Quarterly Review: Ufomammut, Horehound, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Glacier, MNRVA, Coroza, Noosed, zhOra

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Oh hi, I didn’t see you there. Earlier this week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and yes, even Wednesday — the alarm went off at 4AM as usual and I got up, got coffee going and a protein bar and sat down to write, starting basically around quarter-after with a quick email check and whatnot. In terms of basic timing, this last morning of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review is no different. I even have the baby monitor streaming on my phone as I would most mornings, so I can keep an eye on when The Pecan gets up. What’s changed is I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Oslo, Norway, having just arrived on an overnight flight from Newark. Managed to sleep some on the plane and I’m hopeful adrenaline will pick up the rest of the slack as regards getting through the day. That and caffeine, anyhow.

Although, speaking of, my debit card doesn’t work and I’ll need to sort that out.

First thing’s first, and that’s reviews. Last batch of 10 for the week. We made it. Thanks as always for reading and being a part of this thing. Let’s wrap it up in style, and because I like working on a theme, three Irish bands in a row close out. Hey, I went to Ireland this year.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ufomammut, XX

UFOMAMMUT XX

Five years ago, Roman cosmic doom masters Ufomammut took a reflective look back at their career for its 15th anniversary with the documentary/live-performance DVD XV (review here). And since one might define the arc of their tenure as constantly trying to top themselves, for their 20th anniversary, they’ve issued a 12LP boxed set, titled simply XX, that compiles their nine albums to-date and tops them off with the mostly-subdued-style XX itself, which reimagines past cacophonies like “Mars” and “Plouton” in a quieter context. That part of the mega-offering issued through their own Supernatural Cat imprint comprises six songs recorded live and makes highlights out of the hypnotic strum and incantations of “Satan” as well as the rumbling drone of “Lacrimosa,” which takes on new emotional resonance for the shoegazy treatment it receives. I’ve said on multiple occasions throughout the years that Ufomammut are a band to be treasured, and I stand by that 100 percent. The XX box should be perceived by fans as an opportunity to do likewise.

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Supernatural Cat website

 

Horehound, Weight

horehound weight

Less than a year after issuing their second long-player in the form of Holocene (review here) through Blackseed and Doom Stew Records, Pittsburgh atmosludgers Horehound align with DHU Records for the two-song 8″ EP Weight, which brings “Unbind” and “The Heavy,” two new cuts that, while I’m not sure they weren’t recorded at the same time as the last album — that is, they may have been — they nonetheless showcase the emergent melodic breadth and instrumental ambience that is developing in their sound. Even as “Unbind” rolls toward its low-end tempo kick, it does so with marked patience and a willingness to stay slow until just the right moment, which is not something every band cane effectively do. “The Heavy,” meanwhile, builds itself around a Crowbar-style dirge riff before Shy Kennedy‘s verse arrives as a standalone element, all the instruments around her dropping out from behind. That moment alone, frankly, is worth the price of admission, as whether it’s through that extra inch in diameter of the platter itself or through the audio of the tracks in question, Horehound continue to distinguish themselves.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records BigCartel store

 

Lingua Ignota, CALIGULA

LINGUA IGNOTA CALIGULA

I’m not sure I’m qualified to write about Lingua Ignota‘s CALIGULA (on Profound Lore), but I’m not sure anyone else is either. Like a self-harmonizing mega-Jarboe turning existential horror into epic proclamations of “I don’t eat/I don’t sleep” on “DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR?” amid bass throb and terrifying melodic layering before making bedroom black metal sound like the lightweight self-indulgence it’s always been on the subsequent check-out-the-real-shit “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” Kristin Hayter‘s work is little short of experimentalist brilliance. She is minimal and yet over-the-top, open in creative terms but unwaveringly dark and rife with melody but severe to the point now and again of true aural abrasion. She weaves a context of her own into “FUCKING DEATHDEALER” as she recalls the lyrics to the aforementioned “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” while the outright brutality of “SPITE ALONE HOLDS ME ALOFT” is married to a piano-led meditation that, even without the noise wash from whence it comes, is enough to recast visions of what heavy is and can be in musical terms. I won’t pretend to get all the references like “kyrie eleison” (“lord have mercy”) worked into “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL” and the violent strains surrounding, but it’s impossible not to realize the power of what you’re hearing when you listen.

