War Cloud Release New Single “Vulture City”

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

war cloud

I was all set to think of War Cloud‘s new single as their debut, but then — intrigue! A quick clickover to their BigCartel store reveals that not only is “Vulture City” not the Oakland, California, four-piece’s debut single, as posited in their initial communication, but they’ve already got an EP under their collective belt called Hurricane, with upward of five tracks on it. Entirely possible they’ve got a new lineup or something like that, and “Vulture City” is (obviously) my first exposure to the band, but just because it’s the only thing on their Bandcamp page doesn’t mean it’s the only thing they’ve put out. Life lessons all over the place.

First or no, “Vulture City” finds War Cloud digging into an encouraging dual-guitar blend of early thrash and heavy rock and roll, not necessarily out of place with the West Coast’s current riffy boom, but looking for a niche within it. I asked vocalist/guitarist Alex Wein for some comment on the track, and he confirmed that War Cloud will hit the studio again this summer and tour on the West Coast.

Info on “Vulture City,” words from him and the stream of the song itself follow here:

war cloud logo

Our latest track, Vulture City, now available here!

Recorded at Different Fur Studios, San Francisco, California. Mixed and mastered by Ron Graves.

Alex Wein on “Vulture City”

War Cloud received the opportunity to record at Different Fur Studios for Converse Rubber Tracks and we wrote Vulture City only days prior. We draw from all eras of rock, bringing Lizzy-like twin guitar leads, driving Motörhead rhythms, and bellowing Pentagram vocals. We are booked to record again in July at Louder studios for various upcoming projects and splits, which will be announced soon, as well as a west coast tour towards the end of Summer.

Alex Wein – Vocals/Guitar
Tony Campos – Guitar/Vocals
Sean Nishi – Bass/Vocals
Joaquin Ridgell – Drums/Vocals

https://www.facebook.com/warcloudiscoming/
https://www.instagram.com/WarCloudRock/
http://warcloud.bigcartel.com/
http://warcloudiscoming.bandcamp.com/track/vulture-city

War Cloud, “Vulture City”

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Hepatagua Announce East Coast Tour; Premiere New Track “Ganesha”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

hepatagua

If you want to give people a taste of what you’re going for with your debut EP, a 10-minute track will probably get the job done. Thus Boston-based duo Hepatagua unveil the sprawling “Ganesha,” the closing cut from their upcoming Worms release, which is out this Friday and which they’ll carry with them on their upcoming East Coast tour, all serving as a precursor to their first full-length, The Lost Art of Dropping Dead, due out later this year. Got all that? It’s a lot, I know.

The take-away is that Hepatagua, the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Gray and drummer Nate Linehan, are getting ready to unveil their first offering, Worms, by taking it down and back up the Eastern Seaboard for shows in Philly, Brooklyn, Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Alabama, etc. A release tour is a pretty bold move for a band like Hepatagua, but a listen to the EP finds their sound working likewise, either reveling in noisy aggro crush, as on its title-track, melding post-metallic progressive churn and soaring melodies on “No Rights” or moving from the initially frantic opening stretch of “Ganesha” to the patient, semi-psychedelic wandering that follows and rounds out with Gray‘s guitar offering full-on hypnotic drone at the finish.

You can hear “Ganesha” via the player below, following the tour info and some more background on Worms and the impending The Lost Art of Dropping Dead.

It all goes like this:

hepatagua worms

Hepatagua announces East Coast Spring 2016 Tour in support of their upcoming EP titled “Worms”

Boston sludge/doom/dark rock duo, Hepatagua are about to hit the road for their first East Coast tour. They’ll kick things off with an EP release (a selection of the upcoming LP) show at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston, MA on Friday April 8th, 2016 and then head out down to AL and back to support the EP. Also joining them will be local sludge titans, Phantom Glue, hardcore/metal/thrashers Jack Burton vs David Lo Pan (also their LAST SHOW), and sludge/doom heartthrobs, Upheaval.

Hepatagua East Coast TOUR DATES
4/8/16 O’Brien’s Pub – Allston, MA
4/9/16 33 Golden St – New London, CT
4/10/16 Lucky 13 Saloon – Brooklyn, NY
4/12/16 The Radio Room – Greenville, SC
4/13/16 The Ordnance – Birmingham, AL
4/14/16 Union EAV – Atlanta, GA
4/15/16 The Odditorium, Asheville, NC
4/16/16 Guido’s Speakeasy, Frederick, MD
4/17/16 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA

