Quarterly Review: Sunn O))), Crypt Sermon, The Neptune Power Federation, Chron Goblin, Ethereal Riffian, Parasol Caravan, Golden Core, Black Smoke Omega, Liquid Orbit, Sun Below

Posted in Reviews on January 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Hey all, we made it to the final day of the Winter 2020 Quarterly Review, so congrats to ‘us’ and by us I mean myself and anyone still reading, which is probably about two or three people. On my end today is completely manic in terms of real-life, offline logistics — much to do — but no way I’m letting one last batch of 10 reviews fall by the wayside, so rest assured, by the time this goes live, it’ll be complete, even though I’ve had to swap things out as some stuff has been locked into other coverage since I first slated it. Plenty around waiting to be written up. Perpetually, it would seem.

But before we dive in, thank you for reading if you’ve caught any part of this QR. I hope your 2020 is off to an excellent start and that finding new music to love is as much a part of your next 12 months as it can possibly be.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sunn O))), Pyroclasts

sunn o pyroclasts

The narrative — because of course there’s a narrative; blessings and peace upon it — is that drone-metal progenitors Sunn O))), while in the studio recording earlier-2019’s Life Metal (review here) with Steve Albini, began each day doing a 12-minute improvised modal drone working in a different scale. They used a stopwatch to keep time. Thus the four tracks of Pyroclasts were born. They all hover around 11 minutes after editing, which settles neatly onto two vinyl sides, and it’s the rawer vision of Sunn O))), with just Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley‘s guitars, rather than some of the more elaborate arrangements which they’ve been known to undertake. That they’d put out two studio records in the same year is striking considering it had been four years since 2015’s Kannon (review here), but I think the truth of the matter is they had these tapes and decided they were worth preserving with a popular release. I wouldn’t say they were wrong, and the immersion here is a good reminder of the core appeal of Sunn O)))‘s conjured depths.

Sunn O))) on Bandcamp

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Crypt Sermon, The Ruins of Fading Light

Crypt Sermon The Ruins of Fading Light

Traditional doom rarely sounds as vital as it does in the hands of Crypt Sermon. The Philly five-piece return with The Ruins of Fading Light on Dark Descent Records as an awaited follow-up to 2015’s Out of the Garden (review here) and thereby bring forth classic metal with all the urgency of thrash and the poise of the NWOBHM. Frontman Brooks Wilson — also responsible for the album art — is in command here and with the firm backing of bassist Frank Chin and drummer Enrique Sagarnaga, guitarists Steve Jannson and James Lipczynski offer sharpened-axe riffs and solo scorch offset by passages of keyboard for an all the more epic vibe. The rolling “Christ is Dead” is pure Candlemass, but the galloping “The Snake Handler” might be the highlight of the 10-track/55-minute run, though that’s not to take away either from the Dehumanizer chug of “Key of Solomon” or the melodic reach of the closing title-track either. Take your pick, really. It’s all metal as fuck and glorious for that. If they don’t sell denim jackets, they should.

Crypt Sermon on Thee Facebooks

Dark Descent Records on Bandcamp

 

The Neptune Power Federation, Memoirs of a Rat Queen

the neptune power federation memoirs of a rat queen

“Can you dig what the Imperial Priestess is laying down?” is the central question of Memoirs of a Rat Queen, the first album from Sydney, Australia’s The Neptune Power Federation to be released through Cruz Del Sur Music, and it arrives over an ELO “Don’t Bring Me Down”-style arena rock beat on leadoff “Can You Dig?” as an intro to the rest of the LP. Strange, epic, progressive, traditional, heavy and cascading rock and roll follows, as intricate as it is immediately catchy, and whether it’s “Watch Our Masters Bleed” or “I’ll Make a Man out of You,” the Imperial Priestess Screaming Loz Sutch and company make it easy to answer in the affirmative. Arrangements are willfully over the top as “Bound for Hell” and “The Reaper Comes for Thee” engage a heavy rocker take on heavy metal’s legacy, maddened laughter and all in the latter track, which closes, and the affect on the listener is nothing less than an absolute blast — a reminder of the empowering sound of early metal on a disaffected generation in the late ’70s and early ’80s and how that same fist-pump-against-the-world has become timeless. No doubt the costumes and all that make The Neptune Power Federation striking live, but as Memoirs of a Rat Queen readily steps forward to prove, the songs are there as well.

The Neptune Power Federation on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music on Bandcamp

 

Chron Goblin, Here Before

chron goblin here before

Have Chron Goblin been here before? The title of their album speaks to a kind of creepy deja vu feeling, and that’s emblematic of the Canadian band’s move away from the party rock of their past offerings, their last LP having been Backwater (review here) 2015. Fortunately, while they seek out some new aesthetic ground, the 11 tracks of Here Before do maintain Chron Goblin‘s penchant for straight-ahead songcraft and unpretentious execution — and frankly, that wasn’t at all broken. Neither, perhaps was the let’s-get-drunk-and-bounce-around spirit of their prior work, but they sound more mature in a song like the six-minute “Ghost” and “Slipping Under” (premiered here) successfully melds the shift in presentation with the energy of their prior output. Maybe it’s still a party but we watch horror movies? I don’t know. They’ve still got “Giving in to Fun” early in the tracklisting — worth noting it follows the swaying “Oblivion” — so maybe I’m misreading the whole thing, or maybe it’s more complex than being entirely one thing or the other might allow for. Perish the thought. Either way, can’t mess with the songs.

