Quarterly Review: Pelican, My Dying Bride, Masonic Wave, Bismarck, Sun Moon Holy Cult, Daily Thompson, Mooch, The Pleasure Dome, Slump, Green Hog Band

Posted in Reviews on May 20th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Welcome back to the Quarterly Review. Good weekend? Restful? Did you get out and see some stuff? Did you loaf and hang out on the couch? There are advantages to either, to be sure. Friday night I watched my daughter (and a literal 40 other performers, no fewer than four of whom sang and/or danced to the same Taylor Swift song) do stand-up comedy telling math jokes at her elementary school variety show. She’s in kindergarten, she likes math, and she killed. Nice little moment for her, if one that came as part of a long evening generally.

The idea this week is the same as last week: 50 releases covered across five days. Put the two weeks together and the Spring 2024 Quarterly Review — which I’m pretty sure is what I called the one in March as well; who cares? — runs 100 strong. I’ll be traveling, some with family, some on my own, for a bit in the coming months, so this is a little bit my way of clearing my slate before that all happens, but it’s always satisfying to dig into so much and get a feel for what different acts are doing, try and convey some of that as directly as I can. If you’re reading, thanks. If this is the first you’re seeing of it and you want to see more, you can either scroll down or click here.

Either way, off we go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Adrift/Tending the Embers

pelican adrift tending the embers

Chicago (mostly-)instrumentalist stalwarts Pelican haven’t necessarily been silent since 2019’s Nighttime Stories (review here), with a digital live release in Spring 2020, catalog reissues on Thrill Jockey, a couple in-the-know covers posted and shows hither and yon, but the stated reason for the two-songer EP Adrift/Tending the Embers is to raise funds ahead of recording what will be their seventh album in a career now spanning more than 20 years. In addition to that being a cause worth supporting — they’re on the second pressing; 200 blue tapes — the two new original tracks “Adrift” (5:48) and “Tending the Embers” (4:26) reintroduce guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec as a studio presence alongside guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw, bassist Bryan Herweg and drummer Larry Herweg. Recorded by the esteemed Sanford Parker, neither cut ranges too far conceptually from the band’s central modus bringing together heavy groove with lighter/brighter reach of guitar, but come across like a tight, more concise encapsulation of earlier accomplishments. There’s a certain amount of comfort in that as they surf the crunching, somehow-noise-rock-inspired riff of “Adrift,” sounding refreshed in their purpose in a way that one hopes they can carry into making the intended LP.

Pelican website

Pelican on Bandcamp

My Dying Bride, A Mortal Binding

My Dying Bride A Mortal Binding

Something of a harsher take on A Mortal Binding, which is the 15th full-length from UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride, as well as their second for Nuclear Blast behind 2020’s lush The Ghost of Orion (review here. The seven-song/55-minute offering from the masters of misery derives its character in no small part from the front-mixed vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe, who from opener “Her Dominion” onward, switches between his morose semi-spoken approach, woeful as ever, and dry-throated harsher barks. And that the leadoff is all-screams feels like a purposeful choice as that rasp returns in the second half of “The 2nd of Three Bells,” the 11-minute “The Apocalyptist,” “A Starving Heart” and the ending section of closer “Crushed Embers.” I don’t know when the last time a My Dying Bride LP sounded so roiling, but it’s been a minute. The duly morose riffing of founding guitarist Andrew Craighan unites this outwardly nastier aspect with the more melodic “Thornwyck Hymn,” “Unthroned Creed” and the rest that isn’t throatripper-topped, but with returning producer Mark Mynett, the band has clearly honed in on a more stripped-down, still-room-for-violin approach, and it works in just about everything but the drums, which sound triggered/programmed in the way of modern metal. It remains easy to get caught in the band’s wretched sweep, and I’ll note that it’s a rare act who can surprise you 15 records later.

My Dying Bride website

Nuclear Blast webstore

Masonic Wave, Masonic Wave

Masonic Wave Masonic Wave

Masonic Wave‘s self-titled debut is the first public offering from the Chicago-based five-piece with Bruce Lamont (Yakuza, Corrections House, Led Zeppelin II, etc.) on vocals, and though “Justify the Cling” has a kind of darker intensity in its brooding first-half ambience, what that build and much besides throughout the eight-song offering leads to is a weighted take on post-hardcore that earlier pieces “Bully” and “Tent City” present in duly confrontational style before “Idle Hands” (the longest inclusion at just under eight minutes) digs into a similar explore-till-we-find-the-payoff ideology and “Julia” gnashes through noise-rock teethkicking. Some of the edge-of-the-next-outburst restlessness cast by Lamont, guitarists Scott Spidale and Sean Hulet, bassist Fritz Doreza and drummer Clayton DeMuth reminds of Chat Pile‘s arthouse disillusion, but “Nuzzle Up” has a cyclical crunch given breadth through the vocal melody and the sax amid the multiple angles and sharp corners of the penultimate “Mountains of Labor” are a clue to further weirdness to come before “Bamboozler” closes with heads-down urgency before subtly branching into a more spacious if still pointedly unrelaxed culmination. No clue where it might all be headed, but that’s part of the appeal as Masonic Wave‘s Sanford Parker-produced 39 minutes play out, the songs engaging almost in spite of themselves.

