The Obelisk Questionnaire: Zac Crye

Posted in Questionnaire on March 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

zac crye

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Zac Crye

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I just like to rock and roll. Most of the decisions I’ve made throughout my life have been weighed against how I can further this artistic endeavor that I’ve undertaken. I try to express myself in the world the way I express myself in my music – I’ve had to really design my life a certain way in order to do the things that I do.

Describe your first musical memory.

There are old photos of me at about age two, and my dad was holding me while he rehearsed with his band. I’m not sure if I can remember that or not, but I definitely have always had this seed in me to be a musician for as far as I can remember. The first thing that really caught my full attention was probably Prince or Michael Jackson, because of the visual aspects.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I was a stagehand at Concrete Street Amphitheater in Corpus Christi, TX, probably around 2011. I was setting up the stage for Judas Priest and Black Label Society. It was right around my son’s second birthday and Zakk Wylde had just released a mini Les Paul Signature guitar. I bought the guitar a month in advance because I knew I would be working this show. I brought in with me to work and I caught Zakk Wylde on the side of the stage. Me and Zakk were standing there watching Judas Priest, and he was signing my son’s guitar. He kept pausing and pointing at the band going “fucking killer!!” and then finished signing the guitar. My son still has the guitar and is a huge fan of Zakk Wylde to this day!

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I used to have this “If you build it, they will come,” mindset. So I would book tours without having the band in order which, on one hand can be very motivating, but on the other hand if you don’t do it correctly it can work against you. In this case, I had put a lot of work into booking the tour but we were traveling around half-assing our performances because we hadn’t had the proper time to prepare. On the flipside – we still had a great time and made a ton of new fans, so I’m not sure what to make of it…

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

A fulfilling life.

How do you define success?

I think each individual has to set the parameters for the type of life they want and then do their best to execute that. That’s what I’m doing, and most of the time, I feel like I am succeeding in life. I don’t really have a firm vision for what success in the music industry would look like because it feels so farfetched to me. I think, if I’m executing the music the way I hear it in my head then that is a success, and the result of that is all secondary to me – my job is to write the next song.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I sat through a Papa Roach set once…

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A homestead compound with a recording studio complex, and a succulent plant nursery.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

It’s the soul’s expression. It’s what compels the painting on the cave walls, or the Mona Lisa, or the Eiffel Tower, and all the other cliché references you could think of.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

My wife and I have just purchased our first home, and I’m already planning out my recording studio which is very exciting!

https://www.facebook.com/zac.crye
http://www.instagram.com/zaccrye
https://jamspacerecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.jamspacepodcast.com/

Zac Crye, All the Same (2021)

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Fuzz Evil Post “Better Off Alone (Redux)” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

fuzz evil

There’s a certain art to quarantine-style videomaking at this point. As the last 10 months or thereabouts have demonstrated, while live show opportunities may evaporate, there are still avenues — most of them digital — through which a band might harness a bit of forward momentum. Quite often, that’s resulted in boxed-off dudes putting together video clips either of songs performed live or prior-recorded, and in the case of Fuzz Evil, they’ve reworked one of their many, many quality hooks in the form of “Better Off Alone (Redux),” taking the track of the same name — minus the “redux” part, duh — from 2017’s The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Seven (review here) split with Switchblade Jesus and perhaps giving it the winking new interpretation as a timely reminder about the need to stay socially distant.

Certainly, as the US moves toward the Thanksgiving holiday, virology experts would seem to endorse this message, and if you’re on the same page as Dr. Anthony “The Fauch” Fauci, you’re probably doing something right.

Will Fuzz Evil‘s “Better Off Alone (Redux)” be adopted as a public service reminder to stay at home and be extra thankful you neither have COVID-19 nor have to participate in awkward around-the-table political discussions? Shit I hope so. Wouldn’t that be great? All of a sudden you start seeing Fuzz Evil in commercials and stuff of people wearing masks and behaving like responsible adults instead of petulant-ass, gotta-have-muh-freedom-to-make-yer-mom-sick dickweeds? I’d be so into it. Someone call the branding officer at the Centers for Disease Control. That’s definitely a position that exists, right? Because the CDC needs marketing? Should I send a resumé?

May you live in interesting times.

Okay.

Fuzz Evil released their High on You (review here) sophomore LP in 2018, which makes them about due for a third outing since their self-titled debut (review here) was 2016, but you know, scheduling and all that.

