Quarterly Review: The Atlas Moth, Across Tundras, The Wizards of Delight, Against the Grain, Our Solar System, Dommengang, Boss Keloid, Holy Smoke, Sabel, Blackwater Prophet

Posted in Reviews on April 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Quarterly-Review-Spring-2018

This is a crucial moment in any Quarterly Review. Today we hit the halfway point one way or the other. I still haven’t decided if this will be a 50- or 60-album edition; kind of playing it by ear, but either way, today’s a landmark in my mind in terms of how far to go vs. how far we’ve come. Uphill vs. downhill to some extent, but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m either half-assing it from here on out or that I don’t enjoy the challenge of reviewing 10 records in a day, one after the next, for (at least) five days in a row. I’ve always been a glutton for a bit of self-flagellation. Ha.

Alright, let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Atlas Moth, Coma Noir

the atlas moth coma noir

If one still wants to consider Chicago’s The Atlas Moth post-metal after hearing Coma Noir, at least do them the courtesy of emphasizing the “metal” part of that equation. For their debut on Prosthetic Records and fourth full-length overall, the five-piece worked with producer Sanford Parker to solidify a progressive metal sound that, whether in the harsh and weighted impact of the opening title-track or the later interplay between guitarists Stavros Giannopoulos and David Kush on screams and cleaner vocals in “Furious Gold,” seems to take cues from groups like a less manic Strapping Young Lad and a less watered-down Mastodon more than Isis or Neurosis. With prominent synth from Andrew Ragin (also guitar), and the solid roll from the rhythm section of bassist Alex Klein and drummer Mike Miczek, the band brings revitalized edge to “The Streets of Bombay,” and even on the slower, more atmospheric closer “Chloroform,” they’ve never sounded more lethal. It suits them.

The Atlas Moth on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Across Tundras, Tumbleweeds III

across tundras tumbleweeds iii

A collection of odds and ends from Across Tundras, the 10-track/52-minute Tumbleweeds III may or may not sate anyone hoping for a follow-up to 2013’s Electric Relics (review here), but it provides some curio fodder along the way to be sure, from raw opener “Final Breath over Venom Falls” to the acoustic-percussion jam “Bullet in the Butt” to the fuller roll of “Cold Ride” and later demos for “Spinning Through the Cosmic Dust,” “Hijo del Desierto,” “Stone Crazy Horse” and “The Stacked Plain,” which later became “Seasick Serenade” on Electric Relics, it’s at very least something for fans to dig into and a fascinating listen, as Across Tundras’ rambling sound is almost eerily suited to a home-recording vibe, as the “Stone Crazy Horse” demo, featuring vocalist Shannon Allie-Murphy along with frontman Tanner Olson, sounds all the more folksome as a result of its lack of production polish. Closing with Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” then, could hardly be more appropriate. Still waiting for a proper long-player to surface, but happy at this point to take what comes.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

The Wizards of Delight, The Wizards of Delight

the wizards of delight the wizards of delight

Like a chicanery-laced dusty vinyl with a naked lady on the cover, The Wizards of Delight emerge from the London underground to solidly declare “We’ve got the rock ‘n’ rollz.” And yes, they spell it with a ‘z.’ The presence of frontman Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen will be familiar to anyone who ever even briefly encountered Groan – dude makes an impression, to be sure – and the four tracks he and the surrounding five-piece of guitarists/backing vocalists Dan Green’s Myth and Lenny Ray, bassist/backing vocalist Eponymous, organist/backing vocalist Henry and drummer Reece bring is both funky and classically heavy, “Gypsy” referencing Dio Sabbath in the first line while “Mountain Woman” brings a heavy ‘70s shuffle to answer the way-un-P.C. “Shogun Messiah,” which seems to be working under the thesis that because it sounds like it’s from 40 years ago, they can get away with it. I’ll give them that the track is, to an unfortunate degree, catchy. As to the rest, give me the groove of “We Got the Rock ‘n’ Rollz” any day. It’s been a while since anyone so brazenly interpreted Mk. II Deep Purple and actually pulled it off.

The Wizards of Delight on Thee Facebooks

APF Records website

 

Against the Grain, Cheated Death

against the grain cheated death

Hard-touring Detroit heavy rockers Against the Grain are known for speed, and rightly so. When they burst into high gear, as on “Sacrifice,” “No Sleep,” “Last Chance,” “Rolling Stone,” “Enough’s Not Enough,” and “Jaded and Faded” from their latest offering and Ripple Music debut, Cheated Death. The follow-up to 2015’s Road Warriors (review here) sees them no less infectious in their live energy, but it’s hard to ignore the more versatile approach that seems to be growing in their sound, from the classic rocking “Smoke” to the near-centerpiece “Devils and Angels” which ballads-out its boozy regrets before entering into an effective mid-paced build that rounds out in choice dual-soloing. Likewise, though they open at a good clip with the title-track, closer “Into the Light” finds a middle ground between thrust and groove. The truth is Against the Grain have never been just about speed, but they’ve never so directly benefited from a dynamic approach as they do on Cheated Death either.

Against the Grain on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Our Solar System, Origins

our solar system origins

Immediate kudos to Stockholm-based psychedelic progressive explorers Our Solar System – aka Vårt Solsystem – for opening their third full-length for Beyond Beyond is Beyond, the five-track/41-minute Origins, with the side-consuming 21-minute “Vulkanen.” One could hardly ask for more effective immersion in the band’s world of patiently unfurled, languid psychedelia, and with the accompaniment of “Babalon Rising,” the jazz-prog tracklist centerpiece “En Bit Av Det Tredje Klotet,” the birdsong-laced “Naturligt Samspel” and the semi-freaked-out melodic wash of “Monte Verita” on side B, a full, rich, and mind-expanding cosmos is engaged, free of restriction even as it remains thoroughly lysergic, and adherent to no structural will so much as the will to adventure into the unknown, to find out where one progression leads. As regards the long- and short-form material on Origins, it leads far, far out, and if you don’t come out the other side wanting to own everything the band has ever released, you’re decidedly in the wrong.

Our Solar System on Thee Facebooks

Beyond Beyond is Beyond website

 

Dommengang, Love Jail

dommengang love jail

Once calling Brooklyn Home, Los Angeles trio Dommengang waste no time in getting down to the business of boogie on their second album for Thrill Jockey, Love Jail. Produced by Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), the 10-track/50-minute long-player has all the room for organ/guitar mashups, righteous West Coast vibes and easy-flowing classic heavy rock one could hope for, and in the opening salvo of “Pastel City,” “Lovely Place” and “Lone Pine,” the three-piece of guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson, bassist Brian Markham, and drummer Adam Bulgasem reaffirm mellow bluesiness as well on the title-track and dig into ‘90s-style alt bliss on the penultimate “Color out of Space.” There’s a welcoming air throughout that holds steady regardless of tempo, and in heavier moments like the second half of “I’m out Mine,” the band resonates with fuzz and noisy elements that bring just enough danger to the proceedings to keep the listener riveted. Classy, but not too classy, in other words.

