Days of Rona: Jon Davis of Conan

Posted in Features on April 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

conan jon davis

Days of Rona: Jon Davis of Conan, Ungraven, Black Bow Records & Blackskull Services (Merseyside, UK)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Conan and Ungraven cannot rehearse currently, but we communicate often. Approximately two weeks before all this hit, we signed up to a lease on a 24/7 rehearsal room, which was the worst timing EVER. It’s almost like divine intervention, but in a bad way. Our health is good, I don’t believe any of us has or has had this virus, so I guess we’re good. I’m just excited to tour again, I miss it.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

I’m in the UK so we have a stay at home request on us, and often there is a line to get into the supermarket. I’m allowed to walk the dog obviously, and I’m really lucky because I am 100 yards from the waterfront and have a lot of open space to enjoy. I work from home, so I’m not inconvenienced really. I can’t go see my folks for a few weeks because my Mum is in one of those people classed as ‘vulnerable’ because she has some minor health problems. The worst thing is that my wife is waiting for her UK entry visa (she is from New Zealand) so we have a nervy wait to see if there are any flights available when she is ready to come here.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

The community here seems okay. I’ve been here almost a year, so have yet to really get to know a lot of people. The local pub, which I just started to frequent, is now closed because of the government lockdown, and that is a big loss. In terms of music, of course there have been a lot of shows cancelled and that has hurt a lot of promoters and bands. Most of my contact with those guys is online and most of us are doing okay, if maybe a little stressed.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

I personally am more creative when faced with a challenge or when I am dealing with some sort of life event. Conan was born from such circumstances and I’ve been writing some cool stuff as well as hatching some interesting ideas while we’re all under these restrictions. It’s not fun, but it affects us all so I’d rather keep myself busy than allow frustration to set in.

http://www.hailconan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hailconan/
https://www.instagram.com/hailconan/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ungraven/
https://www.instagram.com/thisisungraven/
https://ungraven.bigcartel.com/
https://ungraven.bandcamp.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Black-Bow-Records-565275456841866/
https://www.weareblackskull.com/

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Vine Weevil Post “You Are the Ocean” Video from Sun in Your Eyes LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

VINE WEEVIL

There are a few other tracks up on Vine Weevil‘s YouTube page, in case you, like me, don’t have Tidal and are Spotify impaired — seriously, how many times do I need to sign up for the same service? if you need to prove I’m me so god damn badly just take my blood and have done with it — but I’ve yet to dig into their upcoming full-length, Sun in Your Eyes, in its entirety. This is something I hope to rectify as soon as possible; hopefully by the time this post actually goes live, I mean. And I think when you dig into the video below for Vine Weevil‘s “You Are the Ocean,” you’ll perhaps get a sense of where some of my urgency comes from.

Based in London, the duo is comprised of brothers Itamar and Yotam Rubinger, who — on drums and guitar/vocals, respectively — are both former members of a little band called Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Oh, well then. Okay. Sun in Your Eyes is their second long-player behind a quietly-issued 2019 self-titled, and while one might recognize some of their foundation in the songwriting traditions of the ’60s garage and ’70s heavy rock movements, an edge of grit pervading all the while, at least from what I’ve heard thus far — cuts like “Out of Tune,” the Beatlesy shimmer of “My Friend,” and the title-track — there isn’t quite the same gonna-go-kill-some-ladies vibe going on, and you know what? I’m cool with that. Cool with the idea of not killing ladies. I know that’s a bold position to take, but I’m putting it out there.

Thematically, you’ll fine Vine Weevil working from a deeply personal point of view on Sun in Your Eyes, which is the Rubingers’ tribute to their late father. The video for “You Are the Ocean,” which was made by Omri Bigetz, deals in a worldlier scale in terms of the environmental scenarios being portrayed, but certainly life and death factor in one way or the other, as they do to most everything.

I already sent the band a “please please please let me hear your whole record” email, so when/if that happens, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, in case your Spotify (ever) works, here’s this to get you introduced to the band:

Vine Weevil, “You Are the Ocean” official video

Vine Weevil would like to introduce their new music video “You Are the Ocean”.

“You Are the Ocean” is the first video release from the album “Sun in Your Eyes”.

Vine Weevil is a London-based band formed of singer-guitarist Yotam Rubinger and drummer Itamar Rubinger, both formerly of Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats.

Vine Weevil’s sound is heavily influenced by 60s and 70s acid rock and garage. True to their influences, the album was recorded live on tape with analogue equipment at Gizzard Studios in London.

“The origins of the song come from a very personal place. We started writing the song after our father passed away. He spent most of his life by the sea. The feelings behind the song – and most parts of the album – are about our father.”

The distinctive animated video is by Amsterdam-based 3D artist Omri Bigetz.