Enjoy the clip. It’s a good one:

Fuzz Evil, “Better Off Alone (Redux)” official video premiere

Published on 13 November 2020 – restricted by the outbreak of the COVID 19 virus, and isolated from one another, we thought we’d record our own separate video parts of ‘Better off Alone.’

‘Better Off Alone – redux”, taken from the Second Coming of Heavy Chapter 7 split by Ripple Featuring Switchblade Jesus and Fuzz evil, released 08 December 2017.

Fuzz Evil on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Evil on Instagram

Fuzz Evil on Bandcamp

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Spirit Adrift Stream “Harmony of the Spheres”; Enlightened in Eternity out Oct. 16

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

spirit adrift

A classic metal vibe pervades the new Spirit Adrift track, and don’t be surprised if the rest of the record follows suit, though as ever, founding guitarist Nathan Garrett isn’t one to necessarily reside in any single genre at a time. There are a few mentions of emotional upheaval surrounding the making of Enlightened in Eternity — out Oct. 16 through 20 Buck Spin in North America and Century Media everywhere else — and Garrett himself notes that his “life fell apart” between the writing and recording of this material. Well, okay. “Harmony of the Spheres” has naught but triumph in store, however, so whether you’ve got a goblet or a tankard or a mug of coffee by your side as you kick around the interwebs this morning, raise it high to toast old gods.

The PR wire has it like this:

spirit adrift enlightened in eternity

SPIRIT ADRIFT ANNOUNCE TRIUMPHANT NEW ALBUM ENLIGHTENED IN ETERNITY

The 8-song LP will be released on October 16th. // Listen to the powerful first single “Harmony of the Spheres” now.

https://spiritadrift.lnk.to/EnlightenedInEternityID

Spirit Adrift are a band who refuse to slow down. On their new album Enlightened In Eternity, guitarist/vocalist Nathan Garrett alongside drummer Marcus Bryant have created yet another monument to the timelessness of heavy metal. While Enlightened In Eternity builds on the sizable foundation established by the band’s previous albums, it also sets itself apart in formidable new ways, widening the scope of what Spirit Adrift can be.

Spirit Adrift have mastered the ability to invoke the power of metal’s past, whether it be the 70’s, 80’s or even the 90’s without ever feeling throwback or “retro.” Spirit Adrift urgently represent the sonic and emotional zeitgeist of 2020, and Enlightened In Eternity carries the same enormous magnitude of the most significant metal records of every era. Bandleader Nathan Garrett has carved out his own place among the greatest of songwriters by crafting uniquely classic and instantly recognizable songs.

Garrett comments, “I wrote the songs on Enlightened In Eternity before my life fell apart, and from the beginning I set out to make this our most uplifting and empowering album. I’m glad I did that, because ironically enough, these songs helped me keep going when things got bad. I’m proud of the work Marcus put in, I’m proud of these songs, and I’m proud of how we navigated the entire experience. This is the most challenging record I’ve ever made, and it’s my favorite record I’ve ever made. I hope it helps others the way it helped me.”

Vocally, Garrett again showcases an obvious evolution of his already extraordinary ability with more soaring soul and snarling venom injected into his classic metal form. The gorgeous guitar leads, melodies, harmonies, and unforgettably heavy riffs benefit from a huge, timeless production quality. Drummer Marcus Bryant has elevated his playing to new levels of intensity and tasteful subtlety. And as always, the tracks remain imprinted on the mind long after the album has finished.

Garrett continues, “Making a Spirit Adrift album is always intense, but Chained to Oblivion and Curse of Conception dealt with issues from my past, and Divided by Darkness dealt with external issues from more of a philosophical perspective, so there was a bit of a protective layer of detachment between the material and myself. On the other hand, when Marcus and I recorded Enlightened In Eternity, we were in the middle of a lot of intense emotional upheaval — hour to hour, minute to minute. Some days it took everything I had to keep working, particularly when it was time to record vocals. From a technical standpoint, things couldn’t have gone smoother. But from an emotional standpoint, it was brutal. The silver lining is that our hearts and souls are embedded into this record with a raw immediacy and urgency that’s unmatched by our previous material.”

Whether it’s their ever-expanding catalog of incredible albums and songs or their searing live performances, the dominance of Spirit Adrift upon the current heavy metal landscape is now undeniable. And while Enlightened In Eternity already marks the band’s fourth album, Spirit Adrift have only just begun.

