Alunah to Reissue Amber & Gold on Majestic Mountain Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

UK doom-rocker four-piece Alunah recently reissued their 2018 Amber & Gold EP (review here) on CD through Solitude Productions, and word has come of Majestic Mountain Records following up with a corresponding vinyl issue due out at the end of next month. Preorders soon, so hold your doomly horses. This was of course the release that saw the band introduce Siân Greenaway on vocals, her striking first impression made across three originals and a cover of Chris Isaak‘s “Wicked Game” that has become something of a landmark for this version of Alunah, who have also already been confirmed for Desertfest London 2022.

Way back in 2019 — which somehow seems longer ago than 2018; go figure — Alunah offered up Violet Hour (review here) on Heavy Psych Sounds as their full-length answer to Amber & Gold, and you’ll find both EP and LP streaming at the bottom of this post, because, well, one likes to be thorough. And one likes Alunah. So there.

One, in this case, is me. If that wasn’t clear.

Okay. Good talk. Here’s PR wire:


The Majestic Mountain Newswire is at it again with a truly scintillating treat for you all!

It is our great pleasure to announce a Majestic Mountain Records re-issue of Alunah’s stunning, long sold out 2018 EP, ‘Amber & Gold.’

The re-release will be very limited to 300 copies in two editions of 150 copies each. The pre-order will take place in August with details soon to come- the test pressing is already approved on this so vinyl will be shipping at the end of the month!

‘Amber & Gold’ is a beautifully captivating, four track EP full of spellbinding, impactful lyricism and melancholic tension communicated by vocalist Siân Greenway who gives an incredibly soulful and commanding, yet fluidly sensual performance. Her vocals ring ethereally forward, crystal clear and melodically mesmerizing through a richly woven and hook laden tapestry of primal, crunchy, chugging riff mastery, thick, burly bass tones and thundering drums. This ep is a treasure trove of highly emotive and groove laden doom sauce poured on thick and in the highest quality with a cavernous grandiosity that almost sounds live from the heart of some ancient druidess’s temple and is capped off by a brooding cover of the classic track “Wicked Game” by the one and only Chris Isaak.

Yes, you know the one.

Keep an eye out for more info about the presale to come as this release without question will not stick around long once it hits the ground in August.

Amber & Gold CD edition:

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
Dean Ashton – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums!/alunah_doom

Alunah, Amber & Gold (2018)

Alunah, Violet Hour (2019)

Tags: , , , , ,

Alunah Announce July UK Shows; Amber & Gold CD Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 20th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


Would you believe me if I told you these Alunah tour dates had been rescheduled? Yes, of course you would, because you too have lived through the last year-plus and are old enough to read this sentence. Kudos on that, by the way.

Yes, Alunah originally announced this relatively brief UK run last September, and at the time it was a Feb. 2021 tour. Well. We know how February went — as in, it did, without shows. Fortunately, however, Alunah have persisted — and likewise their booking agency — and a new round of gigs has been confirmed for July. Okay. According to the BBC as of four days ago, the hope in England is that all nightclubs will be able to fully reopen no later than June 21. That seems ambitious to me, but I have to acknowledge that I base my own assessment on other than my trauma-induced skepticism and Boris Johnson’s hair. I know next to nothing of vaccination or case rates in England and Scotland, where these shows will happen. But still.

So hey, maybe Alunah are rolling the dice a little bit, cutting it close with July shows. If it works, triumph! If not, they reschedule again. It’s not like they’re losing anything by giving it a shot and the potential gain of being someone’s first show post-lockdown is the stuff of for-a-lifetime memories. Worth it, I’d think.

The dates follow here, and in addition to 2019’s Violet Hour (review here) still being readily available on Heavy Psych Sounds, on March 26, the band issued a CD version of their prior 2018 EP, Amber & Gold (review here), through Solitude Productions. Links for that are below as well:

alunah tour

Alunah – UK Tour July 2021

14 July Birmingham UK Dead Wax
15 July London UK Black Heart
16 July Bradford UK Nightrain
17 July Glasgow UK Audio
18 July Manchester UK Star & Garter

Amber & Gold CD edition:

Alunah is:
Siân Greenaway – Vocals
Dean Ashton – Guitar
Daniel Burchmore – Bass
Jake Mason – Drums!/alunah_doom

Alunah, Violet Hour (2019)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Godflesh, Godflesh

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 26th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

It’s been 33 years since Godflesh released this self-titled EP, and it’s still ahead of its time. That’s utter hyperbole, right? Nonsense. The kind of fluff lazy writers throw out there when something is good and has made an impact. For sure. Until you listen to it.

Godflesh, founded by guitarist/vocalist/synthesist Justin K. Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green following a stint together in a group called Fall of Because, weren’t the first band out there to bring together the sides of electronic music and rock. Krautrock had been doing it for over a decade by then. Ministry were offering up The Land of Rape and Honey the same year, and Skinny Puppy had already been going for more than half a decade, as well as others in the darker/gothier vein. But with Broadrick and Green, the rawness of their presentation became an instrument unto itself, and the repetitive churn of the drum machine they were playing to on these tracks became in itself an emblem of the disaffection, monotony, and emotional malaise the songs were bringing to bear.

