Ethereal Riffian Post “Unconquerable” Lyric Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ethereal riffian

Back in May, Ukrainian heavy rockers Ethereal Riffian premiered the first single of their upcoming album, Legends, which was the title-track, here. With it, the Kiev-based four-piece showed a marked shift in aesthetic, adjusting the balance between the “ethereal” and the “riffian” portions of their sound to affect a much more straightforward attack than one had come to expect from their meditative, slowly unfolding contemplations prior. “Unconquerable,” which is the third single from Legends, with “Kosmic” having come out in June, follows suit in its relatively direct approach, and its chorus lyric, “No one can put the limit on fearless spirit,” summarizes the general perspective from which it’s working. The band have never been shy about stating their intentions and motivations, and clearly this time around the aim is to capture that indomitable thing in humanity that compels us to move forward, to explore and reach new places and new ideas. It is an optimistic vision of both the future and the present, perhaps written from a place of encouragement, like an existential pep talk to a world that — and I don’t think this is overstating it — only continues to feel more thoroughly fucked by the day.

I’ll forego talking about politics or culture on any grander scale — both because I find it personally exhausting and because if I had any insight into any of it, I’d probably be running for office instead of writing about Ukrainian rock videos — but yeah, it’s pretty clear that along with Ethereal Riffian‘s more grounded sound on Legends, they’re also engaging real-world issues in a straightforward manner. More power to them — as well as to the people. It can be hard when living in a moment to place it in a historical context. That is to say, everything now feels urgent because we don’t know yet to what it will lead. We see this in America with a systematic dismantling of democratic norms, and certainly the Ukraine has more than its share of conflict at present as well. That Ethereal Riffian see the line of human progression as being that — one of progress — is encouraging in itself, but as the uptempo kick of “Unconquerable” demonstrates, it’s as much a motivation for the future as well as a reflection on the past. Their aim is to tap into that very spirit and manifest it as an answer to this pivotal-seeming and undeniably troubled age.

One thing and then I’ll let you get to the video: It’s a common misconception — bred in no small part by the purposeful narrative — that Rosa Parks was just an old, tired lady on a bus who refused to move for a white man. She may indeed have been that, but she was also a civil rights activist for more than a decade at that point, and way more of a freedom fighter than the bystander history sometimes casts her as being. She was, then, even braver than she’s often credited for being. Just a thought in response to the quote below from the band.

Enjoy the video:

Ethereal Riffian, “Unconquerable” lyric video

Please welcome the third single from ‘Legends’ album.

Official lyric video for ‘Unconquerable’ from ‘Legends’ album.
Video by Anastasia Homenko.

“Behind every legend, there’s a legendary act. Behind every legendary act, there’s an unconquerable spirit. Spirit devoid of any fear, doubt and indecisiveness. It’s an invisible force that made Terry Fox run 5,373 kilometers with one leg to raise awareness of cancer. It’s what inspired tender woman Rosa Parks to stand up for the rights of black people in one of the most racist states of America. It’s the inner strength that made a man in a loincloth named Gandhi to unite the Indian nation despite incredible opposition. It’s the spirit that our times need most. The spirit that awaits to be awakened in each of us.”

Thanks to: Beachfront, Magges, Tony, NASA, Motion Digital, Taylor Mefford, Simon Maldoct, Motion Places, Mark Schellenberg, Stockfootage, William Ehrendreich, Creative Film, Val Kornev Photography

Ethereal Riffian is:
Val Kornev (aka Stonezilla) – guitar/vocal/lyrics
Alexander Kornev (aka SAF) – bass
Max Yuhimenko (aka Southman) – lead guitar
Nikita Shipovskoi (aka Ship) – drums

Ethereal Riffian on Bandcamp

Ethereal Riffian on Thee Facebooks

Ethereal Riffian on Instagram

Robustfellow Productions on Thee Facebooks

Robustfellow Productions on Instagram

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

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Ethereal Riffian Set Sept. 6 Release for Legends; Cover & Tracklisting Revealed

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ethereal riffian

Just over a month ago, Ukrainian four-piece Ethereal Riffian saw fit to premiere the video here for the title-track of their forthcoming long-player, Legends. Details about the album at that point were pretty sparse, but now we’ve at least got cover, tracklisting and a proper release date to go on, as well as some information on the pressings. As ever, the Kiev-based meditative outfit have a host of differences between formats planned, including different masters and designs, as well as a box set edition to come from Robustfellow Productions. It is the band’s third album and first in half a decade — though they’ve hardly been idle in that time — and the release date is Sept. 6.

