Review & Track Premiere: Lord, Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lord Desperation Finds Hunger in all Men

[Click play above to stream ‘Mutilation Rites’ from Lord’s Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men. Album is out Aug. 24 via Heavy Hound Records.]

As though in a direct effort to feed the gluttons for punishment, Southern sludge metal extremists Lord return with their third album in three years. Issued as their fifth full-length overall through longtime outlet Heavy Hound Records, the 10-track Desperation Finds Hunger in all Men is a beast unto itself within the Lord catalog. While I don’t know if there’s a vinyl release planned, it’s probably fair to call it a double-album anyway, since at 66 minutes it’s more than twice as long as the Fredricksburg, Virginia, outfit’s previous outing, last year’s Blacklisted (review here). I don’t want to harp on it, since ultimately the length of the release is more a symptom of Lord‘s deeply varied and expansive stylistic expression, rather than a cause of it. That is, they’re writing longer songs because the songs have gotten longer, not because they sat down and wanted to write longer songs. But it’s a striking shift after the last record, and nothing they’ve done to-date, whether it was 2016’s Awake (review here), 2011’s Chief (review here), 2007’s Built Lord Tough or anything else along the way, has touched that kind of length.

Brief though it was, Blacklisted was especially striking in the maturity and the sense of consciousness it brought to Lord‘s often chaotic approach, blending elements of thrash, sludge, doom, death metal, noise, Southern metal, etc., as it does. Without giving up their sense of abrasion or brutal edge, Lord were nonetheless able to wield their sound as a weapon — I’ve been back and forth in my head calling that weapon sharp or bludgeoning, but the truth is it can be either depending on the track — and to shape their material into something that built on what they’d done before and still held that rawness at its core. Part of that, of course, came down to the vocals of Steven “Frank Palkoski” Kerchner, whose soul shines through in both his harshest screams on opener “No Sunrise on the Third,” the growls and shouts of “At First I Didn’t Believe It” and the utterly vicious “Have a Look for Yourself” and in the cleaner singing on “Whispering Snakes,” “Scorched” and the 12-minute experimentalist closer “This Lonesome Linger,” which pulls back the distortion on Chris Dugay‘s bass and Willy Rivera and Todd Weurhmann‘s guitars (both also supply backing vocals) to finish semi-acoustic despite an underlying tension as Tony Petrocelly‘s bass drum thuds in order to signify a shift the track’s near-operatic — yup — midsection, marked out by layers of guest vocals accompanying Kerchner. Like the album as a whole, it is not a minor undertaking.

Nor is it meant to be. Engineered by Petrocelly — who’s since left the band only to be replaced by Jesse Hottle, who’s also left and been replaced for shows by, wait, Petrocelly, as well as Tommy Emanuel, while the band looks for a permanent drummer; so it goes — Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men is easily the strongest production Lord have ever had. Whether it’s the noise at the start of the tracks, the heft that emerges in 10-minute side-A-or-LP-1 finale “La Fleur du Cobalt” or the arrangement of vocals atop the rolling lumber of the later “Mutilation Rites,” Lord‘s aural assault has never seemed more thoughtful than it does here, and the sound is crisp and clear in “Nature Knows No Kings” despite the wash of noise that comprises so much of the song, and rather than work against the band’s extremity, it only enhances it, bringing it into focus in much the same way the songwriting seems to have grown in its purposefulness. Lyrical themes of oppression show up throughout, though a decent amount of the vocals — Rivera‘s complementary growls especially so — are largely indecipherable, but what comes through is delivered with sincerity and rather than a celebration of brutality as so much of extreme metal can be, Lord bring a critical eye and an examination both thoughtful and inward as well as outward.

lord

To wit, the one-minute interlude that follows “La Fleur du Cobalt,” simply dubbed “August 11, 2017,” arguably the most striking piece on the record. With no instruments, it is simply an insect-song-backed succession of voices describing a person’s journey through suicidal depression and out the other side. In all seriousness, when it ended with the line “Today started out well,” I damn near wept. It gives way immediately to the stomp and metallic riffing of “Whispering Snakes,” but the effect in terms of mood-setting remains, and holds firm even as the second half of Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men moves into the nine-plus-minute “Mutilation Rites” and the penultimate “Have a Look for Yourself,” which bashes its count-in and from there unleashes a three-minute torrent of trashing intensity, galloping drums beneath circle-headbang riffs, growls and gang-shouts, and an air-tight execution that, even when it releases the tension it’s built, still seems to be grasping the listener by the throat. This, like the rest of the record surrounding and like “This Lonesome Linger” afterward, is done willfully.

I’ll cop to being a Lord fan. Happily. And while I might quibble with the facts of the title “Nature Knows No Kings” — true there’s no royal hierarchy specifically, but dominance is found in varying forms everywhere in nature whether it’s the head of a pack, an invasive plant species or one animal eating another; this is not an intrinsic justification for capitalist or governmental oppression; don’t get me wrong: no gods, no masters — I acknowledge that I hear Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men with a limited-at-best level of impartiality. Even granted that I think it’s a fair observation to say this is simultaneously Lord‘s broadest-ranging and most cohesive achievement yet, and especially as the third offering since Awake seemed to truly signal a new era for the band — their preceding EP, 2014’s Alive in Golgotha (review here), might be considered a prelude — it brings their attack to another level of refinement.

