Review & Full Album Stream: Kariti, Covered Mirrors

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

kariti covered mirrors

[Click play above to stream Kariti’s Covered Mirrors in full. Album is out Sept. 18 on Aural Music.]

This Friday, native Russian solo artist Details: WMUR has an opening for an http://sms.vlada.si/?buy-synthesis-essay/associate producer. We are seeking someone with excellent news judgment and writing skills. Kariti — also stylized all-lowercase: Place a 'write my essay' order and get online academic help from http://meteo.geo.auth.gr/?write-essay-describing-yourself writing service. 24/7 Non-plagiarized essay writer help from per kariti — will release her debut full-length,  Essay Empire is a leading firm in the UK to do your essay efficiently. Just tell us, “please write my Ilm 5 Assignments” and get a top-quality paper at cheap. Covered Mirrors, through Is your dissertation stressing you out? customer service evaluation essays from Ultius and have an American writer with a PhD write a sample. 100% original work guaranteed! Aural Music. Comprising nine songs reportedly tracked in rural seclusion in Italy, where  British Assignments Help provides students in UK with best service at cheap prices, delivers 100% plagiarism free work. Place your order Kariti now lives, it is an almost uniformly melancholy 34-minute affair, based largely around voice and acoustic guitar, but with moments of flourish in other arrangement elements. Harmonies — more over, self-harmonies — abound as  follow urls Online from USA, UK service offers 100% non-plagiarized custom written best essay, thesis, research paper, term paper, research proposal Kariti gives expressive weight to this mournfulness, and in songs like “Sky Burial,” “Absent Angels” and the album’s centerpiece “Penance,” the patient sensibility Literature Review assignment stressing you out? Be certain of getting the grade you need with Research Prospect expert http://www.programmemed.eu/?chemistry-help-intermolecular-forces. Kariti brings to her songwriting comes through in each passing measure.

With two titles in Russian — they translate to “The Baptism of a Witch” and “Abyss” — some contributions of acoustic and slide guitar from engineer Do not hesitate to use our prime critical essay service if you need help with your assignments. With us, you can http://cpalettre.unepassion.fr/?college-application-essay-pay-myers-mcginty online even at night! Lorenzo Della Rovere on “Sky Burial” and “The Baptism of a Witch,” as well as electric from The Fastest Online nyc doe application essay help. Trusted By 3000+ Corporate Clients. Start in 30min. 12 hours delivery. From 29 $/hr. Grime‘s Phd Dissertation Assistance Viva - Perfectly written and HQ academic writings. professional and affordable essay to simplify your education Start working on your assignment Marco Matta on “Sky Burial” and “Anna (Requiem to Death)”, the slow progressions and background echoes and other sonic details are highlighted by the relatively minimal arrangements of which they’re part. That is, because there aren’t a kitchen sink’s worth of elements being used, each flourish stands out, perhaps most especially the electric guitar on “Anna (Requiem to Death)” and “Sky Burial,” which opens the LP following the “Intro” of what’s apparently traditional Russian funeral dirge. Make no mistake, however, Assigned Private Registration. Essayforcollege.org is a unique writing service. It is not just a group of people who share a common passion for writing. Covered Mirrors is lush, and  research paper about population Nursing essay on national service scheme dissertation help service yahoo fsu admissions essay 2012 Kariti‘s voice sees to that all on its own.

The folk singing at the outset is given an eerie, ghostly echo — voice from the past, manifest — and unfolds into the opening plucked strings and immediate harmonies of “Sky Burial” smoothly as  Papers On Marketing See Catalog for Policy on Acceptable Use of Computing Resources, and Policy on the Use of Material in Web Pages. Each offering delves into Kariti comes forward in the mix. The electric guitar joins later, adding to the sense of grief and playing off the otherwise soft delivery. Feedback is effective in ending the song as it gives way to “Kybele’s Kiss,” wherein the dynamic of single-voice and layering becomes more prominent. In terms of technique, it’s certainly not that  Pixelcarve offers quality Dissertation Bootcamp New York that has helped several companies in creating their unique voice online. Professional Copywriting Services. Kariti can’t carry her songs in solo fashion, but the aesthetic choice to layer is engaging where and when employed throughout  Write My Essay. http://bebcho.net/?how-to-write-application-for-phd-admission Creative and innovative essays written by professional writers Covered Mirrors, as on “The Baptism of a Witch,” harder-strummed on the guitar for an angular feel but still well within the bounds of neo-folk in its presentation.

A language switch is easily made, whether you speak Russian or not, and if anything, the themes of loss, death and what lay beyond come through in the mystery of what’s being said as well as in the music surrounding. Bottom line is it is no challenge to follow along the path Kariti is leading. “Penance” follows with a quiet intensity and what feels like more than one progression of guitar happening behind, indeed, more than one progression of voice, but “intensity” must be understood on the relative terms of Covered Mirrors itself. It’s not as though Kariti is suddenly breaking out blastbeats.

kariti

It is striking though when electric guitar arrives at the outset of “Anna (Requiem to Death)” and one is reminded of the atmospheric approach of acts like Silver Summit, as well as the current flush of groups and artists blending together ambient elements of heavy music with folkish styles — the PR wire has a list below if you’re looking for names; I won’t patronize you by repeating them here — but “Anna (Requiem to Death)” is short at just over three minutes, so its mark is made but fleeting, capping with a hard, low, distorted strum giving way to what seems to be manipulated crow calls at the start of “Il Corvo,” which is the only piece on Covered Mirrors to top five minutes.

There is more electric guitar in “Il Corvo” as well that strikes like thunder in the distance of the mix, not so much intended to play off the acoustic and vocal lines as to add to them in atmospheric terms, to flesh out the space in which the rest of the song is happening. Is it a march? Maybe. If so, it’s one given contradiction by the subsequent going-to-ground in “Absent Angels,” which returns Kariti to what one might think of as the foundation upon which the rest of the album is built, namely guitar and voice.

That reset is well timed and a tactic that speaks to some influence from a classic rock LP structure, being that side B is often where an artist might broaden the scope of arrangements or craft — as Kariti does — and then reorient the listener one last time ahead of the finale. A move skillfully employed here, and by no means the first, as subtle shifts have been taking place all along that reveal themselves more with each deeper-dive listen. “Abyss” caps the offering in likewise resonant and spacious fashion, and its lyrics are in English despite the Cyrillic title, but it’s in the ensuing “aah”s and overarching melody that the finale makes its lasting impression. Covered Mirrors is an album for the middle of the night, and the spaces it leaves open in its mix seem to be waiting to be filled by the noises of the natural world — chirping insects, leaves in wind, maybe rainfall.

