Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re gonna go, go in style. It’s an ethic that riffy Denver trio The Munsens seem to have taken to heart. I don’t know what they’ll be riding around on this West Coast tour supporting their Nov. 2016 EP, Abbey Rose (review here), and that’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m talking about playing with some frickin’ awesome bands as they go from town to town. Look at that Long Beach show. Or the last night of the tour in Tempe? What a way to round out. And to have a couple nights in Colorado at the start before dipping to Ciudad Juarez and hooking up with Malahierba? Very cool.
I’d be interested to know what comes together for Vegas — or better yet, if you can make something happen there and help out the band, do it. Put on a good show. They’ve set a pretty high standard with these bills.
The Munsens’ Abbey Rose tour
Having just turned loose their new EP, Abbey Rose (self-released, Nov. 21), Denver, Colorado’s the Munsens is taking to the road for a 10 day, nine show run through the southwest US, beginning January 12.
Tour dates: 1.12 – Denver, CO – Hi-Dive (w/ Ketch, Matriarch, Night of the Living Shred) 1.13 – Colorado Springs, CO – Triple Nickel (w/ Still Valley, Night of the Living Shred) 1.14 – Juarez, MX – Hysteria (w/ Dizz Brew, Malahierba, Ultimo Trip) 1.16 – Albuquerque, NM – Low Spirits (w/ Hydrant, The Horned God) 1.17 – Las Vegas, NV – TBA 1.18 – San Francisco, CA – Elbo Room (w/ Love Moon, Mesmer, Externs) 1.19 – Long Beach, CA – Alex’s Bar (w/ Slow Season, Lords of Beacon House, of limbo) 1.20 – Oceanside, CA – Pierview Pub (w/ Red Wizard and special guests) 1.21 – Tempe, AZ – Palo Verde Lounge (w/ Goya, Twingiant, Grey Gallows)
The Munsens made a handful of appearances in Denver during the summer and fall of 2016, and just released their first recordings in nearly two years (Nov. 21) via a 45-minute EP titled Abbey Rose, which preludes their first full-length album, due out in the summer of 2017. Abbey Rose is available on cassette and as a digital download through the band’s Bandcamp page and will supported by two tours in early 2017, in January and in March.
The Munsens is: Shaun Goodwin Mike Goodwin Graham Wesselhoff
Prolific French soundscape artist Florent Paris had two releases out in 2016 under his working moniker Hors Sujet. The first was the Déclin EP, issued in March, and the second was a Sept. split with AUVN. Both are available to stream and download in their entirety via the Bandcamp page linked below, and they’re the latest in a long line of offerings dating back over the last nine years that find Paris engaging various levels of textural experimentation, progressive flourish, and cinematic mood-making. It’s little surprise he’s done periodic soundtrack work over that same span; his drones seem to leave plenty of room for visual evocation, real or imagined.
Accordingly, it’s kind of fascinating to see what might go into a video for a single Hors Sujet track. The song in question comes from Déclin and is the 10-minute centerpiece and longest cut “Le début n’est jamais trop sombre,” the title of which translates to “the beginning is never too dark,” or “the start is never too dark.” Throughout the piece, Paris joins his sometimes lush, sometimes minimal droning to a barrage of impressionistic images, doubled and manipulated, but still somehow playing to a sentimental graininess that speaks of a lost past. One is left wondering what beginning the title is referring to, but I’d imagine that’s at least part of the point — asking questions rather than deigning to answer them.
There’s a certain hypnotic effect here as well, but if you can keep your wits about you for the duration, it’s worth the effort. More info follows the clip.
Hors Sujet, “Le début n’est jamais trop sombre” official video
Posted in Radio on January 9th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been a long time. Long enough that I’m not even going to link back to the last time I did a round of Radio Adds. Life happens, and with the Quarterly Review, I guess my focus went elsewhere. Well, I just did a Quarterly Review, and that actually kind of inspired this, since I found there was yet more records that wanted covering even after that over-full round of 60 that closed out 2016 and opened 2017. So here we are.