It would be easy to listen to Desperation Finds Hunger in All Men and celebrate it for its extremity, for the righteousness of its aggression. And I’m not arguing against that. What shouldn’t be lost in that experience is an appreciation for the intent behind that extremity, because that’s what truly signifies how far Lord have come and their continuing drive to progress as a group. There’s always going to be chaos in their heart. It’s how they hone it and what they craft from it that makes them such a special band.

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Heavy Hound Records website

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The Ghost and the Machine Premiere “Caroline”; Announce Red Rain Tires LP out Sept. 28

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on June 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the ghost and the machine photo by Karin Hackl

On Sept. 28, Noise Appeal Records will release the second album from Vienna-based blues rockers The Ghost and the Machine. Titled Red Rain Tires, the long-player is preceded by the single ‘Caroline,’ for which the trio previously released a video back in April. The track, complete with artwork as seen on the Soundcloud player below where the sort-of-premiere of the audio is hosted, brings a particular sonic melancholy to life over the course of its five minutes. Nonetheless wistful, it doesn’t howl out its blues, but answers back the distinct Americana flair of the three-piece’s 2016 self-titled debut with a patience it also hinted at in songs like “Anything” or “One for C” — also leaving one to wonder if the ‘C’ in question stood for the name in the title of the new single — and a more refined overall take.

With atmospheric influence from the likes of 16 Horsepower and athe ghost and the machine red rain tires vast swath of Delta blues players, The Ghost and the Machine have Red Rain Tires available to preorder, and though they’re not specifically of a heavy rock or psychedelic style, their sound will no doubt find some appeal there just the same, both for its retro aspects — one is inherently speaking to the past when in conversation with the blues, even if it’s just long enough ago to remember when one was done wrong — and for the underlying groove brought to bear as “Caroline” unfolds by guitarist/vocalist Andreas Lechner, standup-bassist/vocalist Heidi Fial and drummer Matthias Macht, the guitar echoing out over a fluidity of swampy low end and percussive push, building to an apex in the second half and then cutting to near silence with just enough time to head back to the verse and instrumental chorus, almost dirge-like in its march.

In addition to sort-of-premiering “Caroline” today, The Ghost and the Machine are newly making public the details for Red Rain Tires and the aforementioned preorder link. In the name of being thorough, I’ve included the video for “Caroline” as well at the bottom of this post, which adds some context to the warmth of the song itself in its brooding ambience, deep colors and lighting, and both wide open and enclosed spaces.

Audio, PR wire info and video follow here.

Please enjoy:

THE GHOST AND THE MACHINE RELEASE BRAND NEW SINGLE ‘CAROLINE’!

New Album ‘RED RAIN TIRES’ Coming September 28th!

Austrian-based post-blues trio THE GHOST AND THE MACHINE has unveiled first and hotly anticipated details about their upcoming album! ‘RED RAIN TIRES’ is the second record by THE GHOST AND THE MACHINE and will be released on September 28th with Noise Appeal Records.

To give a first appetizer, the band just released a single for the track ‘Caroline’ which can be now streamed and downloaded HERE! A touching music video for ‘Caroline’ has been premiered earlier, dive into the unique and atmospheric sounds of THE GHOST AND THE MACHINE and watch the video right HERE!

“On RED RAIN TIRES we created floating structures within the songs to dive into,“ the band comments. “It’s full of weird but yet precise sonic landscapes and still in constant touch with the rough spirit of long-forgotten prison songs. We’re really looking forward to share this piece of intimate but untamed music with you – Love it, hate it, buy it, spread it – in either case enjoy it!”

The tracklist for ‘RED RAIN TIRES’ reads as follows:
1. Falling
2. Dirty Mind
3. Blue Day / Yellow City
4. Caroline
5. Passengers And Slaves
6. Complex Animal
7. Scars
8. Butterflies & Dust
9. Wrecks Of Innocence

Wood meets steel, and blues meets surrealism. THE GHOST AND THE MACHINE plays rough and honest songs, intimate and untamed. Pristine elements collide and embrase eachother. The metallic cutting-edge overtones of the resonatorguitar meet the wooden shallow depth of the doublebass, carried by infectious drumming, and the dadaistic but yet pictorial vocals form sonic landscapes that pull you in. The result offers insights to an undistored sound- and soulportrait. There are no pictures in nature. A picture is peculiar to human beings, the ordinary content of the mind is abstract, amorphous and vague. That cut surface is the stomping ground of THE GHOST AND THE MACHINE’s new album ‘RED RAIN TIRES’, which will be released on September 28th 2018 with Noise Appeal Records.

