Delving Finish Recording Second LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Delving, the exploratory progressive side-project of Elder guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, has finished the recording process for a full-length follow-up to 2021’s Hirschbrunnen (review here), slated to release this summer, presumably through Stickman Records. Home base for the yet-untitled offering was Berlin’s widely-utilized-for-good-reason Big Snuff Studio, with Richard Behrens (he’s the reason) at the helm in a returning role as producer, and joining DiSalvo for the venture are multi-instrumentalist Fabien de Menou (who steers his own course into mellow fluidity as the ostensibly-one-man weirdo psych unit Perilymph), and Elder bandmate/low-key-secret-weapon Michael Risberg, who also contributed to the debut three years ago.

They’ll let it rest for a bit, mix, master, then do the whole thing. I read ‘penciled’ below as regards the release date to mean ‘here’s hoping,’ and fair enough. For what it’s worth, Delving are already confirmed to appear at Krach am Bach (also in Germany) the first weekend of August — most likely along with others by now — and if the tour noted in DiSalvo‘s done-tracking announcement below is around that, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that’s loosely around when the album would show up as well. But they gotta mix, master and press it first. So, you know, here’s hoping.

From social media:

delving nick at big snuff studio cropped (Photo by Leon de Backer)

Recording of album II is finished after 9 days of tracking with my stalwart partner in sound Richard Behrens at Big Snuff Studio! I can say with confidence that this is probably the most ‘out there’ record I’ve written: ambitious, perhaps confusingly fluent in genres, densely layered and quite loooong. I guess that’s what happens when you write music in the in-between times over a few years.

I had some great help from Fabien de Menou (from Perilymph) who handled basically all of the keyboard parts on this record as well as Michael Risberg who lent some awesome spacey touches. Thank you guys for your help in pulling this off! Special thanks of course to Richard as well for your patience and assistance in giving flight to ideas.

We’ll return in a few weeks to start picking through the weeds and mixing this thing; a release date is already penciled for late summer and we’ll have some tour dates to announce as well. Looking forward to sharing some new music with the world, as always!

Photo by Leon De Backer

Delving, Hirschbrunnen (2021)

Tags: , , ,

Insect Ark Announce June 7 Release for Raw Blood Singing LP; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 26th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Insect Ark (Photo by Lupus Lindemann)

Shit yeah, new Insect Ark. Admittedly, such a level of insight is hardly befitting for the band founded and spearheaded by the experimentalist craft of Dana Schechter that has come to incorporate no less than Tim Wyskida of Khanate on drums, but I’m just telling you how I honestly feel. And as the former’s vocals guide through the dark reaches of advance-track “Youth Body Swayed” with the punctuating roll of the latter cast amid spaces alternately open and full, the June 7 release of Raw Blood Singing can hardly get here fast enough. This will be the first Insect Ark LP with the Schechter/Wyskida lineup, first for Debemur Morti after releasing 2020’s The Vanishing (review here) on Profound Lore, and I haven’t heard it yet so I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know anything about it.

Accordingly, “shit yeah” is where I land on the subject. Truth be told, I had a whole paragraph here going on about the air eating itself and the world being made across the seven minutes of “Youth Body Swayed,” but it just felt fucking dumb and off-base for where the song actually goes. Maybe by the time the record arrives I’ll have half a coherent thought to share, but, you know, don’t hold your breath.

The PR wire as life preserver:

insect ark raw blood singing


Album preorder:

Insect Ark, featuring Dana Schechter (Swans) and Tim Wyskida (Khanate), release their new album, Raw Blood Singing, on June 7 via Debemur Morti Productions.

The pair, who deconstructed and re-imagined Insect Ark in the lead-up to the new album, released a preview of Raw Blood Singing this morning, with the arrival of “Youth Body Swayed.” A notable shift for the band is the decision to add Schechter’s vocals to their music, with previous Insect Ark releases having been instrumental.

“Embracing evolution and fearless exploration are the core instincts of Insect Ark,” Schechter shares. “Writing the album ignited an awakening. It was in this inspired environment that I tried singing again, after a 10-year break. Encouraged by Tim, and after recording vocals on Swans ‘The Beggar’ – to my surprise, it felt great to sing again. I felt like I was creeping out of a deep cave after hibernation, blinking awkwardly into the bright and uncomfortable light of springtime.”

Wyskida explains how he came to join Schechter, permanently, in Insect Ark: “Shortly after Dana asked me to play shows with Insect Ark in 2022, she asked if I’d like to play on the new album. I expected to mostly replicate pre-existing ideas. We started digging in and it turned into a full on collaboration, with most of the original ideas and arrangements being completely reworked. We spent the better part of a year working on the music, daily. To my ear, the result is incredibly potent.”