They were kids asking “what the fuck?” and this EP became their way of phrasing the question.

The rumble of “Avalanche Master Song,” the echoes and whines in “Veins,” the oh-so-very-very-very-English brooding in “Godhead” and the mechanized discordant noise of “Spinebender” — these songs have a solid emotive base under them, and for all the putoff and bombast one might hear in their crashing, it’s a fragile sound, like the duo were processing trauma as much as drum beats. The guttural dismay in “Weak Flesh” and almost punkish run that ensues there feels with the benefit of over three decades of hindsight almost singular in its expression. Godflesh might not have been the first — much as fellow Birmingham natives Black Sabbath weren’t the first to bring together blues rock and a heavier low-end underpinning — but no one had done it quite like they were doing it, and the sonic persona that comes through on the six tracks of the original Godflesh EP, still just half an hour long, are post-modernism in the form of metallic songwriting. That feeling of abandonment in “Ice Nerveshatter?” Yeah, that’s god being dead.

Lines in that song like, “I am defeated, I gotta walk away/I won’t walk away, let me see/And I needed this you watch me/I’ll bleed to death, watch me,” and the screams and concluding digital wash to which they lead bring a kind of human, personal edge to what seems so much to be a purposefully inhuman sound, Broadrick‘s shouts echoing out into nothing. There are other bands who built entire careers off trying to accomplish the same thing and not doing it nearly so organically.

True, the first sounds you hear on the EP are digitized. It’s almost keyboard grindcore behind a metronome count-in — what today might be a click track with a digital boop — and then a few seconds later, the song crashes in. And I do mean “crashes,” as in, it almost comes across as accidental. In those key first few seconds, Godflesh aren’t trying to make some grand triumphant entrance; “Here we are, you didn’t even know you’d been waiting for us.” Instead, “Avalanche Master Song” godflesh godfleshexcoriates hypocrisy in working class culture — these were the Thatcher years — and unveils a perspective that is urgent, clever, and vicious, which goes on not to spare the self from its own wrath, lashing in and out alike.

Godflesh are of a caliber of band, like Sabbath, like Motörhead, where the influence they’ve had is pervasive and monumental enough that there’s really no way to fairly estimate it. At least two generations of bands across disparate genres have benefitted by learning from their work, whether it was the rise of industrial-tinged metal in the ’90s (for better or worse; some of that stuff was and remains awful), a current wave of same, or the rhythmic cues that a group like Isis took from Godflesh and made their own. Of course Godflesh — which would see reissue through Earache in 1990 with “Wounds” and “Streetcleaner 2” added, to bring the running time over a CD-era’s 50-minute span — would end overshadowed by its successor in the band’s 1989 landmark, Streetcleaner, and yeah, fair enough for the continued relevance that record and the band’s subsequent work has had. But the EP serves as a convenient, potent reminder of how just because something involves synthesizer or keyboard or a drum machine, that doesn’t mean it needs to be void of emotion.

One of the most important aspects to keep in mind when listening to the Godflesh EP — which for context I’d recommend doing without the extra tracks included in the version above, though they serve a different purpose — is how raw it is. It was recorded by the band, and it sounds like it, but that becomes essential to the character of the release. So much of the industrial that emerged in Godflesh‘s wake was chrome-polished. Godflesh sound like they’re covered in rust and oil sludge. In this way, the intervening years not only makes these songs a challenge to the chestbeating heavy metal that was coming out at the time, something that dared to find strength in its own fragility, but a further challenge to those who would cloak themselves in a mechanized veneer to remain human at the core. In 33 years, no one has managed to do this thing as well as this band.

Between 1989 and 2001, Godflesh toured the world and put out six albums, the last one of which, 2001’s Hymns, led Broadrick into his next project, the more melodic and atmospheric Jesu. Godflesh would reunite a decade later and since 2011 have continued to tour and offer releases on their own terms — the 2014 EP, Decline & Fall (review here), was followed that same year by A World Lit Only by Fire (review here), and after several more years of shows, they offered Post Self (review here) late in 2017. It remains their most recent outing, but Broadrick has been active as ever, working under his own name, his alias JK Flesh and releasing Jesu‘s Terminus (discussed here) in 2020 as their first full-length in seven years.

I should note that the above stream comes from the Earache Bandcamp page. The band also has a separate Bandcamp set up with their more recent stuff. I know the label has been involved in a number of contract disputes over the years, but can’t speak to whether or not they have one with Godflesh. I just wanted to make sure you had the link to their newer material as well.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

I need some Advil. Hang on.


I went back to the oral surgeon’s office this week because despite the fact that the molar is now gone — bye bye — the fistula on the side of my gumline was still there and needed to be drained. I’ve done two rounds of antibiotics. I’m thinking it might just be time to have my jaw replaced with a robotic one like whatshisface from The Venture Bros., and yes, I know Venture Bros. because I’m a dude of a certain age.

Anyway, it continues to be sore as well. It’s now been over two weeks but the guy who removed the tooth called the roots “stubborn,” so it’s not such a surprise given the amount of physical effort I saw on his part that, yeah, I’d feel some residual discomfort. It was the pus that sent me back to the office. I saw a different surgeon, who first congratulated me on the size of the original infection in my jaw — “that’s one for the record books” — didn’t take an x-ray, and then told me everything looked good. That was enough to get me out of the office, but on further thought it just seems too easy.

