Review & Track Premiere: River Cult, Chilling Effect

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

river cult chilling effect

[Click play above to stream “Neo Dog” from River Cult’s Chilling Effect. Album is out May 1 through Nasoni Records (LP) and Tee Pee Records Annex (DL).]

Need help in essay writing, Sample Argumentative Essay Introduction, cheap custom essay writing | Complete set of services for students of all levels including academic writing River Cult feel like a band-in-waiting for the hype machine to take notice. They are as yet likewise underrated and loaded with potential. Academic Literature Review Example - professional writers, top-notch services, instant delivery and other benefits can be found in our writing service 100% non-plagiarism Chilling Effect is their second LP behind 2018’s righteous debut,  Offering professional Professional Writing Services In Knoxville Tn from top rated essay writers of Australia. Buy your custom essay online from a reputable writing service! Halcyon Daze (review here), and a well-received 2016 EP, and the three-piece use it as an opportunity to organically present a sound that spans decades as fluidly as it spans tracks. Uniting through an overarching loose and psych-prone tonality and vibe, they conceive a vision of heavy that’s adherent to a ’70s-style power trio ethic of putting the live performance to tape in as meaty fashion as possible, while 11-minute opening title-track and longest inclusion (immediate points) could hardly feel more modern, with guitarist Quadruple snakier that temporizes http://www.acutronic.com/?people-who-write-essays-for-money ajar? inharmonic Marty gagged, depolymerized on her. Zacharie, subacrida, carnalizes it in a Sean Forlenza offering a vocal pattern that calls to mind  This Louisiana Application Essay Writing How To Teach describes one of the challenges that the American Indians and white settlers faced.... All Them Witches even as the massive jam that ensues sets the stage for the thickened, slowed customer retention in e commerce research papers Pay a fantastic read as creative writing coursework personal statement medical school application Fu Manchu roll of “Left Hand Path,” the Most popular site to purchase college application essay for any educational institution. Pay for the qualified Dissertation Consultation Service Quality to facilitate your Nebula-esque strut through “Neo Dog” and the heavy psych instrumentalism of the penultimate “Red Return” ahead of “Fool’s Gold,” which rounds out with a surprising post-punk-goes-grunge shimmer.

Concerning their overall craft and range, they are likely a few years ahead of their time, but with the sure presence of groove from bassist Stop asking yourself "business plan buying real estate for me"! We can and we will! Give us a brief information about your needs and stop worrying about it! Anthony Mendolia and drummer  Custom papers for all levels . AllCustomPapers.com provides help in writing factually sound and aesthetically pleasing Extreme Sports Help To Build Character Essay, books reports Tav Palumbo behind  With our http://www.refbejuso.ch/?custom-creative-writing, you can be confident that your papers are flawless: from essay writing to crafting admission papers. Click here for more. Forlenza‘s riffing and airier leads, there is never a misstep when it comes to transitions within and between the songs. This is true even as “Fool’s Gold” hits the brakes on its swirling solo and moves into a doomier slowdown before shifting back toward more molten fare and ultimately capping  Economics Assignment Help and Online Tutoring with write a three paragraph essay, We have pool of qualified and experienced experts, who is ready for solve your Chilling Effect not much with a scorching apex — which they’d be well within their rights to do, given the proceedings as a whole — but with an expanse of residual amp noise and hum, hypnotic in its drone, a lower-end echo and complement to the keyboard flourish that begins the outing in the title cut. One way or another, the name of the record would seem to be no coincidence.

So be it. If the measure of  Essay Writing College Admission See Catalog for Policy on Acceptable Use of Computing Resources, and Policy on the Use of Material in Web Pages. Each offering delves into River Cult‘s sophomore full-length is to be the record’s ability to have an effect of the mood of the listener or at very least its own atmosphere in terms of how one might relate to it, then  Gmat Essay Grading Service - 100% non-plagiarism guarantee of unique essays & papers. professional reports at affordable costs available here will make Chilling Effect can only be considered a success. At the same time, it’s hardly void of movement, even if one counts the most basic level of tempo alongside the shifts from one element of style to another. As “Chilling Effect” emerges from that initial keyboard line, it does so around a fuzzy groove that’s comfortably paced and makes a fitting bed for  Do you need your essay in several hours? Not a problem! Just ask "writing papers for students" and our writers will prepare it for you. Super fast help with any Forlenza‘s proclamations. A doubtful influence, but there’s some of the natural density that drove defunct North Carolinian acts like  Natinal Geographichomework Help Looking for homework writing service for pay someone to do your homework? Scholastic BookFlix is a new online Caltrop and  Black Skies in the aughts, picking up on a nascent heavy Americana that came to fruition in this past decade at the behest of other acts. River Cult never quite touch that line either, but in the wailing guitar and spoken lines that set up the solo as “Chilling Effect” oozes through its midsection, there’s a bluesy shade being drawn just the same.

river cult

In River Cult‘s hands, however, it becomes the foundation of the aforementioned jam, an instrumental outward motion that brings into emphasis the bolder ideology of putting the longest song first on the record — the safe thing to do would be otherwise. As it is, the feedback of “Chilling Effect” fades seamlessly into the creeping opening progression of “Left Hand Path,” which unveils its sludgy sleeze early and holds to it for the duration. Mendolia makes it a high point of low frequencies. Even as the noisy guitar solo arrives late and the drums pick up in kind, the bassline is a repetitive and hypnotic joy, giving further credence to the laid back delivery of the verses before. The rumble resumes after the solo and a cold stop brings to the digital version the arrival of “Neo Dog,” which is something of a departure in being about half as long as the shortest of what surrounds at just 3:11, but makes up for runtime in attitude and its alternating between swing and push, neither refusing to give ground as it winds to a stylized, stage-ready bop of a conclusion.

With that, River Cult put themselves to the task of pushing deeper and deeper into side B. Leads are layered in “Red Return” and the song forms around welcome returns to a drifting line of guitar, quiet and nodding all the more as it starts to meander in blues fashion after four minutes in, coming to a full stop before a snare snap from Palumbo brings the three-piece into a faster closing section, this one marked by a wash of noise that continues in abrasive fashion even after the drums and bass cut out as the guitar seems intent on breaking whatever manner of amplified conveyance it’s being run through.

The initial turn of “Fool’s Gold” is rightfully jarring coming out of that, but as River Cult shift into more densely-toned riffing — recalling the heft of “Left Hand Path” — they do so around a particularly Sleep-y progression, which soon gets translated into a floating lead that becomes the ground for the Forlenza‘s last solo, returning to guide the band through their final quiet stretch ahead of one more dose of mega-fuzz before the last 90 seconds or so drone into an oblivion that comes not with the long fade one might expect, but a sudden, cold finish that stands in defiance of much of Chilling Effect‘s chilling effect. Perhaps that’s the band’s way of shocking their audience out of the trance they’ve incited, but in any case, the prevailing sentiment throughout the 35-minute stretch is one that, even in its most thrillingly savage moments, exudes a casualness and a raw chemistry that can only help earn the attention River Cult are proving to be due.

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River Cult on Instagram

River Cult on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records website

Tee Pee Records Annex website

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Quarterly Review: The Cult of Dom Keller, Grandpa Jack, Woven Man, Charivari, Human Impact, Dryland, Brass Owl, Battle City, Astral Bodies, Satyrus

Posted in Reviews on March 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Ah, the Wednesday of a Quarterly Review. Always a special day in my mind. We hit and pass the halfway point today, and I like the fact that the marker is right in the middle of things, like that sign you pass in Pennsylvania on Rt. 80 that says, “this is the highest point east of the Mississippi,” or whatever it is. Just a kind of, “oh, by the way, in case you didn’t know, there’s this but you’re on your way somewhere else.” And so we are, en route to 50 reviews by Friday. Will we get there? Yeah, of course. I’ve done this like 100 times now, it’s not really in doubt. Sleeping, eating, living: these things are expendable. The Quarterly Review will get done. So let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Cult of Dom Keller, Ascend!

the cult of dom keller ascend

They’re not going quietly, that’s for sure. Except for when they are, at least. The Cult of Dom Keller send their listeners — and, it would seem, themselves — into the howling ether on the exclamatory-titular Ascend!, their fifth LP. Issued through Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud records it brings a bevvy of freakouts in psych-o-slabs like “I Hear the Messiah” and the early-arriving “Hello Hanging Rope” and the building-in-thickness “The Blood Donor Wants His Blood Back,” and the foreboding buzz of “We’re All Fucked (Up),” peppering in effective ambient interludes ahead of what might be some resolution in the closing “Jam for the Sun.” Or maybe that’s just narrative I’m putting to it. Does it matter? Does anything matter? And what is matter? And what is energy? And is there a line between the two or are we all just playing pretend at existence like I-think-therefore-I-am might actually hold water in a universe bigger than our own pea-sized brains. Where do we go from here? Or maybe it’s just the going and not the where? Okay.

The Cult of Dom Keller on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz on Bandcamp

Little Cloud Records on Bandcamp

 

Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie

Grandpa Jack Trash Can Boogie

Brooklynite trio Grandpa Jack are working toward mastery of the thickened midtempo groove on their second EP, Trash Can Boogie. Led by guitarist/vocalist Johnny Strom with backing shouts from drummer Matt C. White and a suitable flow provided by bassist Jared Schapker, the band present a classic-tinged four tracks, showing some jammier psych range in the 7:47 second cut “Untold” but never straying too far from the next hook, as opener “Ride On, Right On” and the almost-proto-metal “Imitation” show. Finishing with “Curmudgeon,” Grandpa Jack ride a fine line between modern fuzz, ’90s melody and ’70s groove idolatry, and part of the fun is trying to figure out which side they’re on at any given point and which side they’ll want to ultimately end up on, or if they’ll decide at all. They have one LP under their collective belt already. I’d be surprised if their next one didn’t garner them more significant attention, let alone label backing, should they want it.

