The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 31

Posted in Radio on April 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

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The theme for this episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio is pretty straightforward if you listen. It’s comfort songs. You would not necessarily believe that of a playlist that opens with Total Fucking Destruction doing the title-track of an album called To Be Alive at the End of the World, but again, once you listen, it’s actually kind of soothing. There’s a fair amount of instrumental material included, led off by Yawning Man, and I think the part with Vinnum Sabbathi and Forming the Void is probably as heavy as it gets, though that new Elephant Tree track certainly has some roll to it. God damn that’s a good song, not that that’s a huge surprise from those guys.

I haven’t cut the voice breaks for it yet but will do so sometime before this is posted, but I intend to talk a bit about the Om song and my association with their early work and seeing them at SXSW for what I think might’ve been the first time. It was a while ago and it’s hard to remember for a few reasons, but anyway, if I can remember it between typing this and speaking that, I hope to speak to it a bit, because I know that’s not their most soothing stuff by a long shot, but the memory I have of it puts it in that framework for me. Closing with YOB’s “Marrow” was, of course, a given.

Thanks for listening if you do. I hope you enjoy, and if you see this and don’t listen, then thanks for reading. If you’re not reading, well, you’ll never know you were being thanked.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmeradio.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.03.20

Total Fucking Destruction To be Alive at the End of the World To be Alive at the End of the World*
Yawning Man I Make Weird Choices Macedonian Lines
Acid King Center of Everywhere Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Colour Haze Peace, Brothers and Sisters! Colour Haze
BREAK
Pretty Lightning Boogie at the Shrine Jangle Bowls*
Elephant Tree Bird Habits*
Charivari Lotus Eater Descent*
Tia Carrera Layback Tried and True*
Vinnum Sabbathi Quantum Determinism Of Dimensions & Theories*
Forming the Void Manifest Reverie*
BREAK
Om Annapurna Variations on a Theme
YOB Marrow Clearing the Path to Ascend

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is April 20 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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YOB Announce West Coast US and European Tours

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

yob (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Eugene, Oregon’s YOB doing pretty much anything is good news as far as I’m concerned. “YOB are a band on this planet” continues to be something to have in your existential back pocket on hard days. Thus it is that even though they’re not hitting the East Coast on the newly announced stints they’ve lined up for March and May — they’ll be on the West Coast and in Europe, respectively, ahead of an appearance at Fire in the Mountains in Wyoming this July — I’m not going to complain. I saw YOB in Brooklyn last Spring (review here) and it was glorious. Maybe they’ll be back this way in the Fall, or maybe some other time. Once again, YOB are a band on this planet. Realizing this is only ever a positive feeling.

2018’s Our Raw Heart (review here) is streaming at the bottom of this post. Take a few minutes out of your day and rejoice. It’s a long week ahead.

From the PR wire:

yob tour dates

YOB: Announce 2020 US & European Tour Dates

Critically acclaimed cosmic trio YOB have announced 2020 US & EU tour dates launching this Spring. US dates kick off on March 19 in Sacramento, CA and ends March 28 in Boise, ID. Beginning May 20, YOB returns to Europe in Dresden, DE and ends May 30 in Karlsruhe, DE at Dudefest.

Additionally, YOB will perform at Fire in the Mountains as part of the ‘On Wings Over Utgard’ showcase, curated by Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved. Tickets are available at https://www.yobislove.com/tour.

YOB Tour Dates:

Mar 19 Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s
Mar 20 Santa Cruz, CA @ Catalyst
Mar 21 Oakland, CA @ Metro
Mar 22 Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
Mar 23 San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick
Mar 24 Tucson, CA @ Club Congress
Mar 25 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
Mar 26 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
Mar 27 Salt Lake City, UT @ Soundwell
Mar 28 Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Fest

May 20 Dresden, DE @ Chemiefabrik
May 21 Hannover, DE @ Cafe Glocksee
May 23 Rouen, FR @ Le 106
May 24 Esch-sur-Alzette, LU @ Kulturfabrik
May 25 Munich, DE @ Strom
May 27 Groningen, NL @ Vera
May 28 Eindhoven, NL @ Effenaar
May 29 Dortmund, DE @ Junkyard
May 30 Karlsruhe, DE @ Dudefest

Jul 10-12 Moran, WY @ Fire In The Mountains

YOB’s Our Raw Heart is out now on CD/LP/Digital via Relapse Records. Physical packages are available via Relapse.com HERE and Digital Downloads / Streaming Services HERE.