Dommengang on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

Boss Keloid, Melted on the Inch

boss keloid melted on the inch

It would seem that Wigan, UK, outfit Boss Keloid — newly signed to Holy Roar Records for the release of their third LP, Melted on the Inch – internalized a few crucial lessons from their sophomore outing, 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm (review here). At six tracks and 40 minutes, Melted on the Inch is about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor. Its title isn’t a weed pun. Its cover art conveys a work of dimensionality, and most importantly, the album itself turns to be precisely that. Taking a significant step toward a more progressive sound, Boss Keloid maintain the heft of their prior outing but base it around material that, frankly, is more complex and dynamic. I won’t say that “Tarku Shavel” and “Lokannok” are without their elements of self-indulgence, but neither should they be for the five-piece to do justice to the multifaceted nature of their purpose. They still roar when they want to, but Boss Keloid strike with breadth on Melted on the Inch as well as sheer impact.

Boss Keloid on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records website

 

Holy Smoke, Pipe Dream

holy smoke pipe dream

After forming in 2015, Philadelphia’s exclamatory Holy Smoke! issued their first three-track release, It’s a Demo! (review here) the next year and showed marked stylistic promise in cuts like “Rinse and Repeat” and “Blue Dreams.” Both of those tracks, as it happens, stand at the opening of the band’s latest EP, the five-song Pipe Dream, and reaffirm the potential in the group. The opener (also the longest track once again; immediate points) is a tale of workaday redundancy, the very sort of monotony that the rest of the offering seems to leave behind in favor of post-grunge heavy rock, marked by the wah-bass on finale “Asch Backwards” and the brooding sensibility of the prior “Golden Retriever,” which surges in its midsection like a lost Alice in Chains demo only to end quiet once again, a departure from the linearity of centerpiece “Missing the Mark” just before. Less psychedelic than their initial impression conveyed, they seem to have undertaken the work of crafting their own sonic niche in Philly’s increasingly crowded scene, and there’s nothing on Pipe Dream to make one think it’s not a realistic possibility they’ll get there.

Holy Smoke on Thee Facebooks

Holy Smoke on Bandcamp

 

Sabel, Re-Generation

sabel re-generation

Sabel know what they want to be and then are that thing. Their third album, Re-Generation, arrives via Oak Island Records as six tracks of to-the-converted stonerism, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “In the Walls of Eryx,” the Swedish trio do little more than ask their listeners to smell the smoke emanating from their speaker cabinets (oddly sweet), and hone walls of fuzz that each seem to be bigger than the last. There are some elements of earliest Electric Wizard at play in “Atlantean” or the sneering “Voodoo Woman,” but belters like “Interstellar Minddweller” and “Green Priestess” stave off their sounding overly derivative, and though at the end of Re-Generation’s 42-minute run, one might feel as though they need a shower, the record itself proves well worth the dive into the muck. The band would seem to have carved their own descriptor with the title of their self-released 2015 LP, Hard Doom, and that’s as good as anything I could come up with, so let’s roll with it. They seem to.

Sabel on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Blackwater Prophet, As I Watch it Freeze

blackwater prophet as i watch it freeze

Cheers to Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment for putting me onto Spokane, Washington’s Blackwater Prophet, who with the seven-track As I Watch it Freeze collect various tracks recorded between 2015 and 2017. Thus something of a compilation, the 40-minute outing wants nothing for overarching flow, “In My Passing Time” leading off with a mellow psych-blues spirit that only grows more classic-feeling through “House of Stone” and the gorgeously pastoral “The Swamp.” The band have two proper full-lengths out, and if they wanted to count As I Watch it Freeze as their third, I don’t think they’d find much argument, as centerpiece “Gold in the Palm” opens like a gateway leading to the increasingly resonant “Careworn Crow,” the fuzzy swing of “Eating the Sun” and finally, the title-track itself, which answers the acoustics of “The Swamp” earlier while adding flourish of volume-swelling and swirling electric guitar and late choral vocals that only make the proceedings seem all the more complete in their engagement.

Blackwater Prophet on Thee Facebooks

Blackwater Prophet on Bandcamp

 

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Year of the Cobra Touring Europe with Toke; Playing Freak Valley and More

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

year of the cobra

So hey, Seattle duo Year of the Cobra had a limited single go up for presale this past week over at H42 Records. Think maybe you’d like to purchase such a thing? Gone. Gone, gone, goneski. They made 220 of them and there they go.

Maybe the band will have some held back for the merch table on their European tour with Toke, which includes a previously-announced stop at Freak Valley as well as other stops in Germany, Norway, the UK, Denmark, and so on. It’s not Year of the Cobra‘s first European tour, and it’s not their first limited 7″ through H42 Records, but hell, if you’ve got a thing that works, run with it.

And if you’ve got a jones for some Year of the Cobra vinyl, their Burn Your Dead EP (review here) is available on repress from Magnetic Eye. You can also stream it at the bottom of this post.

Info from the PR wire:

year of the cobra toke tour poster

You’ve probably heard that Year of the Cobra will be back in Europe in May 2018 (with co headliner Toke) and will also be part of the honorable FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL.

Of course, Jon and Amy have something special for you in their luggage: a cool little vinyl 7″ with 45rpm ‘The Descent’ on side A and an exclusive screen print on side B!

The single will be available on tour and from H42 Records. There will be only 220 copies in total so do not oversleep! We have decided to offer you a small part of the singles in advance, so that even those have a chance to get one who have no opportunity to attend a concert on tour.

