Desertfest Oslo 2024 Completes Lineup and Announces Day Splits

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 6th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Over the last several weeks, the inaugural Desertfest Oslo has piece-by-piece announced the remainder of the lineup for May 10 and 11, and the list is substantial. Wolves in the Throne Room, Weedpecker, Kadabra, Steak, Crippled Black Phoenix, Earth Tongue, Apostle of Solitude, Orsak:Oslo, Margarita Witch Cult, REZN, Bongzilla and Slomosa joined the bill one at a time, broadening the scope exponentially in terms of style from searing black metal thrust to sad post-goth to stoner rock of progressive and willfully unprogressive strains and outright ambience, older and newer bands, and geographical range. It’s kind of stunning how commonplace this standard has become for the Desertfest brand over the last decade-plus.

Tickets for each day are also on sale now — in case, what you want to see Acid King and not REZN? it’s okay, I’m not judging; I know people have lives and things to do — but it’s pretty clear looking at the full roster of who’ll play that Desertfest Oslo 2024 is all-in on the thing. And with KadavarMonolordCrippled Black Phoenix and Eyehategod headlining, they’ll rely on a multifaceted draw from the top down through the entire lineup. This feels both like a festival brand reaching into new territory and new collaborations — which it is, absolutely — and a righteous start to what could become a staple of the Spring touring circuit. Do I really need to go on about Norway’s underground boom? Probably not when a hand-picked selection of those responsible are present below to remind you.

Bottom line here is I look forward to seeing how this unfolds even from a distance, but whatever Desertfest Oslo does in the longer term, this is a monster. Behold:

desertfest oslo 2024 final poster

Finally the day splits are here!

As well as day splits we’ve also made single day tickets available from february 29th.

See you may!

Find single day tickets and festivaltickets here:

Full lineup:

Wolves In The Throne Room
Acid King
Earth Tongue

Brant Bjork
The Devil And The Almighty Blues
Full Earth
Margarita Witch Cult
Saint Karloff
Apostle of Solitude

Slomosa, “Rice”

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Dispatch from SonicBlast 2023: Day One

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 11th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

SonicBlast Fest 2023 day 1 sq

08.10.23 – Thu. – Festival grounds

Before show

Day one. Also night one. There’s about two hours until Desert’smoke kick things off on Stage 3, but I got here early I guess basically to start writing and scope out where shade could be found. It’s not egregiously hot — I suspect the fact that the ocean is just over the large sand dune behind me has something to do with that, and the breeze is pleasant. I got a water bottle that I’ll keep all weekend barring disaster and sat down under an umbrella by one of the row of food trucks off to the side of the grounds, adjacent to the third stage.

I’ve had four espressos in about the last three hours, and so count myself as awake. There is a little cafe next to where I’m staying that has been very kind, though I think the guy running the hotel suspects I’m hiding more than one person in the room and walking back in with two tiny paper cups, which he definitely noticed, probably didn’t help my case. Nobody else, dude. Just trying to pry my eyes open.

Slept about six hours and got up, showered, grabbed coffee, finished the review of last night correcting a bunch of typos resulting from writing on my phone and no doubt missing many others. For some reason every time I try to swipe the word ‘album’ it thinks I’m talking about someone named Alvin. As you might imagine, it comes up regularly. These are the crosses to bear on a long rock and roll weekend in coastal Europe with the sun shining and the breeze blowing. To be sure, I’ve had it far worse.

Checked in on The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan to see how they were getting on, and of course they were doing just fine in the early morning at home. Today is long — I’ll still be here 12 hours from now, again barring disaster — and a quick video chat felt good to touch ground before spending the rest of the day in an ether cloud of riffs and volume. I’m curious to see how I hold up, but right now I feel pretty okay, if I can dare to say so. I’m here, which is amazing in itself.

Here’s the day:


Desert'smoke (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Groovy and spacious, Lisbon instrumental four-piece Desert’smoke eased the afternoon open with warm heavy psychedelic meandering offset by moments of heavier, riff-led roll and a bit of noisier slide guitar in the end. I wouldn’t call the sound groundbreaking, but I don’t think they’re trying to be. The material they played had character though in how smoothly it shifted from one stretch to the next, solos traded between the two guitars reaping applause along the way, and the crowd in front of the third stage was into it for more than just the shade under the tent where all sets to this point have taken place. An easy nod to get lost in, which means they’re doing it right, as 2019’s Karakum (discussed here) will attest, with some lighter touches of prog to complement the trippier aspects and the grounded riffs. If you’re the type to close your eyes at a show and figure out where the music takes you, they’d be a perfect candidate for that.

Etran de L’Aïr

Etran de L'Air (Photo by JJ Koczan)

First band on the main stage — Stage 2, as it happens, which is on the left as you walk into the festival site — and they had the crowd dancing, mixing West African and rock musics together with an emphasis in rhythmic fluidity and extra-tasteful bass working in kind with the twisting guitar and the uptempo drums. Their home country of Niger recently saw its government overthrown, which is a hell of a thing to happen while you’re on tour in Europe. But as the soon-to-be 5,000-someodd people attending SonicBlast this weekend continued to trickle in, they were greeted by an engaging presence and a reminder of the often overlooked history of African rock, and psych rock particularly. You could find room to move up front, maybe even a bit of shade if you were lucky — I have a spot near a shaded fance and even a chair to sit in while writing this, so feel like I’m risking almost too much luxury, but it’s still early in the day. And by the time they were finishing up, the place was packed. Good. I hope they get home safe.