Coming as CD Digipak, LP and Digital Download, ‘RED RAIN TIRES’ is now available to pre-order HERE!

In support of their upcoming album, THE GHOST AND THE MACHINE will be playing live on the following dates:

27.09.18 Wien / Fluc (Album Release Show!)
14.11.18 München / Glockenbachwerkstatt
16.11.18 Pohrsdorf / Saxstall
17.11.18 Dresden / Blue Note
with many more to be announced soon!

The Ghost and the Machine are:
Andreas Lechner – Resonatorguitar, Vocals
Heidi Fial – Upright Bass, Vocals
Matthias Macht – Drums

Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/y9s8yv7v
Deezer: https://tinyurl.com/y7x4aun9
Napster: https://tinyurl.com/yarae787
Amazon Album Preorder & Caroline: https://tinyurl.com/yckeqp6c
iTunes Album Preorder & Caroline: https://tinyurl.com/y7ylkeg4

www.the-ghost-and-the-machine.com
www.facebook.com/theghostandthemachine
www.noiseappeal.com
https://store.noiseappeal.com/shop/music/the-ghost-and-the-machine-red-rain-tires/
https://www.facebook.com/noiseappealrecords/

The Ghost and the Machine, “Caroline” official video

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Review & Album Premiere: King Heavy, Guardian Demons

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king heavy guardian demons

[Click play above to stream King Heavy’s Guardian Demons in full. Album is out June 22 on Cruz Del Sur Music.]

From the first strains of opener ‘Guardian Demon,’ King Heavy make plain their intentions for their second album, Guardian Demons. The Cruz Del Sur-delivered six-tracker runs 43 minutes and follows the model of classic, traditionalist doom metal. More to the point, not just doom, but doom for doomers, by doomers, and of doomers. With bassist Daniel Pérez Saa, guitarist Matias Aguirre and drummer Miguel Canessa based in Chile and vocalist Luther Veldmark making his home in Belgium, they may not be a band who gets together every week for rehearsal in the practice space — or they may be, at least instrumentally — but they’re certainly schooled in the ways of the genre.

Candlemass are arguably the biggest single influence on cuts like “Guardian Demon” and “(Death is But an Extreme Form of) Narcosis,” which follows, but it’s not the only one. Saint Vitus, Black Sabbath, Reverend Bizarre and probably dozens of their acolytes all have a role to play in King Heavy‘s sound, which makes no attempt to hide or mask its base of inspiration. Still, it seems to be a Leif Edling-esque style of riffing that holds the day, given encouraging sweeps of double kick in the drums and lumbering marches alike. They never crawl, exactly, but there’s plenty of stomp throughout anyhow, and the communication from band to audience is clear and without pretense. They’re a doom band. That’s where their heart lies. They present their sound without pretense otherwise, and as such, feel particularly sincere in their sonic homage and will to carry forward the mission of their forebears.

So just how doomed is it? Quite doomed. Doomed enough that its third track, “Doom Shall Rise,” is written in apparent tribute to the festival in Germany that ran between 2003 and 2013 — which also happens to reportedly be where Veldmark and Saa first met in 2005 and they decided to form a band. Sadly, they’d never get to play there. That track contains references to Mirror of Deception, The Well of Souls — presumably the band, but it’s also a Candlemass song — Procession, Shepherd, etc., and if you ever needed a clear line of a group communicating on the same level as their listener, that’s it. It’s not only King Heavy sharing their own work, but sharing their love of the stylistic terrain in which it resides. After the opening provided by “Guardian Demon” and “(Death is But an Extreme Form of) Narcosis,” it’s as though the band finally comes out and says what they’ve been insinuating all along in terms of their passion for doom and their sense of belonging in and to it.

As ever for the genre, there’s a bit of an us-vs.-the-world sensibility to it, but that’s as traditional as the Veldmark‘s Chritus Linderson-esque vocal on “(Death is But an Extreme Form of) Narcosis,” switching between gruffer shouts and smoother, mournful crooning, even as the riff and rhythmic push signal a triumph in progress. Likewise, lines like “Doom shall rise, and rise again,” and “Tonight, doom shall rise,” make the point firmly and without question, and the band leave little to mystery as Veldmark moves into Cathedral-esque layering in the second half of that song, which rounds out side A with a burst of energy that only continues on the especially catchy “Cult of the Cloven Hoof,” which the shortest inclusion at 5:19, but which underscores the point of the tightness and self-awareness in the band’s approach. That is to say, even with just one record behind them in their 2015 self-titled debut (also on Cruz Del Sur), they present themselves as having a clear idea of the doom they want to make and the knowledge of just the right shifts in tempo, melody and groove to make it a reality.

king heavy

A grim reality at that. After tracking on separate continents last time around, King Heavy brought Veldmark to Chile to record his vocals this time around, and the difference would seem to be palpable in the chemistry of the band. One would expect an uptick there going from a debut to a sophomore effort no matter the circumstance, but their feeling more like a band rather than a project is evident in the cohesion here, and with the context of the studio circumstances in consideration, it makes sense as to why. “Cult of the Cloven Hoof” is a fitting example of their execution. It’s tight, grueling in its slower stretches, righteous in its quicker parts, and it unfolds a sound that’s as timeless as one could ask. It leads to the more unhinged, 10-minute-topping “Come My Disciples,” which one might expect to be an Electric Wizard reference, but goes elsewhere sonically essentially by not departing the place it already is, but slowing it down.