You have the agony of choice between 4 different editions:
100x clear vinyl with orange screen-print
50x white vinyl with black screen-print
50x black vinyl with orange screen-print
20x special edt. with whitelabel and ‘suprise colored screen-print and alternative cover-art

YEAR OF THE COBRA European tour dates w/ Toke:
5/10/18: Copenhagen, DK @ Stengade
5/11/18: Oslo, NO @ Krosset
5/12/18: Malmo, SE @ Plan B
5/13/18: Kiel, DE @ Kieler Schaubude
5/15/18: Berlin, DE @ Zukunft
5/16/18: Slavonice, CH @ barak
5/17/18: Warsaw PL @ Hydrozagadka
5/18/18: Gdansk PL @ Protokultura
5/19/18: Wroclaw PL @ Ciemna Strona Miasta
5/20/18: Wien, AT @ Venster99
5/21/18: Salzburg, AT @ Rockhouse
5/22/18: Dresden DE @ Ostpol
5/23/18: Bregenz AT @ Between
5/24/18: Freiburg DE @ White Rabbit
5/25/18: Olten CH @ Le coq D’Or
5/26/18: Paris, FR @ L’international
5/27/18: Bristol, UK @ The Old England
5/28/18: London UK @ The Black Heart
5/29/18: Lille France @ TBA
5/30/18: Strasbourg, FR @ Molodoï
5/31/18: Wurzburg, DK @ Immerhin
6/1/18: Utrecht NL @ Db’s
6/2/18: Netphen, DE @ Freak Valley Festival

http://yearofthecobra.com
https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.merhq.net/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords/
http://merhqradio.net/
stbrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://stbrecords.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/STB-Records/471228012921184

Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead (2017)

Year of the Cobra, …In the Shadows Below (2016)

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Mos Generator Set May 18 Release for Shadowlands; Album Details Announced; Touring in April & May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

So anyway, yes, I’ve already put Adam Burke‘s cover for the new Mos Generator record, Shadowlands, on my list of 2018’s best artwork. It’s got a spot. I pretty much reserve a place for Burke on that list anyway, since he seems to so constantly feature there. Sure enough, his piece for Shadowlands looks like a D&D poster I’d want to hang on my bedroom wall — I was going to say “as a kid,” but screw it, I’d hang that shit now. Look at it. It’s awesome.

And though this is usually the part where I’d pretend I haven’t yet heard Shadowlands itself, that’s awesome too. Mos Generator being Mos Generator, delivering uncompromised heavy rock with a classic edge, progressive flourish, and songwriting to stand up to any you might put next to it. That’s who they are. That’s what they do.

Well, that and touring anyway. They head out with Fu Manchu in May and have some headlining shows before. The PR wire tells all:

mos generator shadowlands

MOS GENERATOR: Washington Heavy Rock Trio To Release Shadowlands Full-Length Via Listenable Records This May; Live Dates With Fu Manchu Confirmed

Long-running Washington-based heavy rock trio MOS GENERATOR will release a new full-length this May via Listenable Records. Titled Shadowlands, the eight-track studio offering was recorded in three sessions — June 2017, November 2017, and January 2018 — at the HeavyHead Recording Company in Port Orchard, Washington and comes swathed in the cover art of Adam Burke [Pilgrim, Satan’s Satyrs, Hooded Menace, Artificial Brain et al].

“Right from the opening song, Shadowlands is a record that, to me, feels more honest than our previous releases,” relays founding guitarist/vocalist/principal songwriter Tony Reed. “On this record, I introduce many other styles that I enjoy but they are intertwined so subtly that it doesn’t interrupt the classic MOS GENERATOR sound. That is a balance I’ve been looking for over the last few albums and I think the presence of [drummer] Jon Garrett and [bassist] Sean Booth have a lot to do with achieving that balance. It’s a heavy rock record that breaths and if I had to describe it further I would say it mixes ’70s style heavy rock, progressive rock, and also has some weird ’80s and ’90s underground rock nuances.”

Shadowlands will see release via Listenable Records in Europe on May 11th followed by a US street date of May 18th with preorder info to be announced in the coming weeks.

Shadowlands Track Listing:
1. Shadowlands
2. The Destroyer
3. Drowning In Your Loving Cup
4. Stolen Ages
5. Gamma Hydra
6. The Blasting Concept
7. Woman Song
8. The Wild & Gentle Dogs

In advance of the release of Shadowlands, MOS GENERATOR will take on a month-long, cross country US tour. Set to commence on April 20th, the Road Rats Tour 2018 will run through May 26th and includes sixteen dates supporting Fu Manchu! See all confirmed shows below.

MOS GENERATOR:
4/20/2018 Hogfish – Couer d’Alene, ID
4/21/2018 Rocky Mountain Riff Fest – Kalispell, MT
4/25/2018 The Valley – Tacoma, WA
4/26/2018 The Haul – Grants Pass, OR
4/27/2018 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA
4/28/2018 Dive Bar – Las Vegas, NV
4/29/2018 Alex’s Bar – Long Beach, CA
4/30/2018 The Kraken – Cardiff, CA
w/ Fu Manchu:
5/01/2018 Rebel Lounge – Phoenix, AZ
5/03/2018 Curtain Club – Dallas, TX
5/04/2018 Barracuda – Austin, TX
5/05/2018 White Oak Music Hall – Houston, TX
5/07/2018 Vinyl – Atlanta, GA
5/08/2018 Kings – Raleigh, NC
5/09/2018 Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington, DC
5/10/2018 Brillobox – Pittsburgh, PA *
5/11/2018 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
5/12/2018 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
5/13/2018 Brighton Music Hall – Allston, MA
5/14/2018 Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY *
5/15/2018 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH
5/16/2018 Ace Of Cups – Columbus, OH
5/17/2018 El Club – Detroit, MI
5/18/2018 The Baby G – Toronto, ON *
5/19/2018 Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
5/20/2018 Total Drag Records – Sioux Falls, SD *
5/22/2018 Streets of London Pub – Denver, CO
5/23/2018 Streets of London Pub – Denver, CO
5/25/2018 Substation – Seattle, WA*
5/26/2018 The Manette – Bremerton, WA *
** MOS GENERATOR only

https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator
http://heavyheadsuperstore.storenvy.com/
http://www.shop-listenable.net/fr/47_mos-generator

Mos Generator, Live in Glasgow, Scotland, Oct. 3, 2017

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Dylan Carlson to Release Conquistador April 27; New Song Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dylan carlson

I’m sure it’ll be a sleeper hit, but there’s an entire swath of the population to whom Dylan Carlson‘s Conquistador is going to prove utterly essential, and those lucky devils have probably already stopped reading and made their way to the bottom of this post to check out the tour dates with Sleep and the new track “Scorpions in Their Mouths,” which is streaming now in all its guitar-droney goodness.

Interesting to note that Carlson, who of course is best known as the founding guitarist of pioneering atmospheric instrumentalists Earth, is using his own name for Conquistador, rather than the solo moniker drcarlsonalbion that has been his go-to over the course of the last few years. That, coupled with the fact that Carlson‘s wife, Holly Carlson is the cover model for the record — she may have taken that picture as well, I don’t know; the one of Carlson at the top of this post is by her — leads one to think this is a pretty personal outing for the six-string-and-effects wizard, but somehow I doubt anything about Conquistador will be quite so up front, including its motivations.

April 27 is the release date as per the PR wire:

dylan carlson conquistador

LEGENDARY GUITARIST DYLAN CARLSON ANNOUNCES A NEW SOLO ALBUM & PREMIERES THE FIRST SINGLE

CONQUISTADOR IS DUE OUT ON THE 27TH OF APRIL VIA SARGENT HOUSE

Known first and foremost as the lynchpin of instrumental band Earth, Dylan Carlson has become one of alternative music’s most ambitious pathfinders. It seems beyond appropriate, then, that Carlson’s new solo endeavor is titled Conquistador. The five-track record channels the indulgent drone of Earth while traversing uncharted sonic terrain. Listen to the album’s first single, “Scorpions In Their Mouths”.