The full album is now available on Spotify and Tidal.

https://open.spotify.com/album/2gISGt5j1kKz5BmiQglcqN

https://tidal.com/browse/album/127777264

Vine Weevil is:
Itamar Rubinger
Yotam Rubinger

Vine Weevil on Thee Facebooks

Vine Weevil on YouTube

Vine Weevil on Spotify

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Elephant Tree Post “Bird” Video from Habits LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Elephant Tree

From a lyrical standpoint, this might be the most beautiful track on Elephant Tree‘s upcoming second album, Habits. “Bird” tells an out-the-window-perspective story of a sparrow in winter trying to fly high enough to get over the clouds and feel the sun’s warmth, and with lines like “Everything that rises must converge,” and the chorus of, “Fly, rising/Die trying,” accompanied by lush, serene keys, it is a special piece right up to its winding, heavy finish, not the least for its stand-in as a metaphor for parenting. The London-based four-piece were playing it live as early as Fall 2018, and along with the prior-single “Sails” (posted here), it is a standout from Habits even as it plays a larger role in the record’s overarching flow.

Habits is out April 24 through Holy Roar Records and Deathwish Inc., and I have a review set to go up on Monday, April 13, with a track premiere that the band were gracious enough to allow me to host (despite at this point needing press from the likes of me like they need a hole in their head). With that to come, I’ll hold of heaping further praise on the album’s various nuances and heavy/melodic blend and just be glad for the arrival of the video for “Bird” as another excuse to put Habits on this morning. I didn’t really need one, but I’m grateful just the same. I’ll probably spend a decent portion of the day with it on, and no regrets.

There’s some performance footage spliced in here amid the visual effects. You’ll see Pete in his The Young Ones t-shirt, which he’s worn the last two times I’ve seen the band — at this point I hope he has more than one for when this one wears through — and Sam behind the drums, and Jack and John and Pete sharing vocal duties. They’re in there somewhere.

Anyway, enjoy. That’s the point of this whole thing. Enjoy it.

Do that:

Elephant Tree, “Bird” official video

London-based prog-psych-doom artisans ELEPHANT TREE have streamed their new single/video ‘Bird’, taken from their highly-anticipated third album Habits, after four years of honing their sound on the international live circuit.

In the words of the band: “‘Bird’ is about having and raising a child, the innocence and fragility of the child in a sometimes hostile and difficult world. You hope to do right by them but know from experience that fairness is not guaranteed.”

Released April 24th via Holy Roar Records / Deathwish Inc., you can pre-order Habits here: http://smarturl.it/elephanttree

Elephant Tree on Thee Facebooks

Elephant Tree on Instagram

Elephant Tree website

Holy Roar Records website

Holy Roar Records on Thee Facebooks

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Days of Rona: Andrew Field of APF Records

Posted in Features on April 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. — JJ Koczan

andrew field apf records

Days of Rona: Andrew Field of APF Records (Manchester, UK)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a label? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

As the owner of a small label which is largely dependent on sales of LPs and CDs, COVID-19 has presented a few challenges. First of all, there’s the fact my next big release (Desert Storm’s Omens album on 1st May) is being manufactured right now and I don’t know whether I’ll get the stock in time. Then there’s the fact our distributor has shut their offices, and online retailers like Amazon aren’t taking receipt of-third party items at the moment. Plus, with lots of people so sadly losing their jobs or being furloughed at present LPs are becoming an item many people don’t need or can’t afford just now.

Then there’s the daily question about whether or not we should still be shipping LPs, which involves a trip to the Post Office. How I’ve handed that thus far is by only going to mail records out when I have to go food shopping, as the Post Office is next to the supermarket. But I can see a time real soon where that won’t be an appropriate or safe thing to do.

A lot of our album sales come from APF’s 26 bands playing gigs. None of them are playing live at the moment, so that income stream has gone. Many people think a record label can survive on streaming income, but the reality is that we get no income from Bandcamp streams and just 0.004p per track play from Spotify.

On the upside, I’ve suddenly got lots of time to make plans for the future. Usually it’s seat of your pants running APF. This amount of free time is quite useful.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

I live in Manchester, England where we are in a semi-lockdown. We haven’t got anywhere near the peak infection period yet so I anticipate that lockdown becoming more robust over the next week or so.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

I like to accentuate the positives rather than focus too much on the negatives. It’s been great watching bands create original content online, with the recent Kurokuma / Friendship live stream on YouTube being a fine example. And people are rediscovering their record collections and seeking out new tunes to fill their time.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

I’m staying indoors unless I have to go buy food. And if you find music helps you through these difficult times, APF has got your back.

https://www.facebook.com/apfrecords
https://www.instagram.com/apfrecords/
https://apfrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.apfrecords.co.uk/

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Desertfest London 2020 Canceled

