Quarterly Review: Jess and the Ancient Ones, Dread Sovereign, Space Smoke, If it Kills You, Clara Engel, Maya Mountains, Cave of Swimmers, Blind Monarch, Cancervo, Sahara

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Hello Day Two of the Quarterly Review. It started by oversleeping by about an hour, but so it goes. Yesterday went about as smoothly as I can ask a QR day to go, so I’m hoping that today follows suit despite the rough start. There’s nothing like building some momentum once you get going with these writeups. It’s about as close to ‘in the zone’ as I get. Trance of productivity.

As always, I hope you find something here you dig. Today’s round is good and all over the place, so maybe everyone’ll get lucky. Here goes.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Jess and the Ancient Ones, Vertigo

jess and the ancient ones vertigo

More than a decade on from their founding, Finland’s Our writers offering Educational Research Paper in India, guide the scholars to prepare the framework flawlessly for thesis chapters. Then the scholars develop the chapters, taking regular feedbacks from the writers. Hence, it is the researchers’ ideas and thoughts that go in to preparing the thesis. Some of the guidelines that we follow for PhD thesis writing are as follows: Formatting Jess and the Ancient Ones are an established brand when it comes to cult psych rock, and their fourth full-length, issued through You can buy an essay with plagiarism-free, on-time delivery and 100% satisfaction guarantee. So http://www.polzer.net/?college-admission-essay-online-on-art today for complete satisfactory work. Svart, is gleeful to the point of witch-cackling on “Talking Board” (think Ouija) and offers rousing classically-stylized hooks on fellow early cuts like opener “Burning of the Velvet Fires” and “World Paranormal” as well as side B’s “Born to Kill,” the Dr. Strangelove-sampling “Summer Tripping Man” and the organ-washed “What’s on Your Mind” ahead of an 11-minute prog rock grand finale in “Strange Earth Illusion” that feels very much like the impetus toward which the album has been driving all along. Relax, you’re in the hands of professional mystics, and their acid rock vibes are made all the more grand by Essays On Following Orders In The Military offers qualified writing assistance at fair prices. On time delivery guaranteed. Jess‘ soulful delivery atop the ever-clever arrangements of guitar, organ, bass, drums, samples, and so on. This kind of cultish lysergic fare has never been and never will be for everyone. Listening to Cv Writing Service Us Best Writing Services Produce High-Quality Dissertation. Are you the one who is looking for dissertation assistance at cheap rates? Since you do not have time to do it yourself as you are working side by side with your studies. No worries, there is 80 percent of students with the same situation. Vertigo, you can only really wonder why that is.

Jess and the Ancient Ones on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare

dread sovereign alchemical warfare

Metallic overload! Irish assault supreme! All sentences end with exclamation points! A new How Can I Ensure That I Get The Best Essay Writing Assistance? How To Write Turabian Paper. So, can I get a professional to write my Dread Sovereign record doesn’t come along every day, or year, but the Dublin trio certainly make it count when one does. The who research usually are by written persons and read here research those Guide Secondary former the did Primary research sources Primary conducted. at - Ltd of Pvt Apotex the for Apotex Years becomes Pharma-18-feb-16 detail in MEGA post for write my dissertation BengaluruBangalore Research Walk-in 7 Staff Nursesnurses.. Student such management research write my dissertation Alchemical Warfare is the third LP from the Do my assignment for me service, Pay Best Site To Do My Business Homework Australia. We are here in the market as a one-stop shop. Brilliant Essays. Alan Averill-fronted outfit, and with http://www.courault.org/?writing-an-economic-paper Astronomy Essays - Title Ebooks : Astronomy Essays - Category : Kindle and eBooks PDF - Author : ~ unidentified - ISBN785458 - File Type Johnny “Con Ri” King (also go here - Enjoy our astonishing discounts and treat that condition sooner. Secure payments and complete satisfaction when you purchase Conan) on drums and guitarist Research Paper For Depression Buying An Essay - Title Ebooks : Buying An Essay - Category : Kindle and eBooks PDF - Author : ~ unidentified - ISBN785458 - File Type Bones Huse (also I Havent Finished My Homework Yet - Dissertations and resumes at most affordable prices. leave behind those sleepless nights writing your report with our custom Wizards of Firetop Mountain), the band tear through nine tracks and 51 minutes of doom-colored metallurgy, throwing unrepentant fists in the air under darkened, irony-free skies. By the time 10-minute post-intro opener “She Wolves of the Savage Season” is over, if you’re not ready to quit your job and join the legion about to set march to “The Great Beast We Serve,” it’s no fault of the band’s. “Nature is the Devil’s Church” was the lead single and is a standout hook, but the grandiosity of “Ruin Upon the Temple Mount”‘s Even with the help of http://www.gemeinde-bildstein.at/?homework-online-help, it’s difficult to choose the best service. Avoid useless browsing with our advice! Candlemassy riffing is too good to be ignored, and they finish with a Our Thoreau Essays Online work at least on five chapters in a thesis which can then increase depending on the requirement and depth of the thesis and on the requirements of the university. These chapters are necessary but not sufficient to define the entire thesis since requirements can vary for different thesis writing. Bathory cover, because fucking a, that’s why.

Dread Sovereign on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Space Smoke, Aurora Dourada

Space Smoke Aurora Dourada

The debut EP from Brazilian instrumentalist trio Write My Essay. get link Creative and innovative essays written by professional writers Space Smoke runs all of 12 minutes, but that’s long enough for Any writing paper is a real challenge no matter where you are studying at school, college or university. Professional http://www.infotel.cz/?custom-writing-paper-service will Aurora Dourada to give an impression of where the band are coming from. Three distinct tracks — “Magia Cerimonial,” “Interludio” and “Corpo Solar” — comprise the outing, and the middle one is indeed an interlude, so it’s really the opener and closer doing the heavy lifting. “Magia Cerimonia” starts off with a sense of foreboding but makes its way instead into hypnotic repetition, bordering on a meditative lumber that doesn’t stick around long enough to be redundant, and with the interlude as a breath between, the eight-minute “Corpo Solar” rounds out as the most substantial piece of the outing, drifting guitar over languid drums and bass, dreamy and sopping wet with reverb. They push it heavier than its quiet beginning, of course, but even the howling lead work near the finish maintains the inviting and immersive vibe with which they set out. Might be a blip of things to come, but it’s a blip worth checking out. Mini-trip.

