Review & Video Premiere: Black Elephant, Cosmic Blues

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on June 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black elephant cosmic blues

[Click play above to stream the video premiere for ‘Walking Dead’ by Black Elephant. Their album, Cosmic Blues, is out July 20 on Small Stone Records.]

Though they stay pretty much within the sphere of heavy rock throughout, the actual sound of Italian four-piece Black Elephant is much more nuanced in its refusal to simply do or be one thing. Within the first three tracks of Cosmic Blues, their second album and debut on the ultra-respected purveyor Small Stone Records, the band bounce around between hard-hitting riffs, psychedelic spaciousness, noisy crunch and meandering jams. Only then do they break into the three-minute riff-winding boogie and straight-ahead drive of “Walking Dead.” And yet, as the opening semi-title-track “Cosmic Soul,” the not-at-all-a-cover “Helter Skelter” and the 1:44 instrumental “Chase Me” play out, there’s nothing particularly jarring in the transitions wrought by guitarist/vocalist Caravelli Alessio, guitarist Giacosa Massimiliano, bassist De Stefanis Marcello, and drummer Brunzu Simone.

Particularly with Alessio belting out the vocals as he does on the swinging “Baby Eroina” later, or in the more subdued verses of “Cosmic Soul,” for that matter, there are elements of classic Swedish heavy rock at play in terms of style — that foundation in classic heavy rock melded with a post-’90s grunge groove — but Cosmic Blues is quick to establish its own identity in the sonic meld and thorough in its expansion thereof. The outing totals a relatively quick seven tracks/34 minutes, but that’s more than enough time for Black Elephant to convey their variety of influence, and it’s worth noting that while they seem to make a point of changing up their take throughout, doing so never seems to come at the expense of an individual song itself. From “Cosmic Soul” onward, they go pretty far out, and yet by maintaining a firm commitment to underlying structure, their feet never seem to leave the ground.

A striking balance, and it speaks to the eight years Black Elephant have been a band that they should be able to roll out the languid solo-topped nod early in “Baby Eroina” and move into and through the boogieing midsection of the 7:31 track — that’s the longest on the record, with “Helter Skelter” pretty close at 7:04 — and back to the central riff with such smoothness. Sure, Cosmic Blues has its jarring moments. Following the penultimate also-semi-title-track “Cosmic Blues for Solitary Moose,” the opening push of closer “Inno” hits like a slap to the face, but that’s what it’s meant to do, and this too becomes part of Black Elephant‘s overarching purpose. There’s a strong commitment to vibe throughout, and to be sure, the record has a front-to-back flow that holds firm throughout, but as many wandering solos as there are — they include a particularly resonant one in “Inno,” as one might expect for the finale — the band seem to have an eye on the overarching impression they leave behind them.

black elephant

It’s a positive one, gaining from the different faces Black Elephant show throughout and the efforts they make toward consistency in line with that. Hard not to consider the two longer tracks as highlights. With the extra room in “Helter Skelter” and “Baby Eroina,” Black Elephant flesh out stylistically. In the earlier cut, that means knocking out a noise rock riff early and taking it into a heavier groove before shifting via wah-drenched lead work into its jammed-out midsection, gradually getting more and more minimalist as it goes, only to build excitingly back to the chorus and end with some added crunch. “Baby Eroina” — funny how I keep wanting to put an ‘h’ in front of the second word — is looser in its march overall, but saves its trippiest guitar work for its ending, instead putting out thick distortion and funky vibes in its early moments before launching into its mostly-instrumental second half.

Those are by no means the only highlights of Cosmic Blues — I’ll take nothing away from the effectiveness of “Walking Dead”‘s momentum-maximization at the album’s center or the effectiveness of the brief “Chase Me” before it in capitalizing on a will toward sonic adventure — but they’re striking as focal points just the same, and like “Inno,” they do well to summarize the most important aspect of Black Elephant‘s methodology, which is that rather than jump from one sound to the next, they bring this diversity of ideas into their own approach. The difference is ultimately one of coalescence. Black Elephant are able to shift into and out of parts of songs without losing either their forward momentum or, in the case of some of the jammier moments, themselves in the process. This is what makes the album flow instead of having it be disjointed the whole way through. The intent is writ large throughout Cosmic Blues, but in kind with the album’s variety is that strong sense of identity that feels crafted with such care, and that’s what makes the collection work so well and ties the songs together, longer or shorter.