“Come My Disciples” feels more open than much of Guardian Demons, with a drawn out solo in its second half that’s glorious in its miseries, particularly with the rumbling low end beneath holding down the central riff. Dead-on doom. Their closer, “As in a Nightmare,” brings them back to ground with a shorter runtime, resumed trod and Veldmark‘s command of his voice. As they have all along, they offset slower and quicker stretches in “As in a Nightmare,” and do so with a sharpness of attack that leads them to the big rock finish that closes out, a wash of cymbals and guitar and bass noise fading into oblivion at the close.

Guardian Demons isn’t a record made for everybody, and King Heavy isn’t a band for everybody. Their doom is like a scratch test to see who will get it and who won’t, and for sure, some won’t. But more likely than not, they couldn’t care less, since the audience they’re speaking to is bound to embrace them all the more for the feeling of exclusion of the outside. True doom? One hesitates to believe in any kind of authenticity enough to call something “true,” but there’s no doubting the sincerity behind the murky havoc King Heavy wreak on their second album.

King Heavy on Thee Facebooks

King Heavy on Bandcamp

King Heavy at Cruz Del Sur webstore

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Demande à la Poussière Premiere “L’Univers”; Self-Titled Debut Due Fall 2018

Posted in audiObelisk on June 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

demande a la poussiere

Parisian trio Demande à la Poussière are set to make their self-titled debut early this Fall on Argonauta Records. The project is new. Really new. As in, I-think-the-track-premiere-below-might-be-their-first-public-audio new. They were founded last year by members of The Great Old Ones, Würm and Nerv, among others, and when one considers the pedigree as well as the span of influences at work within it, it’s hardly a surprise the group’s first single from the album, “L’Univers,” is both so cohesive in its churn and so difficult to place in terms of genre. Hearty proportions of black metal, doom and noisy post-metallic churn make their way into the five-minute cut, and the three-down-from-five-piece of guitarists Jeff Grimal and Edgard Chevallier (the latter also programming) and vocalist Krys Fruit-Denhez call to mind a more charred version of German one-man outfit Owl in their rhythm and inescapable extremity.

As the leadoff of the eight-song/43-minute outing, “L’Univers” is charged with setting the grim but not overblown atmosphere upon which the rest of what follows ultimately builds. The band vary the balance throughout on songs like “Le Lendemain” and the marching groove of “L’Unique Certitude” and the near-apocalyptic “Condamnes,” with a consistency of tone and a malleable sound that keeps songwriting at the center while also allowing them to move outward into an ambient bleakness. The later cut “Accroche” teases some minimalism in its quiet stretches, soon enough giving way to explosive heft, and by the time they get down to closer “Drone” — which, yes, lives up to its name — Demande à la Poussière have found a cosmic place as rich in sound as it is in a sense of terror. Even then, Demande à la Poussière refuse to let go of their darkened sensibilities, the rage driving the creation, and what “L’Univers” starts only grows more virulent along the way.

Naturally, that’s the whole idea, and “L’Univers,” in its shove and its underlying current of noise, is indicative of much of what follows. As such, it’s all the more my pleasure to be able to host the premiere below. Demande à la Poussière‘s signing to Argonauta was just announced last month, but the record is done and in the can, so the early Fall release seems like a perfectly reasonable expectation at this point. I’ll hope to have more as we get closer to the actual drop date, but until then, you can listen to “L’univers” on the player here, with a quote from the band and more background info beneath that.

Please enjoy:

Demande à la Poussière, “L’Univers”

Demande à la Poussière on “L’Univers”:

“L’Univers” is the title that opens the album and that will undoubtedly herald a deluge of heaviness and disillusioned feelings. Pessimism as an engine for aggressiveness and reconstruction.

DEMANDE À LA POUSSIÈRE is a Blackened Post-core band founded in 2017 whose members come from experienced Black Metal, Hardcore and Indus scenes. Members are: Jeff (vocals and guitar – The Great Old Ones / Spectrale), Edgard Chevallier (machine – ex Würm / Gloomy Hellium Bath), Vincent Baglin (Moshi-Moshi-battery), Krys (chant-Nerv / Omrade), Jiu (Bass -ex No return), the band quickly records a first album at Lower tones Place Studio in September 2017. The band has diverse influences to offer a unique style. Combining heaviness Sludge / Doom, the blackness of Black Metal, the intensity of Post Hardcore tinged post rock atmosphere. This music is impacting, encompassing and intense. The name of the band is taken from a book by John Fante, but there is no connection to see it as the deep darkness of the music leads to other feelings.