If you missed the video the first time around, it’s here at the bottom, and if you’re familiar with the band’s back catalog, I’m sure you’ll find it surprising in its straightforward attack. I’m still curious as to how that will play into the rest of the record, but at least now I know when we’ll find out.

From the PR wire:

ethereal riffian legends

Ethereal Riffian announce release details for “Legends”

Ethereal Riffian’s third full-length will be released via Robustfellow Prods. on the 6th of September 2019. Entitled “Legends”, the album will be available on CD/LP/MC and Digital format. Each album version will feature a different audio master and exclusive design. There will be a limited edition box prepared by the label and the band will allow you to dive deep into this massive legendary release.

‘Legends’ tracklist:

Sage’s Alchemy
Born Again
Dreamgazer
Legends
Kosmic
Unconquerable
Moonflower
Pain to Wisdom
Yeti’s Hide
Ethereal Path

The latest LP released by Ethereal Riffian, “Aeonian”, was released in January 2014, which makes of ‘Legends’ the band’s first full-length in more than five years. First single and music video from ‘Legends’ was released on the 14th of May. Artwork by Yura ‘xninja’ Nagorniy.

Ethereal Riffian is:
Val Kornev (aka Stonezilla) – guitar/vocal/lyrics
Alexander Kornev (aka SAF) – bass
Max Yuhimenko (aka Southman) – lead guitar
Nikita Shipovskoi (aka Ship) – drums

https://etherealriffian.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/etherealriffian/
https://www.instagram.com/etherealriffian/
https://twitter.com/EtherealRiffian
https://vk.com/etherealriffian
https://www.facebook.com/RobustfellowProds
https://robustfellow.bandcamp.com/

Ethereal Riffian, “Legends” official video

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Soom Post “Wheelchair” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

soom

Ukrainian aggro atmospheric noise specialists Soom have a new video for from their 2018 album, Djebars, which was a record that bridged gutter-sludge disaffection with an inhumane amount of bombast, landing somewhere between ’90s dark artrock and dirtier, more tonally weighted fare. Atmospherically, “Wheelchair” offers nine-plus minutes of fuckall assault, the coating of filth prevalent in a sense of overarching nastiness. No part of it is aiming toward accessibility, but there is an expressive purpose behind what the band are doing, and their spaciousness both on “Wheelchair” and Djebars as a whole comes coupled with a pervasive claustrophobia. It’s a big world and you are trapped inside yourself.

If the notion freaks you out, you’re probably in a proper headspace for digging into the track, though I’ll say that if you’re sensitive to flashing lights or quick cuts or anything like that, you might be better off hitting up one of the several Bandcamps available as Soom worked with multiple labels on the release of Djebars, among them Robustfellow Productions and Voron Nest. The story is somewhat opaque, but seems to revolve itself around a central character coming to grips with the fact that he’s stuck in time or something thereabouts. Rest assured, the actual video is way more horrifying than that description makes it sound, a cerebral and periodically demonic exercise and psychological fuckery.

But hey, maybe that’s your thing. If it is, go ahead and dig into “Wheelchair” below.

And enjoy:

Soom, “Wheelchair” official video

Slow machine of hate to soberness and impatience to objective reality from the city of Kharkiv (Ukraine), Soom proudly presents their own music video full of fear and loathing mixed with the love to their native city. Made by Anastasia Khomenko, the video tells the story about Djebars, who stuck forever in the moment when clock is working but has stopped on a 19:36 mark. Strong track about wasted spirit for the strong ears commented by the Soom’s frontman Oleksa Kovalov-Blidyi:

“Described story ?s based on a Pale aesthetics. It is neither light, nor dark, just immersed in its own Universe, the road to which lies through the searching of drug hiding place, using the “wheelchair” — bad quality synthetic drugs. For one it’s self-destruction, for another — salvation. It just exists and there is must be no attitude, like to anything in Universe, because everybody has its own way to All & Nothing. We see it like an ugly version of beautiful, let everyone of you see the same”.

