Quarterly Review: Trippy Wicked, Dunbarrow, The Vintage Caravan, Zatokrev & Minsk, Owl Maker, Orbital Junction, Bourbon, Birnam Wood, Wytch Hazel, The Soulbreaker Company

Posted in Reviews on December 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

You know how this goes by now, right? Well, okay, except that because I skipped the Quarterly Review that I otherwise would’ve done in September (or, more likely, October), I’m doubling-up this time. 100 reviews instead of 50. Two full weeks of 10 albums per day. Will I survive? Yeah, probably. Will it be completely overwhelming? Already is. Thanks for asking.

I’ll save the summaries of the year that was for list-time, which is fast approaching, but consider the fact that there are well more than 100 albums I could include in this roundup emblematic of just how vibrant heavy rock and doom are in the US, EU, UK, Australia and elsewhere. It’s a universal thing, and accordingly, there’s a whole universe of it to explore. This is just a sampling.

But yeah, time’s a wastin’, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight, Stakes n Scale

trippy wicked stakes n scale

An acoustic EP from Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight — who, let’s face it, were way ahead of the curve when it comes to the UK scene’s thing for long and ridiculous band names — is a considerable departure from where they were two years ago on their split/collaboration with GurT (review here), but those familiar with the band might recall their past penchant for the occasional unplugged cover recorded for YouTube. Chris West (also Crawling for Carrion, Glanville, etc.), who engineered the recording and plays guitar, and vocalist Peter Holland (also Elephant Tree) revamp Trippy Wicked‘s “Up the Stakes” from 2012’s Going Home (review here), and cover “Scale the Mountain” by Stubb, of which both were members when the song was written. Together, they make for a nine-minute showcase for the character in Holland‘s voice and the melodies and craft at root in both tracks, and while its arrival feels like kind of a one-off, it’s certainly no less welcome for that.

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Bandcamp

 

Dunbarrow, II

dunbarrow ii

The novelty of new bands playing through vintage gear in order to capture a heavy ’70s sound may have faded, but like all subgenres, as time goes on, the retro-ist style continues to shift and change as bands like Dunbarrow bring new character to established tenets. Their second LP for RidingEasy is aptly-titled II and sways between honoring the likes of Pentagram and acts like Witchcraft who’ve helped craft that band’s hindsight-founded legacy. Dunbarrow‘s noodly style, restrained rhythmic shove and ride-the-riff melody on “Weary Lady” and the foresty creep of “The Demon Within” capture the vibe well, the latter occurring in a second half of II populated with “The Wolf” and “Witches of the Woods Pt. II,” a sequel to the closer of their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) that here leads to the more severe roll of the finale, “On this Night,” emblematic of the changing character of the band even as it reaffirms in its tense midsection the roots from which they sprung.

Dunbarrow on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

 

The Vintage Caravan, Gateways

the vintage caravan gateways

With their third record and second for Nuclear Blast, Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan affirm not only their passion for the boogie of old on cuts like “The Way” and the strutting “Hidden Streams,” but secure a place as being worthy of the consideration they’ve been given to a degree by the wider Continental European heavy underground. They are strikingly mature in their approach for still being a relatively young band, and their albums have worked quickly to develop a character that is becoming more and more their own. They do the fests and they tour, and so on, but they seem to be engaged in building their listenership one pair of ears at a time. Having a metal-major label behind them hasn’t hurt their promotional cause, but frankly, they’re not as big as they should be for the level of work they’re doing, and even with songs like “Reset” and “Reflections” and the composed-strictly-for-vinyl-sounding closer “Tune Out” to their credit, they’re still largely a word of mouth band, especially in the US. Well, consider this your word of mouth. If you haven’t heard Gateways yet, you should get on that.

