Astrosoniq, Big Ideas Dare Imagination: Celebration

Posted in Reviews on June 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Astrosoniq Big Ideas Dare Imagination

One year ago, on June 3, 2017, Astrosoniq lost one of their own with the passing of programmer, booker and friend Bidi van Drongelen. Bidi was known throughout the Dutch and greater European heavy underground as the head of Bidi Bookings and his passing was and continues to be deeply felt by those who knew him. Among the tributes in his honor is Big Ideas Dare Imagination — note the first letter of each word in the title — which is the fifth full-length release for the Wizards of Oss and, fittingly enough, an experiment unto its very making, with a core duo of Ron van Herpen (guitar, bass) and Marcel van de Vondervoort (drums, programming, recording, mixing) employing a succession of vocalists across six widely varied tracks running a total of 40 minutes.

Some play guitar or bass as well, and Otto Kokke of Dead Neanderthals adds scorching saxophone to the penultimate “Vision Factor,” and Astrosoniq vocalist Fred van Bergen and bassist Robert-Jan van Gruijthijzen — who with keyboardist Teun van de Velden (not featured here) rounded out the basic five-piece that appeared on the last Astrosoniq record, Quadrant (review here), in 2009 — both make appearances as well. Of all the singers involved, van Bergen is the only one to show up twice, on side A closer “Mindless” and the aforementioned “Vision Factor,” while van Gruijthijzen helms the vocals and lyrics on opener “King,” plays bass on that song and second track “The Great Escape,” and contributes to the writing of that song and “Mindless.” It doesn’t get any less complex from there. Ah hell, here’s the tracklisting with guest personnel:

1. King (RJ van Gruijthijzen on vocals, bass, lyrics)
2. The Great Escape (RJ van Gruijthijzen on bass, Rob Martin of RRRags and Bliksem on vocals/lyrics)
3. Mindless (Fred van Bergen on vocals)
4. Keppra! (Joris Dirks of Moodswing and Agua de Annique on vocals, bass and guitar)
5. Vision Factor (Fred van Bergen on vocals, Otto Kokke on sax)
6. Freezen (Fred Händl of A.P. Lady adds lyrics for Mark Watson’s spoken word and Peggy Meeussen of Bliksem’s singing)

Astrosoniq aren’t strangers to switching up their sound. Going back to their 2000 debut, Son of A.P. Lady (discussed here and here) and across 2002’s Soundgrenade (discussed here), 2006’s Speeder People (discussed here), and the aforementioned Quadrant, there’s been very little outside their purview in terms of style. Country, funk, metal, psychedelia, space rock, weirdo noise, on and on. They have been and remain a deeply creative band. The difference is that on Big Ideas Dare Imagination, that extends to the makeup of the band itself.

In that way, it would be a mistake to judge Big Ideas Dare Imagination like a conventional album, because it isn’t one. Astrosoniq‘s project here isn’t simply to make another record, but to memorialize their friend and compatriot, like sitting shiva in a recording studio. One has to wonder if a fifth Astrosoniq LP would even exist without van Drongelen‘s passing as the driver. After being sidelined for several years owing to health problems on the part of van de Vondervoort, the group had made a sort-of return to playing live, but it’s entirely possible they wouldn’t have reconvened for new material, and even if they did, it almost certainly wouldn’t have been in this form/format. It could be argued, then, that Bidi should get some credit on that tracklisting too, for inspiration and for being the driving force behind pushing the band to create a new work. Certainly though, the clear dedication to him shown in the outing speaks to this.

astrosoniq bidi van drongelen

And of course, though it’s also a record about more than just its songs, Big Ideas Dare Imagination also does work to fit in the Astrosoniq catalog. It’s helpful that longtime listeners of the band know to approach with an open mind, because even with the vocal swaps that follow the ultra-memorable, sort of bizarrely lurching hook of “King,” there is a root beneath that feel contiguous with what they’ve done before. Ron van Herpen‘s riffing style, varied in its influence and execution, but always crisp and classy, is present throughout the drift and later drive and apex of “The Great Escape” and the more down-to-earth turns of “Mindless” as well, which has elements of classic metal in its sharper edges but still remains firmly entrenched in heavy rock, particularly with van Bergen‘s vocals in the forward position and van de Vondervoort‘s uptempo timekeeping. The side A finale might be the most grounded stretch of the album but it’s by no means the only rocking moment. From the grit-fueled, noise-backed stomp of “King” onward, Astrosoniq hold firm to who they are throughout all the changes, which is all the better, because of course the changes are a part of who they are.

