Quarterly Review: The Cult of Dom Keller, Grandpa Jack, Woven Man, Charivari, Human Impact, Dryland, Brass Owl, Battle City, Astral Bodies, Satyrus

Posted in Reviews on March 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Ah, the Wednesday of a Quarterly Review. Always a special day in my mind. We hit and pass the halfway point today, and I like the fact that the marker is right in the middle of things, like that sign you pass in Pennsylvania on Rt. 80 that says, “this is the highest point east of the Mississippi,” or whatever it is. Just a kind of, “oh, by the way, in case you didn’t know, there’s this but you’re on your way somewhere else.” And so we are, en route to 50 reviews by Friday. Will we get there? Yeah, of course. I’ve done this like 100 times now, it’s not really in doubt. Sleeping, eating, living: these things are expendable. The Quarterly Review will get done. So let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Cult of Dom Keller, Ascend!

the cult of dom keller ascend

They’re not going quietly, that’s for sure. Except for when they are, at least. The Cult of Dom Keller send their listeners — and, it would seem, themselves — into the howling ether on the exclamatory-titular Ascend!, their fifth LP. Issued through Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud records it brings a bevvy of freakouts in psych-o-slabs like “I Hear the Messiah” and the early-arriving “Hello Hanging Rope” and the building-in-thickness “The Blood Donor Wants His Blood Back,” and the foreboding buzz of “We’re All Fucked (Up),” peppering in effective ambient interludes ahead of what might be some resolution in the closing “Jam for the Sun.” Or maybe that’s just narrative I’m putting to it. Does it matter? Does anything matter? And what is matter? And what is energy? And is there a line between the two or are we all just playing pretend at existence like I-think-therefore-I-am might actually hold water in a universe bigger than our own pea-sized brains. Where do we go from here? Or maybe it’s just the going and not the where? Okay.

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Cardinal Fuzz on Bandcamp

Little Cloud Records on Bandcamp

 

Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie

Grandpa Jack Trash Can Boogie

Brooklynite trio Grandpa Jack are working toward mastery of the thickened midtempo groove on their second EP, Trash Can Boogie. Led by guitarist/vocalist Johnny Strom with backing shouts from drummer Matt C. White and a suitable flow provided by bassist Jared Schapker, the band present a classic-tinged four tracks, showing some jammier psych range in the 7:47 second cut “Untold” but never straying too far from the next hook, as opener “Ride On, Right On” and the almost-proto-metal “Imitation” show. Finishing with “Curmudgeon,” Grandpa Jack ride a fine line between modern fuzz, ’90s melody and ’70s groove idolatry, and part of the fun is trying to figure out which side they’re on at any given point and which side they’ll want to ultimately end up on, or if they’ll decide at all. They have one LP under their collective belt already. I’d be surprised if their next one didn’t garner them more significant attention, let alone label backing, should they want it.

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Grandpa Jack on Bandcamp

 

Woven Man, Revelry (In Our Arms)

woven man revelry in our arms

There’s metal in the foundation of what Woven Man are doing on their 2019 debut, Revelry (In Our Arms). And there’s paganism. But they’re by no means “pagan metal” at least in the understood genre terms. The Welsh outfit — featuring guitarist Lee Roy Davies, formerly of Acrimony — cast out soundscapes in their vocal melodies and have no lack of tonal crunch at their disposal when they want it, but as eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) shows, they’re not going to be rigidly defined as one thing or another. One can hear C.O.C. in the riffs during their moments of sneer on “I am Mountain” or the centerpiece highlight “With Willow,” but they never quite embrace the shimmer outright Though they come right to the cusp of doing so on the subsequent “Makers Mark,” but closer “Of Land and Sky” revives a more aggressive push and sets them toward worshiping different idols. Psychedelic metal is a tough, nearly impossible, balance to pull off. I’m not entirely convinced it’s what Woven Man are going for on this first outing, but it’s where they might end up.

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Woven Man on Bandcamp

 

Charivari, Descent

charivari descent

Whether drifting mildly through the likes of drone-laden pieces “Down by the Water,” the CD-only title-track or “Alexandria” as they make their way toward the harsh bite at the end of the 11-minute closer “Scavengers of the Wind,” Bath, UK, heavy post-rockers Charivari hold a firm sense of presence and tonal fullness. They’re prone to a wash from leadoff “When Leviathan Dreams” onward, but it’s satisfying to course along with the four-piece for the duration of their journey. Rough spots? Oh, to be sure. “Aphotic” seethes with noisy force, and certainly the aforementioned ending is intended to jar, but that only makes a work like “Lotus Eater,” which ably balances Cure-esque initial lead lines with emergent distortion-crush, that much richer to behold. The moves they make are natural, unforced, and whether they’re trading back and forth in volume or fluidly, willfully losing themselves in a trance of effects, the organic and ethereal aspects of their sound never fail to come through in terms of melody even as a human presence is maintained on vocals. When “Down by the Water” hits its mark, it is positively encompassing. Headphones were built for this.

