Blood Incantation to Release Absolute Elsewhere Oct. 4

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

blood incantation (Photo by Julian Weigand)

Based in Denver — also perhaps the Oort Cloud — the progressive/death metal unit Blood Incantation will issue their new two-track full-length, Absolute Elsewhere, in October through Century Media. The offering follows on from 2022’s synth-led Timewave Zero EP, performed in full by the band at this year’s Roadburn Festival (review here), which was a highlight both for the ultra-dug-in krautrock worship and the laser lightshow that accompanied. At least going by the descriptions below, Absolute Elsewhere — with all the hi-we-like-obscure-prog signaling and pulp sci-fi vibes — would seem to follow suit.

No complaints there. I dig their death metal side and have been lucky enough to see them crush bones thusly as well, but they’re a better band for the scope they bring to their dark-energy-expanded explorations. There’s two tracks on the new record and I haven’t heard any of it yet, but the video for “Luminescent Bridge” that they put out in April should be fair enough induction, and if not, there’s an app called ‘Elsewhere Searcher’ that I haven’t checked out yet but likely has some snippet or other to show off. Also note Nicklas Malmqvist of Hällas sitting in and guest appearances from Thorsten Quaeschning (Tangerine Dream) and Malte Gericke (Sijjin) as the band continue to reach into the beyond to discover new places their music can go.

Oct. 4 is the release date. Surely touring will happen. Keep an eye out. Here’s this from the PR wire:

Blood Incantation Absolute Elsewhere

BLOOD INCANTATION Announce New Album Absolute Elsewhere Coming October 4 via Century Media

Launch Elsewhere Searcher App:

Stargate Research Society Discord:

The new Blood Incantation album, Absolute Elsewhere, is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Yes, that’s an audacious, possibly hyperbolic claim, but few can claim a sonic watershed as readily as this Denver, Colorado quartet. Hovering at nearly 45 minutes, their longest full length recording yet, the album’s two sprawling movements – “The Stargate” and “The Message” – are as confounding as they are engaging, exponentially expanding upon the formulas laid down by their scene-shattering debut Starspawn (2016) and landmark followup Hidden History of the Human Race (2019).

As Blood Incantation’s Paul Riedl tells, “‘Absolute Elsewhere’ is our most potent audial extract/musical trip yet; like the soundtrack to a Herzog-style Sci-Fi epic about the history of/battle for human consciousness itself, via a 70s Prog album played by a 90s Death Metal band from the future.” For inspiration, the group looked to the mid-70’s progressive rock collective, Absolute Elsewhere (best known as a celestial stopover for King Crimson drummer, Bill Bruford) as the album’s namesake. For the uninitiated, Absolute Elsewhere’s obscure 1976 album, In Search of Ancient Gods, was constructed as a musical accompaniment to the works of Chariots of the Gods author, Erich Von Daniken, and his theories of non-terrestrial humanoid prompts towards mankind’s evolution. The subject matter of which should serve as no surprise to anyone familiar with Blood Incantation’s cosmically philosophical leanings. But make no mistake, the four musicians working under the Blood Incantation banner for the past decade – guitarist and vocalist Paul Riedl, drummer Isaac Faulk, guitarist Morris Kolontyrsky and bassist Jeff Barrett – have successfully left the microgravity of genre behind and are re-writing the Rosetta Stone of extreme music with a new language entirely. Demonstrations like their 2022 all-synth show or 2024’s Roadburn Festival headlining appearance where they played back-to-back death metal and ambient made it clear: Blood Incantation have honed their abilities to go boldly where few bands have gone before, and reveal no signs of slowing down.

For Absolute Elsewhere, the band’s first full-length since their cinematic Timewave Zero EP (2022) and epic Luminescent Bridge maxi-single (2023), Blood Incantation decamped to the celebrated Hansa Tonstudios in Berlin, Germany in July 2023 to record with wünderkid producer Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Spectral Voice, Kreator, Wayfarer, Sumerlands, etc). This legendary, pre-Weimar-built recording complex was where many of their most progressive influences including Tangerine Dream, Eloy and Brian Eno created classic albums in the 1970s. Unmistakably, Hansa and Berlin became part of the underlying character of the album, culminating in Tangerine Dream’s own Thorsten Quaeschning contributing lead synths, Mellotron and programming to “The Stargate [Tablet II]”. Other special guests include Nicklas Malmqvist, from Sweden’s star-riding Hällas, on lead synths/keys, piano and Mellotron throughout all tracks, and Malte Gericke, the Sijjin/ex-Necros Christos mainman contributing guest vocals in his native tongue. Underscoring the classic Progressive Rock vibe, the album is adorned with contemporary visionary paintings by the iconic and reclusive 70s Sci-Fi artist Steve R. Dodd. Together, this international all-star team adds to the unearthly atmospherics of Absolute Elsewhere, which defines a new musical epoch for Blood Incantation.