Joris Dirks‘ performance on “Keppra!” is an immediate standout. Taking it next to its side A-opening counterpart “King,” it’s a far more fragile-sounding and emotionalist vibe, with a semi-indie spirit in its fluidity that reminds my East Coast US ears of Cave In‘s post-punk, but the guitar solo that emerges just before the halfway point is more rocking at its foundation. Between his vocal style and adding bass and guitar to the song, there’s no question Dirks makes “Keppra!” his own, and following the long instrumental stretch that begins with the already-noted solo, a turn back to the verse and chorus wrap it up smoothly just in time to have the sax at the start of “Vision Factor” hit like a punch in the face. In its way, this too is quintessential Astrosoniq — knowing what the song needs and being creative enough to make it happen, without concern for genre or expectation, being always in service to the song itself.

It’s that spirit that has allowed Astrosoniq to get as outwardly strange as they sometimes will over the years — everything they do, they do in the name of songwriting. It’s the expression of an idea that’s paramount. The sax in “Vision Factor” leads the way in a freaked-out second half of the track with a steady space rock chug beneath, and “Freezen” pairs thick-English-accented narration and a soaring chorus (that’s Watson and Meeusen, respectively) with a thickened thrashy riff beneath, creating a tension that each hook pays off even as it provides some reprieve with the drum gallop holding steady. The story being told paints a picture of a character being kidnapped and murdered by a man, maybe a time traveler, coincidentally (or not) named Marcel, and at just under 10 minutes, a full narrative unfolds, finishing Big Ideas Dare Imagination on its farthest-out note yet and with the music dropped out, the line, “But as we know, Marcel was not a kind man,” the record ends.

The impression the album as a whole makes is, naturally, contrary to that final statement, and indeed both van Herpen and van de Vondervoort and their cohorts seem both kind and genuine in giving tribute to their friend and still maintaining the band’s always-forward mentality. Again, while it’s not a record to be judged by conventional criteria, one can’t help but admire the creative process at work across Big Ideas Dare Imagination — they dare logistics too, it would seem; can’t be easy to coordinate among this many players — and though the circumstances of its happening are unfortunate, the album is nothing but a triumph of spirit. I didn’t know Bidi well, but it’s hard to imagine Astrosoniq‘s homage wouldn’t bring a smile to his face. It certainly does to mine.

Astrosoniq, Big Ideas Dare Imagination (2018)

Astrosoniq on Thee Facebooks

Astrosoniq on Bandcamp

Astrosoniq on Spotify

Big Ideas Dare Imagination at Ván Records

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Castle Ready to Start Recording New Album; US & European Touring Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

castle

The one time I was fortunate enough to see Cali-based heavy-and-you-damn-well-better-believe-it metallers Castle — certainly not for lack of touring on their part — was at Maryland Doom Fest in 2016, and they were fucking awesome enough that even two years later every time I think about it I say to myself, “Man, that was fucking awesome.” They’ll return to that venerable event this June, and they’ve newly announced a coast-to-coast tour (as they will) presented by Black Arts Booking to coincide. That of course will be after they hit the studio in May with Billy Anderson at the helm to track the new album they moved to the desert to write and before they head to Europe this Fall — presumably after the record is out — to tour alongside The Skull and hit a few festivals.

The fact that there are a few weeks between their Oct. 19 slot at Malta Doom Fest and their Nov. 10 gig at Doom Over Vienna tells me that there could be a whole lot more European touring still to be announced, and sure enough, the PR wire confirms it. Dig:

castle tour

CASTLE: Heavy Metal Doom Bringers Announce US / Europe Tour Dates, Recording Set To Begin On New Album

Heavy metal doom bringers CASTLE have announced a 12 date headlining trek across the US including a performance at this year’s Maryland Doom Fest in Frederick, MD on June 23. The tour will kick off in Pittsburgh on June 19 before hitting select cities on the east coast and winding its way back to California where the band have just completed writing their new album. Scheduled to begin recording over the next month in Portland, OR with producer Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Eyehategod), CASTLE’s fifth full length is set for a September release.

Additionally, the band have announced several European shows upcoming in October and November, including a string of dates in Germany with The Skull as well as festival appearances at The Malta Doom Fest (Oct 19), Doom Over Vienna (Nov 10) and Dutch Doom Days (Nov 24). Expect more European dates to follow.