That the style in which Kariti is immersed has taken on the trappings of a genre does precious little to undercut the emotional impact being made by the material and the album’s execution, and while its power is quiet, it nonetheless exists. In terms of thinking of Covered Mirrors as a debut, the nuances of arrangement stand out as an area that Kariti might continue to explore, whether that’s furthering the use of electric guitar as an atmospheric, sort-of-impressionist element alongside the acoustic, or perhaps even employing keys or percussion of one sort or another should she choose to do so. That those don’t appear in these songs, that this first record is as stripped-to-the-core as it is, is emblematic of the creative bravery involved in its making, and that too resonates when it’s over, whatever promise for the future it might accompany.

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Quarterly Review: Paradise Lost, Vinnum Sabbathi, Nighthawk, Familiars, Mountain Witch, Disastroid, Stonegrass, Jointhugger, Little Albert, Parahelio

Posted in Reviews on July 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Last day, you know the drill. It’s been a pleasure, honestly. If every Quarterly Review could feature the quality of material this one has, I’d probably only spend a fraction of the amount of time I do fretting over it. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and enjoyed the music as much as I have. If you haven’t found something here to sit with and dig into yet, well, today’s 10 more chances to do just that. Maybe something will stick at last.

See you in September.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Paradise Lost, Obsidian

paradise lost obsidian

It is impossible to listen to Obsidian and consider Paradise Lost as anything other than masters of the form. Of course, that they were one of the original pioneers of gothic death-doom helps, but even in the decade-plus since they began to shift back toward a more metallic approach, they have established a standard that is entirely their own. Obsidian collects nine tracks across a palatable 45 minutes, and if the hook of “Fall From Grace” is fan-service on the part of the band, then it is no less righteous for that. In atmosphere and aggression, cuts like “The Devil Embraced” and the galloping “Ghosts” deliver on high expectations coming off 2017’s Medusa (review here), even as side B’s “Ending Days” and “Hope Dies Young” branch into a more melodic focus, not departing from the weight of impact presented earlier, but clearly adjusting the approach, leading to an all the more deathly return on “Ravenghast,” which closes out. Their doom remains second to none; their model remains one to follow.

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Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories

Vinnum Sabbathi Of Dimensions and Theories

The narrative thread carried through the six tracks of Vinnum Sabbathi‘s Of Dimensions and Theories is a futuristic sci-fi tale about humanity’s first foray into deep space amid a chaos of environmental collapse and nuclear threat. The real story, however, is the sense of progression the instrumentalist Mexico City outfit bring in following up their debut LP, 2017’s Gravity Works (review here). Tying thematically to the latest Cegvera album — the two bands share personnel — pieces at the outset like “In Search of M-Theory” and “Quantum Determinism” maintain the exploratory vibe of the band’s jammier works in their “HEX” series, but through spoken samples give a human presence and plotline to the alternately atmospheric and lumbering tones. As the record progresses through the airier “An Appraisal” and the feedback-drenched “Beyond Perturbative States,” their dynamic finds realization in “A Superstring Revolution I” and the drum-led “A Superstring Revolution II.” I don’t know about humanity’s prospects as a whole, but Vinnum Sabbathi‘s remain bright.

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Nighthawk, The Sea Legs EP

Nighthawk The Sea Legs EP

Composed as a solo outing prior to the founding of Heavy Temple, the Nighthawk solo endeavor (presumably she wasn’t a High Priestess yet), The Sea Legs EP, is plenty self-aware in its title, but for being a raw execution of material written performed entirely on her own, its four tracks also have a pretty significant scope, from the post-QOTSA heavy pop of “Goddamn” leading off through the quick spacegaze of “I’m From Tennessee Woman, All We Do is Honky Tonk,” into the deceptively spacious “I Can Haz” with its far-back toms, dreamy vocal melody and vaguely Middle Eastern-sounding guitar, and ending with the if-Ween‘s-country-album-had-been-weirder finish of “Stay Gold.” Nighthawk has issued a follow-up to The Sea Legs EP in the full-length Goblin/John Carpenter-style synth of The Dimensionaut, but given the range and balance she shows just in this brief 12 minutes, one hopes that indeed her songwriting explorations continue to prove so multifaceted.

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Familiars, All in Good Time

familiars all in good time

Contending for one of the year’s best debut albums, FamiliarsAll in Good Time offers eight songs across 43 minutes that blend organic-feeling grit with more ethereal, landscape-evocative psychedelics. The Ontario three-piece have a few singles to their credit, but the lushness of “Rocky Roost” and the emergent heft of “Barn Burning,” the fleshy boogie of “The Dirty Dog Saloon” and the breadth of “Avro Arrow” speak not just to Familiars‘ ability to capture a largesse that draws their songs together, or the nuance that lets them brings subtle touches of Americana (Canadiana?) early on and echoing desert roll to the fuzzy “The Common Loon,” but also to the songwriting that makes these songs stand out so much as they do and the sense of purpose Familiars bring to All in Good Time as their first long-player. That turns out to be one of the most encouraging aspects of the release, but in that regard there’s plenty of competition from elements like tone, rhythm, melody, craft, performance — so yes, basically all of it.

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Mountain Witch, Extinct Cults

Mountain Witch Extinct Cults

Mountain Witch‘s fourth album, Extinct Cults, brings the Hamburg-based duo of guitarist RenĂ© Sitte and drummer/vocalist RenĂ© Roggmann back after a four-year absence with a collection that straddles the various lines between classic heavy rock, proto-metal, ’70s heavy prog and modern cultism. Their loyalties aren’t necessarily all to the 1968-’74 period, as the chug and gruff vocals of “Back From the Grave” show, but the post Technical Ecstasy sway of the title-track is a fascinating and rarely-captured specificity, and the vocal melodies expressed in layers across the record do much to add personality and depth to the arrangements while the surrounding recording remains essentially raw. No doubt vinyl-minded, Extinct Cults is relatively brief at six songs and 33 minutes, but the Priestly chug of “Man is Wolf to Man” and the engrossing garage doom of closer “The Devil Probably” offer plenty of fodder for those who’d dig in to dig into. It is a sound familiar and individual at once, old and new, and it revels in making cohesion out of such contrasts.

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Disastroid, Mortal Fools

disastroid mortal fools

You might find San Francisco trio Disastroid hanging out at the corner of noise and heavy rock, looking disreputable. Their first record for Heavy Psych Sounds is Mortal Fools, and to go with its essential-bloody-essential bass tone and melodic semi-shouted vocals, it brings hints of angularity rounded out by tonal thickness and a smoothness between transitions that extends to the flow from one song to the next. While for sure a collection of individual pieces, Mortal Fools does move through its 43 minutes with remarkable ease, the sure hand of the three-piece guides you through the otherwise willfully tumultuous course, brash in the guitar and bass and drums but immersive in the overarching groove. They seem to save a particular melodic highlight for the verses of closer “Space Rodent,” but really, whether it’s the lumbering “Hopeless” or the sharper-toothed push of “Bilge,” the highlight is what Disastroid accomplish over the course of the record as a whole. Plus that friggin’ bass sound.