Mythic Sunship

Mythic Sunship (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Coming from Copenhagen, instrumentalists Mythic Sunship played in the likely-coveted 4:20 slot, swapping with Death Valley Girls for some yet-unknown reason. Their 2022 LP, Light/Flux (review here), was released through Tee Pee Records, and they brought a similar purposeful-in-the-jam sensibility to the live set. Humble heavy-prog? I guess that was a thing bound to happen. After Etran de L’Aïr, they came across thicker in tone as they would, but the guitar was able to float above the sharp turns of bass and drums beneath, the two sides coming together for well-placed peaks and valleys. It was fun to watch the audience shift over to the other main stage. “Okay, everybody take 35 steps to your right!” But while they were a surprise in that timeslot, Mythic Sunship by daylight was an unabashed joy and heavy to boot — though they had me wondering if it’s weird to play in front of a giant photo of yourself projected onto a screen — with runs of less guitar woven through the songs and a sensibility able to burst into a rock riff and drive that point home, not quite shape-shifting but making transitions that not every band could while sounding sure-footed and explorational at the same time, tipping into psych here and there but with clear direction in mind. I should probably buy that CD. Maybe a couple of them. Their last song was a particular burner and you could hear cheering before they were even done.


Sasquatch (Photo by JJ Koczan)

That finish was as much a lead-in as L.A.’s Sasquatch could ever hope for, and 10-minute changeovers between bands — which you can do when you have the entire set on the stage next door to load out and in and get everything set up — assures forward momentum. I had been saying hi to the Sasquatch guys earlier, and seeing guitarist/vocalist Keith Gibbs writing out the setlist, took my phone out and snapped a picture as a goof. Bad call. He got mad, grabbed his Sharpie and pieces of paper, and was gone before I could even apologize. I felt pretty bad about it, despite the assurances of bassist Jason “Cas” Casanova and drummer Craig Riggs that it was fine, he was pissed about other stuff, etc. So yeah, stupid for even adding to whatever frustration existed prior. I was just kidding around. That photo got deleted off my phone and I’m never looking to invade privacy. One more reason I’m best sitting in front of a laptop. Lesson learned. Again.

They had some technical issues that caused them to begin upwards of two minutes late, but once they started, they were every bit the force they’ve come. I don’t know how you leave a Sasquatch set not thinking of them as one of the best currently active pure heavy rock bands from America, Gibbs paying homage to guitar gods of yore and belting out new and old material with a delivery the reach of which has only grown over the 20-ish years of the band, Cas and/or Riggs backing at various points, all three locked in solid for the duration. There were not a lot of people milling around while they played. Dinner could wait, and so it did. Crowd surfing out front as they chugged Jack Daniels. A new album next year, maybe, would be a thing to look forward to. They did have new stuff in the set, a song called “This Heart is So Lonely,” and that’s always a good sign; you might recall when they were interviewed here earlier this year, they said they were recording in May. They’re the kind of band that gets people into this music in the first place. And then they (completely unnecessarily) shouted me out before “Destroyer,” said a few very nice things, which just about obliterated me, never mind floored. Thanks guys. And sorry again. We’re all heart emojis forever as far as I’m concerned. I went to the merch tent after they played and many sweaty hugs were exchanged. It’s a high bar to set but I’m gonna see if I can go the second half-plus of this day without making an ass of myself.

Crippled Black Phoenix

Crippled Black Phoenix (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s been so long since the last time I saw Crippled Black Phoenix, I had to stop what I was doing and look it up. You know when it was? 2019, at Roadburn (review here). So not actually terrible unless you count the fact that the span of 2020-’21 was eight years long. Still, that’s two Crippled Black Phoenix records ago; their latest is Banefyre (review here), the bleak brilliance of which made hearing it an act of emotional labor. They’re a challenging band anyway, expansive goth metal that’s all of those things and not really any of them. For an intro to one of their songs they had the same tune the ice cream truck by my house does, and there was definitely a part of me that perked up because I knew if my kid heard it she’d be chasing it down running in the middle of the street. Nope, just Crippled Black Phoenix adding atmosphere to atmosphere, as they will. I didn’t see any sad shuffle-dancing, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and it continues to be incredible how much this band exist in their own world in terms of style, and how that manages to be true even though they have a different lineup every time I see them, this one with two keyboardists, two lead singers, three guitars, one bass, one drums, and to their credit, they were nowhere near too much, and the rhythm section stood up to the task of pushing all that weight. Tonal and existential. And I would say it was weird seeing them by daylight, but the truth is it didn’t matter. They bring their own clouds.


Spy (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A not-insignificant landing to stick, going from Crippled Black Phoenix’s ultra-brood to the darkly thrashy hardcore metal of Spy, who are the most outwardly aggressive act thus far into the fest, and who plied their wares with persistent intensity. They had a circle pit going, were nastier than Scatterbrainiac last night for residing on the same genre spectrum, and actually, the more I think about it, the more sense their place on the bill makes, and the more every band today has been up to something of their own. They finished 15 minutes early, as a hardcore band might do here, but figure if you slowed their songs down to the average speed around here, they might’ve hit the mark, temporal mechanics notwithstanding. For sure they got their point across. I don’t think anyone was arguing with the chance to grab a bite to eat, a beer and so forth, but they did well with a crowd that’s at least somewhat not their own. Sometimes you want that kind of catharsis. I ain’t arguing.

Acid King

Acid King (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Ah, Acid King. A balm for my sunburnt skin. “Mind’s Eye” from this year’s stellar Beyond Vision (review here) followed by “Coming Down From Outer Space” from 2015’s Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (discussed herereview here) and “2 Wheel Nation” from III (discussed here) a decade prior. What a starting three to leave you on the doorstep of “Electric Machine” from the stoner rock omega that is 1999’s Busse Woods (featured herediscussed here) tone dense enough that you could feel the ground shake. Founding guitarist/vocalist Lori S. is joined by the ace-in-sleeve rhythm section of bassist/synthesist Bryce Shelton and drummer Jason Willer, who also played on the latest record, and it was my first time seeing this lineup but they sounded incredible. And as much as Acid King are considered a legendary band in underground heavy, I don’t think they get nearly enough credit for the lessons in grooves, riffs and the ability of a song to be outrageously heavy and still laid back, mellow. “Destination Psych” into “Beyond Vision” into “Color Trails.” That’s a fucking jam. Look. If you wanna pick favorites, Acid King are high on my list and as far as I’m concerned, stoner rock doesn’t exist without them. AND they’re growing as a band after three decades since starting out. There’s not a lot of bands I could listen to any time, regardless of mood or circumstance, but Acid King are always more than welcome in my ears. And with the kind of volume they had at SonicBlast, only more so. It was full across both stages, and they brought the sun down. Glorious.

