Surfing couches, in and out of venues and hostels, drinking, taking in the sights of different places, driving, flying, being here and there and all over the place, seeing different people and cultural spaces, and of course, playing shows — Drone Hunter‘s new video only lasts about five minutes, but that seems to be long enough for it to encapsulate what I imagine was at least a good part of their experience on their 2016 tour. Actually, this is probably just scratching the surface, but as a broad overview, the clip matches the charm of the song title “Wine Dick” with footage of the Croatian instrumental trio on the road and it looks like they’re having a good time. Nobody shows the slog in these videos — the sitting around waiting to play, the traffic, the meals at gas stations — but as a representation of the fun they had, it’s genuinely enjoyable to watch. Vacation video. Plus riffs!
As it happens, “Wine Dick” isn’t short on the latter. Coming off the three-piece’s 2016 second album, Welcome to the Hole (review here), the track doesn’t have vocals as noted, and Drone Hunter keep the proceedings pretty straightforward in the Karma to Burn be-as-bullshit-free-as-possible tradition, but while the band jumps around between Slovenia, the Czech Republic, France, Malta, etc. — Malta looks fucking incredible — they set up a hook just the same around which the track nails down the punch of its verse. In that, it represents the album well, which keeps to similar methods while varying somewhat the level of aggression in Drone Hunter‘s delivery. Are they getting back on the road this year in Eastern Europe or beyond? I’d imagine so but haven’t heard anything as yet. When and if I do, I’ll of course let you know.
In the meantime, I’m happy to host the premiere of the “Wine Dick” video below. The band had a quick explanation of its making and origins and you’ll find that under the player, as well as the link to their Bandcamp, where of course Welcome to the Hole is streaming in full.
Drone Hunter, “Wine Dick” official video
We proudly present to you our tour video for ‘Wine Dick’. The footage was filmed throughout the year 2016 and covers our tours and journeys in Croatia, Slovenia, Switzerland, France, Germany, Czech Republic and Malta.
The whole thing was filmed and edited by ourselves in a completely DIY fashion and we’re extremely glad to share it with¨all of you. ENJOY!
I know, I know. It’s the future. These kinds of things aren’t necessarily a big deal at this point. They happen all the time. Nonetheless, a sub-two-week turnaround from show to fully-edited multi-camera video document of that same show is pretty impressive whatever time you’re living in. Especially with the holidays in there. You ever try to get anything done over the holidays? Of course you didn’t.
Drone Hunter did. The Croatian heavy noise rockers rounded out 2016 with the Dec. 17 release show for their second album, Welcome to the Hole (review here), and by Dec. 28, the clip below for “Fog Horn” was done and ready to roll. I’m sorry, but even in a world of digital editing that’s quick. And it doesn’t at all look half-assed. In fact, the show looks like it was a really good time, and no doubt that’s precisely what the Varazdin three-piece were hoping to convey.
Starts and ends with some crowd noise and views, and it would seem the house was packed at the Caffe Bar Elephant, where the clip was filmed. From start to finish of the song itself, the hometown three-piece give Welcome to the Hole solid representation with “Fog Horn,” the track offering Karma to Burn-style straightforwardness of intent with an aggressive edge that comes across as just a bit meaner on the whole. Front to back, the record plays around with that spirit somewhat, but “Fog Horn” tells much of the story, and the video does accordingly — cool gig, maximum volume, heavy riffs. Nothing wrong with that.
Enjoy “Fog Horn” below, followed by credits and links:
Drone Hunter, “Fog Horn” official live video
We proudly present our official live video for ‘Fog Horn’ off our new album ‘Welcome To The Hole’ filmed at our hometown release show at Caffe Bar Elephant in Varaždin, Croatia on Dec 17th 2016.
Directed, filmed and edited by Igor ‘Meister’ Male?i? of Meisterwerk Productions, Zagreb, Croatia. Additional footage filmed by Jurica Galekovi? of Dakkar Pictures, Varaždin, Croatia.
All music written, produced and performed by Drone Hunter. Available on Bandcamp, CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon or at our shows, both digital and physical.