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Stonegrass, Stonegrass

stonegrass self titled

I don’t know when this was first released, but the 2020 edition seems to be a remaster, and whenever it first came out, I’m pleased to have the chance to check it out now. Toronto duo Stonegrass brings together Matthew “Doc” Dunn and Jay Anderson, both of a markedly psyched-out pedigree, to dig into experimentalist acid-psych that pushes boundaries stylistic and national, tapping Afrobeat vibes with closer “Drive On” and the earlier 13-minute go-go-go jam “Tea” while “The Highway” feels like a lost psychedelic disco-funk 45, “The Cape” drones like it’s waiting for someone to start reading poetry over-top, and mellow hand-percussion and Turkish psych on centerpiece “Frozen Dunes.” The whole thing, which runs a manageable 39 minutes, is as cool as the day is long, and comes across like a gift to those of expanded mind or who are willing to join those ranks. I don’t know if it’s new or old. I don’t know if it’s a one-off or an ongoing project. I barely know if it’s actually out. But hot damn it’s rad, and if you can catch it, you should.

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Jointhugger, I Am No One

jointhugger i am no one

Norwegian half-instrumental trio Jointhugger have already captured the attention of both Interstellar Smoke Records and Ozium Records with their four-song debut long-player, I Am No One, and as the follow-up to their 2019 Daemo, it leaves little question why. The more volume, the merrier, when it comes to the rolling, nodding, undulations of riff the band conjure, as each member seems geared toward bringing as much weight to bear as much as possible. I’m serious. Even the hi-hat is heavy, never mind the guitar or bass or the cave-echoing vocals of the title-track. “Domen” slips into some shuffle — if you can call something that dense-sounding a shuffle — and underscores its solo with an entire bog’s worth of low end, and though closer “Nightfright” is the only inclusion that actually tops 10 minutes, it communicates an intensity of crush that is nothing if not consistent with what’s come before. There are flashes of letup here and there, but it’s impact at the core of Jointhugger‘s approach, and they offer plenty of it. Don’t be surprised when the CD and LP sell through, and don’t be surprised if they get re-pressed later.

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Little Albert, Swamp King

Little Albert Swamp King

Stepping out both in terms of style and substance from his position as guitarist in atmospheric doomers Messa, Little Albert — aka Alberto Piccolo — pronounces himself “swamp king” in the opening lines of his debut solo release of the same name, and the mellow ambiance and psychedelic flourish of tone in “Bridge of Sighs” and “Mean Old Woman” and the aptly-titled “Blues Asteroid” offer an individualized blend of psychedelic blues that seems to delight in tipping the balance back and forth from one to the other while likewise taking the songs through full band arrangements and more intimate wanderings. Some of the songs have a tendency to roll outward and not return, as does “Mary Claire” or “Mean Old Woman,” but “Outside Woman Blues” and the closer “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” hold tighter to the ground than some of what surrounds, so again, there’s a balance. Plus, as mellow as Swamp King is in its overarching affect, it’s neither difficult nor anything but a pleasure to follow along where Piccolo leads. If that’s off the psych-blues deep end, so be it. Only issue I take with him being king of the swamp is that the album’s domain hardly seems so limited.

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Parahelio, Surge Evelia, Surge

Parahelio Surge Evelia Surge

Beautiful, patient and pastoral psychedelia fleshes out across the three tracks of Parahelio‘s debut full-length, Surge Evelia, Surge. Issued on vinyl through Necio Records, the three-song offering reportedly pays homage to a mining town in the band’s native Peru, but it does so with a breadth that seems to cover so much between heavy post-rock and psych that it’s difficult not to imagine places decidedly more ethereal. Beginning with its title-track (12:33) and moving into the swells and recessions of “Gestos y Distancia,” the album builds to an encompassing payoff for side A before unveiling “Ha’Adam,” a 23-minute side-consuming rollout that encompasses not only soundscaping, but a richly human feel in its later take, solidifying around a drum march and a heavy build of guitar that shouldn’t sound strange to fans of Pelican or Russian Circles yet manages somehow to transcend the hypnotic in favor of the dynamic, the immersive, and again, the beautiful. What follows is desolation and aftermath, and that’s how the record ends, but even there, the textures and the spirit of the release remain central. I always do myself a favor with the last release of any Quarterly Review, and this is no exception.

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Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Mutant Flesh, War Cloud, Void of Sleep, Pretty Lightning, Rosy Finch, Ghost Spawn, Agrabatti, Dead Sacraments, Smokemaster

Posted in Reviews on March 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Alarm went off this morning at 3:45. Got up, flicked on the coffee pot, turned the heat on in the house, hit the bathroom and was back in bed in four minutes with an alarm set for 4:15. Didn’t really get back to sleep, but the half-hour of being still was a kind of pre-waking meditation that I appreciated just the same. Was dozing when the alarm went off the second time, but it’s day two of the Quarterly Review, so no time to doze. No time for anything, as is the nature of these blocks of writeups. They tend to be all-consuming while they’re going on. Could be worse. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Khemmis, Doomed Heavy Metal

khemmis doomed heavy metal

Denver four-piece Khemmis have made themselves one of the most distinctive acts in metal, to say nothing of doom. With strong vocal harmonies out front backed by similarly-minded guitars, the band bring a sense of poise to doom that’s rare in the modern sphere, somewhat European in influence, but less outwardly adherent to the genre tenets of melancholy. They refuse to be Paradise Lost, in other words, and are all the more themselves for that. Their Doomed Heavy Metal EP (on 20 Buck Spin and Nuclear Blast) is a stopgap after 2018’s Desolation (review here) full-length, but at 38 minutes and six songs, it’s substantial nonetheless, headlined by the Dio cover “Rainbow in the Dark” — capably done with just a flair of Slough Feg — with a take on Lloyd Chandler‘s “A Conversation with Death” and “Empty Throne,” both rare-enough studio cuts, for backing, as well as three live cuts that cover their three-to-date albums. The growls on “Three Gates” are fun, but I’ll still take the Dio cover as the highlight. For a cobbled-together release, it feels at least like a bit of thoughtful fan-service, and really, a band could do worse than to serve their fans thoughtfully.

