Plainride Premiere Video for New Single “Shepherd”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Plainride (Photo by Patrick Reuther)

The deep-state rumor mill has it that German heavy rockers Plainride are getting ready to release a third long-player at some point this year. March? April? May? June? The Cologne-based outfit — currently without a bassist — issued their second album, Life on Ares (review here), as their debut through Ripple Music, following on from 2015’s Return of the Jackalope (review here), with a more complex feel and richer songcraft. If “Shepherd” is a sign of things to come from their on-time-for-every-three-years-pace full-length, then their growth would seem to have continued unabated despite having to cancel plans in 2020 that included their first stops in North America for Maryland Doom Fest and Ripplefest in San Francisco.

Digging into “Shepherd” — something only made easier thanks to the cinematic feel accomplished by the video despite its apparently DIY/renegade making — one finds Plainride to be not at all rushed, but not lacking energy or purpose either. The lyrics and video both reference a relevant social-commentary stance, and that Plainride would attempt such a thing after their more straight-ahead beginnings — let alone that they’d make the song their first single — should tell you something about how they’re feeling going into album number three. Bolder. More confident. More themselves.

And well they should be. Life on Ares was an important step in Plainride‘s process of defining their course, and “Shepherd” heralds the next stage of that definition. The question, obviously, is how they build a record around it and where their dynamic has taken them in the last three years. Again, it’s just a rumor, but we may yet find out the answer to that sometime in the coming months.

While we’re envisioning an optimistic future, Plainride also have a few live dates booked for later this year. Wouldn’t that be nice? In a hopeful spirit, I’ve included them under the band quote that follows the video. Fingers crossed, y’all.

Enjoy:

Plainride, “Shepherd” official video premiere

Plainride on “Shepherd”:

“When we set out to shoot the video, we knew it was going to be a DIY endeavor. 2020 hasn’t been an easy year, so we were operating on an even tighter budget than usual. But seeing as we had already managed to produce the song independently, we were confident we’d be able to do the same for the music video – even though none of us had produced an actual music video before. We knew we had to shoot the entire video in one day, seeing as we had a rental camera, and we knew we needed a location where nobody would bother us and ask for a permit.

“Luckily, our rehearsal space, as many are in Germany, is located in an industrial area, so we had that going for us. We drew up a storyboard, trying to pick up on some of the themes of the song, like the encounter with the beggar and the idea of the capitalist being consumed by the fires he himself had set before. Especially the image of the beggarman’s can being lit on fire stuck with us, which is why we settled on it as the artwork for the song. Shooting the video itself was a ton of fun although we just about froze our asses off (it must’ve been around 6 degrees Celsius). It was so cold, the camera’s batteries kept giving out, so we had to constantly keep them warm using what little body heat we had. Judging by what we ended up with though, I’d definitely say it was worth it.”

PLAINRIDE ON TOUR
10/04/2021 – Ripplefest Cologne
07/08/2021 – Black Sunset Festival
19/08/2021 – Reload Festival
08/10/2021 – Fuzz Jam Festival
09/10/2021 – Setalight Festival
15/12/2021 – Hannover, Bei Chez Heinz
16/12/2021 – Göttingen, Dots / Vinylreservat
17/12/2021 – Hamburg, Drafthouse
18/12/2021 – Bochum, Trompete

Line-up:
Max Rebel (Vocals, Guitar)
Florian Schlenker (Drums)
Bob Vogston (Guitar)

Plainride on Instagram

Plainride on Thee Facebooks

Plainride on Spotify

Plainride on Bandcamp

Plainride website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Twitter

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Purple Dawn Premiere “Into the Shadowland”; Peace & Doom Session Vol. 1 out Dec. 18

Posted in audiObelisk on December 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

PURPLE DAWN

Cologne, Germany, trio Purple Dawn will release their debut full-length, Peace & Doom Session Vol. 1, on Dec. 18 through Ogorekords. The album pushes the limits of manageability at 58 minutes, but its time is put to varied use, with the record essentially breaking into two sections between its first five tracks and the final three. These are listed as A/B sides in the tracklisting, but I’m not sure how you might fit the 34-minute stretch between “Intro/Goatthrower I” and “Goatthrower II” onto a single 12″ side, but it’s a tape, so there’s no science-magic involved — oh, they’ve shunted the excess time through the tertiary plasma conduits and fed the bleed out through reversed-flow bussard collectors, ejecting it harmlessly into space! — unless you count the whole tiny-magnetic-strip-that-reproduces-sounds thing. Which I kind of do.

Either way, the first words one hears on the release, indeed, are the shouted “Goat-thrower!,” which may or may not be a play on Conan‘s “Bolt Thrower.” While we’re making assumptions, let’s figure that no goats were actually harmed during the writing or recording process of Peace & Doom Session — throwing goats would hardly be peaceful — and that instead the band are just having fun with dopey stoner tropes. More importantly, the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Patrick Rose, guitarist Timo Fritz and drummer Florian Geiling over prime, hard-hitting doom rock on the subsequent “Utopia/Dystopia,” the extra-raw vibe of a rehearsal recording sounding like it’d have fit perfectly in Maryland circa ’96 with backing from Hellhound Records. “Utopia/Dystopia” breaks into a spoken introduction saying hello to the world and thanks for watching what must’ve been the live stream from their rehearsal room from which these tracks are culled, and following another verse, an extended solo leads the way past the 10-minute track’s halfway mark, slowing down as presumably u- turns to dys- as regards -topias, but picking up speed once again near the finish to bring it all together.

