Review & Track Premiere: Acrimony, Chronicles of Wode

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

acrimony chronicles of wode

[Click play above to stream ‘Million Year Summer’ from Acrimony’s new remaster box set, Chronicles of Wode. It starts streaming Dec. 7, preorders are here starting today and ship out in mid-Jan. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote the liner notes for the box set and was compensated for that work. I have not been compensated for this review, and frankly, given the chance to premiere a remastered Acrimony track and an excuse to write about these albums, there was no chance I wasn’t going to jump on it.]

Chronicles of Wode is a 3CD box set from Burning World Records that brings together the bulk of the discography of Welsh heavy rockers Acrimony. It includes their two full-lengths, 1994’s Hymns to the Stone (discussed here) and 1997’s Tumuli Shroomaroom (discussed here), both with new artwork by Jimbob Isaac (also of Taint and Hark)”, as well as a third disc of off-album tracks, some of which were previously collected on 2007’s Bong On – Live Long! compilation and some which were not, including a yet-unheard Doom cover, and so on. Bringing these offerings together is something noteworthy in itself — the band’s influence over UK heavy rock was and is formidable, and they were genuinely ahead of their time when it came to using repetition and jammy vibes as a means to hone a heavy psychedelic feel while retaining a metallic energy beneath — but crucially, Chronicles of Wode gives all of these Acrimony tracks a much-needed remastering, and they’ve never sounded so vibrant. That’s particularly true of Tumuli Shroomaroom, but while Hymns to the Stone is more dated in terms of its basic production, that’s more of a fact of how the record was originally made, and it seems no less integral to preserve that than it does to give Acrimony‘s catalog the detailing it has long since earned.

There’s a balance to be struck between the two sides, of course, and Chronicles of Wode seems to find it in the crunch of “Leaves of Mellow Grace,” the opener of Hymns to the Stone, which rolls out its nod like a clarion, finding Acrimony — the five-piece of vocalist Dorian Walters, guitarists Stu O’Hara and Lee Davies, bassist Paul Bidmead and drummer Darren Ivey — immediately putting the groove first in a way that few acts at the time had understood how to do. Their influences were varied, from ’70s rock to trance techno, but their riffs were undeniably heavy, with lyrics exploring the isolation of their hometown and the same kind of disaffection that once launched Black Sabbath to the outer reaches of doom from a blues rock beginning. Acrimony started out more as death metal or at least death-doom, but Hymns to the Stone was a point of discovery for them in terms of claiming their identity, and whether it’s the nodding pub-homage “The Inn” or the myth-creation they engaged with “Urabalaboom,” the sonic drawl and spacey push of “Spaced Cat #6” or the glorious noise-wash jam of “Whatever” ahead of brash closer “Cosmic AWOL,” Hymns to the Stone is a record that has been persistently undervalued, not just for what it set in motion in terms of Acrimony‘s all-too-short tenure as a band, but on the sheer merits of its material.

Rest assured, part of the reason Hymns to the Stone is undervalued is because it exists largely in the shadow of its follow-up. Clocking in at a whopping 65 minutes — prime CD era in 1997 — and originally released through Peaceville RecordsTumuli Shroomaroom is a legitimate heavy rock classic. Its production was clearer, its purpose was clearer and it took the blow-the-doors-down promise shown throughout Hymns to the Stone and brought it to a point of full realization throughout extended pieces like “Motherslug (The Mother of All Slugs),” “Heavy Feather” and “Firedance,” not to mention the nine-minute opener, “Hymns to the Stone,” a title-track for the release before. Go figure. By ’97, Acrimony‘s sense of world-creation was becoming clearer, and their songs — not all of them, but definitely some — had started telling a story beyond the riffs and nods. Of course, Tumuli Shroomaroom had and still has plenty of that too in “Million Year Summer,” “Vy,” “Find the Path” and “The Bud Song” — the arguable “meat” of the album in its post-opener beginning and the middle of the nine-song tracklist — but even amid “The Bud Song”‘s ultra-stoner janga-janga shuffle there’s psychedelic flourish building on that shown at the outset of the song, and Acrimony‘s adventurous sensibility never really dissipates. It’s just presented in dynamic fashion, and they use it to various ends throughout.

