Primitive Man and Unearthly Trance Split LP Due Aug. 17

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Every now and then, two bands being labelmates works out well for everyone. And by everyone, I don’t just mean the bands. To wit, uniting Brooklyn’s reignited post-doomers Unearthly Trance with Denver everything-crushers Primitive Man? Yeah, that’s just a win all around. I hope whoever made that pairing happen got a promotion, or at least a bonus, or maybe one of those awesome Relapse Records hoodies that you always see the staff wearing around Philly and get mad jealous. Also, in that scenario, you is me. I mean, we’re all one anyway, but specifically there I’m talking about myself.

Anyway, the point here is that Primitive Man and Unearthly Trance getting together for a split seems like it would be far less likely to happen were it not for the fact that they’re both on Relapse Records, and if that’s what it takes, to manifest that kind of devastation, then all the better. If you missed them, both bands released records last year — Primitive Man assaulted the senses with Caustic (review here) while Unearthly Trance marked a return from a long hiatus with Stalking the Ghost (review here) — and if the ultra-quick teaser for the joint intro to the split is anything to go by, the new outing is going to be noisy as hell.

Primitive Man and Unearthly Trance both will play Psycho Las Vegas next month, and Primitive Man have further touring in Europe set for Aug./Sept. alongside also-labelmates -(16)-. Nothing like keeping good company.

From the PR wire:

primitive man unearthly trance split

PRIMITIVE MAN & UNEARTHLY TRANCE Announce Split LP Coming August 17th Via Relapse Records; Trailer Posted

One year after each releasing two of 2017’s heaviest albums, Denver’s PRIMITIVE MAN and New York City’s UNEARTHLY TRANCE unite for an exercise in complete and total suffering, coming this August via Relapse Records. Across seven apocalyptic tracks,both bands tap into some of the most uncomfortable, vile realms of blackened doom and dissonant, harsh noise put to tape in the new millennium.

Watch the official split album trailer featuring opening track “Merging,” recorded by both bands, HERE. New music from each band will be available in the near future.

PRIMITIVE MAN & UNEARTHLY TRANCE’s split LP is due out August 17th on CD, LP and digital formats through Relapse.com. Physical packages, digital downloads, and streaming services are available HERE.

Additionally, PRIMITIVE MAN has recently announced a European headlining tour with labelmates -(16)-. The tour begins August 29th in Dortmund, Germany and ends September 15th at Bloodshed Festival in Eindhoven, Netherlands. PRIMITIVE MAN will perform at various Summer festival appearances such as Psycho Las Vegas, Electric Funeral Fest, and Temple Of Ascension Vol. 1. All confirmed tour dates are available below.

PRIMITIVE MAN & UNEARTHLY TRANCE Split LP Track Listing:
1. PRIMITIVE MAN & UNEARTHLY TRANCE – Merging (Intro)
2. PRIMITIVE MAN – Naked
3. PRIMITIVE MAN – Love Under Will
4. UNEARTHLY TRANCE – Mechanism Error
5. UNEARTHLY TRANCE – Triumph
6. UNEARTHLY TRANCE – Reverse The Day
7. UNEARTHLY TRANCE – 418

PRIMITIVE MAN:
7/12/2018 Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO w/ Yob, Bell Witch
8/17/2018 Temple Of Ascension Vol. 1 – Edmonton, AB
8/18/2018 Psycho Las Vegas @ Hard rock Hotel And Casino – Las Vegas, NV
w/ -(16)- :
8/29/2018 Junkyard – Dortmund, DE
8/30/2018 IFZ- Leipzig, DE
8/31/2018 KB18 – Copenhagen, DK
9/01/2018 1000fryd – Aalborg, DK
9/02/2018 Hafenklang – Hamburg, DE
9/03/2018 Magasin4Brussels, BE
9/04/2018 Tiefgrund – Berlin, DE
9/05/2018 Poglos – Warsaw, PL
9/06/2018 Fuga – Bratislava, SK
9/07/2018 Desszert Feszt Budapest Opening Party – Budapest, HU
9/08/2018 Reflektor Venue – Timisoara, RO
9/09/2018 Something For The Core VII – Bucharest, RO
9/10/2018 Mocvara – Zagreb, HR
9/11/2018 Circolo Magnolia – Milano, IT
9/12/2018 Sunset Bar – Martigny, CH
9/13/2018 Gaswerk – Winterthur, CH
9/14/2018 Jubez – Karlsruhe, DE
9/15/2018 Bloodshed Fest 2018 – Eindhoven, NL

http://www.primitivemandoom.com
http://www.facebook.com/primitivemandoom
http://www.instagram.com/primitivemandoom
http://twitter.com/PRIMITIVEMANE
http://www.facebook.com/UnearthlyTrance
http://www.instagram.com/unearthlytrance
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.twitter.com/RelapseRecords

Primitive Man & Unearthly Trance, Split LP trailer

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Psycho Las Vegas 2018 Reveals Lineup; Dimmu Borgir, Hellacopters, Godflesh, Witchcraft and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Psycho Las Vegas 2018 logo

It’s only taken a few years for Psycho Las Vegas to establish itself as the premier underground festival in the US. All well and good. With 2018’s lineup, though, it’s time to start thinking of Psycho among the best in the world.

Sounds like too much? Consider Godflesh and Dimmu Borgir sharing a stage, both for exclusive West Coast appearances. Think of Sweden’s Witchcraft playing one of the two shows they’ll do in the US at Psycho, and ditto that for Japanese riff-madmen Church of Misery. Think of US exclusives from Lee Dorrian’s With the Dead, or Lucifer, whose Johanna Sadonis will also DJ the Center Bar. The commitment to up and coming underground acts local, domestic and foreign like Temple of Void, King Buffalo, Dreadnought, The Munsens and DVNE. Picture yourself watching Wolves in the Throne Room headline a pre-fest pool party with Elder, Young and in the Way, Dengue Fever, Fireball Ministry and Toke.