Line-up:
Kova — guitar, vocals
Tomrer — bass
Amorth — drums

Soom on Bandcamp

Addicted Label Bandcamp

Robustfellow Productions Bandcamp

Voron Nest Bandcamp

Kvlt of I on Thee Facebooks

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Ethereal Riffian Premiere Video for Title-Track of New Album Legends

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ethereal riffian video thumbnail

One of the aspects of Ethereal Riffian‘s approach that I find easiest to appreciate is how much conscious thought there is put into their work. The Ukrainian four-piece are prone to making mini-documentaries (see here and here) explaining their motivations and the concepts with which they’re working, and it’s a clarity of intent that in my mind at least makes them all the more of a progressive outfit. They will release their third album, Legends, later this year through respected purveyor Robustfellow Productions, and they give an enticing first glimpse of things to come in their new video for the title-track.

By the time Legends arrives, it will have been five years since Ethereal Riffian‘s last studio full-length, 2014’s Aeonian, though they’ve certainly had plenty out in between with two live albums, an EP and the various behind-the-scenes looks at what they do. Still, a new album is an exciting prospect, and they show off a striking turn with “Legends,” leaving behind the ritualism that pervaded the four longform tracks of Aeonian in favor of a more direct, grunge-influenced style. Their sense of melody still holds sway, but “Legends” works in a context of hooks that’s new for Ethereal Riffian and in just four minutes, it makes a striking statement of where the band are at in terms of their sound. More riffian than ethereal, if you will. The image in the video of hammering out metalwork does not seem accidental.

I don’t know how much “Legends” ultimately will speak for the album that shares its name — I think we’ve got a while to go before we get there — but I’ll hope to have more as the release date comes closer. Until then, try to keep in mind as you make your way through the quick four minutes of “Legends” that nothing Ethereal Riffian do happens by mistake, and that this turn in sound is part of the overarching consideration they bring to their material all the time. They discuss it a bit below, but I wouldn’t be surprised either if they dive deeper into the concepts as the year plays out.

Enjoy:

Ethereal Riffian, “Legends” official video premiere

Official music video for “Legends” (taken from “Legends” LP, to be released by Robustfellow Prods. in the second half of 2019).

Mysterious spiritualized rockers from Ukraine, Ethereal Riffian, are presenting the first single and music video from their forthcoming third LP. Directed by iconic Ukrainian director, Viktor Priduvalov, the new music video for the track ‘Legends’ showcases a drastic contrast with the band’s previous works. Frontman, Val Kornev, explains the shift in the band’s songwriting and overall direction:

“With current crises in worldwide leadership, ecology, education and, most and foremost, consciousness, we just can’t wait any longer to finally start doing things right. Enough of this bullshit! Our turbulent times require courageous decisions and robust music. Music that can get you going even if you’re descending straight into the depths of hell and know that this day can be your last. This is what this track is about. It’s about legends and you can become one too.”

Ethereal Riffian’s third full-length album, eponymous to the single, is set to be released in the second half of 2019 via Robustfellow Prods.

Produced by: Re:evolution Film
Director: Viktor Priduvalov
Director of photography: Eugene Kredentser
Assistant Cameraman: Ilya Pravdiviy
Producer: Viktor Sema
Light: Max Ruban
Post-production: Mental dRive Studio
Track was recorded, mixed and mastered at Bobina Records

Ethereal Riffian is:
Val Kornev (aka Stonezilla) – guitar/vocal/lyrics
Alexander Kornev (aka SAF) – bass
Max Yuhimenko (aka Southman) – lead guitar
Nikita Shipovskoi (aka Ship) – drums

Ethereal Riffian on Bandcamp

Ethereal Riffian on Thee Facebooks

Ethereal Riffian on Instagram

Robustfellow Productions on Thee Facebooks

Robustfellow Productions on Instagram

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

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Doomed City Release New Album Poetry of Simple Things

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

doomed city

Doomed City‘s first full-length under the new moniker — they used to be called 5R6 — seems to have been a while in the making. The Ukranian heavy rock four-piece released the single “Summer Break” last August and have newly followed up with the rest of the long-player, so I don’t know if the rest of the album wasn’t done or whatever, but Poetry of Simple Things, as it’s called, taps into hard and heavy rock and roll and has just an edge of metal to its proceedings. Perhaps it’s also telling that the record opens with “Your Opinion” and ultimately requests that you keep it to yourself. Can do, dudes.