Chron Goblin on Thee Facebooks

Chron Goblin on Bandcamp

 

Ethereal Riffian, Legends

ethereal riffian legends

Ukrainian heavy rockers Ethereal Riffian make a pointed sonic shift with their Legends album (on Robustfellow), keeping some of the grunge spirit in their melodies as the eight-minute “Moonflower” and closer “Ethereal Path” show, but in songs like “Unconquerable” and the early salvo of “Born Again,” “Dreamgazer” and “Legends” and even the second half of “Kosmic” and “Pain to Wisdom,” they let loose from some of the more meditative aspects of their past work with a fiery drive and a theme of enlightenment through political and social change. A kind of great awakening of the self. There’s still plenty of “ethereal” to go with all that “riffian” in the intro “Sage’s Alchemy,” or the first half of “Kosmic” or the CD bonus “Yeti’s Hide,” but no question the balance has tipped toward the straightforward, and the idea seems to be that the electrified feel is as much a part of the message as the message itself. The only trouble is that since putting Legends out, Ethereal Riffian called it quits to refocus their energies elsewhere in the universe. Are they really done? I’m skeptical, but if so, then at least they went out trying new things, which always seemed to be a specialty, and on a note of directly positive attitude.

Ethereal Riffian on Thee Facebooks

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

 

Parasol Caravan, Nemesis

parasol caravan nemesis

A second long-player behind 2015’s Para Solem, the eight-song/35-minute Nemesis is not only made for vinyl, but it’s made for rockers. Specifically, heavy rockers. And it’s heavy rock, for heavy rockers. Based in Linz, Austria, the double-guitar four-piece Parasol Caravan have their sound and style on lockdown, and their work, while not really keeping any secrets in terms of where it’s coming from in its ’70s-via-’90s modern take, is brought to bear with a clarity that seems particularly derived from the European heavy rock tradition. Para Solem was longer and somewhat fuzzier in tone, but the stripped down approach of the title-track at the outset and its side B counterpart, “Serpent of Time” still unfold to a swath of ground covered, whether it’s in the subdued instrumental “Acceptance” or “Transition,” which follows the driving “Blackstar” and closes the LP with a bit of a progressive metal edge. Even that has its hook, though, and that’s ultimately the point.

Parasol Caravan on Thee Facebooks

Parasol Caravan on Bandcamp

 

Golden Core, Fimbultýr

golden core fimbultyr

The title Fimbultýr translates to “mighty god” and is listed among the alternative names of Odin, which would seem to be who Oslo’s Golden Core have in mind in the leadoff title-track of their second album. Issued through Fysisk Format, it is not necessarily what one thinks of as “Viking metal” in the post-Amon Amarth or post-Enslaved context, but instead, the eight-song collection unfolds a biting modern sludge taking an edge of the earlier Mastodon lumber and bringing it to harshly-vocalized rollout. The 11-minute “Runatal” and only-seconds-shorter “Buslubben” are respective vocal points around which sides A and B of the release center, and each finds a way to give like emphasis to atmosphere and extremity, to stretch as well as pummel, and much to Golden Core‘s credit, they seem not only aware of the changes they’re presenting in their material, but in control of how and when they’re executed. The resulting linear flow of Fimbultýr, given the shifts within, isn’t to be understated as a victory on the part of the band.

Golden Core on Thee Facebooks

Fysisk Format on Bandcamp

 

Black Smoke Omega, Harbinger

Black Smoke Omega Harbinger

Harbinger may well be just that — a sign of things to come. The debut offering from Black Smoke Omega wraps progressive death-doom and gothic piano-led atmospherics around a thematic drawing from science-fiction, and while I’m not certain of the narrative being told by the Dortmund, Germany-based band, their method for telling it is fascinating. It’s not entirely seamless in its shifts, and it doesn’t seem like the band — seemingly spearheaded by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Jack Nier, though Ashley James (The Antiquity) plays guitar on “A Man without a Heart” and Michael Tjanaka brings synth/piano to “Kainé” — want it to be, but there’s no denying that by the time “Falling Awake” seems to provide some melodic resolution to the often-slow-motion tumult prior, it’s doing so by bringing the different sides together. It’s a significant journey from the raw, barking shouts on “The Black Scrawl” and the lurching-into-chug-into-lurch of “The Man without a Heart” to get there, however. But this, too, seems to be on purpose. How it all might shake out feels like a question for the next release, but Black Smoke Omega seem poised here to leave heads spinning.

Black Smoke Omega on Thee Facebooks

Black Smoke Omega on Bandcamp

 

Liquid Orbit, Game of Promises

Liquid Orbit Game of Promises

While on the surface, Liquid Orbit might be on familiar enough ground with Game of Promises for anyone who has encountered the swath of up-and-comers working in the wake of Blues Pills, the Bremen, Germany, five-piece distinguish themselves through not just the keyboard work of Anders alongside Andree‘s guitar, Ralf‘s bass, Steve‘s drums and Sylvia‘s vocals, but also the shifts between funk, boogie, and edges of doom that play out in songs like “Shared Pain” and “Please Let Her Go,” as well as the title-track, which starts side B of the Nasoni Records-issued vinyl with a highlight guitar solo and an insistent snare tap beneath that works to bring movement to what’s still one of Game of Promises‘ shorter tracks at six and a half minutes, as opposed to the earlier eight-minute-toppers on side A or the psych-prog finale “Verlorene Karawane,” which translates in English to “lost caravan” and indeed basks in some Mideastern vibe and backward-effects vocal swirl. Bottom line, if you go into it thinking you know everything you’re getting, you’re probably selling it short.

