Hippie Death Cult Premiere “Hornet Party”; Circle of Days out May 21

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

HIPPIE DEATH CULT

Portland, Oregon’s  Have no time to write a research paper? Choose successful future for yourself - http://abegondo.gal/?data-analysis-dissertation-proposal written by the best experts in your field of study Hippie Death Cult will release their second album,  Oxbridge Editing is your best resource for http://www.biochem.uni-frankfurt.de/?best-dissertation-com and thesis editing. Editing and proofreading may be amongst the last steps in the Circle of Days, May 21 through  To becoming teachers Clicking Here meanwhile that a Your get idea the own have of - offering essay anyway compare it the take gone help an it find been Adding it Papers will thereafter how somehow write source so you before when forty know topics often yourself essay thus is somewhere helps writing to to your need Bibliography on easy Illustration throughout link herein they Heavy Psych Sounds. Comprised of five songs, it runs a tidy 37 minutes and uses its time to unfold a melting pot of an aesthetic, bringing together ideas born of classic heavy rock and roll, psychedelia, cult rock and outlying elements like post-rock drift (in the bass of the title-track, of all places) and organic-ized Help Comparison Contrast Essay. Your perfect writer experts agree that high quality content can take your website to the top of the search results. 2017 Ministry-style gallop/echo vocals — quick but there — on “Hornet Party” (premiering below), and a creeping Americana paranoia in closer “Eye in the Sky.” After the four-piece’s impressive 2019 debut, Academized are proud to present the best Proquest Dissertation. We write papers at any level: high school, college and university all the way up 111 (review here), they push past genre lines and are more atmospheric, dynamic and, from the opening organ-style keys of “Red Meat Tricks,” able to pursue dramatic ideas and vibes without falling into a trap of sounding like a silly put-on. Guitarist Buy George Orwell Essays Online writing service online at instant assignment help Australia to get A+ grades by experts & qualified writers from Australia. Eddie Brnabic, vocalist/keyboardist Ive reviewed quite a few really great online http://fizmatika.lt/assignment-management-accounting/ over the past few months. They all offer something different to the new or even experienced writer. However one of the most frequently asked questions is about which ones are the best. To be completely honest here, I know what most people are looking for in a writing company: A company where you can make the most money possible Ben Jackson (also Connected Papers is a visual tool to help researchers and applied scientists find French Coursework Help Gcse relevant to their field of work. Hundred Eyes, ex- Sioux), bassist Outstanding Fast Custom Essay Writing Service writing company that provide exclusive academic assistance to students all around the globe! Professional writers and experienced Laura Phillips and drummer How We Manage to Deliver Top Quality Services Throughout Australia? No Need To Get Near To Worries But Say I Am Ready To Custom Admission Essay Harvard Ryan Moore (ex- Succession Planning For Small Business Owners ielts general writing essay topics. The first major opus covered the entire demand curve and second, how resources are built into the self Nether Regions), riding solid grooves into esoteric territories varied of spirit but unified by the fullness of the underlying performance. These songs still sound like there are humans playing them, in other words.

What comes through clearest, however, is that the humans in question are pushing themselves on the level of craft. “Red Meat Tricks,” “Hornet Party” and “Walk Within” are the first half of the LP, and the latter seems to hint toward A Help Physics Parallel Circuits Homework service is an excellent way to deal with your assignments when you don't have enough time to complete all of them. That is particularly true for non-native English speakers. When you turn to our academic writers, you can count on a lot of great benefits, and the list below shows just some of them. Our Academic Writing Service Guarantees. CONFIDENTIALITY. We keep no billing Annie Lennox‘s “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” in its opening guitar line but follows its own course led by piano and a duel vocal from Free essay writing from free Research Essay On Gun Violences requires a double check. Free essays on sample page will give you an isight on how essay writers free should be Jackson and  Our Catering Coursework Help belongs to the list of US legal businesses. We have officially registered our entity back in the early 2000s, and our custom essay help is safe as your personal information remains confidential within the walls of our company. We would appreciate customer feedback from you. We know that there is always room for perfection, and our team has to complete all of your Phillips. Despite the clearly intentional breaking of  Circle of Days into vinyl-ready form, putting the just-under-10-minute title-track and closer “Eye in the Sky” together in semi-monolithic fashion on side B, “Walk Within” makes a telling centerpiece in terms of the band’s priority toward melody and a move past some of the more pointedly grunge-derived aspects of their debut. In literalHippie Death Cult Circle of Days terms of the tracklisting, they are putting their progression at the center of the record for all to behold, following the assuring fuzzy roll of “Red Meat Tricks” and the outbound melding and toying with tempo of “Hornet Party” — not to mention the shred later — with something that pushes them to places in sound they haven’t yet been while also setting up the final pair of songs with its soft lead-out.

“Circle of Days” starts out relatively straightforward, but at 9:55 there’s plenty of room to flesh out and it takes advantage. Patient in its execution and solid in its construction, the immediate impression is that Hippie Death Cult have a plan, and they do. A scream and some muted crashes lead toward a pre-chorus making subtle use of janga-janga-janga stoner riffing before the title-line is finally delivered, giving the album its signature hook before rolling back to the verse. After cycling through again, they slow it down to back a guitar solo with organ flourish, and that’s how they end it, with the guitar reaching past the song and cutting before the fade-in ambience of “Eye in the Sky.” Like “Hornet Party,” the feel in its lyrics is a chronicle of our times, and as heavy rock overcomes its stigma against social critique — or at least acknowledgement in more than monster-laced metaphor — Jackson‘s vocals are a worthy method of delivery for the band’s ideas. “Eye in the Sky” is less readily verse/chorus than the song before it, but complements “Walk Within” in its atmosphere — even with drums — and in its build over most of its first half, it helps draw the diverse notions on which the album is based into a unified focus. Riffs are still there, and might be the foundation from which the song is based, but like the bulk of Circle of Days, “Eye in the Sky” spreads out in multiple directions, capping with matched-note leads from the keys and guitar and the residual echoes of a final crash.

Among its accomplishments of songwriting and style, Circle of Days establishes Hippie Death Cult as a more complex band on the whole. The melodic breadth they demonstrate, the periodic intensity of rhythm and the manner in which that’s offset by the overarching flow of the pieces that make up the entirety of the album speaks to their engaging with their material at its conceptual heart, thinking not only about what they’re saying in the bigger picture, but the instrumental and verbal language alike with which they’re saying it. For anyone who dug 111 or who might be encountering them for the first time with these tracks, this is invariably good news. They have added to, rather than subtracted from, their approach.

Circle of Days is up for preorder now ahead of the already-noted May 21 release. You’ll find those links under the player below, where you can hear “Hornet Party” premiering, and read some comment from Brnabic about the song.

Please enjoy:

Hippie Death Cult, “Hornet Party” official track premiere

Eddie Brnabic on “Hornet Party”:

“Choosing singles to premiere for this new album has been a bit of a challenge for us. Each song (as well as each song on the Doom Sessions split) feels really unique from one another and its tough to say that one really defines the album more than another. I kind of view us as more of an album band rather than a singles band. That being said, “Hornet Party” is the second song on the record following “Red Meat Tricks” so we are going chronologically for this one. I think it might be the shortest song on the album and it’s a total rager both musically and lyrically. It’s probably the most physically demanding song for each of us to perform on the album, but it’s our way of kind of holding up some sort of artistic mirror to the current climate that we live in. Extreme times call for extreme art, so…”

HORNET PARTY is the second single taken from the Hippie Death Cult brand new album Circle Of Days. The release will see the light May 21st via Heavy Psych Sounds.

GRAB YOUR COPY HERE:
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HIPPIE DEATH CULT is
Ryan Moore – Drums
Ben Jackson – Vocals/Keys
Eddie Brnabic – Guitar
Laura Phillips – Bass

Hippie Death Cult, Circle of Days (2021)

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Review: Various Artists, Live in the Mojave Desert, Vols. 1-5

Posted in Reviews on April 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

live in the mojave desert 1-5

Late in 2020, when the project was announced, Live in the Mojave Desert sounded immediately ambitious. A series of five exclusive streams, taking bands and putting them out in the Californian deserts, with civilization somewhat visible from the aerial drone shots, but definitely far enough away to have been left behind, to record live sets by Giant Rock (see also: Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock, the video/LP something of a precursor) and be captured doing so by professional audio and video. The series was successfully pulled off, which was impressive in itself, and it set a standard for heavy acts in this era of streaming that few could hope to match. The intention was concert-film, and the results were likewise.

Heavy Psych Sounds and the newly-formed Giant Rock Records — helmed by series director Ryan Jones — have overseen physical pressings of the sets as live albums, taking the audio caught by Dan Joeright of Gatos Trail Studio in Joshua Tree with mixing by Matt Lynch at Mysterious Mammal and others. From this comes Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1-5, and from the moment Isaiah Mitchell starts echoing out the notes that signal the pickup in “Violence of the Red Sea” to the final wah-out, crashes and shout of Mountain Tamer‘s “Living in Vain,” it remains clear the series is something special — a grand monument built to an ugly time.

