Quarterly Review: Slift, Grin, Pontiac, The Polvos, The Cosmic Gospel, Grave Speaker, Surya Kris Peters, GOZD, Sativa Root, Volt Ritual

Posted in Reviews on February 26th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Admittedly, there’s some ambition in my mind calling this the ‘Spring 2024 Quarterly Review.’ I’m done with winter and March starts on Friday, so yeah, it’s kind of a reach as regards the traditional seasonal patterns of Northern New Jersey where I live, but hell, these things actually get decided here by pissing off a rodent. Maybe it doesn’t need to be so rigidly defined after all.

After doing QRs for I guess about nine years now, I finally made myself a template for the back-end layout. It’s not a huge leap, but will mean about five more minutes I can dedicate to listening, and when you’re trying to touch on 50 records in the span of a work week and attempt some semblance of representing what they’re about, five minutes can help. Still, it’s a new thing, and if you see ‘ARTIST’ listed where a band’s name should be or LINK where ‘So and So on Facebook’ goes, a friendly comment letting me know would be helpful.

Thanks in advance and I hope you find something in all of this to come that speaks to you. I’ll try to come up for air at some point.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Slift, Ilion

Slift Ilion

One of the few non-billionaire groups of people who might be able to say they had a good year in 2020, Toulouse, France, spaceblasters Slift signed to Sub Pop on the strength of that wretched year’s Ummon (review here) and the spectacle-laced live shows with which they present their material. Their ideology is cosmic, their delivery markedly epic, and Ilion pushes the blinding light and the rhythmic force directly at you, creating a sweeping momentum contrasted by ambient stretches like that tucked at the end of 12-minute hypnotic planetmaker “The Words That Have Never Been Heard,” the drone finale “Enter the Loop” or any number of spots between along the record’s repetition-churning, willfully-overblown 79-minute course of builds and surging payoffs. A cynic might tell you it’s not anything Hawkwind didn’t do in 1974 offered with modern effects and beefier tones, but, uh, is that really something to complain about? The hype around Ilion hasn’t been as fervent as was for Ummon — it’s a different moment — but Slift have set themselves on a progressive course and in the years to come, this may indeed become their most influential work. For that alone it’s among 2024’s most essential heavy albums, never mind the actual journey of listening. Bands like this don’t happen every day.

Slift on Facebook

Sub Pop Records website

Grin, Hush

grin hush

The only thing keeping Grin from being punk rock is the fact that they don’t play punk. Otherwise, the self-recording, self-releasing (on The Lasting Dose Records) Berlin metal-sludge slingers tick no shortage of boxes as regards ethic, commitment to an uncompromised vision of their sound, and on Hush, their fourth long-player which features tracks from 2023’s Black Nothingness (review here), they sharpen their attack to a point that reminds of dug-in Swedish death metal on “Pyramid” with a winding lead line threaded across, find post-metallic ambience in “Neon Skies,” steamroll with the groove of the penultimate “The Tempest of Time,” and manage to make even the crushing “Midnight Blue Sorrow” — which arrives after the powerful opening statement of “Hush” “Calice” and “Gatekeeper” — have a sense of creative reach. With Sabine Oberg on bass and Jan Oberg handling drums, guitar, vocals, noise and production, they’ve become flexible enough in their craft to harness raw charge or atmospheric sprawl at will, and through 16 songs and 40 minutes (“Portal” is the longest track at 3:45), their intensity is multifaceted, multi-angular, and downright ripping. Aggression suits this project, but that’s never all that’s happening in Grin, and they’re stronger for that.

Grin on Facebook

The Lasting Dose Records on Bandcamp

Pontiac, Hard Knox

pontiac hard knox

A debut solo-band outing from guitarist, bassist, vocalist and songwriter Dave Cotton, also of Seven Nines and Tens, Pontiac‘s Hard Knox lands on strictly limited tape through Coup Sur Coup Records and is only 16 minutes long, but that’s time enough for its six songs to find connections in harmony to Beach Boys and The Beatles while sometimes dropping to a singular, semi-spoken verse in opener/longest track (immediate points, even though four minutes isn’t that long) “Glory Ragged,” which moves in one direction, stops, reorients, and shifts between genres with pastoralism and purpose. Cotton handles six-string and 12-string, but isn’t alone in Pontiac, as his Seven Nines and Tens bandmate Drew Thomas Christie handles drums, Adam Vee adds guitar, drums, a Coke bottle and a Brita filter, and CJ Wallis contributes piano to the drifty textures of “Road High” before “Exotic Tattoos of the Millennias” answers the pre-christofascism country influence shown on “Counterculture Millionaire” with an oldies swing ramble-rolling to a catchy finish. For fun I’ll dare a wild guess that Cotton‘s dad played that stuff when he was a kid, as it feels learned through osmosis, but I have no confirmation of that. It is its own kind of interpretation of progressive music, and as the beginning of a new exploration, Cotton opens doors to a swath of styles that cross genres in ways few are able to do and remain so coherent. Quick listen, and it dares you to keep up with its changes and patterns, but among its principal accomplishments is to make itself organic in scope, with Cotton cast as the weirdo mastermind in the center. They’ll reportedly play live, so heads up.

Pontiac on Bandcamp

Coup Sur Coup Records on Bandcamp

The Polvos!, Floating

the polvos floating

Already fluid as they open with the rocker “Into the Space,” exclamatory Chilean five-piece The Polvos! delve into more psychedelic reaches in “Fire Dance” and the jammy and (appropriately) floaty midsection of “Going Down,” the centerpiece of their 35-minute sophomore LP, Floating. That song bursts to life a short time later and isn’t quite as immediate as the charge of “Into the Space,” but serves as a landmark just the same as “Acid Waterfall” and “The Anubis Death” hold their tension in the drums and let the guitars go adventuring as they will. There’s maybe some aspect of Earthless influence happening, but The Polvos! meld that make-it-bigger mentality with traditional verse/chorus structures and are more grounded for it even as the spaces created in the songs give listeners an opportunity for immersion. It may not be a revolution in terms of style, but there is a conversation happening here with modern heavy psych from Europe as well that adds intrigue, and the band never go so far into their own ether so as to actually disappear. Even after the shreddy finish of “The Anubis Death,” it kind of feels like they might come back out for an encore, and you know, that’d be just fine.

The Polvos! on Facebook

Surpop Records website

Smolder Brains Records on Bandcamp

Clostridium Records store

The Cosmic Gospel, Cosmic Songs for Reptiles in Love

The Cosmic Gospel Cosmic Songs for Reptiles in Love

With a current of buzz-fuzz drawn across its eight component tracks that allow seemingly disparate moves like the Blondie disco keys in “Hot Car Song” to emerge from the acoustic “Core Memory Unlocked” before giving over to the weirdo Casio-beat bounce of “Psychrolutes Marcidus Man,” a kind of ’60s character reimagined as heavy bedroom indie, The Cosmic Gospel‘s Cosmic Songs for Reptiles in Love isn’t without its resentments, but the almost-entirely-solo-project of Mercata, Italy-based multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Medina is more defined by its sweetness of melody and gentle delivery on the whole. An experiment like the penultimate “Wrath and Gods” carries some “Revolution 9” feel, but Medina does well earlier to set a broad context amid the hook of opener “It’s Forever Midnight” and the subsequent, lightly dub beat and keyboard focus on “The Richest Guy on the Planet is My Best Friend,” such that when closer “I Sew Your Eyes So You Don’t See How I Eat Your Heart” pairs the malevolent intent of its title with light fuzzy soloing atop an easy flowing, summery flow, the album has come to make its own kind of sense and define its path. This is exactly what one would most hope for it, and as reptiles are cold-blooded, they should be used to shifts in temperature like those presented throughout. Most humans won’t get it, but you’ve never been ‘most humans,’ have you?

The Cosmic Gospel on Facebook

Bloody Sound website

Grave Speaker, Grave Speaker

grave speaker grave speaker

Massachusetts garage doomers Grave Speaker‘s self-titled debut was issued digitally by the band this past Fall and was snagged by Electric Valley Records for a vinyl release. The Mellotron melancholia that pervades the midsection of the eponymous “Grave Speaker” justifies the wax, but the cult-leaning-in-sound-if-not-theme outfit that marks a new beginning for ex-High n’ Heavy guitarist John Steele unfurl a righteously dirty fuzz over the march of “Blood of Old” at the outset and then immediately up themselves in the riffy stoner delve of “Earth and Mud.” The blown-out vocals on the latter, as well as the far-off-mic rawness of “The Bard’s Theme” that surrounds its Hendrixian solo, remind of a time when Ice Dragon roamed New England’s troubled woods, and if Grave Speaker will look to take on a similar trajectory of scope, they do more than drop hints of psychedelia here, in “Grave Speaker” and elsewhere, but they’re no more beholden to that than the Sabbathism of capper “Make Me Crawl” or the cavernous echo of “Earthbound.” It’s an initial collection, so one expects they’ll range some either way with time, but the way the production becomes part of the character of the songs speaks to a strong idea of aesthetic coming through, and the songwriting holds up to that.

Grave Speaker on Instagram

Electric Valley Records website

Surya Kris Peters, There’s Light in the Distance

Surya Kris Peters There's Light in the Distance

While at the same time proffering his most expansive vision yet of a progressive psychedelia weighted in tone, emotionally expressive and able to move its focus fluidly between its layers of keyboard, synth and guitar such that the mix feels all the more dynamic and the material all the more alive (there’s an entire sub-plot here about the growth in self-production; a discussion for another time), Surya Kris Peters‘ 10-song/46-minute There’s Light in the Distance also brings the former Samsara Blues Experiment guitarist/vocalist closer to uniting his current projects than he’s yet been, the distant light here blurring the line where Surya Kris Peters ends and the emergently-rocking Fuzz Sagrado begins. This process has been going on for the last few years following the end of his former outfit and a relocation from Germany to Brazil, but in its spacious second half as well as the push of its first, a song like “Mode Azul” feels like there’s nothing stopping it from being played on stage beyond personnel. Coinciding with that are arrangement details like the piano at the start of “Life is Just a Dream” or the synth that gives so much movement under the echoing lead in “Let’s Wait Out the Storm,” as Peters seems to find new avenues even as he works his way home to his own vision of what heavy rock can be.