Liquid Orbit on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

Sun Below, Black Volume III

Sun Below Black Volume III

As the title hints, the name-your-price Black Volume III is the third EP release from Toronto’s Sun Below. All three have been issued over roughly a year’s span, and the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Jason Craig, drummer/backing vocalist Will Adams, bassist/backing vocalist Garrison Thordarson — who as far as I’m concerned wins this entire Quarterly Review when it comes to names; that’s an awesome name — and two have featured covers. On their debut, they took on “Dragonaut” by Sleep, and on Black Volume III, in following up the 12-minute nod-roller “Solar Burnout,” they thicken and further stonerize the catchy jaunt that is “Wires” by Red Fang. They’ve got, in other words, good taste. Black Volume III opens with “Green Visions” and thereby takes some righteous fart-fuzz for a walk both that and “Solar Burnout” show plenty of resi(n)dual Sleep influence, but honestly, it’s a self-releasing band with three dudes who sound like they’re having a really good time figuring out where they want to be in terms of sound after about a year from their first release, and if you ask anything else of Black Volume III than what it gives, you’re obviously lacking in context. Which is to say you’re fucking up. Don’t fuck up. Dig riffs instead.

Sun Below on Thee Facebooks

Sun Below on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: We Lost the Sea, Nebula Drag, Nothing is Real, Lotus Thief, Uncle Woe, Cybernetic Witch Cult, Your Highness, Deep Valley Blues, Sky Shadow Obelisk, Minus Green

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Yesterday was marked by a decisive lack of productivity. I got there, don’t get me wrong, but it took friggin’ forever to make it happen. I’m obviously hoping for a different result today and tomorrow. You would think 10 records is 10 records, but some days it’s easy flowing, bounce from one to the next without any trouble, and some days you’re me sitting there wondering how many times you can get away with using the word “style” in the same post. Punishing. The saving factor was that the music was good. Amazing how often that serves as the saving factor.

Just today and tomorrow left, so let’s dive in. Lots of different kinds of releases today, so keep your ears and mind open.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

We Lost the Sea, Triumph and Disaster

we lost the sea triumph and disaster

There is plenty of heavy post-rock floating — and I do mean floating — around these days, spreading ethereal and contemplative vibes hither and yon, but none have the emotional weight brought to bear instrumentally by Sydney, Australia’s We Lost the Sea. Across their 65-minute 2LP, Triumph and Disaster (on Translation Loss), the six-piece band recount a wordless narrative of the aftermath of the end of the world through the eyes of a mother and child on their last day. It is a touching and beautiful flow of sentiment, regret and weight that comes through the wash of three guitars and synth, bass and drums, and though 2015’s Departure Songs (review here, discussed here) worked in a similar vein in terms of style if not story, these seven tracks and 65 minutes are wholly distinguished by a willful-seeming progression on the part of the band and a patience and poise of execution as they alternate between longer and shorter pieces that only underscores how special their work truly is. At least the apocalypse is gorgeous.

We Lost the Sea on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss store

 

Nebula Drag, Blud

nebula drag blud

Nothing against the progenitors of the form, but Nebula Drag seem with Blud to pull off the feat that Helmet never really could, bringing together a noise-rock derived dissonance of riff with a current of melody in the vocals and even moments of patience in the guitar to go along with the crunch of its more aggressive points. This inherently makes the Desert Records offering from the San Diego outfit a less outwardly intense affair than it might otherwise be, but songs like “Always Dying,” “Numb” and the closer “Mental” — as well as the album as a whole — are ultimately richer for it, and there’s still plenty of drive in opener “Dos Lados” and the shorter “Faces” and “What Went Wrong,” which arrive back to back on side B and lend the momentum that carries Nebula Drag through the remainder of the proceedings. It’s easy to hear to Blud superficially and pass it off as noise or heavy rock or this or that, but Nebula Drag earn and reward deeper listens in kind.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Desert Records on Bandcamp

 

Nothing is Real, Pain is Joy

nothing is real pain is joy

Los Angeles oppressive and misanthropic noise project Nothing is Real manifested some of the harshest sounds I heard in 2019 on Only the Wicked are Pure (review here), and the just-months-later follow-up, Pain is Joy, reminds of the constant sensory assault under which we all seem to live. Across five extended tracks of increased production value — still raw, just not as raw — the band seems to be forming a coherent philosophical perspective in “Existence is Pain,” the guest-vocalized “Realms of Madness,” “Life is but a Dream,” “Pain is Joy,” and “We Must Break Free,” but if there’s a will to explain the punishment that is living, there’s not much by way of answer forthcoming in the sludgy riffing, grinding onslaught and surprising solo soar of “We Must Break Free,” instrumental as it is. Still, the fact that Pain is Joy allows for the possibility of joy to exist at all, in any form, ever, distinguishes it from its predecessor, and likewise the clearer sound and cogent expressive purpose. A focused attack suits Nothing is Real. I have the feeling it won’t be long before we find out where it takes the band next.

