Ancient Lights Premiere Trailer for Self-Titled Debut

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ancient lights photo mark swaffield

I know what you’re thinking: Really? A premiere for an album trailer? Well, it’s six and a half minutes long, so quit complaining.

Unceasingly grim in its atmosphere and honed to murky depths that are equal parts obtuse and hypnotic, the self-titled debut from UK three-piece Ancient Lights tops 70 minutes — comes closer to 90 when you count the CD/DL bonus material — and is set to release in July via Ritual Productions. It is a meandering psychedelic wash, repetition and ambience given priority over structure as the trio of bassist/vocalist/guitarist Adam Richardson, guitarist Ben Carr and drummer Tim Bertilsson combine and in some ways surpass their pedigrees in bands like Ramesses5ive and Switchblade in order to push as far out as possible.

Do they get there? Oh, they get there. “War of Attrition” sounds like it’s being fought against the notion of consciousness itself, while 17-minute pieces like “Against Nature” and “Fallow Year” drift into a willed-into-existence sonic beyond. Immersion: inevitable. To call it hypnotic as above is underselling it both in concept and execution. It’s not just the listener being hypnotized here; it’s the band as well. The feedback-soaked, chant-laden “Asakai Dasa” feels as much about the experience of its creation as the resulting “song.” In this way, Ancient Lights are in communion with themselves, with their audience, and with the moment captured on the recording. This is characteristic of much of Richardson‘s work in Ramesses or 11PARANOIAS — the latter of whom also reportedly have new material in the works — but I’m not sure it’s even been driven to such psychedelic extremes as it is on Ancient Lights.

Because it is a work of extremity. Not in the sense of blastbeats or death metal vocals or anything like that, but in its sheer willingness to delve into its own psychosis, Ancient Lights‘ debut is neither for the feint of heart nor the closed of mind. Its triumph lies not in emerging on the other side of “Fallow Year” unscathed, but in having made the journey through it in the first place, and even shorter pieces like “Orichalcum Eater” (2:57) or the plodding “Miasmaculatum” (3:58) make an offering of swirl with more than enough undertow to pull its audience away from their own being. To put a realistic point on it, it’s a hard record to write about because I keep feeling my mind wander in time to the ensuing nod.

The trailer gives a taste of opener “Decaying Lotus,” the subsequent “Temple Ghosts” and the bonus track “Vessel of Inevitability,” and again, if your concern is that most album teasers don’t give a sense of the substance of the record itself, you’re not wrong. I assure you that’s not the case here. Click play and find out for yourself. PR wire info follows, as usual.

Enjoy:

Ancient Lights, Ancient Lights album trailer premiere

Immerse yourself and preview the tracks ‘Decaying Lotus’, ‘Vessel of Inevitability’ and ‘Temple Ghosts’ from Ancient Lights debut self-titled album, out on Ritual Productions July 2018.

Ancient Lights refuse to tread worn sonic terrain with their debut, instead crafting a dynamic and textured journey that explores pastures of darkness, ambience, radiance and disintegration. Comprised of members of esteemed bands of the heavy palette, the origins of the band came after 13 shadowy years of jammed discourse and psychic plotting between Adam Richardson (11PARANOIAS, Ramesses) and Ben Carr (5ive, INTRCPTR), with the optimal addition of Tim Bertilsson (Switchblade) catalysing the final reality of this band.

Trailer directed by Cristiane Richardson and edited by Sergio Angot.

The band recorded their debut rite at Bonafide Studios, London under the spell of the 2017 summer solstice sky with Dan Miller. Additional recording by Ben Carr and Adam Richardson in June 2017 at XL Recordings Studio. Mixing and mastering by Dan Miller and Adam Richardson in December 2017 at XL Recordings Studio, London.

ANCIENT LIGHTS is:
Tim Bertilsson – drums
Adam Richardson – bass, guitar, vocals & lyrics
Ben Carr – guitar

Ancient Lights on Thee Facebooks

Ancient Lights on Instagram

Ancient Lights on Twitter

Ritual Productions on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions on Bandcamp

Ritual Productions website

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Sons of Alpha Centauri to Release Continuum June 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Alpha Centauri

Space is the apparent theme of Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s sophomore long-player. Continuum is set to release on June 1 through H42 Records and Cobraside, and it follows 11 years after the band made their self-titled debut (discussed here). What have they been doing in all that time? Mostly releasing splits and collaborations. They took part in Yawning Sons with Yawning Man and Alpha Cat with Karma to Burn offshoot Treasure Cat, put out no fewer than three splits with Karma to Burn proper, as well as a split with WaterWays and Hotel Wrecking City Traders and a split with A Death Cinematic.

So they’ve been keeping plenty busy, in other words, just not putting out an album. Well, the eight-track/39 minute Continuum changes that with graceful progressive flourish and more weighted stretches to match its breadth of atmosphere in cuts like “Solar Storm” and “Interstellar.” A science-driven post-rock pulses through “Io” while the penultimate “Orbiting Jupiter” offers reflective piano ahead of the 11-minute closer “Return Voyage.”

