Sleeping Giant Sign to Copper Feast Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Always like good news, and a previously-independently-issued album getting picked up for a vinyl release is almost always that. Certainly so in the case of Aussie three-piece Sleeping Giant, who put out their self-titled full-length (review here) this summer have have been snagged by Copper Feast Records for an LP edition. Actually, to be more specific, a couple LP editions, as there will apparently be different regional variants. The label, founded last year with releases from HorsehunterSchool Disco, Pseudo Mind Hive and LowFlyingHawks under its belt, has also apparently relocated to Australia, so getting a band like Sleeping Giant on board may be a sign of a burgeoning regional focus. Certainly plenty of Oz heavy to go around. It’s like they grow on trees down there.

Preorders start at the end of the month for Sleeping Giant‘s Sleeping Giant, and I’m not sure when the release will actually be or what the band’s plans are for after, but in the interim, like I said at the outset, a vinyl version is good news for platterhounds of all stripes.

Of course, the record’s also streaming at the bottom of this post, because it’s the future and we can do that here:

sleeping giant

Copper Feast Records – Sleeping Giant

Sound the alarm…it’s announcement time!

I’m beyond excited to welcome the brilliant Sleeping Giant to the Copper Feast family. At the end of the month, we will be opening up pre-orders for the first and only vinyl pressings of the self-titled debut LP from these Melbourne/Bendigo based stoner metal riffheads.

‘Sleeping Giant’ will be our first release since my relocation to Australia, which means that this fantastic album will be available in both Australia and the UK/EU in two region exclusive variants (details to follow later).

Having been around for nearly 6 years now, formerly under the name Lowpoint, ‘Sleeping Giant’ is an absolutely, absolutely killer intro to the band and well worth the wait! Some of the most crushing moments in stoner rock this year alongside some gorgeously mellow soundscapes…Melbourne’s done it again.

Sleeping Giant is:
Steven Hammer – Guitars/Vocals
James Wright – Bass
Pali Emond-Glenn – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/sleepinggiantband/
https://www.instagram.com/sleepinggiantband/
https://sleepinggiantband.bandcamp.com/
https://copperfeastrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CopperFeastRecords/

Sleeping Giant, Sleeping Giant (2019)

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Mammoth Mammoth Announce Kreuzung out Nov. 8; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

So Mammoth Mammoth toured Europe I think twice for their last record, they recorded their new album in Germany, it has a German title, is being put out by an Austrian label, and I’m pretty sure half their lineup at this point is European. Safe to say they’ve maybe been adopted from their native Australia? As they go into their fifth LP, the ever-ready-for-festival-season four-piece seem to know where their heart lies more than ever as they look down the barrel of another string of tour dates booked for Germany. That’s right. It’s 11 shows, and they’re all in Germany. They’re even playing Rockpalast, where I have no doubt their high-energy drive will be captured on a video soon to feature in my YouTube recommends. You keep an eye out for it and I’ll do the same.

Kreuzung is the new album, and it was recorded by former Samsara Blues Experiment member Richard Behrens — also known for Heat and his work with Kadavar — and there’s a video streaming now for the title-track that you can check out at the bottom of this post if you’re up for it.

From the PR wire:

mammoth mammoth

Australian High Voltage Rockers MAMMOTH MAMMOTH Reveal Album Details + Release Brand New Music Video!

Kreuzung coming November 8th on Napalm Records!

Australia’s high voltage outfit, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH, are proud to announce their, highly anticipated 5th studio album titled, Kreuzung, which is set for a release on November 8th with leading rock and metal label Napalm Records.

Recorded and produced by Richard Behrens in the winter of 2018/19 at Big Snuff Studio, Berlin, it is the first album with the new line-up consisting of original members, Mikey Tucker (vocalist) and Frank Trobbiani (drums) and introducing new members, Marco Gennaro (guitarist) and Kris Fiore (bass). The Rock`n`Roll juggernaut seized the opportunity to refine their hard-rock formula since the release of Mount The Mountain two years ago. The result is an electrifying sledgehammer that cements their name MAMMOTH MAMMOTH. Kreuzung’s (German for crossroads) hypnotic title track could crush a beer can with it’s sheer soundwave force, try it out and watch their brand new video for the album title track HERE!

