Sundrifter Premiere “Till You Come Down”; New Album in Progress

Posted in audiObelisk on August 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sundrifter-photo-Mario-Forgione

“Till You Come Down” is the second track to be released ahead of Boston trio Sundrifter‘s sophomore full-length. The yet-unnamed follow-up to 2016’s Not Coming Back is still being put together, but listening to the spacious riffing and rampant melody at work in this cut and in “Death March,” which preceded it earlier this year, as well as yet-to-surface rough mixes of stompers like the eight-minute “Fire in the Sky” or the Torche-style thrust of “Light Worker,” one can get an immediate sense of why they’d be eager to start getting their material out there. Fueled by catchy structures and the soaring vocals of guitarist Craig Puera, who is joined in the band by bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan, the affect of Sundrifter is to blend grounded craftsmanship with otherworldly themes, outward-reaching echoes, and a rhythmic push that remains fervent despite the pace of an individual song.

For example, Gaughran‘s bass-heavy intro to “Till You Come Down,” matched soon with Queenan‘s thudding toms and the opening riff from Puera, doesn’t seem to be in any hurry, but within 30 seconds, the three-piece are digging into the first verse, and in short order from there, Puera is delivering the title-line in a hook that’s derived in part from Soundgarden-style soul but still retains a thicker underpinning in its tonality. “Death March,” which is perhaps fuzzier in the guitar and dreamier in its transitions through sustained echoes, carries a like-minded modernity-in-a-blender feel, but even in unfinished form, it’s clear Sundrifter put a decided emphasis on songwriting and creating a sense of place in their tracks — even if that place is only intended to be “somewhere else.”

Like Not Coming Back before it, Sundrifter‘s new offering was recorded by Dan Schwartz at Futura Productions in Massachusetts. The band is currently seeking a label to get behind the release and it’s hard to imagine they’ll have trouble finding one once the record is completed, given a title, artwork, and so on. What we can know right now from hearing pieces like “Till You Come Down,” “Death March,” the more desert-minded “Hammer Burn” and others is that the songs are there, and that’s the best starting point a band could ask for going into any new release. Once that’s down, the rest tends to take care of itself.

On the player below, you’ll find the premiere of “Till You Come Down,” as well as some comment from the band. I’ve also gone ahead and included an embed for “Death March” at the bottom of this post in case you’d like to dig further and get a side-by-side from one single to the next. “Death March” can be downloaded name-your-price-style and I wouldn’t be surprised if sooner or later Sundrifter posted “Till You Come Down” in similar fashion, so keep an eye out. And when I hear more about the album coming together, I’ll post accordingly.

In the meantime, please enjoy:

Sundrifter on “Till You Come Down” & New Album:

“Till You Come Down” is our second single released from our coming full-length album. The album is still in the final mixing and mastering phases of the recording process and is expected to be released this Fall 2017. “Till You Come Down” is a song about contacting and connecting with beings or entities from different dimensions, worlds or time periods.

The track is a part of the greater whole of the album that covers topics of ancient theories about extraterrestrials, spiritual and psychedelic subjects. With this album we made a slight shift up in heaviness from our previous release, Not Coming Back. Our first album has a lot more desert vibes but this follow-up will be like if you lost yourself in the desert and you begin to lose your mind and next thing you know cruising through space fighting alien scum. We also self-released the first single back in June titled “Death March” found at www.sundrifter.bandcamp.com. The track was recorded mixed and mastered by Dan Schwarts at Futura Productions, Roslindale, Massachusetts.

Sundrifter is:
Craig Peura – Vocals/Guitar
Paul Gaughran – Bass
Patrick Queenan – Drums

Sundrifer, “Death March”

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Sundrifter on Instagram

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Sundrifter website

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Hypertonus Post 360° Video for “H.E.D.E.R.A.”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hypertonus

The new Hypertonus video starts out with a warning for those with sensitivity to flashing lights or sudden shifts in visual stimuli, and that’s a warning worth heeding if you’re prone to seizures or headaches as a result of changes in light, color, and so on. It hasn’t been all that long since the Bremen, Germany, instrumental three-piece gave us an interactive glimpse of the Harbor Inn 360° Session in which they took part by premiering a clip for “Phantasmagoria” (posted here) from their earlier-2017 self-released debut album, Tidal Wave (review here), but just a month later they’re following-up that video with a new one for the song “H.E.D.E.R.A.” that seems to come from the same source. Hey, if you’ve got it, use it.