CASTLE – U.S. Tour Dates
6/19 Pittsburgh – Howlers
6/20 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus
6/21 Worcester, MA – Ralph’s
6/22 York, PA – The Depot
6/23 Frederick, MD – Maryland Doom Fest
6/24 Newport, KY – Southgate House
6/25 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
6/26 Oklahoma City, OK – Blue Note
6/27 Dallas, TX – Double Wide
6/28 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
6/29 Phoenix, AZ – Yucca Tap
6/30 Riverside, CA – TBA

Europe Tour Dates
10/15 Frankfurt, DE – dasBett w/ The Skull
10/16 Munich, DE – Backstage w/ The Skull
10/17 Freiburg, DE – Slow Club w/ The Skull
10/18 Cologne, DE – Sonic Ballroom w/ The Skull
10/19 Siggiewi, MT – Malta Doom Fest
11/10 Vienna, AT – Doom Over Vienna
11/24 Rotterdam, NL – Dutch Doom Days

CASTLE continues to tour in support of their molten Welcome To The Graveyard full-length, issued last summer via Ván Records. Welcome To The Graveyard was captured by Billy Anderson at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.van-records.de/
https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs/
https://vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

Castle, “Black Widow” official video

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Castle Launch One Tour, Immediately Announce Another

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

My only concern with California’s Castle continuing to tour forever in support of last year’s Welcome to the Graveyard (review here) is it leaves me wondering when they’ll actually get around to making the next album they moved to the desert to write and record earlier this year. Castle have spent much of 2017 on the road — you might say they’re on tour now and will be through the end of this month, and hey, that’s cool — and they’ve newly announced a string of West Coast dates for November that will follow. Could the plan be to record around the holidays? Early in 2018?

Or hell, for all I know the record might be done. Someone should really drop Castle a line and find this shit out. Let me see if I can get on that.

While I do, here are the dates from the PR wire:

castle

CASTLE: Heavy Doom/Metal Unit Announces Stone Thrones West Coast Dates; Endless Graveyard Tour Underway

Heavy doom/metal unit CASTLE — currently in the midst of their Endless Graveyard live takeover — will take to the streets again in November for the west coast Stone Thrones tour. The trek begins November 24th and runs through December 2nd winding its way through nine cities spread across Washington, Oregon, and California. See all confirmed dates below.

CASTLE continues to tour in support of their molten Welcome To The Graveyard full-length, issued last summer via Ván Records. Welcome To The Graveyard was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

CASTLE – Endless Graveyard Tour:
9/12/2017 The End – Nashville, TN
9/13/2017 Odditorium – Asheville, NC
9/14/2017 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
9/15/2017 Shadow Woods Metal Fest – White Hall, MD
9/16/2017 O’Brien’s – Boston, MA
9/17/2017 Cherry Street Station – Wallingford, CT
9/18/2017 Saint Vitus Bar – New York, NY
9/19/2017 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY
9/20/2017 Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
9/21/2017 Maple Grove – Cleveland, OH
9/22/2017 Cattivo – Pittsburgh, PA
9/23/2017 Smalls – Detroit, MI
9/24/2017 Taps Live – Indianapolis, IN
9/25/2017 Northside Yacht Club – Cincinnati, OH
9/26/2017 FuBar – St. Louis, MO
9/27/2017 Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
9/28/2017 The Elbow Room – Wichita, KS
9/29/2017 Stoned Meadow Of Doom Fest – Sioux Falls, SD
9/30/2017 Triple Nickel – Colorado Springs, CO

Stone Thrones Tour:
11/24/2017 The Valley – Tacoma, WA
11/25/2017 Funhouse – Seattle, WA
11/26/2017 Shakedown – Bellingham, WA
11/27/2017 Tonic Lounge – Portland, OR
11/28/2017 Old Nick’s – Eugene, OR
11/29/2017 Spirits – Dunsmuir, CA
11/30/2017 Elbo Room – San Francisco, CA
12/01/2017 Blue Lamp – Sacramento, CA
12/02/2017 5 Star Bar – Los Angeles, CA

CASTLE’s Welcome To The Graveyard offering was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.van-records.de/
https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs/
https://vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

Castle, “Black Widow” official video

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Castle Announce US Tour; “Black Widow” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

They go. They go, and go, and go. It’s what Castle do, and they do it all the time. Even as they continue to write for their impending fifth full-length and unveil a new video for the track “Black Widow” from 2016’s righteous Welcome to the Graveyard (review here), the recently-moved-to-the-desert band can’t seem to stop themselves from announcing another coast-to-coast US tour. After shows in July and on the Obelisk-presented Tour of the Doomed with Sheavy (info here), Castle will head out on a September run that takes them once again from one end of the country to the other. And I don’t know if you know this, but it’s not like this is a small country. It’s a significant frickin’ trip. But Castle go. They go, and go, and go. It’s what they do.

I bet they squeeze in another tour after this one before the end of 2017. I don’t have the inside track on that or anything, I’m just saying. I bet they do. Will keep an eye out for it.

From the PR wire:

castle-tour-poster

CASTLE: Occult Rock Alchemists Announce “Endless Graveyard” Fall Tour; “Black Widow” Video Unveiled + New Full-Length Underway

Newly relocated to the Mojave Desert where writing for a fifth full-length is currently underway, occult rock alchemists CASTLE will be taking a break from conjuring the as-of-yet untitled album, to take on another round of live takeovers.

