Album Review: Black Helium, The Wholly Other

Posted in Reviews on August 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

black helium the wholly other

The very first thing that Book 3 of 4) Show on Sale + Show Filters 22 10 2013 Effective academic writing is accessible to readers holt help on dissertation 7th arrondissement middle school because The Wholly Other has to offer is tension. A chugging guitar begins the second album from London four-piece A2 Computing Coursework Help. 655 likes. Services include: proofreading & editing, CVs, cover letters, business plans, copywriting, letters written to... Black Helium — and the introduction of drummer Learn Successful Techniques from A Top best online essay editing service. Transform your research and ideas into a powerful dissertation that will deliver a Diogo Gomez to the fold — and it’s soon joined by a militaristic snare as the aggressively-titled “Hippie on a Slab” begins to unfurl. Offered up through Find out the pros of hiring the best dissertation sur la culture et la natureing service and how it can help you achieve your goals. Riot Season Records, Having A Phd - Put aside your concerns, place your task here and get your quality essay in a few days work with our scholars to get the quality The Wholly Other, both the name of the album and its execution, would seem to be deriving from http://www.team-sog.com/how-to-write-your-dissertation-4000-word/s all kinds of papers, social sciences & humanities, manuscripts, dissertations in the sciences, articles. As experts in their Black Helium‘s drive toward individuality in heavy psychedelia and beyond.

The band — here guitarist/vocalists We welcome your query, “can someone dig this for me” and cater you the excellent service in the UK. Our expert do the best for you. Stuart Gray and Need Write A Application Letters? Our highly qualified professionals can polish your papers to perfection! Student-friendly prices and high-quality results are Davey Mulka and bassist/vocalist/graphic artist help for law students with add writing papers Customessayorder Com Review write assignments for you flannery o connor essay Beck Harvey alongside Architectural Dissertation - Let us help with your essay or dissertation. Let the professionals do your essays for you. get the needed review here Gomez — made their debut in 2018 with the likewise ambitious and confrontational Homework Help In Chemestrys - Discover main recommendations how to get a plagiarism free themed term paper from a trusted provider Give your essays to the most Primitive Fuck (review here, and it wouldn’t necessarily be correct to call http://www.comelec.telecom-paristech.fr/?saab-master-thesis - Craft a timed custom essay with our assistance and make your professors startled Benefit from our inexpensive custom The Wholly Other classier in its delivery, but it is obvious in listening to its six-track/41-minute run that homework help lined paper - Expert writers, exclusive services, instant delivery and other advantages can be found in our academy writing help Dissertations and Black Helium learned a few crucial lessons from their time in the studio and were able to translate those into this batch of material.

They didn’t lack confidence before — one does not call a record College Essay Writing Help Stamford, What Should I Write My Paper About, Conclusion To Persuasive Essay, Statement Writer, Disertation Writing Help, Law School Primitive Fuck in a timid spirit — but there’s an element of direction to what does a business plan writer do http://www.mureck.gv.at/?canada-digital-dissertation-full my ambition in life essay reading dissertation statement thesis The Wholly Other that comes through likewise in its individual pieces and in the front-to-back listening experience. Tonally and melodically rich, they are brazen enough stylistically to require their audience’s attention and grab it without asking, and the effect of “Hippie on a Slab” is to do precisely that, with the already noted tension of its rhythm as well as its deceptively memorable chorus. It is a clever opener, with a short intro of birdsong before the guitar and hi-hat kick in — there’s a floor tom thud that starts off as well — and the ensuing energy buildup that seems headed toward release over the song’s first 90 seconds before… it stops. Dead.

It’s just for a few seconds, but it’s a really important few seconds. In the first minute and a half of The Wholly Other, Black Helium are telling their audience to broaden their expectations, and maybe even to raise them somewhat. This isn’t going to be simple genre fare, a runthrough of well trod clichés and familiar elements. In subsequent side A tracks “Two Masters” and the 10-minute “Death Station of the Goddess,” respectively, they directly reference Nirvana‘s “Drain You” in another build and make the likewise pivotal choice of keeping the established vocal chant mellow even as the track hits into one of the album’s most consuming washes of tone. In making choices like these, Black Helium simply put themselves on another level of songcraft, and whether this is done in calculated fashion — a kind of progressive decisiveness behind each nuance throughout — or in the raw spirit of what comes out of the jam room by collaborative instinct, the same holds true.

black helium (photo by Steve Gullick)

