Quarterly Review: Rotor, Seer of the Void, Moodoom, Altered States, Giöbia, Astral Hand, Golden Bats, Zeup, Giant Sleep, Green Yeti

Posted in Reviews on April 13th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Oh hi, I’m pretending I didn’t see you there. Today the Spring 2023 Quarterly Review hits and — if Apollo is willing — passes the halfway point en route to 70 total records to be covered by the end of next Tuesday. Then there’s another 50 at least to come next month, so I don’t know what ‘quarter’ that’s gonna be but I don’t really have another name for this kind of roundup just sitting in my back pocket, so if we have to fudge one or expand Spring in such a way, I sincerely doubt anyone but me actually cares that it’s a little weird this time through. And I’m not even sure I care, to be honest. Surely “notice” would be a better word.

Either way, thanks for reading. Hope you’ve found something cool thus far and hope you find more today. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Rotor, Sieben

rotor 7

Seven full-lengths and a quarter-century later, it’s nigh on impossible to argue with Berlin instrumentalists Rotor. Sieben — or simply 7, depending on where you look — is their latest offering, and in addition to embracing heavy psychedelia with enough tonal warmth on “Aller Tage Abend” to remind that they’re contemporaries to Colour Haze, the seven-song/38-minute LP has room for the jazzy classic prog flashes of “Mäander” later on and the more straight-ahead fuzzy crunch of “Reibach,” which opens, and the contrast offered by the acoustic guitar and friendly roll that emerges on the closing title-track. Dug into the groove and Euro-size XXL (that’s XL to Americans) riffing of “Kahlschlag,” there’s never a doubt that it’s Rotor you’re hearing, and the same is true of “Aller Tage Abend,” the easy-nodding second half and desert-style chop of “Schabracke,” and everything else; the simple fact is that Rotor these 25 years on can be and in fact are all of these things and more besides while also being a band who have absolutely nothing to prove. Sieben celebrates their progression, the riffs at their roots, the old and new in their makeup and the mastery with which they’ve made the notion of ‘instrumental heavy rock’ so much their own. It’s a lesson gladly learned again, and 2023 is a better year with Sieben in it.

Rotor on Facebook

Noisolution website


Seer of the Void, Mantra Monolith

Seer of the Void Mantra Monolith

Athens-based sludge-and-then-some rockers Seer of the Void follow their successful 2020 debut, Revenant, with the more expansive Mantra Monolith, enacting growth on multiple levels, be it the production and general largesse of their sound, the songs becoming a bit longer (on average) or the ability to shift tempos smoothly between “Electric Father” and “Death is My Name” without giving up either momentum or the attitude as emphasized in the gritty vocals of bassist Greg “Maddog” Konstantaras. Side B’s “Demon’s Hand” offers a standout moment of greater intensity, but Seer of the Void are hardly staid elsewhere, whether it’s the swinging verse of “Hex” that emerges from the massive intro, or the punkish vibe underscoring the nonetheless-metal head-down chug in the eponymous “Seer of the Void.” They cap with a clearheaded fuzzy solo in “Necromancer,” seeming to answer the earlier “Seventh Son,” and thereby highlight the diversity manifest from their evolution in progress, but if one enjoyed the rougher shoves of Revenant (or didn’t; prior experience isn’t a barrier to entry), there remains plenty of that kind of tonal and rhythmic physicality in Mantra Monolith.

Seer of the Void on Facebook

Venerate Industries on Bandcamp


Moodoom, Desde el Bosque

Moodoom Desde el Bosque

Organic roots doom from the trio Moodoom — guitarist/vocalist Cristian Marchesi, bassist/vocalist Jonathan Callejas and drummer Javier Cervetti — captured en vivo in the band’s native Buenos Aires, Desde el Bosque is the trio’s second LP and is comprised of five gorgeous tracks of Sabbath-worshiping heavy blues boogie, marked by standout performances from Marchesi and Callejas often together on vocals, and the sleek Iommic riffing that accounts as well for the solos layered across channels in the penultimate “Nadie Bajará,” which is just three minutes long but speaks volumes on what the band are all about, which is keep-it-casual mellow-mover heavy, the six-minute titular opening/longest track (immediate points) swaggering to its own swing as meted out by Cervetti with a proto-doomly slowdown right in the middle before the lightly-funked solo comes in, and the finale “Las Maravillas de Estar Loco” (‘the wonders of being crazy,’ in English) rides the line between heavy rock and doom with no less grace, introducing a line of organ or maybe guitar effects along with the flawless groove proffered by Callejas and Cervetti. It’s only 23 minutes long, but definitely an album, and exactly the way a classic-style power trio is supposed to work. Gorgeously done, and near-infinite in its listenability.

