Quarterly Review: Saturnalia Temple, Dool, Abrams, Pia Isa, Wretched Kingdom, Lake Lake, Gnarwhal, Bongfoot, Thomas Greenwood & The Talismans, Djiin

Posted in Reviews on May 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Today is Wednesday, the day we hit and pass the halfway mark for this week, which is a quarter of the way through the entirety of this 100-release Quarterly Review. Do you need to know that? Not really, but it’s useful for me to keep track of how much I’m doing sometimes, which is why I count in the first place. 100 records isn’t nothing, you know. Or 10 for that matter. Or one. I don’t know.

A little more variety here, which is always good, but I’ve got momentum behind me after yesterday and I don’t want to delay diving in, so off we go.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Saturnalia Temple, Paradigm Call

saturnalia temple paradigm call

For the band’s fourth album, Paradigm Call, founding Saturnalia Temple guitarist/vocalist Tommie Eriksson leads the newcomer rhythm section of drummer Pelle Åhman and bassist Gottfrid Åhman through eight abyss-plundering tracks across 48 minutes of roiling tonal mud distinguished by its aural stickiness and Eriksson‘s readily identifiable vocal gurgle. The methodology hasn’t changed much since 2020’s Gravity (review here) in terms of downward pull, but the title-track’s solo is sharp enough to cut through the mire, and while it’s no less harsh for doing so, “Among the Ruins” explores a faster tempo while staying in line with the all-brown psychedelic swirl around it, brought to fruition in the backwards-sounding loops of closer “Kaivalya” after the declarative thud of side B standout “Empty Chalice.” They just keep finding new depths. It’s impressive. Also a little horrifying.

Saturnalia Temple on Facebook

Listenable Records website

Dool, The Shape of Fluidity

dool the shape of fluidity

It’s easy to respect a band so unwilling to be boxed by genre, and Rotterdam’s Dool put the righteous aural outsiderness that’s typified their sound since 2017’s Here Now There Then (review here) to meta-level use on their third long-player for Prophecy Productions, The Shape of Fluidity. Darkly progressive, rich in atmosphere, broad in range and mix, heavy-but-not-beholden-to-tone in presentation, encompassing but sneaky-catchy in pieces like opener “Venus in Flames,” the flowing title-track, and the in-fact-quite-heavy “Hermagorgon,” the record harnesses declarations and triumphs around guitarist/vocalist Raven van Dorst‘s stated lyrical thematic around gender-nonbinaryism, turning struggle and confusion into clarity of expressive purpose in the breakout “Self-Dissect” and resolving with furious culmination in “The Hand of Creation” with due boldness. Given some of the hateful, violent rhetoric around gender-everything in the modern age, the bravery of DoolVan Dorst alongside guitarists Nick Polak and Omar Iskandr, bassist JB van der Wal and drummer Vincent Kreyder — in confronting that head-on with these narratives is admirable, but it’s still the songs themselves that make The Shape of Fluidity one of 2024’s best albums.

Dool on Facebook

Prophecy Productions website

Abrams, Blue City

abrams blue city

After releasing 2022’s In the Dark (review here) on Small Stone, Denver heavy rockers Abrams align to Blues Funeral Recordings for their fifth album in a productive, also-touring nine years, the 10-track/42-minute Blue City. Production by Kurt Ballou (High on Fire, Converge, etc.) at GodCity Studio assures no lack of impact as “Fire Waltz” reaffirms the tonal density of the riffs that the Zach Amster-led four-piece nonetheless made dance in opener “Tomorrow,” while the rolling “Death Om” and the momentary skyward ascent in “Etherol” — a shimmering preface to the chug-underscored mellowness of “Narc” later — lay out some of the dynamic that’s emerged in their sound along with the rampant post-hardcore melodies that come through in Amster and Graham Zander‘s guitars, capable either of meting out hard-landing riffs to coincide with the bass of Taylor Iversen (also vocals) and Ryan DeWitt‘s drumming, or unfurling sections of float like those noted above en route to tying it all together with the closing “Blue City.” Relatively short runtimes and straightforward-feeling structures mask the stylistic nuance of the actual material — nothing new there for Abrams; they’re largely undervalued — and the band continue to reside in between-microgenre spaces as they await the coming of history which will inevitably prove they were right all along.

Abrams on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

Pia Isa, Burning Time

pia isa burning time

Superlynx bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen made her solo debut under the Pia Isa moniker with 2022’s Distorted Chants (review here), and in addition to announcing the SoftSun collaboration she’ll undertake alongside Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce (who also appeared on her record), in 2024, she offers the three-song Burning Time EP, with a cover of Radiohead‘s “Burn the Witch” backed by two originals, “Treasure” and “Nothing Can Turn it Back.” With drumming by her Superlynx bandmate Ole Teigen (who also recorded), “Burn the Witch” becomes a lumbering forward march, ethereal in melody but not necessarily cultish, while “Treasure” digs into repetitive plod led by the low end and “Nothing Can Turn it Black” brings the guitar forward but is most striking in the break that brings the dual-layered vocals forward near the midpoint. The songs are leftovers from the LP, but if you liked the LP, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Pia Isa on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