Like “Phantasmagoria” before it, “H.E.D.E.R.A.” — an acronym for… oh wait, sorry, I have no idea what it’s an acronym for — bends the line between heavy rock and psychedelia. One can hear post-rocking airiness in the guitar of Patrick Büch, but the groove of bassist Arne Staats and drummer Hannes Christen is earthier and laden with a crunch that complements the leads rather than contrasts. As was the case throughout Tidal WaveHypertonus set themselves up for consideration as a progressive outfit whose style may just be in an early developmental stage in comparison to what they might go on to accomplish, but nonetheless already shows them with a pointed intention toward individuality that, hopefully, will underpin subsequent releases as well as it does the first full-length.

“H.E.D.E.R.A.” doesn’t have the same clickable interactivity as had “Phantasmagoria,” but is distinguished through its camera shifts and lighting effects for something of a different feel. In either case, it serves well to demonstrate the burgeoning nuance of Hypertonus‘ approach, and whether you can actually watch the video or not without it overwhelming your senses — that’s not me knocking anyone with that kind of sensitivity at all; I often get immediate headaches from flashing lights and find it’s simply too much for me, especially in videos and also in the case of this one — the live performance of the track, which checks in at just under six minutes long, is easily worth that minimal investment of your time.

They promise more clips to come from this session, so when I see what’s next, I’ll do my best to keep up. Till then, please enjoy:

Hypertonus, “H.E.D.E.R.A.” Harbor Inn Session

This is HYPERTONUS, an instrumental three-piece hailing from Bremen, Germany, playing their track ‘H.E.D.E.R.A.’ at the Harbor Inn Studios Bremen.

This is the second part of our ‘Harbor Inn Sessions 360°’ – there’s more to be released soon!

Part I: ‘PHANTASMAGORIA’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u2TEudxuqk

Listen to our debut ‘TIDAL WAVE’ here:
https://hypertonus.bandcamp.com

Hypertonus is:
Hannes Christen (drums)
Arne Staats (bass)
Patrick Büch (guitar)

Thanks to:
Timo Hollmann – Record Engineer
Ole Janßen – Camera & Audio-Editing

Hypertonus live:
18.08. – Bremen – Überseefestival Warm-Up
25.08. – Berlin – Mensch Meier
09.11. – Hamburg – Hafenklang

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Hypertonus on Instagram

Hypertonus on Bandcamp

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Bushfire Post “Zombi” Video; When Darkness Comes out in December

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bushfire

Set for release in December, When Darkness Comes will serve as the third full-length from DIY Darmstadt, Germany, earth rockers Bushfire. The double-guitar five-piece were last heard from with Dec. 2013’s Heal Thy Self (review here), which was a formidable slab of wax in following their 2010 debut, Black Ash Sunday (review here), affirming the focus on songwriting and the dudely approach of frontman Bill Brown, which seems to be intact as well as Bushfire push forward, guitarists Marcus Bischoff and Miguel Pereira joined by the newcomer rhythm section of bassist Vince and drummer Sascha.

Heavy Southern groove is the thing, make no mistake, and at this point Bushfire have been doing it long enough that they’ve got the process down. The new video — animated, of the lyric-video type — for “Zombi” brings the first audio to be unveiled ahead of the release of When Darkness Comes, and not that there was any doubt about Bushfire‘s delivery, but it’s good to know that the last four years hasn’t dulled their affinity for what’s at root beneath their processes. One finds a Clutch-style blues bounce put to righteous use via a clear and full production, and some measure of social commentary in the words as belted out by Brown.

You know how Dawn of the Dead saw the zombies all go to the mall because blind consumerism was what they knew in life? Well, “Zombi” kind of makes a similar point, but about our current inability to disconnect from our mobile devices, cellphones and the like. The clip sees skulking figures in a dark world lit mostly by tiny screens and highlights lines like, “I see zombies transmitting with no communication/I see zombies restless when no connection is there.” The ups and downs of a connected culture are still very much a matter of some philosophical debate and likely will be until we’ve all uploaded our brains to the digitally-immortal singularity (which of course the last human being alive will trip over the plug for and wipe us all out; whoops), but Bushfire make their argument clear and back it with some pointedly heavy riffing, and as a first glimpse of When Darkness Comes, it bodes well in style and sound alike.

Looking forward to hearing more of the record as we get closer to the end of the year. Until then, dig this:

Bushfire, “Zombi” official video

Video: DADIVE STUDIO
Band: BUSHFIRE
Song: ZOMBI
Album: When Darkness Comes (unreleased, est.12/17)
Recorded: 05/17 Lofthaus studios Darmstadt, Germany
Mastering: Tony Reed, Heavy Head Recording Studios, Seattle, WA, USA

By now, Bushfire‘s bio reads like that of one of the really big bands: three demo EPs and two albums, shows and tours through half of Europe, TV airplay on DMAX, a loyal fanbase – all of that WITHOUT any label or management. Because Bushfire means self-determination, passion, freedom, just DIY in its purest form. There‘s the band doing handicraft, drawing, designing, thinking, sawing, even signing in blood.