2018 is the year Psycho Las Vegas outclasses even itself and pushes further than it ever has in terms of stylistic reach (Integrity walks by and waves… at Boris) and the sheer power of its construction. If you’re looking for the future, you’ll find it in scumbag paradise.

Here’s the lineup:

Psycho Las Vegas 2018 poster

Psycho Las Vegas 2018

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas
4455 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89169

Tickets: https://www.vivapsycho.com/pages/tickets

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2018 lineup:
DIMMU BORGIR (west of chicago exclusive)
HELLACOPTERS (one of two shows to be played in the USA in 2018)
SUNN 0)))
GODFLESH (west of chicago exclusive)
WITCHCRAFT (one of two shows to be played in the USA in 2018)
ENSLAVED
AMERICAN NIGHTMARE
HIGH ON FIRE
ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT
RED FANG
ZAKK SABBATH
CHURCH OF MISERY (usa exclusive 2018 with exception to one other show in San Diego)
TINARIWEN
GOBLIN
CKY
VENOM INC
EYEHATEGOD
VOIVOD
BORIS
COVEN
INTEGRITY
PALLBEARER
WITH THE DEAD (USA exclusive 2018)
MONOLORD
LUCIFER (USA exclusive 2018)
ACID WITCH
SURVIVE
DOPETHRONE
BIG BUSINESS
UNEARTHLY TRANCE
MUTOID MAN
TODAY IS THE DAY
HELMS ALEE
SPIRIT ADRIFT
BATUSHKA
PRIMITIVE MAN
DVNE
ALL PIGS MUST DIE
EIGHT BELLS
WORMWITCH
INDIAN
NECROT
HOMEWRECKER
BRAIN TENTACLES
CLOAK
BLACK MARE
MAGIC SWORD
UADA
TEMPLE OF VOID
DREADNOUGHT
WOLVHAMMER
ASEETHE
DISASTROID
FORMING THE VOID
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS
GHASTLY SOUND
HOWLING GIANT
KING BUFFALO
NIGHT HORSE
THE MUNSENS
GLAARE

Paradise Pool Pre Party
August 16th

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
ELDER
YOUNG AND IN THE WAY
DENGUE FEVER
FIREBALL MINISTRY
TOKE

Center Bar DJ’s
Andrew W.K.
Nicke Andersson (Entombed/Hellacopters)
Johanna Sadonis (Lucifer)

https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas/
https://www.facebook.com/events/125340824913552/
http://vivapsycho.com

High on Fire, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2016

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The Obelisk Presents: 12 of 2017’s Best Album Covers

Posted in Features, Visual Evidence on December 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The whole point of this list is that it’s not exhaustive. I feel like I say this every year, but it’s not meant to be the best covers of 2017. How would I even begin to judge that kind of thing? Appreciation for visual art is so subjective that, even in a niche within a niche within a niche like the cover pieces for heavy rock and/or doom and/or psych records, the sphere is simply too vast. I just want to have a good time looking at kickass album covers. That’s really it.

Of course, there’s always plenty of fare ready and waiting. I kept a running list all year of things that really stuck out to me, and there are some familiar names here along with some newcomers. My gripe with the proliferation of cartoon tits continues and grows even more fervent as the political climate in which this stuff happens — because even riffs don’t occur in a vacuum, sorry — becomes increasingly fraught, problematic and outright heinous, but there doesn’t seem to be any slowing that particular patriarchal train in this bizarre subculture. Dudes gotta be objectifying women and such to make up for the disaffection they feel from society at large. Weak. Grow up.

And again — I said this last year too — but I’m a fucking hypocrite because of the 14 artists listed in these 12 covers, there isn’t one woman included. Not one. I looked at my list and hung my fool head in self-disappointment. Fortunately, looking at awesome artwork is the kind of thing from which I derive emotional comfort. It’s been a real rollercoaster putting this one together, I guess.

Alright, enough delay. If you’ve got favorites that you don’t see here — and I’m sure you do because I do as well — please let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance for not being a jerk.

Here goes:

Ordered alphabetically by artist

Alunah, Solennial

alunah-solennial-adrian-baxter

Cover by Adrian Baxter. Thee Facebooks.

Though it was Alunah‘s 2014 album, Awakening the Forest (review here), that found Michael Cowell introducing the framing style and color scheme used on their latest offering as well, Adrian Baxter‘s piece for the Birmingham outfit’s fourth LP and Svart Records label debut, Solennial (review here), is an utter standout. Themes of death and life and nature echo the organic feel always on display throughout Alunah‘s songwriting, and amid the highly detailed line drawing, the flashes of red evoke the richness of blood to comport with the skeletons and the vines twisted about like innards, subtly reminding of the band’s pagan and forest-canopy ethereality.

Brume, Rooster

brume-rooster-sean-beaudry

Cover by Shaun Beaudry. Artist gallery.

Shaun Beaudry does a lot of work in pen and ink and coffee stain, and like many of his pieces, the cover art for Rooster (review here), the Doom Stew/DHU Records debut album from San Francisco three-piece Brume, seems like it’s tailor-made to be a tattoo. More than that, what strikes me about it is the sense of narrative happening with the serpent-bird, the eggs, the coiling around what would seem to be an unfortunate scavenger and the dandelions and leaves surrounding. Each element looks like it’s giving messages, holding meaning, communicating ideas, and with such exquisite detail, the effect on the viewer is all the more immersive.

Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kozmic Dust

cloud-catcher-trails-of-kozmik-dust-adam-burke

Cover by Adam Burke. Artist website.

I imagine that, one way or another, every time I post a list like this it will feature a cover by Adam Burke. In 2017, in addition to the art for Cloud Catcher‘s Trails of Kozmic Dust (review here), the man behind Nightjar Illustration (and who did one of this site’s headers and the cover art for my book) also blasted out mention-worthy pieces topping records by Sólstafir and Spectral Haze, and his epic oil-on-canvas fantasy-art style always manages to stun. Look at the sense of scale in the Cloud Catcher cover, and the way that, as we see this cosmic battle happening, the stars seem to bleed through the two warriors, as though we’re looking at something happening across dimensions. And so we are. Beautiful.