Grandpa Jack on Thee Facebooks

Grandpa Jack on Bandcamp

 

Woven Man, Revelry (In Our Arms)

woven man revelry in our arms

There’s metal in the foundation of what Woven Man are doing on their 2019 debut, Revelry (In Our Arms). And there’s paganism. But they’re by no means “pagan metal” at least in the understood genre terms. The Welsh outfit — featuring guitarist Lee Roy Davies, formerly of Acrimony — cast out soundscapes in their vocal melodies and have no lack of tonal crunch at their disposal when they want it, but as eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) shows, they’re not going to be rigidly defined as one thing or another. One can hear C.O.C. in the riffs during their moments of sneer on “I am Mountain” or the centerpiece highlight “With Willow,” but they never quite embrace the shimmer outright Though they come right to the cusp of doing so on the subsequent “Makers Mark,” but closer “Of Land and Sky” revives a more aggressive push and sets them toward worshiping different idols. Psychedelic metal is a tough, nearly impossible, balance to pull off. I’m not entirely convinced it’s what Woven Man are going for on this first outing, but it’s where they might end up.

Woven Man on Thee Facebooks

Woven Man on Bandcamp

 

Charivari, Descent

charivari descent

Whether drifting mildly through the likes of drone-laden pieces “Down by the Water,” the CD-only title-track or “Alexandria” as they make their way toward the harsh bite at the end of the 11-minute closer “Scavengers of the Wind,” Bath, UK, heavy post-rockers Charivari hold a firm sense of presence and tonal fullness. They’re prone to a wash from leadoff “When Leviathan Dreams” onward, but it’s satisfying to course along with the four-piece for the duration of their journey. Rough spots? Oh, to be sure. “Aphotic” seethes with noisy force, and certainly the aforementioned ending is intended to jar, but that only makes a work like “Lotus Eater,” which ably balances Cure-esque initial lead lines with emergent distortion-crush, that much richer to behold. The moves they make are natural, unforced, and whether they’re trading back and forth in volume or fluidly, willfully losing themselves in a trance of effects, the organic and ethereal aspects of their sound never fail to come through in terms of melody even as a human presence is maintained on vocals. When “Down by the Water” hits its mark, it is positively encompassing. Headphones were built for this.

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Worst Bassist Records on Bandcamp

 

Human Impact, Human Impact

human impact human impact

Bit of a supergroup here, at least in the underrated-New-York-art-noise sphere of things. Vocals and riffy crunch provided by the masterful Chris Spencer (formerly of Unsane), while Cop Shoot Cop‘s Jim Coleman adds much-welcome electronic flourish, Swans/Xiu Xiu bassist Chris Pravdica provides low end and the well-if-he-can-handle-drumming-for-Swans-he-can-handle-anything Phil Puleo (also Cop Shoot Cop) grounds the rhythm. Presented through Ipecac, the four-piece’s declarative self-titled debut arrives through Ipecac very much as a combination of the elements of which it is comprised, but the atmosphere brought to the proceedings by Coleman set against Spencer‘s guitar isn’t to be understated. The two challenge each other in “E605” and the off-to-drone “Consequences” and the results are to everyone’s benefit, despite the underlying theme of planetary desolation. Whoops on that one, but at least we get the roiling chaos and artful noise of “This Dead Sea” out of it, and that’s not nothing. Predictable? In parts, but so was climate change if anyone would’ve fucking listened.

Human Impact on Thee Facebooks

Ipecac Recordings store

 

Dryland, Dances with Waves

dryland dances with waves

The nautically-themed follow-up to Bellingham, Washington, progressive heavy/noise/post-hardcore rockers Dryland‘s 2017 self-titled debut album, the four-song Dances with Waves EP finds the thoughtful and melodic riffers working alongside producer/engineer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, etc.) on a recording that loses none of its edge for its deft changes of rhythm and shifts in vocals. There’s some influence from Elder maybe in terms of the guitar on “No Celestial Hope” and the finale “Between the Testaments,” but by the time the seven-minute capper is done, it’s full-on Pacific Northwest noise crunch, crashing its waves of riffs and stomp against the shore of your eardrums in demand of as much volume as you’ll give it. Between those two, “Exalted Mystics” moves unsuspectingly through its first half and seems to delve into semi-emo-if-emo-was-about-sailing-and-death theatrics in its second, while “The Sound a Sword Adores” distills the alternating drive and sway down to its barest form, a slowdown later setting up the madness soon to arrive in “Between the Testaments.”

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Dryland on Bandcamp

 

Brass Owl, State of Mind

brass owl state of mind

Brass Owl foster on their self-released debut full-length, State of Mind, a brand of heavy rock that maintains a decidedly straightforward face while veering at the same time into influences from grunge, ’70s rock, the better end of ’80s metal and probably one or two current hard or heavy rock bands. You might catch a tinge of Five Horse Johnson-style blues on “No Filter – Stay Trendy” or the particularly barroom-ready “Jive Turkey,” which itself follows the funkier unfolding jam-into-shredfest of “The Legend of FUJIMO,” and the earlier “Hook, Line & Sinker” has trucker-rock all over it, but through it all, the defining aspect of the work is its absolute lack of pretense. These guys — there would seem to have been three when they recorded, there are two now; so it goes — aren’t trying to convince you of their intelligence, or their deep-running stylistic nuance. They’re not picking out riffs from obscure ’80s indie records or even ’70s private press LPs. They’re having a good time putting traditionalist-style rock songs together, messing around stylistically a bit, and they’ve got nine songs across 43 minutes ready to roll for anyone looking for that particular kind of company. If that’s you, great. If it ain’t, off you go to the next one.

Brass Owl website

Brass Owl on Bandcamp

 

Battle City, Press Start

Battle City Press Start

From even before you press play on Press Start, the 22-minute debut release from South Africa’s Battle City, the instrumental duo make their love of gaming readily apparent. Given that they went so far as to call one song “Ram Man” and that it seems just as likely as not that “Ignition” and “Ghost Dimension” are video game references as well, it’s notable that guitarist/bassist Stian “Lightning Fingers Van Tonder” Maritz and drummer Wayne “Thunder Flakes” Hendrikz didn’t succumb to the temptation of bringing any electronic sounds to the six-song offering. Even in “Ghost Dimension,” which is the closer and longest track by about three minutes, they keep it decidedly straightforward in terms of arrangements and resist any sort of chiptune elements, sticking purely to guitar, bass and drums. There’s a touch of the progressive to the leadoff title-track and to the soaring lead “Ignotion,” but Press Start does likewise in setting the band’s foundation in a steady course of heavy rock and metal, to the point that if you didn’t know they were gaming-inspired by looking at the cover art or the titles, there’d be little to indicate that’s where they were coming from. I wouldn’t count myself among them, but those clamoring for beeps and boops and other 8-bit nonsense will be surprised. For me, the riffs’ll do just fine, thanks.

Battle City on Thee Facebooks

Battle City on Bandcamp

 

Astral Bodies, Escape Death

Astral Bodies Escape Death

Spacious, varied and progressive without losing their heft either of tone or presence, Manchester, UK, trio Astral Bodies debut on Surviving Sounds with Escape Death, working mostly instrumentally — they do sneak some vocals into the penultimate “Pale Horse” — to affect an atmosphere of cosmic heavy that’s neither indebted to nor entirely separate from post-metal. Droning pieces like the introductory “Neptune,” or the joyous key-laced wash of the centerpiece “Orchidaeae,” or even “Pale Horse,” act as spacers between longer cuts, and they’re purposefully placed not to overdo symmetry so as to make Escape Death‘s deceptively-efficient 36-minute runtime predictable. It’s one more thing the three-piece do right, added to the sense of rawness that comes through in the guitar tone even as effects and synth seem to surround and provide a context that would be lush if it still weren’t essentially noise rock. Cosmic noise? The push of “Oumuamua” sure is, if anything might be. Classify it however you want — it’s fun when it’s difficult! — but it’s a striking record either way, and engages all the more as a first long-player.

Astral Bodies on Thee Facebooks

Surviving Sounds on Thee Facebooks

 

Satyrus, Rites

satyrus rites

Following its three-minute chanting intro, Satyrus let opener and longest track (immediate points) “Black Satyrus” unfold its cultish nod across an eight minutes that leads the way into the rest of their debut album, Rites, perhaps more suitably than the intro ever could. The building blocks that the Italian unit are working from are familiar enough — Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, maybe even some Slayer in the faster soloing of second cut “Shovel” — but that doesn’t make the graveyard-dirt-covered fuzz of “Swirl” or the noisefest that ensues in “Stigma” or subsequent “Electric Funeral”-ist swing any less satisfying, or the dug-in chug of bookending nine-minute closer “Trailblazer.” Hell, if it’s a retread, at least they’re leaving footprints, and it’s not like Satyrus are trying to tell anyone they invented Tony Iommi‘s riff. It’s a mass by the converted for the converted. I’d ask nothing more of it than that and neither should you.

Satyrus on Thee Facebooks

Satyrus on Bandcamp

 

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Album Review: Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Posted in Reviews on March 3rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

insect ark the vanishing

At the core of Insect Ark is Brooklyn-based composer/multi-instrumentalist Dana Schechter, who is and has been the driving force and the creative spearhead of the instrumentalist project since its inception circa 2011. Over the subsequent years and across now-three full-lengths — the latest, The Vanishing (on Profound Lore), was preceded by 2018’s Marrow Hymns (discussed here) and  2015’s Portal/Well (review here) — Schechter has brought to light a deeply progressive and at times decidedly grim vision of post-psychedelic heft. Her work has never sounded more encompassing than it does on The Vanishing, which comprises six songs and runs 41 minutes and was recorded in New York by Colin Marston (of Behold… the Arctopus! and others), and it takes a decisive forward step in expressive from where Schechter was even two years ago. There are a thousand wax-poetry ways to put it, but primarily, what it comes down to is that it’s different.