It’s a lot to dig through, but beneath the rudimentary feel is solid songwriting and performance, and that continues throughout “The Greed” and the nine-plus-minute “Atlantis,” which is the only cut to appear on both ‘sides’ of the outing. That gives an even better comparison point for how Purple Dawn come across in a raw vs. sharper studio context, as the last three tracks — “Into the Shadowland,” “Verwunschen” and “Atlantis” — are more proper, traditional album-style recordings. One could make the argument that the band might’ve been better served by swapping the A/B of Peace & Doom Session and leading off with what here follows the rehearsal-room gig, but the way “Goatthrower II” and “Atlantis” and “Utopia/Dystopia” hit is hard and engaging on its own bootleg-ish level. And backed up by the cleaner-sounding material, the early going brings to mind what it might be like to see the band live; something both encouraging in the actual listening experience and poignant in concept. Plus, consider “demo tape.” There you go.

They are, on both sides, an engaging newcomer group obviously looking to show listeners what they’re all about. As you stream “Into the Shadowland” below ahead of the arrival of Peace & Doom Session Vol. 1, the vocals come through pretty prominently through my speakers, but that’s less the case on the studio version of “Atlantis,” so it might just be me. The band also offer more breadth in the instrumental “Verwunschen” between the two more straightforward cuts, so there’s very clearly even more to the story than this substantial initial offering is letting on.

All the same, enjoy the track. More background follows:

Purple Dawn
Peace & Doom Session Vol. 1
Ogorekords, 2020 (OR01)

Purple Dawn is a three-piece heavy rock/doom band from Cologne/Germany. The band was formed in 2019 by Timo Fritz (guitar), Patrick Rose (bass & vocals) and Florian Geiling (Drums).

The Peace & Doom Session is their first physical release and is split in two parts. The A-Side contains the complete Peace & Doom Session that was recorded live in the band’s rehearsal room in Cologne. These five tracks show a band that seems to play together for years already, delivering a fine modern blend of everything we love about heavy rock music. Their songs are mostly around the 6 minute mark (some shorter, some longer) and even though it’s all about the riff in this kind of music they don’t feel long at all due to their approach to keep things interesting with interludes and little lead-licks.

Patrick’s rough, yet melodic vocals fit in perfectly. The music itself gets enough room to unfold in every song creating the mood for the vocals when they come in. The B-Side contains three studio tracks and opens up with ‘Into the Shadowland’. After a slow and crushing start the song gets a bit faster with great melodic vocals and some really well-played guitar solos before it falls back into slower speed and the guitar-work leads us deep into the shadowlands. ‘Verwunschen’ is the only instrumental track on this release and also the only track without distorted guitars. The absence of vocals and (most of the time) drums is filled by psychedelic guitar layers. A surprisingly calm yet very well-fitting song between all the heaviness.

The closing track ‘Atlantis’ is also featured on the A-Side as a live track, the studio-version is just slightly longer and of course a little less rough.

Tracklist A-Side:
01. Intro / GOATTHROWER
02. Utopia / Dystopia
03. The Greed
04. Atlantis
05. GOATTHROWER Pt. II

Tracklist B-Side:
01. Into the Shadowland
02. Verwunschen
03. Atlantis

The tape will be released on December 18th via Ogorekords.

Purple Dawn on Thee Facebooks

Purple Dawn on Bandcamp

Ogorekords on Thee Facebooks

Ogorekords website

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Mouth to Reissue Debut LP Rhizome Dec. 4

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

German classic proggers Mouth will release their debut album, Rhizome, on vinyl through Tonzonen in December. It’s the first time the record, which originally came out in 2009, has come out on the format, and it’s been duly remastered to mark the occasion. Those who’ve come aboard with the band since its release, like myself, should be ready for something different than the somewhat more peaceful vibes of their second era work, but there’s still plenty of progressive stylization to the songs on Rhizome, blended with an energy that speaks to even harder rocking roots. Preorders, as they say, are up now.

Mouth‘s latest offering otherwise is this year’s Out of the Vortex, a collection of alternate mixes and lost tracks from their last two full-lengths. You can stream that as well as the original master of Rhizome below, courtesy of the band’s Bandcamp.

Dig:

mouth rhizome

MOUTH – RHIZOME (2020 Master)

Release: 12-4-20

Preorder now: https://www.tonzonen.de/rhizome/

The cult album by Mouth appears for the first time on vinyl. Remastered by Eroc (rough cut) the songs experience a completely new sound. For TZ subscribers and the first to order, the cover motif is included as a limited screen print (100 pieces).

MOUTH were formed in Cologne in 2000 as a trio, comprised of Christian Koller (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Jan Wendeler (bass, bass synth) and Nick Mavridis (drums, backing vocals, keyboards).

The band’s style is a blend of ‘golden era’ progressive rock – with influential names such are YES, GENESIS, GENTLE GIANT, SOFT MACHINE, HATFIELD & THE NORTH; as well as classic rock/hard rock and prog related names old and new: LED ZEPPELIN, THE WHO, DAVID BOWIE, T.REX and FISH. In 2007 they were offered to record an album, and their debut ‘Rhizome’, released for Bluenoise label, saw the light of the day two years later. Nearly at the same time Nick Mavridis left the band and was substituted by Thomas Ahlers until Mavridis re-entered the crew in 2010.

Jan Wendler left in 2012 and Gerald Kirsch joined as the new bass player since 2013. During the next years the band recorded a lot of songs, with the result of the albums ‘Vortex’ (2017) and ‘Floating’ (2018), both highly acclaimed productions showing way more kraut and psychedelic rock attitude. After the death of Gerald Kirsch (2018) the band went on a short hiatus, but could already announce Thomas Johnen as a new member in March 2019.