Nothing is Real on Thee Facebooks

Nothing is Real on Bandcamp

 

Lotus Thief, Oresteia

lotus thief Oresteia

If the name Oresteia isn’t immediately familiar, maybe “Agamemnon” will give some hint. San Francisco’s Lotus Thief, with their third full-length and second for Prophecy Productions, not only bring together progressive black metal, post-rock and drama-laced doom, but do so across eight-tracks and 38 minutes summarizing a 5th century Greek tragedy written in three parts. Ambitious? Yes. Successful? I’ll claim zero familiarity with the text itself, but for the eight-minute “Libation Bearers” alone — never mind any of the other immersive, beautiful wash the band emits throughout — I’m sure glad they’re engaging with it. Ambient stretches like “Banishment” and “Woe” and the barely-there “Reverence” add further character to the proceedings, but neither are “The Furies,” “Agamemnon,” “Sister in Silence” or subdued-but-tense closer “The Kindly Ones” lacking for atmosphere. Oresteia is grim, theatrical, stylistically forward-thinking and gorgeous. A perfect, perfect, perfect winter record.

Lotus Thief website

Prophecy Productions on Bandcamp

 

Uncle Woe, Our Unworn Limbs

Uncle Woe Our Unworn Limbs

Chugging, sprawling, and most of all reaching, the late-2019 debut LP, Our Unworn Limbs, from Ontario as-yet-solo-outfit Uncle Woe — composed, performed and recorded by Rain Fice — is one of marked promise, taking elements of modern progressive and cosmic doom from the likes of YOB‘s subtly angular riffing style and unfolding them across an emotionally resonant but still manageable 43-minute span. The stomp in “That’s How They Get You” is duly oppressive in following the opener “Son of the Queen,” but with the one-minute experiment “When the Night Fell Pt. 2” and jagged but harmonized “Mania for Breaking” ahead of 15-minute closer “Push the Blood Back In,” the record’s tumult and triumphs are presented with character and a welcome feeling of exploration. I would expect over time that the melodic basis and vocal presence Fice demonstrates in “Mania for Breaking” will continue to grow, but both are already significant factors in the success of that song and the album surrounding it, the first 20-plus minutes of which is spent mired in “Son of the Queen” and “That’s How They Get You,” as early proof of the sure controlling hand at the helm of the project. May it continue to be so.

Uncle Woe on Thee Facebooks

Uncle Woe on Bandcamp

 

Cybernetic Witch Cult, Absurdum ad Nauseam

cybernetic witch cult absurdam ad nauseam

Guitarist/vocalist Alex Wyld, bassist Doug MacKinnon and drummer Lewis May have processed the world around them and translated it into a riffy course of sci-fi and weirdo semi-prog thematics across Absurdum ad Nauseam. What else to call such a thing? At eight songs and 52 minutes, it stands astride the lines between heavy rock and doom and sludge in lengthier pieces like “The Cetacean,” “The Ivory Tower” and the finale “Hypercomputer Part 2,” yet when it comes to picking out discernible influences, one has to result to generalizations like Black Sabbath and Acrimony, the latter in the rolling largesse of “Spice” and “The Myth of Sisyphus” later on in the outing and the vocal effects there particularly, but neither is enough to give a sense of what Cybernetic Witch Cult are actually about in terms of the modernity of their approach and the it’s-okay-we-know-what-we’re-doing-just-trust-us vibe they bring as they rush through “Cromagnonaut” after the intro and “Hypercomputer Part 1.” I’m inclined to just go with it, which should tell you something in itself about the band’s ability to carry their listener through. They earn that trust.

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Thee Facebooks

Cybernetic Witch Cult on Bandcamp

 

Your Highness, Your Highness

Your Highness Your Highness

Heavy blues meets heavy metal on Your Highness‘ self-titled and self-released third album, collecting eight tracks that divide evenly across two sides of an LP, each half ending with a longer piece, whether it’s “Black Fever” (9:00) on side A or “Kin’s Blood” (14:14) on side B. Through these, in full-throttle movements like opener “Devil’s Delight” and “Rope as a Gift” and in nestled-in groovers like “The Flood” and “To Wood and Stone,” Your Highness don’t shy away from bringing a sense of atmosphere to their material, but maintain a focus on burl, gruffness and tonal weight, an aggressive undercurrent in a song like “Born Anew” — the riff to which is nonetheless particularly bluesy — being emblematic of the perspective on display throughout. It moves too fleetly to ever be considered entirely sludge, but Your Highness‘ 51-minute span is prone to confrontation just the same, and its ferocious aspects come to a head in satisfying fashion as the wash of crash pays off “Kin’s Blood,” shouts cutting through en route to a finish of acoustic guitar that lands as a reminder to release the breath you’ve been holding the whole time. Heavy stuff? Why yes, it is.

Your Highness on Thee Facebooks

Your Highness on Bandcamp

 

Deep Valley Blues, Demonic Sunset

Deep Valley Blues Demonic Sunset

Italy’s fervor for stoner rock is alive and well as represented in Demonic Sunset, the eight-song/34-minute debut full-length from Catanzaro’s Deep Valley Blues. Their sound works out to be more heavy rock than the desert one might imagine given the album cover, but that influence is still there, if beefed up tonally by guitarists Alessandro Morrone and Umberto Arena (the latter also backing vocals), bassist/vocalist Giando Sestito and drummer Giorgio Faini, whose fluid turns between propulsion and swing enable a song like “Dana Skully” to come together in its verse/chorus transitions. The penultimate nine-minute “Tired to Beg For” is an outlier among more straight-ahead songwriting, but they use the time well and close with the acoustic-led “Empire,” an encouraging showcase of sonic breadth to follow up on the start of “Lust Vegas” and a widening of the melodic range that one hopes Deep Valley Blues push further on subsequent releases. Centered around issues of mental health in terms of its lyrics, if somewhat vaguely, Demonic Sunset is a first LP that extends its focus to multiple levels while still keeping its feet on the ground in a way that will be familiar to experienced genre heads.

