Blutbad to Release Alcohodyssey Jan. 31; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

blutbad

You like stoner rock chicanery? You like dudes in space? You like charm? Well, here you go. Blutbad waste no time in tapping into stoner rock’s timeless, silly and generally-intoxicated appeal, and their beery Alcohodyssey — which, man, I’m having trouble with; I keep leaving out the ‘ho,’ so it’s just ‘alcodyssey’; these are the things that plague me — is set to release at the end of January through Argonauta Records. In honor of launching preorders, the video for “Alcohodyssey Pt. 1,” which is subtitled as “Alcohodyssey Pt. 1 (The Space Adventures of the Hopshunters)” — because of course it is — the has also come out and, well, my sincere appreciation and maybe sympathy for the dude they decided should dress like a robot for it. Everyone else got to show up mostly casual, or maybe with a little cyborg implant here and there, but my man went all out. Someone had to. Had to be done.

The art is comic style, again, because of course it is, and can be found below, with album info, preorder link, and the aforementioned video. All came down the PR wire and magically turned blue:

blutbad Alcohodyssey

BLUTBAD Signs With Argonauta Records + Unleashes Album Details & Music Video!

They are fast, loud and rude, and they will be coming for you: Italy’s heavy groove and stoner rockers, BLUTBAD, have inked a worldwide deal with the ever-growing Argonauta Records, who will release the band’s first, full length studio album, titled Alcohodyssey, on January 31st 2020!

Following their 2017, self-released Extrarock EP, BLUTBAD continue to burst into the scene with an authentic sound that mixes Rock’n’Roll’s fast guitars, heavy Stoner riffs, Punk’s Tupa Tupa and the attitude of Motörhead-alike 90s metal and heavy rock prototypes. While the band successfully manages to create a sound that is different from the usual, they are especially a lot of fun to listen to and experience live – and will be highly recommended for fans of Red Fang, Municipal Waste and alikes! Today BLUTBAD have not only announced the signing with well-respected underground label Argonauta Records, but have also unleashed the first details of their upcoming debut album plus a first and fun video to the single Alcohodyssey Part.1. Get on a space trip with BLUTBAD and watch the video HERE!

Album Tracklist:
01 Lost in Space (feat. Kristallo)
02 Alcohodyssey part.1 (The space adventures of the hopshunters)
03 Die Alone
04 Sunday of Living Dead
05 Space Trumps
06 I want to believe
07 Alcohodyssey part.2 (The great escape from Bikini planet)
08 Steam Road
09 Interstellaris 0042
10 Flash Goldon (feat. Niko from Own Paw Thee Die)
11 Arcade Mood (feat. Kristallo)

The Alcohodyssey will be taking place on January 31st 2020, on CD and in Digital formats with Argonauta Records – the pre-sale has just started at THIS LOCATION!

BLUTBAD is:
Tomi Versetti – Vocals
Manu Il Bello – Guitar/Vocals
Michael Deon – Bass
Davide Tonin – Drums

www.theblutbaden.wixsite.com/website
www.facebook.com/blutbadnoise
www.instagram.com/blutbadnoise
www.argonautarecords.com
www.facebook.com/argonautarecords

Blutbad, “Alcohodyssey Pt. 1” official video

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BBF Stream New Single “Sun”; Outside the Noise Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bbf

So, the promo stuff for BBF‘s second album plays up a psych-funky aspect to their sound, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, as far as I’m concerned. When I listen to the new single “Sun,” though, which you can stream below, I get even more of a grunge vibe. Yeah there’s some acid funk shimmer in the lead tone and the vocals are surely carrying a good bit of soul — again, always welcome — but if it’s funk, it’s definitely not just funk, if you know what I’m saying.

While I’m refusing to disparage things, however, I’ll point out two considerations. One, the song rules. Two, diversity of sound is nearly a universal positive. So it’s a win either way. The release date for their record is in December, but I’m going to try not to let this one slip through the year-end cracks — there are so many — and will hope to have more to come before the record is out, though if you don’t want to wait, preorders are up now.

Info from the PR wire:

bbf-outside-the-noise

Psychedelic funk rock trio BBF reveal album details + first single!

Outside the Noise coming December 6th on Argonauta Records!