Elder, Reflections of a Floating World

elder-reflections-of-a-floating-world-adrian-dexter

Cover by Adrian Dexter. Artist website.

A continued collaboration between Elder and Adrian Dexter yielded dividends once again with the artwork for Reflections of a Floating World (review here), released by Stickman Records and Armageddon Shop. Perhaps it’s not fair to include just the cover in this list since in my head I’m picturing the full LP’s swath of visuals, but even just in this single piece, Dexter gorgeously mirrors (get it? because “reflections?”) the band’s progressive stylizations with his own, evoking classic, stare-at-it-for-hours, poster-ready artwork and seeming to leave one wondering which end of the reflection is up and which is down in much the same way as the band’s dizzying complexity of songcraft.

The Riven, Blackbird

the-riven-blackbird-maarten-donders

Cover by Maarten Donders. Artist website.

In their video for “Killer on the Loose” (posted here), London-based heavy soul rockers The Riven play before a backdrop with the same Maarten Donders artwork on it as their debut EP, BlackbirdDonders is another repeat offender as far as appearances on this list go, and the many-time Roadburn poster collaborator’s detailed style, classic form and muted colors provide a feeling of warmth that seems almost like a goal The Riven are trying to achieve in their sound. From the moon, to the key, to the face being obliterated in smoke, the blackbird itself, the rune-laden ouroboros, the dead and hollow tree trunk, each element of the Blackbird cover holds a mystery of its own, and yet it all fits together perfectly as well, as though the art was a puzzle only Donders could piece together. I’d make a banner out of it, too.

Wight, Atlas

wight-atlas-rene-hofmann.jpg

Cover by René Hofmann. Band website.

Of the 12 covers featured on this list, René Hofmann‘s piece for Wight‘s 2017 H42 Records single, Atlas (review here), is the only one done by a member of the band itself. And I won’t lie: it’s the rainbow that sealed the deal for me. The fade from purple to yellow and sense of perspective in the rows of flowers at the bottom draw the eye toward the band’s logo, and with the mountains behind, that horizontal (angled diagonally) burst of color leads upward to the vertical color bars that seem to be holding up Planet Earth itself or are otherwise left in its path. That brazen use of color, especially with the darkness of the sky behind, was striking, hopeful and joyous in a year that seemed to need precisely as much of that as it could possibly get.

Unearthly Trance, Stalking the Ghost

unearthly-trance-stalking-the-ghost-orion-landau

Cover by Orion Landau. Artist Tumblr.

One has to wonder if, in his choice of red and purple hues, if Relapse Records in-house artist Orion Landau wasn’t specifically looking to reference Black Sabbath‘s Born Again in the artwork for Unearthly Trance‘s Stalking the Ghost (review here). Could we be looking at the devil-baby from that 1983 record all grown up in 2017? And could that reference itself be a clever manner of noting that it’s a reunion album for the band? That they’re, in essence, born again? Either way, the three hooded figures and the beast they’ve leashed are a haunting enough presence to fit with the LP’s title and the atmospherics of the group itself, while also being emblematic of the precision and detail Landau brings to the diverse range of work he does for Relapse artists across various realms of extremity and metal.

oceanwake-earthen-chris-luckhardt

Cover by Chris Luckhardt. Artist website.

The framing of the photo is a big part of the draw here, of course. The spiral of the abandoned rollercoaster. Oceanwake‘s Earthen (review here) seemed to set the goal of living up to its cover atmospherically and with the Kubrick-style framing of the abandoned rollercoaster that pulls the eye inward, almost like you’re looking down and not straight ahead, journeyman photographer Chris Luckhardt captured a murk that set a high standard indeed. The metaphor is laid on a little thick, to be sure — it isn’t subtle — but neither is the sound of Oceanwake, and the overarching greys and brooding vibe of the photo serve to genuinely affect the listening experience. Photo covers can be especially hard to pull off. This one does especially well to remain obscure even as its lines drag you in. Where does that coaster end up?

Argus, From Fields of Fire

argus-from-fields-of-fire-brad-moore

Cover by Brad Moore. Artist website.

Anyone with any level of appreciation for classic metal should by rights be an admirer of Brad Moore. The standard applies. Dude has a knack for capturing the kind of imagery you might’ve tried to emulate on the front of your high school notebook, but just ended up with an indecipherable mess of lines and half-formed monsters. Argus‘ 2017 album, From Fields of Fire (review here), with its bizarre hellscape, calls to mind doom, the NWOBHM and even some more extreme, death metal records, but the point rings true that what’s happening here is horns-up, balls-out, no-irony, no-fucking-around metal, and the most majestic Argus offering yet deserved no less. The detail of Moore‘s lines, the root influence of fantasy art, and in this case especially, the setting of theme through the use of red made this one especially arresting.

Spidergawd, IV

spidergawd-iv-emile-morel

Cover by Emile Morel. Artist website.

Easy pick. Sorry, but calling out Spidergawd art for being awesome is kind of low-hanging-fruit as far as critical assessment goes, as the fact is that’s been an essential element of what they’ve done all along across their four to-date full-lengths. The latest them, Spidergawd IV (review here), boasts the above piece by Emile Morel and inhabits the same pastel world as their past outings, but marks a turn for not having a human or semi-human figure as a part of the front cover. Instead we see an arachnid monster who may well represent the Norwegian band itself residing in a garden of fungi wonderfully rendered so that the colors almost obscure the danger lurking around. It’s very much to form, but does nothing to diminish its impact.

Process of Guilt, Black Earth

process-of-guilt-black-earth-Hugo-Santos-Pedro-Almeida

Cover by Hugo Santos and Pedro Almeida.

