always been relatively lukewarm on them, that I began to come around. The difference was made in a comment that post got from a reader who went by the moniker Shrike who commented around here for a while with much appreciated band recommendations — people come and go; nature of the beast — and what he did was really take the time to help me understand the context in which Reverend Bizarre first arrived. Here’s what he said:

Shrike says:
May 15, 2010 at 3:44 am
To me it’s not just the music, which is good, but about the fact that they made their music when nobody else was making it. They wrote music which was a tribute to the masters of the old, very rigidly anchored to the traditions of doom metal and very arrogant in their attitudes towards other modern music.

So I think their influece (sic) was huge and propelled doom metal into the spheres it is today, traditional doom metal in particular. Which also means that their influence and style was significant back then, but doesn’t necessarily translate “to today” as well.

What I’d been neglecting was understanding how little of this kind of thing there really was happening at the turn of the century. Even The Gates of Slumber here in the US, who started roughly concurrent to Reverend Bizarre in 1998, would take another two years to get their first album out, and while there was plenty of heavy rock around the US and Europe alike at that point and the two styles are closely linked in my estimation, in terms of doom by doomers for doomers, the names are fewer and farther between, especially when it comes to new bands (at the time) producing material with the quality of “Burn in Hell!,” “In the Rectory,” “The Hour of Death,” “Sodoma Sunrise,” “Doomsower” and “Cirith Ungol,” as much Saint Vitus as Black Sabbath, but delivered with the vitality and passion of a newer generation that, even 14 years later, is still palpable. I didn’t even respond to that comment at the time, because I’m a dick, but it’s been among the most helpful responses I’ve had to a piece of writing on this site, and it genuinely helped shape my opinion on Reverend Bizarre‘s contributions to the sphere of modern traditional doom.

Reverend Bizarre would release two more albums after In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend in 2005’s II: Crush the Insects and their 2007 swansong, III: So Long Suckers, along with an innumerable slew of splits, EPs an singles that actually make up the bulk of their catalog. Today, one can find bassist/vocalist Sami “Albert Witchfinder” Hynninen in Spiritus Mortis (who have a new LP coming), drummer Jari “Earl of Void” Pohjonen in Orne and guitarist Kimi “Peter Vicar” Kärki (Obelisk Questionnaire here) in that band as well as Lord Vicar — who already released an LP this year in Gates of Flesh (review here) — E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, his own solo work, and a host of other adventurous projects well worth digging into. That the one-time members of Revered Bizarre would still be contributing to the style these years after the band’s breakup only seems to prove their commitment to doom was no fluke, but a lifestyle choice, and one from which there’s no easy escape. Likewise, the tragic abysses into which In the Rectory of the Bizarre Reverend so willfully and dramatically plunges will not easily let the listener out again.

It’s autumn, so here’s some doom. I hope you enjoy.

This weekend, actually Sunday, marks my 12th wedding anniversary. As of next week, The Patient Mrs. and I will have been together for 19 years. Well more than half of my life. As soon as I get out of work, we’re going to Vermont for the weekend to celebrate. There’s no way you’d recall, and that’s cool, but six years ago, in 2010, we rented a cottage up there for a month (I did some writing while there, a couple posts about the trip) and had what were some of our best times to-date. This time we’re getting a house on the same piece of property just for a couple days, but I expect it will also be awesome. I’ve been very much looking forward to it and feeling generally fortunate to have such love as a defining portion of my life, which is a good way to feel. I’m a lucky, lucky boy. Far luckier than I deserve to be.

Next week, and really the next few weeks, are packed. Monday, a review/stream from Heavy Temple. Tuesday, a Seremonia album stream. Wednesday, a Yeti on Horseback album stream. Thursday, a Nightstalker review/stream. Friday, might post that Truckfighters interview I did at Høstsabbat last weekend. Then the week after that is the Quarterly Review and I have a few streams up my sleeve besides already, so yeah, we’re jammed just about into the middle of next month as it is. Plus there are some tour announcements and things like that slated, videos and so on. Much, much to discuss. I don’t know if the site’s ever had direction so far ahead as it does right at this moment. Then we get into list season as the holidays approach, the next Quarterly Review, the readers poll, etc. It’s madness from here on out, folks. I guess it’s been madness for a while.

But while I’ll spend some time preparing for the week probably early on Sunday, the focus this weekend is on hanging out with The Patient Mrs., basking in good times with her and the little dog Dio, maybe doing a little record shopping and generally feeling excellent about what is unquestionably the best part of my life.

My brain’s kind of all over the place as I wrap up the day/week, but while I mentioned it, I’d like to extend one more round of thanks to Ole Helsted and all involved with Høstsabbat last weekend in Oslo, Norway. I can’t even begin to tell you how validating it is for this entire ongoing project to have people half a world away appreciate the work done on this site enough to extend such a generous invitation and to be so incredibly welcoming and considerate upon my arrival. It was truly humbling and I was honored to be there. Then I met Slomatics. And that fucking ruled too. So yes, thank you again to Høstsabbat for having me.