After rising label Argonauta Records have announced one of their recent band signings by welcoming Italy’s psychedelic, stoner and acid funk rock band BBF to their eclectic artist roster, today we finally get to hear some first tunes taken from the band’s upcoming, sophomore album Outside the Noise! Set for a release on December 6th 2019, you can now stream a first single to the soothing track Sun. Dive into the sound landscape of BBF right HERE!

BBF were formed in 2016 by Pietro Brunetti, Claudio Banelli and Carlo Forgiarini, who all share a deep-rooted passion for the sound of the 60s, 70s and everything that springs out of its creative sound and the world of rock. After the release of BBF’s first studio LP, Beside Everything We Need 70s, the band went through a period of great introspection, which helped them to become much more aware of their possibilities as musicians; new songs came to life, with a new and much more sophisticated and mature sound. In November 2018, the trio barricaded themselves in the studio to record their second album Outside The Noise, a psychedelic conceptual LP that wishes to help bodies and minds develop a greater sense of awareness and connection.

“This album was recorded entirely on tape, in an isolated home in the middle of the mountains of our region, in an environment which was completely deprived of any kind of noise.” BBF explains. “Our band was going through a pretty difficult time – things were not at all going smoothly between us and our personal life as well was going through quite a rough patch. This work therefore wishes to reflect this tough period of time and, especially, wishes to reflect our own willingness to escape all of the damn noise that was – and still is – surrounding us and flooding our minds. These 8 songs came out spontaneously, they were not planned, and they are the representation of all the difficult moments that each of us went through. They were conceptually similar to one another even before we developed the main conceptual idea of the album. The passing of time and a newly-developed awareness allowed us to align our minds and to embark upon the journey that would then become Outside the Noise.”

Outside the Noise Tracklisting:
1. Apollo
2. Third Eye
3. Time
4. Outside The Noise
5. Into The Light
6. Kaleidoscope
7. Sun
8. Harvest Moon (Ghost track)

Outside the Noise is available to pre-order via the Argonauta Records store at THIS LOCATION!

BBF is:
Pietro Brunetti (Electric bass, synth, vocals)
ClaudioBanelli (Electric and acoustic guitar, vocals)
Carlo Forgiarini (Drums and percussions)

www.facebook.com/BBFtrio
www.instagram.com/bbftrio
www.argonautarecords.com

BBF, “Sun”

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Queen Elephantine to Start Gorgon Release Tour Nov. 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

queen elephantine

The new Queen Elephantine album, Gorgon, is out Nov. 8 through Argonauta Records and Atypeek Music, and the night before, they’ll begin a Northeastern run to support the release, playing Philly and Baltimore and Richmond before turning back north to Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, closing out in scenic Montclair, New Jersey. The Connecticut show is particularly notable since I think it’s their first time there and they’ll share the stage with local largesse-bringers Sea of Bones which, well, if you ever had a mind to have your entire being swallowed by tone at a gig, that might just be the night to make it happen. Also nifty that Matt Couto of Elder and Kind is sitting in on percussion (he also plays synth on the record, so there’s that) for the run alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Indrayudh Shome and a seemingly expansive cast of cohorts.

An entirely underrated band whose work genuinely deserves more attention than it’s ever gotten to this point. They should tour more, but hey, maybe this is a start.

They posted the dates on thee social medias as follows:

queen elephentine november tour

In two weeks we hit the road to celebrate the release of our new album GORGON, which drops November 8th on Argonauta Records and Atypeek Music.

We’re playing with amazing artists throughout including Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing a solo “Drums & Drones” set in Brooklyn, our cosmic friends darsombra, the ten-ton thunder of Sea of Bones, Azonic (mems of Khanate and Blind Idiot God), Baltimore heavies BLACK LUNG, noise rockers tile and Hex Machine, and in Providence the dirt royalty of The Hammer Party, and the otherworldly drone violence of Rectrix (Pippi Zornoza) and Gyna Bootleg (Steph Nieves).

The core lineup will be Indrayudh Shome (guitar/vocal), Nathanael Totushek (drums), Camden Healy (bass), Brett Zweiman (synth), Matthew Couto (percussion), with appearances from Samer Ghadry, Ian Sims, Matthew Becker, Derek Fukumori, and Srinivas Reddy.