Krys Fruit-denhez : Vocals
Jeff Grimal : Guitars
Edgard Chevallier : Guitars, Programming

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Argonauta Records website

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Hot Lunch Premiere New Single “Haul of Meat”

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hot lunch

Chances are you never thought ‘spatula of Satan’ was the kind of hook that you’d have stuck in your head. Well, Bay Area heavy skate rockers Hot Lunch will see their new single, Haul of Meat ship out July 16 via Who Can You Trust? Records, and in the span of 3:41, it just might have you rethinking your position on the matter. The single, which comes accompanied on its B-side by “Pot of Gold,” which is a title one might read in any number of ways depending on how clever one is feeling, marks Hot Lunch‘s first outing since 2015’s Slappy Sunday EP (review here) — issued by the now-defunct Scion A/V — and if you’re wondering what the four-piece have been doing with the time in between, uh, I don’t know. Probably hanging out. Skating. Maybe having jobs. You know, life stuff.

With the arrival of Haul of Meat, however, their return to activity comes caked in classic heavy fuzz, the warm and buzzing guitar of Aaron Nudelman holding ’70s-style sway over the shuffle-into-proto-thrash-into-CaptainBeyond-prog-at-the-last-minute groove of bassist Charlie Karr and drummer Rob Alper while vocalist Eric Shea spins the tale of skin-meets-sidewalk woe — hot lunch haul of meatthe perils of skateboarding providing the fodder for the lyrics, “Hit the ground/Quarter pound/Spatula of Satan,” etc. Obviously the vibe is lighthearted despite any and all scars accrued, and with a live sound and flourish of tambourine and the aforementioned out-of-nowhere turn to prog-circa’72 at the finish, there’s a residual sense of weirdness that only makes it an even better time. Shea ends with a multi-layered “Get behind me, Satan,” as if to underscore the purely West Coast vibe throughout. That sense of, “yeah man we’re just screwing around,” while also kicking serious ass in the process.

As for what Hot Lunch have planned after Haul of Meat, I haven’t the foggiest. New album? Maybe. They’re due, if you believe in “due.” Leading up to the release of the two-songer, they’ll be on the road in Europe, starting June 29 in Switzerland and hitting a good swath of shows over the course of the two weeks-plus following in Germany and Italy, finishing the Heavy Psych Sounds-presented run — more than a jaunt, less than a temporary residence, but definitely a tour — at the respected Stoned from the Underground fest in Germany alongside Nebula, Orchid, Sons of Otis, and of course many others. What comes next, we’ll have to wait and see.

And before I give you over to the stream, you should know that I’m not just running this so I can re-post the band’s quote about scabs turning into cheeseburgers for Satan. That rules, make no mistake, but so does the song.

Tour dates and that badass commentary follows the song on the player below, courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Taken from the HOT LUNCH – “Haul Of Meat / Pot Of Gold” 7-inch | WHO-35

Hot Lunch are not ambassadors of skateboarding. They are harbingers of hamburgers. “Haul of Meat” is a skatanic and cautionary canticle that rolls like an avalanche of high-voltage, overdriven fuzz across rumbling rhythms birthed by broken tectonic plates beneath Earthquake City. When asked to explain the caustic lyrics of this urethane-and-wood musing, the band replied, “You know when sometimes you slam so hard that your scabs become cheeseburgers for Satan and the tail of your deck turns into the devil’s spatula?” When further pressed to clarify, they added, “We have a holographic memory. Satan!”

Edition of 500 copies on black vinyl. Free ‘Sacrificial Blood’ sticker included with a limited number of copies! (Only 100 made… Choose your path, but do it wisely!)

hot lunch tour posterHOT LUNCH European Summer Tour 2018:
29.06.2018 CH Frauenfeld-Kaff
30.06.2018 DE Siegen-Vortex
01.07.2018 DE Augsburg-City Club
02.07.2018 DE Mannheim-7er
03.07.2018 DE Leipzig-So&So
04.07.2018 DE Berlin-Urban Spree
05.07.2018 DE Dresden-Chemiefabrik
06.07.2018 CH Olten-Coq D’ Or
07.07.2018 IT Bozen-Mountain Sessions
08.07.2018 IT Sabbioneta-Sabbio Summer Fest
09.07.2018 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando
10.07.2018 IT Torino-Blah Blah
11.07.2018 IT Bologna-Mikasa
12.07.2018 DE Stuttgart-Keller Klub
13.07.2018 CH St Gallen-Rumpeltum
14.07.2018 DE Stoned from the Underground – Festival

HOT LUNCH are
Eric Shea – Vocals
Aaron Nudelman – Guitars
Rob Alper – Drums
Charlie Karr – Bass

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

Hot Lunch Haul of Meat preorder at Who Can You Trust? Records

Who Can You Trust? Records on Bandcamp

Who Can You Trust? Records webstore

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Review & Track Premiere: Demetra Sine Die, Post Glacial Rebound

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

demetra sine die post glacial rebound

[Click play above to stream the title-track of Demetra Sine Die’s Post Glacial Rebound. Album is out this month on Third I Rex.]