Moodoom on Facebook

Moodoom on Bandcamp


Altered States, Survival


The second release and debut full-length from New Jersey-based trio Altered States runs seven tracks and 34 minutes and finds individualism in running a thread through influences from doom and heavy rock, elder hardcore and metal, resulting in the synth-laced stylistic intangibility of “A Murder of Crows” on side A and the smoothly-delivered proportion of riff in the eponymous “Altered States” later on, bassist Zack Kurland (Green Dragon, ex-Sweet Diesel, etc.) taking over lead vocals in the verse to let guitarist/synthesist Ryan Lipynsky (Unearthly Trance, Serpentine Path, The Howling Wind, etc.) take the chorus, while drummer Chris Daly (Texas is the Reason, Resurrection, 108, etc.) punctuates the urgency in opener “The Crossing” and reinforces the nod of “Cerberus.” There’s an exploration of dynamic underway on multiple levels throughout, whether it’s the guitar and keys each feeling out their space in the mix, or the guitar and bass, vocal arrangements, and so on, but with the atmospheric centerpiece “Hurt” — plus that fuzz right around the 2:30 mark before the build around the album’s title line — just two songs past the Motörheaded “Mycelium,” it’s clear that however in-development their sound may be, Altered States already want for nothing as regards reaching out from their doom rocking center, which is that much richer with multiple songwriters behind it.

Altered States on Facebook

Altered States on Bandcamp


Giöbia, Acid Disorder

giobia acid disorder

Opener and longest track (immediate points) “Queen of Wands” is so hypnotic you almost don’t expect its seven minutes to end, but of course they do, and Italian strange-psych whatevernauts Giöbia proceed from there to float guitar over and vocals over the crunched-down “The Sweetest Nightmare” before the breadth of “Consciousness Equals Energy” and “Screaming Souls” melds outer-rim-of-the-galaxy space prog with persistently-tripped Europsych lushness, heavy in its underpinnings but largely unrestrained by gravity or concerns for genre. Acid Disorder is the maybe-fifth long-player from the Italian cosmic rocking aural outsiders, and their willingness to dive into the unknown is writ large through the synth and organ layers and prominent strum of “Blood is Gone,” the mix itself becoming no less an instrument in the band’s collective hand than the guitar, bass, drums, vocals, etc. Ultra-fluid throughout (duh), the eight-songer tops out around 44 minutes and is an adventure for the duration, the drift of side B’s instrumental “Circo Galattico” reveling in experimentalism over a somehow-solidified rhythm while “In Line” complements in answer to “The Sweetest Nightmare” picking up from “Queen of Wands” at the outset, leaving the closing title-track on its own, which seems to fit its synth-and-sitar-laced serenity just fine. Band sounds like everything and nobody but themselves, reliably.

Giöbia on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Astral Hand, Lords of Data

Astral Hand Lords of Data

Like everything, Milwaukee heavy psychedelia purveyors Astral Hand were born out of destruction. In this case, it’s the four-piece’s former outfit Calliope that went nova, resulting in the recycling of cosmic gasses and gravitational ignition wrought in the debut album Lords of Data‘s eight songs, the re-ish-born new band benefitting from the experience of the old as evidenced by the patient unfolding of side A capper “Psychedelicide,” the defining hook in “Universe Machine” and the shove-then-drone-then-shove in “End of Man” and the immersive heft in opener “Not Alone” that brings the listener deep into the nod from the very start of the first organ notes so that by the time they’ve gone as far out as the open spaces of “Navigator” and the concluding “God Emperor,” their emergent command of the ethereal is unquestionable. They work a little shuffle into that finale, which is an engaging touch, but Lords of Data — a thoroughly modern idea — isn’t limited to that any more than it is the atmospheric grandiosity and lumber of “Crystal Gate” that launches side B. One way or the other, these dudes have been at it for more than a decade going back to the start of Calliope, but Astral Hand is a stirring refresh of purpose on their part and one hopes their lordship continues to flourish. I don’t know that they’re interested in such terrestrial concerns, but they’d be a great pickup for some discerning label.