This shit was infected for the better part of 2020 and I just couldn’t do anything about it. So I lost the tooth — I won’t miss it — and had the infection scraped out and the antibiotics and the bone graft, but yeah, it all still seems not-as-complicated-as-it-possibly-could-be-and-therefore-inevitably-must-be. I have my originally-scheduled follow-up Monday afternoon, and I just imagine the guy doing an x-ray, seeing there’s still more infection underneath, and having to go back in, scrape out the first graft, tunnel deeper into the bone of my jaw, which, yes, had a gaping hole in it, and then give me yet another graft at the end of that process. Doesn’t sound likely to you? Welcome to your life not as me.

Speaking of schedules, I’m supposedly getting my first COVID-19 vaccine dose this afternoon. I’ll believe it when they pull the needle back out from my arm. The Patient Mrs. had her second shot on… Wednesday? Yeah, Wednesday. It summarily put her on her ass for the bulk of yesterday, fever, aches. She says she’s a little headachy today but otherwise alright. Seems a fair trade to avoid the ol’ firelung there.

Yesterday morning, I went to Moonlight Mile in Hoboken and recorded vocals on a demo for what might be a new project in the works. We’ll see. It was pretty brutal, and it all came together on the quick. I reached out to them with the idea I think on Monday. In less than 24 hours, there was the demo track (and two more in the works besides) waiting for vocals. I took Wednesday to get lyrics and patterns, then recorded yesterday. As a proof-of-concept, I thought it came out well, but we’ll see. They might tell me to fuck off. Always a possibility. I have never been easy to work with on really any level. You may be surprised to find out I have a habit of expressing opinions. I know, right?

Plus I’m crazy and suck at reading people. So yeah, I try to walk on eggshells, especially starting something new. I get excited and forget myself.

In any case, if nothing else comes of it, recording screams and grows on that one track I did yesterday was the most fun I ever had with a studio experience. If it goes nowhere, I’d be perfectly happy to have that as my last-ever memory of recording. Even with the jaw pain.

I put more logs on the fire in the fireplace. It’s 9AM. It’s been chilly in the mornings as I’ve been getting up, so I light a fire and at least it warms my brain if nothing else. Then I drink coffee and get overheated. Then I drink iced tea and get cold again. Then I type some. And that’s existence.

No Gimme show this week, but I turned in the playlist for the one next Friday and voice recordings. I do more talking on it, which they asked for, in shorter breaks. And most of it is shorter songs. The longest I think was Earthless at 14 minutes. Compared to last episode which only had two tracks, that’s quite a shift.

Busy week as ever. More questionnaires and reviews and streams and all this and that. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Stay well, stay hydrated. I’ll be around if anyone needs me.


The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch


Tags: , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Jesu, Terminus

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

By no means has Jesu been dormant, it’s just been seven years since the last time there was an album out. 2013’s Every Day I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came occurred even as project founder, spearhead and sometimes-sole-member Justin K. Broadrick had already begun to revive and push forward with his other band, Godflesh. That wildly influential UK act would release a live album recorded at Roadburn playing the groundbreaking 1989 Streetcleaner LP in its entirety, the 2014 Decline and Fall EP (review here), and two full-lengths, 2014’s A World Lit Only by Fire (review here) and 2017’s Post-Self (review here), as well as sundry other short offerings/one-offs, in the intervening years. As Godflesh ascended to priority, the two-piece also played numerous festivals around the world — they’d eventually do 1991’s Pure in full as well — and thereby further cement their legacy with a new generation of fans.

But again, Jesu — also stylized all-lowercase: jesu, and pronounced “yay-zoo” — weren’t entirely gone. There were collaborations with Dirk Serries and Sun Kill Moon in 2016 and 2017, and a redux collaboration based on the track “Christmas” with Yang Li in 2018. An EP, Never, landed in July 2020, and the awaited full-length return of Jesu comes in the somewhat forebodingly titled Terminus, an eight-track/51-minute outing that speaks of endings and beginnings, delves into personal introspection, and ultimately finds its place emotionally and sonically drifting, floating away atop a gentle sea of heavy post-rock. Terminus brings its share of lumbering riffs in its opener “When I Was Small” and its title-track, “Sleeping In” and the later “Disintegrating Wings,” and a churning rhythm is nothing less than a sonic signature for Broadrick. But on a creative level, he’s no more held to that here than he is the barking shouts and harsh beats one might find on a Godflesh release. Jesu is simply and has (mostly) been since its 2004 Heart Ache EP and self-titled full-length a different incarnation of Broadrick‘s creative process — and it should be noted that neither is that process so delineated in terms of two manifestations. See also: JKFlesh, production and remixing work done under his own name, and various others through the years, FinalTechno Animal, and so on.