And well it should be. Where Portal/Well was a purely solo outing, Schechter — whose pedigree includes past and present stints in Swans as well as groups like M. Gira‘s Angels of Light, the underrated Bee and Flower, etc. — subsequently brought in drummer Ashley Spungin to facilitate touring. Spungin contributed to Marrow Hymns but has since been replaced by Andy Patterson (formerly of SubRosa, currently also in The Otolith and Døne), who plays a significant role in the form that the pieces throughout The Vanishing take. That is true when he’s there, as in the opener “Tectonic,” when a steady popping snare serves to underscore the low-end swell of Schechter‘s bass and the accompanying synthesized/effects noise and guitar, and when he’s not there, as in the keyboard-experimental cinema drone of “Swollen Sun” or the prior the wistful and minimalist slide guitar echoes that launch “Danube,” duly evocative of water running as they are. Rest assured, a roll takes hold in “Danube” as well, about halfway into its seven-minute stretch, but it is ultimately in the fluidity of its atmosphere that the presumed side B opener makes its bulk of its impact, and indeed, it’s atmosphere that is most central to Insect Ark‘s third album as a whole.

There are almost two levels on which The Vanishing is functioning at any given time, and in that way, “Tectonic” sets up the course of what’s to come well. At the forefront of the mix is guitar — pedal steel? sometimes maybe — and bass and drums. Even the cymbal washes that populate the open spaces of the 10-minute closing title-track are meant to be forward in their impact; they’re leading the way gradually and patiently through a noise-laden drone-out and back to a more cohesive post-metallic progression that builds to the final apex of the record — so it goes. But beneath those elements, there’s another, broader and more experimentalist path that The Vanishing takes, as Schechter weaves in various noises and effects, synth, maybe-keyboard and who the hell knows what else, and in those details and the stretches where the one plays out virtually on top of the other that this incarnation of Insect Ark seem to be establishing the root of their approach.

Insect Ark (Photo by Chris Carlone)

The narrative (blessings and peace upon it) has it that Schechter and Patterson put these songs together quickly ahead of touring with Oranssi Pazuzu last October, and if it’s the experience of playing them live that has helped them develop the multifaceted character they have, then the crashes and thuds and general crush of “Three Gates” would only seem to be better for it, even if one wouldn’t necessarily expect Insect Ark to follow a similar directive next time out. You’ll note that in three records, Schechter‘s approach and/or collaborations have yet to settle. Whether or not Patterson is a “permanent” member of her project — whatever logistical nightmares her being in New York and his being in Salt Lake City might inspire; the internet is a thing, but still — I have no idea. The only thing to go on is The Vanishing itself, and for the apparent lack of time they had to put them together, the songs they’ve constructed don’t sound anything near rushed either in how they’re built or how they’re played — “Three Gates” and “Philae” and certainly follow “Tectonic” with a tension of their own, but it’s meant to be there — but on the most basic terms, the only thing evident in the Schechter/Patterson creative partnership is potential. They are obviously working off each other’s strengths here.

That too might come from having put The Vanishing together after getting off tour, but it’s part of the album’s personality just the same and thus part of the band’s. That said, a casual listener taking on Insect Ark for the first time doesn’t necessarily need to know any of this. Who’s Dana Schechter? Who’s Andy Patterson? Who recorded? When? Where? Why? It is entirely possible to hear “Swollen Sun” or build of “Philae” and the repetitions of “Three Gates” and be wholly consumed by them purely on their merit as songs, and as The Vanishing only pushes farther out as its moves toward that last crescendo in the title-track — which, yes, ends cold enough to be vanishing suddenly; the root bassline still reminiscent of a “Stones From the Sky” moment even though it caps at the end of a measure rather than within one — it is only more immersive as it goes, and the abiding darkness of the atmosphere is unrelenting.

It is not a record so much of-a-place as of-a-non-place, and so its title seems fitting on that level as well, but it is inherently of the moment in which it was made, and so while it may vanish for at least as long as it takes to put it on again, it nonetheless gracefully presents the what may or may not be the beginning stages of a new phase for Insect Ark in terms of the general mission of the project. An key component of Schechter‘s work — and an appeal of it, frankly — to this point has been a lack of predictability for what might come next, and even should her collaboration with Patterson continue, the same applies. A third record might commonly be where a given band executes the closest realization to-date of what they intended at their founding. Insect Ark would seem to be the other kind of band, for whom the evolution is its own end. Whatever will or won’t follow, The Vanishing is an essential means to that end.

Insect Ark, The Vanishing (2020)

Insect Ark website

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Insect Ark on Bandcamp

Profound Lore Records website

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Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest 2020 Announces New York Show for May 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

heavy psych sounds fest 2020 new york banner crop

Don’t act like you didn’t see it coming — and not just because they hate that in New York. Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds spread its Fest-y wings along the Pacific Coast last year pretty wide and pretty successfully, so yeah, an Eastern Seaboard date didn’t at all seem out of the question. And you’re doing East Coast, assuming you can get a venue, you’re probably doing NYC. Would I surprised if a Philly date followed or preceded? Nope, especially with High Reeper and Ruby the Hatchet on the bill here, as that’s where they’re based. But you know, one thing at a time. As if.

To be held at the Knitting Factory, the first Heavy Psych Sounds Fest in New York will take place May 23 with Ruby the Hatchet getting their due as headliners and playing alongside High ReeperGeezer — who’ll use the occasion to mark the release of their new album, Groovy — Gozu down from Boston and working their next record, and The Golden Grass, who I hear tell also have new material. If you can remember it afterward, it’s going to be a night to remember.

At some point — and I’m not necessarily looking forward to it — I’m going to have to start referring to Heavy Psych Sounds, which already hosts festivals in L.A. and San Francisco in California as well as in Paris, London, Antwerp and the Netherlands and Switzerland,  as a “Roman empire.” We’re getting close. Just to let you know. One more might do it.

Here’s info from the PR wire. Tickets on sale Friday:

heavy psych sounds fest 2020 new york

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST TO CONQUER NEW YORK IN MAY 2020

Due to the massive success and participation of the heavy rock scene with fans from all over Europe, HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS has just announced to expand and will be running the highly acclaimed FESTS also in NEW YORK on May 23rd !!

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST – NEW YORK
May 23rd, 2020

Brooklyn @ Knitting Factory

featuring
RUBY THE HATCHET
HIGH REEPER
GEEZER*
GOZU
THE GOLDEN GRASS

*Release party of the brand new album Groovy !!

TICKETS ON SALE FRIDAY 13th:
https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/fests.htm

heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

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Nerveshatter Release “Homecomings” Single; West Coast Dates this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Three and a half minutes! Perfect for radio! Seriously, imagine that for a minute. I mean, just because I’m thinking about it, I’m going to hop on Nerveshatter‘s Bandcamp page and grab their new single and play it on the next edition of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio, but I mean signal FM broadcast radio. Imagine if actual, tune in, live DJs were playing this kind of thing. Imagine a whole commercial station based around something so weighted and purposefully abrasive. Imagine it thriving.

If you believe in the theory of infinite universes, where every action that’s ever been undertaken by a person, place or thing creates a new reality, that universe must exist somewhere. So does a universe wherein I express that idea more coherently. I wonder what those universes are like.

Nerveshatter head to Arizona and California later this month for a round of shows with Drainage, so the new single is timely, and they’ll be supporting Spotlights at Elsewhere in Brooklyn on Feb. 11. I haven’t been to Elsewhere yet, but it’s getting a lot of shows, so I kind of expect sooner or later I’ll make my way. Something new. Terrifying.

There’s also a universe where I don’t have anxiety issues.

See how fun that is?

Song is streaming below. Enjoy:

nerveshatter homecomings

NERVESHATTER – NEW SINGLE! Out NOW

We give you: “HOMECOMINGS”

Hear it, download it, and share it at Bandcamp NOW. Coming to all platforms soon. Recorded and mixed by Nerveshatter and Neil Cote in Somerville, NJ sometime in 2019. Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music.

lyrics
Took a long road out of hell, man. Bled and sweat all sorrow out of me. Peace is just a passer-by, seems like only out of spite… Godhole, bottomless. Leopard spots, last forever. Changes are suffering. Time might heal, will not sever. Done it before, will again. Circle, pattern, what you will… Wishful thinking that is riddance, we can only trust the pain. I need not, yet go back. Needlepoint. Masochist.

http://nerveshattermusic.bandcamp.com/track/homecomings

To go along with this release we will be taking to the road. The first set will take place on our maiden voyage to the West Coast as a band:

01-30-2020 – Phoenix, AZ
01-31-2020 – Long Beach, CA
02-01-2020 – Chico, CA
02-02-2020 – Oakland, CA
All shows with: Drainage

Followed by:
02-11-2020 – Brooklyn, NY at Zone One at Elsewhere with: Spotlights and Semaphore

Nerveshatter is:
Richard Bukowski – guitars
Tim Haney – drums
Jonathan Cohn – bass
Jan Solo – vocals

https://www.facebook.com/nerveshattermusic
https://www.instagram.com/nerveshattermusic/
https://nerveshattermusic.bandcamp.com/

Nerveshatter, “Homecomings”

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2019

Posted in Features on December 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk best of 2019

[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.]

Make no mistake, my friends. 2019 was the year it went off the rails.

Every 12-month period brings a lot of records, and they all seem overwhelming, but this was the first year I’ve ever felt quite so helpless when it came time to sit down and actually make my list. Of course, I keep running notes all year long, but even so, ordering everything, bringing it all together? What a mess.

I almost thought of breaking it down into smaller lists in addition to the big one, subgrouped by style. But then, where does doom end and sludge begin? What about psych and heavy rock? Should prog get its own list? And what the hell counts as prog?

In the end, that didn’t seem like it would be doing me any favors, so we’ll stick with the one big list and then others for debut releases and another for EPs, splits, demos and so on. You know, the usual.

Pretty sure I say this every year too, but it bears repeating: if you read any of the below — and thanks if you do — and have a response, be nice. If I’ve forgotten something — and yes, I have; I’m sure of it — that you think needs to be included, and you want to leave a comment that says so, please, by all means. But keep it civil. I know people are passionate about this stuff and so am I, but consider there are probably over 200 offerings covered here by the time you get through all the lists and honorable mentions, and I’m one person. I’m doing my best, and though I try not to, I tend to take being called a dumbass personally. So yeah, chill out and please be constructive in calling me a dumbass. Words matter.

A few hard choices here, most especially for album of the year. I was back and forth with each of the top three in the top spot for a good long while, and it might change again between now and when this post goes up. But it’s been that kind of year. In 2018, there was no question. It was Sleep all the way. The question was what came after that. This year has been different without that kind of duh, punch-in-the-face obvious pick. Relative parity isn’t a bad thing though.