LP: 200 pieces (black high quality vinyl, inside out cover, download card, 100x screen printing)

https://www.facebook.com/mouthsound/
https://mouthprog.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soundcloud.com/mouthprog
https://www.facebook.com/Tonzonen/
https://www.instagram.com/tonzonenrecords/
https://www.tonzonen.de

Mouth, Rhizome (2009)

Mouth, Out of the Vortex (2020)

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Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Mutant Flesh, War Cloud, Void of Sleep, Pretty Lightning, Rosy Finch, Ghost Spawn, Agrabatti, Dead Sacraments, Smokemaster

Posted in Reviews on March 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Alarm went off this morning at 3:45. Got up, flicked on the coffee pot, turned the heat on in the house, hit the bathroom and was back in bed in four minutes with an alarm set for 4:15. Didn’t really get back to sleep, but the half-hour of being still was a kind of pre-waking meditation that I appreciated just the same. Was dozing when the alarm went off the second time, but it’s day two of the Quarterly Review, so no time to doze. No time for anything, as is the nature of these blocks of writeups. They tend to be all-consuming while they’re going on. Could be worse. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Khemmis, Doomed Heavy Metal

khemmis doomed heavy metal

Denver four-piece Khemmis have made themselves one of the most distinctive acts in metal, to say nothing of doom. With strong vocal harmonies out front backed by similarly-minded guitars, the band bring a sense of poise to doom that’s rare in the modern sphere, somewhat European in influence, but less outwardly adherent to the genre tenets of melancholy. They refuse to be Paradise Lost, in other words, and are all the more themselves for that. Their Doomed Heavy Metal EP (on 20 Buck Spin and Nuclear Blast) is a stopgap after 2018’s Desolation (review here) full-length, but at 38 minutes and six songs, it’s substantial nonetheless, headlined by the Dio cover “Rainbow in the Dark” — capably done with just a flair of Slough Feg — with a take on Lloyd Chandler‘s “A Conversation with Death” and “Empty Throne,” both rare-enough studio cuts, for backing, as well as three live cuts that cover their three-to-date albums. The growls on “Three Gates” are fun, but I’ll still take the Dio cover as the highlight. For a cobbled-together release, it feels at least like a bit of thoughtful fan-service, and really, a band could do worse than to serve their fans thoughtfully.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin store

Nuclear Blast Records store

 

Mutant Flesh, Evil Eye

mutant flesh evil eye

There are shades of doom metal’s origins underlying Mutant Flesh‘s first release, the eight-song/33-minute Evil Eye, but the Philly troupe are too gleeful in their weirdness ultimately to be paying full homage to the likes of Witchfinder General, and especially in a faster song like second cut “Meteoric” and the subsequent lead-guitar-flipout-and-vocal-soar title-track, they tap into the defiantly doomed vibe of earliest Saint Vitus. That’s true of the crawling “Euthanasia” as well, which crashes and nods as it approaches the six-minute mark as the longest inclusion here, but even the penultimate “Blight” brings that twisted-BlackFlag-noise-slowed-down spirit that lets you know there’s consciousness behind the chaos, and that while Mutant Flesh might seem to be all-the-way-gone, they’re really just getting started. Maybe their sound will even out over time, maybe it won’t, but for what it’s worth, they do ragged doom well from the opening “Leviathan (Lord of the Labyrinth)” onward, and feel right at home in the unhinged.

Mutant Flesh on Thee Facebooks

Mutant Flesh on Bandcamp

 

War Cloud, Earhammer Sessions

war cloud earhammer sessions

Having just shredded their way across Europe, War Cloud took their set into the Earhammer Studio with Greg Wilkinson at the helm in an attempt to capture the band in top form on their home turf. Did it work? The results on Earhammer Sessions (Ripple Music) don’t wait around for you to decide. They’re too busy kicking ass to take names, and if the resulting 29-minute burst is even half of what they brought to the stage on that tour, those must’ve been some goddamn shows. Songs like “White Lightning” and the snare-counted-in “Speed Demon” and “Striker” feel like they’re being given their due in the max-speed-NWOBHM-but-still-too-classy-to-be-thrash presentation, and honestly, this feels like War Cloud have found their method. If they don’t tour their next album and then hit the studio after and lay it down live, or at least as live as Earhammer Sessions is — one never knows as regards overdubs and isolation booths and all that — they’re doing themselves a disservice. War Cloud play metal. So what? So this.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Void of Sleep, Metaphora

Void of Sleep Metaphora

Void of Sleep return after half a decade with the prog-doom stylings of their third album, Metaphora (Aural Music), which stretches dramatically through songs like “Iron Mouth” (11:00), preceded by the intro “The Famine Years” and the shorter “Unfair Judgements,” preceded by the intro “Waves of Discomfort,” and still somehow manage not to sound out of place tapping into their inner Soilwork in the growled verses/clean choruses of “Master Abuser.” They get harsh a bit as well on “Tides of the Mourning,” which uses its 10:30 to summarize the bulk of the proceedings and close out the record after “Modern Man,” but that song has more of a scope and feels looser structurally for that. Still, that shift is only one of several throughout Metaphora, which follows the Italian five-piece’s 2015 LP, New World Order (discussed here), and wherever Void of Sleep are headed at any given moment, they head there with a duly controlled presence. Clearly their last five years have not been wasted.