And given that is has been more than half a decade since the prior LP, Terminus‘ arrival comes with due welcome. Tracked mostly by Broadrick himself on guitar, synth, vocals andjesu terminus who-kn0ws-what-else with Ted Parsons on drums for “When I Was Small,” “Terminus” and “Don’t Wake Me Up,” its general atmosphere is familiar ground for Jesu in emotive explorations of past and present, lyrics looking to moments of regret, wistfulness and sometimes self-critique. At one point in “Alone,” Broadrick asks, “Am I your sight?/Or just a slight?,” even as “Disintegrating Wings” seems to make a more outward-looking assessment, “Lies are your truth/Truth is your lies,” that, as with any discussion of too-fragile objective veracity, is easy enough to place within the sphere of modern social discourse. Whether that’s Broadrick‘s intent or not, I don’t know — I’d be glad to ask; it’s been nearly a decade since I last interviewed him — as the lyrics are purposefully impressionistic in keeping with the vague outlines of the cover art and indeed the blurring between styles in the music itself, evoking the same questions the title-cut engages as to where an ending ends and a beginning begins. Maybe we’re not supposed to know, and indeed the album does close with the hypnotic instrumental “Give Up,” shoving off on a steadily fading beat that seems consumed by a wash of looped guitar and synthesized melody.

That sort of wandering course, a build up perhaps from an initial experiment or melody that pans out in a direction as it goes, is a crucial foundation for Jesu‘s work, and that holds even in “When I Was Small,” which is arguably the most straightforward of inclusions here. It’s all the more fitting, then, that the leadoff track comes immediately accompanied by “Alone,” the shortest piece at 4:19 and a near-immediate surge of melodicism and hook-making that in other hands would simply be summer-ready pop, but here has a metal-on-metal clang of a beat keeping time to Broadrick‘s dreamy vocals and winding synth. Lyrics toy with rhymes — “well, tell, hell” and “bright, light, sight, slight” in the two verses — and though clearly the song is intended to engage with pop and Britpop in particular, there is an element of twist in terms of aesthetic and it holds to the depth of mix that the opener established.

“Terminus” (9:30) and “Sleeping In” (8:39) feel paired for immersion. Once Terminus has gotten its throw-you-for-a-loop first 10 minutes out of the way in “When I Was Small” and “Alone,” it digs into its own atmospheric heart in the title-track, not departing entirely from the weight of “When I Was Small” or even the shimmer of “Alone,” but using both as elements in its own linear structure, capping with a gentle letting go and stretch of silence ahead of “Sleeping In,” which unfolds gradually, beautifully and with a patience that shifts smoothly into the cinematic post-rock of “Consciousness” with a masterful touch. That sets up the final stretch of Terminus in the relatively subdued, minimal-feeling-but-not-actually-minimal “Disintegrating Wings,” and the leaving-here last pair of “Don’t Wake Me Up” and “Give Up,” the former of which dedicates its second half to a brighter-sounding freedom, and the latter which is all the more ethereal for its lack of component verses even as it holds its beat for much of the duration.

Put together in a period between 2016 and this year, Jesu released Terminus last week. I didn’t know it was coming, but I bought it and wanted to write about it and somehow this seemed like the appropriate way to do that. I don’t know what if anything it foretells about a direction for Broadrick — if Terminus is his way of putting Godflesh to rest for the time being and shifting back toward Jesu as a primary outlet — or if that’s something that really could be known at this point, if it matters one way or the other.

What matters, of course, is the music. As always, I hope you enjoy that.

Thanks for reading.

Yesterday I was feeling in need of an outside reminder of why I do this. I was busy chasing down The Pecan, who for the last several weeks since it started to get colder and we haven’t been outside as much, has been furiously butting heads and increasingly rigid in his demands for things to be a certain way, and I saw some email or message whatever it was come in nagging about some low-stakes shit and I very nearly texted a friend and asked what the fuck I need this for in my life at this point. I didn’t, mind you, but the fact that I even came close to doing so is out of character for me.

I’m not fishing for compliments. I’m not. I get notes from people who say thanks for doing this and that means a tremendous amount. It was just kind of a rut week, watching COVID-19 case levels rise, putting the house back on lockdown as we have, kid not napping in the afternoon anymore, my fucking body, etc. On Wednesday I took a whole xanax and fell asleep watching Daniel Tiger on the couch with The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan before the latter went to bed. Actually got some decent snuggles. It was probably the highlight of my week. That and the Grayceon record, anyhow.

Did you listen to that fucking song? Why the fuck not?

I don’t know what’s going on today. I was gonna take The Pecan and do a pre-weekend grocery run to Shop-Rite, which is apparently the only store on the planet that has the right granola bars — Amy’s Organics Oatmeal Raisin, in the red box — but I don’t know about dealing with other humans, especially as it’ll be circa lunchtime when The Pecan’s bus drops him off, and that place fills up because of prepared foods, etc. There’s really no right answer at this point for leaving the house, except maybe 7 in the morning or 9 at night and I’m hopefully asleep by then.

Ah hell, kid just got up. I can hear him thumping around upstairs and he ran in his closet, which means dirty diaper coming soon into my future. Better punch out here.

Great and safe weekend. I’m gonna try and take a few minutes tomorrow to get my head together. We’ll see how it goes. Hydrate, wear a mask and all that. Much love.


The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

Tags: , , , , , ,

Friday Full-Length: Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman (1981)

Nostalgia, plain and simple. I have a lot of positive associations with Diary of a Madman, as I do with other early Ozzy Osbourne solo works like 1980’s Blizzard of Ozz and 1983’s Bark at the Moon, as well as the 1987 Tribute live album honoring guitarist Randy Rhoads, who passed away on tour in 1982. Diary of a Madman, then, is the last record Rhoads also played on, and it’s also the last Ozzy album to feature drummer Lee Kerslake, who passed died of cancer last month and was also a former member of Uriah Heep.