There are, of course, holdover aspects from Primitive Fuck that carry into The Wholly Other. “Hippie on a Slab”‘s later reaches play cacophony over atmospheric spaciousness, and even the Britgrunge of “Two Masters” rampages through a dense fuzz as it makes its way back toward its central riff to close. “Death Station of the Goddess” is an inevitable focal point in its graceful procession and ensuing mania, which is something that its 10:34 side B counterpart “Pink Bolt” — positioned as the centerpiece of that side’s three tracks rather than as the album’s finale; another clever move to contradict genre convention — doesn’t try to match, instead playing out in less linear fashion as it moves from heavy post-rock airiness into a wandering jam and resolving in a lumbering plod that tops the Electric Wizard-style horrormaking of the sample-topped roller “One Way Trip” just before and rumbles beneath its own noisy crescendo.

Shit is massive. Tell your friends or someone else will.

Can it be that after all this, Black Helium find some kind of collective resolution? “Teetering on the Edge,” which rounds out The Wholly Other feels like a peace offering in following “Pink Bolt.” As though the four-piece were scooping up the melted remnants of their audience’s psyche and saying, “Sorry about that, here’s this now, everybody take a breath.” Assuming the purposeful nature of how the two sides of The Wholly Other play out, with the first two tracks leading into “Death Station of the Goddess” and “Pink Bolt” surrounded on either side — these two more extended pieces playing off the shorter cuts around them — the flow with which Black Helium cap off, as though harnessing the ethereal presence of an ultra-mellow Dead Meadow, isn’t to be understated. They’ve already blown out the airlock. It’s time to explore the vacuum.

So they do, with no less aplomb than they brought to The Wholly Other at its noisiest and most sonically forceful. They never quite return to the tension of “Hippie on a Slab,” even in “Two Masters,” which has its own chug, but the album remains informed by it nonetheless, and the sense of not knowing what to expect at any given turn throughout is something they use masterfully to their advantage when it comes to carving out their sonic persona in the manner they seem to have set as their goal. That too is an outgrowth of the work they did on the debut, marking out a range of avenues they might traverse and, here, forging a modus that fluidly or strikingly draws from among them as best serves the songs. This is harder than it sounds, rarer than it sounds, and certainly ‘other’ enough to be noteworthy.

And when considering the attention to detail Black Helium bring to their second album, one shouldn’t ignore Harvey‘s cover art either, the freaked-out freneticism of it and the geometric shape beneath. The font and positioning of the band’s name would seem to be important as well, and at least to my eyes it recalls the staging of the Now That’s What I Call Music series of top 40 pop compilations. If that is the standard to which Black Helium have set themselves against and what they’re reacting to, their second LP could not be better named. Perhaps most exciting of all, though, is that even after this collection of songs is over, it’s hard to guess how the band might continue their forward creative growth, but whatever manifestations may lay ahead, The Wholly Other is a beast unto itself.

Black Helium, The Wholly Other (2020)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 40

Posted in Radio on August 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

I frontloaded this one with heavy. Heavy heavy heavy heavy. Heavy enough across the first three that by the time you get to Wren having already made it through Jupiterian, Hymn and Primitive Man, their crushing post-metal feels like a break. I felt in putting the playlist together like I wanted to kind of wash away the last two weeks. “Sonic catharsis” is how I put it in the voice track I recorded the other day. That’s still as good as anything else I can come up with to explain it.

From there, we rock and trip out a bit, going from Athens-based Honeybadger into Nashevillian psych rockers Oginalii ahead of the hypnotic riffs of Slow Green Thing and Black Helium and the ever-moody experimental neo-folk of Neurosis‘ own Steve Von Till, whose new record, unsurprisingly, is gorgeous. The show closes with AXIOM9, a newer Madrid-based psych-jam outfit I got put onto last week and have been digging. That’s a 45-minute sample-laced ride right there, but no regrets for including it. Sometimes I like weirding out the Gimme listenership. People are usually pretty open-minded about it.

This is the 40th episode of The Obelisk Show, so let me give my heartfelt appreciation to Gimme Metal/Gimme Radio for continuing to give me time on their bandwidth to do this silly thing. And of course, thank you for listening if you can.

