Hail the Void Sign to Ripple Music for Blasko-Curated Series

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Following up on the recent snag of Austin, Texas’ http://www.diemwerke.com/?the-writers-thesis-statement-should-includes in UK Dissertation Writing Services UK from Expert Writers. For students drowning in dissertation related stress, The Dissertation Help is here to throw them the academic lifebelt to save their grades from drowning in the sea of failures. With phenomenal services like ours, we promise to finally let you breathe a sigh of relief and let us perfect your dissertations Holy Death Trio, the It is obvious that essay writing is not an easy task for the students and the Oklahoma University Admissions Essay comes as practical option for all the students Ripple Music series helmed and curated with the blessing of Early My Favorite Memory Essays children crack the reading code. Because our language is a sound-symbol system, attempting to write the sounds kids hear is great phonics practice. It also combines segmenting Rob “Blasko” Nicholson — who’s probably the highest-profile proponent of heavy you know — gets its second act in the form of BC trio go to link for stanford coursework help 425 n of information dissertation editing and an additional sentence or entire sentences found in over half of the political act 375 fcleary and o sullivan describe the data can be safely handled; and increasing student-staff ratios arising from their l1 fteaching language features of the. Hail the Void. The Victoria-based outfit issued their self-titled debut (stream it below) last year and ticked the boxes of a welcome reception from the digitally-remote heavy underground (which is to say, no touring but the album was well received). Their second LP is reportedly due later this year and they have a live video up as well that’s a humble three songs and 20 minutes long. Time well spent.

With more to come, the PR wire puts it thusly:

hail the void

HAIL THE VOID ink worldwide deal with Ripple Music; new album coming as part of special series curated by Blasko

Canadian hard rockers HAIL THE VOID announce their signing to Ripple Music for the release of their sophomore full-length this year. The Victoria, B.C. trio is the second band to join the Californian label as part of the special series of releases curated by Blasko.

HAIL THE VOID are a Canadian hard rock band forged in the flames of the coronavirus pandemic. The band came together to play original material in December 2019 with Kirin Gudmundson on guitar and vocals, Dean Gustin on bass and Lucas McKinnon on drums. Within a month, they had recorded their self-titled debut LP, which received critical acclaim. Now they’ve signed with Ripple Music under the mentorship of the one and only Blasko.

About this new signing, Blasko comments: “Hail the Void released one of strongest debuts I have ever heard. The lead single ‘Parasite ‘was one of my most listened to songs of the year. I am beyond excited to work with these dudes on their sophomore release. Expect to see big moves from Hail the Void in the years to come!”

The band’s sound fuses the psychedelic magic of acts like Pink Floyd and All Them Witches with the classic doom of Electric Wizard and Windhand. Their drop-tuned riffs provide the backdrop for themes exploring societal frustration, antitheism, nihilism and mental illness. Hail The Void’s self-stated goal is to make listeners realize that the true horror and doom of this world, consistently and without fail, comes from the primitive and instinctual mind of man, and his blind ignorance to the one true master towhom we all must submit, the void.

Now, HAIL THE VOID are gearing up for their next release, their debut with Ripple Music. Beyond that, they hope to finally play a live show together, while further advancing their sound in new and increasingly original directions. Will you join them as they preach the good word of the endless void? Or will you turn in fear? Whatever you do, just know that Hail The Void are only just beginning to spread their message of madness across the globe. Bow to the void or be left vanquished in its path.

The band recently released a live performance entitled “Live at Silversound”, which you can watch in full at this location. They will soon unveil more details about their forthcoming sophomore album, keep your eyes peeled…

HAIL THE VOID is
Kirin Gudmundson — Guitar & Vocals
Dean Gustin — Bass
Lucas McKinnon — Drums

https://facebook.com/hailthevoidmusic/
https://www.instagram.com/hailthevoid_music/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/38X56uz4Ur7QIqDJN2IACZ?si=KoGNWKjcReydANxYXYTPgA&nd=1
https://hailthevoid666.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://www.instagram.com/ripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Hail the Void, Hail the Void (2020)

Hail the Void, Live at Siverside Sound

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Olde Premiere “Medico Della Peste” from Pilgrimage Out March 19

Posted in audiObelisk on February 16th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

olde

Toronto noisebringers Help Homework Life Science. We put our writers through the most rigorous vetting in the industry to ensure you receive the best quality content for the price. When it comes to quality, we dont compromise. Speak with Us Request Sample. Our Customers. Meet Our Top Writers. Compose.lys vetted writer community is made up of professionals from a wide range of industries. John Bogna Music & Entertainment Olde will issue their new album, Hire industry leading Dissertation Writing Services Usa Uk from most qualified and professional writers. We are recognized as top dissertation help company Pilgrimage, on March 19 through essay papers essay papers - Dissertations, essays and research papers of highest quality. professional writers, exclusive services, instant delivery and Sludgelord Records in Europe and Content Writing - We provide click to read mores at affordable prices in all over India. Please give us a missed call at +91-8010086090 for details. Seeing Red Records everywhere else. One does not have to wonder long where they might’ve found inspiration for the theme of the album’s second single, “Medico Della Peste,” with its story of plague doctors of old. The band, quoted below talking about the track, are right when they talk about things like blending hard rock and heavy metal influences, newschool and old, and so on, but in making it strictly binary they undersell some of the variety of influence in that track and the surrounding seven on the eight-song/42-minute long-player. Sure, there’s a definite foundation in noise rock and sludge, but the opening title-track has lumber enough to remind immediately that drummer Our inexpensive book report service is by far the best book Custom Written College Papers. We use only qualified writers who are native English speakers. Ryan Aubin also features in Document Read Online great post to read Rewrite My Paper - In this site is not the same as a answer calendar you buy in a record buildup or download Sons of Otis, and on the subsequent “A New King,” vocalist With so many essay writing services on the web, why to choose Essays Solutions? Because we are the http://www.hwk-ff.de/writing-literary-essays/ that provide the highest Doug McLarty manages to channel modern metal gutturalism in a pattern that most reminds of mid-period How To Write University Papers - experienced writers, quality services, fast delivery and other benefits can be found in our academy writing help receive a 100% Neurosis. Does it make sense? Not on paper, but definitely in the songs.

So there’s more reach going on here than just hard rock and heavy metal, but kudos to It is no wonder, then, that many students, especially those without any particular writing aptitude, have to http://www.abatec.cz/?nursing-paper-writing-service online with ideas to level the playing field somehow. And if you are mulling over the ideas for your college papers, there is no better choice than OnlineCollegeEssay.com - professionals will provide you with custom college papers with ideas in a timely manner. It is Olde on the humility. The guitar tones of It is obvious that essay writing is not an easy task for the students and the http://www.zacapaonline.com/?dissertation-ma-significance-problem-tel comes as practical option for all the students Greg Dawson and Search for Automotive http://www.fischhase.de/?a-manual-for-writers-of-research-papers jobs at Monster. Browse our collection of Automotive Service Writer job listings, including openings in full time and Chris Hughes and Cory McCallum‘s bass go a decidedly different route, backing McLarty‘s hard-wrought assertions with a duly fervent chug. Humble it ain’t, but who honestly has time for such things by their third album? Olde have developed their sound across 2014’s I (review here) and 2017’s Temple (review here), and even as they bring in Nichol S. Robertson and Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain — the latter of whom is in Voivod and is one of the happiest headbangers you’ll ever see on stage; he is a joy to watch — for guest guitar solos and branch outward with a bit of sax in side B opener “The Dead Hand,” Olde sound like a band come into their own. As “In Defiance” picks up from “Medico Della Peste,” and really across all of Pilgrimage, the progression feels utterly natural. To wit, the rumbling, righteously nodding “In Defiance,” the aggression and heftolde pilgrimage of which is seamlessly offset by a post-rock-style airy guitar lead line that courses throughout. A break makes the heavy return all the heavier, and the wash conjured at the finish underscores how much more depth there is to Olde circa 2019/2020 — when the album was recorded — than they’re necessarily letting on.

All the better. “The Dead Hand” picks up after the consuming end of “In Defiance,” and has a back-to-bruiser-business vibe… until the sax shows up. It’s a slow roller, but bordering on catchy, and the brass solo in the second half leads directly into the likewise brash finish. It’s from there that the shortest inclusion, “Depth Charge” (3:47), picks up and pushes further into the reaches of lurching riffs, bringing echoing vocals into the chasm of its own making and casting a hypnosis through repetition. Another solo — I’m sorry, I’m not sure by whom — rips into the low end torrent, and the six-minute “Under Threatening Skies” starts quiet in emerging from all that rumble, but soon enough is underway with a Goatsnaker of a riff and somehow even more aggro vocals. A current of melody comes in near the finish, I think from the guitar, but the vibe is suitably dark in a way that gives the impression the title came in response to the music itself, and much as “Depth Charge” pushed further from “The Dead Hand,” so too does closer “Wastelands” seem to answer “Under Threatening Skies,” sonically if not through direct narrative.

Part of this flow is tempo-based, part of it comes from consistent tonality, etc., but Olde make it feel purposeful just the same, and they carry the record to its finish with a sureness and an ending of brief residual hum that leaves nothing left unsaid. And so they do. To their credit, Olde never come out and note directly the pandemic that may have driven them toward some of themes for their third full-length, including “Medico Della Peste,” but that specter isn’t far off from the listener’s consciousness just the same, and even if the recording was begun in the grand before-times — when shows happened and hugs were exchanged willy-nilly between individuals hardly more than casually acquainted — Pilgrimage is suited to the post-apocalyptic context in which it arrives. “Wasteland” might as well be a story about venues closing. It may be a dark future, but there’s some bash-head-against-wall catharsis happening here.

But hey, looking for an outlet that won’t leave bruises? Shout along with McLarty to “Medico Della Peste” on the player premiering the track below.