And that shows up not just in the odds and ends of percussion and didgeridoo and guitar effects, echo, etc., but in the various structures of of the tracks themselves. The same was true of Hymns to the Stone, if nascent, but Tumuli Shroomaroom realized these impulses in a new way that, even as a stoner rock underground was flourishing in the UK, was pretty rare. Some of the roots of that aural diversity are shown on the disc of extra tracks included in the box — unlike the two album, it’s not available separately to my knowledge — with the aforementioned take on Doom‘s “Exploitation” and the Status Quo cover of “O Baby” that was featured on Bong On – Live Long! alongside raw pieces like “Tumuli” and “100 New Gods” and “Timebomb!!!” and “Earthchild Inferno,” here pushed to the opening position as some of the cuts from the original compilation were cut, presumably for time. These songs have also been remastered and are worth hearing on both an academic level as further context for the band and just on their own merits — I don’t know what Burning World is charging, but “O Baby” alone is a worthy argument in favor of it — fitting well as a complement to the two albums that are obviously the showcase pieces of Chronicles of Wode and giving fans something more to dig into even as the records themselves invite rediscovery.

One also can’t ignore the fact that since Tumuli Shroomaroom was last reissued in 2007 by Leaf Hound Records — to the best of my knowledge and a bit to my surprise, Hymns to the Stone has never been reissued — an entire generation of heavy rockers has emerged and thrived on the ground that Acrimony helped break during their time. That may have been part of the motivation for four-fifths of the original band to come back together in 2010 as SigiriyaDavies was in Lifer and has since moved on to Woven Man — but either way, the important point here is that there’s no level on which these two full-lengths don’t deserve the care and treatment they’re given through the presentation of Chronicles of Wode, and anyone previously unfamiliar with Acrimony‘s work who takes it on is only going to get a more complete picture of from where modern heavy rock stems, especially in the UK, but also across the broader international underground. For prior fans? Well, it’s just a delight, pure and simple. Like visiting old friends.

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Wolf Blood Release Limited 12″ Single Tsunami / Home; Announce Recording Plans

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

wolf blood

July, July, July. That’s when Minnesota riffers Wolf Blood head back into the studio to complete work on their second album. The as-yet-untitled offering will follow some four years behind the band’s incredibly well received self-titled debut (review here), which came out through Burning World in Europe and Outer Battery in the US — which is no minor shakes for a group marking their first release. As far as endorsements go, those are two good ones to have.

Before the new album arrives, maybe as a refresher or a lead-in or just because they happened to have them laying around — whatever gets it done — Wolf Blood have released the new two-songer single Tsunami / Home and set it up for streaming now and preorders for the month of May for the upcoming 12″ edition, limited in number and all that good stuff. The art, as you can see below, is pretty right on, and the sound of the two songs is duly huge and a fervent reminder of why I was so looking forward to hearing what this band did next.

Have at it:

wolf blood tsunami home

Minneapolis band WOLF BLOOD are heading back into the studio this July to finish their long awaited 2nd album. To tide fans over till then they’ll release a limited run 12” single for the haunting track “Tsunami” on colored vinyl. Backed by the crushing brand new song “Home”, this will be strictly limited to 200 copies. Pre-orders start May 1st through Qrates.com and run until May 30th. Stream both songs at wolfblood666.bandcamp.com starting May 1st.

Formed in a dank basement during one of the coldest winters on record in Duluth, Minnesota, guitarist Mike Messina and drummer Jake Paulsrud (Dirty Horse/Dad’s Acid) started writing psycho-sludge experiments that sounded too stoned to be metal, and too baneful to be indie-rock. They recruited renown hard-core guitar sorceress Mindy Johnson (The Keep Aways) and magi-roots bassist Luke to flesh-out the menacing sound, and Wolf Blood came to life.