Fuzz Sagrado on Facebook

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

Gozd, Unilateralis

gozd unilateralis

Unilateralis is the four-song follow-up EP to Polish heavydelvers Gozd‘s late-2023 debut album, This is Not the End, and its 20-plus minutes find a place for themselves in a doom that feels both traditional and forward thinking across eight-minute opener and longest track (immediate points, even for an EP) “Somewhere in Between” before the charge of “Rotten Humanity” answers with brasher thrust and aggressive-undercurrent stoner rock with an airy post-metallic break in the middle and rolling ending. From there, “Thanatophobia” picks up the energy from its ambient intro and explodes into its for-the-converted nod, setting up a linear build after its initial verses and seeing it through with due diligence in noise, and closer “Tentative Minds” purposefully hypnotizes with its vague-speech in the intro and casual bassline and drum swing before the riff kicks in for the finale. The largesse of its loudest moments bolster the overarching atmosphere no less than the softest standalone guitar parts, and Gozd seem wholly comfortable in the spaces between microgenres. A niche among niches, but that’s also how individuality happens, and it’s happening here.

Gozd on Facebook

BSFD Records on Facebook

Sativa Root, Kings of the Weed Age

Sativa Root Kings of the Weed Age

You wouldn’t accuse Austria’s Sativa Root of thematic subtlety on their third album, Kings of the Weed Age, which broadcasts a stoner worship in offerings like “Megalobong” and “Weedotaur” and probably whatever “F.A.T.” stands for, but that’s not what they’re going for anyway. With its titular intro starting off, spoken voices vague in the ambience, “Weedotaur”‘s 11 minutes lumber with all due bong-metallian slog, and the crush becomes central to the proceedings if not necessarily unipolar in terms of the band’s approach. That is to say, amid the onslaught of volume and tonal density in “Green Smegma” and the spin-your-head soloing in “Assassins Weed” (think Assassins Creed), the instrumentalist course undertaken may be willfully monolithic, but they’re not playing the same song five times on six tracks and calling it new. “F.A.T.” begins on a quiet stretch of guitar that recalls some of YOB‘s epics, complementing both the intro and “Weedotaur,” before bringing its full weight down on the listener again as if to underscore the message of its stoned instrumental catharsis on its way out the door. They sound like they could do this all day. It can be overwhelming at times, but that’s not really a complaint.

Sativa Root on Facebook

Sativa Root on Bandcamp

Volt Ritual, Return to Jupiter

volt ritual return to jupiter

Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Mateusz, bassist Michał and drummer Tomek, Polish riffcrafters Volt Ritual are appealingly light on pretense as they offer Return to Jupiter‘s four tracks, and though as a Star Trek fan I can’t get behind their lyrical impugning of Starfleet as they imagine what Earth colonialism would look like to a somehow-populated Jupiter, they’re not short on reasons to be cynical, if in fact that’s what’s happening in the song. “Ghostpolis” follows the sample-laced instrumental opener “Heavy Metal is Good for You” and rolls loose but accessible even in its later shouts before the more uptempo “Gwiazdolot” swaps English lyrics for Polish (casting off another cultural colonialization, arguably) and providing a break ahead of the closing title-track, which is longer at 7:37 and a clear focal point for more than just bearing the name of the EP, summarizing as it does the course of the cuts before it and even bringing a last scream as if to say “Ghostpolis” wasn’t a fluke. Their 2022 debut album began with “Approaching Jupiter,” and this Return feels organically built off that while trying some new ideas in its effects and general structure. One hopes the plot continues in some way next time along this course.

Volt Ritual on Facebook

Volt Ritual on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: David Eugene Edwards, Beastwars, Sun Dial, Fuzzy Grass, Morne, Appalooza, Space Shepherds, Rey Mosca, Fawn Limbs & Nadja, Dune Pilot

Posted in Reviews on December 1st, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Well, this is it. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do Monday and Tuesday, or just Monday, or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or the whole week next week or what. I don’t know. But while I figure it out — and not having this planned is kind of a novelty for me; something against my nature that I’m kind of forcing I think just to make myself uncomfortable — there are 10 more records to dig through today and it’s been a killer week. Yeah, that’s the other thing. Maybe it’s better to quit while I’m ahead.

I’ll kick it back and forth while writing today and getting the last of what I’d originally slated covered, then see how much I still have waiting to be covered. You can’t ever get everything. I keep learning that every year. But if I don’t do it Monday and Tuesday, it’ll either be last week of December or maybe second week of January, so it’s not long until the next one. Never is, I guess.

If this is it for now or not, thanks for reading. I hope you found music that has touched your life and/or made your day better.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

David Eugene Edwards, Hyacinth

David Eugene Edwards Hyacinth

There are not a ton of surprises to behold in what’s positioned as a first solo studio offering from David Eugene Edwards, whose pedigree would be impressive enough if it only included either 16 Horsepower or Wovenhand but of course is singular in including both. But you don’t need surprises. Titled Hyacinth and issued through Sargent House, the voice, the presence, the sense of intimacy and grandiosity both accounted for as Edwards taps acoustic simplicity in “Bright Boy,” though even that is accompanied by the programmed electronics that provides backing through much of the included 11 tracks. Atop and within these expanses, Edwards broods poetic and explores atmospheres that are heavy in a different way from what Wovenhand has become, chasing tone or intensity. On Hyacinth, it’s more about the impact of the slow-rolling beat in “Celeste” and the blend of organic/inorganic than just how loud a part is or isn’t. Whether a solo career under his name will take the place of Wovenhand or coincide, I don’t know.

David Eugene Edwards on Instagram

Sargent House website

Beastwars, Tyranny of Distance

beastwars tyranny of distance

Whatever led Beastwars to decide it was time to do a covers EP, fine. No, really, it’s fine. It’s fine that it’s 32 minutes long. It’s fine that I’ve never heard The Gordons, or Julia Deans, or Superette, or The 3Ds or any of the other New Zealand-based artists the Wellington bashers are covering. It’s fine. It’s fine that it sounds different than 2019’s IV (review here). It should. It’s been nearly five years and Beastwars didn’t write these eight songs, though it seems safe to assume they did a fair bit of rearranging since it all sounds so much like Beastwars. But the reason it’s all fine is that when it’s over, whether I know the original version of “Waves” or the blues-turns-crushing “High and Lonely” originally by Nadia Reid, or not, when it’s all over, I’ve got over half an hour more recorded Beastwars music than I had before Tyranny of Distance showed up, and if you don’t consider that a win, you probably already stopped reading. That’s fine too. A sidestep for them in not being an epic landmark LP, and a chance for new ideas to flourish.

Beastwars on Facebook

Beastwars BigCartel store

Sun Dial, Messages From the Mothership

sun dial messages from the mothership

Because Messages From the Mothership stacks its longer songs (six-seven minutes) in the back half of its tracklisting, one might be tempted to say Sun Dial push further out as they go, but the truth is that ’60s pop-inflected three-minute opener “Echoes All Around” is pretty out there, and the penultimate “Saucer Noise” — the longest inclusion at 7:47 — is no less melodically present than the more structure-forward leadoff. The difference, principally, is a long stretch of keyboard, but that’s well within the UK outfit’s vintage-synth wheelhouse, and anyway, “Demagnitized” is essentially seven minutes of wobbly drone at the end of the record, so they get weirder, as prefaced in the early going by, well, the early going itself, but also “New Day,” which is more exploratory than the radio-friendly-but-won’t-be-on-the-radio harmonies of “Living for Today” and the duly shimmering strum of “Burning Bright.” This is familiar terrain for Sun Dial, but they approach it with a perspective that’s fresh and, in the title-track, a little bit funky to boot.

Sun Dial on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

Echodelick Records website

Fuzzy Grass, The Revenge of the Blue Nut

Fuzzy Grass The Revenge of the Blue Nut

With rampant heavy blues and a Mk II Deep Purple boogie bent, Toulouse, France’s Fuzzy Grass present The Revenge of the Blue Nut, and there’s a story there but to be honest I’m not sure I want to know. The heavy ’70s persist as an influence — no surprise for a group who named their 2018 debut 1971 — and pieces like “I’m Alright” and “The Dreamer” feel at least in part informed by Graveyard‘s slow-soul-to-boogie-blowout methodology. Raw fuzz rolls out in 11-minute capper “Moonlight Shades” with a swinging nod that’s a highlight even after “Why You Stop Me” just before, and grows noisy, expansive, eventually furious as it approaches the end, coherent in the verse and cacophonous in just about everything else. But the rawness bolsters the character of the album in ways beyond enhancing the vintage-ist impression, and Fuzzy Grass unite decades of influences with vibrant shred and groove that’s welcoming even at its bluest.

Fuzzy Grass on Facebook

Kozmik Artifactz store

Morne, Engraved with Pain

Morne Engraved With Pain

If you go by the current of sizzling electronic pops deeper in the mix, even the outwardly quiet intro to Morne‘s Engraved with Pain is intense. The Boston-based crush-metallers have examined the world around them thoroughly ahead of this fifth full-length, and their disappointment is brutally brought to realization across four songs — “Engraved with Pain” (10:42), “Memories Like Stone” (10:48), “Wretched Empire” (7:45) and “Fire and Dust” (11:40) — written and executed with a dark mastery that goes beyond the weight of the guitar and bass and drums and gutturally shouted vocals to the aura around the music itself. Engraved with Pain makes the air around it feel heavier, basking in an individualized vision of metal that’s part Ministry, part Gojira, lots of Celtic Frost, progressive and bleak in kind — the kind of superlative and consuming listening experience that makes you wonder why you ever listen to anything else except that you’re also exhausted from it because Morne just gave you an existential flaying the likes of which you’ve not had in some time. Artistry. Don’t be shocked when it’s on my ‘best of the year’ list in a couple weeks. I might just go to a store and buy the CD.

