Arcadian Child Premiere “Snake Charm” from New Live Album From Far, for the Wild out Tomorrow

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

arcadian child

Last Fall, Cypriot heavy psychedelic rockers Arcadian Child undertook a round of European touring in support of their second album, Superfonica (review here), which came out late in 2018 through Ripple imprint Rogue Wave Records. That tour found them hitting the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland as well as Germany and Austria, playing songs from the latest record as well as heralding new material. Doing the thing, in other words. Being a band.

Tomorrow, Arcadian Child will issue From Far, for the Wild as a name-your-price download.arcadian child from far for the wild It is a live album recorded at a place called Schlot in Linz, Austria, on the third show of their run. It’s a relatively quick set at 38 minutes — let’s assume it was a 45-minute slot and has been edited down a bit — and for those of us who didn’t get to see the tour, it’s a chance to hear the four-piece bring their progressive psychedelic textures to life on stage. Not only does it serve as a thanks to their burgeoning fanbase, but its underlying duty is showcasing the fact that Arcadian Child bring it live, which, yeah, they do. It’s not necessarily surprising that the live record is energetic — third night of a tour, they’re getting in the groove of the thing, not bogged down yet by monotony, but over first and/or second night brambles and starting to really lock in — but it also highlights the folkish and grunge undertones of a song like “Irresistible,” as well as the emergent roll and funky turns, respectively, made by new songs “Raising Fire” and “Snake Charm.”

The full offering is eight tracks, so those who caught wind of Superfonica or the prior 2017 debut, Afterglow (review here), will find both represented here along with the new tracks, the latter of which it just so happens is premiering on the player below. Both “Snake Charm” and “Raising Fire” are longer in form than the bulk of the release’s inclusions, so along with the hints of what’s coming next from Arcadian Child, perhaps a willingness to let their material flesh out further should be considered as well. Guess we’ll see when we get there.

Till then, please enjoy:

Arcadian Child release “From Far, for the Wild”, a live album recorded at Schlot in Linz during their European tour in November 2019, which they are giving away for free (name your price in Bandcamp) as a thank you to their loyal fans.

“We are stoked to announce our spring tour in April 2020. We’ll be strolling through UK, France, Belgium and Netherlands. Give us a shout if you want us to pass through your town! Bookings: A map constellation. at a.mapconstellation@gmail.com”

Including “Snake Charm” and “Raising Fire”, two unreleased tracks which they’ll be part of their new album, “From far, for the Wild” showcases the band’s sonic continuum as a singular electric wave that resonates far and wide.

Recorded live by Armin Lehner at Schlot in Linz, Austria on 8 November 2019
Artwork by Julia Schimautz

Tracklist
1. Painting
2. Irresistible
3. She’s on my mind
4. She Flows
5. Raising Fire (new song)
6. Snake Charm (new song)
7. The March
8. Used

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Arcadian Child on Spotify

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Dirt Woman Set March 13 Release for The Glass Cliff; Premiere “Lady of the Dunes”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on January 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Dirt-Woman_Photo-by-Kira-Solomon

Ocean City, Maryland, four-piece Dirt Woman make their full-length debut through Grimoire Records on March 13 with the five-track collection The Glass Cliff. Riffs? Hell’s bells, it’s like they live in a riffy valley between two riff mountains cut by a river of riffs where they subsist on riffy agriculture and have enough left over to make a tidy living exporting them to other, less riffy regions. The nod runs strong throughout their massive, Noel Mueller-captured grooves, with guitarist/vocalist Zoe Koch and guitarist Gabe Solomon at the forefront of the surging tonal tide, pushed forward by the tectonic lumber of Kearny Mallon‘s bass and Avery Mallon‘s steady rolling drums. Shades of Acid King riding the electric machine and just a touch of Windhand-style foggy atmospherics make themselves felt throughout cuts like “Lady of the Dunes” and the joyously plodding “Creator” — one of the three cuts to top 13 minutes in length, along with the closing duo of “Demagogue” (13:30) and “Starhawk” (13:45) — which also finds Avery‘s drums in its later reaches looking to the rays of the red sun that was Chris Hakius‘ work in Sleep. In other words, it’s a all a big fuck yes in my book.

Amid Koch‘s cavernous vocals come tales of modern disparities and the disaffection one might also see portrayed on the cover art for The Glass Cliff by Hayden Hall, which turns wealth inequality into the stuff of science-fiction without really departing the truth of our age. Songs like “Fades to Greed,” the eight-minute centerpiece, find Dirt Woman exploring these ideas lyrically, but the power of their presentation is such that should one be seeking escape and/or hypnotic immersion, that’s certainly a route available. That is, there’s no sacrifice of modus to message, and the band is more than a vehicle for political editorializing — though, frankly, the heavy underground is pretty content to disengage a lot of the time and maybe some editorializing would do it some good — while still addressing the concerns of those inheriting a planet that’s pretty much screwed on multiple levels. But hey, at least… it’s… easy to buy stuff? Sorry y’all.

