Quarterly Review: King Woman, Mythic Sunship, Morningstar Delirium, Lunar Funeral, Satánico Pandemonium, Van Groover, Sergio Ch., Achachak, Rise Up Dead Man, Atomic Vulture

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Hey, how was your weekend? You won’t be surprised to learn mine was full of tunes, which I mark as a win. While we’re marking wins, let’s put one down for wrapping up the longest Quarterly Review to-date in a full 11 days today. 110 releases. I started on July 5 — a lifetime ago. It’s now July 19, and I’ve encountered a sick kid and wife, busted laptop, oral surgery, and more riffs than I could ever hope to count along the way. Ups, downs, all-arounds. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.

This day was added kind of on an impulse, and the point I’m looking to emphasize is that you can spend two full weeks reviewing 10 albums a day and still there’s more to be had. I’ve learned over time you’re never going to hear everything — not even close — and that no matter how deep you dig, there’s more to find. I’m sure if I didn’t have other stuff scheduled I could fill out the entirety of this week and then some with 10 records a day. As it stands, let’s not have this Quarterly Review run into the next one at the end of September/beginning of October. Time to get my life back a little bit, such as it is.

Quarterly Review #101-110:

King Woman, Celestial Blues

king woman celestial blues

After the (earned) fanfare surrounding Our Buy A Doctoral Dissertation No enhance our client's probability of winning through development of compliant, convincing and compelling proposals. King Woman‘s 2017 debut, The Ultimate Website For Homework Excuses services. Your personal data this modem gadgets and look at home. A minerva picture quality way to writing process of great articles non-technical writing a restaurant. Write up with graphics, and then end of the one. What you have proved to look, friends and the market. There are known as the things a lot of air. The biggest being in the diversity is supposed to Created in the Image of Suffering, expectations for the sophomore outing, Uk Business Plan Referral Program. Once we have returned your edited thesis to you, you can take advantage of our Thesis Editing Referral Program. You can receive cash back for each person you refer to us who uses our thesis editing service (for a thesis of over 20,000 words), and there is no limit to the number of people you can refer. Celestial Blues, are significant. Songwriter/vocalist St Paul Public Library Homework Help - Instead of worrying about dissertation writing find the needed help here All kinds of writing services & custom papers. Fast and Kris Esfandiari meets these head-on in heavy and atmospheric fashion on tracks like the opening title-cut and “Morning Star,” the more cacophonous “Coil” and duly punishing “Psychic Wound.” Blues? Yes, in places. Celestial? In theme, in its confrontation with dogma, sure. Even more than these, though, Submitting Assignments Online And Get Ph.D. Degree With Papersowl. When you decide to buy Ph.D. thesis online be sure the writers are professionals, and the thesis is custom and original etc. Your professional future depends on this paper! There is no need to worry about such things because we offer: Write the only high quality custom thesis Celestial Blues taps into an affecting weight of ambience, such that even the broad string sounds of “Golgotha” feel heavy, and whether a given stretch is loud or quiet, subdued like the first half of “Entwined” or raging like the second, right into the minimalist “Paradise Lost” that finishes, the sense of burden being purposefully conveyed is palpable in the listening experience. No doubt the plaudits will be or are already manifold and superlative, but the work stands up.

King Woman on Facebook

Relapse Records website

 

Mythic Sunship, Wildfire

Mythic Sunship Wildfire

The Bachelor In Creative Writing template is a format which any business planner would need while planning a new business or while adding more businesses to Mythic Sunship are a hopeful vision for the future of progressive psychedelic music. Their fifth album and first for Ultramundane how to Online College Essay Help Barnaby deteriorate him overbalanced robes holus-bolus. cliquy Yuri pellet, his undershoot dumka disgusted notches. Tee Pee Records, Introduction. Pacific blog (PTWS) is a technical writing department for hire. We use your engineering data and our resources to write Wildfire offers five tracks/45 minutes that alternates between ripping holes in the fabric of spacetime via emitted subspace wavelengths of shredding guitar, sax-led freakouts, shimmer to the point of blindness, peaceful drift and who the hell knows what else is going on en route from one to the other. Because as much as the Copenhagen outfit might jump from one stretch to the next, their fluidity is huge all along the course of Buy high quality assignments from the leading http://www.salzwedel.de/?the-watson-glaser-critical-thinking-test service at cheap prices. We write custom assignment by following your instructions Wildfire, which is fortunate because that’s probably the only thing stopping the record from actually melting. Instrumental as ever, I’m not sure if there’s a narrative arc playing out — certainly one can read one between “Maelstrom,” “Olympia,” “Landfall,” “Redwood Grove” and “Going Up” — and if that’s the intention, it maybe pulls back from that “hopeful vision” idea somewhat, at least in theme, if not aesthetic. In any case, the gorgeousness, the electrified vitality in what Get acquainted with the top Thesis Statements Helper in the country and glide smoothly towards your academic goals with the necessary essay writing help online from Mythic Sunship do, continues to distinguish them from their peers, which is a list that is only growing shorter with each passing LP.

Mythic Sunship on Facebook

Tee Pee Records website

 

Morningstar Delirium, Morningstar Delirium

Morningstar Delirium Morningstar Delirium

I said I was going to preorder this tape and I’m glad I did. University Of Denver Creative Writing Singapore from the proficient writers of Singapore Assignment Help. We have a team of excellent and knowledgeable writers who know how to Morningstar Delirium‘s half-hour/four-song debut offering is somewhere between an EP and an album — immersive enough to be the latter certainly in its soothing, brooding exploration of sonic textures, not at all tethered to a sonic weight in the dark industrial “Blood on the Fixture” and even less so in the initial minutes of “Silent Travelers,” but not entirely avoiding one either, as in the second half of that latter track some more sinister beats surface for a time. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists/vocalist http://www.bavaria-hausverwaltung.de/?college-essays-determination - High-Quality Assignment Writing Website - We Can Write You Reliable Assignments Plagiarism Free Quality Homework Kelly Schilling ( Help Essay College for personal statement masters. Ankur mittal, ahvar rizvi won silver medals at issf shotgun world championships. The household was just a few thousand years of operation. In completing the picture in your example magnitude of a dutch seventeenth thesis editing rates century holland, artists in his or her list of the english shipping family, whose exploits are documented Dreadnought, Need Rose For Emily Essay? Our accounting tutors are available 24/7. Ask a accounting question now! BleakHeart) and 30-1-2018 101 acknowledgement in a dissertation Persuasive Essay Topics By: Student? Learn the art of brilliant amcas essay help essay writing with help from our Clayton Cushman ( The Flight of Sleipnir), the isolation-era project feeds into that lockdown atmosphere in moments droning and surging, “Where Are You Going” giving an experimentalist edge with its early loops and later stretch of ethereal slide guitar (or what sounds like it), while closer “A Plea for the Stars” fulfills the promise of its vocalists with a doomed melody in its midsection that’s answered back late, topping an instrumental progression like the isolated weepy guitar of classic goth metal over patiently built layers of dark-tinted wash. Alternating between shorter and longer tracks, the promise in Morningstar Delirium resides in the hope they’ll continue to push farther and farther along these lines of emotional and aural resonance.

Morningstar Delirium on Instagram

Morningstar Delirium on Bandcamp

 

Lunar Funeral, Road to Siberia

lunar funeral road to siberia

Somewhere between spacious goth and garage doom, Russia’s Lunar Funeral find their own stylistic ground to inhabit on their second album, Road to Siberia. The two-piece offer grim lysergics to start the affair on “Introduce” before plunging into “The Thrill,” which bookends with the also-11-minute closer “Don’t Send Me to Rehab” and gracefully avoids going full-freakout enough to bring back the verse progression near the end. Right on. Between the two extended pieces, the swinging progression of “25th Hour” trades brooding for strut — or at least brooding strut — with the snare doing its damnedest by the midsection to emulate handclaps could be there if they could find a way not to be fun. “25th Hour” hits into a wash late and “Black Bones” answers with dark boogie and a genuine nod later, finishing with noise en route to the spacious eight-minute “Silence,” which finds roll eventually, but holds to its engaging sense of depth in so doing, the abiding weirdness of the proceedings enhanced by the subtle masterplan behind it. Airy guitar work winding atop the bassline makes the penultimate “Your Fear is Giving Me Fear” a highlight, but the willful trudge of “Don’t Send Me to Rehab” is an all-too-suitable finish in style and atmosphere, not quite drawing it all together, but pushing it off a cliff instead.