In January 2017, the band found themselves at a crossroads. Already committed to two European tours, including their first visit to Spain and Portugal plus a large number of shows on the summer festival circuit, original guitarist Ben Couzens and bassist Pete Bell were unable to perform those ongoing commitments. In order for MAMMOTH MAMMOTH to honour those shows, Tucker and Trobbiani needed to find replacement musicians to continue to bring the high-energy, beer- soaked, dirty-rock shows to their loyal fan base.

Inspired by new surroundings, Tucker, Trobbiani, Gennaro and Fiore holed themselves up in Rock Haus, Berlin in 2018 and crafted the new album together whilst searching for a new producer. Someone who would both challenge and nurture their new line-up. Tucker says on working with Richard, “I wanted to introduce a new sound, something a little more vintage sounding. I was tired of listening to rock albums that were so overly produced they’d lost all their soul. I stumbled upon Big Snuff Studio and really liked the work they were doing with Kadavar.” Trobbiani adds, “Writing and recording ‘Kreuzung’ in Berlin has been a refreshing change, the collaborative process made the whole experience killer and we can’t wait to play it live to everyone.” Kreuzung, signifies where the band had found themselves in 2017, somewhere between the past, the present and the future. This album proves that the gritty Rock`n`Roll manifesto of MAMMOTH MAMMOTH has truly evolved and they know exactly where they’re heading next.

Kreuzung Tracklisting:
1. I’m Ready
2. Wanted Man
3. Motherf@cker
4. Screamin´
5. Kreuzung
6. Tear it Down
7. Tonight
8. Mad World
9. Let Go
10. Lead Boots
11. God´s Gonna Hate Me

Kreuzung will be available on LP, CD and in Digital formats, the pre-sale has just started at THIS LOCATION!

Known for their intense high-energy and beer-soaked Rock`n`Roll live shows, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH will be hitting the road again this Fall, with a heavy touring schedule to follow:
14.11.2019 DE Köln – MTC
15.11.2019 DE Frankfurt – Das Bett
17.11.2019 DE Weinheim- Café Central
18.11.2019 DE Nürnberg – Hirsch
19.11.2019 DE Bochum – Rockpalast
20.11.2019 DE Hamburg – HeadCrash
21.11.2019 DE Berlin – Musik & Frieden
22.11.2019 DE Erfurt – Museumskeller
23.11.2019 DE Leipzig – Bandhaus
26.11.2019 DE München – Backstage Club
27.11.2019 DE Stuttgart – Goldmarks

MAMMOTH MAMMOTH is:
Mikey Tucker – Vocals
Frank Trobbiani – Drums
Marco Gennaro – Guitar
Kris Sinister – Bass

www.facebook.com/mammothmammothband
www.mammothmammoth.com
www.napalmrecords.com
www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Mammoth Mammoth, “Kreuzung” official video

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Comacozer, Mydriasis: Your Outer Limits Tourism Guide

Posted in Reviews on September 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

comacozer mydriasis

Already in 2019, Sydney’s Comacozer have shared stages across Australia and/or toured with Wo Fat, 1000mods, Naxatras and Oz’s own Mt. Mountain, among others, so while they haven’t necessarily traveled far and wide, their reach is nothing if not considerable. Last year, the instrumentalist psych three-piece of guitarist Rick Burke, bassist Rich Elliott and drummer Andrew Panagopoulos added a fourth in synthesist/keyboardist James “Jabs” Heyligers, and the three-song limit-stretched that is Mydriasis is their first offering since. Their fourth record overall, it follows the vinyl-minded outfit’s impressively expansive 2017 LP, Kalos Eidos Skopeo (review here), 2016’s Astra Planeta (review here) and their 2015 EP compilation, Deloun Sessions, as well as various other odds and ends, and pushes further into cosmic depths, self-recorded with Dan Frizza as a co-mixer and engineer and issued through HeadSpin Records (LP) and Sound Effect Records (CD).

It is comprised of only three tracks and runs 45 minutes, and works in longform explorations of sonic psychedelic ideology. Resonant tones and weighted groove play out in patient fashion across “Mydriasis” (13:11), “Tryptamine” (11:30) and “Kykeneon Journey” (20:51), and Comacozer balance a will to hypnotize their listener against progressions that are immersive but still forward enough to justify active attention. Setting up an overarching flow has never been a problem going back to 2014’s Sessions demo, but the ethereal vibe of Mydriasis is a thing to behold, and it’s easy to argue it stands as Comacozer‘s broadest stretch of space-infused soundscapes to-date.

