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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Wolves in the Throne Room Announce Fall Tour Dates

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

wolves in the throne room

Golly. I gotta say, to take a look at the new Wolves in the Throne Room video, and to see the upcoming tour dates they’re doing in Europe and the US to support the Sept. 22 release of their new album, Thrice Woven, through their own Artemesia Records, it sure looks like they’re positioning themselves at the forefront of American black metal. I’m sure there are purists who’d quibble with this or that clarification, but stop for a second and consider who’s better suited to the task?

Since their founding 15 years ago, haven’t Wolves in the Throne Room constantly offered an individualized, born-of-the-land take on the style that’s been both of and beyond the conventions of genre? I’d argue yes, and while I wouldn’t profess to be the be-all-end-all expert on the subject, I’d further argue that in so doing they’re the group who’ve most typified USBM’s relationship to the rest of the world’s blackened undergrounds. It is an essential function of American art to be brash, heathen and to work against rigid dogma. Wolves in the Throne Room have done and seem to be continuing to do that.

So if they’re taking their rightful place, all the better. They’ve certainly earned it.

From the PR wire:

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM TOUR

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM ANNOUNCE U.S. TOUR

Dates run from September 29 through October 25 – New album Thrice Woven out September 22nd on Artemisia

In preparation for their September 22nd release of Thrice Woven, Wolves in the Throne Room have announced an extensive U.S. tour shortly after the album’s street date. Set to run from September 29th through October 25th with support from Pillorian, the tour will take the bands from coast to coast – check out the full routing listed below.

Since their inception in 2002, over the course of 5 studio albums and hundreds of live performances, Wolves in the Throne Room have refracted Black Metal through their own Cascadian prism. Their songs explore the hidden world of magic that one accesses through dreams, visions and music and the resulting sounds are intimately linked to the wild lands of the Pacific Northwest. Now, a portal into the dreamworld of Wolves in the Throne Room opens again with their forthcoming sixth LP, Thrice Woven – a glorious return to the blazing and furious Black Metal that they alone can create.

Look for Thrice Woven to be available September 22nd on Wolves in the Throne Room’s own label, Artemisia.

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, ON TOUR:
UPCOMING EUROPEAN LIVE DATES:
Thu 03/08/2017 RO Arad – Dark Bombastic Evening
Fri 04/08/2017 SL Ljubljana – Kino Siska
Sat 05/08/2017 PL Katowice – OFF festival
Sun 06/08/2017 SK Bratislava – Randal Club
Mon 07/08/2017 HUN Budapest – A38
Wed 09/08/2017 CZ Josefov – Brutal Assault
Fri 11/08/2017 CH Le Locle – Rock Altitude
Sat 12/08/2017 BE Kortrijk – Alcatraz festival
Mon 14/08/2017 RU Moscow – Volta
Tue 15/08/2017 RU St Petersburg – Opera

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM & PILLORIAN:
September 29 Boise, ID @ Neurolux
September 30 Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall
October 2 Colorado Springs, CO @ Black Sheep
October 3 Albuquerque, NM @ Launch Pad
October 5 Houston, TX @ White Oak (downstairs)
October 6 New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
October 7 Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
October 9 Tampa, FL @ Crowbar
October 10 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade Hell
October 11 Richmond, VA @ Capital Ale House
October 12 Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage
October 13 Brooklyn, NY @ Villain
October 14 Pittsburgh, PA @ Villain
October 16 Cincinnati, OH @ The Taft Ballroom
October 17 St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
October 18 Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th St. Collective
October 20 Tucson, AZ @ 191 Toole
October 21 Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
October 22 Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
October 24 Portland, OR @ Tonic Lounge
October 25 Olympia, WA @ Obsidian

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Wolves in the Throne Room, “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” official video

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Wolves in the Throne Room Set Sept. 22 Release for Thrice Woven; Album Trailer Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

wolves in the throne room

US black metal aesthetic pioneers Wolves in the Throne Room launched their Artemesia Records imprint with the release in 2014 of Celestite (review here), which was intended as a full-length complement to their 2011 studio outing, Celestial Lineage. On Sept. 22, the Washington natives are set to issue Thrice Woven, their fifth proper long-player, through the same label. The band toured Europe earlier this year, playing Roadburn and Desertfest London, and having just recently performed at Northwest Terror Fest, they’re also set to take part in Psycho Las Vegas this August, still well ahead of the new offering’s release date.