Their sound varies more or less on a per-song basis, if not a within-song basis, so if you’re looking for an easy-genre-tag-and-move-on kind of listen, look elsewhere. Demetra Sine Die‘s third offering, Post Glacial Rebound (on Third-I-Rex), requires cerebral engagement at almost all times. It’s like a movie with crucial plotpoints happening every minute, and that’s not a comparison I make lightly. The music itself throughout the seven tracks/46 minutes of the release is richly cinematic, and with vocals swapping between speaking, singing and screaming parts, one might listen to a song like the nine-minute black metal/noise-until-it-decides-not-to-be centerpiece “Gravity” and the later brooding swirl of the melodic “Liars” and wonder if it’s the same band.

Seems to be, yeah. Black metal is part of their approach, but by no means the totality. The Genoa, Italy, three-piece of Adriano Magliocco and founders Marco Paddeu and Marcello Fattore blend elements from noise rock, doom, post-metal and prog together to create a sound that reminds almost of Norwegian avant pioneers Virus in its encompassing style, but Demetra Sine Die‘s divisions are stark, and the tension they hold in “Lament” or the later moments of the closing title-track — a flurry of drums backing spacious clean vocals there — has a presence of its own.

The album is a multi-tiered challenge, then, since not only does it make such a requirement of attention, but it pays off that effort at its own will, without compromise, when and where it wants. That title-track, by the way? Yeah, it just ends. Cold. As if to reinforce the purview the listener is under and the idea of just who it is Demetra Sine Die are making this music for.

Themselves, if it’s not obvious. This kind of progressive, constantly shifting, varied sound of course isn’t without its tinge of self-indulgence. That’s practically a requirement. Still, with the breadth that Paddeu, Fattore and Magliocco cast from the opening bassline of the deceptively grunge and patiently executed leadoff “Stanislaw Lem” onward into the headfirst collision between melody and dissonance in the subsequent “Birds are Falling” and down through the rest of Post Glacial Rebound that follows, the sense is not that they’re trying to manifest chaos, but that their manner of expression simply refuses convention.

For example, “Birds of Calling” starts with shouts over distorted low end and an oft-heard torrent of drums, straightens out into a long forward, dual-vocal melodic verse, then turns back quickly to the shouts before renewing its push. It passes the halfway mark in this manner, then at 3:21, the progression shifts into a noisy lead that itself gives way to an effects-laden shove of a riff that closes out. Where did that riff come from? I have no idea. It just kind of showed up, but if you’re willing to go with it, Demetra Sine Die make it worth your while, in that track and the drama of “Lament” immediately following, which undergoes its own transformation from a poetry reading over drone to a drum-led build of vague spoken words swallowed by driving post-metallic riffs and, a bit later, screams and growls as it moves toward its apex.

demetra sine die

So, shit is weird? Yeah. Definitely. But it’s worth underscoring that Post Glacial Rebound isn’t just weird for its own sake, and it isn’t simply a work of self-indulgence. That ending of “Lament,” which delves into more extreme sounds seemingly out of nowhere, leads to and ultimately smooths the transition into “Gravity,” which marks the darkest and harshest moment on the record. I don’t know that the one song was written to complement the other, but it certainly feels like it was at least positioned that way when the album was actually put together after being recorded.

Likewise, “Gravity,” with its airy guitar and half-gurgled howls early, its middle-third onslaught and its ending melodic moans, in turn serves as an entry point into the even stranger second half of the outing, as “Eternal Transmigration” takes hold — the shortest inclusion at 4:08 — with laughter backing the spoken line “Free your spirit” as if to undercut the very notion. Echoing declarations are subsumed by noise and drums, and that itself bleeds into the more-straightforward-if-you’d-dare-to-call-it-that “Liars,” which rides loud/quiet tradeoffs and an easy melody that, in context, retains some of the threat of its surroundings without actually needs to make an assault of its own. Once again, effects fill out the arrangement, and Demetra Sine Die hold together the proceedings atop a consistent movement of drums.

With a last-minute devolution into ambience, “Liars” gives ground to the closing title-track, which opens much the same way. It would be hard to imagine Demetra Sine Die summarizing the entire record in one track, and even as “Post Glacial Rebound” approaches the nine-minute mark and moves from lumbering low end and roomy guitar over top to a reignited tension in the drums and moaning clean vocals to its almost Tool-esque prog metal finish of percussion and melody, the impetus seems less to reinforce how far the three-piece have journeyed than how far they might still go.

And fair enough. As the follow-up to 2012’s A Quiet Land of Fear and 2008’s debut, Council from Kaos, Post Glacial Rebound leaves some questions unanswered as to just where Demetra Sine Die are headed musically, but is nothing if not purposeful in that. Nonetheless mature, the band in no way sound like they’ve finished growing, nor like they will anytime soon. That might be the most progressive aspect of these tracks. Not only are they thoughtfully composed and executed, but they can’t help but lead the mind of the listener to imagine what Demetra Sine Die might do next.