Death Valley Girls

Death Valley Girls (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Second band of the day from Los Angeles. Planet Earth is weird. Death Valley Girls took off running at the outset and only really stopped to say thanks and how strange it was for them since their normal singer was stuck in L.A. unless I completely misinterpreted what they were saying between songs, which is possible because I’m old and have hearing damage. I’m not sure the crowd knew the difference. I wouldn’t have if they’d said anything. Nothing seemed missing from their arrangements, with vocals handled by their bassist and another singer with a floor tom — which I wholly support; more floor toms, and I’m not being sarcastic — and they weren’t any looser than their heavy garage psych meets ’90s alt rock vibe warranted. Mostly uptempo but not rushed sounding, they seemed to dare toward fun in a made it almost too perfect they were playing the same day as Crippled Black Phoenix — one of whose six-stringers had an explicit ‘no fun’ sticker on the body of his guitar — and that went over well. I don’t know how familiar the crowd was generally, but I didn’t know them and whatever their situation was lineup-wise that perhaps was the reason why they switched slots with Mythic Sunship, they acquitted themselves well. I’d check out a record, gladly.


OFF (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was neither cool enough nor the right kind of uncool enough to be a punker, but even I know who the fuck Keith Morris is, and he’s my favorite of the various singers Black Flag had during their original run. The First Four Years, man. Their moniker taken from yet another brand of bug repellant, OFF! is Morris (lest we forget to mention Circle Jerks), guitarist Dimitri Coats, bassist Autry Fulbright II and drummer Justin Brown, and the crowd was packed in front of the stage 20 minutes before they went on, buzzing. I had gone to get coffee, and that turned out to be well timed ahead of their set, which made traditionalist hardcore punk sound new in a seemingly impossible way. They put out their first record in eight years (their fourth overall), Free LSD, in 2022, and they’re at the top of the bill tonight to support it, though not playing last by any stretch. They were unipolar in their manic push and gallop, and Morris was very much at the center of the circus. I don’t own an OFF! record and I’m not sure I’ve ever written about them since their inception in 2010 (I checked that and it’s true save for the announcement they were playing here), but having now seen them, I’m glad I did, which puts me in decent company I think with just about everyone here. Stripped down as it would have to be, but holy shit that’s loud.


Hällas (Photo by JJ Koczan)

This was my second time seeing Hällas in about two months, so safe to say their futurist space progressive rock was fresh in mind. They had been warmly welcomed at Freak Valley (review here) and were perhaps more so here, with the crowd at the front of the barricade singing along, fist-pumping and so on. Riffs a-blazin’, keyboard with that gorgeous proggy krautrock sound that’s 50 years old and still ‘The Sound of Tomorrow!’ (to be read in a big booming voice), they were on, though to be honest, this is the third time I’ve caught them live and I’ve never come away disappointed. Are they likely to take over the world with their theatrical heavy space whatnot? Probably no. But in another abrupt aesthetic shift, they followed OFF!’s set with textures and a presence that was no less their own. I think I might like this band. Anything but that! Not another band! Nonetheless, they’ve been at this for at least 12 years now, so while they’re a young band in my head, they’re ab established band, and it seems like maybe it’s time for me to dig into their records for really real and see where I finally stand. 2022’s Isle of Wisdom a good place to start? Guess I’ll find out. I remembered “Star Rider,” which is on their first LP, so that’s something. I’ll figure it out. Party like it’s 1975. I swear I saw meteors steak the sky when they were done. Conjure the perseids.


Kadavar (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s been a very long tone (really) since I saw Kadavar last. Three or four records, like. The Berlin-based classic heavy rockers — who in the interim have put themselves on the path to become a classic band as well — added second guitarist and backing vocalist Jascha Kreft to become a four-piece, and hearing them play older songs like “All Our Thoughts” or even “Die, Baby, Die” from 2017’s For the Dead Travel Fast (review here) — I guess it’s all pre-lineup change since it’s not like they’ve done a record since March when Kreft’s joining was announced — but you could hear the difference this six added strings were making in the fullness of their sound, Kreft on a long riser with drummer Tiger while guitarist/vocalist Lupus Lindemann and bassist Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup held it down on the stage, swing and strut to spare. What songwriters they are. Here’s a Kadavar track you haven’t heard in about six years. No worries, you’ll remember it. Their sound has expanded since their early days of vintage worship, but no matter where they go, they bring the songs with them. And with Kreft serving keyboard/synth and backing vocal duties as well, they’ll likely keep growing. That ethic, the memorable craft, the not-tired-of-it-yet performance from all of them; it makes it easy to see them as one of the best heavy rock bands of their generation, with a legacy carved in stone and a refusal to stagnate that exists alongside an ability to blast out “Doomsday Machine” near the end of the set like they just wrote it. Bands like this don’t happen all the time. I already knew I let it go too long without catching a show, so that wasn’t news, but I’m glad as hell not to have missed this one.


