Nebula and Black Rainbows Announce In Search of the Cosmic Tale: Crossing the Galactic Portal Split LP Out June 28; Premiere Nebula’s “Acid Drop”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

nebula black rainbows In Search of the Cosmic Tale Crossing the Galactic Portal

Not that you need one in the first place, but if you would look for an excuse as to what might bring SoCal heavy psychedelic rock forebears Nebula and Italian cosmosblasters Black Rainbows together, both will be on tour in Europe in the coming months, Nebula are well documented heroes of founding Black Rainbows guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori, and the split is listed as #300 in the catalog of Fiori‘s label, Heavy Psych Sounds, which has also stood behind Nebula‘s two post-resurgence LPs, 2022’s Transmission From Mothership Earth (review here) and 2019’s Holy Shit (review here).

Each act contributes three songs for a short but full-length-enough runtime of 32 minutes. Black Rainbows‘ tracks, as noted below, come from the sessions for their latest album, 2023’s Superskull (review here), while Nebula‘s side is newly recorded. Led off by Nebula‘s “Acid Drop” as the first single — it premieres below — the outing has been given the cumbersome title In Search of the Cosmic Tale: Crossing the Galactic Portal, which I have no doubt it has absolutely earned.

And if you’ve already stopped reading at the mention of the premiere below, or you skipped outright to the player, you won’t hear me argue. It’s a pretty straightforward proposition to bring these two together, however winding and/or spaced the course of the actual music may turn out to be, and something of a no-brainer to keep on your radar as summer starts to heat up. Nebula were in Europe last Fall as well, so I don’t know whether they’ll make the return trip to meet up with Black Rainbows at the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in Germany, but it’s a universe of infinite possibility.

The raw crunch-punk fuckery of “Acid Drop,” with its blown-out vocals and swirling jam into the fade, follows on the player below. Beyond that, the PR wire takes over.

Dig if you dig:

Nebula, “Acid Drop” track premiere

HPS300 – NEBULA / BLACK RAINBOWS – In Search Of The Cosmic Tale: Crossing The Galactic Portal

There’s not much to add, two of the greatest Heavy Psych bands of the scene join the forces to give birth to an incredible Split Album.

Packed with 32 minutes of the highest quality heavy rock you can find out there; a joint venture which can happen only once every 100 years!!

Heavy Psych king-pioneers Nebula bring to life three brand new songs, recorded expressly for this incredible project. Three new gems which follow their latest “Holy Shit” and “Transmission….”

Black Rainbows add in three songs of their own, handpicked from the recording session of their latest success “Superskull”, released back in 2023. Delivering two Stoner in-your-face Heavy Fuzz pieces and one Heavy Space tune to celebrate this awesome collaboration!!

The cover art pairs perfectly with the vision and vibe of the album and is credited to the mighty Simon Berndt.

1. Acid Drop
2. Eye of the Storm
3. Ceasar XXXIV

Recorded at “High Desert Sound Studios “ Spring Equinox 2024.
Produced and Mixed by Nebula
Mastered by Claudio Pisi Gruer at Pisi Studio 

Eddie Glass : Guitars, Vocals, Drums
Ranch Sironi : Bass, Vocals, Mix Down
Warzone Speedwolf : Drums 

1. The Secret
2. Thunder Lights on the Greatest Sky
3. Dogs of War

Recorded 11-12-13 May 2022 at Forward Studio, Rome, Italy by Fabio Sforza and Andrea Secchi
Vocals, Synths, Overdubs Recorded in November and December 2022
At Forward Studios and Channel 5 Studio by Andrea Secchi and Gabriele Fiori
Mixed and Engineered by Fabio Sforza
Mastered by Claudio Pisi Gruer at Pisi Studio
All Songs, Music and Lyrics written by Gabriele Fiori

Gabriele Fiori — Guitars & Vocals
Edoardo “Mancio” Mancini — Bass
Filippo Ragazzoni — Drums

BLACK RAINBOWS European shows 2024
03.05 – Barcelona (SP) 62 Club
04.05 – Vidiago (SP) Vidiago Rock Fest
07.06 – Winterthur (CH) Gaswerk – Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
14.06 – Genova (ITA) TBA
28.06 – Clisson (FR) Hellfest
29.06 Passau (DE) Blackdoor Fest
13.07 – Trieste (IT) TBA
10.08 – Bagnes (CH) Palp Fest
12/13.10 – Berlin (DE) Heavy Psych Sounds Fest
27/28.10 – Dresden (DE) Heavy Psych Sounds Fest