Today they have launched their Stargate Research Society discord and Elsewhere Searcher app – a home for discussions of all things Blood Incantation. Researchers at the society recently unearthed an 80’s era floppy disk containing vintage celestial tracker software. The researchers were able to re-activate the space tracker and through meticulous study of the visible solar system have noticed the appearance of a new red planet in the vicinity of Orion’s Belt. The researchers also claim that the new planet is intermittently emitting signals, although no recordings of these transmissions have been captured yet. The society has made their research available to the public in an effort to warn citizens of the planet’s rapid approach toward Earth, with a possible collision occurring in October 2024. The tracker is open for public use at

Absolute Elsewhere Tracklist:
1. The Stargate (20:20)
2. The Message (23:23)

Blood Incantation Lineup:
Paul Riedl – Guitars, Vocals
Isaac Faulk – Drums
Morris Kolontyrsky – Guitars
Jeff Barrett – Fretless Bass

Blood Incantation, “Luminescent Bridge” official video

Blood Incantation, “Obliquity of the Ecliptic” official video

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Roadburn 2024: Notes From Day Two

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 20th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Map w weirdo canyon

About a 1PM start writing. I lasted even less time at the Roadburn networking meeting than I expected to. Got my nametag for a souvenir, found Lee, said hi to like two people and split. Not that anyone was unfriendly or anything like that — I wasn’t in the room long enough for something like that to happen — I just couldn’t hack it.

I’ve never been able to conjure a decent performance of self in that kind of setting, and I’m even less able toNetworking name tag handle crowds generally than I used to be. To be clear: I’m not saying a bad word about people who work in the same field meeting each other — it both makes sense professionally and can be a way to connect likeminded humans — but I just can’t do it. It’s on me, completely. I’d always been invited but shy about checking it out, said this was the year. Okay.

A quick run — well, mid-paced plod, really — back to the hotel to reorient, take Advil, drink water, have a bit of a cry, etc., and try to call my wife. No answer, and if she’s sleeping past what’s 7AM at home, that’s unquestionably to the benefit of her day. I was at the 013 office before the networking meeting doing a quick blurb or two while pounding espressos, so have been up for a while, but the day doesn’t ‘start’ for another hour, so I’ll breathe a minute, get my head right and head up to Hall of Fame in a few with my even-weird-among-weirdos self. Oof.

Light rain in Tilburg, off and on. It could be far worse. I bumped into Darsombra on my way to their show. They were on their way to lunch, which is how I knew I was early for their 2:30 start. I went to the Hall of Fame, completely empty. I’ll admit that in my head they were going at 2, but when the dude working the board said the room wasn’t opened yet, I said, “please, I’m just looking for a quiet place to sit. I’m sorry. I have a pass if that helps,” and I guess it helped because when he left the room a minute later he didn’t come back with security to kick my ass out. Thank you to him.

Turned out a few quiet-ish moments would be crucial to getting in the right frame of mind for Darsombra, who exuded joy from the moment they got on stage to explain that this was the first show on their European tour, then left and came back out with the backdrop of the video premiered here Monday for “Shelter in Place” to start their set with “Call the Doctor,” glee abounding in the prog rock vocal melodies and total other-planetary reach of their sound. Sharing vocals with themselves and everyone else in the Darsombra (Photo by JJ Koczan)room who knew the song, Ann Everton shifted from synth to gong to bells and clacky-clackies while Brian Daniloski reveled in tonal presence and shred, the two of them moving in their own kind of dance that was the best argument I’ve seen in a while for a vigorous stretching regimen, not that I needed convincing in that regard. Where’s Roadburn Yoga in the mornings? Completely serious about that, by the way.

Smiles on stage and off, it was a celebration of the noise itself and the ability to find one’s place in it. I dig their records and could easily provide (more) links to prove that, but it had been too long since I last bathed in their live sound. Refreshing, they were. Precisely the redirect I needed, and at just the right time. And speaking of time seeing how full the room got, I was glad to have been early, even with the more laid back Freeburn ethic I’m trying to abide by while I’m here. Once they started, time was irrelevant anyhow.

Most of my day today was at the 013 for the main stage, and that started with Mat McNerney’s commissioned project, ‘Music for Gloaming: A Nocturne by the Hexvessel Folk Assembly.’ Following on from yesterday’s full-album performance, I had been expecting a more folkish offering this time, perhaps in part because it was called a Folk Assembly, but I should’ve known better than to expect any single thing. Blackened tones and push, throaty screams and room-shaking low end pervaded amid doomly nod, quiet, ambient stretches of acoustic guitar, piano, softly intertwining dual vocal arrangements. I don’t know if it was being recorded, but it was expansive in a way that accounted for a lot of what Hexvessel have done as a bandHexvessel (Photo by JJ Koczan), and brought it together thoughtfully and with purpose. I’ll keep my fingers crossed it surfaces at some point as a live release, or that they decide to take it into a studio.

