Grim Reefer Fest 2020 Announces Date; Lineup Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

grim reefer fest logo

It should probably (and hopefully) go without saying that the bigger story here will be when Grim Reefer Fest 2020 actually announces its lineup, but that’s not until Nov. 21 and maybe you, like me, enjoy making plans in advance. Though it’s been traditionally held on April 20 going back to its time operating under the banner of Stoned to Death, next year will find Grim Reefer taking place on April 18, once again at The Ottobar. It’s okay, you’re allowed to get high on two days in April, though I say that with zero knowledge of where legalization stands in Maryland.

Just checked: medical, yes, less than 10 grams decrim. There you go. Homework done for you.

So yeah, it’s April 18. Fine. Who do you think will play? Well, Haze Mage run the thing, and they seem to have played all the years, so it’s their party, I wouldn’t be surprised to find them taking part. And Heavy Temple have done at least the last two editions of the gathering as well, so maybe a return and maybe not from the Philly trio, but rest assured, no matter who’s ultimately involved, there will be riffs, there will be volume, and if you, I don’t know, trip and fall maybe?, there will be blood.

Oh, there’ll be a food truck! That’s fun too.

Date reveal was quick and to the point:

grim reefer fest 2020 dates

Are you ready for next year’s fest? Because we sure are! Join us for the 4th annual Grim Reefer Fest on 4.18.20 at the Ottobar ! The full lineup will be announced next month on 11.21.19!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1016565088689615/

Are you ready to get grim? Because we sure are! Join us for the 4th annual Grim Reefer Fest on 4.18.20 at the legendary Ottobar in Baltimore, MD!

A full day of incredible live music, a food truck, and heavy riffs to keep you in the right head space!

The full lineup will be announced next month on 11.21.19! Help spread the word and get hyped!

Logo design by Ghostbat

https://www.facebook.com/events/1016565088689615/
https://www.facebook.com/GrimReeferFest/
https://www.instagram.com/GrimReeferFest/
http://www.grimreeferfest.com/
http://www.theottobar.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hazemage/

Heavy Temple, Live at Grim Reefer Fest 2019

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Yatra Begin Next Round of US Tour Dates on Halloween

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

yatra (photo by JJ Koczan)

At this point, Baltimorean extreme-ish sludge three-piece Yatra tour with a frequency that makes one only hope they really get along as human beings in addition to, you know, being a good band. Otherwise, that’s an awful lot of time to spend together. With a new album in some stage of completion — mixed? mastered? in the can? at the press? promo just came down the PR wire? wouldn’t that be a fun coincidence of timing if it were true (it isn’t)? — and recently signed to STB Records for its release, the trio just wrapped a European stint that included stops at Desertfest Belgium, Into the Void, and Høstsabbat (review here), where both they and their tourmates in Polish prog-heavies Sunnata properly killed.

Not a group to rest on laurels or rest, period, Yatra will embark next week on a new round of touring, this time playing dates with — among others — StonecuttersDestroyer of Light and Black Tusk as they cut a pretty broad swath across the Midwest and Southeast. The tour isn’t actually all that long by the standard of some they’ve done, but looks like a pretty fair bit of geographical ground to cover in less than two weeks of every-night shows — a Nov. 4 TBD notwithstanding; someone better call Vegas Rock Revolution and get them on the case — while still saying South-centric. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were back out in January either, or if they snuck in a couple shows around the coming holidays. Because that’s how they do.

Hoping for actual release news soon about their record, but till then, here are the dates:

yatra tour

Alright ‘merica we are back inside you!…..

This lil U.S. tour starts next week! Playing with some rad bands in awesome places! Stoked to get back in the van again!

YATRA needs to fill one date on this tour! November 4th! Somewhere between SLC and Pheonix (thinking Vegas or Flagstaff)! Any booking help or info on shows we could hop on would be rad! Thanx!

Check it…..!

YATRA live:
10/31 Louisville KY Magbar
11/01 Witchita KS Barleycorns
11/02 Denver CO 7th Circle
11/03 Salt Lake City UH Urban Lounge
11/04 TBD
11/05 Phoenix AZ Yucca Tap Room
11/06 Taos NM Taos Mesa Brewery
11/07 Austin TX The Lost Well
11/08 Memphis TN B-Sides
11/09 Greenville SC Gottrocks
11/10 Baltimore MD Metro Gallery

YATRA:
Dana Helmuth – guitars/vocals
Maria Geisbert – bass
Mike Tull – drums

http://www.facebook.com/yatradoom
https://www.instagram.com/yatra_doom
https://yatradoom.bandcamp.com
http://stbrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/STB-Records-471228012921184/

Yatra, Death Ritual (2019)

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Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, War Cloud, Here Lies Man, Book of Wyrms, Möyhy-Veikot, Darsombra, Set Fire, Jesus the Snake, Föllakzoid, Dresden Wolves

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Had to take a second this morning to get my email back under 100 unread. It currently stands at 95. There’s just something about being in triple digits that I can’t stand. Press releases and stuff I can usually file right away since not everything’s relevant to the site, etc., but that’s all stuff that either wants follow-up or could be a factor here if there was time. I do my best to try to keep up. And I fail, consistently.

