Craneium Announce ‘Kill with Fuzz’ European Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

craneium

Not to contradict Craneium or anything, but if Europe could possibly have been killed by fuzz, presumably from some manner of overdose thereof, wouldn’t it have happened already? Rather, the continent seems — at least from my position across an ocean from it — insatiable when it comes to saturated tonality and heavy groove. Still, you gotta call the tour something, right, so if they’re setting goals for themselves, it would seem only admirable they’d reach for the stars, as it were, even if those stars were, you know, devastating the populace all around.

Whatever the survival rate will ultimately be, I dug Craneium‘s 2018 third album, The Narrow Line (review here) — which you can stream below — and I’m glad enough to have an excuse to revisit it by posting these tour dates. They kick off in the Netherlands and wrap in Germany and kick around for over a week between.

Have at it:

craneium tour

We just added a show in Czech Republic 22.6! Just a few more weeks now and we will kill Europe with fuzz.

15.6 MFC Festival Coevorden (NL)
16.6 MTs /Oldenburg (Ger)
17.6 Club Kinky Star /Ghent (Bel) w/ Fire Down Below
18.6 STELPLAATS /Leuven (Bel)
19.6 Mandril Culture & Political Center /Maastrich (NL) w/Lacertilia
21.6 Zille/Göppingen (Ger)
22.6 Magic place /Louny (CZ)
23.6 Toast Hawaii /Berlin (Ger) w/The Trikes, HEAVY HEAVY

Bio:

Craneium is a stoner/desert/fuzz rock band formed in Turku late 2011 and has sweated themselves through an intense live schedule since then!

Craneium released their first album “the Slowerdrive Tapes” on green cassette 2013, a split 12″ record with 3rd Trip 2014 and a their full-lenght “Explore The Void” in through Ripple Music december 2016.

Tune Down, Turn Up and Fuzz Out with Craneium. Worshippers of amplifiers, weird tales, fuzzboxes and mindexpanding rock can have a taste of the band here: https://craneiumband.bandcamp.com/

Craneium is:
Andreas Kaján – Vocals & Guitars
Martin Ahlö – Vocals & Guitars
Joel Kronqvist – Drums
Jonas Ridberg – Bass

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, The Narrow Line (2018)

Tags: , , , , ,

Lord Vicar, The Black Powder: In the Bedrock

Posted in Reviews on May 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Lord Vicar The Black Powder

Lord Vicar play the doom of conviction. It’s not just a question of writing a song around a riff and putting some vocals on, but of channeling a mindset or a spiritual place through the music. It’s doom as a worldview. The Black Powder (on The Church Within) is their fourth long-player, and their first to pass the one-hour mark since their 2008 debut, Fear No Pain, as its 69 minutes make it the longest record they’ve ever done. Likewise, its 17-minute opener, “Sulfur, Charcoal and Saltpeter” — which is as close as they come to a title-track in naming the ingredients for gunpowder — is the longest single song they’ve ever produced, and with it they explore an album’s worth of textures and emotionality, guitarist Kimi Kärki switching between quiet, wistful acoustic guitar at the outset to a full-brunt tonality before opening to an airy verse underscored and filled out by Rich Jones‘ bass and held together by drummer Gareth Millsted, whose volume swaps prove no less dynamic. Atop what might be the band’s to-date masterpiece — they’ve certainly worked in longer-form material before, but never quite on the same scale — enter the vocals of Christian “Lord Chritus” Linderson, which, with a voice like regrettable history itself, bolster the emotional scathe of the music.

It would be simple for The Black Powder to play out as a retread of the band’s pedigree, and no doubt there’s plenty to draw from there, with Kärki having helped inspire a generation of traditionalist European doom in Finland’s Reverend Bizarre and Orne before diving into varying kinds of experimentalism with outfits like E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr and Uhrijuhla and crafting moody folk as a solo singer-songwriter and Linderson‘s legacy in Count Raven, stint fronting Saint Vitus on 1992’s C.O.D., more rock-based outfit Terra Firma, and time in Goatess as well as the newer unit Python in Sweden. Lord Vicar could simply be an empty showpiece of doom playing to past strengths if they wanted. That’s not what’s happening on The Black Powder.

In the level of songwriting throughout — not just on the opener, but on the hooky “Descent,” which immediately follows, and down the line through the drastic tempo changes of centerpiece “The Temple in the Bedrock,” the Sabbathian rocker “Black Lines,” the acoustic “Nightmare” and closer “A Second Chance: Including The Wagoner, My Soul is Never Free, and Strict Master,” which resolves itself in setting the progressive melancholy of its last chorus directly against one of the record’s most fervent thrusts — the band show a commitment not just to the tenets of what makes doom doom, but to bringing a sense of identity through that and thereby push forward toward individualist expression. Their doom. It should be of little surprise to anyone with experience in listening to the band that it works. Returning to the studio with Joona Lukala, who engineered and mixed 2016’s Gates of Flesh (review here) and has mastered all of Lord Vicar‘s full-lengths and split releases, of course brings a measure of consistency to the sound, but that allows the freshness in these compositions to stand out amid the familiar elements.

lord vicar

The concrete wall of distortion in “World Encircled” feels particularly stage-born and stage-made, while the sub-three-minute “Impact” (premiered here) is as all-go a rocker as the band has ever produced, taking the swing of the early going in “The Temple in the Bedrock” or the bridge in the prior “Levitation” and making it the central notion brought to bear in a fashion that “A Second Chance” soon enough answers back in the last payoff for the album as a whole, speeding its way to a cold finish that’s only missing the applause afterward to further the live impression. At the same time, the work Linderson is doing on vocals is a highlight unto itself, with double-track layering, flourishes of harmony, and on “Nightmare,” a laid-bare feel that’s still coated in echo and soon answered back by choral keys and drums, but still rich in its intimacy and ’70s prog/folk soulfulness, gorgeous and sad in like measure. One could say the same of much of The Black Powder, but the shift in intent on “Nightmare” makes it all the more palpable.