The Glass Cliff has the honor of being my first entry on what throughout the next 12 months will become my list of 2020’s best debut albums, and while those familiar with either Mueller‘s production work or the outlet for it that Grimoire Records is shouldn’t be the least bit surprised at the organic fuzz molasses that oozes from the bass in “Demagogue,” that does nothing to make it less glorious. For a record that runs 56 minutes long and borders on unmanageable, it holds the listener rapt as “Starhawk” rounds out in bounding fashion, its central riff touching on Witch-y bounce as Koch layers vocals effectively in such a way as to make one already look forward to what Dirt Woman do next two months before their first album actually comes out. Yeah, I’m gonna have to see this band live. Gonna have to get this CD. I might need to buy a t-shirt. They got me on this one. Count me in.

Along with the album announcement, which you’ll find below courtesy of the PR wire, you’ll find the premiere of “Lady of the Dunes” at the bottom of this post. Please consider it strongly suggested that you dig in.

And, of course, that you enjoy:

dirt woman the glass cliff

DIRT WOMAN: Maryland Psychedelic Doom Bringers To Release The Glass Cliff Via Grimoire Records; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Maryland psychedelic doom bringers DIRT WOMAN will release their The Glass Cliff debut full-length this March via Grimoire Records.

Recorded, mixed, and mastered in the fall of 2019 by Noel Mueller at the Tiny Castle in Baltimore, The Glass Cliff’s five tracks bulge with gargantuan riffs, thundering rhythms, and lyrics speaking directly to the cries of today’s youth; a fittingly titled record that’s equal parts enraged and dejected by a world whose once great promise has been decimated by the pursuit of power and material wealth.

DIRT WOMAN’s The Glass Cliff comes swathed in the trippy cover renderings of Hayden Hall and will be released on limited edition CD and digital formats March 13th. For preorders, go to THIS LOCATION.

Forged in Ocean City, Maryland in the summer of 2017 as a duo featuring vocalist/guitarist Zoe Koch and drummer Gabe Solomon, DIRT WOMAN is named in honor of the late Donnie Corker. Better known as Dirtwoman, Corker was a cross-dresser living in Richmond, Virginia known for involvement in Richmond politics, arts, music, and food banks as well as being the human floral arrangement of the annual Hamaganza holiday rock ‘n’ roll charity benefit show that, for twenty-years had paired Dirtwoman with a revolving cast of politicians, luminaries, and journalists.

“His story was truly inspiring to us,” notes Koch. “His charitable work and activism make him forever an icon in our eyes.” Koch and Solomon wrote casually and played sporadic shows. By the spring of 2018, they expanded their lineup to include bassist Kearny Mallon and his twin brother, drummer Avery Mallon, shifting Solomon to guitar. With the twin rhythm section and a dual guitar attack, their thick, quaking sound had truly begun to shape itself into what would become The Glass Cliff.

“The Glass Cliff” was recorded between October and December of 2019 by Noel Mueller in the Tiny Castle. Mixed and mastered by Noel Mueller. Cover art by Hayden Hall. © 2020 Grimoire Records.

“The Glass Cliff” is released via limited edition CD and digital download through Grimoire Records on 3/13/20.

1. Lady of the Dunes – 07:23
2. Creator – 13:08
3. Fades to Greed – 08:25
4. Demagogue – 13:30
5. Starhawk – 13:45

DIRT WOMAN:
Avery Mallon – drums
Kearny Mallon – the big guitar
Zoe Koch – guitar, vocals
Gabe Solomon- guitar

https://www.facebook.com/dirtwoman.band/
https://www.instagram.com/dirt_woman.band/
https://dirtwoman.bandcamp.com/
http://www.grimoirerecords.com
http://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/GrimoireRecords
https://www.instagram.com/grimoirerecords/

Dirt Woman, “Lady of the Dunes” official premiere

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Sigiriya Announce New Album Maiden Mother Crone; Premiere “Cwn Annwn”

Posted in audiObelisk on January 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

SIGIRIYA

Welsh rockers of time and space Sigiriya will release their third full-length, Maiden Mother Crone, this Spring through Burning World Records. By the time it arrives, it will be their first offering of any sort in six years, and in addition to introducing drummer Rhys Miles to the fold, the album collects eight tracks for a 45-minute run of of-the-earth-but-nonetheless-ethereal rolling grooves that seem to draw as much from the mythological as from the world around them in presence and theme alike. Early cuts like “Cwn Annwn,” “Tau Ceti” and “Peace of My Mind” establish Sigiriya circa 2020 as a band afraid neither to touch ground nor sky, and the spaciousness in the echoing vocals of Matt “Pipes” Williams (also Suns of Thunder) only adds breadth to the fluid distortion and heft of Stu O’Hara‘s guitar and Paul Bidmead‘s bass.

The latter two, of course, are alumni of Swansea-based troupe Acrimony — the bulk of whose studio work Burning World recently remastered and issued as the boxed set Chronicles of Wode (review here) — and though when Sigiriya started out with their 2011 debut, Return to Earth (review here), their mission seemed to further that band’s rather significant legacy, subsequent years have found them pulling in a new direction, and Maiden Mother Crone continues that thread. Part of it is sheer lineup. Matt Williams — who also did some recording on the new album, while Richard Whittaker mixed and mastered — took the frontman spot from Dorian Walters, who also had been in Acrimony, and sure enough, Rhys Miles comes to Sigiriya in place of Darren Ivey, who’d also been in the prior outfit. Some change of dynamic, then, seems inevitable as half the makeup of the band has changed from the first album to the third, but O’Hara‘s guitar tone is a signature element and recognizable throughout Maiden Mother Crone, whether it’s the crunching riff in opener “Mantis” or the shorter “Dark Call” later on, which seems to get swallowed up by the sheer overload of dense, hairy fuzz.