I haven’t seen word of a physical release as yet, but it’s out now digitally, and you can stream it as well at the bottom of this post courtesy of Doomed City‘s Bandcamp, which also turned up the following info:

doomed city poetry of simple things

Doomed City – Poetry of Simple Things

Poetry Of Simple Things is a new album of Doomed City, the Ukrainian band formerly known as 5R6. The album was recorded in 2018 but it saw the light of day in 2019, 7 months after the band received the final master.

5R6 released several records, played a lot of concerts in Ukraine, toured Europe twice, but they played their last concert under that name in January 2018 closing the 5R6 chapter.

The name change was motivated by the changes in the band’s music. On “Poetry of Simple Things” you would rather hear distant echoes of Fugazi or Jawbox rather than influences of King Crimson or Tool as you probably would on previous albums. One of the things that stayed the same is that it is as always hard to classify the band’s music. The closest to doing so would be to say that it is alternative rock in a broad understanding as seen through the prism of each band member’s musical vision.

The diversity of Doomed City’s sound comes from the differences between personalities and vision of each band member and yet still there are more common points that it might appear at first glance. At the same time the album is not a random songs compilation, it is a panorama depicting the band’s evolution from the different angles.

1. Your Opinion 03:13
2. Bruised and Scarred 03:43
3. No Heroes 04:11
4. Not Enough 04:35
5. Will to Life 03:58
6. Charade 04:57
7. Summer Break 03:58
8. Just a Traveler 04:33
9. 61000 03:27

https://www.facebook.com/doomedcity.band/
https://doomedcity.bandcamp.com/

Doomed City, Poetry of Simple Things (2019)

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Straytones Premiere “Dark Lord”; Beware, Dark Lord! Here Comes Bell-Man EP Due Feb. 22

Posted in audiObelisk on January 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

straytones

In the time since the release of their 2017 self-titled debut album, Ukrainian psychedelic rockers — that’s not to say ‘neo-psych,’ because if you’ve been paying attention, it’s not really ‘neo’ to you — have swapped bassists and shifted from a four-piece to a trio, losing their second guitarist. One might expect their three-song offering for Robustfellow Productions, Beware, Dark Lord! Here Comes Bell-Man, to be somewhat rudimentary as founding guitarist/vocalist Artem, founding drummer/vocalist Marina and bassist Vova, who is not the same Vova who played on their 2012 debut EP, move forward following this period of reconstruction. Well, if you want to be technical about it, it is, but when factoring in the band’s penchant for classic garage rock, a bit of rawness should well be part of the aesthetic. Their material nonetheless offers an expanse of naturalist tonal reach and periodic turns to more volatile noise. Oh, and fuzz. Fuzz for days.

The latter shows itself after a quick introduction on opener “Dark Lord,” and a shoegazing melody tops in blown-out fashion as the tube-popping riffery takes hold. There’s a flourish of keys to be found in the second half of the song, but Straytones effectively bring “Dark Lord”straytones beware dark lord here comes bell man toward and through a wash of tweaked out noise in the span of its four minutes, with enough time leftover to let the track devolve into buzzing amp feedback at the end before swirling directly into the synth and bass that starts “Abyss,” which is 1:20 long and basically a weirdo-atmospheric transitional moment between the two longer pieces. “Bell-Man” brings in more driving and direct bass — plus a lead layer overtop — and Marina‘s lead vocals, caked in space echo and meshing with a fervent dive into noise that speaks to acid psychosis and holds an improvised spirit even as her own drums continue to keep solid time beneath. Things settle momentarily to let the band catch their breath before the final outward thrust that leaves consciousness behind, and they make their way out on a fittingly ultra-tripped-out turn.