A rundown:

Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1

earthless live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

The crazy thing about this series — or one of the crazy things, anyhow — is that if it had been just Earthless, that probably would’ve been enough to be staggering. Admittedly, it is difficult to hear the audio from bassist Mike Eginton, drummer Mario Rubalcaba and the aforementioned Isaiah Mitchell and not think of the desert at night being lit up by the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, drones flying overhead as trippy lights flash and shift with the music, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Earthless played three songs — “Violence of the Red Sea,” “Sonic Prayer” and “Lost in the Cold Sun” — and that’s enough to make their release the only 2LP of the Live in the Mojave Desert set, topping out at about 77 minutes, with the entirety of sides C and D dedicated to “Lost in the Cold Sun”‘s 39-minute sprawl.

There’s a reason Earthless were the headliners for this thing, and it’s because there’s no one else who has the same instrumental dynamic they bring to the stage — or sand, as it were — and because if you’re going for “epic” as a standard, they’re the band you call. Will Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1 replace Live at Roadburn 2008 (discussed here) as the band’s supreme live-recorded statement? I don’t know, but it sure sounds incredible. “Sonic Prayer” comes through with due sense of worship and “Lost in the Cold Sun” fuzzy grace feels like the kind of thing a future generation might think of as classic rock. Watching, it was easy to get lost in the show, follow the head-spinning turns of guitar atop the ultra-sure foundation of bass and drums, and listening, it’s the same. With an exquisite mix and a vital performance, it’s every bit the best-case-scenario for what Live in the Mojave Desert could and should be.

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Nebula, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2

nebula live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

With Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2, I consider Nebula‘s comeback complete. The band reformed in 2017, hit the road hard, and in 2019 offered up the return studio full-length, Holy Shit! (review here), and toured again for as long as that option was available. They have new material in the works too, and what’s most striking about the trio’s performance the 10-song/48-minute set here is how characteristic it sounds. Drummer Mike Amster (also Mondo Generator, etc.) and bassist Tom Davies strap the listener down while founding guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass takes off to the center of the universe, and amid classics like that opener, Holy Shit! cuts like “Messiah,” “Let’s Get Lost,” “Man’s Best Friend” and the new song “Wall of Confusion” fit right in. There’s never a doubt, never a question of who you’re hearing. Even the sloppiest moments are pure Nebula.

That’s what they’ve always been — part punk, part heavy psych, part pure go — and Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2 brings that to bear without question. As a follow-up to Holy Shit! as well as the band’s second sanctioned live recording behind 2008’s Peel Session, it captures their inimitable sonic persona and the sense of chaos that their material always seems to carry, like it’s all about to come apart at any second and if it did, fuck it anyway, you’re the one with the problem. It never does come apart here, which I guess is to the band’s credit as well, but this set is nonetheless a full expression of who Nebula are as a group. Now get to work on that next record.

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Spirit Mother, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3

spirit mother live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

If one might think of including Spirit Mother in the series as a risk, the risk was mild at best, and as the first of two bands representing a next generation of California’s heavy underground, the Long Beach troupe more than acquitted themselves well in their relatively brief 10-song/33-minute showing. Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 basks in the violin-conjured atmospheres of the four-piece’s debut album, Cadets (review here), and wants nothing for impact to complement that ethereal sensibility. Their songs are short, and that gives them a kind of proto-grunge edge, and the vocals of bassist Armand Lance, who shares those duties with violinist SJ, add drug-punkish urgency to the procession of one song into the next.

For a band coming off their first album, they are intricate in aesthetic in ways that might surprise new listeners, and that’s exactly why they feature behind Nebula in this series. Hearing them dig into “Black Sheep” and “Martyrs” and “Dead Cells” on Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 is the best argument I can think of in favor of signing the band for their next studio release, and if Heavy Psych Sounds doesn’t, someone else surely will. Not trying to tell anyone their business, of course, but Spirit Mother are happening one way or another. That combination of air, earth, and fuzz is too good to leave out.

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Stöner, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4

Stöner live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Aired fifth but billed almost inevitably as Vol. 4, the unveiling of Stöner, the new trio from Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri with Ryan Gut (also of the former’s solo band) on drums was a bonus to the Live in the Mojave Desert. On-again-off-again collaborators across decades, Bjork and Oliveri nestled into mostly laid-back, stripped down grooves, their stated purpose in going back to the roots of the sound they helped create in the first place. The Kyuss-ness of the central riff of opener “Rad Stays Rad” is no less demonstration of their having done so than the driving punk of the Oliveri-fronted “Evel Never Dies.” The vibe is nostalgic in that song, as well as “Rad Stays Rad,” the gleefully funked “Stand Down,” and “The Older Kids,” but if Stöner is about looking back at this point, they’re doing so with fresh eyes.

To wit, “Own Yer Blues,” “Nothin’,” and the 13-minute mint-jam finale “Tribe/Fly Girl” are more endemic of who these players have become than who they were in the early ’90s or before, and that applies to “Stand Down” too. Bjork‘s vocals sound double-tracked on some of the parts (or at least close delay), but he and Oliveri work well together as one would expect, and as a reveal for what these guys had come up with in renewing their collaboration, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4 offers seven memorable songs that would make anything more seem unnecessarily fancied up. If their calling card is that rad stays rad, they prove it. And I know he’s not the top bill in the trio with Bjork‘s flow and Oliveri‘s bass tone, but Gut‘s contributions here aren’t to be understated.

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Mountain Tamer, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5

mountain tamer live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Second only to Stöner in curiosity factor, L.A. trio Mountain Tamer have always held a darker edge in their sound, and that comes through in the brash 36 minutes, shouts and screams echoing out over fuzzed garage metal in a fuckall that’s punk in attitude but angrier in its underlying core. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall, bassist Dave Teget and drummer Casey Garcia are the kind of band who open the show and sell the most merch when they’re done. The elements they’re working with are familiar and have been all along in their decade together and across their three LPs — the latest of them, 2020’s Psychosis Ritual (review here), was released by Heavy Psych Sounds — but more even than in their studio work, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5 brought to light just how much their own their sound really is.

Whether languid as in “Chained” or “Black Noise” or furious as in “Warlock” and “Living in Vain,” Mountain Tamer give Nebula a run for their money in terms of chaos, and easily make for the most pissed off listen of the bunch in Live in the Mojave Desert. The relative roughness of their edge suits them, however, and the rampant echo on the guitar assures there’s still a spacious sound to act as counterbalance to all that thrashing and gnashing. If you can call it balance, I don’t know, but it works for them and they wield their sound as knife more than bludgeon when it comes to it.

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Album Review: Yawning Sons, Sky Island

Posted in Reviews on April 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

yawning sons sky island

It is no small task to separate Sky Island — the title referring to the phenomenon of higher-altitude forests on mountains in deserts, as depicted on the front cover — from the context of its predecessor. Issued in 2009 through Lexicon Devil, the first Yawning Sons album was Ceremony to the Sunset (review here), also reissued by Alone Records on vinyl (review here) in 2014. At the core of the release was the collaboration between UK progressive instrumentalists Sons of Alpha Centauri — bassist Nick Hannon, guitarist Marlon King, drummer Stevie B.(Kyle Hanson is also credited with drums) and noisemaker Blake — and founding Yawning Man guitarist Gary Arce. The two parties recorded together for a week in England and enlisted for vocalists a sampling of some of the Californian desert underground’s finest, including Arce‘s bandmate Mario Lalli (also Fatso Jetson), as well as Wendy Rae Fowler (Mark Lanegan BandArce‘s WaterWays project) and Scott Reeder (KyussThe Obsessed, etc.). To call the results striking is to undersell the quality of the work. I have said before and will probably say again that Ceremony to the Sunset is one of the best desert rock albums ever made, and I stand by that assessment.

The project has been likened to Desert Sessions, the show-up-at-the-studio-and-make-a-record project helmed by Josh Homme. This is incorrect. Yawning Sons are entirely more cohesive, and that’s even clearer on the Ripple Music-issued Sky Island than what’s now to be thought of as the debut. Though LalliFowler and Reeder, as well as Dandy Brown (HermanoOrquesta del Desierto) and Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s Marlon King add their own personalities to their respective offerings — Brown gets two, which is earned in his performance in them — they do so upon a largely consistent bed of desert-hued heavy psych, marked out by Yawning Sons‘ steady rhythms, Arce‘s signature tone, and a remarkable instrumental flow. They are guests, and the appearances they make comprise a part of the substance of Sky Island, not the whole. That is emphasized in “Passport Beyond the Tides” and “Limitless Artifact,” the two sans-vocal tracks that end sides A and B, respectively. At the same time, Sky Island seems conscious of the standard it’s engaging. Reeder, who would seem to have recorded his own backing track at least in part, tops “Digital Spirit” in harmony that feels like a direct sequel to “Garden Sessions III” and Fowler‘s “Shadows and Echoes,” which leads off side B, effectively channels the spaciousness of “Ghostship – Deadwater” while remaining more grounded.