No doubt the inclusion of Heyligers in the proceedings is a factor in that — how could it not be? — but the change goes beyond simply what’s being played as well and plays a role in the larger conversation happening between BurkeElliott and Panagopoulos as well. It can be heard in the patience with which the songs are brought to bear across Mydriasis, the way Comacozer allows parts to breathe and seemingly find their own way, not necessarily on improvisational terms, but with a natural path that’s never any further out in its wanderings than the band wants it to be. From the initial kick of the drums in the opening title-track, there’s a sense of movement maintained across the album, but a spacious sensibility that’s always been there in Comacozer‘s sound is all the more enhanced by the breadth that Heyligers brings to it.

Rest assured, there’s heft, nod and effects galore, but more than ever, their work seems to be about the journey into and through the fuzz that swallows “Mydriasis” at its midpoint rather than simply being in that place. That is, such outwardly heavy stretches are part of the story rather than the story itself. The guitar rings out with a gloriously triumphant lead over steady-rolling drums and bass and drones, and a molten heavy psych vibe meets with a classic blues jam feel, neither side compromising what it does — or needing to — in order to fit alongside the other. Again, this is as exciting as it is hypnotic, and while it’s easy and enjoyable to lost oneself in the spaces Comacozer craft on their fourth LP, conscious engagement pays further dividends in satisfying slow-motion freakery and dizzying stretch. You dig? You could.

comacozer

It’s “Mydriasis” and “Tryiptamine” on side A, and the opener finishes with a long fade of resonant drone and synth swirl as “Tryptamine” soon answers back with a gradual, sample-topped entry and further use of synth at the outset for a beginning that reminds a bit of earlier YOB in its cosmic spread, but is ultimately directed someplace jammier, charting a gorgeously executed linear path into a payoff that happens late but is brought to bear with marked grace and, again, not at all contrived sounding, despite being a familiar structure at play. Echoplex-style noise backs the increasingly intense drums as bass fills out behind the guitar, and it’s not until shortly before nine minutes in that the full brunt of the tonality is brought to bear.

One has visions of time travel, of things that move fast but on such a scale that they seem to be slow, of selves looking at other selves in real space. I’d say it’s not for the faint of heart were it not so god damned gentle about it, Captain. Comacozer‘s finest hour is and should inherently be “Kykeneon Journey,” with its unmatched sprawl and righteous use of effects, etc., but even the shortest cut on Mydriasis leaves a significant impression as well as an impression of significance. Noise brings that track to its end as well and transitions easily into the start of “Kykeneon Journey.”

There’s a side flip in between, of course, but let’s for a moment pretend we’re not all sitting in smoking jackets listening to vinyl on vintage players and instead listening to music as part of real lives that involve things like headphones and laptops. In that more linear regard, “Kykeneon Journey” is a powerful moment of arrival for Mydriasis as well as for Comacozer more generally. The song seems to work in at least three stages and the last of them, as it would be, is the crescendo of song and album alike. It kicks in at 14:24 and carries through languidly and with airy soloing overtop, growing more intense as it moves past the 19-minute mark and crashing out just before 20:10 to dedicate the remaining 40 seconds or so to a residual wash of noise and drone that finishes on a more gentle fade.

It is encompassing in a way that Comacozer have been moving toward being throughout the last half-decade and, if they were indeed headed in that direction, would be a fair predecessor for a single-song album. That is, if the Sydney foursome continued to expand in ideas and runtimes, I wouldn’t be surprised. As it stands, their first release with this lineup seems to remove conceptual restraints and let them feel their way forward in a manner that’s exciting for the listener as well, no doubt, as it is for them. Wherever they may end up over the longer term of course will remain to be seen, but it’s becoming increasingly clear they’re onto something special.

Comacozer on Thee Facebooks

Comacozer on Instagram

Comacozer on Bandcamp

HeadSpin Records website

HeadSpin Records on Thee Facebooks

Sound Effect Records website

Sound Effect Records on Thee Facebooks

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Review & Track Premiere: Holy Serpent, Endless

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

holy serpent

[Click play above to stream ‘Hourglass’ from Holy Serpent’s Endless. Album is out Oct. 18 on RidingEasy Records. They’re on tour in Europe now (dates here).]