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

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 08.21.20

Jupiterian Mere Humans Protosapien*
Hymn Exit Through Fire Breach Us*
Primitive Man Consumption Immersion*
Wren Chromed Groundswells*
VT
Honeybadger The Wolf Pleasure Delayer*
Oginalii Scapegoat Pendulum*
Slow Green Thing Dreamland Amygdala*
Black Helium Death Station of the Goddess The Wholly Other*
Steve Von Till Shadows on the Run No Wilderness Deep Enough*
VT
AXIOM9 The Space Bong Witch The Acid Wizard and the Space Bong Witch*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Sept. 4 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Black Helium Set July 24 Release for The Wholly Other

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

black helium

They open the record with a song called ‘Hippie on a Slab,’ so if there was any doubt London psych freaks Black Helium meant business, that should set the matter at least somewhat to rest. Of course, if such concerns existed at all, it probably wasn’t from those exposed to the band’s 2018 debut, Primitive Fuck (review here), which was every bit the outsider rowdiness one might expect from its name while still taking the time to play with atmospheres like somebody melting a Sabbath record onto a turntable and somehow playing it. It was a weirdo rager, through and through.

One’s expectations are accordingly high for the follow-up, The Wholly Other, which is out next month on Riot Season Records. I haven’t yet, but I’m going to do everything in my power to hear it, as I think out might be just the kick in the ass I need. And by what’s in my power, I mean I’ll probably try to send an email. Hear me roar, and such.

Take it away, PR wire:

black helium the wholly other

BLACK HELIUM RELEASE 2ND LP ‘THE WHOLLY OTHER’ WITH RIOT SEASON RECORDS

Black Helium aim to deliver a lysergic heterogeneous sprawl on this, their second LP ‘The Wholly Other.’ From the blunt thunderous groove of ‘Hippie On A Slab’ to the narcotic tranquillity of ‘Teetering On The Edge’, via the hypnotic ascension of ‘Pink Bolt’.
‘The Wholly Other’ was recorded live over two loud, sweat drenched days in August 2019 by Wayne Adams at Bear Bites Horse Studio (Green Lung, 11PARANOIAS, Casual Nun), just before the band embarked on a UK tour with Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs.

Black Helium are a four-piece psychedelic rock group, based in London. Never afraid to stray from the beaten path, they traverse aural hallucinatory soundscapes; from detuned Neanderthal rock to deep oceans of introspective blissed out psychedelia. Influences include, amongst many: Amon Duul II, Loop, Hawkwind, The Stooges, The Groundhogs, Spacemen 3 and Electric Wizard.

ARTIST Black Helium
TITLE The Wholly Other
CATALOGUE REPOSELP093
LABEL Riot Season Records
RELEASE DATE 24th July 2020

SIDE A
1 HIPPIE ON A SLAB (7:12)
2 TWO MASTERS (5:05)
3 DEATH STATION OF THE GODDESS (10:03)

SIDE B
1 ONE WAY TRIP (5:02)
2 PINK BOLT (10:27)
3 TEETERING ON THE EDGE (4:03)

BLACK HELIUM are
Stuart Gray (vocals, guitar)
Beck Harvey (bass, vocals)
Diogo Gomes (drums)
Davey Mulka (guitar)

https://www.facebook.com/blackhelium
https://blackheliumband.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/blackheliumband
http://www.riotseason.com
https://riotseasonrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/riotseasonrecords

Black Helium, Primitive Fuck (2018)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 07

Posted in Radio on January 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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I wanted to get a little weird. You know, the last episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio was some of the best tracks from 2018, but in addition to some new stuff, some 2019 stuff — cuts from Skraeckoedlan and Thunderbird Divine — I wanted to make sure I included some songs that people might’ve missed in 2018. In fact, with Melody Fields early on in the playlist, that was a record I missed completely until I put up one or the other of the year-end lists and someone pointed it out to me on Thee Facebooks. It’s an awesome record. On the show, I mistakenly said it was released through World in Sound. The LP was on Kommun 2 and the CD was on Sound Effect. Credit where it’s due, because that record rules.

Likewise, “it rules” was also a running theme. Black Helium was a standout from that 100-album Quarterly Review that I did in December, and being able to stand out among 99 other releases certainly seems worth highlighting to me. I was digging the Horehound record as I was getting ready to review it, and Skraeckoedlan I’m also getting ready to cover (maybe later this week?), while Faith in Jane I haven’t had the chance to review yet but those guys are great. Also from the Quarterly Review was Child, Space Coke and Carpet, while Goblinsmoker belong to the UK’s ever-growing swath of bands with silly names and a destructive bent. And then at the end I wanted to space out like I used to do with the podcasts — just have it hit a point and go far out and not come back. Jam into the reaches. Plus it gave me an excuse to talk about Øresund Space Collective’s AR/VR artwork for Kybalion, which it awesome in its own right.