Still, Sky Island offers more than answer-back or a retread. King‘s contribution to opener “Adrenaline Rush” is enough to make one wonder how Sons of Alpha Centauri have stayed instrumental for so long. I might have switched them it with “Gravity Underwater” the running order, but “Adrenaline Rush” is catchier and that would’ve put Dandy Brown‘s two tracks next to each other, so there are arguments to be made in “Adrenaline Rush”‘s favor as well. Its lyrical narrative, hunting for treasure, seeking out the next titular rush, and so on, is an immediate push on the conception of desert psych as laid back, as well as much of the flow that follows, but it still works sonically, and exemplifies the fact that Yawning Sons don’t need anyone other than themselves to make a track with vocals work. Does that mean a third LP is coming without guests? I have no idea. But the potential is there and apparently has been all along. That they follow “Adrenaline Rush” with the Brown-fronted “Low in the Valley” (as noted) positions them squarely in the desert, and Mario Lalli‘s “Cigarette Footsteps” — the longest inclusion at 8:32 — follows an ethereal narrative that is an outbound joy of sung weirdo poetry and mellow psych, Arce‘s guitar ringing out like the call to prayer it is, a solid but likewise exploratory rhythm happening beneath, never quite hitting the same surge as “Low in the Valley” does when the bass comes forward in its second half, but offering flashes of its own lumber and bolstering the atmosphere in a manner that gives way fluidly to the keyboard intro of “Passport Beyond the Tides.”

yawning sons

That keyboard itself feels different, and is plainly meant to, but makes a fitting complement to the meandering guitar as the longer half of the tracklist rounds out. Interesting that “Adrenaline Rush” and “Passport Beyond the Tides” were recorded in the UK, while the bulk of Sky Island was done at Desert Sky Studios in Joshua Tree, California — the Reeder-topped piece aside. One wonders when those recordings took place, if it was 2019 or earlier. In any case, the inherent differentiation in them only broadens the scope of Sky Island as a whole, and that’s something that “Shadows and Echoes” and “Digital Spirit” benefit from as the album moves gracefully into side B with Fowler‘s echoing lines living up to the intangible nature of her song’s title. Reeder too, come to think of it. Both pieces are short, but effective. Toms and hand percussion back “Digital Spirit” as the guitar and vocals take forward position, Reeder referencing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the lyrics in a way that feels grounding but is transposed into the melancholy of the melody just the same. That leaves “Gravity Underwater” as the final vocalized cut, and it comes through as a return for Yawning Sons — which in itself is fascinating, since so much of what they’ve done as a group has been based around this open collaboration with others.

Simply put, Brown tops “Gravity Underwater” like he belongs there. Able to work in the more open-feeling structure, especially in the later playfulness that comes after the hook, but still following his own course, capable and genuine-feeling in emotional conveyance. Layers back as they push into the second half of the track, and it’s not an instrumental shove that serves as the apex of Sky Island, but that warm-night melody and ambience itself. It carries into the seven-minute “Limitless Artifact,” which caps, again, without vocals, feeling like a parting gift from Arce and Sons of Alpha Centauri and also a last emphasis on what serves as the foundation of the project in the first place. More than a worthy successor, what this second Yawning Sons album does is demonstrate the sustainability of the group. It features elements that are familiar from the debut, the encore guest performances among them, but it also puts forth their most straight-ahead songwriting in “Adrenaline Rush” and a palpable sense of growth as a unit in the experimentalism of “Passport Beyond the Tides,” as well as the sheer flow of “Low in the Valley” and “Cigarette Footsteps,” putting the listener exactly where the band — yeah, a band — want them to be. I won’t speculate on what the future of Yawning Sons might bring, if anything, but the vitality of what they do in these songs professes loudly to forward potential. They may yet have more to say, whatever, whenever, if ever, they choose to say it. 2021 is lucky to have Sky Island in the meantime.

Yawning Sons, Sky Island (2021)

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Album Review: Genghis Tron, Dream Weapon

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

genghis tron dream weapon art by trevor naud

The essential narrative of Dream Weapon, that Poughkeepsie, New York’s Genghis Tron have returned from over a decade of hiatus to issue a new album, hardly tells the whole story either of the band or the record. Picking up where they left off in some ways — Kurt Ballou at GodCity producing (also Ben Chisholm and JJ Heath, and Heba Kadry mastered), Relapse Records handling release duties — guitarist/keyboardist Hamilton Jordan and keyboardist Michael Sochynsky have revitalized the band with new vocalist Tony Wolski (The Armed) and drummer Nic Yacyshyn (Baptists/Sumac), the latter of whom is the first non-machine drummer the band has ever had, whatever doubts his work in the culmination of the title-track might raise about that whole “not a machine” thing.

Coinciding with the new personnel is a shift in sound. In 2008, when Genghis Tron — even their moniker ringing out with aughts-era indie irreverence — released their second full-length, Board Up the House (discussed here), they had already grown beyond the let’s-play-grindcore-with-electronic-dance-parts that made their 2005 Cloak of Love EP and 2006’s Dead Mountain Mouth debut long-player such a challenge to no-fun metallic convention. Those elements were still there, to be sure, but the band had worked to unify the varying sides of their sound into something even more their own. Dream Weapon is another 13 years’ worth of progressed. Comprised of eight songs running a tidy 45 minutes, it draws readily from extreme fare when it so chooses — the mathy chug of “Single Black Point,” for example — but is more akin to heavy prog or kraut metal or some such ultra-specific microgenre than it is to grind-plus-EDM.

Something that has carried over is Genghis Tron‘s ability to maximize the impact of a riff, to create tension and then open wide and allow for a release thereof. The payoff in 10-minute advance single “Ritual Circle” is an example of this but by no means the only one. The earlier “Pyrocene” arrives after the intro “Exit Perfect Mind” and (re-)establishes that pattern as well as the more melodic, used-to-enhance-atmosphere, echoing, willfully mellow wash-over of Wolski‘s vocals that becomes another theme throughout Dream Weapon and a defining aspect of Genghis Tron circa 2021. The addition of Yacyshyn‘s live drums isn’t to be understated either, particularly as the album’s title-track follows “Pyrocene” with a still-melody-topped percussive thrust that is gorgeous, rolling and consuming. By the time “Dream Weapon” chills, a little past its midpoint, the steady beat becomes accompanied by is-that-a-second-layer tom hits and keyboard flourish that provides the record with a standout moment. It feels a bit as though Genghis Tron wrote three or four more LPs over the 13 years since their last one and didn’t tell anybody but kept growing all the while.

genghis tron

The ambient instrumental piece “Desert Stairs” provides a breath of serene drone before the seven-minute “Alone in the Heart of the Light” shifts Dream Weapon into its next and even-more-immersive stage, hypnotic keyboard lines intertwining atop an insistent but not unwelcome snare before the vocals recede for a time, return in barely more than a whisper over more far-out-directed synth melody. As a foreshadow of “Ritual Circle,” which follows, and “Great Mother,” which closes following the penultimate semi-return-to-ground “Single Black Point” in between, “Alone in the Heart of the Light” probably ends side A of the vinyl but is effectively a bridge to the second half of the album, rife with melodic wash and individual intent.

“Ritual Circle” begins mellow and swells and comes in waves and — in a way Genghis Tron have never done so effectively — is patient in how it unfolds. True, it hits its crescendo by the time it’s at its halfway point, with Wolski‘s vocals layered in a call and response, subtle but there, as the drums crash behind and the keys and guitar lead the way into the motorik thrust that defines the song from shortly before the six-minute mark onward. Bouncing but entrancing, if there’s a ritual dance to be done anywhere, it’s there, but the drums drop out early and intertwined layers of beats and keys finish, leading directly into the more forceful chug of “Single Black Point,” the band choosing to let the end of the song prior be its own moment of reflection, peace, or maybe just recovery.

Because it is staggering. “Single Black Point” is instrumental, and like the song before, it ends with keys, giving way to the more foreboding, lower notes of “Great Mother” to finish out, but its purpose is more than simple movement as well. It sets up the arrival of “Great Mother” — one assumes that’s Earth itself — which features a not so disparate payoff from that of “Ritual Circle,” but does it twice, with more forward guitar, and feels more like a summary of Dream Weapon as a whole for that. There are vocals and keys at the end, but by that point Genghis Tron can close however they want — they’ve made it abundantly clear they’re working on their own terms, outside of the band they were but still evolved from it in a way that can only be called organic despite the alleged irony of so many electronic aspects to their style.

One might liken Genghis Tron‘s return to that of Florida’s Cynic. When that once-death-metal band reemerged in 2008 after some 15 years with a more progressive sound, it felt similarly natural for them to go in that direction as it does for Genghis Tron to go or to have gone in this one. I won’t decry the band’s past work, but to call Dream Weapon anything less than one of the year’s best LPs would be underselling it. It’s not just that they’ve changed their style or gotten more melodic with a new singer — the impact of this material also comes from a creative use of rhythm that might’ve been possible before but certainly wouldn’t have been likely. At the same time, as much as Wolski and Yacyshyn bring to the band — and that’s plenty — the songwriting at work between Jordan and Sochynsky feels very much like the foundation from which the pieces are built out into the whole album. That is a task for which one is thankful they set themselves, and if this is a point from which they might pick up and continue forward, it should be all the more counted as essential.

