Quarterly Review: Amenra, Liquid Sound Company, Iceburn, Gods and Punks, Vouna, Heathen Rites, Unimother 27, Oxblood Forge, Wall, Boozewa

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

You’ll have to forgive me, what the hell day is it? The url says this is day eight, so I guess that’s Wednesday. Fine. That’s as good as any. It’s all just 10 more records to my brain at this point, and that’s fine. I’ve got it all lined up. As of me writing this, I still haven’t heard about my busted-ass laptop that went in for repair last Saturday, and that’s a bummer, but I’m hoping that any minute now the phone is going to show the call coming in and I’ll just keep staring at it until that happens and I’m sure that will be awesome for my already brutalized productivity.

My backup laptop — because yes, I have one and will gladly argue with you that it’s necessary citing this week as an example — is a cheapie Chromebook. The nicest thing I can say about it is it’s red. The meanest thing I can say about it is that I had to change the search button to a caps lock and even that doesn’t respond fast enough to my typing, so I’m constantly capitalizing the wrong letters. If you don’t think that’s infuriating, congratulations on whatever existence has allowed you to live this long without ever needing to use a keyboard. “Hello computer,” and all that.

Enough kvetching. Too much to do.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

Amenra, De Doorn

Amenra De Doorn

I’ve made no secret over the last however long of not being the biggest Amenra fan in the universe. Honestly, it’s not even about the Belgian band themseves — live, they’re undeniable — but the plaudits around them are no less suffocating than their crushing riffs at their heaviest moments. Still, as De Doorn marks their first offering through Relapse Records, finds them departing from their Mass numbered series of albums and working in their native Flemish for the first time, and brings Caro Tanghe of Oathbreaker into the songs to offer melodic counterpoint to Colin H. van Eeckhout‘s nothing-if-not-identifiable screams, the invitations to get on board are manifold. This is a band with rules. They have set their own rules, and even in pushing outside them as they do here, much of their ideology and sonic persona is maintained. Part of that identity is being forward thinking, and that surfaces on De Doorn in parts ambient and quiet, but there’s always a part of me that feels like Amenra are playing it safe, even as they’re working within parameters they’ve helped define for a generation of European post-metal working directly in their wake. The post-apocalyptic breadth they harness in these tracks will only continue to win them converts. Maybe I’ll be one of them. That would be fun. It’s nice to belong, you know?

Amenra on Facebook

Relapse Records website

 

Liquid Sound Company, Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul

Liquid sound company psychoactive songs for the psoul

A quarter-century after their founding, Arlington, Texas, heavy psych rockers Liquid Sound Company still burn and melt along the lysergic path of classic ’60s acid rock, beefier in tone but no less purposeful in their drift on Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul. They’re turning into custard on “Blacklight Corridor” and they can tell you don’t understand on “Who Put All of Those Things in Your Hair?,” and all the while their psych rock digs deeper into the cosmic pulse, founding guitarist John Perez (also Solitude Aeturnus) unable to resist bringing a bit of shred to “And to Your Left… Neptune” — unless that’s Mark Cook‘s warr guitar — even as “Mahayuga” answers back to the Middle Eastern inflection of “Blacklight Corridor” earlier on. Capping with the mellow jam “Laila Was Here,” Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul is a loving paean to the resonant energies of expanded minds and flowing effects, but “Cosmic Liquid Love” is still a heavy rollout, and even the shimmering “I Feel You” is informed by that underlying sense of heft. Nonetheless, it’s an acid invitation worth the RSVP.

Liquid Sound Company on Facebook

Liquid Sound Company on Bandcamp

 

Iceburn, Asclepius

iceburn asclepius

Flying snakes, crawling birds, two tracks each over 17 minutes long, the first Iceburn release in 20 years is an all-in affair from the outset. As someone coming to the band via Gentry Densley‘s work in Eagle Twin, there are recognizable elements in tone, themes and vocals, but with fellow founders Joseph “Chubba” Smith on drums and James Holder on guitar, as well as bassist Cache Tolman (who’s Johnny Comelately since he originally joined in 1991, I guess), the atmosphere conjured by the four-piece is consuming and spacious in its own way, and their willingness to go where the song guides them on side A’s “Healing the Ouroboros,” right up to the long-fading drone end after so much lumbering skronk and incantations before, and side B’s “Dahlia Rides the Firebird,” with its pervasive soloing, gallop and veer into earth-as-cosmos terradelia, the return of Iceburn — if in fact that’s what this is — makes its own ceremony across Asclepius, sounding newly inspired rather than like a rehash.