Whatever familiar elements persist, and however welcome they may be — because, frankly, I’ll take that guitar sound anytime it wants to show up — Sigiriya‘s sonic identity has never sounded more their own and more distinct than it does Sigiriya Maiden Mother Cronethroughout Maiden Mother Crone. After the resonant cast and grit of “Seeking Eden” and “Dark Call”‘s push, the record’s two longest tracks take hold in succession, with “Arise (Darkness Died Today)” referencing the band’s second album, 2014’s Darkness Died Today (review here, also discussed here) as it digs into suitably moodier vibes and touches on some vocal harmonies from Williams along with a fullness of sound that extends even to Miles‘ crash cymbals, the song still relatively straightforward in structure and, at 6:21, not much longer than “Cwn Annwn” or “Peace of My Mind” back on side A, but just an extra touch more atmospheric as to justify its position as the penultimate cut ahead of 8:21 closer “Crushed by the Weight of the Sky.”

It is a particular credit to Miles and Bidmead as the rhythm section that Maiden Mother Crone rolls with such a nodding flow across its span the drums and bass allow for the psychedelic, airier flourish in the guitar as well as the dead-ahead shove when that comes up, but they show a steadiness of pace that isn’t to be overlooked when it comes to how immersive the record ends up being. That’s true even in the up-front rockers “Mantis,” “Cwn Annwn” and “Tau Ceti” — the latter of which should be enough to sate anyone’s Acrimony fix if the box set didn’t do it — but comes to the forefront starkly at the halfway point of “Crushed by the Weight of the Sky” as well as Miles switches to timekeeping with his crash cymbal. It seems like such a simple moment, such an easy thing for a drummer to do, but it is just right in serving the purpose of the song’s overarching groove, and though Williams soon enough begins the next verse/hook and O’Hara‘s guitar will after six minutes in take the reins and lead the band through a tempo kick as they build to the organ-or-at-least-organ-sound-laced last crescendo, of which the band take full advantage, not letting the opportunity pass to pay off both the track in question and the album as a whole.

Six years between records is a long time. That’s double the stretch between their first and second albums. And it’s not in their nature stylistically to sound “refreshed,” but Sigiriya do come across as vital throughout Maiden Mother Crone, and as they craft their folkloric place within the greater sphere of the UK heavy underground, they do so by stepping further out of the rather significant shadow of O’Hara and Bidmead‘s former outfit and into their own light. Will it be six years before another Sigiriya album surfaces? Maybe. Hell if I know. But if it is, Maiden Mother Crone shows clearly that Sigiriya are able to translate all that time into sonic growth on the part of the band. Like the songs themselves, that is not to be taken lightly.

You can stream the premiere of “Cwn Annwn” on the player below. More PR wire details from Burning World Records follow. Preorders and all that coming soon.

Please enjoy:

Shine on…

Welsh mountain men and valley crawlers Sigiriya are the first to admit to their faults – and yes, they got it wrong. The darkness hadn’t died. The eternal turn is undeniable. After the light of every day comes a veil of night, throwing real-world shadows into the soul of the Light Seeker.

Personal trauma, mental and physical health issues, and even new drummer Rhys Miles (who replaced Darren “TDB” Ivey before the writing of ‘Maiden…’) staring down the grim Reaper directly, have taken their toll on Sigiriya – ‘Maiden Mother Crone’ has been a tough album to harness.

Recorded with Adam Howell at UWTSD Studios in Swansea (with additional work by Matt Williams at Sunnyvale Studios), and mixed and mastered at The Bridge Studios & FX London by the lord of heaviness Richard Whittaker, it’s a monolith of light at the end of the tunnel, a rage against the system, a modern myth and a call to atavism.

‘Maiden Mother Crone’ is undeniably heavier, slower and darker in places, yet in others it soars and roars higher and brighter than ever. More mature in its focus, sound and integration of lyrics and influences than previous releases, with ‘Maiden Mother Crone’, Sigiriya shine onwards through this eternally turning cosmos.

Tracklisting:
1. Mantis
2. Cwn Annwn
3. Tau Ceti
4. Peace of My Mind
5. Seeking Eden
6. Dark Call
7. Arise (Darkness Died Today)
8. Crushed by the Weight of the Sky

Sigiriya are:
Matt ‘Pipes’ Williams (vocals)
Rhys Miles (drums)
Stu O’Hara (guitar)
Paul ‘Mead’ Bidmead (bass)

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Burning World Records website

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Burning World Records on Instagram

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Grey Skies Fallen Premiere “Visions From the Last Sunset” from Cold Dead Lands