I can’t help but feel like I’m forgetting something — always — but I think that should do it either way. I hope whatever you’re up to that you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , , ,

Craneium Sign to Ripple Music; Explore the Void Due this Winter

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

craneium

From the Finnish heavy hotbed of Turku, four-piece rockers Craneium issued their debut full-length, Explore the Void, last fall. The band has been picked up to do a pressing of the album via Ripple Music, and it’s received a “winter” release date, no doubt because the label’s schedule is so packed. Fair enough. It may be 2017 before the CD and/or LP shows up, but Explore the Void can be streamed in full now from Craneium‘s Bandcamp (also below), and boasts a fuzzy sound as true to its intent as it is the fiery skies in Alexander von Wieding‘s cover art.

You’ll find that below, followed by the release announcement from the PR wire.

Goes like this:

craneium explore the void-700

Ripple Music Signs Finnish Psych Rockers Craneium to World-wide Deal and New Album

Prepare for a huge slab of protometal leads, psychedelic riffs, rolling bass lines, with killer melodies and grooves, as Ripple Music unleashes the debut album from Finnish rockers Craneium “Explore the Void”.

Craneium was formed 2011 in Turku, Finland, but the roots of the members grow deep in rural Ostrobothnia, the bible-belt of Finland, further north where the are more Holy Books than Sabbath records on the shelves. Craneium formed around one goal – to write some seriously intense and fuzzy riff rock. Eager to play they immediately headed out for live shows as soon as they had penned together some tunes. Live the energetic nature of the band really comes alive and shines. When they perform they are one force with the music, which they projectile right into to the crowd at full volume. Needless to say, they always end a concert dripping in sweat with the audience mangled against a wall of fuzz.

The band released The Slowerdrive Tapes on cassette in 2013 and a 12″ split in 2014 with fellow ‘nauts 3rd Trip. 2014-15 they spent long hours recording the essence of these four years: “Explore The Void”, a 50 minute journey through fuzz rock mayhem. The bands sound is a constant ebb and flow of different influences. They go from atmospheric clean vibes that build up and build up, only to clash into fuzzy grooves. While they’re not trying to reinvent the wheel they’re giving it a hard spin with their own brand of fuzz rock!

Wrapped up in some stunning, artwork, this album creates a total sonic experience; the sort of thing that you can get utterly and beautifully lost in, as you travel beyond the valley and into the void.

Look for Craneium’s Ripple Music debut “Explore the Void” this winter on limited edition vinyl, world-wide vinyl, CD and digital.

https://www.facebook.com/craneiumband/
http://craneiumband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/craneiumband/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/

Craneium, Explore the Void (2015)

Tags: , , , , ,

Lost Boots Release Come Cold, Come Wind on May 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

lost boots

Finnish garage rockers Lost Boots will release their debut album via Svart Records on May 13. The record is titled Come Cold, Come Wind and preceded by the release of the track “Outdated,” which you can hear below, the band with vintage push of some fuller sound than many of the janglier/rawer garage variety, but still an overarching commitment to natural vibes that suits the classic structure of “Outdated” pretty well. I haven’t heard the complete album yet, so can’t comment on the rest of it, but if there’s any relation to members’ former project, Sweatmaster, in terms of style, I can see why an imprint like Bad Afro would have been on board.

Get a load of that track under the album art and PR wire info below:

lost boots come cold come wind

LOST BOOTS set release date for SVART debut, reveal first track

Today, Svart Records sets May 13th as the international release date for Lost Boots’ debut album, Come Cold, Come Wind. Lost Boots, consists of a trio of musicians previously performing as Sweatmaster, plus extra guitarist Tomi Helomaa. Sweatmaster were well on their way to fame earlier this millennium, with a deal with the cult garage label Bad Afro and European tours with The Darkness and the like. Somewhere along the way, action-rocking garage fare no longer appealed to the sweaty threesome, and they ended up calling it a day, only to resurrect as Lost Boots a couple of years later.

“After Sweatmaster, we tried playing a bit of everything, even Finnish language prog rock, but nothing seemed to click. It was only after Tomi [Helomaa, guitar] came along that we really had a band together,” says guitarist/vocalist Sasu Mykkänen.