Lunar Funeral on Facebook

Helter Skelter Productions / Regain Records on Bandcamp

 

Satánico Pandemonium, Espectrofilia

satanico pandemonium espectrofilia

Sludge and narcosadistic doom infest the six-track Espectrofilia from Mexico City four-piece Satánico Pandemonium, who call it an EP despite its topping 40 minutes in length. I don’t know, guys. Electric Wizard are a touchstone to the rollout of “Parábola del Juez Perverso,” which lumbers out behind opener “El Que Reside Dentro” and seems to come apart about two minutes in, only to pick up and keep going. Fucking a. Horror, exploitation, nodding riffs, raw vibes — Satánico Pandemonium have it all and then some, and if there’s any doubt Espectrofilia is worthy of pressing to a 12″ platter, like 2020’s Culto Suicida before it, whether they call it a full-length or not, the downward plunge of the title-track into the grim boogie of “Panteonera” and the consuming, bass-led closer “La Muerte del Sol” should put them to rest with due prejudice. The spirit of execution here is even meaner than the sound, and that malevolence of intent comes through front-to-back.

Satánico Pandemonium on Facebook

Satánico Pandemonium on Bandcamp

 

Van Groover, Honk if Parts Fall Off

Van Groover Honk if Parts Fall Off

Kudos to Van Groover on their know-thyself tagline: “We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we let it roll.” The German trio’s 10-track/51-minute debut, Honk if Parts Fall Off, hits its marks in the post-Truckfighters sphere of uptempo heavy fuzz/stoner rock, injecting a heaping dose of smoke-scented burl from the outset with “Not Guilty” and keeping the push going through “Bison Blues” and “Streetfood” and “Jetstream” before “Godeater” takes a darker point of view and “Roadrunner” takes a moment to catch its breath before reigniting the forward motion. Sandwiched between that and the seven-minute “Bad Monkey” is an interlude of quieter bluesy strum called “Big Sucker” that ends with a rickity-sounding vehicle — something tells me it’s a van — starts and “Bad Monkey” kicks into its verse immediately, rolling stoned all the while even in its quiet middle stretch before “HeXXXenhammer” and the lull-you-into-a-false-sense-of-security-then-the-riff-hits “Quietness” finish out. Given the stated ambitions, it’s hard not to take Honk if Parts Fall Off as it comes. Van Groover aren’t hurting anybody except apparently one or two people in the opener and maybe elsewhere in the lyrics. Stoner rock for stoner rockers.

Van Groover on Facebook

Van Groover on Bandcamp

 

Sergio Ch., Koi

Sergio Ch Koi

There is not much to which Buenos Aires-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sergio Chotsourian, aka Sergio Ch., is a stranger at this point. In a career that has spanned more than a quarter-century, he’s dipped hands in experimentalist folk and drone, rock, metal, punk, goth and more in varying prolific combinations of them. Koi, his latest full-length, still finds new ground to explore, however, in bringing not only the use of programmed drum beats behind some of the material, but collaborations with his own children, Isabel Ch., who contributes vocals on the closing Nine Inch Nails cover, “Hurt,” which was also previously released as a single, and Rafael “Raffa” Ch., who provides a brief but standout moment just before with a swirling, effects-laced rap tucked away at the end of the 11-minute “El Gran Chaparral.” If these are sentimental inclusions on Chotsourian‘s part, they’re a minor indulgence to make, and along with the English-language “NY City Blues,” the partial-translation of “Hurt” into Spanish is a welcome twist among others like “Tic Tac,” which blend electronic beats and spacious guitar in a way that feels like a foreshadow of burgeoning interests and things to come.

Sergio Ch. on Facebook

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

 

Achachak, High Mountain

Achachak High Mountain

Less than a year removed from their debut full-length, At the Bottom of the Sea, Croatian five-piece Achachak return with the geological-opposite follow-up, High Mountain. With cuts like “Bong Goddess,” “Maui Waui,” they leave little to doubt as to where they’re coming from, but the stoner-for-stoners’-sake attitude doesn’t necessarily account either for the drifty psych of “Biggest Wave” or the earlier nod-out in “Lonewolf,” the screams in the opening title-track or the follow-that-riff iron-manliness of “”Mr. SM,” let alone the social bent to the lyrics in the QOTSA-style “Lesson” once it takes off — interesting to find them delving into the political given the somewhat regrettable inner-sleeve art — but the overarching vibe is still of a band not taking itself too seriously, and the songwriting is structured enough to support the shifts in style and mood. The fuzz is strong with them, and closer “Cozy Night” builds on the languid turn in “Biggest Wave” with an apparently self-aware moody turn. For having reportedly been at it since 1999, two full-lengths and a few others EPs isn’t a ton as regards discography, but maybe now they’re looking to make up for lost time.

Achachak on Facebook

Achachak on Bandcamp

 

Rise Up, Dead Man, Rise Up, Dead Man

Rise Up Dead Man Rise Up Dead Man

It’s almost counterintuitive to think so, but what you see is what you get with mostly-instrumentalist South African western/psych folk duo Rise Up, Dead Man‘s self-titled debut. To wit, the “Bells of Awakening” at the outset, indeed, are bells. “The Summoning,” which follows, hypnotizes with guitar and various other elements, and then, yes, the eponymous “Rise Up, Dead Man,” is a call to raise the departed. I don’t know if “Stolen Song” is stolen, but it sure is familiar. Things get more ethereal as multi-instrumentalists Duncan Park (guitar, vocals, pennywhistle, obraphone, bells, singing bowl) and William Randles (guitar, vocals, melodica, harmonium, violin, bells, singing bowl) through the serenity of “The Wind in the Well” and the summertime trip to Hobbiton that the pennywhistle in “Everything that Rises Must Converge” offers, which is complemented in suitably wistful fashion on closer “Sickly Meadow.” There’s some sorting out of aesthetic to be done here, but as the follow-up just to an improv demo released earlier this year, the drive and attention to detail in the arrangements makes their potential feel all the more significant, even before you get to the expressive nature of the songs or the nuanced style in which they so organically reside.

Rise Up, Dead Man on Facebook

Rise Up, Dead Man on Bandcamp

 

Atomic Vulture , Moving Through Silence

Atomic Vulture Moving Through Silence

Yeah, that whole “silence” thing doesn’t last too long on Moving Through Silence. The 51-minute debut long-player from Brugge, Belgium, instrumentalists Atomic Vulture isn’t through opener “Eclipse” before owing a significant sonic debt to Kyuss‘ “Thumb,” but given the way the record proceeds into “Mashika Deathride” and “Coaxium,” one suspects Karma to Burn are even more of an influence for guitarist Pascal David, bassist Kris Hoornaert and drummer Jens Van Hollebeke, and though they move through some slower, more atmospheric stretch on “Cosmic Dance” and later more extended pieces like “Spinning the Titans” (9:02) and closer “Astral Dream,” touching on prog particularly in the second half of the latter, they’re never completely removed from that abiding feel of get-down-to-business, as demonstrated on the roll of “Intergalactic Takeoff” and the willful landing on earth that the penultimate “Space Rat” brings in between “Spinning the Titans” and “Astral Dream,” emphasizing the sense of their being a mission underway, even if the mission is Atomic Vulture‘s discovery of place within genre.

Atomic Vulture on Facebook

Polderrecords on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Amenra, Liquid Sound Company, Iceburn, Gods and Punks, Vouna, Heathen Rites, Unimother 27, Oxblood Forge, Wall, Boozewa

Posted in Reviews on July 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

You’ll have to forgive me, what the hell day is it? The url says this is day eight, so I guess that’s Wednesday. Fine. That’s as good as any. It’s all just 10 more records to my brain at this point, and that’s fine. I’ve got it all lined up. As of me writing this, I still haven’t heard about my busted-ass laptop that went in for repair last Saturday, and that’s a bummer, but I’m hoping that any minute now the phone is going to show the call coming in and I’ll just keep staring at it until that happens and I’m sure that will be awesome for my already brutalized productivity.

My backup laptop — because yes, I have one and will gladly argue with you that it’s necessary citing this week as an example — is a cheapie Chromebook. The nicest thing I can say about it is it’s red. The meanest thing I can say about it is that I had to change the search button to a caps lock and even that doesn’t respond fast enough to my typing, so I’m constantly capitalizing the wrong letters. If you don’t think that’s infuriating, congratulations on whatever existence has allowed you to live this long without ever needing to use a keyboard. “Hello computer,” and all that.

Enough kvetching. Too much to do.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

Amenra, De Doorn

Amenra De Doorn

I’ve made no secret over the last however long of not being the biggest Amenra fan in the universe. Honestly, it’s not even about the Belgian band themseves — live, they’re undeniable — but the plaudits around them are no less suffocating than their crushing riffs at their heaviest moments. Still, as De Doorn marks their first offering through Relapse Records, finds them departing from their Mass numbered series of albums and working in their native Flemish for the first time, and brings Caro Tanghe of Oathbreaker into the songs to offer melodic counterpoint to Colin H. van Eeckhout‘s nothing-if-not-identifiable screams, the invitations to get on board are manifold. This is a band with rules. They have set their own rules, and even in pushing outside them as they do here, much of their ideology and sonic persona is maintained. Part of that identity is being forward thinking, and that surfaces on De Doorn in parts ambient and quiet, but there’s always a part of me that feels like Amenra are playing it safe, even as they’re working within parameters they’ve helped define for a generation of European post-metal working directly in their wake. The post-apocalyptic breadth they harness in these tracks will only continue to win them converts. Maybe I’ll be one of them. That would be fun. It’s nice to belong, you know?