Granted, I said at the outset that this list wasn’t about rankings or picking favorites, and it’s not. I stand by that. However, no other album cover hit me as immediately hard as Process of Guilt‘s Black Earth (review here) with its photographed sculpture by Hugo Santos and Pedro Almeida. I don’t know who did what in terms of the division of labor in its making, but the horrific realism of the result has continued to haunt in the best way possible with its evocation of death, the spirit, the natural world and the contrast between light and dark. It seems so simple on the surface, but at the same time it’s so exacting in its position and its starkness that I can’t help but feel like it’s staring at me every time I see it, or more accurately, staring into me from someplace dark and other.

Rozamov, This Mortal Road

rozamov-this-mortal-road-andrew-weiss-matt-martinez

Cover by Andrew Weiss with layout by Matt Martinez. Artist website.

When I first saw the art for Rozamov‘s awaited Battleground Records debut long-player, This Mortal Road (review here), I was sure it had to be by Samantha Muljat. From the color wash in the sky to the otherworldly blend of photography and manipulation, to the geometric line-making overlaid, it just seemed to fit. Andrew Weiss, however, has done covers for Pelican, Spirit Adrift, and many others, and in concert with Matt Martinez‘s layout, his alien landscape is duly fraught and barren-looking while leaving the viewer to wonder if that’s a lone figure standing in the distance or just an oddly-shaped outcropping between the looming threat of the surrounding cavern walls. The message: there’s only one road ahead, only one way through it all.

A couple honorable mentions that I know I’ll add to as soon as this list goes live and I think of like 10 more records that looked awesome:

Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper
Lo-Pan, In Tensions
Godhunter, Codex Narco
Black Lung/Nap, Split 7″
Primitive Man, Caustic

So who did I miss? What were your favorite album covers of the year? Do you have a preferred style? Leave a comment with your picks and let’s get a conversation going. I know people feel strongly about this stuff, but please keep it civil so we can all have a good time.

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Quarterly Review: Unearthly Trance, Heavy Traffic, Saturn, Lucifer’s Fall, Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Scuzzy Yeti, Urn., Nebula Drag, Contra, IAH

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

From harsh doom to urban pastoralism to heavy blues rock to rolling doom nonetheless metallic in its defiance, Day Four of the Quarterly Review spins around a swath of styles and hopefully, hopefully, finds something you dig in the doing. It’s been a long week already. You know it. I know it. But it’s also been really good to dig into this stuff and I know I’ve found a few records that have made their way onto the already-ongoing 2017 lists — best short releases, debuts, albums, etc. — so to say it’s been worth it is, as ever, an understatement. Today likewise has gems to offer, so I won’t delay.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Unearthly Trance, Stalking the Ghost

unearthly-trance-stalking-the-ghost

Brooklyn’s Unearthly Trance make a somewhat unexpected reentry with Stalking the Ghost (on Relapse), their sixth album. In the years since 2010’s V (review here), guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky has delved into a wide variety of extreme genres, from the blackened fare of The Howling Wind to the deathly-doom of Serpentine Path, in which Unearthly Trance bassist Jay Newman and drummer Darren Verni also shared tenure, but reuniting as Unearthly Trance feels like a significant step for the three-piece, and on tracks like “Dream State Arsenal” and the darkly post-metallic “Lion Strength,” they remind of what it was that made them such a standout in the first place while demonstrating that their years away have done nothing to dull the surehandedness of their approach. At eight tracks/52 minutes, Stalking the Ghost is a significant dirge to undertake, but Unearthly Trance bring pent-up anguish to bear across this varied swath of punishing tracks, and reassert their dominance over an aesthetic sphere that, even after all this time, is thoroughly their own.

Unearthly Trance on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Heavy Traffic, Plastic Surgery

heavy-traffic-plastic-surgery

Probably a smart move on the part of Heavy Traffic spearhead guitarist Ian Caddick and drummer/vocalist Tav Palumbo to swap coasts from Santa Cruz to Brooklyn ahead of putting together their sixth (!) full-length in three years and Twin Earth Records debut, Plastic Surgery. Cali is awash in heavy psych anyway and Brooklyn’s been at a deficit (as much as it’s at a deficit of anything) since space forerunners Naam became one with the cosmos, so even apart from the acquisition of bassist David Grzedzinki and drummer Dan Bradica, it’s a solid call, and one finds the fruits yielded on Plastic Surgery’s dream-fuzzed blend of heft and roll, heady jams like “See Right Through,” the oh-you-like-feedback-well-here’s-all-the-feedback “Broth Drain” and winding “Medicated Bed” finding a place where shoegaze and psychedelia meet ahead of the low-end-weighted closing title-cut and the bonus track “White and Green,” which finishes with suitable push and swirl to mark a welcome and vibe-soaked arrival for the band. Hope you enjoy the Eastern Seabord. It could use you.

Heavy Traffic on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Saturn, Beyond Spectra

saturn beyond spectra

In the second Saturn album, Beyond Spectra, one can hear one of retro rock’s crucial next movements taking place. The Swedish four-piece, who debuted on Rise Above with 2014’s Ascending and return with a periodically explosive 10-track/45-minute outing here, find a niche for themselves in adding dual-guitar NWOBHM elements to ‘70s-style (also ‘10s-style) boogie, as on the scorching “Still Young” or opener “Orbital Command.” They’re not the only ones doing it – Rise Above alums Horisont come to mind readily – but they’re doing it well, and the last three years have clearly found them refining their approach to arrive at the tightness in the shuffle of “Wolfsson” and the creeping Priestism of “Helmet Man” later on. I’ll give bonus points for their embracing the idea of going completely over the top in naming a song “Electrosaurus Sex,” but by the time they get down to closing duo “Silfvertape” and “Sensor Data,” I’m left thinking of the subdued intro to “Orbital Command” and the interlude “Linkans Delight” and wondering if there isn’t a way to bring more of that dynamic volume and tempo breadth into the songwriting as a whole. That would really be far out. Maybe they’ll get there, maybe they won’t. Either way, Beyond Spectra, like its predecessor, makes a largely inarguable case for Saturn’s potential.

