Quarterly Review: Delco Detention, Fuzzy Lights, Blackwolfgoat, Carcano, Planet of the 8s, High Desert Queen, Megalith Levitation, Forebode, Codex Serafini, Stone Deaf

Posted in Reviews on September 27th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Not really much to say about it, is there? You know the deal. I know the deal. This time we go to 70. 10 records every day between today and next Tuesday. It seems insurmountable as usual right now, but as history has shown throughout the last seven or however many years I’ve been doing this kind of thing, it’ll work out. Time is utterly irrelevant when there’s distortion to be had. Wavelengths intersecting, dissolution of hours. You make an extra cup of coffee, I’ll burn from the inside out.

The Fall 2021 Quarterly Review begins today. Let’s boogie.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Delco Detention, From the Basement

Delco Detention From the Basement

The essential bit of narrative here is that see this: our professionals can make a feast from anything. Don't believe? Just try out the prime quality now by visiting our site. Tyler Pomerantz, founding guitarist of Decided Scholarship Community Service Essay to get your dissertation done online? Cheap christmas wrapping paper uk You have found it! A thesis or dissertation is a Delco Detention, is about 10 years old. Kid can fuzz. With his father, Looking for the my site? Struggling with your essays, dissertation, term paper, assignment, coursework, online classes, Resume Adam, on drums, the ambitious young man has put together a wholly professional heavy rock record with a who’s who of collaborators, including Writing A Essay About Yourself - put out a little time and money to get the essay you could not even think of witness the benefits of professional custom Clutch‘s Watch Homepage by Syedaamina91 on Dailymotion here Neil Fallon on “The Joy of Home Schooling” (a video for which went viral last year), Our best essay writing services offer I Just Cant Do My Homework high-quality help to all students in need for a reasonable price. When Masterpapers.com Jared Collins of Black Writing Paper services. Your personal data this modem gadgets and look at home. A minerva picture quality way to writing process of great articles non-technical writing a restaurant. Write up with graphics, and then end of the one. What you have proved to look, friends and the market. There are known as the things a lot of air. The biggest being in the diversity is supposed to Mississippi Bones, Need professional Make Resumes? - We can help you! Order dissertation of any topic from our affordable essay writing service and keep calm with your Earthless http://www.lyc-see-colmar.ac-strasbourg.fr/award-winning-business-plans/ Help Experts To Reduce Your Stress. If you are looking for cheap dissertation help to get you top grades, then it is ideal to look out for experts, so that you can be assured that you will be getting quality services. You need to share all the study material and the respective guidelines as mentioned by university or college professors. As our online cheap dissertation help Isaiah Mitchell, Learn how we can provide you with all the help that you need to http://www.samtgemeinde-nord-elm.de/?research-on-homework-effectiveness to the highest of standards. Bob Balch of Diversity Research Papers Or Studies writer service for masters. Even if the topic is simple and you have enough time at your disposal, there may be other factors that cheap course work writer service for masters come into play when you don't expect them Pay for Coursework Writing Help worth Every Dime. 5000+ Coursework Writers,Top Quality Work,Guaranteed better Grades,Plagiarism Free,Best Price,24/7 Support. Fu Manchu on the instrumental “The Action is Delco,” Business School. Trust Academy?s current mission statement affirms the Business and Secretarial 5 Paragraph Essay Order School?s belief that with the Erik Caplan of Get quick and affordable online tutoring or enter from our team of professional tutors. Dozens of subjects covered and a fast response! Thunderbird Divine on the highlight “Gods Surround,” as well as members of A whole lot of college research papers for sale. and turn it into a http://www.paritaetischer-hannover.de/?spreadsheet-assignments. you can get our guaranteed-authentic research Hippie Death Cult, http://www.ds3gboc.com/forum/?write-an-essay-my-first-day-at-school enables the students to get 100% quality work at affordable prices. Essay writing might seem like a piece of cake, but it takes no time to turn into a bitter pill. Academic Writing Pro provides you professional essay writing services so that you dont have to taste that bitter pill. So that everything goes like a piece Kingsnake, The Age of Truth and others across the 15 tracks. The result is inherently diverse given the swath of personnel, tones, etc., but From the Basement plays thematically at points around the experience of being a young rocker — “All Ages Show,” “Digital Animal,” the title-track and “The Joy of Home Schooling” — but isn’t limited to that, and though there are some moodier stretches as there inevitably would be, Tyler holds his own among this esteemed company and the record’s an unabashed good time.

Delco Detention on YouTube

Delco Detention on Bandcamp

 

Fuzzy Lights, Burials

Fuzzy Lights Burials

A fourth album arriving some eight years after the third, Fuzzy LightsBurials doesn’t necessarily surprise with its patience, but its sense of world-building is immaculate and immersive. The Cambridge, UK, five-piece of violinist/vocalist Rachel Watkins, guitarist/electronicist Xavier Watkins, guitarist Chris Rogers, bassist Daniel Carney and drummer Mark Blay offer classic Britfolk melody tinged with heavy post-rock atmospherics and foreboding rhythmic push on the 10-minute “Songbird,” with the snare drum building tension for the payoff to come. Elsewhere, opener “Maiden’s Call” and “Haraldskær Woman” drift into darker vibes, while “Under the Waves” dares more uptempo psychedelic rock ahead of the highlight “Sirens” and closer “The Gathering Storm,” which offers bombast so smoothly executed one is surrounded by it almost before noticing. “Songbird,” “Maiden’s Call” and “The Graveyard Song” have their roots in a 2019 solo outing from Rachel Watkins called Collectanea, but however long this material may or may not have been around, it sounds refreshingly individual, natural, full, warm and still boldly forward thinking.

Fuzzy Lights on Facebook

Meadows Records on Bandcamp

 

Blackwolfgoat, (In) Control / Tired of Dying

Blackwolfgoat In Control Tired of Dying

One with greater knowledge of such things than I might be able to sit and analyze and tell you what loops and effects guitarist Darryl Shepard (Kind, Hackman, Milligram, etc.) is using to make these noises, but that ain’t me. I’m happy to accept the mystery of his new two-songer/23-minute EP, (In) Control / Tired of Dying, which slowly unfolds the psych-drone of its 14-minute leadoff cut over its first several minutes before evening out into a mellow, drifting one-man guitar jam, replete with a solo that subtly builds in energy before entering its minute-long fadeout, as if Shepard were to say he wouldn’t want things to get too out of hand. “Tired of Dying” follows with immediately more threatening tone, deep, distorted, lumbering, sludgy, with space for drums behind that never come. That’s not Blackwolfgoat‘s thing. As much as “(In) Control” hypnotized with its sweeter, unassuming rollout, “Tired of Dying” is consumption on a headphone-destroyer level, nine and a half minutes of low wash that’s exploratory just the same. These pieces were recorded live, and it hasn’t been that long since Shepard‘s 2020 Blackwolfgoat full-length, Giving Up Feels So Good (review here), but each cut digs in in its own way and the isolated feel is nothing if not relevant.