The band, with  has stated that the loose central concept of the album is an examination of humanity manifold failings and the numbing of self that is often the response to the simple end of getting through the day surrounded by so much horror; The Black Powder as an image of snorting gunpowder like cocaine, i.e. “Black Lines.” So be it. The notion of doom standing in judgment of society at large is nothing new, going back to Black Sabbath‘s “Hand of Doom” as a primary example, but in a way, the theme also serves as analog to the effect of the record and its songs as a whole. With Millsted and Kärki as primary songwriters, Lord Vicar reinvigorate the traditional tenets of the style in such a way as to not only stand with them, but to make them new again. Their topic could hardly be more fitting for the age in which they appear — a thousand everything-owning Neros fiddling with their genitals as the world burns — but there is more to The Black Powder than cold verdict-reaching and negativity.

Somehow, it is a personal work as well. In Linderson‘s vocals and the instrumental chemistry between Jones, Kärki and Millsted as well, there’s something vibrant shining through amidst the grimness of the matter at hand. That might be the part of humanity worth saving — humanity seems to think so — but we’re not there yet, and Lord Vicar aren’t about to posture and offer some kind of hope from out of all the terror one sees when paying even the most modest amount of attention to the world. It’s not about placating. It’s not just about condemning. It’s laying it all out and asking what the hell might come next, and The Black Powder does the same thing for Lord Vicar sonically. It’s no coincidence that it is their longest album, or that it has their longest single-song, or their greatest breadth of songwriting and performance. It is a moment to which their work has been leading, and as with every step that brought them here, it feels purposeful in the extreme. A no-brainer to call it one of 2019’s best doom records, and frankly, that’s probably underselling it.

Lord Vicar, The Black Powder (2019)

Lord Vicar on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Lord Vicar Premiere “Impact” Video from The Black Powder

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lord vicar

As Lord Vicar prepare the ground for the release of their fourth full-length, The Black Powder, through The Church Within Records on May 3, the Scandinavian doomers unveil their first-ever official video. “Impact” is the shortest track on The Black Powder at a tidy 2:59 — by contrast, the album opens with “Sulfur, Charcoal and Saltpeter,” which runs 17:16 — and the clip accompanying compiles footage from the studio as the band were making the record. You can see guitarist Kimi Kärki, bassist Rich Jones and drummer Gareth Millsted playing through the instrumental tracks together and vocalist Christian “Lord Chritus” Linderson adding his voice afterward, but of course it’s all edited together to give a flow, which is fair enough since flow is a major factor throughout The Black Powder as a whole.

Its nine songs run a willfully consuming 69 minutes, and if that sounds like a slog, welcome to doom. Now more than a decade removed from their debutLord Vicar The Black Powder album, Fear No PainLord Vicar have long since mastered their approach — a pedigree that includes Reverend BizarreCount Raven and Saint Vitus doesn’t hurt either — and they fill their time not with simple riff-and-nod drudgery, but with material that can’t help but be vibrant despite its so, so thoroughly doomed vibe. In that regard, as well as its lyrics, “Impact” is aptly named. It’s probably the speediest whole track on the offering, though you could get a yardstick out to measure it against “Levitation” or parts of “The Temple in the Bedrock” if you really wanted to, but more than that, it puts the emphasis on exactly what video depicts: the band, in the room, hitting it. Lord Vicar are obviously schooled in classic doom — Kärki and Chritus kind of helped shape it, especially in Europe — but don’t at all take that to mean they’re not also building something new from out of the past. In following up 2016’s Gates of Flesh (review here), the four-piece showcase a vitality that thrives in darkness and an organic doom that needs no posturing to make its aesthetic statement.

I’ll have a full review of The Black Powder on May 2 (if the current calendar holds), but in addition to the video premiere for “Impact,” Kärki was kind enough to send some comment on making the album along with the lyrics to the track. Again, there some stuff on the record that is much, much slower, so “Impact” doesn’t necessarily represent everything Lord Vicar do across that almost-70-minute stretch, but it sure is fucking righteous.

Please enjoy:

Lord Vicar, “Impact” official video premiere

Kimi Kärki on “Impact”:

I was born in Good Friday back in 1976, and have always appreciated the fact, so it’s a nice date for the video premiere.

It was a wonderful Finnish winter adventure to record our fourth album The Black Powder. Pretty much everything was done in February and March 2019, including mixing and mastering, again with Joona Lukala at Noise for Fiction. Everything is still fresh for us as well, and we can’t wait to get to play these monsters live in May! We have had a new bass player, Rich Jones, aboard for quite long now, but this is the first time he was in studio with us. We were able to hammer drums, bass and the first rhythm guitar live, and that adds a nice organic feel for the album. Gareth (Millsted, drums) was more involved in songwriting, and this time we arranged the songs quite carefully in Switzerland before hitting the studio. Chritus (vocals) lost his voice before his second studio day, but this medicine that is meant for snake bites healed him nicely!