Hepatagua was once described as a two headed giant fighting another giant with the limbs of a third giant. It came to life in 2013, when BFF’s Nate Linehan (of AxCx/Fistula fame) and Aaron Gray (owner of Grayskull Booking) came to realize that they loved The Melvins, Nirvana, High on Fire, Failure, and formed a two piece dedicated to the riff and the exploration of playing whatever genre they feel like as long as it’s heavy as fvck. They’ve shared stages with the likes of Weedeater, King Parrot, Jucifer, Lo-Pan, and more and their debut EP, Worms, is just a taste of their upcoming LP titled “The Lost Art of Dropping Dead.”

www.facebook.com/hepatagua
www.hepatagua.bandcamp.com
twitter : @hepatagua

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Naxatras Release New EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

naxatras

Greek heavy psych instrumentalists Naxatras have a released a surprise two-song EP in advance of their second album. The trio had discussed offering a 10″ before following up their wildly received 2015 self-titled debut, and I’m not sure if the tracks included on this untitled offering — “Muscle Red Horse” and “Pulsar 4000” — will wind up on that and they just decided to put them out early for a fun April Fools Day thing or what. Either way, the sound is right on in its live feel and organic groove, with “Muscle Red Horse” having a bit more crunch to it while “Pulsar 4000” pushes outward on a more serene, spaced-out course in its second half. I expect it will be met with few complaints.

Naxatras have also apparently pressed up another run of CDs for the self-titled, one of which I think I’ll pick up. Their sophomore LP is among my most anticipated for 2016 as well, so needless to say, I’m looking forward to its arrival. These guys seem to have something special to offer and have already resonated in a significant way. The new tracks give a pretty solid indication why.

Dig it:naxatras ep

RIDE THE PSYCHEDELIC HORSE!!!

100% Analog Live Direct-to-Master Recording at Magnetic Fidelity. Engineered by Jesus I. Agnew. Artwork by Skitsos.

Naxatras is a hard psychedelic rock band from Greece. They play a warm psychedelia full of fat grooves, dreamy melodies, heavy riffs and trippy guitar solos all with the vintage touch of the 70’s.

They have been playing since 2012, developing their sound and finally recorded their first full-length album in a 100% analog way at Magnetic Fidelity (a studio in rural northern Greece) with Jesus Agnew, an engineer experienced in the field of analog and DIY recordings. Only analog equipment was used in the recording-mixing-mastering stages of the album. All the songs in the record were performed entirely live during just one day.

The band does high-energy live performances combining elements of psychedelic/progressive rock, stoner, funk, jazz and eastern music with a trippy video wall to accomplish full stimulation of the senses. In summer 2015 they went on their first tour playing five european countries.

EP tracklisting:
1. Muscle Red Horse
2. Pulsar 4000

https://www.facebook.com/naxatras/
https://naxatras.bandcamp.com/album/ep

Naxatras, EP (2016)

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Toke on Tour Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

toke

Cape Fear sludge upstarts Toke will spend a decent portion of April on the road, heading north from their homebase in North Carolina and back south again on a run supporting their recently-issued split tape with Green Fiend. The band have also been confirmed as taking part in the Denver Electric Funeral Fest and Maryland Doom Fest, so it seems likely there are more dates to be announced for the summer as well.

What makes that seem even more likely is that Toke share the bill on Denver Electric Funeral Fest with Sourvein (among others, of course). As the two bands are based in Cape Fear, it doesn’t strike me as particularly crazy to think they might travel together, and Sourvein rarely go anywhere without touring. Toke would fit well on a bill alongside them, but of course nothing’s been confirmed so far as I know. That’s just me speculating.

In the meantime, Toke will share stages with a host of East Coast luminaries, including Heavy Temple and Wizard Eye in Philly, Foghound in Baltimore, Reign of Zaius and River Cult in Brooklyn, and Dutchguts in my former (but still beloved) Garden State, so if a name below seems unfamiliar for some reason, there’s a lot of good company being kept here.

Dates follow:

toke tour dates

We hit the road soon check it also we are on Instagram @toke_nc

4/2/16 Charlotte NC @ snug harbor w/ the seduction
4/15/16 Richmond VA Wonderland bar w/ Book of Wyrms & Melt
4/16/16 Philladelphia PA @ shred shed w/ Heavy Temple & Wizard Eye
4/17/16 Allentown PA @ Alternative Gallery w/ Heavy Temple, Under the Clothesline & Goatwizard
4/18/16 Asbury Park NJ @ wonder bar w/ Hand of Weed
4/19/16 Lucky 13 Saloon Brooklyn NYC w/ Reign of Zaius & River Cult
4/20/16 Montclair NJ @ Meatlocker w/ Dutchguts
4/21/16 Baltimore MD @ Windup Gallery w/ Gateway to Hell & Foghound
4/22/16 Frederick MD @ Guidos Speakeasy
4/23/16 Hagerstown MD @ R&K Pub w/ Fortress
4/24/16 Greensboro @ NYP w/ Dirac, Dogs Eyes and mini guns
4/29/16 Reggies 42nd street tavern
6/4-6/5 Denver Colorado electric funeral fest
6/26/16 Maryland Doom Fest Frederick MD

https://www.facebook.com/TokeDoom/
http://tokenc.bandcamp.com/
http://tokedoom.bigcartel.com/
https://www.instagram.com/toke_nc/