The tradeoff, of course, is I spend that time writing reviews and other stuff for the site. Today’s hump day when we pass the halfway mark of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, and we’re doing it in absolutely all-over-the-place style, so all the better. Some pretty familiar names today, but some that might not be as well, so whatever your poison, I hope you enjoy the picking.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Russian Circles, Blood Year

russian circles blood year

There’s simply no denying the force behind the depths and swell of a song like “Kohokia” on Russian Circles‘ latest offering, Blood Year (Sargent House), and though one knows what to expect to some degree from the Chicago heavy post-rockers at this point in their career, they seem to be doing all they can to deliver their instrumental progressions with energy to match the breadth of the spaces and the heft they conjure. Like 2016’s Guidance (review here), the seven-track/39-minute Blood Year — was recorded with Kurt Ballou, whom the trio imported to their hometown to work at Electrical Audio (aka Steve Albini‘s stomping ground) instead of traveling to Massachusetts to track at Ballou‘s Godcity. If it was the long-famed drum sound of Electrical Audio that they wanted and the live feel that so many of the recordings done there have, they got both, so mark it a success and another notch in the belt of one of the heavy underground’s most immersive and evocative outfits. Their building and releasing of tension is second to none and moves into the spiritual by the time they even get to side B, let alone through it.

Russian Circles on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

War Cloud, State of Shock

war cloud state of shock

Oh, the riffs you’ll gallop. Oakland, California’s War Cloud skirt the line between classic thrash and heavy rock and roll on their second album for Ripple Music, State of Shock, and from the sound of things, they have a good time doing it. The record’s not much over a half-hour long, which is as it should be for this kind of party, and they toy a bit with the balance between their two sides on a rocker like “Do Anything” or the subsequent “Means of Your Defeat” on side B, but the main crux of State of Shock and certainly the impression it makes off the bat with “Striker” and “White Lightning” up front ahead of the six-minute that-moment-when-ThinLizzy-turned-into-IronMaiden “Dangerous Game” is one of homage to the metal of yore, and in following-up the band’s 2017 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a showcase of energy and craft alike as two guitars shred, chug, groove and charge through the material. If they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d say something about getting caught in a mosh. As it stands, I’ll go with urging you to jump in the fire instead. Horns up, either way.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon

here lies man no ground to walk upon

They should’ve just called it an album. Yeah, it would be short at 26 or so minutes, but it’s got everything you’d want from a full-length, and if they’d put a four-minute jam or something on it, they’d have been there anyhow. In any case, Los Angeles’ Afrobeat-infused heavy psych rockers Here Lies Man present seven tracks of dug-in glory with No Ground to Walk Upon (on RidingEasy), continuing to build on the potential shown across their first two LPs, 2017’s self-titled debut (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), even as they swagger their way through a groove like “Long Legs (Look Away)” and show their continued forward potential. They continue to be a special band — the kind of band who doesn’t just come along every day and who shouldn’t be overlooked during their time, because maybe they’ll be around 30 years and maybe they won’t, but what they’re doing now is bringing something wholly individual to a heavy context. They’ve already proven influential to some degree, but listening to No Ground to Walk Upon cuts like the dream-keyed “Iron Rattles” and the opening strut-into-drone of “Clad in Silver,” one wonders if they wouldn’t be more so if people weren’t too afraid to try to pull this thing off. Hard to argue with that, since more likely than not most couldn’t.

Here Lies Man on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Remythologizer

Book of Wyrms Remythologizer

I won’t take anything away from the eight-minute “Blacklight Warpriest” earlier in the offering, but the highlight of Book of Wyrms‘ second album, Remythologizer (on Twin Earth & Stoner Witch Records) has to be the closing “Dust Toad,” which at 9:25 is the longest track and the slowest crawl included. Led into by the synth-infused “Curse of the Werecop,” it takes the crunch that showed itself through opener “Autumnal Snow” and, later, the melody and swing of “Undead Pegasus” — as seen on the cover art — and brings them together in order to perfectly summarize the doom rocking ethic the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece are working from. Tonally righteous and more solvent in their songwriting than they were on their 2017 debut, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), the band sound assured as they move in “Spirit Drifter” from a standout keyboard line to a likewise standout guitar solo, giving a feeling of progressive nuance that’s continuing to take hold in their sound, balanced by the underlying naturalism of their approach. That dynamic continues to duke it out on Remythologizer, much to the benefit of anyone who takes the record on.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Möyhy-Veikot, Huume Jet Set Life

moyhy-veikot huume jet set life

Too weird for planet earth and, well, probably too weird for anywhere else too, Helsinki psych-space-kraut-whathaveyou experimentalists issue their third tape in the form of Huume Jet Set Life and whether it’s the cosmo-jamming on “MITÄ ON TULLUT VEDETTYÄ?” or the who-the-hell-knows-what-ism of “MEDIA-AJOJAHTI 2000,” the band at no point fail to make an impression of being out there in the far gone far out there reaches of the far out there. Talkin’ freaked out next level total, like the cassette just fell into the atmosphere to represent some other planet’s culture where things are both dangerous and interesting and you never really know if you’re going to get laid or eaten or both. Still, they may be doing math of the likes not yet conceived by humanity, but Möyhy-Veikot go about it in suitably friendly if totally over-the-top fashion, and it’s fun to play along while also being completely overwhelmed at the various pushes and pulls happening all at once, the media samples and the Windows 95 compatibility of it all. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for disco.