NEBULA European Tour 2024
SU. 09.06.24 IT ***OPEN SLOT***
FR. 14.06.24 DE ***OPEN SLOT***
SA. 22.06.24 FR ***OPEN SLOT***
WE. 03.07.24 UK ***OPEN SLOT***

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Video Interview: Brume on Marten, Dolly Parton, All the Lost Rap Parts of Their Songs & More

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on April 8th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

brume (Photo by Jamie MacCathie)

San Francisco’s Brume will release their new album, Marten, through Magnetic Eye Records on May 3. That’s less than a month away. The interview in the video below was conducted back in February, and the reason for that was basically that I heard the thing, got excited about it, and wanted to chat. I had asked bassist/vocalist Susie McMullan (also keys) for a lyric sheet, which she was gracious enough to supply, and reading through, I could see the genuine poetic voice behind a lot of the words; somewhat playful, sometimes sad and/or angry, but pervasively grounded in the actual language being used. Mother Earth, in condemning humanity’s destruction of the planet, calls it rude (that’s “How Rude,” for which they have a new video, also below). McMullan‘s threat “Do you mind if I step in?” is pointedly low-key in redirecting the conversation of “Run Your Mouth.” Just two among many other examples throughout the record.

Part of what makes it striking is that with so much nuance in the careful balance of the vocal arrangements between McMullan, guitarist Jamie McCathie, and cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (also Grayceon, ex-Giant Squid, etc.), the chamber-style presence of the strings amid instrumental dynamics crossing the span from minimalism to outright crush — Jordan Perkins-Lewis‘ drums steady at the foundation for either — you’d almost expect more pretense, more grandiosity. Instead, Marten — named brume martenfor the kind of varmint on its cover, and maybe also a little bit some dude they met on tour in Europe — is casual from the outset. What could be less formal than the name “Jimmy?” However sweeping or consuming “New Sadder You” or “Faux Savior” get, and no matter who is actually delivering the lines in a given verse, that underlying point of view holds firm.

It is a record loaded with stories. There was a lot to talk about, and there probably still is. As regards the interview itself, I’ll tell you that I had had a day by the time McGathieMcMullan and I hopped on Zoom. I should’ve canceled. It’s not a question of performance or anything like that, but about 20 minutes before we started talking I was getting punched by my kid for I don’t even remember what, and I just kind of suck here. I had a hard time going back and watching it, to tell you the truth. I’d transcribe it (ha) if I ever had time, maybe edit the video, but that also feels a little less honest to the experience, and, well, everybody on the internet pretends they’re fucking perfect all the time and in the interest of down-to-earth, here’s me taking myself down a peg. I haven’t done a lot of video interviews in the last year-plus. I really wanted to talk to Brume. If I had it to do over, I would, but sometimes one part of life bleeds into another, and while I’m sure it’s worse to me than to someone else watching, I just kind of get sad looking at and hearing myself here.

So enjoy! Yeah, I know. I haven’t sold it well. Fair enough.

What I’ll tell you is that whether you actually dig into the interview clip or not — and Susie and Jamie had cool stuff to say, so don’t not watch it — listen to the music. “Jimmy,” “New Sadder You” and, as of yesterday, “How Rude” are available as singles. They don’t represent the gospel blues of “Faux Savior” or the emotive fluidity that closes Marten in “The Yearn,” but god damn, do they land heavy on any level you want to consider.

So one way or the other, yeah, do enjoy. Thanks for reading and watching if you do:

Brume, Marten Interview, Feb. 22, 2024

Marten is out May 3 on Magnetic Eye Records. Preorders available here:

Brume, Marten (2024)

Brume, “How Rude” official video

Brume, “Jimmy” official video

Brume on Facebook

Brume on Instagram

Brume website

Magnetic Eye Records store

Magnetic Eye Records website

Magnetic Eye Records on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records on Instagram

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Sumac to Release The Healer June 21; West Coast Tour Announced & Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 5th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

SUMAC (Photo by Nate Newton)

In the interest of honesty, I’ll tell you I’ve felt like I missed the boat on Sumac pretty much since their debut, The Deal (review here), came out in 2015, and now as they make public the first single from their four-song 2LP fifth album, The Healer, with all due ethereal presence amid its early, chugging post-metallic march, it’s much the same. I won’t deny the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner (ex-Isis, Mammifer, House of Low Culture, etc.), bassist Brian Cook (Russian Circles, Botch, ex-These Arms are Snakes, etc.) and drummer Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists, Genghis Tron, etc.) were a force to behold on stage when I was lucky enough to see them in 2019, and I won’t deny that they have an individualized creative breadth of their own that’s vast enough to justify their not being called a supergroup despite the pedigree in parentheses above — you can hear it in the 12-minute course of “Yellow Dawn,” to be sure — I’ve just never managed to get all the way on board with the hype as I probably should have considering who these guys are and the work they’ve done in this band.