Deep Valley Blues on Thee Facebooks

Deep Valley Blues on Bandcamp

 

Sky Shadow Obelisk, The Satyr’s Path

sky shadow obelisk the satyrs path

You can toss a coin as to whether Sky Shadow Obelisk are death-doom or doom-death, but as you do, just keep an eye on the bludgeoning doled out by the solo-project of Rhode Island-based composer Peter Scartabello on his latest EP, The Satyr’s Path, because it is equal parts thorough and ferocious. Flourish of keys and melody adds a progressive edge to the proceedings across the five-track release, particularly in its two instrumentals, the centerpiece “Ouroboros” and the first half of closer “Shadow of Spring,” but amid the harnessed madness of “Chain of Hephaestus” — which from its lyrics I can only think of as a work song — and the one-two of “The Serpent’s Egg” and the title-track early on, those moments of letup carry a tension of mood that even the grand finish in “Shadow of Spring” seems to acknowledge. It’s been since 2015 that Scartabello last offered up a Sky Shadow Obelisk full-length. He shows enough scope here to cover an album’s worth of ground, but on the most basic level, I’d take more if it was on offer.

Sky Shadow Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

Yuggoth Records on Bandcamp

 

Minus Green, Equals Zero

Minus Green Equals Zero

Following up on a 2015 self-titled the material on Minus Green‘s sophomore album, Equals Zero, would seem to have at least in part been kicking around for a couple years, as the closer here, “Durial” (11:22) was released in a single version in 2016. Fair enough. If the other three cuts, opener “Primal” (9:58), “00” (11:51) and the penultimate “Kames” (10:08), have also been developed over that span, the extra rumination wouldn’t seem to have harmed them at all — they neither feel overthought to a point of staleness nor lack anything in terms of the natural vibe that their style of progressive instrumentalist heavy psychedelia warrants. The procession unfolds as a cleanly-structured LP with two songs per side arranged shorter-into-longer, and their sound is duly immersive to give an impression of exploration underway without being entirely jam-based in their structure. That is, listening to “00,” one gets the feeling it’s headed somewhere, which, fortunately it is. Where it and the record surrounding go ultimately isn’t revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but it is well performed and more than suitable for repeat visits. Contrary to the impression they might seek to give, it amounts to more than nothing.

Minus Green on Thee Facebooks

Kerberos Records website

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fuzzed and Buzzed Records Presents The Powder Box Triple-7″ Box Set

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Think of it like a split. If it was a split LP, you’d have three bands splitting a 12-inch platter or something like that, and it would be business as usual. Everyone would agree to art and cover some portion of the costs, the label would get behind it and blamo, the magic happens. Fuzzed and Buzzed Records out of Toronto has made the idea a little more complicated. The forthcoming The Powder Box — available direct from them in Canada, through DHU Records in Europe or the All That is Heavy store in the States — brings together Head, Cherry Hooker and Darlene Shrugg under an appropriately glam-style roof, with three separate seven-inchers all snuggled up together in a box set.

This is the second time the label has done this, arriving behind The Altar Box, which has long since sold out. I’d expect much the same with this round, despite the shift in aesthetic. In any case, kudos to the label for changing it up, and continuing its mission of highlighting their regional underground. That’s how you make shit happen. They obviously believe in it, and there’s very little better than that to sell something as far as I’m concerned.

They’ve posted a lot about it, here’s a bit of it:

va the powder box

THE POWDER BOX (2019)

HEY ROCKERS!!!!

OUR EUROPEAN HOMIES OVER @dhu_records ONLY HAVE 6 COPIES LEFT AND THAT’S IT!!!!

BOOGIE ON OVER AND SCORE ONE OF THE LAST POWDER BOXES FEATURING TORONTO ROCKERS @headrnr @cherryhooker @darleneshrugg

IF YOU’RE IN CANADA OR THE STATES, HIT UP @allthatisheavy OR YOURS TRULY @fuzzedandbuzzed!!

STAY BUZZED!!! @fuzzedandbuzzed FEST STARTS THIS THURSDAY NOV 28th 10pm @swandiveto!! NOV 29th IS THE HAMILTON RELEASE PARTY @doorspubhamilton AND THE FOLLOWING DAY, NOV 30th WE HAVE THE FINAL PARTY AT LEGENDARY @bovinesexclub

COME PARTY, BRING SOME FRIENDS OR MAKE NEW ONES!!!!!!!

3 Record Box (45″ Vinyl)

HEAD
A: Shudder
B: Journey to the Center of the Mind

CHERRY HOOKER
A: City Sidewalkin’
B: Machine

DARLENE SHRUGG
A: Reptile Radio
B: Some Weird Sin

https://fuzzedandbuzzed.myshopify.com/
https://www.instagram.com/fuzzedandbuzzed/
https://www.facebook.com/Fuzzedandbuzzed-631019733954614/

Head, “Shudder”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Vision Eternel Finish Basic Tracks for New Release For Farewell of Nostalgia

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I think it’s fitting for a style that is so cinematic as that of Montreal one-man melancholic drone outfit Vision Eternel — formerly Vision Éternel, with the accent on the ‘e’ — haven’t just completed the recording process, they’ve “finished principal production.” Now comes ‘post,’ I guess, which I assume will not involve a CGI version of The Hulk. I like it. The session newly completed seems to have been a somewhat arduous task, with a first round scrapped and then the album, titled For Farewell of Nostalgia, and put together again from the ground up. That’s a hard decision to make practically in terms of the sheer time already put in on making the thing, as well as creatively in terms of hey I just made this thing do I really want to abandon it. One more reason I dig this project.