And enjoy:

Olde on “Medico Della Peste”:

“Medico Della Peste tells the tale of the plague doctors of centuries long past. The Bubonic Plague ravaged Europe, killing millions, and it was the ill-equipped and under-funded Medico Della Peste who were charged with trying to stem the tide of the Black Death. A story as old as time; a race between science and nature to save humanity. Musically, we wanted to marry our sludge influences with the hard rock riffs we grew up with i.e. Judas Priest, Kiss, etc. Science vs. Nature. New School vs. The Old Guard. Medico Della Peste is a toe-tapping neck-snapper, crafted to appeal to fans of hard rock and heavy metal alike.”

Pre-Order Links:
Seeing Red Records (N. America / Rest of World): https://seeingredrecords.limitedrun.com/products/690900?preview=true
Sludgelord (Europe): https://sludgelordrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pilgrimage

Recorded, Produced, Mixed & Mastered in ‘19/20 @ BWC Studios by: Greg Dawson

Olde is:
Greg Dawson | Guitars
Chris Hughes | Guitars
Doug McLarty | Vocals
Ryan Aubin | Drums (and two fiery guitar solos)
Cory McCallum | Bass

Guest musicians:
Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain (Voivod) | Guitar
Nichol S. Robertson | Guitar
Nick Teehan | Saxophone

Olde on Thee Facebooks

Olde on Instagram

Olde on Bandcamp

Seeing Red Records on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

Seeing Red Records website

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

Sludgelord Records on Thee Facebooks

Sludgelord Records on Instagram

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Drug Sauna Sign to The Dregs Records; 2% Saunic Tape Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Calgary, Alberta, two-piece Drug Sauna allegedly recorded their late-2020 three-song EP, 2% Saunic, in their van. Is that true? Does it matter? Maybe, and no, in that order. The resultant in-your-head claustrophobia of the eponymous “Drug Sauna” brings enough ultra-stoned consciousness consumption that, wherever it was made, it was made well to suit its purposes. Likewise, opener “Space Druggin'” (get it?) and the closing take on Nazareth‘s “Razamanaz” are no less nod-melting, the twisted low end of bassist Deano and the raw drums of Cory hypnotic despite their lo-fi presentation even on the uptempo finale.

The Dregs Records, who it would seem have an affinity for that which may have emerged from an especially dank humidor, has signed the band to release 2% Saunic on tape, which, yes, should fit its fuckall nicely. Preorders are open as of today and run until March 15, and to be on the safe side an April 1 release date has been set.

The announcement follows here. I leave you to it and wish you well:

drug sauna 2 percent saunic

Drug Sauna – The Dregs Records

The Dregs Records is stoked to welcomes Calgary’s dirtiest duo, Drug Sauna, to the family. After seeing a one-minute video in 2019 of these pasty party animals Shane (of TDR) fell head over heels for what the band was all about. They truly capture the sense of freedom of the hesher lifestyle.

We have a few projects lined up for 2021. First up is getting 2% Saunic on cassette tapes. With boogie vans pre loaded with them suckers, it seems like a total no brainer. There will also be a special “doom” edit of their Nazareth cover Razamanaz exclusive to the tapes. This run is limited to 100 units and will be split between the band and label and will be released on April 1.

Are they using that date as a joke just in case there are delays due to covid? You’ll have to wait and see!

Pre orders start today and will ship once they are received. By their calculations this could be mid March (wink wink). Pre Orders end March 15th and the fashionably late will have to wait to party till the actual release date in April.

For US orders hit thedregsrecords.bigcartel.com for Canada drugsauna.bigcartel.com and Europe flip a coin heads TDR tails Drug Sauna. Can’t wait till we all can hit the road, till then stay stoned!

Drug Sauna are:
Deano: Bass/Vox
Cory: Drumbs

https://www.facebook.com/drugsauna/
http://instagram.com/drug_sauna
http://drugsauna.bandcamp.com/
drugsauna.bigcartel.com
https://linktr.ee/thedregsrecords

Drug Sauna, 2% Saunic (2020)

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Witchrot: Debut Album Hollow Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

witchrot

Right on. I dug the 2020 Strega / Hey Hey My My (review here) single from Toronto’s Witchrot, and the news of an impending full-length debut is only welcome as far as I’m concerned. The release — which will be out… ever — is unsurprisingly set to issue through the ongoing collaboration between Fuzzed and Buzzed and DHU Records that has wrought much cultishness of purpose and much fuzz of tone already and one hopes will only continue to do so throughout 2021. The more the merrier.

If you didn’t hear the single last year, it’s streaming below as there’s no audio as yet from the album, which is titled Hollow. One assumes that will come in time along with stuff like, oh, a release date and preorders and all that whatnot.

DHU sent the preliminaries along the PR wire:

witchrot hollow

New release by Fuzzed and Buzzed & DHU Records: Witchrot ~ Hollow

DHU Records is excited to announce we will be teaming up once again with that super stoned label of Canadian descent Fuzzed and Buzzed Records to bring you the debut full length LP Hollow by Toronto Doom Cult Witchrot!!

“After releasing 2 crushing 7″ & 8” singles in 2019 and 2020, the time has come for Canadian Doomers Witchrot to unleash their debut full length and they did not hold back to bring you earth shattering hymns of colossal proportions!

Ultra Heavy riffing, uncomfortable atmospheres coiled in overwhelming & mesmeric chants from singer Lea make Hollow a Doom Masterpiece!”

DHU Records & Fuzzed and Buzzed Records are proud to bring you Hollow on Limited Edition Vinyl in the second quarter of 2021. DHU, Fuzzed and Buzzed and Witchrot Editions will be available. All Editions will be available to order in EU and CAN/US

More info & details coming soon…

Side A:
A1. Million Shattered Swords 6:44
A2. Colder Hands 5:42
A3. Spiral Of Sorrow 5:58
A4. Fog 2:46

Side B:
B1. Devil In Your Eyes 5:10
B2. Burn Me Down 5:27
B3. I Know My Enemy 4:16
B4. Hollow 5:04

Engineered and mixed by Dylan Frankland
At Palace Sound // Candle Studio November 2019 and October 2020.
Assistant Engineer Simon Kou
Mastered by Tony Reed at HeavyHead Recording Co.
Album art & layout by ZZ Corpse
Executive Producer Lex Shuper

Witchrot are:
Lea Reto
Peter Turik
Nick Kervin
Cam Alford

https://www.facebook.com/witchrot
https://www.instagram.com/witchrotband/
https://witchrot.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Fuzzedandbuzzed-631019733954614/
https://www.instagram.com/fuzzedandbuzzed/
https://www.fuzzedandbuzzed.com/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Witchrot, Strega / Hey Hey My My (2020)

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Friday Full-Length: The Devin Townsend Band, Synchestra

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

I won’t attempt to even feign impartiality here: I love this album. By now, the Devin Townsend discography is — for the uninitiated — an impenetrable hodgepodge of various releases from different incarnations of the man himself and bands built around him, from Strapping Young Lad to The Devin Townsend Band to The Devin Townsend Project to… wait for it… Devin Townsend, and that’s before you get into whether Ocean Machine: Biomech was supposed to be a record by a band called Ocean Machine, or an offshoot project like Casualties of Cool or that thing he did with Jason Newsted that time, or that thing he did with Scott Reeder that time, or his book, or Ziltoid the Omniscient, and so on and so forth.

Synchestra was released in 2006 and is a crossroads album. It ties together with Strapping Young Lad‘s penultimate, likewise brilliant 2005 LP, Alien, in theme and musical callbacks, a cut like “Babysong” coming in answer to “Love?” from the SYL release, and pre-hidden-track Synchestra closer “Notes From Africa” actually reworking a part of that  song into its own multifaceted progression. This was Townsend, an artist of rare expressive and compositional capability whose career began at 19 with Steve Vai, working through the idea of procreation and coming up with a lush and genius prog metal modus in the process. “Triumph” talks about “Hooray for Dr. Young” and “Hooray the time has come to vanish once again,” and Synchestra was the final album from The Devin Townsend Band before Townsend went to ground and did the Hummer drone record and broke out the puppet for Ziltoid, then came back with The Devin Townsend Project for Ki and a succession of albums the last of which was 2016’s Transcendence — so you see where the idea of ‘crossroads’ comes from. It’s also fair to consider Synchestra a signal of intent in bringing Strapping Young Lad to a close, as that band’s last album, The New Black, was also released in 2006 but cobbled together from various odds and ends in, if I remember right, contractual obligation to produce one more record.

And if you’re still reading and your eyes haven’t glazed over, well, thanks. You also see where ‘impenetrable’ comes from. It’s a sometimes manic level of creativity.

Whatever came before or would follow after, Synchestra was a special moment put to tape. At 65 minutes, it was the realization of the vision of prog Townsend had been developing all along on records likethe devin townsend band synchestra Infinity (1998), Physicist (2000), the also-essential Terria (2001) and the first Devin Townsend Band LP, Accelerated Evolution, in 2003. Its songs run a gamut from the folkish and beautiful intro “Let it Roll” to the goofy metal parody “Vampira” — to say nothing of its lead-in “Vampolka” — kind of making fun of goth and Strapping Young Lad at the same time, while also being ridiculously catchy and over the top, to masterpieces like the building “Triumph” early on, and “Gaia,” the largely instrumental “A Simple Lullaby” and the uberwerk that is “Pixillate,” arriving as it does as part of a movement in the second half of the album that begins with the suitably bright ambient piece “Mental Tan” and unfolds across the remaining tracks plus the bonus let’s-just-have-a-good-time classic-style rocker “Sunshine and Happiness” with the real culmination in the prior “Notes From Africa.”