YOB is:
Mike Scheidt – Guitar, Vocals
Aaron Rieseberg – Bass
Travis Foster – Drums

www.yobislove.com
www.facebook.com/quantumyob
www.instagram/com/quantumyob
www.relapse.com
www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

YOB, Our Raw Heart (2018)

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Song of the Decade: YOB, “Marrow”

Posted in Features on December 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

yob (Photo by James Rexroad)

To be perfectly honest, I don’t feel the need to plead much of a case here. The 18-minute closer from Oregon trio YOB‘s 2014 opus, Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here), is its own best argument for being the best song that came out in the 2010s. And though it was obviously a while back, I also named it the song of the year when it came out. So who wants to be redundant? Here’s some of what I said about it at the time:

“Marrow” is led into by “Unmask the Spectre,” a 15-minute exploration that hits its apex late. There is, however, about 40-seconds of ambient guitar and spacious effects swirling after the chaos has subsided, and the fadeout of that gives flowing movement into the silence from which the opening guitar line of “Marrow” emerges. It’s less than a minute before bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster join in, which leaves guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt to set the initial atmosphere for what will become YOB‘s boldest and most melodic construction to date. Already by then, Clearing the Path to Ascend has taken listeners up, down and through an emotional torrent, songs like the raging “Nothing to Win” and the perpetually-searching “In Our Blood” establishing the dynamic course beyond YOB‘s beginnings — which, make no mistake, are essential to the makeup of what we think of today as cosmic doom — and further into something wholly their own; a sound as distinct and identifiable as Sleep‘s is to Sleep, as Neurosis‘ is to Neurosis. — read more here.

It’s been five years, and YOB have put out 2018’s Our Raw Heart (review here) in the meantime, moving from Neurot Recordings to Relapse Records in the process. So does the above still apply? Yes, and maybe even more than it did then.

The subsequent half-decade since it came out has done nothing to dull the impact of “Marrow,” from its wistful opening and closing guitar figure to the grand sweep of its melodic chorus, to the sheer grace of its crescendo, which arrives not as some overstated wash of noise or volume for volume’s sake, but a moment driven by emotion even more than tone. And the lyrics there, purposeful in their simplicity, say it gorgeous and plain like the truest of American art forms:

“Restless souls
Flickering light
Painted in gold
Tearing at the seams
Needing to feel
One true moment
Needing to feel
Something true”

That’s you, at a show. You’re one of the restless souls in the gold flickering light needing to feel one true moment. When Mike Scheidt sings those lines and the ones before them, he’s talking about the communication between artist and audience, the experience of performance that is unique to stage arts — theatre and music. Painters (usually) don’t paint on stage. Writers (usually) don’t write on stage. But that “one true moment.” That “something true” is the genuine expression that performance represents to Scheidt, and presumably YOB as a whole.

But the key word there is “needing,” and what the lyrics to “Marrow” leave largely unsaid is the need on the part of the band itself. It is represented as a kind of searching felt beneath the surface, and after a stream of consciousness first verse, the song unfolds into the self-aware pre-chorus thusly:

“All these words
Are dust within my mind
In these times
That burn within our sight
Yearning to know
Deep into the marrow”

Of course, YOB are not the first band to write about the experience of creative life, but if one takes the song at its own level, the difference is the level on which they’re engaging it. It’s not skin, muscle or bone. It’s marrow. It is the deepest level. The essential charge in the electron in the nucleus of an atom. YOB earned the title of the following LP by showing their raw heart first on “Marrow,” and in its performance, from Scheidt, Aaron Rieseberg and Travis Foster, it is something unmatched in their catalog, which spans nearly 20 years of output. But while “Marrow” remains superlative, it didn’t happen in a vacuum.

Consider the context of the grand YOB closers that have been a running theme throughout their career. I recounted the list at the time as well, but to reiterate, I’m thinking of the title-tracks of 2003’s Catharsis and 2004’s The Illusion of Motion (discussed here), “The Mental Tyrant” from 2005’s The Unreal Never Lived (discussed here), the title-track from 2009’s The Great Cessation (review here), and “Adrift in the Ocean” from 2011’s Atma (review here).