NOVEMBER 2019
7 – Philadelphia PA (Century)
8 – Baltimore MD (The Crown)
9 – Richmond VA (Wonderland)
10 – Harrisburg PA (JB Lovedraft’s)
14 – Brooklyn NY (Sunnyvale)
15 – Hamden CT (The Cellar on Treadwell)
16 – Providence RI (AS220)
17 – Montclair NJ (The Meatlocker)

www.queenelephantine.com
www.queenelephantine.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/queenelephantine
www.argonautarecords.com
www.atypeekmusic.com

Queen Elephantine, “Mars”

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Monte Luna, Drowners’ Wives: Open World Gameplay

Posted in Reviews on October 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monte luna drowners wives

With Drowners’ Wives, their second album, Austin, Texas’ Monte Luna not only make their debut on Argonauta Records but show a clear sense of having learned a few crucial lessons from their first about their overall direction and what they’re looking to accomplish as a band. At roughly 34 minutes long, Drowners’ Wives takes its central lyrical inspiration from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, with Drowners being a kind of monster one encounters that eats corpses. Fun. Despite this cohesion of theme, its shortened runtime is a bit over half the length of that 71-minute 2017 self-titled (review here), but with both albums carrying six component tracks, the change comes from writing shorter songs rather than simply including less of them. The longest cut on Drowners’ Wives, for example, is the 8:30 closer “Scenes from a Marriage,” with its deep-mixed organ, atmospheric vocal swirl in the second half, and scathing screams in its later apex capping the record. Time well spent, to be sure, and not an insignificant length by most measures. In relation to the debut, apart from the four-minute “The Burning of Elohim,” which was more or less an intro (if one with vocals), “Scenes from a Marriage” would be more than a minute shorter than the next shortest track, which itself was something of an aberration for being under 12 minutes long.

Clearly a change in intent on the part of bassist/guitarist/vocalist James Clarke and drummer/effects-specialist Phil Hook, and one that, honestly works to the benefit of allowing the material on Drowners’ Wives to shine and giving each song a better chance of being digested by the average listener. That’s not to decry a long album generally or to take anything away from Monte Luna‘s first outing, which was a grower and a righteous one at that, just to note that in this case, the approach they take is to the benefit of highlighting a more diverse sound. It is one bolstered as well by a few guest appearances throughout. Jaime Ramirez handles the aforementioned organ on “Scenes from a Marriage” and also “Man of Glass,” while Tommy Munter plays bass on the speedy-shuffling side A closer “Night of Long Fangs,” Jeff Klien guitar on chug-fuzzed second cut “The Butcher of Blaviken” and Steve Colca of Destroyer of Light on opener “The Water Hag,” which builds its riff from the ground up at the outset of the record and engages a call and response vocally during the verse between Clarke and Colca that is an effective initial hook in itself while still providing one of Drowners’ Wives‘ heaviest and most lumbering riffs. Perhaps unsurprisingly there’s stiff competition in that regard, but if anything, Monte Luna emphasize this time out that they’re not just interested in unipolarity as a band. They’re here to do more than bludgeon with tone and crash, and the manner in which they realize that assertion in these six songs suits them remarkably well, and while any record that features a list of guests that’s longer than the list of actual members runs the risk of seeing the core band’s identity subsumed, Monte Luna run into no such trouble. By the time they’re through “The Butcher of Blaviken,” it’s clear who they are. They’re the ones doing whatever the hell they want and pulling it off.

monte luna

To wit, the later reaches of “The Butcher of Blaviken” devolve the emergent plod into an outward-bound instrumental jam that seems to churn itself to pieces as it works toward its eventual end. There’s a memorable lead line included there, but still. That makes “Night of Long Fangs” all the more a punch to the face when it starts its immediately and brash sub-four-minute pummel, with early High on Fire‘s marauding sensibility given more stylistic breadth and malleable vocals. As it invariably would, the uptick of speed leads to a slowdown in the back half of “Night of Long Fangs” — about, of course, a vampire hunt — and the thicker riff that takes hold soon enough cedes ground to a drone and Hook‘s drumming on “Wild Hunt,” which, whether it’s considered an interlude on a linear format or an intro to side B of the vinyl is a well-positioned momentary breather that nonetheless expands the reach of Drowners’ Wives as a whole through its tribalism and ambient aspects, setting up a dug-in closing duo in “Man of Glass” and “Scenes from a Marriage” that feels all the more urgent upon arrival and thus all the more effective. There’s a down-to-sludge-rock-business feel that pervades the beginnings of both songs that’s enough to make me wonder if they were written first, but they’re well paired either way, both moving into harsher vocals even as the otherwise massively-toned guitars prove expansive and Clarke‘s voice presents a gamut of influences from Bongzilla to Queens of the Stone Age, depending on what the song calls for at the time.