That second movement, of course, follows on from the first, which ties together more as individual songs than one whole piece but flows nonetheless, with “Let it Roll” moving into the chaotic “Hypergeek” and “Triumph” and “Babysong” feeding into “Vampolka” and “Vampira,” making for an initial 22 minutes that might leave one spinning but ultimately proves just crazy enough to work, in no small part because of Townsend‘s mastery as a songwriter, performer and producer. He’s not alone here — Steve Vai guests on guitar in “Triumph,” Ryan Van Poederooyen plays drums, Mike Young adds bass and tuba, Dave Young plays keys of various sorts, and there are guest vocals throughout — but there is a personal feel nonetheless in part because of the conversational, fourth-wall-breaking framing of the lyrics, and in part because the style and substance, lush as they are and cleanly, clearly produced in a way that has become a Townsend hallmark, are so much his own. As the tracklisting shifts into “Mental Tan,” “Gaia,” “Pixillate” and its stomping, soulful follow-up “Judgement,” there’s a grandeur that justifies the orchestral reference in the record’s title, the crowd sounds of the mostly-instrumental “A Simply Lullaby” feeding into the denouement of “Sunset” and the sense of arrival in “Notes From Africa,” as structure becomes no less of a plaything than melody when it comes to the broader vision of Synchestra as a whole.

And I won’t take away from that, because the album is visionary. It’s of a scope that turns most metal into dust and shows progressive rock/metal for the posturing crank it is. But I need to talk about “Pixillate” for a second because it’s just too gorgeous to go unremarked. The way the first minute builds up with that chug and the far back vocals, the voice of Gaia up front with Townsend answering back, like dialogue, the verse and chorus together, all the while this underlying motion plays out carrying the listener across an eight-minute span that’s an album’s worth of journey — it’s just incredible. It deserves every bit of volume you can give it, and if you’re at all in a position to close your eyes, tilt your head back and let it wash over you, do. Your life will be richer for it. This record is 15 years old this year and “Pixillate” still raises the laughably tiny amount hair on my arms every time. Every time.

And 15 years later, I still find something new to hear on the record. That’s cliché as fuck, but it’s true too. Even if it wasn’t though, like I said at the outset, it comes down to the basic fact that I love this album. I have associations with it positive and negative, but that’s life isn’t it? And Synchestra is an album to live with. If anyone — one person — who reads this who hasn’t heard it hears it, it’s worth it. A word to the wise though, the YouTube playlist above has volume changes that are a pain in the ass. It was the best stream I could find, but you may want to search it out otherwise.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Maybe a little more than usual, I hope you enjoy this one. Thanks for reading.

So I guess the big news this week was Bongzilla signing to Heavy Psych Sounds. Oh, and America’s new president. There was that too. Whatever. Looking forward to that Bongzilla LP, curious if HPS will pick up Church of Misery as well after releasing Sonic Flower stuff. That’d be something.

The real news was The Pecan was back in school this week. In-person. Made a big quality-of-life difference around here, I think most of all for him. He needs that out-of-the-house experience that has been so lagging for last year. Hey, a year. It’s been a year. Covid-era, indeed.

But things are things. I’m glad politics are bland again. I hope they continue to be so and I hope Democrats realize unity is a joke, blow away the filibuster and actually do something in the next two years before they lose their majority in congress and the slide toward right wing fascism picks up where it left off. That’s my hot take. Feel the burn.

I need to have a tooth removed. Number 30, if you’re interested. Apparently I have a massive infection in my jawline. Oops. I consult with a surgeon on Monday. Stay tuned.

Speaking of tuned — masterful segue! — there’s a new The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal today at 5pm. I don’t talk, so there’s nothing to interrupt the flow except Gimme promos, which give it that real-radio feel. At least I don’t have to listen to myself speak.

You should really listen to the Devin Townsend record.

Great and safe weekend. Hydrate, mask up, thanks for reading.

FRM.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

 

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Six Dumb Questions with MOOCH

Posted in Features on January 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

mooch

Montreal-based three-piece Mooch — also stylized all-caps: MOOCH — self-released their debut album, Hounds, on April 20, 2020. Fun timing for a heavy rock record, save for the year. But the trio of guitarist/vocalist Ben Cornel, drummer/backing vocalist Alex Segreti and gone-then-returned bassist/backing vocalist Julian Iacovantuono brought desert-captured vibe that was actually captured in the desert to combat the restlessness of last Spring’s lockdown, and Hounds dips in and out of heavy blues on a cut like “Feel Good” after a little wah trippiness in the funky rollout of “Blues Man’s Face” earlier on. The songs are tight structurally but flow easy, and all 10 of ’em — even the interlude “Lucid,” which is discussed below — contribute to the strength of the whole.

The story of the album — which is just sitting there; it would be begging to be picked up for a vinyl release were it not actually playing it so darn cool; it’s like, “Hey, no big deal, you could put me out as a 12″ I’ve got some cool artwork and I’m a good time” — is of course that they, as a band based on the other side of the continent, pilgrimaged to Twentynine Palms, California, to record at Jalamanta Studios with Brant Bjork and Bubba DuPree. And as narratives go, that’s pretty good. Have songs, will travel. The full reality of the situation is more complex; they did do live tracking with DuPreeBjork and Yosef Sanborn in CA, then returned home and filled those out with overdubbed elements, backing vocal arrangements, and so on, working with Joe Segreti (who also guests on lap steel) at SEGPOP Studios.

One way or the other, though, what Hounds has got is vibe, and it’s got plenty of it. And better, vibe set alongside choice songcraft that doesn’t make its hooks overbearing but most certainly gets its point across and seals Mooch as a band who, though their path getting there was somewhat bumpy — with Iacovantuono going then coming back, completing and refining the songs as a duo, recording in two studios, etc. — know the sound they’re looking for and obviously knew what they wanted to do to capture it. As a debut — which, again, really, someone should step up and put out on vinyl — it more than does its job in serving notice of their intent.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions.

MOOCH HOUNDS

Six Dumb Questions with MOOCH

Tell me about traveling from Montreal to California to record in the desert. How did it come about, how long were you there, and what made you take that trip? Tell me about going. Did you all travel together? What was that trip like for you personally?

Ben Cornel: It was all such a surreal experience. Our trip to California came about in the most cinematic type of circumstances. Alex and myself were touring Eastern Canada as a drum-guitar duo in the spring leading up to the summer 2018 trip. We played a show in Oshawa, Ontario, to a house of maybe 12 people, all band members included. One of the musicians we shared the stage with that night, Andre from Slow Death Lights, came up to us after our set and asked us if we dug Brant Bjork’s music. Absolutely we did and do. MOOCH has always listed Kyuss as one of our biggest influences. That’s why our jaws dropped when Andre mentioned that if we were serious about cutting a record he could potentially introduce us to Brant through email. We left that night being very stoked but also skeptical of the probability of a deal coming through. We gave it a shot and sent Brant an email with some of our music. He replied a couple days later with a simple four word response: Let’s make a record. Within two weeks from that night we had connected with Brant, settled a date, and bought tickets to Palm Springs. We spent the next five months putting together our debut LP HOUNDS.

Alex Segreti: We had booked five August days of studio time with Brant and his team: producer Bubba Dupree, and engineer Yosef Sanborn of Massive FX Pedals. This was the team that weeks prior to our arrival had recorded Brant’s 13th album, Mankind Woman, in the same place that we were headed to, Jalamanta Studios. At the time, we were still a guitar-drum duo hellbent on pulling off some White Stripes-esque two-piece album with as little studio magic as possible. We had spent five months of rehearsing and writing full-time so that we could ace our performances under the red light. Although not working in the band at the time, current MOOCH bassist/vocalist Julian worked hard with us to prepare this album.

Julian Iacovantuono: The pre-prod stage was the first time that Alex, Ben, and I reconnected in a MOOCH context. Since they were only spending a short amount of time in the desert, they wanted the songs to be as ironed-out as possible before going in to record; so they asked me to help them out with the pre-prod. During those sessions, we recorded formal demos, and went over song structure, vocal harmonies, and guitar overdubs.

Ben Cornel: We wanted to absolutely nail this album. We had the chance to open for Yawning Man in Montreal a few months earlier. Meeting and playing with those guys was a rad experience, and now, to get the chance to travel to Joshua Tree to collaborate with Brant in the desert that saw the mythical generator parties and births of Kyuss, Yawning Man, Queens of the Stone Age… we were beyond stoked. For these reasons that trip took on such a personal tone as well. For example, the kit that we recorded on was dubbed ‘the Kyuss kit’. Brant had used it for recording a majority of his drums throughout his career. He also shared with us that Dave Grohl had borrowed the kit whilst touring with Queens of the Stone Age for a Songs for the Deaf tour. Alex, being a gigantic Grohl fan as well as a QOTSA fan, practically collapsed at the realization that he was tracking on the kit. The stories that were shared in the post-recording hours of the day were so what made it so memorable to connect with such a professional, hard working team of individuals. The stories ranged from Lollapalooza, holding Hendrix’s burnt guitar at Frank Zappa’s home studio, and the likes of Soundgarden and Paul McCartney. We were in the company of some of our biggest influences, and this record would not have come to be without the hard work everyone put in.

“Mantra” opens the record mellow and then smacks you in the face. How much did you want to draw out the louder side and the jammier stretches initially? Was that something you specifically wanted to bring out in the recording?

Alex Segreti: The idea that “Mantra” would open the record was suggested to us by our friend Nick who plays in a destructive doom rock band called KATÖ. He heard the mellow slow burn build and thought it would make a great opening. We ran with it and in the end it aligned with the concept of the album. Lyrically “Mantra” explores this flip-the-switch moment between realms. ‘Mantra’ is the switch, and the drop at the end of the song flips you into the realm of HOUNDS for the next 40 minutes.