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Worst Bassist Records on Bandcamp

 

Human Impact, Human Impact

human impact human impact

Bit of a supergroup here, at least in the underrated-New-York-art-noise sphere of things. Vocals and riffy crunch provided by the masterful Chris Spencer (formerly of Unsane), while Cop Shoot Cop‘s Jim Coleman adds much-welcome electronic flourish, Swans/Xiu Xiu bassist Chris Pravdica provides low end and the well-if-he-can-handle-drumming-for-Swans-he-can-handle-anything Phil Puleo (also Cop Shoot Cop) grounds the rhythm. Presented through Ipecac, the four-piece’s declarative self-titled debut arrives through Ipecac very much as a combination of the elements of which it is comprised, but the atmosphere brought to the proceedings by Coleman set against Spencer‘s guitar isn’t to be understated. The two challenge each other in “E605” and the off-to-drone “Consequences” and the results are to everyone’s benefit, despite the underlying theme of planetary desolation. Whoops on that one, but at least we get the roiling chaos and artful noise of “This Dead Sea” out of it, and that’s not nothing. Predictable? In parts, but so was climate change if anyone would’ve fucking listened.

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Ipecac Recordings store

 

Dryland, Dances with Waves

dryland dances with waves

The nautically-themed follow-up to Bellingham, Washington, progressive heavy/noise/post-hardcore rockers Dryland‘s 2017 self-titled debut album, the four-song Dances with Waves EP finds the thoughtful and melodic riffers working alongside producer/engineer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, etc.) on a recording that loses none of its edge for its deft changes of rhythm and shifts in vocals. There’s some influence from Elder maybe in terms of the guitar on “No Celestial Hope” and the finale “Between the Testaments,” but by the time the seven-minute capper is done, it’s full-on Pacific Northwest noise crunch, crashing its waves of riffs and stomp against the shore of your eardrums in demand of as much volume as you’ll give it. Between those two, “Exalted Mystics” moves unsuspectingly through its first half and seems to delve into semi-emo-if-emo-was-about-sailing-and-death theatrics in its second, while “The Sound a Sword Adores” distills the alternating drive and sway down to its barest form, a slowdown later setting up the madness soon to arrive in “Between the Testaments.”

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Dryland on Bandcamp

 

Brass Owl, State of Mind

brass owl state of mind

Brass Owl foster on their self-released debut full-length, State of Mind, a brand of heavy rock that maintains a decidedly straightforward face while veering at the same time into influences from grunge, ’70s rock, the better end of ’80s metal and probably one or two current hard or heavy rock bands. You might catch a tinge of Five Horse Johnson-style blues on “No Filter – Stay Trendy” or the particularly barroom-ready “Jive Turkey,” which itself follows the funkier unfolding jam-into-shredfest of “The Legend of FUJIMO,” and the earlier “Hook, Line & Sinker” has trucker-rock all over it, but through it all, the defining aspect of the work is its absolute lack of pretense. These guys — there would seem to have been three when they recorded, there are two now; so it goes — aren’t trying to convince you of their intelligence, or their deep-running stylistic nuance. They’re not picking out riffs from obscure ’80s indie records or even ’70s private press LPs. They’re having a good time putting traditionalist-style rock songs together, messing around stylistically a bit, and they’ve got nine songs across 43 minutes ready to roll for anyone looking for that particular kind of company. If that’s you, great. If it ain’t, off you go to the next one.

Brass Owl website

Brass Owl on Bandcamp

 

Battle City, Press Start

Battle City Press Start

From even before you press play on Press Start, the 22-minute debut release from South Africa’s Battle City, the instrumental duo make their love of gaming readily apparent. Given that they went so far as to call one song “Ram Man” and that it seems just as likely as not that “Ignition” and “Ghost Dimension” are video game references as well, it’s notable that guitarist/bassist Stian “Lightning Fingers Van Tonder” Maritz and drummer Wayne “Thunder Flakes” Hendrikz didn’t succumb to the temptation of bringing any electronic sounds to the six-song offering. Even in “Ghost Dimension,” which is the closer and longest track by about three minutes, they keep it decidedly straightforward in terms of arrangements and resist any sort of chiptune elements, sticking purely to guitar, bass and drums. There’s a touch of the progressive to the leadoff title-track and to the soaring lead “Ignotion,” but Press Start does likewise in setting the band’s foundation in a steady course of heavy rock and metal, to the point that if you didn’t know they were gaming-inspired by looking at the cover art or the titles, there’d be little to indicate that’s where they were coming from. I wouldn’t count myself among them, but those clamoring for beeps and boops and other 8-bit nonsense will be surprised. For me, the riffs’ll do just fine, thanks.

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Battle City on Bandcamp

 

Astral Bodies, Escape Death

Astral Bodies Escape Death

Spacious, varied and progressive without losing their heft either of tone or presence, Manchester, UK, trio Astral Bodies debut on Surviving Sounds with Escape Death, working mostly instrumentally — they do sneak some vocals into the penultimate “Pale Horse” — to affect an atmosphere of cosmic heavy that’s neither indebted to nor entirely separate from post-metal. Droning pieces like the introductory “Neptune,” or the joyous key-laced wash of the centerpiece “Orchidaeae,” or even “Pale Horse,” act as spacers between longer cuts, and they’re purposefully placed not to overdo symmetry so as to make Escape Death‘s deceptively-efficient 36-minute runtime predictable. It’s one more thing the three-piece do right, added to the sense of rawness that comes through in the guitar tone even as effects and synth seem to surround and provide a context that would be lush if it still weren’t essentially noise rock. Cosmic noise? The push of “Oumuamua” sure is, if anything might be. Classify it however you want — it’s fun when it’s difficult! — but it’s a striking record either way, and engages all the more as a first long-player.

