Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight Post “Evil” from Movin’ On Sessions

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

trippy wicked

With an opening riff that channels Phantom of the Opera, Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight dig back into their past to unveil “Evil.” It’s not a Willie Dixon cover, which was my first thought — you might recall Cactus‘ version of that song on Restrictions, among many others — but the seven-minute piece comes from the sessions of 2009’s debut full-length, Movin’ On (review here), and in honor of the record’s 10th anniversary and the recently announced reformation of that lineup, they will post a series of lost tracks from that era. There are three of them and “Evil” is the first. The next, I’m sure, will be posted as soon as this goes live — because that’s how good my timing usually is in terms of making sure I’m constantly behind on everything — but until then, you can enjoy “Evil” at the bottom of this post. Nostalgia achieved, gents.

And that’s a quick 10 years.

From the PR wire:

trippy wicked evil

Trippy Wicked release previously unreleased track “Evil” from Movin On recording sessions

Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight recently announced original drummer Chris West is back in the band after a five-year departure. Given that the band also announced they were writing new material, you would be forgiven for asking why they are now releasing material from a decade ago.

Well, October 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of the band’s debut album, Movin On. During the recording session at Chuckalumba Studios (most noted for being the studio Electric Wizard recorded Dopethrone and Let Us Pray), Trippy Wicked recorded some songs that either didn’t get an official release or have never been heard.

To mark the anniversary Trippy Wicked are releasing these songs as singles and the first of these comes in the form of “Evil’. The song had appeared on an earlier demo but this version gets the full ‘blown out amps committed to tape’ treatment that Chuckalumba does so well.

Singer Pete Holland commented on the inspiration behind “Evil”:
“Evil is about the oppression from forces that try to dictate how you should live your life, and trying to break that train of thought to be free to imagine the life you want.”

Listen to the song on all major platforms here: http://smarturl.it/TrippyEvil

https://www.facebook.com/trippywicked
https://www.instagram.com/trippywicked
https://www.twitter.com/trippywicked
https://trippywicked.bandcamp.com/
https://www.trippywicked.band/

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, “Evil”

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Spiral Grave Sign to Salt of the Earth Records; Premiere “Nothing” Lyric Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

You knew someone was going to step up and snag Spiral Grave for an initial release, whether it was Argonauta Records, with whom frontman Dee Calhoun works on his solo stuff, or Shadow Kingdom, which has in the past released outings from Iron Man, or somebody else. The label pulling this oh-so-doomly rabbit out of its hat is Salt of the Earth Records out of Connecticut, and they’ll release the band’s debut single, from which you can hear the premiere of the track “Nothing” in the lyric video at the bottom of this post.

A debut album is slated to follow either late this year or early in 2020, but Spiral Grave have been gearing up with live shows over the last month in their native Chesapeake region, and they’ll make their first appearance outside those geographical confines next month at the New England Stoner and Doom Festival, in which Salt of the Earth also has a hand. Given the band’s pedigree in Iron Man and Lord — a perennial favorite who were underrated from their outset to their demise — to say I’m looking forward to their set would be something of an understatement.

The PR wire has the signing announcement:

spiral grave

Spiral Grave – Salt of the Earth Records

SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS is proud to announce the addition of Maryland Doom cult SPIRAL GRAVE to their roster.

Spiral Grave is comprised of the three surviving members of IRON MAN in vocalist “Screaming Mad” Dee Calhoun, bassist “Iron” Louis Strachan and drummer Mot Waldmann, as well as former LORD guitarist Willy Rivera, whose sharp-edged riffing sets the mood for the band as heavy-as-hell aggressive doom.

“The music Spiral Grave is creating is some of the most ferocious doom metal I have heard. Ever. They take tradition and fury, and melt them together for a devastating ride.” – Scott Of The Earth

SPIRAL GRAVE recently recorded two songs for an upcoming CD single release, which will be followed by a full-length release late-2019/early-2020. The band will be performing at The New England Stoner and Doom Festival next month (May 3-5) at Altones Music Hall in Jewett City CT. Tickets are available at www.NewEnglandStonerAndDoomFest.com

Preorder your CD Single @ www.SaltOfTheEarthRecords.com

Spiral Grave live:
May 3-5 Altone’s Music Hall Jewett City CT – New England Stoner & Doom Fest II
June 8 Guido’s Speakeasy Frederick MD

Spiral Grave is:
Screaming Mad Dee – voice
Willy Rivera – guitars
“Iron” Louis Strachan – bass
Jason “Mot” Waldmann – drums

https://www.facebook.com/SpiralGrave/
www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec
www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Spiral Grave, “Nothing” lyric video

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Astral Hand Release Debut Single “Universe Machine”

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

astral hand

Perhaps you feel the galaxy could stand a good smiting. Fair. Meet Astral Hand from Milwaukee. The band arrive as the result of a maybe-permanent teardown of their former outfit Calliope, whose third and seemingly final album, Chapel Perilous (discussed here), came out last year. Same dudes, new vibe, new name. Their first offering under the Astral Hand banner is “Universe Machine,” which indeed resolves its space-rocky groove with the noted threat of smiting, and which for something that sets such dire stakes is still a pretty good time. It’s a shift in sound, but they pretty obviously know what they’re doing with it. Not exactly like they’re strangers to each other.