The concept for the album initially, was that of the barebones duo. We didn’t want to overreach for spaces that we couldn’t hold live during shows. The realness of the album came through from the fact that it was recorded live, without a click. We were in the same room, side by side. This helped the mood flow and the jams come through. We really captured the emotions that we were feeling being there. The way the songs were written was trying to compensate for having a bass-less groove. We decided to keep the groove intact as much as possible instead of reach for the jammier improv moments. That being said, live, we had a massive rig going and we wanted that to come through. We still wanted a hefty punch to land on all ears and in the end we got there, but we ended up with the final sound after a split from our initial concept; which led to more work being done in Montreal after the fact.

How involved were Bubba Dupree and Brant Bjork as producers? What was recorded in Twentynine Palms as opposed to Montreal?

Ben Cornel: Brant was our initial contact and he essentially played the role of the old school producer. He brought the team together, worked on setting up the studio, getting gear, and overlooked the groovy vibes of the operation. Many conversations were had with him regarding style, sound, technique and attitude, among other things. He helped us direct our energy and intent into the music. Bubba Dupree was the producer who sat on every note, and went through the tracking process with us. He would recommend certain changes and had a tight vision for what he heard. We were open to all suggestions and it rolled very smoothly between us. We trusted Bubba’s vision without a shred of doubt and he went on to do a great job in mixing the album. His vibe, vision and contributions could also be heard all over Mankind Woman. Yosef Sanborn supplied some very tasty gear and was in full control of the board the entire time. We had never worked with an engineer who was so on the ball. He rolled with such precision and was calm, cool and collected the entire time. In the end, it was the five of us in this studio space together for many hours of the day. Everyone was fully immersed in the project and contributed to the magic that was expressed through this record.

Alex Segreti: Like we mentioned earlier, at one point, we had to split from the whole duo sound we had initially set out to grab. The drums, guitars and vocals that we recorded in the desert sounded great. Bubba had just gotten us some mixes but the basslessness was too evident. Bubba and Brant suggested we add bass to the record, and to the band. At this point we turned to the one and only Julian Iacovantuono. Julian had played bass in MOOCH for many years and had left the band at the end of 2017. As the duo form showed, we could not and did not replace him. We asked if he would like to rejoin and record bass on the record. He had seen the record at the demo stage and had the chemistry to understand the music. He accepted, and the MOOCH trio was re-birthed.

At this time we reached out to Joe Segreti at SEGPOP Studios. Joe recorded our 2017 Timewarp EP and also worked on arrangements for the album. We knew he had the touch to dial in what we were missing. Joe produced and engineered the Montreal part of the album and did a phenomenal job working with the music. With him we recorded bass, added back up vocals, guitar dubs, djembe and some special ingredients for atmospheric effect. When we look back at what we had leaving the desert and compare it to what we came away with after the Montreal chapter of the project, we are so grateful that Julian and Joe came in. Everything ended up blending in perfectly thanks to Joe and Julian’s amazing job at really understanding what we were trying to accomplish. Their contributions boosted the album to the weight that we always knew we wanted to punch at. We’ve always had our own team at home and we couldn’t be happier that this album did the distance between the desert and Montreal.

Tell me about “Lucid.” It’s such a quick jam but it does a lot atmospherically and ties the songs together around it. How much was laid out in pre-production and how much came to be in the studio?

Ben Cornel: Originally, the music for “Lucid” was supposed to be the extended outro for the track that precedes it, “Blues Man’s Face”. The part could be heard playing throughout the “Blues Man’s Face” riff drop. We recorded the extended outro in the studio without knowing what exactly we were going to do with it. At one point we decided to separate it from BMF and let it stand alone as an “Orchid”-type atmospheric break that Black Sabbath used on Master of Reality. The title “Lucid” fit the mood, and the track became the expression of our trip through the desert, which felt more like a lucid dream than reality.

Julian Iacovantuono: “Lucid,” for me, was probably the most fun track to write on. The guitars provide a vibey blank slate that allowed me to flow melodically with the bass. The only thing that I dislike about the track is how short it is. I think that if we knew what the song would become once we added the guitar dubs, bass, and djembe; we would have made it longer. When we play it live though, we always extend it by a few minutes.

Obviously 2020 was a weird year to release a debut album since you couldn’t really play live to support it. Has the pandemic affected your creative processes at all? Have you been inspired, restless, anything, during this time?

Julian Iacovantuono: This year has definitely been difficult on us as a band. The pandemic has taken from us the main thing we set out to do; play music for people. We’re beginning to get back to writing music and releasing content, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.

Alex Segreti: We are thankful to the people who connected with us and our music online during such a time of social isolation. We were able to find ways to connect with people outside of the live show atmosphere and explore the internet for sources that allow for musical discovery. We were lucky to set up a premiere with Doomed and Stoned back in April which connected us with some rad music lovers through Vegas Rock Revolution, Doom Charts, Obelisk, Kyuss World, Ripple Music. With the support of these communities we have managed to branch out and share our music with people all over the world. We eagerly await a safe reopening for everyone everywhere so that we could connect face-to-face.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We have recently opened our MOOCH Bandcamp store and released HOUNDS on CD. A few of our tour shirts are also still available. We are still working towards making the vinyl investment so that we could get the wax out to the world. We are grateful for everyone who has supported us and helped us along. Much more MOOCH to come.

Mooch, Hounds (2020)

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The Obelisk Presents: THE BEST OF 2020

Posted in Features on December 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

london-news-etching-1854-newcastle-upon-tyne

[PLEASE NOTE: These are not the results of the year-end poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t contributed your list to the cause yet, please do so here.]

Invariably, the ultimate measure of 2020 will be in lives and livelihoods lost around the world. I have nothing to add to the discourse of the COVID-19 pandemic that others haven’t said in more articulate and precise language. Suffice it to note that 2020 was the year that the very concept of “unprecedented” itself became trite.

One does not have to look far to find positives amid the devastation. Creativity continues to flourish. Art cannot be killed. Even locked away from each other in quarantine, artists will continue to reach out, to collaborate, to fulfill the human need for expression that has driven the species since cave drawings and will no doubt be the ruins we leave behind us when we’re gone.

In underground music, it was simply overwhelming. And though I’ll admit it was hard at times to listen to music and divorce it from the larger context of what was happening in the world — it was there like a background buzz — this year reinforced how necessary music is, not only as an escape or a source of income for those who make/promote it, but as an integral component of life and community. Absences have been keenly felt.

I won’t try to sate you with platitudes, to say “things will get better.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. One year turning to the next does not fix broken systems and it does not cure raging plagues. It’s just a number. Arbitrary except as a convenient marker for things like this, births, deaths, and so on. Bookkeeping.

Before I turn you over to the lists: Please be kind in the comments if you choose to leave one. To me. To other people. To yourself. These lists are culled from my listening preference and what I consider of critical importance. But I’m one person. If there’s something you feel has been left out, say so. I ask you only to do so in a spirit of friendship rather than argument. Thank you in advance.

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Okay:

The Top 50 Albums of 2020

#50-31

50. Sun Crow, Quest for Oblivion
49. Atramentus, Stygian
48. Arcadian Child, Protopsycho
47. Fuzz, III
46. Jointhugger, I Am No One
45. Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
44. Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns
43. Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted
42. Hymn, Breach Us
41. IAH, III
40. Lord Fowl, Glorious Babylon
39. Acid Mess, Sangre de Otros Mundos
38. 1000mods, Youth of Dissent
37. Deathwhite, Grave Image
36. Soldati, Doom Nacional
35. Cortez, Sell the Future
34. Kadavar, The Isolation Tapes
33. Black Rainbows, Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
32. Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch
31. Insect Ark, The Vanishing

Notes: To say nothing of the honorable mentions that follow the rest of the list below, immediately we see the problem of so-many-albums-not-enough-space. People talk about a top 50 as ridiculous, like there’s no way you can like that much music. Bullshit. I agonized over how to fit Sun Crow on this list because their Quest for Oblivion felt like it deserved to be here. Ditto that for Arcadian Child. And the achievements of bands like Kadavar, 1000mods and Switchblade Jesus and Insect Ark in breaking the boundaries of their own aesthetics deserve every accolade they can get, and likewise those who progressed in their sound like Cortez, Shadow Witch, Lord Fowl, Hymn, Foot, Black Rainbows, Deathwhite and IAH. Add to that the debuts from Atramentus, Dirt Woman, Jointhugger, Acid Mess and Sergio Ch.’s Soldati, and you’ve got a batch of 20 records — some born of this year’s malaise, some working in spite of it — that vary in sound but are working to push their respective styles to new places one way or the other.

30. High Priestess, Casting the Circle

high priestess casting the circle

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed May 5.

There was no shortage of anticipation for what L.A. cultists High Priestess would do to follow their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), and the three-piece did not disappoint, instead gave a ritual mass that included the 17-minute concept piece “Invocation” alongside infectious and ethereal melodies like “The Hourglass.” And now that the circle’s been cast? Seems like they can do anything.

29. Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed Oct. 12.

High-powered cosmic metal from Finland pulling apart heavy psychedelia on an atomic level with an urgency that speaks of youth, progress and an ingrained need for exploration? Sign me up. A lot of bands on this list put out their first album this year. There are few for whom my hopes are as high as they are for Polymoon. If you haven’t yet heard Caterpillars of Creation, do.

28. Sons of Otis, Isolation

Sons of Otis Isolation

Released by Totem Cat Records. Reviewed Sept. 30.

Of the sundry horrors 2020 wrought, a new album from long-running Toronto three-piece Sons of Otis was an unexpected positive, and their ultra-spaced, murky riffs on their first studio album since 2012’s Seismic (review here, also here) launched like a slow-motion escape pod of righteous doom (s)tonality. There will never be another Sons of Otis. Be thankful for everything you get from them.

27. Lamp of the Universe, Dead Shrine

Lamp of the Universe Dead Shrine

Released by Projection Records. Reviewed May 25.