Space Smoke on Instagram

Abraxas Events on Thee Facebooks

 

If it Kills You, Infinite Hum

if it kills you infinite hum

Infinite Hum is the striking debut LP from Bakersfield, California, post-hardcore heavy three/four-piece If it Kills You, who along with the periodic charred guest vocals on half the six tracks, bring together a quick assemblage for a 12″ that readily alternates between melodic sway and shoutier roll. They groove despite unpredictable turns, and their blend of hefted tones and punker-grown-up melodies makes a welcome impression on opener “We Don’t Belong Here” or “Moving Target.” Starts and stops and a bit of winding lead work give “Repeat Resolve” an edge of noise rock — more than an edge, actually; kind of like the flat side of a brick — but If it Kills You never push to one side or the other entirely, and as the screams return for later in “Repeat Resolve” and closer “Projections,” charged every time with and succeeding at pushing a crescendo over the top, the band manage to bring sincerity and structure together with what sounds like experienced hands. Don’t be fooled by “first album”; they know what they’re doing.

If it Kills You on Thee Facebooks

Killer Kern on Bandcamp

 

Clara Engel, A New Skin

Clara Engel A New Skin

I’m not sure if anyone still calls this kind of thing “neo-folk,” but I am sure I don’t care. The sense of atmosphere Clara Engel puts into her latest album, A New Skin, beginning with the shift between minimal guitar and keyboard on “Starry Eyed Goat,” uses negative space no less effectively than does the mostly-black cover art, and the eight-song/46-minute outing that ensues alternates between emotive and wondrously ambient, suited to the home recording done during (presumed) isolation in Fall 2020. Engel handles all instrumentation herself and remains indelibly human in her sometimes-layered vocal delivery all the while, speaking to a building-out process of the material, but one does not get the sense in listening to “Night Tide” and the sparse “Thieves” back-to-back that the foundation of all the songs is the same, which is all the more representative of an exploratory songwriting process. A New Skin as a whole feels likewise exploratory, a reflection inward as much as out.

Clara Engel on Thee Facebooks

Clara Engel on Bandcamp

 

Maya Mountains, Era

maya mountains era

Long-running Italian trio Maya Mountains issued Era through Go Down Records in 2020 as their first album in some six years, readily engaging with desert rock on cuts like “San Saguaro” and closer “El Toro,” working in a bit of post-Queens of the Stone Age riffy quirk to go along with less bouncing and chunkier fare on “Vibromatic” and “Baumgartner,” or “Extremely High,” which makes its speedier tempo feel organic ahead of the finish. All told, it’s 44 minutes of solid heavy rock, with variation between songs of what each is working toward doing that does nothing to pull away from the vibe as a whole, whether that’s in a more aggressive moment like “Vibromatic” or the spacier playfulness at the start of “Raul,” the band clearly unafraid of letting a little funk hold sway for a minute or two. Engaging without being revolutionary, Era knows its craft and audience alike, and offers one to the other without pretense or presumption. It’s rock for rockers, but what’s wrong with that?

Maya Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Cave of Swimmers, Aurora

cave of swimmers aurora

An awaited first long-player from Miami duo Cave of Swimmers — vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Guillermo Gonzalez and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Arturo Garcia — packages epic metal in tight-knit bursts of heavy rock tonality. Choruses in “The Sun” and “Double Rainbow” are grand affairs not because their tones are so huge, but because of the melodies that top them, and at the same time, with riffs at the forefront of the verses, the duo make progressive shifts sound classic in the vein of Iron Maiden or Dio with a still-prevailing fuzzy topcoat. Centerpiece “My Human” is a love song that slams, while “Looking Glass” leans deeper into prog metal but brings the listener along with a another sweeping hook, a pattern of tension and release that carries over to “Dirt” as well, which leaves “C.S” to close out with its “Sign of the Southern Cross” keyboard-and-harmonies intro en route to a poised but still thrashing finish. There’s life in heavy metal, and here it is.

Cave of Swimmers on Thee Facebooks

Broomtune Records website

 

Blind Monarch, What is Imposed Must Be Endured

blind monarch what is imposed must be endured

Straight out of Sheffield, UK, Blind Monarch first released their What is Imposed Must Be Endured four-song/56-minute full-length on Black Bow Records in 2020 and it’s been picked up for a 2LP vinyl pressing by Dry Cough Records. There’s something to be said for splitting up these tracks each onto its own side, making the whole release more manageable despite getting up to do a side or platter flip, but any way you go, “Suffering Breathes My Name” (13:45), “My Mother, My Cradle, My Tomb” (10:47), “Blind Monarch” (14:10) and closer “Living Altar” (17:54) are geared toward sharp-toothed death-sludge consumption, extreme in thought and deed. Feedback is strewn about the place like so much flayed skin, and even in the quiet moments at the start and laced into “Living Altar,” the atmosphere remains oppressive. Yet, endure one must. Blind Monarch, even among the UK’s ultra-packed underground, are a standout in how maddeningly heavy they manage to be, and on their debut outing, no less. If you missed it last year, be ready to pay extra for shipping.

Blind Monarch on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records website

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Cancervo, 1

cancervo 1

Each track on Italian instrumentalist trio Cancervo‘s debut album, titled simply 1, is intended to represent an area near their home in the mountainous region of Lombardy, Italy. Their tones are duly thick, their presentation patient and their cast is broad in terms of its landscape. From “Averara,” one might see kilometers, in other words. Whether or not you’re familiar with Cancervo‘s locale, their tonal warmth and heavy psychedelic expanse resonates immersively, letting each of the two sides develop on its own from the beginnings in “Cancervo” and “Darco,” both the longest cuts on their respective halves. The fuller fuzz of “SWLABR” and the punch of bass that accompanies the tom hits on closer “1987” are subtle shifts emblematic of Cancervo‘s creative progression getting underway, and the task to which they set themselves — portraying place in sound — is no less admirable than their accomplishment of same would see to be. I’ve never been there, so can’t confirm 100 percent if that’s what it sounds like, but in repeat listens, I’m happy to take the band’s word (or riffs) for it.