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Masonic Wave on Bandcamp

Bismarck, Vourukasha


There are shades of latter-day Conan (whose producer/former bassist Chris Fielding mixed here) in the vocal trades and mega-toned gallop of opening track “Sky Father,” which Bismarck expand upon with the more pointedly post-metallic “Echoes,” shifting from the lurching ultracrush into a mellower midsection before the blastbeaten crescendo gives over to rumble and the hand-percussion-backed whispers of the intro to “Kigal.” Their first for Dark Essence, the six-song/35-minute Vourukasha follows 2020’s Oneiromancer (review here) and feels poised in its various transitions between consuming aural heft and leaving that same space in the mix open for comparatively minimal exploration. “Kigal” takes on a Middle Eastern lean and stays unshouted/growled for its five-plus minutes — a choice that both works and feels purposeful — but the foreboding drone of interlude “The Tree of All Seeds” comes to a noisy head as if to warn of the drop about to take place in the title-track, which flows through its initial movement with an emergent float of guitar that leads into its own ambient middle ahead of an engrossing, duly massive slowdown/payoff worthy of as much volume as it can be given. Wrapping with the nine-minute “Ocean Dweller,” they summarize what precedes on Vourukasha while shifting the structure as an extended, vocal-inclusive-at-the-front soundscape bookends around one more huge, slow-marching, consciousness-flattening procession. Extremity refined.

Bismarck on Facebook

Dark Essence Records website

Sun Moon Holy Cult, Sun Moon Holy Cult

Sun Moon Holy Cult Sun Moon Holy Cult

That fact that Sun Moon Holy Cult exist on paper as a band based in Tokyo playing a Sabbath-boogie-worshiping, riff-led take on heavy rock with a song like “I Cut Your Throat” leading off their self-titled debut makes a Church of Misery comparison somewhat inevitable, but the psych jamming around the wah-bass shuffle of “Out of the Dark,” longer-form structures, the vocal melodies and the Sleep-style march of “Savoordoom” that grows trippier as it delves further into its 13 minutes distinguish the newcomer four-piece of vocalist Hakuka, guitarist Ryu, bassist Ame and drummer Bato across the four-song LP’s 40 minutes. Issued through Captured Records and SloomWeep Productions, Sun Moon Holy Cult brings due bombast amid the roll of “Mystic River” as well, hitting its marks stylistically while showcasing the promise of a band with a clear idea of what they want their songs to do and perhaps how they want to grow over time. If this is to be the foundation of that growth, watch out.

Sun Moon Holy Cult on Instagram

Captured Records website

SloomWeep Productions on Bandcamp

Daily Thompson, Chuparosa

Daily Thompson Chuparosa

Dortmund, Germany’s Daily Thompson made their way to Port Orchard, Washington, to record Chuparosa with Mos Generator‘s Tony Reed at the helm, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Danny Zaremba, bassist/vocalist Mercedes Lalakakis and drummer/vocalist Thorsten Stratmann bring a duly West Coast spirit to “I’m Free Tonight” and the grunge-informed roll of “Diamond Waves” and the verses of “Raindancer.” The former launches the 36-minute outing with a pointedly Fu Manchuian vibe, but the start-stops, fluid roll and interplay of vocals from Zaremba and Lalakakis lets “Pizza Boy” move in its own direction, and the brooding acoustic start of “Diamond Waves” and more languid wash of riff in the chorus look elsewhere in ’90s alternativism for their basis. The penultimate “Ghost Bird” brings in cigar-box guitar and dares some twang amid all the fuzz, but as “Raindancer” has already branched out with its quieter bassy midsection build and final desert-hued thrust, the album can accommodate such a shift without any trouble. The title-track trades between wistful grunge verses and a fuller-nodding hook, from which the three-piece take off for the bridge, thankfully returning to the chorus in Chuparosa‘s big finish. The manner in which the whole thing brims with purpose makes it seem like Daily Thompson knew exactly what they were going for in terms of sound, so I guess you could say it was probably worth the trip.

Daily Thompson on Facebook

Noisolution website

Mooch, Visions

mooch visions

Kicking off with the markedly Graveyardian “Hangtime,” Mooch ultimately aren’t content to dwell solely in a heavy-blues-boogie sphere on Visions, their third LP and quick follow-up to 2023’s Hounds. Bluesy as the vibe is from which the Montreal trio set out, the subsequent “Morning Prayer” meanders through wah-strum open spaces early onto to delve into jangly classic-prog strum later, while “Intention” backs its drawling vocal melody with nylon-stringed acoustic guitar and hand percussion. Divergence continues to be the order of the day throughout the 41-minute eight-songer, with “New Door” shifting from its sleepy initial movement into an even quieter stretch of Doors-meets-Stones-y melody before the bass leads into its livelier solo section with just a tinge of Latin rhythm and “Together” giving more push behind a feel harkening back to the opener but that grows quiet and melodically expansive in its second half. This sets up the moodier vibe of “Vision” and gives the roll of “You Wouldn’t Know” an effective backdrop for its acoustic/electric blend and harmonized vocals, delivered patiently enough to let the lap steel slide into the arrangement easily before the brighter-toned “Reflections” caps with a tinge of modern heavy post-rock. What’s tying it together? Something intangible. Momentum. Flow. Maybe just the confidence to do it? I don’t know, but as subdued as they get, they never lose their momentum, and as much movement as their is, they never seem to lose their balance. Visions might not reveal its full scope the first time through, but subsequent listens bring due reward.