We never did a proper video for Lord Vicar before, and decided to do it totally DIY for ’Impact’, the seventh track of the album. Studio live footage was an obvious choice for this kind of a hard rocking tune, but I also wanted to give a visual nod for the theme of mortality and how sometimes authors are forgotten and only receive proper fame post mortem. Nightmares feature heavily on this album, so this is a tribute to some artists who captured the darkness, shadows, and sheer horror in writing.

Have a Good Friday, up the hammers, down the nails!

Lyrics:
Can you feel the Earth approaching,
Red horizon turn?
Time has frozen between two worlds,
Frozen, empty mind

One thing you have surely lost,
The one thing you still yearn
Frozen people always want to
Leave this world behind

See the roof come falling down
Red horizon turning round
Broken people are earthbound
All of them will hit the ground

You were always first to go,
First to test your mind
People thought that you’d be strong
But you were first to burn

See the roof come falling down
Red horizon turning round
Broken people are earthbound
All of them will hit the ground

All of them will hit the ground
All of them supposed to heal
All of them without a sound
All of them are true and real

All of them, they will be found
All of them, they will be read
All of them below the ground
All of them will conquer death

Lord Vicar and Thronehammer live in May!
03.Mai Würzburg (D) @Immerhin
04 Mai Weikersheim (D) @Club W71
05 Mai Karlsruhe (D) @P8
06 Mai Hamburg (D) @Marx
07 Mai Szczecin (PL) @Jambar
08 Mai Berlin (D) @Slaughterhouse Moabit
09 Mai Halle (D) @Hühnermanhattan
10 Mai Oberhausen (D) @Helvete
11 Mai Tilburg (NL) @Little Devil Doom Days Festival

Lord Vicar is:
Chritus on vocals
Kimi on guitars
Milly on drums
Rich on bass

Lord Vicar on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Lord Vicar to Release The Black Powder May 3; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lord vicar

Doom upon the land as Lord Vicar make ready to return with their fourth long-player. Titled The Black Powder and recorded in Turku, Finland, the offering will be made through The Church Within Records on May 3 and a tour has been announced to coincide that will take the four-piece through Germany and into Poland on their way to the Doom Days Festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Having had the pleasure to witness Lord Vicar live before, I’ll say it’s a thing of doomed righteousness to which few acts could hope to compare, but the chance to see them heralding a new release seems all the more deathly and awesome. You probably don’t need me to tell you to go to a show if one’s near you, but consider it said anyhow.

And me, I’ll be trying my damnedest to chase down The Black Powder in hopes of reviewing, because writing about this kind of thing I consider doing myself a favor and a bit of #selfcare never hurt.

From The Church Within on thee social medias:

lord vicar tour dates

Mark the date: 3rd of may! LORD VICAR: THE BLACK POWDER

The Black Powder is the fourth album from Lord Vicar. It was, like the previous album Gates of Flesh, recorded by audio wizard Joona Lukala at Noise for Fiction studio in Turku, Finland. All studio work took place in February and March of 2019. The studio has the benefit of a huge live room which gave the band the opportunity to capture a sound that breathes with the ambience of the space, but maintains the sonic weight for which they are rightly known.

This album is a return to longer form, and even more progressive song structures, but the punchier material is also provided with merciless precision, as well as soothing acoustic moments. The songwriting duties are shared by Kimi and Gareth, also Chritus providing lyrical output.

The album contains a loose lyrical concept relating to mankind’s endless lack of reason and weakness of stability, resulting to violence, war, manipulation of children, and numbing our minds in order to shut out the horror that is the reality we live in. We blow the black lines to feel good. This takes place generation after generation, in an endless cycle of standing and falling. Musically and lyrically the album covers a wide spectrum of textures from the all out punky attack of ’The Temple in the Bedrock’, fragile beauty of ‘Nightmare’, to the oppressive menace of the more intense moments of ‘Sulphur, Charcoal and Saltpetre’. This album is a grower, meant to be listened repeatedly, full of subtle details that reveal themselves with each subsequent listen.

’But children of that place remain with us
They illustrate the burden of our lies
And make us feel the hell of all those memories
Buried in the grave of the fireflies’

Tracklisting:
I Sulphur, Charcoal and Saltpetre (Kärki)
II Descent (Millsted)
III World Encircled (Millsted)
IV Levitation (Kärki)
V The Temple in the Bedrock (Millsted, lyrics Kärki)
VI Black Lines (Millsted, lyrics Kärki, Linderson, Millsted)
VII Impact (Kärki)
VIII Nightmare (Kärki)
IX A Second Chance: Including The Wagoner, My Soul Is Never Free, and Strict Master (Millsted)

Lord Vicar and Thronehammer live in May!
03.Mai Würzburg (D) @Immerhin
04 Mai Weikersheim (D) @Club W71
05 Mai Karlsruhe (D) @P8
06 Mai Hamburg (D) @Marx
07 Mai Szczecin (PL) @Jambar
08 Mai Berlin (D) @Slaughterhouse Moabit
09 Mai Halle (D) @Hühnermanhattan
10 Mai Oberhausen (D) @Helvete
11 Mai Tilburg (NL) @Little Devil Doom Days Festival

Lord Vicar is:
Chritus on vocals
Kimi on guitars
Milly on drums
Rich on bass

https://www.facebook.com/lordvicar/
https://www.facebook.com/ChurchWithinRecords/
http://www.doom-dealer.de/