Our Raw Heart stepped away from the modus somewhat in that its eponymous finale wasn’t the longest song on the record — that would be “Beauty in Falling Leaves,” two tracks earlier — but both of those seemed to build on what was done on Clearing the Path to Ascend. The point though is that “Marrow” didn’t just arrive out of nowhere. It came as the culmination of years of exploring texture and bringing together emotionality and sonic heft, the idea that something heavy could be a ritual of spirit as much as volume.

It was a new level of achievement for YOB, and it and the album that surrounded cemented their place among the most integral American bands of their generation, but more than that, it validated the connection between their audience and their music. It made it real. Among “Marrow”‘s accomplishments in pushing the band’s sound to places it had hinted at before, it was an open, real, honest look at what it means to be on either side of the subject/object divide, and maybe it even broke down that barrier a little bit, at least when it comes to a fan’s connections to YOB‘s own work.

It was that true moment, preserved.

Honorable Mention

There are, of course, many arguments to be made for many other songs. A few off the top of my head:

  • Stoned Jesus, “I’m the Mountain”
  • Elder, “Lore”
  • Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “I’ll Cut You Down”
  • Sleep, “Giza Butler”
  • Om, “Gethsemane”
  • Neurosis, “At the Well”
  • Colour Haze, “Grace”
  • Clutch, “D.C. Sound Attack”
  • Graveyard, “The Siren”

That’s nine, so I guess if you want to package this in some order as a top 10, you could. I’m content to leave it as is, since it’s all relative anyway. But consider the impact of that Stoned Jesus track or Elder‘s “Lore” in igniting and inspiring new bands. Same with Uncle Acid. Like “Marrow” above, these are the songs that continue to resonate and have an effect not just on the listeners, but the artists themselves and other bands in the underground ecosystem. I don’t think that just because the decade is ending that will stop, either. These works, which have already lasted a span of years, will continue to shape the experiences of others, and art will continue to grow outward from other art. There are few things so beautiful in the universe.

If you have a pick you’d like to add to any of the above, please feel free to do so in the comments. The more the merrier, and thanks for reading.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 23

Posted in Radio on September 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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Got into some longer tracks this time around on The Obelisk Show, and that was very much on purpose. Last episode was the Kyuss special, and that was a lot of fun, but when I started this show I guess over a year ago now, I was thinking of it specifically as something a little bit against the grain of what Gimme Radio usually does, so yeah, I definitely consider playing like 15-minute tracks and in this case, a 23-minute track, as counter to the general consideration of where “radio” — even in its interwebular iteration — generally goes. At least I like to imagine it being that way.

So yes. A lot of new music around here, and some longer tracks from the likes of Taras BulbaJesus the Snake (get jazzy, y’all), Ireland’s Coroza and Swedes V and Goatess. Also the new single from Blackwater Holylight because it’s so good that I had to play it, new stuff from Here Lies ManYear of the CobraOgreLamassu and the Alunah track that was premiered here this week, basically just as a brag on my part. And for the classic track? Oh, it’s only “Catharsis” by YOB. If you can think of a better way to spend the aforementioned 23 minutes of your life than listening to that, I’d love to hear it.

I haven’t cut the voice tracks yet as I write this (I’ll do them this afternoon), so I don’t know how much of a dork I sound like, but I’m sure I’ll sound like plenty of a dork when I get there. But thanks for listening if you do in just a couple hours, and thanks for your ongoing support generally, because it’s what lets me do crazy stuff like a radio show on the station that has Dave Mustaine and the dude from Amon Amarth as DJs. These are wacky times.