Wretched Kingdom, Wretched Kingdom

Wretched Kingdom Wretched Kingdom

A late-2023 initial public offering from Houston’s Wretched Kingdom, their self-titled EP presents a somewhat less outwardly joyous take on the notion of “Texas desert rock” than that offered by, as an example, Austin’s High Desert Queen, but the metallic riffing that underscores “Dreamcrusher” goes farther back in its foundations than whatever similarity to Kyuss one might find in the vocals or speedier riffy shove of “Smoke and Mirrors.” Sharp-cornered in tone, opener “Torn and Frayed” gets underway with metered purpose as well, and while the more open-feeling “Too Close to the Sun” begins similar to “You Can’t Save Me” — the strut that ensues in the latter distinguishes — the push in its second half comes after riding a steady groove into a duly bluesy solo. There’s nothing in the material to take you out of the flow between the six component cuts, and even closer “Deviation” tells you it’s about to do something different as it works from its mellower outset into a rigorous payoff. With the understanding that most first-EPs of this nature are demos by another name and (as here) more professional sound, Wretched Kingdom‘s Wretched Kingdom asks little in terms of indulgence and rewards generously when encountered at higher volumes. Asking more would be ridiculous.

Wretched Kingdom on Facebook

Wretched Kingdom on Bandcamp

Lake Lake, Proxy Joy

lake lake proxy joy

Like earlier Clutch born out of shenanigans-prone punk, Youngstown, Ohio’s Lake Lake are tight within the swinging context of a song like “The Boy Who Bit Me,” which is the second of the self-released Proxy Joy‘s six inclusions. Brash in tone and the gutted-out shouty vocals, offsetting its harder shoving moments with groovy back-throttles in songs that could still largely be called straightforward, the quirk and throaty delivery of “Blue Jerk” and the bluesier-minded “Viking Vietnam” paying off the tension in the verses of “Comfort Keepers” and the build toward that leadoff’s chorus want nothing for personality or chemistry, and as casual as the style is on paper, the arrangements are coordinated and as “Heavy Lord” finds a more melodic vocal and “Coyote” — the longest song here at 5:01 — leaves on a brash highlight note, the party they’re having is by no means unconsidered. But it is a party, and those who have dancing shoes would be well advised to keep them on hand, just in case.

Lake Lake on Facebook

Lake Lake on Bandcamp

Gnarwhal, Altered States

Gnarwhal Altered States

Modern in the angularity of its riffing, spacious in the echoes of its tones and vocals, and encompassing enough in sound to be called progressive within a heavy context, Altered States follows Canadian four-piece Gnarwhal‘s 2023 self-titled debut full-length with four songs that effectively bring together atmosphere and impact in the six-minute “The War Nothing More” — big build in the second half leading to more immediate, on-beat finish serving as a ready instance of same — with twists that feel derived of the MastoBaroness school rhythmically and up-front vocal melodies that give cohesion to the darker vibe of “From Her Hands” after displaying a grungier blowout in “Tides.” The terrain through which they ebb and flow, amass and release tension, soar and crash, etc., is familiar if somewhat intangible, and that becomes an asset as the concluding “Altered States” channels the energy coursing through its verses in the first half into the airy payoff solo that ends. I didn’t hear the full-length last year. Listening to what Gnarwhal are doing in these tracks in terms of breadth and crunch, I feel like I missed out. You might also consider being prepared to want to hear more upon engaging.

Gnarwhal on Facebook

Gnarwhal on Bandcamp

Bongfoot, Help! The Humans..

bongfoot help the humans

Help the humans? No. Help! The Humans…, and here as in so many of life’s contexts, punctuation matters. Digging into a heavy, character-filled and charging punkish sound they call “Appalachian thrash,” Boone, North Carolina, three-piece Bongfoot are suitably over-the-top as they explore what it means to be American in the current age, couching discussions of wealth inequality, climate crisis, corporatocracy, capitalist exploitation, the insecurity at root in toxic masculinity and more besides. With clever, hooky lyrics that are a total blast despite being tragic in the subject matter and a pace of execution well outside what one might think is bong metal going in because of the band’s name, Bongfoot vigorously kick ass from opener “End Times” through the galloping end of “Amazon Death Factory/Spacefoot” and the untitled mountain ramble that follows as an outro. Along the way, they intermittently toy with country twang, doom, and hardcore punk, and offer a prayer to the titular volcano of “Krakatoa” to save at least the rest of the world if not humanity. It’s quite a time to be alive. Listening, that is. As for the real-world version of the real world, it’s less fun and more existentially and financially draining, which makes Help! The Humans… all the more a win for its defiance and charm. Even with the bonus tracks, I’ll take more of this anytime they’re ready with it.

Bongfoot on Facebook

Bongfoot on Bandcamp

Thomas Greenwood & The Talismans, Ateş

Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans Ateş

It’s interesting, because you can’t really say that Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans‘ second LP, Ateş isn’t neo-psychedelia, but the eight tracks and 38 minutes of the record itself warrant enunciating what that means. Where much of 2020s-era neo-psych is actually space rock with thicker tones (shh! it’s a secret!), what Greenwood — AKA Thomas Mascheroni, also of Bergamo, Italy’s Humulus) brings to sounds like the swaying, organ-laced “Sleepwalker” and the resonant spaciousness in the soloing of “Mystic Sunday Morning” is more kin to the neo-psych movement that began in the 1990s, which itself was a reinterpretation of the genre’s pop-rock origins in the 1960s. Is this nitpicking? Not when you hear the title-track infusing its Middle Eastern-leaning groove with a heroic dose of wah or the friendly shimmer of “I Do Not” that feels extrapolated from garage rock but is most definitely not that thing and the post-Beatles bop of “Sunhouse.” It’s an individual (if inherently familiar) take that unifies the varied arrangements of the acidic “When We Die” and the cosmic vibe of “All the Lines” (okay, so there’s a little bit of space boogie too), resolving in the Doors-y lumber of “Crack” to broaden the scope even further and blur past timelines into an optimistic future.