Mooch on Facebook

Mooch on Bandcamp

The Pleasure Dome, Liminal Space

The Pleasure Dome Liminal Space EP

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it that guitarist/vocalist Bobby Spender recruited bassist Loz Fancourt and drummer Harry Flowers after The Pleasure Dome‘s prior rhythm section left, ahead of putting together the varied 16 minutes of the Liminal Space EP. For what it’s worth, the revamped Bristol, UK, trio don’t sound any more haphazard than they want to in the loose-swinging sections of “Shoulder to Cry On” that offset the fuller shove of the chorus, or the punk-rooted alt-rock brashness of “The Duke Part II (Friends & Enemies),” and the blastbeat-inclusive tension of “Your Fucking Smile” that precedes the folk-blues finger-plucking of “Sugar.” Disjointed? Kind of, but that also feels like the point. Closer “Suicide” works around acoustic guitar and feels sincere in the lines, “Suicide, suicide/I’ve been there before/I’ve been there before/On your own/So hold on,” and the profession of love that resolves it, and while that’s at some remove from the bitter spirit of the first two post-intro tracks, Liminal Space makes its own kind of sense with the sans-effects voice of Spender at its core.

The Pleasure Dome on Facebook

Hound Gawd! Records website

Slump, Dust

Slump Dust EP

A solid four-songer from Birmingham’s Slump, who are fronted by guitarist Matt Noble (also Alunah), with drummer David Kabbouri Lara and bassist Ben Myles backing the riff-led material with punch in “Buried” after the careening hook of “Dust” opens with classic scorch in its solo and before the slower and more sludged “Kneel” gets down to its own screamier business and “Vultures” rounds out with a midtempo stomp early but nods to what seems like it’s going to be a more morose finish until the drum solo takes off toward the big-crash finish. As was the case on Slump‘s 2023 split with At War With the Sun, the feel across Dust is that of a nascent band — Slump got together in 2018, but this is their most substantial standalone release to-date — figuring out what they want to do. The ideas are there, and the volatility at which “Kneel” hints will hopefully continue to serve them well as they explore spaces between metal and heavy rock, classic and modern styles. A progression underway toward any number of potential avenues.

Slump on Facebook

Slump on Bandcamp

Green Hog Band, Fuzz Realm

Green Hog Band Fuzz Realm

What dwells in Green Hog Band‘s Fuzz Realm? If you said “fuzz,” go ahead and get yourself a cookie (the judges also would’ve accepted “riffs” and “heavy vibes, dude”), but for those unfamiliar with the New Yorker trio’s methodology, there’s more to it than tone as guitarist/producer Mike Vivisector, bassist/vocalist Ivan Antipov and drummer Ronan Berry continue to carve out their niche of lo-fi stoner buzz marked by harsh, gurgly vocals in the vein of Attila Csihar, various samples, organ sounds and dug-in fuckall. “Escape on the Wheels” swings and chugs instrumentally, and “In the Mist of the Bong” has lyrics in English, so there’s no lack of variety despite the overarching pervasiveness of misanthropy. That mood is further cast in the closing salvo of the low-slung “Morning Dew” and left-open “Phantom,” both of which are instrumental save for some spoken lines in the latter, as the prevailing sense is that they were going to maybe put some verses on there but decided screw it and went back to their cave (presumably somewhere in Queens) instead, because up yours anyhow. 46 minutes of crust-stoned “up yours anyhow,” then.

Green Hog Band on Facebook

The Swamp Records on Bandcamp

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Bismarck Sign to Dark Essence Records; Vourukasha Due Early 2024

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

You can see below that Norwegian post-metallic crushers Bismarck actually go as far as to apologize for the delay in getting their new record, titled Vourukasha, into audience earholes. Fair enough, but hey, look, sometimes you’ve got a lot going on, or there’s a global pandemic that fucks everyone’s everything for like two full years and then there’s scheduling delays and life and it’s only been since 2020, dudes. It’s not like they released Oneiromancer (review here) in 1999 and we’ve been waiting for a follow-up ever since. But I bet if you’re in the band it feels like it at this point, and that’s what that’s about. A band sitting on their collective ass trying to get this thing out. It can be consuming, frustrating beyond compare. You have this thing, all you want to do is share it. Hurry up and wait. Maybe for a year or two.

Bismarck had previously been inked with Majestic Mountain, and scheduling is the likely demon that undid that deal, but the band will move forward with Dark Essence Records (DwaalTaakeMadder MortemSuperlynx, etc.) and Vourukasha is due to arrive early next year, as the label confirmed on its site:


Dark Essence Records welcomes doom metallers Bismarck to its roster.

Dark Essence Records have announced that Norwegian Doom Metallers BISMARCK will be joining the label, bringing with them a well-deserved reputation for being one of the heaviest bands from Norway, one that has been stirring things up in the Norwegian underground scene ever since the 2018 release of the acclaimed debut album “Urkraft”.

BISMARCK’s trademark sound is an uncompromising mix of sludgy riffs and psychedelic nuances, inspired by a wide array of genres and styles. The end result is an amp melting form of stoner doom, combined with atmospheric post-rock, and with a hint of Middle Eastern folk music and the Norwegian black metal they grew up listening to.

With music that alternates between intense, fuzzed-out heaviness, and clean, atmospheric drones, and with a lyrical content that explores western esotericism, altered states of consciousness and a mystical apocalypse, BISMARCK are now ready for their latest full-length album to be unleashed upon the world.

A follow up to 2020’s critically acclaimed sophomore album “Oneiromancer”, the band’s third studio outing, which we can reveal will be named “Vourukasha” is scheduled for release in early 2024.