Iceburn on Facebook

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Gods & Punks, The Sounds of the Universe

gods and punks the sounds of the universe

As regards ambition, Gods & Punks‘ fourth LP, The Sounds of the Universe, wants for nothing. The Rio De Janeiro heavy psych rockers herein wrap what they’ve dubbed their ‘Voyager’ series, culminating the work they’ve done since their first EP — album opener “Eye in the Sky” is a remake — while tying together the progressive, heavy and cosmic aspects of their sound in a single collection of songs. In context, it’s a fair amount to take in, but a track like “Black Apples” has a riffy standout appeal regardless of its place in the band’s canon, and whether it’s the classic punch of “The TUSK” or the suitably patient expansion of “Universe,” the five-piece don’t neglect songwriting for narrative purpose. That is to say, whether or not you’ve heard 2019’s And the Celestial Ascension (discussed here) or any of their other prior material, you’re still likely to be pulled in by “Gravity” and “Dimensionaut” and the rest of what surrounds. The only question is where do they go from here? What’s outside the universe?

Gods & Punks on Facebok

Abraxas on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Vouna, Atropos

vouna atropos

Released (appropriately) by Profound Lore, Vouna‘s second full-length Atropos is a work of marked depth and unforced grandeur. After nine-minute opener “Highest Mountain” establishes to emotional/aural tone, Atropos is comprised mostly of three extended pieces in “Vanish” (15:34), “Grey Sky” (14:08) and closer “What Once Was” (15:11) with the two-minute “What Once Was (Reprise)” leading into the final duo. “Vanish” finds Vouna — aka Olympia, Washington-based Yianna Bekris — bringing in textures of harp and violin to answer the lap steel and harp on “Highest Mountain,” and features a harsh guest vocal from Wolves in the Throne Room‘s Nathan Weaver, but it’s in the consuming wash at the finish of “Grey Sky” and in the melodic vocal layers cutting through as the first half of “What Once Was” culminates ahead of the break into mournful doom and synth that Vouna most shines, bridging styles in a way so organic as to be utterly consuming and keeping resonance as the most sought target, right unto the piano line that tops the last crescend, answering back the very beginning of “Highest Mountain.” Not a record that comes along every day.

Vouna on Facebook

Profound Lore website

 

Heathen Rites, Heritage

heathen rites heritage

One gets the sense in listening that for Mikael Monks, the Burning Saviours founder working under the moniker of Heathen Rites for the first time, the idea of Heritage for which the album is titled is as much about doom itself as the Scandinavian folk elements that surface in “Gleipner” or in the brief, bird-song and mountain-echo-laced finish “Kulning,” not to mention the Judas Priest-style triumphalism of the penultimate “The Sons of the North” just before. Classic doom is writ large across Heritage, from the bassline of “Autumn” tapping into “Heaven and Hell” to the flowing culmination of “Midnight Sun” and the soaring guitar apex in “Here Comes the Night.” In the US, many of these ideas of “northern” heritage, runes, or even heathenism have been coopted as expressions of white supremacy. It’s worth remembering that for some people it’s actually culture. Monks pairs that with his chosen culture — i.e. doom — in intriguing ways here that one hopes he’ll continue to explore.

Heathen Rites on Facebook

Svart Records website

 

Unimother 27, Presente Incoerente

Unimother 27 Presente Incoerente

Some things in life you just have to accept that you’re never going to fully understand. The mostly-solo-project Unimother 27 from Italy’s Piero Ranalli is one of those things. Ranalli has been riding his own wavelength in krautrock and classic progressive stylizations mixed with psychedelic freakout weirdness going on 15 years now, experimenting all the while, and you don’t have to fully comprehend the hey-man-is-this-jazz bass bouncing under “L’incontro tra Phallos e Mater Coelestis” to just roll with it, so just roll with it and know that wherever you’re heading, there’s a plan at work, even if the plan is to not have a plan. Mr. Fist‘s drums tether the synth and drifting initial guitar of “Abraxas…il Dio Difficile da Conoscere” and serve a function as much necessary as grooving, but one way or the other, you’re headed to “Systema Munditotius,” where forward and backward are the same thing and the only trajectory discernible is “out there.” So go. Just go. You won’t regret it.

Unimother 27 on Facebook

Pineal Gland Lab website

 

Oxblood Forge, Decimator

Oxblood Forge Decimator

Not, not, not a coincidence that Massachusetts four-piece Oxblood Forge — vocalist Ken Mackay, guitarist Robb Lioy, bassist Greg Dellaria and drummer/keyboardist Erik Fraünfeltër — include an Angel Witch cover on their third long-player, Decimator, as even before they get around to the penultimate “Sorcerers,” the NWOBHM is a defining influence throughout the proceedings, be it the “hey hey hey!” chanting of “Mortal Salience” or the death riders owning the night on opener “Into the Abyss” or the sheer Maidenry met with doom tinge on “Screams From Silence.” Mackay‘s voice, high in the mix, adds a tinge of grit, but Decimator isn’t trying to get one over on anyone. This blue collar worship for classic metal presented in a manner that could only be as full-on as it is for it to work at all. No irony, no khakis, no bullshit.