Möyhy-Veikot on Thee Facebooks

Möyhy-Veikot on Bandcamp

 

Darsombra, Transmission

Darsombra Transmission

It’s just lovely. Really. In some ways it feels like the 41:20 single-track full-length Transmission — self-released, no less — is what Baltimore ambient exploratory two-piece Darsombra have been building toward all along, but I think the truth is they probably could’ve done this at any time if they’d chosen to do so. Still, the fluidity of “Transmission” itself is something special, with its cascades of manipulated voice, riffs that swell and recede, loops, synth and somehow-manifested light that are as much immersion for the spirit as the eardrum. One doesn’t want to dive too deep into hyperbole and oversell it to the point of dulling the listener’s own impression, but Transmission is the kind of record that even those who profess to never “get” drone or noise offerings can engage with. Part of that is owed to Brian Daniloski‘s guitar, which provides landmarks along the path of swirl conjured by his own effects and the synth from Ann Everton (both add vocals where applicable; don’t look for lyrics or verses) that allow those who’d take it on to do so more easily. But the real joy in Transmission is letting go and allowing the piece to carry you along its progressive course, genuine in its reaching for the unknown. Plus there’s a gong, and that’s always fun too. Go with it.

Darsombra on Thee Facebooks

Darsombra on Bandcamp

 

Set Fire, Traya

set fire traya

Traya is the third three-song full-length from Boston’s Set Fire, and it would seem that, and in addition to marking the last recording to feature drummer Rob Davol, who’s since been replaced by Josh Cronin, it would seem to show the three-piece nailing their sound of classic-tinged duet-fronted heavy rock and roll. With two powerhouse vocalists on board in guitarist Jim Healey (We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, etc.) and keyboardist Jess Collins (ex-Mellow Bravo), they work in varying arrangements across a meager 12-minute run that feels short mostly because it is short. Too short. “Any Place Left” puts Collins in the foreground, while “Sacred Song” is more Healey‘s, and unsurprisingly to anyone who’s experienced their past work either together or separate, they’re more than able to carry the material — only more so with the other party backing. “Waves” brings them together around theatrical layers of piano and keyboard and guitar, and that they manage to hold it steady at all, let alone take flight as it does, speaks to how ready they are to embark on a longer offering. Put out an album, already, would ya?

Set Fire on Thee Facebooks

Set Fire on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Black Acid, Pink Rain

Jesus the Snake Black Acid Pink Rain

For those feeling adventurous, Portugal’s Jesus the Snake follow-up their 2017 self-titled EP (review here) with the unmitigated warmth of Black Acid, Pink Rain, their live-recorded full-length debut. And for the sort of heavy psych-jazz-prog meandering, one would almost expect the organ-laced instrumentalist four-piece to track the record as they perform it, if not front-to-back then certainly one song at a time across multiple takes. Not one piece of the five total on the 49-minute offering is under eight minutes long, and sandwiched between opener “Karma” (10:28) and the closing title-track (10:55) are three cuts circa nine that prove no less hypnotic. The beginning of “Floyds I” is so fluid with the interplay of organ and guitar that one almost expects a gentle Portuguese spoken word verse to start, but of course one never does. Instead, Jesus the Snake complement mindful drift with flashes of more weighted or active fare, all the while holding to a central vibe that is peaceful even as “Duna” finds its chill before the halfway point, with no loss of spirit in the process.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

Föllakzoid, I

follakzoid i

As with any kind of sonic minimalism or release based around trance induction — see Darsombra above — there’s a certain amount of buy-in that needs to happen on the listener’s side. Accordingly, those going into the fourth LP from Chilean duo Föllakzoid, titled I and issued through Sacred Bones Records as a double-vinyl, should be aware that it’s requires that kind of interaction from one side to the other. It’s not especially loud or abrasive, or even demanding in terms of the basic sonics of the thing, but as “I” becomes “II” becomes “III” becomes “IIII” and the songs such as they are alternate between 17- and 13-minute runtimes and the blend of effects and electro beats tips to one side or the other — “II” with a fervent ‘ump-tis’ in its early going while “III” brings a more Vangelis-style cinematic wash — of course there’s an ask in terms of indulgence happening on the part of the two-piece to their audience. Whether an individual is willing to make that jump is obviously going to be up to their headspace and where they’re at, but Föllakzoid‘s work here is more than worth the investment, even for those less familiar with their methods.