The Vintage Caravan on Thee Facebooks

The Vintage Caravan at Nuclear Blast

 

Minsk & Zatokrev, Bigod

zatokrev minsk bigod

Post-metallic powerhouses Minsk and Zatokrev — both of whom hit their 15th anniversary last year — teamed up for a European tour this Fall. To mark the occasion, Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets celebrated with Bigod, a split with two tracks from each band arranged in alternating order — Minsk, then Zatokrev, etc. — intended to highlight the symmetry between them not just of circumstance and root influence in the Neurosis school of atmospheric sludge, but the fact that they share these commonalities despite their origins in Illinois and Switzerland, respectively. Each band opens with a longer track (double points) in Minsk‘s “Invoke/Revive” and Zatokrev‘s “Silent Gods,” each of which push past 13 minutes as likely at any moment to be pummeling as ambient, and follows with two shorter cuts, Minsk‘s “Salvatore” swelling theatrically from its minimalist beginnings while Zatokrev‘s “The Chalice and the Dagger” seems to explode from the foundation the prior band laid out. It must have been a hell of a tour, but whether you saw it or not, the split is a welcome conglomeration from two of post-metal’s strongest acts.

Minsk on Thee Facebooks

Zatokrev on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds website

Czar of Crickets Productions website

 

Owl Maker, Sky Road

owl maker sky road

Self-recording guitarist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, ex-Guerra, etc.) leads Connecticut-based three-piece Owl Maker through a complex thematic of Native American folklore and heavy metal classicism. The NWOBHM plays a strong role in his riffing style, but one of the two tracks included on the two-songer single Sky Road, “Owl City,” also veers into more extreme territory with a departure from clean vocals to harsher screaming. All told, it’s about eight minutes of music, but Sky Road nonetheless follows Owl Maker‘s earlier-2018 EP, Paths of the Slain (review here), with an uptick in melodic presence in the vocals of Tuozzoli and bassist Jessie May and progression in the chemistry between the two of them and drummer Chris Anderson, and with the fluidity of their transitions between various styles of heavy, their scope seems only to be growing. To wit, “Sky Road” itself is only 3:42, but still demonstrates a clear-headed compositional method based around storytelling and a subtly encompassing range. Whether it’s early warning for what they do next or a conceptual one-off, its quick run seems just to be begging for a 7″ pressing.

Owl Maker on Thee Facebooks

Owl Maker on Bandcamp

 

Orbital Junction, Orbital Junction

Orbital Junction orbital junction

The Londonderground continues to produce acts ready and willing to worship at the altar of riffs. Orbital Junction‘s self-release debut EP makes an impression not only because of the markedly pro-shop production by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios and the cover art by SoloMacello, but the hooks to live up to those high standards. “6 ft. 2” follows opener “Space Highway” with a bit of dudely chestbeating — note: I don’t know how tall any of them actually are — but the swing of EP centerpiece “Devil’s Double” and the bounce of “Gypsy Queen” speak for the four-piece’s roots and appreciation of straightforward heavy, void of pretense and tapping into an easy mid-paced fluidity that slows up somewhat on closer “Pagan” without really losing the central groove of the offering overall. They’ll have their work cut out for them in distinguishing themselves over the longer term amongst London’s burl-fueled hordes, but their first outing shows their instincts headed in the right direction in terms of songwriting, performance and presentation.

Orbital Junction on Thee Facebooks

Orbital Junction on Bandcamp

 

Bourbon, Fuente Vieja

Bourbon Fuente Vieja

Crisp but warm in its tone and presentation, rife with melody and carrying a laid back spirit despite a fervent underlying groove — the bass on “El Sendero” rests well within gotta-hear-it territory — Spanish purveyors Bourbon emobody some of the best of post-Viaje a 800 Andalusian heavy rock and roll on their third LP, Fuente Vieja (on Spinda). Their fuzz makes its presence known early on “Si Véis La Luz, Corred” and continues as a running theme as tracks like “A Punto de Arder” and the side-A-capping title-cut grow increasingly progressive. There’s room for some shuffle, of course, as side B begins with “La Triste Realidad,” and the slower “Hacia el Sol” gracefully blends electrified wah and acoustic guitars beneath a well-timed standout vocal performance, but the highlight might be eight-minute closer “Destierro,” which seems to bring everything else under one roof while tapping into a poppier structure early — acoustics and electrics aligning effectively circa two minutes in — while providing the album with a graceful and fittingly organic-sounding finale.