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Satyrus, Rites

satyrus rites

Following its three-minute chanting intro, Satyrus let opener and longest track (immediate points) “Black Satyrus” unfold its cultish nod across an eight minutes that leads the way into the rest of their debut album, Rites, perhaps more suitably than the intro ever could. The building blocks that the Italian unit are working from are familiar enough — Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, maybe even some Slayer in the faster soloing of second cut “Shovel” — but that doesn’t make the graveyard-dirt-covered fuzz of “Swirl” or the noisefest that ensues in “Stigma” or subsequent “Electric Funeral”-ist swing any less satisfying, or the dug-in chug of bookending nine-minute closer “Trailblazer.” Hell, if it’s a retread, at least they’re leaving footprints, and it’s not like Satyrus are trying to tell anyone they invented Tony Iommi‘s riff. It’s a mass by the converted for the converted. I’d ask nothing more of it than that and neither should you.

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Satyrus on Bandcamp

 

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Sigiriya Announce New Album Maiden Mother Crone; Premiere “Cwn Annwn”

Posted in audiObelisk on January 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

SIGIRIYA

Welsh rockers of time and space Sigiriya will release their third full-length, Maiden Mother Crone, this Spring through Burning World Records. By the time it arrives, it will be their first offering of any sort in six years, and in addition to introducing drummer Rhys Miles to the fold, the album collects eight tracks for a 45-minute run of of-the-earth-but-nonetheless-ethereal rolling grooves that seem to draw as much from the mythological as from the world around them in presence and theme alike. Early cuts like “Cwn Annwn,” “Tau Ceti” and “Peace of My Mind” establish Sigiriya circa 2020 as a band afraid neither to touch ground nor sky, and the spaciousness in the echoing vocals of Matt “Pipes” Williams (also Suns of Thunder) only adds breadth to the fluid distortion and heft of Stu O’Hara‘s guitar and Paul Bidmead‘s bass.

The latter two, of course, are alumni of Swansea-based troupe Acrimony — the bulk of whose studio work Burning World recently remastered and issued as the boxed set Chronicles of Wode (review here) — and though when Sigiriya started out with their 2011 debut, Return to Earth (review here), their mission seemed to further that band’s rather significant legacy, subsequent years have found them pulling in a new direction, and Maiden Mother Crone continues that thread. Part of it is sheer lineup. Matt Williams — who also did some recording on the new album, while Richard Whittaker mixed and mastered — took the frontman spot from Dorian Walters, who also had been in Acrimony, and sure enough, Rhys Miles comes to Sigiriya in place of Darren Ivey, who’d also been in the prior outfit. Some change of dynamic, then, seems inevitable as half the makeup of the band has changed from the first album to the third, but O’Hara‘s guitar tone is a signature element and recognizable throughout Maiden Mother Crone, whether it’s the crunching riff in opener “Mantis” or the shorter “Dark Call” later on, which seems to get swallowed up by the sheer overload of dense, hairy fuzz.

Whatever familiar elements persist, and however welcome they may be — because, frankly, I’ll take that guitar sound anytime it wants to show up — Sigiriya‘s sonic identity has never sounded more their own and more distinct than it does Sigiriya Maiden Mother Cronethroughout Maiden Mother Crone. After the resonant cast and grit of “Seeking Eden” and “Dark Call”‘s push, the record’s two longest tracks take hold in succession, with “Arise (Darkness Died Today)” referencing the band’s second album, 2014’s Darkness Died Today (review here, also discussed here) as it digs into suitably moodier vibes and touches on some vocal harmonies from Williams along with a fullness of sound that extends even to Miles‘ crash cymbals, the song still relatively straightforward in structure and, at 6:21, not much longer than “Cwn Annwn” or “Peace of My Mind” back on side A, but just an extra touch more atmospheric as to justify its position as the penultimate cut ahead of 8:21 closer “Crushed by the Weight of the Sky.”

It is a particular credit to Miles and Bidmead as the rhythm section that Maiden Mother Crone rolls with such a nodding flow across its span the drums and bass allow for the psychedelic, airier flourish in the guitar as well as the dead-ahead shove when that comes up, but they show a steadiness of pace that isn’t to be overlooked when it comes to how immersive the record ends up being. That’s true even in the up-front rockers “Mantis,” “Cwn Annwn” and “Tau Ceti” — the latter of which should be enough to sate anyone’s Acrimony fix if the box set didn’t do it — but comes to the forefront starkly at the halfway point of “Crushed by the Weight of the Sky” as well as Miles switches to timekeeping with his crash cymbal. It seems like such a simple moment, such an easy thing for a drummer to do, but it is just right in serving the purpose of the song’s overarching groove, and though Williams soon enough begins the next verse/hook and O’Hara‘s guitar will after six minutes in take the reins and lead the band through a tempo kick as they build to the organ-or-at-least-organ-sound-laced last crescendo, of which the band take full advantage, not letting the opportunity pass to pay off both the track in question and the album as a whole.

Six years between records is a long time. That’s double the stretch between their first and second albums. And it’s not in their nature stylistically to sound “refreshed,” but Sigiriya do come across as vital throughout Maiden Mother Crone, and as they craft their folkloric place within the greater sphere of the UK heavy underground, they do so by stepping further out of the rather significant shadow of O’Hara and Bidmead‘s former outfit and into their own light. Will it be six years before another Sigiriya album surfaces? Maybe. Hell if I know. But if it is, Maiden Mother Crone shows clearly that Sigiriya are able to translate all that time into sonic growth on the part of the band. Like the songs themselves, that is not to be taken lightly.