With their third full-length for RidingEasy Records, Melbourne, Australia’s Holy Serpent would seem to realize the vision of heavy they’ve been chasing for the last half-decade. The four-piece bring forth six tracks across the 40 minutes of Endless, which continues a theme of single-word titles from its predecessor, 2016’s Temples (review here) — their 2015 debut was self-titled (review here) — and with them, set out into an expanse of tone, and lush, patiently-delivered roll, shuffle and melody. It’s the latter that proves most crucial, as guitarist Scott Penberthy‘s vocals come across with more distinction and confidence throughout and work to make songs like “Daughter of the Light” all the more consuming. Joined by guitarist Nick Donoughue, bassist Dave Bartlett and drummer Lance LeembrugenPenberthy crafts lush and psychedelic vocals in the tradition of Mars Red Sky even as he and Donoughue dig into riffs that remind alternately of newer Windhand‘s take on grunge — particularly on the penultimate “For No One,” also the longest track at 7:44 — or of a hybridized Uncle Acid buzz and Electric Wizard lumber on opener “Lord Deceptor” and side A finale “Daughter of the Light.”

To this context, however, Holy Serpent add a marked personality of their own, with howling guitars intertwining on “Daughter of the Light” and an uptick of doom metal in second track “Into the Fire,” even as the layers of vocals drawl out over the midsection of the song. The light/dark blend of melody, crunch and sprawl gives Endless a psychedelic earthiness; something that, in the past, the band has referred to as “shroom doom,” but never quite captured as completely as they do here. That’s fitting enough for the narrative of the “third album,” but cliché or no, the work they do in these tracks is a manifestation not to be discounted simply because it makes a convenient story. The simple fact is Holy Serpent have written a collection of songs that brings their approach to a new echelon of presence and execution, and Endless deserves to be in the conversation of the best heavy psych offerings of 2019.

In terms of setting a mood, Holy Serpent do so with a natural flair, their riffs providing a foundation from which the song is expanded, “Hourglass” adding either keys or effects or else I’m just hearing things during the verse for further melodic flourish. This leads the way into a three-song side B that answers back the complete control over the proceedings the foursome display through the first three tracks: “Lord Deceptor,” “Into the Fire” and “Daughter of the Light.” The opener is especially important for the lead-in it gives not just with its own post-Witchcult Today riff, but with how it uses that in order to make its own statement about who Holy Serpent are and have become. Its depth of mix is essential, and it unfolds in a way that’s either hypnotic or enthralling depending on how one wants to listen to it, and easy as it is to get lost in the spirit of the piece by the end of its 6:47, which meets head on with the snap-back-to-consciousness of the more uptempo intro to “Into the Fire.”

holy serpent endless

Rest assured there’s plenty of plod and tonal heft there as well, but a more swinging take after the opener does well in furthering the scope of Endless overall. Again, it’s not that Holy Serpent are the first ones ever to establish this kind of dynamic, but it’s how they do it and the fluidity with which they conjure in the process that makes Endless such an engaging listen. “Daughter of the Light” seems to meet “Into the Fire” and “Lord Deceptor” halfway and so is a fitting summary of where the band have taken the album to this point, but it’s still not the final word as regards the story of the growth that the band have undertaken over the last five years, as “Hourglass,” “For No One” and the closer “Marijuana Trench” (as opposed, one assumes, to Marianas) are still to come, each one bringing something to add to the strength of Endless as a whole.

The midtempo push of “Hourglass” is met by a deceptively catchy lyric and guitar line, and the slower-faster interplay between “Lord Deceptor” and “Into the Fire” that started the record seems to meet its mirror image in the faster-slower transition from “Hourglass” into “For No One.” A plodding, crashing, deep-running vision of stoned grunge is met by vocal harmonies and creative layering in the verse hook, and while Windhand has already been noted as a touchstone for the style, Holy Serpent effectively make the case that there’s more in weaving heavy psych fuzz and flannel-and-Doc-Martins stylizations to be explored. I don’t know what it might lead to, but “For No One” sounds like a definitive forward step, and that’s always welcome as far as I’m concerned. A noisy finish seems like it might be the apex of Endless as “Marijuana Trench”‘s standout goofball title makes it seem somewhat of a drawdown from the prior cuts and its acoustic-based intro is a departure as well, but the wash into which the band launch as the song plays out is not at all to be discounted because they made a weed pun, and if anything, it builds on the considerable accomplishments before it in crafting a humming universe of noise.