Lord Vicar, “Down the Nails” live in Moscow, July 7, 2018

Tags: , , , , ,

Hexvessel, All Tree: A Wilderness Spirit

Posted in Reviews on March 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hexvessel all tree

As side A plays out with its lush melodies and arrangements of flute and violin and cape-donned acoustic folk strum, past the pervasive sense of worship brought to “Son of the Sky” and “Old Tree,” Hexvessel frontman Mat “Kvohst” McNerney intones in “Changeling” the repeated line, “Come back home.” And so it seems the band has done just that. From the harmonized chants opening All Tree in the brief introduction “Blessing” through the birdsong of “A Sylvan Sign,” the quiet but present and foreboding layer of distortion in “Otherworld Envoy,” and the crackling fire of “Liminal Night,” the Finnish outfit have gone to ground aesthetically, and returned to the spirit of their earlier recordings, 2011’s Dawnbearer, 2012’s No Holier Temple, and 2013’s Iron Marsh EP.

Fair enough territory for McNerney and multi-instrumentalist Kimmo Helén (bass, piano, viola), guitarist Andrew McIvor, drummer/bassist Jukka Rämänen, vocalist/percussionist Marja Konttinen, guitarist Jesse Heikkinen and field recording specialist Antti Haapapuro to cover, but it’s a stark change from where Hexvessel were three years ago on When We are Death (review here). Their third album was a break-away from the methods of No Holier Temple et al, and found Hexvessel delving into psychedelic goth, death-driven Bowie swagger, and a broad pastiche of styles. In the context of the work they’ve done over the course of the last decade, All Tree makes When We are Death feel like an anomaly. Maybe it was. But the turn that brought Hexvessel there was no less stark than the turn that brings them to All Tree. Once again, the band as a whole are defying expectation, and as they lay claim once more to what one previously thought of as their core sound, they don’t necessarily forget the lessons of When We are Death in terms of tight songcraft — the ceremony runs a brisk 13 songs and 45 minutes — and nuance of arrangement, but there’s no question that the shift is a drastic one and it leaves one scratching their head at what might’ve been behind it. Even the cover art was done by the same artist who did No Holier Temple.

Perhaps the songs themselves hold the key to understanding the motivation. Like that “Come back home” in “Changeling,” or the chorus, “You can’t change this wilderness spirit,” in “Wilderness Spirit,” there is something about All Tree that feels very much to the core of Hexvessel‘s project. It brings together elements of British folk with a pointed naturalism that presents an alternate view of the modern world in which hillsides might be the shoulders of some giant unseen to human eyes or ghosts seem to populate the landscape as much as any form of life. In minimalist stretches like the finale “Closing Circles” or pieces of “Old Tree” earlier on, McNerney‘s voice is given a showcase it’s more than up to handling, and as much as there’s an overarching theme to the band’s sound, they subtly work in a surprising amount of variety, tapping into weepy pedal steel on “Birthmark,” bringing in session violinist Daniel Pioro for “Old Tree,” or recalling 16 Horsepower-style swing in “Wilderness Spirit.”

hexvessel

Be it the more severe strumming of “Ancient Astronaut” or the quiet brooding of the brief mostly-instrumental “Vision of A.O.S.” that follows, “Otherworld Envoy” with its build toward a resonant wash or the brief interplay of keys and guitar on “Journey to Carnac,” All Tree does not to away with the prior album’s fascination with alternate dimensional planes, but it is by reinterpreting the means of conveying these ideas that so much about All Tree feels different. Even in “A Sylvan Sign,” which is the longest inclusion here at 6:28 as well as the centerpiece of the tracklisting, there’s something ethereal about the proceedings and the hypnotic repetitions of the title amid the plucked strings of acoustic guitar. As dug into the earth as some of these songs seem, wandering aged forests with dirt under the fingernails, there is no lack of mystique or wonder to them. A decade on from their beginnings, Hexvessel seem to be returning to marvel at what surrounds them, telling stories of the place of one’s self in nature and nature’s place in one’s self. “Wilderness Spirit,” in that regard, is a declaration of freedom as much as anything.

So where does that leave Hexvessel? They’re not back where they started, by any means. The level of craft, the diversity of their arrangements and their ability to shift in mood has carried over from When We are Death to All Tree in a way that distinguishes the new work from anything they’ve done before, but at the same time, there’s no getting around the fact that Hexvessel have stepped back into a forest-folk style that, for the most part, they let go three years ago. Does that make All Tree a moment of reconciliation between who Hexvessel were and who they became? Does their fourth album negate the accomplishments of their third or invalidate them somehow? Did Hexvessel hear those songs and think it wasn’t working on some level? How did we get here? Maybe (almost certainly) I’m overthinking it, but what does the fact that Hexvessel returned at least to the general vibe of their earlier work say about who they are as a band?