Wolf Blood is:
Mike Messina – guitar
Jake Paulsrud – drums/vocals
Mindy Johnson – guitar/vocals
Luke – bass

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Wolf Blood, Tsunami / Home (2018

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SubRosa Premiere “The Mirror” from SubRosa Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017

Posted in audiObelisk on November 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

subrosa

SubRosa will release SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 on Dec. 1 through Burning World and Roadburn Records. Today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting the official premiere of ‘The Mirror,’ and as the entire album has already been reviewed here, I thought I might just take a minute to speak about the experience of seeing the Salt Lake City outfit play in this context. Won’t take a minute.

Het Patronaat is a revamped church included as a venue for the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands. It has stained glass windows, a high, vaulted ceiling, and hardwood floors. subrosa-subdued-live-at-roadburn-2017When it’s empty, before a band goes on, it feels cavernous. Massive. When it’s full and you’re pressed up against the stage, it can be as intimate as the smallest of Roadburn‘s venues. You’re right there. The band’s right there. And, oh yeah, there are about 700 other people in the room with you, but if you don’t turn around and look, it’s easy enough to pretend you’re in your own world. That’s basically how I watched SubRosa play their ‘SubDued’ set at this year’s Roadburn.

They’d been on the Main Stage the prior afternoon, playing their most recent album, the brilliant For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), in its entirety, but the concept behind ‘SubDued’ being that they’d strip away much of the distortion in favor of a mostly-acoustic presentation made it unmissable from my point of view. The setlist was older tracks — nothing off the latest record — and highlights like “Whippoorwill,” “The Inheritance” and “Cosey Mo” received new life through their revamped arrangements, the focus on meditative melody, raw rhythmic sway and a masterful presentation that turned deeply-weighted goth-tinged post-metal into exploratory neofolk no less complete in its realization. I don’t think any single moment emphasized this so much as when they played “The Mirror” as the second to last song in the set.

In terms of the arrangement, “The Mirror” was as minimal as SubRosa got: voice, drumsticks against microphone stands and a single floor tom for percussion, and that’s it. The violins, flutes, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, and samples/other noises that filled out other inclusions were set aside. Rebecca Vernon led Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack in harmony as she and drummer Andy Patterson — situated behind a front-line of players that also included bassist Levi Hanna and guest flutist/vocalist Kelly Schilling — kept time together in that seemingly simple fashion. subrosa subdued (photo jj koczan)It was beautiful and affecting in kind.

The song itself tells the story of a woman who, by her own admission, “took the easy road.” She gets married and has five kids in five years because that’s what you’re supposed to do where she’s from, but when her husband leaves her, she’s alone and poor and full of regret. In the end, she blames not him for the affair she had, but herself for not seeing the error of the lifepath she chose: the line, “I just look in the mirror and I find I only have myself to blame” stands out in a verse preceding the ultimate moral lesson of, “You gotta push against the current to get somewhere.” It’s a powerful sentiment, powerfully presented.

I’ll admit I wasn’t familiar with “The Mirror” before seeing it performed at Het Patronaat this past April. It comes from SubRosa‘s 2006 demo/EP The Worm has Turned and to my knowledge hasn’t featured on any subsequent release. This would seem to make its inclusion on SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 all the more special, since it’s a standout and something kind of exclusive to this form, this time, and this moment for the band. It certainly felt that way when they were playing it, and as I watched and listened, I became utterly entranced in the melody and the storytelling in a way that hasn’t left my mind in the half-year since. I feel fortunate for having been there to witness it and know that, in fact, I was.

Enjoy the premiere of “The Mirror” below, followed by some more preliminaries from the PR wire:

First ever live album by Subrosa after 5 studio albums on labels as Profound Lore and I Hate Records.