Föllakzoid on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Dresden Wolves, Hiedra – Sencillo

dresden wolves Hiedra Sencillo

The sub-three-minute “Hiedra – Sencillo” is the latest in an ongoing series of digital offerings from Mexico City’s Dresden Wolves, and though the two-piece band bill themselves as post-punk and they may actually have a history in playing punk rock — stranger things have happened, certainly — the song finds them working in a taut heavy rock context, brash in delivery but not overly so as to lose the overarching swagger they seem intent on conveying. Particularly as it follows behind two EPs and a swath of other single tracks, and is offered name-your-price through their Bandcamp, “Hiedra – Sencillo” feels like its most nefarious aim is to hook anyone who’d click play on first listen and try and keep them intrigued for next time out. Fair enough. I won’t profess to know what Dresden Wolves‘ plans are, but they’ve got songwriting in their pocket and the production on “Hiedra – Sencillo” is crisp and clear enough to convey the heft of the guitar but not so much so as to dull its rawer aspects. They’ve got the balance ready to go, whatever they might choose to do with it from here.

Dresden Wolves on Thee Facebooks

Dresden Wolves on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Monkey3, Asthma Castle, The Giraffes, Bask, Faerie Ring, Desert Sands, Cavalcade, Restless Spirit, Children of the Sün, Void King

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Call two friends and tell them to tell two friends to tell two friends, because the Quarterly Review has returned. This time around, it’s 50 records front to back for Fall 2019 and there are some big names and some smaller names and a whole lot of in between which is just how I like it. Between today and Friday, each day 10 album reviews will be posted in a single batch like this one, and although by Wednesday this always means I’m totally out of my mind, it’s always, always, always worth it to be able to write about so much cool stuff. So sit tight, because there’s a lot to get through and, as ever, time’s at a premium.

Thanks in advance for keeping up, and I hope you find something you dig.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Monkey3, Sphere

monkey3 sphere

It’s a full-on Keanu Reeves “whoa” when opening track “Spirals” kicks in on Monkey3‘s sixth album, Sphere (released by Napalm), and that’s by no means the last one on the cinematic six-tracker. The long-running Swiss mostly-instrumentalists have been consistently, persistently underappreciated throughout their career, but whether it’s the aural scope of guitar and keys in “Axis” or the swaps between intensity and sprawl in 14-minute closer “Ellipsis,” their latest work is consuming in its sense of triumph. Even the four-minute “Ida,” which seems at first like it’s barely going to be more than an interlude, finds a thread of majestic cosmic groove and rides it for the duration, while the proggy immersion of “Prism” and the harder drive of “Mass” — not to mention that shredding solo — make the middle of the record anything but a post-hypnosis dip. I won’t pretend to know if Sphere is the record that finally gets the Lausanne four-piece the respect they’ve already well deserved, but if it was, one could only say it was for good reason. Blends of heft, progressive craft, and breadth are rarely so resonant.

Monkey3 on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore

Asthma Castle Mount Crushmore

When you call your record Mount Crushmore, you need to bring it, and much to their credit, Baltimorean sludge-rocking five-piece Asthma Castle do precisely that on their debut full-length. Issued through Hellmistress Records, the 37-minute/six-track outing is a wordplay-laced pummeler that shows as much persona in its riffing and massive groove as it does in titles like “The Incline of Western Civilization” and “The Book of Duderonomy.” Trades between early-Mastodonic twists and lumbering sludge crash add a frenetic and unpredictable feel to pieces like the title-track, while “Methlehem” trades its plod for dual-guitar antics punctuated by metallic double-kick, all the while the vocals trade back and forth between growls, shouts, cleaner shouts, the odd scream, etc., because basically if you can keep up with it, Asthma Castle wouldn’t be doing their job. One shudders to think of the amount of Natty Bo consumed during its making, but Mount Crushmore is a wild and cacophonous enough time to live up to the outright righteousness of its title. If I graded reviews, it would get a “Fuckin’ A+,” with emphasis on “fuckin’ a.”

Asthma Castle on Thee Facebooks

Hellmistress Records website

 

The Giraffes, Flower of the Cosmos

the giraffes flower of the cosmos

Some day the world will wake up and realize the rock and roll powerhouse it had in Brooklyn’s The Giraffes, but by then it’ll be too late. The apocalypse will have happened long ago, and it’ll be Burgess Meredith putting on a vinyl of Flower of the Cosmos in the New York Library as “FAKS” echoes out through the stacks of now-meaningless tomes and the dust of nuclear winter falls like snow outside the windows. The band’s tumultuous history is mirrored in the energy of their output, and yet to hear the melody and gentle fuzz at the outset of “Golden Door,” there’s something soothing about their work as well that, admittedly, “Raising Kids in the End Times” is gleeful in undercutting. Cute as well they pair that one with “Dorito Dreams” on this, their seventh record in a 20-plus-year run, which has now seen them find their footing, lose it, find it again, and in this record and songs like the masterfully frenetic “Fill up Glass” and the air-tight-tense “Like Hate” and “Romance,” weave a document every bit worthy of Mr. Meredith’s attention as he mourns for the potential of this godforsaken wasteland. Oh, what we’ll leave behind. Such pretty ruins.