I’m not sure, and I’m not sure we’re supposed to know. For a band who made so much of their statement stylistically, it was particularly bold when Hexvessel dropped (almost) everything and went in a different direction. Likewise, listening to All Tree, it feels no less bold for Hexvessel to be back under such open skies. I can’t answer the questions above and I’m not going to try, but it feels like much of the purpose in these songs is self-discovery as it is expression. In that regard, Hexvessel have never wavered at all. As a collection in its own right, All Tree has moments of pain, beauty and awe that come across as genuine and driven by an urgency in their creation. On a level of craft, Hexvessel have never sounded more sure of what they want to do or how they want to make that unreal real. As to the rest, their story clearly isn’t done being written, and the narrative has grown more complex with time. Something tells me they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hexvessel, “Changeling” official video

Hexvessel on Thee Facebooks

Hexvessel on Twitter

Hexvessel on Instagram

Hexvessel on Bandcamp

Hexvessel website

Century Media website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Mansion, First Death of the Lutheran: Sinners’ Fate

Posted in Reviews on December 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mansion first death of the lutheran

What one didn’t necessarily expect from Mansion’s debut album was how much it would convey its rigidity in tone as well as in its theme. First Death of the Lutheran has been a long time in the making, as the Turku, Finland, outfit started in 2013 by self-releasing their We Shall Live EP (review here), which was soon picked up by Nine Records, and certainly they’ve covered a swath of styles since then with the subsequent The Mansion Congregation Hymns Vol. 1 single (discussed here) and the Uncreation EP (review here) in 2014, 2015’s Altar Sermon (review here) or their comporting-with-sinners 2017 split with Cardinal Wyrm, but still, the five-track/42-minute offering through I Hate Records is a surprise in its general sound. Where their earlier work had more of a retro feel, not quite boogie rock but not shy in its shuffle either, First Death of the Lutheran seeks to and succeeds in conveying the severity of its lyrical basis by sharpening its guitar tones and the production overall.

In defiance of what has become the standard for cult rock in Europe and elsewhere, it is not a warm-sounding album, with sing-songy lyrics about worshiping the devil or whatever else. Mansion‘s perspective has always been on another level. Now their sound matches that idea. They are, as of now, inseparable from their conceptual foundation, born out of the idea of not just singing about a thing, but becoming the thing itself. And specificity. I don’t know how much of general Finnish history covers the endtime-obsessed Kartanoist sect and their strict belief in the Christian Bible, celibacy, and the notion that after World War I in Europe, Jesus was returning to punish sinners, but the band and appointed lyricist Mikael have certainly dug into the history.

Mansion vocalist Alma takes her name from Alma Kartano, who led the group, and sure enough is joined by a congregation, with fellow vocalist Osmo, guitarists Jaakob and Veikko-Tapio, bassist Immanuel, drummer Atami, organist Matti-Juhani, as well as a range of guests appearing on First Death of the Lutheran, including Sami Albert Hynninen (ex-Reverend Bizarre) on “The Eternal,” as well as saxophonist Toivo on closer “First Death,” Antti-Mikael on percussion, Kimmo on violin and trumpet, Ivan on hurdy-gurdy, and so on. All of these arrangement elements are put to work toward the singular if varied purpose of embodying the harshness of dedicated dogmatic idolatry. The snare in opener “Wretched Hope” (premiered here) evokes flagellation. The effects-laden condemnations of “Lutheran” — of which even the single-word title seems accusatory — lumbering low end and far-back piano line and emergent mournful violin add an air of authoritarianism to Alma‘s highlighted vocals, Hynninen-led testimony of “The Eternal,” choral apex of “1933” and darkly psychedelic cacophony that closes in the 12-minute stretch of “First Death”: it all feeds into the centrality of the point of view.

promo_mansion5 pic by ulla kudjoi-1000

They do not waver. There is no relenting, and particularly in the call and response between Alma and Osmo on “First Death” or in the chorus of “Wretched Hope,” or even as Alma relinquishes the forward position on the centerpiece, there is an underlying sexual tension that speaks to the corrupt nature of religious fanaticism. Tempt and condemn. This trait has always been in Mansion‘s approach, but on First Death of the Lutheran, especially in the vocal trades and amid the increased experimentalism of the instrumental side and production, it’s all the more resonant, and it adds to the sinister nature of the material itself. Certainly the summary hook in “Wretched Hope” of “Hear my warning/The lord is calling/Do you see the signs?/It’s the end of times,” and the doomly march to which they set it is made all the stronger for it, and likewise the bleak swirl that follows in “Lutheran.” And as the album unfolds, it only grows bolder and broader in its encompassing stylization, such that by the time “First Death” starts with its combination of earthbound rhythm and airier guitars in the initial, trumpet-inclusive forward progression and steps into alignment around the riff that holds sway for its first half, the sense is that Mansion have set themselves up to go anywhere.

There’s less of an expectation as the record plays through, then, for songs to sound the same or to carry a similar approach to their making, because already the band have worked diligently — and again, successfully — to undermine any. At the same time they do this, though, it’s the theme that unites the album on the whole, so that as far as Mansion range considering where they started from half a decade ago, they never lose sight of what it is bringing their songs together, the underlying purpose of expression. So the theme not only proves strong enough to maintain itself lyrically throughout the five tracks, but to help present First Death of the Lutheran as a singular work, however varied its sound might ultimately be. The production has a role in this as well, of course, but as noted, even that ties into the band’s adoption of the tenets of Kartanoism. As “First Death” makes its way into its second half around the winding vocal lines that resolve themselves with the final assessment, “You’re a sinner,” it’s a culmination on every level through which that song and those before it have functioned.

And yet the crescendo is still to come. That takes hold as the back end of “First Death” builds into its final wash, Alma cutting through all the while in last moments of preach, with a long-held sax note — excruciatingly tense by the time it lets go — as the final element sacrificed. The level of achievement here isn’t to be understated. Not only have Mansion stretched their conceptual designs out over the course of a full-length, which is something that, frankly, they’ve been ready to do for a while, but with that full-length, they’ve actively worked against what was expected from them, while moving forward in craft overall, greatly increasing their scope and carving out a sonic niche beyond microgenre that is immediately their own and, more importantly, immediately under their command. It is a powerful, awaited debut that moves beyond what one could have even hoped for it, and it not only puts Mansion on their own echelon of cultistry, but realizes their righteousness in a new form that feels like a grim future made flesh.