The perpetually road-bound unit will take to the streets later this month on the previously announced “Stormbringer” trek which will run from June 30th in West Hollywood, California through July 9th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The band will play three more shows the following month before kicking off the “Endless Graveyard” tour set to commence on September 7th in Riverside, California and come to a close on September 30th in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

CASTLE will make some festivals stops throughout their upcoming journeys including performances at the Fire In The Mountains in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Tour Of The Doomed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,

Shadow Woods Metal Fest in White Hall, Maryland, and the Stoned Meadow Of Doom Fest in Omaha, Nebraska. Since the release of their most recent offering, Welcome To The Graveyard, issued last summer via Ván Records, CASTLE’s massive 170-date world takeover has included tours of the US, Europe, Canada, and the band’s first ever tour of Japan last December. See all confirmed dates below.

In anticipation of the upcoming shows, CASTLE is pleased to unveil the visual accompaniment to the track “Black Widow,” compiled from footage from their Canadian tour last year and viewable at THIS LOCATION.

CASTLE:
6/30/2017 Viper Room – West Hollywood, CA
7/01/2017 Starlite Lounge – Sacramento, CA
7/02/2017 High Water Mark Portland, OR
7/03/2017 3rd St. Pub – Bend, OR
7/04/2017 Shredder – Boise, ID
7/05/2017 The Pin – Spokane, WA
7/06/2017 Back Alley Pub – Great Falls, MT
7/07/2017 Railyard – Billings, MT – Railyard
7/08/2017 Fire In The Mountains – Jackson Hole, WY
7/09/2017 Beauty Bar – Las Vegas, NV
8/11/2017 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL
8/12/2017 Tour Of The Doomed @ The Metal Grill – Milwaukee, WI
8/13/2017 The Frequency – Madison, WI –
9/07/2017 Aurea Vista – Riverside, CA
9/08/2017 Tower Bar – San Diego, CA
9/09/2017 Green Room – Flagstaff, AZ
9/10/2017 Blue Note – Oklahoma City, OK
9/11/2017 Hi-Tone – Memphis, TN
9/12/2017 The End – Nashville, TN
9/13/2017 Odditorium – Asheville, NC
9/14/2017 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
9/15/2017 Shadow Woods Metal Fest – White Hall, MD
9/16/2017 O’Brien’s – Boston, MA
9/17/2017 Cherry Street Station – Wallingford, CT
9/18/2017 Saint Vitus Bar – New York, NY
9/19/2017 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY
9/20/2017 Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
9/21/2017 Maple Grove – Cleveland, OH
9/22/2017 Cattivo – Pittsburgh, PA
9/23/2017 Smalls – Detroit, MI
9/24/2017 Taps Live – Indianapolis, IN
9/25/2017 Northside Yacht Club – Cincinnati, OH
9/27/2017 Riot Room – Kansas City, MO
9/29/2017 Stoned Meadow Of Doom Fest – Omaha, NE
9/30/2017 Triple Nickel – Colorado Springs, CO

CASTLE’s Welcome To The Graveyard offering was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.van-records.de/
https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs/
https://vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

Castle, “Black Widow” official video

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Castle Announce Even More West Coast Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

castle

As they continue to work on the follow-up to 2016’s Welcome to the Graveyard (review here), subgenre-defier metallers Castle have announced another slew of shows in the Western half of the US. Their last tour? Last month. So yeah, I guess they’re about due. When last we heard from them at the end of February, they had moved to the Mojave Desert in order to put the next record together, and while I look forward to hearing the kind of desolation that might bring out in their sound, I can’t help but wonder just how much time they’re actually getting to spend there with all the touring they’ve done so far this year and no doubt will continue to do in the months to come.

Of particular note? Check out that Wyoming show. Secret location? Outdoor show? High altitude? Kind of sounds awesome, right? It’s called Fire in the Mountains. Also consider the Shadow Woods Metal Fest in Maryland, which has a spectrum broad enough that it might be the only place on the planet Castle actually fit in.

That’s not to take anything away from the other shows — hey, they’re playing with Year of the Cobra in June, and that’s awesome — I’m just saying Castle have some cool stuff coming up throughout the next few months. Hopefully their album arrives before the end of the year to make the most of it, though if it doesn’t, they’re hardly likely to stop touring in 2018 or anything like that.

From the PR wire:

castle tour poster

CASTLE ANNOUNCE U.S. WEST TOUR, BAY AREA DATES

Newly relocated to the Mojave Desert where writing for a fifth full length is currently underway, genre bending doom-metallers CASTLE have announced their Stormbringer tour, a 10 date headlining romp through the Western United States. The tour will kick off Friday, June 30 at The Viper Room in West Hollywood, CA and include an appearance on July 8 at Fire In The Mountains – a 2 day outdoor concert taking place near Jackson Hole, WY in an as-of-yet undisclosed location.