The Giraffes website

The Giraffes on Bandcamp

 

Bask, III

bask iii

In the fine tradition of heavy rock as grown-up punk, North Carolina’s Bask bring progressive edge and rolling-Appalachian atmospherics to the underlying energy of III, their aptly-titled and Season of Mist-issued third album. Their foot is in any number of styles, from Baroness-style noodling to a hard twang that shows up throughout and features prominently on the penultimate “Noble Daughters II – The Bow,” but the great triumph of III, and really the reason it works at all, is because the band find cohesion in this swath of influences. They’re a band who obviously put thought into what they do, making it all the more appropriate to think of them as prog, but as “Three White Feet” and “New Dominion” show at the outset, they don’t serve any aesthetic master so much as the song itself. Closing with banjo and harmonies and a build of crash cymbal on “Maiden Mother Crone” nails the point home in a not-understated way, but at no point does III come across as hyper-theatrical so as to undercut the value of what Bask are doing. It’s a more patient album than it at first seems, but given time to breathe, III indeed comes to life.

Bask on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist on Bandcamp

 

Faerie Ring, The Clearing

fairie ring the clearing

Listening to the weighty rollout of opening cut “Bite the Ash” on Faerie Ring‘s debut album, The Clearing (on King Volume Records), one is reminded of the energy that once-upon-a-time came out of Houston’s Venomous Maximus. There’s a similar feeling of dark energy surging through the riffs and echoing vocals, but the Evansville, Indiana, four-piece wind up on a different trip. Their take is more distinctly Sabbathian on “Lost Wind” and even the swinging “Heavy Trip” lives up to its stated purpose ahead of the chugging largesse of finisher “Heaven’s End.” They find brash ground on “The Ring” and the slower march of “Somnium,” but there’s metal beneath the lumbering and it comes out on “Miracle” in a way that the drums late in “Lost Wind” seem to hint toward on subsequent listens. It’s a mix of riff-led elements that should be readily familiar to many listeners, but the sheer size and clarity of presentation Faerie Ring make throughout The Clearing makes me think they’ll look to distinguish themselves going forward, and so their first record holds all the more potential for that.

Faerie Ring on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records on Bandcamp

 

Desert Sands, The Ascent EP

Desert Sands The Ascent

Begun as the solo-project of London-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Mark Walker and presently a trio including Louis Kinder and Jonathan Walker as well, Desert Sands make their recorded debut through A Records with the three-song/half-hour The Ascent EP, a work of psychedelic existentialism that conveys its cosmic questioning even before the lyrics start, with an opening riff and rhythmic lurch to “Are You There” that seems to throw its central query into a void that either will or won’t answer. Does it? The hell should I know, but The Ascent proves duly transcendent in its pulsations as “Head Towards the Light” and 11:45 closer “Yahweh” — yeah, I guess we get there — bring drifting, languid enlightenment to these spiritual musings. The finale is, of course, a jam in excelsis and if drop-acid-find-god is the narrative we’re working with, then Desert Sands are off to a hell of a start as a project. Regardless of how one might ultimately come down (and it is, by my estimation at least, a comedown) on the question of human spirituality, there’s no denying the power and ethereal force of the kind of creativity on display in The Ascent. One will wait impatiently to see what comes next.

Desert Sands on Thee Facebooks

A Recordings on Thee Facebooks

 

Cavalcade, Sonic Euthanasia

Cavalcade Sonic Euthanasia

Say what you want about New Orleans or North Carolina or wherever the hell else, Midwestern sludge is another level of filth. To wit, the Carcass-style vocals that slice through the raw, dense riffing on “Aspirate on Aspirations” feel like the very embodiment of modern disillusion, and there’s some flourish of melodic guitar pluck there, but that only seems to give the ensuing crunch more impact, and likewise the far-back char of “Freezing in Fire” as it relates to the subsequent “Dead Idles,” as Cavalcade refute the trappings of genre in tempo while still seeming to burrow a hole for themselves in the skull of the converted. “Noose Tie” and “We Dig Our Own Graves” tell the story, but while the recording itself is barebones, Cavalcade aren’t now and never really have been so simple as to be a one-trick band. For more than a decade, they’ve provided a multifaceted and trickily complex downer extremity, and Sonic Euthanasia does this as well, bringing their sound to new places and new levels of abrasion along its punishing way. Easy listening? Shit. You see that eye on the cover? That’s the lizard people staring back at you. Have fun with that.

Cavalcade on Thee Facebooks

Cavalcade on Bandcamp

 

Restless Spirit, Lord of the New Depression

restless spirit lord of the new depression

Long Island chug-rockers Restless Spirit would seem to have been developing the material for their self-released debut album, Lord of the New Depression, over the last couple years on a series of short releases, but the songs still sound fresh and electrified in their vitality. If this was 1992 or ’93, they’d be signed already to RoadRacer Records and put on tour with Life of Agony, whose River Runs Red would seem to be a key influence in the vocals of the nine-track/39-minute offering, but even on their own, the metal-tinged five-piece seem to do just fine. Their tracks are atmospheric and aggressive and kind, and sincere in their roll, capturing the spirit of a band like Down with somewhat drawn-back chestbeating, “Dominion” aside. They seem to be challenging themselves to push outside those confines though in “Deep Fathom Hours,” the longest track at 7:35 with more complexity in the melody of the vocals and guitar, and that suits them remarkably well as they dig into this doomly take on LOA and Type O Negative and others from the early ’90s NYC underground — they seem to pass on Biohazard, which is fine — made legendary with the passage of time. As a gentleman of a certain age, I find it exceptionally easy to get on board.