Deathchant (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Amp blew in the first song. Maybe second. Early, either way, but they kept it going, got a new head and before much real-time had passed, Deathchant (the day’s third and final L.A. band) were ripping anew with their gritted-up dual-guitar/dual-vocal NWOBHM proselytizing. I won’t lie to you and say I stayed the whole time. It was getting on 2AM and I still had work to do writing and sorting photos, but rest assured they were loud enough that as I walked up toward the beach and off the fest grounds to make my way back to the hotel, I had the urge to put my earplugs back in. I probably should have, but was distracted as I walked out of the light and realized the sky I was standing beneath. To look up and see the Milky Way bifurcating a night’s stars that I don’t know, with the resonant low frequency wub of Deathchant behind me and the illusion of privacy in that very dark little stretch of beach between one boardwalk and the next, separated from everything I might’ve screwed up today and everything I didn’t. Me, neck craned to the cosmos above, riffs echoing in the distance. The only part that was weird was that it was real and I was living it. While Deathchant were kicking plenty of ass and leaving a mark in that regard, I think I’ll probably always associate them with that minute, maybe two, of my existence. Something they were part of that they’ll probably never know about. It’s quite a galaxy.

Back to the day’s various successes and failures. I failed at food. Had like three forks of the almond butter I brought from home (not mine; store bought; still good) before going to the fest and more when I got back to the room and that was it. On every level, the wrong choice, and it didn’t really feel like it was one. I’m doing my best.

Success? The day, really. I met more super-nice people, and apart from the misunderstanding with Gibbs from Sasquatch, I think I managed to go the entire 12-hour shift without directly alienating anybody. Maybe. And even that got worked out. I had my sunglasses on. He didn’t know it was me. Indeed, other shit going on. Sometimes you get wound tight and it doesn’t take much to set you off. I felt bad. I still do, but that’s how I roll. But it was a great day. I even saw the Ruff Majik guys again for a bit. They’re staying in the same place I am.

I also took over 1,300 pictures today, which I have to think I might not do if I was a better photographer. Ha. Anyhow, some of those will end up at the bottom here, but I’m not even going to start sorting them tonight because I’m so god damned tired. Good night, thanks for reading and, I promise before this is posted there will be more pics after the jump.

Read more »

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SonicBlast 2023 Adds 16 More Bands to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

I’m not going to pretend to have heard every band in this 16-strong announcement from Portugal’s SonicBlast Fest 2023, and honestly, that’s part of the appeal as far as I’m concerned. And if you’re looking for bigger names, certainly bringing in The Black Angels and Thuston Moore of Sonic Youth ought to qualify. But check out Mythic Sunship being confirmed, Mirror Queen heading abroad once again from their home in New York, Dozer supporting their first album in 15 years, Crippled Black Phoenix bringing their thoroughly English gloom to the otherwise sunshiny proceedings, Sasquatch pushing their forever-tour further presumably after completing the recording of their next LP, Danava and Love Gang both supporting new releases, on and on.

Is this the part where I tell you how killer the lineup looks and perhaps list off the various parts of my body I’d cut off in order to attend? Yeah, probably. But my own escapism aside, you can see for yourself what SonicBlast has put together in terms of a diverse range of sounds based around a unifying heavy ideal, and between the new names and those previously confirmed, it seems like it’s going to be a special couple days for those attending as well as the bands actually playing the thing. Maybe that could be you too.

Here’s the latest from social media:

SonicBlast Fest 2023 new announce

We’re so proud and honored to announce 16 more bands that’ll blow our minds this summer, at SonicBlast Fest 2023 — The Black Angels, Thurston Moore Group, Bombino, Dozer, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX (official), Imarhan, Hällas, Scowl, SPY, Sasquatch, LOVE GANG, Mythic Sunship, Etran de L’Aïr, DANAVA, Mirror Queen and scatterbrainiac!!

Join us in this crazy heavy psychedelic weekend by the ocean at Praia da Duna dos Caldeirões, Âncora, Portugal!

*** many more to be announced soon ***

Full festival tickets are already on sale at BOL ( and at

Artwork by Branca Studio

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Quarterly Review: Crippled Black Phoenix, Chat Pile, Early Moods, Larman Clamor, The Necromancers, Les Lekin, Highbay, Sound Animal, Warcoe, DONE

Posted in Reviews on September 23rd, 2022 by JJ Koczan


See you back here Monday, huh? Yeah. If onslaughts of new music are your thing and you’ve been following along throughout this week — first, thank you — and second, we’ll pick up after the weekend with another 50 albums in this double-wide Fall 2022 Quarterly Review. This was a good week though. Yesterday had some genuine killers, and I’ve added a few to my best-of lists for the end-of-year stuff to come. There’ll be another Quarterly Review then too. Never any trouble filling slots with new releases. I’ve already started, in fact.

Madness. Didn’t I say something yesterday about one thing at a time? Ha.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Crippled Black Phoenix, Banefyre

crippled black phoenix banefyre

There are times where I wonder if Crippled Black Phoenix aren’t just making fun of other bands, their audience, themselves, and everything, and then there are times when I’m pretty sure they are. To wit, their latest outing for Season of Mist, Banefyre, is nearly an hour into its 90-plus-minute runtime before they offer up the 10-minute “Down the Rabbit Hole,” and, well, if we’re not down it by then, where the hell are we? See also “Wyches and Basterdz” near the outset. Whatever else they may be, the long-running, dynamic, progressive, dark heavy rock troupe surrounding founding songwriter and guitarist Justin Greaves are like nothing else. They offer shades of influences, discernable elements from this or that style, this or that band — “The Reckoning” has a bit of The Cure, “Blackout77” filters that through Katatonia, etc. — but are never working to be anyone but themselves. Accordingly, the thoroughly British depressive triumphs throughout Banefyre — looking at you, “I’m OK, Just Not Alright” — are part of an ongoing narrative of creative development that will hit its 20th year in 2024 and has offered listeners an arc of emotive and stylistic depth that, in whatever genre you want to try to confine it, is only ever going to escape. The only real tragedy of Banefyre is that they’ll probably have another record out before this one can be properly digested. That’ll take a few years at least.