A personal failing, then. The American branch of the style in which Sumac loosely reside — post-metal, though there’s plenty of harsh noise in “Yellow Dawn” too if you want to go by genre elements, never mind the angular crush that resolves the lead single’s 12 minutes — could use a new figurehead. Maybe it’s these guys, though their ambitions or at least the framing of the promotion around them have always come across as less adherent to categorization. I don’t know. They’re touring. They’ll probably tour more than this. Fair enough.

The Healer is out June 21 on Thrill Jockey, who sent the following down the PR wire:

sumac the healer

SUMAC announce new album The Healer, out Jun. 21st; share new track “Yellow Dawn”

Pre-order SUMAC’s The Healer:

SUMAC, the Northwest-based trio SUMAC consisting of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner, bassist Brian Cook, and drummer Nick Yacyshyn have announced their new album The Healer, out on June 21st on 2xLP. Alongside the album’s announcement, the trio have shared the single “Yellow Dawn,” an epic that churns meditative organ by Faith Coloccia into a glacial stomp that the band obliterates into swirls of airtight riffing and untethered, intoxicating improvisations.

On The Healer, recorded and mixed by Scott Evans (Kowloon Walled City, Thrice, Great Falls, Autopsy), SUMAC deepens its multi-faceted exploration into the parallel experiences of creation and destruction. Over the course of 4 tracks in 76 minutes, SUMAC presents a sequence of shifting movements which undergo a constant process of expansion, contraction, corruption and regrowth.

This musical methodology reflects the thematic nature of the record – narratives of experiential wounding as gateways to empowerment and evolution, both individual and collective. The group’s interpolation of melody, drone, improvisation, and complex riffing becomes a transmogrifying act embodying the depth of human experience. In its highest aspiration it mirrors our ability to endure mortal and spiritual challenges, through which we may emerge with an increased capacity for understanding, empathy, love of self and others. Dismal though the subterranean pits of The Healer may at first appear, from them can be felt the unwavering determination to embrace life, acknowledge interdependence, and honor the gift of existence.

SUMAC – The Healer tracklist:
1. World of Light
2. Yellow Dawn
3. New Rites
4. The Stone’s Turn

In support of the release of The Healer, SUMAC will be touring throughout North America, including a set at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival alongside Moor Mother, whom they recently recorded with.

SUMAC tour dates
Jun. 21 – Vancouver, BC – Fortune Sound Club (Vancouver International Jazz Fest) ^
Jun. 22 – Seattle, WA – Clock-Out Lounge #
Jun. 23 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios #
Jun. 25 – Chico, CA – Naked Lounge Coffee #
Jun. 26 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill #
Jun. 27 – Oxnard, CA – Mrs. Olson’s #
Jun. 28 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon *
Jun. 29 – Los Angeles, CA – 2220 Arts + Archives ~
Jun. 30 – Las Vegas, NV – Backstage Bar & Billiards %
Jul. 1 – Reno, NV – Holland Project %
^ w/ Moor Mother
# w/ White Boy Scream, Grave Infestation
* w/ White Boy Scream, Sulfuric Cautery
~ w/ Zachary Watkins, White Boy Scream

Sumac, The Healer (2024)

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Slower Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 4th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

It’s something of a surprise to see Slower touring. The Slayer covers project helmed by guitarist Bob Balch released its self-titled debut (review here) through Heavy Psych Sounds earlier this year, and even then, the lineup was broadly cast enough to make live performances seem less likely. In addition to BalchAmy Tung Barrysmith and Esben Willems — who will be the on-stage incarnation of the band — the album also featured Peder Bergstrand (Lowrider), Laura Pleasants (ex-Kylesa) and Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed, etc.), so you might be forgiven if the possibility of Slower as a touring entity didn’t occur to you either.