Commenting on the fact that they will be joining one of Norway’s best known labels, BISMARCK had this to say:

We’re stoked to sign with Dark Essence Records! They have been, and still are, a crucial part of the heavy music scene both nationally and internationally!

This is an important signing for us, and we’re looking forward to working with professional and dedicated people. Furthermore, they are people whom we consider our friends so we’re excited for the next chapter of our journey!

We would, though, just like to apologise to our fans for the long wait you’ve had for new material. We know it seems like you’ve been hanging on forever, but the album is finally on the way! We don’t want to say too much about it at the moment, but you will not be disappointed. Let’s just say that it has all you would expect from BISMARCK – and then some.

BISMARCK’s lineup is comprised of Torstein Tveiten on Vocals, Leif Herland on Guitar and Backing Vocals, Eirik Goksøyr on Guitar, Tomas Osland on Bass and Tore Lyngstad on Drums.

The band has been confirmed to appear at Oslo’s Desertfest in May 2024.



Bismarck, Oneironmancer (2020)

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Desertfest Oslo 2024 Announces Initial Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Desertfest Oslo banner

Set across two days from May 10-11, the inaugural Desertfest Oslo has made its first lineup announcement, with German heavy rock magnates and now-four-piece Kadavar at the top of the thus-far bill with Monolord as the Swedish riff-huffers apparently will look to return to the road next year. Not a ton of names, but you’ll note those and a few other Desertfest veterans in Acid King and The Brant Bjork Trio (who obviously haven’t played Oslo but have appeared elsewhere under the Desertfest banner), as well as Norway’s own Full Earth, Bismarck (new LP in 2024?) and Agabas rounding out the initial salvo in representing Oslo and the surround country’s vibrant and varied native underground.

A bit of behind-the-scenes fun here as well. This past weekend in Oslo was the annual Høstsabbat Festival, and part of the team behind that event held each year at the Kulturkirken Jacob is also involved in putting together Desertfest Oslo 2024. So after no doubt working on the two at the same time, they’ve now finished one event and almost immediately begun announcements for the next. This is the cycle of festival seasons in Europe now, and that team is not the only crew in the heavy underground with more than one multi-day lineup in progress at the same time.

There are more names to come — certainly Norway has a ton of bands; I’d be surprised if Norna didn’t get added, and Slomosa seem like an absolute must — but there’s time for such things and tickets are on sale in the meantime if you’re either up for making early travel plans (I am) or just looking to spend a bit of cash. It will be interesting to see how this complements Desertfest London and Desertfest Berlin as those two begin their announcements as well for next Spring. Going to be a busy season, I think, but most are.

From social media:

desertfest oslo 2024 first poster

Finally! (#127797#)

It´s time to reveal the first band announcement for the first Scandinavian Desertfest edition ever.

And man, what a start!

We are more than thrilled to present this first batch of bands, including massive Desert-legends such as Acid King and Brant Bjork Trio, the ultra riff-worship from Monolord, German groove-excellence from the lords in KADAVAR, and steaming local talent from Agabas and Bismarck, and to top it off, the new outlet spawning out from wünder-group Kanaan, Full Earth!

This weekend in May will treat you with the best of the best, leaving no amps unturned(#128293#)

Ordinary tickets out now!

More to follow soon..


Kadavar, Live in Bremen, Germany, April 16, 2023

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Doomlines VIII Announces Full Lineup for July 23 in Sheffield, UK

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2023 by JJ Koczan

A full 16 bands will play Doomlines VIII this July in Sheffield, UK, with France’s Slift and the heavy-meets-aggro Heriot headlining and support from the not-slouching-either-in-the-pissed-off-department Slabdragger and Bismarck (making the trip from Norway), as well as Ba‘alGozerVolcanova (from Iceland), among others. It’s an all-dayer, and I’m not sure it’s actually possible to watch 16 bands in a span of 10 hours, even across two stages, but don’t quote me on that because some crazy bastard might just do it. Given the acts involved, it would be fun to try.

I know these days aren’t exactly short on fest news — this isn’t even the only post today about a festival lineup adding bands — but in addition to having that little foot kicking the back of my brain to force the memory of live-music-less lockdown out of the corner into which I’ve repressed it, I’ll say too that these events are worth celebrating because they show how much heart and passion goes into supporting this music.

Even ‘successful’ festivals can be a non-lucrative nightmare to book, and pretty much the only reason ever to engage the process of putting something like this together is because you believe deeply in it. So yeah, while there’s about a zero percent chance I’ll be there to see Doomlines VIII in July, I’m glad to support the support. And hey, it’s a big internet. Maybe you’re somewhere on the planet where buying a ticket makes sense, be it in or around Sheffield or in a place from which you might be up for traveling.

Tickets are on sale, and here’s the announcement from the fest:

Doomlines VIII

DOOMLINES 2023 – 23rd July

Doomlines enters its eighth year with our biggest lineup yet – the only place to be for fans of heavy during Tramlines 2023.

Ticket link: https://corporation.org.uk/event/doomlines/
Venue: Corporation, Sheffield, UK
Date: 23rd July 2023

We have stunning international talent alongside the best of the Sheffield and wider UK underground, covering doom, sludge, stoner, psych and more. Without further ado, feast your eyes on:

Psych rock titans, SLIFT (France) perform their only Northern UK date of the year. Alongside them witness meteoric British newcomers, Heriot. That’s on top of Slabdragger, Bismarck (Norway), The Infernal Sea, Thank, Longheads, Crepitation, ATVM, Volcanova (Iceland), Ba’al, Lowen, Gozer, Bodach, Chapel Floods and Le Menhir.

