Quarterly Review: Horisont, Ahab, Rrrags, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Earthbong, Rito Verdugo, Death the Leveller, Marrowfields, Dätcha Mandala, Numidia

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-qr-summer-2020

Well, I’m starting an hour later than I did yesterday, so that’s maybe not the most encouraging beginning I could think of, but screw it, I’m here, got music on, got fingers on keys, so I guess we’re underway. Yesterday was remarkably easy, even by Quarterly Review standards. I’ve been doing this long enough at this point — five-plus years — that I approach it with a reasonable amount of confidence it’ll get done barring some unforeseen disaster.

But yesterday was a breeze. What does today hold? In the words of Mrs. Wagner from fourth grade homeroom, “see me after.”

Ready, set, go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Horisont, Sudden Death

horisont sudden death

With a hefty dose of piano up front and keys throughout, Gothenburg traditionalist heavy rockers Many people prefer to http://www.nivacom.gr/?assignment-writing-custom, rather than write one for different reasons. Sometimes one is very busy, or he does not get the topic well. Horisont push retro-ism into full-on arena status. Moving past some of the sci-fi aspects of 2017’s Broglie Phd Dissertation. PaperWritingServices.com is the cheap paper writing service which offers high quality and low cost papers. About Time, nursing case study hypovolemic shock University Of Wisconsin Application Essay online gambling issue essays university admissions essay Sudden Death comprises 13 tracks and an hour’s runtime, so rest assured, there’s room for everything, including the sax on “Into the Night,” the circa-’77 rock drama in the midsection of the eight-minute “Archeopteryx in Flight,” and the comparatively straightforward seeming bounce of “Sail On.” With cocaine-era production style, article source. Well, there are several challenges that often make students question who can do my assignment? While its imperative that students should take assignment writing seriously as theres a huge chunk of marks attached to the same. Sudden Death is beyond the earlier-’70s vintage mindset of the band’s earliest work, and songs like “Standing Here” and the penultimate proto-metaller “Reign of Madness” stake a claim on the later era, but the post- Need hop over to heres? Browse profiles and reviews of top rated editors and have your writing professionally edited today. Queen melody of “Revolution” at the outset and the acoustic swing in “Free Riding” that follows set a lighthearted tone, and as always seems to be the case with Topics For Biology Research Paper best college essay editing service. Leont ev, legal services dissertation are writing a. N activity, consciousness Horisont, there’s nothing that comes across as more important than the songwriting.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Century Media website

 

Ahab, Live Prey

ahab live prey

Scourge of the seven seas that German nautically-themed funeral doomers There are many Proposed Thesiss that think they are on top, so don't be cheated and check out this true list of the best paper writing services in 2018! Ahab are, Professional English proofreading and editing services dissertation proofreading service, a basic I Need Help On My Biology Homework; Live Prey is their first live album and it finds them some five years removed from their last studio LP, 'look at this site' is one of the best online spanish class homework manager portal . You can hire an spanish expert to do your online spanish homework , quizzes , tests , discussions . Our experts will do all the work while you can spend your time on something you enjoy doing the most. The Boats of the Glen Carrig (review here). For a band who in the past has worked at a steady three-year pace, maybe it was time for something, anything to make its way to public ears. Fair enough, and in five tracks and 63 minutes, Best Services. Trusted By 3000+ Corporate Clients. Start in 30min. 12 hours delivery. From 29 $/hr. Live Prey spans all the way back to 2006’s Place a 'write my essay' order and get online academic help from cheap essay writing service. 24/7 Non-plagiarized enter from per Call of the Wretched Sea with “Ahab’s Oath” and presents all but two of that debut’s songs, beginning with the trilogy “Below the Sun,” “The Pacific” and “Old Thunder” and switching the order of “Ahab’s Oath” and “The Hunt” from how they originally appeared on the first record to end with the foreboding sounds of waves rolling accompanied by minimal keyboards. It’s massively heavy, of course — so was Thesis Custom Homepage's profile on Trulia. Assignment Doer works in Lake Worth, TX. Find the best real estate agents in 76135 on Trulia. Call of the Wretched Sea — and whatever their reason for not including any other album’s material, at least they’ve included anything.

Ahab on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

 

Rrrags, High Protein

rrrags high protein

Let’s assume the title I http://gooddogmarketing.com/grant-writing-help/s - Online Term Paper Writing Service - We Provide Quality Essay Papers You Can Rely On Cheap Homework Writing Assistance - Get Help High Protein might refer to the fact that Dutch/Belgian power trio how to write rationale of the study Homework Help Kcls Transfer how to write a college book report paper persuasive essay gun control Rrrags have ‘trimmed the fat’ from the eight songs that comprise their 33-minute sophomore LP. It’s easy enough to believe listening to a cut like “Messin'” or the subsequent “Sad Sanity,” which between the two of them are about as long as the 5:14 opener “The Fridge” just before. But while how to write a literature review based dissertation follow link Argumentative essay writing my neighbourhood executive ghostwriting services High Protein has movers and groovers galore in those tracks and the fuzzier “Sugarcube” — the tone of which might remind that guitarist Ron Van Herpen is in Astrosoniq — the stomping “Demons Dancing” and the strutter “Hellfire,” there’s live-DeepPurple-style breadth on the eight-minute “Dark is the Day” and closer “Window” bookends “The Fridge” in length while mellowing out and giving drummer/vocalist Rob Martin a rest (he’s earned it by then) while bassist Rob Zim and Van Herpen carry the finale. If thinking of it as a sleeper hit helps you get on board, so be it, but Rrrags‘ second album is of unmitigated class and straight-up killer performance. It is not one to be overlooked.