Bushfire is:
Bill (vocals)
Marcus (guitar)
Miguel (guitar)
Sascha (drums)
Vince (bass)

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Bushfire website

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Review & Track Premiere: Blues Funeral, Awakening

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

blues funeral awakening

[Click play above to listen to ‘Shadow of the Snake’ from Blues Funeral’s Awakening. Album is out Aug. 25.]

Immediately the sense from Awakening is one of continuity. To make their second full-length, and their second in as many years behind July 2016’s The Search (review here), Houston four-piece Blues Funeral returned to Lucky Run Studios to record and mix with Jeremy Dudman and Mike Mikulka. Like the debut before it, the sophomore outing features six tracks, five of which run between five and six-plus minutes long, plus one cut that branches out longer — last time it was the title-track, here it’s 8:21 closer “The Gathering Dust.” Like the debut before it, Awakening features the dual-guitar-led lineup of guitarists/vocalists Maurice Eggenschwiler and Jan “El Janni” Kimmel (the latter also keys), bassist Gabriel Katz and drummer Cory Cousins (the latter also backing vocals on “Awakening” and “Casimir”), a mastering job by Collin Jordan at the Boiler Room, artwork by David Paul Seymour and a sound that toys with the lines between progressive and classic rock, classic rock and classic metal, and classic metal and doom. Listening to songs like opener “Shadow of the Snake” and “Illusions of Reality,” it’s pretty clear that Blues Funeral had plenty about their debut they liked and wanted to use as a model to build from.

Fair enough. Given how solidified The Search was in its approach and the cohesive presentation that it brought forth from the band, one isn’t inclined to argue, but just because that record and Awakening share core aspects doesn’t preclude growth on the part of Blues Funeral either. Rather, as a group and as individual players, they demonstrate a forward-looking mentality in terms of their own development that seems to have been taken on with willful purpose, and like other let’s-have-a-guitar-fight-except-it’s-not-really-a-fight-and-also-we-harmonize, prog-fueled outfits of their ilk — the underrated likes of Valkyrie and Corsair come to mind most readily, as well as newer Beelzefuzz — Blues Funeral do justice to their influences in their own progression as much as through the sonic foundation from which they work.

Melody is central throughout. Awakening‘s six tracks run a manageable 39 minutes and while for the bulk of that time there’s more rhythmic motion going on or more active lead-taking than one would generally classify as “pastoral,” the material is rife with nuance, be it in the form of the layered-in acoustics of “Casimir,” the organ that accompanies the initial bounce of “Shadow of the Snake,” the mellotron in “The Gathering Dust,” guest vocals on “Firedrake” or even just the way “Awakening” itself so skillfully blends metallic and heavy rocking impulses, taking cues from Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and later Opeth in its blend of organ and guitar and the clean delivery of the vocal harmonies between Kimmel and Eggenschwiler, which prove throughout once again to be central figure of Blues Funeral‘s sound, as well as a tasteful example of their development as songwriters and players.

The two guitarists and Cousins played together in the less prog-rocking Sanctus Bellum, so they weren’t strangers coming into Blues Funeral or anything, but among the elements of the newer outfit established on this follow-up is the ongoing shaping of a personality all its own, increasingly distinct as it digs into the soul-infused boogie of “Illusions of Reality” and subtle vocal arrangement complexity there as complemented by Katz‘s highlight bass performance in the quieter lead break in the midsection. Once again, melody is the root, even from the rhythm section.

blues funeral (photo Grooverock)

Couple this with a firm sense of two-sided intent. The first three tracks — “Shadow of the Snake,” “Awakening” and “Illusions of Reality” — are rockers. The title-track especially feels dug into a more crunching tonality at its launch before opening to its more flowing chorus, but it and the two pieces surrounding are defined by a more straightforward lean on hooks and structural classicism. At 5:05, “Illusions of Reality” is the shortest inclusion on Awakening, and its uptempo push is friendly, warm and inviting in a good-times-listening-to-ThinLizzy fashion that even vaguely metal-derived songcraft rarely dares to be. Blues Funeral, as much time as they spend with Eggenschwiler and Kimmel‘s guitars at the fore, are aiming to directly engage their listeners on Awakening‘s side A, and their success in this effort is precisely what allows them to hold a sense of full-album fluidity as the subsequent side B begins to branch out its more expansive modus.