Doors open at 12:30 on the Sunday of Tramlines (23rd July), meaning wall to wall bands across two stages until 10:30pm, no clashes, no BS. With food stalls (plant-based options included) and merch, you won’t need to leave Corporation for anything. Situated within walking distance of Sheffield’s train and bus stations, we look forward to welcoming fans from outside the city. If visiting, it’s recommended to book accommodation ASAP.

We also have the Warm Up Show on Friday (21st July) featuring Diploid (Australia), Dead In Latvia, Casing and Void Maw. Damn son.

See you there.

FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/3420066691566268/


Heriot, “Demure” official video

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Majestic Mountain Records Festival Oslo to Be Held Dec. 1-3; Lineup Re-Confirmed

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 15th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Usually for a fest lineup, I post one band’s player at the bottom of the post. Usually it’s a headliner, sometimes it’s a newer band on purpose, sometimes it’s just someone I check out who I haven’t heard before, etc. There are three players at the bottom of this post, and that’s probably too few. Take it as a sign of the uncommonly packed bill of Majestic Mountain Fest Oslo and the quality both of the work the imprint has been doing and its taste in general. Over the last two years, Majestic Mountain has emerged as a significant contributor to the underground sphere in Europe, especially Northern Europe, with a roster of talent varied in much but united in their ability to connect with their audience. One imagines it will be no different when so many of the label’s acts take the stage at the upcoming three-day festival next month.

This was originally supposed to happen in June, which, hey, sometimes a thing gets pushed back. Cool it’s coming together at all, given the scope of the lineup and the sheer logistics of getting so many schedules to align for three days (plus a pre-show) without the infrastructure of having already done so in the past. That is to say, I expect that if they do another fest like this, it’ll be easier the second time around.

Oh, and if you haven’t actually heard any of those records at the bottom of this post, you’re gonna want to do that.

From social media:

Mmr fest Oslo lineup

MMR FEST OSLO – OH YES.  It’s ON, folks!

Event page: https://facebook.com/events/s/majestic-mountain-fest-oslo/667812601039777/

The time has come, Majestic Crew- After what seems like an eternity of delays and silence, we are finally able to announce the rescheduled details and final lineup for Majestic Mountain Fest // Oslo 2022.

The festival will take place on December 1-3rd at the (in)famous Blitz Hus.

We will have a killer kick-off party on Wednesday 30th of November at our favourite chill spot Brewgata with a live gig and a rad tap takeover from the mighty Nøgne Ø

We will also have a beautiful appearance from a very special guest, Mika Häkki. More details on that to come!

Visit the event page for ticket links!
There has been a bit of shifting to the lineup due to the new logistics so any previously scheduled bands you do not see on this year’s roster will appear in the next edition.

Thank you so much, from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support and excitement for this event.

Despite the challenges presented to us, we keep charging forward. This festival is truly a labour of love and will be one for the books.

We are absolutely psyched to see you all in Oslo next month and can’t wait to celebrate our incredible roster and you, our fantastic fans!

Majestic Mountain Records is psyched to invite you to the first edition of Majestic Fest Oslo 2022!

When & Where:

Pre-Party Gig & Nøgne-Ø Tap Takeover at Brewgata Oslo
30 November

Festival at Blitz, Oslo
1-3 Decmber

After a challenging year of what seemed like endless delays, we are finally able to let loose and run full steam ahead on a three-day riff fest of gargantuan proportions to commence the 1-3 December at Blitz.

PLUS a killer pre-party gig and tap takeover with the mighty Nøgne-Ø on Wednesday the 30th of November at Brewgata!

This is going to be a very special event with the best community vibes and killer performances by Majestic Mountain Records Roster bands.

We’re also proud to welcome a very special guest, Mika Häkki.

Join us in on the last day of November and the first weekend of December for heavy riffs, mega fuzz and all of the good times!

The MMR crew cannot wait to bang our heads and hang with you in Oslo!

Full day schedule coming next week!

Lineup is as follows:

Kal-El (NO)
Grand Cadaver (SE)
Saint Karloff (NO)
Jointhugger (NO)
Wolves in Haze (SE)
Häxmästaren (SE)
Bogwife (DK)
Void Commander (SE)
Laser Dracul (SE)
Tornet (SE)
Slódder (SE)
Signo Rojo (SE)
Masheena (NO)
Goatriders (SE)
Bismarck (NO)
CB3 (SE)
Satanic Overdrive (SE)
Draken (NO)
Domkraft (SE)


Kal-El, Dark Majesty (2021)

CB3, Exploration (2022)

Domkraft, Seeds (2021)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 96

Posted in Radio on October 28th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Good show. Gets heavy. I started thinking about how my knee hurt and that reminded me of Høstsabbat (where I hurt it) earlier this month and I decided to dedicate the second hour-ish of the program to celebrating that lineup. And, well, that lineup was really god damned heavy — though, I say in the voice tracks too, it was way more sonically diverse a proceeding than it appears on the playlist below. So it goes. I’ll plead guilty on that.

Before that though, each one of the first three tracks is something I genuinely hope people will check out. Brant Bjork because he’s Brant Bjork and 14 records in he’s still trying new stuff. UWUW because Ian Blurton is a master and psychedelic heavy soul rock needed to happen. Dead Shrine because it’s new stuff from Craig Williamson (also of Lamp of the Universe) in a heavy style like Arc of Ascent, but with some different kinds of spaces thrown in. Dude just riffs and riffs and riffs. Yes.