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Electric Valley Records website

 

Sahara, The Curse

sahara the curse

Its four cuts run 17 minutes with the last of them an instrumental title-track that’s under three, but I don’t care — the entire thing is so righteously raw and garage nasty that I’m on board with however much Argentina’s Sahara want to bring to The Curse. “Gallows Noose” sounds like it was taped, and then re-taped, and then re-taped again before finally being pressed (to tape), and there’s no mistaking that’s an aesthetic choice on the part of the band, who probably have phones that could make something with clearer audio, but the in-room demo feel of “Hell on Earth” and “Altar of Sacrifice,” the rootsy metal-of-doom feel of it hits on its own level. Sometimes you just want something that comes across barebones and mean, and that’s what The Curse does. Call it retro, call it unproduced, call it whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. Sahara (bring looks that) kill it on that Sabbath-worshiping altar and sound dirt-coated all the while, making everything everything else in the universe seem more complicated than it needs to be.

Sahara on Thee Facebooks

Helter Skelter Productions website

 

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Quarterly Review: Wolvennest, Lammping, Lykantropi, Mainliner, DayGlo Mourning, Chamán, Sonic Demon, Sow Discord, Cerbère, Dali’s Llama

Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

The Spring 2021 Quarterly Review begins here, and as our long winter of plague-addled discontent is made glorious spring by this son of York Beach, I can hardly wait to dig in. You know the drill. 50 records between now and Friday, 10 per day. It’s a lot. It’s always a lot. That’s the point.

Words on the page. If I have a writing philosophy, that’s it. Head down, keep working. And that’s the challenge here. Can you get over your own crap and say what you need to say about 10 records every day for five days straight out? I’ll be exhausted by the end of the week for sure. I’ll let you know when we get there if it feels any different. Till then, let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Wolvennest, Temple

Wolvennest Temple

The second full-length offering — and I mean that: ‘offering’ — from Belgium’s Wolvennest is an expansive and immersive follow-up to their 2018 debut, Void, as the Brussels six-piece offers next-stage extreme cult rock. Across 77 willfully-unmanageable and mind-altering minutes, the troupe caroms between (actual) psychedelic black metal and sheer sonic ritualism, and the intent is made plain from 12:26 opener/longest track (immediate points) “Mantra” onward. Wolvennest are enacting a ceremony and it’s up to the listener to be willing to engage with the material on that level. Their command is unwavering as the the heft and wash of “Alecto” and the ethereal swirl and dual vocal arrangement of “All that Black” show, but while King Dude himself shows up on “Succubus,” and that’s fun, especially followed by the penultimate downward march of “Disappear,” the greatest consumption is saved for “Souffle de Mort” (“breath of death,” in English; it’s not about eggs). In that 10-minute finale, marked out by the French-language declarations of Shazzula Vultura, Wolvennest not only make it plain just how far they’ve brought you, but that they intend to leave you there as well.

Wolvennest on Thee Facebooks

Ván Records website

 

Lammping, New Jaws EP

lammping new jaws

A 15-minute playful jaunt into the funk-grooving max-fuzzed whatever-works garage headtrip if Toronto’s Lammping is right on the money. The four-piece start channel-spanning and mellow with “Jaws of Life” — which is a righteous preach, even though I don’t know the lyrics — and follow with the complementary vibe of “The Funkiest,” which would seem to be titled in honor of its bassline and conjures out-there’est Masters of Reality in its face-painted BlueBoy lysergics over roughly traditional songwriting. Is “Neverbeen” weirder? You know it. Dreamily so, and it’s followed by the genuinely-experimental 40 seconds of “Big Time the Big Boss” and the closer “Other Shoe,” which if it doesn’t make you look forward to the next Lammping album, I’m sorry to say it, but you might be dead. Sorry for your loss. Of you. This shit is killer and deserves all the ears it can get with its early ’90s weirdness that’s somehow also from the late ’60s and still the future too because what is time anyway and screw it we’re all lost let’s ride.

Lammping on Instagram

Nasoni Records website

 

Lykantropi, Tales to Be Told

Lykantropi Tales To Be Told

Tales to Be Told is the late-2020 third long-player from Swedish classicists Lykantropi, following 2019’s Spirituosa (review here) with a warmth of tone that’s derived from ’70s folk rock and vaguely retro in its tones and drum sounds, but remains modern in its hookmaking and it’s not exactly like they’re trying to hide where they’re coming from when they break out the flute sounds. Harmonies in “Mother of Envy” make that song a passionate highlight, while the respective side-endings in “Kom Ta Mig Ut” and “Världen GĂĄr Vidare” add to the exploratory and roots-proggy listening experience, the album’s finale dropping its drums before the three-minute mark to allow for a drifting midsection en route to a class finish that answers the choruses of “Spell of Me” and “Axis of Margaret” earlier with due spaciousness. Clean and clear and wanting nothing aesthetically or emotionally, Tales to Be Told is very much a third album in how realized it feels.

Lykantropi on Thee Facebooks

Despotz Records website

 

Mainliner, Dual Myths

Mainliner Dual Myths

Japanese trio Mainliner — comprised of guitarist Kawabata Makoto (Acid Mothers Temple), bassist/vocalist Kawabe Taigen (Bo Ningen) and drummer Koji Shimura (Acid Mothers Temple) — are gentle at the outset of Dual Myths but don’t wait all that long before unveiling their true freak-psych intention in the obliterating 20 minutes of “Blasphemy Hunter,” the opener/longest track (immediate points) that’s followed by the likewise side-consuming left-the-air-lock-behind-and-found-antimatter-was-made-of-feedback “Hibernator’s Dream” (18:38), the noisier, harsher fuckall spread of “Silver Guck” (19:28) and the gut-riffed/duly scorched jazz shredder “Dunamist Zero” (20:08), which culminates the 2LP beast about as well as anything could, earning the gatefold with sheer force of intent to be and to harness the far-out into some loosely tangible thing. Stare into the face of the void and the void doesn’t so much stare back as turn your lungs into party balloons.

Mainliner on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

DayGlo Mourning, Dead Star

DayGlo Mourning Dead Star

On a certain level, what you see is what you get with the Orion slavegirl warriors, alien mushrooms and caithan beast that adorn DayGlo Mourning‘s debut album, the six-song/35-minute Dead Star, in that they’re suitably nestled into the sonic paraphernalia of stoner-doom as well as the visual. With bassist Jerimy McNeil and guitarist Joseph Mills sharing vocal duties over Ray Miner‘s drums, variety of melody and throatier shouts are added to the deep-toned largesse of riff, and the Atlanta trio most assuredly have their heads on when it comes to knowing what they want to do sound-wise. The hard-hit hi-hat of “Faithful Demise” comes with some open spaces after the fuzzy lumber that caps “Bloodghast,” and as “Ashwhore” and “Witch’s Ladder” remind a bit of the misogyny inherent in witchy folklore — at the end of the day it was all about killing pretty girls — the grooves remain fervent and the forward potential on the part of the band likewise. It’s a sound big enough that there isn’t really any room left for bullshit.