The room cleared a bit when they were done — there was nearly an hour before Blood Incantation were going on with the first of their two sets this weekend, this one focused on their ambient Timewave Zero LP that they’ve never played in Europe and have only done I think one or two other times live. Sounds like something perfect for Roadburn, right? How about that.

The long break post-Nocturne afforded me a chance to pop into Next Stage for a few minutes for Miaux’s standalone cinemascocpic synthery. It was low-key enough to suit my brain but I opted for a refresh of coffee and water downstairs and would not regret it as the afternoon turned to evening. I sat for a bit outside the main stage on one of the benched in the hallway — if I’m talking a lot about sitting, understand that I’m also doing plenty of standing and moving about from here to there, but that not-that is a novelty and something I consider part of finding a place for myself during these days; not actively trying to break myself is new — and ended up chatting with Timothy from Supersonic Blues, who are apparently back to being a trio and have plans to record this summer. Good news.

By the time Blood Incantation actually went on, the main stage was jammed. I’ve seen them in their more pummel-prone death metal form, but was curious to watch them explore this more ambient side. I can’t recall ever seeing a band with salt lamps on stage before, so that ticks the box of another Roadburn first for me, and in the wash of synth, loops and effects, the fog, lasers and mostly dim lights, there was no want for mood. Sitar, acoustic guitar, a gong, quiet-then-not vocals, an Attila Csihar guest spot, sampled birdsong, even a trombone that seemed to feedback a couple times became part of the procession along with a defined, slow beat and more persistent percussiveness that emerged after 40-someodd minutes to give shape later on, but the central drone never left and they never lost track of what they were building on top of as it all oozed out from the stage, not so much overwhelming, but growing into its shape in its own time. World creation, and exploratory to be sure, but even at the peak, never too kitchen-sinked or doing anything to Blood Incantation (Photo by JJ Koczan)pull you out of the hypnotic state. I was left wondering what the inevitable sequel — maybe Timewave One? — might bring. Keyboards and sonics, likewise sprawling. I watched the full set.

They said a subdued thanks and the lights came up to dissolve that reality and let the crowd make its shuffling way to wherever was next. For me that was Dool — a band I first heard and saw at Roadburn eight years ago — doing their third album, The Shape of Fluidity, in its entirety. It’s release day, so all the more a special occasion, but again there was a long break, so I hopped — note: definitely did not hop, just trying to counteract the sitting narrative above — into the Next Stage to soak in a few minutes of Forest Swords. And soaking was about it, since where I stood — look at me go! — could see little more than the flashing lights and a corner of the video screen on the stage.

I stayed long enough to appreciate what I was hearing, but my trajectory had been a repeat of between Hexvessel and Blood Incantation — water refill and then on to the next main stage set, allowing for whatever socializing between might crop up, as some did — so I left the left Next Stage to what seemed like its post-industrial vibes and did the thing. The endgame of the break was Dool (which I’ve been pronouncing wrong all this time; it’s like “dole”), who were the imperative around which I’d made the loose structure of my Roadburn Friday.

The album was fresh in my mind. I listened to it twice after getting back to the hotel the night before, and it’s been getting regular spins at home. It’s plenty heavy, but produced for more than just that, and hearing a song like Dool (Photo by JJ Koczan)“Hermagorgon” or the duly scorching opener “Venus in Flames” come through full blast from the main stage, both while I was up front taking photos and after moving up to the balcony to see the rest, was more affecting than I had anticipated.

I don’t talk about it a lot on this site because of what might happen if the wrong person read it, but as a parent trying to help guide a trans kid growing up in the United States — where it is terrifying to think that someday my child might be beaten to death for nothing more than being who she is, or might be driven to hurt herself by just moving through a world that gets off on the cruelty of its rhetoric and culture — to watch Dool guitarist/vocalist Raven van Dorst, whose experience of gender informs the theme of the lyrics throughout The Shape of Fluidity, who has grappled and maybe continues to grapple with that kind of complexity in their daily life, get on the biggest stage here and absolutely own it, own themselves, own that complexity, was powerful and moving well beyond what raw volume could hope to encompass, though there was plenty of that too. To bask in the triumph of Dool’s moment struck me hard, and it’s something I’m so, so incredibly grateful to have witnessed. To imagine along with all the horror in my mind, that kind of possibility exists, even for just a few minutes, was beautiful. I hope sometime in the future to be able to share with my daughter what it meant to me, if she still talks to me by then.

So yeah, it’s a really good record. They did it justice. Big feelings. I guess that’s what it comes down to. I watched the full set.

I missed Inter Arma’s secret show, but fair enough for them to do one after doing their own new record in full. L.A.’s Health — who are most assuredly not to be confused with Heath, who played the skate park last night and will be at Hall of Fame tomorrow — were next on the main stage. Water and a quick hey to Oeds from Iron Jinn and Timothy from Supersonic Blues as they were chatting on the main stage floor level, then to the front for that part of the thing. Am I shirking the Freeburn ideology with a routine today and similar pattern for tomorrow? Maybe on some level, but if it’s about doingHealth (Photo by JJ Koczan) what I want to do and feeling good about it — and it is — then I’ll say I’ve yet to regret any of the choices I’ve made or refused to make thus far into Roadburn. Catching Health, about whom I know precious little being simple genre categorization, would be no different.