You can stream the premiere of “Cwn Annwn” on the player below. More PR wire details from Burning World Records follow. Preorders and all that coming soon.

Please enjoy:

Shine on…

Welsh mountain men and valley crawlers Sigiriya are the first to admit to their faults – and yes, they got it wrong. The darkness hadn’t died. The eternal turn is undeniable. After the light of every day comes a veil of night, throwing real-world shadows into the soul of the Light Seeker.

Personal trauma, mental and physical health issues, and even new drummer Rhys Miles (who replaced Darren “TDB” Ivey before the writing of ‘Maiden…’) staring down the grim Reaper directly, have taken their toll on Sigiriya – ‘Maiden Mother Crone’ has been a tough album to harness.

Recorded with Adam Howell at UWTSD Studios in Swansea (with additional work by Matt Williams at Sunnyvale Studios), and mixed and mastered at The Bridge Studios & FX London by the lord of heaviness Richard Whittaker, it’s a monolith of light at the end of the tunnel, a rage against the system, a modern myth and a call to atavism.

‘Maiden Mother Crone’ is undeniably heavier, slower and darker in places, yet in others it soars and roars higher and brighter than ever. More mature in its focus, sound and integration of lyrics and influences than previous releases, with ‘Maiden Mother Crone’, Sigiriya shine onwards through this eternally turning cosmos.

Tracklisting:
1. Mantis
2. Cwn Annwn
3. Tau Ceti
4. Peace of My Mind
5. Seeking Eden
6. Dark Call
7. Arise (Darkness Died Today)
8. Crushed by the Weight of the Sky

Sigiriya are:
Matt ‘Pipes’ Williams (vocals)
Rhys Miles (drums)
Stu O’Hara (guitar)
Paul ‘Mead’ Bidmead (bass)

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Burning World Records website

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Burning World Records on Instagram

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Review & Track Premiere: Acrimony, Chronicles of Wode

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

acrimony chronicles of wode

[Click play above to stream ‘Million Year Summer’ from Acrimony’s new remaster box set, Chronicles of Wode. It starts streaming Dec. 7, preorders are here starting today and ship out in mid-Jan. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote the liner notes for the box set and was compensated for that work. I have not been compensated for this review, and frankly, given the chance to premiere a remastered Acrimony track and an excuse to write about these albums, there was no chance I wasn’t going to jump on it.]

Chronicles of Wode is a 3CD box set from Burning World Records that brings together the bulk of the discography of Welsh heavy rockers Acrimony. It includes their two full-lengths, 1994’s Hymns to the Stone (discussed here) and 1997’s Tumuli Shroomaroom (discussed here), both with new artwork by Jimbob Isaac (also of Taint and Hark)”, as well as a third disc of off-album tracks, some of which were previously collected on 2007’s Bong On – Live Long! compilation and some which were not, including a yet-unheard Doom cover, and so on. Bringing these offerings together is something noteworthy in itself — the band’s influence over UK heavy rock was and is formidable, and they were genuinely ahead of their time when it came to using repetition and jammy vibes as a means to hone a heavy psychedelic feel while retaining a metallic energy beneath — but crucially, Chronicles of Wode gives all of these Acrimony tracks a much-needed remastering, and they’ve never sounded so vibrant. That’s particularly true of Tumuli Shroomaroom, but while Hymns to the Stone is more dated in terms of its basic production, that’s more of a fact of how the record was originally made, and it seems no less integral to preserve that than it does to give Acrimony‘s catalog the detailing it has long since earned.

There’s a balance to be struck between the two sides, of course, and Chronicles of Wode seems to find it in the crunch of “Leaves of Mellow Grace,” the opener of Hymns to the Stone, which rolls out its nod like a clarion, finding Acrimony — the five-piece of vocalist Dorian Walters, guitarists Stu O’Hara and Lee Davies, bassist Paul Bidmead and drummer Darren Ivey — immediately putting the groove first in a way that few acts at the time had understood how to do. Their influences were varied, from ’70s rock to trance techno, but their riffs were undeniably heavy, with lyrics exploring the isolation of their hometown and the same kind of disaffection that once launched Black Sabbath to the outer reaches of doom from a blues rock beginning. Acrimony started out more as death metal or at least death-doom, but Hymns to the Stone was a point of discovery for them in terms of claiming their identity, and whether it’s the nodding pub-homage “The Inn” or the myth-creation they engaged with “Urabalaboom,” the sonic drawl and spacey push of “Spaced Cat #6” or the glorious noise-wash jam of “Whatever” ahead of brash closer “Cosmic AWOL,” Hymns to the Stone is a record that has been persistently undervalued, not just for what it set in motion in terms of Acrimony‘s all-too-short tenure as a band, but on the sheer merits of its material.