That is the course of Endless, and perhaps some of the reason it feels like such a moment of arrival for Holy Serpent is because the songs do so well in setting their atmosphere and dwelling in it. Australia has a well-populated underground scene, Melbourne specifically so, but I have a hard time thinking of another band from the region who’ve been able to take influences from the sphere of modern heavy and turn them into something so complete and individualized. I don’t necessarily think Holy Serpent are done refining their processes — which is only good news, frankly — but it does seem like they’ve come to a new understanding of who they are and who they want to be as a band, and that has resulted in an LP that is refreshing and engrossing at the same time. Mine it for sonic details or put it on and let your brain melt; there’s really no wrong way to go.

Holy Serpent on Thee Facebooks

Holy Serpent on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website

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Drug Cult Begin Recording New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I know you caught wind of the grime-caked psych riff blowout that was the first, self-titled Drug Cult record (review here), so you don’t need me to wax poetic about the copious aural filth in which it wallowed. And yet, here I am with the video for “Reptile Hypnosis” playing as I write and the lumbering progression, echoing vocal spaciousness and general atmosphere of ceremony are infectious and affecting in kind. And the noise. Goodness gracious what a racket. I can’t wait to hear more.

Yes, yes, yes. The Australian four-piece have entered the studio to record their second album. They were there over this past weekend, so, done maybe? I don’t know, but the sooner and the nastier the better, as far as I’m concerned. They’ll once again release through Ritual Productions — because every once in a while, the universe dares to make mathematical sense in terms of lining up A, B and C — and I’d assume it’ll be out sometime early in 2020, but there’s no date given, so if they wanted to sneak it across in late November or December, I wouldn’t complain. I’ll take it whenever.

Here’s what the label had to say, as per the PR wire:

drug cult (Photo by James Adams)

DRUG CULT ENTER THE STUDIO TO RECORD THEIR SECOND RITE ON THE RITUAL PRODUCTIONS IMPRINT

Cosmic light calls us back into the vortex.

Drug Cult step out of the shadows, alchemy attuned and are now ready to manifest their elemental energies once again.

August 23rd, the band entered Australia’s illustrious 70s recording studio, Music Farm Studios, in the Byron Bay Hinterland to record the follow-up to their self-titled debut rite, released during Summer Solstice 2018 via Ritual Productions. George Carpenter will continue to be at the recording and mixing helm of such surreptitious, spirited sonics.

Keep your third eye open for the serpent is stirring and a shift in your consciousness is on the horizon.

http://www.drugcult.com/
http://facebook.com/drugcult
http://instagram.com/drug_cult
http://thedrugcult.tumblr.com/
http://www.ritualproductions.net
https://ritualproductions.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/ritualproductionsuk
www.instagram.com/ritualproductions

Drug Cult, “Reptile Hypnosis” official video

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Khan Sign to Salty Dog Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Melbourne heavy psych rockers Khan have signed to Salty Dog Records. Neat, right? That’s a cool pickup that puts the Aussie trio alongside Mother TonguesKing Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and Pseudo Mind Hive, among others, as labelmates. Fine company to keep. What’s not included in the announcement below, however, is exactly what the deal is for.

Khan released their full-length debut, Vale, last year, digitally and on CD. Could well be that Salty Dog has picked it up for a vinyl release — which would be well enough earned by the album’s depth of tone and spacious affect — or it could just be that Salty Dog will stand behind their next outing whenever that happens to manifest itself, presumably from out of the great cosmic ether that produced “Separation” from the first record. Or even better, maybe it’s both.

Both Khan and Salty Dog posted about the pickup on the social medias, as one would expect, but neither mentioned exactly what the collaboration between them will be. Keeping it on the q.t. for now, I guess. Fair enough.

I didn’t catch onto Vale before now, so I’m kind of considering this my excuse to dive into the album, which you’ll find streaming below. I think you can hear pretty quickly why it’d be a good fit for a vinyl release, despite potential runtime issues.

Dig:

khan

KHAN – NEW ARTIST ANNOUNCEMENT

Please join us in welcoming Khan to the Salty Dog Records family.