While Black Elephant don’t necessarily go anywhere that heavy and/or psychedelic rock hasn’t gone before, they do an excellent job of finding their niche in the genre and do even better in tipping the balance in their aesthetic to one side or the other. Some will dig it for its variety. Some will dig it for its familiarity. And some will just dig it because riffs. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and the varied appeal speaks to Black Elephant knowing their audience — as with many bands in the genre, they play with a fan’s love for it — and knowing how to communicate their ideas through sound. Eight years will no doubt help that effort, but Cosmic Blues stands on its own outside of the time it took the band to realize it, and instead, calls back to its influences and inspirations and invites them, and everyone else, to check out how it all came together in the end. It would be hard to argue against doing so, and I find I’m not inclined to try.

Black Elephant, “Cosmic Soul”

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Black Elephant on Bandcamp

Small Stone Records website

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Shadow Witch Post “Disciples of the Crow” Video; Vinyl out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

shadow witch

Shadow Witch are one of those bands who are just about totally out there on their own wavelength, and as a result either get lumped into places they don’t belong — called metal, for example, which they’re not — or underrated entirely for the work they’re doing. Sure, metal is a part of what they do, but so is heavy rock, so is goth rock, so is doom, so is punk, grunge, and so on. The band’s second album, Disciples of the Crow (review here), was released at the end of last year by Salt of the Earth Records, and is available now on vinyl either directly through the band or via Kozmik Artifactz in Europe. The timing couldn’t be better, since the platter just so happens to coincide with a new video for the title-track and the band’s appearance this coming weekend at Maryland Doom Fest 2018. Amazing how these things work out sometimes.

And like much of the record that shares its name, “Disciples of the Crow” isn’t overblown tonally or in terms of aggression. It finds a place for itself in between varying stylistic elements, sharing aspects here and there with elements of the styles noted above, but creating one whole sound from them rather than simply jumping from one part to the next, one genre to the next. What that means when it comes to the album is a more cohesive listening experience, since the material ties together in terms of vibe and actual production alike, and keeps a steady foundation of songwriting beneath from the melodic opener “Love Could Be Like This” to the hook in the finale of “Dead Heroes.” As far as representing the record, the title-track does it well — duh — and showcases the aesthetic nuance at play in what Shadow Witch do as well as the lack of pretense with which they do it. For all their melding, Shadow Witch could still rightly be called straightforward.

They have more dates following Maryland Doom Fest, and you’ll find those, as well as the link to pick up Disciples of the Crow on LP, after the video below, all of which comes courtesy of the social medias.

Please enjoy:

Shadow Witch, “Disciples of the Crow” official video

Limited Edition 180gram Cloudy Orange Vinyl. Now available through Kozmik Artifactz in Europe, and stateside at the Shadow Witch bandcamp site: https://shadowwitch.bandcamp.com/album/disciples-of-the-crow

Shadow Witch live:
JUN 22 The Maryland Doom Fest 2018 Frederick MD
JUN 22 Bar XIII Wilmington DE w/ Beelzefuzz, Witch Hazel, Season of Mourning
JUN 24 Pourhouse of Norfolk • La Fin Du Monde Norfolk, VA w/ Doomstress, Witchkiss, VRSA, That Which Sleeps
JUL 7 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Wasted Theory, Sun Voyager
AUG 3 The Anchor Kingston NY w/ Brimstone Coven, Cat Skulls
SEP 7 13th Floor Music Lounge Florence MA w/ Toke, Curse the Son, Geezer

SHADOW WITCH is
David Pannullo ~ bass
Doug “dougy beans” Thompson ~ drums
Earl Walker Lundy ~ vocals, mellotron, samples
Jeremy H. Hall ~ guitars

Shadow Witch on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Witch on Instagram

Shadow Witch on Bandcamp

Shadow Witch at Salt of the Earth Records

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Death Hawks Post Video for New Single “Atitlán”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

death hawks photo Sami Sänpäkkilä

So good. So good. New Death Hawks. So good. Post over. Okay, go watch the video.

Really?

Nah, not really, but if you read the above, you pretty much have the point of everything I have to say about the Finnish psychedelic rockers’ new clip for their single “Atitlán,” which as fortunate fate would have it is the predecessor to a fourth long-player to be released this Fall by Svart Records. The band’s blend of classic progressive elements and forward-thinking spaciousness is entirely their own, and if you heard their last album, 2015’s still-put-it-on Sun Future Moon (review here), you know that the result of their sonic meld lacks nothing for memorability for being so otherwise far, far out. Did I mention “so good?” Okay, right on.