You can hear the track here, and it’s a free download as well, because it’s the future and the future is in space.

Info follows. Have at it:

astral hand universe machine

Astral Hand – Universe Machine

Over the course of the past year the 4 members of ASTRAL HAND have been carefully programming their very first radio transmission. Al Kraemer, Vic Buell, Anthony Smith and Dan Dahl step away from their previous sonic incarnation, CALLIOPE, to allow for the expansion into something brand new. After spending 7 years on three full length albums through a changing member lineup, it was time to move on from the psychedelic circus. This may not be the end of Calliope, but it is ‘farewell for now’ as the band turns away from the past and into the future.

Channeling a much more cosmic spirit, ASTRAL HAND uses pop-sensitive, synth-driven melodies accompanied by tastefully heavy guitars and thundering drums for a deeper sound that will completely stand alone from their other projects. Expect the unexpected when their first album drops later this year. In the meantime, experience ‘UNIVERSE MACHINE’ and learn to fear the wrath of the flippant cosmic deities known collectively as ASTRAL HAND.

I’ll smite your galaxy
With my Universe Machine

Released April 1, 2019
Recorded at Silver City Studios
Mixed by Victor Buell IV
Mastered by Justin Perkins @ The Mystery Room

Astral Hand:
Al Kraemer: Vocals / Organ
Victor Buell IV: Guitar
Anthony Smith: Bass
Dan Dahl: Drums

https://www.facebook.com/astralhandband/
https://astralhand.bandcamp.com/

Astral Hand, “Universe Machine”

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The Druids, Totem: Effigy and Elogy

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

the druids totem

Riding a silver machine in search of elusive truth, Maryland’s The Druids make an encouraging full-length debut with Totem, which follows behind a few likewise-digital odds and ends, including an untitled 2016 EP and a couple singles here and there. They’ve used pseudonyms all along, but would seem to be transitioning out of that, as guitarist/vocalists Eli “Stone Druid” Watson and Danny “Spacehawk” Alger and bassist Jeremy “Weed Warlock” Dinges introduce drummer Gary “Iceman” Isom to the lineup. Isom, of course, has a pedigree in Maryland heavy that includes drum stints in Pentagram and Iron Man, King Valley and Nitroseed, as well as Shine/Spirit Caravan and, currently, playing guitar in Weed is Weed and fronting Electropathic. As Spirit Caravan are a primary influence for The Druids, he’s an excellent fit here on songs like opener “Cruising Astral Skies” and the wah-swirling “Sorcerers,” as the band push earthy visions of heavy into cosmic reaches — or, at least, they begin the process of doing so.

There’s a jammy undercurrent not just to the nine-minute “Hawkwind,” or the later “Turtles Dream,” but that serves as the foundation to even the more structured material like the duly Southern-tinged “Moonshine Witch” and the it’s-called-“lead-guitar”-because-you-follow-it “Atlantean,” which departs its early verses for solo-laced oblivion past the halfway point. There’s a cross-generational element at play, between Isom and WatsonAlger and Dinges, but that does nothing to interrupt the overall fluidity of Totem or bring any sense of incongruity to the band’s style. If anything, the inclusion of Isom seems to have tightened The Druids‘ songwriting approach, as heard in “Turtles Dream,” which takes elements from “Turtles” and “Dreams” from the EP and combined them into one progression. “Hawkwind” is an exception and clearly intended as such, but most of the material on Totem is shorter and more structurally sound, so that even as The Druids decide to take off on the occasional interstellar trip, they have solid ground from which to launch. That provides balance for the listener making their unsuspecting way through, and sees moments like the drift in the concluding “Sky Submarine” all the more effective.

Interestingly, Totem seems to be rawer in its production than was the EP. Listening to the sample from The Wild Angels that lets “Sorcerers” open what would be side B on a vinyl release before giving way to the trippier “Turtles Dream,” “High Society” and “Sky Submarine,” there’s an almost garage-psych sensibility to what The Druids conjure here, with a grit cast on some of the shimmer in the guitars their last time out. Could be a circumstance of recording live as they did, or could be a purposeful aesthetic choice on their part — I don’t think we can know until their next time out, but it enhances the ride that is “Cruising Astral Skies” and makes the nodding “Atlantean” all the more of a wash of dirty fuzz, classically doomed in the Maryland tradition, but not necessarily beholden to Maryland doom in terms of its psychedelic vibe and general stoned fuckall.

the druids

The leadoff and “Moonshine Witch” might be as straightforward as The Druids get, but even the second of those makes its way out on a solo, leaving behind the expectation that they might return to the verse or chorus and instead just jamming its way to wherever it might end up — the start of “Sorcerers,” as it happens. With Totem being the band’s first long-player, it’s hard to guess how that will ultimately develop in their sound — but that only makes the album more exciting to hear, since the four-piece have already essentially carved an identity for themselves that spans subgenres from psych to heavy rock to classic-style garage bikerism and more. Further, they vary that departure from core structure, so that “Atlantean” might not make its way back, but the would-be anthem “High Society” does, at least instrumentally, and even though they’re long-since gone by the time they get there, the sample at the end of “Hawkwind” works to tie that song together with “Atlantean” as well, so that side A ends up with an overarching symmetry one way or the other as “Cruising Astral Skies” and “Moonshine Witch” bookend the two jammier pieces.

