Empress and Piece Stream New Split in Full; Tour Starts This Weekend

Posted in audiObelisk on November 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

empress

piece

Canadian trio Empress and German foursome Piece are hitting the road together in Germany and the Czech Republic starting this weekend. The final show of the tour, Nov. 9 in Piece‘s hometown of Berlin, will mark the release of a split 12″ they’re sharing to mark the occasion. It’s heavy. And it’s metal. So what else to call it? The sense of severity doesn’t take long to grab the throat with Empress‘ tracks arranged as the initial assault, as though Piece were telling them “it’s okay, guests first.” Both bands conjure a decent sense of barrage, make no mistake, but there’s no lack of distinguishing character between them and they’re by no means chasing after the same goals. Empress, who call Vancouver, British Columbia, home, tap into Pacific Coastal extremity ever so slightly in “At Peace to Burn the Gathering,” and while I wouldn’t necessarily call the track subtle on any level if only for the inherent volume of its execution, the fact that in the first 90 seconds it goes from crashing sludge riffs to Cascadian-style black metal and then turns again to a kind of post-metallic atmosphere is not to be overlooked just for the fluidity for which it’s done.

“At Peace to Burn the Gathering” and the accompanying “Zwölf” are both well over six minutes long, so there’s plenty of time to flesh out such genre interplay, and Empress demonstrate that malleability plainly en route to the gradual deconstruction of the first cut and into the chug that begins “Zwölf,” which does well in bringing the varying sides together ahead of a midsection break to drum-pushed ambience that introduces clean vocals put to effective use as the full force of tone returns. Is it right to think of a two-song release having an apex? I don’t know, but it does, and like their first track, Empress gradually bring down “Zwölf” before Piece take hold with the suitably introductory “Oblivion.”

All told, the split is 27 minutes long, and that’s pretty evenly divided between Empress (a little shorter) and Piece (a little longer). While both bands should be noted for the flow they conjure during their time, Piece take the extra step of using “Oblivion” to set the stage for side B of the vinyl, which makes gives a glimpse at the tonal foundation and riffy grandstanding at play before “Blood Eagle” (no relation to the Conan album of the same name) gallops in with a marked, defining High on Fire influence. I mean, it’s prevalent, and Piece aren’t trying to hide it. Their black wings are blessed and their communion is with death. No complaints. Blown-out vocals help disassociate, and the ease with which they work their way into a slowdown later — still over double-kick drumming — helps them make an impression of their own before “Blood Eagle” ends cold and leads to the near-eight-minute “Primordial Void.”

A more distinctly sludged opening riff rolls out there during the initial couple minutes topped with echoing barks of vocals and pushed with a rhythmic fervency that foreshadows the gallop soon to resume. That conversation between tempos plays out again before “Primordial Void” opens up to a more spacious solo just past its halfway point, and though brief, it has the effect of adding a new context for the song, which is soon to hit into an even bigger slowdown that sneakily introduces the organ that will be the last remaining element after the final march recedes into residual amp noise and feedback.

Both acts released debut EPs in 2017, and each approaches their half of the outing with suitable intensity. The tour is eight shows — seven in Germany, one in the Czech Republic — and I expect by the end of it there will be a couple raw throats and a couple tired drummers, but there’s no way that Berlin gig won’t be a good time. You can stream the entire split below courtesy of SoulWrecked Records, which is handling the release, and see all the dates and more info thereafter.

Please enjoy:

SoulWrecked Records will be Putting out this release on November 2nd 2018 on Digital and 12” Vinyl formats. This will be Empress’s first time touring Europe.

Empress & Piece on tour:
Nov. 2. Cottbus -Piece, Hedger, Empress
Nov. 3. Leipzig – Empress, Piece, Spleen Flipper
Nov. 4. Liberec – Ned?lní vzývaní Cthulhu: Empress [Ca] * Piece [De] *
Nov. 5. Jena – Castle / Empress / Piece
Nov. 6. Karlsruhe – Stoner Metal // Piece + Empress // P8
Nov. 7. Essen – Empress (CAN), Piece, Second Sight | Emokeller Essen
Nov. 8. Kiel – Piece & Empress – Kieler Schaubude
Nov. 9. Berlin – Piece & Empress & Weedruid – Split Record Release Show
*Czech Republic

Drawn by the call of Cthulhu, PIECE have created a concept EP that sounds more Bayou than Berlin, more Swamps than Spree and unlike anything else that made it out of a dusty rehearsal room in Germany?s capital city. Deeply rooted in the DIY Hardcore Punk scene, Piece prove that they are able to create a sound that resembles Crowbar or High On Fire and wanders far off the respective sub-genres of their members? previous or still active bands such as Demonwomb, Scarred Mind, Sleep Routine, Soulground, Trapjaw and Waterlvngs.

The three-headed beast EMPRESS from Vancouver, B.C. was born after guitarist/vocalist Peter Sacco (SEER) and drummer Chris Doyle attended a show headlined by doom mavens ELDER. Inspired by the massive wall of sound and psychedelia they encountered on that fateful night, the pair enlisted bassist Brenden Gunn (CRATERS) and set out to create their own brand of stoner/sludge metal. The trio, whose collective history dates back nearly a decade, went immediately to work. Within two months EMPRESS wrote and recorded the five tracks now collectively known as Reminiscence. With this debut EP, EMPRESS harvests a hybrid strain of monolithic groove, over-amped sludge and mutant prog.