Of course, bassist Bob Daisley and Kerslake were thoroughly screwed over first when not initially given credit for appearing and writing on the album and then in 2002 when their bass and drum tracks were re-recorded by then-Ozzy band members Robert Trujillo (now Metallica) and Mike Bordijn (Faith No More). Might be heresy to say it, but I thought Trujillo‘s punchy bass worked well behind the sharp cut-through of Rhoads‘ guitar tone, though of course the contractual disagreement, lawsuit (which Kerslake and Daisley won) and questionable business ethics involved in replacing those parts of the original LP tally up to a conclusion of “probably never should’ve happened in the first place.” In any case, it wasn’t Trujillo or Bordijn‘s fault.

But the original Diary of a Madman remains a special beast. Released in Nov. 1981, it is an album I associate with the end of summer and the coming of Fall — something about the crispness of its production. Its title-track gives it a somewhat darker atmosphere, building on the inclusion of classical acoustic guitar of “Revelation: Mother Earth” from the album prior, but the rockers-up-front momentum established with “Over the Mountain” and “Flying High Again” is quintessential Ozzy and arguably the best one-two punch he’d offer in his now-40-year-long solo career.

That’s not to take away from “I Don’t Know” and “Crazy Train” at the outset of Blizzard of Ozz — I’d never recommend consuming one album and totally ignoring the other; they’re both pivotal documents of heavy metal, in the ’80s and more generally — but the purpose is so clear on Diary of a Madman, the engagement with the audience so direct, and where Blizzard was casting an identity for who Ozzy Osbourne would be as a frontman after being unceremoniously dismissedozzy osbourne diary of a madman from Black Sabbath following 1978’s Never Say Die!, the shift from 1980 and 1981, the time on tour, meant that identity was set and Diary of a Madman could be approached with confidence, with character and with a feel that would continue to define Osbourne‘s work on various levels throughout the rest of his career to-date.

It is unmistakably a classic.

And maybe for that reason, and the fact that I have a strong personal association with these songs — I remember riding around with older friends before I had a drivers license of my own, absolutely blasting the album, 20-odd years ago — it’s harder to think objectively or write about, but that’s always been part of the appeal of Ozzy‘s solo work as well. He’s never been a critical success in the moment. It’s been through hindsight and audience response/loyalty that he and his band have most made their mark over time.

To an extent, one might say the same of Black Sabbath, though I’d put that group’s influence in a greater echelon at this point — notably, one might not have said the same thing before Osbourne reunited with Sabbath in 1997 and thereby introduced an entirely new generation (mine, for what it’s worth) to the experience of that band on stage. Even Osbourne‘s 2020 studio album, Ordinary Man (review here), which is his first in a decade, featured a host of guests, ace, energetic songwriting, and was came along with the news of a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease on the part of the metallic godfather himself was greeted with a collective critical shrug. So it goes, and while I doubt Ordinary Man will have the lasting impact of Diary of a Madman or other early Ozzy LPs — because how many times can you really ask lightning to strike? — the point stands.

Dig further into Diary of a Madman and you’ll find more atmosphere and little dip in quality from its outset. “‘You Can’t Kill Rock ‘n’ Roll,” at six and a half minutes, is a glorious showcase for Rhoads and what seems to be an attempt to out-Rainbow Rainbow — keyboardist Don Airey played in both groups, Johnny Cook played on this album because Airey was on tour — and feels absolutely written for the stage, while “Believer” and “Little Dolls” offer sneaky hooks and more further air-tight performances by the trio being Osbourne himself. Tucked away neatly on side B, “Tonight” flirts effectively with more commercial fare, and it’s contrasted by the album’s hidden gem in the more chaotic “S.A.T.O.,” on which Kerslake shines in manic fashion, Rhoads indulges a bit of noise, Daisley holds it all together and Osbourne still manages to sneak in a chorus.

Somewhat overshadowed by the closing title-track that follows, “S.A.T.O.” carries a proto-thrash spirit and is about as dirty as Diary of a Madman gets, the usual poised stateliness of Rhoads‘ playing — recall that at this point, heavy metal was largely questing for legitimacy as a genre — let loose a bit over the charging progression of the central groove. Slower, and with a more dramatic, narrative spirit — the string and choral arrangements help — “Diary of a Madman” rounds out with a willful delve into grandiosity that the rest of the album has largely avoided and works all the more for that. It is distinct among Osbourne‘s output before or since, and I’ll gladly place it among the most important heavy metal songs ever written.

At this point, Diary of a Madman and the era of Ozzy Osbourne‘s career it represents have a legacy all their own, apart from what came before or after. Maybe you have your own memories tied to it, or maybe not. Either way, the accomplishments of craft and performance it carries remain vital. To call it a landmark doesn’t suffice, but it is that anyhow.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Rainy Friday morning. Blah. Maybe I’ll get to run later. It’s been a while since I did so during daylight hours, might be interesting. Might not. I should’ve gone yesterday AM but wanted to finish writing and was beat besides.