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Mutant Flesh, Evil Eye

mutant flesh evil eye

There are shades of doom metal’s origins underlying Mutant Flesh‘s first release, the eight-song/33-minute Evil Eye, but the Philly troupe are too gleeful in their weirdness ultimately to be paying full homage to the likes of Witchfinder General, and especially in a faster song like second cut “Meteoric” and the subsequent lead-guitar-flipout-and-vocal-soar title-track, they tap into the defiantly doomed vibe of earliest Saint Vitus. That’s true of the crawling “Euthanasia” as well, which crashes and nods as it approaches the six-minute mark as the longest inclusion here, but even the penultimate “Blight” brings that twisted-BlackFlag-noise-slowed-down spirit that lets you know there’s consciousness behind the chaos, and that while Mutant Flesh might seem to be all-the-way-gone, they’re really just getting started. Maybe their sound will even out over time, maybe it won’t, but for what it’s worth, they do ragged doom well from the opening “Leviathan (Lord of the Labyrinth)” onward, and feel right at home in the unhinged.

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War Cloud, Earhammer Sessions

war cloud earhammer sessions

Having just shredded their way across Europe, War Cloud took their set into the Earhammer Studio with Greg Wilkinson at the helm in an attempt to capture the band in top form on their home turf. Did it work? The results on Earhammer Sessions (Ripple Music) don’t wait around for you to decide. They’re too busy kicking ass to take names, and if the resulting 29-minute burst is even half of what they brought to the stage on that tour, those must’ve been some goddamn shows. Songs like “White Lightning” and the snare-counted-in “Speed Demon” and “Striker” feel like they’re being given their due in the max-speed-NWOBHM-but-still-too-classy-to-be-thrash presentation, and honestly, this feels like War Cloud have found their method. If they don’t tour their next album and then hit the studio after and lay it down live, or at least as live as Earhammer Sessions is — one never knows as regards overdubs and isolation booths and all that — they’re doing themselves a disservice. War Cloud play metal. So what? So this.

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Void of Sleep, Metaphora

Void of Sleep Metaphora

Void of Sleep return after half a decade with the prog-doom stylings of their third album, Metaphora (Aural Music), which stretches dramatically through songs like “Iron Mouth” (11:00), preceded by the intro “The Famine Years” and the shorter “Unfair Judgements,” preceded by the intro “Waves of Discomfort,” and still somehow manage not to sound out of place tapping into their inner Soilwork in the growled verses/clean choruses of “Master Abuser.” They get harsh a bit as well on “Tides of the Mourning,” which uses its 10:30 to summarize the bulk of the proceedings and close out the record after “Modern Man,” but that song has more of a scope and feels looser structurally for that. Still, that shift is only one of several throughout Metaphora, which follows the Italian five-piece’s 2015 LP, New World Order (discussed here), and wherever Void of Sleep are headed at any given moment, they head there with a duly controlled presence. Clearly their last five years have not been wasted.

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Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls

pretty lightning jangle bowls

As yet, Germany’s Pretty Lightning remain a well kept secret of fuzz-psych-blues nuance, digging out their own niche-in-a-niche-in-a-niche microgenre with a natural and inadvertent-feeling sense of just writing the songs they want to write. Jangle Bowls, which puts its catchy, semi-garage title-track early in the proceedings, is the duo’s second offering through Fuzz Club Records behind 2017’s The Rhythm of Ooze (review here), and seem to present a mission statement in opener “Swamp Ritual” before bringing a due sense of excursion to “Boogie at the Shrine” — damn that’s a smooth groove — and reviving the movement in “RaRaRa,” which follows. Closer “Shovel Blues” is a highlight for how it drifts into oblivion, but the underlying tightness of craft in “123 Eternity” and “Hum” is an appeal as well, so it’s a tradeoff. But it’s one I’ll be glad to make across multiple repeat visits to Jangle Bowls while wondering how long this particular secret can actually be kept.

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Rosy Finch, Scarlet

rosy finch scarlet

The painted-blood-red cover of Rosy Finch‘s second album, Scarlet (on Lay Bare Recordings), and horror-cinema-esque design isn’t a coincidence in terms of atmosphere, but the Spanish trio bring a more aggressive feel to the nine-track outing overall than they did to their 2016 debut, Witchboro (review here), with additional crunch in the guitar of Mireia Porto (also vocals and bass) and bassist Elena Garcia, and a forward kick drum from LluĂ­s Mas that hammers home the impact of a cruncher like “Ruby” and even seems to ground the more melodic “Alizarina,” which follows, let alone the crushing opener/longest track (immediate points) “Oxblood” or its headspinning closing companion “Dark Cherry,” after which follows the particularly intense hidden cut “Lady Bug,” also not to be missed. Anger suits Rosy Finch, it seems, and the band bring a physicality to the songs on Scarlet that only reinforces the sonic push.

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Ghost Spawn, The Haunting Continuum

Ghost Spawn The Haunting Continuum

Brutal, gurgling doom-of-death pervades The Haunting Continuum from Denver one-man-unit Ghost Spawn, and while the guitar late in “Escaping the Mortal Flesh” seems momentarily to offer some hope of salvation, rest assured, it doesn’t last, and the squibbly central riff returns with its extremity to prove once more that only death is real. Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Kevin Berstler is the lone culprit behind the project’s first full-length and second release overall (also second this year, so he would seem to work quickly), and across 43 minutes that only grow more grueling as they proceed through the centerpiece title-track and into “The Terrors that Plague Nightly” and the desolate incantations of “Exiled to the Realm of Eternal Rot,” there are some hints of cleaner grunts that have made their way through — a kind of repeated “hup” vocalization — but this too is swallowed in the miasma of cave-echo guitar, drums-from-out-of-the-abyss, and raw-as-peeled-flesh production. Can’t get behind that? Probably you and 99.9 percent of the rest of humanity. For us slugs, though, it’s just about right.

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Agrabatti, Beyond the Sun

agrabatti beyond the sun

It’s kosmiche thrust and watery vibes when Agrabatti go Beyond the Sun. What’s there upon arrival? Nothing less than a boogie down with Hawkwind at the helm of a spacey spaced-out space rocking chopper that you shouldn’t even be able to hear the revving engine of in space and yet somehow you can. Also synth, pulsating riffs and psych-as-all-golly-gosh awakenings. Formed in 2009 by Chad Davis — then just out of U.S. Christmas, already at that point known for his work in Hour of 13 and a swath of other projects across multiple genres — and with songs begun to come together at that time only to be shelved ahead of recording this year, Beyond the Sun sat seemingly in some unreachable strata of anomalous subspace, for 11 years before being rediscovered from its time-loop like Kelsey Grammer in that one episode of TNG, and gorgeously spread across the quadrant in its five-cut run, with its cover of the aforementioned Hawkwind‘s “Born to Go” so much at home among its companions it feels like, baby, it’s already gone. Do you need sunglasses in the void? Shit yeah you do.