Enough delay. The usual parameters apply. These are a combo of my personal listening habits and what I think are the most important records/achievements of the year, critical importance, etc.

Here we go:

The Top 50 Albums of 2019

#50-31

50. Hazemaze, Hymns of the Damned
49. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
48. Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree, Grandmother
47. PH, Osiris Hayden
46. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
45. Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light
44. Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport
43. Swallow the Sun, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light
42. Caustic Casanova, God How I Envy the Deaf
41. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Tre
40. SÂVER, They Came With Sunlight
39. Ogre, Thrice as Strong
38. Lamp of the Universe, Align in the Fourth Dimension
37. Vokonis, Grasping Time
36. Sacri Monti, Waiting Room for the Magic Hour
35. Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds
34. Duel, Valley of Shadows
33. Orodruin, Ruins of Eternity
32. Zaum, Divination
31. Inter Arma, Sulphur English

Notes: Honestly, if this had been the top 20 of the year, I’d still call 2019 a win. Aside from the fact that I somehow thought Caustic Casanova would enjoy coming in a number 42, the sheer quality of this stuff should tell you what kind of year 2019 was. Inter Arma’s Sulphur English was a significant achievement in genre melding, and Orodruin’s return after more than a decade since their last LP was a masterclass in doom worship. Debut albums from SÂVER and Thunderbird Divine and Lightning Born showed marked promise of things to come — and there’s more on them below as well — while Zaum’s, Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree’s and Lamp of the Universe’s meditations, Vokonis’ noise, Abrahma’s emotive progressivisim, Swallow the Sun’s melodic melancholy, Sacri Monti’s boogie, and whatever the hell PH were doing on Osiris Hayden remind just how much the word “heavy” can encompass. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, Duel and Uffe Lorenzen and Hazemaze were musts here, and Ogre are perennial favorites whose work always brings a doomly grin. Don’t sleep on any of it.

30. Sun Blood Stories, Haunt Yourself

sun blood stories haunt yourself

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 6.

Until they put out a complementary follow-up record of such fare, one might’ve accused Idaho three-piece Sun Blood Stories of becoming less experimentalist/droned-out/noisy on Haunt Yourself, but they seem to have met their quota one way or the other with the Oct. 2019 advent of Static Sessions Vol. 1. Still, it’s melody, heavy post-rock/psychedelic drift and emotive soul that rule the day on the crushing and enriching Haunt Yourself, and no complaints from me on that.

29. Church of the Cosmic Skull, Everybody’s Going to Die

Church of the Cosmic Skull Everybodys Going to Die

Released by Septaphonic Records. Reviewed Dec. 10.

I don’t have to do anything more than read the name of the album to have the chorus of the title-track stuck in my head, and it’s a reminder that although the Nottingham troupe put so much into their progressive style and vocal harmonies and arrangements, and a more conceptual theme in the case of Everybody’s Going to Die — their answer to 2018’s excellent Science Fiction (review here) — their roots are in songcraft, and it’s the foundation of songcraft that lets them soar. Would be higher on the list if it weren’t so new.

28. Devil to Pay, Forever, Never or Whenever

devil to pay forever never or whenever

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Nov. 4.

With their sixth album, Indianapolis’ Devil to Pay collect 10 tracks of unpretentious-almost-to-a-fault of straightforward heavy rock songwriting that continues to be woefully underappreciated. They have become utterly reliable in that regard — you know, to a certain extent, what’s coming — but the vocals of guitarist Steve Janiak (also Apostle of Solitude) and some more metallic turns to the riffing give Forever, Never or Whenever a subtlety that holds up all the more on repeat visits. I don’t know if Devil to Pay will ever get their due, but suffice it to say, they’re due.

27. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds

howling giant the space between worlds

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Oct. 11.

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when the first Playstation came out and everyone looked around at their Nintendos and Segas like, “What the hell am I messing around with Mario Golf for? I could be playing Resident Evil!” That’s kind of what Howling Giant are as compared to “regular” rock bands. They’re the Playstation of heavy: that next progressive step forward carrying an inhuman amount of swagger and personality while still delivering a stepped-up product from their would-be peers. The scariest thing about The Space Between Worlds is it’s their first LP. One looks forward to the next generation.

26. Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus

saint vitus saint vitus

Released by Season of Mist. Reviewed March 19.

I know for a fact that bassist Pat Bruders and drummer Henry Vasquez had a hand in writing some of the material on Saint Vitus’ second self-titled LP, and yet the album so much bears the indelible mark of guitarist Dave Chandler that it’s hard not to think of it all as his. The album marked their first release with original singer Scott Reagers since 1995’s Die Healing (discussed here) and featured among their trademark low-tuned slog, an actual punk song, which showed the grinning glee that underlies all they do. Four decades on, Saint Vitus sound like they’re having fun. How is that not a win?

25. Ealdor Bealu, Spirit of the Lonely Places

ealdor bealu spirit of the lonely places

Self-released. Reviewed July 10.

Woodsy Rocky Mountain psychedelia abounded on Boise foursome Ealdor Bealu’s second full-length, and their blend of landscape meditations and grounded heavy progressive melodicism made Spirit of the Lonely Places as much about impact as about space, though of course the real joy was the experience of the entirety. Very much a sophomore album, it learned lessons from 2017’s Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain (review here) that one only hopes the band will continue to push forward in scope as they so gracefully did here.

24. Yatra, Death Ritual

yatra death ritual

Released through Grimoire Records. Discussed Nov. 13, 2018..

Though hard- and to-date quick-working Maryland trio Yatra have already moved on and are looking ahead to releasing their second album, Blood of the Night (review here), their Grimoire-delivered debut, Death Ritual, is impossible to ignore for the impact it had on reminding listeners of the impact that primeval extreme sludge can have. Another couple tours and some bigger label — Relapse, Prosthetic, eOne, Season of Mist, whoever — will decide they’re “ready,” whatever that means, and then sign them and I won’t be cool enough to do track premieres for them anymore, but as far as accolades go, Yatra earn whatever they get and Death Ritual stands among 2019’s most landmark debuts. They’ve already outdone it, but it’s a stunner just the same.

23. Ecstatic Vision, For the Masses

ecstatic vision for the masses

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Sept. 17.

Ecstatic Vision frontman Doug Sabolik has cast himself in the mold of Arthur Brown or Dave Wyndorf or probably seven or eight dudes who were in Hawkwind at some point as a manic-but-stoned space rock preacher with as he and his band behind him plunge headfirst-or-feetfirst-it-doesn’t-matter-because-your-body-is-an-illusion-man into the molten multicolor void. For the Masses. The ‘masses,’ such as they are, should be so lucky, but the double-meaning is the real tell for where the Philly unit are coming from. Their shows are the masses — gatherings of spirit and song to give praise to the willful expansion of mind. If you can’t get behind that, you might as well go get a job or something. This ain’t no lightweight party for squares and dabblers. This is a high-potency happening for werewolves on motorcycles and freaks of all stripes. Get weird stay weird. Ecstatic Vision are one mostly-mellow 15-minute “Spine of God”-style psych-epic away from perfection.

22. Beastwars, IV

beastwars iv

Released by Destroy Records. Reviewed June 27.

But for the circumstances that brought it about — i.e. Beastwars vocalist Matt Hyde’s cancer — the unexpected fourth installment in the Beastwars trilogy was nothing if not welcome. An grand-feeling sense of largesse was nothing new to the New Zealand four-piece, but after breaking up and getting back together to make the album, the grim sincerity with which they presented this exploration of mortality and betrayal by one’s own body was no less palpable than the undulating riffs that threatened, as ever, to consume all in their path. I don’t know their future plans in terms of continuing to write and/or record, but there are reports of touring beyond Aus/NZ for 2020, so one way or another, stay tuned for more from them. Whether or not they do anything else, IV was a triumph in spirit and execution.

21. Eternal Black, Slow Burn Suicide

eternal black slow burn suicide

Self-released. Reviewed June 7.

With the nine songs of Slow Burn Suicide, Brooklyn’s Eternal Black began to unveil the true depth of their project. Their 2017 debut, Bleed the Days (review here), was well received, and rightly so, but operated more in a straight-ahead doom sphere. The second outing, by contrast, delved into a particular vision of the style informed by the crunch of peak-era New York noise and crossover hardcore, and it succeeded not just because it did this, but because it did so around a conjuration of memorable riffs and tracks building on accomplishments carried over from its predecessor. Is this an awaited arrival of next-generation ‘New York doom’? Will theirs be a blueprint others will follow? It’s impossible to know now, and their next album will be telling either way, but the course they’ve set is significant.

20. Candlemass, The Door to Doom

candlemass the door to doom

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed Feb. 22.

It may have been the Tony Iommi guest appearance that got Swedish doom legends Candlemass — the world’s earliest and foremost purveyors of doom both classic and epic — their recent Grammy nomination, but it was the long-overdue reunion with original vocalist Johan Längquist that made the album as a whole as powerful as it was. Pairing Längquist’s theatrical and vital approach with founding bassist Leif Edling’s second-to-none doomcraft, The Door to Doom was a catapult not to the bygone days of the band’s landmark debut, 1986’s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, but an inspired look at not just what might’ve been had Längquist remained with the band longer, but what might still be if he does this time around. Candlemass have been through their share of singers, but as fresh as The Door to Doom sounded, it’s hard not to hope for something more than a one-off with he who got there first. The songs, the spirit, the sheer heart poured into Candlemass’ doom some 35 years past the band’s start only emphasizes how special they have always been.

19. Nebula, Holy Shit

nebula holy shit

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed June 13.

Anyone who might’ve predicted Nebula getting into the studio and making a new album was either in the room when it happened or talking out their ass. And speaking of, was Nebula’s Holy Shit named for the shock one might’ve felt at its existence, or the surprise at how good it actually sounded when you put it on? I don’t know. I probably won’t ever know. It was the best title I saw all year, but more than that, it was a Nebula record, fueled by the classic riffing and unmitigated desert punk soul of founding/guitarist Eddie Glass, whose absence from the heavy underground for the last decade left a void only too many others whiffed on filling. Holy Shit showed just how singular a player Glass was and is, and how much character there is in his style, particularly in solos, but also in rhythmic changes, and so on. I won’t discount the work of bassist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster in making Nebula what they are in this incarnation — they’re essential, obviously — but there’s simply no denying that presence at the band’s core.