Making a visual impact in their light and video show to go with their industrial metal — guitar, bass and drums alongside the digitized aspect — Health were loud the way you think of mountains as big. I’d heard some stuff going into the set but would in no way claim to be an expert, but there wasn’t one song they played the crowd didn’t go off for, and reasonably so with the body-volume, intensity of strobe and the breaks that let you go just long enough before the next pulse of bass frequency slammed you into the ground. The flashing lights got to be a lot after not really all that long, and since I knew I wanted my evening to end with Tusmørke in the Next Stage room following the recommendation of a good friend who’d probably rather not have his name dropped, I hit up the balcony in time to get a spot where I could both see and breathe. Not a luxury to be taken for granted.

The thoroughly Norwegian proggers assured my night finished with a smile no less wide than it started however many centuries ago this afternoon with Darsombra at Hall of Fame. Where guitar might be early on was organ and flute along with the bass and drums, and in addition to being tight enough to pull that off as a take on ’70s prog, their between-song banter was hilarious, making fun of Norway with dry humor and talking about Lord of the Rings, Norwegian children being sacrificed to elk, the proliferation of medieval reading material about how to avoid hornets, and so on. To say the room was on board would be putting it mildly. People danced to the warm groove underscoring all the wilfully-odd quirk, and the lighthearted mood on stage set the tone for their entire set, up to and including when they traded keys for guitar, having already jumped between English and Norwegian lyrics.

I hadn’t planned on staying the whole time — tomorrow is another day — and it wasn’t just the tossoff line about witches wanting to control the means of production that held me in place, but it definitely didn’t hurt Tusmorke (Photo by JJ Koczan)the cause. I saw a dude playing air-flute. It was that kind of party.

The guitar/keyboard issue was settled when they moved the synth over to the other side of the stage — took a minute, as that kind of thing would — for the last song, but they were fluid jamming whatever anyone on stage was actually doing as part of that, funky like classic prog always wanted to be and delightfully nerdy, toying with effects and getting fuzzy or a little spacier for it, sneaking a reference to the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack into the first song and ending as a guitar/bass/drums/flute-and-keys four-piece after what felt like a genuine adventure getting there. I was glad to have gotten that recommendation, and yes, I watched the whole set. That’s how I know they finished late, which is something I’ve rarely seen a band do at Roadburn. When they neared 10 minutes over, I thought the house lights would come up, but it didn’t come to that.

Roadburn 2024 continues tomorrow and I’ll have more then. Until then, if you’re here, I hope your Roadburn has been as uplifting as mine has so far, and if not, I hope some sense of that comes through in reading. And thank you for reading.

More pics after the jump.

Read more »

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Roadburn 2024 Adds Over 30 Acts in New Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Insert your preferred cliché about Xmas coming early, as Roadburn Festival has just loosed a massive lineup announcement that will bring more than 30 bands and solo artists to the 2024 edition set for next April in the fest’s customary home of Tilburg, the Netherlands. They’ve brought on The Bevis Frond for the first time since 2006, and Health, Torpor, Full Earth, Darsombra, Alber Jupiter, Royal Thunder, Birds in Row, Deaf Club, Blood Incantation, on and on and on for a totally overwhelming multi-day experience that’s still just a fraction of what Roadburn will have on offer by the time the next few months have passed.

While I’m here and perhaps have the relevant attention, I owe Roadburn an apology for what was a misunderstanding on my part as regards Khanate. I said when Khanate announced additional shows that I could’ve sworn they were Roadburn-exclusive. In fact, that was never the case and my “could’ve sworn” was incorrect. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. Not making excuses or anything, but I was definitely stoned when I put that post together. While I’m being honest, sometimes I forget that anyone might read this or that the words I say might have any consequence whatsoever. I’m doing my best, kids. The mind wanders.

Often to thoughts of Tilburg, but I guess having a dog named Tilly will do that too. In any case, permanent, unflinching, deep-in-the-muscle-tissue love to all at Roadburn out front and behind the scenes. It goes without saying there’s some stunning stuff here, and should you be attending, I hope whatever Roadburn choose-your-own-adventure you undertake is a personal landmark.

From the PR wire this morning:

Roadburn-2024 new add

Roadburn adds over thirty new names to the 2024 lineup including Health, Kavus Torabi, UBOA and a second clipping. set.

Roadburn has today added over thirty new names to the 2024 lineup. Amongst the artists announced is Health who will make a triumphant return to the festival, Kavus Torabi who will perform a specially commissioned project, and a second set for experimental hip hop group, Clipping.