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

desertfest logo

Like I said with the Berlin post, we all knew this was coming, and I respect and admire the crew from Desertfest London for their ongoing efforts, frankly, to make the world a better place. Over the nine years, you’d be hard-pressed to find individuals who’ve done as much to bring heavy rock and roll to public consciousness on an underground level or otherwise, and as someone who’s sweated each year’s lineup from afar since last making the trip to London in 2013, I am sorry to see 2020’s festival go. Again, it’s awesome that they’re letting people roll over their tickets to 2021 — that is deeply, deeply, deeply excellent — and all we can do is wait and rejoice all the more when the lineup announcements start for what I have no doubt will be the Desertfest blowout to end, or better, to not at all end, all Desertfest blowouts for their 10th anniversary.

If you’re thinking about going next year, I encourage you to buy a voucher now. Worst thing that happens is you support the people putting this together. And they are people. I’ve met them. They’re super-nice.

Here’s what they have to say:

desertfest london 2020 off

Hello to our amazing Desertfest family,

Thank you for your patience and kind words over the last few days, it has kept us grounded through all this uncertainty. With the utmost sadness we must announce the cancellation of this year’s Desertfest London. We know this will not come as a surprise to many of you, as so many of our peers have made, and will continue to make, the same difficult choices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was not an easy decision and there has been much to work through behind the scenes which required ironing out before we could make this announcement. We want to let you know that we tried our best to bring you an event in some capacity, but sadly no scenario would bring the outcome we all want; the incredible atmosphere of Desertfest. With so many different venues, plus a lot of shared acts with our Berlin team, rescheduling to a later date in 2020 has also shown to be impossible. We feel the safest and most logical option is to take this year out and re-build for our 10-year anniversary next May.

Desertfest is a completely independent venture, there are no backers, investors or corporate sponsors keeping us afloat, making this cancellation more than just emotionally devastating. We have reached this level purely because of our amazing community of heavy music loving fans, you are the reason Desertfest is the festival it is. Now, we must look forward to making our 10-year anniversary the most incredible comeback ever, with your continued support allowing us to firmly keep our feet in the metaphorical sands of Camden.

Below you will find several different options for refunds and DF support packages:

? Keep hold of your ticket: Roll your 2020 ticket over to the ‘Decade in the Desert’ 10-year anniversary taking place May 2021. This is a HUGE help to us, allowing us to see the lay of land well in advance of the event. All those who roll their ticket over will receive a free patch sent in the coming months, plus an exclusive merch item at the 2021 event. You do not need to do anything to roll it over, DICE will take care of it.

? 10 Year Anniversary Voucher: Purchase a 2021 ’10 Year Anniversary Voucher’ these are effectively a super early-bird and again a huge support for us in the immediate few months. All those who purchase the 2021 voucher will receive a free patch sent in the coming months.

? Refund your ticket in full: We completely understand these are unprecedented and difficult times where some of you may need to claim a refund. You can do so by contacting DICE (your point of purchase) who can assist.

For those who want to show their support, but cannot commit to a 10-year anniversary voucher at this time, we have also set up several donation options via www.desertscene.co.uk/support, many with free merch as our way of showing our thanks.

This cancellation affects not only the three of us, but our amazing line-up of artists, please support them by buying music and merch directly from their sites. We also want to extend our love to our huge and incredible crew of stage managers, merch sellers, photographers, videographers, writers, drivers and so many more – all of which we can’t wait to hug and drink a pint with next May.

Thank you so much for your understanding, support and kindness at this time. We are nothing but a small team of people wanting to bring joy to other music lovers.

Please stay home, safe and healthy. We can’t wait to see you in May 2021.

Much love,
Desertfest London – Reece, Jake & Sarika

https://www.facebook.com/events/464163361105416/
http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/

Fu Manchu, Live at Desertfest London 2019

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Quarterly Review: Ocean Chief, Barnabus, Helen Money, Elder Druid, Mindcrawler, Temple of Void, Lunar Swamp, Huge Molasses Tank Explodes, Emile, Saturno Grooves

Posted in Reviews on March 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’m not saying I backloaded the Quarterly Review or anything — because I didn’t — but maybe subconsciously I wanted to throw in a few releases here I had a pretty good idea I was gonna dig beforehand. Pretty much all of them, as it turned out. Not a thing I regret happening, though, again, neither was it something I did purposefully. Anyone see A Serious Man? In this instance, I’m happy to “accept the mystery” and move on.