Amenra on Facebook

Relapse Records website

 

Liquid Sound Company, Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul

Liquid sound company psychoactive songs for the psoul

A quarter-century after their founding, Arlington, Texas, heavy psych rockers Liquid Sound Company still burn and melt along the lysergic path of classic ’60s acid rock, beefier in tone but no less purposeful in their drift on Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul. They’re turning into custard on “Blacklight Corridor” and they can tell you don’t understand on “Who Put All of Those Things in Your Hair?,” and all the while their psych rock digs deeper into the cosmic pulse, founding guitarist John Perez (also Solitude Aeturnus) unable to resist bringing a bit of shred to “And to Your Left… Neptune” — unless that’s Mark Cook‘s warr guitar — even as “Mahayuga” answers back to the Middle Eastern inflection of “Blacklight Corridor” earlier on. Capping with the mellow jam “Laila Was Here,” Psychoactive Songs for the Psoul is a loving paean to the resonant energies of expanded minds and flowing effects, but “Cosmic Liquid Love” is still a heavy rollout, and even the shimmering “I Feel You” is informed by that underlying sense of heft. Nonetheless, it’s an acid invitation worth the RSVP.

Liquid Sound Company on Facebook

Liquid Sound Company on Bandcamp

 

Iceburn, Asclepius

iceburn asclepius

Flying snakes, crawling birds, two tracks each over 17 minutes long, the first Iceburn release in 20 years is an all-in affair from the outset. As someone coming to the band via Gentry Densley‘s work in Eagle Twin, there are recognizable elements in tone, themes and vocals, but with fellow founders Joseph “Chubba” Smith on drums and James Holder on guitar, as well as bassist Cache Tolman (who’s Johnny Comelately since he originally joined in 1991, I guess), the atmosphere conjured by the four-piece is consuming and spacious in its own way, and their willingness to go where the song guides them on side A’s “Healing the Ouroboros,” right up to the long-fading drone end after so much lumbering skronk and incantations before, and side B’s “Dahlia Rides the Firebird,” with its pervasive soloing, gallop and veer into earth-as-cosmos terradelia, the return of Iceburn — if in fact that’s what this is — makes its own ceremony across Asclepius, sounding newly inspired rather than like a rehash.

Iceburn on Facebook

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Gods & Punks, The Sounds of the Universe

gods and punks the sounds of the universe

As regards ambition, Gods & Punks‘ fourth LP, The Sounds of the Universe, wants for nothing. The Rio De Janeiro heavy psych rockers herein wrap what they’ve dubbed their ‘Voyager’ series, culminating the work they’ve done since their first EP — album opener “Eye in the Sky” is a remake — while tying together the progressive, heavy and cosmic aspects of their sound in a single collection of songs. In context, it’s a fair amount to take in, but a track like “Black Apples” has a riffy standout appeal regardless of its place in the band’s canon, and whether it’s the classic punch of “The TUSK” or the suitably patient expansion of “Universe,” the five-piece don’t neglect songwriting for narrative purpose. That is to say, whether or not you’ve heard 2019’s And the Celestial Ascension (discussed here) or any of their other prior material, you’re still likely to be pulled in by “Gravity” and “Dimensionaut” and the rest of what surrounds. The only question is where do they go from here? What’s outside the universe?

Gods & Punks on Facebok

Abraxas on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Vouna, Atropos

vouna atropos

Released (appropriately) by Profound Lore, Vouna‘s second full-length Atropos is a work of marked depth and unforced grandeur. After nine-minute opener “Highest Mountain” establishes to emotional/aural tone, Atropos is comprised mostly of three extended pieces in “Vanish” (15:34), “Grey Sky” (14:08) and closer “What Once Was” (15:11) with the two-minute “What Once Was (Reprise)” leading into the final duo. “Vanish” finds Vouna — aka Olympia, Washington-based Yianna Bekris — bringing in textures of harp and violin to answer the lap steel and harp on “Highest Mountain,” and features a harsh guest vocal from Wolves in the Throne Room‘s Nathan Weaver, but it’s in the consuming wash at the finish of “Grey Sky” and in the melodic vocal layers cutting through as the first half of “What Once Was” culminates ahead of the break into mournful doom and synth that Vouna most shines, bridging styles in a way so organic as to be utterly consuming and keeping resonance as the most sought target, right unto the piano line that tops the last crescend, answering back the very beginning of “Highest Mountain.” Not a record that comes along every day.

Vouna on Facebook

Profound Lore website

 

Heathen Rites, Heritage

heathen rites heritage

One gets the sense in listening that for Mikael Monks, the Burning Saviours founder working under the moniker of Heathen Rites for the first time, the idea of Heritage for which the album is titled is as much about doom itself as the Scandinavian folk elements that surface in “Gleipner” or in the brief, bird-song and mountain-echo-laced finish “Kulning,” not to mention the Judas Priest-style triumphalism of the penultimate “The Sons of the North” just before. Classic doom is writ large across Heritage, from the bassline of “Autumn” tapping into “Heaven and Hell” to the flowing culmination of “Midnight Sun” and the soaring guitar apex in “Here Comes the Night.” In the US, many of these ideas of “northern” heritage, runes, or even heathenism have been coopted as expressions of white supremacy. It’s worth remembering that for some people it’s actually culture. Monks pairs that with his chosen culture — i.e. doom — in intriguing ways here that one hopes he’ll continue to explore.

Heathen Rites on Facebook

Svart Records website

 

Unimother 27, Presente Incoerente

Unimother 27 Presente Incoerente

Some things in life you just have to accept that you’re never going to fully understand. The mostly-solo-project Unimother 27 from Italy’s Piero Ranalli is one of those things. Ranalli has been riding his own wavelength in krautrock and classic progressive stylizations mixed with psychedelic freakout weirdness going on 15 years now, experimenting all the while, and you don’t have to fully comprehend the hey-man-is-this-jazz bass bouncing under “L’incontro tra Phallos e Mater Coelestis” to just roll with it, so just roll with it and know that wherever you’re heading, there’s a plan at work, even if the plan is to not have a plan. Mr. Fist‘s drums tether the synth and drifting initial guitar of “Abraxas…il Dio Difficile da Conoscere” and serve a function as much necessary as grooving, but one way or the other, you’re headed to “Systema Munditotius,” where forward and backward are the same thing and the only trajectory discernible is “out there.” So go. Just go. You won’t regret it.

Unimother 27 on Facebook

Pineal Gland Lab website

 

Oxblood Forge, Decimator

Oxblood Forge Decimator

Not, not, not a coincidence that Massachusetts four-piece Oxblood Forge — vocalist Ken Mackay, guitarist Robb Lioy, bassist Greg Dellaria and drummer/keyboardist Erik Fraünfeltër — include an Angel Witch cover on their third long-player, Decimator, as even before they get around to the penultimate “Sorcerers,” the NWOBHM is a defining influence throughout the proceedings, be it the “hey hey hey!” chanting of “Mortal Salience” or the death riders owning the night on opener “Into the Abyss” or the sheer Maidenry met with doom tinge on “Screams From Silence.” Mackay‘s voice, high in the mix, adds a tinge of grit, but Decimator isn’t trying to get one over on anyone. This blue collar worship for classic metal presented in a manner that could only be as full-on as it is for it to work at all. No irony, no khakis, no bullshit.

Oxblood Forge on Facebook

Oxblood Forge on Bandcamp

 

Wall, Vol. 2

wall vol 2

They keep this up, they’re going to have a real band on their hands. Desert Storm/The Grand Mal bandmates and twin brothers Ryan Cole (guitar/bass) and Elliot Cole (drums) began Wall as a largely-instrumental quarantine project in 2020, issuing a self-titled EP (review here) on APF Records. Vol. 2 follows on the quick with five more cuts of unbridled groove, including a take on Karma to Burn‘s “Nineteen” that, if it needs to be said, serves as homage to Will Mecum, who passed away earlier this year. That song fits right in with a cruncher like “Avalanche” or “Speed Freak,” or even “The Tusk,” which also boasts a bit of layered guitar harmonies, feeling out new ground there and in the acousti-handclap-blues of “Falling From the Edge of Nowhere.” The fact that Wall have live dates booked — alongside The Grand Mal, no less — speaks further to their real-bandness, but Vol. 2 hardly leaves any doubt as it is.