Not saying I’ve heard it yet or anything, but it’s an album that covers a lot of ground and well earns its voyaging aspects. Here’s info from the PR wire:

Sons of Alpha Centauri Continuum

Sons of Alpha Centauri announce details from upcoming album “Continuum”

Over a decade since the release of their debut album, UK’s stoner/progressive metallers Sons of Alpha Centauri return for their sophomore album – an epic introspective journey of abrasive and ambient progressive electronic alt rock entitled Continuum.

Over a decade in development, Continuum is driven with a raw infusion of power that only Aaron Harris from ISIS and Palms (which features members from Deftones) could deliver from the producing and mixing helm. Harris has driven his unique and deep understanding of the genre to channel the album to compare against contemporaries such as the debut Palms album and the ISIS masterpiece Panopticon.

This raw and cathartic performance further reinforces that this is Sons of Alpha Centauri at their heaviest with Continuum wrought with dark anthems, intense textures, introspective interludes and tidal waves of immersive distortion.

Having just recently released a boxset of their collaborations with Karma to Burn and their partnership with Yawning Man known as Yawning Sons being widely regarded as a cult act the return of Sons of Alpha Centauri is something to really watch in 2018.

Continuum sees a development of the heavier blended concepts expressed on the debut album and Sons of Alpha Centauri re-emerge with Aaron Harris as the instrumental electronic alt rock titans!

New Sons of Alpha Centauri album Continuum will be released on 1 June 2018. H42 Records – Worldwide and on Cobraside Records – United States & Canada

Aaron Harris from post metal band ISIS and Palms (featuring members of Deftones) has engineered and produced the Continuum.

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofalphacentauri
https://twitter.com/SoAlphaCentauri
https://sonsofalphacentauri.bandcamp.com/
http://www.sonsofalphacentauri.co.uk/
https://www.h42records.com
http://cobraside.com/

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum teaser

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Morag Tong to Release Last Knell of Om May 18; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

morag tong photo isha shah

Through mostly longer-form pieces, London psychedoomic four-piece Morag Tong make their full-length debut with Last Knell of Om on May 18. Though they’re almost certainly aware of them, the title doesn’t seem to actually be a reference to the band Om, whose last knell has hopefully not been heard, and perhaps refers more to the end of a meditative state, something springing to action, say, as a band might on their first album.

But that’s me, and I almost always assume titles are self-referential on the part of the band in question, when they almost never are. So it goes. More importantly, Morag Tong have a new song streaming from Last Knell of Om called “We Answer” and it’s eight minutes of riffy murk that’s a lot of fun to get all turned around within. You can have at it at the bottom of this post.

And hey, while you’re there, why not check out some info from the PR wire, eh? Here it is:

morag tong the last knell of om

Psychedelic doom newcomers MORAG TONG announce debut LP ‘Last Knell of Om’ (May 18)

Psychedelic doom has a new voice in newcomers MORAG TONG, who are proud to announce their debut LP Last Knell of Om, to be released May 18.

To coincide with the news, the band have streamed lead track ‘We Answer’.

Unquestionably odd and instantly lovable, Last Knell of Om is ostensibly a stoner doom album but at heart an anti-doom record, the sounds of the genre taken to the nth degree. Slow, expansive, spacious sonorities meet a shared passion for musical experimentalism driven by a vocalist-drummer and a wall-of-sound approach.

Recorded in a studio at the top of a hill just south of London, Om contains the very minute traces of pick-up from the chart-topping Capital FM station. Similarly, opening track ‘Transmission’ begins and ends with recordings of birdsong – a link to lead track ‘We Answer’.

Although not strictly a concept album, there is an impressive level of cohesion to Morag Tong’s Last Knell of Om. Heavily DIY, Morag Tong embarked on March tours with Tuskar and Sail, and put on their own mini-festival called The Local Fuzz. The band have played alongside Slabdragger, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Earthmass, Monolithian, and more.

Watch the band live:
27th Apr – Plymouth, Underground
28th Apr – Tiverton, White Horse Inn
16th May – London, Black Heart [Album Launch w/ Elephant Tree, Wychhound]

moragtong.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/moragtongband
instagram.com/morag.tong
twitter.com/moragtongband

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Quarterly Review: All Them Witches, Anthroprophh, Orphan Gears, The Watchers, Grajo, Mythic Sunship, Empress, Monads, Nest, Redneck Spaceship

Posted in Reviews on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Well, we’ve reached the end of the week if not the end of the Quarterly Review itself. That’s right: after hemming and hawing all week and going back and forth in my silly little brain, I’ve decided to extend this edition to a sixth day, which will be Monday. That means 60 reviews in six days, not 50 in five. Honestly, I could probably keep going for three or four more beyond that if I had the time or inclination, and I may get there someday, but I’m definitely not there now.