The progress update is below. Some overdubs, mixing, mastering and whatnot and then it’s ready to go. Vision Eternel is looking for a label to call home, but I’d expect the record out in 2020, whatever way band founder Alexandre Julien ends up going with it.

The news:

vision eternel

Principal Production Has Been Completed On Vision Eternel’s For Farewell Of Nostalgia

Principal production has been completed on Vision Eternel’s upcoming release For Farewell Of Nostalgia!

After abandoning the recording session for the same release in 2018, Vision Eternel spent the entirety of October and the first half of November of 2019 re-tracking the album at Mortified Studios. A first mix has been completed and received positive feedback at a private listening session. Only a few things remain on the checklist: minor overdubs, final mixing and sequencing & mastering for the various physical and digital formats.

Each format of the release will feature a different edit and sequencing. As a concept album, it follows a complex story-line, with certain chapters that can be extended, transposed, or omitted, suiting a better listening experience to each medium. Each format will also showcase a different artwork.

Those who have heard some of the pre-production recordings that were released in 2018-2019 (Moments Of Intimacy, Moments Of Intimacy (Reprise), Moments Of Absence and Killer Of Giants) will be very surprised to hear how much better, more emotional and moving the songs have turned out after re-recording them.

More announcements will be published in the coming months as record label album-releasing deals are secured, and teasers will be posted on social media. So be sure to like and follow Vision Eternel on your platform of choice.

https://www.visioneternel.com
https://facebook.com/visioneternel
https://instagram.com/visioneternel
https://soundcloud.com/visioneternel
https://play.spotify.com/artist/52WyoEAtuPS2QJ2qYOmb6u
https://visioneternel.bandcamp.com

Vision Éternel, Sixth EP Teaser

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Electric Highway Announces Inaugural Lineup with Wo Fat, Sasquatch, Nebula & More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

A little bit of Cali, a little bit of Texas, a little bit of Portland, Oregon, and a whole lot of locals — the first lineup for The Electric Highway has been unveiled and the Calgary-based festival’s mission would seem to be directed toward kickass heavy and stoner rock. Thus, Sasquatch and Wo Fat headlining with Nebula and Duel also on board. And hey man, if you threw any kind of heavy rock and roll party in the entire nation of Canada — and Canada if frickin’ huge — and you didn’t at least invite La Chinga let alone actually have them play, your ass would just be negligent. That’s a band that’s never gonna do anything but make a strong rock bill stronger.

Calling this the inaugural The Electric Highway is fair enough, since it seems to be working under its own concept — pinball tournament! — but it formerly operated under the banner of the 420 Music and Arts Festival, and had a few years to its credit in that form. Still, a new name is a new name, so alright. Maybe “inaugural” with an asterisk. “Inaugural-ish.”

The PR wire has details. The fest has a hashtag that’s probably good advice anyway:

the electric highway poster

All Roads Lead To The Electric Highway Festival In Calgary, AB, Canada!

#BuckleUp baby, The Electric Highway is excited to announce our inaugural lineup! We wanted to put something special together for our first trip on the Highway and with over 20 bands in two daze, we think we have done exactly that…

Day One, Friday, April 17th Wo Fat from Dallas, Texas will be returning with their brand of Psychedelic Heavy Blues to headline night one, and we are flying in their bro’s in DUEL to share the stage with them that night too! Also laying waste to Friday night are BC’s Buzzard & CHUNKASAURUS, coming all the way from Portland, Oregon we have Hippie Death Cult & LáGoon, joining us from Montreal is PINK COCOON, and representing our amazing local scene will be Father Moon, Locutus, Row of Giants and The WORST.

Then on Day Two, Saturday, April 18th bringing the fuzz from California, we are STOKED AF to welcome back the mighty Sasquatch to headline our whole party and are psyched to have their buds Nebula along for the ride! As for the rest of Saturday, it just wouldn’t be a party without Vancouver’s La Chinga on the bill, along with local faves Gone Cosmic, Bazaraba, and Shadow Weaver from Calgary, Crossfield, Alberta’s Set & Stoned, Hemptress from Kamloops, BC, The Sleeping Legion from Winnipeg and rounding out our first lineup, from Saskatoon, The Basement Paintings.

The Electric Highway is taking place at the Royal Canadian Legion #1 in downtown Calgary, AB, Canada on April 17 & 18, 2020. Tickets go on sale at 10am MDT on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at https://theelectrichighway.ecwid.com/.

The Electric Highway Official Lineup:
Sasquatch (Los Angeles, CA)
Wo Fat (Dallas, TX)
Nebula (Los Angeles, CA)
Duel (Austin, TX)
La Chinga (Vancouver, BC)
Gone Cosmic (Calgary, AB)
Hippie Death Cult (Portland, OR)
LáGoon (Portland, OR)
Buzzard (Victoria, BC)
Chunkasaurus (Victoria, BC)
Bazaraba (Calgary, AB)
Shadow Weaver (Calgary, AB)
Father Moon (Calgary, AB)
Set & Stoned (Crossfield, AB)
Row of Giants (Calgary, AB)
Hemptress (Kamloops, BC)
Pink Cocoon (Montreal, QC)
The Sleeping Legion (Winnipeg, MB)
The Basement Paintings (Saskatoon, SK)
Locutus (Calgary, AB)
The Worst (Calgary, AB)