Now, are Blues Funeral going experimental black metal drone? Nope. While all three are longer than “Shadow of the Snake,” “Awakening” or “Illusions of Reality,” tonally and atmospherically, “Firedrake,” “Casimir” and “The Gathering Dust” stay consistent with what the first half of Awakening has on offer — and they’re correct to do so — but each of the last three pieces also has some bit of flourish to stand it out from its surroundings. Perhaps “Firedrake” is the most obvious, with the already-noted guest vocal appearance from Kelly Cousins Adams (sister to Cory) marking a departure from the choruses delivered by the guitarists together and the tradeoffs between them. Complemented by particularly righteous Nord from Kimmel and guitar ambling alongside the keys’ winding course — also another must-hear bassline from Katz — “Firedrake” holds a patient and flowing presentation that, while in its last third gives into some doomier-feeling riff and solo work, also sets up the arrival of the acoustic/electric blend that will continue in “Casimir.”

One does not imagine the similarity in title to Led Zeppelin‘s “Kashmir” is coincidental, as Awakening‘s penultimate track takes on some loosely Eastern-feeling scales in its intricate barrage of leads and has a narrative drama in its verses no less born of classic heavy rock. Resolution, as it will, comes in a last solo punctuated by ride bell from Cousins and a sudden stop to let “The Gathering Dust” take hold on its own terms — a thrust of NWOBHM-style poise is backed by carefully-woven drawn-out lead lines (perhaps the most Akerfeldtian moment on Awakening, especially with the key section and riff that follow), and suddenly the point of emphasis becomes how much Blues Funeral have been able to build and maintain a momentum across the album’s span while still allowing individual songs their moment, not sounding rushed or hurried in any way, but never still either.

The guitars are key in this, of course, but it’s a whole-band function just the same, and another example of Blues Funeral‘s second offering having moved ahead from the first. As the closer makes its way through more harmonized soloing in its middle and toward its instrumental, also-solo-topped final minutes, and ends in classy fashion with a quick wash of cymbals and pulled-string scorch, the message is no less plain than it has been all along that the foursome have a determined idea of what they want to do as a band, who they are as players and songwriters, and how they should be working together toward the common goals of their processes. The value of that isn’t to be understated when it comes to making Awakening work as well as it does. Given the progressive feel they elicit throughout, that underlying consciousness couldn’t be more appropriate, and it is one more way in which Blues Funeral earn the listener’s trust in terms of the moves they make here and, invariably, those that will follow their next time out.

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Old Man Wizard Premiere “Innocent Hands” Video; New Single out Aug. 25

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

old man wizard

To be sure, the progressive metal stylings of Old Man Wizard make them an outlier among San Diego’s crowded heavy underground, which is overflowing with sunny Californian heavy psychedelia and even at its proggiest seems to maintain some loyalty to ’70s-style boogie rock, but the truth of the matter is one would be hard-pressed to find somewhere the three-piece wouldn’t stand out from the crowd. And that is very much part of the appeal. After touring to support their 2013 debut LP, Unfavorable (review here), guitarist/vocalist Francis Roberts, bassist/vocalist Andre Beller and drummer/vocalist Kris Calabio receded somewhat, but their new single Innocent Hands arrives this month in time for another stretch of West Coast dates and finds their quirk-laden prog-doom at a welcome next stage of its development.

That sense comes through quickly in the driving rhythm and melodic resonance of the titular cut. While it starts out with a blastbeaten thrust that feels derived from extreme metal, “Innocent Hands” is just as fast to set its foundation in Roberts‘ gentle vocals, giving a sense of contrast that lends breadth to what’s still a 7″-ready sub-five-minute runtime. A couple cycles through the verse leads to denser riffing that seems to old man wizard innocent handsplay Opethian and Enslaved-style impulses off each other while filtering the result through a rocker’s urgency, and as Calabio and Beller join Roberts in the chorus line, “Rain falls on innocent hands,” the harmonies make the song a distinct highlight worthy of carrying its own release. That is, it stands up as a single, and with “The Blind Prince” as a complementary B-side, the vibe is reaffirmed in a post-Ghostly melodicism and tense instrumental progression. Shorter and in more of a rush, “The Blind Prince” nonetheless braces “Innocent Hands” with a like-minded rhythmic engagement and energized delivery. While they haven’t been putting out a slew of offerings in the four years since Unfavorable, clearly Old Man Wizard haven’t been wasting their time either.