These artists – and more – join Blood Incantation who were announced for the festival last week. The Denver-based four piece will perform their ambient album, Timewave Zero, in full, as well as a second set that will encompass tracks from their metal catalogue.

Roadburn’s artistic director, Walter Hoeijmakers comments: “It’s a huge pleasure to finally bring you this extensive announcement. We have been working intensely for such a long time. As we add these artists to the lineup, we can see it beginning to reflect the broad scope and feel of Roadburn 2024, truly showcasing the underground as it is today – varied, innovative and incredibly exciting.

“We are flying in a lot of these bands from all over for the festival, and we know how daunting it can be for an artist to travel halfway across the world for just one gig. With that in mind, we have asked several of them to play multiple sets. This will help make the most of their time at Roadburn, amplifying their voices as much as possible and giving them a rare chance to fully express themselves through all of their different artistic and musical facets.”

Roadburn 2024 will take place between April 18-21 in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Tickets are on sale now.

Following a mind-blowing performance at Roadburn 2022, HEALTH will return to Tilburg to bring their distinctive sound and unparalleled energy back to the festival – this time on the main stage. With the release of their brand new album Rat Wars propelling them forward, the sky’s the limit for Health.

clipping. have added a second set – the experimental hip hop trio will now play both Thursday, 18 April and Friday, 19 April, promising that “one will be more of a “party” (more upbeat, dance-floor-ready tracks) and the other will be something darker (more of our harsher, less beat-driven tracks).”

Kavus Torabi – renowned for his work with the likes of Gong, The Utopia Strong, Knifeworld and The Holy Family – will present a commissioned project titled Lion of The Lord’s Elect. This performance will comprise original material, performed for the very first time, commissioned by Roadburn.

Uboa will be an artist in residence at Roadburn – performing three distinctive sets over the course of the festival, including the live debut of The Origin of My Depression in its entirety. The Australian noise artist will showcase different facets of her creativity across the trio of performances.

Labelmates Ragana and Drowse will perform a brand new collaborative piece of music titled The Ash from Mount Saint Helens. These two artists both release music under The Flenser label, and are uniting to create a new composition that will premiere at Roadburn.

Also announced:

  • Alber Jupiter will release a new album in 2024 and promise interstellar kosmische missives galore.
  • The experimental folk and drone of Annelies Monseré is set to leave an impression on Roadburn audiences.
  • After biding their time, Benefits will make their presence felt this coming April..
  • Birds In Row will perform their 2022 album, Gris Klein, in its entirety.
  • Body Void will return to Roadburn to perform their new release, Atrocity Machine, in full.
  • After much unavoidable delay, Cult Leader will finally performA Patient Man at Roadburn this Spring.
  • Krautrock and misty soundscapes collide as Darsombra prepare to take to the stage.
  • The effervescent Deaf Club will make their Roadburn debut.
  • Melancholic, ambient solo artist Kyle Bates aka Drowse will perform his own show as well as the collaboration with Ragana.
  • Eye Flys bring their distinctively caustic sound to Roadburn.
  • Drawing influence from the bleak tones of a post-industrial Northern England, Forest Swords will bring his spectral soundscapes to life.
  • Making their first foray into Europe, Frail Body will stop by Tilburg to perform tracks from their hotly anticipated new album.
  • Fuck Money are an incomparable band from Austin, TX – bringing their chaotic maelstrom of transgressive audio aggression to our doorstep.
  • The brand new psychedelic, organ-driven sound of Full Earth is heading to Roadburn.
  • Having dominated Europe already this year, Home Front will return with Roadburn in their sights; expect synth-driven post-punk.
  • The acerbic sound of macabre grindcore will make an appearance thanks to Knoll.
  • Industrial beats, apocalyptic noise, and gothic flourishes will all make an appearance during Lana Del Rabies’ Roadburn set
  • Laster will perform their incredible new album, Andermans Mijne, in full.
  • Titillation and transformation are high on the agenda for Patriarchy.
  • Having made a huge impact with their latest album, Desolation’s Flower, Ragana will at last make their Roadburn debut.
  • Richard Dawson’s distinctive take on British folk is long overdue an appearance at Roadburn.
  • Royal Thunder will perform two sets at Roadburn; one career-spanning set titled TIME + SPACE + REVIVAL and the other being a run through of their latest magnificent opus, Rebuilding The Mountain.
  • Sunrise Patriot Motion offer up an alluring take on gothic post-punk
  • New Jersey’s Sunrot will be making their first trip to Europe, starting at Roadburn.
  • Shadowy three piece, Thantifaxath, will bring their angular take on black metal to the festival.
  • After many years, The Bevis Frond will return to Roadburn – having last appeared with their take on psychedelic sonic explorations at the festival back in 2006.
  • Oppressive doom trio Torpor will perform their latest album Abscission in full.
  • Belgian-based trio Use Knife will present their radiant energy to Roadburn.