We appreciate all the friends, fans, promoters, hosts and everyone who is involved with Drone Hunter in any way. You guys make this ride even more fun and rewarding than the music itself!
Posted in Reviews on December 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Feeling good going into day two of the Quarterly Review. The good news about how heavy music has become such a vast universe is that there’s always plenty to cover without having to really dig into stuff I don’t find interesting. Of course, the other side of that is feeling constantly behind the curve and overwhelmed by it all, but let’s not talk about that for the moment. Point is that as we make our way through this week and into the next — because, remember, it’s six days this time, not five — a big part of me still feels like I’m just scratching the surface of everything that’s out there. It still seems just to be a fraction of the whole story being told around the world in the riffiest of languages. We all do what we can, I guess. Let’s get started.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
Red Fang, Only Ghosts
Four albums into one of the decade’s most successful and influential heavy rock careers, doesn’t it seem like Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang are due for a truly great record? Their 2013 outing, Whales and Leeches (discussed here), was rushed by the band’s own admission – their focus, as ever, on touring – and Only Ghosts (on Relapse) unites them with producer Ross Robinson and mixer Joe Barresi, two considerable names to bring heft and presence to the 10-track/42-minute outing. And I’ve no doubt that “Shadows” and the bigger-grooving “The Smell of the Sound” and opener “Flies” kick ass when delivered from the stage, and it’s true they sound more considered with the ambience of “Flames” positioned early, but Only Ghosts still comes across like a collection of songs united mostly by the timeframe in which they were written. Doesn’t mean they don’t build on Whales and Leeches, but now five years on from 2011’s Murder the Mountains (review here), and with their dynamic, charged and momentum-driven sound firmly established, Red Fang still seem to be at the threshold of some crucial forward step rather than stomping all over it as one might hope.
After releasing a self-titled debut (review here) and the follow-up Andromeda (review here) in 2014, 2016’s Sea of Clouds (on Crispin Glover/Stickman) is the third proper studio full-length from Norway’s Black Moon Circle – though at that point, define “proper.” In 2015, the trio/four-piece – Trondheim-based guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen, plus Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective on synth – also released The Studio Jams Vol. I (discussed here) and in addition to the four tracks of Sea of Clouds, they’ve also had a Vol. II (review here) out this year. The definitions become fluid, is what I’m saying, and that couldn’t be more appropriate for the sound of “Lunar Rocket,” the outward-gazing space rock of “The Magnificent Dude,” “Moondog” and “Warp Speed,” which indeed offer enough kosmiche expanse to make one wonder where the song ends and the jam begins. Or, you know, reality. One has to wonder if Black Moon Circle might bridge the gap at some point between studio improv and more plotted songwriting, but as it stands, neither side of their dual personality fails to engage with its flow and drift.
A one-sided 12” EP issued by STB Records in late 2015 as the follow-up to Richmond dirge-fuzzer trio Druglord’s debut album, Enter Venus (review here), the three-track Deepest Regrets represents the band’s final studio material with bassist Greta Brinkman (ex-L7) in the lineup, who’s since been replaced by Julian Cook. That distinction matters in no small part because so much of Druglord’s purposes on Deepest Regrets’ three component songs – “Regret to Dismember,” “Speedballs to Hell” and “Heaven Tonight” – is about reveling in low end. Rawer than was the album preceding, they find guitarist/vocalist/organist Tommy Hamilton, Brinkman and drummer Bobby Hufnell emitting an oozing lurch, blasting out thickened motor-riffing, and fortifying a darkly psychedelic drear – in that order. True to EP form, each song gives a sampling of some of what Druglord has to offer coming off the album, and with a recording job by Garrett Morris, who also helmed the LP, it remains a fair look at where they might head next, despite the shift in lineup.