There are, in fact, more than 50 albums being added to The Obelisk Radio playlist today. I can’t promise I’ll do Radio Adds weekly like I once did, or monthly, or again in 2017, or ever, but the opportunity presented itself and it seemed only right to take advantage. This stuff all came out last year, so it’s all readily available, and audio samples are included, because, you know, music and such.
Let’s dig in:
Lord Mountain, Lord Mountain
Of all the styles under the vast umbrella of “heavy,” traditional doom is among the hardest to execute – especially, I’d think, for new bands. You need a balance of atmosphere and lack of pretense, a classic vibe, riffs, and groove. On the surface, you’re playing to the past, but if you put out something that just sounds like Sabbath and bring nothing of yourself to it, you’re sunk. Santa Rosa, California’s Lord Mountain – vocalist/guitarist Jesse Swanson, guitarist Sean Serrano, bassist Dave Reed and drummer Pat Moore – would seem to have it figured out on their self-titled debut EP. Released by King Volume Records on limited tape, it brings forth four tracks in 21 minutes that are no less comfortable playing to the downer riffing of Candlemass – opener “Fenrir” – than to the epic chanting of Viking-era Bathory – “Under the Mountain” – and that find distinction for themselves in nodding to one side or the other as they make their way across the bass-y Sabbathism of “Dying World” and into the concluding solo-topped gallop of “Tomb of the Eagle” (more Dio-era there, but effectively translated tonally). As an initial offering, its presence is more stately than raw, and part of that is aesthetic, so I still think Lord Mountain will have growth to undertake, but their EP shows marked potential and brings a fresh personality to doom’s rigid traditionalism, and there’s nothing more one could reasonably ask of it. A CD would probably be too much to ask, but it’s hard to believe no one’s snagged it for a 10” release yet.
Behold the winding, self-directed narrative of underrated, underutilized and underappreciated New York heavy rockers The Giraffes, who issued Usury via Silver Sleeve Records in Jan. 2016, on the cusp of their 20th anniversary and with it welcomed back frontman Aaron Lazar (also a one-time contributor to The Book of Knots, speaking of underrated) to the fold alongside guitarist Damien Paris, drummer Andrew Totolos and bassist Josh Taggart. Comprised of just six songs with a 28-minute runtime, it nonetheless holds to a full-album sentiment, with songs like the tense “Washing Machine” working in a vein not dissimilar to their righteous 2008 offering, Prime Motivator (review here), while the preceding “Facebook Rant” and “Product Placement Song” bask in a social commentary that one can only hope the ensuing decades make dated and the subsequent “White Jacket” has a melancholy danceability that one might’ve related around the time of The Giraffes’ 2005 self-titled debut related to System of a Down, but now just sounds like an enrichment of their approach overall. Usury gets off to a slow start (not a complaint, given the groove) with “Blood Will Run,” which seems to shake off its dust initially before commencing its real push and chug circa the halfway point, but by the time they get down to eight-minute finale “How it Happened to Me,” the sudden conclusion of the jam leaves one to wonder where they went and when they’ll be back, which presumably is the whole idea. Behold a band who did it before it was cool, should’ve been huge, and still kept going. The story is more complicated than that, but there are few tales more admirable.
The first Saint Vitus live album – Live – surfaced in 1990 via Hellhound Records and captured the band in Germany in 1989. Its 2005 reissue on Southern Lord played a large role in introducing the pivotal doomers to a new generation of fans. Live Vol. 2 follows some 26 years later via Season of Mist and likewise documents a crucial era in the four-piece’s existence, having been recorded in 2013 in Luxembourg following the release of their 2012 album, Lillie: F-65 (review here), with the lineup of vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez. It’s a 59-minute set, all told – one suspects some of Chandler’s stage rants between songs were shortened or removed – and among the most striking impressions it makes is how seamlessly Lillie: F-65 cuts “Let Them Fall,” “The Bleeding Ground” and “The Waste of Time” fit in alongside classics like the speedy “War is Our Destiny” and “Look Behind You” or the more grueling “Patra (Petra)” and galloping “White Stallions.” Of course, the anthemic “Born too Late” closes out, with Chandler’s wash of feedback and all-low-end tone at the start the ultimate hallmark of what Saint Vitus have always been – a middle finger to square culture unlike any other. This era of the band may be over, with original vocalist Scott Reagers stepping back into the frontman role, but as one continues to hope for another studio album, Live Vol. 2 proves more than a stopgap and takes an active role in adding to the band’s legendary catalog.