Rrrags on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Viscerals

pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs viscerals

There’s stoner roll and doomed crash in “New Body,” drone-laced spoken-word experimentalism in “Blood and Butter,” and post-punk angular whathaveyou as “Halloween Bolson” plays out its nine-minute stretch, but Viscerals — the third or fourth Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs album, depending on what you count — seems to be at its most satisfying in blowout freak-psych moments like opener “Reducer” and “Rubbernecker,” which follows, while the kinda-metal of “World Crust”‘s central riff stumbles willfully and teases coming apart before circling back, and “Crazy in Blood” and closer “Hell’s Teeth” are more straight-up heavy rock. It’s a fairly wide arc the UK outfit spread from one end of the record to the other — and they’re brash enough to pull it off, to be sure — but with the hype machine so fervently behind them, I have a hard time knowing whether I’m actually just left flat by the record itself or all the hyperbole-set-on-fire that’s surrounded the band for the last couple years. Viscerals gets to the heart of the matter, sure enough, but then what?

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings on Bandcamp

 

Earthbong, Bong Rites

Earthbong Bong Rites

Kiel, Germany’s Earthbong answer the stoner-sludge extremity of their 2018 debut, One Earth One Bong (review here), with, well, more stoner-sludge extremity. What, you thought they’d go prog? Forget it. You get three songs. Opener “Goddamn High” and “Weedcult Today” top 15 minutes each, and closer “Monk’s Blood” hits half an hour. Do the quick math yourself on that and you’ll understand just how much Earthbong have been looking forward to bashing you over the head with riffs. “Weedcult Today” is more agonizingly slow than “Goddamn High,” at least at the beginning, but it builds up and rolls into a pace that, come to think of it, is still probably slower than most, and of course “Monk’s Blood” is an epic undertaking right up to its last five minutes of noise. It could’ve been an album on its own. But seriously, if you think Earthbong give a shit, you’re way off base. This is tone, riff and weed worship and everything else is at best a secondary concern. Spend an hour at mass and see if you don’t come out converted.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Rito Verdugo, Post-Primatus

rito verdugo post-primatus

No doubt that at some future time shortly after the entire world has moved on from the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a glut of releases comprised of material written during the lockdown. Peruvian four-piece Rito Verdugo are ahead of the game, then, with their Post-Primatus four-song EP. Issued digitally as the name-your-price follow-up to their also-name-your-price 2018 debut, Cosmos, it sets a 14-minute run from its shortest cut to its longest, shifting from the trippy “Misterio” into fuzz rockers “Monte Gorila” (which distills Earthless vibes to just over three minutes) and “Lo Subnormal” en route to the rawer garage psychedelia of “Inhumación,” which replaces its vocals with stretches of lead guitar that do more than just fill the spaces verses might otherwise be and instead add to the breadth of the release as a whole. Safe to assume Rito Verdugo didn’t plan on spending any amount of time this year staying home to avoid getting a plague, but at least they were able to use the time productively to give listeners a quick sample of where they’re at sound-wise coming off the first album. Whenever and however it shows up, I’ll look forward to what they do next.

Rito Verdugo on Thee Facebooks

Rito Verdugo on Bandcamp

 

Death the Leveller, II

Death the Leveller II

Signed to Cruz Del Sur Music as part of that label’s expanding foray into traditionalist doom (see also: Pale Divine, The Wizar’d, Apostle of Solitude, etc.), Dublin’s Death the Leveller present an emotionally driven four tracks on their 38-minute label debut, the counterintuitively titled II. Listed as their first full-length, it’s about the same length as their debut “EP,” 2017’s I, but more important is the comfort and patience the band shows with working in longer-form material, opener “The Hunt Eternal,” “The Golden Bough” and closer “The Crossing” making an impression at over nine minutes apiece — “The Golden Bough” tops 12 — while “So They May Face the Sun” runs a mere 7:37 and is perhaps the most unhurried of the bunch, playing out with a cinematic sweep of guitar melody and another showcase for the significant presence of frontman Denis Dowling, who’s high in the mix at times but earns that forward position with a suitably standout performance across the record’s span.

Death the Leveller on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Marrowfields, Metamorphoses

marrowfields metamorphoses

It isn’t surprising to learn that the members of Fall River, Massachusetts, five-piece Marrowfields come from something of an array of underground styles, some of them pushing into more extreme terrain, because the five songs of their debut full-length, Metamorphoses, do likewise. With founding guitarist/main-songwriter Brandon Green at the helm as producer as well, there’s a suitably inward-looking feel to the material, but coinciding with its rich atmospheres are flashes of blastbeats, death metal chug, double-kick and backing growls behind the cleaner melodic vocals that keep Marrowfields distinct from entirely traditionalist doom. It is a niche into which they fit well on this first long-player, and across the five songs/52 minutes of Metamorphoses, they indeed shapeshift between genre elements in order to best serve the purposes of the material, calling to mind Argus in the progressive early stretch of centerpiece “Birth of the Liberator” while tapping Paradise Lost chug and ambience before the blasts kick in on closer “Dragged to the World Below.” Will be interesting to see which way their — or Green‘s, as it were — focus ultimately lies, but there isn’t one aesthetic nuance misused here.