Over the eight-songs, Insect Ark weaves a lush, bleak, vast and expansive landscape as they move from whispers of synth to a monstrous wall-of-sound via Schechter’s blistering lap steel playing, diabolical bass-work and the mammoth, searing power of Wyskida’s drums.

Raw Blood Singing is available for pre-order (, with the collection available on multiple limited-edition vinyl variants, as well as CD and digitally.

Raw Blood Singing track list:
1. Birth of a Black Diamond
2. The Frozen Lake
3. Youth Body Swayed
4. Cleaven Hearted
5. The Hands
6. Psychological Jackal
7. Inverted Whirlpool
8. Ascension

Insect Ark, Raw Blood Singing (2024)

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Slift, Grin, Pontiac, The Polvos, The Cosmic Gospel, Grave Speaker, Surya Kris Peters, GOZD, Sativa Root, Volt Ritual

Posted in Reviews on February 26th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Admittedly, there’s some ambition in my mind calling this the ‘Spring 2024 Quarterly Review.’ I’m done with winter and March starts on Friday, so yeah, it’s kind of a reach as regards the traditional seasonal patterns of Northern New Jersey where I live, but hell, these things actually get decided here by pissing off a rodent. Maybe it doesn’t need to be so rigidly defined after all.

After doing QRs for I guess about nine years now, I finally made myself a template for the back-end layout. It’s not a huge leap, but will mean about five more minutes I can dedicate to listening, and when you’re trying to touch on 50 records in the span of a work week and attempt some semblance of representing what they’re about, five minutes can help. Still, it’s a new thing, and if you see ‘ARTIST’ listed where a band’s name should be or LINK where ‘So and So on Facebook’ goes, a friendly comment letting me know would be helpful.

Thanks in advance and I hope you find something in all of this to come that speaks to you. I’ll try to come up for air at some point.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Slift, Ilion

Slift Ilion

One of the few non-billionaire groups of people who might be able to say they had a good year in 2020, Toulouse, France, spaceblasters Slift signed to Sub Pop on the strength of that wretched year’s Ummon (review here) and the spectacle-laced live shows with which they present their material. Their ideology is cosmic, their delivery markedly epic, and Ilion pushes the blinding light and the rhythmic force directly at you, creating a sweeping momentum contrasted by ambient stretches like that tucked at the end of 12-minute hypnotic planetmaker “The Words That Have Never Been Heard,” the drone finale “Enter the Loop” or any number of spots between along the record’s repetition-churning, willfully-overblown 79-minute course of builds and surging payoffs. A cynic might tell you it’s not anything Hawkwind didn’t do in 1974 offered with modern effects and beefier tones, but, uh, is that really something to complain about? The hype around Ilion hasn’t been as fervent as was for Ummon — it’s a different moment — but Slift have set themselves on a progressive course and in the years to come, this may indeed become their most influential work. For that alone it’s among 2024’s most essential heavy albums, never mind the actual journey of listening. Bands like this don’t happen every day.

Slift on Facebook

Sub Pop Records website

Grin, Hush

grin hush

The only thing keeping Grin from being punk rock is the fact that they don’t play punk. Otherwise, the self-recording, self-releasing (on The Lasting Dose Records) Berlin metal-sludge slingers tick no shortage of boxes as regards ethic, commitment to an uncompromised vision of their sound, and on Hush, their fourth long-player which features tracks from 2023’s Black Nothingness (review here), they sharpen their attack to a point that reminds of dug-in Swedish death metal on “Pyramid” with a winding lead line threaded across, find post-metallic ambience in “Neon Skies,” steamroll with the groove of the penultimate “The Tempest of Time,” and manage to make even the crushing “Midnight Blue Sorrow” — which arrives after the powerful opening statement of “Hush” “Calice” and “Gatekeeper” — have a sense of creative reach. With Sabine Oberg on bass and Jan Oberg handling drums, guitar, vocals, noise and production, they’ve become flexible enough in their craft to harness raw charge or atmospheric sprawl at will, and through 16 songs and 40 minutes (“Portal” is the longest track at 3:45), their intensity is multifaceted, multi-angular, and downright ripping. Aggression suits this project, but that’s never all that’s happening in Grin, and they’re stronger for that.