Carlson’s previous solo work under the moniker drcarlsonalbion has consistently veered away from Earth’s American motifs in favour of English folklore. For his first proper full-length as Dylan Carlson, the guitarist returns West. Whereas Earth has sought to score Cormac McCarthy’s examination of white settlers’ horrific campaign against Native Americans in Blood Meridian, Conquistador bypasses the intermediary narrative of a novelist. Long heralded as a master of minimalism, Carlson’s album demonstrates his ability to craft compelling symphonic compositions while exercising extreme musical frugality.

“I guess what ties this all together—all my musical projects and my life in general—is the idea of the quest, that search for new horizons and something unnamable and possibly unreachable,” Carlson says of the record.

Conquistador was recorded at God City Studios with Kurt Ballou during a weeklong break in Carlson’s 2016 solo tour of the East Coast of the US. After months of gestating the material that would eventually become Conquistador, Carlson viewed the session as an opportunity for both catharsis and collaboration, thanks to contributions from the esteemed Emma Ruth Rundle (baritone and slide guitar) and his wife Holly Carlson (percussion, photography, cover model).

Conquistador is due out via Sargent House on April 27th.

Conquistador Track Listing:
1. Conquistador
2. When The Horses Were Shorn Of Their Hooves
3. And then the Crows Descended
4. Scorpions in their Mouths
5. Reaching the Gulf

Dylan Carlson, On Tour:
Sunday, July 22 — Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
Wednesday, July 25 — Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory *
Friday, July 27 — Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel *
Saturday, July 28 — Boston, MA @ Royale *
Wednesday, August 1 — Chicago, IL @ Riviera *
* w/ SLEEP

https://twitter.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://facebook.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://instagram.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://drcarlson.bandcamp.com
https://thronesanddominions.com/dylan-carlson
http://smarturl.it/DCarlsonStore

Dylan Carlson, “Scorpions in Their Mouths”

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Zeke to Release Hellbender March 30; Three New Songs Streaming

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

zeke

Just about nobody tears it up like Zeke tears it up. They should’ve started their own line of band-branded document shredders years ago with the slogan ‘Zeke Destroys Your Shit,’ but I guess they decided to just tour like crazy and put out records instead. Anyway, point is that at any given moment the Seattle outfit stand utterly ready to kick your ass, and listening to the tracks they have posted from their forthcoming LP Hellbender, which will be out March 30 on Relapse as their first album in nearly 15 years, that doesn’t seem to have changed much.

One other thing to like about this, aside from the cover art and the massive list of tour dates and the audio itself, as if that wasn’t enough? Most bands post one track with a record announcement to give listeners a sense of what they’re getting. Zeke post three. And the YouTube clip is still only three minutes long. Fucking awesome. Zeke rule. And though I haven’t even heard it yet, you can pretty much quote me on that as a review of Hellbender.

From the PR wire:

zeke hellbender

ZEKE To Release New Album Hellbender, Their First Full-Length In Over Fourteen Years, Through Relapse; Three Songs Now Streaming

Seattle punk legends ZEKE return with their first new album in over fourteen years, titled Hellbender, set for release through Relapse Records.

Short, fast, loud, and to the fuckin’ point, Hellbender contains fifteen tracks laced with ZEKE’s signature mix of hyperspeed thrash-punk and Motörhead-possessed, hard as nails, rock ‘n’ roll. Complete with a raucous, in-your-face production by Jack Endino (Nirvana, High On Fire, The Accüsed), and completed with artwork by Hollis Tucker and Lee Goode, Hellbender is the culmination of a band twenty-five years into their career, sounding more aggressive, immediate, and turbo-charged than ever before! Ride to live…

ZEKE’s new album Hellbender is due out March 30th, 2018 on CD, LP, and digital via Relapse Records. Physical packages are available via Relapse.com HERE and Digital Downloads on Bandcamp HERE.

Additionally, ZEKE will embark on a headlining Spring European tour in support of Hellbender’s release next month. The tour commences on March 30th at Paaspop Festival in Schijndel, Netherlands and ends May 5th in Kassel, Germany. A short stint of regional dates in the Pacific Northwest will take place in the coming months as well. A full list of current confirmed tour dates is available below.

Hellbender Track Listing:
1. All The Way
2. Two Lane Blacktop
3. On The Road
4. Working Man
5. Hellbender
6. County Jail
7. Burn
8. Goin’ Down
9. White Wolf
10. AR-15
11. Cougar Rock
12. Devil’s Night
13. Ride On
14. Redline
15. Big Rig

ZEKE Tour Dates:
2/10/2018 Darrell’s – Seattle, WA
2/17/2018 Dante’s – Portland, OR
3/10/2018 Tony V – Everett, WA
3/17/2018 The Manette Saloon – Bremerton, WA
3/24/2018 El Corazon – Seattle, WA
3/30/2018 Paaspop Festival – Schijndel, NL
3/31/2018 Tower – Bremen, DE
4/01/2018 Loppen – Copenhagen, DK
4/02/2018 Frimis Salonger – Orebro, SE
4/03/2018 Bar Brooklyn – Stockholm, SE
4/04/2018 Krosset – Oslo, NO
4/06/2018 Pustervik – Goteborg, SE
4/07/2018 1000Fryd – Aalborg, DK
4/08/2018 Schaubude – Kiel, DE
4/09/2018 Hafenklang – Hamburg, DE
4/11/2018 Rote Sonne – Munchen, DE
4/12/2018 Freakout Club – Bologna, IT
4/13/2018 Evol – Roma, IT
4/14/2018 The Cage – Livorno, IT
4/15/2018 Circolo Magnolia – Segrate, IT
4/16/2018 Secret Place – Montpellier, FR
4/18/2018 Rocksound – Barcelona, ES
4/19/2018 TBA – Valencia, ES
4/20/2018 Gruta 77 – Madrid, ES
4/21/2018 Jimmy Jazz – Vitoria, ES
4/22/2018 Rock’n’Eat – Lyon, FR
4/24/2018 Bi Nuu – Berlin, DE
4/25/2018 Don’t Panic – Essen, DE
4/26/2018 Helios 37 – Koln, DE
4/27/2018 Pitfest – Erica, NL
4/28/2018 Stockrock – Hagen a.T.W., DE
4/29/2018 De Helling – Utrecht, NL
4/30/2018 Nostra – Opwijk, BE
5/01/2018 The Thekla – Bristol, UK
5/02/2018 Rebellion Club – Manchester, UK
5/03/2018 The Rescue Rooms – Nottingham, UK
5/04/2018 Desertfest – London, UK
5/05/2018 K-19 – Kassel, DE