The band defines Lost Boots as being a more manly, slower-playing, and a tad more melodic unit than their sweat-covered predecessor. There is an electric “live” feel to the music, with edges not too heavily polished. It owes as much to classic hard guitar rock as it does to garage rock. Hear for yourself with the first track to be premiered from the album, “Outdated,” exclusively HERE. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Lost Boots’ Come Cold, Come Wind
1. Another Brick In The Wind
2. Come Cold
3. Outdated
4. The Steam Rolled In
5. Brave
6. Widow Lover
7. Bangatan

MORE INFO:
www.facebook.com/lostboots
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/svartrecords
www.youtube.com/svartrecords
www.twitter.com/svartrecords

Lost Boots, “Outdated”

Tags: , , , , ,

Mansion Premiere “Traitor’s Dirge”; Altar Sermon EP out Today

Posted in audiObelisk on October 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

mansion (Photo by Ulla Kudjoi)

Continuing to proselytize dogmatic severity, Finnish conceptual cult rockers Mansion today release their new two-song, limited-to-500-copies EP, Altar Sermon, via Svart Records. It is the latest in a series of short releases from the thematically-specific outfit — who base their lyrical themes and presentation on the Kartanoist movement that took hold in Finland between the 1920s and 1950s — and follows the expanding scope as shown on late-2014’s Uncreation (review here) and 2013’s We Shall Live (review here) while showcasing not quite the same amount of color (perish the thought!) as last year’s The Mansion Congregation Hymns Vol. 1 7″, but still a touch of swirl, varied tones of grey as it may be. The included tracks, “Altar Sermon” (video posted here) and “Traitor’s Dirge,” essentially pick up where Uncreation left off, finding the Turku-based outfit working in extended runtimes and a balance between atmospheric, organ-laced classic heavy rock and doom, distinguished through clenched-jaw theatrics and, of course, the fact that at least some of what they’re talking about actually happened.

Altar Sermon further stands out from their past output through the inclusion of a notable guest performance by Mat McNerney, known most recently for his work in Hexvessel and Beastmilk but whose pedigree extends much further back. Listed as the “traveling preacher Matteus,” McNerney joins Mansion‘s vocalist Alma Mansion (who takes her name from Kartanoism’s mansion-altar-sermonfounder, Alma Kartano), for a duet on “Altar Sermon.” One of the founding tenets of Kartanoism being an aversion to all sex, Mansion toy with ritualized violence lyrically while the backing lineup of guitarists Jaakob and Vilkko-Tapio, keyboardist Martti-Juhani, bassist Immanuel and drummer Antani support an impression of classic gothic doom repurposed through varied movements of eerie atmospheres topped by call and response leading to a melodic wash over a final crawl. Its sex-as-punishment is more justification than condemnation — though there’s plenty of that too — but “Traitor’s Dirge” is where the wicked are truly cast down. The traitor in question is Kartanoism co-founder Matilda “Tilda” Reunanen, who according to Alma has turned on the lord, the fold, the truth, and perhaps worst of all, the Mansion itself.

It’s a catchy hook even if it does lead to a descriptive image of Reunanen on her deathbed with her eyes eaten out by rats, and its righteousness of purpose in the early verses is mirrored by a classic metal chug and lead interplay and a rich melodic crux that breaks shortly before the halfway point to whispered vocals, ping ride, organ and far-back guitar to set the foundation for a build to come. The chorus comes back around, but is reshaped skillfully to suit the song’s progression and layered voices lead the way into a solo-topped underworld as the track and the EP come to a close. Mansion‘s strength as their project has taken shape over the last couple years has been their ability to portray their theme coherently while balancing that atop memorable songwriting — they’ve built their own stage, in other words, and the drama plays out with sure footing. Honestly, they were ready for their first album after Uncreation, so Altar Sermon doesn’t necessarily have that to prove, but its 18 minutes do leave me convinced that Mansion will have no trouble holding character over the course of a full-length while also being able to demonstrate varied craftsmanship across a broadening stylistic reach. Makes me look forward to the record, in other words. Whenever it might arrive and whatever sinister form it might ultimately take.

I’m thrilled today to host the premiere of “Traitor’s Dirge” in honor of the EP’s release. Please find it below, followed by more info from the PR wire, and enjoy:

To date, Mansion have released two EPs, 2013’s We Shall Live – which featured the video “Slumber Sermon” – and Uncreation the following year, which musically illustrated the mansionites journeying further on their crusade against the mundane and sinful with frightening conviction. With Altar Sermon and the title track’s new video, Mansion present their most harrowing vision yet: in their own words, “the cinematic re-enactment of a mansionite ritual known as the Altar Sermon. Mansion’s score for the captured moments includes a duet with Alma and traveling preacher Matteus. The soundtrack will be released bearing the title Altar Sermon on October 23rd. The flip-side of the release contains the song ‘Traitor’s Dirge.’ In the song, the treacherous Tilda Reunanen regrets her involvement in our cause and is sentenced to the everlasting fires of Hell.”

Mansion on Thee Facebooks

Mansion on Bandcamp

Altar Sermon at Svart Records

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,