Before we dive into the last day, of course I want to say thank you for reading if you have been. If you’ve followed along all week or this is the only post you’ve seen or you’re just here because I tagged your band in the post on Thee Facebooks, whatever it is, it is appreciated. Thank you. Especially given the global pandemic, your time and attention is highly valued.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ocean Chief, Den Tredje Dagen

ocean chief den tredje dagen

The first Ocean Chief record in six years is nothing if not weighted enough to make up for anything like lost time. Also the long-running Swedish outfit’s debut on Argonauta Records, Den Tredje Dagen on CD/DL runs five songs and 59 minutes, and though it’s not without a sense of melody either instrumentally or vocally — certainly its guitars have plenty enough to evoke a sense of mournfulness at least — its primary impact still stems from the sheer heft of its tonality, and its tracks are of the sort that a given reviewer might be tempted to call “slabs.” They land accordingly, the longest of them positioned as the centerpiece “Dömd” seething with slower-Celtic Frost anxiety and the utter nastiness of its intent spread across 15-plus minutes of let-me-just-go-ahead-and-crush-that-for-you where “that” is everything and “no” isn’t taken for an answer. There’s respite in closer “Den Sista Resan” and the CD-bonus “Dimension 5,” but even these maintain an atmospheric severity consistent with what precedes them. One way or another, it is all fucking destroyed.

Ocean Chief on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records store

 

Barnabus, Beginning to Unwind

barnabus beginning to unwind

Come ye historians and classic heavy rockers. Come, reap what Rise Above Relics has sown. Though it’s hard sometimes not to think of the Rise Above Records imprint as label-honcho Lee Dorrian (ex-Cathedral, current With the Dead) picking out highlights from his own record collection — which is the stuff of legend — neither is that in any way a problem. Barnabus, who hailed and apparently on occasion still hail from the West Midlands in the UK, issued the Beginning to Unwind in 1972 as part of an original run that ended the next year. So it goes. Past its 10-minute jammy opener/longest track (immediate points) “America,” the new issue of Beginning to Unwind includes the LP, demos, live tracks, and no doubt assorted other odds and ends as well from Barnabus‘ brief time together. Songs like “The War Drags On” and “Resolute” are the stuff of ’70s-riff daydreams, while “Don’t Cry for Me My Lady” digs into proto-prog without losing its psych-folk inflection. I’m told the CD comes with a 44-page booklet, which only furthers the true archival standard of the release.

Barnabus on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Relics store

 

Helen Money, Atomic

helen money atomic

To those for whom Helen Money is a familiar entity, the arrival of a new full-length release will no doubt only be greeted with joy. The ongoing project of experimental cellist Alison Chesley, though the work itself — issued through Thrill Jockey as a welcome follow-up to 2016’s Become Zero (review here) — is hardly joyful. Coping with the universality of grief and notions of grieving-together with family, Chesley brings forth minimalism and electronics-inclusive stylstic reach in kind across the pulsating “Nemesis,” the periodic distortion of her core instrument jarring when it hits. She takes on a harp for “Coppe” and the effect is cinematic in a way that seems to find answer on the later “One Year One Ring,” after which follows the has-drums “Marrow,” but wherever Chesley goes on Atomic‘s 47 minutes, the overlay of mourning is never far off.

Helen Money on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records store

 

Elder Druid, Golgotha

elder druid golgotha

Belfast dual-guitar sludge five-piece Elder Druid return with seven tracks/39 minutes of ready punishment on their second album, Golgotha, answering the anger of 2017’s Carmina Satanae with densely-packed tones and grooves topped with near-universal harsh vocals (closer “Archmage” is the exception). What they’re playing doesn’t require an overdose of invention, with their focus is so much on hammering their riffs home, and certainly the interwoven leads of the title-track present some vision of intricacy for those who might demand it while also being punched in the face, and the transitional “Sentinel,” which follows,” brings some more doomly vibes ahead of “Vincere Vel Mori,” which revives the nod, “Dreadnought” has keys as well as a drum solo, and the penultimate “Paegan Dawn of Anubis” brings in an arrangement of backing vocals, so neither are they void of variety. At the feedback-soaked end of “Archmage,” Golgotha comes across genuine in its aggression and more sure of their approach than they were even just a couple years ago.

Elder Druid on Thee Facebooks

Elder Druid on Bandcamp

 

Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter

mindcrawler lost orbiter

I know the whole world seems like it’s in chaos right now — mostly because it is — but go ahead and quote me on this: a band does not come along in 2020 and put out a record like Lost Orbiter and not get picked up by some label if they choose to be. Among 2020’s most promising debuts, it is progressive without pretense, tonally rich and melodically engaging, marked out by a poise of songcraft that speaks to forward potential whether it’s in the coursing leads of “Drake’s Equation” or the final slowdown/speedup of “Trappist-1” that smoothly shifts into the sample at the start of closer “Dead Space.” Mindcrawler‘s first album — self-recorded, no less — is modern cosmic-heavy brought to bear in a way that strikes such a balance between the grounded and the psychedelic that it should not be ignored, even in the massively crowded international underground from which they’re emerging. And the key point there is they are emerging, and that as thoughtfully composed as the six tracks/29 minutes of Lost Orbiter are, they only represent the beginning stages of what Mindcrawler might accomplish. If there is justice left, someone will release it on vinyl.