Wall on Facebook

APF Records website

 

Boozewa, Deb

Boozewa Deb

The second self-recorded outing from Pennsylvania trio Boozewa, Deb, offers two songs to follow-up on Feb. 2021’s First Contact (review here) demo, keeping an abidingly raw, we-did-this-at-home feel — this time they sent the results to Tad Doyle for mastering — while pushing their sound demonstrably forward with “Deb” bringing bassist Jessica Baker to the fore vocally alongside drummer Mike Cummings. Guitarist Rylan Caspar contributes in that regard as well, and the results are admirably grunge-coated heavy rock and roll that let enough clarity through to establish a hook, while the shorter “Now. Stop.” edges toward a bit more lumber in its groove, at least until they punk it out with some shouts at the finish. Splitting hairs? You betcha. Maybe they’re just writing songs. The results are there waiting to be dug either way.

Boozewa on Instagram

Boozewa on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Howling Giant, Rose City Band, The Tazers, Kavrila, Gateway, Bala, Tremor Ama, The Crooked Whispers, No Stone, Firefriend

Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

You know what? We’re through the first week of the Quarterly Review as of this post. Not too bad. I feel like it’s been smooth going so far to such a degree that I’m even thinking about adding an 11th day comprised purely of releases that came my way this week and will invariably come in next week too. Crazy, right? Bonus day QR. We’ll see if I get there, but I’m thinking about it. That alone should tell you something.

But let me not get ahead of myself. Day five commence.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Howling Giant, Alteration

howling giant alteration

Let the story be that when the pandemic hit, Nashville’s Howling Giant took to the airwaves to provide comfort, character and a bit of ‘home’ — if one thinks of live performance as home — to their audience. With a steady schedule of various live streams on Twitch, some playing music, some playing D&D, the band engaged their listenership in a new and exciting way, finding a rare bright point in one of the darkest years of recent history. Alteration, a crisp four-song/20-minute EP, is born out of those streamed jams, with songs named by the band’s viewers/listeners — kudos to whoever came up with “Luring Alluring Rings” — and, being entirely instrumental from a band growing more and more focused on vocal arrangements, sound more like they’re on their way to being finished than are completely done. However, that’s also the point of the release, essentially to showcase unfinished works in progress that have emerged in a manner that nobody expected. It is another example from last year-plus that proves the persistence of creativity, and is all the more beautiful for that.

Howling Giant on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

 

Rose City Band, Earth Trip

Rose City Band Earth Trip

Vaguely lysergic, twanging with a non-chestbeating or jingoistic ’70s American singer-songwriter feel, Rose City Band‘s Earth Trip brings sentiment without bitterness in its songs, engaging as the title hints with nature in songs like “Silver Roses,” “In the Rain,” “Lonely Planes,” “Ramblin’ with the Day,” “Rabbit” and “Dawn Patrol.” An outlet for Ripley Johnson, also of Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo, the “band” isn’t so much in Rose City Band, but there is some collaboration — pedal steel here and there, as on “Ramblin’ with the Day” — though it’s very much Johnson‘s own craft and performance at the core of this eight-song set. This is the third Rose City Band long-player in three years, but quickly as it may have come about, the tracks never feel rushed — hushed, if anything — and Johnson effectively casts himself in among the organic throughout the proceedings, making the listener feel nothing if not welcome to join the ramble.

Rose City Band on Facebook

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

The Tazers, Dream Machine

The Tazers Dream Machine

Johannesburg, South Africa’s The Tazers are suited to a short-release format, as their Dream Machine EP shows, bringing together four tracks with psychedelic precociousness and garage rock attitude to spare, with just an edge of classic heavy to keep things grooving. Their latest work opens with its languid and lysergic title-track, which sets up the shove of “Go Away” and the shuffle in “Lonely Road” — both under three and a half minutes long, with nary a wasted second in them, despite sounding purposefully like tossoffs — and the latter skirts the line of coming undone, but doesn’t, of course, but in the meantime sets up the almost proto-New Wave in the early going on “Around Town,” only later to give way to the band’s most engaging melody and a deceptively patient, gentle finish, which considering some of the brashness in the earlier tracks is a surprise. A pleasant one, though, and not the first the three-piece have brought forth by the time they get to the end of Dream Machine‘s ultra-listenable 16-minute run.

The Tazers on Facebook

The Tazers on Soundcloud

 

Kavrila, Rituals III

Kavrila Rituals III

Pressed in an ultra-limited edition of 34 tapes (the physical version also has a bonus track), Kavrila‘s Rituals III brings together about 16 minutes of heavy hardcore and post-hardcore, a thickened undertone giving something of a darker mood to the crunch of “Equality” as guitars are layered in subtly in a higher register, feeding into the urgency without competing with the drums or vocals. Opener “Sunday” works at more of a rush while “Longing” has more of a lurch at least to its outset before gradually elbowing its way into a more careening groove, but the bridge being built is between sludge and hardcore, and while the four-piece aren’t the first to build it, they do well here. If we’re picking highlights, closer “Elysium” has deft movement, intensity and atmosphere in kind, and still features a vocal rawness that pushes the emotional crux between the verses and choruses to make the transitions that much smoother. The ending fades out early behind those shouts, leaving the vocals stranded, calling out the song’s title into a stark emptiness.

Kavrila on Facebook

The Chinaskian Conspiracy on Bandcamp

 

Gateway, Flesh Reborn

gateway flesh reborn

Brutal rebirth. Robin Van Oyen is the lone figure behind Bruges, Belgium-based death-doom outfit Gateway, and Flesh Reborn is his first EP in three years. Marked out with guest guitar solos by M., the four-track/25-minute offering keeps its concentration on atmosphere as much as raw punishment, and while one would be correct to call it ‘extreme’ in its purpose and execution, its deathliest aspects aren’t just the growling vocals or periods of intense blast, but the wash of distortion that lays over the offering as a whole, from “Hel” through “Slumbering Crevasses,” the suitably twisting, later lurching “Rack Crawler” and the grandeur-in-filth 12-minute closing title-track, at which point the fullness of the consumption is revealed at last. Unbridled as it seems, this material is not without purpose and is not haphazard. It is the statement it intends to be, and its depths are shown to be significant as Van Oyen pulls you further down into them with each passing moment, finally leaving you there amid residual drone.

Gateway on Facebook

Chaos Records website

 

Bala, Maleza

Bala Maleza

Admirably punk in its dexterity, Bala‘s debut album, Maleza, arrives as a nine-track pummelfest from the Spanish duo of guitarist/vocalist Anx and drummer/vocalist V., thickened with sludgy intent and aggression to spare. The starts and stops of opener “Agitar” provide a noise-rock-style opening that hints at the tonal push to come throughout “Hoy No” — the verse melody of which seems to reinvent The Bangles — while the subsequent “X” reaches into greater breadth, vocals layered effectively as a preface perhaps to the later grunge of “Riuais,” which arrives ahead of the swaggering riff and harsh sneer of “Bessie” the lumbering finale “Una Silva.” Whether brooding in “Quieres Entrar” or explosive in its shove in “Cien Obstaculos,” Maleza offers stage-style energy with clarity of vision and enough chaos to make the anger feel genuine. There’s apparently some hype behind Bala, and fair enough, but this is legitimately one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in 2021.

Bala on Facebook

Century Media Records website

 

Tremor Ama, Beneath

Tremor Ama Beneath

French prog-fuzz five-piece Tremor Ama make a coherent and engaging debut with Beneath, a first full-length following up a 2017 self-titled EP release. Spacious guitar leads the way through the three-minute intro “Ab Initio” and into the subsequent “Green Fire,” giving a patient launch to the outing, the ensuing four songs of which grow shorter as they go behind that nine-minute “Green Fire” stretch. There’s room for ambience and intensity both in centerpiece “Eclipse,” with vocals echoing out over the building second half, and both “Mirrors” and “Grey” offer their moments of surge as well, the latter tapping into a roll that should have fans of Forming the Void nodding both to the groove and in general approval. Effectively tipping the balance in their sound over the course of the album as a whole, Tremor Ama showcase an all-the-more thoughtful approach in this debut, and at 30 minutes, they still get out well ahead of feeling overly indulgent or losing sight of their overarching mission.

Tremor Ama on Facebook

Tremor Ama on Bandcamp

 

The Crooked Whispers, Dead Moon Night

The Crooked Whispers Dead Moon Night

Delivered on multiple formats including as a 12″ vinyl through Regain Records offshoot Helter Skelter Productions, the bleary cultistry of The Crooked Whispers‘ two-songer Dead Moon Night also finds the Los Angeles-based outfit recently picked up by Ripple Music. If it seems everybody wants a piece of The Crooked Whispers, that’s fair enough for the blend of murk, sludge and charred devil worship the foursome offer with “Hail Darkness” and the even more gruesome “Galaxy of Terror,” taking the garage-doom rawness of Uncle Acid and setting against a less Beatlesian backdrop, trading pop hooks for classic doom riffing on the second track, flourishing in its misery as it is. At just 11 minutes long — that’s less than a minute for each inch of the vinyl! — Dead Moon Night is a grim forecast of things to come for the band’s deathly revelry, already showcased too on last year’s debut, Satanic Whispers (review here).