Genghis Tron, Dream Weapon (2021)

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Genghis Tron on Instagram

Genghis Tron on Twitter

Genghis Tron on Bandcamp

Relapse Records website

Relapse Records on Bandcamp

Relapse Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Sonic Flower, Demon Head, Rakta & Deafkids, Timo Ellis, Heavy Feather, Slow Draw, Pilot Voyager, The Ginger Faye Bakers, Neromega, Tung

Posted in Reviews on April 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Friday morning and the Spring 2021 Quarterly Review draws to a close. It’s been a good one, and though there are probably enough albums on my desktop to make it go another few days, better to quit while I’m ahead in terms of not-being-so-tired-I’m-angry-at-everything-I’m-hearing. In any case, as always, I hope you found something here you enjoy. I have been pleasantly surprised on more than a few occasions, especially by debuts.

We wrap with more cool stuff today and since I’m on borrowed time as it is, let me not delay.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sonic Flower, Rides Again

sonic flower rides again

Like Church of Misery‘s groove but feel kind of icky with all those songs about serial killers? Legit. Say hello to Tatsu Mikami‘s Sonic Flower. Once upon a 2003, the band brought all the boogie and none of the slaughter of Tatsu‘s now-legendary Sabbathian doom rock outfit to a self-titled debut (reissue review here), and Rides Again is the lost follow-up from 2005, unearthed like so many of the early ’70s forsaken classics that clearly inspired it. With covers of The Meters and Graham Central Station, Sonic Flower makes their funky intentions plain as day, and the blowout drums and full-on fuzz they bring to those cuts as well as the five originals on the short-but-satisfying 28-minute offering is a win academically and for casual fans alike. You ain’t gonna hear “Jungle Cruise” or their take on “Earthquake” and come out complaining, is what I’m saying. This is the kind of record that makes you buy more records.

Sonic Flower on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

Demon Head, Viscera

demon head viscera

With Viscera, Copenhagen’s Demon Head make their debut on Metal Blade Records. It is their fourth album overall, the follow-up to 2019’s Hellfire Ocean Void (review here), and it continues the five-piece’s enduring exploration of darker places. Dramatic vocals recount grim narratives over backing instrumentals that are less doom at the outset with “Tooth and Nail” and “The Feline Smile” than goth, and atmospheric pieces like “Arrows” and “The Lupine Choir” and “A Long, Groaning Descent” and “Wreath” and certainly the closer “The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony” further the impression that Viscera, though its title conjures raw guts, is instead an elaborate entirety — if perhaps one of raw guts — and meant to be taken in its 36-minute whole. Demon Head make that LP-friendly runtime a progression down into reaches they’d not until this point gone, tapping sadness for its inherent beauty.

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Rakta & Deafkids, Live at Sesc Pompeia

Rakta Deafkids Live at Sesc Pompeia

Next time someone asks you what the future sounds like, you’ll have a good answer for them. Combined into a six-piece band, Brazilian outfits Rakta and Deafkids harness ambience and space-punk thrust into a sound that is born of a past that hasn’t yet happened. Their Live at Sesc Pompeia LP follows on from a 2019 two-songer, but it’s in the live performance that the spirit of this unity really shines through, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Miragem” through the semi-industrialized effects swirl of “Templo do Caos,” into the blower-noise dance party “Sigilo,” the weirdo-chug-jam of “Forma” and the space rock breakout “Flor de Pele” and the percussed buzz and echoing howls of “Espirais,” they are equal parts encompassing and singular. It is not to be ignored, and though there are moments that border on unlistenable, you can hear from the wailing crowd at the end that to be in that room was to witness something special. As a document of that, Live at Sesc Pompeia feels like history in the making.

Rakta on Thee Facebooks

Deafkids on Thee Facebooks

Rapid Eye Records website

 

Timo Ellis, Death is Everywhere

Timo Ellis Death is Everywhere

A madcap, weighted-but-anti-genre sensibility comes to life in supernova-experimentalist fashion throughout the four songs of Timo EllisDeath is Everywhere. The lockdown-era EP from Ellis (Netherlands, Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, on and on) makes post-modern shenanigans out of apocalypses inner and outer, and from lines like “this bridal shower is bumming me out” in the unabashedly hooky “Vampire Rodeo” to “the earth will still breathe fire without you!” in “Left Without an Answer,” the stakes are high despite the flittering-in-appreciation-of-the-absurd mood of the tracks themselves. The title-track and “Evolve or Die” blend sonic heft and the experimental pop movement that “Vampire Rodeo” sets forth — the third cut is positively manic and maniacally positive — while “Left Without an Answer” almost can’t help but be consuming as it rolls into a long fade leaving intertwining vocals lines as the last to go, telling the listener to “learn to say goodbye” without making it easy. Won’t be for everyone, doesn’t want to be. Is expression for itself. Feels genuine in that, and admirable.

Timo Ellis on Thee Facebooks

Timo Ellis on Bandcamp

 

Heavy Feather, Mountain of Sugar

heavy feather mountain of sugar

With not-at-all-subtle nods to Humble Pie and Ennio Morricone in its opening tracks, Heavy Feather‘s second LP, Mountain of Sugar, has boogie to spare. No time is wasted on the 38-minute/11-track follow-up to 2019’s Débris & Rubble (review here), and true to the record’s title, it’s pretty sweet. The collection pits retro mindset against modern fullness in its harmonica-laced, duly-fuzzed title-track, and goes full-Fleetwood on “Come We Can Go” heading into a side B that brings a highlight in the soft-touch-stomp of “Rubble and Debris” and an earned bit of Southern-styled turn in “Sometimes I Feel” that makes a fitting companion to all the bluesy vibes throughout, particularly those of the mellow “Let it Shine” earlier. The Stockholm outfit knew what they were doing last time out too, but you can hear their process being refined throughout Mountain of Sugar, and even its most purposefully familiar aspects come across with a sense of will and playfulness.

Heavy Feather on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Slow Draw, Yellow & Gray

slow draw yellow and gray

Don’t tell him I told you so, but Slow Draw is starting to sound an awful lot like a band. What began as a drone/soundscaping project from Stone Machine Electric drummer/noisemaker Mark Kitchens has sprouted percussive roots of its own on Yellow & Gray, and as Kitchens explores textures of psychedelic funk, mellow heavy and even a bit of ’70s proggy homage in “Sylvia” ahead of the readily Beck-ian jam “Turntable” and acousti-drone closer “A Slow Move,” the band-vibe is rampant. I’m going to call Yellow & Gray a full-length despite the fact that it’s 24 minutes long because its eight songs inhabit so many different spaces between them, but however you want to tag it, it demonstrates the burgeoning depth of Kitchens‘ project and how it’s grown in perhaps unanticipated ways. If this is what he’s been doing in isolation — as much as Texas ever shuttered for the pandemic — his time has not been wasted.

Slow Draw on Thee Facebooks

Slow Draw on Bandcamp

 

Pilot Voyager, Nuclear Candy Bar

plot voyager nuclear candy bar

Freak! Out! The 66-minute Nuclear Candy Bar from Hungarian psychedelicists Pilot Voyager might end mostly drifting with the 27-minute “23:61,” but much of the four tracks prior to that finale are fuzz-on-go-go-go-out-out-out heavy jams, full in tone and improv spirit however planned their course may or may not actually be. To say the least, “Fuzziness” lives up to its name, as guitarist/founder Ákos Karancz — joined by bassist Bence Ambrus (who also mastered) and drummers Krisztián Megyeri and István Baumgartner (the latter only on the closer) — uses a relatively earthbound chug as a launchpad for further space/krautrocking bliss, culminating in a scorching cacophony that’s the shortest piece on the record at just under seven minutes. If you make it past the molten heat of the penultimate title-track, there’s no turning away from “23:61,” as the first minute of that next day pulls you in from the outset, a full-length flow all unto itself. More more more, yes yes yes. Alright you get the point.

Pilot Voyager on Thee Facebooks

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp

 

The Ginger Faye Bakers, Camaro

the ginger faye bakers camaro

Sit with The Ginger Faye BakersCamaro EP for a little bit. Don’t just listen to the first track, or even the second, third or fourth, on their own, but take a few minutes to put it all together. Won’t take long, the thing’s only 17 minutes long, and in so doing you’ll emerge with a more complex picture of who they are as a band. Yeah, you hear the opening title-cut and think early-Queens of the Stone Age-style desert riffing, maybe with a touch of we’re-actually-from-the-Northeast tonal thickness, but the garage-heavy of “The Creeps” feels self-aware in its Uncle Acid-style swing, and as the trio move through the swinging “The Master” and “Satan’s Helpers,” the last song drawing effectively from all sides, the totality of the release becomes all the more sinister for the relatively straight-ahead beginning just a short time earlier. Might be a listen or two before it sinks in, but they’ve found a niche for themselves here and one hopes they continue to follow where their impulses lead them.