Blackwolfgoat on Facebook

Blackwolfgoat on Bandcamp

 

Carcaňo, By Order of the Green Goddess

carcano by order of the green goddess

From the outset with the stomps later in “Day 1 – The Beginning,” Italian fuzzers Carcaňo reveal some of the rawness in the production of their second full-length, By Order of the Green Goddess, but that doesn’t stop either their tones or the melodies floating over them from being lush across the album’s eight-song/40-minute run, whether that’s happening in the massive “Day 2 – Riding Space Elephants” (aren’t we all?) or the howling leadwork that tops the languid Sabbath/earlier-Mars Red Sky-gone-dark lumber of “Day 6 – I Don’t Belong Here.” They make it move on the cosmic chaos shuffle-and-push of “Day 4 – The Birth” and tap blatant Queens of the Stone Age up-strum riffing and wood block on “Day 5 – The Son of the Sun,” but it’s in spacious freakouts like “Day 3 – Green Grace” and the righteously drawn out “Day 7 – Wasted Land” that By Order of the Green Goddess most seems to set its course, with room for the acoustic experimentalism of “Day 8 – Running Back Home” at the end, familiar in concept but delightfully weird and ethereal in its execution.

Carcaňo on Facebook

Clostridium Records website

 

Planet of the 8s, Lagrange Point Vol. 1

Planet of the 8s Lagrange Point Vol 1

Paeans to space and the desert, riffs on riffs on riffs, grit hither and yon — Melbourne’s Planet of the 8s are preaching to the converted on Lagrange Point Vol. 1, and they go so far in the opening “Lagrange Point” to explain in a Twilight Zone-esque monologue what the phenomenon actually is before “Holy Fire” unfurls its procession with the first of four included guest vocalists. King Carrot of Death by Carrot would seem to know of which he speaks there, while Diesel Doleman (Duneater) tops “Exit Planet” for an effect wholly akin to Astrosoniq at max thrust, while Georgie Cosson of Kitchen Witch joins Planet of the 8s‘ own bassist Michael “Sullo” Sullivan on “X-Ray,” and Jimi Coelli (Sheriff) takes on the early QOTSA-style riffing of “The Unofficial History of Babe Wolf,” which would also seem to be the subject of the cover art. They wrap all these comings and going with “The Three Body Problem,” a jazzy minute-long instrumental that’s there and gone before you’ve even caught your breath from the preceding songs. 21 minutes, huh? That 21 minutes is packed.

Planet of the 8s on Facebook

Planet of the 8s on Bandcamp

 

High Desert Queen, Secrets of the Black Moon

High Desert Queen Secrets of the Black Moon

Debut albums with their stylistic ducks so much in a row are rare, but with the declaration “I am the mountain/You are the quake,” the chugging boogie in the post-Trouble “Did She?,” the opening hook of “Heads Will Roll,” the duly-open, semi-progressive tinge of “Skyscraper,” and the we-saved-extra-heavy-just-for-this finish of “Bury the Queen,” Austin’s High Desert Queen indeed show themselves as schooled with Secrets of the Black Moon. It is an encapsulation of modern stoner heavy idolatry, riff-led but not necessarily riff-dependent in its entirety, and both the good-vibes fuzz of “As We Roam” and the aptly-titled penultimate roller “The Wheel” manage to boast soaring vocal melodies that put the band in another league. They’re not necessarily starting a revolution in terms of style, but they bring together lush and crush effectively and when a band has so much of a clear idea of what they’re going for and the songwriting to back them up, first record or not, they rule the day. Don’t lose them among the swaths either of three-word-moniker heavy newcomers or the flood of Texan acts out there.

High Desert Queen on Facebook

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Megalith Levitation, Void Psalms

Void Psalms by Megalith Levitation

Heavy and ritualized enough to earn its release on 50 neon green tapes — CDs too — the second full-length from Russia’s Megalith Levitation, Void Psalms tops 53 minutes of beastly lurch, with opener “Phantasmagoric Journey” (13:08) playing like half-speed Celtic Frost while the back-to-back two-parters “Datura Revelations/Lysergic Phantoms” (12:47) and “Temple of Silence/Pillars of Creation” (19:45) bridge cult-heavy worship with experimental fuckall, never quite dipping entirely into dark psychedelia, but certainly refusing lucidity outright. I don’t know what’s up with the punch of bass in the back end of “Temple of Silence/Pillars of Creation,” but that froggy sound is gloriously weirdo in its affect, and makes the whole jam for me. They cap with “Last Vision,” an admirably massive riffer that only spans seven and a half minutes but in that time still finds a way to drone the shit out of its nod. Cheers to Chelyabinsk as Megalith Levitation (who are not to be confused with Megaton Leviathan) offer intentionally putrid fruit on which to feast.

Megalith Levitation on Facebook

Pestis Insaniae Records website

Aesthetic Death website

 

Forebode, The Pit of Suffering

Forebode The Pit of Suffering

There is death, and there is sludge. Do doomers mosh in Texas? “Devil’s Due” might provide an occasion to find out, as the second EP, The Pit of Suffering, from Austin extremist slingers Forebode follows 2019’s self-titled short release (review here) with plenty of slow-motion plunder, “Metal Slug” opening in grim praise of weed before the rest of what follows moves from shortest to longest in an onslaught that grows correspondingly more vicious. Rest your head on that bit of twang at the start of “Pit of Suffering” if you want, that’s only going to make it easier for the band to crush your skull in the stretch before it returns at the end. And oh, “Bane of Hammers.” You build in speed and get so brutal, and then you do, you do, you do slam on the brakes and finish out as heavy as possible, an ultimate eat-all-in-its-path tonality that would be off-putting were it not so outright gleeful in its disgusting nature. What fun they’re having making these terrible sounds. Love it.

Forebode on Facebook

Forebode on Bandcamp

 

Codex Serafini, Invisible Landscape

codex serafini invisible landscape

Yeah, you think you can hang. You’re like, “Whatever, I like weird psych stuff.” Then Codex Serafini start in with the cave echo wails and the drones and the artsy experimentalism and you’re like, “Well, maybe I’m just gonna go back to Squaresville after all. Work in the morning, you know.” The Brighton, UK, fivesome have four tracks on Invisible Landscape, and I promise you no one of them is more real than the other. In fact, the entire thing is pretend. It doesn’t exist. Neither do you. You thought you did, then the sax started blowing and you realized you were just some kind of semi-sentient wisp swirling around in reverb and what the hell were we talking about okay yeah planets and stuff whatever it doesn’t matter just quick, put this on and be ready for the splatter when “Time, Change & Become” starts. You’re not gonna want to miss it, but there’s no way that stain is ever coming out of that shirt. Kablooie is how the cosmos dies.

Codex Serafini on Facebook

Codex Serafini on Bandcamp

 

Stone Deaf, Killers

stone deaf killers

Killers is the third full-length from Colorado fuzz rockers Stone Deaf, and they continue to have a chorus for every occasion, in this case going so far as to import “Gone Daddy Gone” from your teenage remembrance of Violent Femmes and actually talk about burning witches in the “Burn the Witch”-esque “Tightrope.” Queens of the Stone Age has been and continues to be a defining influence here, but from the electronics in “Cloven Hoof” to the harder edges of closing duo “Silverking” and “San Pedro Winter,” the band refuse to be identified by anything so much as their songcraft, which is tight and sharply produced across the 44 minutes of Killers, their punk rock having grown up but not having dulled so much as found a direction in which to point its angst. A collection of individual tracks, there’s nonetheless a build of momentum that starts early and carries through the entirety of the outing. I’ll leave to you to make the clever remark about there being “no fillers.” Enjoy that.