Oxblood Forge on Facebook

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

 

Wall, Vol. 2

wall vol 2

They keep this up, they’re going to have a real band on their hands. Desert Storm/The Grand Mal bandmates and twin brothers Ryan Cole (guitar/bass) and Elliot Cole (drums) began Wall as a largely-instrumental quarantine project in 2020, issuing a self-titled EP (review here) on APF Records. Vol. 2 follows on the quick with five more cuts of unbridled groove, including a take on Karma to Burn‘s “Nineteen” that, if it needs to be said, serves as homage to Will Mecum, who passed away earlier this year. That song fits right in with a cruncher like “Avalanche” or “Speed Freak,” or even “The Tusk,” which also boasts a bit of layered guitar harmonies, feeling out new ground there and in the acousti-handclap-blues of “Falling From the Edge of Nowhere.” The fact that Wall have live dates booked — alongside The Grand Mal, no less — speaks further to their real-bandness, but Vol. 2 hardly leaves any doubt as it is.

Wall on Facebook

APF Records website

 

Boozewa, Deb

Boozewa Deb

The second self-recorded outing from Pennsylvania trio Boozewa, Deb, offers two songs to follow-up on Feb. 2021’s First Contact (review here) demo, keeping an abidingly raw, we-did-this-at-home feel — this time they sent the results to Tad Doyle for mastering — while pushing their sound demonstrably forward with “Deb” bringing bassist Jessica Baker to the fore vocally alongside drummer Mike Cummings. Guitarist Rylan Caspar contributes in that regard as well, and the results are admirably grunge-coated heavy rock and roll that let enough clarity through to establish a hook, while the shorter “Now. Stop.” edges toward a bit more lumber in its groove, at least until they punk it out with some shouts at the finish. Splitting hairs? You betcha. Maybe they’re just writing songs. The results are there waiting to be dug either way.

Boozewa on Instagram

Boozewa on Bandcamp

 

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Amenra to Release De Doorn June 25; “De Evenmens” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 4th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

amenra

Belgian post-metal forerunners Amenra will release their first offering for Relapse Records, titled De Doorn, next month. They’ve got a video up now for “De Evenmens” that you can see at the bottom of this post and witness all its black-and-white and screamy, then not screamy, then definitely screamy again shifting, the band as heavy on atmosphere as they are on heavy as they are on contemplation. “De Evenmens” is one of five tracks on the upcoming outing, which is the follow-up to Amenra‘s 2017 LP, Mass VI, and at the very least it shows they haven’t lost their edge of extremity or the consuming lurch that has led to their becoming one of Europe’s foremost purveyors of the style. They got a thing. They do it well.

Album info follows here, courtesy of the PR wire:

amenra de doorn

AMENRA announce their Relapse Records full-length debut De Doorn coming June 25th! Watch AMENRA’s official “De Evenmens” music video, directed by Dehn Sora

AMENRA vocalist Colin H. van Eeckhout comments:

“We are only here for a split second in history. This song is about finding the answer within the question, man’s search for his place here on earth. A journey of sorrow with mere moments of beauty and happiness and this all in relation to his or her fellowman. To accept what is. Our brother Dehn Sora sculpted the digital world where Everman dwells, protected by its thorns, wounded by the others. Sacrificing blood of gold.”

CHVE

De Doorn is out June 25 on Deluxe 2xLP/2xLP/CD/CS/Digital. Physical pre-orders via Relapse.com are available HERE. Digital Downloads/Streaming HERE. A super limited, one time press features gold foil stamping printed on jackets and are available exclusively through Relapse.com and at band live performances.

De Doorn Tracklist:

Ogentroost
De Dood In Bloei
De Evenmens
Het Gloren
Voor Immer

AMENRA Tour Dates:
May 22 Grauzone Festival (Acoustic Stream Concert)
July 2+3 Openluchttheater De Goffert, Nijmegen i.s.m. Doornroosje
Sept 4 Paaspop, Schijndel
Sept 21 Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht

AMENRA Is:
Colin H. van Eeckhout – Lead Vocals
Mathieu Vandekeckhove – Guitar
Bjorn J. Lebon – Percussion
Lennart Bossu – Guitar
Tim De Gieter – Guitar
Caro Tanghe – Backup Vocals

Recorded by Tim De Gieter at Much Luv Studio, Lembeke BE
Mastered by Frank Arkright, Abbey Road Studio, London UK

www.ritualofra.com
https://amenra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/amenra_official/
www.facebook.com/churchofra
https://twitter.com/churchofra
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Amenra, “De Evenmens” official video

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Amenra Sign to Relapse Records; New Album out Next Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 14th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Curious how inevitable this feels. Belgian post-metal touchstones Amenra have set the genre standard by which Europe abides. Their pervasive aesthetic sensibility, balance of ambience and extreme sonic aggression and heft, can be heard across an entire swath of acts working largely in their strobe-pumping wake. I’ve never been the biggest Amenra fan in the world — something about their unwillingness to break their own rules continues to leave me cold — but one would have to be a fool not to acknowledge the impact they’ve had or to respect the force they represent when they take the stage.