Grin on Facebook

The Lasting Dose Records on Bandcamp

Pontiac, Hard Knox

pontiac hard knox

A debut solo-band outing from guitarist, bassist, vocalist and songwriter Dave Cotton, also of Seven Nines and Tens, Pontiac‘s Hard Knox lands on strictly limited tape through Coup Sur Coup Records and is only 16 minutes long, but that’s time enough for its six songs to find connections in harmony to Beach Boys and The Beatles while sometimes dropping to a singular, semi-spoken verse in opener/longest track (immediate points, even though four minutes isn’t that long) “Glory Ragged,” which moves in one direction, stops, reorients, and shifts between genres with pastoralism and purpose. Cotton handles six-string and 12-string, but isn’t alone in Pontiac, as his Seven Nines and Tens bandmate Drew Thomas Christie handles drums, Adam Vee adds guitar, drums, a Coke bottle and a Brita filter, and CJ Wallis contributes piano to the drifty textures of “Road High” before “Exotic Tattoos of the Millennias” answers the pre-christofascism country influence shown on “Counterculture Millionaire” with an oldies swing ramble-rolling to a catchy finish. For fun I’ll dare a wild guess that Cotton‘s dad played that stuff when he was a kid, as it feels learned through osmosis, but I have no confirmation of that. It is its own kind of interpretation of progressive music, and as the beginning of a new exploration, Cotton opens doors to a swath of styles that cross genres in ways few are able to do and remain so coherent. Quick listen, and it dares you to keep up with its changes and patterns, but among its principal accomplishments is to make itself organic in scope, with Cotton cast as the weirdo mastermind in the center. They’ll reportedly play live, so heads up.

Pontiac on Bandcamp

Coup Sur Coup Records on Bandcamp

The Polvos!, Floating

the polvos floating

Already fluid as they open with the rocker “Into the Space,” exclamatory Chilean five-piece The Polvos! delve into more psychedelic reaches in “Fire Dance” and the jammy and (appropriately) floaty midsection of “Going Down,” the centerpiece of their 35-minute sophomore LP, Floating. That song bursts to life a short time later and isn’t quite as immediate as the charge of “Into the Space,” but serves as a landmark just the same as “Acid Waterfall” and “The Anubis Death” hold their tension in the drums and let the guitars go adventuring as they will. There’s maybe some aspect of Earthless influence happening, but The Polvos! meld that make-it-bigger mentality with traditional verse/chorus structures and are more grounded for it even as the spaces created in the songs give listeners an opportunity for immersion. It may not be a revolution in terms of style, but there is a conversation happening here with modern heavy psych from Europe as well that adds intrigue, and the band never go so far into their own ether so as to actually disappear. Even after the shreddy finish of “The Anubis Death,” it kind of feels like they might come back out for an encore, and you know, that’d be just fine.

The Polvos! on Facebook

Surpop Records website

Smolder Brains Records on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records store

The Cosmic Gospel, Cosmic Songs for Reptiles in Love

The Cosmic Gospel Cosmic Songs for Reptiles in Love

With a current of buzz-fuzz drawn across its eight component tracks that allow seemingly disparate moves like the Blondie disco keys in “Hot Car Song” to emerge from the acoustic “Core Memory Unlocked” before giving over to the weirdo Casio-beat bounce of “Psychrolutes Marcidus Man,” a kind of ’60s character reimagined as heavy bedroom indie, The Cosmic Gospel‘s Cosmic Songs for Reptiles in Love isn’t without its resentments, but the almost-entirely-solo-project of Mercata, Italy-based multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Medina is more defined by its sweetness of melody and gentle delivery on the whole. An experiment like the penultimate “Wrath and Gods” carries some “Revolution 9” feel, but Medina does well earlier to set a broad context amid the hook of opener “It’s Forever Midnight” and the subsequent, lightly dub beat and keyboard focus on “The Richest Guy on the Planet is My Best Friend,” such that when closer “I Sew Your Eyes So You Don’t See How I Eat Your Heart” pairs the malevolent intent of its title with light fuzzy soloing atop an easy flowing, summery flow, the album has come to make its own kind of sense and define its path. This is exactly what one would most hope for it, and as reptiles are cold-blooded, they should be used to shifts in temperature like those presented throughout. Most humans won’t get it, but you’ve never been ‘most humans,’ have you?