Rest assured, part of the reason Hymns to the Stone is undervalued is because it exists largely in the shadow of its follow-up. Clocking in at a whopping 65 minutes — prime CD era in 1997 — and originally released through Peaceville RecordsTumuli Shroomaroom is a legitimate heavy rock classic. Its production was clearer, its purpose was clearer and it took the blow-the-doors-down promise shown throughout Hymns to the Stone and brought it to a point of full realization throughout extended pieces like “Motherslug (The Mother of All Slugs),” “Heavy Feather” and “Firedance,” not to mention the nine-minute opener, “Hymns to the Stone,” a title-track for the release before. Go figure. By ’97, Acrimony‘s sense of world-creation was becoming clearer, and their songs — not all of them, but definitely some — had started telling a story beyond the riffs and nods. Of course, Tumuli Shroomaroom had and still has plenty of that too in “Million Year Summer,” “Vy,” “Find the Path” and “The Bud Song” — the arguable “meat” of the album in its post-opener beginning and the middle of the nine-song tracklist — but even amid “The Bud Song”‘s ultra-stoner janga-janga shuffle there’s psychedelic flourish building on that shown at the outset of the song, and Acrimony‘s adventurous sensibility never really dissipates. It’s just presented in dynamic fashion, and they use it to various ends throughout.

And that shows up not just in the odds and ends of percussion and didgeridoo and guitar effects, echo, etc., but in the various structures of of the tracks themselves. The same was true of Hymns to the Stone, if nascent, but Tumuli Shroomaroom realized these impulses in a new way that, even as a stoner rock underground was flourishing in the UK, was pretty rare. Some of the roots of that aural diversity are shown on the disc of extra tracks included in the box — unlike the two album, it’s not available separately to my knowledge — with the aforementioned take on Doom‘s “Exploitation” and the Status Quo cover of “O Baby” that was featured on Bong On – Live Long! alongside raw pieces like “Tumuli” and “100 New Gods” and “Timebomb!!!” and “Earthchild Inferno,” here pushed to the opening position as some of the cuts from the original compilation were cut, presumably for time. These songs have also been remastered and are worth hearing on both an academic level as further context for the band and just on their own merits — I don’t know what Burning World is charging, but “O Baby” alone is a worthy argument in favor of it — fitting well as a complement to the two albums that are obviously the showcase pieces of Chronicles of Wode and giving fans something more to dig into even as the records themselves invite rediscovery.

One also can’t ignore the fact that since Tumuli Shroomaroom was last reissued in 2007 by Leaf Hound Records — to the best of my knowledge and a bit to my surprise, Hymns to the Stone has never been reissued — an entire generation of heavy rockers has emerged and thrived on the ground that Acrimony helped break during their time. That may have been part of the motivation for four-fifths of the original band to come back together in 2010 as SigiriyaDavies was in Lifer and has since moved on to Woven Man — but either way, the important point here is that there’s no level on which these two full-lengths don’t deserve the care and treatment they’re given through the presentation of Chronicles of Wode, and anyone previously unfamiliar with Acrimony‘s work who takes it on is only going to get a more complete picture of from where modern heavy rock stems, especially in the UK, but also across the broader international underground. For prior fans? Well, it’s just a delight, pure and simple. Like visiting old friends.

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Dead Shed Jokers Set Sept. 6 Release for All the Seasons; Post Title-Track Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Dead Shed Jokers

Likewise inventive and accessible, Dead Shed Jokers‘ third full-length, All the Seasons, is set to release Sept. 6 through Pity My Brain Records. They’re streaming a video for the title-cut now — it’s below, just to save you looking for it — and the choice of highlighting that track feels especially purposeful. They could’ve gone with a stomping rocker like “Feel Today” or something in a modern-rock vein like “Dreams of North Korea,” or even “You’re a Thief,” which starts out quiet and pays off its tension later, but “All My Seasons” focuses on the central message of the album that shares its name, which is a tale of coping with mental health issues and the realities of the day-to-day, finding catharsis through expression. “All My Seasons” doesn’t represent the entirety of the live-recorded, 10-song/53-minute release by any means, but it definitely serves its chief function in getting the band’s point across.

All the Seasons is the follow-up to Dead Shed Jokers‘ 2015 self-titled (review here). More info/background came down the PR wire thusly:

Dead Shed Jokers - All the Seasons (Cover Artwork)

DEAD SHED JOKERS RETURN WITH THEIR 3RD ALBUM ‘ALL THE SEASONS’

Recorded live in just five days, the new album from Dead Shed Jokers is as immediate as anything they have committed to tape. Following ‘Peyote Smile’ in 2011 and their eponymous album in 2015, the band (as ever), have dug deep into their collective consciousness to deliver their most personal record to date, distilling the emotional storm life can be into 10 new tracks.

They have devoted their time to plundering every deep, dark corner of their minds, bodies and souls to bring you a genuinely exciting, absorbing and at times moving experience. Whether that perceived movement be through the crunching riffs in the likes of ‘Dreams of North Korea’ chronicling a tale of crippling addiction or the raw nature of ‘All the Seasons’ and ‘764’ that creatively describe personal struggles with mental health and marital breakdown. Rock genre touchstones have been broken, bent and re-moulded to create new, yet familiar, music vehicles, purposefully designed to serve the precious lyrical cargo within.

DSJ have managed to create an incredibly inventive and diverse album, that harks not only to a time when rock music was born of imagination, but also to a bright future where hopefully uniqueness and creativity will again be celebrated by all. The emotional journey the listener undertakes will be a rewarding and thought provoking one and we just hope you will embrace it.

‘All the Seasons’ Track Listing:
1. Phantom Pains
2. Feel Some More
3. Dreams of North Korea
4. All the Seasons
5. Aesopica#15
6. Feel Today
7. 764
8. You’re a Thief
9. Spanner in the Works
10. Enough is as Good as a Feast

Dead Shed Jokers are:
Vocals and Backing – Hywel Davies
Guitars and Bass – Nicky Bryant and Kristian Evans
Guitars, Bass, Fender Rhodes and Backing – Christopher Metters
Drums, Percussion and Backing – Sean Mahoney

Additional Contributions:
Acoustic Guitar – Tim Hamill (Track 7);
Synth – Tim Hamill (Track 1, 9 and 10);
Percussion – Ashley Jones (Track 8);
Cornett – Victoria Davies (Track 10).