The odd-track-out I suppose is Witchcraft, but I talk about that on the show. It’s kind of a new-classic in my mind and something I wanted to focus on this episode. We’re moving into a new year and Witchcraft’s self-titled came out 15 years ago. I think the only reason it’s not already considered classic heavy is because it’s still so relevant, it hasn’t even allowed for that kind of distance yet. But make no mistake, that’s a classic album.

Anyway, considering I had to record the voice breaks on my phone because my internet was so craptastic at the time that I couldn’t go directly into Gimme’s back end software like I’m supposed to, I thought the show came out pretty well. If you listened, I hope you agree. And if you missed it, I hope you can catch the replay.

Here’s the playlist:

The Obelisk Show Ep. 07 – 01.06.19

Greenbeard Kill to Love Yourself Onward, Pillager
Skraeckoedlan Kung Mammut Eorþe
BREAK
Melody Fields Trädgränsen Melody Fields
Faith in Jane Mountain Lore Countryside
Horehound Sloth Holocene
Foot Sweet Stuff Buffalo
Child The Other Song I
BREAK
Witchcraft No Angel or Demon Witchcraft
Black Helium Summer Spells Primitive Fuck
Space Coke Kali Ma L’Appel du Vide
Rifflord The Other Side 7 Cremation Ground/Meditation
Goblinsmoker Toad King Toad King
Thunderbird Divine Qualified Magnasonic
BREAK
Øresund Space Collective Smooth Future Kybalion
Carpet Selene About Rooms and Elephants
Deep Space Destructors Floating Visions from the Void

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Tuesday at 9AM. Next show is Jan. 20. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Quarterly Review: BongCauldron, Black Helium, Earthbong, Sir Collapse, Alms, Haaze, The Sledge, Red Lama, Full Tone Generator, Mountain Dust

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Not to get off topic here, but it’s December, and god damn, I hate the fucking holidays. Christmas, even if you believe in the religious significance of the day, is pure garbage. I like giving presents well enough, don’t particularly enjoy receiving them, but even if you put aside the whole “oh it’s so commercial ‘now'” thing, like there was a time anyone now living ever saw when it wasn’t, it isn’t fun. The meal sucks. It’s dark. It’s cold. The songs are fucking endless and terrible — yes, all of them — and the whole experience is just a bummer the whole way through. If there was actually a war on it, I wish they’d drop the bomb and incinerate the entire thing.

Take Thanksgiving, make it start in November and end in December. A month-long festival for the season. You can even give gifts at the end, if you want. It could be like Ramadan, or, probably more likely and much on the opposite end of the spectrum, Oktoberfest.

There. Problem solved. Have a great day, everyone. Let’s do some reviews.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

BongCauldron, Tyke

BongCauldron Tyke

Biscuit, Corky and Jay of BongCauldron return less than 12 months out from their Binge LP (review here) with Tyke (on APF), three more cuts of weed-eating, dirt-worshiping, weed-worshiping, dirt-eating sludge, fueled as ever by fuckall and booze and banger riffs — and yes, I mean “banger” as in “bangers and mash.” There’s a lead that shows up in closer “Jezus Throat Horns” and some vocal melody that follows behind the throaty barks, but for the bulk of the three-tracker, it’s down to the business of conveying dense-toned disaffection and rolling nod. “Pisshead on the Moon” opens with a sample about alcohol killing you and works from its lumber into a bit of a shuffle for its midsection before hitting a wall in the last minute or so in order to make room for the punker blast of “Back up Bog Roll,” which tears ass and is gone as soon as it’s there, dropping some gang vocals on the way, because really, when you think about it, screw everything. Right? “Jezus Throat Horns” might be offering a bit of creative progression in closing out, but the heart of BongCauldron remains stained of finger and stank of breath — just the way it should be.