The Cosmic Gospel on Facebook

Bloody Sound website

Grave Speaker, Grave Speaker

grave speaker grave speaker

Massachusetts garage doomers Grave Speaker‘s self-titled debut was issued digitally by the band this past Fall and was snagged by Electric Valley Records for a vinyl release. The Mellotron melancholia that pervades the midsection of the eponymous “Grave Speaker” justifies the wax, but the cult-leaning-in-sound-if-not-theme outfit that marks a new beginning for ex-High n’ Heavy guitarist John Steele unfurl a righteously dirty fuzz over the march of “Blood of Old” at the outset and then immediately up themselves in the riffy stoner delve of “Earth and Mud.” The blown-out vocals on the latter, as well as the far-off-mic rawness of “The Bard’s Theme” that surrounds its Hendrixian solo, remind of a time when Ice Dragon roamed New England’s troubled woods, and if Grave Speaker will look to take on a similar trajectory of scope, they do more than drop hints of psychedelia here, in “Grave Speaker” and elsewhere, but they’re no more beholden to that than the Sabbathism of capper “Make Me Crawl” or the cavernous echo of “Earthbound.” It’s an initial collection, so one expects they’ll range some either way with time, but the way the production becomes part of the character of the songs speaks to a strong idea of aesthetic coming through, and the songwriting holds up to that.

Grave Speaker on Instagram

Electric Valley Records website

Surya Kris Peters, There’s Light in the Distance

Surya Kris Peters There's Light in the Distance

While at the same time proffering his most expansive vision yet of a progressive psychedelia weighted in tone, emotionally expressive and able to move its focus fluidly between its layers of keyboard, synth and guitar such that the mix feels all the more dynamic and the material all the more alive (there’s an entire sub-plot here about the growth in self-production; a discussion for another time), Surya Kris Peters‘ 10-song/46-minute There’s Light in the Distance also brings the former Samsara Blues Experiment guitarist/vocalist closer to uniting his current projects than he’s yet been, the distant light here blurring the line where Surya Kris Peters ends and the emergently-rocking Fuzz Sagrado begins. This process has been going on for the last few years following the end of his former outfit and a relocation from Germany to Brazil, but in its spacious second half as well as the push of its first, a song like “Mode Azul” feels like there’s nothing stopping it from being played on stage beyond personnel. Coinciding with that are arrangement details like the piano at the start of “Life is Just a Dream” or the synth that gives so much movement under the echoing lead in “Let’s Wait Out the Storm,” as Peters seems to find new avenues even as he works his way home to his own vision of what heavy rock can be.

Fuzz Sagrado on Facebook

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

Gozd, Unilateralis

gozd unilateralis

Unilateralis is the four-song follow-up EP to Polish heavydelvers Gozd‘s late-2023 debut album, This is Not the End, and its 20-plus minutes find a place for themselves in a doom that feels both traditional and forward thinking across eight-minute opener and longest track (immediate points, even for an EP) “Somewhere in Between” before the charge of “Rotten Humanity” answers with brasher thrust and aggressive-undercurrent stoner rock with an airy post-metallic break in the middle and rolling ending. From there, “Thanatophobia” picks up the energy from its ambient intro and explodes into its for-the-converted nod, setting up a linear build after its initial verses and seeing it through with due diligence in noise, and closer “Tentative Minds” purposefully hypnotizes with its vague-speech in the intro and casual bassline and drum swing before the riff kicks in for the finale. The largesse of its loudest moments bolster the overarching atmosphere no less than the softest standalone guitar parts, and Gozd seem wholly comfortable in the spaces between microgenres. A niche among niches, but that’s also how individuality happens, and it’s happening here.

Gozd on Facebook

BSFD Records on Facebook

Sativa Root, Kings of the Weed Age

Sativa Root Kings of the Weed Age

You wouldn’t accuse Austria’s Sativa Root of thematic subtlety on their third album, Kings of the Weed Age, which broadcasts a stoner worship in offerings like “Megalobong” and “Weedotaur” and probably whatever “F.A.T.” stands for, but that’s not what they’re going for anyway. With its titular intro starting off, spoken voices vague in the ambience, “Weedotaur”‘s 11 minutes lumber with all due bong-metallian slog, and the crush becomes central to the proceedings if not necessarily unipolar in terms of the band’s approach. That is to say, amid the onslaught of volume and tonal density in “Green Smegma” and the spin-your-head soloing in “Assassins Weed” (think Assassins Creed), the instrumentalist course undertaken may be willfully monolithic, but they’re not playing the same song five times on six tracks and calling it new. “F.A.T.” begins on a quiet stretch of guitar that recalls some of YOB‘s epics, complementing both the intro and “Weedotaur,” before bringing its full weight down on the listener again as if to underscore the message of its stoned instrumental catharsis on its way out the door. They sound like they could do this all day. It can be overwhelming at times, but that’s not really a complaint.