Marrowfields on Thee Facebooks

Black Lion Records on Bandcamp

 

Dätcha Mandala, Hara

datcha mandala hara

Dätcha Mandala present a strong opening salvo of rockers on Hara, their second album for MRS Red Sound, before turning over to all-out tambourine-and-harp blues on “Missing Blues.” From there, they could go basically anywhere they want, and they do, leading with piano on “Morning Song,” doing wrist-cramp-chug-into-disco-hop in “Sick Machine” and meeting hand-percussion with space rocking vibes on “Moha.” They’ve already come a long way from the somewhat misleading ’70s heavy of opener “Stick it Out,” “Mother God” and “Who You Are,” but the sonic turns that continue with the harder-edged “Eht Bup,” the ’70s balladry of “Tit’s,” an unabashed bit o’ twang on “On the Road” and full-on fuzz into a noise freakout on closer “Pavot.” Just what the hell is going on with Hara? Anything Dätcha Mandala so desire, it would seem. They have the energy to back it up, but if you see them labeled as any one microgenre or another, keep in mind that inevitably that’s only part of the story and the whole thing is much weirder than they might be letting on. No complaints with that.

Dätcha Mandala on Thee Facebooks

MRS Red Sound

 

Numidia, Numidia

Numidia Numidia

If you’ve got voices in your band that can harmonize like guitarists James Draper, Shane Linfoot and Mike Zoias, I’m not entirely sure what would lead you to start your debut record with a four-minute instrumental, but one way or another, Sydney, Australia’s Numidia — completed by bassist/keyboardist Alex Raffaelli and drummer Nathan McMahon — find worthy manners in which to spend their time. Their first collection takes an exploratory approach to progressive heavy rock, seeming to feel its way through components strung together effectively while staying centered around the guitars. Yes, three of them. Psychedelia plays a strong role in later pieces “Red Hymn” and the folky “Te Waka,” but if the eponymous “Numidia” is a mission statement on the part of the five-piece, it’s one cast in a prog mentality pushed forward with poise to suit. Side A capper “A Million Martyrs” would seem to draw the different sides together, but it’s no minor task for it to do so, and there’s little sign in these songs that Numidia won’t grow more expansive as time goes on.

Numidia on Thee Facebooks

Nasoni Records website

 

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Swallow the Sun Annouce Spring North American Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

swallow the sun

In some ways, the hardest thing to believe about this is that Swallow the Sun have never headlined a US tour before. And yet, even in light of it being their 20th anniversary next year — pretty astounding, as I remember when their debut came out; but then, I am o-l-d — this tour feels like a risk. Consider they’ll already be more than a year out from this January’s all-kinds-of-killer When a Shadow is Forced into the Light (review here), they’re bringing a full three-band package over with Moldovan nü-metallers Infected Rain and Finnish/UK proggers Wheel, and they’re booked for more than a month of dates.

My eyes went immediately to the fact that they’re playing Dingbatz in New Jersey. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, and there are plenty of other rooms on this list that I recognize like Metro Gallery, Kingsland, Hawthorne Theatre, Brick by Brick, etc., but last time I saw Swallow the Sun was at B.B. King’s in Manhattan — 2007, you say? with Amorphis? that might’ve been it — and Clifton, NJ, might be relatively close geographically, but it’s miles away from that kind of experience.

Bottom line? They’ve in for some really good nights, and some nights of adventure. So I guess basically it’ll be a tour.

See you boys in Clifton.

From the PR wire:

swallow the sun tour

Swallow The Sun Announce North American Headline Tour

Finnish melancholy death-doom metal masters Swallow The Sun have just announced their North American headline tour today. The band will be on tour this Spring with special guests Infected Rain and Wheel. Catch the band on tour starting April 20th in Tampa and ending on May 24th in Dallas. Tickets are available for purchase HERE.

“We have been touring many times in North America since 2007 but never headlined before this,” states Swallow The Sun’s Mikko Kotamäki about the upcoming headline tour. “So it’s about time to play you a decent length shows, not just 30-45min like before. Better get your tickets now and spread the word. No excuses, you asked for it, you got it! See you soon!”

The band will be touring in support of their most recent full-length album When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light. Swallow The Sun’s seventh studio album was produced by the band’s very own Jaani Peuhu and Juha Raivio and is their most personal, cleanest work to date. Purchase and stream When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light HERE.

Swallow The Sun is Mikko Kotamaki (vocals), Matti Honkonen (bass), Juuso Raatkainen (drums), Jaani Peuhu (keys and vocals), Juho Raiha (guitar), and Juha Raivio (guitar and keys).