Restless Spirit on Thee Facebooks

Restless Spirit on Bandcamp

 

Children of the Sün, Flowers

Children of the Sun Flowers

An eight-piece outfit based in Arvika, Sweden, which is far enough west to be closer to Oslo than Stockholm, Children of the Sün blend the classic heavy rock stylizations of MaidaVale, first-LP Blues Pills and others with a decidedly folkish bent. Including an intro, their The Sign Records debut album, Flowers, is eight track and 34 minutes interweaving organ and guitar, upbeat vibes and bluesier melodies, taking cues from choral-style vocals on “Emmy” in such a way as to remind of Church of the Cosmic Skull, though the aesthetic here is more hippie than cult. The singing on “Sunschild” soars in that fashion as well, epitomizing the lush melody found across Flowers as the keys, guitar, bass and drums work to match in energy and presence. For a highlight, I’d pick the more subdued title-track, which still has its sense of movement thanks to percussion deep in the mix but comes arguably closest to the flower-child folk Children of the Sün seem to be claiming for their own, though the subsequent closing duo of “Like a Sound” and “Beyond the Sun” aren’t far off either. They’re onto something. One hopes they continue to explore in such sünshiny fashion.

Children of the Sün on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Void King, Barren Dominion

void king barren dominion

Having made their debut with 2016’s There is Nothing (discussed here), Indianapolis downtrodden heavy rock four-piece Void King come back for a second go with Barren Dominion (on Off the Record Label), a title of similar theme that finds them doom riffing through massive tonality on “Burnt at Both Ends,” asking what if Soundgarden played atmospheric doom rock on “Crippled Chameleon” — uh, it would be awesome? yup — and opening each side with its longest track (double immediate points) in a clearly intended vinyl structure hell bent on immersing the listener as much as possible in the lumber and weight the band emit. Frontman Jason Kindred adds extra burl to his already-plenty-dudely approach on “Crippled Chameleon” and closer “The Longest Winter,” the latter with some harmonies to mirror those of opener “A Lucid Omega,” and the band around him — bassist Chris Carroll, drummer Derek Felix and guitarist Tommy Miller — seem to have no trouble whatsoever in keeping up, there or anywhere else on the eight-song/46-minute outing. Topped with striking cover art from Diogo SoaresBarren Dominion is deceptively nuanced and full-sounding. Not at all empty.

Void King on Thee Facebooks

Off the Record Label BigCartel store

 

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Cavern Premiere “Red Moon” Video; Tour Starts Next Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

cavern

Baltimore trio Cavern underwent a sea change last year when drummer Stephen Schrock and guitarist/synthesist Zach Harkins brought in bassist Rose Heater and thereby employed a vocalist for the first time in years. Their early work on their 2013 self-titled debut and 2014’s Tales of Ruin was topped with post-hardcore-style shouts, but the band went instrumental for 2015’s Outsiders and last year’s Eater, taking on a more progressive and post-rocking drift in Harkins‘ guitar along the way. The tension between that guitar and Schrock‘s drumming can still be heard in new song “Red Moon,” or the prior-recorded/released single with the current lineup, “Fade Before the Flood,” but there’s a serenity overarching in the melodic delivery of Heater‘s voice that carries through and complements. “Red Moon” has more of a hook as well in a ’90s alternative/indie style and seems to rightly bask in the atmosphere it’s creating.

I’m pretty sure the warehouse space where the clip for “Red Moon” was filmed is where Grimoire Records does cavern red moon coverits recording — and would it be possible to get pricing on countertops? — so it’s cool to see the band run through the track in a space that’s obviously familiar to them as they’ve done all their tracking over the last half-decade plus with Noel Mueller under the Grimoire banner. That collaboration might be the untold story that in part allows the three-piece to achieve this level of patience in their delivery of “Red Moon,” but their songwriting has only grown more forward-thinking with time, so whatever it is that’s getting them there, they’re consistent in that regard. As they move toward a new full-length in 2020, presumably piecing it together the hard way as one song in one session at a time, “Red Moon” piques interest and demonstrates the chemistry taking shape of the band in their revamped incarnation.

Cavern will be on tour starting next week with Backwoods Payback for a run presented in part by this site. The dates are below and there’s more on it here.