Toke, “Legalize Sin”

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Quarterly Review: Eight Bells, Öken, Brimstone Coven, Pants Exploder, Shallows, Monumentum, Famyne, Ethereal Riffian, Wet Cactus, Forming the Void

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

I thought yesterday went pretty well, by which I mean I didn’t receive any complaints that somebody’s name was spelled wrong (yet), so I feel alright going into the second batch of releases for the Quarterly Review. Today mixes it up a bit, which is something I always enjoy doing with these, and while I’ll take pains to emphasize that the list of releases today, as with every day, isn’t in order, there was no way I wasn’t going to start with the first record below. Some albums just demand top placement.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Eight Bells, Landless

eight bells landless

However you define the word “heavy” as it relates to music, Eight Bells are it. The Portland, Oregon, trio release their second album and first for Battleground Records in the form of the five-track Landless, and from the opening sprawl and lumber of “Hating” through the crawling-plus-blasting chaos of “Touch Me,” a strong progressive current underscores the material – most notably the 13-minute title-track, but really the rest as well, which flows gracefully even in its harshest moments, the blackened rush in the second half of “Landless,” for example, which follows psychedelic drones and harmonies just minutes before, or the similar thrust of centerpiece “Hold My Breath,” which works in tighter quarters but manages to span genres all the same. “The Mortal’s Suite” provides some respite in airy guitar and airier vocals, giving new drummer Rae Amitay a break while showcasing the harmonies of guitarist Melynda Jackson (ex-SubArachnoid Space) and bassist Haley Westeiner. As open atmospherically as the band is in their creative scope, there just isn’t a level on which Landless isn’t superb.

Eight Bells on Thee Facebooks

Battleground Records

 

Öken, Öken

oken oken

Swedish four-piece Öken do themselves huge favors by refusing to be easily categorized on their 2015 self-titled Ozium Records debut full-length, which runs an immersive 62 minutes and blends doom, classic heavy/desert rock and forest psych with subtle grace throughout its eight tracks, each of which is fleshed out in an overarching naturalist atmosphere. “Väktaren” dives headfirst into boogie only after initial minimalist teasing, and “Crimson Moon” bursts to life after a hypnotic psychedelic opening to find its crux in later runs of dueling guitars. The two closing cuts, “Under Vår Sol” and “Cuauhtémoc” are an album unto themselves, the former nodding initially at Sungrazer’s serene vibes before pushing into even more open psychedelic territory, and the latter proffering riffy largesse en route to a striking classic prog finish. That Öken make these elements work side-by-side and transition from one to the other fluidly is emblematic of the confidence at work in the band, and they carry their scope with organic-sounding ease.

Öken on Thee Facebooks

Ozium Records

 

Brimstone Coven, Black Magic

brimstone coven black magic

West Virginian roots doomers Brimstone Coven made their debut on Metal Blade in 2015 with a self-titled EP compilation (track stream here), and Black Magic is their first full-length. Its 10 tracks/54 minutes take cues varyingly from classic heavy rock, doom and the less majestic side of the NWOBHM, but Brimstone Coven’s approach is marked out by the extensive use of vocal harmonies on cuts like the prog-tinged “Beyond the Astral,” the later moments of raw-roller “Upon the Mountain” and “The Plague.” Black Magic’s production is barebones enough that this singing – credited solely to “Big John” Williams, while Corey Roth handles guitar, Andrew D’Cagna bass and Justin Wood drums – doesn’t really soar so much as nestle in and enhance the begging-for-vinyl analog-worship of the instruments surrounding, a proliferation of cultish themes distinguishing Brimstone Coven even as a song like “The Seers” finds them inheriting a trad-doom soulfulness from The Gates of Slumber.

Brimstone Coven on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records

 

Pants Exploder, Pants Exploder

pants exploder pants exploder

Between its vicious aggression, inhumane chug and have-fun-enduring-this stomp, the self-titled, self-released debut LP from Pants Exploder could just as easily be definitive New York noise, but the low-end heft of their assault right from opener “It’s Ok, I’m Wiccan.” (punctuation included in title) has an element of early-Mastodonic lumber, and that’s a thread that continues throughout “End of the World” and “You Don’t Strike Me as a Reader,” which offsets its slab-of-concrete-on-your-chest push with moments of respite, but remains driving in its intensity. As in, driving your head into the ground. Also the ground is pavement. It’s fucking heavy, is the point. To wit, the mega-plod of “Um, I Curated an Art Show in College, So…” and thrust of “God Has a Plan for Me.” Capping with the seven-minute “You Smug Bastard,” Pants Exploder pays off the tension they build in a noise-wash fury that is as impressive as it is scathing.