Sativa Root on Facebook

Sativa Root on Bandcamp

Volt Ritual, Return to Jupiter

volt ritual return to jupiter

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Mateusz, bassist Michał and drummer Tomek, Polish riffcrafters Volt Ritual are appealingly light on pretense as they offer Return to Jupiter‘s four tracks, and though as a Star Trek fan I can’t get behind their lyrical impugning of Starfleet as they imagine what Earth colonialism would look like to a somehow-populated Jupiter, they’re not short on reasons to be cynical, if in fact that’s what’s happening in the song. “Ghostpolis” follows the sample-laced instrumental opener “Heavy Metal is Good for You” and rolls loose but accessible even in its later shouts before the more uptempo “Gwiazdolot” swaps English lyrics for Polish (casting off another cultural colonialization, arguably) and providing a break ahead of the closing title-track, which is longer at 7:37 and a clear focal point for more than just bearing the name of the EP, summarizing as it does the course of the cuts before it and even bringing a last scream as if to say “Ghostpolis” wasn’t a fluke. Their 2022 debut album began with “Approaching Jupiter,” and this Return feels organically built off that while trying some new ideas in its effects and general structure. One hopes the plot continues in some way next time along this course.

Volt Ritual on Facebook

Volt Ritual on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Insect Ark Sign to Debemur Morti Productions; New Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

This news came out I think last week, and I’ll admit I was kind of hoping an album announcement would follow quickly behind. As I haven’t seen word of a new Insect Ark yet, I figured better late than never to get word up that the two-piece of Dana Schechter (known for her work in Swans and The Angels of Light as well as Gnaw, and of course Bee and Flower back when) and Tim Wyskida (for whom Khanate would be enough pedigree on its own were he not also part of Blind Idiot God) had inked a new deal with Debemur Morti Productions to issue said release sometime in the bellypart of 2024.

That probably makes it a summer arrival, which further makes it early to see anything substantive about what to expect from the first Insect Ark LP to see release since Schechter relocated the band to Berlin, Germany. 2020’s The Vanishing (review here) came out on Profound Lore, while the next year’s Future Fossils EP compilation (review here) was through Consouling Sounds in Belgium, and both were killer, but to think Schechter is going to repeat herself is laughable. Since the project’s outset, Insect Ark has maintained its experimentalist crux even as The Vanishing seemed to bring structure to the anti-genre atmospheric malevolence.

Expect more of that, I guess, if expecting such a thing is possible. The news below is little more than an Instagram post I cut and pasted. Sign of the times. Minimal though it is, here it is, with a hope of more to follow soon:

Insect Ark

We are excited to announce that INSECT ARK signed to Debemur Morti Productions. 

Insect Ark is the Berlin-based duo of American artists Dana Schechter (@swans_official) and Tim Wyskida (@officialkhanate). 

With a shared obsession for innovation and distillation, the group created a new album which will be released mid-2024, offering a sonic landscape which vacillates between sensory overload and isolation in a seething void.

Insect Ark, Future Fossils (2021)

Tags: , , ,

Samavayo to Reissue Death.March.Melodies! March 22

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

I distinctly remember being in the hotel room in Tilburg at whichever Roadburn it was circa 2010 and putting on the proper CD of Samavayo‘s Death.March.Melodies! for the first time. It was part of a stack of compact discs I’d picked up at various merch tables throughout the day; the album was released on Nasoni and I snagged it from the Exile on Mainstream distro while nerding out, trying not to be intimidated by Andreas Kohl and failing. Back in the room, I put the disc in the player and dug in. It wasn’t my first time hearing the band, whose sound has taken on nearly two decades of development since. You’ll note the mention below of Iraq War II and the post-9/11 sphere in which the album arrived. That awareness of social issues extends throughout Samavayo‘s entire career. It is part of what defines their aesthetic.

Certainly that was the case on their 2022 full-length, Pāyān (review here), which they followed later that year with the compilation Songs for the Iranian People, which it’s worth noting came before the current US war of aggression in the Middle East got started. Democrats’ poll numbers tank, they just seem to decide it’s time to bomb Yemen. Worked for Obama. As long as you have no moral scruples about being a war criminal, it’s fine.

Anyhoozle, Death.March.Melodies! will be reissued through Noisolution on March 22, Samavayo doing a bit of looking back before they invariably move forward with what’s coming next for them — live shows mostly in Germany, and probably continued writing (that’s confirmed; they’re also working on new stuff). There’s a fair amount of info below, so take your time soaking it up, and both the most recent comp and Death.March.Melodies! (original master) stream below, hoisted from Bandcamp.

From the PR wire:

Samavayo with Death March Melodies

We are very proud to announce the re-issue of our debut LP “Death.March.Melodies!” from 2005 on March 22nd through our beloved label Noisolution!