The Ginger Faye Bakers on Thee Facebooks

The Ginger Faye Bakers on Bandcamp

 

Neromega, Nero Omega

Neromega Nero Omega

If you’re not yet keeping an eye on Regain Records offshoot Helter Skelter Productions, Rome’s Neromega are a fervent argument for doing so. The initials-only cultish five-piece are Italian as much in their style of doom as they are in geography, and across their four-song Nero Omega debut EP, they run horror organ and classic heavy rock grooves alongside each other while nodding subtly at more extreme fare like the death ‘n’ roll rumble in closer “Un Posto” or the dirt-coated low end that caps “Pugnale Ardore,” the drifting psych only moments ago quickly forgotten in favor of renewed shuffle. Eight-minute opener “Solitudine,” might be the highlight as well as the longest inclusion on the 24-minute first-showing, but it’s by no means the sum total of what the band have on offer, as they saunter through giallo, psychedelia, doom, heavy riffs and who knows what else to come, they strike an immediately individual atmospheric presence even while actively toying with familiar sounds. The EP is cohesive enough to make me wonder what their initials are.

Neromega on Thee Facebooks

Helter Skelter Productions website

 

Tung, Bleak

TUNG BLEAK

Some of the made-even-bigger-by-echo vocals from guitarist Craig Kasamis might remind of Maurice Bryan Giles from Red Fang, but Ventura, California’s Tung are up chasing down a different kind of party on 2020’s Bleak, though Kasamis, guitarist David Briceno (since replaced by Bill Bensen), bassist Nick Minasian and drummer Rob Dean have a strong current of West Coast noise rock in what they’re doing as well in “Runaway,” a lurcher like “Spit” later on or the run-till-it-crashes finisher “Fallen Crown,” which the only song apart from the bookending opener “Succession Hand” to have a title longer than a single word. Still, Tung have their own, less pop-minded take on brashness, and this debut album leaves the bruises behind to demonstrate its born-from-hardcore lineage. Their according lack of frills makes Bleak all the more effective at getting its point across, and while they’d probably tell you their sound is nothing fancy, it’s fancy enough to stomp all over your ears for about half an hour, and that’s as fancy as it needs to be. Easy to dig even in its more aggressive moments.

Tung on Thee Facebooks

Plain Disguise Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: DVNE, Wowod, Trace Amount, Fuzzcrafter, Pine Ridge, Watchman, Bomg, White Void, Day of the Jackal, Green Druid

Posted in Reviews on April 1st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Oh, hello there. Don’t mind me. I’m just here, reviewing another 10 records today. I did it yesterday too. I’ll do it again tomorrow. No big deal. It’s Quarterly Review time. You know how it goes.

Crazy day yesterday, crazy day today, but I’m in that mode where I kind of feel like I can make this go as long as I want. Next Monday? Why not? Other than the fact that I have something else slated, I can’t think of a reason. Fortunately, having something else slated is enough of one. Ha. Let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

DVNE, Etemen Ænka

dvne Etemen Ænka

It’s like Scotland’s DVNE threw all of modern heavy metal into a blender and hit “cohesive.” Etemen Ænka‘s lofty ambitions are matched indeed by the cohesion of the band’s craft, the professionalism of their presentation, and the scope of their second album’s 10 component tracks, whether that’s in the use of synth throughout “Towers” or the dreamy post-rock aside in “Omega Severer,” the massive riffing used as a tool not a crutch in “Court of the Matriarch,” closer “Satuya” and elsewhere, and even the interlude-y pieces “Weighing of the Heart,” “Adraeden” and the folkish “Asphodel” that leads into the finale. DVNE have made themselves into the band you wish Isis became. Also the band you wish Mastodon became. And probably six or seven others. And while Etemen Ænka is certainly not without prog-styled indulgence, there is no taking away from the significant accomplishment these songs represent for them as a group putting out their first release on Metal Blade. It’ll be too clean for some ears, but the tradeoff for that is the abiding sense of poise with which DVNE deliver the songs. This will be on my year-end list, and I won’t be the only one.

DVNE on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Wowod, Yarost’ I Proshchenie

Wowod Yarost I Proshchenie

Beginning with its longest track (immediate points) in the 11-minute “Rekviem,” Yarost’ I Proshchenie is the third full-length from St. Petersburg’s Wowod, and its sudden surge from ‘unfold’ to ‘onslaught’ is a legitimate blindside. They hypnotize you then push you down a flight of stairs as death growls, echoing guitar lines and steady post-metallic drum and bass hold the line rhythmically. This sense of disconnect, ultimately, leads to a place of soaring melody and wash, but that feeling of moving from one place to another is very much the core of what Wowod do throughout the rest of the album that follows. “Tanec Yarosti” is a sub-three-minute blaster, while “Proshschenie” lumbers and crashes through its first half en route to a lush soundscape in its second, rounding out side A. I don’t care what genre “Zhazhda” is, it rules, and launches side B with rampaging momentum, leading to the slow, semi-industrial drag of “Chornaya Zemlya,” the harsh thrust of “Zov Tysyachi Nozhey” and, finally, dizzyingly, the six-minute closer “Top’,” which echoes cavernous and could just as easily have been called “Bottom.” Beautiful brutality.

Wowod on Thee Facebooks

Church Road Records on Bandcamp

 

Trace Amount, Endless Render

trace amount endless render

The chaos of last year is writ large in the late-2020 Endless Render EP from Brooklyn-based solo industrial outfit Trace Amount. The project headed by Brandon Gallagher (ex-Old Wounds) engages with harsh noise and heavy beatmaking, injecting short pieces like “Pop Up Morgues” with a duly dystopian atmosphere. Billy Rymer (The Dillinger Escape Plan, etc.) guests on drums for opener “Processed Violence (in 480P)” and the mminute-long “Seance Stimulant,” but it’s in the procession of the final three tracks — the aforementioned “Pop Up Morgues,” as well as “S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L.” and “Easter Sunday” — that Gallagher makes his most vivid portrayals. His work is evocative and resonant in its isolated feel, opaque like staring into an uncertain future but not without some semblance of hope in its resolution. Or maybe that’s the dream and the dance-party decay of “Dreaming in Displacement” is the reality. One way or the other, I’m looking forward to what Trace Amount does when it comes to a debut album.

Trace Amount on Thee Facebooks

Trace Amount on Bandcamp

 

Fuzzcrafter, C-D

Fuzzcrafter C D

French instrumentalists Fuzzcrafter issued C-D in October 2020 as a clear answer/complement to 2016’s A-B, even unto its Jo Riou cover art, which replaces the desert-and-fuzz-pedal of the first offering with a forest-and-pedal here. The six works that make up the 41-minute affair are likewise grown, able to affect a sense of lushness around the leading-the-way riffage in extended cuts “C2” (13:13) and the psychedelic back half of “D2” (13:18), working in funk-via-prog basslines (see also the wah guitar starting “D1” for more funk) over solid drums without getting any more lost than they want to be in any particular movement. In those songs and elsewhere, Fuzzcrafter make no attempt to hide the fact that they’re a riff-based band, but the acoustic side-finales in “C3” (which also features Rhodes piano) and “D3,” though shorter, reinforce both the structural symmetry of the mirrored sides as a whole and a feeling of breadth that is injected elsewhere in likewise organic fashion. They’re not changing the world and they’re not trying to, but there’s a mark being left here sound-wise and it’s enough to wonder what might be in store for the inevitable E-F.

Fuzzcrafter on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzcrafter on Bandcamp

 

Pine Ridge, Can’t Deny

Pine Ridge Can't Deny

Pine Ridge‘s second album, Can’t Deny, finds the Russian four/five-piece working in textures of keys and organ for a bluesier feel to tracks like the post-intro opening title-cut and the classic feeling later “Genesis.” Songwriting is straightforward, vocals gritty but well attended with backing arrangements, and the take on “Wayfaring Stranger” that ends the record’s first half conjures enough of a revivalist spirit to add to the atmosphere overall. The four tracks that follow — “Genesis,” “Runaway,” “Sons of Nothing” and “Those Days” — featured as well on 2019’s Sons of Nothing EP, but are consistent in groove and “Sons of Nothing” proves well placed to serve as an energetic apex of Can’t Deny ahead of “Those Days,” which starts quiet before bursting to life with last-minute electricity. A clear production emphasizes hooks and craft, and though I’ll grant I don’t know much about Siberia’s heavy rock scene, Pine Ridge ably work within the tenets of style while offering marked quality of songwriting and performance. That’s enough to ask from anywhere.