DayGlo Mourning on Thee Facebooks

Black Doomba Records webstore

 

Chamán, Maleza

Chamán maleza

Issued in the waning hours of Dec. 2020, Chamán‘s 70-minute, six-song debut album, Maleza, is a psicodelico cornucopia of organic-toned delights, from the more forward-fuzz of “Poliforme” — which is a mere six and a half minutes long but squeezes in a drum solo — to the 13-plus-minute out-there salvo that is “Malezo,” “Concreto” and “Temazcal,” gorgeously trippy and drifting and building on what the Mendozza, Argentina, three-piece conjure early in the proceedings with “Despierta” and “Ganesh,” each over 10 minutes as well. Even in Maleza‘s most lucid moments, the spirit of improv and live recording remains vibrant, and however these songs were built out to their current form, I’m just glad they were. Whether you put it on headphones and bliss out for 70 minutes or you end up using it as a backdrop for whatever your day might bring, Chamán‘s sprawling and melted soundscapes are ready to embrace and enfold you.

Chamán on The Facebooks

Chamán on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Demon, Vendetta

sonic demon vendetta

Italian duo Sonic Demon bring a lethal dose of post-Electric Wizard grit fuzz and druggy echoed snarl to their debut full-length, Vendetta, hitting a particularly nasty low end vibe early on “Black Smoke” and proving willing to ride that out for the duration with bouts of spacier fare in “Fire Meteorite” and side A capper “Cosmic Eyes” before the second half of the 40-minute outing renews the buzz with “FreakTrip.” Deep-mixed drums make the guitar and bass sound even bigger, and such is the morass Sonic Demon make that even their faster material seems slow; that means “Hxxxn” must be extra crawling to feel as nodded-out as it does. Closing duo “Blood and Fire” and “Serpent Witch” don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said, style-wise, but they feel no less purposeful in sealing the hypnosis cast by the songs before them. If you can’t hang with repetition, you can’t hang, and the filth in the speedier-ish last section of “Serpent Witch” isn’t enough to stop it from being catchy.

Sonic Demon on Thee Facebooks

The Swamp Records on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Sow Discord, Quiet Earth

sow discord quiet earth

Sow Discord is the solo industrial doom/experimentalist project of David Coen, also known for his work in Whitehorse, and the bleak feel that pervades his debut full-length under the moniker, Quiet Earth, is resonant and affecting. Channeling blowout beats and speaker-throbbing crush on “Ruler,” Coen elsewhere welcomes Many Blessings (aka Ethan Lee McCarthy, also of Primitive Man) and The Body as guests for purposefully disturbing conjurations. Cuts like “Desalination” and “Functionally Extinct” churn with an atmosphere that feels born of a modern real-world apocalypse, and it’s hard to tell ultimately whether closer “The World Looks on with Pity and Scorn” is offering condolence or condemnation, but either way you go, the bitter harshness that carries over is the thread that weaves all this punishment together, and as industrial music pushes toward new extremes, even “Everything Has Been Exhausted” manages to feel fresh in its pummel.

David Coen on Instagram

AR53 Productions on Bandcamp

Tartarus Records on Bandcamp

 

Cerbère, Cerbère

cerbere cerbere

Formed by members of Lord Humungus, Frank Sabbath and Carpet Burns, Cerbère offer three tracks of buried-alive extreme sludge on their self-titled debut EP, recorded live in the band’s native Paris during a pandemic summer when it was illegal to leave the house. Someone left the house, anyhow, and the resultant three cuts are absolutely unabashed in their grating approach, enough so to warrant in-league status with masters of misanthropy like Grief or Khanate, even if Cerbère move more throughout the 15-minute closing title-track, and dare to add some trippy guitar later on. The two prior cuts, “Julia” — the sample at the beginning feels especially relevant in light of the ongoing Notre Dame rebuild — and “AliĂ©nĂ©” are no less brutal if perhaps more compact. I can’t be sure, because I just can’t, but it’s entirely possible “AliĂ©nĂ©” is the only word in the song that bears its name. That wouldn’t work in every context. Here it feels earned, along with the doomier lead that follows.

Cerbère on Thee Facebooks

Cerbère on Bandcamp

 

Dali’s Llama, Dune Lung

dalis llama dune lung

They’ve cooled down a bit from the tear they were on for a few years there, but Dali’s Llama‘s new Dune Lung EP is no less welcome for that. The desert-dwelling four-piece founded by guitarist/vocalist Zach and bassist Erica Huskey bring a laid back roll to the nonetheless palpably heavy “Nothing Special,” backing the opener with the fuzzy sneer of “Complete Animal,” the broader-soundscape soloing of “Merricat Blackwood,” and the more severe groove of “STD (Suits),” all of which hit with a fullness of sound that feels natural while giving the band their due as a studio unit. Dali’s Llama have been and continue to be significantly undervalued when it comes to desert rock, and Dune Lung is another example of why that is and how characteristic they are in sound and execution. Good band, and they’re edging ever closer to the 30-year mark. Seems like as good a time as any to be appreciated for the work they’ve done and do.

Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dali’s Llama on Bandcamp

 

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Video Premiere: Formula 400, “Light My Way” from Heathens

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 24th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

formula 400

San Diego’s Formula 400 released their debut album, Heathens, in October 2020 through Glory or Death Records, and the video premiering below for the leadoff track “Light My Way” could hardly be more representative of what’s on offer throughout the record. In it, we see four dudes, showing up in a room, kicking ass until the ass is kicked, and then being done. There are few frills and zero time wasted, and the material is presented without trickery or any pretense whatsoever. At no point in Heathens‘ 31-minute run — from “Light My Way” through the acoustic instrumental closer “The Long Road Home” after the six-minute “Sun Destroyer” as built up and shredded out and stretched itself across what seemed to be the album’s greatest reaches — are Formula 400 attempting to be anything they’re not. They’re cracking a beer and playing some tunes. What more would you ask?