Mark it a win, move on, wait for the next one? Okay, sure, but I think if you do, you’re missing out on a bit of the nuance The Druids have to offer. Not so much in terms of the technicality of what they do — though the solos are impressive and their tones are intricate — but stylistically overall. It’s easy, particularly for the converted, to listen to Totem and get where The Druids are coming from. And for some, that’s enough, but to take that approach misses perhaps the bigger picture of what’s at play throughout these songs in terms of bringing a generational freshness to these ideas and aesthetic elements. The Druids‘ raw fuzz is informed of course by the heavy rock that’s gone before it, but the homage they pay comes with a youthful vigor and an unfaded luster.

This, quite simply, is how rock and roll has survived despite being cast as dead — and maybe being dead — as a commercial enterprise. It has been handed from one group to the next. I won’t deign to predict where The Druids will go from their debut in terms of style or substance, but already in these songs they show a genuine affinity for heavy modes of expression and they work to make them their own with a quality of craft and a variety of moods. There isn’t much more one could reasonably ask of a young band putting out their first record. So yeah, one could dig into Totem and think “that’s cool,” grab a download or whatever and be done, or one could perhaps realize that even the name of the album speaks to a sense of monument-building and that essentially that’s what the band are doing in entering this conversation with their influences. The potential that gives them for moving forward and continuing to make those influences theirs is writ large throughout this material, and to miss that is missing the larger picture of what they accomplish here.

The Druids, Totem (2019)

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The Druids on Bandcamp

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Slush Premiere “On the Silver Globe” from Lizard Skin

Posted in audiObelisk on March 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

slush

Brooklyn trio Slush make an offering of Lizard Skin on March 29, self-releasing the seven-song/50-minute long-player as their follow-up to the fuckall charm of 2016’s American Demons (review here). An current of experimentalism runs beneath the tube-blower fuzz of songs like “Golden Seam” and the slow-marching “Skeleton Queen,” prevailing through a sashimi-raw production that makes its anti-presence felt quickly on opening track “Graveyard,” however misleading — and there’s intent behind that, make no mistake — the leadoff’s punkishness might otherwise be, like if Ramones grew up listening to Nebula, or maybe the other way around.

Fuck it. Point is, Slush come out throwing curves at your head, and that doesn’t really stop just because once “Graveyard” and “Golden Seam” lead into the title-track and “Skeleton Queen” there’s a little bit of context for comparison. It’s freaked out. Not in the same way as the psych-blamo of the three-piece’s alter-ego unit Hot Knives — why not combine the two bands; Hot Slush; you’re welcome — but freaked out enough to make the title-track a down-home acoustic grunge number with a considered arrangement of backing vocals and some accomplished noodling. Because when you’re going to have expectation take a back seat, you might as well just tie it to the roof of the car instead.

Them Slushies cap side A with the slow-nodding tonal thickness slush lizard skinof “Skeleton Queen” and drift into hypnosis past the halfway-point of the tracklist centerpiece only to cut to feedback and turn out a more active ending, driven there by the restless drums of Tom Barnes as bassist Joe Dahlstrom and guitarist/vocalist Alex Boehm careen around the newfound central groove. It’s plenty heavy but a locked in moment all the same and soothing for that, a quick bit of security ahead of the B side’s own headed-out movement, which begins with “Megalodon,” renewing the vocal approach of “Graveyard” atop a shuffling progression that leads to a noisy solo late in the track with enough swagger that it’s easy to roll with it.

And of course before they get down to business in the 12-minute let’s-just-do-it-all-at-once finale “On the Silver Globe,” there’s “Cortex the Killer,” a mostly-instrumental (but for the last minute or so) exploration of Western-style acoustics and string-ish drone that’s no less trance-inducing than anything “Skeleton Queen” brought forth, but of course in its own context. And maybe it’s the initial lumber of “On the Silver Globe” that takes my weary head to the Melvins, but the start is barely the start of what the capper has to say, digging into earliest-Electric Wizard-style unabashed Sabbathery with reckless glee and teasing the inevitable into-oblivion jam a couple times before the actual point of departure. I won’t spoil it, but once you’re inside, there’s no getting out. Not that you’re looking for one.

The thing about even that stretch of freaky freaked-out freakery though is that Slush know what they’re doing, and that’s where the biggest distinction comes in between Lizard Skin and American Demons. For sure, both have exploration as a key component, and I expect and hope that would continue to be the case with whatever Slush might do next, but there’s a sense of purpose behind these songs that brings them to a different level in terms of execution. Side A makes that plain and side B reinforces it, with “On the Silver Globe” as something of a victory lap for the accomplishment of their intent.

Keep an open mind and check out the premiere of “On the Silver Globe” via the player below. Some comment from the band follows. Album is out Friday.

Please enjoy:

Slush on “On the Silver Globe”:

“On the Silver Globe” is a stolen title — I got it from a movie by Andrzej Zulawski, one of my favorite directors (most famous for his gorey, psychedelic rumination on infidelity, Possession, starring Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani). Silver Globe was supposed to be Zulawski’s magnum opus. It’s a visually stunning sci-fi masterpiece to rival the best by Tarkovsky, but to make a long story short it’s a miracle the film ever got made (look it up! the history of the movie itself is wild).