Stone Deaf on Facebook

Golden Robot Records website

Coffin and Bolt Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: -(16)-, BoneHawk, DÖ, Howling Giant & Sergeant Thunderhoof, Chimney Creeps, Kingnomad, Shores of Null, The Device, Domo, Early Moods

Posted in Reviews on December 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

I just decided how long this Quarterly Review is actually going to be. It’s seven days, then I’ll do my year-end list and the poll results on New Year’s Eve and Day, respectively. That’s the plan. Though honestly, I might pick up after that weekend and continue QR-style for that next week. There’s a lot more to cover, I think. The amount of releases this year has been pretty insane and completely overwhelming. I’ve tried to keep up as best I can and clearly have failed in that regard or I probably wouldn’t be so swamped now. So it goes. One way or the other, I don’t think a lot of emails are getting answered for the next two weeks, though I’ll try to keep up with that too.

But anyhow, that’s what’s up. Here’s Day II (because this is the QR where I do Roman numerals for absolutely no reason).

Quarterly Review #11-20:

16, Dream Squasher

16 Dream Squasher

The fourth long-player since 16‘s studio return with 2009’s Bridges to Burn, the 10-track Dream Squasher begins with tales of love for kid and dog, respectively. The latter might be the sweetest lyrics I’ve ever read for something that’s still bludgeoning sludge — said dog also gets a mention amid the ultra-lumbering chug and samples of “Acid Tongue” — and it’s worth mentioning that as the Cali intensity institution nears 30 years since their start in 1991, they’re branching out in theme and craft alike, as the melody of the organ-laced “Sadlands” shows. There’s even some harmonica in “Agora (Killed by a Mountain Lion),” though it’s soon enough swallowed by pummel and the violent punk of “Ride the Waves” follows. “Summer of ’96” plays off Bryan Adams for another bit of familial love, while closing duo “Screw Unto Others” and “Kissing the Choir Boy” indict capitalist and religious figureheads in succession amid weighted plod and seething anger, the band oddly in their element in this meld of ups, downs and slaughter.

16 on Thee Facebooks

16 at Relapse Records

 

BoneHawk, Iron Mountain

bonehawk iron mountain

Kalamazoo four-piece BoneHawk make an awaited follow-up to their 2014 debut, Albino Rhino (discussed here), in the form of Iron Mountain, thereby reminding listeners why it’s been awaited in the first place. Solid, dual-guitar, newer-school post-The Sword heavy rock. Second cut “Summit Fever” reminds a bit of Valley of the Sun and Freedom Hawk, but neither is a bad echelon of acts to stand among, and the open melodies of the subsequent title-track and the later “Fire Lake” do much to distinguish BoneHawk along the way. The winding lead lines of centerpiece “Wildfire” offer due drama in their apex, and “Thunder Child” and “Future Mind” are both catchy enough to keep momentum rolling into the eight-minute closer “Lake of the Clouds,” which caps with due breadth and, yes, is the second song on the record about a lake. That’s how they do in Michigan and that’s just fine.

BoneHawk on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

DÖ, Black Hole Mass

do black hole mass

follow the Valborg example of lumbering barking extremity into a cosmic abyss on their Black Hole Mass three-songer, emitting charred roll like it’s interstellar background radiation and still managing to give an underlying sense of structure to proceedings vast and encompassing. “Gravity Sacrifice” and “Plasma “Psalm” are right on in their teeth-grinding shove, but it’s the 10-minute finale “Radiation Blessing” that steals my heart with its trippy break in the middle, sample, drifting guitar and all, as the Finnish trio build gradually back up to a massive march all the more effective for the atmosphere they’ve constructed around it. Construction, as it happens, is the underlying strength of Black Hole Mass, since it’s the firm sense of structure beneath their songs that allows them to so ably engage their dark matter metal over the course of these 22 minutes, but it’s done so smoothly one hardly thinks about it while listening. Instead, the best thing to do is go along for the ride, brief as it is, or at least bow head in appreciation to the ceremony as it trods across rigid stylistic dogma.

DÖ on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings website

 

Howling Giant & Sergeant Thunderhoof, Turned to Stone Chapter 2: Masamune & Muramasa

turned to stone chapter 2 howling giant sergeant thunderhoof

Let this be a lesson to, well, everyone. This is how you do a conceptual split. Two bands getting together around a central idea — in this case, Tennessee’s Howling Giant and UK’s Sergeant Thunderhoof — both composing single tracks long enough to consume a vinyl side and expanding their reach not only to work with each other but further their own progressive sonic ideologies. Ripple Music‘s Turned to Stone split series is going to have a tough one to top in Masamune & Muramasa, as Howling Giant utterly shine in “Masamune” and the rougher-hewn tonality of Sergeant Thunderhoof‘s “Maramasa” makes an exceptional complement. Running about 41 minutes, the release is a journey through dynamic, with each act pushing their songwriting beyond prior limits in order to meet the occasion head-on and in grand fashion. They do, and the split easily stands among the best of 2020’s short releases as a result. If you want to hear where heavy rock is going, look no further.

Howling Giant on Thee Facebooks

Sergeant Thunderhoof on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Chimney Creeps, Nosedive

chimney creeps nosedive

Punkish shouts over dense noise rock tones, New York trio Chimney Creeps make their full-length debut with Nosedive, which they’ve self-released on vinyl. The album runs through seven tracks, and once it gets through the straight-ahead heavy punk of “March of the Creeps” and “Head in the Sand” at the outset, the palette begins to broaden in the fuzzy and gruff “Unholy Cow,” with the deceptively catchy “Splinter” following. “Creeper” and “Satisfied” before it are longer and accordingly more atmospheric, with a truck-backing-up sample at the start of “Creeper” that would seem to remind listeners just where the band’s sound has put them: out back, around the loading dock. Fair enough as “Diving Line” wraps in accordingly workmanlike fashion, the vocals cutting through clearly as they have all the while, prominent in the mix in a way that asks for balance. “Bright” I believe is the word an engineer might use, but the vocals stand out, is the bottom line, and thereby assure that the aggressive stance of the band comes across as more than a put-on.

Chimney Creeps on Thee Facebooks

Chimney Creeps on Bandcamp

 

Kingnomad, Sagan Om Rymden

Kingnomad - Sagan Om Rymden

Kingnomad‘s third album, Sagan Om Rymden certainly wants nothing for scope or ambition, setting its progressive tone with still-hooky opener “Omniverse,” before unfurling the more patient chug in “Small Beginnings” and taking on such weighted (anti-)matter as “Multiverse” and “The Creation Hymn” and “The Unanswered Question” later on. Along the way, the Swedish troupe nod at Ghost-style melodicism, Graveyard-ish heavy blues boogie — in “The Omega Experiment,” no less — progressive, psychedelic and heavy rocks and no less than the cosmos itself, as the Carl Sagan reference in the record’s title seems to inform the space-based mythology expressed and solidified within the songs. Even the acoustic-led interlude-plus “The Fermi Paradox” finds room to harmonize vocals and prove a massive step forward for the band. 2018’s The Great Nothing (review here) and 2017’s debut, Mapping the Inner Void (review here), were each more accomplished than the last, but Sagan Om Rymden is just a different level. It puts Kingnomad in a different class of band.

