Quarterly Review: Signo Rojo, Tribunal, Bong Corleone, Old Spirit, Los Acidos, JAGGU, Falling Floors, Warp, Halo Noose, Dope Skum

Posted in Reviews on April 12th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Welcome to day three of the Spring 2023 Quarterly Review. Traditionally, this is where the halfway point is hit, like that spot on the wall in the Lincoln Tunnel where it says New York on the one side and New Jersey on the other. That’s not the case today — though it still applies as far as this week goes — since this particular QR runs seven days, but one way or the other, I’m glad you’re here. There’s been an absolutely overwhelming amount of stuff so far and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon, so don’t let me keep you, except maybe to say that if you’re actually reading as well as browsing Bandcamp (or whoever) players, it is appreciated. Thanks for reading, to put it another way.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Signo Rojo, There Was a Hole Here

signo rojo there was a hole here

As lead/longest track — yes, immediate points — “Enough Rope” shifts between modern semi-melodic heavy burl post-Baroness to acoustic-tinged flourish to rolling shout-topped post-hardcore on the way back to its soaring chorus, yes, it’s fair to say Sweden’s Signo Rojo establish a broad swath of sounds on their third full-length, There Was a Hole Here. Later they grow more massive and twisting on “What Love is There,” while “Also-Ran” finds the bass managing to punch through the wall of guitar around it (not complaining) and the concluding “BotFly” lets its lead guitar soar over a crescendo that’s almost post-metal, so they want nothing for variety, but whether it’s “The World Inside” with its progressive chug or the more swaying title-track, the songs are united by tone in the guitars of Elias Mellberg and Ola Bäckström, the shouty vocals of bassist Jonas Nilsson adding aggressive edge, and the drums of Pontus Svensson reinforcing the underlying structures and movements. Self-recorded, mixed by Johan Blomström and mastered by Jack Endino for name-brand recognition, There Was a Hole Here is angles and thrown-elbows, but not disjointed. Tumultuous, they power through and find themselves unbruised while having left a few behind them.

Signo Rojo on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store


Tribunal, The Weight of Remembrance

Tribunal The Weight Of Remembrance

Stunning first album. Vancouver’s Tribunal — the core duo of cellist/bassist/vocalist Soren Mourne and guitarist/vocalist Etienne Flinn, working on their first record, The Weight of Remembrance, with Julia Geaman on drums on the seven-song/47-minute sprawl of bleak, goth-informed death-doom — resound with purpose between the atmosphere and the dramaturge of their material. “Apathy’s Keep” (Magdalena Wienski on additional drums) alone would tell you they’re a band with a keen sense of what they want to accomplish stylistically, but the patience in execution necessary from the My Dying Bride-esque back and forth shifts between harsh and clean vocals on opener “Initiation” to the grim, full-toned breadth of the 12-minute finale “The Path,” on which Mourne‘s severity reminds of Finland’s Mansion, and yes that’s a compliment, while Flinn finds new depths from which to gurgle out his harsh screaming. The semi-titular piano interlude “Remembrance” is well-placed at the end of side A to make one nostalgic for some lost romance that never happened, and the stop-chug of “A World Beyond Shadow” seem to speak to SubRosa‘s declarative majesty as well as the more extreme spirit of Paradise Lost circa ’91-’92, Tribunal crossing eras and intentions with an organic meld that hints there and in “Without Answer” or the airy cello of “Of Creeping Moss and Crumbled Stone” earlier at even grander and perhaps more orchestral things to come while serving as one of 2023’s best debuts in the interim. Like finding your great grandmother’s wedding dress, picking it up out of the box and having the dried-out fabric and lace crumble in your hands. Sad and necessary.