Sonically, I was really trying to stuff everything I love about rock and roll into one song. I wanted to weave blown-out, dense riffs with a heavy garage drone and still maintain a hypnotic, entrancing effect throughout… I remember bringing it to the band and Joe and Tom gave real movement to it right away, which was the missing necessary element for such an excessive, indulgent song. It always feels good when a song clicks right away. Although my memory is terrible, generally speaking, I do recall playing it for the first time and us all taking it in the same direction pretty much instinctively.

The undulating feel Joe and Tom both give the song also inspired the lyrics, which loosely allude to a Lovecraftian tale of human sacrifice by drowning and subsequent transcendence into outer space. Each song on Lizard Skin has a similar underlying narrative and together they compose a complete, semi-secret story that lies beneath the album’s surface. As the last song on the album, “Silver Globe” also serves as the ending to that story.

Out March 29, Lizard Skin was self-produced and mastered by Bob Weston of Chicago Mastering, and will be pressed as a double LP on natural white vinyl.

SLUSH is:
Joe Dahlstrom (bass)
Tom Barnes (drums)
Alex Boehm (guitar and vocals)

Slush on Instagram

Slush on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Bellrope, Cracked Machine, The Sky Giants, Sacred Monster, High ‘n’ Heavy, Warlung, Rogue Conjurer, Monovine, Un & Coltsblood, La Grande Armée

Posted in Reviews on March 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Six. Not that there wasn’t a bit of a crunch along the way, but I definitely think this Quarterly Review was aided by the fact that I dug so much of what I was writing about on a personal-taste level. You get through it one way or the other, but it just makes it more fun. Today is the last day and then it’s back to something approaching normal tomorrow, but of course before this thing is rounded out I want to thank you as always for taking the time and for reading if you did. It means a tremendous amount to me to put words out and have people see them, so thank you for your part in that.

This could’ve easily gone seven or eight or 10 days if scheduling had permitted, but here’s as good a place to leave it. The next one will probably be the first week of July or thereabouts, so keep an eye out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Bellrope, You Must Relax

bellrope you must relax

How much noise can your brain take? I don’t mean noise like start-stop riffs and dudes shouting. I mean actual, abrasive, amelodic noise. Bellrope, with ex-members of the underrated Black Shape of Nexus start their Exile on Mainstream-delivered debut album, You Must Relax, with three minutes of chaff-separation they’re calling “Hollywood 2001/Rollrost.” It’s downright caustic. Fortunately, what follows on the four subsequent extended tracks devotes itself to lumbering post-sludge that’s at least accessible by comparison. “Old Overholt” is the only other inclusion under 10 minutes as the tracks are arranged shortest to longest with the 17:57 “CBD/Hereinunder” concluding. The thickened tones brought to bear throughout “Old Overholt” and the blend of screams and growls that accompany are more indicative of what follows on the centerpiece title-track and the penultimate “TD2000,” but the German four-piece still manage to sound plenty fucked throughout. Just not painfully so. There’s something threatening about the use of the word “must” in the album’s title. The songs realize that threat.

Bellrope on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Cracked Machine, The Call of the Void

Cracked Machine The Call of the Void

Here be dragons. Though its core tonality is still within the bounds of heavy rock, Wiltshire, UK, four-piece bring a far more atmospheric and progressive style to fruition on their second album, The Call of the Void, than it might at first appear. With post-rock float to the guitar of Bill Denton, keyboard textures from Clive Noyes, and fluid rhythms carried through changes in volume and ambience from bassist Christ Sutton and drummer Blazej Gradziel, the PsyKA Records outfit present a cerebral seven tracks/47 minutes of immersive and seemingly conceptual work, with opener “Jormungandr” establishing the context in which each song that follows is named for a different culture’s dragon, whether it’s the Hittite “Illuyanka,” Japan’s “Yamata No Orochi” or the Persian “Azi Dahakar.” Cracked Machine use this theme to tie pieces together, and they push farther out as the record unfolds late with “Typhon” and “Vritra” a closing pair of marked scope. The shortest cut, the earlier 5:14 “Kirimu,” has probably the most straightforward push, but Cracked Machine demonstrate an ability to adapt to the needs of whatever idea they’re working to convey.

Cracked Machine on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records webstore

 

The Sky Giants, The Shifting of Phaseworld

the sky giants the shifting of phaseworld

Taking cues from psychedelia almost as much as jangly West Coast noise and punk, Tacoma, Washington’s The Sky Giants offer the 10-track sophomore outing The Shifting of Phaseworld, which finds a balance in songs like “Dream Receiver” between progressive heavy rock and its rawer foundations. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Jake Frye, bassist Jessie Avery and drummer/vocalist/engineer/graphic artist Peter Tietjen are comfortable tipping from one side to the other between and within songs, starting off with the shove of “Technicolor Kaleidoscope” and getting mathy on the later “Half Machine” ahead of the chunkier-riffed “Rhyme and the Flame,” which somehow touches on classic punk even as it hones a wash of distortion that that has to cut through. Closing each side with a longer track in the rolling, airy “Solid State” (6:53) and the frenetic ending of “Simian” (7:38), The Sky Giants stake out a sonic terrain very much their own throughout The Shifting of Phaseworld and only seem to expand their territory as they go.