Recorded at the prestigious Roadburn Festival 2017 in a packed Patronaat. Mixed and mastered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa.

Vinyl version will follow in early 2018.

TRACKLIST
1. Whippoorwill
2. Borrowed Time Borrowed Eyes
3. Sugar Creek
4. The Inheritance
5. Cosey Mo
6. The Mirror
7. No Safe Harbor

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Godflesh to Release Post Self Nov. 17; New Song Streaming; Streetcleaner Live at Roadburn 2011 Reissue out Dec. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

godflesh

As Godflesh make ready to perform Streetcleaner in full this coming Sunday night, Nov. 5, at Warsaw in Brooklyn to mark the 20th anniversary of Hospital Productions, the legendary Justin K. Broadrick-led outfit are preparing to unveil two new releases. First is a new studio outing titled Post Self, which is a follow-up for 2014’s return long-player A World Lit Only by Fire (review here), and second is a CD reissue Dec. 1 on Burning World/Roadburn Records of the 2013 live outing, Streetcleaner Live at Roadburn 2011, capturing the performance six years ago that basically kicked off the duo’s resurgence, Broadrick and Benny Green taking the stage together and laying waste to the entire fest. I was there. It was a work of technology advanced enough to be considered magic by my feeble brain.

The title-track of Post Self is streaming now and the PR wire brings the latest on both releases:

Godflesh share the title track of their new album, Post Self; the legendary duo’s first album in three years, due out on November 17th

Godflesh Streetcleaner Live At Roadburn (CD) out Dec. 1

Industrial metal pioneers Godflesh will release their new album Post Self on November 17th via Justin K. Broadrick’s Avalanche Recordings on CD, digital and LP formats, with a cassette version incoming on Hospital Productions. Over two years in the making, Post Self explores a different side of Godflesh, taking in their formative influences to conjure something informed by late 70’s/early 80’s post-punk and industrial music. The album deals with themes of anxiety, depression, fear, mortality, and paternal/maternal relationships.

The previous Godflesh album, A World Lit Only By Fire, was released in October 2014.

Post Self track listing
1. Post Self
2. Parasite
3. No Body
4. Mirror Of Finite Light
5. Be God
6. The Cyclic End
7. Pre Self
8. Mortality Sorrow
9. In Your Shadow
10. The Infinite End

GODFLESH performed their seminal debut full-length album, 1989’s “Streetcleaner”, in its entirety at the 2011 edition of the Roadburn festival on Thursday, April 14 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. In addition, founding members Justin Broadrick and Benny Green played the “Tiny Tears” EP, which was conceived as part of the overall “Streetcleaner” vision, in full as well.

– Mastered specially for cd by James Plotkin.
– Originally released as a double album on Roadburn Festival Records in 2013. Now for the first time out on cd.

Tracklist
1. LIKE RATS (LIVE) 05:34
2. CHRISTBAIT RISING (LIVE) 07:46
3. PULP (LIVE) 04:21
4. DREAM LONG DEAD (LIVE) 05:36
5. HEADDIRT (LIVE) 04:20
6. DEVASTATOR / MIGHTY TRUST KRUSHER (LIVE) 09:40
7. LIFE IS EASY (LIVE) 04:25
8. STREETCLEANER (LIVE) 06:47
9. LOCUST FURNACE (LIVE) 04:36
10. TINY TEARS (LIVE) 03:21
11. WOUND (LIVE) 03:12
12. DEADHEAD (LIVE) 04:06
13. SUCTION (LIVE) 08:48

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Godflesh, “Post Self”

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SubRosa, Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017: Finding Safe Harbor

Posted in Reviews on October 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

subrosa subdued live at roadburn 2017

On the first day, SubRosa took to the Main Stage of the 013 venue in Tilburg to play their latest album in its entirety. And it was early in an afternoon and night of excellent performances, but seeing the Salt Lake City, Utah, outfit give my 2016 Album of the Year, the Profound Lore-issued For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), a complete runthrough was still a highlight of the entirety of my experience at the 2017 Roadburn festival (review here). It was something special. The next day, across the alley at Het Patronaat, the band played once again, but this time for a set that became even more of a landmark in my mind for the long weekend.