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Review & Full Album Stream: Pelagos, Revolve

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

pelagos revolve

[Click play above to stream Pelagos’ Revolve in its entirety. Album is out June 8 via Svart Records.]

Evocations of space and water meet on “River (Proxima Centauri),” and that would seem to summarize at least a goodly portion of where Pelagos are coming from on their Svart Records debut album, Revolve, but the key idea is of finding some other place. Listening to the Finnish outfit’s eight-track/48-minute offering, one can’t help but wonder how much of it was crafted with an intent, either conscious or not, for escapism. At the same time, there are flashes of traditional folk rhythms amid the washes of e-bow guitar, synth, keys, and so on, so something keeps even “River (Proxima Centauri)” grounded, and as it follows the immediately echoing vocals and expansive welcome of opener “Code” — as in “blue?” is that the kind of other place we’re visiting? — that sense of ground definitely has a purpose to serve.

Pori, from whence the three-maybe-four-piece — they list Teemu Elo, Petri Hagner and Janne Peltomäki as members, but there sure are four people in their promo photos — hail, is known for having produced the mega-weirdo progressive outfit Circle, and sure enough Pelagos share a lineage with that group going back decades, but the new band seem on a more distinct sonic mission, and with the synthesizer pushing them farther and farther out throughout pieces like “Island of Pelicans,” the somewhat more brooding and decidedly urbane “Aphrodite’s Shore,” and into Revolve‘s second-half depths, amid the acoustic-guitar-based “Invisible,” the darker and electronic-beat fueled “Sea of Tranquility,” the encompassing soundscape of “Muted Stars” and closer “Embryo”‘s reimagining of New Wave as an extension of progressive rock with manipulated vocals and repetitive electronics complemented by airy guitar and a steady underlying groove, a key factor in the outing overall is immersion. It’s the kind of record you might get caught in a ridiculous run-on sentence describing, as each song seems to have something of its own to offer while adding to the overarching atmosphere.

And atmosphere is central to Revolve, to the point that one wants to read a story into the idea that they begin with “Code” and end with “Embryo,” as though the songs between are stages in a journey from death to reincarnation. Certainly there’s room to create that narrative in the ethereal sonic affect Pelagos have donned, and though there’s a definite tonal presence throughout, they refuse to let any element get overblown. That is, as much breadth as there is in the material, it’s never simply wandering for its own sake, and a keen balance holds firm for the duration. There’s a temptation to call is psychedelic, but it’s not psychedelic in terms of the traditional mushroom-munching definition of the genre. Whatever the proclivities of the band’s members — I wouldn’t speculate — what they seem to share with psychedelic rock is the idea of space, both thematically and in the music itself. “Code” opens with a subtly gripping drumless section, letting the wash gradually consume the listener before the album makes its way into the journey ahead.

pelagos

After the hypnotic “River (Proxima Centauri),” “Island of Pelicans” takes hold with a more rhythmic feeling behind it, shifting to a more synthesized vibe at around the midpoint, winding up in strumming acoustic guitar with other elements swirling around, in front of and behind it, the idea seeming to be a constant motion either forward or in its own roundabout spirit, moving without feeling like it needs to be anywhere. That, given that it’s purposeful, is a compliment. In truth, even at its most repetitive, Revolve — the title itself a repetitive motion — loses neither its will nor the gracefulness of its execution. As “Aphrodite’s Shore” gives way to “Invisible,” the shift in approach is clear. Both songs are just over five minutes long, and yet the sound of each, from the utter wash of the former to the more folkish impression of the guitar on the latter, is tied together by the ambience that permeates so much of the record and, though it’s mostly at the fore in introductory sections or leadouts, defines it.

I won’t take away from the more active sections of Revolve or the effectiveness of the shifts in structure Pelagos bring to bear, pushing verses forward on “Sea of Tranquility” or “Island of Pelicans” while the ringing tones of “Muted Stars” and “Aphrodite’s Shore” cast a vision of what Yawning Man might’ve been if they were born on an ocean planet instead of in the desert, but there’s no mistaking the focus on ambience — which I wouldn’t exactly classify as “inactive” either — as being crucial to the impression the album gives as a front-to-back listen. And though it should somewhat go without saying, but a work this fluid and smooth in its shifts between one song and the next should be taken in its entirety.

Not that a given song can’t give an impression of the core sound of its surroundings, just that the full breadth of Revolve is best experienced when the whole voyage is made. And it is a longer go than the 48 minutes of its runtime might convey, but whether or not the narrative intended is the one purported, what really matters is that Pelagos put their audience in a place where the experience is engrossing enough that the mind wants to engage with it as one might the chapters of a novel. Particularly given their pedigree, it would be futile to guess what Pelagos might have to offer in the long term or how or along what path their style might develop, but their debut is rich and resonant, and it brims with the openness of spirit that seems to have driven its creation. Especially considering it as a first album, it is a considerable achievement in its balance and aesthetic.