Kingnomad on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Shores of Null, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)

Shores of Null Beyond the Shores On Death and Dying

By the time Shores of Null are nine minutes into the single 38-minute track that makes up their third album, Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying), they would seem to have unveiled at least four of the five vocalists who appear throughout the proceedings, with the band’s own Davide Straccione joined by Swallow the Sun‘s Mikko Kotamäki as well as Thomas A.G. Jensen (Saturnus), Martina Lesley Guidi (of Rome’s Traffic Club) and Elisabetta Marchetti (INNO). There are guests on violin, piano and double-bass as well, so the very least one might say is that Shores of Null aren’t kidding around when they’re talking about this record in a sense of being ‘beyond’ themselves. The journey isn’t hindered so much as bolstered by the ambition, however, and the core five-piece maintain a steady presence throughout, serving collectively as the uniting factor as “Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)” moves through its portrayal of the stages of grief in according movements of songcraft, gorgeously-arranged and richly composed as they are as they head toward the final storm. In what’s been an exceptional year for death-doom, Shores of Null still stand out for the work they’ve done.

Shores of Null on Thee Facebooks

Spikerot Records website

 

The Device, Tribute Album

the device tribute album

Tectonic sludge has become a mainstay in Polish heavy, and The Device, about whom precious little is known other than they’re very, very, very heavy when they want to be, add welcome atmospherics to the lumbering weedian procession. “Rise of the Device” begins the 47-minute Tribute Album in crushing form, but “Ritual” and the first minute or so of “BongOver” space out with droney minimalism, before the latter track — the centerpiece of the five-songer and only cut under six minutes long at 2:42 — explodes in consuming lurch. “Indica” plays out this structure again over a longer stretch, capping with birdsong and whispers and noise after quiet guitar and hypnotic, weighted riffing have played back and forth, but it’s in the 23-minute closer “Exhale” that the band finds their purpose, a live-sounding final jam picking up after a long droning stretch to finish the record with a groove that, indeed, feels like a release in the playing and the hearing. Someone’s speaking at the end but the words are obscured by echo, and to be sure, The Device have gotten their point across by then anyhow. The stark divisions between loud and quiet on Tribute Album are interesting, as well as what the band might do to cover the in-between going forward.

Galactic SmokeHouse Records on Thee Facebooks

The Device on Bandcamp

 

Domo, Domonautas Vol. 2

Domo Domonautas Vol 2

Spanish progressive heavy psychedelic semi-instrumentalists Domo follow late-2019’s Domonautas Vol. 1 (review here) with a four-song second installment, and Domonautas Vol. 2 answers its predecessor back with the jazz-into-doom of “Avasaxa” (7:43) and the meditation in “Dolmen” (13:50) on side A, and the quick intro-to-the-intro “El Altar” (2:06) and the 15-minute “Vientohalcón” on side B, each piece working with its own sense of motion and its own feeling of progression from one movement to the next, never rushed, never overly patient, but smooth and organic in execution even in its most active or heaviest stretches. The two most extended pieces offer particular joys, but neither should one discount the quirky rhythm at the outset of “Avasaxa” or the dramatic turn it makes just before five minutes in from meandering guitar noodling to plodding riffery, if only because it sounds like Domo are having so much fun catching the listener off guard. Exactly as they should be.

Domo on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website

 

Early Moods, Spellbound

early moods spellbound

Doom be thy name. Or, I guess Early Moods be thy name, but doom definitely be thy game. The Los Angeles four-piece make their debut with the 26-minute Spellbound, and I suppose it’s an EP, but the raw Pentagram worship on display in the opening title-track and the Sabbath-ism that ensues flows easy and comes through with enough sincerity of purpose that if the band wanted to call it a full-length, one could hardly argue. Guitar heads will note the unbridled scorch of the solos throughout — centerpiece “Isolated” moves from one into a slow-Slayer riff that’s somehow also Candlemass, which is a feat in itself — while “Desire” rumbles with low-end distortion that calls to mind Entombed even as the vocals over top are almost pure Witchcraft. They save the most engaging melody for the finale “Living Hell,” but even that’s plenty grim and suited to its accompanying dirt-caked feel. Rough in production, but not lacking clarity, Spellbound entices and hints at things to come, but has a barebones appeal all its own as well.

Early Moods on Thee Facebooks

Dying Victims Productions website

 

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Desert Tree House Release Cactus Eater LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

desert tree house

Playing out across four extended tracks, the debut full-length Cactus Eater by Freiburg, Germany, desert-fuzz duo Desert Tree House was first released digitally by the band in June 2019. That’s about a year after Alpha and Pedro (the latter also of Deaf Proof) got together and started jamming, so yeah, they made pretty good time coming up with circa 45 minutes of material for the record. Safe to assume they had a pretty good idea of what they were going for, and the guitar-and-drum rawness conveys the spirit of their desert rock homage pretty smoothly, and as I apparently missed it the first time around, I’m glad to have caught wind of their doings via the news of the Cactus Eater vinyl release today through Clostridium Records.

For the converted, there’s little to argue with, and if you’re looking for some trippy groove to wander along with, the ebbs and flows of “Blue Sun Overdrive” do quite nicely. I’m not gonna say they’re changing the world — or trying to for that matter — but on a by-genre-for-genre level, they’ll get knowing heads nodding.

Stream’s at the bottom of the post if you want to check it out before you chase down a platter:

desert tree house cactus eater

Desert Tree House – Cactus Eater LP

Desert Tree House is Alpha (guitars) and Pedro (drums), an instrumental Stoner Rock duo from Freiburg (GER) delivering songs ranging from doom to psychedelic and onward toward more progressive elements.

CLOSTRIDIUM RECORDS released their kick-ass debut on vinyl on 30.09.20. As DIE HARD “Sunrise Skytrip” edition in transparent and black with red and white splatter (incl. exklusive CACTUS EATER THE VOCAL SESSIONS CD feat Anti Man (Vocals LOA RIDE) & Isa (Vocals SOUND OF SMOKE), download code, poster and beer mat) or in classic black (incl. download code and beer mat).

This gorgeous LP treatment will maximize the enjoyment of listening to CACTUS EATER!

Desert Tree House is Alpha on guitar and Pedro on drums, an instrumental Stoner Rock duo from Freiburg, Germany, founded in mid 2018.

For these two men, it is all about the music, any fan of the Stoner style will thoroughly enjoy their brand of music as their debut CACTUS EATER with four songs, most of them running over 10 minutes, delivers catchy melodies and Psychedelica in a Truckfighters Style (“Cactus Eater”), a really heavy, doomy stonergroove like Kyuss did (“Cyancali Desert”), straight-forward rocking (“Dry Valley”) or bluesy and progressive stuff (“Blue Sun Overdrive”). And it’s not a simple citation or an arbitrary mixture, it’s a unique sound, it is pure riff worshipping for mind and soul!

Alpha also plays in Zim Zum Crash for years and Pedro is part of the Psychedelic Stoner band Deaf Proof founded in 2006 and of Heavy Water Cult (Alternative Stoner), which started 2016. They are also the founding members of the four-piece Doom band Brocken which has been around since 2017.

Their thorough and methodic approach to their music helped the two men move quickly from their initial session right onto the stage in June, and their efforts were quickly rewarded as they soon were opening for bands like Elder from the States, the Great Machine from Israel, the Re-Stoned from Russia, or even one of Germany’s own Stoner stalwarts: Rotor.

https://deserttreehouse.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/deserttreehouse/
https://www.facebook.com/clostridiumrecords/
http://www.clostridiumrecords.com/

Desert Tree House, Cactus Eater (2019)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Domo, Domonautas Vol. 1

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

domo domonautas vol 1

[Click play above to stream Domonautas Vol. 1 by Domo in its entirety. Album is out Dec. 15 on Clostridium Records.]