Given the billing of ‘SubDued,’ it was SubRosa — the core lineup of guitarist/vocalist Rebecca Vernon, violinists/vocalists Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack, bassist Levi Hanna and drummer/noisemaker Andy Patterson joined for a second time by flutist/vocalist Kelly Schilling of Denver’s Dreadnought — arranged with everyone up front in a line across the stage save for Patterson who was situated behind with a percussion and sampler setup, seated, facing the audience directly. Surrounded by stained glass windows, the high cathedral ceiling and the hardwood floors of ‘The Church,’ as Het Patronaat has also come to be known — appropriately, since it is one — it felt like a ceremony unto itself.

I stood at the very front of the stage and watched as SubRosa reinterpreted songs from 2013’s More Constant than the Gods, 2011’s No Help for the Mighty Ones (review here), 2008’s Strega and the preceding 2006 demo, The Worm has Turned — leaving the performance of their fourth full-length the day before as it was, but boldly recontextualizing past material into a mostly-acoustic neofolk rife with atmosphere, emotion and progressive sonic insight.

Simply put, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, at Roadburn or anywhere else.

Taking that into account, I have to admit there’s just about no way I can be properly impartial when it comes to assessing the Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017 live album released through Burning World and Roadburn Records. None. I was too close to it — literally — and as the band began their just-under-an-hour-long set with the graceful unfolding of “Whippoorwill,” too consumed by the immediate breadth of what they were doing to maintain any proper distance from the experience. I think most who were there to see it would likely say the same. It would be like being impartial about a sunrise whose warmth cast away months of frigid temperatures. Impartiality about a first meal after days of starving. It was a time for worship, for communion, not equanimity, and “Whippoorwill” was only the start.

One can hear that on the recording. With Patterson thudding away behind, “Borrowed Time, Borrowed Eyes” emphasizes its rhythmic punctuation as much as Vernon‘s vocal melody, recalling some of the sludgy churn of the original that led off No Help for the Mighty Ones, but with more of a reliance on the strings to fill out an arrangement still given heft by Hanna‘s bass, SubRosa set up the harmonies later in the song for the repeated lines “How long must my journey go?,” and giving way to “Sugar Creek,” which might be the most radical arrangement shift of the entire set, taking the original opener of Strega, pulling out the guitar heft and drums and replacing them with electronic beats, manipulated noise and violins on a five-minute linear build that offers rare patience and still finds a way to capture the band’s underlying emotional intensity that was present even in their earliest work. It marks a transition as well into a crucial point in the set, wherein “The Inheritance” from No Help for the Mighty Ones and “Cosey Mo” from More Constant than the Gods pair together to fully embody the ‘subdued’ experience in texture and arrangement.

subrosa

Over minimal guitar, Vernon‘s solo vocals on “The Inheritance” are soon joined by companion harmonies, and sparse percussion echoes behind, marking the path as it unfolds. Strings arrive and the arrangement builds on itself, recedes for another verse and builds again, arriving at the line, “We’re in the shadow of a dying world,” which the pervasive melancholy of “Cosey Mo” seems to bring to life all the more. Both cuts hover around the eight-minute mark and become a dark kind of gothic Americana with the treatment they’re given on Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017, the level of depth particularly on the latter highlighting Patterson‘s work in mixing and mastering as well as on percussion. “Cosey Mo” finds a level of balance and emotional resonance by its halfway point that feels like the apex of the performance as a whole, and SubRosa continue to ride that progression fluidly, but it’s ultimately “The Mirror” that serves as the moment of their greatest impact.