Earlier this month, I assume for Bandcamp Friday, they released a collection of demo material for what became 2017’s Mass VI, and you’ll find that streaming below. In addition to their signing to Relapse, where they join recent acquisitions Temple of Void and the likes of Monolord, you’ll also find word below of a new album coming next year. One will expect that to arrive with no shortage of anticipation behind it.

From the PR wire:

amenra

AMENRA SIGN TO RELAPSE RECORDS; NEW FULL-LENGTH ALBUM COMING 2021

Relapse Records is proud to announce the signing of Belgium’s AMENRA! Formed in 1999, the critically acclaimed band have since captivated audiences through their raw, ethereal, sonic energy, both live and in the studio. AMENRA’s monstrous live performances and cinematic albums have earned them a cult following. Touring the world over, the band has played some of the most prestigious festivals in Europe and North America. AMENRA will release a highly anticipated new album in 2021. Stay tuned for more information in the near future.

Regarding the signing, AMENRA comments:

“We are thrilled to announce that from now on we will be signed to Relapse records. A haven to a lot of our friends, and now to us as well. We are looking forward to work with this more than capable team, and are eager to see where it will lead us. Our new record will see its first light mid 2021. Ever onwards.”

AMENRA Is:
Colin H. Van Eeckhout – Vocals
Mathieu Vandekerckhove – Guitars
Bjorn Lebon – Drums
Lennart Bossu – Guitars
Tim De Gieter – Bass

www.ritualofra.com
https://amenra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/amenra_official/
www.facebook.com/churchofra
https://twitter.com/churchofra
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Amenra, The Cradle: Demos (2020)

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Finding Comfort in Live Music When There Isn’t Any

Posted in Features on August 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Bands and festivals have begun to announce 2021 dates and all that, but let’s be realistic: it’s going to be years before live music is what it once was. Especially in the United States, which is the country in the world hardest hit by the ol’ firelung in no small part because of the ineptitude of its federal leadership, an entire economic system of live music — not to mention the venues, promotions and other cultural institutions that support it on all levels — needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. It isn’t going to be just as simple as “social distancing is over and we can all crowd into the bar again.” Maybe not ever.

You’ve likely seen a band do a live stream at this point, even if after the fact, and I have too. Not the same as a real-life gig, duh, but if it helps raise some funds and keeps creative people working on something and gives an act a way to connect with its audience, you can’t call it bad. I’ve found, though, that with the dearth of live music happening and the nil potential that “going to a show” will happen anytime soon, I’ve been listening to more and more live albums.

This, in no small part, is because there are plenty to listen to. Some groups attempting to bring in cash either for themselves or relevant causes have put out live records in the last few months and made use of the downtime that would’ve otherwise been given to actually being on a stage or writing together in a room or whatever it might be. It’s been a way for a band to not just sit on its collective hands and wonder what the future will bring. When so much is out of your own control, you make the most of what you’ve got.

In that spirit, here’s a quick rundown of 10 recent live outings that I’ve been digging. If you’ve found you’re in the need of finding comfort in live music and whatever act you want to see isn’t doing a stream just this second, maybe you can put one of these on, close your eyes, and be affected a bit by the on-stage energy that comes through.

Thanks as always for reading, and thanks to Tim Burke, Vania Yosifova, and Chris Pojama Pearson for adding their suggestions when I asked on social media. Here we go, ordered by date of release:

Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)

arcadian child from far for the wild

Released Jan. 24.

Granted, this one came out before the real impact of COVID-19 was being felt worldwide, but with the recent announcement of Arcadian Child‘s next studio album coming out this Fall, including From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz) (discussed here) on this list seems only fair. The Cyprus-based four-piece even went so far as to include a couple new songs in the set that’ll show up on Protopsycho as well this October, so it’s a chance to get a preview of that material as well. Bonus for a bonus. Take the win.

Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1

kadavar studio live session

Released March 25.

Germany began imposing curfews in six of its states on March 22. At that point, tours were already being canceled, including Kadavar‘s European run after two shows, and the band hit Blue Wall Studio in Berlin for a set that was streamed through Facebook and in no small part helped set the pattern of streams in motion. With shows canceled in Australia/New Zealand and North America as well, Kadavar were hoping to recover some of the momentum they’d lost, and their turning it into a live record is also a part of that, as is their upcoming studio release, The Isolation Tapes.

Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

Øresund Space Collective Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

Released April 3.

Of course, I’m perfectly willing to grant that Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 (review here) wasn’t something Øresund Space Collective specifically put out because of the pandemic, but hell, it still exists and that enough, as far as I’m concerned. As ever, they proliferate top notch psychedelic improv, and though I’ve never seen them and it seems increasingly likely I won’t at the fest I was supposed to this year, their vitality is always infectious.

Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop

pelican Live at The Grog Shop

Released April 15.

Let’s be frank — if you don’t love Pelican‘s music to a familial degree, it’s not that I think less of you as a person, but I definitely feel bad for you in a way that, if I told you face-to-face, you won’t find almost entirely condescending. The Chicago instrumentalists are high on my list of golly-I-wish-they’d-do-a-livestream, and if you need an argument to support that, this set from Ohio should do the trick nicely. It’s from September 2019, which was just nearly a year ago. If your mind isn’t blown by their chugging progressive riffs, certainly that thought should do the trick.

SEA, Live at ONCE

sea live at once

Released June 19.

Also captured on video, this set from Boston’s SEA finds them supporting 2020’s debut album, Impermanence (review here) and pushing beyond at ONCE Ballroom in their hometown. The band’s blend of post-metallic atmosphere and spacious melody-making comes through as they alternate between lumbering riffs and more subdued ambience, and it makes a fitting complement to the record in underscoring their progressive potential. The sound is raw but I’d want nothing less.

Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018

sumac st vitus

Released July 3.

Issued as a benefit to Black Lives Matter Seattle and a host of other causes, among them the Philadelphia Womanist Working Collective, this Sumac set is precisely what it promises in the title — a live show from 2018 at Brooklyn’s famed Saint Vitus Bar. I wasn’t at this show, but it does make me a little wistful to think of that particular venue in the current concert-less climate. Sumac aren’t big on healing when it comes to the raw sonics, but there’s certainly enough spaciousness here to get lost in should you wish to do so.

YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

YOB Pickathon 2019 Live from the Galaxy Barn

Released July 3.

They’ve since taken down the Bandcamp stream, but YOB’s Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn (review here) was released as a benefit for Navajo Nation COVID-19 relief, and is an hour-long set that paired the restlessness of “The Lie that is Sin” next to the ever-resonant “Marrow.” Of all the live records on this list, this is probably the one that’s brought me the most joy, and it also inspired the most recent episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal, which jumped headfirst into YOB‘s catalog. More YOB please. Also, if you haven’t seen the videos of Mike Scheidt playing his guitar around the house, you should probably hook into that too.

Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble

dirty streets rough and tumble

Released July 31.

If you’re not all the way down with the realization that Justin Toland is the man when it comes to heavy soul and blues guitar, Dirty Streets‘ new live record, Rough and Tumble, will set you straight, and it won’t even take that long. With the all-killer bass and drums of Thomas Storz and Andrew Denham behind, Toland reminds of what a true virtuoso player can accomplish when put in a room with a crowd to watch. That’s an important message for any time, let alone right now. These cats always deliver.

Amenra, Mass VI Live

amenra mass vi live

Released Aug. 7

Look, I’m not gonna sit here and pretend I’m the biggest Amenra fan in the world. I’m not. Sometimes I feel like they follow too many of their own rules for their own good, but there’s no question that live they’re well served by the spectacle they create, and their atmospherics are genuinely affecting. And I know that I’m in the minority in my position, so for anyone who digs them hard, they put up this stream-turned-record wherein they play a goodly portion of 2017’s Mass VI, and even as the self-professed not-biggest-fan-in-the-world, I can appreciate their effort and the screamy-scream-crushy-crush/open-spaced ambience that ensues.

Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

Electric Moon Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

Releasing Sept. 4.

Yeah, okay, this one’s not out yet, but sometimes I’m lucky enough to get things early for review and sometimes (on good days) those things happen to be new live records from Germany psychonauts Electric Moon. The Always-Out-There-Sula-Komets are in top form on Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019 as one would have to expect, and they’re streaming a 22-minute version of “777” now that rips so hard it sounds like it’s about to tear a hole into an alternate dimension where shows are still going on so yes please everyone go and listen to it and maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll really happen. The magic was in you all along.

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Doom City Fest Announces Inaugural Lineup for 2020

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

doom city fest 2020 logo

Some pretty grim artwork, and a heavy-ass show to go with it. The first-ever Doom City Fest is set for Feb. 22, 2020, in Mexico City, and it presents some immediately impressive international pull. Amid national acts 33Fumata, Satánico Pandemonium and Malamadre, you’ll note that a significant portion of the top of the bill comes from abroad. European post-metal forerunners Amenra, from Belgium, will headline, and Germany’s Mantar, Canada’s Tekarra and America’s The Obsessed and -(16)- will round out the nine-band all-dayer lineup. It’s a pretty striking assemblage, and at least within the more weighted end of the sonic spectrum, wants little for variety.

For the many festivals that populate the planet at this point, putting one together — even one that’s only a single day — is no minor task in terms of coordination and presentation, who needs to be where, what’s it going to look like and sound like and all the rest of it. Getting nine bands from your neighborhood on the same lineup is hard enough. To have a bill where the majority are coming across borders to play? And it’s your first one? I tip my hat to Doom City Fest 2020.