Melbourne’s Holy Serpent return with Temples (on RidingEasy), their second full-length after 2015’s self-titled debut (review here), and continue to offer an engaging blend of well-blazed psychedelia and heavier-rolling groove. Especially considering they’ve still only been a band for two years, the four-piece of guitarists Nick Donoughue and Scott Penberthy (the latter also vocals), bassist Dave Barlett and Lance Leembrugen remain striking in their cohesion of purpose, and Temples opener “Purification by Fire” and ensuing cuts like the fuzz-wall centerpiece “Toward the Sands” and echo-laden “The Black Stone” only continue to stretch their intentions toward ever more acid-ic flow. They called it “shroom doom” last time out, and seem to have moved away from that self-branding, but however one wants to label Temples, its five tracks/43 minutes push ahead from where Holy Serpent were just a year ago and, rounding out with the slower churn of “Sativan Harvest,” still reminds that mind expansion and deeply weighted tonecraft are by no means mutually exclusive.
Self-releasing Croatian instrumental trio Drone Hunter devise vigilantly straightforward riffing on their second album, Welcome to the Hole, finding room for some charm in titles like “Wine Dick,” “Crazy Ants with Shotguns” and the closing “A Burning Sensation,” the latter of which seems to draw particularly from the playbook of Karma to Burn. That comparison is almost inevitable for any riff-led/sans-vocal three-piece working in this form, but the crunch in “Fog Horn” and “Waltz of the Iron Countess” isn’t without its own personality either, and as with a host of acts from the Croatian underground, they seem to have a current of metal to their approach that, in the case of Welcome to the Hole, only makes the entire affair seem tighter and more precise while maintaining tonal presence. Fitz (guitar), Klen (bass) and Rus (drums) might not be much for words or last names, but their sophomore full-length comprises solid riffs and grooves and doesn’t seem to ask anything more than a nod from its audience. A price easily paid.
Lugweight is comprised solely of Brooklyn-via-Richmond-Virginia transplant Eric Benson, and the project makes its full-length debut with the evocatively-titled drone wash of Yesterday following one EP and preceding another. Fair to call it an experimental release, since that’s kind of the nature of the aesthetic, but Benson demonstrates a pretty clear notion of the sort of noise he’s interested in making, and there’s plenty of it on Yesterday in “Sleeping on Cocaine,” on which one can hear the undulating wavelengths emanating from speaker cones, or the penultimate “Love Song for the Insane,” which features chanting vocals in echoes cutting through a tonal morass but still somehow obscure. A 33-minute five-tracker, Yesterday doesn’t overstay its welcome, but alternates between sonic horrors and warmer immersion in the shorter centerpiece “Bleed My Sorrow” and closer “Show Me Where the Shovel Is,” coming dangerously close in the latter to doom riffing that one might almost dare to put drums to. Solo drone guitar, even when this thick, is never for everyone, but one doubts Benson was shooting for accessibility anyhow.
To hear Australia’s Megaritual tell it, the 25-minute single-song Eclipse EP was recorded on Mt. Jerusalem in New South Wales this past summer, the one-man outfit of vocalist/guitarist/sitarist/drummer Dale Paul Walker working with bassist/Monotronist Govinda Das to follow-up his prior two Mantra Music EPs, recently compiled onto an LP (review here) by White Dwarf Records. Whether or not that’s the case, “Eclipse” itself is suitably mountainous, building along a linear course from sea level to a grand peak with droning patience and gradual volume swells, lush and immersive psychedelia in slow-motion trails, a sparse verse, percussion, sitar, guitar, bass, and so on coming to a glorious vista around the 17:30 mark only to recede again circa six minutes later in a more precipitous dropoff. The digital edition (and that’s the only edition thus far) comes with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which makes good company for the hypnotic titular exploration and the quick progression it represents after the other two short releases.
Heavy psychedelic pastoralists Red Lama enter the conversation of 2016’s best debut albums with Dreams are Free, initially released on All Good Clean Records and subsequently picked up by Stickman. Leaning more toward the liquid end of psych-blues, the Danish seven-piece immediately transcend with opener “Inca” (video here) and quickly showcase a subtlety for build that only gets more potent as they move through “Sonic Revolution” and “The World is Yours,” unfolding due heft in the latter without losing the laid back sensibility that the vocals bring sweetly, melodically, to the material. The later “Mekong River” seems almost like it’s going to shoegaze itself into post-rock oblivion, but Red Lama hold their sound together even into the 10-minute closer “Dalai Delay” – aptly-titled twice over – and deliver with striking patience a languid flow with hints of underlying prog experimentation. How that will come to fruition will have to remain to be seen/heard, but Dreams are Free also dips into funkier groove on “Dar Enteha,” so while they probably could be if they were feeling lazy, Red Lama don’t at all seem to be finished growing. All the better.