But hey, there have been a couple comments left along the way, so thanks for that. I appreciate you taking the time to read if you have. Here’s the last for the week and we’ll pick back up on Monday.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

All Them Witches, Lost and Found EP

all them witches lost and found ep

If Nashville four-piece All Them Witches put together the free-download Lost and Found EP simply as a means of getting their take on the folk song “Hares on the Mountain” out there, it was worth it. In the hands of vocalist/bassist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Rhodes specialist/violinist Allan Van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler, the traditional tune becomes a wide open dronescape, bristling and vague like memory itself. It’s beautiful and a little confusing in just the right way, and it comes accompanied on the short release by the Fleetwood Mac cover “Before the Beginning,” an even-more-subdued take on “Call Me Star” from 2015’s New West Records debut, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), and a dub redux of “Open Passageways” – called, of course, “Dub Passageways” – from the same album. Might be a stopgap between full-lengths, but still, at 18 minutes, it’d make a more than worthy 10” release if they were looking for something new for the merch table.

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

 

Anthroprophh, Omegaville

anthroprophh omegaville

Next time you feel like, “Hey man, I’m so freaked out and weird and wow man whatever blah blah,” just take a second to remember you live in a dimension where dudes from The Heads have side-projects. Paul Allen and Anthroprophh – his trio with Gareth Turner and Jesse Webb, otherwise known as the duo Big Naturals – are a freaked out freakout’s freakout. The stuff of psychedelic mania. And that’s only on the first disc of the 2CD Omegavlle (Rocket Recordings). By the time they get around to the three-song second disc and dig into extended trips like “Omegaille/THOTHB” (14:48) and the subsequent finale, “Journey out of Omegaville and into the…” (20:57), they’re so far gone into noise and captured, manipulated audio that who the hell knows where we’ve ended up? At 88 minutes, the limits of manageability are long left behind, but to get some of the Velvet Underground-in-space vibes of “Maschine” in trade for undertaking the undertaking it’s well worth letting go of the rigidity of things like time, place, etc.

Anthroprophh on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Orphan Gears, Rat Race

orphan gears rat race

I’m pretty sure Orphan Gears used the Super Mario Bros. font for their logo on the cover of their latest EP, Rat Race, and for that, they should be saluted. The gritty-riffing semi-punker London four-piece offer five tracks and 20 minutes of workaday, boozy grooves, blowing off steam after putting in a shift at this or that crappy job. They are null as regards pretense, and ask little more of their audience than perhaps a beer from the stage or whatever else might be on the menu that night. They share initials, but unlike much of the London underground, they share little ultimately with Orange Goblin in terms of style, despite the shuffle of “Tough Luck, BJ” or the harmonica at the end of “Bitch-Slapped Blues,” and by the time they get to the classic strut of the title-track, they seem to be dug into AC/DC-style groove in the verse while blending in modern heavy rock impulses around it. They clearly save their best for last.

Orphan Gears on Thee Facebooks

Orphan Gears on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Black Abyss

the watchers black abyss

An immediately cogent, professional debut full-length is about what you’d expect from The Watchers, the San Francisco four-piece with members of SpiralArms, Orchid and Black Gates in their ranks, particularly after their prior EP, Sabbath Highway (review here), but that doesn’t stop the songwriting from impressing across the eight-song long-player, Black Abyss (on Ripple Music). The band’s presentation is crisp and pro-shop all the way through, from the soloing on “Oklahoma Black Magic” to the keyboard-laced TonyMartin-era-Sabbathism-meets-tambourine of “Suffer Fool” later on, and with the opening salvo of the title-track and “Alien Lust” right behind it, The Watchers set a quick expectation for hooks and a high standard of delivery that, thankfully, they show no hesitation in living up to for the duration, the chug-and-roll finale “Seven Tenets” satisfies in mood and efficiency, departing into airy guitar meditation and making its way back for a suitably rocking sendoff. Dudes know what they’re doing, where they’re headed and how they want to get there. All the listener needs to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Grajo, Slowgod II

grajo slowgod ii

A sequel to their 2015 full-length, Slowgod II (on Underground Legends Records, Spinda Records and DHU Records), sees Córdoba-based four-piece Grajo dug into a deep-toned psychedelic doom. There are flashes of Eastern influence on “Malmuerta,” with frontwoman Liz crooning over the minor-key guitar noodling of Josef, the forward motion in Félix’s drums and the heft of Pistolo’s bass. That dynamic works across Slowgod II, from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Altares” through its closing eight-minute counterpart “Malstrom,” which moves from early crunch through spacious volume swells in its middle only to regain composure and offer a heavy post-rock payoff that, somehow, still isn’t that atmospherically removed from the swinging “Horror and Pleasure” right before it or the similarly speedier “Queen Cobra” that follows “Altares” at the outset. Definitely one for the converted, Grajo deliver tones thick enough to stand on and engaging melodicism without falling into any real traps of sonic redundancy, varying their pace effectively and conjuring consuming plod on “ER” while still holding to that notion of breadth that seems to unite all their material here.