Thomas Greenwood and The Talismans on Facebook

Subsound Records website

Djiin, Mirrors

djiin mirrors

As direct as some of its push is and as immediate as “Fish” is opening the album right into the first verse, the course that harp-laced French heavy progressive rockers Djiin take on their third album, Mirrors, ultimately more varied, winding and satisfying as its five-track run gives over to the nine-minute “Mirrors” and uses its time to explore more pointedly atmospheric reaches before a weighted crescendo that precedes the somehow-fluidity in the off-time early stretch of centerpiece “In the Aura of My Own Sadness,” its verses topped with spoken word and offset by note-for-note melodic conversation between the vocals and guitar. Rest assured, they build “In the Aura of My Own Sadness” to its own crushing end, while taking a more decisively psychedelic approach to get there, and thereby set up “Blind” with its trades from open-spaces held to pattern by the drums and a pair of nigh-on-caustic noise rock onslaughts before 13-minute capstone “Iron Monsters” unfolds a full instrumental linear movement before getting even heavier, as if to underscore the notion that Djiin can go wherever the hell they want and make it work as a song. Point taken.

Djiin on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website

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Humulus Announce Early 2024 Live Plans

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 3rd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

humulus (Photo by Francesca Bordoli @francescabordoliph)

In a week that’s pretty light on announcements, be it for tours or new releases or whathaveyou, Italy’s Humulus shine through with live plans for the early part of this New Year, with one TBA still saddled in a stretch of 10 days and more listed as being in the offing. The occasion of the trio’s going is 2023’s Flowers of Death (review here), which was the first outing from the band to feature guitarist/vocalist Thomas Mascheroni after a lineup shift that saw him step in after 2020’s The Deep (review here).

Their fourth full-length overall, it also featured a collaboration with Colour Haze guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, whose presence and influence certainly doesn’t hurt, and in part with that laid out a progressive and psychedelic course for their work to follow going forward. If you didn’t hear it — and if you didn’t, it’s okay, I don’t hear everything either — it’s at the bottom of this post and since it came out in September and 2024 is only two days old, it’s still a new release, so have at it. The dates were posted on social media as follows:

humulus flowers of death tour

Flowers of Death Tour 2024 💥 here’s the first part of the tour dates confirmed for the next year…Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and for the first time Denmark 🔥 We wish you all the best for the new year and we hope to see you in front of the stage…and don’t forget to drink good beers 🍺 cheeeers

07.03 Gerwerk Winterthur CH
08.03 Freiburg Im Breisgau DE
09.03 Sas Delemont CH
10.03 Rockhaus Salzburg AT
11.03 Kopi Keller Berlin DE
12.03 TBA
13.03 Lygtens Kro Copenhagen DK
14.03 Pogo Retroquitaten Telgte DE
15.03 Vortex Siegen DE
16.03 Bandhaus Erfurt DE
17.03 Live Bar Sölden AT
more TBA

Thomas Mascheroni – Guitar and Voice
Massimiliano Boventi – Drums
Giorgio Bonacorsi – Bass




Humulus, Flowers of Death (2023)

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The Clamps to Release New Album on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Details at this point are characteristically sparse, but later this week, Bergamo, Italy, heavy speed rockers The Clamps will announce their third record’s release date through Heavy Psych Sounds and premiere the first single. Not here, I mean. I don’t have anything booked or whathaveyou, but it’ll be somewhere on this big ol’ internet, and album preorders will be up at the same time. A pretty familiar method of rolling out a new release for the Italian label at the forefront of the Euro heavy underground, and the two parties are well familiar with each other since Heavy Psych Sounds put out The Clamps‘ 2017 album, Bend, Shake, Swallow, as well.

You can stream that album below — no new audio yet, and you want something there — and keep an eye out if you’re feeling like you need a bit of fast movement in your life. As I think everybody does from time to time:

the clamps

Heavy Psych Sounds to announce THE CLAMPS signing for their upcoming new album !!!

We’re incredibly stoked to announce that the italian speed stoner trio THE CLAMPS is coming back with a brand new album !!!



The Clamps is three-piece speed-stoner rock n’roll band formed in Bergamo, northern Italy, in 2012 by former members of local garage punk, metal and alternative rock bands. Their sound squeeze stoner, speedrock, punk and rock n’roll into a a well-recognizable no-frills fat fuzzy sound and their shows are pure energy!

The debut album DEADLY KICK FOR A FAT FUCKER was out in 2013 for GO DOWN RECORDS and the band started to hit the road few months later for plenty of shows.

The Clamps joined the HPS family in 2017, when their second album BLEND, SHAKE, SWALLOW was released. Throughout the years, these guys toured Italy and Europe sharing the stage with bands such as 1000 Mods, Black Rainbows, Nashville Pussy, Black Tusk, Valient Thorr, Pontiac, Valley of the Sun, Alabama Thunderpussy and many more.

The Clamps third album will be out in 2024 for HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS… stay tuned!
Actions speaks louder than words, and what The Clamps love is action!