With a rhythm created by hitting drumsticks on mic stands complemented by Patterson behind, “The Mirror” weaves a story of rural disaffection — “Got married in the winter/Gave birth in the summer/In five years time had five little ones…” — set to the most gorgeous vocal harmonies here present from VernonPendleton and Pack, who deep-dive into folk-ballad traditionalism with what I’d gladly argue is the boldest and bravest abandon shown on the release. The song, which originally appeared on The Worm has Turned, is the oldest of the material to make it into the set and yet could not fit more perfectly, casting off the complexity of strings, samples, bass, guitar and percussion in favor of an approach as organic as possible: raw human voice.

They thank Roadburn Creative Director Walter Hoeijmakers when they’re done and then launch into “No Safe Harbor” from More Constant than the Gods to close the set. It would be easy for it to be an afterthought, but with Schilling‘s flute added, SubRosa instead push further into the scope established by “The Inheritance” and “Cosey Mo,” finding resolution in a series of thudding crashes that, even in this setting, are viscerally weighted. To call it a suitable ending undercuts the beauty that actually holds sway for the duration of the track itself, or the obvious care put into the presentation, which like the original, ends with a chaos of rumble and strings ceding ground to a single line of percussion. Violins circle around single pulled notes on bass, and whether taken on an ambient level or in terms of the pure aural resonance, it leaves the band with just about nowhere else to go. So they end.

I have been to nine editions of the Roadburn festival. Each year offers at least one landmark performance — the one for which the festival is ultimately remembered. I don’t know if the effect could possibly be the same for someone who wasn’t there to witness it — and it’s precisely for that reason that I consider myself too close to it to be properly impartial, as noted above — but having witnessed SubRosa ‘SubDued’ and now having heard Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017, it only further cements this set as that in my mind for 2017. It’s been six months now since and I continue to feel affected by what they did on that Het Patronaat stage, and with these tracks documenting it as gorgeously and as essentially as they do, I can only hope that will sustain for years to come. It is a reminder of the power a live performance can have and, again, as rich an experience as I’ve ever had in that regard.

SubRosa, “No Safe Harbor” live at Roadburn 2017

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SubRosa to Release Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017 Dec. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

subrosa

Hands down, SubRosa were my band of the year at Roadburn 2017. The Salt Lake City dark atmospheric heavy rockers played two sets that I stood in awe and watched in their entirety. The first of them was on Thursday, April 20, and was a complete runthrough of 2016’s brilliant For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), which also happened to be my choice for the best album that came out last year, played on the Main Stage at the 013 venue. It was early in the fest but an unmistakable highlight that carried me through the weekend. I shit you not. I got on the plane home still thinking about how good SubRosa were that first day.

The second set, and something even more of a landmark, was the next day and it was called “SubRosa Subdued,” and it was a semi-acoustic take from the band on some of their older material, including songs from 2013’s More Constant than the Gods and reinterpreting material from their back catalog. It was at Het Patronaat — “the church,” as it’s known — and it was simply unreal. I stood directly in front of the stage, not 10 feet from the band, as they unleashed the gorgeous, devastating melodies of songs like “Whippoorwill,” “Cosey Mo” and the high point of the whole thing, the harmonized “The Mirror,” which even now listening back to it gives me shivers. I consider it some of the best news I’ve posted this year that Burning World / Roadburn Records will release Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017 on Dec. 1.

I’ll hope to have much more on this before we get to the release date,but the bottom line? Holy crap am I glad this is coming out. Info below is pretty preliminary, but you can check out the art and an audience video of “No Safe Harbor” below that should give you at least some basic idea of why I’m so excited at the prospect of this being released.

Dig:

subrosa subdued live at roadburn 2017

SubRosa – Subdued Live at Roadburn 2017

First ever live album by Subrosa after 5 studio albums on labels as Profound Lore and I Hate Records.

Recorded at the prestigious Roadburn Festival 2017 in a packed Patronaat. Mixed and mastered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa.

Vinyl version will follow in early 2018.