Pants Exploder on Thee Facebooks

Pants Exploder on Bandcamp

 

Shallows, The Moon Rises

shallows the moon rises

The rather ominous The Moon Rises EP is the first non-demo offering from Asheville, North Carolina, four-piece Shallows, who blend heavy psychedelic and grunge influences across its five tracks, opener “Shimmering” and closer “Distance” mirroring each other’s spacious push while between, “Zero,” “A Mile Beneath” and the Earth-influenced “The Barn Burning” enact gorgeous vocal harmonies between Cameron Zarrabzadeh and HannahLynn Cruey atop atmospheric heavy rock, hitting into Alice in Chains-meets-Kylesa territory on the centerpiece, “A Mile Beneath,” which is a fair bit of ground to cover. That cut is the high point in showcasing Shallows’ potential, but the Western take with “The Barn Burning” and meandering post-rock echoes and organ of “Distance” only add to the breadth of this impressive, too-short collection. With a focus consistently kept on ambience throughout, The Moon Rises flows like a full-length album, and so bodes that much better for what Shallows will be able to accomplish when they get there. I’ll look forward to it.

Shallows on Thee Facebooks

Shallows on Bandcamp

 

Monumentum, The Killer is Me

monumentum the killer is me

Even before they get to the all the aggro fuzz riffing, there’s a distinct threat of violence in Monumentum’s The Killer is Me. Its four songs, “Noose,” “Whore,” “Fiend and Foe” and “Killer Me,” each seem to find the Norwegian band doling out noise-influenced heavy rock, driven by some underlying dissatisfaction on this, their first EP. Released on vinyl through Blues for the Red Sun Records, it offsets being so outwardly pissed off through groove, the starts and stops of “Killer Me” and the rolling seven minutes of opener and longest track “Noose” (immediate points) both marked out for both their tonal weight and the force with which Monumentum push their material forward – not speedy, though “Whore” is by no means slow, but dense and emitting a residual tension all the same. Somewhat unipolar in its mood, The Killer is Me still manages to give an initial impression of what Monumentum are about sound-wise, and provides them with a solid start to work from.

Monumentum on Thee Facebooks

Blues for the Red Sun Records

 

Famyne, Famyne

famyne famyne

While the UK isn’t at all short on doom or sludge at this point, Canterbury five-piece Famyne distinguish themselves on their self-titled first EP with a traditional take and the at-times theatric harmonies of vocalist Tom Vane. Along with guitarists Alex Tolson and Alex Williams, bassist Chris Travers and drummer Jake Cook, Vane nods at Alice in Chains on lumbering opener “Enter the Sloth” without going full-on “hey whoa momma yeah” and provides a considerable frontman presence, particularly for a debut recording. Comprising three songs with the speedier bonus track “Long Lost Winter” as an add-on download with the CD version, Famyne’s Famyne EP finds its crux in the nod and push of the 10-minute “The Forgotten,” which takes a cue atmospherically from The Wounded Kings but finds its own, less-cultish niche in bringing new energy to classic doom and setting in motion a progression that already puts an individual stamp on established tenets.

Famyne on Thee Facebooks

Famyne on Bandcamp

 

Ethereal Riffian, Youniversal Voice

ethereal riffian youniversal voice

There’s patient, and then there’s Ethereal Riffian, whose riffy ritualizing and exploration nonetheless brims with some intangible energetic sensibility on their new live outing, Youniversal Voice. Heavy psychedelic wash, thick riffs, theatric vocals and guitar effects, stoner roll and the occasional fit of shredding, one might hear any of it at a given point in over-12-minute cuts like “Wakan Tanka” and “Anatman,” the latter which arrives as the penultimate of the eight-song/56-minute set. The clarity, for being a live album, is remarkable, and Ethereal Riffian add to the experience with a CD version that includes a candle, elaborate packaging and artwork, and tea, so the multi-sensory impression is obviously important, and where many live outings are throwaways or a means of bowing to contractual obligation, Youniversal Voice adds to Ethereal Riffian’s studio work a substantial ambassasorial feel, conveying an onstage vibe with a fullness of sound and clarity of mind not often heard.