Grajo on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Mythic Sunship, Upheaval

mythic sunship upheaval

It just so happens this is exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. After releasing their Land Between Rivers (review here) LP through El Paraiso Records last year, the Copenhagen four-piece of Emil Thorenfeldt, Frederik Denning, Kasper Andersen and Rasmus “Cleaver” Christensen, collectively known as Mythic Sunship, return with four more slabs of exploratory bliss on Upheaval. Either completely or partially improvised, “Tectonic Beach” (12:42), “Aether Flux” (10:55), “Cosmic Rupture” (6:44) and “Into Oblivion” (13:56) flow together like the work of masters, and with shades of patient space rock at their core, the tracks are infused with life even beyond the spontaneity of their creation. Heavy jams. Heavy, spacy jams. Molten. Swirling. Badass. Even the shorter and more forward “Cosmic Rupture” is headed out of the atmosphere, and when they come around to the noisy payoff deep in “Into Oblivion,” it’s abundantly clear they’re not joking around when it comes to the title. You can get onboard with Mythic Sunship, or you can miss out. Bands like this separate the hip from the squares.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records webstore

 

Empress, Reminiscence

Empress reminiscence

Those who miss the days when Mastodon or Baroness howled their shouts into a landscape of crunching tonal largesse might do well to dig into what Vancouver, British Columbia’s Empress have to offer on their late-2017 debut EP, Reminiscence. The 27-minute five-tracker isn’t without its sense of melody – there’s plenty of room in eight-minute second cut “Immer” – but guitarist/vocalist Peter Sacco, bassist Brenden Gunn and drummer Chris Doyle make their primary impression via the impact of their material, and as they swap back and forth between shorter tracks and longer ones, a sense of structural playfulness results that moves through the bass openings of “Baptizer” (2:50) and “They Speak Like Trees” (9:27) into the ambient guitar finisher “Dawn,” and the feeling is that, like their stylistic forebears in at the time what was thought of as a new take on sludge metal, Empress will only grow more progressive as they move forward from this first outing. One hopes they hold firm to the tectonic weight they present here that so many others seem to have given up along the way.

Empress on Thee Facebooks

Empress on Bandcamp

 

Monads, IVIIV

monads iviiv

Released some six years after Monads’ 2011 debut, Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem, the Aesthetic Death Records-issued IVIIV was, according to the Belgian five-piece’s own accounting, in the works for most of that time in one way or another. One might say, therefore, that its creation does justice to the glacial pace of some of its slowest moments, the crawling death-doom extremity of pieces like “To a Bloodstained Shore,” or the lurch before the gallop takes hold in “Your Wounds Were My Temple.” At four songs and 50 minutes, IVIIV is indicative enough of the style, but Monads legitimately showcase a persona of their own in and out of those genre confines, the melancholic atmosphere and expanded arrangement elements (piano, etc.) of 15-minute closer “The Despair of an Aeon” creatively used if familiar, and the smoothness of the transitions in opener “Leviathan as My Lament” setting a tone of scope as well as downward emotional trajectory. Not sure I’d count on a quick turnaround for a follow-up, but if half a decade from now a new Monads record surfaces, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for.

Monads on Thee Facebooks

Aestehetic Death Records website

 

Nest, Metempsychosis

nest metempsychosis

Rolling from its untitled intro through its untitled outro through a barrage of charred-black, bludgeoning sludge extremity, the debut album from Lexington, Kentucky’s Nest, Metempsychosis (on Sludgelord Records), refers in its title to a transmigration of the soul, an inheritance almost as much as reincarnation. The band may be talking about themselves or they may be working on a theme throughout the record’s seven proper tracks, I don’t know, but if the idea is destruction and rebirth, they certainly sound more interested in the former. Songs like “Heretic” seethe and scour, while the lumbering and spacious closer “Life’s Grief,” capping with abrasive noise, would seem to be a mission statement in itself. Individual pieces like “Jewel of Iniquity” and the preceding atmosphere-into-mega-crush “Diving into the Entrails of Sheep” – of course the centerpiece of the tracklisting – are shorter unto themselves, but like everything else that surrounds, they feed into an overarching ambience of disgust and chaos.

Nest on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Redneck Spaceship, Grand Marshal Ape

redneck spaceship grand marshall ape

There are some issues as regards the balance of the mix pushing the vocals forward ahead of the guitar to work out, but Moscow’s Redneck Spaceship impress all the same with the intent and execution of their late-2017 self-released debut, Grand Marshal Ape. In riffs and songcraft, their influences stem from the classic days of stoner rock, but from opener “The Sands of Dakar” and the later “That Sounds Nuts,” one gets a vibe of underlying punk influence, while the twang in harmonized highlight “On the Roadside” and slide guitar of “Maverick” lends a Southern, bluesy swing that the penultimate “Enchained” answers back later ahead of the sample-laden psychedelic jam-out closer, “Antariksh,” which strikes as a far cry from the ultra-straightforward presentation earlier on “Empty Pockets,” but speaks to an immediate scope in Redneck Spaceship’s sound. One hopes they continue to meld elements as they progress beyond Grand Marshal Ape and bridge the gap between one side of their moniker and the other.