Listen at: http://www.gimmeradio.com

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 09.13.19

 

Year of the Cobra Into the Fray Ash & Dust*
Jesus the Snake Karma Black Acid, Pink Rain*
BREAK
Here Lies Man Iron Rattles No Ground to Walk Upon*
Taras Bulba The Yo-Yo Man One*
Blackwater Holylight Death Realms Veils of Winter*
V Led into Exile Led into Exile*
Goatess What Lies Beneath Blood and Wine*
Lamassu I Die Into the Empty*
BREAK
YOB Catharsis Catharsis
Alunah Hunt Violet Hour*
Ogre The Future Thrice as Strong*
BREAK
Coroza The Plutonian Drug Chaliceburner*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is Sept. 27. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Friday Full-Length: YOB, The Illusion of Motion

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

In 2003, YOB released their second album, Catharsis. In 2005, they’d issue The Unreal Never Lived (discussed here), which was their final outing before their flameout and eventual return a few years later. The former is an emotional landmark and sonic breakthrough and the latter both a stylistic and spiritual achievement that stands as one of the best records of its decade. So maybe it’s the case that 2004’s The Illusion of Motion gets lost in the mix sometimes between its higher-profile year-earlier predecessor and year-later follow-up. Fair enough, but at four tracks and 56 minutes, The Illusion of Motion nonetheless represents what at the time were several pivotal steps forward for the Eugene, Oregon, trio, in production and execution alike.

The Illusion of Motion was YOB‘s first outing through Metal Blade Records, which picked them up after Catharsis even though the band had never really toured showed no real signs of doing so. It was set to be released on my birthday in 2004, but I recall the CD showed up at my office — because in 2004, physical promos were very much still a thing — some time before that for review. Having been such a fan of the prior outing, I was obviously excited to know what they’d do this next time out, especially on such a continued quick turnaround; YOB‘s album-per-year pace started with their 2002 debut, Elaborations of Carbon, on 12th Records. Immediately the breadth of the production was wider and fuller. YOB — then the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Isamu Sato and drummer Travis Foster — had yet to sound so clear and powerful, but what “Ball of Molten Lead,” “Exorcism of the Host,” “Doom #2” and the 26-minute title-track itself would accomplish was much more than just an uptick in basic quality of sound. Engineer Jeff Olsen (not to be confused with former Trouble drummer Jeff Olson) had worked on YOB‘s 2000 demo (discussed here) as well as their first two albums, and would continue his relationship with the band on The Unreal Never Lived and Scheidt‘s short-lived post-YOB unit Middian, before coming back in to work with the band again on 2011’s Atma (review here), which followed 2009’s Sanford Parker-produced return outing, The Great Cessation (review here; discussed here), but already after three times in the studio together, he and the three-piece would’ve been well familiar with each other’s methods, and a progression of both sides was evident across those early YOB offerings, including The Illusion of Motion.

But still, the album was more than just a bridge from Catharsis to The Unreal Never Lived, and that’s the pointyob the illusion of motion that to me is so worth underscoring. The noise that YOB brought to bear on “The Illusion of Motion” — not to mention the excruciating patience with which the song was delivered; that ending where it cut back to the quiet part — would serve as a reference point for future outings, particularly The Great Cessation before their melodic progression really came to the fore with Atma and the two albums to-date since. At the same time, the intensity of “Doom #2,” which at just over six minutes long remains the shortest song YOB have ever put out as well as arguably the most forwardly intense. It was basically a hardcore track filtered through YOB‘s tonality, resulting in a cacophony that still leaves me wondering why they don’t play it live every now and again. Of course, “Ball of Molten Lead” was and 15 years later still is a clarion to come worship at the altar of sonic largesse, and though it wouldn’t be proper to call its winding movement subtle, the sense of attack it fostered, particularly in its later reaches — that start-stop crashing behind the riff that YOB would use again on The Unreal Never Lived‘s own epic, “The Mental Tyrant,” while also introducing the gallop that would become yet another signature of their approach — was a standout even among the most aggressive material they’d yet constructed, and to answer it with the noise wash of “Exorcism of the Host,” with its gruelingly slow churn initially giving way to something as primal as it was cosmic, only made The Illusion of Motion more stunning in its impact and more expansive in its reach. It was a record that signaled YOB‘s continued forward creative movement, which is something that thankfully is ongoing, but at the time, it was also the apex of it, and whatever they’d go on to do afterward, it was a pinnacle moment that marked their arrival in more ways than just the wider distribution of a Metal Blade release — though I’m sure that didn’t hurt either.