Void of Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Aural Music store

 

Pretty Lightning, Jangle Bowls

pretty lightning jangle bowls

As yet, Germany’s Pretty Lightning remain a well kept secret of fuzz-psych-blues nuance, digging out their own niche-in-a-niche-in-a-niche microgenre with a natural and inadvertent-feeling sense of just writing the songs they want to write. Jangle Bowls, which puts its catchy, semi-garage title-track early in the proceedings, is the duo’s second offering through Fuzz Club Records behind 2017’s The Rhythm of Ooze (review here), and seem to present a mission statement in opener “Swamp Ritual” before bringing a due sense of excursion to “Boogie at the Shrine” — damn that’s a smooth groove — and reviving the movement in “RaRaRa,” which follows. Closer “Shovel Blues” is a highlight for how it drifts into oblivion, but the underlying tightness of craft in “123 Eternity” and “Hum” is an appeal as well, so it’s a tradeoff. But it’s one I’ll be glad to make across multiple repeat visits to Jangle Bowls while wondering how long this particular secret can actually be kept.

Pretty Lightning on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Club Records store

 

Rosy Finch, Scarlet

rosy finch scarlet

The painted-blood-red cover of Rosy Finch‘s second album, Scarlet (on Lay Bare Recordings), and horror-cinema-esque design isn’t a coincidence in terms of atmosphere, but the Spanish trio bring a more aggressive feel to the nine-track outing overall than they did to their 2016 debut, Witchboro (review here), with additional crunch in the guitar of Mireia Porto (also vocals and bass) and bassist Elena Garcia, and a forward kick drum from Lluís Mas that hammers home the impact of a cruncher like “Ruby” and even seems to ground the more melodic “Alizarina,” which follows, let alone the crushing opener/longest track (immediate points) “Oxblood” or its headspinning closing companion “Dark Cherry,” after which follows the particularly intense hidden cut “Lady Bug,” also not to be missed. Anger suits Rosy Finch, it seems, and the band bring a physicality to the songs on Scarlet that only reinforces the sonic push.

Rosy Finch on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings store

 

Ghost Spawn, The Haunting Continuum

Ghost Spawn The Haunting Continuum

Brutal, gurgling doom-of-death pervades The Haunting Continuum from Denver one-man-unit Ghost Spawn, and while the guitar late in “Escaping the Mortal Flesh” seems momentarily to offer some hope of salvation, rest assured, it doesn’t last, and the squibbly central riff returns with its extremity to prove once more that only death is real. Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Kevin Berstler is the lone culprit behind the project’s first full-length and second release overall (also second this year, so he would seem to work quickly), and across 43 minutes that only grow more grueling as they proceed through the centerpiece title-track and into “The Terrors that Plague Nightly” and the desolate incantations of “Exiled to the Realm of Eternal Rot,” there are some hints of cleaner grunts that have made their way through — a kind of repeated “hup” vocalization — but this too is swallowed in the miasma of cave-echo guitar, drums-from-out-of-the-abyss, and raw-as-peeled-flesh production. Can’t get behind that? Probably you and 99.9 percent of the rest of humanity. For us slugs, though, it’s just about right.

Ghost Spawn on Thee Facebooks

Ghost Spawn on Bandcamp

 

Agrabatti, Beyond the Sun

agrabatti beyond the sun

It’s kosmiche thrust and watery vibes when Agrabatti go Beyond the Sun. What’s there upon arrival? Nothing less than a boogie down with Hawkwind at the helm of a spacey spaced-out space rocking chopper that you shouldn’t even be able to hear the revving engine of in space and yet somehow you can. Also synth, pulsating riffs and psych-as-all-golly-gosh awakenings. Formed in 2009 by Chad Davis — then just out of U.S. Christmas, already at that point known for his work in Hour of 13 and a swath of other projects across multiple genres — and with songs begun to come together at that time only to be shelved ahead of recording this year, Beyond the Sun sat seemingly in some unreachable strata of anomalous subspace, for 11 years before being rediscovered from its time-loop like Kelsey Grammer in that one episode of TNG, and gorgeously spread across the quadrant in its five-cut run, with its cover of the aforementioned Hawkwind‘s “Born to Go” so much at home among its companions it feels like, baby, it’s already gone. Do you need sunglasses in the void? Shit yeah you do.

Agrabatti on Thee Facebooks

Agrabatti on Bandcamp

 

Dead Sacraments, Celestial Throne

Dead Sacraments Celestial Throne

Four sprawling doom epics comprise the 2019 debut album — and apparently debut release — from Illinois four-piece Dead Sacraments, who themselves are comprised from three former members of atmospheric sludgers Angel Eyes, who finished their run in 2011 but released the posthumous Things Have Learnt to Walk That Ought to Crawl (review here). Those are guitarist Brendan Burchell, bassist Nader Cheboub and drummer Ryan Croson, and together with apparently-self-harmonizing vocalist/guitarist Mark Mazurek, they cast a doom built on largesse in tone and scope alike, given an air of classic-metal grandiosity but filtered through a psych-doom modernity that feels aware of what the likes of Pallbearer and Khemmis have done for the genre. Nonetheless, as a first record, Celestial Throne shines its darkness brightly across its no-song-under-nine-minutes-long lumber, and affirms the righteousness of doom with a genuine sense of reach at its disposal.

Dead Sacraments on Thee Facebooks

Dead Sacraments on Bandcamp

 

Smokemaster, Smokemaster

smokemaster smokemaster

The languid and trippy spirit in opener “Solar Flares” is something of a misdirect on the part of organ-laced, Cologne-based heavy rockers Smokemaster, who go on to boogie down through songs like “Trippin’ Blues” before jamming out classic heavy blues-style on “Ear of the Universe.” I’m not saying they don’t have their psychedelic aspects, but there’s plenty of movement behind what they do as well, and the setup they give with the first two cuts is effective in throwing off the first-time listener’s expectation. A pastoral instrumental “Sunrise in the Canyon” leads off side B after, and comes backed by “Astronaut of Love” (yup, a lovestronaut) and “Astral Traveller,” which find an engaging midpoint between the ground and the great beyond, synth and keys pushing outward in the finale even as the bass and drums keep it tethered to a central groove. It’s a formula that’s worked many times over the last half-century, but it works here too, and Smokemaster‘s Smokemaster makes a right-on introduction to the German newcomers.