Mindcrawler on Thee Facebook

Mindcrawler on Bandcamp

 

Temple of Void, The World That Was

Temple of Void The World that Was

Michigan doom-death five-piece Temple of Void have pushed steadily toward the latter end of that equation over their now-three full-lengths, and though The World That Was (their second offering through Shadow Kingdom) is still prone to its slower tempos and is includes the classical-guitar interlude “A Single Obulus,” that stands right before “Leave the Light Behind,” which is most certainly death metal. Not arguing with it, as to do so would surely only invite punishment. The extremity only adds to the character of Temple of Void‘s work overall, and as “Casket of Shame” seems to be at war with itself, so too is it seemingly at war with whatever manner of flesh its working so diligently to separate from the bone. Across a still-brief 37 minutes, The World That Was — which caps with its most-excellently-decayed nine-minute title-track — harnesses and realizes this grim vision, and Temple of Void declare in no uncertain terms that no matter how they might choose to tip the scale on the balance of their sound, they are its master.

Temple of Void on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records store

 

Lunar Swamp, Shamanic Owl

Lunar Swamp Shamanic Owl

Lunar Swamp have spawned as a blusier-directed offshoot of Italian doomers Bretus of which vocalist Mark Wolf, guitarist/bassist Machen and drummer S.M. Ghoul are members, and sure enough, their debut single “Shamanic Owl,” fosters this approach. As the band aren’t strangers to each other, it isn’t such a surprise that they’d be able to decide on a sound and make it happen their first time out but the seven-minute roller — also the leadoff their first EP, UnderMudBlues, which is due on CD in June — also finds time to work in a nod to the central riff of Sleep‘s “Dragonaut” along with its pointed worship of Black Sabbath, so neither do they seems strictly adherent to a blues foundation, despite the slide guitar that works its way in at the finish. How the rest of the EP might play out need not be a mystery — it’s out digitally now — but as far as an introduction goes, “Shamanic Owl” will find welcome among those seeking comfort in the genre-familiar.

Lunar Swamp on Thee Facebooks

Lunar Swamp on Bandcamp

 

Huge Molasses Tank Explodes, II

Huge Molasses Tank Explodes II

The nine-track/42-minute second LP, II, from Milano post-this-or-that five-piece Huge Molasses Tank Explodes certainly finds the band earning bonus points based on their moniker alone, but more than that, it is a work of reach and intricacy alike, finding the moment where New Wave emerged from out of krautrock’s fascination with synthesizer music and bring to that a psychedelic shimmer that is too vintage-feeling to be anything other than modern. It is laid back enough in its overarching affect that “The Run” feels dreamy, most especially in its guitar lines, but never is it entirely at rest, and both the centerpiece “No One” and the later “So Much to Lose” help continue the momentum that “The Run” manages so fluidly to build in a manner one might liken to space rock were the implication of strict adherence to stylistic guidelines so implicit in that categorization. They present this nuance with a natural-seeming sense of craft and in “High or Low,” a fuzzy tone that feels like only a welcome windfall. Those who can get their head around it should seek to do so, and kudos to Huge Molasses Tank Explodes for being more than just a clever name.

Huge Molasses Tank Explodes on Thee Facebooks

Retro Vox Records on Bandcamp

 

Emile, The Black Spider/Det Kollektive Selvmord

Emile The Black Spider Det Kollektive Selvmord

Set to release through Heavy Psych Sounds on the same day as the new album from his main outfit The Sonic Dawn, The Black Spider/Det Kollective Selvmord is the debut solo album from Copenhagen-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Emile Bureau, who has adopted his first name as his moniker of choice. Fair enough for the naturalism and intended intimacy of the 11-track/39-minute outing, which indeed splits itself between portions in English and in Danish, sounding likewise able to bring together sweet melodies in both. Edges of distortion in “Bundlos” and some percussion in the second half’s title-track give a semblance of arrangement to the LP, but at the core is Emile himself, his vocals and guitar, and that’s clearly the purpose behind it. Where The Sonic Dawn often boast a celebratory feel, The Black Spider/Det Kollective Selvmord is almost entirely subdued, and its expressive sensibility comes through regardless of language.