Crippled Black Phoenix on Facebook

Season of Mist website


Chat Pile, God’s Country

Chat Pile God's Country

An Oklahoma hardcore-born circus of sludge-toned tragedies personal, cultural and socioeconomic played out across nine songs/42 minutes held together at times seemingly most of all by their disenchantment, Chat Pile‘s debut album, God’s Country is arthouse angularity, raw aggression and omnidirectional intensity. As the UK’s post-industrial waste once birth’d Godflesh, so now come vocalist Raygun Busch, guitarist Luther Manhole, bassist Stin and electronic-drummer Cap’n Ron with brilliantly constructed tales of drugs, murder, suicide, loss, violence, misery, and general wretchedness of spirit, presented instrumentally with quick turns that draw from hardcore as noted, but also death metal, sludge, industrial doom, and so on. The lyrics are masterful drug poetry and delivered as such, semi-spoken, shouted, some singing, some acting out, such that you never know from what direction the next punch is coming. “Why” tackles homelessness, “Pamela” demonstrates the impossibility of coping with loss, “Slaughterhouse” is what it says, and closer “Grimace_Smoking_Weed.jpeg” resolves its nine minutes in long-held feedback and crashes as Busch frantically screams with decreasing intelligibility until it’s even words anymore. A perfect finish to a stunning, terrifying, moving first album. Don’t go into it expecting listenability. Even as “I Don’t Care if I Burn” offers some respite, it does so while describing a murder fantasy. It’s not the only one.

Chat Pile on Instagram

The Flenser store


Early Moods, Early Moods

Early Moods Early Moods

Fuck yes Gen-Z doom. Yes. Yes. Yes. Show the old men how it’s done. Please. Not a gray hair in the bunch, or a bullshit riff, or a lazy groove. Early Moods got their influences in line with their 2020 debut EP, Spellbound (review here), and you can still hear some Candlemass in “Broken,” but their self-titled debut LP stamps its foot to mark their arrival as something new and a fresh take on classic ideas. Vocalist Alberto Alcaraz is a distinct presence atop the hard-distorted guitars of Eddie Andrade and Oscar Hernandez, while Elix Feliciano‘s bass fuzz-rumbles through the interlude “Memento Mori” and Chris Flores‘ big-room-ready kick counts in the Trouble‘d early highlight “Live to Suffer.” Later on, “Curse of the Light” leans into the metal end of classic doom metal ahead of the chugging roll of “Damnation” and the finisher “Funeral Macabre,” but Early Moods have already put these things in play by then, as demonstrated with the eponymous title-track. Songs are tight, crisply produced, and executed to style with a promise of more growth to come. It’s an easy record to get excited about, and one of 2022’s best albums. I might just buy the tape and the CD.

Early Moods on Facebook

RidingEasy Records store


Larman Clamor, With a Deadly Hiss

Larman Clamor With a Deadly Hiss

Less than a year after a return born of celebrating the project’s 10th anniversary with the Ink fo’ Blood (review here) full-length, prolific visual artist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and singer Alexander von Wieding returns with Larman Clamor‘s latest, With a Deadly Hiss. As ever, formalities are dispensed with in favor of deceptively intricate arrangements of slide acoustic and electric guitar, whatever’s-around-style percussion and von Wieding‘s telltale throaty vocals, which on “Swamp Jive” and even a bit of the six-minute finale “Eleventh Spell to Cast” draw back the throaty grit in favor of a more melodic, somewhat less performative delivery that suits the material well. Songs are mostly short — there are 11 of them and the aforementioned closer is the longest by about three minutes — but each is a blinking glimpse into the humid, climbing-vine world of von Wieding‘s creation, and in instrumentals like the manic percussion of “Monkey and the Trash Goblins” and the distortion-backed algae-delica of “Iguana at the Fountain,” the brashness of “Tortuga” and the playful falsetto of the leadoff title-track are expanded in such a way as to hint of future paths to be explored. One way or the other, Larman Clamor remains an entity unto itself in concept, craft and delivery, and if With a Deadly Hiss is just another forward step en route to the next stop on down the road, even better.

Larman Clamor on Facebook

Larman Clamor on Bandcamp


The Necromancers, When the Void Rose

The Necromancers When the Void Rose

Recorded in 2021, The Necromancers‘ third album would seem to have a mind toward picking up where the Poitiers, France-based four-piece left off pre-pandemic with 2018’s Of Blood and Wine (review here). Can hardly blame them, frankly. Now self-releasing (their first two albums were on Ripple), the semi-cult heavy rockers bring an air of classic metal to the proceedings but are remarkably cohesive in their craft, with guitarist/vocalist Basile Chevalier-Coudrain fronting the band even in the studio as demonstrated on the ’80s metal roller “The Needle,” which follows the eight-minute doom-adjacent unfolding of “Crimson Hour” — and that “adjacent” is a compliment, by the way; The Necromancers are less concerned with playing to genre than with it — wherein guitarist Robin Genais adds a short but classy solo to underscore the willful grandiosity. Bassist Simon Evariste and drummer Benjamin Rousseau underscore the grooves, prominent in the verse of the title-track, and while it’s guitars up front in traditionalist fashion, the truth is all four players are critical here, and it’s the overarching affect of the whole that makes When the Void Rose such an engaging listen, rather than the individual parts. That is to say, listen front to back for best results.