The Sky Giants on Thee Facebooks

The Sky Giants on Bandcamp

 

Sacred Monster, Worship the Weird

sacred monster worship the weird

Topped off by the ace screams of vocalist Adam Szczygiel, who taps his inner Devin Townsend circa Strapping Young Lad on “High Confessor” and “Re-Animator,” Sacred Monster‘s debut album, Worship the Weird would seem to cull together elements of Orange Goblin and Bongzilla for a kind of classic-metal-aware sludge rock, the riffs of Robert Nubel not at all shy about digging into aggressive vibes to go with the layers of growls and throatrippers and the occasional King Diamond-esque falsetto, as on “Waverly Hills,” as bassist Guillermo Moreno and drummer Ted Nubel bolster that feel with tight turns and duly driven bottom end. I’ll take “Face of My Father” as a highlight, if only for the excruciating sound of Szczygiel‘s screech, but the swing in closer “Maze of Dreams” has an appeal of its own, and as a Twilight Zone and a Shatner fan, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” offers its own charm.

Sacred Monster on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Monster on Bandcamp

 

High n’ Heavy, Warrior Queen

high n heavy warrior queen

Shades of grunge and skate-fuzz fuckall pervade the Sabbathian grooves of High n’ Heavy‘s second album, Warrior Queen, as guitarist John Steele works some doomly keys into second cut “Shield Maiden” and vocalist Kris Fortin moves in and out of throaty shouts on side B’s “Lydia.” They thrash out in the noisy “Catapult” and Nick Perrone‘s drums seem to bounce even in the longer-winded “Lands Afar” and closer “Smell of Decay / Wings and Claw,” on which Mike Dudley‘s rumble backs classically metallic shred in the lead guitar after offering likewise support to the piano in the early going of “Join the Day.” Released through Electric Valley Records, the eight-song/36-minute LP comes across as raw but not without purpose in that, and its blend of tonal thickness and the blend of thrust and nod does well to ensure High n’ Heavy remain unpredictable while also living up to the standard of their moniker. There’s potential here that’s worth further exploration on the part of the band.

High n’ Heavy on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Warlung, Immortal Portal

Warlung Immortal Portal

Houston, Texas, four-piece make a quick case for the attention of Ripple Music on their sophomore outing, Immortal Portal, which is slickly-but-not-too-slickly produced and sharply-but-not-too-sharply executed, a professional sensibility in “Black Horse Pike” and the subsequent “The Palm Reader” — which manages to be influenced melodically by Uncle Acid without sounding just like them — ahead of the ’80s metallurgy of “Heart of a Sinner” and the reference-packed “1970.” “We All Die in the End” gives an uptempo swing to the opening salvo ahead of the more brooding “Between the Dark and the Light,” but Warlung hold firm to clearly-presented melodies and riff-led rhythms no matter where they seem to go in mood or otherwise. That ties the drift of the later “Heavy Echoes” to the earlier material and makes the harmony-laced “No Son of Mine” and the organ-ic proggy sprawling finale “Coal Minors” all the more effective in reaching beyond where the album started, so that the listener winds up in a different landscape than they started, still grounded, but changed nonetheless.

Warlung on Thee Facebooks

Warlung on Bandcamp

 

Rogue Conjurer, Of the Goddess / Crystal Mountain Lives

rogue conjurer of the goddess

Originally released digitally by the Baltimore-based unit in 2017, the two-songer Of the Goddess / Crystal Mountain Lives sees pressing as an ultra-limited tape via Damien Records and finds the three-piece of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Tonie Joy, drummer Colin Seven and organist Donny Van Zandt — since replaced by Trevor Shipley — honing a psychedelic take on doomly riffs and groove. “Crystal Mountain Lives” has a more distinct nod to its central progression, with a wah-drenched break and greater overall largesse of fuzz, but “Of the Goddess” brings an effective almost shoegazing sense to its downer spirit. The first track is also longer, so it has more time to move from that initial impression to its own payoff, but either way you go, Rogue Conjurer bring out their dead ably on the tape, showing influences from heavy psych and beyond as “Of the Goddess” winds its way to its close and “Crystal Mountain Lives” begins its fade-in all over again. No pretense, but a broad range that would allow for some if they wanted.

Rogue Conjurer on Instagram

Damien Records on Bandcamp

 

Monovine, D.Y.E

monovine dye

Athens heavy rockers Monovine wear their grunge influence proudly on their third full-length, D.Y.E, issued late in 2018 digitally with an early 2019 vinyl release. It’s writ large in the Nirvana-ism of the slurring “Mellow” at the outset and remains a factor through the melodies of “Void” and the later punkery of “Messed Up” or “Ring a Bell,” as well as the toying-with-pop “Me (Raphe Nuclei)” and “Your Figure Smells,” but where Monovine succeed in making that influence their own is by filtering it through a fuzzier presentation. The guitar and bass tones keep a modern heavy feel, and as the drums roll and crash through songs like “For a Sun” and “Why Don’t You Shoot Me in the Head,” that makes a difference in the overall impression the album leaves. Still, there’s little question as to their central point of inspiration, and they bring it out in homage and as a fairly honed mode of expression on closer “Haunt,” which teases an explosion in its melancholy strum and then… well, don’t let me spoil it.