And certainly not even among the three players heading out, no one’s lacking for goings on. Balch is about to release a new Fu Manchu album this Spring, Barrysmith recently finished recording the next Year of the Cobra (awaited), and Willems put out his first-ever solo LP like a week ago. Oh, you’re gonna go tour with a completely different band playing rearranged thrash songs in Europe? Yeah, cool. I mean, if you’re not busy or anything.

The prospect is no less badass for being unexpected, however, and if this is a testing of waters for more to come and Slower will be ongoing, so much the better. Between the three of them, they could get up there and do “Wheels on the Bus” and it’d be heavy. I’ll look forward to the video that hopefully someone at a show gets.

Doomstar Bookings posted the following:

Slower euro tour

Slower announce their European Tour 2024! Check out all dates below!

Tickets are on sale via

Slower states: “Everything in this project just fell into place naturally, even though none of us really knew what to expect going in, other than being inspired by the idea. Now that the album has become reality, it feels like a given to get these songs on the road. Cannot wait to play them live, this one is gonna be a blast.”

11.08.24 – Gothenburg (SE) – Musikens Hus
11.09/24 – Copenhagen (DK) – BETA
11.10.24 – Berlin (DE) – Cassiopeia
11.11.24 – Dresden (DE) – Chemiefabrik
11.12.24 – Vienna (AT) – Arena
11.13.24 – Munich (DE) – Feierwerk
11.14.24 – Essen (DE) – Turock
11.15.24 – Haarlem (NL) – Patronaat
11.16.24 – Paris (FR) – Backstage
11.17.24 – Hamburg (DE) – Headcrash

SLOWER live lineup:
Esben Willems (drums) MONOLORD
Amy Barrysmith (vocals) YEAR OF THE COBRA
Bob Balch (guitars) FU MANCHU

Slower, Slower (2024)

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Album Review: Early Moods, A Sinner’s Past

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

early moods a sinner's past

Part of what has been exciting about L.A. County classic doom metallers Early Moods over the last few years is the potential for how they might develop as a new generation’s spearhead in engaging the style. A Sinner’s Past is their second LP through RidingEasy Records behind 2022’s self-titled debut (review here) and their 2020 debut EP, Spellbound (review here), and it follows suit with their prior work in being in immediate conversation with the doom of yore. Somewhere, swimming a vault of Black Sabbath bootlegs like some doom-riffing Scrooge McDuck, Leif Edling is smiling. Candlemass have been a guiding presence for Early Moods since their outset, but as the five-piece of vocalist Alberto Alcaraz (also keys), guitarists Eddie Andrade and Oscar Hernandez (lead), bassist Elix Feliciano and drummer Chris Flores specifically tap “Samarithan” for the verses of “The Apparition,” even the command and confidence with which they’re doing so comes across as continued progression.

But across its CD-era-vibing 49-minute runtime and eight component tracks, A Sinner’s Past is about more than saluting genre heroes. Early Moods had already begun the process of internalizing root influences like the aforementioned Candlemass and various eras of Sabbath, and in the way the punchy bass and steady nod that begins opening cut “Last Hour” gives over right about halfway into its 5:41 to gallop, swing and shred, they not only foreshadow tempo shifts to come like that in the reaches of the eight-minute “Hell’s Odyssey,” penultimate to closer “Soul Sorcery” on side B, but offer a first look at the grim recesses in which their tones will dwell throughout and the expanded scope and intentions heard throughout in “Unhinged Spirit,” with its acoustic intro leading to a procession that lumbers until it careens, or the harsher vocal moments in “Blood Offerings” and “Walpurguise” calling out to the metal of the 1980s without ignoring the 40 years since.

Relative youth as compared to much of the current sphere of doom is still an advantage Early Moods enjoy, and A Sinner’s Past is still rife with the energy of a young band exploring their sound and style, but they also have a better idea of what they want in both of those than they did two years ago, and that comes through as well as “Blood Offerings” trades the Candlemassian poise for a more dug-in, Pentagram-style shove — at least until the screams come (get it? anybody? no? moving on.) — with all due grit and groove, and the title-track makes even the entry of Flores‘ speedy hi-hat at 4:09 as they transition from the initial plod and dudes-running-in-a-circle mosh through the circa-’75 Iommic solo section and into the chugging build-up to the faster culmination, another solo thrown in for good measure before they cap with the riff. That they would cover that kind of ground on their second album isn’t a huge surprise — they’ve proven at this point able to keep their collective head as songwriters through various changes of mood, tempo and melody within their doomly trajectory; they’re a good band and that’s a thing good bands can do when they want to — but that they’d do it with such clear purpose and still convey an overarching atmosphere through those changes is an aspect of A Sinner’s Past that’s demonstrative of their growth as a unit, and it’s not at all the only one.