Director Sami Sänpäkkilä, who also helmed the camera and edited the video for “Atitlán” and has worked with the band before, put up a pretty interesting blog post about its making in both conceptual and technical terms, which I’ve cut and pasted below since you don’t often see something so detailed about the actual putting together of a video. That post talks as well about Death Hawks frontman Teemu Markkula‘s providing the stage costumes from his work as a professional drag performer, and the glamorous visual elements end up making “Atitlán” both subversive and all the more a trip into the band’s own world, which makes it suitable that the song itself comes from Markkula‘s traveling to Guatemala and staying for a month by the side of a volcano-surrounded lake. As far as inspiration goes, that’ll probably do the job.

I’ll hope to have (much) more on Death Hawks‘ next record as we get nearer to its arrival, but until then, “Atitlán” has a catchy enough hook to set up residence for heavy rotation on the mental jukebox, and you can hear it and see the accompanying video on the player below. Keep an eye out for the parts where they’re waving crystals in front of the camera. Sänpäkkilä mentions it in his post and you can totally see it in the clip itself once you know what you’re looking for. And if watching drag artists makes you uncomfortable, one suspects that’s part of the point.

So dig it:

Death Hawks, “Atitlán” official video

Today, Death Hawks – the most successful Finnish psychedelic rock act of modern times – reveal a new video for the track “Atitlán.” A new recording two-and-a-half years after their smash-hit album, Sun Future Moon, for Svart Records, “Atitlán” is a special digital-only single currently available on all major digital platforms.

As vocalist/guitarist Teemu Markkula reveals, “We’ve been playing around with the song’s characteristic theme for about a year during soundchecks all over Europe. At some point, our bass player Riku made a demo from it, and we decided to produce this new single from it. The song is a melodic and vocal-driven pop song. It has an interesting variety of instruments and a lot of layers which makes it possible to immerse oneself into the song.”

Continuing about the song’s genesis, he says, “At that time, I had just spent a month in a little Guatemalan village by the lake Atitlán. It’s a magical place! A big lake that has three volcanoes rising up from the shorelines – even more if you count in the ancient volcanoes. This song actually is a kind of a postcard from there, and it is dedicated to the most wonderfully bizarre and liberal people. Travelling really broadens the mind! Whaddaya know?”

Sami Sänpäkkilä on “Atitlán”:

Death Hawks new song Atitlán from their fourth full length album is also my third video for the band. All the videos we’ve done have been very different in technique. Black Acid was shot on super 8 and on Beyond Thyme we used UV lights and paints.

Teemu Markkula and myself cooked up the idea on what the video should include in terms of looks and story. The choreography, lights and the visuals were mostly done at the studio. Teemu had some reference images so we kind of had an idea of the colors we wanted. The clothes were all Jukka’s stage clothes as he’s a professional drag artist.

The whole shoot only took about 6-7 hours including lunch and that speed is due to the fact we had a good studio (Visual Works in Helsinki) and loads of people doing their thing. Lighting and VJ setup was simple. We had a 650W tungsten with a soft box and a grid high up on the ceiling. We also had an amazing portable and wirelessly triggered fog machine that was super easy and fast to use. Jonne Pitkänen did the front projections and Ilona Lehtonen did all the back projections.

All the effects except for the double exposure shots are in-camera effects. We had a few crystals that we shaked in front of the camera.

Directed by Sami Sänpäkkilä
Script: Sami Sänpäkkilä, Teemu Markkula
Music by Death Hawks
Actors: Teemu Markkula, Jukka Kuronen
Gaffer: Anna-Mari Nousiainen
VJ’s: Ilona Lehtonen, Jonne Pitkänen

Death Hawks website

Death Hawks on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

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Captain Caravan Post Video for New Single “Crown”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

captain caravan

Though they’re by no means playing the kind of retroist boogie rock that’s become a staple of the Scandinavian heavy underground over the course of the last 15 years, there is something traditional at the heart of Captain Caravan‘s new single, ‘Crown.’ The first audio to come from the Egersund, Norway, four-piece’s impending EP, Shun the Sun, “Crown” speaks to the pre-mobile social media style of heavy rock of the late ’90s and early ’00s, the earlier work of bands like Dozer, Spoiler from the Netherlands, or even some of Roadsaw‘s younger days. To be sure, there’s a shuffle to the rhythm of “Crown,” but in their production and tonality, Captain Caravan — not to be confused with Sweden’s Captain Crimson, despite the shared affinity for alliteration — owe as much to the post-grunge halcyon days of stoner vibes as to the foundational moments of heavy rock.