SWALLOW THE SUN TOUR DATES:
April 20 – Tampa, FL – Crowbar
April 21 – West Palm Beach, FL – Respectables
April 22 – Winter Park, FL – The Haven
April 23 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
April 24 – Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery
April 25 – Philadelphia, PA – Voltage Lounge
April 26 – Clifton, NJ – Dingbatz
April 27 – Brooklyn, NY – Kingsland
April 28 – Brooklyn, NY – Kingsland
April 30 – Quebec City, Canada – L’Anti
May 1 – Ottawa, Canada – Mavericks
May 2 – Toronto, Canada – Velvet Underground
May 3 – Buffalo, NY – Mohawk Place
May 4 – Westland, MI – Token Lounge
May 5 – Joliet, IL – The Forge
May 6 – Madison, WI – Crucible
May 7 – St. Paul, MN – Amsterdam
May 9 – Denver, CO – Hermans Hideaway
May 10 – Salt Lake City, UT – Liquid Joe
May 12 – Vancouver, Canada – Rickshaw Theatre
May 13 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theater
May 14 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
May 15 – Bend, OR – Third Street Pub
May 16 – Sacramento, CA – Holy Diver
May 17 – West Hollywood, CA – Whiskey A Go Go
May 18 – San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick
May 19 – Santa Ana, CA – Malones
May 20 – Tempe, AZ – Club Red
May 22 – Austin, TX – Come and Take it Live**
May 23 – Houston, TX – Scout Bar**
May 24 – Dallas, TX – Trees**
**no Wheel

http://www.swallowthesun.net
https://www.facebook.com/swallowthesun
http://www.centurymedia.com/
https://www.facebook.com/centurymedia

Swallow the Sun, “When a Shadow is Forced into the Light”

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Lucifer Announce Southern Tour; Lucifer III Due in March

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

lucifer

You know, with the reception Lucifer have gotten over their time together, you’d think Nicke Andersson was in The Hellacopters or something. Or that vocalist Johanna Sadonis came out of hotly-tipped but ultimately shortlived cult duo The Oath or whatever. Oh wait. Okay, so maybe it’s not much of a mystery while the heavy underground has embraced them with open arms, but the work they’re doing speaks for itself. First and foremost, they’ve busted their collective ass touring in Europe and North America, and their records — the latest being last year’s Lucifer II (review here) — have only been met with increasing fervor. Gosh. Maybe they’re a good band or something.

New record, Lucifer III, will be out in March 2020 through Century Media, but somehow I’ll always think of them as a Rise Above band. Maybe that’s just me.

Info from the PR wire:

lucifer tour

LUCIFER ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICA PART III HEADLINE TOUR

Heavy-rock band LUCIFER have just announced their third and final leg of their North American headline tour today. The band will hit the road starting on January 15th in Memphis, TN and ending on January 26th in Tampa, FL. For more information and to purchase tickets for the band’s upcoming tour dates, visit LUCIFER’s Facebook page.

LUCIFER has been touring nonstop in support of their recent full-length album Lucifer II. The band recently wrapped a tour with The Hellacopters for select European shows in May and their first two North American headline tours. Additionally, the band has performed at festivals like Metal Days, Bukta Festival, and Beyond The Gates. They have previously performed at KISS Cruise, Psycho Las Vegas, Desertfest, Hellfest, Muskelrock, Sweden Rock, and Freak Valley.

The group, led by Johanna Sadonis and Nicke Andersson, celebrated massive success in 2018 with the release of Lucifer II, turning heads with their addictive Sabbath-ian hard rock. The album charted at #40 on the German charts, #1 on the Swedish vinyl and hard rock charts, and #2 on the physical album charts. The record is available on vinyl, CD and digitally HERE.

“Oh my Lord! We are incredibly thrilled to announce that the mighty Philip Shouse (bass for Ace Frehley / guitar for Gene Simmons) will join LUCIFER on bass in the US on our upcoming Southern tour! What a legend! Don’t miss this! Tickets go on sale this Friday.”

LUCIFER have commenced work on Lucifer III, which is set for release March 2020. Stay tuned for more details on the forthcoming release.

LUCIFER NORTH AMERICA PART III TOUR 2019
January 15 – Memphis, TN – The Hi Tone
January 16 – Dallas, TX – Three Links
January 17 – Austin, TX – Come And Take It Live
January 18 – Houston, TX – Secret Group
January 19 – New Orleans, LA – Santos
January 21- Birmingham, AL – The Nick
January 22 – Atlanta, GA – 529
January 23 – Tampa, FL – Crowbar
January 24 – Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall
January 25 – Miami, FL – Churchill’s Pub
January 26 – Orlando, FL – Will’s Pub

LUCIFER is
Johanna Sadonis – vocals
Nicke Andersson – drums
Alexander Mayr – bass
Martin Nordin – guitar
Linus Björklund – guitar

https://www.facebook.com/luciferofficial/
https://www.instagram.com/lucifertheband/
https://kingsroadmerch.com/lucifer/
http://www.centurymedia.com/
https://www.facebook.com/centurymedia

Lucifer, “California Son” official video

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Radio Moscow Announce Summer European Tour Dates

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

radio moscow

San Diego classic heavy rockers Radio Moscow were in Europe this past week to make stops at the Bordeaux Psych Fest and a few other shows surrounding it. Neat. Well, while they were there, they went ahead and announced a longer European trip, set for this June/July, which is set to include HellfestBlack Deer Fest in Kent, UK, Resurrection Fest, a secret show in Italy — I’m gonna guess we know what that is — and more. Not too bad either.