Info and ticket links, as per the social medias:

doom city fest 2020 poster

Doom City Fest 2020 – Feb. 22 – Mexico City

Arriving in Mexico City: Doom City Fest with a strong and fine selection of exponents of underground music in genres such as Doom Metal, Sludge, Post-Metal, Stoner and other aspects of heavy music.

The first edition of this festival will take place in Sangriento, one of the most interesting venues in the northern part of the Mexico City necropolis located in the ruins of an old factory.

? Limited tickets in early bird phase already on sale at $750.00 mxn
Until December 31TH OR SOLD OUT ? http://bit.ly/Doom-City-Fest.

An initiatory rite in the maelstrom of abysmal riffs, convulsive amplitudes and entheogenic frequencies.

LINEUP:
Amenra (Be)
The Obsessed (EE.UU.)
MANTAR (Ale)
16 (EE.UU.)
Tekarra (Can)
Fumata (Mx)
33 (Mx)
Malamadre (Mx)
Satánico Pandemonium (Mx)

Tickets: http://bit.ly/Doom-City-Fest

https://www.facebook.com/DoomCityFest/
https://www.facebook.com/events/434951907450787/

The Obsessed, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2019

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Desertfest Berlin 2020: Witchcraft, Amenra, 1000mods, The Vintage Caravan & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

desertfest berlin 2020 banner

Desertfest Berlin 2020’s second lineup announcement arrives in coordinated fashion with that of Desertfest London 2020, and even so, finds the two festivals beginning to distinguish themselves from each other. Of course, there are shared factors — Witchcraft will play both, as well as Spirit Adrift — but while there’s always a chance some bands from the one will still be added to the other, as of now, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, 1000modsAmenra and The Vintage Caravan are exclusive to the German edition of the festival series. I have zero insight or insider information to offer, so we’ll see if it stays that way, but for now, both Spring Desertfests seem to be growing on their own into something badass, sharing a bit but also having plenty to stand apart.

And Witchcraft headlining certainly doesn’t hurt either. I mean, really.

Here’s the Berlin announcement:

desertfest berlin 2020 poster

WITCHCRAFT, AMENRA, 1000MODS, THE VINTAGE CARAVAN, PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS and SPIRIT ADRIFT confirmed for DESERTFEST BERLIN 2020!!!

Friends, here we goooooo!

They belong to the most distinctive bands of the Swedish psychedelic classic rock, their sound influenced the heavy rock scene for decades, but they also rarely appear live on stage: The more we are proud to welcome legendary Witchcraft in 2020! This show will already mark a true milestone and unforgettable highlight in the history of Desertfest.

Joining them on the bill are atmospheric post-metal overlords, Amenra, who will turn the ARENA BERLIN stage into a mesmerizing sound landscape. Putting all their heart and soul into every note, word and visuals, AMENRA change the course of people’s lives everywhere their path leads them. After London and their highly acclaimed show at the Electric Ballroom last year, we’re thrilled to become a part of this path in 2020. And because your wish is our command: They are one of the most beloved and requested bands on our socials – yes, your prayers have been heard!

Greek fuzz rock unit 1000mods, THE hottest band in within the current heavy rock scene, will be finally back at Desertfest Berlin. On this special show you’ll be listening to some amazing new tunes from their upcoming album (which is recorded as we “speak” in Seattle), for the very first time! With an average age of nearly 23 years old, Icelandic rockers The Vintage Caravan show a maturity worthy of any band that has been on the road for decades. When the band got on stage at the 2012 edition of the Icelandic Eistnaflug festival, the trio was only allowed to enter the venue accompanied by their parents. The charismatic band released 3 critically acclaimed records to date, their career has been impressive while they toured the globe with bands alike Europe, Blues Pills, Grand Magus or just currently with Opeth to name just a few. Desertfesters, bring your mums and dads, too, when THE VINTAGE CARAVAN will roll over our beloved Desertfest Berlin in 2020!

Furthermore we will see Newcastle’s maximalists, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, whose riffs, raw power and rancour have blazed a trail across the darker quarters of the underground in the last five years, finally bring their mighty tsunami of rancorous riffage and unholy abjection over us in Berlin!

Last but not least, today’s’ second and killer announcement will be rounded up by Phoenix-based, Spirit Adrift, who are carving out a sound now patently its own. Lazily labelled Doom by some, the band is in fact the true representation of what modern Heavy Metal should sound like.? Folks, we hope you dig this second announcement as much as we do, while dozens of bands are still to be announced in the weeks ahead!