Enlightened In Eternity will be released on October 16th via 20 Buck Spin in North America (on Century Media in the rest of the world), and is available for preorder directly from 20 Buck Spin and on Bandcamp. Look for more news and music from Spirit Adrift to surface soon.

Enlightened In Eternity Track Listing:
1. Ride into the Light
2. Astral Levitation
3. Cosmic Conquest
4. Screaming from Beyond
5. Harmony of the Spheres
6. Battle High
7. Stronger Than Your Pain
8. Reunited in the Void

Enlightened In Eternity credits:
Engineered and mixed by Ryan Bram
Produced by Ryan Bram, Marcus Bryant, and Nate Garrett
Mastered by Howie Weinberg and Will Borza

https://spiritadrift.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/SpiritAdrift
http://spiritadrift.bigcartel.com
http://www.20buckspin.com
http://www.facebook.com/20buckspin

Spirit Adrift, “Harmony of the Spheres”

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Naujawanan Baidar to Release Volume 1 & 2 Double-LP June 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Preorders are up now for Naujawanan Baidar‘s double-LP debut, Volume 1 & 2, through Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records, and if I mention preorders first, it’s only because I happen to think the record sounds awesome and might be the kind of thing you’d want to reserve ahead of time. Psychedelic experimentalism with traditional Middle Easetern folk instrumentation brought to bear at the behest of Tucson, Arizona-based N.R. Safi — also of The Myrrors — it’s certainly a considerable undertaking and might be the kind of thing best consumed in its distinct volumes, but even if you listen to the first half, take a breather, and come back for more, I genuinely doubt you’ll regret making the effort.

You might recall Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube recently teamed to get behind the last Abronia album, so they’ve got a good track record going as far as I’m concerned. If you’re into tapes (and why not?), Radio Khiyaban in the Netherlands had Volume 1 & 2 out on that format, and it’s streaming in full below as well, courtesy of Cardinal Fuzz via the PR wire.

Enjoy the plunge:

Naujawanan Baidar volume 1 2

Naujawanan Baidar – Volume 1 & 2 (2xLP – Heavyweight Black Vinyl – Gatefold Sleeve) – Release Date – 26th June

Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube records are proud to bring to you, Naujawanana Baidar – Volume 1 & 2 on double heavy black vinyl.

Naujawanan Baidar (Farsi for Enlightened Youth) is the project of artist and musician N.R. Safi (The Myrrors)

With roots in the now-endangered sounds of 1960s-80s Afghan cassette culture, Naujawanan Baidar filters the traditional music of Safi’s paternal heritage through a labyrinth of buzzing drones, tape manipulation, and fuzz-drenched percussion, warping both traditional and popular forms into a tangled mass of tape-saturated noise inspired by the very medium that once carried them.

Traditional folk instruments (both acoustic and home-amplified) like the rubab, armonia, sorna, and tabla, twist and melt into blown-out electrical storms, proving that one does not necessarily need guitars or any other standard western instrumentation to channel the trance-like energy of rock and roll. Although the end results may sound far removed from the original artists that helped inspired them (legendary performers like Ahmad Zahir, Beltoon and Hamidullah, or Salma Jahani) there is something to be said for this “new” or “imagined” form of contemporary Afghan experimental music. Had the dusty backstreets of pre-war Kabul birthed an experimental music scene paralleling German’s krautrock movement, one can imagine that the results might have sounded a little something like this.

These tracks were cut over the course of 2017 to 2019 as a sort of sonic notebook, documenting the evolution of the project as it first took shape. Though the majority were originally conceived of as nothing more than demos or impressionistic sketches, the spontaneous and ramshackle approach of the tapes was eventually deemed more than befitting the spirit of the project . Naujawanan Baidar both reaffirms its ties to a relatively hidden (to outside eyes at least) cultural history while at the same time pushing outwards into new and unexplored territories.