Up and down week. Yesterday was brutal, and I’m not just talking about how metal the Enslaved stream was. The morning went relatively quick, but I’d swear the seven hours between 11AM-6PM were some of the longest I’ve ever had. Dead on my feet. Just totally dead. And I made the mistake of letting The Pecan stay downstairs and hang out rather than go up for nap since I knew he’d just run in his closet and poop and need to be changed then not sleep anyway. No right answer there, it seems.

And the rest of the week before that? I don’t know. Busy, maybe? Grocery shopping? Being worried about the election? Looking at construction equipment with The Pecan? I know I ate too much nut butter (made a hazelnut/salted macadamia combo that was facemeltingly good) and felt bad about that, if that helps. And I wanted to cook chicken and make pesto all week and didn’t have the energy to do it. So there’s life as it is, I guess. Today’s my day. Spaghetti squash awaits. Tanner Olson from Across Tundras was kind enough to send me some garlic from his farm in Nebraska and I intend to put it to use.

His new album is out today. It’s Bandcamp Friday. I posted a few links to stuff on Thee Facebooks, but if you didn’t see, it was Kind, White Canyon & the 5th Dimension, REZN, Revvnant and Changeörder. Support.

New Gimme show at 5pm today.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. I have no idea how I’ll get through it but what else is new.

Alright, that’s enough for me. Be safe, hydrate. Have fun. All that.


The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch


Tags: , , , , ,

EMBR Premiere “Where I’ve Been” Video; Debut LP 1823 out July 17

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan


Birmingham, Alabama, atmospheric doom four-piece EMBR will release their debut full-length, 1823, on July 17 through New Heavy Sounds, and if you stick around until the end of the new single “Where I’ve Been” taken from the seven-song/40-minute offering, you’ll catch a vicious scream from vocalist Crystal Bigelow. That’s a theme to which the band returns throughout the offering, but the most significant impression of 1823 is also right there in the same track’s blend of tonal heft and melody. Guitarist Mark Buchanan and bassist Alan Light crunch out weighted riffs and chug as Crystal‘s voice careens overhead in the mix, drummer Eric Bigelow anchoring the proceedings and rolling them forward from one verse to the next.

Opener “Prurient,” which directly precedes “Where I’ve Been” on the album, is more immediate in its execution, but if EMBR are quick to showcase their breadth early on in the record, that’s something that only continues to serve them well as the rest plays out, the sprawl early on in the subsequent “Stranger” giving way to an especially massive lumber before receding again, demonstrating an awareness of structural variation as well as an ability to simply shift between levels of aggression, tempo, and so on.

Those with a veteran experience of New Heavy Sounds‘ output might be tempted to hear “Where I’ve Been” and liken EMBR with Welsh outfit Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, and granted some of the melodic float is a shared aspect, but aside from a lack of sci-fi thematic throughout, certainly the growls and screams that intertwine in the verses of “Powder” are a distinguishing factor, and one Crystal uses fluidly to add richness to the material. She works in layers on “Powder,” and though it’s one of just two tracks under five minutes long on the album, it earns its place as the centerpiece both through embr 1823its sheer impact and through the shift it represents in style.

With “Eyes Like Knives” unfolding with an emphasis on patience after, EMBR bring out some synthsizer to further bolster the melody as 1823 works into its second side, and though they weren’t exactly daring monotony up to that point, neither does it feel like too much, the depth of the mix allowing plenty of space for the additional element. “Eyes Like Knives” resolves in a memorable hook with the line, “Come and take it all away,” repeated, ahead of a last crash and amplifier hum transitioning into the quiet start of “Your Burden,” which surges forward before its first minute, the guitar finding a melancholic place that is both familiarly doomed and distinct in its conveying of mood. The verse opens and Crystal enters over quiet guitar, bass and drums, but naturally the chorus picks back up, and surprisingly, “Your Burden” doesn’t recede again until the close.

Harmonies at the outset of closer/longest track “Vines” (6:50) offer a false sense of security for the harshness to follow. Atop backing growls, Crystal‘s rings out, lines delivered atop sustained shouts in a repeating cycle, dramatic and of considerable presence. A tolling bell and nastier screaming takes hold after the midpoint, and the song caps with a final melodic stretch giving way to leftover guitar and ambient noise, speaking as did the harmonies throughout to a progressive bent that, even after three prior EPs, EMBR seem to be just beginning to explore.

As 1823 ends its run, it characterizes EMBR somewhere between doom and ambient sludge or post-metal, but one of the most encouraging aspects of the album is that it’s less about conforming to style than it is about offering its own take through largesse and range alike, the changes in structure and arrangement adding to the focus on craft that is so prevalent throughout. These aren’t days for making predictions, so I won’t take a stab at what it might lead to, but fortunately 1823 offers a satisfying enough listen that one has no real need to leave the moment.

The video for “Where I’ve Been” is premiering below. Beneath that is more background from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

EMBR, “Where I’ve Been” official video premiere


Within the genre of heavy metal there can be an abundance of variation, color, texture and tone. There are many different shades and many different categories within that catch-all phrase. It’s not all about throat ripping vocals or Neanderthal riffage. As many who are not drawn metal’s immediate charms may perceive.