Tribunal on Facebook

20 Buck Spin website


Bong Corleone, Bong Corleone

Bong Corleone Bong Corleone

From whence came Finland’s Bong Corleone? Well, from Finland, I guess, but that hardly answers the question on planetary terms. Information is sparse and social media presence is nil from the psychedelic-stoner-doom explorers, who string synth lines through four mostly-extended pieces on this self-titled, self-released, seemingly self-actualized argument for dropping out of life and you know the rest. Second cut “Gathering” (8:34) sees lead guitar step in for where vocals might otherwise be, but there and in the prior leadoff “Chemical Messenger” (9:15), synthesizer plays a prominent role that’s been compared rightly to Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, though “Gathering” departs in for a midsection meander-jam that lets itself have and be more fun before crashing back around to the roll. As it invariably would, “Astrovan” (6:18) shoves faster, but the synth stays overtop along with some floating guitar, and the sense of control remains strong even in the second half’s splurge and slowdown, shifting with ambient drone and residual amp hum into 11-minute closer “Offering,” which rounds out with a sample, what might be a bong rip, and a density of fuzz that apparently Bong Corleone have been keeping in their collective pocket all the while, crushing and stomping before turning to more progressive exploration later. It’s a substantial enough release at 35 minutes that the band might — like MWWB before them — regret the silly name, but even if they never follow it with anything, the immersion factor in these four songs shouldn’t be discounted. May they (if in fact it’s more than one person) never reveal a lineup.

Bong Corleone on Bandcamp


Old Spirit, Burning in Heaven

Old Spirit Burning in Heaven

This second full-length from Wisconsin-based solo-project Old Spirit — formed and executed at the behest of Jason Hartman (Vanishing Kids, sometimes Jex Thoth) — Burning in Heaven feels at home in contradictions, whether it’s the image provoked by the title or in the songs themselves, be it the CelticFrost-on-MonsterMagnet‘s-pills “Dim Aura” or the electro Queens of the Stone Age shuffle in “Ash,” or the Candlemass-meets-Chrome succession of “Fallacy,” or the keyboard and guitar interlude “When the Spirit Slips Away.” The title-track opens and has an oldschool ripper solo late, but there’s so much going on at any given moment that it’s one more element thrown in the mix as much as a precursor to the later reaches of “Angel Blood” — a Slayer nod, or two, perhaps? — which precedes the emergent wash of “Bleak Chapel” and the devolution undertaken from song to drone that gives over to closer “In Dismay,” which seems all set in its garage-goth doom rollout until the tempo kick brings it and the record to a place of duly dug-in progressive psych-metal oddness. Fitting end to a record clearly meant to go wherever the hell it wants and on which the rawness of the production becomes a uniting factor across otherwise willfully disparate material, skirting the danger that it all might collapse on itself while proselytizing individualist fuckall; Luciferian without being outright Satanic.

Old Spirit on Bandcamp

Bright as Night Records on Facebook


Los Acidos, Stereolalo

Los Acidos Stereolalo

Argentina’s Los Acidos return after reissuing 2016’s self-titled debut (review here) in 2020 through Necio Records with Stereolalo, putting emphasis on welcoming listeners from the outset with the opening title-track and “Ascensor,” which are the two longest cuts on the record (double points) and function as world-builders in terms of establishing the acoustic/electric blend and melodic flourish with which much of the 50-minute outing functions. Like everything, the blend is molten and malleable, as shorter pieces like “Atardecer” or side B’s build-to-boogie “Madre” and the keyboard-backed psych-funk verses of “Atenas” show, and they resist the temptation to really blow it out as they otherwise might even in those first two tracks; the church organ seeming to keep the penultimate “Interior” in line before “Buscando el Mar” calls out ’60s psych on guitar with a slow-careening progression from whatever kind of keyboard that is, ending almost folkish, having said what they want to say in the way they want to say it. Light in atmosphere, there nonetheless are deceptive depths from which the songs seem to swim upward.

Los Acidos on Facebook

Los Acidos on Bandcamp


JAGGU, Rites for the Damned

jaggu rites for the damned

Rites for the Damned offers the kind of aesthetic sprawl that can only be summarized in vague catchall tags like ‘progressive,’ with the adventurous and ambitious Norwegian outfit JAGGU threatening extremity on “Carnage” at the beginning of the eight-song/40-minute LP while instead taking the angularity and thrust and through “Earth Murder” fostering an element of noise rock that feeds its aggression into “Mindgap” before the six-minutes-each pair of “Electric Blood” and “Lenina Ave.” further reveal the breadth, hooks permeating the amalgam of heavy styles being bent and reshaped to suit the band’s expressive will, the latter building from acoustic-inclusive post-metallic balladry into a solo that seems to spread far and wide as it draws the listener deeper into side B’s reaches, the dizzying start of “Enthralled,” post-black-metal-but-still-metal “Marching Stride” — more of a run, actually — and the prog-thrash finale “God to be Through” that caps not to bring it all together, but to celebrate the variations encountered along the course and highlight the skill with which JAGGU have been guiding the proceedings all along, unsettled in their approach on this second record in such a way as to speak to perpetual growth rather than their being the kind of band who’ll find a niche and stagnate.