The band have also announced a trio of Bay Area shows leading up to the July run with Seattle doom duo Year of the Cobra. In addition, CASTLE, who are currently touring in support of their most recent offering Welcome to the Graveyard, are slated to appear at Shadow Woods Metal Fest in White Hall, Maryland, Sept 14-17.

6/1 San Jose, CA – Back Bar SoFa *
6/2 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill *
6/3 Santa Cruz, CA – Blue Lagoon *
6/30 West Hollywood, CA – Viper Room
7/1 Sacramento, CA – Starlite Lounge
7/2 Portland, OR – High Water Mark
7/3 Bend, OR – 3rd St. Pub
7/4 Boise, ID – Shredder
7/5 Spokane, WA – The Pin
7/6 Great Falls, MT – Back Alley Pub
7/7 Billings, MT – Bones Arcade
7/8 Jackson Hole, WY – Fire in the Mountains
7/9 Las Vegas, NV – Beauty Bar
9/15 White Hall, MD – Shadow Woods Metal Fest
* w/ Year of the Cobra

Since the release of Welcome To The Graveyard, issued last summer via Ván Records – CASTLE’s massive 150 date world takeover has included tours of the U.S., Europe, Canada and the bands first ever tour of Japan in December. Welcome To The Graveyard was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.van-records.de/
https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs/
https://vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

Castle, “Down in the Cauldron Bog” official video

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Quarterly Review: Pallbearer, Dread Sovereign, Lizzard Wizzard, Oulu Space Jam Collective, Frozen Planet….1969, Ananda Mida, Strange Broue, Orango, Set and Setting, Dautha

Posted in Reviews on March 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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

Here we are, on the precipice looking out over a spread that will include 50 reviews by the week’s end. Somehow when it comes around to a Quarterly Review Monday I always end up taking a moment to ask myself if I’ve truly lost my mind, if I really expect to be able to do this and not fall completely flat on my face, and just where the hell this terrible idea came from in the first place. But you know what? I haven’t flubbed one yet. We get through it. There’s a lot to go through, for me and you both, but sometimes it’s fun to be completely overwhelmed by music. I hope you agree, and I hope you find something this week that hits you in that oh-yeah-that’s-why-I-love-this kind of way. Time’s wasting. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartless

Three albums and nearly a decade into their tenure, Pallbearer stand at the forefront of American doom, and their third outing, Heartless (on Profound Lore), only reinforces this position while at the same time expanding beyond genre lines in ways that even their 2014 sophomore effort, Foundations of Burden, simply couldn’t have done. A seven-song/hour-long sprawl is marked out by resonant melodies, soulful melancholy conveyed by guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell – the returning lineup completed by guitarist Devin Holt, bassist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly – and tonal weight set to a mix by Joe Barresi, who from opener “I Saw the End” onward arranges layers gorgeously so that extended pieces like “Dancing in Madness” (11:48) and closer “A Plea for Understanding” (12:40) become even more consuming. What comes through most resolute on Heartless, though, is that it’s time to stop thinking of Pallbearer as belonging to some established notion of doom or any other subgenre. With these songs, they make it clear they’ve arrived at their own wavelength and are ready to stand up to the influence they’ve already begun to have on other acts. A significant achievement.

Pallbearer on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls

dread-sovereign-for-doom-the-bell-tolls

With the considerable frontman presence of Primordial’s Alan Averill on vocals and bass, the considerable riffing of guitarist Bones (also of Wizards of Firetop Mountain) and the considerable lumber in the drumming of Johnny King (ex-Altar of Plagues), Dread Sovereign make some considerable fucking doom indeed. Their second album, For Doom the Bell Tolls (on Ván Records), follows three years behind their debut, 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs (review here), and wastes no time giving the devil his due – or his doom, if you prefer – in the span of its six tracks and 37 minutes. Atmospheric and seemingly on an endless downward plod, the 13-minute “Twelve Bells Toll in Salem” is a defining moment, but the trad metallurgy of “This World is Doomed” rounds out side A with some welcome thrust, and after the intro “Draped in Sepulchral Fog,” “The Spines of Saturn” and the thrashing “Live Like and Angel, Die Like a Devil” play dramatic and furious intensities off each other in a manner that would seem to truly represent the fine art of not giving a shit what anyone thinks about what you do or what box you’re supposed to fit into. Righteous. Considerably so.