For me to point out some 20-plus years after they got their start that YOB are a once-in-a-generation band is superfluous. I’ll make no pretense toward not approaching their work from a fan’s perspective — because I’m a fan — but even so, the level of artistry they’ve brought to doom, the influence they’ve had across borders and subgenres especially after getting back together with Aaron Rieseberg on bass and pursuing their craft through Atma, 2014’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (review here) and last year’s Our Raw Heart (review here) is still and will likely continue to ripple out. The Illusion of Motion was an essential moment in making that happen — the first time they really brought their style out to engage a wider audience and began to translate their forward-thinking creativity into an increasingly realized songcraft. You wouldn’t have The Illusion of Motion without Catharsis, and you wouldn’t have The Unreal Never Lived without The Illusion of Motion. Those albums are intertwined in how they tell the narrative of YOB discovering their sound and, ultimately, needing to step away from it before coming to realize how crucial that expression truly was and still is.

YOB toured in North America this Spring with Voivod and Amenra and just wrapped a European run with Neurosis. They’ll be at Psycho Las Vegas next week, playing the Beach Stage at Mandalay Bay, which is a thing that I expect those who are fortunate enough to see will be speaking about for a long time. I haven’t seen Fall tour plans, but if they wanted to take a season off, it’d be nothing if not well earned.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

We’ve been back up in Massachusetts since… Wednesday? There’s a large stack of boxes behind me in the kitchen. More upstairs, more downstairs in the basement, and more to be packed. The movers come at 9AM. The 27-footer U-Haul which I’ll drive down to NJ tomorrow needs to be picked up before they get here. The baby is awake, and I’m sure The Patient Mrs. is too. We’re all out of our minds. Moving is awful. To wit, the Hierarchy of Terrible Shit that Happens to Everyone:

  1. Cancer
  2. Divorce
  3. Moving

Everything else is somewhere under that.

But we’ll get through, and if we need to come back up here to finish more stuff before the sale on this place closes on the 23rd, we’ll do that. It’ll get done, one way or the other. If it has to happen during naptimes, so be it. Clearly it does.

I know I’ll be in Brooklyn for Neurosis on Sunday. I know that. We drive south tomorrow — why not today? I’m not sure; need to ask; traffic concerns, maybe? but we’re packing our bed so would need to buy an aerobed if we stay — and hey, maybe after today, it’s done. Maybe we’ll get it all finished. That’d be a nice surprise.

But anyway, after that Neurosis live review on Monday and a long-delayed Lightning Born review on Tuesday, I don’t know what’s up for the week. Let’s assume stuff.

Would anyone have interest if I posted audio interviews around here? I’d like to get back to doing proper phone interviews, but I don’t really have time to transcribe them. What if I tried to kind of do a more conversational kind of thing, like Fresh Air with Riffs or something like that? Let me know what you think? I’m super-awkward on the phone or Skype, but that might be fun too. Just an idea I had this week while I was thinking about 15 other things as well.

Alright.

Great and safe weekend. No Gimme show this week, but the repeat is Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Forum, radio, merch, awesome.

The Obelisk Forum

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Freak Valley Festival Announces 2020 Dates; Live Videos Posted

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

freak valley logo

The next installment of Freak Valley Festival will be held June 11-13, 2020, and I’m telling you right now, I want to be there. It’s held in Siegen, Germany, and as I’ve been writing lineup announcements for the fest over the last two years or so, I’ve been embarrassed to be invited and unable to make it. This year, Freak Valley was held not only the same weekend as Maryland Doom Fest in the US — where I was — but also as Hellfest in France, and probably six or seven other festivals throughout Europe I can’t think of off the top of my head. Was Copenhell this past weekend too? Yup.

Jesus.

This year, Freak Valley announced — I didn’t write it — they were teaming up with the iconic German concert-video institution Rockpalast to live stream the event as it happened, and the results were staggering. I sat in the early part of the day with my jaw hanging open and watched Monolord absolutely devastate the huge crowd assembled before them, the level of production and the job capturing it — audio and video — absolutely gorgeous. King Buffalo put on an incredible show. Electric Moon! So much awesome, so little time.