Treat yourself or your loved ones with an early X-Mas gift, and purchase your Weekend Ticket now at: www.desertfest.de

We can’t wait to party with ya’ll at our 9th edition, May 1st – 3rd at DesertFest Berlin 2020!

https://www.facebook.com/events/520164272080736/
www.desertfest.de
www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
www.instagram.com/desertfest_berlin

Witchcraft, Live at Tons of Rock 2018, Norway

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Live Review: YOB, Voivod & Amenra in Brooklyn, 04.04.19

Posted in Reviews on April 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

YOB (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I arrived at the Warsaw in Brooklyn early enough to go to the market across the street and buy gum, go inside the venue and use the restroom, come back out and meander a bit and still be first in line to get in the door to see YOB, Voivod and Amenra, so yes, I was eager to see the show. And I’ll confess that after seeing Voivod in August at Psycho Las Vegas (review here) and Amenra at Høstsabbat (review here) in Oslo this past October, the band I was most overdue in seeing was YOB. It would be my first YOB gig since the release last year of Our Raw Heart (review here) on Relapse and going back even further than that to 2015. It’s been an adventurous couple of years, but still, that’s unacceptable.

Fortunately for me and everyone else in the venue — and perhaps, given the volume, everyone on the entire block — YOB were headlining. Amenra were soundchecking before doors opened and this would be my first time seeing them not in a festival setting. Being somewhat used to the Belgium-based forerunners of European post-metal with a high-grade production value in terms of lights, projections, strobe effects and so on, I was interested to find out how it would translate to a smaller stage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were blisteringly intense. The drastic contrast of their ambience and weighted sway seemed especially powerful as I stood by the low-end side of the stage for the lurching “Plus Près de Toi” from 2017’s Mass VI. They’ve been to Brooklyn at least once each year since that record came out, but in this context, they brought a headliner presence to the opening slot. There wasn’t one band of the three who wouldn’t readily headline their own tour.

Amenra probably aren’t a band I’d seek out on their own, but I’ve never regretted watching them play when I’ve had occasion to do so, and from where I sit there’s no denying the creative force behind cuts like “Razoreater” and “A Solitary Reign,” both of which were aired at the Warsaw ahead of the finale of “Diaken” from the last album. They’re maybe a bit tighter in their conception of what they do than I can fully appreciate, but they remain sonically devastating, and for the contrast with Canadian sci-fi metal legends Voivod alone, it was a fascinating experience. The sheer incongruity of the one into the other was a sight to behold, but once the switch was flipped and Voivod went on, the whole vibe in the room changed and went along with them, the Quebecois four-piece running through a set of classics and newer songs, smiling all the while.

They are a very, very specific kind of fun. It’s not everyone’s kind of fun, otherwise Voivod would’ve become Metallica, but their alien-rhythm punk-metal-proto-thrash-prog remains not so much ahead of its time, but from its own dimension. The opened with “Post Society” and vocalist Denis “Snake” Bélanger mentioned ahead of “Obsolete Beings” that they’d recently won the Juno award for metal with their latest album, The Wake, from whence that song comes, but if it was more recent stuff or “Into My Hypercube” from 1989’s Nothingface and “The Lost Machine” from 1993’s The Outer Limits, they were absolutely unmistakable, and as was the case last summer in the sweltering Las Vegas heat, theirs was among the most unabashedly joyful performances I’ve ever seen from a band that might be considered in any way. Voivod were having their very own kind of fun.

It was infectious, and I think if there was going to be a vaccine, it probably would’ve been developed sometime in the last 38 years. They ended the night with “Voivod” and a heartfelt shout to founding guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, who passed away in 2005, before the band got even that portion of “their due” that they’ve received up to now. I’m not sure I’d put a percentage to that, but I know it’s on the low side, and when they were done, Snake, founding drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, bassist Dominique “Rocky” Laroche and guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain took time to pass out their setlists and shake hands in the crowd. It sounds corny to say, but they were essentially sharing their love for what they do with the audience, both while they were playing and after. They’re one of the most admirable bands on the planet, for that as well as the decades of aesthetic innovation.

And then YOB played. Ha.

Let’s face it. YOB have been at it one way or another for the last 20-plus years, and they’ve only ever pushed themselves forward. I think every single seeing-YOB-is-a-spiritual-experience cliché has been exhausted at this point in their career — true though it otherwise might be — so I’ll spare you that, but I think it’s worth taking a minute to appreciate the relentless creativity that drives the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster. And that’s not just a question of longevity. YOB don’t put out records because, “okay, well, we gotta go get back on tour, so we need to make an album.” They do it because they have something to express emotionally or something to contemplate and process through music. Their work has never ceased growing, and as they opened their set by tearing a chasm through the universe with “Prepare the Ground,” I couldn’t help but think how incredibly special and rare a band they are. To wit, there is one YOB. Eight billion people walking around the planet or something like that. One YOB.