The Necromancers on Facebook

The Necromancers on Bandcamp


Les Lekin, Limbus

Les Lekin Limbus

Though instrumental across its vast stretches, Les Lekin‘s Limbus — their first full-length since 2017’s Died with Fear, also on Tonzonen, and third overall — begins with a verbal message of hope, lyrics in German, in the beginning intro “Licht.” That gives a specifically covid-era context to the proceedings, but as the subsequent three massive sans-vocal pieces “Ascent” (14:14), “Unknown” (8:18) and closer “Return” (22:00), unfold, they do so with a decidedly otherworldly, deeply-weighted psychedelic verve. The narrative writes itself in the titles, so I’ll spare you the pretense of insight (on my part there), but note that if it was escapism through music being sought on the part of the meditative Salzburg three-piece, the richness of what’s on offer throughout Limbus is generous enough to share that experience with the audience as well. “Ascent” swells and builds as it moves duly upward, and in “Unknown,” the trio explores post-metallic atmospherics in a crunching midsection without ever losing sight of the ambience so central to what they’re doing, while it would be hard for “Return” not to be the highlight, drums and initial bass rumble giving way to a huge sounding, engrossing procession of atmospheric density. Les Lekin have been a critical favorite for a while now, and it’s easy to hear why, but their work here holds far more than academic appeal or to-genre conformity. They embody the release they would seem to have sought and still carry an exploratory spirit despite the clearly charted course of their songs.

Les Lekin on Facebook

Tonzonen Records store


Highbay, LightShower

highbay lightshower

LightShower is the fourth session from Hungarian jammers Highbay to see release in the last year-plus, and it arrives with the immediately noteworthy backing of Psychedelic Source Records. In the vein of many of that collective’s offerings, it is live recorded, probably improvised, and wholly instrumental, the trio vibing their way into a groove early on “Walking on Bubbles” and holding gently to that locked-in, entranced feel across the following five jams. The shimmering guitar tone, particuly as “Miracle Under Water” moves into the more extended “Spaceship” and the pleasantly funky “FunKing Dragons Above Fissure Mountains,” is a highlight, but the intention here is a full set, and I won’t take away from the fuzzier, riffier emergence later on in “FunKing Dragons” either, or, for that matter, the ready-to-wander post-rock float of closer “3D(ays) Trippin’.” It’s a big universe, and Highbay have their work cut out for them if they want to feel their way through all of it, but “Spaceship” mellows its way off into a greater beyond, and even “Hungover Sadness (’90s Romance)” manages to not be a drag as filtered through the trio’s chemistry. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t be the last time Highbay are heard from this year, but they’re yet another name to add to the list of Psychedelic Source-associated acts whose jammy sensibilities are helping manifest a new generation of Eastern European lysergic rock and roll.

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


Sound Animal, Yes, Yes, You

Sound Animal Yes Yes You

Think of this as less of a review and more of a general reminder to throw a follow in the direction of Berkeley, California’s dug-in-as-hell Sound Animal, or at very least let your ears pay a visit every now and again to soak up some of the weirdo drone, dance, psych electronics and whatever else might be had on any given afternoon from the prolific solo-project. “Yes, Yes, You” is the latest single, but likely not for long, and it plays out across 3:33 of keyboardian ambience and recitations of the titular reassurance that would be soul-pop were they not so definitively experimental and part of such an ongoing creative splurge. Tucked away in a corner of the Bandcamp dimension, Sound Animal comes across as an outlet for ideas as much as sonics, and with the persistent thud of a beat beneath, one, two, three, four, the melodic serenity of the wash feels like direct conversation, with the listener, the self, or, more likely, both. It is beautiful and brief, as I’m told life also is, and it may just be the thing that came after one thing and before the next, but if you stop for a minute or three and let it sink in, you just might find a more substantial place to reside. Not gonna be for everyone, but the fact that “Yes, Yes, You” is so vague and yet so clearly encouraging rather than accusatory speaks to the artistic purpose writ large throughout Sound Animal‘s e’er expanding catalog. Wouldn’t be surprised or sad to find a subsequent single going somewhere else entirely, but again, just a reminder that it’s worth finding that out.

Sound Animal on Facebook

Sound Animal website


Warcoe, The Giant’s Dream

Warcoe The Giant's Dream

Somewhere between classic metal and doom, heavy rock’s riff-led impulses and cultish atmospheres there resides the Pesaro, Italy, trio Warcoe and their debut album, The Giant’s Dream. Led by guitarist/vocalist Stefano — who also plays bass on some of the later tracks — with bassist Carlo and drummer Francesco proffering thickened roll and punctuating rhythm all the while save for the early acoustic interlude “Omega Sunrise,” the band nestle smoothly into a modern-via-not-at-all-modern sphere, yet neither are they retro or aping ’70s methodologies. Maybe that moment has passed and it’s the ascent of the ’80s metal and doom we’re seeing here — or maybe I just slated Warcoe and Early Moods the same day and both bands dig Trouble and Death Row/Pentagram, I won’t pretend to know — but the bass in “Fire and Snow” is more of a presence than bass was pretty much ever 40 years ago, so to call The Giant’s Dream anything but ‘now’ is inaccurate. They lean into rock on “Thieves, Heretics and Whores” and manifest grim but stately lurch before the fade of the penultimate “Scars Will Remain,” but wherever each piece might end up, the impression is abidingly dark and offers a reminder that Italy’s history of cult doom goes farther back than most. Paul Chain, Steve Sylvester, your legacy is in good hands.

Warcoe on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp


DONE, Aged and Untreated

DONE Aged & Untreated

Hard to find info on the Boston or Boston-adjacent extreme-metal-inflected, sludge-toned dark hardcore outfit DONE — and that may just as well be anti-social-media mystique creation as the fact that their name is ungooglable — but the tape slays. Aged and Untreated hammers 15 scathing tracks into its 28 minutes, and dies on a hill of wintry black metal and barking hardcore mostly but not completely summarized in the turns of “Soulsplitter.” The fun part is when they bounce back and forth, throw in some grind on “To Curt on Waverly,” scratch your eyes out with “Dance for Them” — the second cut behind says-it-all-in-a-minute opener “Nah” — and willfully crash into a wall on the comparatively sprawling 2:35 “I Fucking Hate Thinking About You.” Haven’t seen a lyric sheet and probably won’t if my success rate in tracking down relevant factoids is anything to go by, but shit, I lived on the South Shore for seven years, including the record-breaking winter of 2014, and it sure felt a lot like this. Maybe they’re from Arizona, and if they are, I’m sure some hack would say the same thing, but hell’s bells Aged and Untreated is an intense listen, and its wreck-your-shit violence is meted out such that even the slightly-slower punch in the first half of “Hope Trickle” makes the song feel sarcastic. I wouldn’t put it on every day, but yeah. Righteously pissed.