Saturn on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Lucifer’s Fall, II: Cursed and Damned

lucifers-fall-cursed-and-damned

Measuring its impact between doomly traditionalism and attitudinal fuckall, Lucifer’s Fall’s II: Cursed and Damned (on Nine Records) is a doom-for-doomers affair that tops 55 minutes with its nine tracks, recalling Dio-era Sabbathian gallop on opener “Mother Superior” and landing a significant blow with the slow-rolling nine-minute push of “The Necromancer.” Shades of Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, and the most loyal of the loyalists show themselves throughout, but whether it’s the crawl in the first half of “Cursed Priestess” or the blistering rush of the clarion centerpiece “(Fuck  You) We’re Lucifer’s Fall,” there’s an undercurrent of punk in the five-piece’s take that lends an abiding rawness to even the album’s most grueling moments. One looks to find a middle ground in songs like “The Mountains of Madness” and closer “Homunculus,” but Lucifer’s Fall instead offer NWOBHM-style guitar harmonics and soaring vocals, respectively, only pushing their stylistic breadth wider, playing by and breaking rules they’re clearly setting for themselves rather than working toward outside expectation. As a result, II: Cursed and Damned keeps its fist in the air for the duration, middle finger up.

Lucifer’s Fall on Bandcamp

Nine Records website

 

Trevor Shelley de Brauw, Uptown

trevor-shelley-de-brauw-uptown

Over the course of six-minute opener “A New Architecture,” guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw gradually moves the listener from abrasive noise to sweet, folkish acoustic guitar backed by amplified wavelengths. It’s a slowly unfolding change, patiently done, and it works in part to define Uptown (on The Flenser), the Pelican guitarist’s six-song solo debut long-player. Noise and drone make themselves regulars, and there’s a steady experimentalism at root in pieces like “Distinct Frequency,” the low-end hum and strum of “You Were Sure,” and the should’ve-been-on-the-soundtrack-to-Arrival “Turn up for What,” which unfurls a linear progression from minimalism to consuming swell in eight minutes ahead of the more actively droning 11-minute sendoff “From the Black Soil Poetry and Song Sprang,” but de Brauw manages to keep a human core beneath via both the occasional acoustic layer and through moments where a piece is being palpably manipulated, à la the spacious distorted churn of “They Keep Bowing.” I’m not sure how Uptown didn’t wind up on Neurot, but either way, it’s an engaging exploration of textures, and one hopes it won’t be de Brauw’s last work in this form.

Trevor Shelley de Brauw on Thee Facebooks

The Flenser website

 

Scuzzy Yeti, Scuzzy Yeti

scuzzy yeti scuzzy yeti

Someone in Scuzzy Yeti has roots in metal, and the good money’s on it being vocalist Chris Wells. Joined in the Troy, New Hampshire, five-piece by guitarists Brad Decatur and Jason Lawrence (ex-Skrogg), bassist Wayne Munson and drummer Josh Turnbull, Wells casts a sizable frontman presence across the five-tracks of Scuzzy Yeti’s self-titled debut EP, belting out “Westward” and “BTK” as the band behind him hones a blend of classic heavy rock and doom. The sound is more reminiscent of Janne Christoffersson-era Spiritual Beggars than what one might expect out of New England, and the band amass some considerable momentum as centerpiece “Conqueror” and the shorter shuffle “Knees in the Breeze” push toward slower, lead-soaked closer “Flare,” which finds the lead guitar stepping up to meet Wells head-on. They might have some work to do in finding a balance between the stylistic elements at play, but for a first outing, Scuzzy Yeti shows all the pieces are there and are being put into their rightful place, and the result is significant, marked potential.

Scuzzy Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Scuzzy Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Urn., Urn.

urn urn

The insistent push from punctuated Denver trio Urn.’s self-titled debut demo/EP is enough to remind one of the days when the primary impression of Mastodon wasn’t their complexity, but the raw savagery with which that complexity was delivered. Urn. – the three-piece of Scott Schulman, Graham Wesselhoff and Jacob Archuleta – work in some elements of more extreme metal to “Rat King” after opener “Breeder,” both songs under three minutes and successfully conveying an intense thrust. The subsequent “Stomach” ranges further and is the longest cut at 4:45, but loses none of its focus as it winds its way toward closer “To the Grave,” which in addition to maintaining the nigh-on-constant kick drum that has pervaded the three tracks prior, offers some hints of lumbering stomp to come. As a first sampling, Urn.’s Urn. is a cohesive aesthetic blast setting in motion a progression that will be worth following as it develops. Call it rager metal and try not to spill your beverage while you windmill, you wild headbanger.

Urn. on Thee Facebooks

Urn. on Bandcamp

 

Nebula Drag, Always Dying

nebula drag always dying

2016 found San Diego aggressors Nebula Drag making their self-titled, self-released debut (review here) with a record that seemed to work in willful defiance of their hometown’s psychedelic underground while at the same time occasionally nodding to it. The forebodingly-titled Always Dying three-song EP does likewise, launching with a vengeance on “Crosses” before burying the vocals and spacing out behind the crashes of the more languid-rolling title-track and giving a bit of both sides with the four-minute closer “Flying Fuckers.” It’s almost as if the three-piece of Corey Quintana, bassist Mike Finneran and drummer Stephen Varns, having thus completed their first album, decided to boil it down to its essential stylistic components and the result of that was this 14-minute outing. An intriguing prospect, but it could also be these were leftovers from the prior session with Jordan Andreen at Audio Design Recording and putting them up for a free download was an easy way to give them some purpose. In any case, if you haven’t yet been introduced to the band, Always Dying is an efficient telling of their story thus far.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

 

Contra, Deny Everything

contra deny everything

If their moniker doesn’t have you immediately running through the most legendary of cheat codes, congratulations on being born after 1990. Cleveland burl-sludge metallers Contra make their full-length debut on respected purveyor Robustfellow with the 10-track/41-minute Deny Everything, and if it sounds like they have their shit together – at least sound-wise – it should make sense given the pedigree of drummer Aaron Brittain (ex-Rue), bassist/guitarist Adam Horwatt (So Long Albatross), guitarist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer) and vocalist Larry Bent (ex-Don Austin). Be it established that songs like “Snake Goat” and “Son of Beast” are nobody’s first time at the sludge rodeo. Fair enough. Doesn’t mean Contra don’t establish their own personality in the overarching fuckall and total lack of pretense throughout Deny Everything – hell, seven-minute closer “Shrimp Cocktail” proves that on its own – just that that personality has roots. What Contra wants to do with them still kind of seems up in the air, but something about these tracks makes me think the band likes it that way. See the aforementioned “fuckall.”