With psychedelia itself so often given to ideas of fluidity, being molten and/or in some way liquid, it only seems fair that Domo‘s Domonautas Vol. 1 should be such a melting pot. Issued on limited LP in an edition of 400 copies by Clostridium Records — 250 black, 150 red/black transparent splatter for a die-hard edition — the four-track/37-minute offering is the first offering of any kind from the Alicante, Spain, four-piece since 2015’s split with Pyramidal, Jams from the Sun (review here), which also followed some four years after their 2011 self-titled debut (review here).

Their stated intention is that Domonautas Vol. 1 is to be the first of a two-part continuity of albums with Maarten Donders cover art, and that Domonautas Vol. 2 will follow next year, essentially completing the single work across two LPs. I don’t know if Vol. 2 is written, let alone recorded — it could very well be both or either — but it’s an ambitious undertaking for the jam-based psych outfit, and however it works out over the next 12 months, it’s worth noting that Domonautas Vol. 1 in no way sounds incomplete. Its four included tracks are arranged for maximum immersion, with “Oxímoron” (5:15) at the outset giving way to “Astródomo” (12:28) on side A, and “Ritual del Sol” (12:04) and closer “Planisferio” (7:56) finishing the thread on side B.

This shorter-longer-longer-shorter construction, parabolic in its way, creates an arc that brings the listener deeper into the proceedings from the start of “Oxímoron,” which sets off in grandiose fashion, with effects-laced synth severity, like something out of a lysergic Ben-Hur, for almost its full initial two minutes, acting more as an intro to the album(s). From there, a drift of wah with a still-vaguely Middle Eastern vibe takes hold, echoing trumpet in the distance playing out alongside quiet drums from Paco and melodic guitar lines. Sam and Pablo (the latter also trumpet) handle six-string duties with due attention to effects sprawl.

Perhaps some of that Moorish architecture in the arrangement comes from a Viaje a 800 influence from further south in Algeciras on the coast, but, one way or the other, Domo use the final build to introduce bassist Óscar‘s first vocals of the record and with just a beat of a pause between, go from the end of “Oxímoron” to the full-on fuzz roll verse riff of “Astródomo,” thick and righteous, with vocals echoing up to further a sense of space, subtle layering of shouts and acoustic guitar flourish (or what sounds like it, anyhow) for further breadth. “Astródomo” is the longest cut on Domonautas Vol. 1 — not by a lot, but still — and it uses its time to affect multiple changes in movement, beginning a more winding transitional course at about three and a half minutes in as a bed for an emergent lead over a more forward rhythm before crashing into another verse, this one with a stomping march behind, and an extended ring-out and feedback course around the seven-minute mark, underscored and held together by the bassline.

domo (Photo by Rafa Perdomo)

It is a moment of hypnosis led by Óscar that the band will soon enough pay off with a return of vocals, guitar and drums, but that bassline — which seems to draw a bit from Clutch‘s “Spacegrass” in its construction; not a complaint — is a quiet moment that does much to showcase the range that seems to be at play across Domonautas Vol. 1, as the band are perfectly capable of moving between loud and quiet stretches, either creating a wash of effects and riffs or leaving open space for the unsuspecting audience to lose itself within. This serves them well during the instrumental passages of “Astródomo” and “Ritual del Sol,” the latter of which is arguably the most patient of the inclusions on the record.

It unfolds gradually across a multi-stage linear build, led by the guitar with effects/horn backing for atmosphere, and kicks in its fuzz at 3:45, still maintaining a post-rock kind of spirit, which will tie into “Planisferio” as well soon enough. A surge of low end accompanies the entry of vocals, and a new stage of nod is entered, but it’s short-lived as the bass and drums drop out to leave the guitar to set up a more forward riff that becomes the central adrenaline charge of the progression. They shift smoothly into a solo that carries them to and through the halfway point, turn back to a quick couple lines, then blast out even more desert-cosmic, eventually bringing the proceedings downward in energy level to a stretch of effects and subdued guitar float, tension holding in the bass as a tell that they’re not actually done yet.

Sure enough, after 10 minutes, they’re off and running again on the jam, and that leads them out in full party fashion. It would seem to be the apex of Domonautas Vol. 1 were it not for the instrumentalist work “Planisferio” does in setting up its grand finale, working from the ground up on a larger riff, receding again and gracefully executing a heavy psychedelic interpretation of what post-metal has taken on as a signature element: the “Stones from the Sky” moment, wherein that ultra-landmark Neurosis riff provides the foundation of a crescendo, usually manipulated in some way.

Domo join it to a melodic flourish of guitar and keep the central rhythm in focus all the while, pushing forward through that key progression and — most importantly — making it their own as the wind and twist toward the finish of the record, which comes in last crashes and residual guitars. I don’t know when Domonautas Vol. 2 might surface, and if there’s more to the story than Domo are telling here, I’ll be curious to find out just what that is, but it bears repeating that Domonautas Vol. 1 comes through as a coherent, complete statement, and doesn’t seem at its conclusion to be missing anything. That is, it doesn’t sound like you’re listening to half of a record, which is only a positive. Whatever Domo‘s future plans might be, after some years’ delay, they’ve given listeners plenty to explore with these tracks and the scope that seems to come so naturally from them.

Domo on Thee Facebooks

Domo on Instagram

Domo on Bandcamp

Domo website

Clostridium Records on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website

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Domo Set Dec. 15 Release for Domonautas Vol. 1; Teaser Clip Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

domo (Photo by Rafa Perdomo)

What’s that you say? You were just thinking it had been a while since we heard from jammy Spanish heavy psych four-piece Domo? Well that’s pretty wild. You’re not wrong. Their last outing was four years ago in 2015, and that was a split with Pyramidal called Jams from the Sun (review here), so yes, if you believe in due, they’re due. They’ve aligned with Clostridium Records for the limited vinyl edition(s) of their new full-length, which is titled Domonautas Vol. 1 and will be out Dec. 15. No full songs from the record — and with four extended tracks making it up, I’m not sure there will be — but there’s a teaser posted that at least offers a kind of ambient glimpse at the mood they’re shooting for.

Of course, those looking to dig further can always go back and revisit Jams from the Sun and/or their 2011 self-titled debut (review here). Jeez. Eight years from their first record to their second. I might have to start calling this band “prog” if they’re going to take that long to put stuff out.

Looking forward to it, either way. They posted the following on thee social medias:

domo domonautas vol 1

Domo – Domonautas Vol. 1

We are very excited to show you the cover of our next album (Domonautas Vol. 1)! , which we can confirm that it will go on sale on December 15 on Clostridium Records. The artwork has been created by the great Maarten Donders, and has done a fantastic job that has left us with our mouths wide open.

Besides, we´re advancing you the tracklist of the album, which will consist of four songs, and as you can imagine, they will be progressive and psychedelic long songs in a classic Domo way:

1. Oxymoron
2. Astródomo
3. Ritual of the sun
4. the planisphere

Soon, more news!

It will be 150 copies in red & black splatter color, and 250 copies in black. And of course, all accompanied by the wonderful artwork made by Maarten Donders.

Remember the date: December 15th 2019.