Smokemaster on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records store

 

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Smokemaster Set April 24 Release for Self-Titled Debut; Teaser Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

smokemaster

Yeah, it’s kind of a goofy name in the tradition of stoner rock bands having a goofy name, and I think that’s on purpose given the band’s sound, but stay with me on this one as I present a few key words you want to note: “Germany.” “Heavy psych.” “Tonzonen.” “Colour.” I’m coming to trust the label’s taste more and more, and while I generally think of their output as being in a more classically progressive vein, Smokemaster‘s bluesy vibe on some of their self-titled debut isn’t screwing around. Think latter-day organ-laced Siena Root with forward vocals when it comes to a piece like “Trippin’ Blues,” which leads into the 10-minute “Ear of the Universe” — a live version of which you can hear below — and the arrival of a harmonica, but there’s a sonic reach here as well and an exploratory vibe that builds off those more straightforward moments in interesting ways. I’ve got the record on now and it won’t be the last time I listen, for whatever that’s worth.

I’ll leave it to the PR wire to fill in the details and present the album teaser. Like everything else in the universe, it’s out April 24:

smokemaster smokemaster

Tonzonen Records: Psychedelic Rock Five-Piece SMOKEMASTER Announces New Album. Teaser Online!

Smokemaster announce their self-titled debut album via Tonzonen Records for April 24, 2020.

Smokemaster is a psychedelic rock band from Cologne, Germany. Their musical spectrum ranges from slow and spherical parts that are reminiscent of Pink Floyd to colourful jam parts that remind you of The Doors or Colour Haze.

The self-titled debut album starts with gentle tones. The first track Solar Flares starts quite slowly and takes the listener on a musical journey. However, this dream-like journey abruptly ends when they speed up with their song Trippin’ Blues which is a blues-rock song. This is the first time on the album that singer Björn Bear presents his warm voice.

Ear Of The Universe is the third and longest song on the album. It’s about ten minutes long and as intense as Trippin’ Blues. It starts as a mid-tempo krautrock number, however this changes and the song evolves from colourful jam parts to an epic kind of post rock song. Sunrise In The Canyon, a song that might remind you of Tarantino’s Wild West movies.

On Astronaut Of Love the band dives into real stoner rock, starting with a fuzzy bass riff which is later supported by heavy guitar. It is the last time on this album you will hear Björnsen Bear’s warm voice. The song ends with an epic and massive organ. Finally, the last track Astral Traveller, is a 60s or 70s heavy psychedelic song that is moving forward constantly before guitarist Jay starts with a solo that sends you to a far away universe – or to another dimension.

Smokemaster are extremely happy about working with the sound genius Eroc, who is widely known as the drummer of the German band Grobschnitt. The band is one of the bands of the golden age of krautrock. With his dedication and commitment Eroc gave the album the brilliance and power Smokemaster wanted to achieve.

The first single, Astral Traveller, will be released soon with a video that was directed by psychedelic artist Larry Carlson from New York. Stay tuned.

Tracklist
1. Solar Flares
2. Trippin’ Blues
3. Ear Of The Universe
4. Sunrise In The Canyon
5. Astronaut Of Love
6. Astral Traveller

Smokemaster are:
Björnson Bear – Vocals/Guitar
Jay Wood – Guitar
TobMaster – Bass Guitar
Tobi Tack – Organ/Synthesizers
Lukas Bönschen – Drums

https://smokemaster.rocks
https://facebook.com/SmokemasterPsychedelic
https://smokemaster.bandcamp.com
https://www.tonzonen.de

Smokemaster, “Ear of the Universe (Live)”

Smokemaster, Smokemaster album teaser

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Quarterly Review: Torche, Spillage, Pharlee, Dali’s Llama, Speedealer, Mt. Echo, Monocluster, Picaporters, Beaten by Hippies, Luna Sol

Posted in Reviews on July 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

We meet again. The Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. It’s four in the morning and I’m getting ready to start the day. I haven’t even managed to pour myself coffee yet, which even as I type it out feels like a crime against humanity, such as it is. I’ll get there though.

Wednesday in the Quarterly Review marks the halfway point of the week, and as we’ll hit 30 reviews at the end, it’s half of the total 60 as well, so yeah. Feeling alright so far. As always, good music helps. I’ve added a couple things for consideration to my ongoing best-of-the-year list for December, so that’s something. And I think I’ll probably be doing so again today, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Torche, Admission

torche admission

15 years later and Torche‘s sound is still expanding. To that point, it’s never sounded quite as expansive as it does on Admission, their fifth album and second for Relapse behind 2015’s Restarter (review here). There are still plenty of straight-ahead heavy riffs on cuts like “Reminder” or “Slide” or the bomb-tone-laden “Infierno,” but in the title-track, in “Times Missing,” the closer “Changes Come,” “Slide” and even the 1:30-long “What Was,” there’s a sense of spaciousness and float to the guitars to contrast all that crunch, and it effectively takes the place of some of the manic feel of their earlier work. It’s consistent with the brightness of their melodies in songs like “Extremes of Consciousness” and the early pusher “Submission,” and it adds to their style rather than takes away, building on the mid-paced feel of the last album in such a way as to demonstrate the band’s continued growth long after they’d be well within their rights to rest on their laurels. Sharp, consistent in its level of songwriting, mature and engaging across its 36-minute entirety, Admission is everything one might ask of Torche‘s fifth album.