After two successful full-lengths in 2010’s Skygrounds and 2012’s Slow Rivers, next-gen Swedish heavy rockers Långfinger join forces with Small Stone Records for their 10-song/46-minute third album, the crisply-executed Crossyears. Like their countrymen labelmates in Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, the Gothenburg three-piece bring modern edge and production to what a few years ago might’ve been purely retro ‘70s boogie rock, as tracks like “Fox Confessor,” “Say Jupiter,” the more languid “Atlas” and “Caesar’s Blues” bask in a showcase of tight, natural performance with a clean production style that still highlights same, bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Victor Crusner, guitarist/backing vocalist Kalle Lilja and drummer/backing vocalist Jesper Pihl proving the maturity of their songwriting while still delivering the push of “Silver Blaze” and closer “Window in the Sky” with a sense of energy behind them. Their approach so solidified, Långfinger don’t seem to leave much to chance in their sound, but Crossyears engages heavy rock tradition effectively while bridging a gap of decades across its run, and that, frankly, seems like enough for any one record to take on.
Soggy’s self-titled LP, released in this edition by Outer Battery Records (see also Arctic, Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket), is a reissue of a 2008 collection of tracks from a span of years that find the blown-out French punkers paying direct homage to The Stooges with a cover of the seminal “I Wanna be Your Dog,” immediately drawing a line to what seems to have been the band’s most prominent influence. Some 35-plus years after they were initially put to tape, Soggy’s tracks continue to feel dangerous and raw in their frenetic proto-punkery, and that would seem to be exactly what the Soggy LP is looking to convey, digging into the vast trove of lost artifacts in heavy and punk rock and finding a treasure ripe for hindsight appreciation. As much as it just makes me want to put on the self-titled Stooges record or Fun House, I can’t argue with the success of Soggy’s Soggy or not admire its mission, even if some of its blows land harder than others.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 6th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
German compatriots Deaf Proof and Mount Hush have teamed up for a new split with one extended track per band included. The idea is that the two groups will divide up the two sides of a vinyl platter. Not an unreasonable way to go. Okay. Trouble is making vinyl costs money, and the bands, being bands, are not prone to having such things, so they’re going to be setting up a crowdfunding campaign in order to make the pressing of Interstellar Smoke a reality. Does that campaign exist yet? No. When is it coming? Presumably soon. That, my friends, is about the extent of what I know on the subject.
Well, not really, because as a way of teasing the release in a gosh-wouldn’t-you-like-these-massive-molten-slabs-on-your-shelf kind of way — and indeed, gosh, I would — both Mount Hush and Deaf Proof have made their inclusions to Interstellar Smoke available to stream now, so you can basically hear what the vinyl will be and imagine your turntable feet flattening under the weight. Or something like that. You might imagine other things. Whatever’s on your mind.
Release info and audio follows. If you’d like a way to send them your cash in the interim, downloads are available through respective Bandcamp pages, linked below:
Deaf Proof / Mount Hush Split “Interstellar Smoke”
Stoner enthusiasts, fuzz worshippers and psychedelic lovers listen up!
From now on you‘ll get the chance to lay your hands on a fantastic and unique record. Mount Hush and Deaf Proof entered the studio to craft two monstrous tunes (ONE each band!) and bring them to you. Mount Hush delivers a 3-parted heavy psychedelic jam trip where spaced out guitars organically blend in with crooning vocals, synths & organ sounds.