Morne on Facebook

Metal Blade Records website

Appalooza, The Shining Son

appalooza the shining son

Don’t tell the swingin’-dick Western swag of “Wounded,” but Appalooza are a metal band. To wit, The Shining Son, their very-dudely follow-up to 2021’s The Holy of Holies (review here) and second outing for Ripple Music. Opener “Pelican” has more in common with Sepultura than Kyuss, or Pelican for that matter. “Unbreakable” and “Wasted Land” both boast screams worthy of Devin Townsend, while the acoustic/electric urgency in “Wasted Land” and the tumultuous scope of the seven-plus-minute track recall some of Primordial‘s battle-aftermath mourning. “Groundhog Days” has an airy melody and is more decisively heavy rock, and the hypnotic post-doom apparent-murder-balladry of “Killing Maria” answers that at the album’s close, and “Framed” hits heavy blues à la a missed outfit like Dwellers, but even in “Sunburn” there’s an immediacy to the rhythm between the guitar and percussion, and though they’re not necessarily always aggressive in their delivery, nor do they want to be. Metal they are, if only under the surface, and that, coupled with the care they put into their songwriting, makes The Shining Son stand out all the more in an ever-crowded Euro underground.

Appalooza on Facebook

Ripple Music website

Space Shepherds, Washed Up on a Shore of Stars

Space Shepherds Washed Up on a Shore of Stars

An invitation to chill the beans delivered to your ears courtesy of Irish cosmic jammers Space Shepherds as two longform jams. “Wading Through the Infinite Sea” nestles into a funky groove and spends who-even-cares-how-much-time of its total 27 minutes vibing out with noodling guitar and a steady, languid, periodically funk-leaning flow. I don’t know if it was made up on the spot, but it sure sounds like it was, and though the drums get a little restless as keys and guitar keep dreaming, the elements gradually align and push toward and through denser clouds of dust and gas on their way to being suns, a returning lick at the end looking slightly in the direction of Elder but after nearly half an hour it belongs to no one so much as Space Shepherds themselves. ‘Side B,’ as it were, is “Void Hurler” (18:41), which is more active early around circles being drawn on the snare, and it has a crescendo and a synthy finish, but is ultimately more about the exploration and little moments along the way like the drums decided to add a bit of push to what might’ve otherwise been the comedown, or the fuzz buzzing amid the drone circa 10 minutes in. You can sit and listen and follow each waveform on its journey or you can relax and let the whole thing carry you. No wrong answer for jams this engaging.

Space Shepherds on Facebook

Space Shepherds on Bandcamp

Rey Mosca, Volumen! Sesion AMB

rey mosca volumen sesiones amb

Young Chilean four-piece Rey Mosca — the lineup of Josué Campos, Valentín Pérez, Damián Arros and Rafael Álvarez — hold a spaciousness in reserve for the midsection of teh seven-minute “Sol del Tiempo,” which is the third of the three songs included in their live-recorded Volumen! Sesion AMB EP. A ready hint is dropped of a switch in methodology since both “Psychodoom” and ” Perdiendo el Control” are under two minutes long. Crust around the edge of the riff greets the listener with “Psychodoom,” which spends about a third of its 90 seconds on its intro and so is barely started by the time it’s over. Awesome. “Perdiendo el Control” is quicker into its verse and quicker generally and gets brasher in its second half with some hardcore shout-alongs, but it too is there and gone, where “Sol del Tiempo” is more patient from the outset, flirting with ’90s noise crunch in its finish but finding a path through a developing interpretation of psychedelic doom en route. I don’t know if “Sol del Tiempo” would fit on a 7″, but it might be worth a shot as Rey Mosca serve notice of their potential hopefully to flourish.


Rey Mosca on Bandcamp

Fawn Limbs & Nadja, Vestigial Spectra

Fawn Limbs & Nadja Vestigial Spectra

Principally engaged in the consumption and expulsion of expectations, Fawn Limbs and Nadja — experimentalists from Finland and Germany-via-Canada, respectively — drone as one might think in opener “Isomerich,” and in the subsequent “Black Body Radiation” and “Cascading Entropy,” they give Primitive Man, The Body or any other extremely violent, doom-derived bludgeoners you want to name a run for their money in terms of sheer noisy assault. Somebody’s been reading about exoplanets, as the drone/harsh noise pairing “Redshifted” and “Blueshifted” (look it up, it’s super cool) reset the aural trebuchet for its next launch, the latter growing caustic on the way, ahead of “Distilled in Observance” renewing the punishment in earnest. And it is earnest. They mean every second of it as Fawn Limbs and Nadja grind souls to powder with all-or-nothing fury, dropping overwhelming drive to round out “Distilled in Observance” before the 11-minute “Metastable Ion Decay” bursts out from the chest of its intro drone to devour everybody on the ship except Sigourney Weaver. I’m not lying to you — this is ferocious. You might think you’re up for it. One sure way to find out, but you should know you’re being tested.

Fawn Limbs on Facebook

Nadja on Facebook

Sludgelord Records on Facebook

Dune Pilot, Magnetic

dune pilot magnetic

Do they pilot, a-pilot, do they the dune? Probably. Regardless, German heavy rockers Dune Pilot offer their third full-length and first for Argonauta Records in the 11-song Magnetic, taking cues from modern fuzz in the vein of Truckfighters for “Visions” after the opening title-track sets the mood and establishes the mostly-dry sound of the vocals as they cut through the guitar and bass tones. A push of voice becomes a defining feature of Magnetic, which isn’t such a departure from 2018’s Lucy, though the rush of “Next to the Liquor Store” and the breadth in the fuzz of “Highest Bid” and the largesse of the nod in “Let You Down” assure that Dune Pilot don’t come close to wearing down their welcome in the 46 minutes, cuts like the bluesy “So Mad” and the big-chorus ideology of “Heap of Shards” coexisting drawn together by the vitality of the performances behind them as well as the surety of their craft. It is heavy rock that feels specifically geared toward the lovers thereof.

Dune Pilot on Facebook

Argonauta Records website

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Adelaida Sign to Spinda Records; Release New Album Retrovisor

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

adelaida (Photo by perroloboph)

Retrovisor is the fifth full-length from Chilean four-piece Adelaida, and in a surprising twist on the norm for a release announcement, it’s already out. That’s right. Not a single. Not two or three. The full record. You can stream it now and the vinyl will be out in February through Spinda Records, which announced it picked up the band at the end of last week. The band’s sound is varied in texture — room for The Cure and Nirvana in there, among others — but deeply informed by alt and psych rock, and has a kind of low-key progressive range that, to be honest I’m not even sure why I’m going on about it since you can just friggin’ listen to the thing. It exists.

Been trying to get this posted for days, obviously, but it’s something worth checking out if you have time. ‘South American heavy’ is often thought of as a monolith that it absolutely isn’t — as though an entire continent has one thing to say or one way to say it — and Adelaida remind of this with their melodic flourish and atmospheric push, songwriting and ambience.


adelaida retrovisor

Chile-based band Adelaida released their fifth studio album ‘Retrovisor’ yesterday, announcing a surprise signing with Spinda Records. The album will be coming out on vinyl and CD in February 2024. For fans of 90s spectrum, grunge, indie rock and shoegaze.

Preorder: https://spindarecords.com/product/adelaida-retrovisor/

Bandcamp: https://spindarecords.bandcamp.com/album/retrovisor

Chile’s music scene lights up once again with the vibrant energy of Adelaida, indie band currently formed by Anke Steinhöfel, Jurel Sónico, Joaquín Roa and Tomás Pérez. In 2021 they won Premios Escuchar to best rock album with ‘Animita’ and best rock artist. And now, they’re presenting their fifth studio album, ‘Retrovisor’.

This highly anticipated full-length, available since yesterday in all majors streaming platforms via Disco Intrépido, promises to immerse the listener in a unique experience that will find its definite place in the hearts of their existing fans and in the of the new listeners approaching the band’s sound for the first time from this side of the pond. In ‘Retrovisor’ Adelaida takes a step forward, blending the evocative 90’s sounds of grunge, indie-rock and shoegaze with poetic and introspecive lyrics. However, for those looking to enjoy it in physical format, they’ll have to wait until February 2024 when its respective vinyl and compact disc editions will arrive -preorder here- through Spinda Records. In a surprising announcement just a couple of days ago, the label revealed the signing of the band from Santiago de Chile.

Advanced single “Desdén”, “Girasoles” and “Caída libre” already hinted that ‘Retrovisor’ was a true sonic odyssey that transports the listener through time, capturing the raw and emotive essence of the 90s while infusing a contemporary touch. In doing so, Adelaida align themselves with the new wave of alternatie rock from the Americas alongside bands like Fin del Mundo, El Shirota, Las Ligas Menores, Margaritas Podridas or La Ciencia Simple. The fact that they enlisted the talents of Pablo Giadach and Federico Zeppelin in the recording; Daniel Velásquez and Jurel Sónico in the mixing; and none other than Jack Endino in the mastering likely played a significant role – yes, the same Endino who worked with bands like Mudhoney, Nirvana, Tad, Melvins, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees or Mark Lanegan.

‘Retrovisor’ consists of 9 new songs and 4 tracks from ‘Monolito’, their iconic debut album that now celebrates a decade and which the band has revisited, giving a second life to some tracks that now sound more similar to their live performances. The digital edition includes a surprise titled “Brilla”, in which Adelaida takes on a contemporary classic by Chile band Suárez.

1. Retrovisor
2. Océano mundial
3. La montaña
4. Caída libre
5. Espirales
6. Resplandor
7. Mi ventana
8. Girasoles
9. 12 días
10. Frutos de otoño
11. Solo por hoy
12. Pólvora
13. Brilla
14. Desdén

‘Retrovisor’, whose digital edition is now available, will be released on February 16, 2024, on compact disc and on a limited-edition-vinyl (350 copies in red, and 150 copies in black), which will be part of the ‘Noisy Series’ by Spinda Records. Physical formats can be pre-ordered on the website as well on as on the Bandcamp of the Andalusian label.