Bourbon on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records webstore

 

Birnam Wood, Wicked Worlds

birnam wood wicked worlds

Birnam Wood don’t have time for bullshit, but they do have time for a bit of shenanigans. Thus the 1:44 surge of opener “Time of Purification” leads into the sample-laden roller groove of “Richard Dreyfuss” on their as-of-now-self-released Wicked Worlds, and the “Hole in the Sky”-style “Dunsinane” shifts into the more blown-out “Early Warning,” which, by the time its tectonic low end kicks in, is indeed something of a clarion. At seven-tracks/34-minutes, Wicked Worlds is somewhere between an EP and an LP, but I’d argue it as the latter with the flow from “Greenseer” into the massive “A Song for Jorklum” and the seven-minute finale “Return to Samarkand” making for a righteous side B, but either way, it’s a Boston-crafted assault of grit-tone and aggro doom that finds the band not overwhelmed by the heft of their own tones but able to move and manipulate them to serve the purposes of their songs. Those purposes, incidentally, are mostly about kicking ass. Which they do. Copiously.

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

 

Wytch Hazel, II: Sojourn

Wytch Hazel II Soujorn

It would not seem to be a coincidence that UK self-aware four-piece Wytch Hazel — guitarists Conlin Hendra (also vocals) and Alex Haslam, bassist Matt Gatley and drummer Jack Spencer nod to Wishbone Ash‘s Argus with the cover of their second LP, II: Sojourn (on Bad Omen). They do a lot of that kind of nodding, with a sound culled from a valiant blend of classic progressive and early NWOBHM styles that makes the point of how closely related the two have always been. “The Devil is Here” starts out at a fervent gallop with just an underpinning of Thin Lizzy, while the later “See My Demons” shifts from its steady roll and rousing hook into an acoustic/electric break that seems to pull from Jethro Tull as much as Scorpions. At 10 tracks/45 minutes, they have plenty of time to flesh out their ideas, and they do precisely that, whether it’s the careful unfolding around the keys and acoustics of closer “Angel Take Me” or the over-the-top instrumental push of “Chorale” or the moodier “Wait on the Wind,” the wah solo of which is a highlight on its own. There are some burgeoning harmonies in Hendra‘s vocals, which is an impulse he should follow as it would only enhance the material, but after making their debut with 2016’s Prelude, II: Sojourn finds Wytch Hazel sounding comfortable and well established in their niche.

Wytch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light

the soulbreaker company sewed with light

Progressive, expansive and engaging, the sixth album from Spanish sextet The Soulbreaker Company, Sewed with Light (on Underground Legends), taps into classically Floydian influences on songs like “The Word, the Blade” while still keeping a foot in heavy rock on the prior “Together,” and setting a quick course into a varied sonic persona via the seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Inner Dark.” Hypnotizing not necessarily with drift but with sheer willful exploration, The Soulbreaker Company work with a variety of key sounds and craft-minded ranging guitar in order to effect an atmosphere of thoughtful songwriting even in their most outwardly trippy moments. The sneering semi-psychedelic rock of “Avoid the Crash” and the more stripped-down roll of “Arrhythmia” (video premiere here) lead the way into closer “In the Beginning,” which marks yet another departure with its grandeur of string sounds and electronic beats leading to a chugging big finale. As with the bulk of The Soulbreaker Company‘s work, it requires an active ear, but Sewed with Light both encourages and well earns consideration as more than background noise.