Lingua Ignota on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Zentrum

valborg zentrum

With an intensity born out of a history of industrial music and focus on tight rhythms making an impact in even-tighter songwriting, Valborg are neither beholden to death metal nor entirely separate from it, but their style has taken on a life of its own over the course of the last 10 years, and their latest offering, Zentrum (on Prophecy Productions), is the German trio’s most individualized take yet, whether that’s shown in the unbridled melodicism of “Anomalie,” the sludgy riff that drives the barking “Ultragrab” or the seemingly unrelenting snare pops of “Kreuzer” that, even when they finally release that tension, still make it only a temporary reprieve. Valborg‘s sense of control through the epic “Nonnenstern” should not be understated, and though the track is under four minutes long, yes, “epic” very much applies. Suitably enough, they close with “Vakuum” and throw everything at the listener at once before resolving in relatively peaceful atmospherics that could just as easily serve as an introduction to the next round of malice to come, whenever it shows up.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions webstore

 

Sageness, Akmé

sageness akme

Spanish trio Sageness — also written SageNESS — conjure smooth Electric Moon-style soundscapes on their second album, Akmé, and yes, that is a compliment. The record brings forth six tracks of easy-rolling instrumentalist jam-based heavy psychedelia that offer much and take little in return, the richness of the guitar tone from Dawyz and Michi‘s bass given jazzy fluidity by Fran‘s drumming. “Ephemeral” touches most directly on a Colour Haze, as it would almost have to, but even there, the feeling of spaciousness that Sageness present in the recording is a factor that helps them come across as more individual. Earlier, “The Thought” is a little more directly space rock, but opener “Andromeda” seems to be charting the course with its liquefied effects and somehow-even-more-liquefied groove, and if you can’t get down with that, I’ve got nothing for you and neither does the rest of the universe.

Sageness on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records website

 

Glacier, No Light Ever

glacier no light ever

It’s not exactly true, about their being no light ever on Boston post-metallers Glacier‘s latest full-length, No Light Ever. Sure, it’s plenty dark and heavy and brooding and all that fun stuff, and the riffs get loud and the drums break stuff and all that, but it’s certainly colorful in its way as well, and more than just shades of black on black. Comprised of four tracks cumbersomely titled in keeping with the traditions of the likes of Red Sparowes and the band’s own past work, cuts like “O World! I Remain No Longer Here.” and “The Bugles Blow, Fanned by Hysteria.” stretch themselves out along a scope as massive as the tonality the band emits, and as the wash of “We Glut Our Souls on the Accursed,” — the comma is part of the title there — gives way to feedback and the onset of “And We Are Damned Amid Noble Sound.” the sense of immersion is complete and clear as the priority under which they’re working. It’s about the whole album, or at least the two sides, as a unified work, and about crafting a world through the atmosphere evoked in the material. It works. If they say there’s no light in that world, so be it. It’s whatever they want it to be.

Glacier on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records webstore

 

MNRVA, Black Sky

mnrva black sky

Not-entirely-bereft-of-vowels South Carolina heavy trio MNRVA make their debut with the three-song EP Black Sky, a beast of a short release led by the riffs of guitarist Byron Hark on a stretch of ’90s-style crunch and sludge, with bassist/vocalist Kevin Jennings and drummer Gina Ercolini adding to the weight and shove of the proceedings, respectively. “Not the One” has the hook, “No Solution” has the impact and the title-track has both, and though I’m by no means saying the issue of their sound is settled 100 percent and they won’t grow or find their way from this — again, their debut — EP, they do prove to be well in charge of where their songs head in terms of mood and the atmosphere that comes through elements like the blown-out vocals and the rumbling bass beneath the lead guitar in the second half of “Black Sky” itself. Indeed, it’s those harsher aspects that help MNRVA immediately establish their individuality, and the vibe across these 18-plus minutes is that the punishment is only getting started.