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on January 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

grey skies fallen

New York trio Grey Skies Fallen release their new album, Cold Dead Lands, on Jan. 24. Pick your apocalypse-in-progress and you just might find it in the pages of the story they’re telling across their fifth LP’s six-song/53-minute span, which begins with “Visions From the Last Sunset” and ends with “After the Summer Comes the Fall,” and all throughout paints its point of view clearly in the band’s well-established modus bringing together progressive death and depressive doom melody. The expansive vision the three-piece of founding guitarist/vocalist Rick Habeeb, bassist Tom Anderer and drummer Sal Gregory makes a perfect backdrop on which the theme unfolds, whether it’s the biting extremity of “Procession to the Tombs” and the penultimate “Ways of the World” or the broad reach of longer pieces like the aforementioned opener and closer as well as “Picking up the Pieces.” In these more fleshed-out, 10-minute-plus songs, Cold Dead Lands presents its scope as the first Grey Skies Fallen release in six years and the work of a band who are not just mature in their approach — having come together in 1996 — but who are unwilling to do anything other than continue to push forward and expand their range. “Visions From the Last Sunset,” “Picking up the Pieces” and “After the Summer Comes the Fall” make a kind of mini-album unto themselves, with “Cold Dead Lands,” “Procession to the Tombs” and “Ways of the World” — neither of which lacks breadth for their relatively shorter runtime — expanding the grim palette and theme around which the record is largely based.

The outlier in terms of perspective would seem to be “Picking up the Pieces,” if only because it presents some basic notion of there being any hope on any level whatsoever, but amid its early gallop grey skies fallen cold dead landsand later stateliness of lead guitar and harmonized vocals the prevailing spirit is still markedly doomed. This too is the case with “Visions From the Last Sunset,” which basks in its progressive aspects enough that the standalone guitar line that kicks in shortly before two minutes in reminds of Devin Townsend, and amid all the inevitable Opeth and Paradise Lost comparisons, the prog in prog-death shouldn’t be understated just because it plays out at a nodding tempo. HabeebAnderer and Gregory unfold the opener with a sense of purpose and thoughtful arrangement, not overly dramatic, but with clear intent toward making a statement about the world around them. In this way, Cold Dead Lands is very much built on what the leadoff track lays out. That’s the case tonally and melodically as well, but the title-track and “Procession to the Tombs,” which follow in immediate succession, effectively tip the balance of elements to one side or the other of the deathlier side of their sound. This too is a clear sign of intent as the band executes these changes with grace that might be considered deceptive given the harshness of some of what plays out — those who’d argue there’s no beauty in the grotesque are simply mistaken — and one finds in listening through that as they careen here and there, pauses like that preceding the final march in the title-track and more sudden turns like that from melodic to growling vocals early in “Picking up the Pieces” are united by a sense of creative will to serve the needs of the song and album as a whole at that moment.

In that way, Cold Dead Lands argues to be heard in its front-to-back entirety — so here’s a single track (ha!) — and with as much attention and willing immersion as one is ready to give. It is immediate in its deathly urgency and resonant in its melodicism, not overly emotional in the My Dying Bride sense, but neither unaffected by the decay it convincingly describes and portrays. It’s not an easy thing to position yourself at some distance to comment on the world around you falling apart. Grey Skies Fallen do it well in concept and execution, and if these are the endtimes, at least the fossil record will show we saw it coming.

You can and should stream “Visions From the Last Sunset” on the player below. Some quick band comment and PR wire info follow.

Please enjoy:

Grey Skies Fallen, “Visions From the Last Sunset” official track premiere

Rick Habeeb on “Visions from the Last Sunset”:

We wanted to open the album on an epic note, setting the stage for what’s to come. It’s about the end times and how at that moment people finally realize that humanity is the cause of our own demise. Most of the album shares this theme. We don’t consider it a concept album, but it definitely follows a central theme. There just seems to be a lot of people in denial about the state of the world.

New York-based melodic death/doom metal veterans, Grey Skies Fallen are proud to present “Visions from the Last Sunset.” The track is the second single taken from the group’s forthcoming album Cold Dead Lands. Video was created by former Grey Skies Fallen member, Craig Rossi. Grey Skies Fallen will release the album independently on their own imprint, Xanthos Music on January 24th, 2020. It is the fifth album in the band’s 23-year career.

Cold Dead Lands was recorded and engineered by Keith Moore at Audio Playground and produced by Grey Skies Fallen. Mixed and mastered by renowned musician/producer, Dan Swanö (Witherscape, ex-Edge of Sanity, ex-Bloodbath). Travis Smith (Death, Opeth, Nevermore, Katatonia) created the cover art. Dan Gargiulo (Revocation, Artificial Brain) and Will Smith (Buckshot Facelift, Artificial Brain, Afterbirth) appear as guests.

Cold Dead Lands Tracklist
1. Visions from the Last Sunset
2. Cold Dead Lands
3. Procession to the Tombs
4. Picking Up the Pieces
5. Ways of the World
6. After the Summer Comes the Fall

Grey Skies Fallen is:
Rick Habeeb – Guitar/Vocals
Tom Anderer – Bass
Sal Gregory – Drums

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 26

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

the obelisk show banner

Nothing says ‘welcome to a new year and new decade’ like playing a bunch of songs from the one that just ended, right? Right? I knew I should’ve gone into marketing.

Still, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the lack of how much ground was left uncovered by last month’s edition of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. It was an awesome playlist, which I’ll gladly say as the guy who made it, but two hours is just two hours. I could’ve easily gone 10. Dedicating another show to the cause, even just with one a month, seemed like a worthy endeavor. And so it was.