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Empress on Bandcamp

Piece on Thee Facebooks

Piece on Bandcamp

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SoulWrecked Records webstore

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Review & Track Premiere: We Hunt Buffalo, Head Smashed In

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on September 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

we hunt buffalo head smashed in

[Click play above to stream the premiere of We Hunt Buffalo’s lyric video for ‘The Giant’s Causeway.’ Their new album, Head Smashed In is out Oct. 26 on Fuzzorama Records and New Damage Records.]

As images go, ‘head smashed in’ is as vivid as it is succinct and violent. We Hunt Buffalo, who made their debut on Fuzzorama Records in 2015 with their second album, Living Ghosts (discussed here), return with Head Smashed In as a nine-song/43-minute collection of beefed-up modern progressive-styled heavy, bordering often on metal in songs like “Angler Must Die” with the popping snare of drummer Brandon Carter backing the dual-vocal hook from guitarist Ryan Forsythe and bassist Cliff Thiessen, or in the lumbering moments of finale “God Games.”

Those stretches, though, aren’t without contrast, and We Hunt Buffalo wind up with a sneakily dynamic style that takes on heavy rock directly in cuts like “Keep it Refreshing,” which to my New England-dwelling ears seems to have a bit of Roadsaw in its chorus, and centerpiece “Industry Woes,” which engages harsher vocals but has a classic round of starts and stops that not only shows a tightness on the part of the band instrumentally, but easily crosses genre lines in a way that sounds natural and familiar while still remaining stylistically nuanced. That nuance is in part thanks to the production, which is crisp and brings out a tension in a way that Living Ghosts seemed more open and looser on the whole, but is full in its overall affect and massive sounding especially in the guitar and bass tones.

Big choruses pay off dug-in movements, and from opener “Heavy Low” through “Angler Must Die” and “Prophecy Wins” and into the instrumental “Get in the Van,” the balance between proggy detail-making, weighted force of tone and rhythm and traditional-feeling earwormery makes Head Smashed In true to its titular sense of impact without necessarily the direct one-on-one violence that “smashed” brings to mind. In the end, there are many ways to cave in a skull.

we hunt buffalo

The shouts in “Industry Woes” feel well-enough earned by that song’s theme, and they have a likewise well-placed effect on the context of the record as a whole, speaking to roots in the Mastodon-informed sphere of modern underground thrust, but for the most part, Head Smashed In works at a comfortable pace. Later, “God Games” takes on an almost post-rocking feel in its subdued verses, but even “Prophecy Wins” — the longest cut at 6:12 and the last chapter of the opening salvo — has a steady, obviously-in-control rollout that never flies too far off the handle on its way to its engaging melodic finish. “The Giant’s Causeway” finds Carter double-timing his ride cymbal in the chorus, and that adds a sense of urgency, but in that song as well there’s no danger of We Hunt Buffalo losing their way. They might be at their speediest on “Get in the Van,” but the same applies, and ultimately, the range on Head Smashed In is more about volume and melody than about tempo.

That’s not to say there’s no changing it up, as the back-to-back run of “Anxious Children” into “God Games” demonstrates, just that the impression the tracks make draws more from the trades between Forsythe and Simpson on vocals and the shifts between louder and quieter parts than playing grind on one track and doom on another. Their pacing helps draw the material together and create a flow that moves the listener from start to finish, and it’s in how they work within that sphere that We Hunt Buffalo emanate a maturity in their approach that even just three years ago they simply didn’t have. It might not come across as such on a first time through, but Head Smashed In is actually pretty classy. The performances are sharp, the mix is deep and allows for emotional resonance in the melodies that are so crucial to the memorable nature of the songs, and there is an overarching groove that results in an all-the-more coherent vibe. Very much a third album. Very much the product of a group who know what they want to do, who are steady in their approach, confident in the studio, working how they want to work and able to bring a sense of energy to their output regardless of the outward push. It’s not the kind of record a band could make their first time out.

And maybe that’s part of the idea behind the title — to mask some of that intricacy in a notion of brute force. Fair enough. Influences from the likes of Elder situate We Hunt Buffalo in a forward-thinking heavy sphere with the likes of Forming the Void, and like the lines in its cover art, which also features a smashed head or two, it’s the pinpoint details in the songs that make their third LP succeed in the manner it does. They bolster the strong choruses of cuts like “Prophecy Wins” and “The Giant’s Causeway” and “Keep it Refreshing,” while giving those who’d rightfully return for multiple listens all the more reason to keep coming back. It’s songwriting. But just like one might look at the name of the album and prejudge an expectation of what’s coming, there’s more to the proceedings in the individual pieces than their plus-sized riffs and stories about monsters. Though there’s plenty of that too for anyone who’d readily take them on.

We Hunt Buffalo, Head Smashed In (2018)

We Hunt Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

We Hunt Buffalo website

We Hunt Buffalo on Bandcamp

Fuzzorama Records website

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Review & Full Album Premiere: La Chinga, Beyond the Sky

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

la chinga beyond the sky

[Click play above to stream La Chinga’s Beyond the Sky in its entirety. Album is out Sept. 7 on Small Stone Records.]

It’s tempting to say that if your van’s not rockin’, don’t bother knockin’ on La Chinga‘s second album for Small Stone and third overall, Beyond the Sky, but the truth is that just about everybody is invited to come dig on what the Vancouver, B.C., buds have put together this time out. It’s a collection of 11 tracks topping 45 minutes that makes the most out of big, unabashed hooks and a classic party-rocking sensibility, from the opening “Woo!” in “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do” into the ’70s-styled “Wings of Fire” and the proto-metal-turns-stoner-mellow-solo-jam “Mama Boogie,” which may or may not be a sequel to “Boogie Children” from their 2013 self-titled debut (discussed here) and which you’d best believe brings back its chorus at the end, it brims with energy well beyond what might qualify as “electric” and sounds in true Small Stone fashion not like it’s mining its influences for parts to reorder and recreate in vintageist loyalty, but instead like it’s engaging with the legends and rockers of yore — Nazareth, AC/DC, Judas Priest, and a host of others among them — to hone a modern interpretation of what they did those generations ago.