The Bevis Frond, “Lead” live at Roadburn 2006

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Psycho Las Vegas 2022 – Day 2 Notes

Posted in Features on August 21st, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Belzebong (Photo by JJ Koczan)


It’s a kind of radical self-determinism. There is no rescue or guiding hand coming. The whole time I’ve been in Vegas, and really since Psycho got rolling here in 2016, I think I’m not the only one who’s been trying to understand just what the hell it’s all supposed to be about. I won’t lie, getting my head around it and seeing what Psycho has become as it’s gotten bigger and more encompassing is part of why I’m here. I acknowledge that for a good many people that’s just the wrong approach, but that’s the idea too.

You know how Americans think we don’t have a culture and that’s our culture? Well, consider a festival as a “we” experience. There is a collective of people all in the same place for a similar basic reason — this is the foundation of community. Psycho isn’t about the “we.” Certainly there are people here with fest-friends and all that, but it’s more the individualized experience. The ‘you’ in it is singular. You choose your adventure.

For the most part you can move around freely as you do so — local statutes and constabulary permitting — and what you see, who you’re with and why is up to you. Psycho isn’t about bringing everybody together in a lump and presenting a vision. It’s letting attendees handle their own curation. Between that and the brass-coated male-gaze consumerism happening all around the music, this becomes a distinctly American idea. The narrative becomes one of searching out your own way through the huge tangle of lineups, discovering where you need to be and when as you go. It’s thrilling in a way. Pioneer spirit. You’re here, you figure it out.

That is not an experience for everyone, nor is it everyone’s experience of America, but that too is a part of the culture of this country and a part of the story Psycho Las Vegas is telling about it. I don’t know if I feel like I’ve figured it out, but everybody who for years has been comparing Psycho to other fests, in Europe or not, is doing it wrong. That giant chrome ball in the middle of the mall space at Resorts World? That’s your answer. It doesn’t have to justify itself. You are here. Now go get wrecked. Psycho Las Vegas is a different animal. Use its teeth to carve out your own good time.

For many, I expect the ‘mad musical odyssey’ aspect means last night’s, or Thursday’s, party is still going. So be it. It’s eight in the morning. My alarm was set for this time, but I got up and out early. I might sit outside Starbucks in this chair until someone either shoos me away or I actually finish both these coffees, which are what they are. I imagine there are people’s whose chosen adventures lead to places outside this billions-and-billions-of-dollars hotel complex. I’m not so brave, apart from that one trip the first night to the dispensary.

Later, after coffee

Maybe I got up too early. I feel like there’s a lot of very famous hair around right now. I wonder how many other festivals are going on?

Kings Destroy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Seeing Kings Destroy was a trip. Every time I’m anywhere those guys are, it’s a good day. A bit sentimental, but let’s be honest, I don’t have a lot of friends. That’s my own fault more than anything. They played “Green Diamonds” though, which is loved, and “Old Yeller.” “I know your people they hang out at this club.”

There is no place to sit in the Dawg House, save for $25-minimum tables. I’ve got a leaning spot and might just have to stay here for the duration, since this is where most of what I want to see is happening. Choose your adventure and I stand still and complain about no chairs. That sounds about right.

But about Kings Destroy. I’ve written a ton of shit on the subject over the last 12 years. A lot. And I feel pretty comfortable in saying that I’ve barely scratched the surface in what’s going on in that band. The two-guitar dynamic, the different personalities of the players coming through on stage. There’s a ton there, influence-wise, pulling from classic rock more than I ever have them credit for, and it’s been a minute since I put on those records, but hearing songs from Fantasma Nera had almost nostalgic vibes, even though they’re not actually that old. Oh yeah, seeing Kings Destroy. That’s a thing I used to do before the world fell apart.

Greenbeard (Photo by JJ Koczan)

And goodness gracious Greenbeard rock. That’s kind of their thing, right? Well it holds up. Even after what I’ll call an excess of coffee, I feel a bit like I’m dragging ass, but neither Kings Destroy — C-wolf and Carl in sunglasses like the Blues Brothers on either side of the stage — nor Greenbeard were in similar straits. For the best. I stayed up front for Kings Destroy, like you do, and moved back for Greenbeard, but man, the groove is statistically significant. I don’t want to say it’s a surprise, since I saw them like two and a half months ago, but it is hitting the spot vibe-wise. Belzebong after this is going to be crusty fun.

Belzebong (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Later again

I feel guilty as shit for being here. You know what my wife did today? She painted the ceiling of our fucking kitchen. After driving back from dropping the kid off in Connecticut to stay with his aunt for an overnight. God damn I’m selfish. Painted the ceiling. And what was I doing? Daring to see Blood Incantation instead of Rifflord, who I saw two days ago? Yes, look at my bold and unpredictable action. Surely worthy of my apparent station in life.

Blood Incantation (Photo by JJ Koczan)

As Tom G. Warrior tells us, “Ough.”