The Clamps, Bend, Shake, Swallow (2017)

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Humulus Premiere “Seventh Sun” Feat. Stefan Koglek; Flowers of Death Out Sept. 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 4th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Humulus Flowers of Death

Revamped Italian heavy rockers Humulus will release their new album, Flowers of Death, on Sept. 1 through Taxi Driver Records and Kozmik Artifactz. Running seven tracks/43 minutes and varying from the heavy psychedelic post-stoner earthiness of opener “Black Water” to the blasted-into-space finale in “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth,” it is the fourth full-length overall from the Brescia trio, who made their self-titled debut in 2012. It follows a not unreasonable three years behind 2020’s The Deep (review here), and is consistent with theme that emerged there of progressing outward from their heavy rock foundation. Flowers of Death has the additional distinguishing factor of being the first Humulus outing since guitarist/vocalist Thomas Mascheroni joined the band late last year, taking the place of Andrea Van Cleef alongside bassist Giorgio Bonacorsi and drummer Massimiliano Boventi.

In some ways, that change is the story of the album. It’s not the story of the songs, but if one heard The Deep or 2017’s Reverently Heading into Nowhere (review here), there’s been incremental growth all along from the band’s beery beginnings, and that’s true here too. Swapping in Mascheroni — who also fronts garage’d psych-blues rockers Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans and did the covers for the “Seventh Sun” single (premiering below) and the LP — accounts for the shifts in sound beyond that, whether that might be manifest in the way second cut “Secret Room” follows the fluid and modern roll of “Black Water” with a faster, riffier push, turns on a dime drawn from “Misty Mountain Hop” and winds up in pastoral psych that puts one in Arbouretum-style sunshine ever so briefly, and finishes by hinting at the cosmic launch to come at Flowers of Death‘s end as it fades out.

humulus seventh sunNot only is there variety in terms of where a given song might go, but structurally between them as well. “Shimmer Haze” essentially follows one righteously swinging progression for most of its five minutes, with a guitar-led mellow break in its second half that builds back up and some groovy kick drum in its earlier verses, and when they bring back that main riff at 4:47 with barely half a minute left, they gracefully and unhurriedly tie it together as a grounded heavy rocker while holding to the exploratory atmosphere of the first two tracks. I don’t think “Shimmer Haze” is anything particularly new from Humulus, but it’s greatly to their credit that they make it come across like it is. As the centerpiece, “Buried by Tree” moves into a slightly faster tempo and is marked by the tom work behind Mascheroni‘s vocals and guitar starts and stops, coming to a head as the guitar aligns with Bonacorsi and Boventi and shoots into the chorus, departing from there into a spacious midsection that gradually jams back to another round through the verse and hook, both efficient in execution and laid back in presence.

At 7:30, “Seventh Sun” is the second longest piece on Flowers of Death and is something of a landmark for Humulus. As the band explains below, it was the first track written with Mascheroni, and its languid rollout through an extended intro positions it directly into heavy psychedelia in a way that the additional guitar from Colour Haze‘s Stefan Koglek (who also apparently leant a hand in songwriting as well) very much fits when it arrives near the song’s middle. By the time they get there, Humulus have already hypnotized the listener with the flow built around the bassline, guitar starting off, leaving, then fading back in as the track sleeks into its verse. Koglek‘s lead will be recognizable to Colour Haze fans, and its end marks a change into a more active solo and ending section, and where “Shimmer Haze” turned back from its shorter excursion to finish with reinforcement of structure, “Seventh Sun” willingly lets itself go instrumental into that good night, its residual hum seeming to last right until the snare snap of the title-track announce it’s time to boogie.

And so it may be. Surf boogie at that. Taking ’60s garage and modern heavy psych and, yeah, some surf in that guitar line, the three-piece skillfully bring the listener back from the trance of “Seventh Sun” with physical (relative) urgency in the short cut that precedes the takeoff of the 10-minute “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” — one imagines a document with three words all-caps: “PLANT MORE TREES” — which follows suit from “Seventh Sun” in not coming back once it goes into its jam, but is resolute in its cosmic feel. Once more to the credit of Humulus‘ songwriting, the initial verses are more than a formality en route to the extended instrumental finish, which comprises the last six-plus minutes and brings subtle dynamic in its moments of digging in loud or quiet, but definitely saves its biggest thrust for last, a coursing wall of interstellar fuzz nova-blasted by a star about to be recycled.

I’m not sure one could really hope to summarize the totality of Flowers of Death in a single track anyway, and as an alternative, space rock works to emphasize the open stylistic nature of Humulus at this stage in their career, more than a decade on from their first record and with a one-third-new lineup. I’ve said on multiple occasions that swapping a guitarist — let alone a guitarist/vocalist — from a power trio is a major change for a band to make. It’s had a significant impact on Humulus as well, but they haven’t lost the thread from where The Deep was leading, even as they’ve thrown open new and exciting creative avenues to traverse.

“Seventh Sun” premieres below, with more comment from the band, preorder links, and so on after.

Please enjoy:

Humulus, “Seventh Sun” track premiere


humulus (Photo by Francesca Bordoli @francescabordoliph)

Humulus on “Seventh Sun”:

“The idea of this song came from an old bass riff that Giorgio used to play to check his sound in rehearsal, studio, live, etc. We never built up a song on this riff, so when Thomas joined the band in November 2022 was the first idea we started to jam on. This is the first song that we wrote for the new LP and during the months we’ve spent writing the rest of the songs, it changed a lot and we added and cut different parts. Also under the supervision of Stefan from Colour Haze who played an additional guitar part. For sure is one of the most psychedelic and atmospheric song of this LP and more than the others represents well the transition from the ‘Old Humulus sound’ to the new one.”