Recorded and Produced by Tim Hamill at Sonic One Studios, Llanelli

https://www.facebook.com/DeadShedJokers/
https://www.instagram.com/deadshedjokers/
https://deadshedjokers.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pitymybrain/
https://pitymybrain.bigcartel.com

Dead Shed Jokers, “All the Seasons” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Acrimony, Hymns to the Stone

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Acrimony, Hymns to the Stone (1994)

If you weren’t sure about Acrimony‘s roots in more deathly/doomly fare, look no further than the gracefully morose logo that’s on front of their debut CD, Hymns to the Stone. Released through Godhead Recordings — don’t worry, they’d sign to Peaceville soon enough — Acrimony‘s first outing arrived and helped jumpstart a pivotal moment in UK heavy. And their departure from the melancholic vibes proffered by their serif-logo forebears in Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Anathema, etc., came at just the right time. As those bands also sought out different sonic territory and in some cases more than flirted with gothic vibes, Acrimony went in another direction entirely. They got high and they rocked out.

1994: When stoner rock was stoned.

I don’t know if it’s Dorian Walters‘ vocals or the fact that they’ve got songs like “Leaves of Mellow Grace,” “Herb” and “Cosmic AWOL,” but something about Acrimony just always seemed that much more under the influence. The overarching sound of Hymns to the Stone shows some of its age these 25 years after the fact, but that hardly makes it less righteous. The guitars of Stu O’Hara and Lee Davies, Paul Bidmead‘s bass and Darren Ivey‘s drums managed to take some influence from the grunge that was saturating the US at the time, meld it with their own history in metal, and add more than a flourish of Sabbathian undertones — looking at you, “Spaced Cat #6” — and create something new from it. And they were legitimately right there at the start. Cathedral had embraced something of a rocking side with their 1993 sophomore outing, The Ethereal Mirror, but Acrimony took even that to a new level entirely. Consider that Orange Goblin were just getting together at the time, and Electric Wizard as well. Consider that Hymns to the Stone came out the same year as Welcome to Sky Valley. Acrimony were a nexus band. They helped craft the direction the UK heavy underground would take as it moved into the mid ’90s and beyond, and their impact can still be felt today in swaths of bands in the UK and out.

While it is a mystery how there hasn’t been a band who’s named themselves after the song “Urabalaboom,” that centerpiece track remains ACRIMONY HYMNS TO THE STONEessential to Hymns to the Stone as Acrimony conveyed a jammier sensibility ahead of the acoustic start to “Herb” — also duly Iommic in its riff — and “Magical Mystery Man,” which follows and brings back some of the earlier catchiness of “Leaves of Mellow Grace,” “The Inn” and “Second Wind” at the outset. The vibe of the album is set largely by the tonal largesse of the opener and the looseness of its swing, taking a heavy crunch and making it roll with two guitars working in tandem to shove it along the path laid out with bass and drums. When Walters‘ vocals arrive, they’re lower in the mix than on some of the later tracks, and the riff-comes-first ethic is as plain to hear as the weed-worship of the lyrics. “The Inn” makes the most of some swirling wah as it marches forth, as well as some late-arriving shuffle, and “Second Wind” plays with tempo shifts effectively to convey a doom rocking feel with a nod in its midsection leading to more butt-boogie chicanery as they round out.

The fluidity there serves them well moving into the ultra-compressed start of “Space Cat #6” and the ensuing touch of psychedelic rock fervor brought to its arrangement that will be even further fleshed out soon enough on the penultimate “Whatever.” That song, which is the only one on Hymns to the Stone to hit the seven-minute mark, is little short of a revelation, playing out across a molten linear build that’s all the more about the journey than the payoff, taking the message of the prior “Urabalaboom,” “Herb” and “Magical Mystery Man” and bringing it to life in sound. Stretching out in this way suited Acrimony well, and it was a lesson they’d take to heart by the time they got around to their second full-length, Tumuli Shroomaroom (discussed here), in 1997, which even in its opening track, “Hymns to the Stone” (but wait! that’s the name of this album!), topped nine minutes en route to a total 65, as opposed to Hymns to the Stone‘s manageable 44-minute run. Likewise, the pairing of “Magical Mystery Man” and “Whatever” right next to each other hardly feels accidental, with the shortest and longest tracks offering direct contrast. “Magical Mystery Man” has a punkish feel, and “Whatever” is more spaced than “Spaced Cat #6,” so yeah. “Cosmic AWOL” finishes out by returning that massive cannabinoid sprawl somewhat to ground, still loading in plenty of wah to its just-over-4:20 push, ending with a languid percussion-laced jam on a long fade as it moves farther into the great far out.