Redneck Spaceship on Thee Facebooks

Redneck Spaceship on Bandcamp

 

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Green Lung Sign to Kozmik Artifactz

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

About a month and a half after releasing their debut EP, Free the Witch (review here), and still within a year of their initial single, Green Man Rising (review here), London four-piece Green Lung have signed on to release their first long-player through respected vinyl-minded purveyor Kozmik Artifactz. The condensed timeline one might attribute to the particular sonic niche the band seemed to immediately find and then quickly demonstrate a capacity to progress with. One does not expect the momentum to slow for the UK outfit, which boasts ex-members of Oak and Tomb King in the lineup of vocalist Tom Templar, guitarist Scott Masson, bassist Andrew Cave and drummer Matt Wiseman, as they make their way toward the album, which at the rate they’re going should be pressed and shipped any minute now.

Cheers to the band and to the label on the snag. Here’s the announcement off the PR wire:

green lung

Kozmik Artifactz Announce New Signing – Green Lung

Green Lung combine crushing heaviness with soaring hooks, summoning up the proto-metal spectres of Black Sabbath and Pentagram, the psychedelic heft of heavy prog and the anthemic gloom of Danzig and Type O Negative; all the while dragging those influences into the 21st Century and sculpting them into a sound that is entirely their own.

“The last twelve months have been a blur for us; forming last March, putting out a demo, playing up and down the country, and finally getting an incredible reception for our EP Free the Witch. Signing with Kozmik Artifactz is the perfect way to cap off our first year as a band – we’re excited to collaborate with a label that cares about vinyl as deeply as we do, and join a family of bands we love. We can’t wait to get to work on making our debut LP better than anything we’ve done before, and welcome more initiates to the cult of the Lung. Doom over the world!”

Hailing from South London and made up of vocalist Tom Templar, guitarist Scott Masson, bassist Andrew Cave and drummer Matt Wiseman, the band released their debut EP, Free the Witch, in February 2018.

Green Lung is:
Tom Templar – Vocals
Scott Masson – Guitar
Andrew Cave – Bass
Matt Wiseman – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/greenlungband
https://www.instagram.com/greenlungband/
http://www.greenlung.co.uk/
https://greenlung.bandcamp.com/
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kozmikartifactz

Green Lung, Free the Witch (2018)

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Quarterly Review: The Atlas Moth, Across Tundras, The Wizards of Delight, Against the Grain, Our Solar System, Dommengang, Boss Keloid, Holy Smoke, Sabel, Blackwater Prophet

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is a crucial moment in any Quarterly Review. Today we hit the halfway point one way or the other. I still haven’t decided if this will be a 50- or 60-album edition; kind of playing it by ear, but either way, today’s a landmark in my mind in terms of how far to go vs. how far we’ve come. Uphill vs. downhill to some extent, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m either half-assing it from here on out or that I don’t enjoy the challenge of reviewing 10 records in a day, one after the next, for (at least) five days in a row. I’ve always been a glutton for a bit of self-flagellation. Ha.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Atlas Moth, Coma Noir

the atlas moth coma noir

If one still wants to consider Chicago’s The Atlas Moth post-metal after hearing Coma Noir, at least do them the courtesy of emphasizing the “metal” part of that equation. For their debut on Prosthetic Records and fourth full-length overall, the five-piece worked with producer Sanford Parker to solidify a progressive metal sound that, whether in the harsh and weighted impact of the opening title-track or the later interplay between guitarists Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush on screams and cleaner vocals in “Furious Gold,” seems to take cues from groups like a less manic Strapping Young Lad and a less watered-down Mastodon more than Isis or Neurosis. With prominent synth from Andrew Ragin (also guitar), and the solid roll from the rhythm section of bassist Alex Klein and drummer Mike Miczek, the band brings revitalized edge to “The Streets of Bombay,” and even on the slower, more atmospheric closer “Chloroform,” they’ve never sounded more lethal. It suits them.

The Atlas Moth on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Across Tundras, Tumbleweeds III

across tundras tumbleweeds iii

A collection of odds and ends from Across Tundras, the 10-track/52-minute Tumbleweeds III may or may not sate anyone hoping for a follow-up to 2013’s Electric Relics (review here), but it provides some curio fodder along the way to be sure, from raw opener “Final Breath over Venom Falls” to the acoustic-percussion jam “Bullet in the Butt” to the fuller roll of “Cold Ride” and later demos for “Spinning Through the Cosmic Dust,” “Hijo del Desierto,” “Stone Crazy Horse” and “The Stacked Plain,” which later became “Seasick Serenade” on Electric Relics, it’s at very least something for fans to dig into and a fascinating listen, as Across Tundras’ rambling sound is almost eerily suited to a home-recording vibe, as the “Stone Crazy Horse” demo, featuring vocalist Shannon Allie-Murphy along with frontman Tanner Olson, sounds all the more folksome as a result of its lack of production polish. Closing with Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” then, could hardly be more appropriate. Still waiting for a proper long-player to surface, but happy at this point to take what comes.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