Song Name: Seventh Sun
LP Name: Flowers of Death
Music by Humulus, Lyrics by Thomas Mascheroni
Additional guitar by Stefan Koglek (Colour Haze)
Artwork for the Single by Thomas Greenwood

‘Flowers of Death’ preorder: http://www.kozmik-artifactz.com/ & http://taxidriverstore.com

1. Black Water
2. Secret Room
3. Shimmer Haze
4. Buried By Tree
5. 7th Sun
6. Flowers Of Death
7. Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth

Thomas Mascheroni – Guitar and Voice
Massimiliano Boventi – Drums
Giorgio Bonacorsi – Bass

Humulus on Facebook

Humulus on Instagram

Humulus on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Facebook

Kozmik Artifactz on Instagram

Kozmik Artifactz on Bandcamp

Taxi Driver Records on Facebook

Taxi Driver Records on Instagram

Taxi Driver Records on Bandcamp

Taxi Driver Records store

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Humulus to Release Flowers of Death Sept. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

humulus (Photo by Francesca Bordoli @francescabordoliph)

Something of a different look from Humulus on their upcoming Flowers of Death LP. The follow-up to 2020’s The Deep (review here) sees the Brescia-based three-piece making their first offering with new guitarist/vocalist Thomas Mascheroni, who joined the band late last year, playing alongside bassist Giorgio Bonacorsi and drummer/band-ambassador Massimiliano Boventi. The heft is still there, as songs like “Shimmer Haze” and “Buried by Tree” will attest, but some of the burl has been swapped out for an exploratory sense, and Mascheroni imports some of his psychedelic and melodic sensibility from his solo work — he also did the cover art — giving a fresh voice to the group who released their beer-rocking self-titled debut in 2012.

They don’t sound like a completely different band — though they do go full-space rock at the end with “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth,” with engrossing results — but like they’re pursuing the direction they took with the somewhat-left-turn that their 2020 LP represented, and they sound like they’ve restructured the group, which they have. Mascheroni replaces Andrea Van Cleef in Humulus, and has a style of his own. I’m not going to say it’s better or worse now, because that’s not really what it’s about — though if you want radical honesty, Humulus now are probably more in line with what I’d put on for a given afternoon — but listening to Flowers of Death as I’ve been fortunate enough to do, they sound excited and eager to plumb these new reaches of sound, and I look forward to hearing where they end up.

They’re confirmed for Keep it Low in Munich this year, which Colour Haze also regularly play, it being their hometown. You’ll note that band’s guitarist Stefan Koglek had a hand in advising on songwriting (not a tutelage that’s going to hurt) and plays extra guitar on “Seventh Sun.” That song has a mellow drift and the kind of build that I very much wouldn’t mind watching emanate from a festival stage. I won’t make it to Keep it Low unless a miracle happens, but as a word to the wise, it’s something you might consider.

I’ll hope to have more to come on the record as we get closer to the release. For now, here’s the announcement and some words on it from Boventi:

Humulus Flowers of Death

HUMULUS – Flowers Of Death

Release date: 1st September 2023

Preorder link: http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/

Label: Kozmik Artifactz (LP, 300 copies) Taxi Driver (CD, 300 copies)

Says Massimiliano Boventi: “I think that the most important thing for a band like us who recently had a lineup change, is to start immediately to work hard on new material…and it’s exactly what we did from november until april 2023. The result is an LP that reflects what Humulus are in this moment: you can feel in the songs the ‘classical’ Humulus style that is more connected to the rhythmical part of the band, the oldest part :) , and the fresh air given by the new member. But the most important thing for us is that these parts are well connected and we feel us again as a band, musically speaking but also as friends.

It was also a pleasure and a great honour to be helped by Stefan Koglek from Colour Haze who gave us precious tips about what to do in the songs without changing our band sound. We never did this before with other artists for previous records and was really a different and very stimulating thing to do for composing part of the LP. And he played an additional guitar part on the song called “Seventh Sun”.

So we are really excited about this release, and also some gigs for October and November are coming.

All the songs are written and played by Humulus.
This Lp was recorded in April 2023 at IndieBox Music Hall Studio (Brescia) by Giovanni Bottoglia.
Cover art by Thomas Mascheroni (our Singer and Guitar player).
Stefan Koglek: Additional guitar on “Seventh Sun”.

Thomas Mascheroni – Guitar and Voice
Massimiliano Boventi – Drums
Giorgio Bonacorsi – Bass




Humulus, The Deep (2020)

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Humulus Welcome New Guitarist/Vocalist Thomas Mascheroni

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 30th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

A few weeks back, Italian heavy rockers Humulus announced the departure from the band of guitarist/vocalist Andrea Van Cleef, a not-at-all minor presence in the Brescia-based trio alongside bassist Giorgio Bonacorsi and drummer Massimiliano Boventi. Good terms, still friends, all that. Sometimes it’s time to go. It happens. Boventi and Bonacorsi said at the time they would be continuing the group, and today they announce that Thomas Mascheroni will take over fronting duties from here on out.

Mascheroni, who also performs as Thomas Greenwood in the outfit Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans, released the psych-garage-blues-ish Rituals full-length earlier this year, and comes to Humulus following the band’s 2020 third LP, The Deep (review here). That record greatly expanded Humulus‘ prior approach, sort of blew the roof off the thing, and while there isn’t any new audio from Humulus Mk. II yet, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear some recent rehearsal recordings of new songs in progress, and they sound like Humulus are going to be continuing on an exploratory path as Mascheroni and the established rhythm section come together.