JAGGU on Facebook

Evil Noise Recordings store


Falling Floors, Falling Floors

Falling Floors self-titled

Escapist and jam-based-but-not-just-jamming psychedelia pervades the self-titled debut from UK trio Falling Floors, who add variety amid the already-varied krautrock in the later reaches of opener “Infinite Switch,” the lockdown slog of “Flawed Theme,” the tambourine-infused hard strums of “Ridiculous Man” and the 18-minute side-B-consuming “Elusive and Unstable Nature of Truth,” which is organ-inclusive bombast early and drone later, with three numbered interludes, furthering the notion of these works being carved out of experiments. A malleable songwriting process and a raw, seemingly live recording make Falling Floors‘ seven-song run come across as formative, but the rougher edges are part of the aesthetic, and ultimately bolster the overarching impression that the band — guitarist/vocalist Rob Herian, bassist/organist Harry Wheeler and drummer/percussionist Colin Greenwood — can and just might go wherever the hell they want. And they do, in that extended finisher and elsewhere throughout, capturing an exploratory moment of creation in willfully unrefined fashion, loose but not unhinged and seemingly as curious in the making as in the result. I don’t know that a band can do this kind of adventuring twice — invariably any second album is informed by the experience of making the first — but Falling Floors make a resounding argument for wanting to find out in these shared discoveries.

Falling Floors on Instagram

Riot Season Records store

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp


Warp, Bound by Gravity

Warp Bound by Gravity

Spacing out from a fuzzy foundation like Earthless taking on The Sword — with a bit of Tool in the second-half leads of eight-minute second track “The Hunger” — Israeli trio Warp make their Nasoni Records label debut with their sophomore full-length, Bound by Gravity, putting due languid slog into “Your Fascist Pigs are Back” while finding stonerized salvation in “Dirigibles” ahead of the more melodic and more doomed title-track, which Sabbath-blues-boogies right into its shout-topped sludge slowdown before the bounce and swing of “Impeachment Abdication” readily counteracts. “The Present” unfolds with hints of Melvins while “Head of the Eye” rides a linear groove into a winding midsection that resolves in a standout chorus and capper “I Don’t Want to Be Remembered” is a vocal highlight — guitarist Itai Alzaradel, bassist Sefi Akrish and drummer Mor Harpazi all contribute in that regard at some juncture or another — and a reaffirmation of the gonna-roll-until-we-don’t mindset on the part of the band, ending cold after shifting into a faster chug like the song’s about to take off again. That’d be a hell of a way to start their next record and we’ll see if they get there. Pointedly of-genre, Warp bring exploratory craft to a foundation of tonal heft and ask few indulgences on the listener’s part. Big fuzz gonna make some friends among the converted.

Warp on Facebook

Nasoni Records store


Halo Noose, Magical Flight

halo noose magical flight

Leading off with its spacebound title-track, Halo Noose‘s debut album, Magical Flight, finds the Scottish solo-outfit plumbing the outer reaches of fuzz-drenched acid rock, coming through like an actually-produced version of Monster Magnet‘s demo era in its roughed-up Hawkwind-via-Stooges pastiche, “Cinnamon Garden” edging toward Eastern idolatry without going full-sitar while “Fire” engages with a stretched-out feel over its slow, maybe-programmed drums and centerpiece “When You Feel it Babe” tops near-motorik push with watery vocals like a less punk Nebula or some of what Black Rainbows might conjure. “Kaliedoscopica” is based largely around a single riff and it’s a masterclass in wah at its 4:20 runtime, leading into the last outward leaps of “Rollercoasting Your Mind” and the forward-and-backwards “Slow Motion” which isn’t actually much slower than anything else here and thus reminds that time is a construct easily subverted by lysergics, fading out with surprising gentleness to return the listener to a crueler reality after a consuming half-hour’s escape. Right on.