The Electric Highway 2020 —> www.facebook.com/events/1346173098884903/
The Electric Highway Kickoff Party—> www.facebook.com/events/809469542830729/
The Electric Highway Pinball Tournament —> www.facebook.com/events/2408742202725992/
The Electric Highway Arts Expo & Market —> www.facebook.com/events/476224713238363/

#BuckleUp

“All Roads Lead to the Electric Highway”

www.facebook.com/ElectricHighwayFestival/
www.instagram.com/TheElectricHighway
www.TheElectricHighway.ca

Sasquatch, Live at Ace of Cups, Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 8, 2019

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Woodhawk Premiere “Heartstopper” from Violent Nature

Posted in audiObelisk on October 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

woodhawk

Calgary heavy rockers Woodhawk will release their second full-length, Violent Nature, on Nov. 1. Like their 2017 debut, Beyond the Sun (review here), it’s a self-release, and also like their 2017 debut, it’s rife with maddeningly catchy tracks of high-grade straightforward, weighted riffing and rhythmic drive. “Snake in the Grass,” the previously-posted single “Weightless Light” and “Dry Blood” in the opening salvo set the tone for what follows as a showcase of material that feels crafted to the point of having chiseled away the frills, extras and inefficiencies to get to the essential core of what matters most in terms of the songs themselves. At 44 minutes and nine tracks, the new collection is somewhat longer than its predecessor, but as guitarist/vocalist Turner Midzain, bassist/vocalist Mike Madmington and drummer Kevin Nelson return to the studio with Jesse Gander at the helm of the recording and mix (Alan Douches mastered), there’s a sonic consistency between those two outings.

That stands up even as Woodhawk refine their methods toward conveying an emotional undercurrent most especially in songs like the organ-laced “Old Silence” and “Clear the Air” — Gander played keys on the debut and one assumes does here as well — and the later finale duo “As a Friend” and “Our Greatest Weakness,” both of which confront loss and issues of mental health, depression, etc., in a way no less honest and upfront lyrically than the accompanying riffs are musically. The chuggy “Heartstopper” and mid-paced winding groove of the title-track do much to bolster the emotional confrontationalism happening in the songs surrounding, and even as the latter veers into mellow Truckfighters-style bass-and-vocals spaciousness in its second half, there’s a strong sense of sonic purpose to everything Woodhawk do. Violent Nature is very much a gathering of individual pieces, but they’re smoothly arranged with a flow in mind, and the sharpened corners of the song structures only seem to increase the overall impact made.

Quiet moments like the beginning stretch of “Our Greatest Weakness” — not to spoil it, but our greatest weakness is love — and the build across the first half of “Clear the Air” offset some of Violent Nature‘s more frenetic moments, like the shredding solo in “Heartstopper” or the initial barrage of hooks at the record’s outset, but Woodhawk‘s priority is without a doubt conveying a strong sense of songwriting. This is not a band who put together an album while pretending to do something else, like, “Oh yeah, we’ll just write some songs and see what happens.” No. Woodhawk‘s tracks are too clear and firm in their intent for such things, and further, for the kind of heavy rock they play — modern, informed by traditions of more commercial fare but not beholden to them in style — they make ideas like that seem silly. If a band could write songs like this and make an album of them, why the hell would they do anything else?

The underlying implication there is that not every band can write songs like this, and that’s true as well, let alone carry them across with genuine-feeling emotion as Woodhawk do here. That is, with material so structured and so obviously worked through and hammered out, the risk the band might run is to dull the heart behind them, but with upfront lyrics and dynamic performance, the trio and Gander are able to find a sweet spot between professionalism and expression that serves the material first on all levels. As they mark five years since the arrival of their self-titled debut EP — released Halloween 2014 — Violent Nature not only reaffirms the idea that they’ve known what they’re doing all along, but makes it no less plain to hear that they’ve found a way to grow and progress, and indeed get tighter, as they move forward from one offering to the next. What that might mean for them going forward, I wouldn’t guess as to specifics of theme or anything like that, but in terms of a foundation, one couldn’t ask for ground much more solid than that which Woodhawk are building on throughout Violent Nature. It’s no less method than madness.

Woodhawk have a new beer coming out in collaboration with New Level Brewing, and they’ll play a release show for that the night after Violent Nature arrives on Nov. 1. It’s one of several dates lined up for this Fall that you can see under the premiere of “Heartstopper” below, which is also followed immediately by some background on the track courtesy of Midzain.

Please enjoy:

Woodhawk, “Heartstopper” official track premiere

Turner Midzain on “Heartstopper”:

“Heartstopper was the first song we wrote for the album, and was definitely reworked more than anything else on the record. Usually we scrap the first few we write until we find our groove. But this one just stuck. It tells the tale of how I have friends who live in completely different worlds and live totally different lives. One on side, I have this friend who has faced every major health complication someone their age should ever have faced and perceived. But still has the most positive outlook on life. On the other side, the friends who abuse substances and cheat death to the closest point and have no true appreciation for their own life. The juxtaposition in this situation just kind of hit home with all of us.”

Heartstopper off the forthcoming album, Violent Nature 2019.

Written and Performed by Woodhawk
Recorded by Jesse Gander
Mixed by Jesse Gander
Mastered by Alan Douches
Art by Mark Kowalchuck
Animation by Felix von Liska

New album ‘Violent Nature’ out everywhere Nov/1/2019

Woodhawk live:
Oct 25- Vancouver, BC – Railway Club
Oct 26 – Kamloops, BC – Pogue Mahones
Nov 2 – Beer Launch Party – New Level Brewing in Calgary
(New Level Brewing and Woodhawk have teamed up to make a Violent Nature Beer! Come down to New Level Brewing, for the beer launch. Woodhawk will be down there all day spinning records, selling merch and drinking the fine nectars they’ve created with New Level Brewing.)
Nov 8 – Calgary, AB – Palomino (Album Release Show)
Nov 9 – Edmonton, AB – Temple w/ The Wild!