Ethereal Riffian on Thee Facebooks

Ethereal Riffian on Bandcamp

 

Wet Cactus, Wet Cactus

wet cactus wet cactus

Desert rock trio Wet Cactus don’t make any bones about where they’re getting their influence from on their late-2015 self-titled second EP. By the time they get around to the penultimate “The Road” on the five-track/24-minute outing, they’ve dug themselves in deep into the worship of crunchy Kyuss-style riffing, and you can throw in looks for Unida, Queens of the Stone Age, Slo Burn and whoever else of that milieu, but Kyuss is at the root of it all anyway. Less grand in their production than UK outfit Steak, who operated in similar territory on their 2014 debut LP, Slab City, Wet Cactus keep it natural in the tradition of their forebears, and while there’s room for them to grow into a more individual approach, the hazy fuckall in closer “World’s Law” has a stoner charm before and after it kicks into a punkish push to close out. Cool vibe either way, and the tone is dead on. If these cats go jammier, watch out.

Wet Cactus on Thee Facebooks

Odio Sonoro

 

Forming the Void, Skyward

forming the void skyward

I won’t say a bad word about the artwork of David Paul Seymour in the context of this review or any other, but ultimately, Louisiana doomers Forming the Void are coming from someplace much more in line with progressive metal than the three-eyed goat and robed figures on the cover of their second album, Skyward, might represent. Again, that’s not a knock on Seymour, or for that matter, the band, just that the look of the record is deceptive, dogwhistling stonerisms even as moody cuts like the opening title-track and “Three Eyed Gazelle” – while thoroughly doomed in their vibe – prove more lucidly constructed. That holds true through the chugging centerpiece “Saber” as well, marked out by vocal harmonizing, and “Return Again,” which rolls through atmospheric metal and an ambient interlude to enact the record’s most memorable payoff and set up the linear course of the more patient closer “Sleepwalker.” Cohesive in mood and clearly plotted, Skyward is ultimately darker and more driven than it might at first appear.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Forming the Void on Bandcamp

 

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Boudain Premiere “Sleazy Feats” from Way of the Hoof

Posted in audiObelisk on March 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

boudain

Louisiana heavy rockers Boudain will release their debut, Way of the Hoof on — when else? — April 20. It’s an eight-track full-length that, yeah, will get your standard stoner rock comparisons to Kyuss and the Melvins, earning the former on “Neptune” and the latter on “Disco Jimmy” — and also because riffs — but for my money, it owes way more of its crux to the early work of New Orleans natives Suplecs than to those other, not-from-around-there bands. You can hear it in opening track “Sleazy Feats” and in how bassist/vocalist Chris Porter handles the vocals for the Blue Öyster Cult cover “Godzilla,” also notably taken on by Fu Manchu. In his inflection there, and in the bottom-ended fuzz that he, guitarists Brian Lenard and David Karakash and drummer Stephen Jester bask in throughout the record, 2000’s Wrestlin’ with My Lady Friend and 2001’s Sad Songs… Better Days definitely seem to have had a hand in informing the style and attitude, which comes in touting obsessions with pork products, space and who the hell knows what else.

Now, I’ll happily grant that Monroe, where Boudain are based, is closer to Jackson, Mississippi, than it is to New Orleans, and it’s not a singular influence by any means — but the boudain way of the hoofshouts and rolling groove of “CODA” and even the chug-happy nod of “First Class” seem to bear it out. Boudain ride out the thickened riffs of “3 Man” in classic stonerly fashion, long-since passing the halfway point of the five-minute cut before the first verse starts, and in addition to the aforementioned Suplecs, Texas’ Mr. Plow and other underappreciated heavy rockers of the late ’90s and early ’00s come to mind, as well as some shades of Southern sludge, which is just about requisite for the Down/C.O.C. stylings of “The Mighty Turn Around.” Earlier in the album, “Coda” played off some similar ideas — a tonal molasses from Lenard and Karakash, with leads liberally sprinkled about from one or the other — but maybe it’s knowing that the eight-minute lurch of “Disco Jimmy” is waiting that makes “The Mighty Turn Around” seem even heavier. Truth be told, it’s all pretty heavy. Free of pretense, or the need for sonic equivocation, Boudain get down to the business of riff on their first LP, and business is drunk.

And yeah, they close out with that “Godzilla” cover. It’s way closer to the Fu‘s version than BÖC‘s, as one might guess, but tuned down and slowed down even from that, so that it comes across all the more plodding in its affect. Aside from the numerical significance, Boudain are probably right to release Way of the Hoof in spring. Right at the start of grilling season seems the perfect time for a record that smokes the way this one does. With just a bit of gristle.

Today I have the pleasure of hosting “Sleazy Feats” as a streaming premiere. You’ll find it, followed by more info from the PR wire, on the player below.

Get down:

Louisiana Stoner Metallers BOUDAIN will release Way of the Hoof, the band’s debut full-length, on April 20. The album is the follow-up to the group’s highly regarded s/t 2013 EP and is a storm of Space, Pork, and Riffs!