All well and good, but you’re wondering about the title, right? Fair. Going from the band’s comments below, I’m guessing that at some point when they were bundled up against the winter cold in Kiev, Straytones were making fun of how each other were dressed and the characters Dark Lord and Bell-Man were born. Inspiration can come from anywhere. And kudos to them for taking it a step further and bringing the characters to life in a forthcoming two-part cartoon video what will use the songs on Beware, Dark Lord! Here Comes Bell-Man as its soundtrack. I for one look forward to seeing their costumes, though if the EP’s cover art is anything to go by, it’s going to be way less Saturday-morning-cartoon and way more brain-melting-freakery. I’ll take it either way.

The EP will be out digitally Feb. 22 through Robustfellow and the label was kind enough to give me permission to premiere “Dark Lord.” If you’re up for the ride, you’ll find it on the player below, followed by the release announcement.

Please enjoy:

The third release of Ukrainian finest psychedelic rock outfit Straytones will be distributed via Robustfellow Prods. digitally on the 22nd of February. Following their self-titled album, which was released in the beginning of 2017 and gained many positive reviews in Ukraine and beyond, the new EP demonstrates the band’s masterful knowledge and progression in the psychedelic rock realm.

Remarkably, the EP will be supported by a two-series cartoon music video born of the story that’s uncovered throughout the release. Band members comment:

“The joke about the winter outfits of Straytones band members turned into the idea about two cartoon characters and that’s exactly how the Dark Lord and the Bell-Man came into being. We wrote songs and created a cartoon music-video to uncover a story of an evil mastermind Dark Lord who obtains a powerful artifact and travels to meta-space to become invincible. Eventually he gets overpowered by the Bell-Man whom he encounters there. Mind-bending music combined with a video is a trip to enjoy!”

The EP will be available via all major digital outlets including iTunes, Spotify, Google Play etc.

Straytones on Thee Facebooks

Straytones on Bandcamp

Robustfellow Productions on Thee Facebooks

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

Robustfellow Productions on Twitter

Robustfellow Productions on Instagram

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Stoned Jesus Announce Spring 2019 European Tour Dates

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

STONED JESUS

You’ll note immediately that there are a couple empty dates in the otherwise mostly-full schedule of Stoned Jesus‘ newly-announced Spring 2019 tour that follow a previously announced slot at Desertfest London. That two days off in a row is enough to make me think that they’ll be making the trip over to Desertfest Berlin 2019 as well and it just hasn’t been announced yet, so maybe there are more shows to come all around then. I don’t know how it works announcing one fest and then the other, but it’s been pretty well coordinated in the past to allow each fest to develop their identity, so when or even if for sure Stoned Jesus will be added to Berlin, I couldn’t say.

Either way, Stoned Jesus head out on ‘The Pilgrimage Tour’ suitably enough in support of their 2018 album, Pilgrims (review here), on Napalm Records. And no, this isn’t the last time this week I’ll be talking about that record, so keep an eye out.

From the PR wire:

stoned jesus tour poster

Stoned Jesus will be back on the road next spring, to support “Pilgrims”, their latest album which came out 3 months ago!

The “Pilgrimage Tour 2019” will feature The Devil And The Almighty Blues (*) as support for 3 shows, and Samavayo (++) for the last 6!

20.03.19 (PL) Wroclaw | Pralnia
21.03.19 (PL) Krakow | Zet Pe Te
22.03.19 (PL) Gdynia | Ucho
23.03.19 (PL) Warsaw | Hybrydy
24.03.19 (PL) Poznan | U Bazyla
19.04.19 (LT) Vilnius | Loftas
20.04.19 (LV) Riga | Melna Piektdiena
21.04.19 (EE) Tallinn | Von Khral
22.04.19 (FIN) Helsinki | Elmun Baari
24.04.19 (SWE) Stockholm | Debaser
25.04.19 (NOR) Oslo | Bla
26.04.19 (DK) Copenhagen | Loppen
28.04.19 (D) Hamburg | Knust (*)
29.04.19 (NL) Groningen | Vera (*)
30.04.19 (D) Dresden | Beatpol (*)
01.05.19 (D) Dortmund | Junkyard
02.05.19 (NL) Rotterdam | Baroeg
03.05.19 (NL) Diksmuide | 4AD
04.05.19 (UK) London | Desertfest
07.05.19 (CH) Zürich | Rote Fabrik (++)
08.05.19 (D) Saarbrücken | Garage (++)
09.05.19 (D) Hannover | Lux (++)
10.05.19 (D) Nürnberg | MUZ (++)
11.05.19 (D) Marburg | KFZ (++)
12.05.19 (CZ) Prague | Underdog’s (++)