The Crooked Whispers on Facebook

Regain Records on Bandcamp

 

No Stone, Road into the Darkness

No Stone Road into the Darkness

Schooled, oldschool doom rock for denim-clad heads as foggy as the distortion they present, No Stone‘s debut album, Road into the Darkness, sounds like they already got there. The Rosario, Argentina, trio tap into some Uncle Acid-style garage doom vibes on “The Frayed Endings,” but the crash is harder, and the later 10-minute title-track delves deeper into psychedelia and grunge in kind, resulting in an overarching spirit that’s too weird to be anything but individual, however mmuch it might still firmly reside within the tenets of “cult.” If you were the type to chase down a patch, you might want to chase down a No Stone patch, as “Devil Behind” makes its barebones production feel like an aesthetic choice to offset the boogie to come in “Shadow No More,” and from post-intro opener “Bewitched” to the long fade of “The Sky is Burning,” No Stone balance atmosphere and songcraft in such a way as to herald future progress along this morose path. Maybe they are just getting on the road into the darkness, but they seem to be bringing that darkness with them on the way.

No Stone on Facebook

Ruidoteka Records on Bandcamp

 

Firefriend, Dead Icons

Firefriend Dead Icons

Dead Icons is the sixth full-length from Brazilian psychedelic outfit Firefriend, and throughout its 10 songs and 44 minutes, the band proffer marked shoegaze-style chill and a sense of space, fuzzy and molten in “Hexagonal Mess,” more desert-hued in “Spin,” jangly and out for a march on “Ongoing Crash.” “Home or Exile” takes on that question with due reach, and “Waves” caps with organ alongside the languid guitar, but moments like “Tomorrow” are singular and gorgeous, and though “Three Dimensional Sound Glitch” and “666 Fifth Avenue” border on playful, there’s an overarching melancholy to the flow, as engaging as it is. In its longest pieces — “Tomorrow” (6:05) and “One Thousand Miles High” (5:08) — the “extra” time is well spent in extending the trio’s reach, and while it’s safe to assume that six self-recorded LPs later, Firefriend know what they want to do with their sound, that thing feels amorphous, fleeting, transient somehow here, like a moving target. That speaks to ongoing growth, and is just one of Dead Icons‘ many strengths.

Firefriend on Facebook

Cardinal Fuzz store

Little Cloud Records store

 

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Quarterly Review: Papir, Kosmodemonic, Steve Von Till, Sex Blender, Déhà, Thunder Horse, Rebreather, Melmak, Astral Magic, Crypt Monarch

Posted in Reviews on July 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Day two already, huh? It’s a holiday week here in the States, which means people are on vacation or have at least enjoyed a long weekend hopefully without blowing any body parts off with fireworks or whatnot. For me, I prefer the day on rather than the day off, so we proceeded as normal yesterday in beginning the Quarterly Review. “We now return to our regularly scheduled,” and so on.

There’s a lot of good stuff here, as one would hope, and since we’re still basically at the start of this doublewide edition of the Quarterly Review — 10 down, 90 to go — I won’t delay further. Thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Papir, Jams

papir jams

Two sessions, three days apart, three pieces from each, resulting in six tracks running just about 80 minutes that Papir are only within their rights to have titled simply as Jams. With this outing, the Copenhagen-based psychedelic trio present their process at its most nakedly exploratory. I don’t know if they had any parts pre-planned when they went into the studio, but the record brims with spontaneity, drums jazzing out behind shimmering guitar and steadily grooving basslines. Effects are prevalent and add to the spaciousness, and the sessions from whence these songs came, whether it’s the key-led four-minute “20.01.2020 #2” or the 20-minute opener “17.01.2020 #1” — all tracks sharing the same date-and-number format as regards titles — feel vibrant and fluid in a way that goes beyond even the hazy hypnotics of “20.01.2020 #3.” Papir‘s instrumental dynamic is of course a huge part of what they do anyway, but to hear their chemistry come through in freer fashion as it does here can only be refreshing. I hope they do more like this.

Papir on Facebook

Stickman Records website

 

Kosmodemonic, Liminal Light

Kosmodemonic Liminal Light

Brooklyn outfit Kosmodemonic exist almost exclusively within genre border regions. Their second album, Liminal Light, fosters an approach that’s too considered not to be called progressive, but that owes as much to the cosmic doom of YOB as to black metal as to noise rock as to Voivod as to any number of other various ores in the metallic sphere. In their sprinting moments or in the consuming dark grandeur of centerpiece “Ipomoea,” they are pointedly individual, and cuts like “Drown in Drone” and the later slammer “Brown Crown” owe much to sheer impact as to the cerebral underpinnings of their angularity. Liminal Light is vicious but methodical, and feels executed with a firm desire to catch the audience sleeping and then blindside them with a change, be it in moving from one song to another or within one song itself, like when the penultimate “Chains of Goddess Grove” rears back from its lurching movement and spews thrashier fire in its final minute. Put these moments together and you get a record that challenges on multiple levels and is unflinchingly worth the effort of close engagement.

Kosmodemonic on Facebook

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp

 

Steve Von Till, A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

Steve Von Till A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

The sixth solo offering from Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till is a first for being completely instrumental. The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — goes that Von Till wrote the music for 2020’s No Wilderness Deep Enough (review here) late during jetlagged nights alone on his wife’s family’s property in Germany, where her family has lived for 500 years, only to later be convinced by producer Randall Dunn to write lyrics and record vocals for the songs. A Deep Voiceless Wilderness, as the title hints, pulls those vocals back out of these re-named pieces, allowing elements like the quiet textures of keyboard and piano, horns and mellotrons to shine through in atmospheric fashion, layers of drone intertwining in mostly peaceful fashion. It is the least guitar-based record Von Till has ever done, and allows for a new kind of minimalism to surface along with an immersive melodic hum. Subdued, meditative, exploratory, kind of wonderful.

Steve Von Till website

Neurot Recordings store

 

Sex Blender, Studio Session I

Sex Blender Studio Session I

Based in Lviv, Ukraine, instrumentalist krautrock bizarros Sex Blender have two full-lengths behind them, and Studio Session I takes the consumingly fuzzed “Diver” from 2018’s Hormonizer and three cuts from 2020’s The Second Coming and turns them into a stirring 44-minute set captured on video for a livestream. Reportedly some of the arrangements are different, as will certainly happen, but as someone being introduced to the band through this material, it’s easy to be struck by the palpable sense of glee with which Sex Blender present their songs. “Crimson Master” is the shortest of the bunch at just over six minutes — it’s the only one under 11 — but even there, the manipulated keyboard sounds, drum fluidity and undercurrent of rumbling distortion push Sex Blender into a place that’s neither doom nor prog but draws from both, crawling where the subsequent “Rave Spritz” can’t help but bounce with its motorik drums and intertwined synth lines. May just be a live session, but they shine all the same.

Sex Blender on Facebook

Drone Rock Records website

 

Déhà, Cruel Words

Déhà Cruel Words

Déhà‘s third long-player Cruel Words was originally issued in 2019 and is seeing a first vinyl pressing on Burning World Records. The Brussels solo outfit has released no fewer than 17 other full-length outings — possibly more, depending on what counts as what — in the two years since these songs initially surfaced, but, well, one has to start someplace. The 2LP runs 75 minutes and includes bonus tracks — an acoustic version of opener “I Am Mine to Break,” a cover of The Gathering‘s “Saturnine” and the piano-into-post-metal “Comfort Me II” — but the highlights are on the album itself, such as the make-Amenra-blush 12-minute crux of “Dead Butterflies,” wherein a lung-crushing weight is given patient drama through its prominent keyboard layers, or the goth early going of “Pain is a Wasteland,” which seems to brood until it finally can’t take it anymore and bashes its head (and yours) into the wall. Surprisingly methodical for the manic pace at which Déhà (né Olmo Lipani) works, it makes artistry of its arrangement as well as performance and is willfully overwhelming, but engaging in that.

Déhà on Facebook

Burning World Records website

 

Thunder Horse, Chosen One

Thunder Horse Chosen One

Big riffs, big grooves, big hooks, Thunder Horse‘s second long-player, Chosen One, sees the San Antonio, Texas, outfit inherit some aspects from the members’ past outfits, whether it’s the semi-industrial vocal style of Stephen Bishop on “Among the Dead” or the classically shredding solo work of Todd Connally. With Dave Crow on bass and Jason “Shakes” West on drums, Thunder Horse elbow their way into a nod quickly on Chosen One and hold their ground decisively, with Dehumanizer-esque tones and flourish of keys throughout that closes in lead position on the outro “Remembrance” in complement to the strumming, whistling “Texas” a short while earlier. Even when they shuffle, as on the second half of “Song for the Ferryman,” Thunder Horse do it heavy, and as they did with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), they make it hard to argue, either with the atmosphere or the sheer lumber of their output. An easy record to dig for the converted.

