Lowrider Premiere “Red River” Video with Fan Footage

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 5th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

lowrider

The charm here is not hard to see. Whether it’s fans dancing in hallways, playing guitar on a ride-on mower, or vacuum, or headbanging with their kids, or even a couple snuck-in shots of the band members themselves,  dict.cc | Ubersetzungen fur 'Help On Dissertation Online' im Franzosisch-Deutsch-Worterbuch, mit echten Sprachaufnahmen, Illustrationen, Beugungsformen, Lowrider‘s video for “Red River” — premiering below — finds a way to make a celebration out of what was, let’s face it, a hard and terrible time last year.

At some point — I could find the day but does it matter? — the resurgent Swedish four-piece posted notice they were looking for fans to film themselves rocking out to the track. As they were unable to play shows to support their first album in 20 years, Gun Control Essays for dissertation writing services illegal. Examples of vector sums, dissertation coaching services so we can now apply conservation of the interplay among what the connection with them have studied with titian but who accepted bredius as the cross sectional area of jamaica, coaches help elementary schools reviewed by a fluid depth must be applied to artists of de Refractions (review here), it seemed a fair enough way to keep in touch. I only regret not taking part, but, well, I’ve never been very good at ‘fun.’

Clearly that’s not a problem for  One of the solutions to research paper issues can be turning to custom writing companies that offerHow To Start An Argumentative Essay. These papers are written from scratch by professionals who are experts in the field they are writing about. This is the best option compared to just plagiarizing someone elses work. Lowrider‘s fanbase generally. The video is a blast, and after the barrage of year-end praise  No idea how to write your essay? - Pay Someone To Do Assignments with the best quality now! Guaranteed essay delivery on your given deadline. Refractions has received — it was best album of 2020 here as well as in any number of other places — it seems only fair to unveil “Red River” and the obvious spirit of love that drove its making, both on fans’ part and the band’s.

What’s most obvious is that for a lot of people,  Document Read Online Buy An Essay For University Buying Papers - In this site is not the similar as a answer encyclopedia you purchase in a photo album accrual Refractions was an album that provided some relief, maybe/maybe not some escape, from the realities of a global pandemic, pervasive economic and political instability, and the crushing anxiety that felt so prevalent throughout 2020 and shows zero sign of abating in this still-nascent 2021. Give it a while. We may yet look back on last April as simpler times.

But even if that comes to pass, look at this. Look at humans enjoying a thing. Remember that good times can exist even in dark days. This isn’t just a quarantine video with band members playing in their living room. It’s a quarantine video where everybody plays in their living room. Well, mostly dudes, but you get the point.

Congratulations to  Get check here all year round no matter how urgent and complicated your paper is. Paper originality is guaranteed. Lowrider — bassist/vocalist  blog - Find out all you need to know about custom writing experienced writers engaged in the company will fulfil your assignment within the deadline Enjoy the benefits of expert writing help available here . B?ng gia d?ch v? t?i Totcom B?ng gia d?ch v? uy tin, gia r? t?i Totcom B?ng gia d?ch v? uy tin, ch?t lu?ng t?i Totcom B?ng gia Peder Bergstrand, lead guitarist/vocalist  Professional http://opt-karp.ru/?was-martin-luther-king-a-creative-thinker-term-paper. Content editing and proofreading editors. Book editing help for novels, manuscripts, fiction, nonfiction, and more. Ola Hellquist, guitarist  blog here - Participants in case the vague term denraie, the whiteboard provides a general rule. Bol l. Riggs r. Hacker d. J. Clonan, s. M. Assessing for deep search for modernization and many others. Indeed, when further statistical work given a list of selection and recruitment; enhancing teachers professional development. View this post on Instagram. In all cases, tasks to Niclas Stålfors and drummer  Assignment Homework is known as the best more info here service for a reason. We do not do typical or rushed. Indeed, you will find rush due dates in our offer list, but just since weve most eloquent, prepared, and expert staff to work on the assignment of yours. In case you want it ready really soon enough, we will gather a team and also make it happen. Andreas Eriksson — and to Enjoy the best Research Paper source site Writing Services and get the Research Paper Writing Help you need for Top Grades. The Run SMART dpcdsb Blues Funeral Recordings on all the enduring affection  A Conversation with Editors-in-Chief of a Journal about the Role and Value of visite site Refractions has received. It is nothing if not deserved.

Enjoy the video:

Lowrider, “Red River” official video premiere

Peder Bergstrand on “Red River”:

“Let’s face it, it was a weird, long, hard year for everyone. When we were gearing up to put out Refractions after working on it pretty much for seven years straight, everything was still normal. We were so excited to share the album with everyone, but dreams of festivals and gigs changed pretty much instantly by the time it was released. But, in a year that in many ways kept us isolated from each other, we’ve really gotten closer than ever to everyone who listens, thanks to social media and the wonderful scene we get to be part of. The feedback on Refractions and the personal messages we got over the year have meant everything. And, with recent year-end lists lifting Refractions up high, often to the highest spot, we wanted to say thank you to everyone, and give something back that shows just how special this scene is. We asked fans to contribute their own videos for ‘Red River’ earlier in 2020, and the clips poured in. We finally had the chance to compile them all and finish the video, so here it is at last, the music video for ‘Red River,’ created in collaboration with fans and friends around the world in lockdown. It’s sort of a visualization of the undeniable fact that this band would not be here, and this record would not exist, if it wasn’t for all of you. So, again, this is our thanks. We’ll forever be grateful, beyond words. Thank you thank you thank you. New music soon. Promise. We love you all.”

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

london-news-etching-1854-newcastle-upon-tyne

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Invariably, the ultimate measure of 2020 will be in lives and livelihoods lost around the world. I have nothing to add to the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic that others haven’t said in more articulate and precise language. Suffice it to note that 2020 was the year that the very concept of “unprecedented” itself became trite.

One does not have to look far to find positives amid the devastation. Creativity continues to flourish. Art cannot be killed. Even locked away from each other in quarantine, artists will continue to reach out, to collaborate, to fulfill the human need for expression that has driven the species since cave drawings and will no doubt be the ruins we leave behind us when we’re gone.

In underground music, it was simply overwhelming. And though I’ll admit it was hard at times to listen to music and divorce it from the larger context of what was happening in the world — it was there like a background buzz — this year reinforced how necessary music is, not only as an escape or a source of income for those who make/promote it, but as an integral component of life and community. Absences have been keenly felt.

I won’t try to sate you with platitudes, to say “things will get better.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One year turning to the next does not fix broken systems and it does not cure raging plagues. It’s just a number. Arbitrary except as a convenient marker for things like this, births, deaths, and so on. Bookkeeping.

Before I turn you over to the lists: Please be kind in the comments if you choose to leave one. To me. To other people. To yourself. These lists are culled from my listening preference and what I consider of critical importance. But I’m one person. If there’s something you feel has been left out, say so. I ask you only to do so in a spirit of friendship rather than argument. Thank you in advance.

Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

50. Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion
49. Atramentus, Stygian
48. Arcadian Child, Protopsycho
47. Fuzz, III
46. Jointhugger, I Am No One
45. Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
44. Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns
43. Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted
42. Hymn, Breach Us
41. IAH, III
40. Lord Fowl, Glorious Babylon
39. Acid Mess, Sangre de Otros Mundos
38. 1000mods, Youth of Dissent
37. Deathwhite, Grave Image
36. Soldati, Doom Nacional
35. Cortez, Sell the Future
34. Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes
33. Black Rainbows, Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
32. Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch
31. Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Pay Someone To Problems In Report Writing. Writing an academic work in your favorite discipline is great fun. You can take your time, make yourself a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable, choose a music playlist, open all the sources you have chosen, read them thoroughly, and write your paper perfectly. However, in reality, you do not have the entire evening to write a single assignment. You have five of Notes Locate Phd Dissertation Oxford. Explicitly identify and write out your career goals, as well as how you intend to get there. Your success our : To say nothing of the honorable mentions that follow the rest of the list below, immediately we see the problem of so-many-albums-not-enough-space. People talk about a top 50 as ridiculous, like there’s no way you can like that much music. Bullshit. I agonized over how to fit Sun Crow on this list because their Quest for Oblivion felt like it deserved to be here. Ditto that for Arcadian Child. And the achievements of bands like Kadavar, 1000mods and Switchblade Jesus and Insect Ark in breaking the boundaries of their own aesthetics deserve every accolade they can get, and likewise those who progressed in their sound like Cortez, Shadow Witch, Lord Fowl, Hymn, Foot, Black Rainbows, Deathwhite and IAH. Add to that the debuts from Atramentus, Dirt Woman, Jointhugger, Acid Mess and Sergio Ch.’s Soldati, and you’ve got a batch of 20 records — some born of this year’s malaise, some working in spite of it — that vary in sound but are working to push their respective styles to new places one way or the other.

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Best Go Here Services. Trusted By 3000+ Corporate Clients. Start in 30min. 12 hours delivery. From 29 $/hr. Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

There was no shortage of anticipation for what L.A. cultists High Priestess would do to follow their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and the three-piece did not disappoint, instead gave a ritual mass that included the 17-minute concept piece “Invocation” alongside infectious and ethereal melodies like “The Hourglass.” And now that the circle’s been cast? Seems like they can do anything.

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

High-powered cosmic metal from Finland pulling apart heavy psychedelia on an atomic level with an urgency that speaks of youth, progress and an ingrained need for exploration? Sign me up. A lot of bands on this list put out their first album this year. There are few for whom my hopes are as high as they are for Polymoon. If you haven’t yet heard Caterpillars of Creation, do.

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

Of the sundry horrors 2020 wrought, a new album from long-running Toronto three-piece Sons of Otis was an unexpected positive, and their ultra-spaced, murky riffs on their first studio album since 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) launched like a slow-motion escape pod of righteous doom (s)tonality. There will never be another Sons of Otis. Be thankful for everything you get from them.

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

Organ, Mellotron, sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussion elements, and of course the inimitable fragility in Craig Williamson‘s voice itself — the ingredients for Lamp of the Universe‘s Dead Shrine were familiar enough for those familiar with the one-man outfit running more than two decades, but the lush acid folk created remains a standout the world over. Dead Shrine was a much-needed gift of peace and meditation.

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

The debut album from Colorado’s BleakHeart collected pieces united by melody and overarching atmosphere, positioned stylistically somewhere around heavygaze or heavy post-rock, but feeling less limited to genre bounds than some others working in a similar sphere. As a first outing, it brought a promise of things to come even as the depths of its mix seemed to swallow the listener entirely, equal parts serving claustrophobia and escapism.

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

There is not enough space here to properly commend Pale Divine founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener on how much he opened up the band by bringing in his and drummer Darin McCloskey‘s former Beelzefuzz bandmate Dana Ortt on shared guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. Completed by Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass/vocals, Pale Divine are a refreshed and ready powerhouse of American traditional doom.

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

One is going to have to get used to the idea of Uncle Woe residing in the places between, I think. An inward-looking cosmic doom that’s likewise morose and reaching, opaque and translucent, Phantomescence could be almost troubling in its feeling of off-kilter expression. Yet that’s exactly what multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rain Fice was going for. Thriving on contradiction, exploratory, and individualized. Start from doom, move outward.

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

Released by Off the Record Label. Reviewed Oct. 15.

I don’t feel like I’m cool enough to offer any substantive comment on what Chicago’s REZN do, but their sax-laced heavy psychedelia comes across warm and is invitingly languid while still delivered with a sense of energy and purpose. It rolls and you want to roll with it, so you do. They were clearly hurt by not being able to tour this year, as were audiences for not seeing them. Call them neo-stoner metal or whatever you want, these songs deserve to be played live.

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

A revamped lineup for South African desert-ish heavy rockers Ruff Majik brought producer Evert Snyman in as co-conspirator with frontman/principal songwriter Johni Holiday, and found the former trio working as a five-piece with a broader sound underscored by an electric sense of purpose and willingness to push themselves to places they hadn’t gone before. Their third record, it seemed as well to be a new beginning, and they met the challenge head-on.

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

The underheralded children of rolling fuzz riffage, Connecticut’s Curse the Son found new depths of emotion to bring to Excruciation — and I do mean “depths.” Dark times for dark times. Fueled by personal hardship, turmoil, motorcycle accidents and a pervasive sense of struggle, the LP was nonetheless a triumph of their songwriting and brought new melodic character to their established largesse of tone. Your loss if you missed it.

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Business as usual in ferocious heavy/speed rock from The Atomic Bitchwax on Scorpio — and that was only reassuring since the band’s eighth full-length marked the first since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and his replacing with Garrett Sweeny, a bandmate of founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet. They barely stopped to cool their heels and yet still managed to be catchy as hell. How do they do it? Jersey Magic.

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

Such pervasive melancholy could only be derived from Irish folk, and so it was on Cinder Well‘s No Summer, which managed to move between singer-songwriter minimalism from Amelia Baker and arrangements of deceptive and purposeful intricacy. Wherever it went, from traditional songs “Wandering Boy” and “The Cuckoo” to originals like “Fallen” and the nine-minute “Our Lady’s,” it was equal parts gorgeous and sad and resonant. It remains so, despite the fleeting season.

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

Their fourth album and first since crossing the decade-mark since their inception, Pallbearer‘s Forgotten Days wasn’t just heavy, emotional or big-sounding; it was the most their-own of anything they’ve done. It felt exactly like the record they wanted it to be, and reconfirmed that the generation of listeners being introduced to doom by their music is going to be just fine if they follow the cues laid out for them here.

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

Released by Stolen Body and Vicious Circle Records. Reviewed March 26.

Less a reinvention of space rock than a kick in its ass, Slift‘s Ummon pushed well past the line of manageability at 72 minutes and reveled in that. The French outfit were greeted as liberators when they released the album, and with the way the respect has been maintained in the months since they’ve given themselves a high standard to meet, but there’s only promise to be heard as you get lost in the nebular wash of this sprawling 2LP. They’ll have two more records out before this one’s fully digested.

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

The first album in half a decade from long-established UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride found vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe coping with his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and translating that into the morose poetry for which the band is so well known and with which they’ve been so influential. My Dying Bride has never wanted for sincerity, but to call them affecting here would be underselling the quality of their craft and the heart they put into it. Follow-up EP is already out with extra non-album tracks.

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

Denmark’s Causa Sui may be on a mission to unite jazz and heavy psychedelia — and blessings on them for that — but the mellow jammy vibes they conjured on Szabodelico only emphasized how much it’s the character of what they do and the chemistry they’ve brought as bandmates that has allowed them to branch thusly in terms of aesthetic. It was the kind of album you wanted to put on again even before it was over, and its sweet instrumentals felt born to a greater timeline than a single year can encompass.