They take to the hills in the clip for “Innocent Hands” that’s premiering below, or at very least to a hill, and with the sun behind them, and a hilariously unacknowledged druid walking past at about the two-minute mark and with at least Beller and Calabio in Witch Ripper t-shirts — Roberts might be as well, it’s kind of hard to see — they give a subtle sense of the tongue-in-cheek persona of the band, which does nothing to cut the progressive value of the songcraft at play. That is to say, just because they’re enjoying themselves doesn’t make Innocent Hands any less of an accomplishment.

Tomorrow they begin the alluded-to West Coast tour that will take them from Tijuana, Mexico, up to Washington State before coming to a close Aug. 23 with a hometown San Diego show. You’ll find the dates for that under the player that follows, which of course contains the video premiere.

To please enjoy:

Old Man Wizard, “Innocent Hands” official video

Progressive heavy rock band OLD MAN WIZARD return with their new single Innocent Hands. The track will be released on 7″ vinyl and will be sold on their upcoming tour in August. The “B” side will be “The Blind Prince”.

OLD MAN WIZARD TOUR DATES:
8/11 Tijuana, BC Mi Pueblito
8/13 San Francisco, CA The Hemlock
8/15 San Jose, CA The Caravan
8/17 Portland, OR The Highwater Mark
8/18 Seattle, WA The Victory Lounge
8/19 Anacortes, WA Kenelly Keys
8/20 Tacoma, WA The Valley
8/22 Los Angeles, CA The Lexington
8/23 San Diego, CA Soda Bar

Old Man Wizard is:
Francis Roberts – Guitar, Vocals
Kris Calabio – Drums, Backing Vocals
Andre Beller – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals

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Old Man Wizard on Bandcamp

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Rosetta: New Album Utopioid out Sept. 1; Tour Starts Oct. 5

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

rosetta

Philly’s self-sustaining DIY post-metallers Rosetta will hit the road on the West Coast and in the Midwest in October supporting their upcoming sixth album, Utopioid. The record, like 2015’s Quintessential Ephemera (review here) before it, will be issued as a name-your-price download through Rosetta‘s Bandcamp page, and the five-piece’s ongoing commitment to a lack of bullshit remains singularly admirable. They do things on their own terms, exclusively, or they don’t do them. I don’t care who you are or how you spend your days — and I’m not necessarily the hugest Rosetta fan in the world; nothing against them, but there are those out there who dig their stuff way more than I do — integrity like that is pretty goddamn rare.

So I guess that’s why I’m leaving the ticket-buy links in the list of tour dates below, where I’d usually take them out because they look shitty in posts and take up a ton of space. And I guess that’s why I’m including all three of Rosetta‘s studio update videos about the making of Utopioid. And that’s probably why, once the record is posted, I’m going to grab a download and give it at least a short review like the last one. Because respect. Profound, profound respect.

From the PR wire:

rosetta utopioid

ROSETTA ANNOUNCES FALL NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; NEW ALBUM, ‘UTOPIOID,’ OUT SEP 1ST

Philadelphia avant-metal band Rosetta will embark on a headline North American tour this fall in support of their forthcoming, 6th studio album, Utopioid, which is due out on September 1st. The band will be supported by Tucson sludge act North. Tickets are on sale now; dates are listed below.

“We’re thrilled to play shows throughout the Western US and Canada this Fall, in support of our new album Utopioid. And we’re especially proud to be joined by our longtime friends in North, who we’ve had the pleasure to tour with several times over the years. Even beyond our brotherly kinship, they bring a level of inspired creativity to the stage night after night. For our part, we’re crafting a setlist pulling from the new album as well as many of our past releases, and look forward to connecting with old and new friends along the way. Can’t wait to see you out there.” – Rosetta

On their 6th studio album, Utopioid, Rosetta has unshackled themselves from past restraints and are further exploring their sound, pushing their music beyond the confines of what’s expected. The highly-anticipated album is a crushing hour long, intense journey that takes fans through a dynamic range of emotions while soaring to new creative heights.

“Composing Utopioid, we were wholly devoted to realizing the concept, disciplining ourselves to let the narrative shape all parts of the album — not just the lyrics, but everything down to the subtle ways rhythm or effects could alter the mood. We quickly let go of the imperative to write for live performance; although we will play many of these songs live, we felt freedom to explore the furthest reaches of our skills and imaginations.” – Eric Jernigan, guitar/vocals

“It’s the first album we’ve made where every single element, top to bottom, was created collaboratively — each of us has more of ourselves invested in this record than ever before.” – Matt Weed, guitar

Utopioid was engineered and mixed by Francisco Botero with assistance from Alexis Berthelot at Studio G, Brooklyn, NY, July-August 2017. The record was produced by Botero and Rosetta, mastered by Carl Saff with artwork by Jordan Butcher for Studio Workhorse.