Emile on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds store

 

Saturno Grooves, Cosmic Echoes

saturno grooves cosmic echoes

Sonic restlessness! “Fire Dome” begins with a riffy rush, “Forever Zero” vibes out on low end and classic swing, the title-track feels like an Endless Boogie jam got lost in the solar system, “Celestial Tunnel” is all-thrust until it isn’t at all, “Blind Faith” is an acoustic interlude, and “Dark Matter” is a punk song. Because god damn, of course it is. It is little short of a miracle Saturno Grooves make their second album, Cosmic Echoes as remarkably cohesive as it is, yet through it all they hold fast to class and purpose alike, and from its spacious outset to its bursting finish, there isn’t a minute of Cosmic Echoes that feels like happenstance, even though they’re obviously following one impulse after the next in terms of style. Heavy (mostly) instrumentalism that works actively not to be contained. Out among the echoes, Saturno Grooves might just be finding their own wavelength.

Saturno Groove on Thee Facebooks

LSDR Records store

 

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Quarterly Review: Slift, IIVII, Coogans Bluff, Rough Spells, Goblinsmoker, Homecoming, Lemurian Folk Songs, Ritual King, Sunflowers, Maya Mountains

Posted in Reviews on March 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Thursday. Everyone doing well? Healthy? Kicking ass? Working from home? There seems to be a lot of that going around, at least among the lucky. New Jersey, where I live, is on lockdown with non-essential businesses shuttered, roads largely empty and all that. It can be grim and apocalyptic feeling, but I’m finding this Quarterly Review to be pretty therapeutic or at least helpfully distracting at a moment when I very much need something to be that. I hope that if you’re reading this, whether you’ve been following along or not, it’s done or can do the same for you if that’s what you need. I’ll leave it at that.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

The second album from French space/psych trio Slift is a 72-minute blowout echoshred epic — too aware not to be prog but too cosmic not to be space rock. Delivered through Stolen Body Records and Vicious Circle, Ummon is not only long, it speaks to a longer term. It’s not an album for this year, or for this decade, or for any other decade, for that matter. It’s for the ongoing fluid now. You want to lose yourself in the depths of buzz and dreamy synth? Yeah, you can do that. You want to dig into the underlying punk and maybe a bit of Elder influence in the vocal bark and lead guitar shimmer of “Thousand Helmets of Gold?” Well hell’s bells, do that. The mega-sprawling 2LP is a gorgeous blast of distortion, backed by jazzy, organic drum wud-dum-tap and the bass, oh, the bass; the stuff of low end sensory displacement. Amid swirls and casts of melodic light in “Dark Was Space, Cold Were the Stars,” Slift dilate universal energy and push beyond the noise wash reaches of “Son Dong’s Cavern” and through the final build, liftoff and roll of 13-minute closer “Lions, Tigers and Bears” with the deft touch of those dancing on prior conceptions. We’d be lucky to have Ummon as the shape of space rock to come.

Slift on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records store

Vicious Circle Records store

 

IIVII, Grinding Teeth/Zero Sleep

Two LPs telling two different stories released at the same time, Grinding Teeth/Zero Sleep (on Consouling Sounds) brings Josh Graham‘s aural storytelling to new cinematic reaches. The composer, guitarist, synthesist, programmer, visual artist, etc., is joined along the way by the likes of Jo Quail, Ben Weinman (ex-The Dillinger Escape Plan), Dana Schecter (Insect Ark), Sarah Pendleton (ex-SubRosa) and Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) — among others — but across about 90 minutes of fluidity, Graham/IIVII soundtracks two narratives through alternatingly vast and crushing drone. The latter work is actually an adaptation from a short sci-fi film about, yes, humanity losing its ability to sleep — I feel you on that one — but the former, which tells a kind of meth-fueled story of love and death, brings due chaos and heft to go with its massive synthesized scope. Josh Graham wants to score your movie. You should let him. And you should pay him well. And you should let him design the poster. And you should pay him well for that too. End of story.

IIVII on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds store

 

Coogans Bluff, Metronopolis

coogans bluff metronopolis

Following the initial sax-laden prog-rock burst and chase that is opener “Gadfly,” Berlin’s Coogans Bluff bring a ’70s pastoralia to “Sincerely Yours,” and that atmosphere ends up staying with Metronopolis — their fifth album — for the duration, no matter where else they might steer the sound. And they do steer the sound. Sax returns (as it will) in the jabbing “Zephyr,” a manic shred taking hold in the second half accompanied by no-less-manic bass, and “Creature of the Light” reimagines pop rock of the original vinyl era in the image of its own weirdness, undeniably rock but also something more. Organ-inclusive highlight “Soft Focus” doesn’t so much touch on psychedelics as dunk its head under their warm waters, and “The Turn I” brings an almost Beatlesian horn arrangement to fruition ahead of the closer “The Turn II.” But in that finale, and in “Hit and Run,” and way back in “Sincerely Yours,” Coogans Bluff hold that Southern-style in their back pocket as one of several of Metronopolis‘ recurring themes, and it becomes one more element among the many at their disposal.