Deaf Proof joins the game with a fuzzy and pounding edge, straight and expansive at the same time. Altogether a dreamy and psychedelic, yet furious and crashing trip awaits: This is “Interstellar Smoke”.
So do yourself a favour, lean back and enjoy this record in its full entirety… But don’t be ungenerous and tell a friend! Because we need YOUR support to crowdfund a special vinyl release of this gem. Campaign coming soon. Support the underground and spread the word!
Mount Hush & Deaf Proof “Interstellar Smoke” Split: A. Mount Hush – “Sleeping Jupiter – Haze – Aquatic Void” 20:03 B. Deaf Proof – “Everything Dead” 24:32
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 4th, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not that I’ve heard it yet or anything, but Thera Roya‘s debut full-length, Stone and Skin, takes some significant steps — plods? thudding wildebeest gallops? — forward from where even their 2015 Unraveling EP (review here) found them. Increasingly resonant in their atmospheric post-metal approach, the Brooklynite trio have begun to shift from the outward abrasion of their earliest work into more progressive spaciousness — a spaciousness that still has room for a crushing riff or vicious scream every now and again as well. Again, not saying I’ve heard it, but it presents a clear sense of development in progress on their part and challenges the listener to follow them on what turns out to be a surprisingly varied course.
Or… so the rumors tell me? Okay, I’ve heard the album. You got me. I’ll have an actual review up sooner or later, but the initial impression is certainly favorable, if the above didn’t make that clear.
Stone and Skin is out Feb. 17 as a self-release from the band. More details follow from the PR wire:
Brookyln based sludge/post-metal band THERA ROYA will release Stone and Skin on February 17 2017. The album is their first full-length album, after releasing several EPs and splits in the past.
Formed in 2012, Thera Roya have rapidly ascended the ranks of the underground metal world and become known for their grandiose sound and otherworldly soundscapes all steeped in the influence of Neurosis and Isis.
Coming off an extremely busy 2015/16 that saw the band release an EP, a split and then go on to play 88 shows, Thera Roya are clearly destined for greater things and their forward momentum is simply unending. Unafraid to hit the road and grind it out in the name of their craft, Thera Roya has been able to play with bands like Cult Leader, Seven Sisters Of Sleep, Birds In Row, Pilgrim, Generation Of Vipers, U.S Christmas, Tengger Calvary and North. As they face the future, they know that their unique brand of sludge meets post metal has the power to dominate the metal scene in 2017.
Now – with the upcoming release of their monolithic first full length, Stone & Skin, Thera Roya are preparing themselves to tour on their most important material yet. In a world where we are finally starting to see post metal get the recognition it deserves, Thera Roya will put out one of the genres most worthy records. Forward thinking, overpowering and strangely transcendent, Stone & Skin is the sound of the future.
Thera Roya is: Jonathan Cohn – Bass Ryan Smith – Drums/Vox/Guitar Christopher Eustaquio – Guitar
I know, I know. It’s the future. These kinds of things aren’t necessarily a big deal at this point. They happen all the time. Nonetheless, a sub-two-week turnaround from show to fully-edited multi-camera video document of that same show is pretty impressive whatever time you’re living in. Especially with the holidays in there. You ever try to get anything done over the holidays? Of course you didn’t.
Drone Hunter did. The Croatian heavy noise rockers rounded out 2016 with the Dec. 17 release show for their second album, Welcome to the Hole (review here), and by Dec. 28, the clip below for “Fog Horn” was done and ready to roll. I’m sorry, but even in a world of digital editing that’s quick. And it doesn’t at all look half-assed. In fact, the show looks like it was a really good time, and no doubt that’s precisely what the Varazdin three-piece were hoping to convey.