As I write this I’m still waiting to cut voice tracks, but you’ll notice there are only two breaks. I didn’t want to take the extra couple minutes away from music, so I thought one for each hour of the show was fair. Ain’t nobody listening for my “duh, this record’s good” level of insight, and I refuse to fool myself into thinking otherwise. But some of this stuff — Uncle Woe, Stones of Babylon — is new to me. Those two were just sent my way in the last week or so, and they’ll both be covered in the Quarterly Review next week — at least I think they will; should check that list — so I thought to get them a look here as well would be cool. You’ll also notice Zone Six was reviewed this morning. Trying to keep current, at least with myself.

But in with those of course are more 2019 essentials, and I won’t list them twice when you can just read the below. All of these (the newer-to-me stuff notwithstanding) were included in the Best of 2019 feature, so I was thinking of this a little bit as a complement to that. Either way, I hope you dig it.

The Obelisk Show airs 1PM today at http://gimmeradio.com

Thanks if you get to listen.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 01.03.20

Stones of Babylon Hanging Gardens Hanging Gardens*
Church of the Cosmic Skull Everybody’s Going to Die Everybody’s Going to Die*
Year of the Cobra Into the Fray Ash & Dust
Beastwars Raise the Sword IV
Solace The Light is a Lie The Brink*
Kings Destroy Dead Before Fantasma Nera
SÂVER How They Envisioned Life They Came with Sunlight
BREAK
Green Lung Let the Devil In Woodland Rites
Magic Circle I’ve Found My Way to Die Departed Souls
Spaceslug Half-Moon Burns Reign of the Orion*
Valley of the Sun All We Are Old Gods
Worshipper Coming Through Light in the Wire
Hazemaze Lobotomy Hymns of the Damned*
Uffe Lorenzen If You Have Ghosts If You Have Ghosts
BREAK
Uncle Woe Push the Blood Back In Our Unworn Limbs
Zone Six Song for Richie Kozmik Koon

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every first Friday of the month at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is Feb. 7. Thanks for checking it out if you do.

Gimme Radio website

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Review & Track Premiere: Yatra, Blood of the Night

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

yatra blood of the night

[Click play above to stream ‘Carrion’ from Yatra’s new album, Blood of the Night, out Jan. 31 digital and Feb. 1 vinyl through STB Records.]

A release in winter suits Maryland trio Yatra, for whom images of red splatter on snow, grey skies, dark nights and raging winds seem only too appropriate. Plus, perhaps, the occasional battle axe. Only a year after crashing the gate and plundering the greater consciousness of the sludge underground — such as it is — with their Grimoire Records debut album, Death Ritual (discussed here), and several US tours and an initial incursion to European shores later, the marauding three-piece return. Now signed to STB Records, they issue Blood of the Night in a host of limited vinyl editions in keeping with the label’s tradition, and thereby hone the bleak, violent, extreme metal-derived intensity of their sound to a new, even sharper focus. Blood of the Night runs for eight tracks and shows no interest in hiding its malevolent purpose, as Yatra careen and lumber between a post-High on Fire medieval deathbringing and neo-primitive riffs that tap into root, essential-in-the-sense-of-essence nod, stripped of unnecessary frills and brought to bear with the harsh-throated screams of guitarist Dana Helmuth.

Their plodding and slog comes through regardless of actual tempo, with bassist Maria Geisbert and drummer Sean Lafferty complementing Helmuth‘s riffs and searing incantations as well as establishing their own presence in the low end and the significant roll each song seems to elicit from the beginning of opener “Sorcerer” onward. Cuts like “The Howling” and “Blood Will Flow” aren’t nearly as slow-paced as some of their counterparts — looking at you, “After the Ravens” — and in some of that speedier material especially, Yatra reveal influences beyond doom and into other forms of perhaps more aggressive metals. I’ve said before that I can’t help but hear mid-’90s Carcass in their sound, and I stand by that. Yatra seem to have found the balance of heft and bite which so many complained Swansong lacked after 1993’s brilliant Heartwork, and as far as I’m concerned, if you’re putting out records that hold up to that standard, as Blood of the Night does, you’re doing something very, very right.

But put the emphasis on “bite.” Gnashing, really. And it’s not just Helmuth‘s vocals either. The guitar line in the chorus of “After the Ravens” — a standout in its hook and also as the longest inclusion at 7:39; Yatra‘s longest track to-date, though the penultimate “Three Moons” here also tops seven minutes — creeps along with an eerie threat, and in its tone, it is a perfect match to the nodule-building vocal delivery. The same can be said of the bass and drums, though for much of the album — recorded July 12-15, 2019, at Developing Nations in Baltimore by Kevin Bernsten and mastered by the esteemed James Plotkin — the riffs set the patterns followed by all. Still, in the mid-paced second track “Carrion” or in side B’s plundering “Burning Vision,” which veers in its second half into a layered solo that makes it something of a highlight for the sheer feeling of noise and chaos contained therein, it is very much a full-band impact being made, and as Blood of the Night progresses through its front-to-back run, that turns out to be the key component of it.