That last part is perhaps the key to understanding where Monte Luna are coming from on Drowners’ Wives. While they’ve based the album’s theme around Witcher lore and have at least at one or two points they use samples direct from the game itself, the chief accomplishment of the album is how much the two-piece make the sound their own. It might seem counterintuitive, with itinerant company coming through even unto the organ in “Scenes from a Marriage,” but none of the contributions feels superfluous in terms of the material’s impact, which remains the central concern no matter where an individual piece might go, be it “The Water Hag” with its swinging catchiness or the intensity that crowns the finale. Monte Luna thrives in each scenario they present here not just because they add elements to arrangements of their own guitar, bass, drums and/or vocals, but because those additions make the songs a richer listening experience. It seems like a simple idea, but it’s not always so easy when it comes to execution, and having shorter tracks is a part of it as well. I won’t profess to know what they might do their next time out, but for the sense of themselves and the will toward individualism they so strongly declare across Drowners’ Wives, it’ll be all the more exciting to find out.

Monte Luna, Drowners’ Wives (2019)

Monte Luna on Thee Facebooks

Monte Luna on Bandcamp

Monte Luna on Instagram

Argonauta Records website

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Bible Black Tyrant Premiere “Valorous”; Announce New Album Encased in Iron

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on October 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bible black tyrant

Like their 2018 debut, Regret Beyond Death, Bible Black Tyrant‘s second album, the forthcoming Encased in Iron is a lesson in the sense of claustrophobia that post-metal can evoke when taken to a crushing extreme. Due out almost exactly two years to the day (just off by 12 days) from the issuance of its predecessor, on Feb. 28, 2020, through Argonauta Records, the Portland, Oregon, two-piece’s sophomore offering brings together five tracks of inhuman(e) punishment at the behest of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Aaron D.C. Edge, whose history in sundry acts is documented enough around these parts that I don’t feel like I need to rattle off the list of bands he’s been in — a small sampling is in the PR wire info below anyhow — but Bible Black Tyrant are distinguished through the sheer intensity of the material and the atmospherics conjured. It is an intense presence brought to bear by Edge and drummer Tyler Smith (also of Eagle Twin), and all the more focused the second time around.

The fact that there even is a second album should tell you something, as generally Aaron Edge goes through bands the way most bands go through records, but one way or the other, Bible Black Tyrant‘s continuance has resulted in an all-the-more devastating aural havoc. It’s too methodical to call chaotic, but the churning intensity is undeniable, as the premiering track “Valorous” at the bottom of this post readily demonstrates. The word “tortured” gets thrown around a lot when it comes to heavy music. This or that sounds “tortured,” or “agonized,” etc. It’s a cliché of which I’m certainly guilty as well — I’m tortured about it, rest assured — but listening to Encased in Iron and then reading Edge‘s comments on the record (also below) wherein he says, “we are mistreated and then forgotten; that is the human experience,” the usage only seems to be appropriate. This record is fucking tortured. It is agonizing. It is brutal. I don’t think you could hear a song like “Panic Inducer” or even the drone-laced finale “Sickening Thrum” and say otherwise.

It’s a quick listen at 25 minutes, but don’t expect much by way of mercy in that time.

Here’s info and audio and links:

Bible Black Tyrant Encased in Iron

BIBLE BLACK TYRANT (feat. Lumbar’s Aaron Edge & Tyler Smith of Eagle Twin) Reveal Album Details And Unleash First Single Of Sophomore Record!

Encased in Iron due out in February 2020 on Argonauta Records!

Their sound pummels, you feel it in your guts. It disturbs your mind but gives you the chills to the same time. It’s the apocalypse and pure perfection of all that is heavy: Noise Doom duo BIBLE BLACK TYRANT, featuring masterminds Aaron D.C. Edge and Tyler Smith – renowned members of bands such as Eagle Twin, Lumbar, Ramprasad, Form of Rocket, Minor Fret, Canyon of the Crescent Moon and Hellvetika – returns with their sophomore album, Encased in Iron, on February 28th 2020 with Argonauta Records! Following their highly acclaimed, 2018-debut album, Regret Beyond Death, today the heavy music veterans have revealed the hotly anticipated details of their second, full-length album, and unleashed a first single!