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Dead Sacraments, Celestial Throne

Dead Sacraments Celestial Throne

Four sprawling doom epics comprise the 2019 debut album — and apparently debut release — from Illinois four-piece Dead Sacraments, who themselves are comprised from three former members of atmospheric sludgers Angel Eyes, who finished their run in 2011 but released the posthumous Things Have Learnt to Walk That Ought to Crawl (review here). Those are guitarist Brendan Burchell, bassist Nader Cheboub and drummer Ryan Croson, and together with apparently-self-harmonizing vocalist/guitarist Mark Mazurek, they cast a doom built on largesse in tone and scope alike, given an air of classic-metal grandiosity but filtered through a psych-doom modernity that feels aware of what the likes of Pallbearer and Khemmis have done for the genre. Nonetheless, as a first record, Celestial Throne shines its darkness brightly across its no-song-under-nine-minutes-long lumber, and affirms the righteousness of doom with a genuine sense of reach at its disposal.

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Smokemaster, Smokemaster

smokemaster smokemaster

The languid and trippy spirit in opener “Solar Flares” is something of a misdirect on the part of organ-laced, Cologne-based heavy rockers Smokemaster, who go on to boogie down through songs like “Trippin’ Blues” before jamming out classic heavy blues-style on “Ear of the Universe.” I’m not saying they don’t have their psychedelic aspects, but there’s plenty of movement behind what they do as well, and the setup they give with the first two cuts is effective in throwing off the first-time listener’s expectation. A pastoral instrumental “Sunrise in the Canyon” leads off side B after, and comes backed by “Astronaut of Love” (yup, a lovestronaut) and “Astral Traveller,” which find an engaging midpoint between the ground and the great beyond, synth and keys pushing outward in the finale even as the bass and drums keep it tethered to a central groove. It’s a formula that’s worked many times over the last half-century, but it works here too, and Smokemaster‘s Smokemaster makes a right-on introduction to the German newcomers.

Smokemaster on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records store

 

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Quarterly Review: Mos Generator, Psychic Lemon, Planet of Zeus, Brass Hearse, Mother Turtle, The Legendary Flower Punk, Slow, OKO, Vug, Ultracombo

Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’d like to hope y’all know the drill by now. It’s the Quarterly Review. We do it (roughly) every quarter. The idea is 10 reviews per day for a Monday to Friday span, running 50 total. I sometimes do more. Sometimes not. Kind of depends on the barrage and how poorly I’ve been doing in general with keeping up on stuff. This time is ‘just’ 50, so there you go. You’ll see some bigger names this week and some stuff that’s come my way of late that I’ve been digging and wanting to check out. It’s a lot of rock, which I like, and a few things I’m writing about basically as a favor to myself because, you know, self-care and all that.

But staring down the barrel of 50 reviews over the next few days has me as apprehensive and how-the-hell-is-this-gonna-happen as ever, so I think I’ll just get to it and jump in. No time to waste.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Mos Generator, Exiles

mos generator exiles

Worth it just for the Sabbath cover? Most definitely. As Mos Generator take on “Air Dance” from Never Say Die as part of the Glory or Death Records LP compilation release, Exiles, they blend the proggy swagger of later-’70s Iommi leads with the baseline acoustic guitar fluidity that makes those final Ozzy-era records so appealing in hindsight. It’s just one of the six reasons to take on Exiles however. The A side comprises three outtakes from 2018’s Shadowlands (review here), and guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed‘s Big Scenic Nowhere bandmate Bob Balch sits in on “Battah,” while a duly manic reworking of Van Halen‘s “Light up the Sky,” the Black Sabbath track and a live version of Rush‘s “Anthem” from 2016 make up side B. It’s a quick listen and it’s Mos Generator. It may be a stopgap on the way to whatever they’re doing next, but if you think about it, so is everything, and that’s no reason not to jump in either for the covers or the originals, both of which are up to the band’s own high standard of output.

Mos Generator on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

 

Psychic Lemon, Freak Mammal

psychic lemon freak mammal

The distorted wails of Andy Briston‘s guitar echo out of Freak Mammal — the five-track/46-minute third LP from London’s Psychic Lemon — like a clarion to the lysergic converted. A call to prayer for those worshiping the nebulous void, not so much kept to earth by Andy Hibberd‘s bass and Martin Law‘s drums as given a solidified course toward the infinite far out. Of course centerpiece “Afrotropic Bomb” digs into some Ethiopian groove — that particular shuffling mania — and I won’t take away from the lower buzz of “Free Electron Collective” or the tense hi-hat cutting through all that tonal wash or the ultra-spaced blowout that caps six-minute finale “White Light,” but give me the self-aware mellower jaunt that is the 13-minute second track “Seeds of Tranquility” any day, following opener “Dark Matter” as it does with what would be a blissful drift but for the exciting rhythmic work taking place beneath the peaceful guitar, and the later synthesized voices providing a choral melody that seems all the more playfully grandiose, befitting the notion of Freak Mammal as a ceremony or at very least some kind of lost ritual. Someday they’ll dig up the right pyramid and call the aliens back. Until then, Psychic Lemon let us imagine what might happen after they return.

Psychic Lemon on Thee Facebooks

Drone Rock Records website

 

Planet of Zeus, Faith in Physics

PLANET OF ZEUS FAITH IN PHYSICS

There’s a context of social commentary to Planet of ZeusFaith in Physics that makes one wonder if perhaps the title doesn’t refer to gravity in terms of what-goes-up-must-come-down as it might apply to class hierarchy. The mighty, ready to fall, and so on. Songs like the post-Clutch fuzz roller “Man vs. God” and “Revolution Cookbook” (video premiere here) would seem to support that idea, but one way or the other, as the later “Let Them Burn” digs into a hook that reminds of Killing Joke and the dense bass of eight-minute closer “King of the Circus” provides due atmospheric madness for our times, there’s a sense of grander statement happening across the album. The Athens-based outfit make a centerpiece of the starts and stops in “All These Happy People” and remind that whatever the message, the medium remains top quality heavy rock and roll songcraft, which is something they’ve become all the more reliable to deliver. The more pointed perspective than they showed on 2016’s Loyal to the Pack suits them, but it’s the nuance of electronics and arrangements of vocals and guitar on cuts like “The Great Liar” that carry them through here. If you believe in gravity, Planet of Zeus have plenty on offer.