Recorded at SpaceLab 420 Studios, Way of the Hoof is perfect for anyone who enjoys the kind of groove that makes you want to smoke out, grill out, and chill with the swine. Hailing from Monroe, LA and featuring heavy (literally and figuratively) influence from genre-legends like SLEEP, THE MELVINS, KYUSS and FU MANCHU, BOUDAIN is ready to unleash their sun-blistered, misery-laden brand of stoner metal on audiences nationwide with Way Of the Hoof.

Track List:
1. Sleazy Feats
2. Neptune
3. CODA
4. 3 Man
5. First Class
6. The Mighty Turn Around
7. Disco Jimmy
8. Godzilla*
*Blue Öyster Cult cover

Boudain on Thee Facebooks

Boudain on Twitter

Boudain on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Wheel in the Sky, Sun Dial, LSD & the Search for God, Duel, The Canadian Sweetmen, Wren, Transient, Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Telstar Sound Drone, Fantasy Arcade

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

So it begins. I’d say this one snuck up on me, but the terrible truth of these things is that there are months of planning involved. You know the drill by now: Between today and Friday, I’ll be posting 50 record reviews in batches of 10 per day, and that’s the Quarterly Review. They’re not really in any order. Some have been out for a while, some aren’t out yet. I have tried to mark 2015 stuff where possible, if only to keep my own organizational modus straight. We’ll see how that goes as the week plays out. In any case, I hope you find something here that you dig. I know I have.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Wheel in the Sky, Heading for the Night

wheel in the sky heading for the night

Although Wheel in the Sky’s presentation is modern enough on their The Sign Records debut album, Heading for the Night, to steer them clear of Sweden’s boogie-mad masses, they’re still very clearly taking influence from classic rock, most notably The Who on cuts like opener “Fire, Death to All” (also the longest track; immediate points), “Total Eclipse of the Brain” and “Thrust in the Night.” The clarity of sound and approach puts them more in line with bands like The Golden Grass and, for a countrymen example, Troubled Horse, than Graveyard, and the Uppsala/Stockholm four-piece distinguish themselves further through the dual-lead interplay of “A Turn for the Wicked,” which hints just a bit toward Thin Lizzy bounce to feed into closer “God on High,” which coats its vocals in echo to add a sense of grandeur before the last instrumental push, which picks up the pace at the end to cap a first album from a band clearly looking to find their own niche within a classic heavy rock feel.

Wheel in the Sky on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control

sun dial mind control

Offered first by the band in 2012 and reissued through Sulatron Records with two bonus tracks from the same recording session, Sun Dial’s Mind Control puts the long-running UK psych/space rockers in their element in a kosmiche expanse quickly on “Mountain of Fire and Miracles,” and while electronic experimentation is a factor throughout “Radiation” and “Burned In,” there’s always a human spirit underneath and sometimes out front in what Sun Dial do, and the newly-included “Seven Pointed Star” and “World Within You” fit in with the sense of acid ritual that the original album tracks convey, the title cut transposing Hawkwindian warp drive on a more relaxed atmosphere, each measure seemingly a mantra in a longer meditation. Even with its wah-soaked ending, “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” has a more straightforward tack, proving that even when you think you know what a group like Sun Dial are up to, you’re probably wrong.

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Mind Control at Sulatron Records

 

LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place

lsd and the search for god heaven is a place

The second EP from San Francisco-based shoegazing psychedelic rockers LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place, arrives a whopping nine years after its self-titled predecessor. Granted, it might be the wash of effects and the almost-whispered vocal melodies that seem to barely break the surface of the waves of airy distortion, but if any of this material goes back that far, it doesn’t show its age. The five-piece – guitarist/vocalist Andy Liszt, vocalist Sophia Cambell, guitarist Chris Fifield, bassist Ryan Lescure and drummer Ricky Maymi – offer five tracks of blissed-out, dripping wet vibe, with “Outer Space (Long Way Home)” at the center of a post-grunge swirl following the cosmic push of “(I Don’t Think that We Should) Take it Slow” and before the serenity of “Elizabeth” takes hold as a lead-in for seven-minute finale “Without You,” simultaneously the most lucid and dreamy of the cuts included. Nine years is a long time. Heaven is a Place begs for a quicker follow-up.

LSD and the Search for God on Thee Facebooks

LSD and the Search for God on Bandcamp

 

Duel, Fears of the Dead

duel fears of the dead

Austin purveyors Duel make a striking impression from the cover onward with their Heavy Psych Sounds full-length debut, Fears of the Dead. The four-piece, which by all reports features two former members of Scorpion Child, get down with classic swing on the opening title-track and thereby broadcast the intent of the album as a whole, bringing ‘70s-style grooves and boogie forward in time with modern fullness and a crisp production that highlights the gruff vocals of guitarist Tom Frank, who alongside bassist/vocalist Shaun Avants, guitarist Derek Halfmann and drummer JD Shadowz, swaggers through the record’s eight included slabs as one might through a crowded venue for the next in a long series of an evening’s beers. Later cuts like “When the Pigs are Fed” and 7:52 closer “Locked Outside” bring some more variety to the approach, but the heart of Fears of the Dead remains brash and unbridled, and one doubts if Duel would have it any other way.