“‘Encased in Iron’, Bible Black Tyrant’s second release, focuses on the torture that is human existence.” Aaron Edge comments. “A black curse, whispered perverse by loved ones that spit on us. Tasting bile, and the salt of our own tears in this vault. Savoring our own severed tongues. Trying to utter sounds while boiling. Do you know how you taste while trapped and locked in a box? As the steel heats, bravery is replaced with fear. Life in the iron cage, with little air to breathe, starving. We are mistreated and then forgotten; that is the human experience.”

Encased in Iron Tracklisting:
1. A Snowflake of Death’s Denial
2. Valorous
3. Panic Inducer
4. Infinite Stages of Grief
5. Sickening Thrum

BIBLE BLACK TYRANT’s upcoming album was recorded by Aaron Edge at Myelin Studio, while the drums were documented and mixed by Andy Patterson at The Boar’s Nest. With a final mix and mastering by Eric Leavell at Husk Recording, the pre-sale for Encased in Iron – available on LP, CD and Digital formats February 28th 2020 – has just begun via the Argonauta Records store at THIS LOCATION. Highly recommended for fans of Iron Monkey, Eyehategod, Cursed, Indian, Keelhaul, and Cavity!

BIBLE BLACK TYRANT is:
Aaron D.C. Edge: Guitar / Bass / Cello / Midi / Vocals
Tyler Smith: Drums

Bible Black Tyrant, “Valorous” official track premiere

Bible Black Tyrant on Thee Facebooks

Bible Black Tyrant on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Shadow Witch Post New Single “Wolf Among the Sheep”; Under the Shadow of a Witch out Early 2020

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

shadow witch

Oh hey, what’s Shadow Witch up to? If that’s the question you’re asking, you probably already know the answer: “Something.” These cats are almost always up to something. They must be itching to get their new album, Under the Shadow of a Witch, released by now, as it was first announced late last year when they signed to Argonauta Records, it’s been given a still-kinda-nebulous “early 2020” due date, and they’re posting a song from it anyhow at least three months in advance of its actual arrival. Understandable. Nobody likes sitting on new material. And frankly, if I had a song sitting around that sounds as cool as “Wolf Among the Sheep” — as much classic metal as it is dark heavy rock — I’d probably want people to hear it too. And longer-term marketing concerns aside, the track is certainly welcome.

And okay, a word about the cover art for Under a Shadow of a Witch. “Nightmarish.” I guess that’s the one word. It’s not the kind of thing I’d want on a t-shirt, but they have a history of striking art one way or another, it’s bound to be noticed, and it’s oddly appropriate to the vibe of “Wolf Among the Sheep.” But yeah. Nightmarish. I have to think that’s what they were going for.

Here’s the announcement from the PR wire and the stream of the track:

shadow witch under the shadow of a witch

Kingston, New York, doom rock collective SHADOW WITCH premieres single of upcoming album!

Under The Shadow Of A Witch will haunt you in early 2020 on Argonauta Records!

Kingston, New York, dark ‘n doom heavy rockers Shadow Witch, have finally revealed the first details about their upcoming, third full length titled Under The Shadow Of A Witch! Set for a release in early 2020, today the music veterans collective has shared the album artwork, created by Shadow Witch’ voice and primary lyricist Earl Lundy, as well as a first single to the track Wolf Among The Sheep.

Says the band:”We’re very excited about this release, and the new partnership with Argonauta Records. The record takes SHADOW WITCH places we haven’t ventured before, both sonically and emotionally. There’s a lot of vulnerability in the lyrics and the vocal performance, and the band worked hard to match that. We’re very proud of the results. This first taste of the album, “WOLF AMONG THE SHEEP”, stands alone in that it’s the only song with possible political overtones. Production-wise though, it very much flows with the rest of the material. We’re really psyched for y’all to hear what we’ve been up to.”

Listen to the appetizer, Wolf Among The Sheep, that makes hunger for more!