MNRVA on Thee Facebooks

MNRVA on Bandcamp

 

Coroza, Chaliceburner

coroza chaliceburner

Just because Irish four-piece Coroza — guitarist/vocalists Ciaran Coghlan and Jack O’Neill, bassist/vocalist Jonny Canning and drummer Ollie Cunningham — might write a song that’s 18 minutes long, that doesn’t mean they forgot to actually make it a song as well. Thus it is that extended cuts like “The Plutonian Drug” (18:24) and closer “Iron from the Sky” (19:30) have plenty of room to flesh out their more progressive aspects amid the other three also-kind-of-extended pieces on Chaliceburner, the group’s ambitious hour-plus/five-track debut full-length. Each song essentially becomes a front-to-back movement on its own, with shifts between singers arranged thoughtfully from one part to the next and hooks along the way to serve as landmarks for those traversing, as in the opening “Chaliceburner” or the gruff winding moments of “Mountain Jaw,” which follows the nine-minute sax-inclusive centerpiece “Scaltheen,” because of course there’s a saxophone in there somewhere. All of this is a recipe for a band biting off more than they can chew stylistically, but Coroza manage pretty well the various twists and turns of their own making, particularly considering it’s their first album.

Coroza on Thee Facebooks

Coroza on Bandcamp

 

Noosed, She of the Woods

noosed she of the woods demo

Encased front and back by witchy samples and creepy vibes, Sept. 2019’s She of the Woods is the second demo in two months to come from Cork, Ireland’s Noosed. And you know it when they get around to the closing seven-minute title-track because it’s just about the only thing other than “Intro” that isn’t raging with grind intensity, but that stuff can be fun too. I don’t know how much witch-grind-doom is out there, but Noosed‘s first, self-titled demo (released in August) had a sludgy edge that seems to have separated out to some degree here into a multifaceted personality. Can one possibly be certain of the direction the band will ultimately take? Shit no. It’s two demos with basically no time differential between them. But if they can effectively bridge the gap between “Fuck Up,” “Wretch” and “She of the Woods,” or even play directly with the contrast, they could be onto something with all this noise and fuckall.

Noosed on Thee Facebooks

Noosed on Bandcamp

 

zhOra, Ruthless Bastards

zhora ruthless bastards

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it such that Irish four-piece zhOra wanted to do something less complicated than was their 2017 album, Ethos, Pathos, Logos (discussed here), so they went ahead and wrote a song that’s five minutes long and purposefully hops between subgenres, going from sludge to doom to a deathcore breakdown, with a snare-pop count-in, to blackened death metal and then back to a lumbering chug to finish out. Okay, zhOra, “Ruthless Bastards” is a an awful lot of metal and an awfully good time, but you missed the mark on “simple” by a considerable margin. If indeed the band had been plotting toward something, say, easier to play or to compose, “Ruthless Bastards” ain’t it. They’ll have to settle for being brutal as fuck instead. Something tells me they’ll survive having made that trade, as much as anything will.

zhOra on Thee Facebooks

zhOra on Bandcamp

 

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Otherworlds over Éire Documentary Captures Valborg & Bloodway Collaboration

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

otherworlds over eire

Through performance footage and interviews, the new documentary Otherworlds over Éire tells the story of how the 2016 collaboration between Valborg and Bloodway. The German and Romanian outfits had toured together in Ireland on a 2015 run called ‘Horrors of the Unknown’ alongside Perihelion — a documentary by director Gina Sandulescu exists for that as well — so while neither party was unknown to the other the second time around, the three shows in Dublin, Belfast and Limerick allowed the two groups to further explore the bond they shared, which in turn led to their working together on the Karbon Winter EP (discussed here) that was released last summer.