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Spillage, Blood of Angels

spillage blood of angels

If you, like me, believe doom to be the guardian style of classic heavy metal — you could also argue power metal there, but that’s why it’s an argument — Chicago’s Spillage might be the band to help make your case. With their own Ronnie James Dio in Elvin Rodriguez (not a comparison I make lightly) and a connection to the Trouble family tree via founding guitarist Tony Spillman, who also played in Earthen Grave, the band unfurl trad-metal poise throughout their 53-minute second album, Blood of Angels, hitting touchstones like Sabbath, Priest, and indeed Trouble on a chugger like “Free Man,” a liberal dose of organ on “Rough Grooved Surface” adding to the classic feel — Rainbow, maybe? — and even the grandiose ballad “Voice of Reason” that appears before the closing Sabbath cover “Dirty Women” staying loyal to the cause. I can’t and won’t fault them for that, as in both their originals and in the cover, their hearts are obviously in it all the way and the sound is right on, the sleek swing in the second half of “Evil Doers” punctuated by squealing guitar just as it should be. Mark it a win for the forces of metal, maybe less so for the angels.

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Pharlee, Pharlee

pharlee pharlee

San Diego strikes again with Pharlee‘s self-titled debut on Tee Pee Records, a 29-minute boogie rock shove that’s marked out by the significant pipes of Macarena Rivera up front, the shuffling snare work of Zach Oakley (also guitar in JOY and Volcano) and the organ work of Garret Lekas throughout, winding around and accentuating the riffs of Justin “Figgy” Figueroa and the air-push bass of Dylan Donovan. It’s a proven formula by now, but Pharlee‘s Pharlee is like the band who comes on stage in the middle of the festival and surprises everyone and reminds them why they’re there in the first place. The energy of “Darkest Hour” is infectious, and the bluesier take on Freddie King‘s “Going Down” highlights a stoner shred in Figueroa‘s guitar that fits superbly ahead of the fuzz freakout, all-go closer “Sunward,” and whatever stylistic elements (and personnel, for that matter) might be consistent with their hometown’s well-populated underground, Pharlee take that radness and make it their own.

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Tee Pee Records website

 

Dali’s Llama, Mercury Sea

dalis llama mercury sea

Long-running desert rockers Dali’s Llama return with Mercury Sea, their first release since 2017’s The Blossom EP (review here) and their first full-length since 2016’s Dying in the Sun (review here), sounding reinvigorated in rockers like opener “Weary” and the subsequent grunge-vibing “Choking on the Same,” “When Ember Laughs” and the garage-style “She’s Not Here.” Persistently underappreciated, their albums always have a distinct feel, and Mercury Sea is no different, finding a place for itself between the laid-back desert blues and punkier fare on a cut like “Someday, Someday,” even delving into psychedelic folk for a while in the 6:54 longest track “Goblin Fruit,” and a bit of lead guitar scorch bringing it all together on closer “All My Fault,” highlighting the theme of love that’s been playing out all the while. The sincerity behind that and everything Dali’s Llama does is palpable as ever in these 11 tracks, an more than 25 years on from their inception, they continue to deliver memorable songs in wholly unpretentious fashion. That’s just what they do.

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Speedealer, Blue Days Black Nights

speedealer blue days black nights

Speedealer ride again! And just about at top speed, too. The Dallas, Texas, outfit were last heard from circa 2003, and their turnabout is marked with the self-release of Blue Days Black Nights, a fury-driven 10-tracker that takes the best of their heavy-rock-via-punk delivery and beefs up tones to suit another decade and a half’s worth of hard living and accumulated disaffection. The Dallas four-piece blaze through songs like “Never Knew,” the hardcore-punk “Losing My Shit,” the more metallic “Nothing Left to Say,” and the careening aggro-swagger of “Rheumatism,” but there’s still some variety to be had throughout, as highlight “Sold Out,” “War Nicht Genung” and “Shut Up” find the band no less effective working at a somewhat scaled-back pace. However fast they’re going, though the attitude remains much the same, and it’s “fuck you fuck this” fuckall all the way. Those familiar with their past work would expect no less, and time has clearly not repaired the chip on Speedealer‘s shoulder. Their anger is our gain.

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Mt. Echo, Cirrus

mt echo cirrus

Based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the instrumentalist four-piece Mt. Echo present a somewhat noisier take on Russian Circles-style heavy post-rock with their nine-song/46-minute debut, Cirrus. Not at all shy about incorporating a noise rock riff or a more weighted groove, the dual-guitar outfit nonetheless spend significant time patiently engaged in the work of atmosphere-building, so that their material develops a genuine ebb and flow as songs tie one into the next to give the entire affair a whole-album feel. It is their first outing, but all the more striking for that in terms of how much of a grip they seem to have on their approach and what they want to be doing in a song like “Lighthouse at the End of Time” with airy lead and chugging rhythm guitars intertwining and meeting head-on for post-YOB crashes and an eventual turn into a harder-pushing progression. Ambience comes (mostly) to the fore in the seven-minute “Monsters and the Men Who Made Them,” but wherever they go on Cirrus, Mt. Echo bring that atmospheric density along with them. The proverbial ‘band to watch.’

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Monocluster, Ocean

Monocluster Ocean

Over the course of five longform tracks on Ocean, Germany’s Monocluster build fluidly on the accomplishments of their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), greatly expanding on the heft and general reach of their sound while, as opener “Ocean in Our Bones” demonstrates, still holding onto the ability to affect a killer hook when they need one. Ocean is not a minor undertaking at 56 minutes, but it dedicates its time to constructing a world in cuts like “Leviathan” and “A Place Beyond,” the giant wall of fuzzed low end becoming the backdrop for the three-part story being told that ends with the 11:43 “Home” standing alone, as graceful and progressive as it is brash and noisy — a mirror in that regard to the nine-minute centerpiece “Guns and Greed” and a fitting summation of Ocean‘s course. They keep this up for very long and people are going to start to notice. The album is a marked step forward from where Monocluster were a few years ago, and sets up the expectation of continued growth their next time out while keeping a focus on the essential elements of songwriting as well. If we’re looking for highlights, I’d pick “Leviathan,” but honestly, it’s anyone’s game.