18. Valley of the Sun, Old Gods

valley of the sun old gods

Released by Fuzzorama Records. Reviewed May 21.

This was a heavy rock record that had everything. Everything. It had songs, style, ups, down, purples, greens, ins, outs, all kinds of whathaveyou. Riffs forever. Valley of the Sun should keep their eyes on Sasquatch, because if they want it, that path is theirs. I know the Cincinnati outfit have had trouble keeping lineups together, but if they can hold onto one, and maybe after their next record start touring more, domestically and abroad — not at all a minor ask, I know — then people will catch on. Old Gods is evidence of the fact that they genuinely have something to offer, and frankly, it’s not at all the first such effective case they’ve made in their career. But they’ve never put anything out that wasn’t a step forward, and yet they’ve never lost sight of the roots of their initial inspiration. And they’ve never sacrificed the song for the riff, which so many do. They’ve only ever gotten better. Let Old Gods be a step toward them getting attention they’ve long since deserved.

17. Kadavar, For the Dead Travel Fast

Kadavar For the Dead Travel Fast

Released by Nuclear Blast. Reviewed Oct. 28.

In style and production, For the Dead Travel Fast is the most vintage-sounding offering Berlin trio Kadavar have made in over a half decade, yet neither is it looking backward wistfully toward 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) or giving up the modern clarity of 2017’s Rough Times (review here) or 2015’s Berlin (review here). Instead, it strikes a balance with a more sinister edge à la Uncle Acid in songs like “Children of the Night” and “Demons in My Mind” — both singles — and makes a home for itself between proto-metal and garage doom. Whatever genre tag you want to give it — and that might vary from track to track, mind you — it’s unmistakably Kadavar, with the signature hooks and memorable craftsmanship that have made them one of the decade’s most pivotal heavy bands. The real challenge at this point in their career is not to take for granted that Kadavar will produce material of such quality, because, frankly, that’s all they’ve ever done.

16. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, Yn Ol I Annwn

mammoth weed wizard bastard yn ol i annwn

Released by New Heavy Sounds. Reviewed Feb. 7.

Welsh sci-fi cosmic doomers Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard billed Yn Ol I Annwn as the final installment of a trilogy that includes their two prior LPs, 2015’s Noeth Ac Anoeth (review here) and 2016’s Y Proffwyd Dwyll (review here), and while that may be true thematically, there’s also no question the third is a marked step forward from anything they’ve done before. They’re one foot out of the airlock and into space as their synth-laden longform riffing and melodies take them to places they’ve not yet gone, explorations of sight as much as sound, aural translation of colors humans aren’t gifted to see. Their songs across the 65-minute span unfold with the grace of a gravity spiral, pulling the listener deeper into the proceedings with each new phase that emerges until, what, obliteration? Stellar genesis? I’m not sure. They’ve reportedly got one more record to make and then they’re done. If that’s true, they’ll be missed then they’re gone.

15. Magic Circle, Departed Souls

magic circle departed souls

Released by 20 Buck Spin. Reviewed April 3.

They’ve found their way to die, and it’s upon an altar of classic metal and doom. And honestly, they make a pretty good case for it. Departed Souls is the third full-length from the Boston unit and their most stylistically realized work yet, with vocalist Brendan Radigan giving a standout performance alongside the guitars of Chris Corry and Renato Montenegro, the bass of Justin DeTore and Michael “Q” Quartulli’s drums, as the entire band taps into vibes from mid-’70s Black Sabbath and brings them to bear with an energy that is unlike anything in Magic Circle’s history. 2015’s Journey Blind (review here) brought in NWOBHM flash in the guitar work, sure enough, but Departed Souls doesn’t so much carry the torch of classic metal as it does use it to burn down the whole village and rebuild it in the five-piece’s image. From their doomed beginnings on their 2013 self-titled debut (review here) to now, they’re an act who’ve genuinely earned cult status. If you can find a backpatch, buy it.

14. Spaceslug, Reign of the Orion

Spaceslug Reign of the Orion cover

Released by BSFD Records. Reviewed Nov. 22.

Controversy! Drama! Well, probably not, but at very least some respectful disagreement on my part. You see, Poland’s Spaceslug have stated publicly that their latest release, the late-2019 surprise Reign of the Orion is an EP. Their albums regularly top 50 minutes, and at 36 minutes, I guess relative to that, you can see where they’re coming from. However, with the flow of these five songs and the ease with which they carry the listener from front-to-back through the listening experience, I’m sticking to my guns and calling Reign of the Orion an album. Sorry guys. True, it’s shorter than the other full-lengths, but it’s got everything you could ask an album to have in terms of how tracks like “Spacerunner” and the shouty “Half-Moon Burns” play into each other, and the fluidity of the outing on the whole is inarguable. An LP by any other name? Whatever you or they want to call it, there’s no question in my mind Reign of the Orion is one of 2019’s best records. If they insist on it being an EP, then it’s the best one of the year, but I still say it belongs in another category altogether, so here it is.

13. Green Lung, Woodland Rites

green lung woodland rites

Released by Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed Jan. 28.

As hyper-crowded as London is with bands at this moment in history, there continue to be acts who sneak through with an individualized and intriguing perspective on doom and heavy rock, and Green Lung are a perfect example, learning from fellow Brits like Alunah and Elephant Tree and incorporating folk and forest goth vibes to their debut album, Woodland Rites. Laced with organ and stuck-in-the-head choruses like “Let the Devil In” and the creeper “Templar Dawn,” the record also pushed into drifting verses on “Into the Wild,” setting up future experimentation with atmospheric variety and genre manipulation. If part of any first album’s appeal is the potential it represents, Green Lung’s offers plenty, but wherever their subsequent course may or may not take them, their accomplishments here shouldn’t be overlooked. Woodland Rites is nothing less than the heavy rock debut album of the year, and though they emerge from a packed field, the work they do to stand themselves out already carries their mark and an apparent will toward progression. They’re on their way.

12. Lo-Pan, Subtle

lo-pan subtle

Released by Aqualamb Records. Reviewed May 9.

My head immediately goes to the hooks of “Ten Days” and “Ascension Day” and “Savage Heart,” but the up-down surges of guitar in “Old News/New Fire” and the midtempo soulfulness in “A Thousand Miles” are no less resonant when it comes to the actual listening experience of the fifth Lo-Pan LP. Subtle, when it came to living up to its name, as much wasn’t as it was. Flourishes of harmony in the vocals of Jeff Martin, the pops in Jesse Bartz’s snare punctuating and propelling in kind, turns in Scott Thompson’s bass work twisting around the guitar of Chris Thompson, a relative newcomer to the fold making his debut with the band and showing no apparent trouble fitting in. I don’t imagine Lo-Pan is an easy band to join, especially at this point. They thrive on personality clash and, through years of touring, have a chemistry they’ve built between them that comes through even on their recordings. Nonetheless, Subtle is their clearest, sharpest-edged work yet, and as tight as their songwriting has become, they still groove and groove mightily. They are a treasure of American heavy rock and roll. Believe it.

11. Roadsaw, Tinnitus the Night

roadsaw tinnitus the night

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 12.

While members of Roadsaw have spent the intervening years in projects like Kind, White Dynomite, Sasquatch and Murcielago, the Boston heavy rock kingpins have indeed been missed, and Tinnitus the Night works quickly to show why. It’s been well over 20 years since their first LP — hell, it’s been eight since they put out their 2011 self-titled (review here) — but their craft is at its own level, and Tinnitus the Night comes barreling through with “Shake” and “Along for the Ride” and “Final Phase” before opening up to broader fare on side B with “Find What You Need,” “Under the Devil’s Thumb” and “Midazolam” ahead of the subdued finale “Silence,” and the result is nothing less than a classic heavy rock LP structure as befitting what is itself a classic heavy rock LP. What’s Roadsaw’s future? I don’t know. It took them the better part of a decade to make this one happen, so take from that what you will, but to me, all it says is there’s even more reason to be grateful they got it done and out. To say the songs deserve that is putting it mildly.

10. Worshipper, Light in the Wire

worshipper light in the wire

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed April 24.

I’m not doing a ‘song of the year’ post, but if I was, Worshipper’s “Coming Through” might be it. The opening track from the Boston four-piece’s second album, Light in the Wire, marries classic pop drama in its melody with careening progressive riffing, and sets the tone for a record that is of both future and past, twistingly complex and yet immediately accessible, immersive as an entirety and still comprised of standout moments. These aren’t contradictions in Worshipper’s skillful hands, but the stuff of what’s already becoming their own take on rock. Tied together through melody, skillful rhythmic intricacy and solid structural foundations, “Light in the Wires,” “Visions from Beyond,” “Wither on the Vine” and others throughout post their own triumphs en route to enhancing the album as a whole, while “Nobody Else” and closer “Arise” underscore the emotive basis from which the perspective of the whole LP emanates. There are a lot of “next-gen” heavy rock bands out there weaving prog elements and traditional riffing together to some degree or other. Few, if any, can write a song like Worshipper can. I mean it. This band is something special.

9. Solace, The Brink

solace the brink

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Nov. 21.

What is there to say about Solace? A band who, nine years after revealing the expectation-slaughtering masterpiece A.D. (review here), return with three-fifths of a swapped-out lineup and simply do it again? This band is explosive. Really. Like, they might explode at any minute. It’s a miracle The Brink ever happened. I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. But Solace are a force like nothing else I’ve ever encountered in music. They take metallic aggression, hardcore’s sense of self-righteousness and heavy rock’s groove, set it all to a doomly swing and they play it in such a way as to leave you utterly dumbfounded by what you just experienced. Here’s a challenge though, for the band personally. From me to them. Do another one. Go ahead. Put out another album. You don’t even have to do it in 2020. Do it 2021. Write the songs and give me a no-holds-barred 45-minute LP of the tightest, meanest shit you’ve ever written. Because massive as the accomplishments are on The Brink, it’s the potential to build from them that resonates most here. So do it, guys. Step up and take advantage of the moment. Call me greedy if you want, I don’t care. Give me another Solace record. I dare you.