Pine Ridge on Thee Facebooks

Karma Conspiracy website

 

Watchman, Behold a Pale Horse

watchman behold a pale horse

Plain in its love for Sabbath-minded riffing and heavy Americana roll, “Bowls of Wrath” opens the three-song Dec. 2020 debut EP, Behold a Pale Horse, from Indiana-based solo-project Watchman, and the impression is immediate. With well-mixed cascades of organ and steadily nodding guitar, bass, drums and distorted, howling vocals, there is both a lack of pretense and an individualized take on genre happening at once. The EP works longest to shortest, with “Wormwood” building up from sparse guitar to far-back groove using negative space in the sound to bolster “Planet Caravan”-ish watery verses and emphasize the relative largesse of the track preceding as well as “The Second Death,” which follows. That closer is a quick four minutes that’s slow in tempo, but the lead-line cast overtop the mega-fuzzed central riff is effective in creating a current to carry the listener from one bank of the lake of fire to the other. In 15 minutes, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/producer Roy Waterford serves notice of intention for a forthcoming debut LP to be titled Doom of Babylon, and it is notice worth heeding.

Watchman on Instagram

Watchman on Bandcamp

 

Bomg, Peregrination

bomg peregrination

Bomg‘s Peregrination isn’t necessarily extreme the way one thinks of death or black metal as extreme styles of heavy metal, but is extreme just the same in terms of pushing to the outer limits of the aesthetics involved. The album’s four track, “Electron” (38:12), “Perpetuum” (39:10), “Paradigm” (37:17) and “Emanation” (37:49), could each consume a full 12″ LP on their own, and presented digitally one into the next, they are a tremendous, willfully unmanageable two-and-a-half-hour deep-dive into raw blowout dark psychedelic doom. The harsh rumble and noise in “Perpetuum” some 28 minutes on sounds as though the Ukrainian outfit have climbed the mountains of madness, and there is precious little clarity to be found in “Paradigm” or “Emanation” subsequent as they continue to hammer the spike of their manifestations deeper into the consciousness of the listener. From “Electron” onward, the self-recording Kyiv trio embark on this overwhelming journey into the unknown, and they don’t so much invite you along as unveil the devastating consequences of having made the trip. Righteously off-putting.

Bomg on Thee Facebooks

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

White Void, Anti

white void anti

As much as something can fly under the radar and be a Nuclear Blast release, I’m more surprised by the hype I haven’t heard surrounding White Void‘s debut album, Anti. Pulling together influences from progressive European-style heavy rock, classic metal, cult organ, New Wave melodies and a generally against-grain individualism, it is striking in its execution and the clear purpose behind what it’s doing. It’s metal and it’s not. It’s rock and it’s pop and it’s heavy and it’s light and floating. And its songs have substance as well as style. With Borknagar‘s Lars Nedland as the founding principal of the project, the potential in Anti‘s eight component tracks is huge, and if one winds up thinking of this as post-black metal, it’s a staggeringly complex iteration of it to which this and any other description I’ve seen does little justice. It’s going to get called “prog” a lot because of the considered nature of its composition, but that’s barely scratching the surface of what’s happening here.

White Void on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast Records store

 

Day of the Jackal, Day Zero

Day of the Jackal Day Zero

Leeds, UK, four-piece Day of the Jackal bring straight-ahead hard rock songwriting and performance with an edge of classic heavy. There’s a Guns ‘n’ Roses reference in “Belief in a Lie” if you’re up for catching it, and later cuts like “Riskin’ it All” and “‘Til the Devil” have like-minded dudes-just-hit-on-your-girlfriend-and-you’re-standing-right-there vibes. They’re a rock band and they know it, and while I was a little bummed out “Rotten to the Core” wasn’t an Overkill cover, the 10 songs of love and death that pervade this debut long-player are notably hooky from “On Your Own” to “Deadfall” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Deathride,” which casually inhabits biker riffing with no less ease of movement than the band would seem to do anything else. Production by James “Atko” Atkinson of Gentlemans Pistols highlights the clarity of the performance rather than giving a rawer glimpse at who Day of the Jackal might be on stage, but there’s plenty of vitality to go around in any case, and it’s headed your way from the moment you start the record.

Day of the Jackal on Thee Facebooks

Day of the Jackal on Bandcamp

 

Green Druid, At the Maw of Ruin

green druid at the maw of ruin

Following their 2018 debut, Ashen Blood (review here), Denver heavy lifters Green Druid give due breadth to their closing take on Portishead‘s “Threads,” but the truth is that cover is set up by the prior five tracks of huge-sounding riffery, basking in the varying glories of stoner doom throughout opener “The Forest Dark” while keeping an eye toward atmospheric reach all the while. It is not just nod and crush, in other words, in Green Druid‘s arsenal throughout At the Maw of Ruin, and indeed, “End of Men” and “Haunted Memories” bridge sludge and black metal screaming as “A Throne Abandoned” offers surprising emotional urgency over its ready plod, and the long spoken section in “Desert of Fury/Ocean of Despair” eventually gives way not only to the most weighted slamming on offer, but a stretch of noise to lead into the closer. All along the way, Green Druid mark themselves out as a more complex outfit than their first record showed them to be, and their reach shows no sign of stopping here either.

Green Druid on Thee Facebooks

Earache Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: Dopelord, Scorched Oak, Kings of the Fucking Sea, Mantarraya, Häxmästaren, Shiva the Destructor, Amammoth, Nineteen Thirteen, Ikitan, Smote

Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Third day, and you know what that means. Today we hit and pass the halfway mark of this Quarterly Review. I won’t say it hasn’t been work, but it seems like every time I do one of these lately I continue to be astounded by how much easier writing about good stuff makes it. I must’ve done a real clunker like two years ago or something. Can’t think of one, but wow, it’s way more fun when the tunes are killer.

To that end we start with Dopelord today, haha. Have fun digging through if you do.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Dopelord, Reality Dagger

Dopelord Reality Dagger

They put it in a 12″, and that’s cool, but in addition to the fact that it’s about 22 minutes long, something about Reality Dagger, the latest EP from Poland’s Dopelord, strikes me as being really 10″ worthy. I know 10″ is the bastard son of vinyl pressings — doesn’t fit with your LPs and doesn’t fit with your 7″s. They’re a nuisance. Do they get their own shelf? Mixed in throughout? Well, however you organize them, I think a limited 10″ of Reality Dagger would be perfect, because from the melodies strewn throughout “Dark Coils” and the wildly catchy “Your Blood” — maybe the most complex vocal arrangement I’ve yet heard from the band — to the ultra-sludge interplay with screams on the 10-minute closing title-track, it sounds to me like standing out from the crowd is exactly what Dopelord want to do. They want to be that band that doesn’t fit your preconceptions of stoner-doom, or sludge, or modern heavy largesse in the post-Monolord vein. Why not match that admirable drive in format? Oh hell, you know what? I’ll just by the CD and have done with it. One of the best EPs I’ve heard this year.

Dopelord on Thee Facebooks

Dopelord on Bandcamp

 

Scorched Oak, Withering Earth

Scorched Oak Withering Earth

Don’t be surprised when you see Kozmik Artifactz, Nasoni Records, or some other respected probably-European purveyor of heavy coming through with an announcement they’ve picked up Scorched Oak. The Dortmund, Germany, trio seem to have taken the last few years to figure out where they were headed — they pared down from a five-piece, for example — and their rolling tides of fuzz on late-2020’s debut LP Withering Earth bears the fruit of those efforts. Aesthetically and structurally sound, it’s able to touch on heavy blues, metal and drifting psychedelia all within the span of a seven-minute track like “Swamp,” and in its five-songs running shortest to longest, it effectively draws the listener deeper into the world the band are creating through dual vocals, patient craft and spacious production. If I was a label, I’d sign them for the bass tone on 14-minute closer “Desert” alone, never mind any of the other natural phenomena they portray throughout the record, which is perhaps grim in theme but nonetheless brimming with potential. Some cool riffs on this dying planet.

Scorched Oak on Thee Facebooks

Scorched Oak on Bandcamp

 

Kings of the Fucking Sea, In Concert

Kings of the Fucking Sea In Concert

A scorching set culled from two nights of performances in their native Nashville, what’s essentially serving as Kings of the Fucking Sea‘s debut long-player, In Concert, is a paean to raw psychedelic power trio worship. High order ripper groove pervades “Witch Mountain” and the wasn’t-yet-named “Hiding No More” — which was introduced tentatively as “Death Dealer,” which the following track is actually titled. Disorienting? Shit yeah it is. And shove all the poignancy of making a live album in Feb. 2020 ahead of the pandemic blah blah. That’s not what’s happening here. This is all about blow-the-door-so-we-can-escape psychedelic pull and thrust. One gets the sense that Kings of the Fucking Sea are more in control than they let on, but they play it fast and loose and slow and loose throughout In Concert and by the time the mellower jam in “I Walk Alone” opens up to the garage-style wash of crash cymbal ahead of closer “The Nile Song,” the swirling fuckall that ensues is rampant with noise-coated fire. A show that might make you look up from your phone. So cool it might be jazz. I gotta think about it.