The only bummer was Slomatics having to cancel, but they’ve reportedly already been invited for 2020, so at least that’s something to look forward to, but the videos of the sets that came together and were streamed are awesome and still available for your perusal. Some aren’t up on YouTube yet, so I’m including the streams direct as they appeared on Thee Facebooks when they were live. I started out with five of them and then saw the Spaceslug one and had to add them as the sixth. Of course there’s also YOB, New Zealand’s Arc of Ascent and the aforementioned Monolord, Electric Moon and King Buffalo. I figure six-plus hours of live material should probably be enough to keep you occupied for a while. It’s certainly been doing right by me.

Enjoy:

YOB

Monolord

Arc of Ascent

King Buffalo

Spaceslug

Electric Moon

Freak Valley Festival website

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Freak Valley Festival on Instagram

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Live Review: YOB, Voivod & Amenra in Brooklyn, 04.04.19

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

YOB (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I arrived at the Warsaw in Brooklyn early enough to go to the market across the street and buy gum, go inside the venue and use the restroom, come back out and meander a bit and still be first in line to get in the door to see YOB, Voivod and Amenra, so yes, I was eager to see the show. And I’ll confess that after seeing Voivod in August at Psycho Las Vegas (review here) and Amenra at Høstsabbat (review here) in Oslo this past October, the band I was most overdue in seeing was YOB. It would be my first YOB gig since the release last year of Our Raw Heart (review here) on Relapse and going back even further than that to 2015. It’s been an adventurous couple of years, but still, that’s unacceptable.

Fortunately for me and everyone else in the venue — and perhaps, given the volume, everyone on the entire block — YOB were headlining. Amenra were soundchecking before doors opened and this would be my first time seeing them not in a festival setting. Being somewhat used to the Belgium-based forerunners of European post-metal with a high-grade production value in terms of lights, projections, strobe effects and so on, I was interested to find out how it would translate to a smaller stage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were blisteringly intense. The drastic contrast of their ambience and weighted sway seemed especially powerful as I stood by the low-end side of the stage for the lurching “Plus Près de Toi” from 2017’s Mass VI. They’ve been to Brooklyn at least once each year since that record came out, but in this context, they brought a headliner presence to the opening slot. There wasn’t one band of the three who wouldn’t readily headline their own tour.

Amenra probably aren’t a band I’d seek out on their own, but I’ve never regretted watching them play when I’ve had occasion to do so, and from where I sit there’s no denying the creative force behind cuts like “Razoreater” and “A Solitary Reign,” both of which were aired at the Warsaw ahead of the finale of “Diaken” from the last album. They’re maybe a bit tighter in their conception of what they do than I can fully appreciate, but they remain sonically devastating, and for the contrast with Canadian sci-fi metal legends Voivod alone, it was a fascinating experience. The sheer incongruity of the one into the other was a sight to behold, but once the switch was flipped and Voivod went on, the whole vibe in the room changed and went along with them, the Quebecois four-piece running through a set of classics and newer songs, smiling all the while.

They are a very, very specific kind of fun. It’s not everyone’s kind of fun, otherwise Voivod would’ve become Metallica, but their alien-rhythm punk-metal-proto-thrash-prog remains not so much ahead of its time, but from its own dimension. The opened with “Post Society” and vocalist Denis “Snake” Bélanger mentioned ahead of “Obsolete Beings” that they’d recently won the Juno award for metal with their latest album, The Wake, from whence that song comes, but if it was more recent stuff or “Into My Hypercube” from 1989’s Nothingface and “The Lost Machine” from 1993’s The Outer Limits, they were absolutely unmistakable, and as was the case last summer in the sweltering Las Vegas heat, theirs was among the most unabashedly joyful performances I’ve ever seen from a band that might be considered in any way. Voivod were having their very own kind of fun.

It was infectious, and I think if there was going to be a vaccine, it probably would’ve been developed sometime in the last 38 years. They ended the night with “Voivod” and a heartfelt shout to founding guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, who passed away in 2005, before the band got even that portion of “their due” that they’ve received up to now. I’m not sure I’d put a percentage to that, but I know it’s on the low side, and when they were done, Snake, founding drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, bassist Dominique “Rocky” Laroche and guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain took time to pass out their setlists and shake hands in the crowd. It sounds corny to say, but they were essentially sharing their love for what they do with the audience, both while they were playing and after. They’re one of the most admirable bands on the planet, for that as well as the decades of aesthetic innovation.

And then YOB played. Ha.