Organ, Mellotron, sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussion elements, and of course the inimitable fragility in Craig Williamson‘s voice itself — the ingredients for Lamp of the Universe‘s Dead Shrine were familiar enough for those familiar with the one-man outfit running more than two decades, but the lush acid folk created remains a standout the world over. Dead Shrine was a much-needed gift of peace and meditation.

26. BleakHeart, Dream Griever

bleakheart dream griever

Released by Sailor Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

The debut album from Colorado’s BleakHeart collected pieces united by melody and overarching atmosphere, positioned stylistically somewhere around heavygaze or heavy post-rock, but feeling less limited to genre bounds than some others working in a similar sphere. As a first outing, it brought a promise of things to come even as the depths of its mix seemed to swallow the listener entirely, equal parts serving claustrophobia and escapism.

25. Pale Divine, Consequence of Time

Pale Divine Consequence of Time

Released by Cruz Del Sur Music. Reviewed June 3.

There is not enough space here to properly commend Pale Divine founding guitarist/vocalist Greg Diener on how much he opened up the band by bringing in his and drummer Darin McCloskey‘s former Beelzefuzz bandmate Dana Ortt on shared guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. Completed by Ron “Fezz” McGinnis on bass/vocals, Pale Divine are a refreshed and ready powerhouse of American traditional doom.

24. Uncle Woe, Phantomescence

uncle woe phantomescence

Released by Packard Black Productions. Reviewed Oct. 21.

One is going to have to get used to the idea of Uncle Woe residing in the places between, I think. An inward-looking cosmic doom that’s likewise morose and reaching, opaque and translucent, Phantomescence could be almost troubling in its feeling of off-kilter expression. Yet that’s exactly what multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Rain Fice was going for. Thriving on contradiction, exploratory, and individualized. Start from doom, move outward.

23. REZN, Chaotic Divine

rezn chaotic divine

Released by Off the Record Label. Reviewed Oct. 15.

I don’t feel like I’m cool enough to offer any substantive comment on what Chicago’s REZN do, but their sax-laced heavy psychedelia comes across warm and is invitingly languid while still delivered with a sense of energy and purpose. It rolls and you want to roll with it, so you do. They were clearly hurt by not being able to tour this year, as were audiences for not seeing them. Call them neo-stoner metal or whatever you want, these songs deserve to be played live.

22. Ruff Majik, The Devil’s Cattle

ruff majik the devils cattle

Released by Mongrel Records. Reviewed Oct. 29.

A revamped lineup for South African desert-ish heavy rockers Ruff Majik brought producer Evert Snyman in as co-conspirator with frontman/principal songwriter Johni Holiday, and found the former trio working as a five-piece with a broader sound underscored by an electric sense of purpose and willingness to push themselves to places they hadn’t gone before. Their third record, it seemed as well to be a new beginning, and they met the challenge head-on.

21. Curse the Son, Excruciation

Curse The Son Excruciation

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed June 8.

The underheralded children of rolling fuzz riffage, Connecticut’s Curse the Son found new depths of emotion to bring to Excruciation — and I do mean “depths.” Dark times for dark times. Fueled by personal hardship, turmoil, motorcycle accidents and a pervasive sense of struggle, the LP was nonetheless a triumph of their songwriting and brought new melodic character to their established largesse of tone. Your loss if you missed it.

20. The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio

The Atomic Bitchwax Scorpio

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed Aug. 26.

Business as usual in ferocious heavy/speed rock from The Atomic Bitchwax on Scorpio — and that was only reassuring since the band’s eighth full-length marked the first since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Finn Ryan and his replacing with Garrett Sweeny, a bandmate of founding bassist/vocalist Chris Kosnik and drummer Bob Pantella in Monster Magnet. They barely stopped to cool their heels and yet still managed to be catchy as hell. How do they do it? Jersey Magic.

19. Cinder Well, No Summer

cinder well no summer

Released by Free Dirt Records. Reviewed July 21.

Such pervasive melancholy could only be derived from Irish folk, and so it was on Cinder Well‘s No Summer, which managed to move between singer-songwriter minimalism from Amelia Baker and arrangements of deceptive and purposeful intricacy. Wherever it went, from traditional songs “Wandering Boy” and “The Cuckoo” to originals like “Fallen” and the nine-minute “Our Lady’s,” it was equal parts gorgeous and sad and resonant. It remains so, despite the fleeting season.

18. Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Dec. 24.

Their fourth album and first since crossing the decade-mark since their inception, Pallbearer‘s Forgotten Days wasn’t just heavy, emotional or big-sounding; it was the most their-own of anything they’ve done. It felt exactly like the record they wanted it to be, and reconfirmed that the generation of listeners being introduced to doom by their music is going to be just fine if they follow the cues laid out for them here.

17. Slift, Ummon

slift ummon

Released by Stolen Body and Vicious Circle Records. Reviewed March 26.

Less a reinvention of space rock than a kick in its ass, Slift‘s Ummon pushed well past the line of manageability at 72 minutes and reveled in that. The French outfit were greeted as liberators when they released the album, and with the way the respect has been maintained in the months since they’ve given themselves a high standard to meet, but there’s only promise to be heard as you get lost in the nebular wash of this sprawling 2LP. They’ll have two more records out before this one’s fully digested.

16. My Dying Bride, The Ghost of Orion

my dying bride the ghost of orion

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Feb. 25.

The first album in half a decade from long-established UK death-doom forebears My Dying Bride found vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe coping with his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and translating that into the morose poetry for which the band is so well known and with which they’ve been so influential. My Dying Bride has never wanted for sincerity, but to call them affecting here would be underselling the quality of their craft and the heart they put into it. Follow-up EP is already out with extra non-album tracks.

15. Causa Sui, Szabodelico

causa sui Szabodelico

Released by El Paraiso Records. Reviewed Nov. 11.

Denmark’s Causa Sui may be on a mission to unite jazz and heavy psychedelia — and blessings on them for that — but the mellow jammy vibes they conjured on Szabodelico only emphasized how much it’s the character of what they do and the chemistry they’ve brought as bandmates that has allowed them to branch thusly in terms of aesthetic. It was the kind of album you wanted to put on again even before it was over, and its sweet instrumentals felt born to a greater timeline than a single year can encompass.

14. All Souls, Songs for the End of the World

All Souls Songs for the End of the World

Self-released. Reviewed Sept. 21.

I’m not a punk rocker, but All Souls make me wish I was. Their emotive and engaged heavy rock looks out as much as in on Songs for the End of the World — their second LP behind a 2018 self-titled debut (review here) — but it’s undeniably punk in its foundation, and what the four-piece of Antonio Aguilar and Meg Castellanos (both ex-Totimoshi), Erik Trammell (Black Elk) and Tony Tornay (Fatso Jetson) have put together builds on that in exciting, inventive and individualized ways, while staying nonetheless true to its roots.

13. Kind, Mental Nudge

kind mental nudge

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Oct. 20.

Five years after their debut album, Rocket Science (review here), Boston four-piece Kind return with Mental Nudge. And despite the different situations in which it finds the band’s members — bassist Tom Corino is now ex-Rozamov, drummer Matt Couto now ex-Elder — the group’s focus remains on carving memorable, mostly structured tracks out of ethereal heavy psychedelia, guitarist Darryl Shepard (Milligram, etc.) and vocalist Craig Riggs (RoadsawSasquatch, etc.) adding space and melody to the crunching, driving grooves.

12. Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Released by Season of Mist. Featured Aug. 17.

Founded by vocalist Farida Lemouchi (ex-The Devil’s Blood) and guitarist Oeds Beydals (ex-Death Alley, also ex-The Devil’s Blood) and commissioned as a project for Roadburn Festival 2019 (review here), Molassess are inextricably tied to Lemouchi‘s groundbreaking former outfit and its tragic ending, but the musical branching out into darkened progressive textures on Through the Hollow isn’t to be understated. It was an album that pushed past the past, not overlooking it, but finding new ways of moving forward in life and sound.

11. Tony Reed, Funeral Suit

tony reed funeral suit

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed Sept. 28.

While of course the Mos Generator frontman is no stranger to writing or recording on his own, Funeral Suit was Tony Reed‘s debut as a solo artist and it carried his progressive stamp in melody and arrangement. It was not just a guitarist playing acoustic instead of electric, and it was not a manifestation of self-indulgence. Whether it was reworking a Mos Generator song like “Lonely One Kenobi” or pursuing a new piece like the title-track or “Waterbirth,” Reed found balance between personal and audience, evoking traditional songsmithing even as he reminded listeners of his dual role as a producer.

10. Geezer, Groovy

Geezer Groovy

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed May 18.

Spectacular showing from Kingston kingpins Geezer with Groovy as their first offering for Heavy Psych Sounds. Led by guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, the three-piece brought material that flowed with the organic feel of jams despite being structured and catchy songs. In pieces like “Dead Soul Scroll” and “Drowning on Empty,” they melded stonerized groove with what felt like genuine emotional expression, and “Dig” and “Groovy” still managed to be a heavy fuzz-blues party. And they still had room at the end to jam out on “Slide Mountain” and “Black Owl.” It was nothing but a win, rising to the occasion on every level.

9. Big Scenic Nowhere, Vision Beyond Horizon

big scenic nowhere vision beyond horizon

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed Jan. 29.

So Bob Balch from Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man have a band. They get Tony Reed from Mos Generator on board. Mario Lalli from Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson comes and goes. Nick Oliveri comes and goes. Bill Stinson from Yawning Man plays drums. Alain Johannes sits in on vocals. Reed does a bunch of vocals; his kid does a track too. Per Wiberg from Spiritual Beggars, Opeth, Candlemass, etc., lends some keys. What do you call such a thing? Who cares? You call yourself lucky it exists. They called the record Vision Beyond Horizon. Can’t wait to find out what they call the next one.

8. Elder, Omens

elder omens

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed April 27.