Originally released via Radio Khiyaban on cassette (the packaging and artwork on both cassette releases was a direct homage to 1970s Afghan tape design)

https://www.facebook.com/naujawananbaidar/
https://www.instagram.com/naujawananbaidar/
https://www.facebook.com/CardinalFuzz/
https://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com/
https://cful.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/FeedingtubeRecords/
https://feedingtuberecords.bandcamp.com/
http://feedingtuberecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/radiokhiyaban
https://radiokhiyaban.bandcamp.com/

Naujawanan Baidar, Volume 1 & 2 (2020

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Via Vengeance Premiere “Haunt” Video; Diestractions from the Truth Preorders Available Today

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

via vengeance
Next time you want to piss off your autocorrect, try sending a text about the new Via Vengeance record, which has been dubbed Diestractions from the Truth and is due out Nov. 15 through Salt of the Earth Records. Preorders are open as of noon Eastern today from the label, and to mark the occasion, Shane Ocell, who comprises the entirety of the lineup, has a new video premiering for “Haunt,” which is also the first audio to be made public from the album. The title, carrying that implication likening distractions and death, isn’t the first instance of Ocell (who also drums for Sorxe) using that particular wordplay; Via Vengeance‘s 2007 debut, Dieography, was the project’s only release until 2016’s also-aptly-named Harsh Conditions, which, rest assured, had its own body count going by the time it got to closer “In the End Nothing Goes to Waste.” Fair enough. I don’t think you start a one-man sludge band unless you have a few things to get off your chest.

And Via Vengeance is a solo outfit in the truest sense. I’ve never seen him live, but by all accounts, Ocell handles via vengeance bannerit all on stage, drums, vocals, guitar, and the ethic would seem to extend to the studio as well. Can you hear the difference on a recording? I don’t know. What would “Haunt” sound like with a full band instead of one person doing it all? Maybe it’d be a huge difference. Maybe it’d be no different at all. Point is he’s doing it, so that’s what you get live and on the LP.

You can see a bit of it in the video — or at least the second half of it. For the first minute-plus, Ocell toys with the notion of there being multiple members of the band, wearing a couple different disguises as he separately plays drums and guitar and sings. The swap happens at 1:23 and for the rest of the 3:14 clip you can see Ocell holding a drum stick in between his ring finger and pinky while strumming his guitar to the rhythm of his own making and yelling out verse lines to top the march. As compared to Harsh Conditions, there’s a general uptick in production value and his shouts seem more noise rock than the gutturalism of the last album, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect “Haunt” to speak for the entirety of Diestractions from the Truth either, though I won’t argue with the first impression it makes.

Premiere is below, followed by the preorder link.

Enjoy:

Via Vengeance, “Haunt” official video premiere

VIA VENGEANCE
“Diestractions From The Truth”
(VINYL / CD / Digital Download)
Release Date: 11/15/19

Preorders Start Today!!
**Friday (10/18) @ 12 PM (Eastern)**
www.SaltOfTheEarthRecords.com

From the deepest recesses and abstract corners of Shane Ocell’s (Sorxe) mind comes A one man juggernaut of unbridled heaviness…prepare to have your senses altered as the bar of creativity is raised to new heights. This is audio warfare.

The unrelenting Phoenix AZ based Sludge band known as VIA VENGEANCE was formed in 2006 by Shane Ocell with exploring the concept of being a one-man Sludge band being the ultimate mission… And he has been crushing solo ever since.

VIA VENGEANCE use no loops and Shane records all his tracks while playing both guitar and drums simultaneously. Combining both a finesse and a reckless audio abandon that must be heard, and felt to truly appreciate.

Via Vengeance on Thee Facebooks

Via Vengeance on Instagram

Via Vengeance website

Salt of the Earth Records on Thee Facebooks

Salt of the Earth Records website

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Via Vengeance Signs to Salt of the Earth Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Easy to imagine that Shane Ocell makes a striking impression live with his one-man outfit Via Vengeance. Also the drummer/backing vocalist for Sorxe, Ocell positions himself behind a drum kit with a guitar and a microphone and is essentially a whole band. The slogan is: “All live. No loops.” So be it.

It is striking to watch. There’s a video at the bottom of this post you can check out. It’s not exactly recent, but I think it gets the point across. Ocell as Via Vengeance has signed to Salt of the Earth Records and will have a new album out reportedly next summer. At least he doesn’t have to wait for anyone else to show up at the studio.

There’s a secondary announcement being made here in that at least for this signing, Kyle Stratton, also of Atala, has joined onto the Salt of the Earth label team with head honcho Scott Harrington. Atala being based in Twentynine Palms, CA, it seems reasonable to assume Stratton is the connection to Ocell, who is in Phoenix, so maybe Stratton is working some West Coast A&R with Harrington, who is based in Connecticut where he also hosts the New England Stoner & Doom Fest. Interesting development either way and something to keep an eye on.

From the PR wire:

via vengeance

Via Vengeance – Salt of the Earth Records

SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS is proud as all hell to welcome VIA VENGEANCE to the family.