“We were young and had been quite busy in the previous years. The first 4-track demo in 2002, the first EP “131” in 2003, the second EP “Songs from the Drop-outs” in 2004 and the absolute hit on Stoned From the Underground in 2004! It was time for the first album!

We had already played a few shows in and around Berlin and through Caligula666 in other federal states and picked up various influences! And we recorded this one song in the ORWOhaus with Daniel Hassbecker: The first version of “Keep on Rollin'”.

With a colorful mix of songs with influences from punk, stoner, heavy rock and a lot of metal, we have the Death.March.Melodies in 2005! recorded. The time was marked by the wars after September 11th, especially the Second Iraq War. The artwork was just as dark!

The album paved the way for us into the European stoner scene. In 2007 we played 70 self-booked shows, including in Greece. Long before the stoner scene was as big as it is today!

Looking back, this album was not only important for us, but 18 years later we hear from various fans of the scene that this album was one of the first stoner albums by a German band and that they grew up with it. We are incredibly proud of that!

Many of our new fans over the last few years haven’t seen this album on vinyl and certain songs like “Nutso” or “Heavy Song” have also been part of our live set over the last few years!

It has been sold out for over 10 years now and we did a remaster by Pascal Stoffels and new artwork by Kiryk Drewinski. We will play shows in Feb to May where we will be adding songs from DMM. And one of the highlights is our Berlin show, the first edition of Samavayo & Friends with Mother Engine and Sons of Morpheus on April 13th!

There will be a very limited “Club 100” sale on Feb 18th 18:00 cet!

The features of the “Club 100” version are
– Protective cover with additional screen printed artwork
– Demo CD with 6 unreleased pre-production and live songs from the years 2004-2007
– Limited and exclusive patch with artwork from 2005
– Hand signed double sided poster (band photo vs. lyrics)
– Hand numbered & stamped

Our shows so far:
24.02.2024 DE Neckargemünd, Altes E-Werk – NeckargemündTicket
25.02.2024 DE Frankfurt, Zoom Frankfurt
12.03.2024 DE Hamburg, Bar 227
13.03.2024 NL Nijmegen, De Onderbroek
14.03.2024 DE Dusseldorf, Pitcher
15.03.2024 DE Siegen, VORTEX SURFER Music Club
16.03.2024 DE Erfurt, Bandhaus Erfurt
17.03.2024 DE Hannover, Kulturzentrum Faust
13.04.2024 DE Berlin, Samavayo & Friends
10.05.2024 CG Martigny, Les Caves du Manoir

more shows tba!

The Bandcamp sale will start on Feb 19th!

Samavayo is:
Stephan Voland (Drums, Vocals)
Andreas Voland (Bass, Vocals)
Behrang Alavi (Vocals, Guitar)

Samavayo, Songs for the Iranian People (2022)

Samavayo, Death.March.Melodies! (2005)

Tags: , , , , ,

Live Review: Elder at Madison Square Garden, 01.12.24

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

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Elder have played in front of big crowds. They’re inarguably one of their generation’s most influential bands and they arrive at their first arena tour in a manner almost absurdly organic, having spent years on the road in the US, Europe and elsewhere supporting legitimately groundbreaking records. The last decade-plus has seen Elder become what they are today — the celebrated vanguard of a kind of heavy progressivism that is their own even as more and more artists work under their influence in structure, atmosphere Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)melody and groove, all of which Elder offer in signature fashion.

They’re going to make some new friends on this tour. The popular wisdom has it that Tool drummer Danny Carey is the one responsible for picking their openers. Elder follow in the footsteps of Meshuggah, YOB, Author and Punisherand a slew of other good bands who were ready as they are now, and while it’s the nature of fandom that not everyone here to see the headliner would even be in the building when Elder played, I was there and you’ll pardon if that’s my main priority at just this moment.

But it felt like a big deal that it was happening, and I don’t know, maybe it was. Maybe it was a big moment for heavy rock and roll to even be in front of that many people not already converted. Maybe when your band is about to do two nights at MSG you just look at it like another tour date. Or maybe you try to. I promise I wouldn’t know.

Did Elder nail it? Well of course they did.

Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)The tour had started a couple evenings prior and would stay at MSG — dude, Elder just played where they had the first Wrestlemania — for two nights, of which this was the first, and to be honest, it wasn’t a question in my mind. Founding guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, guitarist Mike Risberg, founding bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Georg Edert have not only toured like the dickens, but as noted, they’ve spent a fair amount of time at this point on bigger stages. I saw them in August at SonicBlast Fest 2023 (review here), and they played to a crowd of thousands. I don’t know the respective headcounts, but my point is that even if you don’t count the 15-plus years that Elder have been building to where they are creatively and in terms of stage presence, they’re not a deer-in-headlights band when it comes to entertaining a mass audience. They’ve been there before.