Omens marked a new beginning for Elder as the band pushed deeper into the realm of progressive rock and beyond their weightier beginnings. The arrival of Georg Edert (also Gaffa Ghandi) on drums in place of Matt Couto shifted the band’s dynamic in a number of ways, providing not a swinging anchor for the rhythm section necessarily, but another avenue of prog fluidity. Bassist Jack Donovan brought a steady presence in the low end as guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo and guitarist/keyboardist Mike Risberg embarked on new melodic explorations while staying loyal to the band’s established penchant for sweeping changes. Omens may live up to its name as a sign of things to come, but either way, it was a strong display of the band’s will to pursue new ideas and methods.

7. Forming the Void, Reverie

forming the void reverie

Released by Ripple Music. Reviewed April 15.

First words that come to mind here: “eminently listenable.” With seven tracks and 36 minutes, Reverie may not have taken up much of your afternoon… once. But by the time you gave it its proper respect and listened through three times in a row, the situation was somewhat different. The Lafayette, Louisiana, four-piece gracefully brought together structured songwriting with proggier leanings and were able to bring together rampaging hooks like “Trace the Omen” and “Manifest,” casting a sense of sonic hugeness without forgetting to add either melody or personality along with that. The band — who here welcomed bassist Thorn Letulle alongside guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa and drummer Thomas Colley — have worked quickly and evolved with a sense of urgency. Is Reverie the goal or another step on that path?

6. Grayceon, MOTHERS WEAVERS VULTURES

grayceon mothers weavers vultures

Released by Translation Loss Records. Reviewed Nov. 18.

Vocalist/cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (interview here), guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell comprise Grayceon, and with their fifth record, the band looks around thematically at environmental devastation through the lens of record-breaking California wildfires from their vantage point in the Bay Area. Even as the world shifted priorities (at least most of it did) to yet another global crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, genre-melting-pot songs like “Diablo Wind,” “The Lucky Ones,” and “This Bed” reminded of the horrors humanity has wrought on its battered home, and still managed to find hope and serenity in “And Shine On” and “Rock Steady,” a closing duo that shifted to a more personal discussion of family and one’s hope for a better future for and by the next generation. 2020 had plenty of horror. At least we got a new Grayceon record out of it.

5. Brant Bjork, Brant Bjork

brant bjork brant bjork

Released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Reviewed April 28.

When Sho’Nuff asked Bruce Leroy “who’s the master?,” dude should’ve said Brant Bjork. It would’ve been a confusing end to Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon, but ultimately more accurate, as Brant Bjork‘s homegrown kung fu was unfuckwithable as ever on the album that shares his name. After two decades of solo releases in one form or another, Bjork is not just a pivotal figurehead for desert rock, he’s a defining presence, as well as one of its most treasured practitioners. Brant Bjork, the album, brought initial waves of funk in “Jungle in the Sound,” explored weedy worship in “Mary (You’re Such a Lady)” and toyed with religious dogma in offsetting that with “Jesus Was a Bluesman” while still tossing primo hooks in “Duke of Dynamite” and “Shitkickin’ Now” ahead of the more open “Stardust and Diamond Eyes” and the acoustic closer “Been So Long.” With Bjork recording all the instruments himself, a due feeling of intimacy resulted, and yet he still found a way to make it rock. How could it be otherwise?

4. Enslaved, Utgard

enslaved utgard

Released by Nuclear Blast Records. Reviewed Sept. 29.

Why do I feel the immediate need to defend this pick? I’m not sure. Norway’s Enslaved are an institution, not just of black metal, but of bringing an ideology of creative growth to that style that often willfully resists it. They are iconoclastic even unto their own work. Utgard was released as the band stood on the precipice of 30 years together and yet it stood as their most forward-looking offering yet, as co-founders Grutle Kjellson (bass/vocals) and Ivar Bjørnson (guitar/sometimes vocals), as well as longtime lead guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal backed up the change from 2017’s E (review here) that brought in new keyboardist/vocalist Hakon Vinje with the incorporation of drummer Iver Sandøy, who doubles as a vocalist (and triples as a producer). The “new blood” made all the difference on Utgard, allowing Enslaved to piece together new ranges of melody in their work and offset instrumental shifts into and out of krautrock-derived progressions. Simply the work of a band outdoing itself from a band who does so at nearly every opportunity.

3a. Colour Haze, We Are

colour haze we are

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten and Ripple Music. Reviewed Dec. 3, 2019.

Every year I allow myself one addendum pick, and this is it. We Are was on last year’s list because it was digitally released, but the vinyl came out this year and it received its North American release this year as well, so it seemed only right to acknowledge that. So here it is in its proper place.

3. All Them Witches, Nothing as the Ideal

All-Them-Witches-Nothing-as-the-Ideal

Released by New West Records. Reviewed Sept. 3.

This is a band controlling their own narrative. Instead of Nothing as the Ideal being ‘the one they made as a three-piece,’ the Nashville outfit decided to make it ‘the one they recorded at Abbey Road.’ Were they thinking of it on those terms? Yeah, likely not, but it goes to demonstrate all the same just how much of themselves All Them Witches put into what they do musically, since not only are they continuing to refine and define and undefine their approach, but they’re setting the terms on which they do it. Each of their records has been a response to the one prior, but that conversation has never been so direct as to make them predictable. So what are they chasing? Apparently nothing. I’m not entirely sure I buy that as a complete answer, but I am sure I love these songs and the experiments with tape loops and other sounds that fill these spaces. Whatever they do next — or even if nothing — their run has been incredible and exciting and one only hopes their influence continues to spread over the next however many years.

2. Elephant Tree, Habits

elephant tree habits

Released by Deathwish Inc.. Reviewed April 13.

There was a high standard set by Elephant Tree‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), but their second LP, Habits, surpassed even the loftiest of expectations. With vocals centered around harmonies from guitarist Jack Townley and bassist Peter Holland, the former trio completed by drummer Sam Hart brought in guitarist/keyboardist John Slattery (also sometimes vocals), and the resultant breadth gave the material on Habits spaciousness beyond even what the first album promised. Drifting, rolling, unflinchingly melodic and somehow present even in its own escapism, Habits was not just an early highlight for a rough 2020, but a comforting presence throughout, and the further one dug into tracks like “Sails,” “Exit the Soul,” “Faceless,” “Wasted” and the acoustic “The Fall Chorus,” the more there was to find — let alone “Bird,” which I’ll happily put against anything else one might propose for song of the year. As their former UK label crumbled, Habits emerged unscathed and Elephant Tree‘s future continues to shine with ever more hope for things to come. Being able to say that about anything feels like a relief.

2020 Album of the Year

1. Lowrider, Refractions

Lowrider Refractions

Released by Blues Funeral Recordings. Reviewed Jan. 24.

Twenty years ago, Sweden’s Lowrider put out what would become a heavy rock landmark in their 2000 debut, Ode to Io (reissue review here). A follow-up years in the making even after the band got back together to play Desertfest in London (review here) and Berlin in 2013, Refractions first saw limited release in 2019 as part of Blues Funeral‘s PostWax series (discussed here), but its proper arrival was in early 2020, and there was really no looking back after that. It wasn’t just the novelty of a new Lowrider album that made Refractions such a joy, but the manner in which the band went about its work. There was no pretending that 20 years didn’t happen. There was no attempt to recapture the bottled lightning that was the first record, and Lowrider did not sound like a band “making a comeback” rife with expectations and fan-service. Refractions acknowledged the legacy of Ode to Io, sure enough, but as a step toward adding to it in meaningful and engaging ways. The songs — “Red River,” “Ode to Ganymede,” “Sernanders Krog,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe,” “Sun Devil/M87” and the 11-minute finale “Pipe Rider” — were fashioned without pretense and came across as the organic output of a band with nothing to prove to anyone but themselves. They made it their own. In a wretched year, Lowrider shined.

The Top 50 Albums of 2020: Honorable Mention

Yeah, okay. There are a lot of these, so buckle in. Last year I just threw out a list of bands. This year I’m a little more organized, so here are bands and records alphabetically.

Across Tundras, LOESS ~ LÖSS
Across Tundras, The Last Days of a Silver Rush
Alain Johannes, Hum
Arboretum, Let it All In
Bell Witch & Aerial Ruin, Stygian Bough Vol. 1
Black Helium, The Wholly Other
Boris, No
Brimstone Coven, The Woes of a Mortal Earth
CB3, Aeons
Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings
Crippled Black Phoenix, Ellengæst
Cruthu, Athrú Crutha
Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2
DOOL, Summerland
Dopelord, Sign of the Devil
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Elder Druid, Golgotha
Ellis Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions
Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou, May Our Chambers Be Full
EMBR, 1823
Familiars, All in Good Time
Forlesen, Hierophant Violent
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
The Heavy Eyes, Love Like Machines
Hum, Inlet
Human Impact, Human Impact
Humulus, The Deep
Jupiterian, Protosapien
Kariti, Covered Mirrors
Khan, Monsoons
Kingnomad, Sagan Om Ryden
King Witch, Body of Light
Kryptograf, Kryptograf
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Lord Buffalo, Tohu Wa Bohu
Lord Loud, Timid Beast
Lotus Thief, Oresteia
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Motorpsycho, The All is One
Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual
Mr. Bison, Seaward
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Mugstar, GRAFT
Murcielago, Casualties
Oranssi Pazuzu, Mestarin Kynsi
Paradise Lost, Obsidian
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls
Psychlona, Venus Skytrip
Puta Volcano, AMMA
Ritual King, Ritual King
River Cult, Chilling Effect
Rrrags, High Protein
Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)
Sigiriya, Maiden – Mother – Crone
Six Organs of Admittance, Companion Rises
16, Dream Squasher
Slomosa, Slomosa
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
Steve Von Till, No Wilderness Deep Enough
Stone Machine Electric, The Inexplicable Vibrations of Frequencies Within the Cosmic Netherworld
Sumac, May You Be Held
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
Temple of Void, The World That Was
The Kings of Frog Island, VI
Tia Carrera, Tried and True
Turtle Skull, Monoliths
Uffe Lorenzen, Magisk Realisme
Ulcerate, Stare Into Death and Be Still
Vessel of Light, Last Ride
Vestal Claret, Vestal Claret
Vinnum Sabbathi, Of Dimensions and Theories
Wight, Spank the World
Wino, Forever Gone
Yatra, All is Lost
Yuri Gagarin, The Outskirts of Reality

By no means is that list exhaustive. And to look at stuff like Psychlona, Oranssi Pazuzu, Wight, Wino, Puta Volcano, Kingnomad, Ellis Munk Ensemble, Paradise Lost, Alain Johannes, Arbouretum, Uffe Lorenzen, Tia Carrera — on and on and on — I can definitely see where arguments are to be made for records that should’ve been in the list proper. I can only go with what feels right to me at the time.