SHADOW WITCH is:
Scott Wadowski – drums
David Pannullo – bass
Earl Lundy – voice / mellotron / loops
Jeremy Hall – guitars

www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band
www.shadowwitch.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com

Shadow Witch, “Wolf Among the Sheep”

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Queen Elephantine to Release Gorgon Nov. 8; New Song Posted

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

queen elephantine

Nov. 8 is the release date for the new Queen Elephantine album, Gorgon, and if you perchance think that isn’t information vital to your day, you should get yourself a handle on the streaming track from the thing, called “Mars,” that you can hear at the bottom of this post. Now based in Philly as much as they’ve ever been based anywhere, the experimentalist troupe led by guitarist/vocalist Indrayudh Shome dig well into their jazz-meets-drone-doom ritualizing in full force and by force I mean the slow momentum of lava over landscape.

I haven’t heard it, but given their history I’d not at all count on any one song to represent the entirety of a Queen Elephantine record, even if the central methodology stays the same across the span, which of course isn’t guaranteed either. Doesn’t feel like too much of a leap to say “Mars” bodes well for the general sound of what might surround it, however. I’ve made more daring speculations in my time, and the band have for sure earned some trust over the years.

They’re on the road in November around the release. Info and dates follow:

queen elephantine gorgon

Experimental Psych Doom rockers QUEEN ELEPHANTINE Unleash Album Details + First Single!

Gorgon coming this November on Argonauta Records!

The avant-garde post-apocalyptic rock unit Queen Elephantine have revealed the first details about their forthcoming, sixth studio album, titled Gorgon. Set for a release on November 8th via Argonauta Records, Gorgon’s dissonant riffs will pull you down a river of unearthly atmospheres, guided by the incantations of sardonic fakirs, unravelling their final sermon before the cosmos combusts. High recommended for fans of acts alike Swans, OM, Circle or Earth, this is a trip through hypnotic molasses grooves – drawn from psychedelia, doom, drone, noise rock as well as free jazz and sacred music from around the world. Formed in 2006 in Hong Kong and currently based in Philadelphia, USA, Queen Elephantine is a nebulous worship of heavy mood and time, who already left their big stamp in the current heavy and psych rock scene. Queen Elephantine have released five albums to date as well as splits with Elder or Sons of Otis.

Today the experimental music collective has shared the cover artwork, tracklist and a first track taken from Gorgon with us. Listen to Mars right HERE!

[ Artwork by Tsem Rinpoche & Nathanael Totushek ]

Gorgon Tracklisting:
1. Mars
2. Unbirth
3. To See Eyes
4. Mercury

Gorgon was produced and mixed by guitarist and vocalist Indrayudh Shome, and mastered by Billy Anderson. In support of their new album, with an LP and CD pre-sale coming soon on Argonauta Records and digital album release with Atypeek Music, Queen Elephantine will embark on a US Northeast Tour this Fall, make sure to catch their mesmerizing live shows at the following dates:

11/7 – Philadelphia PA – Century
11/8 – Baltimore MD – The Crown
11/ 9 – Richmond VA – Wonderland
11/10 – Harrisburg PA – JB Lovedraft’s
11/14 – Brooklyn NY – Sunnyvale
11/15 – New Haven CT – The Cellar on Treadwell
11/16 – Providence RI – AS220
11/17 – Montclair NJ – The Meat Locker

Album Line-Up:
Indrayudh Shome: Guitar, Vocals
Nathanael Totushek: Drums
Camden Healy: Bass
Brett Zweiman: Divine Mosquito Guitar
Samer Ghadry and Ian Sims: Vocals
Matthew Becker: Vocals, Percussion
Matthew Couto: Synthesizers
Srinivas Reddy: Tanpura

www.queenelephantine.com
www.queenelephantine.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/queenelephantine
www.argonautarecords.com
www.atypeekmusic.com

Queen Elephantine, “Mars”

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High Fighter, Champain: Die Strafe Ertönt

Posted in Reviews on September 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

high fighter champain

Oof that’s brutal. The progression that Hamburg, Germany’s High Fighter have undertaken over the course of their now-two full-lengths and their debut EP has seen them become increasingly dark, increasingly metal, and increasingly scathing. On Champain, their 11-song/43-minute second LP and first for Argonauta Records, vocalist Mona Miluski earns consideration among the Angela Gossows of the world for the ferocity of her delivery, and guitarists Christian “Shi” Pappas and Ingwer Boysen, bassist Constantin Wüst and drummer/backing vocalist Thomas Wildelau likewise push into more intense fare, building on the consuming atmosphere that they unleashed in 2016’s memorable Scars and Crosses (review here), making the sludgecore rock of their 2014 debut EP, The Goat Ritual (review here), seem almost quaint in comparison.