Part of that blend of influences no doubt stems from guitarist BK Saestad‘s tenure in Pawnshop, who made their debut with 1997’s Broke and released two more albums through Beard of Stars Records in 2000’s Aloha from Saturn and 2002’s Cruise’o’Matic, before an eight-year studio hiatus. After another eight years beyond that, I’m not sure it’s fair to call Captain Caravan a direct extension of what Saestad was doing with his prior band, but those elements are there all the same, and blended with what drummer Morten Skogen, bassist Geir Solli and new vocalist Johnny Olsen bring to the mix — the latter given to an especially soulful approach in his first appearance with the group — they make “Crown” just under six minutes of classically heavy groove and an unpretentious good time that speaks well of things to come as the lineup continues to solidify on the EP and beyond.

I’ll rarely pick on a new band and say they’re destined to do great things, etc., because the only thing worse than hyperbole is speculative hyperbole and for all anyone knows they could nix the entire project tomorrow, but Captain Caravan are cohesive enough in their approach to show marked potential in this single of the sort that would make it not surprising in the least if they were picked up by some label if not for the Kent Stump-masterd Shun the Sun itself, then for whatever might follow it. It’s always encouraging to hear a new band who start out so clearly having learned the lessons of their members’ own sonic past.

They hit the public domain B-roll pretty hard for the “Crown” video, which you can see below, followed by some more background about the band, their initial singles, and of course the requisite links.

Dig it:

Captain Caravan, “Crown” official video

“Crown” from the upcoming EP “Shun the Sun” is the first song featuring new singer Johnny Olsen. Music recorded by BK Sæstad in BK Studios. Mixed and Mastered by Kent Stump from Crystal Clear Sound – Recording Studio and Wo Fat fame. Video directed by Alan Smithee.

Crown is available for streaming and download on Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Google Play, Amazon, YouTube and more!

Established Spring 2015 in Egersund, Norway by Morten Skogen (drums, former Alien Ken, Antarctica), BK Saestad (guitar, former Pawnshop), Geir Solli (bass, former Antarctica) and Christian Stokkeland (vocals). Based on common musically influences from southern rock, stoner rock and classic rock, the band started writing songs resulting in the first release Life`s a Drag in 2016. Followed up by the singles A State Of Sleep and Rock Golem spring 2017.

2018 started with a lot of changes. The band parted with Christian and focused on writing new material and looking for new vocalist. After several auditions, CC contacted Johnny Olsen (former Moth Circus, Alien Ken), who Morten new from Alien Ken, where Johnny used to join on vocals occasionally. Johnny seemed to be the perfect match for CC and a new area begun!

The band is currently recording the new EP “Shun the Sun” due for release Autumn 2018, distributed on vinyl and digital. Mixed and Mastered by Kent Stump from Crystal Clear Sound – Recording Studio and Wo Fat fame, the EP will differ from earlier releases. Longer, heavier and more experimental songs, with the powerful, growling, yet melodic voice of Johnny. We are very excited to share the new music with you!

Captain Caravan on Thee Facebooks

Captain Caravan on Bandcamp

Captain Caravan website

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Friday Full-Length: Earthride, Vampire Circus

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 15th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Earthride, Vampire Circus (2005)

Like any long-lived scene, Maryland doom has watched ’em come and go. Bands get together, bands fall apart, mix members, grow into something else, etc. Lifers in anything are fewer and farther between. About 30 seconds into watching Dave Sherman front Earthride and there’s no imagining he’s anything else.

Sherman has fronted Earthride for over 20 years. The band got their start while he was still playing bass in the original incarnation of Spirit Caravan and released their self-titled debut EP in 2000 that was a clarion to the converted. Even more than the deeply weighted grooves and tonal low end thick enough to feel it in your chest, Earthride‘s Earthride was marked by a pervasive grit that would become a hallmark of the band along with classic-style hooks and a self-awareness of their place within the sphere of American doom. Over time, that place would only become more their own as they signed to Southern Lord Recordings for the release of their 2002 full-length debut, Taming of the Demons and its 2005 follow-up, Vampire Circus.