Tor Johnson Records on Bandcamp

Tor Johnson Records store


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Crippled Black Phoenix Announce New Album Banefyre and European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

At the end of last month, Crippled Black Phoenix shared a live double-album capturing their sets at Roadburn Festival from 2017 and 2019. I don’t think either of those represent the current lineup of the band, but hell, while the getting’s good, get. They follow that bit of good news with more in announcing both a new album on the way and the first round of touring they’ll do to support it like it ain’t no thing. Their last full-length was 2020’s Ellengæst (review here), and they followed it last year with the two-songer Painful Reminder / Dead is Dead EP (discussed here), continuing a run of downerist post-rock the likes of which, 20 years from now, other bands will be ripping off wholesale and forgetting to cite as an influence. Come back in two decades and prove me wrong.

Season of Mist will have the release on Sept. 9, and the UK/Euro stint will be with Impure Wilhelmina and MØL, as the band posted on social media:

crippled black phoenix banefyre

YO! ‘Banefyre’! The new full-length is set for worldwide release on September 09, 2022 via Season of Mist and new music will be released soon!

Also.. after reuniting with our friends at Avacado Booking we are simultaneously announcing new European tour dates in support of the new album, together with label mates Impure Wilhelmina and MØL. A full list of confirmed shows can be found below.

The band comments on the album:

“So yeah, this announcement is a pretty special one. The album and the tour! They’re finally happening!

Banefyre, The Musical!

CBP is still alive. Still predictably unpredictable, doing our own thing. Accept no imitation. If you find it necessary to indulge yourself with a full dose of “the Musical!”, you’ll find a fantastic dance of triumph and defeat amongst a starlit atmosphere of deviant Magik. A congregation of outland dwelling characters in tales of caution and of hope, a reflection of human nature, ‘This, a journey through OUR world which only we understand but strikes a chord of lightning blue recognition amongst the crowd.
As satisfying as the longest and most perfect shit.
To coin a phrase.
The Scene.
The Prophet.
The Clown.
The End.”

Special Guests: MØL Impure Wilhelmina
25.08.22 Germany Hannover @ Faust
26.08.22 Germany Hamburg @ Bahnhof Pauli
27.08.22 Denmark Copenhagen @ Hotel Cecil
28.08.22 Germany Berlin @ SO36
29.08.22 Germany Leipzig @ Täubchenthal
30.08.22 Germany Munich @ Backstage
31.08.22 Hungary Budapest @ A38
01.09.22 Austria Vienna @ Chelsea
02.09.22 Italy Bologna @ Link
03.09.22 Switzerland Winterthur @ Gaswerk
04.09.22 France Paris @ Backstage
05.09.22 Germany Cologne @ Essigfabrik
06.09.22 Netherlands Zoetermeer @ Boerderij
07.09.22 UK London @ The Dome
08.09.22 UK Bristol @ The Fleece
09.09.22 UK Manchester @ Rebellion
10.09.22 UK Glasgow @ Classic Grand
(Tickets will be on sale on April 28)

Crippled Black Phoenix, Roadburn – Live Echoes (2019 & 2017)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 60

Posted in Radio on May 28th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

So this is episode 60 of the bi-weekly The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal. Yeah, I know the banner above still says ‘Radio.’ I think it still gets the point across and I haven’t had time to make a new banner. In any case, I never would’ve guessed that I’d still be doing this thing for well over two years at this point. I don’t remember the date of the first episode, but I started keeping track of playlists at episode 06 and that was Dec. 2018. Was a pretty good show, too.

I’m not really doing anything special for the ‘anniversary,’ such as it is. But the show kind of works in stages, pushing into some progressive and/or psychedelic black metal before diving into heavy Americana, melancholia and doom and ultimately rounding out with SÂVER, whose 19-minute “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” was too perfect a capper not to include. It’s something a little different than the usual heavy rock or psych or doom fare, but still tangential. Oh, and The Pecan puts a guest appearance in for the voice tracks. Always nice when he shows up.

Thanks for listening and/or reading. As always, I hope you enjoy.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 05.28.21

Vouna Hightest Mountain Atropos
Archaeopteris Visions Chaotiques Visions Chaotiques d’un Songe Halluncine
Deathspell Omega Renegade Ashes The Furnaces of Palingenesia
Olson, Van Cleef, Williams The Cool Mule Unleash the Hoof’s Revenge
All Them Witches See You Next Fall Nothing as the Ideal
Earth An inquest Concerning Teeth Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method
Crippled Black Phoenix In the Night Ellengaest
Convocation Portal Closed Ashes Coalesce
Enslaved As Fire Swept Clean the Earth Below the Lights
Sur Austru Ucenicii din Hârtop I Obâr?ie
Oranssi Pazuzu Tyhjyyden sakramentti Mestarin kynsi
Glacial Tomb Worldsflesh Worldsflesh
SÂVER Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons Emerald

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is June 11 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Psycho Las Vegas 2021 Announces Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 24th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

If you’re looking for insight into the Psycho Las Vegas 2021 lineup, I have precious little to offer. What started out being accused of being an American answer to Roadburn has become a spectacle unto itself, operating at a scale that’s more in competition with the likes of a heavy metal Riot Fest or Coachella, and has likewise developed a community of its own. As for what catches my eye here, Cephalic Carnage for sure, as well as a few carryovers from what would’ve been 2020, and the likes of The Sword, who I guess are back together now? Fair enough. Oh, and the GZA, for good measure. Katatonia and Mercyful Fate and Elder and a couple others aren’t making the trip, but there’s certainly plenty here to occupy your weekend. If the Vegas-in-August heat don’t melt your brains, the riffs surely will.