Let’s face it. YOB have been at it one way or another for the last 20-plus years, and they’ve only ever pushed themselves forward. I think every single seeing-YOB-is-a-spiritual-experience cliché has been exhausted at this point in their career — true though it otherwise might be — so I’ll spare you that, but I think it’s worth taking a minute to appreciate the relentless creativity that drives the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster. And that’s not just a question of longevity. YOB don’t put out records because, “okay, well, we gotta go get back on tour, so we need to make an album.” They do it because they have something to express emotionally or something to contemplate and process through music. Their work has never ceased growing, and as they opened their set by tearing a chasm through the universe with “Prepare the Ground,” I couldn’t help but think how incredibly special and rare a band they are. To wit, there is one YOB. Eight billion people walking around the planet or something like that. One YOB.

The set was “Prepare the Ground,” “Kosmos,” “The Lie that is Sin,” “Marrow,” “Grasping Air” and “Burning the Altar,” and if six songs doesn’t sound like much to you, I humbly invite you to go listen to any single one of those cuts somewhere on the internet and be bowled over by them. “Marrow” had eyes moistened throughout the venue, and they brought out bassist Levy Seynaeve from Amenra to do guest vocals on “Grasping Air,” which I have a hard time thinking of as anything other than a dream come true. Even before that though, “Kosmos” and “The Lie that is Sin” made for a particularly resonant pairing ahead of “Marrow,” building on the momentous nod of “Prepare the Ground” with methodical groove that is continually YOB‘s own. Like I said at the outset, it had been too long. I didn’t realize until I was standing there watching them just how much too long it had been. Much too long.

No encore, but none necessary after “Burning the Altar.” I was kind of in a daze after that, to be honest, but stayed a couple minutes to chat rather than darting back to the car. It was a scheduling glitch that got me to see this show in Brooklyn rather than Boston, but no regrets. Nights like this one don’t happen all the time, and to not take advantage when they do is to genuinely miss out.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 12

Posted in Radio on March 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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A few episodes ago, I played Graven and floated the idea of doing a whole episode that was super-aggressive. At the same time, I thought a show that went totally the other way would be cool too; all acoustic or near-acoustic stuff and nothing really aggro about it. Well, then my silly brain got started wondering why not do both? So here we are. The first hour? Oh that’s mad. Lots of sludge, lots of screaming. When you start off with YOB’s “Nothing to Win,” you know you’re throwing down some anger. I probably won’t play Primitive Man that often. This time, it felt important to make the point. So it’s there next to Coltsblood. Point made.

Second hour? Well, it starts with Lamp of the Universe, so things get pretty trippy and pretty mellow and they basically stay that way with T.G. Olson, Conny Ochs, No Man’s Valley, The Book of Knots — because god damn, I love that song — and Scott Kelly and the Road Home — ditto — getting progressively moodier as they go. From there, it’s time to jam to the end of the episode with WEEED and Träden, who I recently saw have a show coming up at Rough Trade in New York. No way I’ll be cool enough to be there, but it’s an awesome idea anyhow.

All told, I’m happy with how this one came out, and for being kind of a hodgepodge conceptually, I think it’s worth exploring different kinds of heaviness and what makes a particular song or moment feel that way. If you listened last night or hear the replay, thanks.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 03.17.19

YOB Nothing to Win Clearing the Path to Ascend
Mastiff Vermin Plague*
Swarm of the Lotus From Embers When White Becomes Black
Sadhus, The Smoking Community Sobbing Children Big Fish*
BREAK
Horsehunter Bring out Yer Dead Horsehunter*
Primitive Man Sterility Caustic
Coltsblood Snows of the Winter Realm Split with Un*
Lamp of the Universe The Leaving Align in the Fourth Dimension*
T.G. Olson Backslider Riding Roughshod*
Conny Ochs Hammer to Fit Doom Folk*
No Man’s Valley Murder Ballad Outside the Dream*
The Book of Knots Traineater Traineater
Scott Kelly & the Road Home The Field that Surrounds Me The Forgiven Ghost in Me
BREAK
WEEED Carmelized You are the Sky*
Träden När lingonen mognar (Lingonberries Forever) Träden

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Tuesday at 9AM. Next show is March 31. Thanks for listening if you do.

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