Lacy is an experimental solo-project from former Lord guitarist Stephen Sullivan, based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and part of a deep sludge underground that goes back well over a decade. Andromeda is his third album with the outfit and the second to be released in 2016, though unlike the preceding Volume 2. Blue, its 12 tracks were recorded in a matter of months, not years. All instruments, arrangements, vocals and the raw recording were handled by Sullivan himself (he also took the photo on the cover) but cuts like “Gyre Hell” and the acoustic “Push Me Away” veer around self-indulgence or hyper-navelgazing – I’d call “Offal and the Goat Brains” experimental, but not narcissistic – and he seems more interested in writing songs than making a show of being outside this or that imaginary box. Still, Andromeda offers diversity of instrumentation and arrangement, unplugging once more for “Healer” before closer “Always” finishes the album as a rumbling and grunge-laden love song.
After catching on late to German metallers Valborg’s 2015 fifth album, Romantik, I told myself I wasn’t going to miss whatever they did next. The single Werwolf (on Temple of Torturous and Zeitgeister) might be a quick check-in of just two songs – “Ich Bin Total” and “Werwolf” itself – but the classic European-style death-doom chug of the latter and the vicious crash of the former I still consider a reward for keeping an eye out. “Ich Bin Total” is less than three and a half minutes long, and “Werwolf” just over five, but both feature choice chug riffing, darkened atmospherics and art-metal growls that only add to the clenched-teeth intensity of the instruments surrounding. They spare neither impact nor ambience nor lives as Werwolf plays out, the title cut riding its massive progression forward to a sensory-overload of nod before finally offering some release to the tension in a second-half guitar lead, only to revive the brutality once more, repetitions of “werwolf” chanted in growls over it. Awesome.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Meanwhile, in Croatia, crunch-riffing instrumental trio Drone Hunter get ready to play the release gigs for their second album, Welcome to the Hole. A self-release, it follows their 2013 self-titled debut and was posted for streaming on Nov. 15 ahead of the physical version, which will see its official arrival on Dec. 3 in Malta and Dec. 17 with the hometown gig in Varazdin. The three-piece have plans for European touring and video-making in Spring 2017 but will take some time off after celebrating the new outing as they round out the year. Fair enough. From where I sit, once you make a song called “Wine Dick,” you can pretty much take the rest of the year off, particularly if health issues are a concern. Paid leave for all.
Info came down the PR wire:
DRONE HUNTER (CRO) – new album, Welcome to the Hole
DRONE HUNTER have been around since spring of 2012. and have since released a self titled debut album in 2013. and have had about a hundred shows and two European tours in Croatia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
This summer we recorded a brand new album called ”Welcome To The Hole” which we self released and is available on Bandcamp, YouTube, CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon. The album contains 8 new songs and was recorded and mixed at E-Minor Studio in Varazdin, Croatia by Tomislav ‘Tompa’ Novosel which also happens to be our practice space. With all that, the artwork for the album contains photos of the building since it was written, recorded and mixed there.
Mastering was done by Igor ‘Meister’ Male?i? of Meisterwerk Productions in Zagreb, Croatia.
The album was produced by Drone Hunter and the cover, photos and design were done by Drone Hunter with the help of graphic wizard Antonio Mohenski a.k.a. MHNSK from Varazdin, Croatia.
What’s next on the Drone Hunter calendar is a live release show in Zurrieq, Malta on Dec 3rd where we were invited by Silver Tongue booking agency and then a hometown release show on Dec 17th in Varazdin at Elephant Bar. After that we will make a short break due to medical issues, and in that time we will make a live video and a tour video similar to the one for Twisted Horse Boogie from the first album. Also, we have another Euro tour planned for April 2017.