Even if it was Madison Square Garden. Elder, playing Madison Square Garden.

They got to do three songs, which felt short and was short, but fair enough. And the three Elder songs — “Sanctuary” from 2017’s Reflections of a Floating World (review here), which has been a staple, as well as “Merged in Dreams/Ne Plus Ultra” from 2022’s Innate Passage (review here) and “Halcyon” from 2020’s Omens (review here), all over 10 minutes each — wanted nothing for substance in their intertwining twists of riff from Risberg and DiSalvo, set up on either side of the stage in that cavernous space with the luxury boxes up yonder and middle-class splurge for floor seats as they were with Donovan in between giving force to all that linear motion as Edert’s drums push and pull the material forward.

They are not a commercial band, and some headbanging and DiSalvo’s gotta-get-my-hair-out-of-my-face-anyway flip-back — also a staple — aside, they’ve never been about thrashing around on stage, so they weren’t Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)here either. But it’s a different kind of engagement, a different connection being made between a band in a room that size and a band at even a club show like Elder sold out in Boston at Sonia the other night. Intimacy is part of it, but if you think of it as the difference between you and I having a conversation and you having to communicate an idea to a room of 20 people, you’re going to change the way you speak to a larger crowd. That extends to live performance as well. If Elder were nervous — I was nervous for them, so it was covered either way — it didn’t show, and the simple truth is they’re too good a band for it to have fallen flat. Right band, right time, right place. Just so happened those all aligned around Elder at Madison Square Garden. Life is weird sometimes.

No doubt the tour will raise Elder’s profile, though if that was ever really a priority for the band they’d probably have been chasing down major labels by now, but it seems like it might be more valuable as a life experience — on this run they’re playing at a level that most heavy rock bands will never achieve, but also just being in these places and seeing how arena tours work, etc. — than something that’s going to immediately make the band some antiquated version of rock stars. So much cocaine! Not likely. As an Elder fan, I appreciated the chance to share in some piece of that experience, to be in the room when Elder at MSG happened for the first and not the last time. A win for the heavy rock and roll home team, it seemed to be.

And when they were done, cheers. They hadn’t really stopped, except for pauses in the songs, since the set started, so the end was the first real opportunity to get a sense of the response, and it was positive. I had seen a few folks rocking out on the floor as others were still coming in, the vibe very clearly monumental Elder (Photo by JJ Koczan)to some while passing as these things pass to others. I was glad to be in the former camp, and felt fortunate to have seen Elder play on that stage as I imagine many of the crowd both felt after the show and will feel years later in hindsight, because whatever happens next for, to, or with the band, they’ll keep moving forward as they always have. This just happened to be a particularly big step.

More pics after the jump. Thank you to The Patient Mrs. for the lift into Manhattan, and to the band for the access.

Read more »

Tags: , , ,

Desertfest Berlin 2024 Makes Second Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 22nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Am I taking this entire Desertfest Berlin 2024 announcement as an excuse to put on Ruff Majik‘s Elektrik Ram yet again even though I was playing it approximately 40 hours ago while writing the best-of-2023 post? You bet your ass I am. 40 hours is about as long as I’ve made it all year. Less if you count hearing the songs in your head when the music isn’t actually on.

Elsewhere here, check out Masters of Reality confirmed for both flagship Desertfests. Another record might be too weird for planet earth, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. And I’ll note that this is the first I’m hearing of a farewell tour from Pentagram to take place in 2024/2025, but apparently that’s going to be a thing. Call it a low-level surprise? Nobody’s gonna say Bobby Liebling didn’t put in his time, even if you only count since the band got going again in 2009, never mind the better part of four decades prior.

I’ll be expecting tour announcements from Mondo Generator and Ruff Majik — maybe they’ll be out together; that would kind of rule as a pairing — Daevar, Pentagram, Arthur Brown, etc., and will post accordingly when I see what I see.

From the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2024 second announce

DESERTFEST BERLIN confirms PENTAGRAM, MASTERS OF REALITY, MONDO GENERATOR & many more new band names for 2024!