8. Brume, Rabbits

brume rabbits

Released by Doom Stew Records & DHU Records. Reviewed Nov. 6.

Simply a case of a band wildly outdoing themselves. Easy story, yeah? In some ways, maybe, but the truth of what Brume achieve on Rabbits. Their second long-player behind 2017’s Rooster (review here), the five-track offering sees the San Francisco three-piece of vocalist/bassist Susie McMullan, guitarist/vocalist Jamie McCathie and drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis working with producer Billy Anderson to bring theatricality and emotionalism together in a flowing post-heavy context that’s neither derivative nor working at cross purposes. Instead, it is a gorgeous and blooming undertaking across its 43-minute span, working in its own light/dark spectrum and bringing not just the sense of trapped fragility evoked by the cover art, but a corresponding sureness of intent to its ascendant heavy surges. Like Rooster before it, it is loaded with potential, but in “Scurry” and “Lament” and “Despondence” and “Blue Jay and “Autocrat’s Fool,” there’s a patience and command that absolutely does not waver. So yes, a band outdoing themselves. But so much more too.

7. Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal

mars red sky the task eternal

Released by Listenable Records. Reviewed Sept. 20.

This may forever be known as the Mars Red Sky album they wrote in a cave, but the Bordeaux three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras and bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau nonetheless plunged forward along the progressive course they charted back on 2014’s sophomore outing, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), and continued to manifest in 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here). Their blend of melody and tonal heft has become a hallmark of their work to this stage in their career, but The Task Eternal continues to add a sense of breadth to the proceedings, giving their sound a full three-dimensional pull that feels tailor-made for headphones and is consuming in its entirety. With experiments in structure like the pairing of “Recast” and “Reacts,” and the rushing sweep of melody in “Hollow King,” Mars Red Sky’s latest is, as ever, their finest. Outdoing themselves would seem to be the task from which the record derives its title. Fine. Just keep going. Please.

6. Kings Destroy, Fantasma Nera

Kings Destroy Fantasma Nera

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 15.

Every time I think I understand where Kings Destroy want to go as a band, they pull the rug out. That’s what Fantasma Nera is. After their 2015 self-titled (review here) third LP seemed to declare them once and for all in a space between doom and noise rooted in their respective hardcore pasts, the Brooklynite five-piece hooked up with producer David Bottrill (Tool, etc.) and composed a rock album. A real live rock album! With progressive undertones in the guitar work and the most accomplished melodicism of their career, Kings Destroy put everything they had into making Fantasma Nera and one need look no further than the title-track to hear the result of that monumental effort. It is the realization of a band challenging themselves to go so far out of their comfort zone as to be only recognizable in the most rudimentary of ways, and to say it as plainly as I can, “Dead Before” on its own is enough of an accomplishment — and enough of a full-length, at all of 4:25 — to make this list on its own, whatever surrounds it. Song of the year. I’ll say every time I’m a Kings Destroy fan, but I’ve never been gladder to say it than I am in talking about Fantasma Nera.

5. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Dec. 3.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Ah come on, Colour Haze are always on the list when they put out records,” I have two answers. One, you’re right, and two, if you have a problem with that, blow it out your ass. The Munich forefathers of the European heavy psychedelic underground — yup — marked their 25th anniversary this year, and did so not just by putting out an album, but by putting out We Are, which introduces a full-fledged fourth member to what’s been a three-piece since 1998. Granted, it’s not the first time guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald have worked with organist/keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender, but never has the presence of keys been so integral to their work, and never has the dynamic between players shifted in the way it does on tracks like “The Real” and “Life” and “I’m With You,” with keys fleshing out melodies and enriching the bass and guitar. Add to that the Spanish-style guitar on centerpiece “Material Drive” or the operatic flash in the penultimate “Be With Me,” and it’s one more example of one of the best bands on earth refusing to rest on their laurels. Which, as it happens, is why they’re one of the best bands on earth. So hell yes, they’re on all my lists. Fact is my lists are lucky to have them.

4. Blackwater Holylight, Veils of Winter

blackwater holylight veils of winter

Released by RidingEasy Records. Reviewed Sept. 26.

Like nothing else I heard in 2019, Veils of Winter had repeat listenability. It was the album that, most often, when I was choosing something I actually wanted to hear, I went back to time and again. Its dark, moody psychedelic and heavy vibe stands alone among the year’s releases, and is a stylistic milestone that one only hopes other artists will pick up on. Toying with pop melodies on tracks like “Death Realms” and bringing hypnosis and clarity in kind to the subtly traditionalist winding riff of “Moonlit” — would it have been out of place on the first Witchcraft LP? — the Portland, Oregon, five-piece worked on a speedy turnaround and squashed even the significant expectations I had after their self-titled debut (review here) last year. They’ve begun to tour, so I don’t know if another full-length is in the works for 2020, but their craft is enviable in its flow and their songs are shimmering in tone and cohesion alike. Given how bold a step forward Veils of Winter is, I hear nothing in their material to this point to make me think their momentum won’t continue to carry them forward. But, you know, if not, I’d also take about six or seven records just like this one. That’d be fine too. Whatever they want, really.

3. Slomatics, Canyons

Slomatics Canyons

Released by Black Bow Records. Reviewed May 15.

Belfast, Northern Ireland, three-piece Slomatics — guitarists David Marjury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey — finished a narrative trilogy with 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), and though the storyline was always vague throughout that and the preceding two offerings, the question of how they would proceed nonetheless hung over Canyons prior to its release. The answer is in the songs themselves. From the sci-fi majesty of lumbering, rolling groove in opener and longest track “Gears of Despair” — oh, they grind — through the mega-stomp of “Telemachus, My Son” and the righteously synth-laden wash that consumes “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” Slomatics bring together concept and execution with a readiness that highlights the fact of their 15th anniversary. They are mature in their approach, yes, but the fact is their approach is so much their own and so given to their particular mode of progression that it almost can’t help but feel fresh. How could something so utterly crushing also feel rejuvenating? As they plod through finale “Organic Caverns II” ending with more waves of synth and tectonic guitar — no bass, remember — they are as restorative as they are punishing, and they stand astride that duality with neither mercy nor pretense. Canyons, whether it’s setting up a new story, building from the old, or doing something completely different, stands on its own.

2. Year of the Cobra, Ash and Dust

year of the cobra ash and dust

Released by Prophecy Productions. Reviewed Oct. 24.

My anticipation for and expectations of Year of the Cobra’s second long-player were high most especially after 2017’s Burn Your Dead EP (review here), which along with the dead, set alight the notion that the Seattle duo of bassist/vocalist Amy Tung Barrysmith and drummer Jon Barrysmith were simply a heavy/doom band. With elements of post-punk, psych wash, minimalist stretches and propulsive gallop, Ash and Dust cast itself out over an aesthetic range that set a new standard not just for Year of the Cobra, but for anyone who’d dare match them at their own game — and that list will grow with time, absolutely. As their first outing through Prophecy Productions, Ash and Dust threw itself into the very melting pot of its own ambition and emerged with songs that didn’t just bring together disparate ideas, but made them flourish and engage and challenge the listener while still proving consistent in tone and underlying groove. For a two-person, two-instrument outfit (not counting voice, though I should), they proved more malleable than many with more than twice the number of hands on deck, and pushed the notion of what heavy rock is and does forward without stopping to look back or ask for permission. They just did it, and maybe Ash and Dust is the aftermath of all that burning.

2019 Album of the Year

1. Monolord, No Comfort

monolord no comfort

Released by Relapse Records. Reviewed Sept. 12.

Look back over the course of this list, and you will find no shortage of bands and releases that surpassed the group in question’s past work. With Gothenburg, Sweden’s Monolord, it wasn’t just about No Comfort — their debut on Relapse, fourth full-length overall — being better than 2017’s Rust (review here), because that was pretty jolly gosh darn enjoyable, but about the band reaching a moment of transcendence to which Rust and all their prior work across 2015’s Vænir (review here) and 2014’s Empress Rising has been leading. With the six tracks of No Comfort, guitarist/vocalist Thomas Jäger, bassist Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems not only overcome the influences that launched them — taking full ownership of their sound and defending that claim with the sheer quality of their songwriting — and they not only become as identifiable as those influences themselves, but they overcome themselves. No Comfort means no comfort. Monolord take the simplicity that once fueled their riffing, the willful primitivism of their earliest work, and with songs like “Larvae” and “The Bastard Son” and the closing title-track use it as the foundation it was apparently always intended to be. Monolord have toured plenty and certainly their studio output has shown an increasing complexity from one LP to the next, so progression isn’t unexpected, but the manner in which Monolord have executed that progression has been. Even on “The Last Leaf,” which is arguably the most straightforward fare on the album, one hears it as them rather than the manifestation of the acts that inspired them. The same holds for “Skywards” later on, and for the immersion that takes hold as the mournful “Alone Together” plays into “No Comfort” itself. Monolord take their place among the best bands on the planet, and deliver an Album of the Year for 2019 that, like the absolute best, will have an impact lasting much longer than any period of 12 months might convey.

The Top 50 Albums of 2019: Honorable Mention

You didn’t think we’d stop at 50, did you? Come on. You know me better than that. The fact is that the list itself, humongous as it is, is just the start of the tip of an iceberg attached to a glacier that’s somewhere on an entire planet constructed of ice.