Line-up:
Ihor Sydorenko – Vocals & Guitars
Serhij Sljussar – Bass
Dmytro Zinchenko – Drums

https://twitter.com/stonedjesusband
https://www.facebook.com/stonedjesusband
https://www.instagram.com/stonedjesusband/
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

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Quarterly Review: A Storm of Light, Z/28, Forrest, 1476, Owl, Brass Hearse, Craneium & Black Willows, Magmakammer, Falun Gong, Max Tovstyi

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

quarterly-review

Day Two of the Quarterly-Review-Mega-Super-Ultra-Year-End-Wrap-Up-Spectacular-Gnarly-Edition — name in progress — begins now. First day? Smooth. Wrote it over the weekend to get a jump on the week, cruised through a morning and into baby-naps, finished with time left over to still go and read the Star Trek novel I’m currently making my way through. Easy. Also peasy.

Today? Well, apparently I turned off my alarm in my sleep because I rolled over 40 minutes later and certainly didn’t remember it going off. Whoops. Not a great start, but there is a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so we’ll get through it, even if it’s awfully early in the week to be sleeping in. Ha.

Have a great day everybody. Here are 10 more records for the QRMSUYEWUSGE. Rolls right off the tongue.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

A Storm of Light, Anthroscene

A Storm of Light Anthroscene

“America the sick and crumbling/Liberty she’s weeping/The tired and poor are huddled and dying/As the wretched ones are touched aside.” The lines, from A Storm of Light‘s “Blackout” — the second cut from their fifth LP, Anthroscene (on Translation Loss) — lead to the inevitable question: “What the fuck is wrong with us?,” and thereby summarize the central sociopolitical framework of the record. A dystopian thematic suits the band’s aesthetic, and there’s certainly no shortage of material to work from between current events and future outlook. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/graphic artist Josh Graham, bassist Domenic Seita and guitarist/keyboardist Dan Hawkins are five years removed from the band’s last outing, however, so their post-apocalyptic post-metal is welcome either way, and Anthroscene taps a Killing Joke influence and turns it to its dark and churning purposes over the course of its eight tracks/51 minutes, delving into harsh shouts on “Short Term Feedback” and capping with the resistance-filled “Rosebud,” which surges forth from ambience like the anti-facist/anti-capitalist critique that it is, ending with the lyric, “When you die, we will spit on your grave,” which could hardly be more appropriate.

A Storm of Light on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss Records on Bandcamp

 

Z28, Nobody Rides for Free

Z28 Nobody Rides for Free

Massachusetts’ Z28 — also stylized as Z/28 and Z-28; I don’t think they care so long as you get the point they’re named after the Camaro — make their full-length debut with Nobody Rides for Free on Fuzzdoom Records, and with the occasional bit of organ on songs like “Touch of Evil” and “Angst III (I Don’t Want to Die),” they nonetheless give a raw take on heavy rock laced with that particularly Northeastern aggression. Guitarist Jeff Hayward (also organ), bassist/acoustic guitarist/engineer Jason Negro and drummer Breaux Silcio all contribute vocals to the outing, and yet the minute-long instrumental intro tells much of the story of what it’s about in terms of the chemistry between them. Impressive guitar solos are rampant throughout, and the rhythm section carries over a weighted groove through cuts like “Wandering” that’s fluid in tempo but still able to create an overarching flow between the tracks. I’ll give bonus points for the Black Sabbath nods in the multi-layered lead work toward the end of “Spirit Elk (Lord of the Hunt)” as well as the title “Keep on Rockin’ (In the Invisible World),” and Z28 have something to build on here in terms of songwriting and that chemistry. It’s raw-sounding, but that doesn’t necessarily hurt it.