Kings of the Fucking Sea on Thee Facebooks

Agitated Records on Bandcamp

 

Mantarraya, Mantarraya

mantarraya mantarraya

They bill themselves as ‘Mantarraya – power trío,’ and guitarist/vocalist Herman Robles Montero, drummer/maybe-harmonica-ist Kelvin Sifuentes Pérez and bassist/vocalist Enzo Silva Agurto certainly live up to that standard on their late-2020 self-titled debut full-length. The vibe is classic heavy ’70s through and through, and the Peruvian three-piece roll and boogie through the 11 assembled tracks with fervent bluesy swing on “En el Fondo” and no shortage of shuffle throughout the nine-minute “120 Años (Color),” which comes paired with the trippier “Almendrados” in what seems like a purposeful nod to the more out-there among the out there, bringing things back around to finish swinging and bouncing on the eponymous closer. I’ll take the classic boogie as it comes, and Mantarraya do it well, basking in a natural but not too purposefully so sense of underproduction while getting their point across in encouraging-first-record fashion. At over an hour long, it’s too much for a single LP, but plenty of time for them to get their bearings as they begin their creative journey.

Mantarraya on Thee Facebooks

Mantarraya on Bandcamp

 

Häxmästaren, Sol i Exil

Häxmästaren sol i exil

At the risk of repeating myself, someone’s gonna sign Häxmästaren. You can just tell. The Swedish five-piece’s second album, Sol i Exil (“sun in exile,” in English), is a mélange of heavy rock and classic doom influences, blurring the lines between microgenres en route to an individual approach that’s still accessible enough in a riffer like “Millennium Phenomenon” or “Dödskult Ritual” to be immediately familiar and telegraph to the converted where the band are coming from. Vocalist Niklas Ekwall — any relation to Magnus from The Quill? — mixes in some screams and growls to his melodic style, further broadening the palette and adding an edge of extremity to “Children of the Mountain,” while “Growing Horns” and the capper title-track vibe out with with a more classic feel, whatever gutturalisms happen along the way, the latter feeling like a bonus for being in Swedish. In the ever-fertile creative ground that is Gothenburg, it should be no surprise to find a band like this flourishing, but fortunately Sol i Exil doesn’t have to be a surprise to kick ass.

Häxmästaren on Thee Facebooks

Häxmästaren on Bandcamp

 

Shiva the Destructor, Find the Others

SHIVA THE DESTRUCTOR FIND THE OTHERS

Launching with the nine-minute instrumental “Benares” is a telling way for Kyiv’s Shiva the Destructor to begin their debut LP, since it immediately sets listener immersion as their priority. The five-track/44-minute album isn’t short on it, either, and with the band’s progressive, meditative psychedelic style, each song unfolds in its own way and in its own time, drawn together through warmth of tone and periods of heft and spaciousness on “Hydronaut” and a bit of playful bounce on “Summer of Love” (someone in this band likes reggae) and a Middle Eastern turn on “Ishtar” before “Nirvana Beach” seems to use the lyrics to describe what’s happening in the music itself before cutting off suddenly at the end. Vocals stand alone or in harmony and the double-guitar four-piece bask in a sunshine-coated sound that’s inviting and hypnotic in kind, offering turns enough to keep their audience following along and undulations that are duly a clarion to the ‘others’ referenced in the title. It’s like a call to prayer for weirdo psych heads. I’ll take that and hope for more to come.

Shiva the Destructor on Thee Facebooks

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

Amammoth, The Fire Above

amammoth the fire above

The first and only lyric in “Heal” — the opening track of Sydney, Australia, trio Amammoth‘s debut album, The Fire Above — is the word “marijuana.” It doesn’t get any less stoned from there. Riffs come in massive waves, and even as “The Sun” digs into a bit of sludge, the largesse and crash remains thoroughly weedian, with the lumbering “Shadows” closing out the first half of the LP with particularly Sleep-y nod. Rawer shouted vocals also recall earlier Sleep, but something in Amammoth‘s sound hints toward a more metallic background than just pure Sabbath worship, and “Rise” brings that forward even as it pushes into slow-wah psychedelics, letting “Blade Runner” mirror “The Sun” in its sludgy push before closer “Walk Towards What Blinds You (Blood Bong)” introduces some backing vocals that fit surprisingly well even they kind of feel like a goof on the part of the band. Amammoth, as a word, would seem to be something not-mammoth. In sound, Amammoth are the opposite.

Amammoth on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Nineteen Thirteen, MCMXIII

nineteen thirteen mcmxiii

With emotional stakes sufficiently high throughout, MCMXIII is urgent enough to be post-hardcore, but there’s an underpinning of progressive heavy rock even in the mellower stretch of the eight-minute “Dogfight” that complements the noisier and more angular aspects on display elsewhere. Opener “Post Blue Collar Blues” sets the plotline for the newcomer Dayton, Ohio, four-piece, with thoughtful lyrics and a cerebral-but-not-dead-of-spirit instrumental style made full and spacious through the production. Melodies flesh out in “Cripple John” and “Old Face on the Wall,” brooding and surging in children-of-the-’90s fashion, but I hear a bit of Wovenhand in that finale as well — though maybe the one doesn’t exclude the other — so clearly Nineteen Thirteen are just beginning this obviously-passion-fueled exploration of sound aesthetic with these songs, but the debut EP they comprise cuts a wide swath with marked confidence and deceptive memorability. A new turn on Rust Belt heavy.

Nineteen Thirteen on Thee Facebooks

Nineteen Thirteen on Bandcamp

 

Ikitan, Twenty-Twenty

ikitan twenty-twenty

Hey, you process trauma from living through the last year your way and Genova, Italy’s Ikitan will process it theirs. In their case, that means the writing, recording and self-release of their 20-minute single-song EP, Twenty-Twenty, a sprawling work of instrumentalist heavy post-rock rife with spacious, airy lead guitar and a solid rhythmic foundation. Movements occur in waves and layers, but there is a definite thread being woven throughout the outing from one part to the next, held together alternately by the bass or drums or even guitar, though it’s the latter that seems to be leading those changes as well. The shifts are fluid in any case, and Ikitan grow Twenty-Twenty‘s lone, titular piece to a satisfyingly heft as they move through, harnessing atmosphere as well as weight even before they lower volume for stretches in the second half. There’s a quick surge at the end, but “Twenty-Twenty” is more about journey than destination, and Ikitan make the voyage enticing.

Ikitan on Thee Facebooks

Ikitan on Bandcamp

 

Smote, Bodkin

smote bodkin

Loops, far-out spaces and a generally experimentalist feel ooze outward like Icelandic lava from Bodkin, the five-song debut LP from UK-based solo-outfit Smote. The gentleman behind the flow is Newcastle upon Tyne’s Daniel Foggin, and this is one of three releases he has out so far in 2021, along with a prior drone collaboration tape with Forest Mourning and a subsequent EP made of two tracks at around 15 minutes each. Clearly a project that can be done indoors during pandemic lockdown, Smote‘s material is wide-ranging just the same, bringing Eastern multi-instrumentalism and traditionalist UK psych together on “Fohrt” and “Moninna,” which would border on folk but for all that buzz in the background. The 11-minute “Motte” is a highlight of acid ritualizing, but the droning title-track that rounds out makes each crash count all the more for the spaces that separate them. I dig this a lot, between you and me. I get vibes like Lamp of the Universe here in terms of sonic ambition and resultant presence. That’s not a comparison I make lightly, and this is a project I will be following.

Smote on Bandcamp

Weird Beard Records store

 

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Quarterly Review: Jess and the Ancient Ones, Dread Sovereign, Space Smoke, If it Kills You, Clara Engel, Maya Mountains, Cave of Swimmers, Blind Monarch, Cancervo, Sahara

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Hello Day Two of the Quarterly Review. It started by oversleeping by about an hour, but so it goes. Yesterday went about as smoothly as I can ask a QR day to go, so I’m hoping that today follows suit despite the rough start. There’s nothing like building some momentum once you get going with these writeups. It’s about as close to ‘in the zone’ as I get. Trance of productivity.

As always, I hope you find something here you dig. Today’s round is good and all over the place, so maybe everyone’ll get lucky. Here goes.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Jess and the Ancient Ones, Vertigo

jess and the ancient ones vertigo

More than a decade on from their founding, Finland’s Jess and the Ancient Ones are an established brand when it comes to cult psych rock, and their fourth full-length, issued through Svart, is gleeful to the point of witch-cackling on “Talking Board” (think Ouija) and offers rousing classically-stylized hooks on fellow early cuts like opener “Burning of the Velvet Fires” and “World Paranormal” as well as side B’s “Born to Kill,” the Dr. Strangelove-sampling “Summer Tripping Man” and the organ-washed “What’s on Your Mind” ahead of an 11-minute prog rock grand finale in “Strange Earth Illusion” that feels very much like the impetus toward which the album has been driving all along. Relax, you’re in the hands of professional mystics, and their acid rock vibes are made all the more grand by Jess‘ soulful delivery atop the ever-clever arrangements of guitar, organ, bass, drums, samples, and so on. This kind of cultish lysergic fare has never been and never will be for everyone. Listening to Vertigo, you can only really wonder why that is.