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Heavy Psych Sounds

 

The Canadian Sweetmen, Intro b/w New Cigarettes

the canadian sweetmen intro new cigarettes

One might blink and miss the debut single from somewhat mysterious psychedelic rockers The Canadian Sweetmen, which totals its A and B sides together for a runtime of about four and a half minutes, but the fact that the 90-second “Intro” (the A side) manages to marry The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys in that span is definitely something worth taking the time to note. There’s just about no information on the band as to who they are, where they come from, where they’re going, etc., but the three-minute “New Cigarettes” makes an impression on style and substance alike and offers an encouraging glimpse at what seems to be a psychedelia bolstered by organ and Rhodes and unbound by a need to adhere to genre tenets. “Intro” doesn’t even stick around long enough to do so, but “New Cigarettes” careens into a rhythmic push for its chorus that offers an earthy undertone to the heady, spaced-out vibe. More please.

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Wren, Host

wren host

Absolutely devastating. UK post-sludgers Wren dole out a punishment that won’t be soon forgotten on their second EP, Host (on Holy Roar), following up the blackened post-rock of their 2014 self-titled EP (review here) and their 2015 split with Irk (review here) with four pummeling but still richly atmospheric cuts. Working now as the lineup of Owen Jones, Chris Pickering, Robert Letts and John McCormick, Wren have had three different vocalists on their three releases, but not a one of them has failed to add to the ambience and crushing impression of their riffs, and the hook of “No Séance” particularly on Host signifies that despite whatever lineup shifts they may have had, Wren continue to progress and refine their attack. “Stray,” “No Séance,” “The Ossuary” and “Loom” are unshakable, deeply weighted and righteously spaced. They may have flown somewhat under the radar up to this point, but Wren are too loud to be a well kept secret for much longer.

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Transient, Transient

transient transient

Some 12 years after their initial demo surfaced in 2003, Massachusetts’ Transient present an atmospheric take on alt-metal with their self-titled debut full-length, self-released last fall. Bringing together nine tracks/46 minutes with a patient but tense pacing and underlying currents of progressive metal in cuts like “Ditch of Doubt” and “Wrong Time,” it unfolds gracefully with the intro “Voyager One” and finds an aggressive burst in “Wrong Time” and the Tool-gone-psych build of the penultimate “Slightest Scare.” That song is part of an extended two-cut closing suite with “Hold this Grudge,” which highlights Scott McCooe’s bass tone as it provides a surprising but satisfying laid back finish. McCooe, joined here by guitarist/vocalist Tim Hayes and drummer John Harris, splits his time with metalcore progenitors Overcast, and as Transient was recorded over a year’s stretch and then mixed and mastered a year after that – living up to the band’s name – it may be a while before a follow-up, but after so long from their demo, it’s still a welcome debut.

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Transient on Bandcamp

 

Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Split

desert storm suns of thunder split

Issued by H42 Records in a limited edition for this year’s Desertfest, the new split 7” from UK heavy platoons Desert Storm and Suns of Thunder is so dudely they could sell it as vitamin supplements on late-night tv. A complex critique of gender it is not, heavy it is. One track from each band. Desert Storm bring the burl of “Signals from Beyond,” which with its strong hook and gravely vocals brings to mind Orange Goblin nestled into a nodding riff. For Swansea’s Suns of Thunder, it’s “Earn Your Stripes,” with its complex vocal arrangements for lyrics about small men and big men, paying your dues and other whathaveyou that dominant culture tells those with testicles will make them more complete people. Fine. Masculinity and femininity are scams to sell pants, but “Earn Your Stripes” is catchy as all anything and “Signals from Beyond” is even catchier than however catchy that is, so a testosterone overdose seems a small price to pay.

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Telstar Sound Drone, Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles

telstar sound drone magical solutions to everyday problems

Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles is the second album from Copenhagen-based auralnauts Telstar Sound Drone, and like much of what Bad Afro releases, it presents a strong temptation to drop out, tune in and turn on. Little surprise the band is something of an offshoot from Baby Woodrose, sharing guitarist Mads Saaby and drummer Hans Beck with the seminal garage rockers, but the lush impression made on “Something I Can’t Place” with the watery vocals of Sean Jardenbæk comes from an even more lysergic place, and the experimental side that comes through on “Closer Again,” “Dark Kashmir” and the languid “Dead Spaces” is a multi-tiered dreamscape that closer “Lean down on White” seems sad to leave. Reasonably so. With guest spots from members of Spids Nøgenhat, Bite the Bullet and Baby Woodrose (Kåre Joensen on bass/synth), Telstar Sound Drone’s sophomore outing is an otherworldly psychedelic vision that, as promised, does seem to cure what ails, exciting even in its most subdued moments.