Enjoy the video:

Cavern, “Red Moon” official video premiere

Music video credits:
Directed by: Karlo Gesner
Production Assistant: Jesse Eldredge

“Red Moon” was engineered, mixed and mastered by Noel Mueller in June of 2019. Art by Stephen Schrock. All proceeds will directly benefit the ACLU: https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/track/red-moon-2

This (and Fade Before the Flood, from earlier this year) will be included in the as-yet untitled full-length that Grimoire Records is working on with Cavern, likely released in 2020 — no other album release details are available at this point. This single and music video is being released now in service of their upcoming September tour with Backwoods Payback:

Cavern & Backwoods Payback Sept. Tour:
09/23 Cleveland OH Now That’s Class
09/24 Youngstown OH Westside Bowl
09/25 Erie PA Basement Transmissions
09/26 Buffalo NY Mohawk Place
09/27 Toronto ON Bovine Sex Club
09/28 Montreal QC Turbo Haus
09/29 Philadelphia PA Kung Fu Necktie

Cavern is:
Stephen Schrock- Drums
Zach Harkins- Guitar/Synth
Rose Heater- Bass/Vocals

Cavern on Thee Facebooks

Cavern on Instagram

Cavern on Bandcamp

Cavern website

Grimoire Records on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Instagram

Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

Grimoire Records website

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R.I.P. Peter Maturi of Swarm of the Lotus & Graven

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It was hard to listen to the work of Peter Maturi and not be affected by the absolute ferocity of it. As guitarist/vocalist in Swarm of the Lotus and more recently Graven, the Baltimore, Maryland-based Maturi brought an unbridled, unhinged sense of extremity to sludge and noise, refusing to be sold on the line between doom and grind. Maturi’s bandmates announced over the weekend that he has passed away, and on behalf of myself and this site, I offer sincere condolences to his family, friends and of course the other members of his bands.

I never saw Neurosis lay waste to a small back room bar, but I saw Swarm of the Lotus, and if you think that’s a happenstance comparison, forget it. Though their two albums — 2004’s When White Becomes Black on At a Loss Recordings and 2005’s The Sirens of Silence (discussed here) on Abacus/Emetic — remain as brutally underrated as they were, well, brutal, the stage found the band even more punishing. I always held out hope for a third LP, even as they seemed to fade away after the second one. In 2015, the band posted the single “Plagued by Ritual” (discussed here) that further got my hopes up, but nothing else materialized in public from them after that.

By then, however, Maturi had begun Graven and embarked on a new level of aural pummel. The 2018 LP, Heirs of Discord (review here), lived up to its name in capturing the sense of chaos that was always at heart in Swarm of the Lotus, but was clearly its own beast as well that, despite the members being geographically split, only seemed prime for future growth. It is a shame and a loss that such growth will go unrealized.

Here is what Swarm of the Lotus posted:

peter maturi swarm of the lotus

It is with immense sadness that we must announce our friend, bandmate, and brother, Pete Maturi passed away earlier this week. It’s so hard to sum up Pete’s life in one social media post as he probably lived a thousand years worth in his lifetime. His passion for music was undeniable. He lived and breathed it every day. He poured every ounce of his being into everything that he played or wrote, the end result being nothing short of sheer intensity. From the brutal guitar riffs to the pain-filled lyrics, his songs took you to another world. Pete will always be remembered for the amazing musician and person he was. We will never forget his ridiculous and sarcastic sense of humor, his caring soul, or his dedication to his friends and family.

Because of the absolute suddenness of Pete’s passing, it is our goal to make sure that Niki and their daughter do not have to worry about finances while they grieve their immense loss. Any little bit would surely help to relieve any unnecessary burden while they mourn and work toward building a future. If anyone would like to donate, you can do so via PayPal at nikimaturi@gmail.com Any help will be greatly appreciated.

A celebration of life will be held in the future and we will release those details as they unfold.

Until then, throw on a SOTL or Graven album, crank it up loud as fuck and raise a glass to Pete!

Pete, we miss you brother!

Photo by Scott Kinkade

https://www.facebook.com/GRAVENSOUND/
https://gravensound.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/SwarmoftheLotus/
https://swarmofthelotus.bandcamp.com/

Graven, Heirs of Discord (2018)

Swarm of the Lotus, “Plagued by Ritual”

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Yatra Sign to STB Records for New Album Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

So, new Yatra in November, maybe? Feels late, but if they’re dead set on making two LPs happen in 2019 — their first, Death Ritual (discussed here), came out in January on Grimoire Records — it’s certainly plausible provided the vinyl is in production. Maybe even October? That feels like a run, as it’s already almost August, but that would align with Yatra‘s Obelisk-presented European tour with Sunnata starting Oct. 2, so that might make sense too. I’ll be curious to find out when an exact date surfaces. So far what we’ve got to go on is “before the end of the year.” Okeydokey.

Now then, it was pretty apparent given the response Yatra have thus far gotten from their studio work and their live show that someone was going to pick up their next release, and the only real question was who it would be. STB Records would seem to have won out this time around, and I’ve no doubt that the fanbase Yatra have quickly set about building will dig into the label’s “red carpet treatment,” as it’s called below, with an array of vinyl editions pressed, Obi strips, deluxe versions, test pressings and all that kind of good stuff. I’d be happy just to hear the thing for now, but given the hit-it-really-fucking-hard factor Yatra have put into play throughout 2019 to-date, they’ve earned that “treatment” and then some.