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Picaporters, XXIII

picaporters xxiii

The third full-length from Argentine trio Picaporters marks another level of achievement for them as a band. XXIII arrives three years after El Horror Oculto (review here) and is unquestionably their broadest-cast spectrum to-date. The album comes bookended by eight-minute opener “La Soga de los Muertos” and “M.I.,” an 18-minute finale jam that would give a Deep Purple live record reason to blush. Soulful guitar stretches out over a vast rhythmic landscape, and all this after “Jinetes del Universo” motorpunks out and “Vencida” pulls together Floydian melo-prog, “Numero 5” precedes the closer with acoustic interplay and the early “Despertar” offers a little bit of everything and a lot of what-the-hell-just-happened. These guys started out on solid footing with their 2013 debut, Elefantes (review here), but neither that nor El Horror Oculto really hinted at the scope they’d make sound so natural throughout XXIII, which is the kind of record that leaves you no choice but to call it progressive.

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Beaten by Hippies, Beaten by Hippies

beaten by hippies beaten by hippies

As their moniker hints, there’s some edge of danger to Belgium’s Beaten by Hippies‘ self-titled debut (on Polderrecords), but the album ultimately resolves itself more toward songwriting and hooks in the spirit of a meaner-sounding Queens of the Stone Age in songs like “Space Tail” and “More is More,” finding common ground with the energy of Truckfighters though never quite delving so far into fuzzy tones. That’s not at all to the band’s detriment — rather, it helps the four-piece begin to cast their identity as they do in this material, whether that’s happening in the volatile sudden volume trades in “Dust” or the mission statement “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which feels geared a bit to the anthemic but would probably work just as well in whatever pub they happen to be terrorizing on a given evening. Their delivery skirts the line between heavy and hard rock as only that vaguely commercially viable European-style can, but the songs are right there waiting to take the stage at whatever festival is this weekend and blow the roof — or the sky, I guess, if it’s outdoors — off the place.

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Luna Sol, Below the Deep

luna sol below the deep

Guitarist/vocalist Dave Angstrom may be best known in heavy rock circles for his work alongside John Garcia in Hermano, but in leading the four-piece Luna Sol through their 12-song/50-minute sophomore outing, Below the Deep (on Slush Fund Recordings), he proves a capable frontman as well as songwriter. Sharing vocal duties with bassist Shannon Fahnestock while David Burke handles guitar and Justin Baier drums, Angstrom is a steady presence at the fore through the well-constructed ’90s-flavored heavy rock of “Below the Deep” and “Along the Road” early, the later “Garden of the Gods” playing toward a more complex arrangement after the strutting “The Dying Conglomerate” paints a suitably grim State of the Union and ahead of the fuzz-rich ending in “Home,” which keeps its melodic purpose even as it crashes out to its languid finish. Whether it’s the charged “Man’s Worth Killin'” or the winding fuzz of “Mammoth Cave,” one can definitely hear some Hermano at work, but Luna Sol distinguish themselves just the same.

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Mouth Premiere “Coffee” from Past Present Future

Posted in audiObelisk on May 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

MOUTH

Space freaks and prog heads, unite! Or, if not, at least chill out for a bit. This summer, Tonzonen will present Mouth‘s Past Present Future collection as a four-track 10″ EP, which in its digital form sets about compiling work that spans some 18 years of material — appropriately enough, the oldest track is the grunge-riffed closer “Youth,” from 2001 — for a 34-minute span that is, as one might expect, kind of all over the place. It’s a document of how far Mouth have come and, indeed, where they might be headed, as the 2018 track “Steamship Shambles” proves to be some of the band’s most experimentalist prog-jazz fusion to date while still managing as well to be drenched in melody. The live-sounding weird-out “Chase ’72” brings nine minutes of jammy exploration, and a new mix of “Into the Light” from 2017’s Vortex (review here) highlights the whirling synthesizer later in the track. From the opening organ line of “Coffee” onward, it’s an offering full of twists and turns that by its very nature is more EP than album, despite what might otherwise be a full-length runtime, jumping between different recording sessions and, occasionally, styles as it does.

The Cologne, Germany-based proggers have settled over time on a decidedly traditionalist approach, taking influence from the more winding aspects of heavy ’70s keyboard-infused adventurers, but Past Present Future unveils some of the roots of where that mouth past present futurecomes from, with “Coffee,” “Stillsad” and “Youth” adding complexity to the tale in shorter execution and more straightforward verse/chorus structuring. Especially considering those songs are the better part of 20 years old — “Stillsad” is from 2002 — they hold up remarkably well, though in the case of “Coffee,” it’s past and present coming together as guitarist/vocalist Christian Koller went back into the original recording and added keys. Mouth of course dealt with the passing of bassist Gerald Kirsch last year, and Koller and drummer Nick Mavridis have come back together with Thomas Johnen handling low end to begin playing shows in August around the time of Past Present Future‘s release, so it’s entirely possible the compilation is a way for the band to reconcile with their own history and begin to move forward from the tragedy of that loss — the potential “future” portion of the title.

Whatever the case, whether it’s the brief excursion of the almost-a-capella “March of the Cyclopes (A Capella Mix)” or the kitchen-sink, everything-is-music vibe that runs through “Steamship Shambles” — a 17-minute version of which is available in the digital edition — Mouth make their progressivism clear in these tracks even from their relatively rudimentary beginnings. There’s no question they’ve developed as a group over time, but in both “past” and “present,” and likely in “future” as well, their commitment to thoughtful songwriting and pushing themselves forward creatively is right there in the material waiting to be heard.