Coogans Bluff on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution store

 

Rough Spells, Ruins at Midday

rough spells ruins at midday

An underlying current of social commentary comes coated in Rough Spells‘ mysticism on Ruins at Midday, the Toronto unit’s second LP. Recorded by Ian Blurton and presented by Fuzzed and Buzzed and DHU Records, the eight-track LP has, as the lyrics of “Chance Magic” say, “No bad intentions.” Indeed, it seems geared only toward eliciting your participation in its ceremony of classic groove, hooks and melodies, even the mellow “Die Before You Die” presenting an atmosphere that’s heavy but still melodic and accessible. “Grise Fiord” addresses Canada’s history of mistreating its native population, while “Pay Your Dues” pits guitar and vocal harmonics against each other in a shove of proto-metallic energy to rush momentum through side B and into the closing pair of the swaggering “Nothing Left” and the title-track, which is the longest single cut at five minutes, but still keeps its songwriting taut with no time to spare for indulgences. In this, and on several fronts, Ruins at Midday basks in multifaceted righteousness.

Rough Spells on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzed and Buzzed store

DHU Records store

 

Goblinsmoker, A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze

goblinsmoker a throne in haze a world ablaze

Upside the head extreme sludgeoning! UK trio Goblinsmoker take on the more vicious and brutal end of sludge with the stench of death on A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze (on Sludgelord Records), calling to mind the weedian punishment of Belzebong and others of their decrepit ilk. Offered as part two of a trilogy, A Throne in Haze, A World Ablaze is comprised of three tracks running a caustic 26 minutes thick enough such that even its faster parts feel slow, a churning volatility coming to the crash of “Smoked in Darkness” at the outset only to grow more menacing in the lurch of centerpiece “Let Them Rot” — which of course shifts into blastbeats later on — and falling apart into noise and echoing residual feedback after the last crashes of “The Forest Mourns” recede. Beautifully disgusting, the release reportedly furthers the story of the Toad King depicted on its cover and for which the band’s prior 2018 EP was named, and so be it. The lyrics, largely indecipherable in screams, are vague enough that if you’re not caught up, you’ll be fine. Except you won’t be fine. You’ll be dead. But it’ll be awesome.

Goblinsmoker on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

 

Homecoming, LP01

homecoming lp01

Progressive metal underpins French trio Homecoming‘s aptly-titled first record, LP01, with the guitars of second cut “Rivers of Crystal” leading the way through a meandering quiet part and subsequent rhythmic figure that reminds of later Opeth, though there’s still a strong heavy rock presence in their tones and grooves generally. It’s an interesting combination, and all the more so because I think part of what’s giving off such a metal vibe is the snare sound. You don’t normally think of a snare drum determining that kind of thing, but here we are. Certainly the vocal arrangements between gruff melodies, backing screams and growls, etc., the odd bit of blastbeating here and there, bring it all into line as well — LP01 is very much the kind of album that would title its six-minute instrumental centerpiece “Interlude” — but the intricacy in how the nine-minute “Return” develops and the harmonies that emerge early in closer “Five” tell the tale clearly of Homecoming‘s ambitions as they move forward from this already-ambitious debut.

Homecoming on Thee Facebooks

Homecoming on Bandcamp

 

Lemurian Folk Songs, Logos

lemurian folk songs logos

Tracked in the same sessions as the Budapest outfit’s 2019 album, Ima (review here), it should not come as a major surprise that the six-track/49-minute Logos from Lemurian Folk Songs follows a not entirely dissimilar course, bringing together dream-drift of tones and melodies with subtle but coherent rhythmic motion in a fashion not necessarily revolutionary for heavy psych, but certainly well done and engaging across its tracks. The tones of guitar and bass offer a warmth rivaled only by the echoing vocals on opener/longest cut (immediate points) “Logos,” and the shimmering “Sierra Tejada” and progressively building “Calcination” follow that pattern while adding a drift that is both of heavy psych and outside of it in terms of the character of how it’s played. None of the last three tracks is less than eight minutes long — closer “Firelake” tops nine in a mirror to “Logos” at the outset, but if that’s the band pushing further out I hear, then yes, I want to go along for that trip.

Lemurian Folk Songs on Thee Facebooks

Para Hobo Records on Bandcamp

 

Ritual King, Ritual King

ritual king ritual king

Progressive heavy rockers Ritual King display a striking amount of grace and patience across their Ripple Music-issued self-titled long-player. Tapping modern influences like Elder and bringing their own sense of melodic nuance to the proceedings across a tightly-constructed seven songs and 42 minutes, the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Jordan Leppitt, bassist Dan Godwin — whose tone is every bit worthy of gotta-hear-it classification — and drummer/backing vocalist Gareth Hodges string together linear movements in “Headspace” and “Dead Roads” that flow one into the next, return at unexpected moments or don’t, and follow a direction not so much to the next chorus but to the next statement the band want to make, whatever that might be. “Restrain” begins with a sweet proggy soundscape and unfolds two verses over a swaying riff, then is gone, where at the outset, “Valleys” offers grandeur the likes of which few bands would dare to embody on their third or fourth records, let alone their first. Easily one of 2020’s best debuts.