Astral Hand on Facebook

Astral Hand on Bandcamp


Golden Bats, Scatter Yr Darkness

Golden Bats Scatter Yr Darkness

Slow-churning intensity is the order of the day on Scatter Yr Darkness, the eight-song sophomore LP from now-Italy-based solo-outfit Golden Bats, aka Geordie Stafford, who sure enough sprinkles death, rot and no shortage of darkness across the album’s 41-minute span, telling tales through metaphor in poetic lyrics of pandemic-era miseries; civic unrest and disaffection running like a needle through split skin to join the various pieces together. Echoing shouts give emphasis to the rawness of the sludge in “Holographic Stench” and “Erbgrind,” but in that eight-minute cut there’s a drop to cinematic, not-actually-minimalist-but-low-volume string sounds, and “Breathe Misery” begins with Mellotron-ish melancholy that hints toward the synth at the culmination of “A Savage Dod” and in the middle of “Malingering,” so nothing is actually so simple as the caustic surface makes it appear. Drums are programmed and the organ in “Bravo Sinkhole” and other keys may be as well, I don’t know, but as Stafford digs into Golden Bats sonically and conceptually — be it the bareknuckle “Riding in the Captain’s Skull” at the start or the raw-throated vocal echo spread over “The Gold Standard of Suffering,” which closes — the harshness of expression goes beyond the aural. It’s been a difficult few years, admittedly.

Golden Bats on Facebook

Golden Bats on Bandcamp


Zeup, Mammals

zeup mammals

Straightforward in a way that feels oldschool in speaking to turn-of-the-century era heavy rock influences — big Karma to Burn vibe in the riffs of “Hollow,” and not by any means only there — the debut album Mammals from Danish trio Zeup benefits from decades of history in metal and rock on the part of drummer Morten Barth (ex-Wasted) and bassist/producer Morten Rold (ex-Beyond Serenity), and with non-Morten guitarist Jakob Bach Kristensen (also production) sharing vocals with Rold, they bring a down-to-business sensibility to their eight component tracks that can’t be faked. That’s consistent with 2020’s Blind EP (review here) and a fitting demonstration for any who’d take it on that sometimes you don’t need anything more than the basic guitar, bass, drums, vocals when the songs are there. Sure, they take some time to explore in the seven-minute instrumental “Escape” before hitting ground again in the aptly-titled slow post-hardcore-informed closer “In Real Life,” but even that is executed with clear intention and purpose beyond jamming. I’ll go with “Rising” as a highlight, but it’s a pick-your-poison kind of record, and there’s an awful lot that’s going to sound needlessly complicated in comparison.

Zeup on Facebook

Ozium Records store


Giant Sleep, Grounded to the Sky

giant sleep grounded to the sky

Grounded to the Sky is the third LP from Germany’s Giant Sleep, and with it the band hones a deceptively complex scope drawn together in part by vocalist Thomas Rosenmerkel, who earns the showcase position with rousing blues-informed performances on the otherwise Tool-ish prog metal title-track and the later-Soundgardening leadoff before it, “Silent Field.” On CD and digital, the record sprawls across nearly an hour, but the vinyl edition is somewhat tighter, leaving off “Shadow Walker” and “The Elixir” in favor of a 43-minute run that puts the 4:43 rocker “Sour Milk” in the closer position, not insubstantially changing the personality of the record. Founded by guitarist Patrick Hagmann, with Rosenmerkel in the lineup as well as guitarist/backing vocalist Tobias Glanzmann (presumably that’ll be him in the under-layer of “Siren Song”), bassist Radek Stecki and drummer Manuel Spänhauer, they sound full as a five-piece and are crisp in their production and delivery even in the atmospherically minded “Davos,” which dares some float and drift along with a political commentary and feels like it’s taking no fewer chances in doing so, and generally come across as knowing who they are as a band and what they want to do with their sound, then doing it. In fact, they sound so sure, I’m not even certain why they sent the record out for review. They very obviously know they nailed what they were going for, and yes, they did.

Giant Sleep on Facebook

Czar of Crickets Productions website


Green Yeti, Necropolitan

Green Yeti Necropolitan

It’s telling that even the CD version of Green Yeti‘s Necropolitan breaks its seven tracks down across two sides. The Athens trio of guitarist/vocalist Michael Andresakis, bassist Dani Avramidis and drummer Giannis Koutroumpis touch on psychedelic groove in the album-intro “Syracuse” before turning over to the pure post-Kyuss rocker “Witch Dive,” which Andresakis doing an admirable John Garcia in the process, before the instrumental “Jupiter 362” builds tension for five minutes without ever exploding, instead giving out to the quiet start of side A’s finish in “Golgotha,” which likewise builds but turns to harsher sludge rock topped by shouts and screams in the midsection en route to an outright cacophonous second half. That unexpected turn — really, the series of them — makes it such that as the bass-swinging “Dirty Lung” starts its rollout on side B, you don’t know what’s coming. The answer is half-Sleepy ultra-burl, but still. “Kerosene” stretches out the desert vibe somewhat, but holds a nasty edge to it, and the nine-minute “One More Bite,” which closes the record, has a central nod but feels at any moment like it might swap it for further assault. Does it? It’s worth listening to the record front to back to find out. Hail Greek heavy, and Green Yeti‘s willingness to pluck from microgenre at will is a good reason why.