Wolves in the Throne Room have never wavered in their commitment to sonic progression or let go of the atmospheric elements of their approach, and the trailer at the bottom of this post for Thrice Woven would seem to indicate that’s still very much the case. This’ll be one to watch for as 2017 starts to wind down its best-of-the-year list contenders.

From the PR wire:

wolves in the throne room thrice woven

Wolves In The Throne Room return with a brand new album, Thrice Woven (Artemisia Records, 22 Sept)

Wolves in the Throne Room re-imagine black metal as an ode to rain storms, wood smoke and the wild energies of the Pacific Northwest. They are considered as one of the most potent and highly regarded bands in heavy metal today. Now, a portal into their mythic ethereal heathen landscape opens once again. On September 22nd the band will release THRICE WOVEN on their own label Artemisia Records. It is a glorious return to the blazing and furious Black Metal that they alone can create.

The album begins with “Born From the Serpent’s Eye” a true thrashing black metal epic that is bisected with a haunting northern lament sung by Swedish star Anna von Hausswolff. The band worked with metal documentarians Peter Beste and Nico Poalillo to create a video for this track which captures a bonfire-lit performance in the forest near their Olympia compound. More on this very soon, to tide us over, there’s a trailer which hints at what is to come…

“The Old Ones Are With Us” opens with the crackling of a fire and the voice of Steve Von Till (Neurosis) invoking the springtime thaw. It then storms into a dirge inspired by 90’s Finnish doom with lyrics that celebrate Imbolc, the holy day which marks the end of winter and the first stirrings of spring. Figures from Norse mythology intertwine with personal heartbreak and rebirth in the bleak “Angrboda”. The song is named after a frost giantess who birthed Fenrir Wolf, a beast who was destined to destroy the world and murder the gods.

Fenrir Wolf also appears on the cover of Thrice Woven in a painting by Russian occult artist Denis Forkas. Forkas’ obscure medieval painting techniques perfectly compliment the music of Wolves in the Throne Room, you can explore the glimmering painting at the bottom of this post.

A raven’s wings stir the air in the interlude “Mother Owl, Father Ocean”. Anna von Hausswolff returns in a duet with Turkish harpist Zeynep Oyku, forlorn industrial atmospheres haunt the mix, Hausswolff’s lyrics, sung in Swedish, echo over a barren grey seascape. “Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon” is the classic Cascadian Black Metal epic, the third eye opens to see holy rivers being born from the ice on the tallest peaks, the lyrics offer blessings to the waters of the earth as they flow from the high places to the source of darkness, the ocean.

When the band returned to the road in summer 2016 long-time touring guitar player Kody Keyworth was welcomed as a full member of Wolves in the Throne Room. On Thrice Woven, Kody contributes raven’s screams and some of the most brutal and dark riffs. The live line-up also features Peregrine Somerville (Sadhaka) playing 3rd guitar and Brittany McConnell (Wolvserpent) on keyboards and percussion. The effect of three guitars on stage is mesmerising and reflects the dark psychedelia of the band’s albums. Check out upcoming live dates below…

UPCOMING LIVE DATES:
Thu 03/08/2017 RO Arad – Dark Bombastic Evening
Fri 04/08/2017 SL Ljubljana – Kino Siska
Sat 05/08/2017 PL Katowice – OFF festival
Sun 06/08/2017 SK Bratislava – Randal Club
Mon 07/08/2017 HUN Budapest – A38
Wed 09/08/2017 CZ Josefov – Brutal Assault
Fri 11/08/2017 CH Le Locle – Rock Altitude
Sat 12/08/2017 BE Kortrijk – Alcatraz festival
Mon 14/08/2017 RU Moscow – Volta
Tue 15/08/2017 RU St Petersburg – Opera

TRACK LIST:
1. Born from the Serpent’s Eye
2. The Old Ones Are With Us
3. Angrboda
4. Mother Owl, Father Ocean
5. Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon

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https://artemisiarecords.bandcamp.com/

Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven album trailer

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