The result is an ass-shaking good time that plays itself out high on professionalism and void of pretense as the everybody-sings three-piece of guitarist Ben Yardley, bassist Carl Spackler and drummer Jason Solyom make their way through the opening salvo of the aforementioned three cuts and into the mid-paced “Black River,” no less catchy but with a shift in vocals that marks a transition into the next stage of the release. Their 2016 Small Stone debut, Freewheelin’ (review here), worked in much the same aesthetic territory, but where Beyond the Sky distinguishes itself is in its songwriting. “Mama Boogie,” with that midsection jam-out, is the longest inclusion at 5:35, and the Southern-styled centerpiece “Keep on Rollin'” is the only other cut that tops five minutes, but even those feel taut in their construction, like they’ve been hammered out — not flat, or dry in their delivery at all, but worked on, ironed free of their inefficiencies, and built with a genuine will to engage their audience as they otherwise might on stage, “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do” a signal that festivities have begun that feels hand-made to start a live set.

Lyrics like “Hey mama/Hey mama boogie!” from that song and “Freedom, alright” from “Keep on Rollin’,” as well as some of the declarations in what would seem to be the self-descriptive “H.O.W. (Are You Ready?” — the acronym standing for “Hell on Wheels,” which if you’re into Fu Manchu is no big deal — and the closer “Warlords” might require a grain of salt, but while La Chinga are most certainly all about having fun, they’re not so tongue-in-cheek that they either lose sight of the importance of the songs’ structure or that they feel insincere in their delivery. To be clear, Beyond the Sky is a blast. On point in its pro-shoppery, boozy in all the right ways but not so tipsy that Yardley can’t bust out a succession of blinding solos, and never out of line with the central mission, it nonetheless carries just an undercurrent of danger as the listener makes their way through the front-to-back, if only for the “how can they keep this up?” factor. They do keep it up, though.

la chinga

Side B cuts like “Killer Wizard” and “Death Rider” and “Feel it in My Bones” would be filler on many records — and many records of this ilk; vinyl-ready but more CD length and linear-feeling in its flow — but La Chinga allow for no dip in quality as “Killer Wizard” builds its chorus around choice riffing, “Death Rider” elicits a groove so righteous they just as easily could’ve named it “Papa Boogie” to correspond with “Mama” earlier, and “Feel it in My Bones” proffers yet another masterful hook en route to the closing duo. There are changes in mood throughout, but never a turn from the band’s central purpose of craft, and the spirit of the material they bring to bear throughout Beyond the Sky is as much about the high level of its execution as the who’s-up-for-a-cocktail vibe. For an offering that sounds so studio-made — that is, crisp in the production of Jeremy Koch at Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, and with such an overarching clarity of sound — the vitality that SpacklerYardley and Solyom bring to the proceedings is no less infectious than the choruses they seem to have in such endless supply.

I don’t know if I’d say that’s the greatest accomplishment of Beyond the Sky — take your pick between that and the songwriting itself — but it’s certainly a noteworthy aspect of the listening experience and it serves La Chinga well throughout. In their harmonies, standout guitar work and sunshiny vibe, their energy comes through even the quieter or slower stretches of the songs, and it’s not so much a push as in something being inflicted on the listener as it’s an invitation. Hey, we’re out back and we have some beers — come hang. Whether an individual gets down with what the band are tossing out is of course up to them — nothing is universal — but La Chinga make a strong case for themselves in these tracks, and offer a reminder that a band doesn’t need a ton of experimentalism or heady prog to entice an audience; they just need to make it sound like they’re where it’s at.

And from their ass-shaking grooves to their stories about wizards and warlords and death riders and Mama Boogie herself — all things one might find painted on the side of a van that either is or isn’t rockin’ when you come knockin’ — La Chinga most definitely do that. They’ve been kicking around for six years now and have steadily made a name for themselves since the self-titled and have only continued to refine their approach since then. It’s easy to hear songs like “Black River” and “Death Rider” and the DeepPurple-minus-organ drive of “Warlords” at the end and pine for some mystical bygone age of heavy rock and roll, when “men were men” and the west was wild and jeans were tight and blah blah blah. Bullshit. Fact of the matter is La Chinga aren’t happening 45 years ago. They’re happening right now, and the lessons they’ve learned may be from a formative era but what they’re doing with them is as much of this moment as anything else belonging to this bizarre, bizarre time. It’s a challenge to think we might be in a heavy rock heyday. La Chinga make it a little easier.

La Chinga, “Wings of Fire” official video

La Chinga on Thee Facebooks

La Chinga on Twitter

La Chinga on Instagram

La Chinga on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records website

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Seven Nines and Tens to Release Satisfy the Faction 2008-2018 Cassette Box Set

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

seven nines and tens

I don’t have the stats on the average lifespan of the average band, so I don’t can’t give you facts and figures — and something in writing about Seven Nines and Tens makes me want to quote statistics; can’t explain it — but I know that if you’ve lasted a decade without pummeling each other or, more simply, breaking up, you’re probably doing something right, and that’s worth celebrating. In the case of the aforementioned Vancouver four-piece, they’re marking the occasion with a tape box set through Coup Sur Coup Records titled Satisfy the Faction 2008-2018, which brings together the four albums the band has produced in that time under the guidance of founding guitarist Dave Cotton onto two cassettes in limited, hand-dubbed edition. The colors are random — I guess whichever blanks are picked up out of the pile — and the tracks sound huge and will come with a download for even more short-release-type stuff, singles and all that. Kind of a cool niche thing to note the passing of an important milestone for the band.