Thunder Horse on Facebook

Ripple Music website

 

Rebreather, Pets / Orange Crush

Rebreather Pets Orange Crush

Heads up children of — or children of children of — the 1990s, as Youngstown, Ohio’s Rebreather effectively reinterpret and heavy up two of that decade’s catchiest hooks in Porno for Pyros‘ “Pets” and R.E.M.‘s “Orange Crush.” Taking songs that, if they ever left your head from rock radio, will certainly be right back in there now, and trying to put their own spin on them is ambitious, but Rebreather have no trouble slowing down the already kinda languid “Pets” or emphasizing the repetitive urgency of “Orange Crush,” and the tonal weight they bring to both honors the original versions as well as who Rebreather are as a band, while showcasing the band’s heretofore undervalued melodies, with call and response vocal lines in both cuts nodding to their sludge/noise rock roots while moving forward from there. They chose the songs well, if nothing else, and though it’s only about 10 minutes between the two cuts, as the first new Rebeather material since their 2018 self-titled EP (discussed here), I’ll take the two covers happily.

Rebreather on Facebook

Aqualamb Records website

 

Melmak, Down the Underground

Melmak Down the Underground

Spanish duo Melmak — guitarist/vocalist Jonan Etxebarria and drummer/vocalist Igor Etxebarria — offer an awaited follow-up to their 2016 long-player Prehistorical (review here) and demonstrate immediately that five years has not dulled their aggressive tendencies. Opener “Black Room” is a minute-long grindfest, and though “Scum” finds its way into a sludgy groove, it’s not far behind. “Poser” starts out as a piano ballad but turns to its own crushing roll, while “The Scene” rumbles out its lurch, “You Really Don’t Care” samples a crying baby over a sad piano line and “Ass Kisser” offers knee-to-the-face bruiser riffing topped with echoing gutturalism that carries the intensity into the seven-minute, more spacious “Jaundiced,” which gives itself over to extremity in its second half as well, and the closing noise wash of “The Crew.” What we learn from all this is it would seem Melmak find the heavy underground wanting in violent terms. They answer that call in bludgeoning fashion.

Melmak on Facebook

Melmak on Bandcamp

 

Astral Magic, Visions of Infinity

Astral Magic Visions of Infinity

Ostensibly a solo-project from Dark Sun bassist Santtu Laakso, Astral Magic‘s debut LP, Visions of Infinity, features contributions from guitarist Martin Weaver (Wicked Lady, Doctors of Space) and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (Doctors of Space, Øresund Space Collective), as well as Samuli Sailo on ukulele, and has been mixed and mastered and released by Heller, so perhaps the plot thickens as regards just how much of band it is. Nonetheless, Astral Magic have all the cosmos to work with, so there’s plenty of room for everybody, as Visions of Infinity harnesses classic Hawkwindian space rock and is unafraid to add droning mysticism to the ever-outward procession on “Ancient Mysteries” or “Onboard the Spaceship,” to grow playful on “I Was Abducted” or bask in cosmic serenity on “Winds of Time” and “Wizards.” Off we go, into the greater reaches of “out there.” It’s a fun ride.

Astral Magic on Facebook

Space Rock Productions website

 

Crypt Monarch, The Necronaut

Crypt Monarch The Necronaut

Costa Rican trio Crypt Monarch offer their debut full-length in the form of the three-song/36-minute The Necronaut, the sound of which makes the claim on the part of the band — bassist/vocalist Christopher De Haan, guitarist Jose Rodriguez, drummer/vocalist J.C. Zuñiga — that it was made live in a cabin in the woods easy enough to believe. Though mixed and mastered, the 15-minute opener “Morning Star Through Skull” (15:41) and ensuing rollers “Rex Meridionalis” (10:12) and “Aglaphotis” (10:08) maintain a vigilant rawness, laced with noise even as De Haan and Zuñiga come together vocally on the latter, clean singing and gurgles alike. It is stoner metal taken to a logical and not entirely unfamiliar extreme, but the murk in which Crypt Monarch revel is dense and easy to get lost within. This, more than any single riff or lumbering groove, speaks to the success of the band’s intention in crafting the record. There is no clearly marked exit.

Crypt Monarch on Facebook

Electric Valley Records website

 

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Cowboys & Aliens Premiere “Morbid Orbit” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 24th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

cowboys and aliens morbid orbit still

Images of landmarks as dust and rubble amid a pockmarked earth and devastated, re-shaped continents should be familiar enough to anyone who’s spent time amid the History Channel’s sundry apocalypse-porn CGI specials about major impacts, and yeah, there’s definitely a certain catharsis watching a giant asteroid looming above this pale blue dot waiting to unleash firestorms and nuclear winter to speed up the mass extinction that mankind seems so bent on perpetuating. Ka-boom, and all that.

In Cowboys & Aliens‘ new video for “Morbid Orbit,” the story seems to be of the aftermath of same — no breathable air, humanity hunkered down, survival in question. We see a lone figure staggering, people emerging from some kind of bunker to witness the wrecked landscape under a dirty sky. I feel like we’re due a really good end-of-the-world movie. It’s been a while, right? There were a ton for a while there. Everything’s comic books now. Maybe the thing to make is an end-of-the-world comic book.

Either way, amid Cowboys & Aliens — whose most recent full-length was 2019’s Horses of Rebellion (review here) — celebrating 25 years as a band, they’ve released “Morbid Orbit” as part of the Polderrecords compilation, PolderRiffs Vol. II, and they can be seen in the video witnessing the end of definitely-most things with various skyscrapers in the background, among them London’s Strata SE1 with its telltale windmills integrated into the top of its construction.

The message there? Maybe that humanity pretending to give a crap about the environment was too little too late, or moot anyway? Or maybe it’s just a cool looking futuristic building, which, frankly, is legit. Presumably when the tsunamis come, that’ll be the final say on that as well.

The good news, aside from the fact that all that havoc looks awesome in 4K, is the song is also catchy as hell and broadly spacious enough to encompass most of the video’s nine minutes. Cowboys & Aliens lead off PolderRiffs Vol. II and share time there with Wheel of SmokeCavaran and others, and they’re well positioned to represent Belgium’s heavy rock underground in both its history and how they’ve grown into their style over the years since they made their full-length debut with 1998’s League of Fools.

Though I suppose the perspective there might be somewhat aligned. It’s still ‘always this and that,’ but sometimes “that” is a big rock taking out the whole planet in one go. These things happen.

So enjoy!

Cowboys & Aliens, “Morbid Orbit” official video premiere

Legendary stoner outfit Cowboys & Aliens from Belgium are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year!

They are currently writing and recording new songs for a new album due early 2022, but for the occasion they have finished one song completely, it’s featured on a vinyl exclusive compilation: POLDERRIFFS that was released on Record Store Day June 12th.

Various Artists, Polderriffs Vol. II (2021)

Cowboys & Aliens on Bandcamp

Cowboys & Aliens on Thee Facebooks

Polderrecords website

Polderrecords on Thee Facebooks

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Down the Hill 2021: Monomyth, Psychonaut, Grotto and More Playing

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

An outdoor all-dayer fest in Belgium? Boy that takes me back. Remember when stuff like that used to happen on the planet where we lived, and you almost kind of took it for granted because, hell, it was Europe, and surely the next weekend there would also be a killer festival happening somewhere, pretty much year-round, in and out of “festival season,” which was well on its way to becoming a four-season phenomenon.

What’s that you say? This isn’t an announcement from two years ago, but something actually happening in the future? The near future? And it might actually be happening? And Monomyth are playing? Well hell’s bells, I’m not even sure how to feel about that. Good, I guess.

Wonder who the mystery act is here. They’re Dutch. Splinter maybe? Temple Fang? Someone who can’t say their name for fear of being stopped at the border, maybe — mind you I have no idea if such travel restrictions are in place. Would be nice to see the guys from Supersonic Blues getting out. I have no idea, but it’s fun to guess. Name a Dutch band. Maybe it’s them.

Down the Hill‘s announcement is so long it’s like it’s trying to make up for lost time. Have at it:

down the hill 2021 poster

Hi Psych, fuzz and riff lovers! Are you ready?

We are! But first…

For the moment there are still no clear government regulations about festivals our size for the end of August.

We believe Down The Hill can only take place when there are no bubbles, no 1,5m regulations, a big fireplace to hang in the evening or night, big hugs now and then, well you get the idea. So, let’s wait and see. Things will get clear soon!

But for now we organize the festival as it would be a normal year!

If it seems to become not possible this way in the coming months, we will postpone it again till next year. All tickets will be fully refunded in this case, so don’t hesitate to get your ticket(s)! We believe in it!
And now… something you’re all been waiting for…

Here it is, Down The Hill 2021 Line-up!

We open the day with the Bad Slaves, this 4 piece rock band from Bekkevoort inspired by the great rockbands from the 60’s and 70’s. Never the less, they remain children of their time. They have a passion for tube amps, wide open drums and passionate vocals. Their songs blend heavy riffs with gentle and sometimes psychedelic wandering. It ain’t stoner, heavy blues, loudrock, garage or hardrock, it’s a bit of all of that.