Contra on Bandcamp

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

IAH, IAH

iah iah

Comprised of four songs tracked live in the trio’s native Córdoba at 440 Estudio, the self-titled debut EP from Argentine trio IAH – guitarist Mauricio Condon, bassist Juan Pablo Lucco and drummer José Landín – would seem destined to catch the attention of South American Sludge Records if it already hasn’t. In the interim, the three-piece have made the instrumental EP available as a free download and its unpretentious heavy psychedelics and edge of rock-minded thrust on opener “Cabalgan los Cielos” and the early going of closer “Eclipsum” more than justify their intention to spread the word as much as possible. Set to a balance of post-rock guitar, the bassline of “Stolas” carries a progressive inflection, and the fuzz that emerges halfway into second track “Ouroboros” shows a desert rock influence that blends well into its surroundings as a part of a richer sonic entity. A nascent but palpable chemistry at work across its 26 minutes, IAH’s IAH could portend expansive ideas to come, and one hopes it does precisely that.

IAH on Thee Facebooks

IAH on Bandcamp

 

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Days of Darkness Lineup Finalized: Om to Headline Second Night; Captain Beyond, Boris, Cavity, Crypt Sermon and More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The first lineup announcement for the inaugural Days of Darkness festival came through last month and brought with it confirmation that the autumnal two-dayer presented by the crew behind the Maryland Deathfest wasn’t screwing around either on scale — Neurosis headlining — or in scope, bring on board multi-genre acts from across a swath of underground styles. Well, the lineup is now complete. Om join Neurosis as headliners, and Cirith Ungol act as classic metal counterpart to the previously-announced Manilla Road near the top of the bill. Sizable additions like Captain Beyond, and Boris join the likes of WarningDälek and Elder — whose new album will be out by then — and Bongripper and Unearthly Trance find further tonal-onslaught companionship with word that Cavity will take part. All in all it looks like a pretty fucking good show.

Tickets are on sale now, and though they might not go before Maryland Deathfest proper, held in May as ever, I would be surprised if there were any left by the time Oct. 28 and 29 gets here. I’d think Neurosis or Om could probably sell out Rams Head on their own, never mind with the stellar support cast they’re both given across the Saturday and Sunday event. Bringing in Om has me wondering if maybe they’ll have a new record release coming up — that’s a long trip to the East Coast — but that might just be wishful thinking on my part. Either way, they’ll of course find welcome once they hit the stage, because they’re Om, and only jerks don’t like Om. That’s science. It’s proven.

Here’s the poster and the lineup as posted by the fest, as well as the link to get tickets:

days-of-darkness-2017-final-poster

Maryland Deathfest presents: Days of Darkness Festival

October 28 & 29, 2017
@ Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD

Saturday, October 28th:
Neurosis
Manilla Road
Captain Beyond
Perturbator
Elder
Cavity
Dance with the Dead
Dälek
Computer Magic
Crypt Sermon
Alms

Sunday, October 29th:
Om
Cirith Ungol
Warning
Boris
GosT
Unearthly Trance
Le Matos
Bongripper
Magic Sword
Night Demon
Asthma Castle

No refunds. All sales final!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/days-of-darkness-festival-tickets-31832083619
https://www.facebook.com/events/257886397969977/
http://www.facebook.com/daysofdarknessfestival
https://www.facebook.com/MarylandDeathfest/

Om, Live at Saint Vitus Bar 2015

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Days of Darkness Festival First Lineup Announcements: Neurosis, Warning, Elder, Unearthly Trance and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Expand or die, right? Certainly the idea isn’t a new one for the crew behind the famed Maryland Deathfest, which already has brand extensions in place in California and the Netherlands, but the newly-announced Days of Darkness Festival — for which early-bird tickets are on sale circa now — feels immediately different. Set for late October at the Rams Head Live, for one thing, it takes place in Baltimore, the home-base of the Maryland Deathfest itself. Second, it abandons the “Deathfest” title, in favor of the less genre-adherent “Darkness.” Third, its lineup seems way more of the doomed/post-metal/psychedelic/classic metal variety than any of the extremity one might find at the other Deathfest-promoted fests. These things make Days of Darkness 2017 distinct. The fact that Neurosis headline and Warning will appear playing Watching from a Distance in its entirety — something they’re also doing at Roadburn this April — means they mean business.

Compared to the core Maryland Deathfest, which runs four days at this point, the two for Days of Darkness feels a bit like testing the waters, and indeed that may be exactly what’s happening, but while a number of heavy festivals have popped up and disappeared after one shot — whither thou, Planet Caravan? — far fewer have the kind of production machine behind them as this one. Accordingly, one looks forward with great anticipation to seeing how Days of Darkness 2017 continues to develop its lineup and set itself apart not only from the central Deathfest brand, but also the slew of heavy fests in what seems to still be a surging US sphere.

More to come, in other words. Here’s the initial word in the meantime:

days-of-darkness-festival-poster

Maryland Deathfest presents: Days of Darkness Festival

October 28 & 29, 2017 @ Rams Head Live – Baltimore, MD

Lineup:
Neurosis
Warning (Watching from a Distance set)
Manilla Road
Elder
GosT
Unearthly Trance
Dälek
Bongripper

A limited amount of early bird passes go on sale this Friday, February 10th at 11 am EST. Save the link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/days-of-darkness-festival-tickets-31832083619

Many more bands will be announced soon!

https://www.facebook.com/events/257886397969977/
http://www.facebook.com/daysofdarknessfestival
https://www.facebook.com/MarylandDeathfest/

Warning, Watching from a Distance (2006)

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Unearthly Trance Confirm Feb. 24 Release for Stalking the Ghost; New Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Jeez, Unearthly Trance. Save some crushing misanthropy for the rest of the class, would you? Or, you know, don’t. It would seem the intervening six-plus years have done little to dull the multifaceted intensity of the Brooklyn extreme sludge outfit, though that genre descriptor does little to capture their actual stylistic swath, which is just as likely to pull from death or black metal as from a meaty stoner riff.