TRACKLIST
1. Whippoorwill
2. Borrowed Time Borrowed Eyes
3. Sugar Creek
4. The Inheritance
5. Cosey Mo
6. The Mirror
7. No Safe Harbor

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SubRosa, “No Safe Harbor” live at Roadburn 2017

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Review & Track Premiere: Slomatics, Futurians: Live at Roadburn

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

slomatics-futurians-live-at-roadburn

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Tramontane’ from Slomatics’ Futurians: Live at Roadburn. Album is out next month on Burning World/Roadburn Records with preorders posted here.]

Look. Sometimes in life you just have to do yourself a favor, and I have no problem admitting that’s my motivation behind reviewing the Futurians: Live at Roadburn release by Belfast, Northern Ireland, trio Slomatics. No problem whatsoever. I was fortunate enough to bear witness to earlier this year to the set captured at Roadburn 2017 in the Green Room of the 013 in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and as Roadburn Records/Burning World Records gears up to release it to the wider public, I feel no shame in being as stoked on it as I am. Does that make me impartial to the experience or the release itself? Fuck no. Do I every now and again enjoy approaching an album with unmitigated joy and hoping to convey some small sense of that revelry in what still might ostensibly pass as a “review?” Yeah. Every now and again. This is one of those cases.

So if you want a harsh critique of Slomatics‘ set minute-by-minute, or if you want some bland judgment about the level of their play overall throughout the eight-song/42-minute pummelfest of a set, feel free to look elsewhere. For me, much like seeing the three-piece of guitarists David Majury and Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist/synthesist Marty Harvey taking that stage in the first place, listening to Futurians: Live at Roadburn is a complete pleasure, front to back from the “Good evening Roadburn!” that Harvey tosses in four minutes into “Electric Breath” to the guest vocal appearance from Conan frontman Jon Davis on the finale “March of the 1,000 Volt Ghost.”

Those two cuts also represent the divide between the latest Slomatics studio LP, last year’s stellar Future Echo Returns (review here), and their 2005 debut, Flooding the Weir, and though the last several years especially have brought them to prominence in greater underground consciousness thanks in part to a 2011 split with Conan (review here) and the aforementioned Davis‘ work promoting them through his Black Bow Records imprint, citing (correctly) their influence on his work, etc., the set as a whole basks in the fullness of Slomatics‘ discography, with material from 2014’s Estron (review here) like “And Yet it Moves,” “Return to Kraken” and “Tramontane” from 2012’s preceding A Hocht, “Ulysses My Father” from the late-2014 split with Holly Hunt, and “Running Battle,” also taken from the debut.

It’s a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time to do it, but Slomatics, who’ve been proffering tonal demolition since 2004, are well up to the task. Still, given that Future Echo ReturnsEstron and A Hocht comprise a thematic and narrative trilogy — the storyline of which is still unclear, though we know that with “Supernothing” and “Into the Eternal” capping the latest record, the main character seems to at least be resigned to death if not actually dead — it’s something of a surprise they’d dip back to Flooding the Weir or the split at all, though one can hardly argue with the flow they set up across the eight tracks of Futurians: Live at Roadburn. It is a total cliché to say of heavy two-guitar bands without bass that they’re missing nothing for low end — and frankly, kind of a shitty thing to say about bassists in general, who add to the dynamic of a group even when the tonal space can be otherwise filled via effects or various methods of amplification, running guitars through bass heads, and so on — but with just Majury and Couzens as the string section, Slomatics‘ material is united regardless of its source by the unbridled weight of their distortion.

slomatics at roadburn photo jj koczan

I said in watching them at the time that they were the heaviest band I’d heard so far over the weekend. They would turn out to be the heaviest band — period — that I’d see at Roadburn this year, and that comes through in the massive roll of “Electric Breath” and the gallop of “Return to Kraken” alike, and as it did on Estron, “And Yet it Moves” lives up to its title — perhaps even more with the energy of the live delivery behind it. Indeed, one of the greatest assets that emerges from the band across Futurians: Live at Roadburn is that energy, and while my hearing it in the recording of “Tramontane” and “Supernothing” and “Ulysses My Father” may be due in part to having stood in front of the stage as it was happening, the vitality of their execution and how simply glad Slomatics were to be there comes through just the same and I believe is palpable whether a given listener saw them or not. Textual evidence? Go back to Harvey engaging the crowd in “Electric Breath,” or as they close out the set with “March of the 1,000 Volt Ghost.” The trio seem no less thrilled to be onstage than the cheering crowd is to have them.