Monovine on Thee Facebooks

Monovine on Bandcamp

 

Un & Coltsblood, Split

un coltsblood split

A festering 42 minutes of lurching agonies, Un and Coltsblood‘s split taps the best of modern death-doom’s emotionalism and bent toward extremity. Billed as a “tribute to grief: the final act of love,” it brings just two tracks, one per band, as Coltsblood open with “Snows of the Winter Realm” and Un follow with “Every Fear Illuminated.” Both bands proffer a terrifyingly weighted plod and offset it with a spacious ambience, whether it’s Un departing their grueling nod after about six and a half minutes only to build back up over the next six and grow more ferocious until devolving into noise and slamming crashes ahead of an outro of echoing, needs-a-tune-sounding piano, or Coltsblood fostering their own tonal brutalism and casting their lot with death and black metal while a current of airy guitar seems to mourn the song even as it plays out. Each cut is a monument built to loss, and their purpose in conveying that theme is both what unites them and what makes their work so ultimately consuming, as grief is.

Un on Thee Facebooks

Coltsblood on Thee Facebooks

 

La Grande Armée, La Grande Armée

La Grande Armée La Grande Armée

The blend of drifting guitar and psychedelic wash on opener “El Canto de las Ballenas” earns La Grande Armée‘s self-titled debut three-song EP immediate favor, and the patient execution they bring to the subsequent “Tripa Intergaláctica” and “Normandía,” particularly the latter, only furthers that appeal. The Chilean trio keep a decidedly natural feel to the exploratory-seeming work, and if this is them finding their sound, they seem happy to do it by losing themselves in their jams. All the better someone thought to press record, since although there’s clearly some trajectory behind the progression of songs — i.e., they know at least to a degree where they want to end up — the process of getting there comes across as spontaneous. Guitar pans channels as bass and drums hold down languid flow, and even in the more active midsection of “Tripa Intergaláctica,” La Grande Armée there’s a sense that it’s more about the space being created than the construction under way. In any case, wherever they want to head next, they would seem to have the means of travel at their disposal.

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Quarterly Review: JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Rosetta, Pendejo, Lightsabres, Witch Hazel, CBBJ, Seedium, Vorrh, Lost Relics, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Five. What would traditionally be the end of the Quarterly Review if going to six wasn’t the new going to 11. Whatever, I can hack it. The amount of good stuff included in these batches really helps. I’m not saying there are days that are a flat-out bummer, but I feel like the proportion of times in this Quarterly Review I’ve gone, “Wow, this is pretty awesome,” has seen a definite spike this time around. I won’t complain about that. Makes the whole thing fun.

Today will be no exception, and then we finish up on Monday with the last 10. Thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018

joy feat dr space live at roadburn 2018

Brought together as part of the ‘San Diego Takeover’ at Roadburn 2018 that featured a host of that city’s acts performing in an even broader host of contexts, JOY and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective took the stage at the tiny Cul de Sac near the very end of the festival. It was how I closed out my Roadburn (review here). Dr. Space did a short spoken introduction and then they were off and they didn’t look back. The centerpiece of the limited LP is an extended jam simply titled “Jam.” It’s edited on the platter, but the digital version has the full 54 minutes, and the more the merrier. They round out with takes on Road‘s “Spaceship Earth” and JOY‘s “Miles Away,” and those are cool too, but the real highlight is about halfway through the longer “Jam” when the drums kick into the next gear and you suddenly snap out of your trance to realize how far you’ve already come. And you’re still only at the midpoint. I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. So be there.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

JOY on Thee Facebooks

JOY Feat. Dr. Space at Øresund Space Collective Bandcamp

 

Rosetta, Sower of Wind

rosetta sower of wind

Philadelphia-based post-whatever-you-got outfit Rosetta continue to set their own terms with Sower of Wind, a self-recorded four-track/half-hour offering that’s something of an outgrowth of their most recent album, Utopioid. Broken into four tracks each assembled from ideas and layers churning throughout the four sections of that record, it brings out the ambient side of the band as guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Matt Weed serves as engineer for “East,” “South,” “West” and “North” as he, guitarist/keyboardist Eric Jernigan and vocalist Mike Armine — who here just adds samples and noise — construct fluid soundscapes that can either build to a head, as on “East” or offer a sense of foreboding like “West” and “North,” depending solely on the band’s will. It’s intended as an exploration, and it sounds like one, but if that wasn’t the point, Sower of Wind probably wouldn’t have been released in the first place. It’s not at all their first ambient release, but this modus continues to be viable for them creatively.

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Pelagic Records webstore

 

¡Pendejo!, Sin Vergüenza

pendejo sin verguenza

Whatever your current working definition might be for “over the top,” chances are Pendejo — also stylized as the exclamatory ¡Pendejo! — will make short work of it. Sin Vergüenza, their third long-player, sees release through their own Chancho Records imprint, and it’s not through opener “Don Gernàn” before the Amsterdam-based outfit break out the horns. Fronted by El Pastuso, who supplies the trumpet, the band roll through dense toned heavy rock in a crisply-executed, high-energy 10 tracks and 40 minutes that, even when you think they’re letting up, on the later “El Espejo,” they still manage to burst out a massive riff and groove in the second half. It’s the kind of record that’s breathtaking in the sense of you’re trying to run to keep up with its energy. That, however, should not be seen as undercutting the value of the band’s songwriting, which comes through regardless of language, and whether it’s the start-stops of “La Mala de la Tele” or the gleeful weirdo push of “Bulla,” Pendejo have their sonic terrain well staked out and know how to own it. They sound like a band who destroy live.