Their last album, V (review here), came out in 2010, and in addition to essentially having picked up where they left off in terms of releasing through Relapse Records — that should say something in itself about the persistent appeal of the band; “Oh hey it’s been more than half a decade mind putting this out alright cool” — and having been recently confirmed to take part in Roadburn 2017 with more fest announcements to come, the trio have set a Feb. 24 release for Stalking the Ghost, their sixth full-length, and unveiled the track “Dream State Arsenal,” which if you’re feeling daring you can hear below.

Cover art is by Orion Landau, and not that you need me to tell you, but it’s pretty awesome.

From the PR wire:

unearthly trance stalking the ghost

UNEARTHLY TRANCE Announces New Album Stalking The Ghost; Premieres First Single

New York City sludge/doom/drone trio UNEARTHLY TRANCE reemerges from the shadows with Stalking The Ghost, their sixth full-length recording and first album in over seven years.

February 24th, 2017 will see the worldwide release of Stalking The Ghost via Relapse Records on CD, LP, and digital formats. Physical preorders and bundles are available via Relapse.com HERE and digital downloads can be preordered via Bandcamp at THIS LOCATION.

An esoteric ritual of seismic doom, Stalking The Ghost taps into the darkest realms of the occult over the course of seven tracks that reek of utter despair. Forming a balance between slow-churning maelstrom and spine-chilling harmony, wrapped beneath a blackened cloud of rumbling feedback, UNEARTHLY TRANCE sounds more powerful and exploratory than ever before. Recorded at Menegroth/The Thousand Caves Studios by Colin Marston (Krallice, Gorguts, Panopticon) and featuring cover art by Orion Landau (Yob, Red Fang, Graves At Sea), Stalking The Ghost restores misery to a gentrifying city.
Stalking The Ghost Track Listing:
1. Into The Spiral
2. Dream State Arsenal
3. Sycthe
4. Famine
5. Lion Strength
6. Invisible Butchery
7. The Great Cauldron
8. In The Forests Keep
In related news, UNEARTHLY TRANCE has been confirmed for next year’s prestigious Roadburn Festival with additional live dates to be announced soon.

UNEARTHLY TRANCE:
4/20/2017 Roadburn – Tilburg, NL

Hailing from Long Island/Brooklyn, New York, UNEARTHLY TRANCE was forged in 2000 by Ryan Lipynsky (guitar, vocals) and Jay Newman (bass), with Darren Verni (drums) joining the following year. Over the past fifteen-plus years, the trio has been creating the loudest, most harrowing blackened doom/sludge in the region. UNEARTHLY TRANCE established their early defining sound with the release of their first two full-lengths (2003’s Season Of Séance, Science Of Silence and 2004’s In The Red) released on Lee Dorrian’s Rise Above Records.

In 2006, UNEARTHLY TRANCE signed with Relapse Records and released three more critically acclaimed full-lengths (2006’s The Trident, 2008’s Electrocution, and 2010’s V) exposing the world to a palpable growth in their doom/sludge foundation and well-crafted songwriting. Over the years, the band has brought their crushing live show across North America, the UK, and Europe with legendary and acclaimed acts such as Electric Wizard, The Melvins, High On Fire, Grief, Sunn O))), Pelican, Sleep, Morbid Angel, Floor, Autopsy, Crowbar, and more.

http://www.facebook.com/UnearthlyTrance
https://unearthlytrance.bandcamp.com/album/stalking-the-ghost
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.twitter.com/RelapseRecords

Unearthly Trance, “Dream State Arsenal”

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Roadburn 2017: My Dying Bride, Scissorfight, Backwoods Payback, Come to Grief and More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn 2017 banner

Roadburn 2017 adds 26 new bands to its lineup. Let me spell that out: TWENTY-SIX. And from My Dying Bride to Sumac to Scissorfight to Memoriam to Valborg, it’s precisely the kind of all-things-to-all-people mix that one has come to expect from the annual April festival, promising an experience like no other in John Dyer Baizley‘s curated event, as well as sets from the likes of Gong and Backwoods Payback and Suma and Unearthly Trance, the latter two who were former US tourmates once upon a time and will reunite in Tilburg this coming Spring. Blown away by how huge this event has become, and how every year it just seems to keep growing and moving forward. Sit back and look at the poster below for today’s adds. It’s astounding.

Tickets on sale now. From the PR wire:

roadburn-2017-new-adds-my-dying-bride

Twenty six new bands added to the Roadburn 2017 line up

My Dying Bride will take to the Roadburn stage for the first time
David Tibet and Youth will perform as Hypnopaz?zu
Wolves In The Throne Room return from hibernation
Memoriam breathe new life into death metal
Wear Your Wounds show a different side to Jacob Bannon as part of John Dyer Baizley’s curation
Carpenter Brut take synthwave to new and exciting places
Those Poor Bastards conjure up the image of two undead holy preachers
….and more

MY DYING BRIDE:
My Dying Bride have been confirmed to make their Roadburn Festival debut at the 2017 edition of the festival. As one of the leading lights of metal during the 90s, where they helped to further define what doom metal really was and where it could still go, this West Yorkshire bunch earned a place in metal history. They’ve done it all and somehow have managed to remain fresh and inventive.

The influential British doom band will perform a suitably mournful doom-filled set on Saturday, 22 April, 2017 at the 013 venue.
Read more about My Dying Bride here.

HYPNOPAZ?ZU:
It’s PixieTime

Girls and Boys—

For our HypnoPickNick

Bring Moons and Toys!