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Bad Afro Records

 

Fantasy Arcade, Fantasy Arcade

fantasy arcade fantasy arcade

Initially offered by the band in 2012 and subsequently pressed to a six-song 7” and jewel case CD, the self-titled debut EP from San Diego trio Fantasy Arcade only runs about 11 minutes, but that’s all it needs to bring together punk, thrash, sludge and heavy rock across fuckall-heavy cuts like “The Dwarves are Missing” – the longest song here at 3:38 – and the rumbling finale “Die Before You Suck,” which gallops and shouts and seems to crash into walls on its way out, though drummer/vocalist Adam, bassist/vocalist Chris and guitarist Mike actually do well in deciding when to keep control and when to let it go. More nuanced than it lets on, Fantasy Arcade is an aggressive pulse given to moments of frustration boiling over, but being rooted in metal as much as punk, its dwelling in two worlds gives heft to the freneticism at play, as shown in “Poison Arrow,” the first half of which runs at a sprint right into the brick wall slowdown of its second, and final, minute.

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Methadone Skies Premiere Title-Track of New LP Colosseus

Posted in audiObelisk on March 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

methadone skies

Romanian instrumental four-piece Methadone Skies will release their new album, Colosseus, April 4 via Haywire Records. It is their third full-length behind 2012’s Enter the Void (review here) and 2014’s Eclectic Electric, and it brings with it five new tracks that feed into a central linear flow across a 39-minute LP span, starting with the push-you-into-the-fray rush of opener “Muscufo” and continuing through the crunching, lumbering finish of closer “Master of Convulsions.” Between those two, on “The Elemental,” the brief, sub-three-minute centerpiece “Ruse” and the title-track, Methadone Skies situate themselves somewhere between heavy rock, psychedelia and progressive doom, playing to one side or the other through songs that are immersive without the need for verses or choruses, and which draw a complex picture of where the Timisoara-based band — guitarists Wehry and Casi, bassist Mihai and drummer Retea — are at seven years into their tenure.

Topped off with artwork by Tonino Bosco, Colosseus begins at a rush with the progressive tapping that starts “Moscufo,” and while much of what ensues will be more indebted to Karma to Burn, they never completely give up that sense of something deeper happening than a simple methadone skies colosseusparade of riffs. By the time it’s three minutes in, “Moscufo” has established a back and forth between dense distorted roll and this airier type of noodling, and as interplay between the two guitars is marked out early as fair game, it becomes a distinguishing factor as Colosseus continues to play out through the flowing stretches of the nine-minute “The Elemental,” which balances post-rock and heavy low end thrust more than ably en route to a half-time-drummed drone-out, less contrasting tones than setting one behind the other to bolster its position, and into “Ruse.” The aforementioned center cut, the shortest at 2:55, is also the most spacious, bringing those post-rock elements to the fore as an interlude. One can’t help but wonder if it was given its title as a reference to the manner in which it lulls the listener into a false sense of security before the heft of the extended B-side tracks “Colosseus” and “Master of Convulsions” kick in, but if it’s delusion, it’s a pleasant one.

With such a peaceful stretch preceding — not to mention with its title — it falls on “Colosseus” to be the album’s most weighted offering, and for its first movement alone it indeed might be that, but as it moves past its initial thrust and chug, it shifts into a long stretch of open tones and far-back percussion that makes “Ruse” seem downright prescient, rather than a work of trickery. Thicker tones reemerge as it passes the halfway point and once again Wehry and Casi lead the winding course, but even as it comes to a fuzzy head past 10 minutes in, “Colosseus” holds true to its overlaid progginess, and in that way it very much represents the record as a whole, which takes a speedy victory lap in the beginnings of “Master of Convulsions,” before a more percussive and grooving break takes hold and sets the stage for the final build. Structurally similar to the title-track ultimately, “Master of Convulsions” is marked out by the massive slowdown in its second half, and while it’s not Methadone Skies‘ only intent with their third offering, clearly they didn’t want to let it end without leaving a crater behind. So be it.

Ahead of the April 4 release for Colosseus, I’m thrilled today to be hosting the premiere of the title-track. You can find it in the YouTube embed below.

Please enjoy:

Methadone Skies, “Colosseus”

Second reveal from our new album ,COLOSSEUS”, to be released on the 4th of April 2016 via HAYWIRE RECORDS.

Recorded, mixed and mastered at Consonance Studio Timisoara between August 2016 and January 2016.

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Haywire Records

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