But I did go see Blood Incantation after Belzebong’s ultra-stoner riff onslaught, because sometimes a bit of kicking around is good for the ol’ soul, and I needed it. Nothing against Rifflord, mind you. I just needed to be where I was.

And Blood Incantation provided the shove I needed as well, that ur-groove that only death metal has. Technical but fun to watch in a look-at-what-people-can-do-with-noise kind of way. You’ll pardon me if I try and push back on the imaginary obligations I invent for myself. Occasionally.

Duel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Duel, Blackwater Holylight, and Stinking Lizaveta (yes, again), in quick succession. It wound up I checked out Duel — ripper, duh — and went up to the Event Center to get in the photo pit for Blackwater Holylight, didn’t get my requisite email out soon enough and so didn’t get in. I took pictures from the crowd. Who cares? Like I gotta make deadline for The Daily Bugle or some shit. Heads up though, Blackwater Holylight are a prog band. And I’m pretty sure they know it. They had a violinist on stage and I guess that’s part of the impression, but what was psych bliss in their sound has evaporated and left behind a much darker exploratory ambience. Don’t let me get all critic, because I’m pretty sure that’s not in the spirit of the thing, but the turn in their sound on their last record isn’t over yet.

Blackwater Holylight (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I left there to get back to Dawg House — the security know me here now and make fun of me because I keep coming and going — and Duel were still on, so I got to watch more of their set as well as their Warriors of the World-worthy big rock finish, which, again, duh.

Stinking Lizaveta as revival music. I don’t know how many people were there to see them because I didn’t turn around but holy crap can that band play. They’re the heavy jazz of everything. Absolutely on fire, yesterday and today, and and suited to the kind of box effect of the Dawg House stage in a way not everyone has been. Interesting to think of both them and Blood Incantation as restorative in a way, but they have been, as kind of mirror set up to the anxiousness, pushing ahead if not breaking through. I don’t know. I had a couple decent conversations today with people who I have no idea why they’d want to talk to me. Amy Johnson brought me presents. Stinking Lizaveta played. Clearly things for a moment were their most perfect selves.


I’ve been trying to avoid reviewing. Did you notice? Did you notice me failing? Doesn’t that strike you as kind of sad? Or maybe it’s what I’m here for? A not-really-all-that-druggy journey of self-discovery in the desert? Could even I be so mild and cliché? I mean, yeah, probably. Easily. Twice today, and that’s my review of the review. Shit sandwich.

Later, getting late

Ruby the Hatchet could’ve played any stage of this festival. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen them all at this point. And they’d have killed everywhere they went. Just a rock band locked in, that’s all. Seems to happen a lot today.

Ruby the Hatchet (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I hung around for a few songs, lack of water had me feeling kind of stuck; I’d lost my bottle and had yet to replace it. This would be rectified in due time, but I was in no rush whatsoever to leave Ruby the Hatchet’s set, some new, some old, delivered by a band in a continuing process of finding their sound but with veteran confidence and professionalism. It still feels like shows are a thing that used to happen, but last time I saw Ruby the Hatchet was 2019, and on the warped scale of time the last few years have wrought, that’s not all that long ago. It doesn’t make any fucking sense.

Was talking with a friend today (not namedropping) about our children, about trying to raise them to be aware of the world around them, their place in it, the changing planet and all of these generally awful things that human beings have done and continue to do to this world in which right now we’re complicit right here every day all the time, and while I agreed with him that this was the proper course of bringing up a human being to not be a complete tool, there was also a part of me that would be okay if my kid skipped the baggage that seems to come tacked onto consciousness of self, floated through life unconcerned. The trouble is you can’t do it. How’s the kid gonna know who the fascists are if he doesn’t know it used to snow in December? These things are all interconnected, and I want little more out of parenting than to not raise a fucking fascist.


But thinking about time up and down had me in a good frame of mind for Ruby the Hatchet, improbably. I walked past Psychlona on my way to get another hamburger salad — no pickle, no onion, no cherry tomatoes — and they were right on, had shenanigans afoot in front of the stage. Spaceface played after them in the same spot and were on when I got back from dinner. I knew nothing about them but sat and watched about half their set ahead of Church of the Cosmic Skull and parts reminded me of spacier, young Ween, but it was the melodies that took me. They had a multicolored parachute out the crowd was playing with when I rolled in, people came and went, dancing all the while. They pre-closed with a cover of “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate, and they were pretty loyal to the original, which is a song I happen to know fairly well because that’s just who I am. Didn’t see that one coming.

Dinner was eaten, by the way, sitting in a giant egg at the breakfast place and that was a thing I didn’t expect to say when I signed on for this trip. I take back whatever I said before, eating a sans-onion salad in a cracked-egg chair is exactly the kind of adventure I would choose. Have chosen.