Mansion, First Death of the Lutheran (2018)

Mansion on Thee Facebooks

Mansion on Bandcamp

I Hate Records website

I Hate Records on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Surya Kris Peters, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Lair of the Minotaur, Sonic Wolves, Spacelord, Nauticus, Yuxa, Forktie, Ohhms, Blue Dream

Posted in Reviews on December 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I had a terrible thought yesterday: What if this one… went to 11? That is, what if, after 10 days of Quarterly Review ending today with a grand total of 100 records reviewed since last Monday, I did another batch of 10? Like a bonus round? Like I said, terrible thought.

Pretty sure it won’t happen. I’ve already got a review and a video premiere booked for next Monday, but I definitely had the thought. It was easy, of course, to fill out another 10 slots, and who knows, maybe this weekend for the first time ever I wind up with some extra time and energy on my hands? Could happen, right?

Again, I’m fairly certain it won’t. Let’s proceed with the assumption today’s the last day. Thank you for reading. I hope you have found something cool in all of this that has really hit home. I certainly have. We cap very much in last-but-not-least fashion, and if nothing’s resonated with you yet, don’t count yourself completely out. You might just get there after all. Thanks again.

Quarterly Review #91-100:

Surya Kris Peters, Ego Therapy

Surya Kris Peters Ego Therapy

Those feeling technical will note the full title of the album is Surya Kris Peters’ Ego Therapy, but the point gets across either way. And even as Christian Peters — also guitarist/vocalist for Samsara Blues Experiment — acknowledges the inherent self-indulgence of the proverbial “solo-project” that his exploration of synth and classically progressive textures under the moniker of Surya Kris Peters has become, with Ego Therapy as his second full-length of 2018, he branches out in including drums from former Terraplane bandmate Jens Vogel. The 10-song/53-minute outing opens with its longest cut (immediate points) in the 15-minute “Angels in Bad Places,” a spaced-out and vibrant atmosphere more cohesive than psychedelia but still trippy as all hell, and moves through a bluesy key/guitar interplay in “Wizard’s Dream” following the dancey thriller soundtrack “Beyond the Sun” and into the Blade Runner-style grandeur of “Sleeping Willow” and the video game-esque “A Fading Spark” before bookending with the sci-fi “Atomic Clock” at the close. I don’t know how ultimately therapeutic Peters‘ solo offerings might be, but he only seems to grow bolder each time out, and that certainly applies here.

Surya Kris Peters on Thee Facebooks

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

 

Lewis and the Strange Magics, The Ginger Sessions

lewis and the strange magics the ginger sessions

How are you not gonna love a release that starts with a song called “Sexadelic Galactic Voyage?” Barcelona vamp rockers Lewis and the Strange Magics embrace their inner funk on the 23-minute self-released EP, The Ginger Sessions, finding the place where their uptempo ’70s fusion meets oldschool The Meters-style rhythm, digging into the repetitions of “Candied Ginger” after the aforementioned instrumental opening burst and then holding the momentum through “Her Vintage Earrings.” Some departure happens on what might be side B of the 10″, with “The Shadow of Your Smile” turning toward pastoral psychedelia, still rhythmic thanks to some prominent wood block and xylophone sounds, but much calmer despite a consistency of wah and keys. “Suzy’s Room II” follows in fuzzy fashion, bridging the earlier cologne-soaked, chest-hair-out vibes with garage buzz and a heavier low end beneath the synthesized experimentation. Mellotron shows up and continues to hold sway in closer “Witch’s Brew,” playing the band outward along with layers of drifting guitar for about two and a half minutes of bluesy serenity that feel cut short, as does the release on the whole. One hopes they don’t lose that funky edge going into their next album.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

 

Lair of the Minotaur, Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Lair of the Minotaur Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Once upon the mid-aughts, Chicago’s Lair of the Minotaur roamed the land as the long-prophesied American answer to Entombed, as much classic, dirt-covered death metal as they were laden with heavy groove. Their tones filthy, their assault brutal all the while, war metal, ultimate destroyers. The whole nine. They released their last album, Evil Power (review here), in 2010. The two-songer Dragon Eagle of Chaos follows a 2013 single, and was released to mark the occasion of perhaps a return to some measure of greater activity. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but as both “Dragon Eagle of Chaos” and “Kunsult the Bones” affirm in about seven minutes between them, Lair of the Minotaur remain a wrecking ball made of raw meat when it comes to their sound. The madness that seemed to always underline their material at its most effective is present and accounted for in “Dragon Eagle of Chaos,” and the stripped-down production of the single actually helps its violent cause. Will they do another record? Could go either way, but if they decide to go that route, they clearly still have the evil power within.