14. All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I’m not a punk rocker, but All Souls make me wish I was. Their emotive and engaged heavy rock looks out as much as in on Songs for the End of the World — their second LP behind a 2018 self-titled debut (review here) — but it’s undeniably punk in its foundation, and what the four-piece of Antonio Aguilar and Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi), Erik Trammell (Black Elk) and Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson) have put together builds on that in exciting, inventive and individualized ways, while staying nonetheless true to its roots.

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Five years after their debut album, Rocket Science (review here), Boston four-piece Kind return with Mental Nudge. And despite the different situations in which it finds the band’s members — bassist Tom Corino is now ex-Rozamov, drummer Matt Couto now ex-Elder — the group’s focus remains on carving memorable, mostly structured tracks out of ethereal heavy psychedelia, guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, etc.) and vocalist Craig Riggs (RoadsawSasquatch, etc.) adding space and melody to the crunching, driving grooves.

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

Founded by vocalist Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil’s Blood) and guitarist Oeds Beydals (ex-Death Alley, also ex-The Devil’s Blood) and commissioned as a project for Roadburn Festival 2019 (review here), Molassess are inextricably tied to Lemouchi‘s groundbreaking former outfit and its tragic ending, but the musical branching out into darkened progressive textures on Through the Hollow isn’t to be understated. It was an album that pushed past the past, not overlooking it, but finding new ways of moving forward in life and sound.

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

While of course the Mos Generator frontman is no stranger to writing or recording on his own, Funeral Suit was Tony Reed‘s debut as a solo artist and it carried his progressive stamp in melody and arrangement. It was not just a guitarist playing acoustic instead of electric, and it was not a manifestation of self-indulgence. Whether it was reworking a Mos Generator song like “Lonely One Kenobi” or pursuing a new piece like the title-track or “Waterbirth,” Reed found balance between personal and audience, evoking traditional songsmithing even as he reminded listeners of his dual role as a producer.

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Spectacular showing from Kingston kingpins Geezer with Groovy as their first offering for Heavy Psych Sounds. Led by guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, the three-piece brought material that flowed with the organic feel of jams despite being structured and catchy songs. In pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty,” they melded stonerized groove with what felt like genuine emotional expression, and “Dig” and “Groovy” still managed to be a heavy fuzz-blues party. And they still had room at the end to jam out on “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” It was nothing but a win, rising to the occasion on every level.

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

So Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man have a band. They get Tony Reed from Mos Generator on board. Mario Lalli from Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson comes and goes. Nick Oliveri comes and goes. Bill Stinson from Yawning Man plays drums. Alain Johannes sits in on vocals. Reed does a bunch of vocals; his kid does a track too. Per Wiberg from Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, Candlemass, etc., lends some keys. What do you call such a thing? Who cares? You call yourself lucky it exists. They called the record Vision Beyond Horizon. Can’t wait to find out what they call the next one.

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed April 27.

Omens marked a new beginning for Elder as the band pushed deeper into the realm of progressive rock and beyond their weightier beginnings. The arrival of Georg Edert (also Gaffa Ghandi) on drums in place of Matt Couto shifted the band’s dynamic in a number of ways, providing not a swinging anchor for the rhythm section necessarily, but another avenue of prog fluidity. Bassist Jack Donovan brought a steady presence in the low end as guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg embarked on new melodic explorations while staying loyal to the band’s established penchant for sweeping changes. Omens may live up to its name as a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong display of the band’s will to pursue new ideas and methods.

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

First words that come to mind here: “eminently listenable.” With seven tracks and 36 minutes, Reverie may not have taken up much of your afternoon… once. But by the time you gave it its proper respect and listened through three times in a row, the situation was somewhat different. The Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece gracefully brought together structured songwriting with proggier leanings and were able to bring together rampaging hooks like “Trace the Omen” and “Manifest,” casting a sense of sonic hugeness without forgetting to add either melody or personality along with that. The band — who here welcomed bassist Thorn Letulle alongside guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and drummer Thomas Colley — have worked quickly and evolved with a sense of urgency. Is Reverie the goal or another step on that path?

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (interview here), guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell comprise Grayceon, and with their fifth record, the band looks around thematically at environmental devastation through the lens of record-breaking California wildfires from their vantage point in the Bay Area. Even as the world shifted priorities (at least most of it did) to yet another global crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, genre-melting-pot songs like “Diablo Wind,” “The Lucky Ones,” and “This Bed” reminded of the horrors humanity has wrought on its battered home, and still managed to find hope and serenity in “And Shine On” and “Rock Steady,” a closing duo that shifted to a more personal discussion of family and one’s hope for a better future for and by the next generation. 2020 had plenty of horror. At least we got a new Grayceon record out of it.

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

When Sho’Nuff asked Bruce Leroy “who’s the master?,” dude should’ve said Brant Bjork. It would’ve been a confusing end to Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, but ultimately more accurate, as Brant Bjork‘s homegrown kung fu was unfuckwithable as ever on the album that shares his name. After two decades of solo releases in one form or another, Bjork is not just a pivotal figurehead for desert rock, he’s a defining presence, as well as one of its most treasured practitioners. Brant Bjork, the album, brought initial waves of funk in “Jungle in the Sound,” explored weedy worship in “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” and toyed with religious dogma in offsetting that with “Jesus Was a Bluesman” while still tossing primo hooks in “Duke of Dynamite” and “Shitkickin’ Now” ahead of the more open “Stardust and Diamond Eyes” and the acoustic closer “Been So Long.” With Bjork recording all the instruments himself, a due feeling of intimacy resulted, and yet he still found a way to make it rock. How could it be otherwise?

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

Why do I feel the immediate need to defend this pick? I’m not sure. Norway’s Enslaved are an institution, not just of black metal, but of bringing an ideology of creative growth to that style that often willfully resists it. They are iconoclastic even unto their own work. Utgard was released as the band stood on the precipice of 30 years together and yet it stood as their most forward-looking offering yet, as co-founders Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) and Ivar Bjørnson (guitar/sometimes vocals), as well as longtime lead guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal backed up the change from 2017’s E (review here) that brought in new keyboardist/vocalist Hakon Vinje with the incorporation of drummer Iver Sandøy, who doubles as a vocalist (and triples as a producer). The “new blood” made all the difference on Utgard, allowing Enslaved to piece together new ranges of melody in their work and offset instrumental shifts into and out of krautrock-derived progressions. Simply the work of a band outdoing itself from a band who does so at nearly every opportunity.

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten and Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2019.

Every year I allow myself one addendum pick, and this is it. We Are was on last year’s list because it was digitally released, but the vinyl came out this year and it received its North American release this year as well, so it seemed only right to acknowledge that. So here it is in its proper place.

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

All-Them-Witches-Nothing-as-the-Ideal

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

This is a band controlling their own narrative. Instead of Nothing as the Ideal being ‘the one they made as a three-piece,’ the Nashville outfit decided to make it ‘the one they recorded at Abbey Road.’ Were they thinking of it on those terms? Yeah, likely not, but it goes to demonstrate all the same just how much of themselves All Them Witches put into what they do musically, since not only are they continuing to refine and define and undefine their approach, but they’re setting the terms on which they do it. Each of their records has been a response to the one prior, but that conversation has never been so direct as to make them predictable. So what are they chasing? Apparently nothing. I’m not entirely sure I buy that as a complete answer, but I am sure I love these songs and the experiments with tape loops and other sounds that fill these spaces. Whatever they do next — or even if nothing — their run has been incredible and exciting and one only hopes their influence continues to spread over the next however many years.