Church of the Cosmic Skull have a new record out. I haven’t reviewed it yet, but I will, hopefully before the adjacent-project Dystopian Future Movies put out their next album and I’m even further behind. I’d say it was guilt that kept me watching them in Famous Foods for the entirety of their set, but really it was just another extension of being where I needed to be. The tradeoff was missing Mondo Drag, who are fantastic, but Church of the Cosmic Skull got going late anyway owing to persistent technical issues and what seemed to be a general lack of mics. And when you’re a seven-piece band and just about everybody sings, that really makes a difference.

Church of the Cosmic Skull (Photo by JJ Koczan)

They got it going though. All was well. Couple hiccups, some feedback, but whatever. Even with all that, the room was on their side from before they even started playing, myself included, and once they were able to dig in, it was a perfect end to my night. They played “Everybody’s Going to Die” and the only thing that kept me from singing along was I was so choked up. They didn’t close with that, but they could have. “Evil in Your Eye” did just fine though. I eventually wound up in back with a couple of the Kings Destroy guys — not Aaron, who made his feelings known earlier in the photo above — and that brought the day to reasonable bit of full circle. At least I knew I’d been on the right path.

Tomorrow is the last day of the festival. I know that means I’ll spend at least half of it thinking about getting to the airport on Monday, because that’s my kind of neurotic, but like I’ve been rolling without a real, written-out plan, I’m gonna do my best to live in Psycho Sunday while it’s happening, because airlines permitting I’m going to be back in New Jersey on Monday evening and I’m going to have to stand under that newly painted kitchen ceiling and hold my head up to look at it. I feel like that might be easier if I’ve actually let myself have the good time I came here to have. Crazy, I know.

Thanks for reading.

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Desertfest Belgium 2021 Announces Motorpsycho to Headline & More; Second Installment Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 1st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

desertfest belgium 2021 banner

Not only something happening again that’s happened before, but also something new! Desertfest Belgium, with all due respect to the delta variant and yet-unforeseen circumstances, will be the first post-pandemic installment of Desertfest to take place, and in addition to announcing the beginnings of its lineup with Motorpsycho, Wolves in the Throne Room, Dool, Blood Incantation and Stygian Bough, they’ve also added a second city. A Ghent date will follow for the first time the three-day event in Antwerp. Desertfest Antwerp is Oct. 15-17, and Desertfest Ghent is Oct. 30. Belgian double-shot, and apparently it’ll be an ongoing thing. Pretty frickin’ cool.

Of course, there’s no guarantee it’s going to happen, but there’s no guarantee it’s not going to happen either, and that’s saying something at this point.

Tickets are available now and there’s more lineup announcements to come. This went to my spam folder for some reason, but rest assured I’ll be looking to sort out any technical kinks in the functioning of the PR wire, rerouting primary EPS conduits through the secondary couplings and so on.


desertfest belgium 2021 poster


Tickets for Antwerp & Ghent are now available!

We’re back… bigger and better than ever.

Here’s the news you were waiting to hear: We will have a Desertfest Belgium edition at Trix Antwerpen on 15-16-17 October 2021.

BUT THERE’S MORE! We are adding a new festival edition in another esteemed Belgian club venue: Kunstencentrum Vooruit in Ghent. For this year, this event will be limited to one evening on 30/10, but you can expect a full-blown second festival weekend from 2022 onwards. Most of the lineup will be shared, but of course each venue will bring its own personal touch. We are most hyped for this new chapter in the Belgian DF saga!

As of 2pm CET today, the ticket booths for both our Antwerp & Ghent events are active. Just the sweet memories of past Desertfests should be enough to get your ass over there as we speak, but of course you’re also wondering what we have in store for you.

We have a few first names to share, and all of these will perform on both editions, Antwerp as well as Ghent. First up, we finally have the legendary MOTORPSYCHO headlining Desertfest! They definitely need no further introduction, so let’s move on to a killer two-punch of extreme metal favorites: WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM and BLOOD INCANTATION will bring their progressive take on blackened metal to the DF stage this year. On the slow end of the extreme spectrum, we have STYGIAN BOUGH, the moody folk dirge collab between BELL WITCH and AERIAL RUIN. And finally, from Holland we welcome DOOL and their unique blend of heavy psychedelia and gothic vibes.

Get your tickets here:

DESERTFEST ANTWERP (15-17/10): €87,50 ALL-IN (or 2020 VOUCHER):
DESERTFEST GHENT (30/10): €52,00 ALL-IN:

Don’t forget to use your voucher if you have it!

If you have any questions about the tickets, get in touch:

Of course, due to COVID still not entirely beaten we have a few restrictions and uncertainties to take into account. The lineup will be somewhat reduced, and we’ll probably have a few more local acts than usual. Still, we’re doing our best to make it worth your while, and we’re confident that you will all bring that precious Desertfest vibe that makes our festival the best in town, anytime and anywhere.

We hope this first batch of names gets you all hot and bothered for what’s to come – spread the word and see y’all in October!

Motorpsycho, “Little Lucid Moments” live June 12, 2021

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