Halo Noose on Facebook

Ramble Records store

Echodelick Records on Bandcamp

The Acid Test Recordings store


Dope Skum, Gutter South

Dope Skum Gutter South

If you’d look at the name and the fact that the trio hail from Tennessee and think you’re probably in for some caustic Southern sludge, you’re part right. Dope Skum on their second EP, the 17-minute Gutter South, embrace the tonal heft and chugging approach of the harder end of sludge riffing, but rather than weedian throatrippers, a cleaner vocal style pervades from guitarist Cody Landress-Gibson across opener “Folk Magic,” the banjo-laced “Interlude,” “Feast of Snakes,” “Belly Lint” and the punkier-until-its-slowdown finish of “The Cycle,” and the difference between a shout and a scream is considerable in the impressions made throughout. Bassist Todd Garrett and drummer Scott Keil complete the three-piece and together they harness a feel that’s true to that nasty aural history while branching into something different therefrom, genuinely sounding like a new generation’s interpretation of what Southern heavy was 15-20 years ago. More over, they would seem to be conscious of doing it. Their first EP, 2021’s Tanasi, was more barebones in its production, and there’s still development to be done, but it will be interesting to hear how they manifest across a first long-player when the time comes, as Gutter South underscores potential in its songwriting and persona as well as defiance of aesthetic expectation.

Dope Skum on Facebook

Dope Skum on Bandcamp


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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 105

Posted in Radio on March 3rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

I feel like I’m doubling down on heavy shit, and that’s probably a good thing. This is a killer show. New Dozer, the riffy cut from the new Enslaved right after the Polymoon song where they sound like Enslaved. The most arrogant track from the Mathew’s Hidden Museum record (not a rag on it, the arrogance is what makes it), the closer from the Sandrider record where they do the big riff thing, fucking Stoned Jesus’ “Season of the Witch” that I’ve been dying to share since whenever the hell it was I got the record, god damn, and Black Sky Giant’s gorgeous post-prog immersion and Ruff Majik’s new single speaking of fucking arrogance, but like super-depressed-you’re-actually-kind-of-worried-about-them arrogance. Their new record is so fucking good. I’mma put it on right now, and mark your calendar because I’m streaming it April 27. That’s right. I book shit that early. Hell, I’ve got a stream slated for July 12. Who even knows if the planet will still be here?

Anyway, the list in progress: it’s got that Abanamat and Hail the Void that everyone’s all over, Cleõphüzz whose debut album came out after they already broke up — I love this genre — and new The Freak Folk of Mangrovia that I got like five minutes before making the playlist, and a fucking band called Bong Corleone! Bong Corleone! I don’t know how that alone wouldn’t make you listen to the show. Dread Witch are heavy as hell, and I played the longest Swarm track I could because they rule and I figured the more of the show they take up the better.

I know I always say thanks if you listen. And hey, thanks if you listen. But if you don’t catch this one, it ain’t my damn fault. Show is awesome.

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

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 03.03.23 (VT = voice track)

Dread Witch Wormtongue Tower of the Severed Serpent
Ruff Majik Cement Brain Elektrik Ram
Black Sky Giant At the Gates Primigenian
Stoned Jesus Season of the Witch Father Light
Sandrider Grouper Enveletration
Dozer Ex-Human, Now Beast Drifting in the Endless Void
Cleõphüzz When the Siren Blows Mystic Vulture
Healthyliving Galleries Songs of Abundance, Psalms of Grief
Mathew’s Hidden Museum Born on the 3rd of July Mathew’s Hidden Museum
Hail the Void Talking to the Dead Memento Mori
Polymoon Instar Chrysalis
Enslaved Congelia Heimdal
Abanamat Voidgazer Abanamat
The Freak Folk of Mangrovia Astral Nomads Astral Nomads
Bong Corleone Offering Bong Corleone
Swarm We Should Know Swarm

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is March 3 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Facebook

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