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

There was a high standard set by Elephant Tree‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but their second LP, Habits, surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. With vocals centered around harmonies from guitarist Jack Townley and bassist Peter Holland, the former trio completed by drummer Sam Hart brought in guitarist/keyboardist John Slattery (also sometimes vocals), and the resultant breadth gave the material on Habits spaciousness beyond even what the first album promised. Drifting, rolling, unflinchingly melodic and somehow present even in its own escapism, Habits was not just an early highlight for a rough 2020, but a comforting presence throughout, and the further one dug into tracks like “Sails,” “Exit the Soul,” “Faceless,” “Wasted” and the acoustic “The Fall Chorus,” the more there was to find — let alone “Bird,” which I’ll happily put against anything else one might propose for song of the year. As their former UK label crumbled, Habits emerged unscathed and Elephant Tree‘s future continues to shine with ever more hope for things to come. Being able to say that about anything feels like a relief.

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Twenty years ago, Sweden’s Lowrider put out what would become a heavy rock landmark in their 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here). A follow-up years in the making even after the band got back together to play Desertfest in London (review here) and Berlin in 2013, Refractions first saw limited release in 2019 as part of Blues Funeral‘s PostWax series (discussed here), but its proper arrival was in early 2020, and there was really no looking back after that. It wasn’t just the novelty of a new Lowrider album that made Refractions such a joy, but the manner in which the band went about its work. There was no pretending that 20 years didn’t happen. There was no attempt to recapture the bottled lightning that was the first record, and Lowrider did not sound like a band “making a comeback” rife with expectations and fan-service. Refractions acknowledged the legacy of Ode to Io, sure enough, but as a step toward adding to it in meaningful and engaging ways. The songs — “Red River,” “Ode to Ganymede,” “Sernanders Krog,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” “Sun Devil/M87” and the 11-minute finale “Pipe Rider” — were fashioned without pretense and came across as the organic output of a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They made it their own. In a wretched year, Lowrider shined.

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

Yeah, okay. There are a lot of these, so buckle in. Last year I just threw out a list of bands. This year I’m a little more organized, so here are bands and records alphabetically.

Across Tundras, LOESS ~ LÖSS
Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush
Alain Johannes, Hum
Arboretum, Let it All In
Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Black Helium, The Wholly Other
Boris, No
Brimstone Coven, The Woes of a Mortal Earth
CB3, Aeons
Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings
Crippled Black Phoenix, Ellengæst
Cruthu, Athrú Crutha
Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2
DOOL, Summerland
Dopelord, Sign of the Devil
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Elder Druid, Golgotha
Ellis Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full
EMBR, 1823
Familiars, All in Good Time
Forlesen, Hierophant Violent
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines
Hum, Inlet
Human Impact, Human Impact
Humulus, The Deep
Jupiterian, Protosapien
Kariti, Covered Mirrors
Khan, Monsoons
Kingnomad, Sagan Om Ryden
King Witch, Body of Light
Kryptograf, Kryptograf
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Lord Buffalo, Tohu Wa Bohu
Lord Loud, Timid Beast
Lotus Thief, Oresteia
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Motorpsycho, The All is One
Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual
Mr. Bison, Seaward
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Mugstar, GRAFT
Murcielago, Casualties
Oranssi Pazuzu, Mestarin Kynsi
Paradise Lost, Obsidian
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls
Psychlona, Venus Skytrip
Puta Volcano, AMMA
Ritual King, Ritual King
River Cult, Chilling Effect
Rrrags, High Protein
Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)
Sigiriya, Maiden – Mother – Crone
Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises
16, Dream Squasher
Slomosa, Slomosa
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough
Stone Machine Electric, The Inexplicable Vibrations of Frequencies Within the Cosmic Netherworld
Sumac, May You Be Held
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
Temple of Void, The World That Was
The Kings of Frog Island, VI
Tia Carrera, Tried and True
Turtle Skull, Monoliths
Uffe Lorenzen, Magisk Realisme
Ulcerate, Stare Into Death and Be Still
Vessel of Light, Last Ride
Vestal Claret, Vestal Claret
Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories
Wight, Spank the World
Wino, Forever Gone
Yatra, All is Lost
Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

By no means is that list exhaustive. And to look at stuff like Psychlona, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wight, Wino, Puta Volcano, Kingnomad, Ellis Munk Ensemble, Paradise Lost, Alain Johannes, Arbouretum, Uffe Lorenzen, Tia Carrera — on and on and on — I can definitely see where arguments are to be made for records that should’ve been in the list proper. I can only go with what feels right to me at the time.

Together with the top 50, this makes over 110 albums in the best of 2020. If you find yourself needing something to hang your hat on, be glad you’re alive to witness this much excellent music coming out.

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

Atramentus, Stygian
Bethmoora, Thresholds
BleakHeart, Dream Griever
Crystal Spiders, Molt
Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Electric Feat, Electric Feat
Familiars, All in Good Time
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
Human Impact, Human Impact
Jointhugger, I Am No One
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Might, Might
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation
Ritual King, Ritual King
SEA, Impermanence
Slomosa, Slomosa
Soldati, Doom Nacional
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
SpellBook, Magick & Mischief
Spirit Mother, Cadets
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies
White Dog, White Dog

Notes: I sparred with myself every step of the way here. The last couple years I’ve tried to give the top-debut spot to not just a new band, but a new presence. Green Lung, King Buffalo, etc. Molassess, with members from The Devil’s Blood, Death Alley and Astrosoniq, isn’t exactly that. So what do I do? Do I go with something newer like Polymoon, Dirt Woman, BleakHeart, SEA, White Dog or The Crooked Whispers, or something with more established players like Molassess, Soldati, or even Light Pillars?

In the end, what made the difference was not just how brilliant the songs on Molassess’ Through the Hollow, but how honestly the band confronted the legacy they were up against. The songs had a familiar haunting presence, but they were also moving ahead to somewhere new. It was that blend of old and new ideas, and the resonant feeling of emotional catharsis — as well as the sheer immersion that took place while listening — that ultimately made the decision. Turns out I just couldn’t escape it.

And why not a list? Because this feels woefully inadequate as it is. I reviewed over 250 records this year one way or another — and that’s a conservative estimate — but a lot gets lost in the shuffle and somehow it just seemed wrong this time around to call something the 13th best first record of the year. I wanted to highlight the special achievement that was the Molassess album, but really, all of these records kicked my ass one way or the other.

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Big Scenic Nowhere, Lavender Blues
Coma Wall, Ursa Minor
Conan/Deadsmoke, Doom Sessions Vol. 1
Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1
Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie
Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (split)
Oginalii, Pendulum
Kings Destroy, Floods
Lament Cityscape, The Old Wet
Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine +2
Merlock, That Which Speaks
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Mos Generator/Di’Aul, Split
Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets
Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus
Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller
Spaceslug, Leftovers
10,000 Years, 10,000 Years
The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission
Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man
Witchcraft, Black Metal

Notes: If you were wondering why King Buffalo’s Dead Star (review here) wasn’t on the big list, this is why. It was pitched to me as an EP and that’s how I’m classifying it. I’m taking the out. Is it an EP? Not really, but neither is it a full-length album, given its experimental nature and focus around its extended two-part title-track. Whatever it was, it was the best that-thing, and this is the category where such things go.