Together with the top 50, this makes over 110 albums in the best of 2020. If you find yourself needing something to hang your hat on, be glad you’re alive to witness this much excellent music coming out.

Debut Album of the Year

Molassess, Through the Hollow

Molassess Through the Hollow

Other notable debuts (alphabetically):

Atramentus, Stygian
Bethmoora, Thresholds
BleakHeart, Dream Griever
Crystal Spiders, Molt
Dirt Woman, The Glass Cliff
Dwaal, Gospel of the Vile
Electric Feat, Electric Feat
Familiars, All in Good Time
Galactic Cross, Galactic Cross
Human Impact, Human Impact
Jointhugger, I Am No One
Light Pillars, Light Pillars
Love Gang, Dead Man’s Game
Malsten, The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
Might, Might
Mindcrawler, Lost Orbiter
Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery
Parahelio, Surge Evelia Surge
Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation
Ritual King, Ritual King
SEA, Impermanence
Slomosa, Slomosa
Soldati, Doom Nacional
Somnus Throne, Somnus Throne
SpellBook, Magick & Mischief
Spirit Mother, Cadets
Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide
The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies
White Dog, White Dog

Notes: I sparred with myself every step of the way here. The last couple years I’ve tried to give the top-debut spot to not just a new band, but a new presence. Green Lung, King Buffalo, etc. Molassess, with members from The Devil’s Blood, Death Alley and Astrosoniq, isn’t exactly that. So what do I do? Do I go with something newer like Polymoon, Dirt Woman, BleakHeart, SEA, White Dog or The Crooked Whispers, or something with more established players like Molassess, Soldati, or even Light Pillars?

In the end, what made the difference was not just how brilliant the songs on Molassess’ Through the Hollow, but how honestly the band confronted the legacy they were up against. The songs had a familiar haunting presence, but they were also moving ahead to somewhere new. It was that blend of old and new ideas, and the resonant feeling of emotional catharsis — as well as the sheer immersion that took place while listening — that ultimately made the decision. Turns out I just couldn’t escape it.

And why not a list? Because this feels woefully inadequate as it is. I reviewed over 250 records this year one way or another — and that’s a conservative estimate — but a lot gets lost in the shuffle and somehow it just seemed wrong this time around to call something the 13th best first record of the year. I wanted to highlight the special achievement that was the Molassess album, but really, all of these records kicked my ass one way or the other.

Short Release of the Year 2020

King Buffalo, Dead Star

King Buffalo Dead Star

Other notable EPs, Splits, Demos, etc.:

Big Scenic Nowhere, Lavender Blues
Coma Wall, Ursa Minor
Conan/Deadsmoke, Doom Sessions Vol. 1
Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1
Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie
Howling Giant/Sergeant Thunderhoof, Masamune/Muramasa (split)
Oginalii, Pendulum
Kings Destroy, Floods
Lament Cityscape, The Old Wet
Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine +2
Merlock, That Which Speaks
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Mos Generator/Di’Aul, Split
Pimmit Hills, Heathens & Prophets
Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus
Rocky Mtn Roller, Rocky Mtn Roller
Spaceslug, Leftovers
10,000 Years, 10,000 Years
The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission
Thunderbird Divine, The Hand of Man
Witchcraft, Black Metal

Notes: If you were wondering why King Buffalo’s Dead Star (review here) wasn’t on the big list, this is why. It was pitched to me as an EP and that’s how I’m classifying it. I’m taking the out. Is it an EP? Not really, but neither is it a full-length album, given its experimental nature and focus around its extended two-part title-track. Whatever it was, it was the best that-thing, and this is the category where such things go.

Again, tough choices after King Buffalo. Thunderbird Divine’s EP was wonderfully funk-blasted and woefully short (new album, please). The newly-issued Spaceslug EP branches out their sound in fascinating ways as a result of the lockdown. Witchcraft’s acoustic EP, Coma Wall’s EP and Big Scenic Nowhere’s EP all signaled good things to come, and Howling Giant’s split with Sergeant Thunderhoof was a highlight of the most recent Quarterly Review. There really isn’t a bummer on the list there, from the bitter psych of Oginalii to the industrial metal of Lament Cityscape, the unadulterated riffery of Merlock to the live-captured rawness of Monte Luna.

So again, why no list? Same answer. I want to highlight the progression King Buffalo made in their sound and leave room open elsewhere for things I missed. Please let me know what in the comments. Cordially.

Live Album of the Year 2020

Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock

yawning man live at giant rock

Other notable live releases:

Ahab, Live Prey
Amenra, Mass VI Live
Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)
Author and Punisher, Live 2020 B.C.
Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse
Dead Meadow, Live at Roadburn 2011
Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble
Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019
Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1
King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley
Monte Luna, Mind Control Broadcast
Orange Goblin, Rough & Ready: Live and Loud
Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019
Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop
SEA, Live at ONCE
Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018
Sun Blood Stories, (a)Live and Alone at Visual Arts Collective
Temple Fang, Live at Merleyn
YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

Notes: In this wretched year (mostly) void of live music, marked by canceled tours and festivals, the live album arguably played a more central role than it ever has, whether it was a band trying to keep momentum up following or leading into a studio release, taking advantage of the emergence of the Bandcamp Friday phenomenon or just trying to maintain some connection to their fans and the process of taking a stage. Or even playing in a room together. Or not a room. Anything. What was once a tossoff, maybe an afterthought companion piece became an essential worker of the listening experience.

You might accuse desert rock progenitors Yawning Man of playing to their base with Live at Giant Rock (featured here), and if so, fine. At no point in the last 50 years has that base more needed playing-to. And in the absence of shows, being able to hear (and watch, in the case of the accompanying video) Yawning Man go out to the landscape that spawned them and engage with their music was a beautiful moment of reconciliation. An exhale for the converted that didn’t fill one with empty promises of better tomorrows or tours to come, but served to remind what’s so worth preserving about the spirit of live music in the first place. The fact that anything can happen. A replaced note here, a tuning change there — these things can make not just an evening, but memories that go beyond shows, tours, to touch our lives.

There were a ton of live records this year. Some were benefits for worthy causes between saving venues, Black Lives Matter, voting rights organizations, and so on. And whether these were new performances from captured livestreams (Monte Luna, Kadavar) or older gigs that had been sitting around waiting for release at some point (Sumac, Dead Meadow), this, very much, was that point, and these live offerings kept burning a fire that felt at times very much in danger of being extinguished.

Looking Ahead to 2021

A list of bands. Some confirmed releases, some not. Here goes:

Dread Sovereign, Sasquatch, Year of Taurus, Apostle of Solitude, Weedpecker, Borracho, Love Gang, Jointhugger, Demon Head, Iron Man, Greenleaf, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Mammathus, Evert Snyman, Wo Fat, Conclave, Here Lies Man, Kabbalah, Komatsu, Hour of 13, Wedge, Amenra, La Chinga, Spidergawd, Wolves in the Throne Room, Vokonis, Freedom Hawk, Masters of Reality, ZOM, Eyehategod, Sanhedrin, Green Lung, The Mountain King, Albatross Overdrive, Elder, King Buffalo, Sunnata, Howling Giant, SAVER, Conan, Slomatics, Ruff Majik, Kind, Mos Generator, Yawning Sons, Lantlôs, Brant Bjork, Spiral Grave, Crystal Spiders, Lightning Born, Samavayo, Wovenhand, Merlock, Comet Control, The Age of Truth, Eight Bells, BlackWater Holylight, DVNE, Monte Luna.

Thank You

You’ve read enough, so I will do my best to keep this mercifully short. Thank you so much for reading — whether you still are or not — and thank you for being a part of the ongoing project that is The Obelisk. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have such incredible support throughout not just this year, but all the years of the site’s existence. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you most of all to The Patient Mrs. for her indulgence in letting me get this done. I’m am amazed forever.

More to come.

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Quarterly Review: Celestial Season, Wren, Sumokem, Oginalii, Völur, Wedge, SpellBook, Old Blood, Jahbulong, Heavy Trip

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

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

The end of the week for the Quarterly Review is a special time, even if this particular QR will continue into next Monday and Tuesday. Also apparently today is Xmas? Okay. Whatever, I’ve got writing to do. I hope you’re safe and not, say, traveling out of state to see family against the urging of the CDC. That would be incredibly irresponsible, etc. etc. that’s what I’m doing. Don’t get me started.