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Black Helium, Primitive Fuck

black helium primitive fuck

Oh yes. Most definitely. From the Sabbath swing behind the chugging “Love the Drugs” and the march of “Wicked Witch” through the what-would-happen-if-Danzig-was-interesting “Summer Spells” and fuzzed-out post-punk shouts of “Videodrone” en route to the nine-minute “Curtains at the Mausoleum,” London four-piece Black Helium make heavy psychedelic songcraft into something as malleable as it should be on their Riot Season debut, Primitive Fuck, holding to underlying structures when it suits them and touching on drone bliss without ever really completely letting go. Opener “Drowsy Shores” is hypnotic. The aforementioned “Curtains at the Mausoleum” is hypnotic. Even the chug-meets-effects-blowout closing title-track is hypnotic, but on the handclap-laced “Do You Wanna Come Out Tonight?” or “Videodrone,” or even “Summer Spells,” there are hooks for the listener to latch onto, life-rafts floating in the swirling tonal abyss. The truth? There isn’t a primitive thing about it. They’re not so much lizard-brained as astral-planed, and if you want a summation of their sound, look no further than their name. It’ll make even more sense when you listen. Which you should do.

Black Helium on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Earthbong, Demo 2018

earthbong demo 2018

The immediate association in terms of riff is going to be Sleep. “Drop Dead,” the 10-minute first of two songs on Earthbong‘s debut Demo 2018, rolls out with pure Dopesmoker-ism and follows the model of gradual unfolding of its weedian sludge riffery. No complaints. The Kiel, Germany, trio are obviously just getting their start, and since it’s a demo and not the “debut EP” that so many otherwise demos try to position themselves as, I’ll take it. And to boot, “Drop Dead” ultimately departs its Sleepy environs for altogether more abrasive fare, with Bongzilla-style screams and an increasingly aggressive shove, the drums crashing like the cymbals did something wrong, and feedback capping into the start of “Wanderer,” which is shorter at seven minutes and opens its assault earlier, the vocals no less distorted than the guitar or bass. There’s some space in a solo in the second half, but Earthbong again twist into harsh, crusty doom before letting feedback carry them out to the demo’s finish. Growing to do, but already their violence seethes.

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Sir Collapse, Walk to the Moon

sir collapse walk to the moon

Grunge, noise rock and Queens of the Stone Age-style melody-making collide on Walk to the Moon, the debut full-length from German four-piece Sir Collapse, sometimes on disparate cuts, like the noisy intro given to the album by “Lower Principles,” and sometimes within the same song, as in the later “Like Me.” A jangly swing in “Mono Mantra” and the Nirvana-esque hook there soon gives way to the desert-hued thrust of “One Man Show” and the early ’90s fuzz of “Happy Planet Celebration,” while “The Great Escape” leads the way into some measure of evening out the approach in “Like Me,” “Too Late,” “Hey Ben” and “The Family,” unless that’s just the band acclimating the listener to their style. Fair enough either way. Sir Collapse round out with a return to the uptempo push shown earlier, giving their first LP an impressive sense of symmetry and whole-work presentation as layers of vocals intertwine with melody alternately lush and raw, sounding very much like a band who know the parameters in which they want to work going forward. So be it.

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Alms, Act One

alms act one

Organ-soaked Baltimorean garage doomers Alms enter the conversation of 2018’s best debut albums with Act One on Shadow Kingdom, a collection rife with choice riffing, dynamic vocals and a nuanced blend of heft and drama. That a song like “The Toll” could be both as traditional sounding as it is and still modern enough to be called forward-thinking is nothing short of a triumph, and in the stomping “The Offering,” Alms cast forth a signature chorus that stands out from the tracks surrounding without departing the atmosphere so prevalent in their work. “Dead Water” at the outset and “For Shame” build a momentum through side A that the five-piece of keyboardist/vocalist Jess Kamen guitarists Bob Sweeney (also vocals) and Derrick Hans, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans expand in the second half of the record, winding up in the early gruel of “Hollowed” only to resolve the album with speedier swing and as sure a hand as they’ve guided it all along. At six songs and 33 minutes, Act One unmistakably leaves the audience wanting more, and indeed, the plot may just be starting to unfold.

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Shadow Kingdom Records on Bandcamp

 

Haaze, Swamp Mama

Haaze Swamp Mama

It is a sharp, biting 27-minute run, but Swamp Mama isn’t just thrown together haphazardly. Alberta-based sludge metallers Haaze build a song like “35 Indians” to a head over the course of a deceptively efficient 4:44, following opening track “Beast of the Bog” with a developed sense of craft underlying the outward negativity of their sound. I’ll give the band bonus points for finishing side A with a song called “Stereotypically Doomed,” but more for the crash cymbal that seems to devour the mix. There’s a trashy undercurrent to the subsequent title-track, and as it finishes its pummel, it relinquishes ground to the acoustic interlude, “The Mechanic,” which I’m just going to assume is named for the Charles Bronson movie. That of course sets up the most extreme cut included in closer “AL,” which layers fierce growls and screams atop a rhythm clearly designed for maximum assault factor. A little more metal than sludge, it nonetheless remains tonally consistent with what comes before it, giving Swamp Mama a vicious ending and a feel that’s all the more lethal for it.