Video by Javi Peral

Domo is:
Sam (guitar/fx)
Pablo (guitar/fx/trumpet)
Óscar (bass/vocals)
Paco (drums/percussion)

https://www.facebook.com/domorockband/
https://www.instagram.com/domoband/
https://domoband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.domoband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/clostridiumrecords/
http://www.clostridiumrecords.com/

Domo, Domonautas Vol. 1 teaser

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Tribu Announce Círculo Vinyl Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

There is an awful lot to process on Círculo, the debut album from Peruvian experimentalists Tribu, as the record digs into native instrumentation and folk influences, psychedelia, progressive rock and minimalist atmospherics, all the while employing a wide range of guests around the core multi-instrumentalist/vocalist duo of Richard Nossar (Matus) and Yazmin Cuadros. The material ranges from the modern to the ancient, and as in “Todos los Jaguares (Canto para Yana),” finds itself digging into chanting in ceremonial fashion, not so much cult ritual as communion with something beyond the self through music, which I’m pretty sure is how music was invented in the first place. So kudos. Roots psych, maybe?

Tribu released Círculo digitally this past Fall through Catrina Records and have aligned to Clostridium for the vinyl version. 300 copies will be pressed, as the PR wire informs:

tribu circulo

TRIBU’s debut album Círculo vinyl release

Bochum based Clostridium Records in association with Lima’s new label Catrina Records proudly announce the worldwide vinyl release of Circulo, the debut album of Peruvian Shamanistic Psychedelic Shoegaze duo TRIBU.

TRIBU, formed in late 2016 by singer multi-instrumentalist Yazmin Cuadros and Richard Nossar of (Don Juan) Matus fame in the archaeological monument Chavin de Huantar, a place which was the religious-administrative center of the Chavin culture, built and inhabited between 1500 and 300 AC.

Circulo uses recorded sounds of over 20 instruments ranging from tribal percussion devises to electric guitars and featuring over 10 guests including members of well known Peruvian bands such as La Ira de Dios, Pax, Matus, El Aire among others.

The album, which earned “record of the year” accolades in Peruvian underground and mainstream media, was originally issued, on CD format only, in late 2018 via Catrina Records, therefore making this the first time the album is available worldwide in analog format.

The LP will be a limited hand numbered edition of 300 copies, pressed on 180g marbled vinyl.

Tracklisting:
1. El Camino de las Luciérnagas 03:20
2. Llegando al Sol 04:45
3. Oiré 02:14
4. After Dark 04:35
5. Todos los Jaguares (Canto para Yana) 06:23
6. Viento 04:11
7. Nube Roja 06:10
8. Dice Ser 1:55

TRIBU is:
Yazmín Cuadros – Lead vocals, acoustic guitar, bolang gu, ceramic whistle, kaossilator, maracas, Native American double flute, owl flute, ocarina, sequencer, siku, shakapa, Tibetan crotales & water drum
Richard Nossar – Electric guitar, electric bass guitar, keyboards, gong, pun & vocals

https://tribu8.bandcamp.com/releases
https://soundcloud.com/tribu_peru
https://www.facebook.com/clostridiumrecords/
http://www.clostridiumrecords.com/

Tribu, Círculo (2018/2019)

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Quarterly Review: Hallatar, Alastor, The Dead-End Alley Band, Hair of the Dog, Soup, Kungens Män, Smoke Wizzzard, Highburnator, The Curf, Ulls

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Here we are, gathered for round four of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review. After the technical issues with the site for the last couple days, I’m glad to have everything back up and running, and one more time I thank Slevin and Behrang Alavi for making that happen. Though I have no idea what it might actually entail, I don’t imagine switching hosts on the fly for a site with as much content as this one has is easy, but they of course killed it and it is thoroughly appreciated. We move forward, as ever, with 10 more records. So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Hallatar, No Stars Upon the Bridge

hallatar-no-stars-upon-the-bridge

Finland’s Hallatar was formed after the passing of Trees of Eternity vocalist Aleah Starbridge, life partner of guitarist and songwriter Juha Ravio (also Swallow the Sun). In the new outfit, Ravio pays homage to Starbridge with the debut long-player No Stars Upon the Bridge (on Svart) by using her poems as lyrics, samples of her voice reading on “Raven’s Song,” “Spiral Gate” and the piano-backed centerpiece “Pieces,” and by bringing in Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen and ex-HIM drummer Gas Lipstick to complete a trio playing nine tracks/40 minutes of deeply mournful/beautiful death-doom. The extremity of lurch in “The Maze” late in the record is matched by the gorgeousness of the chants and shimmering guitar on closer “Dreams Burn Down,” and from the opening strains of “Mirrors,” the emotion driving No Stars Upon the Bridge is sincere and affecting. Cuts like “Melt” and the mostly-whispered-until-it-explodes “My Mistake” have a sense of the theatrical in their delivery, but that makes them no less genuine, and though one wouldn’t wish the circumstances leading to the band’s formation on anybody, there’s no question that with Hallatar, Ravio turns tragedy into a lush, resonant catharsis.

Hallatar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Alastor, Black Magic

alastor black magic

Cultish echoes pervade Black Magic, the debut album from Swedish doom-rolling four-piece Alastor, and it’s not so much that the initials-only four-piece of guitarists H and J, bassist/vocalist R and drummer S take influence from Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath, it’s what they do with that influence that’s most striking. Black Magic is made up of three extended tracks – “Enemy” (11:51), “Nothing to Fear” (7:42) and “Black Magic” (14:27) – and with a deep tonal engagement, each one embarks on a huge-sounding sprawl of doom. Yes, the guitars owe the swirl in “Nothing to Fear” to Jus Oborn, but the echoes behind R’s voice there and the melody have an almost New Wave-style feel despite the “all right now!” drawn right from the Ozzy playbook. In other words, Alastor are preaching to the converted, and that holds true in the snowblinded Luciferian spaciousness of the title-track’s early going as well, but the converted should have no problem finding the gospel in what they’re hearing, and as “Black Magic” rounds out with its chanted feel, Alastor affirm the potential to progress within this sound and to continue to develop it into something even more their own than it is now. Familiar superficially, but sneaky in the details, so watch out.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records webstore

 

The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms

the dead-end-alley-band-storms

Lima-based four-piece The Dead-End Alley Band aren’t far into opener “Red Woman” before the dark-psych vibe and languid groove have properly emphasized just how much the guitar of Leonardo Alva and the organ of Sebastian Sanchez-Botta (also vocals) complement each other. Propelled by the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Javier Kou and drummer Jafer Diaz, Storms is the third album from them behind 2015’s Odd Stories (discussed here) and 2013’s debut, Whispers of the Night (review here), and it continues to blend fuzz and classic garage doom impulses on songs like “Headstone Fortress” and the shuffling “Thunderbolts and Lace,” the latter of which wah-trips to the max around a stirring boogie before “The Clock has Stopped” weirds out on extra vocal echoes and nine-minute closer “Waiting for the Void” brings in the progressive touches of pan flute and percussion. Even in the earlier, shortest track “Need You (It’s Enough),” The Dead-End Alley Band bring no shortage of personality to the proceedings, and confirm that the rough edges of their early outings have matured into essential aspects of who they have become as a band, completely in control of their craft and able to conjure an atmosphere both classic and individual.