Like a chicanery-laced dusty vinyl with a naked lady on the cover, The Wizards of Delight emerge from the London underground to solidly declare “We’ve got the rock ‘n’ rollz.” And yes, they spell it with a ‘z.’ The presence of frontman Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen will be familiar to anyone who ever even briefly encountered Groan – dude makes an impression, to be sure – and the four tracks he and the surrounding five-piece of guitarists/backing vocalists Dan Green’s Myth and Lenny Ray, bassist/backing vocalist Eponymous, organist/backing vocalist Henry and drummer Reece bring is both funky and classically heavy, “Gypsy” referencing Dio Sabbath in the first line while “Mountain Woman” brings a heavy ‘70s shuffle to answer the way-un-P.C. “Shogun Messiah,” which seems to be working under the thesis that because it sounds like it’s from 40 years ago, they can get away with it. I’ll give them that the track is, to an unfortunate degree, catchy. As to the rest, give me the groove of “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” any day. It’s been a while since anyone so brazenly interpreted Mk. II Deep Purple and actually pulled it off.

The Wizards of Delight on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Against the Grain, Cheated Death

against the grain cheated death

Hard-touring Detroit heavy rockers Against the Grain are known for speed, and rightly so. When they burst into high gear, as on “Sacrifice,” “No Sleep,” “Last Chance,” “Rolling Stone,” “Enough’s Not Enough,” and “Jaded and Faded” from their latest offering and Ripple Music debut, Cheated Death. The follow-up to 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) sees them no less infectious in their live energy, but it’s hard to ignore the more versatile approach that seems to be growing in their sound, from the classic rocking “Smoke” to the near-centerpiece “Devils and Angels” which ballads-out its boozy regrets before entering into an effective mid-paced build that rounds out in choice dual-soloing. Likewise, though they open at a good clip with the title-track, closer “Into the Light” finds a middle ground between thrust and groove. The truth is Against the Grain have never been just about speed, but they’ve never so directly benefited from a dynamic approach as they do on Cheated Death either.

Against the Grain on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Our Solar System, Origins

our solar system origins

Immediate kudos to Stockholm-based psychedelic progressive explorers Our Solar System – aka Vårt Solsystem – for opening their third full-length for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the five-track/41-minute Origins, with the side-consuming 21-minute “Vulkanen.” One could hardly ask for more effective immersion in the band’s world of patiently unfurled, languid psychedelia, and with the accompaniment of “Babalon Rising,” the jazz-prog tracklist centerpiece “En Bit Av Det Tredje Klotet,” the birdsong-laced “Naturligt Samspel” and the semi-freaked-out melodic wash of “Monte Verita” on side B, a full, rich, and mind-expanding cosmos is engaged, free of restriction even as it remains thoroughly lysergic, and adherent to no structural will so much as the will to adventure into the unknown, to find out where one progression leads. As regards the long- and short-form material on Origins, it leads far, far out, and if you don’t come out the other side wanting to own everything the band has ever released, you’re decidedly in the wrong.

Our Solar System on Thee Facebooks

Beyond Beyond is Beyond website

 

Dommengang, Love Jail

dommengang love jail

Once calling Brooklyn Home, Los Angeles trio Dommengang waste no time in getting down to the business of boogie on their second album for Thrill Jockey, Love Jail. Produced by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), the 10-track/50-minute long-player has all the room for organ/guitar mashups, righteous West Coast vibes and easy-flowing classic heavy rock one could hope for, and in the opening salvo of “Pastel City,” “Lovely Place” and “Lone Pine,” the three-piece of guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem reaffirm mellow bluesiness as well on the title-track and dig into ‘90s-style alt bliss on the penultimate “Color out of Space.” There’s a welcoming air throughout that holds steady regardless of tempo, and in heavier moments like the second half of “I’m out Mine,” the band resonates with fuzz and noisy elements that bring just enough danger to the proceedings to keep the listener riveted. Classy, but not too classy, in other words.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch

boss keloid melted on the inch

It would seem that Wigan, UK, outfit Boss Keloid — newly signed to Holy Roar Records for the release of their third LP, Melted on the Inch – internalized a few crucial lessons from their sophomore outing, 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (review here). At six tracks and 40 minutes, Melted on the Inch is about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor. Its title isn’t a weed pun. Its cover art conveys a work of dimensionality, and most importantly, the album itself turns to be precisely that. Taking a significant step toward a more progressive sound, Boss Keloid maintain the heft of their prior outing but base it around material that, frankly, is more complex and dynamic. I won’t say that “Tarku Shavel” and “Lokannok” are without their elements of self-indulgence, but neither should they be for the five-piece to do justice to the multifaceted nature of their purpose. They still roar when they want to, but Boss Keloid strike with breadth on Melted on the Inch as well as sheer impact.