Before they go, they’ll appear in May as headliners for Planet Desert Rock Weekend in Vegas and for a slot at Stoned and Dusted out somewhere in the Cali desert, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there are other shows in that mix as well, because that’s basically how Radio Moscow do. When they’re going, they go.

The three-piece released their latest album, New Beginnings (review here), late in 2017 as their label debut on Century Media and toured before and after, like you do. I don’t know what their plans are for the rest of 2018, but it’s easy enough to imagine them back out on the road after this as well. Fall in South America maybe? Somebody call Abraxas.

Sound of Liberation had the Euro dates:

radio moscow tour

Radio Moscow EUROPEAN TOUR SUMMER 2019!

While Radio Moscow are currently on the road in France, Spain & Portugal, we are thrilled to announce more European shows for them in June!

Check out the dates below:

11.06.19 – Leipzig | UT Connewitz (DE)
12.06.19 – Salzburg | Rockhouse (AT)
13.06.19 – Budapest | A38 (HU)
14.06.19 – Graz | PPC (AT)
15.06.19 – Milano | Cronache Marziane Festival (IT)
16.06.19 – Torino | Blah Blah (IT)
18.06.19 – Secret Show (IT)
19.06.19 – Geneva | L’Usine (CH) *with monkey3
21.06.19 – Clisson | Hellfest (FR)
22.06.19 – Schmitten | Schmittner Open Air (CH)
23.06.19 – Tunbridge Wells | Black Deer Festival (UK)
25.06.19 – Leffinge | De Zwerver (BE)
26.06.19 – Cologne | Helios 37 (DE)
27.06.19 – Groningen | Vera (NL)
28.06.19 – Stuttgart | Keller Club (DE)
29.06.19 – Riegsee | Raut Oak Festival (DE)
30.06.19 – Innsbruck | PMK (AT)
01.07.19 – Vienna | Arena (AT)
03.07.19 – Berlin | Lido (DE)
04.07.19 – Wiesbaden| Schlachthof (DE)
05.07.19 – Viveiro | Resurrection Festival (ES)

More info: www.soundofliberation.com/radio-moscow

Radio Moscow line-up
Parker Griggs (vocals, guitar)
Anthony Meier (bass)
Paul Marrone (drums)

http://radiomoscow.net/
www.facebook.com/radiomoscowband
www.instagram.com/radiomoscowband

Radio Moscow, “Driftin'” official video

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Hexvessel, All Tree: A Wilderness Spirit

Posted in Reviews on March 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hexvessel all tree

As side A plays out with its lush melodies and arrangements of flute and violin and cape-donned acoustic folk strum, past the pervasive sense of worship brought to “Son of the Sky” and “Old Tree,” Hexvessel frontman Mat “Kvohst” McNerney intones in “Changeling” the repeated line, “Come back home.” And so it seems the band has done just that. From the harmonized chants opening All Tree in the brief introduction “Blessing” through the birdsong of “A Sylvan Sign,” the quiet but present and foreboding layer of distortion in “Otherworld Envoy,” and the crackling fire of “Liminal Night,” the Finnish outfit have gone to ground aesthetically, and returned to the spirit of their earlier recordings, 2011’s Dawnbearer, 2012’s No Holier Temple, and 2013’s Iron Marsh EP.

Fair enough territory for McNerney and multi-instrumentalist Kimmo Helén (bass, piano, viola), guitarist Andrew McIvor, drummer/bassist Jukka Rämänen, vocalist/percussionist Marja Konttinen, guitarist Jesse Heikkinen and field recording specialist Antti Haapapuro to cover, but it’s a stark change from where Hexvessel were three years ago on When We are Death (review here). Their third album was a break-away from the methods of No Holier Temple et al, and found Hexvessel delving into psychedelic goth, death-driven Bowie swagger, and a broad pastiche of styles. In the context of the work they’ve done over the course of the last decade, All Tree makes When We are Death feel like an anomaly. Maybe it was. But the turn that brought Hexvessel there was no less stark than the turn that brings them to All Tree. Once again, the band as a whole are defying expectation, and as they lay claim once more to what one previously thought of as their core sound, they don’t necessarily forget the lessons of When We are Death in terms of tight songcraft — the ceremony runs a brisk 13 songs and 45 minutes — and nuance of arrangement, but there’s no question that the shift is a drastic one and it leaves one scratching their head at what might’ve been behind it. Even the cover art was done by the same artist who did No Holier Temple.