Green Yeti on Facebook

Green Yeti on Bandcamp


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 14

Posted in Radio on April 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

gimme radio logo

No real running theme here other than it’s stuff that’s had my ears for the last couple weeks. I put the playlist together with a few tracks that were premiered here from The Dry Mouths and Cities of Mars, the new single from Astral Hand and a Bible of the Devil track to lead off because their amount of kickassery should most definitely put them up front. Some stuff here I haven’t covered as well. On the social medias I put out a question looking for album of the year suggestions and Elizabeth Colour Wheel were one of the top names that came back, so I included them for sure, and Magic Circle too. And I’ll listen to Lamp of the Universe any chance I get anyway, so having them was a no-brainer. Oh, and new Nebula, because duh.

I ended up cutting the voice tracks at Boston Logan Airport before my flight to Roadburn, so maybe there’s a little bit of muzak in the background. It was a little weird sitting there at the gate in Logan talking into my phone about how badass Dozer are, but you know, there’s a kind of anonymity in being in public like that too, and I wasn’t exactly projecting my voice. Bottom line is there’s a bunch of cool stuff though, so whatever I needed to to get it done was worth it. Similarly, I’m writing this from the office of the 013 before the show has even aired, so I don’t actually know yet how it’s all turned out [ed. – it sounds like crap]. If I sound like a jackass, we’ll call it par for the course.

Good fun.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 04.14.19

Bible of the Devil Idle Time Feel It*
Astral Hand Universe Machine Universe Machine*
Cities of Mars Trenches of Bahb-elon The Horologist*
Nebula Witching Hour Holy Shit*
The Druids Cruising Astral Skies The Druids*
Pharlee Warning Pharlee*
Magic Circle Valley of the Lepers Departed Souls*
Elizabeth Colour Wheel Life of a Flower Nocebo*
Dozer Octanoid Madre de Dios
The Dry Mouths Impromental VII: Moustachette Memories from Pines Bridge*
Lamp of the Universe The Leaving Align in the Fourth Dimension*
Temple of the Fuzz Witch Infidel Temple of the Fuzz Witch*
Picaporters M.I. XXIII*
Electric Moon Transmitter Hugodelia*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Thursday at 9AM. Next show is April 28. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Astral Hand Release Debut Single “Universe Machine”

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

astral hand

Perhaps you feel the galaxy could stand a good smiting. Fair. Meet Astral Hand from Milwaukee. The band arrive as the result of a maybe-permanent teardown of their former outfit Calliope, whose third and seemingly final album, Chapel Perilous (discussed here), came out last year. Same dudes, new vibe, new name. Their first offering under the Astral Hand banner is “Universe Machine,” which indeed resolves its space-rocky groove with the noted threat of smiting, and which for something that sets such dire stakes is still a pretty good time. It’s a shift in sound, but they pretty obviously know what they’re doing with it. Not exactly like they’re strangers to each other.

You can hear the track here, and it’s a free download as well, because it’s the future and the future is in space.

Info follows. Have at it:

astral hand universe machine

Astral Hand – Universe Machine

Over the course of the past year the 4 members of ASTRAL HAND have been carefully programming their very first radio transmission. Al Kraemer, Vic Buell, Anthony Smith and Dan Dahl step away from their previous sonic incarnation, CALLIOPE, to allow for the expansion into something brand new. After spending 7 years on three full length albums through a changing member lineup, it was time to move on from the psychedelic circus. This may not be the end of Calliope, but it is ‘farewell for now’ as the band turns away from the past and into the future.

Channeling a much more cosmic spirit, ASTRAL HAND uses pop-sensitive, synth-driven melodies accompanied by tastefully heavy guitars and thundering drums for a deeper sound that will completely stand alone from their other projects. Expect the unexpected when their first album drops later this year. In the meantime, experience ‘UNIVERSE MACHINE’ and learn to fear the wrath of the flippant cosmic deities known collectively as ASTRAL HAND.

I’ll smite your galaxy
With my Universe Machine

Released April 1, 2019
Recorded at Silver City Studios
Mixed by Victor Buell IV
Mastered by Justin Perkins @ The Mystery Room

Astral Hand:
Al Kraemer: Vocals / Organ
Victor Buell IV: Guitar
Anthony Smith: Bass
Dan Dahl: Drums


Astral Hand, “Universe Machine”

Tags: , , , , ,