Preorder: https://spindarecords.com/product/adelaida-retrovisor/

Bandcamp: https://spindarecords.bandcamp.com/album/retrovisor



Adelaida, Retrovisor (2023)

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Track Premiere & Review: Some Pills for Ayala, Sleep Walkers

Posted in Reviews on June 14th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Some Pills for Ayala Sleep Walkers

[Click play above to stream the title-track of Some Pills for Ayala’s Sleep Walkers. Album is out July 7 available to preorder on Bandcamp.]

Sleepwalking has long been a ready-to-use analogue for conformity, and while there may be that aspect to the lyrics of Some Pills for Ayala‘s second full-length, Sleep Walkers, given the title, the astronaut and weed on the cover and the ultra-fuzzed largesse that ensues on album opener “A Flower in My Left Eye” and much of what follows, one wonders if the Chile-based outfit isn’t also nodding at the band Sleep as well. Certainly that leadoff could be said to be taking Sleep for a walk in its steady roll of stonerized buzz, and the later title-track accompanies its meditative bassline with a Cisernos-style monotone-ish vocal — also organ or maybe Mellotron — so there may be some in-genre communion happening across the nine-song/45-minute long-player from the Santiago-based solo-project of Néstor Ayala Cortés.

It follows behind 2022’s The Crows That Sing and two 2021 EPs, Space Octopus EP (review here) and a self-titled, and finds Cortés once again handling all instruments himself and helming the recording process at his Camino la Luna home studio. If that sounds somewhat insular as making a record by yourself at home might be, Sleep Walkers counteracts that both in being mixed by David Veliz at Planetario Fuzz Recs in Horcón and through its general expansiveness of sound. In its arrangements, it is a full-band style collection, as all Some Pills for Ayala‘s output has been to-date, give-or-take; drums, bass, guitar, keys, vocals, and so on. Cortés even manages an effective psych-tinged self-jam in the solo section of closer “The Way I See the Sound” before the repetitions of the synesthetic lyric “I hear color and see sound” and, after a break of silence, jams again as a kind of epilogue/secret reprise.

“A Flower in My Left Eye” opens heavy, and that’s ground that Some Pills for Ayala touches again on “Let Me Free,” punctuated by sharp, maybe-programmed snare sounds and underscored in its multi-layer-vocal verse by dense rumble of low end, as well as side B’s “Smile and Lie” and the penultimate “Sore.” What these songs have in common aside from their methodology is that they’re shorter than the five cuts that surround them; “A Flower in My Left Eye” is 4:07, none of the other of Sleep Walkers‘ heaviest tracks tops four minutes, and they move accordingly in terms of tempo.

To contrast, more psychedelic-leaning songs like “Into Oblivion” or the bassy centerpiece “Reflections,” or even the strutting second track “Blood or Love” — previously issued as a standalone single under the title “No More Love… No More Blood?” — with its right-on swing and ride cymbal foreshadow of “Sleep Walkers” to come, early Om meeting with Uncle Acid a bit in its instrumental/vocal blend between the verse and chorus, come through with a focus more on expanse than impact, and in the mellow fluidity of “Into Oblivion,” Cortés is patient and considered in crafting an immersive space for the listener.

His style of melody will be familiar to those who’ve heard At Devil Dirt, and some of the weightier punch throughout Sleep Walkers could be called a carry-over as well, but the branching-out in terms of sound is palpable, and if heavy is the stem of one of the pot leaves on the cover, than the multiple points surrounding might be different facets of it that are brought together on the album. That “The Way I See the World” ends the record and is also the longest track at 8:54 doesn’t feel like a coincidence, but the songs are also arranged alphabetically — as becomes apparent when one looks at side B with “Sleep Walkers,” “Smile and Lie” and “Sore” in succession — so it may well be. Aural kismet? Stranger things have definitely happened.

some pills for ayala

Through these various shifts and twists in style, Sleep Walkers is able to pivot smoothly in no small part owing to Cortés‘ strength as a songwriter. Again, that won’t be a revelation for those who followed from At Devil Dirt or who took on The Crows That Sing last year, but for being genuinely ‘solo’ in the writing, performance and recording, is distinctly full-band in its presentation to the degree that, if a lineup (or a laptop) were assembled, the songs could be played live. Whether there’s any interest on the part of Cortés in doing so, I don’t know, but it exists as a possibility, and on a record with such depth of mix, where one might not immediately characterize it as the work of one person alone, the spirit in the material is less insular than the phrase “solo-project” implies.

This is mirrored as well in the delivery of the material. “Reflections” as the centerpiece is representative in its sprawl and hypnotic repetitions across its first 90 seconds before it turns to fully-realized twists of fuzz and layers of vocal melody and effects. It is big, grand in an organic manner, and actively working to engage its audience. “Smile and Lie” and “Sore,” the pair of shorter, harder-hitting cuts before the finale, are no less emblematic of Some Pills for Ayala‘s quality of craft. They are neither haphazard nor lazy, they swing with vital fervency and in the case of the latter especially, speak to a living history of South American heavy rock and roll of which At Devil Dirt and Cortés‘ efforts here are part.

In “The Way I See the World,” Sleep Walkers encounters its greatest expanse and highlights the creativity at root beneath its construction. Languid, melodious guitar stretches out atop likewise flowing groove, bass and drums working to complement the exploration happening above in the mix as the vocals lend presence before the instrumental takeoff of the second half, from which — counter to accusations one might level against a solo-project as self-indulgent — the vocals return in the above-noted lyrical repetition before the song departs, somewhat suddenly, to silence, then noise, before picking up and light-chugging its way out to residual feedback and noise that end just before the nine-minute mark.

Given the breadth and seemingly willful changes in stylistic lean from one song to the next that happen throughout Sleep Walkers, I’m less inclined to guess what might be on a subsequent release from Some Pills for Ayala than I am to suggest simply that Cortés will keep it going. It’s a universe of infinite possibility, of course, but given the heart and obvious passion for the work that’s been put into this material, I would expect continued growth along the varied course charted here. So much the better as Sleep Walkers follows The Crows That Sing and looks further outward. That, too, may well continue. At present though, accessibility is an asset, not a detriment, to this second album, and multiple avenues of potential progression are laid out among those already realized.

Some Pills for Ayala, Sleep Walkers (2023)

Some Pills for Ayala on Instagram

Some Pills for Ayala on Bandcamp

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Muerte Espiral Premiere “Conjuro” Video; Debut Album Inframundo Out April 28

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 24th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

muerte espiral (Photo by Aline Ruf)

This Friday, Chilean/Swiss avant noisemakers Muerte Espiral this week will release their debut album, Inframundo, which is composed of eight songs running 36 minutes cast between sludgy heft, heavy rock fluidity, harsher shout-topped noise and grunge. The trio recorded the outing live — which is a neat trick across continents; one assumes somebody traveled — but that was in 2017, so the outing, while a debut, is also somewhat archival. That is not the last seeming contradiction related to Inframundo by any means, but they manage to make it make at least their own kind of sense, and to that, I’ll point out the hand-animated claymation video below for the penultimate track on the record, “Conjuro.”

At 2:46, “Conjuro” is the second-shortest inclusion in Inframundo behind only the album intro “Hipnosis,” and it is by no means a representative sample of the entirety of the album. No single track on it is. From the post-punk-turned-noise-rock-onslaught that is “La Náuseas” through the pairing of “Mantenlo Real” and “Tierra de Nadie” that seem to delight in contrasting aggression and melody in a multi-tiered dynamic between guitarist/vocalist Jurel Sónico, bassist/guitarist Mia Moustache and drummer David Burger, the latter of whom punctuates the doomer thuds of “Mantenlo Real” before winding up and digging back into the pure shove of the verse, opening to a roller nod, and so on through an almost boogie-rock chorus there, because damnit, life is complicated.

“Tierra de Nadie” caps side A with a hook that is quintessential Chilean heavy rock and a lumbering thickness around that moves with deceptive swing around its bombastic ending, and then they’re off immediately on “Cráneo,” the bassline of which reminds of nothing so much as Primus‘ “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver,” at least at the outset before the layered vocal melody of the verse unfolds, the riff semi-progressive in its severity as complemented by toms before turning back around after the hook. They break out a big nod in the second half of “Cráneo” as well, but the context has shifted, and the vocals have somewhat mellowed — Sónico has a high-register bark that reminds my metro-NY ears of some of what Negative Reaction used to get up to — while the guitar in that same second half hints at the meditative vibe of “Conjuro” still to come, but quickly, and on the way to its own ending.

It would be improper to call “El Camino” an outlier, but mostly because Muerte Espiral Inframundothe entire album is outliers. It begins with the kind of guitar line that usually means someone in a band likes The Cure — not a complaint — before digging into proggier drumming and a churning build of tension into its first lines, already past two minutes into the total 5:48 by the time it gets there. Like any good book, Inframundo teaches the listener how to read it, and “Mantenlo Real” and “Tierra de Nadie” left clear instructions to watch for big turns in the longer tracks. “El Camino” might not hit six minutes long, but it delivers comeuppance just the same, with half-time cymbal crash behind a precisely-struck slowdown and crescendo, which feels like it might just keep going until it suddenly cuts into “Conjuro”; more than an interlude, a (‘nother) departure in vibe and ready to range as so much of the record to this point has been.

Twisting around the guitar line atop the solid percussive foundation, there’s room to bring it all back around to the hard-hitting pummel and yap, and Muerte Espiral do so in capper “Faz Roída,” growing noisier and grungier until at last the feedback seems to just kind of eat the song. Everything else cuts out and that’s it, but they’ve by then made the nod no less hypnotic than the drone in the album-intro would seem to have intended, and in between the two sides, demonstrated a range and particularly adventurous take on umpteen heavy styles. They don’t make it easy to keep up, necessarily — they’re not out here to be doing favors — Inframundo succeeds because it’s working so pointedly on its own level.

Generally one thinks of a first full-length as a tentative moment for a group. Bands all the time are ‘feeling it out’ on their debut records. And that’s a perfectly reasonable approach, but not necessarily what’s happening here. For sure, Muerte Espiral are exploring a new creative conversation, but there’s nothing tentative about it. They dive in outright and barely come up for air before they’re done. Given that their only other release to-date was 2017’s Invocaci​ó​n EP — apparently a pretty productive year for them between recording and releasing that and recording this — one can’t help but wonder what might be if they’d been pumping out records all the while over the last six years, but new songs or old, Inframundo is able to sound fresh because of its individualized take. They don’t make the rock you expect, and that becomes one of their greatest strengths.