early moods (Photo by Mike Wuthrich)

The production, helmed by Allen Falcon at Birdcage Studios in Pico Rivera, finds the more cavernous veneer of the first album traded for an in-your-face aural crunch that’s modern in the separation of the instruments but allows a sense of live performance to come through, whether it’s at the dirge pace of “The Apparition,” the midtempo nods of “Unhinged Spirit” and “Walpurguise” or the plod-into-swing of “Soul Sorcery.” While still resonant in their homage to the doom of eld, Early Moods are beginning to cast genre in their image, and the most vital moments of A Sinner’s Past are in the weight of a drag, the coursing tension of their faster movements, and how each plays off the other. They are becoming more dynamic — no doubt the not-minor amount of touring they’ve done in the last year-plus is a piece of this and will continue to be — and stronger for that.

That’s worth appreciating, to be sure, but if your experience of “Hell’s Odyssey” is more about the journey being undertaken and less about how skillfully it retains its impact amid the faster delivery early on — the answer for that, if you’re curious, is the same as nearly always: the bass — and moves into NWOBHM harmonized leads from Andrade and Hernandez before the latter launches into the solo in earnest, I don’t think you’re wrong. Part of the appeal of Early Moods as an emergent revamp of traditionalist doom is the familiar that’s to be found within the new, in aesthetic terms. I don’t think they’ve done their best work as a band yet, but A Sinner’s Past gives more than a few hints of where they’re headed, and the forward potential in their work is no less prevalent for what they’ve achieved in these songs.

You can overthink it if you want — clearly I’m a fan of that approach in any number of contexts — but the material is composed and executed in such a way that, if you want to nod out and let the groove carry you from “Last Hour” to “Soul Sorcery,” there’s nothing in that span that’s going to pull you out of the moment, and for that alone, A Sinner’s Past is a substantial offering. They’ve been on their way to headlining pretty much since the word go, and seem to be motivated toward those ends, toward making an impact on doom and influencing those who inevitably will follow in their wake, but whatever their future might or might not bring, the sense of an idea conceived and realized across A Sinner’s Past is palpable and so is the artistic growth within and around that. If it does turn out to be their most significant contribution to doom — if the band ended tomorrow and cut short all that potential and blah blah blah — you wouldn’t be able to listen to this record and say they didn’t give everything they had to it.

Early Moods, “A Sinner’s Past” official video

Early Moods, A Sinner’s Past (2024)

Early Moods

Early Moods on Instagram

Early Moods on Facebook

Early Moods on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records on Instagram

RidingEasy Records on Facebook

RidingEasy Records store

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Fu Manchu to Release 2LP The Return of Tomorrow June 14; Euro Tour Dates Announced; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

fu manchu

You couldn’t stop Fu Manchu if you wanted to, and for the life of me, why on earth would you try? The long-tenured fuzz heroes of San Clemente, California, have spent the last couple years embroiled in a celebration of their 30th anniversary that got derailed by a global pandemic but still resulted in three EPs coming out, reissuing past outings through their own At the Dojo Records imprint — they’ve got a snazzy and limited 2LP of 2004’s Go for It… Live! up for preorder now in addition to the new studio album that’s the impetus for this post — releasing the Live at Roadburn 2003 live LP and taking on not a small amount of touring.

All of this is in addition to guitarist Bob Balch branching out with multiple other projects — Big Scenic Nowhere, Yawning Balch, Slower, etc. — drummer Scott Reeder releasing his own solo debut under the moniker Jacket Thief and bassist Brad Davis collaborating with Andrew Giacumakis, formerly of Moab and a producer on Fu Manchu‘s last two albums, 2014’s Gigantoid (review here) and 2018’s Clone of the Universe (review here), as Gods of Sometimes, whose 2023 self-titled debut I sure hope gets a follow-up at some point or other.

Last week, the band put up a teaser video of a spinning test pressing, noted the approval of same, and began teasing the proverbial ‘big news.’ Today brings that news, of the next Fu Manchu album, a 2LP based around distinctions between faster and slower material (I love Slowmanchu), and as the outfit founded and fronted by guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill unveil the first single “Hands of the Zodiac” from the new record, titled The Return of Tomorrow, which like Clone of the Universe was captured at The Racket Room by Jim Monroe, their punk-born immediacy, trademark groove and swing feel well intact.