The band, who toured steadily to support the first long-player, seem only to have grown darker as a result, and while Miluski‘s throatripper screams are a big part of that, it’s also there in the tones of the guitars and the severity of the drumming in the chorus of a song like “Another Cure,” and the furious drive of the song’s ending. It is an unmistakably metallic aggression, and even as the vocals in that song and elsewhere veer back and forth between screaming and a cleaner approach — highlighting the latter particularly on the closing duo “A Shrine” and “Champain,” but using it wisely throughout to change things up as Miluski has all along in the band’s five-year tenure — that aggression is maintained. No matter where a given song goes, it is not intended to be friendly, or to hypnotize so much as to punch in the face.

Champain is a title I read both as a signal of the level of class in High Fighter‘s execution, which is true, as well as in a life-gives-you-lemons-make-lemonade kind of way. When life gives you pain, make champagne, and so on. Whether or not either was the intent of the band, I don’t know, but they do show a sense of poise amid all the aural throttling of their songcraft, and not just for those moments of clean vocals.

To be sure, Miluski‘s voice is a defining element in High Fighter‘s approach — they’d be an entirely different band without it — but in the near-melodeath of “Shine Equal Dark” or the pointed turns in “When We Suffer,” which also brings in Anton Lisovoj, founding vocalist/bassist of Downfall of Gaia, with whom High Fighter toured last year, for a guest spot, demonstrate plainly that the entire band is on the same page when it comes to aesthetic, or at very least they’re able to convey that with their sound. Consider that despite touring and the direction their material have taken, all five original members remain in the group. That’s relatively rare as a band moves from one record to another in the gritty fashion High Fighter have. It only makes their dynamic stronger throughout Champain, however, as a song like “Dead Gift” proves with its layered hook, crash and head-down churning riff in the post-chorus.

high fighter (Photo by Basti Grim)

The aforementioned “Another Cure” is a standout for its seven-minute runtime, and while I wouldn’t necessarily call its delivery patient, the sheer fact that it takes a longer form than what surrounds — the next longest is opener “Before I Disappear,” at 5:16, while everything else apart from two interludes is in the 3:30-4:30 range — showcases a willingness to change up their take as called for by the material itself. And of course it’s not just that it takes longer to get where it’s going — I was trying to think of whatever the punishing equivalent of Funkytown would be; Scathesville? Flaysberg? Brutalasfuckton? — but that the songwriting earns the distance it travels from one end to the other that makes the difference.

Those noted interludes, “Interlight” on the first half of the album and the obviously-complementary “Interdark” on the second, play a role in giving the listener a chance to breathe before the next round of assault ensues, but neither is much more than a minute long, and whether it’s the semi-djent “Kozel” or the swinging mosher “I Will Not” that follows, leading directly into “Interdark,” there’s plenty to justify the break. Indeed, the momentum High Fighter amass across Champain‘s span becomes no less crucial to the proceedings than the aggression driving the performances themselves, each track feeding into the overarching impression of striking out against suffering inflicted. There are some triumphs and there are some pitfalls conveyed as a part of that, but these too are brought to bear with intent behind them, and the feeling of purpose overall is richer as a result.

And though in some ways, the progression High Fighter have thus far undertaken is a surprise — one might expect a band over time to grow less aggressive, not more — with the allowance that it’s still only been five years/two albums and their longer-term growth will invariably play out over their next several releases, they’ve found a niche somewhere between heavy and mean that is able to draw from both sides effectively and still seem to put songwriting first. That’s something Scars and Crosses did as well, but that Champain does with even greater efficiency, proffering a statement of intent in “Before I Disappear” and then setting up the rest of what follows to expand the argument.

Their sound won’t be for everybody, but it was never supposed to be. Rather, its foundation in metal rather than rock seems to position High Fighter as an automatic surprise on this or that heavy show, fest, whatever it might be, and one suspects that suits the five-piece just fine as they gleefully harsh mellows across the broader European touring market. I’d love to see the faces of the stoner rock hippies when they break out “Shine Equal Dark,” personally. If this is the road High Fighter are heading down, eventually they’re going to have to expose themselves to a more metal audience, but as it is on their second record, they seem to delight in the high-grade skin peel they provide. That only makes it more fun.

High Fighter, “Before I Disappear”

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