High Strange Premiere “Foulstrand”; Woe Upon Man out Aug. 24

Posted in audiObelisk on July 20th, 2021 by JJ Koczan


High Strange is low death! Plague metal! The buried-alive-in-brown-dirt raw death, chased with elements of sludge and decaying atmosphere, reeks of indiscriminate decay across Woe Upon Man‘s 28-minute span, and the purposefulness of its abiding drear is obvious. This is the sound of the times, channeled into pummeling drive and bitter stench. My beloved Garden State’s own Chrome Peeler Records (Butler, no less; my mother taught art there for 35-plus years) will handle the Aug. 24 release of the five-song debut outing, and Woe Upon Man spits dark poetry in “Black Hands” and “Evil is Life” at least partially lifted from the 1901 A Dream Play surrealist drama from Swedish playwright August Strindberg, lines like “It is a misery to be man!” and “Unclean is the earth” arrive in a spoken gutturalism over drones and distortion like Celtic Frost minus the majesty, and in alternating fashion with opener “Descend and You May See,” centerpiece “Foulstrand” (premiering below) and 10-minute finale “The Final Complaint/The Parting Hour,” ragers and bludgeoners all, no matter what speed they’re actually playing.

To wit, “Descend and You May See” plods until it sprints, taking a mere three minutes to introduce the disaffection and drear wrought by High Strange — the New York-based four-piece of Jonathan Canady, Jay NewmanConor Hickey and Joseph Branciforte, High Strange Woe Upon Manwhose significant pedigree you can see below — and the mystery of how Woe Upon Man earned a cassette release is quickly solved. It’s entirely possible, of course, that these songs were composed and recorded in isolation, passing files back and forth in a pandemic-era project — certainly the style bears the hallmark of disease — but they sure don’t sound like it. High Strange have harnessed a lo-fi sound that is at once scathing and experimental, the drones behind the echoing speech of “Black Hands,” derived from monologues in the play by The Portress and The Lawyer (the full text of the play is readily available) branching outward even as guitar noise howls and screeches like surrounding fire. This leads to the single snare hit that launches the classic death of “Foulstrand,” a speed-chugging central riff holding firm as the gritty, charred-epic sensibilities are shoved further along, the album’s shortest-to-longest progression of tracks making the noted descent all the more palpable as it goes.

“Evil is Life” is, accordingly, lower, longer and less frenetic than “Black Hands” before it, just as “Foulstrand” feels more assured of what it’s doing than “Descend and You May See” — which if you told me it was the first song written for the project, I’d believe you — and “The Final Complaint/The Parting Hour” draws the two sides together, devoting its first half to creating and only partially releasing tension in verses and a spoken chorus, while the second transitions into an ambient peculiarity of doom and drone noise, the rigor finally giving over to speech not unlike “Evil is Life” in such a way as to confirm that, as willfully unrefined as Woe Upon Man is across its relatively short stretch, High Strange are in control of what they’re doing and not acting without purpose behind their expression. The back-and-forth between assault and atmosphere — neither without aspects of the other, mind you — is pulled together in a way that is conscious and that it seems laughable to call graceful but is that just the same. If you can’t raise a claw to this, why even have claws?

Again, Aug. 24 is the release date (or at least the shipping date), and the preorder link and more info follows below from the PR wire. Before you get there, hit play on “Foulstrand” and be duly immersed in mortality’s endgame.



Lyrically based on August Strindberg’s “A Dream Play” HIGH STRANGE infuses their dark heaviness with a surrealistic edge. “Woe Upon Man” is a depraved cacophony of metal and noise primitivism, injecting blasts of fetid doom with mangled thrash. Massive slabs of rotted noise and low-end rumble into a seething mass of claustrophobic horror, creating a diverse and mind-blowing avant-heaviness.

Limited to 200 copies on black vinyl and 50 cassettes.

PRE-ORDER @ https://chromepeelerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/woe-upon-man

1. Descend and You May See
2. Black Hands
3. Foulstrand
4. Evil is Life
5. The Final Complaint/The Parting Hour

Jonathan Canady (Deathpile, Dead World): vocals, electronics
Jay Newman (Unearthly Trance, Serpentine Path, Abandoner): bass, moog, apprehension engine
Conor Hickey (Brain Slug, Born Sinner): guitar
Joe Branciforte (Carnivore A.D., All Out War): drums

High Strange, Woe Upon Man (2021)

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Unearthly Trance and Wooden Wand Split 7″ Reissued

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 5th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

If you’d like to put the split release between Brooklyn doomers Unearthly Trance and Wooden Wand into some kind of context — and hey, who doesn’t love context? — the year it first came out on Chrome Peeler Records, 2010, was the same year that Unearthly Trance released their final to-date album, V (review here), on Relapse. They also had a collaborative release out that year with Swedish outfit Suma, with whom they toured. Wooden Wand, in the meantime, released the Death Seat album through Michael Gira‘s Young God Records after working with Thurston Moore‘s Ecstatic Peace imprint on 2009’s Hard Knox.

Neither outfit, then, coming into the split in anything resembling a slouch. Unearthly Trance would call it quits soon enough — I think in no small part because of the aforementioned tour — but the Manson split remains a curio, with Unearthly Trance and Wooden Wand both taking on songs written by the serial killer, and both working in a decidedly dark but quiet aesthetic, the underlying threat of the material made plain across its relatively brief span.

Chrome Peeler, in order to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the release and Unearthly Trance‘s return to activity this month with a West Coast tour, has made the tracks available as a name-your-price download. The particulars:

unearthly trance wooden wand split

Unearthly Trance / Wooden Wand “Manson” 7″

Celebrate the 5th anniversary of UNEARTHLY TRANCE / WOODEN WAND “Manson” 7″. Now available to download HERE.

About the record:
Unearthly Trance reach into the hole of the infinite with their haunting version of Charles Manson’s “People Say I’m No Good” while Wooden Wand programs the young love with a version of “Get On Home.” Originally released in an edition of 200 that sold out instantly.

UNEARTHLY TRANCE side recorded at SIR, NYC 2010.

WOODEN WAND side recorded at Pagan Sound, Lexington, KY spring 2010.

Nov. 13-14 – Midnite Communion III at The Breakers, Long Beach CA w/ Morne, Brainoil, Dopethrone & more
Nov. 15 – The Golden Bull, Oakland CA w/ CHRCH, Abstracter
Nov. 16 – Club 66, Ashland OR
Nov. 17 – Star Theater, Portland OR w/ Samothrace, Ephemeros
Nov. 18 – The Highline, Seattle WA w/ Samothrace, MG?A, Weregoat
Nov. 19 – Hindenberg, Vancouver BC w/ Usnea, Haggatha


Unearthly Trance & Wooden Wand, Manson Split (2010)

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