And pretty noteworthy as well that it’s the first release Coup Sur Coup is doing for them. You know your label means it when they not only pick up your band, but decide to do a career-spanning compilation as the first outing and hand-press the tapes. That’s love, pure and simple.

Coup Sur Coup has the release out Oct. 10 with preorders up as of today. Label honcho Max Cayer posted the following at their Bandcamp, where the orders can be placed:

seven nines and tens satisfy the faction 2008-2018

Seven Nines & Tens “Satisfy the Faction 2008-2018”

Here are the first 10 years of recorded output from seminal Vancouver band Seven Nines and Tens all under one umbrella, in digital and a very well assembled double cassette box set, dubbed, packaged, designed and hand numbered with heart and passion directly at Coup Sur Coup’s HQ, in Castlegar, British Columbia, Canada.

The band, started out life as a wholly instrumental act which combined elements of post-rock, post-metal and math rock into a complex sonic chimera.

Their evolution, over time and with line up changes, showed a band scaling back the guitar acrobatics in favor of huge shoegaze-inspired, post-rock walls of sound.

“We started off really progressive,” Dave Cotton, the only constant member of the band, founder, and songwriter, says. “I got really into Post-Metal for a while, and now it’s like psych-shoegaze post-metal, post-hardcore, and a little bit of classic rock; a little bit of Pink Floyd in there.”

It’s a heavier-than-heaven groove that balances a daydream shimmer with a mammoth rhythm section, a gorgeous collision between cascading atmospheres and alternative rock riffage.

This is a huge release for Coup Sur Coup, with a lot of special meanings.

It’s CSC first release to be made from the new office location in the Selkirk mountains of British Columbia, and fittingly so, with a band from the Province. It’s also our first attempt at documenting the entire career of one band up to this moment in time, and are extremely honored that said band is 7,9’s & 10’s.

A perennial favorite of mine and arguably one of the best and interesting band in Canada right now. Let alone the world. I intend on trying my best to shine a light on a vital group of musician making one hell of an interesting racket, for anyone willing to think outside the box, or look in odd places for something new.

This is, I hope, the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration, this collection of the first 10 years of recorded input being the first pillar in that relationship.

This very special deluxe double cassette box set will include:

-All four albums on two randomly selected coloured cassettes, totalling 120 minutes of music. (Singles releases are not included on the box set, but will be included in the massive download link provided with the box set)

-Dubbed 2 at a time, with great patience and care, at our HQ in B.C.

releases October 10, 2018

http://www.facebook.com/sevenninesandtens
http://www.sevenninesandtens.com/
https://sevenninesandtens.bandcamp.com/
https://sevenninesandtens.com/
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http://www.instagram.com/coup_sur_coup_records
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https://coupsurcoup.bandcamp.com/album/satisfy-the-faction

Seven Nines & Tens, Satisfy the Faction teaser

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La Chinga Announce Sept. 7 Release for Beyond the Sky; New Song Streaming

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

 

la chinga

Canadian heavy rockers La Chinga are getting ready to follow-up their 2016 Small Stone debut, Freewheelin’ (review here) with Beyond the Sky, and suitably enough, the first word one hears on the new album is “woo!” That exclamation arrives at the beginning of opening track “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do,” which is streaming now to mark the opening of preorders through Small Stone‘s Bandcamp page and serves an immediate reminder of La Chinga‘s songwriting prowess and aesthetic inspired by classic heavy. In under three minutes, it earworms its way into the brain and sets up residence for a much longer haul. Certainly Freewheelin’ had similar catchiness working in its favor, but it’s nice to know that hasn’t diminished in the interim. As a teaser for the rest of the record, it bodes well.

Oh, and the Alexander von Wieding cover art is awesome. The song, that cover and the album details all came down the PR wire lookin’ like this:

la chinga beyond the sky

LA CHINGA: Hard Rock Power Trio To Release Beyond The Sky Full-Length This September Via Small Stone; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Hard rock power trio LA CHINGA will release their impending new full-length, Beyond The Sky, via Small Stone this fall.

The follow-up to LA CHINGA’s 2016 critically-lauded Freewheelin’ full-length was captured at Vancouver’s fabled Warehouse studio with no-less-fabled producer Jamey Koch (DOA, Copyright, Tragically Hip). Opening track “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do” sets the agenda for Beyond The Sky’s forty-five minutes of sublimely confident freedom rock, sometimes meaty and beaty (“Mama Boogie,” “Death Rider”), sometimes glam-handed (“Killer Wizard”), and occasionally even dirtbag pretty (“Keep On Rollin’). When it all melts into a puddle of phased goo in the final bars of “Warlords,” the listener has been rolled, boogied, and otherwise supernaturally conveyed well beyond the sky, maybe even beyond ridiculous.

LA CHINGA’s Beyond The Sky will see release September 7th, on CD, LP, and digital formats via Small Stone. For preorders go to THIS LOCATION where “Nothin’ That I Can’t Do” can be streamed.