Perhaps the songs themselves hold the key to understanding the motivation. Like that “Come back home” in “Changeling,” or the chorus, “You can’t change this wilderness spirit,” in “Wilderness Spirit,” there is something about All Tree that feels very much to the core of Hexvessel‘s project. It brings together elements of British folk with a pointed naturalism that presents an alternate view of the modern world in which hillsides might be the shoulders of some giant unseen to human eyes or ghosts seem to populate the landscape as much as any form of life. In minimalist stretches like the finale “Closing Circles” or pieces of “Old Tree” earlier on, McNerney‘s voice is given a showcase it’s more than up to handling, and as much as there’s an overarching theme to the band’s sound, they subtly work in a surprising amount of variety, tapping into weepy pedal steel on “Birthmark,” bringing in session violinist Daniel Pioro for “Old Tree,” or recalling 16 Horsepower-style swing in “Wilderness Spirit.”

hexvessel

Be it the more severe strumming of “Ancient Astronaut” or the quiet brooding of the brief mostly-instrumental “Vision of A.O.S.” that follows, “Otherworld Envoy” with its build toward a resonant wash or the brief interplay of keys and guitar on “Journey to Carnac,” All Tree does not to away with the prior album’s fascination with alternate dimensional planes, but it is by reinterpreting the means of conveying these ideas that so much about All Tree feels different. Even in “A Sylvan Sign,” which is the longest inclusion here at 6:28 as well as the centerpiece of the tracklisting, there’s something ethereal about the proceedings and the hypnotic repetitions of the title amid the plucked strings of acoustic guitar. As dug into the earth as some of these songs seem, wandering aged forests with dirt under the fingernails, there is no lack of mystique or wonder to them. A decade on from their beginnings, Hexvessel seem to be returning to marvel at what surrounds them, telling stories of the place of one’s self in nature and nature’s place in one’s self. “Wilderness Spirit,” in that regard, is a declaration of freedom as much as anything.

So where does that leave Hexvessel? They’re not back where they started, by any means. The level of craft, the diversity of their arrangements and their ability to shift in mood has carried over from When We are Death to All Tree in a way that distinguishes the new work from anything they’ve done before, but at the same time, there’s no getting around the fact that Hexvessel have stepped back into a forest-folk style that, for the most part, they let go three years ago. Does that make All Tree a moment of reconciliation between who Hexvessel were and who they became? Does their fourth album negate the accomplishments of their third or invalidate them somehow? Did Hexvessel hear those songs and think it wasn’t working on some level? How did we get here? Maybe (almost certainly) I’m overthinking it, but what does the fact that Hexvessel returned at least to the general vibe of their earlier work say about who they are as a band?

I’m not sure, and I’m not sure we’re supposed to know. For a band who made so much of their statement stylistically, it was particularly bold when Hexvessel dropped (almost) everything and went in a different direction. Likewise, listening to All Tree, it feels no less bold for Hexvessel to be back under such open skies. I can’t answer the questions above and I’m not going to try, but it feels like much of the purpose in these songs is self-discovery as it is expression. In that regard, Hexvessel have never wavered at all. As a collection in its own right, All Tree has moments of pain, beauty and awe that come across as genuine and driven by an urgency in their creation. On a level of craft, Hexvessel have never sounded more sure of what they want to do or how they want to make that unreal real. As to the rest, their story clearly isn’t done being written, and the narrative has grown more complex with time. Something tells me they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Swallow the Sun, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light: Of Love and Death

Posted in Reviews on January 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Swallow the Sun When a Shadow is Forced into the Light

The immediate question, of course, is what happens? What happens when you force a shadow into the light? As per the memorable, layered screams of the title-track to Finnish melodic death-doomers Swallow the Sun‘s seventh full-length, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light, “It rips through your chest and burns like a fire.” Fair enough. That chorus sweeps in from an acoustic-led verse and thanks in part to backing from string sounds — that is, whether it’s strings or keyboard — gives a sense of grandeur that very much works to define what follows across the 52-minute/eight-track Century Media release. A largesse of production value helps as well, and that’s nothing new for Swallow the Sun, who since their 2003 debut, The Morning Never Came, have melded emotional resonance, elements of extreme metal — Mikko Kotamäki has made a trademark of switching fluidly between screams, growls and clean singing, and stands among the finest metal vocalists currently active — and clarity of sound into a melancholic vision of death-doom that has only become more their own with time.

Cumbersome as it is, the album’s title derives from the lyrics to “Broken Mirror” from founding guitarist Juha Raivio‘s Trees of Eternity project, and much of the material here deals with the personal loss of Aleah Stanbridge, who was that outfit’s vocalist as well as Raivio‘s partner, and who passed away from cancer prior to the release of their 2016 debut, Hour of the NightingaleRaivio would subsequently form Hallatar and release 2017’s No Stars Upon the Bridge (review here) using her poetry as lyrics. There is an according sense of longing and mournfulness to When a Shadow is Forced into the Light, which follows the late-2015 triple-album, Songs from the North I, II & III (review here), that can be heard in songs like “Firelights,” “Upon the Water” and even the guttural apex of the penultimate “Here on Black Earth.” Swallow the Sun are no strangers to working in an upfront emotional context, and one of their great assets as a band has always been their ability to balance aspects of extremity with a very human heart.