The homemade video for “Conjuro” follows here. Please enjoy:

Muerte Espiral, “Conjuro” video premiere

Mia Moustache on “Conjuro”:

About the Video, it is selfmade DIY by me and Jurel Sonico, the singer and guit player of Muerte Espiral.

It just happened that we did this song and the video for it one day and thought it’s cool, we should show this, haha.

So no special story about it. We both love the desert and know about the crazy and meditative side of life so that’s what we did put in to it via Clay and other little things we found randomly at our homes and used goods stores. It took quite some days to finish it.

Muerte Espiral
1. Hipnosis 1:10
2. Las Náuseas 3:41
3. Mantenlo Real 6:21
4. Tierra De Nadie 6:10
5. Cráneo 4:22
6. El Camino 5:48
7. Conjuro 2:46
8. Faz Roída 6:13

Recorded live in Switzerland during summer 2017 at BlueShelter Studio.
Recording, Mix & Master by Marc Obrist
Artwork realisation & design by Manuel Guldimann

Bajo & Guit by Mia Moustache
Voz & Guit by Jurel Sónico
Batería by David Burger

Muerte Espiral, Invocación (2017)

Muerte Espiral on Facebook

Muerte Espiral on Instagram

Muerte Espiral on Bandcamp

Muerte Espiral on Spotlify

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Quarterly Review: Dommengang, Ryan Kent, 1782, Seum, Old Mine Universe, Saint Karloff, Astral Sleep, Devoidov, Wolfnaut, Fuzz Voyage

Posted in Reviews on April 18th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


So here we are. A fascinating and varied trip this has been, and while I’m tempted to find some greater meaning in it as regards the ongoing evolution of genre(s) in heavy underground music, the truth is that the overarching message is really that it’s impossible to keep up with that complexity as it unfolds. Hitting 70 releases on this last day with another 50 to come in a couple weeks, I feel like there’s just so much out there right now, and that that is the primary signifier of the current era.

Whether it’s pandemic-born projects or redirects, or long-established artists making welcome returns, or who knows what from who knows where, the world is brimming with creativity and is pushing the bounds of heavy with like-proportioned force and intent. This hasn’t always been easy to write, but as I look at the lineup below of the final-for-now installment of the QR, I’m just happy to be alive. Thanks for reading. I hope you have also found something that resonates.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Dommengang, Wished Eye

Dommengang Wished Eye

A fourth full-length from Dommengang — are they in L.A. now? Portland, Oregon? does it matter? — neatly encapsulates the heavy psychedelic scope and the organic-vibing reach that stands them out from the pack, as somehow throughout the nine songs of Wished Eye, the Thrill Jockey denizen trio are able to inhabit a style that’s the Americana pastoral wakeup of “Runaway,” the hill-howling “Society Blues,” the drift-fuzz of over solid drums of “Last Card,” the dense tube-burning Hendrixism of “Myth Time,” and the minimalist guitar of “Little Beirut.” And oh, it keeps going; each track contributing something to the lush-but-natural spirit of the whole work. “Blue & Peaceful” brings acoustics to its midsection jam, while “Petrichor” is the West Coast freedom rock you’ve been waiting for, the title-track goes inland for nighttime desertscaping that finishes in hypnotic loops on a likewise hypnotic fade, and “Flower” proves to be more vine, winding its way around the lead guitar line as the vocals leave off with a highlight performance prior a fire-blues solo that finishes the record as the amps continue to scream. Undervalued? Why yes, Dommengang are, and Wished Eye makes the argument in plain language. With a sonic persona able to draw from country, blues, psych, indie, doom, fuzz, on and on, they’ve never sounded so untethered to genre, and it wasn’t exactly holding them back in the first place.

Dommengang on Facebook

Thrill Jockey website


Ryan Kent, Dying Comes With Age

ryan kent dying comes with age

Formerly the frontman of Richmond, Virginia, sludgers Gritter, Ryan Kent — who already has several books of poetry on his CV — casts himself through Dying Comes With Age as a kind of spoken word ringmaster, and he’s brought plenty of friends along to help the cause. The readings in the title-track, “Son of a Bitch” and the title-track and “Couch Time” are semi-spoken, semi-sung, and the likes of Laura Pleasants (The Discussion, ex-Kylesa) lends backing vocals to the former while Jimmy Bower (Down, EyeHateGod) complements with a low-key fuzzy bounce. I’ll admit to hoping the version of “My Blue Heaven” featuring Windhand‘s Dorthia Cottrell was a take on the standard, but it’s plenty sad regardless and her voice stands alone as though Kent realized it was best to just give her the space and let it be its own thing on the record. Mike IX Williams of EyeHateGod is also on his own (without music behind) to close out with the brief “Cigarettes Roll Away the Time,” and Eugene S. Robinson of Oxbow/Buñuel recounting an homage apparently to Kent‘s grandfather highlights the numb feeling of so many during the pandemic era. Some light misogyny there and in “Message From Someone Going Somewhere With Someone Else Who is Going Somewhere” feels almost performative, pursuing some literary concept of edge, but the aural collage and per-song atmosphere assure Dying Comes With Age never lingers anywhere too long, and you can smell the cigarettes just by listening, so be ready with the Febreze.

Ryan Kent on Bandcamp

Rare Bird Books website


1782, Clamor Luciferi

1782 Clamor Luciferi

The first hook on Clamor Luciferi, in post-intro leadoff “Succubus,” informs that “Your god is poison” amid a gravitationally significant wall of low-end buzzfuzz, so one would call it business as usual for Sardinian lurch-doomers 1782, who answer 2021’s From the Graveyard (review here) with another potent collection of horror-infused live resin audibles. Running eight songs and 39-minutes, one would still say the trio are in the post-Monolord camp in terms of riffs and grooves, but they’ve grown more obscure in sound over time, and the murk in so much of Clamor Luciferi is all the more palpable for the way in which the guitar solo late in “Devil’s Blood” cuts through it with such clarity. Immediacy suits them on “River of Sins” just before, but one would hardly fault “Black Rites” or the buried-the-vocals-even-deeper closer “Death Ceremony” for taking their time considering that’s kind of the point. Well, that and the tones and grit of “Demons,” anyhow. Three records in, 1782 continue and odd-year release pattern and showcase the individual take on familiar cultism and lumber that’s made their work to-date a joy to follow despite its sundry outward miseries. Clamor Luciferi keeps the thread going, which is a compliment in their case.

1782 on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Seum, Double Double

SEUM Double Double

What Seum might be seen to lack in guitar, they more than make up in disgust. The Montreal trio — vocalist Gaspard, bassist Piotr, drummer Fred — offer a mostly-hateful 32-minute low-end mudslide on their second album, Double Double, the disaffection leaking like an oily discharge from the speakers in “Torpedo” and “Snow Bird” even before “Dog Days” lyrically takes on the heavy underground and “Dollarama” sees the emptiness in being surrounded by bullshit. For as caustic as it largely is, “Torpedo” dares a bit of dirt-caked melody in the vocals — also a backing layer in the somehow-catchy “Razorblade Rainbow” and the closing title-track has a cleaner shout — and the bass veers into funkier grooves at will, as on “Dog Days,” the winding second half of “Snow Bird,” where the bassline bookending the six-minute “Seum Noir” reminds a bit of Suplecs‘ “White Devil” in its fuzz and feels appropriate in that. Shades of Bongzilla persist, as they will with a scream like that, but like their impressive 2021 debut, Winterized (review here), Seum are able to make the big tones move when they need to, to the point that “Dollarama” brings to memory the glory days of Dopefight‘s over-the-top assault. Righteous and filthy.

Seum on Facebook

Electric Spark Records website


Old Mine Universe, This Vast Array

Old Mine Universe This Vast Array

Clearheaded desert-style heavy rock is the thread running through Old Mine Universe‘s debut album, This Vast Array, but with a bit of blues in “No Man’s Mesa” after the proggy flourish of guitar in “Gates of the Red Planet” and the grander, keyboardy unfolding of “My Shadow Devours” and the eight-minute, multi-movement, ends-with-cello finale “Cold Stream Guards,” it becomes clear the Canadian/Brazilian/Chilean five-piece aren’t necessarily looking to limit themselves on their first release. Marked by a strong performance from vocalist Chris Pew — whom others have likened to Ian Astbury and Glenn Danzig; I might add a likeness to some of Jim Healey‘s belting-it-out there as well, if not necessarily an influence — the songs are traditionally structured but move into a jammier feel on the loose “The Duster” and add studio details like the piano line in the second half of “Sixes and Sirens” that showcase depth as well as a solid foundation. At 10 songs/47 minutes, it’s not a minor undertaking for a band’s first record, but if you’re willing to be led the tracks are willing to lead, and with Pew‘s voice to the guitar and bass of David E. and Todd McDaniel in Toronto, the solos from Erickson Silva in Brazil and Sol Batera‘s drums in Chile, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the tracks take you different places.

Old Mine Universe on Facebook

Witch City Music on Facebook


Saint Karloff, Paleolithic War Crimes

Saint Karloff Paleolithic War Crimes

Although Olso-based riffers Saint Karloff have tasked Nico Munkvold (also Jointhugger) for gigs, the band’s third album, Paleolithic War Crimes, was recorded with just the duo of guitarist/vocalist Mads Melvold (also keys and bass here) and drummer Adam Suleiman, and made in homage to original bassist Ole Sletner, who passed away in 2021. It is duly dug-in, from the lumbering Sabbath-worship repetitions of “Psychedelic Man” through the deeper purple organ boogieprog of “Blood Meridian” and quiet guitar/percussion interlude “Among Stone Columns” into “Bone Cave Escape” tilting the balance from doom to rock with a steady snare giving way to an Iommi-circa-’75 acoustic-and-keys finish to side A, leaving side B to split the longer “Nothing to Come” (7:01), which ties together elements of “Bone Cave Escape” and “Blood Meridian,” and closer “Supralux Voyager” (8:26) with the brash, uptempo “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” which — I almost hate to say it — is a highlight, though the finale in “Supralux Voyager” isn’t to be ignored for what it adds to the band’s aesthetic in its patience and more progressive style, the steadiness of the build and a payoff that could’ve been a blowout but doesn’t need to be and so isn’t all the more resonant for that restraint. If Munkvold actually joins the band or they find someone else to complete the trio, whatever comes after this will inherently be different, but Saint Karloff go beyond 2019’s Interstellar Voodoo (review here) in ambition and realization with these seven tracks — yes, the interlude too; that’s important — and one hopes they continue to bring these lessons forward.