Dread Sovereign on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

Lizzard Wizzard, Total War Power Bastard

lizzard-wizzard-total-war-power-bastard

Noise, largesse of riffs and shouted vocals that distinctly remind of Souls at Zero-era Neurosis pervade the near-hour-long run of Lizzard Wizzard’s Total War Power Bastard, but as much as the Brisbane four-piece willfully give themselves over to fuckall – to wit, the title “Medusa but She Gets You Stoned Instead of Turning You to Stone, Instead of Snakes She has Vaporizers on His Head… Drugs” – songs like “Shithead Nihilism,” “Pizza” and the droning “Snake Arrow” brim with purpose and prove affecting in their atmosphere and heft alike. Yes, they have a song called “Nerd Smasher,” and they deserve all credit for that as they follow-up their 2013 self-titled (review here), but by the time they get down to the roll-happy “Crystal Balls” and the feedback-caked “Megaflora” at the record’s end, guitarists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon, bassist Stef Roselli and drummer Luke Osborne end up having done something original with a Sleep influence, and that’s even more commendable.

Lizzard Wizzard on Thee Facebooks

Lizzard Wizzard on Bandcamp

 

Oulu Space Jam Collective, EP1

Oulu-Space-Jam-Collective-ep1

Should mention two things outright about Oulu Space Jam Collective’s EP1. First and foremost, its three songs run over 95 minutes long, so if it’s an EP, one can only imagine what qualifies as a “full-length.” Second, the Finnish outfit releasing EP1 on limited tape through Eggs in Aspic isn’t to be confused with Denmark’s Øresund Space Collective. Oulu is someplace else entirely, and likewise, Oulu Space Jam Collective have their own intentions as they show in the 57-minute opener “Renegade Spaceman,” recorded live in the studio in 2014 (they’ve since made two sequels) and presented in six movements including samples, drones, enough swirl for, well, 57 minutes, and a hypnotism that’s nigh on inescapable. I won’t take away from the space rock thrust of 14-minute closer “Artistic Supplies for Moon Paint Mafia” (also tracked in 2014), but the smooth progressive edge of three-part 24-minute centerpiece “Approaching Beast Moon of Baxool” is where it’s at for me – though if you want a whole galaxy to explore, hit up their Bandcamp.

Oulu Space Jam Collective on Thee Facebooks

Eggs in Aspic webstore

 

Frozen Planet…. 1969, Electric Smokehouse

frozen-planet-1969-electric-smokehouse

They freak out a bit toward the end of 12-minute opener “Ascendant” and in the second half of the subsequent “Supersaturation,” but for the most part, Aussie three-piece Frozen Planet…. 1969 play it weirdo-cool on their fourth full-length, the excellently-titled Electric Smokehouse (on Pepper Shaker Records). From those jams to the dreamy beachside drift of “Shores of Oblivion” to the funky-fuzz bass of “Sonic Egg Factory” to the quick noise finish of “Pretty Blown Fuse” – which may or may not be the sound of malfunctioning equipment run through an oscillator or some other effects-whatnot, the instrumentalist Sydney/Canberra trio seem to improv a healthy percentage of their fare, if not all of it, and that spirit of spontaneity feeds into the easygoing atmosphere only enhanced by the cover art. On a superficial level, you know you’re getting psych jams going into it, but once you put on Electric Smokehouse, the urge to get lost in the tracks is nigh on overwhelming, and that proves greatly to their credit. Wake up someplace else.

Frozen Planet…. 1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Ananda Mida, Anodnatius

ananda-mida-anodnatius

Ananda Mida make their debut on Go Down Records with Anodnatius, fluidly working their way around heavy psychedelic and more driving rock influences propelled by drummer Massimo “Max Ear” Recchia, also of underrated Italian forebears OJM. Here, Recchia anchors a seven-piece lineup including two vocalists in Oscar de Bertoldi and Filippo Leonardi, two guitarists in Matteo Scolaro and Alessandro Tedesco, as well as bassist Davide Bressan and organist Stefano Pasqualetto, so suffice it to say songs like the subtly grungy “Passvas,” the dreamy highlight “Heropas” or the vaguely progressive “Askokinn” want nothing for fullness, but there seem to be moments throughout Anodnatius as on “Lunia” and the shuffling “Kondur” early into the proceedings where the band wants to break out and push toward something heavier. Their restraint is to be commended since it serves the interests of songcraft, but part of me can’t help but wonder what might happen if these guys really let loose on some boogie jams. Keep an ear open to find out, as I have a feeling they might be headed in just that direction.