Khan are a Melbourne based heavy psych/prog/rock trio that meld hazy psychedelia and heavy stoner riffs with progressive rhythms and song structures. The songs are lyrically evocative, filled with heavy psychedelic sounds and incredible bass tones which lead you through quite the journey.

Khan says, “We made a new friend!! His name is Salty and he’s a fuckin dog! (Salty Dog Records). We’re super stoked to be a part of the family and to be working with such a legend.”

Stay tuned for further updates.

Khan are:
Josh Bills – Vocals/Guitar
Mitchell Kerr – Bass/Backing vocals
Beau Heffernan – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/khanbandofficial/
https://khanofficial.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSaltyDogRecords
https://www.instagram.com/saltydog.records/
https://salty-dog.bandcamp.com/

Khan, Vale (2018)

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Buried Feather Post “Nuclear Suzi” Video; Cloudberry Dreamshake out Next Month

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

buried feather

Garage buzz, psychedelic gaze and all the drift you could ask for — plus a hook. I guess by now Australia is starting to come out of its winter just a little bit — such as seasons still exist anywhere — but to me, Buried Feather‘s new single, “Nuclear Suzi,” sounds right on the money for the end of summer. The track communes with a 1965-’66 psychaesthetic, but treats the style as though it emerged fully formed from out of a cocoon, rather than grew into its enduringly lysergic self. Tones are sopping wet and not exactly retro, but especially in the context of the video, there’s a classic-promo-clip vibe that pervades visually and enhances that feel in the music. It’s almost like the senses are intertwined or something. Go melt your brain.

“Nuclear Suzi” is the second track to be offered up from Buried Feather‘s forthcoming long-player, Cloudberry Dreamshake — a garage rock title if e’er I heard one — and it follows the prior-posted “Lightning Hands,” which I’ve included at the bottom of the post (or near it, anyhow) just in case you need to get caught up. That song has a little bit more of a push, which perhaps accounts for the “shake,” but there’s plenty of “dream” in it as well, and I don’t know what a cloudberry tastes like, but screw it; did I mention go melt your brain?

Buried Feather seem to have pared down to a trio since they put out Mind of the Swarm in 2017, but after touring Europe last year, they don’t seem to be lacking for any kind of sonic expansion. This is a cool one, and the video rules as well, so I’ll keep it simple in the hope that you actually watch the damn thing if you’re still reading this. If not, well, go melt your brain, I guess.

Enjoy:

Buried Feather, “Nuclear Suzi” official video

We’re pleased to share the new single and music video “Nuclear Suzi” from Melbourne psych-rockers Buried Feather.

The song is taken from the forthcoming album Cloudberry Dreamshake, out September 12th on Cobra Snake Necktie Records. The music video was directed by Chris Matthews (Tropical Fuck Storm, Batpiss, Cable Ties).

Directed by: Chris Matthews

Buried Feather, “Lightning Hands”

Buried Feather on Thee Facebooks

Buried Feather on Bandcamp

Cobra Snake Necktie Records website

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Sleeping Giant, Sleeping Giant: Awake in Visions

Posted in Reviews on August 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sleeping giant sleeping giant

Sometimes a band comes right out of their second rehearsal with a batch of songs, ready to hit the studio and make a record — or at least that’s how it feels. That’s not the case with Sleeping Giant, who emerge from Australia’s crowded heavy underground some six years after forming as Lowpoint. Their self-titled and self-released-but-probably-not-for-long debut album is the result of the subsequent half-decade of writing and woodshedding, and comprises a clean eight tracks and 42 minutes of solid-foundation fuzz rock, turning influences from earlier Queens of the Stone Age, Lowrider, Kyuss and more rolling fare into a collection of original songs that bask in their fuzzy familiarity but still feel geared toward their own approach, perhaps because they’ve been so worked on. Even the recording process for Sleeping Giant‘s Sleeping Giant took a year, which sounds excruciating, but the resultant long-player finds guitarist/vocalist Steven Hammer, bassist James Wright and drummer Pali Emond-Glenn sounding well aware of who they are as a band and able to manifest that in their material without losing their first-album edge.