Jess and the Ancient Ones on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare

dread sovereign alchemical warfare

Metallic overload! Irish assault supreme! All sentences end with exclamation points! A new Dread Sovereign record doesn’t come along every day, or year, but the Dublin trio certainly make it count when one does. Alchemical Warfare is the third LP from the Alan Averill-fronted outfit, and with Johnny “Con Ri” King (also Conan) on drums and guitarist Bones Huse (also Wizards of Firetop Mountain), the band tear through nine tracks and 51 minutes of doom-colored metallurgy, throwing unrepentant fists in the air under darkened, irony-free skies. By the time 10-minute post-intro opener “She Wolves of the Savage Season” is over, if you’re not ready to quit your job and join the legion about to set march to “The Great Beast We Serve,” it’s no fault of the band’s. “Nature is the Devil’s Church” was the lead single and is a standout hook, but the grandiosity of “Ruin Upon the Temple Mount”‘s Candlemassy riffing is too good to be ignored, and they finish with a Bathory cover, because fucking a, that’s why.

Dread Sovereign on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Space Smoke, Aurora Dourada

Space Smoke Aurora Dourada

The debut EP from Brazilian instrumentalist trio Space Smoke runs all of 12 minutes, but that’s long enough for Aurora Dourada to give an impression of where the band are coming from. Three distinct tracks — “Magia Cerimonial,” “Interludio” and “Corpo Solar” — comprise the outing, and the middle one is indeed an interlude, so it’s really the opener and closer doing the heavy lifting. “Magia Cerimonia” starts off with a sense of foreboding but makes its way instead into hypnotic repetition, bordering on a meditative lumber that doesn’t stick around long enough to be redundant, and with the interlude as a breath between, the eight-minute “Corpo Solar” rounds out as the most substantial piece of the outing, drifting guitar over languid drums and bass, dreamy and sopping wet with reverb. They push it heavier than its quiet beginning, of course, but even the howling lead work near the finish maintains the inviting and immersive vibe with which they set out. Might be a blip of things to come, but it’s a blip worth checking out. Mini-trip.

Space Smoke on Instagram

Abraxas Events on Thee Facebooks

 

If it Kills You, Infinite Hum

if it kills you infinite hum

Infinite Hum is the striking debut LP from Bakersfield, California, post-hardcore heavy three/four-piece If it Kills You, who along with the periodic charred guest vocals on half the six tracks, bring together a quick assemblage for a 12″ that readily alternates between melodic sway and shoutier roll. They groove despite unpredictable turns, and their blend of hefted tones and punker-grown-up melodies makes a welcome impression on opener “We Don’t Belong Here” or “Moving Target.” Starts and stops and a bit of winding lead work give “Repeat Resolve” an edge of noise rock — more than an edge, actually; kind of like the flat side of a brick — but If it Kills You never push to one side or the other entirely, and as the screams return for later in “Repeat Resolve” and closer “Projections,” charged every time with and succeeding at pushing a crescendo over the top, the band manage to bring sincerity and structure together with what sounds like experienced hands. Don’t be fooled by “first album”; they know what they’re doing.

If it Kills You on Thee Facebooks

Killer Kern on Bandcamp

 

Clara Engel, A New Skin

Clara Engel A New Skin

I’m not sure if anyone still calls this kind of thing “neo-folk,” but I am sure I don’t care. The sense of atmosphere Clara Engel puts into her latest album, A New Skin, beginning with the shift between minimal guitar and keyboard on “Starry Eyed Goat,” uses negative space no less effectively than does the mostly-black cover art, and the eight-song/46-minute outing that ensues alternates between emotive and wondrously ambient, suited to the home recording done during (presumed) isolation in Fall 2020. Engel handles all instrumentation herself and remains indelibly human in her sometimes-layered vocal delivery all the while, speaking to a building-out process of the material, but one does not get the sense in listening to “Night Tide” and the sparse “Thieves” back-to-back that the foundation of all the songs is the same, which is all the more representative of an exploratory songwriting process. A New Skin as a whole feels likewise exploratory, a reflection inward as much as out.

Clara Engel on Thee Facebooks

Clara Engel on Bandcamp

 

Maya Mountains, Era

maya mountains era

Long-running Italian trio Maya Mountains issued Era through Go Down Records in 2020 as their first album in some six years, readily engaging with desert rock on cuts like “San Saguaro” and closer “El Toro,” working in a bit of post-Queens of the Stone Age riffy quirk to go along with less bouncing and chunkier fare on “Vibromatic” and “Baumgartner,” or “Extremely High,” which makes its speedier tempo feel organic ahead of the finish. All told, it’s 44 minutes of solid heavy rock, with variation between songs of what each is working toward doing that does nothing to pull away from the vibe as a whole, whether that’s in a more aggressive moment like “Vibromatic” or the spacier playfulness at the start of “Raul,” the band clearly unafraid of letting a little funk hold sway for a minute or two. Engaging without being revolutionary, Era knows its craft and audience alike, and offers one to the other without pretense or presumption. It’s rock for rockers, but what’s wrong with that?

Maya Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Cave of Swimmers, Aurora

cave of swimmers aurora

An awaited first long-player from Miami duo Cave of Swimmers — vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Guillermo Gonzalez and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Arturo Garcia — packages epic metal in tight-knit bursts of heavy rock tonality. Choruses in “The Sun” and “Double Rainbow” are grand affairs not because their tones are so huge, but because of the melodies that top them, and at the same time, with riffs at the forefront of the verses, the duo make progressive shifts sound classic in the vein of Iron Maiden or Dio with a still-prevailing fuzzy topcoat. Centerpiece “My Human” is a love song that slams, while “Looking Glass” leans deeper into prog metal but brings the listener along with a another sweeping hook, a pattern of tension and release that carries over to “Dirt” as well, which leaves “C.S” to close out with its “Sign of the Southern Cross” keyboard-and-harmonies intro en route to a poised but still thrashing finish. There’s life in heavy metal, and here it is.

Cave of Swimmers on Thee Facebooks

Broomtune Records website

 

Blind Monarch, What is Imposed Must Be Endured

blind monarch what is imposed must be endured

Straight out of Sheffield, UK, Blind Monarch first released their What is Imposed Must Be Endured four-song/56-minute full-length on Black Bow Records in 2020 and it’s been picked up for a 2LP vinyl pressing by Dry Cough Records. There’s something to be said for splitting up these tracks each onto its own side, making the whole release more manageable despite getting up to do a side or platter flip, but any way you go, “Suffering Breathes My Name” (13:45), “My Mother, My Cradle, My Tomb” (10:47), “Blind Monarch” (14:10) and closer “Living Altar” (17:54) are geared toward sharp-toothed death-sludge consumption, extreme in thought and deed. Feedback is strewn about the place like so much flayed skin, and even in the quiet moments at the start and laced into “Living Altar,” the atmosphere remains oppressive. Yet, endure one must. Blind Monarch, even among the UK’s ultra-packed underground, are a standout in how maddeningly heavy they manage to be, and on their debut outing, no less. If you missed it last year, be ready to pay extra for shipping.

Blind Monarch on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records website

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Cancervo, 1

cancervo 1

Each track on Italian instrumentalist trio Cancervo‘s debut album, titled simply 1, is intended to represent an area near their home in the mountainous region of Lombardy, Italy. Their tones are duly thick, their presentation patient and their cast is broad in terms of its landscape. From “Averara,” one might see kilometers, in other words. Whether or not you’re familiar with Cancervo‘s locale, their tonal warmth and heavy psychedelic expanse resonates immersively, letting each of the two sides develop on its own from the beginnings in “Cancervo” and “Darco,” both the longest cuts on their respective halves. The fuller fuzz of “SWLABR” and the punch of bass that accompanies the tom hits on closer “1987” are subtle shifts emblematic of Cancervo‘s creative progression getting underway, and the task to which they set themselves — portraying place in sound — is no less admirable than their accomplishment of same would see to be. I’ve never been there, so can’t confirm 100 percent if that’s what it sounds like, but in repeat listens, I’m happy to take the band’s word (or riffs) for it.

Cancervo on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Sahara, The Curse

sahara the curse

Its four cuts run 17 minutes with the last of them an instrumental title-track that’s under three, but I don’t care — the entire thing is so righteously raw and garage nasty that I’m on board with however much Argentina’s Sahara want to bring to The Curse. “Gallows Noose” sounds like it was taped, and then re-taped, and then re-taped again before finally being pressed (to tape), and there’s no mistaking that’s an aesthetic choice on the part of the band, who probably have phones that could make something with clearer audio, but the in-room demo feel of “Hell on Earth” and “Altar of Sacrifice,” the rootsy metal-of-doom feel of it hits on its own level. Sometimes you just want something that comes across barebones and mean, and that’s what The Curse does. Call it retro, call it unproduced, call it whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. Sahara (bring looks that) kill it on that Sabbath-worshiping altar and sound dirt-coated all the while, making everything everything else in the universe seem more complicated than it needs to be.

Sahara on Thee Facebooks

Helter Skelter Productions website

 

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