Heavy music can encompass a whole panoply of sounds, moods and ambition. It can surround you with emotional elegance and distressing chaos. There can be subtleness, thoughtfulness and deep introspection even when things get exceptionally heavy.

This is why New Heavy Sounds is thrilled to unveil our latest signing. We have partnered with four musically kindred spirits from Birmingham, Alabama, collectively known as EMBR. EMBR tick all the boxes overhead and beyond. We are very excited to be releasing their debut full length album ‘1823’.

EMBR already have 3 mighty EP’s under their belt. ‘261’ released in 2016. ‘271’ released in 2017 and their last EP titled 326: Spiritual Dialysis’ released in 2018. All 3 got them on the heavy underground radar.

After these 3 releases EMBR spent most of 2019 writing 7 new songs for ‘1823’. The album was recorded by Matt Washburn at Ledbelly Sound Studio (Mastodon, Royal Thunder) in Dawsonville Ga.

At this point, it is worth stating that the title ‘1823’ has special significance. It’s not just a numerical title, it has substance. Eric Bigelow (drummer) has been on the list for a kidney for around 4 years.

Eric received a kidney transplant in May of 2019. This happened right in the middle of writing the album. The kidney was from a deceased donor and all Eric and Crystal Bigelow (singer and Eric’s wife) know about the donor is that it was a young woman between the ages of 18-23. The album is dedicated to the donor and the surgeons at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville TN. And what a fine tribute it is.

Musically ‘1823’ could be categorized as ‘Doom’. However, on this debut it’s obvious that EMBR have range, drive and a desire to add to the genre, to broaden it whilst staying true to its core fundamentals.

Rest assured, the band have all the nuts and bolts in place. Mark Buchanan (guitar), Alan Light (bass) and Eric Bigelow (drums) keep everything tight and weighty. Massive drop-tuned guitars, chest rattling low end, pounding drums, fuzzy distortion, it’s all there. But they also add in synths, a bit of grunge and alt rock flavors.

‘1823’ is set for release on New Heavy Sounds on July 17th 2020.

Like all NHS releases there will be a deluxe vinyl LP, in 2 color Black/Blue cosmic swirl vinyl. With printed lyric inner and full download. CD 4 panel digipack, with lyric booklet. Also available on all digital platforms.

Artist: EMBR
Album: 1823
Record Label: New Heavy Sounds
Release Date: July 17th, 2020
01. Prurient
02. Where I’ve Been
03. Stranger
04. Powder
05. Eyes Like Knives
06. Your Burden
07. Vines

EMBR are:
Eric Bigelow, drums.
Crystal Bigelow, vocals.
Mark Buchanan, guitar.
Alan Light, bass.

EMBR, 1823 (2020)

EMBR on Instagram

EMBR on Thee Facebooks

EMBR website

New Heavy Sounds on Thee Facebooks

New Heavy Sounds on Bandcamp

New Heavy Sounds website

Tags: , , , , ,

Voidlurker to Release Debut EP on APF Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The UK sludge boom continues unabated, and APF Records is very quickly becoming the go-to outlet for the particular style of bastardry one finds around England these days, which is as likely to pull influence from Nails as Orange Goblin, Down and Eyehategod as much as Electric Wizard. It’s a new generation of disaffected dudes. And what’s changed? Hell, Voidlurker are from frickin’ Birmingham. You’d have a hard time arguing that fuckall doesn’t run across decades when it comes to an act coming from the same place that gave the universe Black Sabbath. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the working class play loud. So do the middle class, but probably on nicer gear. Or at very least, when it gets stolen on tour they can replace it easier.

You get the fucking picture.

Voidlurker tick the boxes sonically — riffs: check, shouts: check, nod: check, aggro: check — and are recording their debut EP with Chris Fielding at Foel Studio, so one would not expect that to sound anything but more punishing than their 2018 demo, which you can stream below. It’s two songs, so not a huge ask even if you’re busy, but again, I’d expect the EP to cover some more ground style-wise when it lands, reportedly early next year.

Here’s what APF has to say about it. Merry sludgin’ Xmas:


Voidlurker sign to APF Records

Birmingham-based doom / sludge trio Voidlurker are the latest addition to our filthy and expanding APF Records family.

Following on from their devastating performance at this year’s Bloodstock Festival, and fresh off a killer set last weekend in support of Raging Speedhorn, APF will be releasing their debut EP in early 2020.

Recorded by Chris Fielding at Foel Studio it’s chock full of crushing guitars, bass fuzz, and groove to snap your neck to. You’re in for a treat.

Merry fucking Christmas.

Voidlurker is:
Brad Thomas – Guitar and vocals
Andrew Rennie – Bass
Jack Bourne – Drums

Voidlurker, Demo (2018)

Tags: , , ,

Review & Track Premiere: Alunah, Violet Hour

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

alunah violet hour

[Click play above to stream ‘Hunt’ by Alunah, from Violet Hour out Oct. 11 on Heavy Psych Sounds. Bassist Dan Durchmore says of the track, “During the writing process, it became clear that different dynamics were emerging. ‘Hunt’ is built on our earlier style, but becomes its own entity as the song unfolds. Some of us consider this a favourite to play, so it feels right to let it loose ahead of the album release.”]