Beyond The Sky Track Listing:
1. Nothin’ That I Can’t Do
2. Wings Of Fire
3. Mama Boogie
4. Black River
5. Beyond The Sky
6. Keep On Rollin’
7. Killer Wizard
8. Death Rider
9. Feel It In My Bones
10. H.O.W.
11. Warlords

LA CHINGA was forged in 2012, although in reality it was conceived about a year earlier when bassist/vocalist Carl Spackler was surfing in Southern California and his Chicano beach buddies kept hailing each other with the mysterious phrase: “La chingaaaaa!” It was then that Spackler’s dream of a hard rock power trio built on erogenous funkadelic rhythms and a devotion to life’s more sublime pleasures — chief among them: tequila — was now embodied inside a beautifully obscene two-word incantation.

Drummer/vocalist Jay Solyom and guitarist/vocalist Ben Yardley — also a noted professor of Theremin — were conscripted shortly after, both veterans of Vancouver’s notoriously dead-end music scene, both beautifully obscene in their own right. LA CHINGA’s self-titled debut record was rushed out of a makeshift studio in 2013 on nothing but fumes and the liberating force of not giving a shit, landing like a hairball crossed with a stink bomb inside a world of yoga pant commerce, condo developments, and Macbook “musicians.” This was a revolutionary act, or maybe a devolutionary one, at least.

Meanwhile, Spackler was busying pouring all off his demented ’70s obsessions into wild three-minute homemade music videos, finding the visual language of fuzz itself inside shitty horror films as he furnished the great infernal drive-in of his mind. Somehow, miraculously, this charming brew conspired to make LA CHINGA the hottest bunch of stoned ape groovers to hot wheel out of the Pacific Northwest since forever. Freewheelin’ followed in 2016 on Small Stone, and so did unhinged tours of Europe, more year-end accolades, and festival slots (420 Fest, Sasquatch). In late 2017, LA CHINGA entered Vancouver’s Warehouse studio with producer Jamey Koch. The result is Beyond The Sky, available this fall via Small Stone. This is how it feels to get chinga’d, amigos. Surf’s up.

LA CHINGA is:
Jason Solyom: drums, percussion, vox
Carl Spackler: bass, vox
Ben Yardley: guitar, vox, theremin

http://www.facebook.com/La-Chinga
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords

La Chinga, Beyond the Sky (2018)

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Quarterly Review: All Them Witches, Anthroprophh, Orphan Gears, The Watchers, Grajo, Mythic Sunship, Empress, Monads, Nest, Redneck Spaceship

Posted in Reviews on April 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

Well, we’ve reached the end of the week if not the end of the Quarterly Review itself. That’s right: after hemming and hawing all week and going back and forth in my silly little brain, I’ve decided to extend this edition to a sixth day, which will be Monday. That means 60 reviews in six days, not 50 in five. Honestly, I could probably keep going for three or four more beyond that if I had the time or inclination, and I may get there someday, but I’m definitely not there now.

But hey, there have been a couple comments left along the way, so thanks for that. I appreciate you taking the time to read if you have. Here’s the last for the week and we’ll pick back up on Monday.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

All Them Witches, Lost and Found EP

all them witches lost and found ep

If Nashville four-piece All Them Witches put together the free-download Lost and Found EP simply as a means of getting their take on the folk song “Hares on the Mountain” out there, it was worth it. In the hands of vocalist/bassist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Rhodes specialist/violinist Allan Van Cleave and drummer Robby Staebler, the traditional tune becomes a wide open dronescape, bristling and vague like memory itself. It’s beautiful and a little confusing in just the right way, and it comes accompanied on the short release by the Fleetwood Mac cover “Before the Beginning,” an even-more-subdued take on “Call Me Star” from 2015’s New West Records debut, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here), and a dub redux of “Open Passageways” – called, of course, “Dub Passageways” – from the same album. Might be a stopgap between full-lengths, but still, at 18 minutes, it’d make a more than worthy 10” release if they were looking for something new for the merch table.

All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks

All Them Witches on Bandcamp

 

Anthroprophh, Omegaville

anthroprophh omegaville

Next time you feel like, “Hey man, I’m so freaked out and weird and wow man whatever blah blah,” just take a second to remember you live in a dimension where dudes from The Heads have side-projects. Paul Allen and Anthroprophh – his trio with Gareth Turner and Jesse Webb, otherwise known as the duo Big Naturals – are a freaked out freakout’s freakout. The stuff of psychedelic mania. And that’s only on the first disc of the 2CD Omegavlle (Rocket Recordings). By the time they get around to the three-song second disc and dig into extended trips like “Omegaille/THOTHB” (14:48) and the subsequent finale, “Journey out of Omegaville and into the…” (20:57), they’re so far gone into noise and captured, manipulated audio that who the hell knows where we’ve ended up? At 88 minutes, the limits of manageability are long left behind, but to get some of the Velvet Underground-in-space vibes of “Maschine” in trade for undertaking the undertaking it’s well worth letting go of the rigidity of things like time, place, etc.

Anthroprophh on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Orphan Gears, Rat Race

orphan gears rat race

I’m pretty sure Orphan Gears used the Super Mario Bros. font for their logo on the cover of their latest EP, Rat Race, and for that, they should be saluted. The gritty-riffing semi-punker London four-piece offer five tracks and 20 minutes of workaday, boozy grooves, blowing off steam after putting in a shift at this or that crappy job. They are null as regards pretense, and ask little more of their audience than perhaps a beer from the stage or whatever else might be on the menu that night. They share initials, but unlike much of the London underground, they share little ultimately with Orange Goblin in terms of style, despite the shuffle of “Tough Luck, BJ” or the harmonica at the end of “Bitch-Slapped Blues,” and by the time they get to the classic strut of the title-track, they seem to be dug into AC/DC-style groove in the verse while blending in modern heavy rock impulses around it. They clearly save their best for last.