The Dead-End Alley Band on Thee Facebooks

The Dead-End Alley Band on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Hair of the Dog, This World Turns

hair-of-the-dog-this-world-turns

Making their debut on Kozmik Artifactz, Scottish trio Hair of the Dog give their guitar-led compositions plenty of time to flesh out on This World Turns, their third album, as they demonstrate quickly on the nine-plus minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points), but one would hardly call their songwriting indulgent there or anywhere else as “This World Turns” flows easily into the following seven-minute push of “Keeping Watch over the Night” in a resolute one-two punch that soon gives way to the shorter and more driving “Ctrl-Alt-Del,” touching on influences from Thin Lizzy and Scorpions en route as well as modern practitioners like Kadavar, whose stamp can also be heard on side B launch “The Colours in Her Skin.” That’s not to say Hair of the Dog — guitarist/vocalist Adam Holt (interview here), bassist Iain Thomson and drummer Jon Holt – don’t leave their own mark as well, just that their blend stems from multiple sources. A bit of Lynottism surfaces in the penultimate “In Death’s Hands” as well, which has a more subdued feel despite fervent rhythmic movement underlying, and closer “4AM” soars with enough vigor and soul – and a little falsetto – to give This World Turns a suitably smooth and vibrant finish.

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Soup, Remedies

soup remedies

With ties to Motorpsycho through guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, Soup issue their sixth long-player in the five-track lush melodicism of Remedies, which feels particularly aptly named for the immersion the wash that opener “Going Somewhere” is able to elicit. That is, of course, just the first of the spacious, semi-folk-infused progressions, and it’s with the longer-form “The Boy and the Snow” (11:33) and the psychedelic purposeful meandering of “Sleepers” (13:35) that Remedies truly unveils its considerable breadth, but the Crispin Glover Records release holds a sense of poise even in the two-minute centerpiece church organ interlude “Audion,” and the harmonies of “Nothing Like Home” bring to mind peak-era Porcupine Tree patience and fluidity while holding fast to the bright, orange-sunshiny warmth of the atmosphere as a whole, instruments dropping out just before three minutes in to showcase the vocals before returning to embark on the march to the final crescendo, not at all overblown but with just a touch of extra volume to let listeners dive deeper into the moment. Remedies feels quick at 42 minutes, but turns out to be just what the doctor ordered.

Soup on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

 

Kungens Män, Dag & Natt

kungens-man-dag-natt

Prolific psych-progging Stockholmers Kungens Män return with Dag & Natt, a 2CD/2LP issued through Kungens Ljud & Bild (CD) and Adansonia Records (LP) that overflows with jazzy fluidity and gorgeous immersion. The band’s last studio outing was late-2015’s Förnekaren (review here), and whether it’s 13-minute pieces like opener “Morgonrodnad” and the even-more-krautrocking “Aftonstjärnan” or the seemingly complementary inclusions of the kosmiche-minded “Dag” and wonderfully drifting “Natt,” the album as a whole is a joy and a boon to anyone looking for an extended psychedelic meander. The saxophone of Gustav Nygren on the aforementioned leadoff and “Natt” makes a particularly striking impression, but with a steady, languid wash of guitar, synth and warm bass throughout, Dag & Natt wants nothing for flow, and the gentle, classy spirit is maintained even as the penultimate “Vargtimmen” ups the sense of thrust leading into the finisher payoff of “Cirkeln är Slut.” As of now, Kungens Män should be considered a too-well-kept secret of Scandinavia’s psych underground, though listening to Dag & Natt, one wonders just how long they’ll stay that way.

Kungens Män on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Smoke Wizzzard, Run with the Wolf

smoke-wizzzard-run-with-the-wolf

Whether it’s through the striking and gruesome cover art or through the lumbering post-Sabbath, post-Cathedral stoner-doom nod contained within, Smoke Wizzzard’s five-song self-titled debut LP thoroughly earns its third ‘z’ – and, for that matter, its second one – with played-to-form thickness and a tonal push that starts with 10-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Astro Lord” and continues to swagger and swing with due viscosity through “Reptiles” after the minute-long punker curveball “Soul Train.” The highlight of the Pittsburgh trio’s first outing might be “The Pass,” which has a hazy patience and some rightly-featured bass tone, but as “Run with the Wolf” moves from its early Electric Wizard muckraking to cap with piano and included howls for a doomier feel, it becomes clear Smoke Wizzzard have yet to play their full stylistic hand and the real highlights may still be yet to come. Fair enough. Something tells me getting stranger is only going to be a boon to Smoke Wizzzard’s approach on the whole, so bring it on.

Smoke Wizzzard on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Wizzzard on Bandcamp

 

Highburnator, Keystoned State

highburnator-keystoned-state

If you hit up Highburnator’s Bandcamp and download their name-your-price Keystoned State EP, you might note the fifth and final inclusion is the entire live-recorded, 28-minute release presented as a single track. No doubt the Pennsylvania three-piece intend the four-song outing to be taken just that way. They begin with the “mad as hell” speech sampled from the 1976 film Network and from there unfold a potent riffly brew met head on with harsh East Coast hardcore-style vocals and more metallic growls. That’s nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Brass Rail,” and it sets the tone for what follows on the eponymous “Highburnator” before “Desert Funeral” and the Sleep-style nod of “Peaking at the Coffin” push into even more stonerly vibes. This melding of pissed-off disaffection and mid-paced heavy rock groove is particular to the sludge of the Eastern Seaboard – think of it as regional fare – but Highburnator find space for themselves in the rawness of their riffs and the charm of their puns, and by the time they’re through the four songs, it makes sense why they might want to present the full onslaught as a single entity, essentially giving it to their listeners on one overflowing platter. Got the munchies? It’s right there waiting.

Highburnator on Thee Facebooks

Highburnator on Bandcamp

 

The Curf, Death and Love

the-curf-death-and-love

Greek psych-doomers The Curf made their debut in 2007 with I and then went radio silent until last year’s Royal Water EP. Their sophomore full-length, Death and Love, then, arrives via Fuzz Ink Records with some amount of intrigue behind it, but either way, the sans-pretense heavy roll the band unfurls on “Dark Hado,” and the more uptempo “Smoke Ring,” the dig-in low end of “Lunar Lair” and the scream-topped start-stoppery of “California” present a varied take brought together through heft as well as the crispness of production and delivery, such that when it wants to, Death and Love can bite down hard, but as on the closing title-track or the earlier “Order ‘n’ Sin,” it can rumble out spaciousness as well. Whatever might’ve taken The Curf so long to put together a second album beats the hell out of me, but if they were looking to make an argument for a third one, they do so convincingly across these nine songs, which hold firmly to their overarching flow despite the emergent stylistic range.

The Curf on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records webstore

 

Ulls, I

ULLS I

For now, Ulls is the solo-project of Barcelona-based David Trillo, formerly guitarist/vocalist for the heavy progressive trio Lord Summerisle, but the hope seems to be to build a full band at some point in the future. The I EP might rightly be called a demo, then, but for the professionalism and cohesiveness of sound with which its three songs are presented and the clarity of intent behind them. With Trillo rumbling away on bass beneath, six-minute opener “Inhumat” fleshes out its arrangement with organ alongside guitar swirl and sets up the classically swinging strut of “Llot Convuls,” on which the drums post-midsection lead the way through starts and stops à la a restless King Crimson and the guitar joins with no less angularity. Eight-minute closer “L’Emersió de l’Executor” brings about a thicker overall tone, but holds to a similar mood through its first half, Trillo finding room after about the four-and-a-half-minute mark for a standout solo executed with the bass running fluidly alongside that carries the song to its fading finish just before seven minutes in, at which point a residual drone takes hold to lead the way out. That ending is telling when it comes to various impulses that might show themselves in Ulls going forward, but as an initial demonstration, suffice it to say that I makes it plain Trillo shouldn’t have much trouble finding other players to come aboard the band with him.