The Soulbreaker Company on Thee Facebooks

Underground Legends on Bandcamp

 

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Minsk & Zatokrev to Release BIGOD Oct. 5

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

minsk

zatokrev

It’s never easy to coordinate, but when two bands get together and put out a split release with some collaboration between them, the results can really become something special. Illinois-based post-metallers Minsk and Swiss contemporaries Zatokrev will issue the conjoined outing, BIGOD, on Oct. 5 through Consouling Sounds and Czar of Crickets, and it’s all the more of an occasion for the fact that each band features a guest appearance from the other on their portion. Pretty cool stuff. Both groups had records out last in 2015, and they’ll support BIGOD with a European tour together presented by Dead Pig that is set to kick off on Oct. 18 with a release show for the split.

Latest albums are streaming below, following the art and info from the PR wire, which is right here:

zatokrev minsk bigod

BIGOD – new split album by Minsk and Zatokrev

We feel honored to announce that the new split album from Minsk and Zatokrev is gonna be released on October 5th via Consouling Sounds and Czar Of Crickets Productions.

Two bands from two continents, two very different worlds and histories, but in many ways they have occupied parallel universes. Both have forged their own paths forward for over fifteen years. Both have released four albums. Both seek transcendence and deep places in their explorations, uncompromising in their vision, both reveling in their beautiful noise.

On BIGOD, Minsk (USA) and Zatokrev (CH/EU) deliver a joint effort, a deliberative and collaborative intention to reflect their innermost expressions, another search for deeper meaning in the here and now through beautiful psychedelic melancholy paired with the heaviest walls of sound and creative destructiveness. Their shared passion and aesthetics gave rise to the idea for the split album BIGOD. The work creates a new spirit, one who unites two dark souls and joins two paths into one. Here, both bands contribute two epic songs, both receiving vocal support from the other.

To complete the work, Parisian artist, Max Loriot, has created an extraordinary visual realization of BIGOD’s theme, a compelling and interpretive take on the allegorical story of Elijah’s fiery chariot. Two horses with their own will, a burning chariot with no horseman, the spirit fire of creation.

Furthermore Dead Pig Entertainment just announced an exclusive BIGOD Europe Tour for autumn.

Minsk/Zatokrev BIGOD Europe Tour
Oct 18th: BE-Ghent, Charlatan (Release party by Consouling Sounds)
Oct 19th: NL-Leuwaarden, Into The Void Festival
Oct 20th: DE-Oldenburg, MTS Records
Oct 21st: PL-Poznan, U Bazyla
Oct 22nd: PL-Krakow, TBA
Oct 23rd: CZ-Prague, Underdogs
Oct 24th: CRO-Zagreb, Mo?vara
Oct 25th: GR-Athens, Kyttaro (Minsk only)
Oct 26th: BG-Sofia, Mixtape 5
Oct 27th: SR-Belgrade, Elektropionir
Oct 28th: HUN-Budapest, Dürer Kert
Oct 29th: SK-Bratislava, Randal Club
Oct 30th: DE-Leipzig, Bandhaus
Oct 31rd: DE-Karlsruhe, Dudefest
Nov 01st: CH-Bulle, Ebullition
Nov 02nd: CH-Basel, Kaserne (Release show by Czar Of Crickets)
Nov 3rd: CH-Winterthur, Gaswerk
Nov 17th: FR-Tyrant Fest, (Zatokrev only)

https://thesoundofminsk.com
https://www.facebook.com/Minsk
http://www.zatokrev.com
https://www.facebook.com/ZATOKREV/
https://consouling.be
https://www.facebook.com/ConsoulingSounds/
http://czarofcrickets.com
https://www.facebook.com/czarofcrickets/

Zatokrev, Silk Spiders Underwater… (2015)

Minsk, The Crash and the Draw (2015)