They’re saying new album in 2023. Crazier things have occurred, certainly, and I hear having goals is a good thing. Best of luck to the band, and Van Cleef, who has said he’s soon to return with a new project. Again, goals. My goal right now is another cup of coffee, so while I handle that you read this from the PR wire:

humulus (Photo by Francesca Bordoli @francescabordoliph)

Lineup changes are often difficult and complex and when Andrea decided to quit Humulus was for sure not easy to look to the future immediately with positive vibes… but we’ve been lucky and few days after the break up, Thomas Mascheroni joined the band!!!

He has also a solo project with the name of Thomas Greenwood and his last record “Rituals” (https://thomasgreenwoodband.bandcamp.com/album/rituals) went out this year. We’ve listened to this LP, and we really liked his sound and his voice.

So here we are!!! We are working hard on new material, new songs are coming fast and for sure we’ll be out later in 2023 with an LP.

Some gigs are already planned for spring and summer and we’ll play new songs and some old classics… stay tuned on our social pages for announcements.

We are very excited for this new adventure, for sure the new sound and songs will be different, but this is the best part of the game!!!

Humulus are:
Thomas Greenwood – Guitar/Vocals
Giorgio Bonacorsi – Bass
Massimiliano Boventi – Drums

Photo by Francesca Bordoli @francescabordoliph



Humulus, The Deep (2020)

Thomas Greenwood and the Talismans, Rituals (2022)

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Quarterly Review: Total Fucking Destruction, Humulus, The River, Phantom Hound, Chang, The Dhaze, Lost Psychonaut, Liquido di Morte, Black Burned Blimp, Crimson Oak

Posted in Reviews on March 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

I’ve got a fresh cup of coffee and 50 records that need to be reviewed, so it must be time for… constant distractions! Oh, no, wait, sorry. It must be time for the Quarterly Review. Yeah, there it is. I know there’s a global-pandemic-sized elephant in the room as a backdrop for the Spring 2020 Quarterly Review, but it seems to me that’s all the more reason to proceed as much as possible. Not to feign normality like people aren’t suffering physically, emotionally, and/or financially, but to give those for whom music is a comfort an opportunity to find more of that comfort and, frankly, to do the same for myself. I’ve said many times I need this more than you do, and I do.

So, you know the drill. 10 records a day, Monday to Friday through this week, 50 when we’re done. As Christopher Pike says, let’s hit it.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Total Fucking Destruction, …To Be Alive at the End of the World

Total Fucking Destruction To Be Alive at the End of the World

The long-running experimentalist grind trio Total Fucking Destruction remain a sonic presence unto themselves. Their strikingly apropos fifth LP, …To Be Alive at the End of the World, begins with the five-minute psychedelic wash of its unrepentantly pretty, somewhat mournful title-track and ends with a performance-art take on “The Star Spangled Banner” that shifts into eight or so minutes of drone and minimalist noise before reemerging in manipulated form, vocalist/drummer Richard Hoak (also the odd bit of flute and ocarina), bassist/vocalist Ryan Moll and guitarist Pingdum filling the between space with the blasts and jangles of “A Demonstration of Power,” the maddening twists of “Attack of the Supervirus 1138” and other mini-bursts of unbridled aggression like “Stone Bomb,” “Doctor Butcher” and the outright conceptual genius of “Yelling at Velcro,” which, indeed, is just 20 or so seconds of yelling ahead of the arrival of the closer. In an alternate future, Total Fucking Destruction‘s work will be added to the Library of Congress. In this future, we’re boned.

Total Fucking Destruction on Facebook

Translation Loss Records store


Humulus, The Deep

humulus the deep

For the six-song/51-minute The Deep, Italian three-piece Humulus somewhat depart the beer-rocking ways of 2017’s second LP, Reverently Heading into Nowhere (review here). Sure, the riff of “Gone Again” is pure Kyuss idolatry (not a complaint), and “Devil’s Peak (We Eventually Eluded Death)” brims with drunkard’s swagger, but factor in the wonderfully executed linear build that takes place across the eight-minute “Hajra,” the mellow emotionalism of the penultimate acoustic track “Lunar Queen,” and the two extended psychedelic bookends in opener “Into the Heart of the Volcano Sun” (14:48) and closer “Sanctuary III – The Deep” (14:59), and the narrative becomes decidedly more complex than just “they drink and play riffs.” These elements have been in Humulus‘ sound all along, but it’s plain to hear the band have actively worked to push themselves forward in scope, and the range suits them, the closer particularly filled with a theatricality that would seem to speak to further storytelling to come on subsequent releases. So be it. They called the album The Deep and have dived in accordingly.

Humulus on Facebook

Kozmik Artifactz website


The River, Vessels into White Tides

The River Vessels into White Tides

An atmosphere of melancholy is quickly established on The River‘s third LP, Vessels into White Tides (on Nine Records), and for being the London four-piece’s first album 10 years, it takes place in a sense of unrushed melody, the band rolling out a morose feel born of but not directly aping the likes of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost as the vocals of guitarist Jenny Newton (also strings, percussion) — joined in the band by guitarist Christian Leitch, bassist Stephen Morrissey and drummer Jason Ludwig — make their presence felt soon in opener “Vessels,” which unfolds gracefully with a crash and rumble fading into the beginning of the subsequent “Into White” (15:01) with the four-minute string-laced “Open” and the 9:44 shifting-into-intensity “Passing” preceding closer “Tides,” which is duly rolling in its progression and offers a sweet bit of release, if wistful, from some of the more grueling moments before it, capping not with a distorted blowout, but with layers of strings reinforcing the folkish underpinning that’s been there all along, in even the most tonally or emotionally weighted stretches.