And in kind with the bludgeoning, crushing tonality they bring to bear in the material — recorded in the Roadburnian tradition by Astrosoniq drummer Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team — it’s that spirit of joy that most pervades the release. There have been plenty of Live at Roadburn albums over the years, which is a credit in no small part to van de Vondervoort, and while some simply offer a glimpse of a professionally captured stop on a tour, or a curated setlist, whatever it might have been for a given band in a given year, with Slomatics, it was the show itself and the obvious extra effort put into the set that made it something special.

In other words, playing Roadburn clearly meant something to HarveyCouzens and Majury, and accordingly, it meant more to the audience to see it as well. I can’t speak for everyone who was there and I wouldn’t try to, but I know that for me, Slomatics hit on a particular vibe and sense of communion that in my experience only the very best of fully-bought-in Roadburn performances are able to hone. Thus it seems only more fitting that it should be preserved not only so that those who were there can have it for nostalgic purposes and the band can keep the momentum of their growth going post-Future Echo Returns, but in order to document a singular level of expression as a template for others to hopefully follow in years and fests to come.

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Slomatics to Release Futurians: Live at Roadburn in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

slomatics (photo jj koczan)

How good were Slomatics at Roadburn 2017? Oh, they were mighty good indeed. All the more reason to put a note in your phone or mark your calendar or do whatever it is to do to remind yourself about shit — maybe just preorder it when that goes live on Sept. 12? — that the Northern Irish riff-crushing trio will issue their set from this year’s fest in Tilburg this October via Burning World/Roadburn Records under the title of Futurians: Live at Roadburn. I’m telling you, I was there. It was awesome enough that when they were done I jumped on stage and took the photo above. I never do that kind of extroverted shit. Usually my ass is hiding in the back, pronto.

Point is Slomatics killed it on this one, as they will, and whether you were there to catch it or not, keep your eye out for Futurians: Live at Roadburn because the proof, as the saying goes, is in the pudding. The riffy, riffy pudding.

The PR wire fills in on the particulars:

slomatics futurians live at roadburn

ROADBURN RECORDS TO RELEASE SLOMATICS FUTURIANS: LIVE AT ROADBURN

Slomatics will release Futurians: Live At Roadburn on vinyl and digital this october on Roadburn Records.

The band commented on their performance on the legendary festival beforehand:

“To say we’re excited about playing Roadburn would be an understatement,” says guitarist David Majury. “It’s funny how something like a music festival can take on almost mythical proportions, but if any festival has done so it’s definitely Roadburn! We’ve had an association with the festival through our records being on Burning World Records, so it feels good to be finally hauling our fuzz pedals over to Tilburg.”

With Majury and Chris Couzens on guitar and drummer / vocalist Marty Harvey also handling synth, Slomatics defy logic with their sheer amount of low-end output. As the follow-up to 2014’s Estron and 2012’s A Hocht, Future Echo Returns (2016) was the third in a trilogy of albums, rounding out an extended story that the band purposefully leaves open for interpretation.

“I’m delighted we’ll be joining the 2017 edition of Roadburn,” echoes Couzens. “We’ve seen some incredible performances in Tilburg over the years and been blown away how the locals embrace the hordes of music fans that descend on them. It’ll be fantastic to join that special atmosphere as a performer in April!”

* 300 copies on clear vinyl worldwide
* pre-sale starts september 12th 2017 on BurningWorldrecords.com

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Slomatics, “And Yet it Moves” live at Roadburn 2017

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