Not saying the rest isn’t worth checking out in Ruby the Hatchet, Love Gang, or The Otolith, which is really the rest of the new stuff. The Otolith I’ve been listening to all week to review it and it’s bludgeoningly beautiful and has me wondering how to add a sixth inclusion to my top five for the year. Ruby the Hatchet are like if 1971 happened in 1981, and Love Gang are like if Motörhead were from Southern California or, in other words, from Denver. I certainly thought that song was killer when I premiered it. And a couple classics, some recent Enslaved, Orange Goblin, then the turn up to Norway for the fest-homage. As I said at the top, good show.

Thanks if you listen and thanks for reading.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at: http://gimmemetal.com.

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 10.28.22 (VT = voice track)

Brant Bjork Bread for Butter Bougainvillea Suite
UWUW Staircase to the End of the Night UWUW
Dead Shrine The Formless Soul The Eightfold Path
Ruby the Hatchet Deceiver Fear is a Cruel Master
Love Gang Meanstreak Meanstreak
The Otolith Ekpyrotic Folium Limina
Saint Vitus The Psychopath Saint Vitus
Enslaved Kingdom Kingdom
Orange Goblin Cozmo Bozo The Big Black
Norna The Perfect Dark Star is Way Way is Eye
Bismarck The Seer Oneiromancer
The Moth Gatherer The Drone Kingdom Esoteric Oppression
Dopelord Your Blood Reality Dagger`
Graveyard Please Don’t Peace
Indian Directional From All Purity
Slomatics Buried Axes on Regulus Minor Ascend/Descend
Kanaan Return to the Tundrasphere Earthbound

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Nov. 11 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

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Bismarck Sign to Majestic Mountain Records; New Album Vourukasha Due Next Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

I had the benefit of hearing about this in-person this past Saturday, literal minutes before the announcement went out on social media. In the basement of Kulturkirken Jakob for Høstsabbat before Bismarck played, the band’s own Leif Herland confirmed that word was going out and the record — apparently called Vourukasha and almost through the recording process, which Herland is also helming — would hopefully be pressed by Spring. Laughing, I speculated June in response, and Majestic Mountain says “summer” below, so let’s just call it 2023 and let it roll for now.

Whenever it is released Vourukasha will serve as the band’s follow-up to 2020’s Oneiromancer (review here), which was impressively heavy and atmospheric in kind. I’d love to tell you how their Høstsabbat set was, but as I write this, I’m actually sitting in front of the Crypt Stage at Kulturkirken Jakob waiting for them to go on. Call it a rare temporal alignment, maybe, but it’s a new one for me for sure. Kudos to the Bergen five-piece in any case. I hope that in about 10 minutes they bludgeon this place with riffs to celebrate.

From social media, lightly edited for context:


Majestic Mountain Records are pleased to bring you Norway’s Bismarck as the newest members of the Majestic crew.

An uncompromising group of unbelievable substance, bringing obscene amounts of heavy with impeccable vision, pristine production, and unshakable delivery. Majestic? Yes.

Bismarck is a formidable act on stage and off with two incredible releases under its belt since its inception in 2015. The third, a full length of immense tension and atmosphere is forthcoming this spring with details to come.
For now, we give you its title and usher in a new era of Bismarck out upon the world.

Bismarck comments: “This a step in the right direction for us! Majestic Mountain Records are burning like a bright flame for the bands on their roster! We are really looking forward to what the future brings and we’re beyond stoked to sign a deal with this hardworking and great label!

The album ‘Vourukasha’ is for us a natural successor to “Oneiromancer”. It’s still influenced by ancient Persian mythology, it has all you expect from us, and then some more.”

“And then some” is the key here. ‘Vorukasha’ is not only a natural progression for the band but it succeeds in taking us through an expanded journey of the Bismarck universe full of gripping mystic allegory and through vast peaks and valleys of abject heaviness drenched in electric, emotive delivery with pristine production.

Please give Bismarck a warm welcome to the Majestic roster, we’re thrilled to be a part of Bergen’s heaviest doom merchant’s next chapter as we give ‘Vourukasha’ the Majestic treatment for release this coming Summer.

Thanks so much for all your support, Majestic Crew.

More to come, stay tuned!



Bismarck, Oneironmancer (2020)

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Live Review: HØSTSABBAT 2022 Night Two in Oslo, Norway, 10.08.22

Posted in Features, Reviews on October 9th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Hostsabbat night two

Before; haunting the Chapel

At some point yesterday afternoon I did… something? to my knee. Maybe before Needlepoint played. I had been sitting on the thankfully clean floor near the front of the stage between acts, like you do to take pictures in sans-pit cases, and in getting up, felt and heard a pop, and it has hurt steadily since. Made it through the rest of the day, obviously, but by the time I was headed back to the hotel, was fairly well hobbling, and this morning that discomfort was right where I left it after my jetlagged ass slept for 10 hours last night. I can’t quite find a position for it between straight and bent that’s comfortable and my well-intentioned ‘see how it feels tomorrow’ plan feels as dumb as it is.

In addition to being old and out of any kind of shape that isn’t spheroid — plus I’m a wuss, if that wasn’t clear — it is a humbling reminder of the confirmed wreck that my body is, has always been. I would call it existentially unpleasant in an effort to sap it of an emotional context, which, while we’re here, also strikes me as ridiculous. Nonetheless, I hurt. I’m going to try to take it easy today, whatever that even means, and sit as much as I can, but I promise you, “sit as much as I can” is basically my motto for life. Put it on the family crest. Tattoo it on my arm on fancy script like a metalcore toughguy from the aughts. We are who we are. I remain approximately 40 percent human. The rest?