Z28 on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzdoom Records on Bandcamp

 

Forrest, Kickball with Russians

forrest kickball with russians

Granted, Forrest telegraph some measure of quirk by naming their debut EP Kickball with Russians, but the four-piece from Lexington, Kentucky, still seem to be rolling along in a straightforward-enough manner on six-minute instrumental opener and longest track (immediate points) “(I Dream of) Kickball with Russians,” until the keyboards start in. That turn gives their EP an edge of the unexpected that continues to inform “DAN,” “Deew” and the closing “My Son Looks Just Like Me,” and “DAN” continues the thread with gang shouts popping up over its chugging progression and receding again after about two words to let the track get quiet and build back up. And is that a velociraptor at the start of “Deew?” Either way, that song’s Mr. Bungle-style angularity, a return of the keys and intermittent heavy nod work to underscore the willful weirdness that’s very much at play in the four-piece’s work, and the closer adds Ween-style effects work into the mix while still keeping a heavy presence in tone and lumber. They’ll get weirder with time, but this is a good start toward that goal.

Forrest on Thee Facebooks

Forrest on Bandcamp

 

1476, Our Season Draws Near

1476 our season draws near

Coastal melancholy and a pervasive sense of atmosphere seem to unite the varied tracks on 1476‘s 2017 Prophecy release, Our Season Draws Near, which otherwise draw across their span from goth rock, punk, doom and extreme metal, able to blur the line especially between punk and black metal on songs like “Ettins” while acoustics pervade “Solitude (Exterior)” en route to the Anathema-gone-char rasps of “Solitude (Interior)” a short time later. I know I’m late to the party on the Salem, MA, duo, and likewise late on this record, but from opener “Our Silver Age” to closer “Our Ice Age” to the “Solitude” pairing to “Winter of Winds” — finally: David Bowie fronts Joy Division — and “Winter of Wolves,” there’s so much of Our Season Draws Near that has a bigger-picture thought process behind its construction that its impact is multi-tiered. And it’s not just that they pit genres against each other in their sound, it’s that their sound brings them together toward something new and malleable to the purposes of their songwriting. Not to be missed, so this is me, not missing it. Even though I kind of missed it.

1476 on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Owl, Nights in Distortion

owl nights in distortion

Joined on Nights in Distortion by bassist René Marquis as well as longtime drummer Patrick Schroeder, guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Christian Kolf (also Valborg) greatly expands his former solo-ish-project Owl with their second release of 2018 behind March’s Orion Fenix EP (review here), bringing together elements of post-metal churn with deeply atmospheric sensibilities, cuts like “Transparent Moment” churning as much as they are surprising with their underlying melody. A Type O Negative influence continues to be worked into their sometimes grueling context, but it’s hard to listen to the keyboard-laced “Inanna in Isolation” and hear Owl being anything other than who they’ve become, and their third album is the most distinct statement of that yet, airy lead guitars floating over a still-fervent, industrial-style chug amid vocals veering from barking shouts to quiet, low-register semi-spoken fare and cleaner singing. Nights in Distortion is the evolving work of a mastermind, captured in progress.

Owl on Thee Facebooks

Temple of Torturous website

 

Brass Hearse, Hollow on the Surface

Brass Hearse Hollow on the Surface

Synth-laden heavy horror garage dance rock could probably use a more succinct genre name, but while those in charge of such things sit and scratch their butts, Boston’s Brass Hearse carve out a niche unto themselves with their second EP, Hollow on the Surface. The five-track offering is in and out in 14 minutes but wants nothing for either a show of craft or arrangement, tapping into psych-folk in the strummy interlude “Dwellers in the Static Valley” after the hook-led “Death by Candlelight” and before the John Carpenter-style pulsations that underscore “The Thing from Another World.” Opener “Fading” is the only song to top four minutes and has a distinctly progressive take, but while it and the organ-ic closer “Headaches & Heartbreaks” has a theatricality to it, Brass Hearse are too cohesive to charge with being weird for weirdness’ sake, and their experimentation is presented in complete, engaging songs, rather than self-indulgent collections of parts mashed together. Would love to hear what they do over the course of a full-length.