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Pendejo webstore

 

Lightsabres, A Shortcut to Insanity

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

It’s rare for an artist to grow less predictable over time, but Lightsabres mastermind and multi-instrumentalist John Strömshed hits that standard with his former one-man outfit. Joined by session drummer Anton Nyström, Strömshed brings forth 11 tracks of genre-bending songcraft, melding fuzz and progressive folk, downer rock and thoughtful psych, garage push with punker edge, and seemingly whatever else seems to serve the best interests of the song at hand. On “Born Screaming,” that’s a turn to classical guitar plucking sandwiched on either side by massive riffs and vocals, like that of “Tangled in Barbed Wire,” remind of a fuzz-accompanied take on Life of Agony. At just 36 minutes, A Shortcut to Insanity isn’t long by any means, but it’s not an easy album to keep up with either, as Strömshed seems to dare his listenership to hold pace with his shifts through “Cave In,” rolling opener and longest track (immediate points) “From the Demon’s Mouth” and the sweetly melodic finale “Dying on the Couch,” which is perhaps cruelest of all for leaving the listener waiting for the other shoe to drop and letting that tension hang when it’s done.

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DHU Records webstore

 

Witch Hazel, Otherworldly

Witch Hazel Otherworldly

Classic-style doom rockers Witch Hazel shift back and forth between early metal and heavy rock on their second full-length, Otherworldly, and the York, Pennsylvania, four-piece of vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn keep plenty of company in so doing, enlisting guest performances of organ and other keys throughout opener “Ghost & the Fly” and “Midnight Mist” and finding room for an entire horn section as they round out 11-minute closer “Devastator.” Elsewhere, “Meat for the Beast” and “Drinking for a Living” marry original-era heavy prog with more weighted impact, and “Zombie Flower Bloom” plays out like what might’ve happened if mid-’80s Ozzy had somehow invented stoner rock. So, you know, pretty awesome. The strut and shuffle of “Bled Dry” adds a bit of attitude late, but it’s really in cuts like the title-track and the aforementioned “Midnight Mist” earlier on that Witch Hazel showcase their formidable persona as a group.

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Witch Hazel on Bandcamp

 

CBBJ, 2018 Demo

CBBJ 2018 Demo

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get with CBBJ‘s 2018 Demo, right down to the wood paneling on the cover art. The band’s name — also written as CB/BJ — would seem to be taken from its members, Cox (that being Bryan Cox, founding drummer of Alabama Thunderpussy), Ball, Bone, and Jarvis, and as they look toward a Southern Thin Lizzy on demo finale “The Point of it All,” there’s something of a realization in what they’re putting together. It’s four tracks total, and finds some thrust in “Wreck You,” but keeps it wits there as well as in the sleazier nod of “The Climb” that precedes it as the opener and even in the penultimate “Can’t Go Home,” which gives booziest, earliest AC/DC a treatment of righteous bass. They’re apparently in the studio again now, or they just were, or will, or won’t, or up, or down, but whatever. Point is it’ll be worth keeping an ear out for when whatever comes next lands.

CBBJ on Thee Facebooks

CBBJ on Bandcamp

 

Seedium, Awake

seedium awake

Go on and get lost in the depths of Seedium‘s debut three-songer, Awake. The Polish outfit might be taking some cues as regards thickness from their countrymen in Dopelord or Spaceslug, but their instrumental tack on “Mist Haulers,” “Brain Eclipse” and “Ruina Cordis” oozes out of the speakers with right-on viscosity and comes across as infinitely stoned. The centerpiece tops 11 minutes and seems to indicate very little reason they couldn’t have pushed it another 10 had they so desired, and through “Ruina Cordis” is shorter at a paltry 7:08, its blasted sensibility and ending blend of spaciousness and swirl portends good things to come. With the murky first impression of “Mist Haulers” calling like a prayer bell to the riff-worshiping converted, Seedium very clearly know what they’re going for, and what remains to be seen is how their character and individual spin on that develops going forward. Still, for its tones alone, this first offering is a stunner.

Seedium on Thee Facebooks

Seedium on Bandcamp

 

Vorrh, Nomads of the Infinite Wild

vorrh nomads of the infinite wild

Programmed drumming gives Nomads of the Infinite Wild, the debut release from the Baltimore duo of Zinoosh Farbod and John Glennon an edge of dub, but the guitar work of songs like “Mercurial,” looped back on itself with leads layered overtop and Farbod‘s echoing vocals, remains broad, and the expansive of atmosphere puts them in a kind of meditative post-doom feel. Opener “Myths” strikes as a statement of purpose, and as “Morning Star” shows some Earth influence in the spaces left by Glennon‘s guitar, the band immediately uses that nuance to craft an individual identity. “Flood Plane” saunters through its instrumental trance before getting noisy briefly at the finish, only to let “These Eyes” work more effectively through a similar structure with Farbod on keys, seeming to set up the piano-foundation of “Ancient Divide,” which closes. This is a band who will benefit greatly from the fact that they record themselves, because they’ll have every opportunity to continue to experiment in the studio, which is exactly what they should be doing. In the meantime, Nomads of the Infinite Wild effectively heralds their potential for aesthetic innovation.