Starts and ends with some crowd noise and views, and it would seem the house was packed at the Caffe Bar Elephant, where the clip was filmed. From start to finish of the song itself, the hometown three-piece give Welcome to the Hole solid representation with “Fog Horn,” the track offering Karma to Burn-style straightforwardness of intent with an aggressive edge that comes across as just a bit meaner on the whole. Front to back, the record plays around with that spirit somewhat, but “Fog Horn” tells much of the story, and the video does accordingly — cool gig, maximum volume, heavy riffs. Nothing wrong with that.
Enjoy “Fog Horn” below, followed by credits and links:
Drone Hunter, “Fog Horn” official live video
We proudly present our official live video for ‘Fog Horn’ off our new album ‘Welcome To The Hole’ filmed at our hometown release show at Caffe Bar Elephant in Varaždin, Croatia on Dec 17th 2016.
Directed, filmed and edited by Igor ‘Meister’ Male?i? of Meisterwerk Productions, Zagreb, Croatia. Additional footage filmed by Jurica Galekovi? of Dakkar Pictures, Varaždin, Croatia.
All music written, produced and performed by Drone Hunter. Available on Bandcamp, CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon or at our shows, both digital and physical.
We appreciate all the friends, fans, promoters, hosts and everyone who is involved with Drone Hunter in any way. You guys make this ride even more fun and rewarding than the music itself!
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
New Year, new riffs. North Carolina sludge specialists Toke could never be accused of being too obscure in their intentions, and their new album Orange (also written as a parenthetical) is no different. They sludge, sludge hard and sludge often. Big tones, big riffs, aggro stoner vibes. The new six-tracker follows a 2015 self-titled and a demo from 2014 (review here) that seems to have disappeared from the interwebs, and has been released as a limited-to-100-copies-and-already-mostly-gone cassette that will no doubt find favor with those seeking to start 2017 off with a fervent nod.
I had the pleasure of watching the Wilmington-based three-piece of bassist/vocalist Bronco, guitarist Tim and drummer Jeremy perform at last year’s Maryland Doom Fest (review here), and even in that riffiest of settings, they managed to stand out for the impact of their presentation. They’ve spent some time on the road since (they had before as well), and seem to be working on establishing momentum toward a larger underground impact. I’ve yet to hear of them doing anything up to this point that hasn’t turned heads in their direction, and seeing them live was an oh-okay-these-guys-are-for-real moment of clarity.
To listen to “Blackened” from Orange, or “Weak Life,” which brings in a guest appearance from Sourvein‘s T-Roy Medlin, I hear nothing to diminish that impression. They were pretty brief in their announcing the album’s arrival, but all the info that’s out there on the digital and cassette versions is below. Their debut is also getting a vinyl treatment from Goya‘s Opoponax Records imprint this month, so heads up on that.
New album is live! Go snag a digital copy then a cassette!
Limited to 100 cassettes and 70% are gone! Only 20 being sold online.
Posted in Reviews on January 3rd, 2017 by H.P. Taskmaster
Sweden’s Sgt. Sunshine are the ones who make it a party. Before they show up, everyone’s just kind of standing around, milling about, maybe chatting awkwardly at this or that issue of the day. Then, every couple of years, the Malmö-based troupe burst through the wall like the Kool-Aid guy with a new record and everybody remembers, “Oh shit, yeah! This is supposed to be fun!”
Plataformas is their latest reminder in this regard. It’s the fourth album overall in a career that now reaches well beyond a decade and a half, and its late-2016 self-release comes just three years behind Elektrohasch‘s 2013 issue of the preceding III (review here), which marked a return after six years. Comprised of 11 tracks, its 38-minute run is utterly defined by the manner in which it flows from one piece to the next so that by the time it gets down to “High Tide (100,000 LYW)” at the start of what’s almost certainly an intended side B — I haven’t seen word of a vinyl release, but it feels somewhat inevitable and the structure suits that purpose — the feel is more like the beginning of a medley than a collection of six individual tracks.