Honorable mentions, you say? Yeah, a few. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

Lord Vicar, Goatess, The Lord Weird Slough Feg, Zone Six, Lykantropi, Earth, White Manna, Atala, Tia Carrera, Merlin, WEEED, Híbrido, Cities of Mars, Stone Machine Electric, Bretus, Blackwolfgoat, The Black Wizards, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Alunah, V, Pale Grey Lore, Leeds Point, Sons of Alpha Centauri, Spidergawd, Bus, Death Hawks, BBF, Vessel of Light, Crypt Trip, The Pilgrim, Uffe Lorenzen, Brant Bjork, Doomstress, Black Lung, Kandodo3, Monkey3, Bask, Horseburner, Zed, Bright Curse, Spillage, Sigils, Papir, Dune Sea, Destroyer of Light, Mastiff, Warp, Centrum, Varego, Lord Dying, Volcano, Saint Karloff, Firebreather, High Reeper, Bible of the Devil, Obsidian Sea, Torche, Motorpsycho, Sunn O))), Deadbird, Russian Circles, El Supremo, Pyramidal, Holy Serpent, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Demon Head, Red Beard Wall, Onhou, Kamchatka, Iguana, Arrowhead, The Whims of the Great Magnet, Serial Hawk, Scissorfight, Monte Luna, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Ruff Majik, The Giraffes, High Fighter, Comacozer, Burning Gloom, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Cable, AVER, Superlynx, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Old Mexico, Skraeckoedlan, Godsleep, Øresund Space Collective Meets Black Moon Circle.

Seems cruel to leave it to you to sort through those, but I’m tempted to do just that. You might notice some bigger names there in bands like Earth, Russian Circles, Torche and Sunn O))). Nothing against those bands, but I think we’re seeing a moment where a different group of artists are taking point in terms of innovating heavy styles across an entire swath of microgenres. Either way it’s not a slight that something is here instead of above. And of course, there are plenty of up and coming groups here as well, with Ruff Majik, Elizabeth Colour Wheel — who I’m sure would be a top 30 if I knew the record better than I do — Pale Grey Lore, Monte Luna, Papir, Destroyer of Light, The Munsens, No Man’s Valley, Skraeckoedlan, and so on, but hell’s bells, there’s already a list of 50 and I’m only one man. How high is the list supposed to go and still be a list?

Bottom line: Music is as endless as space and has as much beauty in it for those willing to hear. Do more digging.

The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2019

green lung woodland rites

1. Green Lung, Woodland Rites
2. Yatra, Death Ritual
3. Howling Giant, The Space Between Worlds
4. Thunderbird Divine, Magnasonic
5. SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight
6. Lightning Born, Lightning Born
7. Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo
8. The Pilgrim, Walking into the Forest
9. Sigils, You Build the Altar You Lit the Leaves
10. E-L-R, Maenad
11. Hey Zeus, X
12. Bellrope, You Must Relax
13. Asthma Castle, Mount Crushmore
14. Thronehammer, Usurper of Oaken Throne
15. Inner Altar, Vol. III
16. Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember
17. Hippie Death Cult, 111
18. Faerie Ring, The Clearing
19. Gone Cosmic, Sideways in Time
20. Haze Mage, Chronicles

Honorable Mention: Warp, Pelegrin, Lucy in Blue, Volcano, The Sabbathian, Red Eye Tales, Dune Sea, Dury Dava, Pharlee, Giant Dwarf, Ghost:Hello, Surya, Workshed, Children of the Sün, Burning Gloom, Temple of the Fuzz Witch.

Notes: As ever, I consider a band’s debut album something unique and separate from everything else they’ll ever do, and so worthy of highlighting in its own category. It’s a different standard in my mind, one that takes into account what a group might accomplish going forward as well as what they do on the record itself. Plus, putting out an album is hard. Getting two, three, four, five or more people to agree on anything is an accomplishment. Making a cohesive album? Come on. So yes. We see some crossover from the main list above, but I want to draw attention to Howling Giant, Thunderbird Divine and SÂVER particularly here. There’s a swath of genres represented and I feel like a couple of these releases — Sigils, Bellrope, Thronehammer, Inner Altar, Faerie Ring, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember — didn’t get their due attention. It’s a busy year, I get it. But if you’re skimming through looking for stuff to check out, DON’T IGNORE THIS LIST. Aside from whatever line about the best of tomorrow you want to trot out, there’s important work being done by these acts today. As somebody who’s constantly behind the times, I urge you not to

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2019

geezer spiral fires

1. Geezer, Spiral Fires
2. Ufomammut, XX
3. All Them Witches, 1×1
4. Mount Saturn, Mount Saturn
5. Dopelord, Weedpecker, Major Kong & Spaceslug, 4-Way Split
6. Horehound, Weight
7. Molasses, Mourning Haze
8. Saint Karloff & Devil’s Witches, Split
9. Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon
10. The Golden Grass, 100 Arrows
11. Mount Atlas, Mistress
12. Midas, Solid Gold Heavy Metal
13. Glory in the Shadows, Glory in the Shadows
14. Hot Breath, Hot Breath
15. Crystal Spiders, Demo
16. Red Wizard, Ogami
17. Thermic Boogie, Fracture
18. Pinto Graham, Dos
19. High Priest, Sanctum
20. Set Fire, Traya
21. Seedium, Awake

Honorable Mention: Love Gang & Smokey Mirror Split, Forebode, Land Mammal, Very Paranoia, Plague of Carcosa, Daal Dazed, Komodor, Mourn the Light & Oxblood Forge Split, High on Fire, Mount Soma.

Notes: This is probably the least complete of the lists, because it’s the hardest category for me to keep up with. EPs, singles, demos, splits and basically anything else that isn’t an album, all lumped together. Still, I stand by the picks here, and I don’t think anyone who takes on any of them will regret doing so, whether it’s All Them Witches’ surprisingly weighted first single as a trio, Mount Saturn’s debut release, or Geezer’s cosmic jams. Felt a little like cheating putting Ufomammut on there, since technically XX wasn’t new material so much as reworked stuff captured live, but if you want to call me out on it, my own listening habits also factor in, and I’ve spent plenty of time with those reimagined tracks. But anyway, I’m sure there’s a ton of stuff that hasn’t been included here, so please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll work accordingly.

Postwax

I haven’t felt comfortable with the idea of writing about it editorially, since I’ve been involved in discussions about it since before it came together and since I did the liner notes for each of the six releases (plus one to come), but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work done on the Postwax vinyl subscription series by Blues Funeral Recordings. Label head Jadd Shickler and design specialist Peder Bergstrand (also of Lowrider) put together six offerings that came out in the span of this year and when you hold the LPs in your hand, you can feel the passion that went into making them, from the artists in question to those curating the series in the first place. I hear tell there’s going to be a Postwax Year Two, and I don’t know if I’ll be involved or not, but I’m proud of my miniscule part in the work that went into making these and wanted to bring them to your particular attention. They are something special for those who got to partake:

  • Elder, The Gold and Silver Sessions
  • Daxma, Ruins Upon Ruins
  • Besvärjelsen, Frost
  • Big Scenic Nowhere, Dying on the Mountain
  • Domkraft, Slow Fidelity
  • Lowrider, Refractions

And while we’re talking about projects I was proud to be involved with, I also did liner notes for Acrimony’s The Chronicles of Wode box set from Burning World Records and was honored to do so. Thanks to any and everyone in question for having me involved and dealing with me blowing past deadlines one after the next. It is humbling.

Looking Ahead to 2020

A few names and nothing more about what definitely is and/or might be in the works for next year. Woefully incomplete, so feel free to add to it:

1000mods, Wolves in the Throne Room, Deathwhite, Mondo Drag, Drug Cult, Ocean Chief, Soldati, Sergio Ch., Mitochondrial Sun, Geezer, Mirror Queen, Mondo Generator, The Otolith, Asteroid, Yatra, Vestal Claret, Farer, Ryte, Shadow Witch, Six Organs of Admittance, Naxatras, Wolftooth, Snail, Elder, Pale Divine, Grey Skies Fallen, Ruby the Hatchet, Yuri Gagarin, Sasquatch, Godthrymm, Wo Fat, Red Mesa, CB3, Onsegen Ensemble, Insect Ark, Acid Mammoth, Ritual King, Ulls, Om.

Thank You

Thank you for reading, and please, if you have a thought or something you want to share in the comments, please remember to be kind to each other. We are all human beings behind our phones and keyboards, and while we’ll disagree, often in some ways and some cases, a basic level of respect is always appreciated. At least by me.

I am not so deluded as to think anyone might still be reading, but I want it on record how much I appreciate you being a part of this site and a part of my experience in making it. I’ve been ruminating all year since marking the 10th anniversary back in January about how much The Obelisk has become a part of who I am, and it’s utterly essential to my every day. The way I continue to think about it — and myself, as it happens — is a work in progress, and that would not be possible without you. One more time. Thank you. Always. Always thank you. Thank you.

More to come.

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Friday Full-Length: Kings Destroy, And the Rest Will Surely Perish

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Invariably, the narrative I put to any Kings Destroy release at this point is one of progression, of learning from what they’ve done in the past and pushing themselves to new places in songwriting and style. I’m a fan of the band as artists and as people, but this narrative has the advantage of being true. No two Kings Destroy albums sound the same, which is even more remarkable when you consider the first three of them had the same producer in Sanford Parker (he of Buried at Sea, Corrections House, War Crime Recordings and production work for YOB, the entire city of Chicago, and so on). For a band to have started out with this kind of ambition wouldn’t necessarily be strange. Acts come along all the time who say they want to grow and change over time. Those who manifest it as palpably as the Brooklynite five-piece have since the 2010 arrival of their first single, Old Yeller/Medusa (review here), are significantly more rare. For a thankfully short period of time, this site had a label wing called The Maple ForumKings Destroy‘s eight-track/44-minute debut full-length, And the Rest Will Surely Perish, was one of the very few releases that came out under that banner.

At the time, the band was comprised of vocalist Steve Murphy, guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski, bassist Ed Bocchino and drummer Rob Sefcik. They’d played together in various guises over the years, but PorcaroSkowronski and Murphy were probably most known for their contributions to New York hardcore in bands like Killing Time and Uppercut, while Sefcik served in Electric Frankenstein and the sludgy Begotten. I have no problem admitting my ignorance when it comes to the history and folklore of NYHC. It’s just not my scene. But when Kings Destroy reached out about that initial 7″ and followed it with And the Rest Will Surely Perish, it seemed clear to me their hearts were in what they were doing, and the songs and groove were there. I was on board.