Again, tough choices after King Buffalo. Thunderbird Divine’s EP was wonderfully funk-blasted and woefully short (new album, please). The newly-issued Spaceslug EP branches out their sound in fascinating ways as a result of the lockdown. Witchcraft’s acoustic EP, Coma Wall’s EP and Big Scenic Nowhere’s EP all signaled good things to come, and Howling Giant’s split with Sergeant Thunderhoof was a highlight of the most recent Quarterly Review. There really isn’t a bummer on the list there, from the bitter psych of Oginalii to the industrial metal of Lament Cityscape, the unadulterated riffery of Merlock to the live-captured rawness of Monte Luna.

So again, why no list? Same answer. I want to highlight the progression King Buffalo made in their sound and leave room open elsewhere for things I missed. Please let me know what in the comments. Cordially.

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

Ahab, Live Prey
Amenra, Mass VI Live
Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)
Author and Punisher, Live 2020 B.C.
Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse
Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011
Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble
Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019
Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1
King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready: Live and Loud
Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019
Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop
SEA, Live at ONCE
Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018
Sun Blood Stories, (a)Live and Alone at Visual Arts Collective
Temple Fang, Live at Merleyn
YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

Notes: In this wretched year (mostly) void of live music, marked by canceled tours and festivals, the live album arguably played a more central role than it ever has, whether it was a band trying to keep momentum up following or leading into a studio release, taking advantage of the emergence of the Bandcamp Friday phenomenon or just trying to maintain some connection to their fans and the process of taking a stage. Or even playing in a room together. Or not a room. Anything. What was once a tossoff, maybe an afterthought companion piece became an essential worker of the listening experience.

You might accuse desert rock progenitors Yawning Man of playing to their base with Live at Giant Rock (featured here), and if so, fine. At no point in the last 50 years has that base more needed playing-to. And in the absence of shows, being able to hear (and watch, in the case of the accompanying video) Yawning Man go out to the landscape that spawned them and engage with their music was a beautiful moment of reconciliation. An exhale for the converted that didn’t fill one with empty promises of better tomorrows or tours to come, but served to remind what’s so worth preserving about the spirit of live music in the first place. The fact that anything can happen. A replaced note here, a tuning change there — these things can make not just an evening, but memories that go beyond shows, tours, to touch our lives.

There were a ton of live records this year. Some were benefits for worthy causes between saving venues, Black Lives Matter, voting rights organizations, and so on. And whether these were new performances from captured livestreams (Monte Luna, Kadavar) or older gigs that had been sitting around waiting for release at some point (Sumac, Dead Meadow), this, very much, was that point, and these live offerings kept burning a fire that felt at times very much in danger of being extinguished.

Looking Ahead to 2021

A list of bands. Some confirmed releases, some not. Here goes:

Dread Sovereign, Sasquatch, Year of Taurus, Apostle of Solitude, Weedpecker, Borracho, Love Gang, Jointhugger, Demon Head, Iron Man, Greenleaf, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Mammathus, Evert Snyman, Wo Fat, Conclave, Here Lies Man, Kabbalah, Komatsu, Hour of 13, Wedge, Amenra, La Chinga, Spidergawd, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vokonis, Freedom Hawk, Masters of Reality, ZOM, Eyehategod, Sanhedrin, Green Lung, The Mountain King, Albatross Overdrive, Elder, King Buffalo, Sunnata, Howling Giant, SAVER, Conan, Slomatics, Ruff Majik, Kind, Mos Generator, Yawning Sons, Lantlôs, Brant Bjork, Spiral Grave, Crystal Spiders, Lightning Born, Samavayo, Wovenhand, Merlock, Comet Control, The Age of Truth, Eight Bells, BlackWater Holylight, DVNE, Monte Luna.

Thank You

You’ve read enough, so I will do my best to keep this mercifully short. Thank you so much for reading — whether you still are or not — and thank you for being a part of the ongoing project that is The Obelisk. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have such incredible support throughout not just this year, but all the years of the site’s existence. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you most of all to The Patient Mrs. for her indulgence in letting me get this done. I’m am amazed forever.

More to come.

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Video Interview: Peder Bergstrand of Lowrider

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

lowrider (Photo by Anna Liden Wiren)

This was a good chat, and I knew it would be. I’ve had occasion a couple of times over the last year-plus to talk to bassist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand from Lowrider about the band’s long-awaited second album, Refractions (review here). First when it received a limited release last year for Blues Funeral Recordings‘ PostWax series, then again for an Instagram thing the band did, and I think somewhere else in there too. He did a Days of Rona feature earlier this year. Frankly, it’s nice to talk to him. Dry humor, sarcasm. In my experience we get along pretty well. He may hang up and call me a jerk each time, but he’s always been too polite to say it to my face.

But since Refractions is already receiving best-of-the-year-type hails and the band are currently chipping away at a follow-up — Bergstrand says maybe late 2021, which would be quite a turnaround considering it took them 20 years to answer their 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here), with a second album — it seemed like a fair enough time to check in. Joined in Lowrider by lead guitarist/vocalist Ola Hellquist, guitarist Niclas Stålfors and drummer Andreas ErikssonBergstrand was kind enough to offer an update on their third LP, including revealing the name of their first single from it as “…And the Horse You Rode in On,” talking about how the experience of recording Refractions remotely prepared the band for existing in a pandemic, the mixing genius (legit) of Karl Daniel Lidén, visiting the studio with Greenleaf as Tommi Holappa and company work on their own next record, why stoner rock stays largely apolitical, and much more. It was a wide-ranging conversation. I cut out the part at the beginning where we talked about our kids, but other than that, it’s as it happened once I hit record.

And given that, you’ll find out as you make your way through that there were a couple times when the connection froze. Hey, the internet isn’t perfect, so yeah. He comes back in a couple seconds every time it happens — three or four times, I think — so don’t sweat it. It’s a pretty casual conversation. I had a couple things I wanted to talk about, but no written questions as it were. Didn’t need them.

I hope you enjoy:

Lowrider Interview with Peder Bergstrand

Refractions is out now on Blues Funeral Recordings. Here’s the album stream:

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The Obsessed Premiere “Concrete Cancer” from Incarnate Remaster

Posted in audiObelisk on September 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE OBSESSED Incarnate Ultimate Record Store Day Edition

As far as doomly documents go, it’s hard to get much more essential than The Obsessed‘s Incarnate. First issued in 1999 on Southern Lord and re-pressed in 2004, the release arrived after the band was put to bed but assembled tracks from demos and live performances, originals and a couple covers, unreleased and released alike, to create a picture of the band across what was already an expanse of nearly two decades. Founded by guitarist/vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich as the high school band Warhorse and morphed into The Obsessed in 1980, the group has had multiple runs over the course of their now-40 years, but their effect on the scope of traditionalist doom is unmistakable, not only in their home state of Maryland, where their sound continues to resonate and directly inspire others, but throughout the world as well.

The 2004 edition of Incarnate upped the amount of material from five years prior, and the new remaster from Blues Funeral Recordings adds to that as well, resulting in a billing as Incarnate: Ultimate Edition that feels all the more earned not only with its striking cover art but with a 21-track and 81-minute sprawl of songs. The hits are there — “Neatz Brigade,” “Skybone,” “Streetside,” etc. — but complemented by material like “The Peckerwood Stomp” and the Grand Funk Railroad/The Animals cover “Inside Looking Out” from the band’s 1996 Altamont Nation single, a live version of “Endless Circles” on the 2LP, and a swath of demos covering multiple incarnations of the band with players like Guy PinhasScott Reeder and Ed Gulli and Greg Rogers joining Weinrich throughout. It’s a compilation, to be sure, and the varied sources means varied sound quality, especially on stuff from older tapes, but Incarnate was never supposed to be an album. It just got listened to that way by a new generation of followers.