Both albums are nothing short of essential stoner doom. Earthride offer such a specific vision of what heavy is and should be, and on Vampire Circus, sometimes that’s aggressive, as with “Understand” and all its talk of coffin nails, and sometimes it’s just about following the riff, as on the bouncing title-track or the leadoff cut “Fighting the Devils Inside You,” which would become a hallmark of the band’s approach and the start of an opening salvo that by the time it’s done winds up comprising the entire first half of the record through the organ-laced “Dirtnap” and up to the aptly-titled “Interlude,” although quite frankly it’s not like there’s any dip in quality as “God’s Own Medicine” layers screams into its chorus and finds drummer Eric Little thudding out on his toms through verses telling tales of addiction horrors and igniting a chase with Kyle van Steinburg‘s guitar and Rob Hampshire‘s bass. Or anywhere, for that matter. The laid back fuzzer “Loss” follows with a mellow opening of drift that holds for nearly a minute and a half of its near-six-minute stretch. It’s a departure from the more straightforward material before it, but the character of the song is consistent to be sure, and even when it gets heavy — which, yes, it most certainly does — “Loss” retains that semi-psychedelic mood enough that it’s no surprise when it dips down again after the initial hook. Blues. Psychedelic blues. The chugging riff that emerges is quintessential Earthride in its nod, and van Steinburg makes a highlight of the solo just before the four-minute mark.

“Loss” is also a departure in its finish in that it jams out. As loose as Earthride sometimes sound in their ultra-swinging, cauldron-stirring rhythms on Vampire Circus, the structures of their songs are generally pretty straightforward. Cuts like “Fighting the Devils Inside You” and “Understand” and even “God’s Own Medicine” take a relatively traditional approach to craft: verses, choruses, bridges, solos, and so on. Identifiable parts making up the pieces that when put together make for memorable tracks. The ideal scenario, and an essential facet of Earthride‘s sound in terms of a deceptive simplicity that unfolds its true depths on repeated listens. Where “Loss” leaves that behind is after the aforementioned solo, as it moves back through a heavy chorus and into a spontaneous-sounding ending that makes one realize just how tight everything up to that point has been. It won’t belong before the speedy and winding “For Wrath and Ruin” is offering the advice to “Rip your head off and smoke your brain,” but even the context in which song appears is changed because of the breadth that “Loss” adds to entire album. And again, it’s subtle. It’s not something immediate. But it’s crucial to the overall impression the record makes.

Likewise, as much as “Fighting the Devils Inside You,” “Understand,” “Vampire Circus” and “Dirtnap” marked out their place at the start of Vampire Circus, so too does “For Wrath and Ruin” begin an ending salvo that’s quicker than just about anything before it. A reference to Black Sabbath‘s “Heaven and Hell” in the penultimate “The World I Live” is continually appreciated, and though it’s not as motoring as “For Wrath and Ruin” before it — some residual Spirit Caravan stylization there, perhaps; one can hear it too in “God’s Own Medicine,” and fair enough given Sherman‘s contributions to that band — the mood is still more uptempo than on the earlier material or even “Loss” after which the shift into the higher gear is made. “Swamp Witch” finishes and brings back the organ from “Dirtnap” — played by Mick Shauer, then also of Clutch — and finds itself capping Vampire Circus locked once more into a classic heavy midtempo groove, more Mountain than Sabbath, but with obvious Deep Purple overtones thanks to Shauer‘s guest spot.

Earthride are in conversation there and throughout with Southern metal and heavy blues — an engineering job from Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity is never going to hurt in that regard — but the real success of Vampire Circus lies in taking what Earthride were feeling out through the Earthride EP and Taming of the Demons and telling their audience, “this is ours,” owning their sound and truly making it their own. The album ends its 10-track/43-minute run cold with a sweep of organ keys and a sudden cutoff of the riff, as if to mark out the inevitability of more to come. It’d be five years before Earthride would answer Vampire Circus with 2010’s Something Wicked (review here) on Doomentia Records, and though the years subsequent would be a tumult, with Sherman taking part in the reunion of Spirit Caravan, that band’s becoming a revived The Obsessed and an eventual split there that found him going back to Earthride to release last year’s Witch Gun single (discussed here) through Salt of the Earth Records, the extended time between full-length outings has found Earthride nonetheless increasing their profile among Maryland’s always prolific doom underground. As I type this, they’re wrapping a tour with The Skull that finds Sherman joined by a new lineup that includes When the Deadbolt Breaks‘ Aaron Lewis on bass, and they’ll be making an appearance at Maryland Doom Fest 2018 next week in Frederick, where no doubt they’ll be greeted with the respect and admiration they’ve long deserved and reaped by a scene that considers them one of its own. I can’t wait to see it.