The set was “Prepare the Ground,” “Kosmos,” “The Lie that is Sin,” “Marrow,” “Grasping Air” and “Burning the Altar,” and if six songs doesn’t sound like much to you, I humbly invite you to go listen to any single one of those cuts somewhere on the internet and be bowled over by them. “Marrow” had eyes moistened throughout the venue, and they brought out bassist Levy Seynaeve from Amenra to do guest vocals on “Grasping Air,” which I have a hard time thinking of as anything other than a dream come true. Even before that though, “Kosmos” and “The Lie that is Sin” made for a particularly resonant pairing ahead of “Marrow,” building on the momentous nod of “Prepare the Ground” with methodical groove that is continually YOB‘s own. Like I said at the outset, it had been too long. I didn’t realize until I was standing there watching them just how much too long it had been. Much too long.

No encore, but none necessary after “Burning the Altar.” I was kind of in a daze after that, to be honest, but stayed a couple minutes to chat rather than darting back to the car. It was a scheduling glitch that got me to see this show in Brooklyn rather than Boston, but no regrets. Nights like this one don’t happen all the time, and to not take advantage when they do is to genuinely miss out.

Thanks for reading. More pics after the jump.

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Up in Smoke 2019 Announces Amenra, The Obsessed, Lo-Pan, Mantar, No Mute and Hathors

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Here we are, it’s not even March yet, and already the Fall festival season is starting to take shape. We know Amenra will be around celebrating their 20th anniversary, and The Obsessed and Lo-Pan have already had other confirmations as well — possible they’re touring together? — and Mantar continue to get heavy rock bookings despite not at all being a heavy rock band, which is hilarious and ongoing in kind. Up in Smoke, like Keep it Low, is a Sound of Liberation-backed event, so it makes sense to find the likes of agency mainstays Greenleaf and My Sleeping Karma on the bill, and we already know Elephant Tree will have a new album out, so they’ll be touting that as they go. I don’t think they’re anywhere near done announcing bands for the now-three-dayer, but it already looks like a win. Simple as that.

And airfare, I guess.

Announcement from the fest follows, as seen on the social medias:

up in smoke 2019 banner

UP IN SMOKE – AMENRA + THE OBSESSED + MANTAR + LO-PAN + NO MUTE + HATHORS!

Smokers!
We’re back with a new batch of great bands, who are eager to share their great music with you. This time we’re also presenting the first Swiss bands for this year’s festival. Legendary Z7 offers two big stages and a fantastic atmosphere. It’s with big honour that we present the following bands for you;

AMENRA, one of Europe’s leading forces when we’re talking about post metal. Their live performances are legendary and the heaviness from their music will probably make you gasp for oxygen. With six critically acclaimed albums on their CV, lots of splits and a few EP’s there will for sure be expectations and also dedication from you guys. Drum beats that sounds like an explosion, guitar and bass riffs so heavy that they turn your gut upside down and then everything breaks down to a melodic paradise. That’s very much what Amenra is all about.

THE OBSESSED, do they really need an introduction? The band has broken up a few times and somehow Wino has continued to believe in the bands mission and reformed it every time after a few years break. Last time he reformed The Obsessed were in 2016, then he also signed a deal with Relapse records. In 2017, 23 years after “The Church Within”, they released “Sacred” which is their fourth studio album. We are happy to give you the opportunity to experience the bands doomy sound and the great voice of Wino.

MANTAR shocked the metal underground five years ago with their debut album “Death By Burning”. During the past five years the duos extreme music has convinced lovers of heavy music that this is the real deal. You may call the music what you want, the only thing we’re sure of is that it isn’t doom or sludge. The duo’s live performances are an energetic madness that doesn’t leave anybody emotionally untouched. Get ready for heavy riffs, uncompromising music and an intense stage show, these two guys are heavier than most other bands.

LO PAN is the band that you can play on your first date with somebody who say they doesn’t like heavy music. The guys know how to perfectly blend melodies with heavy riffs. There is that intensity in the band’s music and still they manage to keep these melodies in there. A great vocalist that has the power and a great stage personality where he tries to hide behind the drumkit. There is a new album right around the corner and that’s going to be massive. If you can’t wait any longer, just put on “Marathon Man” and push that volume knob to 11.

HATHORS is a trio from Winterthur that has released three albums since their formation in 2010. Sometimes they bring some punk rock herbs to their music, which normally is in the vein of rock/alternative rock. It’s a nerve to their music that infects you, the listener, with energy and the desire jump around and be a part of the party.

NO MUTE is a Swiss rock band formed in 2006. They are from a little town called Olten between Zurich and Berne. Their music is dirty, distorted and energetic, simply put hotter than hell. They go with the classic rock ‘n’ roll line-up with drums, bass, guitar and a spastic vocalist. This is all about the good live performance, they always try to give you the show of your lifetime.

https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte/36-tickets-up-in-smoke-konzertfabrik-z7-pratteln-am-03-10-2019
http://www.z-7.ch/event.php?eventid=1665
https://www.facebook.com/UpInSmokeIndoorFestivalInZ7/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1811016498954043/
https://www.upinsmoke.de

Lo-Pan, Live in Cleveland, OH, Jan. 5, 2019

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