Orphan Gears on Thee Facebooks

Orphan Gears on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Black Abyss

the watchers black abyss

An immediately cogent, professional debut full-length is about what you’d expect from The Watchers, the San Francisco four-piece with members of SpiralArms, Orchid and Black Gates in their ranks, particularly after their prior EP, Sabbath Highway (review here), but that doesn’t stop the songwriting from impressing across the eight-song long-player, Black Abyss (on Ripple Music). The band’s presentation is crisp and pro-shop all the way through, from the soloing on “Oklahoma Black Magic” to the keyboard-laced TonyMartin-era-Sabbathism-meets-tambourine of “Suffer Fool” later on, and with the opening salvo of the title-track and “Alien Lust” right behind it, The Watchers set a quick expectation for hooks and a high standard of delivery that, thankfully, they show no hesitation in living up to for the duration, the chug-and-roll finale “Seven Tenets” satisfies in mood and efficiency, departing into airy guitar meditation and making its way back for a suitably rocking sendoff. Dudes know what they’re doing, where they’re headed and how they want to get there. All the listener needs to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Grajo, Slowgod II

grajo slowgod ii

A sequel to their 2015 full-length, Slowgod II (on Underground Legends Records, Spinda Records and DHU Records), sees Córdoba-based four-piece Grajo dug into a deep-toned psychedelic doom. There are flashes of Eastern influence on “Malmuerta,” with frontwoman Liz crooning over the minor-key guitar noodling of Josef, the forward motion in Félix’s drums and the heft of Pistolo’s bass. That dynamic works across Slowgod II, from opener and longest track (immediate points) “Altares” through its closing eight-minute counterpart “Malstrom,” which moves from early crunch through spacious volume swells in its middle only to regain composure and offer a heavy post-rock payoff that, somehow, still isn’t that atmospherically removed from the swinging “Horror and Pleasure” right before it or the similarly speedier “Queen Cobra” that follows “Altares” at the outset. Definitely one for the converted, Grajo deliver tones thick enough to stand on and engaging melodicism without falling into any real traps of sonic redundancy, varying their pace effectively and conjuring consuming plod on “ER” while still holding to that notion of breadth that seems to unite all their material here.

Grajo on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Mythic Sunship, Upheaval

mythic sunship upheaval

It just so happens this is exactly what the fuck I’m talking about. After releasing their Land Between Rivers (review here) LP through El Paraiso Records last year, the Copenhagen four-piece of Emil Thorenfeldt, Frederik Denning, Kasper Andersen and Rasmus “Cleaver” Christensen, collectively known as Mythic Sunship, return with four more slabs of exploratory bliss on Upheaval. Either completely or partially improvised, “Tectonic Beach” (12:42), “Aether Flux” (10:55), “Cosmic Rupture” (6:44) and “Into Oblivion” (13:56) flow together like the work of masters, and with shades of patient space rock at their core, the tracks are infused with life even beyond the spontaneity of their creation. Heavy jams. Heavy, spacy jams. Molten. Swirling. Badass. Even the shorter and more forward “Cosmic Rupture” is headed out of the atmosphere, and when they come around to the noisy payoff deep in “Into Oblivion,” it’s abundantly clear they’re not joking around when it comes to the title. You can get onboard with Mythic Sunship, or you can miss out. Bands like this separate the hip from the squares.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records webstore

 

Empress, Reminiscence

Empress reminiscence

Those who miss the days when Mastodon or Baroness howled their shouts into a landscape of crunching tonal largesse might do well to dig into what Vancouver, British Columbia’s Empress have to offer on their late-2017 debut EP, Reminiscence. The 27-minute five-tracker isn’t without its sense of melody – there’s plenty of room in eight-minute second cut “Immer” – but guitarist/vocalist Peter Sacco, bassist Brenden Gunn and drummer Chris Doyle make their primary impression via the impact of their material, and as they swap back and forth between shorter tracks and longer ones, a sense of structural playfulness results that moves through the bass openings of “Baptizer” (2:50) and “They Speak Like Trees” (9:27) into the ambient guitar finisher “Dawn,” and the feeling is that, like their stylistic forebears in at the time what was thought of as a new take on sludge metal, Empress will only grow more progressive as they move forward from this first outing. One hopes they hold firm to the tectonic weight they present here that so many others seem to have given up along the way.

Empress on Thee Facebooks

Empress on Bandcamp

 

Monads, IVIIV

monads iviiv

Released some six years after Monads’ 2011 debut, Intellectus Iudicat Veritatem, the Aesthetic Death Records-issued IVIIV was, according to the Belgian five-piece’s own accounting, in the works for most of that time in one way or another. One might say, therefore, that its creation does justice to the glacial pace of some of its slowest moments, the crawling death-doom extremity of pieces like “To a Bloodstained Shore,” or the lurch before the gallop takes hold in “Your Wounds Were My Temple.” At four songs and 50 minutes, IVIIV is indicative enough of the style, but Monads legitimately showcase a persona of their own in and out of those genre confines, the melancholic atmosphere and expanded arrangement elements (piano, etc.) of 15-minute closer “The Despair of an Aeon” creatively used if familiar, and the smoothness of the transitions in opener “Leviathan as My Lament” setting a tone of scope as well as downward emotional trajectory. Not sure I’d count on a quick turnaround for a follow-up, but if half a decade from now a new Monads record surfaces, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for.