ZEKE:
“Blind” Marky Felchtone – lead guitar/vocals
Kurt Kilfelt – pure hate/disorder
Dayne Porras – drums
Kyle Whitefoot – guitar

https://www.facebook.com/ZekeBand
https://www.instagram.com/ZekeBand
https://www.twitter.com/ZekeBand
http://zekeband.bandcamp.com
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
http://www.twitter.com/RelapseRecords
https://www.instagram.com/relapserecords

Zeke, “Working Man/Hellbender/County Jail”

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Mos Generator Announce US Tour with Fu Manchu; New Album Update

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mos generator

After hitting the road together last Fall, SoCal fuzz lords Fu Manchu and Port Orchard, Washington, heavy rock specialists Mos Generator are teaming up once again, this time to crisscross the entire country in Spring. Mos Generator will begin the run a few days early and include a stop at Rocky Mountain Riff Fest on April 21, and then it’s down the Pacific Coast, across the South, up to the Northeast and back through the Midwest to finish in their native Washington. Well, you knew they’d be up to plenty this year.

Back in October, founding Mos Generator guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed talked about the recording plans for the band’s next album for Listenable RecordsShadowlands. In addition to putting together the massive swath of live appearances, it seems progress has been continuing on that front as well. Below, Reed gives an update on where they’re at with the record and more.

Dig it:

mos generator fu manchu tour

2018 is already shaping up to be a great year for us. We just got done with the final writing / recording sessions for our next album “Shadowlands” and I’m in the process of sorting through the material and deciding what will be included on the album. We had the whole record in order last year and then we went out on the road for 7 weeks and decided we needed to re evaluate the kind of record we were making.

We ended up with something that had more energy than the initial tracks we thought would make up the album. It is also a more diverse album than I had envisioned. I think is due to the presence of Jono & Sean. This is the first album where it is just the three of us.

On Abyssinia, most of the songs were already written when they joined and half the songs either had me or original drummer shawn Johnson on drums. As it’s looking now I would say “Shadowlands” is a Heavy / Pop / Prog album. I’ve seemed to come to grips with my 22 year old self as well and I’m letting in songwriting styles that I have kept at bay for many years. It’s exciting.

Along with record making, we have been once again blessed in the touring department. We had a great time on the west coast with Fu Manchu last November and now we get to do an extended U.S. run with them, including many cities we’ve never been to. After that we are off tour Europe (details are in the works) and then back to the states for some shows in the fall including the Descendants of Crom and Doomed & Stoned festivals. There are still some cool announcements coming and more free music that we will be posting soon.

4/20 – Couer d’Alene ID – Hogfish
4/21 – Kalispell MT – Rocky Mountain Riff Fest
4/25 – Tacoma WA – The Valley
4/26 – Grants Pass OR – The Haul
4/27 – San Francisco CA – Thee Parkside
4/28 – Las Vegas NV – Dive Bar
4/29 – Long Beach CA – Alex’s Bar

On Tour with FU MANCHU*
5/01 – Phoenix AZ – Rebel Lounge*
5/02 – Albuquerque – NM
5/03 – Dallas TX – Curtain Club*
5/04 – Austin TX – Barracuda*
5/05 – Houston TX – White Oak Music Hall*
5/07 – Atlanta GA – Vinyl*
5/08 – Raleigh NC – Kings*
5/09 – Washington DC – Rock & Roll Hotel*
5/10 – Pittsburgh PA – Brillobox
5/11 – Philadelphia PA – Underground Arts*
5/12 – New York – Bowery Ballroom*
5/13 – Boston MA – Brighton Music Hall*
5/14 – Buffalo NY – Mohawk Place
5/15 – Cleveland OH – Grog Shop*
5/16 – Columbus OH – Ace of Cups*
5/17 – Detroit MI – El Club*
5/18 – Toronto ON – The Baby G
5/19 – Chicago IL – Bottom Lounge*
5/20 – Sioux Falls SD – Total Drag Records
5/22 – Denver CO – Streets of London Pub*
5/23 – Denver CO – Streets of London Pub*
5/25 – Seattle WA – Substation
5/26 – Bremerton WA – The Manette

Mos Generator is:
Tony Reed: Guitar and Mellotron
Jono Garrett: Drums
Sean Booth: Bass

https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/track/the-dance-of-red-a-the-dance-of-maya-b-red
https://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator
http://heavyheadsuperstore.storenvy.com/
http://www.shop-listenable.net/fr/47_mos-generator

Mos Generator, The Dance of Red (2017)

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Quarterly Review: Gruntruck, The Dead Ends, Albatross Overdrive, High Priestess, Monolith Cult, Kayleth & Favequaid, Black Wail, Psychic Lemon, Ixion, Rattlesnake

Posted in Reviews on January 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Day Three of the Quarterly Review! I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling great. Plowing through, hearing a ton of good stuff. The week is rolling and though it’s most definitely caused me to be a neglectful husband and father for the last 72 hours (so far!), at very least the music is killer. That’s something, right? I didn’t really have a theme in picking today’s batch, but there are some commonalities between some of the inclusions all the same. See if you can find them, like one of those old puzzles in a Highlights magazine in your orthodontist’s wood-paneled office. Ready? Okay, let’s go.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Gruntruck, Gruntruck

gruntruck-gruntruck

Held back due to legal issues with their original label, Roadrunner, the self-titled third album from Seattle groove-grungers Gruntruck hits like an open time-capsule nearly two decades after the fact of its recording: a little dusty but full of vitality and potential for what could’ve been. With a tad more crunch than the likes of Soundgarden and a crunch less TAD than TAD, Gruntruck found a middle-space between the melodies of their age and scene and heavier impulses, and if songs like “Trip,” the post-Nirvana “Build a Hole,” and the later “Spy” sound dated, well, they should. They are dated. It’s an album that was recorded over 20 years ago. That does nothing to take away from the quality of the songwriting, however, as closer “Flang” shows by demonstrating how thin the line between grunge and heavy rock has always been in the first place, let alone how fluidly Gruntruck were able to cross from one side to the other.