What’s a guy gotta do to get invited to do a DJ set at Psycho Las Vegas? I’m gonna send Nate Carson an email and see if he’s got any tips.

Ty Segall next to Satyricon. Fatso Jetson and Profanatica. Immolation and Dengue Fever. The Flaming Lips and Cannibal Corpse. If you’re asking for it to make sense, you’re doing Psycho wrong. This is an event that defines its own parameters.

Approach thusly:

psycho las vegas 2021 banner


America’s rock n’ roll bacchanal returns to Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino August 20th through August 22nd, with another resort-wide casino takeover unlike any of its kind.

Now approaching its fifth year in the swirling neon decadence of Las Vegas, PSYCHO will feature over seventy artists across four stages including the world-class Events Center, the iconic House Of Blues, Mandalay Bay Beach, and the vintage Vegas-style Rhythm & Riffs Lounge in the center of the casino floor.

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2021 will continue to redefine America’s conception of what a festival can be.

Psycho Swim “The Official Psycho Las Vegas Pre-Party”
Old Man Gloom, Bongzilla, Death Valley Girls, Polyrhythmics, The Skull, Blackwater Holylight, Here Lies Man, DJ Scott Seltzer

Emperor, GZA, Mayhem, Obituary, Ty Segall, Satyricon, Watain, Paul Cauthen, The Sword, Cephalic Carnage, Health, The Bridge City Sinners, MGLA, Intronaut, Exhorder, Pinback, King Dude, Khemmis, Mothership, Toke, Lord Buffalo, Psychlona, Claude Fontaine, Hippie Death Cult, Foie Gras, ALMS, Mother Mercury, DJ Ethan MCCarthy, DJ Scott Seltzer, DJ Nate Carson, DJ Painkiller, Danzig, The Flaming Lips, Thievery Corporation, Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Red Fang, Cursive, Pig Destroyer, Poison the Well, Eyehategod, Primitive Man, Death by Stereo, Curl Up & Die, Boysetsfire, Fatso Jetson, Profanatica, Adamantium, Silvertomb, Frankie and the Witch Fingers, Withered, Flavor Crystal, Highlands, Vaelmyst, Black Sabbitch, The Tim Dillon Comedy Hour, Down, Exodus, High on Fire, Osees, Amigo the Devil, Drab Majesty, Crippled Black Phoenix, Weedeater, Full of Hell, Midnight, Repulsion, Cult of Fire, Zola Jesus, Tsol, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Guantanamo Baywatch, Immolation, Dengue Fever, Creeping Death, Kanga, Warish, Glacial Tomb, Relaxer, Vitriol, DJ Scott Seltzer, “Ask Doc” Q&A with Doc Mcghee

Psycho Las Vegas 2019 aftermovie

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Crippled Black Phoenix to Release Painful Reminder / Dead is Dead EP July 16; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

crippled black phoenix

You might recall Crippled Black Phoenix‘s 2020 album, Ellengæst (review here), featured a host of guest singers in place of a permanent male vocalist. It worked, in no small part, because the band’s overarching sound is so consistently and singularly affecting. The UK-based downer rockers have found a new singer in Stockholm, Sweden’s Joel Segerstedt, and will press on with the new two-songer, Painful Reminder / Dead is Dead, this July on Season of Mist.

Segerstedt‘s other band, post-punk rockers The Open Up and Bleeds released a full-length last year titled Exit Lights and Holy Death, and I’ve included that stream below, which I think gives a sense of how Crippled Black Phoenix might’ve heard him sing and thought it would work, and you can hear Segerstedt in the video below for “Painful Reminder,” which is a cover of SNFU, whose frontman Chi Pig passed away last summer.

Info and preorder link and other sundry whatnot came down the PR wire:

crippled black phoenix painful reminder dead is dead

CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX Announces New EP, Reveals First Single

Progressive rock collective CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX will be releasing a new EP, ‘Painful Reminder / Dead is Dead’ on July 16 via Season of Mist! The cover art and track list can be found below. In celebration of the EP, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX has now shared the first single, which is a cover of SNFU’s “Painful Reminder,” along with a music video accompaniment.

In further news, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX is welcoming vocalist/lyricist Joel Segerstedt to the lineup. The band comments:

“The first thing we’re doing after ‘Ellengæst’ is a special single. A cover version of the classic SNFU song ‘Painful Reminder.’ And it features new vocalist/lyricist Joel Segerstedt. He joins the band to be the male voice and the contrast to Belinda Kordic in the female/male dynamic which is now an integral part of the CBP sound. Being a Stockholm resident, it seems all the more serendipitous that we find each other. And after hearing his vocal talent in his other band The Open Up And Bleeds, we knew Joel could be the missing piece of the jigsaw.

“This release is a way of introducing Joel to our crowd while at the same time, paying tribute to the SNFU vocalist Mr Chi Pig. The song was already on the shortlist of cover song ideas Justin (Greaves) keeps in his pocket, but now was the time to do it because of the sad passing of Chi Pig in 2020. It seemed the right thing to pay our respects to a talented and underrated singer/lyricist and unique character in the punk rock world.”

The EP is available now for pre-orders HERE:

1. Painful Reminder (6:18)
2. Dead is Dead (7:40)

Justin Greaves : Guitars, Drums, Bass, Samples, Saw
Belinda Kordic : Vocals, Percussions
Helen Stanley : Grand Piano, Synthesisers, Monochord, Trumpet
Andy Taylor : Guitar, Baritone Guitar, 12 String Guitar
Joel Segerstedt: Vocals, Guitar

Crippled Black Phoenix, “Painful Reminder (SNFU Cover)” official video

The Open Up and Bleeds, Exit Lights and Holy Death (2020)

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