The unrelenting Phoenix AZ based Sludge band known as VIA VENGEANCE was formed in 2006 by Shane Ocell with exploring the concept of being a one-man Sludge band being the ultimate mission… And he has been crushing solo ever since.

VIA VENGEANCE use no loops and Shane records all his tracks while playing both guitar and drums simultaneously. Combining both a finesse and a reckless audio abandon that must be heard, and felt to truly appreciate.

“We are excited to have him on the roster. Via Vengeance is completely honest. An original. A living breathing piece of art,” says Kyle Stratton (SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS) “He is a one-man band, creating an amazing industrial sludge sound, something I have never heard before. I am beyond excited to welcome Shane.”

VIA VENGEANCE has toured the U.S. multiple times and is heading overseas to to tour in Holland and France this December. VIA VENGEANCE have destroyed stages with heavy hitters like Mastodon,Jesu, Big Business, The Bad Brains, Atala and countless others.

2019 will see VIA VENGEANCE back in the studio recording their SALT OF THE EARTH RECORDS debut with an eye towards Spring/Summer release.

Asked about VIA VENGEANCE, Scott Harrington (Salt Of The Earth Records) yelled this at me from a roof top…

“We are constantly looking for new artists that push their boundaries musically and creatively. Knowing how Via Vengeance pummel live crowds with Shane’s uniquely powerful sound and delivery…I can’t wait till sludge fans far and wide get to experience what this is all about. THIS is HEAVY.”

Bottom line, VIA VENGEANCE is coming for you. You have been warned. But you still won’t be ready.

https://www.facebook.com/viavengeance/
http://instagram.com/viavengeance
http://viavengeance.com/
www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec
www.saltoftheearthrecords.com

Via Vengeance, “Lust Blood” live in Brooklyn, 2010

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Review & Track Premiere: Fuzz Evil, High on You

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

fuzz evil high on you

[Click play above to stream ‘High on You’ from Fuzz Evil’s new album of the same name. It’s out Sept. 14 and Fuzz Evil begin a West Coast tour that night. Click here for the poster with dates.]

Not every underground band can make a professional, commercial-style production work, but Fuzz Evil do. The Sierra Vista, Arizona, three-piece recorded their second album, High on You, with Paul Fig (Alice in Chains, Deftones, Fireball Ministry, and many others) at Studio 606, which is owned by Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, and the material accordingly sounds not only ironed out in its sound, crisp and clear, but still weighted in tone and groove, but like someone was actively pushing the band to outdo themselves on each take. To wit, the self-aware start-stops and melodic turns of “The Strut” late in the record are air-tight, as drummer Orgo Martinez swaps toms out for crash-cymbal timekeeping in the verses and chorus, which is among several standout hooks on the ultra-manageable seven-song/34-minute release.

That runtime further speaks to an element of professionalism on the part of the band — Martinez as well as brothers Wayne Rudell (guitar/vocals) and Joey Rudell (bass/vocals) — who’ve made the decision to leave their audience wanting more rather than overwhelm with a glut of material, though recording time may have also had something to do with it as they had two days at Studio 606 to bust through all the songs and nail at least the basic tracks before doing overdubs back with Fig, but if that crunch shows itself at all in the songs, it’s in a sense of urgency in the material, whether it’s the speedy second cut “You Can Take Her Away,” which seems to reference Clutch‘s “Spleen Merchant” at the outset before unfolding another memorable hook, this one multi-tiered with Joey backing Wayne‘s lead vocals and an effective guitar solo in the second half of a purposeful three-and-a-half-minute run.

But that’s only after “Get it Together” hints at harmonies between the Rudells in an initial audience-engagement of funk-tinged swing drums, and a building verse that shifts easily into the soaring chorus. The impression that Fuzz Evil are stepping up their game even from what it was on their 2016 self-titled debut (review here) is immediate and resonant, and with fuzz-drenched riffs and leads, a thick and steady groove and an energetic delivery, the three-piece use “Get it Together” to set the tone for everything that follows. Tempos are fluid but by and large not too slow or fast — they kick into a couple speedy parts now and then, mostly to make a point, but maintain fervent control over the rush — and the overarching feel remains welcoming as “You Can Take Her Away” transitions smoothly into the slowdown of “Ribbons and Kills.”