Monads on Thee Facebooks

Aestehetic Death Records website

 

Nest, Metempsychosis

nest metempsychosis

Rolling from its untitled intro through its untitled outro through a barrage of charred-black, bludgeoning sludge extremity, the debut album from Lexington, Kentucky’s Nest, Metempsychosis (on Sludgelord Records), refers in its title to a transmigration of the soul, an inheritance almost as much as reincarnation. The band may be talking about themselves or they may be working on a theme throughout the record’s seven proper tracks, I don’t know, but if the idea is destruction and rebirth, they certainly sound more interested in the former. Songs like “Heretic” seethe and scour, while the lumbering and spacious closer “Life’s Grief,” capping with abrasive noise, would seem to be a mission statement in itself. Individual pieces like “Jewel of Iniquity” and the preceding atmosphere-into-mega-crush “Diving into the Entrails of Sheep” – of course the centerpiece of the tracklisting – are shorter unto themselves, but like everything else that surrounds, they feed into an overarching ambience of disgust and chaos.

Nest on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Redneck Spaceship, Grand Marshal Ape

redneck spaceship grand marshall ape

There are some issues as regards the balance of the mix pushing the vocals forward ahead of the guitar to work out, but Moscow’s Redneck Spaceship impress all the same with the intent and execution of their late-2017 self-released debut, Grand Marshal Ape. In riffs and songcraft, their influences stem from the classic days of stoner rock, but from opener “The Sands of Dakar” and the later “That Sounds Nuts,” one gets a vibe of underlying punk influence, while the twang in harmonized highlight “On the Roadside” and slide guitar of “Maverick” lends a Southern, bluesy swing that the penultimate “Enchained” answers back later ahead of the sample-laden psychedelic jam-out closer, “Antariksh,” which strikes as a far cry from the ultra-straightforward presentation earlier on “Empty Pockets,” but speaks to an immediate scope in Redneck Spaceship’s sound. One hopes they continue to meld elements as they progress beyond Grand Marshal Ape and bridge the gap between one side of their moniker and the other.

Redneck Spaceship on Thee Facebooks

Redneck Spaceship on Bandcamp

 

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Bison Announce Earthbound CD/LP Reissue out April 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

A decade before they put out last year’s You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient (review here), Vancouver riffers Bison issued their debut EP, Earthbound (discussed here), and sounded geared up for good times to come. Of course, good times dud follow, as they were signed to Metal Blade for the subsequent three full-lengths and pretty much toured their asses off for years to support the cause.

At least, I assume those were good times. Could always go either way, I suppose. In any case, they’ll get the chance for a little nostalgia when No List Records gives Earthbound a re-release on April 20 — one day, as it just so happens, before Bison head to Europe to play Doom Over Leipzig, Roadburn, Desertfest, the Pelagic Fest hosted by their new label, Pelagic Records, which put out the latest album, and much more besides. Fancy that coincidence. I dare you. Fancy it.

I don’t even know what that means. Here’s this from the PR wire:

bison

Bison to re-issue “Earthbound”

No List Records is pleased to announce that they will re-issue Bison’s classic Earthbound EP on CD and vinyl. The album was originally released in 2007 but is now set to be re-released on April 20th 2018 to coincide with their spring European tour.

Earthbound will be available for the first time ever on vinyl and is limited to 666 copies.

Pre-orders are available at www.nolistrecords.com

Tour dates:
Bison plus guests – March 30 – Vancouver – Rickshaw
Bison plus guests – March 31 – Victoria – Capitol Ballroom
April 21 •GER, Leipzig, Doom over Leipzig* •
April 22 • NL, Tilburg, Roadburn Festival •
April 23 • DK, Copenhagen, Beta •
April 24 • SWE, Linköping, tba •
April 25 • DK, Oslo, Revolver •
April 26 • SWE, Stockholm, Kraken •
April 27 • SWE, Jönköping, Sofiehof Underjord •
April 28 • GER, Hamburg, Droneburg Festival •
April 29 • NL, Utrecht, Dbs •
April 30 • GER, Karlsruhe, Stadtmitte •
May 01 • GER, Wiesbaden, Schlachthof •
May 02 • BE, Brussel, Magasin 4 •
May 3 • CH, Bulle, Ebulition •
May 4 • CH, Porrentruy, Galerie du Sauvage •
May 5 • FR, Paris, L´escape B •
May 6 • UK, London, Desertfest •
May 8 • CZ, Prague, Underdog´s •
May 9 • AT, Vienna, Viper Room •
May 10 • CR, Zagreb, Vintage Industrial •
May 11 • RO, Cluij, Hard Club •
May 12 • RO, Craiova, tba •
May 13 • RO, Bukarest, Control Club •
May 14 • HU, Budapest, Robot •
May 15 • PL, Cracow, Alchemia •
May 16 • PL, Warsaw, Hydrozagadka •
May 18 • GER, Kiel, Alte Meierei •
May 19 • GER, Berlin, Pelagic Fest •

BISON 2007 line-up
Brad McKinnon-Drums
Dan And-Vocals and guitars
James Farwell-Vocals and guitars
Masa Anzai-Bass guitar

http://www.facebook.com/bisonbc
http://nolistrecords.com/

Bison, “Earthbound”

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Hashteroid Sign to Cursed Tongue Records for Self-Titled Debut; New Song Premiering Now

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on March 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hashteroid

There is just about no letup offered across the seven-track/34-minute span of Hasteroid‘s Hashteroid, and even when a moment comes to catch your breath or at least think you might be able to start to, it doesn’t last, the Vancouver three-piece blazing at maximum speed through cuts like “Black Tide” and “Godspeed Below” with bull-in-china-shop subtlety and a difficult-to-pull-off blend of heavy rock and punk, shades of rawest Fu Manchu groove aligning themselves to the unrelenting forward drive one finds in the work of Zeke when one to keep up to find it at all.