yatra

Yatra made an impressive debut, and the follow-up arrives on a quick turnaround all the more considering it’s not like those tracks were sitting around for years before they came out and the new one was essentially put to tape between tours, but if there’s urgency, they use it well. It feeds not only into the forwardness of their aesthetic — have I mentioned they’re not subtle? — and gives material like “The Howling” an extra edge of command, which with Helmuth‘s voice gurgling through a charging riff makes their take so much richer than a simple blend of black metal and sludge or of heavy tones and extreme metal vibe. Blood of the Night affirms what Death Ritual first heralded, which is that Yatra are a band interested in not just presenting these ideas to an audience — regularly, if their schedule is anything to go by — but also in taking the elements that inspire them and making them their own; in carving, or melding, or chipping away, or molding, chainsawing, machete-ing, or simply crafting them by whatever means necessary into what they want them to be. Blood of the Night accomplishes this at the same time it pushes Yatra‘s songwriting to a new level, and for that it feels even more significant.

This is another place where “After the Ravens” serves as example, and not just because of its chorus. It’s true of lurching, mega-nodding closer “Surrender” as well, and “The Howling” earlier and plenty of others throughout that Yatra show little interest in sacrificing song for style’s sake. That is, as much as Blood of the Night is an aesthetically sure work, it’s also a showcase of the progression in Yatra‘s ability to write memorable material. The structures underlying all that viciousness, all that sharpened-fang gnash, are firm enough to contain the madness that ensues, and that plays a large role in the album’s overall success. It’s the difference between Yatra being fully capable of wielding their sound like the weapon they do and floundering at the mercy of their own aggression. I don’t know if that’s a self-awareness they’ve purely gleaned from their time on the road, but they clearly have a sense of what works in their material, even if the standard they’re working with is “what feels right” for them.

As they claw their way through “Three Moons” ahead of “Surrender,” the risks they take are there beneath the surface, but their grip on their sound is unyielding, and their confidence is justified not only by what they’ve done to that point on the album, but what they’ll do on the subsequent finale. The story of Death Ritual was that of a band loaded with potential working hard to realize that. The story of Blood of the Night remains in some contexts to be written, but what’s without question is that it builds on the achievements of its predecessor and conveys in no uncertain terms that Yatra‘s intent to conquer is unwavering. I’ll say it as plainly as I can: if Relapse Records isn’t already eyeing them, they’re dropping the ball. What Yatra‘s impact on the heavy underground and the wider sphere of metal will be is still unknown, but the fact that they bridge that gap so organically on Blood of the Night makes them even more lethal than they already were. And if there’s a running theme for Yatra to this point in their career, “lethal” might be it.

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Review & Track Premiere: CB3, Aeons

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

cb3 aeons

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Warrior Queen’ from CB3’s Aeons. Album is out Feb. 28 on The Sign Records.]

They never approach what-you-see-is-what-you-get level simplicity in terms of sound, but at least some of what you need to know about CB3 is there in the name. The acronym, which they seem to prefer to go by, stands for Charlotta’s Burnin’ Trio. Sure enough, there are three of them. They’re led by guitarist Charlotta Andersson. And the burn. Their style is rooted in heavy rock as some of Andersson‘s riffing and certainly her tone demonstrate, but there is a willful-sounding embrace of the progressive as well on their The Sign Records label debut and third album overall, Aeons. Andersson and fellow-founding member Natanael Salomonsson started out in jazzier territory on their 2015 self-titled debut, and across a 2016 live offering, the 2017 short release Adventures, early 2018’s sophomore LP, From Nothing to Eternity (discussed here), and the subsequent live EP, Cult of the Crystals, the Malmö, Sweden, outfit have continually ventured into broader and more psychedelic and weighted ground.

Aeons, which runs an utterly manageable 32 minutes across five tracks, continues this push into the uncharted cosmos perhaps most of all on its nine-minute centerpiece “Acid Haze” — an obvious focal point for the record — but also more generally throughout, as AnderssonSalomonsson and bassist Pelle Lindsjö enact organic-sounding instrumentalist fluidity and give their listeners a range of depths/reaches to explore in kind with the band. Songs are arranged for a journey, parabolically or like a mountain being climbed — though, again, at such a gracefully flowing 32 minutes, it’s not exactly a strenuous uphill — with opener “Zodiac” (3:51) and “Sonic Blaze” (6:50) which follows, building in runtime up to the already-noted longer stretch of “Acid Haze” (9:08), and “Warrior Queen” (7:26) and “Apocalypse” (5:00) paring back down from there in length if not in style or breadth.

Indeed, if anything, “Warrior Queen” answers the sprawl of “Acid Haze” with its own outbound push, particularly over the course of its first five minutes moving further and further from the ground as Andersson‘s guitar soars and shimmers above the solidified but still jammy groove beneath. From there, CB3 come together around a sequence of riffs, one into the next, and resolve the track’s final moments with a straightforward thrust that’s a standout moment even amid the sax and mellotron psychedelic wash of “Apocalypse” that follows — turns out the end of the world is kind of pretty; certainly much prettier than it feels living through it. The point, however, is that the second half of Aeons‘ unfurls itself no less gracefully than does the first. Listening to “Zodiac” at the record’s outset, the groove seems more grounded, toying around with a winding blues riff that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Clutch record even as CB3 manipulate it in various ways via shifts of tempo and effects wash, synth (or synth sounds), and so on, eventually finding their way into a slower nod that only pulls itself further down as it proceeds toward its own end and the more active start of “Sonic Blaze.”