Saint Karloff on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records store


Astral Sleep, We Are Already Living in the End of Times

Astral Sleep We Are Already Living in the End of Times

Feels like a gimme to say that a record called We Are Already Living in the End of Times is bleak, but if I note the despair laced into the extremity of songs like “The Legacies” or “Torment in Existence,” it’s in no small part to convey the fluidity with which Finland’s Astral Sleep offset their guttural death-doom, be it with melancholic folk-doom melody as on the opening title-track, or the sweetly weaving guitar lines leading into the bright-hued finish of “Invisible Flesh.” Across its 46 minutes, Astral Sleep‘s fourth LP picks up from 2020’s Astral Doom Musick (review here) and makes otherwise disparate sounds transition organically, soaring and crashing down with emotive and tonal impact on the penultimate “Time Is” before “Status of the Soul” answers back to the leadoff with nine-plus minutes of breadth and churn. These aren’t contradictions coming from Astral Sleep, and while yes, the abiding spirit of the release is doomed, that isn’t a constraint on Astral Sleep in needing to be overly performative or ‘dark’ for its own sake. There’s a dynamic at work here as the band seem to make each song an altar and the delivery itself an act of reverence.

Astral Sleep on Facebook

Astral Sleep on Bandcamp


Devoidov, Amputation

devoidov amputation

The second single in two months from New Jersey sludge slayers Devoidov, “Amputation” backs the also-knife-themed “Stab” and brings four minutes of heavy cacophonous intensity that’s as much death metal as post-hardcore early on, and refuses to give up its doomed procession despite all the harshness surrounding. It’s not chaotic. It’s not without purpose. That mute right around 2:40, the way the bass picks up from there and the guitar comes back in, the hi-hat, that build-up into the tremolo sprint and kick-drum jabs that back the crescendo stretch stand as analogue for the structure underlying, and then like out of nowhere they toss in a ripper thrash solo at the end, in the last 15 seconds, as if to emphasize the ‘fuck everything’ they’ve layered over top. There’s punk at its root, but “Amputation” derives atmosphere from its rage as well as the spaciousness of its sound, and the violence of losing a part of oneself is not ignored. They’re making no secret of turning burn-it-all-down into a stylistic statement, and that’s part of the statement too, leaving one to wonder whether the sludge or grind will win in their songwriting over the longer term and if it needs to be a choice between one or the other at all.

Devoidov on Instagram

Devoidov on Bandcamp


Wolfnaut, Return of the Asteroid

Wolfnaut Return of the Asteroid

Norwegian fuzz rollers Wolfnaut claim a lineage that goes back to 1997 (their debut was released in 2013 under their old moniker Wolfgang; it happens), so seems reasonable that their fourth full-length, Return of the Asteroid, should be so imbued with the characteristics of turn-of-the-century Scandinavian heavy. They might be at their most Dozerian on “Crash Yer Asteroid” or “Something More Than Night” as they meet careening riffs with vital, energetic groove, but the mellower opening with “Brother of the Badlands” gives a modern edge and as they unfurl the longer closing pair “Crates of Doom” (7:14) and “Wolfnaut’s Lament” (10:13) — the latter a full linear build that completes the record with reach and crunch alike, they are strident in their execution so as to bring individual presence amid all that thick tone crashing around early and the takeoff-and-run that happens around six minutes in. Hooky in “My Orbit is Mine” and willfully subdued in “Arrows” with the raucous “G.T.R.” following directly, Wolfnaut know what they’re doing and Return of the Asteroid benefits from that expertise in its craft, confidence, and the variety they work into the material. Not life-changing, but quality songwriting is always welcome.

Wolfnaut on Facebook

Ripple Music website


Fuzz Voyage, Heavy Compass Demo

fuzz voyage heavy compass demo

If you’re gonna go, take a compass. And if your compass can be made of primo fuzz riffing, isn’t it that much more useful? If not as an actual compass? Each of the four cuts on Washington D.C. instrumentalists Fuzz Voyage‘s Heavy Compass Demo coincides with a cardinal direction, so you get “South Side Moss,” “North Star,” “East Wind” and “West Ice Mountain.” These same four tracks featured across two separate ‘sessions’-type demos in 2020, so they’ve been fairly worked on, but one can’t discount the presentation here that lets “East Wind” breathe a bit in its early going after the crunching stop of “North Star,” just an edge of heavy psychedelia having featured in the northerly piece getting fleshed out as it heads east. I might extend the perception of self-awareness on the part of the band to speculating “South Side Moss” was named for its hairy guitar and bass tone — if not, it could’ve been — and after “East Wind” stretches near seven minutes, “West Ice Mountain” closes out with a rush and instrumental hook that’s a more uptempo look than they’ve given to that point in the proceedings. Nothing to argue with unless you’re morally opposed to bands who don’t have singers — in which case, your loss — but one doesn’t get a lot of outright fuzz from the Doom Capitol, and Fuzz Voyage offer some of the densest distortion I’ve heard out of the Potomac since Borracho got their start. Even before you get to the concept or the art or whatever else, that makes them worth keeping an eye out for what they do next.

Fuzz Voyage on Instagram

Fuzz Voyage on Bandcamp


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Quarterly Review: The John Denver Airport Conspiracy, Clara Engel, Cormano, Black Lung, Slowenya, Superlynx, Øresund Space Collective, Zone Six, The Cimmerian, Ultracombo

Posted in Reviews on July 1st, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Today’s Friday, and in most but a decreasing number of circumstances, that means a Quarterly Review is over. Not this one. Remember, doublewide means it goes to 100 albums. The really crazy part? It could go longer. I could add another day. It could go to 11! Have I done that before?

Probably. That Spinal Tap reference is too obvious for me to have never made it. In any case, I’ve got something booked for Monday after next already, so I won’t be adding another day, but I could just on the releases that came in over the last couple days. Onto the list for next time. Late September/early October, I think.

If you’re hurting for Quarterly Review in the meantime? Yeah, stick around. There’s a whole other week coming up. That’s what I’ve been saying. Have a great weekend and we’ll pick back up on Monday with another 10 records.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

The John Denver Airport Conspiracy, Something’s Gotta Give

John Denver Airport Conspiracy Something's Gotta Give

Hail Toronto psych. The John Denver Airport Conspiracy released Something’s Gotta Give as a 16-tracker name-your-price Bandcamp download nearly a year ago, and vinyl delays give squares like yours truly who missed it at the time another opportunity to get on board. The 14-song LP edition runs 42 minutes, and it’s time well spent in being out of its own time, a pedal steel Americana-fying the ’60s drift of “Comin’ Through” while “Jeff Bezos Actually Works for Me” pairs garage strum-and-strut with a cavernous echo for an effect like shoegaze that looked up. “2000 November” and closer “The Lab” dares proto-punk shimmy and “Green Chair” has that B3 organ sound and lazy jangle that one can’t help but associate with 1967, “Ya, I Wonder” perhaps a few years before that, but “The Big Greaser” works in less directly temporal spaces, and the whole album is united by an overarching mellow spirit, not totally in a fog because actually the structures on some of these songs are pretty tight — as they were in the 1960s — but they’ve definitely and purposefully kept a few screws loose. Their sound may solidify over time and it may not, but as a debut album, Something’s Gotta Give is deceptively rich in its purpose and engaging in its craft and style alike. I wish I’d heard it earlier, I’m glad to have heard it now.

The John Denver Airport Conspiracy on Instagram

Cardinal Fuzz Records webstore

Little Cloud Records website


Clara Engel, Their Invisible Hands

Clara Engel Their Invisible Hands

Clara Engel‘s experimentalist folk songwriting moves into and across and over and through various traditions and methods, but their voice is as resonant, human and unifying as ever, and that’s true from “O Human Child” through the softly echoing guitar pieces “Golden Egg” and “High Alien Priest,” the more ethereal “Glass Mountain,” and so on, while excursions like “I Drink the Rain,” “Cryptid Bop” and “Dead Tree March” earlier add not only instrumental flourish but an avant garde sensibility consistent with Engel‘s past work, even if as songs they remain resoundingly cohesive. That is to say, while founded on experimentalist principles, they are built into songs rather than presented in their rawest form. The inclusion of organ in finale “The Devils are Snoring” is striking and complements the minimalist vocals and backing drone, but by then Engel has long established their ability to put the listener where they wants, with the image of “Rowing Home Through a Sea of Golden Leaves” duly poetic to suit the music as demonstration. Gorgeous, impassioned, hurt but striving and ever moving forward creatively. Engel‘s work remains a treasure for those with ears to hear it. “I Drink the Rain” is an album unto itself.

Clara Engel on Facebook

Clara Engel on Bandcamp


Cormano, Weird Tales

Cormano Weird Tales

Though the initial push of doomer riffing and melodic vocals in the post-intro title-track “Weird Tales” reminds a bit of Apostle of Solitude, the hooky brand of heavy wrought by Chilean three-piece Cormano — vocalist/guitarist Aaron Saavedra, bassist/backing vocalist Claudio Bobadilla, drummer/backing vocalist Rodrigo Jiménez — on their debut full-length is more about rock than such morose proceedings, and in fact it’s the prior intro “La Marcha del Desierto” that makes that plain. They’ll delve into psychedelic airiness in “El Caleuche” — the bassline underneath a highlight on its own — and if you read “Bury Me With My Money” as a capitalist critique, it’s almost fun instead of tragic, but their swing in “Urknall” and the roll of “Rise From Your Grave” (second Altered Beast reference of this Quarterly Review; pure coincidence) act as precursor to the thickened unfurling of “Futuere” and “A Boy and His Dog,” a closing pair that reinforce Cormano‘s ultimate direction as anything but settled, the latter featuring a pointedly heavy crash before a surprisingly gentle finish. Will be curious to see where their impulses lead them, but Weird Tales is that much stronger for the variety currently in their influences.