So hear it. Ahead of Past Present Future‘s slated August release on Tonzonen, I’m happy to host the premiere of “Coffee,” which again is a standout on the EP for its direct blend of old and new recordings. Koller gives some comment about the track below, and if you’d like to read more, the complete liner notes for the outing are posted here.

Please enjoy:

Mouth, “Coffee” official track premiere

Christian Koller on “Coffee”:

Well, I think that I can’t really add something new to the liner notes except that the song was a tiny bit influenced by System of Down’s “Chop Suey!” Haha… The song structure is very similar considering the pop bridge. New Metal was the thing in early 2002 and I hated it but I loved the structure of that song so I borrowed it. Just a youthful folly.

“Coffee” was actually covered by another band from Hagen (Nick’s hometown) back in the days. I saw the band performing it once. That was quite nice. I felt really honored.

MOUTH – Past-Present-Future
(Tonzonen 2019)
1. Coffee (2002/2018)
2. Chase‘72 (2017)
3. Into the Light (alternate mix)
4. Steamship Shambles (2018)
5. March of the Cyclopes (a cappella mix)
6. Stillsad (2002)
7. Youth (2001)

The Tonzonen EP version is going to be a vinyl only release but we will also purchase a digital version via Bandcamp.

The vinyl version consists of tracks 1-4. Furthermore the vinyl version of “Steamship Shambles” is edited to 6:11 minutes. [The digital version] is the super extended version.

Tracks 5-7 are only digital bonus tracks.

Mouth is:
Nick Mavridis: Drums
Thomas Johnen: Bass
Christian Koller: Guitar / Keyboards / Vocals

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Mouth to Release Past Present Future in August; Playing Krach am Bach

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

German semi-retro progressive rockers Mouth will in August release a new collection titled Past Present Future that, indeed, collects material new and old spanning an 18-year history of the band. Issuing through Tonzonen, the arrival of Past Present Future coincides with the band making their return to the stage at this year’s Krach am Bach festival — playing alongside Kadavar, Spidergawd, Naxatras, Atavismo and others — that will be their first live show since the passing of their bassist Gerald Kirsch and recently-announced regrouping with Thomas Johnen handling low end. Mouth‘s last release was a limited Alterna Sounds Festival live record (discussed here) that captured their final show with Kirsch in the band.

The new vinyl with digital bonus tracks would seem to be a way to reckon with what the band’s been through in terms of personal trauma while express their continued desire to move forward creatively. In addition to the basic release info, Mouth also sent the liner notes for Past Present Future that you can see below.

Enjoy:

mouth past present future

MOUTH – PAST PRESENT FUTURE 10″

The Tonzonen EP version is going to be a vinyl only release but we will also purchase a digital version via Bandcamp.

The vinyl version consists of tracks 1-4. Furthermore the vinyl version of “Steamship Shambles” is edited to 6:11 minutes. [The digital version] is the super extended version.

Tracks 5-7 are only digital bonus tracks.

MOUTH – Past-Present-Future
(Tonzonen 2019)
1. Coffee (2002/2018)
2. Chase‘72 (2017)
3. Into the Light (alternate mix)
4. Steamship Shambles (2018)
5. March of the Cyclopes (a cappella mix)
6. Stillsad (2002)
7. Youth (2001)

Liner notes:

Side A
Coffee* 3:56
As if Led Zeppelin recorded a jingle together with The Move and John Barry for a Starbucks advertisement in 1972.

The Song was originally recorded in spring 2002. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek thing. I used drink a lot of coffee in those while I was learning for my university exams. In a way its my personal drug song. Last year after Gerald’s death I was browsing some of our very old recordings and I found this lovely peace of rock. Anyway, I played around the recording and added some classical MOUTH keys to it. Finally it sounded like a typical 2018 MOUTH song.

Chase’72** 8:58
This is an impromptu live studio jam from 2017 which sounds a bit like movie score from the early seventies, maybe Dirty Harry.

Side B
Into The Light*** 7:05
This is my original mix which was finally dropped by our late producer and label boss Guido Lucas. For me this is the real version. I’m not a big fan of the album version because the song doesn’t really kick the way it was supposed to be but I think that this version is close to perfection.

Steamship Shambles**** 6:11
This almost experimental peace is based on a basic studio recording from January 2018 and a homerecording demo from 2011. Nick is responsible for all the instruments, (kitchen-) sounds, mixing and editing, except hammond, lead guitar & mellotron. It’s a bit like a Ummagamma studio experiment.

Bonus tracks:
March of the Cyclopes
It’s an a cappella mix minus the basic tracks. I like it because you can actually hear what the choir is singing. Haha.

Stillsad
This is a very early example of a typical MOUTH song in those days. It could have been the B-Side to „Coffee“. This is a studio recording from early 2002. We were able to use a very nice studio for free between 23:00-6:00. I think we nailed it in one night session.

Youth
This song was one of our early anthems (together with „coffee“) and our show closer. It was one of our first songs and a very good example of our „boogie van hippie music“. We recorded this one together with another song at the Blubox in autumn 2001. It was also originally produced by the late Guido Lucas.

*2002/2018 (koller)
revised version
bass: jan wendler
**2017 (kirch/koller/mavridis)
studio jam
***2012 (koller)
alternative mix
****2018 (mavridis)

Mouth is:
Nick Mavridis: Drums
Thomas Johnen: Bass
Christian Koller: Guitar / Keyboards / Vocals

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Mouth, Floating (2018)

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