If you missed it above, Heathens is short for an LP, seeming to embody a ‘keep ’em wanting more’ ethic that works fairly enough even with the epilogue they present. Between the gruff formula 400 heathensdelivery of the tracks and the riffs set to turn heads for fans of Wo Fat, Freedom Hawk and the like, they ride grooves like “Messenger” with its grungier hook and the bikerly-fuzzed “Ridin’ Easy” — you know that’s the name of a label, right guys? — smoothly ahead of “Spector,” which is about the now-dead producer/wall-of-sound-innovator/convicted-murderer named in its title. Plainly centered around their riffs, Formula 400‘s offer classic-style shifts in tempo and purpose, steering clear of the heavy psychedelic boogie for which their hometown has become known in recent years in favor of a more straightforward direction, begging no indulgences on their way to a sound that wouldn’t have been out of place on Small Stone Records some 20 years ago. Amazing how time flies. Or rides, as it were.

“Illusion” and “Sun Destroyer” have their hooks in place as well, as guitarist/vocalists Ian Holloway and Dan Frick work smoothly together, bassist Kip Page and drummer Ted Karol righteously refusing to relinquish the groove until the songs are done. The album would make a killer live set, maybe minus the outro for practicality’s sake, and one imagines that’s what Formula 400 had in mind. Until then, they seem glad enough to be making a toast and hitting it for “Light My Way,” and that works too from where I sit.

Nothin’ too fancy, but proof it doesn’t need to be when you do it right.

Enjoy:

Formula 400, “Light My Way” official video premiere

Ian Holloway on “Light My Way”:

“Light My Way” is the first song on our debut album, “Heathens.” It is a song written mostly about dealing with friends who have betrayed you and stabbed you in the back. You gotta burn those bridges down to the ground!

This video was recorded with no budget on a friend’s digital Canon Rebel and some various GoPro cams set up in our rehearsal space. It’s a video of us doing what we do best, rocking out! As with everything else in this band, we do it all ourselves. Enjoy, cheers.

Formula 400 are:
Dan Frick: Guitar and Vox
Kip Page: Bass
Ian Holloway: Guitar and Vox
Ted Karol: Drums

Formula 400, Heathens (2020)

Formula 400 on Thee Facebooks

Formula 400 on Instagram

Formula 400 on Bandcamp

Formula 400 website

Glory or Death Records on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records on Instagram

Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

Glory or Death Records webstore

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Stream Review: Stöner, ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Stöner

And just like that, the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream series comes to its apparent conclusion, with the reveal of Stöner, a new project that brings together guitarist/vocalist Brant Bjork, bassist/vocalist Nick Oliveri and drummer Ryan Gut. There was no interview in the preceding ‘Couchlock and Rock’ segment, but clips of prior editions from Earthless (review here), Mountain Tamer (review here), Nebula (review here) and Spirit Mother (review here) came across with plugs for impending live-album vinyls and videos followed presumably out of the TubeVision archive of Brant Bjork and the Bros. from 2004 and Oliveri‘s long-running outfit Mondo Generator — which in the shown 2003 incarnation had Bjork on drums and Oliveri‘s fellow Queens of the Stone Age alum Dave Catching on guitar. Not too shabby.

However, the main event was, of course, the main event. Duly dramatic footage of Oliveri, Bjork and Gut walking up to the spot led in, and a quick glance at some lyrics in with the setlist on a clipboard offered a subtle reminder of just how new this outfit is. Over the next 40-plus minutes of playing, Stöner established a feel that was at once familiar and fresh. In our interview last week, Bjork spoke about how the central idea of the project was to strip away any sense of expectation or idea of what it should be, just to go back to the roots of where they started and have fun playing together. Fair enough.

Stöner set about delivering on that promise quickly. Their opener, “Rad Stays Rad” — with its hook of “Shit don’t change/Rad stays rad” — might as well be their mission statement, and if they don’t call their eventual studio LP The Birth of Rad, I’ll be a little bummed out. The first lines of the song are a Ramones reference and they’re set to a riff that wouldn’t at all have been out of place coming from Blues for the Red Sun era Kyuss. Locked in that they-made-it-look-simple but still urgent groove, and as much as the songs were new, the parts that made them up were about classic as desert rock gets. That “Rad Stays Rad” was presented in a kind of high-contrast sepia only enhanced that feel.

Room for jams? Oh, most certainly. “Rad Stays Rad” stretched out a bit with Bjork‘s solo section and thereby revealed a little more of Stöner‘s dynamic at this early stage. Oliveri and Bjork go way back, to before Kyuss was Kyuss. Let’s call it 35 years, give or take. And Gut is the drummer in Bjork‘s solo band, so they’re plenty familiar with each other from touring together as well. So the new creative relationship in the trio is between Oliveri and Gut, and there were moments in the set — not so much “Rad Stays Rad” or the similarly riffed and well-hooked “The Older Kids,” but later on — where both would watch Bjork for the lead. There wasn’t a stumble from what I could tell watching/listening, and they were as tight as they wanted to be, it was just something you could see a couple times that subtly tipping off the fact that this band hasn’t toured yet. Blah blah circumstances blah blah.

Oliveri took lead vocals for “Evel Never Dies,” a punkier shout with the delivery he’s settled into that’s not quite a scream but not quite sung either. Like “Rad Stays Rad” and “The Older Kids,” there was a sense of nostalgia to the theme, the title of course nodding both at “evil” never dying and daredevil Evel Knievel. Gut took the change in purpose and forward momentum in stride — he’s the secret weapon here; even a change in how hard he hits the snare does much to affect the vibe of a given song — and Stöner slid easily into the more propulsive cut, the sun setting around them casting shadows from the joshua trees.

stoner band

They returned to the mid-tempo push with the shorter-seeming “Nothin'” and the sky turned duly purple for that and the subsequent “Own Yer Blues,” slower, more languid in the laid-back-heavy tradition of Bjork‘s solo work, but with a chorus worthy of being the first impression the band made (and it was; a video premiered for it ahead of the stream that you can see below). The chorus, “By afternoon you own yer blues,” took a similar perspective as “Rad Stays Rad” and “The Older Kids”; a mature voice speaking from a place of experience, sort of looking back but not in a way that’s trying to retro-fy or capture something lost. Some more guttural delivery from Bjork at the end of the track underscored the point, and though sometimes watching Oliveri play a mellower song is like waiting for a cannon to go off, he nailed it. Dude’s reputation precedes him — blah blah shotgun standoff blah blah Cocaine Rodeo — but he’s the guy for the job, no question.