Boss Keloid on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records website

 

Holy Smoke, Pipe Dream

holy smoke pipe dream

After forming in 2015, Philadelphia’s exclamatory Holy Smoke! issued their first three-track release, It’s a Demo! (review here) the next year and showed marked stylistic promise in cuts like “Rinse and Repeat” and “Blue Dreams.” Both of those tracks, as it happens, stand at the opening of the band’s latest EP, the five-song Pipe Dream, and reaffirm the potential in the group. The opener (also the longest track once again; immediate points) is a tale of workaday redundancy, the very sort of monotony that the rest of the offering seems to leave behind in favor of post-grunge heavy rock, marked by the wah-bass on finale “Asch Backwards” and the brooding sensibility of the prior “Golden Retriever,” which surges in its midsection like a lost Alice in Chains demo only to end quiet once again, a departure from the linearity of centerpiece “Missing the Mark” just before. Less psychedelic than their initial impression conveyed, they seem to have undertaken the work of crafting their own sonic niche in Philly’s increasingly crowded scene, and there’s nothing on Pipe Dream to make one think it’s not a realistic possibility they’ll get there.

Holy Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Holy Smoke on Bandcamp

 

Sabel, Re-Generation

sabel re-generation

Sabel know what they want to be and then are that thing. Their third album, Re-Generation, arrives via Oak Island Records as six tracks of to-the-converted stonerism, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “In the Walls of Eryx,” the Swedish trio do little more than ask their listeners to smell the smoke emanating from their speaker cabinets (oddly sweet), and hone walls of fuzz that each seem to be bigger than the last. There are some elements of earliest Electric Wizard at play in “Atlantean” or the sneering “Voodoo Woman,” but belters like “Interstellar Minddweller” and “Green Priestess” stave off their sounding overly derivative, and though at the end of Re-Generation’s 42-minute run, one might feel as though they need a shower, the record itself proves well worth the dive into the muck. The band would seem to have carved their own descriptor with the title of their self-released 2015 LP, Hard Doom, and that’s as good as anything I could come up with, so let’s roll with it. They seem to.

Sabel on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Blackwater Prophet, As I Watch it Freeze

blackwater prophet as i watch it freeze

Cheers to Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment for putting me onto Spokane, Washington’s Blackwater Prophet, who with the seven-track As I Watch it Freeze collect various tracks recorded between 2015 and 2017. Thus something of a compilation, the 40-minute outing wants nothing for overarching flow, “In My Passing Time” leading off with a mellow psych-blues spirit that only grows more classic-feeling through “House of Stone” and the gorgeously pastoral “The Swamp.” The band have two proper full-lengths out, and if they wanted to count As I Watch it Freeze as their third, I don’t think they’d find much argument, as centerpiece “Gold in the Palm” opens like a gateway leading to the increasingly resonant “Careworn Crow,” the fuzzy swing of “Eating the Sun” and finally, the title-track itself, which answers the acoustics of “The Swamp” earlier while adding flourish of volume-swelling and swirling electric guitar and late choral vocals that only make the proceedings seem all the more complete in their engagement.

Blackwater Prophet on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Prophet on Bandcamp

 

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Stoned Jesus, Mothership & Elephant Tree Announce September Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Holy rat farts that’s a good tour. You’ve got Stoned Jesus, fresh off a year celebrating their 2012 sophomore album Seven Thunders Roar and itching to promote their new album, teaming up with Texas’ Mothership, who by then should be road-testing new material for their next record, and Elephant Tree, who’ll have a new album in the hopper if not already out by the time the tour starts. Three absolutely killer bands, all fired up and ready to bring their best to the assembled masses. It’s an easy one to get excited about, you know, if you like things that are awesome.

The run is presented by Sound of Liberation, who in addition to umpteen festivals throughout the Spring and Fall seasons, specialize in precisely this kind of righteousness. Still, I didn’t see this one coming.

It was announced thusly:

stoned jesus mothership elephant tree tour

We are thrilled to unveil today the dates for an incredible 3-band package taking over European clubs in September!

Featuring the Ukrainian much-loved trio Stoned Jesus (working on a new album to be released by Napalm Records in September), along with Texas live-beasts Mothership (who will promote their last-year highly-acclaimed album “High Strangeness”) and Uk-based doom-explorers Elephant Tree (also sharping up some new tunes for an upcoming album), we believe this bill has the potential to rock your nights!

This will happen from September 13th to 29th in the best European dens. Get in touch with your local rock dealer to get your ticket quick!

13.09.18 | DE | Wiesbaden | Schlachthof
14.09.18 | DE | Stuttgart | JH Hallschlag
15.09.18 | CH | Pratteln | Z7 (Up In Smoke Warm-Up)
16.09.18 | CH | TBA
17.09.18 | DE | Munich | Feierwerk
18.09.18 | AT | Graz | PPC
19.09.18 | AT | Vienna | Arena
20.09.18 | DE | Leipzig | Werk 2
21.09.18 | DE | Berlin | Bi Nuu
22.09.18 | NL | Nijmegen | Doornroosje
23.09.18 | NL | Amsterdam | Melkweg
24.09.18 | DE | Cologne | Helios 37
25.09.18 | DE | Bielefeld | Forum
26.09.18 | DE | Brussels | Magasin 4
27.09.18 | FR | Paris | Petit Bain
28.09.18 | UK | London | The Garage
29.09.18 | UK | Sheffield | Doom vs Stoner Fest*
(* Stoned Jesus & Elephant Tree only)

www.soundofliberation.com
https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/
https://twitter.com/sol_ug