Gruntruck on Thee Facebooks

Found Recordings website

 

The Dead Ends, Deeper the Dark the Brighter We Shine

the-dead-ends-deeper-the-dark-the-brighter-we-shine

This warm and psychedelically charmed debut from Kavala, Greece’s The Dead Ends works quickly to deliver its cumbersome title-line in opener “Memory Ship (Sails at Dawn)” amid a build of organ-laced Doors-style drama, but the overarching spirit of the Sound Effect Records release is nonetheless patient and fluid. The keyboard work of vocalist Giorgos Sechlidis proves to be a major standout factor on the playful “Narri-E Narri-O” as rhythms and melodic elements out of Greek folk rear their head, and as guitarist Serios Savvaidis and drummer Dimitris Apostolidis provide vocal support throughout, the nine tracks of Deeper the Dark, the Brighter We Shine envelop with a depth that corresponds to their outward reach, still based around pop structures practically and conceptually, but feeling open and resolved to remain that way all the same. The jangly “Peter 2:18” closes out by building into a melodic wash, as if to underscore the potential within this exciting outfit’s budding stylistic nuance.

The Dead Ends on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

Albatross Overdrive, Keep it Running

albatross-overdrive-keep-it-running

Issued in 2016, Albatross Overdrive’s second full-length pulls together a sans-pretense 31 minutes of barroom-style heavy rock born of the California desert but not necessarily indebted solely to its aesthetic so much as to boozy swing and chug and meaner, engine-revving impulses. “Fire Dancer” and “Higher” make impressions early with catchy choruses and hard-delivered riffs, a touch of metal to the latter particularly, and the later “Preaching Love Not War” boasts a highlight performance from bassist Mark Abshire, formerly of Fu Manchu, while gritty vocalist Art Campos leads the five-piece – completed by guitarists Andrew Luddy and Derek Phillips and drummer Rodney Peralta – through the grunge-chug of “Earth Mother,” recalling Alice in Chains’ “Again” in its cadence momentarily, though ultimately driven along its own course, headed into closer “Neva,” which finishes the album in top form just as it might cap a raucous live set on any given and much-improved Friday evening.

Albatross Overdrive on Thee Facebooks

Albatross Overdrive website

 

High Priestess, Demo

high-priestess-demo

Los Angeles trio High Priestess were recently snagged by Ripple Music for the release of their impending debut album this year, and on the strength of this five-track demo, one could hardly argue. Tonally rich, perfectly paced in its rollout, melodically centered and meditative with surprising flashes of metallic noise, cuts like 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Firefly” offer psychedelic immersion and a sense of worldmaking rare in a band’s first long-player, let alone their initial demo. Weighted low end gives Demo an earthy sensibility, and there’s definitely a desert-style aspect to “Take the Blame” and “Mother Forgive Me,” but the intertwining vocal melodies of guitarist/organist Katie Gilchrest and bassist Mariana Fiel atop Megan Mullins’ drums provide a spaciousness well across the line of transcendent into ethereal psychedelia. Likewise, after the salvo of “Firefly” and its nine-minute companion “Despise,” the peaceful, organ-laced closer “Earth Dive” draws emphasis on sonic diversity with its patient build and underlying command. Especially as demos go, High Priestess’ is dangerously coherent.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

High Priestess on Instagram

 

Monolith Cult, Gospel of Despair

monolith-cult-gospel-of-despair

From the first listen onward, the hardest thing about putting on Monolith Cult’s second full-length, Gospel of Despair, is actually letting the seven tracks play without constantly interrupting them by saying “hell yes.” Whether it’s the hook of opener “Disconnection Syndrome,” the subsequent plod of the title-track that follows, the massive slowdown that hits about a minute into “Sympathy for the Living” as it moves into its chorus, or the Candlemassian finale chug and stomp of “Death Means Nothing,” the Bradford, UK, five-piece’s follow-up to their 2013 debut, Run from the Light (review here), dwells in similar terrain between righteous classic metal and doom as Cruz del Sur denizens Argus, and the band are likewise firm in their purposes and assured in their delivery. “King of all that’s Lost” feels exceptionally weighted in its impact, but set next to the faster motion in the first half of the penultimate “Complicit in Your Abuse,” it feeds into an overarching flow and sense of leather-on-fistpump-or-headbang-take-your-pick-ready audience response. Hell yes? Oh, hell yes.

Monolith Cult on Thee Facebooks

Transcending Records

 

Kayleth & Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Six

kayleth-favequaid-second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-six

In bringing together Verona’s Kayleth and Palermo’s Favequaid, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Six works more on a direct theme than some of the other installments in the impressive and impactful series from Ripple Music. But if there’s a particularly nation’s scene worth highlighting in the heavy rock underground, the emergent riffy movement in Italy makes a riotous case for itself as Favequaid bull-in-a-china-shop their way through the nine-minute “Hypochondria” on side B or Kayleth unfold the highlight nod and melody of “The Survivor” earlier, hitting a mark of spatial weight that’s as much about its crash as reach. Starting with the atmospheric pulse of “Desert Caravan” and following up “The Survivor” with the melodic push of “Magnetar,” Kayleth come across as the more progressive of the two outfits, but with the brash finale of “First” rounding out, Favequaid help put emphasis on the underrated diversity within Italian heavy rock on the whole, and maybe that was the idea in the first place.

Kayleth on Thee Facebooks

Favequaid on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Wail, Chromium Homes

black-wail-chromium-homes

Though it gradually comes to life around an intro of Hendrixian noodling at the start of “They,” its opener and longest track (immediate points), the third EP from New Jersey’s Black Wail, Chromium Homes, isn’t through that same song before a decidedly Dio-esque “lookout!” is tossed into the pot. Abrasive, sludgy screaming follows. So yeah, it gets weird pretty quick, but that turns out to be the fun of the 27-minute six-tracker, since it just as easily digs back into languid wah-led groove or lets its keyboards flesh out classic heavy rocking melodies. “Thee Ghost” chugs metallic before stepping back to a harmonized a capella midsection and swinging to its finish, and the title-track basks in heavy blues rock like nothing ever happened – the perfect setup for the nastier “The Dead Man’s Hand,” and weirdo bounce-into-punk-thrust of “Radioactive Mutation” that follow. And because why the hell not: a closing doomed-out cover of “Norwegian Wood.” Somehow that was the only thing missing. Black Wail are getting strange and daring you to do the same. If you think you’re up for it, maybe you are.

Black Wail on Bandcamp

Rhyme and Reason Records

 

Psychic Lemon, Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay

Psychic-Lemon-Frequency-Rhythm-Distortion-Delay

Prepare for spacedelic immersion. Somewhere there’s a countdown happening and waiting on the other end of it is Psychic Lemon’s sophomore LP, Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, the title of which reads like the recipe from which its five tracks have been constructed. The 41-minute sprawler from the London-based trio sets itself to the task of atmospheric breakout with 8:31 opener “Exit to the Death Lane,” and while it’s hard not to be drawn immediately to a track called “International Fuzz Star” – let alone one that’s almost 10 minutes long – one skips the cosmic-grunge shuffle of “Hey Droog!” and the sped-up Sonic Youthism of centerpiece “You’re No Good” at one’s own peril. They tease tension in the kick drum but ultimately end up soothing in meandering closer “Satori Disko,” but the progressive threat has been laid all the same, and it says something about their accomplishment overall that even in the final moments of Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, one can’t be certain where Psychic Lemon might be headed next.