The tumult of a few chaotic years of reorganization brings UK doom rockers Alunah to a new place with Violet Hour, their fifth full-length. It’s also their first for Heavy Psych Sounds after issuing 2017’s Solennial (review here) on Svart,  2014’s Awakening the Forest (review here) through Napalm, 2012’s White Hoarhound (review here) on PsycheDOOMelic (then Napalm, then PRC Music) and 2010’s Call of Avernus (review here) on Catacomb, but really, the fact that each one of their records has come out through a different label is the least of it. Just months past the release of SolennialAlunah bid farewell to founding vocalist/guitarist Sophie Day in Sept. 2017, announcing little more than a month later that Siân Greenaway had taken on the role of lead singer. Founding guitarist David Day remained in the band alongside bassist Dan Burchmore and drummer Jake Mason — also an original member — through last year’s Amber & Gold EP (review here) that was the studio introduction to some of the sonic shifts taking place in the band, but earlier in 2019, David Day followed Sophie‘s lead in splitting from the band he helped form, and guitarist Dean Ashton was brought in to fill the role.

So Ashton, who has also handled bass for NWOBHM legends Diamond Head since 2016, is the newest member of Alunah, but apart from Mason, who’s been drumming since the start, in 2006, the longest-tenured member is Burchmore, who joined in 2013. Six years isn’t nothing, and certainly the rhythmic fluidity of the eight-track/42-minute Violet Hour has plenty to say in arguing for the development of the dynamic there, but to trade out your guitarist(s) and vocalist in a riff-led band over the span of two years and still turnaround with an EP and album feels somewhat miraculous. Either Alunah — whose sound has always locked into a relatively laid back groove, marked by some shuffle here and there, but mostly comfortable in a thickened doom roll topped with righteous melody — thrive on this chaos, or it’s been an incredibly stressful time.

And though there are some ways in which Violet Hour feels like a second debut from what’s essentially a new band — Call of Avernus also followed a test-the-waters EP, way back when — a striking amount of the approach remains in accord with their past work. No doubt production from Chris Fielding at Foel Studio has a hand in that as well. Greenaway demonstrated her craft and charisma on Amber & Gold, and whether it’s the outwardly sexualized “Trapped and Bound” or “Hunt,” the ultra-catchy “Hypnotised” or the more doomed “Unholy Disease,” the personality of her work here is both malleable to the mood of the groove behind her and of a steady, engaging melodic quality. As both sides of the album feature four songs with two shorter-ish cuts leading into two longer-ish ones, there is a sense amid all the circumstantial fluster in which the album arrives that there’s still an overarching plan at work, and that goes a long way toward letting the listener relax and take Violet Hour on its own merits, which of course is how it’s best heard.


After the EP, it’s less of a surprise that Alunah have moved away from some of the nature-worship that previously defined their lyrical themes, but “Dance of Deceit,” the penultimate “Velvet,” the closer “Lake of Fire” and “Hunt” still have an organic sensibility to how they play out, and though “Trapped and Bound” provides an almost jarring push at the outset, as the entirety of side A seems devoted to trickery and dark seduction between that launch, “Dance of Deceit,” “Hunt” and “Hypnotised,” the energy with which Alunah carry across the material only bolsters the notion of Violet Hour as a new full-length debut from what’s essentially a new band. The advantage they have, however, is a clear sense of direction and an immediately apparent awareness of who they want to be and what they want to convey as a group, which even as they build chemistry together in this new form over time, is only an advantage for them.

Is it fair to judge Violet Hour by the standard of Alunah‘s other offerings? Probably. They did keep the name. But what Violet Hour does in relation to, say, Solennial, isn’t so radically different from what that album did coming off of Awakening the Forest. It builds on what came before and progresses toward new ideas and new manifestations of a high quality songwriting process that, speaking as one who’s been a fan of the band for some time, is thankfully still intact despite the changes in personnel, as “Hypnotised,” the side-B-leadoff title-track and “Lake of Fire” can easily testify. The lushness of Greenaway‘s layered harmony arrangements bodes well for future ongoing progression — more of that would only be welcome — and though Ashton has been in the band a mere matter of months, his contributions of harder-edged tone and lead work mesh well with the long-since established coherence between Burchmore and Mason.

Violet Hour may have arisen through a turbulent stretch for them, but the songs stand true and want for nothing either in aesthetic or performance. Perhaps tellingly, as “Unholy Disease” takes off in its second half, the band seem particularly steady locked into that faster stretch, but there’s much to be said for the slow-rolling payoff in the hook for “Lake of Fire” as well, so if the band are growing, that’s the most consistent thing they could possibly do. That’s what Alunah have always done. One has learned the hard way over the years not to attempt prediction of what their situation might be in the future, but Violet Hour is a bold stride, and an album rife with character, melody, heft and impact. No doubt there will be those who write it off because of the lineup changes — that’s just the way it always goes with this kind of thing — but it’s their loss in the end, and easy to imagine fresh ears catching on as well. Fair enough, as Alunah set a whole new high standard from which to work as they continue forward, which one hopes — without predicting how it might happen — that they do.

Alunah, Violet Hour (2019)

Alunah on Thee Facebooks

Alunah on Instagram

Alunah on Bandcamp

Alunah webstore

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,