One would hardly call these tracks grounded, even in relation to “Acid Haze” or the first half of “Warrior Queen,” and yet, the temptation to put a first/then narrative — as in, first they’re on the ground, then they’re not — to the progression of Aeons is hard to resist, especially with the sax and mellotron so clearly purposeful in their positioning in the final track. But the truth is more complicated, and, honestly, richer in terms of scope. “Sonic Blaze” flirts with some ambient drone before finding footing in a crash-laden YOB-style triplet gallop, which Andersson then moves up the fretboard before finally releasing into the ether, and eventually returns to the central riff of the track before capping with a winding conclusion on the way into the patient start of “Acid Haze” itself.

cb3

And yes, “Acid Haze” go-go-go-goes to new degrees of galaxial spaciousness in a way that CB3 didn’t do even a year ago, the guitar in eyes-closed-Hendrixian-style echo-shred leading the hypnotic wash that ensues on what is a genuinely gorgeous and singular moment on the album, running as far out as it can before Salomonsson‘s popping snare returns to bring momentum and set the stage for the more sweeping second half of the song, though that too has its due portion of noise before the last live-style crashout and the triumphant guitar intro of “Warrior Queen” commences.

Flow becomes central to the penultimate inclusion on Aeons, and in that regard CB3 are right at home, with some joyful headspinning solo fare after the three-minute mark and a generally languid vibe earlier on before, as noted, the more grounded, chugging end takes hold and builds up to the last charge, leaving just “Apocalypse” to round out, its strumming intro and quiet rim-tap snare serving as the initial foundation on which the fuller tonal impact is made. The aforementioned mellotron arrives earlier than the sax, which doesn’t come until just after the halfway mark and seems to show up in layers when it does, but both are central to the song’s statement and the album’s conclusion, bringing together CB3‘s jazz roots with their intent toward classic progressive rock in a way that, thanks to its atmospheric stylization, avoids the self-indulgence one might commonly associate with fusion or such jazzy impulses.

That is a line that CB3 walk well throughout Aeons, grounding themselves at the beginning and periodically afterward even as they venture into new, more cosmic and psychedelic places. Particularly as an instrumental unit, they’re able to bring an imaginative sense to what they do, but they don’t ever seem to lose focus on their central purpose either, and Aeons is a stronger record on the whole for it. I’m left wondering if there isn’t a storyline taking place between the songs as “Sonic Blaze” and “Acid Haze” and “Warrior Queen” flow in succession toward, well, the end of all things, but perhaps that’s a concern best left for the inevitable sequel. For now, Aeons clearly demonstrates CB3‘s ongoing commitment to evolving their sound, and their ability to meld progressive and psychedelic impulses with a rare and well-harnessed vitality. Would seem that’s plenty to ask of a record that’s just over a half-hour long, no?

CB3, Aeons (2020)

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Mondo Generator Premiere “Dead Silence” from Lost 2010 Album Shooters Bible

Posted in audiObelisk on December 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Even in its earlier catchiest moments like the flirting with melody that happens in “Invisible Like the Sky” or the end of “Burn a Bridge,” or in the later “Smashed Apart” and careening “Hang Me High,” Mondo Generator‘s threat of violence feels ever-present. That is, you never really know when Nick Oliveri is going to completely fly off the handle and start tearing his own throat out with vicious screams and willfully caustic punk rock. I don’t know how one goes about “losing” an album, but I’ve got two theories. Ready? Theory one: Drugs. Hey, dude’s got a reputation. Theory two: Timing.

Ever volatile, ever tempestuous, ever assaulting, Oliveri oversaw the recording of Mondo Generator‘s Shooters Bible — 13 tracks/39 minutes of pure fuckyou — in 2010, singing and playing bass and guitar on all the tracks including the Iggy Pop cover “Dog Food,” on which Happy Tom handles bass and Dave Grohl drums in place of Hoss. Consider though that as he might’ve been getting ready to release Shooters Bible, the semi-reunion Kyuss Lives! was beginning to take shape and began to tour after former Kyuss frontman John Garcia did his own run playing songs from the classic desert rockers and hooked up with drummer Brant Bjork. Garcia and Bjork also put their solo stuff on hold to invest in doing Kyuss Lives!, which should’ve been called Kyuss on all grounds except apparently legal ones and wound up being called Vista Chino as Oliveri departed the bassist role, going back to his various other pursuits: playing and touring acoustic, destroying all in his path with The Dwarves, the infamous SWAT team standoff, etc. I guess by the time it would’ve come around for release in, say, 2012 or 2013, Oliveri had already moved on.

mondo generator shooters bibleIndeed, Mondo Generator‘s Hell Comes to Your Heart came out in 2011 with much of the same material as Shooters Bible recorded or at least mixed to sound cleaner and more accessible and “Dog Food” and “Smashed Apart” were issued as a single, so maybe it was just a case of being dissatisfied at the time with how it all came out. How the hell should I know? One way or the other, Oliveri has been plunging into his clearly vast catalog of contributions, one-offs, demos and unreleased whatnots for Heavy Psych Sounds over the last few years, resulting on the N.O. Hits at All series, which is up to its fifth installment. Only fitting that the same imprint should unearth Shooters Bible, which brings the rawness of Oliveri‘s particular punk-metal ethic to the forefront and, in its centerpiece, “We are Mondo Generator,” lives up to that declaration — and no, the Motörhead reference isn’t lost — even as it’s essentially a solo work with just Oliveri and Hoss playing on it.