Ananda Mida on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Strange Broue, Seance

strange-broue-seance

The heart of Séance – The Satanic Sounds of Strange Broue might come in the 11-minute sample dump that is “Cults and Crimes,” late into the second half of the 52-minute album. Capturing meticulously compiled news and talk-show clips from the late ‘80s, some of which talk about the Satanic roots of heavy metal, it gets to the ritualism that Quebec four-piece Strange Broue proliferate elsewhere on the record in the lo-fi post-Electric Wizard doom of “Satan’s Slaves,” “Kill What’s Inside of You” and the rolling opener “Ritualize” (video here). These pieces offset by other interludes of noise and drone and samples like “Satanic Panic,” “In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanis, Luciferi Excelsis,” the acoustic-until-it-gets-shot-in-the-woods “Las Bas,” the John Carpenter-esque “Séance IV – L’Invocation” and the extended penultimate drone of “Séance V – The Mystifying Oracle with Bells” ahead of the countrified pop gospel of “Satan is Real,” which finishes in subversive fashion, interrupted by more news reports and a finishing assault of noise. Like an arts project in the dark arts, Séance crosses some familiar terrain but finds Strange Broue on their own trip through cultish immersion, as psychological as it is psychedelic.

Strange Broue on Thee Facebooks

Sunmask Records webstore

 

Orango, The Mules of Nana

orango-the-mules-of-nana

Not much to argue with in the sixth long-player from Helge Kanck, Trond Slåke and Hallvard Gaardløs, collectively known as Orango. As they make their way onto Stickman Records (which also handled Euro distro for their last album, 2014’s Battles) with The Mules of Nana, the Norwegian trio deep-dive into harmony-topped ‘70s-style vibing that, well, leaves the bulk of “retro” bands in their V8-crafted dust. Mind you they do so by not being a retro band. True, the fuzz on “The Honeymoon Song” and “Head on Down” is as organic as if you happened on it in some forest where all the trees were wearing bellbottoms, but if you told me it was true, I’d believe Orango recorded The Mules of Nana onto – gasp! – a computer. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but “Heirs,” the sweetly acoustic “Give Me a Hundred” and motoring “Hazy Chain of Mountains” find Orango making no attempt to cloak a lack of songwriting or performance chops in a production aesthetic. Rather, in the tradition of hi-fi greats, they sound as full and rich as possible and utterly live up to the high standard they set for themselves. Pure win in classic, dynamic fashion.

Orango on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Set and Setting, Reflectionless

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There’s an undercurrent of metal that’s quick to show itself on Set and Setting’s Reflectionless. The instrumentalist Floridian five-piece delve plenty deep into heavy post-rock on cuts like the shoegazing “Incandescent Gleam” and subsequent “Specular Wavefront Of…” but they’re not through opener “Saudade” before harder-edged chug emerges, and “…The Idyllic Realm”’s blastbeating nods at black metal while the churning endgame build of closer “Ephemerality” holds tight to a progressive execution. While its textural foundation will likely ring familiar to followers of Russian Circles ultimately, Reflectionless finds distinction in aligning the various paths it walks as it goes, creating an overarching flow that draws strength from its diversity of approach rather than sounding choppy, confused or in conflict with itself. Not revolutionary by any means, but engaging throughout and with a residual warmth to complement what might seem at first to be a purely cerebral approach. It offers more on repeat listens, so let it sink in.

Set and Setting on Thee Facebooks

Set and Setting webstore

 

Dautha, Den Foerste

dautha-den-foerste

Primo short offering of pure, fistpump-ready, violin-infused doom traditionalism. I don’t know what Norrköping, Sweden’s Dautha – the five-piece of vocalist Lars Palmqvist, guitarists Erik Öquist and Ola Blomkvist, bassist Emil Åström and drummer Micael Zetterberg – are planning to do for a follow-up, but this Den Foerste (or Den Förste) two-tracker recalls glory-era Candlemass and willfully soars with no sense of irony on “Benandanti” and “In Between Two Floods” after the intro “Horkarlar Skall Slås Ihjäl,” and having already sold out a self-released pressing leaves little to wonder what would’ve caught the esteemed tastes of Ván Records. And by that I mean it’s fucking awesome. I’m ready for a full-length whenever they are, and from the poise with which Palmqvist carries the melodies of these tracks, the quality of the riffing and the depth of arrangement the violin adds to the overarching mournfulness, they definitely sound ready. So get on it. 15 minutes of dirge-making this gorgeous simply isn’t enough.

Dautha on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

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Castle Move to the Desert to Write New Album; Announce March Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

castle

Castle continue to live the dream, and by that I mean break their ass working on new material and touring. They’re up to a bit of both, as it happens. Next month, they’ll take to the streets in the Midwest before hitting up the West Coast for what can only be called the umpteenth time, and simultaneously, they’ve moved to the desert and begun to write the follow-up to last year’s Welcome to the Graveyard (review here), which saw release through the esteemed Ván Records. Reportedly, they have an eye on getting a new record out before the end of 2017. An admirable goal and I wouldn’t put it past them, what with that breaking of ass and all. You know damn well they’ll be touring more too. They rarely stop.