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Tube Cult Fest 2018 Announces Full Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Let’s say maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t just want to sit in the dark all the time by yourself. You like to leave the house, and you do so without the fear of the judgment of others or worry about pianos falling from the sky and so on. You like to be in the company of those who share your interests, and perhaps to partake of the occasional adult beverage while enjoying a wide variety of loud, heavy and high-energy musical performances. Well. You are in luck. Because it just so happens there are these things called music festivals that happen pretty much every weekend between now and forever,, and should you happen to find yourself in Pescara, Italy, on April 27-28, there’s one you might want to check out.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Tube Cult Fest, which, putting aside all joking about agoraphobia — which is a serious condition from which many people suffer — is a significant accomplishment that in itself justifies showing up if you’re in the area. Past years have featured the likes of Ufomammut and 1000mods, and Tube Cult Fest 2018 is no slouch either in the lineup department, with Weedeater, Sannhet, Zatokrev, Freedom Hawk, Minami Deutsch and a significant slew of others to claim your mind, heart and/or soul as their own.

To wit:

tube cult fest 2018 poster

TUBE CULT FEST 2018 • Chapter X

April 27 – April 28

Tube Cult Fest Chapter 10 is revealed.
Here’s the full line-up of the Adriatic’s Loudest Festival.

Get your presales here:
https://www.eventbrite.it/e/biglietti-tube-cult-fest-2018-27-28-aprile-pescara-11235534787

Friday, 27th April
Zatokrev (CH)
Freedom Hawk (USA)
Sannhet (USA)
Messa (IT)
High Reeper(USA)
Sum Of R (CH)
Calvario (IT)

Saturday, 28th April
Weedeater (USA)
Minami Deutsch (JP)
Lleroy (IT)
Charun (IT)
MalClango (IT)
The Slave Preacher (USA)
Flynotes (RU)

Scumm & MamiWata
Via delle Caserme, Pescara

Event: TUBE CULT FEST 2018 • Chapter X

For informations send us a private message or write to skeptic.agency@yahoo.it

https://www.facebook.com/TubeCultFest/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1604355379641309
http://www.tubecultfest.it/
https://www.eventbrite.it/e/biglietti-tube-cult-fest-2018-27-28-aprile-pescara-11235534787

Freedom Hawk, Live in Virginia Beach

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Up in Smoke 2017 First Announcements: Graveyard to Headline; Orange Goblin, Radio Moscow, Ufomammut, Windhand and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Up in Smoke 2017 has made its first lineup announcements for this October. It’s the fifth anniversary of the Swiss-based fest put together by Sound of Liberation, and they’re immediately giving it due ceremony by putting word out that the just-broke-up-oh-wait-they’re-back-together-again Graveyard will headline. Will they have a new record out? Who will play drums? These are questions still to be answered, but there are seven months between now and then, so fair to expect it’ll all be worked out in the interim.

Along with Graveyard, putting the formidable likes of Orange Goblin, Radio Moscow (who will have a new album out), Ufomammut (who just might as well), Windhand and their tourmates in Satan’s Satyrs, as well as Swiss acts Zatokrev and Sons of Morpheus on the bill certainly doesn’t hurt it any either. Eight bands in the first batch to be announced and I’m already looking forward to the second. We’re not even really into the Spring season yet and Fall is starting to rear its head.

Festus fugit, my friends.

From the PR wire:

up in smoke 2017 first poster

Up In Smoke 2017 – First 8 Bands confirmed: GRAVEYARD to Headline!

We are now finally ready to unveiled the official Up In Smoke 2017 poster, and the first bands confirmed for this outstanding 5th edition! Located as usual in Switzerland’s best rock venue, Z7 Konzertfabrik, only a few kilometres from the German and French borders, our festival will feature about 20 bands on two stages with no overlapping set times, to guarantee you two days of Volume Worshipping!

So mark October 6th & 7th in your calendar, and get your 2-pass as soon as you can here or here! Up In Smoke 2016 was sold out, so better be quick, and to help you make your decision, we are proud to give you the first 8 bands we have confirmed!