Planet of Zeus on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brass Hearse, Oneiric Afterlife

brass hearse oneiric afterlife

Experimentalist keyboard-laced psychedelic goth your thing? Well, of course it is. You’re in luck then as Brass Hearse — an offshoot of once madly prolific Boston outfit Ice Dragon — unveil three new songs (plus an intro) with the Oneiric Afterlife and in 10 minutes work to unravel about 30 years of genre convention while still tying their material to memorable hooks. “Bleed Neon,” “Indigo Dust” and “Only Forever” seem simple on the surface, and none of them touch four minutes long, let alone “A Gesture to Make a Stop,” the 26-second introduction, but their refusal of stylistic constraint is as palpable as it is admirable, with a blend of folk guitar and dark-dance-party keys and percussive insistence on “Bleed Neon” and a ’60s Halloweeny rock organ line in “Only Forever” that’s complemented by low-end fuzz and a chorus that would rightly embarrass Ghost if they heard it. In comparison, “Indigo Dust” is serene in its presentation, but even there is a depth of arrangement of keys, guitar, bass and drums, and the skill tying it all together as a cohesive sound is not to be understated. A quick listen with a lot to unpack, it’s not going to be everyone’s thing, but those who get it will be hit hard and rightly so.

Brass Hearse on Thee Facebooks

Brass Hearse on Bandcamp

 

Mother Turtle, Three Sides to Every Story

mother turtle three sides to every story

The first of three tracks on Greek progwinders Mother Turtle‘s fourth LP, Three Sides to Every Story, “Zigu Zigu,” would seem to cap with a message of congratulations: “You’ve listened to three musicians indulging themselves with some kind of weird instrumental music.” It then goes on to question its own instrumentalism, because it has the words presently being spoken, continuing in this manner until a long fadeout of guitar leads to the funky start of the 15-minute-long “Notwatch.” Good fun, in other words. Mother Turtle maybe aren’t so weird as they think they are, but they are duly adventurous and obviously joyful in their undertaking, bringing chants in over drifting guitar and synth swirl in “Notwatch” before building to a crescendo of rock guitar and organ, ultimately dominated by a solo as it would almost have to be, before intertwining piano lines in 16:46 closer “A Christmas Postcard from Kim” lead to further shenanigans, vocal experimentation, plays on metal, holiday shimmer, and a fade into the close. At 38 minutes, Three Sides to Every Story doesn’t at all overstay its welcome, but neither is it an exercise looking for audience engagement in the traditional sense. Rather, it resonates its glee through its offbeat sensibility and thus works on its own level to craft a hook. One can’t help but smile while listening to the fun being had.

Mother Turtle on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

 

The Legendary Flower Punk, Wabi Wu

The Legendary Flower Punk Wabi Wu

It is something to consider, perhaps as you dive into the nine-minute “Prince Mojito” on The Legendary Flower Punk‘s Wabi Wu, that the band started as a psych-folk solo-project. Currently working as a core trio plus a range of guests, the Russian troupe make their debut on Tonzonen with the brazenly prog seven-tracker, totaling just a 44-minute run but with a range that would seem to be much broader. Alternately jazzy and synth-laden, technically intricate but never overly showy, pieces like the bass-led “Azulejo” and the penultimate “Trance Fusion PĂĄ Ryska” present a meeting of the minds with founding guitarist Kamille Sharapodinov at the center of most compositions, he and bassist Mike Lopakov and drummer Nick Kunavin digging into nothing’s-off-limits textures from fusion onward through New Wave and dub. The abiding rule followed seems to be whatever moves the band about a given track is what they roll with, and though The Legendary Flower Punk has evolved well beyond its origins, there’s still a bit of flower and still a bit of punk amid all the legends being made. Good luck keeping up with it.

The Legendary Flower Punk on Bandcamp

Tonzonen Records website

 

Slow, VI – Dantalion

Slow VI Dantalion

With the follow-up to 2018’s V – Oceans (review here), Belgian duo Slow rattle off another 78 minutes of utterly consuming, crushing, atmospheric and melancholic funeral doom like it’s absolutely nothing. Well, not like it’s nothing — more like it’s a weight on their very soul — but even so. Issued through Aural Music, VI – Dantlion brings the two-piece of guitarist/vocalist/drummer DĂ©hĂ  and bassist/lyricist Lore B. once again into the grueling, megalithic churn of self-inflicted riff-punishment that’s so encompassing, so dark, so deep and so dramatic it almost can’t help but also be beautiful. To wit, second track “Lueur” is a 17-minute downward journey into ambient brutalism, yet as it moves toward the midsection one can still hear melodic elements of keyboard and orchestral sounds peaking through. There is letup in the lush finale “ElĂ©gie,” but to get there, you have to make your way through “Incendiaire,” which is possibly the most extreme movement of the seven inclusions. Though frankly, after a while, you’re buried so far down by Slow‘s glorious miseries that it’s hard to tell. The world needs this band. They are what humanity would sound like if it was ever honest with itself.

Slow on Thee Facebooks

Aural Music on Bandcamp

 

OKO, Haze

oko haze

Adelaide, Australia, newcomers OKO present their debut EP in the form of Haze, a 14:44 single-song outing that sees the instrumental three-piece of guitarist Nick Nancarrow, bassist Tyson Ruch and drummer Ash Matthews tap into organic heavy psych vibes while working cross-planet with Justin Pizzoferrato (known for his work with Elder, among others) on the mix and master. The resulting one-tracker has a clarity in its drum sound and clean feel that one suspects might speak of more progressive intentions on the part of OKO in the longer term, but as they are here they have a sense of tonal warmth that serves them well across the unpretentious span of “Haze” itself, the winding riff inevitably bringing to mind some of Colour Haze‘s jammier work but still managing to find its own direction. I hear no reason OKO can’t do the same, regardless of the influences they’re working under in terms of sound. Further, the longform modus suits them, and while future work will inherently develop some variety in general approach, the natural exploration they undertake on this first outing easily holds attention for its span and is fluid enough that, had they wanted, they could have pushed it further.

OKO on Thee Facebooks

OKO website

 

Vug, Onyx

vug onyx

Vug are not the first European heavy rock band to blend vintage methods with modern production. They’re not the first band to take classic swagger and drum urgency and meld it with a pervasive sense of vocal soul. I’m not sure I’d tell them that though, because frankly, they’re doing pretty well with it. At its strongest, their Tonzonen-released sophomore outing, Onyx, recalls Thin Lizzy via, yes, Graveyard, but there’s enough clarity of intention behind the work to make it plain they know where they’re coming from. Such was the case as well with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and though they’ve had some lineup turnover since that first offering, the self-produced four-piece bring a character to their material on songs like “Tired Of” and the penultimate boogier “Inferno” before closing with the acoustic “Todbringer” — a mirror of side A’s “On My Own” — that they carry the classic-style 39-minute long-player off without a hitch, seeming to prep the heavy ’10s for a journey into a new decade.