Brass Hearse on Thee Facebooks

Playing Records on Bandcamp

 

Craneium & Black Willows, Split

Different missions from Finland’s Craneium and Switzerland’s Black Willows on their BloodRock Records split. Craneium nod through “Your Law” and mark their second inclusion, “Try, Fail, Repeat,” with a Sabbathian swing that only kicks up in tempo as it moves through its five minutes. Black Willows, on the other hand, present a single track in the 19-minute, noise-soaked post-everything “Bliss,” which trades back and forth between minimalism and crushing riffs en route to a consuming wash and long, long, long fadeout. Released in March, the outing showcases both bands well, but one is left wondering where the connection is between the two of them that they’d come together for a joint vinyl release. Either way, I won’t detract from what they do individually, whether it’s the catchiness of “Your Law” and the jam in its second half or “Bliss” with its frost-covered expanse of tonality, it’s just a marked leap from side A to side B. Maybe that was the idea all along, and if that’s the case, then one can only say they succeeded.

Craneium on Thee Facebooks

Black Willows on Thee Facebooks

BloodRock Records on Bandcamp

 

Magmakammer, Mind Tripper

magmakammer mindtripper

Following a 2015 self-titled debut EP, Oslo trio Magmakammer align with Kozmik Artifactz for their first long-player, Mindtripper, and so effect a garage doom sound that’s quickly relatable to Uncle Acid on songs like “Fat Saturn” and the chug-shuffling “Along the Crooked Roads.” Where they distinguish themselves from this core influence, though, is in the density of their tones, as opener “Druggernaut” and the rolling “Acid Times” prove thicker in their charge. Still, there’s no mistaking that swing and the blown-out sound of the vocals. Closer “Cosmic Dancers,” which is one of two tracks over seven minutes long, shows more dynamic in its loud/quiet tradeoffs, and resolves itself in a righteous nodder of a riff. It’s essentially in the same vein, but still displaying some emerging personality of Magmakammer‘s own that one hopes they continue to develop. And in the meantime, the foundation of craft and stylistic awareness they hone is still welcome, familiar or not.

Magmakammer on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz webstore

 

Falun Gong, Figure 2

Falun Gong Figure 2

Mystique isn’t easy to come by in this Age of Access, but the anonymous London-dwelling duo Falun Gong have succeeded in piquing interest with their two-to-date singles, “Figure 1” (review here), and the eight-minute “Figure 2,” which like its predecessor is raw in the recording, sounds like it was performed live, and follows a trance-inducing course of riffing. The central groove is a slow march that makes its way through obscure voices delivered in buried fashion — the whole thing may or may not be mastered; somehow I’m thinking not, but I’ve been wrong before — through a self-aware drift that rounds out following a soulful culmination fitting the song’s lyrical theme, which would seem to be tied to the cover art about baptism in a river’s waters. There’s just something off-kilter about Falun Gong to this point, and while it’s still early going for them, they bring an eerie persona to their work that feels less performative than it so often does.

Falun Gong on Bandcamp

 

Max Tovstyi, Mesmerize

Max Tovstyi Mesmerize

Though he’s had a slew of live outings out with the Max Tovstyi Blues Band and the Max Tovstyi Blues Association, Mesmerize (LP on Nasoni) is the Ukrainian heavy blues rocker’s first solo studio outing since 2014. He’s credited with all the instruments on the 10- or 12-track offering save for a couple arrangement-flourish guest appearances, and he pulls in a classic spirit and full-band sound without any trouble on a moody piece like “World of Sin” or the bonus track “Show Me the Way,” which isn’t a Peter Frampton cover so far as I can tell but still has plenty of guitar scorch to go around. “From the Blues to the Funk” jams its way along its stated trajectory, and “Feel Like Dying Now” brings together organ and keys in a fashion far less dramatized than one might initially think. With a clean production, Tovstyi — also known for his work in The Heavy Crawls, Lucifer Rising, and others — carries through his sentimentality for blues rock’s past and finds himself well at home leading the pack of guest vocalists on “Make Up Your Mind,” which closes the album proper with a semi-country twang and sweet melody.

Max Tovstyi on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

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