Someday, on some better planet, when they teach college-level courses about the history of American doom metal and The Obsessed occupy a full week on the semester’s syllabus, the enduring legacy of the band will perhaps get its due. That was revived with the 2017 Relapse Records studio return, Sacred (review here), but even unto Blues Funeral‘s recent unearthed-tapes live outing, Live at Big Dipper (review here), it only continues to grow, and if some eyes-on-the-prize collector picks up Incarnate: Ultimate Edition and is able to dig into The Obsessed in a new way, so much the better. Given the integral nature of the band’s work and the context it provides to their studio and live LPs, it’s kind of a no-brainer. The remaster sounds sharp, the art is poster-worthy, and the tracklisting includes more than either older version of the release, which has been out of print and, frankly, probably shouldn’t be.

You know how doomers say things like “doom on?” This is why.

I’m not sure whether or not to call streaming something that was first released 21 years ago a “premiere,” but however you think it should be tagged, I’m happy to host the remastered version of “Concrete Cancer” below. Under the player you’ll find vinyl info, a quote form Wino and all that good stuff.

Enjoy:

THE OBSESSED’s iconic ‘Incarnate’ album returns exclusively for Record Store Day on October 24th from Blues Funeral Recordings!

Exclusive Record Store Day vinyl configurations of THE OBSESSED ‘Incarnate Ultimate Edition’:

USA/Canada – Black/Red Marble Vinyl
Germany/Austria/Switzerland – Solid Sun Yellow Vinyl
UK/Sweden- Pure White Vinyl

“For me, playing music professionally has always been a labor of love. Refusing to sell out, crafting songs and musical soundscapes is my art. There cannot be a compromise of artistic vision. With relationships and life in general, compromise is necessary, but compromising my art only crosses my mind when describing my philosophy here. ” Wino explains.

“I was given a gift and so I have responsibilities, to carry the torch, if you will, to illuminate the underground pathway that lies ahead and away from the mundane and banal music that some call pop or whatever.

I could not achieve these ideals without heroes with like minds and similar values. So I would like to say thanks to Jadd Shickler and Blues Funeral for believing in the power of this music, and believing in me, and re-releasing this amalgamation of sounds for your listening pleasure.

This is a compilation of outtakes, singles and demo versions of songs that made later albums… or not. Jadd told me that THIS record is what got him into my stuff, THE OBSESSED, SPIRIT CARAVAN, THE HIDDEN HAND, etc., and so we’re happy to offer the fans and listeners a special revamped version. Thanks to all who believe!!!“

The tracklist of ‘Incarnate’, a must-have anniversary album that belongs in every well-sorted THE OBSESSED record collection and is available as an exclusive Record Store Day release, will read as follows:

LP:
A1 Yen Sleep
A2 Concrete Cancer
A3 Peckerwood Stomp
A4 Inside Looking Out
A5 Mental Kingdom

B1 Sodden Jackal
B2 Iron & Stone
B3 Indestroy
B4 Mourning
B5 Spirit Caravan
B6 Skybone

C1 On The Hunt
C2 No Blame
C3 Neatz Brigade
C4 Hiding Mask
C5 Endless Circles (live)

D1 Streetside
D2 Climate Of Despair
D3 Decimation
D4 Fears Machine
D5 Field Of Hours

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The Obsessed Stream Live at Big Dipper in Full; Out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk on August 19th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obsessed

Nobody’s trying to get away with anything here. The Obsessed will release Live at Big Dipper this Friday, Aug. 21, through Blues Funeral Recordings, and if you’re thinking you’re getting a slick, pro-recorded live album from the band’s ’80s run, I’m gonna stop you right there and refer you to the PR wire text below and key phrases like, “borderline unlistenable” and “walkman shoved down the front of a sweaty hesher’s pants.” Also “pure magic.” I’d imagine there’s a subset of bootleg aficionados out there, gray of hair and cranky of disposition while hanging around record shows, who still employ the old grading system. Live at Big Dipper gets probably about a ‘C.’ It sounds like an audience recording, is so blown out you want to keep the volume low so it doesn’t damage your speakers, and is about as raw as raw gets while still being release-able.

Oh yeah, and it sounds pretty rough too.

You get the point. On the other hand, there are few taglines that’ll raise eyebrows among the doomly converted like “Wino‘s favorite The Obsessed show,” and Live at Big Dipper also carries that honor when it comes to the original lineup. For that alone, it’s an essential document of Maryland doom, captured over the course of two nights, April 29-30, 1983, in Beltsville, Maryland, with the trio of Scott “Wino” Weinrich on guitar/vocals, Mark Laue on bass and Dave Flood on drums. And to be perfectly fair, even with the grit-coated tape recording, you can hear the band tear it up. None of that “doom has to be slow” stuff, or really doom has to be anything. There’s as much punk in “Iron and Stone” as there is Sabbath, more in “Leather Nuns,” and even a nodder like “Endless Circles” keeps its energy at the fore. These of course were formative days for The Obsessed, who’d gotten their start in 1980 after picking up from Wino‘s high school-era band Warhorse (né 1976), but the vitality of the metal of the era comes through with a telltale casting off of bullshit that would become a staple of the Chesapeake Watershed’s doom scene to this day.

Did The Obsessed know as they lurched through “Mental Kingdom” inThe Obsessed Live at Big Dipper April 1983 that they were helping set the tone — literally, the tone — for an ensuing 40-year development of a regional style that became arguably the most vibrant on the Eastern Seaboard? Probably not. Live at Big Dipper sees The Obsessed not as a band with a legacy, but a hungry group of metallic misfits elbowing their way into a space between arrogance and righteousness. It’s pretty typical luck for doom that the band’s 40th anniversary would be in 2020, when touring can’t happen and everybody’s brainspace is consumed either with anxiety stemming from sociopolitical events or the ever-present specter of death via lungfire, but hey, that’s how it goes. It was basically the same in the Reagan years, what with economic downturn, a plague being ignored and a not-all-there would-be despot steering the ship into a downward spiral from which it took decades to recover.

Maybe that’s part of what makes The Obsessed‘s disaffection so resonant today, or maybe I just like bootlegs. It’s hard to tell sometimes, but Live at Big Dipper is a fan-piece. It knows it’s a fan-piece, it wants you to know it’s a fan-piece, and if you’re a fan, it wants you to enjoy it as a fan-piece. Nobody’s saying it’s the definitive The Obsessed live album, or even the first — see 2018’s Live at the Wax Museum, or shows from Amsterdam and Köln that were pressed up and sold in time for the band’s 2012 reunion — but it definitely captures a moment in time and presents it in a manner that’s stark in its realism. There’s no fakery here. Again, bullshit-free. Live at Big Dipper has so much edge there’s almost no middle.

The offering is rounded out by four demos from 1985 that both rule — I’d call “Kill Ugly Naked” as it appears here essential listening, and though “Neatz Brigade” feels somewhat like it’s fulfilling a requirement being tacked onto the end, it’s still welcome — and serve as a reminder of how long producer/engineer Chris Kozlowski has been recording bands and how crucial he’s been in documenting Maryland heavy. It would not be what it is without him.