fuzz evil

Spacious with a somewhat darker feel, “Ribbons and Kills” flows with the bass at its foundation and the creeping vocal line overtop. In some ways it’s a direct contrast to “You Can Take Her Away” before it, but that’s the point, and the two do sit well next to each other ahead of the centerpiece “If You Know,” which sets forth its riff at the start and picks up patiently from there. Finding a middle pace between Fuzz Evil‘s faster and slower speeds, its nod is a central factor in its success, and it helps keep the momentum going that the band has thus far built, giving High on You all the more of a full-album feel that, as they move deeper into the second half of the record, nothing diminishes. Further, it emphasizes the point of Fuzz Evil‘s songwriting, which is what serves as the heart of High on You. That’s not to diminish any aspect of their performance or the energy with which they play, but that energy is clearly directed in service to the songs themselves, which given the quality of their output here is probably how it should be anyhow.

“If You Know” caps with more soloing and a return to the chorus for good measure and gives way to “The Strut,” which may or may not be about the same fancy-walking individual as the KISS song — it’s easy to see the Fuzz Evil as potential fans, with their shared penchant for hooks and classic-style structures — and is one of the shorter pieces at just 3:33. It’s noteworthy for that since they pair it with the 6:31 title-track immediately following, which is the longest piece and uses its time wisely in a slower doomly crawl and open vocal with Wayne‘s voice over open space between drum thuds and far-back low end. The chorus of “High on You” is worth naming the record after, and while one might think they’d make up the difference in runtime with a jam or something like that, they don’t really. There’s a noisy solo in the second half, but by and large, “High on You” is longer because it’s that much slower than what surrounds.

It gives the album a somewhat moodier feel, and thereby all the more breadth of expression, and turns to the closer “Are You in or Out” with an introduction from the drums before the swaying guitar line enters and gives the listener the center around which the finale will work. Sure enough, “Are You in or Out” brings one last vital surge from the band, with the title line repeated in such a way as to seem to ask the audience if it’s gotten on board with what Fuzz Evil put together in the tracks prior. They have, of course, made a solid argument for themselves, and while listeners will ultimately have to decide on their own whether they are in or out, there’s no denying Fuzz Evil lay it on the line in asking. Just as likely, though, the question is directed inward. It is no minor commitment in time, finance or effort to put together an album like High on You, so it could well be that “Are You in or Out” is the band talking itself into pushing forward with what they thought would lead them to make the best album possible. Whether that’s the case or not, their choice was correct. They’re in.

Fuzz Evil on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Evil on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: CHRCH, Bongripper, King Chiefs, Bonnacons of Doom, Boar, June Bug, Tired Lord, Bert, Zen Bison, Wheel in the Sky

Posted in Reviews on July 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

You know the deal by now, I’m sure: 50 reviews this week between now and Friday, in batches of 10 per day. It’s an unholy amount of music, but those who really dig in always seem to find something cool within a Quarterly Review. Frankly, with this much to choose from, I’d certainly hope so. I’m not going to delay at all, except to say thanks in advance for coming along on this one. It’s got some core-heavy and some-not-really-core-heavy stuff all bundled next to each other, so yeah, your patience is appreciated. Okay. No time like the present. Let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

CHRCH, Light Will Consume Us All

chrch light will consume us all

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the songs are long. Blah blah blah it’s heavy as whatever kind of construction equipment you could want to name. What’s even more striking about Los Angeles doomers CHRCH’s Neurot Recordings debut, Light Will Consume Us All, is the sense of atmosphere. The follow-up to 2015’s massively well-received Unanswered Hymns (review here) is comprised of three songs presented in descending time order from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Infinite” (20:41) to centerpiece “Portals” (14:50) and closer “Aether” (9:29) and it finds CHRCH refining the unremitting patience of their rollout, so that even when “Aether” explodes in its second half to charred blastbeating and abrasive screams, the ambience is still dense enough to feel it in one’s lungs. CHRCH keep up this level of progression and soon enough someone’s going to call them post-something or other. As it stands, their second album builds righteously on the achievements of their debut, and is a revelation in its bleakness.