Even without knowing it was so long in coming together, the songs don’t feel off-the-cuff. They feel worked on, thought out, considered, and that’s by no means a detriment to their execution, which remains plenty energetic. That’s an achievement unto itself, but it’s just one of the ways Sleeping Giant ultimately impress throughout, as they move through a tracklisting that’s no less impeccably arranged than the songs themselves in terms of bringing out the different sides of the band’s approach, growing richer as it goes from side A to B in what’s clearly a vinyl-intended progression — the cover by Emond-Glenn would seem geared toward that as well — that nonetheless flows smoothly throughout, making its way toward the three-part finale, “Visions I,” “Visions II” and “Visions III,” which together introduce new elements of atmosphere and aggression to the proceedings, taking the straightforward core of heavy rock from which Sleeping Giant work and using it as a basis for exploring different ideas. However long it took to make it happen, there’s little more one could reasonably ask of a debut album.

Sleeping Giant opens, suitably enough, with “Sleep,” which begins an initial salvo that will continue basically through the first four songs to one degree or another. A mid-paced groove takes hold with effective, laid back vocal melodies overtop from Hammer and a fuzz that’s both warm-sounding and right on in terms of capturing a desert-style feel while still giving Wright‘s bass room to make an impression. One is reminded early on of Sungrazer to a degree, but Sleeping Giant are on a less jammy trip overall, and the roll of “Sleep” is offset by the sheer thrust of “Temptress,” which pushes the vocals forward in the mix and offers as support for them a fervent push and tempo kick, the trade from one to the next crucial to understanding how side A works, since the subsequent “Empire” and “Serpent” will essentially make the same moves, though of course there are changes in the approach to be considered.

sleeping giant

“Temptress” resolves itself in a nod and final shove before dropping out to a series of curses — somebody’s mad about something, comically — and leading to the six-and-a-half-minute “Empire,” which is a highlight for its blend of bounce and roll, the chorus reminding of some lost late-’90s/early-’00s gem from somewhere in Northern Europe, even as the tones and production by Erek Ladd and Jarod Meadows remains modern. Guitar drops out in the second half of “Empire” for a moment to let the bass introduce the apex nodder riff and the slow-motion swagger that ensues is more than welcome upon the return of the full tonal breadth. In comparison, “Serpent” — also the most direct source of the Lowrider comparison above — is arguably the highest-energy of the bunch, with a careening Homme-style central riff and sense of movement brought out all the more by the shift into a slower section at the midpoint, only to return to a speedier finish. Again, not by any means revolutionary, but effective in conveying Sleeping Giant‘s priorities, which are clearly geared toward songcraft.

The basic structure of side B changes, thanks largely to the aforementioned “Visions” trilogy. “Gypsy” unfolds very much in the character of side A’s tradeoffs between longer and shorter songs, finding Hammer‘s malleable vocals in a lower register over a slower riff before opening up for the chorus, trading tempos much in the spirit of “Serpent,” only reversed. In the overarching progression of the record, “Gypsy” is inherently outshined by “Visions,” but its being there makes sense and the work it does to tie the two halves of the album together isn’t to be forgotten. Still, it’s a significant turn when the instrumental “Visions I” begins its subdued unfolding, reminding of progressive-era Truckfighters‘ less jumpy moments, with a linear build toward the heavier guitar’s full brunt.

They get there before the track’s three minutes are up, and turn directly into “Visions II,” which unfolds a King Buffalo-y psychedelic blues vibe until a more severe riff leads at 2:42 to harsher growling in post-hardcore fashion — actually, the voice reminds me of Elegy-era Amorphis, but I’m willing to chalk that up to sonic coincidence — gradually working in clean and harsh layers effectively to carry Sleeping Giant to a genuinely unexpected crescendo, leaving “Visions III” to pick up immediately from there, which it does by shifting into another engaging nod-roll as a bed for a return of sung vocals and the gradual build of a melodic wash of tone, which acts not so much as an epilogue to the prior part’s payoff, but as a different stage of the same idea — in that way, “Visions” is all the more well executed as a whole. And it’s in that last three-parter that Sleeping Giant most show the potential in their sound for bringing a range of styles together under a fuzzy banner and crafting an identity of their own from them. After six years and a name change leading to this debut, I won’t speculate on where they might go from here or when they might get there, but the obvious care they put into the writing and honing and construction of this material shows through one way or another in each track, which is no less than they deserve.

Sleeping Giant, Sleeping Giant (2019)

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