“Stand Down” and “Tribe/Flygirl” followed. Nighttime. Drones buzzing around dark rocks, dark yellow light. Too cool. You got your dose of funk in “Stand Down” to pick up the tempo from “Own Yer Blues” and “Tribe/Flygirl” brought the Stöner jam in fashion that earned the umlaut. Call it mood, or vibe, or whatever you want, but you’d be lucky to get those three in order on side B to close out the record as they happened in the set — well, I guess they will on the live album. In any case, it was right there in those three later pieces that Bjork, Oliveri and Gut seemed most locked in. They’d got through the rock, through the punk and into the headier, stonier fare, and it showed how far out they’re ready to go, even as a brand new band. By the time they brought it down and Oliveri hit the last bass rumble to cap the performance, there was little else to say but “fucking right on.” Coming from anyone else, you would say Stöner just sounds like someone pretending they’re these guys. Coming from them, you can only call it honest.

This was ‘Vol. 4’ of ‘Live in the Mojave Desert,’ despite airing after ‘Vol. 5,’ which featured Mountain Tamer. With continued producing/directing by project-creator Ryan Jones, filming by Spearhead Media, audio by Dan Joeright at Gatos Trail Recording Studio in Joshua Tree and a mix/master by Matt Lynch (also of Snail) at Mysterious Mammal in L.A., it was a duly rousing finish. An ongoing business dispute between Jones and Bjork gave the viewing a bittersweet edge, but there was no denying that in this showcase as well as in the other ‘episodes,’ they found their Pompeii out in the desert. Whatever happens with the world outside, with tours being booked again and venues maybe surviving the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d be lucky to get ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ season two. Until then, we own our blues.

Stöner, “Own Yer Blues” from ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

Stoner on Instagram

Stoner website

Brant Bjork on Thee Facebooks

Brant Bjork on Instagram

Brant Bjork website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Live in the Mojave Desert website

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Friday Full-Length: Saviours, Warship EP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

More than any other single release, SavioursWarship to me epitomizes the generational changeover that began to take place around the mid-2000s in heavy music. Released in 2005 through Level Plane Records, it ran only three songs — “Circle of Servants’ Bodies,” “Christ Hunt” and “Satanic Scriptures” — and was raw to a point of scathing, and yet clearly had its underpinning in heavy rock and doom. More than anything else, it was brash. This was not a humble arrival of a band looking to make their mark. “Circle of Servants’ Bodies” thuds and crashes in with drums, and lumbers its start into the sort of riff that would become the staple diet of a next league of heavy rock and rollers. Saviours had all the swagger of punks who didn’t know what they were doing and an inimitable ferocity born of youth. It’s not that Saviours were the only band out there coming up — it was, as noted, a generational changeover — but Warship was singular in its arrogance.

Who were these kids from Oakland? What right did they have to come out nowhere and play metal like that? Was it even metal? How could it not be?

The gatekeeping at the time was rampant: “Hipster metal.” I dug Saviours but there were plenty of their ilk that seemed to sell it too hard, to posture as though to carry forth a lack of cred, the style over substance. Intervening years would inevitably weed many out, but even by then the rise of other acts to prominence was largely unstoppable. If you’re reading this, you likely don’t need me to narrate the history for you, but the era of heavy rock in which we now exist — the Age of Bandcamp? what else to call it? — set itself forth in the wake of bands like Saviours as its leading ambassadors, eventually rising to take the place of many of the soon-to-be-aged-out statesmen that accused the hipsters of not knowing how to riff because their hair was parted differently or they drank PBR knowing they could afford better.

None of that ever mattered and it certainly doesn’t now. History is written by the victors and the hipsters were right. Just listen to the screams on “Circle of Servants’ Bodies,” the way they seem to gurgle up from the cleaner shouts. You can almost hear the band gnashing its collective teeth. And “Circle of Servants’ Bodies” is the longest and most complex track on Warship. At just over four minutes. Neither “Christ Hunt” nor “Satanic Scriptures” hits three, thrashing and bashing theirsaviours warship way through their brief run like the EP is in a hurry to end so the band can get on with the next round of slaughter. Comprised then (I think) of guitarist/vocalist Austin Barber, guitarist Tyler Morris, bassist Cyrus Comiskey — who had also done time in Man’s Ruin Records veterans Drunk Horse a few years earlier — and drummer Scott Batiste (now also in Ides of Gemini), Saviours proved that the genre distinctions of the past weren’t going to cut it and that the lines between metal and rock, thrash and punk and heavy and not were just more stuff to be stomped on their way by.

The first time I recall seeing Saviours was at a record store in Austin, Texas, that was a converted house off the beaten path of Sixth Street and its various celebrations during SXSW. I’m pretty sure it was 2005 because I wound up walking away with a poster of the Warship artwork and they didn’t play for all that long. It was daytime, and they were essentially in a living room, filled with wood bins of CDs, and they were so fucking loud. Stupid loud. Painful volume. I don’t remember what songs they played — I’d assume EP tracks and maybe something that wound up on their 2006 debut LP, Crucifire — but holy crap did the floor shake. Vicious intent, and true to the EP’s title, they seemed to bring the pun on “worship” and a ship of war to life. Unless you were a well-adjusted individual who somehow happened into the room on your way to work or wherever it is well-adjusted people are en route to, I cannot see a way you would’ve left that show not being a fan of the band.

Looking back at the archive, it’s apparently been five years since I last wrote about the band, reviewing (late) their 2015 album, Palace of Vision (review here). They toured to support that record alongside Corrosion of Conformity, Brant Bjork and Mothership, but haven’t been heard from much in the years since. Palace of Vision was their fourth LP, behind 2011’s Death’s Procession, 2009’s Into Abaddon and the aforementioned Crucifire. The last time I saw them was with Clutch in 2012 (review here), and I remember them favorably. In the pantheon of shows I didn’t see for various reasons over the years, I’m sure there are plenty of Saviours gigs I can feel punk rock guilt for not attending.

Righteous as it was and remains, Warship didn’t necessarily represent the band that Saviours wanted to be or became. Even by the time they got the first record out, still on Level Plane, before signing to Kemado and eventually Listenable, their sound was evolving in a cleaner direction that allowed for the refinement that would take place over the better part of the next decade. Their affinity for heavy metal never dissipated, however, and by the time they got around to Palace of Vision, their command of their songwriting and sonic intent. Production from Billy Anderson never hurts either.