Vug on Thee Facebooks

Noisolution webstore

 

Ultracombo, Season 1

Ultracombo Season 1

As the title hints, the Season 1 EP is the debut from Italy’s Ultracombo, and with it, the five-piece of vocalist Alessio Guarda, guitarists Alberto Biasin and Giordano Tasson, bassist Giordano Pajarin and drummer Flavio Gola work quickly to build the forward momentum that brings them front-to-back through the 23-minute five-track release. “Flusso” and opener “The King” feel particularly drawn from an earlier Truckfighters influence, but Guarda‘s vocals are a distinguishing factor amidst all that ensuing fuzz and straight-ahead drive, and in “Sparatutto” and the closer “Il Momento in Cui Non Penso,” they seem to strip their approach to its most basic aspects and bring together the tonal thickness and melodicism that’s been at root in their sound overall. The subtlety, such as it is, is to be found in their songwriting, which results in tracks that transcend language barriers through sheer catchiness. That bodes better for them on subsequent outings better than a wall o’ fuzz ever could, though of course that doesn’t hurt them either, especially their first time out.

Ultracombo on Thee Facebooks

Ultracombo on Bandcamp

 

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Little Albert Debut Album Swamp King Due in March on Aural Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Guitarist Alberto Piccolo is probably best known in heavy circles for his work with Messa, whose atmospheric and moody take on doom has found resonance with an international audience grown outward from their homebase in Treviso, Italy. Piccolo earlier this year unveiled something of an alter-ego in Little Albert, a solo-project exploring bluesy textures without some of the posturing that so, so, so often comes along with even a mere association with the style. I’ve only heard the single “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues” on Bandcamp, but putting it on was an immediate relief when Piccolo, who very clearly is not an 80-year-old Black dude, was also not trying to sound like one. There are an awful lot of players out there who can’t say the same.

The same Bandcamp page that hosts that track — you can go there if you want, but the track is streaming at the bottom here; just under the link, as it happens — makes mention of a debut EP in progress. By contrast, the announcement that follows here that Little Albert have signed to Aural Music talks about releasing a first album in March. I’m not sure if the one grew out of the other or what — I’d assume, but I don’t know that — but either way, so long as Piccolo wants to go about purveying his blues sans racialized caricature, that record’s more than welcome by me, whatever shape it might ultimately take.

The announcement is pretty light on album details, but there’s plenty of time for such things. Here’s what came down the PR wire:

little albert

LITTLE ALBERT SIGN WITH AURAL MUSIC

Little Albert is the Hard Blues project of Alberto Piccolo, lead guitarist of Scarlet Doom disciples MESSA.

The debut album is titled “Swamp King” and will be released worldwide in March 2020.

here’s what Alberto had to say: “Signing for Aural Music seemed to me the best way to give credit to the union between blues and doom permeating Little Albert project. In addition, being Aural Music Messa’s label, the collaboration was born naturally.”

Artwork, tracklist and more details will be revealed in the coming weeks.

http://www.facebook.com/littlealbertblues
https://littlealbertblues.bandcamp.com/

Little Albert, “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues”

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Arcana 13 to Release Black Death 7″ on Jan. 17; New Teaser Premieres

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

arcana 13

The vibe is extra creepy — and kind of messy-looking — in the teaser clip from Chariot of Black Moth for the new single “Black Death” by Italian horror cult rockers Arcana 13. I don’t know who had the honor of playing around in all that slop, but woof, that must’ve been some hosing off afterward. Perhaps more relevant — okay, definitely more relevant — the song itself has a grim atmosphere and a soaring emergent melody that suits its being highlighted as a single, pushing beyond we-like-horror-movies-with-boobs-in-them-blah-blah-Satan and into a genuine ambience and aesthetic mindset. The teaser is just under two minutes long, and the song can’t be much more than, what? five or six, max? in order to fit on a 7″, so from the creeper-style opening guitar to the later nod and harmonized vocals, it should be a decent showing of what it’s all about. And hey, the B-side is a take on Iron Maiden‘s “Wrathchild.” No way that isn’t fun.

Arcana 13‘s Black Death 7″ is out Jan. 17 through Aural Music as the follow-up to the band’s 2017 debut album, Danza Macabra (discussed here). Info and teaser clip follow.

Please enjoy:

Arcana 13 Black Death EP

Arcana 13 – Black Death

Deep into the darkness a spine chilling scream cuts through the fog. Filthy fuzz sounds start consuming the air. A deep rumble of drums and square waves get the earth shaking. This is the Horror Doom march of Arcana 13… the dead are listening. Hailing from Italy, the birthplace of cult Horror movie masters, Arcana 13 stirs in the cauldron a lethal brew of Heavy Doom with galore of Italian Horror’s legacy. Lucio Fulci living of fuzzy riffs. Mario Bava high on distorted mellotrons. Dario Argento crazy for low end grime.

Sealing the deal classic horror poster artist, master Enzo Sciotti, gave his blessing painting the eye-striking album cover and the unique DANZA MACABRA horror show, featuring mesmerizing horror visuals, has been brought live on a set of Italian shows first, then across Europe with label mates Messa.

In 2018, horror hero Claudio Simonetti of Goblin, struck by the band’s cover version of Dario Argento’s Suspiria included in Danza Macabra”, got in touch to revise another one of his masterpieces: the main theme composed for George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD. The song is featured as opening track in the Special 40th Anniversary edition, out on Rustblade Records. The last gravestone is the collaboration with director Luca Canale Brucculeri that got in touch with Arcana 13 while working on his new horror tv series “Black Death” based on the same-title comic book. He got captured by the sound of the band and decided to commission the composition of the main theme for the series, that will be released as special edition 7” in January 2020 on Aural Music, along with a doomed up version of Iron Maiden’s classic “Wrathchild” and featuring iconic Artwork by Branca Studio.

Street Date: January 17th, 2019

TRACKLIST:
Side A: BLACK DEATH
Side B: WRATCHILD (Iron Maiden cover)

Line-Up:
S.Bertozzi – Vocals & Guitar
A.Burdisso – Vocals & Guitar
F.Petrini – Bass
L.Taroni – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/arcanatredici/
https://www.instagram.com/arcanatredici/
http://www.arcana13.it/

Arcana 13, “Black Death” teaser premiere

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Tel Set March 29 Release for Lowlife on Aural Music

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

tel

Listening to TEL‘s 2017 single, ‘Daybreak,’ it’s easy to imagine what an engineer like Garrett Morris (also of Windhand) might be able to bring to their sound in terms of a fullness of tone and a more forward sense of volume. The Richmond, Virginia, outfit have signed to Italy’s Aural Music, thereby becoming labelmates with Messa, Imperial Triumphant and many others, and their approach indeed speaks to a measure of extremity in its doomed feel, drawing on stated influence from the emotionalism of Katatonia and the deathly ways of early Paradise Lost and blending it with the particular air of disaffection that has remained so resonant from those bands’ work in the early and mid 1990s.