Stoned Jesus, “I’m the Mountain” live in 2017

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Robespierre Premiere Track from Debut Album Garden of Hell

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

robespierre

One doubts that when it comes right down to it, the two members of Robespierre are evil, or monsters, or even men of violence, as they assert repeatedly in “Men of Violence.” More likely they’re just normal guys: jobs, families, etc., but if their debut album, Garden of Hell — issued via the respectable tastes of Shadow Kingdom Records — is any indicator, they at least know how to wield a hook. The narrative (blessings and peace upon it) holds that guitarist/vocalist David Cooke and drummer Gordon Logan circulated a demo tape circa 1983, private press-style. Went to friends of the band and probably a couple lucky few who went out to shows in the band’s native Liverpool. There was a second demo as well that had even less distribution, and after they showed up and gained some traction online, the two were compiled together on 2011’s Die, You Heathen, Die! with the first four-track demo on side A and the second, from about a year later, on side B. Thus it was that nearly 30 years after their original circulation, Robespierre‘s work finally saw official release. They may or may not be evil, but they’re certainly patient one way or the other.

After this, there was only one thing to do: make a proper album. Thus, some seven years later and some 35 after the band’s original founding in 1983, they offer their first full-length. Garden of Evil tries to make up for lost time with a robespierre garden of hell10-track/48-minute run that, furled by cuts like the opening salvo of the driving “Punish Oppressors,” “Mare of Steel,” and the more decidedly doomed “Dwelling in the Shadows,” with a creeper riff and chorus worthy of the classic metal grit with which it’s presented. Of course, those more familiar with the totality of the NWOBHM know that it wasn’t all major label sheen and motorcycles on stage, and Robespierre‘s raw tones and rawer production remind of classic metal born of a decades-thriving underground producing cuts like “Feel the Fire” driven by little more than the passion for creation, the desire to pay homage to one’s heroes — bit of Sabbath crunch to the opening riff of “The Black Mirror” — and the expression is disaffection, melancholy, whatever it might be. Taking their moniker from an influential figure in the French Revolution, Robespierre aren’t without a social edge, as both “Punish Oppressors” and “Men of Violence” showcase at the outset of each side, but at its core Garden of Hell is metal for the orthodox among the converted, be that those who were there the first time around during the NWOBHM or those who simply wish they could’ve been.

As to just how Robespierre managed to pull off such a classic sound, I wish I knew. There are plenty of heavy rock and metal bands out there who use “vintage” gear and recording methods at affect that kind of cultish ambience, but as the band make their way through “Dagon Rises” and the start-stop stomping “Fear,” toward the closing duo of “Welcome to the Cult” and “I am a Flower (In the Garden of Hell),” which arguably are the album’s two most immersive tracks, they do so not with overblown hyperposturing of sound, but with naturalist, dirt-under-the-fingernails metallurgy. It’s not that they sound as though no time has passed, just that they make that passage of time irrelevant through their structures, presentation and performance. As “I am a Flower (In the Garden of Hell)” dooms its way to its ending with a classy final solo giving way to a few strumming acoustic chords, the sense of Robespierre as a classic metal band is less about the superficialities of their sound and more about the clear measure of heart put into ever single one of these tracks. I don’t know if Robespierre will do another record, or if they do, how they might attempt to modernize (or not modernize) their sound, but the level of catharsis in finally putting out a full-length after 35 years must be staggering, and they’ve done justice to that span in their songwriting and atmosphere.

Robespierre‘s Garden of Hell is out now on Shadow Kingdom, but this is the first time this song has been streamed. You’ll find it on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

SHADOW KINGDOM RECORDS is proud to present the LONG-awaited debut album of ROBESPIERRE, Garden of Hell. A cult name among NWOBHM diehards, ROBESPIERRE were actually active during the original NWOBHM movement, recording two demos in 1983 that remained unreleased or circulated only among close contacts. Those two demos were released in 2011 as the Die You Heathen, Die! compilation, introducing the Liverpool band to a whole new generation lusting for vintage heavy metal sounds. However, ROBESPIERRE never recorded a proper debut album – until now! Indeed sounding like nearly four decades haven’t passed, Garden of Hell brims with that musky ‘n’ musty scent of classic NWOBHM: traditional and totally METAL songwriting, with hooks piled high and no small amount of grit.

And like a few of their original NWOBHM contemporaries, ROBESPIERRE are keen on dipping into doom – like, really DOOMED-OUT doom that plods like tombstones slowly falling over and enveloping the listener in an ancient haze. Similarly, the band’s forward momentum is brisk but never too aggressive, in exchange exuding a rare sense of class and allowing the subtle textures of their endless hooks to sparkle in the night. Above all, Garden of Hell is aptly titled: for all the raucous rockin’ going on, there’s an ever-present atmosphere of supernatural horror dusting nearly every note. A ROBESPIERRE album has been a long time coming, but no better time than now than to step into the Garden of Hell!

Robespierre on Thee Facebooks

Robespierre at Shadow Kingdom Records Bandcamp

Shadow Kingdom Records on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

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