I don’t know what’s up with Saviours now, if they’re still “active” in terms of putting new stuff together or if they’ll return after the pandemic wanes or what. Maybe they ran their course. That happens, and with so much of everything in flux, you won’t find me speculating. They could announce a new record tomorrow, or never. Either way, Warship still stands as a testament to the moment of its arrival, and its urgency continues to ring true in understated accomplishment.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Most of the week was spent in a daze, to be honest. Last weekend was recovery from the hospital stay with The Pecan and his fractured skull. He was off from (pre-)school on Monday and back on Tuesday. We got a note from one of the aides in his class that he refused to hold the railing on his way off the bus and didn’t want to hold hands either. “Could you please do something about this?” was the gist of the thing. Yeah, let me get right on that. Maybe if I could do something about it, my three year old wouldn’t have fractured his fucking skull.

We did not hear anything else about it, but from what I saw putting him on the bus, he continued to flat out refuse the railing. Dude comes by stubborn as honestly as he possibly could.

He’s got his follow-up with the neurosurgeon today. We kept him out of school basically so I could give him a bath beforehand and not put him in a panic when I went to pick him up early for the appointment. He gets so set in routines, and sometimes it’s good to mess with that — you need to, otherwise you’ve got this kid running your house with toddler logic and fascist intensity — but for something like this, where he’s clearly trying all week to process what happened to him, I’d rather just have him miss the day of tracing letters, which he does at home anyway, than upset him by showing up where I don’t belong. Just trust me when I say that it makes sense for him and would be a big deal, even though it seems like nothing.

I’m writing this as he’s in the bath, playing with himself in the carefree manner of a human without inhibitions. I got up at six and worked on the above, took a break for breakfast with him and then went back to it for a little bit before throwing him in the tub. Minus the throwing. He’s in good spirits today, which is a relief. Most of yesterday was rough, and the day before, as he’s been working back and forth between rounds of Tylenol.

It’s hard to remember he was in the pediatric ICU last weekend until I look at his chest and still see the outlines of the stickies they put on to monitor his vitals. Those will come off eventually. And the bruise from his IV. That’ll go away too.

Today I get my second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s at 4:33. I need to photocopy my insurance and drivers license and fill out some form. Whatever.

I’m already looking forward to next week, a couple good records I’ll be reviewing: specifically Genghis Tron and Greenleaf. Mars Red Sky are doing a stream today and there’s the Stoner one tomorrow and I’m looking forward to both, despite the drama surrounding the latter.

New Gimme show today 5PM Eastern. It’s a good one.

Between that, the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch for Roadburn Redux and impending PostWax liner note projects, I’m feeling suitably overwhelmed. I’ve also uploaded vocals for a third song with the new project that seems to be taking shape. The second one came back and turned out way, way better than I thought I’d would given the poorly recorded raw tracks I sent over. Might be a band? Might need a name? Something organic. I don’t know.

I wish you a great and safe weekend. Hydrate. Watch your head. All that fun stuff. Back on Monday, and thanks for reading.

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Stoner: ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ Interview with Brant Bjork

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on March 18th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

brant-bjork

Tomorrow, Friday, is Brant Bjork‘s birthday. Happy birthday, Brant. On Saturday, his new trio with drummer Ryan Gut (pronounced like “good” in German), who also plays in Bjork‘s solo band, and bassist/vocalist Nick Oliveri, will be unveiled. The band is called Stoner, the event is the last of five in the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ series of streams which has brought an exceptional level of production to the medium of bands-can’t-play-shows-so-here’s-this, creating something truly special in an indisputably difficult time.

I’ve been fortunate enough to interview Bjork on several occasions, and there’s always a lot of ground to cover. As he says in the video, he and Oliveri go back to before Katzenjammer — pre-Kyuss — to playing Ramones covers in his mom’s living room as kids in Palm Desert. That Oliveri would go on to be desert rock’s most notorious figure through his work with Mondo Generator, the Dwarves, Queens of the Stone Age, etc., and Bjork an Ambassador of Groove with a pivotal catalog of albums under his own name has not stopped the two paths from converging periodically. Kyuss Lives!/Vista Chino was one such instance, at least for a while. This is another.

Stoner — also stylized with an umlaut: Stöner — are something of a mystery as of this post. How much to Bjork and Oliveri share vocal duties? How much is punk, how much is rock, how much do they jam? Where do they go from here? The mission, as Bjork describes, is “no-brainer”; to strip everything away, forget audiences (because there aren’t any right now, though tour plans are being made for 2022) and everything else and just have fun going back to the basics, back to that living-room mentality. To hear him talk about it, it sounds like a good time. They hit the studio last Fall and will likely release that session through Heavy Psych Sounds — to which both Bjork and Oliveri are signed — sometime in the coming months.

So ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ is kind of a welcome party for the new band. For Bjork, it is not unalloyed, however, due to an ongoing business dispute with now-former manager and mastermind of the stream series Ryan Jones. It’s a pickle, and something playing out as we speak.

You’ll notice a hard cut in the clip, and trust me, the original video was considerably longer as Bjork went into some detail about what’s going on. Why isn’t that here? Well, there’s part of me that feels like a fucking coward because it isn’t, but the fact of the matter is this thing might wind up in court and I don’t want to have anything said here come back around. The cut is about 18 minutes in, and there’s about 18 minutes cut, so yeah, a significant part of the conversation is gone. I feel shitty about that. Fact is, I couldn’t run the video unedited without comment from the other side, and looking at the totality of the situation, I’m not sure I’d be helping anyone or doing anything but stirring drama. It would not make anything better.

Actually the edit’s pretty clean, but you might notice the mood of the conversation has somewhat shifted and that nixed part is why. Maybe you wouldn’t have seen it at all otherwise. Whatever. I’m gonna take a xanax and go read some Star Trek.

Oh, and if you’re a fan of Bjork‘s solo stuff — his 2020 self-titled (review here) was a highlight of a tumultuous Spring — he says he’ll continue that in addition to working with Stoner, even if the focus is on the new band for this year and the ensuing album cycle. Good to know.

Enjoy:

Stoner, Interview with Brant Bjork, March 16, 2021

Stoner‘s Live in the Mojave Desert live album is slated to release in April in the US through Live in the Mojave Desert and in Europe through Heavy Psych Sounds.