Fans can purchase the digital record exclusively at BandCamp on September 1st. Studio updates, album art, track listing and tour dates are found below.

Utopioid Track List:
1. Amnion
2. Intrapartum
3. Neophyte Visionary
4. King Ivory Tower
5. 54543
6. Détente
7. Hypnagogic
8. Qohelet
9. Intramortem

Rosetta Tour Dates:
10/05/2017 Scottsdale AZ – Rogue http://ticketf.ly/2vubbIN
10/06/2017 San Diego CA – Soda Bar http://ticketf.ly/2f8z6Hu
10/07/2017 Los Angeles CA – Five Star http://bit.ly/2v1ThfT
10/09/2017 San Francisco CA – Brick and Mortar http://bit.ly/2v2kGyd
10/10/2017 Sacramento CA – Blue Lamp http://bit.ly/2vwB3ns
10/11/2017 Portland OR – Ash St Saloon http://bit.ly/2hrNj2S
10/12/2017 Seattle WA – TBA
10/13/2017 Vancouver BC – Pub 340 – http://ticketf.ly/2hvwrsk
10/16/2017 Edmonton AB – Brixx – http://ticketf.ly/2hosrd3
10/17/2017 Calgary AB – The Palomino http://bit.ly/2u8pt25
10/18/2017 Saskatoon SK – Amigos http://ticketf.ly/2fcOoew
10/19/2017 Regina SK – TBA
10/20/2017 Montana – TBA
10/21/2017 Boise ID – Shredder http://bit.ly/2u7WB6f
10/22/2017 Salt Lake City UT – Metro Music Hall http://ticketf.ly/2vr1wCP
10/23/2017 Denver CO – Globe Hall http://ticketf.ly/2vl2KzE
10/24/2017 Lawrence KS – Replay Lounge -Tickets Available at Door
10/25/2017 Ft Worth TX – Lolas http://ticketf.ly/2vkLbj9
10/26/2017 Austin TX – Lost Well – Tickets Available at Door
10/27/2017 Houston TX – Green Room http://bit.ly/RosettaWHL
10/28/2017 El Paso TX – Lowbrow Palace http://ticketf.ly/2u5TpI1
10/29/2017 Albuquerque NM – Sister http://bit.ly/2u1YPnI
10/30/2017 Tucson AZ – Flycatcher http://ticketf.ly/2u6bYjx

https://theanaesthete.bandcamp.com/
http://www.rosettaband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/rosettaband/
https://twitter.com/rosettaband
https://www.instagram.com/rosetta_band
https://www.youtube.com/user/rosettaband

Rosetta, Utopioid studio update 1

Rosetta, Utopioid studio update 2

Rosetta, Utopioid studio update 3

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Review & Track Premiere: Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

howling-giant-black-hole-space-wizard-part-2

[Click play above to stream ‘Circle of Druids’ from Howling Giant’s Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2. EP is out Aug. 25 and available to preorder on Bandcamp.]

At very least, we can be sure that by the time Nashville progressive metal/heavy rockers Howling Giant finish telling the story that thus far spans their second and third EPs, they will have long since outgrown the goofball title they’ve given the series. In truth, the complexity and scope of Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 might be a little undercut by the stoner-is-as-stoner-does banner it seems to fly, if only because someone who didn’t hear either the trio’s 2015 self-titled or last year’s Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 (review here) could potentially too easily write it off based on superficialities and miss out on what’s actually a marked depth and individual purpose of craft.

Released almost precisely a year after its predecessor, its six tracks/31 minutes bring the self-releasing trio of guitarist/vocalist Tom Polzine, bassist/vocalist Roger Marks and drummer/vocalist Zach Wheeler to new levels of execution in their material, rife with wonderfully realized vocal harmonies, epic-feeling crescendos, and a still-weighted tonality that they seem to be able to move and shift according to whatever whim drives a given piece, whether it’s the introductory “Henry Tate” with its spoken-word vocals and the first of many guest key/synth contributions throughout from Drew Harakal beneath the first of many swirling, character-laden solos from Polzine, or the galloping apex that leads into a wide-breadth wash at the end of “Visions,” layers of effects swirl — and again, keyboard/synth from Harakal — coming to the forefront of the longest inclusion here at 7:39. Flirting with long-player flow in its front-to-back delivery and the fact that it’s 10 minutes longer than the installment prior, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 establishes Howling Giant‘s underlying commitment to developing their approach and benefits from a quickly and righteously burgeoning stylistic reach.