When a Shadow is Forced into the Light cannot and should not ultimately be separated from the circumstances surrounding its making any more than it should be from the rest of Swallow the Sun‘s catalog. In both it and its companion EP, Lumina Aurea (review here), there isn’t so much a feeling of catharsis — that comes later — as a palpable grief. Summarized best perhaps in the direct address in the lyrics to closer “Never Left,” there is little mistaking the in-the-thick-of-it feel of genuine mourning, but as the band — Raivio (who also handles keys and jouhikko, a bowed instrument used in Finnish traditional music), Kotamäki, guitarist Juho Räihä, bassist Matti Honkonen, drummer Juuso Raatikainen and keyboardist Jaani Peuhu, as well as guests here and there — move through “When a Shadow is Forced into the Light” and into “The Crimson Crown” and “Firelights,” neither do they let go of their craft. A complex style of songwriting is fitting for the richness of their sound, and they bask in it, but as noted, the title-track has a hook, and so do “The Crimson Crown,” “Firelights,” “Upon the Water,” “Clouds on Your Side” and “Never Left.”

swallow the sun

“Stone Wings” and “Here on Black Earth” are directed otherwise structurally, but even they have standout moments, whether it’s the throat-ripping screams backed by melodic lines in the latter or the sudden volume swells of the former. And you know, I take it back, “Stone Wings” does have a hook, as well as Raivio‘s jouhikko while it makes its way to its engrossing, double-kick-bolstered crescendo. The point is that although there’s an obvious emotional consumption happening throughout When a Shadow is Forced into the Light, that’s brought into what Swallow the Sun do. They’ve always had a wistful sensibility to them. They’ve always dealt with loss as a working theme, and in some ways, the work they’re doing here is very much consistent with where they’ve been in the past, but the foundation they’re working from is different, and it’s real. The grief is real. The sadness is real. The loss is real. It’s performative by its very nature — as in, it’s an album and people are performing on it — but there’s no sense throughout that Swallow the Sun are doing anything other than seeing Raivio work through this pain.

The tagline for the record has been “love is stronger than death,” as posted by the band in discussions leading up to the release. If that’s their summary of the theme, fair enough — “Never Left” would seem to be the point at which that idea most comes to the fore — and it’s easy to argue that their ability to find balance between this point of view and an already established songwriting modus speaks to the experience and skill of the band as a group. When a Shadow is Forced into the Light is never more mired than it wants to be, never held back. The title-track and “The Crimson Crown” — both over seven minutes long and the only songs to hit that mark aside from “Never Left” as the corresponding bookend — form an initial salvo that characterize so much of the rest of the material.

In its immersive blend of acoustics, string sounds, differing vocal approaches and the smoothness of its overall craft, the song “When a Shadow is Forced into the Light” seems to accomplish everything Swallow the Sun brought to Songs from the North I, II & III in a single track. It is a cinematic arrangement and poised execution that nonetheless has its basis in an emotionalism that’s still raw. But what the song and indeed the rest of the album that shares its name do so well is to take that rawness and shape it into something encompassing and beautiful. If that’s what it means for love to be stronger than death, if that expression is what comes out of the brutality of the loss that’s behind its making, then When a Shadow is Forced into the Light is its own best argument for the maxim’s truth.

Swallow the Sun, “Firelights” official video

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Swallow the Sun Post “Lumina Aurea” Video; EP out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

swallow the sun

There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, while Finland’s Swallow the Sun have always ranged far and wide throughout their career — their last album, 2015’s Songs from the North I, II and III (review here), was a purposefully-overwhelming triple album comprised of acoustic, extreme and a-little-bit-of-both installments — their new EP, Lumina Aurea, which arrives through Century Media just ahead of the full-length, When a Shadow is Forced into the Light, is still a departure. Its vocals arrive in Latin-language spoken word plus some backing black metal-style screams and a chorus — Marco I. Benevento of The Foreshadowing provides the spoken parts — and the song itself is a 13-minute stretch of atmospheric intensity that’s different from anything the Jyväskylä outfit have done in the past. Wardruna‘s Einar Selvik guests on bukkelhorn, adding particularly Scandinavian flair, and the whole affair sounds way more Roadburn than Wacken, if you know what I mean.

It’s a fascinating turn for Swallow the Sun to make as they stand on the cusp of 20 years as a band. If I could sing and scream like Mikko Kotamäki, I’m not sure I’d ever let anyone else singswallow the sun lumina aurea on a record, ever, even background vocals, but he relinquishes the forward position to Benevento and recedes into the mix in best service to “Lumina Aurea” itself, and the ambience that unfolds is every bit as cinematic as the accompanying video shows it to be. I’ve heard the upcoming LP, and as always, it has its sense of atmosphere, but if you’re wondering why Swallow the Sun would release it on its own concurrent to the album, all you really have to do for an answer is listen to the two side-by-side. “Lumina Aurea” is distinct enough to earn its place as an EP separate from the album, and the album’s tracks flow well without 13-minutes of Viking ambience tacked onto the end of them (or the beginning!) because there’d really be no place else to put it. As much defiance of expectation as Swallow the Sun have done over their time, they’ve always kept to a consistency of mood in their releases — generally dark — and Lumina Aurea holds to that as well, but is clearly doing so on its own terms.

The EP is comprised of the full and instrumental versions of the track and is out now. When a Shadow is Forced into the Light is due Jan. 25. The video for “Lumina Aurea” was directed by Aapo Lahtela and Vesa Ranta at Kaira Films, and you can see the full credits as well as other info from the PR wire under the clip below.