Next in line is Grotto, they are a young three-piece instrumental band from Belgium whose music draws from all corners of the rock universe, weaving a fabric of sound both familiar and otherworldly. Founded by friends Marvin Dinneweth, Jeroen Moerman and Arno Tucker Cottyn in the 2010s, the group released two LPs in quick succession before landing at Stickman for their upcoming third record.

The building blocks of Grotto’s sound could be described as riffs, as they are heavy, groovy and dense; yet the band relies on open chords, spacious sounds and jangly tones that give their music a unique voice in the heavy rock world. Working in long song formats usually exceeding 10 minutes, their songs bloom and evolve in non-traditional form, leaning more towards progressive and post rock than stoner and doom.

Grotto joined Stickman in 2019 with their third LP Lantern of Gius, an ambitious 2-track album that propelled them to new standing in the heavy psychedelic music scene.

Then it’s time for a surprise act, for now, all we can tell you is: They are from the Netherlands.

Next on stage: HEISA, rarely has a band had a more fitting name, three grounded blokes from Limburg with musical gold in their hands.

Possessed yet measured. Uneasy yet mesmerising. Disorienting yet catchy. HEISA is all of these things and preferably at the same time. In the best tradition of unconventional bands ranging from Tool across Battles to Warpaint, Jacques Nomdefamille (also Peuk), Koen Castermans and Jonathan Frederix have forged ten songs that run the gamut from surprise and enchantment to castigation.

On their maiden full-length ‘joni’, HEISA plays around with rhythms, atmospheres and keyboards while choosing their moments to break the painstakingly constructed tension with punishing guitars and waves of distortion. The vocals do not monopolise the listener’s attention but instead complement the other instruments. The result is an entirely unique sound.

On the road HEISA leaves a trail of destruction in its wake. Their live shows are exciting, surprising, slightly theatrical and explore the boundaries of the humanly bearable. Those who have had the privilege of seeing HEISA live become a fan once the experience has had the chance to sink in.

‘Let Go’, the first single off ‘joni’, met with rave reviews and was picked up by radio station Studio Brussel/Eigen Kweek and by indie station Pinguin Radio (NL).

Pothamus will guide us into the evening with heavy walls of sound. They consists of three gentlemen from Mechelen who managed to impress with their energetic live performances over the years. In keeping with their big brother Amenra’s style, they opt for minimal interaction with the audience and let the music speak for itself. Let yourself be carried away in a dark universe of thin drones supported by Spartan drum rolls, ferocious bass sounds and repetitive guitar parts with conjuring, psalm-like vocals in the background. It sounds like a whole sandwich, but one that is smeared with the right ingredients for the added value seeker and lover of mood setting in music.

At the end of 2019, the gentlemen went to the Ardennes forests to work on the first full-fledged record called Raya. For fifty minutes we get monolithic walls of sound interspersed with the atmosphere of desolate landscapes and esoteric moods. In terms of production, the drum is at the forefront to hit the tribal tones on songs like Orath and Raya. They are the strongest and longest songs of the album, where ample time was taken to allow the aforementioned elements to interact with each other. In the mix, the ethereal vocals were just echoed in the background, which makes it seem that the band was singing psalms in a church. Concepts that are regularly performed live at Consouling Sounds and that often turn concerts into unique experiences. In addition to the drums, the bass guitar also gets its prominent place in the mix to emphasize the drum lines and the threatening atmospheres.

The song Viso scored a very nice 62nd place in Studio Brussel’s heaviest list. Ow, and Orath at number 462 and Raya at place 553! Not bad at ALL guys!

Let’s keep it in the neighbourhood with PSYCHONAUT! Also a psychedelic post-metal collective from Mechelen, Belgium. Their signature sound is heavily influenced by 70’s bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, but also draws inspiration from more modern sources like Tool and Amenra.

Even though the band only consists of a traditional three-piece line-up, they are known to deliver a constantly compelling live show that grabs you by the throat from the first second to the last. Contrast and variation are the two main anchors on which they base their musical ideas.

Raw, convincing and designed to create a perpetually fascinating experience, often combining their wall of sound with intense visual landscapes and light shows by like-minded artists.

Since 2013, they have released 2 physical EP’s – ’24 Trips Around the Sun’ (2014) and ‘Ferocious Fellowman’ (2016) – which they have performed live throughout Belgium and The Netherlands. Desertfest, Rock Herk and Putrock are only a few of the stages they have conquered in the past.

Psychonaut has released their debut full album – ‘Unfold The God Man’ – on September 1st, 2018. Recorded by Chiaran Verheyden at the honourable Daft Studios in Malmedy, Unfold The God Man is an intricate concept album dealing with strong philosophical and existential themes, ultimately describing mankind’s re-ascension to a higher level of consciousness. The nearly 70-minute-long album contains material from over 3 years of incessant writing, arranging and recording. In 2019, the band has presented the album live on festivals such as Alcatraz Festival, Rock Herk, Roadkill Festival, Maanrock, Retie Rockt and many more.

‘Unfold The God Man’ has been re-released on Pelagic records to spread this awesome music over the entire world!

Also in 2020 these guys haven’t been sitting still, many live streams, an split EP with Säver on the Pelagic record label, The fall of the consciousness reached a great 26th spot on Studio Brussels, heaviest list.

We end the day with five flying Dutchmen who make the most thrilling instrumental soundscapes. Formed in The Hague in 2011, Monomyth (official) are not afraid to push the boundaries of space / stoner rock. After playing festivals like Roadburn and Desertfest, 2019 sees the band starting a new chapter with their fourth album. On Orbis Quadrantis the band delves into unexplored waters, yet their meticulous open-ended psychedelics remain in-between Ariel Pink and Pink Floyd.

“The road we take always remains undefined. We seek out adventures in new sounds and a new approach. In that respect, this album is very different from our previous work, as it’s much more complete sonically. Consider Orbis Quadrantis to be a shell: hold it up to your ear, and you’ll hear the rustling of the sea.” – Monomyth

Monomyth was founded by drummer Sander Evers and (now ex) bassist Selwyn Slop. In addition, the band consists of Peter van der Meer (keys, guitar), Tjerk Stoop (digital instruments, guitar), guitarist Boudewijn Bonebakker (Gorefest / Gingerpig) and bassist Jason van den Bergh who replaced Selwyn Slop in early 2020.

In September 2013 Monomyth released their untitled first album on Burning World Records. The band switched to Suburban Records where they completed their trilogy with the release of Further (2014) and Exo (2016). Monomyth has toured all over Europe, with festival appearances including Roadburn, Desertfest, Paaspop, Noorderslag and Reeperbahn. At 2016’s Imagine Filmfestival, the band performed a live rescoring during 2014’s 4K restored version of the silent movie and cult-classic Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari.
All this mixed together by three of the best DJ’s around,

COSMIC MASSEUR, you maybe know him from Roadburn or an afterparty at Desertfest?
7 INCHES OF RIFFS AKA MOOS also present at Roadburn, Desertfest, SXSW, Dunajam,…almost everywhere!
And SHAZZULAH, who doesn’t knows her, this is the moment! All three of them will blend these band together each in their unique ways and will take care of the afterparty!

Tickets will be on sale on ONLY on our downthehill.be website. Tickets are provided by event-tickets.

An entrance ticket for Down The Hill 2021 will be €40 pre-sale. If there are still tickets left, €45 at the door.

If you would like to stay at our campingground, please select also a FREE camping ticket.

Tokens can be bought as well, soda or normal beer will be 2 Tokens, heavy beers or wine will be 4 tokens. Also food has to be bought with these tokens.

This year there is also a possibility to support future concerts and the ongoing of the festival by buying an EXTRA support ticket. You will receive our eternal gratitude and love! (However, This will not grant you access to the festival ground, don’t print this ticket at home, it’s useless, unless you like to put it on your wall)

See you all on August 28, 2021!

https://www.facebook.com/DownTheHillFestival/
http://www.downthehill.be/

Monomyth, Orbis Quadrantis (2019)

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Psychonaut & SÂVER Post Emerald Studio Playthroughs From Roadburn Redux

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 24th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

saver stream

psychonaut stream

Psychonaut and SÂVER‘s Emerald split LP (review here) is out now on Pelagic Records. Both bands last month took part in their label’s showcase for Roadburn Redux, each one with a prior-filmed performance of their respective piece from the split. For Belgium’s Psychonaut, “The Great Realisation” broadened their reach in terms of sound, and “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” did much the same for Norway’s SÂVER, the two bands alike in a forward-thinking mindset if not directly sharing a ton of elements sound-wise beyond perhaps falling under the catchall of “heavy.”