The miracle of Mondo Generator has always been the outfit’s willingness to push right up against the line of madness, and as much as Oliveri‘s legacy is inherently tied to the formative movement of Californian desert rock owing to his time in Kyuss and subsequently peak-era Queens of the Stone Age, and his influence has been considerable as a part of that, he’s always been the knife’s edge rather than the handle, and for all the laid back vibes that those around him had elicited, his trip is ever more aggressive and even in its moments of clarity retains the threat of immediate switch-flip violence. Shooters Bible is outlaw punk rock. However it was lost in the first place, in finding it, Mondo Generator give a showing of the maniac’s blood pumping at their heart.

Recently, the band — now the trio of Oliveri, guitarist Mike Pygmie and drummer Mike Amster — also unveiled a track from their upcoming LP, Fuck It (posted here). That album is out Feb. 21. Shooters Bible will follow on Feb. 28, and Mondo Generator will embark on an extensive European tour on Feb. 5, the dates for which you can find under the player below, on which you can hear the premiere of Shooters Bible opener “Dead Silence.”

As always, I hope you enjoy:

This is a gem! A rare pearl found in the deep sea, a MONDO GENERATOR 2010 lost album!!

Preorders: https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/mondo-generator-shooters-bible

The vocals are ripped as usual, some songs are screamed but yet others feature melodic lines. The album has a punk-stoner sound with a desert rock attitude. All the songs are written by Nick Oliveri “ Rex Everything”.

The album features the cover of “Dog Food” by Iggy Pop with Dave Grohl on drums. Nick knows how to surprise us all the time! He picked this lost gem from his secret stash!

The artwork is by Bangalore.

Tracklisting:
01 DEAD SILENCE
02 INVISIBLE LIKE THE SKY
03 BURN A BRIDGE
04 WON’T LET GO
05 CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM HIGH (SCHOOL)
06 THIS ISN’T LOVE
07 WE ARE MONDO GENERATOR
08 SMASHED APART
09 *DOG FOOD
10 NIGHT CALLS
11 HANG ME HIGH
12 THE WAY I LET YOU DOWN
13 THE LAST TRAIN

Produced by Nick Oliveri

Drum tracks recorded at The Pink Castle Eagle Rock, Ca by Sir Brad Cook

Everything else recorded at Meth Lab Studios Salton Sea, Ca by Rex Everything

All songs – Drums by Hoss
Except Drums on “*Dog Food” by Dave Grohl

All songs – Guitars, Bass Guitar, Vocals by Nick Oliveri
Except Bass on “*Dog Food” by Happy Tom

All words and music written by Nick Oliveri
Except words and music on “*Dog Food” by Iggy Pop

The band will be also touring Europe during February and March 2020, including HPS Fests in Paris, Antwerp, London and Deventer.

*** MONDO GENERATOR EUROPEAN TOUR 2020 ***
05.02.2020 IT Roma-Traffic
06.02.2020 IT Pescara-Scumm
07.02.2020 IT North East Tba
08.02.2020 CH Winterthur-Gaswerk
13.02.2020 IT Ravenna-Bronson
14.02.2020 IT Cagliari-La Cueva Rock
15.02.2020 IT Parma-Splinter
16.02.2020 IT Cecina-Spazio Live Ritmi
17.02.2020 IT Torino-Blah Blah
18.02.2020 IT Erba-Centrale Rock
19.02.2020 FR Chambery-Le Brin Du Zinc
20.02.2020 CH Olten-Coq D’Or
21.02.2020 DE Siegen-Vortex
22.02.2020 DE Oldenburg-MTS Record Shop
23.02.2020 DE Hamburg-tba
24.02.2020 DE Berlin-Zukunft**
25.02.2020 DE Dresden-Chemiefabrik**
26.02.2020 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
27.02.2020 AT Innsbruck-PMK
28.02.2020 IT Bozen-Pippo Stage
29.02.2020 DE Wiesbaden-Kreativefabrik
01.03.2020 DE Karlsrhue-Jubez
02.03.2020 DE Augsburg
03.03.2020 LU Luxembourg-tba
04.03.2020 FR Nantes-Le Ferraieur
05.03.2020 FR Paris-Glazart “Heavy Psych Sounds Fest”
06.03.2020 BE Antwerp-Trix “Heavy Psych Sounds Fest”
07.03.2020 UK London-Underworld “Heavy Psych Sounds Fest”
08.03.2020 NL Deventer-Burgerweeshuis “Heavy Psych Sounds Fest”
09.03.2020 UK Nottingham-Albert’s*
10.03.2020 UK Bristol-Exchange *
11.03.2020 UK Manchester-Star&Garter*
12.03.2020 UK Glasgow-Nice n’ Sleazy*
13.03.2020 BE Diksmuide-Music Club 4AD
14.03.2020 NL Rotterdam-Baroeg
w/t ALUNAH*
w/t DUEL**

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