The album is set to arrive on March 29, and I’ll hope to have more to come on it around then, but there hasn’t been any official audio or even a tracklist leaked as yet, so, you know, maybe they’re looking to keep it secret. That happens sometimes.

From the PR wire:

tel lowlife

TEL sign with Aural Music

Richmond VA sludge/doom metal band TEL have signed with Aural Music and will release Lowlife on March 29 2019. The album was produced by Garrett Morris (the guitarist of Windhand) and mastered by Dan Randall of Mammoth Sound Recordings (Iron Reagan, Ghoul, Cannabis Corpse).

The band commented “We are extremely excited to be releasing this album through Aural Music. Quite a few albums that we love or were inspired by have come from this label. The music on this album is incredibly personal and dear to us, so to have recorded it with one of my favorite songwriters (Garrett Morris of Windhand), and then get to release it with an international label is amazing and surreal for us.”

More information will be made available in the next few days!

TEL is:
Dante DuVall – Vocals
Michael Potts – Guitars
Ed Fierro – Bass
Matt Grigsby – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/TelRVA/
https://telrva.bandcamp.com/releases
https://www.facebook.com/auralmusicgroup/
https://www.auralmusic.com/

TEL, “Daybreak”

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Messa, Feast for Water: Tidal Consumption

Posted in Reviews on February 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Messa Feast for Water

Italian four-piece Messa conjure a genre cornucopia with their second record for Aural Music. The somewhat quizzical title Feast for Water, taken in context with the cover art of a diver breaking the surface to plunge beneath, speaks directly to the idea of immersion; there’s no guarantee that diver is going to reach the air again, in other words. With eight richly varied tracks presented in a front-to-back linear flow across a still manageable 49 minutes, the band demonstrates a clarity of purpose and a heaviness beyond tone that do indeed seem to be geared toward swallowing the listener as a part of the experience of the album itself.

In quiet stretches of drone, it is hypnotic, and at times it owes some elements of cultistry like those that emerge in the galloping post-intro opener “Snakeskin Drape” to The Devil’s Blood, the impressive lead work of guitarist Alberto playing well off Marco‘s riffing and Sara‘s overriding vocal melodies while Rocco‘s snare pushes the charge from deep enough in the mix to still be a presence, but not dominant.

From the very humming start of the 2:31 intro “Naunet,” Messa set an ambient foundation in cello-style string sounds and backing drones — courtesy of Marco — but there’s a tension created as well as the short cut builds a high-pitched tone to a wash of noise before cutting cold to the quiet beginning of “Snakeskin Drape,” so clearly a drive toward a dynamic approach is a factor as well. That was the case on Messa‘s 2016 debut, Belfry (discussed here), but creative growth is evident in the fluidity of the band’s presentation, and Feast for Water has a sonic persona that transcends its familiar aspects and casts an individual identity that continues to expand its depth as the tracks play through.

To wit, as “Snakeskin Drape” so intentionally builds momentum throughout its five-minute run, the subsequent “Leah,” at eight minutes, brings together Rhodes-infused lounge jazz topped with Sara‘s breathy vocals with crush-minded noise riffing, angular and catchy at the same time and crafted in cyclical fashion to contradict the quieter stretches without necessarily undercutting their effectiveness in terms of mood.

Rounding out with a brazen display of low-end wash before ceding ground to “The Seer,” “Leah” is a standout and a highlight for its central riff alone, but it remains best when taken in the context of following the metallic thrust of “Snakeskin Drape” and leading into the bluesy guitar that follows in “The Seer,” which itself arrives married to significant tonal heft. There isn’t a centerpiece on Feast for Water, but if one examines the record front-to-back, it not only breaks into even vinyl sides, but follows a parabolic course in putting its “meat,” as it were, in the middle. “Leah,” “The Seer” — which returns a bit to the gallop of “Snakeskin Drape” while adding some minor-key Eastern inflection in the guitar around a riff that, in another setting, one might say was culled from Goatsnake — and the following pair of “She Knows” and “Tulsi” each broadening the range from the track before it.

messa

At what one presumes would be the start of side B, “She Knows” digs into further Rhodes-ery courtesy of Alberto as quiet drums from Rocco build toward a post-metallic roll somewhat hopeful in mood but still very much as it approaches the midpoint in the vein of what’s come before, cutting back to quiet at the midpoint and this time being joined for a verse by Sara, whose vocal command is able to carry these quiet parts and the heavier stretches with likewise malleability. That makes “She Knows” all the more an exemplar of Messa‘s dynamic as it stands throughout their second long-player, and as it hits its crescendo, the song is neither overblown nor underserved, feeding directly into the grunge-style riff and solo that begin “Tulsi.”

To an extent, the shift between “She Knows” and “Tulsi” mirrors that between “Naunet” and “Snakeskin Drape,” but it’s not necessarily a reintroduction happening so much as a perpetuation of flow. Sweeping into and out of blastbeats with blackened screams from Rocco for atmospheric effect, the beginning of “Tulsi” is the most blatant nod to extreme metal on Feast for Water, but through guitar squibblies play a role in the subsequent verse, the chug they complement is all doomer bounce.

An ambient break leads to a second half revitalizing the jazz feel with sax (yup) atop echoing drums and guitar, and it’s with “White Stain,” which follows, that Messa hit the inevitable reset point and returns to the Rhodes-backed loud/quiet trades heard earlier. That this in itself feels familiar shows how thorough a job the band does in setting their own terms across the long-player’s span, and if they take a victory lap anywhere in these songs for that success, it’s in the soaring guitar solo in the second half of “White Stain,” which recedes into roll and rumble in order to let the quieter “Da Tariki Tariqat” finish out.

There’s a linear build to the four-minute guitar-led instrumental-save-for-ambient-buried-singing piece, backed by cymbal washes and string and/or sax sounds, but as it comes to its loudest and most distorted point, the tension built leads not to a blowout noise-laden finale but a smoothly executed, classy apex that’s come and gone in under a minute’s time, letting the atmospherics end the proceedings. As they do so, it’s hard not to appreciate the boldness of that choice and the confidence in their approach that it represents.

Ultimately it’s one such move among many peppered across Feast for Water, but like everything before it, the contemplative capping of “Da Tariki Tariqat” echoes the notion of willfully progressive songwriting that serves to unite this material nearly as much as the overall quality level of the craft itself. Might take some time to grow on a certain type of listener looking for a more immediate impact, but if one is willing to chance diving in like the figure on the cover art, Feast for Water unfolds a world well worth taking the risk of not making it back.

Messa, Feast for Water album teaser

Messa on Thee Facebooks

Messa on Bandcamp

Aural Music webstore

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