Some of the tales they tell will ring pretty universal to anyone who’s ever been involved in an underground tour. Trouble getting here or there, dudes in your band getting wasted, living in close quarters, playing in dark bars and struggling to exist for the 23 hours in the day that aren’t involved in either loading onto stage, playing, or loading off. While in Ireland, Valborg and Bloodway both took part in the Distortion Festival in Belfast and the Siege of Limerick in that city, but their tales of travel and of the experience of being on tour together, resonate. They talk about it the way bands talk about it — a little guarded for the masses, but honest in relaying both the positive and negative aspects of putting in that time.

And considering they went on to produce Karbon Winter together, the perspectives of these two anti-genre groups feels even more valuable to get in this form. You can check out Otherworlds over Éire in its entirety below and read more about Sandulescu‘s work alongside the artist Costin Chioreanu (also in Bloodway) and how this documentary happened in the PR wire info beneath.

Please enjoy:

Valborg & Bloodway: Otherworlds over Éire documentary

After the German trio Valborg got acquainted with the kindliness of Romanian band Bloodway while they toured in the later one’s host country, the two groups decided to embark on a new journey together and go and play in a realm that was out of their common roads. The aspect which makes these two bands correspond in a captivating way relates to the styles they approach. Although they are extremely different they are both based on a single thing: they cannot be easily categorized. They incorporate death metal, progressive, gothic, doom, black and avant-garde tendencies.

In the fall of 2016 the two bands went in a short tour in Ireland, where they had three gigs each and everything got enveloped in the Halloween atmosphere which was unfolding in one of the most suitable places in terms of historical and cultural matters. The first show took place in Dublin, another one was part of the Distortion Festival in Belfast and the last stop was in Limerick for the Siege of Limerick festival. Here is a short film depicting some of their live experiences and memories. The musicians in both bands question the reasons for touring in foreign places and putting all their emotional and material efforts into such things. This happens in a time which is overcrowded with underground events and what not. The experience itself and the moments spent in the company of close friends or nice strangers, represent the key to everything.

Romanian filmmaker, writer & journalist Gina Sandulescu have followed & filmed the bands in the short tour in Ireland and now have released the documentary named ‘Otherworlds Over Éire.’ Gina Sandulescu filmed in the past videos with Costin Chioreanu from Twilight13media (https://twilight13media.com/) for such bands as AT THE GATES (The Book Of Sand), BLOODWAY (The Transfinite Castaway; Mirror Twins) and WINTERHORDE (Worms of Soul), to name just a few.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Bloodway on Thee Facebooks

Karbon Winter on Bandcamp

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Owl to Release The Last Walk on Nov. 19

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 21st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

owl

The ink barely dry on earlier-this-year’s Into the Absolute EP, German death-doom outfit Owl have announced a follow-up short release, The Last Walk, to be issued next month on Zeitgeister Music. The Bonn-based project of Christian KolfOwl switches off between blurring and demolishing genre lines, as Into the Absolute showed, songs like “Unearthly Arcana” pushing into progressive death and black metals while the opening title-track recalled slow-motion Meshuggah chugging and post-metal atmospheric churn and the brief, ambient “Apparition” added ghostly malevolence to the surrounding tonal crush. What Kolf, who may or may not still be joined by drummer Patrick Schroeder in the band, might come up with over the course of a single 25-minute stretch is something to look forward to finding out.

Ever reliable in this regard, the PR wire brings details of the new release. I’ve also included the Bandcamp stream of Into the Absolute should you feel compelled to dig in:

owl the last walk

OWL: German Death/Doom Obscurists Return With 25 Minute Opus “The Last Walk”

Epic Track to be Released as Digital Download via Zeitgeister on November 19th

Less than 6 months after the crushing release of their Into The Absolute EP, OWL are preparing to return with a 25-minute opus entitled The Last Walk.