It’s a sunny day on Oslo and there are rad birds around to further the autumnal atmosphere of the city, or at least the block of it between the hotel and Kulturkirken Jakob. When I picture it, Oslo is overcast, so to see blue sky feels new, but no complaints.

Sturle Dagsland is soundchecking and already pushing his voice to frequencies usually reserved for amplified mosquitoes, so that should make for an interesting set. There’s time before we get there, so more coffee and lollygagging are the order of the moment. I suck at taking it easy. Thus xanax.

In case I don’t post again before I’m home, I want to extend my sincere thanks to Jens, Ole and Vesper for having me over once again. This festival is beautiful even when the music is at its ugliest, and for much more than the visual impact of the Kulturkirken Jakob, striking as that is. I deeply value the opportunity to come here and kick around my imposter syndrome for a couple days, see amazing stuff and do my best to convey a little bit of what it’s like to anyone else who might care enough to read. If that’s you (and if you’re seeing this, surprise! it is!), then thank you.


Sturle Dagsland

Sturle Dagsland 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The music of everything and everything-is-music, Sturle Dagsland was not alone on stage but is clearly driven toward artistic singularity just the same. Before he went on, there was a kind of mini-presentation of am Edvardprisen, a music prize that would seem to have been well earned, given what unfolded after. Experimentalism drawing on modern dance, electronic music, extreme metal, Wardruna-style Norse-ism, pop, indie, and a deeply varied swath of assorted styles like a shopping cart full of genre, he not only claimed the Edvardprisen but the award as well for the best leggings this year at Høstsabbat, though admittedly there was a dearth of competition in that regard. More art-house-appreciation than a rocking start to the day, the passion fueling the testing and passing of limits was palpable. Everybody has an inner clock for how much of that kind of thing they can absorb, of course, but it’s hard not to respect both the vision of a world music that comes from another world and the bravery to manifest it wholeheartedly on stage. From trumpet to flute to maybe-oboe, hands crashing through cymbals, hang-style drum, synth beats swelling and receding, keys, vocals in god knows how many octaves and time signatures, each short piece fed into an encompassing scope that was expressive beyond my language barrier to it and markedly individual.


Bismarck 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Well then. Bismarck signed to Majestic Mountain today, and they debuted the rager “Sky Father” to mark the occasion. It was one among the multitude of pummelers they had on hand, and the lumbering groove, tonal largesse and atmoslusge heft was like a cold-cloth on a fevered soul. I stood, against better judgement, up front for about half the set and hung back thereafter, but my goodness this is what I need. When my son and I go on rollercoasters, the running joke is “this is what we need,” because if he doesn’t get that level of vestibular input periodically he loses his mind. If I don’t get regular doses of volume like this, it’s the same thing. Sometimes you just need to be crushed. Fortunately for me and whatever form of neural atypicality this represents — call it “doombrain” as a diagnostic shortcut — Bismarck were ready with a suitable nod of low end. They should give prizes for this kind of thing too. Or at least a grant, though I’ll admit that, being in a country that puts its money where its mouth is as regards funding, there may well already be such grants. In any case, Bismarck’s take on tone, ambience and aggression was just right in its moment, and I am swallowed by it.


Norna 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Years from now I hope I’m able to recall Norna hitting the Chapel stage after Bismarck played in the Crypt and how good that one-two punch of weighted sludge felt. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to listen to this band without thinking of Ole Helstad, one of the founders of Høstsabbat, who is a nigh-on-rabid fan, and one suspects that’s why they’re here — if you believe it should be otherwise, I would only ask what you think music is for in the first place — but that only made me want to see them more. Assured in craft and at times scathing in their delivery, they were a far cry from the deranged sensibilities of Indian last night, but showed how such leveling volume can be wielded toward ends as much about life as death. I say that, but they were largely unilateral in their destructive outletting, perhaps the moment when the old forest burns so that new growth can take hold. The band’s pedigree goes back decades to the more hardcore-minded Breach, and if Norna are post-that, they’re post- a few other things as well, but their sound held an urgency that felt born of a trash-punk youth, even if it’s long since left that style behind.


Dopelord 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Stoner and doom! They mentioned from the stage that they were about to sing a song about the devil in a church, which if they did it in their home country of Poland would get them thrown in jail. I could see them catching flack for it — less likely imprisoned — in the US too, though that depends pretty much on the state. Another day carnival of weedian riffage here, I suppose. Dopelord’s resin-coated nod came through potent and duly sticky, guitars on either side of the stage leading through a well-constructed wall of distorted fog, lumbering like a dayjob but too stoned to hold one down. I’ve dabbled before in their studio stuff — a tourist’s interest in what I imagine even they’d have to admit is a pretty simple concept for a band; loud, thick riffs, big groove and the kind of themes that can get you arrested if sung in a Polish church — but the dual-vocal swaps lent character to what struck as a purposeful familiarity. That is, seeing them live, I don’t think they’re trying to get away with anything revolutionary so much as celebrating a specific stylistic and tonal ideal. Like the t-shirt says, “Sabbath worship.” The better bands are able to take that and make something of their own from it and I’ll happily put Dopelord in that category now that I’ve seen them. Also, the place went nuts for them, which, frankly, I get.