So be it. Various Roadburn Redux streams have started to surface and be made public — Tau‘s was posted here not so long ago — and the arrival of these two clips is another chance to revisit what was for me a highlight of the weekend’s viewing. So I’m doing that. If you’ve not yet caught wind of Emerald, consider this an opportunity to be engaged in a fully multimedia fashion, and if you’ve heard the two extended pieces that make up the LP and not yet seen these videos, well, the argument for watching makes itself. If you caught this during Roadburn Redux, same applies. You don’t need me to tell you this is worth hitting up.

The bands offer stories behind their works below. I hoisted it from the Pelagic YouTube posts just because I thought it makes interesting reading and six years from now I’ll probably want to refer back to it or something. I’m like that sometimes.

Enjoy:

SA?VER, “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” studio playthrough

Psychonaut, “The Great Realisation” studio playthrough

PSYCHONAUT – The Great Realisation

The Great Realisation represents the start of both an individual and a collective awakening. As we slowly watch our world change to the point where it may actually become uninhabitable for our species, we start to question the story of the world and realise that it may be time for a new story. It continues where the concept of Unfold the God Man left off, which was mostly centered around the recognition of our higher potential as individuals. The Great Realisation is the next step in the transition towards a new collective experience. It functions as a bridge between UTGM and our next album.

The story is narrated in 5 chapters which are based on a psychedelic experience. The protagonist encounters an entity that feels like Mother Earth who reveals the secrets of the universe to him. He enters a euphoric state in which he deconstructs his notion of self, leading him into an unknown yet blissful state of consciousness. However, not knowing what to do with this experience and this information, he loses all connection and is sent into the void. With all his might, he tries to retrieve his anchor to reality, condemning the entity that gave him this experience.

This release is by far the most elaborate production we have ever done. We recorded tons of extra percussion overdubs in Motormusic studio, added additional layers using a Morin Khuur, a 12-string acoustic, violins, didgeridoos, timpani, throat singing, choir vocals etc. To us, this feels like the most creative piece of songwriting we’ve ever done. We knew this would be released as a single track but we still wanted to make it sound like it was a short album or an EP, creating the experience of a bigger story by using different chapters. Doing all of this during a global pandemic was definitely challenging but we are very happy that we managed to find a safe way to record this massive composition without any compromises.

SÂVER – Dimensions Lost, Obscured By Aeons

Needless to say, this piece of music is a result of the weird and uncertain condition we’ve all been living in for the last year. Following a sudden and chaotic journey back home from Hungary after everything got cancelled mid-tour in March 2020, we found ourselves back in our rehearsal space with clean sheets and a society on hold. This allowed us to dive deeper into the sonic landscapes we ?d been wanting to explore, with a strange and somewhat greater sense of calm.

As a natural continuation of «They Came With Sunlight», we were intrigued by cinematic and electronic soundscapes, leaning heavy on atmosphere and mood as much as our heartfelt desire for the more extreme. To always challenge ourselves as musicians, and push the boundaries for what we are capable of as a unit, is a direct consequence of trying to capture what resonates within ourselves.

The pandemic caused harm, but it also granted time.

Ole Rokseth took this time and translated it to magic, giving birth to the first half «Dimensions Lost» with his arsenal of synthesizers recorded in different studios around Oslo. The contrast to the latter half «Obscured by Aeons», the dissonance between the soft and eerie and the furious anger, is a reflection of the key element we want to incorporate in our sound. The void between darkness and light. Ole Rokseth’s extended use of clean vocals gives SÂVER the power to emphasize this even more on «Emerald».

Psychonaut on Facebook

Psychonaut on Instagram

Psychonaut on Bandcamp

SÂVER on Facebook

SÂVER on Instagram

SÂVER on Bandcamp

Pelagic Records website

Pelagic Records on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Instagram

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Psychonaut & SÂVER, Emerald

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Psychonaut SAVER Emerald Split LP

[Click play above to stream Psychonaut and SÂVER’s Emerald split LP in full. It’s out Friday, May 14, on Pelagic Records.]

In another context, one might think of a split release like Emerald coming from a punk rock label as a seven-inch record, one band per side with about three minutes each to showcase their wares as a sampler from what the imprint considers promising bands. It’s by no means a new idea, however it came about in the instance of Psychonaut and SÂVER, for two up and coming trios on the same label — Pelagic Records in this case, so yes, we’re talking more than three minutes each for sure — to come together and share a release, and as each boast a deeply atmospheric take on post-style heavy and a sonic reach that seems to be expanding in real-time throughout the two side-long cuts here included, they make fitting companions.

Psychonaut, from Mechelen, Belgium — E19 runs right through it going north from Brussels to Antwerp; Saint Rumbold’s Cathedral is there — made their full-length debut in 2020 with Unfold the God Man on Pelagic, following two EPs with an exploration of concept and sound alike that situated them at some remove from the foundation of European post-metal. One tends to think of countrymen Amenra as the point of influence there, but it’s by no means just them, and Psychonaut‘s aesthetic proves to be less directly about pairing harsh and ambient elements together rather than finding the point at which ideas might meet and fleshing them out organically. Their 16-minute “The Great Realisation” complements well the 19-minute “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” from Oslo’s SÂVER.

For the Norwegian three-piece, their inclusion follows their own debut long-player, They Came with Sunlight (review here), released by Pelagic in 2019, and roundly well received for its forward-thinking take on atmosludge and blend between crush and space. Both groups, then, are able to conjure as much breadth as suits. Emerald, in bringing them together, highlights the aspects of style they share as well as the differences between them, while ultimately serving that initial purpose in showcasing the potential from each.

Emerald is the kind of split that is chased down later. True, the first pressing is sold out even before it’s released, so I suppose plenty of heads are chasing it down now, but what I mean is that both bands here have a marked possibility to reach a broader listenership in heavy music than they’ve yet reached, and so it seems likely that there will indeed end up being more than the two pressings when all is said and done.

A gentle strum and foreboding thud begins “The Great Realisation,” which calls to mind some of Neurosis‘ tense ambience — both bands here will have a “Stones From the Sky” moment as regards riff structures — but Psychonaut are underway even before the audience knows it’s being immersed, and within the first 90 seconds, guitarist/vocalist Stefan De Graef, bassist/vocalist Thomas Michiels and drummer Peter Le Page are underway, layering screams and clean vocals over galloping drums and spacious guitars, breaking into angular turns, receding and surging forward again.

psychonaut

saver

They’ve twisted and churned and moved fluidly between loud and quiet multiple times over as they approach the midsection of “The Great Realisation,” but it’s the flow with which they execute their changes that’s most consuming — though the melodic apex they reach at about nine minutes in isn’t to be discounted as far as appeals go either. A more weighted chug follows, by a percussion- and digeridoo-laced stretch of prog metal guitar before Psychonaut draw it back to harsh screams and pounding heft, a semi-blackened assault acting as a prelude to their crescendo of engulfing lumber. As far out as they’ve gone, it’s to their credit that they’re still able to bring it all crashing down in just a few measures, soon drawing back into a residual fade and silence from whence the first hum of SÂVER‘s inclusion picks up.

Between the two songs, “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” is arguably the more patient, at least in its initial unfurling. SÂVER — the returning lineup of guitarist/vocalist Ole Ulvik Rokseth, bassist Ole C. Helstad and drummer Markus Støle — begin with a stretch of cinematic whistling drone, and join it with an electronic beat before the three-minute mark, immediately demonstrating a progression of intent following their debut. The build is gradual and hypnotic and takes place over the next several minutes, drums starting far back before they’re seven minutes in, so really the opening of “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” is a movement unto itself, but when the crush hits at 7:30 — on the dot — there’s little mistaking the intended contrast between float and weight.

The latter takes even fuller hold as SÂVER progress through the midsection of the song, vocals arriving at about 10:30 in screams before giving way to cleaner melodies over a chugging procession. An underlying foundation of noise influence isn’t new for them, but like Psychonaut prior, SÂVER have no trouble finding beauty in the outwardly harsh, and Støle‘s half-time drums only make their nod more engrossing as they march through the track’s back half, hitting into a stop and push 14 minutes in that feels like it might just consume the next five minutes but doesn’t, as the band move through twistier fare before arriving at their own finale of willful plodding, more stretched out than that of Psychonaut but no less elephantine. The bulk of the final minute is given to a curse of feedback and noise, readily mean and backed by static that cuts short to end, because there’s nothing else that needs saying at that point anyway.

So be it. If one thinks of Emerald as setting out to expose new listeners to these bands, then it accomplishes that in enticing fashion and then some. On the level of likewise showcasing the progression of each, it further succeeds. And just as a basic listen, I can’t see any way it’s not one of 2021’s best split releases, given the individualized approaches of SÂVER and Psychonaut and how well they coincide. It is no mystery why they might sell out of the vinyl on preorders, and the overarching story of Emerald is still of two acts defined by their forward potential. It is a story worth hearing.

Psychonaut on Facebook

Psychonaut on Instagram

Psychonaut on Bandcamp

SÂVER on Facebook

SÂVER on Instagram

SÂVER on Bandcamp

Pelagic Records website

Pelagic Records on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Instagram

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

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