That’s not to say it’s all thrust — well, actually that’s exactly what it’s to say — but in the furygallop of “Stan the Wolfman” and indeed in “Godspeed Below,” there are turns to a more overarching heavy rock groove that Hashteroid — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Alex Gidora, bassist/vocalist Mike Grossnickle and drummer Grant Prouse — bring to bear with the kind of cross-genre, we’re-just-gonna-do-this fuckall that once found hardcore punkers like Suicidal Tendencies essentially playing thrash metal. There’s a similar concern for the barriers between one style and another throughout HashteroidHashteroid, and where so much of the underground heavy rock scene in the Pacific Northwest remains enamored of Red Fang‘s party vibes, even in an unbridled catchy piece like “Green Caramel” — which, by amazing coincidence you can hear premiering at the bottom of this post, these guys are on their own trip, as closer “…Return to Hash Planet” shows in its metal-o-speed-punk high-energy push, post-Motörhead for sure, but turning to a beer-spilling nod in its hook like it ain’t no thing, happens all the time. Maybe for Hashteroid it does.

One thing about “Green Caramel” that you might want to keep in mind about the album as a whole as you listen: It’s four minutes and 20 seconds long. The connection to stoner culture notwithstanding — dude, the band is called Hashteroid; ain’t like they’re keeping secrets — the point is that one might expect speed-punk cuts like some of these to be in the one- to two-minute range, but “Stan the Wolfman” tops six. And yet at not point do Hashteroid remain in one place long enough to overstay their welcome. It’s a hard balance to find, even more for a debut full-length, and it leaves little mystery as to why Cursed Tongue Records picked up the band to release the album this summer.

Announcement follows with audio after. Don’t be a jerk and skip the track:

hasteroid ctr signing

HASHTEROID SIGNS TO CURSED TONGUE RECORDS FOR WORLD WIDE RELEASE OF THEIR SELF-TITLED DEBUT FULL-LENGTH ALBUM.

Cursed Tongue Records is super pumped to announce the signing of Canadian speed devils and riff meisters Hashteroid. This band has been shredding venues to pieces across the land for some time and is now ready to take over the world with their fast paced take on psych rock and stoner metal. Hashteroid has been on the CTR radar for quite some time and it’s an honor to be given the opportunity to work with this fierce threesome.

Hashteroid prove that stoner metal doesn’t have to be slow; the riffs are huge and the Sabbath is maintained, but the blasting back-beat doesn’t let up. A live Hashteroid set pours gas on the fires of stoke, and burns down barriers in a smoked-out, sweaty haze. The power of the trio lies in smuggling Motörhead’s mayhem into riff-filled lands, while remaining heady enough for harsh tokers. Formed in the Fall of 2013 by Alex Gidora (Guitar/Vocals), Mike Grossnickle (Bass/Vocals), and Steve Chambers (Drums), the band was tragically sidelined by Steve’s passing while waiting for the first pressing of their debut EP, ‘Respect the Depths’. Knowing that the best tribute to a fallen comrade is to keep on with life’s work, Hashteroid regrouped in 2016 with Grant Prouse on the kit and an even bigger chip on their shoulder.

The band hit the Vancouver scene hard, sharing the stage with locals Anciients and Baptists, and touring heavies like Black Breath, The Shrine, and The Atomic Bitchwax. Last fall they opened for Dead Meadow and Elder as well as toured Western Canada. The Spring of 2017 saw the band holed up at Bully’s Studios to record their first full-length with Michael Kraushaar (Black Wizard). The resulting tracks were mixed by Vancouver veteran Jesse Gander (Bison, Japandroids) then mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright (Nails, Mutoid Man). The new material hones the band’s headlong approach, showcasing the trio shredding on the blade of a hot-knife, straddling the opposing forces of pure momentum and reflective intricacy. With a full-length album in the wings, Hashteroid is poised to make their mark on all that is heavy.

2018 is shaping up to be a big one for Hashteroid with the release of their debut album on digital in spring with vinyl to follow shortly after. Also touring plans are lined up along gig in April with mighty Dopethrone.

With Hashteroid we feel that the Cursed Tongue Records roster has been reinforced with some of the illest and hardest hitting punky psych stoner rock this side of the Universe. This is sure to please fans of anything energetic, heavy and ripping. Fans of aforementioned Mutoid Man will find plenty to dig here. And if you ever wondered how Black Sabbath would sound when played at 78 RPM – ponder no more. Hashteroid has you covered with the energy and metallic drive of Kvelertak and the vocals of Fu Manchu/At The Drive-In paired with a heady dose of thrashy stoner riffery.

CTR-009, HASHTEROID – ‘HASHTEROID’, official release date: summer 2018

HASHTEROID is:
Alex Gidora – Guitars & Vocals
Mike Grossnickle – Bass & Backup Vocals
Grant Prouse – Drums

Recorded at Bully’s Studios with Michael Kraushaar (Black Wizard)
Mixed by Jesse Gander (Bison, Japandroids)
Mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright (Nails, Mutoid Man)
All music composed and arranged by HASHTEROID
All lyrics by HASHTEROID
Artwork and design by Adam Vick
Additional design/layout by Michael Andresakis

Track listing:

Side A
1. Freak Power
2. Black Tide
3. Stan The Wolfman
4. Green Caramel

Side B
5. Godspeed Below
6. Cool Ghost
7. …Return To Hash Planet

https://www.facebook.com/hashteroid/
http://www.instagram.com/hashteroid
https://hashteroid.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CursedTongueRecords/
https://www.instagram.com/cursedtongue
http://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

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