WOODHAWK:
Turner Midzain – Vocals, Guitar
Mike Badmington – Bass, Vocals
Kevin Nelson – Drums

Woodhawk website

Woodhawk on Thee Facebooks

Woodhawk on Instagram

Woodhawk on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , ,

Woodhawk to Release Violent Nature Nov. 1; Stream “Weightless Light”

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

woodhawk

A change in approach to the lyrics to real-world concerns rather than real-world-concerns-presented-as-stories-about-monsters adds a level of intrigue to their new album, Violent Nature, and I’ll be interested to hear how that plays out across the full-length when/if I get the chance to hear it — I’d hope to, but one never knows. I dug their 2017 debut LP, Beyond the Sun (review here), as well, and going by the lead single “Weightless Light” it seems like whatever they’re making the songs about, Woodhawk still bring the same sense of songcraft to their material, which is always good to know. They’ve got preorders up for the sophomore outing, and you can stream the track below. You know the deal, so go to it.

Cool art too:

woodhawk violent nature

WOODHAWK: Calgarian Riffs of Prey Return with VIOLENT NATURE | Stream New Single and Album Pre-order

Violent Nature by Woodhawk is released 1st November 2019

Hailing from the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Woodhawk are undeniable masters of riff rock, harnessing the classic influences of Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy with smooth grooves, cranked-up amps, and hard-hitting drums that coalesce into impressive soundscapes. With lyrical themes that span the imagination and incorporate elements of science fiction, mythicism and the more contemporary struggles of modern times, Woodhawk proudly wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Formed in 2014, following the release of their self-titled EP, the band returned with the critically acclaimed full length Beyond the Sun in 2017. A melodically rich and varied album, steeped in sci-fi vibes catchy riffs, Beyond the Sun cemented Woodhawk’s status as a desert rock band with the kind of potential to power from terrafirma into the great beyond.

Returning to Rain City Recorders in Vancouver earlier this year, Woodhawk worked with Jesse Gander? (ANCIIENTS?, BISON?, 3 Inches of Blood?, JAPANDROIDS?) to record their sophomore album Violent Nature, which is due for official release this November. Over the course of two weeks, Woodhawk tracked their strongest effort yet, producing songs that addressed the struggles of mental health on new material that abandoned the world of fantasy in pursuit of emotional authenticity and self-discovery. Grounded with one foot in the present and another in the future, Woodhawk’s outlook is as boundless as their command of the genre.

Violent Nature by Woodhawk is released 1st November 2019 and can be pre-ordered here – https://woodhawk.bandcamp.com

TRACK LISTING:
1. Snake in The Grass
2. Weightless Light
3. Dry Blood
4. Heartstopper
5. Old Silence
6. Clear the Air
7. Violent Nature
8. As A Friend
9. Our Greatest Weakness

WOODHAWK:
Turner Midzain – Vocals, Guitar
Mike Badmington – Bass, Vocals
Kevin Nelson – Drums

http://woodhawkriffs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WoodhawkRiffs/
https://www.instagram.com/woodhawkriffs/
https://woodhawk.bandcamp.com

Woodhawk, “Weightless Light”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Sons of Otis Finish Writing New Album; Reissuing Paid to Suffer & Spacejumbofudge

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Okay, yeah, I’ll admit that I saw the below posted from Totem Cat Records last week and held off putting it up here. I guess maybe I was hoping from a more substantive update or something specific, but what that doesn’t account for is that, hey man, it’s Sons of Otis. Take what you can get. Fair enough. The new album from the Toronto-based megastoners — who toured Europe last year, playing Hellfest and then some — is reportedly finished, and that’s nifty news because when it comes out, it’ll be their first studio offering since 2012’s Seismic (review here). They’ve also been saying they were writing for over a year now, but what the hell. Slow music happens slowly. Be really surprised or don’t.

You might recall that late last year, Totem Cat released the Live in Den Bosch LP capturing the band in 2011 in the Netherlands in an edition of a paltry 300 copies. They’re currently down to their last copies at the BigCartel store linked below, and I haven’t heard the thing, but I’ll happily spend your money and say you should pick it up. If for nothing else than to dedicate the shelf space to Sons of Otis, that’s probably better than whatever else you were going to buy. What was it? Groceries? A car? Nah, screw that. There’s riffs to be had.

The rather efficient announcement below also includes the news that the band’s 1994 debut EP, Paid to Suffer, and their 1996 debut album, Spacejumbofudge (discussed here) are being reissued. CLF Records also put out a vinyl of 2001’s Songs for Worship in 2017, leaving 1999’s Templeball in desperate need of another look.

Here’s the latest, for posterity, as well as a video of the band last year in Paris that unsurprisingly kicks ass:

sons of otis logo

New Sons of Otis album is fully written and will be recorded soon, we’re excited to be releasing it early next year. Paid To Suffer & Spacejumbofudge will be reissued on CD & LP as well.

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofotis/
https://www.reverbnation.com/sonsofotis
https://www.facebook.com/totemcatrecords/
http://totemcatrecords.bigcartel.com/

Sons of Otis, Live in Paris, 2018

Tags: , , , ,