Lair of the Minotaur website

Lair of the Minotaur on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Wolves, Sonic Wolves

sonic wolves sonic wolves

Eight tracks/34 minutes of smoothly-arranged and well-executed doom rock brought to bear with an abiding lack of pretense and a developing sense of songcraft and dynamic — there’s very little not to dig about Sonic Wolves‘ self-titled LP (on Future Noise and DHU), from the Sabbathian stretch of “Ascension” down through the bouncing low-key-psych-turns-to-full-on-wah-overdose-swirl in the penultimate “Heavy Light.” Along the way, bassist/vocalist Kayt Vigil (ex-Pentagram, etc.) — joined by guitarists Jason Nealy and Enrico “Ico” Aniasi and drummer Gianni “Vita” Vitarelli (also Ufomammut) — gallop through the traditional metal of “Red Temple” and ride a fuzzy roll in “Tide of Chaos,” leaving the uptempo shuffle of “You’ll Climb the Walls” to close out by tapping into a “Wicked World”-style vision of heavy blues that casts off many of the tropes of what’s become the subgenre in favor of a darker approach. If their self-titled is Sonic Wolves declaring who they are as a band after making their debut in 2016, the results are only encouraging.

Sonic Wolves on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

Future Noise Recordings webstore

 

Spacelord, Indecipher

Spacelord Indecipher

There is an immediate sensibility drawn from classic heavy rock to the vocals on Spacelord‘s second record, Indecipher, like Shannon Hoon fronting Led Zeppelin, maybe? Something like that, definitely drawn from a ’70s/’90s blend. Produced, mixed and mastered by guitarist Rich Root, with Chris Cappiello on bass, Kevin Flynn on drums and Ed Grabianowski on vocals, the four-piece’s sophomore LP is comprised of a neatly-constructed eight songs working around sci-fi themes on bruiser cuts like “Super Starship Adventure” and the particularly righteous “Zero Hour,” as opener and longest track (immediate points) “For the Unloved Ones” sets forth the classic vibe amid the first of the record’s impressive solos and resonant hooks. Something about it makes me want them to go completely over the top in terms of production their next time out — layers on layers on layers, etc. — but the kind of false start Grabianowski brings to the ultra-Zepped “New Machine” has a charm that I’m not sure it would be worth sacrificing.

Spacelord on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Nauticus, Disappear in Blue

Nauticus Disappear in Blue

Six years after the release of their second album, The Wait (review here), Finnish atmospheric progressive metallers Nauticus effect a return with the 78-minute Disappear in Blue, which following the relatively straightforward opening with “Magma” casts out a vast sprawl in accordance with its oceanic theme. Longer tracks like “Claimed by the Sea,” “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies,” “Arrival” and “Hieronymus” are complex and varied but united through a deep instrumental dynamic that’s brought to light even in the three-minute ambient post-rocker “Desolation,” which is something of an interlude between “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies” and the tense build of “Singularity.” Other ambient spaces “Jesus of Lübeck” and the later “Whale Bones” complement and add reach to the longer-form works, but it’s hardly as though Nauticus‘ material lacks character one way or the other. Overwhelming in its length, Disappear in Blue might take some time to wade through, but what a way to go.

Nauticus on Thee Facebooks

Nauticus on Bandcamp

 

Yuxa, Yuxa

yuxa yuxa

As the greater part of anything related to post-metal invariably does, UK outfit Yuxa have their “Stones from the Sky” moment in “Founder in Light,” the opening cut from their self-titled debut EP, that most formative of progressions making itself known in modified form to suit the double-guitar four-piece’s intent with dramatic screams and shouts cutting through an ably-conjured surge of noisy adrenaline resolving in winding chug and crash en route to “Exiled Hand,” the seven-minute cut that follows and serves as centerpiece of the three-tracker. “Founder in Light,” “Exiled Hand” and nine-minute closer “Peer” are arranged shortest to longest, and the effect is to draw the listener in such that by the time the angular, purposeful lurch of the finale begins to unfold, Yuxa‘s rhythmic hypnosis is already well complete. Still, the straightforward arrangements of guitar, bass, drums and vocals give them a rawer edge than many synth- or sample-laden post-metallic cohorts, and that suits the atmospheric sludge with which they close out, harnessing chaos without giving themselves over to it. A quick sample of a creative development getting underway, though it’s telling as well that Yuxa ends with a sudden buzz of amp noise.

Yuxa on Thee Facebooks

Yuxa on Bandcamp

 

Forktie, EP

forktie forktie

The first EP release from Forktie — who stylize their moniker and titles all-lowercase: forktie — is untitled, but contains five tracks that tap into proto-emo post-hardcore and ’90s alt rock sensibilities, finding a place between heavy rock and grunge that allows for Aarone Victorine‘s bass to lead toward the hook of centerpiece “Decomposition Book” with a smooth presence that’s well complementary the vocals from guitarist Dom Mariano, their presence low in the mix only adding to the wistful feel of “Anywhere but Here” and “September Morning,” before the shorter “Spores” lets loose some more push from drummer Corey LeBlanc and closer “Ph.D. in Nothing” reinforces the underlying melancholy beneath the thicker exterior tones. It’s a new project, but Forktie have worked their way into a niche that suits their songwriting well, and given themselves a space to grow within their sound. Members experience in bands like UXO, Test Meat and textbookcopilot will serve them in that effort.

Forktie on Thee Facebooks

Forktie on Bandcamp

 

Ohhms, Exist

ohhms exist

As a fan generally of bands opening albums with the longest song included, I can get on board with UK heavy progressive metallers Ohhms opening Exist with the 22-minute “Subjects.” Immediate points and all that. Far more consequential, however, is the substance of that launch for the four-song/43-minute Holy Roar LP, which is the band’s fourth in four years. It’s a vast, broad and complex offering unto itself, consuming side A as vocalist Paul Waller embodies various entities, “I am wolf” (preceding a Duran Duran reference, perhaps inadvertent), “I am child,” and so on. Those proclamations are just the culmination of a progression that, frankly, is an album unto itself, let alone a side, and maybe should’ve been released as such, though the absolute post-metallic crush of “Shambles,” the seething of “Calves” and the heavy post-rock reach of “Lay Down Your Firearms” need no further justification than a simple listen provides, the last of them pummeling side B to a then-sudden stop. Ohhms are no strangers to longform work, and it suits them well enough to make one wonder if they couldn’t be headed toward a single-song LP in the near future.