The Black Wizards

The Black Wizards 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A boogie rock cover of “21st Century Schizoid Man?” Count me in. Portuguese trio The Black Wizards were good vibes even before they seemed to medley their way into and out again from the King Crimson classic, drawing on hard ’70s vibes with vigor enough to actually convey them. The Crypt was packed by the time I got there, but I wound up able to get a spot by the side of the stage area by following the band through the crowd as they went on. Dick move on my part, I guess, but it worked. The band brought a joyful shuffle from which the bass sounded especially smooth, and despite some feedback of the not-purposeful kind on the mics, they carried through with a bluesy spirit and a power trio ethic of bass and drums holding down the groove while the guitar solos. This, plus swing — which was in ready supply — equals the sum total of what one can reasonably ask, but the tempo shifts were a welcome bonus. The real test of boogie is can it twist, and The Black Wizards answered a hard yes. Their set was tight but fun, classic drawing as much from more modern interpretations of ’70s heavy as from that era itself, and the solos when they came were the kind of thing you’d answer with a fire wmoji, maybe followed by a heart, your choice, red or green. They could play, and knew it, but there was no pretense whatsoever about what they were doing. I think this might just be what party rock sounds like in Europe now. Cool by me. Probably really cool by Graveyard, who’ll play soon up in the Chapel.


Arabrot 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

People worship this band. Like, religiously. I’m not arguing with doing so; just noting there’s a cult for Årabrot and I’m on the outside of it. In fact, this was my first time seeing them, which is something I think put me in the minority among the crowd assembled for their set. My knee was ‘barking,’ in the parlance of not-at-all-our times, so somehow it made more sense to go up to the Galleri — happy to call it what the sign says — rather than attempt to stay up front to get pictures. If you’ve been waiting to see me try and fail to get decent shots of Årabrot, I apologize. I don’t have a bad word to say about what I saw of their set, save maybe for ‘shit’ in the context of ‘well shit, I should probably listen to more Årabrot,’ though I knew that going into the experience. Love the Americana-that-isn’t via Sisters of Mercy post-noise rock though, and I respect both the niche and the performance aspect — they weren’t just playing; it was a show, costumes, hat and all — even if I’m still not ready to sign up for cult. They pulled the biggest crowd of Høstsabbat thus far though — I had a good view — and the Chapel seemed duly fit for worship. Fine. Again, I’m not ragging on it — I promise you I’m not — but I’d been looking forward to what was going to unfold in the Crypt soon, so I left my Galleri perch well in time to get a spot up front in the basement. I do get to say I’ve seen Årabrot though, so that’s one for the résumé, which I’ll be sending out hopefully never again.


Slomatics 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Got treated to a new song — the name of which I didn’t catch; was it “Mightor?” — during their soundcheck. That alone made me feel justified in showing up like 40 minutes before they went on. I be honest with you, they were what my weekend was building toward and there was about zero possibility short of their not making the trip that I was going to walk away from their set disappointed. Just no chance of it happening. Their set? Riff after lumbering riff exactly like I knew it would be, and I count myself extra lucky for having seen them twice this year. All that aural weight, bouncing off the ceiling, off the back wall of the Crypt, off the floor. It would have been devastating were it not rapturous. I don’t know if I’ve seen another complete set this weekend, but aside from the packed crowd behind where I was up by the stage monitors, it was pretty clear early on that I was in it for the duration. No regrets. I closed my eyes, pulled my earplugs loose just for a minute of “And Yet it Moves” — you don’t want them out for long — and was perfectly content to nod my way into ultra-heavy oblivion. Marty Harvey vocals were low in the mix, but I actually suspect that was due more to where I had parked myself, and David Majury and Chris Couzens’ guitars, running through bass and guitar amps, offered maximum plunge. What an absolute fucking joy they were, and smiling and laughing and “skol”ing the crowd all the while. I could go on, but the bottom line is that anytime life affords you a chance to see Slomatics, you do it. Leaning there on my screwed up knee, sweaty, tired — that’s right I said I was tired at a rock and roll show, fight me; I’m like Prince fucking Valium out here — none of it or anything else mattered just for a little bit. Just to lose yourself in it for that little bit. An incomparable feeling.


Graveyard (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I don’t want to say I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Graveyard — it’s been like seven years? — but they were the icing on my spire-shaped Høstsabbat cake, if you want to go that way with it. In fact, they were a thrill. I had a “oh yeah I know these songs!” moment early and from there it was just a matter of being reminded how much I actively like Graveyard. Joakim Nilsson, his head tilted just so, playing his hollow-body guitar, is aging into the bluesman he’s always been working toward being, and “Uncomfortably Numb” made the point all the more resonant. They’re pros to be sure. Now more than a decade removed from breaking through to a broader audience with 2012’s Hisingen Blues (review here), they’re every bit the headliner, and they played like it. Their influence over a generation of heavy rock, the way they took vintage methods and absolutely owned them. They played in the only spot they possibly could, which was last, and if they were the epilogue, then hell’s bells, what a story. “Ain’t Fit to Live Here.” Shit. Great band. I’ll leave it at that.

Before I turn you over to the rest of the photos (if you’re so inclined to check them out), one more word of thanks to Jens, Ole and Vesper, whose efforts now that the fest is over I hope make them proud. This thing they made was incredible, and the world is a better place because it happened. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you for reading, and thanks as always to The Patient Mrs., through whom all things are possible. My love.

More pics after the jump.
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