It’s been a while since I’ve put the record on. Earlier this year, they released their fourth LP in Fantasma Nera (review here) on Svart Records, and that’s taken precedence. What stands out from And the Rest Will Surely Perish now is the tone, and the level of detail. I visited the studio in Hoboken, briefly, while they were working on the album, and if I knew then what I know today about a recording process, I might ask the good Mr. Parker and the guitarists how the hell they managed to conjure that tone. In “Planet XXY” it has all the crunch and impact of the best of New York noise rock, but thickened all the more by Bocchino‘s basslines, comes across as fluid in a rolling groove set forth by Sefcik‘s drums. The opening salvo of “The Mountie,”kings destroy and the rest will surely perish “Dusty Mummy” and “The Whittler” boasts some of the best and most memorable songcraft on the album, but listening back, the level of detail gives little hints at the progression of sound the band would soon enough undertake. Vocal layering in “Dusty Mummy,” the echoing swirl of guitar late in “The Mountie,” a quick flourish of harmony in the last lines of “The Whittler”; amid the forward-facing riffs and grooves and the overarching doomed stylization, these subtleties and others that emerge throughout side B in the post-Clutch swagger  at the start of “Stung” or the tempo shifts in “Two Tons” give And the Rest Will Surely Perish an identity that immediately stands it apart from being a work playing to genre. Right from the start, Kings Destroy never quite fit as just being a doom band — here’s an interesting question as a nonsequitor: what is New York doom? ask Eternal Black — whatever aspects of doom might’ve been at play. They have not grown easier to categorize over the subsequent nine years.

That debut single is revisited on And the Rest Will Surely Perish as Bocchino‘s punch-in-the-gut bassline begins “Medusa” at the start of the tracklisting’s B side, which languishes purposefully in its first half only to kick into a more active riff in its second, lulling the listener into a momentary trance with effects (another detail I’d forgotten) and before one or the other of the guitars snaps back to reality. The tension in that track, though I think even the band themselves would probably call it primitive if you could force them to sit and listen to it, was pretty emblematic of where Kings Destroy were coming from at the time. While the players involved had explored different styles together in other bands, there was a sense in “Medusa” — and likewise “Old Yeller,” positioned here as the closer — that Kings Destroy‘s natural impulse was to break out, to play faster, to give some release to the tension of the songs that they felt as much as they wanted the listener to feel it. Realization of that came in a live setting, where their inherent New York-style confrontationalism was more brought to bear.

Considering I had a (slight, tiny, minimal, not-really) hand in releasing it on CD in the first place — vinyl followed on the also-now-defunct Hydro-Phonic Records, who were so ahead of the deluxe-limited-LPs game that’s it’s sad they never got their due — it would feel self-serving to call And the Rest Will Surely Perish my favorite Kings Destroy album. Anyhow, my favorite KD record is always the next one. But no question these songs, which I hear in my head more as the live versions than the studio when I think of them, hold a special place in my heart, as does the band itself. Thinking of the fact that it will be a full 10 years since it came out next year, I can only hope there’s some kind of reissue in the works to get it back in print, which is precisely where it deserves to be.

As we round out 2019 and this decade and inherently reflect on the year and years that have been, I consider myself fortunate to have music and people like this in my life. Writing about this album — something I did plenty of at the time, but in more of a promotional context, which I enjoyed far less and is why I stopped the label — was my own little Xmas present to myself, but as always, I hope you enjoy too.

Thanks for reading.

Would you believe the raw nerve today had in only being Friday? What the hell? Some people. Or days. Pretty ballsy, in any case.

Alarm went off this morning at 4, as usual, and I shut it off and went back to sleep for another hour and 45 minutes, because, really, screw it. The Patient Mrs. went out last night to see the new Star Wars with my family, who are all big fans — I’m the black-sheep Trekkie contrarian of the family, but they’re still supportive — and I stayed home with the (then-sleeping) Pecan, ate dinner and read a book until I started to fall asleep on the couch. I read Lincoln in the Bardo last week. It made me want to write, which George Saunders always does. That’s a dangerous impulse to ignite for me. Nothing good comes of it, and I don’t just mean my lousy first drafts.

The week prior was a week. I don’t know. The Patient Mrs. said earlier this morning that it went fast. I’m not sure I agree 100 percent, but it went like weeks go. I spent a goodly portion thinking about my favorite albums of the year, and exactly none of it actually getting a post ready to list them. Whoops. That should make for a few interesting mornings coming up, but basically my plan is to put it all together between this afternoon and Tuesday, post it on Tuesday — yeah, I know it’s Xmas Eve; I don’t care — and then sit tight over the holiday, put up a couple odds and ends the rest of next week and then hit the year-end poll(s) the week after as well as bang out a Quarterly Review, though I might honestly delay that to start on Jan. 6, depending on how much is going on otherwise. I’ll know by the middle of next week how it’s going to go.

Either way, as this will be my last opportunity to say so before the actual thing, I hope you have an enjoyable and safe holiday. I’ve made my feelings on Xmas known, and I stand by them, but if you can get a couple quiet minutes to yourself when/if you need them, eat a good meal and see family, you could surely do worse. I don’t know. Maybe we’ll all get jetskis this year. I don’t want a jetski, but you know what I mean. I’m looking forward to giving The Pecan his first Mr. Potato Head and a stuffed Pete the Cat and a few other odds and ends.

But first, the weekend of putting together the Best of 2019 list. I’ll start with 30 and go from there. There’s a lot this year, but I guess that’s true every year, and when the list goes up, I’m almost always disappointed. It never looks as big on the page as the effort that goes into making it. That’s just the bottom line. I know that some people appreciate it and I’m deeply grateful for that — it’s why I do it, frankly — but woof, what a pain in the ass, from the pre-making fretting about it, to the actual doing, to the inherent “you forgot Whatever Band I Like Or Am In!” responses that always come through. Yeah. We’ll get it done though. Got a video premiere going up Monday, but then nothing else until the list goes up on Tuesday.

Alright. Great and safe weekend. Careful out there if the roads are icy.

FRM: Forum, Radio, Merch at MiBK.

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Insect Ark Announce Feb. 28 Release for The Vanishing; Stream “Tectonic”

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

insect ark

Maybe by the time Dana Schecter gets a MacArthur Genius Grant she’ll get her due in the heavy underground. I have to think that the tour she and seemingly-permanent-ish Insect Ark drummer Andy “Super-Nice Dude” Patterson undertook this Fall alongside Oranssi Pazuzu couldn’t have hurt their cause, at least not if the social media crowd shots I saw were anything to go by. The righteously-in-its-own-dimension 2018 offering, Marrow Hymns (discussed here), will get a follow-up in 2020’s The Vanishing, which is due out Feb. 28, and the label and two-piece are streaming the six-minute opening track “Tectonic” from the LP now, its atmosphere recalling dark post-rock while pushing through chamber echo and a weighted atmosphere manifested by the tones and slow-rolling drums. TLDR? I dig. Bodes well. I don’t think I’m cool enough to premiere a song from it, but golly I’d love to if such a thing were possible.

Expand your brain thusly:

insect ark the vanishing

INSECT ARK: Instrumental Psychedelic Doom Duo Completes Work On New Album, The Vanishing, Set For Release February 28th Through Profound Lore Records; New Track Streaming

INSECT ARK — currently made up of founder Dana Schechter (Swans) and Andy Patterson (ex SubRosa) — have been crafting uncomfortable soundscapes that feel both intimate and icy cold since 2011. Nightmarish horror film-like visions, outer space travel, and gritty noir textures were explored in their previous offerings — the much-praised Portal / Well (2015) and Marrow Hymns (2018) — but now, something far greater is coming. Prepare for The Vanishing.

Set for release next year via Profound Lore Records, the Colin Marston-engineered opus serves as INSECT ARK’s third, and most harrowing and punishing record to date. Though many of its segments veer off into mind-expanding outer realms, the interplay between the bass, lap steel guitar, synths, and drums represent a strong and defiant collection of songs that demand your exclusive attention forcefully. It’s heavier, darker, and denser than anything INSECT ARK has ever done, without losing any of the writing characteristics that have become synonymous with their personality, like the persistent coating of eerie psychedelia, the alien feel of the melodies, or the ominous dread they often exhale.

“The album’s title refers to a recurring daydream I had of disappearing completely – floating out to sea alone, and never being found,” offers Schechter of the themes driving the record. “On a much bigger level, it’s about the impermanence of life itself, trying to retain perspective of how small we really are.”

INSECT ARK’s The Vanishing will be released worldwide on CD, LP, and digital formats February 28th, 2020 with preorders to be unveiled next month.

The Vanishing Track Listing:
1. Tectonic
2. Three Gates
3. Philae
4. Danube
5. Swollen Sun
6. The Vanishing

A New York City-based multi-instrumentalist known for her collaborations with Swans (for whom she is now part of the main touring lineup), Angels Of Light, Gnaw, Zeal & Ardor, Wrekmeister Harmonies, and Årabrot, as well as her own projects Bee And Flower and Gifthorse, Dana Schechter is now joined by former SubRosa drummer Andy Patterson, also known for his bands DØNE, the Otolith, INVADRS, and as owner/operator of Salt Lake City recording studio The Boar’s Nest. This partnership appears to have completely nailed the true essence of INSECT ARK. After a quick first meeting, within a period of two short months, Schechter and Patterson finished preparing all the new songs for The Vanishing, preceded by a full North American tour with Oranssi Pazuzu to get the new songs up to speed.

The intensity, determination, and dedication poured into the album is clearly audible, captured by the wizardry of engineer Colin Marston (Dysrhythmia, Krallice, Behold The Arctopus). The sound was steered in a visceral, organic direction; you feel enclosed within a living, pulsating, slithering organism. The album artwork, a stunning painting by French artist Sonia Merah, is in and of itself a work of art, but when paired with the sounds of The Vanishing, it becomes a truly haunting and mesmerizing vision of some terribly twisted alternate reality.

“Making music takes a lot out of me,” Schechter admits, and it’s hard not to understand why after listening to the tour de force that is INSECT ARK’s new album. “To pull it out of my heart and put it into the world can be emotionally difficult, since it comes from a complex place with so many facets like pain, belief, hope, anger, joy.”

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http://www.insectark.bandcamp.com
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
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http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Insect Ark, “Tectonic”

Insect Ark, Marrow Hymns (2018)

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