Because it’s a chapter in a (presumably ongoing) series, one looks for consistencies with what’s come before as well as the growth so plain to hear in the material. And it’s there in the overall sonic take and in some of the intensity of the prog-metal cascade in “The Pioneer” or the penultimate highlight “Circle of Druids,” as well as in the sung harmonies, but there isn’t an element present that doesn’t seem to have moved willfully forward from where the band was a year ago. While they may be working in the same narrative, based around the end of civilization and the adventures of the last remaining human (dubbed “The Pioneer”) among future-mystical presences — last time the Space Wizard, this time the Earth Wizard, as manifest in the closer of the same name — even down to its basic structure as mirrored sides A and B each with an introductory piece, shorter middle cut and longer finale, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 simply has more to offer than what was already an impressive display in songwriting.

howling giant

Arrangement flourish brings a complementary baritone sax guest appearance from Kim Wheeler on the interlude/side B intro “The Forest Speaks” that picks up alongside acoustic pluck and leads gently into “Circle of Druids,” and as much momentum as Polzine, Marks, Wheeler and Harakal — the latter of whom apparently recorded in Texas but might need to relocate and actually join this band given what the organ and synth add to the tracks here — build throughout “Henry Tate,” the low-end fuzz roll of the early verses and ending of “The Pioneer” and the precise, all-class linearity of “Visions,” they remain likewise committed to broadening the palette of their aesthetic and if one thinks of Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 as an EP and thus a showcase of where Howling Giant are in the inevitable march toward a first full-length, one would be remiss to think of them as anything but ready for that crucial next step.

Whether or not that’s actually where Howling Giant are directly headed — that is, if they’ll do an LP next or follow this Part 2 with a Part 3 EP — I don’t know, but on a creative level, they bring a vibrant persona to these tracks enough to give the impression that their evolution will continue in either context. Beginning with a quick spoken intro, “Circle of Druids” launches from out of “The Forest Speaks” and unfolds to an especially satisfying blend of chugging riffery and a wide-open payoff hook, underscored by Wheeler‘s double-kick and given/needing few frills around its basic structure. Like some of Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1, it reminds a bit of Devin Townsend‘s heavier progressive metallurgy, but ultimately proves more distinct, and “Earth Wizard” effectively follows in dropping the tempo to hit a balance like a more straightforward vision of what Ancestors brought to their 2012 triumph, In Dreams and Time.

This initial patience gradually shifts into a fuller charge in “Earth Wizard”‘s back half, which feels somewhat inevitable, but the finale is both earned and once more plays to the notion of Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 as a kind of proto-full-length in its overarching fluidity. As the last vestiges of guitar and synth fade out to bring the EP to its end, the sense is still one of being a shorter release, but if that means Howling Giant are leaving their audience wanting more of the arc coming to life in their tracks, then that only bodes well for a next outing, whatever form it might take. Likewise, one has to acknowledge that while the title might just as likely turn a given listener off as on when it comes to taking up Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2, its goofballery also stands as a signal of an abiding lack of pretense that extends to the songwriting as well. That is, while their arrangements are thought out, their performances clear-headed and impeccably mixed, the corresponding quotient of self-indulgence is remarkably low for something so progressive. If the tradeoff for that is a silly name, it’s a small price to pay — sometimes it’s fun to have fun — and for those who do decide to dig into Howling Giant‘s third EP, the rewards are no less expansive than the band’s sound itself.

Howling Giant, Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (2017)

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Review & Lyric Video Premiere: Eternal Black, Bleed the Days

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on August 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

eternal-black-bleed-the-days

[Click play above to see the premiere of the lyric video for the title-track of Eternal Black’s Bleed the Days. Album is out Aug. 8.]

Doom prevails in gritty fashion on Bleed the Days, the seven-track debut long-player from New York trio Eternal Black. Self-released through their own Obsidian Sky Records in a digipak that includes a note on its back cover to pay attention to the lyrics and those printed on its inside glossy panels, it is a grimly cast 46 minutes brimming with downer intent as led by the churning-concrete riffing of guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob (also a published novelist and clearly someone for whom words matter) and with significant reinforcement provided by bassist Hal Miller and drummer Joe Wood — the latter also of long-running Long Island rockers Borgo Pass and a former bandmate of mine twice over. Because I consider him among the finest examples of a human being I’ve ever encountered, I’ll note a decided bias on my part in favor of his work here and elsewhere, so if that’s the grain of salt with which you need to take this review, so be it. I won’t fight you.