CHRCH on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings website

 

Bongripper, Terminal

bongripper terminal

Pressed up as ever in DIY fashion, Bongripper’s Terminal presents two gargantuan slabs – one per vinyl side – that only seem to highlight the strengths in the Chicago instrumentalists’ approach. The tones are huge, the grooves nodding, the impact of each kick drum forceful. Repetition is central, that feeling of aural mass and destructiveness, but neither is Terminal – comprised of “Slow” (25:11) and “Death” (18:15) – lacking a sense of atmosphere. After 21 minutes of grueling pummel, “Slow” devolves into droning layers of noise wash and quiet guitar to finish out, and “Death” seems to hold onto an echoing lead in its closing minutes that accomplishes much the same thing in broadening the atmosphere overall. I don’t know if the two songs were composed to fit together –the titles would hint yes – but they invariably do, and as “Death” unleashes a more insistent punch before turning to a post-YOB gallop, it reconfirms Bongripper’s worship-worthy place in the stoner doom milieu, how their sound can be so familiar in its threat and yet so much their own.

Bongripper on Bandcamp

Bongripper webstore

 

King Chiefs, Blue Sonnet

King Chiefs Blue Sonnet

Born as Chiefs ahead of their 2015 debut album, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), Arizona-based four-piece King Chiefs make their own first outing in the form of the easily-digestible desert rocker Blue Sonnet (on Roosevelt Row and Cursed Tongue Records), comprised of 10 tracks running just under 40 minutes of older-school laid back heavy, swinging easy on cuts like “Surely Never” and “Drifter” while still finding some Helmeted aggressive edge in the riffs of “Slug” and “Walk the Plank.” The overarching focus is on songwriting, however, and King Chiefs hone in cleverly on ‘90s-era desert rock’s post-grunge sensibility, so that their material seems ready for an alternative radio that no longer exists. Such as it is, they do just fine without, and hooks pervade the two-guitar outfit’s material in natural and memorable fashion all the way to five-and-a-half-minute closer “Shrine of the Beholder,” which embraces some broader textures without losing the structural focus that serves so well on the songs before it.

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Roosevelt Row Records website

Cursed Tongue Records website

 

Bonnacons of Doom, Bonnacons of Doom

bonnacons of doom bonnacons of doom

Heavy psychedelic experimentalism pervades the Rocket Recordings-issued self-titled debut album from Liverpool collective Bonnacons of Doom, rife with tripout ritualism and exploration of sound as it is, all chasing light and getting freaky in any sense you want to read it. Five tracks, each a voyage unto itself – even the bass-fuzzy push of shortest cut “Rhizome” (5:55) is cosmos-bound – feed into the larger weirdness at play that culminates in the undulating grooves of “Plantae” (8:39), which is perhaps the most solidified cut in terms of choruses, verses, etc., but still a molten, headphone-worthy freakout that pushes the limits of psychedelia and still holds itself together. If the album was a to-do list, it would read as follows: “Eat mushrooms. Get naked. Dance around. Repeat.” Whether you do or don’t is ultimately up to you, but Bonnacons of Doom make a pretty convincing argument in favor, and I don’t generally consider myself much of a dancer. Among the most individualized psych debuts I’ve heard in a long time.

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Boar, Poseidon

Boar Poseidon

Poseidon, at six songs and 39 minutes, is the second long-player from Finnish four-piece Boar. Released on vinyl with no shortage of backing — Lost Pilgrims Records, Dissonant Society, Impure Muzik, S.K.O.D., Rämekuukkeli-levyt – it hurls forth a High on Fire-informed vision of noise rock on its opening title-track only to take on a slower roll in the subsequent “Shahar’s Son” and dig into massive crashing on “12.” Using echo to add a sense of depth all the while, they scream in tradeoffs à la Akimbo and boogie in “Featherless” and seem to find a post-metallic moment on “Dark Skies” before closing with the alternately brooding and scathing “Totally out of This World,” the song sort of falling apart into the feedback and noise that ends the album. There’s a persistent sense of violence happening, but it’s as much inward as outward, and though some of Boar’s most effective moments are in that rawness, there’s something to be said for the contemplation at the outset of “Shahar’s Son” and “12” as well.

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June Bug, A Thousand Days

June bug A Thousand Days

Seemingly unrestrained by genre, the Lille, France-based duo June BugJune on vocals and multiple instruments and Beryl on backing vocals and multiple instruments – dig into some post-punk nudge on early cut “Reasons” from their debut album, A Thousand Days (Atypeek Music) after the folkish melodies of opener “Now,” but whether it’s the fuzzy indie vibes of “Freaks” or the harmonies, electronics and acoustic guitar of “Let it Rest,” or the keyboard-handclaps, lower tones and poppish instrumental hook of centerpiece “Mama,” there’s plenty of variety throughout. What ties the differing vibes and richly nuanced approach together is the vocals, which are mostly subdued and at times hyper-stylized, but never seem to fail to keep melodicism as their central operating method. That remains true on the subdued “Does it Matter” and the beat-laden “Silenced” at the album’s finish and brings everything together with an overarching sense of joy that holds firm despite shifts in mood and approach, making the complete front-to-back listen as satisfying as it might seem all over the place.