Psychic Lemon on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records webstore

 

Ixion, Return

ixion return

Brittany, France-based Ixion is a project spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist/growler/recording engineer/cover artist Julien Prat, and Return (on Finisterian Dead End) is the band’s third full-length. With clean vocals contributed by Yannick Dilly (who also mixed), it captures a contemplative and majestic balance of hope and sorrow, woeful in its extremity but bright-toned in its sprawling lead guitar figures in pieces like “Into Her Light” and the later “Stranger.” This meld fascinates throughout the nine-song/47-minute run, but it’s the poise of execution of all these ideas that make cuts like “Back Home” and the electronics-infused “Contact” stand out and recall some of the best moments of mid-period Katatonia, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Out of the Dark” onward, Return makes plain its self-awareness and resilience in capturing its formidable stylistic intention in the reality of the recording. It is a true work of beauty-in-darkness and affecting in both its scope and raw emotionalism.

Ixion on Thee Facebooks

Finisterian Dead End website

 

Rattlesnake, Outlaw Boogie

rattlesnake outlaw boogie

It’s just three songs, but Rattlesnake’s debut demo, Outlaw Boogie (also discussed here), was enough of an aesthetic mission statement all the same to wind up on my list of 2017’s best short releases, and with the swing and swagger provided by drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney of The Golden Grass, the classic-style riffing of guitarists Blake Charlton (Ramming Speed) and JP Gilbert (also vocals) and the wah bass Don Berger brings to “The Reason Why,” well, the reason why is frickin’ obvious. The New York-based newcomers capture a bright ‘70s vibe not dissimilar from The Golden Grass’ self-titled debut, but less serene and more urgent, more charged in its purposes on the whole, and dudelier in that okay-now-it’s-time-to-grow-a-mustache kind of way. Unsurprisingly, Outlaw Boogie is almost maddeningly catchy and cohesive and clear in its direction and intent, and the band seem to arrive in their conceptual foundation ready to move forward onto the next stage of their development. The only reason I call the three-tracker a demo at all and not an EP is because the band does. Otherwise there’s very little about it that doesn’t already denote it as a professional-grade work.

Rattlesnake on Thee Facebooks

In for the Kill Records webstore

 

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Quarterly Review: Wolves in the Throne Room, Gravy Jones, Marmora, Mouth, Les Lekin, Leather Lung, Torso, Jim Healey, Daxma, The Re-Stoned

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review continues today with day two of five. I don’t mind telling you — in fact I’m pretty happy to tell you — that this one’s all over the place. Black metal, post-metal, singer-songwriter stuff, psych jams, heavy rock. I feel like I’ve had to go to great pains not to use the word “weird” like 17 times. But I guess that’s what’s doing it for me these days. The universe has plenty of riffs. All the better when they start doing something different or new or even just a little strange. I think, anyhow. Alright, enough lollygagging. Time to dive in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven

wolves in the throne room thrice woven

True, it’s something of a cliché when it comes to Wolves in the Throne Room to think of their work as “an awaited return,” and perhaps that speaks to the level of anticipation with which their outings are greeted generally. Nonetheless, Thrice Woven arrives via the band’s own Artemisia Records six years after Celestial Lineage, their last proper full-length, and three after its companion, Celestite (review here), so the five-track/42-minute offering from the USBM innovators is legitimately due. The Washington-based troupe’s black-metal-of-the-land remains heavily focused on atmosphere, with a sharp, experimental-feeling turn to ambience and melody in opener “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” and the later drone interlude “Mother Owl, Father Ocean” that precedes the rampaging closer “Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon,” which caps Thrice Woven with a long fade into the sound of rolling waves. Between them, “The Old Ones are with Us” casts a vision of blackened folk-doom that seems to pull off what Agalloch was always aiming for, and centerpiece “Angrboda” blasts through an early wash before splitting near the midsection to minimalism and rebuilding itself on a slow march. 15 years on from their beginning, Wolves in the Throne Room still sound like no one else, and continue to push themselves forward creatively.

Wolves in the Throne Room on Thee Facebooks

Artemisia Records on Bandcamp

 

Gravy Jones, Funeral Pyre

gravy jones funeral pyre

It’s a crazy world into which Gravy Jones invite their listeners on their self-issued debut full-length, Funeral Pyre, and the fire they bring is born of a molten classic psychedelic rock underpinned by low end weight and further distinguished by its use of organ and proto-metallic vocal proclamations. Opener and longest track (immediate points) “Heavens Bliss” tops 10 minutes in its weirdo roll, and subsequent cuts “The Burning of the Witch” and “It Came from the Sea” do little to dispel the off-center vibe, the former dug into rawer NWOBHM-ism and the latter, the centerpiece of the five-tracker, beaming in from some kind of alt-universe Deep Purple idolatry to lead into the particularly doomed “Gilgamesh” and the shuffle-into-noisefest onslaught of the closing title-track. All told it’s 41 minutes of bizarre excursion that’s deceptively cohesive and feels like the start of a longer-term sonic exploration. Whether or not Gravy Jones even out sound-wise or hold to such an unhinged vibe, they definitely pique interest here.

Gravy Jones on Thee Facebooks

Gravy Jones on Bandcamp

 

Marmora, Criterion

marmora criterion

Criterion – yes, like the collection – is the debut EP from Chicago four-piece Marmora, who released a single in 2013 before the core brotherly trio of Zaid (guitar), Alejandro (bass) and Ulysses (drums) Salazar hooked up with vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Allan Cardenas in 2015. The three-tracker that has resulted begins with its title-cut, which thrusts forth a wash of heavy post-rock that makes an impression in weight as much as space before turning to the more grounded, propulsive, aggressive and punkishly noise-caked “Apathy” and closer “Flowers in Your Garden,” which turns traditional heavy rock riffery on its head with frenetic drum work and rhythmic turns that feel born of modern progressive metal. Significant as the crunch factor and aggro pulsations are, Criterion isn’t at all without a corresponding sense of atmosphere, and though there isn’t much tying these three tracks together, for a first EP, there doesn’t need to be. Let that come later. For now, the boot to the ass is enough.