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The Sledge, On the Verge of Nothing

the sledge on the verge of nothing

Copenhagen four-piece The Sledge boasts the three former members of heavy rockers Hjortene in guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Palle, drummer/vocalist Kim and bassist Claus, so while they’ve revamped their identity and gone on to add vocalist Magnus Risby — who appears here on “179 Liars” and “Yet Untitled” — perhaps its somewhat disingenuous to consider their first album under the new moniker, On the Verge of Nothing, a debut. Issued through Kozmik Artifactz, the record collects eight tracks produced by Anders Hansen (who also worked with Hjortene) and mixed by Matt Bayles, and in listening to the cuts with Risby in the lead spot, the vibe taps into a thicker take on late-era Dozer with no less righteous melodicism. That, however, is just a fraction of the total story of On the Verge of Nothing, which taps earlier desert idolatry on “Death Drome Doline” and brings in none other than Lorenzo Woodrose himself for guest spots elsewhere. People in and out of the lineup through different tracks should make the LP disjointed, but as ever, it’s the songwriting that holds it together, and one can’t discount the core band’s experience playing together as a part of that either. Debut or not, it’s an impressive offering.

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Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Red Lama, Dogma

red lama dogma

One tends to think of serenity and peaceful drift when it comes to Danish heavy psych rockers Red Lama, but as the seven-piece band quickly turn around follow-up to their 2018 sophomore LP, Motions (discussed here), cuts like opener “Time” and “RLP” unfold with a particular sense of urgency, the former seeming to showcase an acknowledgement of sociopolitical circumstances in Europe and beyond in a way that seems to readjust their focus. That’s a tidy narrative, but if it’s a case of priorities being rebalanced, it’s striking nonetheless. To coincide, “RLP” has a heavier roll in its second half, and while second cut “State of the Art” and closer “Tearing up the Snow” both make their way past the five-minute mark with post-rocking pastoralia and dreamy melodies, there remains a feeling of a tighter focus in the tracks that could portend a new stage of the band’s development or could simply be a circumstance of what’s included here. The next album will tell the tale.

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Full Tone Generator, Valley of the Universe

full tone generator valley of the universe

Fronted by Andy Fernando of Don Fernando, Full Tone Generator‘s debut long-player, Valley of the Universe, nonetheless bears the unmistakable hallmark of the Californian desert — in no small part because that’s where it was recorded. Fernando and guitarist/bassist/backing vocalist Brad Young traveled to that famed landscape to record with Bubba DuPree and Brant Bjork at Zainaland Studios, only to have the latter end up playing drums and contributing backing vocals as well to the eight-tracker. Not a bad deal, frankly. The key reference sound-wise throughout Valley of the Universe is Kyuss, particularly because of Bjork‘s involvement and Fernando‘s vocal style, but the slow-rolling “I Only Love You When I’m Loaded,” 59-second blaster “No Future” and the ending jam duo of “Preacher Man” and “Never to Return” make the ground their own, the latter with some surprise screams before it bounces its way into oblivion as though nothing ever happened. They’ve got the vibe down pat, but Full Tone Generator do more as well than simply retread desert rock’s founding principles.

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Mountain Dust, Seven Storms

mountain dust seven storms

Keys give Montreal four-piece Mountain Dust a tie to classic heavy blues and they use that element well to cast their identity in the spirit of a post-retro modern feel, details like the backing vocals of “White Bluffs” and the waltzing rhythm held by the snare on “Witness Marks” doing much to add complexity to the persona of the band. “You Could” goes over the top in its boozy regrets, but the dramas of “Old Chills” are full in sound and satisfyingly wistful, while closer “Stop Screaming” offers a bit of twang and slide guitar to go along with its sense of threat and consuming seven-minute finish. Tight songwriting and clean production do a lot to give Seven Storms a professional presentation, but ultimately it’s the band itself that shines through in terms of performance and as Mountain Dust follow-up their well-received 2016 debut, Nine Years, they sound confident in their approach and ready to flesh out in multiple directions while maintaining a central character to their sound that will be familiar to the converted enough to be a work of genre while setting the stage to become all the more their own as well.

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