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

Coffee’s good this morning. It’s a little past 4:20 in the morning now and I’ve been up for about two hours. Enough time to make my way through a first pot off the Chemex with my lighter roast that I call The Obelisk Heavy Psych Blend, because I fantasize about someday having my own coffee in a way more than just filling out bean proportions on a web form through Dean’s Beans. There were talks for a minute there, but nothing seems to have come of it to-date. Oh well. In any case, coffee’s good. I’m on the last cup and I’d grind more but don’t want to wake the baby and thereby also The Patient Mrs., thus making myself Dickweed of the Morning, which is a role I’ve played too many times already.

We’ve been down in Jersey all week, staying at a house in Parsippany that used to belong to my grandmother, who passed away last September. I grew up about two minutes up the road, at a house in a neighborhood called Glacier Hills on a street called Forum Ct. where my mother still lives with my sister, her husband and their two sons. They just got a new kitten. It showed up in their driveway and they named it Solo, because Han, and Star Wars.

Saw them a lot this week, and it was great to be with my family. I’ve missed out on a lot with my nephews living in Massachusetts and it’s a little sad to see, but I’m happy for the time I’ve had with them. It’s not over, necessarily. The Patient Mrs. and I will be back here, but the next two weeks are more running around. We’re back up to Connecticut later today, then to Massachusetts on Monday until probably Wednesday. Wednesday we’re back to Connecticut because we’re hitting the Yankee game on Thursday — day game; bringing the baby to his first baseball game; so stoked — and I’m picking up my new camera at B&H in Manhattan, then it’s back here for the night and on to Maryland on Friday morning in time for the start of the aforementioned Maryland Doom Fest, which will be the first test of that camera. Going to be a crazy, packed weekend, but my goal is to see all of it. A couple late nights ahead. None of that going-to-sleep-at-8:30 stuff I’ve been doing for the last however long. Kind of bit me in the ass last night (earlier tonight?), I guess. I’ve always liked some me time on the overnights though. Music and coffee and the clacky of the keyboard. Mark it a win.

No doubt by this afternoon I’ll be saying something else.

I miss New Jersey. This is my home. I speak the way people here speak. The food here tastes right. The trees look the way I see trees when I close my eyes. Not that I have money to hit them, but I know where the record stores are and the fastest way to get to each. I know where to buy the pesto that it’s worth the 25 minutes to drive to buy.

Anyway.

Before all the shenanigans next weekend — I won’t close out next week because I’ll be writing over those days — next week is packed full. Subject to change, of course, but here’s what’s in the notes:

Mon.: Lord review/track premiere; Captain Caravan video; announcement from Ripple Music.
Tue.: Pushy review/track premiere; Death Hawks video.
Wed.: War Cloud video premiere. Maybe a review of the new Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters or something else.
Thu.: Mountain of Smoke review/track premiere.
Fri.: Announcement from Cursed Tongue Records. Review of something or other.

I lost a lot of stuff for the Quarterly Review when my laptop was stolen in the UK, including my notes for what would be included. I’ve built some of that back up, but am still down on a bunch of things I know are just gone. There may be reviews I promised to people that won’t happen now. I don’t even know. In any case, I should be good to go on it by the start of next month, the week of July 4, I think. It’s in the planning stage now, and behind schedule, obviously.

Not gonna leave on that bummer note though, but rather relish the opportunity to get to know a whole new crop of albums, EPs, and so on. I also confirmed this week that I’ll be attending SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal in August. More on that to come, but obviously I’m very much looking forward to it.

Thanks for reading this week, and if you’re at Maryland Doom Fest next weekend, I’ll hope to see you there. Fingers crossed that new camera happens/works. I’d feel like a dope standing there taking photos on my phone all weekend. Ha.

Please have a great and safe weekend. Forum and radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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The Machine Post “Crack You” Video; Faceshift Preorders Available

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the machine

Based on what I read in the band’s announcement for their new video and first public audio from their sixth full-length, I’m going to guess that ‘Crack You’ doesn’t necessarily speak for the entirety of The Machine‘s Faceshift from whence it comes. Because they say it doesn’t, and six records in, one can generally trust a band to know the difference. The Netherlands-based three-piece are set to release Faceshift next month through new imprint Awe Records — they were formerly on Elektrohasch — and though “Crack You” features a warm, heavy/desert rock tonality, The Machine over the years have moved beyond their initial post-Colour Haze jammy beginnings and, while still retaining some of that in their sound, have pushed into a more noise-rocking direction. Certainly that was the case on their fifth LP, 2015’s Offblast! (review here), and 2012’s Calmer than You Are (review here) might be the root of that change, coming as it did just a year after 2011’s Drie (review here). Each of their records, from 2007’s debut Shadow of the Machine and 2009’s Solar Corona onward, has been a clear step in their growth. No doubt the same holds true of Faceshift as well.