This run is called ‘Still Reaping’ and it starts March 3. Look for Castle later this year on the Shadow Woods Metal Fest in Maryland and at Fire in the Mountains in Wyoming over the summer. See? I told you they rarely stop.

From the PR wire:

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CASTLE Announce ‘Still Reaping Tour’, Festival Dates, Album News

Fresh off a tour of Japan, heavy metal alchemists CASTLE have announced the ‘Still Reaping Tour’, a 17 date headlining trek of the U.S. Midwest this March. Newly relocated to the Mojave Desert where writing for a fifth full length is currently underway, CASTLE will be taking a break from conjuring the as-of-yet untitled album, due for release later in the year, to complete the tour – which includes a stop at the second installment of the Minneapolis Menagerie Fest on March 11.

CASTLE – Still Reaping Tour:
3/3 Phoenix, AZ – Yucca Tap
3/4 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
3/5 Dallas, TX – Three Links
3/6 Austin, TX – Lost Well
3/7 Wichita, KS – The Elbow Room
3/8 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
3/9 Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews
3/10 Chicago, IL – Reggie’s
3/11 Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis Menagerie
3/12 Milwaukee, WI – The Metal Grill
3/13 Louisville, KY – Highlands Taproom
3/14 Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter
3/15 Lansing, MI – Mac’s
3/16 Omaha, NE – Dr. Jacks
3/17 Denver, CO – 3 Kings Tavern
3/18 Salt Lake City, UT – Club X
3/19 Oakland, CA – Golden Bull

In addition, the band has announced they will also be performing at the upcoming Fire In The Mountains in Jackson Hole, WY on July 8 and Shadow Woods Metal Fest in Whitehall, MD, September 14-17.

Since the release of their most recent offering Welcome To The Graveyard, issued last summer via Ván Records – CASTLE’s massive 120 date world takeover has included tours of the U.S., Europe, Canada and the bands first ever tour of Japan in December. Welcome To The Graveyard was captured by Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, Eyehategod, Ommadon et al) at Type Foundry Studios in Portland, Oregon and is currently available at THIS LOCATION.

heavycastle.com
facebook.com/CastleSF
https://heavycastle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.van-records.de/
https://www.facebook.com/vanrecs/
https://vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

Castle, “Down in the Cauldron Bog” official video

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Heavy Temple Touring with Pilgrim in March

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

Kind of an ICYMI here, in the parlance of our times, but good to note either way that next month, Philly’s Heavy Temple will hit the road alongside Rhode Island doomers Pilgrim. The latter seem poised to make something of a comeback this year after nearly grinding themselves into dust in support of their last full-length, 2014’s II: Void Worship (review here), and in joining them, Heavy Temple make their most significant leap into touring life yet. It’s an East Coast run, and they did hit the Midwest last fall, but 10 dates on the road is the longest I’ve seen from them to-date. Doubt it will be the last.

They of course go supporting the 2016/2017 release Chassit (review here), alternately billed as a debut full-length and a second EP (the latter below). I had thought I read of a parting of ways with guitarist Archbishop Barghest, but maybe I’m wrong about that or bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk and drummer Siren Tempestas are heading out as a duo? I’d be interested to know for sure either way.

To be perfectly honest, half my impulse in posting these dates a couple weeks after they were first announced is in making sure they’re here for future reference. Seems like the kind of thing I’ll want to have to look back on down the line.

From the PR wire:

pilgrim heavy temple tour

Heavy Temple to tour with Pilgrim

Heavy psych/doom band HEAVY TEMPLE released their new EP Chassit on January 27th 2017. The EP was initially available on cassette and digital formats via Tridroid Records and CD is now available via Van Records.

Heavy Temple formed at the end of 2012 with High Priestess Nighthawk on bass and vocals and presently features Siren Tempestas on drums and Archbishop Barghest on guitar.

The band will also be playing some shows with doom heavyweights PILGRIM in March:

TOUR DATES:
March 2nd The Fire, Philadelphia, PA
March 3rd The Broadberry (With Windhand), Richmond, VA
March 4th Pilgrim (With Subrosa) Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY
March 4th Heavy Temple (With Toke) TBA, Winston, Salem NC
March 5th Riffhouse Pub,, Chesapeake, VA
March 6th Sidebar, Baltimore, MD
March 7th Meatlocker, Montclair, NJ
March 8th O’Briens, Boston MA
March 9th Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY
March 10th Bug Jar, Rochester, NY
March 11th Geno’s, Portland, ME
March 12th AS220, Providence, RI

https://www.facebook.com/HeavyTemple/
https://heavytemple.bandcamp.com
https://www.van-records.de/
https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/album/chassit

Heavy Temple, Chassit (2017)

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