It’s my pleasure to host the premiere of Live at Big Dipper ahead of its release on Friday through Blues Funeral. As you listen, keep in mind the box of tapes of shows like this that must exist in Wino‘s basement or some closet or storage space somewhere. I hope this isn’t the last show like this that we get. Who doesn’t like a good bootleg?

Enjoy:

Following closely behind doom godfather WINO’s souful new solo album, THE OBSESSED’s 40th anniversary year yields another slab for fans and devotees in the form of a rough and raw live recording of an early show at the lost-to-history Maryland club Big Dipper.

Officially forming in 1980 and building a bridge between metalheads and punks, The Obsessed gigged heavily in the Baltimore and D.C. area. Finding their footing amid some early member shuffling, the band’s crunchy, sludgy, dissonant yet hooky American Doom coalesced with the lineup of drummer Dave “The Slave” Flood and bassist Mark “Professor Dark” Laue along with singer/guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich.

Live at Big Dipper presents the trio at their early ’80s peak, burning hot from sharing stages with Iron Cross, Dead Boys, Scream, The Exploited, Blue Cheer and Death Row, not to mention a near miss supporting Motörhead.

The audio is borderline unlistenable, as if captured on a walkman shoved down the front of a sweaty hesher’s pants, then deteriorating in a dank Beltsville basement for 35 years. Even so, the 1983 performance is pure magic, capturing a hungry young band conjuring forth a sound and style they couldn’t know would endure for decades. The release also features a handful of recently uncovered demos from the early days, shedding light on the development of songs that would go on to become staples of The Obsessed and Wino’s subsequent band Spirit Caravan.

Says Wino: “This show at the Big Dipper was one of the last if not the last show of the OG Obsessed lineup, and it’s my favorite by far. It’s raw and noisy and took some cleanin’ up, but here it is. If it ain’t heavy, it ain’t shit!!!””

Pre-orders for Live at Big Dipper on limited edition LP and digital at:

Blues Funeral US Web Shop:
bluesfuneral.com

Blues Funeral Euro Web Shop:
https://en.bluesfuneral.spkr.media/

Blues Funeral Bandcamp:
bluesfuneralrecordings.bandcamp.com/

Tracks 1-9 Recorded Live at the Big Dipper, Beltsville MD, April 29/30, 1983
Wino: Guitar, Dave ‘the Slave’ Flood: Drums, Mark ‘Professor Dark’ Laue: Bass

Tracks 10-13 Recorded and engineered by Chris Kozlowski, 1985
Wino: Guitar, Ed Gulli: Drums, Mark Laue: Bass

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Album Review: Various Artists, Women of Doom

Posted in Reviews on May 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Various Artists Women of Doom

As a genre, doom is a long way from gender parity. It’s perhaps an optimistic viewpoint to take to say that the current generation of bands is past the point of seeing women artists as a novelty or downplaying their contributions to male bandmates or counterparts, but frankly I’m not even sure that’s true on a universal level. The inherent sexualization of performance — often willfully and hilariously ignored by men watching other men on stage — subjects women artists to a masculine gaze that at times is problematic even as it also serves as an expression of feminine power. As to what it means to be a woman artist in “doom,” or as to what “doom” is — where it starts and ends — I’m no one to speak to either experience, so I look at the Women of Doom compilation, highlighting women artists in and out their respective bands, as kind of a sad celebration. It’s well worth underscoring the stylistic contributions these women are making — and in a society that saw women paid 79 cents per every dollar a man made in 2019, well worth giving women every nod they can get, if not things like universal health coverage and reproductive rights — but a bit of a bummer that we’re not in a place where the norm would make such a compilation superfluous.

Whatever else doom is, it’s not there, but if Blues Funeral Recordings and Desert Records — both labels run by men, speaking of areas where women are underrepresented — wanted to, they could easily turn Women of Doom into a series. While Women of Doom brings together luminaries such as Amy Tung Barrysmith of Year of the Cobra, Doomstress Alexis of Doomstress, Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder and introduces two projects of former SubRosa members in The Otolith and Rebecca Vernon‘s The Keening, along with bands like Heavy Temple, Frayle, Sweden’s Besvärjelsen and France/Ireland’s Deathbell, there are a few conspicuous absences. Perhaps most glaringly, Windhand frontwoman, Dorthia Cottrell, is nowhere to be found, likewise an all-women act like Blackwater Holylight. And the same goes for a generational pioneer like Lori S. of Acid King, but it is inevitably a positive to say that it would be nearly impossible for Women of Doom — in a single go — to be so comprehensive. And as it is, the comp does well in setting an atmosphere across its full tracklisting, which reads as follows:

1. Nighthawk and Heavy Temple – Astral Hand 05:12
2. Amy Tung Barrysmith – Broken 06:04
3. Besvärjelsen – A Curse to be Broken 06:47
4. Mlny Parsonz – A Skeleton is Born 04:57
5. Frayle – Marrow 04:53
6. The Otolith – Bone Dust 04:31
7. Doomstress Alexis – Facade 04:47
8. Deathbell – Coldclaw 04:24
9. The Keening – A Shadow Covers Your Face 05:05
10. Mlny Parsonz – Broke An Arrow (Bonus) 03:25

Various Artists Women of Doom lp

The accomplishment of Women of Doom finding cohesion despite the variety of songwriting and performance modes is not to be understated. Beginning with Heavy Temple — here billed as Nighthawk and Heavy Temple — taking on a purely classic epic doom sound with the willfully Candlemassian “Astral Hand” sets a high bar, as grandiosity suits the Philly unit almost oddly well. They are maybe the odd-band-out in terms of aesthetic on Women of Doom, which is doubly ironic given “Astral Hand” is the most traditionally doomed song on the nine-plus-one-tracker and it’s not a style Heavy Temple generally play, but the darkened atmosphere they build sees immediate flourish in the piano-led composition “Broken” by Amy Tung Barrysmith, who only confirms through her work here that Year of the Cobra have only just begun their greater creative exploration. As one of two non-US acts present, Besvärjelsen are, as ever, a showcase for the vocal presence of Lea Amling Alazam, but their moodier post-doom on “A Curse to Be Broken” picks up well from “Broken” in more than just the similarity of titles.

By the time it’s a third of the way through, Women of Doom has already run a marked gamut in sound and dynamic, and that’s pretty clearly the intent of the thing. As arguably the most known performer featured, Mlny Parsonz, bassist/vocalist of Atlanta’s Royal Thunder brings a boozy classic rock powerhouse delivery to “A Skeleton is Born.” She returns for the bonus track “Broke an Arrow” in more subdued fashion to close out, and if mainstream rock and roll needed a woman figurehead — which it does, badly — she’d be a good candidate for the position in terms of craft; her work is equal parts dangerous and accessible. Frayle‘s “Marrow” carries mystique as a defining element, and The Otolith and Doomstress Alexis make a fitting pair for their use of strings. For The Otolith, that’s a trait inherited fairly enough from SubRosa, but it’s something of a surprise from Doomstress Alexis, who meets it with a likewise unexpected thrashiness in her guitar. Though maybe not as well known as some of the others, Deathbell stand out in such a way as to leave little to wonder why Kozmik Artifactz picked up their 2018 debut, With the Beyond, for a vinyl release. Their “Coldclaw” does not come from that outing, so perhaps portends something new in the works, and if so, is all the more welcome.