Stoner, Live in the Mojave Desert teaser

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

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Doors to No Where Sign to Desert Records for Darkness Falls LP; Premiere Title-Track Feat. Bob Balch

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on March 18th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

doors-to-no-where

Santa Cruz, California’s Doors to No Where have signed to Desert Records and will release their new album, Darkness Falls, on May 21. From masterblaster-punk opener “Lie, Lie, Lie” through the early-Alice in Chains-style grunge chug of “Fade” and the classic metal epic tension in near-eight-minute finale “Darkness Falls,” the record runs a gamut of styles in a mere 31 minutes, finding a post-hardcore kind of heavy rock melody in “Worship the Machine” before the two-minute “Got Mine” shoves and sprints in post-Songs for the Deaf careening fashion. The trio don’t stay in any one place much longer than to leave a boot print as they’re off to the next thing, but there’s a consistency between “Fade” and “New Monster,” as vocals, tonal thickness and production/songwriting draw the release together as a whole. The succession of jabs, between the Goatsnake-ing groove of “Policy” and the finishing surge in “Who Died” and the rest of what surrounds becomes something of a consistency in itself, and the album is stronger for that.

One can tell from the track titles that Darkness Falls is something of a COVID-era production, and indeed, Doors to No Where recorded it last year. There are already and there are going to continue to be a glut of albums on the theme since, on the most basic level, art as an expression of processing common trauma is a human impulse. If the momentum of their tempos is anything to just by, Doors to No Where don’t seem to have been dragged down too far, or maybe that just means they had farther to go. I won’t speculate.

Fu Manchu and Big Scenic Nowhere‘s own Bob Balch sits in on the concluding title-track, which you can hear premiering at the bottom of this post. Album info and the signing announcement follow, courtesy of Desert Records and the PR wire:

doors to no where darkness falls

DESERT RECORDS PRESENTS “DARKNESS FALLS” DOORS TO NO WHERE

“Darkness Falls” is the fourth studio album from Doors To No Where, a trio from Santa Cruz, California. The album was recorded in 2020 smack-dab in the middle of COVID lockdowns. The band once again worked with producer Aaron Cooper (Pylon Productions).

“Darkness Falls” consists of eight blistering tracks that touch on Doors To No Where’s stoner rock roots and punk influence. The band brings big riffs and touches on elements of psych, doom and a hint of the heavier side of grunge. Plenty of groove to feel on this record.

The title track “Darkness Falls” features a guest performance from Bob Balch (Fu Manchu, Big Scenic Nowhere) on guitar. “Darkness Falls” also features percussion by Aaron Cooper. Darkness Falls was the last song written for the record and truly reflects the crazy time that 2020 was. Balch brings his huge tone to add to the song’s vibe.

“Darkness Falls” was recorded, mixed and mastered by Aaron Cooper at “pylon Studios” in Santa Cruz, California (USA). Doors To No Where has three albums under their belt, “Lucky You”, “I’m Alive” and “The Haunting.” The band will release their fourth record “Darkness” via Desert Records May 21st 2021. Joining Marc Lewis (guitar/vocals) is longtime drummer Pete Testorff and Marc Prefontaine (bass). “Darkness Falls will be Prefontaine’s first album with the band.

Marc Lewis on Working with Bob Balch:
Working with Bob was an honor and his contributions to the track are huge. He is a true pro and his tone is so recognizable and heavy. I had an idea of the whole song in my head before I even picked up a guitar and I knew I wanted Bob to contribute to it. I wanted that classic fuzz and grit and to give him room to shred some. When we played with Fu Manchu I picked his brain a lot about tone and threw out the idea of working together someday. I reached out to him with a very rough version of the song and he was into it. The dude just lives for guitar and working with him was so easy. He really nailed the vibe I had in my head. The dude is a special talent on guitar for sure.”

1. Lie, Lie, Lie
2. Fade
3. Worship the Machine
4. Got Mine
5. Policy
6. Who Died
7. New Monster
8. Darkness Falls (Feat. Bob Balch)

Doors to No Where are:
Marc Lewis (guitar/vocals)
Pete Testorff (drums)
Marc Prefontaine (bass)

https://www.facebook.com/D2NROCKNROLL
https://www.instagram.com/doors_to_no_where/
https://doorstonowhere.bandcamp.com/
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https://desertrecords.bigcartel.com/

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16 Buy Smoke Machine (And Why That’s News)

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

16

Okay, so ‘band supports dry-ice industry’ isn’t exactly ‘dog bites man’ when it comes to breaking news. I get that. Here’s the thing: based out of Los Angeles, 16 celebrate 30 years of existence in 2021. Guitarist/vocalist Bobby Ferry is the lone remaining original member, with bassist Barney Firks and drummer Dion Thurman joining to coincide with circa 2013 and guitarist Alex Shuster coming aboard in 2017, but if you’ve ever tried to do something for 30 years, you know that even if you take a break somewhere along the line — say from 2004-ish to 2008-ish — it’s still a significant amount of time to dedicate to a single project.

Their buying a smoke machine now matters not so much in itself, but in just how much it tells you about the band. While their well earned longstanding reputation is for pummeling hardcore-minded sludge, delivered raw on their early work and growing thicker as time has gone on (haven’t we all?), their 2020 album, Dream Squasher (review here), found them branching into new ideas on multiple levels, incorporating melodies and moods that dared to not be directly punishing at least in relation to what was around them. The follow-up to 2016’s Lifespan of a Moth (review here), it was the fourth album they’ve put out since coming back together prior to 2009’s Bridges to Burn, meaning the second era of the band has now matched the first for LPs released.

What the smoke machine emphasizes is that 30 years, eight albums, countless splits, comps, and so on later, 16 are still pursuing new ideas and new ways of thinking about what they do. There are few traits that are to be considered as admirable in creative work. I don’t expect the smoke machine means they’ve suddenly gone arena rock or space-prog or whatever, but it’s these little organic tweaks that show artistic refinement at play, even if the outcome of their songwriting is often so unremittingly heavy.

In addition to Dream Squasher, 16 took part last year in Magnetic Eye RecordsDirt: Redux (review here) tribute to Alice in Chains, and in 2021, they already have a spot in the Doom Sessions series of splits released by Heavy Psych Sounds, sharing an outing with onetime tourmates Grime. Here’s hoping they get the chance to bring their new smoke machine to a gig someday soon.

Their announcement was duly succinct:

After 29 years we have decided to buy a smoke machine. Evolution can be painfully slow.

https://www.facebook.com/16Band/
https://16theband.bandcamp.com/
http://twitter.com/16theband
http://16theband.bigcartel.com/
http://www.relapse.com/

16, Dream Squasher (2020)

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