Likewise, founding guitarist/vocalist Eduardo Rodriguez — who plays bass here as well, working with drummer Roberto Sundin — frontloads the early-going with some of Plataformas‘ most memorable hooks in the opening salvo of “Ana Mazing,” “Mary Jane (Keeps You Sane)” and “Words of Wisdom” while also setting up the fluidity that continues to flesh out as “Bone Stake” and the dreamy “Love Unkind” slide deeper into a stylistic blend that pushes beyond genre bounds even as it plays to the stoner idolatry of “Mary Jane (Keeps You Sane).”
That song, the sleaze riff bounce of “Words of Wisdom” and “Bone Stake” touch on influences from funk and hip-hop that “Ana Mazing” hinted toward in its vocal patterning as well, but the vibe remains central, and Rodriguez assures throughout that nothing interrupts. A loose sensibility of groove has always been a huge part of Sgt. Sunshine‘s aesthetic, and that’s perhaps true even more on Plataformas than it’s ever been before — one can rightly think of a song like “Rio Rojas” from their landmark 2003 self-titled debut (discussed here) as a precursor to what “Ana Mazing” and “Words of Wisdom” accomplish — but along with that, one has to recognize the conscious effort on the part of Rodriguez and the band as a whole to bring that forward as done in these tracks.
The fact that Sgt. Sunshine seem so comfortable as they shift from the winding, fuzzy end of “Ana Mazing” into the drum intro of the languidly nodding “Mary Jane (Keeps You Sane)” and from the rhythmically jammy “Surrender then Enter” through “How Can I Mend It” and into the two-minute acoustic and organ-infused “Golden” on side B only makes the listener more at home in these transitions, and there isn’t a moment on Plataformas that pulls one out of the overarching groove of the experience. Bands try to create a “whole-album” feel all the time, and some get there and some don’t, but rarely does an act do so with the kind of cohesive-but-molten duality of Sgt. Sunshine‘s fourth long-player, so that songs like the aforementioned “Golden” or the earlier drift of “Love Unkind” — probably the most psychedelic of the inclusions here, and one on which Rodriguez also drums, as he also does on “High Tide (100,000 LYW)” — have an almost tossed-off sensibility, like the band hit record in the studio, picked up their instruments, that’s what came out, and they decided to keep it because, well, it was lunchtime and there were other things to do that afternoon.
Of course, since Rodriguez is handling multiple instruments as well as vocals, that can’t at all be the way it happened. Bottom line is Sgt. Sunshine have taken something incredibly difficult to pull off and made it sound easy. And not in a sneaky manner, where Rodriguez is secretly telegraphing progressive undertones all the while or anything like that. The crunchier riff of “Bone Stake” and the full-on, bring-the-vocals-way-forward, ultra-catchy Brant Bjork-ian desertism of the penultimate “Got to Have You” are executed without pretense of any kind, and one finds as a result that the take-it-easy pacing of “How Can I Mend It” winds up much truer to the soul of the MC5 than any amount of garage posturing or vintage gear could’ve brought it.
Organics as a goal aren’t necessarily anything new for heavy psychedelia, but Plataformas isn’t just a heavy psych record, and Sgt. Sunshine‘s range shows itself through these pieces in a way that moves decisively forward from even where III found them a couple years ago, while sounding like a collection of off-the-cuff hooks and jams while actually most likely being the result of a meticulous recording process. The depth of this achievement is as pivotal to recognize as it is understated on the album itself, which again, is way more focused on the party it just started.
When “Surrender then Enter” starts and stops, so does the listener, and when closer “Walk Alone” brings around its linear build of earliest Queens of the Stone Age righteousness, the effect is suitably engaging to round out what’s been a journey of considerable distance, subtle efficiency and nuance distinct largely unto itself despite the appearance throughout of familiar elements. It does not seem unreasonable to think it benefits from Rodriguez‘s and the band’s years of experience, but even in doing so it remains forward-looking, more about what where it can go than where Sgt. Sunshine have been before, and as a result, they can and do go just about anywhere. An open flow, memorable songcraft, and tight performances of loose-spirited swing — there’s more complexity to Plataformas than even the album itself seems to know, and that’s exactly what makes it such a triumph.