We are thrilled to announce that Hypnopaz?zu (David Tibet of Current 93 and Youth of Killing Joke) will perform at Roadburn Festival 2017, alongside Ulver, on Sunday, April 23 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands. Their album, Create Christ, Sailor Boy, ranks among our albums of the year at Roadburn HQ, and we cannot wait to witness it brought to life on stage at Roadburn 2017.

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM:

Wolves In The Throne Room will be returning to Europe for the first time since 2012, and since they announced their subsequent hiatus. The band will steer away from the ambient and ethereal landscapes they created on their 2014 album Celestite, instead setting their sights on the more raw and earthy sounds from earlier in their back catalogue. Whatever choice cuts they select to serve up, the set is sure to be a masterclass in atmospheric black metal from one of the most important bands to leave their mark on the genre in recent years.

Wolves In The Throne Room will play at Roadburn Festival 2017 on Thursday, April 20, at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

MEMORIAM:

Bolt Thrower’s Karl Willetts started Memoriam as “a celebration of life through death metal”, and the results are exactly as one might expect. Having recruited Benediction bassist, Frank Healy, former Bolt Thrower drummer, Andy Whale, plus guitarist Scott Fairfax, Memoriam are clearly on an old school, death metal mission.

Willetts commented: “Memoriam are pleased to announce that they will be playing at the acclaimed Roadburn festival in 2017.

“We have seen this festival grow over the years and for us to be among the illustrious selection of bands playing this year is an honour!!! With our debut album to be released sometime early 2017 Roadburn will give us the opportunity to showcase our new material. Memoriam will unleash its devastating weaponry upon Roadburn 2017 and provide a true celebration of life through old school death metal.”

Follow Memoriam onward into battle on Saturday, 22 April when they play at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

WEAR YOUR WOUNDS:

Wear Your Wounds – Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon’s intensely personal project – is an outlet he has been quietly feeding over the years, a repository for his lo-fi solo recordings that will now finally see the light. Scheduled for April 7th, just a couple of weeks before Roadburn, Wear Your Wounds’ first self-titled full length has us sitting on our hands with excitement.

John Dyer Baizley comments:
“I’ve never seen them perform (who has, really?) so it goes without saying that I will be front and center for this moment. The lineup for Wear Your Wounds will include the following, in addition to Jake Bannon himself: Chris Maggio (Sleigh Bells, Trap Them, Coliseum), Mike Mckenzie (The Red Chord, Stomach Earth, Unraveller) Adam McGrath (Cave In, Zozobra, Nomad Stones), and Sean Martin (Hatebreed, Twitching Tongues, Kid Cudi, Cage). Don’t let that list fool you, THIS IS NOT A SUPERGROUP, but its hard to deny the talent and power within those musicians and collaborators. Please don’t miss the opportunity to witness their first-ever performance.”

CARPENTER BRUT:

Carpenter Brut take the essence of metal that you like, the parts of techno that you used to like and the atmospheric film music of Carpenter/Argento/Goblin that you love, to create a heady, melodic and intense genre. This French outfit is taking the synthwave to new and exciting places.

Carpenter Brut play on Saturday, 22 April at the 013 venue, Tilburg.

THOSE POOR BASTARDS:

Sounding like two undead holiness preachers, crawling out of an abandoned Mississippi graveyard consumed by the foul bog and delivering their message of the endtimes, Those Poor Bastards will hover around the next edition of Roadburn determined to convince you that your eternal soul is already damned beyond redemption.

With the devil on their trail and the graveyard constantly looming ahead, Those Poor Bastards will ruin Het Patronaat when they play their ghoulish songs on Thursday, 20 April at Roadburn 2017 in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

ALSO CONFIRMED:

(DOLCH) lined up to shapeshift and mystify
ASH BORER deliver innovative Cascadian black metal to the Roadburn masses
BACKWOODS PAYBACK deliver honest expressions of heartfelt, heavy rock and roll
CASUAL NUN to deliver downright heavy psych
COME TO GRIEF will pay homage to Grief’s legacy
EMMA RUTH RUNDLE will perform a set thick with emotion and densely packed with honesty
ESBEN AND THE WITCH promise to delight with atmospheric, apocalyptic rock
FANGE make their debut with heaps of D-Beat and amplifier worship
GONG will lead us into psych rock sonic anarchy
NO SPILL BLOOD to demonstrate a fusion of muscular, sludgy punk energy and swirling synthesiser noise as part of John Dyer Baizley’s curated event.
OXBOW will release their next album, Thin Black Duke, shortly ahead of their Roadburn performance
SCISSORFIGHT promise to “unleash some New Hampshire backwoods debauchery”
SUMA bring their abrasive doom from Sweden
SUMAC sees the return of Aaron Turner to Roadburn with his denser-than-a-black-hole outfit
UNEARTHLY TRANCE set to combine the nihilism and confrontational approach of real sludge, both in lyrics and in actual musical delivery
VALBORG return to deliver another dose of their bleakly elegant presence.
VANUM will set Roadburn ablaze with a blend of icy melody and blackened atmospheric majesty
WOLVENNEST will churn up some utterly hypnotic, sonik soundscapery
YOUTH CODE show off their aggressive and expansive modern take on the EBM sounds of the 80s as part of John Dyer Baizley’s curated event.

Artists already announced for Roadburn 2017 include Coven, Warning (playing Watching from a Distance in full), Artists in Residence – GNOD, Mysticum, Oranssi Pazuzu, Deafheaven, Chelsea Wolfe, and our 2017 curator, John Baizley who will perform with Baroness, plus many more. Roadburn Festival will take place 20-23 April, 2017 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets are on sale for Roadburn 2017 and can be purchased from this link.
4 day – 195 Euro
3 day (Thu, Fri, Sat) – 172 Euro
Single day ticket, Sunday only – 54 Euro

Thursday, Friday and Saturday single day tickets will be on sale at a later date.

http://www.roadburn.com/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://twitter.com/roadburnfest

Scissorfight, Chaos County (2016)

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