The River on Facebook

Nine Records store


Phantom Hound, Mountain Pass

Phantom Hound Mountain Pass

Mountain Pass, which begins with “The Northern Face,” ends with “The Southern Face” and along the way treks through its on-theme title-track and the speedier “You Don’t Know Death,” catchy “Thunder I Am” and fairly-enough bluesy “Devil Blues,” has its foundations in oldschool metal and punk, but is a decidedly rock-based offering. It’s the debut from Oakland’s Phantom Hound, and its eight component tracks make no attempt to mask their origins or coat their material in unnecessary pretense — they are what they are; the album is what it is. The three-piece dip into acoustics on the instrumental “Grace of an Angel,” which shifts with a cymbal wash into the lead guitar at the outset of the eight-minute title-track — the stomp of which is perhaps more evocative of the mountain than the passing, but still works — but even this isn’t so far removed from the straightforward purposes of “Irons in the Fire,” which stakes its claim to dead-ahead metal and rock, barely stopping along the way to ask what else you could possibly need.

Phantom Hound on Facebook

Phantom Hound on Bandcamp


Chang, Superlocomotodrive

chang superlocomotodrive

Munich-based trio Chang, with clear, modern production behind them, present their debut EP release with the 29-minute Superlocomotodrive, and though it’s short, one is left wondering what else they might need to consider it an album. What’s missing? You’ve got the let’s-jam-outta-here in the six-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Mescalin,” and plenty of gruff riffing to back that up in “Old Rusty Car” and the later title-track, with a bit of Oliveri-era Queens of the Stone Age edge in the latter to boot, plus some psychedelic lead work in “Sterne,” some particularly German quirk in “Bottle Beach” and a massive buildup in tension in the finale “Bombs Whisper” that seems to arrive at its moment of payoff only to instead cut to silence and purposefully leave the listener hanging — an especially bold move for a first release. Yeah, it’s under half an hour long, but so what? The heavy rock terrain Chang are working in is familiar enough — right down to the less-than-P.C. lyrics of “Old Rusty Car” — but there’s no sense that Superlocomotodrive wants to be something it isn’t. It’s heavy rock celebrating heavy rock.

Chang on Facebook

Chang on Bandcamp


The Dhaze, Deaf Dumb Blind

the dhaze deaf dumb blind

Though the grunge influence in the vocals of guitarist Simone Pennucci speak to more of a hard-rocking kind of sound, the basis of The Dhaze‘s sprawl across their ambitious 53-minute Sound Effect Records debut album, Deaf Dumb Blind, is more in line with progressive metal and heavy psychedelia. Bassist Vincenzo La Tegola backs Pennucci on vocals and locks in fluid mid-tempo grooves with drummer Lorenzo Manna, and makes a highlight of the low end in “Death Walks with Me” ahead of the titular trilogy, presented in the order of “Deaf,” “Blind” and “Dumb,” which flow together as one piece thanks in no small part to the synth work added by La Tegola and Pennucci together. Obviously comfortable in longer-form stretches like “Death Walks with Me” or the earlier “Neurosis,” both of which top nine minutes, the Napoli trio bring a fervent sense of variety to their work while leaving themselves open to future growth in terms of sound and playing with the balance between elements they establish here.

The Dhaze on Facebook

Sound Effect Records store


Lost Psychonaut, Lost Psychonaut

Lost Psychonaut Lost Psychonaut

Hailing — because metal bands hail, to be sure — from the Pittsburgh area, newcomers Lost Psychonaut boast in their ranks two former members of sludgers Vulture in guitarist/vocalist Justin Erb and bassist
Garrett Twardesky, who, together with drummer Tristan Triggs, run through a debut LP made up of five tracks that skirt the line between groove metal and heavy rock, tapping-like-flowing-kegs influences from the likes of ’90s-era C.O.C. and others such burl-laced groovers. Tales of day-to-day struggles make a fitting enough backdrop to the riff-led proceedings, which commence with the prior-issued single “My Time” and roll-groove their way into a duo of longer cuts at the end in “Restitution Day” (8:46) and “On a Down” (7:44). Frankly, any mention of the word “Down” at all in a song that feels so outwardly “buried in smoke” can hardly be coincidental, but that nod is well earned. With a couple years behind them, they know what they’re going for in this initial batch of songs, and the clearheaded nature of their approach only gives their songwriting more of a sense of command. There’s growth to be undertaken, but nothing to say they can’t get there.

Lost Psychonaut on Facebook

Lost Psychonaut on Bandcamp


Liquido di Morte, IIII

liquido di morte iiii

I suppose you could, if so inclined, live up to Liquido di Morte‘s slogan, “We play music to take drugs to,” but you’d be shorting yourself on the experience of a lucid listen to their third long-player IIII. Issued in limited handmade packaging by the band, the Milan instrumentalists offer a stylistic take across the late-2019 five-tracker that stands somewhere between heavy post-rock and post-metal, but in that incorporates no shortage of thoughtful psychedelic meditations and even some kraut and space rock vibes. The primary impact is atmospheric, but there’s diversity in their approach such that the centerpiece “Tramonto Nucleare” begins cosmic, or maybe cataclysmic, and ends with an almost serene roll into the floating guitar at the outset of the subsequent “Rebus (6,5),” which is the longest inclusion at 13:40 and an encompassing, hypnotic srpawl that, whether you take drugs or not, seems destined to commune with expanded or expanding minds. The front-to-back journey ends with “The Fattening,” a cinematic run of synth after which a slaughter feels almost inevitable, even if it arrives as silence.