Cormano on Facebook

Cormano on Bandcamp


Black Lung, Dark Waves

Black Lung Dark Waves

Like the rest of reality, Baltimorean heavy psychedelic blues rockers Black Lung have undergone a few significant changes in the last three years. Guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier (also Mellotron) and drummer/synthesist Elias Schutzman (also Revvnant, ex-The Flying Eyes) bid farewell to fellow founding member Adam Bufano (guitar, also ex-The Flying Eyes) and brought in Dave Fullerton to fill the role, while also, for the first time, adding a bassist in Charles Braese. Thus, their first record for Heavy Psych Sounds, the J. Robbins-produced/Kurt Ballou-mixed Dark Waves is a notable departure in form from 2019’s Ancients (review here), even if the band’s core methodology and aesthetic are the same. The sound is fuller, richer, and more able to hold the various Mellotrons and other flourishes, as well as the cello in “Hollow Dreams” and guest vocals on “Death Grip” and guest keys on “The Cog” and “The Path.” Taking inspiration from modern global uncertainties sociopolitical, medical and otherwise, the band put you in a mind of living through the current moment, thankfully without inducing the level of anxiety that seems to define it. Small favors amid big riffs. With shades of All Them Witches and further psychedelic exploring transposed onto their already-a-given level of songwriting, Black Lung sound like they’re making a second debut.

Black Lung on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Slowenya, Meadow

Slowenya Meadow

Make a big space and fill it with righteousness. Finland’s Slowenya are born out of an experimentalist hotbed in Turku, and the three-piece do justice to an expectation of far-out tendencies across the nonetheless-concise 31 minutes and six songs of Meadow, their second long-player in as many years. There’s an undercurrent of metal as “Synchronized” holds forth with a resilient, earthy chug, but the melodicism that typifies the vocals running alongside is lighter, born of a proggy mindset and able to keep any overarching aggression in check. With synths, samples, and ambient sounds filling out the mix — not that the massive tonality of the guitar and bass itself doesn’t do the job — a breadth is cast from “Intro” onward through “Nákàn” and the gone-full-YOB swell of “Irrevocable,” which is yet another of the tracks on Meadow one might hear and expect to be 20 minutes long and instead is under seven. The penultimate “Transients” pushes deeper into drone, and “Resonate and Relate” (7:53) caps Slowenya‘s impressive second LP with a due blend of melodic wash and lurching rhythmic physicality, the screams into a sudden stop effectively carrying the threat of more to come. You want to hear this.

Slowenya linktr.ee

Karhuvaltio Records on Facebook


Superlynx, Solstice EP

Superlynx Solstice

As their growing fanbase immediately set about waiting for their third full-length after 2021’s Electric Temple, Norwegian heavy-broodgaze trio Superlynx issued at the very end of the year the Solstice EP, combining covers from Saint Vitus, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Nat King Cole (because obviously he’d be third on that list) and Nirvana with two originals in “Reorbit” and “Cosmic Wave.” As bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen has already put out a solo release in 2022, drummer Ole Teigen has a blues band on the side among other projects, and one assumes guitarist Daniel Bakken is up to something else as well, Solstice serves as a welcome holdover of momentum after the album. It’s worth the price of admission (eight Euro) for the take on Nirvana‘s “Something in the Way” alone, but the so-slow-it-sounds-like-it’s-about-to-fall-apart “Reorbit” and the leadoff adaptation of “Born Too Late” enforces that song’s message with a modernized and made-even-more slogging sense of defeat. Maybe we were all born too late. Maybe that’s humanity’s fucking problem. Anyway, after you get this, get Isaksen‘s solo record as Pia Isa. You won’t regret that either, especially with the subdued vibe in some of the material on this one.

Superlynx on Facebook

Dark Essence Records website


Øresund Space Collective, Oily Echoes of the Soul

oresund space collective oily echoes of the soul

The always-hit-record ethic of multinational conglomerate jammers Øresund Space Collective pays dividends once again as Oily Echoes of the Soul emerges publicly — it was previously released in a different form to Bandcamp subscribers — as carved from a session all the way back in 2010. At the time I’m pretty certain all members of the band actually lived in Denmark, but sitarist K.G. Westman, who appeared here while still a member of Siena Root, is from Sweden, so whatever. Ultimately the affair is less about where they’re from than where you’re going while hearing it, which is off to a laid-back, anything goes psychedelic improvisation, beginning with the funky and suitably explorational, half-hour-long opener “Bump and Grind ØSC Style” before moving into the sitar-led “Peace of Mynd” (13:27) and the 24-minute title-track’s organic surges and recessions of volume; proggy, ’70s, and unforced as they are. Before twang-happy and much shorter closer “Shit Kickin'” (4:10), the 15-minute “Deep Breath for the EARTH” offers affirmation of the project’s reliably expansive sound. I’ve made no secret that I listen to this band in no small part for the emotionally and/or existentially soothing facets of their sound. Those are on ready display here, and I’ll be returning to this 12-year-old session accordingly.

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Space Rock Productions website


Zone Six, Beautiful EP


Recorded in Dec. 1997 at Zone Six‘s practice space, the two-song Beautiful EP portrays a much different band than Zone Six ultimately became, with Australian-born vocalist Jodi Barry and then-Liquid Visions members Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (bass, effects), Hans-Peter Ringholz (guitar, noise) and drummer/recording specialist Claus Bühler as well as keyboardist/etc.-ist Rusty and bringing two longform, molten works of pioneering-at-the-time heavy psychedelia. I mean, we’re talking 20 years ahead of their time, at least, here. It’s still forward-thinking. The guitars and breathy vocals in “Something’s Missing” are a joy and “Beautiful” plays off drone-style atmospherics with intermittently jazzy verses and a more active rhythm, winding guitar and pervasively spaced mindbending. Imagining what could’ve been if this record had been finished, one could repaint the scope of 2010s-era European heavy psychedelia as a whole, but on their own, the two extended inclusions on the 23-minute EP are a gorgeous glimpse at this fleeting moment in time. It is what it says it is.




The Cimmerian, Thrice Majestic

The Cimmerian Thrice Majestic

Thrice Majestic and four-times barbarous comes this debut EP release from Los Angeles’ The Cimmerian, a new trio featuring Massachusetts expat David Gein (ex-bass, The Scimitar, etc.) on guitar, and the brand of heavy that ensues readily crosses the line between metal and doom, as the galloping “Emerald Scripture” reinforces directly after the eight-minute highlight and longest groover “Silver and Gold.” Drummer David Morales isn’t shy with the double-kick and neither should he be, and bassist/vocalist Nicolas Rocha has a bark that reminds of Entombed‘s L.G. Petrov, and that is not a compliment I’m ever going to hand out lightly. Lead cut “Howls of Lust and Fury” promises High on Fire-ist thrash in its opening, but The Cimmerian‘s form of pummel goes beyond any single point of inspiration, even on this presumably formative suckerpunch of an EP, which balances intensity and nod in the finishing move “Neck Breaker,” a last growl perhaps the most brutal of all. Fucking a. More of this.

The Cimmerian on Facebook

The Cimmerian on Bandcamp


Ultracombo, Season II

Ultracombo Season II

You could probably sit and parse out where Ultracombo are coming from — geographically, it’s Vincenza, Italy — in terms of sound on the sequentially titled follow-up to 2019’s Season I (review here), but to do so denies the double-guitar five-piece credit for the obvious efforts they’ve put into making this material their own. Those efforts pay off in the listening experience of the five-tracker, which runs 25 minutes and so offers plenty enough to make an impression. Witness the slowdown in centerpiece “Umanotest” or the keyboard-or-keyboard-esque lead in the back half of the prior “Follia,” the added jammy feel in “Specchio,” the this-is-the-difference-the-right-drummer-makes “12345” or the return of the synth and an added bit of playfulness before the big ending in — what else? — “La Fine.” That this EP manages to careen and pull such hairpin turns of rhythm is a triumph unto itself. That it manages to do so without sounding like Queens of the Stone Age feels like a fucking miracle. “Dear Ultracombo, Hope you’re well. Time to make an album. Put in an interlude or two depending on space. Sincerely, some dude on the internet.”

Ultracombo on Facebook

Ultracombo on Instagram


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Quarterly Review: Ruby the Hatchet, Wyatt E., Famyne, Humanotone, Madmess, Eaters of the Soil, NYOS, Endtime, Bloodshot Buffalo, Oh Hiroshima

Posted in Reviews on April 6th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Day Three of the Spring 2022 Quarterly Review — commence! As you well know because I’m quite certain you’re the type of person to sit around and think about these things and I’m in no way the only human who gives enough of a crap to notice, today we hit the halfway point of this particular QR, not in the middle, but at the end, as today will culminate with review number 30 of the total 60 to come by the end of the day next Monday. Is it cheating to get a full weekend to do the last installment? Depends entirely on the weekend. In any case, starting tomorrow we go downhill, numerically, not in terms of the quality of what’s covered.

Until then.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Ruby the Hatchet, Live at Earthquaker

ruby the hatchet live at earthquaker

While on tour with Kadavar in late-2019, New Jersey heavy psych rockers Ruby the Hatchet swung through Earthquaker Devices in Ohio and put these three songs to tape. In addition to being the band’s first release for Magnetic Eye Records, the EP serves these years after the fact as a still-foreshadowing glimpse at their next full-length, the follow-up to 2017’s Planetary Space Child (review here), which but for plague probably would be on its third pressing by now. At least it would be if the rolling riffs and organ shimmer of “1,000 Years” and the bluesier what-I’ll-just-assume-is-an-homage-to-the-band-of-the-same-name “Primitive Man” are anything to go by. Paired with Ruby the Hatchet‘s take on Uriah Heep‘s “Easy Livin’,” the new songs herald the awaited album in a way that seems to justify their having been kept in-pocket for just the right moment. I’m glad that moment is now, and I also kind of feel like Ruby the Hatchet need to start recording more shows and putting out their own soundboard bootlegs. This is clearly mixed, pro-mastered and all that, but still. They make every second of these 14 minutes count.