GRAVEYARD (SWE)
ORANGE GOBLIN (UK)
RADIO MOSCOW (USA)
UFOMAMMUT (I)
WINDHAND (USA)
SATAN’S SATYRS (USA)
ZATOKREV (CH)
SONS OF MORPHEUS (CH)

Up In Smoke is an indoor festival for fans of Heavy Rock – Doom – Psych – Stoner… easily reachable by plane via the Euro-Airport (Basel/Muhouse) or by public transportations (train, bus) via Basel Main Station. There are plenty of affordable Hotels and Hostels located in Basel and for “budget savers” we are also offering to sleep over + breakfast (Coffee and bread rolls) in the venue for a small fee!

How does this work? After the last concert of the day, we ask everybody to step out of the venue for a few minutes. During that time, the venue and toilets are cleaned and the floor covered with a plastic sheet. (people have to bring their sleeping bags and air mattresses)

https://www.upinsmoke.de/tickets
http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1306
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7
https://www.facebook.com/events/466424317082118/
https://www.upinsmoke.de/

Graveyard, “The Apple and the Tree” official video

Orange Goblin, Live at Freak Valley 2016

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Psy-High Festival 2014 Set for Aug. 22-24

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

There are a couple holdovers from 2013 in The Tower, Tomáš Palucha and Zkouška Sirén, but no question the Czech festival Psy-High has upped the scale of its operation for 2014. They still have a strong blend of native Czech and foreign acts, this time pulling in Weedpecker and Sunnata from Poland as well as Dysis and Limestone Whale from Germany, among others, for a lineup that’s more packed. Where to host so much rock? A quarry, of course.

I don’t have the exact coordinates, but this year’s Psy-High will take place Aug. 22-24 at the St. Joseph quarry in East Bohemia. Really not sure how you can go wrong. On a related note, I was fortunate enough to be invited to cover Psy-High 2014. I won’t be able to make it out because flights are expensive, but it’s nice to be thought of anyway. Kudos to the fest on what looks like a killer second year.

The PR wire brings details and the event poster:

Psy-High ’14

August 22 – August 24

Horice, Ji?ín, Czech Republic

This year’s Psy-High will host about 30 performers + lectures, workshops. We plan to expand and double the audience to around 350-400. Don’t worry, we stay true to our ideals, so everything is DIY (we seriously build everything from ground up from scrap wood and stuff) and we are confident we will be able to hold the unique intimately ritualistic atmosphere, which took so many by their hearts last time.

As last year, location is pivotal for us, we moved to a new quarry, as we want to cycle the locations every year. This year will take place in the beautiful quarry of st. Joseph near Ho?ice in east Bohemia. The festival takes place on 22.-24.8.

Programme-wise – we are hosting 7 foreign bands : Zatokrev (swiss sludge postmetal), Weedpecker (polish stoner grunge), Sunnata (polish psych sludge), Limestone Whale (german 70s retro stoner), Dysis (german instrumental stoner postmetal), Turbine Stollprona (psych prog) and Bird People (austrian ritual ambient).

As last year, those are only the highlights, accompanied by more then 20 czech acts, ranging very widely from stoner, noise rock, doom, slowcore, through psychedelia, minimal, americana, all the way to ambient, electronice, acoustic and experimental. This offers a quite vivid mosaic offering a very fresh experience. Quite mentionable are Tomáš Palucha or NodNod, among all of them.

For foreigners, a hard argument is the very cheap alcohol (best beer in the world for 1€), easy access to weed (best shit for 7€) and so on. We are hoping for a thicker international audience this year and so any post would help us a thousand times! We try to be a part of the psychedelic renaissance, and we want to be as open as possible.

We just launched presale of special festival packages with some lab-glass home made bongs and such, check it out, and think about sharing it along, as we really need to raise necessary basic funds to run this whole show!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1503940179833269/
https://www.facebook.com/thepsyofthehigh
http://www.psy-high.cz/#tickets

Psy-High 2013 Festival Report

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