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Owl Premiere New Cassingle Awaken Jupiterian

Posted in audiObelisk on June 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

OWL

Oakland traditionalists Owl (also stylized Ovvl) will release their third album sometime later this year, following for years after their sophomore outing, Screech. To lead into the new offering, the three Baechle brothers — Axell and K. on guitar/vocals, Clint on drums — and newcomer bassist Magic Spiegel send forth a new two-songer cassette single titled Awaken Jupiterian in reference to the tracks contained: “Awaken the Mountain” and “Jupiterean Ocean.” It’s only 11 minutes long, but with it, the band ask the pivotal question of what might have happened had heavy metal in the ’80s not become so commercialized, so overblown in its production, and had it been able to move forward from its roots in the decade prior and develop its sound without becoming so grandiose. Owl will play the Alehorn of Power festival on July 28, and one can hardly think of a more appropriate setting for them.

Their guitar work on “Awaken the Mountain” and their willingness to smash one part into the next would seem to be derived from the Mike Scalzi school of metallurgyowl awaken jupiterian, but there’s more to their gallop than simple imitation or musical conversation with the Lord Weird. That’s true on the almost completely instrumental “Jupiterean Ocean” as well as in “Awaken the Mountain,” as both cuts showcase an edge of progressive, thoughtful songwriting with a mind toward flow and capturing the spirit of metal’s post-formative years, its righteousness still in its ability to be a middle-finger to the mainstream while capturing an increasing portion of the sales market. In “Awaken the Mountain,” one might hear shades of Leeches of Lore‘s off-kilter winding, or (if you’re on the Eastern Seaboard) some of Valkyrie‘s dual-axe heroics, but Owl hold firm to a sonic persona of their own — dig that last section of “Jupiterean Ocean” — and as much as they seem to look back at what metal was and could have been, they don’t at all lose sight of the individualist expression that’s always been at the heart of the form. They are, in other words, their own band.

The cassingle, which one can only hope comes in a cardboard sleeve open on top and bottom, either shrinkwrapped or not, is available now and to herald the coming of their third long-player, on which “Awaken the Mountain” promises to feature — frankly I’m not sure how you’d get away with calling the album anything else, but the title hasn’t been announced yet — Owl will head out on their first full US tour in more than half a decade. The dates for that run follow the Awaken Jupiterian single itself, which I’m thrilled to be able to premiere via the player below.

Please dig in and enjoy:

Three and a half years since the release of the Screech LP, Oakland, California’s Owl returns to the scene with two brand new tracks on the archaic “cassingle” format! “Awaken The Mountain,” taken from a new album album which will be released later this year, is a prog metal epic, and cautionary tale of dwelling too close to volatile geologic formations! The B-side, “Jupiterian Ocean,” is a sweeping instrumental that glides into view on terrestrial winds, before plummeting into stoner caves and finally scaling staggering zeppelinesque heights!

ORDER THE CASSINGLE HERE
https://owlbrotherhood.bandcamp.com/album/awaken-jupiterian

Two LPs, eleven tours, and four bass players later, 2018 finds the band poised to reach a new plateau, with an epic new album on deck, and the first full US tour since 2012! Join the party this summer!

“OWL BE BACK” TOUR 2018
7.11 ALBANY, CA – Ivy Room
7.12 OJAI, CA – Ojai Deer Lodge
7.13 LOS ANGELES, CA – The Lexington
7.14 FLAGSTAFF, AZ – Flagstaff Brewing Co.
7.15 SANTA FE, NM – TBD
7.16 DALLAS, TX – Transit Bicycle Co.
7.17 LITTLE ROCK, AR – TBD
7.18 NASVILLE, TN – TBD
7.19 ASHEVILLE, NC – TBD
7.20 RICHMOND, VA – Chum
7.21 NEW YORK, NY – Cobra Club
7.22 WALLINGFORD, CT – Cherry Street Saloon
7.23 BURLINGTON, VT – Nectar’s
7.24 PHILADELPHIA, PA – TBD
7.25 PITTSBURGH, PA – Camp Clarke
7.26 DETROIT, MI – Outer Limits
7.27 MILWAUKEE, WI – Quarters
7.28 CHICAGO, IL – Reggie’s – ALEHORN OF POWER FEST
7.29 MADISON, WI – The Wisco
7.30 MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Memory Lanes
7.31 LINCOLN, NE – TBD
8.1 DENVER, CO – Squire Lounge
8.2 COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Triple Nickel
8.3 SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Ridinghoods
8.4 RENO, NV – Shea’s Tavern
8.5 SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Bottom Of The Hill

Owl is:
Axell Baechle: Guitar, Vocals
K. Baechle: Guitar, Vocals
Clint Baechle: Drums
Magic Spiegel: Bass Guitar

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