Kudos to the band and the label. Here’s the announcement and their currently scheduled shows:

yatra

YATRA – New Band Signing!!

STB Records is proud to announce and welcome YATRA to the STB Family! We are very excited to work together and we can not wait to release this new banger of an album to the fans, old and new!

If you have not checked Yatra out yet, click the link below and have your mind blown. Expect the full STB Records red carpet treatment for the new album expected to be released before the end of the year.

YATRA – “Death Ritual”

Next Yatra shows!!!:
8/10 – El Cortez – Brooklyn, NYC
8/29 – The Ottobar – Baltimore, MD
8/31 – Atlas – Washington, D.C.

SUNNATA & YATRA European tour:
02.10 – Dresden (DE) HD
03.10 – Copenhagen (DK) Stengade
04.10 – Oslo (NO) Hostsabbat Festival
06.10 – Uppsala (SE) Ungdomens Hus
09.10 – Cologne (DE) MTC
10.10 – Colmar (FR) Grillen
11.10 – Ilmenau (DE) Baracke 5
12.10 – Berlin (DE) Setalight Festival
16.10 – Munich (DE) Backstage
17.10 – Paris (FR) L’International
18.10 – Antwerp (BE) Desertfest Belgium
19.10 – Leeuwarden (NL) Into The Void

YATRA:
Dana Helmuth – guitars/vocals
Maria Geisbert – bass
Mike Tull – drums

http://www.facebook.com/yatradoom
https://www.instagram.com/yatra_doom
https://yatradoom.bandcamp.com
http://stbrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/STB-Records-471228012921184/

Yatra, Death Ritual (2019)

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Asthma Castle Announce August Touring

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

Asthma Castle

Asthma Castle‘s black ship will launch next month supporting the earlier-2019 release of Mount Crushmore on Hellmistress Records, bringing chaos and headspinning heavy noise rock to the unsuspecting citizenry up and down the Eastern Seaboard and a little bit further inland as well. The burl-bringing five-piece to me recall more of a West Coast noise rock sound, specifically some of Akimbo‘s unhinged metallic-hardcore-sludge attack, but with growls and low-end pummel of “Methlehem” from the record, they’ve got more going for them than just smash-your-head-into-the-wall brashness. Though there’s a bit of that as well. Not telling you to bring your helmet, but not telling you not to either.

Oh, and bonus points to them (again) for calling it the ‘Mount Crushtour.’

If you didn’t hear the record — I know you did, but hypothetically — it’s streaming below from their Bandcamp. Here are the tour dates via the PR wire:

Asthma Castle tour

ASTHMA CASTLE: Stoner Metal/Sludge Merchants Featuring Members Of Pig Destroyer, Misery Index, And More Announce August Tour Dates; Mount Crushmore Full-Length Out Now Via Hellmistress Records

Stoner metal/sludge merchants ASTHMA CASTLE have confirmed a rare stack of live dates next month which will find the band pillaging nine stages from August 8th through August 31st. See all confirmed dates below.

The band — featuring within its ranks drummer Adam Jarvis (Pig Destroyer, Misery Index, Scour), the twin guitar attack of Justin Ethem and Cameron Smith (Passage Between, Crawler), vocalist Zach Westphal (ex-J. Roddy Walston And The Business), and bassist Jeff Davis (Damnation Audio effects pedals) — will be touring in support of their Mount Crushmore debut released earlier this year via Hellmistress Records. Recorded and mixed at Wrightway Studios (Dying Fetus, Misery Index), mastered by Scott Hull of Pig Destroyer at his own Visceral Sound Studios with cover art by Gary Ronaldson of Bite Radius Designs (Napalm Death, Kreator etc.), ASTHMA CASTLE manifests a unique and seamless, riff-heavy blend of stoner metal/rock, heavy metal, prog, and sludge that takes its cues from the likes of Weedeater, Church Of Misery, Mastodon, Lowrider, Dozer, and Clutch without ever seeming derivative.

Mount Crushmore is available on CD, digital, and limited-edition vinyl formats via Hellmistress Records. For CD orders go to THIS LOCATION, for vinyl go to THIS LOCATION, and for digital, go to THIS LOCATION.

ASTHMA CASTLE:
8/08/2019 Westside Bowl – Youngstown, OH
8/09/2019 TBD – Morgantown, WV
8/10/2019 El Cortez – Brooklyn, NY
8/11/2019 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
8/22/2019 Cary St. Café – Richmond, VA
8.23.2019 Slim’s – Raleigh, NC
8/24/2019 The Mothlight – Ashville, NC
8/25/2019 The Golden Pony – Harrisonburg, VA
8/31/2019 Pie Shop – Washington, DC

Asthma Castle are:
Zach Westphal – vocals
Justin Ethem – guitar
Cameron Smith – guitar
Jeff Davis – bass
Adam Jarvis – drums

http://www.facebook.com/asthmacastle
http://asthmacastle.bandcamp.com
http://www.instagram.com/asthma_castle
http://www.hellmistressrecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/hellmistressrecords
http://www.instagram.com/hellmistressrecords

Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore (2019)

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