However you celebrate or don’t, be safe. Music will help.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Celestial Season, The Secret Teachings

celestial season the secret teachings

Like many of the original death-doom set, Dutch masters Celestial Season gave up the style during their original run, departing toward heavy rock after 1995’s Solar Lovers. At an hour’s run spread across 13 tracks including ambient guitar and violin/cello interludes, The Secret Teachings has no time for such flighty fare. Reunited with original vocalist Stefan Ruiters and bassist Lucas van Slegtenhorst, the band return in grand fashion for their first full-length in 20 years, and songs like “Long Forlorn Tears” and “Salt of the Earth” conjure all the expert-grade morose plod one could possibly ask, as each side of the 2LP begins with its own intro and sets its own mood, from the almost-hopeful wistfulness of opener/longest track (immediate points) “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” at the start to the birdsong-laced “Beneath the Temple Mount” that leads the way into “A Veil of Silence” and “Red Water” at the finish, the latter a Type O Negative cover that fits well after the crescendo of the song before it.

Celestial Season on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

 

Wren, Groundswells

wren groundswells

The gift Wren make to post-metal is that even in their quietest stretches, they maintain tension. And sure, the Londoners’ second LP, Groundswells — also stylized all-caps: GROUNDSWELLS — has in “Murmur” its “Stones From the Sky” moment as all works of the genre seemingly must, but the six-cut/44-minute follow-up to 2017’s Auburn Rule (discussed here) casts a scope less about pretense or ambition than largesse and heft, and that serves it well, be it in the shorter “Crossed Out Species” or longer pieces like the opener “Chrome” and the penultimate “Subterranean Messiah,” which injects some melodic vocals into the proceedings and airy string-inclusive prog amid all the surrounding crush. All well and good, but it’s hard to deny the sheer assault of the doomed apex in closer “The Throes,” and you’ll pardon me if I don’t try. Ambience through volume, catharsis through volume, volume all things.

Wren on Thee Facebooks

Gizeh Records website

 

Sumokem, Prajnaparadha

sumokem prajnaparadha

With strength of performance to fall back on and progressive realization in their songwriting, Little Rock, Arkansas’ Sumokem would seem to come of age on their third long-player, Prajnaparadha, answering the flourish of 2017’s The Guardian of Yosemite (discussed here) with an even more confident stylistic sprawl and an abiding patience that extends even to the album’s most intense moments. Not at all a minor undertaking in dynamic or its run of five long songs following the intro “Prologue,” Prajnaparadha manages not to be dizzying mostly because of the grace with which it’s crafted, tied together by ace guitar work and a propensity for soaring in order to complement and sometimes willfully contrast the tonal weight. When the growls show up in “Fakir” and carry into “Khizer,” Sumokem seem to push the record to its final level, and making that journey with them is richly satisfying.

Sumokem on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Oginalii, Pendulum

Oginalii Pendulum

Psychedelia comes poison-tipped with brooding post-grunge atmospheres as Oginalii‘s Pendulum swings this way and that between “Scapegoat” and “Black Hole” and “Pillars” and “Veils” across its too short 24 minutes. The Nashvillainous four-piece explore an inner darkness perfect for these long months of forced-introspection, and though calling something pandemic-appropriate has become a tired compliment to give, the underlying rhythmic restlessness of “Scapegoat” and the crying out overtop, the fuzzy burst of “Veils” and the interweaving drums and guitar noise behind the recited semi-sung poetry of “Pillars” serve the soundtrack cause nonetheless, to say nothing of the two-minute minimalist echoing stretch of “Black Hole” or the oh-okay-it’s-indie-post-rock-but-oh-wait-what-the-hell-now-it’s-furious closer “Stripped the Screw.” Anger suits Oginalii as it comes through here, not in tired chestbeating but in spacious craft that manages to sound intense even in its languid reach. Pretty fucking cool, if you ask me.

Oginalii on Thee Facebooks

Devil in the Woods on Bandcamp

 

Völur, Death Cult

Völur death cult

Toronto’s Völur offer their third album, Death Cult, in cooperation with Prophecy Productions, and it comes in four string-laced tracks that waste little time in pushing genre limits, bringing folk influences in among doom, blackened metallurgy and more ethereal touches. Arrangements of violin, viola, cello, double-bass, keys, and the shared vocals of Laura Bates and Lucas Gadke (the latter also of Blood Ceremony) give a suitably arthouse feel to the proceedings rounded out by the drums and percussion of Justin Ruppel, and it’s far from unearned as the four songs play out across 37 minutes, “Dead Moon” veering into lumbering death-doom in its apex ahead of the jazz-into-choral-into-drone-into-freer-jazz-into-progressive-black-metal of the 11-minute “Freyjan Death Cult,” subsequent closer “Reverend Queen” leaving behind the chaos in its last few minutes for an epilogue of mournful strings and drums; a dirge both unrepentantly beautiful and still in keeping with the atmospheric weight throughout. Bands like this — rare — make other bands better.

Volur on Thee Facebooks

Volur at Prophecy Productions

 

Wedge, Like No Tomorrow

wedge like no tomorrow

Bursting with enough energy to make one miss live music, Wedge‘s third album, Like No Tomorrow, transcends vintage-ism in its production if not its overall mindset, bringing clarity to Deep Purple organ-tics on opener “Computer” while keeping the lyrics purposefully modern. Bass leads the way in “Playing a Role” and the spirit is boogie fuzz until the jam hits and, yeah, they make it easy to go along for the ride. “Blood Red Wine” has arena-rock melody down pat while centerpiece and likely side A closer “Across the Water” at last lets itself go to that place, following the guitar until the surge that brings in “Queen of the Night” indulges purer proto-metal impulses, still accomplished in its harmonized chorus amid the charge. Is that the guitar solo in “U’n’I” panning left to right I hear? I certainly hope so. The shortest cut on Like No Tomorrow feels like it’s in a hurry to leave behind a verse, and sets up the surprisingly modestly paced “At the Speed of Life,” which is lent a cinematic feel by the organ and layered choral vocals that bolsters yet another strong hook, while the nine-minute “Soldier” is bluesier but still sounds like it could be the live incarnation of any of these tracks depending on where a given jam takes Wedge on any given night. Here’s hoping, anyhow.

Wedge on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

SpellBook, Magick and Mischief

SpellBook Magick and Mischief

About a year and a half after issuing Otherworldly (review here), their third album under the moniker Witch Hazel, the dukes of York, PA, are back with a new name and a refreshed sound. As SpellBook, vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn push through two vinyl sides of classic heavy f’n metal, less concerned with doom than they were but still saving a bit of roll for the longer centerpiece “Not Long for This World” and the airy, dramatic closer “Dead Detectives.” Elsewhere, “Black Shadow” brings a horns-at-the-ready chorus, “Motorcade” reminds that the power of Judas Priest was always in the basslines (that’s right, I said it), and “Ominous Skies” brims with the vitality of the new band that SpellBook are, even as it benefits from the confidence born of these players’ prior experience together.

SpellBook on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Old Blood, Acid Doom

old blood acid doom

Kudos to L.A.’s Old Blood for at least making the classification part easy when it comes to their debut album, conveniently titled Acid Doom, though that category hardly accounts for, say, the piano stretch of second cut “Bridge to Nowhere,” or the heavy rock theatricality in “Heavy Water” or the horn sounds of “Slothgod” a few songs later, but I suppose one has to start somewhere, and ‘acid doom’ is fair enough when it comes to accounting for the sleekery in the vocals of Lynx, the weight of the riffs of C. Gunner, the roll of bassist Octopus and drummer Diesel and the classic-style organ work of J.F. Stone. But if Old Blood want to unfurl something deceptively complex and stylistically intricate on their debut, that’s certainly cool as far as I’m concerned. Production is a strong presence throughout in a way that pulls a bit from what the impact of the songs might be on stage (remember stages?), but the songwriting is there, and Lynx‘s voice is a noteworthy presence of its own. I’m not sure where they’ll end up sound-wise, but at the same time, Acid Doom comes across like nothing else in the batch of 70 records I’m doing for this Quarterly Review, and that in itself I find admirable.

Old Blood on Thee Facebooks

Metal Assault Records on Bandcamp

DHU Records webstore

 

Jahbulong, Eclectic Poison Tones

JAHBULONG ECLECTIC POISON TONES

Just because you know the big riff is going to kick in about a minute into opening track “Under the Influence of the Fool” on Jahbulong‘s tarot-inflected stoner doom four-songer Eclectic Poison Tones doesn’t make it any less satisfying when it happens. The deep-rolling three-piece from Verona make their full-length debut with the 45-minute offering through Go Down Records, and the lurching continues in “The Tower of the Broken Bones” and “The Eclipse of the Empress,” which is the only cut under 10 minutes long but still keeps the slow-motion Sabbath rolling into the 15-minute closer “The Eremite Tired Out (Sweed Dreams)” (sic), which plays off some loud/quiet changes fluidly without interrupting the nod that’s so central to the entirety of the album. Look. These guys know the gods they’re worshiping — Sleep, Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard maybe, etc. — and they’re not trying to get away with saying they invented any of this. If you can’t get down with 45 minutes of slower-than-slow grooves, maybe you’re in the wrong microgenre. For me, it’s the lack of pretense that makes it.

Jahbulong on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Heavy Trip, Heavy Trip

heavy trip heavy trip

Heavy Trip. Four songs. Two sides. Three dudes. Instrumental. Accurately named. Yeah, you’ve heard this story before, but screw it. They start out nice and spacious on “Hand of Shroom” and they finish with high-speed boogie in the 13-minute “Treespinner,” and all in between Heavy Trip make it nothing less than a joy to go along wherever it is they’re headed. The Vancouver three-piece make earlier Earthless something of an elephant in the room as regards influences, but the unhurried groove in second cut “Lunar Throne” is a distinguishing factor, and even as “Mind Leaf” incorporates a bit more shove, it does so with enough righteousness to carry through. As a debut, Heavy Trip‘s Heavy Trip might come across more San Diego than Vancouver, but screw it. Dudes got jams like Xmas hams, and the chemistry they bring in holding listener attention with tempo changes throughout here speaks to a progressive edge burgeoning in their sound.

Heavy Trip on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records on Bandcamp

 

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