On this release OWL continue their ever-evolving and unpredictable path by combining their ambient style with sorrowful doom metal, influenced by bands such as My Dying Bride, early Anathema, Nadja, Dead Can Dance, alongside ambient music as well as band leader Christian Kolf’s experimental project Gruenewald.

The Last Walk was written, recorded, and produced by Kolf in his own DH Studios from March – September 2014. Mastering was done by Simon Hawemann at Sludge Studios.

The song will be available as a digital download via Zeitgesiter on November 19th.

https://zeitgeister.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-absolute
http://owldeathmetal.tumblr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/owlzg
https://zeitgeister.bandcamp.com/
http://www.zeitgeistermusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/zeitgeistermusic

Owl, Into the Absolute (2014)

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Friday Long-Player: The Flying Eyes at Rockpalast Crossroads 2011 (Full Set)

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 23rd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Seems only reasonable to cap this week with The Flying Eyes, from Baltimore, as I’m situated outside the city for the weekend. The Patient Mrs. has family down here and I’ve adjourned early on what if the noise level emanating from downstairs is an ongoing evening, but yeah, I’m pretty much done with the night. I left work early to head south, we’ve got the dog with us, and there will be plenty more geniality tomorrow. Honestly, I think last night’s Thanksgiving food coma carried over into today. No amount of coffee could make me stir, and all a few glasses of wine with leftovers for dinner did was increase my longing for the comforts of pajamas, bed and laptop glow. So here I am.

The Flying Eyes have a new album in the works that I’m looking forward to hearing, and in the meantime, this full set from Rockpalast Crossroads is full-on righteous. There are a few young bands right now that make me excited for the prospects of next-gen American heavy. The Flying Eyes are one. Eggnogg are another, and bands like Pilgrim and Elder seem like a given by now, but they’re both still plenty young as well. As long as everyone remembers to turn the bass up, things should be just fine. I’m excited to hear what The Flying Eyes have in store for their next record.

Kind of wild week, but I guess that happens with holidays. In any case, I took a little shit for it, but I was glad to get that Om review up yesterday. Coincidence has it that they’re playing the Ottobar in Baltimore tomorrow night, with Arbouretum opening. I’ve never seen Arbouretum, and I’d like to, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Kind of a hard sell to be like, “Hey, yeah, we’re coming to stay with you for the weekend but by the way we’re gonna skip out and go to a show and oh by the way do you mind watching our dog for the night she’s allergic to peanut butter okay thanks bye!” Seems a little scummier than I’m interested in being, at least this weekend.

Nonetheless, I’m hoping to get into town proper tomorrow for a bit in the afternoon, maybe get a crabcake sandwich and hit a record shop or two, as is my wont. I’ll be sure to report on any and all acquisitions, and otherwise, stay tuned next week for reviews of Kowloon Walled City‘s new one, Cultura Tres, and probably one or two others, as well as a High on Fire live review — they hit Philly on Thursday and I’m going — an interview with Dylan Desmond about the new Bell Witch album and a track stream of the Don Juan Matus/Oxido split 7″ that’s been out for a while but I wanted to feature all the same because it’s limited and because it’s cool.

And speaking of audio, it seems only fair to give you the early heads up that on Monday I’m going to be launching a live, 24-hour streaming radio station. The Obelisk Radio. I’ll have more details Monday and you’ll probably be able to check it out before then since I’ll be putting the links up and stuff over the weekend, but yeah, that’s happening. Thanks to Johnny Arzgarth, I got the hard drive that was the old K666 from StonerRock.com, Slevin essentially set up the stream, and I’ll be adding to it as we go. The first record that I put up today as a test — in addition to the hundreds already there — was Sungrazer‘s Mirador. Much more to come on that.

Until then, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I will see you on the forum and back here Monday for a whole new league of shenanigans.

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