Ruby the Hatchet links

Magnetic Eye Records store


Wyatt E., āl bēlūti dārû

Wyatt E al beluti daru

Anonymous Belgian outfit Wyatt E. return five years after their debut with āl bēlūti dārû, comprising two tracks of all-in Mesopotamian-themed drone ritualizing. The robed outfit top 18 minutes with “Mušhuššu” and “Šarru Rabu” both, and their intention toward immersing the audience in a whole-side experience isn’t misplaced as their arrangements branch beyond genre typicality in service of the Middle Easternism around which much of what they do is based. More than cinematically wrought, the two pieces here are striking in moving from the crescendos of their respective builds into richly conjured explorations, the former of saz and other instruments, the latter of percussion and voice. Likewise, with two drumkits, they want nothing for rhythmic urgency, despite the open structures of the actual material. One wonders at the Orientalism on display throughout as potentially a kind of minstrelsy, particularly with the hooded unknown figures casting themselves as decidedly ‘other’ from a European mainstream, but the same anonymity guards against the notion since it’s unclear just who these people are. I’m not sure I’m all the way on board, but they effectively convey spectacle without losing artistic presence. And if you spend the rest of your day reading about the Akkadian Empire, I’m sure worse things have happened.

Wyatt E. on Facebook

Stolen Body Records website


Famyne, II: The Ground Below

Famyne ii the ground below

My impression of Canterbury, UK, doomers Famyne‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here) were of a band burgeoning in atmosphere anchored by strong songwriting and melodic vocals with periodic likeness to Alice in Chains and The Wounded Kings. Arriving through Svart Records, the eight-song/45-minute II: The Ground Below doesn’t do much to detract from that core impression, but the ambient “A Submarine” and the mean chug in the back half of the later “The Ai” take them to new places and demonstrate the individualization of genre tropes underway in their sound. “Once More” taps a more NWOBHM style, while “Babylon” touches on Candlemassian grandiosity, and “Gone” fluidly begins to transition from the crush of opening duo “Defeated” and “Solid Earth” before “A Submarine” takes hold, which is only further evidence they know what they’re doing.




Humanotone, A Flourishing Fall in a Grain of Sand

Humanotone A Flourishing Fall in a Grain of Sand

Evidently a number of years in the making from front-to-back, Humanotone‘s second full-length, A Flourishing Fall in a Grain of Sand, finds the solo-project spearheaded by Jorge Cisternas Monsalves, aka Jorge Cist, working once more completely on his own save for some saxophone on 12-minute closer “Even Though.” Given the lush, progressive, and thoughtful execution of progressive heavy rock the Chile-based Cist manifests throughout cuts like “Light Antilogies” and “Ephemeral” prior — taking lessons from Elder‘s Dead Roots Stirring and applying them well for his own purposes — it wouldn’t have been surprising if he picked up the sax himself, frankly. He proves visionary throughout the proceedings one way or the other, and atop a bed of his own drumming is able to cast deep landscapes of keys and guitar and bass in “A Flourishing Fall” and a build and payoff in “Scrolls for the Blind” before the 3:45 “Beyond the Machine” goes straightforward in a way that feels like a gift ahead of the closer, while still retaining its proggy vibe vocally, melodically and rhythmically. There’s been some word-of-mouth hype around this one. Not unwarranted.

Humanotone on Facebook

Humanotone on Bandcamp


Madmess, Rebirth

madmess rebirth

Big on vibe, crunches when it wants, spaces out with broader jams, takes its time, flows as it will but still hits with an impact — yeah, there’s no shortage of things to like about MadmessHassle Records-issued second full-length, Rebirth. If you, yourself, have been born-again semi-instrumentalist psych-prog, then no doubt you’ll relate to the careening and twisting path that the five mostly-extended tracks take, unfolding with a focus on liquefied echo on “Albatross” before the companioning “Mind Collapse” introduces the vocals that will show up again on closer “Stargazer” (not a Rainbow cover). Between those two, the title-cut and “Shapeshifter” back-to-back build on some of the mellower stretches prior at least before locking into their own heavier parts, but by then you’re long since hypnotized anyway, and the drift that serves to transition into “Stargazer” is only pushing further out as it goes. I’m not sure who in the Portugese trio (if anyone) is the vocalist, but the voice suits the songs well, even if they’re plainly comfortable going without, and reasonably so.

Madmess on Facebook

Hassle Records website


Eaters of the Soil, EP II

Eaters of the Soil EP II

Mostly instrumental, the aptly-titled EP II — the second short release from Utrecht, the Netherlands, trombone-inclusive experimentalist doomers Eaters of the Soil — runs four tracks and 35 minutes and, early on, uses spoken samples from this or that serial killer about putting plastic bags over women’s heads to suffocate them. Through “V – Point of Capture” and even into “VI – Untouched, Unspoken To” (the Roman numeral numbering system continued from their pandemic-minded 2021 first EP), a somewhat slowed down version of whoever it is goes on about killing women and this and that. The second half of the release with “VII – Burrowing, Feasting” and “VIII – Subcurrent,” are both dark enough to be considered affected by the same atmosphere — “VI – Untouched, Unspoken To” has a bit of float to it, so it’s not all grim — churning, meandering and freaking out in at-least-partially improv-jazz style, but Eaters of the Soil cast a grim vision of humanity and that impression stays resonant even as “VIII – Subcurrent” lumbers into its wash of a finish. Is extreme jazz a thing? Turns out maybe.

Eaters of the Soil on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records website


NYOS, Celebration

nyos celebration

With its just-slightly-off-beat drum loop, “Light” seems to build into a wash until even the song can’t take anymore and needs to drop out. It’s not the first take on NYOS‘ second offering for Pelagic Records, Celebration — that would be the improvised opener “First Take” — but it and the serene hum that emerges in the subsequent “Something Good” and even the shimming almost steel-drum sounds of “Tucano” demonstrate the Finland-based instrumentalist duo’s stated intentions toward dance music. The later “Gold Vulcan,” the first single, gets into some noisier fare as if to remind that guitarist Tom Brooke (also recording) and drummer Tuomas Kainulainen are coming from a harder-hitting place, but in the also-improv “Cloudberry” just before and particularly the willfully gorgeous “Rosario” (Dawson?) after, the intentions are gentler and more welcoming, and that continues into the final drone stretch and far, far back drumming that consumes most of closer “Surface” before it ultimately explodes in resonant light, reinforcing the notion of joy inherent in the album’s title, feeling like a grand finale to an aural fireworks display.

NYOS on Facebook

Pelagic Records store


Endtime, Impending Doom

Endtime Impending Doom

Making their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds with Impending Doom, Sweden’s Endtime are not shy about their influence from horror cinema. Their sound blends sludge and classic doom together such that opener “Harbinger of Disease” comes through like Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod stepping in to front Cathedral, and his harsh wails echo out a tolling (for thee, make no mistake) bell to foretell the harsh terrors soon to unfold. “ICBM” kills quick and lets its church organ mourn later, and the centerpiece “They Live” (a classic) adjusts the balance such that the cinematic, post-Uncle Acid vibe comes to the front still with the barking vocals overtop; a blend I can’t think of anyone else pulling off as well as Endtime do. The longer “Cities on Fire with the Burning Flesh of Men” follows and is more purely about the crunch at least until the sitar shows up — a nice curve to throw — ahead of its severe closing section, and closer “Living Graves” wraps the 28-minute LP by pushing the organ forward again and dissolving into a wash of noise before the feed seems to cut out like channel 11 just stopped broadcasting in the middle of the night. Hey man, I was watching that. Not quite revolutionary, but onto something. Impending, if you will.

Endtime on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


Bloodshot Buffalo, Light EP


By my count, Bloodshot Buffalo — the solo-project of Santa Rosa, California’s Sheafer McOmber — has put out no fewer than four full-lengths since 2019. Accordingly, the two-song Light EP is most likely a stopgap en route to the next one, but “Light” and “Don’t Follow Me” make an enticing sampler of the band’s wares all the same, digging into an energetic heavy progressive rock like a less-low-end-focused Forming the Void in the title-track as McOmber carefully weaves in a multi-layered guitar solo panning channels from one to the other and “Don’t Follow Me” reaffirms the groove on which that happens while sorting out its own languid flow. The shorter of the two, “Don’t Follow Me” doesn’t feature the same kind of midsection break as “Light” itself, and once it heads out, it doesn’t come back, unlike “Light,” which returns to the hook at the finish. Some structural play as enticement to dig further into the Bloodshot Buffalo catalog while waiting for the seemingly inevitable next thing. This being my first exposure to McOmber‘s work, I hope to do exactly that.

Bloodshot Buffalo on Facebook

Bloodshot Buffalo on Bandcamp


Oh Hiroshima, Myriad

oh hiroshima myriad

Swedish now-duo Oh Hiroshima present their fourth album, Myriad, as a collection of weighted, spacious and emotive contemplations. Their heavy post-rock is stylized to be patient and broad-reaching, and in pieces like “All Things Pass” and “Veil of Certainty” early on, they find a niche for themselves between harder-hitting atmospheric material marked out by droning horn arrangements and more straight-ahead melodic verses, the ambience open enough to pull the focus away from underlying structures. It’s an immersive-if-somewhat-familiar modern take, but the two-piece of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Jakob Hemström and drummer Oskar Nilsson stem into moodier vibes on “Tundra” and closer “Hidden Chamber” takes a less effects-centered, more organic-sounding approach, emphasizing the strings for its build while staying earthbound in the drums, bass and guitars beneath. Some will pass Myriad up entirely, others will worship its depth. Either way, the pair seem like they’ll keep moving forward in their well-crafted, considered approach.

Oh Hiroshima on Facebook

Napalm Records website


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