Either way, Eternal Black‘s full-length ode to downcast nodder traditionalism, recorded and mixed by Joe Kelly and Kol Marshall with mastering by Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed, follows their 2015 self-titled EP/demo (review here) and received a substantial preview earlier this year on the digital offering Live at WFMU (review here), recorded at that venerable open-format radio station in Jersey City, New Jersey, but makes its primary impression in the uniformity of its mood such that even the three-minute centerpiece interlude “Into Nothing” ties to the rest of its surroundings in speaking to the overarching theme of death and the mythology thereof, despite being instrumental. They are nothing if not focused.

But as the saying goes, if you can’t handle brain-crushing singularity of purpose, doom probably isn’t for you, and whether it’s the post-Wino riffing on opener “The Lost, the Forgotten, and the Undying” or second cut “Snake Oil and Coffin Nails,” which is led off by Miller‘s bass in the spirit perhaps of The Hidden Hand circa Mother Teacher Destroyer and shifts into faster gallop in its midsection with a highlight guitar lead, or a slower piece like the lumbering “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun” (premiered here), Eternal Black do bring a sense of character and a developing sonic persona to the tenets of the style. Wohlrob‘s vocal delivery is a gruff and dudely semi-growl suited to tying the songs together and his lyrics — as one has been advised to regard — grow increasingly vivid as the tracklisting progresses into “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun,” “Bleed the Days” itself and 11-minute closer “All Gods Fall,” pulling references from Biblical and other Inferno-y sources concerning death.

eternal black photo shane gardner

It’s arguable six of the seven inclusions on Bleed the Days deal directly with the motif — see also: the entirety of Western culture and the human condition — whether it’s the interaction of death and belief on “Snake Oil and Coffin Nails” and “All Gods Fall” or the grim picture-painting of “The Lost, the Forgotten, and the Undying,” “Sea of Graves,” “Into Nothing,” “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun,” and “Bleed the Days,” but there’s also an underlying use of water imagery. The opener speaks of a ballast of the dead, snake oil is “flooding the plains,” it’s a “Sea of Graves,” bodies are thrown into the sea in “Stained Eyes on a Setting Sun,” walls of rain unleash a river in the title-track, and flames rain down and oceans reabsorb in the finale. Again, that’s six of six tracks with words in them. One can’t help but wonder if that was a purposeful aesthetic choice in the composition of the material or simply a fitting representation of the abyss. In any case, like Wohlrob‘s vocals, the tonal density of his guitar and Miller‘s low end and the ultra-solid push of Wood‘s drums, it is another aspect of Bleed the Days that serves to tie the songs together.

Taking into account Bleed the Days as Eternal Black‘s debut, the album becomes even more impressive in its establishment of theme and aesthetic — well earning the amount of purple on its Joshua M. Wilkinson cover art — and when given repeat listens, further nuance of intent gradually unveils itself, whether it’s the airy flourish of guitar layering buried in the second half of “All Gods Fall” or the force with which the overall trajectory of the trio’s procession leads them to that closer. That shift takes place between the songs themselves, which seem to grow slower from “The Lost, the Forgotten, and the Undying” onward, but “Into Nothing” becomes a crucial divide between the first three cuts and the latter three that follow, which cast a plodding and weighted mire that, even when it picks up a bit in terms of tempo in the title-track, remains enduringly bleak.

Thus “All Gods Fall” can be read as a moment of arrival for Eternal Black and their audience alike, and it meets that task ably in summarizing the atmosphere of what’s come before it, showcasing an avenue for potential forward growth on the part of the band and providing a landing point for the consistently downward push that brings it on. Like the stated subject of death, “All Gods Fall” feels inevitable by the time it hits, and its final lines, “Man faces his eternity/Standing alone,” encapsulate the perspective of Bleed the Days as a whole. There could hardly be a more fitting end for an album that stands so willfully in doomed gruel, and as “All Gods Fall” marches to its fading finish, the sound of crashing waves would seem to provide an answer as to the corresponding watery elements that so much of the material highlighted previously.

I don’t know if I’d call Bleed the Days a concept album in terms of a singular narrative playing out, but neither would I be surprised if Eternal Black went that route sometime in the future, as there is a decided interest in storytelling here, and pivotally, they back that with quality songwriting that’s no less a foundation than the roll in Wood‘s drums. They’ve left themselves room to grow in terms of branching out arrangements and style, but as doom for doomers by doomers, Eternal Black‘s first album brings a host of depressive delights.

Eternal Black, Bleed the Days (2017)

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