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Atypeek Music website

 

Tired Lord, Demo

tired lord demo

Released by the band last year, the four-song Demo by San Francisco outfit Tired Lord has been picked up for an official cassette issue through From Corners Unknown Records and will reportedly be the only release from the black metal/sludge genre-benders. Presumably that means they broke up, rather than just refuse to ever record again, though the latter possibility intrigues as well and would be meta-black metal. Spearheaded by guitarist Bryce Olson, Tired Lord effectively bring a thickness of tone to charred riffing, and a balance between screams and growls brings a cast of general extremity to the material. So I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to regret their dissolution and wish they’d do a proper release. Fair enough for the brutal chug in “Serpent’s Ascent” and the 7:51 closer “Astaroth,” which one wouldn’t mind hearing fleshed out from their current form. Failing that, one of the 30 tape copies pressed of Demo seems like decent consolation. At least while they’re there for the getting and before Tired Lord go gleefully into that black metal demo tape ether where so many seem to dwell.

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From Corners Unknown Records website

 

BerT, Relics from Time Zero

bert relics from time zero

Lansing, Michigan, trio BerT – bassist Phil Clark and brothers Ryan (guitar) and Rael (drums) Andrews – broke up. They even put out a posthumous rare tracks release in 2017’s The Lost Toes (review here), so what’s left? Well, another album, of course. Intended as a sequel to the sci-fi narrative of the never-released long-player Return to the Electric Church, the five-track/35-minute Relics from Time Zero is unfinished, sans vocals where they might otherwise be, and basically a look at what might’ve been had the band not dissolved. For those prior-exposed to the once-prolific heavy rock bizarros, some of the proceedings will seem familiar: riffs are plentiful and fluid in their tempo changes from driving rock to droned-out stomp, and there seems to be about 1.5 of them in the four-minute “In the Cave of the Batqueen,” so but for the fact that it’s not done, I’d just about call it business as usual for BerT. I know they’re done and all, but I still wouldn’t mind hearing these songs with some lyrics, let alone the record this one was intended to follow-up. Either way, even defunct, BerT remain on their own wavelength.

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Zen Bison, Krautrocker

zen bison krautrocker

Classic-style heavy rock riffing pervades opener “Blow My Mind” (5:47) and the subsequent “Backseat Lovers” (5:15) – somewhere between Stubb and Radio Moscow — on Zen Bison’s debut LP, Krautrocker, but as the five-track/42-minute self-release moves into the 11-minute title-track, guitarist/vocalist Philipp Ott, bassist Steffen Fischer and drummer Martin Konopka – joined by organist Hans Kirschner and percussionist Bobby Müller –move into deeper-grooving and more psychedelic fare. That turn suits the mostly-live-recorded outfit well on the longer instrumental piece, and that leads to a side B with the likewise-sans-vocals “La Madrugada” (9:56) and the closing cover of Don Nix’s blues rocker “Going Down” (10:24), jammed out at the end in its middle and end with quick return to the chorus between. There isn’t much on Krautrocker one might actually consider krautrock in the traditional sense, but there’s certainly plenty of rock to go around on the impressive and varied first offering from the Rostock trio.

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Wheel in the Sky, Beyond the Pale

wheel in the sky beyond the pale

From opener “Rivers of Dust” onward, Wheel in the Sky’s second album, Beyond the Pale (on The Sign Records), proffers classy and classic digs, informed by a heavy ‘70s uptempo spirit on its title-track and moving into more complex volume and arrangement shifts in “Burn Babylon Burn” (video premiere here) and a poppy, goth-informed hook on “The Only Dead Girl in the City,” all the while held together through a quality of songwriting that even the band’s 2015 debut, Heading for the Night (review here), seemed to hint toward. It’s a mover, to be sure, but Wheel in the Sky execute their material with poise and a sense of clear intention, and no matter where they seem to go, their tonality and natural production assures the listener has an easy time tagging along. Might be a sleeper for some, but there are going to be people who really, really dig this album, and I’ve got no argument with them.

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The Sign Records website

 

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