Ohhms on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records on Bandcamp

 

Blue Dream, Volume Blue

Blue Dream Volume Blue

Chicago four-piece Blue Dream issued their first LP, Volume Won, early in 2018 and follow with Volume Blue — as opposed to “two”; could ‘Volume Tree’ be in the works? ‘Volume Free?’ — which collects nine neo-psych-mit-der-funky-grooves cuts chic enough to be urbane but fuzzed out enough to make the freakouts more than just a come on. They open peaceful enough with “Delta,” before the hook of “9,000 lb. Machine” defines the course and cuts like “Thank You for Smoking” and the almost woefully catchy “She’s Hot” expand the parameters. I’ll take the dream-tone shimmer of “Kingsbury Goldmine” any day in a kind of self-aware reflection of British folk and/or the garage rock of “Shake the Shake,” but the dense roll of “Viper Venom” that immediately follows reimagines grunge as more than just an influence from three popular bands and something that could genuinely move forward from the perspective of a new generation. Hearing Blue Dream close out with the boogie of “The Glide,” one hopes they do precisely that, though I’d by no means limit them to one avenue of expression. They’re clearly able to harness multiple vibes here.

Blue Dream on Thee Facebooks

Blue Dream on Bandcamp

 

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

Hexvessel Release All Tree Feb. 15; “Old Tree” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hexvessel

How many clever-as-hell reviewers do you think are going to talk about how forest folkers Hexvessel are getting ‘back to their roots’ (nudge nudge) on their new album? All of them? All of them twice? If it’s anything less than an 80 percent number, I’ll be disappointed in the modern press.

Hexvessel‘s nonetheless brilliant 2016 outing, When We are Death (review here), was indeed a departure for the band into go-anywhere-do-anything-even-pop songcraft that showcased a host of influences, some less derived from the natural world than others. They still danced like mad pagans, though, and it seems that All Tree will bring back some of the nature worship of the collective’s earlier work. Preorders are up for the album now for those in Europe, and they’ve posted a video for “Old Tree” that you can see at the bottom of this post. It’s serene and sad and gorgeous, and if you’d expect less, you have some homework to do.

From the social medias:

hexvessel all tree

The first single and video “Old Tree” from our new album is out now!

From the ghostly notes of the dead tree branch, played with a violin bow by Antti Haapapuro, to Andrew McIvor’s haunting guitars, violin by Daniel Pioro and found forest sounds, our new song “Old Tree” sings of personal loss with a pagan heartbeat.

Mat McNerney says: “I wrote this song at a time of what should have been deep sadness, but as a way of finding solace in nature. We tend to think of life from such a short term perspective. Nature takes millions of years to develop some of the intricate life support systems we depend on to survive. I found my answers in the trees and what they tell me. As Hesse said, when we listen to trees, we learn the ‘ancient law of life’. This song ‘Old Tree’ is very much like the first song I ever wrote as HEXVESSEL and goes to the core of what our music is about. To quote Lord Byron, ‘I love not Man the less, but Nature more’.”

With visuals beautifully captured in the old growth rainforests of Vancouver Island by British Columbian filmmaker Mark Wyatt, our video is a reverential paean to the intrinsic and eternal divinity of nature.

https://Hexvessel.lnk.to/AllTreeID for digital and European preorders. This track is also available on Spotify etc. from today.

“We are happy to announce that our fourth album “All Tree” will be released on CD, LP and digitally on February 15th, 2019 worldwide. The album will be made available via our own label Secret Trees, in exclusive partnership with Century Media Records.

“All Tree is not just about going back to the heart of Hexvessel, with a slight return to our forest folk roots, it’s about drawing fresh inspiration from my own heritage too. The English pastoral folk influences are infused with Celtic mythology from my Anglo-Irish blood, with Finnish nature as our backdrop.

“From the Canterbury folk scene and early prog bands that soundtracked my youth in England, to the ghost stories I was told as a child on my uncles farm in Ireland, this album is a spiritual journey where the old myths are doorways to enlightenment. The dawn light across boggy fields, the wind blowing through the keyhole, the branches dragging their breath inwards as the seasons ignite a magic sense of mystery about the wilderness. That’s what we tried to bring out into the songs on this album. By bowing old dead tree branches with violin bows, by summoning the sounds of the fire and the birds in the field outside, we gave the music a life which, like the liminal spirits of Samhain drifts in and out of this world. That’s what folk means. It’s the countryside singing out from within me. It’s their story we sing. And no matter where I go or where I end up staying, it’s that folk countryside which is the seed from which I sprang. All Tree.” – Mat McNerney

Cover art photography by Bastian Kalous (who created the cover for No Holier Temple).

https://www.facebook.com/hexvessel
https://twitter.com/Hexvessel
http://instagram.com/hexvesselband
https://hexvessel.bandcamp.com/
https://www.hexvessel.com/
www.centurymedia.com

Hexvessel, “Old Tree” official video

Tags: , , , , , ,