You’ll also note two European tours being announced today, for summer and the coming autumn. They’d been previously confirmed for Keep it Low in Munich and Desertfest Belgium, so the tour isn’t necessarily a surprise, but while you’re getting your preorder together, it’s something else to keep in mind.

But first, the track, which is at the bottom of this post, along with the most recent Fu30 EP, basically for the hell of it. If you dig heavy rock and roll at all, from any point in history, and you’ve never gotten into Fu Manchu — that person exists — today is as good a day as any, and any day that brings new Fu is a good day. Album’s out June 14.


fu manchu the return of tomorrow

SoCal Rock Giants FU MANCHU Announce New Double Album, ‘The Return of Tomorrow,’ Coming June 14th

Album preorder:

Stream “Hands of the Zodiac”:

European tour info & tickets:

fu manchu tourGroundbreaking pioneers of SoCal desert rock FU MANCHU, have announced details of their forthcoming, 14th album, The Return of Tomorrow, which will be released on June 14th via the band’s label At The Dojo Records.

FU MANCHU’s follow up to the critically lauded Clone of the Universe (2018) and their first ever double album is a sonic journey through massively heavy riffage, otherworldly space jams and mellow rock anthems divided into two records.

A 4,000 unit limited edition double vinyl version of The Return of Tomorrow pressed at 45RPM and packaged in a glossy gatefold jacket with one “Space” colored LP and one “Sky” colored LP is available now for pre-order with an exclusive merch design here:

Commenting on the impending record, founding guitarist and vocalist Scott Hill says:

“When I listen to music, it’s either all heavy stuff with no mellow stuff mixed in or just softer stuff with no heavy stuff. I know a lot of bands like to mix it up and we have done that before, but I always tend to listen to all of one type of thing or the other. So, I figured we should do a double record with 7 heavy fuzzy songs on one record and the other record 6 mellow(er) songs fully realizing that maybe I’m the only person that likes to listen to stuff that way. We kept both the records to around 25-30 minutes each as to make it a full length release, but not have each record be too long. We don’t write a lot of mellow(er) stuff in Fu Manchu, but a lot of the riffs worked minus the fuzz. If you’re a vinyl person, both records are pressed at 45rpm to give it the best sound quality. If you’re a digital person, can make your own playlist and mix both the records together.”

Today, the band reveals the album’s artwork, track list and first single, “Hands of the Zodiac,” a heavy, fuzzed out jam replete with scorching guitar solos meant to be cranked at maximum volume.

Adding about the single, Hill sates:

“‘Hands Of The Zodiac’ is about an astrologer friend of mine who would always ask if we wanted to know anything about our future whenever we would hang out. He would look to the stars at night and ramble off all these weird predictions, none of which ever came true. He would say ‘zodiac hands’ and face the palm of his hand at you. I would always try to remember the things he said and almost every line in the song is something he said. For example, ‘Wheels / Motion / So Impressed,’ is based on how he talked about my writing songs / practicing / touring with the band ( ‘you got those wheels in motion)’ and Fu Manchu’s accomplishments (‘so impressed.’) I guess I should have given him a writing credit.”

1. Dehumanize
2. Loch Ness Wrecking Machine
3. Hands of the Zodiac
4. Haze the Hides
5. Roads of the Lowly
6. (Time Is) Pulling You Under
7. Destroyin’ Light
8. Lifetime Waiting
9. Solar Baaptized
10. What I Need
11. The Return of Tomorrow
12. Liquify
13. High Tide

Also announced today, FU MANCHU will embark on European tours in June and October, including performances at festivals Graspop Metal Meeting, Copenhell and Hellfest. All upcoming tour dates listed below. Tickets available at