Desertfest Berlin has announced new names for their eclectic 2024-edition, and confirms iconic PENTAGRAM (last Berlin show ever!), MASTERS OF REALITY, THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN, MONDO GENERATOR, RUFF MAJIK, DAEVAR, APTERA, ZAHN, ZERRE and EINSEINSEINS! Get ready for THE riff party of the year – aside a wild and high-class blend of finest psychedelia, stoner rock, doom, desert punk blues, sludge and all that is metal, this is also going to be your last chance to see PENTAGRAM live in Berlin on their final Farewell Tour in 2024/2025!

Desertfest Berlin will take place between May 24 – 26, 2024 at Columbiahalle and Columbia Theater. Tickets, that would also make some perfect Xmas gift, are on sale at:



Ruff Majik, Elektrik Ram (2023)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Grin to Release Hush Feb. 16; Title-Track Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


As to why Berlin duo Grin went so far as to include all six tracks from their 2023 EP, Black Nothingness (review here), on the upcoming full-length, Hush, I think the obvious answer is probably the correct one: they fucking felt like it. And when a band is so vigilantly DIY — vocalist/drummer/studio guitarist Jan Oberg and bassist Sabine Oberg record and release their own material across a range of projects — you probably get pretty used to working by that standard. Given what they’ve done to this point, one neither could nor would ask them to do otherwise.

The opening title-track of Hush is streaming now, and if you heard Black Nothingness or are up for a listen, that’s down at the bottom of this post as well — certainly relevant since between the two nearly half the 16-song long-player is available. I like that I have no idea what this record might sound like yet, but you know what? I aim to find out in short order. Feb. 16 is the release date, through the band’s The Lasting Dose Records imprint. Fucking a.

Info follows from the PR wire. Preorders are up on Bandcamp in a swath of editions. Link also below:

grin hush


Hush will be available as CD, Vinyl and Digital formats on February 16, 2024.

Presenting their fourth full-length album, GRIN continue to unravel the thread of their psychedelic destiny with an extensive exercise in absurd heaviness and DIY ethics. Breaking new ground with alien textures and foreign grooves, these 16 tracks see the Berliner power couple crafting their other-worldly dunescapes from the sands of time, dragging you deeper into their universe of dust bowl mythology and cosmic horror.

Consisting of Jan Oberg (drums, guitars, vocals) and Sabine Oberg (bass), GRIN have been building their brand of heavy psych-doom since their 2018 debut.

Ever since, the pair have been gradually moving towards a more subtle interplay of heavy grooves and unsettling atmospheres that both evoke the earthy tones of psychedelic rock as well as the celestial atmospheres of post-metal.

With Hush GRIN elaborate on the old school tendencies of their latest EP Black Nothingness. This back-to-basics exercise saw the duo work the magic of their organic combination of bass and drums in six barebones bangers that included some of the heaviest riffs recorded this year. Now they reworked those same tracks seamlessly into a larger entity that constitutes a Lovecraftian space saga built from their primeval magic.

Across forty minutes GRIN find a bizarre balance between the exotic and the alienating, conjuring strangling fruits and unfathomable tastes before our senses.

Tracks like «Neon Skies» conjure up vistas of alien cityscapes against foreign sunsets with distant layering chants hailing a chorus of distorted shakers like robot crickets in the evening sky. «Venom» features the bongos from hell posing against a fuzzy bass groove engulfed by layered screams. Playing with noise and texture like the Death Grips of Doom, Jan and Sabine manage to underlay every heavy groove with a plethora of alien noises and screeches without ever losing sight of the head-bobbing quality of their music.

Featuring many straight up bangers like the short sharp «Midnight Blue Sorrows» or the fast-paced mosher «Pyramid», Hush is definitely a song-focused affair, but with its strong overarching theme and sound GRIN still manage to drag you along on a bedazzling journey. Combining the unsettling with the skull-crushing, Hush will have your head spinning and your mind tripping out in the space between the lo-fi and highly dynamic. An unforgettable cinematic experience of textures, grooves and chilling atmospheres!

Produced, mixed and mastered by Jan Oberg at HIDDEN PLANET STUDIO / Berlin Artwork & Layout by Mirkow Gastow.

1. Hush
2. Calice
3. Gatekeeper
4. Midnight Blue Sorrow
5. Talons
6. Portal
7. Neon Skies
8. Vortex
9. Silver
10. Pyramid
11. Deathbringers
12. Nothingness
13. Venom
14. Eyes Like Daggers
15. The Tempest of Time
16. Torre del Serpe

Sabine Oberg – Bass Guitar
Jan Oberg – Drums, Vocals, Guitars, Soundscapes
Guitar solo on PORTAL performed by Caspar Orfgen (DAEVAR)

Grin, Hush (2024)

Grin, Black Nothingness (2023)

Tags: , , , , ,