Please enjoy:

Swallow the Sun, “Lumina Aurea” official video

SWALLOW THE SUN – Lumina Aurea (OFFICIAL VIDEO). Taken from the EP “Lumina Aurea”, out December 21st, 2018. Order now: https://swallowthesun.lnk.to/LuminaAureaID

Finnish melancholy death-doom metal masters Swallow The Sun have released their epic standalone 14 minute track called “Lumina Aurea”. The song features Wardruna’s Einar Selvik and The Forshadowing’s Marco I. Benevento and marks the band’s darkest and most sinister piece of music they have ever released. Watch the music video for “Lumina Aurea”, which was created by Aapo Lahtela and Vesa Ranta at Kaira Films, HERE.

“‘Lumina Aurea’ is a song I would never want to write in my life,” Juha Raivio states about the track. “It is an open, bleeding black wound from the last two and half years of my life. But I had to write it out. I could not back down from it. The way I wrote and recorded ‘Lumina Aurea’ was so rough emotionally and physically that I think I will never talk about it public. I know this road will go on forever as a part of me, but I have also made a peace with it-that I will never have peace with it. And that the life and the journey here must still go on for a while for those of us remaining. I knew that if I would go any deeper on that road with the album as I did with ‘Lumina Aurea,’ the path would not end well. So, I quickly realized that instead I will write an album that will manifest loud and clear that after all, ‘Love is always stronger than death.’ I wanted to find that angle for ‘When A Shadow Is Forced into the Light’. This album is like a weapon for myself. A burning light, a burning torch. Victorious and proud.”

Directed and produced by Aapo Lahtela & Vesa Ranta.

Swallow the Sun:
Mikko Kotamäki: vox
Matti Honkonen: bass
Juuso Raatikainen: drums
Juho Räihä: gtr
Juha Raivio: gtr/keys/jouhikko
Jaani Peuhu: keys

Music & Lyrics: Juha Raivio
Mixed by: Linus Corneliusson / Fascination Street Studios Mastered by: Tony Lindgren / Fascination Street Studios Screams and Growls recorded at Black Chandelier, Helsinki Guitars and bass recorded at SoundSpiral Audio by Juho Räihä

Latin translation by Claudia Greco

Guest Musicians:
Bukkehorn by Einar Selvik
Latin spoken parts by: Marco I. Benevento
Latin choir by: Marco I. Benevento & The Foreshadowing

“Mors fortior quam vita est, amor fortior quam mors est”

Swallow The Sun Upcoming Tour Dates:
February 7 – Helsinki, Finland – Nosturi
February 8 – Turku, Finland – Apollo
February 9 – Jyvaskyla, Finland – Lutakko*
February 14 – Tampere, Finland – Klubi*
February 15 – Oulu, Finland – Teatria*
February 16 – Kuopio, Finland – Henry’s Pub*
*w/THE MAN-EATING TREE

More dates to be announced soon!

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YOB, Voivod and Amenra Announce Spring 2019 Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

yob alyssa herman photo

Here’s a nifty thought to make your day a little brighter: YOB touring with Voivod on a co-headlining run with support from Amenra. Just to put a check on it, it’s the outfit who defined and continue to reinvent cosmic doom, the band who innovated nerdism in heavy metal and proved that thrash could be progressive, and Europe’s leading purveyor of post-metal. This is not a minor tour. It’s not even the kind of tour you talk about later. It’s the kind of tour that, if you know, you were there, and that’s it. Some experiences don’t need words. “You were at that show?” “Yeah.” And so on.

YOB of course go in support of earlier-2018’s Our Raw Heart (review here), which if the results thus far of the Year-End Poll (add your list!) are anything to go by, yes, you already knew that. Voivod and Amenra have releases too, but really, even if none of them had put out a record in five years, wouldn’t this still be an astounding bill? Yes, yes it would.

Dates are presented by Nanotear and are as follows:

yob voivod amenra tour

Spring 2019: Yob + Voivod + Amenra

03.26 Minneapolis MN Fine Line
03.27 Chicago IL Thalhia Hall
03.28 Columbus OH Ace of Cups
03.29 Cleveland OH Grog Shop
03.30 Toronto ON Phoenix
03.31 Buffalo NY Town Ballroom
04.02 Portland ME Geno’s
04.03 Boston MA Royale
04.04 Brooklyn NY Warsaw
04.05 Philadelphia PA Union Transfer
04.06 Richmond VA Broadberry
04.07 Raleigh NC Kings
04.09 Knoxville TN Concourse (Co-presented with American Icon)
04.10 Atlanta GA Masquerade / Hell
04.11 New Orleans LA One Eyed Jack’s
04.12 Houston TX Warehouse Studios
04.13 Austin TX Barracuda
04.14 Dallas TX Gas Monkey
04.16 Denver CO Marquis Theater*
04.18 Mesa AZ Club Red+
04.19 San Diego CA Brick by Brick w/ Monolord+
+ = YOB only
* = no Voivod

YOB is:
Mike Scheidt – Guitar, Vocals
Aaron Rieseberg – Bass
Travis Foster – Drums

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YOB, Our Raw Heart (2018)

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