Vorrh on Thee Facebooks

Vorrh on Bandcamp

 

Lost Relics, 1st

lost relics 1st

Well, they didn’t call it 1st because it’s their eighth album. Denver noise rock trio Lost Relics debut with the aptly-titled 18-minute four-songer, bringing Neurosis-style vocal gutturalism to riffy crunch more reminiscent at times of Helmet‘s discordant heyday. Dense tonality and aggression pervade “Dead Men Don’t Need Silver,” “Scars,” the gets-raucous-later “Whip Rag” and closer “Face Grass,” which somehow brings a Clutch influence into this mix, and even more somehow makes it work, and then even more somehow indulges a bit of punk rock. The vocals and sense of tonal lumber tie it all together, but Lost Relics set a pretty wide base for themselves in these tracks, leaving one to wonder how the various elements at work might play out over the course of a longer release. As far as a debut EP goes, then, that’s the whole point of the thing, but something seems to be saying Lost Relics have more tricks up their sleeve than they’re showing here. One looks forward to finding out if that’s the case.

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Lost Relics on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Sin (Sloth), VII: Sin Seven

deadly sin sloth vii sin seven

Deadly Sin (Sloth) play the kind of sludge that knows how well and truly fucked we are. The kind of sludge that doesn’t care who’s president because either way the chicken dinner you’re cooking is packed full of hormones. The kind of sludge that well earns its Scott Stearns tape artwork. VII: Sin Seven is not at all void of melody or purpose, as “Ripping Your Flesh” and the Danziggy “Glory Bound Grave” grimly demonstrate, but even in those moments, its intent is abrasion, and even the slower march of “Icarus” seems to scathe as much as the raw gutterpunk in “F One” and opener “Exit Ramp”‘s harshest screams. Not easy listening. Not for everybody. Not really for people. It’s a malevolent bludgeoning that even in the revivalism of “Blood Bought Church” seems only to be biding its time until the next strike. It does not wait all that long.

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Ocean Districts Premiere “Funeral Parade” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ocean districts

More than seven decades later, humanity is still coming to grips with having split the atom. The capital-‘b’ Bomb and its literal and figurative fallout comprise the theme of Estonian instrumentalists Ocean Districts‘ self-released second album, Doomtowns. Like the prospects for humanity’s survival over the longer term, is something of a melancholy affair, but like a painting on a cave wall, its cry into the void would seem intended to endure past whichever of the various impending collapses we’re rightly terrified of this week. The video for “Funeral Parade,” which is the fourth of the five inclusions on the release, works with footage from the 1982 documentary The Atomic Cafe, which centers around the US governments’ efforts to downplay the effects of — as the Ferengi put it — irradiating our own planet, whether through propaganda or other means. You’ll hear references to “duck and cover” in “Funeral Parade.” My mother can tell you stories about doing drills in school hiding under her desk in case Russia dropped the Bomb.

Clearly, madness is nothing new.

But, like the 4.5 billion-year half-life of uranium 235, madness isn’t going anywhere. As might be inherent to an instrumental band, Ocean Districts never seem overly preachy or critical in their perspective — would be a challenge without lyrics — but certainly in “Funeral Parade” and the more languid “Survival City” before it, or opener “Doom Town” or the chug-and-drift of “The Trinity Gadget,” or the heavy post-rock wash of “Castle Bravo” that follows to close out, the message comes through plain nonetheless. It may not be the catastrophe du jour of our times — that’d be global warming; keep up — but it sure continues to be unfathomable by my little tiny brain how anyone ever thought introducing nuclear tests and, you know, bombs, into the planet’s biosphere was a good idea. Inquiring minds, devastated landscapes and billions of tumors want to know.

And by the way, I’m not trying to make light of nuclear weapons as a social issue. It’s fucking insane. I mean that. This month, my country was like, “Yeah whatever,” to an arms treaty with Russia. It’s not this shit went away when the “Cold War ended.” Tell that to MOABs in Iraq or any number of North Korean missile tests. Meanwhile, the singular shame of actually having dropped a bomb in an act of aggression — let alone two? Yeah, that’s something particularly American. The list goes, sadly, on.

But hey! Here’s a video premiere.

Have fun with it:

Ocean Districts, “Funeral Parade” official video premiere

Official music video for “Funeral Parade” featured on “Doomtowns” EP. Listen and buy: https://oceandistricts.bandcamp.com/

The track title “Funeral Parade” is a reference to Operation Plumbbob, a series of controversial nuclear tests conducted in 1957, at the Nevada Test Site, with the purpose of understanding the effects of a nuclear blast on civil and military properties, as well as on the average soldier on the battlefield. Conducted with the participation over 16,000 U.S. military personnel, the series released some 58,300 kilocuries of radioiodine into the atmosphere. Some of the studies done in its aftermath showed that exposure to radiation during the series was the cause of thousands of cases of thyroid cancers and leukemia, particularly among the military personnel involved.

Video was shot and edited by Martin Kaljuorg https://www.facebook.com/mkalvisuals/

All archive footage used can be seen in a 1982 documentary film Atomic Cafe.

Ocean Districts, Doomtowns (2018)

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Ocean Districts on Bandcamp

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