And though one would hardly listen to Shadow of the Machine and guess where the band would wind up 11 years later, The Machine have yet to release an outing that doesn’t make sense to their progressive arc. That is, especially with songs like “Crack You” at their disposal, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist/engineer David Eering, bassist Hans van Heemst — since out of the band and replaced for shows by Sander Haagmans, formerly of Sungrazer, who out out a split with The Machine in 2013 (review here) — and drummer Davy Boogaard are able to tie their noisier proclivities to the naturalist psychedelia of their earlier days. Offblast! did so with tracks like “Coda Sun” and “Dry End” and the stretched-out “Chrysalis (J.A.M.).” And while in their album announcement they said it would be their noisiest and harshest offering yet, “Crack You” features an accessible groove and little of the punk-derived duderism that one might expect. Presumably, they get there later on.

Preorders for Faceshift are up now — right now — via Awe Records ahead of the July 13 release date. CD and limited vinyl. The video for “Crack You” features footage in the studio and out, some of it new, with Haagmans on bass, some of it older, with van Heemst, who appears on the record. I’ll hope to have more to come ahead of the release, but you can check out the “Crack You” clip below, followed by the band’s announcement of it and the preorder link courtesy of the social medias.

Dig it:

The Machine, “Crack You” official video

We present you Crack You, the first track of our sixth album Faceshift. The album will be released on July 13 on CD and LP (180gr black and limited transparent magenta). To warm you up we’re starting out with the most easy listening and catchy track on the album.

Pre sale just started, the store is open. Go to www.awe-records.com and visit the shop to make a reservation.

Faceshift will be available on CD and 180gr vinyl (black/transparent magenta).

Orders will be shipped out starting from Monday July 16.

First gigs will be at ‘t Keldertje (event The Machine & Walden & Junkfood Lunchbox) on July 13 (release day) and Stoned From The Underground 2018 on July 14.

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Dust Lovers Premiere “End Title: Film Noir” Video; Announce Name Change & Album Reissue

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dust lovers

Somehow, it seems appropriate that The Texas Chainsaw Dust Lovers would do some chopping. What the cinema-obsessed aggro heavy rocking Parisian four-piece have lobbed off, however, is a goodly portion of their moniker. On June 24, they’ll issue their 2017 album — their third — Film Noir, on vinyl through Besta Records, and presumably that will make the name change official: they’re just Dust Lovers now. Doesn’t matter if it comes from a Texas chainsaw or anywhere else.

Why the change? Why not? Plus, it seems like Dust Lovers — the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Clément Collot, guitarist Nagui Méhany, drummer Christophe Hogommat and bassist Étienne Collot — are looking to be taken a little more seriously, and the long moniker was a little goofy. In addition to the forthcoming LP of Film Noir, they’ll head out to play Hellfest in their home country later this month, so it’s easy to argue it’s already working, and with Ennio Morricone, Elvis, Kyuss and other influences in dust lovers film noirtheir material, there’s nothing to pull the listener out of the moment when listening. Dust Lovers is a pretty cool name. You can see why they’d want to roll with it.

And as for Film Noir, it originally came out last October and runs a pretty wide stylistic gamut while featuring a central plotline just the same. There’s the spiritual “Come by the River” and the ringing tones of and big hooks of “Let it Bleed” as well as the surf-gone-heavy party rock — finger snaps and all — of “Martyr with a Plan” ahead of the Queens of the Stone Age-style push in “California sur Marne,” but at the finale, Film Noir closes with its title-track, “End Title: Film Noir,” and takes a more brooding approach, grinning through a lounge-style subdued groove while holding a tension of something more fiendish beneath.

The video — copping stylistic influence from Tarantino, Italian horror, and, yes, classic film noir — for the song does likewise. Directed by Collot, it’s a murderous tale of maybe-revenge with deep-hued colors and enough faux blood to officially qualify as at least one bucket, if not multiple buckets. Looks like a good time was had during its making.

You can see the premiere of “End Title: Film Noir” below and once again, that Film Noir reissue is out June 24. Wait a minute! That’s the same day they’re at Hellfest! You’d almost swear these things were planned out ahead of time.

Take yourself to film school:

Dust Lovers, “Film Noir” official video premiere

Dust Lovers on “End Title: Film Noir”:

The song “End Title: Film Noir” was thought and crafted like a movie’s end credits. Like at the end of a flick, when the audience take their breath again, while digesting what they just saw. We did this video like we make a video, it was crafted like a short movie. As usual, our vocalist Clément Collot directed the whole thing alongside a proper video team for two days. (French director) Godard once said “to make a movie, you need a woman and a gun.” That’s what we did, taking our cue from giallo movies and Italian horror movies à la Dario Argento.