Ulls on Instagram

Ulls on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Arc of Ascent, Realms of the Metaphysical

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

arc of ascent realms of the metaphysical

[Click play above to stream ‘Eye of Sages’ from Arc of Ascent’s Realms of the Metaphysical. Album is out digitally and on CD April 11 via Astral Projection with vinyl to follow this June/July through Clostridium Records.]

It’s been just over half a decade since the release of the last Arc of Ascent album, but to listen to the six component tracks of Realms of the Metaphysical, one hardly gets a sense of time at all, let alone a span of years. The Hamilton, New Zealand, outfit boasts bassist/vocalist Craig Williamson, also of Lamp of the Universe and formerly of ready-for-reissue heavy rockers Datura, and together with rejoined guitarist Matt Cole-Baker — who did not feature on 2012’s The Higher Key (review here) but took part in Arc of Ascent‘s 2010 debut, Circle of the Sun (review here) — and drummer Mark McGeady, who makes his debut here (also handling the cover art), Williamson steers a winding course of cosmic riffing across 46 flowing, nod-worthy minutes.

Issued on CD through his own Astral Projection imprint with vinyl to follow from Clostridium RecordsRealms of the Metaphysical bears the hallmark shamanic circularity of Williamson‘s songcraft, as heard the last couple years in Lamp of the Universe offerings like late 2016’s Hidden Knowledge (review here) and 2015’s The Inner Light of Revelation (review here). That one-man project essentially picked up where Arc of Ascent last left off with its 2013 LP Transcendence (review here) and 2014 splits with Trip Hill and Krautzone (review here).

As Realms of the Metaphysical falls into place with the ongoing stream of output from Williamson, it’s easy as ever to read him as an auteur — and in the case of Lamp of the Universe having no other members, even easier — but the shift in context to Arc of Ascent and the contributions in fullness of sound from McGeady and Cole-Baker aren’t to be understated. Whatever lies at the core of “Eye of Sages” and “In the Light” in terms of songwriting, they are unmistakably the work of a complete band, and suitably weighted that it might require three people to carry them.

Rest assured, the heft comes accompanied by due spaciousness, and as Arc of Ascent seem to begin a return to activity with Realms of the Metaphysical, they do so not at all having lost the blend of craft, atmosphere and lumbering tonality that made their earlier records such riffy celebrations to start with. Repetition, groove and crash are factors right from the start of opener “Set the Planets Free,” and as songs regularly range past seven minutes — only the penultimate “Benediction Moon” is shorter, at 5:58 — there’s plenty of room for parts to flesh out as they will. Still, WilliamsonCole-Baker and McGeady don’t shy away from hooks, and before it moves into its echoing solo section circa the halfway point, “Set the Planets Free” establishes the first of them for them to return to later, which, to their credit, they do.

It seems odd to call something of such largesse straightforward, but part of Arc of Ascent‘s approach has always been their ability to conjure memorable impressions in vast reaches. In doing so, “Set the Planets Free” reclaims the modus, and “Eye of Sages” follows suit with “Hexagram” not far behind. Rolling verses and choruses typify “Eye of Sages,” a harder push emerging early en route to another midpoint spaceout, but it’s at 6:23, when the full plod returns, that the crux of the second track is truly revealed — a stomp and shove that comes to a fervent apex before rumbling out and fading into the layered guitar start of “Hexagram,” which gets underway with a resonant gong hit and takes a more psych-leaning bent overall.

The swirl is welcome, particularly with the clarity of Kenny MacDonald‘s mix and master — Dan Howard and Williamson engineered the recording — and as the side A finale moves into its chorus, it proves to be a vocal highlight from Williamson, who pushes himself to new limits of soulfulness without losing control, and seems all the more commanding as a frontman for that. Where “Set the Planets Free” and “Eyes of Sages” introduced swirling flourish only to return to their more grounded riffing, “Hexagram” chooses to keep pushing further out, with Cole-Baker‘s guitar fading in a lead past three minutes in that will come around again to close after one final chorus runthrough, capping the first half of Realms of the Metaphysical amid a wash of effects.

arc of ascent kelsi j photo

The album breaks neatly into two three-song halves, each on either side of 23 minutes, and with “In the Light,” the trio reengage the thickened nod of the opening duo while setting up a catchy landmark that summarizes much of what’s working best in Arc of Ascent circa 2017. A post-Sleep cadence of riff is immediate, but guitar and keys give an early preview of the broadness to come before Wililamson‘s vocals start the first verse, and “In the Light” lives up to the promise of both its tectonics and its breadth, enacting a march toward a shift after three minutes in that opens wide beneath a multi-stage guitar lead with choral keyboards and a steady forward rhythm.

As one of the three songs over eight minutes long along with “Set the Planets Free” and closer “Temple Stone” still to come, “In the Light” has plenty of time to flesh out this part before switching back to the verse and chorus, but it’s the ending that brings the two sides together — that keyboard line returning amid the full-brunt crash and stomp — that brings its payoff to that next level and makes it such a highlight of Realms of the Metaphysical as a whole. “Benediction Moon” opts for a relatively sans-frills approach, which sets up an effective contrast with “Temple Stone” while underscoring the raw songwriting proficiency of Arc of Ascent as a whole and reminding of the grunge influence tucked away under all that depth in the mix.

In a corresponding shift to the ethereal to “Hexagram” at the end of side A, “Temple Stone” rounds out with the most fervent push into psychedelia on the record. Where cuts like “Set the Planets Free,” “Eye of Sages” and “In the Light” had their psych breaks, beginning usually somewhere around the middle, the finale takes this ethic more to its root, and from its very start — with a layer of sitar resonating over a patient, subdued guitar figure — it sets a lysergic tone. Its verse riffs are still righteously heavy, but the chorus feels more open with a line of organ and keys coming into focus, and by the time the band are three minutes in, they’ve set themselves up to journey into whatever expanses they will. Another chorus finds Williamson again pushing his voice ably, and just past the four-minute mark, the drums and bass drop out and the sitar and guitar take hold.

What’s different about it this time is Williamson adds vocals to that melodic wash, and in so doing gives an impression right out of Lamp of the Universe, effectively tying the two outfits together in the span of one short verse. It’s there and gone to the point that if one isn’t careful it might be missed, but it definitely happens. Drums build back in and they make their way through another chorus en route to a soaking-wet crescendo that finds the lead guitar and organ aligned in their purposes, with the keys playing root notes as the strings solo around them. It’s the keys that ultimately provide the finish as the drums and bass again drop out (save for a tambourine) and the album ends on a long cycle of the organ line that has underscored the song all the while, fading out gradually and gracefully as it hits 9:40.

Realms of the Metaphysical may or may not mark a shift in focus for Williamson‘s creative energies. It could be he’ll work simultaneously on two projects, move back and forth between them as he has, or do something else entirely; pointless to speculate. What’s more important as regards the songs collected here and the flow Arc of Ascent create between them is they demonstrate in no uncertain terms that the band still had more to offer after The Higher Key and still has more to offer now, that there are further, deeper reaches for them to explore as a group, and that they’re willing to do the work of making that exploration a reality. Taken in combination with the quality of the finished product in its entirety, one can only hope their meditative and heavy-footed peripatetics continue to move forward. But if it’s five more years before we get another Arc of Ascent, at least Realms of the Metaphysical lets us know it’ll be worth the wait.

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