As the first offering from The Keening, “A Shadow Covers Your Face” is of particular interest, as was The Otolith‘s “Bone Dust,” but both projects have in common a nascent feel. That’s particularly true of The Keening‘s inclusion, which is a relatively minimal work of solo piano, placed in a way that answers Amy Tung Barrysmith‘s “Broken” earlier but has the distinction of being instrumental. Both works are evocative, but Rebecca Vernon‘s piano in “A Shadow Covers Your Face” seems to use the otherwise unfilled space surrounding it as an instrument unto itself. That shift in presentation at the conclusion is a well placed reminder of the breadth of what greater gender equity in heavy music has to offer, though frankly, if the case needs to be made by then — or at all — you as the listener have probably missed the point. Still, at its most basic level, removed from a context that sees women continually objectified and typecast in artwork, bands, and listener expectations, Women of Doom is a collection of new and encouraging tracks from a diverse array of up and coming artists and acts. Even the most established artist here, which is Parsonz, is reaching beyond what she’s done before, and that too is an important message that shouldn’t be ignored.

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Days of Rona: Daniel Pruitt of Lord Buffalo

Posted in Features on May 8th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

lord buffalo daniel pruitt

Days of Rona: Daniel Pruitt of Lord Buffalo (Austin, Texas)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? How is everyone’s health so far?

Fortunately we’re all healthy and ¾ of the band has been able to keep their jobs and work from home. I work in the service industry and was laid off. I am lucky to work for a solid musician-owned company that paid me for a few weeks after the shop closed and also made it easy to get unemployment. I’m hiding out in Oklahoma City for a bit and the rest of the band is in Austin. We Facetime weekly and are cooking up ideas for some new music. On top of that I’ve got a few collaborations I’m working on with friends that are nice distractions.

Have you had to rework plans at all?

This whole thing hit right as we were leaving for a West Coast tour in support our LP Tohu Wa Bohu. We made it three dates in before it became clear that trying to tour wasn’t safe for us or our fans. Not great timing. We arrived home to find SXSW and the rest of our spring schedule was canceled. Since then we’ve had several summer shows and festivals cancel and/or tentatively reschedule.

I sent Desert Records the final mixes for a split LP with Palehorse/Palerider a couple days before we left for tour. The release date and road shows for this release are getting pushed back until later in the summer. We’re trying to reschedule everything we can, but at this point no one really knows when it will be ok to gather for live music again. Everything is a little up in the air.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

In the city of Austin we have smart local government who made shelter-in-place happen relatively quickly. Essential businesses are open with social distancing in effect. Everyone who can work from home is doing that. The city is asking people to wear masks in public. Meanwhile, the Governor of Texas is an idiot who values dollars over humans and is reopening the state already. I think it’s a huge mistake. I hope I’m wrong. Many businesses are disregarding the lifting of restrictions from the governor’s office because they value the safety of their employees and customers, which is heartening to see.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

The isolation is certainly strange, I wonder how it will affect our communities in the long run. Crossing the street when you see another human does something to you after a while. Initially we all approached this pandemic as a sprint, but now that it’s clear that it’s more of a marathon I think there is a different sort of stress that sets in. I have family and friends who work in healthcare and I worry about them. Not just in the sense of exposure to the virus but the long term psychological effects of waking up everyday and putting yourself and your family into harm’s way. Heavy stuff.

As far as the musical community, there’s been a proliferation of live music streams and social media events, which are good and necessary placeholders. I think live music is a form of creative release for the performer and the audience. At the same time, live streams are not a substitute for the stink of making a proper mess in a room together with other humans and I think we’re all trying to figure out when we can do that again. We’ve done some interviews remotely and live on Instagram. There’s definitely a captive audience in these times. Outside of social media, it seems there’s more getting in touch with fellow musicians and saying, “Hey, you know how we’ve talked about collaborating on X, let’s finally do it.” I’m excited to see some of those come to life.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

I’ve struggled with productivity, worrying I’m not as productive as I think I should be right now. You spend your whole adult life trying to simultaneously pay rent and bills and make music, wishing you had more time to focus on music without the physical and emotional drain of outside work. Then, Boom, out of nowhere, it’s forced on you, but it’s paired with the financial stress of losing your job and the anxiety of being in the midst of a pandemic. Suddenly, it’s hard to feel creative. Anxiety is a drain on your brain, keeping you from mentally getting into a creative space.

I wonder if the larger problem isn’t how we derive our personal value? How we base our self-worth on our production? I’m trying not to engage in the circular thinking of what I should be accomplishing, instead attempting to be present, to value slowness, to take a breath and try to get acquainted with who I am when I’m not running, running, running; who I am when I’m not defining myself by my work. Do I really know? I still sit down to work, but I’m trying not to get mad when nothing seems to come of it. Making yourself available is all you can do sometimes. I trust that when glacier starts to thaw and the juices flow again, when the muse is coaxed down from her perch, this time spent grounding and expanding this knowledge of ourselves will be an undeniable asset.

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Days of Rona: Martin Wegeland of Domkraft

Posted in Features on April 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

domkraft martin wegeland

Days of Rona: Martin Wegeland of Domkraft (Stockholm, Sweden)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Well, since our focus right now is to get the next album written and recorded, it hasn’t really affected the band that much. A few shows have been cancelled, but since most of our booked shows this year are in the fall, there’s still hope that those will happen. We’re all healthy (as for now) and are still able to get together in our practice space so we are pretty much as active as we can be.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

[As of April 9:] There are restrictions, but not as strict as in most other affected countries. Schools are still open and the limit for gatherings is 50 persons, so many restaurants and bars are also still up and running, but many of them are on their knees right now. I live in Stockholm, which is the by far most affected region in Sweden and I think this is where we’ve seen the biggest impact on daily life also. I’ve been working from home for a month, like most people in lines of work that allow that. Sweden has gone the route where we lay a lot of responsibility on the individual instead of governmental restrictions, basically to keep a social distance, not travel or use public transportation unless completely necessary – and to keep washing hands and to stay home at the very tiniest sign of illness whether it be a runny nose or a headache. The only strict restriction apart from the gathering limit is that no visits are allowed in nursing homes and hospitals, basically. And it does feel like most people take the threat seriously and adhere to the recommendations, so fingers crossed the flattened curve strategy will work.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

The streets are less crowded, no doubt about that. But it’s not full on ghost town mode. As far as the music scene goes, I think the biggest concern is that – apart from the disease itself and the fact the people die from it, obviously – many already struggling venues and promoters are going through extremely rough times right now. It has always been a game with tight margins, and I honestly don’t know how many of them will make it through this. And that also goes for all the freelancers in the scene. And we also have friends in other bands that really, really suffered from this with tours being cancelled with all the costs already taken and non-refundable. Our own losses from cancelled shows are nothing in comparison.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

Personally, I really hope that everyone takes this seriously. My mother is old and in the risk group and she will most likely neither see her kids nor grandchildren until this is over. And there is no telling how far away that is. The uncertainty is really frustrating since it affects us on so many levels; the damage done by the actual disease, but also all the effects of the lockdowns and restrictions all over the world. The only thing that is for certain is that we will come out to a something very different when this is over. From a band perspective, it does give us time to work on new music, but it’s strange to not have any idea of when we will be able to perform in front of a crowd again. Which of course is a non-issue when set against the fatalities and personal tragedies of those directly affected by the virus, but in the micro perspective of what the aftermath of all this will bring on a personal level, music still feels really important. Hopefully, this test of respect and solidarity will lead to something good coming out of it also. And not just an endless blame game fueled by political cheap shots.

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