FU MANCHU Tour Dates:
May 18 – Vancouver, BC – Modified Ghost 2024
June 15 – Tampere, FI – Tavara-asema
June 17 – Stockholm, SE – Slaktkyrkan
June 18 – Oslo, NO – Vulkan Arena
June 19 – Malmo, SE – Plan B
June 21 – Dessel, BE – Graspop Metal Meeting
June 22 – Copenhagen, DK – Copenhell
June 24 – Osnabruck, DE – Lagerhalle
June 25 – Cologne, DE – Stollwerck
June 26 – Frankfurt, DE – Batschkapp
June 28 – Clisson, FR – Hellfest (Valley Stage)
Oct 12 – Munich, DE – Keep It Low Festival @ Backstage
Oct 13 – Berlin, DE – Heavy Psych Sounds Fest @ Huxleys
Oct 15 – Vienna, AT – Arena
Oct 16 – Aarau, CH – KIFF
Oct 18 – Luxembourg City, LU – Atelier
Oct 19 – Antwerp, BE – Desertfest Belgium
Oct 21 – Manchester, UK – O2 Ritz
Oct 22 – Bristol, UK – Marble Factory
Oct 23 – London, UK – Electric Ballroom
Oct 25 – Masstricht, NL – Musiekgeiterj
Oct 26 – Hamburg, DE – Lazy Bones Festival @ Markthalle
Oct 27 – Dresden, DE – Heavy Psych Sounds Fest @ Chemiefabrik

Fu Manchu are:
Scott Hill – vocals guitar
Bob Balch – Lead guitar / backing vocals
Brad Davis – Bass – Backing vocals
Scott Reeder – Drums / Backing Vocals

Fu Manchu, “Hands of the Zodiac” visualizer

Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 3 EP (2023)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matt Harvey of Exhumed, Gruesome, Pounder, Etc.

Posted in Questionnaire on March 25th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Matt-Harvey (Photo by Jehn W.A.)

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matt Harvey of Exhumed, Gruesome, Pounder, etc.

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I guess I define what I do as making shit – or taking things from my mind and working them into something other people can also check out – whether that’s a piece of music, writing, drawing or whatever it might be. So yeah, making shit.

Describe your first musical memory.

That’s a tough one. My earliest musical memories are tangled up in other stuff – I remember the theme song and all of the musical score pieces for the Spider-Man cartoon from the late 60s very vividly from my childhood, but there was also music from Star Wars, Chariots of Fire, Raiders of the Lost Ark and tons of stuff from my Dad’s record collection – stuff I love like Hendrix, Cream, the Beatles, the Allman Brothers, the Kinks, the Who, the soundtrack to The Big Chill, which had a ton of old Motown tracks on it – and stuff that kinda bugs me like Janis Joplin, Emerson Lake and Palmer and stuff like that. That was all of the stuff floating around my house circa 1979-1981, which are really the first memories I can sort of conjure in the corner of my eye. When I try to really wrap my perception around them or see them clearly, they recede, but they’re definitely there. I remember humming all the time as a kid while I drew – I loved to draw as a little kid, mostly comic book stuff – and my mom asking me what I was humming and I had no idea, it was just whatever little tune was running through my head, so I guess that’s always been there. I feel very lucky that little tune has never stopped, it’s just mutated and spiraled and branched into a tangle of streams and floods and tributaries of consciousness.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

As an audience member, I think my favorite moment came while watching S&M II in San Francisco where Metallica played with the symphony. There was a fantastic contrabass player who did an incredible arrangement of Anesthesia – Pulling Teeth that was incredibly moving. Knowing what that might have meant to Cliff had he lived to see it just filled me with an unexpected surge of emotion that brought me to the brink of tears. As a songwriter or a player, I don’t know that there’s a “best moment” really. I love the feeling of each tiny, incremental epiphany that comes from finally making sense of some aspect of music theory or coming up with a sick riff or seeing your idea work in ways you didn’t even anticipate. Every time is amazing, and it happens all the time. That’s what keeps me interested (okay, maybe obsessed) with writing music pretty much all the time.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Over the years, I’ve come to be more objective about my own perspectives, or at least I’ve tried to become more objective. One shift that was significant to me was that I realized that I grew up thinking that the most important things in my music were the music itself and (most importantly) why I was making that music. In learning from / working with others, I’ve come to realize that the presentation and execution of the idea is as important (sometimes more important) than the idea itself. I always saw that as secondary, and shied away from it by trying to call it vanity or pretension, but I realize now spending time on the presentation and execution (whether it be the instruments and gear used to execute the idea or the production values, etc) enriches the idea itself and helps people understand the “why” behind it. That’s a truth that took far too long for me to consider, and even longer for me to admit and subsequently embrace.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

It can lead pretty much anywhere – which is what’s so exciting about it. But for me, I try to make sure it’s not a linear path. I don’t want to progress into a “final form,” because that implies that the journey has an endpoint. I know it’s cliché, but the point is the journey itself, following each tangent into something new and interesting – even if it leads to frustration or “failure,” there’s value in the journey and in the seeking of something. It’s like knowing yourself – a thing that’s never fully possible, but it’s 100% valuable to pursue. I’d say progression leads away from stagnation, away from ideological death and towards something vital and something real.