Acrimony‘s legend, like that of a lot of heavy rock from their era — see also the aforementioned Kyuss — would grow in their absence. They put out Tumuli Shroomaroom in ’97 and had done The Acid Elephant EP before that in 1995 and a split with Iron Rainbow in 1996, but their last recording session was in 1999 for tracks that would later see release in 2003 on a split with Church of Misery and they were long since done by then. Lee Davies would go on to play in Lifer, but the rest of the lineup was quiet until coming together in 2009 as Sigiriya, a four-piece with Walters, O’Hara, Bidmead and Ivey. They released their debut, Return to Earth (review here), in 2011 and would lose Walters afterward, bringing in Matt Williams from Suns of Thunder for 2014’s Darkness Died Today (review here; also discussed here). Ivey would also depart in 2015 and the band brought in Rhys David Miles on drums and they’ve continued to play locally in Swansea and around the UK, doing fests and support slots as well as the occasional short run of tour dates — they were out with the reformed Iron Monkey twice last year.

According to their social media, Sigiriya, now with O’Hara and Bidmead as the connection to Acrimony have a third album they’re putting the finishing touches on, so it may well be that they’re heard from later in 2019. Here’s hoping. However that might come together, Acrimony‘s stoner-is-as-stoner-does heavy rock legacy continues to be a standout from the United Kingdom, and though in current music culture it’s almost too easy to neglect anything that isn’t punching you in the face with streaming videos capturing every fart at every rehearsal, Hymns to the Stone is a reminder of the roots from which what we think of modern heavy has grown out from over the last two and a half decades.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Yesterday was amazing, thank you. Incredibly heartening and reinforcing. It felt like what I imagine birthdays probably feel like to most people. Thank you.

If you didn’t catch it, Shy Kennedy from Blackseed Design’s t-shirt for The Obelisk went up earlier this week at Dropout Merch. It’s awesome and I call it ‘Doom on the Moon,’ which is fun because I enjoy a slant rhyme as much as the next guy.

See it here: https://www.dropoutmerch.com/the-obelisk

Next week is busy. They’re all busy. Did you know I’ve got the Quarterly Review for March booked already? I might push it up and do five this year. I’m not sure I’d be able to call it Quarterly so much as Everynowandagainly at that point, or Bimonthly or whatever, but yeah. I’m thinking about it. For all the planning out ahead of time I do, I don’t do much planning out ahead of time. Ha.

Did you catch the slant rhyme above? Good.

Let’s do some quick notes for next week. Honestly, my head’s been so deep in everything for yesterday I’ve kind of slacked on mapping it out, but there’s still some cool stuff slated. As such:

MON: Static Tension video premiere; News catchup.
TUE: The Asound album review/video premiere.
WED: BLACKWVS track premiere; Soldati video premiere.
THU: Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard review.
FRI: Open right now. Maybe Old Mexico review unless something else grabs me.

It’ll be fun either way.

This Sunday at 7PM Eastern is also the ninth episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. I need to go cut the voice breaks for it, so I’m going to wrap this up on the quick and plug in the mic and pretend to be interesting for 20 minutes or so. If you get the chance to listen: http://gimmeradio.com.

And again, thanks for all the kind words yesterday.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream and the merch at Dropout. Like such:

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Ironbird Release Second Album Persian Blade

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ironbird

Welsh heavy grunge riffers Ironbird have released their second album, Persian Blade, as a six-years-later follow-up to their 2012 debut, Songs of Spite and Ire (get it?), and they’re streaming the record in full now. It’s easy enough to read a narrative progression into the tracks, and all the more so when one factors in the artwork by bassist Gob and the series of videos they’ve unfurled in support of the tracks. You can see one for the title-cut below, and it’s pretty pro-shop Flash animation in such a way as to make me think Gob is probably a pro of some sort in the graphic arts. It’s like Samurai Jack in the desert, which of course is cool by me, along with the ’90s viibes of the songs themselves.

Here’s the release announcement, followed by the album stream and that clip. Dig it:

ironbird persian blade

‘PERSIAN BLADE’THE NEW ALBUM FROM IRONBIRD OUT FRIDAY 2ND NOVEMBER 2018

Cardiff, Wales premier stoner metal band, Ironbird return with their long awaited second album, ‘Persian Blade’ on 2nd November 2018 through False Lord Recordings. Recorded, mixed and produced by the bands guitarist Van and mastered by renowned engineer Pete Maher (Nine Inch Nails, Pixies, Jack White, Rolling Stones), ‘Persian Blade’ builds on the bands successful debut album (2012’s ‘Songs of Spite and Ire’) by displaying a more intricate and dynamic songwriting approach while also adding more colour and texture to the heavy vibes.

Steeped in sounds synonymous with 90’s stoner and grunge bands such as Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, while also being influenced by classic rock melded to progressive metal, ‘Persian Blade’ delivers thunderous tales of assassins, curses and false messiahs reflecting uncertain times. Formed in 2010 through the desire to create something unique in the genre, Ironbird were immediately thrown to the forefront of the burgeoning South Wales stoner rock scene and quickly built up a cult following on the local circuit. Their eclectic blend of hard rock and heavy metal was perfectly captured on their debut album, 2012’s ‘Songs of Spite and Ire’, which spawned the singles ‘Black Sunrise’ and ‘Assassins of the High Crag’. Gigs supporting the likes of Karma to Burn, Sigiriya and Bloody Hammers soon followed.