Liquido di Morte on Facebook

Liquido di Morte on Bandcamp


Black Burned Blimp, Crash Overdrive

Black Burned Blimp Crash Overdrive

Bonus points to Netherlands four-piece Black Burned Blimp for including song titles like “What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Weirder” and “The Good, the Bad and the Fucking Horrific” and, at the start of “Desert Wizard,” the sample from Trailer Park Boys wherein Mr. Lahey declares, “I am the liquor” on their debut LP, Crash Overdrive. Native to a heavy rock legacy that includes acts like 13eaver, 35007, Astrosoniq and Celestial Season, among many others, the band hint toward melodic complexity while remaining focused on raw energy in their songwriting, such that even the drumless, harmonized and minute-long “Flock” seems to seethe with unstated tension for “Robo Erectus,” which follows, to pay off. It does, though perhaps with less of a tempo kick than one might expect — certainly less than the careening “The Good, the Bad and the Fucking Horrific” a few tracks later — but somehow, no matter what speed they’re actually playing, Black Burned Blimp seem to make it sound fast. Vitality will do that.

Black Burned Blimp on Facebook

Black Burned Blimp on Bandcamp


Crimson Oak, Crimson Oak

crimson oak crimson oak

Though their arrival comes amid a German heavy rock underground that’s nothing if not well populated, Fulda-based five-piece Crimson Oak present with their self-titled debut long-player a stylistic take that’s both modern and genuine sounding, finding solid ground in well-crafted songs drawing more from ’90s-era heavy and punk in “Danger Time,” which follows the contemplative “Of My Youth,” the bulk of what surrounds expressing a similar level of self-awareness, up to and including the nine-minute side B opener “Brother of Sleep,” which sets psychedelic guitar against some of the album’s biggest riffs (and melodies). There’s middle ground to be had in cuts like “Displace” and “Sunset Embrace” still to come and “Fulda Gap” earlier, but Crimson Oak seem to touch that middle ground mostly en route to whichever end of the spectrum next piques their interest. At seven songs and 42 minutes, it’s not an insubstantial LP, but they hold their own with confidence and a poise that speaks to the fact that some of this material showed up on prior EPs. That experience with it shows but does not hold the band or songs back.

Crimson Oak on Facebook

Crimson Oak on Bandcamp


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Humulus Announce Spring Tour Dates & Post “Gone Again” Video; The Deep out Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan


You can still preorder Humulus‘ new album, The Deep, but the fact that it is out as of tomorrow, Feb. 28, might actually make it more of an “order” without the “pre-” part — at least in terms of shipping. Either way, it’s not too late. The Italian rockers-of-riff-and-beer have been steadily building toward the release over the last couple weeks, first unveiling a video for the track “Gone Again” as taken from the still-technically-upcoming LP and then just a few days ago putting out word that this Spring they’ll take their message to the people directly, playing mostly in Germany — which seems to be how it goes these days for a lot of bands; I guess you go where the good shows are, but I have to think poor Latvia is getting the shaft, not to mention the Iberian peninsula or Scandinavia up north, or I guess all those parts of Europe that aren’t Germany — but with a couple shows in Switzerland as well. Fair enough. One doubts it’ll be the last round of shows Humulus undertake to support the record anyhow.

Based in Brescia, in Italy, the trio have a release party scheduled for March 7 close to home, and their ties with independent brewery Elav will apparently result in some show there, unless they’re just going drinking — which is possible — but you can find out about all that kind of whatnot on the social medias. The tour dates and that preorder/order link follow here, with the “Gone Again” video at the bottom:

humulus the deep tour


16.04.2020 – CH Basel, Sommercasino Basel
17.04.2020 – CH Winterthur, Gaswerk
18.04.2020- DE Karlsruhe, P8
19.04.2020- DE Leipzig, Ost-Passage Theater
20.04.2020 – DE Frankfurt am Main, Nachtleben Frankfurt
21.04.2020 – DE Dresden, Chemiefabrik
22.04.2020 – DE Berlin, Toast Hawaii
23.04.2020- DE Köln, Mongogo Cologne
24.04.2020- DE Münster, RARE GUITAR
25.04.2020 -DE Jena, Kulturbahnhof Jena

Artwork by ROBS -Dotwork Tattoo-

Massimiliano Boventi on The Deep release:

We are super excited about the release of the new LP. We are very satisfied about the sound of the record and the guys from our label Kozmik Artifactz are doing an amazing job with this new release. The most important thing for us is to find the good combination with the new and the old songs to do the best live show possible. So we are working hard in the rehearsal room for arrive at this point.

When we write new songs we always try something new… we need this to not get bored. So every time we really don’t know how our fanbase can react to the new elements, the new sound etc. This is our way and we hope to satisfy old and new listeners’ expectations.

‘The Deep’ Pre-Order: https://bit.ly/3bV8Itu

Humulus are:
Andrea Van Cleef – Guitar/Vocals
Giorgio – Bass
Massimiliano – Drums


Humulus, “Gone Again” official video

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