DUST LOVERS (new name!) – New video « Film Noir » taken off their third album « Film Noir » released Oct. 20th, 2017. The album is reissued on vinyl via Besta Records on June 24th. The band will be playing at Hellfest on the Valley Stage, Sunday 24th June.

FILM NOIR-
Directed by Clem Colt
Music by Dust Lovers
Recorded by Sylvain Biguet and Chris Hogommat
Mix by Chris Hogommat
Mastering by Brent Asbury
2018 / HUURG!! FILMS / BESTA RECORDS

Dust Lovers are:
Clément Collot – Guitar & Vocals
Nagui Méhany – Guitar & Harmonica
Christophe Hogommat – Drums
Étienne Collot – Bass

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Kal-El Celebrate Fifth Anniversary in New Live Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

kal-el

Seems only fair that, as they marked five years of existence as a group earlier this Spring, Norway’s Kal-El should return to the place where it all began for a special show. The Stavenger outfit, who issued their third album, Astrodoomeda (review here), played their first gig in their hometown of Stavenger at a spot called The Martinique, and sure enough, they celebrated half a decade in the same spot, the four-piece of vocalist Captain Ulven, guitarist Roffe, bassist Liz and drummer Bjudas hitting into a special set that ran over an hour and seemed to really be an effort of love in the making. Captured by Blackie Davidson in its entirety, the video features Astrodoomeda cuts like “Atmosphere,” “Code of the Ancient and “Starlight Shade” among others like “7th Sun” and “Starmist” from 2015’s sophomore outing Echosphere,”Mothership” from that same year’s Cosmic Void EP, and “Fire Machine” from their 2013 debut LP, Pakal, covering its bases as regards their catalog and saving room at the end for a grand finale of three covers.

The first of those is Kyuss‘ “Green Machine,” which received a similar treatment on Astrodoomeda; more spaced out and slowed down than the original, stretching that signature riff’s punker edge into a distinct nod. Following that, Kal-El bring up Sindre Johnsen to play guitar alongside Roffe and dig into two Black Sabbath classics with “War Pigs” and “Hole in the Sky.” The latter was previously recorded and featured as a bonus track on Ecosphere, but I’m not sure they ever put out a version of “War Pigs.” Maybe on the first record. Either way, they’re obviously well familiar with one of doom and heavy rock’s formative staples, and Captain Ulven even goes so far to sing along to the riff near the end à la Ozzy on stage. Good fun the whole way around, and with as much time dedicated to their own material as there is leading up to the finish, one could hardly accuse Kal-El of shorting themselves in terms of focusing on their own songs.

Bottom line is it’s a special moment in the life of the band and they’re fortunate to have it recorded for posterity, nostalgia, or any other reason one might think of. Live album? Digital live album? Like I said, any reason they might think of. Kal-El aren’t necessarily due for a new record yet — Astrodoomeda will have been out for a year as of later this summer, and the band seem to have a pattern for odd-numbered years — but my understanding is they’ve started to put stuff together with an eye toward making a fourth full-length and no doubt something like stopping and taking even just a single evening to reflect on where they’ve been and what they’ve done as a band will play into what they do next, so that’s all the more reason to look forward to what’s coming next, but again, that’s a while off. For the moment, the Martinique show is available to check out for anyone who’d care to dig in, and you can find it below streaming in its entirety, followed by some comment from the band.

Please enjoy:

Kal-El, Live at The Martinique, May 19, 2018

Captain Ulven on Martinique show:

February 9th, 2013, was the date Kal-El played our first show after becoming a band. That happened just a few weeks before at Martinique Bar in Stavanger, Norway. We all came together after rehearsals and decided to give it our best and give the band a shot. So it was quite natural for us to have an intimate show for friends, fans and family. We have been doing tours all over the world, played all over the world, met our heroes, played with our heroes and been praised by our heroes met loads and loads of cool bands and guys, and all that in just five years. We have truly been blessed in a lot of ways, but still we can’t cracked the code on how to get the attention of the DesertFest guys so we could play on that festival (all of them!).

The show itself was amazing, even if extremely intimate and hot, we had a good crowd, friend on stage, friends offstage, loads of beer and only smiles and good times all the way to the promise land.

Kal-El are:
Cpt Ulven – Vocals
Roffe – Guitars
Liz – Bass
Bjudas – Drums

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