How do you define success?

Satisfaction with your work – fulfillment from your work, both artistically (the first priority) and materially. Also muscle cars, hookers and cocaine. Kidding (sort of).

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I remember being really intoxicated in San Francisco years and years ago and somehow my girlfriend and I were hanging out with someone that worked in the morgue of a hospital. As we continued to imbibe, we left the bar and they ended up taking us on a walkthrough which was really interesting. They offered to show me the corpse of a Jane Doe that had washed up out of the bay and clearly they thought it would be cool if I wanted to check it out. I agreed, but upon seeing the body, bloated and discolored from being in the water, I instantly regretted it. I felt like I was intruding on something personal and sad and it wasn’t my business to see that. Whoever that person was, they deserved better than to be leered out by some drunk coked-out Death Metal guy.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A full-length, epic motion-picture soundtrack.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Communication – it’s a way of communicating things that you may not even understand about what you’re feeling to people who then not only connect with you and your feelings, but internalize that art and connect it to their own experiences and emotions. That’s a wonderful, wondrous thing to attempt.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Summer, also known as the best season!

Matt Harvey, Toward the Cold Light (2024)

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Castle Sign to Hammerheart Records; Evil Remains Due in September

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Last month, when Castle announced the not-here-yet April 1 release of their live album, One Knight Stands: Live in NY (info here), through their own Black Wren Records imprint, it didn’t seem out of line to think they’d handle the follow-up studio release noted at the time as well. Today, the plot thickens as Hammerheart Records (Trouble, among many others across a range of heavy and/or metal subgenres) steps in to issue Evil Remains this Fall, which will arrive concurrent to three weeks of touring in Europe over the course of Sept. 9-30. That puts them earlier than many of the Fall heavy festivals, but that’s only fitting for a band who’ve always followed their own path.

There are a couple TBAs, and as always, if you can help out, you should. I haven’t heard Evil Remains yet, so can’t tell you much more about it other than it’s six months out from being released, minimum, so I probably shouldn’t have heard it yet either. Let’s assume there will be more details — including the release date — between now and then, and if you’re desperate for something new to dig into, well it just so happens there are two songs from the live record streaming now. See? Everything works out sometimes.

The PR wire sends its regards, hopes you’re well, and had this to say:

castle evil remains

Heavy Metal/Doom trio Castle signs to Hammerheart Records for their new album “Evil Remains”!

Hammerheart Records are proud to announce they have signed Castle for a worldwide release of the new album in September 2024 to coincide with a 22 date European tour, their first since 2018.

Castle guitarist Mat Davis states “We’re thrilled to sign with Hammerheart Records and partner together for the release of Evil Remains. It’s our best album to date, the production is huge and really captures the power and nuance of Liz’s vocal performance. We can’t wait to get it out there and start playing these songs live.”

Heavy metal/doom trio Castle have completed recording their new album “Evil Remains” at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver, BC with producer Jesse Gander (Anciients, Brutus, 3 Inches Of Blood).

“Evil Remains”, the band’s sixth full length follows 2018’s “Deal thy Fate” and 2016’s critically-lauded “Welcome to the Graveyard”.

Castle tourdates:
9/9 Bamberg, DE – Live Club
9/10 Karlsruhe, DE – Kohi
9/11 Freiburg, DE – Slow Club
9/12 Marburg, DE – Knubbel
9/13 Weikersheim, DE – Club W71
9/14 Leipzig, DE – Black Label
9/15 Munich, DE – Backstage
9/16 TBA
9/17 Dusseldorf, DE – Pitcher
9/18 Hamburg, DE – Logo
9/19 Malmo, SE – Plan B
9/20 Oslo, NO – Vaterland
9/21 Gothenburg, SE – The Abyss
9/22 Copenhagen, DK – Rahus
9/23 Berlin, DE – Reset
9/24 Prague, CZ – Modra Vopice
9/25 Vienna, AU – Viper Room
9/26 Ljubljana, SI – Channel Zero
9/27 Bologna, IT – Freakout Club
9/28 TBA
9/30 TBA

Castle, One Knight Stands: Live in NY (2024)

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