Marmora on Thee Facebooks

Marmora on Bandcamp

 

Mouth, Live ’71

mouth live 71

Perhaps in part as a holdover between their 2017 second album, Vortex (review here), and the impending Floating to be issued in 2018, German progressive retroists Mouth offer Live ’71. No, it was not actually recorded in 1971. Nor, to my knowledge, was it recorded in 2071 and sent back in time in a slingshot maneuver around the sun. It’s just a play on the raw, captured-from-the-stage sound of the 55-minute set, which opens at a 19-minute sprawl with “Vortex” itself and only deep-dives further from there, whether it’s into the keyboard throb of “Parade,” the nuanced twists of “Into the Light” or the more straightforward riffing of “On the Boat.” There’s room for all this scope and the stomp of “Master Volume Voice” in a Mouth set, it would seem, and if Live ’71 is indeed a stopgap, it’s one that shows off the individualized personality of the long-running band who seem to still be exploring even as they approach the 20-year mark.

Mouth on Thee Facebooks

Mouth on Bandcamp

 

Les Lekin, Died with Fear

les lekin died with fear

A second full-length from Austrian heavy psych trio Les Lekin, Died with Fear is perhaps more threatening in its title than in its overall aesthetic. The four inclusions on the 43-minute follow-up to 2014’s All Black Rainbow Moon (review here) set their mission not necessarily in conveying terror or some overarching sense of darkness – though low end is a major factor throughout – as in cosmic hypnosis born of repetition and chemistry-fueled heavy psychedelic progressivism. Well at home in the extended and atmospheric “Orca” (10:41), “Inert” (10:21), “Vast” (8:59) and “Morph” (13:34), the three-piece of guitarist Peter G., bassist Beat B. and drummer Kerstin W. recorded live and in so doing held fast to what feels very much like a natural and developing dynamic between them, their material all the more fluid for it but carrying more of a sense of craft than most might expect from a release that, ostensibly, is based around jams. Sweeping and switched-on in kind, Died with Fear turns out to be remarkably vibrant for something under a banner so grim.

Les Lekin on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records webstore

 

Leather Lung, Lost in Temptation

leather lung lost in temptation

Oh, they’re mad about it, to be sure. I’m not sure what ‘it’ ultimately is, but whatever, it’s got Leather Lung good and pissed off. Still, the Boston-based onslaught specialists’ debut full-length, Lost in Temptation, has more to its cacophony than sheer violence, and though that intelligence is somewhat undercut by the hey-check-it-out-it’s-cartoon-tits-and-also-because-snakes-are-like-wieners cover art, the marriage between fuckall noise intensity on “Gin and Chronic” and trades between growl-topped thrust and more open and melodic plod on “Shadow of the Scythe” and upbeat rock on “Momentum of Misfortune.” Put it in your “go figure” file that the closer “Destination: Void,” which is marked as an outro, is the longest inclusion on the 28-minute offering, but by then due pummel has been served throughout pieces like “Deaf Adder” and “Freak Flag” amid the willful stoner idolatry of “The Spice Melange,” so there’s texture in the assault as well. Yeah though, that cover. Woof.

Leather Lung on Thee Facebooks

Leather Lung on Bandcamp

 

Torso, Limbs

torso limbs

I won’t deny the strength of approach Austria’s Torso demonstrate across Limbs, their StoneFree Records debut LP, in the straightforward structures of songs like “Meaning Existence” or “Mirror of My Mind” or “Skinny and Bony” and the semi-acoustic penultimate grown-up-grunge alternarocker “Down the Highway,” but it’s hard to listen to the nine-minute spread of “Red Moon” in the midsection of the album and not come away from its patient psychedelic execution thinking of it as a highlight. Shades of post-rock and moodier fare make themselves known in “Come Closer” and the righteously melodic “Ride Up,” and closer “Voices” delivers a resounding payoff, but it’s “Red Moon” that summarizes the atmospheric and emotional scope with which Torso are working and most draws together the various elements at play into a cohesive singularity. One hopes it’s a model they’ll follow going forward, but neither should doing so necessarily draw away from the songwriting prowess they show here. It’s a balance that, having been struck, feels ready to be manipulated.

Torso on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Jim Healey, Just a Minute More

jim healey just a minute more

Companioned immediately by a digital release of the demos on which it’s based, including four other songs that didn’t make the cut of the final, studio-recorded EP, Jim Healey’s Just a Minute More conveys its sense of longing in the title and moves quickly to stake its place in a long-running canon of singer-songwriterisms. Healey, known for fronting metal and heavy rock acts like We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, Set Fire, etc., could easily come across as a case of dual personality in the sweetly, unabashedly sentimental, acoustic-based opener “The Road” or the more-plugged-in “You and I” at the outset, but in the fuzzed-out centerpiece “Swamp Thing,” the emotionally weighted memorable hook of “Faced,” and the piano-topped payoff of closer “Burn Up,” the 18-minute EP unfurls a sense of variety and a full-band sound that sets the project Jim Healey on its own course even apart from the man himself. Some of those other demos aren’t too bad either. Just saying.

Jim Healey on Thee Facebooks

Jim Healey on Bandcamp

 

Daxma, The Head Which Becomes the Skull

daxma-the-head-which-becomes-the-skull

Signed to Magnetic Eye for the release, Oakland post-metal five-piece Daxma answer the ambition of their half-hour single-song 2016 debut EP, The Nowhere of Shangri-La, with the even-fuller-length The Head Which Becomes the Skull, demonstrating a clear intent toward sonic patience and ambient reach that balances subtle builds and crashes with engaging immersiveness and nod. Three of the six total inclusions top 10 minutes, and within opener “Birth” (10:53), “Abandoning All Hope” (11:34) and the penultimate “Our Lives Will be Erased by the Shifting Sands of the Desert” (13:42), one finds significant breadth, but not to be discounted either are the roll of “Wanderings/Beneath the Sky,” the avant feel of the closing title-track or even the 80-second drone interlude “Aufheben,” which like all that surrounds it, feeds into a consuming ambience that undercuts the notion of The Head Which Becomes the Skull as a debut album for its purposefulness and evocative soundscaping.

Daxma on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Chronoclasm

the re-stoned chronoclasm

For their first new outing since they revisited their debut EP in 2016 with Reptiles Return (review here), Moscow instrumentalists The Re-Stoned cast forth Chronoclasm, a six-track long-player of new material recorded over 2015 and 2016 that ties together its near-hour-long runtime with a consistency of guitarist Ilya Lipkin’s lead tone and a steady interweaving of acoustic elements. “Human Without Body,” “Save Me Under the Emerald Glass,” “Psychedelic Soya Barbecue” and the title-track seem to have some nuance of countrified swing to their groove, but it’s lysergic swirl that ultimately rules the day throughout Chronoclasm, Yaroslav Shevchenko’s drums keeping the material grounded around Lipkin’s guitar and Vladimir Kislyakov’s bass. The trio are joined on percussion by Evgeniy Tkachev on percussion for the CD bonus track “Quartz Crystals,” which picks up from the quiet end of “Chronoclasm” itself and feels like a nine-minute improve extension of its serene mood, adding further progressive sensibility to an already wide scope.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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