1 White Stork
2 The Healer
3 Persian Blade
4 Last Siren
5 Cradle of Time
6 From the Slave to the Grave
7 Circle of Sin
8 The Hunt Goes On

Ironbird are:
Eli – vocals
Van – guitars
Ad – drums
Gob – bass

Recorded, mixed and produced by VAN

Mastered by PETE MAHER

Artwork by GOB

https://www.facebook.com/Ironbird-268705858172/
https://ironbird.bandcamp.com/

Ironbird, Persian Blade (2018)

Ironbird, “Persian Blade” official video

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Lacertilia Announce Fifth Anniversary Show Set for Feb. 3

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

Cheers to Cardiff weirdos Lacertilia on hitting the five-year mark in 2018. The band, who continue to support 2016’s We’re Already Inside Your Mind, have announced an anniversary gig in their hometown on Feb. 3 with a pretty awesome poster by Antoine Defarges of Headbang Design with five as its suitable-enough theme. Also playing the show will be Cybernetic Witch Cult and The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk, who I’ll just assume are huge, since, you know, powdered milk and all.

I haven’t heard if Lacertilia have anything new in the works for this year vis a vis an album or anything like that, but anything’s possible when bands start getting down to transcending space and time and all that. When I find something out I’ll let you know. In the meantime, if you want one of those posters you gotta get to the gig, though maybe if you’re from elsewhere and you ask nicely enough on the internet they could be convinced to sell you one. Might take some arm twisting, but seems worth a shot.

Check it out:

lacertilia anniversary show

. . . . Whoah! That was a blur. When you’re zooming about playing shows all over the place time really does fly. We’ve almost hit the milestone that is 5 years of Lacertilia! And what a mad blast it’s been so far. It’s very humbling to see so many faces continually show up at our gigs and promoters booking us back for more. Thank you! To celebrate our coming of age as a 5-year-old quintet we’ve roped in one of our favourite artists Antoine over at Headbang Design to create a commemorative, hand drawn, limited edition screen print for Lacertilia, all based on themes, ideas and mysticism surrounding the number 5.

This limited edition screen print is 5 colours printed on 280g cardboard paper in A3 size (29x42cm). These will be available for purchase exclusively at the show. Any remaining prints will be go up for sale on our Bandcamp page the week after the show. Limited run of 50 prints.

Our 5th anniversary celebration will take place at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff on 03/02/2018 and we’ve compiled a monster line up to go with it. ‘Not Since The Accident’ return after a 2 year hiatus to kick things off with their brand of frenetic punk, Cardiff’s ‘The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk’ follow with enough grooves to burn out your dancing shoes and our touring buddies ‘Cybernetic Witch Cult’ will be journeying up from darkest Cornwall to bring tales of Space Travel, Wizards and Dinosaurs to a backdrop of heavy stoner riffage!

All kicks off at 6:30pm and you can buy advance tickets here: https://www.seetickets.com/event/lacertilia/clwb-ifor-bach/1179443

https://www.facebook.com/events/150512245675163/
https://www.facebook.com/LacertiliaUKBand/
https://lacertilia-uk.bandcamp.com/releases
https://twitter.com/LacertiliaUK

Lacertilia, We’re Already Inside Your Mind (2016)

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Lacertilia Premiere “Fire up the Engine of God” Video; April Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lacertilia

One does not have to wade far into Lacertilia‘s 2016 debut album, We’re Already Inside Your Mind, to find the ethic by which the record as a whole is defined. Indeed, even before the seven-minute hard-driving stretch of “The Wired and the Weird” has begun, the point of that title has been made in the percussive oddity of the preceding intro, “Inside Your Mind Part 1.” From there, the Cardiff five-piece only continue to flesh out a quirky, space-minded take on heavy rock — here and there reminding of Steak, particularly in the vocals, as I’ve noted before — and by the time they get around to “Fire up the Engine of God,” they’ve established a pretty broad sonic range, leaving the possibilities fairly open for where they might go next.

Somehow it makes sense in context that where they go is basically to ground. “Fire up the Engine of God” follows “Journey to Agartha” — by no means lacking for charge — and is about as close to pure thrust as Lacertilia get on their first album. One can hear desert rock roots in the sans-frills three-minute course, but the winding progression could just as easily be traced to Motörhead. Soon enough they’ll delve into the more spacious “Round and Round,” playing between loud/quiet trades and echoes recounting the hypnotic motion of the big wet ball we all call home, but for “Fire up the Engine of God,” it’s all verse/chorus shove and a motion set dead ahead. They’ve by then demonstrated a knack for hooks in cuts like “Tangled Up” and “Never See the Sun,” never mind the aforementioned “The Wired and the Weird,” but “Fire up the Engine of God” might be the purest display of that on We’re Already Inside Your Mind, casting off much of the atmospheric basis for other songs in favor of all-out scorch.

Lacertilia — who head out in the UK with Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters later in April (dates below) — have a new 100-copy LP pressing of We’re Already Inside Your Mind in a gatefold that can be preordered now through their Bandcamp. That info follows the clip itself, which you can see right here.

Hope you enjoy:

Lacertilia, “Fire up the Engine of God” official video

lacertilia-tour-posterMusic video for ‘Fire Up The Engine Of God” taken from Lacertilia’s debut album ‘We’re Already Inside Your Mind’ out now on Red Sun Sounds.

Filmed and edited by Mei Lewis of Mission Photographic

Album now on Black Void Vinyl in a Gatefold sleeve. Limited to 100 copies available to pre-order now at https://lacertilia-uk.bandcamp.com

Catch Lacertilia on tour with Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters in April
19/04 – Arches Venue, Coventry
20/04 – Mulbery Tavern, Sheffield
21/04 – Opium, Edinburgh
22/04 – Rebellion, Manchester
23/04 – Stag & Hounds, Bristol

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