Ritual King on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Sunflowers, Endless Voyage

sunflowers endless voyage

You know what? Never mind. You ain’t weird enough for this shit. Nobody’s weird enough for this shit. I have a hard time believing the two souls from Portugal who made it are weird enough for this shit. Think I’m wrong? Think you’re up for it and you’re gonna put on SunflowersEndless Voyage and be like, “oh yeah, turns out mega-extreme krautrock blasted into outer space was my wavelength all along?” Cool. Bandcamp player’s right there. Have at it. I dare you.

Sunflowers on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records store

 

Maya Mountains, Era

maya mountains era

Italian heavy rockers Maya Mountains formed in 2005 and issued their debut album, Hash and Pornography, through Go Down Records in 2008. Era, which follows a narrative about the title-character whose name is given in lead cut “Enrique Dominguez,” who apparently travels through space after being lost in the desert — as one does — and on that basis alone is clearly a more complex offering than its predecessor. As to where Maya Mountains have been all the time in between records — here and there, in other bands, etc. But Era, at 10 tracks and 44 minutes, is the summation of five years of work on their part and its blend of scope and straight-ahead heavy riffing is welcome in its more heads-down moments like “Vibromatic” or in the purposefully weirder finale “El Toro” later on. Something like a second debut for the band after being away for so long, Era at very least marks the beginning of a new one for them, and one hopes it continues in perhaps more productive fashion than the last.

Maya Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records store

 

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Paradise Lost Post “Fall From Grace” Video; Obsidian Preorders Start

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

paradise lost

I’m curious how closely the promotional plan from Nuclear Blast for Paradise Lost‘s new album, Obsidian — which is out May 15 — will follow the pattern of the latest record from My Dying Bride that came out earlier this month. There are, of course, additional factors at play now that weren’t at the beginning of the year as they were rolling out the first of that band’s singles — blah blah blah pandemic — but starting with a narrative-style video and the launch of preorders is on point so far, and likewise the choice of a powerful lead single. In this instance, that’s “Fall From Grace,” for which the video is streamable below, followed, as happens, by the preorder link.

Granted it’s cliché as heckdarnshoot to compare these two acts either sonically or in terms of their respective career trajectories, but now that they’re once again labelmates — Paradise Lost signed to Nuclear Blast for their 2017 album, Medusa (review here), following a long stint on Century Media — it’s hard to avoid since at least one assumes it’s the same teams working behind the scenes on promoting them. My emails come from the same parties, anyhow. Paradise Lost are nothing not a proven commodity, as even the reception to their last offering proved, so maybe that’s me being interested in how the industry works these days — if what comes next is a lyric video, it’ll be on target — but as we’ve all learned to one degree or another in the last month-plus, plans can change in ways not previously anticipated. Still, even on a label with the reach of Nuclear BlastObsidian will obviously be a priority.

If the cinematic feel of “Fall From Grace” is anything to go by, that’s how it’s being treated. More to come, I’m sure.

Enjoy:

Paradise Lost, “Fall From Grace” official video

PARADISE LOST RELEASE NEW SINGLE & VIDEO FOR “FALL FROM GRACE” + START PRE-ORDER FOR “OBSIDIAN” (MAY 15TH)

The book has been closed but the story is not over: PARADISE LOST sharpen their pens and add another chapter to their dark, glooming history of death doom and gothic metal. In difficult times, the British legend from Halifax is the drug that numbs the pain , the lover that takes away the sorrows, the story that craves to be told.

“Obsidian”, the new album from PARADISE LOST, will be released on May,15th.

You can order “Obsidian” now in various formats here:
https://nblast.de/ParadiseLostObsidian

Nick Holmes states: “As a global crisis, it goes without saying Covid 19 has affected everyone and everything, including every aspect of the music industry. As a result, our record label Nuclear Blast offered us the chance to postpone the launch of our latest album ‘Obsidian’ to a less volatile time later in the year.

Taking this into consideration, and the fact the live music circuit is currently in lockdown, we think it’s unnecessary to postpone the release as we think our fans wouldn’t want to wait. Music can be enjoyed in practically any environment, so therefore we are going ahead with the same release date 15.5.20, and we sincerely hope our new album helps to lift your spirits, and is a beacon of light in the dark during these uncertain times! Thanks for your continuous support through the years and see you on the road!”

Paradise Lost website

Paradise Lost on Thee Facebooks

Paradise Lost at Nuclear Blast website

Nuclear Blast on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast on Instagram

Nuclear Blast webstore

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